Random weirdness for the week of Feb. 24, 2015


There’s been some grousing about how the new breed of thrifty-minded tourists are remarkably ignorant about polar bear precautions (or even that they exist here, in at least one case), but maybe that’s because of the absurdly misleading stuff that keeps appearing on movie and TV screens. The latest “really, really don’t try this at home” project is “My Friend Nanuk,” a straight-to-DVD film scheduled for release March 26. An article at movietele.it notes “the protagonist is Luke, a 14-year-old teenager who will try to bring a polar bear cub, renamed Nanuk, to its mother. The two establish an extraordinary relationship of affection and complicity: playing, helping and protect themselves.” We’re guessing official authority types would frown on taking a long journey across northern Canada relying on your cuddly companion to help face “snow storms, herds of polar bears and giant icebergs.” Then there’s Act II of the madness: the polar bear footage is from Svalbard. That’s not a big deal in itself, but WTF is it with movies constantly set in one place and filming bears in another? The recent big screen hit “Operasjon Arktis” reversed the pattern (set in Svalbard, filmed a trained animal in Canada). And how we not mention the scandal headlines in the U.K. tabloids when it was revealed a segment of the BBC series “Frozen Planet,” supposedly showing scenes of a mother giving birth to cubs in her Svalbard den was actually filmed at a Dutch zoo using fake snow?…


Two big brass ones: Nobody knew about the second until the subject himself gave it to a bar, figuring they’d cherish him more than official authority types who decided he ought to be in jail. Photo by Mark Sabbatini / Icepeople.

The rehabilitation of Robert Hermansen continues to progress nicely. A once-secret bust of the former Store Norske leader who spent 18 months in prison for corruption is now displayed prominently at the entrance of Karlsberger Pub (a much cooler fate than its twin, which is in storage at Svalbard Museum after being banished to an unloved corner of city hall). He’s hanging out at the table of blue-collar regulars at Fruene every morning. Now there’s word – actually a lot of highly complimentary ones – he’ll be one of the featured presenters at a business conference in Sunnyvale in June. “He has received much of the credit for having made Norwegian coal mining in Svalbard profitable and is described as a pure miracle man,” an article in Aura Avis notes. The newspaper notes he resigned from Store Norske “due considerable media attention surrounding a crime he committed,” but “today there is a crisis for coal mining in Svalbard and many of the workers are longing for the time when Robert Hermansen was the director.”