Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Absolute Best and Most Fantastically Superlative-Filled Blogpost Ever

After a week in the US it is clear to me that this is where the Best Beer in the Whole Entire Universe comes from, and it can kick Probably The Best Beer In the World's ass, even if it's f'n close to water, as the old Budweiser joke goes.

I have definitely been living in Sweden for too long because all of these superlatives (those -est words and phrases using most: most expensive) start to make my ears bleed after awhile. I get it. We want the best and we don't want to pay for it. We want the best and we want to pay garage sale prices for it. But the quest for the best seems an exhausting and futile battle to me.

See, no matter what, if I buy a new phone this week, even if I buy the bestest most super-duper model ever 1) a better one will come out next week and 2) do I really need my phone to double as a nail-file, a life-saving water raft and a penguin detector? (although if they make a phone like that I might just have to buy it).

Advertising in the US is no small-potatoes. I still remember sitting in the car listening to how if a husband really didn't want his wife to leave him this Valentine's day he should probably buy her a new fur coat. I told The Swede that buying a fur coat for me as a Valentine's day gift was a pretty surefire way to start a pretty big argument on the home front (not the best gift idea for your vegetarian wife).

Not only is it advertising, but magazines are on an endless quest to figure out what is the best and why. Everything from food to furniture. And yet, we still end up with boundless crap. How much research is the right amount of research to put in before buying a blu-ray, a mountain bike or even just dinner?

 I mean, I love to do the research, so I really am curious. I cannot tell you how much time it takes me to figure out if I want to try new New York restaurant A or B. I need to figure out what the best is, even if it is just the best for me. (And I am pretty sure at the moment the best for me is fancy schmancy vegan Japanese restaurant  Kajitsu). 

So see, you will probably find a more superlative filled blogpost out there. But the title got your attention didn't it. And that seems to be the point, doesn't it.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Gossip girl - is it a cultural thing?

So I've been stateside for a little over a week and all is good. But one thing that always catches me by surprise is the gossipy way tha people interact with each other here. Now it may just be where I live (New Jersey is not really known for being high-brow), but everywhere I go it seems that everyone is talking about everyone else.

Yesterday at the swim club I sat next to a man and a woman, mid 30s, who were blaming a mother for her child's drug addiction. The reason? She worked outside the home. Oh, and she bossed her husband around a lot. She just refused to accept her role as a wife. This conversation went on for about 30 minutes, and my jaw just got lower and lower.

Finally I started singing a little song to LO about'get that woman, back in the kitchen, back where she belongs.' They shut up pretty quickly after that.

And so it goes, out at restaurants, with friends, it's just gossip, gossip, gossip. And I'd like to say that most of it is not mean-spirited, but a lot of it is. A lot of it is pointing out where others have gone wrong. Oh and it is best if it is dramatic.

Now it night just be my Swedish friends and family, but the level of gossiping in Sweden is much more muted. Even if people are interested, they pretend to be only mildly so. In cafes I don't hear so much about other people's drug addictions, failed diets and infidelities. It may come across as bait superficial, but I find the gossiping even more so.

I always feel like so much more happens to people in Jersey, but maybe it's just that we make more noise about what's happening?

PS I'm writing this on my phone, so please forgive the mistakes

Sunday, August 14, 2011

A stateside sojourn

So I decided to tke a last minute trip across the Atlantic. I will be writing A bit more about it soon. But right now I am engaged in my favorite 'you can't do that in Sweden' activity. I've got the Sunday New York Times spread out around me, I've got a bagel and cream cheese in front of me, and a pot of piping hot brown coffee flavored water.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Swedish Celebrities: Alexander Skarsgård

It's been awhile since I tackled the subject of Swedish celebrities, but since I am trying desperately to catch up with True Blood, I have been seeing quite a bit of a certain Swedish celebrity I felt might be a good subject of today's post.

Alexander Skarsgard

Before I started watching True Blood, I have to admit, Alex was off my very small celebrity radar (which pretty much still consists almost completely of anyone who ever appeared on Twin Peaks). But then one day the character of Eric started speaking Swedish - and so began my interest in Mr. Skarsgard.

I am not totally oblivious. I do know Papa Skarsgard is a famous Swedish actor. I do recognize him. And I do recognize that when the camera pans toward one angle of Alex's face he is seemingly an exact copy of his father (do cameras pan a face? I didn't go to film school).

But I am happy to hear a little Swedish on mainstream American cable TV and I am happy to see some Swedish acting going on as well. I am also happy that Alex rocks the American accent as well as he does. Apparently I am a bit of a stickler on this since I am the only person who finds Dominic West's accent on The Wire to be in the same category as Kevin Costner.

I did a little research on Alex (and by research I mean a quick google search) and discovered that one of his first major roles was in one of my first 'favorite' Swedish TV shows 'Vita Logner.' I would watch Vita Logner to perfect and fine-tune my Swedish skills. (Vita Logner was probably a favorite because I couldn't understand anything that was going on - it was one of a few Swedish soap operas that ran almost a decade ago-more British style soap than American, but heavy on the drama) I think Alex was on the show before my time, and I cannot say that his role was so memorable that I carry it with me to this very day, but I was happy to find we shared this connection.

I also enjoy reading about how the Swedish media portray Alex vs. the American media. Swedish media likes to portray him as a good old-fashioned Swedish boy just yearning for the day he can return home. They publish pictures of him looking typically Swedish boy charming. (Well sometimes anyways, I tried to find a picture to prove my theory but came up short  - but my gut tells me this is true so what the hey). American media likes to publish things about how dashingly handsome he is and how is totally cool with going naked.

Ah well, enough media analysis. Enough celebrity gossip - I'm afraid I'm just not very good at it. Here are some video clips and pics of Alexander Skarsgard. Enjoy.

Perhaps with this clip you will understand the appeal of Vita Logner. Where did all the Swedish soap operas go anyway?

 An American media take on Alexander Skarsgar courtesy of Rolling Stone

The only photo I could find to represent the so-called Swedish media take, from

Monday, August 1, 2011

It's August, and Everything Is Rotten in the State of Sweden or Swedish Old Wives Tales

I don't know if this is just my Swedish family or it is a thing. I did a preliminary google on it, but came up short. This is often due to my craptastic Swedish spelling.

But today is the first day of August - or what my Swede often refers to as 'Rotten Month.' 'Don't leave that out, it's Rotten Month,' he will proclaim as soon as I finish serving dinner. And the hot food he usually refuses to put in the fridge for risk of ruining everything else in the fridge is thrown in immediately.

I get the logic behind Rotten Month if it is an old wives' tale. August is frequently one of the warmest months and thus more food goes bad. But see, The Swede, who tends to be quite scientific and sensible, repeats this rotten mantra even when temperatures dip well into the teens in Celsius, or the 60s in Fahrenheit (as often occurs in Sweden). I point out that it was actually warmer in July and we were, while not careless, were not August careful with our food and no stomach bugs were caught.

The temperature, says the Swede, is irrelevant. It is August - it is Rotten Month - we must be prepared. So today is the first day of Rotten Month. The Swede missed dinner, but I dutifully refrigerated it for him. I don't mind doing so on days like today when it is indeed hot and humid.

So is this just my silly Swede? Is this a thing? Is there a good story behind it?