Home game

Yesterday, as I was at a hockey store, getting some new skates for Daughter, it occurred to me that outside our house, there are two places where I’m fully comfortable and at ease. One of them is a car and the other a hockey rink. Any car and any hockey rink in the world.

One of my earliest memories involves a drive to a hockey rink in Helsinki. My Dad had a game and for some strange reason I got to tag along. In the mental image in my head, it’s the middle of the winter, there’s a lot of snow, we park our car far from the rink, I walk into a wood-paneled dressing room – and smell the stench of hockey gloves for the first time.

And, oddly enough, even the smell is a pleasant memory.

Naturally, I have no way of verifying any of that, except that it probably was the middle of the winter because back then, the hockey season was much shorter and that the gloves probably did stink because they always stank back then.

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Story man of Sollentuna, Part III

Since I was a writer, it was easy for me to put aside some time to solve the mystery. I called it “research” to silence my guilty conscience, which wasn’t that guilty to begin with. After all, I was “between projects”, the creative term for being unemployed.

Now, when I said that he was always at the mall during Christmas, I was using the phrase in a casual way. I obviously meant that he was there every time I was therebut surely he couldn’t have always been there. It was a shopping mall, he couldn’t live there.

Or could he?

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Story man of Sollentuna, Part II

Sollentuna is a 15-minute commuter train ride from downtown Stockholm, Sweden, with a population of about 70,000. We had everything: fancy restaurants, middle-of-the-road restaurants, pubs, a mall, public swimming pool, gyms, grocery stores, teams in all sports divisions, trains and buses to – and with the arrival of the old man, a celebrity.

A celebrity that didn’t seem to like publicity, as it was. The next time I saw him was a year later when he set up his table and chairs in the middle of our mall and traded stories with people until Christmas Eve. Then he disappeared – only to return a year later.

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Story man of Sollentuna, Part I

What you’re about to hear is a true story, but at the very beginning, I didn’t know that. I didn’t even know it was the beginning of a story. You never know when a story begins.

I was on the treadmill at my gym, in Sollentuna, Sweden, a suburb of Stockholm, staring down through the large windows that opened over the mall, trying to outrun my writer’s block. In case you’re wondering: you can’t outrun a writer’s block. And you can’t outrun a bill collector who’s after you because you can’t pay your therapist. The one you need because you can’t work – because you have a writer’s block.

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Get in touch with your inner Finn

In recent years, Finland has become the world’s model society in many categories and nobody’s as surprised as Finns themselves! Want to celebrate the eastern European country like a native? Here’s how.

Do not call Finland an “eastern European country.” Yes, it is the eastern-most country in the EU, but it took decades for Finns to convince themselves they were a part of the West. However, to get a feel for that 1970s eastern European flavor, stop by U.Kaleva, a bar named after Urho Kaleva Kekkonen, who was the president of Finland between 1956 and 1981.

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Luffe has landed

Luffe, kom hit,” Wife shouted, and a blonde dog that looked like a golden retriever came running back to her, his ears pulled back by the wind and his mouth open as if in a huge smile.

Wife patted the dog and looked at me.

“Had somebody told me a year ago that i’d be walking here with you and a dog, I wouldn’t have believed him,” she said.

“Walking here with you, maybe. But not the dog,” she added after a pause.

And yet, there we were, walking around the neighborhood, Wife and I – and a dog.

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The 3 train back to the future

On a recent Friday night, Risto Pakarinen was sitting on a half-empty 3 train going uptown, his legs stretched out and his black-and-yellow hoodie unzipped. He was on his way back to Harlem where he and his friend, Ari Lepisto, a fellow Finn, were spending the night. 

They were in town to check a few items off Lepisto’s bucket list, heavily slanted towards sports events. It wasn’t the first time the duo had done it. A few years ago, when Lepisto wanted to cross out “watching a Premier League football game” off the list, Pakarinen joined him on the trip to Craven Cottage in London to see Fulham take on West Bromwich. 

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Frölunda’s constant gardeners

About seven years ago, Mats Grauers, then newly-elected chairman of the Frölunda Indians, had to secure a loan of SEK 20 million from the City of Gothenburg to solve the hockey club’s cashflow problems. The team that had won the Swedish title five years earlier had taken a nosedive, and as always, turning things around took time.

Between 2010 and 2013, Frölunda accumulated losses totalling almost seven million euros, and on the ice, things weren’t much better. They missed the playoffs once and were ousted in the first round twice.

In 2016, Frölunda won the Swedish championship and the Champions Hockey League title and repeated the CHL feat in 2017. The secret? Building the team from ground up with a clear vision … and patience.

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How to make a hit TV show

Long gone are the days when television was simply a box in the heart of the living room. Instead, television is everywhere – in your living room, on your tablet, and – yes – even on that phone of yours, thanks to streaming and to new operators, such as Netflix and Amazon, who have entered the production game as well.

Who among us isn’t working her way through one or several TV shows right now? And when we’re not watching the shows, we’re talking about them. We want more shows, new shows, new things to devour, love and get hooked on.

Naturally, Hollywood and the new players are after hits. Shows and movies that get everybody’s attention. The must-sees. The challenge for the producers is that creating a hit is easier said than done. Here are ten things to consider.

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Liverpool flashback

The Globe, The Globe,
the pub with
the
             famous
                    sloping
                           floor,
next door to the Walker’s
       and a lady
      who sells
   fruit.
A bus to Hanover St passes by,
         as the Starbucks busboy
            picks up trash.
At night, he plays
        in a band
             called
                          the Deetles.
At The Globe, The Globe:
the pub with
the
             famous
                    sloping
                           floor.


A notebook entry, July 2017.