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Posts tagged “Thor’s Day

Thor’s Day Alert #33: Jim Cantore Thundersnow

Happy Thor’s Day, everybody!

If you haven’t seen the footage of The Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore reporting from Chicago during the 2011 blizzard, do not miss the following links . . . [alleged] audio conspiracies abound!

You’re surely asking why the heck I’m talking about Jim Cantore and Chicago on this blog about things Norse — especially on Thor’s Day, the subject posts of which typically relate only to Thor himself.

Well, it’s because of the flash of blue and ear-splitting thunder amidst a blizzard in the following videos; think Thor’s hammer striking in a snowstorm — you’ll never see it coming! This scene perfectly captures the pants-crapping aspects of the Mjollnir-borne thundersnow scene in my novel . . . minus, of course, Cantore and Chicago.

Yes, yes, there’s lots of fun to be poked at me here — feel free to comment and point out the other obvious differences between myth and reality, Thor and Cantore, etc. This could be fun — just keep your comments clean and I’ll post them!

On, then, with the snow — I mean show:

First up we have the [allegedly] original and unedited version of Cantore’s reaction to the 2011 Chicago thundersnow:

And here’s the [allegedly] sanitized/dubbed version:

http://www.weather.com/outlook/videos/cantore-surprised-by-thunder-snow-19541

What do you think? I like the [allegedly] unsanitized version — it shows true emotional reaction. I’m giving it up to Cantore for not reacting by dropping MF-bombs and GD’s.

He also apparently did not crap his pants . . .


Thor’s Day Alert #32: Robert Howard

Happy Thor’s Day, everybody!

I haven’t posted on Thor’s Day since August, and while I normally reserve Thor’s Day posts for things strictly Norse today I’m making an exception. Why? Because yesterday the world lost another Robert Howard.

This is an important name. If you’ve followed this blog and/or my involvement with the ezine Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, then you doubtless know of my great respect for (and influence by) a writer named Robert E. Howard. You know, the guy who gave us Conan the Barbarian. (Among other things.)

Until yesterday, I thought this Robert Howard (REH) was the greatest of all Robert Howards who ever lived.

But then a US Soldier named Robert L. Howard died.

And if you’ve read any portion of my novel excerpt, you probably understand the tremendous respect I have for honorable warriors. Which is why Robert L. Howard trumps Robert E. Howard for the title of Top Bob at Storm of the North blog.

If you’re not familiar with the soldier and great American named Robert L. Howard, do yourself a favor and check out his page at Wikipedia. If you don’t feel like reading further, then just hit RLH’s Wiki and scroll down to see the images of his many, many medals and bars — word has it he’s the most decorated US soldier of the 20th century.  (Eight Purple Hearts. Eight?  Seriously — did this guy ever get tired of being wounded? Had he no fear at all — not even of military hospitals? Did I mention his winning of The Congressional Medal of Honor — America’s highest military award — alongside two other recommendations for the same award within barely more than a year. I’m guessing 99% of soldiers never receive a single recommendation in an entire career.)

Truly, truth is stranger than fiction; no mere writer could’ve dreamed up this man’s exploits and made them believable. Thus in the case of Robert L. Howard the warrior vs. Robert E. Howard the writer, actions speak way louder than words.

So Robert L. Howard you deserve the best of all toasts, offered here for a true warrior as written in the Havamal and translated by the incomparable H. R. Ellis Davidson:

Cattle die, kinsfolk die,
oneself dies the same.
I know one thing only which never dies —
the renown of the noble dead.

Hey! (For the uninitiated — drink!)

RIP, RLH.

For more information on Robert L. Howard, visit the RLH Tribute website.


Thor’s Day Alert #31: Ragnarok, part three

Happy Thor’s Day, everybody!

As promised here’s the final part of the Ragnarok tale, as told in the Prose Edda and translated by Jean I. Young. Unlike the first and second installments, this section contains both prose and verse. Witness:

Then Gangleri asked: ‘What will happen afterwards, when heaven and earth and the whole world has been burned and all the gods are dead and all the Einherjar and the whole race of man? Didn’t you say before that everyone will go on living for ever in some world or other?

Then Third answered: ‘There will be many good dwelling-places then and many bad. The best place to be in at that time will be Gimle in heaven, and for those that like it there is plenty of good drink in the hall called Brimir that is on Okilnir [Never Cold]. There is also an excellent hall on Nidafjoll [Dark Mountain] called Sindri; it is made of red gold. Good and righteous men will live in these halls. On Nastrandir [Corpse-strands] there is a large and horrible hall whose doors face north; it is made of the backs of serpents woven together like wattle-work, with all their heads turning in to the house and spewing poison so that rivers of it run through the hall. Perjurers and murderers wade these rivers as it says here:

I know a hall
whose doors face north
on Nastrand
far from the sun,
poison drips
from lights in the roof;
that building is woven
of backs of snakes.
There heavy streams
must be waded through
by breakers of pledges
and murderers.

But it is worst [of all] in Hvergelmir.

There Nidhogg bedevils
the bodies of the dead.’

Then Gangleri asked: ‘Will any of the gods be living then? Will there be any earth or heaven then?’

High One said: ‘At that time earth will rise out of the sea and be green and fair, and fields of corn will grow that were never sown. Vidar and Vali will be living, so neither the sea nor Surt’s Fire will have done them injury, and they will inhabit Idavoll where Asgard used to be. And the sons of Thor, Modi and Magni will come there and possess Mjllnir. After that Baldr and Hod will come from Hel. They will all sit down togather and convers, calling to mind their hidden lore and talking about things that happened in the past, about the Midgard Serpent and the wolf Fenrir. Then they will find there in the grass the golden chessmen the Aesir used to own. As it is said:

Vidar and Vali
when Surt’s fire has died
will dwell in the temples,
Modi and Magni
Thor’s Mjollnir will own
at the end of the battle.

While the world is being burned by Surt, in a place called Hoddmimir’s Wood, will be concealed two human beings called Lif and Lifthrasir. Their food will be the morning dews, and from these men wil come so great a stock that the whole world will be peopled, as it says here:

Lif and Lifthrasir
in Hodmimir’s wood
will be hidden;
the morninig dews
their food and drink
from thence will come men after men.

And you will think this strange, but the sun will have borne a daughter no less lovely than herself, and she will follow the paths of her  mother, as it says here:

Glory-of-elves’ to a girl
will give birth
before Fenrir overtakes her,
when the god are dead
she will pursue
the paths of her mother.

And now, if you have anything more to ask, I can’t think how you can manage it, for I’ve never heard anyone tell more of the story of the world. Make what use of it you can.

A sad but somehow happy ending to the Norse gods and the realms they ruled, no? Sounds like a great place to start a novel!

Having effectively reached the end of Norse myth with the conclusion of the Ragnarok story, this seems like a great place to take a break from my Thor’s Day posts for awhile. (Other writing projects/interests beckon.) I’ll keep up with the Tuesday Althing posts.

Thanks for stopping by! See ya Tuesday the 18th — more Lumsk!


Thor’s Day Alert #30: Ragnarok, part two

Happy Thor’s Day, everybody!

In my prior Thor’s Day entry I posted the first part of the Ragnarok story, as told in the Prose Edda and translated by Jean I. Young. If you didn’t know, an Icelander named Snorri Sturluson wrote Prose Edda in about 1220. His goal was not only to preserve stories of Norse gods — which with the Christianization of northern Europe were threatened to be lost — but to craft a primer for other writers such that the classic ways of Nordic storytellers and poets — skalds — might also be preserved.

Snorri wrote the first part of the Ragnarok myth in prose. But he wrote the next part in verse, which was the truest form of skaldic narration. Here, then, is the second part of the Ragnarok story, in verse:

Heimdall blows loud
his horn raised aloft;
Odin speaks
with Mimir’s head;
Yggdrasil trembles,
old outspreading ash,
and groans
as the giant gets free.

How fare the Aesir?
How fare the elves?
All Giantland resounds —
the Aesir in assembly;
inhabitants of hillsides groan
dwarfs
by their doorways of stone.
Do you know any more or not?

Hrym drives from the east
holds high his shield before him,
Jormungand writhes
in giant rage;
the serpent churns up waves;
screaming for joy
ghastly eagle will tear
dead bodies with his beak.

From the east sails a ship,
from the sea will come
the people of Muspell
with Loki as pilot;
all sons of fiends
are rowing with Fenrir,
with them on this voyage
is Byleist’s brother. [Loki]

Surt from the south
comes with spoiler-of-twigs [fire]
blazing his sword
[like] sun of the Mighty Ones;
mountains will crash down,
troll-women stumble,
men tread the road to Hel,
heaven’s rent asunder.

Then occurs
Hlin’s second grief,
when Odin goes
to fight the wolf
and Beli’s bane [Frey]
turns, fair, on Surt,
then will Frigg’s
beloved die.

To fight the wolf
goes Odin’s son,
Vidar
is on his way;
sword in hand
he will pierce the heart
of Hvedrung’s son.
Thus is his sire avenged.

The famous son
of Earth falls back,
fainting from the serpent
fearing not attack.
All mankind
must abandon home
when Midgard’s buckler [Thor]
strikes in wrath.

The sun will go black
earth sink in the sea,
heaven be stripped
of its bright stars;
smoke rage
and fire,
leaping the flame
lick heaven itself.

Further it says here:

Vigrid’s the plain
where the conflict takes place
between Surt and the kindly gods.
One hundred and twenty
leagues each way
is the plain for them appointed.

So there you have it — Ragnarok in verse. There’s one more part to this, and it includes both prose and poetry. Be sure to come back for my next Thor’s Day post on August 14th to read the rest of the Ragnarok story according to Snorri Sturluson. (It has a happy ending. Sort of.)

Thanks for stopping by!


Thor’s Day Alert #24: New Tolkien book — THE LEGEND OF SIGURD AND GUDRUN

Happy Thor’s Day, everybody!

Exciting news: a previously unpublished work of J.R.R. Tolkien hits the stores on May 5th. Because so much has been written regarding the influence of Norse lore on Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, I’m astounded that his retelling of the Volsunga Saga (aka the Saga of the Volsungs) hasn’t been published prior.

the-legend-of-sigurd-and-gudrun[If Volsung sounds familiar but you’re drawing a blank, this is the legendary epic that includes Sigurd and the dragon Fafnir and, lo, a cursed golden ring. This is also the story upon which Richard Wagner based his Ring Cycle operas.]

Okay, so I’m actually more dumbfounded than astounded. For a guy like me who is endlessly fascinated by Scandivian lore, and who finds himself writing fantasy and drawing from the same deep well as Tolkien, hearing about THE LEGEND OF SIGURD AND GUDRUN feels downright mystical.

Seriously. How could such a famous tale retold by such a renown writer NOT HAVE BEEN PUBLISHED BEFORE? Where has this manuscript been stashed for the last 70 or 80 years? The financial potential alone of such a piece pretty much precludes its moldering away somewhere; I gotta give it up to (I presume) Christopher Tolkien for safeguarding his father’s notes/drafts all this time.

No good segue here, but bear with me . . .

Also of recent interest to me is Tolkien’s apparent disdain for the German composer Richard Wagner. While I enjoy some of Wagner’s work, I share Tolkien’s opinion that he took unnecessary artistic liberties with the Volsunga Saga and Norse myth in general. In THE LEGEND OF SIGURD AND GUDRUN, I’m excited to see just how well Tolkien upholds the ancient “flavour” and “rootedness” of this tale — both of which qualities he strived to infuse in his own myth-building while writing The Lord of the Rings books, and both of which qualities I suspect he felt Wagner had hijacked for the benefit of German nationalism.

I note all this because Wagner isn’t the only artist/creator who hasn’t exactly given just treatment to Norse myth — I’ve yet to find a novel that pulls it off (which isn’t to say one doesn’t exist — I just haven’t found it), and comic books, well, I think it’s fair to say Tolkien would be shocked at some of the bastardizations that have been published.

In my next Thor’s Day post on May 7, I hope to borrow from writers more knowledgable than myself in order to cobble together some interesting observations that have been made regarding Tolkien and Norse myth.

Thanks for stopping by!


Thor’s Day Alert #13: Yule

Happy Thor’s Day! Merry Christmas! God jul!

That last one is Swedish for “Good yule”. I may not get any more Norse — er, Scandinavian — than that today.

Regardless of how or what you’re celebrating this yuletide season, we probably all share in some sense of the utter madness that marks it. And I’m not talking about the tired subject of commercialism — I’m talking about too much socializing, too much noise; in short, I’m talking about over-stimulation while daydreaming of serenity.

Actually, I’m gonna let someone else talk about it. That someone? One of my all-time favorite singers and songwriters, Elvis Costello, crooning in a guest-gig with the Chieftains on one of my all-time favorite yuletide songs: St. Stephen’s Day Murders.

[St. Stephen’s Day is celebrated in the UK on December 26. As if Christmas the day before isn’t enough! Silly me, thinking we Americans are the only ones who overdo stuff.]

Enjoy — but please don’t try this at home!

Thanks for stopping by. See ya next week!