The answer to “Whaddizit?”

The picture shown in this morning’s post is, as someone finally guessed, the dome of the Stadshuset, the City Hall of Stockholm (built 1911-1923).  Besides having its civic functions, it’s also where the dinners honoring the Nobel Laureates are held each December. Here’s the building, which is gorgeously festooned inside with murals and mosaics:

Building

If you were at the Nobel dinner, which is attended by the Swedish royal family and assorted VIPs, as well as the Laureates, you’d have a place setting that looks like this (alert: vino in store!):

dishes

Here’s some information about the dinner on a sign next to the table, which is permanently on display in the Hall:

DSCN1575_2

nb: The sign above notes that 1353 people were served, which works out to a measly 0.64 bottles of wine per person.  That’s stingy: I would expect more. For a such a dinner my formula would be 1 person = 1 bottle.

Mosaics and a mural from inside the City Hall:

DSCN1567

DSCN1573

DSCN1572

The Prizes themselves are awarded at a different place: the Stockholm Concert House (not my photo):

concert house

A boy can dream, can’t he?

40 Comments

  1. Posted January 16, 2013 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    nice

  2. gbjames
    Posted January 16, 2013 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    Wonderful art.

    • Hempenstein
      Posted January 16, 2013 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

      Yep, & many of the mosaic tiles contain real gold – they were imported from Germany, and are NLA (no longer available).

      Outside the Konserthus are Carl Milles bronzes on permanent installation. And then in the adjoining square there’s an open market with many ethnic vendors selling fresh produce and other stuff. An adjacent indoor, downstairs market sells gourmet comestibles, so if ever there, plan on lunch from the vendors.

      • Hempenstein
        Posted January 16, 2013 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

        And PS to Stadshuset, it’s not immediately apparent, especially because of the lens distortion, that the square tower tapers slightly. This keeps it from appearing block-y. You notice this if paying attention when climbing the stairs since the passage narrows a bit as you ascend.

        Entrance to the cellar restaurant is at right foreground corner.

      • gravelinspector
        Posted January 17, 2013 at 3:26 am | Permalink

        A friend has been nagging me to get all artistic (him being very artistic) … and seen in this light, I could handle the idea of doing mosaic work – but with natural tesserae! (Interior mould gastropod fossils for eyes? How does that sound?)
        But in another context, the idea of doing some pattern-welded forge work appeals. (At my friend’s funeral someone mentioned an acquaintance who’d made his own sgian dubh, which probably brought it to mind. Danger : subconscious at work!)

  3. sgo
    Posted January 16, 2013 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    But, the 0.64 bottles/person is only an average, assuming everybody drinks equal amounts which surely isn’t the case. Plus, it says “were served”, so I assume those numbers are based on demand. Meaning, surely one can have more if one wanted to :) ! I’d indeed be surprised if that wasn’t the case. And apparently they have 5 people just for uncorking wine – continuously :) ?

    • Posted January 16, 2013 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

      But on the hypothesis that the servings were based solely on demand, it is very improbable that the number of bottles of wine served was exactly equal to the number of bottles of champagne served. This equality suggests that they bought a certain number of bottles of each, and served them all.

      • sgo
        Posted January 16, 2013 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

        I noticed that equality as well and wondered about it, too. The numbers are nice and round anyway so that they’re probably not the real number served. I mean, I would find it hard to believe they’d run out of wine at such a banquet! Or, they are really good at estimating what people drink.

        To settle the issue, I guess we have to ask an attendee whether or not he or she could drink all they want :)

      • whyevolutionistrue
        Posted January 16, 2013 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

        Lou has an excellent point here. If I were in charge, and knowing that it’s the fricking NOBEL PRIZE, I’d make sure that everybody had all that he/she wanted to drink!

        I am wondering what the dessert wine, was though, for dessert wines should be served on their own, not with dessert (exception: a Sauternes with a ripe peach), and NEVER with ice cream. Ice cream will coat the tongue and palate, as well as chill it, and render any good sweet wine much less tasty.

      • eric
        Posted January 16, 2013 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

        The exact number (and identical numbers) could alternatively mean that it’s an overestimation. I.e., the banquet typcally results in 300 or so of each being drunk, but one can never be sure which (wine or champagne) will be more popular at this particular banquet, so have 340 of each on hand.

        • John Scanlon, FCD
          Posted January 17, 2013 at 4:39 am | Permalink

          My guess is that at least some of the cooks and bottle-washers took leftovers home.

    • Marta
      Posted January 17, 2013 at 7:47 am | Permalink

      For what it’s worth, wedding planners suggest that, as a rule of thumb, the champagne/wine allowance per person is one half bottle (or about 3 glasses), so it might be seen that the Committee’s allowance of .64% is generous.

      • Marta
        Posted January 17, 2013 at 7:48 am | Permalink

        That’s a math fail, isn’t it? If you use a decimal, you don’t use the percent sign?

  4. Gordon
    Posted January 16, 2013 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    As I recall from a visit some years ago there is a map of the world on the wall somewhere which leaves out the southern hemisphere!

  5. Posted January 16, 2013 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    The tower is rather impressive. Does anyone know why the windows on these ancient towers are so sparse and haphazard? – you might think it would be very dark inside.

    • Hempenstein
      Posted January 16, 2013 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

      If you’re talking about the tiny windows that are barely detectable in the shot, they follow the stairs. And then there is at least one large landing before reaching the top, so those windows are placed on the same level. (One larger dark spot seems to be an artifact on the image.)

      At the time it was designed, electricity was reliable, so there would not have been a need to make them larger to let ambient light in. I’ll guess that the intent was to convey an aura of mystery to the tower.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted January 16, 2013 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

      HERE is an 8-minute Youtube video of the constrained walk down the 365 steps of the tower. The steps wrap around the lift with lengthy stretches of level corridor between. This accounts for the the random appearance of the windows on the exterior. Given how narrow the steps & corridor are ~ I think large windows are unnecessary & would be unwelcome on a cold day since one is only passing through those spaces.

  6. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Posted January 16, 2013 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    That’s stingy

    Um, what!?

    It is a _formal dinner_, with one fill per tradition.

    You get one refill if there is time, some large dinners won’t make it. That is why Ramlösa can be substituted if the food demands more liquid.

    After breaking table, the bar opens, and it would hopefully be free since it is by invitation.

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted January 16, 2013 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

      Sorry, that is refill for the main course. First course is usually quick, but I believe I’ve been to some that had refill.

      Dessert, usually no refill, since coffee supplements. If it’s port, you don’t want refill anyway. :-)

      • Gordon
        Posted January 16, 2013 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

        “If its port, you don’t want a refill anyway”

        Never thought I would see hearsay on this webpage.

        • HaggisForBrains
          Posted January 17, 2013 at 4:49 am | Permalink

          Or heresy!

  7. Posted January 16, 2013 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    I get homesick from these pictures. That’s my hometown…

    Anyway, just a small point. Konserthuset (bottom pitcture) is blue. I’m not sure where you got your picture from? But here is a better one: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Konserthuset_Stockholm.jpg

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted January 16, 2013 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

      Jerry’s picture is from around 1965~68 judging by the women’s hats & dresses & the lack of contemporary “leisure clothing” that people of all age groups feel obliged to wear these days! [Making grown men look like their toddler sons & grandsons]

      In Jerry’s picture the original grey/blue stucco bears the imprint of the brickwork below due to salts in the mortar leaching to the surface & the different rates of expansion/contraction of brick/mortar in the Northern climate. Stucco is not ideal finishing material away from a dry & frost-free Mediterranean climate.

      From HERE I understand that the building was renovated in 1972 added a new concert organ, a choir gallery, and an orchestra pit to the main concert hall. The building exterior was also restored, and when the scaffolding was removed many were surprised by the bold blue-coloured plaster. After the accumulation of many years of dirt and grime, the original colour had been all but forgotten.

      • gravelinspector
        Posted January 17, 2013 at 3:19 am | Permalink

        Jerry’s picture is from around 1965~68 judging by the women’s hats & dresses & the lack of contemporary “leisure clothing”

        I couldn’t have said that, but the orange-yellow streak down the middle of the photo is a common fault on film shots, so I’d guessed that it was a relatively old photo (pre-mid-1990s).
        (What happens to produce the fault is that at some point the camera housing has partly opened, or the film cartridge has received a blow and partly popped off its end cap, allowing light to penetrate along a sector of the cylindrical roll of film. (OK, “helical.”)
        There’s a word for “designing a feature of a new technology, to replicate the failures of a technology that it replaces” – it gets exercised regularly in New Scientist’s “Feedback” column – such as loudspeakers on electric cars to replicate the noise of an internal combustion engine. I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if there wasn’t a Photoshop plug-in to replicate this effect. Some people have used it artistically, probably.

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted January 17, 2013 at 4:42 am | Permalink

          HERE is the HiRes 3,468×2,331 pixel version.

          1] The middle-aged woman walking to the left in the bottom right of the pic is wearing short pale fashion gloves & a knee-length twin set outfit

          2] Note the people sitting on the steps between the 2nd & 3rd columns from the right. They are the same people as shown HERE & there are two different types of “Mod” & “Late Beatnik” fashions being worn which puts it as mid-60s before the “long hairs” hit the scene in ’67

          3] No mobiles in the above pic

          4] The picture of the Beatniks is claimed by an Andy Eick who gives the year as ’65, but I have also seen ’61 under a different “authors” name

          I like 1965 for this

    • Posted January 17, 2013 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

      I was also a bit surprised at the lack of blue for Konsterthuset. But then I saw that the picture is rather old. :)

  8. ArizonaJones
    Posted January 16, 2013 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    Well, Professor Coyne, if there was a Nobel Prize for blog sites ….

  9. Posted January 16, 2013 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    I used to love in Stockholm too. A visit to the top of Stadhusets tower was one of my first sights ( the lifts were out of action – a common complaint, I hear).

  10. Posted January 16, 2013 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    “That’s stingy: I would expect more. For a such a dinner my formula would be 1 person = 1 bottle.” Gery, you are my kind of guy. Let me know when next you are in the UK and we’ll sink some pints. Or bottles of artisan Elderberry Claret.

  11. Notagod
    Posted January 16, 2013 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    Anyone have information regarding the mosaic with the downside up doGs?

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted January 16, 2013 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

      GUESSWORK:- It is from the Gold Room [Gyllene Salen] above the Blue Hall

      It’s the work of Einar Forseth who also did some of the stained glass at my local[ish] Coventry Cathedral. Forseth used a Byzantine inspired style & the mosaics depict portraits of historical figures and events in Swedish history.

      I’m 99% sure that the dogs image has been rotated 180 degrees from what is actually on site because they are clearly sitting rather than hanging & the faint images of people to each side are also upside down.

  12. Michael Fisher
    Posted January 16, 2013 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    HERE is a spectacular spherical 360 degree photograph of the place where one can see Jerry’s “Whaddizit?”.

    Using your mouse pointer left-click on the image & shift your POV to look up at the ceiling.

    • Notagod
      Posted January 16, 2013 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

      Thanks!

      Interesting. By holding the left-click it will spin at dizzying speeds and directions.

  13. Don Strong
    Posted January 16, 2013 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

    Jerry deserves the Prize! Let’s get a nominate Coyne petition going. The achievement is to advance objectivity, rationality, and the enhancement of civilization against the multifarious evil empires of religion!

  14. Posted January 16, 2013 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

    If you go around back (on the right side in the top picture), you can find the stairs to a lovely restaurant in the basement. It is very elegant and serves a variety of authentic Swedish dishes in the evening. I dined there a couple of years ago with my wife and two friends. We had some reindeer appetizers. It was an easy walk across a bridge to get to the historic old city of Stockholm. Such a lovely secular country. Cabs cruised the restuarants along the lake in front of the city hall to offer safe rides home. Sweden has very strict rules against drinking and driving, so everyone just enjoys their drinks and takes a cab.

  15. kelskye
    Posted January 16, 2013 at 11:53 pm | Permalink

    On my one trip to Stockholm, this was my chosen destination. In hindsight, probably should have visited the Vasa museum and the Nobel museum instead.

    Oh well, next time…

  16. TJR
    Posted January 17, 2013 at 3:00 am | Permalink

    Its a lot nicer than the Oslo city hall, which is the most hideous building I’ve ever seen.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted January 17, 2013 at 3:16 am | Permalink

      I’ve only ever seen exterior photographs & perhaps I’d change my find if I could walk through it, but its definitely of the Brutalist school of architecture ~ Mussolini would have loved it. Absolutely missing any sense of human scale it makes people seem appallingly irrelevant. I understand the locals like it however, so perhaps it improves with familiarity.

    • MadScientist
      Posted January 17, 2013 at 3:46 am | Permalink

      I thought the Oslo Central Post Office was the worst. Didn’t it get a facelift in the past decade to make it a little less ugly?

  17. MadScientist
    Posted January 17, 2013 at 3:45 am | Permalink

    Hmmm … no Nobel for Spelling there. The spelling of ‘potato’ comes from the Dan Quayle Skool of Speling.


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