First off, an online slide rule using Viking runes instead of Arabic numerals. Now, even though I have absolutely no clue what to do with a slide rule myself (there are geeks, and then there are geeks), there’s apparently a huge subculture of “slide rule nuts” still alive and thriving on the Web. They even have their own dedicated listserv (and probably more than just this one). The original poster described this latest addition thus:
Finally Norsemen, Vikings, and others who can read runes (and who have internet access), have available to them a virtual slide rule that they can use to do their trigonometric problems with [...] I hope this virtual Runic slide rule will be a great help to Norsemen everywhere in plotting courses to navigate their longships.
Second, Nick Humez — Harvard alumnus, mythology enthusiast, and pro-am folk musician — has produced an interesting new CD, Myth Songs. Seventeen tracks, spanning varied musical styles and mythologies from Greece to Iceland to Egypt and many places and ages in between. Humez summarizes each song, identifies his sources, and offers a few samples here. My favorite is definitely “Sleipnir”, a calypso number based on Old Norse legend (though wouldn’t a calypso number have been better for the Greek naiad of that name? :). The tune is extremely catchy and amusing, too. I can’t restrain myself from pointing out that Humez mispronounces Niflheim, but nobody’s perfect.
And finally, there’s a really interesting new documentary film out about the huldufólk of Iceland. Apparently, though they don’t talk about it with outsiders very often, Icelanders still believe to this day in the huldrer, mysterious little “hidden people” of folklore — think elves, dwarves, trolls, and so forth (in the Scandinavian sense, not the Tolkienian). Alan Garner used the term “huldrafolk” in the Alderley Edge books, which is where I first encountered it many years ago. And as in The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, apparently the Icelanders believe they share the modern world with the last remnants of this furtive society. This also reminds me of a novel I read more recently, Troll: A Love Story, by Johanna Sinisalo. It’s a novel set in present-day Finland, where the trolls of legend still really exist. A very imaginative book! Anyway, the documentary is called Huldufólk 102 — check out the trailer — I simply have to see this!