Tag Archives: rants

Guest column: The Soviet Handshake of Norway – Future dreams of an aspiring Arctic adventurer from the East meets past memories from the Kremlin


(Author’s note: As the raging COVID-19 pandemic forces nations to shut their borders, tourism and employment in this Norwegian archipelago have taken a hard hit. With Norway opening its domestic borders as of June 1, there will be some respite but not enough. Tourism needs to be revived and spirits need to be raised for all those facing the heat in this sub-zero climate. This is where my effort goes: a diary as a native of India visiting the Russian settlement of Barentsburg in March of 2019.) 

Open letter to Bernice Notenboom: Why should you care your expedition is ‘fake news’? Because people are vomiting on it



You just completed a 200-kilometer ski trip to the North Pole that was difficult, dangerous, and full of scientific and personal discoveries. The comments section of one of the most-read articles about it features an animated GIF of a Muppet turbo-barfing.

Rant: You may want to go home – for maybe the last time ever. The Sequel (20 minutes in a freezing hell with little left to lose)


This time, almost exactly a year to the day later, there was no forewarning it might happen. Instead of two hours, I had 20 minutes. There was no calvary bringing vehicles – indeed, there were no cars at all because I had no idea where mine was.

And it wasn’t a pivotal moment on a worldwide reality TV show – or even covered by the local media. Good thing, because as the picture indicates, I look a whole lot worse for wear this year.

Polarjazz at 20: Here’s everything insane about our editor’s first infamous article about the festival nine years ago


(Editor’s note: I discovered Svalbard a decade ago while spending several years traveling the world writing about jazz in unusual and unexpected places. Obviously a festival in a tiny isolated town on an island near the North Pole in the middle of winter qualifies. I spent about two weeks here and, even before leaving, was talking to people and making plans about coming here to start this newspaper. In the meantime, as part of the 20th annual festival’s coverage this is the long article I wrote for the website All About Jazz about the 2008 festival which, among other things, criticizes the talent level of local kids. Nine years later, my thoughts about that and all the other inaccurate, inane and insane things I wrote are annotated in yellow highlight text – click on it to read my comments and add your own.)

Ranking the characters of ‘Svalbard: Life on the Edge’ from least to most interesting (sorta halftime edition)


Six down. Four to go. And it’s far from clear the current rankings will look anything like the final ones.

I’ve been at a loss as to how to rank the “stars” of the ten-episode BBC Earth docu-soap “Svalbard: Life on the Edge” (“Ice Town: Life on the Edge” outside Norway), mostly because I can’t figure out why the show is allocating scenes/storylines to everyone the way it is so far. But things have progressed far enough to say the initial rankings after the first “introductory” episodes were somewhat askew.

Rant: Holy f****** c***, we just published a 20-page fishwrapper…


It was a cute and quirky bathroom reader at four pages. It became constipation-worthy at eight pages. And capable of causing constipation at 12 pages. This monstrosity might require surgical extraction.

Rant: Our fishwrapper is alive and stinky as ever again after dying on the night of our worldwide TV debut


For those trying to visit during the past 17 hours and wondering why the world’s coolest newspaper didn’t seem to exist, we apologize. There was some kind of serious problem with the server. After a sleepless night and much beseeching during livechats to tech support, the fishwrapper has returned to its usual stinky self. And if anyone wants to take pity and chip in to the “must injest endless amounts of caffeine” (and maybe some drugs that aren’t legal) fund, donate a dollar (or a million). Most of all, keep reading and telling me all the ways I’m crazy/wrong/evil/etc.

Update: The reason the fishwrapper’s website was down for 17 hours yesterday and today (and has been crashing intermittently throughout the morning) is so many people were trying to access it that it crashed both my account and server. If nothing else, this is the best advertising pitch (and begging request for donations) I’ll ever be able to make. Especially since I’m being told I’m going to have to migrate/upgrade my server to handle that kind of traffic.

Rant: Homeless – a very true story about ‘that woman holding all her belongings in a plastic bag’


Most locals have probably seen the cover of the most recent Svalbardposten and know people (or were among them) joking about “that woman holding all her belongings in a plastic bag.” I will tell you her true story.

‘Fortitude’ follies: We binge watch and document everything the cult-hit TV series gets wrong about life in Svalbard


“There has never been a violent crime here.” Maybe that’s because after shooting a guy in the head you’re told to go home and not worry about it by the cop who watched you pull the trigger.

Believe that’s a realistic portrayal of everyday life in Longyearbyen and you’ll be well-prepared for the rest of “Fortitude,” since throughout the 11 episodes (or 12, since the DVD version treats the double-length opener as two) the locals wander about killing and pummeling each other, stealing relics and expensive equipment, going on drunken shooting binges, and generally acting in ways that make viewers think everyone deserves to be locked up at some point. And while some are – always the wrong ones, naturally – nobody’s ever charged, let alone convicted of anything.

But we really don’t care much about that, because the far more twisted thing is – WTF is up with all those trees?

Rant: Idiot government overlords win as Barents Observer ceases publication, editorial staff quits


Someday this sorry fishwrapper will cease to exist. God willing, it won’t be because of the utter hell another vital source of local news has fought against – and apparently lost – during the past few months.

BarentsObserver (yeah, we’re never quite sure if it’s supposed to be one word or two, but we’ll go with their website usage for now), has officially ceased publication and its entire editorial staff has quit because some Norwegian government folks have decided the online newspaper should be a propoganda puppet.