Culture Day

Culture day is one of the biggest celebrations in Iceland. 100,000 people come to Reykjavik to celebrate culture; it seems like there was music on every street corner. Jodi, Sam and I started the day downtown going to galleries.

We visited a large church on a hill. You can see it from most places in town.

Inside, a man was playing the organ,but he stopped right after we sat down. The space is really stunning.

Then we wandered some more before taking a break while we waited for the fireworks.

At the end of the night everyone gathered in large open area to watch fireworks. Initially I was skeptical because a band was playing on the mainstage and it was waaaaay too loud. But I have to say that the segue was very nice. I think that the area must be a parking lot normally, because there were street lamps everywhere. When eleven o’clock rolled around, the singer spoke enthusiastically to the crowd in Icelandic. I assume he was saying something like, “Are you ready to see some Fireworks! Count with me! One, two, three!” and on three all of the street lights went out and rockets shot into the air. It was pretty spectacular.

A night at the movies

I went out with Jodi, Sam and Sarah to the Luxes, which is a luxury movie theater. It has leather recliners and serves beer and wine. The weird thing, and this is apparently standard in Iceland, is that every movie has an intermission. I don’t mean the Icelandic ones–we were there to see Hellboy for crying out loud–but halfway in, they stopped the film so that everyone could go to the restroom and visit the concession stand. Strange.

Whew. Friday.

Today I was pulled in to do assist Sarah on the rods of Trixie. In the first shot, my only job was to put Trixie’s right hand on her hip. No problem, except for one tiny thing. We’re on these flat rolling carts, kinda like mechanics use under cars, so that we can stay below the camera sightlines. Anyway, mine tips over during the shot, leaving me on the floor with three puppeteers about to roll over me.

The puppet wrangler, Adam, holds out his hand to me and drags me across the floor so I can get out of their way. It was very funny. But we saved the shot, so that’s okay.

I also worked a pair of legs during a football tackle and did some more rod work. There was this one crazy shot where I was doing rods on two different puppets at once. Don’t ask, it’s almost impossible to explain why it made sense to do it that way.

For those of you who aren’t in the puppet business, here’s an analogy. Remember the hardest game of Twister you’ve ever played. Now, to puppeteer in television you have to hold that position, stick one hand up in the air and put a five pound weight in it. BUT, and here’s the hard part, you have to stay below knee level on an average person, because if someone can see that you have to start over. While doing that, you need to sing and dance and act, all at the same time.

Hmm. Now, why do I think this is fun?

I got my pass today, so I can move around the building without needing to borrow someone elses. It was a remarkably freeing sensation.

Trial Over

I just got the word that they are going to keep me. Whew. It was pretty informal. Raymond, the producer, came in and asked Jodi if they liked me, and then asked me if I liked them. Then he asked Jodi to step into the hall and apparently said “She seems nice.” He told Jodi that he’d work on my paperwork. So I guess I’m here for five months.

Which is good, since I’m finally adjusted to the time zone. I went to bed at 10:30 last night and woke up at six this morning. I usually need seven and half hours of sleep when I’m rested, so this felt pretty good.

I also, finally, got to puppeteer today. I was the live arms for Sarah while she was manipulating Trixie. I also did live hands for Jodi. I’ll be the default for three of the kid puppets because my hands are smaller than Raymond’s. Raymond is the other assistant puppeteer.

The Studio – Day Two

I went to bed at nine o’clock last night and just passed out. Then I woke up shortly after midnight–very annoying–and I could not get back to sleep. I finally got out of bed and had a snack, then tried to sleep again. The last time I looked at the clock it was three a.m., but the alarm startled me when it went off, so I must have been fully asleep.

Despite that, I feel much, much better today. We got to the studio about 8:30; Jodi and Sam picked me up. So far I haven’t done any puppetry except to play around in the puppet shop. The rest of my time is spent helping get the puppeteers pillows for their shots. There will be more involved shots later when they will use all of us but right now I’m very contented to ease into things. I worked for a bit with Julie, who I’ll be seconding at times. That was fun.

I can’t take pictures of the set, so here’s something I can take a photo of. They feed us in a really great lunchroom. It has a view of the lava fields that surround us. The landscape here is like nothing I’ve seen; it is like a moonscape and at the same time lush with life.

The mosses and grasses, the small flowers and shrubs blanket the rocks and soften their edges. Everything feels new.

My first day in the studio

A driver came to pick me up at my apartment at 11:45, which was 3:45a.m. according to my internal clock. I’d actually managed to get in a small nap, but the excitement of being here was the only thing making me functional.

Everyone is very nice and I’m looking forward to actually starting to work. It’s great to see Jodi and Sam. I spent a lot of the day fighting to stay awake; basically, if I sat then I began to nod off. I took a twenty minute nap and that seems to help. I still feel like I’m only working on about 80% of my brain. At best.

The set is a closed set, which means no photos, so don’t even ask.

Arrival in Reykjavik

Needless to say–but I will anyway–I am tired. I did manage to sleep on the plane, though not enough. Much to my surprise, Magnus, the creator of the show, was on the same flight as me. He was returning from the premiere in NYC. I sent a note up to his seat in first class to introduce myself. He very kindly came back and we chatted for a bit before acknowledging the desperate need to sleep on the plane

My apartment kitchen

My third floor apartment is delightful. I’ve done a quick walk through and now I will explore the bed.

Nine Hours in JFK

My flight from Portland got in at 11:10 a.m. My flight for Reykjavik doesn’t leave till 8:50 pm. I have a loooooong wait. So far, I’ve gone from terminal 4 to terminal 7, which is where Icelandair is, and then back to terminal 4. There aren’t any food options in terminal 7.

I had a bean burrito for lunch. I know you’re terribly excited by these developments. Meanwhile, I am enjoying high-speed wireless internet access. Whee.

Layover in Minneapolis

Well. The title says it all. I left at one a.m. and actually managed to sleep on the flight. I’m delighted to have wireless internet service here so I can send a couple of e-mails and amuse myself. Sam Paden just instant messaged me, he’s giving me the low-down on my apartment in Reykjavik.

I have seen the apartment and it is quite nice, lots of room. I hope you will get good rest on the plane. They usually show an old movie (quite odd sometimes in fact) so rest is usually possible.

Well. I wonder what the old movie will be?

Destination Reykjavik

I got a call on Thursday from Lazytown offering me a job. I’m heading to Reykjavik for a two-week trial to see if we’re mutually compatible. If everything goes well, they’ll keep me till the end of the year.
That’s a long time.
Rob and I are both comfortable enough with the idea for me to go, though neither relishes that much time apart. I leave tonight, which is more than a little crazy.

I’m also terribly excited because the day before the Iceland call, I got an email from The First Line telling me that they want to publish my short story The Shocking Affair of the Dutch Steamship Friesland. This is my second short story sale, and I’m starting to feel like a real writer. (Now if I can just get someone to buy my novel.) If you live in Portland, OR you can buy a copy at Powell’s or order it through The First Line’s website. My first sale was also to them and is in the summer issue; my new effort will appear in the fall issue.

I’ll try to use this site as a way to keep folks up-to-date on what’s going one.