Saturday, February 28, 2009

We sat in the Korean restaurant across from the movie theater on Birger Jarlsgatan, me with my chop chae, A. the TV producer and O. her stepdaughter having some kind of salmon thing with lots of vegetable-y stuff, bowls of kimchee and sauces in front of us, surrounded mostly by what must surely be the entire Korean population of Stockholm.

"You know it's good Korean food if the restaurant is filled with Koreans," O. said.

"They have a sign on the bathroom that's only in Korean," A. said. "I can't believe it's not in Swedish, too. And then there's another sign inside that's also only in Korean! What do you think it means?"

We ate our food and ran over to the movie theater across the street, to watch the nine o'clock showing of the much-touted Milk, which opened in Sweden yesterday.

As we sat in the audience, I looked around me, noting that unlike the Korean restaurant, the crowd for this very gay movie was decidedly non-gay. Did this mean the movie wouldn't be as good as if it were a gay audience?

"How do you know there are no gay people?" A. asked. "People probably think we're a couple seeing this movie with our daughter. All these people could be just friends you know."

Well, I thought. Maybe not those people next to us kissing, nor the people next to them kissing. All this kissing - I guess they were making sure that we didn't mistake them for being just friends? 

Um, probably not.

Despite the crowd being overwhelmingly not gay for this very gay movie, it almost lived up to the hype. Almost.

The Swedish word for the day is likartad. It means of a similar kind.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Sweden is all abuzz.

After years of lobbying, the crown princess at last has convinced her parents to let her marry the man she loves. Who was her personal trainer. But, don't get the wrong idea. This guy isn't a hunk. He's kind of a schlub as far as I can tell. Keeps his nose clean though - the tabloids haven't managed to catch him doing anything unsavory. He's curiously bland. Which is perhaps in part why the king and queen finally caved in.

Prince Daniel.

It's kind of sweet. And of course it's spurring the usual debates about why the hell Sweden continues with the curious institution of monarchy at all.

If you ask me, there's something to be said for having a queen to hang your patriotism on. Maybe if America had a queen, people would vote for the wisest guy instead of the folksiest guy who can sing "God Bless America" most convincingly. And we never would have gotten stuck with Bush the Second or Ronald Reagan (whose reputation has been amazingly rehabilitated: Has everyone forgotten about the people he surrounded himself with, great moral leaders like Ed Meese, Cap Weinberger and Ollie North?)

Of course some people claim America does have a queen, they just can't agree on who she might be: Lady Bunny? Rufus Wainright? Dana Elaine Owens?

The Swedish word for the day is skvaller. It means gossip.

Monday, February 16, 2009

I always like to tell the husband, as we walk down the street past a smug baby being wheeled in its stroller (and Stockholm has more smug babies in strollers than you could shake a very, very big stick at): Wouldn't it be fun to have an adult-sized stroller, with a huge nursemaid to push you around wherever you directed her to push you?

As if being a baby were all about being the boss of the world, as opposed to a life reduced to wailing to let the world know that one of your basic needs isn't being met and there is nothing you can do about it.

Take the poor baby in the apartment below ours. Well, really, his poor parents and siblings (four of them!) I mean. Because he's taken to crying late into the night, the kind of cry that escalates into an inconsolable rage that just goes on and on and on until he runs out of air, and then he begins again.

Do parents ever commit suicide from a baby screaming like that? Or are they more likely eventually to try shaking the baby into submission?

I would've thought that human beings had naturally selected out those angry raging-type babies by now.

And I've got to let go of that bizarre adult-sized stroller fantasy joke thing. It's just stupid and, well, kind of creepy, really.

The Swedish word for the day is barnvagn. It means stroller.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Can you believe it, I've gone graphic?!?

It wasn't an easy decision, in my tiny blogging world.

But what, you non-Swedes may ask, does that strange-looking tube of toothpaste have to do with learning Swedish the hard way?

That is no toothpaste. It is a tube of fish roe, mixed with sugar, salt, tomato paste and potato flakes. And for me, more emblematic of Sweden than just about anything else, including the flag, Crown Princess Victoria, H&M or a Volvo 740. Probably even more of a true symbol of Sweden than Abba is. The only thing equal to Kalles Kaviar would be Ikea. But who wants a picture of Ikea on the top of their blog when a tube of Kalles Kaviar is so much more graphically pleasing?

And somehow, more appropriate, since it is perhaps as difficult a taste to acquire as the Swedish language. (Although to be honest, I've always rather liked it squeezed onto a boiled egg instead of salt.)

The Swedish word for the day is ikoniskt. It means, of course, iconic.