Wednesday, May 04, 2016


The area around the river has become a focal point for my hometown:

It isn't really a park, but it has attracted a wide variety people who enjoy an open space with a background of a waterfall:

The fisher-folk have always patronized the area:

And now artists have discovered it as well:

And have graced it with their presence:

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 


Monday, May 02, 2016

Mondays in Iceland - # 60

I recently mentioned that I had been in communication with New York Times writer Dan Kois about swimming pool culture in Iceland. His story has been published, and it is great. So many of the stories I read about Iceland are full of baloney but he actually did research and it shows (I steered him toward Alda Sigmundsdóttir, who knows these things.)

Another Iceland story comes to me from Karen Heathwood, mastermind of the Sharon Spotbottom character that brightened this blog for several years. Karen hails from "down-under" and she sent me a link to a great two-part story on Australian radio about The Sagas and one man's personal saga. Part one is here. Part two is here. I'm usually allergic to podcasts, but this one is exceptional.  And if that wasn't enough, Karen sent me this Berserker-Sharon:

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 


Friday, April 29, 2016

Unreal Estate

2544 West lake of the Isles Parkway, via Zillow

Browsing high-end real estate site has become my newest bad habit. Once you go above the million-dollar mark things get pretty bizarre. The prairie-school style home above is a bargain at $1.7 mill. The taxes on this little 4 bedroom shack works out to a very reasonable $800. Per week. It isn't the most expensive house on the market in Minneapolis. That honor goes to this little "fixer-upper":

1712 Mount Curve Avenue, via Zillow

Seven bedrooms, 12,000 square feet, it has recently had its price lowered by $200,000—now it's listed at a whisker under $3,000,000. The taxes are also quite modest: only $167. Per day. I might have to save up for that one. Maybe I could live in the two-bedroom carriage house apartment (over the four-car garage, which includes a basement gym, a workshop and a tunnel) and rent out the main house.

Or maybe I should pull up stakes and head to Sweden:

Rural Sweden, via Donald Bixler, 1980

No idea on the pricing and taxes on this one, I might have to get a goat for the roof.

Nothing tops this for insanity, however.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 1 


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Orrefors Brand 1980

I happened to come across these images in a large lot of slides that I bought on eBay:

Most "vacation" pictures are of standard views—attractions that have been restored and buffed to a timeless sheen. This strange triptych depicts a potentially disastrous event, although the business has survived, thirty-five years later. The Orrefors Glassworks is located in Sweden, in the town of the same name.

A Flippism is the Key exclusive scoop, 35 years later!

"Brand" is Swedish for fire.

All images by Donald Bixler, 1980

By Professor Batty

Comments: 4 


Monday, April 25, 2016

Mondays in Iceland - #59

The Little Book of Icelandic

by Alda Sigmundsdóttir

Yet another book was recently published by a blog-pal—the second in the same week!

Alda Sigmundsdóttir has created a mini-publishing empire with her books on Icelandic culture. Her latest is, like her other ones, quirky and hilarious. It is available on Amazon, and should be in most of the usual Icelandic outlets by now.  You can check them all out on her website.

I was engrossed, although perhaps not quite as much as the fellow on the cover was! Like Shoshanah's book, I was fortunate to have a small role in this book's genesis—I was a beta reader. It was perhaps the most fun I've ever had while "working."

Last October, when I was in Reykjavík, I saw her other books on display all over the city. This series of books is an excellent introduction to the wonderful Icelandic culture.  Some of her books have been translated into Dutch, French, Spanish, and German as well:

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 


Friday, April 22, 2016

VRBO is a Verb

Vacation Rental By Owner has become a phenomenon lately. They are a bit more structured than an Air B&B, we've used it effectively for a couple of years now. A recent trip to Seattle found us staying in an accommodation that was really exceptional:

The Cherry Blossoms didn't hurt its appeal any, either.

Everything you could want in a home-away-from home. More than a room, it is an experience.

The Garden Studio.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 


Thursday, April 21, 2016

Rain Harder

"There's this kid, hanging out at Cookhouse Studios, he can do it all… "

That was the first I heard about Prince Rogers Nelson. This mysterious force, almost otherworldly, walking the same streets, frequenting some of the same venues, then exploding into super-stardom but never letting it change him. He was always, and probably will always be, the standard by which all other Twin Cities-based musical acts will be judged by (Dylan only lived in Minneapolis for less than a year.) I kept almost crossing paths with him. I worked with his Purple Rain Drummer just before he joined The Revolution, and worked in a venue the day after a scene from that movie was shot there. He did appear once at a venue I was working. We didn't speak. He went on to bigger and better things, but never really left the area where he grew up.

In this era of changing sex roles and struggles for empowerment, Prince was a pioneer who never preached—he just did it: championing women in his bands, androgyny in fashion and lifestyle, even his numerous forays into weirdness of various sorts, he just did it, on his own terms. Before his legendary Super Bowl half-time show, a nervous television producer asked him if he was "O.K." with the rain that was drenching the stadium. Prince simply said, "Can you make it rain harder?"

In this era of disposable corporate music, Prince was one artist who could really play, anyone who performed with him had to rise to his level.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2