January Pieces Of My Mind #3

The Neglingeviken inlet. There was a nest of pirates here in the 1300s!
  • Someone on Twitter posts a screenshot from a parents & teacher meeting online where one parent has forgot to change their Zoom handle back from “Promiscuous Couple”.
  • As a boy I always found it sad and frustrating when there was no original furniture left in centuried castles and manors. Only quite recently did I realise that most houses contain no original furniture even after only 30 years.
  • The ancient Greeks are infamous for some of their sexual practices. But they did actually have one taboo that makes them look kind of cute to modern eyes. The straight cowgirl position was considered really kinky and not even prostitutes would usually engage in it.
  • When I was eleven years old in 1983, I knew nothing about heavy metal. I thought it was stupid music for stupid people. The boys in my school listened to the New Wave of British Metal, prominently featuring Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Motörhead and Saxon. There was however another strange name you would see written on walls at the time: Meatloaf. Bat Out Of Hell is a great title for a metal album, and the cover art on Meatloaf’s two first LPs looks a lot like typical metal albums of the time. But I wonder what those pre-teen metal heads in my school really made of Jim Steinman’s pompous operatic music. “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” isn’t exactly ”The Number of the Beast”.
  • Åke Rosenius explains: ”There is a story around that… After his Midnight at the Lost and Found album flopped, his manager booked him to any gig he could find, and got him on the bill for the 1983 Monsters of Rock – not realizing it was a heavy metal festival. Mr. Loaf hiccuped at first, expecting to have bottles thrown at him and get booed off the stage, but he decided to not back out and instead put together a metal-friendly set; out with the ballads, rearranged some songs to make them rockier, and reinforced the band with a couple of heavy guitar players. And it worked – the festival gig didn’t sound anything like his ‘Bat’ or ‘Dead Ringer’ tours but went down pretty well with the Monster of Rock audience. His next album Bad Attitude was his heaviest one to date.”
  • Movie: Twelve Monkeys (1995). After a viral pandemic wipes out most of humanity, survivors under totalitarian rule invent time travel and send people back to investigate the origin of the outbreak. Was the insane son of a Nobel laurate the culprit? Grade: OK. (I remember liking this movie more 27 years ago. It was because after loving several of Gilliam’s movies I had been so enormously disappointed with The Fisher King in 1991. And I felt that Twelve Monkeys, appearing four years later, was a return to form.)
  • Grease is a nostalgic look at high school in 1959. I discovered that it premiered already in 1971. That’s like a 2022 hit musical looking back at high school in 2010.
  • Tapas: just like menu dégustation, only not boring and annoying!
  • A Polish student told me that the Right-wing Populist government has defunded a much-appreciated support hotline for gay teens, replacing it with a hotline where you get to talk to a Church Exorcist.
  • Lytton Strachey on Florence N.: ”At times, indeed, among her intimates, Mrs. Nightingale almost wept. ‘We are ducks,’ she said with tears in her eyes, ‘who have hatched a wild swan.’ But the poor lady was wrong; it was not a swan that they had hatched, it was an eagle.”
  • When I wrote my 2003 dissertation on the Barshalder cemetery I had to do a certain amount of biographical research into the many, many excavators who worked there over a period of 150 years. There was one character that I couldn’t find much useful information about: the spectacularly inept leader of the 1899 campaign, Harald Laurin. Now I find that Wikipedians have solved my old problem. Thanks!
  • Queen Victoria wished that Florence Nightingale could get a job at the War Office, i.e. the Department of Defence.
  • Saw this other Swedish-Asian family recently where the Swedish dad was in a wheel chair with involuntary movements (cerebral palsy? Parkinson’s?). And I was really touched to see the late-teen son, a tall handsome kid who looked nothing like his old man, help his dad tenderly with little things, adjusting the mask, the glasses etc.
  • Iggy Pop’s 2003 song “Little Know It All” is an astonishing case of punk music biting its own ass. Sounds more like Green Day than the track on the same album where Green Day actually play.
  • SpaceX rocket disposal: enormous piece of space junk will crash on the Moon on 4 March.
  • The navy doctors at Fort Vaxholm in the 19th century each drank on average 240 litres of punsch arrack liqueur a year, only counting what they bought at the mess. That’s typically 25% alcohol.
  • Discovered that Wikipedia’s articles about Karolina Widerström, Sweden’s first female academically trained physician and a towering figure, neglected to mention her long-term cohabiting partner Maria Aspman, educator and headmistress. So I fixed the articles.
  • Question for security wonks. During the latest Polish election season, the right-wing populist coalition seems to have used Israeli spy software to monitor the smartphones of important members of the opposing campaign. At important moments, they released stolen information to discredit their opponents, and they narrowly won the election. But here’s a bizarre detail that calls the (criminal) rationale behind all this into question. The material they released was partly faked. So here’s my question. If you’re going to release material from a source you absolutely cannot disclose, but fake some of it, then why bother using the actual stolen information at all? Why not just make up all of the stuff you attribute to your opponents, and avoid the risk of getting caught using illegal spyware?
  • Finished my bits of a meaty and juicy journal paper about the new metal detector finds from Husby in Glanshammar that Florent Audy and I are writing.
  • Pro tip: if all you want to watch is one or two movies weekly, then you don’t need a subscription service.

Author: Martin R

Dr. Martin Rundkvist is a Swedish archaeologist, journal editor, skeptic, atheist, lefty liberal, bookworm, boardgamer, geocacher and father of two.

14 thoughts on “January Pieces Of My Mind #3”

  1. “ Grease is a nostalgic look at high school in 1959. I discovered that it premiered already in 1971. That’s like a 2022 hit musical looking back at high school in 2010.”

    I have a cousin who was born in 1959. Sometime in the 1970s (remember that the television series Happy Days was also about the 50s but set in the 70s) there was a 50s day at his school with the motto “where what you wore in the 50s”. So he wore a nappy.

    I remember (part of) the 60s (despite the old adage, I remember it even though I was there) and all decades after that. Up until 1990, each is distinct, and I have clear visions of the 50s, 40s, 30s, 20s, and the fin de siècle. But I don’t see any real cultural distinction in the (counting the current one) 4(!) decades since 1990. Yes, the computer technology gives it away, but that’s about it. Music? Fashion? Politics? Social movements? Not much difference to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree, apart from the developing tech I can’t see that the 90s, 00s or 10s had a cultural identity. Last time a major new style of music was created was in the 70s with hip-hop and synth pop.


  2. I’m familiar with cowgirl, but straight cowgirl? Is that opposed to “bent cowgirl”? If so, who is bent and straight in each version?

    Or straight as opposed to gay?

    Or both?


  3. “Why not just make up all of the stuff you attribute to your opponents, and avoid the risk of getting caught using illegal spyware?”

    Exactly. Similarly, it is naive to think that concealing data from the government will protect you. Any government which wishes to harm you can do so with no data at all.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. “Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Motörhead and Saxon”

    Recalls the saying “from the sublime to the ridiculous”. I had known that Iron Maiden had always existed as long as they have, but was put off by their goofy image. A few years ago, I heard one of their songs for the first time. I soon had all their albums. They are not my favourite band, but are really good, and consistently good over several decades, something practically no other band has accomplished. Lyrically and musically head and shoulders over most other heavy metal (and most other rock and most other music for that matter). Some wouldn’t put Motörhead in the NWOBHM. Like Judas Priest and Saxon, they have mostly become Spinal-Tap like parodies of themselves. (“Saxon” also conjures up “Sachsen” for speakers of Germany, which these days is something completely different.)

    Old Priest can be good, though. How is this for a first-ever television appearance (the singer’s clothes borrowed from his sister for the occasion)?

    Watch the whole thing, but dig that solo at 2:45.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Keith Richards once said that if a song is good, it sounds good on acoustic. There is an Iron Maiden cover band which plays only acoustic versions:

      The taller male singer (now no longer with the band: his management didn’t want his most successful gig to be a cover band) is one of the best singers I’ve ever heard. You must see him live. He has sung really hard progressive metal, has appeared as a duo with Oliver Wakeman (yes, son of Rick Wakeman, the funniest guy in rock and roll, and he who wore capes in his castle of keybaoards) on piano, and has a career as a barstool singer-songwriter (but has been known to stage-dive even at such gigs). Damian Wilson. Started out singing in Les Miserables.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. “When I was eleven years old in 1983, I knew nothing about heavy metal. I thought it was stupid music for stupid people.”

    My thoughts exactly (at the time, that is), although I was a few years older. I kind of mixed up the music with the fans, who I usually saw as narrow-minded subhumans. Actually, I had been a big Sweet fan, especially regarding their “harder” songs, but for some reason I didn’t continue in that direction.

    Things started to change when I discovered that I actually liked Motörhead, later on I found that I could enjoy the music of a few of the 70’s hard rock dinosaurs – and since 1991, when I discovered thrash/death, a big part of my music listening can be labelled “Metal”. Since then, I’ve even learned to enjoy Maiden, Priest, Saxon and the likes, so I wonder who really was the “narrow-minded subhuman” at the time. But as the Swedish author Jan Guillou has stated, at a certain age it is allowed to be an idiot.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Most people don’t realize that there is more variety in metal than in all other types of music combined. That is not an exaggeration.

      Iron Maiden are like Lund. While definitely in Sweden, almost every part of Denmark is closer to Lund than almost every part of Sweden. Similarly, Iron Maiden are heavy metal, but almost all hard-rock bands are closer to Maiden than almost all other metal bands.

      Musically, Maiden are very good. Lyrically, while not up there with Ian Anderson or even Neil Peart or Roger Waters, they are head and shoulders above most other metal band (and most bands of any genre for that matter). But they do have a goofy image. At least it is tongue in cheek.

      Most metal bands are like parodies of Spinal Tap. 🙂

      The only other metal band I think is really good is Nightwish. And the Scorpions, though they are more hard rock than metal.

      Once, as the opening act for the acoustic Maiden cover band, there was an acoustic Motörhead cover band. I saw the point even less than with Motörhead itself.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: