Monday, October 31, 2011

Books I've read in 2011 - October

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill
Det ufattelige var sant by Walter Laqueur
Motstand by Owen Sheers - AUDIO
Ravnene av Vidar Sundstøl - AUDIO
Den hellige liga, volume 3 by Alexandre Dumas
Norsk litteraturhistorie fritt etter hukommelsen
by Knut Nærum - AUDIO
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen - AUDIO
Döda vita män by Johan Hakelius
Jane Austen. A Life by Claire Tomalin
Dreadfully Ever After by Steve Hockensmith
Prosten og hans forunderlige tjener by Arto Paasilinna - AUDIO
On Beauty by Zadie Smith - AUDIO
Småtrollene og den store oversvømmelsen
by Tove Jansson - AUDIO
The Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith
Gutten i graven ved siden av by Katarina Mazetti
Den tionde kretsen by Jodi Picoult

And happy birthday to Anne Ida!!! :-)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Friday, October 28, 2011

A promise

If I survive this weekend, I will tell you a pretty crazy story. :-)

Have a good one!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Popcorn, anyone?

An interesting article in Aftenposten online today about movie theaters in Oslo and their development over the years. From movie theaters to popcorn machines. :-) Good reading and some interesting points raised. You should read it. :-)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A wonderful biography

Jane Austen is one of the most fascinating historical figures I know. Someone who lived such a limited life, and had such enormous creative power. Imagine what she could have achieved if she had lived in our time, and had all the options available to women now that were only flights of fancy - if that - in hers. Or ... ? Maybe she would have been distracted by all the myriad, well, distractions that are almost ubiquitous now ... the constant media barrage you can't get away from, the social and commercial pressures on women that I'm sure Austen would have chafed under, and so on. Maybe her creativity would have found easier outlet in our time, but maybe it would have dispersed to many little trickles rather than the great force it became while she lived. I really don't know.

Whatever she might have been, she really was a fascinating person. If you want to learn more about her and her time and society, and be hugely entertained too, then you should keep an eye out for this book. Wonderful. :-)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

When I grow up ...

... I want to get a job in the equal rights factory. I just need to learn a little bit about the trade first, like what measurement unit is used for equal rights.

Is this guy trolling now, or what is this?

Our high percentage of women in the workplace is one of the most important reasons why our economy is so much better than in other countries. Srsly? It's not because of the oil?

This is why this nation is going to have an absolutely brutal awakening the day that very finite resource runs out. We don't have leaders, or politicians generally, that talk about what really needs doing and how we can get it done. What are we going to live on when the oil's all gone? Seriously? Sure, he's not saying that the oil isn't important. Just that equal rights are more important. o_O Having women work and pay taxes, and not just men, means a lot more resources being pumped into our economy. I get that that's what he's saying. But.

Isn't it the case right now that something like 75% of all Norwegian women above the age of 20 are actually already in the workforce? I think that in the age group 30-49 it's 80%, or maybe even closer to 85%. So how much exactly does Lysbakken think we have to go on? The overwhelming majority of Norwegian women already work. I despair at a leading figure in national politics actually thinking that that is the issue.

Then again, anyone who'd name their child 'Aurora' clearly has some kind of problem.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Sukk

Når jeg leser sånt som dette skammer jeg meg over at jeg noengang har stemt på SV.

Audun Lysbakken, SVs sikreste vei rett under sperregrensa. Det er nok muligens like bra.

Friday, October 21, 2011

A funny story

Or maybe it isn't funny, maybe it's more kind of sad and pathetic. But here it is.

Yesterday at work O. and I were talking about the certain kind of helplessness that is typically found in a certain generation of men. Basically, our fathers' generation. :-) A customer got us to thinking about it. O.'s mother passed away when he was just in his early twenties, and he told me how he and his brother, who had both left home by then, were pretty frustrated by his father being extremely impractical with cooking and things like that which his wife had normally taken care of. This reminded me of a true story from my own life. My mother's still alive of course, so my father hasn't had to learn how to cook. >:-) But he can cook a few things. Like pancakes. Or so I thought.

Back when I lived with my parents, we used to always have pancakes one day a week, the day when my mother worked late. I would get home first and make the batter. It should sit for a while, so I used to leave it until my father got home ... then he would fry enough pancakes for the two of us and we'd eat together. My mother would get home a couple of hours later and fry up the rest of the batter for herself, so she'd get fresh pancakes too. It was a perfect scheme. :-) Then one day the following happened.

I was delayed one day on pancake day, so that I only got home almost an hour after my father did. I sent him a message about it, he said OK, so I figured that by the time I arrived he would have the pancakes ready and we could just eat. But no. Nothing was ready. He was just sitting in his easy chair reading the newspaper. I asked where dinner was, hadn't he made any pancakes? No, of course not. He couldn't. There wasn't any batter ...

So that was kind of messed up, IMO. But this afternoon at the grocery store, the guy ahead of me in line - he was about my father's age, what a coincidence - was buying ready made pancakes. Seriously. They were vacuum packed ... I'm not sure how many were in each package, looked like about ten, and he was getting three or four packages. OH MY FUCKING GOD. What is wrong with people???*

If this is where the bar is set my dad could become a chef in his old age. o_O



*What's wrong with people is that everybody complains that food is so expensive in this country, and then there is actually a market for ready made pancakes. Fuck you, my fellow Norwegians. You need professional help.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Quote of the Week

APOSTATE, n.: A leech who, having penetrated the shell of a turtle only to find that the creature has long been dead, deems it expedient to form a new attachment to a fresh turtle.
Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Vintage lizard!

Ooh, check it out ... ! Very cool postcard that I got from Daïre in Estonia on my birthday last week. Isn't it fantastic? Black and white works incredibly well in photographing reptiles sometimes ... it's to do with how it shows light and shadow on their bodies, I think. Kind of chiaroscuro, if that's the word I want. :-)

Pretty sure this is 'just' a regular bearded dragon, Pogona vitticeps or some related species. But it's still wonderful. Hey, there's a reason why they're so popular.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I love dogs, but ...

... I really wouldn't want this one. Ick. Who wants that in their house? I wouldn't be able to sleep at night. And that thing would probably be standing at the foot of the bed staring at me.

Make sure to check out the alternative captions, there are some really good ones. Free puppy - the assassinations cost extra.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Do you know ...

... what people who work in emergency rooms call people like Keanu Reeves?

Donorcyclists.

Yeah, I know, he wears a helmet when he rides in California. (Which I assume was in fact the body that passed the helmet law, and not the city of L.A.) But he'd rather not. That's pretty pathetic. To borrow the immortal words of Jerry Seinfeld: a brain so stupid it doesn't even try to prevent the cracking of the skull that it's in.

Weird, because Keanu is mostly a really smart guy. But even smart people can be really really dumb sometimes.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Quote of the Week

I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of anything than of a book!
Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Saturday, October 15, 2011

'Rockeulven'

So, we went to see it last night, and I gotta tell you, it is FANTASTIC. We all agreed that it exceeded our very high expectations. Everything was fabulous. There was really nothing I could put my finger on and say that this was a weak point. Totally and absolutely fantastic. You must see it. :-)

The plot has been changed a bit from the movie (and when I say the movie, I'm talking about the English language version which is the only one I have seen - I know that the Russian and Romanian ones have different storylines, but I've never had the chance to see them), there are fewer characters and they've sort of thrown the music about a bit. The same songs pop up several times in different scenes. That actually works really well. Since it's partly for children (there were a LOT of adults in the audience ;-) I'm sure it's a good choice to keep familiar things coming back like that. The music is so fantastic that hearing it over again is never annoying, only wonderful. :-)

The costumes are just to die for ... they are all so well done, emphasising the exact right traits to make each of the characters convincing as whatever animal they are supposed to be, as well as keeping the 70s look just right for the movie fans. The costume department must have had soo much fun making them. :-) Hair and makeup are all great too. I really loved the white hair on the Hens. :-)

The scenography is brilliant, fantastically well done ... very simple, the stage is kept almost bare, but soo suggestive, you never wonder what it is you're seeing, even when there's hardly anything there. I'm pretty sure that would have been the same even if we hadn't seen the movie. The few set pieces there are are extremely evocative and really brings the scenes to life, even as simple as they are. Absolutely wonderful. Of course I expect that, it's the National Theater, but even so I was impressed.

What really made this so perfect though was the cast. O.M.G. I hardly know what to say. Absolutely everyone was absolutely fantastic. :-) Not a single person could have been better. That is extra impressive because there are children playing some roles ... the Lamb, the Piglet and the Chicken are played by adults, but for obvious reasons the three kid goats have to be played by real children. (If I tell you why that's obvious, I'd be revealing too much of the plot, so sorry, you'll just have to go see for yourselves. ;-) And they were pretty young children - one of them, the littlest goat, can't have been more than five, six at most. She was still really really good. She didn't just say the lines that she'd been taught, as most children that age will do (even in legitimate theater), she really acted her part. A very talented girl. Although if the one we saw was Elsa Døvigen-Ousdal (there are three children for each of these three parts) she clearly has acting talent in her genes. ;-)

Since it's the National Theater, you expect some big names ... but in a play like this, maybe not so much. Well, they're here, though. Quite a few big names, some very big. Lasse Lindtner, Anne Marie Ottersen, Anne Krigsvoll, Mari Maurstad, Kjersti Elvik, Finn Schau, Anne Marit Jacobsen ... the latter in one of the best roles of her career. She plays the Chicken. She is beyond fantastic. I'd go so far as to say that she's perfect.

All the actors do a marvellous job, really showing the species characteristics of each animal that we need to recognize them. The four Hens are really wonderful. Lena Kristin Ellingsen and Øystein Røger are fantastic as the Goat and the Wolf. But the one I have to really point out is someone I can't say I am familiar with at all - Tor Ivar Hagen, who I never heard of but suspect may be on loan from Trøndelag Theater, where this play was first produced, and where he also played the same role. He is totally and completely amazing as the Donkey. He IS the Donkey. His costume and hair is one of the absolute best in the entire production, so of course that helps a lot, but it's also his face, his delivery and first and foremost his body language that just makes him be this character. He totally blew me away. This production is almost worth seeing for him alone. o_O

I have to apologize that this post is so laden with superlatives, but I can't help it ... this thing really deserves every last one of them. And more. I'm tempted to use the a-word. If you love musical theater and you have any chance whatsoever of getting to Oslo, you MUST see this. Seriously. You must see it. You can buy tickets at the theater's website, here. GO AND BUY YOUR TICKET!!

Don't forget that half an hour before showtime they sell whatever tickets are left at half price. ;-)

A tiny glimpse from the show here - the Goat teaching the kids the secret song:



Just outside, in the background, you can see the Donkey as he listens and relays the lyrics to the Lynx and the Wolverine, as part of their nefarious scheme to help the Wolf gain access to the Goat's house and eat the innocent little kids. :-D

Fullscreen here.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

An episode

An episode which happened to me at work today, with a customer who I think maybe had an episode. :-D

This guy comes in pretty often, he's in charge of purchases for a division of one of our biggest customers. I've talked to him a hundred times and of course I know his name. And he knows that I know it. So this was kind of weird.

He came in to pick up some stuff and buy a few things, and also to bring in a power tool that needed repairs. Whenever I get anything in for repair I fill out a form on it, with info on what is wrong and the customer's contact information and so on. So I wrote down the company name and the guy's last name. Let's call him John Smith. So we're looking at the paper where I've just written 'Smith,' - he's seeing it upside down of course, but still, it's his own name. Then the following was said:

Me: So, your phone number, what's that again?
Customer: Smith!
Me: No, I already have your name, I meant your phone number.
Customer: John!
Me: ... Still need the phone number.
Customer: Oh, right. Let's see [tells me the number, which I write down].

He had a younger colleague with him, to help carry I guess; he was really laughing, he even asked the guy, Did you just have a stroke or something? :-) Sure, we shouldn't be laughing at stroke patients, but on the other hand, if you can't laugh, what can you do? (Take up politics, perhaps.) And it was pretty funny at the time. This is such a crazy busy week that I don't have time to blog about anything serious. :-)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Miss Austen, WTF?

So, I'm rereading Pride & Prejudice. An audio version this time, that I got over at emusic. It's the sixth or seventh time I've read it. One of the hallmarks of great literature is supposedly that no matter how many times you read it, there's always something new to discover. And this time, I actually did notice something in the story that I've never picked up on before. It's so weird that I think I must have misheard. One of you other Austen fans, help me out here.

Right, so, after the shit hits the fan with the Bingleys, a few weeks later it's Christmas, right? The Gardiners come up from London for the holidays. Jane is feeling blue and Elizabeth and Mrs Gardiner decide that she should go stay with them in town for a while. So after Christmas they take her back to London with them. Then nothing much happens in January and February, but in March, Lizzie's going with William and Maria Lucas to visit Charlotte. On the way they spend one day and night in London, and of course they stay the night in Gracechurch Street. The Gardiner kids are excited about the guests arriving, especially Lizzie because she's such a favorite. But they're still a little shy with her at first, because, and this is what I think I must have misheard, they haven't seen her for like a year. WTF?

Is Austen really saying that Mr and Mrs Gardiner went off at Christmas to spend the holidays with their favorite relatives and have fun in the countryside, and left their children at home?

I always read them as really good parents, but now I have to reconsider. o_O

Monday, October 10, 2011

Samurai ... !!

Keanu with a fan on set of 47 Ronin. I'm really looking forward to seeing that movie. :-)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Quote of the Week

Nothing amuses me more than the easy manner with which everybody settles the abundance of those who have a great deal less than themselves.
Jane Austen, Mansfield Park

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Mmm, mias!!

Hvem liker vel ikke mias??

Mais derimot er ikke jeg så kjempefan av, men hver sin smak.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Thursday, October 6, 2011

WHY can't there be a rule ...

... that says that before you can write about something in the newspapers, you have to show that you actually understand what you're talking about?

This happens all the time, I've ranted about it before too, maybe not in so many words, but it's part of what I mean when I talk about how debates are skewed because we focus on the wrong things. We can't discuss matters properly when the starting point is wrong; we end up talking about the wrong things. Here's a good example. Inger Anne Olsen, who I usually never agree with, writes about children produced through surrogacy and the difficult legal situation surrounding them.

Information for foreigners: Surrogacy is illegal in Norway, which means that this difficult situation is created by the parents who use surrogacy - it's legal in a number of US states, it's legal in India, so they blithely assume that Norwegian authorities will just accept the fait accompli when they show up with their babies. Fortunately it's not quite that easy.

Because of a few high profile cases, there was quite a bit of debate of this issue earlier this year. Feelings ran high, of course. Didn't make the debate any better; rather the opposite. There were a lot of assumptions made that either were blatantly wrong or didn't make sense, which, as you can imagine, drove me up the wall sometimes. :-) One of the wrongheaded assumptions that keep popping up is about the fact that the rules about who is the mother of a child, and who the father, are supposedly so rigid in this country. (Although they're the same rules as almost everywhere else, AFAIK.) The woman who gives birth to the child is its mother; her husband is its father, unless some other man should actively dispute this. This is, according to the surrogacy advocates, so incredibly old-fashioned and behind the times. How is it possible for a woman whose DNA is in a baby to not be the mother? How dares the state deny her her rights!!1 o_O

This is what so many people don't get, and it seriously annoys the shit out of me. Olsen doesn't get it either. She really takes it a step further though - she writes, get this:

The rule about the mother has its roots in simple biological conditions. The rules about who the father is cement monogamy as the ideal, preserves male control over the woman's offspring and her body, and also preserves society's need for system and order.

WTF??? I consider myself a feminist, but seriously, Olsen needs to get her head out of her ass.

She's vaguely right about the last point, but not for the reason she thinks. And she's right about the first point too - but again, for a different reason than she thinks. Here's the deal, and I don't know how it's possible to not understand this:

Parents don't have rights. Children have rights - parents only have duties. Any child has the right to parents, but no parent has any rights to a child. Not in this country. That's why we call the Child and Parent Act simply the Child Act for short - because it regulates the rights of the child and the duties of the parents, and the former are the most important. Since Norwegian children have various rights, first and foremost the right to have parents and to receive proper care from them, the state, whose duty it is to maintain these rights, must have some way of enforcing them. In other words, legal parents must be provided - eg, the state must know where to place the paternal responsibility, it must know whose these duties will be in the eyes of the law. Therefore, pater est. Because the law really only cares about the law. The state gives the child legal parents - people who are legally obliged to provide the care the child needs. What more is the law supposed to do?

The surrogacy advocates seem to be struggling with the misapprehension that the law can regulate biological parenthood. What can I say, they're wrong. The law is what we have for the legal stuff. And if you're a parent, it doesn't give you any rights. I have to say I think it's pretty incredible that someone can be so involved in this debate, and so much a part of it, that they actually go all the way to producing a child via a surrogate mother, and they still don't understand this basic point.

Kinda makes you wonder about some people.

In other news, I'm curious to see who will be named for this year's Nobel Peace Prize tomorrow. Thorbjørn Jagland was on the Daily Review tonight talking about how living up to the Will is such a big priority for the Committee. So I'm fully expecting their choice to be something seriously fucked up. :-D

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Cutest thing on TV

At least right now, because of course there are many adorable things on TV. :-)

If you're interested in dogs, or puppies, or cute animal babies in general, and you're in Norway, I'm sure you're already watching The Litter. Aren't you?? OMG, you've got to watch it!! Tonight was the second episode (second of eight) but you can see both episodes so far on NRK online, here. There'll be reruns of tonight's episode as well, two, I think. At least one on Saturday. You should definitely watch it, it's totally adorable. :-)

It's a reality show, I guess you have to call it, but there's no competition element. Basically a dog has a litter of puppies and they all go to new homes, where their new families have to adjust to having them around. Which in my experience is a little challenging, but a lot of fun. :-) The show is a little special for me because the dogs are English cocker spaniels, and that's the breed my dog was. Some of the puppies even seem to be the same color she was, blue roan. That's when they have black fur in patches interspersed with patches of white, and the white patches have black hairs in them as well. It looks kind of grey at a distance, but it isn't really. :-) I say they seem to be blue roan because it's hard to tell when they're babies; the black hairs in the white grow out over time, they start out black and plain white. So we'll see. But seeing those little critters run around and play and squabble really takes me back. And even if you don't have any nostalgic feelings like that, puppies are still adorable. So you should check out this show. I'm loving it. :-)

Monday, October 3, 2011

Hmm, TIFF

Now that's someplace I'd really like to go. Well, not so much a place as an event. But still. Looks like 2009 might have been a good year.

I was away over the weekend, at our summer house in Sweden ... had an absolutely lovely time there, I love that place already. :-) And it's not really a summer house even, it has electricity and plumbing and everything, you could live there all year if you wanted. Which we don't. But still. I like it. :-)