Saturday, May 27, 2006

Saturday, May 27th, 2006:
A lesson in Swedish architecture

The city of Helsingborg, located on the southwest coast of Sweden, boasts numerous fine examples of many different types of architecture. Architecturally speaking, there's a lot to see here. Yep, if you like looking at buildings, you really should make a point of coming here.

One example of nice buildings is Helsingborg City Hall, which I have featured before.
But it's so cool that I think it's worth another look.
City Hall is the building on the left; the one with the clock tower.
This style of building is called Neo-Gothic. I like Gothic stuff, even if it is Neo. So, in my books, this building is very nice indeed.

The building right next to it (in the foreground) is a bank. It's a really good example of a quazi-square-shaped box. And it's got an ATM, which is handy when you need to take money out.

Here endeth the lesson.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Friday, May 19th, 2006:
Quick Swedish lesson

Further to last night's entry, I just remembered that when I started learning Swedish, I had come up with a phrase that sounded kind of funny (to me anyway).

The Swedish for "Where was our spring?" is actually "Var var vår vår?"

"Where" and "was" are both "var", and
"our" and "spring" are both "vår" (roughly pronounced "vor").

Just had to share.

Here endeth the lesson.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Thursday, May 18th, 2006:
Springless in Helsingborg, Eurovision,
and the price of fish

What I think:

About the weather in Helsingborg this season:

Where was spring in Sweden this year, and just what the hell is going on with the weather in general these days?

Honestly, one day the temperature was coughing and shaking along at just above the freezing mark, and the next it was like Mother Nature had injected the meteorological equivalent of steroids into her viney veins, and blasted the heat up to near-tropical conditions (well, as close as Sweden will ever get anyway). And today it felt like bloody November again; cold & rainy.

Besides the obvious spate of colds & flus that these irratic fluctuations invariably cause, it's the flora and fauna of this great land I feel most sorry for. Especially the poor confused little animals. Many of them were happily snoozing away, even getting to sleep in a bit, when suddenly they wake up and it's like summer. None of this nice slow transition that spring is supposed to be all about.

For them it's like being rudely awoken by a clock-radio playing the worst ABBA song ever, like "{choose the one you love to hate most and insert it here}", realising that they're late for work, and that they might just miss one of the most important meetings of their career.

Forget the nice soft awakening, yawning & stretching, shower, spot of breakfast, skimming news headlines, checking what's on telly tonight. No. It's just a big fat obnoxiously loud "WAKE UP, YOU'RE LATE! GET TO IT" (or "Dancing Queen" if you will - on full blast), the poor buggers.

They have to run out immediately and start getting straight to the springtime shagging-I-mean-mating rituals. Not only are the girls not in the mood yet, but the guys haven't had time to practice their moves in front of the mirror. It's just plain awkward for all involved.

Then suddenly it feels like it's almost winter again, and they think it's approaching bedtime. It's like you've just come home from an unproductive and distinctly unsatisfactory day at work, you're now starting to really wake up, you're contemplating how you can make tomorrow a better day, and you're just about to have dinner - when you look up at the clock and see it's nearly midnight.

Damn! Where'd the time go? Did I accidentally eat some funny mushrooms before bedtime last night?

Let's hope Mother Nature keeps it natural next year, eh?

About the Eurovision Song Contest:

My girlfriend's watching the semi-finals for a laugh tonight, while I'm writing. So far, about halfway through, the biggest "wow" I heard from her was when someone came out the top of the grand piano during the Russian entry.

Whoah - stop press! Just watching the Finnish entry. "Hard Rock Hallelujah" by a bunch of guys in zombie/evil demon costumes, complete with grotesquely elaborate latex masks. I have to admit that I find this one fascinating. My girlfriend read somewhere that they've been walking round in these get-ups, in the heat of Athens, giving interviews. Apparently they smell not unlike moose bottoms.

The Lithuan group is singing "We are the winners of for the winners...". Sung to the turn of the kids' song "Na-na-nana-na". With a Van Halen's "Jump"-style synth thing happening, for good measure. Only slightly presumptious.

What? The Estonian girl is apparently a Swede. What's that all about? Why's that allowed? Boring typical Eurovision entry anyway. She'll probably win.

The Icelandic girl has a Vegas-style massive feather headdress on her head, with a tarty outfit to match. "Congratulations, I have arrived...Eurovision nation, your dream has come true, vote for your hero..." she sings in a Moon Zappa "Valley Girl" kind of way. Fetching. The sick bag (US/CAN: barf bag).

But I'm looking forward to watching the finals on Saturday night on BBC Prime. Yes, I'm going to watch it from the British perspective, with all the biting sarcasm that this institution deserves. Mr Terry Wogan [presenter]: do us proud, as only you know how.

Looks like Sweden's in with a chance. Yippee, yahoo, etc. *Yawn*

About the price of fish in Helsingborg:

Helsingborg is a vibrant little seaside city on the southwestern coast of Sweden. Well, actually it's by the "sound" (the Öresund); a sort of narrow strait that separates Sweden from Denmark (thank God).

The point is that there is an abundance of different kinds of good edible fish here, and lots of people who fish, but there are very few fish shops. And fish is quite expensive no matter where you go to buy it.

This sucks. There's obviously something fishy going on here, and it's time that the Swedish government did something about it. And the weather. And Euro-bloody-vision (like get someone like Terry Wogan, at least). That's what I think.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Thursday, May 11th, 2006:
Hotdog poster advertising in Helsingborg

What I think:

I was walking down Södergatan with my girlfriend the other day, and we noticed a poster advertising hotdogs outside a fastfood place.

For some reason, hotdogs that are shoved in one end of a bun are called "French". I suppose it could be because the bread used is more like a baguette in its texture than a regular hotdog bun.

In any case, the poster in question advertised a choice of three varieties of "French man". This is apparently what the first hotdog is saying, according to the helpful, but pointless, speech bubble.

But what first strikes you is not what the choices are, but the images of the hotdogs themselves. They don't exactly inspire my appetite. In fact, never before in my life have I associated fastfood with gay porn. Check this out:

Psychiatrist: 'Tell me what you see.'
Have I got a dirty mind? If so, my girlfriend has as well.
I have a theory. The company that manufactures these particular hotdogs, Pølsemannen, is Danish. I think that these posters are specifically made for the Swedish market as some little Danish joke against the Swedes.

Have a look at the text at the bottom of the poster:

"ingen vanlig korvgubbe" is Swedish for (roughly) "not your usual sausage guy". Yeah, I'll say.

I just wonder how many Swedes actually take notice. Which then makes me wonder whether vendors sell more or less hotdogs than if they'd just had "hotdogs" listed as one of the items on their menus. In other words, are people subconciously repelled by or attracted to the idea of munching on semi-flaccid hotdogs in foreskin-like buns?

Personally, I think it's disgraceful that posters like this are on public display on busy streets, where children can not only see them, but may even ask their parents if they can have one. It's time that the Swedish government did something about it. That's what I think.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Saturday, May 6th, 2006:
What's it for, Helsingborg?

What I think:

Last year, Lund University in Helsingborg, which happens to share a building with my workplace, put an installation in the courtyard. Actually, I'm blaming them because I can't believe that the company I work for would do this. But I'm not sure of who the culprit is, to be honest. Just look at what I see when I come out of work:

Nice, isn't it? But what is its purpose?

I've got a colleague who visits from England on a weekly basis (hi, Barry), and he remarked that the Swedes don't do things by halves. In the UK, they would have just put a few stumps down to hold it up for a few months (to a year), then fixed it when it fell over. Not the Swedes - oh no.
This is deep concrete. This is good quality glass (probably missile-proof). This is solid. In short, this is a "permanent" structure.
So the question must be asked: What is it? And why is it? Why was this thing built?
Hopefully not for smokers. Smokers don't go there; smoking is banned indoors, but there are smoking rooms in some of the offices, and enough shelter for others already. I know; I'm a smoker.
It also can't be a shelter from the rain. Again, there's already shelter, thanks.
What I would really appreciate from you, dear readers, is some input as to what this can be used for. Hopefully, the Swedish government will take on one of your ideas. Because any practical use for this thing is beyond me.
Thank you for your help, and I'll keep you posted.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2006:
Happy belated birthday to the King of Sweden

It was King Carl Gustaf's 60th birthday on Sunday, April 30th.

He's nowhere near as well-known as the British Royal Family, and he looks a lot like a puppet off Thunderbirds, but he's my adopted king, and he looks great on egg cups.
I hope that the Swedish government "shelled" out some more of my tax money and got him appropriately "smashed".