Thursday, May 18, 2006

Parsley, Sage, Cholesterol and Time.

CDs in Play: Metallica, Master of Puppets. John Coltrane, The Complete Africa/Brass.

Fast Food Nation

I've read the book so I may as well see the movie. Fast Food Nation: The Dark side of the All-American Meal by Eric Schlosser is an engaging, investigative polemic about the business, marketing and labour practices of the American fast food, cattle and agricultural industries and the impact it is having on American society in terms of economics and health. (Click here for a sample of Schlosser's writings on the subject) The film is by Richard Linklater(Slacker, Dazed and Confused, Before Sunrise, School of Rock, A Scanner Darkly. It isn't a documentary, but a fictional film inspired by Schlosser's book from the point of view of people who work in the fast food industry.
Perhaps this approach will work, since Morgan Spurlock's polemical film, Super Size Me, has covered similar ground to Fast Food Nation. (Spurlock interviews Schlosser in the DVD extras) Schlosser has a page on Wikipedia, which also has a link to his critics in the fast food industry. (also see this link)

Close Calls

I have had some close calls with skunks in the past. I have had a few encounters with nervous skunks coming around corners, barrelling out of peoples' back yards and out at me. Once, while driving fast along 10th Ave in New West a whole family of skunks came running out from a yard, padding across 10th and prompting me to quickly pump the brakes to a avoid a smelly accident that would likely have rendered my car undrivable for some time.
Today I saw a kid on his bike half-heartedly pursuing a skunk down a path bordered by chainlink fencing. The kid seemed to think it was funny to see a skunk running away from him. Perhaps he's just a half-wit? Anyhow the skunk cleared the fencing and came around the corner making a b-line straight for me and the front door. The door sticks and I almost didn't get inside in time. (no, I refuse to tempt fate with a creature equiped with an anal scent gland capable of spraying 7-10ft away)
When the coast was clear I left, only to encounter the little bugger a few houses down. It started to come my way again, but it was 20 ft away this time and I just make a clacking sound with my tongue causing it to run away.

Oh, Those Vikings

It is amazing the things you learn when you read a new book. I picked up The Vikings by Jonathan Clements last week. Unlike so many other scholars on the Norsemen, Clements looks beyond the typical scope of Viking investigation - the 793 AD raid on Lindisfarne to the Battle at Stamford Bridge/Battle of Hastings 1066 AD - to examine their earliest history and society up to about the 12th or 13th century.
There is a great deal about Norse mythology that I do not know. Books I had attempted to read as a kid were often the products of Victorian or Edwardian English authors, who seemed interested in presenting a vastly cleaned up and straight-forward mythology. I knew that much of it had been written down and relayed to us through Snorri Sturluson, (b. 1178- d. 1241) an Icelandic politician, poet and historian who was also a Christian. Sturluson pulled together an assortment of different myths (including some of Finnish, Estonian and Saxon origin) and created a somewhat cohesive mythology. (there are elements of the Norse creation myth that will have you scratching your head)
One of the thing I knew was that Yggdrasil, the World Tree, was tended to by the three Norns - Urd, (Fate) Verdandi (Being) and Skuld. (Necessity) I knew about the eagle, Viðofnir, and the hawk who sits between his eyes, Veðrfölnir. (why it does this is a mystery to me) The Eagle is the rival of Níðhöggr, or Malice Striker, a dragon who knaws at the roots of Yggdrasil. I seemed to have missed that there is a squirrel messenger named Ratatoskr (Drilling Tooth) in the World Tree myth, who couriers insults between the eagle and Níðhöggr.
I have also learned that the Valkyries may have been modelled after the typical Viking wife, urging their husbands on into battle and bloodshed so that they may maintain good standing in the community. A woman's worth was based on the worth her husband's, so Scandinavian wives often fiercely goaded their men on into action. As Clement states on Page 27, "The last bastion of Viking Machismo, it often seems, lay not with themselves, but in their wish to appease their women."
So the Valkyries have names like Battle Bright, Killer, Sword-Time, Drunken Brawling, Taunts, Extreme Cruelty, Blame, (a possible other personification of the Norn Skuld) Unstable and Bossy. War, Battle, Chaos, Devastation and Clash were all personified as female as well.
And Christianity gets labelled as misogynist...


Blogger Geosomin said...

I'll have to check out that viking book. Ever since your idea for a viking pop up book I've had a hankerin for some viking lore. Ayy other books you'd suggest besides this one?

19 May, 2006 13:34  
Blogger Magnus said...

Hmmm... well Clement mentions the Magnus Magnusson book, which is a good beginning. He's an engaging writer and Magnusson gives a good overview of the world of the Norsemen. Johannes Brøndsted is pretty standard. Elsie Roesdahl is another faithful stand-by. Again, Clement refers to all these people, as does everyone into Norse History.
Check this link out:

Birgitta Wallace is a retired archaeologist who worked at L'Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland. I've seen her on Nova and other shows and she's really quite engaging. I'd like to get a collection of her articles because she is really quite level-headed and knowledgable. (Viking history has its fair share of Dan Brown types muddying up the pool)

20 May, 2006 02:18  
Blogger Tatty Tiara said...

I didn't know they did a movie of Fast Food Nation! Glad I stumbled across your blog - I'll have to see it too.

20 May, 2006 02:40  

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