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

» Add this post to your del.icio.us links


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Confessions of a book addict 
Monday, 10 .April, 2006, 11:38 - English Entries, Literature

books Yesterday I re-arranged the better part of my books. Not all of them, only the novels. Most of the novels. Since months they were trying to conquer my little apartment, piling in every corner, hiding when I was looking for one of them. Books are cruel when you don't find them. Or when they are not strong enough to keep you reading. Then they end up somewhere in the kitchen or fall from the bedside table and wait for further attention. Most of them start closer relationships with dust, which is also very attracted to books.

I only read novels, nothing else. Since two decades I try to read books about science, biographies, psychological and philosophical literature. It never really works for me. I read the biography of Richard Feynman and "Fermat's Last Theorem" and that should be enough non-fiction for a lifetime. This nevertheless does not stop me from buying more non-fiction books. I look into them every now and then, spend some time inside them, but never really read them from cover-to-cover. One of my latest acquisition is "Die Rückkehr der Geschichte" ("The return of history") by former German foreign minister Joschka Fischer. I started reading it. It was very interesting. In the middle of the second chapter I stopped and now it leans against a half-read Willy Brandt biography and smooches with dust.

There are also many novels that I own but did not read – yet. They just keep coming in and start living with me. They tell me that they are very interesting and worth spending money and time on them. Once they are bought, they are a part of me. It seems impossible to get rid of them. I know I am an addict - but books are not my only addiction and I cannot care for every weakness that I have, so let's don't get into an argument whether it makes sense to buy something that is only used to bind dust.

Believe me, I tried to free myself from the addiction. At least once every week I have this vision of a free life, in which I only own a bed, two chairs, a table and a laptop. Books I would lend from the library, as every sound person does. It is a wonderful thought, I always feel light and happy when I think it.

books During the last weeks I found out about BookCrossers, a group of people who intentionally lose their books. They register them beforehand in the internet, where they get a registration number that they write into the book together with a note that the person, who finds it, should go to the webpage and type the number in. That way the journey of a book can be followed. This sounded like the end of my addiction: I would lose all my books. I would take the best ones first, register them and share them one by one with the entire world.

Of course that dream was over when I stood in front of my shelf. First I took out "Post Office" and even before I had typed it's ISBN into the BookCrossers webpage I felt a scalpel sliding along the inside of my stomach. I was about to cut off an essential part of my body. Maybe I should start with a book which I have read several years ago, not one that I just finished. "Post Office" went on a pile again and I took out "The Music of Chance" – but no, not this one. Maybe a German book? Who wants to find a German book in Finland – it makes no sense to lose it here. Keep it, Georg, keep it! Even those that I had not read, that I never intend to read in the future, I could not decide to lose.

Yesterday I took a long look into the abyss of my character. Afterwards I gave in and decided to keep them all and to re-arranged at least the novels. Most of the novels. They went on several piles on my desk. German literature. Poetry. Crime. English and American writers. French authors. Finish stuff. The piles grew fast. I dragged the victims of my inattention out from every corner of the 42 square meter flat, blew the dust from them and put them on top of their pile. That was the easy part.

My shelf has four boards for fiction books, not counting in the crime and SF-stuff. Four boards of what some people might call "real literature". That is not enough, naturally. Some years ago I started to put there two rows of books on each board. This saves a lot of space and has many disadvantages. The books in the rear row are not visible, which makes it impossible to sort the books alphabetically by author, because either "Auster, Paul" or "Wolf, Christa" will end up in the back row, but to both of them immediate access is needed from time to time.

The moment I started to sort the piles into the shelf, the books began to quarrel. Hesse demanded the front row, as well as Sophocles and Frisch. Brautigan put out his elbows and had a longer fight with Coupland. I threatened them that I will lose them all via BookCrossers, but they did not take me serious anymore. "Put the old farts in the back" Kerouac said, which caused a heavier bi-lingual edition of "the Tempest" to throw itself in a suicidal act of revenge on top of "On the Road". They both survived.

It took me a while to gain back my authority. Putting "Illuminatus" next to "Animal Farm" into the back row was close to losing them. They looked at me with their paperback spines, implying that I would not love them anymore and I apologized woefully until Arthur Miller covered them from the front. It was not easy.

books The crime books were not that complicated to handle, as they all fit in the front of the philosophy books, that since long gave up to complain about their back row existance. Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler took their established positions and seem to do well with each other, whilst Sartre and Camus go on discussing existentialism in the background.

After that I was exhausted. In an unbelievable effort of strength I switched on the vacuum cleaner, which sucked in all the dust. All the novels are sorted now and have their place. For a while at least. Time to care for the records and CDs next.


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Stanislaw Lem died today 
Tuesday, 28 .March, 2006, 15:33 - English Entries, Literature, Movies

I just read in a German news service, that the Polish author Stanislaw Lem died today.

Lem wrote books of which most are accounted as Science Fiction novels, many of them comedies. But saying Science Fiction makes pictures of Star Wars and Battelstar Galactica come to your mind - that is definitly not Lems realm. For him Science Fiction was a medium to transport his own thoughts about mankind, society, science and technology. Many of his books are funny, but always intelligent and full of irony about humans. Besides novels he also wrote non-fictional books, of which are at least some very easy to read and interesting.

He maybe is best known for his novel "Solaris", which made it twice into movies, once filmed by a Russian (Andrei Tarkovsky) and once by an American (Steven Soderbergh) director. Both films are good and worth seeing, but I say the Russion version is an exceptional piece of art.

"Golem XIV" (it is a shame that this book is out of print in English language, I only found it available in German) was the most fascinating book I read from him and is since then one of my all-time favourites. It is the story of an artificial intelligence that gives lectures to humans. He deconstructs mankind and all its weaknesses in a friendly way. This book is full of deep, new thoughts, Lems intellect is dripping from every page and it is an adventure to read it.

Stanislaw Lem was one of the few authors who was not afraid to write about complex issues and he always did it in an entertaining and readable way. I can only recommend to read his books and to let his thoughts impress you.

P.S. Finish subTV shows today (Wednesday, 29th March 2006) at 20.00 Soderberghs Solaris movie with George Clooney.


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In Anticipation for the V for Vendetta Movie 
Sunday, 19 .March, 2006, 14:17 - English Entries, Literature, Movies, Comics

One of the few movie highlights of last year was "Sin City", which was based on Frank Millers graphic novel of the same title. It was an extraordinary visual act and director Robert Rodriguez kept the film strictly to the story of the comic books. Calling Sin City an intellectual outburst would be a little bit far fetched, but it is a much more complex and inspiring story that other comic adaptions, such as Spider Man or The Fantastic Four.

Now the Wachowski brothers and James McTeigue, the makers of the Matrix trilogy, take the next step in advertising non-mainstream comics in theater. Their movie "V for Vendetta" is based on the comic book written by Alan Moore and drawn by David Lloyd in the late 1980s.

The background, to which the story is set, is the United Kingdom which is ruled by a fascist regime, that controls everything and everybody. The only person going against the oppressors is a masked vigilante who calles himself simply "V".

It sounds like just another superhero and of course V is not a normal person, but he is neither Clark Kent nor Peter Parker. V is an intellectual anarchist, one who cites More and Crowley before destroying goverment buildings, one who has a long conversation with justice before blowing up her statue, one who knows mercy and can kill at the same time.

Lloyds drawings give insight into a hopeless and suppressed society, in which the only light seems to be the white, grinning mask of V, whose depcition goes beyond that of a hero. He becomes a mystical figure or even more: a concept – that of individual freedom and anarchy –, that took on flesh and blood (or paper and ink) to break the chains in which it was layed. V is a gathering of citations that went into action and even if you do not have the key to all his quotes, his intentions are shining bright from his smile.

In V, pain is not something that is shown in pictures of blood and dead bodys, it pours out of every page, showing the deep misery the people are in and is finally not abandoned but turned around. It becomes the memory and foundation of a new society, that has to find its way into the future on its own.

Moore took Guy Fawkes as a role model for V. Fawkes was one of the catholics who got convicted and killed on the 5th of November 1606 for his participation in the so-called gun powder plot, an attempt to assasinate the English king, who was not willing to give equal rights to catholics. Moore seemingly got inspired by Fawkes, as he was willing to take extreme measures to get his individual right and he reminds of him by making V's first major attack against the goverment to the 5th of November.

It was in the 1980s, when people like Miller and Moore steered the comic book business into direction of a darker and complex realm. Millers stories are driven by action and effects, that transport a feeling of desperation and the knowledge that the world is a cruel place and it will never change, but it is worth to go against it. What's for Miller the fist of Marv (in "Sin City") or the lance of King Leonidas (in "300") is in Moores universe a citation or a gesture, a joke, that turns into the explosion of the parliament building. His action is founded in a system of thought that does not hesitate to commit a crime, without taking itself too seriously. Moore and V are smiling inside all the misery and tragedy.

The trailers of the V movie look promising, it seems that the makers stayed true to the story and pictures of the comic book. It is over 12 years ago that I read the German version of Moores graphic novel and since then it stayed the best comic book I ever read. I am impatient to see this movie. I hope the movie shows what Moore did to comics and that we all will enjoy it.

Whilst writing this, I found a some material on V and Moore on the web that is worth looking at:


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January 2006 
Monday, 30 .January, 2006, 21:29 - English Entries, Literature, Music, Movies

A short look back on the first month of 2006. Good music, good movies, good books - lots of travelling and visiting family and friends. The mole (birthmark) over my right eyebrow was removed, I sprained my ankle badly (thank you Andi for bringing me home) and now I am happy to be back in Helsinki for the next two weeks.

Forgive me, that I mostly list the good things below - there is just not time enough time, to review the not-so-good artworks.


Read:
  • Michel Houellebecq - Die Möglichkeit einer Insel / The Possiblility of an Island
    Misanthropic, sad and haunted by sex - that's Michels style in Die Ausweitung der Kampfzone / Whatever and Elementarteilchen / The Elementary Particles. In this new book his view on mankind has become a bit more negative and he really makes the reader blieve that everything that happens between North- and South-Pole is disgusting and the only advantage is anyhow that it makes no sense. At the very end he seems to leave a little light of hope burning. Weather it's a hope that you like, you'll have to find out on your own. A good book, but Elementarteilichen / The Elementary Particles was better. (7/10)

  • Juli Zeh - Spieltrieb
    On over 560 pages Juli Zeh ist not capable of writing a single wrong sentence. Every word, every metaphor fits - and many of them hurt. Her talent in using the German language is for sure unique. Already Adler und Engel / Eagles and Angels was a crime and a love story. In Spieltrieb she changes the scenario from drug addicted grown ups to a German grammar school. We meet Ada, a fourteen year old girl, whose mind is one of a fully grown-up and disillusioned person. We meet Smutek, her teacher who tries to find happyness, or at least hope, together with his wife. And we meet Alev, one of Adas classmates - a player of games. And as all games between people, also this becomes serious and ends in something that might look like a catastrophe at first glance. (8/10)


Saw:
  • Match Point
    Woody Allen leaves the comedy (not for the first time) and New York (must have been for the first time), goes to London and directs a love-crime-tragedy that sucks you in, shakes your emotions and leaves you waiting for more. But the end is as cruel as justice is. One might not like the moral implications this movie transports, but it is a perfectly constructed, directed and acted story, that will not let you think of anything else until it is finished. (9/10)

  • Southpark - Bigger, Longer and Uncut
    I said it already - it is great! (9/10)

  • Bob Dylan - No Direction Home
    Martin Scorsese makes a movie about the early Bob Dylan and the man himself talks about himself and it is all wonderful. This documentary made me listen to Dylans song in a different way - with much more background knowledge. I even took out the one and only Woody Guthrie record I have and listend to it. Don't watch this if you do not like Dylan. (9/10)

  • Ronin
    I saw this in 98 when it was released and now again on TV, but I did not like it too much. It is a good thriller, but the streets of Nice and Paris are too empty and just waiting for the cars that chase each other through them. (5/10)


Listend to:
  • Mary Broadcast Band
    Now, after coming back home again, I am able to listen to their first album, which is unfortunately not available in stores. The three songs on their web page are good, but the album is just perfect. I saw them live, but I do not know them personally, so don't think I would make advertisement for friends here. They simply play the blues and Marys voice has a power rarely heared these days. Be there at their next concert, get a CD. (10/10)

  • Juliette and the Licks - You're Speaking my Lanuage
    This is the little Juliette Lewis, who played in Natural Born Killers. Somebody must have told her to make music and this somebody should get a special bonus. This is very well made Rock'n'Roll - loud, aggressive, sometimes sad and always good. (8/10)

  • Carla Bruni - Quelqu'un M'a Dit
    Yes yes yes, I like to listen to female voices. I know that. And Mrs. Bruni is not only good to listen too - we also know that. But still her songs are so easy and so much Cote d'Azur, that even a 42 square meter room in Helsinki in Winter becomes a cozy place for forgetting everything that is anyhow not worth the trouble. (9/10)

  • CocoRosie - Noah's Ark
    I heared them on Zündfunk on German Radio Bayern 2 and their sound and song was so different, that I had to hear more of them. Their music is organic and does not go into cateogries of loud or soft, happy or sad. Sigur Ros is maybe in a way similar, but then again - only hardly similar. Don't listen to this as background music - it gives you a severe headache. (7/10)


Played:
  • Tarock
    A big "Thank You" to Alice, Christian and Johannes, who not only took time with me in Vienna, but also taught me this great game. I got addicted to it and play it on the my computer all the time.


Travelled:
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