Posts Tagged ‘Iceland’

Pelvis and legs

Muslin mockup for legsBy the time the runner got back with the glue gun, I was already far enough into the legs of the bear that I didn’t want to stop. In a minor miracle, the pattern that I was adapting for the legs and pelvis of the bear was remarkably easy to work with. I usually have to futz around a bit to get the limbs to work, but this one was right on my first try.

The crotch, on the other hand, more than made up for the ease of the legs. In Goldilocks fashion, my first try was too small and didn’t allow for enough movement.. My second try at the crotch gave the bear the biggest package in the world. It might have been appropriate for a bear, but not even remotely for a children’s hospital. The third try, plus some minor tweaking of the legs where they join the crotch worked well.

As I was finishing the patterning, Rob came in and let me put the torso on him so I could fit the harness. As much as I wish otherwise, for some things I just have to have the bear on a person. Inside the torso, the actor will wear a belt around the hips. The belt has four points of attachment which go to the third rib to stablelize the body. I wish I’d had the video camera hooked up, because Rob was very, very funny as he was checking range of movement for me.

The good news is that it looks like the actor might be able to dress himself. Normally for these sorts of things, you bring a dresser/chaperone with you because your range of movement is too restricted to dress. We’ll see how the final bear turns out.

I used the pattern and cut out the legs in the final material and installed the boning for the lower legs. I still have to do some boning in the pelvis, but probably won’t be boning the whole area because I don’t want to restrict the actor’s movement too much.

So, here’s where we stand now.

Legs with partial boning Legs with partial boning

I have to make the thighs and heels still on the legs, but I’m going to need to get someone inside for both of those. Tomorrow, I should have pictures of the head as well. I installed the jaw, but forgot to take photos.

Now, I’m baking an apple pie to take to Icelandic class tomorrow. We had our final exam today and tomorrow is a free day.

The cutest thing in the world

Oh my goodness. The costume designers two-year old daughter is in the next room singing “You are a Pirate” in Icelandic. Soooooooo cute. Oh my. I shall faint from the cuteness of it.

You can listen to the original and imagine a tiny, tiny little girl in a flowery skirt singing “Yo, ho fiddle dee, dee.”

[audio:You Are A Pirate (Icelandic).mp3]

Fainting. I’m fainting.

Puppets, dialogue and me

So for the last two days I was at work, shooting commercials and other small things for the show. It felt really, really good to do some puppetry again. Mostly it was my standard routine of fetching carts, and hats for the puppeteer. I did do some hand work for a couple of different shots. We were shooting some dancing and the puppet needed to clap. It’s just plain easier for the lead puppeteer to let someone else take over the rods and handle the clapping.

Besides the choreographed stuff, we also had a sort of free-dance. I was in live hands and following the lead puppeteer. It’s sort of like ballroom dancing, except not as graceful. The goal is to look like one being, even though there are two of us dancing. It’s fun. Sometimes it was successful and sometimes it was disjointed. I had some trouble because the elastic rode up on my right arm. I kept my arm out of the shot, but the puppet’s arm got really short. That probably doesn’t make sense, huh?

It’s like this. My arm enters the puppet at the elbow of the puppet, but my elbow and the puppet’s elbow are not lined up. These are supposed to be kids, so their arms are much shorter than mine. The puppet’s elbow lines up with the middle of my forearm. Make sense? So, the puppet has this stump that attaches to my arm with elastic. If the elastic slides toward my wrist, the puppet’s forearm gets shorter. I’m sure my sleeve flashed a couple of times, but they will only use short portions of this. We did it multiple times. Both of us were out of breath at the end. It’s amazing what six weeks off will do to a body.

Thank heavens I’ve been biking. I guess I should start lifting weights too.

After I finished the puppetry, I switched roles to dialogue coach. They had asked me to do this because they needed a native English speaker to make sure nothing was wonky. Just like the trouble I’m having with Icelandic, it’s the small words that trip people up. Most shots, I was there just to say, “Yep, the English is clean.” Very occasionally, I would say something like, “It’s ‘having a ball’ not ‘having ball.'” My personal favorite was supposed to be “Throw it up here,” except the line came out minus the “it.”

I thought I would speak nothing but Icelandic, since I was the only foreigner on set. But with the dialogue coaching, I never got out of the habit of speaking English. Someday.

Reading the paper

Stefan KarlEveryday, I try to at least read a couple of headlines in the newspaper. Living in Iceland, chances are I’ll see someone I know in the paper. This morning I could actually read the article! Granted, there was referring to dictionary, but still.

The short of it is that Stefán Karl is doing voice over in Ben Stiller’s new movie, Night at the Museum. He is apparently the voice of a viking raider and speaking Icelandic in the film. Who knows, by the time the movie is out, I might actually be able to understand what he’s saying.


Important note: The staff at the Virka fabric store speak no English. I don’t know the words for sewing machine, needle, elastic, boning, nylon strapping, or buckle.

Fortunately, the lady helping me was very nice and willing to listen to my half-Icelandic, half-point and grunt. She made very good guesses and she spoke slowly when talking to me. I made it out of there alive with everything I came for.

Ah, today was a good day. I pulled out all the boning on the bear, made some adjustments to the pattern and reinstalled it. I need to get a person in to put the suit on so I can install the belt that will keep everything in place.

Bear Torso, front Bear Torso, side

I started on the arms today, but am still in the patterning phase. The challenge here is that I have to accomodate bear anatomy and a persons anatomy at the same time. They don’t always line up, but I’m pleased with my initial pattern.

Íslenska óperan

This weekend Rob and I went to see Abduction from The SeralgioThe Abduction from the Seraglio at the Icelandic Opera with Jochen, from work, and his wife. It was, as Rob says, a very satisfactory evening. The voices were good and they could act! The staging of this production was very good. I was able to follow the opera, despite the fact that it was in German and Icelandic, (They translated the dialogue into Icelandic) because the body language and director’s choices made the story very clear.

I also loved the set, which at first glance was an abstract mosaic, but on second look became an aerial view of the city. It emphasized the journey that Belmonte (the hero) had to make to find his beloved, Constanza.

Of course, I also have to admit that part of my enjoyment was because the tickets, which Jochen purchased, were front and center. The stage at the opera is very small, so the performers frequently came out into the house. Because we were in the middle, it was as if they were coming down to sing just for us.


When people meet me and learn that I’m from North Carolina, the first thing that they say are, “But you don’t have a southern accent.” It happens so often, that you get major bonus points for not saying it. There are variations, of course, such as, “You must have worked hard to lose your accent.” This one always annoys me because a) I’ve never had one and b) southern accents are just as valid as any other accent. In fact, there are pretty strong signs that the accents in the Appalachias are closer to the way Shakespeare spoke (based on rhyming patterns) than your standard midwestern accent.

But despite the fact that I think the southern accent is not something which one should fight to lose, I’ve simply never had one. I grew up in Raleigh, NC in the heart of the Research Triangle Park. Dad worked for IBM, so we were surrounded by a bunch of transplants. Mom and Dad are from Chattanooga, TN, but even so, I wasn’t exposed to that much pure accent. I also had a speech impediment when I was little so I suspect that what traces I had were trained out of me.

There are times when my roots show. For instance, I have to think before saying “windowsill” or I will pronounce it “windowseal” because the two sounds are the same where I come from. In my childhood, “pin” and “pen” were the same sound. So, I know that my region has left its mark on my speech.

None of which prepared me for my latent Southern accent to turn up in Icelandic class today. We had a spelling test to make sure we were hearing the difference between sounds. Sitja and setja, for instance. I hear the difference with no problem, but today I learned that they sound the same when I say them. Holy smokes. It’s that darn “pin” vs. “pen” come back to haunt me.

I had already recognized the places where ye olde speech impediment was giving me trouble. I couldn’t pronounce the letter R when I was little, and rolling it for Icelandic? Ah ha ha, it is to laugh. I just really wasn’t expecting the vowel problems or at least, not that one.

Ironically, though I can hear the difference between those two sounds and corrected my pronunciation in class, I cannot hear the difference between U and Ú although I apparently say them correctly. It’s completely a mechanical thing. They require different mouth shapes, but lordy, they both sound like “oo” to me. I am completely unable to hear a difference.

At least having an American accent is acceptable outside of class. Everyone is just so excited that I speak any Icelandic at all.

The talkies

I was in Icelandic class and we were talking about what we did over the weekend. I realized that I completely forgot to mention this to you guys. On Saturday, I went to the movie theater at the Krlnglan, the mall close to my house, for a screening of two Lazytown episodes. We saw “Little Sportacus” and “Trash Trouble.”

The show holds up really well on the big screen, which it should considering that we shoot in high-def. (No, I’m not going to go into a discussion about what the shows was like, because the episode is just like the one on TV, except bigger.) Everyone invited guests so the audience was packed with kids. I managed to get through most of my conversations in Icelandic. It helped that everyone was asking exactly the same questions. “What have you been up to?” and variations on the them. It turns out that my Icelandic teacher was there with his family. One of the editors is a good friend of his.

We didn’t discover this until we were back in class. Of course, my teacher then went on to explain that I couldn’t use “að ganga” to say that I went to the theater, because it is specifically reserved for walking even though I had walked to the theater. So, even though “að ganga” and “að fara” both mean “to go,” I have to use “að fara.”

Cat sitters needed

Back at the ranch, our wonderful tenant and cat-sitter has gotten a new job out of town, and is moving out in mid-October. I come home at the end of October, which means that our cats will be without the attention to which they have become accustomed.

They have a self-feeder and waterer, but we need someone to come over and give them some laptime. So, if you know me well enough to know where I live when I’m not in Iceland and would be willing to go on the cat attendent rotation schedule, will you drop me a line?

The Northern Lights are back!

Last night Rob and I headed out to a friend’s birthday party. Being in Iceland, since the party started at 8:30, that’s when we started getting ready to leave. Don’t ask me why, but every party experience I’ve had here shows that guests don’t start arriving until at least an hour after the stated party start time. So, it was close to ten when we headed out the door. Very Icelandic.

I looked up, still excited about night skies, to see if any stars were out. Yes. But I had to look through a writhing band of green and purple to see them. We stood in our driveway staring up until the Northern Lights started to fade. At one point it doubled back on itself, making a donut of light.

At our house, we get a lot of light from houses and streetlamps, so this display must have been amazing outside of Reykjavík. In a perfect world, they would have come out the night before, when the city turned off all the public lights for half an hour as part of an astronomy exhibition. It seems clear that Murphy has an Icelandic cousin, because that lights-out night had thick cloud cover. Still, it’s impressive that a city would do that. In the US, if they turned out all the lights in a city, it would inspire looting. Here, everyone went outside and took walks, even if they couldn’t see the stars.

Whatever: On Moral Cowardice

I don’t often bring up politics on my blog because I have family members with whom I don’t see eye to eye.

But this is important. Please read, Whatever: On Moral Cowardice which discusses the new detainee trial law.

Everytime I meet someone here in Iceland and have to admit that I’m an American, I feel like I need to follow it up with an apology. I don’t think that any nation is perfect, but I want to live in a society that is moving forwards, not backwards.

My plans with Captain Future

For the past week, I’ve had a little bit of a scratchy throat which I ascribed to not drinking enough water. Not because I was coming down with something. Oh no. And the conjestion when I wake up in the morning? I probably got pollen on the pillow and just need to do laundry. It’s not a cold.

And the fever that started during Icelandic class today? Um… I think Icelandic is really hot?

So, I’ve got a mild cold and I’m going to spend today under the covers with Captain Future as he journeys to Danger Planet! That sounds more exciting than it probably should…

Reposi en la suno

I have a weakness for napping in the sun.

A couple of years ago, Rob and I discovered the joys of Incubus, starring William Shatner, which is the only feature length film made entirely in Esperanto. The cinematographer was Conrad Hall (American Beauty) so it’s beautifully shot, but still… Esperanto. The point of this is that only phrase I can remember from the film is “reposi en la suno,” which means “to lie in the sun.”


Since then, when the sun falls across the bed or the couch, I will sometimes announce that I am going to reposi en la suno.

It’s warm and cozy and, in Iceland, a rare opportunity. And what I’m going to do right now. Mmm…reposi en la suno.

Icelandic is kicking my ass

The last two days have been dealing with cases. Nominative, accusative, dative and genitive. So here’s your Icelandic phrase for today.

Heilinn minn meiðir.
Translation: My brain hurts.

See. Useful phrases like this aren’t in your standard guide book. My biggest problem was that I had no idea what the English equivalent of the last two cases was. I mean, I’ve tried learning Icelandic before and always got stuck trying to figure out what genitive meant. I think I’ve got it now.

nefnifall (nominative) Are either the subject of a sentence, i.e. the one who does, OR the object of að vera (to be) or að heita (to be named/called). Like, in “that is I,” the I is nominative because nothing is being done to it. Þetta er ég.

þolfall (accusative) Are the direct objects, Like, “the boy eats the fish.” But a word can also be in the accusative case if certain prepositions are in front of it.

þágufall (dative) These are the indirect objects and some prepositions. “Will you give him the book.” “Him” is dative.

eignarfall (genitive) These have to do with posession. “I miss him.” “She guards him” And then, some prepositions. The prepositions, I’ll just have to memorize, but at least the others make sense now.

The reason this is important is that each Icelandic word “bends” depending on the case that it’s in and takes a different ending. Watch:

Masculine ending for words which end in “ur”.

case singular plural
a boy the boy boys the boys
nf strákur strákurinn strákar strákarnir
þf strák strákinn stráka strákana
þgf strák strákinum stráku strákumnum
ef stráks stráksins stráka strákanna

Mascline words can also end in i, ll, nn, and r, each of which bends differently. And then there’s feminine and neuter words.

So now, everyone repeat after me, “Heilinn minn meiðir.”