miðvikudagur, september 29, 2004


You have to get used to not too many people around here, once you leave the city. In the city, it feels a bit like being in Brattleboro, it's a little bigger but not all that much bigger. But there are people walking around (sometimes the same ones you saw the last time you walked that way). But drive outside of the city even a few minutes and the civilization rapidly gives way to emptiness and vast nature. I really love this, it answers some calling in me that I had been ignoring.

þriðjudagur, september 28, 2004

cathartic release

We have a music server here at work and I been diggin' into the oldies, as it were. Some top spins from the last day:

Goo Goo Dolls, "Slide"
Smashing Pumpkins, anything from their Greatest Hits album

The latter especially makes me feel so sad for the lost 90s that I can barely listen to it. I mean, I can't even believe there is a Pumpkins greatest hits album...

laugardagur, september 25, 2004

Sigur Rós roadie

I was sitting in a restaurant (Grillhúsið) tonight and Sigur Rós came and sat at the next booth with Steindor Andersen, the rímur (singing poet). I was waiting to meet Bibbi Curver, a friend-of-a-friend who was gonna get me into their show that night for free. When they came in I was shocked in that way you are when you see people in the flesh who up until then you have only seen far away, or through the media. They were discussing their set list and some fine points of musical transitions and then Steindor launched into a little lyric and his voice made all the air around us shake...

Then, I saw them perform across the street. Their show was fantastic, accompanying still shots of a remote area of Iceland. They played from the Rímur collection and quite brilliantly. They are just unbelievably tight live. There were three blokes from England in the row behind me who had come all the way to see the show. They were beside themselves... I told them I had moved here to see the show and they laughed.

Forrest Whittaker and Julia Stiles were there. Forrest is a big, sad-faced mountain of a man, but seems really friendly and low-key. He was sitting 3 rows in front of me. After the show, I tried mingling with the Nordisk Panorama (film festival) crowd but I was neither 1) a Nordic filmmaker 2) a hero of the Icelandic arts scene, so I had trouble fitting in.

I ended up helping the Sigur Rós roadies pack up the monitor speakers (thinking of Jackson Browne's "Load Out" the whole time) and when Orri, the drummer, walked by, I told him I always had wanted to roadie for a "real rock band"... and he said "yeah!!!". I tried to talk to Jonsi also but he was evasive, and I didn't really want to bother him.

miðvikudagur, september 22, 2004

Johnny Cash

I listened to the entire, uncut recording of Johnny Cash live at San Quentin in 1969 today. Pretty awesome stuff. You can hear him asking for water and tuning his guitar and all the cheers/heckling from the prisoner crowd.

after MB's surgery

I imagine this is about the time MB is recovering from the surgery. I was just walking back from downtown, and the sun was coming out after a rainy day. I looked up and there's a sky-spanning rainbow that seems to arch over the whole city. It starts over by Mt Esja and ends on the other side of town. Now the whole western sky is clear and the buildings are all lit up in their magical Reykjavik way.

So there's a really nice sign. :-)

mánudagur, september 20, 2004

things to notice in SB email 110

Pink Floyd The Wall artwork behind StrongBad
"Blue Midget Homestar"
..."and maybe get a bite to eat"
"Stave it off 1 2 3 and now you can count to THREE"
upside down stave it off man

still laughing...


sunnudagur, september 19, 2004

partying FYI

To answer your booze-related questions, yes it's cheaper in a liquor store, but still pretty expensive. I bought a bottle of Yellowtail Chardonnay here for $21 and when I looked at the same wine in MA it was $7.99. Beer is obscenely expensive - kegs are around $180 and it's not even a full-size American keg, more like a small pony keg. The reason is that the government taxes all booze at like 200-300%, to discourage drinking. But one look at Reykjavik on a Friday night at 2 am, and you can see it isn't working.

People go out here at 12:30-2:30 and then stay out till 5 or 6. In the spring and summer when it's light out early, they stay out even longer. Usually we get together at someone's house at 9 or 10 and have some drinks and then go out after a few hours. It's an amazing party scene, and people dress really well, too. I have been wearing a suit when I go out. That makes it kind of cool, when everyone in the whole place is dressed up.

laugardagur, september 18, 2004

North Star

So I just drove down to the end of the peninsula where I live - it's very dark out there and the stars are really bright. I was looking for the aurora but nothing yet. I heard there was a great show the other night. But I looked to see if I could find the North Star, and then I did and it was almost directly overhead. Something about that really struck me, like, hey I'm not at the Cabin anymore... cause when I look for it there it's much lower in the sky...

miðvikudagur, september 15, 2004

things to do in Prague

- check out my favorite bar, Konirna, on Anenska 11, just near the west end of Karluv Most (Charles Bridge) - it has a horse hanging outside and great chances to mingle with locals
- go to TV Tower and eat in the restaurant/observatory, I think it's the Jiriho z Podebrad stop on the green-colored line
- go to summer movies, free, in the park on the island in the middle of the Vltava
- take a train to Karlstejn (castle, close by)
- explore the park right north of the river's bend, with the huge metronome (used to be a Lenin or Stalin statue) that overlooks the town
- go to the Globe Bookstore (if it's still there), the first English-language bookstore in Prague after the wall came down
- go to aGHArta Jazz Centrum, near the top of Vaclavske Namesti (Wenceslas Sq), off to the right as you walk uphill... great jazz in a cavern-like basement every night
- go to Pruhonice Sady, a beautiful garden south of the city. you need to ride the red line almost all the way south, i forget the stop, and take a bus to Pruhonice. it's a great little town just south of Prague and the gardens were really nice.
- find a movie theater that's a little out of the way, and watch English movies with Czech subtitles, delicious beer in hand.

sunnudagur, september 05, 2004

living room update

Sitting here in my living room on a Sunday night... I got here almost 4 weeks ago, and it’s hard to believe it. I have been working 3 weeks now, and really like the company. Great, smart people to work with, and the products they have are pretty good too. The most impressive part so far is that the management seems to be really on the ball w/r/t billing time, going after clients, planning work, running the show. It’s nice to see... to me, it has highlighted a lot of the weaknesses and secrecy that surrounded Galatea planning, or lack thereof.

But the best thing is the people. I have a couple of new friends there who are really turning into good ones. One of them (Asdis) just came over for dinner, and last night she and I went down to Keflavik (near the int'l airport) for a culture festival. I have been hanging out with her and Rakel from work on the weekends. These people go out at 1 am and stay out until 5 or 7... every Friday and Saturday... crazy! Reykjavik life seems to revolve around the weekends and going out with your friends all night... and people do it well into their 30s, even those with kids. It's quite common to have kids here at a young age but then continue living life more like a post-college kid than people with a family. There's much less of a line separating "family" people from "single" people - everyone is more on the same level.

The biggest culture shock here is the sticker shock. Booze is the most egregious example, cause they tax it to high heaven (a beer out at a bar for $7-$11, mixed drinks as high as $18), but gasoline runs around $6 a gallon, and even laundry detergent cost me around $30 for a large-ish box of Danish stuff. Groceries are all very expensive, too. But you get used to it, I hope. :-) Someone I met on the weekend told me she's never gotten used to it.

I love my new apartment, it’s in 101 (downtown Reykjavik's postal code), about a 10-minute walk to the heart of things. It’s in a 1920s house on a corner and I have a whole floor of the building, so windows (almost) all around. Everything I own (‘cept Heidi) came in two huge crates (1000 lbs each) and I had a trucker bring them from the dock warehouse to the sidewalk outside my door. Couple new friends helped me hoist everything up here and I spent the last few days unpacking. I’m almost there… the place is starting to come together.

Today I took the car and drove out to Thingvellir – that’s the site of the old Viking annual parliament meetings. It’s a beautiful flat plain on the north side of a calm lake. I drove all around the lake and took some great pictures... this place is indescribable. You just have to see it... it looks like nothing I've seen anywhere else, and the terrain is so varied from place to place...

I’ve been taking Icelandic lessons every morning from a teacher who claims to be the best in the country... and I believe it. She’s tough as nails, but also quite a nice lady, and I really enjoy learning from her. The coolest thing about learning the language is that you learn all kinds of obscure English word origins... cause once upon a time (800 AD or so) they were the same language... so Icelandic has a word, tunna, for barrel, and tun is a really obscure (but probably the original) English word for barrel. I only know that one from Moby-Dick. So it’s fun to see all these old words and to figure out which English words must be original and which came in from Latin, etc.

The temp today was somewhere in the 50s, with mixed rain and sun alternating all day long. That kind of weather is very common here - you can have a complete downpour and 5 minutes later nearly clear skies - and it makes for great rainbows. I saw 2 today and have been seeing some almost every day for the past week.

Twilight now lasts only until about 9 and every day it gets a little darker. The winter is coming on like a train... on 9/21 we will have 12 hours of daylight and then after that point we lose a lot more light than you so that by 12/21, we'll have only around 4 hours of daylight. Then the long march to summer begins...

I'm looking forward to Elisa arriving in October. I'm taking some of that week off of work and we're going to take a drive somewhere - probably up north to Isafjordur (Ice-fjord), a tiny settlement on the Arctic Ocean. It's beautiful there and should be a beautiful drive too. Or we might go to the south coast, which has some amazing volcanoes and waterfalls. There is a volcano that erupts every hundred years here and this is the 100th year...! So maybe we'll get to see some boomin' lava action.

the untapped genius of Jerky Boys 3

I was listening to JB-III yesterday while unpacking, for old times’ sake. They definitely still have it. There are some “lost classics” on there, especially involving Kissel, that had me in tears. (Like when Kissel calls the Best-Buy-type store cause his TV isn’t woikin’?) That album needs to be dusted off again. It’s untapped...