föstudagur, mars 31, 2006


Another rainy evening of Chinese dining. The menu assures me that the squirrel eggs are boneless. I am glad to know that, ultimately and as usual I settle on General Eponymous Chicken.

fimmtudagur, mars 30, 2006


Maybe it is the subliminal influence of Easter on the horizon. I am craving a good lambahryggur---not a single rack of lamb but the entire back, cooked slow and long until the meat has begun to caramelize at the edges. I do not know what this cut is called in English. It may not be called anything at all. I do not think I have ever seen it for sale here. I see it in my mind's eye pink and white behind the glass at Melabúð, glimpsed through the jostling bodies during the 6 PM rush, or else on a platter, steaming and dripping clear liquid, in a kitchen on Sólvallagata.

þriðjudagur, mars 28, 2006


March got thin somehow this year while I was not looking, like a wash you continue to dab about the canvas long after concentration of pigment is far lower than that of the mere dirt you loosened from the bristles of the brush. Not even enough medium remains to make a difference. When it dries you will notice that those efforts have had no effect at all, but not before. For now the shine of the water makes you think that you are at least adding gloss if not depth.

Perhaps it has been the rain, inconstant but inconvenient and copious. It washes over everything, thins it out, moves the dirt around. Still, things do not appear to become any cleaner.

laugardagur, mars 25, 2006


This morning's accomplishments have been mixed. On the plus side, I have completed thirty pushups with my feet raised on a stack of Norwegian dictionaries. On the minus side, I have still not found confirmation of my lexigraphical suspicions in those dictionaries. I fear that further improvement on both counts will require more dictionaries.

föstudagur, mars 24, 2006

orð dagsins

The word of the day is pareidolia. It is good to have something by which to call the sensation of seeing, quite distinctly, the figure of a woman in the grain of the hallway door. Of course, knowing the word does not make her disappear.

miðvikudagur, mars 22, 2006


The Icelandic papers provide an endless stream of news about útrás. Icelanders blogging from home write of útþrá and those blogging from abroad of heimþrá. Today my own innþrá has reared its frost-decked head, moving me to leaf through old correspondence, turn inward, play back old home movies in my head.

Funny that I only now see the pun: skap - mood, landskap - landscape. Emotional landscapes, indeed.

laugardagur, mars 18, 2006

snákar burt

First the snakes from Ireland, and now the US Army from Keflavík. Patrick is clearly still in fine form.

It's hard to conceive of it, though. What will be sung around the campfire to fill out the line that begins Ísland úr Nató? What will be scrawled on the walls and pavements of Bankastræti of a warm Laugardagsnótt by the drunken djammarar and menntask(r)ælingar?

And will the traditional and completely inadequate rendering of herinn burt as "the army away" finally, finally die out?

fimmtudagur, mars 16, 2006


Yesterday I walked into a store and was surprised and pleased to find a whole bin of viverrids for sale. They had civets, binturongs, linsangs, and genets. I did not see any fossas, which was a pity, because I like fossas very much, but on the other hand there were some stray representatives of the mustelid family: otters and ferrets. I bought a spotted linsang.

Today I learn that in German the viverridæ are called Schleichkatzen. What a super name.

þriðjudagur, mars 14, 2006

aldrei ein

There was a joke in Soviet times running along the lines that they had started producing beds that slept three .... "Lenin is always with us." It is pleasant that such jokes are outdated.

On the other hand, maybe they should start making showers for three. I say this because the translucent plastic curtain hanging around my generously-proportioned claw tub inevitably billows inward into what had seemed, before the water was turned on, to be a roomy shower. It sticks itself to my skin like the raincoat of an enormous jellyfish. It is not a cosy feeling. I am left thinking that I never shower alone, for Bernoulli is always with us.

mánudagur, mars 13, 2006


I have seen that Russian film with the opposing armies of light and darkness, the vampires, the alcoholic sad sack protagonist, all that.

I enjoyed it. The effects were interesting and original, the cinematic feel refreshingly European, the story surprisingly psychological. I was not moved beyond words, but I look forward to the sequels.

The real stunner, though, was the subtitling. It's shocking that it's taken so long for someone to do a proper subtitling job. Spectacular. A fully-integrated use of dynamic text. What has been holding this up?

sunnudagur, mars 12, 2006


Ósköp mikil rigning þessa daga. Sei sei. Og samt er maður alltaf jafn þyrstur.

föstudagur, mars 10, 2006

á deildinni

I remember years ago being introduced and thinking I might lose consciousness from the strain of trying to make myself understood in a language I had not really begun to be able to speak. I remember that he replied, and I understood what he said, but at the time I did not know what language he was speaking. It might have been either of two he spoke, but all my attention was on understanding and making myself understood, and none on noticing what sorts of words, sounds, grammar were actually in use.

Now I suppose I'll never know.

fimmtudagur, mars 09, 2006


I have recently remembered cinnabar.

I was briefly fascinated with this stuff some twenty years ago. I had just learned about the mercury-sulfur theory of metals, which seems to have been the work of the 14th-century pseudo-Geber (and not the 8th-century actual Geber or Jabir Ibn Haiyan, though modern would-be alchemists like to attribute it to the elder Geber). Cinnabar had seemed mysterious and special in light of a theory that held all metals to consist of mercury and sulfur in varying proportions. It was itself a combination of mercury and sulfur (mercury sulfide), but manifestly not a metal.

There was some very spiffy-looking symbol used for it by alchemists, long before the periodic table brought uniformity to chemical notation. It is exactly the sort of thing that is nearly impossible to look up on the internet.

þriðjudagur, mars 07, 2006


My latest fantasy (insight?) is that the huldufólk have their own hulduvefur. It must be hidden on the internet, on the same servers and wires as the usual internet, in plain sight but invisible. That is the way they generally do things. Probably the huldu-urls all start with ð, and your webcrawler automatically redirects you to the d section of our own web.

Of course, if you succeeded in getting around this and actually access the hulduvefur, you'd probably never again surf the usual web meðal mennskra manna. I feel sure that upon loading that first huldu-page, your computer would also download a fatal cookie, and you'd never be able to come back.

mánudagur, mars 06, 2006


I am getting impatient about the release of this film. The site finally has some featurettes, both of which are interesting. It is nice to see Dýrhóley, Rauðahólar, Jökulsárlón, o.sv.fr., I suppose, though they all rather upstage the action to my eyes. Perhaps they would not for someone not on a first-name basis with all of them. Put me down as mildly horrified that anyone associated with this production derived any inspiration whatever from having seen the King Arthur of a few years ago, even it only resulted in thinking that Stellan Skarsgård would make a good Hrothgar.

Be that as it may, I would like the opportunity to see the blessed thing and see just what they've done with it. My guess is that it will turn out an odd mix of epic poem and outlaw legend. That could be very interesting.

And what's this then?

föstudagur, mars 03, 2006


Seen just before lunchtime:

Young, dark-haired man in a nice suit, carrying the skull of a bull before him. He did not seem to be in a hurry.

miðvikudagur, mars 01, 2006


Just a few days ago I stepped over what I am certain was a heart. It looked to have been on the pavement since at least the night before, and most of it was gray and torn, though a few pinkish bits were still evident. I knew that it was not simply meat because the valves and great vessels were clearly visible, white and gristly. It lay in a driveway and looked to have been run over several times already. Perhaps it had been thrown in the trash, and some enterprising animal had pulled it out and carried it some little distance before being startled into giving up its prize. In any case, it was now prey chiefly to cars. As I passed I found myself thinking that it was too soon after Valentine's Day to be seeing such things left on the pavement.
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