Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Newcastle's terrible start

Newcastle has got one point on their first four matches, and are at the bottom of the table (okay, Sunderland are below, with four losses in a row). This is terrible. How can I explain it?

Well, I don't really have to. In my "predictions" before the start of the season, I suggested that they would end up 8th this season. I "predicted" the result of every match. By my "predictions", Newcastle should have had 3 points at this point - the only real disappointment was the draw at home against West Ham, where a win was expected.

Of course, a team cannot comfortably go on not scoring goals. My point is that four matches are a bit too little to judge them on. Noone who, like me, expected Newcastle to get somewhere near the 8th place, would expect them to beat Arsenal or Manchester United, for instance.

...and now Michael Owen is ready to play for Newcastle...





Thursday, August 25, 2005

The people I know...

When looking at my blog, I get a feeling that I must seem very lonely. For instance, I write that I went to the Freia Open Day yesterday, but fail to mention that I went there with a friend. I have forgotten to mention that I went to an amusement park with my brother and my niece on Saturday, and when I wrote about the movie Playtime the other day, I also failed to mention that I went with someone.

Does this make my blog impersonal? I don't know. I guess it just doesn't come natural to me to write about the people I know without their permission.

The same goes for my work, come to think of it. I may have mentioned that I teach mathematics, but I couldn't dream of mentioning any of my students here. I didn't even mention it when a former pupil of mine won lots of money in poker (even though he was on the front page of Norway's most popular "newspaper").

Therefore, for the record: I do have a life. I do have friends. I do have family. No, I don't do everything alone. I just don't want to share them. Okay?

Or maybe it's just that I'm so focused on myself that I forget there were other people around. Hm, is this turning into a shrink session? I guess I'll stop it here.

Art: still more Munch... (The Freia Park and Hall)

This has been a year when I've finally seen a lot of Munch's works - at The Munch Museum, at The National Gallery, at the Aula at the University and at Bergen Art Museum. Yesterday, I finally got to see the last, large collection of Munchs in or near Oslo (that I know of, at least).

Yesterday was Open Day at Freia, the more than hundred years old chocolate factory in the middle of Oslo. They have a nice park with some artworks, and an incredible Hall where the staff eat their lunches. Here's the park:



In a small pavillion, there are lots of reproductions of classic works, for instance this nice, young man:



In the park, they also had a Henry Moore - an earlier (and much smaller) version of the one at Louisiana:





...and there were lots of flowers as well (it was a park, after all). I had to shoot one of them...



...and here's another cute man I met...



The main attraction, however, was the eating place. In 1923, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the company, Edvard Munch was asked to decorate one of the dining halls. It is still used like it used to be - factory workers enjoy their breaks with a cup of coffee and their food, among beautiful works of art of immense value. It's open for the public only for a few concerts every year, as well as this "Open Day".





I only had half an hour in this room, and I will surely try to return to get a better look another time. But even for only that half-hour, I enjoyed the pictures more and more (although I do like some of his single pictures better than his friezes). I like the way he quotes his earlier works in a bigger setting.

The Hall also had an unexpected surprise: a bronze sculpture by Munch. He was not a bad sculptor either!



If you have the chance to see this hall and park, grab it! (The chance, that is, not the sculpture...)

(Unusually, all photos in this posting are taken by myself...)

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Movie: School of Rock



I'm a fan of Richard Linklater. I liked Slacker, Dazed and Confused, Before Sunrise, Waking Life and Before Sunset. (At Tromsø International Film Festival, lots of people left the screening of Waking Life, while I had a wonderful time...) Therefore, I did expect quite a lot of School of Rock.

I saw the trailer some time ago, and thought it looked amusing. Well, it is moderately amusing, but the story is just as well told in the trailer as in the whole movie. The kids are cute, the headmaster is silly and so on. But all in all it feels like an alright idea that was made into a movie before the script was fully developed...

I didn't like the music too much, either. Maybe I was just not in a good mood?

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Movie: The Agony and the Ecstasy



I do admire Michelangelo. He was one of the greatest artists ever. Which makes it a bit strange that a movie about him should have to have an introduction showing his major works. Well, I can live with that...

The "main" movie is painstakingly slow. Fittingly so, perhaps, as the painting of the roof of the Sistine Chapel was also painstakingly slow. However, to me on this particular day, it did nothing but detract from the cinematic experience.

What are the main positive things I can say about the movie? Well, we get to see a lot of the Sistine Chapel. The relationship between Michelangelo and Pope Julius II is also interesting (although probably not too historically correct). And at least I did see the movie at the 70mm festival here in Oslo, so I could enjoy the details...

ps. Watching Charlton Heston playing a gay character is always interesting, of course - although neither Charlton Heston or his Michelangelo seemed to know he was gay... :-)


Thursday, August 18, 2005

Bomb in the neighbourhood

Last night a small bomb went off in an apartment down the road from where I live, killing a 17-year old boy and injuring his brother of 19. According to the police, they had downloaded instructions on how to make explosives from the internet, and planned to use it to blow up ticket machines to get the money there.

Sad story. When I came back from work today, some teenagers were standing silently near the apartment, where someone had placed candles and flowers.


(The photo is taken from bigfoto.com.)

Jude Law nude

The paparazzis know no ethical boundaries, and has just taken a lot of pictures of Jude Law at his mother's place in Vaudelnay, France.

The media are indignant at this breach of privacy, of course. The New York Times let people watch the pictures to comment on the ethics of it - no, wait: to comment on his package. ""He's no Tommy Lee, that's for sure," sighed one unimpressed publicist who viewed copies of the paparazzi pix (...)" When done commenting on this, the New York Times went on to comment on Jude Law's recent problems in his private life.

I, on the other hand, write an indignant post in my blog to comment on both the unethical behaviour of the paparazzis and the media's hypocritical treatment of their photos. And all just to get a pretext for posting the nude pics:





Jude Law: if you read this: I think you look fine. But I'll have to get a closer look to be sure...

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Movie: Playtime



What to make of "Playtime", a 1967 Jacques Tati movie screened on Oslo's Cinematek's 70 mm festival tonight?

Well, obviously it is a satire of modern urbanity, modern architecture and minimalism. It takes place in a Paris where all buildings are equal (we also are told by holiday posters that all other cities are the same), and where people are friendly in a disturbing way - Monsieur Hulot is accepted everywhere even though nobody knows who he is, and nobody seems to care either. This is a superficial kind of kindness that Americans are often accused of - and the Americans are caricatured in this movie as well...

The main (and big) problem of this film is its length. It frequently gets boring. And when it finally gets hilarious (when we visit a newly (almost) redecorated restaurant), it is already a bit late...

A reviewer on imdb.com concludes like this: "Perfect? yes. Boring? yes. Worth it? yes". I'll say no, yes, yes.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Art: Holmsbu Picture Gallery

I must admit that I had never heard of Holmsbu Picture Gallery (Holmsbu billedgalleri) before reading about it in the material for a conference I was going to in the area. Moreover, I had just the faintest knowledge of Henrik Sørensen, the main painter represented in this gallery - and no knowledge at all of the others. Well, that was to change!



The gallery is a very special gallery for at least two reasons: the building (and its relation to nature) and the guide. The gallery is built in the woods, without destroying any of the surroundings. You enter the museum on a small path from the parking lot, passing Henrik Sørensen's atelier on the way. The building itself has got an prestigious architecture prize, and when finally inside, one of the rooms have a glass wall out to the woods...



And the guide was incredible! Nearly 85 year old Solveig Myhrer kept talking enthusiastically for almost one hour (even though she had just finished guiding another group), with lots of detailed knowledge on the building, the paintings, the models and the families of the models... I don't know if she also guides in other languages - but Norwegians should at least make sure to get her as a guide when going there!



The paintings were (of course) interesting - partly because of the guide's detailed explanations. But I hardly think that I can do them justice by commenting on them... It was interesting, though, to see the influence of different European major artists on the work of this group of Norwegian painters.





All in all, the conclusion of this posting is simple: Go there (if you're ever even close)!

Newcastle United's season

To be able to judge how Newcastle is doing compared to expectations throughout the season, I've done a bit of juggling with numbers to "predict" the outcome of all their matches. This is a reasoning in several steps:

1) Based on several preditions by newspapers and bookmakers, I conclude that Newcastle is expected to come 8th this season.

2) Based on the preceding five seasons, teams coming second get around 53 points.

3) Teams usually get around 61% of their points at home, 39% away. They get about 84% of their home points on wins (and 16% on draws), while they get 76% of their away points on wins (24% on draws).

4) Based on these numbers, Newcastle should be expected to win nine games at home and draw five. Away, they should win five games and draw six.

5) Assuming that they win against the worst team in the league, draw against the "not so bad" and lose against the rest, they will (based on the same newspapers and bookmakers) beat Manchester City, Blackburn, Charlton, Fulham, Portsmouth, Sunderland, West Bromwich, West Ham and Wigan at home, and play a draw against Middlesbrough, Everton, Bolton, Birmingham and Aston Villa. Away, they will beat Portsmouth, Sunderland, West Bromwich, West Ham and Wigan, while they will manage a draw away against Aston Villa, Manchester City, Blackburn, Charlton and Fulham.

Based on this, I will not panic if they lose their opening match against Arsenal on Sunday...


(Arsenal's Fredrik Ljungberg)

Andreas Thorkildsen 2nd



I forgot to mention that Andreas Thorkildsen got a silver medal in the World Championship earlier this week. Good work!

Movie: The Big Lebowski



The Coen brothers are among my favourite filmmakers. I love their movies "The Hudsucker Proxy" and "O Brother, Where Art Thou?", and also enjoyed "Intolerable Cruelty", for instance. Therefore, I was looking forward to seeing "The Big Lebowski".

I was disappointed. Yes, it has some funny (even if irritating) characters, and the story is sufficiently crazy. However (and this may be because I wasn't in the right mood), I found the (overlong) surrealistic sequences to be annoying instead of refreshing - they destroyed the "flow" of the movie. That's a pity, because this could have been a terrific 80-minute movie - instead, it's a mediocre 100-minute movie...



Friday, August 12, 2005

Movie: Chocolat



I remember the wonderful experience of seeing "Don Juan DeMarco" - I didn't know anything about the movie, and expected a costume drama of some sort set hundreds of years ago. Instead I got a wonderful present-day-drama about a guy, partly mythical, partly real, who managed to change the lives of the people around him to the better. And I loved Johnny Depp in the leading role, of course - and the other actors were brilliant, too.

Why mention that movie now? Well, "Chocolat" was not as much of a surprise as "Don Juan DeMarco" - I knew part of the story in advance. But in most other ways the description above also suits "Chocolat". It's simply a great, heart-warming movie.

The director is Lasse Hallström - who was also a director of another of my favourite movies, "My life as a dog" (Mitt liv som hund) from 1985.

It took me five years to finally see "Chocolat" - now I'm looking forward to seeing it again.



Monday, August 01, 2005

Quizzes suck

A friend (who is, apparently, into domination) wanted me to take this quiz. It doesn't seem very accurate, but it would be a bit cowardly not putting it in a post:

Take the quiz: "What Is Your Kink?"

Domination
You are most comfortable when in control. Having someone at your beck and call makes you hot. You can be very demanding, and expect perfection! In the bedroom, you take charge. Your motto is It's My way or the highway!