Posts Tagged ‘Iceland’

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.

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!

Heroes of Norse Proliferation: Nancy Marie Brown

Friday, 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

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.

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).

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!

Icelandic Lava Beer

Friday, June 28th, 2013

 photo lavabeer_zps01b3df40.png Finally! The Icelanders have begun smoking their beer (in addition to smoking their whales and their puffins). I personally can’t think of a more befitting national, Viking-appropriate meal for Iceland than one composed of smoked endangered animal, smoked cute little penguin-type thing, and smoked beer inspired by volcanic eruptions. How could you possibly go wrong with all those items sitting on your table all at the same time? The answer is: you can’t.

Plus it’s 9.4%, so knock yourself out with many and then go break down a door in a drunken rage. Odds are, you’ll only regret the monetary expenses, because Lava ain’t cheap.