Thursday, March 09, 2006

Vikings Take the Capitol, then Give it Back

On Sunday, 19 February 2006, a horde of Norse invaders touched down at Dulles Airport in Virginia and proceeded by coach into the Nation Capitol Region, whereupon they took the subway to central D.C. and trundled four or five blocks with suitcases to the headquarters of their political-insider comrade, who in order to protect her identity shall be referred to as A Lover of Trotsky and Other Dead Philosophers. The next day, the Vikings and A Lover of Trotsky and Other Dead Philosophers met up with their old friend She Who Makes Obscene Sounds with Mars Mud, and here is what they plundered, in chronological order.

Tuesday: National Zoo

A Lover of Trotsky and Other Dead Philosophers had plundered tickets allowing the Vikings and She Who Makes Obscene Sounds with Mars Mud to see the baby panda recently born at the National Zoo. This was of particular interest to the Vikings as they had been hearing about the panda from Ivan. Over in the land of fleas and smog, Ivan had been editing a TV special on the panda for weeks, which drove her mad for a period.

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:
Ivan: pandas
Ivan: running amok
Ivan: mating everywhere

Naturally the insanity-inducing panda baby became of interest, and so the Vikings went to plunder it.

Sitting in this tree, like a very large furry coconut, is a panda cub with superb balance. In front, Viking warrior Svartr, showing his enthusiasm.

Svartr found that being photographed fed his vanity so efficiently that he encouraged all the Vikings to join in. Next up: Haukr in front of the capybara cage in the elephant house.

Unlike cheerful Svartr, Haukr doesn’t look very happy. This is because the zoo does not appear to recognize the marketability of giant South American water-hogs, the largest rodent on earth. Why should a capybara be in the elephant house? Why do the elephants get names, and the capybara does not? And why, in the quarter-hour that Haukr stood mesmerized by the enormous cousin of the guinea pig, did no less than four people say variations of, “What is that, some kind of rat?” Haukr feels capybaras do not get the credit they deserve for being the darlingest creatures on earth (Haukr’s words), as evidenced in Bill Peet’s wonderful and tragically out-of-print book Capyboppy, which the populace would do well to check out of the library and read and immediately become converted to the cult of the capybara.

Most darlingest.
Unrelated: This picture is totally unedited. Witness the power of Odin. And sunlight probably frying the lens of my camera. Neat!

Thursday: National Gallery Exhibit Cézanne in Provence

Óláfr, pictured here in front of one of his favorite Cézanne pieces, The Bay from L’Estaque, thought Cezanne’s use of color “was thoughtful.” Pressed, he said the piece was “excavatory, immersive, a contraction of the spirit, a descent.” Óláfr then wept heartily and had to be taken to a corner to regain composure, mumbling about the “nullity of the extracircumferential phenonemena.” Svartr had to be removed to a quiet corner as well, but that was because he found it too, too funny that Cézanne’s eloquent description of his own new, impressionist style was “ballsy.”

Friday: Smithsonian American History Museum & Monuments

A Lover of Trotsky and Other Dead Philosophers and She Who Makes Obscene Sounds with Mars Mud, represented here by Tyrfingr and Úlfarr, conceded to being photographed in front of the sign that said “Whatever Happened to Polio?” because golly, those were the good old days, back when sometimes kids would wake up paralyzed for no apparent reason. Cheers to that. The poster shows Elvis being happily vaccinated. In some archive somewhere there is probably another picture showing that they needed a second dose for his hair alone.

Then Tyrfingr also wanted to be photographed in front of the Smithsonian’s token Disney artifacts: the Dumbo and teacups rides from Disney World.

Tyrfingr is levitating in this picture. Shh.
Tyrfingr remembers how, as a very young child, these rides were such favorites with him that he once threw a royal fit when made to get off the Dumbo ride after his fifth or sixth turn. The life of the Viking child is often full of such privations, and he wiped away a bitter tear before becoming distracted by all kinds of Nationally Important Things, like the Original Kermit and Mr. Roger’s Sweater and the First Teddy Bear.

Little known fact: Oscar the Grouch is considered by Vikings to have come straight from Valhalla.
Also on display: the Star-Spangled Banner and a lot of dresses and Abraham Lincoln’s hat. When Tyrfingr commented that the hat looked a little worse for wear, it was pointed out to him that the hat had “been through a lot” such as the sudden murder of its owner, but Tyrfingr still insists that there is no excuse for neglect in one’s personal appearance, and Tyrfingr should know.

The Smithsonian’s gift shop, incidentally, sells Mars Mud. It does not say so on the label, but if you add some liquor and give them both to a certain one of the Vikings’ friends, the combination creates She Who Makes Obscene Sounds with Mars Mud. Her middle name is And Laughs and Laughs.

But before all that happened, the Vikings walked around the Washington Monument and through the World War II monument and down to the Lincoln Memorial, stopping to see both the Vietnam and Korean Memorials, through all of which the Vikings were very well-behaved because it was too cold to pillage properly, and if you can’t put your heart into pillaging, you oughtn’t to do it at all.

Óláfr, here being very naughty and climbing on Abraham Lincoln, said the experience of seeing the monuments “was thoughtful.” He expanded to say, that the “nullity of the extracircumferential phenonemena” was “excavatory, immersive, a contraction of the spirit, a descent.” It transpired that he is prone to quote Beckett when moved. Haukr, ever the optimist, said he thought of Anna Laetitia Barbauld’s anti-war masterpiece Eighteen Hundred and Eleven, in which Fortune forsakes corrupt England for the innocent new republic, America:

But fairest flowers expand but to decay;
The worm is in thy core, thy glories pass away;
Arts, arms and wealth destroy the fruits they bring;
Commerce, like beauty, knows no second spring.
Crime walks thy streets, Fraud earns her unblest bread,
O'er want and woe thy gorgeous robe is spread,
And angel charities in vain oppose:
With grandeur's growth the mass of misery grows.

Haukr continued on to say he was indifferently curious to see for what country Fortune would forsake America.

His dire sentiments, however, fell away upon the momentous occasion of Einarr being made an Invasive Weed Control DEPUTY. The event occurred unexpectedly at the National Botanic Garden when Einarr was handed the following item:

Einarr takes his new position very seriously.

Oddly enough, he seems to be under the impression that the “Invasive Weeds” are social conservatives, which misunderstanding can lead to nothing but his eventual arrest for assault.

Sunday: No, You Cannot Take a Club in Your Carry-On

Having successfully plundered the zoo, a number of museums and their gift shops, the Library of Congress, and the White House (from a distance of course; otherwise they shoot you), the Vikings sadly parted with She Who Makes Obscene Sounds with Mars Mud and A Lover of Trotsky and Other Dead Philosophers and went back to their desk jobs, saying to each other, “Alas. But we shall always have the Capitol!” which of course translates as NARGH PANDAS NARGH!


Ivan said...

LOL! I am proud to share a blog with someone who can name seven fictional vikings off the top of their head. Bravo, bravo! I'm so excited that you saw the panda but I would like to say, I would never actually eat a panda... I was stressed out at the time. What is Mars Mud? You drink it with liquor? Is it gak?

Anyway, fantastic post, Simon.

Simon said...

GAK! AHA! That's the name we were trying to think of to describe it. Yes, I think it is gak, just in space-age colors.

A Lover of Trotsky and Other Dead Philosophers, Formerly the Clergy said...

I think one would encounter many electric prods before anyone got anywhere near the dearest little panda. Zoologists can be fierce; it's a little known fact.

On the other hand, we probably could have pillaged us a capybara, should we have so desired. I doubt the elephants would have noticed.

Oh, do come back so we can pillage the world's largest rodent!

Simon said...


Becky said...

Fascinating. You have no idea what joy I felt when, in the throes of insomnia, I checked this page and saw such a wonderfully long and verbose post (including pictures!!). You have saved my mind a little bit.

Simon said...

My goal is to save one Becky per night of insomnia. I'm glad to have succeeded! Hope you are better!

.Maeve said...

thank the lord i read this the evening of the last day of the term ... no one else was in the library to be disturbed by my unrestrainable response.