A wrecked plane and Iceland’s Vik by the Sea

Because we’re crazy, Jamie and I didn’t find a place to sleep around 11 p.m., when we left Seljavallalaug, our hidden mountain pool. Instead we drove another half hour, headed, we thought, to the seaside village of Vik.

But before we reached Vik, we were sidetracked by a sign for the beach and a row of parked cars. Eager to see the black sand, we parked and started walking, following the signs.

The landscape was barren and rocky, with odd, looming natural pyramid formations. It felt sci-fi and sacred. We were cold and under-dressed, but we thought the ocean was five minutes away.

Half an hour later, we were still walking. Now we were hungry, exhausted, grumpy and thirsty. We’d been up since 7 a.m. We’d done a million things. Jamie’s bum knee hurt. My camera weighed a ton.

After what was probably another 15 minutes (it felt like another hour), we saw came to a random abandoned truck, and then, about 5 minutes later, abandoned plane wreckage.

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South Iceland: waterfalls and a hidden geo-thermal pool

We finished Steam Valley in early afternoon and on our way to Vik, hit up some of Iceland’s most famous waterfalls. These sites were touristy but not so crowded that they weren’t enjoyable— at least, not in spring.

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Just off of Ring Road, Seljalandsfoss is 213 feet tall and sounds like the apocalypse. In spring and summer, you can walk a slippery path behind the falls and bask in rainbow-filtered spray.

Gljufurarfoss is a short walk from Seljalandsfoss. At 131 feet it’s smaller, but it may be my favorite Icelandic waterfall. I’d recommend first (carefully!) the small, steep path that takes you through a crevice, about 60 feet up. There’s a rickety wooden ladder that you can climb to lean against a rock lip, close enough to feel the spray from the falls. From there you can peer down into the hidden rock pool below. (No wonder Icelanders believe in fairies.)

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Iceland in Spring: Reykjavik and Reykjadalur

A kooky/brilliant/wonderful friend and I drove all around Iceland in late May, sleeping in hostels and abandoned churches and our car, and I meant to post about it forever ago, but the journal I kept while we were there got lost in my most recent move. I was so sad about that, I never posted.

I’m trying to stiff-upper-lip it and post now, although details are going to be a bit murkier without the journal. First off, absolutely go to Iceland in May. It’s cool but not cold, damp but not rainy, most touristy stuff is already opened, crowds are nothing like they will be during the summer and hotels and rental cars are (slightly) cheaper. Bonus — it stays light till about midnight, which means you get extra time for sightseeing.

We found a great deal on tickets (just over $200, round trip) on WOW airlines (beware the added baggage costs), but they only fly out of a few cities. So our road trip through Iceland started with a road trip up the United States east coast.

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Moving Day

After seven years, I’m retiring this trusty WordPress site. Come visit me at MY NEW DIGS!! 

UPDATE: I may continue blogging here and simply use my new site as a portfolio, since I’ve had more luck with SEO here at WordPress. For awhile, I may simply blog at both places.

There are photos, and the site is more focused on my professional clips. I’ll still be blogging, hopefully more frequently than I’ve blogged here. But don’t hold it against me if I can’t keep up? Life moves fast, eh. Hasta la vista, WordPress. Thanks for the ride…

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Girlpool and That Dog

The first thing I notice about Cleo Tucker is that she has the same haircut and general style as my sixth grade best friend, back in Ridgeland, Mississippi in 1993. Cropped short, plastered in front, frizzed in back, that cut reaped ridicule on my friend and her dumpy, too short overalls and harem pants didn’t do much for her awkwardly pubescent proportions. The difference is that my friend was actually trying to attract boys, a little, and mostly trying to evade “mean girls,” and this look represented her idea of trendy coupled with her attempts at blow-drying kinky curls straight and her extremely limited knowledge of styling products.

If we’d been seven years older and living in Olympia, my friend would’ve been a total babe.

Cleo Tucker is a total babe, as is her bandmate Harmony Tividad, and they don’t care if you think so. (In fact, if Instagram can be trusted, it seems Cleo has worn the same grubby thermal shirt and baggy overalls nearly every night of this tour.)

Girlpool is Brooklyn-based by way of Philly, with a heady dash of La-la land childhood, offset by La-la land’s all-ages scene. (They met at DIY space, The Smell.) The duo is punky, folky, minimalist and sex-positive, with songs examining hook-up culture, their own privilege,  gender and friendships. And these songs started making traction a couple of years ago, when they were still in high school.

The lyrics are clever, poetic and intense, but the delivery (Cleo on guitar, Harmony on bass) lightens things up. It’s simple, raw and twee, with gorgeous bursts of short-lived distortion.

Seeing them play almost feels like crashing a band practice or maybe even a slumber party. Or actually, not even crashing — seeing them play makes you feel like an invited guest. These girls clearly love and enjoy each other, and their intimacy envelopes the audience. Often their vocals are harmonies, two distinct voices blending into one. On instrumental breaks, they face each other, grinning, Cleo rocking back and forth slightly manically, Harmony swaying side to side. Sometimes they let us in on the joke, like when Cleo spent half a second b-boxing, sending Harmony into a giggle fit. (In interviews, Cleo has mentioned a childhood obsession with hip-hop, marked by sagging her pants, tucking her ponytail under a hat and free-styling.)

Watching Cleo (because from where I stood, I could barely see Harmony) made me think, this is what Angela Chase would’ve been like if she’d played in a band, all scrunch-faced and silly and sensual, crowding the mic, nearly biting it, teasing it with her lips.

They seem self-possessed, older than they are — Harmony especially, who introduces herself with a firm handshake. But they also seem exactly their age, excited and curious, occupied with the now, but in a really productive rather than destructive way. We left the show buzzing and hopeful and excited about life. They make you wish you could be their friend.

And for some reason, they made me want to go home and watch these videos, because when I was their age, these are the girls (and guy) I was rocking out to.

Hipster bands cover classic rock (sort of)

How am I just discovering the AV Club’s six-year-old undercover Youtube series?

Here’s your top 10 cheat sheet (i.e. a roster of current crushes). You’re welcome.

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The Invisible Teardrops, Never Mind the Sandra Bullocks

Here are some pics from when I saw my friends Katie Kat and Jamie’s band, The Invisible Teardrops, play at my old stomping grounds, The Princess Theater, in Columbus, Mississippi.

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Ming Donkey’s newest band with the Hartle Road boys, Never Mind the Sandra Bullocks, also put in an appearance.

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Meanwhile, this was happening at the same time in the next room…