Tuesday, October 30, 2012

It's in the Cards



    "When are you leaving?" Þora wasn't smiling, but she was cooling off. She wasn't nearly so upset as she had been in the diner.

    "Tomorrow, I think. The Embassy has some paperwork to complete to allow me to leave the country. Nothing is simple anymore."

    "What about your clothes?"

    "My clothes?" I had wondered where Billy kept his things.

    "Yes, I'm not going to have them wasting space in my apartment."

    "We could get them now, if you like."

    "Yá, but we'll need to do it right away, I have to be at work at 12."

    I still needed to get the 'Evidence' file out of Billy's computer. It was my only trump  card. I figured that I would become expendable after the election, either win or lose. I needed some insurance.

    "Þora, do you know where I could get an SD card?"

    "Memory card? I've got a spare for my camera, somewhere here in my purse."

    As she rummaged through her bag I thought of a way to save the file without risking blowing my cover. I went over to the other table and picked up a copy of the morning paper. Þora produced her camera and the card.

    "Would you take my picture with this newspaper? On the spare card. I want to send it to my Aunt Mary in Seattle. She says I never send her anything from my trips abroad. She doesn't believe me when I tell about my trips. I've got some files on the computer to send to her too."

    "Why don't you just e-mail them?"

    "She doesn't believe in owning a computer. But she'll bring the card to the drugstore and make prints there." Lying was becoming easier and easier.

    "Já." Þora put the card in her camera. "Smile."

    I held the paper close to my face, so the date would be visible.

    "Satisfied?" she said, showing me the review.

    "That's great. Is there a place I can get a greeting card, and a stamp?"

    "Eymundssons in Austurstraeti has cards in the basement. The post office is across the street." She said as she handed me the card.

    "Let's go back to the hangover shack. It will only take a minute for me to download the files, we'll take care of my aunt Mary, I'll pickup my clothes and you can get to work on time." I hoped. I didn't have any idea where she lived.

    "OK, but we'll have to hurry." Þora was still angry. I could see how Billy would have been attracted to her. Mon petit vulcan, indeed.

    We left the restaurant and went back to the storeroom. I copied the evidence file, then erased it on the hard drive, using a line command to make sure it was wiped. I knew the Senator's people would be looking for it, I didn't want them to think that I was aware of  the file. I took the duffel I had gotten from the embassy and the card and we left, headed towards the center of town.

    Þora pointed me in the direction of Eymundssons and said "I'll get the stamp. The cards are downstairs. Make it quick." I grabbed the goofiest Icelandic card I could find, paid for it, then wrote this on the inside:
Not dead yet. Your eyes only. Wait for instructions.
    The card had a double layer cover printed in gold foil. I wedged the SD card between the cover layers then addressed it to Mrs. Robinson at ADR in Seattle. She would figure it out. Back on the street, I gave Þora the envelope and she stamped and mailed it.

    "Come on, let's go. I haven't got all day." she said. The she was off, walking so fast that I almost had to jog to keep up with her.

   "And don't get any ideas about a repeat performance." she said.






Fiction


By Professor Batty





Friday, October 26, 2012

I Heart Páll Óskar

A special post today (Sharon will be back on Halloween).

It is something I wrote for I Heart Reykjavík, a great website run by Auður Ösp, who I've mentioned here several times before. Check it out here.


By Professor Batty




Comments: 0



Thursday, October 25, 2012

Pipe Dream



Sure, I could cash in my 401k and rent this place in the center of Rekjavík, right across the street from Fríkirkjan. Fill it with friends, live the expat lifestyle, and...

...and it really is quite a mad idea. But what dreamer hasn't thought of pulling up stakes and starting over in some exotic locale? And if you aren't still dreaming, what does the future hold?


By Professor Batty




Comments: 6



Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Stirring Grey into Black



   What would Billy do in this situation? I ran though a few scenarios in the pause that followed Þora's outburst. Stonewall her? Laugh it off? Act dumb? Billy had gone through this scene, in one form or another, numerous times. What was the constant? He never got mad and never caused a scene. Then I remembered his "advice" for this kind of situation:
"Let her talk her way through it. There is no point to a fight about love and sex. She'll cover all sides of the situation if you keep your mouth shut, let her flow on and on like a river and she'll eventually reach a point where her wild rapids will turn into a calm lake."
   "Lately, I don't know." I said. I looked deeply into Þora's eyes, as if I could find the answer there. "Help me." I was feeling, even more disgusted with myself, if that was possible.

   "Help you? Who could help such a man? You treat me like a stykki af skít, you don't call, then tell me you were out all night 'thinking' and then show up at the hangover shack with clean clothes and fokking wingtips? What kind of fool do you take me for? What's her name? Someone I know? Don't tell me it was some fokking ferðamaður stelpu!"

   The men at the other table were quiet. They weren't looking at us, but I knew they were taking in every word. I swallowed hard in spite of myself. This wasn't going to get any better unless Billy's theory was right. Þora was only beginning her tirade:

   "Pretty smooth lovemaking Billy." Þora hissed. "Did you really think I could not tell when something is wrong? Never were you so quiet before."

   We sat in silence for a full minute.

   The quiet of the restaurant was broken by the sounds of the '"breakfast club" at the next table getting up. The last man to leave looked at me and gave a sly smile followed by a wink.  Þora glared back. The counter person came over and picked up the cups left by the men, leaving the papers.

   "Billy." said Þora.

   "Yes?"

   "You are trying to live in two worlds. It can't be done. You must choose. Choose now."

   "I must go back. My father, for good or ill, is at the climax of his career. When this election is over I'll be free to come back. If I don't support him now, it will tear our family apart. Give me a few months. I'm not proud of what I'm going to do. But I'll come back. I'll come back when I can offer you something more than my divided attention."

   Þora was quiet again.

   "Okay Billy. Six months. Come back and we'll start over."

   She bought it.





Fiction


By Professor Batty





Monday, October 22, 2012

Silent Performance



City Hall, Reykjavík, 2012

Night in the city.

A stranger in a strange land.

Each new vista encountered in my nocturnal ramble akin to to watching a silent play from another culture.

On the surface, everything is self-evident.

Underneath are hidden contexts and meanings.

An event, no doubt, perhaps an anniversary celebration.

The mannequin dressers were working late- it was nearly midnight.

They moved with grace, purposefully.

Ballerinas in a mimed ballet.


By Professor Batty




Comments: 4



Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Farewell



"When the peace of Autumn has become poetic instead of being taken for granted...the last day of the plover become a matter of personal regret...the horse become associated with the history of art and mythology...the evening ice-film on the farm stream become reminiscent of crystal...and the smoke from the chimney become a message to us from those who discovered fire - then the time has come to say goodbye. The world-bacterium has overcome you, the countryside has turned into literature, poetry and art; and you no longer belong there."


~Halldór Laxness, The Atom Station,1948


By Professor Batty




Comments: 1



Monday, October 15, 2012

Sunday in the City


Hallgrímskirkja


Bæjarins beztu pylsa


Tjörnin



Aurora Borealis


By Professor Batty




Comments: 5



Sunday, October 14, 2012

Culture Night

I took coffee with one of the Laxness in Translation contributors, Silja Aðalsteinsdóttir, a most illuminating afternoon. Our conversation started with Salka Valka and went numerous places from there. Silja writes theatre reviews for TMM (Timarít Mals og Menníngar) and she suggested I see John Logan's play Rautt (Red) which was about the painter Mark Rothko. So it was that I found myself Saturday evening outside the Borgarleihusið (the City Theatre of Reykjavík):



It is a large complex with two theatres and a vast, airy lobby area, quite the contrast to the intimate Þjóðleikhúsið Kassinn venue I went to last night:



The play was quite wordy, although the context (late fifties New York art scene) and numerous instances of name-dropping in the script helped me follow the gist of the story. Rothko (Jóhann Sigurðarson) and his fictional assistant (Hilmar Gudjonsson) have heated conversations about the meaning of modern art:



Image: Vísir

Silja mentioned the quality of the acting, and she was right—Jóhann Sigurðarson was outstanding, his physical presence defined the character as much as his speech.


By Professor Batty




Comments: 0



Saturday, October 13, 2012

Brief Impressions of a Frantic Friday

Another beautiful day, warmish with no rain, I pedaled out to Grotta, an out of service lighthouse on the west end of town, desolate and picturesque:



Spent much of the day taking pictures around town. Tonight I went to Þjóðleikhúsið (The National Theatre) where I saw another exemplary performance. This time it was Jónsmessunótt, an original dark comedy. Afterwards I took a stroll through the downtown:



The downtown really comes to life after 2300. The clubs are full of beautiful people, even Harpa "dresses up" for the evening:


I caught a glimpse of this little afterparty outside city hall:


By Professor Batty




Comments: 2



Friday, October 12, 2012

Nótt og dag og nótt

Wednesday rained. All day. Not a deluge, but one could get quite wet with no trouble at all. There was a show at Faktorý (formerly Grand Rokk) in the evening, so I wandered out in my raincoat. As I strolled to the club I was tempted by the sight of this tableaux to get my own  Icelandic "souvenir:"


Reykjavík Ink, Tattoo Parlor

I have been in this club many times, but never when it felt so "tropical" (heat and humidity) as it did last night. I've been meaning to catch the techno/goth trio Samaris for some time (they don't tour much, being in high school) and was duly impressed by their spooky vibe:



It did rain off and on throughout the night, but by Thursday morning the weather broke clear over the "hood":



I was out and about: the pool, Friða Frænka antiques, Nautholsvík, and when it started to sprinkle again, I headed for the safety of Kríngland, the big shopping center. I was tempted by some sushi, but knew I would be going out to eat later tonight:



My destination—Dill! Not the herb (although there was plenty of that) but the Restaurant in the Alvar Aalto designed Nordic House in Reykjavík:





Seven courses of food and six courses of wine (plus a little Icelandic IPA thrown in.) This "warm potato salad" was nothing like my mother used to make:



And two courses of dessert, including this delight "made with blueberries from Þingvellir":



Of course.


By Professor Batty




Comments: 4



Thursday, October 11, 2012

Breakfast Club



   The diner was just across the street. Þora went to the restroom while I picked up a couple of coffees and sat down at a table by the window. My body was definitely starting to break down but I had to stay awake—there were still a few things which needed to be  addressed.

   First: My all too easy betrayal of Molly. Was I really becoming Billy? Or just reverting to my college days; those meaningless couplings and those feelings of self-loathing which had always come afterwards. It had been different with Molly. Somehow, everything just worked between us but now that bond, that bond which had grown over the last year, was broken, broken in moment.

   Second: It was evident that there had been more between Þora and Billy than just flirtation. How would the "new" Billy measure up? Could I keep up the deception for another 24 hours before she saw through me and the whole charade? Our lovemaking had been good, perhaps too good, but it would have certainly been different than anything that had gone on before. As I stared into my coffee my reflection seemed to belong to a different person—not Billy, not me, it was someone else. Someone I didn't like the looks of.

   In the restaurant four older men, obviously regulars, sat amidst newspapers and coffee cups at a couple of tables pushed together. They were talking, with deep guttural tones, the conversation punctuated by the occasional "Já, Já, Já" followed by a moment of silence and then the low murmur would begin again. It may have been the speed, but from time to time I would catch them staring in my direction. When Þora came and sat down, the men definitely stared as involuntary smiles crossed their faces. It was then I realized that Þora had become involved in something beyond her understanding or control. Her heart would be ultimately be broken, but not today, not by me: A liar's morality.

   She sat down and looked at me for long time before speaking.

   "Who the fokking fokk are you?" she said.





Fiction


By Professor Batty





Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Imagine...

Yoko Ono and Lady Gaga were in town, Yoko gave Lady G an award in a private ceremony in the new Harpa hall on the waterfront (I was not invited):



I explored the inside of the hall- the construction of the windows is a thing to behold:



I spent some time on the Seltjarnarnes peninsula, and went to the salt-water pool there. My swimming pass wouldn't work, the attendant laughed and said "That's for the city pools, you're in the country now!" The pool was very nice indeed, although I'm not big on the way salt water feels on my skin.

The evening, of course, was Yoko's. She lights the Imagine Peace Tower every year on this date, the date of John Lennon's birth, and it remains lit until the anniversary of his death in December. It was somewhat controversial when it opened in 2007, but the city residents seemed to enjoy its presence and it is now also lit at Christmas and New Years. The only complication for me was that I had to take a dreaded ferry to Viðey island, where the light is and the ceremony took place. There was a nice big tour boat at the ferry, but it left just before I got in line. I ended up on a tiny ferry, about the same size as the boat which sank in Djupið. I shared a seat with some freelance photographers, I sensed the trip wasn't as big a thrill for them as it was for me:



There were thousands of people on the island and Yoko did appear, undaunted by the light rain, with sincere greetings to the crowd and the world at large:



The tower was lit a section at a time, while John's Imagine played. It was very nice:



Afterwards we all stood around waiting for the ferries, on the trip back (on the big ferry) I did meet some scouts from Georgia (not the US state.) A nice end to a memorable night.


By Professor Batty




Comments: 4



Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Mondays in Iceland - #24

Took a ride to the Old Harbour part of Reykjavík. It has undergone dramatic changes in the last 12 years. It is now full of very nice places to eat. The changes have been done for the most part by using existing buildings and keeping the new ones in proper scale, while still keeping the boatworks and other industrial uses. In a warehouse building I found the shop Farmers Market, a place featuring Icelandic garments:





After a swim I headed up the hill to a coffeehouse near Hallgrímskirkja to meet with Maria of the Iceland Eyes blog, we both were struck with the strange feeling of meeting someone for the first time, yet knowing an awful lot about each other- we go back to 2004! Conversation ranged from blogging (past and present), Robert Graves, writing, music, relationships and life in general:



It was a rainy night, but my new DSLR is weather proofed, so it was a good night for seeing what it could do: As I was setting up for a shot this young couple "happened" to get in the picture:



Tomorrow Yoko Ono and Lady Gaga will be in town, Yoko will be giving Lady G an award, I'm going to try to sneak in to the ceremony.


By Professor Batty




Comments: 5



Monday, October 08, 2012

Lazy Sunday

More time spent at Kolaportið. People watching at its finest:

From Iceland 2012

The Weaver told me to send more pictures of yummy Icelandic food:




Went to the pool, where I was treated to sun, sleet and rain. In other words: regular Icelandic weather. Afterwards, I hung out in a small bar, a thing which I almost never do. Very low key, no neon beer signs, and a very quiet crowd, it could become a bad habit:



Took more pictures after dinner. It was fairly chilly tonight, but should warm up a bit for the rest of the week.


By Professor Batty




Comments: 9



Sunday, October 07, 2012

Kolaportið, Kaffi, and Kourmákur

After yesterday's adventures, I decided to take it a little easier today, sticking close to my apartment. I did go to Kolaportið, a combination flea market/grocery with a wide variety of seafood, meats, pastries and even a few vegetables:



I spent the afternoon in the company of an old blog-pal, her husband and their absolutely charming toddler:




In the evening I went to see Baltasar Kourmakur's newest film Djupið, (The Deep), a true story of a fisherman who swam seven miles in the frigid sea after his ship sank. Brutally realistic- they filmed in the ship as it was sinking!




By Professor Batty




Comments: 5



Saturday, October 06, 2012

Paradise Regained and Lost Again

Friday was an absolutely perfect day for a bike ride. Warm in the sun, cool in the shade, very little wind. I'd thought I'd take the 20 mile ride to Gljúfrasteinn, the preserved home of Nobel Prize winning writer, Halldór Laxness. Getting out of town is a bit tricky on a bicycle, however I did come across some spectacular views from the bike path:


Hamrahlið, Near Reykjavík

The Laxness home was modest and very Scandinavian, almost to the point of being severe:


Gljúfrasteinn

The guide was familiar with the Laxness in Translation Site and we talked a great deal about Laxness and his work. The inside was exactly as it was when Laxness lived there; I was even given a special glimpse of the kitchen. I managed to sneak this pic of the master's study:


HKL's study, Gljúfrasteinn

The trip back held many photogenic vistas:


Near Gljúfrasteinn

I did manage to get hopelessly confused as to which path I should take (I took a different route on my return trip) but was finally straightened out with the help of this Viking compass:


Somewhere near Mosfellbaer

After I finally managed to drag my self back to the apartment I ate dinner then went to the pool.

For some reason, the hot tub felt especially good tonight.


By Professor Batty




Comments: 4



Thursday, October 04, 2012

Back on the Rock

Landed without incident at 06:35 at Keflavik International Airport. Got to town on the Flybus and checked in at my apartment. I went for a morning stroll and caught Mount Esja in all its glory:


Mount Esja, Iceland 2012

I ran into one of the directors at the Reykjavík International Film Festival, she struck up a conversation and I showed her I already had her film written down in my book:


Andrea Sisson and friend, Reykjavik, 2012

I managed to squeeze in a little brekkie:


Breakfast of Champions, Prikið, Reykjavik, 2012

I picked up some groceries and my bike, and then soaked in the hot pots, and had a nap. I woke to the dulcet tones of a sound check from Biggi Hilmars—he was giving a CD release party at Fríkirkjan, the church just a few steps away from my front door. I went to the concert, which was very well done, and got these shots:




By Professor Batty




Comments: 3