Friday, December 19, 2003

And now, before signing off for a week as the husband and I prepare to evacuate the country of Sweden for the teeming shores of Chicago, I leave you with a profound Christmas thought from the pen of Trey Parker, a little something guaranteed to offend just about everyone:

The Virgin Mary was sleeping
When Angel Gabriel appeared...
He said, 'you are to be the virgin mother'
And Mary thought that was weird..
Mmm mmm mmm mm mmm m mmmmmmm,
M mmmmmm m mmm mmmm mmmm,
But then Gabriel said to Mary,
'My child, have no fear'

Mmm mmm mmmm mmm mmm mmmm mmm mmmm
And still be a virgin, Mary...
mmm mmm mmm mmmmm mmm
And still not be considered flawed...
Mmmm mmm mmmm mmm,
Mmmm mmm mmm
But you're still a virgin
In the eyes of God!

from "The Most Offensive Song Ever" from Mr. Hankey's Christmas Classics

I'm so puerile sometimes.

The Swedish phrase for the day is god jul och gott nytt år. It means, of course, merry Christmas and happy new year.

- by Francis S.

Monday, December 15, 2003

From an interview with Tony Kushner in Mother Jones:

TK:... I have great admiration for the essayists and writers on the left, but the left decided at some point that government couldn't get it what it wanted. As a result, it's a movement of endless complaint and of a one-sided reading of American history, which misses the important point: Constitutional democracy has created astonishing and apparently irreversible social progress. All we're interested in is talking about when government doesn't work.

MJ: When was the last time that a belief in the system paid off?

TK: It was the day they got that fucking Ten Commandments monument out of Alabama. ...

I've always felt that it was the right who had convinced Americans that government was evil, and that rather than making it do what you want it to do, everything should be privatized and that the pressures of the market will fix everything that's wrong with schools, with social services, what have you.

So I shudder to think that Tony Kushner might be correct, and that the left has likewise turned its back on government. But, sadly, I think he's right.

Am I some kind of fool to think that the government isn't an evil entity, that we should put our efforts into making it work better rather than just giving up on it? I guess Tony Kushner wouldn't think so.

The Swedish word for the day is gärna. It's not directly translateable, but my Swedish-English dictionary defines it as with pleasure.

- by Francis S.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

We went on Saturday and saw "Matrix: He Died for Your Sins" with A., the assistant director and her fiancé, C., the fashion photographer. And then we went on Sunday with the H.R. director from work and her husband to see Handel's "Messiah" in the Great Church.

I've never been too keen on Christ stories ever since they made us watch "Cool Hand Luke" every year in English class when I was in high school. (Yeah, it's a classic movie, and Paul Newman looks damn hot, but I hate it.)

Handel definitely has it way over the Wachowski brothers. All that wooden acting, deplorable dialogue, and way too many of those squid things, "Matrix: The Crucifixion" just doesn't cut it.

Give me a baritone ripping his way through "Why do the nations rage so furiously together" any day, no matter how hard those pews are at the Great Church. Handel wins, um, hands down.

The Swedish word for the day is präktig. It means, appropriately, splendid but according to O.P., it is more often used to describe someone who is a boob.

- by Francis S.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Despite the days being veiled in grey, the city has put on all its Christmas finery. There are glittering lights strung everywhere, Christmas markets on various squares, and on Skeppsbron stands the huge, perfect Christmas tree that has been carefully pieced together over the past couple of weeks, the live branches hung on a massive trunk and the whole thing covered in a net of tiny lights - it's so terribly Swedish to want to have a real live tree but to have it perfectly shaped at the same time, then to make the effort to do something so elaborate that ends up with such simple, yet satisfying results. That tree amazes me every year, I feel like a giddy little kid every time I walk past it.

The Swedish word for the day is utmaning. It means challenge.

- by Francis S.

Monday, December 01, 2003


I thought your illness a kind of solvent
dissolving the future a little at a time;

I didn't understand what's to come
was always just a glimmer

up ahead, veiled like the marsh
gone under its tidal sheet

of mildly rippling aluminum.
What these salt distances were

is also where they're going:
from blankly silvered span

toward specificity: the curve
of certain brave islands of grass,

temporary shoulder-wide rivers
where herons ply their twin trades

of study and desire. I've seen
two white emissaries unfold

like heaven's linen, untouched,
enormous, a fluid exhalation. Early spring,

too cold yet for green, too early
for the tumble and wrack of last season

to be anything but promise,
but there in the air was white tulip,

marvel, triumph of all flowering, the soul
lifted up, if we could still believe

in the soul, after so much diminishment ...
Breath, from the unpromising waters,

up, across the pond and the two-lane highway,
pure purpose over the dune,

gone. Tomorrow's unreadable
as this shining acreage;

the future's nothing
but this moment's gleaming rim.

Now the tide's begun
its clockwork turn, pouring,

in the day's hourglass,
toward the other side of the world,

and our dependable marsh reappears
-- emptied of that starched and angular grace

that spirited the ether, lessened,
but here. And our ongoingness,

what there'll be of us? Look,
love, the lost world

rising from the waters again:
our continent, where it always was,

emerging from the half-light, unforgettable,
drenched, unchanged.

Mark Doty, 1995

December 1, World AIDS day. Think about it, link it.

There is no Swedish word for the day.

- by Francis S.