Summer re-run, originally posted July 14, 2007, with additional material:
The only mountain climbing we would attempt today would be the hills of the University district in Seattle. In the morning, we went down to the Farmer's Market and stocked up on fresh produce for that evening's dinner:
We also walked down University Avenue and I stopped in to the Gargoyle Shop, which is always a welcome escape from ordinary reality:
We also went into several bookstores that placed special emphasis on “original prize volumes” concerning academic themes:
I even spotted a “hippie” bus downtown:
We went back to our son's place, with its nicely shaded and terraced backyard:
Where we were served a wonderful meal made from our market finds:
Alda Sigmundsdóttir has been a reliable source of information on Iceland for over a dozen years now. I’ve been following her Iceland Weather Report blog for just as long. It was a must-read during the 2008 kreppa and its aftermath, when her opinions were featured in numerous articles and even on BBC broadcasts!
Although her old blog is pretty much dormant, you can still get a glimpse of her activities at her FaceBook page. Alda has kept writing about Iceland and now heads her own mini-publishing empire. Although I’ve got most of her titles, and have even been a beta reader for her last two, it is still a thrill when I get one of her books in the mail, complete with Icelandic postmark and personal inscription:
This is the book I was looking for seventeen years ago when I first started visiting Iceland. It is concise, packed with information about Iceland and its current “tourism situation” as well as a rumination on what a tourist in Iceland can expect and how a tourist should behave to maximize his or her experience. This is a far cry from the usual guide book. If you are thinking about going to Iceland, get this book! As I intimated last December, the Icelandic coverage at FITK is diminishing, I’ve done it too long, things are changing there so fast that now I’m too far out of the loop and another trip back doesn’t seem likely. So I say hats off to Alda, for this labor of love, for keeping the dream of Iceland (and its sometimes bitter truths) alive.
My home town was overrun by “Food Trucks” last Saturday. These gypsy bistros have blossomed in popularity over the last few years in big cities all over the country, usually serving a lunch crowd or as an adjunct to micro-breweries. My small town has been historically somewhat insular in its approach to "outsiders" but somehow someone persuaded the city council to allow dozens of these culinary interlopers to invade. Part of their appeal is in the graphics that adorn the sides:
Some were obvious franchises:
One problem with the food trucks is that the city has gone to great lengths to make downtown “loiter-proof”, therefore there are few places to sit and eat. They did block off a couple of blocks to traffic, so people made do with the curb and sidewalks:
The lines for the more popular trucks were long and slow-moving, patience was thin:
The trucks that had few customers generally had poor graphics, indeed, it was sometimes hard to figure out what it was they were selling (why would anybody want to eat ‘butcher salt’?) :
Overall, I would say that the response to Food Truck Day went far beyond anyone’s expectation; it was like the State Fair, but without all those annoying exhibits:
The little kids loved the water fountain in front of city hall, a perfect place to cool off in the ninety degree heat:
Just down the hill from where the trucks were is the Rum River, many people were using the area to get away from the bustle (and to snap a few selfies):
Meanwhile, back on the street, there was lots of kids texting and there was even some old-fashioned face-to-face communication going on:
One side benefit was that the regular restaurants and bars were also packed, everybody wins!
It has been a while since I’ve featured Jófríður Ákadóttir. She has been so prolific that I hardly know where to begin describing her numerous activities. Her debut solo album, Brazil, leans heavily on the electronica side of things, with a fair amount of Björkian sprechgesang, not my favorite combination. One man’s opinion. In a similar vein, she has also done a guest vocal on the new album by Lapalux:
Recently she has been posting live performance videos on the Videoteca Bodyspace YouTube channel that are simply stunning, including a couple of Pascal Pinon songs done with an string section:
Jófriður has posted on her Instagram account that she had returned to the studio to redo several Pascal Pinon songs with strings. If that project turns out as well as these did I think we’ll be in for a real treat.
Also done for Videoteca, an emotional performance of her autobiographical My Work:
Done in real time with a single camera and no cuts. Shot in a Portuguese farmyard (with roosters and passing cars in the background!) Although her breathy style and soft diction may put off some listeners, this is as honest a video as you will find in any music performance, it is almost too intimate to be presented to a cruel and cynical world.
Thanks again to all the readers, long time and occasional, I hope that your time here has not been spent in vain.
Thanks to the contributors (listed on the Welcome Page), inspirations all.
Thanks to all those bloggers who continue to publish original material.
Thanks to Vint Cerf and Robert Kahn and Tim Berners-Lee, as well as the numerous other people who have contributed to making the internet possible. In spite of its flaws, which are in reality just the flaws of humanity, it has helped bring people of the world together. The idea of an open internet is under attack, an attack that, if successful, would obliterate sites such as these as well as any others that weren’t under the thumb of big business. For a bitter foretaste of that future:
There ain’t no cure for the summertime blues… ~ Eddie Cochran
Actually, there are numerous nostrums to treat the midsummer’s malady, it all depends on how low you want to stoop. For sheer spectacle, Sophia Coppola’s latest film, The Beguiled, full of girls and women and one unfortunate man, is hard to beat:
Set in Virginia in during the Civil War, a wounded deserter is discovered and taken in to heal in a girls seminary where there are no men or servants (“The slaves ran off…”) Needless to say, repressed urges surface amidst the sewing and French lessons. Fascinating, in a strangely distant way. Not an action flick, and probably not her best effort, but if you’ve enjoyed Sophia Coppola’s films in the past you should get a kick out of this. If you can’t stand her work, stay far, far away.
On the literary front, I enjoyed Neil Gaiman’s Trigger Warnings immensely. A short story/poetry anthology, Neil shows his seemingly effortless skill in spinning yarns (not so smooth with the poetry, however.) This collection is a perfect summer item, with no story taking more than 10 minutes to read. There is a dazzling array of genres to explore here including: fairy tales, classic sci-fi (an ode to Ray Bradbury), a Sherlock Holmes story and even a Doctor Who episode! It is almost too much, perhaps best taken in small doses.
On the more esoteric side is Jack Kerouac’s long suppressed (and thought to be lost for many years) first long-form writing, The Haunted Life. A coming-of-age story (does anyone ever write anything other than a coming-of-age story for their first novel?) that starts off with a diatribe from the protagonist’s father about foreigners taking over America. Written while he was associating with Allen Ginsberg and the Beats, it was evidently left in a closet in Ginsberg’s apartment and has only recently re-emerged. This is in the J.D. Salinger mode—the language is definitely 1940s-ish. Reading it makes me glad that my coming-of-age was in the sixties, not the forties. Foreshadowing his alcoholism, Kerouac’s 19-year-old protagonist downs six beers before noon in one chapter. The writing is pedestrian, even though Kerouac name-drops numerous authors and poets. With its small town setting The Haunted Life comes across as Garrison Keillor without the humor. It is unfinished, but there are several additional chapters by Kerouac describing the rest of the book, as well as letters from his father.
Over in TV-land, I've been caught up in the BBC’s The Great British Baking Show (shown in the US on PBS, back episodes are on their website.) I am charmed by the humanity it reveals: the intimidating Paul Hollywood and the grandmotherly Mary Berry are the judges, the daffy presenters Sue and Mel, and all the contestants; you get the sense that these people really care about each other. This is definitely “Reality TV” at its finest, although its chemistry has been broken—the new season is on a private network—only Paul will make the switch:
And, finally, is this super-adorable video is set to Pascal Pinon music, shot for a film class somewhere in the far east (The Philippines, perhaps?) Sit back on your screen porch with a glass of lemonade and, if you are as easily amused as I am, enjoy this panacea for the summertime blues:
UPDATE: Speaking of how low you can go, this made me laugh out loud.
A rather anemic home and garden tour was held yesterday, it has been going on for ten years now and they've sort of run out of people willing to put up with 100s of strangers traipsing through their tulips and toilets. The was some entertainment, authentic old-time music (above) and the crazy piano artist (work pictured below), who had one of his dozen pianos actually operating with a player mechanism.
He also had a 70s Oldsmobile hearse that caught The Weaver’s eye:
This year’s effort was sort of a “pig in a poke”, some of the houses originally slated couldn’t be seen, while another was closed due to a family obligation. I think the most we've had was 12, this year there were only 5 houses and an additional 3 gardens.
Oh well, such is life in a small town on the prairie.
Lieutenant Mitchell slowly opened the door a bit. The room was quite dark. Fumbling for a light-switch, he found and old-fashioned pull-chain and gave it a tug. The room was full of books. There were bookcases filling the three walls in front of him as well as a pair of them flanking the doorway alongside. In the confined space he became aware of a scent, something vaguely spicy but not too strong, Evelyn’s perfume perhaps.
“Is this what you were looking for?” he asked, not bothering to turn around. He had gotten a brief flash of arousal—a proximity effect—and he thought that he had better keep this investigation on a professional level. He had experienced many similar incidents in the past, with other women, women who had been recently estranged from their partners. The last one was a would-be stripper, at least that was the impression she gave as her wardrobe kept “malfunctioning.”
“Ms. Thompson?” Stepping back out of the room, Mitchell realized he was alone. Listening carefully, he could hear the faint sound of a car door slam, a car starting, and the noise of tires on pavement that quickly faded away. Mitchell carefully looked around the basement, then went back upstairs and looked through all the rooms of the main floor. Satisfied that the house was empty, he went back to the basement. “Evidently Evelyn didn’t really want to find out what Andy thought of her,” he thought, re-entering the basement library.
There seemed to be no order to Andy’s book collection, although many books had Post-it notes and other motley bookmarks sprouting from their pages. Although many of the books were old and possibly valuable, others were modern best-sellers, of the kind you would find at a garage sale. In the center of one of the shelves was a nondescript briefcase: cheap, and a little shabby. “Unless there is some revelation in that briefcase, Evelyn was right—Andy Larson was the most boring person on earth,” thought Mitchell. He pondered opening the briefcase, there was not much of a chance that it was booby-trapped. It wasn’t worth bringing out the bomb squad. He tried the latches and they opened without resistance. Lifting the top, the spicy odor became stronger, and opening it all the way revealed its source.
Inside there were a dozen jars of turmeric, some of them still sealed, others that had been open at one time. One of them had lost its cover and had spilled its contents. Mitchell opened one of the sealed jars to confirm that the spill was indeed turmeric. The other contents of the briefcase were handwritten manuscripts, paper-clipped in groups of four or five pages, similar to those he had found on the kitchen table. If these were anything like the other ones, this case would be over as far as he was concerned. He would let the County inventory the house and its contents, assuming that an heir didn’t show up they would auction it all off. The sad effects of another lonely guy, living a life of quiet desperation. His only crime was that of being dull.
Lieutenant Mitchell shook the turmeric from the papers and began to read…
Those of you who have followed her here in the past may not find much new, but I always enjoy hearing her eloquent and engaging speech. She’s come a long way since she visited Flippist World Headquarters.