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April 27, 2011

I'd rather my intestines jumped up and strangled my head

Aina requested this, and it's been too long since I've heard this rant:

I sometimes wish that film critic Mark Kermode would rant about everything in the world that I didn't like. But I will settle for Kermode's rant, I mean review, of The Holiday.

Posted by Julie at 1:47 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 21, 2011

I can't take my eyes off of you... 'til I find somebody new

Closer opens with Natalie Portman and Jude Law in slow motion, to the sound of Damien Rice. You would think the scene were designed specifically to appeal to my senses - well, mine and most girls my age in 2004.

I saw this movie twice in the movie theater back then, and I bought Damien Rice's album O because of this scene. Most of my friends found the movie depressing. My boss voiced vague concerns about my mental health* when I played O at work. But I don't feel depressed when I hear sad music or see a sad story about four more or less messed up people. If you're feeling blue and for some ridiculous reason want to drag yourself even further down, watch a romantic comedy. Wonder why your life doesn't look like that. If you want to be feel better, seek catharsis. I find sad movies somewhat comforting in their brutal honesty - and in the way they remind me that at least I'm not a character in Closer.

And so, seven years and another Damien Rice album later, I'm still fascinated and impressed by how complex Closer manages to be, even though it's just four characters interacting in a handful of scenes over a period of four years. The trailer tagline is "If you believe in love at first sight, you never stop looking." It's about dating, cheating, hurting people, but actually it's about how even when we're trying to be confident, rational and responsible, emotions and impulses can lead us to make decisions we know are stupid and hurtful.

Of course I identify with Natalie Portman's character because she's the one who plays a 24-year-old girl. But she's also the one who tells her possessive, complicated writer boyfriend, when he's just announced that although he loves her, he's leaving her for someone he just helplessly fell in love with:

"Oh, as if you had no choice?!?! There's a moment, there's always a moment: I can do this, I can give into this, or I can resist it. And I don't know when your moment was, but I bet you there was one."

To her, the only way to leave is by saying: I don't love you anymore. Good-bye. And if you still love someone, you don't leave. Which means that while she seems to submit completely and love unconditionally, it's with the knowledge that she has absolute unbreakable rules about how things are supposed to work. Like in her job as a stripper, she gives everything, up until a certain irrevocable limit.

And I think that's the point of this story, which so many of my friends found pointless: How much control do we really have over our emotions? When do we stop acting rationally? When does the game suddenly become too real? Or as Roger Ebert writes in a review you really shouldn't read until after you've seen the film:

There is the sense that their trusts and betrayals are not fundamentally important to them; "You've ruined my life," one says, and then is told, "You'll get over it."

Yes, unless, fatally, true love does strike at just that point when all the lies have made it impossible. Is there anything more pathetic than a lover who realizes he (or she) really is in love, after all the trust has been lost, all the bridges burnt and all the reconciliations used up?

(Vaguely) related post: Love means not leaving

* I'm doing very well, thank you. If you're not as happy as I am, here are 11 ways to feel better.

Posted by Julie at 12:47 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 17, 2011

The world is enough

Tim Minchin's poem "Storm" is brilliant, and really doesn't require a comment from me. Here's a quote:

Does the idea that there might be knowledge frighten you?
Does the idea that an afternoon on Wiki-fucking-pedia might enlighten you, frighten you?
Does the notion that there might not be a supernatural so blow your hippie noodle that you'd rather just stand in the fog of your inability to google?
Isn't this enough?
Just this world?
Just this beautiful, complex, wonderfully unfathomable natural world? How does it so fail to hold our attention that we have to diminish it with the invention of cheap man-made myths and monsters?
- Tim Minchin, Storm

... and I've published the full animated video below.

(Image via Atheist Etiquette)

Posted by Julie at 1:37 PM | TrackBack



Jeg er sitert på omslaget av Elin Ørjasæters bok Det glade vanvidd  (2. opplag).

For å finne ut hva jeg mener, les hele bloggposten jeg skrev om boken.

Og les boken selvfølgelig.

Posted by Julie at 12:51 PM | TrackBack

April 11, 2011

To all my champagne people...

"We have a champagne relationship, protected from a lot of the everyday wear and tear that other couples go through. We are free to do as we wish, but at the same time we know we love each other and that whenever we meet, it's fantastic."
- Victora Bugge Øye, interviewed by the magazine D2 about her long-distance relationship (my translation)

If my life were to be retold in film, and to realistically portray the big emotional moments, it would have to include scenes like this: I sit on my couch, staring, shocked, at an e-mail. My cell phone beeps just as I am waking up, and I start the day with a little dance of joy when I read the text I just got. I log onto Google talk in the middle of the night when I can't sleep without a few lines of encouragement from the other side of the world. I hide behind a tree in the center of Oslo to cry and scream into my cell phone. On opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean, my best friend and I each open a bottle of Sam Adams and toast each other via Skype.

Has anyone done that yet: Made a film where the protagonist is always physically alone, only shown interacting with characters through videochat, Facebook, e-mail, blogging, phone calls etc.? Because some of the most important characters in the story of my life have been people who are hardly ever there in the geographical sense. But they are always there in the sense that matters: there for me.

I fill my long-distance friends in on my life in great big heaps of information. Sometimes just composing a response to "So, what is new with you?" can be a way of clearing my own head, making sense of my priorities.  There is no time to waste on everyday small complaints, but for the real problems I prefer to go to my long-distance people, the ones who do not have to deal with my life every day.

Perhaps I just want someone to accept my side of things. Long-distance friend won't say "Really, that guy?" when I describe a crush, because they've never met him. Long-distance friends won't let a secret about me slip out when they talk to my co-workers or family members. Long-distance friends won't notice if I skip past the boring or embarrasing details of a story. And yet, long-distance friends manage - again and again - to call me out on it when I'm not being completely honest with them or myself. Because they've been listening.

Distance has a way of focusing the attention within a friendship. There is no need to involve anyone else, to introduce friends to friends, boyfriends to families, no need to struggle with integrating the person I am when I talk to Friend A with the person I am when I talk to Friend B. Instead of going to parties with groups of other people, we interact in one long two-person conversation.

When people say online communication is impersonal, I don't understand what they mean. On the contrary, it can be immensely personal, if it works like this: I think of you, and I tell you so immediately. I don't have to wait until I see you to let you know I had a thought you should know about. You are directly connected to my thoughts.

That being said, sometimes I need a hug. And sometimes I need a hug from someone specific, someone who lives too far away.

And maybe I do idolize my long-distance loves because I don't have to deal with them on a regular basis. Whenever we see each other, it's a cause for celebration, for champagne. Like at most events involving champagne, we gloss over the imperfections and pretend there won't be a tomorrow. But maybe that's a good thing. Sometimes it's best to view life as a series of beautiful moments. That's what my (roommate who happens to be a) therapist says.  

Knowing you are loved - even from a distance - can be enormously comforting whenever your geographically close life feels less than great. Drinking water alone is easier when you know there will be someone to drink champagne with someday soon.

The photo was taken in Paris, by Julie Balise. We drank champagne on the last day we lived in the same country.

Posted by Julie at 1:47 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 6, 2011


I like question-and-answer memes because I like answering questions about myself (embarrassing, but true. I also like filling in questionaires.) But I also like memes because when I go back and read the archives, the answers are like a little piece of frozen time, with tiny details of my life that I would never specifically blog about. So even though a meme is not really "serious" enough for my blog (eh, whatever), here's one:

1. Make a list of 5 things that are in your bag: (these are the first five things I find)
- red leather gloves
- the latest issue of argument
- dance shoes
- black shoe shine
- red nail polish

2. What is the significance of your journal name?
This website is run by my own rules, according to Julie, which is my name. It was the working title when my dad first set up this site ages ago, and the fact that it shows up top of peoples' alphabetized blog rolls is nice.

3. What is one item of clothing you wish you could always wear?
Nothing. I mean, I crave variety.

4. What do you plan to do after this meme?
Go test a coffee shop while editing a book.

5. What are you listening to right now?
Ella Fitzgerald

6. Who was the last person you hugged?
One of my dance partners, as we said good-bye on the subway after dance class.

7. What was the last thing you downloaded?
A draft of the book I'm editing.

8. What did you do today?
Not much so far. Blogged.

9. What was the last game you played?
The game of Life, with my family last Sunday.

10. What websites do you always visit when you go online?
Gmail. E24. Facebook. Also Twitter, via Tweetdeck.

11. What irritates you nearly on a daily basis?
Moziers/slow walkers. Actually, make that slowness in communication/transportation in general, including buses, walking, internet access and people who don't answer their phones.

12. If you could afford to go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
South Africa, as the only reason I'm not there now is that I can't afford it.

13. What did you want to be when you were a kid?
Age 4: A witch, or a librarian. Then I found out that so many librarians are witches, and changed my career plans. 
Age 6: An actess.
Age 8: An actress first, then an author of children's books.
Age 10: A writer 
Age 12: A writer.

14. Ever had a weird dream? What was it about?
I have a lot of weird dreams. I find them entertaining, but then I tend to forget them.

15. What are you doing this weekend?
Learning the Lindy Hop. 

16. If you could play any musical instrument, which one would you play?

17. What's the one thing you need the most now?
A solution to a problem that I'm not going to blog about.

18. If you could have one superpower, what kind of power would you choose?
Time travel.

19. What was the last thing you ate?
Wasa crackers with cream cheese and pesto.

20. A feature that you like about yourself.
My hands.

Posted by Julie at 12:08 PM | TrackBack

Not leaving

You may well wonder why I wanted Boris at all, a man who tells his still-wife that he's shacking up with his new squeeze for "practical reasons", as if this shocking new arrangement is simply a matter of New York real estate. I wondered why I wanted him myself. Had Boris left me after two years or even ten, the damage would have been considerably less. Thirty years is a long time, and a marriage acquires an ingrown, almost incestuous quality, with complex rhythms of feeling, dialogue and associations. We had come to the point where listening to a story or anecdote at a dinner party would simultaniously prompt the same thought in our two heads, and it was simply a matter of which one of us would articulate it first. Our memories had also begun to mingle. Boris would swear up and down that he was the one who came upon the great blue heron standing on the doorstep of the house we rented in Maine, and I am just as certain that I saw the enormous bird alone and told him about it. There is no answer to the riddle, no documentation - just the flimsy, shifting tissue of remembering and imagining. One of us had listened to the other tell the story, had seen in his or her mind the encounter with the bird, and had created a memory from the mental images that accompanied the heard narrative. Inside and outside are easily confused. You and I. Boris and Mia.
- From The Summer Without Men by Siri Hustvedt.

Siri Hustvedt's The Summer Without Men starts with Boris leaving Mia, and follows Mia's summer of interacting only with women. It's about mothers and daughters, old friends, new friends, and the cruelty of teenage girls. And it's about what happens when your Most Important Person over the last thirty years just leaves.

I haven't known anyone for thirty years, for obvious reasons. But as always, Hustvedt's characters seem so real that I find myself relating to them anyway. I told my mom - who's known my dad since they were seventeen - the story of the heron, and she could relate.

And I can certainly understand the feeling of losing part of yourself when you lose an Important Person. Or rather, feeling like you can't let that person go, because even if you never see them again, your personalities are so entwined that they will always be with you - in your memories, your associations, your tastes, in the way your mind works.

In another book I recently read, love was defined like this: "Love means not leaving." Maybe it is that simple.

More posts about Hustvedt's books:

Image: icanread

Posted by Julie at 10:51 AM | TrackBack

April 5, 2011

Cookies are for eating


A new EU directive will require that websites get their users' clear consent for all cookies by May 25, according to Deutsche Welle. This could mean endless pop-ups repeatedly asking for your permission to store info.

In Norway, online cookies could become illegal by the end of April. E24 wrote about this back in January, and it's worth repeating. Anders Willstedt, leader of Inma, an interest group for interactive advertisers, told E24:

"If this goes through, it will send the Internet back to the stone age. The people who drafted this bill don't know enough about how the Internet works. It would mean that loading the front page of the newspaper Dagbladet would require ticking 27 'permission to store cookies' boxes."

It all depends on what we mean by consenting to cookies. Yahoo, Google and Firefox are working on various ways of letting us give or deny permission to store cookies once and for all, instead of every single time we load a page.

For the other kind of cookies, the answer is much, much simpler:

Image source: Cookie monster by Chibcha, Creative Commons. The cookie sign is mine, photographed in my old apartment.

Posted by Julie at 2:43 PM | TrackBack

Hvordan få Julie til å spise ost

Illustrasjonen virker logisk om du leser hele bloggposten.Jeg liker ikke ost. Når jeg innrømmer det, blir folk stort sett irritert på meg. Jeg har fått fiender på grunn av ost. Folk stempler meg som barnslig, kresen, vanskelig, og overhodet ikke interessert i gode smaksopplevelser på noen måte.

Kanskje jeg blir bedre likt om jeg omformulerer meg:

Jeg har fortsatt ikke møtt en ost jeg har likt. Og tro meg, jeg har prøvd. En av mine aller beste venninner er kjøkkensjef utdannet i Frankrike, og jeg har smakt alt hun har bedt meg smake. Med jevne mellomrom drar jeg til en fancy ostedisk i en såkalt velassortert matbutikk og sier: "Surprise me!" Men det hjelper ikke. Kanskje det er konsistensen; kanskje det er en ekstremt mild form for laktoseintoleranse, men jeg ser bare ikke poenget. Jeg klarer å spise både brie og parmesan for eksempel, men dere andre som elsker disse ostene kan godt få min porsjon.

Så jeg var litt nervøs da jeg satte meg ned til Girl Geek Dinner med temaet Ost og øl (og radiofrekvensidentifikasjon, men det er en annen historie).

Så hørte jeg noe fantastisk:

- Jeg likte ikke ost før, sa Sigrid Strætkvern, ølformidler og "stemningsskaper" hos Ringnes.

En dame som får betalt for å snakke om smak, var tidligere ostemisliker. Det finnes håp for meg også. Jeg kan også lære å spise som en voksen. Løsningen er - i hvert fall basert på Sigrid Strætkverns erfaring - å kombinere riktig ost med rikig øl.

Så fortalte hun at 80 prosent av smaksopplevelsen sitter i øynene, og at det er påfallende vanskelig å smake forskjell på mørkt og lyst øl eller på hvitvin og rødvin med bind for øynene.

Challenged accepted!

Jeg har nå notert meg følgende observasjoner om mine egne smaksløker:

Om jeg gjentar disse kombinasjonene ofte nok, vil jeg bli flinkere både til å spise ost og til å drikke vin uten å søle. Øl, ost, vin og bind for øynene er altså veien til voksenpoeng.*

(Enkelte vil sikkert hevde at alkohol og bind for øynene kan føre til flere overraskende situasjoner enn bare at Julie spiser ost, men igjen, det får bli en annen historie.)


Ølene (fra venstre):
Hoegaarden Wit
Ringnes Platinum
Jacobsen Dark Lager
Frydenlund Bayer
Leffe Blonde
Brooklyn Lager
Frydenlund Bokkøl
Brooklyn East India Pale Ale

Vellagret Jarlsberg
Selbu Blå

Gato Negro Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (rød chilensk)
Santepietre Pinot Grigio 2009 (hvit italiensk)

1 del øl (Frydenlund Bayer)
2 deler sukker
saften av en lime + evt litt finrevet skall
1/2 – 1 finhakket, røkt chili (chipoltles)
2 stjerne anis
Alt i en gryte, kokes til det begynner å tykne, settes kjølig. Bør oppbevares i romtemperatur, ikke kjøleskap.
Chipotles får du i velassorterte matvarebutikker, for eksempel Meny Ringnes Park. Du kan også røke fersk chili selv.

*Voksenpoeng: Du blir ikke voksen; du blir stadig voksnere. Det skjer ved at du oppnår voksenpoeng. Det er en bra ting. Å "bli voksen" betyr at du slutter å oppnå nye voksenpoeng (les: utvikle deg og lære nye ting). Leken er over på alle måter, med andre ord.

Foto: Mariana, Julie R. Andersen

Posted by Julie at 1:30 AM | TrackBack