Monday, October 27, 2003

Sitting at brunch with the priest, the policeman and their daughter Signe (who is now exactly one year and two days old, and was appropriately feted on Saturday with three cakes and lots of presents), plus the Dutchman, the architect from San Francisco and C., the fashion photographer, the subject inevitably arose.

"So," the architect asked the priest, in between bites of pancake and chicken hash, "isn't it funny that you're married to a policeman?"

The priest gets this all the time, I have no doubt.

"Actually," she said, reflecting on her duties working at one of the city jails, "we sort of deal with a lot of the same things, except he's supposed to be suspicious of all the people he deals with, and I'm supposed to have faith in them."

The Swedish word for the day fängelse. It means prison.

- by Francis S.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

...snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling, too, upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.

from the short story "The Dead" by James Joyce

Such a melancholy, cinematic story, "The Dead" is.

It snowed all day here, though the ground wasn't cold enough for it to stick much, and the trees are still in full leaf. Inspite of myself, I like it.

The Swedish phrase for the day bland annat. It means among other things.

- by Francis S.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

We went to London to have Asian food. And more Asian food, and even more Asian food. Who would have thought that London would be a hotbed of excellent Asian cooking in über-designed settings that leave one a bit in awe? One would be hard-pressed to find better anywhere else. Woo-ee. It wasn't cheap though.

Afterwards, when we went for a drink to another restaurant known for its outrageous prices, the husband was decidedly disappointed with the egg-shaped toilets, which turned out to be vaguely glorified port-a-potties. Although we did rather enjoy walking ever-so-briefly on the stairs covered in chocolate. Between the retired football player and the fashion editor from Wallpaper, our various hosts and hostesses managed to show us quite the time on the town.

We even managed to wander through Shepherd's Bush, into Holland Park and down to Portobello Road in Notting Hill to catch Mr. Tarantino's latest pic at a movie theater that provides easy chairs for the viewers and serves vodka, which in this case helped temper the violence a bit. But just a bit.

London most definitely is quite the place to be. People from every corner of the world, subway accidents, fabulous wealth. It sure makes Stockholm feel small.

The Swedish word for the day is Storbritannien. It is what the Swedish call Great Britain.

- by Francis S.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

As I walked home today, I passed a man with multiple piercings and wearing a t-shirt that read "I'm better-looking naked" (um, in Swedish of course, which would be "Jag är snyggare naken)."

If only I could say the same about myself. Still, the working out seems to help, even if only to make me feel healthier and oh, so manly.

Tomorrow, we're off to London for a weekend of fun, leaving at the god-awful hour of 6:40 a.m., on account of the cheap tickets.

The Swedish word for the day is hemifrån. It means from home.

- by Francis S.

Monday, October 13, 2003

Europe has become a secular continent. So writes Frank Bruni in the New York Times.

Thank, um, god for that.

I'd posit that some of the worst aspects of American culture - its obsession and squeamishness about sex and all the fallout from this which causes no end of grief for women and homosexualists like myself, just to take one example - come from the insidious influence of religion. And I agree with the article that the church's authoritarian rule over people's lives in Europe in the past is why it is so universally disdained now.

But what the hell is it with America?

[Philip Jenkins] said that for many Americans, the frequency with which President Bush invoked morality and religion in talking about the fight against terrorism was neither striking nor discomfiting. "But in Europe," he added, "they think he must be a religious nut."

My question is, why aren't Americans discomfited by all that Bible thumping? I hate it, and I believe in god, after a fashion, if one can call the collective goodness of human beings god.

- by Francis S.
Taylor House of Crushing Blow asks "What were you doing, or rather, what should you have been doing, with writing when you were sixteen?"

Me, I was dabbling in just about everything, even a little writing. It seems like about everyone else was leading lives of anguish of one sort or another.

Were you all full of anguish when you were 16?

The Swedish word for the day is sexton. It does not mean a church janitor, no, it is the way one spells out the number 16.

- by Francis S.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Next week is Marriage Protection Week in the U.S., by proclamation of George W. Bush, who now has his own blog. (Both links courtesy of the inimitable Erik Stattin.)

So, um, does this mean they're going to round up all the divorced people and put them into internment - uh, I mean, happy fun camps?

Wait, this proclamation is a slap at gay people, the biggest threat to marriage known to man - woman, too! How silly of me.

The Swedish word for the day is hjälp! It means, of course, help!

- by Francis S.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Last week, the husband got free tickets to go see a musical. A Swedish take on Ernst Lubitsch's 1942 movie "To Be or Not to Be." Being a card-carrying homosexualist, I'm not averse to musicals, but this one was vaguely dissatisfying, the songs left no one humming, the dancing was no more than adequate, and neither was the acting. And while the original movie is exempt because it came out before Hollywood was aware of exactly how evil the Nazis were, the toughest thing for me is that the story somehow makes me think of that disgraceful sixties sitcom "Hogan's Heroes": nothing like a bunch of bumbling, slapstick Nazis to get a laugh from an audience, since we all know how bumbling the Nazis were, especially when it came to rounding people up and killing them.

Not to mention the fact that an old flirtation of the husband's was in the cast, sans shirt most of the time. Built like a brick shithouse the man is, a veritable Hercules.

Come to think of it, I hated the musical.

The Swedish word for the day is schack. It means chess.

- by Francis S.

Monday, October 06, 2003

A man for all seasons. That's me. I could never live in California, or any other place where the difference between winter and summer consists of different flowers, or a little more or a little less rain. I need something less subtle than that. Like seas freezing over and snow tumbling from the sky. Or a faint curtain of green appearing on the trees after months of bare brown branches and crocuses popping up underfoot. Or like now, leaves turning gold and scarlet and orange.

Autumn is wonderful. Although I have to admit, I wasn't too keen on this past weekend's building-wide cleaning day in preparation for winter: the neighbors all got together and cleaned out the attic, the cellar and the stairs, sweeping and hauling and vacuuming. Sometimes, I'm not so good at these kinds of group activities. I think to myself, why can't we just pay someone to do it? I'm a lazy American at heart.

The Swedish word for the day is blad. It means, of course, leaf.

- by Francis S.