Saturday, January 31, 2009

Funny Quotes of the Week 9

"I can remember when the air was clean and sex was dirty." (George Burns)

"Eternal nothingness is fine if you happen to be dressed for it." (Woody Allen)

"How is education supposed to make me feel smarter? Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain. Remember when I took that home winemaking course, and I forgot how to drive?" (Homer Simpson)

"Nude shock" from Morrissey

VG is easily shocked when they claim that Morrissey's new photo shoot is a "nude shock"... Cool photo, though.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Movie: On the waterfront



For years, this film has been one that I've known that I "should" see. I've put it off, believing it to be dark and boring. It's not. Like most movies more than fifty years old, it's a bit slower than new movies, but it's not bad.

Marlon Brando of course does a great role in this movie, and the story is quite interesting. The portrayal of a society in which the unions decide who will work and who will not, is actually quite depressing and claustrophobic. It must have been powerful at a time when it was much closer in time.

On the waterfront (1954)

Director: Elia Kazan

Main actors:
Marlon Brando as Terry Malloy

Movie: Loser



Okay, I know it won't give me credibility in any cool groups to say that I enjoyed this movie. The story is simple and no lives are changed when watching this movie. However, as a simple, feel-good movie, this works just fine.

Jason Biggs, who has (I admit) done his share of stupid roles, is quite good in this movie. Other than that, I don't have much to say. Watch it if you don't feel in a too critical mood...



Loser (2000)

Director: Amy Heckerling

Main actors:
Jason Biggs as Paul Tannek
Mena Suvari as Dora Diamond

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

First lesbian prime minister?

According to Vísir.is, Iceland is about to get the world's first (openly) lesbian prime minister: "Fari svo að Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir verði forsætisráðherra í nýrri ríkisstjórn verður hún líklegast fyrsti samkynhneigði forsætisráðherrann í heiminum."

Congratulations!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sassy Meme

From Sunday Stealing, this is the "Sassy Meme":

1. If you could say anything you wanted to say to George Bush, what would you say?
You should have stayed in Texas.

2. If you had to be the mother of Britney Spears or Lindsay Lohan, who would you choose and why?
Difficult, as I haven't heard of the LL-girl. Britney, on the other hand, had the cool ad during the presidental campaign, so I'll go for her.

3. You get to be Queen for a day. The kids are all taken care of, and you can spend as much money as you want. What do you do all day?
Take my boyfriend shopping...

4. Is there a song that brings tears to your eyes every time you hear it? If so, which one?
Nope.

5. A fairy taps you on the shoulder and tells you that you can either have a perfect face or a perfect body for the rest of your life. Which do you choose?
Face, I guess - that's what people see the most.

6. If you could live any place in the world and money was no object, where would you live and why?
As it would have to be a place where gays have equal rights as straights, there's not that many places to choose from. I guess I'll say Oslo, because this is where most of my friends are - although it's terribly cold and snowy at times.

7. What is your biggest regret in life?
I don't do regrets.

8. If you could go back and visit one person in your life who is now dead, and ask one question, what would that question be and why would you ask it?
Sorry, I really don't know.

9. If you had the choice to age forward (like we are now) or aging backwards (think Benjamin Buttons) which would you choose and why?
As long as everybody else is aging forward, I think aging backwards would just be confusing. Isn't it cool to age in the same way as your close ones anyway?

10. What will the epitaph on your headstone say?
"Was a good friend."?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Funny Quotes of the Week 8

I was married by a judge - I should have asked for a jury. (George Burns)

I don't mind straight people as long as they act gay in public

A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal. (Oscar Wilde)

Movie: Sonny



Sonny (James Franco) escaped the life as a prostitute when he joined the army. Now he is back, and has decided to start a new life, long away from the sex trade which has been a part of him all his life. But how easy is it actually to start a new life in the US?

Well, maybe part of the problem I have with the film is just that: he doesn't really try hard enough. On the other hand, the actors are good, and the lives of the main characters are shown full of nuances, with advantages and disadvantages.

Sonny (2002)

Director: Nicolas Cage

Main actors:
James Franco as Sonny Phillips
Brenda Blethyn as Jewel Phillips
Harry Dean Stanton as Henry Wade

Monday, January 19, 2009

Physique Pictorial anno 2009



Out Magazine has challenged seven modern photographed to recreate that old "Physique Pictorial" aesthetic. Have a look!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Cannon Fodder Meme

From Sunday Stealing, this is the Cannon Fodder Meme:

1. Is there someone you'd like to be kissing right now?
Of course, but he's sleeping.

2. When you're being extremely quiet, what does it mean?
It may mean that I'm upset about something, and just try to make it pass before saying anything. Or I'm just concentrating on a task at hand.

3. What are you listening to right now?
My keyboard as I'm writing.

4. Are you a big fan of thunderstorms?
No. But sometimes it's cool to be inside when the weather is bad outside.

5. Do you believe in perfect?
Perfect as in "could not possibly be better"? Well, at least I'm often in situations that seem perfect to me, so at least in that sense I do.

6. Are you a jealous person?
No.

7. What was the first thing you thought this morning?
I can't remember. There's a fuzzy line between "the first thing you thought" and "the last thing you dreamt".

8. What do you think about when you are falling asleep?
No comment.

9. Are you satisfied with what you have in life?
Yes.

10. Do people ever think that you're either older or younger than you actually are?
I haven't noticed that.

11. Do you think men truly understand women?
Do men truly understand men? No. So how could they understand women?

12. How about women understanding men?
See last question. Humans can understand other humans quite well at times, but not completely.

13. Did anybody ever call you handsome or beautiful?
Of course! :-)

14. What is one fact about the last person that called you?
He has an important job - not in the boring sense of the word, but in the sense "does good things for other people".

15. Other than your current one, what’s the longest relationship you have had?
27 months.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

How to have better sex

A new survey has some surprising result - one of which may well become the most persuasive reason for going ahead with your studies: More education means more pleasurable sex.

"Men with college diplomas were far more likely to report pleasurable sex and ease reaching orgasm than those who hadn't finished high school," the website claims.

Just for the record, I do have a Master's degree...

Funny Quotes of the Week 7

"Jesse Helms and Newt Gingrich were shaking hands congratulating themselves on the introduction of an anti-gay bill in Congress. If it passes, they won't be able to shake hands, because it will then be illegal for a prick to touch an asshole." (Judy Carter)

[Meeting Aliens] "Please don't eat me! I have a wife and kids. Eat them!" (Homer Simpson)

"I know that there are people who do not love their fellow man, and I hate people like that!" (Tom Lehrer)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Best queer films

I just criticized a list of "50 best gay movies of all time" for including not-so-good films. Then I realized that I should perhaps try to give my first list of the best queer movies. Here it is:

1. A room with a view
What is a "queer film"? I don't know, but this movie - which happens to be my favorite movie of all time - feels queer. The author, the director and the producer are all gay, Simon Callow is, too, and the movie's moral is (the way I see it) "grab love where you find it - no matter what the society may think".

2. Beautiful thing
Maybe I wouldn't love it as much if I saw it again today, but at one point it was terribly, terribly beautiful and important to me...

3. Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Beautiful movie and heartbreaking story - and certainly queer enough...

4. Shortbus
Beside introducing us to the wonderful music of Jay Brannan, this movie also discusses important issues in a sexy way.

5. Eating Out
Funny.

6. Transamerica
Both funny and sad.

7. Death in Venice
The old man who stares at young boy is probably not the kind of guy we all want to be identified with. Wonderful movie, though.

8. Another country
An early gay movie, but well worth seeing.

9. Sommersturm
Simple but great.

10. Latter Days
The movie that made gays start fantasizing about Mormons.

11. Y tu mamá también
Two guys take an older woman for a (long) trip to the beach. Exotic and sexy.

12. The Birdcage
Funny.

13. Maurice
Not the best of E.M. Forster-based movies (see #1), but still good.

14. Lilies
An "art" movie which is truly different.

15. Brokeback Mountain
Hyped, but still worth seeing.

16. The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
Funny.

17. C.R.A.Z.Y.
Good.

18. Fucking Åmål
Swedish movie about a girl who does not fit in in the small town she lives (Åmål). Still good.

19. Alt om min far
Norwegian movie about the director's father, who is a woman part of the time, a man part of the time. Great film which makes you think.

Sorry for not giving longer descriptions, but the point was just to say what are my favorite queer movies as of now...

Being gay commercial

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Movie: Plata Quemada



I saw this movie partly because it was included in a list of the 50 best gay movies of all time (at #42). As gay movies have often been ignored by "mainstream" (meaning "heterosexual") reviewers and so on, I believe there will be treasures on such a list that I have never heard of. This movie, however, is rather a sign of the opposite: gay movies are such a new phenomenon that it doesn't really take much to get to the top 50 list.

The story told in this movie is apparently a true story. Angel and Nene are two criminals and lovers who are hired to take part in a robbery. The robbery doesn't go exactly to plan, and they have to flee.

One blurb on the cover of the movie says "Intensely erotic". Well, I would rather say mildly erotic. Another blurb says "The movie is so hot its on fire!" Well, I've certainly seen hotter.

The main actors are good-looking, although not exactly brilliant. The story is okay. My advice, however, would be to see the 41 films ahead of this one on the list first...




Plata quemada (2000)

Director: Marcelo Piñeyro

Main actors:
Leonardo Sbaraglia as El Nene
Eduardo Noriega as Ángel
Pablo Echarri as El Cuervo

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Hardest Meme Ever

From Sunday Stealing, here's "The Hardest Meme ever":

1. What is the bravest thing that you feel you've ever done physically?
I can't remember ever having done anything "brave" in that manner.

2. What is the bravest thing that you feel you've ever done emotionally?
The bravest thing I've done is coming out.
Except that: As I'm always very nervous when I am to speak to large groups of people, I consider the times I've spoken to groups of 100 or more, as some of the bravest thing I've done.

3. What one talent do you wish you had that you don't?
Dancing would probably be fun.

4. If you had that talent what would you be doing with it?
Dance. But I'm quite happy with the life I have today, so I wouldn't want another talent to change my life...

5. We all have our reasons for blogging but what would be your ultimate goal for your blog or as a blogger?
Last week, the Norwegian minister of education linked to my blog. That's pretty cool. But I don't have any goals in that direction - my reason for blogging is to express my opinions and communicate with the world.

6. What advice would you give a new blogger?
Blog every day. Link to other sources, but provide your own opinions. Read other blogs on the same issue. Comment when you feel like it.

7. Who are you three favorite blogs to visit (Yes, you can have ties and name more than three.)
NRKbeta
Magnus Carlsen
Bård Vegar Solhjell

8. You can trade lives with any one person for a month. Who would it be and why?
I almost said the pope, because there are so many policies I would change if I were pope for a month. But then I realized that this would mean putting my life in Ratzinger's hands for a month as well, which would probably mean that I would find me in an institution to change my sexual orientation by the end of the month. So I will have to choose someone I trust. So maybe I'll choose my boyfriend - it would probably be useful to see the world from his perspective.

9. There's a fire and your family is safe but you have the chance to save any one item from your house. What would it be and why?
The world has changed so much in a few years. Five years ago I would have chosen the photo albums, but now (almost) all my photos are secure on Flickr. Therefore, I would have to choose something which has no backup. Maybe my diary from I was a kid.

10. You have the chance to go back in time and warn yourself before making a bad choice. What choice would it be and what would you tell yourself?
I'm happy today. Changing one thing in the past might very well change the situation today as well, and I don't want that. But if I had to, I might go back to me at age 17 and say that "Your family loves you very much and will support you if you come out to them. Have trust in them."

Movie: Fanny och Alexander



It was very good to see this masterpiece by Ingmar Bergman again. In the history of movies, there have been lots of terrible villains, but the evil of the bishop in this movie is hard to surpass - partly because it is contrasted so well with the loving family Ekdahl.

At times, the movie is really heartbreaking, but it is also about happiness and love. The actors are just stunning.

I'm maybe a bit too occupied with the length of movies, and find that movies usually have no need to be more than three hours long. I very rarely watch again a 3 hour long movie. Fanny and Alexander is an exception, for very good reasons.



(By the way - if you're interested in "where is Bertil Guve now" - check the Former Child Star Central.)

Fanny och Alexander (1982)

Director: Ingmar Bergman

Main actors:
Pernilla Allwin as Fanny Ekdahl
Bertil Guve as Alexander Ekdahl
Börje Ahlstedt as Carl Ekdahl
Allan Edwall as Oscar Ekdahl
Ewa Fröling as Emilie Ekdahl
Gunn Wållgren as Helena Ekdahl
Jarl Kulle as Gustav Adolf Ekdahl
Jan Malmsjö as Bishop Edvard Vergerus

Movie: Schindler's List



Histories of wars tend to be black and white - or; "If you're not with us, you're against us", as a silly US president once said. In actual wars, things are more complicated. This movie is good at showing that - that a man can do bad things and good things, and be a saviour for some even if not being a complete hero.

Lately, the Norwegian contribution to the second world war has been debated in Norway. The Norwegian war story is nothing to be proud of - the Nazi killings of Jews were actively helped by Norwegians. On the other hand, some people did important contributions, at the risk of their own lives.

Today, rockets are hitting Gaza and Israel. Again, the situation is often described as black and white - good vs evil. Again, the truth is more complicated.

I've put off watching "Schindler's List" for years - thinking that three more hours about the war would not tell me anything I didn't know before. I already knew about the mass killings of Jews, of course - as well as of gypsys, homosexuals and other groups not mentioned in this movie. I knew how the civilian society went along with it. I knew how human beings turned into beasts as they started to believe that they were more valuable people than the prisoners they guarded. I knew all that.

Now that I've seen the movie, however, I'm glad I did. Of course, everybody should be reminded about the Holocaust every once in a while. Moreover, this movie so clearly shows how living in a time of war is not one simple choice between good and bad once and for all, but that everybody has a constant choice to make - everybody can do good even if they have so far only done bad.

"Whoever saves one life, saves the world entire."

These past few days, there have been riots in Oslo. Youth looking for trouble have been using the situation in Gaza as an excuse for breaking havoc in the streets. As several of the people involved are immigrants, this may well lead to a surge in the popularity of Norway's far right party. A liberal democracy is fragile - in dangerous times, people so easily give up their rights for a little more security. That's another lesson from this movie.

Schindler's List (1993)

Director: Steven Spielberg

Main actors:
Liam Neeson as Oskar Schindler
Ben Kingsley as Itzhak Stern
Ralph Fiennes as Amon Goeth

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Top ten George W Bush moments

I know it's old, but it's also cool...



Movie: Rebecca



Classic Hitchcock, this movie is currently at number 80 at the IMDB best movies chart.

After divorcing Prince Charles, Diana Spencer said the famous words "Well there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded." Joan Fontaine's character finds herself in a similar situation after marrying Laurence Olivier's Mr. de Winter. The third person in their marriage is late Rebecca de Winter - and the movie is about trying to sort out what happened in their past.

This movie got 11 nominations for the Oscar in 1941, and ran away with two, including best picture. Most surprising to me, Judith Anderson was nominated for her role as Mrs. Danvers. To me, Mrs. Danvers is not convincing.

Still, the movie is engaging and interesting.

Rebecca (1940)

Director: Alfred Hitchcock

Main actors:
Laurence Olivier as George Fortescue Maximilian 'Maxim' de Winter
Joan Fontaine as The Second Mrs. de Winter

Movie: Gladiator



I've resisted seeing this movie for a long time, not believing it to be any good. However, a short time ago I made a little spreadsheet to determine which of the "top" movies I haven't seen that I should see - factoring in Oscars, IMDB rating etc. etc. Gladiator turned out on 10th place (the other nine in the top 10 being Braveheart (1995), Schindler's List (1993), Gods and Monsters (1998), Plata quemada (2000), Bent (1997), Apartment (1960), On the Waterfront (1954), Rebecca (1940) and Angels in America (2003)). So now, I will do an effort to see some of these.

Gladiator surprised me. Of course, I'm not particularly fond of battle movies - and especially not when they're more than two hours long. And I have never been a Ridley Scott fan - although I liked Body of Lies. However, this movie turned out to be far better than I imagined. For one thing, there were a bit less battles than I feared, and there was a bit more politics. The story was interesting and the actors were very good.

The movie is heavy on emotions, but it doesn't seem unrealistic - there was probably quite a lot of brutality and suffering in Rome at that time.

So maybe my effort at seeing the "top" movies I never thought I'd like, may turn out to be a good idea.

Gladiator (2000)

Director: Ridley Scott

Main actors:
Russell Crowe as Maximus
Joaquin Phoenix as Commodus

Funny Quotes of the Week 6

"The very first law in advertising is to avoid the concrete promise and cultivate the delightfully vague." (Bill Cosby)

"I am a bit troubled. I believe my son has a girlfriend, because she left a dirty magazine with men in it under his bed. My son is only 16 and I really don't think he's ready to date yet. What's worse is that he's sneaking some girl to his room behind my back. I need help, God! I want my son to stop being so secretive!"

"History will be kind to me for I intend to write it." (Sir Winston Churchill)

Friday, January 09, 2009

Movie: The Lavender Hill Mob



More than 58 years old, this movie is still good - actually better than more recent "the big coup"-movies such as Ocean's Twelve. But of course the visual imagery is a bit dated - in particular the Eiffel Tower scenes would never have been done like that today.

Alec Guinness does a great role as the bank employee who has worked for twenty years keeping the bank's gold safe from criminal, just waiting for the right chance to get away with it all.

And let me give an extra cheer for the length of the movie - 81 minutes is a length more directors should strive for... :-)

The Lavender Hill Mob (1951)

Director: Laurent Cantet

Main actors:
Alec Guinness as Henry Holland
Stanley Holloway as Alfred Pendlebury

Hysteria about nudity

Chinese actor Zhang Ziyi has been heavily critisized for sunbathing with too little clothes, according to Dagbladet.

Apparently, she has been to a beach topless, with her boyfriend Vivi Nevo, and because of that, she is called "a traitor".

It's when I read news like these that I am extra happy of being a Norwegian, where we have a bit more healthy attitudes towards nudity than many other countries. (Okay, I know everybody thinks their own attitude is healthiest, but when did hysteria become a good thing?)

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Straight? Don't despair!

Leviticus International has launched a website which promises to help unhappy straights become gay.

Have a try!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Movie: Vers le sud



How suitable, to see a movie about prostitution only days after the Norwegian ban on buying sex came into effect (on January 1st, 2009).

This movie can be seen as an exploration of the psyche of the sex buyer. (The Norwegian language has the great word "horekunde" ("whore customer"), which is more unforgiving than any English word I know for the same.) The sex buyers in this movie have different strategies for making their actions acceptable to themselves: from "believing" that the whole thing is really about love, to thinking that they do the prostitutes and the society a favor by providing money for the society. However, their rationalizations have problems when faced with reality - for instance, the customer who buys sex but believes in love, has trouble accepting that other customers have as much right to the prostitute. On the other hand, the prostitutes are good at smiling, thereby making the buyers feel better about everything.

Just as in Laurent Cantet's more recent movie, The Class (Entre les murs), this movie does also have it's lapses - scenes in which everything suddenly feels very unlikely or contrieved.

Of course, Ménothy Cesar is wonderful in the role of Legba. This perhaps makes it easier to understand the behaviour of the sex buyers - but no easier to condone.




Vers le sud (2005)

Director: Laurent Cantet

Main actors:
Ménothy Cesar as Legba
Charlotte Rampling as Ellen
Karen Young as Brenda
Louise Portal as Sue

Monday, January 05, 2009

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Buying sex illegal

Buying sex became illegal in Norway from January 1st. As the ban will not help the prostitutes, I'm against it, but at least it has the merit of criminalizing the customer, not the prostitute.

Dagbladet notes that one of the first customers were brought in tonight - getting a fine of 13.200 NOK (about 1.320 Euros at the present rate).

The New Year Meme

From Sunday Stealing - here's the New Year Meme:

1. Looking back on 2008, what might your theme song have been?
Together

2. If 2008 was a movie, who would play you?
If it was up to me, it would be Leonardo diCaprio

3. What was your greatest gift of 2008?
My boyfriend coming home from his year abroad.

4. What is your New Year Resolution, or, what are you committing to this year?
None.

5. If January could be represented by one song, what would it be?
"On the road again" - back to work after a break

6. What do you wish for your body in 2009?
I will train more in 2009 than in 2008, so I hope it will get in better shape.

7. Name one new thing you would love to try in the New Year.
An ebook reader

8. What do you long for 2009 to bring?
A final end to war in Palestine

9. If that happened, how would you feel?
Relieved

10. Where would you love to vacation in 2009 if money were no object?
Money is not really the object - safety is. On top of my list at the moment is Egypt, but I also want to see a bit of India and Pakistan. And Iraq.

11. What would you like the theme of 2009 to be?
Getting better.

12. If 2009 was a book, and the title was 5 words or less, what might the title be?
Peace

Best singer?!

Among the strangest things on Facebook is the "Compare People" application. Because people rank me compared to other friends (and I rank them), "Compare People" is able to come up with stuff like this:
Your friends have voted on your strengths and weaknesses:

STRENGTHS:

best singer
most trustworthy
most likely to succeed

WEAKNESSES:

most adventurous
most artistic

Best singer?! Do I really have that many friends on facebook that don't know me at all? Or do I have a talent I didn't know of at all?



Bjørn Smestads Facebook-profil

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Funny Quotes of the Week 5

COURIC: And when it comes to establishing your worldview, I was curious, what newspapers and magazines did you regularly read before you were tapped for this to stay informed and to understand the world?
PALIN: I’ve read most of them, again with a great appreciation for the press, for the media.
COURIC: What, specifically?
PALIN: Um, all of them, any of them that have been in front of me all these years.

"Maybe, just once, someone will call me 'Sir' without adding, 'You're making a scene.'" (Homer Simpson)

"It is a sobering thought that when Mozart was my age, he had been dead for two years." (Tom Lehrer)

New Broeksma photos

Ewoud Broeksma has taken some more photos - go have a look!


Ingmar and Hugo

Going to Florina, Greece

It seems I'm going to Florina, Greece for a week in May. This is a small town (population 15,555) in Western Macedonia. I tried to look it up in Lonely Planet, but for once LP was neither encouraging nor helpful: "Now there is little reason to stop in this dull and charmless place, especially if you're on holiday. It's tightly packed with grim Soviet-style apartment blocks and despite a burgeoning student population the atmosphere is staid."

Therefore: any suggestions on cool things to do in or near Florina is very much appreciated. (I guess a weekend in Thessaloniki will be one option.)

Movie: Elsk meg i morgen



The Elling stories rely heavily on the audience's capacity for believing in the characters - there's not much action or other "distractions" to rely on if the basic human emotions go wrong. In this case, I believed in it all for quite a long time, but for me much was destroyed in the "climactic" scenes at Lone's place.

This is, by the way, the third movie in the "Elling" series, of which the first one ("Elling") was a huge success in Norway and was even nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. No such praise for this movie, however.

Elsk meg i morgen (2005)

Director: Petter Næss

Main actors:
Per Christian Ellefsen as Elling
Sven Nordin as Kjell Bjarne
Marian Saastad Ottesen as Lone

Movie: Entre les murs (The Class)



It's good to see a movie made from the perspective of the teacher, not another one made from the student perspective where the teacher is considered "evil". The movie shows quite well some of the dilemmas of being a teacher - of trying to understand the students as well as trying to help them become adults. The teacher is partly doing a good job at trying to "meet" the students, but has a way of talking to the students that surprise me - is that common in France?

Some of the scenes are very unconvincing and others are quite convincing.

Entre les murs (2008)

Director: Laurent Cantet

Main actors:
François Bégaudeau as François Marin

Friday, January 02, 2009

A photo to brighten your day

Dagbladet brings an interview with Mats Zuccarello Aasen, a Norwegian ice hockey player. And a photo.