Archive for the ‘Uncategorized Drivel’ Category

The Shire’s Underground Metal Scene

Monday, May 22nd, 2017

Recently, I collaborated with fellow metalhead and badass illustrator Matt Smith on something that we attempted to publish at McSweeney’s. Suffice it to say that the norns wove a highly unfavorable fate over this humble effort because McSweeney’s flat-out rejected it due to a perceived lack in interest in heavy metal and hobbits among its readers, which is probably apt since the site tracks its pieces’ popularity and in 2017 rarely publishes anything that doesn’t have to do with Trump, women’s issues, or child-rearing (thank Odin my gimmick of Mark Wahlberg riffing on Norse history was accepted way back during the site’s glory days when eccentric and topically irrelevant humor was dominant). Anyway, Matt and I watched from the sidelines as our piece got stabbed, speared, and decapitated like an inferior warrior on an ancient northern battlefield, but lo! A smile did creep across our faces when the valkyries chose to bring it to this digital Valhalla where the brave shall live forever.

THE EPICNESS OF OUR LIVE SHOW

GOES ALL THE WAY TO ELEVENTY

Like a piping-hot pork pie pulled fresh from the oven, the uncertainty of Middle-Earth’s survival hangs thick in the sweaty, night air. The hors d’oeuvres are gone, the pre-show music has started its slow descent towards nothingness, and only the occasional whistle or jeer for faster service can be heard. The stage is set, the kettle is rumbling, and finally, the curtain is drawn and the backdrop revealed. A lavishly well-stocked larder looms high overhead, its countless jars of herbs and jams, pastries and fruit pies sending tingles down the spine of every famished guest gathered before us. …Hail onwards »

Vikingaliv: Return of the Swedish Pagans

Saturday, April 22nd, 2017

Stockholm’s got a brand new Viking museum on the way, set to open next weekend! And it’s about damn time, too. New Viking museums don’t come along often enough, or outside of Scandinavia enough either for that matter, but that’s a separate topic that will only lead to a downward spiral of depression and heavy mead drinking if followed.

So then on that uplifting note…Vikingaliv aims to rectify Stockholm’s problem of not having a full-out museum dedicated solely to Vikings. Its creators are promising an educational experience unlike any other, one based on the latest research to give visitors a complete and accurate representation of the Old Norse lifestyle. It will also have original artifacts on loan from Historiska Museet and a shop and restaurant selling and serving authentic, local goods and food. And being situated on Stockholm’s leafy Djurgården island beside Vasamuseet (17th century piratical-style ship museum) and Junibacken (the ultra hardcore Pipping Longstocking museum), Vikingaliv is set to be in good company.

And for those of us on the wrong side of the Atlantic, at least we have some genuine Swedish pagans from Falun visiting us tonight:

Drink to the Deceiver of the Gods

Saturday, March 4th, 2017

Iceland is undisputedly the most Viking place on the planet. In some cases, the coefficient of Viking discrepancy between Iceland and a comparative test sample is dramatic and severe (Ethiopia, China, most of the U.S. – particularly Florida) while in much rarer cases the coefficient begins to approach zero (Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and perhaps most notably, the Faroes).

Proof of Iceland’s status as the Vikingest of them all abounds: its language resembles Old Norse, the events of the local sagas are tied to specific places in its landscapes and still remembered today, and Reykjavik is slated to receive the world’s first Ásatrú temple in a millennium later this year (see the rendering below and visit Magnús Jensson’s website for more about the architecture).

And last, but not least, Iceland produces special hard liquor in honor of the gods. Certainly, Iceland is not the only place to boast such an honor, but the Icelanders naturally take it to a higher level with their true, authentic Viking Schnaps, like the one devoted to Loki shown at the the top of the page. And in Iceland it’s not enough to just name some hard liquor after Loki, Freyja, or Thor, but the drinks praising their glory must also contain special all-natural ingredients such as dulse, golden root, and angelica root (yeah, might have to look some of those up…) and be produced by a health-oriented herbal supplement company called Íslensk Fjallagrös. Sadly, Íslensk Fjallagrös’ website is a bit underwhelming and does not include any information about their Viking Schnaps products, but you can still learn about cool things like their Icelandic lava booze or their moss-infused alcoholic concoction.

So, should you be lucky enough to acquire some mossy Icelandic liquor, then raise a glass and skål to the deceiver of the gods!

True Corporate Black Metal

Monday, January 23rd, 2017

It’s 2017 now and there’s a lot of uncertainty in the world, which means it’s high time to address the crucial and critically important question: what would happen if you combined a corporate office environment with a diehard black metal dude? The topic is a mystery for the ages and a clear deviation from my usual, unhealthy obsession with Vikings, but it’s one that’s still aggressive and still Scandinavian. Read more about it here on McSweeney’s:

I Bring the Soul-Defiling Spirit of True Norwegian Black Metal to Our Corporate Office Environment

And while we’re on the topic of true metal, I recently had the chance to visit Trve Brewing in Denver, where they combine tasty craft brews with the ambience and ethos of metal. What’s not to like about that? Check out the photo that I took of their beer menu and the two graphic images of their labels that I pilfered off their own website:

Birch-Shoe-Wearing-Guys, Save the King!

Saturday, November 12th, 2016

So this one’s deviating a little from the strictly Norse theme, but how can you not like a painting like this? Even if they’re aren’t technically Vikings, these guys are still hardcore. They’re skiing across Norway in medieval times in the dead of winter to save the baby infant king, being followed by assassins who just killed the little guy’s dad in a diabolical plot to steal the throne. Plus it’s just a cool looking painting.

This one was done by good ole Knud Bergslien, who painted many, many portraits of well-to-do Norwegians back in the 1800s, as well as a few landscapes and scenes from the country’s past, such as the one of the birkebeiner above (the birkebeiner were a group vying for political control of Norway and take their name from an insult in the day–that they were so poor they could only afford to make their shoes out of birch, and if that isn’t degrading, then I don’t know what is.)

The mad dash across the country on skis is one of Norway’s special historical moments and has been commemorated over the years, not just in the painting by Bergslien, but in a recent, full-length Norwegian film named “Birkebeinerne.” There are also races every year honoring the event in Norway and in Wisconsin (since they got lots ‘o Norskies up there too). The film is currently available on Netflix, under the title “The Last King” (since a movie with an accurately translated title like “The Birch-Legs” or “The Birch-Shoe-Wearing-Guys” apparently isn’t sexy enough for English-speaking audiences):

And, last but not least, here’s one of Bergslien’s majestic landscape paintings to end on an scenic note:

Kristine Jensen Gets Jelling with It

Saturday, July 9th, 2016

The Scandinavian countries are known first and foremost throughout the rest of the world for their achievement of producing Vikings 1200-900 years ago. While this was an undeniably badass achievement, the rate by which they have been producing Vikings since the year 1066 has really taken a nose dive. Thanks to the centuries of stagnation within the Viking-producing industry that have since followed, the region now produces other things instead, such as edible rotten fish, extreme death metal, ice hockey superstars, grim and frostbitten mystery novelists, large public sectors, North Sea oil, cheap furniture, toy building blocks, and last but not least, sleek modern design. It is this last item that is the point of my blathering online today, because the ancient burial mounds of Jelling in Denmark recently got an extreme modern design makeover.

For those unfamiliar with it, Jelling was a major center for Danish royalty in the Viking era. It was the home of good ole Harald Bluetooth and is regarded as the birthplace of Denmark as we think of it today. You can read more about its historic importance in any book on Viking/Norse history, but here is the link to Visit Denmark’s official page about it: ttp://www.visitdenmark.co.uk/en-gb/denmark/jelling-viking-town-and-world-heritage-gdk608047.

In 2013 a major landscape face-lift was given to the site. New discoveries had been made by archaeologists in preceding years, including a palisade fence and ship burial formation. These new discoveries have been highlighted in the design by Kristine Jensen, a Danish landscape architect, so that visitors gain a better sense of the historic layout of the site. The website Landezine describes the design rationale in detail, and is very much worth checking out for anyone who is interested: UNESCO World Heritage Site Jelling.

Kristine Jensen’s own design studio also offers some insights into the project and its relation to the Viking past for those who can read Scandinavian. Lastly, I should note/cover my ass that the images here were pilfered from Landezine’s page on the project and are credited to Jesper Larsen and Kristine Jensen. Definitely click the Landezine link above if you want to see more photos.

Boston’s Vinland / T-Shirt Shenanigans

Thursday, March 17th, 2016


Once upon a time the great Norse explorer, Leif Eriksson, plundered his way up the Charles River to swanky Weston, Massachusetts where he then proceeded to disembark from his fierce dragon-prowed longship and initiate the first European colonization of North America. Only it wasn’t that great since the effort failed after a few short years and the native skraelings chased all the Norse men and women back to the icy wastes of Greenland. And also, it happened in Newfoundland, not Massachusetts. But that didn’t stop a bunch of stuffy old guys from proclaiming otherwise back in the late 1800s.

One of the main culprits who promulgated this phenomenon was Eben Norton Horsford, a chemist to whom I devoted a Heroes of Norse Proliferation posting during the not-so-glorious autumn of ‘014. The graphic icon above and the images below are all depictions of the tower and its associated plaques that he had erected in 1889 on the spot along the Weston/Waltham border where he thought Leif Eriksson had done the whole Vinland thing, only Horsford was also convinced that the settlement was known as Norumbega, a long-forgotten fabled city known to early European explorers. Horsford thought Norumbega was a corruption of Norway/North-Way/Norvega.

Many other wild and crazy Boston brahmins got on the Norse bandwagon during this era since it was considered anti-Irish to do so and therefore high-fashion since they were basically a bunch of dirty rat bastards, but thanks to them we now also have Leif Eriksson hanging out on Commonwealth Avenue, Viking ships on the Longfellow Bridge, and a highly degraded rune stone next to Mt. Auburn Hospital. Check out my Boston’s Monuments to Greatness page for more on these as well as links to actual historical websites where you can learn more (the Needham Historical Society’s article is particularly good).


This faded runic carving reads: “This tower was erected by Eben Norton Horsford A.D. 1889”


Click here for a legible transcription of this plaque

For those of you who live nearby and might be interested in checking out the notorious Norumbega Tower in person, I have compiled the following aerial maps to help show you where it is (also, google maps recognizes “Norumbega Tower, Norumbega Road, Weston, MA 02493” to help you find your way).

Lastly, check out the new webshop for Scandinavian Aggression T-shirts, including one featuring the Norumbega graphic at the top of this posting. The back of the shirt looks something like this:

Going Vintage Scandinavian

Sunday, January 17th, 2016

What better way to start off the new year 2.5 weeks late than by showcasing some vintage artwork that is nearly a century old and harkens back to a bygone age of style and class? Some things just never go out of fashion, and I am convinced that the classic 1930s era trans-Atlantic travel posters depicting the Norse side of Norway and the medieval side of Sweden are two of these things. While I never really need any additional motivation to want to go to Scandinavia, these posters certainly don’t give me any pause for second thoughts. The artwork was supposedly done by a guy named Ivar Gull, who I am assuming was Norwegian, but there is an unfortunate dearth of information about him online. Even wikipedia comes up empty handed, and that’s just a load of horseshit, especially since they’re all patting themselves on the back for turning 15 recently. I mean here we are, in the soulless, digital age of 2016, and even wikipedia can’t instantaneously provide any unverified free information about the guy? Sometimes I just don’t know what the world is coming to.

Live Free and Drink Hard

Saturday, December 12th, 2015

One of the few redeeming qualities about this obscure, little website is its dedication to the discovery and promotion of Viking-themed alcoholic beverages. Despite being the hardest drinkers known to both human history and Eddic poetry, Norsemen that actually grace the labels of bottles of booze are unfortunately fairly hard to come by in the 21st century. It’s usually a pretty rare occasion when I stumble upon a new specimen worthy of photographing (poorly) and then uploading into the great black abyss of cyberspace. It’s even more rare when said specimen hails from the shores of Norumbega, so naturally I felt that special rush of excitement that only the Vikings/alcohol combo-pack can deliver when I discovered Kelsen Brewing Company’s fine line of Norse/Tolkien/medieval inspired brewskies.

The Battle-Axe IPA is shown here, but they also have a Draken Robust Porter, a Vendel Imperial Stout, a Vinatta Russian Imperial Stout (‘Vinatta’ being the Norse word for friendship), and a Paradigm Brown Ale (for those who prefer doing their drinking with the dwarves). Not all their styles feature a Norse or medieval theme, but they’re on the right track. On a more serious note, they’re basically just a solid, little craft brewery doing good work from their home base in the state with the most Viking motto of the entire nation.

Brewsky of the North

Monday, September 21st, 2015

There’s no better way to start the week off right than by rolling out of bed Monday morning and popping open a cold, refreshing Icelandic craft brew courtesy of the Einstök Beer Company. Located in Akureyri, along the island’s north shore near the Arctic Circle, Einstök brews a variety of beer styles that are gradually making their presence felt over here in Vinland. With any luck, Einstök will be luckier than Leif the Lucky was in his day and remain here in Vinland for many years to come. I was personally lucky enough to recently find a batch and enjoy its clean, glacially-derived alcoholic contents. There’s just something about drinking a well-crafted beer from the land of fire and ice that helps you get by. And the logo is pretty damn badass, too.

Holger the Sleepy

Monday, August 10th, 2015

Holger Danske, or Ogier the Dane as he’s known in the non-Scandinavian-language-speaking parts of the world, slumbers in the deep, dark dungeons of Hamlet’s castle, Kronborg, about an hour north of Copenhagen, defending Denmark with his staunch snoring. It doesn’t look like a very comfortable position. Personally, if I was going to sleep for years on end, I’d prefer to lie down and take off my armor. But then I’m a lame, weirdo blogger type of person, whereas Holger is a heroic badass who will wake and arise whenever his nation is threatened, so I think he probably does most things better than me, especially when it concerns medieval warfare, battle-preparedness, and general sexiness of appearance.

This particularly sexy rendition of Holger was sculpted by Hans Peder Pedersen-Dan back in the glorious year of ’07 (1907, that is). Pedersen-Dan, not only sculpted this great Nordic hero, but also made some important contributions to the Carlsberg Brewery, so he deserves double skåls for that.

Check out the photos below for an additional, sexy shot of Holger himself as well as his humble abode.

June Downbeat: Some Dark, Wintry Ice[land]

Monday, June 1st, 2015

Ahhh, June, that wonderful month when the weather warms up (maybe), the sun stays out late (when it’s not overcast), and vacation seasons tend to officially start (if you can get the time off and/or afford to go anywhere). But let’s not be so optimistic here. Winter is only a short half a year away. In three weeks the days will be getting shorter, again. We will hurl headlong towards the bleak darkness of December and its vicious little gnomes, who as the descendents of two abominable ogres, will terrorize your yule-tide merry-making by breaking and entering into your house to eat all of your yogurt, steal your sausages, slam all of your doors loudly in the middle of the night, and spread germ-ridden saliva over all of your dishes and kitchen utensils.

But the stout of heart won’t let these trolls get them down, because there is beauty in winter, especially in Iceland, where they maintain a keen appreciation of their Norse heritage, as exemplified by Jón Gunnar Árnason’s work Sólfar dramatically situated along Reykjavik’s waterfront (above) or Alexander Stirling Calder’s Leif Eriksson memorial statue in front of Hallgrímskirkja (below).

Keeping It Real at Aifur

Friday, February 20th, 2015

Stockholm is a magical place where they have a Viking restaurant and bar that actually strives for authenticity. Normally this kind of thing would be totally gimmicky and feel like a themed version of a Chuck E. Cheese; anyone over age 10 would stand out in a sad way if they weren’t there with a younger family member. Not so at Aifur. At Aifur it’s different. They’ve done their research to make the setting cozy and believable. The staff dress in garb appropriate to the setting and time period. The menu is based on archaeological records regarding the types of animals the Norse ate, and the types of spices they used to make those animals taste better. The drink menu consists of an extensive list of Nordic beers and meads, which alone is enough to make me excited. Throw in everything else I just mentioned, and it’s like Aifur goes to 11 when everyone else only goes to 10.

Check out their “about” page in English for more info:
http://www.aifur.se/en_about.

And below is their booze menu!

A Good Day to Hail Leif

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

Today is the official Leif Erikson Day of 2013, and what appropriate and ironic timing!

Leif’s Icelandic ancestors all bailed from Norway when they finally got too disgusted with their slimy politicians to bother sticking around. Lucky for them, they were able to find a nice (if harsh), uninhabited island out in the middle of the North Atlantic to claim as their own, and their descendents kept the tradition of exploring alive, culminating with Leif’s badass voyage to America. That’s a far cry from our current tactics of belly moaning and ineffective protesting. Too bad we don’t live in an era where we can just get our buddies together, get in a boat, and go find a new place to conquer and settle without getting fire-bombed in retaliation. Oh well.

The photo above is a statue devoted to Leif’s glory located in Reykjavik, Iceland. Check out my Monuments to Greatness page to learn more about Boston’s own glorious Leif statue. And best of luck staying sane in this sea of madness.

Skálmöld Trip Out with the Wolf

Friday, September 27th, 2013

It’s the last Frey’s day of the month, the nights are becoming longer than the days, the average daily temperatures are dropping, and “winter is coming.” That makes it a perfect time to trip out with Icelandic Viking metal band Skálmöld in their new music video. In it they take us on a journey through their wild Icelandic landscape and show us all sorts of strange on-goings involving that demon-woman Hel, Odin hanging out passively on the top of a cliff, the iron-ribbon Gleipnir wrapping around a young girl, and the wolf shaking the shit out of his fur to get dry. Pretty badass.

Also, the video itself was created by Bowen Staines who originally hails from New Hampshire, so this is a nice New England-Scandinavia collaboration!