Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A few links and lists

McSweeney's Internet Tendency includes lots of funny lists, such as Strange Compliments I've Received Because I'm Not Very Attractive. Thanks to NPR for making me aware of this.

The Norwegian Crown Prince's best man, Kåre Conradi, has apparently taken photos of himself in the nude, and Vampus, apparently one of Norway's most read bloggers, have published one of the nude photos (which was spread all around after his cell phone was stolen). This has led to a interesting discussion, such as: If VG really thinks it's so terrible that Vampus brings these private photos into the open, should they spend so much energy making people aware of it? The leader of the press organization thinks not.

(By the way, the photo she published was blurred in an important area, while the "uncensored" photo is also easily found on the internet.)

Monday, October 30, 2006

Rosenborg champions



This weekend, Rosenborg secured their gold medals in the Norwegian series... depressingly...

Sunday, October 29, 2006

(Nude) ski season starting

The season of skiing is starting, and Norwegian hopes are high. This weekend, Øystein Pettersen celebrated the start of the season by running around in the nude after taking 2nd spot in Sunday's event.



This is not the usual costume for skiers, it must be admitted. Pettersen himself noted that he will not do things like that when the temperature -20C, for instance...

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

"TV-aksjonen 2006"

On Sunday, NRK (Norway's most watched TV station) will have their yearly "TV-aksjon", in which most of the day is dedicated to collecting money for a good cause - this year Leger uten grenser (Medecins sans frontieres). Good thing!

The main way of collecting money is to knock on (almost) every door in Norway, but they also have an auction, in which many strange thing are auctioned. Personally, I put in a bid of NOK 6,000 (about USD 750) for a concert by Jonas Thomassen (this year's Idol runner-up) in my own home! I'm sure other bids will go higher, but if they don't, I'll just have to invite some people and call it a birthday celebration or something...

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Movie: Scoop



I'm the kind of guy who regards every new Woody Allen film as an event. Even so, I missed his previous success "Match Point". Therefore, I decided to see his new film, "Scoop", at a free screening at Rockefeller tonight, even after finding out that there were no more seats available. This therefore became the first Woody Allen film I've seen standing...

And I did not regret it. The film was funny and the story mildly interesting. Some people go to every new Woody Allen film with the question "Has he done something completely different this time?", and are often disappointed. Although I think the variety of his movies are often understated, I don't think it fair to expect something entirely new every time (I never hear Abbas Kierostami criticized with the words "Yet another movie with no car chase or shoot-outs!") Woody Allen has a certain sense of humour that some of us love, and that sense of humour is enough to transform even an average story into a good film - and the odd great story into a masterpiece...

All in all: I had a pleasant time. And if you manage to get a chair when you see it, maybe it is even better... :-)




Scoop (2006)
Directed by Woody Allen
Main actors:
Hugh Jackman as Peter Lyman
Scarlett Johansson as Sondra Pransky
Ian McShane as Joe Strombel
Woody Allen as Sid Waterman

Index

Monday, October 16, 2006

More chess news

I'm happy that Kramnik managed to win the world championship.

While I'm at it: Zaven Andreasian won the 2006 World U20 Championship (according to Susan Polgar's blog). Good work!

Movie: Løven (Henrik Ibsen)



A 80 minute documentary on Henrik Ibsen - how much fun can that be? Well, not incredibly, apparently. This new, Norwegian documentary follows his life from birth to death, and paints a portrait of a man that is both difficult and caring. The style is nothing new, interviews with experts and quotes from his letters, in addition to lots of photos from Oslo.

For most Norwegians, much of the content is well known, of course, but it is probably a good thing to have such a film to show anyone who wants a short and painfree introduction to Ibsen's life.




Løven (2006)
Directed by Alexander Wisting
Actor:
Fridjof Såheim as Henrik Ibsen

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Movie: Water



An important movie about an important topic. The actors are (mostly) good, and the story is fairly interesting - and it is as usual interesting to see how life is in a place that is foreign to me. However, my main criticism of the film is that it does not stick to the main, important topic (how widows was treated in India - and still is in some parts), but passes on to the plight of prostitutes. That deflects my anger from society as a whole to the people who take advantage of the prostitutes.




Water (2005)
Directed by Deepa Mehta
Main actors:
Sarala ??? as Chuyia
Lisa Ray as Kalyani

10 meter naked jump, Ingjerdstrand

Searching Youtube for interesting content from Norway may give unexpected results. Here 's a video of a guy named Bjørn jumping into the water from 10 meters in the nude. Seems cold...

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Movie: Citizen Dog



This Thai movie set the tone from the first image - an otherworldly scene when the main character Pod left his home in a picture of beautiful colors. The main topics the film discusses are lost fingers, human tails, reincarnation as gekkos, recycling of plastic, gay porn, licking, talking teddy bears and...

Instead of discussing the story in detail, I guess I'm better off just saying that you never guess where the film will be five minutes later, and that there are ideas enough for four films in this one... Mostly hilarious.




Citizen Dog (2004)
Directed by Wisit Sasanatieng
Main actors:
Mahasamut Boonyaruk as Pod
Saengthong Gate-Uthong as Jin

Movie: Friends of Kim



A fascinating portrayal of how the Korea Friendship Association (KFA) toured North Korea (as "International March for Korea's Peace and Reunification"), and in the process adapted the same dictatorial and repressing characteristics as the North Korean regime (under the leadership of Kim-wannabe Alejandro Cao de Benos de Les y Perez).

Besides, it is always interesting to "visit" aa closed country, although we see only the approved parts of it.




Friends of Kim (2005)
Directed by Raphael Wilking and Hans van Dijk

Friday, October 13, 2006

Nobel's peace price to microcredit

I'm happy to see that the prestigeous Nobel's peace price went to Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank for their work on microcredit - a practice that was a refreshing bottom-up approach to development. Although it has now become a lot more common than it was when they started their work about 30 years ago, there is still a lot of work to do before poor people all over the world have the opportunity to borrow money to start a local development to get them out of poverty. (And obviously: reducing poverty is a way of fighting for peace.)

Good work!

Blue Lagoon



Yes, I admit that I considered this a good movie once - in my early teens...

"Death in Venice", on the other hand, I will still consider a masterpiece...

Croatia England 2:0 second goal video

Paul Robinson apparently didn't do a very good match in England's 0-2 defeat against Croatia. In this particular situation, it would obviously have been better not to have a goalkeeper, as the defence would then have tried not to pass the ball in the direction of their own goal...

Movie: Babel



A bit too long and a bit unconvincing in (key) parts, but mostly an engaging movie going on in three continents at once - in Morocco, Japan and US/Mexico.

The main theme may be about globalization - how events in one part of the world may influence events in other parts. Sadly, the image portrayed of American authorities seem a bit onesided, even as seen from my perspective. And the character played by Brad Pitt does not get enough flesh to make him interesting, IMHO.

Movie critics have mentioned that the Japanese part of the story doesn't really fit in, and I agree that that would perhaps be the best place to cut half an hour - although the story is a strong story in itself.




Babel (2006)
Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu
Main actors:
?? as Morroccan children
Brad Pitt as Richard
Adriana Barraza as Amelia
Gael García Bernal as Santiago
Cate Blanchett as Susan

Movie: Muxes



This is an interesting documentary on the "muxes" of Mexico, the gays and the transvestites. While it is perhaps not terribly good technically, it is very interesting to see the attitudes of and towards these "muxes", which are easily recognizable from my knowledge of attitudes of and towards Norwegian gays.




Muxes (2005)
Directed by Alejandra Islas

Movie: My Father and My Son



A touching story, with a sentimental tone but also with plenty of humour. Who thought a Turkish movie would combine these qualities with memories of the terror of torture?

I've been discussing this movie a lot with my boyfriend, who thinks the acting was terrible. I didn't notice/care about that. For me, the movie worked, but it is interesting to see how something can be unimportant for one person and at the same time absolutely ruin the experience for another.




My Father and My Son (2005)
Directed by Cagan Irmak
Main actors:
Ege Tanman as Deniz
Fikret Kuskan as Sadik

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Movie: Broken Sky



After reading Zocalo's blog entry on this Mexican movie, I did not have the greatest of expectations. I was pleasantly surprised. The topic of the movie is very simple - it is about the ups and downs a relationship between two guys go though. It must be mentioned that the guys are not of the talkative ("we have to discuss this problem") kind, and it is blatantly obvious that their attempts to mend things by physical contact is wholly inadequate. Therefore, we are in the position of seeing two great-looking guys having sex on screen, but wishing deeply that they would have been talking instead.

This is a slow movie - my boyfriend claimed that "the first two hours are terribly boring". I do not agree with him, but still believe that it could be possible to tell the same story a tiny bit faster without losing much. However, I've never really seen anything like it...

As when Zocalo saw the movie, people walked out during this screening as well. This is not a movie that everybody will like. You need to be prepared for some slow and painful scenes of human lack of communication. But I'm happy I went to see it.




Broken Sky (2006)
Directed by Julián Hernández
Main actors:
Miguel Angel Hoppe as Gerardo
Fernando Arroyo as Jonás
Alejandro Rojo as Sergio

Movie: Priscilla - Queen of the desert



I've seen this movie before, but had a new chance yesterday when FHiOHL had a screening. I liked the movie quite a bit, even though most of the ingredients have been seen in other movies as well. The basic idea - a road-movie into the "outback" by quite "out" guys (and gal) from Sydney's gay scene - is the basis for much of the fun. But the movie is also serious at times - and it's difficult to walk away from this movie without liking the characters.




The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)
Directed by Stephan Elliott
Main actors:
Terence Stamp as Ralph/Bernadette Bassenger
Hugo Weaving as Anthony 'Tick' Belrose/Mitzi Del Bra
Guy Pearce as Adam Whitely/Felicia Jollygoodfellow
Bill Hunter as Bob

Monday, October 09, 2006

Chess World Championship

As most people now know, there is a chess world championship match going on, between Kramnik and Topalov.

As I have not bothered to pay a fee to follow the game, I'm following it by reading Susan Polgar's comments in her blog, and at the same time watching The official site for the chess board. It works fine.

Tomorrow (October 10th) there is the 11th game of 12, and the score is 5-5 - if you count the one Kramnik forfeited, which we will sadly have to do... I'm hoping for a Kramnik win...

Movie: The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros



The Philippine movie "The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros" had a promising start and managed to keep a certain amount of interest throughout the film, even though an important relationship in the movie, between the young, feminine boy Maximo and police man Victor, never felt real for me. 12 year old Nathan Lopez played every bit as good as you can reasonably expect a young actor to play - the problem lies with the adult actors.

From time to time, just being able to spend some time in a foreign place (such as a poor part of Manila) is reason enough to see a movie. This is part of the reason why I give this film six points.



The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros (2005)
Directed by Auraeus Solito
Main actor:
Nathan Lopez as Maxi(mo)

Sunday, October 08, 2006

My choice of podcasts

After starting to listening to podcasts a few months ago, they have taken over more and more of my commuting time (to and from work). Previously, I always read The Economist, but now I tend to listen to radio programmes on my iPod instead. I would like to mention a few of the ones I'm listening to:

News

I listen mostly to BBC, the Today interviews. Although overly focused on British politics, they are very interesting.

I also subscribe to news podcasts from NRK, most importantly Her og Nå, but I rarely get the time to listen to it. The same goes for P2s nyhetsmorgen.

A few news video podcasts I subscribe to are ABC World News and CNN - In case you missed it, but I haven't really fallen for video podcasts yet.

General interest

One of my favorite podcasts is NPR Story of the day, which covers a very wide range of topics, but which are almost never uninteresting (although, admittedly, with a US focus).

The Norwegian pocdast NRK Østlandssendingen is interesting one fifth of the time - the Friday shows is a chat on the events of the previous weeks which I enjoy listening to.

Language

I have mentioned Podictionary earlier, but I'll mention it again: at one word a day, this is a perfect dose of etymology.

NPR's On Words with John Ciardi is in a style I like a bit less, but still it is worth listening to.

And then there is NRK's Språkteigen, which is also always interesting - particularly in the part of the show where listeners' questions are answered.

Mathematics

I've been listening to the Mathgrad podcast for a while, and it is a nice effort to make mathematics accessable. There are a few others that I've also started listening to, but I don't know them well enough yet to want to mention them...

Gay issues

I haven't really found any podcasts I like very much on gay issues - which is a bit surprising. The ones I'm listening to is either bordering on porn (Sticky Pen, Falcon Studios Podcast and Gay Sexcapades) or too infrequent and amateurish (Homofil i Oslo og Akershus podcast) or both.

Soccer

On soccer, I only really need one podcast: The Beautiful Game - which is actually my number one source for information on The Premier League.

Others

Chinese Lessons with Serge Melnyk seems like a good podcast, but I haven't had the time to really focus on learning Chinese yet. Learn Chinese Pod is a podcast with a similar aim.

Kommisjonen and Herreavdelingen are very funny radio shows in Norwegian, which I always listen to.

Ut i verden is a Norwegian travel radio show which gives information on many places I will probably never visit - but I still like it...

The Economist podcast can not replace the magazine, obviously, but occationally has good interviews.

While Vintage Tooncast is a good idea, but I rarely find the time to watch vintage cartoons. Some are funny but some are plain boring.

NPR Sunday Puzzle is a nice puzzle show - although I have problems because I'm not a native speaker...

All in all, podcasts give me input on many areas of interest to me. My main problem (other than the new iPod bug) is that many of the podcasts are too long - for me 15-30 minutes are perfect. I don't like to have to stop a show and hear the rest later. But that is a minor problem, admittedly...

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Movie: 4:30



The Films from the South festival started a few days ago, and today I saw the Singaporean movie "4:30".



This was a drawn-out affair, and turned out to be quite boring. Not that "boring" is necessarily bad - for instance, Abbas Kierostami has at times made movies which are boring and very interesting. Being boring is for instance a good way of depicting a boring life. However, being boring without being interesting is not as good.

The story is about Zhang, a little boy whose single mother is away on business. He is spying on his neighbour, Jung. Jung is a troubled guy who sees no point in life any more. That is about it.

The programme says: "Eleven-year-old Xiao Li Yuan's performance is phenomenal, turning it into a film you will not leave untouched." That is, sadly, wrong.

4:30 (2005)
Directed by Royston Tan
Main actors:
Young-jun Kim as Jung
Xiao Li Yuan as Zhang, Xiao Wu

Friday, October 06, 2006

100,000!

I'm happy to notice that I've now reached 100,000 hits on my blog...

What Norwegians earn

Today is field day for Norwegian media, as it is the day of the year when the 2005 earnings of all Norwegians are published.

For instance, the prime minister, Jens Stoltenberg, made NOK 1,027,411 in 2005, and paid 468,517 in taxes. Singer Morten Harket made NOK 4,334,965, and paid 1,589,539. Soccer player Per Ciljan Skjelbred made NOK 532,225 and paid 207,745. Ice hockey player and nude model Jarl Espen Ygranes made NOK 163,574 and paid 50,150.

VG has an article on what Norwegian musicians made in 2005. That is only one of several articles they have made on the basis of these numbers.

While this system seems strange to many foreigners, it is considered an important part of democracy here in Norway - that everyone should know what others contribute. It is also important to make flaws in the system obvious - for years, many rich people paid almost no taxes, but that flaw was fixed when it made the headlines...

Monday, October 02, 2006

Animals should be cured

In an earlier post, I discussed a new exhibition "Against the order of nature? Homosexuality of animals", which the University of Oslo's Museum of Natural History will arrange this fall.

Now, Nettavisen writes about the reaction of Jan-Aage Torp. Torp is one of Norway's most amusing religious leaders, who will always come up with some outrageous views whenever a microphone is present:

"There must be better things to spend taxpayers' money on than arranging an exhibition which will legitimize homosexuality by showing what happens among animals", Torp says. "There are two different genders, who from nature's side is meant to produce children."

"But what about the animals that are naturally homosexual?", Nettavisen asks. "Just because this researcher says this on TV2, I don't know if it is correct. I suppose that other researchers now will check this, but if it is true, it doesn't mean that this is anything good. It may be some perversion or fault that we should help the animals to cure", Torp says.

Spending taxpayers' money to arrange exhibitions on scientific results is bad, spending them to "cure" happy, homosexual animals is good. That is the world according to Torp.


Should be cured, according to Torp.

(Torp also has a blog on Blogger, although only in Norwegian: Pastor Torps Blogg.)

Joey Barton stripping



Apparently, Manchester City's Joey Barton will be investigated by the police for pulling down his shorts during the game against Everton. Which shows that *serious* crime is no longer a problem in England, and that the police is seriously overstaffed.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Don't trust VG...

Just a little mistake by VG, Norway's biggest newspaper. When Norway's most successful footballer ever, Ole Gunnar Solskjær, scored, they messed it up and reported that Newcastle went in the lead.



Okay, it was only for a minute, and I agree that VG probably knows which team he plays for. But it must still be a bit embarrassing. (And it was annoying to me - the first two seconds, before they gave the details, I hoped it was an own goal...)

What really happens at soccer practice

This video is a tiny bit funny - and the homophobic comments added to it is irritating. I wonder if google feel responsible for having a look at the comments?

A-Ha - Take on me

I have just "discovered" Google Video, and is having fun searching for good stuff. Now I found one of my favorite music videos of all time, a-Ha's "Take on me". This happened also to be the song which was Norway's first ever number one on the Billboard music chart.

Enjoy!