Boston Blatte

Raised in Boston, remade in Sweden

Archive for December, 2009

New Year’s Eve: Gnesta ain’t no Times Square. Oh well. Been there. Done that.

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

Tonight we’re gonna party like it’s 2009.  The way that phrase might sound sung to Prince’s 1982 hit of a similar name (- 10 years) just might appropriately resound the same lackluster New Year’s celebration we have in store for us tonight in the wilds of Gnesta.  Well, perhaps it’s more fair to say the partying of 2009 will pale in comparison to the partying on the same eve a decade ago.

On the eve of the new millennium the husband and I managed to finagle an invite to an extremely well-located bash overlooking NY’s Times Square. Times Square Departing our Swedish friends on their way to Ulrika’s on E.60th (a svenska stuga version of Aquavit albeit now closed) carrying a wad of cash ready for the imminent crash of every ATM, computer and humanity as we knew it and feeling snug as a bug in the City (thanks Rudy,) we headed over to 7th Avenue.

We hadn’t counted on a barricaded radius around Times Square manned by NYC’s finest. The message:  If you weren’t already in the Time’s Square area you weren’t getting in.  Well. Kind of. Sort of. Not really.

At least not for innocent Swedes. OK, one real, not-so-innocent-Swede, one fake Swede and one genuine, bona fide New Yorker.  But the tag-team, stereotype-laden, vaudeville routine starring Inga and Sven got us through. Our modus operandi was to approach the gate-keeper yammering inane things in Swedish like “So we just keep speaking Swedish as we approach the cop” and “I hope this works.”

I don’t know if it was my pathetic Swedish bikini team-sounding accent or because I look so genuinely Swedish (Eh, before anyone starts ranting about this…please see the picture above. That’s my genuine hair color. In louder words–I AM BEING FACETIOUS) but Inga got us through.

Faking a Swedish accent in English to dupe the boys in blue worked this time, but my general advice would be, “Do not try this at home.” On the other hand it got an American friend out of a speeding ticket in Arizona when he handed over his Stockholm library card telling the officer, “Dat’s a Sveedish driwing license.”

On a serious note,  I am looking forward to our [quieter] evening in Gnesta. The host is a hunter and there are always choice cuts of Bambi  or Bullwinkle served for dinner accompanied by a medley of Swedish drinking songs (snapsvisor) whet (sic) by a selection of taxed and untaxed snaps/aquavit.

A friendly remember to not drink and drive. Oh, and don’t forget tip your waitress.

Happy New Year,  Gott Nytt År and see you in 2010.


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Get back to work: Christmas is over.

Monday, December 28th, 2009

–What do you call “mellandagarna” in English?

I’ve been asked this over the years so many times.

The term “mellandagarna” indicates the limbo days between 26 December and 1 January.  Officially these days, if weekdays, are regular calendar days, but because they fall between two public holidays (Christmas and new year’s) and are part of Christmas vacation for school children, they belong to a unofficial classification of time off.

If you’ve been wondering where everyone in Sweden is;  if they’re not home ignoring you, they’re on the slopes ignoring you (if it’s work related don’t take it personally, if it’s socially related, you might want to reconsider what you mean to them –cell coverage reaches the slopes.)

I’m in a bind between needing to do some work and wanting to ride the wave of a two-week vacation. So as I sit here on the eve of a “regular workday” I can’t help but think that mellandagarna should be work-free days and the procrastinator in me has won out –at least for tonight and likely tomorrow (the husband is home from work until 7 January which makes mellandagarna a series of weekend days in our house.)

So. What’s the answer to the original question?  I usually tell the people who ask that mellandagarna means “regular work day.”  They often just don’t get it and shrug. Then they wish me, “god fortsättning” which is a way to wish you a continued enjoyable Christmas holiday. They then ask:

–How do you say, “god fortsättning” in English?

And I tell them:

–You don’t. Christmas is over.

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Lucia traditions: Old, new and unPC star boys.

Monday, December 14th, 2009

luciaYesterday was the official Lucia Day when Swedish kids are supposed to rouse their parents in angelic singing, candles and saffron baked goods. According to my Facebook research (FB is the modern day validation resource for “I know some people,” but in real time.) only one guy got the morning show and one Swedish family is contemplating whether or not they ought to take up the tradition next year.

In other words, it’s been left up to corporate offices  and school programs to carry on the tradition of the Lucia procession.
I got a good chuckle out of Cyndee Peters’ blog entry describing how her first encounter with Lucia traditions scared her.  I would imagine the boys’ outfits would have been the shocker to see. However PC or not it is to say, those Star Boy (stjärngosse) outfits look like the choirboy section at a KKK rally

star boy

I’m glad that kids today, especially the boys, are more likely to be dressed up as santa helpers or gingerbread men.

On that note I leave you with one of the most beautiful season’s songs, the theme song to Lucia.  Link to a lovely on YouTube. rendition.

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Obama and the Nobel Peace Prize: Hey world, that’s Oslo not Stockholm

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

Barack Obama,  received the Nobel Peace Prize today. In Oslo.  Swedes have no influence, so if you are pleased or pissed off,  it’s not Sweden you should be coming to. Stockholm gives out the other prizes in Chemistry, Physics, Medicine, Economics (though not a “true” Nobel Prize) and my personal favorite, Literature.

The medal accompanying the prize

It’s only during the Nobel Prize that people don’t mix up Sweden and Switzerland. Of course, we now have the confusion that Obama would be in Stockholm to receive the Peace Prize. Poor Sweden, always a bit misunderstood, always a bit obscure.

In case you’re wondering how Swedes feel about Obama’s nomination, I guess you could put most Swedes in one of two categories. The first is that they’re pleased though a bit confused and astonished. They hope that it will result in a benefit to the world and a push for peace.  The second thinks they made a pre-mature mistake. It would have been better to wait. Within the second group there are people who think Obama’s nomination cheapens the prize. The Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society (say that fast if you can) were reported as being “shocked” at the news.

Stockholm is rather relieved that Obama isn’t receiving the prize at the Stockholm Concert Hall and then attending the banquet at the City Hall (a most gorgeous building to visit) so that we don’t get the crazy traffic jams I am sure poor Oslo is suffering.

Just a last clarification. Barack Obama is in Oslo, Norway and not Stockholm, Sweden.  And no, Sweden isn’t known for its watches, chocolate and Alpine skiing.

That’s Swaziland.

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Elin Woods & Anna Anka: Swedish women married to a tiger and a duck.

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

Swedish women in the “news” makes great global gossip. There’s got to be a tabloid press gold rush going on with both Elin Nordegren Woods (Mrs. Tiger) and Anna Anka (Mrs. Paul)  in marital spats. Swedish women represent and bring out a long list of good, bad, ugly and downright nasty in the gawking and gossiping peanut gallery.

Tiger certainly takes front stage in his drama. After all, he’s the household name and the athletic/sponsorship sensation. But boy does it make for good ratings when the woman he’s wronged is a beautiful, blond, golf-club-wielding, Swedette-done-wrong.

So why do you hate her?

You’d think that she’d only bring out the sympathetic and chivalrous in people since she’s a cute mother of two who is the victim in Tiger’s myriad of extramarital puts in the rough. Unfortunately, Swedish women also awaken the haters. These  men and women (they just got to be miserable)  get all a-giddy to put a woman, especially a Swedish woman, down. Some of the comments after articles call her all sorts of things but mainly summed up as ” a gold-digging nanny.”

And then there is Anna Anka back in the news now that swooning sensation Paul Anka is apparently divorcing her after another bout of marital sparring –literally (Hey Paul, hopefully this time you ducked.)

anna anka

Anna Anka brings out the most vile in people out there. Now granted, she did kind of ask for it spouting off all those bitchy things about Swedish men and women and propping herself up as an icon of the ideal, pleasuring wife.  So that field day the press is having is more her own doing.

But say what you will, Anna Anka is good watchin’, albeit somewhat more like watching a self-inflicted train wreck. Like her or hate her, she’s gutsy, outspoken and personality just flows over when she’s talking.

What I like about these Swedish women in the world’s eye is that they both remind the world that the Swedish woman (never mind what you think of her) is not the subservient pretty face. She’ll come at you with the golf club, the ice cube and the educated mind (Elin’s mom, Barbara Holmberg, the current governor of Gävleborg county, is on her way over to help her daughter…Tiger look out.)

You can take the girl out of Sweden, but you can’t take the Swede out of the girl.

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