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Dining, SFoodie Cold Weather Drinking: Sipping on Aquavit at Plaj

Cold Weather Drinking: Sipping on Aquavit at Plaj

When Pläj opened inside the Inn at the Opera in 2012, it brought with it authentic Scandinavian flavors wrapped within a modern Californian shell. The restaurant's name itself means play; accordingly chef/owner Robert Sundell has incorporated a pronounced playfulness…
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Culture, Kill Your Television Hot Months: An Apocalyptic Summer on the Small Screen

Hot Months: An Apocalyptic Summer on the Small Screen

Now that Game of Thrones is over and Mad Men is nearing its end, the television landscape is about to be shaken clean like an Etch-A-Sketch. If you, like me, sat there frozen in dread with the idea that you…
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Music, Hear This First Aid Kit: Show Preview

First Aid Kit: Show Preview

If First Aid Kit's music is proof, Stockholm must be much closer to the American South than any maps have had us believe. In "Emmylou," off January's The Lion's Roar, Swedish sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg pay perfect homage to…
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Calendar, Night&Day Stitch of Software

Stitch of Software

Embroidery consists stitching in small segments, obsessively building piece by piece into a work that blossoms into a cohesive, even elegant, hunk of software. Flip a piece over and you see the guts, the mysterious frayed bits, perhaps a little…
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Music, Dungen finds new inspiration in an old piano

Dungen finds new inspiration in an old piano

Two years ago, Gustav Estjes was ready to quit rock music. The 28-year-old multi-instrumentalist mastermind behind Swedish psych-folk rockers Dungen had just put the finishing touches on Tio Bitar, the group's fourth release since forming in Stockholm in 1999, and…
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Film, Reps Etc.

Repertory Film Listings

After ten years, this will be my last "Reps Etc." column. Send information about future screenings to Thanks to everyone who has helped with the column over the past decade – especially Deborah Lewis, who copy-edited it for its…
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Music, Sweden's Favorite Hammjammers

Sweden's Favorite Hammjammers

Last summer, San Francisco reggae-slanted indie-pop act Still Flyin' arranged a Scandinavian tour, despite having never released an album, and with less than two weeks of previous road experience. When asked how his band pulled off this neat trick, singer…
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Music, All for Love and Love for All

All for Love and Love for All

Ola Salo, flamboyant lead singer for Swedish glam quintet the Ark, does not practice false modesty. Warm and friendly? Yes. But oozing that just-one-of-the-guys phoniness some stars adopt? Far from it. Speaking via phone before hitting San Francisco with a…
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Music, Reviewed The Hellacopters

The Hellacopters

Jeez-o-pete if Sweden's favorite sons-a-bitches the Hellacopters don't fly outta the gate with a swell Chuck Berry-cum-MC5 rezip ("Before the Fall") — distorted, fast, a little Sha-Na-Na, but a definitive wee-hoo! Surely they're back to the nitro-burning of their mid-'90s…
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Music, Reviewed Shout Out Louds

Shout Out Louds

For some reason the Northern Europeans -- the Scandinavians, the British Islanders -- seem more adept at the concept of euphoric misery than us. Following in the footsteps of such enthusiastic mopes as the Smiths and the Cure, Sweden's Shout…
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Music, OK Computer?

OK Computer?

Scheduling an interview with hip-as-shit rockers on the rise is always an arduous, energy-sucking affair. How is a struggling San Fran freelance hack supposed to hone his chops and become the next Danny Sugarman or, hell, the next Gary James…
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Music, Reviewed The Legends

The Legends

Jesus Christo, what's up with Sweden? Every single band that comes out of Volvoland -- from the Hives to the Concretes to Ace of Base -- makes pop so fine you'd think it'd come from a magic caterpillar. The latest…
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Music, OK Then

Marathon Man

I'm sitting in JFK airport, hungover from four days of nonstop gallivanting, unshaven, smelly, trying to piece it all back together amid the buzz and bustle of travelers and the stink of overheated food. Blame the CMJ Music Marathon, a…
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Music, Reviewed Sahara Hotnights

Sahara Hotnights

Karen says Kimmy hates her earrings. But did you hear? New from far-away Sweden: Hotsounds!!! It's like a really super dance party -- just for girls! As much ultrafun as three-way calling, and so unstoppable. Only megahunk John Stamos is…
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Music, Hear This Hear This

Hear This

Mainstream American metal may have transformed into a pathetic parade of tattooed guys whining about how their daddies didn't love them, but at least die-hard headbangers can look to Sweden for hope. From Meshuggah's experimental, slide-rule riffs to In Flames'…
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Calendar, Night&Day International Flavor

International Flavor

As Ezra Pound said about political speech, "Let the candidate fill his mind with the finest cadences he can discover, preferably in a foreign language, so that the meaning of the words may be less likely to divert his attention…
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Dining, Eat

The Swedish Chef

For all its exalted status as the only Swedish restaurant in San Francisco, Abbsolutly is pretty low-key. Until you look at the menu, it passes completely for just another bar -- albeit a fairly handsome one -- on the bleak…
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Swede Victory

In the early 1850s, a German music critic asked Franz Berwald if he was still a composer. His surly reply was, "No, I am a glass blower." Such was the sorry fate of Berwald's career. Underappreciated and ahead of…
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Calendar, Halloween

REAL ASTROLOGY For an Unreal World

Aries (March 21-April 19): After poring through the encyclopedias of mythology and decoding the mystic clues in fairy tales and ferreting out divine oracles while channel-surfing after midnight, I have found out why we are all here. Yes, it's been…
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