Happy Cinco de Mayo from Iceland!

On Friday, I finished my very last exam and unless something really strange happened that I was not aware of–like, I forgot all of my Icelandic entirely and started writing in Spanish in my tests–I will have a certificate in Icelandic as a Second Language in very short order. And that definitely feels good.

And what better way to celebrate finishing this year’s Icelandic triumphs than with a good, ol’ traditional Icelandic Cinco de Mayo Partý?

No way, I say!

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The Saga of Carl Carlsson: Upcoming Iceland-Themed Simpson’s Episode

Scene from “The Bob Next Door,” which aired in May 2010. Still via News of Iceland

I sure hope I can catch this when I am back in the US (or maybe RÚV wil air it?): The Simpson’s is set to close its current season with an Iceland-themed episode called “The Saga of Carl Carlsson.” Per The Reykjavík Grapevine:

Fans of the show will get a double-dose on May 19 as two back-to-back episodes will end the season. One episode will be entitled ‘The Saga of Carl Carlsson’, named for Homer Simpson’s colleague at the nuclear power plant and drinking buddy, who also happens to be an African-Icelander.

In this episode, Homer, Carl, Lenny and bartender Moe win a lottery jackpot together and plan on splitting it, but Carl decides to make off with the money and heads to Iceland. The other three won’t let him get away with it though, and will embark on a journey up north.

And as a double incentive for those of you who are Sigur Rós fans, apparently, the episode will also feature one of the band’s songs which was composed especially for the episode. Per another Grapevine article:

…the original piece by Sigur Rós weighs heavily into the episode, which also features the band’s members drawn as characters. A Sigur Rós cover of the Simpsons theme song by Danny Elfman is also in the cards.

The episode–which is not the first Iceland-related Simpson’s episode, by the by–is set to air on May 19th. So mark your calendars and set the VCR TiVo, and someone invite me over for a viewing in June!

Iceland Rated Most Welcoming to Foreign Visitors

via The Washington Post:

Buried several hundred pages into a new World Economic Forum report on global tourism, past the sections on air travel infrastructure and physician density (by which they mean the number of physicians per capita, not the mass-per-cubic-meter of individual doctors), are some very interesting numbers. The WEF has compiled survey data from 140 countries estimating the attitude of each countries’ population toward foreign visitors.

The WEF gathered the data from late 2011 through late 2012 by asking respondents, “How welcome are foreign visitors in your country?” The WEF explains that the survey results are meant to help “measure the extent to which a country and society are open to tourism and foreign visitors.”

According to the data, the top three most welcoming countries for foreigners are, in order: Iceland, New Zealand and Morocco. Other high-ranking countries include the rich and peaceful of the Western world (Ireland, Canada, Austria), a few tourist havens (Thailand, United Arab Emirates), and, for some reason, big parts of West Africa.

Interview on Expats Blog

So, you may have seen an extra nifty “featured expat” badge on the sidebar of the blog for a bit now, but I figured I’d save the official “unveiling,” as it were, for today, when my interview with Expat Blog goes live. Expats Blog was the website that kindly bestowed Eth & Thorn with a gold medal for (Icelandic expat blogs) at the end of last year, so I was very honored to also be one of their featured interviewees. I actually enjoyed answering the questions, too–it gave me a chance to reflect on my time here a little more, in a way that I maybe hadn’t before.

So, if you haven’t heard me prattle on about Iceland and me-in-Iceland yet, head over to Expats Blog and check out the interview today. And while you’re there, I’d recommend taking a look at some of the other expat interviews, which are very interesting. I myself have enjoyed the interviews with Betsy & Dan (a couple who moved from Seattle to Taiwan after raising their kids), Heather (an international teacher in Vietnam), Susannah (British expat in Oaxaca, Mexico), Shelby (American in Georgia, by way of Thailand) and Adri (American expat who has lived in Hungary for 12 years), but there are lots of others of interest!

(Re)Viewing from Afar: Sergio Leone and America (Days)

Mark has been diligently lining up all sorts of freelance writing assignments for himself these days, and not only ones about local film festivals and art exhibitions in Reykjavík. Being the well-viewed fellow he is, he’s also keeping up with the critical dialog stateside, starting with his recent piece for Fanzine that discusses Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in America. It’s a very good piece even if you haven’t seen the movie, which, full disclosure, I haven’t. (I was re-reading an Icelandic novel for a review in the back room while Mark re-watched the movie in the living room for his review–both activities took us about the same amount of time; it is a long movie–and he was nice enough to even watch the last hour and a half or so wearing headphones when all the second-hand sex-and-violence sound effects got to be a little too distracting for me. Because he is just a nice guy that way.)

Anyway, in an unexpected, but totally relevant moment of confluence, Mark brings up Reykjavík’s “America Days” in the course of his discussion (you remember America Days, right?), which I’ll just quote briefly here:

But still, iconography is a funny thing. A grocery store here in Reykjavik recently held its “America Days,” featuring red-white-and-blue bunting and cardboard cutouts of Elvis, John Wayne and Obama surrounding displays of Twizzlers—this sort of mockably transparent enthusiasm to participate in what you and I take for granted is everywhere in Leone. Who but a foreigner would begin a movie called Once Upon a Time in America with Kate Smith?

So if you are interested in such things as film, garbled national iconography, and “dubious depictions of the flesh,” I recommend popping over to Fanzine and checking his piece out.




Ameriskir Dagur!

Just in time for Thanksgiving…

Perhaps you remember Hagkaup, dear readers, as the grocery store which featured an exceptional Halloween display with pumpkins. Based on further observation, however, I am now going to make the guess that this grocery store chain has an (un)official corner on the American holidays market in Iceland, to the point of possibly even creating new American holidays for wistful expats. I give you:

America Days!

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RUV 2012 Election Coverage

3:45: I have a class tomorrow morning, but while it’s luckily my later day, the class still doesn’t start late enough that I can stay up all night. I feel very strange going to be before the election has been called, but it looks like it is going to be a long night/morning of vote-counting. So I’m signing off for now–thanks for reading! When I wake up tomorrow, hopefully, we’ll have our president.

3:42: The stalwart analysts at RUV are still awake, and are now discussing money, in some respect. Another look at an election graphic, on which fewer states have been called than CBS has announced.

3:21: The analysts on RUV give a time update and, I think, are repeating the CBS statement that if Obama wins Florida, he could win everything now. We’re telecommuting in with someone in Boston now, with some radio feedback at first.

3:13: They finally gave the lady analyst a break over at RUV. Now two men–one in a red tie, and one in a blue tie, I might add–are talking about Florida and Claire McCaskill. “It’s not the same in the South,” I believe someone just said.

3:07: Another quick link from local news: via The Reykjavík Grapevine yesterday, “Icelandic Progressive Party Officially Supports Obama“:

Iceland’s centre-right Progressive Party have posted an official statement on their website, endorsing US president Barack Obama for another term in office.

In a statement on the party’s website, the Progressives say they will be following today’s elections, providing updates via their Twitter feed.

The Progressives said they consider the US Democratic Party their sister party; specifically through what is called the Alliance of Democrats, a loosely-held alliance of political parties from around the world that align themselves with the centre, centre-right and centre-left. America’s New Democrat Coalition – a moderate wing of the Democratic Party, to which Obama belongs – is a part of the Alliance of Democrats.

2:59: Somehow, the RUV visual feed bounded back to CBS while the analysts were still talking. So they are discussing the latino vote while we watch people fiddle around on the set at CBS.

2:58: Mark, who apparently secretly speaks Icelandic, just heard this fun fact: If Obama is elected, it will be the first time since Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe that there have been three consecutive presidents elected for two terms.

2:56: Back to the NPR graphic. I’d like to note that these are not terribly interactive graphics–the picture appears on the screen and then the analysts just discuss aspects over the picture. No weather-man style analysis with laser pointers here. I’m also wondering what happened to the correspondent in Maryland–it seems like it would be a good time to hear from him now.

2:44: Coming up on 3 AM, our valiant RUV analysts are now reviewing a voter map from The Associated Press. Everyone is tired, including me. I want to go to bed, but I also am curious to know what happens on RUV when the presidential winner is announced. Balloons, probably, right? Red, white, and blue balloons must pour from the ceiling.

2:28: Some English words that are popping up: “snow birds,” “Obamacare.”

2:14: Very involved graphic with very small text being disseminated by analysts. Maybe from NPR?

1:14: As it turns out, RUV is not only updating Icelanders on the presidential election, but elections in the senate as well. They not only just announced that Angus King has won the senate seat in Maine, but also explained where Maine is located (near Canada). The female analyst is still present, but the men have switched off, and we’ve returned to one of the former analysts.

1:09: Mbl coverage of the “Kosningavaka” (Election Watch) party hosted by the American Embassy at Hotel Nordica, with photos: http://goo.gl/ASoXe. Keep an eye out for the just-for-fun voting station (I’ll be interested, though probably not surprised, to find out the results of that vote), and note that American actor Matt Keeslar, who was cast as “The American” in the 2000 film Íslenski draumurinn (Icelandic Dream), is in attendance. In the photo, we think he’s standing next to Óttarr Proppé, a member of the Icelandic rock band HAM (among others) who was elected to Reykjavík’s city council in 2010.

0:59: Things are getting “mjög spennandi” (very exciting) over at RUV:

0:28: There are computer monitors positioned off-screen for the analysts to refer to. The effect is that when the coverage flips back to Iceland, it looks like both of them are looking off-screen, searching for anything more interesting that they might talk about. I don’t blame them.

0:26: There’s a title card now before the Icelandic coverage: American Presidential Election 2012 (with zooming sound effects). New vocab: Forseti (president).

0:25: I understand how this works now. When CBA goes to commercial, we get Icelandic coverage back.

0:19: It couldn’t last. CBS back again.

0:18: I believe they just said something was boring again. That can’t be right. (Or can it? We do have another what–seven hours of this? Time for a coffee break.)

0:17: Icelandic Coverage Returns! We’re down to 2 analysts, the woman and one of the men. They have inexplicably switched sides of the desk. We now have a bigger, brighter backdrop (with a waving American flag?).

0:13: Haha. Kidding, guys. Back to share some of Mark’s better live-tweets. While I was trying to hear words in Icelandic, he caught these key bits in English:

0:08: If Iceland’s coverage comes back, so will I. Otherwise, I’ll see you all tomorrow, when we have a newly elected president.

0:06: It made more sense when the “How the Electoral College Works” segment was geared toward Icelanders. Explaining the electoral college to American viewers is just sad.

0:04: (English) Vocab: “Battleground states!” “Ground game on early votes!” I think I was enjoying this more when I didn’t understand most of it.

0:00: At midnight exactly, the feed flipped over to CBS. This is already a busier screen, with more pomp and narrative tension-building. Kentucky and Indiana called for Romney, Vermont called for Obama.

23:59: A bit of a change from the US media outlets’ flashing pictures, tickers on the bottom of the screen, and many talking heads:

23:56: Discussion of Obama’s middle name: “Hussein, Hussein.”

23:55: They are talking about McCain. Everyone laughs quietly, nervously.

23:54: Vocab: endurtekning (repetition)

23:51: Snippet of understood commentary re: Sandra Day O’Connor.

23:47: I will take this opportunity to note that I may not have all quotes exactly, precisely, fact-checker-standard right. I am using the quotes so that you know that someone else is talking (you know, what quotation marks are used for), but this is my first live-blogging experience and apparently, my typing skills are rusty.

23:44: A professor whose name I didn’t catch is interviewed (in English) at the University of Iceland. Explains candidates’ views, with some good soundbites. “We have a very open debate [in the US]–no one is trying to hide anything. The American media wouldn’t allow it.” “We have a Sandy–like the hurricane–on the horizon…we are going to see a great conflict between these important issues in the days after the election.” Says that he is “comfortable” guessing that Obama will be reelected.

23:42: Bob Carpenter, the analyst linked to before, explains that the American economy will be a major issue for Americans in thinking about this election. Also says that the debates might have an effect on voters’ perception of candidates. Says that first debate was a show for Americans that Romney was “qualified to lead the country.”

23:39: Vocab: kosning (election). The female analyst just remarked that something was “leiðinlegt,” or boring. Not sure what.

23:36: Back to the analyst via Skype. It’s possible that he said that he’s in Maryland.

23: 34: Skyping now with Icelandic political analyst or journalist wearing headset. From the little of the background you can see in the frame, it looks like he might be in a small supply closet. Not sure where he was.

23:28: Vocab: spænsku (Spanish), latino

23:26: Vocab: Bandaríkjunum (American), þusand (thousand), Republican.

23:24: Analyst in cardigan discusses, I think, polls showing possibilities for candidates to take Ohio.

23:22: American political analysts–including this guy–interviewed to explain the American electoral college. (English with Icelandic subtitles.) General discussion of polarization of voters and parties, and the potential for this polarization to worsen in future years.

23:19: The scene: Four calm political analysts sit at a desk with laptops before them, discussing various aspects of the election and the candidates. I’m getting this from the few snippets I can understand which relate to “white people,” “taking Ohio,” and “much money.”

23:18: Turned on our TV to the only channel that we have, RUV, which luckily is the channel with the US Election Coverage. First article of note: coverage is in Icelandic, no subtitles.