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  Sweden: What a Country!
by Jim Iovino, Ace Reporter

What would a LCS Hockey Tribute to Sweden Issue be without a little old school learnin'? If there's one thing we here at LCS Hockey love, it's knowledge. As a matter of fact, knowledge ranks right up there with our most favorite things in the world. I think it rates right behind malt liquor, classic television, more malt liquor, the Hartford Whalers, Don Knotts, Arnold Jackson and more malt liquor. Oh yeah, and Brian Burke. Boy do we love ourselves some Brian Burke.

Anyway, we all remember those lame-ass elementary school reports we had to write as children, don't we? Well, this is kind of like those reports, but since I'm not getting a grade on it I have taken the liberty to only include cool stuff that everyone should know about Sweden. Like what the name ABBA really means...

First of all, a geography lesson. Did you know that Sweden is approximately the size of California? That's right, their whole damn country is the size of an American state! Cameroon is just about the same size as Sweden, too. That's odd. And Sweden has a population of about 8.8 million people. That's not a lot. Now, I didn't research this, but Los Angeles has got to be close to the eight billion mark by now. (On a side note, Oprah has just climbed above seven million.) Sweden is also one of the countries on earth located farthest from the Equator. And the capital of Sweden? None other than Stockholm.

Sweden has been at war with its neighbor, Finland, for thousands of years. Originally a holy war fought during the Viking period over the right to use frozen waterways on the West Bank, today the two superpowers are still fighting and there seems to be no end to the Cold War in sight. Finland, which was a part of Sweden until 1809, is a surviving member of the old Communist regime. The country is controlled by a militant communist dictator named Mikko Makkala, who sees Finland as pure and the Swedes as a lesser breed of Scandinavians. It is Makkala's goal to put an end to the Swedish race, and he vows to use any means necessary to do so.

For the past 40 years, Swedish rebellion groups and freedom fighters have given up their lives in an attempt to win back their ever-decreasing borders and put an end to the bloodshed once and for all. Norway, usually a country known for its isolationism, has joined Sweden in order to help defeat evil. Their efforts took a major setback 13 years ago when Finland dropped a small atomic bomb on the Swedish civilian town of Amal. Luckily, the bomb wasn't a direct hit on Amal. It veered off course and landed in the deep waters of Lake Vanern, saving thousands of lives. God bless you Sweden in your quest to win back your freedom from a most impossible enemy.

Now on to the good stuff. Sure, Sweden only has 8.8 million people, but four of those people made up the disco group ABBA. Agnetha Faltskog, Benny Andersson, Bjorn Ulvaeus, and Anni-Frid Lyngstad survived the 70s and saw their songs become the anthem for many gays, lesbians, bi-sexuals and transvestites in the 90s.

ABBA could be the most famous people to come out of Sweden, but there are many others who can't go unnoticed. When you think of cheesy 80s pop rock/techno crap, you just can't forget Ace of Base. Man, that one guy in the group that got really chunky freaks me out. I saw the sign, buddy, and it says your career is down the drain! And what about early 80s rockers, Roxette? They were glam rock at its best.

Sweden's not just all about rock n' roll, however. The Swedes also know how to play tennis. Bjorn Borg was a wild and crazy Swede who kicked butt on the tennis circuit many years ago. Borg attempted to come out of retirement a few years back. He was still using his old wooden rackets and everything. Things were going well until a Finnish extremist nearly cost Borg his life during an attack at the Australian Open. The extremist, who was miffed that Borg knocked off Jari Varvio in straight sets, whacked Borg in the leg with crowbar. Borg was forced to hang up his rackets once again, this time for good.

Other important Swedish heroes include Anders Celsius, whose centigrade thermometer bears his name and is now used in much of the world. Gustaf de Laval was a wonderful Swede who invented the cream separator, a milking machine and a steam turbine with a resilient axle. I have no idea what that means. Zippy's favorite Swede is Johan Petter Johansson, the man who invented the monkey wrench. And where would be today without the safety match? You can thank Swede Gustaf Erik Pasch for that every time you set fire to an abandoned warehouse. While you're at it, thank Carl Richard Nyberg for inventing the blowtorch. And who could forget Gideon Sundback? He is responsible for designing a well-functioning zipper. We all know how much fun it is to taunt the Amish with our zippers, don't we? Let's not forget some of the great export products to come out of Sweden. There are Volvo and Saab cars, IKEA furniture, Absolut Vodka and Ericsson telephones. Question: Does anyone really own a Saab? And If so, do they ever admit it?

Swedish Chef
Swedish Chef
While inventors are great and all, nothing...I said nothing beats a Muppet. Sweden has their own very special Jim Henson character: the Swedish Chef. The Chef has entertained crowds for years with his zany cooking antics and mysterious semi-Swedish accent. His chocolate moose bit is an all-time favorite among many in the cooking community.

So there you have it -- the best Sweden has to offer. Hopefully you've learned something new about Sweden. I know in researching this article, I was amazed to see how far the yellow and blue have come. From great inventors to heroic battles against the forces of evil, Sweden is a country all of us can be proud of.

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