Thursday, February 28, 2013

Viking Chats With Marian Saastad Ottersen

In the March issue of Viking magazine, we feature Marian Saastad Ottesen, who stars as Sigrid in the hit Norwegian television show, "Lilyhammer." Viking's associate editor Anya Britzius caught up with the actor, who was busy filming Season 2 of the series and is available to North American audiences on Netflix.

Q: Did you want to be an actor from a young age?
A: All my life I wanted to be an actress, but when I was little it was a secret dream. None of my friends were into acting. But my aunt is an actress at Trøndelag theatre (in Trondheim), so every time I went to visit my cousin, we went to the theatre. I remember we always had to sit on the back row and be very quiet, but I still thought it was the most magical place to be!

Q: How would you describe playing your character, Sigrid?
A: I love playing Sigrid. I talked a lot with the director and the writers about her. It was important to keep Sigrid "normal" and a person the viewers could identify with. Many of the other characters are more out of this world and based on stereotypes about people from rural districts of Norway. It was important that the scenes between Sigrid and Frank (Steven Van Zandt) were more realistic and emotional to add some depth to the series and to make his character have something real to struggle for.

Q: How do you feel about all the success and attention “Lilyhammer” has garnered? 
A: I am so proud of being a part of “Lilyhammer”! I think we managed to make a truly original show, and I'm really surprised how it actually has such an appeal even outside of Norway. The show was never made to be broadcasted abroad. A Norwegian television show aired in the United States is usually completely unthinkable. A lot of the jokes are also very local, so I know many of them get lost in translation. Actually, it wasn't until late in the shooting process Netflix decided that Lilyhammer might work well in United States and Canada as well, and became co-producers. It was surrealistic to hear about how they made posters on New York bus stops and huge billboards on Sunset Strip in Hollywood to promote the show. I think the fact that we never made the show with all this in mind may also be the reason for its success. I hope we'll manage to keep the same weird and original mood in the show when we start to shoot Season 2.

Q: What is it like playing opposite Steven Van Zandt?
A: It’s fantastic! Almost all of my scenes in Season 1 were filmed with him, so we spent a lot of time together. Steven had a trailer on set, so between the shoots we used to sit there drinking coffee and talking about everything from his life as a member of the E-Street Band, “The Sopranos” and just the normal small things in life. Steven is a very down to earth and generous person who seems to be nice to absolute everyone he meets.

Q: What are your future career plans?
A: After Season 2 of “Lilyhammer” is shot I will go back to join the ensemble at the National Theatre. I hope I will still be able to do a little bit of everything in the future. In a small country like Norway where the production rate in the film industry is proportional with our own size, we don't make enough movies for an actor to make a living on just that. So it's quite common that we work on stage, in films and television shows. The good thing about it is that we get a lot of acting experience. We may do an Ibsen or Shakespeare play in the evening, while we shoot sitcoms during the daytime. So my dream is to try and ride that Scandinavian wave everybody's talking about, and see if it can bring me somewhere abroad.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Firewood Program Sets Viewers Hearts Ablaze

The Norwegian Broadcasting Company (NRK) has been taking reality TV to a new level lately. First there was 2009's wildly successful 7-hour program of the spectacular Oslo-Bergen train route. Then came a 2011 live broadcast of Norway's 120-year-old coastal cruise line. Hurtigruten—Minutt for Minutt held the country's attention—along with much of the rest of the world—for a whopping 134 hours.

Now NRK is breaking new ground by bringing us back to hearth and home. The latest show that everyone seems to be talking about—from the New York Times to Stephen Colbert—is Nasjonal Vedkveld, or "National Firewood Night." Nearly a million people, or 20 percent of Norway's population, tuned in for the 12-hour broadcast dedicated to the subject of firewood. The broadcast, which aired Feb. 15, included 4 hours of regular programming and 8 hours of a fire burning in the fireplace of a Bergen farmhouse.

The series was inspired by the book, “Solid Wood: All About Chopping, Drying and Stacking Wood—and the Soul of Wood-Burning” by Lars Mytting, which spent more than a year on the non-fiction best-sellers list in Norway.

While there was heated debate among viewers via Twitter about the art and science of splitting, drying and stacking wood, they did seem to reach consensus on one thing: This show would only be produced in Norway, for Norwegians.

Wondering how to dress for a day of Norwegian woodsplitting? Stay tuned for the Norwegian art of dressing for the outdoors in the April issue of Viking!

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.

Photo courtesy of NRK.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Hustvedt To Visit Minnesota

If you're a fan of Norwegian-American writer Siri Hustvedt and you live in the Twin Cities area, you're in luck. The Northfield, Minnesota native will return to her hometown for a series of events at St. Olaf and Carleton Colleges next week. Hustvedt will be traveling with her husband, Paul Auster. In addition to conducting faculty seminars, the couple will participate in three events for the public.

  • Wed., Feb. 20, 4:30–6 p.m.: Joint reading by Hustvedt and Auster, followed by a book signing and reception in the Great Hall of Carleton College.
  • Thurs., Feb. 21, 11:30 a.m. Guided interview with Hustvedt and Auster, conducted by St. Olaf writer-in-residence Benjamin Percy in Viking Theater at St. Olaf College.
  • Fri., Feb. 22, 10:30 a.m. Convocation by Hustvedt in Skinner Memorial Chapel at Carleton.  The talk, "Reflections on Creativity," will be followed by a book signing.

Hustvedt's work, which includes five novels, two books of essays, a book of poetry and a work of non-fiction, has been translated into more than thirty languages. She also lectures and publishes regularly on the intersection of philosophy, psychoanalysis and neuroscience. Want to learn more? To read a Viking interview with Hustvedt, check out our May 2011 issue.

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Tubfrim Winner Announced

Thursday, January 10, 2013 was a lucky day for Thor 2-042, Salem, OR. The lodge was the winner of the Tubfrim drawing to give away a ticket to Norway, worth up to $1,000. Their postcard was drawn from among 1,769 other cards. With one card for every pound sent to Norway that means that Sons of Norway sent at least 1,770 pounds of stamps to Tubfrim in 2012.

For the past 27 years, our members have been clipping canceled postage stamps and sending them to Tubfrim, who then sells them to dealers and collectors.

Originally the money raised went to help children afflicted by tuberculosis. Since tuberculosis is no longer the threat to health that it once was, today the proceeds from the resale of stamps helps improve the quality of life for children and youth with disabilities and special needs. Sons of Norway members are the largest contributor outside of Norway to Tubfrim’s efforts, sending nearly 30% of all stamps collected.

While helping children is a great motivation for our members to participate, there is a special incentive to say “thank you”. For every pound of stamps collected, the member or lodge can enter a drawing, held in mid-January every year, to win a round trip ticket to Norway, worth up to $1,000. The official postcard to enter the drawing can be ordered from the Sons of Norway Supply Department, 800-945-8851 ext 645 or

If you would like to participate in the Tubfrim contest and get a chance to win a free ticket to Norway, visit the Tubfrim page on the Sons of Norway website. For more information or questions, email Sons of Norway Tubfrim chairperson, Gene Brandvold, at

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Norway, Guardian of the Rainforest

An interesting article from Fast Company caught my eye this week. It's called Why Norway Is Paying a South American Country to Not Cut Down its Trees. The article explains how Norway made a ground-breaking agreement with the country of Guyana in an effort to prevent deforestation and slow climate change. The agreement, in which Norway pays Guyana up to $250 million through 2015, could serve as a model for other nations.

This kind of partnership might sound strange, but when you look at Norway's foreign aid policy, it's not that surprising. Guyana isn't the only country that has benefitted from this initiative: The biggest recipient of Norway's effort rainforest preservation efforts in 2011 was Brazil, which received NOK 1.4 billion.

This map from the December 2012 issue of Viking shows the biggest recipients of Norway's $28 billion foreign aid budget. Interested in learning more? Check out the rest of Lydia Seabol Avant's article "Agent of Peace," in our December issue. You'll also find a wealth of information about Norwegian foreign aid stats and policies at

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Sons of Norway Seeks Customer Service Representative!

This was passed to me yesterday and I wanted to share it with all the blog visitors. Sons of Norway is currently looking to hire a new Customer Service Representative to assist in our Insurance Services Division. If you are a dedicated, professional individual, you might want to keep reading because this is a great opportunity!

Job Summary:
This position is primarily responsible for providing generalized customer service to all internal and external customers of the organization.  The emphasis is placed on certificate holder services, which is provided to all the insurance members of the society and includes performance of the following duties:

Essential Duties and Responsibilities:
Core duties and responsibilities include the following. Other duties may be assigned.

  • Processes daily monetary requests that include but are not limited to, loans, surrenders, partial surrenders, 1035 exchanges replacements and  conversions
  • Processes daily non-monetary requests that include but are not limited to, address changes, beneficiary changes and ownership changes 
  • Provides support for annual/quarterly informational and monetary exchanges with members that include but are not limited to RMD letters, 1099 letters and dividend distributions.
  • Provides telephone support, and answers day-to-day questions posed members, FBCs and internal staff. 

Job Requirements:

  • Associates Degree 
  • 5+ years demonstrated knowledge and experience related to Insurance processes and procedures preferred, but not required.
  • Strong Technical aptitude.  Ability to analyze and use various computer software programs as needed with little training.
  • Strong attention to detail needed to manage the various customer service processes.
  • Exceptional communications skills. Ability to provide excellent customer service to both internal and external customers via proactive and reactive phone calls, and email.

To Apply:
Please submit your cover letter, salary requirements and resume to:
Sons Of Norway
Attn: Mike Wnek
1455 West Lake Street
Minneapolis, MN 55408

We are an Equal Opportunity Employer