Welcome to Maoist Orange Cake. Each week one of our Divas posts a thoughtful (but not necessarily serious) essay on whatever calls forth her Voice or strikes her Fancy. We invite you to join us wherever the discussion leads.
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"I would also like to add that ‘Maoist Orange Cake is possibly the best name for a blog ever. Just my twopence." -- The Sixth Carnival of Radical Feminists, 1 October 2007

The Twelfth Carnival of Radical Feminists is up at The Burning Times blog and mentions one of our posts, Helen 'Wheels' Keller, for recommendation. Orangeists spreading our zest!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Happy Norwegian Independence Day!

Or Constitution Day, or Syttende Mai, or Another Excuse To Party Day, or whatever you'd like to call it. As I am half Norwegian on my Mother's side, I feel the need to commemorate this day, even though I know one of my sister divas, Ms. Jana will probably do a much better job of it, being as she is from Seattle, which has a much bigger and better Norwegian population than my city, with much bigger and better parades.

Constitution Day has a rather interesting history: After being under Danish rule for 400+ years (those Danish bastards!), Norway held a "peaceful revolution", by calling a constitutional convention which declared Norway a free country in it's own right.

Constitution Day is celebrated each year, not by military parades, or displays of weapons, but with parades of children (and their parents), dressed in colorful, traditional attire, waving flags and singing songs. (cool, huh?)

Sort of makes up for all the lutefiske and leftse...

Norwegian Joke Page:


Lutefiske and Leftse website:



shadocat said...

Damn! THIS is the Norwegian Joke Page:


Jana C.H. said...

I will go to Ballard's parade this evening, and hope to post something about it tomorrow. Meanwhile, here's a link:


And Shado, you can go back in and edit your own post to fix links or even edit typos.

little gator said...

As some of you know, Norwegians call themselves Norsk or Norskies.

So here's my trilingual joke:

A Swede lived in a town on the Norway-Sweden border. One night he got drunk, passed out, and woke up the next morning next to a pig.

The Swede asked(spelling prolly wrong)
Ar du Svensk?(Swedish for "are you Swedish?"

and the pig said;
"Norsk, Norsk"(with a snorty piggish accent of course)

Jana C.H. said...

Note from the Flying Sasquatch: In the years 1893-96, the crew of the good ship Fram, led by Dr Fridjolf Nansen, intentionally drifted across the Arctic Ocean on a research expedition. During the course of the drift they had the distinction of celebrating Norwegian Constitution Day three times at latitudes above 80°, complete with procession, band (i.e. one accordionist), speeches, and a banner supporting Universal Suffrage.

Ballard’s Syttende Mai parade included no mention of Universal Suffrage, but there was more than one accordionist, and, just as Shadocat said, there were plenty of children and parents (and teenagers and old folks) dressed in colorful traditional attire, singing and waving flags.

There were couples dancing, kids in Radio Flyer wagons, three groups from retirement homes with people in vans, a Norwegian club from the University of Washington, a dozen or so old Chevys dating from 1926 to 1966, one Swedish flag, four fire trucks, a hydroplane (“Miss Beacon Plumbing”), at least five different contingents of the Sons of Norway, several Norwegian Fjord horses, and an old Soviet sonar device on a flatbed truck.

Marching bands? Did someone say marching bands? Of course there were marching bands, with Ballard High School in bright red among the first half dozen contingents in the parade. But my favorite is always the Ballard Sedentary Sousa Band (http://www.geocities.com/sedentarysousa/factsandphotos.html), playing rousing marches while seated on a flatbed truck (sometimes they ride a bus). This time they played “Ride of the Valkyries”, accompanied by a tall woman dressed as Brunhilde. Brunhilde didn’t sing, but I did.

Dozens o’ drill teams, or at least it seemed that way, all pretty much alike except for La Senoritas in their sexy black outfits and flashing swords. (Can’t find a photo. Sorry.) But the champeen drill team in my book was from the Seattle Public Library: half a dozen librarians decked out in red and silver capes, pushing matching bright red book carts. They got a bigger cheer than even La Senoritas. Seattle is a bookish town.

I left before the parade ended. We were down to crowds of kids (and adults) carrying banners from various schools, and I was late for a meeting of the 36th District Democrats. Our State Senator was talking when I arrived, and after she finished she had to run off for a Syttende Mai dinner.

Jana C.H.

P.S. Maggie, as a fellow Polar Exploration fanatic, I expect some kind of reply to my first paragraph. I dare ya!

shadocat said...

Do Norwegians know how to party or what?!

I wish I could've been there---it's long been my dream to parade down the streets of Ballard on the 17th of May (Really!)


Jana C.H. said...

Well, Shado, I guess we all have our dreams. But wouldn't you rather go parading through Bergen?

I have never been IN a Syttende Mai parade. Any Norwegian in my blood has to go back to the Dark Ages. The Forbeses (my mother's clan) lived in Aberdeenshire, a quick sail across the Norwegian Sea from Viking-Land. There has to have been some Norwegian added to the family somewhere along the line.

But living in Ballard long enough makes anyone an honorary Norwegian. The Norwegian Ladies Chior has at least one black member, whom I saw in the parade.

Another good Seattle parade, in my old neighborhood, the Center of the Universe, is the Fremont Solstice Parade. Look here: http://www.fremontartscouncil.org/events_solstice.html

And where is Maggie, I ask, with witty comments about Nansen or Amundsen or Sverdrup or any of those guys? I'm waiting!

Jana C.H.
Saith Floss Forbes: If you don't know the tune, sing tenor.

shadocat said...

Actually Bergen would be better, but I doubt I'll ever get there, due to the fact I'm monetarily challenged, But I DO have relatives in "Norge", so I know enought about it to know if I ever did get there, I'd probabaly never leave! Socialized medicine, NO HOMELESSNESS (gov. policy--everyone gets at LEAST a room---and it's a nice room at that). People are very serious about getting their holiday on---LOTS of guaranteed, paid state holidays. Very LGBT enlightened too. Of course, there are long, dark winters, but people seem to make the most of those and party a lot...and their standard of living is actually higher than the U.S.A.
What a country!

Maggie Jochild said...

I find polar exploration reading addictive beyond all substances, and it's interesting to me how many of the writers I most admire seem to share this obsession. Polar exploration was inherently pointless, often laden with nationalistic jingoism and empty heroism, and White Male Christian in the extreme. Though apparently not heterosexual, there IS that to say for it. We have Apsley Cherry-Gerrard (whom his intimates called Cherry) and Birdie Bowers who traveled with Scott, not to mention Scott (whose nickname was Falcon) and Dr. Wilson, rumor has it. Roald Amundsen never married, and is rumored to have had two mistresses but, if so, he spent precious little time with them. Nor did Fridtjof Nansen linger in the embrace of his wives -- although he was in bed with Scott's wife at the time Scott discovered Amundsen had beaten him to the South Pole, a delicious irony given Scott's closeted status. Ernest Shackleton does appear to have been happily married, but his commitment to and relationship with his men was far greater. What these men shared was a need to pit themselves against a hostile environment, in the company of other men, with attendant hardship and austerity.

Look at photos of them, think "Tom of Finland", and you're not far off.

Nansen said "I demolish my bridges behind me - then there is no choice but forward." (Which means, don't share a boat with this guy.) Amundsen, much more successful in every regard, said "Adventure is just bad planning." Shackleton said "Superhuman effort isn't worth a damn unless it achieves results." (It's worth noting here that he and Amundsen were the only explorers from this era to bring all their men back alive.) In "The Wasteland", T.S. Eliot referred to a passage from Shackleton about his hallucinated "guide" during the unbelievable trek across South Georgia Island when he writes:
"Who is the third who walks aways beside you?
When I count, there are only you and I together
But when I look ahead up the white road
There is always another one walking beside you"

According to Scott, Captain Oates stepped out into a howling blizzard on the way back from the South Pole, when they were stranded by his advanced scurvy which had reopened an old 18 inch wound in his thigh. Scott alleges Oates sacrificed himself so they could go on without him, and his last words were "I am just going out, and I may be some time." Writers have cast doubt on this melodramatic tale -- Oates may have been out of his mind, he may have been hounded from the tent by Scott, or he may have just needed to take a leak and got lost. I won't quote Scott, his prose is deathless and often whiny.

The meaning I derive from polar accounts is not about the grandeur, or the conquest. I derive satisfaction from how Amundsen proved that studying and imitating Inuit culture (diet, clothing, dogs, skis) was the only rational response to living in their kind of environment, not trying to impose "civilized" European artifacts where they are not appropriate. I find a personal symbol in the manifestations of far advanced scurvy: We need vitamin C to replenish all the collagen in our bodies. When we are deprived of it, pure collagen begins to melt away, and scar tissue is mostly collagen. Thus, every wound you ever had in your entire life recurs afresh, as if it never healed. It is remarkable to realize we are, literally, continually regenerating our own scar tissue.

I am also fascinated by the accounts of the Franklin expedition, where bands of sailors finally abandoned their ice-bound ship and set out to try to cross 1000 miles frozen landscape, dragging a rowboat (which makes sense) but also sterling silver flatwear of an ornate Victorian design, with richly patterned heavy handles, each bearing the officer's initials and family crest. A skeleton of one of the officers later found was described wearing a uniform, trousers and jacket, of fine blue cloth edged with silk braid. The sleeves of the jacket were slashed and decorated with five covered buttons each. Over the uniforms he wore a blue great coat and a black silk neckerchief.

In recent decades, various modern adventurers have caught my attention. At last women are finding backing for the effort, including Ann Bancroft and Liv Arnesen (yes, pearldivers). There's Dr. Jerri Nielsen, who took a job in Antarctica as a physician to the American research team in part to escape an abusive marriage (and, I think, to give herself room to come out). During the long winter when no flights in or out are possible, she discovered a lump in her breast, had to biopsy herself and then treat her aggressive, fast-growing cancer while she waited for winter's end. I cannot recall the explorer who found she was not taking in enough calories as she skied her way to the North Pole, so resorted to eating sticks of butter to keep her energy going.

In the non-historical realm, Annie Dillard's essay in "Teaching A Stone To Talk" entitled "An Expedition To The Pole" is what launched me on my polar frenzy. But even better is "Sur", a short story in Ursula K. LeGuin's collection of short stories "The Compass Rose", a tale of several South American women in 1909 who become the actual first humans to reach the South Pole, one of them giving birth during the expedition. It reads like the truth. But then, that is part of the appeal of the poles -- truth IS fantastic there. Ultima thule is within reach.

Maggie Jochild said...

Is that white blob in the foreground of the plate in the photograph lutefisk?

shadocat said...

Ya, dat der is da lutefiske

I actually love leftse (if my mom makes it, that is). But lutefiske is just (sorry, ghosts of my people)DISGUSTING

Jana C.H. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jana C.H. said...

Maggie-- Loved your lengthy post on polar explorers. Word is that Lady Scott (Falcon’s wife) hung out with an artsy crowd and was quite likely bisexual. Her ambition was to give birth to a hero, and Scott was about as heroic a potential father as she could find. Even if he wasn’t quite up to snuff, she only needed him for a sperm donor, and could handle everything else herself. Nowadays she would have pulled a Mary Cheney

My library has a big section on travel and exploration. For some reason I tend to prefer to read about travel in cold places (the poles, Central Asia) rather than hot places (Africa, the Amazon). I’d rather read about frostbite than leeches, I guess.

Jana C.H.
Saith Captain James Cook (while trying to discover Antarctica): Ambition leads me not only farther than any man has gone before me, but as far as I think possible for a man to go.

P.S. Another Norwegian joke: I was having trouble with cats under my porch, so I tossed some lutefisk under there. Now I have Norwegians under my porch.

Jana C.H. said...

Saith Stan Boreson:

O Lutefisk, O Lutefisk, how lovely your aroma.
O Lutefisk, O Lutefisk, you put me in a coma.
You smell so strong, you look like glue,
You taste just like an overshoe.
But lutefisk, come Saturday,
I think I’ll eat you anyvay

Maggie Jochild said...

Jana, love how you worked Mary Cheney into the Norske/polar thread. The beauty of chaos.

I dreamed about Mrs. Chippy last night, the Louis MacNeish's cat on Shackleton's ill-fated Endurance expedition, who went through so much travail with them but was eventually shot when the crew began struggling to survive.

In a strange way, I think the resurgence of her memory comes from noticing that "Creature Comforts" (an American version) is to premiere on TV in June. This claymation series, of animals acting out real-life conversations taped between humans, originated as a promo for the London Zoo by Nick Park, the greatest of all claymation cartoonists. His short won an Academy Award and was the start of his fame; after that came the Wallace and Gromit series, the Chevron commercials, "Chicken Run", etc. But "Creature Comforts" is still my fave (the UK series is on DVD), and I can't wait to see the new incarnation.

A video game called Chicken Invaders is a great time-waster here on my PC. 3-D chickens of the unmistakeable Nick Park ilk drop down the screen a la Space Invaders and you shoot them with a button from your tiny spacecraft. Every time you score a hit, there's a loud squawk and a drumstick, a chicken patty sandwich or a roasted bird appears (depending on the points of the hit) appears with a crunching sound. Endlessly fun. And it always makes me hungry.

I saw a mini-documentary about Nick Park years ago, while he was making "The Wrong Trousers" (the one with the evil penguin), showing his meticulous stop-action process. He was chatting away about why Gromit has no mouth, when so many of his other characters have exaggerated mouths, lips and teeth. It was very clear the man is extremely OCD and/or Aspberger's, and as a child found cartooning to be an outlet for his spirit. As art so often is for those of us who are "different". Fortunately, it appears that he is able to claim it as a difference (disability, if you use that word) without shame or denial, and ask for honest accommodation where appropriate.

Yep. That's a hint.

Anyhow, to tie it all together: Aardman Studios (Park's production company) also made "Robbie the Reindeer", something my godson's family and I watch every Christmas, and my favorite moment is when the reindeer, deeply troubled, steps out of a shack at the North Pole into a blizzard, muttering (you guessed it): "I am just going out, and I may be some time." The blasphemy of it makes me howl.

Jana C.H. said...

Another sexual kink: Mrs. Chippy was a tomcat. The name was given because MacNeish was the ship's carpenter, whose traditional nickname was Chips or Chippy. The cat was his special companion, thus his wife. As I understand it, the name was not MacNeish's idea.

Nautical nicknames are fun. The sailmaker was Sails, the one who took care of the poultry (food on the wing) was Jemmy Ducks, the ship's corporal (a kind of policeman) was Jemmy Legs, and the cook's assistant was Jack Nastyface. There was no being offended at being called Jemmy Legs or Jack Nastyface; these were the names, and you lived with it.

Jana C.H.
Saith JcH: Some people drink, some people gamble, some like whips and chains-- I buy books.

Maggie Jochild said...

I did not know Mrs. Chippy was a tom. In my experience, toms are even more sweet and devoted companions.

At Wikipedia, I just discovered that his name likely was MacNish rather than MacNeish. In another article, I read that MacN(e)ish wound up a penniless alcoholic (not surprising, after that ordeal) and to his dying day, he never got over Shackleton shooting his cat. In 2004, a statue of Mrs. Chippy was placed on his grave -- you can see the photo at
Antarctic hero reunited with cat

Jana C.H. said...

My first cat was a female Siamese officially named Velvet (I was in the 4th grade) but universally called Si-Cat. In her old age she mellowed into being merely crochety instead of being evil incarnate as she was in her youth.

My others have been boys, mainly because I go in for Russian Blues, and the cheapest way to buy a purebred for a pet is to get a neutered male. My first Russkie, Grigio, was the sweetheart of all time; my second, Illya, was more rambunctious-- not mean, but not as well-mannered as Grig.

My current cat is Boris, a big grey-and-white neutered male, who is an honorary Russkie by virtue of being Illya's adopted brother. Boris is a loverboy with a purr you can hear across the room, but no one matches Grigio, my first true love.

Jana C.H.
Saith Floss Forbes: If you don't know the tune, sing tenor.

shadocat said...

I once had a Siamese/Ragdoll tom named Sam, who, although I've loved all my other cats, was (IMHO) the world's BEST cat. He also was quite the loverboy and so intellengent---he loved to play "fetch"---he disciplined the dog (with a quick nip to the backside), and though he could be quite protective, was always gentle and loving with my children. I agree, toms do seem to be more lovey-dovey; and it seems my long-haired cats were much more sociable than the short-haired ones. Has anyone else found that to be true?

little gator said...

MY two most loving/cuddly cats were:

Leela, a female patched tabby who mothered everything despite being spayed young.

Tied for Best cat ever, with Rudy, an orange and white boycat said to be 1/4 Siamese.

close seconds:

Buster, male brown tabby Maine Coon type mix

Reka Mao, shorthair black siamese mix female

Kimmy, male black shorthair Siamese mix, who once claimed me by peeing on me when a new cat in the house threatened to notice me. I didn't like it, but I have never felt more cherished by anything.
Kimmy didn't know the new cat was a foster stray and she left asap.

Less cuddly(loved me but didn;t cuddle much):

Little Kitty, a female Persian mix silver tabby and white. Totally insane. She'd cuddle under the covers or under a sleeping human head, but would also attack for no apparent reason.

Eeaoo-female shorthair tuxedo

The Empress Lydia brown tabby shorthair female.

little gator said...

An old tradition among my Swedish inlaws:

Every year at Christmas someone would prepare and serve lutefisk, and no one would eat it.

I totally peeved my MIL when she told me the head cheese I was eating was made of icky things( it's a sliced thing made more or less from a whole cow or pig head minus the brains, cooked till itfalls off the bones.)

She was trying to gross me out with her self-righteous vegetarianism, but since she served it, I ate it. And made yummy nosies when she tried to offend me.

Same reaction when a college roomate told me *she* would never eat yogurt since yogurt culture bacteria came from cow's vaginas. I have no idea if it's true, but from then on I made a lots more yummy slurpy noises when I ate yogurt in from of her.

MIL's legendary Swedish grandma, whom I never met, had some lutefisk in the dry phase mailed to her from somewhere when she lived in the US. It got wet along the way. The story is that every stop on the way sent it special delevery just to get rid of it, and the delivery boy on the bike told her he thought it had died.

I use the Swedish spelling of lutefisk because Mr Gator is mostly Swedish.

little gator said...

was my last post long enough?