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Below are the 18 most recent journal entries recorded in dr_beowulf's LiveJournal:

Thursday, July 12th, 2012
11:13 am
Yet ANOTHER book. . .
Well, I'm at it again. . . my fourth book of translated Icelandic sagas has been published. The Sagas of Hrafnista is a "cycle" of four sagas about four different members of a family from the Norwegian island of Hrafnista (modern Ramsta).

These are classic "legendary" sagas, with everything from a dragon to some hideous giants to plenty of crazed berserks and wicked enchanters. At the same time, these sagas are set just a couple of generations before the settlement of Iceland, and the heroes are said to be ancestors of prominent Icelandic families. . . so these are the kinds of stories that Icelanders once told about their origins, and they may have a dimly remembered, almost obscured historical core.

Anyway, these were fun to work on, and (I hope) fun to read. The paperback may be had here, or a PDF is available for download here.

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010
5:10 pm
My excessively talented sister is at it again. . .
Right. So.

My sister has been doing her unique blend of Irish-Cajun-worldbeat-progrock-singer-songwriter music (what she calls "Heavy Wood") for many years now. But of late, she's started taking things in a different direction: she's started a project called the Potent Bathers (an anagram for her name, Beth Patterson). Check these out:

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010
2:46 pm
Yet another book of translations!
I have the honor to announce that I've just published yet another book of sagas and tales translated from Old Norse. This one's 258 pages long -- the largest book I've ever done -- and includes four sagas and six shorter tales. It's called. . . Sagas of Giants and Heroes, and you can get it from Lulu.com at


The book should be out on Amazon.com in about a month.

Huge in stature; living in far-distant wastelands; sometimes comically stupid or crude; but possessing vast wealth and knowledge -- such are the giants of Norse myth and legend. Giants and trolls play pivotal roles in Norse mythology, and they live on in these legendary sagas of old times, as well as in folklore and popular belief.

The sagas in this book are collected here in new English translations for the first time. All tell of mighty giants, and of the heroes who dared to face them, fight them, and sometimes befriend them. These epic tales of voyages, wars, and romance will appeal to both scholars of Norse mythology and fans of Viking adventure.

The sagas include: Kjalnesinga saga (Saga of the Kjalarnes People); Hálfdanar saga Brönufóstra (Saga of Halfdan, Brana's Fosterling); Sörla saga sterka (Saga of Sorli the Strong); and Illuga saga Gríðarfóstra (Saga of Illugi, Grid's Fosterling). The tales include: Hálfdanar þáttr svarta (Tale of Halfdan the Black); Hauks þáttr hábrokar (Tale of Hauk High-Breeches); Jökuls þáttr Búasonar (Tale of Jokul Buason); Brandkrossa þáttr (Tale of Brindle-Cross); an excerpt from Fljótsdæla saga (Saga of the Fljotsdal People); and Inntak úr söguþætti af Ásmundi flagðagæfu (Tale of Asmund Ogre-Lucky). A full introduction, copious annotation, and a substantial bibliography are provided.
Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010
11:19 am
A reminder of my misspent youth. . .
Yes, that was, in fact, me.

EDIT: Look, folks, this all happened back in the Elder Days when most images were still being made using this flat floppy plastic stuff called "film", and printed out on this other flat glossy stuff called "photo paper". Those pictures are at my parents' home, and as far as I know, they've yet to be digitized. Even if I did feel like showing off how I looked in spandex tights and sequined vests in 1989 (surprisingly good, actually, if I say so myself), I couldn't do it now. Maybe I'll scan a few someday.

I will note that I never dressed as a clown on that show. I do have some tattered shreds of self-esteem.
Sunday, January 24th, 2010
10:03 pm
A personal comment of sorts
Since divesting myself of TV three years ago, and not watching much before that, I honestly haven't followed professional football much. I couldn't really tell you who won the last few Super Bowls, or much of anything else about the last few seasons. I mean, I enjoy watching a good game as much as anyone, but it's not something I concern myself with on a daily basis.

But I was born and raised in south Louisiana. I'm old enough to remember the fans showing up at games with bags over their heads, and all those jokes about the "Aints", and all the times that Archie Manning played great ball but just couldn't carry the whole team on his own. My high school band marched in one of their games' halftime shows. I was a college freshman in New Orleans when they finally made the playoffs for the first time in franchise history (the same year that Pope John Paul II said Mass in the Superdome, which at the time, I figured must have had something to do with it). My sister got out of New Orleans just ahead of Katrina, but we all were worried sick over what, if anything, she'd have to go back to, as we watched those terrifying images on the screen. . .

So let me just say this: Though I normally don't follow NFL football closely -- and though I'm all too aware of the corrosive effects that big-time football has on colleges and universities -- I trust that you will all pardon me for one, just one, brief, sweet, delicious moment of long pent-up wild abandon:


Thank you all for your forbearance. And thank you, Drew and Garrett.
Tuesday, December 15th, 2009
10:08 pm
They just keep comin'. . .
I have the honor to announce that I've just published another volume of translated Old Norse sagas. . .


The Saga of Fridthjof the Bold (Friðþjófs saga inn frækni) was the first saga to be completely translated into English, back in 1839. It was probably the most popular saga in the 19th century, for its scenes of heroism, romance, and magic, and especially for the love story between the hero Fridthjof and his beloved Ingibjorg. Fridthjof's Saga inspired operas, symphonies, paintings, songs, and epic poems, notably Esaias Tegnér's epic cycle Frithiofs saga, a foundation of modern Swedish poetry that became internationally famous in its own right. Fridthjof's Saga was largely forgotten in the 20th century -- the last translation into English was published in 1928 and has long been out of print. But I thought it just might deserve a fresh translation and a new look -- partly because it's a fun story, and partly because it was a major influence (if not quite historically accurate) on our cultural conceptions of what the Vikings were like.

I've also translated the "prequel" to Friðþjófs saga, the rambling, swashbuckling Þorsteins saga Víkingssonar, The Saga of Thorstein Vikingsson; and a "sequel", Víkars þáttr or The Tale of King Vikar, which gives information on Fridthjof's descendants. And there's plenty of notes and commentary for those who like that sort of thing, giving cultural and historical background on this sequence of sagas.

The Sagas of Fridthjof the Bold will eventually be listed on Amazon.com and be orderable through various channels -- but that's in the works and may take a few weeks. But it is available now, directly from Lulu.com, in print ($12.99) or as a download ($5). Check it out!
Sunday, December 6th, 2009
3:56 pm
Old English riddles. . .
For the past couple of years, I've been honing my Old English chops by translating the riddle-poems preserved in a great manuscript of Old English poetry known as the Exeter Book. The book includes about 95 riddles (there are some differences of opinion as to how to number them), not all of which are completely legible (besides the usual deterioration you might expect in a 1000-year-old manuscript, the book shows signs of having been used as a beermat and cutting board at some point).

I originally planned to collect my translations and have them printed up in book form, just as a Yule/Christmas gift to family and friends. And then I thought, well, some of you folks out there might be interested in seeing what I've put together. . .

So may I present _Say What I Am_, my translation of thirty of the Exeter Book riddles. Most of these have never been published before. Each one is not just a puzzle, but a little glimpse into the world of the Anglo-Saxons a thousand years ago; birds and beasts, weapons and tools, and men and women from the humblest to the noblest walks of life, all take turns describing themselves.

I've followed the originals' alliterative forms closely, and tried to come up with my own modern English solutions to the problem of translating the linguistic quirks that some of the riddles offer.


The book's available in paperback or as a download. Come check it out!
Monday, July 6th, 2009
8:45 pm
_Sagas of Ragnar_ now listed on Amazon.com
Aaaaaaand this just in:

My first book of saga translations, Sagas of Ragnar Lodbrok, is now listed on Amazon.com. Check it out at http://www.amazon.com/dp/0578021382/.

The book includes the complete Saga of Ragnar Lodbrok, a fragmentary text called the Sögubrot or Saga-Fragment, a short excerpt from a work called the List of Swedish Kings, the complete Tale of Ragnar's Sons, and a long poem called Krákumál or "Words of the Raven". Plus lots of footnotes and a scholarly preface, for those who like that sort of thing -- if not, you can skip straight to the stories; I won't be offended.

Though not all that well-known today, the sagas were a lot of fun to work on, and include many scenes of serious Viking bad-ass behavior. Check it out!
Saturday, February 28th, 2009
11:14 am
My sister again. . .
My sister got her start playing Irish traditional music, and she still does quite a bit of that. . . but she's quite happy to play songs in the English national tradition as well. Check out her tribute to one of the best-known British traditional ensembles:

Monday, November 24th, 2008
8:16 pm
My exquisitely lovely and fiercely intelligent wife has just successfully defended her master's thesis on medicinal plants used in the Ozarks and Ouachitas. In a few weeks she will graduate with a MS degree.

Congratulations, beloved. You did yourself proud.
Sunday, October 26th, 2008
11:29 pm
Shooting on my campus
There has just been a shooting at the university where my wife and I work. CNN's currently saying there are two dead and one in stable condition, one suspect in custody and three others still at large.


We're both OK -- neither of us was on or anywhere near campus when it happened -- but feeling a little shaken.
Thursday, May 8th, 2008
6:57 pm
Heyyyy ocarina!
This is. . . well, I'm not sure what to make of this. It's either the dorkiest thing in the universe, or transcendently cool and awesome. Or quite possibly both at the same time.

The gent has lots more videos in the same musical genre.
Thursday, May 1st, 2008
9:03 pm
Hosed hard drive
Two posts to my LJ in one day?! Da-aaamn. . .

My laptop's hard drive finally gave up the ghost this morning. Repairs are anticipated to take a few days. Until then, I may be a bit slow at responding to e-mails and such. So now you know -- if you've written me in the past two days, or write over the next few days, and haven't heard or don't hear anything back, that'll be why.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled LiveJournal browsing experience.
Thursday, September 20th, 2007
7:09 pm
I lived in Moscow, Russia, between June and December 1993, and visited again in the summer of 1994. This brings back memories. . .


This song, by a Russian boy-band called Na Na, was one of the major pop hits of the time; you heard it everywhere. I still can't figure out all the lyrics -- apparently some of them are nonsense syllables. But it brings back a wave of nostalgia, or something, for immediately post-Communist Russia. And it's also one of the most annoying songs ever recorded. Listen at your own risk. Or don't.
Tuesday, June 26th, 2007
7:43 pm
OK, let's see how this newfangled "embedding" is done. . . ahh, life was so much easier in the old days of HTML 1.0. . . back when I maintained one of the largest sites on the Web using nothng but UNIX vi. . . all this newfangled stuff they've been coming out with since 1998 is just too unnecessary and confusing and should all be dropped, if you ask me, not that anyone ever does. . . six miles, in the snow, uphill, both ways, and we loved it. . .

Anyway, these are a couple of videos of my entirely-too-talented sister, Beth Patterson.

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2006
9:38 am
Surf over to


Click on track #5, "The Hand of the Almighty."

No, I do not know the artist; nor am I being paid to plug the product. In fact, based on what I see around Arkansas fairly regularly, I'm not entirely sure that the song is really a parody. Just listen to it. . . and buy many copies of the CD.
Wednesday, August 9th, 2006
3:55 pm
Followin' the herd. . .

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the next 3 sentences on your blog along with these instructions.
5.Don’t you dare dig for that "cool" or "intellectual" book in your closet! I know you were thinking about it! Just pick up whatever is closest.
6. Tag five people.

"During its passage through the gonopore, the capsule becomes coated with the adhesive secretion of the cement glands, and this secretion may be drawn out into a stalk fastening the capsule to an object. During the breeding season, each worm usually copulates repeatedly and lays a succession of capsules, one at a time, at intervals of a few days. These hatch in a few weeks to complete tiny worms; free-swimming larvae only occur in some polyclads."

-- Hyman, L. H. 1951. The Invertebrates. Volume II: Platyhelminthes and Rhynchocoela, The Acoelomate Bilateria. McGraw-Hill, New York.

I'm sure that all of you are just happy to know that.
Wednesday, July 5th, 2006
8:16 am
While this America settles in the mould of its vulgarity, heavily thickening to empire
And protest, only a bubble in the molten mass, pops and sighs out, and the mass hardens,
I sadly smiling remember that the flower fades to make fruit, the fruit rots to make earth.
Out of the mother; and through the spring exultances, ripeness and decadence; and home to the mother.
You making haste haste on decay: not blameworthy; life is good, be it stubbornly long or suddenly
A mortal splendor: meteors are not needed less than mountains: shine, perishing republic.
But for my children, I would have them keep their distance from the thickening center; corruption
Never has been compulsory, when the cities lie at the monster's feet there are left the mountains.
And boys, be in nothing so moderate as in love of man, a clever servant, insufferable master.
There is the trap that catches noblest spirits, that caught – they say – God, when he walked on earth.

-- Robinson Jeffers, "Shine, Perishing Republic"
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