69 Stockholm Museums In Nine Years

I finished a nine-year project of mine this weekend, having visited 49 museums. That’s every museum in urban Stockholm that is currently open, as well as a few that have since closed or that are only open to groups by appointment. Several of the ones that my wife likes I’ve visited multiple times. And I’ve also visited 20 museums in more peripheral locations outside of town. This may sound like a lot, but it’s little more than one new museum every second month on average.

I really recommend this kind of project! You get to see amazing things if you quit going back to the same ten museums year in and year out. Wikipedia has a convenient list for most major cities (here’s the one for Stockholm that I’ve used). Paraphrasing the famous Dr. Jones, you belong in a museum!

Weekend Fun

Here’s what I did for fun over the past weekend.

  • Watched a really funny stage play, Fuck Tinder, a romantic farce written and excellently acted by Eline Lundeberg och Albert Häggblom.
  • Visited the August Strindberg Museum and had a guided tour of the apartment where the author lived and worked for the last four years of his life.
  • Heard Dora Pejacevic’s 2nd piano trio (1910) and a six-piece chamber ensemble version of Dmitri Shostakovich’s 15th symphony (1971), both at the Stockholm Concert Hall where my friend Tor has given me a season ticket.
  • Played the boardgames Magnastorm and Crew.
  • Read Cory Doctorow’s novel Homeland (2013). Unusual for today’s writers to put long explanatory passages about technology and surveillance into their novels.

Dear Reader, what did you do for fun?

Weekend Fun

Here’s what I did for fun over the weekend.

  • Watched the movie All Is True (2018). Star-studded Ben Elton-scripted family drama about Shakespeare’s last few years in Stratford after he left London and the stage. Gorgeous Tudor sets and costumes. Grade: good!
  • Saw an amazing exhibition of Travel To Scandinavia posters from 1900-1969 at the Nordic Museum. Highly recommended!
  • Attended a great gig with The Blind Boys of Alabama plus Amadou & Mariam at Stockholm Concert Hall. It was sold out and everyone was super enthusiastic. Gospel and blues stars teaming up with afrobeat stars, excellent musicians, good stuff!
  • Had a waffle and talked to a charming newlywed young Lesbian couple at my friend’s birthday party.
  • Cycled and walked a lot in the sun.
  • Played Orléans with gaming buddies in my dad’s guest house on a scarp by the sea.

Dear Reader, what did you do?

Weekend Fun

Now that almost everyone in Sweden is vaccinated and the restrictions have been lifted, I’m cramming in as many entertainments as possible into my calendar. So I had a really fun weekend!

  • Had solid afternoon tea at the Warship Vasa Museum with friends and heard Jens Heimdahl speak about the paleobotany of excavated Early Modern gardens in Stockholm
  • Saw music critic and humorist Fredrik Strage’s standup show
  • Watched three good films at the Monsters of Film genre festival, about which more in a later entry
  • Studied large Nordic mammals and historical buildings at Stockholm’s open-air museum Skansen — a lynx female was licking the cuddly belly of its kitten!
  • Played Fiasco and No Thanks

Dear Reader, what did you do for fun over the weekend?

Ascension Weekend Fun

Lake Öringesjön

Ascension Thursday is a red-letter day in Sweden, schools are closed on the Friday as well, and most adults take the Friday off, giving everyone a nice long weekend. For most of the 10s I spent two of these days at the LinCon gaming convention on the Uni Linköping campus. But because of the pandemic there hasn’t been a 20s LinCon yet. Here’s what I did for fun over the long weekend.

  • Hiked the Sörmlandsleden trail with my wife from Skogshyddan to Lake Öringesjön and back. Saw roe deer, grass snakes, great loons and lots of butterflies.
  • Listened to Depeche Mode’s Some Great Reward for the first time in ~30 years of mostly guitar psychedelia. It was the first album I bought on my own in ’84 or ’85. Not bad!
  • Played Nemesis, a semi-coop boardgame that re-creates the first two Alien movies. Kind of convoluted, probably much better when everybody knows the rules.
  • Finished reading Richard Russo’s excellent 1993 novel about small-town life in upstate New York, Nobody’s Fool.
  • Watched the movie Bone Tomahawk (2015). How to make a horror Western about saving the girl from cannibal rapists today: insert a scene where a Native American explains that the evil tribe are not his people. Grade: great!
  • Cycled to two far-off cafés for lunch.
  • Gardened with podcasts.
  • Played Chandler Groover’s tasty 2017 text adventure Eat Me.

Dear Reader, what did you do for fun?

Weekend Fun

Lakes Lundsjön-Dammsjön

It’s been a fun weekend and for the first time in weeks the weather’s been sunny. Much of Sweden has gone directly from meteorological autumn to meteorological spring without any intervening winter, and the country’s highest January temperature ever was measured: 12.5 C. Scary. But it’s been overcast. This was more fun.

  • Went to Linda Qviström’s thesis presentation (Medieval windows and indoor lighting, super solid work), chatted with colleagues.
  • Played boardgames: No thanks (short) and Shogun (long).
  • Went hiking with friends and their kids in the woods south of the mill ruins at Tyresö Nyfors.
  • Took a long hike or walk in the woods and fine housing area between our place and Solsidan commuter train station.
  • Had a piece of decadent chocolate-peanut cheesecake at the Kladdkakan Café in the Old Town.
  • Checked out the Jewish Museum, whose exhibition about Jewish history in Sweden firmly places its subject matter in relation to current immigration debate. I found the collection of branded wooden coat hangers from little post-war Jewish tailor businesses around Sweden quite striking.

Dear Reader, what did you do for fun this weekend?

Well-spent Summer

I’ll remember 2018 as my year of five jobs with the hottest summer I’ve seen. Here’s some of the best summer activities I devoted this frighteningly awesome season to.

  • Swimming
  • Water skiing
  • Sailing
  • Kayaking & canoeing
  • Mountain hiking
  • Geocaching
  • Topless cycling to work
  • Nocturnal cycling
  • Sight-seeing in Malmö and Copenhagen
  • Eating syllabub and raspberries off the bush
  • Sleeping outdoors
  • Dining outdoors
  • Listening to outdoor live music
  • Riding a steam boat and a steam train
  • A gaming con and a scifi con

What were your best summer activities, Dear Reader?

Weekend Fun – Fantastika 2018 – International Festival

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One of the least archaeologically visible events at Fisksätra’s Viking Period cemetery was Saturday’s visit by a fine Jamaican food truck.

It’s been a fun and intense weekend!

On Friday the Fantastika 2018 scifi con opened, conveniently located half an hour’s bike ride from my home, and I moderated a panel on Ursula LeGuin with my old friend Florence Vilén, Saara Henriksson and Markku Soikkeli. My wife came home from China, and two friendly con-goers that I know from my years teaching in Umeå stayed in our guest room.

On Saturday morning I fed my Umeå friends breakfast and then we went to the con where I gave a talk about Medieval castles. Thence back to Fisksätra for the annual International Festival, where I spent the day manning the Labour Party’s tent and canvassing for votes. Then back to the con and sit on a panel about empires in scifi and fantasy with the charming Linda Carey and my old friend Anders Blixt, moderated by my friend Hans Persson, had dinner with my old friend Erik Andersson and gave him an interview for the Fandompodden podcast. And back home to water the garden.

On Sunday morning I fed my Umeå friends, cycled back to the con, attended Hans’s geocaching meetup in front of the venue, bought some used paperbacks (Ryman’s Air, Roberts’s Salt, Reynolds’s Revelation Space) and listened to an interview with Mike Carey, a lovely man whose fine novels about Felix Castor the exorcist I enjoy (Aard regular Birger Johansson gave me those). Then I cycled back home, went skinny dipping in our nearby lake with my wife, napped for almost two hours, and drove the Labour tent & sundries back to my workplace. After dinner my Latvian Viking reenactor friend Artis Aboltins, who is visiting Stockholm for work, came by for coffee and sandwiches and to pick up a table he’d ordered for his sailing boat.

Oh, and Junior texted me that he’d namedropped me when talking to archaeologists at Slussen’s Open Day on his way to the Scifi Book Store, and my excellent Syrian driving pupil Obaida passed his driving test. ❤

All very good stuff! Dear Reader, what did you do?

June Pieces Of My Mind #1

Found an enigmatic fragment of an artefact from a bygone age.

  • Dad bragging: my kids are both fully fluent in Swedish and English. Jr speaks serviceable Japanese and Jrette speaks Mandarin. Both also have a smattering of French. Dudes, marry smart ladies!
  • When you have a really bad cold, your nasal mucus membranes are open wounds. And you keep blowing the scabs out of your nose to be able to breathe. You’d never do this to your knee.
  • There’s a housing area nearby named Talliden. Probably named for the thallid fungal creatures in Magic the Gathering.
  • Each Kindle has an email address. You can send PDF and EPUB files to it and have them show up on the device. Convenient! But if you buy an ebook for someone at Amazon, do not use this address. Use the person’s address or it won’t work.
  • Received a used washing machine. Gave it a trial run in the yard. Realised that the transmission belt had jumped. It turned out to be too short to put back on the wheels. I had an idea and put it in hot water, then dried it off, and it slid into place just fine. But then I found that the hub was damaged and immobilised.
  • A memory. In the Swedish Outdoor Association’s youth group, we were often told to bring a stick of wood from home so collectively we would have enough firewood without having to collect it in the forest.
  • Rod Stewart’s “Maggie May” was a B side and he was surprised when it became a hit.
  • It’s obvious, but still I’m surprised. In 2002 Sweden’s current Minister of Culture (Greens) published an interview book about the country’s crown princess.
  • Planning a night out for our 19th anniversary. Thanks to Sweden’s recently much more intense contact with Afghanistan, I was able to buy tickets for an Afghan trio playing traditional music in the venerable Finnish Church as part of the Early Music Festival, and then dinner at Little Kabul.
  • YES!!! I got funding to design & print my Medieval castles book, and to cover the last finds conservation bill!
  • OK ladies, I know you wonder where all the sexy alpha males are tonight. Let me tell you, they are playing boardgames at my place. And they are gorgeous. Mmm-hmm.
  • Why does “Japanese Boy” by Aneka suddenly and unpromptedly start playing in my head over a quarter-century later?
  • Love boating on lakes and rivers whose shores I’m familiar with only from dry land.
  • Yay summer, a walk in the woods and immediately a tick on my Balzac.

WorldCon 75 in Helsinki

The 75th World Science Fiction Convention took place in Helsinki and seems to have had the second-highest attendance ever: more than 7000 people in the Messukeskus convention centre, 2000 of whom had (like myself) never attended a WorldCon before. There were 250 programme items only on the Friday between 10 am and 10 pm, so there is no way that I’ll be able to tell you everything that went on. (Check out the programme here.) Instead I’ll tell you the bits I enjoyed the most, plus some observations.

The WorldCon crowd was incredibly diverse even if you disregarded the cosplayers. Men and women and trans folks, old and young, white and brown, Western and Eastern and Sikh. Two couples that caught my eye, for instance, were a skinny Japanese guy and a well-favoured black lady who wandered about hand in hand, and a Scandy couple with their baby in a buggy where both parents wore dresses and lipstick but one appeared to shave daily. And the attendees awarded N.K. Jemisin the Hugo for best novel for the second year running. The Puppies movement of 2013–16 that wanted white masculine conservative technocratic Hugo winners, not a bunch of brown-skinned women and gay people, is well and truly an ex-parrot.

Awards that made me particularly happy (because here’s where my candidates won) were Hugos for Ursula Vernon (novelette), Ursula le Guin (related work) and Lois McMaster Bujold (book series). Also, my dear friend Carolina Gómez Lagerlöf won the prestigious Big Heart award for services to fandom, joining the august ranks of for instance Robert Bloch, Andre Norton and Jack Williamson.

The most interesting events I attended were Sonja Virta’s talk about Tove Jansson’s illustrations for The Hobbit, Karoliina Korppoo’s talk about boardgames in Finland, Kevin Roche’s talk about quantum computing and the Hugo prize ceremony.

The funniest events I attended were Lee Moyer’s presentation of weird and ugly book covers, Charles Stross’s reading from his forthcoming Laundry novel The Labyrinth Index (highly satirical – it has Nyarlathotep as main inhabitant of 10 Downing St.), the panel on mistranslations and the panel on Stockholm-Helsinki ferry culture.

My own programme items – a talk about crackpot archaeology in Scandinavia, a panel about Medieval reality vs fantasy, two Q&As about archaeology in the children’s room – all went super well, though the grown-up events could easily have filled much larger rooms than the ones we had been assigned.

I also enjoyed the short film programme, the art show and the socialising. I was lucky: my talk was one of the first events at the convention, so people learned early to recognise my face and several came up to me for a chat. Two of these conversations were particularly surprising.

1) The tall paunchy greybeard whom I didn’t recognise until minutes into the conversation, when I realised that he was an old Tolkien Society buddy that I hadn’t seen in a quarter century, and whom I remembered as a lanky beardless redhead.

2) The friendly Finn who had heard only 20 minutes of my talk before he and many other floor sitters were kicked out because of the fire safety rules, and who found the talk super interesting and wanted to hear more despite himself being a big believer in dowsing and several pretty far-out ideas about archaeological sites.

This was a super big, super rich and super well-organised convention. I found so much to do despite knowing nothing about the guests of honour and despite having no interest in several of the main strands of the programming (notably TV shows, comics, academic lit-crit and how to write fiction). Two years from now the WorldCon will be in Dublin, a city to which you can travel cheaply from Stockholm. I’ve never been to the Republic of Ireland. I’m thinking now that I’d really like to go to the con with my wife and then rent a car to spend a week at small-town B&Bs around the country.