Friday, July 31, 2009

Movie: The History Boys



There are a few – but not a lot – films about education policy. This is surely one; it is about what kids should learn at school. To put it simply: should they read novels or just learn a few main points of the stories?

Of course, I also like that not all characters in the movie are heterosexual. Different ways of being human are well cast light on.

I do like movies that lets me know – and like – the characters, and this is one such movie. (But it is a bit distracting that one of the boys is Stu from Mamma Mia! – a movie I’ve seen four times…)



The History Boys (2006)

Director: Nicholas Hytner

Interesting actors:
Andrew Knott as Lockwood
Dominic Cooper as Dakin
Adrian Scarborough as Wilkes
Richard Griffiths as Hector
Frances de la Tour as Mrs. Lintott

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Leave it to Meme Meme

From Sunday Stealing, here's the Leave it to Meme Meme:

1. Who was your FIRST date?
I seriously do not remember.

2. Do you still talk to your FIRST love?
"Love" is hard to define, so I don't know.

3. What was your FIRST alcoholic drink?
Woodpecker Cider, maybe.

4. What was your FIRST job?
Picking strawberries, I think.

5. What was your FIRST car?
I don't know yet. Maybe I'll never buy one.

6. Where did you go on your FIRST ride on an airplane?
To London. It was a school trip when I was 16 or 17.

7. Who was your FIRST best friend & do you still talk?
Rarely.

8. Whose wedding did you attend the FIRST time?
My sister's.

9. Tell us about your FIRST roommate.
I never shared a room with anyone (on a regular basis) before getting my first boyfriend - in 1998, I think.

10. If you had one wish, what would it be (other than more wishes)?
That everybody would, from now on, be fairly nice to everyone else.

11. What is something you would learn if you had the chance?
Chinese. I really want to learn Chinese, but I know it's difficult to learn without setting aside a significant amount of time each week...

12. Did you marry the FIRST person you were in love with?
No comment.

13. What were the first lessons you ever took and why?
I went to school for 12 years before going on to university, but don't remember the content of the first lesson...

14. What is the first thing you do when you get home?
Often the first thing is either to turn on the PC or to turn on the coffee machine.

Tunick's fantastic nude photos

Denmark's important newspaper BT has an article today called Tunick's fantastic nude photos. The article features 85 of Spencer Tunick's nude photos of large groups of people. Well worth a look for anyone interested in art...

Taipei Fine Arts Museum

I visited the Taipei Fine Arts Museum the other day. The main exhibition was Arcadie. Dans les Collections du Centre Pompidou. As I visited on a rainy Sunday, the museum was absolutely packed, which made it a noisy and crowdy experience. But it was still nice.

My favorites from that exhibition was:
Jean Dubuffet: Campagne heureuse (1944): A cool picture of a town in childish style (of varying perspective)

Andreas Gursky: 99c (1999): A supermarket photo of abundance

Henri Matisse: Nature morte au magnolia (1941): Lovely colors - and it's great with a little simplicity in all the noise of the museum.

Albert Marquet: Les deux amies (1911): I like this nude painting of two female "entertainters" mostly for the shock effect it must have had in 1911.

Pablo Picasso: Femme couchée (1932): A beautiful example of the use of geometrical forms and Picasso's different points of view - focussing on several body parts at once (and not randomly selected ones either...)

In the "Jewels of 25 years museum collections" I liked several:

KUO Po-Chuan: Temple of Confucius (1956): Beautiful colors, reminds me of some of Harald Sohlberg's works.

HOU Chun-Ming: Gods Searching (1993): Traditional-style prints with sexually explicit (to put it mildly) images. Cool.

LANG Ching-Shan: Hermitage (1963): Beautiful photo montage in blue. Traditional and modern.

There was also an exhibition called "25 Years Retrospect of Fang Lijun". A very recognizable artist with his emblematic bald characters everywhere. Some interesting works.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Movie: 17 again



If you could be 17 again, would you? I know I wouldn’t. However, Mike, who sees himself as a failure, gets that choice and grabs it.

It’s a silly way to start a movie, of course. But it is pulled off beautifully, in my opinion. Zac Efron is a believable 17-year old star and Matthew Perry a similarly believable 37-year old failure.

Instead of involving all the problems of time travel, this movie just lets the character get 20 years younger, which creates problems of its own.

Not a terribly profound movie, but at least it reminds you not to blame others for your own choices.



17 again (2009)

Director: Burr Steers

Interesting actors:
Zac Efron as Mike O'Donnell (Teen)
Matthew Perry as Mike O'Donnell (Adult)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Swimsuits for exhibitionists

I'm very ambivalent about the new swimsuits used, among other places, in the World Championship taking place now. Personally, I guess I would prefer them to have speedos (for aesthetic reasons), but the new swimsuits also gives interesting views, according to VG (and news media around the world).



Ricky Berens' swimsuit had a "wardrobe malfunction" just as he was about to start swimming today, but he did well anyway, and "presented a good show", according to himself...

But isn't it easier to just swim in the nude from the very beginning?

Movie: Raging Bull



For a boxing movie, this movie has less boxing than I feared. But then, it is not a movie about boxing, but a portrait of a man, Jake La Motta, who had enough bad traits to destroy his life, even though he had a talent for boxing.

Robert de Niro does a very believable role, showing La Motta’s development through a 20-year period.

This is yet another one of the movies that I’ve put off watching because I thought I wouldn’t like it, but now am picking up. It’s one of those movies that are mentioned everywhere, and that you know that you ought to see some time. And it’s not half as bad as I expected. It can be seen as a portrayal of self-destructive behaviour, and I guess that is still all around us in society today, even though the misogynic behaviour of La Motta is a little bit less usual today.

Raging Bull (1980)

Director: Martin Scorsese

Interesting actors:
Robert De Niro as Jake La Motta
Cathy Moriarty as Vickie Thailer
Joe Pesci as Joey La Motta

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Funny Quotes of the Week 34

"Life is divided into the horrible and the miserable." (Woody Allen)

"Women should be obscene and not heard." (Groucho Marx)

"Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months." (Oscar Wilde)

Movie: Just a Question of Love



How many movies are made following basically the same storyline: boy meets boy, they fall in love, family doesn’t like this kind of love, boy tries to confront family etc etc? Well, far less than the old boy meets girl, they fall in love, lives happily ever after kind of movie…

For a significant part of the population, coming out is an important event in their lives, and often also connected to the event of falling in love – so obviously there will be many movies about it.

This is a beautiful movie. Laurent’s cousin died last year, and his parents didn’t visit him in the hospital because he was gay. Laurent, however, has the perfect cover; he’s living with a beautiful girl. So what could possibly go wrong?

I think the actors in this movie are superb. They manage to portray all the emotions involved. This is not a movie in which Laurent’s interests are the only ones that are shown: his parents, his lover, his lover’s parents and his “girlfriend” are all important, and we see how homophobia creates losers all around, with noone really being “the bad guy”.

I end up feeling sad that love should still be so difficult to handle for society. Yes, things are better now than 30 years ago, but still there are people going through lots of unnecessary difficulties just because we – as a society – don’t know how to deal with love. Which makes it worth fighting for some years more for a better education, to mention just one issue.

A good movie.



Juste une question d'amour (2000)

Director: Christian Faure

Interesting actors:
Cyrille Thouvenin as Laurent
Stéphan Guérin-Tillié as Cédric
Eva Darlan as Emma

New photos from John Andresen

John Andresen has published a new series of photos on his website, this time of Norwegian athlete Daniel.

Sony Reader Digital Book PRS-505

I've finally made the leap: I've bought the Sony Reader Digital Book PRS-505.

In the photo below, you see the books that were in my suitcase at the end of a three-week vacation. Quite a lot to drag around airports. To the right is the Sony Reader, capable of holding about 160 books (unless you have additional memory cards). You can read about 7,500 pages before you need to recharge. The screen (electronic paper) feels almost like paper.

IMG_4797

Granted, the books to the left in the photo do not yet all exist as ebooks. As a matter of fact, I haven't yet tried to buy a book for the reader. Instead, I am so far reading newspaper articles as well as classic books that are out of copyright. I will also read documents for work (which will save forests...) - but I will also certainly buy books later.

Newspaper articles can be downloaded from the web and read on the digital reader. The amazing Calibre software (which works for several digital readers) does a fine job of pulling down articles from The Economist, for instance, and putting them together to form a book of recent events.

Classic books can be found at Project Gutenberg, for instance. I'll mention a few goodies:
My Man Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse
Diary of Samuel Pepys
The Devil's Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce
as well as, for instance, Shakespeare, Milton, James Joyce, Oscar Wilde...

There's a lifetime of reading just there. And then there's Project Runeberg for Nordic literature...

I'll keep you updated on my experience with the reader.

Friday, July 24, 2009

First time in Shanghai – 95 minutes

I was warned in advance that the gap between arrival from Helsinki (0710) and the departure for Hong Kong (0900) might be too short – as I would have to retrieve my luggage and recheck it, and in addition change terminals in between. My hopes were not increased when the plane landed 13 minutes late and we were then kept in the plane because Chinese authorities needed to take the temperature of each of us.

The next half hour taught me this:
- The sentence “We will mark your suitcase ‘Priority’ so that it will be the first to arrive on the conveyor belt” (uttered by a Finnair representative in Oslo) does not mean that my suitcase will be (among) the first (ones) on the belt. Not at all.
- You can actually run from Terminal 2 to Terminal 1 in Shanghai in five minutes.
- Running for five minutes (with backpack and suitcase) after sitting immovable for eight hours HURTS.
But most importantly: it is possible to disembark, go through immigration, wait for luggage, go through custums, change terminal, check in, go through immigration again, go through security, find your gate and board your plane in 65 minutes. Just.

(Did I mention that I actually used one of my Chinese visas for this? I’m glad I have two…)

The Mission Impossible Meme

And from The Queen's Meme, here's the Mission Impossible Meme:

1. You are a guest on the space shuttle. You just arrived on the moon and realize you forgot something back home that you can't live without. What is it and how do you convince them to go back and fetch it?

I get kind of restless when I'm without my iPod for long. But I guess I would have to try to conjure up a research experiment for them - will the reduced pressure on the Moon reduce the iPod battery's capacity?

2. Pretend you are a teacher in a rough public school for one day. You have been assigned to teach Manners 101. You have the "challenging bad butt kids" class (remember this is a pretend school and anyway I can't say ass on my blog 'cause it's so unQueenly and I might get fined or something).
They are jumping up and down, cursing, and throwing things at you.
What is the first thing you would write on the board?

Sadly, it's impossible to change the manners of children in one day. But to survive the day, there are several strategies. There's of course the "If you behave the first half of the day, we can play soccer the rest of the day" strategy - and then we could spend the first half of the day discussing what "behave" means, thereby working on manners... Then there's always the "learning by intimidation" method, but I don't want to go there...

3. Someone in your family or a friend has started a blog. They think it is anonymous but you have figured it out. They are saying derogatory things about you. Do you tell them or do you read it for awhile?
How would you handle it?

I just had a sort of similar situation in which a parent created an anonymous blog where he wanted to discuss school policy with examples from his experience as a parent. I happened to find out who he was quite easily, and realized that the only morally defendable thing to do was to let him know at once. (The blog was soon gone.) So I guess I would have to do the same in this situation.

4. If you had one dollar left in your pocket, what would you spend it on?

Sadly, it's impossible to exchange a dollar into a usable currency (the fee would be more than one dollar, so I would owe the bank money for giving them my dollar). So no spending here - I must instead just look at it and look forward to my next trip to the United States.

5. President Obama and the First Lady are coming over for dinner. What do you serve?

I might as well serve Pizza Grandiosa, the hugely popular Norwegian frozen pizza that I'm sure they have never tasted before.

6. You walk in on your lover. They are trying on your clothes. What do you do?

Who are "they"? I have just one lover.

7. Every astronaut must have shots! Choose your vaccination: You only get one and you can't enjoy any of the attributes of the other choices. You choose either: (1) The fountain of eternal youth and sexual vigor but only for 10 years (2) perfect health for a lifetime (3) eternal mind-numbing nirvana and peace of mind (4) unlimited hedonism for one year with no negative consequences.

Wow, that's a tough one. I guess I would go for (2). Not to have to worry about health but still live a fairly normal life, that sounds good.

The Heretic Meme

From Sunday Stealing, here's the Heretic Meme:

1. Who was the last person of the opposite sex you lay in a bed with?
I can't remember any such unfortunate situation.

2. Where was the last place you went out to eat?
The restaurant at Helsinki airport.

3. What was the last alcoholic beverage you consumed?
I had a beer at a sushi place in Taipei a week or two ago.

4. Which do you prefer - eyes or lips?
I like both...

5. Medicine, fine arts, or law?
I would prefer to study fine arts, but will prefer to be treated by someone who has studied medicine and represented by someone who has studied law.

6. Best kind of pizza?
There are so many good pizzas - I can't name one favorite kind.

7. What is in store for your future?
Love and laughter, I hope.

8. Who was the last band you saw live?
Crowded House (if I don't count a mini-concert by deLillos)

9. Do you take care of your friends while they are sick?
Rarely.

10. How many songs are on your iPod?
A few thousand.

11. Where is the last place you drove to?
Somewhere in Alta. About 7 or 8 years ago.

12. Where did your last kiss take place?
Taipei, Taiwan.

13. What were you doing at 11:59 PM on Monday night?
Sleeping.

14. Are you a quitter?
I don't think so. But I tend not to start things that I don't think will succeed.

15. Who was the last person who visited your house?
My Mom.

15. What do you think about people who party a lot?
Why are there two number 15s? Anyway, they are probably having fun, and that's good.

16. Does talking about sex make you uncomfortable?
Yes.

17. What was the last CD you purchased?
Will Pan: 007

18. What are two bands or singers that you will always love?
deLillos and Tre små kinesere.

19. Which of the seven deadly sins are you guilty of?
I had to Wikipedia this, and found that the seven deadly sins in the Christian Bible are:
* Haughty eyes
* A lying tongue
* Hands that shed innocent blood
* A heart that devises wicked plots
* Feet that are swift to run into mischief
* A deceitful witness that uttereth lies
* Him that soweth discord among brethren
I guess I am guilty of "Feet that are swift to run into mischief", at least according to some people's idea of "mischief".

20. How is your last ex doing?
Fine, I hope.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Water4gas scam

Sprøytvarsleren, a Norwegian blog which reports on scams and misunderstandings in the media, writes an interesting article on water4gas. The interesting thing about the water4gas product is that there are lots of websites which tries to give credence to the product (but which feels a bit similar...), which means that a Google search produces a number of hits endorsing the product, crowding out the critical voices. It is truly depressing to see that it's so easy to take control of google searches.

Here, however, I prefer to give more critical links:
Wiki Answers
ConsumerAffairs.com

For instance, Professor of Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering at the University of California, Davis, Dr. Andrew A. Frank says:

"This has been around for years, but it didn't work back then and it won't work now. It's such a very small amount of hydrogen-oxygen gas that it is impossible to have any real effect on combustion."

Also, the State of Texas has charged water4gas for violating the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

Movie: Bent



I always get depressed when seeing movies about the Nazi concentration camps where millions of people who in some way or another didn’t fit the Nazi definition of valuable human beings were killed – gays and Jews, gypsies and others.

Bent is one of the movies to focus on the killings of gays in particular, and that is welcome (after all, there have even been instances in the past of gays not being seen as worthy of being mentioned when the Nazi atrocities were summarized). If that was all the movie did, however, it could go down as “just another anti-Holocaust movie”. However, it is also a very, very moving love story (or rather: several). And it has one of the most inventive sex scenes I’ve ever seen.

Therefore, I did like the movie, painful as it was. And the cast was stellar. To me, who loves Rupert Graves’ performance in A Room with a View, it was strange and uncomfortable seeing him as a sadistic Nazi officer. I prefer him as Freddie…

Bent (1997)

Director: Sean Mathias

Interesting actors:
Clive Owen as Max
Lothaire Bluteau as Horst
Rupert Graves as Officer on Train

Total eclipse of the sun

I had already booked my flight from Oslo to Shanghai and back when I realized that there would be a total eclipse of the sun that would be visible from China. When I checked and double checked, I saw that the eclipse would start at 0940 AM - exactly the same time as was on my ticket. Which meant that I would be in the plane as the solar eclipse started.

The ticket was not flexible, so all I could do was to ask for a window seat. And that worked out fine. Anyway, there were heavy clouds in Shanghai yesterday, so I wouldn't have seen the sun being covered by the moon. The experience of sudden night was cool also as seen from the plane.

However, it was difficult to get good photos. There was not much to see, and the windows of the plane were dirty and also reflected light from the cabin. But here's a couple: one taken at 09:41 (if I am to trust the clock of the plane's information system) and another taken a few minutes later.

IMG_4776

IMG_4784

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Airport code language

As a service to airport novices: here’s my guide to airport language.

“Please be at the airport two hours before flight time” means “We have some shops we’d like you to spend money in”.
“Go to gate” means “We are now quite sure which gate we’ll use for your flight and is currently looking for the airplane”.
“Boarding” means “There is now a ten minute queue at the gate, so get in line if you enjoy queues”.
“X Airlines is calling remaining passengers for flight XA666 to Somewhere” means “The queue is a bit smaller now”.
“Last call for remaining passengers for flight XA666 to Somewhere” means “If you don’t come now, we’ll start naming you”.
“X Airlines calls passenger John Doe for immediate boarding” means “You only get a couple of more chances”.
“X Airlines calls passenger John Doe. The gate is closing” means “We really mean it – soon”.
“X Airlines calls passenger John Doe. The gate is closing in sixty seconds” means “It’s time to get up and board the plane”.

Any suggestions for additional airport code language translations?

Movie: Velvet Goldmine



This is not my kind of music, and that in itself explains the relatively low “grade”.

On the other hand, it is a fairly interesting group of characters which are portrayed in this movie. And I did enjoy the gradual development of the central character through interviews with people who knew him – reminding me of Citizen Kane in that respect.

And then there’s yet another one of Ewan MacGregor’s nude scenes, of course – they are always welcome…



Velvet Goldmine (1998)

Director: Todd Haynes

Interesting actors:
Ewan McGregor as Curt Wild
Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Brian Slade
Christian Bale as Arthur Stuart

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Movie: Mei Lanfang



This movie (which is also known as "Forever Enthralled") tells the story of Beijing Opera singer Mei Lanfang. I must admit I saw half of it one day and the second half later, and the two halves are quite different. The first one covers the period until he has "gotten loose" from the control of his Master, the second half covers the rest of his life, including Japanese occupation of China.

I don't know anything about Beijing Opera, therefore part of the interest in the movie consists of introducing me to it. For others, more knowledgeable in this artform, the movie will certainly have other qualities.

I found the last hour of the movie very long and at times uninteresting, but it would of course be quite harsh to suggest that you only see the first hour...

Mei Lanfang (2008)

Director: Kaige Chen

Interesting actors:
Leon Lai as Mei Lanfang
Ziyi Zhang as Meng Xiaodong
Honglei Sun as Qiu Rubai
Hong Chen as Fu zhifang

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Funny Quotes of the Week 33

"Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter." (Oscar Wilde)

"Those are my principles. If you don't like them I have others." (Groucho Marx)

"It seemed the world was divided into good and bad people. The good ones slept better... while the bad ones seemed to enjoy the waking hours much more." (Woody Allen)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Movie: Untraceable



When people start getting murdered live on the internet, the CIA get their hands full. This movie is gruesome, but includes some interesting ethical questions which makes it worth seeing. For instance: when you have only one millionth of the responsibility for a murder, are you responsible at all?

By the way - the movie includes one "No - please don't go there!" scene (so well-known from movies in which four blondes have been killed in the park and the fifth just wants to go for a walk since nothing bad has happened for about ten minutes...)

Untraceable (2008)

Director: Gregory Hoblit

Interesting actors:
Diane Lane as Jennifer Marsh
Billy Burke as Detective Eric Box
Colin Hanks as Griffin Dowd

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Interesting Burger King ad

Bizzia writes about a Burger King ad that has made an impact in Singapore. With the text "It'll blow your mind away", it doesn't exactly deserve a prize for subtlety...

The sandwich seems ok, though...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Movie: Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian



Viewed as a children's movie, there is probably enough of funny fights and silly scenes in this film. For adults, there are all the gags concerning history in general and history of arts to keep them (us) entertained. I particularly liked the sequence in the paintings gallery, as well as the jumping Jeff Koons sculpture.



That the ending is a bit predictable probably doesn't surprise you - this is a mainstream US movie, after all.

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (2009)

Director: Shawn Levy

Interesting actors:
Ben Stiller as Larry Daley
Amy Adams as Amelia Earhart

The Double Stealing Meme

From Sunday Stealing, here's the Double Stealing Meme:

1. If you could turn back the hands of time to correct one wrongdoing, what event would you choose and why?
I would go back to the time of Paulus (Paul) and explain how some of his writings (on women keeping quiet, on gay sex and so on) would be misunderstood through time unless he was a bit clearer. Then maybe he would have improved his writing and a lot of problems would have disappeared.

2. Are you one for tradition? If so, what traditions do you strongly believe in? If not, what makes tradition hypocritical?
I like the tradition of Pride celebrations, to mark the anniversary of the Stonewall riots. Christmas is also cool - a nice time to be with family.

3. You were taking part in an event and you had to crossplay, who would you crossplay as and why?
I have no idea... Madonna?

4. If you only had one day left to live, how would you spend your last day? Would you be tempted to live fatally if you knew you were to die the next day, and if so, what extreme measures would you take?
That would be stressful. I would obviously want to spend as much time as possible with my husband, but also with my family. And there are lots of friends I'd love to spend time with. So little time, so many people to see...

5. What are your top five sinful materialistic items, ones you'd expect from others including those closest to you? Why are each in the position they are in?
I'm afraid I don't understand the question.

6. I am...
37

7. I feel...
fine

8. I see...
the PC

9. I need...
love - and I've got it

10. I love...
my husband

11. I wish...
for a happy future

12. I think...
memes are cooler when they offer more than two word hints.

13. I hear...
my husband making food

14. I crave...
for better mathematics teaching

15. I fear...
heights

16. I hope...
everything will eventually be fine

The Blog Outside The Box Meme

From The Queen's Meme, here's The Blog Outside The Box Meme:

1. You are in court. You are in deep doo-doo. What did you do?
Most likely, I've exercised my right to free speech in a way that have offended someone in power...

2. Your blog just became a best-selling book . What is the title of your book ?
"Nothing substantial"

3. It is midnight. The phone rings. It is Michael Jackson calling from the Great Beyond. What would you like to ask him?
How are you know - are you feeling better?

4. You are having your future told. The fortune teller looks in the crystal ball, screams and leaves the room in fright. What did they see?
Me as a future ruler of the world?

5. You're blogging along minding your own blusiness (that's blog + oh...you know) when Google unexpectedly puts a Objectionable Content Warning on your blog. Your own mother is afraid to enter! What, pray tell, did you do to warrant it? How did this happen? Do you think you deserve it? Just how objectionable are you? Do tell.
No, I'm not objectionable, but Google is based in the US which has quite a different definition of "objectionable" than the rest of us. Maybe I'm too gay for them?

6. You suddenly become God Of The Universe. What would your first Commandment be?
Be yourselves.

7. And finally, what secret would you like to tell the Queen?
Sorry, I wouldn't like to tell the queen a secret. I prefer not to tell secrets...

Monday, July 13, 2009

Ask your friends anything...

Aardvark is a cool new social answer-finder that seems to have great potential. You ask a question, Aardvark tries to find someone in their database (preferably someone you know) who is likely to know the answer and asks them. You get the answer back - often within minutes. The algorithm is based on everyone saying what are their fields of expertise. (And it's based on Facebook to find out who you know.)

The problem is of course getting the questions sent to the right person, but if it works, it would be cool...

Thanks to DinSide for telling me about this.

Book: The book of laughter and forgetting

It was time to read another of Milan Kundera's books. I feel really priveleged when I open up a Kundera book I haven't read before and know that I'll have hours of thought-provoking, laughter-provoking and insight-provoking reading.

"The book of laughter and forgetting" was written in the 1970s, and the Soviet crushing of the "Prague spring" was still an open wound. The "forgetting" part is partly about how the Soviet-friendly regime tried to erase the Czech memory and create a new one. The "laughter" part is partly about how laughter can defeat almost anything, including seriousness and sex.

There are many stories told in this book, and as usual, Kundera is very visible in the stories - commenting on why he does not name the city he writes about and so on. And his comments are wry. The book is also partly sexy, with intimate encounters described and analyzed.

And as usual, when finished with the book, I'm a bit sad that there is one less Kundera book to read... (However, there are some that I haven't read for many years, and that probably deserves another read...)

(And thanks to Bård Vegar, whose posting on Milan Kundera made me see that it was about time I bought another of his books.)

Movie: There will be blood



The era of oil exploration in the United States is legendary, and it is interesting to see this movie for its depiction of that time. However, this movie is much more a portrait of a man, and as such, I find it lacking. I simply find no way to understand the psyche of the main character Daniel, and as I've often realized before, I rarely can enjoy a movie when the main character's actions seem unmotivated to me.

I am a big fan of Daniel Day-Lewis' acting - and in particular in A Room with a View, of course - but this time, even though I find his acting to be good, I can't get my mind around his character.

There will be blood (2007)

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson

Interesting actors:
Daniel Day-Lewis as Daniel Plainview
Dillon Freasier as Young H.W. Plainview

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Funny Quotes of the Week 32

"Thank God I'm an atheist." (Luis Bunuel)

"It is impossible to travel faster than the speed of light, and certainly not desirable, as one's hat keeps blowing off." (Woody Allen)

"The only difference between doctors and lawyers is that lawyers merely rob you, whereas doctors rob you and kill you, too." (Anton Chekhov)

Everybody loves Robert

In two related news stories, I read that Bruno is taken with Robert Pattinson and that Daniel Radcliffe thinks Robert is sexy.



It's probably nice to get this kind of attention, but I know who I would prefer to get the attention from...

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Finish the Sentence Meme

From Sunday Stealing, here's the "Finish the Sentence Meme":

1. I've come to realize that my last kiss... was great.

2. I am listening to... a phone ringing.

3. I talk... and listen.

4. I love... my husband.

5. My best friend/s... are far away at the moment.

6. My first real kiss... was testing.

7. Love is... wonderful.

8. Marriage is... also wonderful...

9. Somewhere, someone is thinking... about going to bed.

10. I'll always... be myself, I hope.

11. The last time I really cried was because... -no comment-

12. My cell phone... is silent.

13. When I wake up in the morning... I often feel ready for a new day.

14. Before I go to bed... I brush my teeth.

15. Right now I am thinking about... whether I should go to bed. And not only because of question 14.

16. Babies are... too much work.

17. I get on Myspace... whenever Facebook is down. Not too often...

18. Today I... have started reading another Milan Kundera book. Great so far.

19. Tomorrow I will be... continuing reading it...

20. I really want to be... as happy as I am now for a long time.

Sony Reader Digital Book PRS-505?

As I've probably mentioned before, I'm longing for the day that I can stop receiving a pound of paper on the doormat every morning, just to read the paper. And when I can go on holiday with enough reading without having to carry many books.

To put it simply: I want a digital reader. I'm considering buying Sony Reader Digital Book PRS-505. It seems this model is better than the newer PRS-700, as there is a viewing problem with the newer one in sunlight. But is it really easy to import books etc?

Do you have any advice for me?

Shanghai?

In a few weeks I'll spend a few days in Shanghai.

Does anyone have any good ideas for what to do there?

(I've realized that I should see The Bund, visit the Shanghai Museum and see the Renmin Square, but that's about as far as I've come. And maybe the Chinese Sex Museum...)

Of course, I'll read a travel guide to get ideas, but personal advice is always also welcome...

Monday, July 06, 2009

Expono, anyone?

VG and ReadWriteWeb write about the new photo sharing website Expono, which is supposed to become a competitor to Flickr.

As far as I can see, it seems better integrated with Facebook and Twitter, but offers less disk space, and is more expensive ($45 vs $25 a year).

For me, with more than 12,500 photos on Flickr, it's not tempting to move anywhere soon. But what about others: have anyone tried Expono?

Martin Luther King Memorial

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Of course, when in Atlanta, I had to visit the Martin Luther King Memorial. He is, after all, the most important thing to come out of Atlanta. It was a simple, but good museum, a little film could be seen, and just a little walk up the street was his childhood home.

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And outside was a sculpture remembering the plight of black man in America:

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Taking the trip out of the commercial districts to the Martin Luther King Memorial was certainly a good idea.

Roskilde nude run 2009

Every year, the Nude Run at Roskilde arouses big interest in the newspapers. This year's run was no exception.

VG wrote about some Norwegian participants this year,

Dagbladet also has a few more photos and a video.



BT has video, as has Roskilde's official pages.

Ekstrabladet also writes an article, and has a huge gallery of photos from the nude run.



Any more sources you've seen?

Roskilde Nude Run 2008

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Funny Quotes of the Week 31

"It is impossible to experience one's death objectively and still carry a tune." (Woody Allen)

"Some men are born mediocre, some men achieve mediocrity, and some men have mediocrity thrust upon them." (Joseph Heller in Catch-22)

"Do not speak ill of society, Algie. Only people who can't get in do that." (Oscar Wilde)

Book: The Unbearable Lightness of Scones

I'm finding myself having an unsustainable feast of Alexander McCall Smith books. Now, I've read the fifth book of the "44 Scotland Street" series: "The Unbearable Lightness of Scones". And I enjoy it so much that I feel sorry for having one less unread book to read...

And as usual, it's quite difficult to pinpoint what I enjoy so much. One simple thing is that it is not a simple-minded, linear book in which everything has a beginning and an end. It is a portrait of a city and a portrait of real lives of people, all having their ups and downs, not stories with gigantic climaxes. And I like the people very much, and their small and somewhat larger problems.

And the humour, of course. Some of the situations that are conjured up, are absolutely hilarious.

And I take comfort in knowing that I still haven't read a single book in his "Portugese Irregular Verbs" series...

More John Andresen photos

John Andresen has photographed Norwegian model Trond.



Friday, July 03, 2009

Nude graduation celebration in Fudan

People's Daily Online writes about two male students from Fudan University who decided to celebrate their graduation by streaking - and thereafter putting the photos online.



So people are the same all over the world...

More clothes in Roskilde this year

Dagbladet reports that there is less nudity to be seen in Roskilde this year, because of all the media interest in the Nude Camp last year...

But at least they can interview people about not being nude...

Congratulations, India!

I congratulate India on the court ruling legalizing gay sex! (It's about time...)

(BBC News.)

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Movie: deUSYNLIGE



A very moving story about Jan Thomas who comes out of jail where he has served a sentence for killing a 4-year old. That background is not forgotten even though the sentence is over. Especially the kid’s mother remembers well.

Great acting and great directing.

deUSYNLIGE (2008)

Director: Erik Poppe

Interesting actors:
Pål Sverre Valheim Hagen as Jan Thomas
Bodil Jørgensen as Dansk Kone