Ultra Bra 
Saturday, 29 .April, 2006, 10:54 - English Entries, Finland, Music
Wikipedia.en: Ultra Bra

Whoever lives in Finland in these days will stumble over Ultra Bra sooner or later. "Bra" means "good" in Swedish language, so Ultra Bra is something "really good", if you talk Swedish. If you talk English then this of course might have a different meaning. Anyways "Ultra Bra" is the name of a famous Finnish band, that unfortunately does not exist anymore.

I first read about them on Wikipedia, most likely whilst I was following some links from the Finish Green Party (Vihreä Liitto), of which Anni Sinnemäki was a member of the band and wrote some of the lyrics. Later on I got to listen to most of their songs from the CDs of my girl friend.

The band – who only sang in Finish language – consisted of over a dozen members and existed from 1994 to 2001. During that time it gained huge popularity not only amongst the younger generation of Finns. I'm quite sure that you can ask nearly any Finnish person today about Ultra Bra – he or she will smile and shortly after start humming one of their songs. If you put some drinks to the conversation you can even hear the person sing for the rest of the evening. They are still famous, but never became known outside of Finland.

Ultra Bras music is hard to classify. Some songs are rock, others jazz, some sound like made by a big band and then the next track reminds you of a children song (such as "Hei hoi hauki"). It's best to not think in categories here, but to let them just be Finnish. Although most of the songs are lively, there are some that express a beautiful melancholy, giving a clue of the autumn and winter side of Finnish mentality. The female and male voices go perfectly together and carry one with them.

Whilst looking for more material on Ultra Bra on the web, I found the website of the Finnish Nook where's a subsection dedicated to the band, which includes not only lots of information and pictures, but also all Ultra Bra lyrics in Finnish and even translated to English. A wonderful resource, from which one can get an impression of the big variety of issues the band sang about.

Besides love songs and unobtrusive hymns about life in Finland, they expressed very clear political views for example in their songs "Ken Sauru-Wiwa is dead" or "When I was eight years old". They drift into surreal picutres, describe a boring day or talk about the longing to journey the world. And when they sing for example "voi uhmata hurjaa heppaa" in their song "Heppa", the sound of Finish language becomes part of the artwork.

My favourite song of them is Minä suojelen sinua kaikelta ("I'll protect you from everything"). The song grows from soft and gentle towards a crescendo that sounds like a hymn, never losing it's simplicity on the way. It is just wonderful, like the first rays of the summer sun stretching over the horizon.

I also found a video of their song "Villiviini" (Wild Wine) at YouTube. This little movie shows so many typical and good things of Finland and the feeling of living here, it is just as amazing as the whole band.

Summary:
» English Ultra Bra Pages (with translated lyrics)
» The Finnish Nook
» Ultra Bra at English Wikipedia

»
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Let's Start the Summer Season with some Finnish Literature: Johanna Sinisalo - Not Before Sunset  
Tuesday, 25 .April, 2006, 22:18 - Deutsche Einträge, Finland, Literature

Johanna Sinisalo - Ennen päivänlaskua ei If you looked at the comments of yesterdays post you will find that Lewis and I started a little project for which we hope that many of you will join as well. We chose one of the books from the Guardian list of Finnish literature and said we will both read it and afterwards write down our thoughts about it. And each of you who is interested in it is welcome as well.

The book we decided to start with is from Johanna Sinisalo:

I bought the German edition today at Stockmanns Akateeminen Kirjakauppa and they have it in all three languages on stock. Actually I did not know up till now that they have a whole table with Finish literature translated into English, German, French, Spanish and other languages. It's worth going there and looking through the books.

Whoever wants to join reading just posts a comment under this or under Lewis' entry. Let's start the Summer season with some Finnish Literature!
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All You Need: Finnish Literature, Sweet Food, a Restaurenat Guide and More Blogs  
Monday, 24 .April, 2006, 23:02 - English Entries, Finland, Literature, Online/Blogs

Today in a post at lewism, the blog about Architecture, Design, and Life in Finland, you can find a link to a reading list on Finnish Literature, that was compiled by the Guardian Unlimited. I am shocked, as I have not read one of the books out of the list. Once I started reading the Kalevala, but that was not a serious attempt. Shame on me! At least now I know what to do during the long summer evenings.

Cover - Books from Finland At the end of the article is a link to "Books from Finland", a quarterly journal written in English. It includes translated extracts from new Finnish books and general information about (modern) Finish Literature. I already bought some copies of this journal at Stockman and now finally subscribed to it – it is worth the 20 Euros per year (in Finland & Scandinavia – else it's 27 Euros) and they give you even a free copy for just subscribing. Thank you.

If you you are not only hungry for written words, but also for food, then I have two more good links for you. Look at the blog of "Axis of Ævil", for example at the posting from March 10th 2006. The blog is written by an American married to a Finn and living in Finland. It includes great recipes (for deserts) , decorated with pictures, that make me think whether I should not better learn to cook rather than to speak Finish. And besides this the blog offers a lot more information (not only about Finland) as well as beautiful photographs.

In cases like mine, where the inability to cook forces one to go to restaurants, the site "eat.fi" is of tremendous help. It really shows all restaurants and bars in Helsinki on a map that can be zoomed. Different colours indicate whether the place is currently open and every location has a link attached to it. Incredible! Thanks to arabella, who posted this link in the Flickr Helsinki group and also blogs in Helsinki.

And last but for sure not least I recommend to read "kirsty's grapes of wrath". Kirsty has an excellent taste in music and just started with blogging her adventures in UK, which seem to become a very entertaining read. Besides this she finds time to read my stuff here – what's of course an indication for a good and strong character.

Summary:
» Finnish Reading List
» Books from Finland
» Interactive Helsinki Restaurant Guide

Blogs:
» lewism
» Axis of Ævil
» Anabelle
» kirsty's grapes of wrath

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Spring arrived in Helsinki 
Sunday, 23 .April, 2006, 21:39 - English Entries, Helsinki, Photographs
Reflecting buildings in melted ice

On Friday I flew back from Bavaria (Germany) to Helsinki. That afternoon a colleague and I hang out for an hour in Greding, a city South of Nuremberg. The temperatures were at 23 degrees Celsius and I got afraid of returning to Finland and having to put on several layers of clothes again.

Seagulls at Hietaniemi Beach, Helsinki

Pah! There was no disappointment after the return – the sun was out most of Saturday and all this Sunday long. Everywhere people were roaming around, some of the runners and cyclists even left their jackets at home. The temperature went up to 11 degrees Celsius and the ice is melting, giving us back the sea.

Fisherman at Hietaniemi beach

For the first time I was at the graveyard in Hietaniemi, a wonderful place for walking. One of the statues on a grave impressed me – a naked woman reading in a book. Beautiful and daring.

Statue on a grave

» See more pictures of April in Helsinki
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Toctronic: Pure Reason Must Never Prevail (Pure Vernunft darf niemals siegen)  
Saturday, 22 .April, 2006, 21:54 - English Entries, Music

Tocotronic - Picture taken from Wikipedia Sometimes it is not easy to be 35 years old and still be blindly fascinated by rock music, unable to criticize it and even forgiving the most stupid songs by saying that they are down-to-earth and beautiful in their simplicity. Under the influence of rolling drums and roaring electric guitars the lack of poetry and content becomes sometimes irrelevant.

But then again, it is not that bad at all and during the last years even some German bands found ways to combine music and message to popular songs. One of these groups is "Tocotronic", who's around already since 1993. The first song I heard from them was "Die Welt kann mich nicht mehr verstehn" (The world cannot understand me anymore), a plain punk-rock song. Some of their songs bombastic and loud, others are of a meditative slowness. Their songs have titles like "The idea is good, but the world isn't read yet", "I want to be part of a youth movement" and "I wish I would be interested in Tennis" and most of their lyrics are suggestive, not to say surreal.

Their latest album was released in 2005 and is entitled "Pure Vernunft darf niemals siegen" (Pure reason must never prevail). The title song of this album is masterpiece, it sounds like a credo, is full of metaphors and nonetheless every line is a statement which can be unambiguously understood. I love this song, it makes me feel like in the very early 80s, when I switched my radio to the only rock channel that existed at that time and after five minutes knew that some noisy boys and girls had understood me better than I have had myself up till then.

So I sat down and translated the text – the translation is not perfect and you can blame me for every incorrectness. Read it, listen to the song, watch the video. Enjoy!

Pure reason must never prevail

Pure reason must never prevail
We urgently need new lies
Which guide us through the universe,
And which prepare us the feast of the world ,
Which enforce the delirium
And which sing us into sweet slumber,
Which warn us of blunt truth,
And which have mercy with deep pain,
Which rock us in bamboo-cradles
Pure reason must never prevail

La la la la la

Pure reason must never prevail
We urgently need new lies
Which show us the treasure of lunacy
And afterwards bow before us
Which crown us to kings
Just to secretly mock us
Which sizzle in our ears
And wish over our eyes
Which make war against those who want to help us
Pure reason must never prevail

La la la la la

Pure reason must never prevail
We urgently need new lies
Which preserve our beauty for us
But which divide us deep within ourselves
In fact which fragment us
And afterwards gently touch us
And guide us into the dark
And obey to our will
And bend us like soft fences
Pure reason must never prevail

La la la la la

We are so light that we fly
We are so light that we fly
We are so light that we fly
We are so light that we fly

» German text of this song
» Video of this song

» Tocotronic Homepage (in German)
» Tocotronic in English Wikipedia
» Tocotronic in German Wikipedia

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