Language of Sharks and Crafternoons

Trip Start Jan 31, 2010
Trip End Jul 21, 2010

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Yoshi and Sophie's Couch

Flag of Sweden  , Swedish Lakeland,
Saturday, April 10, 2010

I wake early, but lie reasonably still, not wanting to wake the others. Not having a door to your bedroom is a little strange to me. I like the idea of closed off areas, but their apartment is wicked regardless. Yoshi moves quietly and leaves for work, and I move to the kitchen while Sophie gets dressed. We talk over coffee about work and art. Her English first strikes me as American, but then I realise it's Degrassi, and she mentions she gets a lot of Canadian comments about it. I’m glad we’re on the same page. She is absolutely intoxicated by language. She’s studying Spanish at the moment, finding it easy to test herself by watching the Scooby Doo series they own in Spanish instead. So that’s three she knows and is hungry for more. I show her the language book I’ve brought with me, and the phonetic pronunciation of some of the Swedish words has her neatly in tears. I confess I’ve use it for Dutch and Swedish to a strange response from those not understanding, then to discover their English is nearly better than mine. She suggests listening to Swedish or Dutch music to get the pronunciation of words, and the melodies will make it easier to remember. This makes sense, especially as half the stuff I heard in Maria’s kitchen from the radio is sticking, whether I understand what’s being said or not. Scooby Doo also leads back to ghosts, with me talking of the Millman in Brosarp, then into a fascination with all things zombie, death, monsters, vampires and more. An episode of Scooby Doo mentions a place called Vampire Rock in Australia; a place I did not know existed. When I hear it I think of Picnic At Hanging Rock, which is rather unrelated, but Google says it does in fact exists, so it seems Sophie has a reason to travel to Australia to plan.

Emme and Kristian pop in again and we head off to get on with some Swedish tourism. I can see where we’re gong from the door step. In one of Millencolin’s first releases, a tape and a EP called Melak, parts of Orebro are drawn into the background. One such piece is the crazy Mushroom Water Tower, also known properly as Orebro Vattentorn.

A claustrophobic ride to the top has a few of us shaken, it is a little scary. There’s a sticker that looks like a quality control check above the door. It appears to have expired six months ago. Thankyou Swedish Tourism Elevator Inspector Control. The lights have corresponding letters that don’t make sense to me. There’s not T for Top or B for Bottom or L for Lookout, so I look to the others for guidance on when is a good time to get out. There are three lights, I assume these are top, bottom and broken.

The view from the top is amazing. Every so often a tourism plaque lets me know what I’m seeing – the Slag mountain on the horizon, the Nature Park, the two churches and more. The cloud cover gives the horizon line a blue glow, the mountain ranges (if they can be called that) reminding me of home. Orebro’s forests can be seen from up here, houses along the outskirts slowly taken back by the trees and disappearing amongst them. The houses are labeled a very traditional Swedish view, possibly lagom to some people. It’s here I learn about the colouring of the houses. The red colour comes from the copper mines, largely due to the colours low cost and easy accessibility, and became a staple colour for the country because of it. Inside the tower are educational displays using water, showing the reason for have a tank so high and houses less than four stories in the city, and how that guy on the top floor must have really bad water pressure.

We head to the shopping district for a present for Jasper. He is having a birthday dinner tonight nearby, and getting him a present proves a little harder than expected. His favourite things are said to be anime related, but such a store does not exist in Orebro, and ebay doesn’t really do last minute shopping. There is a Swedish version of ebay, and no, I’m told it’s called Swebay.

Along the way we find a craft shop, one that appears to be Sophie’s favourite shop in Orebro, if not the world, and I can see why. Think of a better version of Spotlight, much more select in their variety, but because of the Swedish element there’s a bit of Ikea here too. I’m on the look out for another black texta, having used up the one I got from Utrecht in Brosarp for the exhibition. Sophie picks up a blank canvas on sale that is big enough to take her into the air with a gentle gust of wind. And the streets are windy today.

So the big shopping centre has Sweden’s answer to Border’s, and we spend some time in there looking for the humourous kind of book. The thought process of Anime to Japanese food was also taken, and I think it could have been a good one and am told it is valid, but it seems the Swedes are not big on the Japanese cooking thing, they can get sushi instead. In the end we find a humourous book on animals. It has a giraffe on the cover – I’m sold based on that alone. There’s a wrapping paper station for all your goodies to be hidden before you leave the store. I tear of a sheet of bright green, unsure what I plan to do with I just yet.

I’m exposed to the wonderful world of Fika. The others are quite surprised I’m yet to know it by name, but basically it follows the premise that there are five meals in the day – Breakfast, Fika, Lunch, Fika, Dinner, sometimes followed by another Fika before bed. Workplaces have a designated Fika, where everyone stops to have coffee and cake and converse with each other. While I love this idea part of me thinks productivity would be at an all time low. People get into work at 9 and have two hours to sort some stuff out before Fika, then back at the desk for a little before lunch. But the social interaction ideas are great, people would actually talk at work because of it, where in some situations they would not. We pick up a cake across from the apartment, and much of the Fika conversation is centred around the philosopher Immanuel Kant. Perhaps not just him, but a lecturer by the name of Morgenbesser who traveled to New York to talk about Kant’s great philosophies. According to Kant, human beings occupy a special place in creation, and morality can be summed up in one ultimate commandment of reason, or imperative, from which all duties and obligations derive. He defined an imperative as any proposition that declares a certain action (or inaction) to be necessary. A hypothetical imperative compels action in a given circumstance: if I wish to quench my thirst, I must drink something. A categorical imperative, on the other hand, denotes an absolute, unconditional requirement that asserts its authority in all circumstances, best expressed as - "Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law." A very high horse ideal indeed.

Morgenbesser was walking the streets of said New York City, the weather blowing a gale as I’m told it often does. Struggling to light his pipe in such wind, after several attempts he descends to the underground to escape.

As he was ascending the steps. A police officer told him that there was no smoking on the subway. Morgenbesser pointed out that he was leaving the subway, not entering it, and hadn't lit up yet anyway. The cop repeated his injunction. Morgenbesser repeated his observation. After a few such exchanges, the cop saw he was beaten and fell back on the oldest standby of enfeebled authority: "If I let you do it, I'd have to let everyone do it." To this the old professor replied, "Who do you think you are, Kant?" The word "Kant" was mistaken for a vulgar epithet and Morgenbesser had to explain the situation at the police station. I’m unsure if he ever got where he was going.

Lunch is back at Sophie and Yoshi’s who gets back from work in time to help cook. We’re split between the kitchen and the living room couch, the turtles watching us move between rooms. Everyone has a read through the language book with a chuckle, picking up on the same words with their strange phonetics.

Crafternoon time! While the real men play guitar and write metal songs I’m on the floor with Sophie and Emmie gong through art things and sketchbooks and other pieces. I mention the work the Labyrinth, and it leads to Brian Froud and the diary kept by a little English girl by the name of Lady Cottington a collection of fairies pressed between the pages of the book to prove she was not mad. A look on the interwebs tells me there is an anniversary edition of this book available. HSFB YES! Sophie shows me a lot of her drawings, and the eventual fascination with Egypt and their books – the book of the dead and the mythical paths one must take when they die. Sophie’s art is wicked, a lot of people and totally worth doing more of. I show them the YOTS blog and the sketches I’ve done, and eventually we’re showing bags and clothes we’ve made then on the floor making bracelets out of beads and knotted string. The hippie string requires one to hold the piece on your foot. It would seem I’m never meant to be a hippie, the space between my big and second toe is too big to hold it correctly, I make it up.

Jasper’s birthday dinner is at an Indian restaurant a short drive away. The waitress is lovely, assuming I speak Swedish for a good ten minutes and wondering why I’m giving her a quietly blank expression. A few of us get the banquet, which turns out quite nice from memory, but I’m more excited about the discovery of Pear Cider. Wicked stuff. I order a wicked naan too that I thought would be the same as that from Georgetown, all nuts and oils and amazing bits. It is not.

Jasper’s friend points across the road out the window as I learn more about the runnings and traps of Millencolin. The university is the one they attended, though like a few places around here only the fašade is original and old school, the rest of the building renovated and by all opinions at the table rather ugly. I hear sadly that Da Strike, the bowling alley the song was based on, was torn down and relocated in the sports complex near the train station. While not the same I simply must find it.

Sophie and I talk more about Swedish words, as much of the conversation around me becomes Swedish. It turns out that Shark in Swedish is Haj, which in my mind is so very close to Hej it’s not funny. But it is! Soon the catchphrase of the night is SHARK SHARK!, much to the confusion of the surrounding non-tourists.

Back at Yoshi’s house we try to put more of a dent in the alcohol supply, and end up spending an hour or so showing youtube bits we spoke of over dinner. Here we also find the address to Burning Heart Records for tomorrow. I cannot wait. Yoshi also points out the new bowling centre and their house. I love point of reference.

Piper’s Bar is a short walk away, past the castle and a handful of other clubs that have the kids out in the cold in little more than what they wear on a hot night in Australia. Beside one is a hot dog stand, awaiting the closing hour. Apparently pubs close at 1am around here, they know nothing of the lock out policies of Melbourne.

Pear Cider once again! I still have little concept of currency, not understanding how a drink can cost that much. The place is rather loud and crazy, wicked wallpaper and a god table of people. I talk to jasper about punk bands becoming metal bands when they learn how to do wicked guitar licks. I remember Alex commenting similarly on ska music – using the example of RX Bandits, who went from fun happy songs with a two piece horn section to mind altering face melting guitar solos, keys and key changes at every corner and the loss of said horn section. This is an exception, I can see the difference. Ska is more about the dancing and vibe of the crowd, original punk music was much more message based. Both can still have the other, but I hate people thinking, "you play ska music? Like in a school band?” There’s a Youtube video on the history of ska I was shown a while back. I don’t think Jasper’s that interested in it.

We’re back at Yoshi’s after a while, passing what I’m told is the library museum where they have a stuffed cow, elephant and giraffe! No, we cannot get inside or see from here. Oh well. Michael notices the YOTS stickers and does a few, it’s cold and wet so they’re not sticking so well. A guy called Alfred says I need a piece of Sweden to take home with me, offering a street sign he picks from the ground. If it had been a moose one like those I saw at Maria’s I would most certainly attempt to take it, but sadly it is not. I wouldn’t really be able to carry it anyway.

The last few hours are back on youtube, showing music, videos made and starred in and loving every minute of being around and hanging with my new Orebroean friends. It feels strange to leave every time, this time tomorrow I’ll be in Arboga. All of them say it’s really not that far away, and we should totally do picnics or something in the next few weeks. HSFB picnic! Sleep is with the sun about to rise.
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