Dispatches from Sweden

At 5 a.m. this morning, an apartment a mere block or so away from here just, well, blew up. We never heard a thing.

Strangely, the man who lived in the apartment had just been released from jail - he'd been there for allegedly stealing from his employer: He took rare books from the Royal Library, Sweden's answer to the Library of Congress.

Our current guest living in the spare bedroom, the crazy music producer who is a firm believer in all kinds of conspiracies, thinks the guy was done in by the people he sold the books to.

"That's what happens when you start dealing with those kind of people," the crazy music producer said.

The Swedish word for the day is sprängämne. It means explosives.
Who ever thought that cherries in liqueur and covered in chocolate was a good thing? Why do confectioners bother to put them in boxes of chocolate, bearing a disturbing resemblance to my idea of what eyeballs in cough syrup must be like, sitting uneaten in their gold wrappers until one day, sick of seeing them languish in a little bowl on top of the sugar canister, I am forced to eat them, one by one?

The Swedish word for the day is besserwisser. It is stolen directly from German, I have no doubt, and means know it all.
Someone has decided that the little statue of an adolescent girl on Karlavägen must have been cold. They've given her a coat. I have no picture, but you'll just have to take my word for it that she looks all warm and snug now. Giving statues clothes is apparently a Stockholm thing.

The Swedish words for the day are halsduk and vantar. They mean scarf and mittens.

From: “How to Learn Swedish in 1000 Difficult Lessons,” © Francis Strand

Read more offbeat real-life content, in the Dec. 2004/Jan. 2005 issue of "Arte Six."