Friday, June 26, 2009

Poor Farrah

Last night on the local news there was an interview with one of the lesser Osmonds (Adam? Alan? I can't remember all their names) in which he shared his reaction to the 'shocking' news of Michael Jackson's 'tragic' and 'untimely' passing. He also waxed nostaligic about the good old days when The Jackson 5 and The Osmonds were first getting started and sharing a tour circuit. There was talk of how well Donny and Michael got on together; the phrase "best of friends" was bandied about loosely.

At the thought of Donny Osmond and Michael Jackson alone in a room together, I couldn't help myself, my mind just bogled. If I were a slash fiction writer I'd be all over that action. It would be very King Phillip/Richard III in The Lion in Winter, only I'd be hard pressed to decide which should be the love sick school boy and which should be the contemptuous seducer. Either way, Michael's enduring devotion to military fashion motifs would be the obsessive homage to the fantasy games he used to play during his tawdry brush with Mormon sexual repression.

It was an awesome interview. Brother Osmond's hair was badly dyed and he called Orem the bestest place in all of YOU-tah. How I've missed the local news.

Being home has been pretty great so far. I had the bloodiest, juiciest, saltiest, fleshiest steak EVER just days after landing, and knew instantly that it was worth the $6,000 dollars and 26 hour trek it took to get here for it.

Mostly we're just swimming, shopping, and eating. Not much time for blogging in between. I'll check in every now and then, but honestly, I wouldn't be for expecting much from me over the next five weeks or so. If I have anymore steak, I'll be sure to take the time to tell you about it though. Honest to God--it's just. that. good.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Ha Det På Badet--Literally

If you've ever wondered how best to complicate the process of packing your family of five for a summer abroad, you can go ahead and stop wondering. I've got your answer: allow your shallow ass well to run dry three days before you leave. It's a perfect hassle see, because it will muddle your life to the nth degree without actually threatening your departure, thus avoiding the pre-flight heart attack that would really throw a spanner in the works.

This happens to us every damn summer. There are three houses using our one itty bitty well, and whenever we have a run of good weather (only ever possible in Spring) it dries up. I try not to be critical of Mr. Gotta Wash The Car Twice A Week Neighbor-Man, but GRRRRRRRR!

Last night the men folk jerry-rigged one of those suction/vacuum deals to draw water from our neighbor's deeper well into ours. We are now over flowing with sweet, potable water, but naturally the pump burned out when we ran dry Sunday afternoon. Soooooo, nix.

I've lost count of the number of buckets of lake water I've lugged up the hill to flush toilets, and boil for dish washing, and such. I spent yesterday at Mister's cousin's house doing the laundry, so that's alright. My primary issue right now is showers and baths before we leave. I fear, Grandparentals, that we might be a bit over-ripe for that first welcome home hug....

Whoa--erase, erase, erase. Just moments ago, Mister waltzed in claiming victory. I can now confirm that we do, indeed, have water. Yey! Showers all around!

Doesn't erase the inconvenience of the last two days though. Jackass Neighbor Man best oughta step off the car washing from here on out....

And now to you la Dragon--

I'll see your rocketship vibrator and raise you a hi-fi stereo:

In the middle there, she asks the guy to turn the music up. And the slogan is "Nothing comes entirely on its own." Ba-dum-bum

Silly blond. Hasn't she ever heard of a spin cycle?

For the record, I think the IKEA ad is probably funnier, but this is pretty damn good too.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


Every once in a while Norway comes up with a commercial so awesome it naturally wouldn't be allowed anywhere near American prime time.

You really don't need to understand Norwegian to enjoy this. The old guys wanna help, that's all...

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Three Gastronomical Wonders Idiot Mister Can't Appreciate Because He's Not The Privileged, Enlightened American That I Am

1. Caramel Corn

2. Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

3. Captain Crunch Berries

I don't see that any more really needs to be said about this.  I mean, he actually said to me tonight, "I don't see what the big deal is, Jamie.  Everyone knows that pop corn is so much better without that sticky goo all over it, ice cream was only ever meant to be vanilla, and Captain Crunch Berries isn't even food."

Isn't? Even? Food?

Have you ever heard such heresy in your life?

At least we can both agree that port is the sixth and most essential food group.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Clever Boy

In order to share Boy's latest penetrating, multi-layered poem, I'm going to have to use real names.  This bothers me not even a little bit at this point. 

But before I cast away that final veil of anonymity, I want to explain that what started as genuine skittishness and cyber-paranoia, grew into an admittedly lame literary pretension, which eventually seeped into my real life such that, these days, I tend to call the kids by their bloggy handles at least as often as I do their real names.  This is especially true for Boy.  Boy is Boy--quintessential and enduring.  So it made sense to me to keep going with the fake names, even after I gave in and started publishing pictures of them.  EM (Elder Miss), Boy, and Missy (Little Miss): that's who they are; it's how I think of them.

Without further ado--Boy's latest little ditty.  Which managed to catch me so off guard, that actual tea spurted out of my actual nose.  Consider yourself forewarned:

Amanda rhymes with panda,
that means she's a panda.
Daniel rhymes with cocker spaniel,
that means I'm a cocker spaniel.
Emma rhymes with dilemma,
that means she has a problem.

And if you add Jamie (that's me) to all that, you get JEDA.  Welcome to my world.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The Test Results Are In

It's all good.

I'm officially an advanced språker of the advanced språk.

Check me out. I'm even certified to use the fancy vowels: språk, høyre, lææææære.

I think the 'æ' is my favorite of the fancy vowels. It's kind of a hyper-flat, short 'a' sound, and I can't seem to stop myself from over pronouncing it every time I use it: lææææære, bææææære, ææææære. Annoys the shit out of Elder Miss, which makes it even more fun.

I needed 450 points to pass. I got 600 out of a total of 700 points. I'm told this is respectable, and that I should be proud of myself.

But I don't know. I tend to think it means bupkis. I mean, I flew to Rygge (in the East of Norway) yesterday to pick up my new puddy tat and her sister. The dialect over there.....sheesh! Everytime someone opened their mouth to speak to me I was all like, "Wa-huh?"

The breeder who delivered the puddy tats to the airport spoke an extra special form of the dialect called 'breathless rapid-fire'. That was fun. I think she was telling me stuff she thought I needed to know. Something about vaccines which they need more of, and ID chips which need to be...hell, I don't know...but there was definitely something about ID chips. I just nodded my head, fondled the kittens, and signed whatever she handed me to sign. Seems to me that someone who scored a 600 out of 700 possible points on a language test should be capable of more advanced conversation than that.

The kittens, by the way--cute with a capital Q, if you know what I mean. They made me take them out of the travel cage and carry them through the security check point. Everyone around me agreed we made quite the adorable tableau. Then, naturally, the machine singled me out for a random search. Just imagine: me, two kittens, and a rough pat-down by a uniformed security guard (a rather large, dark one, at that). The stuff of fetishes, I tell ya'!

Alas, the puddy tat is not home with us. As I think I've already mentioned, we're leaving for Salt Lake next Wednesday and the woman who bought Cindy's* sister offered to take both kittens for the summer. We delivered them there late last night. Both of them exhausted and terrified from their journey.

And such is the news from JEDA this week. Time to start gathering my wits about me, and preparing myself for the trip home. Funny, yesterday's quick hop to Rygge didn't phase me at all, but the prospect of next week's trek acorss the Atlantic just freaks me out. Is it the distance? The water? The fact that the kids will be with me, and that they too could fall out of the sky from 35,000 feet? I don't honestly know. But I'm not looking forward to it. Not one bit.

Home, on the other hand, home will be bliss. Can't wait!

*You read right. It appears that Mister and his 'Cindy' campaign won out. Fucker.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Finally! The One About The Art Show

I had some pretty high hopes going into this art show. I've been looking forward to it all year.

Just imagine: my child--who loves art--her art on display--in a real museum--at the tender age of 9. How cool will that be?

As it turns out--not so much.

The visual arts department of Bergen Kulturskole enrolls close to 1,000 students, and this one show was meant to showcase the budding talent of all those kids. I get how difficult it must be for the organizers to pull off such a feat year after year. And I get what a priviledge it is for these kids to have this opportunity to display their work in such a grand manor. I really do. I don't mean to imply that the event as a whole was laughably inadequate or rinky-dink. But I can't help it--I did expect much, much more.

Every year the show opens with a student procession from Bergen's central square (Torgalmeningen) to the museum (hardly more than a full city block, maybe a block and a half away). They have the kids make something flashy to carry during the parade. Last year they painted white umbrellas, this year they made flags. Here's EM holding the flag she designed and painted herself.

They were a little late getting started, the kids were restless and bored, and I was already well on my way to being too bloody hungry for comfort. But whatever. The flags were fun. And they got a drummer from the music department to lead the procession with a brisk ratta-tat-tat on a snare drum.

So far, so good.

The kids entered the museum first, through the upper doors. How nice. Very festive and exciting to watch.

The parents were obliged to wait until all the students were in. Then family was welcomed in through the lower doors. I didn't mind the wait. It's a big building, right? There should be plenty of room for us all. Right? Even though there were, say 8oo students, plus parents, plus siblings, maybe a grandparent or two...that's, let's see...I was always so bad at's,'s gotta be over 2,000....But no matter. Like I said, big building, plenty of room. Right?

We were ushered into a lobby--a sort of central rotunda, with a marble staircase sweeping through it. Perhaps 'rotunda' is the wrong word to use here. Congering up, as it does, images of grand, airy spaces topped with painted murals of heavenly clouds and chubby angels. That's not what this was. No, it was pretty much a glorified entryway in plain eggshell blue. But it was covered by a dome. Hence....rotunda?

Anyway, it wasn't big. Not nearly big enough for 2,000+ people. The organizers and parent helpers kept pushing us forward, urging us to fill in all the gaps between us. "We have to get everyone up the stairs," they'd shout, "Please move forward!" Being the good socialists we all are, we did as we were told.

And there we stood--cramped, hot, impatient--for the duration of two speeches, a couple of important annoucements about nothing very important, flowers were handed out to the teachers, a brass band from the music school performed something durge-like and vaguely Christmasy by Bach. And all the while we looked longly through the glass doors that led into the large, roooomy display halls of the main museum.

The glass doors were pad-locked.

Finally, a flutter of polite applause signaled the end of the opening ceremony pleasantries, and a side door swung open. The whole sweaty, bovine mass of us moved toward it as one.

I was expecting--I don't know--a wing? an auxillary gallary? maybe an elementary school gymnasium type space partitioned off with white board on which to display the art? What I saw once I finally got to the door was...well, it was none of these things.

It was a longish kind of room. For those of you who have been in Grandma Gae's downstairs living room--not that big. For those of you who have been in Grandpa Stan's basement TV room--about that big, only with very high, museum worthy ceilings and high-tech lighting. At the far end of this longish room was a door leading to another, much smaller room--think 'guest-room' here--and off of this, was a small nook which I never made it into. But over the heads of many I saw a widescreen TV mounted on the wall, so I'm guessing that's where the digital animation kids were displaying their wherewithal.

Into this cramped space--made even more awkward and small by the sculpture class's garden of green and orange ceramic cactii sprawled gaudily across the center of the room--poured 2,000+ tired and hungry philistines. "Which one is yours, Junior? Show me quick so we can get the fuck outta here."

I found it difficult to breathe. My family had been split apart by the general press into the display room. I had a hold of Boy's hand. I hoped to God someone had a hold of Little Miss. Elder Miss had darted ahead of everyone as soon as the doors had opened. She was hot, and desperate to find out if there were refreshments on the other side; there were not.

As I mentioned, I was starting to feel too hungry before the parade even started. So try to imagine the state of my blood-sugar level a loooong, boring hour later. Suffice it to say, I was not exactly my most serene and rational self. The only thought my mind had room for was, "Why here? Why here? Why on Earth hold this thing HERE?" They host a student art show every year. Every year the students and all their parents show up for the opening. That's 2,000+ people. WHY HERE?

And on top of that, I couldn't find anything that looked anything like something EM might have done. The walls in both rooms were covered with drawings and paintings, all in a pretty rainbow of various subjects and techniques. Even in the heat of my famished frustration, I had to admit that if only the room were empty of all these god damn people, it would look really quite colorful and lovely. But as far as I could tell, none of it belonged to my child. And I was getting pretty sick of Boy standing next to me pointing at everything and asking, "Did EM do that? Did EM do that? Did she do that? How about that, did EM do it?" NOOOOOO!

After pressing, squeezing, shoving my way through both rooms twice, I still hadn't found anything that had EM's name on it. I caught sight EM standing in a corner looking as bored and insouciant as ever a 9 year old could. I shouted across the room to get her attention, "EMMMM!"

Seeing me, she shouted back, "MOM! I'M THIRSTY!"



At this point people around us started to understand that these two loud Americans were trying to have a conversation here, and that perhaps they could do it more quietly if they were standing next to each other. A path began to clear.

"Has Daddy seen it? Where's Farmor? Show me where it is."

"Daddy saw. Farmor gave me 50 kroner. I'm really thirsty."

"EM, show me your work, then go find something to drink."

Reluctantly she walked me over to her little patch of museum glory.

Before I show you what her teacher put on display, let me show you what she's capable of:

She sketched Mulan here, and her hapless victim Puff the Magic Dragon, last week while she was waiting for a friend to arrive for a sleep over. Sure, sure this is no finished compostion, and probably, therefore, not museum worthy, but still pretty impressive. Right? Surely she finished something of the sort during all those hours in class that would stand out well amongst the riff-raff.

Yet, this is what they chose to display:

Eh, you say? What in the ever loving Hell is that supposed to be?

Ya' got me.

It's not much improved from the rear-view. But at least now we know that whatever it is, the Norwegians are responsible for it:

It was part of a project they did early last fall. Free-form architecture.

They're meant to be bird houses, or some shit. They spent weeks collecting boxes and empty food containers, assembling them, gluing them all together, and then painting them.

In preparation for the project, they spent a few weeks sketching buildings around the city, and then drawing wonky fantastical buildings from their imagination. I saw those drawings and paintings. They were great. In my ever humble opinion, they were display worthy. I can't quite wrap my aesthetics around the finished product. Yet there it is, basking in the spotlight for all of Bergen to see.
And that's the story of EM's first art show. We went out for pizza afterwards. I took a couple of pictures on the way back to the car. Is it wrong of me to say that, in some ways, this is the prettiest thing I saw in town that day?