Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Ms. Hen reviews ZAZIE IN THE METRO

Raymond Queneau
Librarie Gallimard
Translated from the French by Barbara Wright

Ms. Hen read this book because she had seen the movie, and thought it was cute and zany, and wondered how the book would compare. She learned that the book was considered not able to be made into a movie, and she read the book was classified as a New Wave book, even thought it was written in 1959, before the French New Wave started.

Ms. Hen really enjoyed the movie. She thought it was similar to AMELIE, only about a little girl who wants to ride the Metro in Paris and can’t because there’s a Metro strike. She goes to visit her Uncle Gabriel, who is a cross-dressing dancer in a night club, while her mother has a love affair for the weekend. The movie is fast-paced, and the actress who plays Zazie is awkward in a charming way.

Ms. Hen didn’t like the book as much as the movie. This rarely happens with her.

The book is written is a strange way, and a very pretentious way, Ms. Hen thought. Misspelled words riddle the book! On every page, there is something similar to “Snot,” for is not, and “eggsagerated,” for exaggerated, and so on and on. Ms. Hen had to stop to try to figure out what each word was, and it slowed down her reading.

This is a very short book, but it took longer to read then Ms. Hen thought it would because it was dense with these incorrectly spelled words.

Also, there were no inner lives of the characters. Reading ZAZIE IN THE METRO is like reading a screenplay. When Ms. Hen, and most people she believes, read a novel, they want to know what in going on inside the characters’ heads. That’s the beautiful aspect of a novel, the ability to know what at least one person is thinking. There was nothing to about the inner workings of Zazie and her compatriots, and that annoyed Ms. Hen. She thinks that some readers might enjoy this, but Ms. Hen is curious hen, and she wants to know the people in the book intimately.

There are a few chickens in this novel, but that didn’t make up for how much Ms. Hen didn’t enjoy reading it. It takes more than chickens or hens for Ms. Hen to like a book.

Ms. Hen does not recommend this novel. She would suggest the movie instead, which never happens, she knows! But rare things do happen, like leprechauns, and mermaids, and the Metro in Paris getting shut down.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Ms. Hen reviews some museums in Iceland

The Icelandic Phallological Museum

Reykjavik Art Museums

National Museum of Iceland

Ms. Hen is a hen who likes museums. She enjoys the quiet and beauty of places where she can learn new things and be inspired. Before she went to Iceland, she read about the different museums that are in Reykjavik that she wanted to visit. She didn’t go to all of them, but she went to a few.

The Icelandic Phallological Museum

Ms. Hen read about this museum, and learned that it is the largest collection of penises in the world. Ms. Hen is not a perverse hen, but she loves things that are weird and freaky, so she decided she had to go. She stumbled upon the museum during her first day in Iceland while she was taking a walk in the rain looking for a coffee shop. The museum is a small room, full of jars of animal penises, which are very strange looking. There are huge whale penises sticking out of the wall, a polar bear penis, a killer what penis. There are also very small ones that are just a speck, like a house mouse penis.

This museum was full of Americans, which disturbed Ms. Hen. She thought it was because Americans are all perverts, or perhaps because there would NEVER be such a museum in the United States. Either way, Ms. Hen spent enough time there, took some pictures, and bought a shot glass. The museum is expensive, it costs about fifteen dollars, which Ms. Hen thought was too dear, but she considers it a once in a lifetime experience.

A variety of penises in jars

Reykjavik Art Museum

Ms. Hen went to two of the Reykjavik Art Museums, Kjavasstadir, and Hafnerhus. She didn’t go to all three museums because she didn’t have a car in Iceland, and it was a rainy day, and she didn’t want to walk too far. The Kjavassatir was right near where she was staying. It is a small museum with only a couple of galleries, but it was lovely. There was an exhibit of things from Ikea, which Ms. Hen thought was strange, but other exhibits of paintings and videos interested her more.

The Hafnerhus is situated near the center of town. It houses paintings from the Erro Collection, who is one of Iceland’s best-known pop artists. Ms. Hen was impressed by the breadth and color and urgency of his work. She even found a hen in one of his paintings.

Can you find the hen?

The National Museum of Iceland

Ms. Hen loves history and things that are old. It was quite an ordeal for her to get to this museum, because she had to walk a long way, but she loved it. She enjoyed looking at artifacts from the time of the Vikings to modern times. Her favorite things were the cones that the Vikings drank out of; she didn’t get a picture of them, but they were beautifully decorated horns that were used for everyday use and also for ceremonies.

She took some pictures in an area of the museum where nobody was hanging out. She liked the replica of the farmhouse where a family would live together in one room. And she thought the little boat was charming. Ms. Hen admires a culture that can hold on to the past without resentment.

Ms. Hen thinks Iceland is a perfect place to visit museums because most of the time it is raining, and it’s a good time to be inside. The outdoors are beautiful, too, and Ms. Hen can enjoy nature, but there are lots of things to enjoy in the world, like penises in jars, pop art, and Nordic history.

Outside the art museum on a sunny day

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Ms. Hen reviews the GAME OF THRONES tour in Iceland

Ms. Hen gets stabbed at The Bloody Gate

Game of Thrones Tour
Iceland, Gray Line

When Ms. Hen was planning her trip to Iceland, she noticed there was a GAME OF THRONES tour. She had tried to watch GAME OF THRONES, but she was grossed out by the misogyny in the first three episodes of the first season. But she wanted to go on the tour. She didn’t want to be someone who goes on a tour and has never watched the show, so she watched the second season in two days, since she found out that had the most scenes filmed in Iceland. She was hooked! She watched all six seasons by the beginning of March, to get ready for her adventure in Iceland.

When she got on the bus for the tour, she was startled by a man in a costume with a sword taking tickets. He was the tour guide, Theo, and he talked for the entire eight hours of the tour. He was extremely entertaining, or Ms. Hen thought so, but he had a bit of a dirty mouth, and she could understand why some people who live sheltered lives would be offended by his remarks. Ms. Hen does not live a sheltered life, and she is used to perversity, and sometimes even enjoys it in the right context.

Theo had been an extra on GAME OF THRONES for many seasons: he was in the Night’s Watch, he was a Wildling, and he was a sentry overlooking the Bloody Gate. He had lots of inside stories about GAME OF THRONES, including one about the costumes of the Night’s Watch. He said they were made of very thin material, and they were designed in South Africa. The men who were the extras in the Night’s Watch were all Icelandic, and even though they were used to the cold, they were not used to being soaked in such flimsy clothes in the rain. They were told to act like they were suffering, but they didn’t have to act, because they already were.

The first stop on the tour was the Laxness Horse Farm, where the horses from GoT lived. Icelandic horses are much smaller than other horses, and they are a pure breed. Other horses are not allowed to come to Iceland, so they had a hard time filming GoT with the actor who plays the Hound, since he is so large. The scenes with him in Iceland are shot in an awkward way, as Ms. Hen remembers. The people on the tour got to feed the horses at the farm! Ms. Hen was excited about this, since the horses were so beautiful.

The tour went to the waterfall where the scene was filmed when the dragon kills the little boy in the field, and afterwards Daenerys chains the other two dragons in the dungeon. Ms. Hen was amazed that this area passed for the Mediterranean, even though it is in Iceland. The scene was filmed in the height of summer when everything was green.

Ms. Hen and the tour got to go to the Bloody Gate, in Thingvellir National Park, an ancient site where the Vikings held their Parliament. Ms. Hen was awed by the Bloody Gate, she even climbed down into it, though she is not a very agile hen. She thought she might fall, but she didn’t. The rock formations are beautiful. Ms. Hen learned about the authenticity of the show. Theo told the group that there was a poor extra who had to carry a crate full of lemons back and forth doing the takes over and over because the producers and directors wanted the show to be authentic. They didn’t want a crate with a few lemons on top, or the little plastic lemons; they had to have a crate full of real lemons for Sansa because Littlefinger knew she liked lemon cakes and he wanted her to be happy. She might have been happy, but the extra carrying the crate was not.

Ms. Hen at The Bloody Gate

Also, there was a scene in which a rabbit was cooking on a spit, and the directors wanted a real rabbit, because if it were fake fur and plexiglass, it would burn black smoke and have an odor. Theo showed a picture of an arm, and he was wondering if someone actually donated their arm to the show, since the people wanted it to be so authentic. Ms. Hen knows that was a joke.

The group went to a Viking village where the scene when the Wildlings kill the people in their house and tell Ollie to go tell the crows that Mance Raider is coming. Theo told a disturbing story about how he had been an extra in many films, and he liked doing evil things. He said he got to play a zombie, and he thought it couldn’t get better than that, because zombies were so evil. Then he said he got to be more evil, because he played a zombie Nazi, and he was so excited because he thought that was the absolute worst character to play.

At the Viking Village

But then, in GoT, he got to murder a six-year old girl, and he decided that was the utmost evil part to play, a child murderer. He described in detail the young actress who played the little girl, and how every time he had to pretend to kill her, she did a better job acting. He said she is going to be a famous actress someday.

At the Viking village, he demonstrated different ways to stab and punch someone while filming to make it look realistic for the camera. Ms. Hen thought it was interesting, because it’s something a hen doesn’t hear every day. Also, the village was situated overlooking a waterfall, which was lovely. Iceland is full of waterfalls, almost to the point where Ms. Hen wanted to say, “Oh, no, not another waterfall!” But she couldn’t, because how could a hen say that?

Ms. Hen says, "Oh, no, not another waterfall!"

Ms. Hen thought the GAME OF THRONES tour was one of the highlights of her trip to Iceland. She would recommend the tour to anyone, especially with the exuberant madman Theo at the helm of the ship.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Ms. Hen reviews JAR CITY

Jar City
Arnaldur Indridason
2000. 2004
Translated from the Icelandic by Bernard Scudder

Ms. Hen went on a streak of reading Icelandic novels before she went to Iceland, but she wanted to save one for when she was actually in Iceland, and she decided it would be JAR CITY. She thinks this is the perfect novel to read while sitting in her Airbnb in Reykjavik, or a coffee shop, or a restaurant.

In this novel, it is autumn, and the rain is incessant. Ms. Hen liked this because it rained practically every day she was in Iceland, so she felt like it was happening. She felt as if she were in the novel with the character trying to solve a murder.

This novel is a mystery, which Ms. Hen usually does not read, because they are for the most part written badly. But this book is not; it is complicated, and has a lot of twists and turns and many colorful characters.

A man is murdered is a basement apartment, and a note is left behind which says, “I am him.” The man was smashed on the head with an ashtray. The detective Erlender searches for who murdered him and why. The victim’s past comes hurtling through: he was an accused rapist, and may have fathered children in that way. He was the carrier of a brain disease than mainly killed women.

This quest leads Erlender to a jar city, an organ collection in jars. (This reminded Ms. Hen of the penis museum she visited in Reykjavik.) Erlender is determined to find the murderer, but there are obstacles in his way. This is different from other mysteries Ms. Hen has read, because she was actually interested in what was going to happen, and there was not a formula for the novel, new fascinating characters kept being introduced.

One interesting thing to Ms. Hen was that the murder victim lived in a basement apartment in an area called Nordurmyri. She is staying in a basement apartment near this area, which Google maps tells her, but she thinks she might be staying in the area. The book says that these apartments were the former maids’ quarters when the houses were owned by wealthy people. The fact that the character lives in this area is important because it is a former marsh area, and a body could be hidden in the ground under the house.

There was one mention of a chicken in this novel, Erlendur, “called in at a takeaway and picked up a bag of fried chicken for dinner.” There are lots of Kentucky Fried Chickens in Iceland, but Ms. Hen refused to eat at them. She will only eat a decent restaurant, or not an American one. But the character does not take care of himself. He is stressed from his job and his life and eats badly and does not exercise.

Ms. Hen loved JAR CITY. She understands there is a sequel, but she does not usually read those. She enjoyed reading this novel while in Iceland because it gave her more of an understanding of the Icelandic nature, which is quiet, determined, and has a sense of humor.