Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Four Eyed Monsters

Go and see Four Eyed Monsters. You can watch the entire ('71.54) indie film in YouTube or at the web site of their own, but for a limited time only.

After this, the basic entertainment sh*t from the USA we get to see on TV feels even more invane than before.

This is a very clever, touching and funny film. I enjoyed it a lot this morning; not recently but more than 12 hours ago – and I'm still thinking about it!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Midsummer Paradise. "Songs of ancient wit and wisdom".

This is our place in Western Finland, Northern Satakunta. Or Mr HP's. We spent our Midsummer there, and this has already become a tradition.

Later we will go to other parts of Finland. My family has datchas in Southern part, the main one in Asikkala. We are quite busy in Summer trying to find some leasure time for all our summer places (4).

But we love to spend summer in Finland. Need to guess why?

I have just washed the dishes. And the fire is burning the food trash.

The backyard. Full of mushrooms, lingonberries and blackberries in autumn (late August – early October). Behind the forest (of Mr HP's) there are strawberry fields. Industrial ones. But nonetheless, they are beautiful, too.

And the front side. The grass has been cut... but not here.

My favourite place. A smallest hall. But cutest.

...and the same at night.


Want some good reading for summer? Try Kalevala, the most important book of ours. If you ever read it from the begining to the end, I shall reward you somehow.

(not from the beginning:)

WAINAMOINEN, ancient minstrel,
Passed his years in full contentment,
On the meadows of Wainola,
On the plains of Kalevala,
Singing ever wondrous legends,
Songs of ancient wit and wisdom,
Chanting one day, then a second,
Singing in the dusk of evening,
Singing till the dawn of morning,
Now the tales of old-time heroes,
Tales of ages long forgotten,
Now the legends of creation,
Once familiar to the children,
By our children sung no longer,
Sung in part by many heroes,
In these mournful days of evil,
Evil days our race befallen.
Far and wide the story travelled,
Far away men spread the knowledge
Of the chanting of the hero,
Of the song of Wainamoinen;
To the South were heard the echoes,
All of Northland heard the story.

Far away in dismal Northland,
Lived the singer, Youkahainen,
Lapland's young and reckless minstrel,
Once upon a time when feasting,
Dining with his friends and fellows,
Came upon his ears the story
That there lived a sweeter singer,
On the meadows of Wainola,
On the plains of Kalevala,
Better skilled in chanting legends,
Better skilled than Youkahainen,
Better than the one that taught him.

Straightway then the bard grew angry,
Envy rose within his bosom,
Envy of this Wainamoinen,
Famed to be a sweeter singer;
Hastes he angry to his mother,
To his mother, full of wisdom,
Vows that he will southward hasten,
Hie him southward and betake him
To the dwellings of Wainola,
To the cabins of the Northland,
There as bard to vie in battle,
With the famous Wainamoinen.

"Nay," replies the anxious father,
"Do not go to Kalevala."

...and then Youkahainen starts to mess things up!

Miss Funnybunny has her childrens' Kalevala literature. She even listens to it on CD.

"You have beautiful blue eyes." Learn Finnish. And do it quickly.

Want to learn Finnish in 3 minutes? Well, you should! How to order a pint, tell someone has beautiful blue eyes, and other pretty important stuff you need in this country. Including a funny Northern Finnish accent, from somewhere close to the Arctic Circle.

Get the course from here, in Helsingin Sanomat English Edition. (HS is the biggest Finnish daily.)


And, I found this, too. At the same site of HS.

You Know You Have Been In Finland Too Long, When...

* You rummage through your plastic bag collection to see which ones you should keep to take to the store and which can be sacrificed to garbage.

IStori: Why? What's wrong here? Of course I must to have my 507 plastic bags near me, all the time, and why on earth should I throw them away? I need them. Well, maybe not now, but sooner or later... And I would like to get some new ones, too.

The nasty commentator at Helsingin Sanomat:
Apparently the plastic bags - formerly free, now costing about EUR 0.10-0.15 - supplied by Finnish shopkeepers are vastly superior to those in other countries. It's probably something to do with the weight of bottles they need to be able to withstand. In bag-stretching competitions (don't laugh, the Finns have had dumber contests than that - most of these wacky competitions are all that the American media ever report about the place) they have allegedly outperformed most condoms currently on the market. In any event, sales of the small black plastic bin-bags (not the BIG ones that line dustbin/garbage cans, but the little ones for in-home use) are pretty poor, and everyone uses the plastic shopping bags as temporary storage for garbage till it gets chucked out. An alternative and less attractive theory is that Finns are too cheap to consider buying shopping bags. Take your pick.

... there were quite many of those examples on that very ugly and un-Finnish list. Or, should I say, warnings.

And I just noticed I have been here too long. ('sigh')

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Summer Highlights. Pasolini and Midnight Sun. Mukkula Writers' Union.

Cinema is identical to life, because each one of us has a virtual and invisible camera which follows us from when we're born to when we die. In reality cinema is an infinite film sequence-shot. Each individual film interrupts and rearranges this infinite sequence-shot and thus creates meaning, which is what happens to us when we die. It is only at our moment of death that our life, to that point undecipherable, ambiguous, suspended, acquires a meaning. Montage thus plays the same role in cinema as death does in life.

– Pier Paolo Pasolini

One of the highlights of every summer is over, Midnight Sun Film Festival, in Sodankylä, Lapland. 160 kilometres north from the Arctic Circle. We were there, Miss Funnybunny and Mr HP, with several friends. And met with other bloggers, like Vaiheinen and Sedis.

And my highlights there? Firstly, a very good and touching Pasolini documentary, directed and cut (in 2006!!!!!) by Giuseppe Bertolucci who was there. He and his brother Bernardo knew Pasolini personally. The documentary was like a "Making of Salò". But it was good. It showed how intelligent and – believe it or not – nice a person Pasolini was. With a good sense of humor. And kindness.

The second most important thing (for me) was the film karaoke starting between Friday and Saturday at 3 am in the big film theater tent. (This time the film was a Finnish "SF Parade", 1939. But I will spare you and NOT analyse the film now.)

The party in Porttikoski rapids (20 km from Sodankylä) was as nice as ever. The foreign guests of honour seemed to enjoy, too.

And then, on Sunday night we drove back. Took a bit more than 11 hours. These beautiful windmills are on the sea shore in Ii. (No kidding. The place is called "Ii". Pronounced: "Ee-e" – a long vowel.) While having coffee and ice cream we four adults – the passengers and co-drivers in Mr HP's car – were talking about reducing nuclear power. Windmills are cool, but in using them, Finland is doing only some minimal efforts. That's pathetic.

And finally, we are almost home! Not yet, in Central Finland, Viitasaari.

....and we did not go home, but to Lahti International Writers' Union, to Mukkula, instead. There is Miss Funnybunny in her purple Momin shirt, listening to the Closing Session. In which language, I am not sure.

And this was the beautiful view from our little Mukkula cottage, at Mukkula Camping. Behind the trees there is the Lake Vesijärvi. ( = "Waterlake". How well thought. Who ever said people in Lahti lack imagination?)

Summer in Finland is so short every warm and sunny moment is highly valued by us Finns.

And if it rains? Well, "we are not made out of sugar," as we tend to say.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Those funny Estonians. And very funny Funnybunny.

Three Balts Adrift

An Estonian, a Latvian, and a Lithuanian are in the ocean in a lifeboat. Their boat is threatened by a shark, and have little in the boat other than bottle of vodka. The situation is desperate, and they can't decide what to do.
The Lithuanian finally volunteers to throw himself overboard and distract the shark, giving the Latvian and Estonian a chance to row to safety. The Lithuanian jumps overboard, the shark eats him, and comes back for more.
Now the Latvian and the Estonian can't decide what to do.
Another day passes when finally the Latvian says, "I can't stand it! I have to do something! I'll jump overboard and show that shark who's boss." He jumps overboard and the shark eats him.
When the shark comes back for the third time, the Estonian removes a pistol from his jacket and shoots the shark dead. He lays down the gun, opens the bottle, takes a drink and says, "It's a shame there wasn't enough vodka to go around."

(The next one is my all time favourite:)

Two Estonian Presidents

Estonian President Arnold Rüütel and former President Lennart Meri are on the island of Saaremaa, standing on the banks of Lake Kaali, a lake formed by the impact of a meteorite.
"Look Arnold," says Meri, "that's where the meteorite hit."
"What a coincidence, Lennart," says Rüütel. "It landed in the exact spot where the lake is."


I found these jokes when I was looking for information on Saaremaa. We will visit the island with 35 Swedish-speaking Finns, in a month.

I just wish Miss Funnybunny will behave. She is terribly upsetting and stubborn these days. There is a lot of loud crying, and demands that would make Aristotle destroy his law of noncontradiction, should he hear her. (One cannot say of something that it is and that it is not in the same respect and at the same time.)

Except when she says "Mummy, I love you soooo much", and kisses me happily.

And then she wants to sleep in my bed.

...By the way, we'll do Sodankylä first.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Why Flee Russia. The Cold War, part II

Like I blogged yesterday evening, the Cold War is alive and well.

Quoting writer and journalist Yelena Tregubova, in the today's Independent:

He [Putin] has threatened to aim Russian missiles at targets in Europe once again, just like in the Cold War, and has warned of a nuclear arms race. It is now clear that the escalation of aggression by Kremlin is the direct result of the policy of appeasement pursued by Western leaders who, during the seven years of Putin's rule, have turned a blind eye to his lynching of the opposition, the press, NGOs and all democratic institutions in Russia.

There has been no single example in history of a dictator who, sooner or later, did not become a danger to both his close and distant neighbours.


The story as a whole in here.


Southern Finland from space. You can also see a bit of Sweden in the West, (Northern) Estonia in the South, and the Russian waters and shore in the Eastern end of the Gulf of Finland.

Monday, June 04, 2007

"Of course we are returning to those times."

The Cold War is back.

According to the Guardian, President Vladimir Putin has just said he wants to threaten Europe with nuclear missiles, if the US missile base is being set in Czechia.

Whoaa. I have been thinking about the Cold War starting again. Ever since I wrote that The Games Have Begun Again.

But this is getting so strange, and much worse. "Of course we are returning to those times", Putin had affirmed. Of course.


The Guardian, by Luke Harding

President Vladimir Putin yesterday declared that a new arms race and cold war with the west had begun and announced that Russia would retaliate against US missile defence plans in Europe by pointing its missiles at European cities.

In a hawkish speech that sets the stage for a frosty G8 summit this week, Mr Putin launched an extraordinary broadside at the west over missile defence, Kosovo and democratic standards.

Mr Putin will meet George Bush, Tony Blair and other world leaders on Wednesday in the German resort of Heiligendamm for their annual meeting. In an interview released last night he made his most strident attack yet on western power.

(The whole article here.)

Friday, June 01, 2007

Milano! With some mysterious details of gangsters and football. Back in business.

We visited Milan and tried to have a short holiday. Tried, but not quite succeded, because work is following us everywhere, and that was mainly my fault. But that's another (sad) story.

And unfortunately we had a TV in our hotel, with CNN, the MacNews. Despite Miss Funnybunny strongly objecting, I managed to watch the Lugovoy press conference. Live.

The Litvinenko case, and Berezovsky especially, reminds me of a very good gangster film Miller's Crossing, written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. When Miss F was with her granny at the hotel, I explained everything about that film to Mr HP. See below our glasses of vino bianco sprizzante - mine - and Mr HP's port.

Unfortunately I can't explain my bulletproof theory of loyalty and betrayal without spoiling the film, which on the other hand is something everyone should see at least once in a lifetime. (The best film of the Coens'.)


Should have just bought postcards? The Duomo is so magnificent it escapes photos taken by normal mortals.

I'm on the top of the wooooorrld!

For body and soul.

Leonardo watching over La Scala.

To see a greener Milan, you have to sneak into these little artistic backyards. This is near the Navigli.

Tram in a canyon. Very Milanese. See any AC Milan flags? They were everywhere. Perhaps that's why I bought an Inter Milan shirt. But I just can't publish here who's name is on my "futbolka"! Well. think about the Finals: Zizou was not an Inter Milan player, so it must be...

The Central Station. Or a little bit of it. Did you know that 320.000 people rush through it every day?

Onions, corn and poisonous mushrooms? Yum!

Galleria Vittorio Emmanuel with Prada shops and my favourite gelateria. And a very nice book store there, too!