2164: Glacier

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The Norwegian adaptation of The Sword in the Stone takes things in a weird direction.
Title text: The Norwegian adaptation of The Sword in the Stone takes things in a weird direction.


A glacier is a wall of dense ice. Though glaciers tend to appear still, they are actually slowly moving, typically by around 10 inches (25 cm)/day.

Beret Guy and Knit Cap are facing the forward edge of a glacier. Knit Cap remarks that glaciers are amazing, mentioning the fact that though we can't see it, the ice is slowly advancing. After considering this, Beret Guy leaves, then returns with two sabres and a hairdryer. He uses the (apparently battery-powered) hairdryer to melt a small cavity into the glacier, which he then lodges the sabre into. The melted pocket then freezes over the sabre; Beret Guy then takes a defensive position. "Advancing" is a basic forward movement in fencing, and Beret Guy appears to feel it is unfair for the glacier not to have a weapon.

The title text refers to The Sword in the Stone, a famous sword in the legends of King Arthur, and Norway, a country known for its glaciers. In the original legend, the sword is set into solid rock, and enchanted so that only the true King could draw it out. The legend has been alluded to in a previous comic. The title text might be making any of several implications about a Norwegian adaptation, including:

  • The sword would be set into ice, a much less reliable and more easily-bypassed substance than stone.
  • The sword would be set in the stone (or ice) hilt-first, meaning the true King would need to pull it out by the blade.
  • The true King would not remove the sword, but rather would embed it into the stone (or ice) as Beret Guy has done here. – As Terry Pratchett wrote: "What’s so hard about pulling a sword out of a stone? The real work’s already been done. You ought to make yourself useful and find the man who put the sword in the stone in the first place, eh?"


[Knit Cap and Beret Guy are standing to the left of a glacier.]
Knit cap person: Glaciers are so neat. You can't see it, but this ice is slowly advancing.
[Zoom in on Beret Guy, who has his hand to his mouth, thinking.]
[Zoomed in, Beret Guy exits to the left of the panel.]
[Beret Guy enters the panel from the left, carrying two fencing sabres.]
[Beret Guy uses a blow dryer to attach one of the sabres to the glacier.]
[Beret Guy is holding the blow dryer and looks at the sabre that is attached to the glacier.]
[Beret Guy stands in a defensive position with sabre in hand, ready to defend against the "advancing" glacier.]


The author of The Sword in the Stone, T. H. White, was mentioned two comics ago in 2162: Literary Opinions.

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Sssssssdedsdesedsdsdddd (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

There is something in the air - Jon Finemore has a Sword in the Stone joke in the most recent Souvenir Programme.

We long ago noticed skiing and fencing both take place on piste. However, they look at you askance when you try to fence on skis. 21:20, 17 June 2019 (UTC)

Added trivia about T.H. White's appearance two comics ago. Obviously, The Sword in the Stone is on Randall's mind lately! Ianrbibtitlht (talk) 21:34, 17 June 2019 (UTC)

I think the phrase "takes things in a weird direction" is a pun since the original Sword in the Stone had the blade buried in the stone, and in this case, the handle is buried (also, in the Sword in the Stone, the blade traditionally points toward the ground, but in this case, it is parallel to the ground) 22:48, 17 June 2019 (UTC)

I agree there could be a pun in that choice of words on the direction of the blade. Ianrbibtitlht (talk) 00:42, 18 June 2019 (UTC)

Is this saying Beret Guy is Norwegian, or is the title text just mentioning the Norwegian version offhand?V (talk) 01:15, 18 June 2019 (UTC)

I guess it just mentions Norway because Norway is quite famous for its glaciers, as well as for strange art/humor. (Don't get me wrong: I love Norway, actually lived there for 6 months and want to go back.) --Lupo (talk) 06:27, 18 June 2019 (UTC)

I'm struggling with the reference to fencing sabres in the current explanation. While it's possible that the weapons shown are indeed fencing sabres, I'm not entirely convinced because sabres appear to be less blade-like that what I see in the comic. I'm more inclined to describe the weapons in the comic as swords instead, especially since the title text refers to The Sword in the Stone. Anyone else have an opinion? Ianrbibtitlht (talk) 01:47, 18 June 2019 (UTC)

Still looking for other opinions on my sabre vs sword question. Anyone? Ianrbibtitlht (talk) 16:00, 18 June 2019 (UTC)
Additionally, The other reference to fencing in the explanation seem a bit of a stretch. The term "advancing" can be interpreted as a general term for military movement in a forward direction, so to say the comic is about fencing because "advancing" is a reference to the fencing term "advance" seems to be somewhat arbitrary, at least to me. Furthermore, the sport of fencing actually grew out of the existing defensive usage of swords, so anything related to fencing is also historically related to the use of swords in general. I have nothing against fencing, but I don't believe fencing is specifically the topic of this comic. Ianrbibtitlht (talk) 16:23, 18 June 2019 (UTC)
The stance he does looks as I, as someone who doesn't know a lot about fencing, would expect a fencing pose to look... along with the word advance which triggers his action, I am pretty sure it is about fencing in terms of the sport. According to wikipedia there are three types of fencing weapons. the foil, the épée, and the sabre (all linked in that article) out of these 3 the weapon in the comic resembles the sabre most (The form close to a classic sabre, but compared to the other 2, it seems to be the only one with a handguard going around the hand.) So I as a layperson would say: Wikipedia says sabre. --Lupo (talk) 18:25, 18 June 2019 (UTC)
Thanks for your thoughts. I also looked at the various fencing weapons on Wikipedia and thought that the sabre blade didn't look as broad as the weapons in the comic. I was also thinking that fencing as a sport was probably not common in Norway, where you might expect actual fighting with swords instead. However, I chose to pose the question here rather than force my opinion by editing the explanation. At this point, I don't feel strongly enough to make a big deal out of it. ;-) Ianrbibtitlht (talk) 19:17, 18 June 2019 (UTC)
Not just the sword, but Beret is in a classic engarde stance (sword extended, other hand waving around in the air, which I've never understood) in the final panel, which definitely implied fencing to me.Daemonik (talk) 14:13, 19 June 2019 (UTC)

My guess was the the title text was a joke based on Post-glacial Rebound. If you hold a sword over the bedrock, and wait for the rebound the sword will end up in the stone. -- 15:29, 18 June 2019 (UTC)

Added here from explanation: "Question Randall's science on this one as the consensus is that glaciers are retreating world wide. https://skepticalscience.com/himalayan-glaciers-growing.htm " (Author: Grendelsmum )signed by me, even though not my content. --Lupo (talk) 06:31, 18 June 2019 (UTC)

Note that it's completely possible even for the same piece of glacier to be both losing mass and advancing at the same time. -- Hkmaly (talk) 22:34, 18 June 2019 (UTC)

The comic refers probably to the legend of Arthur. Interestingly, Norway has its own sword in the stone, even three swords. It is believed that Norway won't fall as long as the swords are in the stone. They better give Arthur no visum. [1] Vince 06:52, 18 June 2019 (UTC)

Yes, the reference to The Sword in the Stone means it is definitely related to the King Arthur story! Ianrbibtitlht (talk) 15:56, 18 June 2019 (UTC)

The hairdryer has no cord, which doesn't exist commercially, but I happen to know that a german hairdryer company had prototypes of gas-powered cordless dryers but it never made a public appearance or product. Dodo (talk) 09:12, 18 June 2019 (UTC)

I just put "cordless hairdryer" into Amazon and there are a few available. Admittedly, they don't look very good, but they do seem to exist. Daemonik (talk) 09:31, 18 June 2019 (UTC)
I removed that part - it's simply not true. Elektrizikekswerk (talk) 12:35, 18 June 2019 (UTC)

Oh? You're approaching me? 14:48, 21 January 2020 (UTC)