From Iceland — The Most Bizarre News Stories of 2006

The Most Bizarre News Stories of 2006

Published January 12, 2007

The Most Bizarre News Stories of 2006

In an attempt to bring to light the unbearable lightness of being, we bring you the funniest, oddest and most amazing news stories from our website in 2006.

Friday, January 6, 2006
Giant Goldfish Caught Near Húsavík
A goldfish, measuring 34 cm long and weighing 850 grams, was caught just outside Húsavík early this month. According to Jón Sverrisson, a goldfish expert from Reykjavík, this may very well be the largest goldfish ever caught in Iceland. Giant plastic castle still not found.
By Paul Fontaine-Nikolov

Tuesday, January 10, 2006
300,000th Icelander Born
Iceland’s population officially reached 300,000 yesterday morning with the birth of a boy, son to Erla María Andrésdóttir and Haraldur Arnarson in Landspitali hospital. According to Vísir, Prime Minister Halldór Ásgrímsson will be visiting the baby later today. According to Statistics Iceland, there is one Icelander born every two hours, while five Icelanders die every day. In addition, about 3,700 Icelanders emigrated from Iceland in 2005, which is the highest number to leave the country in many years.
by Paul Fontaine-Nikolov

Friday, January 20, 2006
Skiing in the Dark Leads to Accidents
Grétar Þórisson, manager of the Bláfjall ski slopes, told reporters that safety conditions on the mountain were good, despite two accidents that happened on the slopes last night, one resulting in broken bones. According to Ví, Þórisson explained that both accidents happened when it had already grown dark, when accidents on the slopes are most likely to occur.
by Paul Fontaine-Nikolov

Friday, February 10, 2006
Name Committee’s New Picks
The Icelandic Name Committee has released its latest decisions on what names parents may or may not give their children. In boys names, the committee approved Bill (which would be pronounced “Bidl” in Icelandic) and Tóki while rejecting Mikhael. In girls names, Daley and Naranja were accepted, while Júdith, Apríl and Hnikarr were rejected.
by Paul Fontaine-Nikolov

Monday, February 06, 2006
Man Goes Berserk in Tanning Salon
Employees of the tanning salon Ibiza alerted police when one of their clients burst from his tanning booth naked and went berserk. According to Vísir, the man arrived with some friends and apparently fell asleep while getting a tan. When his friends attempted to wake him, the man, who was having a nightmare, sprang from the tanning bed, threw a trash can at employees, knocked over displays of merchandise and ran out the front door. Police were called to the scene and arrested the man.
by Paul Fontaine-Nikolov

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Four or five different inmates of Litla Hraun prison are believed to have made fraudulent withdrawals totalling a combined 600,000 krónur, most of which has now been recovered. The identity of the alleged culprits was discovered during the course of an investigation into the whereabouts of some funds that had gone missing from the bank account of a company in Reykjavík.

The police investigation, which is now said to be nearing completion, indicated that a series of phone calls were made from the prison by inmates who apparently had all the personal identification and PIN numbers required to access the company’s accounts. Erlendur Baldursson, a criminologist with the Department of Prison Services, told the Grapevine that such calls could have been made from literally anywhere and the fact of the suspects’ incarceration was incidental to the crime. “They all get access to a telephone at certain times. Most of them use that opportunity to talk to their family and loved ones, but if they are caught abusing telephone privileges for the purpose of committing a criminal act then that is a matter for the police,” said Baldursson. The Litla Hraun telephone system operates on a system of passwords, with each prisoner holding a unique four-digit code needed to activate the phones. Despite this, Baldursson believes it may prove difficult to ascertain exactly who made what call, as “the numbers can be traded or stolen.” Asked whether the guilty parties could expect to have their sentences extended, he replied: “That’s not for us to decide, this is a separate case from whatever they were initially convicted for. It’s the job of the courts to mete out punishment; we just enforce their judgments.”
by Paul Fontaine-Nikolov

Thursday, March 09, 2006
Icelandic Consumers Happiest with Soft Drink Companies
According to the results of a survey from IMG Gallup, Icelandic consumers are happiest with soft drink companies, and least satisfied with mobile phone companies. The survey polled about 8,500 people between the ages of 15 and 75, divided into groups of 250 per company. The survey noted an overall drop in customer satisfaction between 2004 and 2005, with 73.5% saying they were happiest with soft drink companies. Coming in second were banks, with 71.6%, followed by insurance companies, with 69.5%. Icelandic consumers were least happy with “corner shops,” with 66%; oil companies, with 64.2%; and least of all with mobile phone companies, with 61.9%
by Paul Fontaine-Nikolov

Monday, March 27, 2006
Morgunblaðið and Sunnlenska Fréttablaðið Report a Series of Paranormal Incidents
Morgunblaðið, following a lead from Sunnlenska Fréttablaðið, has revealed that the Sólvangur farm in Eyrarbakki appears to be haunted by one or more ghosts. A young woman, who moved into Sólvangur a few years ago, is quoted by both publications as saying she immediately noticed unfamiliar sounds and smells when she moved into her new home. Morgunblaðið and further quote the young woman, Sigríður Pjetursdóttir, as saying she experienced a string of paranormal incidents in the house, ranging from a mysterious broken mirror to the perplexing vehicular induced death of her dog on a nearby road. Furthermore, a young cat belonging to Pjetursdóttir was found dead alongside an adjacent highway; a place that we are told was undoubtedly impossible for the small quadruped to reach under its own locomotion. After a frightening bout with sleep paralysis, Pjetursdóttir is then said to have successfully exorcised the evil spirits from her home with the help of mediums and clairvoyants, who advised her to keep her drapes open during the day to allow sunlight into the house. According to Morgunblaðið and Sunnlenska Fréttablaðið; “These measures worked, and the poltergeist was driven away.” The longer version of the story, which was broken by, includes more detail and the caveat that while the nasty spirits have left, one or more benign entities remain. Thus we can presumably expect further updates, as the evidence continues to stack up.
by Gunnar Hrafn Jónsson

Monday, April 24, 2006
Foreign Worker Arrested after Requesting Glass of Vodka
A man was arrested at a restaurant in Selfoss late yesterday afternoon, after he refused staff’s orders to leave the premises. The man, who appeared to be intoxicated, was asked to leave after he ordered a glass of vodka at the bar and was refused service. When the man refused to leave and continued to request his drink, the police were called and they arrived shortly thereafter. After questioning the man briefly they determined that “he could not sufficiently explain himself” and took him into custody for the night. It was later discovered that the reason for the man not being able to make himself understandable was that he was a Lithuanian migrant worker and may not have expected what is a common drink order in his country to arouse such a reaction. Morgunblaðið quotes the restaurant staff as saying they took action out of concern for a group of children who were celebrating a birthday party elsewhere in the establishment.
by Gunnar Hrafn Jónsson

Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Confused Man Apprehended Outside Library
There was a large police presence outside the National University Library of Iceland yesterday, after police were called to apprehend a severely intoxicated man who was caught tampering with computer equipment. According to the police and eyewitness accounts, it was not clear if the man was attempting to steal the computer or if he was simply fumbling about with it in a confused fashion. The man absconded soon after being asked to explain his actions, but police canvassed the area and apprehended him minutes later.
by Gunnar Hrafn Jónsson

Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Iceland Faces Eurovision Expulsion
The Icelandic entry for the Eurovision Song Contest, Silvía Nótt’s Congratulations Iceland, has received an official complaint from Svante Stockselius, the executive supervisor of the contest, for foul language. The lyrics to the song make use of the word “fuck”. The use of vulgarities is strictly forbidden according to the rules of the contest and the song is considered to be in violation of at least two different rules. Iceland has been given an ultimatum, either comply with the rules or face expulsion from the contest. So far, Silvía Nótt’s only response has been through her website, where she maintains that she will “fucking say what [she] fucking wants”.
by Sveinn Birkir Björnsson

Friday, June 02, 2006
Hunters Run Afowl of the Law
The Northeastern District Court has sentenced a man to pay a fine of 20,000 ISK for illegally storing a variety of dead birds in his freezer. The published verdict notes that last September police were notified of a cache of firearms, toxic substances and explosives that was said to be readily accessible to anyone passing by. When officers arrived to investigate they discovered poisons, firearms, ammunition, two demised owls, three stiff falcons and a pair of ex-merlins. The verdict further states that two men were questioned in relation to the find, but their stories were convoluted and did not always match. According to the least confusing version police were able to write down, the man who was convicted had originally been asked to store two dead falcons for a colleague of his father’s, but his collection of fowl that had shuffled off their mortal coil continued to grow as he shot a merlin soon after. The third falcon was said to have been discovered deceased by the defendant in either 2002 or 2003, and he claimed an unidentified third man had given him an expired owl and a perished merlin around the same time. As luck would have it he then ran over an owl with his car last year, despite the fact that the bird is technically not present in the Icelandic ecosystem and only the occasional specimen winds up here by navigational error from time to time. According to the Icelandic Institute of Natural History, the birds all appeared to have kicked the bucket long ago and subsequently kept frozen for several years. One of the falcons was tagged by them soon before his demise in 1996 or 1997.
by Gunnar Hrafn Jónsson

Friday, June 16, 2006
Man Feeds Decapitated Corpses To Dog
Jóhannes Björnsson, a farmer who owns land in Flekkudalur by Meðalfellsvatn lake, has been feeding his dogs fly-ridden, raw horse flesh that has lain under the burning midday sun for days at a time. Although Chief Veterinary Officer Halldór Runólfsson told Fréttablaðið that this was “highly unusual,” Jóhannes told the Grapevine that letting one’s dogs rip at the headless and bloody carcasses of slaughtered stallions was done “practically everywhere.”

“It’s not like I’m leaving the whole thing in there to rot,” Jóhannes said. “I give them about 25% of the horse – loin, calves, that kind of thing. And it’s clean meat, taken from healthy animals. It would be like dining at a fine restaurant.” Although all would seem to be in good order, the plot thickened when the Grapevine discovered that the only other registered phone number in Flekkudalur belongs to a Pet Sematary – sorry, pet cemetery. Although they told the Grapevine they “usually don’t bury anything larger than a cat or a dog,” the Grapevine is determined to get to the bottom of this web of deceit.
by Sindri Eldon

Thursday, July 13, 2006
All Hell Breaks Loose In Keflavík
Two heavily intoxicated men embarked on a mad, destructive rampage in Keflavík last night, vandalising two cars and picking fights with a girl and a young man with glasses. The boy’s glasses were savagely destroyed when the two men punched him in the face. It is unknown what exactly caused the men’s overtly hostile behaviour to the boy, but general geekdom and/or wussdom is likely to be the cause. In any case, the two men spent the night in police custody. The Grapevine was shocked to discover that the would-be social commentators had been released. “We just let them go this morning,” Keflavík police told the Grapevine, prompting one to ponder if the streets of Keflavík will ever be safe again, or if Keflavík even still exists, and hasn’t been utterly destroyed by the time this goes into print.
by Sindri Eldon

Monday, July 17, 2006
False Alarm in Fossárdalur
The police in Árnessýsla and a large rescue team were called out at 20:00 last night after the police reported what was suspected to be a mortally wounded man lying in a rock slide beneath Háifoss waterfall. When police arrived at the scene they found no man but in fact a full-sized dummy. It is likely that the human replica was used as a prop in a movie last winter and somehow got lost and ended up floating in the river in Fossárdalur, but the police had received no reports of such an incident before. After realising that no life was in danger, all rescue operations were recalled. The Árnessýsla police could not inform Grapevine as to which film company the dummy belonged, but told us that the dummy is currently in storage at the police station and will be returned to its owners if claimed.
by Steinunn Jakobsdóttir

Monday, July 17, 2006
Company Sucks Band Into Lawsuit
Nilfisk Advance, a Denmark-based cleaning equipment manufacturer, are threatening Icelandic rock band NilFisk with a lawsuit on the grounds of copyright infringement, according to Viðskiptablaðið. The band, whose name was greenlighted by Nilfisk Advance in Iceland when the band first chose their name, dropped off a copy of their debut album at the Copenhagen office while there to play concerts, only to receive a letter from Nilfisk Advance’s lawyers, who threatened to sue if the band did not change their name and recalled all CDs and merchandise with NilFisk’s name on it. They were also commanded to close their website, In response, the band and their lawyer sent an explanation that they were on good terms with Nilfisk Advance in Iceland, and that their name technically differs from that of Nilfisk advance in that the ‘F’ in the band’s name was capitalised. Although Nilfisk Advance have not replied, and were unavailable for comment due to their executives being on vacation, Sveinn of NilFisk told the Grapevine that if Nilfisk Advance persist with the lawsuit, the band will most likely change their name to NilFizk. Also unavailable for comment were French hip-hop band Electroluxe Family and country singer Hoover, who may themselves face lawsuits if this fad continues.
by Sindri Eldon

Thursday, July 27, 2006
Nosebleed Delays Much Hyped Iceland vs. Scotland Soccer Showdown
Due to nose-related injuries incurred by former múm member Gyða Valtýsdóttir on a trampoline last night, the much hyped battle-of-the-bands soccer match between Scottish Belle & Sebastian and Iceland’s own múm has been rescheduled from this afternoon for Sunday. The soccer tradition between the bands began three years ago with a match in Japan in which, after pushing into over time, Belle & Sebastian took the Icelanders 10 to 8. While the Icelandic team hopes to make a better showing for itself this year, Gyða told the Grapevine, chance of victory seems slim considering that the team consists mainly of women, children and geeks. Apart from the members of múm and B&S, this year’s match, scheduled at a yet undisclosed location, will include Emiliana Torrini, múm member Kristín Valtýsdóttir’s twin sister Gyða and nine-year-old brother Jónas, as well as the bands’ various entourages. Daniel Bjarnason, who will be playing for the múm team, told the Grapevine that Torrini was originally scheduled to play on the Icelandic side but that they were now considering trading her over since she is half-Italian. Belle & Sebastian’s Icelandic tour begins tonight with a sold-out concert at NASA. On Saturday the band will play a sold-out concert at Bræðslan in Borgarfjörður Eystri, but reportedly hope not to tire themselves out too much before their match in Reykjavík the next morning.
by Valgerður Þóroddsdóttir

Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Improper Dynamite Dump Leads to Bomb Scare
Last Thursday, Selfoss police requested the Icelandic Coast Guard’s bomb squad to the town’s municipal waste area, following calls from a distraught employee who was left in a state of shock after two construction company workers brought (and left behind) a case containing 30 sticks of dynamite. The employee told the Grapevine that before leaving the dynamite, the construction workers explained that they had discovered it while cleaning around the office. They claimed they were unsure as to where to dispose of it, figuring the town dump the obvious choice. After confirming said explosives were indeed rogue dynamite, the bomb squad duly disposed of them. The dynamite is believed to have been around 30 years old and thus highly volatile. Selfoss police officials went on record as saying that disposing of old explosives is a serious business and those interested in doing so should consider contacting proper authorities beforehand.
by Haukur Magnússon

Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Björgólfur Officially Declared Most Successful Human Ever. Sorta
In a striking turn of events that unfolded his Saturday, an article in one of Britain’s premier money mags, The Financial Times, declared Icelandic banking tycoon Björgólfur Þór Björgólfsson the sexiest billionaire alive. Referencing his ‘big blue eyes’ and ‘pleasingly imposing Viking stature’, the magazine went on to recount his noble quest of restoring his family name after a 1986 business scandal involving his father. Björgólfsson has yet to comment on the accolades, but is surely contemplating his next moves in a diamond-studded, champagne-fuelled private jet somewhere over the Atlantic. The NYU-educated, London-living Björgólfsson made his first millions co-founding Russia’s Bravo brewery and now holds stakes in several of Iceland’s biggest companies, including national bank Landsbankinn and pharmaceutical giant Actavis. He is currently the world’s 350th richest man. Sexy, to boot.
by Haukur Magnússon

Friday, September 29, 2006
Planned Blackout Not So Black As Planned
Last night, 28 September 2006, Reykjavík experienced the world’s first [known] planned blackout. The event marked the realisation of its architect, Andri Snær Magnason’s, dream to expose urban youth to the dark night skies which have influenced culture around the world for millennia. The Reykjavík City Council agreed to turn off all the city’s streetlamps to participate in the event. Unfortunately, not all privately owned homes and businesses took part, making the event not quite so black as hoped. In an interview with the Grapevine, Magnason said, “We might look at it as a dress rehearsal.” As for the fireworks Reykjavík residents may have seen or heard last night, they were unplanned, and perhaps served only to exacerbate the problem of light pollution created by those lights that were left for the half-hour duration of the event. Magnason does not view the incomplete blackness as an indication of failure, however, stating that, “The idea has been going all over the globe in newswires… I’ve been talking to the BBC and PBS and it was in Italian papers… Lots and lots big writing follow-up.” Magnason hopes that if people enjoyed the event and would like to see it repeated, hopefully growing darker with each effort, that they will express their positive opinions to bolster his efforts to make the blackout an annual occurrence. Last night’s blackout signalled the beginning of the 3rd annual Reykjavík International Film Festival (RIFF).
by Virginia Zech

Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Snap Your Arms Say Yeah!
Akureyri’s parents and health officials have voiced their concerns in recent days, as it seems like a new fad referred to as “snapping arms” is threatening their children’s well being. In their print edition, Morgunblaðið reported that the fad found its legs this fall with Akureyri’s teenagers and has been steadily growing in popularity ever since. An interview with school nurse Katrín Friðriksdóttir reveals that the fad entails kids loosening their arm muscles before slapping their limbs out into the air, “as if slapping a wet towel,” causing their joints to make a sort of snapping sound. Harmless school fun it seems, but there appears to be a darker side to the phenomenon, as there are reports of kids as young as nine years old suffering arm injuries as a result of the activity. It can reportedly cause joints to fall out of place, as well as bruising and swelling, in the long run even causing impairments. As for how the fad got popular, no one seems to know. An unnamed young source apparently told Morgunblaðið’s reporter that “some famous guy” was the one who discovered the pleasing nature of snapping ones arms, although his identity has yet to be confirmed.
by Haukur Magnússon

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