Top of the World

Wednesday, July 14, 2004 (Part II)
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I know it’s going to be a crazy adventure. And a TON of work. My first day here I was up for 30.5 hours (a new personal record!). After my grueling plane ride I got two hours of sleep before I was driven to the studio, given a quick tour by Creative Consultant Mark Valenti, and plopped in front of a video monitor where I watched every episode of LAZYTOWN that had been produced to date. If you’ve seen the show you can imagine what kind of a sensory overload that was.

The studio is the type of creative madhouse those of you familiar with that sort of environment might imagine, but for various reasons it’s even more so. The place embodies the spirit of country, where the capricious climate has given birth to the phrase, “If you don’t like the weather in Iceland, wait five minutes and it will change.” The production is driven by a mercurial genius named Magnus Scheving, and he is, as far as I can tell, the personification of this unpredictable island. Magnus is such an incredible character that I’ll have to devote a separate entry just to describe his dynamic persona, and even then, words won’t do the man justice. He’s one of the most energetic and amusing fellows I’ve ever met, and sharp as a damn whip.

I can’t talk about Magnus without mentioning his co-star: Stefan Karl, who plays Robbie Rotten in the show. For those of you who know what I’m talking about, Stefan is the Icelandic version of Rob Paulsen. For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, that means that he’s a very funny, very shmoozy, very ambitious actor. We get along famously. More on him later.

The final member of the live action cast is Julianna Rose Mauriello, a remarkable thirteen year-old who is absolutely incandescent on the screen. She’s a triple threat (singing, dancing and acting), and she’s also smarter than the average kid her age. Her mother, Kahlua O’Callahan, promises to be a breath of straightforward American air during future late night bull sessions. I look forward to them in smoky dark clubs with endless coffees.

I’ve met a lot of people in a (very long) day, and I’ve barely scratched the surface of my experience. A good writer leaves his audience wanting more, though, so I’m going to sign off for now. Tomorrow morning I’m going to take a walk and see what kind of place I’ve landed in. One more image follows, just to amuse and clarify the “Land of the Midnight Sun” concept. The picture below was taken at midnight, outside of the flat where I’m crashing.

One final, disconcerting thing: as I’m falling asleep tonight I keep hearing the voices of women, speaking fragments of trivial sentences in English, clear as a bell and right in my ear. When I wake with a start they stop. Is the place I’m staying haunted, or are the walls just thin?

Good night to all
Ken Pontac, Iceland