Holiday Cheer

from Friday, November30th of the year2007.

Another reason to love Chinatown is that it is basically immune from the early-onslaught Christmas cheer that seems to be everywhere else. It seems so inappropriate to hear “Frosty the Snowman” in 55° weather, don’t you think?

The night before I left Iceland I went to a show by these boys called Sprengjuhöllin, whose album Valgeir just recorded & produced. One of the songs became insanely popular and was played in basically every place of retail in Reykjavík. This isn’t that song, but this is another track where Snorri, their sadder singer (they have a more upbeat one, too) sings all sad-like:

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Sprengjuhöllin Verum í Sambandi

mynd_0235537.jpgThen, on Sunday, we drove out to this town Borgarnes, to hear a two-hour recitation of one of the sagas. This funny actor Benedikt Erlingsson does the whole thing alone, with a lot of funny voices and running around this tiny loftspace with a triangular roof-shape. It was very pleasantly confusing (it was all in Icelandic). The most arresting image is the curse-pole (niðstöng), which is essentially a horse’s head stuck on a pole and pointed towards somebody you want to curse:

And when all was ready for sailing, Egil went up into the island. He took in his hand a hazel-pole, and went to a rocky eminence that looked inward to the mainland. Then he took a horse’s head and fixed it on the pole. After that, in solemn form of curse, he thus spake: ‘Here set I up a curse-pole, and this curse I turn on king Eric and queen Gunnhilda. (Here he turned the horse’s head landwards.) This curse I turn also on the guardian-spirits who dwell in this land, that they may all wander astray, nor reach or find their home till they have driven out of the land king Eric and Gunnhilda.’
This spoken, he planted the pole down in a rift of the rock, and let it stand there. The horse’s head he turned inwards to the mainland; but on the pole he cut runes, expressing the whole form of curse.

img_443ed4c2141fc.jpgHow great is that. During the show, though, dude was constantly picking on people in the audience to do something or respond to him in some way. I kept on shifting lower in my seat thinking “dontpickmedontpickmedontpickme” and fortunately, he found the one other foreigner (a Faroese!) to make fun of. It was a total relief and all the agèd Icelanders were weirdly bemused to have a Faroese there.

I heard another fun thing in Iceland which was this band Hjatalín, which amounts to funny pop music with woodwinds, which I think is a nice combination. I have somewhere in my Deepe Archÿve their newest album, which I can’t seem to find, but here is one track, as well as a link to their MæSpeis if anybody wants to investigate further.

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Hjaltalín Traffic Music

I am writing this electric violin concerto. I am making chicken stock. I am trying to convince Liz to help me install hooks on my walls so I can hang up my clothes. I am anxiously awaiting the masters of Album II (called Mothertongue). I am horrified by the republican YouTube debates! Did anybody see that? Thank god for that Gays in the Military dude. It really is an amazing thing to me that straight people would rather die than let gay people translate laurynhill.pngArabic for them. Remember that crazy urban legend a few years ago where Lauryn Hill allegedly said that she’d rather die than have white people buy her albums? This reminds me of that, but it’s not a joke. This website, by the way, is a weirdly designed but totally useful place to reference these things.

1 Comment

  • I just put hooks on my walls last month and it revolutionized my life. Do it ASAP. The only catch is that I feel a small voice inside me suggesting that life would be better if the walls had only hooks on them, and were on all of them. Which is, of course, not true.

    By the way, I think we just crossed over into the appropriate time of year for pre-Christmas cheer, didn’t we? Everyone’s still on “it’s too early” mode (myself largely included), but now it’s really not, and the weather isn’t the calendar’s fault, anyway. Still, it’s weird to be in New York yet living out that montage in Annie Hall with “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”…