Saturday, June 27, 2009

There is a profound lack of insanity in your country

Our first day at Peace & Love turned out to be a disappointment. We had a problem with the rental car (the trunk was the size of a paperback, even though they had said it was much bigger, and we had four people in the car with festival luggage + beer to pack), which was solved by renting a larger, more expensive car. Believe me when I say angry emails will be written.

I have that from my father, who in turn has it from his father, who, I assume, got it from some angry god in the depths of Dalarna's lush forests. That ability to never relent in the face of promises broken, expectations not met and service not given is something that defines the Larsson family, much to the chagrin of my mother, who comes from a line of quiet and calm people, who express more with a shrug of the shoulders than words. Not saying my mother isn't eloquent, its just that if you go way up north in Sweden, people tend to face adversity the way a rock faces a river. They let it part around them to move on to piss off someone else. Me? I fight the river. Tooth and nail. May be meaningsless, but it has to be done. Tilting at windmills, and all that.

Case in point. My father used Eniro's map service to plot a course from their house in Karlskoga to our place in Stockholm. The direction function started on the wrong street, the one next to theirs. Now, it's not that my father is an idiot and doesn't know how to drive to Stockholm from his home, oh no. It's the principle that Things Should Be Correct. I'm the exact same way.

So what does he do? He emails them. And gets a polite response that, when read between the lines, is saying "we don't have the time to correct this problem because you live in NoWheresVille Sweden". Sooo not the thing to say.

He emails them again. And again. And again. Always the same sort of response. So he tries the competitor's website, Hitta. Lo and behold, their direction service works perfectly. So he takes a screen dump of Hitta's results and emails it to Eniro. Hey presto, problem solved in a matter of days.

So yeah. Angry emails will be written.

Someone else will also be getting an email. Why stop at one when there are other injustices, big and small, that need to be corrected? Or at least pointed out in angry, digital form?

The Peace & Love festival has grown to become the biggest music festival in Sweden this year, with 36 000 or 39 000 tickets sold, depending on who you ask or how you do your math. It seems they have grown too fast.

On Thursday we tried to find the place where you exchange tickets for festival passes. We walked and walked and walked. Got directions from various people, attached to the festival or not. It was chaos. Not a single sign to point us anywhere, or to even indicate the existence of an entrance to the festival grounds. All we found were gates that said "NO ENTRY! ARTISTS ONLY!" in a way that not only said we couldn't go in there, but that no entry would be found anywhere for anyone besides artists.

We finally found the place, and caught the middle part of Monster Magnet's set, which was painful to watch. A review will be up some time soon at Slavestate. Then we went back to the house and enjoyed the fact that we've rented what may well be the best festival accomodations I've ever seen or even heard about, and for a ridiculously low sum of money. Sometimes the gods are good.

Yesterday we watched a man whose level of anger makes mine seem a slightly glowing coal next to a mushroom cloud. Henry Rollins, former singer of Black Flag, later on in The Rollins Band, and now a world class spoken word artist. He entertained us for an hour, and had some very interesting things to say, wrapped in layers of sarcasm and insane stories. He expressed a fascination with Sweden, mostly expressed in the fact that we have "green forests, blue skies and water you can drink and that can sustain life". Not sure I agree with everything he said, such as the headline of this post. Both the rental place and the festival itself has proven that is not the case. However, so far his show has been the highlight of the festival, though we haven't seen much else.

Tonight Faith No More beckons. We're all excited.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Law and justice are not always the same. When they aren't, destroying the law may be the first step toward changing it

Our attorney general (I know, I know, it's the American term, but Minister of Justice sounds too much like something out of a totalitarian vision of the future) Beatrice Ask wants to use manacles with positioning capabilities to keep track of underage criminals. The Swedish criminal justice system is already using similar manacles for adult criminals.

Back when I was in college, I had a period when I was living at home and studying over the Internet at a college in Sundsvall. I had a number of get-togethers there with the class, and being a poor student and since the school was 520 kilometers away, I had to be creative in finding travel solutions. There was a local trucking company that had a route from my home town to Sundsvall, and I could ride along free of charge, if only the drivers approved. And they did. It's a lonely job, driving a big-rig during five hours in the middle of the night.

One of the drivers had been convicted of assault, beating up a guy when he was drunk, and since he had no priors he didn't go to prison. Instead he wore a manacle around his ankle that kept track of his movements. He was allowed to be at work and at home and drive his truck to Sundsvall and back. Nothing else.

To me, this is a superior form of punishment/treatment. The guy had an alcohol problem, which was treated with Antabus, he got counseling to deal with anger management issues that it seemed like he really didn't have, and then the manacle to make sure he didn't get into trouble.

And now Ask wants to put manacles on underage criminals too. Right on, I say. A combination of therapy and keeping them away from whatever friends etc that are a bad influence sounds like the right way to go.

Of course, there are people opposing this idea, and not surprisingly from the other end of the political spectrum. Former Attorney General Thomas Bodström said (paraphrased and translated) “Beatrice Ask must realize that a manacle is an alternative to prison, and we don't put children in prison.”

But that there is the point, isn't it? This isn't putting children in prison. They can still go to school or work or whatever. And yes, I realize that treatment is needed too, as well as attention from child protective services or something similar to sort out conditions in the home, but just going with treatment is too soft, to me. Prison can turn into a downward spiral into further criminal activities. Using a manacle may seem like the middle ground, something you go for when the others seem to extreme, to either side. To me, though, it sounds like a real solution to a real problem.

Or, you know, you can just go with an exploding collar.

Rutger wasn't sure the collar went with the color of his eyes

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The only real difference between medicine and poison is the dose....and intent

I started a new drug on Monday. It's not that the old stuff wasn't working, it just wasn't working well enough. The Headache has reared it's ugly head enough times over the two and a half years it's been around this time, that it seemed like a good idea. My neurologist (grown-up points, right there) pointed me to something that's only recently been deemed effective against neuropathic headaches. See, we're learning new words today, children.

I've slowly increased the dosage of the new stuff, pills that are so small I'm not even sure I've swallowed them until I let my tongue go a-wandering inside my mouth, while decreasing the dosage of Neurontin. So far, so good. No flare-ups yet. I'm only down to five Neurontin pills though, so there's still some way to go. Here's hoping.

Pills aren't really my thing. Up until six years ago, I couldn't even swallow pills, really. I was one of those people that ask their doctor for medicine in liquid form. I've always been like that. When I was seven and had pneumonia my mom ground up the antibiotics in ice cream. I didn't eat vanilla ice cream for a while after that...

Yet another thing Mah Girl has taught me. She's kept the calendar page where she wrote “Martin lost his pill virginity”.

Still, pills aren't really my thing. I hesitate before I even take Ibuprofen for a regular headache. Eating ten pills a day, which I did at one point this week, was excruciating. And not because I have a problem swallowing them anymore, just that I don't like eating pills.

I think it comes down to being a control freak. Having to pop pills meaning suffering from something I can't control. Which annoys the hell out of me. But I like being a control freak. It's sort of comforting. A damp blanket of borderline derangement that I like to wrap around my mind. Mmm, comfy.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Reunited, and it feels so good

Faith No More, live at Brixton Academy four days ago. The big question is what he does to the poor security guard about four minutes in...

The countdown has begun. Less than two weeks left.

Friday, June 12, 2009

For a while I spent my time getting all pissed off at traffic lights

Does this ever happen in Stockholm? Or any major city? I pulled up to a traffic light yesterday, in Sweden's Armpit, my hometown of old. Another car right in front of me. It turns red. We stop. I look right. I look left. Not a car, anywhere. No pedestrians, no bikes, no nothing. The crosswalk lights remain red. Our light remains red. After about a minute it turns green and we move on.

Now, I don't suffer from road rage, really. Like any driver I get pissed at my fellow drivers sometimes, and this could have raised my pulse quite a bit too. However, it felt surreal enough that all I could do was smile about it. For some reason it felt like I was watching from the sidelines, pointing at the suckers just standing there, waiting, for no reason. And I was the sucker.

If you can't spot the sucker in the first half hour at the table, then you ARE the sucker.
- Matt Damon, "Rounders"

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those others that have been tried

They tell me tonight is an important night for Europe. They tell me how we cast our votes decides the future of Europe. This time, there may actually be some truth in that statement. Unfortunately, once again people prove they are morons.

My ambition when casting my vote has always to know where the parties stand on a few key issues, issues that are important to me. There have been times when I have considered myself fairly informed, and other times when I haven't known squat. This time, it was far more important who I didn't vote for than who I voted for.

There are forces at work today in Europe, forces that on many levels are the same as those that cast their shadow across the world in the 1930's and 40's. Right-wing extremism is an issue that makes file sharing look so insignificant it's almost ridiculous. Yes, I agree that there are privacy issues at stake, as well as the perceived freedom of the Internet, but making sure those swastika-toting, bottom-of-the-gene-pool-swimming motherfuckers don't get seats in the EU parliament is far more important.

Sweden seems to have understood that, though the jury is still out. Voters in other countries seem to have left their brains at home, though, when they went a-votin'. Denmark. The Netherlands. Have you learned nothing from history?

Economic difficulties and disenfranchised youth has been the breeding ground for violent fascist groups for a long time, and this time it appears it's no different. I for one despair if the Europe we're a part of will have political extremists and racists influencing our way forward. I can't see how anyone with half a brain would think otherwise.

Of course, I have to say something about them boys with parrots on their shoulders, eye patches and yo ho ho and a bottle of rum, me mateys. They're not my mateys, that's for sure. I agree with them on some issues, but as anyone that has had the time to discuss file sharing with me knows, I think illegal file sharing is a plague that needs to eradicated.

Now I'm watching preliminary results, and the Pirate Party has 7.4 percent. I fully believe that a lot of people voting for them know about the issues they stand for and can argue very well for them, but at the same time I believe a lot of people have voted for them just because they're too cheap to pay for music, movies, books. Thinking those things should be free for everyone and thinking the same amount and quality of said music, movies, books, would still exist, is extremely naïve to me.

Whatever. I've cast my vote and done my part for democracy. If I had some say in the matter, there would have been a lot more info more readily available on where the parties stood on the issues. And oh yeah, politicians wouldn't be two-faced liars either. Not holding my breath for that one.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Garlic bread? Garlic bread? Garlic? Bread? Am I hearin' you right? Garlic bread?

I like cooking. I'm not a ninja in the kitchen, on any level, but I like cooking. I've also done some baking over the years. My grand mother's chocolate cake, the kick-ass bread Mah Girl's mom has taught us, and the occassional muffin.

Yesterday Mah Girl turned 30 - hip hip hurrah! - and I had to bake a cake. Why? She made me one for my thirtieth. With the little bearded smiley I sign with on top, in chocolate Smarties. I was pleasantly surprised, and I've felt the pressure for three and half years.

I didn't really bake one. I made one. From pre-fab cake stuff. With chocolate pudding, vanilla custard and cream. It turned out very nicely. Especially today, with all the ingredients having spent 24 hours slowly melding together. Yummy yummy, I've got love in my tummy. Harry is a happy camper today.

Tonight we will celebrate Mah Girl properly, with a visit to Garlic & Shots with some friends, and then off for drinks at Lilla Hotellbaren. Come by Lilla after eight or nine, if you wanna join!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

If I want a rush I just get out of a chair when I'm not expecting it

We saw the one and only Dylan Moran on Monday. It was...bliss. I laughed for ninety minutes. With a pause so Mr Moran could get some more red wine. And he spoke to me.

Not really to me specifically, but about people like me. I'm not quoting him to the letter now, but it went a little something like this:

There's a certain kind of man, around thirty (this is pronounced “tuurty” in Irish), who wears t-shirts meant for children, t-shirts that say “Zap” or “Pow” across the chest, and pants that you're not really sure if they're pants or shorts. What this kind of clothing says is “I don't ever want to get a real job, and I will be drinking milkshakes for the next fifteen years. Fuck off”. These men spend all their time with their friends, playing video games. These men are single. They will remain single. This is why there are so many women who never find the one. He's busy playing video games, drinking milkshakes. And if he ever has children all he has to teach them is how to get past the snakes on level six.

For the record, the night in question I was wearing a Skynet tee and my favorite baggy, long denim shorts. I like milkshakes. I like video games. I'm never having children. Never ever? Never ever ever. Mah Girl theorized that he saw me before the show and only avoided mentioning the beard to spare my feelings.

I have no problem with people seeing me as childish or as someone not capable of contributing to the continuation of the human race. There's too much crap floating around in the gene pool anyway, so why add my own flaws there?

I'm quite happy with who I am, on that level. Childishness is something to be cherished, cultivated, and used. Childishness is joy, and simple joys at that. I mean, come on, if you can't laugh so hard your jaws hurt and tears run down your cheeks at things (like when we play Lego Star Wars, for example), you're dead inside. And who would want to be that?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Is this love? That I'm feeling?

In a few weeks we'll be going to a couple of kick-ass music festivals. Two weekends in a row, with two separate groups of friends. So tonight we were looking over the expenses for the accommodations, since there's no way in any kind of hell that I'm sleeping in a tent surrounded by thousands of sixteen year olds drunk off their asses. It's not an age thing. Really, it's not. I felt the same way when I was sixteen.

Anyway. So we were looking over expenses, and Mah Girl marveled at how cheap the cottage we're renting for one of the festivals is.

“I mean”, she said, “it's that cheap per person and there's only three of us.” I looked over at her, and said “We're going with Stefan and Nils”.

She frowned and said: “I wonder who I wasn't counting?” Pause. Small smile. “It was probably you”.

Makes the heart all warm and cozy, don't it?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Game over, man! Game over!

So we look at a game trailer, Mah Girl and I, and she says:
"Sure, you can play that game. If we keep all the lights on. And get a flame thrower."

I don't care if this game sucks slimy Alien eggs. I'll buy it anyway. Probably three copies. One for the altar, and one extra in case the one I play breaks.

And I know the clip is too wide for the blog. It deserves that much space, OK?