Thursday, 31 March 2011

Nibelungenlied: Chapter 18-19

Chapter 18:

Siegfried's dad offers to hand over the crown to Kriemhild (determined to preserve his retirement), while Kriemhild's relatives (the ones who DIDN'T murder her husband) try to persuade her to stay.

There is a brief tug-of-war, but finally Kriemhild does exactly what you would expect her to do, being the logical, responsible woman she is: she spits on Siegmund's offer of a crown and decides to stay behind in Worms, abandoning her son.

And so, the Nibelungenlads leave without Kriemhild. But vengeance is in their minds.

Chapter 19:

Kriemhild gets a house of her very own built for her, right near where Siegfried is buried, so she can go weep over him whenever she pleases (and this does please her well). She proves inconsolable, refuses to speak to Gunther for three whole years, and refuses to even look at Hagen.

Her brothers have had just about enough of her sulking and try to lure her back to court, but still she refuses to forgive Hagen.

Kriemhild's brothers ride to Niebelungenland to retrieve her bridal treasure, which is being protected by the dwarf Alberich (remember him?). He hands the treasure over to Kriemhild (it is her right, after all), but mourns the loss of the invisible cloak.

It takes three trips to move all the treasure back to the Rhine. Predictably, Hagen wants it for himself (greedy bastard). Among the more interesting items is a wish-rod made of gold, which makes its wielder master over men (apparently).

But Kriemhild is not interested in these thousands of pounds of treasure just hauled to Worms by the sweat and blood of slave labour:

And had it e’en been greater, / yea a thousandfold,
If but again might Kriemhild / safe her Siegfried hold,
Fain were she empty-handed / of all the boundless store.
Spouse than she more faithful / won a hero nevermore.


Kriemhild begins giving away her vast treasure to all sorts of people, and Hagen (the greedy bastard) begins to worry that she might win over the people and raise an army.

Gunther: "pfft, why should I care who she gives her treasure to?"

To which Hagen has another one of those delightful misogynist responses:
                                “No man that boasteth wit
Should to any woman / such hoard to hold permit.
By gifts she yet will bring it / that will come the day
When valiant men of Burgundy / rue it with good reason may.”

Ahh, the old medieval problem of women with property.

Hagen wanders in and steals all of her treasure anyway (which is quite the undertaking, given the amount of it--no wonder he could kill Siegfried). She never gets the treasure back.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Nursery Rhymes: An Exercise in Wanking

I have a B.A. with honours in English. Through my four and a half years of university majoring in this subject, I learned one important thing: brutalization through interpretation. The student of english is trained to take virtually any text and make it say exactly what we want it to say. We want Shakespeare to be gay? We can make it happen, just by idly glancing over his sonnets: "A woman's face with Nature's own hand painted /Hast thou, the master-mistress of my passion" (Sonnet 20). If you can't see the homoeroticism there, you're blind.

The formula for interpretation is really quite simple, though it varies depending on what sort of interpretation you want to perform. For example:

Marxist Interpretation: make ample use of the words "proletariat", "bourgeoisie," and "oppression".

Psychoanalytic (Freudian) Interpretation: Make ample use of words like "penis", "vagina", "womb", "catharsis", "fixation", "mother" and "father"

Feminist Interpretation: Although I prefer Freudian, Feminism is probably the mode of interpretation I applied the most in my undergraduate career. This mode utilizes words like "vagina" (again) "gender norms" "gender rules" "gender" "empowerment" "oppression" " misogyny" "patriarchy" and "stereotypes".

So, to prove the point  that this sort of interpretation can be done with almost anything, I am going to perform a feminist interpretation of a number of well known nursery rhymes, revealing them for the EVIL TEXTS OF PATRIARCHAL SOCIETY that they are. In other words, I am going to wank.


Ring around  the rosie
Pockets full of posies
Husha Husha
We all fall down

This is a rhyme about the historic oppression of female sexuality.
Ring: a tool of physical and symbolic binding.
Rosie: Rose colored, a rose. The rose is the flower most often associated with the female genetalia.

So basically, we have a bound vagina. But there's more!

Pockets: More vaginas!
Posies: Little bouquets of flowers. There is something innocent about the posy, though really it can be made to represent whatever you want it to represent, according to what flowers you put in it.

So, we have vaginas that are filled with symbolism, given importance as representations of a woman's innocence and purity. In other words, this line speaks to the misogynist demand that a woman preserve her virginity until marriage. Her vagina is not hers to do with as she pleases, but is rather the property of her future husband.

Husha husha: Women are to be seen, not heard.
We all fall down: If women continue to mindlessly follow the stereotypes of their gender, adhering to the "husha husha" imposed by men, then eventually we will all succumb to the patriarchy "falling down", being bedded, and losing our own identities.

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe.
She had so many children, she didn't know what to do;
She gave them some
broth without any bread
whipped them all soundly and put them to bed.

This rhyme centers on the dire consequences of female oppression. You will notice that in most cases, when this rhyme is illustrated, the shoe the woman is living in with her children is a man's workboot:

The woman lives within a symbol of masculine oppression! Not only that, but she has "so many children, she [doesn't] know what to do", that is, she has so thoroughly carried out her stereotypical gender role (producing and caring for children), that she feels she has lost herself.

Now, the symbolism of the children changes. They become not just children, but the products of the woman's mind. That is, her goals, aspirations, dreams, creative endeavours, etc. These things, the things the woman has the capability to produce, become impoverished, starved by her overadherance to gender norms. In the last line, she finally lets go of her goals and aspirations "whipping them soundly" and "putting them to bed".


Jack and Jill
Went up a hill
To fetch a pail of water
Jack fell down
and broke his crown
and Jill came tumbling after

Jack fucks up, and predictably, Jill follows him into oblivion. This one really doesn't need further interpretation.

4. And, to show an example of a rhyme that supports the feminist position:

Hey diddle diddle
The cat and the fiddle
The cow jumped over the moon
The little dog laughed to see such sport
and the dish ran away with the spoon.

This rhyme is rich with female imagery. The cat, typically an animal with feminine connotations is playing the fiddle--that is, the female is showing artistic prowess. The cow (another female) is jumping over the moon (a symbol of femininity: she is achieving great things. The little dog (a man) laughed to see such sport: he did not take these female accomplishments seriously. But then the dish ran away with the spoon. Both of these are symbols of female genitalia, implying a breaking away from all things masculine, and the formation of a new, matriarchal society.

In other words, this is a rhyme about lesbians.

And you've just gotten the equivalent of a bachelors degree in english.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Nibelungenlied: Chapter 17

So, the hero is dead. Where can the story possibly go from here, for another twelve chapters?

Lets find out. . .

Chapter 17:
The nasty Knights bring Siegfried's corpse back to the castle, laying it out in the corridor where Kriemhild is sure to trip over it on the way to Matins. (insult to injury?). For some reason, neither the chamberlain, nor any of Kriemhild's attendants recognize the hero, saying: “What if’t a stranger were?", but Kriemhild knows the corpse is that of her husband. She also knows who did the evil deed: Hagen, under the encouragement of Brunhild.  (so much for hoping to hide the murder, guys. Maybe if you hadn't dumped his body in the hall outside of Kriemhild's room, that might've worked out better for ya).

All of her attendants / did weep and wail enow
With their beloved mistress, / for filled they were with woe
For their noble master / whom they should see no more.

(Jesus, two minutes ago they didn't know who the man was)

A messenger runs off to alert the Knights of Nih (er, Niebelungenland) of their leader's death, and another goes to tell Siegfried's father.

One thousand, one hundred knights, a king, a queen, and her attendants all gather in the hall (big hall) and weep over Siegfried. It is very loud.

Group therapy session over with, Siegfried's knights arm themselves, and prepare for battle with Gunther's forces. Kriemhild is afraid they're all gonna die (well, its all her own damn fault anyway). She convinces them to wait to fight another day, and focus instead on burying Siegfried in a big ol' gold casket.

At the funeral, Kriemhild accuses Gunther and his men of the murder. They deny it.
Gunther: "it was. . .uh. . .robbers"
(NICE SAVE, Gunther! robbers, who dumped the body in the hall outside of Kriemhild's chamber)

For three days, and three nights, Kriemhild and the Nibelungenlads watch over Siegfried's corpse, making certain it doesn't reanimate. Then they put him in the ground.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Philip V of Spain: Fashion Icon?

King Philip V. of Spain, longest ruling monarch in the modern history of that country. He ruled for forty five  (not uninterrupted) years from the end of the seventeenth century, and through the first half of the eighteenth. But that's not what I want to talk about. No, what I want to talk about is something far more important. That being, his clothes. I mean, look at him--this man is sex in black velvet. (I'm serious, he had something like twelve kids).

My big question today is, why don't men dress like this anymore? This look has gone the way of the codpiece or the cravat --sadly vanished from the realm of men's fashion. Let me outline for you some of the better points of this ensemble, and why we should bring them back:

1. The powdered wig: the eighteenth century's answer to male pattern baldness. Who wouldn't want a man with long, lush locks? The big haired look was brought back to life in the late seventies and the eighties for men, but has since fallen once again out of fashion. Why? Are men simply too lazy to maintain this kind of hair, whether its in a wig or home grown? I think so.

However, bringing back the powdered wig makes good economic sense. One of the biggest problems facing the world today is a burgeoning and impoverished population. Hair is cheap to grow, and easy to harvest. Think of all the starving millions in the third world who could be fed by selling their hair to a booming and wealthy western market.

2. The high square collar: The perfect way to show off the face and hair. Also can double as part of a "disembodied head" halloween costume, as well as provide extra neck support for the wearer.

3. Velvet doublet with cuffed sleeves: As members of modern goth culture know, there are few things more attractive than black velvet. It is soft, rich, and cuddly--not to mention warm, something which I am sure was of great importance to Philip V in Spain. The looseness of the sleeves allow for freedom of movement, while the cuff keeps it in place, preventing accidents with soup or ink pots.  I can see this top being effective evening wear for the modern man -- the very texture of the velvet proving alluring to the opposite sex, while still maintaining much of the sensibility of a dress shirt.

4. The heavy cloak: also highly useful for the Spanish climate. There are an infinite number of things one could do with this piece, were it to be worn as a regular part of the male wardrobe in the twenty first century. Late night at the office? (Or even better, an affair with your secretary?) Who needs a bed? A flick of the wrist, and you have all the comfort of a bear skin rug laid out at your feet. Terrorists on your commuter flight? Not to worry! You have your very own parachute. The end of civilization as we know it? I'd rather have a cloak than a coat, wouldn't you?

5. The ever-so-sexy knee length trousers and stockings: Hubba hubba!  This look allows for those strong, muscular calves to be shown off, while still allowing plenty of room for the boys. Unlike mere shorts, this could be worn in almost any weather, allowing for a year-round display of one of a man's greatest assets: his legs.

6. Dainty shoes: Only insecure men and construction workers need big clunking shoes and boots to cover their feet. Real men, like Philip V, feel secure in something softer and lighter, that allows them to be both nimble and stylish: a real catch at any modern night club, I'm sure.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Nibelungenlied: Chapter 16

Chapter 16:

Kriemhild, FOR SOME REASON, has a sense of forboding about this hunting trip, and begs Siegfried not to go. He goes anyway.

Siegfried cheerfully slaughters furry woodland creatures, and finally winds up capturing a bear, which he takes back to entertain them at the feast (PETA would not be amused). Siegfried lets the bear go, and all hell breaks loose.  Siegfried kills the bear too.

Now, as yet another part of this convoluted plan of Hagen's (Doctor Evil would have difficulty besting him), the wine was left behind in Worms. To quench their thirst, the hunters must drink from a stream nearby. Hagen challenges Siegfried to a race to get to this stream (another part of his evil plan). They take off their armour and weapons (aha!) and race, Siegfried winning, of course.

Hagen hides Siegfried's sword and arrows, and then takes up his spear while Siegfried is drinking, and stabs him through that useful little cross Kriemhild had sewn on his tunic.

Siegfried, feeling the spear sink into his back, stands with the thing sticking out of him, and strikes Hagen a mighty blow with his shield.  As Siegfried dies, there is a dialogue of Shakesperian proportions: "a plague on both your houses", "tell Kriemhild I love her", "don't. . .forget.. . my.. . story" etc etc etc.

The heroic knights decide to cover up the murder, and bring the body back to Worms.

Nibelungenlied: Chapter 15

Chapter 15:

Gunther's nasty knights, led by Hagen, develop an evil plan. They trick Siegfried into thinking Gunther's kingdom is coming under attack once again, and once again Siegfried offers to play hero. Kriemhild happily (stupidly) watches him go, proud that her husband can help her brother.

Before they go, Hagen pauses to flirt a bit with Kriemhild, promising to protect Siegfried during battle (and by protect he means stab him in the back). Kriemhild puts her foot in her mouth once again (maybe this is where the women should be seen and not heard rule comes from), saying that because he once bathed in the blood of a dragon, Siegfried can only be wounded by the spear, not by any weapon that cuts, and only on one spot between his shoulders.

Hagen tells Kriemhild to sew a token there in that spot, so he "knows where Siegfried needs to be protected" *shifty eyes*.

Kriemhild, in an effort to be helpful, sews a big freaking bulls-eye onto Siegfried's jacket, so that his weak spot can be apparent to the whole world. (SHE'S SO SMART!).

Right after they leave, a messenger rides up saying : "Good news, chaps! No longer under attack!" (not exactly sure what the point in that ruse was.) So, Gunther, under Hagens guidance, decides to go hunting instead, and Siegfried agrees to go with.

Simon Pegg, and "Big Nothing"

Last night I watched (and Scott slept through--I'm beginning to believe this is the scale whereby a movie's merit can be measured) a movie called "Big Nothing". I was interested, because it claimed to be a comedy featuring this guy:

Simon Pegg, who is absolutely genius in films like Shawn of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. Not so genius here. But first, about Big Nothing. It wasn't a *bad* movie. It had its funny moments, and a plot more twisted than my panties during exam season. David Schwimmer plays a loving, desperate father very well. The scenes between him and his daughter gave me the warm fuzzies. He has been fired from his teaching job do to a degenerative memory disorder, and in wanting to provide for his family, he gets involved with a call-center employee named Gus (Simon Pegg), who is planning on blackmailing a reverend for visiting illegal porn sites.  Josie, an ex girlfriend of Gus', played by Alice Eve (*drool*) gets involved in the scam, and everything goes fine--until bodies start piling up.

Although it tries to be funny, the whole movie comes off a little flat. Its not nearly as cleverly funny as most of the movies we see Simon Pegg in.  Nor is Pegg himself the same bumbling, easily frustrated, but unbelievably funny character he normally plays. In fact, he sort of just comes off as an asshole in Big Nothing. Which would be fine, maybe a nice bit of variety in his acting style, IF THIS WASNT SUPPOSED TO BE A COMEDY.

So, why is Pegg less funny than usual?

Is it the script? Maybe--although twisted, the plot is also as obvious as a baseball bat up the wazoo. The character of Gus himself? Perhaps. Though there is always plenty of room to make a conman funny. Is it just that Pegg isn't really the main character? Or maybe its because Pegg's comedic genius is completely overshadowed by Alice Eve's dazzling smile and hoop earrings.

No, what I really think is missing here (as Scott pointed out in the ten minutes he stayed awake during this movie) is the accent. Gus is from Vegas. Pegg has dropped his accent. Is it possible that without the accent, Simon Pegg just isn't funny?

I would argue, to a degree, yes. For example, the entire movie Hot Fuzz is made funny by its excessive Britishness. If you are not familiar with the pace and flavour of small-town British life, the entire first half of the movie can be incredibly dull, but if you are familiar with it, there is alot to laugh at. (I know, because I was the only one laughing like a moron in the first half of the movie when we saw it in theatre). Similarly, Pegg's character in How to Lose Friends and Alienate People is given added humour by the way his laid-back, pub-cozy British character contrasts with the more uptight world of American fame and fortune.

Take the Britain out of Simon Pegg, and what you are left with is this:

A redneck.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Nibelungenlied, Chapter 11-14

Chapter 11:

Siegfried: Well, I think its about time for me to be taking Kriemhild home to my kingdom.

Gunther&co.: But. . .whyyyyyy?

Siegfried: Dudes, I've been here for like three years now. Its time to go home.

Gunther & co.: We'll give you presents if you stay a bit longer!

Siegfried: Goodbye, Gunther & co.

So, Siegfried takes his beautiful new wife home to his kingdom, his father immediately steps down and hands his crown over, and within ten years, Kriemhild gives birth to a son, whom they name Gunther. Why they wanted to name their son after that dumbass, I'll never know, but so it was.

At the same time, Brunhild gives birth to a son, and they name him Siegfried. (if you thought things were confusing before. . .. )

Chapter 12:

Brunhild, over the past ten years has, unsurprisingly, grown quite bitter. She is jealous of Kriemhild's happiness with Siegfried, and is upset by the fact that the other royal couple didn't send so much as a postcard from their honeymoon trip.

(also, she misses her girlfriend)

Sayeth Brunhild of Kriemhild:

“Thy sister’s lofty bearing / and all her courtesy,
Whene’er I think upon it, / full well it pleaseth me,
How we did sit together / when erst I was thy spouse!
Well in sooth with honor / might she the valiant Siegfried choose.”

(sounds like a girlcrush to me)

So, Brunhild whines to her husband about it, and they plot to lure Kriemhild and Siegfried back to Worms with a feast (at least its not a play).

King Gunther's messengers arrive, and proceed to relentlessly guilt Siegfried into agreeing to the visit.

Chapter 13:

Apparently medieval women pack like women  today: "Carrying-chests full many / for the way they made ready".

Leaving behind their son, Kriemhild and Siegfried set forth to other-Gunther's court. Oh, and  BAD THINGS ARE GOING TO HAPPEN (medieval foreshadowing is about as subtle as a baseball bat to the head).

The visitors are greeted warmly. Especially warm is the greeting Brunhild gives Kriemhild:

"oft her glances / Brunhild was seen to cast
Upon the Lady Kriemhild, / for she was passing fair.
In lustre vied her color / with the gold that she did wear"

Chapter 14:

AAAAAND Kriemhild puts her foot in it, saying to Brunhild:

 “Such spouse in sooth have I,
That all these mighty kingdoms / might well beneath his sceptre lie.”

to which Brunhild responds:
 “How stately thy spouse be,
Howe’er so fair and worthy, / yet must thou grant to me
Gunther, thy noble brother, / doth far beyond him go:
In sooth before all monarchs / he standeth, shalt thou truly know.”

(*snicker* as if)

this devolves into:

"My husband is better!"
"No! Shut up! Mine is!"

So, to prove her point, Kriemhild goes and plays dressup, hoping to awe Brunhild into submission with fine clothes (hell, it worked last time).
The arguement rages, until finally Kriemhild drops the bomb:
“for that thy body fair
First was clasped by Siegfried, / knight full dear to me.
In sooth ’twas ne’er my brother / won first thy maidenhead from thee."

OHO, things just got nasty. To prove that Siegfried had lain with Brunhild that night, Kriemhild shows her the ring  and the girdle he had stolen from Brunhild (knew that would come back to bite him in the ass).

Siegfried and Gunther unite valiantly to attempt to preserve their lie, but the damage has been done. Half the castle is up in arms, wanting Siegfried dead for laying with their queen, the other half insist he doesn't deserve it.


Scott and I watched this movie last night. Or rather, I watched it while Scott slept through it. Scott's narcoleptic tendencies aside, it was actually a pretty good film.

It takes place in a (very cool) world where people with special psychic abilities
(ie: movers - telekinetics
     pushers - mind controllers
     watchers - clairvoyants
     shadows - individuals who can make people or things invisible to certain eyes
     sniffers - psychic bloodhounds )
are routinely experimented on by governments around the world. The goal of these government agencies, which call themselves "division" is to hyper-develop the abilities of these psychics, in order to create a kickass army with super-human capabilities. Unfortunately, all of their experiments have been going awry, with most of the individuals being experimented upon dying shortly after recieving the injection that is supposed to amplify their powers. The one exception to this rule is our heroine, Kira, who not only survived the experiment, but also managed to escape Division.

Yeah, yeah, I know. Its a plot that has been used time and time again.Evil organization experimenting on humans to create super-powered army. HOWEVER, don't write Push off just yet. What makes this movie a little different is the fact that this world has flavour and texture. Push's cinematography was its selling point for me--the way bright colors were used through grungy filters, capturing the environment of a run-down alternate hong-kong perfectly, making it seem gritty and real. Not only the way the world is filmed, but also the way it is written gives it depth. An informative newsreel-styled blurb at the start of the movie gives us information that traces teh experiments of Division back to the second world war and the Nazis, grounding the movie's fiction in our own reality (always a good way to add something tangible, or chewable to anything fantastic). The characters themselves seemed realistic, believably unsure of their own powers. The dynamic between Dakota Fanning's character, the thirteen year old clairvoyant whose name I forget, but who was made of pure awesome, and Nick, the male protagonist was particularly well done.


All that being said, where the movie fell a part a bit was in some of the acting (I *really* didn't like Kira), some of the character dynamics (I *really* wasn't feeling the sparks between Nick and Kira), and, towards the end, the writing. The plot became as cliche as it could have been from the outset. Not only that, but things stopped making sense to a degree, and not in the good well-thought-out-confusing way either. No, plot holes developed that you could have driven my Lumina through.

So, with the good and the bad, what could have been an epic, lush, uber-cool movie was downgraded to simple good fun. Another downgrade and we would have had a movie of Dark Angel-esque disappointment (very similar plot. Great idea, excellent tasty setting, near-complete failure on delivery).

Speaking of, apparently this movie might be made into a TV series. Hopefully, HOPEFULLY, if this is true, the world it contains can be given a better treatment than Dark Angel's had.

While I'm at it, can I hope Jessica Alba shows up in a state of undress too?

Monday, 21 March 2011

Nibelungenlied: Chapter 9 & 10

Chapter 9:

King Gunther: "Oh, gee, I guess we should let mom and sis know I'm coming back with a monster-er--wife. Hagen! Go play messenger"

Hagen: "Hell no, I'm staying right here with the treasure and the women. Send Siegfried."

Siegfried: *whines* "Do I have to? Can't you people do anything on your own?"

King Gunther: "You'll get to see Kriemhild"

Siegfried: "And I'm off. See you later!"

Kriemheld is so happy to hear about her brother's impending wedding, that she gives Siegfried twelve armlets. Which he promptly gives away:  "he dealt them all around/Unto her fair attendants / whom he within the chamber found." (a little rude, don't you think?)

Chapter Ten:

Brunhild and Gunther return. Jousting, feasting, so on and so forth. Lots of friendmaking and flirting happen between members of Brunhild's party, and Gunther's court.

Kriemheld's hand is finally given to Siegfried, and the rest of her too. Brunhild seems upset by this, having apparently developed an infatuation with Kriemheld of her own. She claims Kriemhild will be dishonoured and wasted by Siegfried.

Gunther tells her to shut her hor mouth, and get her ass into the marriage bed. Bad idea, Gunther. Brunhild is less than willing to consumate their marriage (I know, I lied again), until he tells her what part Siegfried played in the winning of her.

Gunther gets all "wrathy" and attempts to rape Brunhild. Brunhild, being Brunhild, trusses him up and hangs him up on a nail on the wall. (this chick is awesome). She leaves him there, all night, until finally by morning Gunther is swearing to never touch her again if she'll just let him down. (beautiful scene, really)

Gunther whines about getting shut down and humiliated to Siegfried, and Siegfried must ONCE AGAIN go to the rescue, his mission this time to get Brunhild to give up her virginity to Gunther. This really is getting a little excessive.

So, Siegfried dons his invisible dwarf cloak (come to think of it, how can it fit him?) --nearly giving Kriemhild a heart attack in so-doing--and crawls into bed next to Brunhild under cover of invisibility and darkness. He attempts to hold her, and she hurls him across the room. Then:

"Up sprang again undaunted / the full doughty man,
To try for fortune better. / When he anew began
Perforce to curb her fury, / fell he in trouble sore.
I ween that ne’er a lady / did so defend herself before.

“Ah me!"–so thought the hero– / “shall I now my life
Lose at hand of woman, / then will every wife
Evermore hereafter / a shrewish temper show
Against her lord’s good wishes, / who now such thing ne’er thinks to do.”

Chauvanism, ladies and gentlemen.

They continue to grapple, and finally, Siegfried gets the upper hand. Having beaten Gunther's bride to nearly a pulp, she begs for mercy, and promises to never resist Gunther again. Siegfried steals her ring and her girdle for Kriemhild, to add insult to injury. Gunther tags in for Siegfried and makes love to Brunhild's cold, unwilling body. (sigh)

Nibelungenlied, Chapter 8

Chapter seven was actually epically awesome. . .I highly suggest reading the real thing. But then, I have a thing for strong beautiful women. In other news, in doing research on the translator of the version of the Nibelungenlied I am reading, I discovered that he is most likely the father of one of the people I admire most in the world--Mary Needler Hind (now deceased), whose father was indeed a scholar named George Henry Needler. Mary Hind is probably one of the biggest influences on me, and was just an absolutely astounding woman. She was a code breaker in the second world war, went on to become the Dean of Classical Studies at the University of Toronto (something that was, I imagine, almost unheard of for women in her time), she was obviously highly educated, could read and I believe speak latin and greek, and got married for love rather than out of desperation to start a family and be supported at the ripe age of sixty-something. I didn't know her until she was already in her eighties, at which age she was still volunteering at the local school to help children learn to read. She lived to be 98 (the exact age she always said she wanted to live to), and kept her faculties largely about her until the very end. If I can live to be a quarter as impressive as she, I'll have done a damn fine job at life.

But, back to butchering her father's life's work (how's *that* for gratitude?). Hopefully, though, my paraphrase will get at least one person interested enough in this classic German poem to read a chapter or two of the actual translation. Or maybe not. Either way, I am keeping myself entertained, and now have an even bigger reason to slog through the thirty nine chapters myself, hahah.

Chapter 8:

Okay, remember when I said that King Gunther and Brunhild had gotten happily married in chapter seven? I lied. Brunhild's not the sort of gal who will take matrimony lying down. She is, in actuality, calling all of her relatives to come fight Gunther and his men, so she can continue to live free as the kickass amazon that she is.

ONCE AGAIN, its Siegfried to the rescue (he's probably wishing he'd never gone to King Gunther's court at this point). Under his invisible cloak, Siegfried takes Gunther's boat and sails in quest of a ready-made army nearby, with which to defend the king from Brunhild and her clan.

He comes to the isle of the Nibelungen (sound familiar?), and seeing a castle on the hill, and being travel weary, goes to it, knocking upon the door. The door is guarded by a giant.

Giant: "Fee Fie Fo Fum, who goes there?"
Siegfried: "One badass knight, that's who. Now let me in or you will know the true meaning of CHAOS" (cue epic metal theme).

This, of course, pisses off the gigantic doorman, who changes out of his footie pajamas, throws on his armour, and comes at Siegfried with a club.

The fight rages, echoing throughout the castle, and all the lands of the Nibelungen. Siegfried, for once, actually fears for his life (angry Porters are dangerous things indeed), however, eventually he bests the giant -- Only to be set upon by a dwarf named Alberich!

Not wanting to harm the little man (its bad luck to hit a dwarf, you know), Siegfried grabs him by the beard, whereupon Alberich squeals for mercy, and promises to serve Siegfried. Siegfried lets teh dwarf and the giant go, and Alberich runs to the knights of the Nibelungen, telling them to come before Siegfried.

They do. Another feast (dayum the middle ages were good times--you know, apart from feudalism, famine, and the black plague). Siegfried gets the Knights drunk, and they agree to help him fight Brunhild (you need to be drunk to take on a dame of her stature).

Once again Siegfried's plan involves fancy clothes, hoping to awe Brunhild into submission. So he, and one thousand finely dressed knights return to her kingdom. Brunhild is, of course, awed into submission by this display, she hands out treasures all round, and agrees to return with Gunther to his kingdom, as his wife

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Inappropriate Humor

So, I watched the Comedy Central Roast of Donald Trump today. I'm a huge fan of stand up comedy, so the Roast every year is a huge treat for me.

I have been watching Roasts for years. Whether it be the reruns of the old Friar's Roasts during the Rat Pack Days, or the Comedy Central revisitation in the past 12 years, I'm a huge fan of insulting the people you love. It's all done in the best fun, and to me it signifies the most sincere form of friendship -- I only insult those who mean enough to me to expend the effort on.

The Modern Roasts continue to get more inappropriate, with each passing year. Just when I think it can't get any worse, they shock me. That's not a bad thing either! Pushing the limits is the foundation of any good comedy routine, and there are a handful of people who push the limits every time they step on a stage.

This years Roast was hosted by Seth MacFarlane, the genius behind Family Guy. While he's funny, and his opening monologue was funny, he just doesn't seem to have the chutzpah (nod to the many funny Jews in the stand up business) to really knock it out of the park. I'll take some time now to really highlight my favorites of the night.

The first Roaster, was Lisa Lampanelli. Dear Sweet Howard, this woman is brutal. I love insult comics, and she takes the art form to near divine levels. I've never seen any of her work that I wasn't just crazy about, and this is no exception.

Whitney Cummings was there, and for those of you who aren't familiar with her, she is a new and rising star in the comedy world. I laugh my ass off every time I see her, and I can't wait see what she's going to do next.

Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino was there too. Watching him was like beating off with a cheese grater. You think it's going to be alright, but it just turns out to be painful. The only funny part of his bit, was when Jeff Ross attempted to save his ass.

Which brings me to, former Roastmaster General, Jeff Ross.

Holy Shit. That's all I can say. Holy Shit. This guy knows where the boundaries are, and blows past them like a funny car driver on crack. I love me some Jeff Ross.

Other notables:

Snoop was there, and the man has an unbelievable natural talent for comedy.

Marlee Matlin, the only deaf woman to win an Oscar, was there, and holy shit she was funny. -- which brings me to Gilbert Gottfried.

I'll leave it up to you to watch the Roast, and get the details, but lets just say that Marlee and Gilbert ended up on stage together. When he said, "As a developer, Donald Trump has done so much damage to the New York skyline, instead of calling him 'The Donald', they should call him the 20th Hijacker," I almost shat myself.

Even Jeff Ross screamed out "TOO SOON!"

Some other gems.

"This year the comedy world took a blow, when it lost Greg Giraldo. Even worse, it kept Jeff Ross"

Directed at Larry King, who was on the dias for some reason: "Larry King is so old, that he's actually one of the jews that killed Christ!"

Snoop Dogg, in regards to Marlee Matlin: "I walked past Marlee's dressing room tonight while she was going over her lines, and it sounded like someone was clubbing a seal."

Snooop in regards to Jeff Ross: "Look at Jeff Ross. He's one ugly mother fucker . . . look at his droopy face, saggy skin, rubbery wet lips. If he had a string hanging from his mouth, he'd look like Lisa's pussy."

Inappropriate humor seems to be on the rise, and I'm glad that society in general seems to take it in the vein that it's intended. We'd all be a lot happier if we just laughed.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Niebelungenlied. . .

IS in fact a word!

This is the title of an epic German poem from the middle ages, which I had never heard of until today, but which possesses much of the charming epic epicness that characterizes the poetry of the period. I just didn't realize the Germans were being epicly epic as well. I should have known.

(just look at this epic badassery: siegfried killing the dragon)

I found a translation online 
As with many translations of poetry into English, this is a little awkward and nursery rhyme-ish. Then again, it is translated from German, which isn't known for its beauty (zing!). 
You could read it yourself, but I think I'd rather provide a Stevie's notes version:

Chapter 1: 

Kriemhild, our heroine, doesn't want to get married. Her three thuggish brothers, who are all very manly and have unhealthy obsessions with protecting their sister, vow to do just that, and keep her virginity safe from anyone not related to them.

Chapter 2: 

Enter Siegfried, a young knight who is described as having the looks of Brad Pitt, the charm of Cassanova, and the penis of Adonis (ok, I made that up). Kid likes to party, enter long description of jousting/feasting/drinking, littered with poorly veiled sexual references to "swords". Oh, and did I mention Siegfried is a badass?

Chapter 3: 

Siegfried has a hard-on for Kriemhild of Worms (which is just about the sexiest name ever), and decides to take a bunch of his good looking knight friends (because everyone in the middle ages was fek hawt) to her kingdom. There, they get the kings panties in a knot by not telling him anything about who they are and why they are there. Luckily, the king has a know-it-all brother, who guesses Siegfried's identity. Siegfried in a moment of senseless faux pas brags about his martial prowess, and this "chafes" the king's "thanes" . It looks like a brawl is going to break out, but everyone calms down, and Siegfried gets to stay for a year, while Kriemhild the Worms princess falls for him. As well she should, for "none there that was his equal-so mickle was his might-- if they the stone were putting, or hurling shaft with rival Knight" (which just sounds dirty).

She starts to stalk him. Its creepy, but his heart aches for her affection. 

Chapter 4: 

The Saxons are angry at King Gunther of Worms for having an overly appealing name! Twelve weeks (which is dam quick in medieval time) until the helm clefting begins! Siegfried, with his epic badass ways, offers to save the day, saying in his tacit manner "stay here with your whores, old man, I've got this one", or something to that effect. King Gunther illogically sends the Saxon kings a return threat and some gifts of gold, and, angered by this mixed messages, they gather up forty thousand men for WAR. 

Scouting out the enemy forces, and finding his Knights greatly outnumbered, the brave hero Siegfried becomes greatly excited and jumps up and down waving his arms about, getting the attention of one of the Saxon kings. They joust, they fight, sparks fly, the world turns, and in a final round of rock paper scissors, Siegfried defeats the saxon king. Woe to Saxony! This put the defeated saxon king into a "gloomy mood", causing him to beg Siegfried for his life (that's what I do when I'm feeling gloomy too). Siegfried takes the king captive, after killing thirty of his men in a fit of bloodthirsty badassery. Still not satisfied, Siegfried leads Gunther's whole army against the saxons. Enter battle montage.  

The win, of course, taking both of the Saxon kings prisoner, and then doing the logical thing, which is throwing a party for them. Everyone gets happily drunk, gold and silver are tossed about, and Siegfried doesn't even kill anyone.  

Chapter 5: 

The party is so good, they decide to pick it up a month later (you know, after the wounded had healed from the war they just fought and won in a day). Apparently things got a little violent, when the thirty two princes present "vied with one another to deck themselves the ladies all". All wife beating aside, something very important did happen at the party pt. deux: Siegfried FINALLY got his chance to meet Kriemhild up close and personal. *cue angelic chorus as Kriemhild walks on stage*   

Obviously, its love at first sight.  Obviously, there is foreshadowing of woe to come from this loving meeting. 

"’Twas her surpassing beauty / that made the knight to stay.
With many a merry pastime / they whiled the time away;
But love for her oppressed him, / oft-times grievously.
Whereby anon the hero / a mournful death was doomed to die."

(oh, and the captive Saxon kings were finally let free)

Chapter 6: 

King Gunther gets all hot and bothered about a broad named Brunhild (who wouldn't). The thing about Brunhild though, is that she's in a constant state of uber-PMS and tends to kill anything with a penis that comes near her (I'm sure many of us can relate). King Gunther, knowing Siegfried is the biggest badass he has, promises to let Siegfried marry his sister Kriemhild, if Siegfried will win Brunhild for him. (Gotta love pre-feminist times. Go chattel!) 
In a surprising plot twist, Siegfried's plan is not to just kill everything in Brunhild's kingdom and steal her away, but to have Kriemhild make him and his companions some very fancy clothes to try to impress the lady. Huh. 

So, off Siegfried goes with his companions in a wee little boat (well provisioned with wine) in a contest for two wives, wearing a bunch of fancy new clothes (described in detail for about eight verses, for anyone who is interested) and the magic invisible cloak he won off of a dwarf prior to these annals. (I'm not joking)

Chapter 7:

"their ship did forward glide So near unto the castle / that soon the king espied Aloft within the casements / many a maiden fair to see. That all to him were strangers / thought King Gunther mournfully."

(horny bastard)
Luckily for Gunther, it seems that these maids have not (unsurprisingly) seen a man in a very, VERY long time: 

"Unto the narrow casements / came the crowding on, When they spied the strangers: / that they might also see"

So, we have a horny king, and a castleful of sex deprived maidens. Sounds like the setup to a porno to me.

Things get even kinkier as Brunhild prepares herself for the customary feats of strength, her shield and spear and shot-put so large and heavy that it takes three chambermen to carry what she can carry on her own. 

Grunther, seeing her absurd strength, shits himself. 

Luckily, he has an invisibly cloaked Siegfried to help him.

The Spear Throwing Contest: Siegfried helps brace the shield against the spear Brunhild hurls with awe-inspiring strength at Gunther. Siegfried throws the spear back, but not wanting to hurt the maid, hurls it so she is only hit with the butt end (is this possible?)

The Shot Put: Equally did Siegfried aid Gunthor in pwning the robust maiden at the hurling of the rocks. 

Gunthor and Brunhild get married, and live happily ever after (that is except for when Brunhild shatters three of Gunther's vertibrae in bed on the wedding night). 

Friday, 18 March 2011

Hard Worker/Odd Dresser

In referring me to the Saskatoon branch of my company, the owner apparently told the manager of this location: "She's a hard worker, but a bit of a weird dresser"

Is it bad that I take pride in this reference? Not only for the first part, but for the second bit as well. I am a hard worker, yes. Weird dresser is a title I'll also take happily, though I prefer "unique" or "unconventional"

I mean, who decides what makes weird anyway? Not only does perception of what is "strange" in dress vary from person to person, but it also seems to vary from place to place.

Take Saskatoon and Regina, for example. Regina seems to have a bit more of a liberal culture, and so you see a broader variety of dress than you would on the streets of Saskatoon. Although there is perhaps only one full on gothic lolita in Regina, there is a flourishing dressed down gothic culture. Other common features in Regina dress include dreadlocks, things made out of hemp, secondhand clothing, and anything handmade. .

In Saskatoon, the standard everyday dress is unadorned jeans and a t-shirt, with or without a pullover or zip up sweater. Accessorization is minimal. Dressing up for work consists of formal-ish black stretch pants from lululemon, and a less lived in zip up sweater than the one you would wear off-duty. Or, if you work in a more formal office environment, black dress pants (real ones), a monocolored shirt, a necklace. Going out? The same, but throw on nice shoes, maybe a skirt or a blazer.

Unsurprisingly, I thought myself more free to experiment with my dress in Regina. While I felt my job could be secure wearing a dressed down bondage collar to work in Regina, I feel a spiked cuff might be pushing it in Saskatoon. If by Regina standards I am a "weird" dresser, by Saskatoon standards, I must be a walking freakshow.

It is interesting, though, to contemplate how standards of dress vary from location to location, and more interesting to consider how they came to be that way. Could Saskatoon's conservatism in dress stem from its origins as a temperance colony? And if that's the case, do North Americans in general (with our largely puritannical roots) dress more conservatively than Europeans?

I don't really have an answer, although I do know that when on the streets of London, I observed a young woman wearing an outfit consisting of three small tartan triangles and fishnet, that would have gotten her arrested on the streets of Saskatoon for indecent exposure. I wish I'd been quick enough to snap a picture.

 In lieu of a scantily clad Londoner, here are some (considerably less sexy) pictures of me dressing strangely, as I tend to do.

 see my awesome free canadian club hat I got at the liquor store today? WINNAR!