Monday, March 31, 2008

Homework help

I've just started my new voluntary career as "homework helper" at the local Red Cross centre.

The concept is simple: pupils are invited to come to the centre to work on their homework (or play table tennis or surf the internet or...) For instance, this may be pupils who have no assigned workspace at home, or who just prefer to do the homework with friends. In addition to the "regular staff", the centre also has volunteers, for instance with the homework help. That's where I come in.

It seems interesting - and unpredictable. In addition to two or three maths questions, I helped with setting up a budget for an imaginary company and to discuss the decolonialization process. The globe was useful for showing how the borders of Africa was drawn with a ruler - by rulers far away.

I'll be there for three hours twice a month. Not exactly a heavy duty, but enough to make me feel useful for the community once in a while... :-)

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Movie: 5 løgner

Lars Daniel Krutzkoff Jacobsen's previous movies (P.u.d.d.i.n.g, Planet Gay and Sexmaskin) have been "trash" movies, made on non-existing budgets, trying to compensate for eye-catching technical weaknesses with extravagant plot lines and lots of (male) nudity. After award-winning short "Fremragende timer" ("Precious Moments"), he has now had the chance to get a reasonable budget for this movie.

The movie tells five stories, all having protagonists whose life has a major lie as a main ingredient. For instance, there is the family man whose secret meetings with a male prostitute (Frank Kjosås) is certainly not the most unhappy part of his life. At moments the movie works brilliantly, but then again there are moments when it doesn't work at all. The actors are not able to pull off the difficult scenes set to them. Gard B. Eidsvold's character does not work for me at all. Kim Sørensen's clown is also unconvincing.

It's interesting to see Frank Kjosås again - a few months ago I hadn't heard of him, but now I've seen him in both Peter Pan and in Death in Theben - and now this. A huge talent.

If you manage to ignore some obvious defects, it's well worth a look...

(And if you wonder if the director has cut down on the male nudity: yes, he has. Still, both Frank Kjosås and Varg Winge have nude scenes.)

(from "Fremragende timer")

5 løgner (2007)
Directed by Lars Daniel Krutzkoff Jacobsen

Main actors:
Michalis Koutsogiannakis
Kim Sørensen
Line Verndal
Henrik Rafaelsen
Frank Kjosås
Ingvild Lien Sunde
Varg Winge
Naeem Azam
Ulrikke Hansen Døvigen
Gard B. Eidsvold
Charlotte Frogner
Jon Skolmen
Pia Tjelta

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Movie: Farväl Falkenberg

For some reason, I have made a mental note of seeing this movie if I had the chance, and therefore it became the first film I saw in my new subscription. Not a good choice.

The movie tells the story of a few guys who have lots of memories of their childhood, although they never really left it. They are in limbo between childhood and an adulthood that by definition is supposed to take place in some city, not in the boring smalltown Falkenberg in which they grew up.

While nostalgia and a feeling of getting nowhere are indeed well worth making movies about, there is nonetheless a big risk of the feeling feeding into the movie to produce boredom. Sadly, that's what happened for me - most of the characters were not interesting enough for me to keep interest throughout the movie.

The guys in the movie spend some time swimming in the nude, which is always a bonus, but rarely enough to save a movie.

Farväl Falkenberg (2006)
Directed by Jesper Ganslandt

Main actors:
John Axel Eriksson as John
Holger Eriksson as Holger
David Johnson as David

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Hillary says lots of stupid things...

In an effort to explain why she lied about the landing in Bosnia 12 years ago, Hillary Clinton claimed she say millions of words a day. Well, one million words a day is almost 12 words a second - all day and all night long. No wonder her husband starts looking a bit tired...
clipped from

(CNN) -- Sen. Hillary Clinton said she "misspoke" last week when she gave a dramatic description of her arrival in Bosnia 12 years ago, recounting a landing under sniper fire.

"I say a lot of things -- millions of words a day -- so if I misspoke, that was just a misstatement," she said.

 blog it

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Paulo Arrais

John Andresen has photographed Brazilian ballet dancer Paulo Arrais, in his series of near-nude photos of dancers and athletes. I'm mentioning it as a way to support an artist from Oslo, of course, not as an excuse to post a nice photo... :-)

Book: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time was first recommended to me by a colleague. She thought I would like the mathematics in it. So, when I got to the "one free book" part of my coupon at the local paperback store (after buying yet another Alexander McCall Smith book), I ended up buying this one.

The blurbs on the book call it "brilliant", and I tend to agree. The book tells the story of Christopher, a boy with Asperger syndrome, from Christopher's own point of view. And his point of view is certainly not the same as that of his mother, his father or his teachers. There are many delightfully funny and sad situations in which we see how this kind of syndrome may work. And at the same time, the author manages to show the difficulties parents face, although not taking their point of view.

And the mathematics? Quite alright - and certainly not hard enough to put any potential readers off the book.


Movie: Notting Hill

Finally, I saw the 1999 blockbuster Notting Hill. Starring cutie Hugh Grant and passable Julia Roberts, it goes down the all-so-familiar road of mainstream romantic comedy. And it is so clever at it. Although the ending is never actually in doubt, there are a few twists and turns to keep the viewer's interest and enough "ordinary people" to give an impression of not being superficial (although, if it really didn't bow to the superficial society, someone else would surely have been cast in the lead roles?)

Never really boring and with solid actors in all roles, the movie delivers exactly what is asked of it. Good fun - but probably not worth a second look.

Notting Hill (1999)
Directed by Roger Michell

Main actors:
Julia Roberts as Anna Scott
Hugh Grant as William Thacker

Thursday, March 20, 2008

European swimming champion

Alexander Dale Oen managed a rare Norwegian gold medal in swimming yesterday. In the European Championship he managed 59.76 on 100 m breaststrokes, which is an European record. Cool!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Move of the year?

We are still in the early months of 2008, but Aftenposten's chess commentator Rune Djurhuus calls the following move a strong candidate for "move of the year". It was performed by Vishy Anand (with black) in the match against Vladimir Kramnik, in the ongoing Amber Blindfold and Rapid Chess Tournament:

42. ... Qf3!!

Anand sacrifices both his queen and bishop, but Kramnik has no way of avoiding the mate. (Also remember that this was a rapid game.) Amazing!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Half a million hits

It's worth mentioning that this blog has now had 500,000 hits. That is a lot of hits, actually - it's a wonder it still stands... :-)

Nudity disturbs

A cinema in Trondheim has denied screening an ad for a photo exhibition, because it may provoke the audience.

While I find it difficult to be provoked by this, I also find it difficult to be morally disgusted by a cinema deciding what to screen. I find it a bit sad, though, that cinemas screen all kinds of mind-numbing stuff without protest...

Monday, March 17, 2008

Remember backups!

Take two minutes to consider whether you have important data which you couldn't live without - and think of how you are treating them.

All the time, there are newspaper stories about people who lose all-important data. Today, there is a story in Nettavisen about Norwegian chess professional Kjetil Lie whose laptop was stolen. The news story says:
"And of course, the back-up-CD was in the PC bag."

Years of analyses of games are, supposedly, lost.

You can be unlucky and lose minutes of work. I do that all the time. To lose years of work (especially when it is easily copyable work) is plain silly.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Art: Louisiana

After ARKEN, I went directly to Louisiana (which I've visited before. This time, the main reason I was going was the Cézanne & Giacometti-exhibition. Here are my favorites from this visit:

Paul Cézanne: Female Nude (Leda II?) (1885-87)

How fresh - the pears in the corner distort the perspective and give the painting wonderful life.

Michael Elmgreen/Ingar Dragset: Powerless Structures, Fig. 11 (1997)

In the room where you suddenly get a breathtaking view of the ocean, a dive board is placed. It seems to belong there, to be a place from which to dive into the ocean, but as this is a museum, you realize that the artwork invites you to dive in a different sense.

Paul Cézanne: Still Life with Milk Jug and Fruit on a Table (c. 1890)

Nice painting - on loan from Oslo.

Andy Warhol: Mao (1972)

It's painful to see one of the world's worst despots of all time. The suffering he was responsible for is hidden in this image, making him an icon like Marilyn Monroe or Campbell's Soup... Apart from this, it's always cool to see a Warhol...

Marcel Duchamp: L. H. O. O. Q. shaved (1965)

Funny. (A card with a picture of Mona Lisa, without Duchamp's mustache.)

Candice Breitz: Working Class Hero (A portrait of John Lennon) (2007)

25 people singing the album "Plastic Ono Band", soundling like an African choir. Each singer has his own screen and loudspeaker, so you can consentrate on any one of them or get the whole choir at once. Interesting!

In addition, Hiroshi Sugimoto's seascapes are always calming, if not always interesting.


I've been to Copenhagen (and its environs) again, and visited two art museums: ARKEN and Louisiana.

Arken moved into its present building in 1996, with an expansion in 2005. Their main focus is contemporary art, but not just that. The two exhibitions right now (in additions to works from the collection) was "The Skagen Painters" and "Andreas Golder".

Denmark's most famous painting was the highlight of "The Skagen Painters". P. S. Krøyer's Hip, hip, hurrah! Artists' Party, Skagen from 1888 (on loan from Gothenburg) captures the image that the Skagen painters wanted to give of themselves.

It's always nice to finally see a famous painting like this. The summer colours are so much more vibrant in the painting than in reproductions. We've all had summer days with friends where all problems are forgotten, and this painting invites us to remember these. Beautiful!

The Andreas Golder exhibition did not capture my interest, so I'll go on to describe the top works (according to my taste) of the rest of the collection:

Olafur Eliasson: Quadrible light ventilator mobile (2002-03)

A play on Alexander Calder's "mobiles" (which I saw one of in Das Städel in Frankfurt). In this version it seems like some backstage props out of control.

Claus Jensen: Four identical spaces in the same colour placed on each wall in the tip of ARKEN (2006)

Cool orange colour and rectangles of different shapes but equal areas. Somehow, I like it.

Sarah Lucas: Beer Can Penis (2000)

A joke. Funny.

Damien Hirst: For the Love of God, The Diamond Skull (2007)

How bizarre! It's bizarre enough to make an artwork out of a skull, but then to make an artwork based on the first one is more bizarre still...

The Damien Hirst part of this exhibition also included some of his artworks made of dead flies and butterflieas - as well as some of his pharmaceutical posters. The feeling I get is one of impatience. Works like these gave me a few minutes of talk when first I saw them at the Astrup Fearnley in Oslo, but now they bore me. Which makes me wonder how long they will "last"...

All in all, the trip to Ishøj and the 30 minutes walk to the museum was worth it, particularly because I finally got to see Hip, hip, hurrah!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Movie: Kautokeino-opprøret

On November 8th, 1852, there was a fight in Kautokeino (in northern Norway), leaving the "lensmann" (local police authority) and the businessman dead. Other representatives of the Norwegian authorities were whipped. The people responsible (who were Sami) were later sentenced to heavy penalties, two of them to death.

This is the movie about these events and the background of them. On the positive side, it is a beautiful movie, profiting heavily from the beauty of nature around Kautokeino. It also includes some of the best actors in the Nordic countries. The events depicted have been discussed over and over again, especially in the local press, so it's interesting to see Nils Gaup's version.

On the other hand, the movie gets too one-dimensional. Even though the Norwegian men of authority were probably arrogant and repressive, the movie would have profited on making them more complex. The treatment of the Christian followers of Lars Levi Lestadius could also have been more nuanced. In addition, not all of the actors are as impressive as the lead characters. And of course, as in any historical movie, the end is always known in advance.

The movie has been criticised for not accurately depicting the historical facts. I don't agree with that criticism - a director should be free to change details to make the movie better. However, in this case the changes that have been made have only made the movie more one-dimensional, and that's a pity.

I notice that my review above does not seem to fit the number of points I've given at the start. Despite all the problems, however, I enjoyed the movie - for giving insight into another culture, for retelling a well-known story and, most importantly, for showing wonderful photos of the beautiful landscapes up north.

Kautokeino-opprøret (2008)
Directed by Nils Gaup

Main actors:
Peter Andersson as Bucht
Aslat Mahtte Gaup as Mathis Hætta
Mikkel Gaup as Aslak Hætta
Nils Gaup as Mons
Anni-Kristiina Juuso as Elen
Ole Nicklas Guttorm as Lille Aslak
Mikael Persbrandt as Ruth
Bjørn Sundquist as Stockfleth

Friday, March 07, 2008

Movie: Mannen som elsket Yngve

Mannen som elsket Yngve is a very good adaptation of the warm, sad and beautiful book with the same name - by Tore Renberg. The movie awakens the same feelings for poor Jarle, who starts the movie wishing for "a life", and ends up getting the whole register of human emotions in his lap. It also awakens the same feelings as the book for poor Cathrine, who is an understanding "perfect girlfriend" (if you're interested in girls) and beautiful, good, vulnerable Yngve. And not least for Jarle's mother, who desperately needs Jarle to depend on when life gets difficult, but Jarle has too much else to think of. This betrayal - which may be a necessary betrayal - is a bit less visible in the movie than in the book, but it's still there.

And of course the movie is a gay movie. Writer Tore Renberg and several of the actors have claimed it's not, but their definition power ends the moment the movie leaves the laboratory. Let me say it again: of course the movie is a gay movie - in almost the same way that "Romeo and Juliet" is a straight play. It is several other things, but also a gay movie.

Some movies give you energy to go singing out of the cinema. Mannen som elsket Yngve had almost the opposite effect on me. However (or just because of that) it's a great movie.

Mannen som elsket Yngve (2008)
Directed by Stian Kristiansen

Posting in my Norwegian blog

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Cool own goal

Here's the coolest own goal in a while... (Bolton-Liverpool)

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Living the dream

The most important article in today's Aftenposten is about Jeppe Due-Tønnessen, a 22-year old Norwegian who was travelling around the world, but who ended up on a beach in Mexico, where he found love and peace.

I believe in making conscious decisions. I'm not jealous of Jeppe's harmonic life on the beach, because I know that I could also seek happiness in that direction, but I have chosen a different path. I think far too many people let life happen without making decisions, and without thinking of all the opportunities they actually do have - and then are unhappy about what they're missing out on. However, if you have made a conscious decision on living in Norway in winter instead of enjoying the sun on a beach, it's easier to endure the cold...

The main example of this in my life happened 7 years ago. I had lived for two and a half years in Alta - in the north of Norway - and had to decide if I would stay there for another year. Alta is cold, it's a small city with limited offerings, I had fewer friends there than in Oslo and it was far away from my family. But I loved my work, had great colleagues and economically it was very good. After sitting down, weighing all the pros and cons and making a decision, life got better. If I felt lonely at times, at least I could remember that I made that decision myself, and go through the reasons why I was there anyway.

The article in Aftenposten was important because it reminds us that we CAN choose to go to a faraway country and live a simple life on a beach. If we choose not to, it's because we prefer life here.

Magnus in the Top 5!

Magnus made his third win in a row yesterday, to move up to second position in the Morelia-Linares tournament. Yesterday's win finally came after a Shirov blunder in the 79th (!) move. The game is commented on the Magnus Carlsen blog.

Henrik Carlsen writes that
Supposedly Magnus is unofficially ranked among the World top 5 (and even top 4 if Bundesliga is counted) after the win today!

The Live Top List looked like this at the time I'm writing this blog entry:

01 Anand 2801,9
02 Kramnik 2788,0
03 Morozevich 2774,1
04 Carlsen 2764,9
05 Topalov 2763,7
06 Aronian 2761,1
07 Shirov 2751,8
08 Mamedyarov 2751,6
09 Radjabov 2744,7
10 Leko 2740,8

It's amazing to see Magnus in 4th place - ahead of Topalov. Of course, this may even change today, as Magnus must surely be tired after the 7-hour-game yesterday.