Much Is Said In Jest Rotating Header Image

A father and son’s traumatic Swedish Christmas party

A traumatic Swedish Christmas storySanta pulled out a box wrapped in animal gift paper and read out a name. In front of him, my son Herman and a pack of mostly blonde-haired 3-year-olds dressed like Santa Claus and gingerbread men waved their arms. One by one, with a gift in hand, they ran to their parents who opened their eyes wide and feigned surprise. I watched from the side and began to panic.

My Swedish wife had the flu that night. So I was at my son’s Santa Lucia and Christmas party without my full-time guide who makes sure I don’t make any missteps on the slippery Swedish etiquette slopes. “Please come with me,” I begged her before I left the house.

I’ve lived in Sweden for nine years. I get six weeks of paid vacation and have had months of paid paternity leave. But it’s not all good. A Swede can sit next to you on the couch and keep their mouth shut for hours. Forget about small talk – they don’t know how. And the Swedish language challenges me at every tongue twist and turn. After all these years, I still have to think about what comes out of my mouth. When I speak, people often squint their eyes and tilt their heads slightly.

Recently, when my 6-year-old daughter corrected my Swedish, it dawned on me that I’d turned into that immigrant father, the one who’s always embarrassing his “native kids.”

Inside Herman’s daycare, the sweet smell of warm mulling wine and home-made saffron buns drifted through the air. I stood in the back of a dark room while the kids sang songs about Lucia and Christmas.

Swedes might be the most irreligious people in the world, but they are zealous about Santa Lucia day. The week before Christmas, cities, towns and schools elect a Lucia, who wears a crown of candles and stands at the front of a choir procession. Her lit crown leads the way through the winter darkness.

After Herman’s concert, I battled through conversations with shy Swedes. My son has blonde hair and blue eyes, so that gave me some Swedish street cred. But he’s no great conversationalist. “I’m a bunny rabbit,” he whispered. All night he hopped around on all fours.

Once I captured him, we sat down to eat. I had already planned our exit strategy by the time I had digested the second Swedish meatball. But then Santa appeared on stage, and the kids ran to him. He began to hand out presents.

I turned to one of Herman’s teachers. “How generous. Who bought the presents for the kids?” I asked.

“The parents were supposed to bring gifts for their children,” she said.

I looked up at Herman, dressed in a gingerbread man outfit with a floppy brown hat. He waited for a gift that didn’t exist. Could I take a toy from daycare and wrap it up? No, that wouldn’t work. No time. And he’d probably recognize it, I thought.

I’d been so busy trying to prevent disaster that I hadn’t noticed that a mom had appeared by my side. Her super mom radar must have spotted something near the stage. She asked me if I needed a gift. “Yes, thank you, I don’t know what happened,” I babbled.

She had run away before I finished speaking. Herman now stood alone with Santa on stage. “Hmmm,” Santa said, “Let’s see,” and then froze when he found no more presents in his sack.

At that moment, the mom tapped my shoulder and handed me a little package. I distracted Herman and dropped it into Santa’s bag. Once again with a purpose, Santa dipped his arm into the sack. He whispered something to Herman and pulled out the gift.

Herman ran to me, and we opened it. “I hate this gingerbread man book,” he screamed. I forced a smile and thanked the mom one last time. Finally, we could get out of there.

When we got home, I took him upstairs to read. But I left the gingerbread man book downstairs. It was too soon.

He picked a book in Swedish about a hedgehog whose mom sends him out on his own to fend for himself. I usually only read to him in English, but that night I was too tired to fight.

After we read I kissed him and said good night. A few minutes later I came back upstairs to shut off the lights. He lay passed out under a heap of books scattered on his bed. That’s when I saw it. I was extremely proud. Leaning on the side of his pillow, just next to his head, lay the classic children’s book “Go Dog Go”, and it was in English.

Let your kids eat cotton candy every day

Fairy Bread
What’s up with the way parents feed their kids these days? Who, exactly, is in charge?

Is it the maniacal 3-year-old? Is it the screaming child who, if given the choice, would prefer to eat and drink cotton candy for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day of the week? Well, if my anecdotal evidence is anywhere near accurate, then yes…the kiddy maniacs are in charge.

I can’t tell you how many little bastards I’ve seen at tables, fighting like hell, like little crabs with drool foaming out of their mouths, tears boiling up out of their puffed up eyes as they torture their parents into feeding them the universe’s worst excuses for food.

These are modern processed foods, poisons really. Let’s not call em food.

I mean, cause let’s be honest, these things, these processed foods are killing us. You know, the ones you find in the middle of the supermarket, the ones with the enriched flours, the sugars, the corn syrups, the endless lists of ingredients which read more like license plates than actual foods, the ones the food giants spend millions on to find the so-called “bliss point” that will get us hooked and keep us hooked.

These quasi “foods” are the ones are kids are addicted to, because, well, let’s be honest, most of us are too. So it’s our fault, but now we have these monster children whipping up levels of fear, hurricane force winds of ferociousness that frighten parents to the core. So what do we do? We give them the poison so we don’t have to fight them and to avoid making a scene.

We are so fucking spoiled. We have 870 million kids in the world suffering from chronic undernourishment and in the West, our little spoiled bastards of kids are fighting us, like squirrels battling over autumn’s last acorn, over every single goddamned, monotonous meal we serve them.

But it’s not their fault. It’s our fault. People want their kids to be their best friends. Parents are scared their kids are going to starve. Really? They might starve because they skipped one meal? How sick are we? They’re not going to fucking starve…they’re going to get fat.

Because you’re too scared to take the battle with your kid, because you don’t want to hurt their feelings, because you, not them, but YOU, are scared they’re going to starve, you feed them these modern day, taxpayer subsidized poisons. Hotdogs, bread, hamburgers, more bread, past, cereal, more bread, donuts, more bread, bagels, more bread, pizza, and oh yeah, more bread. Juices, the apple, the orange, the naked, the this, the that. The crackers, the cookies, need I go on?

We’re setting our kids up for disaster.

So because we don’t know how to parent, or maybe because we ourselves never got good, healthy food, we’re destroying our kids, we’re wasting food, we’re creating little spoiled punks who think that as long as they kick and scream and cry they’ll get whatever they want in life. These are the people who will be running our world one day. Imagine that. These little fake food junkies. We’re putting our future in their little chubby hands.

If you think the leaders of this demented planet have screwed us up, just wait. Wait until you see what happens when the little turds we’re now pumping up with these government sanctioned counterfeit excuses for foods get their reigns on the power.

So bask in the present and avoid the difficulties of real parenting today. Plop down some poison on your kids’ plates and enjoy the peace and quiet and their smiles, while they last.




Welcome to Sweden: Why the new sitcom sucks

Swedish sitcom, Welcome to Sweden

You can watch Welcome to Sweden on TV Play

Maybe you heard that Sweden’s TV4 is airing a sitcom called Welcome to Sweden about an American guy who falls in love with a hot Swedish woman and leaves his great job in NYC to move to Stockholm?

Well, that’s pretty much my story about moving to Sweden. Except that I moved from New Jersey and had no job or money when I moved here. On the other hand, my Swedish wife IS hot, so there’s one similarity.

Welcome to Sweden disappoints

In one of the opening scenes, the Swedish customs agent looks through every last inch of the American guy’s baggage and asks him a bunch of tough questions.

That cliche is ridiculous. Sweden may have the most friendly customs agents in the world — in many ways they act exactly the opposite of the customs agents any foreigner will have to face upon entering America.

This would have been funnier

The guy walks up to the customs booth . He looks around, and waits a while, but he can’t find anyone. Then he sees them off in a room to the side eating fika — cinnamon buns and coffee. They’re taking their union protected break.

Then a super nice customs agent comes out and welcomes him to Sweden in a very friendly and pro-American way (because Swedes love America).

“Where do you come from?” he asks. “Oh, I love the New York Rangers,” he says in a thick Swedish accent. “I am going to Manhattan this summer and we are planning on going up to Harlem to eat pulled pork.” (The number one Google search term for food in Sweden in 2013 was “Pulled Pork” — they can’t get enough of it.)

The actual and realistic cultural differences between Americans and Swedes are enough to make people laugh.

My wife and I got married in Sweden. Our wedding was the real version of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”.

Her blonde-haired, blue-eyed, parents had the fear of death in their eyes as we tossed them up in the air on chairs during the Hava Nagila. They grew up in the classiest of neighborhoods in Stockholm, and had the right last names, and know how to use a fork and knife.

My East Coast Jewish parents — both second-generation immigrants who grew up barely middle class, with little money, fewer manners, and the complete inability to use a knife together with a fork — talked too much, too loud and had a hard time trying to understand why Swedes didn’t talk much at all.

Welcome to Sweden has broken through barriers but the writers failed to capitalize on the hysterical things that happen when these two cultures clash.

It’s the first sitcom with a lot of English ever aired on Swedish TV and will be interesting to see how it does. Now I understand that NBC in the United States has bought the rights to the show. That’s even more interesting.

I will, however, have to watch one more episode when my man Will Farrell makes a guest appearance.

I know I’ve been tearing it up, but for those of you thinking about moving to Sweden to make a go of it, I suggest watching Welcome to Sweden. While it’s not too realistic, it may help with your Swedish language skills.

And truth be told, I’ve seen worse sitcoms.

Let me know: Have you seen it? What did you think?


The best reasons to work in Sweden: Master Guide Part 2

The best reasons to work in Sweden

I’m an expert on what it’s like to work in Sweden. I’ve lived here for nine years and have had jobs in the corporate sector and the public sector. It’s pretty amazing to work in Sweden.

1.You can tell your boss to go screw yourself without getting fired.  I haven’t tried this one yet, but I’ve been pretty close a few times.

2. You get incredible benefits, including at least 5 weeks of vacation time and unbelievable parental benefits. Many companies give you more money when you are on vacation.

3. You’ve heard of Minecraft? Skype? Spotify? All Swedish. Sweden ranks high in innovative companies. Look where Sweden scores on the latest innovation capacity index ratings.

4. Oh, yes, we’ve all heard it, Sweden is a socialist nightmare.


So if innovation doesn’t do it for you, how about another benefit of working in Sweden? Get rich! Join the ranks of Sweden’s billionaires. You may be surprised to know that Sweden has a bunch of guys in the b club…why are they all guys by the way?

Now, tell me about your successes and failures about finding a job in Sweden.



Finding jobs in Sweden: The Master Guide Part 1

Finding jobs in Sweden

Many people are finding jobs in Sweden, even Gold statue man.

Guess how many people who speak English are interested in finding jobs in Sweden?

Google says 5,400 people per month search for that exact term — “Finding jobs in Sweden.”

So you’ve had it with your country! You’re sick and tired of two weeks of vacation or think the population is too obese. Or maybe you’ve fallen in love with a beautiful Swedish woman who’s promising you that you can easily find a job in Sweden. Or maybe you’re fleeing war or poverty. Or maybe you’re stuck living in Sweden and can’t find a job.

Or maybe you love Abba? Or maybe you love fish? Maybe you like Stieg Larsson’s Millenium trilogy? I can go on and on, but won’t.

For those of you hoping on finding work in Sweden, you need to know it can be a jungle out there, but you can do it.

Attitude is the key.

Here are a few tips.

Job sites to help in finding jobs in Sweden

1. A direct link to the Public employment service’s website. Don’t fear, this is in Swedish, but there’s a window on the site that says “Platsbanken”. Throw your search word in there, in English, it’s ok, and you’ll be on your way. I usually start off with searching for “native English” or “English” in most of my job searches.

2. The Local, an English news website covering Sweden, has a pretty good job board to help you find a job in Sweden.

3. Jobbsafari is another Swedish language site for finding work in the country, but I think it’s worth checking out.

On the top of the page you’ll see “Söka jobb”, that’s where you put in your search term. Then the window on your right you can choose to search in “Hela Sverige”, which means all of Sweden, or choose a particular county — län means county.

I just threw in “Native English” and “Stockholm County” in the search bar and found hundreds of hits.

4. Indeed is another good site in Swedish…you can do it in Swedish, no worries. The box for “Vad” means what, put in your search term there, and the box for “Var” means where.

5. is also an awesome job site and it’s in English!

6. Now if you can’t figure out how to find a job in Sweden, try to find a rich Swede to partner with. That way he or she can take care of you and you can hang out around town, look at the pretty people, listen to Swedish pop music, eat lots of fish and go cold bathing.

Information on working in Sweden

1. This is Sweden’s official site about work in Sweden. It’s an amazing resource with more tips on job sites and tons of other good stuff. Plus it’s a pretty radical website.

2. The Public Employment Service has a nice, easy-to-use pamphlet on working in Sweden and the details around moving here.

3. Here’s another good article from Göteborg Daily with tips on getting a job in Sweden.

Stay tuned for the Finding jobs in Sweden Master Guide Part 2, where we’ll hear from some real, live Swedes.

In the meantime, tell me about your successes or struggles in trying to find work in Sweden.



Eating Swedish meatballs? Don’t forget lingonberries — a new superfood that could prevent weight gain

Swedish food

Swedish lingonberries are eaten on blood pudding

Everyone knows Swedish meatballs are a hardy meal that will keep you energized in all seasons. But today, a lot of people are talking about that little red condiment that’s jammed between the meat and the potatoes — Swedish lingoberries.

Scientists at Lund University in Sweden have discovered that Swedish lingonberries can almost completely prevent the weight gain caused by a high fat diet. If you don’t know, lingonberries are like a more bitter version of cranberries — generally eaten with meatballs and other meaty Swedish food.

The bitter lingonberry does a good job of cutting into the fat and often creamy and rich Swedish food sauces. My kids eat lingonberries with blood pudding…..mmmm. Believe me, I have the stained clothing to prove it.

Now it looks like Swedish lingonberries do more than just giving your palate a break.

The Swedish scientists fed mice a high fat diet to make them obese. Then they gave the mice supplements of different types of Swedish berries, including lingonberries. The mice that ate these berries, especially the lingonberries, did not gain as much weight and had lower blood glucose levels.

“The results were quite surprising for us that lingonberries, especially, could almost completely prevent the weight gain in a high fat diet,” says Karin Berger, a diabetes researcher at Lund University. “It seems like it’s good to eat lingonberries, but we want to first now look at the mechanisms behind this.”


5 reminders that I live in Sweden

Swedish fish

Smoked Swedish fish

1. Today I was reminded I live in Sweden because we had lunch, and my son said, “Yay, mackerel!”

2. Jimmie Åkesson, the leader of the anti-immigrant, right wing party, is off from politics right now because he is on paternity leave.

3. I had a two-week vacation over Christmas and New Year’s, and I have another week of vacation at the end of January. We’re going skiing.

4. My 6-month-old son is outside sleeping in his baby carriage. It’s just below freezing out there.

5. A few days ago while my in-laws were visiting they had to interrupt the visit to watch the TV — a cross-country skiing competition was on.

How Will Ferrell is talking about Swedish Christmas again

Will Ferrell recently answered some hysterical questions about Swedish Christmas on the Jonathon Ross show. In this classic clip, Ferrell says several of the more quirky Swedish Christmas customs stem from the fact that Swedes are rabid consumers and still don’t have electricity.

Sweden’s love affair with snus: What’s it all about?

This is the palace that Swedish tobacco snus built.

This is the palace that Swedish tobacco snus built.

In Sweden, you can’t avoid snuff tobacco or snus, as it’s called by Swedes. In fact, I live next door to the so-called Snus King’s castle. Knut Fredrik Ljunglöf finished the enormous palace in 1893, thirty years after taking over his father’s successful tobacco snus company.

And Ljunglöfs Ettan is still one of Sweden’s most popular snus brands on the market.

When I moved to Sweden eight years ago, I had no idea that Swedes did snus…I thought it was only Americans who chewed tobacco. So I was even more surprised to learn that women did it too. And I don’t mean to be a male chauvinist, but good looking women…women who did snus while putting on their make-up at the same time.

In fact, the other day, I was doing a story for a radio show I work for, and the female police officer I was interviewing changed her snus tobacco two times during the interview.

My Swedish brother-in-law and my father-in-law both do it. And everyone tries it at least once. As I’m sitting here writing this now, my Swedish wife says, ”If you’re Swedish, you have to try it.”

So how Swedish is snus? I would say it’s up there with some of the classic ”Swedish” things out there – like skiing, eating meatballs, swimming in really cold water, and taking tons of vacations.

It’s so ingrained in the Swedish culture that in 1995 when Sweden joined the EU, the country was granted an exception and was allowed to continue to manufacture and sell snus inside Sweden. Many at the time said that if snus was banned, that Sweden would not have joined the EU.

There’s also a pretty cool Swedish tobacco museum in Stockholm. Check that out.

So, have you tried it? Do you like it or not? Come on now, I want to hear your stories about Swedish snus.

Don’t miss Sweden’s funny skit from Eurovision 2013 — a look at life in Sweden