Random weirdness for the week of May 21, 2019

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Everybody can’t stop talking about the awfulness known as the last season (or two) of “Game of Thrones,” so of course we have to start this week’s rant with Svalbard-related weirdness after the fiasco of a finale because, well, people can’t stop talking about GoT (a.k.a. clickbait galore!). The marketing hypesters at Hurtigruten are hoping to reap riches by, among other things, suggesting one of their hotel dining rooms might be the main hall of the Red Wedding (or at least likely to be a trauma trigger since massacre memories are just the thing to accompany a hearty meal). It’s the local contribution to endless efforts to establish unofficial tie-ins to the Seven Kingdoms with varying levels of success (which to us, of course, means comedic value). A few of the “Game of Thrones destinations on Svalbard” actually aren’t complete fantasy (gee, wonder if the North thing might have something do with that?), including Arrowhead Mountain being a more pointy peak than the one towering over Pyramiden and the rocks at Eastwatch-by-the-Sea being less pointy versions of those just off the coast of Bjørnøya. But linking the Red Wedding to one of the company’s fancier local eateries is of considerably more questionable truthfulness (not to mention taste), although the hypsters note that while the wedding made viewers lose the appetites “no such things will happen (here)…(because) all guests are kindly asked to leave their polar bear protection outside.” Still, that comparison is nothing compared to their clunker for the Iron Throne which, as can be seen above, in the eyes of the local metal heads is somehow is a dead ringer for the Iron Cow (a.k.a. the giant vats that back in the 1960s were used to store a medieval mixture supposedly resembling milk after Longyearbyen’s dairy shut down). One is now located in another of the company’s dining rooms and, to be fair, if it came to a choice of being seated on “a thousand blades, heated in the breath of Balerion the Black Dread” or drinking whatever came out of that metallic udder after all that time we might have to think about it…

Speaking of mealtime massacres, we’re not sure we envy what’s on the menu for guests aboard the ships of a tours company  voyages of of a local tour company who “carry wooden sticks as polar bear deterrents” (three of them – the sticks, not the bears – 2.2 meters long and four centimeters in diameter, to be precise) and are seeking a place to store them in Longyearbyen. But for us, of course, the real feast is the buffet of buffoonery bashing occurring after said request was made on a local Facebook chat page. The first response pretty much summarizes the obvious: “Sorry for the honesty but either you’re incredibly stupid to bring sticks to protect you against polar bears or this is a delayed April Fool’s joke. If the bear gets so close you’re waving sticks to protect your tourists you have done a bad job.” Of course others were willing to inquire further in a completely non-judgemental manner: “I must be allowed to ask what you do after you have propped on the polar bear with a slightly over two-meter-long cane?” Still others suggested maybe some detail had been left out, like they were sticks with secret ninja powers. Eventually the original poster managed to chime back in with a Reality Check: “So many funny people here. Thanks for your humor. If you all read my post carefully, you would see the words ‘among other instruments.'” used as polar bear protection. Alas, that wasn’t enough to beat off the bearish, so to speak: “What kind of other instruments? Piano? Guitar? I would recommend banjo or accordion as the perfect instruments to scare away polar bears.
” Anyhow, the company found somebody offering storage space so the bit of social media shaming was probably worth it, especially since – unlike truly clueless clods who’ve forced polar bears to be killed after triggering encounters – we’ve never actually heard of such sticks being used by anyone in such a situation…

Finally, to end all this claptrap concerning cretinous creatures we present – oh, Dear Cod make it stop – yet another installment of Bigfoot Does Svalbard the form of an article tracing the history of the can’t-possibly-be-fake Abominable Snowman. This one reminds us, as we keep doing occasionally (because, again, clickbait), “Yeti mania hit a recent peak in 2013, when British scientist Bryan Sykes tested DNA collected from two unidentified specimens from Ladakh and Bhutan, and concluded that the animal considered to be the Yeti shared genetic material with a polar bear that lived 40,000 to 120,000 years ago in Svalbard. ‘I think this bear, which nobody has seen alive… may still be there and may have quite a lot of polar bear in it,’ he told the BBC. But year later, a study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society of Biological Sciences, looked at 30 claimed Yeti samples and found that in addition to having come from bears, many belonged to cows, sheep and dogs. In 2015, a study debunked Sykes’s theory about the Yeti being a cross between an ancient polar bear and a brown bear, and stated that Sykes’s samples could have only come from bears.” But since Svalbard remains the rumored secret home of all sorts of mythical and alien creatures (now including whatever dragons might have survived the Screenwriting Slaughter), we doubt a bunch of scientists (y’know, those folks unanimously conspiring on the Climate Change Hoax) will manage to beat off the believers with mere twigs of of a theory.

 

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