Monday, December 24, 2007

Whence comes this rush of wings afar,
Following north the noel star?
Birds from the woods in wondrous flight,
Bethlehem seek this holy night.

The Swedish word for the day is julafton, which has been the word of the day before more than I once, I suspect. It means Christmas Eve, which is when Swedes celebrate.

Happy Christmas to you all.

- by Francis S.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Supposedly, they are in memory of a third-century saint who had her eyes plucked out, but the Swedish celebrations honoring Lucia on her Saint's day, December 13, are really just the remnants of pagan mid-winter rites. A fact that I love. Girls in white dresses with wreathes on their heads and candles burning in their hair - it's very, er, druidic, isn't it? And this morning when I made my way past the main city library and on into the park beyond on my way to work, I found the pathways lit with thick-wicked candles in tins, blazing away in the murky winter morning dimness. It made my heart glad, it did.

Natten går tunga fjät runt gård och stuva
kring jord som sol'n förgät skuggorna ruva
Då i vårt mörka hus stiger med tända ljus
Sankta Lucia, Sankta Lucia.

The night walks heavily round hearth and home,
Around the earth the sun leaves the woods brooding
Then in our dark houses walks, bearing burning candles,
Saint Lucy, Saint Lucy.

There, you have the whole verse of a Swedish song for the day!

- by Francis S.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Rufus Wainwright's voice is an acquired taste. Like black coffee or stout, dry vermouth on the rocks or oysters on the half shell. Some people never acquire it.

Me, I'm smitten.

I think it's the way his gravelly baritone and the intensely personal poetry of his words contrast with all that velvety rich campy goodness of his manner that does it for me.

Mr. Wainwright was in grand form last night at Cirkus in Stockholm (the perfect venue - as big as you can get while still being intimate). He was unfaltering: a bit of razzle dazzle, a bit of heartbreak, a bit of angry politics, the songs lush, brash or meltingly beautiful. He is a consummate musician.

I even forgave him coming out in the second half of the concert in lederhosen, a look that no one can really pull off, God only knows what possessed him to try (there's something vaguely national socialistic about lederhosen, isn't there? In his defense, he did say something about not being able to afford a video and his cheap alternative is costumes at his shows to add glamor and interest, which did make me laugh). He can, however, pull off the black- sheer- stockings- staggering- pumps- fedora- and- suitcoat- without- trousers look, which he did at the end of his encore, channelling Judy Garland singing "Get Happy," complete with his band jumping wildly around him, dressed in black suits and pink button-down-collar shirts.

The husband, A. the TV producer and I wafted out of the theater on a glittery cloud of bliss.

Oh, Mr. Wainwright. You're really something, you are.

The Swedish word for the day is euforisk. It means euphoric, of course.

- by Francis S.