The Universe and Me

Friday, December 30, 2005

Sun pillar Posted by Picasa

This holy slime

Another perhaps interesting weather phenomenon are sun pillars; columns of vertical light that have a divine appearance, especially the ones crossed by a horizontal bar. Sun pillars form around sunrise and sunset when tiny horizontally oriented ice crystals in high level cirroform clouds or ice-fog near the earth’s surface reflect the sunlight as they fall. The pillar will take on the colour of the sun and usually appear red or white. It’s also possible to see moon pillars.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Far away from here

Red Dwarf: Series 6 quotes:
  • I sound like some barely human grossed out slime ball. – Oh excellent, sir, it’s all coming back to you then.
  • I’m tasteless, uncouth, tone deaf, mindless, revolting, randy, blokeish, semi-literate space bum. – Oh welcome back, Mr Lister.
  • Smug mode.
  • Space weevil’s have eaten the last of the corn supply.
  • Step up to red alert. – Sir, are you absolutely sure? It does mean changing the bulb.
  • This will of course leave me splattered across deep space and unable to finish today’s laundry, for which I apologize in advance.
  • Broadcast in all known languages, including Welsh.
  • Just because I look like Herman Munster’s stunt man doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate art.
  • Psycho rating’s gotta be 4 ½ chain saws.
  • What happens if we all get killed? I’ll never hear the last of it.
  • I think we’ve all got something to bring to this discussion but I think from now on the thing you should bring is silence.
  • I’m no stranger to the land of scoff.
  • The Eatbourne Zimmer Frame Relay Team can easily outrun us.
  • He’s looking so geeky, I don’t think he could even get in a science fiction convention.
  • Smoke me a kipper, I’ll be back for breakfast.
  • I’m perfectly well aware of what you are, sir.
  • Higher than a hippie on a third day of an open air festival.
  • May I suggest the rest of this discourse is conducted by those with a brain larger than a grape.
  • Don’t you know how very rude it is to burst in on an earlier version of yourself without warning? You’ve made our day totally surreal now.
  • Pardon my paradox.
  • Were the words “kit” or “paint before assembly” written on the side?

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Gleðileg Jól

For some unknown reason this year there’s a big tizzy about the use of the word Christmas. It shouldn’t be a surprise since the names for other holidays (Easter and Halloween, especially) have suffered the same ridiculous maligning. All this nonsense made me, being half Swedish, wonder why the Swedes call this holiday Jul (and the Icelanders Jól.) Apparently, the Vikings and the Norsemen celebrated the winter solstice around December 21st. The celebration was called Iol, Iul, Jule, or Yule. Yuletide means "the sun's turning." The Swedish word for wheel is hjul, the Old Norse jól and the Icelandic hjól. So Jul or Jól was celebrated as the turning of the wheel, to identify when the wheel of the year was at its lowest point, ready to rise again. None of this explains why the Swedish and Icelandic name for the month of July is Juli. I do know that after listening to interminable Christmas songs on Icelandic radio this month, I am thoroughly sick of the jólasveinar. Oh yeah, and Happy Festivus to the rest of ya’s.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Waltzing with osbcuring sound

Since year’s end rapidly approaches, lists are being compiled on the best songs and/or albums of 2005. In looking over US lists, I might have heard of one or two artists, if not their songs. When Iceland’s Radio 2 publishes their most played song list of the year, I’ll be able to comment since most of those will be familiar. As for what I would nominate for Song of the Year, the Leaves’ “Shakma” is foremost in my mind, so I guess that would be it. Probably having nothing to do with the 1990 slasher movie of the same name about an escaped murderous baboon, the song has been described as “eight minutes of brooding majestic beauty that gets bigger and bigger as it develops, resulting in a frantic instrument-bashing wall of sound” and “jaw-dropping” and “a lingering, wide-reaching epic, drawing a beautiful soundscape, with minor to major chord changes giving the track a bittersweet feel” and with “lyrics that verbally describe the vastness of the music.” The lead singer of Leaves, Arnar Guðjónsson, says it “was like writing a symphony.” You may or may not be able to listen to the song streamed at this guy's blog. Here are the lyrics:
I'm drifting weightless far above the ground
My hands are feeling frail
I try to swim towards the soothing sound
But something slows me down.
Soon they're shining ever clear
The skyline is beautiful
The sleeping fleet is marching to the moon
The horns are blown with joy
Just passing by
Drunken starlit sky
It's a carnival in the air
And everything seems clear
The wind is waltzing with osbcuring sound
The stars are lining up
It makes me colourful and dreamy
But then I start to fall
Just passing by
Drunken starlit sky
It's a carnival in the air
And everything seems clear
It's where I feel so real
Everything seems so clear, so real
Cause when it appears to me I'm free

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

How they play and play

Thanks to Carolyn for loaning it to me, I got to watch the first season of the BBC show Extras. The series deals with the lives and encounters of background actors Andy Millman and his Scottish gal pal Maggie. He (Ricky Gervais) is more likeable than his character in The Office, but still severely lacking in social skills. She comes across as a bit daft. Together they fumble their way through life and work, perpetually sticking a foot in their mouths, then extracting it only to stick the other one in its place. Some quotes:
  • You are guaranteed an Oscar if you play a mental.
  • Sorry to interrupt you again when you’re thinking about your slaughtered loved ones.
  • I can’t – I’m doing anything else.
  • I love all the number films.
  • At the moment I’m concentrating more on background work looking out towards getting a speaking role.
  • Your heart’s not in it, is it?
  • If you do get a hair in there, he just gets it out with his big sausage fingers.
  • Why do men not dress like that nowadays? –Because they’d get beaten up on the tube.
  • That’s three years of drama school for you.
  • They’re only human. – He’s not.
  • What’s ET short for? He’s only got little legs.
  • I looked at you and thought, what a pathetic loser.
  • You might be a mental case but let’s find out.
  • She’s really lovely but she’s a wee bit mental.
  • Microphones are for wimps.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

When will I be loved?

Movie: Must Love Dogs. What tried to be a romantic comedy but instead borrowed every cliché available and ended up with a dull and slightly immature script for discussing “mature” (meaning over 40?) relationships. Which is a shame because Diane Lane and John Cusack are appealing and have performed excellently in other better written and directed movies. I didn’t think it was as horrible as many reviews stated, just nothing special. And some things confused me. Starting with Lane’s family feeling it necessary to perform an intervention because she hadn’t dated for 8 months. 8 months? Like that was a major crisis! And I couldn’t figure out what spurred these people to date at all besides hormones and an aversion to loneliness, which is what everyone is looking for in a mate (sarcasm mode here.) I may have zonked out or gone brain dead at one point because Lane’s reasons for being angry with Dermot Mulroney also escaped me. The one thought provoking question this film does ask, though, is why “mature” men want to date young girls who don’t have many cultural experiences (in this case not being able to understand Dr Zhivago.) It seems it would prove annoying as all get out, but maybe it makes men feel superior and intelligent. And that’s what’s really important. Where this movie lost major points for me was in adding Cheryl Crowe to the soundtrack. Whoever told this woman she could sing was severely deranged. Her half note off key voice is an assault to my ears! Please, someone lock the studio doors before she tries to record again!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

In a swamp down in Degobah

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?


A venerated sage with vast power and knowledge, you gently guide forces around you while serving as a champion of the light.

Judge me by my size, do you? And well you should not - for my ally is the Force. And a powerful ally it is. Life greets it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us, and binds us. Luminescent beings are we, not this crude matter! You must feel the Force around you, everywhere.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

I'm not confident about your hairstyle, Jack! Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Countdown to 24

A ten minute video preview for the upcoming Season 5 of 24 is available online. Also see screencaps from it. Can't wait, but unfortunately there's another month to go before the first episode airs. Chloe's system has been compromised and Jack's sporting a mullet! Talk about disasters!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

An honour to be nominated

One of the films nominated for the next Nordic Prize is the Icelandic Dís, based on the novel of the same name written by three friends. One of those friends, Silja Hauksdóttir, appears to be the one in charge of the group who adapted the book into a film. The film is set in Reykjavík during the summer of 2000 when a twenty something girl named Dís has taken a summer job as a receptionist at the Hótel Borg. This leads to encountering some interesting people who influence her life in different ways. Add in some clubbing, romantic entanglements with or without twins, retracted job offers, a fixation on former Icelandic president Vigdis Finnbogadóttir, the Dallas TV show, an earthquake, and some sarcasm and stir. Hauksdóttir studied philosophy at the University of Iceland which somehow led to working freelance in tv commercials, sitcoms and films. Since Dís, Hauksdóttir has directed a documentary about an Icelandic women's choir, titled The Choir. Go figure.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Miss Iceland

 Posted by Picasa

What in the world

In my diligence to keep an eye on all things Icelandic, I see that Miss Iceland won the ever-so-important Miss World 2005 competition held Friday in Sanya, China. The 21-year old Unnur Birna Vilhjálmsdóttir, a name probably unpronounceable to the non-Nordic, was born in Reykjavík but grew up in the small town of Seltjarnarnes. For the past year, she's been studying anthropology at university. Next fall she'll begin to study law and graduate with a double major. In the meantime she spent her summer working as a police officer intern at the airport. She enjoys acting, singing, dancing, snow-boarding, hiking, camping, horsemanship and playing the piano. Her favourite motto is “You are what you do” or “You are what you make.” Perhaps not coincidentally (thanks to genetics), her mother also represented Iceland in 1983. Now if only genetics could explain why I'm half Scandinavian and half Celtic (like most Icelanders), with brown hair and green eyes but never looked anything like this gal! Bummer!

Friday, December 09, 2005

Tónlist ársins nominations

Nominations for the annual Icelandic Music Awards have been announced. I'm not sure when the voting and winner announcements take place, but I'll blog about it when it happens. Here are the nominations, with my personal preferences starred (not to say that those are necessarily the best or what will win, just what I like most.)

Popp - Hljómplata ársins (Pop album of the year)
Ampop - My Delusions*
Emilíana Torrini - Fisherman's Woman
Hjálmar - Hjálmar
Ragnheiður Gröndal - After the Rain
Jónsi - Jónsi

Rokk/jaðartónlist - Hljómplata ársins (Rock/alternative album of the year)
Ég - Plata ársins
Daníel - Swallowed a Star
Kimono - Arctic Death Ship
Sigur Rós – Takk*
Trabant - Emotional

Dægurtónlist - Hljómplata ársins (Contemporary music album of the year)
Baggalútur - Pabbi þarf að vinna
Bubbi - Ást/...Í 6 skrefa fjarlægð frá paradís*
Guðrún Gunnars og Friðrik Ómar - Ég skemmti mér
Ingibjörg Þorbergs - Í sólgulu húsi
Orri Harðar - Trú

Flytjandi ársins (Performer of the year)
Dr. Spock
Sigur Rós

Lag og texti ársins (Music and lyrics)
Baggalútur - Pabbi þarf að vinna
Bubbi - Ástin mín
Sálin hans Jóns míns - Undir þínum áhrifum*
Emilíana Torrini - Sunnyroad
Ég - Eiður Smári Guðjohnsen

Söngkona ársins (Female singer of the year)
Emilíana Torrini
Hildur Vala
Ragnheiður Gröndal
Ragnhildur Gísladóttir*
Regína Ósk

Söngvari ársins (Male singer of the year)
Daníel Ágúst Haraldsson
Stefán Hilmarsson*
Jón Þór Birgisson
Jón Jósep Snæbjörnsson

Myndband ársins (Music video of the year)
Ampop - My Delusions*
Brúðarbandið - Brúðarbandsmantran
Emilíana Torrini - Sunnyroad
Ég - Plata ársins
Sigur Rós - Hoppípolla

Bjartasta vonin (Newcomer of the year)
Benni Hemm Hemm
Garðar Thór Cortes

Thursday, December 08, 2005

In the middle of a cloud

This being the 25th anniversary of Mr Lennon's murder, they've been discussing him and playing his songs this morning on Radio 2. Since I was born sometime in the 60s, he was a huge influence on my life. Because he was the intelligent one, of course he was my favourite Beatle. I was in school when I found out he'd been killed. There was a note on the bulletin board. For weeks later a lot of the guys wore black armbands. All this time later, it still seems impossible of a thing to have happened. He gave us some great music, with and without the Beatles. In alphabetical order, here are the solo songs I like best:
  • #9 dream
  • Dear Yoko
  • Gimme some truth
  • Give peace a chance
  • God
  • Happy xmas
  • How do you sleep
  • Imagine
  • Instant karma
  • Mind games
  • Nobody told me
  • Power to the people
  • Watching the wheels
  • Whatever gets you through the night
  • Woman is the nigger of the world

Monday, December 05, 2005

Surprised by Inklings

I was surprised yesterday that my niece Shannen, who’s greatly anticipating the new Narnia movie, had not heard of the Inklings, the group of C.S. Lewis’s friends and colleagues who met weekly to critique their writings and discuss current events. Begun around 1933, the meetings continued until nearly 1950, every Thursday evening at Magdalen College in Oxford. In addition to Lewis, the most famous Inkling was J.R.R. Tolkien. He and Hugo Dyson were instrumental in converting Lewis from atheism to Christianity. Reportedly Dyson held such a dislike for Lord of the Rings that when Tolkien read from his works in progress, he was heard to mutter “not another elf!” Other notables in the group were Warnie Lewis (Jack’s brother), Christopher Tolkien (son of Tolkien), R.E. Harvard (Lewis and Tolkien’s doctor, affectionately referred to as “the useless quack”), Owen Barfield (“the man who disagrees with you about everything” and appropriately went on to become a lawyer who lived to age 99), and Charles Williams, an electric personality who never stopped scribbling dark themed supernatural thrillers that no one comprehended. Williams seems to have created a wedge between the good friends Lewis and Tolkien. Lewis’s marriage to divorcee Joy Gresham and his insistence on her inclusion in the Inklings who considered her too brash (can anyone say Yoko?) also strained Lewis and Tolkien’s friendship.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Lost : What Kate Did

Lost: 2.9. While arguing over who has more faith, Locke and Eko forget to enter the numbers in time and the hatch explodes which sets off a chain reaction of explosions in the 815 other hatches on the island and the entire island explodes, killing everyone on it except for baby Aaron who’s seen in the last shot floating away in his cradle. Or, we learn that when Kate found out her obnoxious abusive creepy stepfather with horrendous taste in music was really her father, she faked a gas leak and blew up his house, with him in it. What a gal! My problem with her stated reasons for doing this, being that she wanted to kill the part of herself that was like this man, is that, first of all, since her mother was the one being abused, her mother was the one who needed to take responsibility for fixing her own life. Secondly, there’s no way killing someone is going to make you a better person, or take away the bad parts of your personality. Seeing a horse and a seemingly possessed Sawyer on the island made Kate think she was going crazy, but me and my cat think she was already “a few picnics short of a summer.” And leaving the button unattended was the height of irresponsibility. But I did appreciate her choosing the song “Walking After Midnight” as that song is often on my mind.

I also highly appreciated a shirtless Jin who just looks better every week. Thumbs up, indeed! I didn’t understand what Ana Lucia was doing. Burying something it seemed, but what? Her ego, we can hope. Michael notices the hatch has blast doors in case of an explosion. It’s video night on Crap Island so Locke shows him and Eko the not exactly Oscar worthy Dr Candle film. Michael’s full of questions, like what about the missing sections? Locke doesn’t think they’re anything important. Let’s all laugh at that one! Eko shows Locke the Bible he found in the arrow hatch. After telling him a curious and timely story of the Temple being rebuilt, he shares the contents of the Bible with Locke. Oh look, it’s the missing section of the video. Or one of the missing sections. When spliced back in, it informs us that trying to use the computer to communicate with the outside world is forbidden because it could compromise the integrity of the project (whatever the project is) and lead to another incident (whatever the incident is.)

Michael heard none of this but he did hear the computer beep a strange hello. The typist appears to be Walt but I don’t know how this show expects me to believe anything it shows me. In the meantime, Sawyer perks up. I’ll be grateful for his returned sarcasm. Eko warns Locke about the difference between coincidence and fate. But they really needed to be asking themselves who cut out the piece from the filmstrip and why? And why does Candle appear younger in the missing section? In a way, this show seems like a scavenger hunt: Find the Black Rock and retrieve the sweaty dynamite. Find the second hatch and retrieve the lost section of film. Kill a wild boar/polar bear/monster. Build a raft and try to escape. Hike across island to return to base camp, etc. Why didn’t the airbag on Kate’s side of the car inflate? I’m also still confused why the Marshall was so antagonistic towards Kate. I blinked and missed Sayid being arrested on the television at Kate’s father’s recruiting office. Best line: “This place is crazy and it’s driving me nuts” from Kate. Welcome to Fandom. Next up (January 11th??!!) Eko meets the monster.