October 13, 2006 |
Friday the 13th! What's in that day and number combination that rattles our self-confidence or, at the very least, makes us ponder the possibility that the commonplace might become horrific? Why has that date been viewed traditionally with such apprehension? Friday gets its name either from Frig (Frigga), Odin's consort and goddess of heaven, or from another Scandinavian deity, Frey(e), associated with fertility and love. But it isn't necessarily from its pagan associations that Friday derives its negative aspect in our culture.
July 14, 2006 |
In the wee hours of June 3, a lightning bolt hit Dane Decor's flagship Downingtown store and ignited a major blaze. Though firefighters were able to save the 19th-century former church building that was part of the showroom complex, the rest of the 35,000-square-foot location went up in smoke. Along with it, $1 million worth of furniture was destroyed. You might think Dane Decor's owners would be discouraged by this turn of events. Not the four Hamilton brothers, who run the home-furnishings business their mother started 33 years ago. "It was 2 or 3 in the morning when we realized it wasn't going to be saved," says Carl Hamilton, 55, who stayed on the scene with his siblings, contemplating the smoking rubble, until 6 a.m. "That's when I went home and started calling architects.
February 24, 2006 |
There was no trash-talking or finger-pointing between Sami Kapanen and Kim Johnsson as they passed each other in the hallway yesterday at the Flyers' practice facility. It was too soon for any of that. Besides, that's not the way for Scandinavians, known for their quiet reserve. But if Sweden and Finland win their semifinals today at the Olympics and are matched in Sunday's gold-medal game, either Kapanen, a Finn, or Johnsson, a Swede, is going to have bragging rights. "It's kind of a bittersweet rivalry," said Kapanen, the feisty little winger who declined to play for Team Finland so he could rehabilitate his surgically repaired shoulder.
September 26, 2005 |
Nobody expects film director Peter Jackson to mount a stage production of Lord of the Rings any time soon. Pop stars, however, are obligated to repeatedly re-create - in real time - music they spent months tweaking to perfection in the studio. Take Annie's full-length debut, Anniemal, a sugary album of bouncy, if thoughtful, dance-pop that has made the 26-year-old Norwegian singer a cult sensation. Its elaborate, multilayered Eurodisco productions seem hardly suited for live performance.
September 23, 2005 |
Mike Brenner, lap-steel player extraordinaire, is the not-so-secret weapon when he sits in with Marah, Magnolia Electric Company, or John Train. But when he puts on his white Col. Sanders suit, he steps into the spotlight as Slo-Mo, leader of Philly's best, and only, funky hip-hop steel-guitar band. On the new My Buzz Comes Back, the second Slo-Mo album, Brenner teams with local rapper Mic Wrecka (Doug Jenkins) for a set that balances hip-hop beats, swampy steel-guitar grooves, Brenner's sing-song vocals, Wrecka's raps, and Nancy Falkow's catchy "mega-choruses" (as Brenner calls them)
May 1, 2004 |
Too many years ago, at a delightful event in the south of Sweden, I met Ingvar Kamprad, recently named the richest person in the world. For shelterish reasons the wealthy instinctively understand, that assertion of rank may not be exactly correct. But he certainly sits at the Gates and Buffett table, because Ikea, which farm-boy Ingvar founded in 1943, is worth more than $50 billion, the largest furnishings store anywhere. At the time of our meeting, the first Ikea branch in the United States had opened in Plymouth Meeting, and its quirky catalogs were furnishing bathrooms all over the Philadelphia area.
September 25, 2003 |
"It's Brooklyn, 1938. We are all 13 years old ... and my mother said that I can have my friends over top make knishes. ... You can call my mother "Mrs. Grabel.' Feel free to participate and ask questions. " It isn't really pre-World War II New York, of course. A dozen of us are seated around my dining room table in West Mount Airy. But with those words, my wife, Susan, sets the scene. We and some friends are preparing to watch unfold the fears and hopes of a middle-aged immigrant caught between her dream of a better life in America and the grim realities of the Depression and the rise of Nazism.
June 27, 2003 |
The spike-heeled, postfeminist pajama-party sisterhood that is Charlie's Angels is back, and it's serious dress-up time. In Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, Natalie, Dylan and Alex (Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu, respectively) get to pose - and strike poses - as nuns, strippers, crime-scene technicians, motocross demons, ship- welders, surfer chicks and, if you hang around for the end credits, car-wash babes, getting down and sudsy for the sake of a dirty automobile.
April 25, 2003 |
For almost two decades, Philadelphia has been host to the International Children's Festival, one of the world's most respected performing-arts events for kids. This year's festival will start Wednesday and highlight groups from Scandinavian countries, including a circus from Finland, slapstick comedy from Denmark, and clowns from Norway (and Switzerland). Festival director Brian Joyce travels the world searching for shows to invite to Philly. He has great respect for his target audience: area children.
March 25, 2001 |
It's time to have a talk about these dirt-cheap fares that make it possible to fly somewhere far away, over a long weekend, at the last minute. They look really good. They don't always work. We've read and heard many travelers' tales about my-wonderful-weekend-anyplace-but-here. That's fine if everything goes according to the itinerary. But the weather works against us. So do crowded skies. And so does that great grab-bag of hassles the airlines deliver with an all-purpose phrase: Equipment problems.