Archive for the ‘Uncategorized Drivel’ Category

Towards Vinland’s Black Horizons

Sunday, August 12th, 2018

So all summer long the Draken Harald Hårfagre is harrying Vinland’s coast, starting with New England and gradually making its way down towards the unsuspecting peasants who live in quaint, easily-pillagable places like Philadelphia and Washington D.C. And the norns smiled upon myself and my brothers-in-arms, as we rode our 4-wheeled short steeds to witness the ships’s arrival in Salem, MA and then again to tour its deck in Newport, RI. It’s a very impressively crafted vessel and we uniformly lamented our ill-informed decisions to keep our real jobs in lieu of conscripting ourselves to the cause. So maybe the norns weren’t that happy with us after all.

Anyway, it’s well worth a visit for anyone who gets the chance. The deck tour is inexpensive and provides the chance to view the craftsmanship up close and personal, learn how the crew lives onboard, and see which modern accoutrements have been by necessity added to the otherwise authentic ship. The Draken’s homepage has a schedule of when and where the Norsemen intend to bring their wrath before returning to Mystic, CT in October to hangout with the local Guardsmen and eat pizza while conducting ship repairs and maintenance in the winter.

Runic carvings about materials and dimensions, etc.

 

Arrival in the Witch City. Where are the shields and swords?

 

Solid wood from a fir tree

 

Huginn and Muninn watch over the vessel’s fire extinguisher and report back to Odin

 

Some good, old-fashioned Viking ingenuity

 

No trip to Newport is complete without a visit to the great stone tower famed for its role in erroneous New England Viking history

 

And what would a post to this dumb little website be without a clip of appropriately Viking themed death metal?

Longships and Mead

Saturday, August 4th, 2018

So today is National Mead Day, thank Odin! And thanks to Illinois’ own stone-carving mead-maker for imparting this wisdom, because otherwise I would probably have remained as ignorant as a giant’s hair follicle. And what better way to celebrate this holiday than by spontaneously visiting a random liquor store in the suburbs for some mead tasting hosted by the good folks from Groennfell and Havoc Meaderies?

I got all excited (like an 8 year old kid who just spent his allowance on the coolest Batmobile toy of all time) yesterday when I happened upon Groennfell’s Valkyrie’s Choice Mead completely by chance. And then also by chance, I discovered that they would be hosting this tasting event, and that it was less than half an hour away. So logic and necessity dictated the course of events that followed, and I am now one 4-pack of cranberry flavored Nordic Farmhouse Mead richer. And I was also able to try a couple of Havoc’s offerings in the process, all of which were also worthy of a horn-clinking skål. My only disappointment with this expedition was that there were only four samples to try, and that I learned that the Fire on Snow Mead (“smokey maple cinnamon mead”) is only available in the winter and at the source. But maybe that will provide an excuse to drive the chunky, 4-wheeled short-ship 3 hours north to the Colchester Mead Hall after the first snow has fallen. And is it just me or does the lower half of Groennfell’s logo strike a certain resemblance to Mjölnir? Maybe I’m just seeing what I want to see.

And on a final note, it is not only a good day for mead, but also for longships. Or more accurately, a good summer for longships, because the Draken Harald Hårfagre is plying the waters up and down the New Englandic coast all summer long. A plan to hail their vessel next weekend with a couple of my brothers-in-arms is in the works, but I sure do hope they update their schedule so we know where to go. In the meantime, this just feels entirely appropriate:

That One-Handed God of Warfare and Legal Advice Sure Plays a Mean Guitar

Saturday, May 12th, 2018


The Scandinavian invasion of Vinland continues to go strong this year. It’s not everyday that the good god Tyr intervenes with his divine providence in…Providence, Rhode Island, to be exact. And it wasn’t on a Tuesday either. For some reason Quebec received that honor this past week (really, Quebec?…well, better than New York). But anyway, he came to us in the form of his namesake band, hailing all the way from a far-off island pseudo-nation that most skraelings have never even heard of. And it was glorious.

And while I’m babbling about Scandinavia and metal and such, here’s a mindless diversion that also doubles as one of my least worst contributions to society and humanity at large:

I BRING THE SPIRIT OF TRUE NORWEGIAN BLACK METAL TO OUR CORPORATE OFFICE ENVIRONMENT

And I stole that image above from McSweeney’s twitter page. Yep, another good true story.

Winter Ravaging of the Theater District

Monday, February 19th, 2018

This February has been an unusually devastating month for Boston’s theater district, in all the right ways possible. First, Wardruna descended upon the neighborhood, bringing with them songs of ancient lore performed with appropriately ancient instruments like the kraviklyra and goat horn.

Then, when the smoke cleared and the dust settled, Myrkur and Enslaved sailed in to finish the job. Praise be to Odin for delivering this two-pronged sonic attack!

Now, if only Fejd could figure out a way to visit Vinland.

Boston’s Viking Irish Bring Massive Slaughter to Assisted-Living Elderly Home

Sunday, September 24th, 2017


Boston’s own Viking Irish march to war on the premises of the Scandinavian Living Center

“On this yesterday in the year of our Lord 2017, the forces of northern darkness descended upon the vulnerable and defenseless Nordic assisted-living home for the elderly in Newton, Massachusetts, wreaking much havoc and slaughter. Few were spared as the heathen host desecrated the grounds of the institute with the blood of the innocent, taking slaves among the able-bodied few, and plundering everything of value, including all of the oxygen tanks and the vast assortment of Scandinavian language books kept behind locked doors in the central quarters of the establishment. Never before has such senseless violence been inflicted upon Newton’s flock as punishment for the sins of man.”
   —An imaginary medieval monk living in Massachusetts in the 21st century

Sorry, but I just couldn’t refrain from introducing this entry in the tone of a disapproving monk, it was just too fun (especially given the elderly home setting), but in actuality this wasn’t the first time that such a wanton scene of death and destruction has occurred at the Scandinavian Living Center, courtesy of the Scandinavian Cultural Center and in conjunction with the Viking Irish of Boston. It was all good, clean, safe fun, conducted as part of the 4th annual Nordic Bites Food Festival, which featured various food samplings from each of the Nordic nations, live music by local band Night Tree, and, of course, the highlight of the event: epic slaughter graciously provided by the Viking Irish of Boston, who took the field promptly at 2:00 pm and battled to the death in authentic Norse fashion to the pleasure of all onlookers. It was a good day, full of merriment and celebration of both ancient Irish/Norse and modern Scandinavian culture.


The Viking Irish encampment on the lawn of the Scandinavian Living Center


Entry to the field of battle, surrounded by the booths of vendors and other representatives from across the land


The Wolves and the Ravens face off as the battle begins


Viking versus Viking


Clearly, he shall join Odin for a drink in Valhalla tonight


And the field lay strewn with the bodies of the dead


I didn’t battle, unless eating all the snacks counts


And last, but not least, the replica commemorative rune stone in front of the Scandinavian Living Center is a sight for sore eyes

Icelandic Saga Recaps

Tuesday, July 4th, 2017

So I just stumbled across the Icelandic Saga Recaps by Grayson del Faro that are being published in English over at the Reykjavik Grapevine online magazine. They are just as their name implies—abbreviated recaps of the plot lines of various sagas, with extra special attention given to all the best bits involving irrational behavior, senseless violence, and dick jokes, accompanied by amusing illustrations by Inga María Brynjarsdóttir (and the one shown at the top here is among the tamer ones…check out the illustration for The Saga of Hrolf the Tramper for something even bloodier or The Tale of Shady Halli for something gloriously ribald). At any rate, the Recaps are definitely worth checking out for anyone who enjoys the sagas and can appreciate the humor in contrasting their usually stark seriousness and some of the crazy things that transpires within them with our modern sensibilities.

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.