Posts Tagged ‘Boston/New England’

…And Now the Exhibit has Ceased to Be

Monday, October 1st, 2018

Nothing lasts forever and everything must die, even inanimate Viking museum exhibits like the one currently undergoing its own personal Ragnarok in Connecticut. But before it started its walk down Hel-Road, The Vikings Begin lived a glorious warrior’s life. The collection of primarily Vendel Period artifacts left their home in Uppsala to discover new shores and spread the story of their shaping of the subsequent Viking Age. And what better place to kick off the exhibit’s Vinland tour than Mystic Seaport, which is not only a badass historic maritime museum in its own right, but also just down the road from where Julia Roberts once served pizza back in the ’80s?

I had the honor of joining one of my brothers-in-arms and his shield maiden for the four-wheeled voyage to visit the exhibit shortly before it met its own predetermined fate yesterday. And it was a great exhibit full of authentic swords, shields, helmets, and brooches galore, as well as some nicely-done ship reconstructions, including one of that was used in the early research-and-development phase of the construction of the Draken Harald Hårfagre, which itself called into Mystic Seaport. And the multimedia bit was a cool icing on the cake: a grim but highly atmospheric video about ancient pagan sacrifice in all its corpse-painted and ritualistic black metal splendor.

And just as the world will rise again, fresh and new after utterly cataclysmic destruction brings it to an end, so will The Vikings Begin begin anew at the Nordic Museum in Seattle in just a few weeks.

Stone Cold Rainbow Bridge

Thursday, September 13th, 2018


I’ve written about Boston’s mighty Longfellow Bridge before (scroll towards the bottom of the Leif Eriksson Norumbega page if you’re curious), but I’ve never had the pleasure of actually drifting aimlessly by it in a shallow-hulled paddling vessel that could never ever hope to possibly survive a full-blown voyage across the North Atlantic. Until now.

At long last, I finally got up close and personal with those mighty salt and pepper shakers. And they are indeed both mighty and glorious. On the one hand, I lament that they don’t build bridges like this anymore, because look at that ornate stone detailing! And who wouldn’t want the prow of a Viking longship to protrude from every pier of every bridge? But then on the other hand, the Longfellow Bridge suffers from a lack of structural integrity which isn’t helped by the trains that rumble across it every few minutes. But that also has more to do with neglect and disrepair than anything else, so shame on that. But visually, it’s still going strong, and should be structurally healthy again by year’s end.

And of course what would a pointless post to a pointless blog be without an embedded link to some meaningful and topically appropriate metal?

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:

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

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:

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.

Barbarian Lord Tells It Like It Is

Friday, 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

Sunday, 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:

New England Coastal Sampo

Sunday, August 31st, 2014

“This was Estonindian black metal dub. Music for wounded bears as they shrugged off tranquilizer darts. A genre so conclusively suicide-inducing, blue-ribbon Congressional panels were afraid to listen to it. If Francis Scott Key had been a ninth-century raider whose head was still throbbing and clanging from an ax-blow to the helmet, standing with one hand braced on the dragon prow of his longship watching his enemies’ tarred warships burn in an uncanny blue bituminous haze, while unseen galley slaves chanting the stroke rumbled the ship from below, he may have closed his eyes, thought of Ragnarok, and composed an anthem like this.”

The above passage is taken from page 229 of Corwin Ericson’s Swell, and it epitomizes everything that I like about the novel, which is easily the best that I’ve read in the past few years. The book is set on a fictitious island off the coast of Maine and follows the misadventures of slacker/protagonist Orange Whippey as he gets sucked into a bizarre series of events involving cranky old fishermen, highly literate Korean smugglers, a North Atlantic whale-herding skald, and an intimidating Thor-cult priestess. This is a book for anyone who enjoys the following:

-Quirks of coastal New England culture
-Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
-Metal (the music)
-Penis humor
-Norse mythology
-Experimentation on whales
-The Kalevala
-Alternate Abenaki/Sami history

The book was actually published in 2011, but I sadly didn’t discover it until a few weeks ago, since I have a great talent at being behind the times. I can at least claim to be the person who ordered amazon.com’s last in-house copy (but you can still get it through one of their affiliate vendors, which you should do). If further convincing is needed, check out these links, provided by Corwin himself, since we’re facebook friends (which makes it official):

http://mymemoriesofafuturelife.com/2011/12/13/the-undercover-soundtrack-corwin-ericson/

http://www.largeheartedboy.com/blog/archive/2012/06/book_notes_corw.html

The Prose Edda for Bostonians, Part 2: In Which King Gylfi of Sweden Learns That Middle-Earth is Just an Eyelash on the Celestial Gallows Pole and That the Real Gandalf was Originally a Filthy Maggot

Friday, December 13th, 2013

And continuing from where we left off last week…

The Prose Edda Part 2: In Which King Gylfi of Sweden Learns That Middle-Earth is Just an Eyelash on the Celestial Gallows Pole and That the Real Gandalf was Originally a Filthy Maggot

And while we’re on the topic of Tolkien references, why not enjoy a little Silmarillion music from Blind Guardian?

The Prose Edda for Bostonians: Gylfaginning, Part 1: In Which King Gylfi of Sweden Buys Sex, Goes Drinking at Asgard, and Learns about the Time When Odin Instigated the Cosmological Frost Giant Genocide

Friday, December 6th, 2013

Time to get in touch with your inner Bostonian and touch up on your Norse mythology…at the same time…

The Prose Edda for Bostonians: Gylfaginning, Part 1: In Which King Gylfi of Sweden Buys Sex, Goes Drinking at Asgard, and Learns about the Time When Odin Instigated the Cosmological Frost Giant Genocide

This is the first in a 10+ part series that will be running over at McSweeney’s roughly every two weeks or whenever McSweeney’s feels like posting the next update (although part 2 will be running one week from today). I would hope that all ten of you who have somehow managed to stumble across this blog already know that the Prose Edda is Snorri Sturluson’s epic contribution to our knowledge of Norse mythology, and that it should then also come as no surprise to you that the final part of this Southie-inspired rendition will end in raging fires with everyone and everything dying. I’ll skål to that!

Here’s something appropriate to help get you in the mood:

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!