Random weirdness for the week of Oct. 27, 2015


It’s good to be bad, at least according to the early raves for our newly arrived troublemakers Sval and Bard. The duo, who first appeared last week and are planning on spending the next month violating every common sense rule in the book (and surviving the consequences with a resilience that makes Wile E. Coyote seem fragile), got mauled by reindeer and mummified in bird droppings this week but – setting aside the very real danger of such things happening in real life – it’s apparently up to us to be the harsh critics who call out the creators of the stop-motion series for the fictional liberties they’re taking.

The second episode, released early this week, features the pair zooming recklessly around Longyearbyen on a snowmobile, only the animators seem to have seriously redrawn the city’s map. We’ll skip past the part where UNIS seems to be located both to the north and south of the city square and just ask when did RaBis Bua (the place that sells pelts and those sealskin boots you’ll never get past customs) get placed in the middle of the main road through town? Hard to pin the blame on the dopey duo for crashing through it…

Speaking of tall tales, yet another book with a bizarre take on Svalbard has hit the shelves. Lauren Redniss’s “Thunder & Lightning: Weather Past, Present, Future,” is described in a New York Times review as “a hard-to-classify melding of text and images (that) features all manner of vividly colored skies, as well as polar bears, whales, lemurs, snakes and more than a few weather-preoccupied Homo sapiens, including scientists, inventors (leech barometer, anyone?), lightning-strike survivors and Ben Franklin, who swore by nude ‘air baths.’” Svalbard, in her world, “is home to the Global Seed Vault and, it turned out, hundreds of transient workers from some 40 nations, drawn there by special tax laws.” Yeah, no other reason we’d be here, but then she tries to link the two: “There’s a rhyme between the seeds in the vault and the way these economic migrants have paused their lives back home. There are all these different ways in which the cold is freezing time.”