Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Things Scandinavian

Today we pay homage to Shield Sheafson and his descendents and to the Geats and the Swedes.

Firstly for their modern books. I have written previously about some of the Scandinavian literature I have enjoyed reading. Since then I have discovered ├ůsa Larsson, read a mystery set in Iceland (is that considered Scandinavia?) and been bowled over by another Henning Mankell book, Depths , which proves that you can live alone on an island eating only fish.*

Next we come to Beowulf. We got babysitters and went out to see the movie the day after Thanksgiving. I enjoyed it a lot, but I still don’t understand why it has been such a box-office success. Does everyone go to expand their knowledge of myth and watch the Great Mother do her thing, or are they just going to see Angelina Jolie? I wonder if she knew what she was getting in to? Can’t you just see Bob Newhart pitching the part to her?—

"Yes, Angelina, there are a lot of muscular men in the movie. Well, no, the translation actually calls her “a tarn-hag.” No, it’s more like “a swamp-thing from hell”. No bikini, Angelina, but you will get to raise your head out of the water. Several times—whenever there is a new king and you need a new son. No, not a cute little baby like Shiloh, Angelina, more like . . . well, let me send you the script."

They sure did make it look cold and bleak. There was lots of merrymaking and feudal carryings-on. Gody, for whom English is a fourth language, was confused by the concept of a “meat-hall”. We explained about “mead” but we could certainly understand her problem as they all sat around eating huge chunks of roasted beast, with side dishes of roasted beast, garnished with—well, you get the idea.

Scandinavia’s third contribution to civilization is IKEA This store was founded in Sweden because it takes those muscular men to carry the goods. If you buy bookcases and wardrobes, as we did the other day, it’s comparatively easy to get the boxes on the carts, into the parking lot and into a van, but bringing them into the house is quite a different story. Of course, the instructions, which you find after you open the box, indicate it needs more than one smiling naked man to bear the weight. In our case it was Ernie and Lucy. Both fully clothed. Then we had to put them together. But that’s another entry.

*Editor’s note: Let’s just hope they didn’t look like those piscatorial monsters that appear in that cute commercial about the guy who didn’t know if he was a Swede or a Geat.

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