Monday, December 31, 2012

Mondays in Iceland - #33

Song of the Vikings
Snorri and the Making of Norse Myths
Nancy Marie Brown
Palgrave Macmillan, New York

As befitting my "Iceland Year" I end with a review of a book about Snorri Sturluson, the Icelandic storyteller and writer who wrote down most of the Nordic myths and Sagas which survive to this day. This isn't a heavy tome, the writing is light and concise, but it is fully annotated for those who would like to delve further. The author gives a detailed history of the life of Snorri and attempts to link later works such as Wagner's Ring Cycle and Tolkien's Lord of the Rings with the original Icelandic sources.

For the most part Brown succeeds, although  the end of the book tends to be more of a list than an analysis. In spite of this it remains a good introduction to the somewhat unsung man and his work.  It would be a great help to anyone who was beginning to explore the "old stories."

I'm thinking of reverting to a less structured form of blogging.  Structure imposes its own limitations and I feel as if I've been losing the spontaneity which was always a feature of FITK—consciously, right from its beginning. 

The serial fiction will be wrapping up in the next couple of months, read it for free while you can, I will convert it into some kind of e-book—if I can figure out how.

See you next year!

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Sunday, December 30, 2012

All good things must come to an end…

   This marks the last of the Sharon Spotbottom posts to be featured on Flippism is the Key. The Professor extends his heartfelt thanks to artist Karen Heathwood for allowing Sharon to grace this site for the last two years. Sharon speaks to me in ways I still don't fully understand but I guess that comes with her being "nothing if she is anything."

   There will always be a place for Sharon in my Flippist heart as long as it remains beating.


   I Heart Sharon Spotbottom.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 1 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Sharon Plays Dead

The Spotbottom kids love playing this trick on their parents.
The Spotbottom parents like to pretend they care.

'Tis the season for Sharon

Used by permission

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Spotbottom Sleepover

As the family sleeps, Sharon sweeps.

'Tis the season for Sharon

Used by permission

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Mondays in Iceland - #32

Greeting card by "Theo", circa 1950

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Sharon and Grindle at Play II

Look, up on the Shire, it's a Spotbottom...and two others.
It's the semi-annual-if-we-feel-like-it-when-the-melons-are-ripe-melonball-race-across-the-shire-for-no-good-reason.

Except for a laugh.

'Tis the season for Sharon

Used by permission

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Friday, December 21, 2012

Sharon Sitting for Ding Dong

'Tis the season for Sharon

Used by permission

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Sharon Annoying

Grindle's in her room and she won't come out.
Flick, ping, ow...SHARON, quit it!

'Tis the season for Sharon

Used by permission

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

In the Belly of the Beast

This is chapter 26 of Window Weather, a serial fiction novel on FITK

Sally was right.

The reception was full of young women who were interested in Billy. Twenty-somethings were well represented—many of them casting surreptitious glances Sean’s way. The thirty-somethings simply stared. “Clothes make the man?” thought Sean. Herbert, who had been assigned to ‘Billy’ as his valet, had certainly known what he was doing. Billy’s closets contained quite a collection of high-end men’s clothes and Herbert really knew how to coordinate them, although Sean didn’t care for the shoes Herbert picked; Sean had to convince him to ditch the wingtips. Sean idly wondered if Billy’s appearance, in the minds of the single women in attendance, inspired thoughts of a White House wedding. He was starting to think the same way that Billy would have.

A large group was waiting for the Senator in the foyer and adjoining rooms of a sizeable mansion in suburban Richmond. His plane was late; he was flying in from a rally in Miami. Sean’s appetite still had not returned, so he drank champagne, as discreetly as possible. The staff saw to it that his glass was never empty. Nora and Sally kept their eyes on ‘Billy.’ They were making sure that Sean looked as if he was enjoying himself. He was seated on a sofa by the fireplace, with a stupid ‘PR grin’ plastered on his face. Sean stood up to greet one of the thirty-somethings who had come over and had asked to sit beside him. She was slim, in a black cocktail dress and flats. The woman placed her expensive-looking clutch purse between them. The diamond studded earrings that she wore must have been at least three carats each; her style could be summed up in a word: expensive.

“You’re looking sharp, Billy, your maturity suits you. Did you pick out those clothes?”

“I’m afraid not, it is my man Herbert who has the fashion eye.”

“Herbie’s still around? He’s the only person who has ever had any class in that house,” said the woman, “So, tell me, where have you been hiding since you dumped me, without so much as a phone call, seven years ago?”

“So sorry about that. Mea Culpa,” Sean said. He didn’t have the faintest idea who the woman was, but, using Billy’s M.O., Sean tried to mollify her. The champagne was starting to have an effect on him and he was becoming quite relaxed. “I’ve been abroad. You might say that I’m still trying to find my place in the world."

“Abroad? Your place in the world?” said the woman, “Hahaha. Billy, always the kidder. Your place in the world is on a broad. Tell me this, international man of mystery, what is my name?”


“You heard me, what is my name? Say it. Tell me my name... ” There was a pause as the woman waited for an answer. “You can’t even remember my Goddamn name, can you?”

“No, I’m sorry, I can’t,” Sean knew this wasn’t the place to start a fight with one of Billy's old girlfriends, “Please forgive me, I’m not the man I once was.”

“As if that were true. I’ve seen you looking around. Who will get ‘the Billy treatment’ tonight?”

“Look, I didn’t come here to make a scene, or to pick up a woman. I’m just doing what I can to help my father. Please, let it go. If you will excuse me.”

Sean stood up to leave the woman but when he turned around to leave the room kept on turning without him. He was a lot drunker than he had thought. At that same moment, a commotion erupted outside the mansion: the limo with the senator was arriving. The whirling of the room around Sean’s head began moving down to his gut. Sean asked one of the serving staff where the bathroom was. Everyone in the house was rushing the other way in order to greet the Senator.

Sean made it to a bathroom where he managed to have the wherewithal to hang up Billy’s jacket before he ‘assumed the position’ in front of the toilet. Between purges, Sean could hear the applause growing from the crowd that was now outside the house. Then a great roar went up and, at the exact same moment, everything went dark and Sean felt an excruciating pain in his belly. He was still retching and his abdominal pains increased with each new spasm. He could feel a warm wetness seeping through his shirt and when he reached to touch it he felt the handle of a knife. He heard a muffled voice speak:


And then he passed out.

Re: Sean

Molly, I received something this pm which confirms your doubts. Meet me at the aluminum tree in the sculpture garden 5ish? And bring the clearest photo you have of Sean's face. 



Re: Re: Sean 

I'll be there, 5 it is.


On the plaza of the sculpture garden, Mrs. Robinson found Molly looking at an image of Sean on her iPad.

“Molly! You’ve got a good picture of Sean? Great. Let’s go inside. I have something to show you.”

The women went into the pavilion and got coffee before they sat down. Mary Robinson opened a folder containing papers and photographs.

“Molly, zoom in and look at the right eye of Sean in your photo and give me an approximate position of the brown flecks in his iris—as if they were numbers on a clock face.”

“I see a small one at two o’clock, a larger one at seven, and another small one between nine and ten.”

“Now, look at this enlarged section of the photo I received in an image file today. The right eye.”

“They are they same.”

“Now, look at the other eye.”

“The same pattern is on each eye in both photographs.”

“Now look at this—the full image—and tell me what you see.”

“It’s Sean, sitting in a cafe, in the daytime, holding a foreign newspaper up to his face.”

“It’s Icelandic. Now, look at the date on the paper.”

“It says ‘Five Maí.’”

“That’s the morning after Sean was supposedly killed,“ said Mary, “You were right, he is alive.”

“Where did you get this?” asked Molly.

“It was in a memory card that was hidden in a greeting card—mailed from Reykjavík on the fifth. Look for yourself,” Mary said, handing Molly the card. Mary read the inscription.

Not dead yet. It’s in the card. Your eyes only. Wait for instructions.

“What does it mean, Mrs. Robinson? Why hasn’t Sean called or sent an email?”

“I’m not certain why, but we now know for sure that the body in the morgue isn’t Sean’s. How did you know that it wasn’t, Molly?”

“There is a tiny scar on Sean’s chest, just above his heart… From where I bit him.”

“That might be too much information, but I’ll make an exception in this case. I’ve got too much information as well, more information that was also on the memory card. It may explain who is behind this situation, but I am not yet at liberty to talk about it. We need to go back to the morgue and make them do a dental record check. I’ll tell them that the company’s life insurance policy requires it. That may buy us enough time to find out what has happened to Sean.”

As she spoke, Mary Robinson’s phone began to buzz. She read the text message that had been sent from the office:

Breaking news Billy C stabbed TV is all over it pls advise

“Molly, we may find out sooner than I thought. Can you pull up a news feed on your pad?”

Next Chapter: Mr. Lucky

By Professor Batty

Monday, December 17, 2012

Mondays in Iceland - #31

No Photos Please!

U.S.Embassy, Reykjavík, October, 2012

Iceland is a photographers dream— majestic scenery, colorful cities, and an abundance of unusual buildings in the Capitol. But the one place you must not photograph is the U.S. Embassy. I was out on a fine Sunday in October taking pictures in the dramatic afternoon sunlight. When I walked by I took another shot. A guard, a young Icelandic man came out and nicely asked if I would delete the picture. "They are very strict about this in the Embassy."

I said sure, no problem, and deleted the image for him. We got to talking, wanted to know where I was from and why I was interested in Iceland. The talk soon turned to Halldór Laxness, of course. We said good bye and I went on my way. Looking through my files tonight, I found that I had not deleted all the image files of the Embassy. I can understand the need for security, although if someone really wanted a picture of the embassy, they could just do a Google Image Search.

And despite what the fictional Ambassador in my serial may have done, the real U.S. Ambassador is really a very cool guy.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Sharon's Family

Sharon's Dadoo:
Baron Von Spotbottom is a lovely man who enjoys his pets and tinkering around the house.

Sharon's Mamoo:
Clodagh Spotbottom is prone to chasing Sharon with a broom. Sharon has her fathers nose.

Sharon's sister:
Grindle once led a bus load of Girl Scouts over a cliff and then went home to eat all their cookies with Sharon.

Sharon's brother:
Ted Spotbottom hums and smiles when he reads.

Sharon's family
will be featured here almost daily until the end of the year.

Used by permission

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Mondays in Iceland - #30

Ghost Suburb

Near Krikar, October 2012

Collateral damage from the 2008 kreppa, several unfinished housing projects dot the countryside around Reykjavík. Nestled in picturesque surroundings these "new ruins" catch the eye with their melancholy beauty.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Friday, December 07, 2012


Some Sharons make you smaller
Some Sharons make you....tea

I get all mushy when I think Sharon

Used by permission

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Tea for Three

This is chapter 25 of Window Weather, a serial fiction novel on FITK

“I hope he isn’t a dumb.”

Sean’s ‘new’ stepmother Nora, the Senator’s wife, was talking about him as if he wasn’t in the room. Sally sat with Sean, her face registering no emotion. The three of them were ‘taking tea’ in the dining room of the main house in the Clarkson compound. Sean felt as if he was livestock in an inspection of the goods.

“Now, Nora,” said Sally, “He’s gone through a lot in the last few days. After he has settled in I’m sure that you will find him quite capable. How are you feeling now, Billy?”

In fact, Sean was feeling thoroughly disgusted with himself. Nora was the kind of woman to whom he took an immediate dislike, yet he was compelled to sit there, smile pleasantly, and make chit-chat about the flight and the house and the election. Sean had never taken politics personally but, after reading Billy’s report on the Senator’s activities, his disinterest had turned into revulsion.

“I’m doing better, thank you. Once I get my inner clock reset I should be as good as ever,” he said while thinking, “Once I get my life reset, maybe.”

“William, and I will call you William—that Billy nickname is absolutely juvenile—tomorrow night is the big rally in Richmond,” said Nora,  “It will be the first time the whole family will appear with the Senator. It’s a very big thing.” Nora’s hand displayed a slight tremor as she held her cup and saucer, “The clothes in the closet should fit you: wear the dark blue suit, a white shirt, and a red tie. The shoes you’re wearing are fine. I’ll send Herbert down to help you dress.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Clarkson,” said Sean. “The wing-tips! As if! I hope that ‘Herbert’ has better taste than Nora,” he thought.

“Be ready by four. We’ll have a reception at a donor’s house before the rally—and remember: smile, agree, don’t comment. They’re our people, try to act as if you belong.”

“I will do my best.”

“Damn right you will,” said Nora, “The Clarkson’s are the best. Don’t ever forget it, not even for a second.” Nora looked at Sean with distaste.

“Oh, and one more thing, William,” she continued, “There will be young women there. Don’t encourage them. They don’t want to help you, they only want to use you for their own ends.”

“Mrs. Robinson, where is Sean?” Molly whispered to Mary Robinson. They were sitting at a table on a balcony in one of Seattle’s Fremont District coffeehouses. “I haven’t heard from him for three days.”

“We have been out of touch with him as well. How did you get my text number?”

“Sean left it in a letter,” Molly said, keeping her gaze on her coffee cup, “He told me it should only be opened in an emergency. What can you tell me?”

“The project that Sean was working on is extremely sensitive,” said Mrs. Robinson. “For your own safety, I don’t want you to know very much about it at this time.”

“My life hasn’t seemed to be worth much lately. I was taken into custody by Federal agents two days ago. They threatened me with prosecution and prison for participating in the WTO protests in 1999.”

“Do you know why? Do you think you are under surveillance?”

“I don’t know why, Mrs. Robinson,’ said Molly, “I did have a feeling of being watched,  I don’t think I am anymore—since they let me go. But I borrowed a friend’s phone to text you, just to be on the safe side. Sean told me to be careful in that letter.”

“Please, call me Mary. Tell me, Molly, how did you get here? Did you drive?”

“No, I took a bus and walked the last three blocks. I wanted to be sure that I wasn’t being followed.”

“My car is around the corner,” Mary said, “Let’s go for a ride, and I’ll tell you what I can.” Molly looked closely at Mary’s face. Mary’s eyes were rimmed with tears.

“It isn’t good, is it?”, Molly said.

“No,” said Mary, “Let’s go out somewhere where we can be alone, somewhere by the ocean.”

“We can go out to Golden Gardens park, it’s usually pretty private there,” said Molly, fighting a rising wave of nausea, “Do you know the way there?”

“Yes, I know the place.”

As they drove, the clouds, which had been sputtering all day, began to break up. By the time they reached the park, bright sunshine was being reflected from the millions of water droplets that were clinging to the dune grass. The women left the parking lot and were walking on a path that led to the shore. Mary turned and steered Molly into a small grove of trees.

“Molly,” Mary began, “Sean was on an assignment, in Iceland, for my company. This morning I received word from the US State Department that Sean had been killed in a traffic accident. ”

Molly crumpled to the ground and began to softly weep. Mary sat down beside her and cried as well. After a time, Molly quietly spoke:

“H-how? Sean didn’t mention that his trip would be dangerous.”

“He was hit by a taxi when crossing a street... it was at night. I don’t know if it had anything to do with his project,” Mary said. She paused for a moment. “Until we know more we should be very careful about what we say or do. There may be extenuating circumstances in this incident, things that may have something to do with your arrest.”

“I don’t believe it,” Molly said defiantly, “He promised me that he’d come back.”

“His body was flown in last night. I’m going to the morgue to identify it. Will you come with me?”

Molly slowly regained her composure.

“Yes, let’s go. Now.”

They rode in silence. When they were inside the morgue, Mary Robinson spoke with the attendant. After they signed some forms he ushered them into the examination room.

“I’m giving you fair warning, his head has been severely damaged,” he said, sliding the gurney out of the vault. He pulled the sheet down, and Molly moved next to the battered figure. She avoided looking at the corpse’s face but examined his relatively unmarked torso. Saying nothing, she turned away. Mary nodded to the attendant who then covered the body and returned it to storage.

In the office, Mary and Molly signed more papers. The women left. Back in the car, they remained quiet until Mary stopped in front of Molly’s apartment.

“It’s not him,” Molly said.

Next Chapter: In the Belly of the Beast

By Professor Batty

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Sunday Night Shopper

Coon Rapids, Minnesota

It was a dark and rainy night.
Batty's the name.
Groceries are my game.
I like Sunday nights- no crowds, no noise, plenty of parking.
A man can think.
About turnips.
And toothpaste.
The important things in life.
When it is time to check out the cashiers are part-timers or students.
Sometimes we talk.

"Did you find everything you were looking for?"

"Yes, thank you. Pretty quiet night."

"It was busy earlier, most folks stay home Sunday nights, I guess."

"Kinda peaceful."

"Yeah, it's not so crazy. That'll be $153.78."

"Yeah, not so crazy. I like it."

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Monday, December 03, 2012

Mondays in Iceland - #29

Dog Show

Hljomskalagarður, October, 2012

Dog ownership in Reykjavík is on the upswing. I had read that as recently as 2005 it was frowned upon in the city, and had even been banned in the past. No longer. Dogs with their owners are commonplace now, one Sunday I even found myself in the middle of an event for dogs, complete with a brass band! The dogs were well-behaved, and many sported little embroidered badges of their club.

Hljomskalagarður, October, 2012

By Professor Batty

Comments: 1 

                                                                                     All original Flippism is the Key content copyright Stephen Charles Cowdery, 2004-2023