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The scenario: Blather North's roving and raving reporter, Barry Kavanagh, attends a party at Mir in Oslo for the radio show SuperSoniskSommer on the station RadiOrakel (see poster) and gets backstage to interview Tollef Berger of the legendary musical duo Tøyen, who are playing at the event. This is a reunion concert for the once-famous band. The interview, in which Barry wields his trusty 'list of topics to talk about', is followed with some Tøyen music, courtesy of their former record company. Mp3 21 min 59 secs. Recorded by Barry Kavanagh and edited by John Birger Wormdahl. (Next week: artist Trond Arne Vangen and the Norwegian drinking culture!) Update August 2009: owing to the unfortunate proliferation of spiders in the Blather Dream Dome, this podcast is no longer available. Update July 2011: owing to there never having been any spiders in the Blather Dream Dome, this podcast is available once...

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One of the things this blog has been is an introduction to Norwegian music for the unwary. But is there anything identifiable as Norwegian music? Is there a 'Norwegian sound'? (Obviously when it comes to folk music, like Nils Økland and Unni Løvlid, it's very easy to attach the label 'Norwegian music', but folk music is not what I'm writing about here). Five years ago when asked if there was a definable Norwegian sound I would have said 'yes'. The true answer is 'yes and no'. I would say I was right about what I said 'yes' about, but probably wrong in general. I hope you follow. Let me pour a large cup of coffee and explain. No, wait, make that a small cup. I don't want to be up all night. It made perfect sense to me that there was a 'Norwegian sound' when I was listening to the...

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#1: Grunneier Part one of three. Blather North's roving and raving reporter, Barry Kavanagh, attends a party at Mir in Oslo for the radio show SuperSoniskSommer on the station RadiOrakel (see poster) and interviews a random member of the public, a chef called Nils, who had been presented a list of topics he could choose to talk about. He chose the Norwegian concept of grunneier and talks about it. Mp3 9 min 11 secs. Recorded by Barry Kavanagh and edited by John Birger Wormdahl. (Next week: some music from Tøyen.) Update August 2009: owing to repeated court actions by Concerned Parents Against, this podcast is no longer available.

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Blather.net is currently being edited from Dublin (Ireland), London (UK) and Oslo (Norway). Needless to say, the North blog is edited here in Oslo. What we like to do in the Blather organization is compare all these environments, totally ignoring all the mad shit that's going on in the rest of the world. So we sent a Norwegian agent to Dublin to give us his impressions of Irish life, and this is what he wrote. Irish television. I didn't go to Ireland to watch hours and hours of television. So rather than doing serious research on the subject, I decided to watch a random channel for 30 minutes and draw a conclusion from that: Irish television is a laid back talk show. The guest is an old man telling stories about all the cats that used to live in the Guinness brewery. Source: TG4 Introductions in Ireland: An introduction. The...

While my computer died and I was getting a new hard drive, a large number of North readers emailed me about this story of a penguin who was a member of the Norwegian armed forces (!) getting knighted. Watch the video here. Yes, we have heard about this absurd story in Norway, vaguely, but the Norwegian population don't realize how big the story is, and how no-one will ever take them seriously again. About anything. Ever. While we're on the subject of penguins, I have learned that some dadaist-type people I know once went to the Norwegian parliament on behalf of the penguins of Bouvet Island, demanding their rights! And while we're on the subject of Bouvet Island, it seems that last year a Norwegian research station on the island disappeared! Possibly blown away. Or have the penguins got more militant? And what do they think of the penguin who...

Oslo's massive outdoor summer music festival is called Øya, but the first night of the festival takes place indoors in all the clubs in town, and is called Klubbøya. This year my band Dacianos played Klubbøya. The band currently consists of me, Håkon the drummer, Marius the metallophone player and Ilmar the cellist. I sing and play harmonium, piano or guitar depending on the song. For this show, we didn't want to just get up and sing a bunch of songs, so we picked our weirdest pieces, and made it more of a 'performance'. But as it turned out, the other bands playing with us that night were quite straight. Throughout the show I didn't feel we were communicating with the audience at all. Out of the 100 strangers there I think we only converted about 2 of them. Afterwards I learned that the piano was too quiet, and that...

Recently Aftenposten reported that new statistics show that one in four people living in Oslo is a foreign immigrant, i.e. non-Norwegian, i.e. like me. The breakdown goes like this: Year: 1998. Population of Oslo: 499,693. No. of immigrants: 85,550. Percentage: 17. Year: 2008. Population of Oslo: 560,484. No. of immigrants: 137,878. Percentage: 24.5. So what does this mean for "us" and for "them" ? 1. If all the immigrants went on strike, Oslo would not be able to function. Obviously immigrants make up a significant part of the workforce, especially doing the jobs that Norwegians wouldn't do. 2. If all the immigrants went on strike, there'd be no-one to tell the Norwegians what to do, because we're all over-qualified for our jobs. 3. The issue of institutional racism will come more into focus. Foreigners' job applications tend to get rejected because of their "foreign-looking" (particularly "Arabic-looking") names. So it's quite...

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I've been looking through my uploaded photos of recent art exhibitions and music shows we've put on. There's a lot missing (sorry Jens Hamran, sorry Somadrone) but here's some pics that weren't lost. First off, the Hilmar Fredriksen exhibition. He projected a pretty cool film onto the bar, and you can see a frame from it, with our barman Martin underneath looking, er, arty. Click to enlarge. He also filled the other walls with framed pictures, thematically linked to the film. (Le clique = L'enlargement.) At the moment, we have 8 massive self-portraits by Jørgen Emanuel Enger, a young photographer and former "street kid". (Die Klikk ist Das Enlargement.) And recently we had an award-winning performance artist, Chris Erichsen, who was suitably mad. You can just about see him behind the veil-like curtain, with masked terrorists projected onto it. This picture actually looks vaguer when enlarged, so I won't provide...

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A hilarious article has appeared in Dagbladet detailing the destruction that occurred on Spasibar's last night. Here's a photo from Dagbladet showing how they trashed the furniture - but even though the business is in a building owned by the art school, it was Spasibar's own furniture, so they were free to do so. Whether they were free to light a bonfire on stage is another question... Maria Kartveit, one of the owners of the unusual business, told the newspaper that "We burned the entrance money that we got, and the clothes we had on us. After that we left the place, naked." The journalist then asked Maria "The pictures show that the place looks like a battle-field after the party was over." Maria responded, "Yes, wasn't it great? We should get a medal from the fire brigade for throwing such a good party." When she was reminded that the...

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She's back in the news! The 'psychic' Norwegian Princess Märtha Louise (pictured above). The controversy this time is that her angel school has begun courses for children. For a small fee, the children will learn how to communicate with angels and how to see auras. Märtha's partner in this angel-business, Elisabeth Samnøy, told the newspaper Dagbladet in an email published on 28 June that "people have their distinctive character and their own inner power. This is valid, naturally, for adults, youths and children." Obviously there are those who see this angel course for kids as manipulation of the minds of children, while others point out that most children are exposed to religious doctrine by their parents anyway, so what's the difference? Are Märtha's "light-beings" different to the guardian angels that Catholic children find solace in? I suppose the difference between the angel school and a more traditional religion is that...