What I’ve Been Reading Lately: November 2017

It’s been an enjoyable and thought-provoking month of reading. Two of my reads were in anticipation of author talks. Connecting books with their authors is always interesting. As I’ve done in the past, 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.

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

My book club picked Practical Magic because Alice Hoffman was coming to town to speak about her newest novel The Rules of Magic, which is a prequel to Practical Magic. Witches and magic are not my ideal reading material, but it wasn’t blatantly in my face in this book which made it work for me. I was a little turned off by the writing style – barely any dialogue and a lot telling as if setting up something to come – but I enjoyed the sister relationships. Overall, it was a good read, and having the opportunity to hear Alice Hoffman speak about the book and her other works certainly added to my reading experience. I’ve definitely put the movie on my watch list and I’m interested in reading The Rules of Magic, especially with all the hype it’s gotten this fall.


Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

I enjoyed Celeste Ng’s debut novel Everything I Never Told You and was eager to read this as well. I liked this one even better than the first one. Just like her first book, this one begins with a shocking event and then goes back in time and works its way to the opening event to answer the unanswered questions surrounding it. And like her first book, there are complicated family dynamics and racial questions. This story involves characters with interesting back stories and relationships. There are decisions with serious consequences. And there are complicated mother-daughter relationships. This would make an excellent book to discuss with friends or in a book club.


Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

This was a book I had picked out months ago as a possible selection for the category “a book with an unreliable narrator or ambiguous ending” for Modern Mrs Darcy’s 2017 Reading Challenge Reading for Growth. Then when I learned that Ishiguro had won the Nobel Prize for Literature, I was even more intrigued to read a book of his. It helped that this book was listed as the book to begin with when starting to read Ishiguro. I think the best way to go into this book is not knowing what it’s about, other than it being about some kids at a boarding school in England. For me the enjoyment in this book was piecing together what was really going on in the story. It all seemed so normal, but yet it wasn’t.


Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

In January, I made a vow to read more books by diverse authors and about issues or experiences new or unfamiliar to meBetween the World and Me was one of the books I decided I would read. When I learned that Ta-Nehisi Coates was coming to speak in LA for his tour promoting his latest book We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy, I moved Between the World and Me to the top of my TBR list. This was a bold, eye-opening, and thought-provoking read about race in America and how it has shaped American history from a perspective so different from my own. I am so grateful for the opportunity to hear him speak, and having read Between the World and Me beforehand made the experience much more meaningful.


Currently reading and next on my list…

News of the World by Paulette Jiles is my local book club’s current read, and The Wednesday Club by Kjell Westö (Finnish novel written in Swedish and translated by Neil Smith) is my Scandinavian Book Group’s pick for November. After their November meetings, my book clubs won’t meet again until January, so my focus for the rest of the year will be seeing how close I can get to completing my Modern Mrs Darcy reading challenges for the year.

What have you been reading lately?

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Norwegian (and other Nordic) Films at AFI FEST 2017

Norwegian film has not been a stranger to Los Angeles these last few weeks, and its presence continues at American Film Institute’s film festival AFI FEST taking place now. AFI FEST is an annual celebration of international cinema “from modern masters and emerging filmmakers”. It takes place each fall in Hollywood and features nightly red-carpet galas, special screenings, conversations, and tributes. AFI FEST is free to the public.

This year two Norwegian films are on the schedule. The first one is Thelma written by Norwegian duo Joachim Trier and Eskil Vogt and directed by Joachim Trier. It is a psychological thriller that takes place in Oslo, Norway. It is Norway’s Best Foreign Language Oscar submission. The second film is What Will People Say written and directed by Norwegian Iram Haq (Norwegian-born of Pakistani immigrants).

I’m a great fan of the Scandinavian Film Festival LA which takes place every January in Beverly Hills. As I’ve written before, I always look forward to seeing what’s being offered and hope there’s a movie that will transport me back to Norway through language and setting or bring alive a part of Norwegian history for me. I also don’t mind being an armchair traveler to other countries in the region. AFI FEST provides another opportunity to catch films I wouldn’t otherwise be able to see. Personally, I’m very intrigued by Iram Haq’s What Will People Say. I’ve read a lot of immigrant stories that take place here in the United States, but immigrant stories by own voices in Norway are new to me. This film is inspired by the director’s own life.

Scandinavia, and the Nordic countries in general, are well represented at AFI FEST. Films from Denmark, Sweden, Iceland, and Finland are also on the schedule. Winter Brothers is Icelandic filmmaker Hlynur Pálmason’s drama that takes place in Denmark. Sweden has two shorts, The Burden and Ten Meter Tower. And Finland is represented by The Other Side of Hope written and directed by Aki Kaurismäki.

Film descriptions provided below are from AFI FEST’s website.

THELMA directed by Joachim Trier

Screening Details & Ticket Reservations: Sat, Nov 11, 9:15 p.m. & Mon, Nov 13, 1:00 p.m.

A gripping psychological thriller, THELMA follows a unique young woman with two overprotective, devoutly Christian parents. As Thelma begins her journey to leave home, her parents become alarmingly nervous. More than empty nest syndrome, they’re experiencing genuine fear for mysterious reasons. Deploying modern horror’s signature tropes while also twisting them anew, the latest work from Joachim Trier features a star performance from Eili Harboe, and is an entertaining, mind-bending allegory about agency, power, gender and sexuality. – Lane Kneedler

WHAT WILL PEOPLE SAY (Hva vil folk si) directed by Iram Haq

Screening Details & Ticket Reservations: Sat, Nov 11, 4:00 p.m. & Wed, Nov 15, 12:45 p.m.

Sixteen-year-old Nisha lives a double life — the perfect Pakistani daughter to her strict parents, and a normal Norwegian teenager with her friends at school. One night when her father catches her and her boyfriend in her bedroom, Nisha’s two worlds brutally collide. Iram Haq’s sophomore feature is a powerful story of a young woman growing up between two cultures, with no control over her life choices, who must carve out her own path despite a significant culture clash. Lead actress Maria Mozhdah makes an impressive debut, imbuing Nisha with dueling personas. In an equally impressive role, Adil Hussain plays Nisha’s father, delicately balancing his fatherly love with the pressure of a strict society that wants to make an example of his daughter. – Jenn Murphy

WINTER BROTHERS (Vinterbrødre) directed by Hlynur Pálmason

Screening Details & Ticket Reservations: Sun, Nov 12, 6:45 p.m. & Wed, Nov 15, 6:00 p.m.

Living in a remote, snowy area can have a profound effect on the psyche, and working as a miner in this landscape, loner Emil struggles to fit into his hyper-masculine environment. He appears strange and awkward next to his fit and popular brother Johan. When they’re not working, they’re making and selling moonshine, and watching instructional videos on how to fire antique rifles. But when the brothers find themselves competing for the love of the only woman in town, tensions bubble over. Hypnotic, strange and beautiful, WINTER BROTHERS lures the audience in with its depiction of a life dictated by routine, only to then erupt with some of the most striking images captured on film this year. – Lane Kneedler

THE OTHER SIDE OF HOPE (Toivon Tuolla Puolen) directed by Aki Kaurismäki

Screening Details & Ticket Reservations: Sun, Nov 12, 9:00 p.m. & Wed, Nov 15, 9:00 p.m.

A Syrian refugee stowed away on a freighter, Khaled arrives in Helsinki soot-faced and desperate to start a new life. Meanwhile, Wikstrom is a traveling salesman in the throes of a very deadpan midlife crisis, who wins big at a poker game and decides to purchase a restaurant as a means of starting over. These two interlacing narratives dance throughout THE OTHER SIDE OF HOPE in a way that only Aki Kaurismäki can choreograph: with buoyant hope and low-key hilarity. The Finnish auteur has remained remarkably consistent in his minimalist style over the years, and with THE OTHER SIDE OF HOPE — which is both classically Kaurismäki and piercingly relevant to global events — he reminds us yet again of his ability to endure. – Beth Hanna

Is there anything here or in the rest of the Film Guide that interests you?

Los Angeles Culture Challenge for November 2017: PST:LA/LA and Norwegian Christmas Fair

Los Angeles is one of the most diverse metropolitan areas in the United States. I challenge you to explore the richness of where we live. Here are some special events happening in the upcoming month. Mark your calendars, but please check suitability for family members and confirm dates and times before heading out.

Of special significance to me this month is the Norwegian Christmas Fair. It takes place, as it always does, the weekend before Thanksgiving. Interestingly, this is a common tradition all over the world at Norwegian Seamen’s Churches. Christmas decorations, music, candles, and the smell of freshly baked goods set the mood as you wander the booths filled with Scandinavian goods of all kinds. And of course, there’s the café serving traditional Norwegian foods. All are invited to attend. You do not need to be Norwegian or a member of the church.

The special months-long art initiative Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA is in full swing. It started in September and goes until the end of January. Many venues around Los Angeles and beyond are participating with a variety of exhibitions. As explained on its website, “Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA is a far-reaching and ambitious exploration of Latin American and Latino art in dialogue with Los Angeles.” You can sort exhibitions by theme, neighborhood, venue, and media which makes the whole process of deciding what to see where less overwhelming. I have made a personal challenge to see as many of the exhibitions at venues close to home as possible. High on my list are Cuba Is at Annenberg Space for Photography in Century City, Visualizing Language: Oaxaca in L.A. at Central Library in Downtown LA, and Surface Tension by Ken Gonzales-Day: Murals, Signs, and Mark‐Making in LA at Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles.

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

* WEEKEND OF NOVEMBER 4 & 5 *

20th Annual Arpa International Film Festival, Egyptian Theatre, Hollywood, Friday, 11/3 – Sunday, 11/5. The annual Arpa International Film Festival is a dynamic forum for international cinema. It aims to bridge cultural divides by fostering dialogue among people of diverse backgrounds. It showcases local and international films that explore critical issues such as war, genocide, diaspora, dual identities, exile, and multiculturalism. 34 films from 16 countries will be screened. Visit website to see schedule.

Transpacific Borderlands Exhibition Tour, Japanese American National Museum, Little Tokyo, Downtown LA, Saturday, 11/4, 4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Join exhibition curator and JANM Vice President of Operations/Art Director Clement Hanami for an in-depth gallery tour of the exhibition Transpacific Borderlands: The Art of Japanese Diaspora in Lima, Los Angeles, Mexico City, and São Paulo which examines the experiences of artists of Japanese ancestry born, raised, or living in either Latin America or predominantly Latin American neighborhoods of Southern California. The exhibition is part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA initiative.

Germany: Grimm Fairy Tale Puppets (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 11/5, 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.

Mexican Day of the Dead Festival, Bowers Museum, Santa Ana, Sunday, 11/5, 11:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Celebrate Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) at the Bowers Museum. Honor departed ones with music, dance, and art.

Family Jam: Salvador and Samba with Viver Brasil, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Westwood, Sunday, 11/5, 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Celebrate Brazil’s cultural and artistic heritage with a jolt of joyful color, thrilling rhythms, and communal celebration. Find inspiration in the Axé Bahia: The Power of Art in an Afro-Brazilian Metropolis exhibition, create your own musical instruments, and learn to Samba alongside performers from LA-based dance company Viver Brasil.

Los Angeles Brazilian Film Festival, Hollywood & Westwood, Sunday, 11/5 – Wednesday, 11/8. The Los Angeles Brazilian Film Festival is recognized as the most prestigious Brazilian film festival outside Brazil. It showcases the best in new Brazilian cinema. Opening Night Gala is in Hollywood, but festival screenings will take place in Westwood. See website for details and schedule.

* WEEKEND OF NOVEMBER 11 & 12 *

Red Nation Film Festival, Laemmle Monica Film Center, Santa Monica (plus other venues), Wednesday, 11/8 – Sunday, 11/19. Red Nation Film Festival is a showcase for new work by American Indian and Indigenous international independent filmmakers, It brings together decision makers and content creators with the goal of ensuring media representation of American Indian and Indigenous content to the world at large.

AFI Fest, Various Venues, Hollywood, Thursday, 11/9 – Thursday, 11/16. This is American Film Institute’s annual celebration of international cinema from modern masters and emerging filmmakers. It features nightly red-carpet galas, special screenings, conversations, and tributes.

American Indian Arts Marketplace, The Autry Museum in Griffith Park, Los Angeles, Saturday, 11/11, & Sunday, 11/12, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. The largest Native American arts fair in Southern California, the Autry’s American Indian Arts Marketplace features 200 Native American artists representing more than 40 tribes. Top Native artists from across the country offer sculpture, pottery, beadwork, basketry, photography, paintings, jewelry, textiles, wooden carvings, mixed-media works, and more. Plus, enjoy a full weekend of food, filmperformancespoetry, informative demonstrations, family activities, and the annual Short Play Festival from Native Voices, the Autry’s award-winning resident theatre company.

JANM Free Family Days: We Love LA, Japanese American National Museum, Little Tokyo, Downtown LA, 11/11, 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. In conjunction with Transpacific Borderlands: The Art of Japanese Diaspora in Lima, Los Angeles, Mexico City, and São Paulo, JANM presents a family-friendly day celebrating the diverse mix of cultures that make up Los Angeles. For more information on activities and schedule, please visit their website.

Kenya: Maasai Animal Masks (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 11/12, 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 NOVEMBER 18 & 19 *

Forced From Home, Parking Lot of Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, Monday, 11/13, – Sunday, 11/19. Doctors Without Borders presents Forced From Home, a free interactive tour that takes you behind the headlines about the global refugee crisis. Guided by experienced Doctors Without Borders aid workers, you’ll travel through a 10,000-square-foot space designed to convey the challenges facing a person forced to flee. You’ll also learn about the humanitarian aid Doctors Without Borders provides along the way. Visitors experience virtual reality and 360˚ video and interact with materials gathered from refugee camps, sea rescue missions, and emergency medical projects around the world. Forced From Home tours are free, fully accessible, and take roughly one hour to complete. Families are welcome, however the content is best suited to children ages 12+.

Norwegian Christmas Fair/Julebasar, Sjømannskirken/Norwegian Seamen’s Church, San Pedro, Friday, 11/17 – Sunday, 11/19. The third weekend in November is the annual Norwegian Christmas Fair at the Norwegian Seamen’s Church. Christmas decorations, music, candles, and the smell of freshly baked goods set the mood as you wander the booths filled with Scandinavian goods of all kinds. There are raffle drawings with wonderful prizes, traditional foods served in the church’s cafe, baked goods for sale in the church’s bakery, and Norwegian Christmas food available in the church’s store. There will also be a children’s Christmas Workshop from 12:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Saturday. All are welcome!

The Great Los Angeles Walk, Beverly Boulevard starting in Little Tokyo, Saturday, 11/18, 9:00 a.m. Get to know our city by walking across it. Every year, on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, hundreds of walkers start the free urban hike on one side of the city and, 9 hours and 17 miles later, end up at the other. It is a low-key event, and you can hop on or off the walk whenever you’d like.

Little Tokyo Walking Tour, Japanese American National Museum, Downtown LA, Saturday, 11/18, 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. Museum admission is included. To purchase tickets, please visit website.

27th Annual Mariachi Festival and Community Fair, Mariachi Plaza, Boyle Heights, Sunday, 11/19, 9:30 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. The 27th Annual Mariachi Festival will be held at the 40-year-old landmark, Mariachi Plaza, in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles. Local mariachi groups will perform during the day-long program. There will also be arts activities, photo opportunities, art exhibitions, food, and information booths.

USA: Navajo Rug Designs (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 11/19, 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 NOVEMBER 25 & 26 *

Little Tokyo Walking Tour, Japanese American National Museum, Downtown LA, Saturday, 11/25, 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. To purchase tickets, please visit website.

Morocco: Mirror Reflections on Gratitude (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 11/26, 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.

* ONGOING EXHIBITIONS *

Visualizing Language: Oaxaca in L.A., Central Library, Downtown LA. 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. It is presented by The Library Foundation of LA and the LA Public Library as part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, a collaborative effort by arts institutions across Southern California to explore Latin American and Latino art in Los Angeles. It is on display until January 31, 2018.

Surface Tension by Ken Gonzales-Day: Murals, Signs, and Mark‐Making in LA, Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles. See a new body of photographic work by interdisciplinary artist Ken Gonzales-Day examining the mural landscape of LA—from East LA to Venice Beach, from Pacoima to South LA. Featuring over 140 photographs, Surface Tension by Ken Gonzales-Day: Murals, Signs, and Mark‐Making in LA considers what the city’s walls reveal about its diverse communities. It is part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, a collaborative effort by arts institutions across Southern California to explore Latin American and Latino art in Los Angeles. It is on display until February 25, 2018.

Cuba Is, Annenberg Space for Photography, Century City. Revealing complexities both on and off the island, Cuba Is explores aspects of Cuba not easily accessed by foreigners, and sometimes not even by Cubans themselves. Born from indigenous, African and European roots, divergent politics and limitations in communication and commerce, the Cuba seen in this exhibition goes beyond the folklore and offers new insight into its current reality. Over 120 photos feature subjects ranging from defiant youth known as “Frikis” to the hard-partying children of the 1%, the underground system of sharing digital content—“El paquete”—to Miami’s Chonga girls. It is part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, a collaborative effort by arts institutions across Southern California to explore Latin American and Latino art in Los Angeles. It is on display until March 4, 2018.

Feel free to add events for the current 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 the details. Thank you!

CicLAvia: Heart of LA (2017)

CicLAvia returned to Downtown LA for its October edition. At first I was a little unenthused about returning to Downtown LA, but then I learned that this year’s Heart of LA route had a new hub, Echo Park, which I was excited to explore.

It turned out to be a solo event for me, but I was totally okay with that. Going alone allows me to do whatever I please, whenever I please, without complaints, which is a situation I rarely encounter. And, there are actually a lot of other solo riders at these events. It’s a great opportunity to connect with new people. You feel like you’re part of a greater community. Everyone is there for the same reason – to take advantage of the open streets and explore the city from a different vantage point.

Being able to take Metro Rail’s Expo Line to Downtown LA made this an easy event for me to attend. What was tricky this time was that a football game was happening at the Coliseum that afternoon as well, and the train car got really packed with passengers. Having a bike onboard was awkward and difficult. But once all the football fans got off at USC, the cyclists could relax for the rest of the ride.

At the end of the line, I surfaced from the Metro station and made my way to Broadway Hub where I joined the route. This area has the feel of a typical downtown city with buildings side-by-side along the street, but riding gives you a chance to look more closely at the buildings. There are some interesting architectural details and public art along the way.

Once I got to the main intersection of the route and headed out towards Echo Park Hub, that downtown feel quickly subsided. About 1 1/2 miles later I was at Echo Park Lake. I was so surprised and fascinated by this area. It is such a big and serene green space so close to Downtown LA.

I parked my bike and began to walk along a path that circles the lake. It was very peaceful despite all the CicLAvia participants and the regular folks who were there just enjoying the park. At first glance, I saw the fountain in the middle of the lake and the paddle boats and boat house at the edge of the lake. But exploring more closely, I noticed water lily beds throughout the lake, lotus plants at one end of the lake, and a lush wetlands habitat full of wildlife. Looking even more closely, I saw fish, turtles, and a variety of birds.

There was even a cute looking cafe in the boat house, Beacon. It boasts “a chef-driven menu with good-for-you ingredients.” I’ve put it on my list of outdoor restaurants to bring my parents to the next time they’re in town. And I’ll also have to come back at the right time to catch the lotus flowers in bloom. Apparently, this year’s bloom in June was pretty spectacular.

After exploring the park and enjoying lunch from Cousins Maine Lobster food truck, it was time to move on. Next up was Chinatown, but not until I had ridden through 2nd Street Tunnel again. This turned out to be a fun “attraction” for all ages. Adults let their inner child loose while riding through, and there was lots of howling, hollering, and whistling.

I have been to Chinatown before but not by bike, so this stretch I did more to just have done than anything. It was a relatively quick visit.

Finally, I made my way out to Mariachi Plaza in Boyle Heights on the east side of the Los Angeles River. This was a new destination for me as well. To get there, we rode through the Arts District with its many wall murals and over the 4th Street Bridge.

After checking out Mariachi Plaza, enjoying some live music, and supporting the local farmer’s market, it was time to make my way back to Broadway Hub and the Metro station to head back home.

It was a full day of pedaling with lots of new sights and sounds along the way – 16 miles and 6 hours total – but one I’ll be eager to repeat next time around. I do believe this is becoming my favorite CicLAvia route. There is so much variety in where to go and what to see, and the riders are spread out on the three spokes so there’s a little more breathing room when riding. There will be no hesitation about returning to Downtown LA next time CicLAvia happens there.

What I’ve Been Reading Lately: October 2017

It’s been two months since I last shared what I’ve been reading. In addition to the books for my Scandinavian Book Group and local book club, I read books that hadn’t even been on my radar before, which is always kind of fun. School and fall activities have begun in earnest, so it wasn’t as productive a reading time as last time, but it was still very fulfilling. Continue reading

Los Angeles Culture Challenge for October 2017: Norwegian Movies, CicLAvia, & Scandinavian AutumnFest

Los Angeles is one of the most diverse metropolitan areas in the United States. Here are some special events happening in LA this month. Mark your calendars, but please check suitability for family members and confirm dates and times before heading out.

For Scandinavian enthusiasts, there are a few events this month!

Opening October 6 at Laemmle’s Royal Theatre in West Los Angeles and Town Center 5 in Encino is the Norwegian movie The King’s Choice directed by Erik Poppe. The movie is based on the true story about three dramatic days in April 1940 when the King of Norway was presented with an “unimaginable ultimatum” from the German armed forces: surrender or die. It is only playing for one week until October 12. See it while you can! I recommend it. I even took my kids to see it when it was screened at the Scandinavian Film Festival earlier this year so they could learn about the country of their heritage. Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times wrote a strong review of the movie: ‘The King’s Choice’ takes a gripping look at Norway’s little known conflict during WWII.

On Sunday, October 8, the Scadinavian American Cultural and Historical Foundation will honor Leif Erikson, the first European to discover America, and John Ericsson, the designer of the revolutionary ironclad ship USS Monitor (1862), at their Leif Erikson Day Celebration at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks.

On Thursday, October 12, Norwegian film Vidar the Vampire will be screened at ScreamFest LA in Hollywood. The director will attend and do a Q&A following the film. For details on the screening, click here.

And finally, later in the month, on Sunday, October 22, Vasa Park Association will host their annual Scandinavian AutumnFest & Höstmarknad Celebration in Agoura which includes a Swedish meatball contest. More details are available in the description below.

One of my favorite LA events returns this month – CicLAvia. It has become a yearly tradition that they plan an event in Downtown LA in October, where it all started seven years ago. Echo Park is new to the route this year, which I’d love to check out. The big question is, who in my family will join me this year?

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

In Translation: Maja Lunde’s The History of Bees (Bienes historie)

Knowing my love of reading and joy in discovering new Norwegian works, my parents gifted me Maja Lunde’s The History of Bees in Norwegian over a year ago. I wish I hadn’t waited so long to read it. It is such an interestingly structured and thought-provoking book about humans’ relationship to bees as well as relationships and expectations between family members. I really enjoyed it and highly recommend it, and luckily, now non-Norwegian readers in the US can enjoy it as well since it very recently came out in translation here.

I’m always curious about how works in original language compare to their translated versions. Usually, I just read my Norwegian books in Norwegian, but this time I actually had the opportunity to read it in English as well. (The US publisher Touchstone kindly provided me with a digital advanced readers copy.) I was impressed by Diane Oatley’s translation. It was a very smooth reading experience in English. Nothing jumped out at me as being different from the Norwegian edition. In particular, I was impressed with how well she treated the different language usage by each of the main characters. Continue reading

September 2017: Los Angeles Culture Challenge & Vista Viking Festival & Solvang Danish Days

If you weren’t able to travel as far and wide as you would have liked to this summer, then September is your chance to make up for it. Throughout the month, there are special festivals, exhibits, walking tours, and workshops that offer you the chance to explore cultures from all over the world right here in Los Angeles as well as visit new-to-you areas to broaden your horizons. And this Labor Day Weekend in particular there is an exceptional number of events to consider.

And for Scandinavian enthusiasts, there are two special Scandinavian festivals going on this month. Unfortunately, neither are in the local Los Angeles area, but both could make for interesting excursions out of town. During the weekend of September 15 to 17, Solvang in Santa Barbara County celebrates its Danish heritage with the 81st annual Solvang Danish Days festival. The following weekend, September 23 and 24, you can experience all things Viking and Scandinavian at the Vista Viking Festival in San Diego County.

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

* LABOR DAY WEEKEND, SEPTEMBER 2 & 3 & 4 *

Orange International Street Fair, Orange, Orange County, Friday, 9/1, – Sunday, 9/3. Every Labor Day Weekend since 1973, the Orange International Street Fair in downtown Orange has been the place where friends, families, and neighbors get together to experience a wide variety of food, music, and dance from cultures and ethnicities throughout the world. Besides the streets lined with international food booths, there are also arts and crafts booths and a children’s street geared towards the younger crowd.

E Hula Man, Long Beach Performing Arts Center, Long Beach, Friday, 9/1, – Sunday, 9/3. Come experience Southern California’s 23rd annual hula and chant competition. This three-day event blends honored traditions with innovative ideas, creating a wonderful Hawaiian experience and feeling of ’ohana (family) for event participants and patrons alike. Hawaiian cultural workshops taught by creative artisans and cultural specialists are also offered. Visit website for more information and to purchase tickets.

Long Beach Greek Festival by the Sea, Assumption of Blessed Virgin, Long Beach, Saturday, 9/2, – Monday, 9/4. Eat, dance, and drink all things Greek during this three-day event. Enjoy delicious Greek food (rotisserie chicken, gyros, Greek salads, roasted lamb, homemade Greek sweets, and more!), Greek beer and wine, live Greek music and dancing (lessons, too!), cooking demonstrations, specialty vendors, and carnival rides.

27th Annual Exhibition of Korean American Calligraphy Association U.S.A, Korean Cultural Center Art Gallery, Los Angeles, ongoing until September 15. The Korean Cultural Center LA hosts an exhibition with the Korean American Calligraphy Association U.S.A in which over 42 local artists show various calligraphy characters and Korean traditional paintings.

Undiscovered Chinatown Walking Tour, Downtown LA, Saturday, 9/2, 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. Cost is $20. Please click here to RSVP.

Roman Holidays, The Getty Villa, Malibu, Saturday, 9/2, & Sunday, 9/3, 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Discover the sights (and smells!) of ancient Rome, offer your prayers to Venus, read your future in a sheep’s liver, and enjoy live musical and comedy performances by the historically hysterical Troubadour Theater Company. Free but Advance Villa entry ticket is required.

Undiscovered Chinatown Highlighted Walking Tour, Downtown LA, Saturday, 9/2, 3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Held in conjunction with the Chinatown Summer Nights event starting at 5 p.m., this is a 1 1/2 hour walking tour. See listing above for description of tour. Cost is $15. Please click here to RSVP.

Chinatown Summer Nights, Central Plaza, Chinatown, Downtown LA, Saturday, 9/2, 5:00 p.m. This is the last of three Summer Nights this summer. 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!

Mexico: Huichol Beaded Clay Masks (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 9/3, 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.

International Mask Festival, Bowers Museum, Santa Ana, Sunday, 9/3, 11:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Enjoy a day of cultural and educational engagement with family-fun activities including papier-mâché mask-making, face painting, and music. Paso de Oro Dance Troupe, Taiko Center of Los Angeles, and Dafra Drum will present Mask Dances from Mexico, Japan, and Africa.

Palm Trees and Dreams: Carlos Almaraz (Andell Family Sundays), LACMA, Miracle Mile, Sunday, 9/3, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. (Offered every Sunday in September). Make, look, and talk about art at Andell Family Sundays. This weekly family event features artist-led workshops and friendly gallery tours and activities thematically based on special exhibitions and LACMA’s permanent collection. Drop in anytime between 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. This month, discover how Chicano artist Carlos Almaraz painted Los Angeles through color and movement. Get to know him and his art in the exhibition Playing with Fire: Paintings by Carlos Almaraz. Be inspired and include iconic L.A. imagery like palm trees and SoCal freeways in your art.

Broad Fest, The Broad Stage, Santa Monica, Sunday, 9/3, 2:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Broad Fest returns for an afternoon of music, food and interactive entertainment. DJ duo Sadubas sets the festive tone with an eclectic mix of world sounds between live performances of Blues music, pop symphony of song, Bolera music, and reggae. In the Edye Second Space, enjoy a Heal the Bay educational talk, cool rhythms from SMC Jazz Ensemble and dances from around the world with SMC’s Global Motion. Join in tango lessons, hula hooping, and art-making experiences for all ages. Delicious food and drink from local favorites will be available for purchase. Admission is free. Click here for more information and to RSVP.

* WEEKEND OF SEPTEMBER 9 & 10 *

Cuba Is, Annenberg Space for Photography, Century City, opens Saturday, 9/9, and is on display until 3/4/18. Revealing complexities both on and off the island, Cuba Is explores aspects of Cuba not easily accessed by foreigners, and sometimes not even by Cubans themselves. Born from indigenous, African and European roots, divergent politics and limitations in communication and commerce, the Cuba seen in this exhibition goes beyond the folklore and offers new insight into its current reality. Over 120 photos feature subjects ranging from defiant youth known as “Frikis” to the hard-partying children of the 1%, the underground system of sharing digital content—“El paquete”—to Miami’s Chonga girls. The exhibit is part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, a collaborative effort by arts institutions across Southern California to explore Latin American and Latino art in Los Angeles.

Peru: Inca Sun Disc (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 9/10, 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. This Sunday, create Inca sun discs with metal foil.

Palm Trees and Dreams: Carlos Almaraz (Andell Family Sundays), LACMA, Miracle Mile, Sunday, 9/10, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. (Offered every Sunday in September). Make, look, and talk about art at Andell Family Sundays. This weekly family event features artist-led workshops and friendly gallery tours and activities thematically based on special exhibitions and LACMA’s permanent collection. Drop in anytime between 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. This month, discover how Chicano artist Carlos Almaraz painted Los Angeles through color and movement. Get to know him and his art in the exhibition Playing with Fire: Paintings by Carlos Almaraz. Be inspired and include iconic L.A. imagery like palm trees and SoCal freeways in your art.

27th Annual Exhibition of Korean American Calligraphy Association U.S.A, Korean Cultural Center Art Gallery, Los Angeles, ongoing until September 15. The Korean Cultural Center LA hosts an exhibition with the Korean American Calligraphy Association U.S.A in which over 42 local artists show various calligraphy characters and Korean traditional paintings.

* WEEKEND OF SEPTEMBER 16 & 17 *

Solvang Danish Days, Solvang (Santa Barbara County), Friday, 9/15, – Sunday, 9/17. Solvang has been celebrating its Danish heritage at this annual festival since 1936. Events and activities take place all over town and include live music, comedy shows, Hans Christian Andersen storytellings, a parade each day, a Viking encampment with historical reenactments bringing Viking times to life, and a Living History Festival with artisans, craftspeople, storytellers, and interactive activities for all ages. There’s even a special kids area with snacks, beverages, games, and fun (including LEGOS!). Don’t miss the æbleskiver breakfasts and eating contests as well as the Old World Artisans Marketplace with demonstrations and artisanal hand-crafted items including Scandinavian arts & crafts, woodworking, papercutting, rosemaling, fabric art, jewelry, and pottery.

Visualizing Language: Oaxaca in L.A., Central Library, Downtown LA, opens Saturday, 9/16, and is on display until 1/31/18. 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. It is presented by The Library Foundation of LA and the LA Public Library as part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, a collaborative effort by arts institutions across Southern California to explore Latin American and Latino art in Los Angeles.

Mexican Independence Day, El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument, Downtown LA, Saturday, 9/16, & Sunday, 9/17. Celebrate Mexican independence from Spain with popular and traditional entertainment, cultural activities, historic displays, food, artisan exhibits, and more.

 

Aztec: Sun Stone: Tonatiuh Sun God (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 9/17, 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.

Palm Trees and Dreams: Carlos Almaraz (Andell Family Sundays), LACMA, Miracle Mile, Sunday, 9/17, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. (Offered every Sunday in September). Make, look, and talk about art at Andell Family Sundays. This weekly family event features artist-led workshops and friendly gallery tours and activities thematically based on special exhibitions and LACMA’s permanent collection. Drop in anytime between 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. This month, discover how Chicano artist Carlos Almaraz painted Los Angeles through color and movement. Get to know him and his art in the exhibition Playing with Fire: Paintings by Carlos Almaraz. Be inspired and include iconic L.A. imagery like palm trees and SoCal freeways in your art.

* WEEKEND OF SEPTEMBER 23 & 24 *

Pasadena Greek Fest, Saint Anthony Greek Orthodox Church, Pasadena, Friday, 9/22 (evening) – Sunday, 9/24. Enjoy performances of Greek dancing and music; talks on cuisine, history, and travel; and tastes of Greek foods such as gyros, souvlaki, moussaka, and baklava. A special Kid’s Zone entertains kids with bouncy inflatables, games and a climbing wall.

 

Vista Viking Festival, Vista (North San Diego County), Saturday, 9/23, & Sunday, 9/24. Make your way to Vista to see, share, and sample all things Viking and Scandinavian. Learn about Viking life in the living history encampments of the Viking Village and watch exciting Viking battles on the field. At the Weapons Range, expert instructors will train you in the skills of axe throwing, spear throwing, and archery. At Heritage Hall, learn about Scandinavian history, genealogy, and culture, and watch cooking and craft demonstrations. In addition to these events and activities, enjoy a variety of live entertainment all day long on two stages. You can also be part of the show and make Viking Festival history by participating in one of their signature competitions — Fish Fling, Log Toss, Horn Blowing, and Battle Cry. There are also arts and crafts and games for children, delicious Nordic food throughout the grounds, and beer gardens.

Baja Splash Cultural Festival, Aquarium of the Pacific, Long Beach, Saturday, 9/23, & Sunday, 9/24. In celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month and Mexican Independence Day, the Aquarium of the Pacific will host its sixteenth annual Baja Splash Cultural Festival featuring live entertainment, crafts, educational programs, ethnic cuisine, and much more. Mariachi music, Mexican folkloric and Aztec dance troupes, interactive mural painting, Salvadoran dance, Guatemalan performances, and other special programs are featured.

Chile: Arpilleras Art and Protest (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 9/24, 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.

Palm Trees and Dreams: Carlos Almaraz (Andell Family Sundays), LACMA, Miracle Mile, Sunday, 9/24, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Make, look, and talk about art at Andell Family Sundays. 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 Sunday, discover how Chicano artist Carlos Almaraz painted Los Angeles through color and movement. Get to know him and his art in the exhibition Playing with Fire: Paintings by Carlos Almaraz. Be inspired and include iconic L.A. imagery like palm trees and SoCal freeways in your art. Drop in anytime between 12:30 and 3:30 p.m.

Kids in the Courtyard: Axé Bahia, Fowler Museum Courtyard, UCLA, Westwood, Sunday, 9/24, 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Celebrate the opening of the new exhibition Axé Bahia: The Power of Art in an Afro-Brazilian Metropolis by creating a collaged landscape honoring Los Angeles’ sister city, Salvador de Bahia. Combine your own drawing with images from magazines, books, and more to illustrate a hybrid skyline of LA and Salvador!

* WEEKEND OF SEPTEMBER 30 & OCTOBER 1 *

Little Tokyo Walking Tour, Japanese American National Museum, Downtown LA, Saturday, 9/30, 10:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. (Offered every last Saturday of the month). 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.

36th Annual Watts Tower Day of the Drum Festival & 41st Annual Simon Rodia Watts Tower Jazz Festival, The Watts Towers Arts Center Campus, Los Angeles, Saturday, 9/30, & Sunday, 10/1. Start the day with a Yoruba ground blessing uniting all cultures based on common themes and principles. Then continue the celebration with drum, dance, and rhythm. Guided tours of “Nuestro Pueblo”, the Watts Towers of Simon Rodia, and supervised children’s activities will also be offered, along with food, arts, and craft vendors. Festivities and activities continue the following day with the 41st Annual Simon Rodia Watts Tower Jazz Festival.

China: Autumn Festival Lantern and Sweet Treats (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 10/1, 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.

Design/Diseño (Andell Family Sundays), LACMA, Miracle Mile, Sunday, 10/1, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. (Offered every Sunday in October). Make, look, and talk about art at Andell Family Sundays. This weekly family event features artist-led workshops and friendly gallery tours and activities thematically based on special exhibitions and LACMA’s permanent collection. During the month of October, explore how designers in California and Mexico shared ideas to create fabuloso design in the special exhibition Found in Translation: Design in California and Mexico, 1915–1985. Orale! Be inspired to make your own diseños. Drop in anytime between 12:30 and 3:30 p.m.

Feel free to add events for the summer months 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 the details. Thank you!

What I’ve Been Reading Lately: August 2017

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. It’s been two months since I last shared what I’ve been reading, and it’s been vacation time with plane rides and down time, so I’ve had a chance to read quite a few titles. Luckily, all of them were worth finishing this time.

Did you know that August is Women in Translation Month? I just learned that this month. I seized the opportunity to add some female authors in translation to my reading list. Continue reading

Norwegian Women in Translation for WITmonth

I’m always so surprised when I hear about something which I feel I should have known about before but didn’t. That happened recently with Women in Translation Month (WITmonth), an annual month-long reading event dedicated to promoting women writers from around the world who write in languages other than English. It takes place every August. This is right in my wheelhouse – reading, books in translation, women – how could I miss it?

WITmonth has given me incentive to dig a little deeper to find Norwegian female authors whom I may not have been aware of it. A great source of information was lists of winners of various Norwegian and Scandinavian literary awards (see end of post for list of awards). My list of Norwegian female authors is by no means an exhaustive list. In my digging, I found that many Norwegian female authors’ works in translation are not available in English (but readily available in many other languages!) or no longer in print in English.

Usually, I read my Norwegian books in Norwegian, but occasionally I make an exception. For example, sometimes the cost of getting a book in Norwegian instead of English is not warranted. Other times, if the book is written in nynorsk (New Norwegian) instead of Bokmål (Book Language), I will read it in English instead since I’m not as comfortable with nynorsk. Now, I have another reason, to support Norwegian female authors in translation and their translators.

Many of these authors I’ve already heard about, some I’ve already read, others were already on my TBR list, many were new to me. I’d love to hear your thoughts on these authors. Continue reading