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September 27, 2011

Scandinavians on Scandinavians
Posted by Teresa at 07:05 PM * 93 comments

1. A Danish comedian contemplates Norwegian swimming rules. (You’ll want to read the expanded version of the liner notes.) Also: the same comedian talks about his trip to Norway to see the end of the world.

2. Scandinavia and the World is a web comic starring Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, with guest appearances by other Northern European geopolitical entities. Everyone wears their national flag as a shirt. Their heights are determined by the highest point of elevation in their country. It’s livelier than you’re imagining right now.

Basically, it’s about national stereotypes as seen from Denmark, with lots of explanatory comments and a fair amount of yaoi action. Iceland is sparkly and conceited. Finland is a semi-mute knife-wielding depressive in a Jayne hat.* Germany lives in a funk of perpetual guilt. Denmark is laid back, constantly horny, a clueless racist, and phobic about nature, and has a beer bottle glued to one hand. Netherlands is much like Denmark — tolerant, easygoing, polymorphously perverse, and crazy about bicycles — but has a joint rather than a beer bottle. The Baltic States are like the Bronte Sisters on a really bad day. The United States is clueless, bullying, and wears Canada as a hat. And so forth.

My favorite line: “You made an alcoholic out of sand!”

The cartoon I have to link to: Tiny Giant Monsters.

To read them all in order, start at the bottom of the page and work your way up. Some samples:

The brotherly north: Nordic Brothers, The Law Is the Law, Raising Children, Nuclear Power, Ungodly Surprise, Swedish Politics, The Clock Is Ticking, Drama Bear, Mean Names, Good to See You, England.

The cult of the bicycle: N00bs off the Road, This Is Bikeland.

German guilt: Not a Yahtzee, Evil Flag.

Food and drink: Nordics Love Fish, Exotic Food, Coffee, The Circle of Beer, The Scariest Ghost Ever.

Unlovable America: King Europe, America Has Spoken, Sister America, The Day the Iraq War Started, Gay Eggs.

The Further Highly Random Adventures of Denmark: Making Friends, They Grow Up So Fast, Denmark the Artist, Clothes Confusion, How to Keep Friends.

Miscellaneous weirdness: Nothing Is Perfect, Drunken Party, Christmas Traditions, Coat of Arms.

Thanks to Jim for introducing me to the site.

Comments on Scandinavians on Scandinavians:
#1 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2011, 07:34 PM:

I like the peanut butter one.

#2 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2011, 09:32 PM:

I'm very fond of the one Teresa had to link to.

#3 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2011, 10:11 PM:

Bicycles in Denmark - she was in labor, and needed to get to the hospital, so of course she biked there; it's Copenhagen.

I was last there a decade or so ago. The free bikes were a convenient way to get around the city (you put in a ~$4 coin as a deposit, which you get back when you bring your bike back to one of the free-bike racks), though the busses and trains were also useful. Christiania was still free, though the government's been trying to take it back for the last few years. (They just had a 40th birthday party, with cake.) Unfortunately my picture of the "Welcome to the EU" sign as you leave the free zone was out of focus... Lots of good parks, good restaurants, gorgeous waterfront, summer weather there is better than November in Amsterdam.

The church I went to in Berkeley many years ago was Evangelical Covenant, which is a more relaxed relative of Swedish Lutheranism. About half of us were grad students, and about half were Swedish families, mostly second generation Californians, so I learned to speak Minnesotan (which apparently just doesn't help at all in Sweden, even if you've got a phrase book and also speak bad German :-) My vowels were all wrong, but apparently it's better than Danish; the Danes say that if you weren't born speaking it, you'll never get them quite right.

#4 ::: Megpie71 ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2011, 11:25 PM:

I think my other half has mentioned Scandinavia and the World to me, but this is the first time I've actually looked at it. Another one for the bookmarks, methinks, with a quiet little note to self that I doubt an Aussie version of the same sort of thing would be so open about our own casual racism and sexism. (That's really about the only problem I have with the whole thing - they've missed how Australia wanted to start out as being Just Like Daddy Britain, and is now trying to imitate Big Brother USA at every turn).

#5 ::: A. J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2011, 12:09 AM:

Wow, it's like what everyone is on about with Axis Powers Hetalia, but without the large side order of Unfortunate Implications! Very nifty.

#6 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2011, 01:28 AM:

"What European Tribes Think About One Another," from the inimitable, late and occasionally lamented eXile. (SDD = Short, Dark and Dirty; CHTL = Can't Hold Their Liquor; NRE = Not Really European)

Bill @3 I was told that the trick with Danish vowels is basically to swallow them all.

#7 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2011, 02:03 AM:

Anthropomorphized nations are something of an up-and-coming webcomics genre. I think it started with Afghanis-tan in 2003, and AJ Luxton's already mentioned Hetalia: Axis Powers, which has spawned an anime series.

It's a sub-genre of the more general category of moe anthropomorphism, which apparently started in 2001 with a character based on Internet Explorer's Stop button. (Moe is a Japanese word for nerdy love for a fictional character. If ever there was a culture with a need for that word...)

#8 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2011, 03:01 AM:

Apologies if you've all seen this before, but I've only just been alerted to it via Metafilter: The Saga-Steads of Iceland: A 21st-Century Pilgrimage. With a film, very pretty, that makes me want to visit the place.

#9 ::: Ms. Jen ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2011, 03:19 AM:

I have now spent many hours on Scandinavia and the World looking at back archives. My eyes are exhausted. Thank you.

#10 ::: Per Chr. J. ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2011, 06:20 AM:

Thanks for the great video. Much appreciated by this Norwegian (with a bit of Danish ancestry, by the way). It did seem to illustrate the attitude towards Norwegians (and Swedes) that I have often encountered in Denmark, which is that Norwegians and (especially) Swedes seem to be idealistic and blue-eyed in a way that may verge towards authoritarianism, while Danes see themselves as more realistic/pragmatic and easy-going.

Since I am a person that usually manages to fend for himself, I can understand the "do they have to spell out everything" reaction. On the other hand, as a civil servant working with information to the public, I sometimes wonder if there really are things that can't be left out, since somebody will always need or want to have absolutely everything stated...

And as somebody that has lived on the Norwegian coast, I can confirm that there are always people there who need to have certain things explained in full, and not inferred from general principles. For example, there are people that have to be told such things as: "If you are a nouveau riche with a new speedboat that you can't quite control, it is not a good idea to test your boat in the waters just outside a beach"...

#11 ::: Per Chr. J. ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2011, 06:36 AM:

Fun webcomic as well (I've looked at it once before, but briefly). One thing I've wondered about, not just in this context (I am aware of this being a humorous personalisation of the US), is why Americans are often portrayed as brash and unpolite over here in Europe, while the majority of Americans I've encountered have been polite, often in what I think of as an old-fashioned (as opposed to modern custom in Europe) way.

(Of course, I know that some continentals think of us Scandinavians as brash and sometimes pushy as well... We are not always good on formal politeness, come to think of it, for instance, nowadays we usually use first names and say "du" - when I get addressed as "Herr Jorgensen" or "De" (vous/Sie), it is almost exclusively by somebody that desires to sell me something I do not want to buy...)

#12 ::: Mikael Vejdemo-Johansson ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2011, 07:37 AM:

As for the bicycle cult comments — when I was in the hospital, waiting to go under the surgeon's knife for appendicitis, my father thought it prudent to tell me about his experience with appendicitis.

Which, as he chose to tell the story, involved biking to the hospital, with a ruptured appendix, on cobble stones.

#13 ::: Sica ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2011, 08:04 AM:

Ah yes :) these are awesome and it's also fun seeing the national stereotypes poked fun at not from the US or UK pov.

I was waiting to see if they'd bring up some of the more bizarre Icelandic traditional food things and am quite satisfied on that front now.

#14 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2011, 08:15 AM:

It is amusing. I should send the link to my baby brother. He's currently working in Stavanger.

#15 ::: Fox ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2011, 08:18 AM:

I'm totally digging Scandinavia and the World (and was up much too late last night reading it from the beginning), but do note that the usual caution applies: YOU MUST NOT READ THE COMMENTS. :-/

#16 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2011, 10:51 AM:

Oh, no - do they have trolls there too? :-)

#17 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2011, 10:57 AM:

The first comment is from the artist, and includes helpful explanations/historical notes. You can scan down the list if there's a flag you don't recognize, to see what it was. But beyond that....

Don't read the comments.

#18 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2011, 11:06 AM:

Mämmi, with illustrations.

#19 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2011, 11:15 AM:

As I understand it, mämmi is what they traditionally eat on Good Friday, a day of penitential fasting.

Looks perfect for the occasion.

#20 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2011, 11:27 AM:

And let me add: DON'T READ THE COMMENTS.

The only necessary reader comment is in the Not English thread, where SisterNetherlands10 posted a translation of the dialogue. So:

F: V unir nyjnlf jbaqrerq jul lbh unq n svfu ba lbhe urnq.
A: Guvf jnl V pna unir zl unaqf serr.
F: Gung'f fghcvq.
F: Gb unir n svfu ba gur urnq znxrf nf zhpu frafr nf n obng ba gur urnq.
A: N obng? Jul jbhyq lbh jnag gb unir n obng ba lbhe urnq?
Q: Url thlf! Pna V wbva?
F: Jul qb lbh unir n pvgl ba lbhe urnq? Gung unf abguvat gb qb jvgu gur frn.
Q: Lrf vg unf. Vg'f n fhaxra pvgl!
S: Ner lbh znxvat sha bs zl ung?
A: Jung?
Q: Jung qvq ur fnl?
F: Ab, Svaynaq. Lbh nyjnlf guvax rirelbar vf znxvat sha bs lbh.
V: V ybir pybgurf gbb! Ybbx! V unir qrzba zvggraf!
A: Gurl ner njrfbzr!
F: Fgbc! Abj vg'f ernyyl fghcvq!
Q: Gurl ner fpnel!
S: Lbh'er znxvat sha bs zr...

#21 ::: Renatus ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2011, 12:23 PM:

Perkele is the quintessential Finnish swear word. It's technically a name for the devil; the rolled r gives it a satisfying punch!

And I must protest that mämmi is in fact pretty tasty (and I'm not Scandinavian so I have no inborn bias, heheh). It's nutty and has some of that dark fullness to its flavor that chocolate has. Sugar and cream is added to taste, which keeps it from sticking in the throat and balances out the flavors.

Here in Finland at least it's eaten all through the holidays surrounding Easter, and is popular enough you can find it all year 'round.

#22 ::: Tony Zbaraschuk ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2011, 12:24 PM:

In Sweden, a quarter-century past, I was told that Danish was not a language but a throat disease.

#23 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2011, 12:33 PM:

I thought that was lutefisk, for the Norwegians.

#24 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2011, 12:37 PM:

Gay Eggs has to be my favourite.

(America's skin-tone is spray-tan.)

#26 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2011, 12:47 PM:

I am still trying to get my mind around Icelanders dropping into active volcanoes in order to hang-glide out.

#27 ::: Fox ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2011, 12:57 PM:

Bill @16 - out from under bridges, indeed. Feh. :->

#28 ::: Roy G. Ovrebo ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2011, 01:14 PM:

Good thing that Danish guy was subtitled. I wish we could have subtitles for the Danish mechanics we have at work too. English tends to be the fallback language when the chasm between Norwegian and Danish gets too wide.

Maybe I'm being the stereotypically dour guy from western Norway, but I honestly can't see the attraction of SATW. At its best it's very nearly funny without ever being actually funny.

Per Chr. J. @11: I've been addressed as De about two or three times in my life. I don't think I've ever been addressed as Herr Øvrebø with honourific.

#30 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2011, 02:05 PM:

I adore the Dutch guy. He's exactly like my closest colleague back at my last job.

#31 ::: Lars ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2011, 03:03 PM:

The United States ... wears Canada as a hat...

Actually, Canada wears the U.S. as our pants.

#32 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2011, 03:33 PM:

Abi, does that include the last panel of the tea party sequence?

#33 ::: mcz ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2011, 03:37 PM:

I really like the demon mittens.

#34 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2011, 03:51 PM:

TNH @32:

I would not bet against it. He's straight, but always game for a laugh.

(He's also the one who asked me what "moral turpitude" was, in the context of whether he'd been convicted of any crimes involving it that he had to declare to the US before entry. I said not to worry about it.)

#35 ::: A. J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2011, 04:02 PM:

Lars @ 31: Matter of Perspective

(Note that this is not an endorsement of America's view on the matter, just a pointer to the comic where they have that debate.)

#36 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2011, 04:15 PM:

I find the insistence on the German still having war guilt somewhat odd, given that I understood germans parallel to my generation (ie late 70's and later, the second generation after the war) didn't think much of it and reckon it is nearly ancient history now. This is an understanding built up from school trips to Munich years ago, of reading online and elsewhere, and to some extent the last chapter in one of gitta Sereny's books.

#37 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2011, 04:24 PM:

My brother-in-law's last name is Hanson. He's from Minnesota. His and my sister's house, Christmas dinner he tells the story of the Christmas dinner his grandmother dropped the plateful of lutefisk to the delight of the grandchildren who were thereby saved from having to eat it....

#38 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2011, 04:26 PM:

guthrie @36:
It might be more correct to say that German law still has a guilt complex.

#39 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2011, 04:29 PM:

I think I may have to visit Iceland someday. I knew the COUNTRY was gorgeous already, having seen film of it.

Although I have to say these comics make Denmark look like it might be worth visiting too, except for the clueless racism.

...hmm. I think it's been too long since I've had a boyfriend.

#40 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2011, 06:55 PM:

Xopher, I can see you having a good time there. Just watch out for the licorice.

Abi, I was thinking more about him gleefully making a face against the window with his tongue out.

#41 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2011, 07:32 PM:

Glad to see everyone enjoying SATW; I'm a longtime fan (I've posted about it here before).

#42 ::: Sylvia ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2011, 07:34 PM:

guthrie @36 The comments in would seem to bely that belief. (I know, I know, don't read the comments. But on that one I had to.)

I can't imagine waving a Germany flag let alone putting them on my Christmas tree as decoration.

And it was not so long ago that a friend of mine in England had "nazi" spraypainted on her driveway by random (thuggish) teenagers. She was born in 1974.

I think I've probably said that it's really ancient history to my generation (my mother was born after the war so I guess I'm second generation and my son is third?) but in my case at least, it's defensive (why do I still feel/get the blame?) rather than having moved on.

#43 ::: Sylvia ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2011, 07:35 PM:

(also, the Norwegian swimming rules had me crying with laughter)

#44 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2011, 08:22 PM:

OK - There went the last 90 minutes, and I predict much of tomorrow morning. I've already shared it out to friends. I particularly enjoy Iceland's pet demons and her babysitting gig.

#45 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2011, 08:29 PM:

Larry, Iceland is a guy. Just a pretty twink. I think there's a Sister Iceland in there somewhere.

#47 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2011, 09:31 PM:

Guthrie @ 36: I think it varies from place to place. Munich in particular is famous for having strong right-wing elements and being too eager to forget; whereas I know someone from a region near Switzerland (which is not too geographically far from Munich, but he has a completely different accent) who was born in the late sixties or early seventies and grew up with the full-on, hardcore "DO NOT MESS WITH HISTORY" training.

Also, one of the things I remember most strongly from my 2004 trip around Germany is that for audiobook rentals on the train, they had two choices... Hillary Clinton's autobiography and the latest thing by Michael Moore.

It gave me a bit of a shiver, because it implied a keen, watchful awareness of American politics that most Americans lack. It was one thing to be living in the States and thinking horrible things about the Bush presidency; it was entirely another to have my thoughts echoed by public opinion in a country which knows that road and where it leads.

#48 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2011, 01:22 AM:

TNH @40:

Pulling a face at the window is default behavior when he's being an imp (a deugniet, to use the Dutch term he taught me).

Which is not to say that he can't be a true friend and a helpful stranger of the type you have seen very recently indeed. But if there's no harm in it*, he has a lively spirit of mischief. Many Dutch people do†.

The only real variation from the comic character is that he doesn't smoke dope. He'd rather have a biertje.

Darn it, now I miss him, and he moved to Austin last year.

* that he is aware of. The Dutch can be privilege-blind and expect that everyone is as sorted out and nailed down as they are.
† The guy who put dried horsecrap into someone's tower case, so it would only start smelling when the computer heated up? Dutch.

#49 ::: Lloyd Burchill ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2011, 06:01 AM:

Xopher, Teresa -- I can confirm that Appolo Lakkrís is just about the most delicious thing you can possibly eat in Iceland. After enduring a lifetime of pale, chalky allsorts apparently designed to erode my life-force, the fresh stuff was simply a revelation. Go to the Góa factory in Kopavogur and get a bag of licorice scraps made that very day for maximum effect.

#50 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2011, 09:28 AM:

Lloyd Burchill @ #49:

*snf* Now I have an ammonium chloride jones. *snf*

I may just have to try to pass by a store selling some on the way home.

#51 ::: Karin ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2011, 01:16 PM:

I'm Swedish. It is all true. All of it.

The Christmas strangeness - true. The constant drunkenness of everyone - also true. The Danes are completely incomprehensible and drunk. Norwegians are peppy and outdoorsy and sound as if they're asking a question when they speak. Finns are silent and carry knives.

#52 ::: Andy ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2011, 06:55 PM:

Only vaguely related (well, it's got bikes and international stuff, sort of) but a candidate is making wild claims...

Bikesharing accused of being UN plot

#53 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2011, 09:20 PM:

Abi: Not surprised. The buildings were a warning all by themselves.

The only real variation from the comic character is that he doesn't smoke dope. He'd rather have a biertje.
If I were a standup comedian like Anders Lund Madsen, I'd be doing a rant about Dutch and its profligate overuse of diminutives. They're useful, in that they help identify the nouns, but they're also dangerous, because once in a while one of them really is a diminutive, like that quarter-hour-je thing you explained that's eleven or twelve minutes long.

Lloyd, you and Ingvar can go on eating your mega-strength double-salted now-with-ammonium-chloride-for-extra-flavor licorice. I'll stick with citrus peel.


I'll admit I have been enjoying the comment thread for the "exotic food" comic, because it's full of clue-deficient Americans who are unaware that their native cuisine also includes things like cooked animal heads and Rocky Mountain oysters. No one who eats liver or kidneys should balk at eating testicles -- what they handle is a lot less toxic. Also, they're good. If you eat Slim Jims, you've probably had them anyway.

Cooked animal heads are the main ingredient in head cheese, known as brawn in the UK. American head cheese uses pigs or calves rather than sheep because we're not that big on mutton.

I draw the line at fermented fish. That's just not right. Same goes for fish soaked in lye. If you're not going to dry and/or smoke it, or eat it fresh, you should pickle it, especially if it's herring. It is practically impossible to have too much pickled herring.

#54 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2011, 09:54 PM:

Teresa: and don't forget chitlins (chitterlings). Not to mention pickled pigs' feet, pig's ears, and that favorite ex-Presidential snack, pork rinds. (I feed them to my dogs. They are cheaper than dog biscuits and have fewer preservatives. Also my elderly toothless dog can gum them and enjoy the crunchiness.)

Isn't Worchestershire sauce a sort of tamed version of fermented fish (garum)?

The only lye-processed food I have any experience with is grits. Not all that scary. OTOH, I've also eaten shark, frog's legs, rattlesnake, squid, snails, and blackbird (indistinguishable from dove) in addition to the usual game (duck, quail, dove, venison, rabbit). No 'possum, raccoon or squirrel yet.

Southerners are funny about food. Some of us will eat anything that won't eat us first; others get squeamish about whole wheat bread, yellow watermelon or brown eggs. (I used to bring duck eggs to school and freak out my classmates--this in a quite rural area full of hunters and makers of homemade sausage!)

#55 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2011, 10:03 PM:

Also whole hominy. Which is tasty.
Masa, for corn tortillas and tamales, is processed with lime. Not quite the same as lye, but it has similar effects: the nutrients in the corn become more available.

#56 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2011, 10:11 PM:

Karin #51 Finns are silent and carry knives.

That's very much what my mother told me. She grew up in Park Falls, Wisconsin, a first-generation American of Bavarian/Austrian descent. The Finns worked in the woods and ... apparently had a lot of interesting habits.

Speaking of which, in a (so-far) unwritten YA horror novel featuring the adventures of Diana (a character in the Bad Blood books, covering her adventures between Bad Blood and Judgment Night during the year she's canonically away East at boarding school), we learn that Di is of Finnish descent. And, while rescuing one of her school chums from a troll, after she shoots it five times in the spine with a .38, the troll turns to the chum and says, "Finland witch! You brought a Finland witch to help you!" After this things get bad.

I really must write that book.

#57 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2011, 10:21 PM:

The only lye-processed food I have any experience with is grits.

Never had pretzels?

#58 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2011, 10:45 PM:

James at 56, do write it; I'd love to read it.

I owned a lovely Finnish knife for many years: a gift; it was stolen when someone robbed my house. (He considered taking my iaito, but didn't. I know he thought of it because he left it beside the window through which he exited as I walked in the front door. An iaito is a steel blade designed for practicing the art of Iaido. It is sharp, but not as sharp as a katana, a real sword, which is usually called a "live" blade. I have one of those now also; I didn't, then.)

#59 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2011, 11:08 PM:

Teresa @53: I draw the line at fermented fish. That's just not right.

No nuoc mam / nam pla for you, then? I admit, a little goes a long way, but fresh spring rolls wouldn't be the same without that in the dipping sauce.

Also, it's the closest thing to garum you can find, if you're trying to follow Apicius.

#60 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2011, 11:36 PM:

Sure, you use lye on hominy grits and lime on masa harina, but you don't leave it on when you eat them.

Lizzy: Finnish knives are pretty. I hope yours turned in his hand.

A friend of mine had his household goods tossed and raided by some relatives right after he died. They took his mandoline slicer, but left behind the instruction book and safety gear. As a mutual friend observed, the deed contained its own punishment.

Karin @51, I was looking at Finnish knives online and found a cache of photos of a guy who appears to be named Puukko-Allu. A Puukko is a kind of knife. I don't mean to perpetuate ethnic stereotypes, but:

#61 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2011, 11:38 PM:

Sure, you use lye on hominy grits and lime on masa harina, but you don't leave it on when you eat them.

Lizzy: Finnish knives are pretty. I hope yours turned in his hand.

A friend of mine had his household goods tossed and raided by some relatives right after he died. They took his mandoline slicer, but left behind the instruction book and safety gear. As a mutual friend observed, the deed contained its own punishment.

Karin @51, I was looking at Finnish knives online and found a cache of photos of a guy who appears to be named Puukko-Allu. A Puukko is a kind of knife. I don't mean to perpetuate ethnic stereotypes, but:

#62 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2011, 01:19 AM:

(Drift) The last piece of art we bought from an artist (through etsy) was from a Finn. So there's a lot more art they do than just knives. (We got the last one, too!)

#63 ::: Pere ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2011, 04:24 AM:

'How is your cola, sir?'

'It needs more blowjob.'

And that's when I fell out of my chair.

#64 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2011, 05:10 AM:

Andy @52

Some people will believe anything.

What gets me is how willing people are to take somebody as unbiased, when they have a clear political position, or an obvious personal benefit to be gained.

#65 ::: paxed ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2011, 09:42 AM:

TNH @ #60: Puukko-Allu is a stage name. He's a rap artist and a producer, according to his fi.wikipedia page.

#66 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2011, 09:51 AM:

Xopher @ #57: Real pretzels, no. Only the kind that come in a box. *Googles to find out about the lye*

#67 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2011, 12:54 PM:

No, no, Lila. The pretzels are true. The cake is a lie.

#68 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2011, 01:41 PM:

I'm confused. I thought the cake was a pie.

#69 ::: PrivateIron ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2011, 01:49 PM:

I like how civilized Scandinavians are, even about their racial stereotypes: The Pole as burglar. In the author notes: they are not necessarily the ones who steal your car; Poland is just where it tends to wind up when it's fenced. (I am not endorsing the comic's position and I have Seinfeld "immunity" on the topic anyway.) Even the American bore has a sort of charm. And yeah the cola remark was the funniest ha-ha joke I read in the strips here.

#70 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2011, 01:54 PM:

James D. Macdonald @66:
Are they kept with the chalice in the palace?

#71 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2011, 02:47 PM:

PrivateIron@68: the Polish burglar surprised me a bit. The 'they're all thieves' tag in British tabloidal demonology is attached not to Poles, but to Romanians (they're all Gypsies, see?).

For what it's worth the WWII-era default male Polish stereotype over here was one of extreme and constant horniness.

Funny how languages, as well as countries, can get a bad name: Anthony Burgess pointed out that it's daft for German to be forever associated with tanks and genocides when the not totally different Scandinavian languages bring to mind social democracy and winter sports. Those subtitled Downfall parodies are tapping into something deep to do with our attitudes to the rhythms of the German language...

#72 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2011, 07:58 PM:

re: lye bath
Bagels as well as pretzels.

#73 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2011, 08:49 PM:


using a baking-soda bath, since it's easier to find (and safer) than food-grade lye.

#74 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2011, 11:20 PM:

re: lye replaced by baking soda when boiling bagels before baking

[chorus from "Fiddler" sings "Tradition"]

#75 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2011, 06:04 AM:

Theological question: how could the bagels be true if they were made with lye?

#76 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2011, 09:25 AM:

Xopher@63, Lila@65

I'm now wondering whether simits (which are a Turkish boiled-and-baked item, rather like an untied pretzel, but flavoured with sesame seeds instead of salt - are made with lye as well as frumentum.1

Interestingly, Wikipedia seems to think that pretzel might be descended from a simit (or rather, from a Byzantine ring-shaped bread which I strongly suspect to have been an Ur-form of the simit - especially given the use of frumentum).

1: it's no longer made in lead kettles, thankfully. (Or even copper ones. The Ottomans were big on tinning).

#77 ::: Karin ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2011, 12:19 PM:

TNH @60 something like that, yes. They're also always drunk.

The drunkenness is part and parcel of being in he vodka-belt. Besides, it's pretty dark here in winter so we need something to lively things up with.

#78 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2011, 12:33 PM:

In classical mechanics, frumentum is the product of the mass and felicity of an object. Like felicity, frumentum is a vector quantity, possessing a deliciousness as well as a magnitude. Frumentum is a conserved quantity (law of conservation of linear frumentum), meaning that if a closed system is not affected by external noms, its total frumentum cannot change. Frumentum is sometimes referred to as linear frumentum to distinguish it from the related subject of curvy frumentum.
Although originally expressed in Newton's Second Law, the conservation of frumentum also holds in special relativity and, with appropriate definitions, a (generalized) frumentum conservation law holds in electrodynomics, quantum sitophagics, quantum bread theory, and general relativity. In relativistic mechanics, non-relativistic frumentum is further multiplied by the Lorentz factor.

#79 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2011, 12:50 PM:

So heresiarch: the bandersnatch of Carroll is both massive and felicitous?

#80 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2011, 08:43 PM:

heresiarch: "...Newton's Second Law..."

That's Fig Newton, right?

#81 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2011, 09:26 PM:

Re: lye and baked goods. I'm going to raise my hands as an experienced home baker and assert that baking soda works just fine for bagels if you use twice as much as most cookbooks tell you to. Pretzels, however, really and truly do require lye. If you're careful, wear eye protection, gloves, and keep other living things out of the room, the quick lye bath is quite safe. Without it, the pretzels won't brown properly.

BTW - the two secrets to good bagels are to form them and proof them overnight in the fridge, and to use barley malt in the dough.

#82 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2011, 11:44 PM:

When I worked at Dutch Wonderland*, we dunked the soft pretzels into caustic soda solution (lye) before sprinkling with massive salt crystals and popping them into a pizza oven to bake.

*As in Pennsylvania Dutch. Amish farm country paradoxically becomes a tourist destination, which spawns such things as Amish-themed amusement parks, providing minimum wage jobs for non-Amish teenagers.

#83 ::: Dave Luckett sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2011, 12:00 AM:

I dunno. Ever since I learned that there was a Leid entitled "Liebes Botschaft", and was told it meant "Love's Message", I have had my doubts about the suitability of German for whispering sweet nothings.

The remark of Charles V comes to mind.

#84 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2011, 01:28 AM:

You might want to check your name, Dave.

#85 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2011, 05:21 AM:

And of course, it turns out that I didn't mean frumentum, but
defrutum, which as Heresiarch @77 is probably aware, is the second derivative of frumentum with respect to time.

#86 ::: Jörg Raddatz ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2011, 10:43 AM:

#82 Could you please explain that? The first paragraph, that is. I know Charles' words.

#87 ::: lurker ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2011, 03:02 PM:

'Lloyd, you and Ingvar can go on eating your mega-strength double-salted now-with-ammonium-chloride-for-extra-flavor licorice. I'll stick with citrus peel.' (TNH)
Some reviews:

#88 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2011, 04:36 AM:

lurker @ #86:

I have been surprised by some of the reviews (the ones where he goes 'that's actually pretty good').

Still haven't done naught to alleviate the jones for the Salt of Amon, but maybe this coming weekend (looks as if the last of the emergency stash is gone, see).

#89 ::: Strata R Chalup ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2011, 03:08 PM:

Well, there went my morning. Loving SatW.

#90 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2011, 03:58 PM:

As a result of reading this thread alongside the Dysfunctional Families Thread. I'm now envisaging a work called 'People of the Lye', dealing with the darker side of pretzel baking and olive preserving.

Also: my all-time favourite episode of Inspector Spacetime is the one in which he finally manages to reverse the molarity of the frumentum flow.

#91 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2011, 06:18 PM:

praisegod barebones #89: Don't forget drain clearing!

#92 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2011, 12:35 AM:

On Craig Ferguson's Late Late show, when one of them says a forbidden word, instead of pixillating the mouth and bleeping, they paste up some kind of small icon, often a flag, and use some random phrase as a bleep. Sometimes it's 'Ay Caramba!' and a Mexican flag, for example.

In last night's show, there were some Swedish people on, and Craig held an actual Swedish flag in front of his mouth and said something or other. His guest said "You basically just said 'f*ck Sweden', you know." (I'm guessing exactly what he said.)

He kept saying it over and over, so I had several opportunities to recognize the icon used to cover his mouth: the flag of Finland!

I don't think I would have gotten the joke had I not seen this webcomic.

#93 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2011, 09:34 PM:

I posted links to SATW on another site. Hilariously, a Norwegian who posts there got all hot under the collar and ranted about how Finland isn't part of Scandinavia! I linked to this page, not forgetting to tell him how silly he was being.

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