A new world of reseach

This weekend I got the chance to talk to my favourite Ola and Lena, or should I call them by their real names, Mike and Julie Bateson. It was so interesting to hear their story, andreseach I really wish I could be at Burnsville Performing Arts Center in Burnsville, MN and watch Mike and Julie when they perform “Ole & Lena’s 50th Anniversary“.  But there is quite the distance beetween us, so for now I’m settling with doing research via www, e-mail, my cell phone and youtube. I’m not super old, but I remember when we first started to use Internet in high school – it was 1996 and we thought it was amazing that we could actually communicate with real Americans, hehe.

So I’m very happy that I can do a lot of research on my computer and cell. Still, the best is of course to meet people face to face. I’m looking forward to meet Mike and Julie for real, that’s for sure! By the way, you can find more information about their plays and such by going to their website – http://www.oleandlenalive.com/.

All the best,


The search for a Norwegian-American beer lover

Christmas is over, and my frigde is still filled with “sukkerøl” (“sugar beer”), a type of light, sweet beer we drink with the Christmas and New Years Eve dinners. It is common only in my part of the country, I think. I’ve met tons of fellow Norwegians that have never ølheard of it. But where I’m from (Hyen) a lot of families brew this – each family has their own, secret recipie. My dad and my little brother keep the tradition alive in our family.

Anyway. I’ve never been all that keen on beer, I’m more a white wine kind of woman. But, when we were filming our tv documentary back in 2005, we went to Mount Horeb, Wisconsin – a super cool and very Norwegian city. We went to The Grumpy Troll Brew Pub for a troll burger and some filming, and later that evening for some drinks. And my oh my, their brewery made mighty good beer – I don’t think I ordered a single glass of wine that night. That in itself speaks volumes on a night off, hehe.


A hit in Norway this year – Ægir’s Christmas beer

The last couple of years there has been sort of a beer revolution in Norway. People want locally made quality beer, and small breweries like Ægir, Nøgne Ø, and Ølve. A lot of these new brands have names with strong viking associations – Ægir was for example the one who made the mjød (beer) in Valhall. Old Norwegian traditions are back in business, and the micro breweries make darker, fuller beer than what we were used to before. I like it. Not the beer, but the concept. Plenty of people love the beer, though – my little brother is one of them.

So I’d like to write a chapter about the Norwegian-American beer making tradition – if there is one. My hope is to find a Norwegian-American that brews old school, but so far no luck. The very nice Brewmaster at Grumpy Troll, who I talked to on the phone tonight, has his roots in Germany.

Anyone out there? If so, I’d be happy to get a shout-out!

Have a great weekend!

All the best,


Ole and Lena

Laughing woman mouthNow I have divided the chapters roughly into themes, and I have sent out requests in order to find my main characters. The idea is that each chapter should focus on a certain part of the Norwegian-American culture, via the person who are involved in that particular part of the culture. Rosemaling, wood carving, you name it. In that way, I can include interesting personal stories, as well as facts about the different themes.

One thing I really wanted to include in the book, was a chapter about the Ole and Lena humour in the Midwest. I remember the first time I heard about it, and it was, well, a bit mind blowing. I talked to a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who told me that these jokes were really quite different than for instance jokes from other immigration groups, in the sense that the Norwegian-Americans poked fun of themselves and had tons of self irony compared to many others, who poked fun at others. I thougth that was really cool. And I can relate, even though the jokes I grew up with never mentioned Ole and Lena.

Anyway, I think I found my Ole and Lena. Ole’s real name is Michael, and Lena is his wife Julia. They actually perform Ole and Lena-plays, and I can’t wait to call them for a overseas phone interview.

Ole and Lena (Source: sunthisweek.com)

Ole and Lena (source: sunthisweek.com)

Michael sent me his family tree, and I saw that his forefathers came from Seim in Sør-Odalen in Hedmark. I called the municipality, and talked to a nice lady who could tell me that the place Seim was a huge, old farm. She even knew the farmer there, and gave me his name and number, plus the local historian’s name and number. Soon I’ll start digging, hoping to find both pictures and stories.

Finally, I have include a Ole and Lena joke, of course:

Little Ole was sitting at the kitchen table doing his school homework. He was writing an essay about his origin when he suddenly turned to question his mother.

“Mama, where did Grandma come from?” he asked.

“The stork brought her,” answered Lena.

“And where did you come from?” asked Little Ole.

“The stork brought me,” answered Lena.

“And where did I come from?” Little Ole asked.

“Well, son, the stork brought you, too,” Lena answered.

Little Ole picked up his pencil, turned to his school tablet, and started to write his essay:

“There hasn’t been any natural births in our family for three generations!”


All the best,