Thursday, November 22, 2007

Beach, Shakespeare and Paris

Books. My favourite medium of interior design. I live and work surrounded by books.

Paris. My favourite town.

The place where I wish I were. Right now.

Sylvia Beach was an American lady, only twenty-something in 1919, when she sent from Paris her mother a message asking for money. Mummy was in the USA.

Beach wanted to found a bookshop in Paris, and start selling American (and British and Irish) literature for the French. Literature she adored, and in a stimulating, lively, vivid town she had started to see as home.

This was not her original idea: at first she had wanted to run a bookshop in NY, but the rents were much higher there, and living costs in Paris were inexpensive.

She had lived in France and Switzerland, knew the language, so the decision was not that far-fetched.

Soon Shakespeare and Company was opened on the left bank, by Rue Dupyutren. And she started having guests. Boy, did she have some visitors! James Joyce. Among her closest friends. (Beach even published Ulusseus, the first print run being 1 000 copies, but Joyce suggested 12! Luckily Beach knew better.) Ezra Pound. There, too, of course. Ernest Hemingway. Well, sure. F. Scott Fitzgerald. How to avoid him, Hemingway and Pound being there, too? Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas. The eccentric lesbians, the Dynamic Duo of the Literary Life of Paris.

And many, many others.

(Picture: Beach with Joyce.)

Shakespeare and Company is probably the most comfortable, stylish, respected, well-known and attractive bookshop in the world.

I have been even dreaming of it lately. It's because I am reading the autobiography Sylvia Beach wrote in the 1950's. It is so interesting.

I am reading in Finnish, for a change.


I am thinking about that book all the time.

And I am leaving for Warsaw tomorrow.


Well, some history of WW II and the ghetto & highly artistic Polish posters will invade my mind.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Martti's Fair: Estonia visiting Finland

Miss Funnybunny is somewhere in – sorry, on – Narva, Ida-Virumaa... Or perhaps she's not quite there yet, but around Rakvere, as it seems...

Tervist! Martti's Fair, Martin markkinat, is the annual fair representing Estonian culture, in Kaapelitehdas (Cable Factory), organised by Tuglas society. That's the main organisation in Finland garding the relationships between the Finnish and Estonian cultural bodies and people. With Mr HP and Miss Funnybunny we were able to attend Martin markkinat for the first time, as during the previous years we have always been abroad at the time. And before some time, we did not have many items of Estonian origin for sale, but that's different now.

I'm glad we were able to make it this time. It was great. Lots of nice people, some thousands, even; interesting cultural discussions – and so very good Estonian food! (Like sausages. Mr HP is loves sausages. He bought kilos of different kinds. But I am a cheese person. And yes, I bought kilos, too.)

...and there she is now, Miss Funnybunny selling artistic postcards, with her new Estonian friends!
In the meantime her mother is selling books, and chatting with Jaan Kaplinski. And with his translators and hosts. And with the Tuglas guys. And with Imbi Paju, who was quite content as her film is now in DVD distribution. Have you seen Memories Denied? Go get it at once. (I will add a link to the DVD once I find out from where it can be purchased.)

These ladies are from Setu (Setumaa), they are "setukainen" (setukaisia). Setuland is in the most Southeastern corner of Estonia. And they also sang. (I have a friend from Setu, and she sings all the time. All the time.) The Setu in Estonia are a lot like our Carelians.

Hand-made Estonian fashion with ancient flavors spicing up the greyish entity. Mmmmm I could wear that, maybe...

Teretulemas, next year again!

Saddest Surprise

Last week Helsinki was so sad and grey – like the whole Finland.

A young (18-year-old), desperate man got crazy and killed nine people including himself at school in Jokela, quite near Helsinki.

This has been an exceptionally shocking massacre for some reasons in particular: because it was a massacre, because the murderer was so young, because he had claimed to be a "fan" of the Columbine murderers (or at least accepting what they did), because he had written about his plans and published the texts in the net in advance (had even received comments), and because all this took place at school.

And because all this took so many people by surprise.

The ones in power who have been opposing funding (mental) health care of the young with public, tax-payers' money, they are really to blame here. The growing number of suffering teenagers, and even younger ones, has been discussed for decades, and yet, the situation has not improved significantly. Probably even worstened – but that is difficult to say, despite this catastrophy.

The internet does not kill anyone. The crazy and depressed people do. But the internet can still have some alienating impact in young people's minds. The lonely and the sad can get even more estrangered by accessing really violent and terrifying material.

Perhaps the key is not to leave anyone so totally alone.

But now I sincerely hope the media will stop enjoying the crisis for a while. Otherwise it will be nearly impossible for the youngsters in Jokela to continue with their lives.

Friday, November 02, 2007

The Answer is 42? The Scary Mouse.

I have always found animal testing quite scary, probably because of all the pain they cause, for the benefit of the mankind. If the mankind gains any benefit out of new mascaras or shampoos, that's another story. But the really MOST scary tests are carried out by the gene technology guys. Check this out:

The mouse that shook the world

By Steve Connor, Science Editor
The Independent, 02 November 2007

The mouse can run up to six kilometres (3.7 miles) at a speed of 20 metres per minute for five hours or more without stopping. Scientists said that this was equivalent of a man cycling at speed up an Alpine mountain without a break.
Although it eats up to 60 per cent more food than an ordinary mouse, the modified mouse does not put on weight. It also lives longer and enjoys an active sex life well into old age – being capable of breeding at three times the normal maximum age.

American scientists who created the mice – they now have a breeding colony of 500 – said that they were stunned by their abilities, especially given that the animals came about as a result of a standard genetic modification to a single metabolism gene shared with humans.


Please read the story as a whole in here.

And why would the answer be 42? If you need to ask me this, you have not read the Douglas Adams books, and that's a pity. Come on, go get them. Mice had an important role in the future – or the destruction – of the Earth.