Tuesday, March 29, 2005

RTW 13: Auckland

The final NZ stop of my Round-the-world trip was Auckland. I had far too many days in Auckland - as a matter of fact, I almost felt that I was just spending time waiting to get to Tahiti. On TV Bush's rockets hit Baghdad and outside it was raining...

Well, I'm exaggerating, as always. I saw a couple of good movies ("The Pianist" and "Chicago"), went to a good museum (Maritime Museum or something like that) - which even included a sailboat trip in the harbour - and I went to the park.

Actually, the best memory of my stay in Auckland was going to the Domain on a Sunday. I had heard rumours that there would be a free concert, and followed the sound of music... It was wonderful to rest and listen to live jazz music in the late summer evening.

I also went to the "Auckland War Memorial Museum", which was far less interesting than expected - the most interesting bits were the Maori Treasures, but even this didn't really catch my fancy (after all, I'd been to museums in Dunedin, Christchurch and Wellington before this one...)

All in all, Auckland was quite ok, but nothing to go to the other side of the globe for...

Previous installments on my trip:
RTW 12: Rotorua
RTW 11: Napier
RTW 10: Wellington
RTW 9: Arthur's Pass
RTW 8: Christchurch
RTW 7: Queenstown
RTW 6: Dunedin
RTW 5: Sydney
RTW 4: Singapore
RTW 3: Mauritius
RTW 2: Réunion
RTW 1: Johannesburg

Alphabet test

Write the first word you think of for every letter of the alphabet.


(The Norwegian characters are of course only for Norwegians...)

Monday, March 28, 2005

Adoption: Rupert Graves

As everyone can see in the margin of my blog, I've "adopted" Rupert Graves at Adopt-a-celeb.

I don't think it does actually mean anything, but it's still a nice thing...

Rupert Graves is of course best remembered for his wonderful performance in the best movie of all time, A Room with a View - where he played Freddie Honeychurch with such a love of life that he almost stole the whole movie from the rest of the brilliant cast...

Other fine performances of Rupert Graves can be seen in Maurice, in Different for girls and in The Madness of King George - and probably lots of other places that I haven't yet seen... I've had a crush on him since I saw A Room with a View for the very first time (but rumours say that he may actually be a heterosexual, poor chap).

Rupert's homepage is at rupert-graves.com.

Llodra's locker shocker (finding a nude tennis player in the locker)

Townsville Bulletin writes about tennis players Ivan Ljubicic and Michael Llodra:

Ivan Ljubicic was heading for his locker after a shower:
(...) he found his belongings on the floor in front of his locker.

"I was like, 'What's going on? My stuff is on the ground'," Ljubicic said.

Noticing the locker wasn't quite shut, Ljubicic opened the doors to find the naked Llodra.

"Shock, completely shocked," Ljubicic said. "Michael Llodra naked in my locker."

"He said to me, 'I'm trying to get positive energy from you. You're winning a lot of matches this year'."

Well, I'm having a nice year as well - maybe someone wants to try to grab some positive energy from me as well? There's plenty of room in my locker... :-)

Crowded House drummer found dead

The Daily Telegraph (of Sydney) writes today that "Legendary Crowded House drummer Paul Hester was found dead yesterday in a public park."

Sad news, indeed.

Hey now, hey now
Don't dream it's over
Hey now, hey now
When the world comes in
They come, they come
To build a wall between us
Don't ever let them win

Learn Geography...

There are lots of things I'd like to know. I'd like to know more languages. I'd like to know more physics, to understand how things work. And I'd certainly like to know more human anatomy, to be able to take better care of my own body. And I find it embarrassing to read about Nigeria in the newspaper without being able to pinpoint it on a map. And not only embarrassing - it also makes it more difficult to understand which developments influence which.

For this last problem, there are several solution, one of which is Seterra, a freeware program by some Swedish programmer. I've had fun playing with that "game" a little, and suddenly I found myself remembering the capital of Kyrgyzstan before the reporter mentioned it (it is Bishkek, by the way).

For everyone not fanatically interested in Swedish geography, some of the categories (Cities in Southern Sweden) should be left alone, but all in all, this is a wonderful resource for learning a little more geography, which is a good thing.

(And please give me a hint on programs to learn human anatomy, physics or new languages as well... :-)

Teen girls' sex Olympics

The Sun provides still more proof that straights are extremely preoccupied with sex in the article "Teen girls' sex Olympics".

I quote: "FOUR Olympic gold medal-winning girl gymnasts have been put under curfew after being caught holding porn parties with male pals.

The 17-year-olds from Romania were found to be staying up all night drinking and watching X-rated movies with the boys as well as visiting strip clubs."

Okay, so that's what straights do...

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Gender Brain Quiz...

My Brain is 60.00% Female, 40.00% Male

My brain is a healthy mix of male and female
I am both sensitive and savvy
Rational and reasonable, I tend to keep level headed
But I also tend to wear my heart on my sleeve

What Gender Is Your Brain?

And by the way:

I Belong in 1974

(1970 - 1979: Bold and brash, you take life by the horns. Whether you're partying or protesting, you give it your all!)

What Year Do You Belong In?

Bush signed caregiver bill favoring spouse

The Washington Times writes today: "President Bush, who is championing the right of Terri Schiavo's parents to decide whether her feeding tube should be reinserted, signed a Texas bill in 1999 giving spouses top priority in making such decisions."

No surprise there: George Bush changes his opinion - and his reasoning - based on what the Christian Far Right thinks in a particular case...

It does not seem that Bush's action will have any effect on Terri Schiavo, however. She will die, just as she (based on the evidence available) would have wanted - although belatedly.

Svevende Ord Bibelsenter

For all who are fluent in Norwegian out there: I'd like to remind everyone of the hilarious webpage Svevende Ord Bibelsenter. This is a wonderful parody of all the more or less extremist Christian web pages out there.

At the moment, the top story is about the return of Jesus to Earth. According to the article, "Last weekend, Christians around the world were drawn into the sky, when God finally sent Jesus back to Earth to judge the living and the dead. Unfortunately, the whole Judgment Day had to be cancelled, as Jesus and his army of angels misjudged the angle of descent." The whole exercise ended in a ball of fire crashing into the ocean.

Of course, making fun of people's beliefs is not nice. This site, however, does not make fun of people's beliefs, but in the unbelievable naive evangelization of many Christians... It also pokes fun at the central position fund-raising has in many such websites.

Let me mention one more feature of the webpage that comes in very handy: The Instant Forgiver. Nice work!

By the way: for those of you who haven't learned Norwegian (yet), you can have much fun at an English-language website: Mrs. Betty Bowers - America's Best Christian.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Congress redefining marriage

BoiFromTroy writes on the strange workings of the American government, where Congress and the president are trying to overrule the Florida courts (who have upheld Mr. Sciavo's right to guard his wife's wishes now that she is unable to articulate them any more).

The irony in this sad case is, as "BoyFromTroy" says, that Mr. Bush is trying to overrule one of the traditional roles of marriage (where each spouse is supposed to be the one who is closest to look after the other), while at the same time claiming that granting marriages to gays will ruin the institution of marriage...

Movie: Million Dollar Baby

Okay, it's the usual formula: poor, but talented kid meets old and reluctant trainer and so on and so forth. Of course the movie has lots in common with "Rocky", "Beautiful Boxer", "Karate Kid" and too many other such movies. What sets this apart? I guess, first of all, that this is a movie "with a heart". It takes its time to tell the audience enough about the three main persons to make us love them - with all their faults.

Of course the acting is also very good - as this year's Oscars testified. Hilary Swank ("Boys Don't Cry"), Morgan Freeman ("The Shawshank Redemption" and lots of others) and Clint Eastwood himself are a super team.

And the movie is funny - that's certainly not unimportant when trying to keep an audience's attention for more than two hours. A pleasant, low-key humour is there almost all the time...

It's a good movie. See it.

Teens who remain "virgins" more likely to take other chances

In an article today, MSNBC quotes a study that "found that teens pledging virginity until marriage are more likely to have oral and anal sex than other teens who have not had intercourse."

"Among virgins, boys who have pledged abstinence were four times more likely to have had anal sex, according to the study. Overall, pledgers were six times more likely to have oral sex than teens who have remained abstinent but not as part of a pledge."

"The pledging group was also less likely to use condoms during their first sexual experience or get tested for STDs, the researchers found."

Which seems to suggest that pledging to remain "virgins" until marriage is not such a healthy idea after all. It also suggests that these youths have made decisions based on the wrong reasons: they have made a pledge based on some archaic "rule" found in a book, and then streched that rule as much as they could. (A decision based on concern for their own emotional and physical well-being, would probably have been quite different: focusing more on safe sex and on the relationship with the other person.)

Anyway: from now on, every time I meet someone who has pledged to remain a "virgin" until marriage, images of anal sex will pop up in my mind, and I will keep in mind that the person I'm talking to may well have STDs...

Monday, March 21, 2005

Stephane Lambiel world champion

19-year-old Stephane Lambiel (from Switzerland) became World Champion in figure skating this weekend - his first medal in a major competition. Congratulations!

It's not that I follow figure skating closely, but from time to time I happen to watch - and Lambiel is as good a reason to watch the sport as any...

His webpage is www.stephanelambiel.ch/.

Sexy Elf Shorts - Caption Competition!

Over at Whateva Sista!'s place, you can take part in the "Sexy Elf Shorts" Caption Competition...

What's that? Well, apparently, you win a pair of Sexy Elf Shorts if you come up with the best caption to a picture of someone in Sexy Elf Shorts - whereafter you have to post a picture of yourself in these shorts and the game goes on...

Interesting game...

Blog metrics

I've just developed a set of metrics to describe a blog: Do a little google search on a couple of words inside your own blog, and you get a profile of your blog:

The "sex"/"work" ratio: How many times have you mentioned the word "sex" in your blog - divide that number with how many times you've mentioned the word "work". (Yes, I am aware that the sentence "Going home from work today, I had sex three times" gives a fairly modest "sex"/"work"-ratio of only 1...)

In my blog, this "sex"/"work" ratio is currently 14/6 = 2.33

Other important ratios:

"love"/"hate" ratio: 7/1 = 7.00

"fashion"/"nude" ratio: 1/14 = 0.07

"sport"/"art" ratio: 0/7 = 0.00

"travel"/"home" ratio: 3/33 = 0.09

Please leave a comment if you decide to do the maths for your blog...

Jumping 239 meters on a pair of skis...

Ski jumping must be one of the most extreme sports there is. Yesterday, Bjørn Einar Romøren jumped 239 meters in the final world cup event of the season, which is a new world record. I've been to the top of a few ski jumps, but I've never considered putting a pair of skis on my feet and jump back to the ground - elevators or stairs are more my style...

By the way, the best skier this season, Janne Ahonen, jumped 240 meters, but he fell the second he landed, which means that his jump does not make it to the record books.

(Bjørn Einar Romøren. Picture from K120.de)

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Ham-Kam 8th this year?

Ham-Kam is my favourite team in the Norwegian soccer series. After a few years in lower divisions, they returned to "Tippeligaen" last year, ending up on a strong 5th place (just outside the four who got to take part in "Royal League").

This year will be exciting - the difficult second season. But the "experts" are convinced that they will do well this year, too. An aggregate of bookmakers and other experts predict 8th place for Ham-Kam - a safe distance from the 12th-14th places which threatens relegation.

I wish them luck - and will update throughout the season...

Coach Ståle Solbakken

Nobel prizes in literature

Have you read works of many of the following Nobel prize winning authors? Mark the ones you've read books by - and note which books you've read.

2004 Elfriede Jelinek
2003 J.M. Coetzee
2002 Imre Kertész
2001 V.S. Naipaul
2000 Gao Xingjian
1999 Günter Grass
1998 José Saramago
1997 Dario Fo
1996 Wislawa Szymborska
1995 Seamus Heaney
1994 Kenzaburo Oe
1993 Toni Morrison
1992 Derek Walcott
1991 Nadine Gordimer (My Son's Story)
1990 Octavio Paz
1989 Camilo José Cela
1988 Naguib Mahfouz
1987 Joseph Brodsky
1986 Wole Soyinka
1985 Claude Simon
1984 Jaroslav Seifert
1983 William Golding
1982 Gabriel García Márquez (Love in the Time of Cholera)
1981 Elias Canetti
1980 Czeslaw Milosz
1979 Odysseus Elytis
1978 Isaac Bashevis Singer
1977 Vicente Aleixandre
1976 Saul Bellow
1975 Eugenio Montale
1974 Eyvind Johnson, Harry Martinson
1973 Patrick White
1972 Heinrich Böll
1971 Pablo Neruda
1970 Alexander Solzhenitsyn
1969 Samuel Beckett
1968 Yasunari Kawabata
1967 Miguel Angel Asturias
1966 Samuel Agnon, Nelly Sachs
1965 Mikhail Sholokhov
1964 Jean-Paul Sartre
1963 Giorgos Seferis
1962 John Steinbeck (Grapes of Wrath)
1961 Ivo Andric
1960 Saint-John Perse
1959 Salvatore Quasimodo
1958 Boris Pasternak (Dr. Zhivago)
1957 Albert Camus
1956 Juan Ramón Jiménez
1955 Halldór Laxness
1954 Ernest Hemingway (Death in the afternoon, A Farewell to Arms, The Sun Also Rises, For Whom the Bell Tolls)
1953 Winston Churchill
1952 François Mauriac
1951 Pär Lagerkvist
1950 Bertrand Russell
1949 William Faulkner
1948 T.S. Eliot (Old Possum's book of practical cats)
1947 André Gide
1946 Hermann Hesse
1945 Gabriela Mistral
1944 Johannes V. Jensen
1939 Frans Eemil Sillanpää
1938 Pearl Buck
1937 Roger Martin du Gard
1936 Eugene O'Neill
1934 Luigi Pirandello
1933 Ivan Bunin
1932 John Galsworthy
1931 Erik Axel Karlfeldt
1930 Sinclair Lewis
1929 Thomas Mann (Death in Venice)
1928 Sigrid Undset
1927 Henri Bergson
1926 Grazia Deledda
1925 George Bernard Shaw (Pygmalion)
1924 Wladyslaw Reymont
1923 William Butler Yeats
1922 Jacinto Benavente
1921 Anatole France
1920 Knut Hamsun (Pan)
1919 Carl Spitteler
1917 Karl Gjellerup, Henrik Pontoppidan
1916 Verner von Heidenstam
1915 Romain Rolland
1913 Rabindranath Tagore
1912 Gerhart Hauptmann
1911 Maurice Maeterlinck
1910 Paul Heyse
1909 Selma Lagerlöf
1908 Rudolf Eucken
1907 Rudyard Kipling
1906 Giosuè Carducci
1905 Henryk Sienkiewicz
1904 Frédéric Mistral, José Echegaray
1903 Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson (En glad gut (A happy boy))
1902 Theodor Mommsen
1901 Sully Prudhomme

Liverpool-Everton 2-1

Liverpool just beat Everton 2-1 at home after goals by Gerrard and Garcia - with an Everton goal by Cahill shortly before the end of the match. Baros were shown off for a tackle about 15 minutes before the final whistle. Thereby Liverpool's chances of reaching Champions League have increased.

RTW 12: Rotorua

One of the very highlights of the entire Round-the-world trip was the stay in Rorotua. I stayed at the Kiwi Paka YHA Rotorua, a youth hostel with a hot thermal pool... I also happened to get the four-bed room all to myself for some reason.

Rotorua was a nice city, I remember sitting on a bench looking at Lake Rotorua and feeling peaceful... But the real highlight was the trip to a maori village, where I had Maori food, had a guided tour through the forest (where the "chief" told us about how the Maoris made use of the different things we saw). There was also a "Sacred Lake" where we were treated to the sight of glowworms. Wonderful! Then there was song and dance by the young Maoris of the family (see picture above). I also tried hongi (greeting by pressing noses together) - with the young man in the picture.

All in all a great evening. I'm not sure how authentic it all was, but at least it felt very authentic...

And the Iraq War (which had just started) was almost forgotten.

On the way to Auckland, I stopped to see the Waitomo Caves - also an experience to remember.

Previous installments on my trip:
RTW 11: Napier
RTW 10: Wellington
RTW 9: Arthur's Pass
RTW 8: Christchurch
RTW 7: Queenstown
RTW 6: Dunedin
RTW 5: Sydney
RTW 4: Singapore
RTW 3: Mauritius
RTW 2: Réunion
RTW 1: Johannesburg

Travel wish list

Here's a list of the top 5 vacation wishes I have at the moment:

1. Florence/Firenze, Italy (for the art. Luckily I'll go there in less than a month!)
2. Giza, Egypt (to see the pyramids.)
3. Venice/Venezia, Italy (for the canals and gondolas and the beauty of the place.)
4. Hurtigruta, Norway (the cruise ship going from Bergen to Kirkenes, along the Norwegian coast.)
5. Paris, France (okay, I've been there before, but I need more time there...)

Top albums

Inspired by Whateva Sista!, I list the singles that have been at #1 for every one of my birthdays (according to VG-lista:

(And in parenthesis: the number of times I've played that song on my iPod/iTunes)

1971: Ocean: Put Your Hand In The Hand (0)
1972: Gilbert O'Sullivan: Clair (2)
1973: Lillebjørn Nilsen: Barn av regnbuen (1)
1974: Hans Petter Hansen: Jeg kommer snart igjen (1)
1975: George Baker Selection: Paloma Blanca (1)
1976: ABBA: Dancing Queen (1)
1977: Baccara: Yes Sir, I Can Boogie (1)
1978: John Travolta/Olivia Newton-John: You're The One That I Want (0)
1979: Frank Zappa: Bobby Brown (0)
1980: Diana Ross: Upside Down (1)
1981: Sheena Easton: For Your Eyes Only (0)
1982: Bolland: You're In The Army Now (0)
1983: Paul McCartney/Michael Jackson: Say, Say, Say (0)
1984: Stevie Wonder: I Just Called To Say I Love You (0)
1985: Modern Talking: Cheri, Cheri Lady (0)
1986: Cutting Crew: (I Just) Died In Your Arms (0)
1987: Bee Gees: You Win Again (0)
1988: Koreana: Hand In Hand (0)
1989: Kaoma: Lambada (0)
1990: a-ha: Crying In The Rain (5)
1991: U2: The Fly (0)
1992: Bon Jovi: Keep The Faith (0)
1993: Meatloaf: I'd Do Anything For Love (0)
1994: Rednex: Cotton Eye Joe (0)
1995: Coolio: Gangsta's Paradise (0)
1996: The Kelly Family: I Can't Help Myself (5)
1997: Warren G/Sissel: Prince Igor (0)
1998: Lene Marlin: Unforgivable Sinner (3)
1999: Blümchen: Heut' Ist Mein Tag (0)
2000: Backstreet Boys: Shape Of My Heart (1)
2001: Kylie Minogue: Can't Get You Out Of My Head (0)
2002: Las Ketchup: The Ketchup Song/Asereje (0)
2003: Black Eyed Peas: Where Is The Love? (0)
2004: Britney Spears: My Prerogative (0)

Shabana open about her abortion

In the article Shabana åpen om egen abort (Shabana open about her own abortion), vg.no writes that Norwegian comedian and writer Shabana Rehman has entered the debate on abortion.

"What is important in the new debate on abortion, is that the opponents who misuse blood, ethics and feelings, get an answer," she says, and adds "We who have had an abortion, know what blood, feelings and ethics are."

The striking thing about this (for me) is that I realized that I don't know anyone who has had an abortion - in much the same way that many straights say that they don't know any gays. Of course I know someone who has had an abortion, I just don't know about it, because there is a stigma attached to it.

Therefore, it's very important for the quality of debate that Shabana Rehman enters the debate. The debate must not be left to the extremists on either side.

... and I am somebody: How fast can you type?

How fast can you type?

I got 67 on first try - terrible... Try it out here.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Rorschach Test

Diagnostic Overview:

Your responses indicate that you are almost certain to die in a whorehouse, but not as a customer. Your self-destructive impulses can be put to good use and channeled creatively, but that'll never happen. You also watch too much Oprah. People who answer as you did worry constantly about Japanese steel imports.

Long-Term Prognosis:

Because of your impairments, your life is destined to be one long train-wreck. A lobotomy might possibly give you a better outlook and more insight into your own behavior. It would also keep you off the damn streets, which everyone agrees would be a good thing. PS- You don't hate your mother and father; you only think you do. Isn't that weird?

Take your own Rorschach Test, but don't blame me for the answers you get...


"The United Nations estimated that more than 180,000 people have died of war-induced hunger and disease in the Darfur region of Sudan in the past 18 months. This figure does not include those murdered by Sudanese government-sponsored militias, which responded to the accusations by threatening to kill western aid workers." writes The Economist in its March 19th issue.

The western world's inability to do anything for so long about the man-made tragedy in Darfur is shameful. The reactions to the tsunami showed that people in the west still have compassion for victims of terrible incidents and a capacity to act quickly. Why is that compassion and capacity so small when the incidents happen away from tv cameras and with no western tourists nearby?

RTW 11: Napier

In 1931, an earthquake hit Napier, starting a fire that destroyed most buildings and killed many people. In rebuilding the city, the Art Deco style was favored. Today, the centre of Napier is home of an intriguing number of Art Deco buildings.

I had never heard of Napier before starting doing research for my round-the-world trip, but when I heard of the Art Deco buildings, I knew I had to go there. Not that I'm an expert on Art Deco - far from it. But I'd previously been to Miami Beach and been fascinated by the Art Deco buildings there.

(Artlex defines Art deco thus: "An art movement involving a mix of modern decorative art styles, largely of the 1920s and 1930s, whose main characteristics were derived from various avant-garde painting styles of the early twentieth century. Art deco works exhibit aspects of Cubism, Russian Constructivism and Italian Futurism - with abstraction, distortion, and simplification, particularly geometric shapes and highly intense colors - celebrating the rise of commerce, technology, and speed.")

In Napier, I stayed at Napier YHA. Here, I was at ease from the minute I arrived. The owner took the trouble of learning the names of the guests, and everything else worked just the way it was supposed to. The location was perfect, just a short walk by the sea to the centre of the city.

I also went to the Century Cinema to see a movie - "Far from heaven" by Todd Haynes. A wonderful movie. Someone just asked me what was "happiness" for me. Happiness can be many different things, but for me, happiness is not some large, distant goal which I strive to achieve more or less permanently. Instead, it's a feeling that is there for short periods of time (but preferably quite often), and which you have to embrace while it's there. Thinking back, going out from the cinema after seeing "Far from heaven", walking by the ocean towards the youth hostel - was such a moment of happiness. (One of many on this trip.)

All in all: the stay in Napier was great - one of the highlights on my trip. Another highlight was to come: Rotorua.

Previous installments on my trip:
RTW 10: Wellington
RTW 9: Arthur's Pass
RTW 8: Christchurch
RTW 7: Queenstown
RTW 6: Dunedin
RTW 5: Sydney
RTW 4: Singapore
RTW 3: Mauritius
RTW 2: Réunion
RTW 1: Johannesburg

100 best books of all time

Around 100 well-known authors from 54 countries voted for the "most meaningful book of all time" in a poll organised by editors at the Norwegian Book Clubs in Oslo. Here's the list (in alphabetical order): mark the ones you've read! (and put a comment here, of course...)

Chinua Achebe Things Fall Apart
Hans Christian Andersen Fairy Tales and Stories
Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice
Honore de Balzac Old Goriot
Samuel Beckett Trilogy: Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnamable
Giovanni Boccaccio Decameron
Jorge Luis Borges Collected Fictions
Emily Bronte Wuthering Heights
Albert Camus The Stranger
Paul Celan Poems
Louis-Ferdinand Celine Journey to the End of the Night
Miguel de Cervantes Don Quixote
Geoffrey Chaucer Canterbury Tales
Joseph Conrad Nostromo
Dante Alighieri The Divine Comedy
Charles Dickens Great Expectations
Denis Diderot Jacques the Fatalist and His Master
Alfred Doblin Berlin Alexanderplatz
Fyodor Dostoyevsky Crime and Punishment; The Idiot; The Possessed; The Brothers Karamazov
George Eliot Middlemarch
Ralph Ellison Invisible Man
Euripides Medea
William Faulkner Absalom, Absalom; The Sound and the Fury
Gustave Flaubert Madame Bovary; A Sentimental Education
Federico Garcia Lorca Gypsy Ballads
Gabriel Garcia Marquez One Hundred Years of Solitude; Love in the Time of Cholera
Anon The Epic of Gilgamesh
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Faust
Nikolai Gogol Dead Souls
Günter Grass The Tin Drum
Joao Guimaraes Rosa The Devil to Pay in the Backlands
Knut Hamsun Hunger
Ernest Hemingway The Old Man and the Sea
Homer The Iliad; The Odyssey
Henrik Ibsen A Doll's House
Anon The Book of Job
James Joyce Ulysses
Franz Kafka The Complete Stories; The Trial; The Castle
Kalidasa The Recognition of Sakuntala
Yasunari Kawabata The Sound of the Mountain
Nikos Kazantzakis Zorba the Greek
DH Lawrence Sons and Lovers
Halldor K Laxness Independent People
Giacomo Leopardi Complete Poems
Doris Lessing The Golden Notebook
Astrid Lindgren Pippi Longstocking
Lu Xun Diary of a Madman and Other Stories
Anon Mahabharata
Naguib Mahfouz Children of Gebelawi
Thomas Mann Buddenbrooks; The Magic Mountain
Herman Melville Moby Dick
Michel de Montaigne Essays
Elsa Morante History
Toni Morrison Beloved
Murasaki Shikibu The Tale of Genji
Robert Musil The Man Without Qualities
Vladimir Nabokov Lolita;
Njal's Saga
George Orwell 1984
Ovid Metamorphoses
Fernando Pessoa The Book of Disquiet
Edgar Allan Poe The Complete Tales
Marcel Proust Remembrance of Things Past
Francois Rabelais Gargantua and Pantagruel
Juan Rulfo Pedro Paramo
Jalalu'l-Din Rumi The Mathnawi
Salman Rushdie Midnight's Children
Sheikh Saadi of Shiraz The Bostan of Saadi (The Orchard)
Tayeb Salih A Season of Migration to the North
Jose Saramago Blindness
William Shakespeare Hamlet; King Lear; Othello
Sophocles Oedipus the King
Stendhal The Red and the Black
Laurence Sterne The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy
Italo Svevo Confessions of Zeno
Jonathan Swift Gulliver's Travels
Leo Tolstoy War and Peace; Anna Karenina; The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Other Stories
Anton Chekhov Selected Stories;
Thousand and One Nights
Mark Twain The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Valmiki Ramayana
Virgil The Aeneid
Walt Whitman Leaves of Grass
Virginia Woolf Mrs Dalloway; To the Lighthouse
Marguerite Yourcenar Memoirs of Hadrian

Lost (and Found) Memes: Top 100 Movies

Memes: Top 100 Movies

Take this list of the top 100 movies from the IMDB and bold the movies you have seen. This list is from March 2005.

1. 9.0 The Godfather (1972) 118,811
2. 8.9 The Shawshank Redemption (1994) 145,174
3. 8.9 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) 99,019
4. 8.8 The Godfather: Part II (1974) 69,789

5. 8.8 Shichinin no samurai (1954) 30,666
6. 8.7 Casablanca (1942) 64,964
7. 8.7 Schindler's List (1993) 95,716
8. 8.7 The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) 153,882
9. 8.7 Citizen Kane (1941) 60,168
10. 8.7 Star Wars (1977) 131,657
11. 8.7 One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) 68,697

12. 8.7 Pulp Fiction (1994) 128,381
13. 8.7 The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) 111,248
14. 8.6 Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980) 101,512
15. 8.6 Rear Window (1954) 40,718
16. 8.6 Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) 62,551
17. 8.6 Buono, il brutto, il cattivo, Il (1966) 29,375

18. 8.6 The Usual Suspects (1995) 101,595
19. 8.6 Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) 91,856
20. 8.6 Cidade de Deus (2002) 23,783
21. 8.6 12 Angry Men (1957) 29,024
22. 8.5 Memento (2000) 88,155
23. 8.5 Psycho (1960) 52,498
24. 8.5 C'era una volta il West (1968) 16,277

25. 8.5 North by Northwest (1959) 35,607
26. 8.5 Lawrence of Arabia (1962) 31,134
27. 8.5 Fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain, Le (2001) 57,334
28. 8.5 Goodfellas (1990) 65,783
29. 8.5 The Silence of the Lambs (1991) 90,234
30. 8.5 Sunset Blvd. (1950) 15,558
31. 8.5 It's a Wonderful Life (1946) 41,232
32. 8.5 American Beauty (1999) 107,593

33. 8.4 Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) 42,445
34. 8.4 Apocalypse Now (1979) 62,765
35. 8.4 The Matrix (1999) 139,550
36. 8.4 Paths of Glory (1957) 13,893
37. 8.4 Fight Club (1999) 108,561
38. 8.4 Vertigo (1958) 33,902
39. 8.4 The Third Man (1949) 17,861

40. 8.4 Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi (2001) 22,811
41. 8.4 To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) 30,247
42. 8.4 Singin' in the Rain (1952) 19,894
43. 8.4 Double Indemnity (1944) 11,231
44. 8.3 Boot, Das (1981) 28,064
45. 8.3 Taxi Driver (1976) 47,164
46. 8.3 M (1931) 11,623
47. 8.3 The Pianist (2002) 29,662

48. 8.3 Rashômon (1950) 11,145
49. 8.3 Se7en (1995) 86,210
50. 8.3 All About Eve (1950) 12,658
51. 8.3 The Maltese Falcon (1941) 18,903
52. 8.3 The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) 21,727

53. 8.3 Requiem for a Dream (2000) 45,536
54. 8.3 Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) 59,460
55. 8.3 Chinatown (1974) 25,805
56. 8.3 Some Like It Hot (1959) 25,574

57. 8.3 L.A. Confidential (1997) 68,744
58. 8.3 Léon (1994) 50,899
59. 8.3 Saving Private Ryan (1998) 97,440
60. 8.3 Alien (1979) 61,478

61. 8.3 American History X (1998) 57,204
62. 8.3 Modern Times (1936) 9,913
63. 8.2 Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) 11,207

64. 8.2 The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) 10,142
65. 8.2 The Wizard of Oz (1939) 37,302
66. 8.2 The Manchurian Candidate (1962) 13,760
67. 8.2 The Sting (1973) 22,986
68. 8.2 On the Waterfront (1954) 12,330

69. 8.2 Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003) 62,420
70. 8.2 Raging Bull (1980) 26,574
71. 8.2 Ran (1985) 11,470
72. 8.2 Amadeus (1984) 35,855
73. 8.2 Vita è bella, La (1997) 36,801
74. 8.2 Touch of Evil (1958) 11,400

75. 8.2 The Great Escape (1963) 19,379
76. 8.2 A Clockwork Orange (1971) 64,121
77. 8.2 City Lights (1931) 7,502

78. 8.2 Reservoir Dogs (1992) 67,678
79. 8.2 The Apartment (1960) 10,829
80. 8.2 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) 64,310
81. 8.2 Metropolis (1927) 11,562
82. 8.2 The Shining (1980) 49,054

83. 8.2 High Noon (1952) 12,080
84. 8.2 Jaws (1975) 45,554
85. 8.2 Aliens (1986) 62,994
86. 8.2 Finding Nemo (2003) 39,543
87. 8.2 Annie Hall (1977) 20,721

88. 8.2 Braveheart (1995) 89,675
89. 8.2 Million Dollar Baby (2004) 14,962
90. 8.1 Wo hu cang long (2000) 50,810
91. 8.1 Fargo (1996) 64,777
92. 8.1 Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004) 42,001
93. 8.1 Oldboy (2003) 6,631
94. 8.1 Yojimbo (1961) 8,531
95. 8.1 The Incredibles (2004) 24,301
96. 8.1 Blade Runner (1982) 73,826
97. 8.1 Strangers on a Train (1951) 11,245
98. 8.1 Donnie Darko (2001) 49,760
99. 8.1 The Sixth Sense (1999) 95,194
100. 8.1 The Princess Bride (1987) 53,315

Friday, March 18, 2005

European countries I've visited

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Art classes have too few nude models

Art classes have too few nude models at The University of Maryland.

“When I was in school, you couldn’t stop people from taking their clothes off — people were running through libraries naked,” he said. “We live in a more repressed society nowadays — it’s more of a shock, and students are probably a lot less willing to do something so ‘controversial.’”

Just another depressing piece of news. Are Americans really this repressed - that it's even getting impossible to get people to model for art? Some people would probably call this "progress" - but that happens to be those "some people" who I don't really like...

RTW 10: Wellington

I stayed in Wellington for three days. Wellington was a charming city, in my opinion, and the main attraction was the Te Papa Museum. This was a very interesting museum, especially on the development of New Zealand. As if the permanent exhibitions were not enough, there was also the "Lord of the Rings Exhibition" which was really great. I spent hours walking through that exhibition (only disturbed by a fire alarm, which meant that I had the chance to grab something to eat across the street before going back in). This exhibition showed a lot of what had gone into making the movie (and I actually wrote a short article on the mathematics of making the Lord of the Rings trilogy).

I stayed at Downtown Wellington Backpackers, which was great. A very positive thing was its food - lots of things to choose from (for a hostel, of course - not compared to great restaurants...) I stayed in a room with 20 beds, but at the time, only a couple of people were there, which was a good thing... :-)

I also went to the theater while in Wellington - I don't remember the name of the play, but it was an interesting comedy on life in New York right after September 11th. Interesting.

But after a little while in this city, I went on to Napier and Rotorua...

Previous installments on my trip:
RTW 9: Arthur's Pass
RTW 8: Christchurch
RTW 7: Queenstown
RTW 6: Dunedin
RTW 5: Sydney
RTW 4: Singapore
RTW 3: Mauritius
RTW 2: Réunion
RTW 1: Johannesburg

Beaten up for being gay

Fædrelandsvennen (the local newspaper of the Kristiansand region) writes about Øystein Foss Langeland (17), who were beaten up for being gay the other night.

"They kicked my head as if it was a football", he says to the newspaper, "I thought I was gonna die."

The situation for gays is much better in Norway these days than it ever was. Gays may marry, having sex is no longer a criminal act or reasons for a diagnosis, there are laws against discrimination of gays. Most gays live their lives without facing daily harassment. However, everything is not rosy. There are still people around who believe that they are better than gays just because they have sex with the opposite sex. Incredibly narrow-minded men who can't find other positive characteristics about themselves than that they are straight...

It is very brave of Langeland to stand forward and tell the story. Part of the problem is that people (understandably) don't dare to say anything, being afraid of consequences.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Movie: Le Regard

Le Regard is a movie about compassion, inertia and remorse. The experiences from the photographer's youth haunts him in old age.

The movie takes place in Morocco. As usual, it is very interesting to be transported to more "exotic" locations than LA or Notting Hill... The movie feels very authentic - the scenes from the war feels every bit as real as the scenes from modern day Morocco. Moreover, the movie discusses themes important today as ever: who are responsible? What are our duties? How much may we blame the system and how much blame must we bear ourselves?

This is a very good movie - recommended.

(By the way, the movie is written and directed by Norwegian Nour-Eddine Lakhmari.)

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Ingeborg Moreus Hanssen telling jokes about gay movies

Some time ago, Ingeborg Moreus Hanssen, the boss of Oslo's main cinemas, were asked questions about gay movies. She was quoted as saying that they were not of high enough quality - and that they would had been screened on the cinemas of Oslo if they had only had the necessary quality.

Since when did quality become a criteria for being screened in the cinemas of Oslo? Is she suggesting that she will sit down and have a hard look at the new "Star Wars" movie to see if it has the sufficient quality? Or that she ever imagined saying "no" to the third "Lord of the rings" movie if she thought it lacked quality? (Don't make me laugh...)

The true answer is of course that the cinemas of Oslo screen what the public wants - and then a tiny fragment of what else is on offer. Gay and lesbian film festivals are needed to screen some of the other high-quality movies that are made, but that the straight majority does not feel any need to see. (Because the straight majority would rather see a braindead straight romance from Hollywood than a gay romance, almost no matter it's quality - for instance.)

(Ingeborg Moreus Hanssen has decided against screening of several movies based on "quality", for instance the award winning short movie "Fremragende filmer" by Lars Daniel Krutzkoff Jacobsen and David Cronenberg's "Crash". But somehow blockbuster movies tend to get through her "quality" control...)

Movie: Aimée & Jaguar

At gay and lesbian film festivals, the audience tend to be gender segregated: gay men go to gay movies, lesbians go to lesbian movies. This is probably only natural - much of the point of going to these festivals is to see movies that never go to ordinary cinemas since straights don't manage to enjoy other kinds of relationships than their own...

I tend to have a strong need to understand the main characters in the movies I watch. The reason why I do not understand the actions of the characters in this movie (Aimée & Jaguar), may be as simple as this: they are lesbian, I am gay.

However, I always have problems understanding self-destructive behaviour, no matter the sexual orientation - so that excuse for the movie may not be strong enough.

Anyway, I do see the attractions of this movie. It is a story of strong emotions, taking place at a tremendously stressing and turbulent time (Berlin WW2). The actresses are even beautiful. Too bad (for me) that in the end I can't stand the main protagonists. (And the end is long in the waiting, by the way.)

"Don't blame me for growing, Spider-Man. I'm aroused!"

My very favourite gardener actor, Jesse Metcalfe, was tricked in a new episode of "Punk'd". Read below!

But there is no sign that he will actually get a role in a Spider-Man movie. A shame! I could really see a romance between him and Tobey...

"Don't blame me for growing, Spider-Man. I'm aroused!":
"Desperate Housewives hottie Jesse Metcalfe got Punk'd! In Sunday's episode, he donned silver tights to audition for a 'ladies' man' lizard villain role in the upcoming Spider-Man movie. His main line was 'Don't blame me for growing, Spider-Man. I'm aroused,' which Jesse recited over and over and over again while suspended in mid-air. Unfortunately there was no visible sign of arousal, but you have to love his earnestness and dedication to the acting craft (among other things)."

Religious extremists get to hear mainstream opinion

The Norwegian Christian extremist newspaper Dagen ("the day") yesterday had a poll on their webpage asking the following question:

Is homosexuality something you are born with or a conscious choice?
1) natural orientation that should be accepted
2) orientation that can be changed/healed
3) conscious choice and against the word of God

Last time I checked, 96 % had chosen alternative 1, which was probably not the answer the Dagen people would have wanted. Today, the poll is miraculously gone without trace...

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

"A deal's a deal!"

I hear this a lot: "A deal is a deal! You can't just walk out on that!" People screaming at the top of their voices in the phone. Not to me, mind you. I hear it just because I happen to be nearby.

Who are all these people who make deals that other people don't care to follow up on - and who believe that screaming into cell phones will help?

I'm not in that league. When I'm angry on the phone, it's mostly to complain to someone who're five minutes late.

"You pay me the money by Tuesday, or I'll..." Please... I don't want to witness your threats. And are you sure you look most threatening while on the phone? Well, come to think of it, maybe you're right...

Shattered Earth

I posted this picture to the The Mirror Project:

The Mirror Project is a page where you may post pictures where you take pictures of reflective surfaces - quite an interesting collection of pictures there...

(My picture is taken outside the UN buildings in New York - you can se the UN in the reflection - as well as yours truly...)

Monday, March 14, 2005

Movie: Melinda Melinda

I've just seen the movie "Melinda and Melinda" by Woody Allen. Woody Allen is one of my favorite directors - he has made lots of great movies, with masterpieces such as "Zelig", "Manhattan", "Everyone Says I Love You" and "Play it again, Sam" to name just a few. However, he is a bit uneven, with lots of not-so-good movies in between. Therefore, going to a Woody Allen movie is always exciting.

"Melinda and Melinda" is part comedy and part tragedy - just like life, I assume. The comedy part is often very funny, the tragedy part is a bit tragic (but also a bit funny at times) - and in all the movie is interesting and worth a look. However, at times I feel it is just "clever" - that the movie is a collection of very good ideas that are meticulously put together.

The actors are fine - everything is fine. But still the movie leaves me underwhelmed.

I still will look forward to his next movie - as always...

Sunday, March 13, 2005

RTW 9: Arthur's Pass

From Christchurch, I went on a day trip to Arthur's Pass. (Above is the "Devil's Punchbowl" in Arthur's Pass.) It was a great trip. Arthur's Pass is in the middle of the mountains, on the way from the western to the eastern side of South Island.

You may go to Arthur's Pass by bus or by train - I chose to go by bus on the way up and train on the way down. These tourist buses on New Zealand are amazing - not only are they comfortable, but usually the drivers were talking quite a lot, giving pointers to anything of the slightest interest. (Depending on the mood of the drivers, it seemed.) The train, however, gave quite another view - breathtaking.

Arthur's Pass itself was fascinating. It consists of a road, a river, a railway as well as a shop, a restaurant and a petrol station. The fascinating part (to me) was that it reminded me so much of Bjorli, a Norwegian town in the valley Gudbrandsdalen - with a road, a river, a railway, a shop, a restaurant and a petrol station. (And, to be fair, a hotel.) I visited Bjorli a lot while growing up, as I have family there, and all the memories of that came back to me in Arthur's Pass...

I just had the time for a short walk before the train headed back to Christchurch, so I went to Devil's Punchbowl. A short walk and a nice waterfall...

I don't regret taking this trip at all. However, everybody says that I should have gone on to the west coast (so be warned). I chose not to, mostly because I've seen plenty of fjords before...

The picture below is taken somewhere in NZ - I don't remember where...

Previous installments on my trip:
RTW 8: Christchurch
RTW 7: Queenstown
RTW 6: Dunedin
RTW 5: Sydney
RTW 4: Singapore
RTW 3: Mauritius
RTW 2: Réunion
RTW 1: Johannesburg

Norske rettskrivningsreformer i det 21. århundre

(Sorry, I just had to include this very Norwegian thing about the Norwegian language. The next blog post will be in English - I promise...)

Mot slutten av det 20. århundre har det gått inflasjon i rettskrivingsreformer. Det neste vil framskaffe et helt nytt skriftspråk gjennom en prosess i flere trinn. Det kan ventes å utarte slik:

I 2006 introduseres apostrof foran genetivs-s i egennavn.

I 2009 utvides bruken også til genetiv's- eller fuge-s i fellesnavn.
Samme året generalisere's regelen til å gjelde for alle ord som ender på enkelt-s.

I 2010 må alle sammen satte ord sær skrive's. «Å» overtar som konjunksjon å «og» går ut av språket.

I 2011 syn's folk flest at det har blitt for hvanskelig å huske hvilke ord som skal ha hv å hvilke som skal ha v, så hv blir skrive måte for alle slike ord.
Samme året over tar «åsså» som infinitiv's merke. Det er nå få som sjenner for sjellen på skj, kj å sj, så sist nevnte blir felle's skrive måte for alle ord med disse konsonantene.

I 2021 går den arkaiske skrive måten «også» ut å erstatte's med «oxo».
Samme året opp ta's boxtaven x i språket å ta's i bruk for x lyden etter en kort hvokal.
Hved nytt ar opp gi's de sar norske vokalene æ, ø a å, a erstatte's av hen hold's hvi's a, o a a.

I 2032 gar Norge inn i EU, a ordet «nei» erstatte's av «ja». De's uten hviker det tidligere «ja» for det lenge mer populare «je's». :sam tidig privatisere's :SprakRadet a sjope's av Dagbladet.:

I 2040 er det knapt noen som kan klare a sjille mellom «a» assa «assa», sa «assa» blir felle's skrive mate.

:sex ar seinere etter mange ar's for hvirring sla's han assa hun sjonn sammen, assa skrive mata blir hvalg fritt, -en eller -a for den bestemte artikkela.

:dobel konsonanta for sviner i 2042.

:in 2057 EU introduce su new gemeinsam sprog «Euro-talk» kai the vieux sprogs esse förbjudado.

- ukjent forfatter -

Whites are the bottom of the pile

The Economist has a tremendously interesting article on March 12th: Discussions are raging in England on what to do with the underachievement of blacks in British schools. The discussion has also been on whether the underachievement is on the part of the schools or on the part of the pupils (is there a "cultural deficit"?)

The Economist casts light on this by a simple look at the statistics. Obviously, many of the low-achieving pupils come from the poorest parts of the population. The Economist has looked at the achievement of pupils in the part of the population receiving free school meals (which supposedly means that they are looking at the poorer part of the population). Then the statistics show that "White British" pupils are at the bottom of the pile - their score is worse than Black Caribbean, Black African and Pakistani children (groups that are often singled out as underachievers), as well as far worse than Bangladeshi, Indian and Chinese children.

What does this mean? Well, the main point is quite simple: the main problem remains that poor children get less help from their families and go to schools of lower quality. The main issue is not race but poverty. Starting to give poor neighbourhoods as good schools as the rich neighbourhoods, would be a good idea. (And if any particular race need to be singled out for help - it's a good idea to start with the whites...)

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Movie: A room with a view

I haven't mentioned my favorite movie of all time yet in this blog: it's A room with a view.

I always have trouble explaining what is so wonderful about it. My brother says that "the movie lacks what many other movies have: a story". I disagree, of course: the main story is a story of love - and the main message of the movie is the eternal one: Follow your heart. But the movie has a lot more to offer than that.

The actors are wonderful - including Daniel Day Lewis, Rupert Graves, Julian Sands, Helena Bonham Carter, Denholm Elliott, Simon Callow, Judi Dench and the unforgettable Maggie Smith. The locations are unbeatable for beauty - the city and surroundings of Florence, Italy, and the English countryside. The music is great (Puccini) and it is actually a costume drama in the best meaning of the word - without losing its charm.

A key scene in the movie is the (nude) bath in the Sacred Lake. Do notice the reactions of the different characters to the nudity and the happiness in this scene. Especially Daniel Day Lewis is hilarious. (And Rupert Graves, of course. I just love Freddie Honeychurch!)

The book is by E. M. Forster, of course, and the movie is by Merchant/Ivory.

I recommend "A room with a view" with all my heart. But a little warning: there is not a single car chase in the whole movie (to quote a review of "Citizen Kane"...)

(Oh, by the way: I once made a homepage for this movie - it must be something like 12 years ago... It hasn't been updated for a very long time, but it's still sitting there on the web - at http://www.bjornsmestad.com/rwav/.)

Art: Vinternatt i Rondane by Harald Sohlberg

A reproduction of this 1930 painting by Norwegian artist Harald Sohlberg can't even begin to do it justice. This is a huge painting, hanging in the Nasjonalgalleriet in Oslo - where I have gone a few times just to sit in front of it for a few minutes. (The entrance to the gallery is free, and the gallery is on the way from my work to the subway...)

I don't know what fascinates about this picture, except that the painter has been able to catch the effect of moonlight on the mountains. It's also honoring the majestic mountains. However, for an urban young man like myself, why should the painting be so impressive and calming at the same time?

Word beads on Sentence Strings

Word beads on Sentence Strings is an interesting meme. This week's words are "reprobate", "pile", "clement", "aphid", "nip".

My attempt:

It's not that God ain't clement,
it's just that he piles temptations on top of me -
just like putting an aphid in front of a plant,
expecting it not even to take a bite.

If God really existed,
she wouldn't let reprobates walk the earth,
just waiting for them to fail -
she would instead nip them in the bud.

Or perhaps there really is a God
- then God is the reprobate -
and I'm just an innocent bystander
being manipulated by this scheming being.

No - that's too far-fetched
even for a meme-poem.
We're happily godless
and must face the consequences ourselves.

Add Your Own Rhetorical Question Here!

Lots of good "rhetorical questions" at this location:

Rhetorical Questions

Examples: "Why doesn't glue stick to the bottle?"
"Why do Kamikaze pilots wear helmets?"

Another example (not from that list):
"Where do the homeless have 90 percent of their accidents?"

Art: Rabbit by Jeff Koons

I spend quite a lot of time reading about art, and whenever I'm in a new city, I usually go to art exhibitions or art museums. That doesn't mean that I "know" art - it just means that I love being in the mood where I look at artworks I've never seen before and try to be open to experience the beauty or other quality of it.

I thought it would be a nice idea to blog a little on some of my favourites. The first one out (because I saw it quite recently) is "Rabbit" by Jeff Koons.

It's a model, made from steel, of a inflatable toy rabbit. The rabbit is eating a little carrot.

Besides being cute, "Rabbit" obviously goes into the 20th century tradition of asking "What is art?". Traditionally, art has been about trying to portray beautiful or interesting objects by the means of paint or other "artist's tools". The artist has been the one to make the actual work of art, of course. Marcel Duchamp challenged both of these perceptions with his readymades - which were neither made by the artist or trying to portray anything.

Jeff Koons has not done the actual work on most of his works of art himself - he hires craftsmen to do it. Moreover, the toy rabbit is not a particularly "interesting" thing (in the view of traditional art) - quite on the contrary, the rabbit is produced to be played with a little and then thrown away as soon as the first holes occur in the plastic. Jeff Koons' "Rabbit", on the other hand, while apparently fragile, is tremendously solid. After all, steel is used for buildings and bridges - not usually for toy rabbits...

Jeff Koons has made other works of art that I like very much, such as "Puppy", which I saw when it was in front of The Rockefeller Center, and also other inflatables.

(Feel free to give your comments on these works of arts - I've probably just scratched a little of the surface of their "meaning".)

RTW 8: Christchurch

Christchurch Cathedral

After Queenstown, I went to Christchurch by bus. Christchurch was another of the places where I went primarily to get somewhere else, but actually it was quite a nice place, and I stayed for several days (with excursions to Akaroa and Arthur's Pass in between). I stayed at the New Excelsior, a youth hostel very centrally located. The service was great (it's amazing to be able to buy tickets for the next bus trip in the reception), there were lots of nice people, a good mood in the tv room, a nice roof terrace with a barbecue and a cat that was actually quite charming.

The natural centre of Christchurch is it's main church, of course - Christchurch cathedral (se picture above). Not far from the church is the Botanical Garden, which was a nice refuge. There was also a museum in the same area, which was also one of the best of the museums I visited in New Zealand.

From Christchurch Botanical Gardens

One of my excursions were to Akaroa. Akaroa is most well-known for the French settlers who settled there a lot of time ago. Today it's just a pleasant small town. There was a modest museum and not much else, but I had a very inspiring walk in the hills above the town. I had just bought a book on Maori culture and the Maori religion, and as I sat on a bench looking over Akaroa, I understood some of the need the Maoris must have had to try to explain what they saw. (Although, obviously, I have access to lots of other (and stronger) theories - as well as a knowledge of all the competing religious explanations...)

From Akaroa

Here's a picture I took on one of the many bus rides on South Island, by the way. I'm not sure exactly where...

(I just received an email telling me: "The picture of the dog was taken in Tekapo, a little town with a beautiful lake. It commemorates the dogs who made it possible to settle and farm the land in the area." Thanks for the info!)

Previous installments on my trip:
RTW 7: Queenstown
RTW 6: Dunedin
RTW 5: Sydney
RTW 4: Singapore
RTW 3: Mauritius
RTW 2: Réunion
RTW 1: Johannesburg

Friday, March 11, 2005

A homophobic bishop...

The main news story in Norway today is that the new bishop in Oslo will be Ole Christian Kvarme. He opposes openly gay priests living in relationships - which has meant that Kvarme on his part has faced massive opposition to his candidacy.

For people in Oslo, this is serious. However, for most of the rest of the world, this may seem a bit unreal. Imagine that homophobia has been beaten back so far that even bishops face problems in their own churches when they try to restrict the rights of gays. Not many years ago, no Norwegian priest was openly gay - today people are horrified at the idea of a church so intolerant that it will not accept more gay priests...

As you may not be aware, the Norwegian State Church is (as it's name suggests) part of the state, and the bishops are appointed by the government. Luckily, the appointment of Kvarme has probably speeded up the process of separation between state and church. (How can a "modern" country have as a part of it's constitution that the king - and a majority of the ministers - have to be from one particular religion? Well, we can, but it brings all sorts of problems. Norway was just reprimanded by the UN Committee on Human Rights, for instance, because of "preaching" Christianity in schools...)

Kvarme is probably a nice man - in private. His opinion that he is more worthy of being a priest than any gay man, just based on sexual orientation (and the decision to live monogamously with the person one loves), however, is anything but nice. Interesting times lie ahead.

SAT - Sex Aptitude Test

Have a look at this: Sex Aptitude Test.

I scored a 12 (out of 20), and was advised to study up...

Spas: The bare necessities

Another interesting article on different attitudes on nudity (from the view point of one of those who are uptight about nudity): Spas: The bare necessities

It's interesting how these cultural differences towards nudity arise - and are challenged now that people travel more than before. People find that what they regarded as sexual situations were only that inside their own minds (so who's the perverts - the ones who don't want to be nude because they believe it intrinsically connected to sex, or the ones who are nude in a natural way?)

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

The way you take it

On the way to work today, a man was whistling (not very musically) on the subway. It was interesting to see the way people reacted. Some people looked at him angrily, apparently wanting him to stop before he ruined their whole day. Other people were smiling a little at the idea of whistling on the subway... (He did not seem to care what either group thought, so he kept whistling all the way to his stop...)

Isn't this often the case - that things that normally would just amuse you, at other times make you angry? How can we manage to be amused more easily and be irritated less frequently? :-)

(Not very original thoughts, I know, but worth repeating...)

A few of my favorite things

This could be a meme - or maybe just a meme in my blog only...

"Name a few of your favorite things that you will do TODAY"

(The point being, of course, to focus on some of the SMALL favorite things in life, as well as asking: "you're not doing a single one of your favorite things today? Why not?")

As for me, I really enjoy to sit down on the subway and read "The Economist". I know I have almost half an hour's ride ahead of me, and that I will read lots of interesting stuff before I'm at work.

I also love to lie down on my sofa to read some really good book - with some music in the background. I'm sure I will have some time for that this afternoon. (At the moment I'm reading a book about "the real Tadzio" - a treat.

I'm afraid there are no more of my favorite things I'll do or see today...

Thanks to Maria (von Trapp) for the idea:

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things

Cream colored ponies and crisp apple streudels
Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles
Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings
These are a few of my favorite things

Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes
Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes
Silver white winters that melt into springs
These are a few of my favorite things

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Countries I've visited (meme)

create your own visited country map
or check our Costa Rica travel guide

No more nude photos? (Ice hockey player Ygranes)

Ice hockey player Jarl Espen Ygranes, who in 2000 modelled nude for photographer John Andresen is interviewed in Aftenposten. "To show nudity and work as a model in a masculine ice hockey environment, have not gone unnoticed. The opponents' supporters have used Ygranes' modelling for all it's worth."

"They have shouted all the words you cannot print in Aftenposten", he says. "Also the word "gay" has been used often. But I can assure you that that is wrong - I'm living with the best girl in the world."

Good for him. Of course, it's strange that the opponents' supporters should flatter him by calling him "gay" - it's not usual to hear compliments from the other team's supporters. But then again, ice hockey fans are not as other people... :-)

A Book Meme

Hantojin: A Book Meme:

"A Book Meme

1) Grab the nearest book.
2) Open the book to page 123.
3) Find the fifth sentence.
4) Post the next 3 sentences on your blog along with these instructions.
5) Don't you dare dig for that 'cool' or 'intelectual' book in your closet.!I know you're thinking about it! Just pick up whatever is closest."

Well, the closest books were in Norwegian and German, respectively, so I cheated and took the closest one in English, which is "Photographing the male" by Ricardo Juan-Carlos. The photography on this page is of a man tanning in the sun, and the fifth and sixth sentence (there are no seventh sentence) are: "By placing a bottle of suntan oil by the side of the figure, the photographer invites the view to speculate on why the figure is lying there . One explanation - but by no means the only one - is that the man is taking the opportunity to tan those parts of his body that the sun does not usually reach - and has kept his trousers on to prevent his legs from burning!"

(I bought this book at a sale years ago, and had almost forgotten it - it was in a box of my home office, not with most of my other books in the living room...)

Monday, March 07, 2005

Create a Lego-you

A cool little applet called The Mini-Mizer lets you imagine how you would have looked if you had been a Lego toy... Below is a picture of me - with a book at the beach, of course... :-)


Movie: Closer

I've just seen Closer, the Mike Nichols movie. This is a decidedly unromantic movie, mainly about jealousy and mistrust - certainly not a film to take someone to for a first date! Jude Law is looking good (as always) and even playing quite well (in an unsympathic role), while Clive Owen is less than convincing in the other lead male role. Julia Roberts is ok (but who cares) and Natalie Portman also does a fine job as Alice. Women are sluts and so are men, love is impossible and the best thing you can hope for is a sweet revenge.

I enjoyed parts of the movie, and even had some good laughs, but all in all not a film I would recommend.

Children born out of wedlock

Just as a tiny comment on the "sanctity of marriage". I just realized while looking at some stats at Statistics Norway that 2002 was the first year that there were born more children out of wedlock than in wedlock in Norway. (Imagine that it's only a few decades ago that giving birth to a child out of wedlock was considered shameful...)

Sunday, March 06, 2005

iPod vs. Cassette

An interesting test..:
I'm Bored - iPod vs. Cassette

Music: Sondre Lerche

One of my favourite artists at the time being is Sondre Lerche. (Actually, he's the only artist I've seen live three times.) He is a very creative young man, whose music is friendly pop with lots of focus on harmonies and with odd ideas thrown in here and there. And with lots of extra energy to spend in concert...

Sondre has so far two albums to boast about: "Faces Down" and "Two Way Monologue". The best tune is "Modern nature" from "Faces down" (IMHO, of course). He has travelled extensively lately, especially in the UK and US.

And he's working on his next album, he says on www.sondrelerche.com... I'm waiting!