Thursday, January 12, 2017


Tors strid med jättarna* - Mårten Eskil Winge (Source)
So, it's Thursday, which is Thor's day according to the old tradition, Donnerstag in German, "Thunder Day." It's also my fourth day back at work after a long holiday, it's also the day before Friday. (Another day named after one of the old Norse gods.) This week Thursday is almost as good as Friday. It's the next-but-last day of the work week. Next week it's what my colleagues and I like to call "Virtual Friday." As in, it's not really Friday but it's the last day of the work week, so it's just as good as Friday.

You may be wondering where I'm going with all this. Not really sure myself at this point. Bear with me, sometimes The Muse will toy with me and I don't where I'm going until I get there.

So I've been "binge watching" the History Channel series, Vikings. Which is a semi-historical dramatization of the life of one Ragnar Lothbrok. I say semi-historical because 1) it's on television,which makes me doubt it's historical veracity due to past performance, and 2) scholars still debate whether or not a fellow named Ragnar Lothbrok actually existed or whether he was an amalgamation of several real guys or just completely made up.

Regardless, it's an entertaining series. Lots of cool Norse mythology (which we actually studied when I was a wee lad, no, I grew up in New England, not Scandinavia AND we studied Greek and Roman mythology as well), fighting with swords, axes, and shields, lots of quaffing of ale, and a number of interesting characters. Some of the acting is a bit sketchy at times (really dude, stop trying to do a Norse accent or fire your voice coach) but overall I give the series high marks.

And I mean come on, I'm a guy. What guy doesn't like stories involving drinking, fighting, and (ahem) other activities not really suitable for mention in a blog which tries (sometimes desperately) to stay family friendly? (The series is on The History Channel, so it's not exactly Cinemax where anything goes.) And there are the Viking longships, the tattoos and the "interesting" haircuts.

Also, back in the day, the ladies could be warriors as well. Very equal opportunity they were.

Now my fascination with this series goes hand in hand with the book series I'm currently reading. The Saxon Tales is a series of books written by Bernard Cornwell (one of my absolute favorite authors) which tells the story of one young Saxon named Uhtred, from Northumbria, that's in Great Britain for those who don't know and...

What do you mean, "What's a Saxon doing in Britain?"

Well, that's something my ancestors were always asking as well. But be patient, we'll get to that.

Now Uhtred was born to a Saxon lord, but he was captured by Danes when he was young, raised by them he had a foot in both camps: the Saxons and the Danes. Incidentally, when I say "Danes," think Vikings. Not completely accurate as to go "Viking" was an activity, not a group of people. Danes (which is what the Saxons collectively called their Norse invaders from Sweden, Denmark, and Norway) who were bored, impoverished, or seeking adventure would go raiding other areas in search of wealth. That was "to go a viking," so those folks became known as Vikings.

Anyhoo. Uhtred lived in the time of Alfred the Great, King of Wessex (in Britain, think Land of the West Saxons, as opposed to Essex, East Saxons) in the years 871 to 899. In other words, an awful long time ago. The books are full of action, intrigue, romance (not too much, just enough to make the characters "come alive"), clever plot twists, and lots of bad guys. On both sides, one side being the Saxons, the other the Danes/Vikings.

So I've got this whole Viking thing going on at the moment. If I wasn't getting on in years I would no doubt get it into my head to build a longship and sail up and down Narragansett Bay, terrorizing the locals and quaffing vast quantities of mead and ale. Until the local constabulary or The Missus Herself shut me down.

And we'll have fun, fun, fun, fun, fun until...

Ahem, right.

So earlier I mentioned my ancestors wondering what the Saxons were doing in Britain. The majority of my ancestors were Celts, many living in the area we know today as Scotland, Wales, Ireland, The Isle of Man, and other places within the British Isles. Well, the Angles and the Saxons (Anglo-Saxon, get it) came a calling and a conquering and drove the original inhabitants out of all the good bits. Actually the Romans did most of that, my people though still refer to non-Scots as Sassenachs, literally Saxons, and not Romans or whatever.

For the Romans came a calling and a conquering first, driving the Britons out of all the good bits. Then they left, which opened up those lovely islands to the Saxons, then the Danes, then the Normans.

Which is part of the reason the English language is a mish-mosh of Latin and German terms. And many words spelled in English look nothing like they're pronounced. Either in the full light of day or in the darkest of nights. (See what I did there? And again?)

So that's the stuff which is entertaining Your Humble Scribe lately. And why today's post mentions Thor.

No, not the Marvel character, the real one. Oh wait, I'm a Christian, so Thor isn't real. Anymore than Jupiter, or Neptune.

Perhaps. (I really should discuss theology someday, might make for an interesting post. I like to play devil's advocate from time to time. Ya know, stir the pot.) But that's it for now, I need to go see a man about a hammer. Or something...

See you Friday, (Which is named for either Frige or Freya, either an Anglo-Saxon pagan goddess , or a Norse pagan goddess. Which, en français, is called Vendredi, named for the pagan goddess Venus. Gee, didn't the Christians get to name any of the days of the week? Of course they did, guess which one...)

Until then, farvel, or adieu, if you prefer.

Oh, and here's a theme song to haunt your dreams...

* Thor's Battle with the Giants, of which you can read more here.


  1. Possible third career here, Sarge. TV Critic. Think I might give the show a chance.

    Just don't blow your credibility by reviewing anything by Lena Dunham. Can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, yannow!

    1. *Cough*
      Which pretty much sums up my feelings about Lena Dunham.

    2. What's a Lena Dunham?
      Don't tell me.
      Sometimes it pays to be ignorant.

    3. No, but you can make a chew toy out of a sows ear.😎

    4. @Skip, don't ask. It does pay to be ignorant in this case.

    5. @Shaun - indeed, and that might be a good usage in this instance.

    6. @Skip, Concur with Sarge. Ignorance is bliss in this case and She is VERY Blissful!

    7. Very.

      Do not Google. Do not Bing. There are some things that once seen, cannot be unseen.

  2. Well if it's Uhtred ye must speak of it is The Last Kingdom ye will be wanting to watch next. Season 1 is on Netflix.

    1. Been there, done that.

      Actually watched it when it first came out, then again on Netflix. The series covers roughly the first two books in The Saxon Tales. I'm hoping that a second season gets made. I liked what they did with the first.

  3. Thursday! A good day for wenching!

    One of the fun things about the old SG1 series was trying to sort out the mishmash of Norse/Egyptian mythology.

    As one of (allegedly) Norse extraction, I'd like to think there'll be a Viking funeral for my husk after my true immortal self enters Valhalla (wenching!). As such a funeral, conducted in this part of the world, would likely cause a big range fire, I suspect that those in charge of the disposition of my husk will, like Tom Sawyer, "let on" that it's a Viking funeral.

    1. That was a good series. (Hhmm, I wonder if there is a place to "binge watch" that...)

      As I told The Missus Herself, what becomes of the shell I currently inhabit is immaterial to me once I "move out." So to speak. Though the whole Viking thing is kind of interesting. Would make a nice spectacle.

    2. They're on Amazon for $1.99/episode. Don't know if they're free anywhere else.

    3. I will drive out to see them launch the burning longship into one of Nebraska's famous fjords.

    4. I have, as of late, been pining for the Nebraskan fjords. Not to mention the beauty of the Kimball Blue, one of the handsomest parrots on Earth...

      Beautiful plumage.

  4. No need to watch Viking wars myself. Marriage to a 1st generation Viking does that.

    1. You should find some Saxons for her to go after. I've heard they like that...

  5. I've always wondered, if Viking was a misunderstanding of "hiking"?

    1. Viking is a very old word, the definition I go with is this -

      What does the word Viking mean? The word is clearly ancient, appearing in both noun and verb forms on rune stones (right) contemporaneous with the Viking age. Yet, its meaning has changed through the centuries. Even today, the word means different things to different people.

      The runic inscriptions suggest that a viking was a man who left his homeland for adventure and profit abroad, with the implication that he planned to return home with his newly won fortune and fame. The word existed in both a noun form (víkingr, the person traveling for adventure) and a verb form (víking, to travel or participate in one of these adventures).

      Even the origin of the word is debated. In the old Norse language, víkingr means a man from vík, where vík may have the sense of a bay, or the specific bay called Víkin in the south of Norway. Perhaps the name was applied because the first Viking raiders were from Víkin, or perhaps because the raiders waited in sheltered bays for their victims.

      Not sure what the Old Norse word for "hiking" is...

  6. Very good post Chris. I, too, have read the Viking stories in times past. Much fun they are.

    Paul L. Quandt

  7. Saw a great series on Netflix, The Last Kingdom. It concerns Uhtred and who became Alfred the Great. Didn't realize that during that time much of England had multiple kings in different regions.

    In this series Uhtred rocked.

    1. Concur.

      There were the kingdoms of East Anglia, Essex, Kent, Mercia, Northumbria, Sussex and Wessex. In addition, Northumbria had two "sub-kingdoms" - Bernicia and Deira.

      In the series Vikings, it's worth noting that the King of Wessex, Ecbert, was Alfred the Great's grandfather.

      A fascinating period in history.


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