13 March 2006

Söngvakeppni

Icelanders love a good song competition. They rank highest among most-watched events on the national TV stations, and as I learned last Friday, the enthusiasm is not restricted to only watching them.

My work has an annual "Olympics" which involve three days of crazy games, from chess and bowling to air hockey and darts. The final evening of it involves a beer drinking competition, something called tin soldiers, and the culmination of the evening, the singing competition.

There are five divisions of the company, and before the games, every division designs a t-shirt and goes into heavy training for the various sports to choose the best and the brightest. We already had a few certain competitors, like the fastest beer-drinker in the west (I couldn't understand why everyone was so complacent about our ability to win this one until I saw him do it- truly a miracle) and a great chess player, but with some of the others we had to have a preparatory selection round in February. I discovered an ability for tin soldiers (bowling over small plastic soldiers with a marble on the floor) so I ended up competing on our team.

For the song competition, the lyrics of an Icelandic Idol song were rewritten for maximum work humor (which I still don't understand fully), and then we assembled an ensemble that included people from our northern office and from here. We had a great advantage going in with an excellent supply of instruments from one guy who also owns an instrument store, and various unexpected musical talents. I also discovered why I had been asked if I could sing in my interview for the job when I was recruited as a back-up singer. Four other women completed the ensemble, along with the project manager singing lead vocals.

We practiced together only a few times last week, then went and bought some cheap, formfitting sparkly shirts for the backup singers on Friday before the evening competition. By the time the song part of the evening started, everyone had been drinking beer and eating fried jalapeno poppers so the crowd was in a rowdy mood, which all the performances capitalized on to great effect.

As would be expected, Iceland's Eurovision competitor's song featured prominently. Our candidate is a bit of an Icelandic personality, and her campy style and variety of accessory men make for easy entertainment. We got it twice on Friday, along with an "I'm too sexy for my job" sung by monks. I missed the first performance, as I was under a cloud of hairspray during it. Ours was the only one with more than one live instrument, so this combined with our fabulous choreography garnered first prize, a trophy cup that is now displayed prominently at the entrance to our office.

I had to go home before the evening got really heated up, thanks to early practice the next day, and I walked home from a shared cab back to my neighborhood to Brazilian jazz on my iPod, the gently falling snow tickling my mascara-ed eyelashes.

ship sighting: J and I went for a postprandial walk last night after our Thai dinner, down to where the four whaling ships lie idle across from the touristy whale-watching boat. The dockside one is looking almost freshly painted, and a gangplank leads straight from the wharf to the deck of the boat now. Last night it creaked ominously as we walked by it in the still night. We also passed the gold boat, still unmoved from the first time I saw it in October 2004. It's another mysterious relic of some past time- fully painted gold on every surface, it's got what looks like a garage door leading off the upper deck. There's also an antique mangle/washer thing sitting askew on one of the lower decks. I'm starting to think there's good potential for a mystery novel set among these forgotten elements of Iceland's nautical identity.

9 comments:

carmen said...

Congratulations! And...fried jalapeño poppers?!?!!?

ECS said...

yeah, poppers. It was all that kind of food because the cook was also bowling for soldiers and he needed some easy-to-serve food. There are always poppers and fried broccoli and fried shrimp at these work after-hours gigs. Oh, and tiny sausages on toothpicks.

tsduff said...

Fried poppers sounds like American fast food - Costco style. What a fun time - congrats!

Left a reply for you on my site. Have a wonderful week.

Anonymous said...

The golden boat that you mention, could it be the former coast guard vessel "Þór", last employed as a restaurant vessel.
If it is then the garage door you mentioned is the entrance to the helicopter hangar.

ECS said...

thanks Anonymous! It's always great when someone who reads actually knows stuff about all these boats. And that my boat stuff is actually being read... Do you know when it was last used as a restaurant? That's so awesome and tacky, the gold restau-boat.

Anonymous said...

Re. Þór...
It was, I think, never actually used as a restaurant. There were plans to that effect but operating permits and other similar official documents were never issued. The last plans I heard of involved towing the vessel to the Med area or Canary Islands, where it was supposed to be used as a disco/restaurant/club. But it was not deemed seaworthy and was not allowed out of the harbour. Last I heard is that the vessel was piling up harbour dues. I am not sure who owns it today or what the plans are, but the colour was supposedly to attract tourists travelling in the coastal areas of southern Europe.
Kapitan

JB said...

So, Captain M, what you're effectively saying is that a restaurant conversion was "floated" but in the end the plan just "didn't hold water"?

steffán said...

Hey ecs, don't worry: i do read your boat stuff, even though i don't really care about boats!!! but i like it when you post links to pics of those vessels. It must be amazing to see them from your comfortable place!

ECS said...

Thanks, Stéphane! I know you're a faithful boat-report reader. I didn't really care about boats tremendously before, but they're everywhere here, and I like having the theme winding through my posts, so I'm going to keep it up.