Posts Tagged ‘Finland’

Taste the Sampo

Tuesday, 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

Tuesday, 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

Rekindling the Varangian Flame, Part 2

Friday, March 8th, 2019

“Send the Magyars to slaughter us all in our sleep. Slit our throats, trample our bodies, and string us up to dangle, windblown and decaying from the nearest tree.”

The upbeat positivity and general good vibes of the suicidal Viking metal death-wish music project continues as the band members of Varjagikaarti relate what happened when they finally ventured deep into the land of the Rus.

Experience the true Fennoscandian cultural insensitivity of Part 2 over at Metal Sucks now.

And for your aural pleasure, Varjagikaarti wouldn’t be what they are today if it weren’t for these guys…

And my prior interviews with other Modern Vikings are still sadly online too. Check them out if for some reason you feel so inclined. Here’s a direct link to the one about spazzing out in a Stockholm subway station:

Self-Condemned in the Tunnelbana

Rekindling the Varangian Flame, Part 1

Wednesday, February 27th, 2019

“Never have I seen a more complete denouncement of the meaning of human life than that murky, yellow obscenity that hovers above the rooftops of Miklagård like a celestial plague raining its poison down upon the feeble souls below during the darkest depths of the eternal night. It made me want to kill myself.”

And if that introductory quote doesn’t make you want to read all about the highly dysfunctional extreme Finnish metal band Varjagikaarti’s suicidal Viking metal voyage down the Dnieper River deep into the heart of old Varangian territory, then I don’t know what will.

Check out Part 1 over at Metal Sucks now.

And lest this post be wonting of a proper and thematically appropriate metal video…

And lastly, check out some of my prior interviews with other Modern Vikings too, if for some reason you feel so inclined. A couple direct links are below.

Fear and Loathing in Western Sweden

Dream Hard On

‘Tis the Season for Classic American Paintings of Pagan Finnish Santa Look-Alikes

Thursday, November 29th, 2018

THE MAGICIAN AND THE MAID OF BEAUTY
“High in the sky he saw a rainbow, and on it the Maid of Beauty.” (Wainamoinen returns home on a sledge from his exile in the icy wastes of Pohyola and attempts—extremely unsuccessfully—to flirt with the most attractive woman alive in the sky.)

Normally this dreadful, little blog focuses only on the Scandia part of Fennoscandia, but since Yule is in the air (or at least the 21st century commercialized version of it is on the shopping aisles, airwaves, etc.), it seems appropriate to deviate from that rigid stance and benignly embrace the Fenno side. Which of course can only mean: The Kalevala, Finnish metal, and/or Finnish metal based upon The Kalevala. In this particular instance, it’s specifically about the Kalevelian paintings done by N.C. Wyeth in 1912 for James Baldwin’s The Sampo: Hero Adventures from the Finnish Kalevala, which is no longer in print under the original name but has been re-released by those mighty re-printers of archaic, copy-right-expired texts, Dover Publications.

Adding to the fun trivia side of things, the venerable N.C. Wyeth was also a genuine Masshole (from Needham) who not only illustrated The Kalevala, but also illustrated other great stories such as Robin Hood, King Arthur, Treasure Island, and The Last of the Mohicans, all of which are much, much better known than The Kalevala outside of Finland. And, to use the sort of parlance favored by medieval Icelandic scribes (which isn’t what this post is about, but still), N.C. also sired Andrew Wyeth in a fruitful union between the houses of Wyeth and Bockius, and thus produced a male heir to inherit his artist’s crown, which has since passed on to Andrew’s son, Jamie. Much of the art of the Wyeth lineage is on display and online at The Brandywine River Museum of Art, but N.C.’s less-Santa-like Kalevelian works are also depicted below; the phrases in quotes are words from Baldwin’s text, and I’ve provided my own clarifications in parenthetical yellow to help put it all in context.

THE HAG OF THE ROCK
“An old, old woman, gray-eyed, hook-nosed, wrinkled, was sitting on the rock and busily spinning.”
(To prevent Wainamoinen from leaving the land of the dead, the evil hag relies on the age-old trick of failed hero-capturing: spinning an insane amount of thread that her cohort, an evil wizard, weaves together into a massive and ultimately ineffective fishing net.)

THE SLAVE BOY
“Then, at length, when all were peacefully feeding, he sat down upon a grassy hummock and looked around him, sad, lonely, vindictive.”
(Ilmarinen’s slave is pissed that the kitchen-wench put a rock in his bread.)

THE GOLDEN MAIDEN
“The flames died suddenly away, and out of the vessel there sprang a wonderful image—the image of a beautiful maiden.”
(Ilmarinen gets lonely after his entire household is mercilessly slaughtered, so he uses his unworldly blacksmith skills to create what is essentially an ancient blow-up doll, except that it’s made entirely out of gold and silver.)

And last, but not least, what would a post about Kalevelian art be without an appropriate Finnish metal soundtrack to accompany it? Because nothing screams seasonal festivity and Yuletide tradition like blasting Amorphis’ epic Kalevala concept album, Tales from the Thousand Lakes: