Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Greatest Hits 2014

Best Book
Vägen Till Balberget - Therese Söderlind
Not a very good year for books, though... Mostly rather mediocre reading. 
I'll try to do better next year.

Best TV Show
The Leftovers

Competition was fierce in this category! Louie, Masters of Sex, The Newsroom, The Good Wife, Real Humans, Girls, House of Cards, Sherlock Holmes, True Detective, The Big C.... 

Best Music
Shaka Ponk live at the Zenith de Paris. 

 Best Film
'Her' - Spike Jonze

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Christmas Market, Strasbourg

To round up what this year has turned into a fairly extensive tour of nearby Christmas markets, I spent last week-end roaming Strasbourg's car-free, picturesque city centre, going from market place to market place, guzzling mulled wine and warm orange juice (tastier than it sounds!) to maintain a decent body temperature.

On sale were Christmas trinkets, gingerbread in various shapes, chocolate, sausages and anything else you'd expect from that sort of place.
It was all very pretty and felt genuine despite the hoards of tourists. 
The snowfall and the biting cold may have helped.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Det Lömska Nätet - Helene Tursten

At first, I cringe with embarrassment at the pathetically lousy writing.

Then, I get caught up in the plot, my brain logs out and I spend a couple of hours wrapped up in the action.

After I have finished, I am slightly nauseous as if I'd had way too much chocolate (Come to think of it, that might also actually be the case...). 
My final conclusion is that if I do want to read detective stories in the future, I should at least focus on the good stuff and skip crap like this.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Trollvinter - Tove Jansson

The discrepancy between Jansson's Moomin books and the Japanese film adaptation is very much the same as what sets Laura Ingalls's Wilders 'Little House on the Prairie'-classics apart from Michael Landon's horrendous TV series : The characters and the setting are the same, but the soul is gone.

In this book, Moomin wakes up in the bleak of winter, while the rest of his sensible family is hibernating, dismayed at the snowy landscape and its hitherto unknown inhabitants.
Beautiful illustrations, to boot.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Marriage Plot - Jeffrey Eugenides

Classic 'marriage plot' authors include personal favourites Charlotte Brontë and Jane Austen. It would make sense, therefore, that undeniably talented Eugenides came up with something appealing, especially as I enjoyed both his previous novels, 'The Virgin Suicides' and 'Middlesex'.

Yet, regrettably, Eugenides is little more than a talented bestseller-writer who so far has shown nothing of the genius significant of a Brontë or an Austen. And this 'Marriage Plot' isn't even anywhere near as entertaining as any of Eugenides's above-mentioned opuses.

A bit of a letdown, then, even though I did duly and automatically apply the low (even almost 'no') expectations-principle.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Very Bad Blagues - Palmashow

As per usual with comedians at Canal + and those favoured by my offspring, some of the stuff is absolutely hilarious, while some so intensely dimwitted I don't see how anyone can shamelessly appear on TV uttering it. It's the mix that does it, I suppose.

Monday, December 22, 2014


Much to my surprise, it turns out I prefer Ridley Scott as a television producer (OK, I've only seen 'The Good Wife' but I do dote on that one!) to Ridley Scott as a film-director.

This instructive yet dramatic mini-series about a young golddigger contained pretty images, endearing characters and that little je ne sais quoi that made my ten-year-olds sit through it with me.


Monday, December 15, 2014

The Newsroom, season 3

The third season is said to be the final and was also sadly super-short - only six episodes - which is doubly sad as 'The Newsroom' is still just as engrossing and entertaining, though admittedly perhaps not cutting-edge, as in episode one.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Lucia, Swedish Curch of Paris

The original Lucia was a pre-medieval Sicilian saint, symbolising light.
The Swedish version contains singing young ladies clad in white, carrying candles on what used to be the longest night of the year, December 13th.

We expats being particularly attached to traditions of our homeland, I drag along kids & hubby to the Swedish Church of Paris every year it's not too inconvenient, to listen to a melodious but shamelessly overpriced choir.

This year was pretty much as usual, except that the repertoire consisted mostly of psalms and proselytizing poetry which made us feel a bit like 19th century Africans in need of religious salvation.

438 Dagar - Schibbye & Persson

In 2011, two Swedish freelance journalists (well, one of them a photographer to be precise) travelling into Somalia to investigate the dealings of a Swedish oil company were shot at and eventually imprisoned by Somali government.

This is their first-hand account of the whole event, from their departure from Stockholm, through their capture, their subsequent trial and the fourteen months they spent in the jail from hell. Feelings of exposure, fear, anger and above all frustration described by well-articulated and knowledgeable professionals but also human beings. Great read!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Christmas - Michael Bublé

Cosy! Highly similar to Frank Sinatra's Christmas recordings, which is probably what Bublé was after and quite the compliment, actually!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Le Père Noël Est Une Ordure, Théatre T. Bernard, Paris 8th arrdt

To have billions of people (the play is old and hugely successful) rolling down the aisles laughing at suicide, poverty and depression takes a helluva witty dialogue, of which a whole generation in France knows large chunks by heart. 

Not having grown up in France, however, I am not one of those you could wake up at three a.m. to have me quote the cultissimo lines of the help-centre employees in the play. 
Nor can I with any accuracy compare this new set-up with the original one (1979) or the film (1982). 

What I can tell you, though, is that both me and my seventeen-year-old were in stitches most of the time, especially when the actors lost it and broke out laughing at each other. 
Wildly enjoyable!

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Hunger Games; Catching Fire - F. Lawrence 2013

A recent Swedish study showed Western youngsters today tend to take democracy for granted and consider voting, for instance, as more of a chore than a privilege.
In that light, I guess any opus encouraging them to consider the options to universal suffrage is probably a good idea.

Quite possibly, this might also be a good film. 
It didn't do it for me, but I don't feel at all like its target audience, and my teenager was enthralled, so...

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Christmas Market, Swedish Church in Paris

Certainly less jazzy than the Champs Elysées Market (also strangely a lot less crowded than usual) this is the place we expats buy candy (when there is any left, as was not the case today...), hot dogs, mulled wine, candles, dill-flavoured potato chips and Swedish Christmas decorations.

Colourless Tsukiri Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage - Haruki Murakami

Again, in Murakami : Memories, returning into the past, girlfriends, a man coming of age, that otherworldly atmosphere, certain slightly surreal events, predominant dreams... 
This was not quite 'Norwegian Wood' but definitely some distant, modernized cousin.

Yet, Murakami being himself, this was a pleasure; simultaneously light and elaborate, and very idiosyncratic.


Saturday, December 6, 2014

Black Sails, season 1

This was solid, nuanced, humorous and beautifully lit (some shots could almost be taken for an oil on canvas from the Dutch Golden Age). 
In short, pleasant enough.

It was also, however, rather conventional; and what with all the 'Louie', 'Masters of Sex' and 'Girls' I have been following recently, I have unfortunately come to expect a bit more than "pleasant enough".

I quit after a couple of episodes.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Främlinsleguanen - Martina Montelius

A first-person narrative about a four-year-old abandoned by her parents with an iguana as sole company - No way in hell would I ever have come close to reading this had I not been offered it as a present (thus given no real choice..!).

And it would indeed have been a pity to miss out on this very peculiar novella about loneliness and exposure, written in an elaborate, near-Nabokovian style, altogether incompatible with the interior monologue of a young child.

Strangely, that was part of the book's genius. Looking forward to Montelius's next opus, as this is only her début.