things that make the news in iceland

Sometimes the things considered newsworthy in Iceland really make you wonder. Every day, there seems to be an abundance of “news,” at times puzzling, at times hilarious. I absorb as much of this news as I can, since it is, after all, a great way for me to practice reading Icelandic and build my vocabulary. Because I fancy myself a generous person, I’ve decided to regularly write a summary of “things that make the news in Iceland” for your reading pleasure. After all, it’s important to be well-informed when it comes to matters of critical importance.

Without further ado, I present to you the first edition:

25 August 2015

María Birta á leiðinni til Dr. Phil / Icelander headed to Dr. Phil show

Screenshot 2015-09-07 18.01.48

Okay, so an Icelander, one person in a nation of 330,000, is going to appear as a guest on the Dr. Phil show. I suppose that could be considered news. But that is not what this article is about. The Icelander in question, María Birta, is going to the Dr. Phil show – as an audience member. She is going to attend a taping. In other words, she’s going to do what any other human being on earth with Internet access and proximity to LA can do simply by calling or emailing the show.

María’s husband Elli, knowing she is obsessed with Dr. Phil, surprised her by getting tickets for the taping. It would be nice to think that it’s this kind gesture that is newsworthy, but my more cynical side wonders if the “news” in question is simply that an Icelander is somehow (very, very loosely) associated with an international celebrity.

The article identifies María’s husband Elli as a former member of the band Steel Lord and states that today the couple runs a store called MONO.

I think this speaks to something I’ve observed over and over again, a desire to place every single Icelander, to identify him and show how he fits into the big (well, actually quite small) picture. If the person reading this article doesn’t know María and Elli, he or she will know someone who does. That whole “six degrees of separation” thing? In Iceland, we can reduce it to about two degrees. There’s an obsession with knowing everything about everyone, and it creates this notion that even the most commonplace happening is big news or a huge achievement.

It should be noted that comments about this story were split between people wondering how this is newsworthy and people fiercely defending the glory of Dr. Phil. It made for some interesting reading.

7 September 2015

Hrefna Rósa pantaði pítsu óvart frá Greifanum heim til sín í miðborg Reykjavíkur / Woman accidentally orders pizza for home delivery from city 380 km away

Today’s gripping news was that a woman who lives in 101 Reykjavík (downtown) ordered a pizza for home delivery from a new pizza place. The twist? She didn’t realize the restaurant is in Akureyri, 380 km away.

Nútíminn
Nútíminn

Here’s a quick translation of the article:

Hrefna Rósa Sætran, cook and restaurant owner, shared a rather amusing story on Facebook about the mistake she made when ordering pizza a few days ago.

Hrefna Rósa had seen a photo that the actress Saga Garðarsdóttir shared on Facebook. Saga, who lives in Akureyri, wrote in the caption that she had downloaded the restaurant’s app and ordered a pizza with bacon and eggs.

“I was all, ‘Cool! New pizza place! Got the app, ordered a pizza and the kids and I waited excitedly.'”

Hrefna continued, “So around 6.00, a full hour after I ordered, the phone rings. The pizza guy says, ‘Hey, so, we don’t deliver to Fossagata.’ I’m all, ‘What do you mean? Fossagata is downtown!’ The guy says, ‘Yeah, exactly, and we’re in Akureyri.'”

Yes, people. This is news.

Here’s the thing. “News” like this probably becomes “news” because some journalist happens to be Facebook friends with María, Hrefna, or whoever happens to share a weird story on his or her Facebook wall today. I know the practice of mining Facebook for “news” stories is hardly a uniquely Icelandic occurrence, but the prevalence of it is getting a bit alarming.

When my language skills were weaker, I would read headlines like these and assume I must have misunderstood something. But now I know that such stories are to be expected. I anticipate them with glee, actually.

7 September 2015

Engin alvarleg mál á borð lögreglu á Ljósanótt

Here’s a bónus story: “Police face no serious problems at Ljósanótt festival.”

Ljósanótt is an annual festival in Keflavík. After this year’s event, the local police shared that everything went swimmingly and there were no serious matters to speak of. In other words, the story here is essentially that nothing happened.

Well, that’s the first roundup of non-news from Iceland. Until next time, curious readers.

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