Sunday, April 25, 2010

Eerie chaos.

Say what you want about Norway and Norwegians, but they do make some good music! One artist that has recently (although I'm guessing she's been around for a while!) been more or less discovered by the entire country is Susanne Sundfør. She got some excellent reviews in the newspapers, and I really have a hard time imagining anyone not noticing her. In Norway, that is. And since almost all the people I know are from outside of Norway (all the stereotypes you've heard about Norwegians being hard to get to know are 100% true), I thought I'd write a little bit about her.

Sundfør makes music that is quite simply magic. I have finally been able to listen to her entire album (the 2nd one, The Brothel) since I got access to the Norwegian Spotify, Wimp (but she is on Spotify as well), and it is in no way disappointing after having heard the title track, the Brothel. I really thought it would be hard for her to live up to such a song, but she actually does it.

In a couple of words, Sundfør's music is melodic, violent, calm, energetic, chaotic creepy and/or eerie. She uses her voice as a true instrument, not just as a tool for adding words to music, and this is one of the very few albums I have a hard time listening to as background music. I just have to listen to it.

My favorite songs are The Brothel, It's All Gone Tomorrow and Father Father (which is delightfully and unsettlingly similar to church music).

This is what music should be like.


Friday, April 23, 2010

Paris photo post.

(All photos are Sasha's, because I left for Paris with a camera without a memory card. I would like to point out that the lack of memory card was in no way my fault.)

Now then, Paris. Paris is a beautiful city, as is well known to everyone who has visited it. I did visit Paris once when it was gray and rainy, and that time I was not very impressed, but this time our first day in Paris was filled with sunshine, and how can that not be the start of a great mini vacation? I enjoy both extravagant architecture and old streets, as well as bombastic nature scenes. In Oslo I get neither, so it felt very refreshing to visit a truly big city again, with cathedrals, castles that actually look like castles, and all that.

On our way, after a somewhat dramatic start.

There are so many things to do in Paris that I have actually managed to go there four times without visiting Le Louvre or Le musée d'Orsay. But now I've been to both! The second one is actually more interesting, but here is perhaps the ugliest painting (or motive, poor woman) I could find in the Louvre (We were a bit surprised at people taking photos in there, so I thought we should take a photo of this thing. Just because it's ugly).

Lots of people at that place.

Two Russian girls took photos of us outside the Louvre.

We naturally got lost quite a couple of times. Usually at night. Luckily, the first time we were not that very far away from the Tour d'Eiffel, and I don't think you can say that you're lost as long as you can actually see that thing. Right?

During previous visits to Paris, I thought I had been to the flea market at Porte de Clingancourt. But I hadn't. I was always surprised that it was so small, but this time we had some printed instructions that mentioned going past smaller flea market in order to get to the big one. The big one was kind of creepy, and everything was very expensive.

Before going to the Musée d'Orsay, we went to a café that actually served decent coffee. The garcon was clearly amused by us wanting to pay at the wrong moment and returning our empty cups to the counter when we left. Apparently we were doing his job ;) It was a very cozy place, and I really like this picture Sasha took in our little "booth".

A rather fancy cappuccino and the money the garçon didn't want until we left.

The first time I saw these little "bookshops" on the Seine was when I was in Paris for just one day three or so years ago. My friend, who was living in Paris, showed me around Le quartier latin, his fancy school/Palace, a very nice park and these lovely things. We actually found some Russian books this time, but they were very expensive so I didn't buy anything. I bought "Les Russes" here though, and it cost 2,5 euros.

The other side of the river and the middle, from a bridge.

We didn't really do a whole lot of eating in Paris, mostly because we were always walking somewhere. And when we did eat, we didn't always choose the classiest places! The baguettes were very good though, especially after like 10 hours without food.

Russia was rather present in Paris.

Sasha thought I was so colorful she just had to take a photo of me.

Paris Metro. I like it, it's very easy to navigate. But hard to find!

We spent a whole lot of time in shops, but I think that's okay since it's Paris. You can't go to Paris without doing some shopping, especially since it's so cheap for us.
That's all for this time, folks!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Such beauties.

The balance in the universe was today re-established as I bought three books. It's been quite a while since I last bought books, and shamefully enough I only bought one in France. But then I have also been too absent-minded lately to read, so I feel a bit stupid about buying books. Anyway, they are probably very good ones.

The quarrelsome seal that was eyeing a disenchanted but rather attractive fish that was jumping in and out of the icy water has picked a fight with a phlegmatic walrus that was innocently passing by.

Yes, I have already started reading "The Unfolding of Language", since it was recommended to me, and it has made me chuckle quite a couple of times, so I'm well pleased. I was actually just going into the book store in order to pass some time and to have a look at this book that I was thinking about buying, and then I saw that there was a "three for the price of two" sticker on it, and I had a look around to see if there was any other books that seemed highly interesting. When my eyes fell on Orlando Figes' book I just started looking for a third one in order to justify buying them. I have been reading, and very much enjoying, Figes' "A Cultural History of Russia" (I haven't actually finished it yet but it's never boring) so I am looking forward to reading his book about private life in Stalin's Russia.

Finally, the third book had "for people interested in language, this is a must" written on the back of it, and I recognized the title. Not a very difficult decision.

The book that I did actually buy in Paris (and I'm going to make a photo post about the trip as soon as I get the photos) was this one, and I guess you can see that there is a certain trend in the books I buy...

Sunday, April 4, 2010

So not language or literature related. But there's wine in there.

I have turned into a horrible student. I am not reviewing for anything I should be reviewing for, and I'm not doing much else that's academic either. I'm starting to feel rather horrible actually. I know that holidays are considered to be resting periods for some people, but for me they have always been times of intensified study for some tests or whatnot. Not this time though! I've finished an essay, or rather rewritten it somewhat since it didn't turn out good, read some German and done some Hungarian, and read half of Три Сестры, but that's really a very small amount of work considering how many days off I've had.

I am however rather pleased to be able to say that I have additional interests that take up time. I have tried to very carefully take up crocheting again, but I can only do two or three 15 cm rows a day. Yeah, that scarf is going to take awhile. Another hobby of mine is chocolate making. For the longest time I thought I wouldn't try to get serious with it, because it's just so time consuming and difficult and I've never gone to any chocolate class or anything. I usually cheat by using a specific type of chocolate to make my shells, a type that doesn't need to be tempered. I have not been pleased with the fading shine though, so I want to try my luck at using real Belgian chocolate for the shells as well - and tempering it. Have any of you ever tried tempering chocolate? I tried to do it with white chocolate and a poor thermometer some days ago. It didn't go too well. Hence I am about to spend a certain amount of money ordering chocolate equipment from the UK. Chocolate dippers, a chocolate thermometer, candy wrappers, new moulds (I already have five, but there are so many pretty ones...). Working with chocolate is an art, and I have finally decided to actually try to learn it. I'm not really sure what I'm supposed to do with all the stuff I produce, it's not like I have any plans on starting a candy shop :-)

All of these are filled with various chocolate/nut/almond paste/coffee/nougat fillings.

Notice the Russian chocolate box :-)

Other than that, I've also been creating some jewelry with Sasha, who makes fabulous Fimo earrings and pearl jewelry. I spent Wednesday evening at her place eating delicious sushi, drinking wine and (in a somewhat tipsy state) making these:

I'm horrible at photographing shiny things.This looks very plain, but it takes a certain amount of time to make all those loops that the pearls are attached to (it's all made from wire), and open endless amounts of small rings in order to attach everything. My hands were pretty tired at the end of the evening :/

I used to do some small earrings and such things three years ago, but like many other things in my life, I stopped it when I moved to Norway. Also, back then I wasn't really as obsessive about jewelry as I am now. My 60 or so pairs of earrings do show that I have a certain interest in these things. I'm very much looking forward to making more, but naturally both this and the chocolate business is going to take some considerable time away from my poor languages.