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:

- Norse Mythology for Bostonians: A Transcription of the Impudent Edda
(the book shown immediately above, based on the humor column listed immediately below)


- Norse History for Bostonians (at McSweeney's Internet Tendency)

- Sagas of Pathetic and Banal Exploration (humor writing found on such illustrious sites as Metal Sucks, Points in Case, Slackjaw, and more)

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

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

- A Comprehensive Viking Booze Directory

Wooden Toy And tons of other random drivel having to do with Vikings, Scandinavia, metal, alcohol, and failure, which you can navigate using the menu to the right. Thanks for stopping by, even if it was an accident that you now regret. 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!

How to Drink Ale and Glare About Fiercely

July 19th, 2020

”At the worst, the game will soon be played, and others will stand where we have stood, and strive where we have striven, and fail as we have failed, and so on, till man has worked out his doom, and the Gods cease from their wrath, or Ragnarök come upon them, and they too are lost in the jaws of grey wolf Fenrir.”

Thus spoke Eric Brighteyes to his beloved Gudruda the Fair on the gloomy and downtrodden eve of his exile from Iceland, having been unjustly declared an outlaw. A very serious man, Eric’s manner of speak resembles that of Styrbiorn the Strong, which is unsurprising since Eric Brighteyes and Styrbiorn the Strong were contemporaries; both are products of Victorian England. Eric Brighteyes by H. Rider Haggard and Styrbiorn the Strong by E.R. Eddison are both early English novels of Norse adventure and relish in the language of pomp and splendor that was popular at the time of their writing.

Check out my little blurb about Styrbiorn the Strong here if you so desire: How to Dally with Whores and Lose Kingdoms

I found an old out-of-print copy published by Zebra Books in the 70s (replete with the requisite non-sensical fantasy cover art typical of the era) and naturally snatched it up. The introduction by Lin Carter in this edition does a nice job of providing some background history to both Eric Brighteyes and Styrbiorn the Strong. Eric Brighteyes has enjoyed more popularity in general, remained in print for longer, and, basically, was written by a better-known author (Haggard also wrote King Solomon’s Mines). Lin seems to prefer Eric Brighteyes over Styrbiorn the Strong, though I personally liked Styrbiorn the Strong better. But if you like one, I think you’ll like both.

Eric Brighteyes is at its heart a romance. The entire book revolves around Eric’s love for Gudruda and her love for him, and the conniving of the evil witch Swanhild to tear them apart. Eric is essentially a noble Victorian hero full of virtue who just simply happens to be living in medieval Iceland. He is joined by his berserk friend, Skallagrim, for most of the novel, and they fare about on Viking adventures, but the Eric-Gudruda-Swanhild love triangle dominates. The tale is certainly entertaining and full of adventure, but the entire plot is revealed in a highly detailed and obvious dream sequence at the very beginning, which unfortunately detracts a bit from the book’s overall effect.

For comparison, Eddison’s Styrbiorn felt like more of an actual Norse hero who just happened to speak in Victorian Era slang, rather than being a full-blown Victorian Era hero transplanted to the ancient Northlands. And the full plot wasn’t revealed at the beginning (though if you know your sagas, you can very well guess how that book ends). For those reasons, I liked Styrbiorn the Strong better, but would still wholeheartedly recommend Eric Brighteyes to anyone looking for a classic Viking adventure novel, provided the language isn’t an impediment. For myself personally, the language is part of the pleasure. Some of my favorite little quips from the book are below.

”Skallagrim drank much ale and glared about him fiercely; for he had this fault, that at times he was drunken.”

”…and the Baresark fit came on. His eyes rolled, foam flew from his lips, his mouth grinned, and he was awesome to see.”

”Women shall bring him to his end, and he shall die a hero’s death, but not at the hand of his foes.”

”The wolf howls at thy door, Björn! The grave-worm opens his mouth! Trolls run to and fro upon thy threshold, and the ghosts of men speed Hellwards!”

”My honour shall be great for the feat, if I chance to live, and if I die—well, there is an end of troubling after maids and all other things.”

”Now dimly lighted of the rising moon by turns they bore Gudruda down the mountain side, till at length, utterly fordone, they saw the fires of Middalhof.”

”For when Love rises like the sun, wisdom melts like the mists.”

”It is a sad thing,” said Asmund, ”that so many men must die because some men are now dead.”

”It must be the Faroes,” answered Eric; ”now if we can but keep afloat for three hours more, we may yet die ashore.”

”Then Eric and Skallagrim leaned upon their weapons and mocked their foes, while these cursed and tore their beards with rage and shame.”

”Unhappy shall she live, and when she comes to die, but as a wilderness—but as a desolate winter snow, shall be the record of her days!”

”Eric comes and Whitefire is aloft, and no more shall ye stand before him whom ye have slandered than stands the birch before the lightning stroke!”

”Eric stared and said, ’By Odin! I see a shape of light like to the shape of a woman; it walks upon the waters towards us and the mist melts before it, and the sea grows calm beneath its feet.’”

”In the rosy glow there sat three giant forms of fire, and their shapes were the shapes of women. Before them was a loom of blackness that stretched from earth to sky, and they wove at it with threads of flame. They were splendid and terrible to see. Their hair streamed behind them like meteor flames, their eyes shone like lightning, and their breasts gleamed like the polished bucklers of the gods. They wove fiercely at the loom of blackness, and as they wove they sang.”

”Last night as we sat on Mosfell we saw the Norns weave our web of fate upon their loom of darkness. They sat on Hecla’s dome and wove their pictures in living flame, then rent the web and flew upward and southward and westward, crying our doom to sky and earth and sea.”

Shirts Decreed by the Norns

June 23rd, 2020

Thanks to good advice by Barbarian Lord, I heeded the call of the norns, and made a new t-shirt design based on the Puffin Carcass logo. Then, another friend, who I like to refer to only as Mr. Doomsday, suggested an additional design based on the cover of Norse Mythology for Bostonians. So I heeded the call of the norns again. These shirt designs are now up on the Scandinavian Aggression Spreadshirt Shop, which was actually created way back in 2016, but neglected and left to rot until now. So it’s experiencing a bit of an unheralded rejuvenation. Skål to that, I guess.

21st Century Eyrbyggja Saga

May 30th, 2020

I recently finished reading Saga: A Novel of Medieval Iceland by Jeff Janoda and what an immersive experience it was! The book is billed as a modern retelling/novelization of Eyrbyggja Saga, which is correct, but also slightly misleading because the book really just focuses on a fraction of the overall saga; the action corresponds to chapters 30 through 38 for those of you familiar with the Hermann Pálsson/Paul Edward translation (these are the chapters that focus on the land dispute between Snorri the Priest and Arnkel).

It is quite an achievement to take 20 pages of very curt, matter-of-fact saga story-telling and transform it into an engaging 350 page novel, and that’s what we have here. Janoda has painted the characters to his own styling in a way that completely meshes with the original saga material and that remains believable. Additionally, minor characters from the original saga are given significantly more attention and some new ones are invented to flesh out the narrative. This is particularly true in the case of Janoda’s female characters, since women weren’t given nearly as much attention by the original medieval scribe. They play critical roles in the plot and help move the story forward. The various characters, major and minor, all play their parts in accordance with the original saga and while filling in the in gaps of the original in a consistent manner. The book is true to the original source while adding its own creative take on things, and the blending of the two is incredibly well done.

I obviously highly recommend this book, and if you’re the type of person who somehow managed to find and visit my website, odds are you’re also the type of person who would enjoy it. It’ll make for some great summer reading. And if retellings of sagas are your thing, I’d also strongly recommend Nutcase by Tony Williams.

Helgafell, the Holy Mountain, near the location of Snorri’s farm

Álftafjörður, the fjord around which the action takes place

The Gods of Sweden’s Nationalmuseum

May 4th, 2020

The Big 3 abide in a courtyard near the entrance to the Nationalmuseum in central Stockholm. There, Odin, Thor, and Balder are carved in stone, and look very, very austere. They also look more Roman than Norse, with their togo-like attire barely covering their impeccable bodies of Italian Carrara marble, but that was the fashion of sculpture at the time of their creation. They were created in the 19th century by Bengt Erland Fogelberg, who also created many other magnificent statues, particularly of Swedish kings, which are largely located in very prominent outdoor spaces in Stockholm and Gothenburg.

But back in The Sculpture Courtyard, the Roman effect is further augmented by the presence of members of the actual Roman pantheon (Venus is present). The entourage is completed with famous statesmen, artists, and authors from Swedish history.

Nationalmuseum is a treasure trove of Swedish art. It covers a vast array of eras, styles, and themes, but for anyone interested in romanticized visions of the pagan Scandinavian past, it must be noted that it also hosts one of the greatest contributions to that particular niche of all: Carl Larsson’s painting, Midvinterblot, as shown below.

Keep On Rockin’ in the Norse World

April 5th, 2020

Image of Gamla Uppsala

It’s plague season, so I entertained myself by jumping on the ol’ Bookshop bandwagon. By which I mean: I created a list of obscure Norse-inspired books on the site, which is still only in beta-mode. It serves as a nice counterpoint to Amazon, though, because a portion of proceeds go to local, independent bookstores, so they might have a chance in hell of re-opening sometime later this year. It’s also good for shameless self-promotion and has an enticing affiliate program.

Anyway, if you’re someone who might be looking for something Norse-ish to read that isn’t the usual Tolkien, Gaiman, or elves and dwarves fare, then please take a look. It features some overlooked/forgotten Viking adventure classics, and some bizarre recent offerings that engage with such timeless topics as Grettir the Strong going nuts in a destitute present-day housing complex, the domestication of endangered Finnish trolls, and the utterly brutal demise of the last Norse Greenlanders. The list be on Bookshop here:

Keep On Rockin’ in the Norse World

Norumbegan Takeover at Idle Hands

March 3rd, 2020

CANCELLED!!!!!

You only need one guess as to the reason why. When/if this is rescheduled, the update will be posted here. Until then, tusen tack och lycka till.

On March 29th, Matt Smith and I will be commiserating, consuming beer, and listening to ambient Norse music at Idle Hands Craft Ales in Malden, Mass. We’ll also be peddling our wares (because that’s the kind of people we are).

So, if you’re in the area, and fancy listening to the likes of Wardruna and talking about Egill Skallagrímsson’s horse-head-skewered nithing pole over a pint of Honeyball New England IPA or Check Raise American Stout, please do join us!

The Norumbegan non-tap takeover starts at noon, right when when the pilates/yoga class is ending. Here’s the official event page:

Raise a pint to the old gods at Idle Hands

The Art of Vikings, Metal, and Viking Metal

January 7th, 2020

One of the great things about the internet, besides the ability to waste time by blabbering and shouting into its gaping abyss, is the ability to descend into its gaping abyss, doing nothing, except perhaps discovering badass things that you might have never otherwise ever encountered. And it was on one of these internet time-wasting expeditions that I inadvertently discovered the awesomeness of Christian Sloan Hall’s art. Sometimes the norns smile on you, even when you’re doing jack shit.

Anyway, Christian Sloan Hall is an artist who dabbles heavily in Norse themes, metal themes, and Norse-metal themes, which are all things that I highly condone. It’s an excellent body of work and his pieces have adorned official band t-shirts, backdrops, and posters, and have been found in the pages of both Metal Hammer and Terrorizer. A smattering of the bands that he has worked with include:

Amon Amarth
Dimmu Borgir
Heidevolk
Testament
Shrapnel
The Crown
High On Fire

(If you don’t recognize any of those names, then you would probably be better served by going here instead.)

There are many more pieces than can be shown here, but this is an introductory sampling to give you a taste:





And to view more of his work, all you need to do is visit his official website, store, or one of his online profiles (facebook in particular has an extensive gallery):

American Vendetta
DeathLord
Deviant Art
Facebook
Twitter

Lastly, while I normally blabber into the gaping abyss about art by artists who are long since dead and gone, if Mr. Hall’s work has whetted your appetite for relevant viewing options by other actual living folks, check out these earlier posts in which I blabbered about the excellence of noble brutishness and truly epic postage.

Gustaf Tenggren’s Tomtar and Troll

November 18th, 2019

Poor old Gustaf Tenggren, he just doesn’t get the credit that he deserves for his tomtar and troll work. John Bauer usually receives all the glory, and it’s much deserved, but he wasn’t the only one working with these Nordic gnomes and trolls and deep, dark woods. And in case you’re wondering, Bland Tomtar och Troll is an annual Swedish anthology of fairy tale-esque illustrations dating back to 1907. John Bauer was the first artist to take up the reins for the series, and Gustaf Tenggren followed him as the second.

But Tenggren hasn’t acquired quite the same degree of renown for his gnomes and trolls. Instead, he’s better known for his classic American children’s books and early animated movies like these:

But before all that, Tenggren got his start in Gothenburg and illustrated ten editions of Bland Tomtar och Troll. Then in 1920 he took the long voyage to Vinland where Little Golden Books and Disney awaited. After moving around the land among Ohio, New York, and Hollywood, he finally settled down with his wife in Norumbega—specifically on an island off the coast of Maine—because it reminded him of Sweden. And there he lived till his death in 1970. Below are some more examples of his folkloric/fairy-tale work, as well as a few links to more authoritative sources about the man.

The first link is to Lars Emanuelsson’s website about Gustaf Tenggren. Emanuelsson is pretty much an expert on Tenggren and has authored the book on the man (which is only available in Swedish in Sweden, of course). This site was the one that first opened my eyes to Tenggren’s glory:
Gustaf Tenggren’s World

The Saturday Evening Post has a good article about Tenggren’s life, with an emphasis on his role in early Disney animated films:
Gustaf Tenggren: The Man Who Shaped Disney’s First Animated Movies

Tulane University has a nice little blurb about the man, too, related to a larger art exhibit on display there:
Once Upon a Canvas: Exploring Fairy Tale Illustrations from 1870-1942

Cryogenically Frozen Fantasy Vikings

November 2nd, 2019

“‘If the King says, “Charge that army over there,” and you say, “Which one?” and he says, “The one that outnumbers us twentyfold in that superb natural defensive position just under that hill with the sheep,” then you do it. And if it works you say, “What a brilliant general the King is,” and if it doesn’t you go to Valhalla. Everyone’s a winner, really.'”

Tom Holt‘s Who’s Afraid of Beowulf? is a goofy book about Vikings, as that quote up above should make perfectly clear. The premise is pretty simple: a crew of slumbering Norsemen are awoken for the first time in a thousand years when their enchanted burial site is disturbed by present day archaeologists in the north of Scotland. What ensues is a bizarre romp through Britain as the Vikings attempt to stop their ancient arch-nemesis, the evil sorcerer-king, from doing something terribly wicked and cruel. Along the way they complain about the taste of seagull meat, threaten BBC camera crews to do battle, and visit the British Museum to view its Viking artefacts.

Leading the bewildered Norsemen in their adventure in the modern era is Hildy, the archaeologist and main protagonist. The Norsemen themselves sport names familiar from the Sagas: Arvarodd, Bothvar Bjarki, etc., which is a nice touch. And last, and certainly least, in my view anyway, are the two electrical board-game-playing spirits known as Zxerp and Prexz who also accompany the Vikings. In general the book is akin to a Douglas Adams or Terry Pratchett novel, but with time-traveling Vikings as its “thing.” All in all, it’s a pretty fun time if you enjoy this sort of light-hearted nonsense.

And one final note: the book has absolutely nothing to do with Beowulf. There’s a passing reference to the old boy toward the end of the book, but all in all, it’s a title that makes very little sense. My guess is that the publisher decided that using the name Beowulf in the title would help it sell, but that’s just a guess. Maybe it was chosen for some other esoteric, artful reason to which I am completely blind. This would have all happened back in 1988 when the book was first published (I really drag my feet on these things). And in each addition released since then, it seems like the publishers have really nailed it with some bizarre cover artwork. I especially like the weird version up top with the guy dangling from the front of a long ship (something that never happens in the actual storyline).

Anyway, Who’s Afraid of Beowulf? is basically just an amusing, light read for those who enjoy the wit and humor in the passages that follow these other examples of some of the book’s wondrous covers:

“‘No, no,’ said Hildy. ‘I dig up ancient things buried in the earth. Things that belonged to people who lived hundreds of years ago.’
‘Do you really?’ asked the King. ‘We used to call that grave-robbing.'”

“‘I know a couple dealers of antiquities down in London…you remember London?’
‘Still going, is it?’ asked the King, raising an eyebrow. ‘You surprise me. I never thought it would last.'”

“When the sorcerer-king panicked, he tended to do so in Old Norse, which is a language admirably suited to the purpose, if you are not in any hurry.”

“The King overruled her; if Angantyr didn’t get something to eat other than rabbit pretty soon, he suggested, he would start to whine, and that he could do without.”

“‘The Castle of Borve,’ said the King, ‘was built for my father, Ketil Trout, by Thorkel the Builder. My father was a bit of a miser, I’m afraid, and, since he was forever going to war with all and sundry, usually very hard up. So when he commissioned the castle from Thorkel, the finest builder of his day, he stipulated that if there was anything wrong with the castle on delivery Thorkel’s life should be forfeit and all his property should pass to the King. Actually, that was standard practice in the building industry then.'”

“Arvarodd was staring. Hildy prodded him in the ribs, but he didn’t seem to notice. ‘That’s mine,’ he whispered.
‘Are you sure?’ asked Hildy.
”Course I’m sure. Given to me when I killed my first wolf. Sure, it’s only bronze, but has great sentimental value.’
‘Keep your voice down,’ Hildy hissed.
‘Bergthora said if I didn’t chuck it out and get a new one she’d give it to a museum,’ went on the hero of Permia. ‘I never thought she’d do it.'”

“‘It is time for us to go feast forever in Odin’s golden hall. Roast pork,’ he added before Angantyr could interrupt, ‘and all the mead you can drink. At the head of the table sits Odin himself; at his right hand Thor, at his left Frey. With her own hands Freyja pours the mead, and the greatest of heroes are the company. There we will meet many we have known, many of whom we have sent there, in the old wars which are now forgotten. They say that in Valhalla men go out to fight in the morning, and at night all those who have fallen rise up again to go to the feast, and fight again the next day. There is also, I am assured, a swimming pool and a sauna.'”


True Norwegian Tapestry Art

September 8th, 2019

Hail to the Allfather of Norwegian Art Nouveau tapestries inspired by Norse history and Scandinavian folklore! Obviously, that can only mean one person: Gerhard Munthe, of course. A household name on par with Nils Blommér, Hans Gude, and Mårten Eskil Winge, så klart.

Back in 1891 Munthe declared that the design of products coming out of his homeland weren’t Norwegian enough in their aesthetics, so he took it upon himself to attempt to rectify the situation. Most of his efforts were focused on items related to interior design, and so he dabbled not only with tapestries, but also with furniture, silverware, and porcelain, among others. He became well-known for his tapestries and interior designs, but really seemed to relish his work in illustration and painting the most, even if those efforts didn’t garner quite the same degree of acclaim.

That tapestry up at the top of this post is Munthe’s ode to the Battle of Hjörungavágr, and is presently property of Nordenfjeldske Kunstindustrimuseum, though a replica of it appears to be on loan at the American Swedish Institute’s new Norse Saga Room in Minnesota, so that’s cool.

Anyway, here’re a couple more of his tapestries:
This one’s called The Suitors (The Daughters of the Northern Lights). And while grooms as polar bear are cool, anyone curious about a reversal of bear-courtship gender roles should really give Corwin Ericson’s Swell a read.

This one appears to just be called Saga. I couldn’t find much more info about it. Yup.

But Munthe’s work beyond tapestries also deserve special note, especially since he illustrated the 1899 Norwegian edition of Snorri Sturluson’s Heimskringla. So here’re a couple examples from that:

And for more on Gerhard Munthe himself, these are some good links:

Nasjonalmuseet: Gerhard Munthe – Enchanted Design

Apollo Magazine: Gerhard Munthe – A Madcap Medievalist in 19th-Century Norway

Monster Brains’ Gerhard Munthe Image Gallery

Native Norse American Hard Cider

August 17th, 2019

And the journey deep into the darkest…depths of Norumbega continues, with alcoholic apple-based beverages! What could be more enticing than that?

As my previous post so ineloquently explained, the myth, the legend, and the glory of Norumbega lives on in scattered locations and shape-shifting forms in the wilds of the state of Maine. Which, in a certain manner of thinking, actually kind of makes some sense, since Maine was basically once a colony of Massachusetts, which is the epicenter of Norumbega.

At any rate, this time the Norumbegan subject of focus is the Norumbega Cidery in New Gloucester, Maine. It is a quaint and lovely gård set at the edge of some dark woods that is working to bring traditional cider-making techniques back for modern Vinlandians to enjoy, including growing its own apples in its own orchard. And the cider is quite good, too. When I visited there were approximately half a dozen varieties available for sampling; the elderberry enhanced cider was a stand-out for me. They even have live music during their weekend tastings, which adds to the rural-rustic atmosphere and pairs extremely well with refreshing fruit-based beverages. It’s definitely a spot worth visiting, even if you’re not a geek of false New England Norse history.

So raise a horn and skål to Norumbega Cidery!

The Legend of Norumbega Lives On!…in Bangor, Maine?

August 5th, 2019

Well, it’s not everyday that traces of Leif Eriksson’s fabled and ancient New England Norse city of Norumbega are accidentally stumbled upon! In this particular case, the trace is that of the Norumbega Parkway in Bangor, Maine, which is probably best known for being the home of Stephen King and a very large statue of Paul Bunyun.

Anyway, the Norumbega Parkway is a mostly disgraced little urban park on the edge of Bangor’s downtown, on an artificial island in the middle of the Kenduskeag Stream and it doesn’t really seem to acknowledge its noble ancestry in any shape, way, or form other than in its name. But that’s enough to get me all hot and bothered to the point of posting about it on this ignoble website.

Apparently, there had once been an actual Norumbega Hall where the Parkway now exits. Not exactly a proper mead hall, but a hall nonetheless. Then a fire came along and wiped it out. But you can still see an old-timey photo of what it looked like over at The Maine Memory Network site if you wish. And The Cultural Landscape Foundation has a couple paragraphs of good historical info about the place, too.

But the fun doesn’t end there! Maine is apparently the promised land of bizarre honorings to fabled, never-existent North American Norse cities, so this is just the first in what will be several sorry attempts to cast light on these new “findings.” I know, I know, we can all just barely contain ourselves.


Lo there do I see the Norumbega Parkway! And lo there do I also see a glimmer of the fallen warrior in red non-chain mail sleeping it off on a secluded public bench in the shady distance.


I was standing on the outside, looking in.


Of course Lady Victory is here; this is a pseudo-indirectly Norsely inspired site, after all.


Genuine ancient New English Norse artillery.


What a sad little rune stone. What happened to its ornate inscriptions? And to whom was it raised for commemoration? Most likely, we will never know.

Taste the Sampo

June 18th, 2019

Life somehow just feels a little less trite and meaningless when you discover that an entire series of Finnish beers based on The Kalevala exists. Of course, we may be all speeding headlong towards a final destination six feet below ground (and many Finnish bands do their best to remind us of this) and it may feel like Ragnarök just keeps getting closer and closer (and many Swedish bands do their best to remind us of this), but until our personal or collective worlds are torn asunder, we at least have actual, genuine, Ostrobothnian-brewed Kalevalian beer! And proper graphic design to accompany it! Which is what this disgrace of a rambling post is mostly about.

This is partly because Ylikylä Olut Oy is a small brewery, and thus they don’t distribute to Vinland, and thus consuming their glorious nectar is something of a frustrating impossibility unless you live near their home. However, admiring their beer labels from afar is much easier.

And so praise be to Asko Leinonen for creating these works of mythological alcoholic art! Several of his badass label designs are shown below, and more may be viewed on his portfolio here, which is definitely worth checking out.

And I mean, really, who wouldn’t want to visually admire or taste those extra special bitters of Ilmarinen or Väinämöinen?

And hey! If you actually read this far, then maybe check out Corwin Ericson’s book Swell. It presents a new, interesting interpretation of the sampo. And we all need new, interesting interpretations of the sampo.

The Trials and Tribulations of Domesticating Wild Finnish Trolls

June 4th, 2019

When I get back home with a fresh pile of books, euphoric about my coming meeting with Martes—now so soon, so soon—the first thing that happens is I step on a troll turd. Anyone who would complain about miserable homecomings—the kids have been making taffy and not cleaned up, their husband’s flat on the sofa, drunk out of his mind—well, none of them has to step on troll shit in their own hallway. Naturally, the shit’s been neatly pushed under the doormat so my weight squashes it out on to both the underside of the mat and parquet.

So, this post is not exactly about Vikings, but a novel that seriously engages the reader with the practicalities of toilet-training a wild, Finnish troll somehow still seems very relevant to the thematic nature of this sorry little website. And so here we are. The book in question is Ennen päivänlaskua ei voi (in English: alternatively Not Before Sundown, or Troll: A Love Story, depending on where you live) by Johanna Sinisalo. And damn, is it weird.

The book takes place in Tampere and the premise is basically that the main character, Angel, gets home after drinking one night only to find some teenage thugs kicking an abandoned baby troll outside his building, so he chases them off and takes the troll in and starts to raise it as though he had rescued a stray dog or cat. In fact, the book presents trolls as an endangered species related to cats: Felipithecus Trollius, within the Felipithecidae i.e. Cat-Ape family, which was a brilliant touch. The reader then follows along as Angel struggles to house-train his new troll and becomes increasingly neurotic and paranoid in his interactions with veterinarians, past boyfriends, and abused women as he slowly devolves into a less-than-highly functional member of society. It’s a totally bizarre but fun ride for anyone who is interested in something as unique as this, but it will probably never make its way on to the U.S. bestseller lists, and that fact itself can be interpreted both as a sign of its originality and its quality.

And since some really bad life decisions led you to this website in the first place, why not continue on that downward trajectory and check out some earlier posts that also deal with trolls while you’re here? Exactly. But they’re below anyway:

Gateways to Trolldom

The Great Norwegian Trolldomizer

Heroes of Norse Proliferation: Jackson Crawford

May 2nd, 2019

Lo there! Spring is finally back in the dark gray Norumbegan air and that can only mean one thing: that I don’t know what that one thing is, and so rather than trying to find out, I am instead updating this pathetic, little excuse of a blog. But it’s not all bad, because this update involves a rare addition to the digital hall of the Heroes of Norse Proliferation with the induction of the one (and probably only) person alive who describes himself as “like if you crossed a viking and a cowboy, but got all recessive traits:” Jackson Crawford.

I first became aware of Dr. Crawford’s work about a year and a half ago when I inducted Dr. Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough into this very same mostly unknown location on the outer fringes of obscure cyberspace. We succeeded in exchanging a few friendly messages through the digital ether (thanks be to the elves) and then she dropped an atomic Norse bomb by sending me a link to Jackson Crawford’s Tattúínárdǿla saga: If Star Wars Were an Icelandic Saga. Which is pretty much exactly what it says it is, and follows the story of the family of Anakinn Himingangari and Lúkr Anakinsson in proper saga fashion. Which is exactly the sort of thing I admire.

The aforementioned Saga of the People of the Tattúín River Valley was something Dr. Crawford penned back in his pre-Dr. days, and now he teaches Scandinavian culture and literature at the University of Colorado. He has also published his own translations of medieval Scandinavian myths and sagas (so far The Poetic Edda and The Saga of the Volsungs).

And he also provides numerous insights and valuable information about all things pertaining to Norse everything for the masses on his epic youtube channel, which is an especially potent platform of Norse proliferation. Particularly of interest (to me) is his rendition of the Hávamál in cowboy dialect since I like things that play with language in bizarre, geeky Norse ways, and his lessons and auditory examples covering the pronunciation of Old Norse. You just can’t get this type of information down at the Bunker Hill Community College.

And that makes it all the more worthy of raising a horn for a proper skål indeed!