Povel Ramel (1922-2007) was a huge presence in Swedish entertainment for half a century from his first hit song, “Johansson’s Boogie Woogie Waltz”, in 1944. Here’s a song of his from 1968, performed by the beloved comedienne Birgitta Andersson (born in 1933). As it spoofs Gothic horror, it will be interesting to see how my high school pupils react to it as part of our horror fiction course. Chances are they aren’t familiar with either Povel Ramel or Gothic horror.
The Ballad of One-Eyed Elin
Da-di-dum in a raven-black night
Da-di-dum the sombre tower la da-di-dum
Hmm na poor Elin there
Upon her remaining eye doth swear
Da-di-dum her lover and brother
Da-di-dum proud Sir Oscar di-dum
Da-di-dum squarely in his breast
Blood oh hmm everywhere
Da-di-dum hem of her gown
Hmm na-na never to wake again
Da-di-dum little daughter Sophie
Golden chalice whoops oh no with hydrochloric acid
Na na rosy lips hmm da-di-dum as if in a trance
Da-di-dum desecrating the tomb
Hmm na na white bones in a da-dum-di-dum
Da-di-da-di cranium whoopsie hey
Crawling little maggots doodie day
Hmm hmm resting in unhallowed ground
Da-di-da-di-dum… da-di humpback
Safe in his cell… da-di-dum
And eczema… And migraine
In the deepest of the vaults da-di-da
The chest na na di-da silver and gold
Guarded tralala by a slavering vampire
Da-di-dum the great big axe la-di-da
Dum-di-dum oh my dismember his mother
Na-na legs and arms doobedy straight across the throat be-doo
Hmm lala a shiny black box
Suddenly pestilence spread de-da-di hmm in our little village
Leaden pustules da-di-dum…
Happy Chinese New Year: the Year of the Aardvark (Earth Pig)! Thank you, Aard regular Aquadraco, for the lovely illustration!
Extra likes for mentions of zumba, Barry Manilow and Queen Claude of France.
Oppy at Solander Point in August 2013
The Opportunity rover landed on Mars fifteen Earth calendar years ago today. It drove more than 45 km across the Red Planet’s cold desert landscape and worked fine until 10 June last year. A planetwide dust storm then covered the rover’s solar panels with dirt, cutting off its power supply, and it hasn’t been heard from since. Strong winds may one day remove that dust and allow Oppy to phone home again.
Either way, 14½ years of operation and the longest trek any off-planet vehicle has ever made are epochal achievements. Huge kudos to the Mars Exploration Rover team! And let’s not forget the Spirit rover that operated on Mars for a very respectable 6 Earth years, or the Curiosity rover that has so far been active for 6½ and is going strong, or the Mars 2020 rover whose launch is planned for July or August next year.
Remembered a D&D story I heard in the 80s. One of the player characters had stupidly and overtly committed a serious crime – had he attacked the King during a formal audience? – and been sentenced to beheading. Letting this happen is never a fun way to end a character’s career, but I believe both the players and the Dungeon Master were quite young.
The day of the execution dawns, the prisoner is taken out to the chopping block in the town square, the executioner steps up with his sword… And the only way this DM knows to handle situations involving swords is the combat rules. Which don’t really offer any details on combatants lying trussed up and face down on the block. Also, the execution victim is quite a high-level character, while the executioner is a basic man-at-arms.
The executioner could barely hit the victim, and when he occasionally did, he took only a small proportion of the victim’s hit points. It took an hour in the game world and endless dice rolling in our world to behead him.
Vertical photos of untidy cairn-like structures at the cemeteries of Påljungshage in Helgona and Rogsta in Tystberga.
Cemeteries of the period 1000-300 cal BC around Lake Mälaren display a bewildering variety of ugly, damaged, diffuse stone structures. They usually contain multiple small depositions of potsherds and burnt bones that often do not represent a whole person, and sometimes there’s even just part of an animal. Closed finds are frustratingly rare here, when archaeologists often look to cemeteries to find out about chronology and social roles.
I’ve been reading Anna Röst’s 2016 PhD thesis where she’s drilled down for hundreds of pages into the minutiae of two of these sites. She has a really interesting perspective on them.
Röst suggests that her sites were not governed by the idea of permanent burial that we see so often in eras before and after her study period — including our own. Instead, they were intended for long convoluted multistage ritual processes where people would mess around with the bones, metalwork, stone structures, pottery, fire and animals. The great variation among the structures that we excavate and document now is partly due to varying ideas about the correct script for such a chain of ritual events: two structures may look different today because they were never intended to look the same. But in other cases the variation may be due to a single ritual script being interrupted on different pages: two structures may look different today because they were abandoned at different points along the timeline of a single process.
This recalls Fleming Kaul’s interpretation of the imagery engraved on period bronze razors: he considers each razor to be a panel in the same comic book about sun-ship mythology. You can’t understand a whole comic from one panel. Nor can you understand what people where doing and intending at a Late Bronze Age cemetery in Södermanland by looking at a single structure.
But there’s a big difference between the burials and the razor iconography. We never find a razor with a half-drawn scene on it. If Röst is right, then almost every one of the structures we document today at her kind of cemetery is a half-drawn scene, intended for an audience who were interested in the act of drawing, not in reading the finished comic book.
Röst, Anna. 2016. Fragmenterade platser, ting och människor. Stenkonstruktioner och depositioner på två gravfältslokaler i Södermanland ca 1000-300 f Kr. Stockholm University. [Full text available online]
Here are the eleven boardgames that I played more than thrice during 2018. The year’s total was 74 different games.
- Hive (2001)
- No Thanks! (2004)
- Gaia Project (2017)
- Sechs nimmt / Category 5 (1994)
- Azul (2017)
- Plato 3000 (2012)
- Tichu / Zheng fen (1991)
- Innovation (2010)
- Keltis (2008, travel version)
- Patchwork (2014)
- Heimlich & Co (1984)
As always, the games on the list are mostly short ones that you can play repeatedly in one evening. But my new acquisitions Gaia Project and Tichu are way longer, full-evening games. All eleven highly recommended!
Dear Reader, what was your biggest boardgaming hit of 2018?
Stats courtesy of Boardgame Geek. And here’s my list for 2017.