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Bark Like A Fish, Damnit!


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Annotated Fairy Tale: The Story of Log

Would you believe that it was July when I last did one of these?

Man. Time flies. Or maybe I just haven’t had insomnia nearly enough.

This is a Finnish folktale, sent in by an Alert Reader, who said I had to read it and was so very, very right. It’s from a website called “Finnish Folktales–The Gold Scales” and I haven’t been able to find any details about who translated or collected it originally. The website kindly allows one or two stories to be used from the site, and I am very grateful, because frankly, the world is a better place the more people hear of Log!

Log, The Hero Who Released The Sun

Hmm. Log. Well, it’s better than “Charming.” Probably an old Finnish name. Log Logsson. Inga Logsdottir. Maybe that’s Norwegian. Well, anyway. Log.

Once a poor couple had no children. Their neighbours all had boys and girls in plenty but for some reason God did not send them even one.

“If I cannot have a flesh and blood baby,” the woman said one day, “I’m going to have a wooden baby.”

Oh god, he’s really a log, isn’t he?

She went to the woods and cut a log of alder just the size of a nice fat baby. She dressed the log in baby clothes and put it in a cradle. Then for three whole years she and her husband rocked the cradle and sang lullabies to the log baby.

We saw this before with the Hog Bridegroom, but y’know…at least the pig was alive. Three years gets us heavily into people-with-baby-dolls-they-think-are-real uncomfortable silence territory.

At the end of three years one afternoon, when the man was out chopping wood and the woman was driving the cows home from pasture, the log baby turned into a real baby! It was so strong and hearty that by the time its parents got home it had crawled out of the cradle and was sitting on the floor yelling lustily for food.

Oh dear god, he’s made of were-wood.

It ate and ate and ate and the more it ate the faster it grew.

Ravenous log-baby! Nothing weird about that. Nope.

It was not any time at all in passing from babyhood to childhood, from childhood to youth, and from youth to manhood. From the start, people of the village knew it as Log, and Log never got any other name.

I can’t help but imagine the way this went down, with the neighbors knowing that Log’s parents were suffering some very strange issues.

“Guess what? Log sat up today!”

“I…see.” *avoids eye contact* “Well. That’s…um…something. How nice for you.”

“And he said his first word, too!”

“…sure he did, Martha.”

And then one day here they come with the log, and it’s practically a teenager, and clearly it must LOOK like a log enough that they knew what it is, so the neighbors are presumably sitting on the porch, watching the family walk by.

“So a teenaged log just walked by with his parents…”

“I’m going to drink heavily now, Martha.”

“That sounds like a great idea, Sven.”

Log’s parents knew from the start that Log was destined to be a great hero. That was why he was so strong and so good. There was no one in the village as strong as he was, or anyone as kind and gentle.

Aww. It’s nice that Log is a sweetie. I suppose it’s probably very calming being were-wood. Maybe on the full moon you just stand out in the garden and root.

Now just at this time a great calamity overtook the world. The sun, the moon, and the dawn disappeared from the sky and as a result the earth was left in darkness.

“Who have taken from us the sun and the moon and the dawn?” the people cried in terror.

“Whoever they are, “the king said, “they shall have to restore them!”

Don’t be a sun and moon hog, dude.

“Where, O where are the heroes that will undertake to find the sun and the moon and the dawn and return them to their places in the sky?”

There were many men willing to offer themselves for the great adventure but the king realized that something more was needed than willingness.

“It is only heroes of unusual strength and endurance,” he said, “who should risk the dangers of so perilous an undertaking.”

So he called together all the valiant youths of the kingdom and tested them one by one. He had some waters of great strength and it was his hope to find three heroes: one who could drink three bottles of the strong waters, a second that could drink six bottles, and a third one to drink nine bottles.

…waters of great strength. Uh-huh. Is that what they’re calling it these days?

Hundreds of youths presented themselves and out of them all the king found at last two: one was able to take three bottles of the strong waters, the other six bottles.

“But we need three heroes!” the king cried. “Is there no one in this entire kingdom strong enough to drink nine bottles?”

My heroes must be strong and willing and have livers made of cast iron!

“Try Log!” someone shouted.

All the youths present at once took up the cry, “Log! Log! Send for Log!”

Everybody loves Log! Log is popular! He’s kind and gentle and oh-so-strong! The men want to be him, and the ladies want to be with him.

And I bet he has amazing woo–

Ahem.

No, no. I’m good. Not going for the easy shot there. We are dignified here. We are serious scholars of folklore. We are

OH GOD WOODWOODWOODWOODDICKJOKEWOODWOODWOOD!

(…wood.)

…right. Now that’s out of our system.

I feel better now. Do you feel better now?

Do you want to sing the Log Song from Ren & Stimpy first? Okay. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Right. Moving on!

So the king sent for Log and sure enough, when Log came he was able to drink down nine bottles of the strong waters without any trouble at all.

Log is used to wood-grain alcohol. This is nuthin’. Hardly makes you blind at all.

“Here now,” the king proclaimed, “are the three heroes who are to release the sun and the moon and the dawn from whoever are holding them in captivity and restore them to their places in the sky!”

He equipped the three heroes for a long journey furnishing them money and food and drink of the strong waters, each according to his strength. He mounted them each on a mighty horse with sword and arrow and dog.

And dogs, too! That’s awesome! It’s nice to see a king for once who is neither an idiot nor a villain.

So the three heroes rode off in the dark and the women of the kingdom wept to see them go and the men cheered and wished that they, too, were going.

Roadtrip! And the king supplied the booze AND the dogs!

They rode on and on for many days that seemed like nights till they had crossed the confines of their own country and entered the boundaries of an unknown kingdom beyond. Here the darkness was less dense. There was no actual daylight but a faint greyness as of approaching dawn.

They rode on until they saw looming up before them the towers of a mighty castle. They dismounted near the castle at the door of a little hut where they found an old woman.

“Good day to you, granny!” Log called out.

Log is very polite. You would expect no less, of course. When was the last time you saw a tree with road rage?

“Good day, indeed!” the old woman said. “It’s little enough we see of the day since the Evil One cursed the sun and handed it over to Suyettar’s wicked offspring, the nine-headed serpent!”

“The Evil One!” Log exclaimed. “Tell me, granny, why did the Evil One curse the sun?”

Suyettar, near as I can tell, is a really nasty witch that shows up as a recurring villain in Finnish folktales. The Evil One, presumably, is the Devil, but Log is not required to fight him.

“Because he’s evil, my son, that’s why!”

No beating around the bush with motivations for us! We’ve got serpents to kill!

“He said the sun’s rays blistered him, so he cursed the sun and gave him over to the nine-headed serpent. And he cursed the moon, too, because at night when the moon shone he could not steal. Yes, my son, he cursed the moon and handed her over to Suyettar’s second offspring, the six-headed serpent. Then he cursed the dawn because he said he couldn’t sleep in the morning because of the dawn.”

I used to have this problem. Then we got Venetian blinds in the bedroom. I wonder if the Devil has considered this?

“So he cursed the dawn and gave her over to Suyettar’s third offspring, the three-headed serpent.”

“Tell me, granny,” Log said, “where do the three serpents keep prisoner the sun and the moon and the dawn?”

“Listen, my son, and I will tell you: When they go far out in the sea they carry with them the sun and the moon and the dawn. The three-headed serpent stays out there one day and then returns at night. The six-headed serpent stays two days and then returns, and the mighty nine- headed monster does not return until the third night. As each returns a faint glow spreads over the land. That is why we are not in utter darkness.”

This old lady is a serious quest giver. I assume there’s a big yellow exclamation point over her head or something.

Log thanked the old woman and then he and his companions pushed on towards the castle. As they neared it, they saw a strange sight that they could not understand. One half of the great castle was laughing and rocking as if in merriment and the other half was weeping as if in grief.

Probably this means the people in it, but I love the image of the castle itself sobbing into the moat and the other half shaking its towers in glee.

“What can this mean?” Log cried out. “We had better ask the old woman before we go on.”

So they went back to the hut and the old woman told them all she knew.

Many fairy tales would be easier if this old woman was hanging out in them.

“It is on account of the dreadful fate that is hanging over the king’s three daughters,” she said. “Those three evil monsters are demanding them one by one. Tonight when the three-headed serpent comes back from the sea he expects to devour the eldest. If the king refuses to give her up, then Suyettar’s evil son will devour half the kingdom, half of the castle itself, and half the shining stones. O, that some hero would kill the monster and save the princess and at the same time release the dawn that it might again steal over the world!”

Hint, hint.

Log and his fellows conferred together and the one they called Three Bottles, because his strength was equal to three bottles of the strong waters, declared that it was his task to fight and conquer the three-headed serpent.

I can take three bottles of Jack Daniels! I can take your damn serpent, too!

Meanwhile, in the castle preparations for the sacrifice of the oldest princess were going forward. As the king sewed the poor girl into a great leather sack, his tears fell so fast that he could scarcely see what he was doing.

“My dear child,” he said, “it should comfort you greatly to think that the monster is going to eat you instead of half the kingdom! Not many princesses are considered as important as half the kingdom!”

Heck of a bedside manner on this guy, huh?

The princess knew that what her father said must be true, and she did her best to look cheerful as they slipped the sack over her head. Once inside, however, she allowed herself to cry for she knew that no one could see her.

The sack with the princess inside was carried down to the beach and put on a high rock near the place where Suyettar’s sons were wont to come up out of the water.

There’s a sign. It says “Multi-headed Serpents Only. All Others Will Be Prosecuted. No Lifeguard On Duty. Do Not Feed The Twenty-Four-Headed-Otters.”

“Don’t be frightened, my daughter!” the king called out as he and all the court started back to the castle. “You will not have to wait for long, for it will soon be evening.”

…I see that we’ll be making up for the restraint of the previous king here. “It’s okay, honey! The monster will eat you at any moment! Isn’t that an ego-boost?”

Log and his companions watched the king’s party disappear and then Three Bottles solemnly drank down the three bottles of strong waters with which his own King had equipped him.

*glug glug glug*

“I’m goodsh. Lemme at ‘im. What’re you lookin’ at, anyway? Think you’re so speshul ‘cos you’re a damn LOG. Well, you’re not. You’re not speshul. You’re not better’n me. You’re just a damn…piece of…wood…

*sniff*

I din’t mean it, man. I love you. You know I do. You’re…like…my besht friend, man. Log. Wha’ever..”

As he was ready to mount his horse, he handed Log the leash to which his dog was attached.

“If I need help,” he said, “I’ll throw back my shoe and then you then release my dog.”

Both shoes are for wussies. Real men fight drunk, with one shoe, and their dog. Sort of like Rocky III meets Old Yeller.

With that he rode boldly down to the beach, dismounted, and climbed up the rock where the unfortunate princess lay in a sack. With one slash of the sword he ripped open the sack and dragged the princess out. She supposed of course that he was the three-headed serpent and at first was so frightened that she kept her eyes tightly shut not daring to look at him. She expected every minute to have him take a first bite and, when minutes and more minutes and more minutes still went by and he did not, she opened her eyes a little crack to see what was the matter.

“Oh!” the princess said. She was so surprised that for a long time she did not dare to take another peep.

“You thought I was the three-headed serpent, did not you?” a pleasant voice asked. “But I’m not. I’m only a young man who has come to rescue you.”

Fortunately he had time to sober up while she was peeping.

The princess murmured, “Oh!” again, but this time the “Oh!” expressed happy relief.

The third “Oh!” expresses something else again, but we got that out of our systems early on.

“Yes,” repeated the young man, “I am the hero who has come to rescue you. My comrades call me Three Bottles. And while we are waiting for the serpent to come in from the sea I wish you would scratch my head.”

…ah….is he still drunk?

The princess was not in the least surprised at this request. Heroes and monsters and fathers seemed always to want their heads scratched.

I…wait…what?

Um…

Is this a euphemism for…no, she said fathers, and he doesn’t seem like that kind of king, with the sobbing and the bad bedside manner and whatnot. Dumb, but well-meaning.  So…uh…huh. How ’bout that?

So Three Bottles stretched himself at the princess’ feet and put his head in her lap. He settled himself comfortably and she scratched his head while he gazed out over the dark sea waiting for the serpent to appear.

Is Three Bottles a large dog or a unicorn or something? “The Unicorn With The Iron Liver!” Man, that’d be a helluva furry kung-fu flick.

At first there was nothing to break the glassy surface of the water. They waited, and at last far out they saw three swirling masses rolling landward.

“Quick, princess!” Three Bottles cried. “There comes the monster now! Get down behind the rock and hide there while I meet the creature and chop off his ugly heads!”

I am fortified with head-scratches…apparently…

The princess, quivering with fright, crouched down behind the rock and Three Bottles, mounting his horse, rode boldly down to the water’s edge awaiting the serpent’s coming.

It came nearer and nearer in long easy swirls, slowly lifting its three scaly heads one after another. As it approached shore it sniffed the air hungrily. “Fee, fi, fo, fum!” it muttered in a deep voice, repeating the magic rime it had learned from its evil mother, Suyettar,

“Fee, fi, fo, fum!

I smell some yum, yum!

I’ll fall on him with a thud!

I’ll pick his bones and drink his blood!

Fee,fi, fo, fum! Yum! Yum!”

I can only guess that “Fee fi fo fum” is the monster equivalent of one of those old traditional tunes that everybody keeps putting new lyrics to. Or maybe it’s like how Emily Dickenson all scans to “Yellow Rose of Texas.”

“Stop boasting, son of Suyettar!” Three Bottles cried. “You’ll have time enough to boast after you fight.”

“Fight?” repeated the serpent as if in surprise. “Shall we fight, pretty boy, you and I? Very well! Blow then with your sweet breath, blow out a long level platform of red copper whereon we can meet and try our strength each with the other!”‘

“Nay,” answered Three Bottles. “You blow, and instead of red copper we shall have a platform of black iron.”

Oh, this is marvelous fairy tale detail. Head-scratches…little off, but blowing the platforms is just the thing.

So the serpent blew and on the iron platform that came of his breath, Three Bottles met him in combat. Back and forth they raged, Three Bottles striking right and left with his mighty sword, the serpent hitting at Three Bottles with all his scaly heads and belching forth fire and smoke from all his mouths. Three Bottles whacked off one scaly head and at last a second one, but he was unable to touch the third.

“I shall have to have help,” he acknowledged to himself finally, and reaching down he took one of his shoes and threw it over his shoulder back to his comrades who were awaiting the outcome of the struggle. At once they loosed the dog which bounded forward to its master’s assistance, and soon with the dog’s help Three Bottles was able to dispatch the last head.

Go, dog!

He was faint now with weariness and his comrades had to help him back to the old woman’s hut where he soon fell asleep.

She’s a quest-giver, an encyclopedia, and a bed & breakfast. This woman does everything. Forget the princess, marry her.

Night passed and dawn appeared. A great cry of relief and thanksgiving went up from all the earth.

“The dawn! The dawn!” people cried. “God bless the man who has released the dawn!”

Only at the castle was there sorrow still.

“My poor oldest daughter!” the king cried with tears in his eyes. “It was my sacrifice of her that has released the dawn!”

Then he called his servants and gave them orders to gather up his daughter’s bones and to bring back the leather sack.

“We shall need it again tonight,”he said.

I may be the king and have a huge castle and all, but leather sacks aren’t cheap!

He wiped his eyes and for a moment could say no more. “Yes, tonight we shall have to sew up my second daughter and offer her to the six-headed serpent, him that holds captive the moon. Otherwise the monster will devour half my kingdom, half the castle, and half the shining stones. Ail Ail Ail”

But the servants when they went to the high rock on the seashore found, not the princess’ bones, but the princess herself, sitting there with her chin in her hand, gazing down on the beach which was strewn with the fragments of the three-headed serpent.

“Sure, the serpent’s dead. But where’s that nice man I gave head-scratches to? Was I not supposed to scratch on the first date? Is he going to call?”

They led her back to her father and reported the marvel they had seen.

“There, king, lies the monster on the sand with all his heads severed! So huge are the heads that it would need three men with derricks to move one of them!”

“Some unknown hero has rescued my oldest daughter!” the king cried.

“Actually, he said his name was Thr–”

“I SAID, some unknown hero has rescued my oldest daughter!”

“Would that another might come tonight to rescue my second child likewise! But, alas! what hero is strong enough to destroy the six-headed monster?”

So when evening came they sewed the second princess in the sack and carried her out to the rock. Log and his companions saw the procession move down from the castle and they saw that the castle was again disturbed, one half of it laughing and one half weeping.

“It’s the second princess tonight,” the old woman told them. “Unless her father, the king, gives her to the six-headed serpent, the monster will come and eat half the kingdom, half the castle, and half the shining stones. He it is that holds the moon captive and the hero that slays him will release the moon.”

Yeah, yeah, we get it. It’s a pretty straightforward mathematical progression. Three, six, Log. 

I’m getting kind of curious about the shining stones, though. What are they? Are they like the magic rocks in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom? How do they work?

Then he whom his comrades called Six Bottles cried out, “Here is work for me!”

He drank bottle after bottle of the strong waters until he had emptied six. “Now I am ready!” he shouted.

He then staggered four steps, vomited in a heroic fashion, drunk-dialed several exes, and then Log cleared his throat a few times and Six Bottles got the hint.

He mounted his mighty horse and as he rode off he called to his comrades, “If I need help I’ll throw back a shoe and then you unleash my dog!”

He rode to the rock on the shore and dismounted. Then he climbed the rock and released the second princess. He told her who he was and as they awaited the arrival of the six-headed serpent he lay at the princess’ feet and she scratched his head.

This might actually be less weird if it’s a euphemism, but I kinda think she’s really scratching his head.

This time the serpent came in six mighty swirls with six awful heads that reared up one after another. In terror the second princess hid behind the rock while Six Bottles, mounting his horse, rode boldly down to the water’s edge.

Like his brother serpent this one, too, came sniffing the air hungrily, muttering the magic rime he had learned from his mother, wicked Suyettar:

“Fee, fi, fo, fum!

I smell some yum, yum!

I’ll fall on him with a thud!

I’ll pick his bones and drink his blood!

Fee,fi, fo, fum! Yum! Yum!”

“Stop boasting!” Six Bottles cried. “You will have time enough to boast after you fight!”

“Fight?” repeated the serpent scornfully. “Shall we fight, little one, you and I? Very well! Blow then with your sweet breath, blow out a long level platform of white silver whereon we can meet and try our strength one with the other.”

“No,” answered Six Bottles. “You blow instead, and let it be a platform of red copper,”

Elegant! Unlike the poetry!

So the serpent blew and on the copper platform that came of his breath Six Bottles met him in combat. Back and forth they raged, Six Bottles striking left and right with his mighty sword, the serpent hitting at Six Bottles with every one of his six scaly heads and belching forth fire and smoke from all his mouths. Six Bottles whacked off one head, then another, then another. At last he had disposed of five heads. He tried hard to strike the last, but by this time the serpent had grown wary and Six Bottles’ own strength was waning. So he reached down and took one of his shoes and threw it over his shoulder back to his comrades who were awaiting the outcome of the struggle. At once they loosed the dog which bounded forward to its master’s assistance. Soon, with the dog’s help Six Bottles was able to dispatch the last head.

These are awesome dogs. My beagle would bay hysterically, wet himself, and the best I could hope for is that one of the heads would choke to death on him.

Then I’d be sad. And no amount of head-scratches would help.

Then his comrades led him, weary from the fight, to the old woman’s hut, and soon he fell asleep.

While he slept, the moon appeared in the sky and a great cry of relief and thanksgiving went up from all the world, “The moon! The moon! God bless the man who has released the moon!”

The king was awakened by the sound and looked out the castle window. When he saw the moon had returned to its place in the sky, his eyes overflowed with grief. “My poor second daughter!” he cried. “It was my sacrifice of her that has released the moon! Tomorrow morning I will send the servants to gather up her bones and to bring back the leather sack into which, alas! I must then sew my youngest daughter for the nine-headed serpent. Ai! Ai! Ai! How sad it is to be a father!”

THERE WILL BE NO HEAD SCRATCHES FOR ANYONE.

But on the morrow when the servants went to the rock they found the second princess sitting there alone gazing down on the scattered fragments of the six-headed serpent.

“Here she is, safe and sound!” they reported to the king as they led the second princess to him. And, marvel of marvels! on the beach below the rock lies the body of the six-headed serpent torn to pieces! Its heads, king, are so monstrous that six men with derricks could scarcely move one of them!”

Derricks? Where’d they get derricks? Is this an oil rich country?

“God be praised!” the king cried. “Another unknown hero has come and saved the life of my second child! Would that a third might come tonight and rescue my youngest child! Alas, she is dearer to me than both the others,

We are standing RIGHT HERE, Dad.

but I fear me that even if there be heroes who could dispatch the first two serpents, there is never one who can touch him of the nine heads that holds the mighty sun a captive!”

And the poor king wept, so sure was he that nothing could save the life of his youngest child.

When Log and his companions heard of the king’s grief, Log at once stood forth and said, “This last and mightiest battle is for me!” He opened the strong waters and drank bottle after bottle till he had emptied nine. “Now let night come as soon as it will!” he cried. “I am ready for the monster!”

Log has a liver made of oak and is thus only slightly tipsy.

He started forth, telling his comrades he would throw back a shoe if he needed help from his dog.

So it was Log himself who slashed open the sack for the third time and released the youngest princess who was much more beautiful than her sisters. She fell in love with the mighty hero on first sight and was so thrilled with his godlike beauty

Hang on, when did he go from loglike to godlike? Nobody mentioned that Log was a studmuffin. We covered good, strong, kind and gentle, but nobody said he was pretty.

that when he put his head in her lap she hardly knew what to do–

It’s okay, baby. True Log Waits.

–although her father always declared that she scratched his head much better than either of her sisters.

Oh god, no. Just no. I don’t even know what….no. Just…ewww. I mean, it’s a sad day when the BEST possible explanation is headlice.

They had not long to wait for soon all the sea was a glitter with the swirls of the ninefold monster who was coming to shore with the captive sun in his keeping.

“Wait for me behind the rock!” Log cried to the princess as he leapt on his horse and started forward. “Be careful!” the princess cried after him.

Nearer and nearer came the swirls of the nine-coiled monster. One after another of his nine heads rose and fell as he approached, and every head sniffed more hungrily as it came nearer, and each head rumbled as it sniffed,

“Fee, fi, fo, fum!

I smell some yum, yum!

I’ll fall on him with a thud!

I’ll pick his bones and drink his blood!

Fee,fi, fo, fum! Yum! Yum!”

Does Log even have blood? What is the serpent smelling, anyway? Sap?

Is this actually an extemporaneous song about what the serpent is experiencing, or is this the monster equivalent of the football fight song? Does our side get a fight song?

Log, Log, he’s our log!

If he can’t do it, we’ll send in the dog!

“Stop boasting!” Log cried. “You will have time enough to boast after you fight!”

“Fight?” roared the awful monster. “Shall we fight, poor infant, you and I? Very well! Then blow out a long level platform of shining gold. On it, we can meet and try our strength each with the other!”

“No!” Log answered. “You blow. And instead of shining gold we shall have a platform of white silver.”

So the monster blew and on the silver platform that came of his breath Log met him in combat. Back and forth they raged, Log striking right and left with his mighty sword, the serpent hitting at Log with all his nine scaly heads and belching forth fire and smoke from all his nine mouths. Log whacked off head after head until six lay gaping on the sand. But the last three he could not get.

Suddenly he pointed behind the serpent and cried, “Quick! Quick! The sun!”

Log is surprisingly cunning for a were-tree.

The serpent looked around and Log whacked off a head. Now only two remained, but try as he would Log could get neither of them. Again he tried a subterfuge.

“Your wife! See, over there, they’re abusing her!”

The monster looked and Log whacked off another head.

Wait–hang on–time out. This is…actually, that’s sort of not-cool of Log, and sort of sweet of the serpent to go “What? Where? Honey! Are you okay?” This is the only even remotely nice thing we see out of a serpent, and y’know, it puts them in a whole new light, really.

But one now remained and as usual it was the hardest of them all to get. Log felt his strength waning while the monster seemed more nimble than ever.

“I shall have to have help,” Log thought.

He threw back his shoe to his comrades and they at once loosed his dog.

He’s very reluctant to call in the dog. I suppose when you’re a were-tree, you have a different sort of relationship to dogs and their…habits.

With the dog’s help Log was soon able to dispatch the last head. Then Three Bottles and Six Bottles helped him off his horse and supported him to the old woman’s hut where he soon fell into a deep sleep.

The next morning the blessed sun rose at his proper time and people all over the world fell on their knees with thanksgiving, and weeping with joy they cried out, “The sun! The sun! God bless the man who has released the sun!”

At the castle they woke up the king with the good news but the king only shook his head and murmured in grief, “Yes, the sun is released but what do I care now that my youngest daughter has been sacrificed!”

Hello? Two living daughters over here! And the farmers in the kingdom are probably pretty happy about that photosynthesis thing happening again.

He dispatched the servants to gather up her bones. They returned bringing the princess herself and telling a marvelous tale of the beach littered with nine severed heads so huge that it would need nine men with derricks to move one of them.

“What manner of heroes are these who have rescued my daughters!” cried the king. “Let them come forth and I will give them my daughters for wives and half my riches for dowry! But they will have to prove themselves the actual heroes by bringing to the castle the heavy heads of the monsters they have slain.”

When Log and his fellows heard this, they laughed with happiness and, strengthening themselves with deep draughts of the strong waters, they gathered together the many heads of the mighty serpents, bore them to the castle, and piled them up at the king’s feet. Then Log stepped forward and said: “Here we are, come to claim our reward!”

Three-Bottles and Six-Bottles were staggering a bit and thought it was best to let Log talk.

The king, true to his promise, gave them his daughters in marriage, the oldest to Three Bottles, the second to Six Bottles, and the youngest to Log. Then he apportioned them the half of his riches and, after much feasting and merrymaking, the heroes took their brides and their riches and bidding the king farewell started homewards.

As they rode through a great forest, they sighted a tiny hut. Log motioned his comrades to wait for him quietly, as he crept forward to see who was in the hut. It was well he was cautious for inside the hut was Suyettar herself talking to two other old hags.

The most impressive thing about this is that the old woman didn’t have to tell him to do it.

“Ay,” she was saying, “they have slain my three beautiful sons, my mighty offspring that held captive the sun and the moon and the dawn! But I tell you, sisters, they will pay the penalty. . . .”

To hear better, Log changed himself into a piece of firewood and slipping inside the hut hid himself in the woodpile near the stove.

Holy crap, TIME OUT AGAIN.

I was mostly joking about the were-wood thing! You’re telling me that in addition to godlike beauty, all around boy-scoutness, he can turn himself into firewood?

This is…potentially a rather dangerous talent, now that I think of it. “Hey, Martha, throw another log on the–Oh! Log! I didn’t realize you were…hiding in the woodpile…like a weirdo…”

We do not learn nearly enough of Log’s childhood. Did he hide in the woodpile to avoid spankings? Did he turn into firewood on the playground when embarrassed? This is rich story territory, people!

“Ay, they will pay the penalty!” Suyettar repeated. “I shall have my revenge on them! A fine supper Suyettar shall soon have, yum, yum!

I’ll fall on them with a thud!

I’ll pick their bones and drink their blood!

Fools, fools, to think they can escape Suyettar’s anger!”

Hey, that didn’t rhyme…

“But sister, sister,” the two old hags asked, “how will you get them?”

Suyettar looked this way and that to make sure that no one was listening.

Nobody suspects…the firewood!

Then she whispered, “This is how I shall get them: As they come through this forest, the three men with their brides, I. shall send on them a terrible hunger. Then they shall come suddenly on a table spread with tempting food. One bite of that food and they are in my power, he-he! Ay, sisters, tonight Suyettar will have a fine supper! Nothing can save them unless, before they touch the food, someone make the sign of the moss three times over the table. Then table and food would disappear and also the ravening hunger. But even if that happens, Suyettar shall still get them!”

“How, sister, how?” the other two asked.

“Then I should send on them consuming thirst, and then put in their pathway a spring of cold sparkling water. One drop of that water and they are in my power, he-he! Nothing can save them from me unless, before their lips touch the water, someone make the sign of the bark three times over the spring. At that the spring would disappear and also their thirst.

But even if they escape the spring, I shall still get them. I shall send great heaviness on them and a longing for sleep, then let them come on a row of soft inviting feather beds. If they cast themselves on the beds, they are mine, he-he! to feast on as I will! Nothing can save them but that someone make the sign of the tree-top three times over the beds before they touch them.

Oh, sisters, I shall get them one way or another for there is no one to warn them. If there was anyone to warn them, he wouldn’t dare tell them what he knows, for he would also know that if he told them he would himself be turned into a blue cross and have to stand forever in the cemetery.”

There is a lot to digest here.

What are the sign of the moss, bark, and tree? And what a novel punishment that last is. Suyettar is certainly novel.

As Log knew now all the dangers that threatened, he slipped away from the woodpile and, when he was outside, took his own shape and hurried back to his comrades.

…this seems to imply that he can move as firewood.

The mind boggles. Are little barky bits wiggling along like millipede legs? Is he hopping? Is he rolling down stairs and over the neighbor’s dog?

“Away!” he cried. “We are in great danger!” They all spurred their horses and rode swiftly on until Three Bottles suddenly cried, “Hold, comrades, hold! I am faint with hunger!”

“Me, too!” cried Six Bottles.

At that instant a great table, laden with delicious food, appeared before them.

“Look!” cried the one of them.

“Food!” cried the other.

They flung themselves from their horses and ran towards the table; But quick as they were, Log was quicker. He reached the table first and, raising his hand, made the sign of the moss three times. The table disappeared as suddenly as it had come and with it the strange hunger that had but now consumed them.

Sign of the moss. Still baffled. I am wavering between crossing oneself and shining the Moss-signal over Gotham. “He’ll be here as soon as he can, Commissioner! Which is about an inch a season, unless we treat the Joker with buttermilk!”

“Strange!” Three Bottles exclaimed. “I thought I was hungry, but I’m not!”

“I thought I saw food just now,” Six Bottles said. “I must have been dreaming.”

So they mounted again and pushed on.

“Danger threatens us,” said Log. “We must hurry and not dismount no matter what the temptation.”

They agreed, but then one of them cried out, and then the other, “Water! Water! We shall soon perish unless we have water!”

At once by the wayside appeared a spring of cool sparkling water and it was all Log could do to reach it before his fellows. He did get there first and made the sign of the bark three times, so that the spring disappeared and with it the thirst which had but now consumed them all.

“I thought I was thirsty,” Three Bottles said, “but I’m not!”

“Why did we dismount?” Six Bottles asked. “There’s no water here.”

So again they mounted and went forward, and Log, warning them again that danger threatened, begged them not to dismount a third time no matter what the temptation.

They promised they would not, but soon, complaining of fatigue, they wanted to. Their brides, too, swayed in the saddle, overcome with weariness and sleep.

“Dear Log,” they said, “let us rest for an hour. See, our brides are drooping with fatigue! One hour’s sleep and we shall all be refreshed!”

At once beside them on the forest floor they saw three soft white feather beds. Log leaped to the ground, but before he was able to make the sign of the tree-top over more than one of the beds, his comrades and their brides had fallen headlong on the other two.

And that was the end of poor Three Bottles and Six Bottles and their two lovely brides. There was no way now of saving them from Suyettar. She had them in her power and nothing would induce her to give them up.

Well, that was abrupt and depressing.

I hope they slept peacefully and dreamed of head scratches.

As Log and his bride sadly mounted their horse and rode on they heard an evil voice chanting out in triumph, “I’ll fall on them with a thud, he-he! I’ll pick their bones and drink their blood, he-he!”

…doesn’t bode well. I note that he doesn’t even try to fix it, though—nope, not happening, very sad, time to go home, I guess. Clearly Suyettar was a tough customer.

“Poor fellows! Poor fellows!” Log said, and the princess wept to think of the awful fate that had overtaken her two sisters.

Well, Log and his bride reached home without further adventure and were received by the king with great honors.

“I knew my heroes were succeeding,” the king said, “when first the dawn appeared again, and then the moon, and last the mighty sun. All hail to you, Log, and to your two comrades! But, by the way, where are Three Bottles and Six Bottles?”

“Your Majesty,” Log said, “Three Bottles and Six Bottles were brave men both. By their prowess they released the one the dawn, the other the moon. Then in an evil adventure on the way home they perished. I can tell you no more.”

“You can tell me no more?” the king said. “Why can you tell me no more? What was the evil adventure in which they perished?”

“If I told you, king, then I, too, should perish, for I should be turned into a blue cross and stood forever in the cemetery!”

“What nonsense!” the king exclaimed. “Who would turn you into a blue cross and stand you forever in the cemetery?”

“That is what I cannot tell you,” Log said.

The king laughed and pressed Log no further,

Ha ha, everybody else is dead and the god-like heroic kind gentle beautiful strong sexy hunk of were-firewood is depressed and appears sworn to silence! I’m so amused!

but the people of the kingdom, scenting a mystery, insisted on knowing in detail what had happened the other two heroes. So the rumor began to spread that Log himself had done away with them in order that he might gather to himself all the glory of the undertaking.

I guess maybe everybody didn’t love Log.

The king was forced at last to send for him again and to demand a full account of everything.

Log realized that his end was near. He met it bravely. Commending to the king’s protection his lovely princess, Log related how the three mighty serpents whom they had killed were sons of Suyettar, and how in revenge Suyettar had succeeded in destroying Three Bottles and Six Bottles together with their brides. Then he told the fate about to overtake himself.

Oh god, it really is Old Yeller!

“He’s my log, ma. I’ll do it.”

He finished speaking and as the king and the court looked at him, to their amazement he disappeared.

Log, nooo!

“To the cemetery!” someone cried.

They all went to the cemetery where at once they found a fresh blue cross that had come there nobody knew how. There it stands to this day, a reminder of the life and deeds of the mighty hero Log.

*sniffle* I hope they put up a nice plaque, the jerks.

The king was overcome with sorrow at losing such a hero. He took Log’s bride under his protection and he found her so beautiful and so gentle that soon he fell in love with her and married her.

Ah…huh. How nice for her. I’m sure that wasn’t awkward at all.

Well. It was no twenty-four-headed otter tale, perhaps, but if you had told me that the most sympathetic hero we’d find in a long time was a piece of sentient firewood, I…would probably have believed you, actually. But still. Nooo! Log! We hardly knew ye!

Clearly Log needs to be resurrected in fan-fic. Dr. Who crossover, maybe. My Little Log. Team Log! LOGS DO NOT SPARKLE. THEY ARE TOO MANLY TO SPARKLE AND ALSO THEY ARE LOGS.

…still kinda weirded out by the head-scratching thing, though.

Originally published at Tea with the Squash God. You can comment here or there.


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I feel better now. Do you feel better now?

Do you want to sing the Log Song from Ren & Stimpy first? Okay. Go ahead. I’ll wait.


Was already doing it as soon as I saw the post title.

Do Not Feed The Twenty-Four-Headed-Otters.

Nice callback!

Remind me which one the 24-headed otters were in???

One of my ex-boyfriends absolutely loved to have his head scratched. He'd get this stupid happy face and I half expected his leg to start kicking.

It's not head scratching like your head itches. It's stroking gently with your nails in long sweeps. You do the neck, too. It's extremely pleasant.

I suppose it's suitable for fathers and daughters. I only do it with my girlfriend, so maybe it's time for the foot massage discussion.

I would very much like to meet the twenty-four-headed otters, incidentally. I won't feed them.

I love your commentaries, they evoke shrieks of laughter :)

Shame about the sad ending though, poor Log. They didn't really go in for the santised happy endings in those days, did they? More like 'Life sucks sometimes, deal with it'.

Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of witches?

The firewood does!

It's strangely fitting that the log should become a wooden cross.

LOG.

(Hanging out in the woodpile. As you do. I wonder if he was much plagued with bark-beetles, as a teenager.)

Annotating your annotations

skiriki

2012-12-04 12:20 pm (UTC)

Speaking as a Finn, it is a delight to see someone reviewing Finnish folktales. ;)

Now, some notes...

"Suyettar" -- apparently someone messed up with this, HARD. This is not a word, nor a name in Finnish. I'm going to guess that they meant "Syöjätär", which means "Devourer" (with -tar/tär diminutive noting that it is a female one doing Devouring). This, of course, is not your fault, the original translator goofed up. Just noted for better understanding of the whole thing.

"Strong waters" is probably a corruption of "väkijuoma", where "väki" means "strong" and "juoma" means "drink", aka "strong spirits". Or, the translator was a prude who thought that the topic of alcohol is not suitable for children in English-speaking countries. (Less of an issue here.)

"Both shoes are for wussies. Real men fight drunk, with one shoe, and their dog."

Ah, so you HAVE seen a Finnish Friday evening then? Jolly good! :D

"Fee, fi, fo, fum!" -- I have no idea where the heck the translator has pulled this one. This is so out of character for our fairytales, so I'm gonna guess the location for this nugget is somewhere from the southward direction, if you catch my drift.

"Head scratching" probably refers to a form of massage given where you indeed put your head to someone's lap and have them stroke and knead your scalp. Yes, it does involve grooming and removal of unwanted wildlife from your hair.

"He then staggered four steps, vomited in a heroic fashion, drunk-dialed several exes, and then Log cleared his throat a few times and Six Bottles got the hint."

Man, your expertise just gets better. This is Saturday night over here.

About downer ending: while we do have our share of stories like that, this seems slightly out of character for them. Possibly a less-known variant.

Fee fi fo fum
I smell the blood of an Englishman

Which is a bit of a giveaway that it it very English: the Giant in Jack and the Beanstalk chants it when he smells Jack hiding in his castle before he is distracted by events.

...Oh man, my ribs hurt and the cat is looking at me funny. XD

WOOD WOOD WOOD WOOD WOOD dick joke WOOD!

You don't need an oil industry for derricks, just a hangman:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Derrick
I am sure that a fairytale castle could run to one of those if needed.

I am delighted that the idea that one's heroic capability is in bottles of "strong water". I am sure Sir John Falstaff would approve. It avoids so much of that tedious working out in the armoury and those hours with the fencing master.

…waters of great strength. Uh-huh. Is that what they’re calling it these days?
Usquebaugh, meaning "water of life", is the origin of the name whisky. So that is what they were calling it those days.

Usquebaugh, meaning "water of life", is the origin of the name whisky.

See also: Akvavit and eau de vie.

Every time you post one of these, I start out vowing to myself that this time I will get through it sitting properly in the chair.

I've never succeeded. Laughing too hard to keep balance.

Thank you. That was great!

I wonder, though, are multi-headed serpents something that you HAVE to be drunk before you can see them?

"The name's Log," he said after downing another pint of strong water. "Log A'Rhythm."

(Hah! This is priceless stuff! I love these, thank you for giving us another.)

His cousin, Log I'Metric, could not be reached for comment.


I still really want to see that 24 headed otter...

Please, please collect these into a book so I can give it out as a present.

Bwah-ha-ha-ha! I'm SOOO glad I wasn't drinking my coffee when I read this!

"It's Log, it's Log!
It's big, it's heavy, it's wood.
It's Log, it's Log!
It's better than bad, it's good!"

I wonder if Log had wood for sheep, too.*


*Classic KODT joke.

Edited at 2012-12-04 03:01 pm (UTC)

Ow ow ow ow ow. Glad I'm not the only one who had the Settlers of Catan joke cross his mind.

Note to self:

DO NOT drink coffee, (or anything else) when reading Ursula's annotated fairytales! It's bad for the keyboard.


This reminds me of a story my grandmother told me once. But I'm pretty sure the hero was named Alder, not Log.

If you're Finnish, the hero of the story is called "Leppäpölkky" aka Alderlog.

This post...

It is so full of LULZ.

It is your best fairy tale dissection ever, Ursula!

Thank you for sharing. ^_^

Interesting! I thought at first with the alcohol and the multi-headed serpents that this was going to be similar to the Japanese story of Orochi*, but no, turns out the bottles of booze were just like power-ups or something. 3 bottles of whiskey = +3 against magic serpents?


*Orochi, for the unfamiliar, is an eight-headed serpent who comes in and demands a tribute of pretty young women to eat, you know, as serpents do. He is defeated by the god Susano-o preparing eight vats of particularly potent sake. After Orochi drinks the sake, his heads all fall asleep, and Susano-o comes in and chops off the heads.

Edited at 2012-12-04 06:01 pm (UTC)

Orochi is also the Big Bad Boss for the video game "Okami", which is full of gorgeous graphics, clever dialogue, nifty magic powers and a Susano-o that gets short shrift. Then again, Okami is the goddess Amaterasu in wolf form.

I was tickled pink to find out how much Shinto mythology went into that game.

1)Thank you, for despite the plague, this made me laugh, a lot.

2) Head scratching is just another form of massage. My husband really likes it, and will curl up on the couch or bed while I'm watching TV or reading, so that I can scratch his head. It's one of the foundations of our relationship: he likes to get headscratches, and I like to give them. He is of viking lineage (per Nat'l Geo's DNA project), so maybe there's a genetic predisposition to liking head scratching in that population.

3) re: Ren/Stimpy log: When we bought our house, the prior owners staged it with one pretty wood log next to the fireplace. I took one look and quietly screamed to my husband, 'It's LOG!'. We eventually placed it on a pedestal in the corner of the living room for four years, until we could no longer ignore the falling bark.

RE: 2

I can support the ethnic thing, because my dearly departed husband had both slavic and nordic blood and he was also one who loved head scratches. I called it "Hair Loving" because he had wonderful curly hair I loved to play with.

Personally, I'd like to know why half the castle was laughing at the thought of the princesses being devoured by monsters.

Presumably they are just being generally full of revelry as they are the half of the kingdom that isn't going to get eaten?

(mix of the commentated version and the one skiriki found. Er, also I am only tangentially familiar w/ a certain series. XD;;)

Now it came to be that the beautiful Katrina, who had married Log and later the king who had caused Log's death, would visit her first husband in the cemetary when she was sad. As Log had been turned into a blue wooden cross, she could always easily find him.

One day, as she approached the blue cross, she found a strange man looking there. She greeted him politely, for though he was strangely dressed, he seemed very cheerful.

"Oh, hullo," the man said. "Do you know this blue cross is alive? There's some sort of spatial restriction in place around it. I've never seen anything like it. It looks like it's forcing a natural morphic field into a certain configuration, from what I can tell."

Realizing that the man must be a powerful wizard, Katrina told him the whole tale of her husband Log, of the Syöjätär and her serpent sons who had captured the dawn, the moon, and the sun, and how Log and his two companions had defeated them. Then she sighed heavily and told the wizard about what had happened afterwards, and how Log had been turned into a blue cross.

"And the king made you marry him?" the wizard asked, "How's that going?"

Katrina thought it an odd question, but she supposed it went with being an odd wizard. "I am not unhappy, for he does not beat me, and I have given him two sons and a daughter in five years." The wizard must have cast a small spell on her, for she found herself adding, "though I would that I could still be married to Log, for he was kind and brave, and not too proud to put his head in my lap so that I could scratch his head."

The wizard muttered something about 'odd euphemisms,' and pointed his metal wand at the blue cross. "Say, what would you give to have Log back?"

Katrina thought hard about this, for making deals with wizards could be dangerous. At last she admitted that she would give anything in her power to give, except the lives of her children.

"Would you run away from the king, leave the kingdom, and never come back here?"

This was a serious matter, for she would be breaking her marriage vows, but at last she admitted that she would, if only she could have Log back.

"Excellent!" the wizard exclaimed, and tapped his wand on the blue cross. There was a bright flash of light, and Log stood there, bewildered but joyful to see his wife again.

Katrina explained to Log what had happened, and, still hugging Katrina, Log asked the wizard if there was anything he might do as thanks.

"Well, if you're offering, would you two like to travel with me? I've never had an Alderlognivikian on board before."

And that is how Katrina and Log came to travel with the great wizard and his magical blue tower.

"I suppose it’s probably very calming being were-wood. Maybe on the full moon you just stand out in the garden and root."

I desperately needed the belly laugh this line caused. Thank you. :)

Well thanks to YOU now my cat, dog and teen aged son think I'm absolutely nuts!

That was great!

I was chuckling throughout the piece, but "If he can’t do it, we’ll send in the dog!" very nearly caused a spit-take.

By the time I got to this:

Log, Log, he’s our log!

If he can’t do it, we’ll send in the dog!


I had my head down on the table and tears running from my eyes. Thank you so much!

Yeah, that was the best part of the whole thing!

"True Log Waits" needs to be on a shirt. So I can wear it. Every day.


Also, Team Log. Then I could alternate shirts.

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