Friday, November 30, 2007

"give me the child until he is seven and I will give you the man." (in that photo they are 21.)

Over the past few days I have seen almost all of the Up series. (Thank you Netflix.)

The series of documentary films chronicles the lives of a group of English people. A new installment is filmed every seven years. In the first film, from 1964, we meet 7 year old little kids. The most recent one was completed a couple of years ago, when they were 49.

Seeing all the films over a short period of time is really interesting, but also kind of scary. England was, and is, a socially segregated society with a rigid class structure. It's easy to see which ones of the 7-year-olds are working class kids, and which ones are upper class kids. And the same differences are there at 14, 21, 28, 35, 42, and 49 too.

Some of the people are easy to like. You feel for them as kids, and you see the same pain, or struggle, or heart, in the grown ups they become. Or, you hear the little kid formulate an idea, and then you see the 28-year-old act on it.

In some ways their personalities seem stable, in other cases they go through changes. One spoiled little rich girl turns into a fascinating compassionate woman.

I can see parts of myself here and there, and parts of my friends. I think of the people I have known since they were children, and I realize that they too are much the same now, as they were then.

Anyway. Look for it.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

current favorite

Pretty, huh?
I love gallons. When you are a bit sick this is the best stuff. It's the best stuff when you are not sick too, of course.
The tiny bottles look like little apples. You can't tell from this image, but really, they do. Super cute.

hark! those collars!

Monday, November 26, 2007


Q: Why "nationalistic pig"? It sounds so harsh. I get the point, but how about something more like "nationalistic firefly"? Same fierceness and passion I envision with you minus the fat and gluttonous connotations. :)

A: We Swedish people (so it's not just me, and it actually goes for at least the Finns too) tend to apologize when we are nationalistic. We were raised to think that is bad. It comes from wanting to distance ourselves from the nationalistic views of Hitler's Germany. We don't like to wave our flags because that's what the Germans did then, claiming superiority. (My generation was raised to be international-istic, rather than nationalistic, so that comes more easily for us.)

Friday, November 23, 2007

"smells like mexican spirit"

This event is in Sacramento tomorrow, Saturday. (It's sold out.)

That's not the point, though. The point is the completely charming Mexican-American crossover pop culture reference made up by my favorite crossover Mexicano.

Love it.

more raw meat to the people

Steak Tartare is one of my favorite dishes.
Carpaccio too.
And then there was the time not that long ago when the power went out right as Dan and I were cooking dinner. The steaks were in the skillet, and they were cooked on the outside. We started by eating the outer layer of beef. The blackout dragged on, and we were still hungry, so we dug deeper into the meat. In the end, we had finished it all. And boy was it good.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

so here is something to one-up vanessa

My friend Katty ran into Lou Reed at her gym in Göteborg recently.
(Yep, Lou Reed.)
She said: "Nice seeing you here."
(Yep, she spoke.)
He said: "Nice seeing you too."
(Yep, he responded.)
And almost smiled.
(Yep, he almost smiled.)

The receptionist didn't recognize him. She told Katty he was "some American".

Sometimes I think Sweet Jane is the best song ever written.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

from vanessa (why we love him)

"So funny thing... I was walking down Hudson St. in NY couple weeks ago. Saw a man with a ball cap on his cell phone casually leaning against a wall. As I happen to look at him he looks up, eye contact. It's Jon Stewart. He noticed my reaction and said hi. Came over to shake my hand! Hope all is well. :)"

I know I am repeating myself but what do you do when you strike gold?

I am sitting here updating the flight tracker so I'll know when to go pick up Dan, and meanwhile I have been listening to this pure genius show: This American Life 175: Babysitting. It's all good, obviously, but the third part of the show makes your blood run backwards:

Act Three. Myron Jones and his sister Carol Bove explain what happened when they were teenagers, and they ended up babysitting children who didn't exist. (25 minutes)

pet peeve (2). yep, I am that lady. (no, not that lady. besides, that's a porsche.)

One thing that drives me crazy is people who pull up behind someone in a parking lot and wait just so that they can get their spot. When I am stuck behind someone like that, I honk. When I am the person they wait for, I drag my feet. I think they should just drive on, park somewhere else, and walk. It's quicker. And that way they wouldn't involve other people in their quest for prime parking. I don't like it when people drag me into things. I hate it, actually.

I went to Safeway today, and it was an early afternoon day before Thanksgiving frenzy in there. Random people with lists in their hands looking for "sugar" and "cranberries". I had a list in my hand too and at least one person gave me an in-the-club kind of nod.

So I got my things and came back outside again carrying maybe three medium sized bags.

In my cool but tiny car you load groceries into the passenger seat. The trunk is in the front, and it's wide and shallow and nothing will ever stay upright. The backseat, well it's behind the passenger seat, so why bother? The front seat is easier to get to in a two-door.

So I walk to the right side of my car, and as I am trying to find my keys in my bag, I look up. There is a line of four cars behind me. I glance at the first car, and "oh you lazy..." quickly flutter through my mind. At the same time the woman who just parked opposite me comes over and starts talking about when she owned a car just like mine and what year is it? and what happened to the front? I say it's a -72, and that someone punched my car in the nose at some point and took off. Bla bla bla. It's very pleasant. I've had hundreds of conversations like that. Lots of people owned Karmann Ghias when they were younger and get all nostalgic when they see mine.

Then I notice her jeans, and I like them so I give her a compliment. She says those are her 'holiday jeans', and then she takes a final look at my car and says "they say that they have the heart of a Porsche". And at that point I am real close to start talking about the early Karmann Ghias and the relationship to the VW Beetle and Ferdinand Porsche. But I remember the four cars waiting so I just smile and walk over to the other side and get in and back out and drive away. Enough is enough.

Her jeans had embroidery on them, flowers down her left leg. Way cool.

too funny. my favorite radio show on the topic of the greatness of TV. "I would drink jon stewart's bathwater." (me too.)

This American Life 328: What I Learned from Television.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

here she is again, the girl who has been dead longer than she lived

Sometimes people get to my blog through Google. The most common search right now is "butternut squash soup". "Gingerbread house" is popular too.

Once in a while someone searches for "21 shots". That happened again today.

When I see a search like that on my statcounter I always wonder what they were looking for. Were they parents trying to learn something? Kids trying to find out how to do it?

Taking 21 shots of alcohol is sometimes how Americans celebrate their 21st birthday. I wrote about it a year ago, after a friend of mine from high school had sent me a photo.

The girl in the photo was a friend of ours. She died at 19. Her death was alcohol related. She died alone even though people were in the next room. No one checked on her.

Over the past few years I have known people involved in two more similar deaths.

As far as I am concerned, taking 21 shots is pretty much the dumbest thing ever. Alcohol is dangerous. Life is precious.

austin just called me dude

So that's a first.
I am an American now.

that's a fake dry brush. photo shop paint by numbers.

I am watching MASH reruns.
I don't need any other TV.
Oh expect for The Daily Show of course.


Saturday, November 17, 2007

common people

my pet peeve of my pet peeves

Monica inspired me to watch Swedish news online this morning. She had discovered Miro, and I downloaded it also. It seems cool.

Then I went on to the Swedish Television website to see what they had there. And as I was watching a brief news story I realized that in two minutes I had heard three different languages: Swedish, German, and Norwegian. The German and the Norwegian were subtitled. That allowed me to hear the languages and at the same time read the translations. I like that. You always learn something.

American news media rarely let you to hear anything but English. If ever they interview anyone in another language, a voice over English translation drains out the foreign language.

I really dislike that practice. I don't like not being able to hear the original language. And, to me there is a certain amount of oppression in canceling out someone's voice.

The most annoying part of it is that they choose to let people with accents read the voice over translations. Instead of someone speaking their own language, the person who is being interviewed is then turned into someone who speaks English with an accent.

Speaking English with an accent is not neutral. It can connotate anything from lack of status and knowledge, to exotic other-ness. If you speak with an accent you know that, and you will develop strategies to cope with the misconceptions.

"Giving" someone an accent through the use of voice overs turns them into someone they are not. No longer an autonomous original, but rather a failed attempt at being American.

Did anyone ask for that? And, who benefits?

Friday, November 16, 2007

a good guitar too

(Turn off the music player first. Down and to the right.)

'O' for oranges, and for that dry British wit

Yes, it's oranges and black olives salad season. The salad is even better with blood oranges, but the sweet oranges that are in season now work too.

Cut the peel off of a few oranges, slice them thinly, sprinkle with salt, pour some olive oil onto them, and add a few black olives. I like the cured ones, but Greek kalamata olives are good too. Nothing else. It's good stuff.

And for the British wit, O is also for John Oliver, the funniest non-Jon Stewart guy on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

But, what's that on his shoulder? A Crumpler logo! Excellent taste in bags there, Mr. Oliver.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

'A' is for knowing your audience

I accidentally started my ipod from the very top today, so right after Johnny Cash's A Boy Named Sue I got to hear John Cale's A Child's Christmas in Wales. And that was the song I went looking for on, but it's not there. I did find A Boy Named Sue though. Just watch the faces. The interaction between Cash and those boys is very cool.

(Please turn off the music player in the right hand side column below before you start watching.)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

he was elected in 1983

Harold Washington was Chicago's first black mayor. He died 20 years ago. My favorite radio show This American Life did a program about him ten years ago, and then they updated it for the 20 year anniversary. It's a great hour.

There is something - I was going to say refreshing but I think uplifting is really the word - about blunt, down to earth black leaders.

In the radio show you get to hear Washington debate opponents during his first mayoral race. And maybe this is just me, but I know that if there was someone like that around now, someone both willing and able to call a spade a spade, I'd become a citizen right away just so that I could vote for them.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

michelle came across this and loved it. I like it too so I borrowed it.

"Of all the civil rights for which the world has struggled and fought for 5,000 years, the right to learn is undoubtedly the most fundamental... The freedom to learn... has been bought by bitter sacrifice. And whatever we may think of the curtailment of other civil rights, we should fight to the last ditch to keep open the right to learn, the right to have examined in our schools not only what we believe, but what we do not believe; not only what our leaders say, but what the leaders of other groups and nations, and the leaders of other centuries have said. We must insist upon this to give our children the fairness of a start which will equip them with such an array of facts and such an attitude toward truth that they can have a real chance to judge what the world is and what its greater minds have thought it might be."

~ W.E.B. Du Bois (in the photo at age 4)

that's the author, right there. she made it. susanna alakoski.

I just finished reading a novel that is a devastating account of what it might be like to grow up the child of alcoholic parents. The novel is in Swedish, and it's called Svinalängorna. The title compares the low income housing where the family lives to rows of pig sties. Supposedly the term was used in the author's childhood by social services employees, referring to her neighborhood.

The book was hard to get through. It describes the family's life in blunt and sordid detail. The main character is a young girl and it is easy to identify with her. She tries to keep things in order, cleans the family's apartment, brings part of her school lunch home to feed their dog, tries (unsuccessfully) to keep her dad from beating up her mom, and tries (unsuccessfully) to keep her mom from swallowing too many pills.

I have read reviews that talk about the story's 'dark humor', but I really couldn't find any. I didn't laugh. I didn't smile. I was scared. Every time Leena had a tummy ache I had one too.

Many kids grow up the same way, right now, all over the world.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

no smell of cedar, though

I was in the park yesterday and I found a bunch of these things on the ground. There were underneath a particular tree, and obviously they had fallen from it. I thought they were pretty, so I was picking and picking. I had to make a little bag from my bandanna so I could carry them home.

I googled just now and they are actually referred to as 'cedar roses'. Meaning they are from the cedar, and they look like roses. They do, huh?

They make me feel oddly crafty, so we'll see what I'll make with them. The littler ones are going in the advent candle holder for sure. (Dec. 2, first Sunday of Advent, there will be pictures to prove it.)

this american life, indeed

This American Life is the best radio show ever. You Swedish people will just have to believe me. Documentaries, off beat documentaries, stories, it's all great. Today I heard the stories of children whose parents were murdered. Last week something about people and their pets.

All shows are available as podcasts (yep, go ahead and click on that link, Swedish people). If you really want to get lost, there is an endless archive.

this is funny and sad. thanks johan f. for sending it to me.

To watch, please first turn off the music player in the right hand margin below.

Friday, November 09, 2007

cool as a mountain stream

(To listen, please turn off the music player in the right hand side column below.)

brought to you by the ever helpful facebook

Top music in the Santa Clara Network

1. The Beatles
2. Led Zeppelin
3. Coldplay
4. Queen
5. Pearl Jam

Really? Really?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

I don't know why I like these so much. they are from the uc santa cruz campus. but that's not the reason.


she did it

I got an email today that was intended for someone else. It was one of those group emails that you send out to your friends all in one go.

The email contained a youtube link to a home movie about a woman completing the New York marathon. I am not posting it because that is not my decision to make, but I really liked the film. It's pretty short and mostly shows 'Lauren' running and complaining, while you can hear her male friend the amateur film maker cheering her on.

After she has finished the race a couple of girls, maybe her high school students, give her a poster saying 'A+'. It's sweet.


While I didn't get the gingerbread house, I did get one of those boxes of chocolate truffles at Trader Joe's yesterday. And I have eaten every single one myself. (Dan is in Denver.) (Where, apparently, and at least according to themselves, they have the best tap water in the nation. But that's another story.)

what you learn from those literary types

This little tidbit from one of my Doris Lessing mailing lists:

"Be curious, not judgmental."
Walt Whitman

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

we do love that cinnamon

So I went to IKEA and I didn't get a gingerbread house kit.

But then I went to Trader Joe's and there I saw a small Indian girl picking out one of their gingerbread house kits. That's the one I want now. I am so getting it.

It's funny because Swedish Christmas and Indian food have the same spices and sometimes smell the same. I wonder if she thought of that.

Sorry, I realized I just claimed gingerbread. Maybe I have no right to do that. But it is pretty Swedish, right?

Saturday, November 03, 2007

pretty pretty, but steep steep

The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park in Aptos, Calif. The epicenter of the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989. (I had no idea.)

yes, I am one of them

I'd like to report these facts:

- The Doris Lessing Appreciation Society group on Facebook has 17 members.
- Raisins, Stay the Fuck Out of My Cookies has 21 179 members.
- Legalize Same-Sex Marriage has 103 734 members.

and I petted a koala, and said hi to a kangaroo

I have only been to Australia once, and I went by myself. It was years ago.

On the flight from LA to Sydney I sat next to a guy who was returning home from a six months long trip around the world.

He told me he worked at the Sydney Opera House. "But we refer to it as the Hanging Gardens of Babylon", he said. "And I visited Torquay on my trip. I had to see it."

That's a reference to the John Cleese TV series Fawlty Towers. The series is set on the south coast of England, and Cleese plays the erratic hotel owner Basil Fawlty. When a guest complains about the view from his room, Basil goes off in a tirade: "May I ask what you were hoping to see out of a Torquay bedroom window? Sydney Opera House perhaps? The Hanging Gardens of Babylon?"

So I laughed at the Hanging Gardens of Babylon joke. I thought that was funny.

The point though was that the guy used the phrase ironically. He didn't like his job at the opera house. He did either lights or sound, I don't remember which. He said no one liked working there. They all took turns traveling around the world for months at a time.

And I was thinking, isn't it funny how someone working inside one of the most famous buildings in the world can't wait to get away? And go see for himself a Torquay bedroom window, out of which you see nothing. Not even the slimmest strip of the sea.

Friday, November 02, 2007

ok this outfit is silly but silly is contagious too and that is a good thing

I saw a preview for a Johnny Depp movie this afternoon. And I was thinking that the thing about Johnny Depp is that he is attractive in a way that makes others feel attractive too. With some pretty people it's the opposite; their beauty makes you feel ugly. Not him. The glow is contagious.

Or maybe this is just me. Never mind.

and I love love love those 1970s cars

Overall I liked American Gangster. Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe are both good. But there is a bunch of other characters that aren't that memorable, and 2 hours and 40 minutes is a long time to spend with them.

It's worth it for the final image though. It was really cool.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

I didn't even recycle the bottle because I thought it would contaminate the rest of the plastic

I bought a bottle of water today that I thought was just water with a hint of lemon. I was wrong. The bottle had water in it, and lemon, and a cup or so of Splenda. It was really really sweet. I have no idea what they were thinking when they made that one up.

- What do people want when they are thirsty?
- Oh, maybe something that looks like water, but then hits them with the sugary punch of three Halloween nights? But without the calories?

I didn't remember the brand, so I googled 'bottled water with lemon and Splenda', and the first hit I got was the correct one. Never ever buy this.


A friend of mine I haven't seen in 15 years went on to be a film producer. A couple of years ago she made a movie about a girls' punk band in the 1980's. I just watched it. It was a weird experience. Lovely, but weird.

For one thing, I think they had used old photos of my friend for one of the main character's eye make up. It was like seeing her in 1987, down to the last little strokes of eye liner. And there were lots of other references too: the clothes, the music, the clubs, the pretentious boyfriends, the sublet apartments. The teased hair. Walking to someone's house when you want to talk to them. I shrieked. Dan looked at me.

Tjenare Kungen (God Save the King), 2005.