Horseback Riding

Today I went on a horseback ride through part of the interior of Iceland. This was my first trip out of Reykjavik since I got here. Ásta (pronouced Owsta), the makeup designer at work, arranged the trip. She’s a pretty avid rider and owns two of them. The rest of us rented them.

The Icelandic horse is much smaller than horses in the U.S. or Europe. Some of them seem to be large ponies. They all use British saddles instead of the Western saddles that you see on most trail rides in the States.

This is my horse Nassi, which means ‘nose’ because he has a white ring around his nose.

The ride was about four hours long, but we stopped periodically so I didn’t get sore while we were out. Tomorrow might be different.

The scenery changed dramatically during the course of the ride. We were riding near, and then through, the place where the North American and Eurpean Techtonic Plates meet. It’s as if this river tips off the end of the world. You can’t see it in the photo, but the water had an aquamarine tinge to it like it had been dyed.

The land dropped off in the other direction and stretched out in a plane of moss covered lava. The landscape is at once cushioned and rough.

Latibær is everywhere

Latibær is the Icelandic word for LazyTown and it’s huge in Iceland. I can’t go anywhere and not see the show. This paper greeted me as I left the apartment. That’s Ziggy in the lower right corner.

When I got to the grocery story, this picture of Stephanie was in the magazine rack at the checkout aisle. She’s the little girl with pink hair.

Crazy Town

Today started with me, thirty feet above the floor working a marionette of one of the characters. The hero was supposed to rescue two of the characters from their treehouse by swinging out of it on a rope ladder. They tried shooting it yesterday, but the puppets just flopped around like wet laundry. It was awful. I said that I could rig them as a marionette and control the spin.

I stayed late with Adam to work on it and came in early this morning to finish things. It worked on the first take. We did two more for safety, but one of the puppets hit a tree in one of them and the other just wasn’t as good. People applauded.

Then the rest of the morning was fairly standard. BUT at every spare moment we practised running around the building with a cup of water. Why? Because as part of this fitness contest we had a relay race. Our team was the White Whales (we wanted red, but it was taken). We had to run around the building and spill as little water as possible out of a glass. Time was added to your score for lost water. We came in second place. We crossed the finish line last, but spilled almost no water.

I also got my first piece of mail from the States. I was very excited. Thanks Eve!

Dad’s Birthday!

Today is my dad’s birthday. I got him a present, but I don’t know when it will arrive. You can wish him a Happy Birthday in the comments below, if you want.

Work and wait.

Today has alternated between very busy and very slow. This morning I worked almost constantly until lunch assisting Julie with Bessie. I got a compliment from Magnus. I was making Bessie’s feet wiggle as she lay on a lounge chair and he said “I like the feet jiggling.” Of course everything else in that shot had gone horribly wrong, so that might have been the only nice thing he could say.

Stop the bus.

I pass this bus stop every day on my way to work. This is my boss. Almost all the bus stops in Reykjavik have a picture of one of the cast members.

And since some of you have asked about the people that I keep mentioning, here’s a picture of Sarah (who plays Trixie) and Raymond, my fellow Assistant Puppeteer.

Health contest

The newest thing at work is a health contest between the different departments. We are all supposed to keep track of what we eat and exercise; points are awarded for each thing. There’s a prize at the end of the month for the healthiest person. Whee.

The Crown Princess of Sweden

This morning we had a visit from royalty. Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden came to visit work and we had a huge stage scene that would never happen in the real show. The number of photographers and reporters that filled the stage was more than a little astounding. The princess herself seemed lovely and quite charming, like she would be a fairly normal person if she weren’t surrounded by flashes.

Björk is supposed to come by later.

Cheating a little

I went back to add the entries that I would have put in over the weekend if I’d had computer access. You can click on the link to Things that Happen at Home to jump to Saturday’s entry, or just scroll down. Today is much slower than yesterday. We did two puppet shots this morning; I only helped with one. Now they’re shooting a bunch of stuff in the lair which gives me time to update my weblog while I wait for my turn in the massage room.

I also have two photos for you.

I found a postcard which just barely shows my apartment, so you can get an idea of how close I am to the city center. The big spire is a church that’s downtown.

If this postcard went five blocks further down, you’d see my place. Both of these postcards, and others, will be heading towards the States as soon as I get to the post office.

Shoe Tytus 6000

When the episode Remote Control finally airs, I am the Shoe Tytus 6000. It’s a shoe tying machine that the character Pixel invented to tie his shoes. In order to work it, I lay on my back under the floor of the set, wedged up into the puppet by a series of apple boxes. Once I was in place, I couldn’t get out again without help. The idea of the shot is simple. Pixel puts his foot on the machine and it ties it. The reality was very hard. I was tying a shoe that was over my head, while wearing gloves with rings and wires on them, and had a choice of being blind or looking in a monitor. Not easy. But I did it, and they seemed happy with the final take.

I also spent a lot of the day being a right hand for Þor (pronounced Thor) as he worked Ziggy, or working legs for various puppets. Raymond, the producer, complimented me when I slid in to add some foot action for Pixel in a music video. He said, “I like what you are doing with the feet. Things are livelier here since you came.” Apparently no one else really worked the feet, they just let the puppet sit on the walls. I get bored, so I look for things that I can do.

Worked all day

I was on set working all day, and didn’t have even a moment to write. We’re wrapped for the day, and my ride is waiting for me.

Dinner Party

I had my first dinner party in Iceland. I think that it’s a sort of nesting thing that I need to do to feel comfortable in a new space. The apartment that I’m in has china that is similar to the china that Rob and I have at home. I invited Jodi, Sam, Sarah and Julie to dinner.

The Menu
Four Icelandic Cheeses and crackers
Roasted Red Pepper and Asparagus Bisque
Spinach Salad with Fresh Mozzeralla, Fennel, and Apple
Wild Mushroom Risotto
Blábær tart

Blábær are the Icelandic blueberry. They are crisper than the ones in the U.S. and have a milder flavor.

Things that Happen at Home

I went shopping at Hagcaup, which is sort of the Icelandic Fred Meyers, with Sarah on Saturday. We had coffee and a pastry (pecan pie for me) afterward–I actually found decaffinated coffee. I know this may not seem like much, but I’ve had a really hard time finding it, and regular coffee does not agree with me. I’ve missed the taste.

In the evening I went out with Caroline and Ã?sta to see a dance performance called Things that Happen at Home. It was very funny, even though I didn’t understand a single spoken word. The audience gave them a huge and extended standing ovation. I asked if that was a usual response to a performance, and was told that it was rare.

No access

I don’t have internet access at my new place so there won’t be any updates this weekend. Seeya Monday!