Dillon, Reykjavik, Iceland

7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Notable Matter:  Books crammed on a makeshift shelf between wall panels. This is common here. Most bars and cafes have loads of paperbacks.

Score for Iceland. Iceland is the first country since Argentina that I would actually live in if…it weren’t so goddamn cold. I hate the cold and it is freaking burr here. Less than 24 hours in and I already own a wool reindeer beanie. Because of the weather Argentina remains at the top of my ex-pat list but Reykjavik is a must visit.

When we arrived, I thought, “shit, why would anyone live in this hellhole and why am I here?” The area around Keflavik International Airport is brown and barren. It looks like Colorado’s Western slope, something Cormac McCarthy might imagine.

After a 45 minute bus trip we got to Reykjavik, which is an awesome city. Structurally German/Dutch, culturally Parisian. The landscape reminds me a bit of Vancouver – mountains, water, city, glaciers – but it’s not as modernistic or structurally intimidating as Vancouver, which I also love.

For those of you who are looking, Iceland is a great place to mate shop. It’s not like some cultures where the women are attractive and the men are small and wimpy looking. Both genders get high marks. Luckily for Icelanders, the Vikings only raped and pillaged the most attractive. Everyone speaks English which is a major plus since I don’t even understand the letters here.

We walk up the steps to Dillon. It’s on the second floor of a building. I love second floor bars, second floor anything. I like watching people without the risk of eye contact. Three attractive Icelanders stand outside, smoking. The woman follows us in, long blonde hair pulled back into a side pony tail. Icelandic pony tails hang low, directly down the back or to the side. Pony tails are a fashion piece. When women want their hair out of their face, they swirl it into a high sitting bun rather than throwing it on top of their heads in a sloppy pony tail like us lazy Americans.

The bartendress is very enthusiastic, eager to help. Most people here are. We sell our souls ($8 a beer) for pints of Viking. We sit, stare at the bookshelf jammed between two wall panels. It seems that everywhere we go we’re surrounded by books. It’s wonderful. Some of the bookshelves are organized by author, genre or color. Others, such as this one, are a complete mess. These books are arranged like British teeth, like someone closed their eyes, threw the books at the shelf and some magical gravitational force interfered, hooking them to it by spine, cover or flap.

Two tables of men gamble. One with cards one with die. Everyone wears wool sweaters. It’s May but cold as hell. The shops have darling clothes but I imagine women wear leggings even in the summer. Females with cankles shouldn’t live in Iceland as the only body part weather allows for exposure are the legs.

A foursome of men sits next to us. They too wear knitted wool sweaters. One looks like he stepped out of a 1980s ski bum movie. His name should be Soren or Sven or something like that but I don’t think those are Icelandic names and I have no interest in talking to him. Instead, my traveling buddy and I talk about attraction; how I may want a kid so I don’t have to worry about staying in shape for nine months; and how we disappoint ourselves by worrying about disappointing other people.

I go to the WC (water closet). I like the bathrooms here. They’re androgynous as all inanimate objects and locations should be. You can learn a lot about a country based on its bathroom culture. I like Iceland.

Oh how I hate Top 10 lists. That being said, I absolutely must share the most interesting Google queries that have led people to a ThumpMe entry. Below are the Top 13 search engine terms that have driven people to ThumpMe:

1. sexy nine (this happened multiple times, likely queried by grammatically challenged, sexually depraved souls)

2. why schizophrenia people stare

3. porn links to send to people (I had several queries like this but this is my fav)

4. i really want to lose weight in 2011

5. i like married white females

6. what the hell, ill have the venison joke

7. easiest way to levite tissue (I’m assuming this is the correct page? Really want to meet this person…)

8. ivy hughes lansing pretty (I have no idea which entry this led to, but it’s obviously my favorite search combo)

9. politically correct term for dwarf (um?)

10. women get what they want

11. bee skin disease

12. luc d’abadie (what does this mean?)

13. medical marijuana prescription lansing

Puff the Magic Prophet

October 20, 2010

Mescaline is: “An alkaloid drug, C11H17NO3, obtained from mescal buttons, which produces hallucinations. Also called peyote.” (Definition provided by Urban Dictionary contributor, Adict).

This hallucinogen is obtained from cacti and special beans. I don’t know if mescaline producing cacti grow in the Middle East, but I assure you beans belonging to the Fabacae family are a prevalent food source in Middle Eastern diets and, based on his extremely bizarre visions, I’m going to guess Prophet Ezekiel fancied this particular food group.

Ezekiel learns he’s a prophet after four creatures with human-ish forms appear before him. Each of these forms has four faces — a human face, lion face, bull face and eagle face — four wings, straight legs, hooves (like a bull) and four human hands under each wing. Wheels with eyes sit next to them and there’s additional detail about subsequent wheels and fire, but it’s too confusing for me to explain. Despite Ezekiel’s descriptive efforts, I cannot imagine how these things moved or what they looked like.

I’m reading a Bible with pictures, drawings really, sometimes they’re helpful, sometimes not. This is the one place where I could really use some imagery but for some reason, the creative team behind my edition of the Bible thought it more valuable to include a drawing of a man shaking his fist in the air than the quad-faced roller derby creatures.

So, I’ve had to improvise. This is a little amateurish, but this is what I picture.

Oh, the eye wheel.

I’ve heard it’s difficult to explain hallucinations. I suppose it’s like explaining dreams, which is why I’m going leave Ezekiel’s second vision of God to the imagination.

In all seriousness, I’ve always wondered how a person becomes a prophet and, more importantly, how people believe that person is a prophet. Prophets claim to have seen God in some form or another but plenty of people claim to have seen God. They see his image in toast, concrete and candy bars. Others claim God reveals himself through substance induced hallucinations. One guy founded an entire religion based on four golden plates allegedly bestowed upon him by God’s angels. Another man convinced 39 people to kill themselves because, after a near death experience, it became apparent to him that he was one of the two witnesses in the Book of Revelations.

Who gets to decide what is a hallucination; an idol; a dream; a message from God; or a joke? What, really, is the difference between someone who sees a four-faced, four-handed creature and someone who sees Jesus toast? Talking stuffed animals? Golden plates?

I find this all very confusing but make no mistake, prophets lead horrible lives. Forecasting death, cannibalism, fire and starvation is an intense, thankless job. Poor Jeremiah nearly lost his mind. Ezekiel, was much more matter of fact in his role as bearer of bad news. I don’t think he was insensitive, I just think he had a little something-something to get him through the night.

Make no mistake, if God ever reveals himself to me, forcing me into a life of prophesying, my food pyramid will consist entirely of mescaline…or beans.

Stopping Point: The Book of Ezekiel 25-48

Dusting Off the Pew

August 9, 2010

I’m bored as a boot with this whole Bible project and continually find myself fighting thinkos.

I’m a total dork for trying to wend these cool words into old fogie syntax, but I’m about 99 percent sure no young person will ever read Thumpme. I’m not cool and have no idea how to relate to the new generation of the eternally oppressed. This disconnect, more or less, is how I’m starting to feel about the Bible.

My interest in the Bible is waning for a couple of reasons. One, I’m reading too much too fast. It’s like eating an entire pizza in five minutes — difficult. Two, I’m definitely 21C so when valuable life lessons are few and far between, they pass through my eyes and tumble out of my ears.

I have a “youth leaving church” Google Alert, which leads me to various blogs, articles, etc. about kids avoiding and/or leaving the church as related to steepled religion. I never left the church so I can’t relate there, but I don’t see myself sitting pew side anytime soon either. According to my Google Alert research, these are the most common reasons we younger (being generous here) people avoid or leave “the church.”

1. Faith without religion, a preference for spiritual connection outside of structure.

2. High schools teach evolution. (This article suggests these teachings single out Christians. I’m not sure about this, but it’s a nice segue to No. 3).

3. Extremism. Squeaky wheels are not only irritating, they attract attention.

4. Too restrictive.

5. This trend doesn’t really exist. Teenagers are just fearful of sharing their faith.

6. Teenagers are sinners. (I can’t even validate this with a link because I feel so sorry for the author).

7. They’re Bored Again Christians.

When I was a teenager I went to a “new age” youth church for a few weeks. This church, like many of today’s churches, banked on technology and grungy looking musicians to pull us in. Obviously it didn’t work and as far as I can tell these “relation” efforts continue to fail.

Teenagers are tricky. Not only do you have to speak to them in the right language, you have speak correctly or you’re screwed. Example. My ninth grade history teacher tried to identify with us through language and candy, which was cool. However, when he dolled out Jolly Ranchers to award correct answers, he enthusiastically tossed us “jollies,” an obvious miss and endless form of entertainment.

The one religion-based site I’ve come across that speaks to youth without preaching or posing (do kids still use that word?) is stuffchristianslike.net. Written by Atlanta-based “preacher’s kid/copywriter” Jonathan Acuff, the writing is spot on and is the only reason I put something together today. Well, that and this damn commitment.

Among other things, he uses the word “epic” — though this is losing its stronghold among the verbally advent-garde, for many it’s still the new awesome — he also relates this muddy historical stuff to pop culture. In the latest post, he cites TMZ and relates Mel Gibson’s rant to Solomon.

Here’s an excerpt from “Quietly distancing ourselves from Mel Gibson”:

Every day that he’s in heaven, Solomon better literally thank God that TMZ and paparazzi didn’t exist when he was doing his nonsense.

I know some horrible Mel Gibson audiotapes were recently released, but can you imagine the audio from Solomon?

“Hey, I’m thinking about marrying 10 more wives. Probably going to get some of those ladies that are into child sacrifice and establish some high places where we can tape some epic episodes of ‘Girls Gone Wild.’”

I’m not sure which came first — stuffwhitepeoplelike.com or stuffchristianslike.net — but both make social commentary palatable for younger audiences. I may not be young, but when it comes to the Bible I’m a complete novice and very much appreciate these thoughtful, funny, relative links.

I need a little more humor because right now I’m reading desert text. Stuffchristianslike.net and this site, which was suggested by a reader, are about the only things keeping me going. So if you have some suggestions for jazzing up this lengthy history, please send me an email or leave a comment.

I’m waiting for Jesus. He’s younger and hopefully more entertaining.

Stopping Point: Second Book of Chronicles, Part 2

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