The New Swans Gazette, issue 9

Issue 9, 2016-07-04

This will be the first installment of my attempt to write a crime story in poetry format. I hope you will enjoy it.

The decapitated man

Inspector Karphen, with hanging eyelids, a drowsy look on his face
watching the staff moving this person of late
now lacking one important fact, his head had gone missing
“Probably fatal,” he thought and wrote it down as a fact.

“Doctor what can you tell me? “ expecting not that much
the doctor did not let him down, not as such
“He lost his head, pretty important I would say,
for you not a problem, fatal for him,” the coroner exclaimed!

“Yes, yes, but what was the blade that decapitated this mans head?”
“You will have to wait and see, post-postmortem will tell us more,”
said the doctors in his usual grumpy way, leaving inspector Karphen
non-the-wiser, as they say.

He looked over the grounds, nothing strange except a bead
single and white, looking placed in the grass
with a single swoop he put it in a zip bag for forensic tests
might be important if the inspector had to guess.


To be continued

//JMS

 

To turn the very first page. A book review, of sorts, of the novel “The Storm” by Thomas Sand

The Storm

You know the feeling when you have a new book in front of you, unopened, waiting for you to flip that very first page and start the adventure. That adventure only the author can give you, guide you via the text, and you and your imagination have to do the rest, you know that feeling, don’t you.

The Storm

That is the précis feeling I had when I flipped up the preview of Thomas Sands new book, The Storm, and by new I mean in English, as it is written in Finnish and have been out for quite some time.

Now I only have a preview of the book as it is currently being translated, but I find that I either like a book, or don’t like it, after a couple of pages, say 3-5000 words or so. I just get the feeling if the language attracts me, the story captures me and so on in that amount of words. Now I know that is not fair, some books take their time to drag you into the story, but life is not always fair, unfortunately.

Well enough with this, on to the book. Now what is it about, well I have only read the preview, so what the whole book is about I could not tell you (even if the author graciously offered me a extended preview) as I have only read about 7000 words of it.

But imagine this, you are on a ship, a storm ridden ship where the stars are misaligned, a captain uttering a strange phrase and then dying, leaving a single word on a piece of paper, a strange shore appear and the radio is not working.

This is the beginning of the story and I say no more, you just have to read it yourself.

It is a well written book, the characters are slowly coming to life, without the author feeling the need to cramp into your brain who they are. I get the feeling that Thomas Sand himself got to know the characters as he wrote. I might be wrong, but however he did it works. The plot has a nice steady pace, working itself up and sparking my curiosity. He takes his time here also, and don’t get me wrong, it is by no means a slow pace, rather it is appropriate pace for the story.

Wanting to find out what is about to happen and the preview ending way to quickly, I for a second pondered if I should ask for that extended preview. But with a shake of my head I decided no. When I read it I want to be able to read it all, it would just be to annoying to have to stop again.

Finally the translation. From what I am reading I can not see it is a translation. The language has a good flow, no hints of an original language hiding in the corners, it is in other words a very good translation. Sometimes you can spot a bad translation right away, those awkward attempts to build a sentence upon another language that make your eyes spin as you try to navigate through them, you have probably seen them yourself. Here I found nothing of the kind, a smooth river of words, sentences and paragraphs flowing to your eyes, making their way into your brain, and there helping your imagination to do its thing. In short, it is good.

I truly enjoyed this book, or the start of it anyway. A captivating story that felt believable within the confines of the plot. Characters that made you want to learn more about them and a pace that is suited for the story.

So I would recommend reading this book when it is out, unless you know Finnish and then you can read it right now. I am not sure when it will be available, but I promise I will keep you informed, one way or another.

Written by

JMS

International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Today, many years ago, Auschwitz , that most horrible end product of the human mind, was liberated, and the year was 1945.
This day is set aside to remember all those victims, all those who lost their future, the laughter that faded away into the dark and the lives, with all the promises they held, swept away on a broom of ignorance, intolerance and unbelievable cruelty.
If one should cry than this is the day to do it, as it shows what animals we can become with the slightest nudge, we just topple out of the light and into that darkness, that all too easy want to grab hold of us.
I think this day, this year, we should think especially hard about what happened back then, for the most stupid of reasons, ignorance, fear and hunger for power.
All those who died, were killed, could only be murdered because the flock mentality dictated that it was somehow OK, they are not like us, they have themselves to blame or worst we can not afford them.
So remember them, and remember them who is now fleeing for their lives, so you are not only crying for a memory slowly fading away, but also for the crystal clear reality we see today.

//JMS

Get down, get up and watch some good movies

MOVIE REVIEWS

In the 100+ years of movie making there have been some really good ones made and so I felt the responsibility to share some of the good ones, the classics, the movies you really should watch.
So get a cup of coffee, a tea or something else to drink and join me in this short journey of movies from the 20s and onwards.

Are you ready? Do you have something to drink and are you sitting relaxed, OK then lets start.


Nosferatu or Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauen, horror, 1922

This is a silent film in black and white or maybe that is superfluous to mention. The first adaption of the Dracula novel by Bram Stoker, or the first one I know of as there might have been others.
Why is it not called Dracula, well for the simple fact that it was not an authorized adaption and so Count Orlok (he is the main protagonist) was born and Dracula put to the homeopathic stake as it were.

Nosferatu  It is a German expressionist movie of the finest kind. Don’t let the age scare you, this is a movie that still holds its ground and is very enjoyable to watch. You follow the evil and grim looking Count Orlok on his adventures. I am sure you have read Dracula or seen another movie adaption of the novel so I will not tell it in detail.

 The movie is partly filmed outdoors and that was not really the standard for the 20s, giving the movie some bonus points right from the start.
The scenes are very expressive, playing with shadows in a way that is truly impressive for a movie that came out so early. Of course there are some things that a modern movie watcher will find funny and of course the acting will be one of them.

As this is a silent movie the acting had to be grand, bigger then life, in other words it is overplaying in most severe way. However if you give the movie a chance and do not watch it as a modern film then you will not get irritated by the acting.

If you like horror movies this is one movie that you have to watch and pay especial attention how well they have managed to create horror scenes without changing the camera 200 times in 5 seconds, like modern movies like to do to create tempo or hide a failing script.

In my book this movie is worth the highest grade, which in my case will be a 5.


Rififi, film noir, 1955

Welcome to the 50s and welcome to a movie genre where playing with shadows were very important, I am of course talking about film noir.
There are several really good movies in this genre but i have chosen this French movie from the 50s as a movie to watch.

The story is centered around a robbery committed by four harden criminals with the aging Tony “le RififiStéphanois” taking the main lead. He is just out of prison and we follow him and some other characters as they do a heist with all the problems that can involve before, under and after the fact. The story is played out with a realistic feeling that makes this movie feel much more modern than most other movies from that time.

There are several things that this movie manage to do with excellence. How the director manage to work with the scenes and shadows is really beautiful to see. There is a dance scene in a bar, where you only see the dancers silhouetted, impressive and joyful to see how you create much form actually very little. Another great scene you can see when they are commit the robbery. The director manage to create suspense without any dialogue or music whatsoever, impressive is the word that comes to mind.

I also like the rather harsh and brutal way they show the protagonists in the movie, they are not really sugarcoated at all which works very good with this movie.

There are many good film noir movies and among the top 5 I would put this one. Just watch this movie and then watch the Black Dahlia from 2006. You will be able to see an old movie doing almost everything right and a newer movie failing on almost every account.

Rififi, a film noir movie to watch. Were men were men, women were women and your life expectancy weren’t very long, giving this movie a top grade.


Lincoln, biographica, 2012

This movie is a bit of a dark horse in this list as it is not what I would call a pure classic, but it has the elements of one. The movie is about Abraham Lincolns bid to get emancipation of slavery pushed through congress. This is not as easy with great opposition, to this bill, against the ongoing civil war and problems with his family.

LincolnThe movie has an engaging story, it is nicely filmed but that by itself does not make this movie float up to the celestial place of classical movies. However the performance of Daniel Day-Lewis is a real treat to see. He nails the character with his body language, how he says his lines and how he manage to bring that together to a awesome preformance.

It is seldom that I see a movie that manage only one thing really good and that by itself raises the movie out of the mud of commonplace, but this movie is the exception to that rule of mine.
However to get the highest grades a movie, in my eyes, really have to manage most, if not all, of the parts that makes the film into what it is. How the scenes are shot, how the story is told, managing the tempo of the movie to work with the story and so on.

This movie does not really hit the spot on all of those points and that is why this movie will not get the highest grade. Instead it will have a 4 and that grade is based almost solely on the performance of Daniel Day-Lewis with an extra nudge from Sally Field.


So here you have 3 movies to watch. Jump between the decades and enjoy the different things they can bring to you but with one thing in common. They manage to bring a story to life, and that is what a good movie should do, in my small and humble opinion that is.

//JMS

A writing challenge

typewriter

typewriter

In a way to home in my English writing skills I have decided to do a challenge. What is the challenge, well anyone with a blog, or similar, that would like a piece written by me (in English) can have one. It can be any topic you wish, and you have to choose the topic. I will write a 500-1000 word article on whatever subject you choose. When you have it you can publish it on your site or not publish it, it will be all your article. You can also take on the challenge and write a piece for my blog, but with the same rule, that I will choose the topic. I will however publish any article/story written for my blog, as long as it follows common sense. The only restriction I really have is that all articles will be in English, that is it

So long I have written some pieces so far and the will be listed below. Please do check them out, not for my work but because they are interesting blogs. Thank you to all who took part so far and in the future.

Written by
JMS

For Happy Scrappy I wrote a article about how to succeed in Mixed Media and Scrapbooking called
Take a journey with Scrapbooking and Mixed Media, Success is what you want it to be”
http://happyscrappyro.blogspot.ro/


For Food for Two I wrote an article about Swedish dishes that might seem strange called “Swedish dishes from a Swede in Romania”.
http://masapentrudoi.blogspot.ro/


For Xaara Novack a short story were the main character is a fly, called “Interview with an angry fly”
http://www.xaaranovack.com/


For Damian I wrote and article about how it is for a Swede to live in Craiova, the good and the bad, called “I’m an alien, I’m a legal alien, I’m a Swede in Craiova”
http://damianirimescu.ro


Miss I gave me the topic “Can a dress be your soul mate?” and that was a though nut to crack. I called it just “The dress”.


For Daniel i wrote an article about Swedish/Romanian food/wine/beer and i called it “In vino veritas, and then some food if you must”

http://danielbotea.blogspot.ro/

Bucharest jazz with some blues

Article

Dear reader, here we are again for our usual meeting. I have my cup of strong coffee, a cigarette resting in its ashtray, making soft plumbs of smoke reaching for the ceiling. You in front of your computer or mobile phone, with a soothing drink to match I would hope.

Lets talk about people and meetings, an interesting topic I would think. Maybe not the most interesting topic but for sure among the top 10, now it could also be among the top 100, I suppose that depends on the reader, so lets just call it a moderately interesting topic and leave it at that.
As per usual I digress somewhat so lets get back on track and talk about meetings.

This weekend I had the opportunity to go to a wedding and also spend some extra days in Bucharest, and from this sentence you might realize I am not from Bucharest, and if you do you are correct. Now I was looking forward to this, it had the possibility to become a great weekend. Now for any great weekend something has to go wrong and in my case it was a cold that crept up on me during a live debate I held.. Energy levels slumped, cough started to come and I just felt beaten down. However I do believe that for something to be perfect, it also has to be imperfect. So I just crashed into bed for two days and after that I could at least stand up long enough to be able to take the train.

Arriving at the station in Bucharest I had started to feel better, so if not with energetic legs I at least went with some kind of spring to my step. We headed to Herastrau Park, and by we I mean my wife and me. “Why there” would be a good question and the answer would simply be to check out some spectacles the Swedish Embassy was holding during this weekend. Now we were a bit late so when we came there was nothing much happening. We took some pictures and started thinking about where to have lunch when we met a girl asking if we wouldm’t mind filming her for a project she was doing.. A chance meeting that got interesting as she told why she was there. Her father had died in a auto-immune disease and she was trying to bring awareness about it. It was a very interesting talk, not a nice topic but an important one and hopefully I will get back to this in a later article.

Now these small tasks had really emptied the energy reserves I had managed to accumulate, so after 6

What a view

What a view

hours or so we headed back to the hotel, as the next day we had a wedding to attend. Now I will not describe that in any great detail except to say it was perfect. Small and intimate, with that feeling some people have to give you familiarity in a split second, even if you never met them before. Really if I would remarry my wife I would do it just this way.

Here I also had a chance to talk with the photographer. I got curious when I saw she had a contraption above the flash, looking like a prop from a sci-fi film from the 50s. So I just had to ask her what that was and of course she had a simple answer, and no I am not going to tell you what that answer was, you will have to ask her yourself if you ever meet her. We had another chat later about photography and she showed me some of her work, and she is really quite good, and quite good in my vocabulary is really good. A nice flow between light and shadow, playing with foreground and background but always with a steady and firm hand regarding the composition.

Her name is Stefania Cristina Irescu and you can check out her facebook page here, you will enjoy it i promise!

Then the wedding ended, such a good event I would have stayed longer if only my cold would have let me do so. But alas again my energy levels were down the drain. Getting a lift to the hotel from the smiling Viorica and for that I am truly grateful, as I felt half dead at the time, so a big thanks to her. Maybe she did it because I in a moment of weakness promised to write a children story for her son (which I have already written)? But no, that was not it, she is just a really nice person, and that always lifts ones confidence in mankind, or womenkind as it were .Tired but content, I fell into bed and felt generally good, that is until some dropping water started to drive me and my wife crazy, but that is another story. The next day, I managed to have a impromptu phone interview for a job and I probably did not excel at that, but such is life.

So why did this weekend turn out so good, well it was not for the cold that is for sure. It now feels like a person who is a bit to imposing. Well ,you can never have to many friends they say, so I suppose having a cold as a friend is not half bad. What made the weekend so good was the people I met and those meetings made the weekend. Truly some people have the gift of making everyone feel welcome and that gift the wedding couple had and have. Me I am more like a grumpy old man, but that does not mean I can not applaud their gift. Other meetings took place and they all brought their own levels of interest.

Which confirms my belief that actually it does not matter where you go, how fancy the place is or how spartan it is for that matter, if the people are interesting all else fades into the background and becomes unimportant.

Written by
JMS

Article, creating creativity

Article

Craiovas Casa de Cultură “Traian Demetrescu” is arranging a scrapbooking extravagance tomorrow, the 4th of June 2015 to be exact. It will be an event of mayhem and creativity, where paper will fly, glue will be abused and creations will come to life, beautiful ones judging by the past. Pricez will be given on the 11th of June after a jury have painstakingly gone through the creations. The goal is to describe Craiova in Scrapbooking and will be on permanent display at the culture house after that. This is the first, the only such task attempted in Romania and I will be there.

Through the grapevine I have heard that you should bring a photo of Craiova to be part of the creation, and that makes sense.
Scratching my balding head I was thinking what I could do to get some extra creativity going on, getting down with the groove so to speak. Then I remembered that I forgot my coffee on the stove…

-10 minutes pass-

So back, with coffee in my hand and all ready to go, what was I saying by the way?
Ah yes the photo I should bring, I remembered that I pretty recently made a small sketch/painting from a photo taken 1913 in the old center of this wonderful city. So that I will bring to this most excellent event, held by the truly gifted Veronica Svanström and hosted by the generous Casa de Cultură “Traian Demetrescu”.

Now you might think I write this to win one of those prices, but this is not the case. It is actually so that if I would win a price I would boycott the culture house much like the western world boycotted South Africa under apartheid. So don’t you dare give me a price, as those ones should go to the deserving and not to the lacking and I alas fall in the second category.

Now this article needs to end, but before that check out the following pages, promise you will not regret it.

For all your happy needs head over to http://happyscrappy.shopmania.biz/ and get the groove on.
Do I hear you want want to read the deepest, coolest, most extroverted blog I know of then go here http://happyscrappyro.blogspot.ro/ and get your fix.
Ahh you want to know about culture, well the super heroes can be found via this link http://www.tradem.ro/

Now I sit upon needles waiting for tomorrow to come, to come, to…..

Article – What is the world coming to?

Article

Some days ago I read an article from Forbes that the wealthiest 85 people have as much wealth as 3,5 billion of the poorest people, 50 % of the worlds population.

This really gets me angry, and not for the fact that people get rich, I get that, it is a drive that actually fuels innovation in a strive to get rich. It is a basic human drive, the greed if you will, the accumulate of things or money.

But when that goes to far it is just detrimental to human society when the gap is that big, it is actually on a scale that is hard to imagine. How much do thet pay in tax, in USA about 18 % compared to a “normal” income at 25 %. Then we have the big companies or even smaller companies that hardly pay any tax at all, using one or several loopholes. IKEA in Australia managed to get the taxes down to 1 %, 1 % are you kidding me.

In general as I see it the biggest companies, the richest people try to pay as little tax as possible by almost any mean. In the case of IKEA they are still using the public infrastructure, but they don’t want to pay for it. Not seldom do you see companies complaining about services or infrastructure that are tax founded, not by them but from the average Joes pocket.

Now I don’t say all companies do this, and not all of the richest people either but I would guess that they are the exception to the rule rather then the opposite.

Now people will say, of course you don’t want to pay more tax then you have to, is that not normal. My reply to that is, “hell no”. I am not advocating to get back to Swedish situations we had at one point when Astrid Lindgren the author had to pay 102 % in tax, now that is just ridiculous, but 1 % or 18% that is just as ridiculous.

Now that make my a socialist, a course word in some countries, but for I am proud of it. I want a society that is as equal as possible, and if you have more money it simple means you should also pay as much as anyone else, not less. That is like some friends sharing a flat and someone gets a lot of money, hires someone to find a loophole to pay less rent then the other ones. Is that a simplification, sure it is, but if the rich can do it why can’t I?

I have one lead word in my life and that is “being fair”, and how the world is right now regarding distribution of wealth is so unfair it makes my blood boil. In fact we have some rich person that can own a couple of extra jets, extra houses they do not need so a couple of thousand people can live on nothing, lack medicare or miss out on school, way to go world.

Last thing, charity, always we hear how much wealthy people give to charity. What is that, if they just paid their taxes people could benefit from that, have a sense of pride and not having to stand and beg for crumpets from people feeling smug about themselves.

So now some moderation from me. No not everyone is like this, just because you have money you don’t turn into a self-serving, money-grabbing bastard. Like most people they are basically good people, does not matter where they are from or even how much they have. Just that the richer you get, the normal standards of behaving seems to dissipate. And in fact it is not even all their fault, the problem is that society or governments let this go on. So in the end it is up to us, in democracies anyway, to decide if this is OK or if this should stop.

I pay my taxes, and I actually love to do it. Why, because it is the way to distributes wealth and it is what I can do. So I am not rich by any mean and I still pay more then they do, so who has the upper ground now? You can laugh all the way to the bank, that you can never take away from me.

Written by
JMS

Article – About an artist!

I have been meaning to write something about an aspiring artist here in Craiova, but I never really got around to it until now. Why is that, you might ask. Well, a combination of working much, being lazy to an extent, but most of all my total lack of long term memory is the real culprit.

When she, yes, it is a she, wrote a really cool book review that gave me some inspiration and also gave my memory a badly needed shock, fired up some neurons saying “Hey, did you not want to write an article about her works, you lazy git?!”

And being told off by my own brain, here I am in front of my laptop, wondering how much cooler this would have been to write this with a old style typewriter. Well, I digress somewhat, so lets get back on track. At the same time I say this I see before me a grand opening in the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, it’s 1930 or maybe some years earlier. We are about to see not a moving picture, no, we are about to see still images in colour form. Now I have set the scenery, created a mood perhaps, and we are ready to start our journey.

The artist is Xaara Novack, living in Craiova. She paints, draws and has a vibrant creativity that flows into all of her works. Now there is nothing more interesting to this poor writer than this, and unlike my writing, there is nothing poor about her work.
I can not say that I am in any way an expert on this art form, but that does not really matter as art is about finding something interesting, something unique or to find something thoughtprovoking.

She had her first exhibition, at least I think it was her first, in Casa de Cultură Traian Demetrescu some time ago. I could not attend when she showed of her works herself, but I grabbed my skinny legs and headed down there as soon as I had a chance, and then bought a painting, we just had to.

Painting by Xaara

Painting by Xaara

Now you can head over to her art blog here and check out her other creations. And you probably think “not another link to follow”, but this a gem, so no diddle- daddle, just head over there.

She does not really have one style, and as an artist that is probably not an advantage, but for me I like it. It is a way to explore and for her to explore art in all its forms. She has a way to get out a feeling or an emotion through her works that is beautiful to see, and that is much more important than to create in a unique single style, at least in my eyes.

What I find most interesting are not the paintings, and don’t get me wrong they are really good, but the doodling I find fascinating. I like to doodle myself but I have no patience to put in the effort to really make them stick out, but Xaara does. For example the one with an elephant hanging on an eyelid, now that really gets your imagination going, at least for me.

So I should wrap this article up, most of all so you can actually head over to her blog and check out her creations!

And keep an eye on her, she will go as far as she wants to!

Written by

JMS

Article – Swedish politics

Article

I just have to write something about it. Main topic was of course immigration, of course as this is what the Swedish Democrats (SD) party has managed to turn it into be. I am not so naive to think that all works well with the immigration, but I must say that several parties, among them the Moderates (M), The Peoples Party (FP) and the Christian Democrats (KD) really has reached a low point. While talking about immigration, we are talking about people fleeing for their lives from war. What is the (M) response to this, we have to make sure they can be integrated to Swedish society by not giving them a permanent residence permit. So in fact what M, FP and KD are saying is, “Ok you are fleeing from a war,, that is fine and dandy, but can you become integrated?” What the hell kind of humanity is that, sure integration is important, avoiding to get killed is slightly more important.
Sweden is a rich country, we have it made in a way. But what are people worrying about, not to help our fellow man, no no, most important is if we can renovate our house and get a subsidy for it. If that is lowered from 50 % to 30 %, then they cry out how unfair it is. Tell that to the guy fleeing for their lives, renovating my house is much more important.
I don’t agree with all the politics from the Left Wing Party (V), but at least they have some humanity. M, FP and KD policy is lower taxes, benefit the ones has a job and fuck the rest, they have themselves to blame. Lets just hope they don’t suddenly find themselves without a job, having cancer and still having to look for a job or you don’t get any money.
Now I know I whine a lot, hell Sweden is rich, have it so much better then so many countries, but I do hate a country going the wrong way, especially when it is my own.

Written by
JMS