Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Top Ten Differences Between the U.S. and Sweden

10. Swedes play football, while Americans play something else. (After watching the U.S. team in the World Cup, it's clear that American soccer and Swedish football are NOT the same sport).

9. Sweden thinks it's not part of the European Union, while the U.S. thinks Canada is part of the U.S..

8. Swedes know the difference between Sweden and Switzerland, while Americans don't really care as long as someone continues to manufacture cuckoo clocks and good chocolate.

7. Swedes go to Paris, while Americans go to Paris, France (as opposed to Paris, Texas).

6. Sweden has fish eggs in a toothpaste tube, while the U.S. has cheese in a spray paint can (and yes, it is actually called Easy Cheese).

5. Swedes put salt on their licorice, while Americans put salt on their french fries.

4. Americans work 50 weeks a year for two weeks of vacation, while Swedes work two weeks a year for 50 weeks of vacation.

3. An American in Sweden is an expat, while a Swede in America is a turnip (and a Danish is a pastry).

2. Health care in Sweden is free, while if you break your arm in the U.S., you pay your other arm and a leg to fix it.

1. Swedes eat rotten fish, while Americans throw it away.

On the subject of Swedish taxes

"It almost makes you want to go home and become a Republican."
-American expat living in Stockholm

Kuriosity killed the cat

Monday, June 26, 2006

A Nation in Mourning

The combination of Midsummer's hangovers and a 0-2 loss against Germany do not happy Swedes make. The atmosphere was less than jovial yesterday at the same pub where we watched hottie Henke slam dunk a goal in the match Sweden tied against England (and yes, I do realize that I am using the wrong sports lingo and I'm doing it on purpose). In fact, hottie Henke not-so-hotly missed a penalty kick that would have resulted in at least one point for Sweden. The Swedes might still have gone home, but it would have been better not to go home entirely empty handed.

But this evening's match between Portugal and the Netherlands was NAAAASTY (and not in a good way). Perhaps if the Dutch fans had once again been forced to watch the match in their underwear it would have been more lighthearted (although in the aftermath of the debacle, it seems to be FIFA that was actually caught with its pants down), because there is nothing funnier than a Dutchman in his underwear. There is only one person who should be running around the stadium in his underwear, and he certainly ain't Dutch.

Friday, June 23, 2006

How to Tell When It's Midsummer in Stockholm

10. The streets are empty. The only people you see are frantically packing their Volvos with crates of strawberries and new potatos and gallons of alcohol.
9. ICA has been sold out of sill for weeks.
8. The whole country is attired in shorts and tank tops, still in denial that Mother Nature won't deliver the sun they've been praying for since December. (Although Swedes aren't religious and most don't pray, they will make an exception and appeal to a higher power to request good weather).
7. Although not an official holiday, every store and business in the entire country is closed for the de facto National Drinking Day.
6. The ONLY business on the entire street that is open is a nail salon run by two lovely girls from Turkey. They've spent the day doing each other's nails, for the fifth time.
5. The waiter looks at you with a stare of incomprehension, as if he didn't understand the question, when you ask if they would be open on Midsommarsafton. OF COURSE no one would be working on a holiday that isn't even official!
4. It's the only day of the year that you don't have to book a date with the tvättstuga six months ahead of time. You can just walk downstairs and start your laundry.
3. Small children (and drunk adults) can be seen hopping around, pretending to be frogs.
2. A giant herring has been spotted swimming for its life, as desperate Swedes seek any way to alieviate their craving for pickled fish, which ran out weeks ago (see number 9).
1. No one is going to read this post until Monday because everyone is hiding in their summer cabins, munching on pickled fish and strawberries (hopefully not at the same time) and holding their thumbs, waiting for the rain to stop.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Home shopping erotica Part II

"So this must be foreplay," I said.

"What on earth are you talking about?" he replied.

"Well, this is the red ottoman that goes with the red chair that goes with the red couch that you said was orgasmic."


"If the couch is orgasmic, then the footstool must be foreplay. The chair is somewhere around third base."


"It's an extended metaphor!"

"It's a metaphor that shouldn't be extended."

A few minutes later...

"So I'm supposed to mount the back..."

Raised eyebrows.

"Not THAT kind of mounting!"

And finally...

"Which end goes where?"

One to Watch

I couldn't have said it better myself. Check out the excellent The Stockholm Grumpy guide to Tunnelbana "nutters" by Stockholm Grumpy. Please submit visual representations of any recent escapees from the loony bin (or those who ought to be locked up) you spot on the Stockholm subway to stockholmgrumpy at gmail dot com. What else, after all, would you use your camera phone for?

Blue and Gul, Le Deux

England 2-Sweden 2
Well, last night wasn't as much about oh-so-fine Freddie as it was hottie Henke who took center stage in the final minutes of the game. While not exactly Calvin Klein material, Henke's not so bad himself. For his part, Freddie did get a little naughty, picking up a yellow yard in the 88th minute (haven't I just become the resident football expert).

I still think it's much more fun to watch the people who are watching soccer than it is to actually watch the soccer itself. A fantastic example would be kilt-clad Scots wearing Sweden jerseys, not because they are such bit fans of Freddie and Henke, but because they will root for any country so long as it is NOT England. I gotta say, it was a bit interesting watching a match between Sweden and England in an English pub filled with Swedes. Not to mention that the English team has a Swedish coach.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Celebrity crush

Celebrity crushes are a sign of a healthy relationship.

Or rather, getting extremely upset and jealous about your mate’s celebrity crush is a good indicator of an UNhealthy relationship.

For instance, I’ve got enough self-confidence to cheerfully indulge Steve’s crush on Princess Madeleine. He is, after all, a red-blooded American male, and this proves it. In fact, it would be bit worrisome if he didn’t find her attractive.

I’ve gone so far as to say that he can even have a freebie with her, should the opportunity ever arise. Of course, he’s right when he points out that I’m banking on the low probability of him ever meeting her, let alone on the statistical likelihood of actually ending up in a compromising situation with the fair princess. If it ever actually happened, I’d immediately retract my offer and then proceed with spontaneous combustion.

Nonetheless, my tolerance of the Madeleine daydream is not entirely selfless. It also gives me a certain leeway when it comes to my own fantasies. For example, tomorrow we are going to imagine Freddie Ljungberg running around the soccer field in his underwear watch the Sweden-England match (oops, did I type that outloud?). Since I discovered the aesthetic aspects of the game, soccer just got a whole lot more interesting.

The Blog that Changed My Life

A collective gasp of horror was heard around the office as one of my colleagues exclaimed, "Why the hell do you have a picture of David Hasselhoff on your blog?"

"Ewwwwwww!" screamed another.

"Well, I don't really have a good reason for that, other than to say that 'I guess you needed to be there.' But at least there are cute puppies!"

"Well, the puppies are cute, but POOR puppies!"

That exchange poses a question about the direction, nature, and purpose of this blog. Really, what AM I doing posting pictures of David Hasselhoff on my blog? I mean, pictures of underwear model (oh yeah, he plays soccer too) Freddie Ljungberg are one thing, but the Hoffster? Come on, Curiosa.

When I started this blog, I was at an uncertain point in my life where I was trying to figure out the next step career wise, as well as recovering from a foot injury resulting from a major car accident last summer. Quite simply, it was difficult just putting one foot in front of the other, both literally and figuratively. I couldn't go out and do all of the things that I wanted to do, and writing was a way to relieve some of the stress and boredom that come with recovery from such an injury. It was not just a way to pass the time; it was a way to reach the outside world.

I had been blogging for awhile under a different pseudonym on a different server, but Kommissarie Curiosa took the art of blogging to another level. Swedish Mating and Dating was sort of a slam dunk, and once I figured out all of the ins and outs of statcounter, I realized that people were actually reading what I wrote. I'll admit that I enjoyed it (and still do!).

For several months, this blog became an integral part of my life. I won't say that I didn't live life, but I did spend a great deal of time writing about it. I quickly found out that blogs about dating are an excellent way to get dates. Of course, none of my dates were actually with the strong, silent, Nordic type. First there was a brief affair with a tall, dark, and definitely not silent Southern type, who wooed me by suggesting that I was the author of a bimbo blog. That relationship didn't last, for various reasons, but my romantic attention soon turned to a fellow expat blogger, who took the interesting and unconventional approach of writing odes to Ullrick. Turns out, the way to a girl's heart is through her cat.

About the time I started dating the cat poet, most recently known as Steve (he also goes by the title of Guy Who Likes Things Far Neater than I Do), I started a new job, vaguely related to finance and editing documents related to finance. I found out about the job through a friend I met at Bloggforum. So thanks to this blog, and other blog-related activities, I've met a great guy, found a job I like, and broadened my circle of friends and acquaintances.

While a new relationship and a new job have been fantastic for me personally, I have consequently neglected somewhat the very thing that helped bring me fame, fortune, and love. (Ok, that's a little over the top, but it's my blog, and I'll exaggerate if I want to). Due very simply to a lack of time and energy, the frequency of posts has gone from several times a day to a few times a month. I've also had to consider the fact that I now spend a significant portion of my time with another individual who may not be as comfortable as I am in sharing every little detail of our lives with the Internet. I've had to come up with a new definition of what's "bloggable" and what's not.

But I've missed blogging, and I've missed my fellow bloggers. So I'm back, but please bear with me while Kommissarie Curiosa grows and changes along with its author.

In the meantime, I'll try to spare you from any more images of David Hasselhoff.

Baby buggies beware

Cry BabyLet's get one thing straight: I'm not out to get parents who have small children. I don't dislike all children, just the screaming kind. In fact, I'm sure there are some very nice small children out there somewhere (although that somewhere may very well be over the rainbow). I think that Sweden is indeed a fantastic place to have kids. I also agree with the principle that society should be set up in family-friendly way that allows women (and men!) to have both a career and children.

I will even go as far as to say that parents with baby buggies should have the right of way on public sidewalks and public transportation. That doesn't, however, give you permission to stand in the middle of the road and stop traffic.

To the woman that nearly ran me over on my way home from work: You should set a good example for your child and look both ways before crossing the street.

Those baby buggies are a lethal weapon.

Hyra En Hund™

Icelandic SheepdogI have a great new business concept: Rent-A-Pup™. I even have a slogan: The place where dogs who love people meet people who love dogs. The idea is that city dwellers who live in tiny apartments can, for a fee, borrow a dog for the day. It would be sort of an unconventional doggy daycare. Dog owners going on vacation would drop Fido off at the kennel, and then people who love dogs, but can't have one, can come and take him for a romp in the park, a swim in the canal, or whatever. Obviously, there would have to be some kind of certification process, because you wouldn't want to loan your pup out to just anyone. It would be a sort of canine user course.

Personally, I would like to borrow an Icelandic Sheepdog (pictured left). (Never mind that the main reason I am so besought with this lovely breed is that it matches Ullrick, my cat, not to mention it keeps with the whole Nordic pet theme. Steve thinks that's a stupid criteria to use when choosing a breed, but I think there are plenty of stupider reasons that I could come up with). And yes, Mom, it's already been pointed out that I need another pet as badly as I need another tattoo.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

May the Hoff Be With You

The Hoff
Curiosa (to Steve, sprawled out on the bed**): Now when I get back, I want to see your very best David Hasselhoff impression.

Steve: You're going to be waiting a very, very long time.

Curiosa: You know, I don't find David Hasselhoff the least bit attractive.

Steve: The rest of the world agrees with you, unless they're German.

**The size of aforementioned bed is no longer an issue in our relationship, except for the fact that I now have 130 cm to occupy while he has a very generous 30.
This is what the Hoff would be wearing if he lived in the north of Sweden.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Random neuron firings at midnight

This week, the illustrious cow connoisseur Mamma Mu became the resident cat sitter at Casa Curiosa. She claims to have invaded my apartment, but I tend to think the nature of the occupation should actually be determined by the invadee, not the invader. Take, for example, the numerous Viking raids of Scotland, starting in the eighth century. I'm sure they were considered invaders, not to mention rapers and pillagers, by the locals. But maybe the Vikings just thought they'd stop by for a cup of tea, and had no idea that their offer of bloodshed and terror would be taken the wrong way by the Scots. I mean, who doesn't love a little bloodshed every now and then?

Speaking of bloodshed, I have a huge welt on my shin from the world's largest mosquito. She didn't live to tell about it, but I was left with a big honkin' egg-sized itchy red bump on my left leg. I want to scratch it, but that's like cutting off my nose to spite my face. It's just gonna make it worse. I love the Swedish summer, but I HATE the Swedish mosquitoes that accompany it. However, when it comes to mosquitoes, I'm equal opportunity. I hate American mosquitoes just as much as I hate the Swedish ones. If I ever met an Icelandic mosquito, my disdain would be equally as strong. The same goes for Zimbabwean and Antarctic mosquitoes.

So what do mosquitoes and Vikings have in common other than bloodshed?

You tell me.

In the meantime, I’m going to bed.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Blå och gul

Freddie World CupI'm a bit ambivalent about the whole World Cup soccer hysteria in general, and Stockholm Grumpy pretty much sums up how I feel about it. But I will say that now that I'm dating someone who knows more than a little about the game, I certainly appreciate it more than I used to (in sort of a baptism by fire kind of way). It's more interesting to watch it now that I understand some of the technical aspects of football, and I can definitely appreciate some of the aesthetic aspects, namely in the form of Freddie Ljungberg.**

The streets of Stockholm just roared with the yells of very happy Swedes as Freddie scored the winning goal against Paraguay. If I hadn't known better, I would have thought that the Swedes were just celebrating having more than two days of warm weather in a row. Similarly, after hearing the moans and groans after the tied game against Trinidad last week, it would have been easy to think that the government had just announced it had cancelled Midsommars, Christmas, and New Year's.

Half Naked Swedish ManRegardless of the dramatics, seeing Freddie score that goal makes me think that watching soccer may not be so dull after all, and maybe I'd better study the game a bit more closely. I can't help but think of an entirely different meaning for målchans, that is, an obvious goal scoring opportunity.

**A recent survey done by a reputable source (i.e., me) reveals that the Swedish National Soccer Team has a higherper capita number of potential underwear models than any other team participating in the World Cup.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

One stop shopping

One of the perks of being on the other side of the Atlantic: you can get just about anything you want (and lots of things you don't) anytime of the day or night. If you find yourself in a situation that leaves you scrambling for products that you need RIGHT NOW, damn it, your local pharmacy is just a short drive away. Yes indeed, the 24-hour drug store is one of the things I miss the most about living in the U.S.

Imagine, for instance, that you fly into a city in the southern part of the U.S. late on a Saturday night. You are visiting your boyfriend and his family for the weekend, and he picks you up from the airport. You haven't seen each other for several days, but your hectic, last-minute packing method leaves you unprepared for your impending reunion.

So what else would you do but make a midnight pit stop at Walgreens on the way home?

After stopping briefly to admire the 100% polyester Hawaiian mumus and plastic lawn gnomes, we proceeded to the "family planning" aisle, as it is known in the Bible Belt. The range and diversity of products was amazing. There were solutions to just about any kind of sexual dysfunction you could think of. For him, you could find "Mandelay" (read, Man Delay) and for her, there was a substance called "Finally." There was also a special gel for her "secret grove" as well as herbal family planning pills for the members of society that are wont to avoid Big Pharma. We decided to skip the herbal variant, and go with the tried-and-true latex version.

Giggling a bit, and hurrying home to make good use of our purchase, we rushed to the checkout aisle. I was momentarily distracted by the "bling bling" on display, because of course, I just couldn't live without small stick-on hot pink diamonds to accessorize my mobile phone (diamonds are, after all, a girl's best friend – even if they are pink and sticky). Steve shook his head and refused to buy me any bling bling, and I grudgingly turned to the cashier, who looked young and pimply-faced enough to still have a curfew.

"Do these things actually work?" I asked him, showing him the small cardboard box I had in my hand. "Is there a money back guarantee if it doesn't?" (Just for the record, I was actually inquiring about a box of hangover pills, which claimed to be the ultimate Hangover Prevention System™, rather than the product we had actually stopped to purchase).**

As we paid, the cashier gave a little nod, probably directed towards Steve.

"Y'all have a good time tonight," he drawled in his best Southern twang as we walked out the door towards the car.

Um, thanks.

All I can say is that good times were had by all.

**I can see the scenario now; a young mother with a screaming infant comes into the store to demand her money back. Does anyone know if Walgreens actually has a refund policy on family planning products if you came back into the store nine months after the date of purchase as long as you have proof that it failed? In this case, the evidence of product failure, in the form of a small elephant, would be very hard to deny.

May be hazardous to your health

Warning labels about the hazards of smoking slapped on the side of cigarette packs are nothing new.** But while we all know by now that smoking is bad for you, apparently there are other health hazards lurking out there of which the general public should now be made aware.

For example, you better duck and take cover when your mobile rings. When I tried to adjust the volume on my new Sony Ericsson J210i, I was greeted by the following digital message:

WARNING: Loud ringtones could damage your hearing

Right. I'm planning on cranking up the volume on my mobile phone to 90 decibels. And if it damages my hearing, I'm going to sue you. Oh wait, I can't sue you, because you had the proper legal disclaimer.

One the other hand, one of my co-workers did suggest a more appropriate warning message, which Sony may just want to program into its phones.

WARNING: Loud ringtones could annoy your colleagues

I would also like to propose a caution of my own.

WARNING: Annoying warning labels could result in annoyed blog posts

**For those of you who like to stock up on random historical facts for your next round of Trivial Pursuit, a bit of Google research has revealed that the U.S. Surgeon General has required warning labels on cigarettes since 1965. The EU has had a similar directive in place since 1989.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

IKEA assembly and other home shopping erotica

Anyone else ever notice the conversational similiarities between assembling furniture and engaging in aerobically inadvisable bedroom activities?

This should just take a minute.
(two hours later) Are you finished yet?

Do you want me to hold it while you screw?

This one just slides in sideways.

Where's the hole?
Just a little to the right; no, go back a bit.
Found it!

Do you need help with that?
No, this is a job for one.

Just stick it in there.

Ohmigod, it fits!

This looks so much easier in the picture.

This instruction manual is completely worthless.

I'm the one with the screwdriver.
Believe me, I'm quite happy that only one of us has a screwdriver.

This is like naked twister except with clothes on and with more hardware.

So lay this one flat on its back.
It's not the chair that's supposed to be flat on its back.

Will you please stop fondling that espresso machine?
As soon as you stop undressing the power tools with your eyes.

The Letter Ö

Steve**: I guess you can't really call it an umlaut in Swedish.

Curiosa: No, in Swedish you say an ‘o med två prickar’. That’s an ‘o with two pricks.’

Steve: That’s one lucky guy. Except that he’d have to go shopping for surgical gloves instead of condoms.

Curiosa: I’m so going to blog this.

**His full blog pseudonym is the Guy Formerly Known as the Guy who Likes Things Far Neater than I do that Changed His Name to An Unpronounceable Symbol and Then Decided He Would Rather Be Called Steve. I will hereafter refer to him as "Steve" for the sake of brevity.