Hjalmarsson hooked on winning

STOCKHOLM, Sweden — Six years ago, almost to the day, the tiny village of Russnäs (population 90) in Sweden was bustling. Right at the intersection off the main road that leads to the big road that takes you to the highway, under the sign that welcomes visitors to the village, there was a big photo of Niklas Hjalmarsson in his Chicago Blackhawks jersey, with a message to the young man.

“Congratulations, Stanley Cup champion” it said in Swedish. Next to it, there was a tin-foil replica of the Cup.

The then-23-year-old defenseman had spent most of his two previous seasons in the AHL but had taken a permanent spot in the Blackhawks’ lineup that season. He addressed the villagers (and thousands of other fans) next to the playground where he had played as a kid, standing next to bales of hay and the Stanley Cup, his voice hoarse from a fun night with his family and friends.

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Inside the box

Jens Bergensten, the lead creative designer of the hit game Minecraft, doesn’t mind being boxed in sometimes. It’s a challenge that just keeps his creative juices flowing.

It’s been a whirlwind of a spring for Jens Bergensten. Not only has he seen the release of Cobalt, a game that took six years to develop, he also ­became a father for the first time.

And as lead creative designer of Minecraft, the award-winning, first-person sandbox video game, he is also kept busy ­overseeing its development.

It’s been less than six years since the lanky redhead started at Mojang, the game development company behind Mine­craft, which had been released about a year earlier. Bergensten was hired to work on Scrolls, another Mojang game. But over the Christmas holidays, when his colleagues left the office for vacation, ­Bergensten added a few things to Minecraft, such as a way to add color to wool blocks in the game.

Jeb

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Straight to the heart

Emmylou Harris doesn’t care about labels too much. All she wants to do is sing, and tell stories with her songs. A lifetime of stories brought her the Polar Music Price in 2015.

You can’t tell stories without looking back, because without looking back, you can never tell which way the story goes. But in every story, if you do look back and look hard enough, you will find the point where it turns, and where the story begins.

For Emmylou Harris, that moment was when Chris Hillman saw her singing at a Washington, D.C. Coffeeshop, and suggested to former Byrds bandmate Gram Parsons that he check her out. Parsons was working on an album, and Hillman thought Harris would be an asset.

“When I got his call I didn’t know who he was. We met at the train station. I was playing Clyde’s that night. We worked up a few numbers between sets and sang them to this tiny crowd. Gram said it sounded good and he’d call me. I thought, ‘Oh, sure…’,” Harris has said.

She was on her way to the stars. The year was 1972.

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Comedy masterclass

One of them compares the relationship to a perfect marriage. The other says they’ve never had a fight. Comedians Henrik Schyffert and Fredrik Lindström are in perfect sync.

The first thing you notice about Henrik Schyffert and Fredrik Lindström is that they are big. Big men, that is. Both are tall, and both have what people call “presence.” In short, you will not fail to notice them entering the room.

That’s a good thing when you’re an entertainer working a room, which is what the duo has done most recently, touring the past two years with their two-man show Ägd (“Owned”).

(Full disclosure: My son played a small part in the show between 2014 and 2016, and as his traveling companion I’ve seen the show dozens of times.)

Schyffert and Lindström take a bow with Son.

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Finland’s love affair with Donald Duck

One recent late night, when I should have been writing, and was instead scrolling up and down my Facebook page, I saw the status of an acquaintance of mine – a Formula One reporter on Finnish TV – in which he wrote: “Heard that a version of my name may have been used in the Donald Duck magazine. Can anybody confirm that?”

A couple of days later, I asked him if he’d heard anything. He hadn’t. Then I asked him why he had asked that. 

“It’d be a great honor to be featured in the Donald Duck magazine,” he said. 

We go back a long way. This is the oldest toy I have left.

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Culinary time travel

Erik Haag and Lotta Lundgren went time traveling and spent time in the 18th and 19th century, in the 1940s, and the 1970s. They didn’t use a DeLorean. They used food.

Maybe this is the last year we all walk around carrying takeaway coffee cups, sipping our lattes, and using coffee shops as our offices away from our home offices. It doesn’t seem likely, but surely there must come a time when our nutritional habits have changed so much that even an idea of somebody eating on the run seems odd, let alone that they would carry hot, addictive liquids with them.

“Food is culture,” says Lotta Lundgren, a Swedish food writer, and one of the two stars of “Historieätarna”, a TV show about Swedish food – and culture – in different eras.

And since food is culture, it’s apt to change.

Erik and Lotta.

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Fear of speed

Tachophobia is the condition of having an abnormal, extreme, and persistent fear of speed, that is, the experience of traveling quickly.

Each new generation seems to be moving faster than the last one. Take any sport, for example, and you will see world records broken, even if they seemed impregnable when they were set. Yes, Jim Hines, the first person to run 100 meters in under ten seconds, held his world record for 15 years, but his time of 9.95 seconds at the 1968 Olympics would have landed him in sixth place in Beijing 2008.

We are always trying to go and be faster. Faster is the first word of the Olympic motto, Citius, Altius, Fortius – Swifter, Higher, Stronger. Almost as soon as we learn to walk, we start to run. Just ten years after Henry Ford introduced the Model T, attempts were made to build a car that would fly. And with his Model T, Ford developed the assembly line, a method of faster, uniform production that revolutionized manufacturing.

The Finnish Flash.

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