Tuesday, 23 July 2019

The Vikings Are Here


The Royal Alberta Museum here in Edmonton currently has a wonderful exhibition called Vikings: Beyond the Legend. It's the largest touring show of Viking artifacts in the world and is on loan from various Danish museums. The exhibition is a mixture of original historical items like weapons, coins, jewelry, etc. and some replicas like this full-size, six-metre funeral ship shown above, built with Viking Age techniques and materials.

The originals are all safely out of reach in display cases, of course, but the freely accessible replicas are also protected, LOL --


A couple of weeks ago, My Rare One and I made a point of going to a special "Vikings Day" at the museum because, in addition to the exhibition, an Alberta group of Viking re-enactors were there, displaying how Vikings lived, played and fought. Displays included weaponry, runes, jewelry making, gaming, carpentry, agriculture, herbal lore, etc.

One of my favourite displays concerned how the Vikings engaged in bee-keeping as part of their agriculture. After all, they did love their mead!


But my most favourite display was about Viking musical instruments. These included stringed instruments made of wood with gut strings, which were plucked like lyres or played with horsehair bows. Beautifully clear and melodious flutes were made of animal horns and bones. The re-enactor at this display could play them all!


This big and extremely loud wooden Viking horn struck me as being very similar to a Swiss alpenhorn. Those Vikings did get around, you know.


The re-enactors also staged some fights to demonstrate shield wall techniques and the use of common Viking weapons (axes, spears, swords). Then they gave foam rubber swords to all the little kids in the audience, who viciously ambushed and defeated the unarmed Vikings in a mighty battle.

It goes without saying, of course, that the fiercest Viking couple was this threatening, fist-shaking pair in their helmets and warrior garb --


And no, that is not a floral motif on My Rare One's blouse. It is the freshly shed blood of her enemies.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

[All photos were taken by My Rare One, except for the last one which was taken by our buddies the Valhalla Valkyries.]

Saturday, 20 July 2019

Did You Watch the Moon Landing?


Fifty years ago today, the first human walked on the moon. I was 12 and remember watching that grainy black-and-white footage on television, over and over again, listening to Neil Armstrong screw up his carefully scripted historic remark so that it made no logical or semantic sense -- "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind" instead of "one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind."


Everyone was so excited by the lunar landing! Every kid I knew dreamed of growing up to be an astronaut.

No, wait . . . that's not entirely accurate, now that I think of it. Every boy I knew dreamed of such a future. Girls didn't, because we were explicitly told that only boys could be astronauts. Oh yes, it's all coming back to me now, that era . . . .

Since the USA and the Soviets were busy duking it out in the Space Race to the moon, no one ever mentioned Valentina Tereshkova and her accomplishments to us girls, of course. Can't be holding up some dirty Commie as an example of godless gender equality.

Well, we may not have been back to the moon in 50 years but thank goodness, we've made some progress in other ways. All girls can now finally dream of and become astronauts as women. That's just as great an accomplishment as the space program itself, in my opinion.

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Pen and Ink Sketches

In June, I took another art class, "Sketching in Pen and Ink," in which we learned various techniques. Here are my best results for each style.

"Chubby Bird"

This was drawn in permanent ink on paper, using the shading techniques of hatching, cross-hatching and scribbling. I believe this bird is some kind of warbler.


"Abandoned House"

This was produced using the same techniques. I must say, I enjoy scribbling trees. It took me 4 hours to complete this. I laboured mightily on it!


"Canvas Stretcher Pliers and Car Keys"

A different technique is to sketch with water soluble ink and then go over the drawing with a wet, blotted brush to create the shading.


"Baby Otter and Cuppa Joe"

I like this technique better than the last one. First, you sketch an object's outline lightly in pencil. Next, a water soluble ink wash is applied to create the shading. Once dry, you then add specific textures and details in permanent ink. It produces a "crisper" finished product, it seems to me.


Right now, I'm taking yet another class: "Sketching in Pen and Ink and Watercolour." The same basic ideas but with the added difficulty of watercolours thrown in. I'll post some results from this class probably in August or so.

[Photos taken by My Rare One, July 2019]

Monday, 15 July 2019

All Together Now . . . WTF?

I don't know who this Luciano Rossi guy is, but he's a lip sync maniac! Enjoy his rendition of "The One That I Want" from Grease!



Thanks to Mildred of Mildred Ratched Memoirs, on whose blog I first saw this a few months ago.

Thursday, 11 July 2019

"Iambic Pentameter Is My Bitch"

Time once again to raise the tone of this blog, courtesy of the Bard of Avon --



Thanks to Willym of Will He or Won't He, on whose blog I found this video about six months ago.

But more recently, major kudos are due to Will who just scored 7/7 on the very difficult Folger Shakespeare Library's Ultimate Shakespeare Trivia Quiz.

I myself scored a paltry 2/7. But am I bitter?


Thursday, 4 July 2019

Happy Fourth of July!


It's difficult and depressing to celebrate
the greatness and ideals of America these days
with the current administration trying to lead
the USA down a fundamentally wrong path.

But July 4th is someone else's birthday as well!


That's right! Captain America!


And he's easy to celebrate!

Luckily, Captain America is more
than just a pretty face . . . 


. . . and a fabulous physique.


Captain America can always be counted on
to punch a Nazi. It's why he was created!


He has never shirked his duty.


Sam Wilson, his successor to the shield, is equally committed.


Make America truly great again!


So, after paying your respects
to the Birthday Boy . . . 


. . . follow Captain America's example of fighting
Nazis and fascists wherever they are found,
no matter what euphemism they call themselves today.


Monday, 1 July 2019

Happy Canada Day!


Oh, is it our National Day again?
Time to wave the flag!


The question of Canadian identity has long seemed
to be somewhat of an enigma --


But no! We Canadians know exactly who we are!


Canadians always think that Americans ask
the stupidest questions about Canada, like this one --


But yes, yes, that is exactly how we elect our leaders.
So who's stupid now?


Americans know what's what.


Oh yes, our beautiful universal health care system,
free via our taxes to all Canadians!


But we still save costs wherever possible,
like in Quebec during maple syrup season --


However, most Canuck babies are born in hospitals.



But sometimes Canadians short-circuit the procreative process
by using one of these Canuck Condoms instead.


Hmm, what else is there about Canada?
Oh yes, let's not forget winter.



And speaking of Timmy's --


Don't underestimate Timmy's importance to us.


Apart from the usual coffee-related crime sprees, however,
most Canadians are polite and law abiding.


And sometimes we're leaders in both law and religion!


Of course, Her Royal Highness the cat
wishes everyone a happy Canada Day too!


Oh, thought I couldn't work superheroes into this post?
Well, think again!




Oh c'mon! Doesn't everyone secretly want to be Canadian?