Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Empty Desperation of Modern Life

Garfield minus Garfield?

It looks a little scary. But whoever got this idea, I admit the person is a genious, and Garfield strips just got better this way.

"Who would have guessed that when you remove Garfield from the Garfield comic strips, the result is an even better comic about schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and the empty desperation of modern life? Friends, meet Jon Arbuckle. Let’s laugh and learn with him on a journey deep into the tortured mind of an isolated young everyman as he fights a losing battle against loneliness in a quiet American suburb."

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Spying geeks

Hallå, hallååååå!?

In the Geeks are sexy website (thanks, TN!) there is a headline saying World’s oldest blogger dies at 108 years old.

EDIT: This article is hilarious! The writer does not respect much the skills of senior citizens: "It’s amazing to me that someone that old was persuaded to start a blog in the first place or that she even understands how the internet works. My grandmother who is 82 doesn’t understand computers or the internet at all."

Well, if you say you understand how the internet works, I suspect you are a liar. Knowing how it works does not lead to understanding. And, you don't really have to understand the net to become a blogger, like you don't have to know how to build a computer to become a writer. (Not anymore you don't, when the civilisation has Apple computers to enjoy with. Do you remember the time when Word Perfect was used, with PC's? Oh those horrendous memories.)

But was she the oldest? Perhaps I am 109 and a little offended for being left out. You would not know, really.

So far there is no law obliging bloggers to reveal one's real indentity. Yet. Seen what's going on in Sweden? In Sweden there is now a law that instructs all telephone and Internet operators to deliver a copy of all phone and Internet communication crossing Swedish borders to the Swedish intelligence service FRA.

Please read the article titled "Sweden is listening to all internet and phone conversations" in iNorden site.

Soon I'll create fake fingerprints for myself, just for fun.

* * * * *

See The Life Of Riley to expand you understanding of the internet, oh no, sorry, of life.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Next Killer?

This time birds are not to blame, but tourists.

It's not just the nuclear armageddons or the dreadful causes of climate change I am so afraid of.

I wasn't this easily shaken earlier. Years ago I was thinking about travelling all over the world working in refugee camps and disaster zones.

After having a baby, every headline with words like "killer" makes me sick with anxiety.

The dream of travelling all over the world is changing into buying an interrail ticket with my dear little Miss Funnybunny. Needless to say, I do not wish her to see many disaster areas.

* * *

Black Swans. I'm also thinking about them right now. After telling you, with photos, how to use the Finnish Sauna properly - some light-hearted stuff in the middle of all this agony, you see - I'll be posting about Black Swans. You know what they are? A hint: Not birds.

* * *

World warned over killer flu pandemic

By Ben Russell, Political Correspondent, Independent
Monday, 21 July 2008

The world is failing to guard against the inevitable spread of a devastating flu pandemic which could kill 50 million people and wreak massive disruption around the globe, the Government has warned.

In evidence to a House of Lords committee, ministers said that early warning systems for spotting emerging diseases were "poorly co-ordinated" and lacked "vision" and "clarity". They said that more needed to be done to improve detection and surveillance for potential pandemics and called for urgent improvement in rapid-response strategies.

The Government's evidence appeared in a highly critical report from the Lords Intergovernmental Organisations Committee, which attacked the World Health Organisation (WHO) as "dysfunctional" and criticised the international response to the threat of an outbreak of disease which could sweep across the globe.

The Government said: "While there has not been a pandemic since 1968, another one is inevitable." Ministers said it would could kill between two and 50 million people worldwide and that such an outbreak would leave up to 75,000 people dead in Britain and cause "massive" disruption.

Please read the rest at the Independent site.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Be Kind Rewind & Sweding films

Who 'ya gonna call? Ghostbusters!

I did see Be Kind Rewind. It was good! Heartwarming story of how to make life more bearable. Go and see.

The genuine major theme was Sweding films. Sweding? "You take what you like and you remake something from scratch using whatever you can get your hands on."

Okay, the plot in brief. No destructive spoilers here, I promise:

New Jersey. Current time. Two guys, Mike and Jerry, seemingly looking for trouble, help in a video rental store. Suddenly a strange electromagnetic phenomenon, caused by Jerry (as excellent Jack Black as ever) and the powerplant nearby, empty all the VHS tapes. In order not to dissapoint some - unfortunately very few - customers the guys are obliged to start re-making the films that have vanished.

Those "Sweded" (see the web site) ones are only 20 minutes, but hey, they are so much better than the originals. (Who would like to watch Ghostbusters anyway? Driving Miss Daisy? Rush Hour II? The Lion King? No idea. But I'd love to see any of these Sweded.) The Sweded films, but of course, become more popular than the originals. But not at all surprisingly the guys are soon in trouble again. In BIG trouble.

To make history they must Swede the history of the beloved hero of the main character's, Fats Waller, as well as the history their own with the history of the whole neighbourhood.

* * *

"Use the weapons at hand." This is what Francis Ford Coppola said in Sodankylä, in Midnight Sun Film Festivals, 2002. Never argue saying you can't do some work of art because you lack some equipment.

See: someone has Sweded Be Kind Rewind! You will hear this lovely tune at the end of the film.

* * *

Vaiheinen was there, too. Which films you are going to have Sweded first? (Give me a camera!) My list goes like this: Apocalypse. Now. (Imagine the pyrotechniques!) Jurassic Park. La Dolce Vita. The Searchers. And ALL Empress Sissi films, but instead of the usual 20 min they can be only five minutes each. And Terminator II! (I want to do both the evil robot and Linda Hamilton.)

Mike and Jerry Sweded Last Tango In Paris. How 'bout that.

A scene in the first version of Apocalypse. Now. before it was Sweded.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

"Where are they taking us?"

Strong leaders with intellectual missions and great understanding of the future?

Thanks, M.U. for mailing me this link!

Look at the West's leaders - and be afraid

By Charles Moore, the Telegraph.

I don't lose sleep over nuclear or environmental Armageddon. It takes something much smaller to frighten me. This week, it was a photograph of the G8 leaders at their summit in Hokkaido.

IStori: But I do. I lose sleep over thinking about the big RBMK type Leningrad reactors in Sosnvyi Bor, Russia. I tend to stay awake thinking if Miss Funnybunny will ever be able to visit Amsterdam or whether it will be under water when she has reached adulthood.

Back to the Telegraph.

Charles Moore: It was not a physical thing. True, the attempt to make Silvio Berlusconi look younger has had the strange side-effect of making him look dead. True, Nicolas Sarkozy, perhaps distracted by his love for Carla Bruni, seemed quite alarming.

IStori: I tried to take a look at this family photo in the web but the quality was not good enough and the world leaders were the sice of flies. What's wrong with Berlusconi's appearance? The same surgeon Janice Dickinson and Lara Flynn Boyle are using?

Charles Moore: It was simply the thought that these people are in charge of our civilisation. Twenty years ago, the line-up included Reagan, Kohl, Mitterrand and Mrs Thatcher. Today, we have in George W. Bush a president who has literally and metaphorically used up his country's credit in the world. Angela Merkel runs Germany with decency but impotence. Mr Sarkozy is a walking dictionary definition of the word "mountebank". And then there is Mr Brown.

IStori: Why is Mrs Thatcher so respected nowadays? George W. has been just a joke for years.

Charles Moore: What do these leaders want? What do they believe? Where are they taking us? Do they understand what is happening?

IStori: Power. Having powerful friends is everything. The destruction, cultural poverty and future with even bigger problems. No.

Charles Moore: One of the essential gifts of leadership is to explain the state of the world truthfully, and then to say something about how it might be improved. In the 1980s, such leadership was provided.

IStori: Hah! See my previous post. And read the rest of this article in the Telegraph site.

Films. Afganistan, Afganistan, and Paris.

Congressman Charlie Wilson from TEXAS (!!!!!) and AK 47 in Afganistan.

We did see the Kite Runner, MR HP and I. It was quite ok. I usually like everything that has something to do with the end of the Cold War, The Soviet Union, Russia, Central Asia, 1970's and 80's... You get the idea.

This one lacked one big thing: showing the enormous guilt the main character must have been feeling. Or if he was not. I'll check out and read the book.

* * * * *

I rented two films yesterday. The first one I watched was an American political film, supposing explaining the cold war era, but it was not explaining much, neither was it artistic, peculiarly interesting or original.

Surprisingly I did not mind its strong right-wing ideology, hating both communism and the Russians in general. I forgive that now; the destruction and demolition of people and culture carried out by the Red Army in the film in Afganistan was outrageous, and you know what: in the 80's fear and hatred were as much hand in hand as today, but now the western hatred of communism has been equally wrongly changed into hatred of Islamic cultures, and with the American haters there are the racists groups in Russia, too), and it must be allowed to be filmed in documentary fiction, or how would one call that genre.

BUT. Instead of answering anything, it raised more questions (Iran-Contras? Who did train the Mujahedeen? The strong role of Pakistan that led into more trouble in 2001? The Taliban after the war?), which could have been a good sign, but in this case I think the most interesting questions were not included in the film at all, or were just small jokes in witty, well-written conversations.

And neither the manuscript not the actors were ok. (Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts! Mercy, mercy me. But luckily the CIA agent Gust Avrakotos is played by Philip Seymour Hoffman. Very good, he was!)

What a pity, since Charlie Wilson's War was based on a true story, and I could not help feeling I'd like to hear the guy himself talk about those times, the US Congress and his visits to Afganistan.

I pretty much agree with this comment in the Guardian, not read by me before this morning:

If popular art of this kind reflects what a nation has come to understand about its behaviour in the recent past, this film shows an America that has learned nothing from events, except that the principle that "My enemy's enemy is my friend" is not always a sound basis for decision-making. True, the film derives its energy and interest from America's current dilemmas in Afghanistan and Iraq, but it has, in the end, little to say, directly or obliquely, about them.

Looking back at the 1980s, what is striking is that both America and Russia thought they were struggling with each other, while what was really happening was that both states were trying and failing to cope with powerful new forces in the non-western world. Those forces were taking on the more marked ethnic and religious guises which are very familiar to us today. ...
(Pls read the rest in here, the Guardian site.)


I miss Paris. That's what I noticed again and again when watching the other rental film. But this film was not good, despite the fact the actors were very god, my favourite being Anne Parillaud.

Reading carefully the back cover texts, I was not expecting this film to be a romantic comedy. I am not at all a fan of romantic comedies. But unfortunately it turned out, at times, to be something of the sort.



But this evening: Be Kind Rewind.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


Kabul in The Kite Runner.

My Mom has come back from her summer cottage to Helsinki for a few days. The not-so-beautiful, a bit cold (unusually cold) and windy days of this, still early summer (even though this summer will soon be over...) made the Asikkala archipelago in Lake Päijänne seem boring and not very appealing week by week. So, what she really needs is to see Miss Funnybunny again! (Read IStori backwards: we have been at the Midsummer nights film festivals, in Vienna, and in Mr HP's country home. Among other places. Granny has received several postcards from Funnybunny, with confessions like "Dear Granny, I love You so. You are so dear to me. I will always love you." As an assistant of Miss Funnybunny typing the kinds of texts has been my duty.)

So this - granny visiting - means Mr HP and I get to go to the movies.

We are to see The Kite Runner this evening.

Tomorrov afternoon Mr HP and Funnybunny will leave for the Finnish countryside for a few days. Without me. I am to do some important organising here. (Organising work, home, life. Putting things in order, giving up working on stuff that will never work for me. Starting a new project.) And I am going to see some films. My list for three-four days goes:

* No Country For Old Men.
You'd better see the trailer. Javier Bardem said at the Oscar party he will eternally thank the Coen bros for that terrible hairstyle - the style helping him to win the Oscar, he thought. And that way he will never have his hair again, he swore. (Not seen the film? See the trailer, see the trailer.)

* Be Kind Rewind.
Jack Black was great in The School Of Rock. Yes, really!!!!

* Once.
I still have a soft spot for musicals. And Dublin. Ireland. (Never been there, though.)

Maybe later these, too:

* Muumi ja vaarallinen juhannus (Momin and a Dangerous Midsummer). Miss Funnybunny has already noticed this one, and she'd love to see it. (Next week, she will.) She watches Momin films at home as often as possible (read: every evening).

* Sex And The City.
But of course! LH has already promised to join me.

* Indiana Jones, the newest.
You should have seen Mr HP's face when I suggested this. He looked at me as if I had asked whether he'd like to join Bollywood dancing class: "never in my lifetime" sort of face.

I don't blame him. After the ones I listed, with enchanting, talented and personal actors I am not sure I can watch anyone as dull as Harrison Ford.

Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz do not seem to skip their workout routines.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

The Finnish Countryside

Despite of my over-booked summer schedules consisting of work, humanitarian duties, festivals, travels, parties and celebrations, I was able to get here for a longer weekend.

Clever Mr HP had a slightly longer country holiday with miss Funnybunny.

The front yard. Needs more flowers, and there's plenty behind the fence.

Miss Funnybunny's gazebo.

...and one of the five corners of it.

Sauna by the river.

Lauhanvuori national park.

Vienna Report, part I: Downtown Wien

We are the Champions! We did it again! (Last time in 1998 with a slightly different team. Slightly.)

Birthday Celebrations. Football Euro Cup 2008. The Third Man. Mauthausen (Gusen) Concentration Camp.

Those were the overall themes of our recent visit to Vienna. We were ten happy Finns, four of us children between 3, sorry, 4 and 17.

* * * * *

The Third Man, Opening narrator:
I never knew the old Vienna before the war with its Strauss music, its glamour and easy charm. Constantinople suited me better. I really got to know it in the classic period of the black market. We'd run anything if people wanted it enough and whom had the money to pay. Of course a situation like that does tempt amateurs but, well, umm, you know they can't stay the course like a professional.

Now the city is divided into four zones, you know, each occupied by a power: the American, the British, the Russian and the French. But the centre of the city that's international policed by an international patrol. One member of each of the four powers. Wonderful! What a hope they had! All strangers to the place and none of them could speak the same language. Except a sort of smattering of German.

Good fellows on the whole, did their best you know. Vienna doesn't really look any worse than a lot of other European cities. Bombed about a bit.

Oh, I was going to tell you, wait, I was going to tell you about Holly Martins, an American. Came all the way here to visit a friend of his. The name was Lime, Harry Lime. Now Martins was broke and Lime had offered him, some sort, I don't know, some sort of job.

Anyway, there he was, poor chap. Happy as a lark and without a cent.

Anna Schmidt: You know, you ought to get yourself a girl.

That's a nice girl, that. But she ought to go careful in Vienna. Everybody ought to go careful in a city like this.

A monument respecting the Austrian victims in concentration camps. Mr HP, Miss Funnybunny and I have visited Salaspils near Riga, too. (Cheerfull travellers as we are.)

Harry Lime: What did you want me to do? Be reasonable. You didn't expect me to give myself up... 'It's a far, far better thing that I do.' The old limelight. The fall of the curtain. Oh, Holly, you and I aren't heroes. The world doesn't make any heroes outside of your stories.

The Final scene on The Third Man is taking place near this spot, the Schwedenplatz.

Really cool disco in Karlsplatz, the park nearest to our place.

The dragons helped when it was too hot hot hot.

Vienna Report, part II: Funny stuff

Prater, Vienna. A surprisingly cheap pleace to enjoy afternoon, and very few people were into the same treat. Miss Funnybunny and I tested several machines and ice-crean stands.

Football Euro Cup has decorated the Ferris Wheel.

Harry Lime, in the cabin of the Ferris Wheel, Prater: Don't be so gloomy. After all it's not that awful. Like the fella says, in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love - they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock. So long, Holly.

Martins: Have you ever seen any of your victims?
Harry Lime: You know, I never feel comfortable on these sort of things. Victims? Don't be melodramatic. Look down there. Tell me. Would you really feel any pity if one of those dots stopped moving forever? If I offered you twenty thousand pounds for every dot that stopped, would you really, old man, tell me to keep my money, or would you calculate how many dots you could afford to spare? Free of income tax, old man. Free of income tax - the only way you can save money nowadays.

Our corridor. We had rented the place in the 4th floor of this beautiful building in the beginning of Favoritenstrasse.

..and next door there was this beautiful church. Outside it looked small and modest. Just a plain door in a plain old building, no special decorations. But the inside... like a treasure castle.

Vienna Report, part III: The Match. Hrvatska - Türkiye

Ernst-Happel. June 2008. Turkey-Croatia Quarter Final.

As a beautiful act of loyalty – respecting the international fraternity, and love for the whole mankind – I sang the national anthems of the both teams! Which was not that difficult since the words ran on the huge screens in karaoke style.

The Croatian cheer went Hrva-Hrva-Hrva! Hrvatska!

Vienna Report, part IV: KZ Mauthausen (Concentration Camp)

These pictures tell more than thousand words, so I comment on (some of) wthem only briefly. Please see the official pages of Gusen /Mauthausen, too. These are quite informative pages, too.

We took a train from Vienna to a small village of St. Valentin, in the district of Amstetten in Lower Austria. We had lunch in a beautiful little beergarten of a hotel near the railwaystation, and took a taxi from there to Mauthausen. The distance being too long for a stroll.

The weather was hot (for us Finns, especially): +32 C, in sunshine almost unbearable. Mr HP and I kept giving Miss Funnybunny water, but we did not complain. For the prisoners it was unbearable constantly.

The camp is on the hill in the middle of a beautiful landscape and Autsian villages. Only 20 km from Linz, and near Vienna as well. The Donau valley begins from around here.

In these barracks there are now museums and exhibitions.

"Steinbruch and Todestiege". The rocks used by Speer for the Congress Hall in Nuremberg (Nürnberg) came from here. (See
IStori post of Oct 2007.)

Between the memorial monument and the farmhouse in distance there lies the quarry, and behind it, the river Donau is flowing towards Vienna. The "Todestige", "Steps Of Death" lied up from the quarry. Many prisoners died on the steps carrying the rocks.

These look scary, don't they? But people have right to live next to a concentration camp.

Linz. Hitler's favourite town. Very industrialised nowadays. In the middle of it there was a spectacular cathedral, and we heard there is an Old Town, too, but we did not have time to visit it.