Saturday, November 19, 2005
What the hell kind of regulation is that, anyway? Do we (in America) have federal laws that tell the various states what kinds of products can and cannot be produced by private parties within their borders? I mean, I'm not even a Dane, but my wife and daughter are Danish and the craven obsequity of this paragraph makes my skin crawl on their behalf:
Armed with the escalating production figures, the [Danish] government is prodding the European Union for permission to produce wine with etiquettes indicating the region, grape type, and vintage.
Friday, November 18, 2005
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
How do I draw such a rash conclusion? Because of this recent statement from Turkey's sitting Prime Minister (who may in fact have been standing at the time) Recep Tayyip Erdogan:
"Freedom of speech is important, but it's more important, what's sacred for me. I would never abuse my freedom of speech to attack things that are sacred for Anders Fogh Rasmussen," said Erdogan.
"It's therefore with deep regrets that I've been following the current developments. We have things that are sacred to us, and no one should attack these things. You have to respect my faith, as much as I respect yours. Otherwise we can never speak of a world where we live together in peace and harmony," said Erdogan.
Monday, November 14, 2005
Louise Frevert is an interesting case study in something. You may remember Frevert as the Folk Party politician who got into trouble over racist remarks on her website earlier this year. Now she's apparently getting massive exposure on the eve of tomorrow's elections.
I haven't seen any of the forged posters referred to in this article, but there are links to still shots from her youthful exploits here (stand warned: although it's not a pornographic site, in this post about Frevert's past they do have links to extremely pornographic images).
A couple of new advertisements on television have also had me thinking about the different American and Danish/Euro attitudes about sex.
In one, a young man is going down on a young woman when he suddenly lifts his head up to spit out a bit of fluff... bit of hair on his tongue or something. The girl looks embarrassed or offended, but then he repeats the muffled spitting sound again, and again, and next thing you know it's a bass line. The girl smiles, picks up the mobile phone on her nightstand, and cues up "Like a Virgin." As it begins to play, her lover lowers her head back to her loins and she leans back with a beatific smile.
In the other, a young woman in bed gets a video message on her mobile phone from a friend at a big party or concert or something. "You gotta come," the friend is saying, "this party is huge!" But the girl in bed is not convinced. "Not now, thanks," she replies into the camera-end of her mobile phone, "I've got something bigger right here!" And she lowers the phone under the quilts toward the crotch of the young man we now see she's in bed with.
There's a third ad I think I've already mentioned, in which three girls step up to a bar, order chilled Jagermeister, then giggle and cover their breasts after the Jager shots cause their nipples to stiffen conspicuously.
I just can't imagine seeing any of these ads in the states. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing, but it's clearly a thing and I've been meaning to mention it.
So I have.
But I've been writing all this pointless political pontification at the expense of indulging my paternal pride. I ought, for example, to have shared this series of pictures at least a week ago:
Notice that the cap is on the bottle.
At about this point Molli Malou got tired of sprinkling "pretend" hot sauce all over her meal, so before we could stop her she jammed the top of the bottle into her mouth and sucked hungrily at it. Immediate reaction:
Full disclosure: I'm exaggerating. No child was hurt in the production of these photographs. Molli did appear to get a little hot sauce off the top of the bottle, and wasn't exactly thrilled about it, but she didn't really freak out until we snatched the bottle away from her. So you don't have to call social services after all.
Besides, Molli does appear to enjoy spicy food, within limits. I spice my lunch soups to the point that Trine calls them "pepper soup," but our daughter seems to enjoy them as much as I do. Molli also likes Danish blue cheese, gorgonzola, and even mellem-lagret (as opposed to mild) Danish cheeses. (Most American adults I know are, say, unenthusiastic about anything mellem-lagret or stronger.)
One afternoon last week I went to pick up Molli at her mormor's: no sooner had mormor opened the front door of her apartment than Molli caught sight of me and squealed excitedly, "Da-dee! Da-dee! Da-dee!" It was the first time she'd called me daddy so unambiguously. This is one of the great moments of your life, I told myself. I hurried over to Molli to share all the love and awe that was overwhelming me. She shrieked, ran away, and started to cry. Remember that she did that, I told myself.
Chekhov in a Nutshell
It is a strange behavior, the way Molli and other children her age get so obviously thrilled by the sudden appearance of a loved one—then suddenly have no idea what to do with all their emotions and typically end up crying or turning away or ignoring them altogether. I guess it's no stranger than wanting to eat paper, chew keys, or climb radiators, but it's much more personal.
Even before last week's triumphant realization that we can be addressed as daddy and mor (more on mor below), Molli would often light up as soon as she saw us arriving to pick her up at vuggestue. She'd run straight toward us with giggles and a big smile. Then she'd falter a few steps short of us and pretend she wasn't really that excited after all. It struck me as an astonishing level of emotional manipulation for someone of her age until I saw the same behavior exhibited by some of her classmates. Thinking back, I could even remember her cousins doing the same:
I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you — wait a second, you're no big deal, never mind—look, a leaf!
The fact that every toddler seems to do this suggests it's hard-wired into us. I'm going to go out on a limb and declare this Chekhov's great secret. Didn't see that coming, did you? Neither did I. But I had to declare something once I announced I was going to go out on a limb, and I really didn't know what to say. On reflection, I think "Chekhov's Great Secret" was pretty good.
What the hell are you talking about?
If you've never seen or read Chekhov, never mind. But if you have, take another look at that toddler formulation: I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you — wait a second, you're no big deal, never mind—look, a leaf! Isn't that every Chekhov character in a nutshell?
The more I think about it, the more I see all kinds of toddler behaviors in his major characters. That's probably just because he was one of the best illustrators of character ever, and toddlerhood is the true window to our soul.
From now on I'm going to look for the latent toddler in everyone I meet.
More on Mor
The Danish word for "mom" or "mommy" is mor, pronounced more or less as a Bostonian might pronounce "more". But that's not what you hear Danish children call their mothers. Instead they turn it into a two-syllable word: mo-ar. (Which is, I suppose, actually even closer to how a Bostonian would pronounce "more": Danes drop their trailing R's just like Bostonians—it's one aspect of Danish that my New England upbringing has made a little easier.)
When Molli Malou says what you or I would hear as "more," she really does means "more," although she's much more likely to say "mee-ya" (for the Danish mere) in those cases. When she's talking about or to her mother, though, it's almost always the two-syllable "mo-ar" (or "mo-ah"). Once in a rare while, if she's talking to me, she'll say "mommy" when referring to her mother. I find that interesting. I've never heard her refer to me as far, probably because Trine and her family have done a much better job of referring to me as "daddy" in Molli's presence than I have of referring to Trine as mor.
She's also recently aced nej and no. She knows both and isn't shy about using them. At first it was cute: we'd be telling her not to do something and would bark out a stern, "no!" Then she'd kind of backpedal away from the activitiy and shake her head, muttering, "no no nej nej no nej no nej..."
But she's evolved. First of all, she's learned that she can use the magic n-word in either language to refuse things. That's very helpful when she's saying "no," "nej," "nah," or "naw" to decline a piece of fruit or a cup of milk. It's much easier and more pleasant to deal with a verbal "no," after all, than a vicious swipe of the hand that invariably sends everything flying. It's much less pleasant, though, when it comes to things like changing diapers or getting dressed.
Even worse, she's learned that our word isn't universal law: that just because we're saying "no" as she reaches out for the catfood, it doesn't mean she can't get a handful into her mouth before we actually get close enough to physically stop her.
It would be useful if we could give her a little electric shock every time we said "no" and she disobeyed us, but probably that would run afoul of some overprotective legislation—legislation that I promise you was not drafted by parents.