Archive for the ‘Uncategorized Drivel’ Category

Native Norse American Hard Cider

Saturday, 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?

Monday, 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.

Bifrost Doth Beckon

Thursday, January 17th, 2019

Bifrost works in mysterious ways. Sometimes it reveals itself after a rain shower, leading to a place where gold may be plundered and leprechauns captured to be sold into slavery. Other times it takes the form of a stone cold rainbow bridge. But perhaps best of all is when it appears in the form of a beer bottle to soothe our weary souls on these cold winter nights.

I’ve actually been aware of this version of Bifrost’s existence for about a decade now, but this is the first time that I’ve ever actually encountered it in person, which for a sad individual who gets off on the combination of Norse anything with alcohol anything makes it a very special moment.

This liquid Bifrost is brought to us by those fine brewers at Elysian Brewing Company in Seattle (click the “seasonal” tab on their page if you want to read their official blurb about Bifrost). It’s a pale ale brewed for the grim and frostbitten season with some hints of spice and a nice medium level of bitterness, and really good. I enjoyed drinking it even more than I enjoyed taking the picture above to preserve its unadulterated glory for all digital prosperity. And no, I didn’t drink it straight out of the bottle, but rather poured it into my horn, as one should.

Norumbega Blót

Tuesday, December 18th, 2018

In the shadow of Leif Eriksson’s Tower at Norumbega, Vinland

Lo there did we honor the Leif the Lucky at the sacred site of his Vinland colony! Indeed, a make-shift blót was recently held to honor the colonizer of Norumbega with mead and metal along the banks of the not-so-swiftly moving Charles River. And though we made no actual sacrifices (unless the contents of a ceramic bottle of Dansk Mjød Viking Blod qualifies), Leif nonetheless did smile upon us by granting passage to the top of his tower, which is usually barred off because that is the era in which we live. Needless to say, the make-shift blót was a huge success and surely a bountiful harvest is in store for the coming year.*

The open-handed proginetor of barbaric nobility performed skaldic arts and generously bequeathed idols of Odin, Thor, and Tyr for alcoholic worship upon the altar of erroneous history

Hail Tyr! And how appropriate that this is being posted on a Tuesday—is this coincidence, or fate?

We also perfected the magical “Skull Splitter” disappearing trick

And what would a Norumbega blót be without a thematically appropriate song sung in Swedish but transcribed only in runes?

*Leif’s tower bears a striking resemblance to Frey’s most distinctive feature, so the fact that we intruded into what was supposed to be an “impregnable” stone shaft is ripe with all sorts of symbolic meaning.

…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.

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

“Our live show goes all the way to eleventy!”

Frozzy artwork by Matt Smith

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: