Live and Direct

Thursday, June 30, 2005


President Bush is coming to Denmark next week. One of the reasons we came over here in the first place is so that we wouldn't have to see this retarded monkey-fuck on a regular basis, and yet here he is, messing things up for us. I'm sure that his visit here will start a whole new round of "Why is the US so screwed up and aren't you somehow responsible for it?" among our Danish friends.

In case you haven't been following the scorecard, Denmark is one of the "Coalition of the Willing." As a catchphrase, it really doesn't have the same zing as "Legion of Doom" or even "Justice League of America." As far as I can tell, Denmark has less than a thousand troops in Iraq right now, and provided some hospital and anti-mining ships. I believe Denmark's role to date has been primarily removing landmines and building infrastructure, but even still, most Danes I know, even the conservative ones, look at their involvement in Iraq as regrettable. The reasons they give are as multifaceted as people's response in the US, but as of yet, I've not met any Danes who are fans of Bush himself. The current Prime Minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, is to my sense of things a Tony Blair wannabe who's been handed the unpleasant task of mollifying the rising ultra-right here in Denmark; his way of doing so was to get onboard with Bush. So far, he's been able to stick with his commitment without being too greatly tainted by his connection to Bush personally, but it will be interesting to see what happens down the road.

Meanwhile, on a personal note, I'm in a quandary as to how best weather his presence here. Part of me wants to pretend it's not happening, part of me wants to show up with an American flag and a protest sign. I suspect resignation will win out in the end.

Friday, June 24, 2005


Originally uploaded by Trevor_.
Completing our photo essay on summer drinking in Denmark, here's a photo of me at the Skt. Hans Aften festivities in Nyhavn, the old sailors' neighborhood in downtown Copenhagen.

School's Out for Summer!

Originally uploaded by Trevor_.
I finished my last student examination, so I now have the next two months to chill, do some research and writing, and recharge for next semester.

This photo is of some gymnasium, or the equivalent of high school, students who've just graduated. New graduates wear a special cap for a while afterward, and on the day of graduation, they ride around in trucks (or in the old days, wagons), screaming and cadging drinks from their teachers, friends, and families. You might see a general trend emerging here regarding summer and alcohol. Hell, anything and alcohol.

Oh, and the sign says, "Honk for the Survivors."

Sankt Hans Aften

Originally uploaded by Trevor_.
Denmark still celebrates summer solstice, but as is the way with Christians and pagan holidays, they've kept the good stuff and just renamed it something Christian. So instead of summer solstice, they call it Sankt Hans Aften (what we'd call Saint John's Eve). Nobody here really knows who Sankt Hans is, nor do we really care much. Because, really, it's just an excuse to stay up late, drink a lot, and light bonfires.

Oh, and did I mention the witch? Tradition has it that we burn a witch. Apologies to my pagan friends, but if it helps, she's a mean witch. Think of her as the Wicked Witch of the West. Burning her sends her back to Bloksbjerg in Germany. I think it's great that not only do we send her back to Germany, but we send her to a specific place in Germany. I've wanted to joke about the implications for foreign and immigration policy, but evidently, we've pretty much taken this part of the tradition from Germany in the first place, so we're really just sending her home. Rumor has it that she joins the Witches' Sabbat when she gets there, so really, it's a good deal for everybody.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Crisis (hopefully) averted

So it looks like the tooth crisis may have been averted. After about a week with the temporary filling, it cracked and fell out, so I went back to the dentist today. Because there was no pain in the tooth with the temporary filling, he decided to try a regular permanent filling. Hopefully, that will solve the issue.

Interesting note: Danish dentists don't use anesthetic unless they're going to do something really invasive or the client requests it.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Things that make you go... what the f--k?!

I'm in the middle of grading exams, and as I've chronicled in detail, the Danish exam system is complicated in the extreme. I've given exams in four different formats, plus the typical semester papers that will arrive in a couple more months. The paperwork for these different exams comes in at different times, so keeping it all straight is a bit of a challenge. I've been reviewing my files in anticipation of finishing up this week, and it seems that I'm one exam short. I know the guy took the exam because I had to go to the room where all the students taking written exams were working and check in to make sure he didn't have any questions. But here it is, grading time, and no exam.

Putting on my Junior Detective hat and decoder ring, I called the exam secretary and tracked down what happened. Drum roll please...

He left.

He simply left the exam without finishing. Evidently, you can do that over here. Without failing the exam. You can just try again some other time. Or not. It's up to you. Because we wouldn't want to trouble you by actually holding you responsible for learning anything in the course. There is an option for leaving an exam in the midst of it if you become sick, and there's another option to leave "for other reasons." It invites the question: if you can leave for "other reasons," why have the sick category at all? They should just have it say, "I left the exam because I f-ing felt like it." Or, "I left the exam because I blew off class for eight weeks and I didn't expect that the questions would be related to anything I didn't already know."

Now I ask you, any of you who have spent any time in the US higher education system at all, what do you think the response would be if you up and left an American exam "for other reasons"? I can tell you how I would respond as a professor. With applause, because it would cut down my grading work. It's so easy to fill in the Scantron bubble for an "F" grade.

And if you left for medical reasons, I would expect to see blood gushing from your forehead.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005


Originally uploaded by Trevor_.
The blurry white spot in the middle of this picture is a chunk of tooth. It broke off my molar yesterday while I was eating bit of crushed peanut at Le Le, my favorite Vietnamese restaurant in Copenhagen. I pretty much completely freaked out about it and had to go home and rest.

So I rang around a few places and eventually found a dentist who could see me this morning. It turns out that I'll likely need a crown, as beneath the faulty filling that likely caused the chip to break off in the first place there lies a crack in my tooth. Now here's the weird part: if I can get by with another filling, the Danish government will kick in and pay part. If I need a crown, I'm on my own. Because evidently getting a crown on my tooth is a luxury, like gold fronts or breast implants. I think I saw just the other day on MTV Cribs that 50 Cent has had all his teeth crowned. You know, to keep it real, yo.

For now, the dentist has wedged what looks like a piece of Doublemint gum in the gaping hole in my tooth and I'm supposed to see how that goes. If I get pain while eating, then I'll have to go with the crown.

However, there's a solution. Because of the favorable exchange rate between Denmark and Sweden, it actually costs less to get dentistry done over there. So I may be heading over there to get this fixed.

Up until now, my experiences with the Danish healthcare system have been uniformly positive. So it kind of sucks to hear that despite the outrageous tax rates, they won't cover what is by now a basic dental procedure. I think I'm going to take my chip of tooth downtown and hurl it at the National Parliament building in protest.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Summer in Copenhagen

It's just shy of 11:00pm as I write this, and the sky outside is barely deep twilight. It won't get really dark for about another hour, and then the sun will come up again around 3:30am. I tend to rise with the sun, so it's really wreaking havoc with my sleep patterns. That and the fact that the alcoholic nutcase upstairs decided to play "I Love a Rainy Night" by Eddie Rabbit along with other mellow country classics at 2:30 in the morning the other night. There may be some justice administered US-style here pretty soon if it happens again. Which means that I plan to invade his apartment, give him a good thumping before having him placed under arrest and whisked off to an undisclosed location, and then refuse to leave the place until a replacement government/occupant is selected that meets my approval. Eddie Rabbit is, of course, recognized by NATO and the UN as a weapon of mass destruction, so by precedent I'm completely justified.

I have to get up early tomorrow to attend an all-day departmental meeting. Ostensibly, it's a meeting to discuss how we're going to implement our newly designed curriculum. In fact, it's a meeting to reconcile some department-wide political differences and general malaise. There has been a fair amount of underhandedness in the department surrounding our curriculum redesign, and while most of it was set in motion before my arrival, it does nevertheless involve my position within the department to some extent. Apart from the personal venom that is being directed back and forth by a few members of the faculty, the whole conflict seems a bit quaint after seeing what I've seen at my previous employer. Hopefully, I'll still feel that way after eight hours of it tomorrow.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Grading papers

One of the cool things about my job as a cultural studies professor is that I get to read student research every semester, which is always surprising both in its range as well as its intensity of interest. This quarter, I've received papers on the following topics:

*Postmodern Hong Kong Theatre
*The role of the audience in Adorno and Barthes
*The Metallica v. Napster Case and the reasons it alienated thrash metal fans
*The legal history of P2P copyright suits and the implications for the music industry
*The Matrix trilogy as a global entertainment strategy
*Dogma 95 in the national and global context
*James Bond villains and their reflection of cultural anxieties, post Cold War
*_Once Were Warriors_ and the case of globalized Maori culture
*Reality television and globalization
*The backlash outside Jamaica against homophobic content in dancehall music

The quality of the papers of course vary in quality, but it's encouraging to see students pursuing topics of personal interest, as opposed to reflecting curriculum choices made for them by the professors.

Saturday, June 04, 2005


Originally uploaded by Trevor_.
Buy this car! See below for details.

Hey buddy, wanna buy a car?

One of the last snags facing Sara and I in our move to Denmark is that we still haven't sold our car. Our friend Geoff has generously been trying to sell it while letting us park it as his place until it does, but I think it's well past time that I get it off his driveway. So if you know anybody in SoCal, or anywhere, who needs a car, send them my way. I'd even be willing to go halfsies on an airplane ticket if need be. Here's the info:

2000 TOYOTA CAMRY, 4 cyl, Power Package (loaded) Gray Leather, Wood inlay, CD/AM/FM, Moon Roof, more. Xclnt Cond. 63,000 miles. Serious Inquiries Only, $10,000 OBO.

It's a very sweet car and I wish I didn't have to sell it. I'll blog a picture here in a second.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Congratulate me on my new status!

There's been a recent development in my life, so I hope you'll all join me in celebrating. Sara and I live in an apartment that is part of a series of renovated buildings similar to brownstones or rowhouses, except set off from the street like a housing project. It's a nice neighborhood, and gives one the sense of being out of the bustle of Copenhagen's mean streets. There are also a lot of young families, particularly immigrant families with kids. It will come as a surprise to nobody that I'm not much a fan of noisy kids, particularly when they play soccer under my window, as was the case a few days ago. One of them thought it would be a good idea to kick the ball up in the air, which with him being directly under our apartment window, also meant that the ball hit our window. It wasn't hard enough to break it, but it was loud enough to startle me out of reading. Being a kid, he demonstrated that the main difference between childhood and maturity is the inability to learn from your mistakes by immediately deciding to do it again.

So I went to the window and waved my finger at him. I should add that I was wearing a bathrobe and hadn't showered, so my long-past-needing-a-haircut hair was standing off my head several inches in every direction.

And in this moment, as I stood looking down at the boy paralyzed, anticipating just how badly this was going to go for him, I made a realization. In the time it took for my finger to wave from left to right I ticked over from young to middle-aged.

So please join me in celebrating my new found status as stern middle-aged man, which will hopefully be followed by grumpy old guy and eventually crusty old fart. You kids get out of my yard!