The New Swans Gazette, issue 3

The New Swans Gazette

Issue 3, 2016-02-17

Content
Editorial
World war 2 chronicles
Poetry
News from Sweden
Film review


Editorial

This is the first Wednesday issue of a more normal length. Some short news, a film review and a new standing item, WWII chronicles.

This editorial I will use for talking about the value of people. I know, how can you talk about the value of a person, but the fact it is done all the time. Even so it makes my fingers curl up just putting this in a text format, “The value of people”.

Is it not interesting how often we retract, hid or bring to the breach the word money, whenever something happens that will effect us. “People who are unemployed are lazy, why should I pay for them.” would be a sentence I have heard many times. Already here we have put a monetary value on a person, or even worse on a whole group.

Now I know that things cost money, it is just a fact of life, and there is not enough money to everything we would perhaps want to do. But is it not strange to see how easy Sweden accepted a tax cut that decreased the taxable income to the state with 99 billion SEK (2014) but have such a hard time to accept the cost of refugees. You could convert it into this sentence, “People who have a job are worth much more  than anyone else.”

We might have built a civilization, managed to some degree to take care of those who are not as fortunate as others, but in the finally tally we still think like those early hunters and gatherers that first stepped on to this continent.

A last thing I want to mention is a new report from an economist stating that we need to cut salaries to get more people working. From my point of view this is like trying to squeeze the stone for milk. The problem Sweden has is a lack of qualified workers, and that is also the only area we can compete in, with qualified jobs. Sure lower salaries will probably create some jobs, but it is also a trip down the American way where, in the end, you can not live on minimum wage.

//JMS


World war 2 chronicles

The plot against Hitler, the 20th of July, 1944

At 12:30, Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, present at a conference

The conference room after the bomb exploded

with Hitler, made an excuse to use the bathroom. There he armed one bomb (out of two), but because of his war wounds, having lost one arm, having only two fingers left on the other one and only one eye, it took longer than expected. The second unarmed bomb he gave to his aid, putting the armed bomb in his briefcase he joined the conference. Placing the briefcase close to Hitler and then after a phone call he left the conference. Someone at the conference moved the briefcase so when the bomb detonated the heavy table top shielded Hitler and many others, Hitler surviving.

Had the second bomb been put in the briefcase it is more likely that, even if not armed, it would have killed everyone in the room.

The assassination of Hitler and the following coup d’etat failed. Even if the assassination of Hitler would have succeeded it is not certain that it would have ended the war then and there.


Poetry

Where does a thought go when it has been forgotten

I was thinking one day and then I forgot where it was
pondering its absence as did my subconscious
together we tried to find its hiding place
but of course that though also slipped our minds
we are pretty forgetful fellows, my subconscious and I

//JMS


News from Sweden

Sweden needs lower salaries says economist

The economist Lars Calmfors has in a report stated that the salaries need to be lowered considerably for a first time employment to get more people working. This suggestion has meet opposition from the left, stating that it is same suggestion that the right wing parties have propagated for during decades. Others are looking favourably on the suggestion, stating that it is not a question about high paid jobs vs low paid jobs, it is a question about having a job or not having a job.

Short news

  • 5 people dead in bridge accident in Södertälje. Update: It was the indie band Viola Beach and their manager.
  • 1 person killed in a fight at a housing for asylum seekers.
  • The Swedish Democrats (SD) are loosing voters (-1.6 %) in a resent poll.
  • Ikea gets criticised in a EU report for tax evasion.
  • Man rescued after an avalanche burred him.

//JMS


Film review

Usual Suspects, a mystery/crime thriller from 1995, directed by Bryan Singer

In the film we follow a number of career criminals that have been involved in a shoot-out. What lead up to that incident is told by the only surviving criminal, the limping Verbal Kint (Kevin Spacey). It turns out there is a mean, a frightening, merciless criminal called Keyser Söze that is behind it all. Who is he, how did Verbal survive and will he tell everything to the police.

One of the best films in this genre, in my opinion anyway. The plot has a lot of suspense that builds up as the plot moves along. It is not really a high tempo film, but that said it never gets boring, you sit on the metaphorical needles all the time. The twist in the end is not constricted or feel false, making that one in itself one of the shining starts among film-end-twists.
The actors are good with a brilliant Kevin Spacey. The filming is good, music appropriate for the story and how it is filmed, and the tempo just right.

A film that must be on everyone’s must-see -list, so it will get 5 swans out of 5.

//JMS

 

The New Swans Gazette, issue 2

The New Swans Gazette

Issue 2, 2016-02-13

Content
Editorial
The Paypal incident
Poetry
News from Sweden
Film review
Short Stories


Editorial

So here is the second issue, the first Saturday one, so it a bit longer than I expect they will be in the future. I hope it will have something for everyone. Maybe you can find one or two lumps of coal that at least has the potential to become a diamond, even if it is a small one.

So in this editorial I will talk some about capitalism vs socialism, and yes I am a socialist and proud of it. Don’t let that scare you, I take every ideology with a big pinch of salt.

Why do I call myself a socialist you might ask. Well it is for the simple fact that I see a country, any country’s, first duty to protect the weak and it is the strong that should do it. In other words tax money should flow from the ones that have more to the ones that have less. It is really not more complicated then that. Sure I do see the need for capitalism, it is the fuel for greed and greed is the foundation for the development of new technologies, new medicines and so on. So until we have something better, it will have to do. Now if you let the beast of capitalism run free it will ruin all, except the 1 % that will laugh and say that everything is as it should be. So one have to, really have to, put a leash on it. Have rigid regulation to make sure it does not run wild. The problem we have right now is that the leash has been cut and it is running wild. A few percent or rather 1 percent have as much wealth as the rest of the worlds population. Oxfam have stated that the wealthiest 62 persons in the world have the same wealth as 50 % of the population. Now this can not go on, not if we want to pretend to be a somewhat evolving species.

So let me see more regulations, curb the wild running banks and tax evaders, so we can make this a planet to be proud of, instead of crying us to sleep over the whole mess every night.

//JMS


The Paypal incident

Have you ever had a Paypal account. You know the time it seemed like a good idea to get one, attach your credit card and go shopping online in a safer way. Or maybe more likely you have a online store, you want to accept credit card payments but you don’t want to put out an astronomic amount of money up front. In comes Paypal, the solution to all your problems, and sometimes it can be just that, a great solution.

However sometimes it can be a nightmare, money dripping away to unknown sources. This is what happened to us not so long ago. So recent in fact that we are still waiting for our refund.

It started one day when we got a email that some money had been used to pay some company in Germany. As we had not used that account for some time, in fact more or less forgot about it, of course we got a bit concerned. Quick email to Paypal and we thought that might have been the end of it, but more small sums were taken from the account. You know those kind of small amounts you easily miss, if you don’t keep your eyes peeled open. So more emails to the Paypal support and for good measure we deleted the credit card from the account. Now that fixed the money vanishing problem, however we still needed to get our money back.
It did not take very long before we got an OK from Paypal, it was some sort of a scam. Problem now is that we have to wait up to 30 days to get the money back.

So what am I saying. Well maybe just this, that Paypal can be a very good solution, as long as you are aware of the risks you might be taking. You never get anything for free, something might seem to be for free, or very cheap, but then you are always giving something else up.

So this is, was, will be, the Paypal incident for some and others will not have any problem at all. So read up what the service can give you, what problems you might encounter, and as the proverb says “Plan the for the worst and hope for the best”, is always a good policy.

//JMS


Poetry

The Vase

I sometimes do feel alone, I do
sitting on a shelf, being neglected
forgotten and put away, with only my thoughts
to keep me company.

But when the sun peeks through
the half drawn curtains
then I am the centre piece
the beauty conveyor, that is me.

I sit and glow in the compliments
all my dark thoughts vanished
washed away in the verbal affirmations
for me and my floral situation.

Alas those moments are fleeting
gone as soon as the arrive
and me I am back on my shelf
feeling lonely, forgotten, ignored
with only my thoughts to keep me company.

//JMS


News from Sweden

Travelling from Sweden to fight for IS (the Islamic State)

The Swedish Security Police (SÄPO) states that they know about 299 persons that have travelled to Syria and Iraq to fight for IS. Of those, 40 persons have been killed and 133 have returned to Sweden. The real fiqure is probably a lot higher.

31th of January 2015, two Swedish citizens, aged 19 and 29, were arrested in Greece suspected of being terrorists about to travel to Syria, to fight for IS. At least one of the men has been convicted of similar crime before.

Last year two men were convicted in Sweden for committing terrorist crimes in Syria. They were largely convicted on a film they had kept in one of their mobile phone, showing them taking part in an execution in Syria. They were sentenced to life imprisonment.

There have been some discourse about returning IS fighters coming back to Sweden, that they are being treated to lenient.

(Life imprisonment in Sweden has no fixed number of years but in praxis it is 20-25 years in prison.)

Suggested longer imprisonment for hate crime on social media

Hate crimes, online, in Sweden has been covered extensively in the last couple of years. Increasing number of hate crimes on social media has occurred, attacking or threatening people among them politicians and journalists. Several TV shows and news articles have covered this topic during the last year. The previous minister for democracy have stated that the sentence for these kind of crimes, against opinion builders like journalist, should be increased. Gudrun Antemar who conducted a Government Inquiry into this issue, states that in reality it could be hard to draw the line, and anyway there are already in place increased prison time for threatening journalists or politicians.

Short news

  • Eight boys, between 14 and 18, have been arrested for a group rape against child (children) in Gothenburg.
  • 1/3 of Swedish students age 15 does not meet the basic requirements in a PISA survey says the OECD.
  • Unemployment among young people are falling in Sweden.
  • The Prime rate in Sweden is lowered to -0.50 %

//JMS


Film review

Bridge of spies 2015, directed by Steven Spielberg

By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46893204

The story takes place at the hight of the cold war, end of the 1950s and early 1960s. The main character is the lawyer James B. Donovan (played by Tom Hanks), who gets the ungrateful task of defending a Soviet spy, Rudolf Abel, caught in the USA. He does his job better then expected and gets some flak for defending a spy in such a good way. At the same time USA are conducting spy flights over the Soviet union with the U2 plane. One is shot down and the pilot Gary Powers is captured alive.

The film is centred around James involvement in the defence of the spy, but also in the attempts to do a swap with the Russians, exchanging Gary for Abel.

I liked the film, and how could I not when it is directed by Speilberg, the manuscript is written in part by the Coen brothers (they wrote and directed The Big Lebowski) and starring Tom Hanks.

It does not have that much of a tempo, it is more of a slow building drama than anything else. The story, that is based on historical events, builds in a good a slow pace until the end. You will not see much of shootings and car chases, so if you are looking for that kind of film, this is not the one to watch.

If you want to watch a good and solid spy-drama, that is very good filmed, containing an interesting story, with some fine actors, then I suggest you give this film a try.

Not the greatest film I have seen but it is for sure above the average, so it will get 4 out of 5 swans.

//JMS


Short Stories

In this section I will write some Serialized novels for you to enjoy. They will run over several weeks and be published in the Saturday issue. This first story is in the steampunk genre and it is called “The mechanical man”. It is based on three paintings I did in the same style. Now sit back, have your hot drink ready and enjoy.

The mechanical man

Copyright: Magnus Svanström, 2016

Prologue
Charles Babbage managed in 1824 to build his difference engine, a early computer. It was hand cranked at first but soon got steam driven. It speeded up the whole industrial revolution, becoming a mechanical steam revolution, and miniaturized at that. This fuelled other fields like communication, air travel by hot air ships of the sky, zeppeliners, already in the 1850s. This story starts in 1853, the 4th of April, 8.43 in the morning to be exact.

Chapter 1 – the accident

I woke up in a bed, my head hurting, I am warm, blazing hot in fact. I try to focus my eyes but i can’t, everything is blurry. A vague shape comes into my peripheral vision, “Is she a nurse,” I think to myself, but it is hard to think with this splitting headache.
I try to whisper to the nurse that I need some water, she leans into me shaking her head.
Mr Aldershoot, you can’t have water. Don’t try to speak, you need your rest.”
She stands up and says, “I think we need to refill the water tank, and for god sake add some more coal.”
I blink but my eyelids does not close, only a whirring sound increasing in volume and my eyesight goes even more out of focus, then I pass out again.

I wake up again, I don’t know for how long I have been out, but I do feel better. I am still burning hot, but I seem to stand it better now somehow. I again try to focus my eyes and this time it works, my vision goes from blurry to clear, but what is that sound of cog wheels turning I wonder.
The nurse comes back into the room, probably hearing my movement, she leans in over the bed again.

So Mr Aldershoot, you are doing better today I see.” She says it with a smile as she checks something around my upper torso, and then button up my shirt.
Yes,” I reply with a crocked voice.
I need to go,” I look over at the chamberpot standing in a corner. She nods with a understanding smile and shouts for some help. Two other men come quickly and help to lift me up. I must be very heavy, or they must be very weak, as it takes the strength of all three to get me sitting up.

I thank them, and as I do I catch myself in the mirror that is fixed to the wall opposite me, and my mind freezes. The small smoke stacks, the monocular in place of my right eye, and the spinning wheel covering the hole that used to be my left eye. Ropes, chains and pulleys constantly in motion and attached to me. I stare at the person looking back at me from the mirror. Who is he, is he me, what has happened, “WHAT HAPPENED,” I shout at the top of my breaking voice.

….to be continued.

//JMS

The New Swans Gazette, issue 1

Issue 1, 2016-02-10

Content
Editorial
A guerilla-art movement in Craiova
Poetry
News
Film review


 Editorial

This is the very first editorial for The New Swans Gazette.
To be honest the “New” is not far from the old Swans Gazette, it just a slightly new format, that is all, but one for the better I think.
I will go back to the more rigid format of having two publications per week. A newspaper format of sorts, even though this is not a newspaper.
Some new items will be added and the foremost is probably the news. I will have a short section where I take up what is happening in Sweden, what are the big stories developing there.
When it is possible I will also bring some news from Craiova. The home town of the New Swans Gazette, if you can have a home town for a virtual, online publication.
To start with I will publish on Wednesdays and Saturdays, with the Saturday “Issue” being the bigger one. In that one I will add tutorials, short stories, a picture of the week and of course some news. Starting with June I am aiming for a new publication Monday to Friday, with a special issue on Saturdays.

This will be like a flea market, you will never know what you might find, some items you never knew you needed, perhaps a story to brighten your day, or just a photo to fall into.

What ever it will be I hope you will enjoy your visit.

//JMS


A guerilla-art movement in Craiova

This city has been buzzing with activities since they joined the competition to become European Capital of Culture 2021. Now, as far as I know, Craiova has not reached the final list, but that does not matter. Underneath all the sponsored activities is a smaller, a more down to earth movement rising, a guerilla-art revolution.

Veronica, Xaara and Yuki is the trio that keeps this thing going, and it is going strong. They meet in restaurants, cafés or other public places to create and share ideas, open for anyone who wants to participate, for the pure joy of just creating. They do not bring people to art, rather they make people create art and that must be the purest form of it.

Veronica is a multi-talented artist that focuses on Scrapbooking and mixed media. Holding courses in scrapbooking she enjoys teaching the creative process to others. She still finds time to create mixed media paintings, where colour meets objects on a canvass of the imagination. She has already had several exhibitions and more are to come. She also has a blog Happy Scrappy and in Mixed Media – Feed your soul you can see some of her creations.

Xaara is keeping busy with her v-blog/blog but in everything she 316_1498591686_ndoes, just beneath the surface you can see the artistic streak peeking through. In her art she is sometimes fusing painting with writing, but always creating something new, with just a few brush strokes, as can be seen on the left. She has also had an exhibition (watch it in video format here) where she showed, sold and shared her imagination in painting form.

Yuki is the photographer. She has a talent for drawing but her passions it photography. Capturing nature, people, streets, animals or just a moment she is at the moment eagerly awaiting her new camera. We are looking forward to see what captured moments she will bring to us with this new piece of equipment. She is also the one that brings food into the art form, avoiding the pretentious, instead giving the simple a new and deep taste dimension. Check out her blog here.

What will happen with this movement I can not know, but birds are whispering about a new project. This blogg will keep you informed and it will also come with longer articles for each of the founding members.

//JMS


Poetry

The chair

I love you, I say I love you
every time you sit I embrace you
your sensual cheeks I caress them
You leave and I just want to hold you,
keep you with me, I love you
the heat you leave I will cherish forever
I love you as the sky loves the trees
I am your support, I am here
your wall, you ceiling and the trees
grow old with me, I love you

//JMS


News

The surgeon falling from grace

A bit story that has been devolving for some time is that of the star surgeon Paolo Macchiarini. He was head-hunted by the Karolinska Institutet, the same institution that decides who will get the Nobel price in medicine.
He had been hailed as a revolutionary surgeon, working with a combination of synthetic and biological base, seeded with the patient stem cells to grow new organs.
Several of his patients died after he operated in synthetic trachea, with only a few still alive, at least one requiring constant life support at this moment. Vanity Fair published an article hinting that he had falsified his research and he is currently under investigation by the Karolinska Institutet.

Politics, immigrants and refugees on the agenda

After Sweden introduced ID checks on trains and ferries coming to sweden the number of refugees has decreased. This topic is however still the hottest one in Sweden. The extreme right wing party, the Swedish Democrats (Sverige Demokraterna) increasings in the polls beacuse of this topic. The ruling parties the Social Democrats (Social Demokraterna) and the Environmental party (Miljöpartiet) have been steady decreasing in the polls for the same reasons.

Short news

-14 persons arrested, in possession of clubs and knives after a tip to the police. Suspected of preparing an attack against a refugee housing.
-Jan-Ove Waldner is retiring from table tennis at the age of 50. Considered one, if not the, greatest player of all time. Sometimes refereed as the “Mozart of table tennis” and in China as the “the evergreen tree” for his extraordinary long careerer.
-An older man died after being hit but a falling tree.

//JMS


Film review

This is the cover art of La tigre e la neve. The cover art copyright is believed to belong to the publisher of the video or the studio which produced the video. The Tiger and the Snow movie poster.

This is the cover art of La tigre e la neve. The cover art copyright is believed to belong to the publisher of the video or the studio which produced the video. The Tiger and the Snow movie poster.

The Tiger and the Snow, Italian film from 2005, directed and staring Roberto Benigni

The story is centred around the absent minded but charming professor of poetry, Attilio de Giovanni (Roberto Benigni) and his obsession with the woman Vittoria (Nicoletta Braschi). The film follows his attempts to seduce her even though she, in a nice way, keeps giving him the cold hand.
We get to follow a story about forgetfulness, a lot of humour, sprinkled with some sadness and romance, all bound together by the fast talking Attilio, a man who enjoys life.

This is a good film. It is very well put together and the story stops you from guessing the end, until you actually see it. The story in itself is OK, but it becomes a great one just because of Roberto Benigni. Any other person doing his role and this would have been a OK film, perhaps even mediocre one. He lifts it up several notches. Not taking the normal romantic Hollywood path, but instead do what he does best, making a film into a poem, or maybe taking a poem and creating a film.
I usually don’t like romantic films for the reason that they get predictable, unoriginal and boring. But this film really manages to stay away from the predictability in its story. It also manages to create some very nice scenes, having a fitting tempo and including some great actors.

For me this is a film you should watch and so I give it 5 swans out of 5 possible.

//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

A creation called “Open” by Veronica

Every creation need a beginning, a middle and an end. The beginning is the foundation, the vision you want to transform to the canvas or to the paper. Sometimes that foundation is based on a failure. Something you did, but the mental image you had never appeared on the canvass, not as you thought it would anyway.
That can be a very good foundation for the next piece, the creation that will obscure the previous one, but never hide it completely.

Open

Open

This creation of Veronica has just such a foundation. It is a multi dimensional image that hides her previous work, but it does not erase it. Giving it the patina that other creations lack, that went from idea to completion without this crucial step. Behind it you can, if you lean in closely, see the old work talking to you, making friends with its new companion, the new work of art.

Open

Open

It is a creation that has a hint, a scent of steam punk mixed with some industrial elements, blending into an amalgamation of difference styles, creating not really something new, rather a new take on something familiar.
A playful game of colours, items and paint makes this work called “Open” fit its name with uncanny
accuracy.

The great thing with this work is that it will never die, not really. It will live on forever as a piece of art, as a memory and even when it will succumb to time, as we all must, it will fule another living being, a nurishment for a tree, growing, and opening, just as this work of art, right now, is opening for you.


.

Written by JMS

A quadrilogy

This gallery contains 4 photos.

In my never ending search for a creative outlet, to find new techniques or just try and fail, I have created my first quadrilogy. More by chance than anything else the four works came to being, being born from a combination of paper, the leftover graphite from when I sharpen my pen and a curiosity […]

Tic-tac-toe – friends, pizza and the embassy

Lucia at the embassy

So a 2 day hitchhike from Craiova to Bucharest created some memorable events, and as always they are the ones you weren’t expecting before.

We had to get up in the crack of dawn on Monday and I don’t mean noon, which is my usually reference to that expression, no I really mean the crack of dawn, 04:00 in the morning.
Chasing the train from Craiova we manage to do in good time, reserved places and all, just that we jumped on the wrong train. Still going our way but our reservations was for the train that in some time passed us, well it got us to a semi-cold Bucharest in good time so that is all that matters.

The hotel let us check in early, thank “whomever you believe in” for that.
The hotel was, how can I put this in a generous way, not that great. The food was expensive, the shower had a tendency to, well shower you in scolding hot water every 2 minutes on the dot and if you ordered a taxi, they just never came.

Well the day turned brighter when we meet a friend had some coffee and they talked and I did what I always do, doodle some, a most relaxing afternoon. Then the rush to our room, change to those cloths I do really hate, the dressed up kind. We had been invited to the Lucia celebration at the Swedish embassy and of course when I heard that my first thought was, “They probably want some paintings from me and my wife”, and they did.

Lucia at the embassy

Lucia at the embassy

We got there late, no taxis and the one we finally found did not know they way, so we were pretty late to say the least. 2 minutes before the Lucia celebration would start. Lucia and her entourage were some students learning Swedish and they were really good I must say. It is not easy singing in Swedish at all. I then managed to ambush the ambassador, I do apologize for that, and presented her with our paintings which she with grace accepted. Me being in charge of the camera of course means that you will not see any pictures at all, I just forgot.
After eating some food, having some wine, we split the joint, but not before having a nice chat with the woman in charge of the coats, she was very nice.
Not being able to get a taxi the very kind Georgiana Pogonaru offered us a lift. She being the honorary consul for Iceland had some interesting stories to tell and being the nice woman that she is she drove us to the hotel. All the thanks to you Mrs P!

Now the fun started to pick up. Meeting some friends in the old center we check out the market and then headed to a bar for some drinks and food. Me being dressed Swedish style I got haunted by questions if I was not cold, and not I was not, promise!. A most pleasant evening with some jokes thrown around and a totally pleasant time, my kind of time, relaxed and super informal. Thanks Sorin and Viorica, you totally rock you two.

So that ended the Monday, now only Tuesday remained and the journey home.

Checked out of the hotel, not a problem, got a taxi, that was a surprise. The Taxi driver was, shall we say original, he wanted Ceausescu back, to shoot some people, well all to ones own I suppose. He kept our change with a swagger, me being content to still be alive I was happy to concede that money to him.

Having 40 minutes to spend waiting for our next bus we headed to our usual watering hole, Sunrise Pizza. In all honesty it is the friendliest pizzeria in Bucharest and we never miss to go there when we have to wait for the bus. This time we only had time for some drinks, but I have had their pizza and it is really good. If you are waiting for your bus or just in the neighborhood pay them a visit, they really make the place feel friendly right after you step in through the door. Of course I made a drawing for them, I can’t help myself, a kind of tick I have I suppose.

And that was about it. Now at home, feeling comfortable I sit and write this text with a strong cup of coffee next to me. Soon we will watch “You, me and the apocalypse”, perfect series to watch and have a cuddle with my wife.

//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

The restaurant

man2

The restaurant

Disclaimer

All characters or places appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons , living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Thanks

Thanks goes to my wife Veronica for always supporting me.

Special thanks goes Teddi and 12 Doispe for the excellent writing environment, thanks mate.

Last but not least to Klasse for the illustration I forced him to do, thanks buddy.

Chapter 1, Sunday

My name is Tim and I am a writer or at least I like to think I am. I muddle along selling articles for small amounts of money, when I can. I try to push my blog filled with commercial, but with small success. Still I am a writer, just not a very successful one. Always looking for a story, you know, that story that will be THE NOVEL, the one that will make all my money worries dissipate into nothingness. So, with my rather tall and scruffy body, I tried to find that story at many different places, bars, restaurants, airports or even the train station, but nothing really worked out. I just did not get any flow and the stories I came up with became predictable and boring. At the train station I kept being interrupted by one alcoholic after another, making my idea to get a story out among the public a rather hopeless task.

Well, shame on the one who gives up, so one night, as I usually write at night, I decided to take a stroll through the city, just walked aimlessly to see where my feet would take me. It was a rather dark and chilly night, it had rained during the day driving most people indoors and leaving the streets mostly deserted. You could see one or two stray dogs quickly getting out of the way and that was about it.

I felt like I was walking through a cliché of a book and perhaps I was, life can be that way sometimes.

Under-dressed, as always, I drew the thin jacket closer around my bony body and hurried my steps. Coming onto a street, not really famous for its public establishments, I passed a building I must have passed a hundred times before without paying any special attention to it, but this night I did.

A non-descriptive concrete building with bricks staring back at me from the spots where they had managed to cling onto the wall. The front door was a glass one, you know the ones you most often find at restaurants, but the building had no sign that gave it away as such a place. I stepped up the few steps to the door and peered in, curious what the purpose of this building was. The glass must have been slightly tinted as, when I got closer, an open space filled with round small tables spread out before my eyes. People were scattered around the place, deep in conversation with some tired looking waitresses walking around, delivering beverages to customers. The inside was cosy, dark wooden panels filled with an assortment of painting and photographs, a classy place would be a good description.

“How have I managed to miss this place?” I thought to myself.

“Maybe it is a private club and that is why, a lot of fishy places in this city;” my mind continued.

“Well, what can they do except throw me out?” and with that I opened the door and stepped in.

The inside heat struck me and I found myself directly liking the place, you know, those places you just feel good in right away.

A passing waitress nodded at me, which I took as an invitation that it was OK to grab a table and sit down.

Letting my eyes scan the place I saw some free tables and a staircase leading to an upper floor.

“Do you have tables up there?” I asked her. She just nodded and waved her hand that I could go upstairs if I wanted to, never uttering a single word. You know how some people can, without saying a single word, convey a feeling or a direction, without actually having to say anything at all.

I nodded and took the stairs to the upper floor, there looking much the same as the lower floor did, without the bar disk that was on ground floor.

Fewer tables and fewer people, I was however not alone and I was glad for that.

I wanted to drink in the atmosphere, get some inspiration and, if I were the only one there, it would have been just like home, and that would have made the point to go out, well, pointless.

No, it had the right amount of people to give me some people to observe, but not so many that their talk would drown out my mind, blocking my writing.

I do love restaurants or bars with a second floor. It gives any bar a relaxed feeling, you get away from the loudest people, you know the ones who always decide to take possession of the first floor where they can be seen.

I took a table close to the stairs so I could keep an eye on the people coming up the stairs, but still away from the centre of attention, giving me a chance to observe but not being observed myself.

The tables here were the same as downstairs, small wooden ones, round with the patina of having been through many years, without looking worn or cheap in any way. I think they might have been oak tables, but they did not have the weight of oak, sturdy without any wobble. The chairs were made of the same material with a nice high backrest, furnished with a leather stuffing that made leaning back a real treat.

While I waited for a waitress I unpacked my laptop, arranged my bag and jacket on one of the extra chairs so I could use the whole surface of the table, and then I started up my computer. While it ticked away, taking its time as always, being old but with a new battery, I spend the time looking at people.

They talked in a low rather sober tone, if I should put a feeling to it after only a brief glance.

I also heard some hidden speakers playing music, but with volume turned down so low I could not really make out what kind of music they were playing, something slow guessing by the beat.

The waitress came and I ordered my standard beverage, a draught beer and she nodded, never asking me what brand I wanted, just accepted I wanted a beer and went to get me one.

“Wow, this is really the place for me. No stupid question, no phoney smiles or asking me how I am doing without actually wanting to hear my answer” I thought to myself and felt pretty damn fine.

 


 

Chapter 2, the story of the man,  Sunday

The beer came, my computer had started up and so had my favourite word processor Open Office and my mind, as always, went blank. I had no idea what to write, no story came to me, so I sipped my beer and prayed to the gods of inspiration to come to me and lend a hand, but of course they have more important things to do, still you can always hope.

Just aimlessly looking at people, sipping my beer and lighting a cigarette, as the ashtrays seemed to indicate that it was OK, I just sat at my table spacing out.

Suddenly a man came to my table, not that old, maybe in his 40s, but with a worn appearance on his face that made him look older.

“Are you a writer?” he asked, probably taking a guess from my unused computer in front of me.

“Well I try to be, please have a seat” I motioned with my hand to the free chair opposite me.

“I came here to write, but seems I have no real inspiration, so I would appreciate a talk if you are up for one.”

He nodded, sat down, the waitress looked at him but did not approach the table to ask if he wanted something.

“Do you want something to drink? I feel bad drinking if you have nothing.”

“No, I don’t want to drink anything.”

He looked down at the table for the longest time and then raised his head, looking straight at me with his staring almost haunted eyes.

“I have a story to tell you if you are interested, something I have needed to get off my chest for the longest time.”

“I am always interested if you want to tell me, do you mind if I take notes?”

“I don’t mind,” he said and again looked down at the table surface, staying silent for the longest time.

After what felt like 10 minutes, but probably was just 30 seconds, he started to tell me his story.

“I used to be a UN soldier back in the 90s, Bosnian war, you know.”

“Yeah, some horrible shit happening there, I remember“, I said just to keep the talk going, as the man, who never introduced himself, had gone silent again. I waited, did not want to stress or rush him, just wanted to hear what he had to say.

“We were stationed in Bosnia, just a few of us, no mandate, just going with our whitewashed armoured personnel carriers trying to deter killing, but rather helpless to really do anything about it. You know, like a policeman that nobody listens to.“

He scratched the table with his fingernail, almost like he was drawing out an imaginary map of where he had been.

“Away from all the villages there was a house we used to pass on our patrols, small house with a young family living there. They always came out and smiled at us, just happy to see us, I guess.

They had a small boy who used to kick a deflated football ball, showing off, and he was not bad at all. His sister always stood by, a bit older and probably a bit embarrassed, you know the way siblings are.”

He smiled a faint smile, a happy memory, if only slightly so, as his small smile waned away quickly.

“So, every week we drove by this house, always they came out and greeted us, always looking so friendly. So after a couple of times we began to stop and have our meal break at this house. They did knew some English, not much but a bit anyway so we talked some, played some football with the kid and some soldiers flirted with the sister in that kind of friendly way you do when you are just fooling around a bit.

She was really beautiful, but we got so friendly with the family that we rather saw her as sister more than anything else.

She really was a beauty, she really was…” again his voice trails away and fades out, taking a break, gathering energy to continue.

Now his fingernail is making the outlines of a house, there are the walls, the chimney and some stick figures being drawn in the table surface and, as quickly as you see the outlines, they disappear again.

The man takes out his wallet and hands me a photograph.

“There they are, me in the middle, Dino holding the football we got him.”

I looked at the photo showing some soldiers standing in front of a house with big smiles on their faces, a kid making rabbit ears behind the head of one, while keeping his ball with the other hand, a girl stroking her hair behind her ears and the parents laughing, standing a bit to the side.

The photo was folded many times, looked like it was a polaroid, not of the best quality and quite faded with age.

I handed the photo back to him and he carefully folded it and put it back in his wallet from where he had taken it out.

Still, he did not look up at me, stared for the longest time at the wallet, reliving some memories I assumed and I did not want to disturb him, so I sat patiently, sipped my beer, waited and looked at him.

His face, now haggard even more so than before, he started to to talk again.

“Things started to get worse, more and more killings took place and we could do nothing. The family got worried, the smile of the parents disappeared and only the children seemed not effected. They also worried, but showed it less and in a better way kept up the appearance, strange should have been the opposite. Who knows, maybe we made them feel safe, if only for the short time we were around.

We got assigned another patrol area and no longer got to drive by their house, it was a dangerous time and we really did not have much time to think about the family. We mentioned them in passing, wondered how the kid liked the football ball we had given to him and so on.”

Now he sighs deeply, some bad memory must have come back in vivid colours.

“Then we finally got to patrol that area again, looking forward to meeting the family, have some jokes with them, but most of all make sure they were doing OK.

In was on a Wednesday, really crappy weather, winter snow had melted and then frozen again, making the small roads incredible slippery.

It took us forever to drive to the house, but around two thirty we came to the bend after which we would see the house again.

The motor strained, the wheels slipped, but finally we managed to get around the corner. Nobody came out to welcome us like they used to, no smoke from the chimney and even from afar the house looked cold and empty.

Maybe they have left, someone said, it has been pretty many killings in these parts.

We did not use the term ethnic cleansing at this time, not we the soldiers anyway, but we knew that many bad things were happening.

We drove closer, keeping an eye out for anything, maybe they were just hiding, maybe some militia men were around, we did not know, you see.”

Again he stopped, I knew something horrible had happened , I could see that on his face, it was contorting as he spoke, turning more and more grim and worn.

“Then we saw them, they just laid there in front of the house, the front door open like they just had got out to greet someone, maybe they thought it was us, I don’t know.

The mother was holding Dino in her arms, he hold the broken ball in his arms, both shot dead, cold and white, some snow covering their poor faces. The father must have screamed and tried to stop whoever did it, as he even in death had a running pose.

Then the sister, that beautiful girl….”

He started to cry, the tears started slowly falling down his cheeks and they did not stop, all the time he looked down that table.

I offered him a napkin but he did not take it, maybe he did not even see it, maybe he needed to cry and I let him.

“They had…they had..raped her, her dress all messed up, her face screaming, dress soaked in blood, such a horrible sight I have never seen in my life….that beautiful girl.”

He took a deep breath and then continued.

“So we documented the place, tried to detach ourselves from the horror, do our job. After that, we buried them together, Dino with his football ball.

I never managed to get over this, that image still haunts my memory every night, every god damn night I see this in front of me.”

Going quiet again, his tears slowly stopping, drying on his worn face.

”I just needed to get this off my chest,” he finally said.

Then he looked up at me again, tears now completely dried, that empty hollow stare, like he was looking through me, maybe still seeing that house, with those dead people.

“Thanks for listening.”

“Thank you for sharing your story with me. I am so sorry.” not knowing what else to say.

He nodded, put out his hand and I shook it, then he went back to his table and sat down. At the table sat a young curly boy waiting for him, his son I assumed. They continued their conversation, maybe the one they had stopped when he decided to come and talk to me. The boy had a striking resemblance to the boy in the picture, it was not him, but looking very much like him.

The story had captured me so much that I had forgotten to take notes, forgot to ask him more details about where it had happened, the name of all the family members.

Somehow I did not want to write this down, and somehow I knew that I had to write, it needed to be put down on paper, maybe a way to keep that family alive, in memory if nothing else. The story needed to be told and maybe that was his purpose, to make me tell his story.

I finished my beer, left some money on the table, probably way more than I should, I just needed to get out, needed to get some fresh air. Walking down the stairs, nodding in a distracted way to the waitress I passed on the stairs, navigating between the tables I went out in to the cold night, glad for the fresh air.

My feet took me home. I had enough of going through the streets freezing, I just needed to get home and start writing, getting this story down in my laptop and then I wanted to sleep, I needed to sleep.

Written by
JMS

This is a preview of the book to be published as soon as it is finished.