marshtide: (Mårran)
First, a question!

Does anyone have any suggestions for some kind of way of hanging crutches from a wheelchair so that they stick up and no-one has to keep hold of them or worry about them, I don't know, launching a sneak attack on the wheels?

Context )

Next: [personal profile] pulchritude asked: Anything you want to say about things you find interesting about Swedish culture (particularly as a Brit), things you didn't expect, things that you find really different from ~Swedish stereotypes~ would be lovely :)

Which is one of those questions which is SO BIG that I kind of don't know where to start. But since I posted about my impressions as a new arrival last year, it's probably appropriate to take a shot at it! One Year On, etc.

So let's try...

Swedish stereotypes?

There are a whole bunch of stereotypes about Sweden, of which I probably only know a few, and they presumably vary wildly by context and country. Outside of Northern Europe I think a lot of the stereotypes are actually fairly pan-Nordic; inside Northern Europe it's really really confusing.

Re: the pan-Nordic thing, there seems to be a general confusion about which country up here is even which; various relatives find it basically impossible to remember if I've moved to Sweden, Norway or Finland, although they do know it's not Denmark. (I haven't the heart to bring up Åland.)

And sometimes Sweden also gets confused with Switzerland, which is just kind of bizarre. The first two letters of the name are the same. That's basically it.

Anyway, to get your Nordic stereotypes straight: Norway = fish, oil and a sickening fetish for finding new ways to throw themselves down mountains; Finland = alcohol and knives, plus is actually populated by elves; Denmark = really happy (possibly because they're drunk); and Sweden = stuck up their own arses. Way up there.

Unfortunately the last one on the list is, on a political level, probably completely fair. SWEDEN: the would-be guiding moral light of everyone ever. Naturally not hindered by the fact that arms manufacture is a mainstay of the national economy.

(Valborg also notes that according to Finnish stereotypes, Sweden is basically really gay. Or, as she puts it, "remarkably homosexual.")

Images of Sweden range from some kind of liberal utopia with rights for all to a degenerate and immoral socialist or possibly even seekritly communist hell-hole which will bring down civilisation as we know it. The former, in absolute fairness, has been fairly actively promoted as a national image. See: would-be guiding moral light. Let's take a look at that one. )

To get back to stereotypes, Swedes are said to be, variously: repressed, sex maniacs, extremely shy, stuck up, very informal, obsessed with rules, horrible drunks (especially on holiday, especially in Denmark), suicidal, tall blonde blue-eyed beautiful elves, godless, and possibly ruled by a feminist hive mind. But also crazy rapists. And speakers of an impossible language.

Re language: Swedish is not a difficult language to learn if you are an English speaker. They're fairly closely related and also have a bunch of common influences. If you've heard that it's impossibly difficult you may be confusing it with Finnish, which I assume is not actually impossible either but is probably at least trickier than Swedish, as it's not a member of the language group to which both Swedish and English belong.

Re sex: it probably is easier to talk about sex in Sweden than in the UK, for example. That does not mean that people are actually having more of it. It just means that the UK is more conservative.

Similarly, how much more rape actually goes on in Sweden than in the rest of the world is something I think is pretty questionable, since you can't really get a comparative measure of the percentage of victims who report their rape across different countries. I'M JUST SAYING. I am all angry goddamn feminist over a lot of aspects of the treatment of rape victims in this country. But I'm also sceptical of the idea that this is some kind of specific Swedish or Nordic problem.

Re alcohol: OK, OK, Northern Europe has, collectively speaking, something of a booze problem. And alcohol is more expensive/restricted here than in Denmark. Fill in the blanks. ("Norwegians go to Denmark to get drunk too!" Valborg protests. "Danes just like them more. Because they're so... Norwegian...")

Also, I was kind of surprised when I came to Sweden how un-blonde people are, since a lot of other people have commented specifically on it following visits. I mean, there are blonde people. But at no point did I find myself walking around going, wow, everyone sure is blonde here! It's possibly more noticeable if you come from a place where very few people are blonde, I guess, but from the UK to here? Not that big a leap.

Right, that's long enough already. I'm going to stop now! If I try to tackle the rest of the question right now then everyone will fall asleep. Got any other Swedish stereotypes that you've heard around?
marshtide: (Too-ticki)
Another image-heavy post, I'm afraid! This became some kind of odd scrapbook business. & Tove Jansson is essentially one of our house-gods, so there was no chance I was ever going to keep this brief.

Written for [personal profile] ar's She's Kind of a Big Deal: Women Worth Knowing About!


She's Kind of a Big Deal: Tove Jansson
[Photo: a woman sits at a cluttered desk. She's holding a cigarette and looking at the camera.]

Who she was: Tove Jansson was born in Helsinki in 1914 to parents who were both artists. Her father was a Finland-Swedish sculptor (that is to say, a part of the Swedish-speaking minority in Finland) and her mother was a Swedish illustrator.

Read more... )

What she did: Tove was both an artist and a writer, although she's mostly remembered for her Moomin books, which are by this time cultural icons. They're often reported to be about little white trolls who have harmless adventures and are very sweet. This is questionable.

Read more... )

Ways to appreciate her:


Many of Tove Jansson's books are translated to English (and plenty of other languages). All of the Moomin story books are currently in print in the US and the UK, and the three picture books she did in the Moomin world are also in print in the UK, although possibly not the US.

A tiny publishing company called Sort Of Books is releasing her other books right now in the UK, and I gather a buch of them have been re-released in the US at the same time, though I'm not sure exactly which are available there. They've put out new editions of or translated for the first time:

The Summer Book (an old woman and her granddaughter spend a summer on an island together)
A Winter Book (a collection of short stories drawn from various different collections)
Fair Play (my favourite - a depiction of two women growing old together, living and working and travelling. a love story. kind of.)
The True Deceiver (a very tense, terrifying book, which takes place in a little village which is completely snowbound for the winter. A young woman who is seen by the village as an outsider moves into the home of an elderly artist on the edge of town. Full of deception and manipulation - but who is manipulating who?)
Travelling Light (Collection of short stories)

I'm kind of hoping that they'll pick out Sculptor's Daughter for release, which is one of her close-to-autobiographical books about her childhood. It has been published in English, but has been out of print for years; I did manage to find a copy in my local library when I lived in the UK, though!


To see her artwork you need to go to Finland, which isn't something I've managed yet myself! (Even though it's just across the water.) The Tampere Art Museum has a collection of her works.

Associated reading: English

There's very little available in English when it comes to academic texts about Tove Jansson's work, biography, or anything else really.

But here's the one that does exist:

Tove Jansson Rediscovered, edited by Kate McLoughlin and Malin Lindström Brock, published 2007 by Cambridge Scholars Publishing, is a collection of papers about many different aspects of Tove Jansson's life and work. The papers aren't of even quality, but many of them are brilliant. The essays cover disciplines from queer studies to art history and beyond.

Associated reading: Swedish

In Swedish there are, conversely, about a million books about Tove Jansson's life and work.

My personal favourites are the books by Boel Westin:

Tove Jansson: ord, bild, liv, published in 2007 by Schildts, is an extensive biography, well-written and full of great information and pictures.

Familjen i dalen: Tove Janssons muminvärld, published in 1988 by Bonnier, is an analysis of Tove's Mumin books.

Links: English

- A virtual gallery with information, art and photographs relating to Tove Jansson

- Information put together in connection with a Moomin 65th anniversary exhibition

- A collection of Tove Jansson's illustrations

[Image: A short-haired Tove Jansson looks off to one side of the photographer. She's holding her glasses, one arm of them against her mouth.]
marshtide: (Oscar - a-ha!)
FOR THE RECORD: Super video-heavy post.

So the topic for today is Swedish music, which I'm afraid is one I'm spectacularly unqualified to talk about in many ways.

Branch asked, basically, what the Swedish music scene is like right now.

I do at least listen to P3, which is the younger-people national radio station, because it has shows like Tankesmedjan (that one which Liv Strömquist is often on), and am by proxy exposed to current music, but to be honest, it mostly doesn't stick. One does notice, basically, that:

1. almost everyone sings in English, presumably in the hope of making some kind of international breakthrough. If they do not sing in English, they are Kent, who gave up on such hopes about 10 years ago. (No, OK, there are others who sing in Swedish right now. But not that many who're showing up on the radio!)

2. there are lots of girls singing very hesitantly/softly. I do wish the ladies in mainstream music would just go for it a bit more often, you know? Prettiness is all well and good, but damn. It seems to be the only option!

3. Unless you're Robyn I guess. Who has a robot fetish. Your mileage on this may vary, but I am kind of endeared by the robots, even though I am pretty sure all my music cred will be taken away the second I admit to liking anything about Robyn. (Here is the thing: I do not care about my music cred. I think I acquired it completely by accident anyway.)

[Video embed: Robyn singing Robotboy, no actual video image, just music & stills]

So, you know, so much for my pop culture awareness.

Also: although I spent my childhood playing instruments and was pretty good at some of them I'm really not that musically inclined, which means that I can listen to music without the same kind of analytical approach I often have to reading - which is lovely, I can just listen. It does mean, though, that I tend to file things as "like this" or "don't like this" without much deeper thought about technical skill etc. This will make detailed thoughts tricky; I'll mostly be presenting artists quite briefly and then giving out some music links.

But! I do listen to quite a bit of Swedish music. Let's start by just pulling a list from my profile, and I'll work from there!

Ane Brun

Oops - Ane Brun is actually Norwegian, not Swedish, but she lives in Stockholm )

Anna Ternheim

Read more... )

Broder Daniel

Valborg describes Broder Daniel as "the best worst band ever". Read more... )

P.S. In association with posting about Broder Daniel I feel the need to point out that Fucking Åmål is a brilliant film. About growing up in a tiny shitty town and already feeling trapped and then you are also a lesbian! AND IT'S NOT ONE OF THOSE TRAGEDIES WHERE EVERYONE DIES! It's brilliant. Sometimes uncomfortable, since, you know, teenagers, but it left me pretty :D :D :D.

Ebba Grön

Oh look! The first band on the list to actually sing in Swedish!

Read more... )

Frida Hyvönen

I actually have posted about Frida Hyvönen before. But. Read more... )


Right, well, Kent I've posted a lot about before. Read more... )

Maud Lindström

Maud Lindström is, well. Let's take her own words. "Sweden's only official love-critical bisexual feminist singer, writer and poet!"

You can already tell why I love her, right? )


Read more... )

The Knife

Read more... )

This post is basically really long now already, damn.

OK, I'll just leave you with a couple more.

The Ark, since they're so iconic among Swedish bands and one of the few current ones that's really well-known overseas. Although they did recently announce that they're quitting this year. And then they released a single.

The single is called "Breaking Up With God".

This strikes me as very representative behaviour.

Breaking up with god )

Jakob Hellman only released one album, at the end of the 80s, but has been influential for Swedish pop. Kent are fans; you can catch a lot of references back to him in their songs.

Vackert väder )

Which traces of can be found in a bunch of different early Kent songs! (Kent love referencing stuff, for the record. I think it's a hobby.)

Monica Zetterlund - jazz icon!

Some other time )

Fidget were a 90s indie band I think? I don't listen to them all that much generally but I have this one song which I love:

Stop Losing )

Håkan Hellström

Read more... )

Make of all this what you will! That's a range of music, though nowhere near definitive, from several different genres and decades. (I will note that I'm pretty sure that Swedish music cannot actually be this overwhelmingly white, since Sweden isn't this overwhelmingly white, damn it, but... *headscratch*)

& if anyone wants to rec me more Swedish musicians that I really should be listening to, then please! Go for it!
marshtide: (Default)
First a health update: been to the doctor's today and they've got the results from my scan, which show that I definitely have a slipped disc. I'm being referred to a spine specialist in Stockholm and have been given another heap of the ridiculously strong painkillers. I'm also written off work sick for another month, which basically means I'm not going back, I suspect, as there's only a week or so more than that left on my contract. Am I glad I applied for university? Yes. Yes I am. (By the way, what is reasonable to request for help in making my entrance exam more bearable? I have trouble sitting for long periods, basically. Any ideas?)
Now back to some of the questions I've been asked for 3W4D!

Branch asked: Do you think the Third Wave of feminism is making a new start, or covering a lot of ground that's already been covered? - and I do have Thoughts on this, but I am not actually that eloquent, so I've been fighting with it for a while.

And then yesterday my 20th anniversary edition of Bang arrived in our mailbox, and when I sat down to read it one of the first things I found was an article about feminist magazines over the last 150-odd years, written by Ulrika Knutson. And it basically covered a bunch of the stuff I'd been thinking about.
Here are some rough thoughts. I can't seem to get this very refined, so this isn't so much a proper essay as... well yeah. A list of things that have occurred to me. I think I'm feeling intimidated by all the feminist theory books in this room. They're staring at me.
1. I think feminism & women's rights movements have always perceived themselves as to some extent doing both (and been perceived from the outside as largely doing the latter). In other words, there is generally some kind of battle for people to make into their own, but there's often a feeling that one gets stuck in a lot of the same old bullshit about attitudes etc. anyway.
2. My perception of the situation in Sweden is that the basic laws are now mostly in place. So it can feel even more like fastening in the same old bullshit. I'm mostly involved in and following feminism in this country right now; I imagine that it's at least somewhat different in the US, for example, because the legal situation is not the same, but that there are probably similarities.
That isn't to say that there are no problems whatsoever with Sweden's laws (perish the thought), but that the changes required are possibly not as sweeping as the ones that have already been achieved. At least when it comes to gender equality.
I am not writing off the possible need for sweeping changes more generally.
3. I also think that it's very easy to elevate previous generations and say that this one is completely pathetic and all about people being self-indulgent and squabbling over scraps; or to say that the previous generations were actually pretty terrible and that we're so much more enlightened now. Both of these attitudes make me want to beat things. Just a little bit. Basically: seriously, cut that crap out. It's always more complicated! I do think that actually the weaknesses of this wave of feminism/feminisms are pretty much the same as always: a tendency to try and mainstream at the cost of diversity, to disown people who don't fit the image and to patronise people in lower social positions than the median for whatever reason. To try and speak for women as a group, forgetting that they are not all like oneself. On the other hand, these are certainly not problems which are limited to feminism.

On the third hand, that doesn't mean we shouldn't give them a good kicking when we spot them.
4. Also, feminisms, plural: this stuff really varies by specific spaces. A lot of feminist spaces are not queer-friendly, still, and a lot of them are transphobic, still. They can actually be those things and still be feminist spaces, but they're obviously not the ones I would seek out; I'm very glad that for example Hallongrottan is wildly positive about queerness, genderqueerness and trans, & that it doesn't seem difficult to find a space where I can be as queer as I damn well want within Swedish feminism. Don't think any space is problem-free though - if you're not seeing oppression that means it's pointed at someone else.

I have trouble accurately judging whether the amount of queer feminist space available to me is big progress since I've only been around for one wave; I suspect, however, that queer feminist groups of some kind or another have probably been around a lot longer than I've actually heard about, but perhaps without advertising themselves specifically as such...
Ditto this for other subsets of feminism but with even less awareness because I haven't had to go look for them just to feel comfortable.
5. There is a respect in which everyone is always making a new start (while also covering old ground) and that's the other side, that doesn't have to do with laws but with attitudes. Here is a quote for you by Ulrika Knutson, from the article I mentioned above:

Många sätter likhetstecken mellan lagstiftning och feministsikt framsteg. Men attityder, förhållningssätt och subjektiva upplevelser styrs inte bara av lagar. Lagarna är tröga, medan kvinnomedvetande, feministiskt insikt, genusuppenbarelse, genusbefrielse - kalla det vad ni vill - är färskvara, och ingenting som kommer automatiskt. Det är en existentiell dimension, en existensiell aspekt. Kanske finns här en förklaring till varför kvinnotidskriften ser ut att fastna i äktenskapstrasslet, dammtusseländet och sextrösket. Det är inte säkert att det fastnar, kanske ägnar det sig bara åt livsnödvändig repetition?


Vi som lever i det tjugoförsta århundradet måste utförska och diskutera allt detta i vår tid, oavsett hur Fogelstadkvinnor gjorde på trettiotalet.


Many equate legislation with steps forward in feminsim. But attitudes, approaches and subjective experiences are not only controlled by laws. The laws are inert, while women's awareness, feminist insight, gender revelations and gender liberation - whatever you want to call it - are perishable, and not something that comes about automatically. This is an existential dimension, an existential aspect. Perhaps this is the reason why feminist magazines seem to get stuck in the tangle of marriage, the realm of dust-balls and the mire of sex. It's not certain that they do get stuck; possibly they just devote themesleves to essential repetition?


Those of us who live in the 21st century have to investigate and discuss all of this in our time, regardless of what the Fogelstad women* did in the 30s.
* Group of Swedish feminists who ran a weekly magazine, started a school for women, etc. 
& I definitely buy into the idea of essential repetition, which was basically my thought when I was originally trying to figure out what I was going to say; that it's a lot of the same ground being covered, over and over, but that it happens like that because that's probably the only way to get anywhere with social attitudes. 

I posted a bit about a thing that happened across the Swedish part of the internet last year where women shared their experiences of uncomfortable situations where they didn't know how to set sexual boundaries or had boundaries ignored without really being able to formulate what was going on; sharing experiences of the effects of an oppressive culture has definitely been a part of previous waves. Of this I have read! (It's tragic that the only examples I'm mangaging to come up with here are Swedish when I actually grew up in the UK and have only been able to speak Swedish for a year, right? But that's been a year of extremely enthusiastic self-education.)

6. Also - in the same article it's noted that the discussion of women's rights was perceived as being rather tired and same-old in the 1850s, when Sweden's first covertly feminist magazine appeared. So, uh, I wouldn't really worry on that account! Keep at it! Same old? Sure, but maybe sooner or later it'll grind them down. :D
7. On the other hand, I'm pretty sure there possible new angles on all this that we're missing. I await them with interest.
marshtide: (Parkvakten)
And here we have a longer piece by Liv Strömquist, from her latest volume, Prins Charles Känsla/Prince Charles Feeling. This strip is not perfect in every way, but there sure are some points in there.

Take care of a man! )
marshtide: (Default)
Continuing on the translation spree!

First today we have some pages from "With best wishes" from Sara Granér. She's another feminist comic artist, and generally political. She, like Karolina Bång, is a member of Dotterbolaget, a group of feminist comic artists started in Malmö in 2005.

Med vänlig hälsning/With best wishes from Sara Granér

Read more... )

And then we've got a bit of Nanna Johansson. Nanna Johansson specialises in 1. turning opressive situations and ideas upside down to make a point, and 2. deliberate ugliness.

The book these are from is in fact called "Ugliness".

Fulheten/Ugliness by Nanna Johansson

Read more... )

And then finally, a quick one from Liv Strömquist!

100% Fat by Liv Strömquist

Read more... )

NEXT TIME: Liv Strömquist gives us the results of the "Take care of a man!" competition.
marshtide: (Default)
Today is wobbly. No complicated post, just a few links! I was up and about so much yesterday that I haven't been able to move properly today, and am also feeling completely worn out. That's how it goes!


Art: [personal profile] pinesandmaples has been doing lovely posts about art, which I have been enjoying lots!

Brain stuff: I found this essay on health anxiety to be an accurate description of how it feels inside my head.

Comic: This comic by Vi is awesome and adorable.

Good stuff:

- I have booked one of my favourite people to chat with next weekend, even if I can't actually hang out with her.

- When I actually post, people sometimes talk to me! Goodness me. Guess I do exist. And post things people find interesting. :)

- Negotiating to get some of my favourite Swedish people over here to hang out with me for my birthday outside of the more general family thing caused by me sharing a birthday with my partner's dad. We shall see, but it's a nice idea.

- [personal profile] annotated_em has given me paid time! Because she is marvelous and lovely! Thank you so much. :)
marshtide: (Mårran)
AND the other one! Back on schedule. *g*

Prompt: Archaeologists study dead people and animals, among other things. Do you need to know a lot of anatomy to put everything back into place (humerus =/= shinbone and so on)? And how does it feel to touch/watch/discover things that have been dead and hidden for ages?

There are a whole bunch of different things going on here, so I'll try to break this down a bit.

Do you need to know a lot of anatomy?

short answer: yes. )

And how does it feel to touch/watch/discover things that have been dead and hidden for ages?

Read more... )
marshtide: (Mymlan)
Well, I actually did find the time to round this one off today after all! (You can thank my slipped disc, sigh.) But anyway, here's your entertainment for the day: Liv is angry about female beauty standards! Hoorah!

And now begins the series...
- Riots Not Diets by Liv Strömquist

Read more... )
marshtide: (Parkvakten)
Good morning. Today the cat made a blanket fort. It was the Best Fort Ever.


more terrible photos from my phone )

Isn't he just begging for captions?
marshtide: (Mymlan)
So today I'm introducing another member of my little personal pantheon of Swedish queer feminist comic artists (OK, I will grant you, it is a very specific pantheon): Karolina Bång! Handboken (The Handbook) is a mix of stories about people who fall outside of various norms, bits of queer & feminist history told in comic form, and bits of how-to guide to alternative relationships!

This time I've got a little selection of mostly one-page comics to offer you, about queerness, norms and boundaries. This post is NSFW & some comics deal with rape culture.

There's something that most girls have learnt...

Read more... )

Shake That Norm

Read more... )

The norm ghost: It's trying to get you!

Read more... )

The end of the nuclear family: A Utopia

Read more... )

Previously translated strips:

- Snapshots of a patriarchy: The myth of the stone age, by Liv Strömqvist
- Creativity - a comic about making things by Liv Strömqvist
marshtide: (Too-ticki)
Prompt: I've often wondered how archaeologists determine the sex of a skeleton - I know there are differences in the pelvis, but what else is taken to be a clue? I'm also curious about how accurate it is, and whether anyone's done any studies on that.

I'm afraid I'm focusing more on the general methods used than specific studies - I'm not the only one tackling this prompt so hopefully you'll get a different range of information from the other answer! Basically all my books are in the wrong country & I lack journal subscriptions, so I can't pull up as many specific figures and examples as I'd like for accuracy. But here is the as lay as possible guide to the kinds of techniques that get used in determining the sex of human remains in archaeology.

As a note before we start, I'm also one of those people who dislikes overemphasising sexual difference and I do see this whole thing as a sliding scale rather than a choice between two boxes. I do not automatically connect sex with gender either. That's the perspective I work from, though it's by no means shared by all archaeologists!


There are three things that are often used to determine the sex of skeletons, although they're of variable use and appropriateness. All of these have problems, although number two is the really what were you thinking option. More on this later! The methods are:

1. Looking at the bones
2. Looking at the grave goods
3. DNA testing

1. Looking at the bones

Read more... )

2. Looking at the grave goods

Read more... )

3. DNA testing

Read more... )

Ta-da! I do hope that was at least somewhat helpful.
marshtide: (Parkvakten)
Here's a translation of a short comic strip by Liv Strömquist, Sweden's favourite feminist comic artist and social commentator. My rough translation, as per usual. This, by the way, is semi-relevant to the post I'm hopefully putting up tomorrow on assigning sex to human remains. It's at least some kind of complementary reading material!

This is from Liv Strömquist's first collection, 100% fett (100% Fat).

Courtesy cut for images )

Previously translated strips:

- Creativity - a comic about making things by Liv Strömquist
marshtide: (Default)
I don't spend a lot of time in Stockholm, but it pretty much is the place we have to go for anything not stocked in our home town, and very little is stocked here at all.

So here's... I don't know what, really. Kind of a guide for if you ever happen to find yourself lost in stockholm and need a cup of tea, mostly a look at my mental map of the city.


Sibyllans, Sibyllegatan 35. Nearest metro: Östermalmstorg.

Sibyllans is a tea & coffee shop - definitely stockholm's best one. They're way too old-fashioned for a a website, having only discovered how to take card payments late last year, but as I understand it they're open from 10 am on weekdays and saturdays. I understand they're great for coffee too, but I don't actually drink enough coffee to justify any special sort, so I've only tried their teas. We go there every month or so and buy tea by the kilo, loose-leaf. Yes, we have a problem.

My favourite blends are sir william, which is a blend of ALL the kinds of tea and tastes mildly smokey but not overwhelmingly so; royal earl grey; and their green & white tea blend, from which basically all of the best aspects of both green and white tea come through. I have a packet of really delicious genmai cha from them that I'm rationing out, too, and when autumn rolls around I'll be grabbing a big pack of their autumn blend (they do seasonal tea blends! this is both great and kind of frustrating; last year I got a tiny packet of the autumn tea to try, feeling rather sceptical, because it has fruit in it and I'm not much of a fruit tea person unless it's citrus. But it was great, and by the time I got back to Stockholm they'd already rolled over to winter teas).

here is someone else's picture of their shop.


Vete-katten, Kungsgatan 55. Nearest metro: Hötorget or T-centralen.

Vete-katten is a famous stockholm café, deeply eccentric, and also excellent for people with allergies (like me!). They have a slightly incomprehensible system for fetching orders, involving placing your order at one counter and receiving parts of it immediately and then being sent around to various other hatches where twelve year old boys in impeccable uniforms will provide you with the rest. I don't know either. BUT what I do know is that they had delicious food and proper tea, and that you can hide yourself away in all sorts of little corners there.

I had the best gluten-free sandwich I've ever eaten there, and they had a really wide range of cakes and pastries available for me to pick from. The list got a bit overwhelming, since I'm pretty used to being offered one or two things that're suitable for me in any given place.

You can also buy things from their shop next door to take with you.

Eat out

Lao Wai, Luntmakargatan 74. Nearest metro: Rådmansgatan

Lao Wai serves vegan chinese food, and a lot of their menu is also gluten-free. Authenticity I cannot speak for, but delicious it certainly is. Also known as the restaurant that made me like tofu. It's one of the few places where Val & I can comfortably find a whole list of dishes we can both eat. Tiny and kind of chaotic, but in a good way.

Teas also highly recommended.

If you want to just grab a really quick lunch, you can go there and take whatever the day's lunch dish is with a drink for 80kr, which is a good price for any lunch in Stockholm. I've eaten disgusting lunches that cost more, and I don't think I've eaten any that cost less!

Etnografiska museet, Djurgårdsbrunnsvägen 34. You'll be needing a bus timetable for this one.

OK, so it's actually a museum, and the restaurant does tend to be full of noise and chaos and people fighting for seats. But they also offer delicious food from around the world, often vegetarian or vegan, often gluten free (in fact, on the day we went there, the only non gluten-free dish on offer was the spaghetti, aka concession to children's unwillingness to eat things they don't know about).

Actually, as a general record, I have yet to have a bad experience with stockholm museum restaurants. And allergy help in Sweden? Seriously, they will help you.

I suspect some places struggle more with the concept of vegetarianism than with the concept of allergies.

(The museum itself is one of the less fail-ful ethnographic museums I've been to generally, by the way.)

Get reading material

Serieteket, Kulturhuset. Nearest metro: T-centralen.

Stockholm's comics library! For all your comic and manga needs! I don't think I need to say much more, but how cool is it that this exists? Books in English & Swedish.

SF-bokhandeln, Västerlånggatan 48. Nearest metro: Gamla Stan.

The science fiction bookshop. Loads of manga! Loads! And loads of books! There's tons in English here, so this place was extra amazing for me when I first moved to Sweden and couldn't speak the language, but it's basically one of those nerd heaven places. Also hosts cosplay events and so on from time to time.

Hallongrottan, Bergsundsgatan 25. Nearest metro: Hornstull.

Feminist bookshop with a lot of awesome aspects, from the amount of focus on queerness to the fact that there is a specific rather modest bookshelf for "straight white feminists" to the many really cool discussion evenings, talks and events they host on all imaginable topics. If I lived in Stockholm I'd be there all the time. Lovely and works hard on being inclusive. Also sell some clothes, random accessories, binders, second hand lesbian pulp fiction...


Vasa museum, Galärvarvsvägen 14. Tram or bus from T-centralen.

This is basically Stockholm's best museum, or at least the most unique; other people have wrecked boats, but few are as big, as well-preserved, or sunk in such an idiotic way as the Vasa. Pride, as we say, of the Swedish navy. Terror of the Baltic. Extremely poorly designed.

There's some really good information about the ship and its building as well as the preservation work being done on it, but above all, it is a really big ship. One walks in there and goes, wow, that is a really big ship. And for that alone it's kind of worth it.

No, really.

It's just that big.

Assorted shopping

DesignTorget, various locations.

The joy & danger of this shop is that you're never sure what kind of stuff you're going to find. They get a lot of new things in all the time and a lot of it is mad or useless but sometimes it just has the perfect thing. Or something that's mad in the right way.

Shock, Drottninggatan 81A. Nearest metro: Rådmansgatan.

Fairly generic goth/metal/alternative shop, but my main source of shocking hair colours!

Hötorgshallen, Hötorget. Nearest metro: Hötorget or T-centralen.

Mostly because they have this one stall there that sells every kind of dried fruit that you could possibly imagine, including ones without extra sugar added, and they all taste like fruit. The dried melon is particularly fascinating, for some reason...

♣ (Seasonally) Hötorget, as above.

The actual square outside the covered market has stalls selling fruit and veg all year around, but the highlight of these places is basically the mountains of mushrooms you can buy there in the autumn. So many chanterells in one place! Nom.

Oh, and if you want booze, you're going to have to go to Systembolaget, the national booze company. While there is one here in town which can order in things from bigger shops, there are some really big ones in Stockholm, like the one behind NK. For when you need that special kind of gin today, not next week.

I'm not going to judge you. I would never.
marshtide: (Lake)
1. She's Kind of a Big Deal: Women Worth Knowing About. Check out the prompts or sign up to write about the interesting woman of your choice, even if no-one's asked! I'd really, really love to see loads of stuff come out of this one.

2. I've put up the Frequently or Not So Frequently Asked Questions: Anime & Manga, following [personal profile] dingsi's model. Guys, go forth.

3. Masterlist of similar projects

4. Oursin is accepting prompts on the [community profile] history community on topics such as women's/gender history, history of sexuality, history of medicine/healthcare.
marshtide: (Default)
Social interaction - even online - sure does take a lot out of me sometimes. Argh.

But in better news, I finished reading Victoria Benedictsson's Money, and it was a really damn interesting book. I've mentioned a bit about it before, of course, but let's take this from the top: it's a novel written in Sweden in the 1880s, and was a contribution to an ongoing debate taking place at the time to do with marriage and the imbalance between men and women, double standards and all. A lot of the work concerned with the topic was by men, particularly Ibsen, and I guess Strindberg as well, so in that this is a book about issues concerning women's situation that was written by a woman it is, for its time, unusual. Interestingly, Benedictsson struggled to have her work taken seriously - it was dismissed as being about women's stuff, basically, and therefore not very important. Ibsen's A Doll's House, on the other hand, while also concerning issues with marriage and criticizing the way the whole institution worked at the time, was extremely controversial, but not, as far as I know, dismissed as unimportant!

The book is about a girl, Selma, who is married at the age of sixteen to a much older man without really knowing what marriage involves, because of ideas about keeping girls pure. She simply has no idea, particularly about sex. The book is about how she deals with her situation, really; it's about her journey through to... age 23, I think, and the conclusions she comes to about marriage. It really is an attack on marriage - a very carefully worded one, but all the same.* The attack is based on the inherent inequality - a situation in which men come to the marriage armed with far more knowledge of sex, are the ones who hold property within the marriage, and the ones who can be forgiven for sexual indiscretions too - and on the fact that for a certain class of women there were few options for supporting themselves besides marriage. Benedictsson, herself in an unhappy marriage to an older man, goes so far as to describe it as like prostitution: one sells oneself for money in order to survive. I seem to remember that there are characters who express similar views in A Doll's House, actually, though I'm only familiar with that piece from reading about it. I've neither read it nor seen it produced. Anyway! It was a real issue at the time, for the reasons mentioned above - particularly that women didn't hold property and weren't encouraged or allowed to earn their own living.

The book isn't perfect. I was worried when I began it that I wouldn't be able to get into it, because Selma seemed as though she had potential but things about her world-view were really frustrating and I wasn't sure about the direction it seemed to be headed for a while right at the start. This, of course, is kind of the point, as later sections showed. I did get really into it, actually, once I'd reached the point of her marriage; I was really interested to know what would happen to her and on the whole I wasn't disappointed by what did. She also does develop into a really interesting person. I thought she was pretty great. Striding around with a riding crop didn't hurt either, and nor did the female homoeroticism that crept into one of the later sections. Ahem. But the real point is that she's a good character, which is to say, flawed and interesting and with her own kind of strength and quite a bit of development. She also has strong views and expresses them.

I did think the message felt a bit... well, I've mentioned how carefully worded it felt, in that sort of balancing-act way of not wanting to push things too far, whether for fear of being unpublishable or fear of attracting too much criticism to deal with, and it did sometimes feel a little compromised as a result. Mostly I think it got through, though. I'm sure that a few other things struck me as not quite as great as they could have been, though I foolishly didn't make notes so don't expect elaboration. Oops. Overall, though, I liked it. Quite a bit, actually. I'd recommend it.

In short: proto-feminist literature I am really glad I read!

* In the afterward to the translation I read there's a little information regarding letters she wrote to a friend while writing the book, talking about what she felt she could and couldn't say as a female author and how she felt she had to worry about these things in a way a man probably wouldn't - particularly, open discussion of sex was problematic for her, and the book is very much about sex, so one finds oneself reading between the lines. To be honest, all that considered, it still feels really pretty frank considering when it was written.
marshtide: (Default)

The second half of Röd. In this case I'm providing slightly more extensive notes on translation for at least some of the songs, because I've only just been working on it and hey, someone might be interested in how some concepts translate or don't, for example, or how I reached my crazy linguistic conclusions. (& at least if I'm wrong you can see how creatively I'm wrong.)

7. Idioter (Idiots)

on youtube

Lyrics )

8. Svarta linjer (Black Lines)

on youtube

Lyrics )

9. Ensamheten (The Loneliness)

on youtube

Lyrics )

10. Töntarna (The Losers)

on youtube

Lyrics )

11. Det finns inga ord (There are no words)

on youtube

Lyrics )

Now I go forth and work on the patio a bit more! Those weeds and dead leaves have to go away eventually. I know there are flower beds at the edges somewhere.
marshtide: (Default)
Today I worked in our tiny garden/patio until I couldn't stand up any more! Wow. I haven't pushed myself that hard in a while. But yes, I do tend to get carried away with physical labour, and yes, I do tend to forget that just because I'm tons healthier than I was a few years ago doesn't mean I can do whatever I want.

Sitting down and saying stuff on the internet time!

I have a music recommendation to make today, because I've just had a huge burst of enthusiasm for the musician in question. She is Frida Hyvönen, a Swedish singer-songwriter who performs entirely in English, and who has a really unconventional and yet actually very expressive approach to the language. Sometimes odd song lyrics make one feel that the writer just didn't actually understand the language properly and have no idea what they are saying. With Frida Hyvönen, well - maybe she doesn't know or care about the conventional ways of phrasing things in English sometimes. And maybe that is a good thing. Maybe it means she writes fabulously strange and poetic songs which I love to pieces as a result!

The first song by Frida Hyvönen that I ever heard was played to me at three in the morning after much of a bottle of gin had mysteriously vanished, and in my slightly inebriated state I thought it was the best thing I had ever ever ever heard. The next day I still thought it was pretty great, so I went and found some more.

Here is that song, which I have actually uploaded for your listening pleasure because I couldn't find it anywhere (though you can listen to it & the rest of her music legitimately on Spotify, if you're in an area which Spotify covers). It's called London!, and it's basically about a love-hate relationship with a city. London, she says, the way you hate me is better than love & I'm head over heels... London, the way you want to get rid of me makes me weak at the knees. Which is, well. I'd been living in London for a few years and having a weird time and something fitted in there. Then she said, sure I want to be like them, I don't care that they are men, I want to be rich and fine and dandy; in a town-house in London with art on the walls, and memberships and clubs for gentlemen, and I was so utterly sold you simply have no idea.

Frida Hyvönen sings a lot of songs about relationships that feel real to me and she sings about people who don't quite fit and she sing about trauma and she sings songs that're just fun (and funny). She has a really cool voice, I think; I certainly like it a lot, but I'm not really any good at explaining music, so I'll just have to ask you to listen and see what you think.

Another download:

Enemy Within
The enemy within says a body of work is just as strong as its weakest point, and other such truths.

(this track is also available free from Licking Fingers, Frida's Scandinavian label)

Some other songs on youtube:

The Modern
I Drive My Friend

& if you stumble across anything else you should basically check it out (though most of what's on youtube is bad live recordings).

Frida's really inactive website:

To Read

May. 8th, 2010 10:52 am
marshtide: (Default)
Quick note: I don't lock any content on this journal right now so though I'm subscribing to people a lot more than I'm granting access I'm not actually hiding anything away! I'm also subscribing to whoever looks interesting right now. I'm a terrible commenter, I must warn, but if I post something you'd like to say something about you're welcome to.

That's all! Also that this has been a super-chaotic week because J has been off school sick and Val & I have had bursts of not-so-amazing health too, so I haven't been able to put together so many long posts. Yesterday was my birthday and today is a big family gathering. I'm beginning to accept that there's really no such thing as Regular Service to be resumed around here and one just has to take what one can get! Have some more quick points in passing:

1. While I'm generally going on about Scandinavian writers: a name I need to remember for when I'm a bit more fluent in Swedish is Birgitta Stenberg. As far as I know she's written quite a bit about lesbian and/or bisexual characters, and some of her work is autobiographical, which sounds pretty great to me since what I've been told of her life seems really interesting. There's also a film I will watch perhaps later this year, titled Apelsinmannen, which is adapted from a book in turn based on her experiences in the 50s. I've been unable to find any evidence that a single thing of hers has been translated into English, unfortunately; I think she's maybe not that big even here.

2. this and this. They could be interesting. The first is on order with the library & it looks like the other might be obtainable too. I'll keep you posted. (Why yes! we in this household are probably singlehandedly responsible for all interlibrary loans of books about Gender And Queer Stuff to this kommun.) Some day I'll post again about things I've actually read instead of things I would like to read.

3. If you'd like to know what I'm reading now, actually, it's a book called När Sverige var som störst. It is a history book. For children. It begins, of course, with the then future king of Sweden (parse that) skiing off to Norway because no-one wanted to help him become king. Then they had to skii after him to get him back because they changed their minds. "One of the more embarrassing episodes of Swedish history," says Val, although I will personally always think of the building and launch of the (not-so-)good ship Vasa as one of the most embarrassing episodes, myself. (But we haven't got that far through history yet. We're still busy turning Lutheran.)

4. I do not have time to tell you about the Vasa at the moment, because we're about to go and eat gluten-free cake and cook lunch for the rest of the family, but maybe I will tonight. It's embarrassing, so of course there is a museum in Stockholm entirely dedicated to it, possibly in case anyone gets any ideas about this country having some kind of dignity. Similarly, the thing where the first king of kinda-modern Sweden almost ran away to Norway is thoroughly commemorated, in this case with a huge cross-country skii race along the route he took. This is the Vasa race. (Er, the king-to-be in question was called Gustav Vasa, in case you're wondering about this similarity of naming across Embarrassing Swedish Episodes.)
marshtide: (Default)
A bitty entry this time, because I have a few scraps I want to gather up and get rid of that I can't make into full posts in their own right at this exact (everyone-is-sick-and-chaos-reigns) moment.


Have you heard of Victoria Benedictsson? I hadn't! This might just be because I'm not very well-read, but then again, it might not be. I will add the disclaimer here that I haven't actually read her books yet, though as soon as I can get to the library there's a copy of her novel Money (Pengar) waiting for me to collect. I am pretty excited about this. It's a criticism of the inequality of marriage at the time and of the sexual double standard between men and women!

Victoria Benedictsson was a Swedish writer, working in the late 19th century. She had a pretty eventful and possibly quite scandalous life, and struggled really hard to be accepted as artistically legitimate (often being dismissed as writing about women's issues). She was concerned with women's place in society and female sexuality, and her writing apparently has a really strong element of social commentary. She also inspired/influenced (and also possibly horrified) Ibsen and Strindberg, who I bet you have heard of, because they're basically The Dudes of Scandinavian theatre & literature. (The library I worked at last year in the UK had a Scandinavian literature section, which was composed almost entirely of Ibsen, with two plays by Strindberg. That was all. For reference.) Right now she's getting a bit more attention for the fact that her writing is basically full of pretty feminist ideas, but for ages people talked about her largely as that woman who had an affair with a literary critic and then killed herself because it didn't work out, which is unfortunate. (Especially as she didn't kill herself for those reasons, as far as can be discerned from the sources avaliable, which include, you know, detailed diary entries.)

Probably more on this topic at a later date, when I'm better informed.


I've come to a realisation lately: namely, that traditional narrative is just not really my best friend. I tried to be friends with it for a few years and I think it mostly produced stories which were fragmented anyway (but, in absolute fairness, sometimes worked quite well like that) and stories which I could not possibly finish, and while we'll certainly remain on speaking terms I think we need some space from each other. The problem with it is maybe that it implies to some degree a worldview that I have problems with, of definite beginnings and middles and ends, patterns which resolve themselves into meaning, etc., and while I can happily accept that this is exactly what a lot of stories need and that there are very good reasons for telling them in that sort of way I don't think I would actually want to write like that because I am... not really writing for those reasons, not really interested in what happens so much as the people it happens to (or around or because of or in the mind of or...) and the places it happens in. If I am interested in patterns it's maybe more why people perceive them the way they do, and the ways in which they try to make stories out of their lives.

Possibly this is some kind of terrible difficulty, but I'm not really convinced; I think it's more of a difference, and one I'm happy to play with, which means I should write a different kind of story. It's the sort of thing where just accepting it is likely to make for slightly happier writing. I'm interested in building up fragments into something of a story and I'm interested in ambiguity and making people join the dots up to a certain point, though of course one has to play carefully in this territory.

Looking at the authors I really love in a way which goes beyond "this is a good and thought-provoking read" or whatever and into the territory of starry-eyed admiration, I don't think this should be very surprising. Virginia Woolf? Experimental stylist fond of stream-of-consciousness and writing people more than writing stories. Tove Jansson? Penchant for constructing novels out of short stories in a way which works mysteriously well to create a sense of who people are; very little happens but a lot is communicated; not really a progression along a line so much as a collection of snapshots that could be rearranged and played around with. Murakami? Books full of signs which signify... well, what, exactly? A lot about creating a sense that there's a pattern and not providing any kind of key to it, and having this actually be satisfying. His endings resolve nothing and I like it.

I'm also more in love with magical realism and making the ordinary otherwise threatening or unsettling or strange than I am with just writing the ordinary or with writing the outright extraordinary. I think there is a space there for subtle wrongness and a sense of disconnection from the day-to-day, and though that genre doesn't necessarily do that and things which do that aren't necessarily of that genre I think it's an area which would be fun to play in. Any sort of lense which produces strangeness would work, because, well, that's how the world feels to me. I guess I am about the sense that things don't quite fit and that the supposedly ordinary can be the most disconcerting thing, because it often is to me.

This realisation brought to you partly by a conversation in which I got frustrated with Alice Munro's stories for being beautifully crafted and all about women's daily lives (OK, resoundingly straight women's daily lives with heavy emphasis on the men therein whether as a presence or an absence, which may just have been a part of the problem for me when it came to identifying with them) and absolutely boring to me because they feel like a part of a legendary Normal World I have never actually set foot in and wouldn't really enjoy if I got there. I simply can't connect to them, though they are probably really pretty good if you can.


A couple of links.

a. I've decided I really like the community [community profile] queering_holmes. I decided this largely because they seem to like Graham Robb's Strangers over there and because this could just be the place I'm looking for with Queer Victorian Stuff and an interest in Holmes as linked in to that context. Maybe I can air my theories about Irene Adler. Sometime when I'm feeling confident enough to be sociable. For now I'll sit and watch and feel a tiny bit gleeful.

b. I'm not actually any good at Japanese history - I've studied the bits that could reasonably be covered by a course about indigenous cultures worldwide from an archaeological perspective, which is to say, groups like the Ainu, and I've read a bunch of books about homosexuality among Samurai and monks, and I've absorbed various other information in a completely haphazard way so that the end result is a bit surreal - but here is a post about Samurai Champloo from someone who seems rather better at it. I love Samurai Champloo, for the record, and I love it as a fun and gloriously irreverent series and as a piece of commentary and also for its amazingly choreographed fight scenes. But in this case we're talking about it as a series taking a good kick at the Samurai drama genre as a whole even while theoretically playing within its borders.


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December 2012

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