Speaking of Norway ...
January 13, 2018 10:49 PM   Subscribe

To Norway, home of giants (1979). John Cleese takes us on a journey through his ancestral Norway in this Python-esque travelogue which explores ski culture, Viking-era nostalgia and reenactment, a taste of Norwegian cuisine and literature, and even a visit with the Nobel committee.
posted by philip-random (26 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
OMG skull bumping is a sport I look for every Winter Olympics, like curling!
posted by hippybear at 10:57 PM on January 13 [1 favorite]

Just to get it out of the way: [møøse joke], with the full knowledge that that was a parody of Swedish films inadvertently using the Danish alphabet.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:59 PM on January 13

Norway: a sly little pimple on the buttock of the world's conscience.
posted by blakewest at 6:32 AM on January 14 [3 favorites]

So hey, if last month had a whole bunch of posts about Finland, does this month mean we get a ton of posts about Norway? Because I am okay with that.

Next month can be Iceland and then March can be Denmark and then we can start over again with Finland.
posted by elsietheeel at 8:17 AM on January 14 [2 favorites]

Next month can be Iceland and then March can be Denmark and then we can start over again with Finland.

You left out Sweden, so I wholeheartedly agree with this plan.
posted by jklaiho at 8:24 AM on January 14 [1 favorite]

You left out Sweden

No I didn't. ;)
posted by elsietheeel at 8:37 AM on January 14 [1 favorite]

and musically speaking -- Kaizers Orchestra
posted by philip-random at 9:33 AM on January 14

Sweden? What is this "Sweden" you speak of? I think you will find that Norway, Denmark, and Finland have never heard of it.

More seriously. This is awesome. I am related to John Cleese! (Norwegian.)

There was also a great piece in The Atlantic: Why Norwegians Aren't Moving to the US. My grandfather always said how rough a life they had it – his parents (my great-grandparents) came from northern Norway to Canada, which had similar homestead availability in the late 1800s-early 1900s. They had to anglicize the family name in order to get work; my grandfather never forgot being told they were "dirty Norwegians stealing good jobs," both in Canada and in Oregon. Back then, "good jobs" were in carpentry, especially for those who could build wood homes. Norwegians were (still are) pretty darn good at that. You have to be in order to survive. My great-grandfather was an excellent carpenter and had been foreman of the team that built the steamship he came over on – he and his wife had free passage. As for my great-grandmother, she earned good money as a seamstress and knitter. I grew up wearing Marius-genser (those wool sweaters) and wool knickers like those in Cleese's film! We had knee-high handknit wool socks under them. I still can't get used to technical cold-weather clothes because of it – I only ever needed those double-layer wool socks (that's what Fair Isle knitting does, it creates a double layer) and thick wool knickers.

There wasn't much made of how badly-treated Norwegian immigrants were in North America, whereas most of us know how hard the Irish had it. Even today the Midwest accent is mocked much as the Southern accent is – most of the Midwest particularities are Norwegian & Swedish. ("Ja, ja...") As a result, it was particularly interesting to read this bit:
A 2013 working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research noted that wages for first- and second-generation Norwegians were lower than any other immigrant group in that period of mass immigration, except those from Portugal.
They had it worse than the Irish.
posted by fraula at 10:01 AM on January 14 [7 favorites]

I am seizing this moment to post a barely-relevant joke, just because I absolutely love it and want to share the joy:

Q: Why does the Norwegian navy have bar codes on the sides of their ships?

A: So when the ships return to port they can Scandinavian!
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:11 AM on January 14 [10 favorites]

My current genealogy project is my paternal great-grandmother's family tree (I finally found her after a decade of active searching and since then the tree has been branching at an incredible rate because before then nobody ever left their villages for hundreds and hundreds of years, whee!) and I'm amazed at how many of her family members came to North America in the late 1800s and then went back to Norway after a few years. My great-grandmother ended up staying in the US and marrying my great-grandfather -- another Norwegian immigrant; he was from near Stavanger and she was from near Trondheim and they both ended up in Livingston, Montana.

And fraula is right, nobody talks about how badly Norwegians were treated back then. It's nice from a genealogy aspect I guess, because they tended to immigrate together, marry within families, and be active within the church (and God bless the Lutherans for keeping lots of records), but that less than welcoming environment made everything a lot more difficult. I'm surprised my great-grandparents stayed.

(And my great-grandfather, my grandpa, and my dad and his two brothers were all carpenters.)
posted by elsietheeel at 11:23 AM on January 14 [1 favorite]

They had it worse than the Irish.

Well... That’s a tricky metric, and there’s a heckuva lot more to it than income, and much worse things than having one’s accent made fun of. Fighting over which white immigrant population was the Most Oppressed People Ever is, frankly, horrible; let’s not. Besides, seeing as our squarehead forefathers were mainly homesteading landowners with no one to answer to, I’d say they had it pretty damn sweet even among white people. Aside from the same rogue murderers and thieves that plagued everyone else at the time, the only real organized threat to early Norwegian-American settlers came from the Sioux, and it’s not as if any Norwegians are beating them at the MOPE awards any time soon.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:19 PM on January 14 [3 favorites]

Well, last night during my research I found out that my Native great-great-great-great-grandmother (the one whose daughter signed away her land rights in the Second Treaty of Prairie du Chien) married a guy who fought in the Black Hawk War?


Anyway, how about dem Norwegians amirite? Uff da, etc!
posted by elsietheeel at 12:27 PM on January 14

It looks like the version that got uploaded was taped off the Australian multicultural TV channel 0/28 (now known as SBS).
posted by acb at 1:02 PM on January 14

On second thoughts, let's not go to Norway. It looks like a silly place.
posted by acb at 1:07 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]

I think the whole thing kind of just underscores how abjectly racist the modern anti-immigration proponents are. I mean, by all these metrics they're throwing out, Scandinavians were terrible immigrants: escaping from rural poverty in poor, overpopulated countries (I think the total number of immigrants from Nordic countries over the peak couple of decades was equal to the half the population of those countries), willing to work for low wages, not terribly interested in assimilation - my great grandfather refused to even learn English, forming their own communities, bringing al their brothers and sisters and cousins over, too, once they arrive. Heck, as pointed out, the Upper Midwest still hasn't bothered to lose the accent after four generations or so. And sure, someone might make a little fun but no one really cares. It's not nasty. Not in the way that sort of thing can be.

The problem isn't the immigrants, the problem is the racists.
posted by Zalzidrax at 1:12 PM on January 14 [13 favorites]

Can someone explain the Sweden joke thaaanks
posted by stinkfoot at 1:22 PM on January 14

Yeah whats up with the sweden hate? /notfromthere
posted by supermedusa at 2:41 PM on January 14

(It's kind of a huge derail to get into, but googling "what do other Nordics think of Sweden?" might provide some insight. Also this comic.)
posted by elsietheeel at 2:47 PM on January 14

I love that comic!
posted by supermedusa at 2:59 PM on January 14

I suppose in the context of that comic, it's something like... teasing your older brother?
posted by Zalzidrax at 3:29 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]

Norway was ruled from Sweden until 1905 (which is why the Nobel Prize is divided between the two countries). Then, for the decades until the oil boom, the Swedes looked down at the Norwegians as essentially their dirt-poor hick cousins.
posted by acb at 3:32 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]

most of us know how hard the Irish had it

Coincidentally, the same potato blight brought many Norwegians to America.
posted by BWA at 6:30 PM on January 14

Norway was ruled from Sweden until 1905

Er...except for the 400+ years before 1814?
posted by elsietheeel at 8:44 PM on January 14

Does this count as punching up because Norwegians are very tall?
posted by batter_my_heart at 11:33 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]

Well Sweden seceded from the Kalmar union in 1523, so a little less than 300 years and spent over 100 of that being a great imperial power and trying to impose it's will militarily on its neighbors, so...
posted by Zalzidrax at 11:14 PM on January 15

Ugh, stop being so Swedish about the whole thing.
posted by elsietheeel at 9:12 AM on January 16

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