Tuesday, April 29, 2008


I bought a package of gum today for 52 Norwegian kroner. Hm ... what's a kroner? Are they like yen? Well, not really. In fact, they're more valuable than Euros. USD to kroner value is about 1:5.3 right now. Easy math, but it's kind of hard to get into my head that I spent ... 10 dollars ... on a pack ... of gum.

Unless we discover an underground cubic mile of oil in North Dakoka (because there's nothing else that would prevent the American dollar from continuing its quick-tanking downward spiral), it'll be a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing, this trip of mine to Oslo. And we'll all have to start vacationing in the Wisconsin Dells. Unless, and here's my plan people, we ALL move to Oslo now, do a little work for a couple of years, enough to get a pension at retirement, and then move BACK to America and eat nothing but pie and expensive cocktails. Think about it, with Norwegian kroner in your pocket, you'd never have to buy nail clippers at Walgreens again. You'll never use the same bath towel twice. You can buy friends, botox your entire body into incredible shape & live off the fat of the land.

Anyway, it's an idea.
Lemme know if anybody feels like visiting. The taxi ride from the airport is only about 750 trillion dollars.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Eternal Dusk of the Sleep-Deprived Mind

I slept on Friday night, but it's Monday and with only a couple cat naps in between, I'm actually feeling a little wired. It might be the perpetual sunlight, except it's more like perpetual twilight. From four o'clock in the afternoon on, it just feels like it's 7:30p. You keep expecting the sun to go down, but then it doesn't go down for another six hours. It gets dark at 10. Dark-ish.

How do you know when you're in Norway?

1. It sounds a lot like people are speaking English, or German. You can speak Norwegian, too. All you need is a retainer that lifts your lips off your face about an inch. You can also use your fingers. Try saying "Tuesday" in this position. If it comes out sounding like TEERSDAYK, you're in business. (The Norwegian word is spelled "Tirsdag.") Now try Wednesday and Thursday. UNNSDAYK? TURDSDEH? Right on. The Norwegian words for Wednesday and Thursday are Onsdag and Torsdag. See how easy?

2. When you're in Germany and you say to somebody, "Sorry, but do you speak English?" they answer either "a little" or "yeah." In Norway they look at you with unmistakable irony on their weathered, coastal faces. They don't sort of speak English here. They just do.

3. The entire city is actually a really enormous IKEA. And the people look like shoppers in an IKEA store, smiling quietly, sipping cappuccino, modestly looking left and right as they talk on their cell phones crossing the street. In fact, Norway has to be the capital of painfully nice, nervy, pale-faced white people. I've found my lost tribe. Boarding the plane from Copenhagen to Oslo was like walking onto the cast of Lord of the Rings.

I'd tell you to google earth Den Norske Opera (where I'm working) but the opera house is so new that Christopher Alden's L'Orfeo is actually the official, inaugural opera, there (our Mr. Orfeo is a little fatter than the one in these pictures ... more on that later.)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Berlin, It's Been Real

Friends, countryman, moms, wizened grad students, Berliners who bed at sunrise: you've been so kind to follow my bloo.. WHOA! ... I mean my thoughts here in Berlin. For the next month, please tune in to the Opera Cabal blog for more music-related commentary. I'll continue posting instances of idiosyncratic absorption on this page as well.

It's 6:19am at the Tegel airport and Starbucks is playing the same James Taylor/Neil Young/Rufus Wainright/Amy Winehouse mix I've been hearing here for the last two months. My last latte was ... divine.