Sunday, July 17, 2005

Romeo and Juliet

It's awfully predictable to rage against the assembly line-like pop music machine that spews out hits that are impossible to separate from each other. Fortunately, the golden oldies are even more available to us now than they were at their time of creation.

Dire Straits released the album "Making Movies" two years before I was born. I didn't discover this record until the year 2000, but fell in love with it immediately. Mostly because its second track is the best love song ever made.

"Romeo and Juliet" has everything an emotional song needs, and writer/guitar genius Mark Knopfler even managed to leave the cliches out. The phrase "I can't do a love song like the way it's meant to be" is Knopfler at his songwriting best.

Das ewige Thema is so overused it's almost impossible to say something deep that hasn't already been said. So Knopfler's sober voice tells us a tale of lost love, with an open ending which leaves Romeo still searching. Whether men are more desperate than women is not scientifically proven. But the former do at least seem better at turning desperation into art.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Rarely happy when it rains

My three-day holiday set off thursday evening, and after fourteen heatwavering days God chose to let the rain start to pour down while I was on my way home from work. Yesterday had the worst weather in two weeks, which was coincidentally the last time I had three consecutive days off. But a lot of quality time has been spent already. Most of the spending takes place at the pub.

The quiz at the sports pub "Bohemen" is radically tougher than the pub quiz in Volda. Counting six quizees my team managed less than half the questions in the first round. But at least now I know which primate has the longest penis relative to its height. It was sort of a trick question. The answer was Homo Sapiens.

As the daily cycle drew to a close, I spent the last hours at Savoy, a cozy lounge bar with no music (or low volume) and about 20 journos. It's strange how some people can talk about work for five hours straight without tiring. This profession's like a drug: incredibly fascinating and highly addictive.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Death of a taboo

The businessman Ole Christian Bach seems to have shot himself in Stockholm. The press was lighteningly quick in establishing the death as fact, but the cause of death was not as eagerly cited.

The first Norwegian medium to release the news was TV2 Nettavisen. They quoted Bach's lawyer Arne Gunnar Aas, who went far in hinting that Bach had taken his own life. The other major online newspapers followed a few minutes after the first article was published, but without mentioning suicide.

Honourably enough,, VG Nett and waited before they published the cause of death as fact. Suicide is not a subject to be taken lightly. But the coverage of this tragic phenomenon is changing. The press is altering its self-regulatory statutes these days, with the intention of allowing a more open coverage of suicide.

Suppressing a problem is rarely, if ever, a solution. Instead of walking around suicide, we might now enter into the heart of the problem. That is, if such a thing exists. For the causes are as complex as there are individuals on the planet. Harassment, weight issues, drugs, alcohol, low self esteem - or stress. Ole Christian Bach had been running from the police for a long time, and seemed to have reached his limits. That he leaves four children was not enough to stop him.

The problem with this kind of speculation is that it's hard to do the victim 100 per cent justice. When former health minister Tore Tønne took his own life after intense media pressure, the press was heavily criticised for harassing Tønne. Investigation by the press itself (as usual) showed that the newspapers had done little do deserve criticism. Most of the questions against Tønne seemed to be legitimate.

Discussion isn't always the solution. But putting a lid on tragic issues is surely no constructive alternative, even if those left behind might find it hurtful at times. Death is too important a fate to be left unscrutinised.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Burn out or fade away?

When the first move you make when coming home after 10 hours of work is turning on your computer, you ought to know something is seriously wrong.

Working 9-4 is increasingly turning into a privilege I cannot afford. But when you can't get started before noon, there's not too many others to blame than yourself. I need deadlines. Firm ones. Which is why I'll insist on only working afternoon-night shifts, where not finishing stories before your shift is over doesn't work.

Somehow, being tired also makes me write slightly longer sentences than usual.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

A Saturday

Today was my only day off this week, and I have spent it wisely. I forced myself out of bed between noon and two o'clock, whereupon I made attempts to figure out

a) whether there was non-alcoholic liquid within immediate reach (no)
b) why my breath was 90 per cent garlick (kebab, probably)
c) what happened to all the money that used to be in my wallet (I chose not to stop at the third beer)

After a half-hearted breakfast I ventured to the park with a novel mentioned in an earlier post, but ended up reading Dagbladet instead. Lying in the park for about an hour, I pondered possible consequences of unneccessary statements made the night before. I think I managed to stay fairly politically correct, as usual.

The sun has been shining all day, but now it's time to hit the street again. This means finding a bar where beer is less than seven euro.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Crime without punishment

We’re not supposed to judge books by their cover, but my latest literary purchase craves an exception to the rule. In a Gothenburg bookstore, I found a paperback edition of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment. Feeling guilty for having abandoned my intellectual reading for the last year, I promptly bought the six-hundred-something pages novel. But not because of its cover.

A paperback edition of one of the world’s greatest novels can hardly give the same reading experience a hardback can. In addition, the background on this cover is PINK. The title is written in burgundy red, and the author’s name in white. The text of the novel itself fills the entire pages, so there’s no margin or room for comments and thoughts from the reader. A sadder typographical performance is hard to imagine. Also, there’s no preface, post-face or introduction by a literary scholar, so I have to figure out myself what the essence of the novel is.

This edition was from 1982, which explains a lot. Apart from myself being born this year, this was no annus memorabilis. Fortunately for this decade’s designers, esthetical incompetence is no crime. But if I’m on the right side when the revolution comes, I’ll have the Constitution revisited.