Upon returning from REALITY in the North Country to "virtual" reality in cyberspace, I checked my site meter, only to find some disturbing statistics:
Someone (or something) in the mortgage industry is doing research on my home improvement projects? Scrolling down, it gets even more spooky:
29 page views and OVER AN HOUR spent on FITK? I don't spend that kind of time on this site, and I write it! I noticed the Googlebot showing up as well:
Now I don't exactly understand what a Googlebot does, is it a friendly robot built to serve mankind or does it have more sinister motives? Is it gathering evidence of my weaknesses in order to have me "eliminated" so it can take over and succeed (where I have failed) in my plan for Flippist world domination?
Wait a minute! 11 minutes spent by a F-N robot?! Now I am worried.
TOMORROW: Even scarier stuff, just in time for Halloween.
STAY TUNED "MORTGAGE NETWORKING" AND "GOOGLEBOTS" - I'LL GIVE YOU A "PAGE VIEW" THAT YOU'LL NEVER FORGET!
Each evening when it's not totally overcast a 30 minute light-show appears to anyone at a lake. When the wind dies down as well the mirror image of the sunset appears in the water- Alice's looking-glass on a colossal scale. In warmer months, you can even wade into the water and become one with the illusion but on a chilly October's evening one must be content with admiring this vivid panorama from the shore.
This scene is eternal- existing since there have been eyes to see it. Did my prehistoric ancestors get the same feeling of awe as I do when I gaze upon this glorious illusion- a scene with two worlds in plain sight, yet both unreachable?
Piney views, inside and out. The warmth of pine, aged to a deep amber, coupled with a wood fire (more pine, if only for kindling) in a cabin surrounded by pine, birch cedar and poplar- a rhapsody in wood, as it were. Ever since I was a child, staying in a flimsy motel cabin on a trip to the north shore, I've been attracted to this wall covering material. When I was a little older, I had a bedroom furnished in it. Endless hours where spent imagining what creatures the knots and grain suggested.
I've got three rooms of my current house covered in it (and a fourth with birch paneling and a porch with cedar shakes.)
The Frank Lloyd Wright gas station in Cloquet, Minnesota, is an island of 50's modernity in a sea of nondescript modern commercial buildings. Originally designed as part of Wright's Unsonian City, it is not as odd-looking now as it first seemed, and it remains a working service facility:
A play by Marsha Norman based upon the novel by Louise Erdrich
Guthrie Theater, through October 30
Family secrets are by no means unique to the northern plains, but this play (and the book which preceded it) explores the dynamics of the relationships between German immigrants and American Indians in a small town in North Dakota. Louise Erdrich has written several novels exploring variations of this theme, with many of the same characters reappearing in different books. This novel was loosely based on the life of her grandparents, who actually operated a butcher shop in Little Falls, Minnesota up until the mid-50s. The adaptation by Marsha Norman ('night Mother, The Color Purple, The Secret Garden) does a commendable job of knitting several story lines together into a coherent whole. The playwright chose to make use of a narrator, the Indian woman Step and a Half, who comments on the action from within and at a distance from the happenings on the stage.
The play is set up as the chronicle of the life of a German immigrant, Fidelis Waldvogel and is family, but also of Delphine Watzka, her alcoholic father Roy, her reluctant lover Cyprian and her friend Clarisse. Delphine, who works at the butcher shop, doesn't know who or where her mother is, and as the story progresses circumstance and fate draws the two families together. Delphine discovers the truth about her mother and the tragic past which still haunts the town and its people.
This is drama, not just an entertainment. Erdrich explores the history of the tribulations of 20th century American Indians in all of her books. They are sprawling, messy affairs, realistically mirroring the often chaotic lives of these people who are trying to retain the values and traditions in the face of the white culture. Her writing is subtle and tempered with humor and understanding- creating a tension which makes for an enthralling, if somewhat exhausting, evening at the theater. This is the kind of production that the Guthrie needs to remain vital. Artistic director Joe Dowling worked on this project a long time and succeeded in elevating the one area where the Guthrie has been historically deficient- regional theater.
I found them in one of the numerous antique stores in Duluth. An old pair of glasses, in a common style. Nothing really valuable, but I had seen them before. Perhaps not this exact pair, but it didn't really matter. The glasses were possibly 80 or 90 years old, but I had found the same style in another junk store 40 years ago, when they were "almost new." My girlfriend at the time was smitten with them, and had the frames fitted with her prescription. There was sort of a hippie-gypsy-old time eclectic fashion movement going on at the time, and they fit right in.
Were these her glasses? No way to tell, really. And if they were, what of it? Just another random coincidence in a junk shop, there to stir an old memory.
North of Grand Marais is the unique Naniboujou Lodge. The link gives you the straight story, but it must really be seen to be believed. It is open throughout the warm months, while restricted to weekends in the winter. It is a rather sedate place despite its bizarre decorations and the restaurant, while not haute cuisine, is pretty good for the area. Well worth a stop if you are ever traveling on the upper end of Highway 61.
An Inspector Erlendur Mystery by Arnaldur Indriðason, Minotaur Books, 2010
I spent last week not in the North Atlantic, as my posts would appear to indicate, but rather up on northern Minnesota's Gunflint Trail, in a cabin a stone's throw away from the icy cold waters of Little Ollie Lake. The days were gorgeous for this time of year- unseasonably warm and generally sunny. The evenings did cool off enough to allow the building of a cozy fire in the stove. The nights have already gotten longer- a perfect setting for a chilly Icelandic murder-mystery. So I read this one- aloud- to the Weaver while she knitted. Reading the place-names of dozens of Icelandic locales really tested my concentration, and I found that I actually could suss out most of them, in my fashion, and after awhile I had even started to unconsciously trill my "r's"!
Arnaldur Indriðason's latest novel (latest novel to be translated into English) continues with the existential struggles of Inspector Erlendur as he tries to deal with his inner demons while struggling with some decades-old missing-person cases and a current suicide. The twist in this book is the introduction of a theme of supernatural events- seances, visitations, and dreams. Erlendur steadfastly refuses to believe in any of it, but is also aware that something is going on; more than one coincidence usually means it isn't a coincidence at all. This a talky book, with lots of circular conversations, often repeated with several different people. The mystery isn't too hard to figure out, the story's strength lies more in watching Erlendur come to an understanding of the chain of events and how the suicide case spurs new insight into the older case. Erlendur is, as usual, haunted by the childhood death of his brother, a death he feels responsible for, and a feeling which was shared by the suicide victim. He is also haunted by his failed marriage, and his dealings with his ex-wife and children. There are a lot of dysfunctional family dynamics going on here- Indriðason incorporates them brilliantly in the plot, giving this mystery a definite sense of depth.
A note on the translation: Bernard Scudder, his original translator, passed away a few years ago, being replaced by Victoria Cribb. The dialog seems less fluid; I think Scudder may have had a better touch for this kind of writing. In addition, the book was riddled with typos! I think they may have rushed the production a bit, I can't recall reading a book that had been so poorly proofread! You might want to opt for the UK softcover edition, hopefully these mistakes have been corrected in them.
Reports coming in early Sunday morning of way too much fun last night in NASA.
Was it good for you, too?
Nasa has FM Belfast headlining tonight, but don't count out Sódóma, who headliner is TBA. In past years this slot has been filled by a surprise act who impressed earlier in the week- who knows who will show up?
Saturday Night's All Right for Iceland Airwaves 2010
Nikita has the best afternoon lineup- it's a festival in its own right (Útidúr, Nóra, Reykjavík!,Ham and many others).
Havarí has Amiina at 14:00, if you missed them Friday, this actually might be a better experience.
Hjaltalín (presumably without orchestra) will be at Kaffibarinn at 19:30:
Nasa has a strong line up tonight starting with the fiesty Hellvar at 19:30:
Toggi (20:50 at Risið) is the funniest act at the festival, and also an accomplished singer/songwriter:
Ólafur Arnalds has his showcase performance at Iðno (21:40), it just may be transcendent.
Apparat Organ Quartet (Nasa, 23:00) WILL BE transcendent- don't miss them:
Pop diva Robyn has the top slot at the art museum, so you probably won't be able to get in, you may rather want to catch the eternal/infernal Einar and his electronica group Ghostigital at Tjarnarbió (both at 00:00)
For you night-owls Retro Stefson (Nasa, 0:10) has a youthful vitality that's hard to beat, but UMTBS (Faktory, 02:30!) will give it a hell of a try.
The Reykjavík Grapevine is putting up reviews of selected Airwaves concerts- their usual snarky mix- but there is a lot of info there. They have a slide show as well, but only of a few bands, and no captions.
Lots and lots of good off-venue stuff this afternoon. Eymundsson's (the one by the jail) has Pascal Pinon (17:15) while Máls og Menningar has good stuff all afternoon, likewise the downtown hostel. Nordic House and Hressó are good bets as well.
The evening also has an embarrassment of riches.
The great folk-rock band Hraun starts a solid night of music at Tjarnarbíó at 19:00:
Even the foreign acts (Murder 19:50, Gablé 21:30, Angel Deradoorian 22:30)) look good, add in with the sensational Útidúr and you might not have to go anywhere else, but if you do the teen-age DJ wunderkinds Captain Fufanu are at Apotekið (21:50):
while back at Tjarnarbió DJ Margeir and his Sinfó go on at 23:30 (a must-see mix of classical and techno!):
Faktory has a strong after-midnight set, including Sudden Weather Change and thrashers Æla:
For those wanting a little calmer evening, Risið has the Trúbatrixur night with an all female lineup of folk and pop acts while Iðno's line up also looks to be very good, including Nóra at 20:50 and Nive Nielsen and her Deer Children from Greenland!
Surf's up! when the band Bárujárn (featuring a theremin!) is at Amsterdam at 01:10:
Best day of the festival, if you can't find good music today, and there is plenty more great music I haven't listed, you aren't trying.
Have breakfast with my favorite riot grrls, Vicky at Prikið (10:00), they are an absolute joy:
If they bring their Marshall Amps you might need earplugs, but they are oh so worth it!
For a complete change of pace, the Nordic House has their acoustic afternoons starting today (13:00-17:00), all the Icelandic groups are great, and they even have acts from the Faroes and Greenland as well. It's worth the walk across Hringbraut and the heath, and the Nordic house is very cool, with a nice restaurant (Dill). Check it out on Friday and Saturday, too:
Agent Fresco at Nordic House, 2009
Hressó has a good late afternoon off-venue program as well- between here and the Nordic house you can see 6 hours of music before the night even starts!
Today there is a very special appearance from Steindír Anderson and Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson at 12 Tónar (17:30)- well worth standing in line for:
Night shows of note: Risið has the wonderful Pascal Pinon at 20:20:
Getting Your Feet Wet- Iceland Airwaves 2010- Wednesday
Start off the day with breakfast at Prikið with their "Rock & Bacon" with the ominously-named The Assassin of a Beautiful Brunette (10:00)
Spend your afternoon at the Vesturbæjarlaugin outdoor swimming pool (D.J. at 18:00- although its more fun to talk to the regulars in the hot pots).
Rökurró has an off-venue appearance at 12 Tonar (17:30) that should be sublime:
Nasa has an interesting slate of established Icelandic bands with Agent Fresco and Mammút topping the bill. If your taste is more toward Electronica, Faktorý (formerly Grand Rokk) will have a ton, with Johann Johannsson's Evil Madness at 23:30:
I found that the days before the festival started already had a tingle of excitement- poring over the schedule, looking for new acts that might surprise, looking for older groups on the verge of greatness, or just looking for lights and noise and a crowd of beautiful young people.
Cynics and jaded hipsters need not apply.
Click here for in-depth coverage of last year's Airwaves.
Iceland Airwaves virtual (meaning I won't really be there) coverage begins here Monday. Run downs of the acts I'd like to see if I was there, broken down by day, time and venue. If you are attending, check FITK out each day for ideas on what acts are worth seeing- all of it IMHO.
It was a casual affair- a mini-reunion of some of the people I went to high school with. More of an excuse to get out of the house, I guess. When I got there, it was very relaxed, most of us realize that our days of making a striking impression are far behind. The table talk was a mix of gossip and general commiseration; the difficulty in the remembering of some things was a recurring topic.
But some things I remembered well- a hayride with the girl sitting across the table (who was now a grandmother), a date with another "granny" sitting on the other side of the room, and a special "private" one-act play rehearsal with the still-alluring blonde sitting next to me.
Everything was nice, everyone seemed eager to talk, there were no grudges or axes to grind.
Even the guys were mellow.
It was alright. I think I'll make it to the next one, as well.
TinEye is a reverse-search for images. Simply put in the url of an image and it will bring up all the places that image is used. I've tried it with a few of my popular images, it quickly showed me who has been using my stuff. I don't mind, except only about half of the users credit me. This service is still growing, it doesn't index everything, but I was surprised at the amount it does uncover. It's a useful tool, and done in a straightforward implementation (don't get me started on how Google messed up their image search!) There are other related services on their website, aimed more at the professional user, but I'll be making TinEye part of my search section.