Live and Direct

Wednesday, December 28, 2005


Snowing in Copenhagen
Originally uploaded by Trevor_.
I really meant for this post to be about life after the holiday, which by the way was fine. We went to Jylland and spent a traditional Danish holiday with Jonna and Steen and their family, ate goose, read a lot. It snowed, and is still snowing, as proven by this picture taken out my kitchen window five minutes ago.

But "post-Christmas" has me thinking: we've dealt with poststructuralism, postmodernism, posthumanism, why not post-Christmas? I know there's a semi-serious cultural battle being waged right now by the likes of Bill O'Reilly, etc., who argue that liberals are trying to eliminate Christmas. While I normally don't give two shits about what he thinks, on this occasion, I actually have to say that I am interested in eliminating Christmas. Nevermind how it's become a mockery of the very Christian spirit it claims to celebrate, blah, blah, blah. I don't like the holiday because it means you often have to spend time doing things you don't like to do (like sing Christmas carols) with people you don't know very well (like your extended family). This is the kind of situation I've spent a lot of my life trying to avoid.

So Sara and I took a moment last night to redesign an imaginary Christmas according to _my_ tastes. Between the free bar, open buffet of really good food, the hot tub, scads of attractive people half-dressed, and really loud music, my dream Christmas ended up somewhere between Vegas with snow and an orgy plus a tree and gifts. It seems likely that I won't be asked to plan the next company Christmas party.

But come on, doesn't an orgy plus a tree and gifts sound like a whole lot more fun?!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Three more weird things about Denmark

Now that I know we're leaving relatively soon'ish (though perhaps coming back again in a year), I feel like I need to fit in all of my observations about Denmark post-haste. So here are three weird things about Denmark:

You can't buy a baseball bat in Denmark without a license establishing you as a member of a legitimate baseball team. This might make little sense until you realize there aren't very many people who play baseball in Denmark, and yet there were evidently a lot of bats being sold until they passed the law. Hmm, I wonder what people were doing with them... in a country where you can't buy guns... However, I know a guy who knows a guy who will sell you one under the counter. I've known about this outlaw baseball bat situation for a while, but I don't believe I've written about until now. I didn't want to draw suspicion.

Most banks will allows you to overdraft your checking account to an astonishing amount with no service charge or penalty. We recently found this out when we had to front some money for conference expenses, etc. We got a very pleasant letter from our bank saying that they'd like us to call and let them know when we expected to pay the balance back. But in the meantime, we were free to overcharge up to the equivalent of about $4000. After that, they'd start charging us interest: .12%. Hah! My US bank charges me $22 per whack, even if I overdraft by a nickel.

You have to pay a TV tax over here. The money goes to support the national TV service, same as the BBC in England. Even though I don't quite like the idea of paying a tax on my television after I've already bought it, I do like the commonsense approach to funding public television. Evidently, however, you can also simply refuse to let the TV guy in when he comes to check. If he can't see the TV, he can't charge you the tax.

Denmark is weird.

School's! Out! For! Ever!

Or at least for a good long time. I taught my last class for over a year last week, and now I'm oh-ficially on research sabbatical. I have to wrap up administering and grading exams, which will be a bit of a chore since I have a large enrollment course on American literature. But compared to some of the grading I did as a TA, it's really not too bad. And then it's off to work on my book project. I can't wait.

Sara has already bought her ticket back to the States. She leaves January 11, and then I'll follow in early February after I finish exams, then packing up our belongings and putting them in storage. We're looking forward to going back to Seattle, though we're both a bit stressed at the thought undergoing another move (we're on the order of something like seven since January, 2003, if you include all the various stays at Sony's executive apartment, friend's houses, temporary rentals, etc.). I have fantasies of actually living in one place for more than a year and doing something crazy like getting a job where I can plan a future and buy a house. Going back to Seattle while I write a book is definitely part of that long term plan.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Mormon dinosaurs are out to get me

So I'm on a bit of a roll as far as dreams go lately. I can go months without remembering a single dream, so the fact that I've remembered so many lately is worth documenting in itself. But last night I had a classic one, so goofy that it almost seems made up as a way to demonstrate how kooky my dream logic is. But this is strictly as I remember it.

I was being given a tour of a Mormon temple by a friend of a friend, sort of a "secret behind the scenes" look. Those of you who know the Mormon religion know that not just anybody can go into a Mormon temple beyond the reception area. You have to be a member in good standing and get a special recommend from your bishop. Anyway, I guess I pulled some strings, because they were showing us around the basement. But it wasn't what you'd expect. It was more like the basement of somebody's house, with concrete walls and those high half-windows you see in basements, plus it was full of dust and cobwebs and old shelving. Tucked away on one of the shelves was a pile of clothing, and when I looked closer, the labels said "Celebrity Garments." Garments, for those of you not familiar with Mormon faith, are the special underclothes that active members wear as a sign of their devotion as well as a form of spiritual protection. Imagine basically a loose t-shirt and very long boxer shorts made of a light, gauzy material. Anyway, garments are only received by devout members at certain specific temple ceremonies (at the time a person prepares for a mission, or if not then, usually in connection with the wedding ceremony).

In my dream, I got very upset, as I figured this was an indication that the religion was making exceptions for non-member celebrities, offering them garments and the ability to enter the temple simply because they were famous. My guide and I got into an argument, and I accused her and the church of engaging in some sort of "Scientology-bullshit" hypocrisy. I was belligerent and self-righteous (this much of the dream was true to life, I suspect). The upshot was that I got thrown out of the building.

As I was walking away, I realized that I was walking along the sidewalk in front of the house where I grew up in Grantsville, Utah. As I looked back at the house, I saw that the temple administrators had unleashed three small T-Rex style dinosaurs to hunt me down and kill me. I was looking for a place to hide when I woke up.

Up until the dinosaur part, the dream was very life-like.

The King is Dead

Our beloved goldfish, Christian the 4th, King of Denmark, passed away last night (we called him "C4" or "Mr. Fish" for short. He was named after our favorite Danish monarch, who in addition to building most of the notable Renaissance buildings in the downton area, also had great taste in clothes, with a particular fondness for fancy silk pants. As a king, Christian was a bit of a disaster, having involved Denmark in a number of expensive and ultimately pointless wars with Sweden and Germany (the perennial favorites), which coupled with his enthusiastic urban spending program almost plunged the kingdom into bankruptcy. As a goldfish, C4 was a qualified success. He did all the things goldfish are supposed to do, including die unexpectedly, but he did manage to outlive his peer, Otto, who went belly up almost immediately.

We're still waiting on the coroner's report, but all evidence so far points to swim bladder malfunction. Incidentally, in reading up on this I also learned about performing surgery on fish. That should come in useful some day.

Thursday, December 08, 2005


We got back from London late Tuesday night, but this is the first time I've had more than a few minutes to sit down and write about it. With the semester winding up, I've been doing double-duty with teaching preparation and the like. Only one more week to go before sweet, sweet research leave.

Sara and I managed to do and see a lot while we were in London and Cambridge, mostly due to the generous hospitality of Chris and Steph, Justin and Anne, our respective hosts. Since I'm too lazy to write a detailed description-review of each thing we did while we're there, I'll resort to the dreaded summary point list:

Thursday night -- arrived late, took an expensive cab ride to East London.
Friday -- Went to the British Museum, marveled at the many splendors of British Imperialism. Was nearly convinced imperialism is not such a bad thing if it means seeing the Rosetta Stone and the Parthenon statuary in the same place. Later that day went to meet Chris at his lab at King's College, London, and got to see the super-secret forensic specimen library. Started to feel faint after seeing the third pickled conjoined twin, then felt insufficient upon seeing a penis engorged to giant size from retained lymph. Sara had a great time. She's weird. Had a quick snack of beigals and hot salt beef (the London equivalent of bagels and corned beef, but oh so much better). Went out to amazing Tandoori and curry at Tayyabb's in the East End. Called it a night.
Saturday -- Touristy stuff. Went to see the London Eye, balked at the lines, and walked over to Parliament and Big Ben. Went into Westminster Abbey and saw the burial place of many British royalty (yawn) and well as Geoffrey Chaucer (yay!). Walked up to Trafalgar Square, shook my fist at Nelson because of his treatment of Copenhagen during the Napoleonic Wars, and went into the National Gallery, where we saw many wonderful works of art that blended into each other except for this and this. Met up with Chris and Steph at their place, had a nap and a bite to eat, and went to the Burning Man decompression party. Had a great time, met many cool people.
Sunday -- More touristy stuff. After a late start, went to Spitalfield Market and gawked at things we couldn't afford. Walked around central London and marveled at the city's architectural renaissance. Walked over to the Tower of London, crossed over London Bridge, went into the new Mayor's Office building, then met up with Steph. Chris made dinner.
Monday -- Went to Cambridge.

Monday -- Met Justin and Anne. Walked around Cambridge and marveled at all the wonderful architecture and quaint student life. Had a few beers, promptly started to fall asleep. Called it an early night.
Tuesday -- More touring of campus. Punting along the Cam River. Learned that Cambridge comes from "bridge over the river Cam." Train back to Stansted and back to Copenhagen. Arrived late.

We had a wonderful time, and thanks again to our hosts, who empowered us in our quest to pack as much into one long weekend as possible. Pictures can be found here.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Celebrity dreams

Sara and I are back from London, and I'll give an update on that tomorrow with pictures, but as a brief note on strange things, I've had two dreams about celebrities in the last two nights.

Two nights ago, I dreamt that I was at a dinner among friends and looked over to realize I was sitting next to Winonda Ryder. She was complaining about the downturn in her career after her highly public shoplifting trial. Over the course of dinner, I tried to convince her that I could turn her career around if she would make me the producer of her next film. I was particularly trying to convince her about all my connections to brilliant Scandinavian directors looking to make their Hollywood crossover that would be interested in working with her. I woke up rehearsing in my mind which directors seem to be currently between projects.

The second dream, which I will describe in less detail as this is a family-oriented blog, involved me having a sexual encounter with Annie Lennox behind stage at one of her concerts. It must have been a younger version of myself, as I was noticeably less pudgy around the middle.

It's weird that I would dream about those two celebrities in particular, as I haven't thought of them in quite some time, at least that I'm aware of.