Sunswitch to release album in November

I remember experiencing the Norwegian trio Sunswitch as one of the opening bands at a Saint Vitus concert in Oslo and being a tad mind blown by what the guys managed to do with a set of drums, a bass and a…tuba. That made me to eagerly accept an invitation to a small album listening party organised by the band’s label, Riot Factory in collaboration with Killer Promo and EMI Norway. It wasn’t a bug event, but with friendly company and most of all, with a good chance to hear some words about the band and their music and to speak out the questions that cross our minds after we have heard some of the songs.

Sunswitch consists of Kristoffer Lo, Trond Frønes and Tomas Järmyr, the band is based in Trondheim and is about to release their debut album, release supported by several shows in Norway. Stian, their Riot Factory representative told us a few words about how the people at the label discovered the band and how quickly they got addicted to their music. He also told us, and everyone soon understand what he meant, that Sunswitch’s music is not easy to digest. You either dislike it, or fall madly in love with it. His words were followed by an audition of two songs (out of the four that will be released soon), songs recorded as live improvisations in the studio and who somehow demand to be heard again after the first listen. Soundwise, one can find a mix of doom and sludge, but, in case you missed out the first sentence of this article, there’s a tuba involved. It’s hard to put in words the impact it has on the sound, as it is played in a special manner that pop up a bunch of effects, making you wonder quite often if no other instrument is actually involved. The low tones of the bass and the increasing drumming intensity, alternating with slow quiet bits, builds up a certain massive intensity which feels overwhelming at first.

It was surprising to hear that the guys in the band have played together for only two years, yet their level of improvisation is so high. So, despite the fact that some of the compositions are around 15 minutes, it might be a pity there’s only 4 of them on the debut album, so I’m already hoping for news of another release. The album will physically be available only on vinyl but also digitally distributed after the official release. But most of all, I recommend you give their live show a try. For now, these are the confirmed dates:
Upcoming shows 2012

22/11 Ungdommens Hus, Røros
23/11 Blæst, Trondheim
27/11 Internationalen, Oslo
28/11 Trashpop, Kristiansand
30/11 Folken, Stavanger
1/12 R.I.P., Porsgrunn

For more updates from the band, keep an eye on their facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sunswitch/

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Review for Ørkenkjøtt release concert@John Dee, Oslo – supp. Domene

Two days after I get so impressed by the opening act that I wish the headliner would stop playing and have the first band come back on stage again, I get to witness another fantastic opening performance. This time it’s about the Norwegian quintet ‘Domene’ who played as support band for the Ørkenkjøtt release concert in Oslo, at John Dee. It’s a band formed of 4 girls (vocals, bass+keybords, drums and guitar) and one dude on guitar, but for this concert they had support from another girl on cello. The performance started with few minutes of mainly spoken words in an yet unidentified language, but enough to make you feel the power and intensity of the singer’s voice. Then they delivered 40 minutes of explosive rock’ish music that as much as I’d love to even suggest a similar style or band, I simply can’t. Hence I got an intense feeling of originality which led to a lot of respect for the band, as it’s not often bands manage this today. There was a tad of goth, especially when the cello would speak in its low-toned language, or a bit of prog rock, folk or epic elements, hardly hints of metal, somewhat stoner metal I’d dare to say, and when not metal one can think of pop… Well, if you have the right name for this mix, please let me know. It took a while to get used to the feeling of ‘I’ve never heard this before’, but it was very enjoyable. And instead of saying again how I can’t describe the band’s music too well, I guess the fairest thing to do it to tell you to check them out on their myspace at http://www.myspace.com/domenemusic.

The curtains were pulled in the break between bands, hence the Ørkenkjøtt concert got a bit of a mysterious aura, especially after I had noticed some interesting light placement in front of the drums, a small camel over some object on the stage, carpets on the floor and an extra small set of percussion, covered with a camel-patterned clothing. The mystery lingered for a little more than expected as they had a bit of a delay compared to the announced starting time. But once the curtains were pulled aside, the oriental rhythms would stop playing and you ignored the smoke on stage, you’d be presented with about eight people who made the John Dee stage feel even smaller than usual.

Ørkenkjøtt is a Norwegian band whose member mainly originate from Notodden, same place as other bands such as Leprous for example. That might be one of the reasons the guys collaborated with some of the Leprous members for this release and why two leprousians (Einar Solberg on keyboards and Tobias Ørnes Andersen on extra percussion) were present on stage. The third non Ørkenkjøtt member on stage was a sax player whose name I didn’t get, unfortunately. Other than that, the five young guys in the band are Knut Mikael Haukeland – Vocal, Simen Munthe-Kaas Rem – Guitar, Christian Grønli – Guitar, Håkon Vøllestad – Bass and Arne Steinar Myrvang – Drums. They played their concept album ‘Ønskediktet’ (Desire Poem) in full, and it was another fantastic discovery for this evening.

As far as my Norwegian language knowledge goes, the band’s name can be translated as Desert meat. No idea how they got inspired to use the term desert, yet they did try to create some old Arabian atmosphere on stage and few more palms and more band members wearing long dresses, and you’d probably feel like in an oasis. Occasionally the music would take you in the same direction, but mainly it was just messing with your brains. I personally love well placed oriental rhythms in rock/metal, so they get a big plus for managing that. The guys delivered a very refreshing high quality alternative/extreme rock/metal, yet they are overall impossible to classify so I’ll probably just agree with their own description ‘we play ørkenrock (desertrock)’.

You can check the quality and surprise in their music by purchasing their CD or streaming or whatever way you prefer to get sounds to your ears, but it won’t be half as fantastic as combined with the live energy of the guys. The singer put all he got in the intensity of the voice and used his theatrical skills to emphasise the dramatic moments of the performance or jumped bare footed when the faster and heavier rhythms demanded it. The guitar players didn’t seem to be aware of the expression ‘to stand still’, so they got easily loved by the crowd as they’d be do the main communication with the crowd through their solos mixed with adequate body poses, climbing on all possible monitors, hands shaking, beer cheering, etc. The peak of madness on stage was reached for the last song when both guitarists somehow changed axis and played while laying on the carpet, time at which the singer was on his knees in between them. It must be good music to provoke you to such an ending.

In conclusion, ørkenrock rocks, big times and I’d love to see them again live at any time.

Pain of Salvation and Cryptex live at John Dee, Oslo

With two ‘Road salt’ albums released until September 2011, Pain of Salvation has embarked on an European tour with the support of the Germans from Cryptex. The stop in Oslo was in the small ‘John Dee’ venue, which led to a rather compact crowd in front of the stage and a nice atmosphere altogether. I got inside during the Cryptex show, not having any idea what the opening band is about and didn’t even know their name at the time. I remember crossing the hall, quickly grabbing a drink and then after few seconds of staring at the stage, I felt like dancing and trying to catch the rhythm. Because what Cryptex was doing on stage was really catchy.

First, I noticed their stage placement and the fact that they were only 3. A blonde big bloke on the right side, surrounded by all sort of keyboards and also doing the vocals, reminding me somehow of Jon Oliva’s way and even voice. Then one piece guitarist on the left of the stage, wearing a tuxedo and having an outburst of energy manifesting in excessive head movements. Then, in the back, a drummer wearing a white shirt with black braces and being amazingly groovy on his kit. I was sold by the end of the first song I heard. The guys had everything needed for a cool performance and show: a singer with a versatile voice who also knew how to entertain the crowd, even if he sometimes used clichés. But as long as you have the personality to use them and they don’t feel over rated, that’s your gain. It was a loss for the Norwegian crowd though who, despite cheering really loud between songs, are very hard to be convinced to even clap if they don’t know the band.

Anyways, besides the singer (who, by the way, was wearing a kilt I believe), the music was so…simple, constantly growing into advanced and intense stuff, old, yet new, I don’t even know how to describe it with as few words as possible. I was either thinking that ‘hmm, maybe Pink Floyd might have had a song like that’ ‘No wait, it was maybe Zeppelin’ ‘Oh, here it sounds like they’re about to start a Maiden cover’. There were many bands coming into my mind, each time the Germans changed their sound. And they did it quite often in their songs. Plus, they changed instruments constantly, being quite a big surprise to see that a support band bothered to bring on stage a didgeridoo, harmonicas, hand drum (or drums) and some sound making devices that I couldn’t recognise. All of them completing some sort of journey through rock’n’roll, jazz, pure rock, heavy metal, hard rock, blues, folk. The guitars were distorted at times, clean and cozy at others, there were songs growing so cool from a drumline kept by hand drumming to a furious and loud stick smashing of the snare drum and toms.

Did I mention the good mood? It didn’t leave the band for one second and I am pretty sure it overwhelmed the crowd in the end. They did offer a lot of cheers and I am sure I wasn’t the only one feeling sorry that the band ended their performance. Having a quick look at their nicely displayed merch stand (another rare thing for a support band, to have their own stand), I noticed that the cover of the CD and all presentation materials don’t let you get your mind off the idea of a band who works intensively behind the music, being careful with their dramatic image that is guaranteed to offer you a good time when you see them live. Plus, they have the decency to greet you with the title of their release ‘Good morning, how did you live?’

The usual instruments break change and Pain of Salvation start their show after the 20th Century Fox tune plays in the speakers. I must confess from the very beginning that half of their show my mind wandered back to the first concert, hence I might not be completely objective in my review, since I really wished Pain of Salvation would leave the stage and let the first band come back. But this doesn’t mean they had a bad performance. Far from that. I just didn’t get so inspired by their music that was less daring and more standard.

One can obviously note the stage experience and the professionalism of the band and its crew. Lights very well synchronised with the sound, meant to create anything from incendiary to dramatic atmosphere. Overall decent clean sound, except a song or two when someone mistakenly pushed the volume too high, and then quickly lowered it too much. It felt like the guitars were changed after almost each song and the band’s vocalist, Daniel Gildenlöw, alternated between softly strumming the chords and going nuts on them, plus headbanging like crazy, using each mic on stage or each spot available for sitting or standing on it, making plenty of dialogue between songs and just looking good overall.

It was my second concert within 5 days or so when the drums are placed on the right side of the stage and the crowd gets to see the drummer in action pr study the funny mini cymbals placed on top of the regular wide ones. I really love that placement for drums and would be cool if it became a trend. A bit risky with stage diving though. With the drums in that position, the keyboard was mainly hidden to my view, somewhere in the back. This doesn’t mean I didn’t see anything of the keyboardist, since he ended up in front of the stage several times, especially for the KISS cover in the encore when almost everyone changed role in the band: the singer played drums, guitarist sang and played guitar, bass played another guitar and keyboardist played the bass. It worked pretty well actually. It was quite a cozy moment when they played ‘Healing now’ and everyone was brought some sort of banjo, or mandolin or lutes which added to the worldwide/folk feeling of the evening. I also bet the singer enjoyed the moment when he had to introduce the song ‘No Way’ for the crowd in Norway.

Overall a very good energy on stage, too bad that it seemed pulled back by the softer parts in the band’s music. Yet, these parts outlined beautiful vocal skills. Pain of Salvation is a nice live experience, I’m glad I got to see them, and probably if I hadn’t been so much under the spell of the opening band, I might have been way more enthusiast.

Leprous – Bilateral release concert

I had listened to the full album few weeks before its release concert on September 14th at club Blå, in Oslo. But not all of the songs were new to me. I either heard some of them live even more than one year in advance or as recent online streaming from the band. Leprous has chosen to perform some unreleased ‘Bilateral’ songs live during their 2010 tour with Therion and Loch Vostok. Listening to some youtube videos from that time and comparing to the final product on the CD in 2011, I can only say it was a brilliant idea. While the main music line and vocals seemed to have stayed the same, there’s so many tiny details in the instruments that were refined, building up to an album that should be a musical lesson for 2011. I’ve pretty much fallen it love with every song I heard live prior to the release. The final release only filled in the gaps with even more thrilling tunes blended with the ‘familiar’ ones, whose evolution was rather interesting to follow. I recall how surprised I was to hear ‘Forced entry’ at a concert in August 2010 in Sweden. And how impressed I was by how it got perfected on the recording.

The release concert was my 10th Leprous concert (without counting the ones when they support Ihsahn), so I also think I witnessed the evolution of their stage show, from 5 people who would hardly move away from the 1 square meter around their pedals to a full blast of energy that can be harmful for your neck or feet at times. But they have kept the same funky outfits idea (vests, bowties, red shirts or pants) and I think this is working very well in the direction of building a certain band image. For this concerts the band has chosen to fully perform ‘Bilateral’, following the tracks’ order from the album. What was new to me were the two monitors on stage where they had some projections, but I was too captivated by the rest of the show (combined with my attempt at taking photos) to actually recall more than an image of the album cover and some rather gross motion pictures before the music started. Nor did I notice if they were on for the whole show.

Anyways, the song bearing the album title is really fit for a concert opener, as well for summarising the whole album – a journey back and forth between two musical sides. From calm, mellow parts with soft singing and backing vocals to a drumming bonanza, with outstanding rhythm shuffles from Tobias Ørnes Andersen, backing up the tight, yet groovy, guitars of Øystein Landsverk and Tor Oddmund Suhrke and the bass of Rein Blomquist, while Einar Solberg’s voice does a great job at keeping the screamed words very melodic. After an entry so full of force with the first three songs, it’s time for the special guests to come up on stage: Ihsahn who sang some parts on ‘Thorn’ and Vegard Sandbukt who plays some mysterious sounding trumpet on the same song and later on, on ‘Painful Detour’.

A slower moment is brought by Mb. Indiferentia’s six and a half minutes, although it’s probably not the easiest song vocalwise. Finally then it was time for the song I was so looking forward for: ‘Waste of air’. It starts so intense that it’s almost breath taking and then it seems to slow down only to trap you into a very inspired blending of instrument sounds, a blending that slowly builds up like a tension up to the explosion of the scream ‘You are a waste of air’. A very noticeable detail about this song is the special ‘dance’ that the guys came up with, lowering and raising their bodies along with the music, mainly climbing on the drum stand and ending up with a jump from there. Speaking of climbing, another detail I recall from the concert is that the bass player was very fond of some speakers located back on his side of the stage and he kept climbing on them, making room for the others to go wild in front of the drum kit.

The final 4 songs bring up more of what makes this album so versatile: some rap-like idea during ‘Mediocrity wins’, beautiful slow vocal parts, nifty guitar solos, polyrhythms and catchy grooves on drums and a bass line that while not aiming at being fast, is so tight and smoothly synchronised to enhance everything else in the music. A plus goes to Tobias Ørnes on drums who used his computer to bring up some effects and it’s probably not the easiest thing to do while you have to keep track of your timing and beats.

After the album was fully played and the deserved applauses were offered by the audience – which was quite international as far as I herd, I personally having a friend from Denmark over for the concert – the band took to a short break and came back to perform several songs from ‘Tall Poppy Syndrome’, their previous release. I was surprised that they started with the album title song, which I never realised until then how groovy it actually was. They also played Passing which always tricks the crowd with its dramatic silence towards the end. It was followed by ‘Dare you’ if I remember correctly and to our disappointment the show ended here. But the people had their chance to hang around with the band members, even if they had to leave for USA early in the morning for supporting Ihsahn at the ProgPower festival.

Leprous is going to play together with Amorphis in November/December 2011 and January 2012, so if you have a chance to make it to any of these shows, do not hesitate to go and catch them live. It’s an awesome concert experience and a high quality way of spending an evening.
A full gallery of images from the concert is available here.

Debate on Norwegian lifestyle

While the below doesn’t necessarily state my opinion on things, it’s a copy paste of a debate I read on a mailing group I am subscribed to. I will leave aside names and adresses since it’s not relevant to the post, plus it’s people’s privacy. But I do want to read this debate in the future after my life has faced me with other experiences and see how opinions can change and how the things I found ridiculous can turn out to be true or vice versa.
Here goes (also note that the ‘next’ reply is not always related exactly to the one right above it, but I can’t think of a proper way to align them now, so an alternation of italic/normal and paragraphs would have to do for you)

Hey! Has anyone read the article from today’s cover page about foreigners kidnapping Norwegian children? As the mother of a norwegian child, I found it racist and narrow-minded. Quite offensive. I would like to hear your thoughts if anyone is up for a debate! 😉 http://www.aftenposten.no/nyheter/iriks/article4007413.ece

 

I read the article and honestly I fail to see anything wrong with it. I dont detect any racist or prejudicial undercurrents. To me all it says is that when youre married to a person from another country there is a chance that in case of divorce you may have a hard time fighting for the cutody. Its the same for marrieges in the States. Parents get divorced, one gets custody and moves to another state. Same story – no racism just lots of hurt feelings. Anyone after an ugly divorce can relate to what i am saying.

Matt, you don’t see anything wrong in implying that foreign women are doing this on purpose? You don’t see anything wrong in failing on exposing any reasons why these mothers end up with such dramatic alternatives?

I think youre misinterpreting this article. The fact is that while its probably a small percentge but such things do happen. There are people here who come to Norway from poorer countries to make money the
honest way but then there are those who come here to take advantage of somewhat gullible and naive norwegians and their ridiculous social system which rewords laziness. Anyways, when I see a 20 somthing y/o asian babe with a 60 y/o norwegian….call my cynical but I dont think its love that brought her to him. So Paula – you are an inteligent lady judging by your posts but you need to look at it from both sides.

How do you think that father feels? I thought Id mention that I am basing my opinion on own experience with a polish gold digging ex. Am I jaded you may ask – not anymore because my son is now with me! ha ha ha 😉

Wow I just saw the article holy crap what an ass. So narrow minded.

I’ll pick up the glove as I love discussions about prejudice and religion 🙂
The article itself did not strike me as terribly racist really, I’ve seen worse, both in terms of reality and press. What I find interesting is the slightly naive point of view of the author – to assume a person is willing to invest the time to meet a norwegian, play nice and get him/her to get you babies and then wait for the 9 months plus whatever took for the first 2 prerequisites just to get 500 euros a month for a few years. If one would really put his mind to it, it would be reasonably easy to get some money out of the norwegian government, without the hassle of wasting 2-3 or more years.

I think the article is just an outburst of misplaced preconception about the “two classes of people” – norwegians and the rest – and not backed up by too much brain activity 🙂 It is roughly in the same category with the plethora of articles on the “Romanians are criminals and backward” theme we’ve seen recently.

Well, I guess that a couple of things annoyed me.First the ignorance. Why would women from Sweden, US and UK (Top three on the “facts” list) go through the whole process for 300 euros a month? (I don’t think you can get 500…I don’t even think you can get the 300 from NAV if you live abroad as a matter of fact). Children eat, move, play…it does cost money to support them, it’s not like these women get to spend tis 300 or 500 euros in H&M 😉 And even if these women were receiving parental support and the money was good back home, would it be wrong for the father to support his children? Then, the whole thing about the use of the word “abducting” or “kidnapping”. A mother going back home with her child after a break up is simply natural! When a couple from two different countries have a child and things don’t work out, they are the ones to work out where they will live, where they will raise their kids, not the state or a passport. The automatic assumption that a the kid is “just” norwegian is simply patronizing and ignores the fact that that kid has 50/50 heritage.The article does not even suggest the situations around these cases…I mean, how bad does it have to get that a mother would rather move away and raise her kids without a father than staying here and…why should she stay here to begin with?Why is it so terrible that women want to move back home but it’s understandable that the norwegian father stays here in Norway? Why doesn’t he move to where his kids live if he cares so much?Anyways, the article doesn’t surprised me…it just makes me very sad because Norway is getting more and more racist every day.

Havent read said article but one thing I have known for a while – everyone has some degree of prejudice in him/her the difference between us and the euros is as follows:
– having grown up in a multiracial and multicultural society most of us reject stereotypes. We see others as Americans no matter what race they are or how their food smells.
– native europeans see those of other cultures and races as visitors who are here because they’re gracious enough to have them. In Norway you will never be norwegian unless youre white and born here. If youre turkish, somali or other non white even if youre born here and speak fluent norwegian youre still a foreigner – an immigrant.
As an American whos grandfather escaped holocaust and who grew up in a liberal southen california I reject prejudice based on race or culture even though its not always easy as I find it difficult to seperate certain behaviors of some people from their backgrounds.
I believe that each person should be judged individually and we have to be able judge ourselves just as we judge others.
GO PACK GO!!!!!!

Hmmmmm, did you miss the debate about the Islamic cultural centre in NY city? That was not the US’ finest display of acceptance of funny smelling food

I broadly agree with you about the article, but I have to defend Norway a little on your racist charge.

Generally speaking, I think Norway is better than most countries, even though it has less immigrants as a percentage of the population, the changes have been very rapid over a short time. As you probably know, the Swedish election last year resulted in a Nationalistic party being elected to their parliament for the first time ever, look at Denmark and the Netherlands over the last 5 yrs. Look at the tea party movement and GOP propaganda – and victories – in the US. In the UK election last year do you remember Gordon Brown (correctly imo) calling a woman a bigot who had complained about Eastern Europeans – Brown though his
microphone was off. That sealed his election defeat. If Norway elects the FRP to government in 3.5 yrs time, I will agree with you but I am hopeful Siv and Erna will have a blowup before then 🙂

Sorry, I know this is a little off topic now – maybe we need a “new to Oslo political discussion” list ? 🙂

While we’re on the subject of race and ethnicity, certainly a related theme of the Aftenposten article, the New York Times printed what looks to be a very interesting article on mixed races and ethnicities in the states. I haven’t finished the article yet (it’s a long one) although this is what we might see as people begin shedding some of the cultural mores and beliefs that keep them from mixing. I don’t know. This is probably just speculation on my part. Note that “white” Americans (those of European descent – not including Latin Americans) are projected to be a minority ethnic group during the decade 2040 – 2050. So, is this the fate of Norway?? Interesting, indeed.
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/30/us/30mixed.html?hp

You are absolutely right. The annoying part is partly the gender card which is being played without much reflection. I would bet that if you check court rulings in custody cases where one parent is a foreigner, the foreigner loses, regardless of gender. All cases I know of ended with the national subject getting sole custody, and all have been men.
The non-Norwegian parent is in these cases almost always deprived of his /her rights to mobility ( a human right), cannot leave the country with the child etc. The child is here also deprived of his /her right to cultural
heritage and relations to next of kin or family. It is forceful integration into Norway occurs on expense the child’s alienation from its other cultural and familial heritage. The court rulings in these cases are hardly neutral, but national and the underlying assumption is that it is in the child’s best interest to be Norwegian.
I believe that the gender aspect is irrelevant in relation to the national aspect. It is invoked by two conditions

1) most couples tend to settle in the country of the man (either because the women are “imported” or because the man has a better job, which of course is a result of gender biased labour markets.
2) the “foreign” parent comes from a country where they have little respect for court rulings or do not believe that they can get justice through the system, or in the case of e.g. Sweden, I assume, that they do not consider
the two countries different. Going home is like moving to Drammen they do not realise that the cross a national border into a different legal system and different national priorities.

This is not only Norwegian problem but very common everywhere. I guess the only solution is not to have children with foreigners or get rid of the nation state all together. : )

Yes, that was an incredibly insightful and intelligent reply Lotta. I guess gender equality will be a long time coming though – unfortunately. Nation states will likely be around a long time too! 🙂

There do seem to be some anomalies in the story: NAV is making the guy pay child support but has not seen the kids in 5 yrs – even though he was awarded full custody? Seems to me that the courts could have done a better job to negotiate something a little fairer – shared custody – rather than these extremes. I must say though, I am glad I am not a judge in cases like this. Or Asylum cases for that matter. Those are tough jobs…

I think the Aftenposten’s premise that women would actually plan something like this is ridiculous – as has been pointed out by other responders. Aftenposten is definitely is a “Høyre avis” – I always consider that when reading articles
like this. I expect Klassekampen would report this story quite differently.
It seems like the easiest solution is for men and women to be a lot more careful about having children until they are more certain their marriage will last. Another naive hope I suppose 🙂

I’m assuming that Klassekampen is more “left leaning”. Is this the only non-regional Norwegian newspaper (non-tabloid, I’m assuming) that is left leaning?

Klassekampen is defn left; the only other left leaning paper I know of is Utrop – but that describes it’s self as multi-cultural. There is a communist paper – Friheten – that’s a little too left for me 🙂 I’m not sure if there are others..

Happy Sunday everyone and thanks for such interesting contributions to the debate!
I am a bit surprised that some people don’t find anything wrong with the article and that my chats about the topic with most of my norwegian friends did not seem to raise any concerns among them. There has always been gold diggers in every single town around the world…young asian/african/south american/easter european girls married to old rich norwegian/ german/ danish/ english man are nothing new. How many times have us girls joked around with “marrying a millionaire?” when we were younger? Some of us have the advantage of being able to choose who we want to marry no matter what his income is, but many women from low-income countries find marrying a rich guy the only solution available to them, whether it’s in Norway, France or China. I don’t think it’s fair to judge, unless you have been in their desperate situation yourself.
So what bothered me about the article is the association of this phenomena with child abduction and foreign mothers. It made me wonder, how many young norwegian women have married older guys (wherever they were from)? How many norwegian mothers have moved to a different town to be back with their family after a divorce? Why isn’t the word “abduction” or “kidnapping” not mentioned in these cases? Why do norwegians celebrate their welfare system when it protects a norwegian woman but not when it comes to a foreign woman? What kind of feminism is that?
So why did the writer of this article chose to focus her writing on the raising number of foreign monthers “taking advantage” of the norwegian welfere system “on purpose” when the numbers show that most of this cases involve a foreign mother coming from high-income countries? Financial motives seem to be the last logical reason to me so, I asked the writer herself! Ms Karine Østtvelt, the writer of the article, was kind enough to correspond with me for a couple of days to discuss her article : It turns out that she actually has not met neither heard of any actual foreign woman planning a scam like the one she describes on her article other than “reading about women recommending marrying a norwegian man for his money on online blogs”. Yes, online blogs! Once again I wonder, how many blog entries out there have women suggesting each other marrying a rich guy period? It sounds like someone was eager to relate foreign mothers with a raising, worrying scam to me! In her defense, she mentions the case of this “poor, innocent norwegian father” on the article. I still wonder why would a norwegian court force a father, who does legally have 100% of the custody pay any money to the mother, though? I’m afraid NAV does not work that way and I wouldn’t be surprised if there are other basis
that supported that decision such as domestic violence, for example. Interestingly, any other details about the case were left out of the article, what was important to Ms Østtvelt was to portrait the “poor, innocent norwegian father” and the “evil foreign mother taking advantage of the system”. As I said on my previous post, these parent’s kids are not imaginary, they are real people that eat, need a roof, need to move around, need to go to school and that requires money, to me it’s a basic responsability that both parents support their children in an unselfish way, wherever the kids live. Why didn’t the father just move to Slovakia if he is so concern about not being able to be around his kids? If he hasn’t done anything wrong to the mother or the kids, most courts around the world would have granted him 50% of the custody but of course, this is something that does not fit the traditional norwegian’s mind…why would he have to move? He shouldn’t have to move! This, once again, feels like a patronizing and arrogant attitude to me.

Issues regarding child custody are a problem everywhere, like many of you pointed out, and unfortunately in Norway, court rulings in foreign/norwegian parents cases do in most cases benefit the norwegian part, whether it’s a male or a female. There is a general conception among norwegian goverment institutions that it’s of the child’s best interest to be norwegian and grow up in Norway. I’m surprised people don’t find this patronizing or arrogant. As the mother of an norwegian/argentinean child, I even find it insulting, despising of foreign Cultures. I’m surprised that, as Lotta pointed out, alienating of children from it’s other cultural and familiar heritage is not a concern to government official at all. Is growing up in a rich country the only thing important to the development of a child?
So I wonder, could this general conceptions about the superiority of Norway, courts favouring norwegian parents, together with the difficulties of raising a child without your family around or in a familiar culture, maybe not even being able to get a job because of being foreigner force the mother into such dramatic outcome rather than a 5000kr a month “scam”?

I guess that like Ian and Adrian pointed out, Klassenkampen would have probably looked into these possibilities whether papers like Aftenposten would try to find the smallest little detail to justify xenophobic conclusions.
As I told Ms Østtvelt, I wish someone wrote an article about the challenges of marrying a partner from a diffirent culture and being a foreigner in Norway, basically, just look at the other side of the story. She told me she couldn’t cover “all” the points in every story (What about just two, I wonder?) and that she wished she had known about the issues I mention before writing the article, because it sounded interesting. Oh well, a little research never killed anyone, but I guess that sometimes journalists simply write about the things they are suposed to write to correspond with a political line rather than doing proper journalism. Too bad that articles like this reach people that don’t questions the intentions behind an article, which ultimately contribute to the raising xenophobic attitude of not just norwegians but many people around the world.

Hey,
I am curious how many of you have experienced of have heard of experiences of such cases in other countries and can tell that only courts in Norway would rule in favor of their citizens and kids staying in Norway etc etc? Will other
countries be impartial to this and would easily send the kids away, being less supportive to their citizens?

I am asking out of curiousity to see if it’s true that ‘court rulings in foreign/norwegian parents cases do in most cases benefit the norwegian part, whether it’s a male or a female’ compared to other countries.

Who would know that?

,I’m not even going that far. The court rulings come BEFORE the going-back-home talk happens, my point is that a lot of foreign parents end up with such dramatic decision BECAUSE they see their opportunities here vanish.
After the divorce, foreign parents are usually NOT given what they ask for and added to the difficulties of finding a job, having family and friends to help them with the kids and other challenges, I’m just not surprised people end up
just leaving.

My point is that I feel that other countries are a bit more impartial when the divorcing parents are foreign/national and that that unfair treatment in Norway leads to some parents ending up leaving. Basically, if they treat you like shit, you receive no benefits, can’t get a job and can’t see your children…what are you suposed to do?

You are supposed to do your duty to your children regardless of whatever the personal cost is to yourself. If you have kids, they are your priority whether you live with them or not.
I could tell you a story that is just about as hard as anyone’s, but it would not justify my leaving Norway and abandoning them.

If you have kids here, then you apply for familiegjenforenning and carve out a life here. So what if it is hard, takes time and you have to deal with crap from people. You just do it because that is what a parent does for their child….

Mike, why would the best thing for the kids be that the mother stays in a country where she can’t get a proper job, she doesn’t have the support of her family and feels discriminated every day? THAT was the point of my frustration about the article. This is not about whether it’s fair for the mother or not, of course the parent’s needs come second when it comes to a child, but why Norway? If the mother is from another place and she feels neglected by the country wouldn’t it be for the children’s best interest to have a happy mom wherever she is?I think that you are missunderstanding my point, this is not about defending the mother’s right, but pointing out that there are several factor that affect such a dramatic decision like that and that it’s silly to simplify the situation like that.
I feel that Norway’s position on this kind of cases is xenophobic because it starts with a xenophobic assumption: It is for the best interest of the child to grow up in Norway. It’s simply an ignorant assumption. Why can’t the father just move to wherever BOTH parents have the same opportunities to provide a good life for their kids? Do you know what I mean?

I totally agree that parents should always put the children first in these cases. They should come together and make the necessary adjustments in their lives that will benefit the children most. Children have a right to a
relationship with both parents, equally – IMHO.

That said, and this is an innocent question, how does one apply for, and obtain, familiegjenforening if the family member(‘s) in Norway cannot meet the following condition:
“The family member must also be able to document that he or she is capable of supporting the person or people applying for family reunification. The person concerned must also have a place to live.”

See, e.g., http://introengelsk.cappelendamm.no/c35020/artikkel/vis.html?tid=35624

not 100% for sure, but I think a parent can apply via the child. If the child is Norwegian and the parent is not, and the child is underage I think you can be here that way. Best to ask UDI though since I’ve no ersonal experience in this area.

Thanks for the response. Interestingly, the child is American. All other conditions are the same (parent is not and child is underage). Don’t know if that helps/hurts matters. Regardless, yes, best to check with UDI.

I got my residency permit via applying on the basis of having Norwegian children, while I was a poor foreign invanderer…

What does that have to do with anything? The challenges I’m mentioning go beyond your right to get a residency thru your child or not, it’s a bit more sociological than that…It has to do with nationalism, ignorance, xenophobia…nevermind! 😉

I was answering the question asked. Sure, I added a comment at the end…But I have to say, I get a bit tired of hearing about all the xenophobia here.

I am sure it exists, but there are clearly an awful lot of people who manage to make a good life for themselves even so.

And here is something to think about….

If people are not being accepted, is it at all possible that they are not making efforts to integrate?

Do they ski?

//M

ps— 😉

“If people are not being accepted, is it at all possible that they are not making efforts to integrate?”

If this is truly a serious question, now being posed by someone who claims they are “tired” of “all the xenophobia” being expressed or the attempts by others to obtain understanding or resolution, then one would have to elaborate
on what the meaning of “accepted”, “not making efforts” and “integrate” really are.

I was born and come from the Miami and Fort Lauderdale areas of southeastern Florida. It is one of the most multi-cultural areas in the U.S. and also hosts many tourists. The economy and service sector depends on tourism. Good service is key to survival as choices and competition do compel higher standards ( I have found this to be totally lacking in Norwegian society and is best expressed by foreigners who have business or work here, and there is a system of practice in place where even Norwegian businesses admittedly don’t have as much faith in the work ethic of their fellow Norwegian as they do for foreigners in certain physical labor jobs).

Many people that live in Florida are from someplace else.  It’s diverse population is actually, in proportion, a microcosm of the diversity of the entire U.S. population. Over a ten year period it grew in population by about 26%. One of the fastest growing areas in the country during the late eighties and into the nineties.  I think at one time, about 6,000 people a week were moving to Florida, mostly southeastern Florida.

So I am used to living and doing business in this type of environment. Quite progressive and open in many respects, because it has to be.  My profession involves people in a very personal and intimate setting. With this considered, I know people and their needs quite well and had my own business in the service industry since I was eighteen-years-old. My experience dealing with people is extensive. But this does not in any way disregard the sociological issues regarding the differences and acceptance of other people who are different than yourself. That is not just a societal issue, but a human one. I could draw a long list of criticisms about living in my hometown and its people.

The population of just the two cities of the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area combined is about 5 million, which is more than the entire nation of Norway. And Florida is flat, so there are no mountain ranges or anything impeding travel
or causing some segments of the population to be isolated from others. This area of Florida is one huge sprawling suburb, turning from its natural beauty into a series of strip malls, box homes and parking lots (in that
respect, it ain’t pretty any longer).

To move from my home environment to Norway is a dramatic change. But I knew in many ways that it would be. And that adaptation would be key to my survival, thriving, happiness, raising a family and perhaps spending the rest of my life residing here. Will there be difficulties and even obstacles? Yes, certainly. Getting to know the environment and the obstacles is important to achievement as a foreigner. If you moved here, live in a major city, acquired a good job, started a family and “got it made” with little or no problems, then good for you. I know there are several of you here who have done just that and are usually the first ones to start dismissing or debating others who indicate
otherwise.  It probably is not important nor relevant for you to discuss, consider or share regarding criticisms, difficulties or strategies to overcome difficulties as part of the process of moving to and living in Norway. In fact you may find some of the discussions to be unbelievable, exaggerated, unfathomable or just undesirable “negativity” as far as your concerned. How nice for you that perhaps you can take an invalidating or diminishing perspective and project it onto others who express otherwise. But I find nothing useful or constructive from that perspective for those who have the need to critic, understand and strategize concerning the short-comings, difficulties and obstacles they have encountered first-hand in their own experience moving and living in ANY foreign country.

Some have the luxury to be invalidating under a veneer of humor and can post about recipes, pub nights and inanities to their heart’s content. No problem. I don’t think you will be treated the same way as others have been talking
about more “serious” and “controversial” matters.

It is obvious that you should learn the language and learn it well. Not just related to a job. And one should do this even though many young Norwegians do speak very good English. It shows respect and can only serve you greatly. And it also does serve to diminish the “excuse” that some Norwegians will use to dismiss you inappropriately for not speaking good enough Norwegian, which does happen and happens quite often. I have experienced myself and heard from reliable others that the “carrot and stick” approach is often used by Norwegians in regard to lack of knowledge regarding using the Norwegian language. In moments where a foreigner should be welcomed and perhaps even show some consideration as a form of honor in their host nation, the excuse to diminish them for not knowing the language by totally “subjective” and thoroughly lacking analysis is a short-coming regarding Norwegians.

But this reality does not give me the luxury to complain, pout and not make an effort to overcome this obstacle and the solution is still the same and my gain. Learn the language and learn it well. Job #1.

More later.
K.

HOW did you manage to enter the country K?

There’s a special amendment in the Norwegian constitution saying that Floridians have no entry to the Kingdom. I’d be careful so you dont get evicted.
It used to also limit gypsies and jews from entry, but the latter two have been allowed entry after legislative adjustments.
🙂
Ebbe
PS: In the old days you could traffic kiwis on library cards.

“If this is truly a serious question”
It was only semi serious. More of an effort to move things away from the serious.
Looks like I missed…

//M

I think it is relevant in the analysis and critique of Norwegians to keep in mind that Norway is a geographically isolated country from the rest of Europe and is therefore culturally isolated.

Even genetically, the swath of people from Gothenburg, Sweden through Olso and up into Trondheim have the “purest” Nordic genes in all of Europe. (Which is why the people in Norway were part of the German breeding program” which is quite an imposition and assault on a people if you think about it. This does a lot to perhaps explain a protective attitude toward your borders, people and infrastructure” and even a firm sense of nationalism. And I believe that Norway not being an official member of the E.U. is a positive thing in this regard. To not have given up so much of its sovereignty. The economic turmoil of the EU is now becoming more than known and thus, in my opinion, illustrates a good move on Norway’s part to not have become an official member. Norway also has contained in its history a somewhat forceful domination-conversion by Christians (first Catholics and then Protestants).

Norway was also invaded and occupied by German Nazis during WWII. These types of events can very much shape the mindset and culture of a small population in a country like Norway. I don’t think the U.S. can relate to being an occupied or conquered land and subjugated by outsides in such a way. (The U.S. seems more to be destroying itself from the inside-out instead due to corruption of mind and institution) And let us not forget that prior to the discovery of oil in the late sixties, that Norway was pretty much a dirt poor country.

I do have to take these things into consideration as an outsider now living in Norway and deal with them should their historic and collective residue should influence my interactions with the people. And I do consider this to be a consideration regarding the generalization of an “unwelcoming” attitude by Norwegians towards me as an outsider. And in that snap judgment it is never considered by Norwegians that I emigrated to Norway, not immigrated. Which is a big difference in many respects.
I did not move here in desperation from some impoverished place of extreme disadvantage, nor did I move here because I was licking my chops over the next vein I could find sucking the great Norwegian Socialist Welfare system teet dry for my own benefit. Nothing could be further from the truth. But it is surprising how a spectrum of minor to severe assumptions are made on the parts of some Norwegians that it could be anything different in my case. Like blanket assertions of who I am, where I come from, my status and why I moved to Norway just being made in a less-than-flattering-light with no real information about me to go on.

But this is human nature and can be found anywhere, it just happens to be found where I am and about me so I like to address it critically, but with the intent of understanding, adapting and thriving beyond it as an obstacle”.an obstacle of other’s short-sighted , and perhaps small-minded, perceptions.

For example: just the other day, I was able to secure large sum of money to help me start a new business from my local Kommune. When I told a local Norwegian woman in a casual conversation what I had
accomplished she instantly replied, “See, this is the type of take-advantage attitude that foreigners have when they come here.” What she was saying is that because I am not Norwegian, am a foreigner and
received this aid, that I am basically a parasite.She needed no further details about me or my situation to not only arrive at this conclusion in her own mind, but show no restraint in verbalizing it. Despite the fact that I moved here with my own money, am solvent in business, quite well off, speak the language, and have lived here in Norway for five years now while working and paying into the tax system while having a Norwegian wife
and raising two children. These possibilities were not important for her to even potentially consider at all.
Fortunately, the person processing or authorizing me to get this aid did not have, or could not legally have, the same opinion and prevent me from getting it.

Based upon other’s “subjective” analysis I am condemned to always be subject to such snap and unfair judgments no matter how long I live in Norway, how successful I am, no matter how much I speak the language or anything else. It is just the way it is. And it is actually more common than I am comfortable with. The attitude I am referring to almost suggests that because you are a foreigner now living in Norway ” Your money, is really Norwegian’s money”. And this is further reinforced with an inflated nationalistic attitude and pride that Norway is so great that anyplace else is a home for ignorant turds floating in an inferior cesspool of economic, educational and moral decay. The attitude can be this extreme or lesser along a spectrum of judgments depending on who you are dealing with. And most people with this attitude are the most ignorant in the fact they have never ventured outside their own borders or seen anyplace else. It is the Norwegians that went to school or lived five to ten years in another country that have a more educated, respectable and realistic perspective in this regard.

I call this and other like-phenomena the “Norwegian Beverly Hillbilly” syndrome. (A bunch of small-minded mountain rednecks that struck oil.)
I had to remind this lady that in the late eighteen hundreds and early nineteen hundreds that over 800,000 impoverished and unemployed Norwegians traveled to America for free or cheap land and opportunity. And that the same small-minded charge could be made about Norwegians to a much more severe degree when you consider the numbers. The other Norwegians in the room instantly felt the weight of the facts as this
loud-mouthed “pølsehode” had been put in her rightful place. She then, defensively, veered off into a tangent about how many white women are raped in Oslo every week. As if this had anything to do with me and her
off-hand disrespectful and ignorant comment.

There are exceptions to this of course, but let us not diminish the realities. Disclaimer. The above post is only written and submitted for those who may find it interesting and/useful. Should you deem it not useful, unnecessary or irrelevant, then please disregard it as being meant for you and post something else entirely in parallel to it. Leave the exchange for those it is truly meant for; thank you in advance.
K.

The question is why do you stay if it so terrible……

He he Annie, don’t go there…it’s funny how these debates always have the same dynamic…someone brings an issue up, some agree and some disagree. The ones disagreeing accuse the ones agreeing of being negative and eventually come to the “why do you stay here then?” “Go home if you don’t like it” There are so many different personal reasons why each of us is here, not everyone is an expat whose company paid for his/her transfer and finds Scandinavia exciting or exotic…all I know is that a lot of us wouldn’t be if we didn’t have to, he he

Sure that learning norwegian well is the job#1, butI always wonder what are people trying to mean by sayings like “making efforts to integrate ” or “squeezing yourself into the norwegian society”…I guess it depends a bit on how many hours long is your flight trip to your homeland…

Integrate into Norwegian Society= ski, eat lakris and use that tobacco that theystick under their lips..

I know you are all kind of joking now but there’s something I still don’t get…why do I, in order to live in a place need to adopt the local ways? That includes the language too, actually. Why do I have to speak Norwegian to my
friends? Why do I have to be into skiing? I ne’er had this pressure in the US or Uk or south America. People can be who they are. Why can’t we just keep our personal identities? Those differences make life alive! 🙂

Hei P, (and the rest of those still reading this)

Then I guess you haven’t been to Kansas (my part of the US) – we’ve got the same small town mentality there as they do here. It’s simply a matter of number and exposure to foreigners. We expect foreigners to adapt to us and if they don’t well, then they can just leave. It happens all around the world. I’ve seen it in France, the UK, the US, lots of places. Everywhere you go that is not a international big city. And we all know that despite Oslo being the capital, it’s not an international big city. It simply doesn’t have the population numbers for that yet.

So it is what it is. Adapting is just a survival method. You adapt to make things easier for yourself no matter where you are. It’s human. If it’s not a change that makes you life easier, well then perhaps you souldn’t make that change. But that’s something to decide on an individual level.
So I dont think Norway is expecting unreasonable things from us, it’s just perhaps that we are expecting unreasonable things of ourselves. And if you disagree, well then perhaps it’s time to educate those Norwegians around you and try to make a change via politics or a trade union or via any of the multiple organizations for foreigners here. 🙂

Does that help?

Good point.
The “small town” mentality definitely explains a lot and often times I forget about that detail but at the same time I feel that when I have been to small places locals didn’t expect me to become them, quite the contrary at times even.
Adapting to the environment and life is definitely a survival skill, but I have never experienced this much emphasis on it. Thanks for the reply!

Great point. In fact, I’m often concerned that Saudi’s who move here are looked at so scornfully when they want to chop the hand off someone who shoplifts from their store

Here is another short story for those that may relate.

I showed up at a local school in my town to do some cleaning job for some extra Christmas cash. I awoke at five a.m. and got to work by six. The other six cleaners were sitting in a lounge drinking coffee when I showed up.
I asked them, “Where do I work and what do I do?” I was perky and ready to start the day and my work. I was then informed by this “real energetic group” that part of “the job” was to sit and drink coffee and talk/socialize with co-workers before working.

They sat for 45 minutes before getting up to work spending most of their time conversing about what was on the television show Big Brother the night before. Later, they take another 45 minute “break”. Every day started like this.
I told the boss that I can’t come in that early and first thing is sit for forty five minutes and then jump up with enthusiasm and vigor to now get my work done. That isn’t how I am built or operate. But I told her that I can come in, start working right away and work so fast and so well that I could leave the forty-five minutes early and you could still pay me for the time due to my blinding speed and efficiency. She said, “No, I couldn’t do that.”

But it would be perfectly fine for me to burn and waste forty five minutes when I came in on doing absolutely nothing but boring myself to death while getting paid for it. Also, when I walked in, the other workers offered me coffee. Which was a nice gesture. I politely replied, “No thank you, I don’t drink coffee.” In response to this they all looked at me with shock as if I just grew two heads. “Why don’t you drink coffee?” they asked. ” Because it negatively affects my sleep, isn’t healthy and fosters addiction.” I replied. Then the “Great Norwegian Wall” arose in front of their faces and I was now deemed a “disturber of the peace”.

After they saw how fast and thorough I did my work, it was now becoming obvious that my superb level of performance was not also keenly looked upon. I was not aware of it at the time, but later it was obvious that I was being
looked upon negatively because my work ethic and behavior stressed or threatened the status quo amongst the “career professionals” of toilet cleaning. It was like watching an episode on the nature channel”¦”The Cheetah v.s. The
Slugs.” “We have one here”¦one that can”¦SEE!”

 

Hmmm”¦will I ever “fit” in Norway?
I don’t smoke or suck on snus, nor do I “hang out” with those that do.

I find having to walk through clouds of smoke on my way into the grocery store or even, believe it or not, into the local hospital to be offensive. But it does bring me comfort that the esteemed around me are participating in self-suicide. Somehow makes my day a bit brighter while I involuntarily inhale second-hand smoke. And I do find those emaciated wrinkled ladies with the cracked lips and deep yellow teeth to be”¦most attractive.

I don’t have any tattoos or body piercings, nor am I into black metal. I left all my sleeveless “wifebeater” t-shirts back home and now have nothing to wear in the summer.

And I am not that hung up on the memory and visage of Elvis Presley or Route 66″¦and any other “dead” Americana that isn’t even popular in America any longer.

I don’t drink alcohol”¦including wine, beer or aquavit”¦nor do I like to “hang out” in bars where alcohol is served, nor “hang out” with those who do drink while they drink. And I am certainly not a recliner-dwelling home brewer either. (If I have to hang out in such a place to play a good game of pool or listen some good music then that may be the exception)

I don’t drink coffee or tea”¦and if I were, five cups would definitely be my limit.

I don’t do drugs”¦including pain medications, anti-depressants and psychotropic drugs.

I don’t eat sugar, candy or drink any soft drinks especially artificially sweetened Pepsi Zero”¦nor do I suck on and consume whole sugar cubes at tea time (That is an odd sight).

I don’t eat pre-packaged convenience foods or frozen hubcap pizza like Grandiosa. I don’t even own or eat microwavable food. I don’t think I could afford pre-packaged foods they are so damn expensive”¦McDonalds for four people is like a hundred bucks.

I don’t like processed meat products, nor do I consider them delicacies”¦this includes cold cuts, hot dogs, køttkaker and fiskkaker. In fact, I find køttkaker to be the most disgusting substance created by
humankind and the horrific experience is only perfectly accented if served afterward with the second most disgusting substance created my humankind”¦marzipan.

I prefer real butter over fake margarines or simulacra spreads.

I don’t eat bread, including the most dense gut-bomb intestinal-fill ever created called bøller, but prefer eating whole grains.

I only eat potatoes about once or twice a month”¦and skinned and boiled to the ultimate in dryness then served with an MSG laden brown sauce ain’t it for me.

And anyone, I repeat”¦ANYONE, who puts Norvegia and/or Jarlsberg cheese on a pizza and calls it “good” needs to have their head examined, unless you thoroughly think that pizza that smells and tastes like vulcanized rubber asscrack is “delicious”.

I don’t watch much television or movies”¦and certainly don’t emulate the Hollywood, the celebrity scene or media-hyped fads.

I do not deny that any culture that Norway attempts to emulate comes across as second-rate buffoonery very much in the same way Las Vegas is known for its over-produced “cheesiness”. (Whomever that young Norwegian male violinist is that won some music contest and is now plastered all over the place”¦”¦.well, you just need to know two words “corny” and “weird”.)

I don’t like it when women walk in public with extremely noisy “clackity” shoes”¦.makes me think a horse is riding up behind me.

I don’t like to wear a scarf, and since coming to Norway, deem it an overly-done fashion accessory.

I don’t highlight my hair with blond streaks and then spike it with a liter of stiffening hair gel while wearing ultra-thin pants with Converse sneakers”¦somehow now resembling some small rodent on acid and amphetamines.

Is it me or do most Norwegians all look alike?

I don’t play video games, nor do I own a “Wii”.
I don’t define myself by what kind of car I drive or the brand of clothes that I wear. People who drive Volvos”¦”bother” me.

I ski, but after about an hour”¦I find it ultimately boring and it kind of hurts my feet.

Icefishing???(…Oh my God!!! I must go now”¦and slice my wrists.)

I do prefer public toilets that don’t charge me to wade in filth and 1950’s décor.

And I prefer to have in-depth and meaningful, but humorous, discourse instead of replying with a series of grunts, snorts and grimaces.

And when I am really feeling disheartened, nothing makes me feel better than to go to an FrP rally and listen to Syv Jensen talk perfect sense”¦she’s just great isn’t she??? (not)

More Later,

K

Hehe, this should probably open a new chapter in those texts with ‘You know you’ve been living enough in Norway when….’ Yet, except for winter related stuff, those things you list here as maybe being
specific to Norway, are things I have noticed in all the European countries I have traveled so far. Smoking, drinking, same clothes, hairstyle, food on tables, TV shows, copying this and that. So I’d just expand all that to Europe,
while lacking the experience of other continents.

I guess I should say that I am not really advocating spitting on people… But it is a measure of just how much it offends me that people are so inconsiderate that they pollute others air with their foul emissions….

If they would just not do it in an area where you are forced to walk by, it would be so much better…

//M

I feel that way about people driving cars… i dont own or drive a car and it offends me that i have to suffer because of someone elses laziness.

That is a fair point.

In my, and many other’s defence, it is a long way to walk to work. Over 40 kilometers for me… On the other hand, do you know how many cars I see on E6 with a passenger in it
(other than the driver)? None. None. None… Isn’t that amazing?

Sure, I drive to work alone sometimes, but mostly there are two of us, as I drop my wife at a bus station near to my office. There must be others that could share a ride but don’t…

Maybe there should be a national ‘ride share’ campaign. //M

 

Well frankly they should show more humility and gratitude. If it were not for the English speaking nations, the Norwegians would be goose stepping down Karl johans gate barking in German.

Interview in spottedbylocals

The website that I am happily collaborating with, spottedbylocals, has made this interview with me and it can be seen as part of my view so far on the city of Oslo and life here. Read it at this link: http://www.spottedbylocals.com/oslo-interview-with-andrea-chirulescu/
Cheers!
Andrea

Norwegian Christmas/winter treats

Every country has its traditions when it comes to what people usually serve for Christmas dinners. But nowadays there’s also a lot of traditions of products that appear on shops’ shelves sometime in November and vanish in January. Or at least that’s the case in Norway. You obviously find similar ones all year long, but during the winter season they might have this extra something that makes them more special. Even if sometimes it’s only the box they are sold in.
After moving to Norway, it was a pleasant surprise to discover those of the Norse. I will mention them in random order, but will have to start with Julebrus, since it’s like a cult for some good friends here. It is a Reddish/Brownish soda, with a tad of ginger/vanilla flavor, but the chemical taste of soda altogether. Very tasty, but I wouldn’t exaggerate with it.
Then you have these Seven Sorts which refers to the seven traditional Norwegian Christmas cakes and cookies. I will make a list of those I have heard of (seems that there are more than 7 anyway), without commenting on their taste since I haven’t personally tried them all of Pepperkake (gingerbread sometimes flavored with black pepper), Fattigmann (Poor Man), Ingefærnøtter (Ginger nuts), Tykklefser (read here about Lefse), Krumkaker (Curved Cake), etc. As I said, most products can be found all year long, but just adding the word Jule in front of their name and packing them in a Christmas-spirit bag or box adds something extra. For example Christmas marzipan is often shaped as a pig or just dressed in chocolate and is sold as Julemarsipan, Mixed nuts become Julenøtter, while the usual mix of chocolates become all of a sudden Jule miks. Risgrøt – Norwegian rice porridge – becomes very important this time of the year. Especially when served with Gløgg, a wine that Norwegians used to drink at Christmas time and now it turned into a syrup that you can eventually mix with wine or spirit. It is made with cloves and cinnamon, and served warm with a helping of almonds and raisins. You can even be invited to a Grøt&Gløgg party where a combination of the last two mentioned items is served.
Since beer drinking is at high rank in this land, the breweries can’t miss their chance to enhance the products this time of the year. Hence the shelves will provide you with a wide selection of Christmas beer (JuleØl), usually darker and stronger than the regular one of the same brand.

As for ‘normal’ food, I learned is that there are two main Christmas courses, depending from which side of Norway you come from – Pinnekjøtt for West/North and Ribbe (svineribbe) for th rest. None of them is vegetarian friendly – Pinnekjøtt is made of lamb and it involves a special meat preparation process (read here), while ribbe (ribs) is coming from the mighty pig and it involves some roasting to end up with a crunchy yummee skin (found some info here). As side dishes for the two of them, there’s a lot of sweet and/or sour redcabbage (rødkål) involved. If none of these two appeal to you, there’s probably other goodies to pick from while at a Christmas dinner in Norway: Julepølse (Pork sausage made with powdered ginger, cloves, mustard seeds and nutmeg which can be served steamed or roasted) or medisterkaker – (large meatballs made by mixing pork meat and pork fat).
After (or together) with all this fat, your stomach might really use few sips of Akevitt (Akvavit or whatever spelling you might find for it). You can use any of the excuses to ingest some of that 40% of alcohol spirit – makes the food taste better, slide better down the esophagus, you forget how much you ate, etc.
If you’re really after something not cooked nor distilled, you can grab one of the yumme clementines that Norwegians tend to stack a lot for this time of the year. And that is a really good habit, especially since you can find all sorts of these sweet and sour sources of vitamins.
Maybe it’s worth mentioning in the end, even if not a traditional Christmas food as in many places it might be an all year round food, the lutefisk. I haven’t tried it yet and do not intend to do so in the near future. But just so you know you might get it served and not to look surprised when you see THAT brought on your plate.
God Jul!

Norwegian time

As a consequence of a debate I had with some colleagues on the way home, I’m writing an article about how time is told here in Norway, since it felt weird at the beginning, considering my Romanian background.

It all started with the fact that when they say ‘Half three’ for example, it doesn’t mean half past three, it means half to three. Unlike in Romanian or in English, where a half defines the time that has passed since the 00, and not prior to that. And for extra entertainment, minutes between XX:20 and XX:40 (or maybe 15 and 45, not quite sure) are sometimes told as ‘3 minutes to half three’ meaning 2:27. It’s quite an easy trick, if you think of it, to keep your mind occupied with a bit of maths, but it always adds long pauses in the conversation between a native speaker and someone who’s learning the language, since the later stops to play a bit with numbers. Oh, and speaking of numbers, they reference the numbers between 20 and 100 as, for example, 6 and thirty (aka 36).

In the debate today, the example given was ‘when you say you eat half a bread, you don’t mean a bread and a half’ – a bread and a half implying the Romanian/English way where you start with the unit and add a half. But on the other hand, you started with one full bread – else it would be quite a challenge to eat half of zero bread. And from its start til its half, you ate half of it. If you come to think of it, a logic may be found in the way of rounding the positive numbers, since you round to the next higher number, hence tit might make sense to say the half left TO the next hour rather than the one which just passed. On the other hand, if you ever consider that there was a time 0, before which it was only the scary nothing, then Norwegian system fails since there can’t be a half hour prior to that.

I heard the same system is used in German language. No idea about other Germanic languages though, but just in case you ever have a time-related misunderstanding with a Thor’s descendant, don’t take it personally. Not even half of it.

Øya festivalen 2010 – part 1

Videos available here http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=656C9BCF215BE3C4

A festival that started back in 1999 with just a handful of bands and grew up to need 6 stages in 2010 where hundred of bands perform. And let’s not forget the Øyanatt every day after the festival and klubdaggen the day before, during which tons of other artists perform in plenty of clubs and bars all over Oslo. The festival is more or less a city event now, no longer just an area with stages, music and crowd. The main action happens in the Middelalderen park in Oslo, a place that hosts the ruins of a church from around 1200 and a nice little lake, adding a special charm to the event. But the organisers try to take good care of the historical place, trying to convince the people not to sit on them or vandalise them. Besides that, the whole festival is under the sign of color green, as it promotes a lot of ecological systems (electric cars, bikes that produce power, recycling devices) and it was actually a pleasant surprise to see how clean the place is at the beginning of the next day. Unfortunately it is also under the sign of rain for the first day, yet it got really excellent at the end despite the Wednesday with rain pouring down from the sky and making the area a really messy swamp at various places where people pass by the most. A thing I love about the festival though is that it addresses all ages and all music genres enthusiasts. You see on the playlist names from the darkest of black metal to African rhythm based music, to techno and electronic and to acoustic stuff. It brings a different color to it, compared to most other festivals I go to (considering they’re all metal) and it also allows people to bring their kids along, which make the whole atmosphere more friendly and happy when they run around with their huge ear protections and pretty little faces painted as all sorts of creatures.

About 5 on Wednesday PM when I initially wanted to leave from home, it was simply pouring down so I waited a bit more to decide upon the choice of clothes and shoes and all. When I got there, the French electronic melodic pop duo AIR started to perform on the Sjøsiden stage. I stayed for 2 songs just enough to take some photos, but I was not at all impressed by the effects pulled out through the various keyboards that both dudes played at. Nor by the robotic voice that one of them used to talk to the crowd. So I rushed to the smallest stage, Camp Indie, located in a small tent close to the exit. Considering the stage also hosts something like a record store where you can purchase vinyls and CDs, plus some couches by the walls, more than 30 people in there make it feel crowded.

I went to this small stage to watch Therese Aune as what I read as a description of her music sounded good. She played on the keyboards herself, but on the stage she was accompanied by other 4 people: a girl with a violin, one with a cello, a guy with accordion (who stepped on stage right from the middle of the audience) and a guy at ‘drums’. Drums being a cymbal and a big snare drum, covered with some cloth on which various noise making objects were displayed, so the guy was hitting them for a multitude of cool effects. He even played the cymbal with a … ah, can’t remember the word for what one uses to play the violin with. And Therese with voice and keys, as I said, plus a very old style small piano at the end. The songs were very cozy and sweet, but the voice was mind blowing. I kept thinking about Regina Spektor for the whole concert as Therese’s voice seemed as powerful and flexible, and I believe this girl can have a big future if she keeps on with her music.

On the main stage, Enga, it was soon time for the highlight of the day, Iggy & The Stooges. He’s definitely one of the ugliest singers I ever saw and the fact that he plays without tshirt, showing each wrinkle on his body, makes it even worse. But it’s easy to get over it once he starts playing. His energy, considering his age, seemed limitless and he danced and ran along the stage all the time. And the dance moves are his trademark and one of a kind at times, especially when he shakes his butt. I am not so familiar with the Stooges’ songs though, but it was a nice surprise to see the crowd around me recognising them, screaming and singing along. At the 3rd song or so he asked people to come on stage and dance and some of those who did went really wild up there. I got lucky to film this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fFqEn8QNP0A The crowd in front got a special treat, twice actually, when Iggy went down from the stage and walked by the people in front shaking their hands and having them sing in the microphone. I’m really happy I got to see him live.

I went to the new stage called Klubben, which is a really huge tent occupying a new area allocated to the festival I think, and there I saw some songs from Shinning (Norwegian band). I thought they played mainly jazz, but their music was something very brutal combined with jazz. It sounded elevated to say so, but not something to enjoy from the very first live audition. It takes more time to digest it, so I left rather quickly to meet up with some friends and we decided to check out M.I.A. for a little while before heading home. I wish we skipped the checking part, as for about two songs there was a girl playing the DJ on stage then some other two girls came and repeated the same ‘ooohs’ and ‘aaahs’ and few other words all over again on a techno/electro backing music. Nice light beans coming from the stage though and projecting funny effects on the trees and crowd. But not nice enough to have me stay any longer.

Thursday, sun, good mood, people sitting on the grass eating something from the decent variety of foods sold there, drinking beer or wine, dancing, etc. I went straight to the Klubben scene to see Wardruna, who describe themselves as a Norwegian musical constellation set out to explore and evoke the depths of Norse wisdom and spirituality. A rather empty tent so I found myself a place right in front and got the chance to closely study the really odd ‘instruments’ on stage. I mean, some of them may be called instruments (eer-hide frame drums and ceremonial drums, mouth harp, clove / hoof rattles from deer and goat, bone flute, goat and cow horns, Hardanger fiddle and bowed lyres – this I copied from their website, but I am pretty sure they had most of them on the stage). But there was also a tree trunk on which one of them was drumming. And one of the girls had two bones that she was hitting together to make an interesting sound. Nothing spectacular in terms of lights or effects, but who needed them when all you had to do was close your eyes and just get transposed in a totally fantastic old time through their music. I loved every second of this concert. Every scream or whisper or normal voice, both from the male part (including Gaahl and Kvitrafn) and the two female singers who gave me goosebumps all the time with their singing.

I hardly cared about anything else that day after I have seen one of the most beautiful concerts, but I came back to the Klubben stage to hear Nachtmystium as they were introduced as probably the only black metal band from USA. Indeed they had some black metal in their music, but overall totally different from what I am used to when it comes to the evil sounds from Europe. Besides, except the guitar solos, most of their music was way too repetitive and the stage lights were blinking/changing color faster than I could blink so I started getting dizzy and just left. I caught the end of LCD Soundsystem on the main stage but my tolerance level for electro music is really low, so I kept myself busy with other stuff until it ended. Next up, on one of the side stages, Vika, were the Norwegians from The Cumshots, one of the projects of a local star, Kristopher Schau, comedian, actor, TV and radio host. The music is described as Death ‘n’ roll, and even if not the catchiest ever, the stage performance is really intense and every second you expect that someone would get injured. The singer jumps high in the air making him seem much bigger than he already is, he runs around screaming and the guitarists just keep up with him. They got really famous as during one of their concerts, a couple had sex on stage, and maybe the crowd always expects something extreme during their performance. But I didn’t stay to wait for that, as I was recommended to see the band on the main stage.

Pavement – one of the most influential American indie/alternative rock of the 90s who split around 1999. And this year they have a reunion tour and who knows if one gets to see them ever again, so it was quite an occasion to watch their performance. Unfamiliar with their music, it was nice to hear their tunes who at times made you feel like experiencing a jam session instead of a previously composed music as the guitarists were running from riff to riff. One of them in particular enjoyed performing his solos with the guitar over his head. Drumming has a lot of rhythm changes and to my surprise, I saw two drummers at some point. Previously, the 2nd drummer was only hitting a cymbal, but later on he got himself more stuff to play at. And I’m pretty sure he did some vocals at times, so he must be a multi instrumentalist in the band. The music reminded me either a bit or Sonic Youth and whenever the camera was focused on the crowd in front, there was someone knowing the lyrics to the songs. So the audience responded very good to the lively performance.

Øya festivalen 2010 – part 2

It had rained all morning of Friday the 13th but the luck smiled upon the festival in the afternoon, and it got way too hot at times. A bit of research on Spotify or main website, before heading to the festival grounds, made me decide to check out Trash Talk. I can hardly remember much about their music since from the very first second I got next to the stage, among a really shy crowd, I saw the singer jumping off the stage and going in the middle of the non moving attendants. There he started singing/screaming, running around, asking folks to start running in circle and altogether he barely spent some minutes with the rest of the band on the stage. There were a bunch of about 7-8 guys who were obviously part of the show since they kept following the singer, ran to his microphone and sang along and tried to start moshpits themselves. Or moved around swinging their arms in the air. So I guess that if the present Norwegians happened to be more of the ‘extreme concert behavior’ type, this would have gone really mad.

Going back in the sunlight, to my surprise, the main stage was full of people dressed in orange, the singer was climbed on the shoulders of someone dressed with a black bear concert and among the orange folk, there was a big red/blue inflated doll looking like a computer game character or a wrong version of Superman. This was Flaming Lips’ performance and I think that prior to their concert, there was an ad saying they are looking for dancers on stage. Now I understood why. It was really fun to watch, not always great to hear, music tending to get too psychedelic. They even played the song used at American funerals and had a speech about war end and peace before the march started, and asked everyone in the audience to show the peace sign. So, to conclude, a peaceful concert.

Time for a new reprise of thrash, although way more hardcore, from the Norwegians of Purified in Blood. I was nicely impressed by their performance at Norway Rock and was looking forward to see them again. And there’s a lot to watch on stage, considering the band has about 7 members, out of which two are vocals and each of them just moves around the stage at all times. Or goes into the crowd like one of the singers did. Their discography is not very vast yet, since they recently reunited, but the crowd reacted well to the songs from their first album and the band was happy to introduce their newest production.

On the main stage I finally got to see John Olav Nilsen & Gjengen, a young band from Bergen, Norway, who currently only has one album out but it got such good reviews and has brought them the main prize at Spellemannsprisen. Hence, going in the middle of the crowd to watch this made the concert twice as good. Actually, the performance itself is nothing extreme, except maybe the keyboard player who is overly enthusiastic. But when everyone around you sings and screams and knows each word, you cannot but enjoy what you see and hear.

The blackest concert of the festival took place in the Klubben tent. Actually I am really happy with the addition of this covered stage, since concerts like Wardruna, 1349 or Altaar would have totally been wasted in the daylight (it gets dark around 10:30 PM now). So, back to the front row in the tent to have a look at the black metalers from 1349 (Friday the 13th was quite a good day to see them) who came on stage with corpse paint, spikes, bullet belts, and even a cape worn by the bassist. I spent most of the time headbanging and staring at the drummer who despite the incredible speed he was blasting at, he seemed like the most relaxed person on earth who is about to read a newspaper and enjoy a coffee. They have an album out this year, so they covered quite a lot of stuff from it that was unfamiliar to me.

On the way out, I stopped for two songs to checkout The Specials. A bunch of people on stag with trumpets, guitars and other instruments needed to deliver their ska to the public. And the people loved it since I’ve never seen so many of them dancing at a concert at this festival. I ran towards the main stage to grab some beer, heard half a Robyn song and considering how dull that sounded, I had to go back to the Specials and dance along with the rest of the people. It was a good way to move the rest of my body after killing my neck at 1349. Altogether, this was a great day, way beyond expectations.

As for the last day of the festival, I have to make it short since it was way less interesting than the others. It won at the chapter for good weather though, as is was really sunny and at some point I just sat with my friends and melted for a long time, not having the mood to move a finger. I went to see Altaar but left after some 15 minutes, time in which they were not done with their experimental song and I would guess the whole concert was a song or so. Paul Weller was nice rock pop background music to enjoy while getting toasted. Then it was a long time of gossiping the crowd passing by, waiting for the local rappers from Karpe Diem to start singing. They were loved by the crowd, but as I was strongly recommended to go see Converge, I relocated to the Vika stage and stood next to my friends, by the fence, in front of the stage. 10 seconds after I got there, I got squashed by the moshpit that just started behind me. And it kept on, to the delight of the photographers and the surprise of the singer. His face kept on inquiring ‘really??’ and he threw the microphone twice into the crowd. Absolutely insane concert and after 5 minutes he looked like coming out from the swimming pool as the sun was shining straight on the stage and in his face. And the guitarist had the coolest looking transparent guitar of the festival.

Back to the place on the grass, with drinking beer and doing nothing while waiting for Motorpsycho. And while listening to Motorpsycho actually. The hard/progressive band from Trondheim, who started their career back in ’89, had a poll on the festival’s page asking the people to vote what album should be performed. The winner was Timothy’s Monster, a 2 CD release from 1994, a blend of melodic and psychedelic songs, with a touch of Zeppelin or maybe Sonic Youth. But certainly quick changes of rhythm, or not necessarily changes, but weird additions of a riff or a beat, to an already existing rhythm. With some simple, soft acoustic blends in between. There was nothing fancy about their show, just good instrumental performance by the trio and a tired crowd (or maybe at a certain level of drunkenness) who didn’t respond quite as expected for a final concert on the main stage. But the organisers made up for the disappointing end as they offered us a nice fireworks show that lit the sky over the sea in the fjord for quite a while and had some spectacular explosions to watch.

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