Wooden Toy Hail! And welcome to Scandinavian Aggression, a mediocre blog about Vikings past and present. If you aren't already bored, you can check out enlightening materials such as:

- Comprehensive Viking Booze Directory

- Sagas of Pathetic and Banal Exploration
(published at various online journals)


- Praises to Past and Present Heroes of Norse Proliferation

- Norse History for Bostonians including the Prose Edda for Bostonians (published at McSweeney's Internet Tendency)

- Modern Viking Heraldic Banners (T-Shirts full of pomp and splendor)

- Leif Eriksson Was Here: Norumbega, MA - Boston's Vinland Since 1889

- Low Quality Metal Fiction at Metal Sucks

- Thought-Provoking Materials about Alcohol and Failure at Points in Case

And tons of other random drivel having to do with Vikings and Scandinavia. Thanks for stopping by. I skål to your health,

—Rowdy Geirsson

För er som är svenska eller kan svenska/norska/danska: denna är INTE nån politisk eller rasist webbsida. Den handlar bara om vikingar och en sorts deprimerad humör. Jag hoppas att ni kan hitta något att skratta åt!

Boston’s Vinland / T-Shirt Shenanigans

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:

Heroes of Norse Proliferation: Anker Eli Petersen

February 27th, 2016


The last posting to this crappy little website discussed the importance of 1930s era travel artwork, which in a round-about way reminded me of the unsung hero of great Norse postage art, Anker Eli Petersen. This guy hails from the Faroes, which along with Iceland is pretty much the most genuinely Norse place remaining on the planet, only fewer people hail from the Faroes, let alone even visit. Anker Eli Petersen is a living artist who has been commissioned to adorn the official stamps of the Faroes with Thor, Odin, Loki, Frejya and various scenes from Norse mythology, which is pretty badass. Personally, I’d much rather have a letter show up in my mailbox affixed with a stamp illustrating the death of Odin on it rather than some stupid little graphic of an apple or fireworks or some lame shit like that.

Since the Faroes have a population of less than 50,000 people, the actual proliferation of Petersen’s work is certainly more limited in comparison to the others who have been previously featured in this “Heroes of Norse Proliferation” posting category, but that doesn’t mean he’s any less worthy of glory and a mighty skål. He used to have his own website, which sadly seems to have been born under a bad norn because it no longer rides its electronic steed through this world. In lieu of that, here are a couple of online galleries that illustrate many of his works:

http://www.germanicmythology.com/works/FAROESTAMPART.html

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Anker_Eli_Petersen

I like to view his work while drinking and listening to his fellow countrymen:

Going Vintage Scandinavian

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

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.

Heroes of Norse Proliferation: Nancy Marie Brown

November 6th, 2015

Books having to do with Vikings in some form or another seem to be experiencing a bit of a surge in popularity lately (at least compared to how the subject matter normally fares). I suspect this is mainly due to various publishers attempting to shamelessly piggy-back onto the pseudo-popularity of the History Channel’s Vikings tv show, which itself is an even more blatant attempt to piggy-back onto the enormous popularity of HBO’s Game of Thrones tv show. That aside, I condone the increase in printed Viking material out there. These publications may not reach the same echelon of public consumption that the latest celebrity-ghost-written-pile-of-vomit-splurge does, but it’s sure better than a decrease in new Viking-related publications. And one of the most noteworthy contributors to this development is Nancy Marie Brown.

While her published work does not always deal exclusively with our dearly departed Norsemen, in the past 8 years she has authored 4 books about them, which obviously clocks in at a very impressive average of one Norse book every two years. 3 of these books are unique contributions to the historical field:

The Far Traveler, which provides a historical account of the life and times of the Icelandic woman Gudrid who crossed the Atlantic to settle in Vinland.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Song of the Vikings, which provides an intriguing biography of Snorri Sturluson and relates the writing of his Edda to the geography of Iceland.

 

 

 

 

 

Ivory Vikings, which describes the context and journey of the Lewis Chessmen, some of the most famous Norse archaeological artifacts in the world.

 

 

 

 

 

The 4th is a novelization of The Far Traveler called, appropriately enough, The Saga of Gudrid the Far-Traveler.

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the things I like best is how approachable these books are. Brown’s writing style is fluid and engaging, as opposed to dry and so mind-numbingly academic that it makes you want to put your head in a meat grinder and get a little berserk with the crankshaft (and there are quite a number of relevant books out there that fall in this unfortunate category). Plus the subject matter is interesting, and always provides a fresh take or perspective rather than a simple rehash or update like so many of the other mainstream Viking history books on the market. Clearly, Ms. Brown is deserving of a mighty skål indeed!

Brewsky of the North

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

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.

Djurgårdsbron: Where Silent Gods Stand Guard

July 19th, 2015

Djurgårdsbron is a bridge in central Stockholm where Freyja, Thor, Frigg, and Heimdall stand guard…silently. Just Like in the song, only minus all the decapitations and shape-shifting into wolf-form. And for some reason Odin is missing from the entourage. But otherwise, just like in the song. And if you cross the bridge, you don’t arrive in Asgard, but rather Djurgården (essentially Swedish for “Animal Farm”…menacing, indeed), one of Stockholm’s many islands and home to, among other attractions, the official Pippi Longstocking museum (also very menacing).

The statues were created by Rolf Adlersparre while the bridge was designed by architect Erik Josephson and built by Carl Fraenell in 1897 for the world expo that took place on Djurgårdsbron the same year. The old-timey photographs look pretty hardcore, but not nearly as hardcore as medieval wolf-men wielding swords and slaying all foresworn enemies in an endless orgy of slaughter and mayhem:

June Downbeat: Some Dark, Wintry Ice[land]

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).

Self-Condemned in the Tunnelbana

April 2nd, 2015

It’s been a long time coming, but for one small moment of glory (and one day too late to be an April fool’s joke) I have failed at failing: the good folks at Jersey Devil Press have decided not to reject one of my pieces of investigative journalism. They have actually decided not to reject me in the past as well and for this I am grateful and should probably take it as a sign to be more productive rather than lamenting my successes at failing and then giving up at that and deciding to look for a beer instead.

Anyway, this counter-failing deals with the notorious and notoriously attractive Ingrid Törnblom, her exploits in Baltic raiding and slave-taking, her general disregard for me, and my general inability to behave like a normal human being while in her presence. Click the link below to learn more!

Self-Condemned in the Tunnelbana

And while we’re at it, why not check out the earlier pieces of investigative journalism? They’re highly educational and completely factual, especially the part about the hostile leprechaun taking my luggage in the vast mead hall.

Fear and Loathing in Western Sweden

Welcome to the Mead Hall

And on a final note, here is a video that I think really captures the ideals and accomplishments of Ingrid, even if the non-vocalists are a bunch of dudes.

Of Stonework and Meadcraft

March 29th, 2015

I’ve heard it said that you shouldn’t combine alcohol with certain activities involving the use of heavy machinery and/or sharp tools because if you do then you might not use your best judgement and accidentally do something clumsy like cut off your arm or leg. And then if something like that does happen then you only have yourself to blame which means that the option of starting a classic Norse blood feud goes out the window, and if there’s no chance of burning down your mortal enemies’ house then where’s the fun?

At any rate, up along the fringes of Lake Michigan Ted “Stenhugger” Strandt works with sharp tools and alcohol in the sense that he both carves badass sculptures from stone and brews his own mead. Yes, it was misleading of me to imply that drunken chainsaw operation was the activity of choice, but I have never claimed to possess a high standard of journalistic integrity and that is besides the point anyway. The point is that artfully chiseled stonework honoring Norse mythology and the craft brewing of mead are both activities that I support. The image above shows one of his latest works made of marble and entitled Eitri presenting Mjolnir, which should need no explanation for anyone who has somehow managed to find this website. Below you can see some of his mighty meadcraft. So here’s a big skål to Stenhugger for fighting the good fight!

Lastly, for those of you that might be feeling a bit confused by the name, Stenhugger is not in the business of hugging stones. Hugg actually means something quite different in the Scandinavian languages.

Keeping It Real at Aifur

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!

Gefion Plows Hard

January 25th, 2015

The goddess Gefion doesn’t fuck around when it comes to farming: when she plows she plows so hard that Sweden loses over 2000 square miles of its land area. This strip of land then ends up being dumped in the water next to the country’s southern tip, forming the Danish island of Zealand where the modern city of Copenhagen and the ancient seats of Norse kings, Roskilde and Lejre, can be found. Also, Hamlet’s castle is on this island, but that’s a tangent. The main point is that the residents of Copenhagen recognized the mythological importance of the ground upon which they bicycled and thus commissioned Anders Bundgaard to sculpt the masterpiece shown in these photos in Gefion’s honor. The work was actually donated by Carlsberg, the brewery, so it even has a legitimate and highly relevant relationship with beer as well which makes it even cooler.

For those of you who can stomach pseudo-phonetic imitation Mark Wahlberg rantings, Gefion was the hot chick who King Gylfi of Sweden banged at the very beginning of the Prose Edda for Bostonians. Of course I just followed Snorri’s lead in the telling of events with his statement that King Gylfi “offered a travelling woman, in return for the pleasure of her company, a piece of ploughland in his kingdom as large as four oxen could plough in a day and a night” (quoting Jesse Byock’s translation). In old-time Norse lingo the pleasure of female company does not usually refer to polite, non-physical conversation befitting British tea time. However, she’s also associated with virgins and the stories about her are contradictory in this sense.

Regardless of all that, Anders Bundgaard totally nailed her when it comes to the statue.

Barbarian Lord Tells It Like It Is

December 12th, 2014

Barbarian Lord is both a hardcore boozer who possesses extremely violent behavioral patterns and a keen appreciation for poetry AND the name of the recently* released graphic novel dedicated to portraying his adventures in boozing, brawling, and poetic appreciation. As Barbarian Lord’s own personal real-life skald, Matt Smith sings Barbarian Lord’s praises and spreads his renown to those of us who are not fortunate enough to lift a sword and join in his adventures firsthand. Matt’s also an all-around good guy who I’ve had the pleasure of sharing a few horns with at local venues ranging from “the highest hall” to “the lowest cave” (in his own words, and if you know the area then you can likely guess what those are).

But getting back to the book, this is the sort of work for people who like the following:

-Vikings (obviously)
-Icelandic sagas
-Heroic understatement
-Badass illustrations
-Evil trolls and other monsters
-Vicious conniving
-Sexy witches who maim innocent birds
-Demonic possession of domesticated farm animals
-And, last but definitely not least, death metal allusions

If you’re even at this weird, little website, then that should be enough to convince you to hail the hero himself at http://barbarianlord.com/ and to join his quest for justice, drinking, and killing all who stand in his way.

*I say “recently” somewhat loosely because it was actually released last summer, but being only half a year behind the times is a step in the right direction for me. The last time I blogged about a book, I was three years late. Skål for punctuality!

Heroes of Norse Proliferation: Eben Norton Horsford

October 5th, 2014

Leif Erikson Day 2014 is nigh upon us (Thursday, October 9) and so that makes it perfect time to raise horns to the memory of the great Bostonian proliferator of Norse awareness, Eben Norton Horsford. For those of you unlucky enough to have attended a high school that didn’t cover Horsford’s Norse achievements in history class (which is all of us), let’s just say he was something of an eccentric, law-abiding, late 19th century equivalent to Walter White and he had a huge boner for all things Viking. Clearly, this is the sort of person that I hold in the highest regard.

The short version is that Horsford was a chemistry professor at Harvard who invented an improved formula for baking powder, got rich off the manufacture of the stuff, and then quit his job at Harvard so he could pursue his true passion in life: populating the Boston area with statues and other relics dedicated to Norse greatness, part of which involved a full-scale effort to un-scientifically prove that Boston was the site of the great Norse Vinlandian city of Norumbega. I have a visual tour of these sites on my Boston Monuments to Norse Greatness page. I think a few people have actually maybe visited it over the years.

Anyway, a very good article (and main online source) about Horsford’s achievements can be found at the Needham Historical Society:

http://needhamhistory.org/features/articles/vikings/

And the American Chemical Society has detailed information on the baking powder side of things:

http://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/education/whatischemistry/
landmarks/bakingpowder.html

On an interesting side note, Horsford’s old baking powder factory in East Providence is now home to an upscale bakery (among other things) which is cool because nothing screams “blood-thirsty berserker violent-ass seavoyaging motherfucker” like “multigrain bread made with an organic mix of 7 grains, sunflower seeds and a touch of honey; available as a round or pan loaf.”

Last but not least, here’s a view of the old factory and Horsford’s commemorative plaque in East Providence: