Tuesday, December 27, 2005

God Jul!

So what is special about Christmas in Sweden besides of course that this is the land of snow and reindeer?

First and perhaps best, there is no multiculturalism to spoil the fun. No Happy Holidays, Kwanzaa, Hanukah, or baby Jesus crap; just guilt-free food and drinks. In Sweden Christmas is called "Jul" which has the same root as out English word "Yule" which refers to an old pagan midwinter feast. In short, Swedes recognize that Christians holiday-jacked an old pagan feast, they did not invent it.

One of the more savory traditions is the julbord, or "Christmas table". Swedes are always going on about their "tables", and perhaps the most used Swedish word in English also comes from this word, smorgasbord, which mean literally "open-faced sandwich table".

What is on a julbord? Just about everything, really. Normally the meal begins with a shot of snaps (spiced vodka) and some jul öl (Christmas beer) and cold herring in a creamy flavored sauce with warm potatoes. Some of the flavors for the herring sauce are quite creative and include mustard, garlic, wine, and even curry. Along with this one has delicious gravad lax (specially prepared raw salmon with sauce), caviar, hard boiled eggs, lunch meats, and crispy bread.

Oh yeah, and of course more snaps and beer. The way snaps is traditionally drunk in Sweden is in little shot glasses. Everyone downs the first one in one gulp. The next time everyone drinks half and then half again. Then it's a third. And by then almost everyone is buzzed and people go at their own pace. Technically snaps is between 70 and 85 proof, and it provides a much needed kick when too many relatives gather in one place.

After the 'appetizer' most people are already drunk and full. But then comes the main meal, a combination of as many meats as can be fit on the table including any combination of ham, beef, ribs, reindeer, and even occasionally bear. Then there is more snaps and beer and maybe a little wine if one is feeling sophisticated. For starch there is a the ever present potato dishes, red beets and other traditional dishes which every Swede could identify but certainly not I at this early stage of my Swedification.

After dinner Swedes have coffee and cakes and then perhaps a little stroll outside in the wintry sub-zeros the help the digestion process. After that it's glögg (spicy red wine with raisins and almonds) by the fire and a lot of bad singing.

Now for the real question... does Sweden have a Santa Claus? You betcha. Jul Tomten, or the "Christmas Troll", makes an appearance after dinner on Christmas Eve and hands out the presents to everyone. Normally an older male member of the family will dress up and actually do this, regardless if there are kids around or not. Christmas is a special time in Sweden where even the normally frugal (due to insanely high taxes) Swedes give generously to everyone.

In short, if you pick a day to be in Sweden, Christmas is not a bad day at all to do it. But don't be late, as the Swedes celebrate the eve of holidays, not the holidays themselves. Why? Think of all the extra days off work.

Monday, December 19, 2005

All I want for Christmas...

All I want for Christmas is a pint of Bailey's and a bunch of Swedish girls with candles on their head to serenade me while I drink it. Oh yeah, and a trip to Thailand sometime in February would be nice.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Indubitably London

That's me, Slothlock Stockholmes, in 221b Baker Street sitting by the fire in my Deerstalker hat and smoking a pipe at the Sherlock Holmes museum. For legal reasons, of course, you can't see the hyperdermic for my daily cocaine injections. When in Rome, do as the Romans I say. Whenever it works to my advantage, anyway.

Seriously, London is probably the biggest and best major city I've ever seen. I say this a lot but its really true. Really, it's as cool as Paris, only much bigger. No city I've ever seen can match its size, diversity, character, and style. The more I go there the more I like it. If you add together all the time from my different trips there, I've spent over two years of my life in London! And every time I go back I check out something different and maybe redo one or two things as well.

As I get older I love museums more and more. Why do people even take kids to museums? Even non-sentient Republican mouthpiece Condoleeza Recently agrees that torture is a bad idea in theory if not practice (healthy doses of hairy man ass notwithstanding).

But surely children are not a threat to national security. They should not be tortured by museum visits unless there are at least two dinosaurs for every Renaissance painting. I'd like to see that in the next Geneva Convention really, but I digress.

This trip I saw the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, the Museum of London in the Barbican, The Sherlock Holmes Museum on Baker Street, a kickass Edward Munch exhibition at the Royal Academy of the Arts, the Tate Britain for the third time, and probably a few others I can't remember because I was too hungover.

My mate Dafydd kindly took me to five new places in six hours inclduding Foyles Bookstore, 2 Victorian pubs, a pan-Asian restaurant, and the 12 Bar Club to see a very intimate (not to mention drunken) evening of Welsh pop music with Euros Childs ex of Gorky's Zygotic Mynci.

The rest of the time I spent in the pubs eating healthy british food like mince pies, fish and chips, and unfortunately on my last day whitebait in Greenich for a final farewell pub visit with Svenja and friends. Whitebait, for those who don't know, is whole deep fried baby herring. It may be okay in very small doses, but a whole plate of it for lunch on an empty stomach is not a good idea. I was burping up this crap for the rest of the day and I kept thinking about all the little fish heads and tails and I was thought I was going to hurl a river of ale and little fishes all over the airplane.

And finally, I just want to thank the people of Britain for making London so cool. You are certainly not as bad as the rest of the world say you are.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Drinkin' at the Ritz

After staying with the lovely and talented pride of Germany, Svenja, for a few drunken days I'm now staying at the Ritz Hotel by Green Park. I know that makes me sound like a posh twat but I'm sleeping on a sofa bed. Personally, I would rather stay somewhere else, but I can't afford 100 pounds a night for my own room somewhere else. You see I'm crashing with the parents who are also in town. This is the irony of my life - I can't afford the Holiday Inn so I stay at the Ritz. The room is of course comped by my dad's company. You gotta love that. Half the reason the wealthy are wealthy is because they never pay for anything. That is just weird how life works.

Anyway, I've been out drinking for a few days now, and recently finished a review of the new Babyshambles album on Pax Acidus... and since you were obviously really bored if you were looking here for some entertainment you can read that instead. Love from Sloth. And if you're still bored after that you can see if you can break my new record of three bottles of wine in two hours... it's harder than it sounds. No puking though or you forfeit.


Winter Wonderland

Well Winter has been here a few months. We've had a few snows before this but its now been snowing all day and it just makes everything look so majestic. It's been years since a real snow storm that didn't melt away into mush after a few hours.

In fact the whole city looks spectacular with the advent candles and the kids sledding and the snow falling gently around the city.

I've been working my ass off on some IT projects, trying to get more clients, and drinking Jul-Öl (Christmas beer). Devendra Barnhart is on the stereo and I feel like a little child again (but I don't want to marry one).

I almost feel a little sad to be going to London for a week on Wednesday. It will be a tough week of seeing old friends and drinking ales all day in the pubs. And my parents will be there so they can take me shopping at Selfridges and out to eat at restaurants I can't afford, etc. Somebody's got to do it.

And after all, when I get back there will still be 4 months of Swedish Winter left.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Microsoft X-Box Group is Evil

Okay I know I know... nobody who reads this cares.


Here are some Xbox 360 statistics:

- There are over 1700 parts inside every Xbox 360. The unit is made in China where recently a river of toxic slime flowed into a city without warning.

- Some say Microsoft intentionally did not release enough units so they would create the kind of headline grabbing XBox violence that occurred in a middle America Walmart yesterday.

- Microsoft loses $126 with each Xbox 360 sale in an attempt to grab market share from its rivals. Last year the Xbox 360 division of MS lost over $300 million even though the console sold better than expectations.

- Microsoft has this money to burn because of illegal trade practices it has remained largely unpunished for, and of course a great marketing and legal team.

- Initial reports say that many of the new XBox 360 consoles are defective. Some reports say that the design of the unit has fundamental problems.

- Microsoft's main goal with the Xbox 360 is to be the brains of the world's living room. If MS gets its way, you will be able to play games, watch movies, order pizza, surf the web, etc from your couch. They expect to sell 3 million units this Christmas and 5.5 million units by July.

- Sony is not expected to release its competing product, Playstation 3, until the Spring of 2006. Chances are it will be a much higher quality unit with better games and worth the wait.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

WTF Revisited

I had another job interview yesterday. It was for a consultant position as an English teacher. Seems pretty mellow... it pays SEK 400 (US $60) per hour to teach Business and IT English. So it's right up my alley.

I don't know if you remember... but the last time I applied for a job like this I didn't get the position because the interviewer thought I was OVERQUALIFIED and would STEAL THE CLIENTS. The woman was an idiot, but in Sweden being overqualified is still generally a reason not to hire someone. Swedes have an instinctual feeling for social harmony.

In the USA I think we try to get the best people we can. I haven't heard of an applicant being overqualified since Dustin Hoffman in Kramer vs. Kramer. And that was a movie. And even he got the job after he explained the circumstances. In America if you can get a bargain because the labor market sucks you take it.

Well this is Sweden not America so I knew how to play the game this time. I dressed nice for the interview, smiled, and acted pretty unambitious. By the end of the interview I was asked, "So when can you start?"

Sheeple of the world, unite. A career in Sweden awaits thee.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Swedish Beer: Åbro Original

Many people, including my lovely Linda, often say to people that Spendrups or Pripps is the archetypical Swedish beer. I beg to differ. For me it's Åbro.

Why? Well, it's 5.2 percent, it's drinkable, and it's got a rather sweet malty taste that begs the question... can I have another?

I remember before even coming to Stockholm I was trapped in London watching an Eminemn DVD (okay I admit it I am a closet Eminem fan, shame on me, etc.) and he was doing a skit about a concert they had done in Stockholm where he pronounced the beer, "Eh, bro". So it was like,

Eminem: "Eh, bro."
D12: "What?"
Eminem: "No it's the name of the beer, Åbro!"

But Linda who is sometimes a poopy pants when it comes to making fun of the Swedish language and people was quick to but in that that he had bungled the pronunciation and that it should be pronounced "O-ah-bro" not "AY-bro".

Oh well. However you pronounce it, it's still better than sobriety.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Swedish Beer: Wisby Pils

Flavor: 2/5
Palate: 4/5
Drinkability: 3/5
Price: SEK 11 per 33cl bottle

From the island of Gotland comes Wisby Pils. It's a beer that wants to be Czech, but unfortunately for it, it is Swedish. It's too refined, bland, and creamy of a pilsner to be Czech, however bad it yearns to be so. But why not strive to be the best? Czech beers are all the rage in Sweden and also with this sloth. Some of my favorite golden beers are Pilsner Urquell, and Staropromen.

Wisby Pils is named after the capital city of Gotland, Visby. The 'W' in the name of the beer comes from Sweden's constant confusion about their own alphabet. Why this confusion? I don't know. They mix up their W's and V's like the Dickens. And don't even get me started on the J's and Y's . But they probably say the same thing about us.

I first went to Visby on Gotland when I was 11 years old. I got drunk a few times surreptitiously but never on this beer, which didn't exist at the time. It's more of a microbrew, even though it is distributed by Spendrups, the largest beer company in Sweden. Drink it if you are in Visby or if the bar doesn't have any Czech pilsners.

Summary: This beer may be a Czech pretender, but it's still better than most Swedish beers.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Aristocrats, A Drunken Post

Been seeing a lot of movies lately. I normally don't like films but for some reason in Europe they are a good way to keep in touch with the best of American culture without watching TV shows, which I refuse to do.

Recently saw a move called The Aristocrats. Probably didn't play in too many theaters in the USA because of the strong intellectual subject matter. No media companies want to be associated with that stuff. Worse than terrorism, it is. The last thing they want is consumers thinking. The cast was good... everyone from Cartman to Don Rickles to Bob Sagat was in it. 75 jokers in all, all of them stand-up comedians.

I love stand-up. I think Woody Allen, Richard Pryor and Bill Hicks are three of the best I've seen. I never understood what was so funny about Lenny Bruce, even though I realize he was sort of a godfather of modern comedy. Sometimes it's true that you had to be there. So much so that the actual originals sound boring because they are so copied that everything they say sounds like a cliche.

A literary example is Jean-Jacques Rousseau's "Julie, or the New Heloise", which I had to read in a Literature class in Paris and was so bad it made me want to jump off the Eiffel Tower instead of reading it. When I told the professor how bad I thought it was he actually agreed and said that because we are Modern we cannot read such things because we live them day to day and take we take them for granted.

What's the name of this post? Oh yeah. The Aristocrats. Funny joke? See for yourself. It's not a knee slapper but a perfect metaphor for the human condition. If you don't get it well then you gotta go see the entire film where they tell the joke 50 times and then evaluate it from every possible angle.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

The Swedish Welfare State

Warning: Second Educational Post in a Row

The typical Swede (Sven Medelsvensson) of today is almost an entirely different species than his ancestor Erik The Viking.

In the past, Erik and his hairy mates would drink grog and cohort for months until running out of money. Then they would jump in a boat, travel to Poland, the Baltic States, The British Isles, or France and proceed to rape and pillage the shit out them until it was time to come home and drink some more.

Today the typical Swede works a white-collar job, lives unmarried with his partner, has kids, and has a house or apartment of his own. He has traveled all over the world, speaks good English and perhaps another language (such as Spanish), and enjoys boating and other outdoor activities. He still drinks but only on weekends and no foreigners usually get hurt.

But that was all very recently. Sweden was of course heavily influenced in the Middle Ages by its teutonic neighbor to the South, Germany, Sweden's largest trading partner for hundreds of years until after WW2 (today its the USA). As late as 100 years ago, Swedes were notorious for beating their children, drinking enough vodka to make a Russian blush, going to war at every opportunity, starving to death due to bad politics, and being so Christian as to make unmarried women and their children enter a special door in the church. And due to Sweden's homogeneous racial profile, it tended to land on the xenophobic side of the fence.

How xenophobic was Sweden? Only Nazi Germany had a larger per capita Eugenics program than Sweden. Sweden sterilized people up until 1970. As late as the 1950's they did this for even trivial reasons: such as belonging to a motorcycle gang, being an unclean race, being retarded, being an unfit parent, etc.

But how did this transformation happen? And why is it unthinkable for it to happen again? Why do typical Swedish children pick flowers and berries while English kids are throwing rocks and American kids are shooting each other with semi-automatic weapons? My theory is the twin blessings of the death of organized religion (intellectual enlightenment) and the rise of the social welfare state which came with Sweden's growing wealth after WW2.

Sweden made BANK during and after World War 2 by supplying Hitler with raw materials for his war machine in exchange for being left alone. And after World War 2, while the rest of Europe was decimated, Sweden was booming with a trained workforce and an intact manufacturing base.

So wealth is almost certainly one of the reasons. But I would not discount the death of organized religion as a contributing factor. In Sweden, going to church is seen as the intellectual equivalent of losing a war to Poland. Swedes (and me) share a mix of embarrassment and horror when politicians in America use the G word in speeches and Presidents like Reagan and GW Bush mention publicly that they talk to God.

What are the benefits of living in a country like Sweden? It is against the law to beat children, jobs are so cush you get a month off per year and get this... you get paid MORE FOR VACATION TIME than you do when you are working (I'd like to see someone suggest that in the States) and wait, there's more... socialized medicine, free higher education, permanent unemployment benefits, and more.

Despite its industrial base, Sweden ranks amongst the best countries in terms of clean air, water, and recycling. Rumor has it you can drink out of Lake Mälaren that encircles Stockholm. I've swallowed water swimming in that lake but I personally wouldn't want to drink it on purpose. That being said... the rest of the world could learn alot from studying this place.

Just remember to separate the green bottles from the clear bottles or they might revert and cut your nuts off.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The Sami People of Northern Sweden

Sami People

This is going to be one of those educational posts for people who don't know much about Sweden. For those who already know or don't give a shit I apologize in advance. You have been warned.

Back in the Viking days when the Swedes first came to Sweden, the area was already inhabited by an indigenous people. These Sami people were nomadic people who followed the herds reindeer around, killing them for food, clothing, and shelter.

In the rest of the world these people are popularly known as Lapplanders, but in Scandinavia that's not PC and so they call them the Sami people. At first I thought the Swedes were calling them the "Salami" people and I had one of those Homer Simpson moments I occasionally get (mmm... Salami people).

But the Sami people are not a renegade crew of Italians who were sick of hot weather and Chianti. Their exact origin is unknown, but they have been living in the Northernmost part of Sweden for over 2,500 years. Had the Sami people been tall and blond like the Swedes they most likely would have been left alone. But alas, they are small and dark.

So the Swedes didn't just let them freewheel hippy around the North of Sweden chasing the reindeer in peace. Just like the Americans did later, they tried to convert to them Christianity, kill them, make them pay taxes, and all that good stuff.

Eventually they made peace. Why? Why not? The North of Sweden is just like the North of Canada. Not much up there but snow, moose, reindeer, and Sami people. Plenty of room for everyone.

How did the Sami people get from from Asia to Northern Europe? How can they have such a similar look, lifestyle and architecture with America Indians who lived so far away? Bering Strait I guess. Who knows.

The Sami people don't speak Swedish. They speak Sami, which is totally unique, although a lot of words are borrowed from Finno-Ugric languages like Finnish and Hungarian.

For more information about the Sami people of Northern Sweden see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sami


Mmm... Reindeer Burgers
The Holiday season is not far away. This year, why not forego the normal Christmas roast or turkey and feast on lovely reindeer meat? How nice would it be to sing songs in praise of Rudolph after chowing down on some hamburgers made from his relatives? Rudolph Burgers are 100% Guaranteed to be free from noses, glowing or otherwise.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Club an American Today!

Now normally I wouldn't do cheesy things like join an American Club abroad. I mean, I don't really like America that much, and I did leave it behind... so why travel 8,000 miles away and then pay $30 a year in dues to surround yourself with a bunch of Americans again?

Well many reasons, the first of course being jobs. Not blow jobs, mind you, but the regular kind. As a freelancer you need contacts. Because contacts means money. Networking is new to me, but all it really means is drinking, eating greasy food, and trying to make each other money. That's not so bad. I can do that.

Secondly, after living in Sweden now for six months I do miss hearing English. Of course I hear foreigners speaking English... first and foremost Swedish English and second most the other eurotrash English dialects, and then British English (who technically aren't foreign English speakers by the way), but now and again a bit of American twang really soothes the soul. And all Americans do have twang, not just the southeners. Although they definitely have the most twang. By far. Like the banjo in Deliverance.

Thirdly, if that's a word at all, Swedes all speak English... but they don't really LIKE to speak English in Sweden. They like to speak Swedish in Sweden. So to them it's always a bit of a chore to get them to speak with you. Some don't like it when they are at a party and you come up to them (normally drunk) and start speaking English. Some Swedes are hesitant to begin speaking, and then once they get started they never shut up. Some of course can speak in moderation, and those people are my friends. I need friends, man. No man is an island. I forget who said that but he was right on.

Fourthly, Americans living abroad, that is, expatriate Americans, are the best Americans there are. To me, the fact that George Bush had never left the country before being President (besides of course whoring in Mexico) and Hemingway lived 20 years abroad says a lot. Who would you want to hang out with? Hemingway or George Bush? Maybe neither, but given a choice I'd take Papa Hem. I like my dysfunctional suicidal alcoholics literary.

Fifthly and lastly, The American Club of Sweden not only has casual bowling nights, pub nights, chocolate tastings, and business meetings... but also two or three black tie events per year which gives you a chance to go out and meet other crazy, neurotic people like yourself, drink champagne and smoke cigars... and try to find work contracts. I got three so far, not bad for Fall in Sweden.

So if you're a yank in Stockholm, or a Swede who did time in America, check out the new website, American Club of Sweden. At 200 Kronors per year to join, it's cheaper than beer and wings at most American restaurants here.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Stereo Total Concert - Supercool

Today I am just going to lie around the house all day. Yesterday was just too much for me.

I woke up at eight a.m. and did a little IT work for my only client. Then went to a job interview for an English teaching position, taught a lesson to my only remaining student, took the final test in my Introductory Swedish class, and then went out drinking for seven hours, including three or four hours at a Stereo Total concert.

The job interview didn't go so well. The American woman who interviewed me was a fairly attractive mid forties woman from Florida with borderline boofy hair. The school has branch offices all over Sweden and teaches mainly to professionals. I told her my background in EFL, business and IT, as well as mentioning my vision to create an EFL eLearning software package for the IT industry (http://www.english4it.com/). As I went on, she became concerned that I might be competition for the school itself and that I would steal their clients. That didn't make much sense to me. I am not 100% morally above doing such a bad thing... but that would mean showing an enterprising spirit, having good PM skills, a sense of dedication, and follow-through... which I certainly do not have outside the world of programming. The words she used were, "It's a competitive world out there..."

I didn't know how to react to that. Now if she had accused me of potentially not preparing lesson plans in time for a client because of playing Grand Theft Auto, drinking too much the night before, going temporarily insane, or something remotely believable, I might have conceded the point. But really: me stealing the clients and opening a competing business in Sweden about as likely as George Bush turning out to be a nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize.

After that fiasco, it was on to my English lesson, where my last remaining student, Pedro, told me he was going back to Spain for a few weeks and that when he came back to Sweden he was going to enrol in proper classes at the Folksuniversitet. Shit.

Then it was on to my Swedish test. I aced it, except for the past tense questions and the word endings. At some point in my career as a student of Swedish, I made an unconscious decision not to pay any attention to them. After all, tense is meant to show time, and time is just an illusion caused by the decay of matter. And as for word endings in Swedish, if you slur them enough they all sound the same anyway. However, it's not as easy to write them as ambiguously as it is to pronounce them. So I lost some points there.

After the test I skipped the remaining two hours of class and met Linda at a bar in Slussen for a couple pints before the Stereo Total concert at Mondo. They are a truly great pop punk band. I have a few of their albums but I haven't seen them live yet. They did not disappoint.

They played at Mondo, which is a pretty cool, small venue. Many Swedish buildings have a strange "high-school" institutional feel to them. At first you may think that's bad, but it really makes it even more fun, like getting drunk in high school in a bar designed by the crazy Art teacher.

Another interesting observation was the boy to girl ratio. Normally at shows in America, the UK, France, and other countries I've lived, the ratio is at least 60% guys. Here it was like 60% to 70% girls. Nothing wrong with being around a bunch of cool Swedish girls jumping up and down though.

We also met an American guy named Lewis from Texas, who is a chef working without papers in Stureplan. He is living with his artist girlfriend and trying to start a band. He definitely likes to drink so we hit it off well. Hopefully its a new drinking buddy before he gets kicked out by immigration.

After the concert, we hung out until 1 a.m. drinking and then went home and passed out drunk. Both of them had to work the next morning but I got to write this. I forgot to eat dinner again so I have a nasty hangover today even though I probably only had like 8 pints. But yet I wrote all of this down for some reason, probably because I love you. But now I need coffee... and I don't have the energy to edit this.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Back from the Dead

Telia has come through and got the DSL modem hooked up. I feel like I've been in the Twilight Zone for the past month without Internet access. So in celebration here is a nice picture of beer and cigarettes from a bar in Sigtuna, one of the oldest towns in Sweden.

The new pad in Midsommerkransem is really coming together. It's arguably one of the nicest places I've lived. It's not exactly in the center of Stockholm, but there are cafes and bars and bakeries, and corner shops in the area, which makes it a lot better than the old place.

Linda's sister is back from Greece and that means more and better parties. Her boyfriend Philippos is likely to move here in November... which gives me someone cool to hang with. He's not really a drinker, more of a pot smoker, like I used to be 10 years ago. He's excited about moving from the south of Europe to the North. I am forever indebted to him for showing us such a good time on Samos. Moving, moving, moving. You gotta keep on moving in life or your feet get stuck in the mud.

So much has happened since the last post its hard to recap. I took pills and went insane for a week, got some new English students, started working on my second novel again, started listening to and really understanding Babyshambles, learned to program in Java, got a job programming an eLearning application for a legal firm, turned 35, got a nice birtday check from mama and papa (THANKS I NEEDED IT!) and more. Oh yeah, and my poor grandmother died, so that means only left grandparent left. They are definitely an endangered species. I didn't fly home for the funeral. Sorry, Pop-pop and the rest of the family. Not good. Not good. I am ashamed.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Hang Loose, Moose

Sorry about the lack of posts... between being sick, working, class, moving across town and thus not having Internet access at home... it´s been a tough couple weeks.

In the meantime please enjoy this picture of a moose.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Svensk Kaffe (Swedish Coffee)

In this, our second Swedish culinary episode, we will discuss Swedish coffee.

Scandinavians drink more coffee per capita than anyone else in the world. In fact they ingest 12.5 kilos per year of raw beans per adult. By comparison in the USA we yanks only comsume 4.4 kilos per person per year. And in jolly olde England the teabaggers go through only 500 grams of coffee beans per person per year.

Typically, Swedes rather drink strong acidic drip coffee made from medium quality beans from South America, Colombia in particular.

A typical adult Swede will drink coffee two, three or even four times per day; in the morning with breakfast, an optional mid-morning coffee break, a uniquely Swedish mid-afternoon coffee break called "fika" (consisting of coffee and sweet pastry or cake), and optionally after a large or important dinner.

The best-selling brand is the cool-looking and sounding Löfbergs Lila, which comes in a 500mg purple bag and costs about SEK 20 (US $3.00).

Stockholm and in fact most parts of Sweden are full of "kaféer" or coffee houses where you can sit and relax for hours if you wish. Once you buy a cup of coffee it is a general rule that you can refill one time (called påtår) for free although in theory I guess you could do it more times if you really want to get wired.

Typically Swedes drink coffee with milk and optionally sugar, and for those who like cream (like me) kaffe grädde (coffee cream).

For those of you who like your beans decaf, rest assured that the Swedish will stare blankly at you. Most are unaware such a thing exists, and you will not find decaf amongst the relatively large selection of beans in the supermarkets. Tourist restaurants will of course accomodate you.

The most famous coffee house in Stockholm is perhaps Vetekatten, and surely a viable place to get a nice cup of joe. For the hipsters, more bohemian java joints are littered throughout the city.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Grecian Formula #1

Spent the last week or so in Greece. It was my first time there and the last country in Western Europe that I can cross off my list, Liechtenstein notwithstanding.

For those of you have never had the pleasure of seeing it for yourselves, Greece is a fantastic blend of ancient and modern, East and West. The people are fantastic and alive, if sometimes a little smelly and hairy. I definitely feel comfortable there. In fact I think if there were 9 million people just like me they would build a country pretty much like Greece.

There are some great things about Greece:

feta cheese, olives, sunshine, sandals, ouzo, islands, wines, calamari, tsatsiki, moussaka, 30 degrees Celsius by noon, mountains, boats, beaches, and crystal blue waters.

We spent two days in Athens drinking in the shadow of the Acropolis and the island of Salamina (unfortunately no salami there) and six days in Samos, which is a small island in the Aegean next to Turkey where my grandfather was born. Samos is the place to go if you want to relax and be surrounded by Mediterranean beauty. It makes me wonder what the fuck my ancestors were thinking when they moved from that paradise island to landlocked Pennsylvania.

On the island we visited the cave of Pythagoras, where he lived in the 6th Century BC and invented strange drinking cups and geometry.

We hung out with an old friend Triphonas from London and Linda'a ex-roomate Stephanos, and Linda's sister P. and her new Greek bf Philipos, who looks a lot like me only even more Greek and anti-Bush.

It was great being in a country where people don't speak English. At all. Greece is the worst in Europe BY FAR at it. We are almost talking Mexico bad at English... like don't even try it. So bad they make Italy look like freakin' English teachers. This makes getting around fairly difficult. Oh yeah, and the Greeks who do speak English give horrible directions.

Too bad I got sick or I would probably not have left. I don't know what happened but I definitely got something. See you again when I recover. Until then, YIASOU.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Summer's Almost Gone

A Swedish joke translated for you...

"Summer is the nicest day of the year."

Of course that's pathetic but on the 59th parallel unfortunately true. This Summer has reminded me a lot lately of Seattle in October.

But no need to worry as Linda and I are heading to Greece tomorrow, where it's going to be stinking hot for another two months at least. I might end up staying longer than the prescribed week.

Pass the Ouzo and the sunglasses, details to come.

Sunday, August 07, 2005



What is it?
It's what's for breakfast (and sometimes lunch) in Sweden. It's similar to runny yoghurt only it uses different bacteria cultures. It tastes slightly tarter and more healthy than yoghurt. You can buy it in the store or else make your own by pouring regular milk in a bowl of leftover filmjölk, covering it with a cloth, and letting it sit overnight.

What do I do with it?
You pour it in a ceral bowl and then put stuff in it like any combination of jams and cereals. I prefer muesli.

Why should I care?
It's addicting, plus it's good for the intestinal tract so it's a great way to start the day.

What else do I eat for breakfast in Sweden?
Depends where you are, but normally you eat any combination of buttered bread (crispy Wasa knäckebröd or soft brown bread), cheese, jam, cucumbers, liver paté, sliced meats, caviar, and hard boiled eggs.

Why are you writing about breakfast foods all of a sudden?
I am trying to make this site interesting to people to want to know more about Swedish life and ahem, culture.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Okay... nobody look suspicious!

This was emailed in in from Dafydd, who took me to the best hamburger restaurant in Hampstead and possibly the world.

Monday, July 25, 2005

London Not Terrorized

Well London is still here and looks more or less the same since my last visit two years ago. London is fucking massive. You forget that when you are away for a while. The the city seems to go on in all directions endlessly. Things do seem a little more tense, although people aren't running around paranoid and screaming as you might expect. The Underground is emptier than usual however, which is not too surprising.

The paler Londoners have taken to cycling. The less pale Londoners are starting to wonder who is to fear most, the terrorists or the government. The shooting of a Brazilian man, Jean Charles de Menezes, by plainclothes officers took everyone by surprise and remains a highly baffling incident. Unlike the USA where killings are hardly news anymore, in the UK it's a big thing and there have been mass apologies all around. When have the police in the USA apologized for anything? I don't think they even know how to do that.

Why did the poor guy run? Well maybe you would run too if you were in a foreign country under a terrorist alert and burly guys with shaved heads and vengeful bad cop karma were chasing you with guns, right? I mean the poor guy must have thought he was trapped in an episode of the Twilight Zone. True, his visa was expired expired but the choice between death and a free plane trip to Brazil seems an easy one. It will be interesting to see what happens.

Anyway, I am staying in Cadogan Square in Chelsea and spending my days walking around window shopping, revisiting my old haunts and hanging out with old friends. Unfortunately one of my oldest friends Svenja from Paris is not around. It would have bee great to see her :(

Lat night was drinks with my Welsh friend Dafydd who is a writer for the Music section of the London Times and has his own music blog which is quite good. Check it out.

The best part about being back in London is the pubs: excellent and cheap lagers and ales, comfy chairs, perfect decor, decent food, friendly people, and smoker-friendly. The pubs are what I miss most and are the most compelling reason to move back to London. Last night we went to three around Hampstead and none disappointed although I didn't remember too much about the last one.

Monday, July 18, 2005

LL Bean in Sweden -- Thanks Mom

My mother is obsessed for some reason with buying all my presents lately from L.L. Bean. I think everything I have gotten in the past 2 or 3 years has been from them.

I can't figure this out. Does she think LL Bean is a hip place to shop? Does she think I think LL Bean is a hip place to shop? I haven't worn flannel since 1993.

My birthday isn't even for two months and she has been nagging at me to pick something out of the LL Bean catalog for the past couple months already. She not too spontaneous. She is the kind of person who knows what she's doing a year from now. So she is getting rather panicky.

I looked in the LL Bean catalog and didn't see anything I wanted. Maybe some flannel underwear? Moccasins? Mom, if you're reading this I hate the Great Outdoors. I live in a city. Remember you even taught me the rule, "Don't wear brown in town." The one Dad always breaks. Now is not the time to forget that valuable lesson you taught me. I need money Mom. Please send me money for alcohol for my birthday. I promise I will buy you something from LL Bean for Christmas after I get a job.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Weekend in Malmö & Copenhagen

Carlsberg factory, yum!

Just spent a four day weekend in Malmö and Copenhagen. We took a six hour train ride from Stockholm to Malmö and commenced to spend the rest of the very hot day drinking Carlsberg in beer gardens.

We stayed with Peter and Marlen, our very appropriately for the occasion Danish/Swedish friends. Peter is pretty fun to hang out with. He is a thirty something former rock musician who now pops nicotine pills instead of chain smoking. Every time I see him he mysteriously claims that Danes, unlike Swedes, can drink responsibly, and then proceeds to lay out an assortment of drinks that scares even me. When we got home from the bar we went through a case of beer, three bottles of wine, and a bottle of scotch. I actually wanted to stop and get to bed but he was determined to get to the bottom of every topic on the planet and every bottle of alcohol in the apartment.

The next morning the girls left early to go to a horse show (thankfully we men were spared) and we got to sleep in late. Every half hour I heard wretching noise coming from the toilet and that was of course Peter the responsibly drinking Dane. At eleven o'clock I scraped myself off the floor and took a shower, cracked the last remaining beer and started watching the Tour de France.

Michael Rasmussen, a Dane, was in a solo breakaway. Suddenly Peter comes in moaning about a stomach virus but excited about Rasmussen. Stomach virus? Yeah I hear there is one going around, I say.

We watch the breakaway and Rasmussen gets a few more points in the King of the Mountain competition and then we head into Copenhagen. We take the new Oresend Bridge across the bay... the one that is 10 miles long and costs umpteen billion Kronors and is special because the Danes and Swedes couldn't agree whether to make it a tunnel or a bridge so they built a hybrid of both... the Swedish half is a bridge and the Danish half is a tunnel. Somehow it works and looks cool.

It was my first trip to Copenhagen and the city is very continental unlike Sweden. The streets are a sardine sea of tourists, freaks, drunks, shirtless partying youth. This seems a much easier place to have fun than Stockholm. We spent the rest of the time exploring Malmö and Copenhagen, going to the beach, drinking, eating out, and visiting long lost friends. Thanks for Peter, Marlen, and Ann-Marie for putting us up and for buying us so many rounds.

Note to To the Danes--> I am sorry your government had to waste 100 million Kronors providing security for Bush. However, I feel it's a small price to pay for the worldwide proliferation of terrorism ;)

Danes generally hate him

Monday, July 04, 2005

Coat Check Blues at Kvarnen in Sodermalm

Friday night we had some friends over for Mexican food. I made brie and apple quesadillas and some veggie fajitas because they are vegetarians. I used to be veggie for seven years but I gave it when I stopped taking so much ecstasy. I think the drug allows you to feel the pain of the barnyard and it was too much to take. But ecstasy fucks with your head after a while, so it was either my brain or my drugs and I chose the former.

Since then I have mostly switched to cigarrettes and alcohol as my weapons of choice and they sure don't make you feel empathy for shit so I am back on the burger bandwagon and happy about it. Animals would eat me if they had a chance, I reckon, so why not the other way around? Especially if the animals were drunk.

Well after a lovely dinner by the lake we decided to do a couple more tequila shots and go out. Johan and Anna (I can use their real names because there are probably a million couples in Stockholm named Johan and Anna) wanted to go to Kvarnum which is bar in Sodermalm, the bohemian, artsy part of Stockholm.

We got their and queued up for 20 minutes. Once inside it was like a Finnish sauna. People always complain about the lack of oxygen due to smoking in clubs but I swear with 500 drunk people crammed in a room and no walking space the air is just as bad smokeless as it would be if it were smoky.

Anyway, I walk in with Johan and Anna and Linda are nowhere to be seen. We get a beer and drink it and still they don't show up so Johan calls Anna and apparently the bouncers physically threw Linda out of the club for calling the coat check guy a cockhead in Swedish even though she didn't call him a cockhead and he obviously was one.

I was hesitant to approach him because by this time I had drunk about a half a bottle of tequila and a bottle of red wine, some shots of snaps surprisingly still leftover from Midsummer, and a couple beers. Plus I did not witness the event so Johan advised to leave it to the Police. I talked to the guy anyway and boy was he a cockhead. He must have a little internal voice that says "cockhead" to himself over and over again. On the outside the guy had a Tom Cruise cool, a guy who thought he could do anything to anybody.

Well the Police finally showed up a few hours later and interviewed the witnesses and the guy. Despite my advice, no one even got a case number or the guy's name at the bar.

The Police report is supposed to be mailed to us this week and so we'll see what happens. Thanks to the all the witnesses who stayed around until 3 in the morning to give testimony. People are sick of goons. Send them to Iraq, I say. Then we'll see how cool and tough they are when they get their heads chopped off.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Summer House

Sweden and the USA are more alike than different. Living here is in no way a cultural challenge like perhaps moving to China or Mexico. The natives really do try to be nice and they LOVE americans as much as they HATE American foreign policy.

But they do have their moments.

In America for a vacation we normally go somewhere hot and warm where we can be pampered a bit and drink fruity cocktails- Hawaii, Florida, California, Southern France, Italy, etc.

Not the Swedes. They all have summer homes in the middle of nowhere. They like to go there and pretend they are living in the 19th century Little House on the Praire style with no hot water, electricity, or anything like that.

That's what we did for Midsummer holiday. We went about 5 hours north of Stockholm on the outskirts of a town called Fränsta. It started out a little chilly and got gradually colder and wetter until we left. The last day it was 11 degrees Celsius on the 28th of June!

Swedish Satanic Midsummer Ritual

The Midnight Sun on Midsummer Eve

Swedes Really Like Summer Houses For Some Reason

Thursday, June 23, 2005

The Saga

I'm writing a diatribe against Bush's America... but it's not finsihed yet... and then I was listening to the new Libertines disc and Carl Barat just summed up my feelings so perfectly. Written for nme-posterchild-ex-bandmate-turned-junkie-crackhead Pete Doherty, it works equally well for Dubya. Enjoy...

The Saga MP3 (right-click and save to desktop)

A problem
Here comes a problem
You let down your friends
And you let down the people
And you let down yourself Oh oh oh oh
And only fools, vultures and undertakers
Will have any time for you

A Problem, here comes a problem
When you lie to your friends
And you lie to your people
And you lie to yourself
And the truth's too harsh to comprehend
You just pretend there isn't a problem

I am a pimp and they say
And in my bed you dig my bed
I dig my grave

The truth's too hard to comprehend
You just pretend there isn't a problem
No, no I ain't got a problem
It's you with the problem

Monday, June 20, 2005

Job Interviews

Well I had another job interview on Friday and I think I did well until the end when I started to lie and said that I wanted a family and kids. In American that's a good lie because it means stability and hard work. In Sweden its a bad lie because it means paid paternity leave is imminent. Shit. Then again, I don't think the Swedes care anyway.

Apparently the criteria for getting a job in Sweden are:

1. Having a Swedish sounding last name.
2. Looking like you fit in with the other people.
3. Having lots of interests outside work.

In Sweden once you get a job it's pretty much yours for life and it's near impossible to get fired without a bribe of a year or two salary. Most people don't work very hard, take their job seriously, and spend at least an hour per day planning their next vacation. You see, with 25 days or more plus 12 national holidays and weekends, that's a lot of planning.

That's not to say people don't work hard in Sweden, but slacking seems to be the general trend. Even as a slothy American I don't think I can take that. I am used to misery, long hours, and working weekends. I think I better start my own company.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

God Hates Sweden

Some things are too good to make up.

Apparently God hates Sweden because:

"Swedes are drippings from the Devil's own penis - a veritable sperm bank for Satan's queers."

"Swedish kids are taught it's OK to be gay and incestuous."

"The Swedish King looks like an anal-copulator, & his grinning kids look slutty & gay!"

Nice one. Made me laugh and almost forget my hangover for a few minutes.

This guy really puts the 'mental' in fundamentalist.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Student Exams

I had an interesting weekend in Stockholm. The inlaws were in town from Jönkoping as well as Linda's sister Pia who lives in London. Pia is Linda's older sister and we get along great.

Pia's old boyfriend called her "the cockney Swede" because she has a cockney British accent whereas Linda had a more classic British accent (I don't know what it's called but its annoying and sounds like one has never been soiled... they use the words 'proper' and 'right' alot).

Thankfully Linda moved to America for a few years and developed a more interesting and international melange of British, Swedish, and the awful nasal American twine that we have. Most Americans don't know this but they sound fucking terrible. No we don't have a cold pandemic we are Americans... and when we say words with R in them we sound slightly retarded. But in our defense at least we don't sound like extras in the cast of Mary Poppins.

Anyway... on Friday we went to Linda's cousin's Student Party. A Student Party is a typically Swedish high school graduation affair where the kids dress up as sailors and ride around the streets of Stockholm in the beds of large tucks blasting bad music (Survivor, Europe, awful hip-hop, bad house music, etc) and drinking beer and sparkling wine. They wave and shout at people and the trucks toot their horns and its all very strange.

The parents go bananas over the whole thing. This is a huge deal. Families gather at various points around the city and hold up large signs of the graduate as a young child or baby (usually doing something embarrassing) and yelling "Hurrah Hurrah Hurrah" and taking pictures.

After the trucks stop, everyone goes to the graduate's house and eats a smorgasbord and drinks alcohol until late in the night. Now the Swedish student is officially an adult and gets a free University education, travels for a year, or gets a cush job with tons of vacation and benefits.

It's nice to be Swedish, although it looks a bit silly sometimes.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Adult ADD

Linda had a long talk with me last night claiming that I have Attention Deficit Disorder but personally I think she's

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Popaganda Concert 2005

Saturday was Popaganda, a free summer concert in Stockholm. All the bands were Swedish and I hadn't heard of ANY of them. There are some good Swedish bands too like The Sounds, The Hives, Concrete, Cardigans, etc, but I guess they were all busy.

The guards wouldn't let us bring alcohol into the concert grounds. They sold little cans of beer inside for 30 Kronors which is kind of a lot so we had a picnic outside the gates where we could see the stage and Linda and Johan and Anna and Max and Osama (not bin Laden) and I drank 6 bottles of wine and feasted on bread and brie and pasta salad and stuff while we watched Ana Brun, a little Norwegian girl with a big voice.

As an American I thought it was funny that security guards were everywhere telling us where we could and could not sit to watch the concert from outside the gates. For instance we could not sit on a wall (which afforded the best view), and very strangely we could not sit on a bench... but sitting on the grass we perfectly acceptable. They didn't seem to care at all that we were using the University's grounds as an open bar. I must remind the European readers that in America its illegal to drink alcoholic beverages in public unless they are in paper bags(!) and even then its touch and go depending on what city you're in and what color your skin is and how many days you've gone without shaving and what mood the cop is in.

Ahem, so as soon as we finished the wine we went inside and the heavens opened up and it rained hard for the next four hours and the only thing I really got to see was a spoken word performance by an African Swede who looked and sounded very serious (if you feel bad for Africans in other non-African countries, imagine them in Sweden where some people have yet to see or talk to one on in real life). Still, overly serious people really annoy me and I cannot get too much out a spoken word performance in Swedish so I made frequent trips as usual to the beer tent even though the event was warm and dry under a tent.

Then it started raining even harder the temperature dropped 20 degrees and everyone went crazy running home and I lost Linda in the shuffle. I couldn't call her because my cell phone got waterlogged... so I went to Gamlastan to a pub I know with 50 Kronor pints of Guinness. USA versus England was on. I normally don't watch football unless the USA is playing because there is something perverse about watching the USA do something they are even worse at than foreign policy.

USA lost 2-1 but the fish and chips and Guinness were excellent.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Swedish Lessons

I started taking Swedish lessons on Tuesday at the Folksuniversitet in downtown Stockholm. The course costs money but is attended by professionals instead of migrants like the SFI courses (which I can't get into until late August because everyone takes the summer off in Sweden). So far the course I am taking is good. The SFI course is funded by the government but is supposed to be appalling and the school is located out in Hagalund, which is Swedish for bumfuck nowhere.

I decided to take the course because I have been meeting a lot of Americans that have lived here for many years and still don't know basic Swedish. I know that sounds unreasonable but it really isn't.

The thing that bothers me is that they are so damn defensive about it.

"There is no need for me to speak Swedish. Everyone speaks English here."

"I speak English in the workplace and my wife is from the States. So speaking Swedish is out of the question."

"English is the international language. Just count yourself lucky you don't have to speak Swedish."

"My girlfriend and I spoke English for three years in America before we moved here. So why change now?"

I feel the truth is more like this:

"I tried speaking Swedish once but I couldn't. I sounded like an bumbling immigrant."

I admit its nice to be amongst Europeans versus Americans at the Folksuniversitet. Some of the students only plan on being in Sweden for a few months in total... and they are still taking classes. All of them speak their own language (duh) , English and at least another one like French or German. So that renders the Americans excuses null and void.

Why won't Americans learn languages? What the hell is wrong with us? Are we a bunch of xenophobes? I guess that answer to that is obvious.

Friday, May 13, 2005

10 Things I Don't Understand About Americans

1. Lying

Lying is weird in America. It used to be a HUGE problem for you until Richard Nixon came into office. Perversely, now its okay to lie given the following 2 circumstances:

A. You never admit you were wrong in the first place.
B. You are rich and/or powerful.

2. War

War is weird also in America. They teach you war is a last option and that war is fundamentally wrong. But then they do it all the time. And there doesn't really have to be a reason. If a butterfly sneezes in China, we can invade Mexico. Get it? Neither did Central America, Yugoslavia, or Iraq. Hopefully North Korea and the rest of the Middle East will get it soon. Not to mention Mexico.

3. Food

Smorgasbord may be a Swedish word, and buffet may be a (gasp) French word but America has put its own spin on the "all-you-can-eat" special. You see them everywhere. Let me put it this way... people should not eat "all-they-can-eat" for many reasons. And especially not more than once a week. Why not? Let me count the reasons: constipation, smelly farts, becoming fat, need I go on? Eating, while very entertaining, should not be a sense of comfort. Get some Valium or some wine for chrissakes.

4. Gay Bashing

A hole is a hole. An orgasm is an orgasm. Gay people are gay from birth (or else they are fat, bald, ugly men who can't find a woman). In either case they are just like straight people and deserve all the same rights. Think gay people never died in a war (a real war) to protect your rights? Think again. George Washington actually crossed the Delaware to get with his blond haired page. And then he forgot to tip him so he threw a quarter across it. And even when Georgie was a boy he chopped down the cherry tree to fight his castration anxiety from an abusive father. And he made dressing in a wig and velvet suits fashionable again... oh hell.

5. Superiority Complex

One of my favorite lines from any movie is Chris Rocks's Head of State when the president says "God Bless America and no place else." This is a dig at Bush and the neocons. America is up its own ass. It has never been anything more than a bunch of hicks dragging themselves along by clutching at the heels of the entrepreneurial and intellectual minority. If that makes me sound like a twat then I apologize butt I feel its true. Otherwise all America would be like Arkansas.

6. Pop Culture

Popular culture in America seems an wholehearted attempt to be as vapid and superficial as possible. Any redeeming or human qualities are instantly noxious to the formula. Brittany Spears, Puff Daddy, Christina, and all the others you are no better than mental prostitutes walking the streets looking to spread VD to our children.

7. Hicks

These people live in the woods, fuck their sisters, love Jesus, drink Busch, vote Bush, and watch NASCAR. Who needs 'em? We should have let them secede from the union back in the 1800's. The Kerry would be President and they would be fighting Iraq with tractors and pitch forks.

8. Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms

Okay in America there is an agency called the ATF and god knows what they actually do besides shoot people in the ass while they drink Budweiser and smoke cigars. In America you have to be 21 to drink. Why? It's the only country in the world that does this. Cigarettes can kill you but you should be all you can be and join the Army. Go figure. I'll stick to cigarettes and alcohol, thank you. You can keep the firearms.

9. 2.1 Million in Jail

America has the highest incarceration rate in the world. Higher than China. Higher than Russia. Higher than anywhere. There are 35,000 murders a year. There are more black males in prison than in college. And it's not getting better. It's getting worse.

10. Intellectual is a Bad Word

Presidents and other politicians lose races not because they are less intelligent but because they are more intelligent. We learn in Philosophy that knowledge can stop the decision process, but when lives are on the line, maybe its okay to stop and think a little bit. What's lost on the current administration is that just because one CAN do something doesn't necessarily mean on SHOULD do it. Clinton had to pretend to be a bubba to become President. Then it turned out he was a black man. This is the equivalent of Einstein pretending to have Down Syndrome to get into Junior College.


11. Religion

The Bible is a stupid, evil, book full of bad stories. For a country that prides itself on the separation of Church and State, why do politicians have to mention God in every speech? Because the masses will vote for the religious man over the atheist every time. There is some popular myth that the atheist cannot make moral decisions. Why then does the opposite almost always happen?

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

10 Things I Don't Understand About Swedes

1. Salty Licorice (holy ammonia chloride, Batman)

Salty Licorice is strong black licorice laced with ammonia chloride, the stuff you use to clean your bathroom. I'm not fucking kidding its hideous. But in my mind I can't stop eating it because my find is not prepared to deal with its reality. Eventually I'll probably get to like it. It costs about $.10 a kilo and Swedes will eat anything that's cheap.

2. Strange Fellowship with Berries

Swedes spend entire days picking them by the bucket. This obviously goes back to the day when Swedes were poor and didn't have supermarkets. I don't know why they still do it... but it must really annoy the birds and squirrels.

3. System Bolaget

All liquor stores here are owned by Mother Sweden. They are open from 9 to 5 and if you want spirits, wine, or beer over 3.5 percent alcohol you must go there. They are never open when you need them, and they are very sparsely located. The prices are designed to scare you sober. The cheapest bottle of vodka costs $30 and there are no six-packs. You have to pay full price for six separate beers. Being the lazy bastard I am, I buy the 3.5 beer from the supermarket. It's relatively cheap and 6 of them will give you a buzz.

4. Pancakes, bacon, and fried eggs are not breakfast foods.

A Swedish friend named Johan (what else) told me that English people are so ugly by the time they turn 40 because they eat sausages and grease for breakfast. Maybe he's right but at least they get sausages for breakfast.

5. Smoking is gross but snuff is de rigeur...

Smoking will be banned indoors from Sweden starting June 1st, 2005. Which is okay because no one smokes here... they all use snuff. Which my mom used to find in my pants pocket as a kid and I eventually stopped using in favor of smoking because girls thought it was gross. No one thinks it's gross here and everyone claims it's safer than smoking... and it gives you a buzz close to shooting a speedball. So I guess I'll get used to it.

6. No Fat Bastards

You can't buy pants larger than 34 inches in most stores. Even fat Swedes have little waists ans huge bellies. Thankfully I am losing weight due to the System Bolaget and constantly eating muesli instead of sausage for breakfast.

7. Mexican Food Sucks Here

Nachos here means ten corn chips with tomato sauce and creme fraiche poured on top. Expect to pay 70 kronors ($10) for this. If you complain they will think you are insane. Fajitas cost $30 and are not even half the normal American portion. So now I make Mexican at home. Negro Modelo is not to be found even in my closest System Bolaget.

8. Learning Swedish is Difficult

Nobody (except my sweetie Linda of course) will speak to me in Swedish once they find out I am American and hear my awful Swedish. How am I supposed to learn?

9. Free Language Lessons?

In Sweden its the right of all immigrants to get free language lessons. Most are in the daytime, although they don't pay you to take them so supposedly you're supposed to starve to death and live outside. Also, it's acceptable to start SFI classes six months after you get here. I'll know freakin Swedish by then.

10. Why am I living in Huvudsta?

Apartment rent prices in Stockholm are easily affordable... but there are exactly 0 apartments avaialble to rent in Stockholm. So if you want an apartment you have to live in another town, buy a place, or get a second-hand contract which you cost you twice as much as the apartment is supposed to cost.

Okay that was unfair and possibly unfunny. But next time I'm gonna do 10 Things I Don't Understand About Americans. That will be even more unfair and more unfunny.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Job Interview for Sloth

It's been a month and I now have a legitimate job interview coming up. I must say I am excited.

The job is for a Webmaster position with some Swedish dot com which I will not mention at least until I get the job maybe.

I want to get a job because honestly its little boring sitting around all day with no money to spend on Playstation or a new Gaming PC.

It would be different if I were writing like made finishing TLDDGH (my new novel) or working on my third novel (Stabbing at the Heart of Paris) or even my short story, oddly enough called Floccinaucinihilipilification, but I'm not.

I spent Sunday hungover and Ingrid took a picture of me passed out on the Tunnelbahna. In my defense it was 3:00 a.m. and the fucking trains only run once per hour.... so what was I supposed to do? I hate always being the drunkest one at a party but I am pretty much socially a wallflower without the booze so I end up being the entertainment. And everyone knows being entertaining is tiring. If you look closely at the picture you can see the wine stain on my pants. I must have spilled my last glass.

The last two days I was on a mission to walk from Downtown to my apartment in Huvudsta. Its far by most people's standards but I managed to do it today. Yesterday (and all the other days) I kept getting lost and ending up on the opposite side of the city. As the Swedish say when they are happy... hurrah hurrah.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Bestiality on the Rise

According to The Local, an English newspaper printed in Stockholm, bestitality is on the rise in Sweden. I find this to be a bit odd. I mean, with all the hot women here it seems bizarre. I would understand in other places, like Arabia, Wales (with all those sexy sheep), or New Jersey... but Sweden, come on now.

Apparently the ban on bestiality was lifted in 1944 along with the ban on homosexuality. And since then things have been taking off gangbusters. Same sex marriages are legal here now, however this doesn't extend to trans-species unions.

Curiously enough, the main concern in the article is that people are hurting the animals. At first I thought... no way is a normal man going to hurt a horse, but then Ingrid told me they often use a knife to cut the animals first (I can't imagine what for but she assures me it's common).

Until next time... remember if you are going to have sex with an animal, do it in Sweden where its legal. But don't do it in front of me. Because I will call the police on you anway.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Time to Get Serious(er)

Well I am over my jetlag and over my sickness and Monte is gone although the hangover still lingers. Now it's back to finding a job and learning more Swedish.

Thursday was drunken and Friday was insanely drunken. I can't remember what we did Thursday but Friday Linda Monte and I went to a museum, The National Museum, which is more or less free and features some great design from the past 100 years plus paintings from Northern Europe over the past 500 years.

Monte and myself really seemed to like the Bacchus & Ariadne paintings the best because they all show people drinking and fucking. Linda seemed to like the ones with horses but that's no surprise (not because she likes to fuck horses although she did marry me, ha ha).

That night we went on a "cheap beer crawl" which went from 4:00 p.m to 4:00 a.m. and ended up not being cheap but very fun and scary so who cares. I am still shuddering over some of the things that transpired.

Saturday night I was hungover as a mother and Linda and I went out to Drottningholm to have dinner with the King's neighbor. If you recall its where we stayed earlier... almost four weeks ago. It's the large white house that has been to two World's Fairs... Paris in 1886 and the one in Rio (I don't know when that was and am too lazy at the moment to Google it).

Before when we stayed on these same grounds, we stayed in the guest house so we never got inside the main house. Well its like a museum. There are ivory sculptures, Chinese cabinets, and other worldly artifacts, fanciful woodwork, a wine cellar stocked with up to 300 year old wine, and my favorite thing of all, a wireless internet connection.

The man, whose name I will not mention by name for fear of embarrassing him, was absolutely funny and cool for such a successful international businessman. He made jokes and told anecdotes that were actually funny, invited his own friends and neighbors to meet us, as if we special people, and tried to plan out the rest of our lives in Sweden by making suggesting where to buy property and how to avoid paying more than one's fair share of taxes.

For dinner we had champagne and beer and for the main course a Mongolian Beef Stew which is served in a large charcoal-fueled copper pot which is filled with water. When fuel is added at the bottom a jet of fire five feet high comes out the top and scares everyone at the table (everyone was a bit taken aback by the host's enthusiasm for this unique feature of the pot). Inside the pot everyone puts meat and veggies and kind of eats them after they are cooked like a fondue... and at the end you eat the soup that the pot makes. Yum.

After dinner we had coffee and ice cream and cookies and brandy and whiskey and talked until 1:00 a.m. Nobody could believe how late it was and he drove us home because the buses were closed and it was not too far. He is going to meet up with my dad in Washington next week and apparently they are good friends so I will probably see him again. My dad just got a new job as a board member of an international sugar corporation in London (he has been retired for 7 years and now he has like 5 jobs, mostly honorary positions, at 63 and I can't even find one job and I am 34) so he will be visiting us in Sweden a lot which means more visits to the King's Neighbor. In truth we were already invited back so I must have done something right.

But I am torn between living a slacker life and getting serious and getting another 9 to 5 and try to make some money. I have completed a novel which I think is publishable but nothing is happening, not that I am trying very hard for it to happen. I am about to finish another novel which I feel is better. And there is the book of short stories. I need to get an agent and then get published... so I can travel and drink and do readings and then I wouldn't need to hang out with my Dad's friends who have somehow mistaken me for a serious person. Although that would still be great. Ah, but I am rambling now... so until next time.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Hungover in Huvudsta: Part Två

Monte came back from Prague and we stayed in. I don't think he slept much in Prague. He said it was dirty and made him glad to come back to Sweden where everything is clean and people don't look at you like they want to rob you. The next morning we started drinking at 9 a.m. and then headed out to El Giganten electronics store to buy a certain DVD player which came with a free mountain bike which I being the cheap bastard that I am was going to give to Linda for her birthday present. Well she wants a bike, I reasoned, and and I want a DVD player so it all works out.

But like everything there is a catch. I used to be a bicycle affecianado and I can't buy her just any bike, it has to at least be something decent. The ad is short on the details of the bike so I haven't bought one yet because the store doesn't have them in yet. Monte noted that the salespeople looked in dread of the whole bike giveaway deal. That last thing they want, he noted, was to deal with 10,000 bicycles being shipped to the store on top of the usual retail hassles.

When I checked the store with Monte, the bicycles weren't in yet so its a bit of a stalemate. I was feeling paranoid in the place and I was afraid of having a panic attack and freaking out. Luckily I didn't. I had a whole host of irrational fears running through my head that I cannot explain. Monte and me pointed ourselves to the closest drinking establishment, a nice outdoor cafe in Medborgarplatsen and stayed there until 5:00 when the indoor pubs openened.

We hung out in the area because its where all the cheap drinks are. Cheap means between 5 and 7 bucks a beer mind you but at least there is none of "that tipping bollocks" (as an old Welsh mate called it) like in the USA. I justify it to myself to that every time you pay $7 for a beer you are putting kids through university and putting food on the table of old folks and subsidizing the Swedish welfare state. I am all for that, as I will soon be benefitting from it, especially if I keep up my drinking.

Monte and I hit some pubs in the Slussen area, inlcuding a disappointing O'Leary's Boston Pub that I was hoping would be showing some American sports but only had lame Champions League football like the British and Irish pubs. The guy that started the pub wasn't even American, he was a Swede who married a yank back in the 80's and decided to capitalize on it. The place was filled with Boston sports memorabilia (8 million kronors worth apparently) but the beers (Sam Adams in bottles for 36 kronors) were cheap although the atmosphere was a bit corporate and we are not that corporate (especially when we've been drinking all day)so we went to Kellys for shots, beers, and dinner and then to Stringfellows in Saint Eriksplan for a final beer before washing down with a Lapin Kulta at 7-11 before coming home and passing out.

Today I went shopping at H&M since it was there Spring sale and some cool Winter stuff was now on sale (its still freezing here if you ask me... spring or no). Then I went to sign up for Swedish Immigration classes. I love the idea of being an immigrant. How cool. I hope when I have kids and they find out they are children of an immigrant they don't get alientated and turn out to be crack dealing vandals that tag the Tunnelbahn with indeciperable scribblings.

More drinking to come...

Monday, April 18, 2005

It's 10:34 am and I am listening to 2-Pac. I don't know why. I am not really a hip hop fan but I admit I like to listen to it sometimes. It seems weird to sit with my morning coffee in Stockholm listening to songs about drive-bys and brothers converting to Islam and skeezers and bopping to all those slow bumpy bass lines. I have about 2,000 albums in my mp3 collection and I like all of them, even 2-Pac.

The past week I have been hanging out with Monte in Stockholm. Last Friday he went off to Prague for the weekend and I went South for the weekend (Southern Sweden that is) to Jonkopping to visit the in-laws.

Monte and I had a great time taking the Tunnelban (Stockholm subway), walking around the city, sailing around the city (the subway passes work on the boats), and of course drinking on the docked boats and all the cheap bars we managed to find.

The cheapest bar was one called Kellys in Sodermalm, which is the south island of Stockholm (Stockholm is kind of like an archipelago). In Sweden people don't use apostrophes so if you want to say "Kelly's Bar" you would just say "Kellys Bar". This doesn't confuse them because you don't add an "s" to make things plural like in English.

Kelly's has 19 kronor ($2.80) bottles of Tuborg beer which is the cheapest in Stocholm. Salty licorice shots are also available for 19 kronors ($2.80). There is also a mandatory 15 kronor ($2.00) coat check so if you are on a extra small budget don't bring coat. There is a mini casino in the pub like in most Swedish bars. I am against gambling on principal, although I admit its probably a good way to make money to have gambling in a pub.

The theme of the bar is American, vaguely stereotypical, with steer heads hanging from the wall and old wagons and that sort of ghost town cowboy motif. The music in Kellys is Heavy Metal in nature and they play Guns in Roses, Metallica, and all the other hard rock hits of 15 years ago. I was never what you would call a heavy metal or hard rock fan, but I actually like the Guns and Roses a little... I can admit it now... they were like a bad auto accident you just had to look sometimes.

So I admit I am not building up Kellys very much. Did I mention the beer was the cheapest in Stockholm? When the dollar gets stronger or when I get a job I will probably find a new hangout but until then its a great place to enjoy drinking without worrying about the bank account. The fact that its the cheapest bar in Stockholm makes all the crazies come out and its easy to hook up there (Monte managed to find a very Swedish cutie there in less than 2 hours and went home with her).

I remember a comment he made to me while he was snuggling with Angelica at the table. Earlier in the day while we were walking around Stockholm I made a comment that I had a weird dream in which I called Tiger Woods on the phone to congratulate him on his winning his 6th Masters and ask him if he wants to go camping. This is weird because I am not a golfer, and I hate camping. The subconscious is a fucking mystery to me.

So Monte related to me when THIS HOT 20 YEAR OLD SWEDISH GIRL JUST SITS DOWN AT YOUR TABLE NEXT TO YOU AT A PUB AND ASKS IF YOU WANT TO COME HOME TO SLEEP WITH HER that is just as weird as dreaming of chatting up Tiger Woods about going camping. Of course it was me with the weird dream and Monte sleeping with the Swedish girl so some weirds are better than others. But I guess I have a Swedish girl of my own so fuck it. And come to think of it... so does Tiger Woods. So maybe the six of us should go camping after all. I hate sleeping outside but I bet Tiger Woods could buy us a nice RV, a couple eightballs, some Tuborg, and we could have a nice party.

Monte comes back from Prague today. I bet we'll end up back at Kellys tonight.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Hungover in Huvudsta

Linda and I are settling into the pad in Huvudsta, a little residential neighborhood in Northwestern Stockhol. I don't think its hit me yet that I've moved over here for anything more than a vacation. Perhaps it will sink in soon. I've been sick so I've just been hanging around the pad reading Brothers Karamazov, taking long baths, and thanking God I am not at work back in Seattle. I was working long hours for mediocre pay and always arguing with my business partner over stupid shit that one of us did wrong. I am not cut out for the 9-5 grind I tell you and definitely not the 8 to 6 grind which is more typical nowadays on Bush's side of the Atlantic.

Which reminds me... Bush is not my President. I don't even know who my President is. In fact I don't think I have one any more. Wait, duh, I have a Prime Minister. Linda says his name is Göran Persson. No relation to Nina Persson of the Cardigans apparently.

Last night we went to a party hosted by Johan and Anna, two of my new friends. Johan is a tall thin phD student who looks like Bjorn Borg. Anna is of Bengali descent and I don't know what she does but she has been a friend of Linda's for some time.

Anyway, Johan informed me the other night that the Swedes are weekend warriors and normally stay sober in the weekdays and get really drunk on the weekends. I am going to try to do that too. I will stick to the beer on the weekdays anyway. I don't believe in weekend warrioring. It's against my religion (I'm an orthodox dipsomaniac).

I miss McCutcheon. Maybe I said this last time, but it bears repeating and I love to talk to him drunk and I hope he and Danielle stay together and have beautiful children and raise them in Austria so I am not the only cunt who lives in a cold European country. Then Lind and I can visit and we can all go skiing at Zell Am Zee and eat fondue and drink lager.

I miss my bro Lee too, and his 3 beautiful daughters who are my nieces. I hope to visit them often, because they live in Florida. I think the high here today was 45 degrees and everyone is talking about how warm it is. I didn't go outside at all. Linda went out for pizzas and sodas and we watched our Alan Partridge DVD which is one of the funniest things I haves seen. It stats Steve Coogan who played Tony Fucking Wilson in 24 Hour Party People (I think).

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Stockholm Pad in Huvudsta

A lot has happened since the last post. We moved into our new studio apartment yesterday in Huvudsta, which is in the Northwest of Stockholm in an area called Solna. Our apartment is a little musty smelling because its in the basement but other than that its pretty sweet. The rent is about 4,000 Kronors per month which translates into about $570 per month. That's cheap even with the shitty exchange rate. Before Bush's idiotic Gulf War II, 4,000 Kronos was about $400.

We went shopping yesterday at (surprise surprise) IKEA and bought a bunch of new stuff for the apartment. I have a little cold and the new apartment isn’t helping while the dust settles. Since I can’t post these messages in real time (I don’t have access to an Internet connection except downtown at the café) so I must write them all down at home which is admittedly a little lame. It has been a month and one week since I had good reliable Internet access. I made Linda promise to call the broadband people today. Things should get back to normal soon. Thank God Linda is Swedish and not a Zulu princess or something. Living in Swaziland I bet they consider dial-up a luxury.

Also, I got a call from Monty from LA. He is coming to stay with us in Sweden to record some music. He has a website but I can't find the link at the moment. It will be fun to have someone to party with. I should be settled in by then.

I really liked the pad out in Drottningholm with all the castles and rich people, but its just not my scene. It's so nice to have our own place!

Sunday, April 03, 2005

On the Third Day God Created Jetlag...

It’s now the beginning of my third day in Sweden. I still have not found reliable Internet access so all my Swedish Sloth posts are going to run together. That’s okay however. I really miss the Internet. Norman Cook (Fat Boy Slim) once said that he never partied, drank, or did drugs on a vacation because that’s what he did everyday in his normal life. Makes sense. So on my vacation in Hawaii I too tried to drink less and use the Internet less.

It didn’t work too well. I drank as much as I normally do and sat in front of my computer for hours scanning the airwaves for a potential wireless network I could tap into. Fruitlessly, I tried to use my Dad’s dial-up account, but after 10 years of using broadband (yes I have had broadband for most of 10 years now) using dial-up seems like something out of the 70’s along with Jiffy-Pop popcorn and TV dinners. Call me impatient, but when it takes 20 seconds for a page to load and the damn connection hangs or freezes every 5 minutes that’s not the Internet, that’s the Internot.

Today is a party in Linda and my honor. The family is up from the South and we will celebrate in the Swedish tradition by drinking and eating too much. Fine by me. I wish I wasn't so goddammed jetlag so I could enjoy it.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Stockholm! Wow.

Vi ar in Stockholm nu! (We are in Stockholm now)

Actually we are staying in Dronningham with a friend of the family. They live in a large white wooden house just a few hundred meters from the King’s castle. The house has been to two world’s fairs. I know that sounds weird. Not many houses are world travelers. This one went to the Paris World’s Fair is 1962 and the 1966 World’s Fair in Rio. It was the exhibit for the Swedish wood industry.

We are not staying in the traveling home however, we are staying in a one year old guest house on the edge of the property. There is no Playstation but an X-Box(!), a nice kitchen and a plenty of storage room. It is typically Swedish. Everything looks like it came from IKEA. I better get used to that.

We traveled to the city today to have lunch with Linda’s mother and grandmother. Linda’s grandmother is 85 and she is one of the reasons Linda was so motivated to move back to Sweden. The Swedes are very family oriented people. Linda loves her grandmother and talks on the phone with her for hours every month. I don’t think I’ve ever talked to my grandmother on the phone for more than 15 seconds. What would I say? Linda wants to be around for her. I think she looks healthy. She could easily last another ten years. It makes me wonder what I will look like at 85. Holy shit. That makes me want to save for retirement. A bottle of booze will cost $300 by then.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Valkommen Til Sverige

I am writing now from Sweden which is the way it should be. So enough talk about Hawaii. It’s time to start the real blog. I am now on a three year journey to become a Swedish Sloth. It’s nice to have a mission. I will need to learn the language, the customs, and the culture. And then learn to sleep through them.

The flights over here, all three of them, were pretty bearable. It was a six hour flight to Seattle followed the next day by a 9 hour flight to Copenhaagen and then a 1 hour flight to Stockholm.

In Seattle we rented a car for $26.00 and stayed at a hotel for $37.50. You gotta love America for cheap stuff. The woman at the rental place was a stout lesbian with carefully trimmed facial hair. She gave me the heebie-jeebies but she gave us a free car upgrade and told us that the hotel we had chosen was not safe because there was a cop shooting there recently. The conventional wisdom is that if cops are getting smoked they will be less likely to rush over there if a problem. Linda said not to worry because she found the place on hotels.com. The hotel was fine, an oasis of calm in the skankster’s paradise that is Sea-Tac. Thanks for freaking me out for nothing, Advantage Rent-a-Car attendant.

The next we collected our bags from storage and stopped at the Broadway Grill for a nice breakfast before stopping to pick up our mail at the Post Office, and heading to the airport. It suddenly occurred to me that everything I owned was in my two suitcases and my carry on bag. My most prized possession was my Dell laptop, which I am tapping away on now at the breakfast table. I LOVE IT! It shocks me that for $850 you can get such a great machine like this…. 14” screen, CD burner, DVD player, and wireless internet. Awesome little writing machine.

When we arrived at the airport we were afraid we would be overweight and have to pay a lot of charges. Our bags were like Double Stuffed Oreos. Why? Every couple has strange habits. One of Linda and my strange habits is that we have a family of stuffed animals which we play with. Our family has 10 members now, but I won’t go into that now. I’ll save that for a slow day. But all those animals take up a lot of space in our bags. We had to throw away perfectly good clothes to make room for our “kids,” who have names like Fishy, Ootay, and Pengo.

At the airport Linda announced that we had enough time to get drunk before the plane left. We drank for 3 hours and managed to spend $80. I just got a new credit card so I decided to break it in. A month previous, I laughingly applied for a new credit card right before we left for a Platinum credit card with an American Flag design on it. By the time I got back to Seattle it was in the mail. I got approved for a $4,000 limit. My credit must be getting better. I have been paying my bills and stuff. Awesome. Now I can get drunk another 39 times with the card. More if I make some payments.

On the flight to Stockholm, we lost 12 hours of lives, which means Stockholm is currently 12 hours ahead of Hawaii. You would think that would make for some wicked jetlag, but so far it has been very very mild. I may have a slight cold but that’s really the only physical discomfort I have been suffering.

My mental suffering has been a little more profound. I took to drinking from nervousness about the move for pretty much the last week of Honolulu. I have moved to Europe to go to school many times before so actually being in Europe is nothing new to me. What bothers me is of course is emigrating from America back to Europe. Still, I am sure I will get over it. In a month’s time it will be no big dealio.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Last Day In Hawaii

The last week in Hawaii has been rather drunken, even for me. So much so in fact that my writing dropped to almost zero. I was too drunk or hungover or else out at the beach trying to recover. My supply of codeines is rapidly dwindling and the weather has turned a bit cooler and windy, but it was still nice enough at the beach for me to continue to read Dostoyevsky’s Bothers Karamazov without the book blowing away and sand swirling in my face. After all, bad weather in Hawaii means 79 degrees and partly cloudy with frequent gusts of wind and an occasional afternoon shower. To my horror I note in Stockholm its 35 degrees as a high.

The only bad or particularly interesting point of the week (for after three weeks in Hawaii all the days become very similar) was the night of the luau fiasco. A luau is, of course, a pig roast and a hula dance show. Booking the tickets for a luau on Linda’s 30th Birthday, I had visions of a very Brady scene with grass skirts and cheesy music and whatnot. Three alcoholic drinks were included in the price, so I started drinking at noon that day to make up for their shortsidedness.

By the time the bus came to pick us up I was tanked. I think I went through about six draft beers and half a bottle of rum. I made the bus pull over so I could go pee while 100 touristy passengers watched. Things got worse from there. We are talking crazy asshole drunk blackout. When I woke up the next day I was glad I was not in jail. Let’s put it that way. Linda was pretty embarrassed and wouldn’t talk to me for a few hours. The next day I had to clean and pack with a terrible hangover.

Besides the lame ass luau, I recommend a trip to Hawaii to anyone. Especially if you are headed somewhere cold like I am. A month on Oahu is just fantastic. I can’t wait to come back and explore the rest of the islands. Its hard to believe but tomorrow we head back to Seattle and then the next day at 5 p.m. it’s off to Stockholm for a few years. I don’t even know where we are staying. My dad, bless his heart, has hooked us up with one of his rich buddies who has a spare house out in the suburbs of Stockholm. It's good to have a dad with rich buddies. I hope they have a Playstation.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Don Ho is Still Alive

Last Night Linda and I went to see the Legendary Don Ho perform at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. There was a mediocre dinner and then the show. The room held about 300 people and was about 80% full. I wasn’t expecting much, perhaps a few famous songs from his past and a few corny jokes.

He was fucking hilarious. First of all, he was drunk and kept drinking throughout the entire show. He sat at some sort of “piano/desk” which had the strange appearance of being an altar. He worse sunglasseses although the room was very dark and had white hair. A woman sitting next to me at out table said he was now 75 years old.

Almost every song he sang he made the audience sing along, starting with "Tiny Bubbles". It was of course, completely awful. Audiences come to these things to be entertained by a legend so they can go home and tell people they saw Don Ho, not so they can sing ackwardky mouth along the words of Tiny Bubbles.

After the song Don admitted that he “Totally hated that song”. The humor and jokes were either self-debasing, marijuana-based, or else completely off the wall. It was fucking surreal. Does anyone really want/expect Don Ho to tell 15 marijuana jokes in a row? Not me. He kept referring to it in the Hawaian word, which is pakalolo or something similar. Then he would tell stories about how much his good friend Willy Nelson smokes pakalolo from dawn til dusk and how he is completely normal.

Now I have thought a lot of things about Willy Nelson, none of them are that he is completely normal. I mean he’s a 70 year old hippie who plays country music. What is so normal about that? Most 70 year olds I have met do not travel the country in greasy long hair, evading their taxes, smoking grass, and singing songs about ugly women they fucked because they were too high and/or stoned to tell so at the time.

Before the end of the show, Don Ho played Tiny Bubbles again and had many musical guests, some of which were originals from the Don Ho show back in the 70’s which I watched a little kid. At the end he reminded everyone to “Tell everyone you know I’m still alive.”

Don Ho is still alive. If anything, its the rest of us who are probably dead.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

More Sun to Come

18 days in Waikiki so far. What's the best part? Total relaxation.

I have been working on my second novel, The Living Dead Don't Get a Holiday, lately and surpassed 60,000 words. I don't think I'm going to finish it on this vacation like I thought I might.

I have just finished a short story as well. It's not fantastic but I am trying to write one every quarter. It's something non-pornographic, non-druggy, and short. I think that might help me get published.

I am remaining upbeat on my chances of selling my first book, The Ultimate Space Hit in England where the language and ideas might be embraced more than in America. I have been getting some good feedback on that one. Of course I get some emails like this too...

Username: Donovan
UserEmail: helmdon@hotmail.com

Oh well you can't please everyone. And you shouldn't try to either. Sometimes I do feel like a stupid, ugly fag, but thankfully not very often. I guess some people don't get it. I hate it when people write like that and I can't tell which article or story I wrote that made them feel bad enough to write an email like to me. So I could write more like that. Eliciting an emotional response is one of the greatest compliments to a writer.

I have been reading some great books on this trip, some of which are: Kerouac's Dharma Bums, Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five, Paul Auster's City of Glass, some short works of Mark Twain including The Mysterious Stranger which is currently my favorite short story of all time, and an amazing book on the history of coffee called The Devil's Cup by Stewart Lee Allen. Pick up any of them if you need a read recommendation.

So what's ahead for the final 10 days in Oahu? More sun, more mai tais, more boat rides, a dinner show with Don Ho, a luau with a roasted pig, more moped rides around the islands, more hikes, and that's about it.

I have also figured out what the Japanese hipsters do. It was just as I thought. They just strut around and eat and then strut around some more and go home. Japan needs more new beat literary drunks like Pax Acidus if they want to be taken seriously. Seriously though, I have always liked to be in places where white people were in the minority. Oahu definitely counts as such a place and I will be sad when we leave.

One huge surprise was the great Hawaiian food. We have been eating kalua pig, lau lau, and poi at a nice diner outside of the tourist area. Poi is fantastic stuff, its a purple goo made from the taro root. Any food that is purple can't be all bad.