mánudagur, janúar 02, 2006

new year's wrapup

We had a busy and festive New Year's celebration here in the Land. Among the highlights:

A giant neighborhood bonfire on the seashore: The stack of pallets was a good 50 feet high, piled by city machinery. We went down at 8:30 on New Year's Eve as the pile was being lit. We watched it go from cute barbecue-sized fire to towering inferno in just minutes. A light snowfall mixed with the blowing sparks, and people were lighting small fireworks cakes at the periphery. The fire was so hot that the puddles at its base were evaporating rapidly, and steam from them was blowing from the ground to mix with the smoke above. The fire at times smelled a bit fishy, as no doubt many of the burning pallets had been used in the Biz. By the time we left there were hundreds of adults and kids gathered in a big circle, talking and staring enchanted at the massive blaze.

Áramótaskaup: This TV show is played to the nation at a little after 10 pm on Gamlárskvöld. (See the vocab lesson below.) It's a series of skits making fun of various Icelandic happenings and celebrities over the past year. We watched it at our friends' house, and unlike last year, I actually got a lot of it this time around and found myself laughing a lot more. Many Icelandic musicians were lampooned, including Mugison and Eivor Pálsdóttir, the Færoese songstress. They had Eivor singing in a bathroom stall and Mugison hounding a woman in an elevator. There was no obvious Bush-bashing this year (last year he was portrayed as a smiling mannequin who sat still while Iceland's Prime Minister made polite conversation with him) but I guess that ground is too well-trod by now. The worst skits involved an old couple's Threestoogian antics at Smáralind, the Ugly Mall. I could have done without those.

Fireworks at Öskjuhlíð: Close to midnight on New Year's Eve we drove to the top of the most prominent hill near downtown, Öskjuhlíð. This is the hill with the hot water tanks and overhyped Perlan restaurant. It was crammed with cars and people, mostly there to watch the spectacle, but some (like us) there to add to the fireworks mania. From the hilltop we could see the eastern part of Reykjavík plus the suburbs of Kópavogur and Garðabær. And it was all lit up and booming with constant fireworks that started getting thick around 11:45 and then really got nuts at midnight.

The fireworks sales guys had given me a little PVC tube for rocket launching so I tapped that into the ground with a mallet. The stable launching pad attracted a guy and his son who shared it with us. They had 3 big bombs and we had 4, plus another 10 or so smaller rockets. When the fuse kicks the propellant over, those things really hiss and sizzle as they streak skywards, massive wooden dowels in tow. People in the crowd on the hill's edge would gasp and turn around and cheer at the sound. The big ones climbed for maybe 5 seconds, straight up, and then exploded into huge flowers. All of this was against a backdrop of constant explosions from the city all around us. Fireworks were sailing up out of every backyard and street corner, and the light and gunsmoke blanketed the whole town.

Nýárskvöld: Last night, E and I went to a dinner party in the shadow of Hallgrímskírkja. Her friend from work was a co-hostess, and the party was held at the home of an Icelandic fashion designer who just moved back from Paris. E was marveling both at her fashion-designer kit and her collection of French books. The nine of us sat around her fabric-cutting table, which made for a pretty good banquet. The food was delicious, all homemade pasta, and we had good wine, and good conversation. Afterwards we did a few inevitable SongStar rounds that found me crooning out several hits of the 80s through thick Cuban cigar smoke.

Vocab Lesson: Gamlárskvöld is New Year's Eve in Icelandic, but literally "Old Year's Evening". The evening of the first of January is referred to as Nýárskvöld, literally "New Year's Evening".


Blogger JB said...

Word on the street is that Quentin Tarantino was at both the big bonfire and on the hilltop where we were launching the big bombs. No doubt remarking to himself on "the little differences".


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