Monday, October 31, 2005

Damned and blast

Well, I think we can all agree that my feeble, but extremely scientific attempt at becoming intelligent instead of just being beautiful, failed miserably. It seems that I all of a sudden had not only become ugly, but quite mean to Mikkel with all that newfound intelligence. I have therefore decided to go back to the old me and trek up north and save him from going native. These guys like to take cheese in their coffee, see what I mean? He must be stopped.

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Call of the wild

I have decided to become a Kväpödder. This is something I've given a lot of thought, lately. It has become painfully obvious to me that I'm not cut out for this urban sex bomb life.

I have done everything to make myself interesting: I tried to be cool, I tried to be clever, I tried to be sexy - hell, I was even a Latvian there for a while.

And what happens? I'm still covered in storfekjøtt. Something's gotta give.

I'm heading north.

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Sunday, October 30, 2005

Social Economics

I saw my Soc Ec teacher on the street the other day. She looked old. I took that woman's class for a full year of high school, three hours a week. There were a few essays but no final exam. The evaluation would be based on class participation, she said. On the last day of school, when she told us the result, I was surprised to get a better than average grade. When I thanked her, she was surprised to learn that I was from another country and didn't speak the language.

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A year in the Royal Finnmärscker Hussars


Phlegmatic autumn exercise


Melancholic winter maneuver


Choleric spring parade


Sanguine summer drill

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Lüst in translation

freezing autumn winds
winter is surely coming
but the ears are safe

(My humble translation of Sara's haiku)

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Saturday, October 29, 2005

My new hat

It's starting to get cold and shitty here in Lüleå, and on that occasion, I've bought a new hat. Also, during my transformation from sex bomb to intelligent, I have delved deeply into the art of writing haiku. My first and may I say brilliant attempt at this was inspired by our friend over at the Archipelago.

In light of all this new change in me, I have written my second ever haiku, and yes, it is an urban and stylishly bright hommage to my new and very Chinese winter attire:

kalde høstvinder
vinteren kommer vel snart
ørene er safe

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Weekly summary

Phew! What a week it has been. Not only have I gone through (as promised) with an amazing transformation from babe to intelligent, but I have been exposed to all sorts of stressors ranging from people who like to lick bums in toilets (age 3 and 4, respectively), writing a new lecture at midnight after getting famously drunk with ex- girlfriend of M's whilst listening to poetry of varying quality and interest. Additionally, I have been accused of reading a lot of porn and wearing false teeth. Oh well, I'm off sharpen that great big mind off mine.

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Ode to Fluffy


They say that navel fluff is always blue:
The fibers of the lint are so petite
That they reflect the color of the fleet.
But judging by my Fluffy, that's not true -
He has an unexciting, grayish hue
Much like the squalid dust beneath our feet.
To Fluffy dull, dry land is quite enough,
He wants to roam the earth like tumbleweed.
A life ashore will make him free and tough!
Marine existence he detests, indeed
He does not go for all that naval stuff.
He wants to live and die as navel fluff.

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For the first time ever: A guest appearance

SHÄDY ÄCRES has received a wire transmission from our correspondent in the B1-66er Archipelago, the first to get through after the end of last week's blizzard. It just cleared the censors five minutes ago, and we are proud to bring it in its entirety:

Dependence!

I knew 25 Oktober was going to be a strange day when I was rousted out of bed at some ungodly hour like 10:00 by a lowly representative of the Sub-Chief Magistrate’s office. I assumed they were after me for the TV tax again (they insist I watch TV and have “transmissions” that prove it, but all I do is watch DVD’s), so I took my time and then made my way down to the government offices. I knew something was up though, by subtle little hints like all of my neighbors wearing their mole skoene.

I’m swept immediately into the office and it’s clear they are way pissed. Being bureaucrats, they only speak Høye Finnmärscker, but I’m able to pick up enough in the English words they have to use that the reason they’re peeved has everything to do with my little rant at the end of my Norway column, because apparently there’s serious talk that the Finnmärck government may grant the Archipelago imperiument and make us part of the crown. You’d think this is a good thing, right? These dorks are afraid they lose their jobs.

While I’m sitting there, they get a call from the Chief Magistrate (there’s a guy you never see). And although the end of the call is cut-off by some freak blizzard on the Finnmärscker hovedsakelig, it’s become clear not only that the Arch is going to be under the crown, but these clowns will probably get their salaries doubled “until things are straightened out.” Are you kidding me? This is the government. It’ll never get straightened out.

A national holiday and general bedlam ensue, but not before they convene a quick counsel to declare one thing: The fjörf is now the National Animal. The fjörf, for the love of Benito. I hate those damn things. You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a fjörf, and now they’re protected. “We want to be thought of as the Green Finnmärck,” the dopes said. Yeah, well if that’s what you want, here’s an idea – find a place without permafrost and plant some grass. Oh, and while you’re at it, maybe you might want to tow these 150 islands south about 20 degrees in latitude, so our version of “green” doesn’t look suspiciously like a polar ice cap.

They went down to the old whale brakken, got out that statue of Frid Tøysen that we used to play on when we were kids, and hauled it up in the main square for the occasion. Everyone just laughed, but hey, what’re you going to do? It’s not like we have the option of going to “Statues ‘R’ Us” and getting something better.

From there it was just non-stop party. Lots of food, grog, and that disgusting cask brødet (whale blubber on American Rye Toast – you can always tell the countries that’ve had famine by what they consider to be a delicacy, eh?). Toward the end things got a little strange. The last whaling fleet came in, saw the statue of Tøysen in the square, thought it was Lenin, assumed that the (P)Russians had taken over again (“one bald guy looks like another” I heard one say later), tore the statue down and immediately went back to sea to sink the first Russian trawler they could find. This, almost certainly, will cause the first official apology from the FinnmArch government.

The day ended with every firework that could be found on the Archipelago being shot (amazingly with no destruction), and judging from the noises around town, you can bet you’ll see a small population explosion about nine months from now.

You know, we’re probably the only little scrap of a place that actually didn’t want independence. But we’ve always felt vulnerable, and if any of the big boys ever decided to step on us, it’s not clear anyone would care, or even know – I mean, when was the last time you saw anyone lose sleep over the injustices in Burkina Faso, for example. Fishing is on the way down and it’s not like whaling is the “industry of the future.” Finnmaercium deposits won’t last forever.

Finnmärck gives us hope, a place of belonging and a solid foot on a continent. And Oktober 25 will be a day off for me for the rest of my life, so what’s not to like?

Rumours of the moment:

- The Arch may not have to pay Finnmärscker VAT, because it may mean that the income would be high enough to show up in the CIA World Factbook and that would mean spies. (Hey man, I don’t say I believe these things, I just report them.)

- The American military wants to use the Niesgeluid Islands as a staging ground for their bases on Greenland. (Bring it on. We’d just tax the bejesus out of them, and they’ve have to hire a ton of locals. And I can’t wait to see what happens when they hear the fjörf is protected.)

- Starbucks has approached the crown asking to call the Arch “Starbucklund.” (Like what? We’re a football stadium?)

- The Uiteinde Koude Islands may not be included as part of the imperiument. Better yet, say why? There’s no Finnmaercium deposits there, of any isotopic form. Just a few hundred fjörfs.

- This is just weird, so I’ll bet it’s true: We may no longer be able to be counted under the grace of Japan’s whaling fleet.We’ve been skating on the thinnest of ice there for far too long.

- The Chief Magistrate may have to give up his house in the Seychelles and move back to the Arch. (Yeah, right.)

B1-66ER - END OF TRANSMISSION

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Friday, October 28, 2005

Bedside manners

I think it’s important to be open about these things so I’m just going to jump out and say it: There’s trouble in the bedroom. It’s been going on for a while and frankly, I’m worried. I just feel I can’t be silent about it anymore.

Let me spell it out for you: Feng Shui.

First of all, the wood paneling, the pinkish tile floor, the mirrored closets and the harsh red lighting combine to give our bedroom the look and feel of a Latvian whorehouse. I make no excuses for that. It’s something else.

I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it just bothers me. Every time I go in there I get a vague sense there’s something that doesn’t quite balance. Is it the southeast window? The wicker laundry basket? Maybe you can help me out.

My side of the bed:
(In case you were wondering: Yes, that's Fluffy. He has come back to me.)

Her side of the bed:

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Thursday, October 27, 2005

Did I smoke a cigarette last night?


Hum-de-dum... Just another night out, hobnobbing with the literati.


Stop doing that! I can't take you anywhere.


My brother the rocket scientist who arranged this thing in order to get himself a discount on the beer, yet did not manage to get us any.


The chick with the poetry was OK, I guess, but this guy is just flat out boring me to death. How can this possibly get any worse?


Enter my ex-girlfriend, the law student. Yes, she still hates my guts.


Better get her drunk quick before she makes a scene. Stop doing that! It's not funny!


Finally. Let's get the fuck out of here. Now if I can just keep them drinking...


My beer-and-bitter scheme seems to be working. Once again, I have outsmarted everybody including myself.


They're getting along famously. Shit, they're practically swapping recipes. In fact... Wait a goddamn minute. What's going on here?


Are they plotting against me? Oh my God - my drink tastes like bitter almonds! THEY HAVE LACED MY BEER WITH HYDROGEN CYANIDE!


Oh. It was only the bitter. Phew. For a second there I saw my life flashing before my eyes, and I'm telling you, it was no picnic. Well, part of it was.


Safely back at HQ, and do you know what time it is? That's right. It's time for cake.

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Wednesday, October 26, 2005

One more day like today and I’ll kill you

The best thing about being a sex bomb is that I can get away with anything. I can insult anybody, reveal any dark secret, it doesn’t matter. Nothing I say needs to make any sense, not even to myself. I am a walking, living god of the forbidden, and I will write whatever the hell I want to. It is like the freedom of a pseudonym, but without the cowardice that comes with it. My perfect body is my nom de guerre. Let me tell you a true story: In the early nineties I dropped out of college to pursue a career as a nobody. I worked for a time as a stage technician in an experimental theater, around a bunch of fashionably depressive people who dressed in black and listened to suicide pop. Even then, over ten years ago, it was already getting old. Me and one of the others were picking up something from the train station; I can't remember what it was but it was an hour late. We decided to go for coffee at a nearby café. It was early in the morning and only two other guys were there. One of them I’d seen around, a schizophrenic painter, in and out of institutions but critically acclaimed. The other was a skinny guy with green teeth, clearly an amphetamine user, what we used to call a speed freak. It’s probably not the trendiest term anymore. They were telling bog stories, each trying to top the other, and we couldn’t help listening in. The painter described how he had once discovered that his apartment was bugged by the government. They used the electrical system, got in through the power outlets. He had to plug all the holes. Then he understood that the appliances were bugged too. In fact, every electrical device in the apartment served as a microphone. He had to get rid of them: Refrigerator, washer and dryer, toaster, hand mixer, shaver, TV, stereo and speakers, all the lamps, the walkman, the calculator, his watch and clock radio, every piece of wire, every battery. They had to go. So what did he do? He sold them to his downstairs neighbor for 200 reichmärck. That’s nothing, said the speed freak. Once, I was coming down from two weeks of partying. I didn’t have any more, I couldn’t get any more and my body wouldn’t take any more. I had postponed the dreaded moment for as long as possible, but now I simply had to sleep. I lay in my bed, coming down like a burning airplane. I tossed and turned, sweating the rest of it out until my sheets were like dishwater. At one point I was sure I was going to die. In that moment a light appeared at the foot of the bed, and a bright figure stepped toward me, clad in a shroud. I saw that it was Jesus Christ the Redeemer, the true son of God, his arms outstretched so that the wounds on his hands were clearly visible. He looked upon me with infinite compassion, and then he said: Ronny, you have to stop masturbating so often.

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Lame Finnmärscker jokes

-Why did the fjörf cross the road?
-To avenge the death of his brother.

-Knock knock.
-Who’s there?
-A fjörf.
-A fjörf who?
-Af jörf servijf.

-What do you get if you crossbreed a storf with a fjörf?
-You get a really sore fjörf.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

By name and seal

This is indeed a glorious day for Finnmärck.

Our westernmost Atlantic possession, a small cluster of bleak, fjörf-ridden islands off the coast of Greenland, has today been officially recog- nized by the Crown as part of the realm proper.

The cluster, marked on the map only as the B1-66er Archipelago, was probably discovered by Dutch traders looking for an alternative route to Cadiz in the mid 1630es when business was slow. From time to time it has served as home to stranded whalers captured by the drift ice during the winter months, and also the odd eskimo.

It wasn’t, however, until the area was claimed for Finnmärck by Fridjalf Tøysen in 1907 - under the right of Terra Nullius - that it became settled permanently. Until recently it was inhabited by a small, mostly illiterate community of fishermen, characterized by an almost unlimited capacity for hard manual labor and a strict but sincere religious devotion.

The 1997 discovery of vast mineral resources has changed that. The state owned companies that administrate the Crown Princess Randi Deposits now employ over a thousand workers and have a a daily production output of 1.7 tons of Finnmaercium 23.

A small gathering of locals witnessed the ceremony today at Möllhävn where officials unveiled a medium size statue of King Vidar Benito XIII to mark the occasion. In a speech made brief by an unexpected blizzard, Ombudsman Perschonvern B. P. Mongstad said the following:

“B1-66ers, we salute you.”

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Cold apple dream



just in from the rain
another night without sleep
thank God for cold cake

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I’ll show you my gender if you show me yours

I know what you’re thinking: What is he wearing? Well, I’ll tell you. It’ll be like a striptease in reverse.

Styling: Brown guernsey, brown shoes. Black t-shirt, black socks, black trousers. Black boxer shorts. I used to wear glasses but now I wear contact lenses, which makes me feel fucking invincible.

Short hair that I cut myself. A few days’ growth of beard. It’s not a statement, I’m just lazy.

No styling products. No hair gel, no peroxide, no dye. No moisturizer. I use toothpaste and shampoo.

No tattoos. No jewelry. No earring anymore, no nose ring any more. No wedding ring anymore.

Body: Wiry, slim to the point of skinny, not overly hairy. Some scars here and there, the eyebrows mostly, the knees and elbows, a few cuts on the fingers. I’m not built for heavy lifting, but I am built for speed and endurance. I have the body of a scout, if not the eyes, and I’m in pretty good shape for a guy my age, mostly because I’m restless and walk everywhere.

Violence: Why is this relevant to me being a sex bomb? If you don’t know by now, chances are you never will.

I'm not into martial arts. I haven’t been in that many fights since the fifth grade, at least not sober, and only a handful that were serious.

I served a couple of years in the Danish army as a conscripted sergeant. I know how to handle all types of small arms, and I know how to direct mortar and artillery fire. Give me a map, a radio and a pair of binoculars and I will toast you from three kilometers away. Oh, I’ll need a mortar crew too, otherwise it’s just me talking to myself.

I'm telling you this because I know for a fact that chicks love a man in uniform. Myself, I love the weight of an assault rifle in my hands. It makes me feel safe and alert, which is the best way to be.

Money: If that sort of thing is important to you, you can buy me a drink and then fuck off.

Cooking skills: I am not allowed to go into the kitchen anymore, but if I was I would make Pasta Carbonara.

Genetics: I descend from a long line of ancestors, and as I have proven on at least one occasion, I produce perfect offspring.

Things I believe women like about me: I have a sense of humor, obviously, I mean, come on.

Things about me that are decidedly unmanly: I know nothing, absolutely nothing, about cars or sports. In fact I’ve failed the drivers’ test four times. Supporting the local team? Who cares.

How I am in bed: If you don’t know by now, chances are you never will.

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Monday, October 24, 2005

Gender and intelligence

We here at SHÄDY ÄCRES are proud to announce that we honour gender equality and the fight against culturally constructed gender stereotypes. In line with this, we have decided to actively work towards a more ethical and equal representation of gender on our blog.

Therefore, in the future, we'll dedicate ourselves to reinventing the representation of ourselves as gendered.

In practical terms this means that I'm going to appear to be intelligent, and Mikkel will be a total sexbomb. With this we promise to bring you stylish, artsy and high quality photo documentation.

Let the deconstruction begin.

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Apple dream

Sara isn't sure if she likes her new haircut, so surprise surprise, she has decided to bake a cake. She wields the PP21 with deadly precision.

I'm off to work now. I'm working the night shift, and when I get back tomorrow morning the cake will be cold.

I like my cake cold.

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Sunday, October 23, 2005

Harvest rites of Finnmärck


After the stampede, the village maidens commence the traditional gathering of storf droppings (lækager), presenting the most auspicious ones to the Council of Elders for interpretation.

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Saturday, October 22, 2005

Autumn setting in

It's been miserably gray outside today, so I've stayed in...


...and practiced throwing knives and counted the hours until Mikkel comes back.

Seriously, I am on the verge of playing Nick Drake records and drinking herbal tea.

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Spousal removal kit

We here at SHÄDY ÄCRES are proud to congratulate our visitor number 1000...


Lin is a 28 year old capricorn who works in the media and likes to watch chick flicks. She enjoys music with meaningful lyrics and books that begin on a train station. Congratulations, Lin. We adore you. The check is in the mail.

We would also like to present you with this very special spousal removal kit in nine easy-to-clean stainless steel parts:

Personally I swear by PP21, while Mikkel claims he is more the PP33 type.

The runner up has been awarded the honorable title of 2nd best Rævpostei.

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Friday, October 21, 2005

Congratulations, visitor number 1000!

The Finnmärck Board of Tourism grants you the honorary title of Grand Lurker, and awards you with the prize of 8 Reichmärck and 75 schilling, to be collected if and when you identify yourself.

We salute you.

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From all of us to all of you

Ok guys, we're camped out by the computer, armed with coffee in order to stay awake and alert when our visitor no 1000 ticks in. And yes, there's a price to be won, so don't press 'next blog' anytime soon.

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In fencing: A circular parry of the foil

We're getting awfully close to those magic 999 visitors. Are you as excited as I am? I think you are!

Maybe it's the hussar theme we've carried recently. Never underestimate the light cavalry, that's what I say.

Well, I'm off to count some storfs.

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Brown alert


Due to incursions by Russian fishing boats that threaten Finnmärcks territorial integrity, the Finnmärscker armed forces have mobilized and are now in a state of high readiness.

Stay indoors and listen to your radio. This is not a drill.

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Thursday, October 20, 2005

Shoot up or shut up

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The actor/food critic

Would you buy a book from this guy? It doesn't matter, because you're getting it for Christmas anyway.

I met him my first year at the University, in a study group/drug ring hosted by our dear friend the converted catholic, who is now a mother and lawyer provencale. We spent six months discussing philo- sophy and getting drunk, not necessarily in that order.

After our exams the three of us had arranged to meet up at a local watering hole to celebrate. When we got there he was nervously elated. He told us that he hadn't taken the exams, he had decided to become an actor instead.

So he did. He went to acting school in London and returned to play such memorable roles as the guy in Rum and Vodka, and Perschonvern Gynt, the Hamlet of Finnmärck. Then, because he loves to eat, he drifted into food reviews.

What else can I say? He's fashionably melancholic and that's why he knows how to party. He understands things about communication most people don't. He could have been a jazz pianist if it wasn’t for the knife cut that severed the ulna nerve in his right hand, a defensive wound as they say.

Instead, he became author and publisher of Julereker og Rævpöstei - Trädisjonsmät fra Lüleå, which is an fantastic new cookbook. Here's a link to his amazing food pages. Check them out!

Soon he’s moving to São Paolo to get married to a beautiful Brazilian girl. In time, he wants to open a small boarding house with a gourmet restaurant and has admitted that he wants to have children.

What a boring life he leads.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Sound the 23 cannons

A few minutes ago, we received word that Crown Princess Randi has given birth to triplets. The Royal bloodline is secure. Phew!

We at SHÄDY ÄCRES congratulate Crown Prince Vidkun, the King, and the rest of the Royal Family. Oh, and the mother.


Crown Prince Vidkun

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Stop Flöketing proposal 2317/2005

Say no to the Kväppland Canal!

This is an issue of vital importance to us all. We at SHÄDY ÄCRES urge everybody to sign the petition NOW! Do not allow this insane motion to be carried against the will of more than 78% of the Finnmärscker population.

WE DEMAND A REFERENDUM!

Not only does the planned trajectory of the canal go right through the breeding grounds of the mighty storf, it will also disrupt the seasonal migration pattern of the fjörf.

The local Kväppodders are completely dependent on the meat of the storf and the fjörf. Traditional storfekjøtt and fjörfekjøtt dishes, spiced with grillkrydder, make up more than ¾ of the kväppodder diet.

A Katterak/Skagegat canal will arguably bring in yearly revenues of up to 23 Billion Reichmärck, but it will also irreversibly change the flow of the Badminton Stream, with incalculable environmental consequences for us - and generations to come!

Even if we accept the idea of a Katterak/Skagegat canal, why in Kväppland? It could be built easier, faster, cheaper, and with less environmental damage - through the Fnättland Bottleneck. This is just another example of the long-established racist arrogance that permeates Finnmärscker-Kväppodder relations.

The Schtültenboobies administration should know better!

WE DEMAND A REFERENDUM! SIGN THE PETITION TODAY! JOIN THE FIGHT FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT!

The SHÄDY ÄCRES Ad Hoc committee
against proposal 2317/2005

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Monday, October 17, 2005

The sound of one finger tapping

I know I am merely a novice at this, blogging I mean, but I have an aspiration: I want to be the perfect blogger. I want to achieve Satori enlightenment through blogging. Like the master said, attention means attention.

But the permutations are endless. Where to begin?

I read somewhere about how "...The blogger, by virtue of simply writing down whatever is on his mind, will be confronted with his own thoughts and opinions. Blogging every day, he will become a more confident writer... He may begin to experiment with longer forms of writing, to play with haiku, or to begin a creative project..."

Well, then, haiku it is. As I recall, the rules are pretty simple. Three lines with five, seven, five syllables, a reference to the season, and at least one product placement:

weeping temple bells
alone in the thunderstorm
drink coca-cola

Easy peasy.

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Fluffy

My navel fluff situation is out of control. I just pulled out a lump of fluff the size of a small child. Had to use both my hands.

As I read the Pater Noster backwards over it, making the sign of the pentacle with my spit-covered thumb, it began to tremble and move. Then, when I came to the words "...Nevaeh ni tra ohw..." it uttered a horrible, piercing shriek.

"...REHTAF RUO!" I cried, and by the light of the full moon it rose up and ran away over the moor.

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Sunday, October 16, 2005

OOH LA LA

The last couple of years, I have made sporadic attempts at making some kind of career for myself based on my education. It hasn't amounted to a great deal of money or work, but I have managed to convince a number of doctors, nurses, psychologists and physiotherapists that they need me to tell them things about communicating with their patients. I do this two or three times a year to supply my Marxed out credit cards.

Come tuesday, I am flying to Fjörfe on an extremely small airplane of the 12-seat variety that is prone to fall down if the wind blows. I have to confess that I have done fuck-all in terms of preparations, other than buying a spanking new Chinese army winter hat. Somehow, I am hoping it's going to compensate for my lack of rhetorical finesse. This may or may not be a winning strategy. My other trick is to fill my presentation with colourful and interesting photos of little or no academic importance. That usually wins them over.

I am wearing my hat right now. Furthermore, I'm staying up all night to drink coffee and find cheap solutions to difficult problems. I may even go so far as to wear a low-cut shirt that shows off my tattoos, and hope they don't notice the lack of substance in my academic entertainment swindle. Pray for me.

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Saturday, October 15, 2005

Advanced Christian Dating

Yes, I realise I should be preparing for my lecture on Tuesday, but I'd much rather tell you about my recent brush with religion. Strangely, these two incidents take place within a very short time of each other, and both on the number 20 bus.

A couple weeks ago, I am sitting next to a really old lady, feeling a bit sulky, when she engages me in conversation:

-I'm 96, you know.
-Well, you look damned good for a 96-year-old.
-Do you know me?
-No.
-My body is tired. I can feel it today.

I smile, but only get a piercing look in return.
-I have just been to a prayer meeting. You know, we pray for people.
There is a long pause accompanied by a cold stare before she continues:
-And for ISRAEL of course.
She smiles like she has scored some sort of point.
-Aha. Really. AND HOW IS THAT WORKING OUT FOR YOU GUYS?
She ignores me.

This next incident takes place on that same bus, a few days later:

I am wearing my new, toasty retro boots and a woolly jumper because Mikkel, the amateur meteorologist, has stated with absolute certainty that it will be a cold one. That very day the temperature reaches a scorching 23,1 degrees in Lüleå, warmer than the Canary Islands.

I get on the bus steaming, pouring with sweat, and as soon as I find a seat I pull up the arms of my jumper as far as they'll go. I then realise I'm sitting next to an elderly nun, all kitted out in her nun gear.

She squints at my arms and goes:
-Colours... You have painted on yourself.
-Yes I have. Here, let me show you something.
I show her the Jesus tattoo on my left arm, the redeemer looking slightly green in the face, with the caption: TAKE NO PRISONERS.

She laughs.
-It's beautiful. But can you shower with all that paint on your body?
-It's a tattoo. I
t's underneath the skin.
-Oh, but that must have hurt.
-Yes, a bit.

She smiles:
-Well, I guess one has to suffer for beauty.

I ask her where she works, and for the rest of the ride she talks about how depressing life has become at the convent. They're all old women now, and new recruits are not only hard, but impossible to come by.

I diplomatically suggest it has to do with the times we live in. Yes, she agrees, it wasn't like that 50 years ago. She asks me what I do, so I tell her. We wish each other good luck. She gets off the bus.

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