Sky as a Kite

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When I was around 9 I painted a picture of me sitting on a mountain, watching a volcanic eruption. It only took 30 years, but I finally fulfilled that live goal.

It was amazing!


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It finally happened! After three weeks of constant earthquakes the volcano finally decided to erupt. Iceland actually does not have volcanoes in the classical sense, we have fissures, meaning you can never really predict where the actual eruption will happen. This eruption is very polite. It did not happen in Þráinsskjaldarhraun, but at Fagradalsfjall to the relief of many a foreign news anchor. It is far enough away from any man made structure to not endanger anything and because it is not under a glacier there is only little ash.
The rescue squad still had their hands full this weekend as Icelanders were hiking to the volcano en mass. You would think that Icelanders know how to behave around volcanoes and how to prepare for a 4 hour long hike in Icelandic winter, but during the last pretty eruption at Fimmvörðurháls people died of exposure trying to visit the volcano.
This eruption is similar in more ways than accessibility. Just like Fimmvörðurháls it happened in spring after a crisis, when the nation needed a distraction and the tourist industry needed a push. Just more evidence to my theory that the volcanoes are controlled by a series of levers under parliament.
Here are some predictions from the Icelandic met office what will happen next (basically anything):

- The eruption will decrease gradually and end in the coming days or weeks.
- New volcanic fissures could open at the eruption site or along the magma dike near to Mt. Fagradalsfjall.
- The likelihood of a large earthquake close to Mt. Fagradalsfjall has reduced due to the ongoing volcanic activity.
- An earthquake up to magnitude 6.5 could be triggered in the Brennisteinsfjöll volcanic system, located east of Mt. Fagradalsfjall.

The eruption side is behind the mountain range you can see from my window, so I cannot actually see it.
Posted on - Categories: Iceland

I spent the last month listening to every REM studio album in chronological order - Collapse Into Now

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We have arrived at the end. Well kind of, this is not the last REM related blog post, there are still some playlists coming up and I already decided to have a look at their first ever release, Chronic Town. Collapse Into Now was the last album REM released. And as perfect as my timing is, it was released ten years ago, in spring 2011. They disbanded in autumn 2011. But before we go into it, there is a hair issue to be addressed.

What is this hairstyle?

So every member (except for Bill Berry, who is perfect) had made unfortunate hair decisions over the years. Stipe's haircut during the Green tour (a rat tail) should have been the worst, followed by Mills's soul patch. In the end Peter Buck however decided to take the price home for worst hairstyle simply by being the most persistent. My first thought was that he had somehow upset his hairdresser, or lost a bet, but he has kept the Prince Valiant hairstyle since 2011.

Collapse Into Now
They knew this would be the last album when making it. It is reflective both in tone and music. There are songs that remind me of Automatic for the People (Oh My Heart), Reveal (UBerlin and Me, Marlon Brando, Marlon Brando And I), New Adventures in HiFi (Blue) and there is also still the "typical REM sound" they resurrected with Accelerate (Alligator_Aviator_Autopilot_Antimatter, That Someone is You, Mine Smell Like Honey). Mills's organ is back as is Buck's Mandolin and to my delight there is also an accordion on Oh My Heart (I loved the accordion on You Are The Everyting, back at Green and was always sad they did not use it more). The accordion is not played by Mills this time, but long time collaborator Scott McCaughey, who also got a writing credit on Oh My Heart. Next to their usual studio musicians, they also collaborated with a lot of outside artists, a bucket list of people they like to work with. There is Eddie Vedder and Joel Gibb belting out background vocals on It Happened Today as if their life depended on it. They pay homage to their punk influences by including Patti Smith, Lenny Kaye and Peaches, especially on Alligator_Aviator_Autopilot_Antimatter.

They use the same producer as on Accelerate, Jacknife Lee, but the sound is much broader on this album. You can hear their whole spectrum, the folk influenced mid tempo songs, the punk influence, the jangly rock. I am more forgiving to this album looking backwards, rather than forwards, considering it is their last. A full stop to an almost 30 year long career. But it also makes me sad, the album has a real "we are done, thank you for the good times" vibe . Good for them, being able to retire in dignity, before the world decides for them that their time is over. (I haven't actually spent much time checking out what they did after REM; but my guess is none of them ended up at Dancing with the Stars.)

Shout outs:
  • UBerlin and Me, Marlon Brando, Marlon Brando And I reminds me again that Reveal was a good album and I'm quite glad they embraced the direction they went in on this album again

  • Oh My Heart makes me really emotional, the song is from the point of view from someone returning home to New Orleans after Katrina, but it also resonates with me and my complicated relationship with Iceland

  • Everyday Is Yours To Win has Mills on guitar and Buck on bass.

  • Closing thoughts:
    It is a solid album, but I will never enjoy as much listening to it as it makes me sad. I think it was a good decision for them to break up when they did, everything as to end sometimes. But even a good end is an end and I am not ready to let go yet. So after the post Bill Berry playlist in the next post, I will return back to the beginning and look at Chronic Town. I'll also spend some time on Wikipedia and see what they have been up to the past 10 years.

    Picture of the week - Footprint in snow

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    The weather has been really nice, tricking me into thinking spring is coming. In order to curb my optimism I will post some pictures from an Easter trip a few years ago for the next few pictures of the week.


    Newspaper headlines this last week

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    In chronological order

    Believes magma at a depth of seven kilometers is pushing up

    This is much more likely to stop before an eruption occurs

    View new locations where eruptions could occur

    A fissure eruption on the Reykjanes peninsula will last longer than a week

    "Clearly continued activity" and the possibility of a shift a week after the big earthquake

    Sharp earthquakes are still being felt, although no eruptions are expected in the next few hours

    The eruption is still expected to begin

    Thousands more earthquakes but less likely to erupt: "Of course we can never rule out anything yet"

    If there will be an eruption the volcano will be called: Þráinsskjaldarhraun, because Icelanders hate foreign news anchors. I would propose to call it: Stríðni (tease). Either start erupting or stop the constant earthquakes!

    Somebody set up the website Er komið eldgos? (Is there an eruption yet?)
    Posted on - Categories: Iceland

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