Tuesday, January 31, 2006


It's a very odd experience waking up to someone trying to stick his paw up your nose.

Stockholm Style Tips Part III

Image hosting by PhotobucketTo quote Colin Moon, author of Sweden: The Secret Files, it is rather ironic that Swedes use the word "oväder," which literally translated means "unweather," to describe bad weather, when there is, in fact, quite a lot of weather in Sweden.

And to quote an American friend of mine who has lived in Sweden for several years, "there is no bad weather, only bad clothing."

This is true, in most cases. There is a fashionable (or at least reasonable) solution in the falling instances:

Warm + wet = Wellingtons

Cold + dry = långkalsonger

Now, can somebody please tell me the fashionable way out of the following scenario:

Cold + wet = Curiosa flat on her ass

Worth Checking Out

Blog tips: Iceland Eyes, written by an American Icelander living in Reykjavik. She takes some stunning pictures.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Jävla en och ett

I dag kollade jag hemsidor för några översättningsbyråer här i Stockholm, bara för att få några idéer om vad som redan finns i marknaden (om man skulle vilja starta ett eget företag, t ex). Så läste jag "Vill du ha en offert?" och då blev jätte förvirrad.

Jag läste, "Do you want to have a victim?"

"Now that's a very strange thing to have on your website," tänkte jag.

Då slog det mig att ordet "offert" var en svenskifierad version av det engelska ordet "offer," såsom "erbjudande."

Så "ett offer" är "a victim" medan "offret" är "the victim" och "offren" är "the victims." Samtidigt är "en offert" "an offer"på engelska, medan "offerten" är "the offer"och "offerter" betyder "the offers."

Och nu tittar jag på ordet "offer" på engelska och undrar om det verkligen stävas så.

Har ni huvudvärk än?

EDITED TO ADD: I stand corrected by Mia that the original root of "offer" in both Swedish and English comes from Latin, and "offret" is probably a swedified version of the French "offerte" or the Italian "offerta." Still, with the stupidchallenging "bestämt" and "obestämt" forms of Swedish nouns, it's no wonder I'm confused.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Mark your calendars

I guess it's that time of year again. I should have noted the date last year.

I should introduce you to the Guy from the Office who Hath Not a Clue About Anything Involving Interaction with Other Human Beings. Today was the annual celebration of Guy from the Office who Hath Not a Clue About Anything Involving Interaction with Other Human Beings Asks Curiosa On a Some Kind of Strange Date By Email.

The same thing happened around this same time last year, and around the same time the year before that.

This time he offered to "show you my newly acquired apartment" OR "to go to the movies next week." I must say, although I am a girl who likes to have a choice, neither option is particularily attractive. Rather, the opposite.


I am NOT being mean. Some people just don't get it. At all.

Today we had a seminar. We have a seminar once a week. Every week, we get to hear about how he would do the study if he were actually doing the study under discussion even though it's not HIS study to do. When his mouth opens, everyone, including the professors, hits their mental mute button and starts humming "It's a Small World" to themselves. Believe me, it's a more productive way to spend your time.

This is the THIRD apartment he has invited me to see. This is the THIRD time I have ignored his invitation. Ever heard of three strikes, you're out?

I know, you can't blame a guy for trying. Once.

Twice is overkill.

Thrice is asking to be beaten to death with a fermented herring.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The Battle for the Planet Aquarius

I can't say that I've ever been a big fan of computer games, except perhaps during a brief love affair with Tetris, but today, I'm quite fond of them. One of the cursesblessings of being a native English speaker is that I occasionally am asked by my friends and colleagues to edit things for them. This is not-so-fun when it involves a 50-page masters thesis on "public procurement practices in the Swedish defense industry" written in what only can be classified as "very bad swenglish." However, today I worked on something that will be the text for a video game for mobile phones, to be released shortly in UK. A friend, who along with four other guys, has started his own industrial design firm here in Stockholm is doing the graphics for it, so I'm helping him out with some copy editing. He hadn't told me much about the project (in fact, he told me NOTHING), so when I opened the file and read the first few lines, which included phrases such as "Convoy detected. Attack the fleet and destroy all enemy ships in the area," I was a bit confused. But, as I read on, the storyline became clearer and I finally figured out what it was for. It just goes to show the benefit of having any text double-checked so you don't publish things such as "two flies with one stone" instead of "two birds with one stone," at the same time that "rouge troops" should become "rogue troops." (I had to point out the them that the Red Army was something else altogether and was perhaps not what they had actually intended to include in their military ranks.)

I have to admit that now I have started to get into it a bit. I think I'm rooting for the Nordens to beat those pesky little Mangas, and am curious as to whether or not the Tankers will succumb to the nasty computer virus planted in their network.

My favorite line: "Hey! Don’t hurt the fish!"

I'm not entirely sure what that means, but I like it anyway.

Hello?!? Part II

This morning I called a colleague at work.

She answered, "Hej, det är Emma!"


I said, "Ursäkta?"

She repeated, ""HEDEAREMMMMMM!"

I said, "Huh?"

She repeated, ""HEDEAREMMMMMM!"

Switching languages, I said, "Ummmm, who am I talking to?" even though I was pretty sure I had called Emma.




"Good! Just the person I was trying to get in touch with."

That was ten seconds of my life I'll never get back. We were supposed to discuss some articles she is using for a book chapter she is writing, and I'm pretty sure she thought she was talking to an individual who was unable to put together a coherent sentence, let alone offer any useful advice on academic writing. But the whole situation could have been avoided if she had just answered, "Hello?"

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


Image hosting by PhotobucketAfter my triple dose of cooing and diapers this afternoon, I'm feeling a bit ranty. Here's something I've always wondered. When I answer my mobile phone, I usually say "Hello?" and then wait for the person on the other end of the line to identify themselves. This is the standard telephone greeting in the States. This seems to confuse some people here in Sweden. I've tried answering the phone by saying my name, but it just feels wrong.

I find many things in Sweden to be rational, so why is it the case in Sweden that the person answering the phone says his or her name? I would think it would be the other way around. Presumably, especially if you are calling a mobile number, you already know who you're calling, and it should be your job as the caller to introduce yourself. (Most mobile numbers seem to be personal phones anyway, i.e. used by a single individual, except of course in the case fo snoopy signficant others who are curious why your phone is ring repeatedly at 3 am.) As the callee, it cannot be assumed that I know who is making my phone ring. When I say "hello," that greeting is followed by a question mark, as well as an implicit "With whom am I speaking?". I want to know who is on the other end of the line before I give them my name.

Gotta go. It seems I have a phone call.


Is this a university or a pre-school?

Image hosting by PhotobucketToday I started the course to get my certification to teach high school in Sweden. It's geared towards people who have already finished their studies in their respective subjects, so the average student in the program is 30+, and most people seem to have some kind of professional experience. However, if we took into account the age of the four "visitors" today, the average age would be lowered significantly. There was a six year old daughter of one of the women in the class who sat patiently drawing while her mother listened to the lecture. This was not a problem. She was a well-behaved little girl who was old enough to know when it was time to sit quietly. However, there were also three, I repeat three, not one, not two, but THREE babies under the age of one who also "participated" in the lecture. They were the most talkative members of the audience. One of them (and of course, it had to be the one sitting directly behind me) fussed throughout the entire lecture, and the class was continually interrupted as one mother or another got up to cradle her infant. My favorite part was really the slurping noises coming from behind as the mother in the last row started nursing her child during the class.

I'm sorry, I know that Sweden is a very child-friendly country, set up in such a way that women are able to combine motherhood and working life, and that's one of the things that I appreciate about living here, but THERE IS A TIME AND A PLACE, and a lecture hall filled with 100 other students is NOT such a time and place. Ever heard of a babysitter?? Either Swedish universities need to set up some kind of childcare facilities on-campus, or leave the kid at home with dad or grandma. Or pay your 16 year-old neighbor 50 SEK an hour to watch the midget.

Maybe I would have a different attitude if I had kids of my own, but it just rubbed me the wrong way. It's obvious that my biological clock hasn't started ticking yet. I really don't mean to be insensitive, but if it's okay to bring your noisy baby to class, maybe next time I'll bring my cat. If the person next to me is allergic to cats?? Too bad! Maybe I'm allergic to babies!!

Early bird gets the worm

Image hosting by PhotobucketIt's probably just as well as I don't have any money for such things right now, but I'm a little upset that this Swatch watch is a limited edition from the summer collection 2004 and there are only 5000 up for sale. Who wouldn't want a watch that had the little mermaid, Rudolf, and Thor on it? (Not to mention what I am assuming is an illustrated attempt to allude to the hope that the Swedish Bikini Team exists after all.) All it's missing is a dancing polar bear or two.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Ett ord

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Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Swedish letters

Type "å, ä, ö" into Google and you'll come across Kommissarie Curiosa.

Smilin' Scandinavians

Seattle's No. 1 Polka Band call themselves the The Smilin' Scandinavians. They produce under their Lutefisk Records Label. According to their site:

The name 'Smilin' Scandinavians' was inspired by both The Happy Norwegian Myron Floren (of Lawrence Welk Show fame) and pioneer polka performers The Six Fat Dutchmen. Many people find the notion of smiling Scandinavians odd since Scandinavians have a well-deserved reputation of dour stoicism. The band does all it can to show just how much fun Scandinavians are capable of.
Since when were the Six Fat Dutchmen Scandinavian?

This is a good example of what I call the Where-are-you-from-syndrome. It's an ailment that is common in countries with large (historic) immigrant populations. A sure sign of this illness is if you're a Swede in the US and you meet Americans who proclaim, "Wow, you're Swedish, so am I!" Be sure, in Seattle you'll find Americans who are more Swedish than the Swedes themselves. And lutefisk to boot.

American Dating and Mating

Someone requested an American equivalent to Swedish Mating and Dating. However, I believe that request would best be filled by someone who has the foreigner's perspective on the American dating experience. Any volunteers for a guest entry?

But, I'll throw out the following out for discussion's sake. Although I probably don't need to mention this to my more discerning readers, please note the obvious tone of cheekiness.

American guy says: Can I buy you a drink?

American guy means: How many cocktails is it gonna take before you'll go home with me?

American girl hears: Can I buy you a drink? Great, free alcohol.

Swedish girl hears: Now you have to sit here and talk to me for the rest of the night. And by the way, are you a member of the Swedish Bikini Team?

Swedish guy says: silence¤¤

¤¤ either because a) the drinks are so expensive he can't even afford to buy one for himself, and hence why he came to the bar already plastered from the pre-party; or because b) we live in an age of equality, damn it, and he doesn't see why she shouldn't be the one buying him a drink.

Starring Sir Ullrick the Wonder Cat

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I can see you, can you see me??

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Not staged at all. Really. I promise.

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For more images of Sir Ullrick the Wonder Cat, check out his blog at http://ullrick.blogspot.com.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Favorit Stockholm ställe

Har ni några favorit Stockholmställe som man kanske inte vet om? Typ hemliga cafer, barer? I så fall, berätta för mig! Jag kommer att samla en lista på bloggen.

EDITED TO ADD: Och jätte gärna restauranger! Och saker som man kan göra grattis, kanske.

God no, a ski slope!

Scandinavian Neighbors in Exile

Blog tip: 10 Things I Don't Miss About Norway, written by Jon Lech Johansen, a Norwegian in exile in California.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Guest Entry: Adventures in a Swedish Apartment Block

Image hosted by Photobucket.comI think it will be best that …” (muttered in nervous ‘swenglish’) could possibly be classified as Herr Fin’s catch phrase. My Swedish housemate (or rather the Owner of the Apartment in Which I Rent A Room) is a man of few words (and an extremely subtle presence to match). This utterance is generally the first indication I have that he has entered the room.

Normally the phrase signifies dissatisfaction regarding a domestic issue, as in: “I think it will be best that you turn the, er, thing up to, er, three when you are using the thing so that there will be no smell.” (I think that he was referring to the fan over the stove). That was until last Saturday’s variation: “I think it will be best that you do not come to collect the keys from me. I think it will be best that I come and let you in. But I am very busy. I can not do that now. I can not do that until at least about five.”

In regards to this particular event, it was an indication of a far deeper dissatisfaction that I had managed to lock myself out of his apartment, seemingly regardless of the fact that technically it was him who had locked me out of his apartment, by leaving and locking up while I was in the laundry room, diligently doing my bit for Swedish Society by moving marker 17 into column 18, row 19.00-22.00.

In retrospect, maybe I should have taken my door keys to cover all eventualities, but the laundry room is only down a small flight of stairs from the apartment, and I told Herr Fin where I was going, asked him for the laundry key, and left him sitting at the computer and the front door unlocked. This was 11.00 am.

Attempting to re-enter the apartment a mere three minutes later, I discovered the front door to be locked and the hallway (through the keyhole) to be dark and silent. Herr Fin can be fairly elusive at the best of times, so the first thing to cross my mind was that he might be crouching in a corner quietly.

After sixty seconds of doorbell ringing, an uneasy panic began to set in. The paranoid Londoner in me began to wonder whether Herr Fin had died suddenly as result of a carefully-concealed drug habit and was now possibly being eaten by the cat, or whether he was carefully practising the signature on my credit cards while flogging my laptop and Vivienne Westwood pirate boots on E-bay.

Then I shook myself and remembered that I was in Sweden.

This meant that there were 3 realistic possibilities:

a) Herr Fin was out buying herring
b) Herr Fin was out playing bandy
c) Herr Fin was out working at his office

I concluded that none of these activities were likely to take all day, so to fill the time (and keep warm) I ran around Norrmalm for 45 minutes. I arrived back at noon to find that the situation remained exactly the same.

Helpless (and now rather sweaty and unpleasant) I sat in the corridor for 3 and a quarter hours. It was freezing cold and I huddled against the solitary radiator, twisting and contorting in order to try to attach as much of my surface area to it as possible. I asked passers by if they knew Herr Fin, or if anyone might have his number or even a spare key. No one had ever seen Herr Fin before, which didn’t surprise me very much. Both of my immediate neighbours, whose doors I knocked on, turned out not to be entirely with-it, and both sung and shouted at me in Swedish for a length of time before retreating back behind closed doors (Editor's note I: It seems that some people believe the louder you shout in a foreign language, the more likely it is that there will be a miraculous repeat of theTower of Babel and the person you are yelling out will suddenly understand everything you are saying).

By 15.15, I had been adopted by an elderly alcoholic couple from the third floor. In situations like these, being blonde with large blue puppy eyes and the distinct appearance of a cute 5-year-old can prove to be advantageous. I politely refused offers of beer and wine but opted instead for a cheese sandwich and a cup of tea.

It was 15.30 by the time I finally managed to contact Herr Fin (an eccentric mathematician on the second floor lent me his internet connection and I retrieved the mobile number from my email inbox). Herr Fin seemed distressed at my suggestion that I walk to his office and collect his keys, and insisted that this was not possible and that I would simply have to wait until it was time for him to come home. So it was 17.40 before I was allowed back into the apartment. The explanation (when probed) for his unexpected departure that morning? He was worried he wouldn’t be on time. In other words, late. To get to the office on a Saturday.

Lesson learned? Never do anything so foolish that it threatens to interrupt a Swede’s timetable, as consequences could be potentially catastrophic for all concerned.

Editor's note II: I think it will be best that Miz ColdFeet never leaves the apartment without her keys again.

--Miz ColdFeet¤¤

¤¤Aforementioned pseudonym chosen not because said guest author is having second thoughts regarding any particular aspect of her life (except perhaps her decision to leave her apartment without keys), but simply due to the fact that her lower extremities have been quite popsicle-like ever since her arrival in Stockholm.

Dating in the Blogosphere

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I ran across an interesting article by Pete Blackshaw on Ten Simple Rules for Dating a Blogger. It seemed apropos, given certain conversations I've had in my own life lately, and I'll bet that many of the significant others of my fellow blogoholics will recognize themselves in this description.

On a similar note, check out "Dating a Blogger, Reading All About It", by Warren St. John, published in the New York Times in May 2003.

An excerpt:

The proliferation of personal bloggers has led to a new social anxiety: the fear of getting blogged.

'It's personal etiquette meets journalistic rules,' Mr. Denton, the blog publisher, said. 'If you have a friend who's a blogger you have to say, `This is not for blogging.' It's the blogging equivalent of `This is off the record.'

Jonathan Van Gieson, a 29-year-old theatrical producer from Brooklyn who sometimes writes about friends on his site, http://www.jonathanvangieson.com/, said he gave his friends pseudonyms 'to toe the line between simple harmless betrayal of trust and nasty actionable libel.' Before starting his blog, Mr. Van Gieson said he drew a comic strip based on his friends for his college newspaper, and in describing their predicament he summed up the current lot of many in the age of blogging.

'My close friends are used to having their lives plundered,' he said.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Mother Knows Best

Anytime I need advice on how to stuff a turkey, or the best food to feed Kitty, I call my mom. Although I wouldn't have admitted this while I was a teenager, it turns out mom knows a lot more than I do about a lot of things.

"Hi, what are you doing?" as if I wasn't calling with an ulterior motive.

"I'm having dinner at the Outback with your uncle."

"UNCLE BILL!" I screamed into her ear.

Uncle Bill is my dad's brother, and one of my favorite people in the whole world. The Outback is a steakhouse with an Australian gimmick, and everytime he comes through town, we have dinner there. We have the same sense of humor, and our conversations often border on the absurd. He does a fantastic impression of the Swedish chef.

Turns out, I had a brief fling with the former manager of the Outback last January, during an extended stay back home. I asked about their waiter.

"He's a young kid, very good-looking."

Then I overheard my uncle add "and very glib!"

Well, there can't be too many good-looking, glib waiters who work at that particular Outback, so I told them to look at the bill to find his name. Sure enough, it was the Chicken Shit himself.

(I should mention, Chicken Shit earned his moniker by breaking up with me by text message, very much like Berger broke up with Carrie on a Post-It note in an episode of Sex and the City, in the hope of "avoiding a scene." Please note, that text messages can be forwarded en masse, very much like an email, to all of her girlfriends, as well as her friends' friends, and this is probably not the kind of reputation you want to earn in a small town with very slim pickins when it comes to eligible bachlorettes that a good-looking, and glib, waiter would actually want to date.)

This is the type of situation that is an perfect example of what I call poetic justice.

"Does Uncle Bill know the story?" I asked mom. Mom and I are close, so she had been privy to the sordid details of the surmise of our brief relationship.

"No, but why don't you tell him," she said, handing Uncle Bill the phone.

"How's my favorite uncle? So, how was the service tonight?"

"Well, just fine, but I've been giving him a hard time."

"Do you want to give him a really hard time? I dated him last year, you know."

Silence. Then a timid, "Hello?"

OH SHIT. They put him on the phone. OK, I figured, it's best to just go along with it, and then kill my family later.

"Do you know who this is?"

"Uhhhhhh, no."

"It's the Swedish girl."

"Uhhhhhh, ummmmm, hi. How...um....are you?"

"I'm good. I'm in Sweden right now. Guess you just waited on my mom and my uncle, and I called at just the right time."

"Oh, your mom...." His voice trailed off. He had never met her while we were seeing each other, even though she had waved to him several times from the front door when he came by to pick me up.

Now, unfortunately, I didn't have the pleasure of seeing the expression on his face, but I got enough of a buzz off the account my mother gave me later. But his "eyes got really wide," all the while my mother was sitting there, grinning like an idiot. (This is one of those situations where he knew that he had handled the situation very badly, so there was nothing left to do but be embarassed when reminded of his actions.)

"Ummm, I think your uncle wants to talk to you again. Ummm, bye."

Mom is laughing hysterically in the background. "Uncle Bill, I can't believe you put him on the phone," I admonished. "This whole situation is just bizarre."

"What? I can't hear you."

That man is always pretending to be hard of hearing. To the others (being my mom and Chicken Shit), he announced, "I think she said, 'I'm taking off my braissere.'"

At which point, Mom's laughter becomes uncontrollable.

"I think we'd better end this call now," I said. "It's getting out of hand."

Tsk. Tsk.

Thank God!!! there is a whole ocean seperating me from this family fiasco. I swear to God, I'll never, ever do things like that to embarrass my children.

But at least the Chicken Shit was scared shitless, during a brief moment of sweet, poetic justice.

Saturday, January 14, 2006


When I first moved to Sweden, I was quite confused with the words for "queue" and "gender." The are pronounced differently, but can easily be mistaken for each other in written form. Kö, which means queue (as in "line"), becomes kön when it is in definite form, that is to say, when one wants to say "the queue."

During my first week in Sweden, after coming back from the restroom disgruntled at having to wait so long, I grumbled, "Det finns en länge kön i toaletten."

My Swedish friend replied, snickering, "Which bathroom were you in?"

Friday, January 13, 2006

Cat blogger

Yes, I know. I stand guilty as charged. I admit it. I have cats on the brain. But come on, it's only his first week at home. And despite the fact that Ullrick has his own blog where we can write as much about cats as we want, David Letterman's Top Ten Signs Your Kitty Is A Genius is funny. I had to share. It's especially appropo as Ullrick is multi-lingual AND he's done a better job than me at putting the IKEA coffee table together.

Carnivores R US

Image hosted by Photobucket.comIntroducing Funky Fresh Bacon scented airfresheners for your car!! Now you can sniff the delicious aroma of breakfast all day long!!

Coming soon: Sizzlin' Sounds for your CD player. Featuring the melodious sizzle of bacon and eggs accompianed by soft instrumentals. Together, Funky Fresh and Sizzlin' Sounds provide the complete sensory experience of the most important meal of the day, without all the calories!

Note: Described as a "gag gift." Gag is right.

Perhaps a Swedish entrepreneur could make a fortune by marketing an air freshener that smells like surströmming.


Vet nån hur man köper ett domain nämn?

Det finns redan en www.curiosa.se men inte www.curiosa.com. Fast det verkar kostar typ $3900. Hur då? Det går självklart inte.

Annars är curiosa.org en annan möjlighet.

Jag känner mig plötsligt dator-illiterat.

The Short List

1) Sir Ullrick of Bumble Bee The III 1/2
2) Odin
3) Just Ullrick
4) Loki
5) Putty Tat

We're both leaning towards Number 1.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The Wet Cat

Image hosted by Photobucket.comVi har precis badat. Egenligen skulle det har varit bara Ullrick som badade, men till slut blev det oss både två. Det var inget lysande resultat men hoppas det går bättre nästa gång. I morn ska vi pröva koppelen.

Picture source: http://www.marinaomi.com/

Guest Entry: Tails from the Tub

Image hosted by Photobucket.com Google is a big fat lair. Google says Norwegian Forest Cats are waterproof. Wrong wrong wrong. Operation-Bathe-Me this afternoon proved otherwise.

I have to share some images of my fellow felines who met the same fate since Curiosa's camera is DEFINTELY not waterproof.

She came home from the pet store with a big bag of what I thought were treats. There were treats, but it was really a great big gigantic farce to lull me into trusting her. She also had kitty shampoo. Dum dum dum.

First she tried the kitchen sink. Yeah, right. At first I thought she was just doing the dishes, but then again, she never does the dishes. She hates doing the dishes more than she hates cleaning out my litter box.

I didn't really believe it was happening. Surely, Curiosa wasn't really trying to put me into the sink with water in it. It had to be some kind of a misunderstanding.

I had enough of that after just getting my tootsies wet. I was outta there like a bolt of lightning. A sopping wet bolt of lightening.
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I clung to Curiosa because she couldn't really have meant to put me in the water-filled sink. It must have been some kind of mistake. Surely she wouldn't try it again.

She wrapped me in a towel and carried me to the bathroom. Oh good, I thought, now it's over, and we can just put this whole bathing incident behind us. Wrong again.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

This time, we BOTH took a bath. Or rather, a shower. And so did the rest of the bathoom.

She got me, she did, but I made good and sure that Curiosa was as wet as I was.

Then, of all things, the silly girl thought she was going to blowdry me. I was having none of that! Now I'm hiding under the couch, glowering, and blogging. I pray to St. Gertrude, this never happens EVER again.


Welcome home!

Well, now I have a man to share my bed with. Or sort of a man. Never mind that he's furry and has four legs. He can cuddle just as well as Tonto. Ullrick came home tonight, and we're getting to know each other. He's been exploring all of the moving boxes that are still currently adorning the living room. He smells that Kitty has been there, and he seems to be waiting for her to jump out from behind the couch, even though I keep assuring him Casa Curiosa is his domain.

Now there's the little problem of what to name him...


Tuesday, January 10, 2006


I was just struck by the urge to hit "delete blog." Don't worry, I won't. Or if I do, I'll let you know where I'm going.

Monday, January 09, 2006


Type in "the asian playboy blog" and somehow you will find me.

Stomotol's Next Top Model

Image hosted by Photobucket.comIt's not just the Stomotol sign illuminating Södermalm's skyline that promises pearly whites these days. Pop a stick of gum and your smile will light up the heavens.

Overheard at the ICA checkout:

Tjej: (peckar på ett paket tuggummi) "Mamma!! Kan jag få den?"

Mamma: Nej, men kom nu.

Tjej: Men man får vita tänder!

Mamma: (suger)Kom nu.

Tjej: De ljuger ju inte! En gång hade vi det och sen kollade jag i speglen! Det är sant!

Mamma: (nedslagen) Okej då.

Final Score: Mamma 0, Media 1

Swedish Word of the Day

While I am still in the process of learning my own difficult lessons in Swedish, Francis Strand has had the wonderful idea of posting a "Swedish word of the day" at the end of each entry on his blog, How to Learn Swedish in 1000 Difficult Lessons. I thought of his blog this weekend as I began unpacking some boxes we pulled out of storage during the move to the new apartment. I came across a list of words we had tacked up onto the kitchen cupboard during my first few months in Stockholm in Fall 2002, when I had the pleasure of living in a student collective in Gamla Stan (at the time, knowing nothing of the Stockholm housing market, I didn't realize how lucky I actually was). What was quite fun about finding this list is not just to see how far my Swedish has come since then, but also reminiscing about the things that prompted the addition of a new vocabulary word.

The list is, for the most part, in two columns, one for English and one for Svenska, although for awhile it was expanded to three columns due to the enthusiasm of the Finnish exchange student who lived next door. Thanks to him, the Finnish words for afterparty, toothbrush, and hat are forever burned into my memory (jatkot, hammasharja, and pipo, respectively).

The very first word on the list is lördagsgodis, roughly translated as "Saturday candy." It reminds me of Dr. Style, who was forever running down to 7/11 to restock her supply of goodies, and NOT just on Saturdays, mind you. I remember thinking that Sweden must be a cruel place to be a child, when Dr. Style tried to explain the concept of lördagsgodis, if you are only allowed candy one day of the week.

Then there are several practical additions to the list, including portkod (door code) and osthyvel (cheese slicer), which are of course indispensible for day-to-day life in Sweden. (God forbid you should use a KNIFE to cut your cheese!!)

Then there was the chicken soup incident, which prompted the words klumpig and pinsam to be scribbled on the ever-growing list. The chicken soup was not klumpig, I was klumpig due to the fact that I spilled a pot of boiling broth all over myself and the kitchen. Needless to say, the entire event was rather pinsamt.

And then came November and with it new word benvärmare as well as SKITVADER! (appropriately scrawled in all capital letters followed by an exclamation point). Brandsläckare (fire extinguisher) and sur (grumpy) also made the list, the former possibly referring to an incident with a candle and a table cloth, the latter likely describing my mood before 11 am.

And you can't forget about romance. Thanks to that list, I also learned the words hjärta and hjärna (presumably my heart and my head were saying two different things) as well as mysa and gosa (to cuddle). I think I had already learned the more x-rated versions of words of a similar genre BEFORE arriving in Sweden, thanks to a very talented teaching assistent in my Swedish class.

Let's not forget the wonderful challenges of pronunciation of Swedish vowels! You try and make bi (bee) and by (village) sound like two different words with an American accent and see how well you do!

Mmmm, that was a fun trip down memory lane. Now I should say god natt and go and lägga mig.

Swedish word of the day: gäspa. That means to yawn.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Curiosa, Wild Child, and Miz ColdFeet strike again

Image hosted by Photobucket.comIt wouldn't be a good story if it didn't have a little drama, deception, and intrigue, not to mention some cross-dressing. Besides, it's all in the name of under-the-covers research. And yes, Girls Are Evil.

I must introduce a new femme fatale to the cast and crew of Kommissarie Curiosa. Miz ColdFeet, a 20-something fashion design student from London, is blessing the capital of Scandinavia with her lovely presence for the next three months while doing a placement with a Swedish fashion designer. After reading this blog, I think she's a little terrified that all the Swedish men she meets will all be terrified of her.

Wild Child escaped Norrland and spent a few days camping out at Casa Curiosa. Turns out, Wild Child still "has it." In fact, she still has more of it than I've ever had.

We had a girlz' night out, showing Miz ColdFeet the southside of Stockholm. We spent the first part of the evening sipping our pear ciders and trying to explain how "mating and dating" works in Sweden. But Miz ColdFeet has one advantage over her Swedish sisters in that she can play up the exotic factor.

So for the evening, Wild Child was from California (she's got a perfect American accent when she wants to), I was only temporarily in Sweden, and Miz X starred as herself. Miz ColdFeet was the only one of the three of us who didn't have to employ some kind of deviousness in order to hide her true identity.

Wild Child broke the ice. She approached a big group of lads who had just been to a hockey match. "So, do you guys mind if we join you?" she politely interrupted.

Of course they didn't.

Miz ColdFeet and I proceeded to interrogate two of the boys on "dating in Sweden."

"So who would make the first move?"

"So why are Swedish guys so shy?"

"How do relationships happen here in Sweden? (No, I'm not talking about sex here. I KNOW how that happens. I learned about the birds and the bees when I was ten)."

"Would you ever buy a girl a drink as a way to meet her?"

"Who pays if you go on a date?"

By the end of our own version of 20 questions, I think the poor boys were feeling a bit bedraggled. But they did confirm some of our initial hypotheses, "If you girls were Swedish and came over here to sit with us, I'd assume you just wanted sex. But since you're foreigners, I don't know."

If only they knew.

Meanwhile, Wild Child was busy speaking (almost) perfect English with Sven Svensson. I cringed when I heard her say, "And then there is a Christmas tree down in our trappgång.."

I leaned over and whispered, "Wild Child! American exchange students DO NOT say trappgång!"

Ooops, but I don't think Sven caught on anyway.

Then the boys made the mistake of thinking that Swedish was a secret language. Okay, this was not ENTIRELY their fault. (After grilling him, I "innnocently" asked one of them to give me a Swedish lesson. Blink blink.) They didn't say anything too revealing such as was the case during this incident, but still, we knew exactly what they were saying even though they thought they were safe.

"So man, looks like we've got a mission tonight!"

Sven II leans across the table and whispers something (in Swedish) to the guy I'm talking to.

"You don't need to whisper. These girls don't know what we're saying."

Curiosa snickers and winks at Wild Child.

Then I crossed the line, but just couldn't help myself. "So what would you do if I just broke out into fluent Swedish?" I asked him.

"I guess that's a chance I'll have to take."

Curiosa snickers to herself. Again.

Time for a trip to the ladies' room to give Miz ColdFeet a report on what I had just overheard, and how evil I'd been.

Wild Child then heads out for a smoke break, and engages in a conversation with the bouncer. He informed her that he was wearing black, lacy stay-up thigh highs, and a woman's thong because it made his job "much more interesting."

"When the bouncer tells me about his fetish for women's underwear, I think it's time to call it a night."

So we take our leave, and leave Sven I, II, and III a little confused. Mission aborted.

Sometimes it's so much fun being evil.

Scandinavian Minimalism

Image hosted by Photobucket.com"So American guys don't shave, do they?" Swedish guy asked.

"They don't shave what? Like, their faces?" I replied, slightly surprised.

"Like, they don't shave their, um...upper body?"

"Why would you shave your upper body?"

"Why would you not shave your upper body?"


Clearly, if you are in the same kind of woolly predicament as Andy Stitzer in The Forty Year Old Virgin, some kind of hair removal might be in order, but this is not necessarily necessary if you only have three chest hairs to speak of.

Don't get me wrong. I'm definitely not against a little hair maintenance, especially when it comes to trimming certain nether regions, but it seems to me that head-to-toe hair removal is just a really bad case of whisker burn waiting to happen, unless you are really, really diligent in your daily shaving rituals.

Men are supposed to have a little hair. As I said, I don't mean that I want to curl up with Yogi the Bear every night, but really, I don't really mind a little fuzz here and there.

Apparently, head-to-chest hair removal (please reassure me that Swedish guys don't normally shave their legs) is quite a common phenomenon among the Strong, Silent, Nordic type. Wild Child has gotten reports from several men's locker rooms that this is indeed the case among many Swedish males.

Now I have to ask: isn't this taking Scandinavian minimalism to an entirely new, and inappropriate, level?

"Honey, can you please pass me the razor?"

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Oh boy

Seems you can find my blog by typing "cheapskate swedes" into Google.


Please remember that it wasn't ME who said that Swedes were cheapskates. I said no such thing.


Image hosted by Photobucket.comI think Ullrick has too much time on his paws.

Drunk dialing

Image hosted by Photobucket.comDrunk dialing.

It's something many of us are guilty of, but it's much more fun to be on the receiving end of such a call than it is to wake up hung over (the next afternoon) realizing you racked up $200 worth of international phone calls in the wee hours of the previous morning.

I awoke to the sound of my phone ringing this morning. It was Tonto calling at 2 am his time from his father's mobile.

"Buenas dias, senorita!"

I'm not sure exactly how much it costs for a ten minute mobile-to-mobile call from Mexico to Sweden, but I'm guessing it probably would cover the cost of a train ticket from Lund to Stockholm.

For Tonto's sake, I'm going to pretend it was la cerveza and la tequila talking. I'm also leaving out several of the not-PG-rated things he said to me, both for his sake and for mine. It was highly amusing, but I'm pretty sure I'm the only one who remembers the conversation, at least the part of it that may any sense whatsoever.

"You're going to hate me, aren't you?"

"No, but I might blog you."

Image hosted by Photobucket.comI believe there was also a marriage proposal somewhere in there as well. I don't believe, however, that I gave him an affirmative answer, although he might think otherwise, as the the tequila seemed to be making him hallucinate.

¡Dios mio!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Kids say the darndest things

Tjej 1: Vi pratar ryska hemma.

Barnvårdare: Men på dagis pratar vi svenska.

Tjej 2: Jag kan säga 'Bye bye!'

Barnvårdare: Och vad är det för språk?

Tjej 2: (fundersam) ...Australisk!!

Monday, January 02, 2006

Happy pets

I'm a big fan of spoiling my pet to death, but there seems to be a point when "spoiling" is more for the amusement of the human involved than for the animal that is purportedly being spoiled. Do any of these pets look especially pleased to be wearing jewels or luxury accessories? The necklaces look like the kind of things I make that Kitty tries to help me with, by eating the wire. Yum yum.

Shall we play dress up with Mommy's jewels?

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Puppies and pearls.

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No comment.

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I just dare you to try to take another one.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Swedes and their holidays

One thing I love about Sweden is the fact that almost anything can be an excuse for a national holiday. If a holiday falls on a Thursday, then Friday must also become a holiday, because god forbid you have to back to work for ONLY ONE DAY.

And for each holiday, there must be one or two other holidays to go with it. For example, Christmas by itself is not enough. In addition to "Julafton" and "Juldagen," you must have also have "Annandag Jul" (the day after Christmas, known to the Brits as Boxing Day) and "Trettondedag jul" (Jan 6, or 13 days after Christmas).

I got into a discussion about this last night with a Swedish guy at the dinner party I attended. Much to my horror, he told me how they had held a celebration combining Halloween and Thanksgiving. Why their office was celebrating Thanksgiving is another question, and one to which I do not have an answer.

But anyyway, the point is that these two days are entirely INCOMPATIBLE. THERE IS NO CONNECTION.

The combination was bizarre. It consisted of Halloween decorations with Thanksgiving food. This would be like me trying to combine Lucia Day with Midsommar, which are probably two of the most "Swedish" holidays. I'm going to show up for the strawberries and sill wearing a wreath of candles.

To begin with, Swedes have a very strange relationship with Halloween. They can't seem to decide between the American-style holiday held on October 31 and their own "Alla Helgons dag" (All Saints Day) on the following Saturday.

There is a collective crisis: Which one should we dress up for? When do we go trick or treating? And the pumpkins, what do we do with the god damned pumpkins?

I think the pumpkin can be blamed for the confusion between Halloween and Thanksgiving. Let me simplify it for you:

Image hosted by Photobucket.comThis is a Jack O' Latern (left). You carve it for HALLOWEEN.

Image hosted by Photobucket.comThis is a slice of pumpkin pie (right). You eat it for dessert on THANKSGIVING. With whipped cream. After the turkey, the sweet potatos, the green beans, the mashed potatos, and the cranberry sauce.

To be honest, I really don't care what you do with Halloween, but Thanksgiving is sacred. It occurs on the fourth thursday of November. Not the second, not the fifth, not the first Saturday, the FOURTH THURSDAY. It's about giving thanks and being with family and friends. And you know, all the stuff about the Pilgrims and the Indians.

After all of this lecture, if you really feel the need to combine Thanksgiving and Halloween, feel free to dress up like a turkey on Halloween, but please continue to celebrate Thanksgivng on THE FOURTH Thursday of November. If you don't, I'm going to take the biggest herring I can find and beat you with it.

Two thousand and six bottles of beer on the wall

The thing about New Year's is that it seems to bring out both the best and the worst in people.

For a brief moment, right at midnight, it no longer matters who you are, who your friends are, or where you come from. Differences fade away and people turn to whoever is next to them, giving out hugs, sharing champagne, and wishing everyone a fantastic year to come. As I walked down Götgatan last night on my way home from the party, three or four different people smiled at me and wished me a "Gott nytt år!" That, combined with the powdery snowflakes flowing down from the sky, made for a very cozy, and surreal, evening.

Unfortunately, a few hours after midnight, after the revelers have finished off the last bottle of bubbly, the merriness is overtaken by an extreme state of intoxication. For some, a little alcohol only increases their well-wishing, but for others, it unfortunately results in various forms of obnoxious and inappropriate behavior.

This includes the gang of teenage boys who decided to serenade the entire train car on the blue line all the way from Solna Centrum to T-Centralen. (The Backstreet Boys they were not.) It also applies to the woman who consumed so much liquor she was entirely unaware of the fact that she vomited all over one of her fellow passengers somewhere in between Slussen and Medborgareplatsen.

And I must say I also felt a bit sorry for the sorry for the pre-teen girls who were trying to wade their way through the slush in their kitten heels and miniskirts. I'm glad I learned that lesson in high school (after an ill-fated prom date); it doesn't matter how pretty the shoes are, it is NOT attractive if you walk like a Chinese princess with bound feet, or WINCE with every step you take, like the piercing-sword feeling the little Mermaid experienced when she traded her fins for ball shoes.

Not that I let such events ruin my entire evening (it might have, had I been the fellow passenger who was vomited upon), but it certainly took a little pleasure out of the journey home. Maybe it's time to award myself a few "grown-up points" since I no longer understand the joy of public displays of drunkenness.

I think the best New Year's Eve’s I've had have been the ones for which I had the fewest expectations. It always turns out better if there is not the pressure to have "the perfect night." It also makes me think back to previous New Year's festivities, which include barhopping in Idaho last year, celebrating the year-before-last with two of my best friends from college in our nation's capital, Washington D.C., and of course dancing the ceilidhs (pronounced kayli) with Scottish guys in kilts at Hogmanay three years ago in Edinburgh.

It also makes me remember a few New Year's make-out sessions. As I watched some of my friends ring in the New Year with a kiss from their beloved, I have to admit I was a bit jealous. Although I’m sure he was having a fantastic time partaking of tequila and catching up with his family, I wish that Tonto would have been there with me.

I know that our time will come; that this is just the beginning of rather strange relationship. I’m looking forward to exploring it together with him.

So here’s to the first day of a brand New Year!