Quaint Local Pronunciation

My boss at the Academy of Letters used to head the National Archives. Here’s a story he told over coffee the other day.

Some decades ago a delegation of Swedish archivists was driving across the American Midwest to visit a Mormon microfilming facility. Stopping in a small town for lunch, they noticed that it had an unusual name in a Native American language. At a fast food restaurant, the head of Stockholm’s town archives asked the cashier,

“Excuse me miss, we’re from Sweden and this place has such an unusual name. Could you please tell me how to pronounce it?”

The young lady stared at him for a moment, and then said loudly and slowly,

“BURR-GERR KING!”

Advertisements

Mutual Support

Early 20th century, a newlywed couple celebrates their wedding night at a hotel. In the morning, the young man chivalrously pricks his finger with his pen knife and smears some blood on the bedsheet.

50 happy years later, the couple returns to the hotel to celebrate their anniversary. And in the morning, the woman can finally return the favour. She blows her nose on the bedsheet.

He’s Not Annoying

Juniorette: “So Thomas had his semla cream bun and he said he liked it, but later he threw up.”

Me: “Thomas? Is he a new boy in your class? Haven’t heard of him before?”

Juniorette: “No, he’s not annoying. Not very.”

Singer And Jowly Do Drugs On The Commuter Train

Friday was quite a day for me: wake up at 5 after a restless night, travel by air, give test lecture, get praised beyond belief, eat excellent mutton & cabbage, do very friendly interview, become optimistic, meet up with local skeptical buddy, return home. Then a metal gig headlined by Graveyard, whose stellar new album Hisingen Blues is a must for all Zeppelin fans, preceded by Top Hawk with a basso singer and Horisont as fine openers, the latter with a particularly impressive drummer and an 80s-style high-tenor singer. (All three bands also had technically brilliant lead guitarists who looked really shy and introverted.)

I caught the 00:15 commuter train home, and had an encounter that I’d like to share with you, Dear Reader.

I was reading Jane Austen’s Persuasion on my phone (in preparation for a Regency LARP two weeks from now: I’m Mr. William Elliot) when a 40ish man in a purple shirt and no coat sat down across from me. He had a clean-shaven head (except for his eyebrows), jowly cheeks and a paunch. He seemed tired and paid me no attention. Then a short guy the same age sat down next to me, immediately shook my hand and started to talk. He was short, well-dressed, wearing a stylish little hat, and had Near Eastern looks & accent. He smelled strongly of wine and spoke incoherently, alternately singing snippets of Bellman and Vreeswijk and trying to get people sitting around to join in. I put my phone in my pocket and obediently sang along on some tunes, though he didn’t know the lyrics very well. He told me he was a poet and had once been klubbmästare party-section manager at an Uppsala student’s nation, where he’d made friends with one of my colleagues.

Soon it turned out that Jowly, who mainly seemed to want to sleep, was Singer’s buddy, and the latter kept trying to get him into the conversation. Jowly wasn’t very forthcoming, but suddenly he opened his eyes and said urgently (and irrelevantly), “Cooling systems for mainframe computers! The Americans have got it all wrong! They don’t know how to solve the problem!” Here he was interrupted by some singing from his buddy, but then he got back on track and said, “The cooling, it’s my brother, you know, he’s sort of a semi-savant!”

Here came another interruption when Singer asked me if I wanted some pills. Ignoring my demurral he asked Jowly for the two he gave him before, but Jowly said he’d already taken those, and so Singer got out a pharmacy-style box of pill blisters from which he extracted two yellow/green capsules. “This is like cocaine, I promise! Strong shit! Have some!” The guy broke open a capsule and poured out a white powder onto the base of his left thumb. When I still didn’t want any, he held out his hand to Jowly, who eagerly bent forward and vacuumed the stuff up, spreading some across his cheek and upper lip. Singer snorted a capsule too and helped Jowly clean up, while I curiously took the box and read the label.

“Fluoxetine. Against anxiety and depression. One capsule daily. Prescribed for Mr. This-and-that by Dr. So-and-so.”

I didn’t know what Fluoxetine is. But the writing on the box also informed me that the drug was an SSRI, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. That made me laugh a little. The substance is in fact more widely known as Prozac. It will just maybe lighten your flagging mood and dampen its swing amplitude somewhat if you take it regularly for months, though your mileage may vary considerably. And I’m pretty sure that regardless if you eat it or snort it, it isn’t psychoactive at all in the short term. These bozos thought they were getting high off of Singer’s physician-prescribed mild antidepressants, that don’t even carry the “don’t drive” triangle.

When we reached my stop, Singer was loudly and happily singing the “raï-rattiratti-raïraïraï-raïraï” kid’s choir chorus from one of Cornelis Vreeswijk’s hits along with some teens two boxes over, and Jowly was slumped in his seat. As I got up, Singer shook my hand again and said it had been a pleasure.

Hot Troll/Cow Action in Big One Magazine

i-b922baacb2d7769a04c62023179eb0ad-Bamse.jpg

Bamse magazine is one of Sweden’s most beloved childrens’ publications, with a readership mainly about age 10. Its title character’s name does mean “The Big One”. But still, I must say that I was as surprised as Bamse himself and the squirrel when I saw what that troll is doing with such glee to the cow on the cover. Also, I wonder if those are silicone udders.

On My Mind, Sunday

i-5e0099677c2f22a08f36e04bff23bf75-library_nomad_codes.jpg

  • I’m a single dad now for two weeks while my wife’s in China shooting interviews for a documentary series.
  • Aard’s been getting a lot of comment spam lately, and the filter isn’t working properly, so I’ve turned on comment moderation.
  • After digging in that cave I did four hours of metal detecting at the Lilla Härnevi hoard site because it has been ploughed and harrowed since April when we were there in force. Only one semi-worthwhile metal find: one of those fyrk coins of Queen Christina’s. Also two pieces of knapped imported flint, and Magdalena found a grindstone. No hoard bits.
  • I bought two LED lamps for the cave dig. When I put batteries into one of them it emitted a puff of smoke smelling of burnt circuitry. Never seen AA batteries do that before. The other lamp worked though.
  • 8-y-o Juniorette held her own against three adults at Hansa and Acquire yesterday.
  • Finished reading Erik Davis’s 2010 essay collection Nomad Codes last night. He’s a materialist who’s into non-believing spirituality and hallucinogenic drugs and who writes really well. Some really good stuff in there, despite (or thanks to) his alien world of thought!
  • I find that Twitter (follow me there) is robbing the blog of short entries. Below are some recent tweets.
  • Took the Beatles 3 yrs from “She loves you yeah yeah yeah” to “Lay down all thought, surrender to the void, it is shining”.
  • As an archaeologist, I dig while William Burroughs.
  • Are self-torturing Indian holy men sadhu-masochists?
  • You could prepare for a zombie walk by burying a set of clothes together with some pork for a year.
  • Visby house for sale with in situ Medieval burial under glass in basement.

What’s on your mind, Dear Reader?

Restaurant Engrish

i-b7a68193f5420adbf3a6f570606d727b-Lie fallow sock.jpg
“Lie Fallow” means “in your spare time, without a prior appointment” in Engrish.

Everybody loves Engrish, the surreal dialect of English found on signs, in menus, on clothing etc. in the Far East. Much of it seems to stem from blind over-use of dictionaries, where the non-Anglophone user picks one of the possible translations of a term at random. Here are a few examples I’ve caught recently at restaurants.

i-8476a8da48cdeeb30e45d98b52323c45-Cow platoon lores.jpg

i-623628b73919526e7a98b9d10fe8ddf1-Hydrophobic lores.jpg

i-e3cde64696f287003c1689138f3a63a7-Wet new lores.JPG

The breakfast menu at our hotel in Hecheng had some fine variations on rice porridge and its condiments.

i-490a1bbe070711b7fb2bb159386f272f-Porridge class.jpg

i-b7549416186742ac97c12bc2da9863b5-Porridge kind lores.jpg

i-66bae5bd562f9007a8e08a0d129c03cf-Porridge theme lores.jpg