Posts Tagged ‘Iceland’

Dinosaurs and Screening

In the greenroom we played Bone Wars, a Ruthless Game of Paleontology. I picked it up on a whim at Readercon because Jodi and I had been working on a show about Mary Anning. Initially the rules looked intimidatingly complex, but once we started playing it was loads of fun.

After work, we went to a screening of two of the new episodes. It was fun to see the show on the big screen. Steve is having quite the introduction to Iceland. There’s an event every night this week. Tomorrow we are going to a barbeque at Emily’s and tomorrow we see the Icelandic stage show of Footloose.

I revised my Doctor Who story, but did no other writing.

Sleepy

Indeed. The party went until sometime after three a.m. It’s weird. Culturally, when you throw a party in Iceland, you can expect that the guests will arrive an hour to an hour and a half after the stated start time. They’ll stay until three and then go downtown to finish partying. I can’t do this. Around one a.m. I started fading, in part because the last two work days had been fairly long for me. At one point in the party, as I was passing our bedroom door, I realized that if I snuck in and had a nap that no one would notice. The party was in the kitchen, the living room and outside. Everyone would just think I was in one of the other locations.

This is the first time I’ve ever done this but this is also the first time we’ve thrown a party without other Americans attending. They’ve always cued the other guests by departing at a reasonable, by our standards, time. I’ll have to learn to adapt to this schedule or figure out a way to have parties with an end time. That said, it was still fun. Even if I do feel guilty for needing to nap.

I spent most of today doing a rewrite on Ginger Stuyvesant and the Case of the Haunted Nursery. When I needed a break from that I reviewed portfolios for Shimmer, hoping to find an image that will work for the Autumn 06 issue. Alas. I have not found that magic image yet.

Eating apples

As you might imagine, the characters on the show spend a lot of time eating “sports candy.” The puppets can’t actually take a bite, so I wind up doing one of my favorite theater tricks. The apple already has bite in it but that part of the apple is held upstage so the audience can’t see it. Then as the character takes a bite, I just rotate the apple so the bite comes into view. We usually use a fake apple with the puppets because we can pin or tape it to their hands, but today I needed to be able to put the apple down. There were also a lot of real apples in the scene, which meant the fake apple would look noticeably fake. (It’s interesting that fake apples are fine unless there’s a real one close by.) Now, the puppetry here is not particuarly interesting. It was fun, but it was basic live hand stuff, and we were standing, so it wasn’t even painful. What was interesting, at least to me, was the bite in the apple.

The first one was just a guy taking a bite out of an apple and handing it to me. But as we continued shooting the bite turned yellow, as apples do, which made a continuity problem. So they had to bite another apple. You don’t think about these details, but the prop guy had to find another apple that looked like the first one, and then make a bite that looked the same. It’s the kind of thing that seems simple until you watch someone go through the process. It was in fact, two bites in order to make it large enough to read.

Maybe it’s just me, but I think these bizarre mundanities are interesting.

Anyway, I spent most of today live handing and was only off set at lunch. Tonight Rob has invited the post-production crew over for martinis. He apparently planned for it to be about seven or eight people, but when we left the studio the number had blossomed to thirty. Knowing Iceland, the party will go until three so I’m not expecting to get anymore writing done today.

Here’s my update.
First

Once in the streets of Repp-Virja, the bright mosaic of her family shattered the bland crowd.

Last

Each step made her tunic brighter and her crop more naked.

There is only one sentence between the two, but I went back to earlier sections and added some details that I needed. So I wrote 252 words today.

Twenty Epics release party


Twenty EpicsTo celebrate the release of Twenty Epics, the contributors are having a virtual release party. Check out David Moles’s journal for links to the other authors’ blogs, party favors and information about where to buy the book.

Since I can’t offer you refreshements, I thought I’d share a little bit about where my story, The Bound Man, came from. In 2004 I spent six months living in Iceland and fell in love with the landscape. The Bound Man is one of two stories I took out of the country with me. While it is not set in actual Iceland, the majority of the story takes place in a land very much inspired by Iceland.

This is what I was thinking about when I wrote:

Li Reiko chased her shadow out of the parliament lands. It stretched before her in the golden light of sunrise, racing her across the moss-covered lava. The wind, whipping across the treeless plain, pushed her like a child late for dinner.

I was there from August through December and during the course of my stay, the light changed from eighteen hours of sun to twenty hours of darkness. In the novel that I’m plotting in this world, Li Reiko will have to deal with this light shift as well. She arrived in Halldór’s land in the autumn. I remember people telling me that I had to get out of Reykjavík and see the fall colors. I thought they were crazy because there are no trees in Iceland, or at least, very few and very small. But I did go and I was amazed at the colors. I wish I had a better photo.

Elf house

Small shrubs and grasses broke the green with patches of red and gold, as if someone had unrolled a carpet on the ground. Heavy undulations creased the land with crevices. Some held water reflecting the sky, others dropped to a lower level of moss and soft grasses, and some were as dark as the inside of a cave.

There are other Icelandic tidbits in the story besides the landscape.

  • Iceland has had parliamentary government since 970. Amazing, eh?
  • The language is virtually unchanged from when the settlers arrived speaking Old Norse, so people today can read the sagas in the original. Unlike say, English, which changes daily.
  • 80% of the population believes in elves and trolls to some extent. When you live here, it’s very easy to understand why.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comment section below. Meanwhile, enjoy the party!

Shimmer in Iceland

Welcome to the newest bookstore to carry Shimmer, Bókabúðin Hlemmi (The Happy Bookstore) in Reykjavík, Iceland. Check out the placement. Isn’t that beautiful?

Readercon, Day 2

David Barr Kirtley and John Joseph AdamsI started the day by dropping off copies of Shimmer in the Book room with Small Beer Press. Gavin Grant very kindly agreed to stock them for us. So far we’ve sold five copies of the magazine here. Which is great.

I also tracked down the box of Twenty Epics anthologies. They had gone missing and no one seemed to know where they were. David Moles, one of the editors, said that they had been delivered on the sixth and that “Warren” and signed for them. When I asked at the front desk, they actually knew what I was talking about, and happily took me to find the books. I suspect that Warren actually referred to the network of rooms below the hotel rather than a person. You know the movies, where the action hero runs through a warren of rooms and tunnels, passing through the kitchen of the hotel? Evidently, you have to pass through the kitchen to get anywhere.

After dropping off the books at, again, Small Beer Press, I went to breakfast with the gang from Codex. I’m happy to report that Doug Cohen, Elaine Isaak, Danielle T. Friedman, Will McIntosh and Joy Marchand are all delightful people. Much witty banter was had by all.

I headed off to a panel on Small Press run by Matthew Kressel and the other folks of Sybil’s Garage. It was a very interesting talk and gave me plenty of ideas for new ways to market Shimmer.

From there I went to lunch with John Joseph Adams, David Barr Kirtley and–and I suck with names. Thank heavens everyone wears nametags.

More panels, and more hanging out. I’ve purchased lots of small press magazines and a couple of books to take back to Iceland with me. Ah, and then I napped as well.

Twenty Epics
Paul Berger had arranged for a reading from the Twenty Epics anthology, since six of the contributors were here. It was fun and, much to my surprise, I was very nervous. I don’t get nervous in front of audiences much anymore, so sort of enjoy the sense of butterflies. I think it was because this was the first time I’ve read my own words in public. I’ve performed in plays with my words, but there’s lots and lots of rehearsal and cast mates to support the experience. I’ve read my words in recording studios, and I used to compete in interpretive reading, but this was different. Even my knees were shaking. I don’t think anyone noticed, but part of my brain was cataloguing the symptoms of nerves the whole time I was reading.

Then I hung out at the bar with Joy, Doug and Will. Joy and I declared that we were exhausted and headed up for bed where we proceeded to stay up till four a.m. talking through problems with pieces we are working on.

It was a great day.

Readercon

Well, I’m on my way to Readercon today. I’ll be in the U.S. until Sunday. My plane won’t land in Iceland until Monday morning, so I’ll be walking straight onto set. That should be fun. Mmmm. Jet-lag and puppets. Who could ask for more.

While I’m there, I’ll have my cellphone for dire emergencies, but any call will cost me 75 cents per minute. So don’t call me unless it is a dire emergency. You can still reach me via email, of course.

I’ll keep you updated on how the conference goes.

Submissions, updated

Short Fiction

Locked In – Samuel, a man afflicted with ALS and locked inside his body, has hopes of communicating when his son brings home the BioDym 3000.

Ginger Stuyvesant and the Case of the Haunted Nursery – In 1924, a young American heiress uses her powers as a medium to solve a haunting in an English Manor house.

Waiting for Rain – In India, a winemaker has beggared himself to pay for his daughter’s wedding and can no longer pay his weather bills.

Body Language – Near-future. Saskia, a puppeteer, is called in to help solve a kidnapping because the only witness is eDawg, a toy for which she did the motion-capture work. The kidnappers demand that the ransom be sent in on eDawg, and Saskia has to manipulate the puppet while pretending to be nothing more than a toy.

Some Other Day – Josie’s father managed to rid the world of mosquitoes when she was little. The unintended consequences still affect both the adult Josie and the world.

Trip, Trap, Tripping – The three Billy Goats Gruff retold in a NY walk-up, with a single mother and her tap-dancing daughters as the goats, and the guy downstairs as the troll. (I want to do a series of these, but darn, where do I market them?)

My Friend Anna – 61 word flash involving a tapeworm, bathtub and pregnancy.

Horizontal Rain – A New York contractor discovers that his job in Iceland is being held up because the crew believes in trolls.

Birthright – Near-future flash. In a world with severe birth control regulations, a couple has to decide whether to give up their birthright in exchange for enough money to finish college.

Death Comes But Twice – Epistolary short. A Georgian-era Doctor has discovered a cure for death, but it only works for twenty-four hours.

The Promise of Chocolate – An unhappy single mother makes cupcakes for her son’s birthday. One of them contains cyanide.

Changed Itinerary – UFOlogist is abducted by aliens.

Salt of the Earth
– On a sodium-poor world, where every scrap of salt is saved, a salt merchant’s daughter is killed by a salt-overdose.

Chrysalis : The Husiths undergo Chrysalis to become an adult, but the enzymes involved in the process scramble their memories. As a culture, they are obsessed with documenting their pupaehood, which is when the serious work takes place, before becoming a playful adult. Geroth is determined to put off his Chrysalis so he can finish his mathmatical treatise. He hires a human documentarian to help him retain his memories after Chrysalis.

Novel

Journey to the East: The Legend of the Monkey King YA Novel – Two American kids find themselves caught up in the oldest legend in China as they struggle to rescue their baby sister from the Bone

Bara finnt!

I feel totally triumphant. I had to make arrangements to pick up Audrey tomorrow and actually managed to do it in Icelandic. Granted, I figured out what I wanted to say beforehand and wrote it down as a script, but still! I spoke and was understood.

Groma Kolibra

Groma Kolibra TypewriterI completely forgot to tell you about the real score at Koloportið. Rob and I collect portable typewriters and I’ve been keeping my eye out for one with an Icelandic keyboard. This little beauty is a Groma Kolibra. It’s an East German machine from the 1950s and is in beautiful shape. It comes with a carrying case and the instruction manual. Best of all, it was only 500 kronur, which is like $6.70.
Close up of Icelandic keyboard I typed our shopping list on it today and it was very satisfying. The keyboard has good action although the return lever is not as springy as I would like. One of the nifty things is the accent key. (You strike that to make letters like “Á”) The carriage doesn’t move when you strike it so that the next letter winds up centered under the accent. Snazzy.

Íslenska óperan – Litla Hryllings Búðin

Tonight I went to see Litla Hryllings Búðin at the Icelandic Opera. Yep. Little Shop of Horrors in Icelandic. Now, I’ve done Little Shop a few times in my life and at this point have the thing memorized. This made it fairly easy to follow.

The set design was really good, it looked like a run-down neighborhood in Reykjavík, which meant that it looked like crumbling concrete. Well…even the good neighborhoods have crumbling concrete, but this had grafitti too. Seymo–excuse me, Baldur’s voice was very strong, as was the man playing the Dentist. I was disappointed with the puppet, in a large part because I think the director just ignored it.

In fact, there were a number of place where I felt like the director just didn’t get the show. For instance, when the Dentist enters for the first time, he is normally wearing a black leather motorcycle jacket. Not in this production. He just had on the dentist smock…which meant that in Act II when Seym–Baldur shows Audre–Auður that he has a new black leather motorcycle jacket, it makes no sense.

There were other things like this, but it was still a very enjoyable evening.

Tveir Fiskar

We went to dinner at Tveir Fiskar (Two Fish) last night. Poor Rob has such a bad head cold that he can’t taste anything. He said that even the blue cheese on his salad was only barely present.

The rest of us quite enjoyed our food, I think.

gullemotAs a starter everyone ordered the Martha’s Vineyard Salad with blue cheese, red onion and pine nuts, but I ordered the lightly smoked guillemot with onion marmalade and crow berry vinaigrette. I thought I might as well taste things that I can’t taste outside of Iceland. They don’t mention the buckshot, but I suppose that is because there was only one tiny lead ball per serving. It did at a delicate zing to the meal.

After that, Rob and I moved onto the Icelandic seafood soup “bouillabaisse,” which had blue mussels, scallops, salmon, shrimp and lobster in it. Pat had the salmon and Glenn had a whale steak, which tastes like steak. The fastest way to remember that a whale is a mammal is to eat it. Otherwise you just think its a big fish and it is so profoundly mammalian.

We tried the creme brulee, but alas, the texture was wrong. I haven’t had a good one here yet. I’ll keep trying though.

Tveir Fiskar

We went to dinner at Tveir Fiskar (Two Fish) last night. Poor Rob has such a bad head cold that he can’t taste anything. He said that even the blue cheese on his salad was only barely present.

The rest of us quite enjoyed our food, I think.

gullemotAs a starter everyone ordered the Martha’s Vineyard Salad with blue cheese, red onion and pine nuts, but I ordered the lightly smoked guillemot with onion marmalade and crow berry vinaigrette. I thought I might as well taste things that I can’t taste outside of Iceland. They don’t mention the buckshot, but I suppose that is because there was only one tiny lead ball per serving. It did at a delicate zing to the meal.

After that, Rob and I moved onto the Icelandic seafood soup “bouillabaisse,” which had blue mussels, scallops, salmon, shrimp and lobster in it. Pat had the salmon and Glenn had a whale steak, which tastes like steak. The fastest way to remember that a whale is a mammal is to eat it. Otherwise you just think its a big fish and it is so profoundly mammalian.

We tried the creme brulee, but alas, the texture was wrong. I haven’t had a good one here yet. I’ll keep trying though.

Dark sky

I got into London and checked into my hostel with no problems. Although the building is lovely and clean, my room is a mess. I’m in a dorm and apparently the other occupants are all traveling together and have taken over the room. Since there are large signs everywhere in the building about how your luggage has to be either on your bed or in your locker, I went to the front desk to inquire about the large mounds of clothing that were in the middle of the floor. Mounds, which I had to step over to reach a locker.

The girl at the front desk came back and looked at the room and said, “You can use this one.” She pointed to a locker with its top bashed in. As long as I kept things in a bag in the locker, no one would be able to pull them out of the slight crack in its top. Sigh. But, for £12 a night, one can’t complain too much.

After I checked in, I hopped on the tube and went to the hotel where Steve and Alethea are staying. The first thing that struck me when I came up out of the Tube station was that it had gotten dark while I was underground. Do you know how long it has been since I have seen a night sky? I found it surprisingly exciting to have this inky blackness hanging above the trees.

We met for drinks in the bar. I had a hard cider, which I love and which you can’t get in Iceland. I might add that to my list of things to take back with me on Sunday. We had a great time talking and catching up.

When I left, I discovered that I had missed the last train. Now, I’m used to New York, where the trains run round the clock, but get less frequent. I had not expected the trains to stop running. My hostel is not far from here, so I started to walk, but started sniffling. After a block, I thought about my headcold and decided that walking was a bad plan. I hailed a cab, and rode back to the hostel.

There I discovered that my roommates were five young men, two of whom snore. I shall have to ask to move to a different room. I put in ear plugs, but they only muffled the sound. I did manage to fall asleep, until this morning when their various cellphones began ringing. I suppose I should be grateful that they only let them ring instead of answering them and having a conversation.

After I got up, I walked through Hyde park to Steve and Alethea’s hotel. We’re going out for lunch with Stel Pavlou this afternoon. I have heard many stories about him, but not had a chance to meet. It should be a fun day.

Today we are going to their signing. It is scheduled at Forbidden Planet.