What I’ve Been Reading Lately & Reading Challenges Update: June 2018

My goal of completing three reading challenges this year is progressing slowly but surely: my own Scandinavian Reading Challenge, Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2018 Reading Challenge, and The Reading Women’s Reading Women Challenge. And just for the fun of it, I’m seeing how many of the Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge tasks I can complete, too. I love the challenge of finding books that fulfill tasks in more than one challenge.

And once again, I’m joining Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Quick Lit link-up where readers share short and sweet reviews of what they’ve been reading lately.


The Wreath (Kristin Lavransdatter #1) by Sigrid Undset (Translated from the Norwegian by Tiina Nunnally)

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this book! It was nothing like what I expected. Kristin is quite the rebel and the book seems quite risqué for its time (first published in 1920). Broken betrothals, premarital rendezvous, poison, suicide, and coverups – so unexpected. It was interesting to learn about life in medieval Norway, and the descriptions of the setting are especially beautiful. I am eager to continue the trilogy to see how Kristin fares in her marriage to Erlend, the handsome man who wooed her away from her betrothed. This is a classic I’ve been meaning to read for a long time. I tried to read it years ago, but it was the original translation (Charles Archer and J. S. Scott) and I couldn’t finish. The Nunnally translation was much better.

Reading Challenges:


Miss Burma by Charmaine Craig

This was a tough read, not because the writing or the story was bad, but because the circumstances of the setting were so horrendous. Also, my background knowledge of the geography and history of the area was very limited. The story takes place in Burma, now known as Myanmar, in Southeast Asia starting in 1939. It’s about a mixed race couple, Benny (Jewish British officer) and Khin (member of Burma’s Karen ethnic minority group), and how they and their children endure years of war, occupation, persecution, and brutality. Interestingly, the story is based on the lives of a local author’s mother and grandparents. I’m glad I powered through it because it opened my eyes to a chapter of world history I had no knowledge of, but I recommend it with reservations.

Reading Challenges:


Still Lives by Maria Hummel

This was my latest pick from Book of the Month. Not only did it sound interesting (mystery in the art world of Los Angeles, my hometown), but also the author was coming to a local bookstore to discuss the book (which is always an interesting experience). It’s about a young editor at a small, prestigious art museum in Downtown LA who takes it upon herself to investigate when an artist never shows up for the opening gala of her exhibition. The story was a bit slow to get going and I had some issues with the main character’s decisions and actions. It did get more suspenseful later on. Overall, it didn’t quite pack the punch that I was hoping for, but I still enjoyed the book. I especially liked that it took place in Los Angeles and referred to many places I know. (Sadly, the author event was canceled, but I am hoping they reschedule because I would love to hear her thoughts on the book.)


Knots: Stories by Gunnhild Øyehaug (Translated from the Norwegian by Kari Dickson)

This collection of short stories is the author’s English language debut — 13 years after its initial Norwegian publication! I chose to read it in English because the Norwegian publication was in nynorsk, a written standard for Norwegian which I don’t read as easily. The book is an eclectic collection of stories all of which explore the mind and thoughts of people in a variety of situations. Many are surreal; others are realistic. There is little action. They mostly deal with the characters’ consciousness. I was oddly transfixed by the stories. The book is small and short, and the stories are short so I just kept turning the pages to see what creative and unique story would come next.

Reading Challenges:


The Reading Women’s Photo-a-Day Challenge

This month I’ve also been dipping my toes into many miscellaneous Scandinavian books as I participate in The Reading Women’s photo-a-day challenge on Instagram (#ReadingWomenMonth). I’ve been matching their daily prompts with books by Scandinavian female authors (mostly Norwegian, it turns out). Check out my Instagram account @AVikingInLA to see my selections and follow along.

What have you been reading lately?

Disclaimer: AVikingInLA is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Los Angeles Culture Challenge: June 2018

Los Angeles is one of the most diverse metropolitan areas in the United States, and summer is the perfect time to explore and take advantage of all that Los Angeles has to offer. Make a pact to visit a new area of Los Angeles or participate in a new activity—a cultural art project, a concert in a special outdoor setting, a festival celebrating a unique culture, or a bike ride exploring a new part of Los Angeles, just to mention a few options. The experience will open your eyes to the richness of where we live.

How will you explore the richness of Los Angeles this month?

* WEEKEND OF JUNE 2 & 3 *

Undiscovered Chinatown Walking Tour, Downtown LA, Saturday, 6/2, 10:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Visit a temple, an herbal shop, art galleries, antique stores, and more when guided to the unique treasures — not to mention great bargains — to be found in Chinatown. Wear comfortable walking shoes and be prepared to wind your way through a myriad of alleyways, plaza stalls, and classical courtyards to discover the charm of L.A.’s Chinatown. This tour takes place every first Saturday of the month.

Family Festival: Ancient Egypt and India, Getty Center, Saturday, 6/2. Explore the ancient and contemporary art and culture of Egypt and India at this interactive festival inspired by the exhibitions Rembrandt and the Inspiration of India and Beyond the Nile: Egypt and the Classical World. Enjoy classical Indian dance, make crafts inspired by the Nile and the Pharaohs, or get up and dance Bollywood style. Free, no ticket required.

Spain: Spanish Tile (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 6/3, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Every Sunday art instructors present a free art project featuring a different culture and media. All materials are provided.

18th Annual LA River Ride, Autry Center in Griffith Park, Sunday, 6/3. What better way to explore the city we live in than by bike. Join over 2,000 other riders, and enjoy a great day of bicycling along the LA River and through DTLA to Long Beach. With five rides to choose from, ranging from 2 to 100 miles, there’s an experience for everyone at the LA River Ride. Bring out the little ones for a free 2-mile Kids’ Ride, or pedal with the whole family at our 15-mile Family Ride (one registration covers a family of 5!). Want a bigger challenge? Train up with our 36-mile Ride or dig into the Metric Century Plus, covering 68 miles. For those wanting to push it to the limit, the Century Ride will go from Griffith Park to Long Beach – and back – and is a great, flat route for first-time Century riders!

Kids in the Courtyard: Sculpting, Molding, Forging, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Westwood, Sunday, 6/3, 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. Discover the history of invention and technical sophistication that led African blacksmiths to transform iron into objects of life-changing utility and empowerment. Find inspiration in the Striking Iron: The Art of African Blacksmiths exhibition and learn how to mold clay using the same techniques in African iron forging.

* WEEKEND OF JUNE 9 & 10 *

The Big Irish Fair & Music Festival, Orange County Great Park, Irvine, Saturday, 6/9, & Sunday, 6/10. This family fun festival features 16 entertainment areas with over 1000 performers providing the fair visitor with hundreds of musicians, dancers, and bagpipes, plus sports, dogs, sheep, performers, and plenty of booths featuring imported Irish goods and displays. For the young folk, there will be a Children’s Leprechaun Kingdom with games, rides, Irish storytelling, and contests such as Freckle Face Kid, Red Haired Kid, and an Irish Baby contest. And not to leave out the old guys, there’ll be a Knobby Knees contest. And of course, there will be plenty of Irish food and beverages.

India: Ganesha Painting (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 6/10, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Every Sunday art instructors present a free art project featuring a different culture and media. All materials are provided.

Makers Fest, California African American Museum, Exposition Park, Sunday, 6/10, 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Let your creativity flow at this all-ages affair featuring maker stations led by local artists. Learn from the pros of the community, including Yrneh Gabon, who uses raw clay vessels and sculpture to discuss water issues; Silas Munro, whose lettering design exercises will map and image our city; and Cole M. James, who will present a collage workshop centered on the narrative of preparing to breathe. Take home several creative treasures of your own! No prior art experience necessary; art materials provided.

* WEEKEND OF JUNE 16 & 17 *

Film Screening and Discussion—The Ito Sisters: An American Story, Japanese American National Museum, Downtown LA, Saturday, 6/16, 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Watch the 2017 documentary from director Antonia Grace Glenn which focuses on the experiences of Issei and Nisei women whose voices have largely been excluded from American history. At the heart of the film are three Nisei sisters who were born on a farm in the Sacramento River Delta and whose lives were directly impacted by significant historical events such as the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, the Great Depression, and World War II. The screening will be followed by a discussion. For more information, click here.

Father’s Day: Matisse Inspired Printmaking (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 6/17, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Every Sunday art instructors present a free art project featuring a different culture and media. All materials are provided.

* WEEKEND OF JUNE 23 & 24 *

32nd Annual Long Beach Bayou Festival, Rainbow Lagoon Park, Long Beach, Saturday, 6/23, & Sunday, 6/24. Experience the Bayou with this two-day family festival featuring authentic Cajun and Creole food, cultural music, dance lessons, crawfish eating contests, a children’s corner with arts and crafts and other activities, and a Mardi Gras parade. There will also be live performances at the Zydeco Stage, Blues Stage, and Children’s Stage.

Canada: Totem Poles (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 6/24, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Every Sunday art instructors present a free art project featuring a different culture and media. All materials are provided.

CicLAvia – The Valley, Sunday, 6/24. For its June 2018 edition, CicLAvia is returning to the northeast San Fernando Valley to revisit the communities of Panorama City, Arleta, and Pacoima. CicLAvia – The Valley is a 4-mile route that travels along Van Nuys Blvd where public art, murals, vibrant local commercial corridors, and cultural venues invite you to experience the city’s northeast San Fernando Valley. Whether by bike, by foot, or by skateboard, you’ll get to know Pacoima, Arleta, and Panorama City in a new way.

* WEEKEND OF JUNE 30 & JULY 1 *

Big World Fun: Le Ballet Dembaya, Ford Amphitheatre, Hollywood, Saturday, June 30, 10:00 a.m. Le Ballet Dembaya will take you on a journey to the country of Guinea on the western coast of Africa through their uplifting and energetic percussion and dance. At pre-show activities starting at 9:00 a.m., kids can explore Los Angeles’ native wild animals such as birds of prey, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. Children 12 and younger are free; adults pay $5. Open seating, advanced reservations recommended.

Little Tokyo Walking Tour, Japanese American National Museum, Downtown LA, Saturday, 6/30, 10:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Relive history and learn about present-day Little Tokyo with JANM docents. Comfortable walking shoes are recommended. Weather permitting. $12 members, $15 non-members. Museum admission is included. Limited to 20 participants. Buy tickets here. This tour takes place every last Saturday of the month.

Undiscovered Chinatown Highlighted Walking Tour, Downtown LA, Saturday, 6/30, 3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. This highlighted walking tour is held in conjunction with the Chinatown Summer Nights event starting at 5 o’clock.Visit a temple, an herbal shop, art galleries, antique stores, and more when guided to the unique treasures–not to mention great bargains–to be found in Chinatown. Wear comfortable walking shoes and be prepared to wind your way through a myriad of alleyways, plaza stalls, and classical courtyards to discover the charm of L.A.’s Chinatown. For those interested, please rsvp online here.

Chinatown Summer Nights, Central Plaza, Downtown LA, Saturday, 6/30, 5:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m. Part food event, part summer party, Chinatown Summer Nights presents an exciting hot spot for Angelenos during the summer. Taste the many culinary offerings of Chinatown and LA’s gourmet food trucks; sample the neighborhood’s wares; watch Chinese chefs perform cooking demonstrations; experience large-scale, outdoor video projections; take part in hands-on, Chinese cultural activities presented by local organizations and museums; sip on craft brews and dance in Central Plaza with 89.9 KCRW’s DJs! Chinatown Summer Nights will also take place July 28 and August 25.

First Nations Now: Rhymes and Storytelling for Families, California Plaza, Downtown LA, Sunday, 7/1, 3:00 p.m. & 4:30 p.m. In conjunction with the First Peoples, New Voices series, MC RedCloud, Jessa Calderon, and Saginaw Grant (hereditary chief of the Sac and Fox Nation) will draw upon Indigenous elder and parental wisdom and traditions to share rhymes, words of wisdom, animal tales and origin stories from across Turtle Island.

Feel free to add events for this month in the comments below. I also welcome feedback on any events you have attended. If you have tips on future events and celebrations to include in upcoming months, please email me here with details. Thank you!

Proud to Be Norwegian at LA Galaxy’s Norwegian Heritage Night

I have many interests and I love it when there’s an overlap. In the latest case, it was Norway and soccer, in particular LA’s Major League Soccer team LA Galaxy. Earlier this year LA Galaxy signed two Norwegian players, Jørgen Skjelvik and Ola Kamara, and in honor of Norway’s Constitution Day (which was May 17) and the signing of these two Norwegian players, LA Galaxy showed its Norwegian pride with a special Norwegian Heritage Night at the StubHub Center in Carson.

My oldest son and I were thrilled to attend. There were limited tickets available for the event, and fans who scored tickets received a commemorative LA Galaxy/Norwegian flag scarf as well as a chance to attend a post-game session with the Norwegian players.

After the match, Kamara and Skjelvik joined fans for an intimate meet and greet. Fans were able to ask some questions, which mostly centered on being Norwegian in LA — such as how they celebrated the 17th of May (they were at the Seamen’s Church in San Pedro) and their favorite Norwegian food in LA (none yet!) — before the line began to move for autographs.

When we approached, Kamara admired Sonny’s Norwegian national team jersey. We had bought the jersey specifically for this occasion. Both Kamara and Skjelvik have played on Norway’s national team in the past and worn this jersey (and we’ll be cheering on Kamara when he plays with the Norwegian national team again on June 2 in Iceland and June 6 in Norway vs. Panama). Unfortunately, Sonny hadn’t had a chance to show the jersey during the game since it was too cold and he had to keep his sweatshirt on, so we were glad the opportunity presented now and it was noticed!

Skjelvik and Kamara were very gracious and friendly with everyone. They were happy to accommodate various photo shoots and items for signing. We were grateful for the commemorative scarves because they were the perfect item for signing.

And thank you, Miguel Magana at LA Galaxy, for the tickets and opportunity to attend Norwegian Heritage Night. It was a very well planned and executed event. We will gladly attend another.

Little Norway is making a name for itself in the big world!

I love hearing news of Norway’s influence, or Scandinavia’s in general, out in the big world, especially in the U.S. and when it gets close to home here in Los Angeles. The winter Olympics is always a fun time to be Norwegian. Lately, though, Norway is making a name for itself in other areas as well. Whether it’s film, podcasts, books, music, or sports (besides skiing), there’s something for every Scandinavian enthusiast right now. Here’s a round-up of various Norwegian “sightings” outside of Norway and Scandinavia. How many are you already familiar with?

Film

Right now Angelenos can see The 12th Man, a film about Norwegian history by Norwegian director Harald Zwart. It has a limited engagement at Arena Cinelounge in Hollywood (released in the U.S. on May 4). It is a World War II-set thriller based on the true story of Jan Baalsrud, a Norwegian resistance fighter who was the only one of his 12-member group to escape the Nazis when their sabotage mission failed. The movie follows him as he tries to make his way to neutral Sweden through the Arctic landscape. The Los Angeles Times writes, “World War II-set Norwegian thriller ‘The 12th Man’ has the right stuff.” Catch it before it moves on… There’s even a book, Defiant Courage: A WWII Epic of Escape and Endurance by Astrid Karlsen Scott and Dr. Tore Haug, for those who are particularly curious about Jan Baalsrud’s experience.

Another movie to feature Norway is soon-to-be-released Mission: Impossible – Fallout. Norway’s iconic mountain plateau Preikestolen (The Pulpit Rock) in Western Norway is where Tom Cruise does a spectacular stunt. The movie opens in the U.S. on July 27. View the official trailer with a glimpse of the scene at Preikestolen. A hike to the top of Preikestolen is actually on my Norway bucket list so I’ll be eager to see this movie.

Netflix Series

The Rain isn’t a Norwegian creation but rather a Danish one. It’s a brand new original 8-episode Netflix series that was released May 4. It’s about two siblings who, six years after a brutal virus wipes out most of Scandinavia’s population, join a band of young survivors seeking safety and answers.

And just in case you aren’t aware, there’s a relatively new Norwegian series currently available on Netflix as well. Borderliner, released March 6, is about a police detective who covers up a murder case to protect his family, but then his partner suspects foul play. Newsweek writes, “New Netflix series ‘Borderliner’ is the perfect Scandinavian noir gateway drug.

Podcast

Also going on right now is the new podcast Death in Ice Valley. It explores the still unsolved mystery surrounding a female body found in Norway’s Isdalen (Ice Valley), near Bergen in Western Norway, in 1970. Producers hope to solve the mystery with the help of modern technology that wasn’t available back then and with input from listeners from around the world. There’s even a Facebook group where members can view and further discuss the evidence provided in each episode. The first episode was released April 15, and a new episode drops every Monday.

If true crime, cold cases, mystery, and intrigue are your thing, especially with a foreign touch, then this podcast may be of interest. I’m currently listening to it as the episodes drop and am curious to see how/if this case is resolved.

Authors & Books

Norwegian authors are also making a name for themselves outside of Norway.

Music

It’s been a busy time for Norwegian musicians abroad as well! Kygo, SigridAurora, and Alan Walker all played at Coachella Music Festival in April in Indio, California. Coachella was apparently one of the biggest crowds Kygo has ever played for. Kygo is now wrapping up his “Kids in Love Tour” in Canada and Northeastern U.S. After Coachella, Sigrid was a guest on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (watch appearance here). Kygo will be performing on The Tonight Show on May 14, and Aurora will be performing on Late Night with Seth Meyers on May 23.

Sports

Los Angeles’ Major League Soccer club LA Galaxy signed two Norwegian players for the 2018-19 season, Jørgen Skjelvik and Ola Kamara. The LA Galaxy also has Swede Zlatan Ibrahimovic, so Scandinavia is well represented.

And in case you’re not already aware, in honor of Norway’s Constitution Day (May 17) and the signing of its two Norwegian players, LA Galaxy will be hosting a special Norwegian Heritage Night at Stubhub Center in Carson on Friday, May 25. For more information on this event and how to buy tickets, please visit Los Angeles Culture Challenge: May 2018 (17th of May Celebrations & LA Galaxy Norwegian Heritage Night!).

Norway is also making a name for itself in boxing, female boxing to be precise, with Cecilia Brækhus (5 fast facts you need to know). Earlier this month in Carson, California, Brækhus not only continued her whole career win streak and defeated her opponent keeping her titles, but Brækhus’ match was also the first female boxing match to be aired on HBO in the cable network’s 45-year history of boxing coverage.

I hope you enjoyed this eclectic round-up of recent Norwegian sightings in the bigger world. If I missed anything, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Los Angeles Culture Challenge: May 2018 (17th of May Celebrations & LA Galaxy Norwegian Heritage Night!)

May is a big month for Norwegians worldwide. We celebrate our national day, Constitution Day, on May 17. Here in Los Angeles, Norwegians can commemorate the day with a traditional celebration on the actual date of May 17 at the Norwegian Church in San Pedro. Or, if making it to San Pedro midweek is tough, there’s the annual Sunday celebration at Nansen Field in Rolling Hills Estates on May 20. But that’s not all for Norwegians in Los Angeles this May…

In honor of Norway’s Constitution Day and the signing of two Norwegian players, LA Galaxy will be showing its Norwegian pride with a special Norwegian Heritage Night at Stubhub Center in Carson on Friday, May 25. Come cheer on the LA Galaxy against the San Jose Earthquakes while waving a specially themed scarf and then stay for a post-game session to hear Jørgen Skjelvik and Ola Kamara talk about their Norwegian roots and how they’ve come to where they are now. Fans will also have a chance to get their autographs. These experiences and scarves are on a first come first served basis while supplies last. To buy tickets, click here. Feel free to reach out to Miguel Magana at mmagana@lagalaxy.com or call 310.630.4646 before your purchase to check availability.

But there’s more to May than Norway’s national day. Angelenos can take advantage of many special events and activities featuring a variety of countries and cultures. How will you explore the richness of Los Angeles this month?

* Exhibits & Events Closing This Month *

Renaissance Pleasure Faire, Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area, Irwindale, Saturdays & Sundays only, April 7 to May 20. Travel back to the 16th century and experience the glory of life during the Renaissance era. The faire provides “a cornucopia of diversity where we are unified in inviting our guests to enjoy an environment we have created to escape from the stresses and demands of the modern day.” There will be artisans of all media, entertainment galore, food trucks and booths, games and rides (including pony and camel rides), a Kids Kingdom (with games, crafts, storytelling, song, shows, and characters), and a gnome quest!

For All the World to See: Visual Culture and the Struggle for Civil Rights, Getty Gallery at Central Library, Downtown LA, closing May 25. In celebration of African American Heritage Month, Central Library is hosting the traveling exhibit For All the World to See: Visual Culture and the Struggle for Civil Rights, which examines the major role imagery played in the fight for racial and social equality from the 1940s through the 1970s. The exhibit shows how popular images—sometimes disturbing, sometimes entertaining, and sometimes overtly militant—played a crucial part in promoting important ideas about fairness and social equality and advancing civil rights during a key period in America’s history. The exhibit also focuses on the role of entertainment media, especially television, as an influential force in highlighting key civil rights events.

* Weekend of May 5 & 6 *

Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, select cinemas in the Los Angeles area, May 3-12. Celebrating its 34th edition in 2018, the festival will bring the best and brightest of new Asian Pacific American cinema to Los Angeles audiences. Check festival website for information and program schedule.

Venice Cinco de Mayo Parade & Festival, Oakwood Park, Venice, Saturday, 5/5, 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. This is a family-friendly, free community event. The parade will be a culturally rich and colorful event blending traditional Mexican cultural performances with Mexican American innovations including classic cars, traditional folklorico dancers, Aztec dancers, charro, floats, and a mariachi band. The parade will end and transition into a festival featuring food vendors, piñatas, face painting, informational booths, live performances, and entertainment.

Cinco de Mayo Celebration, El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument, Olvera Street, Downtown LA, Saturday, 5/5, & Sunday, 5/6. Come and visit El Pueblo Historical Monument during the Cinco de Mayo weekend! El Pueblo will be hosting live entertainment in the historic Los Angeles Plaza. Enjoy mariachis, folklorico, and children’s arts and crafts. In addition, La Plaza de Cultura y Artes will be hosting Taco Madness on May 5 (5:00 p.m.-12:00 a.m., must be 21+ years old) and Family Day on May 6 (12:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m.).

Jewelry Workshop—The World of Washi: Beginner Class, Japanese American National Museum, Little Tokyo, Downtown LA, Saturday, 5/5, & Sunday, 5/6, 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. The World of Washi workshop series continues with two projects demonstrating that handmade washi beads can be unique and elegant: a delicate necklace crimped on a gold/silver chain and a memory-wire bracelet of semi-precious stones and washi danglies. The technical challenges will be crimping and looping. All materials will be provided. Bring a shoebox for supplies, a snack, and a willingness to learn. $64 members, $80 non-members; museum admission included. Limited to 12 participants. Buy tickets here.

Undiscovered Chinatown Walking Tour, Chinatown, Downtown LA, Saturday, 5/5, 10:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. (Offered every first Saturday of the month). Visit a temple, an herbal shop, art galleries, antique stores, and more! The 2 1/2 hour walking tour will take visitors to a number of off-the-beaten-track points of interest and will guide those interested in shopping to some of Chinatown’s best bargains and its trendiest shops. Wear comfortable walking shoes and be prepared to wind your way through a myriad of alleyways, plaza stalls, and classical courtyards to discover the charm of L.A’s Chinatown. RSVP here.

China Week Celebration: Taste of Chinatown Walking Tour, Chinatown, Downtown LA, Saturday, 5/5, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Celebrate “New Chinatown” on its 80th anniversary with an exclusive “Taste of Chinatown” Walking Tour. A condensed walking tour of historical and cultural highlights in Chinatown will feature a sampling of Chinatown’s most delicious bites from classic favorites as well as trendy hot spots. Taste some of LA’s top restaurants and then learn about the history of New Chinatown and the Chinese-American story of Los Angeles with the Los Angeles Chinatown Business Improvement District. This ticketed event will include food (we will not be able to accommodate substitutions for dietary restrictions) plus beverage tastings and a 90-minute walking tour. Buy tickets here.

China Week Celebration: Performance@PAC: Soundscape, USC Pacific Asia Museum, Pasadena, Saturday, 5/5, 7:00 p.m. Gather in the USC Pacific Asia Museum courtyard for an evening of experimental sights and sounds. Enjoy a concert exploring the similarities and differences in Chinese and Mexican music traditions featuring musicians Jie Ma and Martin Gallardo Jr. Explore the experimental media installations from USC Master Class: Cinematic and Media-Based Installations. Click here for ticket information.

Japan: Koi Kites (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 5/6, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Come for a free family art workshop in a real art studio. All materials are provided. Each Sunday a different culture and media are featured.

International Spring Festival, Bowers Museum, Santa Ana, Sunday, 5/6, 11:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Celebrate the bloom of spring with music, dance, and art making from around the world. Performances will feature traditional entertainment from Iran, Korea, Mexico, and China including J-Hoon Musical Ensemble and The OC Mariachi Kids. The J-Hoon Musical Ensemble is a youth dance and music group originating from New York City. The Ensemble’s repertoire is inspired by the musical tradition of the Kurdish region in northwestern Iran. Throughout its performances, the Ensemble not only aims to convey the joyous and festive character of the regional hymns and dances, but also the deeper spiritual and contemplative expressions which are at the core of this unique art form.

Celebrate Israel, Cheviot Hills Recreation Center, West Los Angeles, Sunday, 5/6, 12:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. This year’s theme is “70 Years of Zionism, Innovation and Entrepreneurship.” Join thousands of Angelenos from all corners of the community as they come together to mark Israel’s 70th Independence Day. This year’s festival will give attendees the opportunity to go back in time and see, touch, and hear the history of Israel, learn about the innovations that came out of Israel, and take part in the entrepreneurial spirit of Israel. The day’s activities and events include musical performances, an artist marketplace, a kids zone, an amusement park with rides, and food vendors serving traditional food and “street fare” (all 100% Kosher). For more information and to buy tickets, visit festival website.

Teotihuacan City (Andell Family Sundays), LACMA, Los Angeles, Sunday, 5/6, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Make, look, and talk about art at Andell Family Sundays. Drop in anytime between 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. This weekly family event features artist-led workshops and friendly gallery tours and activities thematically based on special exhibitions and LACMA’s permanent collection. This month, learn about the ancient city of Teotihuacan, Mexico, in the exhibition City and Cosmos: The Arts of Teotihuacan. See how monumental sculptures, masks, and other objects give a glimpse into the lives of people who lived in there. In artist-led workshops, make your own art that speaks to the architecture, beliefs, and magic of this spectacular city.

China Week Celebration: Kun Opera in the Chinese Garden, Huntington Library Chinese Garden, San Marino, Sunday, 5/6, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Experience Chinese opera as it was enjoyed in centuries past during an informal performance in the Huntington Library’s Garden of Flowing Fragrance. Kun opera, or kunqu, is one of the oldest and most refined forms of opera in China. It was frequently staged in the private gardens of Suzhou during the 16th to 18th centuries. Free with general admission.

* Weekend of May 12 & 13 *

China Week Celebration: New Chinatown Dim Sum Tour, San Gabriel Square/Focus Plaza, San Gabriel, Saturday, 5/12, 9:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Explore authentic Cantonese cuisine in LA’s “New Chinatown” in San Gabriel. You’ll get an introduction to the tastiest restaurants in the area, from a crash course on Dim Sum to delicious Cantonese barbeque and fresh treats from a world-famous Cantonese bakery. Guests will be led on a route of 5-6 eateries on 3 walking blocks. The tour lasts about 4.5 hours. Enjoy over 10 unique tastings that may include Taiwanese beef roll and tea-infused chicken leg (Happy Kitchen), roasted duck and noodles (Sam Woo BBQ), assorted dim sum (Five Star Seafood), traditional breads (Kee Wah Bakery), and Taiwanese lychee shaved ice (Black Ball). For ticket information, click here.

China Week Celebration: Undiscovered Chinatown Tour, Chinatown, Downtown LA, Saturday, 5/12, 10:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. This additional tour is held in conjunction with China Week May 1-14. Visit a temple, an herbal shop, art galleries, antique stores, and more! The 2 1/2 hour walking tour will take visitors to a number of off-the-beaten-track points of interest and will guide those interested in shopping to some of Chinatown’s best bargains and its trendiest shops. Wear comfortable walking shoes and be prepared to wind your way through a myriad of alleyways, plaza stalls, and classical courtyards to discover the charm of L.A’s Chinatown. You must RSVP as group size is limited.

JANM Free Family Day: Identity, My-dentity, Japanese American National Museum, Little Tokyo, Downtown LA, Saturday, 5/12, 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Join JANM for a celebration of Asian Pacific Islander American Heritage Month and its exhibition, hapa.me – 15 years of the hapa project. Crafts, performances, storytelling, and other activities will explore themes of identity and personal heritage. See website for activities offered all day and scheduled activities.

China Week Celebration: Guzheng Performance, Bowers Museum, Santa Ana, Saturday, 5/12, 1:30 p.m. Celebrate China Week with a live guzheng performance featuring Candy Liang of Lotus Bud Guzheng Academy in the museum’s enchanting Ancient Arts of China Gallery. The guzheng, also known as the Chinese zither, is a Chinese plucked string instrument with a more than 2,500-year history. Tickets: free for members, free with general admission.

France: Mother’s Day Stained Glass Vase (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 5/13, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Come for a free family art workshop in a real art studio. All materials are provided. Each Sunday a different culture and media are featured.

Mother’s Day at USC PAM (Free Second Sunday), USC Pacific Asia Museum, Pasadena, Sunday, 5/13, 11:00 a.m. Enjoy free admission, an art activity inspired by Chinese art in the collection, and storytime for the whole family. This Sunday, make a vase as a gift for mother (12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.) and hear stories of China and mothers in the Silk Road Gallery (1:00 p.m.).

Teotihuacan City (Andell Family Sundays), LACMA, Los Angeles, Sunday, 5/13, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Make, look, and talk about art at Andell Family Sundays. Drop in anytime between 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. This weekly family event features artist-led workshops and friendly gallery tours and activities thematically based on special exhibitions and LACMA’s permanent collection. This month, learn about the ancient city of Teotihuacan, Mexico, in the exhibition City and Cosmos: The Arts of Teotihuacan. See how monumental sculptures, masks, and other objects give a glimpse into the lives of people who lived in there. In artist-led workshops, make your own art that speaks to the architecture, beliefs, and magic of this spectacular city.

Family Jam: Ready, Set, Play!, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Westwood, Sunday, 5/13, 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Celebrate the traditional ball game pelota mixteca brought to California by Oaxacan emigrés by creating your very own colorful bouncy ball and enjoying live music from UCLA’s Music of Mexico Ensemble. Learn the science behind mixing colors and be sure to explore the photographs featured in our accompanying exhibition, Pelotas Oaxaqueñas, after the show! Drop-in art making from 1:00-4:00 p.m. Concert starts at 2:00 p.m.

* Weekend of May 19 & 20 *

Edible Adventures: Japanese Sweets and Street Art Walk, Japanese American National Museum, Little Tokyo, Downtown LA, Saturday, 5/19, 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.This walk will introduce you to the many sculptures, murals, and other public artworks in Little Tokyo. Interspersed with the art will be a sampling of Asian sweets such as imagawayaki, dango, and mochi ice cream. $24 members, $30 non-members; museum admission included. Wear comfortable walking shoes. Limited to 15 participants. Buy tickets here.

Norwegian Constitution Day Festivities, Nansen Field, Rolling Hills Estates, Sunday, 5/20, 9:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. This is a true Norwegian celebration. It is a relaxing, laid-back event on a huge open field. The gates open at 9:30 a.m. and Norwegian waffles and coffee will be available. The official program kicks off at 11:00 a.m. with a welcome speech and the raising of the American and Norwegian flags. Program highlights include remarks by Norwegian Honorary Consul Michael Soroy, a Norwegian 17th of May church service, a musical performance, and a 17th of May speech. Then there’s a parade around the field which is followed by the sale of traditional Norwegian 17th of May foods such as hot dogs, hamburgers, Solo, waffles, and ice cream. You’ll also find vendor stalls with Norwegian goods, and there will be plenty of games and prizes for the kids.

Inca: Feathered Pouch (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 5/20, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Come for a free family art workshop in a real art studio. All materials are provided. Each Sunday a different culture and media are featured.

Teotihuacan City (Andell Family Sundays), LACMA, Los Angeles, Sunday, 5/20, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Make, look, and talk about art at Andell Family Sundays. Drop in anytime between 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. This weekly family event features artist-led workshops and friendly gallery tours and activities thematically based on special exhibitions and LACMA’s permanent collection. This month, learn about the ancient city of Teotihuacan, Mexico, in the exhibition City and Cosmos: The Arts of Teotihuacan. See how monumental sculptures, masks, and other objects give a glimpse into the lives of people who lived in there. In artist-led workshops, make your own art that speaks to the architecture, beliefs, and magic of this spectacular city.

* Weekend of May 26 & 27 *

LA Galaxy Presents: Norwegian Heritage Night, Stubhub Center, Carson, Friday, 5/25, 8:00 p.m. In honor of Norway’s Constitution Day and the signing of two Norwegian players, Jørgen Skjelvik and Ola Kamara, LA Galaxy will be showing its Norwegian pride with a special Norwegian Heritage Night. Cheer on the LA Galaxy against the San Jose Earthquakes while waving a specially themed scarf and then stay for a post-game session to hear Jørgen Skjelvik and Ola Kamara talk about their Norwegian roots and how they’ve come to where they are now. Fans will also have a chance to get their autographs. These experiences and scarves are on a first come first served basis while supplies last. To buy tickets, click here. Feel free to reach out to Miguel Magana at mmagana@lagalaxy.com or call 310.630.4646 before your purchase to check availability.

REDCAT International Children’s Film Festival 2018, Walt Disney Concert Hall Complex, Downtown LA, Saturday, 5/26, & Sunday, 5/27. Don’t miss three action-packed weekends of short films highlighting the most innovative and magical animation techniques, as well as mesmerizing live-action films from around the world. Audiences of all ages will be inspired by these exhilarating works from more than two dozen countries including Argentina, Switzerland, Japan, Mexico, France, Belgium, Croatia, The Netherlands, and more!

Scottish Fest, Orange County Fair & Event Center, Costa Mesa, Saturday, 5/26, & Sunday, 5/27. Enjoy a festival of Celtic entertainment and food. There will be competitions in Piping & Drumming, Highland Dancing, and Scottish Athletics as well as a full schedule of entertainment. The Massed Bands will perform at the opening ceremony on Saturday starting at 12:00 p.m. and at the closing ceremonies on Sunday starting at 5:00 p.m.

Valley Greek Festival, St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, Northridge, Saturday, 5/26, Sunday, 5/27, & Monday, 5/28. Enjoy a cultural experience for all ages with live music, dancing, gourmet food, homemade pastries, cooking demonstrations, children’s activities, a Greek market, and a variety of shopping boutiques. The festival evokes the sights, sounds and tastes that define the traditional Greek way of life. Enjoy the hospitality of the Valley’s Greek community and experience the simple pleasures of life in a Greek village.

Little Tokyo Walking Tour, Japanese American National Museum, Downtown LA, Saturday, 5/26, 10:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Relive history and learn about present-day Little Tokyo with JANM docents. Comfortable walking shoes are recommended. Weather permitting. $12 members, $15 non-members. Museum admission is included. Limited to 20 participants. Buy tickets here.

Guatemala: Mayan Masks (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 5/27, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Come for a free family art workshop in a real art studio. All materials are provided. Each Sunday a different culture and media are featured.

Teotihuacan City (Andell Family Sundays), LACMA, Los Angeles, Sunday, 5/27, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Make, look, and talk about art at Andell Family Sundays. Drop in anytime between 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. This weekly family event features artist-led workshops and friendly gallery tours and activities thematically based on special exhibitions and LACMA’s permanent collection. This month, learn about the ancient city of Teotihuacan, Mexico, in the exhibition City and Cosmos: The Arts of Teotihuacan. See how monumental sculptures, masks, and other objects give a glimpse into the lives of people who lived in there. In artist-led workshops, make your own art that speaks to the architecture, beliefs, and magic of this spectacular city.

* Ongoing Exhibits & Events *

KING TUT: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh, California Science Center, Exposition Park, opened March 24 and is open for a limited time. Celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the discovery of King Tut’s tomb at the California Science Center with the largest King Tut exhibit ever to tour. Discover over 150 authentic artifacts from King Tut’s celebrated tomb – 60 of which have never traveled outside of Egypt, until now. In a dramatic new presentation, dazzling multimedia complements rare artifacts to take guests on an immersive journey of the pharaoh’s quest for immortality. Enhance your experience with the IMAX movie Mysteries of Egypt. It is strongly suggested to purchase tickets online in advance to avoid lines and possible sell-outs.

Visualizing Language: Oaxaca in L.A., Central Library, Downtown LA, extended until August 31. The exhibition celebrates the rich social fabric of Los Angeles through the lens of the city’s vibrant Oaxacan community — specifically, the Zapotec communities which make up one of the largest Indigenous groups in Mexico and Los Angeles. The Oaxacan artist collective Tlacolulokos has created a series of new murals for the Central Library’s historic rotunda that explore language and culture as a key lifeline sustaining the shared experience between Mexico, Los Angeles, and beyond, with a look at how migration and the socio-political environment shape identity and cultural traditions.

Feel free to add events for this month in the comments below. I also welcome feedback on any events you have attended. If you have suggestions about future events and celebrations to include in upcoming months, please email me here with details. Thank you!

What I’ve Been Reading Lately & Reading Challenges Update: April 2018

When we escaped to the mountains during our spring break which fell over Easter, I indulged in the Norwegian Easter tradition of reading a crime book, “påskekrim” as it’s called in Norway (Easter crime). It was a nice, unexpected palate cleanser to my reading this month which turned out to be all about women sorting out their lives.

And once again, I’m joining Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Quick Lit link-up where readers share short and sweet reviews of what they’ve been reading lately.


Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan

The Los Angeles Times recommended this as an audiobook not to be missed and it certainly was a great listen. The three different narrators – the daughter, the father, and the gangster – definitely brought the characters and story to life. The story of the first female naval diver trying to solve the mystery of what happened to her father was intriguing, as was the setting of the NYC Brooklyn waterfront in the 1930’s and 1940’s. I admired the resolve and independence of the main character Anna. However, when I found out that the story was not historically accurate (the first female naval diver didn’t come around until 1975!), the book sadly lost some of its luster for me. (Did I miss a note from the author stating that it was not historically accurate?)

Reading Challenges:


The Copenhagen Affair by Amulya Malladi

This is the story of Sanya, an American woman of Indian ethnicity, who moves to Copenhagen with her husband. She’s had a nervous breakdown back home and suffers from depression, and her husband decides that a move to Copenhagen will help her recover. Sanya gets to know the wealthy, elite of Copenhagen and becomes attracted to a man who turns out to own the company her husband is acquiring. It was a quick and easy read. I didn’t particularly care for the supporting characters, but I did enjoy the setting. Malladi certainly shows she knows Copenhagen well. This is the second of two books that Malladi has written that take place in Denmark, both of which you can read more about here.

Reading Challenges:


Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

This was the perfect mix of sweet, funny, and sad. The story is about Eleanor Oliphant and her very unlikely relationship with office mate Raymond Gibbons, the IT guy at work. Eleanor is a quirky, socially clueless, very literal woman. She has a set weekly routine which includes a weekly phone call with Mummy. She and Raymond bond over their good samaritan act of helping an elderly man who falls on the sidewalk. I loved Raymond for being so accepting of Eleanor. He really cared for her and stuck with her despite her faults. Most importantly, he helped her begin to come to terms with her past, which was heartbreaking to learn the details of. And a fun bonus, the author’s language usage was wonderful – so many unique words!

Reading Challenges:


Vinterstengt by Jørn Lier Horst (English Translation: Closed for Winter Translated from Norwegian by Anne Bruce)

This book with its setting of coastal summer cabins closed for winter (actually somewhat near where we visit when we go to Norway during the summer) seemed like a good choice for my Norwegian Easter crime pick. I’m a fan of Jørn Lier Horst having already read two of the books in the William Wisting mystery series. His books are certainly more police procedurals than crime thrillers. Detective Wisting is a methodical and likeable investigator. His daughter Line, a journalist, once again gets involved which adds a nice touch to the plot. In this book, the investigation takes Wisting on a short trip to Lithuania which added an unexpected diversion. This book won the Norwegian Booksellers’ Prize (Bokhandlerprisen) in 2011 and it didn’t disappoint.

Reading Challenges:


Currently reading and next on my list…

I’m currently reading The Wreath, the first book in the Kristin Lavransdatter trilogy by Norwegian Nobel Prize winner Sigrid Undset (Tiina Nunnally translation). This is a classic I’ve been meaning to read for a long time. I tried to read it years ago, but it was the original translation by Charles Archer and J. S. Scott and I didn’t finish. The Nunnally version is going much better.

What have you been reading lately?

 

Disclaimer: AVikingInLA is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Denmark through Eyes of Indian Author Amulya Malladi

I was thrilled to come across a new-to-me author with contributions to the world of Scandinavian-themed literature. Amulya Malladi from India is the author of seven novels, most of which revolve around Indians in America or back in India. However, two of her novels take place in Denmark and explore Danish culture with a keen eye.

I first came across Malladi when I saw her latest novel, The Copenhagen Affair, offered at NetGalley this past fall. I was immediately drawn to the cover with a lady and a bicycle in Copenhagen. After some quick research, I learned Malladi has a Danish husband and lived in Denmark for fourteen years before moving to southern California. I was relieved to know that she was writing about a time and place that she had experienced personally and knew well. Her other book set in Denmark is The Sound of Language.

For readers pursuing my 2018 Scandinavian Reading Challenge, Malladi’s books set in Denmark fulfill various categories—a book set somewhere in Scandinavia you would like to visit (or revisit), a Scandinavian book published in the last year (The Copenhagen Affair), an immigrant story (The Sound of Language), and potentially, a Scandinavian or Scandinavia-themed book whose cover piqued your interest.


Malladi’s novel The Sound of Language (published in 2007) went to the top of my TBR list when I learned it was an immigrant story set in Denmark. It was the first book of hers that I read. The story takes place in 2002 in the small town of Skive on the Jutland peninsula. It’s about Raihana, a woman from Afghanistan who immigrates to Denmark after her husband was captured by the Taliban. Raihana is an openminded and forward-thinking immigrant eager to integrate into Danish society. However, neither the Danish people nor her immigrant community is always welcoming or supportive. The book delves into how she becomes accustomed to this very different place and new culture. It was an interesting and touching look at the immigrant debate in Denmark.

An unexpected delight of the book was how beekeeping was integrated into the story. Raihana had some experience with bees from her earlier life in Afghanistan so her Danish language teacher coordinated an apprenticeship with a Danish man who used to keep bees with his recently deceased wife. Interspersed with the current progress of Raihana and Gunnar’s beekeeping are excerpts from Gunnar’s late wife’s beekeeping diary. Gunnar’s wife comes alive through these diary entries and is a welcomed character in the story.

One of my favorite aspects of the book was how Gunnar and Raihana helped each other and how they helped the people in their own communities open their minds to people unlike themselves. I admired both of them for persevering with this unlikely friendship despite pushback from their respective communities. I really enjoyed the book and highly recommend it.


The Copenhagen Affair (published in 2017) is Malladi’s second book to feature Denmark, and it’s totally different than the first one. Malladi herself describes this book as a “comedy about depression” and a “love letter to Copenhagen.”

The book delves into the misconception that “emotional baggage will disappear if one changes geographies.” It’s about an American couple who decides that a move to Copenhagen, Denmark, is the right next step for them after the wife Sanya has had a nervous breakdown at her workplace and now suffers from depression. Her husband Harry has a work opportunity there, and according to him, the temporary move would improve his wife’s health.

While Harry spends his days at work, Sanya spends hers at home under her duvet. Slowly, she comes out of her shell and begins to interact with people in the city and get used to her new self. She meets and becomes attracted to a man whom it turns out owns the company that Harry’s company is acquiring. Sanya struggles with the conflict of previously being “Old Sanya” (happy and positive, devoted to work and family, eager to please) and now becoming “New Sanya” (depressed, at times difficult and stubborn, attracted to defects and the unknown). As the story progresses, Harry and Sanya are also forced to contemplate their marriage and the future of it.

Though I felt some sympathy for Sanya and her struggles with depression and anxiety, I did not care for most of the supporting characters in the story. They were all generally part of Copenhagen’s wealthy, elite class. The women were only interested in designer brand names and gossip. They were actually a bit representative of “mean girls.” Even Sanya at one point described one of the women as being a “vindictive little bitch.” And in this society, hitting on others’ spouses and having affairs was commonplace. Not my ideal kind of people to hang out with.

I did enjoy the book more when Sanya, a financial consultant by trade, began to take an interest in her husband’s business acquisition deal and put her skills to use to try to find out what was actually going on. It became a little bit of a financial mystery story then which made the book more interesting to me. The ending, though a little over the top, made me hopeful that Sanya and Harry would work things out one way or another.

Overall, it was an enjoyable book. It was a quick and easy read. One aspect I especially enjoyed was the setting. Malladi certainly showed she knows Copenhagen well. She often mentioned specific stores, cafes, restaurants, and parts of town. For anyone wanting to visit or revisit Copenhagen, this book certainly provides that opportunity.


Both books have bold, captivating covers, but be aware they are misleading. The cover of The Sound of Language shows a woman wearing a hijab. The main character Riahana, however, does not wear one and the decision to do so is a point of discussion several times in the novel. Also, much to my chagrin, the cover incorporates the Scandinavian letters “å” and “ø” into the title so the title is actually shown as “The Søund of Långuåge.” I shudder just looking at it; the sounds the letters make don’t work with the words at all. If they had, that could have been a clever marketing ploy.

The cover of The Copenhagen Affair shows a very pale woman with a bicycle. First of all, the main character Sanya is ethnically Indian. Her darker skin comes up a couple of times in the book. Also, Sanya does not ride a bike nor does she express any interest in bicycles. There is the one time when she went off one evening with a new friend and she sat in the front carriage of a bicycle. Other than that, bicycles are just used to describe life in the city. I was expecting a bicycle to play a role in the main character’s life in Copenhagen.

I would have loved to hear the discussions behind the decisions of going with these cover designs and what Malladi’s opinions on them were. But don’t let the misleading covers stop you from reading these books. They are wonderful additions to the world of contemporary Scandinavian literature.

Los Angeles Culture Challenge: April 2018 (Scandinavian Festival & Festival of Books)

April is overflowing with special events and exhibitions featuring countries, cultures, and parts of town near and far. Three of my favorite Los Angeles events return this month: Scandinavian Festival at California Lutheran University, LA Times Festival of Books at USC, and CicLAvia in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. I highly recommend them all, but unfortunately, they all fall on the same weekend. Some difficult choices will have to be made.

How will you explore the richness of Los Angeles this month?

* Weekend of April 7 & 8 *

Bunka-Sai Japanese Cultural Festival, Ken Miller Recreation Center, Torrance, Saturday, 4/7, & Sunday, 4/8. Come enjoy Japanese culture at the Bunka-Sai Festival sponsored by the Torrance Sister City Association. Enjoy children’s games and activities, tasty plate lunches, baked goods, craft items, and cultural performances. To see performance schedule, click here.

Renaissance Pleasure Faire, Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area, Irwindale, Saturdays & Sundays only, April 7 to May 20. This is the opening weekend of the annual Renaissance Pleasure Faire. Travel back to the 16th century and experience the glory of life during the Renaissance era. Take in 13 stages offering a variety of entertainment all day long, a fully armored joust, the Queen and her glittering Court, arts and crafts, food and fine spirits, music, dance, parades, rides and games. There are also interactive adventure quests for all ages and opportunities to learn historic arts and crafts. Visit website for information on special events and themed weekends and a schedule of performances as well as a coupon to save on admission.

Opening Day: hapa.me – 15 years of the hapa project, Japanese American National Museum, Little Tokyo, Downtown LA, April 7 – October 28. In this new exhibition, artist Kip Fulbeck continues his project, begun in 2001, of photographing persons who identify as “Hapa”—of mixed Asian/Pacific Islander descent—as a means of promoting awareness and positive acceptance of multiracial identity. hapa.me pairs the photographs and statements from the groundbreaking 2006 exhibition, kip fulbeck: part asian, 100% hapa, with contemporary portraits of the same individuals and newly written statements, showing not only their physical changes in the ensuing years, but also changes in their perspectives and outlooks on the world. Click here to see a schedule of special activities to mark Opening Day.

Undiscovered Chinatown Walking Tour, Chinatown, Downtown LA, Saturday, 4/7, 10:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. (Offered every first Saturday of the month). Visit a temple, an herbal shop, art galleries, antique stores, and more when guided to the unique treasures—not to mention great bargains—to be found in Chinatown. Wear comfortable walking shoes and be prepared to wind your way through a myriad of alleyways, plaza stalls, and classical courtyards to discover the charm of L.A.’s Chinatown.

Greece: Gods and Goddess Tile Mosaic (Family Art Workshop), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 4/8, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Come for a free family art workshop in a real art studio. All materials are provided. Each Sunday a different culture and media are featured.

Tokyo City Cup & Japan Family Day 2018, Santa Anita Park, Arcadia, Sunday, 4/8, 10:30 a.m. Each year the Tokyo City Cup Race is run to acknowledge and celebrate the partnership between two of the premier horse racing tracks in their respective countries. Japan Family Day at Santa Anita Park was started as a way to introduce Japanese traditional culture and to interact with the people of Southern California. Through the years, it has become one of the most popular spring festivals in the area. Featuring cultural events and demonstrations, Japanese/Asian/Fusion food booths, live entertainment, and special fun areas for kids and families, Japan Family Day has something for everyone. Visit website for schedule of events and coupon for free general admission.

Explore the Art of Printmaking (Free Second Sunday), USC Pacific Asia Museum, Pasadena, Sunday, 4/8, 11:00 a.m. Explore the art of printmaking with special guests from Self Help Graphics & Art (SHG). Artist from their Bario Mobile Art Studio will guide you through the process of making your own silkscreen printed poster. While you’re there, don’t miss your chance to go on a guided tour of Winds from Fusang: Mexico and China in the Twentieth Century and listen to story time in the Silk Road Gallery. Free admission all day.

Japanese Cherry Blossom Festival, Bowers Museum, Santa Ana, Sunday, 4/8, 11:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. April’s festival features Taiko Center of Los Angeles and visiting artist Fuden Daiko from Fudenji Zen Monastery in Salsomaggiore Terme, Italy. Enjoy beautiful folk and classical dances, as well as koto and lute music of Japan. Feast your eyes on the work of world renown candy sculptor Shan Ichiyanagi. Round out the day with art projects and face painting for the entire family.

Panamanian Cosmos (Andell Family Sundays), LACMA, Los Angeles, Sunday, 4/8, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Make, look, and talk about art at Andell Family Sundays! Drop in anytime between 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. This weekly family event features artist-led workshops and friendly gallery tours and activities thematically based on special exhibitions and LACMA’s permanent collection. This month, check out the animals (real and mythical) of ancient Panama in Creatures of the Earth, Sea, and Sky: Painting the Panamanian Cosmos. Painted on ceramics, these playful depictions of serpents, armadillos, fish, and other creatures will inspire your own clay pinch-pots and animal drawings in artist-led workshops.

Family Jam: Making Art and Music with Masanga Marimba, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Westwood, Sunday, 4/8, 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Join us for an afternoon of art making and live music celebrating our Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA exhibition, Axé Bahia: The Power of Art in an Afro-Brazilian Metropolis. Find inspiration in the galleries, use watercolors to recreate the colorful textiles worn by women in Bahia, and listen as the LA-based Masanga Marimba Ensemble plays traditional and popular music from Africa and Latin America. Drop-in art making from 1-4pm. Concert starts at 2pm.

* Weekend of April 14 & 15 *

20th Annual Chumash Day Powwow and Inter-Tribal Celebration, Malibu Bluffs Park, Malibu, Saturday, 4/14, & Sunday, 4/15. This year’s 20th annual Chumash Day Powwow will celebrate Native Americans from all over the country. Hundreds of tribes will gather at Malibu Bluffs Park. Native American food, craft vendors, tribal ceremonies, and dances will be a part of the event on both days.

Thailand: Thai New Year Puppets (Family Art Workshop), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 4/15, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Come for a free family art workshop in a real art studio. All materials are provided. Each Sunday a different culture and media are featured.

Panamanian Cosmos (Andell Family Sundays), LACMA, Los Angeles, Sunday, 4/15, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Make, look, and talk about art at Andell Family Sundays! Drop in anytime between 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. This weekly family event features artist-led workshops and friendly gallery tours and activities thematically based on special exhibitions and LACMA’s permanent collection. This month, check out the animals (real and mythical) of ancient Panama in Creatures of the Earth, Sea, and Sky: Painting the Panamanian Cosmos. Painted on ceramics, these playful depictions of serpents, armadillos, fish, and other creatures will inspire your own clay pinch-pots and animal drawings in artist-led workshops.

* Weekend of April 21 & 22 *

Scandinavian Festival, California Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks, Saturday, 4/21, & Sunday, 4/22. The Scandinavian Festival returns for the 43rd year. Both days of the festival are filled with music, dancing, food, lectures, demonstrations, vendors, and activities for young and old alike. The Viking Encampment and Sami Village will once again be present. Family activities include head wreath making with real flowers, raising the Maypole and dancing around it, learning the ancient Viking game Kubb, playing croquet, and a variety of arts and crafts representative of the Nordic countries.

Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, USC Campus, Exposition Park, Saturday, 4/21, and Sunday, 4/22. Enjoy two days of not only books and authors, but also music, food, art, culture, and fun. The Festival of Books is Los Angeles Times’ annual celebration of ideas, creativity, and the written word. The Festival brings book lovers and fun seekers of all ages together with their favorite authors, artists, chefs, musicians, and entertainers.

CicLAvia: Heart of the Foothills, Foothills of San Gabriel Mountains, Sunday, 4/22, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. CicLAvia kicks off 2018 with a brand new route, Heart of the Foothills. The country’s largest open streets event will connect the cities of San Dimas, La Verne, Pomona, and Claremont. Streets will be closed to cars and open for cyclists, pedestrians, runners, and skaters to use as a recreational space.

Panamanian Cosmos (Andell Family Sundays), LACMA, Los Angeles, Sunday, 4/22, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Make, look, and talk about art at Andell Family Sundays! Drop in anytime between 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. This weekly family event features artist-led workshops and friendly gallery tours and activities thematically based on special exhibitions and LACMA’s permanent collection. This month, check out the animals (real and mythical) of ancient Panama in Creatures of the Earth, Sea, and Sky: Painting the Panamanian Cosmos. Painted on ceramics, these playful depictions of serpents, armadillos, fish, and other creatures will inspire your own clay pinch-pots and animal drawings in artist-led workshops.

Kids in the Courtyard: Sail Away in Moche-Style, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Westwood, Sunday, 4/22, 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Explore the magnificent tule reed boats illustrated on a Peruvian Moche-style vessel in the exhibition Intersections: World Arts, Local Lives. Surrounded by sea creatures, the boats are shown transporting people, most of whom are elaborately dressed. Design your own boat and watch it float in the Fowler’s fountain, your bathtub, the pool, or even the sea!

* Weekend of April 28 & 29 *

Little Tokyo Walking Tour, Japanese American National Museum, Downtown LA, Saturday, 4/28, 10:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Relive history and learn about present-day Little Tokyo with JANM docents. Comfortable walking shoes are recommended. Weather permitting. Buy tickets in advance. Cost is $12 members, $15 non-members. Museum admission is included. Limited to 20 participants.

Ancient Sumer: Deer in a Thicket Sculpture (Family Art Workshop), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 4/29, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Come for a free family art workshop in a real art studio. All materials are provided. Each Sunday a different culture and media are featured.

Panamanian Cosmos (Andell Family Sundays), LACMA, Los Angeles, Sunday, 4/29, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Make, look, and talk about art at Andell Family Sundays! Drop in anytime between 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. This weekly family event features artist-led workshops and friendly gallery tours and activities thematically based on special exhibitions and LACMA’s permanent collection. This month, check out the animals (real and mythical) of ancient Panama in Creatures of the Earth, Sea, and Sky: Painting the Panamanian Cosmos. Painted on ceramics, these playful depictions of serpents, armadillos, fish, and other creatures will inspire your own clay pinch-pots and animal drawings in artist-led workshops.

* Ongoing Exhibits and Events *

KING TUT: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh, California Science Center, Exposition Park, opened March 24 and is open for a limited time. Celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the discovery of King Tut’s tomb at the California Science Center with the largest King Tut exhibit ever to tour. Discover over 150 authentic artifacts from King Tut’s celebrated tomb – 60 of which have never traveled outside of Egypt, until now. In a dramatic new presentation, dazzling multimedia complements rare artifacts to take guests on an immersive journey of the pharaoh’s quest for immortality. Enhance your experience with the IMAX movie Mysteries of Egypt. It is strongly suggested to purchase tickets online in advance to avoid lines and possible sell-outs.

For All the World to See: Visual Culture and the Struggle for Civil Rights, Getty Gallery at Central Library, Downtown LA, February 1 – May 25. In celebration of African American Heritage Month, Central Library is hosting the traveling exhibit For All the World to See: Visual Culture and the Struggle for Civil Rights, which examines the major role imagery played in the fight for racial and social equality from the 1940s through the 1970s. The exhibit shows how popular images—sometimes disturbing, sometimes entertaining, and sometimes overtly militant—played a crucial part in promoting important ideas about fairness and social equality and advancing civil rights during a key period in America’s history. The exhibit also focuses on the role of entertainment media, especially television, as an influential force in highlighting key civil rights events.

Visualizing Language: Oaxaca in L.A., Central Library, Downtown LA, extended until August 31. The exhibition celebrates the rich social fabric of Los Angeles through the lens of the city’s vibrant Oaxacan community — specifically, the Zapotec communities which make up one of the largest Indigenous groups in Mexico and Los Angeles. The Oaxacan artist collective Tlacolulokos has created a series of new murals for the Central Library’s historic rotunda that explore language and culture as a key lifeline sustaining the shared experience between Mexico, Los Angeles, and beyond, with a look at how migration and the socio-political environment shape identity and cultural traditions.

Feel free to add events for this month in the comments below. I also welcome feedback on any events you have attended. If you have suggestions about future events and celebrations to include in upcoming months, please email me here with details. Thank you!

Nothing Compares to a Norwegian Shrimp Fest!

Experiencing shrimp the Norwegian way is a special treat. Nothing compares to it in the United States, but attending a Norwegian Shrimp Fest at a Norwegian Church gets you pretty close. And that’s what I had the pleasure of doing earlier this month.

Thank you to Sjømannskirken for letting me use their photo.

This year’s Shrimp Fest at the Norwegian Church in San Pedro took place on St. Patrick’s Day so the ubiquitous green made its appearance. There were green napkins; otherwise, I would have expected red or blue napkins. Also, there was the occasional very green shrimp sitting on the edge of a shrimp bowl. Apparently, it was edible but no one near us was tempted to try it.

The evening was really a very simple and casual affair. Tables were set with large bowls of shrimp (in this case, Arctic Greenland shrimp), freshly baked bread, mayonnaise (real Norwegian mayonnaise!), fresh dill, lettuce leaves, and lemon wedges. Then it was up to the guests to handle the rest themselves. (And the hosts to refill the shrimp bowls, which they did gladly and diligently.)

It was very quiet to begin with as guests set to work peeling shrimp and making their open-faced sandwiches. There’s nothing really too gourmet about this meal. Some people might even be shocked at the amount of mayo that goes into a sandwich. It’s hard to eat fast at a shrimp fest because the shrimp are small and each one takes a few seconds to peel. But the result is certainly worth the effort.

For those of you who are curious about what makes this meal so special, it’s the shrimp. The shrimp enjoyed at Norwegian gatherings are a coldwater species caught at the bottom in the deep waters of the North Atlantic and North Pacific Oceans. They are most often cooked and quick-frozen within a few hours of leaving the water.

While we all were enjoying our shrimp, with discussions of what body part to rip off first, the Slow TV program Saltstraumen minutt for minutt was playing in the background. Saltstraumen is the world’s strongest tidal current located near the city of Bodø (about 50 miles north of the Arctic Circle). I was too busy with my shrimp so I didn’t see much of it, but the glimpses I did catch were a perfect accompaniment to the meal.

Thank you to Sjømannskirken for letting me use their photo.

There were other highlights of the evening as well. When guests had started to slow down their peeling and eating, we did a sing-along of the Norwegian song “Rekevisa” (“The Shrimp Song”) as Sverre, the priest, played the guitar. It had the melody of a traditional children’s Christmas song (“Musevisa”, “The Mouse Song”), but the lyrics about a mouse family getting ready for Christmas had been replaced with lyrics about the joys of a shrimp fest. Another highlight of the evening was a quiz. It included multiple-choice questions on a wide variety of topics, some relating to the evening (like “How many species of shrimp are there?”), others totally unrelated (“How many times a day does a person touch their phone?”). It was really the luck of the draw as to who would win, which made it fun for all ages.

We finished off the meal with some vanilla ice cream with chocolate and caramel toppings. As we enjoyed our desserts, we went over the answers to the quiz. I believe I heard the winners came down from Santa Barbara for the Shrimp Fest. They deserved that bag of seigmenn!

When I return to Norway every summer, a shrimp meal is always on my wishlist of foods. The opportunity to enjoy one here in the States with like-minded people was wonderful, and I look forward to next year’s fest!

What I’ve Been Reading Lately & Reading Challenges Update: March 2018

I’m continuing my quest to complete three reading challenges this year: my own Scandinavian Reading Challenge, Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2018 Reading Challenge, and The Reading Women’s Reading Women Challenge. Having these reading challenges provides me with more focus when deciding what to read next. They also force me to choose books outside my normal reading habits. I also enjoy the challenge of finding books that fulfill tasks in more than one challenge at a time. And just for the fun of it, I’m seeing how many of Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge tasks I can complete, too.

If you haven’t already checked out my 2018 Scandinavian Reading Challenge, I invite you to do so here. It’s not too late to join!

And once again, I’m joining Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Quick Lit link-up where readers share short and sweet reviews of what they’ve been reading lately. This month I’m covering the last two months. Winter Break in February helped me catch up on my reading.


The Leavers by Lisa Ko

Once I got through the first part — felt there was a little too much description and detail — and the storyline went to China and I learned more about the mother’s situation, I was hooked. Keeping track of the two narratives, one in first person and the other in third person, both switching between past and present, was a little tough, so it wasn’t an easy read. But in the end, it was a read I really enjoyed. There were a lot of issues to ponder – illegal immigration from Asia, undocumented workers, interracial adoption, for-profit prisons, just to name a few. The book club discussion was very good. We had strong differing opinions about the mother.

Reading Challenges:

  • Reading Women Challenge—a book with an immigrant or refugee viewpoint character
  • Modern Mrs. Darcy—a book by an author of a different race, ethnicity or religion than your own
  • ReadHarder—a book set in or about one of the five BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, or South Africa)

God’s Mercy by Kerstin Ekman (Translated from Swedish by Linda Schenck)

What intrigued my Scandinavian Book Club the most was the reference to the indigenous Sami people in the book’s description. The book is about a young Swedish midwife who in 1916 moves from a university town to a remote rural area of Sweden close to the Norwegian border in anticipation of being with her secret fiancé. Things do not turn out the way she anticipated. I thought it was a very interesting look at life in this community of Swedes, Samis, and Norwegians (descriptive and complete). However, it was a tough read. There were three narratives that jumped around in time and place. It was hard to keep track of all the people and their families without taking notes. The book left me with some unanswered questions, but that’s understandable considering it’s the first in a trilogy. (My understanding is that the other books in the trilogy have not been translated yet.)

Reading Challenges:


The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom (Narrated by Orlagh Cassidy and Bahni Turpin)

Once again, Modern Mrs. Darcy’s recommendations of audiobooks that enhance your reading experience didn’t disappoint! The book opens in 1791 in Virginia and is about a young orphaned Irish girl who is raised as an indentured servant and lives with the slaves in the plantation’s kitchen house. I was drawn in the moment I started listening and became very invested in the characters, especially the female ones. There are two narratives, each read by a different voice. One voice is Lavinia, the orphaned girl, and the other is Belle, her mother figure, the half-white illegitimate daughter of the plantation owner. It’s not a light read. There’s a lot of brutality towards the slaves. But at the same time, there’s great love, caring, and warmth among the slaves and Lavinia. The book is heartbreaking and beautiful at the same time.

Reading Challenges:


Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo

I picked this book because I needed a change from all the historical fiction and heavy reads I had read recently, and what better way to do that than with a superhero fantasy book, a genre I never read (#ReadingWomenChallenge!). Also, Leigh Bardugo was a YA author I was curious about. I appreciated and enjoyed the strong and independent female character of Diana, the diverse cast of characters, the female empowerment and friendship, and Bardugo’s writing, but this specific genre just isn’t for me.

Reading Challenges:


Beartown by Fredrik Backman (Translated from Swedish by Neil Smith)

I’m a Fredrik Backman fan, but this book was not like his others I had read (My Grandmother Told Me to Tell You She’s Sorry and A Man Called Ove). It’s much more serious and philosophical. It’s about how a small, rural town deals with a sexual assault by its star hockey player. To begin with, I was very uncomfortable reading it. I was disgusted by the actions and attitude of so many people (the bullying, the locker room talk and behavior, racism, classism, and sexism) and I felt like a bystander as I just continued reading along. Finally, more characters started standing up for what was right and I began to enjoy the book more. The ending was very satisfying. It was a great book for our book club meeting. The sequel Us Against You comes out this June 5.

Reading Challenges:


Currently reading and next on my list…

     

I’m currently listening to Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan read by Heather Lind, Norbert Leo Butz, and Vincent Piazza. The audiobook was recommended by Los Angeles Times as an audiobook not to be missed. I’ve never liked the cover so it fulfills the category “a book with a cover you hate” for Book Riot’s Read Harder challenge.

While my Scandinavian Book Club is reading The Sound of Language by Amulya Malladi which I’ve already read, I’m reading The Copenhagen Affair by the same author. For my Scandinavian Reading Challenge it fulfills the category “a Scandinavian or Scandinavia-themed book whose cover piqued your interest,” but it could also fulfill the category “a book set somewhere in Scandinavia you would like to visit (or revisit).”

Next up to read will be Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman for my local book club. It coincidentally fulfills the category of “a book nominated for an award in 2018” for Modern Mrs. Darcy’s reading challenge.

What have you been reading lately?

 

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