Saturday, April 30, 2016

Happy 70th Carl-Gustaf, King of Sweden!

MASS MoCA is marvelous!

selfie at Mass MOCA
Hej everyone!  We headed out to MASS MoCA over spring break. If you haven't been yet I highly recommend it for all ages. We love going there.  It's an art space housed in an old mill in North Adams, MA renovated to house contemporary art exhibits with a freewheeling, fun approach to modern art (and a wonderful gift shop and brewery on site to boot!)
This is a smattering of what we saw this time around - a Sol LeWitt retrospective (what a perfect place to view it!); and Alex Da Corte's "Free Roses" show, a provocative exhibit exploring banal items under neon lights.  The museum's website states -
art by Alex Da Corte - very cool
Da Corte is particularly attracted to objects, which, in his words, “he doesn’t understand or doesn’t like.” He tries to strip his work of his own distaste to study how others find pleasure in the form, color, or composition of even the most mundane elements.
Wonder what he thought when he put the fake dog on the AstroTurf, under the pink neon light?  Who knows, but all the random elements made for a cool show.  We also enjoyed Kidspace (such interesting ideas for Start 2 Art) including interactive art, like the piece with the headphones, and various "Walk In My Shoes" pieces (for example the family photo by Jamie Diamond below) that teach empathy through art.  Love that!
interesting interactive art in kids room
this is not my family (tee, hee) - "The Walls", 2008
by Jamie Diamond 
Sol LeWitt
What's next?  Well there's lots to explore, including hallways to run in and corridors to get lost in. We had the hardest time finding one of the floors with a new exhibit.  Turns out it was on floor 2/5!
Back to the hotel after Mass MOCA fun! Porches in N. Adams
socks turned into art displayed at Kidspace
More fun including the sock art by Aaron Johnson.  We were happy though to get back to our hotel room at Porches at 231 River Street after a long day driving and museum visiting.  It's a nice hotel close to MASS MoCA with a heated pool, good breakfast and some fun hipster choices that make you feel "arty" despite any obvious lack of beard and berets. There's always a nice line-up of art, music, events and other performing arts at MASS MoCA. In 2017 it will double in size and we'll be back!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Interview with Martin Molin, maker of the Marble Machine

Martin Molin is being interviewed now on Swedish Radio station P3's program "Musikguiden".  He grew up in Karlstad where there wasn't much to do, and his childhood was full of bicycling and music.  His father sang a lot and there was an old piano that Martin liked to hit, hard.  Here is one of his musical inspirations (he was born in the 80's) by the Swedish band Roxette's "Dressed for Success". It reminds him of middle school and puts a big smile on his face.  Rage Against the Machine's  "Bombtrack" is another inspiration.  This is the real deal folks, I'm translating it for you as they interview him on the radio.

Image result for ameliePersonally I think that he seems like a really nice down-to-earth guy who studied flamenco guitar, was inspired by the Amelie soundtrack, and talked about how music wasn't cool in his Karlstad neighborhood.  Wintergatan is the name of the band that Martin is in.  As they put it on Wikipedia:
The band became known to a wider audience and was featured in international media with the release of the 2016 music video "Marble Machine", featuring a music box which plays vibraphonebass guitar, and drums using marbles.[2][3][4][5]
Check out the video.  Isn't it amazing?

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

ESL or Speak Swedish!

George Bernard Shaw, the famous British writer and Nobel Prize winner, was so annoyed with the irregularities of the English spelling system that he left all his money after his death to reforming it! His most famous example is the following word he created out of the way parts of different words are pronounced: ghoti.  Strange as this word looks, it's actually easy to read if you can decipher the pronunciations he was mocking:
  • The gh is pronounced like the final consonants of enough.
  • The o is pronounced like the middle vowel of women.
  • The ti is pronounced like the middle consonant of nation.
Did you get it? If not, here's a hint: It's a kind of creature we often find swimming in water.
Shaw's ghotiYes, it's fish! Tee, hee.

Perhaps you would like to learn another language since English is so cray-cray.  If so you may want to give Swedish a try.  Things sound like they're spelled and it's got a lot of root-word similarities with English, for example, "House - hus", "Fish - fisk", "stone- sten" and so on.  There's a program in Minnesota I'd love to try with my kids where they teach Swedish through immersion.  It's called Concordia Language Villages, and they do teach other languages as well.  So check it out if you want to head west, it sounds like a lot of fun, but personally I'd go back to the motherland to brush up my Swedish. Or try Duolingo on-line. 

Ha det gott! 

Friday, April 15, 2016

Do not jump the queue!

#5 of the the ten "weirdest taboos in Sweden" is a deal breaker for me.  I get LIVID when I am in Sweden and someone tries to cut the line (that's what we call it in the States).  It's part of the American culture too.  Believe me, I work at schools and no where else is the line more closely monitored by guards and "inmates" (AKA children) than there. :-)  "She cut the line!", "He cut!" These cries bring a shiver to my spine.  Ugh!  And it's even more infuriating when grown-ups try that ****.  So just don't and definitely not in Sweden where they will appear to be casually queuing up but actually everyone is zealously guarding their spot in line.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Community Living

Cohousing in Malmö
Here's an interesting read for y'all.  I hope that this Sunday morning finds you well, happy and full of coffee.  It is a sunny day here, and almost everyone at Huset Lagom is happy, except teenage son #1. That's OK.   We'll wait him out. ;-)  This article on community living is really interesting for me because I've always been slightly interested in living this way.  Not enough to actively pursue it, although I did attend a local meeting about 5 years ago with people who wanted to create a similar community. It never got off the ground and honestly I wasn't really into it.

But this place called Sofielunds Kollektivhus sounds cool though. It's in Malmö.  You make dinner for 65 but since there's 45 apartments and meals are only served three days a week, so I'm guessing it must be about once every three months or so that you have to make dinner. The rest of the time you probably don't have to, and that sure sounds good to me! Plus they have nice amenities for everyone like a film-viewing room that you can rent out, a loom and carpentry studio, and it's obviously very easy to meet your neighbors.  What do you think about community living?  Too hippy for you, or are you an Aquarian like me?  ;-) Check it out on Houzz.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Ring, ring it's Sweden calling

Something fun from the Swedes! Every wondered about Sweden?  NPR tried this for us and this is what they report - The Swedish Number project was launched to connect people from different countries and foster a curiosity about Sweden.
Sweden got its own phone number and invited the world to call.
As a way to "spark people's curiosity about Sweden" and foster communication between people from different countries, Sweden's tourism association launched "The Swedish Number," a project that connects anyone in the world with a phone to a random Swede. Swedes participate by downloading an app that patches the calls through to them.
The premise is simple: 1) Call Sweden's phone number — keep in mind it's international; 2) Chat with a Swede about anything you want — suggested topics include meatballs, darkness and feminism.
Even though it was nearing midnight in Sweden, this blogger gave it a try.
A few rings, and then, "Hello?"
I reached 19-year-old Artur Söderlund, a teacher who lives on the island of Gotland in the middle of the Baltic Sea. If calling up a stranger on the other side of the world at midnight sounds awkward, that's because it is. I stumbled through introductions before getting down to business.
Swedish meatballs — does everyone love them?
"Yes, of course," he said earnestly.
Dealing with extra darkness in the winter?
"You have to think of how long Sweden is," he said. "The darkness during winter is a problem for the people in the north, but in the south we don't have that really dark extreme."
Swedish feminism? (The country distributed copies of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's feminist manifesto, "We Should All Be Feminists," to every 16-year-old student in the country.)
"I think overall it's quite good," Söderlund said. "But many of the feminists today are quite radical and say things like, 'all men are pigs.' And such comments I disagree with."
With the suggested basics covered, I ventured a question about my own personal favorite aspect of Swedish life: Fika, which is basically a mandatory snack time when people socialize over coffee and pastries. I knew many foreigners like myself harbored a special fondness for the custom — was it as highly valued by Swedes?
"Yes, fika. It's a great part of our culture. It keeps us together in a way," he said, explaining that it's different from, say, English teatime in that fika breaks are an integral part of the paid workday.
Söderlund told me I was his 10th call of the day and that he'd spoken with people from Turkey, Belgium, Finland and Egypt. According to The Swedish Number website, most of the calls so far have come from Turkey and the U.S., with the U.K., Russia and Germany rounding out the top-five.
Since it was launched on Wednesday, nearly 10,000 calls have been connected to random Swedes.
"I think it's positive for people to easily get to the information about this wonderful country," Söderlund said.
In all, the conversation was lovely, especially compared to a reporter who reached someone who didn't speak English, and another reporter who got a foul-mouthed Swede who evidently supports Donald Trump.
Have you called Sweden? Let us know how it went! OK NPR I will!
Quoted from