Friday, 30 October 2009

In the loop has finally reached Sweden..

and its getting some reviews. I saw it in the summer in Dublin, and its good. Really good, in fact.

I spotted this recently on the library wall in Södermalm:

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

The state of Swedish journalism: DN's Hanne Kjöller sees a propaganda film

Unfortunately one of DN's eager journalists, Hanne Kjöller, has seen Michael Moore's new movie. Its called "Capitalism: A Love Story". I have not seen the movie, but my expectation would be that Moore does his thing with looking at some of the not-so-pleasant sides of the American society and culture, while trying to do it with some humour. Having seen the previous ones, I dont think there would be that many surprises for me. Anyway, a lot can be said about the quality of Moore's 'investigative journalism', his rather immature style, tireless repeating stuff that is no news to anyone etc. However, that would be beside the point.

So, Hanne sees the film, and writes: "Propaganda: Michael Moore är tillbaka". Half of her text is not about the movie, but Michael himself and what he represents (Moore supposedly says that capitalism has gone too far to be reformable). Then Hanne goes on to ramble that the only alternative is socialism, and Europe has some experience on that. You know, living beyond the iron curtain was actually not so nice, and hey, try and go make your movie in a country with no freedom of opinion!

She goes on to educate her readers that in a democratic society there is room for many an opinion and you can organize work even on non-profit basis (!), whereas in socialism there is only one "model" that makes people poor. And Mike should have definitely mentioned this in his movie!

The whole thing leaves a distinct wtf-feeling. What is going on? Does she realize that from the point of view of many Americans, Sweden is a socialist country. In fact, all countries following the venerable continantal market economy model (that includes welfare benefits, rational societal planning on a national scale, etc.) would be perceived as 'socialist' even though their conception precedes this concept. Then again, some more radical socialists might be annoyed if, say Sweden, would be advertised as a socialist country. Discussion with grossly simplified terms is rampant, but this must be a new simplification record. Use just two keywords with very ambiguous content (interpretations vary wildly).

It seems that Hanne has skipped all the history lessons in school. I would recommend a read-through of, for example, the history of liberalism.

In any case, Michael Moore is the black knight, the champion of evil socialism. And he wants people to be poor! Like in Sweden! Yup.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Seeing Massive Attack for the first time and realizing I would have appreciated it so much more 10 years ago

I was tired today. That was due to the fact that I was at the Massive attack concert at the Globen Annexet last night. Not a wild night out by any means, I just happened to notice that they would be playing.

This transported my thoughts into a distant time in the past. It was 1998 and I was wearing "the cucumber salad", the camouflage of the 90's pattern, that is. I had heard some from Massive Attack's brand new "Mezzanine", and I thought it sounded seriously cool. So, come the rare free strecth of time, I was reclining in a comfy chair at the brigade library, and listened through the album. Back then, at the verge of proper adulthood, I was dreaming of farway places, looking to one roam all the continents, and getting all the adventure and copious amounts of sexual experiences a young man can desire.

And now MA was to perform live. The same day. And I have to work the next day. Pendla. Talk about customer relationship management. Fraud prevention. With somewhat mixed feelings I surfed to and bought a ticket. Had a beer.

Here is Globen, the relatively large ice hockey arena in Southern Stockholm. Looming in the background like a massive red moon. The picture is fuzzy, because I was using my mobile phone camera (only 3.2 megapixel). The regular camera is refusing all cooperation at the moment.

The place and the people

To the gig. A quick beer in bar and the show is on. We start with an eerie red light, poking forth from behind the stage like a sign of the presence of a malevolent artificial intellect.

The massive, electronic soundwall and the striking lighting soon stops my yawns. The gig is as much as an art installation as a concert. The band, including two drummers, works in front of a massive video wall. This element will be used creatively during the show.

The crowd is, again, very mixed. This must be a Swedish thing. Middle aged wives of intellectual looking (the eyeglasses, kavaj and grayish stubble-look) guys moving their bodies with restraint. Not that many young people at all. Still they only sell folköl in the actual Annexet. Strange.

It was the 90's when Massive Attack was big, and Bristol sound was everywhere, but its not that long ago. Or is it? Just me getting older, rather.

Questioned truths and trendy world-vision

Now that the financial crisis has done its worst and some underpinnings of how systems work are questioned by also others than professional thinkers (what a sane exercise, too bad this usually requires a disaster to happen), commenting on the global issues such as poverty, war and inequality has become a major trend amongst celebrities. Here Massive Attack puts its penny forth in this issue as well.

Not that long ago I saw Madonna live at the Ullevi stadium in Gothenburg (thats was a first of those as well for me). She had impressive effects on stage as well, and a very definitive societal message incorporated into the show using the videowalls. So did Massive Attack. The music was topped-up with some brain candy. The video board rolled out some horse-sized figures for comparison. Say "MCLAREN F1 CAR, £ [insert astronomical sum]" and then "COST OF A COMMUNITY WORKER IN KENYA, ONE YEAR $ 1500", "AMOUR AMOUR DOG COLLAR $ 18 00 000", and then "COST OF COMMUNITY CENTRE, A YEAR $ 15 000" etc.

Also represented were some UK and Swedish themes. For UK, the sights had been set on the new initiative to get an ID for everybody. This has traditionally roused stiff resistance in that privacy-loving island. This commotion seems rather comical, considering that probably all nordics probably more or less always carry IDs.

Anyway, Sweden was covered also in Swedish. "REGERING SKA SPIONERA VARJE SAMTAL" etc. The innocent need not to worry! I found the "ANNA ANKA'S BLUFF AVSLÖJAD" a lot more funny. Again, as a Nordic person I usually find the Orwellian scare rather amusing. All in all, this works rather well. Far from corny self-aggrandisement practised by some grandiose celebrities and rock stars who spend time 'solving' the world's problems on the pages of gossip magazines, MA does an installation of sound, video, and interesting contrasts of information, turning the event into a something you could have in a gallery. And walk out pleased with all the stuff they rolled out for your entertainment. Lagom almost. But what was the thing with folköl? That's not lagom.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Saturday lunch in the town: beasts of the wild on your plate, martini in your hand at 19glas

Today was a rainy, gray and uninspiring day at best. To cheer myself up and inject a dose on nonchalance to the day I went to have a lunch to 19glas in the Gamla Stan.

The place comes recommended, I've read some good stuff about it from a credible source. And indeed, good it is. The resonably priced lunch menu includes a martini for the very very reasonable sum of 29skr. There is a bright sliver, an elegant ray of pleasant light there is :)

The 'sage of baltimore', jounalist H.L. Mencken has, at least according to Wikipedia, called martini "the only American invention as perfect as the sonnet". I am no man to dispute this authoritative remark. What better to please your soul and tease your appetite than a clear, sublime note of grace, delivered by the best cocktail, or at least best pre-dining cocktail, in the history. The martini could have had a bit less vermouth, but I did not let that bother me. In any case, 19glas is heading into the 'getting it right'-section of reasonably priced luncheon full and well.

Starter of the day for lunch is salmon with very nice mustard dressing. I am not fond of seafood in general, especially fish. However, salmon is something I can eat but I do that rarely. However, I cannot dispute that the fresh, nice-texture-salmon on my plate is beyond critique. Nevertheless, I do not finish the dish, but start to gear myself towards the game coming up.

The main course is a curious game of moose. Moose meatballs with mashed potatoes and lingonberryketchup(!). Lingonberry ketchup sounds awful, but it works quite well, in fact. The mashed potatoes could have been a bit more solid, however.

The service is good, staff friendly and food very well worth the money. A lot of extra points come in from the atmosphere, and the martini serving, which can be considered a humane, generous act. More IKEA-thinking to the restaurant business, and the world will become a wonderful place to live in.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

There was a guy with a fez in Berns last night (as Nouvelle Vague performed)

Indeed, one of the things one comes across here in Stockholm is the.. well, good fit. By that I mean that come a concert by Nouvelle Vague - the saviour of French music - the venue had been tuned up to make it a memorable night.

Unfortunately I have no pictures of the event due to the laundry incident earlier that day.

The venue

Berns in Berzelii Park was offering, at least ambiance-wise, everything one can hope. Massive chandeliers floating in red mist, fragrant air and sumptuously ornamented theater gets one in the mood for some 60's style bossa nova interpretations of new wave punk and country tracks. Getting the audience in the mood worked very well. As an appetizer before the gig, the DJ played some tasty French pieces from the 60's to modernity, including stuff from Serge Gainsbourg. Try >>this.

Picture: Serge you old hound!

The band

This is the second time I see Nouvelle Vague live. Tripod in Dublin (a venue that is originally the old Harcourt Street train station) was the scene of the previous encounter, and NV was playing the last gig of the tour. The other singer had a pint of whiskey to celebrate that, but she did give it away to a member of the audience eventually. The gig was memorable, and Tripod is a good venue, but Berns wins because of the ambiance side and the exemplary attention to details. This is crucial in creating a memorable event.

NV performed energetically, the girls giving to bouts of wild dancing and.. er, moshing at times. Also, the legendary Dead Kennedys track "Too Drunk to F***" was used as a high point of the show (as was done when I previously saw them in Dublin) with some naughty chatting with the audience and goading the audience to yell the keyword.

The people

Crowd was very international. Whereas in Dublin the audience mainly comprised people in their early 20's, hipsterite students mostly, at Berns it was another story. Many nationalities were represented, and all ages as well. Some old radicals/francophiles/whatnot appeared in their striped shirts and kavajs appeared and we could also see some 60's style dancing and even some bump'n'grind-type of action from an woman representing the over-the-50-yrs demographic. Some wild stuff it was back in the day, I reckon. Also the type of the venue, its restaurant and club and close location to the posh sictrict of Östermalm showed in a troupe of fashion victims. I think I saw a Kylie Minogue. Except that she was more beautiful than Kylie. But very serious indeed with the tastefully hot outfit and those very high heels. Only in Sweden. All in all, an interesting crowd.

And yes, there was a guy with a fez. In a white suit. With a scarf, no less. Monocle, anyone? I was saying earlier something about how everything was tuned to fit well into the occasion and create a mood for the experience. This was an example when this goes too far. Is this the colonial Algeria? Going about the place all blasé? That's an Östermalm Douche Award- performance? No, seriously, got to appreciate when people put some effort to it. Its so rare otherwise. Grey mass. My thanks goes to, as always, to all who want to give an input to the night.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Wired blog roundup on subject "Sweden" - an American perspective is one of my all-time favourite reads on the net. They have excellent and multi-faceted reporting on what's happening in technology, electronic society and culture.

In the past I have noticed that Sweden is usually strongly connected to socialism, but any accurate information is often lacking. So, how about Wired writers' mental image of Sweden?

Condensed: A land of tedious, cucumber-minding socialists who fast adapt things like Spotify and also navigate the seas with stealth ships.

I must admit, this made me smile out loud. Anyway, check out the latest entries in Wired on Sweden:

Blog >
Biggest Record Label Earns More from Spotify than iTunes in Sweden
Epicenter The Business of Tech. Biggest Record Label Earns
Quote: "We can probably chalk some of this effect up to home-team pride; Spotify is a homegrown Swedish product while iTunes is imported from California. But there’s also some legitimate hope here for Spotify and U.S. music fans who hope it will launch here soon.

A couple of years back, Steve Jobs admitted that the average iPod contained only 22 purchased songs, while the remaining 97 percent were either downloaded for free or ripped from CDs. Spotify’s model, which coaxes users into paying monthly subscription fees to access their music on mobile devices, while allowing them to listen on desktops for free, could certainly improve on that figure."
Blog >
Sweden Rescues Volvo and Saab from Fjord and General Motors Woes
Quote: "Like a friendly foreign embassy in an unstable land, the Swedish government came to the rescue of two fellow countrymen with cold hard kronor for carmakers Saab and Volvo. Far from a bailout, the Swedish aid comes with some assembly required."
Blog >
Sweden now presiding over European Union (yawn) [Lol]
Quote: "And now the SWEDES are at the wheel. The world’s best-organized,
most tedious socialists. Guess what: in a sudden, daring move, the Swedes ease
up on the cucumbers."
Blog >
Sweden Deploys The First Operational Stealth Warships
... Sweden Deploys The First Operational Stealth Warships. ... things? Posted
by: goldenstag | 02/12/09 | 1:28 pm. Sweet Sweden! Maybe ...
Quote: "The country that gave us Volvos, Saabs and ABBA has developed what it claims is the world’s first fully operational stealth warship that is essentially invisible to radar."

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Monday, 5 October 2009

A movie deal worthy of Hagar the Horrib.. Fredrik Malmberg: Paradox Entertainment to work on a new Conan the Barbarian

Paradox Entertainment will, according to its Swedish CEO Fredrik Malmberg, start work with Lionsgate on a new Conan the Barbarian movie on the 21. Feb next year. As the director is though to be Marcus Nispel, the director of "Friday the 13th" and "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre", we can expect a medieval fantasy-splatter that leaves no man, the law nor camel safe.

The actor hired for the role of the big guy himself has not been made public. According Paradox he is not a super famous actor, but has made a name for himself. Robert E Howard's jolly, scantily clad barbarian of a character has previously made Arnold Scwartzenegger big, and look at the guy now! Like Conan, he is the boss of a state without formal qualifications!

Article on Aftonbladet about the movie project:

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Anna Anka's saga continues are some recent quotations from this ethnic Polish, newly naturalized American citizen:

– "Nu har priset gått upp. 100 000 dollar ska jag ha"

– "Anna Anka gör ingenting gratis. Hur höga tror du att tittarsiffrorna skulle vara utan mig? "

– "Sen satt det en norsk kärring och klagade på mig för att jag hade tjänstefolk. Titta på omvärlden. Det finns tjänstefolk överallt. Hon fattar inte att tjänstefolk i USA tjänar mer än vad direktörer tjänar i Sverige."

That's some deep stuff from the beauty queen, personal trainer and hollywood housewife. I am looking forward to getting more of this :)

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Cast an eye on the past for a review: Youth Novels by Lykke Li

Indeed, Youth Novels - album was released back in 2008, when I was still very unaware that I'd be living in Stockholm next year. I found it interesting back then, and now as I am residing not-so-far-away from the artist's hood of Södermalm, I feel that its certainly time to put some of my thoughts together about this album.

So, Lykke. She has the credible artistic/indie background in the sense that she grew up in various countries around the world as her hippie parents moved around (and lived, amongts others, on a mountaintop, of all places). However, she was born in Ystad in deep-skåne, the hometown of the fictional middle-aged hero of folkhemmet - inspector Wallander, the scourge of all crime in Southern Sweden. So, back to 2008. Lykke releases Youth Novels (also in the US), and performs in Jools Holland. There's also cooperation with Kings of Leon, remixes and some movie stuff. Which is nice.

So, how about the music? Lykke sings with an almost childish voice - think Björk in the category of personal voice. Otherwise, its first and foremost eclectic. Then electric, poppish, indieish in the late 2000's way (loads of instruments used), easy listening, a real lugna favoriter type. Note: try "I'm Good, I'm Gone" for a quirky, almost happy vibe. Spotify has a good collection of her stuff, remixes and all. Only caveat with her music is the irritation-treshold concerning her childish singing voice. It can be too much if you are suffering from anxiety etc. Moderation in doses is advised.

So far, Lykke-girl is fairly underground, venerated mostly by some lumberjack-shirt wearing hipsters who probably hang out at the Debaser Slussen all the time :) Or something like that. However, she is supposed to be writing material for a second album. We'll see.

Try it with a happy snappy white wine from the cheap range of Sysselsätter.

Bythe way, here is an excellent video of the artist getting at it in her own 'hood of Södermalm. A guy with a moustache watches from the window. CLick

The Guardian wine critic Victoria Moore and the fear of the Systembolaget

I recently happened to read an article in The Gurdian about the binge drinking problem in UK. In January, Guardian wine critic Victoria Moore wrote about the Home Office scrutinizing cut-price drinking deals, such as happy hours and all-you-can-drink offers. UK is, as is Ireland, a hard-drinking culture.

What sets the Nordic coutries apart, is the regulation. Victoria hopes that the Labour will not set its regulation-lovin' eyes to Sweden, where alcohol sales are done solely via Systembolaget, which is a state monopoly. Systembolaget works on the principle that if profit motive is removed, there is no reason to try and persuade individuals more than they were planning, sell alcohol to underage buyers etc.

"Apparently systembolaget has transformed Swedes from being one of the hardest-drinking nationalities in Europe (in the 1800s) to one of the lowest (now). This is all very fine but for those of us who love wine (as opposed to just alcohol), there's a problem: it means the government is deciding what wine you drink. Systembolaget carries 3,000 lines of beers, wine and spirits which sounds a lot until you consider that Oddbins, until recently, had 2,000. You can order a further 4,000, which again sounds generous, but from you can order more than 42,000 wines, and goodness knows how many more spirits and beers it's possible to buy in the UK." - Victoria Moore

What she fails to mention, is that Systembolaget is one of the biggest wine buyers in the world. Because of its bulk deals, its able to negotiate very good prices for the end users on top-of-the range articles, such as champagne. Also, you really can get wine from other sources. Jesus, go to Oddbin's pages for starters..

Vic, there's still room for wine critics even if you only have Systembolaget :)

Link to article