Got Viking?

Posted on November 14, 2013. Filed under: History | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Dawn Raid

Dawn Raid

Maybe the culture and life-style have changed…   a little…   but, the DNA of the Norse raiders persists to this day.  Yes, they walk among us, and some — my, oh my — walk so much better than others.*

Their group name has changed also.  Instead of the terror-inducing “Viking,” they are now called Scandinavian.  Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Iceland are today’s caretakers of that once-feared genetic pool.

As their culture morphed, so did their method of captivating the world.  Instead of heading out in those wondrous, fabled long ships to terrorize the world into giving up its wealth, the new Vikings have softened that approach — now, they invite the world to stuff its wealth into its wallets, board those modern, sumptuous cruise ships and head for Scandinavia where they can be delighted with the quaint, the modern, and some wonderfully dreamy scenery amid the haunting echoes of history.  (Those in a hurry to hand over the goods can fly via Viking Air…   well…   maybe that’s Scandinavian Airlines).

The Viking heirs still get the world’s money, but, now, in total reversal of methodology, the world hand-delivers it willingly to the Viking homeland without fear of losing a hand…   or any associated body parts.

Responding to this kinder, gentler approach, the world welcomes Viking travelers.  In times past, coastal cities being visited and not pillaged insisted that those ruffians come ashore only in small groups while the rest waited off-shore in their ships.  A small group’s rowdiness could be easily contained, but, there was the fear that a large group might try to paint the town red (a la Freddie…   Jason…   Lizzie Borden.**)  Today, they simply blend in with everyone else on the travel conveyance and are permitted to off load without fanfare…   unless they are celebrity, of course…   or brandishing an Ulfberht. 

I, personally, have much enthusiasm for the blue-eyed, gentler Vikings…   those not named Olaf, Dolph, Karl, Hans or other such.  I favor name types such as Brita, Anne, Annelie, Katarina, et al, complete with appropriate attributes.*  True, in my adolescence, I romanticized those Viking warriors, but, at some point I woke up and appreciated the fact that warrior glory came at a horrific price for those falling to that ethic.  Besides, I was too short to effectively wield a long sword…   hmm!  I had the same problem with golf clubs…   spent a lot more time replacing divots than swinging at the ball.

Through 300 years or more, these seafarers explored, pillaged, and colonized; the New World and the Old have benefitted from their legacy.  Yet, in my little world, the fingers on one hand are far more than needed to tally personal encounters with it…   although…   I did spend about five months with one Dagmar from Denmark.  The most memorable thing about that relationship was, if you failed a test, you kept taking it until you got at least a “D” on it.  She practiced the slogan “No Child Left Behind” long before it became politically chic…   I got out of Latin I with a long string of D’s and a fuzzy recollection of the ablative case.

Ironically, given my adolescent crush on all things Viking, I had no clue she was a DANE possessing the very genetic heritage I then romanticized.  Mrs. Dagmar Root (Latin teacher, Sam Houston Senior High, Houston, Texas a very long time ago), belatedly, I thank you for that close encounter with living history.

Rare and to be treasured are these Norse encounters.  I could use another one.  This is an open invitation to a tall(er) blue-eyed Dane (not named Olaf or such) to share lunch over Viking fare (with emphasis on sea food***) sometime in the near future (a few days…   weeks…   a month?  I’m very patient.)  Since I surmise that the rewards for such an encounter would be heavily weighted in my favor, I will throw in the long ship pictured above to help balance the scales.

Honest!   …the whole ship.

According to the ancient Nordic time wheel (which I just now invented), it is my turn to buy.

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*I’m a guy and still breathing; would you expect less?

**Freddie and Jason are fictional; Lizzie and the Vikings of old were the real deal.

***I am open to other preferences expressed by the lucky lunchee.

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In apology to all things Viking, I include the following unsolicited commercial plugs to help funnel money into Scandinavian banks:

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Yellow Journalism

Posted on May 6, 2012. Filed under: Journalism, language, Piss Ants | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

Yellow journalismSensational news-reporting.  A style of journalism that makes unscrupulous use of scandalous, lurid or sensational stories to attract readers.  Media using this style, collectively, are referred to as Yellow Press

Well, the definition speaks for itself.  Out of today’s enormous field of journalistic enterprises, those dealing in “sensation” stand out like a tart at a nuns’ convention.  They are too easy to spot, but, then, it’s not like they’re really trying to hide, since being noticed is the goal.  Today we call them tabloids… celebrity updates… the evening news…

Not just fringe media.  Even the big boys of broadcast lean to the lurid, pretend “news.”  Most recently, down in a big city on the Gulf Coast, there was this hit-and-run thing;  actually, it was an alleged sideswipe of a parked car (not a collision, not a fender bender, not an injury) at low speed in a parking zone as one driver, allegedly, tried to leave a bar.  How many hundreds of those happen every month without making the local evening news? 

But the owner of the scraped car said he saw who did it, and, it was mmffmnfm lxrrmfs, a well-known conservative talk show host.  Hot dog!  NOW, we got some news.

After the story broke, by  golly, we got some bona fide video that (allegedly) places our subject at an establishment in the area.  Look, there he is,  alone, carrying a bottle (beer?) and making his way toward the exit.  That’s all that’s in the video.  Can’t tell which, or what kind of, establishment.  So, all we got so far is a scraped car and a witness who says he saw who did it, video footage apparently showing the named suspect leaving someplace (his only companion a… beer?… bottle) with the time-stamp just before the alleged time of the alleged damage.  Those are the facts, ma’am.

BUT WAIT!  THERE’S MORE!  The security footage, according to the voice-over, is said to be from a nearby bar.  Not impressed?  Get this:  it is a bar frequented by GAY persons.  Thus, the moniker “gay bar.”  Every time we (remember?… we…   the stupid masses?) were updated on the “ongoing investigation,”  we also got to hear the term GAY BAR vigorously delivered at least 5 times per update in association with the name of this alleged heinous perpetrator.  Never did  find out if the subject was:  gay, married, a father, a Catholic, agnostic, football fan, Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, evolutionist, a brother, an Elk, marathon runner, vegetarian, or even if he was hungry a lot.  Any and all of those  are as relevant to the alleged property damage as the fact that there was a gay bar nearby.  Not relevant, but, by golly, loudly proclaiming GAY BAR just had to keep audiences glued to the television.  It must have been the first high for those ALLEGED reporters since they got to say “penis” over and over some years ago on the morning, afternoon , and evening news hours.

Remember cars rigged by a documentary producer to explode when impacted by another vehicle to “prove” car manufacturer negligence?  How about the super market chain selling out-of-date meats, only, it was the “reporter” who switched labels on the packaging?  [Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.”   -Sir Walter Scot]

Next:  Does the yellow ever go away?

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“The People Have A Right To Know”

Posted on May 4, 2012. Filed under: Constitution, Journalism, Piss Ants | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

In the movies, the justification given by our character of sleaze as to why he/she felt compelled to publish a personally harmful/embarrassing story (usually in the tabloid venue) with no societal relevance, is:  “The people have a right to know.”  I’ll have to take the movies’ lead on this since I have never had the opportunity to confront a gossip monger and demand to know why she/he felt compelled to print such harmful material.

But, rights are spelled out in the Constitution.  Nowhere did I see an open-ended clause saying, “The People have a right to know.”  It does say the People have a right to blab what they know, but, nowhere does it command that The People be informed of anything.  Do I really have to know that Councilman Big Shot had a bed-wetting problem when he was a child…  or NOW, for that matter?  In the pursuit of my alleged “right to know,” is it right for me or anyone else to snoop around in people’s private lives looking for embarrassing anecdotes?

Would The People also have a right NOT to know?  Oh…   yeah!  You just change the channel or don’t buy the offending publication.  But, the purveyors of sleaze (a.k.a., The Press) know what The People will buy, and the popularity and profitability of their product attest to that acuity.  People like to see others as less than themselves.  By golly, we just need someone to pick on.  It is especially satisfying to see persons from a higher moral, social, or economic plane get a little mud on their halos, evening gowns, and tax returns.  And, if we join others in the ridicule of some hapless (preferably defenseless) target, we have a common bond in the cowardly persecution of another…   we belong to something bigger than ourselves.  It isn’t right (read “moral”), but, it is legal.  And, it is an indigent part of the uglier side of human nature.

Pandering to humanity’s darker side does produce larger audiences (read “big bucks”).  Going native (cheap and petty) now and then seems to bring in the customers for even the “classier” media, possibly more so for broadcast than the legitimate press.  How much mileage did media of all kind get out of flaying the psyche of that young entertainer caught in the wallow of sudden fame?  Paparazzi, tabloids, entertainment media, main stream news media, all joining to publicly ridicule a lone soul derailed by the suddenness and scope of celebrity status.  Did you people get a real thrill out of beating up on a kid?

Her every move documented, her every misstep ridiculed.  Why, you even pretended to be concerned with the “Well, she’s in rehab…   again!  (Wink)  (Wink)”  news lead-in.  As a matter of speculation, how  much did negative and malicious press contribute to her troubles?

But, all of you (and , this includes the morning DJs who feel compelled to deliver a good-morning laugh at someone else’s expense, have sure as hell made it to my piss ant list.  Which list, under MY freedom of expression, I have the right to maintain.  And, I have no legal obligation to leave you OFF the list.  To restate your own mantra, “Pandering media has the right to know that they are piss ants.”

Next up:  Yellow journalism is alive and well

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All The World’s A Stage

Posted on April 6, 2012. Filed under: Humor, Journalism, language | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

DEFINITIONS FROM THE WINDOWS XP DICTIONARY (because I don’t feel like walking across the room to the real dictionary, picking it up, and then have to turn all those pages by hand)

Journalist:  a writer or editor for a magazine or newspaper, or t.v. or radio

Columnist:  a journalist who writes a regular column for a newspaper or magazine;  a gossip columnist.

Reporter:  someone who finds out facts and reports them for a newspaper, magazine, or t.v., and uses the print or broadcast media to tell others of it.

Correspondent:  someone providing special reports from a particular place or about a specific subject.

Anchor (person):  announcer on a news program providing links between studio and reporters on site (Like, “Now from our correspondent in Bay Root!”

Thespian:  someone who acts on the stage.

Emote:  Display  exaggerated emotions, as in playing a dramatic part.

DEFINITION FROM COLUMNIST MICHELLE MALKIN (just because that sweet baby rocks)

Anchor person:  A teleprompter reader.  (See also thespian and emote above)

Ouch!  That has to hurt an over-inflated journalist’s ego.  I mean, c’mon, Michelle.  Are you implying that those guys and gals (or gals and guys, whichever is politically correct) are nothing more than actors acting like they really know what they are reading talking about?  That, when Brian Williams says he has to find out all that stuff that is happening and then interpret it for all the rest of us, he really means that reporters and clerks assemble their information with their conclusions, print it out on the teleprompter (probably in giant letters so the suave anchor doesn’t have to squint or wear bifocals), and then, keeping a straight face, he reads it out while emoting like a method actor?  Oh, Brian, say it isn’t true!

Literally everything that has a federally licensed frequency and broadcasts (what it says is) news employs the journalist ilk.  Any printed media taps into that same labor pool, all graduating from some college or technical school that touts the electronic marvels of the industry or the more vain celebrity of it.  Anyway, it’s a paying job, and in our overpopulated societies, those gigs are in big demand.  And, the schools pump out those cub reporters like ants from a disturbed mound.

These junior Jimmy Olsens make the piss ant list every time they show up at a neighborhood tragedy, home in on a shocked, grieving relative, shove that microphone in her/his face and ask such relevant questions as “how do you feel right now?”  They do a real good job, too, at polluting potential jury pools by airing off-hand, unsubstantiated impressions of an accused neighbor’s character.  Just adding color to the story, eh, Jimmy?  And, those local anchor persons just read that drivel blithely while grinning idiotically, then laugh at some poor citizen’s misfortune, and, in the span of a changed camera angle, become somber and reverent about “the untimely death of…”  Whether journalistic Anchor or circus Ringmaster, there is one truth:  neither has his own act, so they shill the glory of the real performers.

Next up:  Reporting is optional, but a story is required

 

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Why Not Me?

Posted on February 27, 2012. Filed under: General Interest, language | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

segueTo make a smooth, almost imperceptible transition from one state, situation, or subject to another,  (se-gway; mid 18th century, Italian/’Latin)

So, what do you think:  Going from whining about the Great Learned to actually sliding into a brief discussion about a specific word, and using “segue” as the opener?  Smooth, huh?

The first time I heard this word, it was pronounced as a single syllable, “seg.”  That articulation seemed to fit the dictionary definition nicely.  So, I kept that template in my mind as the proper enunciation.

Then came that two-wheeled scooter, the Segway.  Since I was happy that segue was a single syllable word, I did not connect that scooter with my neat-sounding smoothie.  Shortly after that, segue became popular in celebrity speech (it was “in” so it must have sounded refined), and now, carefully – even painfully – pronounced se-gway. My, how that grated on my nerves; from a smooth, single-syllable sigh to a harsh two-syllable thought-stopper that sounded like a donkey’s bray or a pig snort.  The dictionary pronunciation takes away from the simple symmetry of the meaning.

The dictionary credits Italian and Latin as the root for the word.  The Great Learned used the spelling from Language A, and called it Language B even though the B people pronounced that spelling differently.  Italians can pronounce their language any way they wish, and Latin is a dead language (Ancient Rome) so no one really gives a hoot how they pronounced it.  Over here, we do not pronounce “league” as lee-gway, “Teague” as tee-gway, or “fatigue” as fa-tee-gway.

Give it a try.  Segue as though you are sighing.  Let other, more refined persons SE-gway like a braying jack-ass or snorting pig.

Why not me?  Why not you?  As previously noted, there is no manual for how we conduct LIFE.  It is truly done “on the fly.”  The Great Learned do not have a lock on its protocol.  We can do it on our own terms, or the terms of others.  That choice belongs to each of us.  Always has, always will.  As for this very incidental side issue, I will single-syllable segue into the next topic.  (ASIDE:  The spell-checker in this authoritarian PC took exception to all my hyphenated words and suggested I do them in accepted format.  It was a pleasure to click ignore suggestion repeatedly.)

Next up:  Passion — A real pain

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