golden fleece

A micro-vacation, Part VI: Excess and opulence to rival Asgard’s

After a lunch of quadruple-P museum cafe food (pre-packaged, pretentious, and pricey), we are ready to drive a mile or so, play “hunt the parking space” again, and visit another museum.

Can you guess which one?

This is the Museum of Fine Arts, and we’re here to take in an exhibit about the Habsburgs. They were a family who sat on thrones over much of the part of Midgard called “Europe” for many centuries. Their strategy seems to have been to breed enough offspring to marry into every noble family there was. Bouncing baby Habsburgs everywhere! Look, here are two of them. Brothers, I think.

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At first glance they appear to be friendly, don’t they? But look, you can see the older doesn’t quite trust the younger. This is all too familiar. Run, lad! Run away! Older siblings will make your life a misery! Plus, you’re probably adopted.

A wind trio is warbling period music in the gallery, just to set the tone. There are a lot of fine and fancy things on display. A carriage. A sleigh. Portraits. Costly, ostentatious, and uncomfortable furniture. Gold, silver, and other elaborate treasures. Observe this–a seashell encrusted with precious metals and Midgardian sea-deities. Decidedly vulgar.

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And that thing behind it is a jumped-up coconut. Gaudy, that’s what they are.

Sigyn and the human female are most interested in the textiles. There’s a rather splendid tapestry that is taking up one whole wall. Foliage, coat of arms, foliage, martial figures, more foliage, more arms, more foliage, blah, blah, blah. Asgardians don’t “do” coats of arms, so I find them to be so much incomprehensible geometry, but I can certainly appreciate good weaving. (Frigga is good at it.) The human female says that most of the plants are identifiable

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Even I can recognize blackberries and clover. Sigyn is in raptures.

There is also a great deal of embroidery. The human female is sort of moaning softly and Sigyn has her cute little nose pressed up against the glass, trying to see each stitch. She says the gold work is impeccable.

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It’s certainly neat. And I will allow that this is a striking uniform.

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Black and gold is always appropriate and tasteful, no matter the occasion (especially if there are touches of green.) What’s that you have over there, Sigyn? I’m trying to make out what the design is–

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The human male is saying it’s a golden sheepskin, something to do with a group of knights and nobles. “Good day, My Lord. Why, yes, I AM a member of Ye Olde Sheepe Carcasse Club.” Sorry–“Order of the Golden Fleas.” That’s Renaissance and Early Modern Midgard for you–all gold and shiny on the surface, but still making a big to-do about vermin-infested animal hides.

And here’s another version, a bit more skilfully rendered.

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You can see more of this garment here, along with a few others that are also part of this exhibit.

You know, Thor and his buddies did something similar when they were young and stupid, making themselves a super-secret little club whose emblem was a necklace made of silver herring. I changed their tacky jewelry into real herring at a feast once. As usual, there was quite a lot of alcohol about, and it was approaching dawn before anyone figured out where the fishy smell was coming from.*

Ah, family.

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*They all just thought it was Volstagg.