Töölönlahti - 14th June 2006, 00:55 
Wednesday, 14 .June, 2006, 01:44 - English Entries, Finland, Helsinki, Photographs

Töölönlahti, Helsinki, Finland - 14th June 2006, 00:55


For more June Picutres from Helsinki click on the above picture or here to see them as a slidewhow

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Finnish and German history during the 20th century - from supporting the national movement to burning Lapland 
Monday, 12 .June, 2006, 22:05 - English Entries, Finland, Germany, History
There were several occasions during the last years when I talked with different Finnish people about Germany. That's not a big surprise, I am a German and Finns are usually curious and many of them even have studied my mother tongue for a long time in school. What I learned is, that many Finns have a very distinct view on Germany and that this view is based on the last 100 years of history, in which Finns and Germans had a lot of interaction.

During World War One German troops went into Russia, which was weakened after the the revolution and the take-over of power by the communists. It was a major German interest to establish a line of buffer states between Russia and central Europe. This was achieved when Russia signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, which gave independence to a number of states that before formed part of Russia, including Ukraine, the Baltic states, Poland and also Finland.

Finland is the only country that was able to maintain its independence from 1918 till today. But immediately after gaining independence the Finnish Civil War broke loose, in which the socialist/communist Red Guards fought for several months in the beginning of 1918 against the conservative White Guards, which were lead by Marshall Mannerheim. There were cruetlies done on both sides, but it seems to me that the White Guards organized their way of fighting in a dramatic way, by establishing camps in which mass executions of the red enemies became daily business (see here). Parts of the White Guards were trained in Germany and formed so-called "Jäger" troops.

During the Civil War, Helsinki was held by the Red Guards. In early April 1918 Germany, still ruled by an Emperor at that time, sent troops to the Southern Finnish city of Hanko. From there they marched to Helsinki, conquered the capital and handed it over to the Whites.

The German prince Frederick Charles of Hesse even became elected king of Finland in 1918, but he ruled only for two month and afterwards Finland became finally a republic, with Kaarlo Juho Ståhlberg as the first president.

Later, during World War Two, the secret protocol included in the Hitler-Stalin (Molotov-Ribbentrop) Pact "allowed" Russia to conquer Finland (and other countries) again. Russia tried occupy Finland again during the so-called Winter War from November 1939 till March 1940, but gave finally up.

Few years after that, German troops again fought in the so-called Continuation War together with the Finns against Russia. No doubt about it that it would have been in no way desirable for anybody in the Western hemisphere that Finland would become part of Russia again. Still this does not excuse anything what happened several hundred kilometres South in central Europe in the name of Germany.

The Finns and the Russians signed a armistice. One of the conditions in there was, that all German troops had to be kicked out of Finland. This finally lead to the Lapland War, the last war in Finnland during World War II. The Germans, moving back towards West followed their strategy of "scorched earth", meaning they burnt most of the villages and towns they came through in order to not give anything into the hand of their enemy. The city of Rovaniemi was completely destroyed and re-built anew after the war.

There are much more details to all these issues, but to me it seems that those parts of history play a major role in the thinking that some Finnish people have about the Germans. It ranges from "You freed us from the Communists", over "Our fathers kicked the Russians out" to "You burned my hometown". It is all part of History and I am just happy that people here are not getting over-excited about these things but mostly making jokes about it.


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Visual Summer: Helsinki Street Art, Rocketboom and Ehrensenf 
Sunday, 04 .June, 2006, 14:28 - English Entries, Comedy, Finland, Helsinki, Online/Blogs, Photographs

It is summer time, the sun in Northern Europe can hardly be convinced to disappear anymore, people stay up all night and due to the lack of sleep it seems impossible to concentrate on any written text. So who wants to read blogs during summer? Therefore let me hint you to three visual blogs, which I enjoy all very much:

Katutaso - The Helsinki Street Art Blog collects photographs of graffiti and other street art from all over Helsinki.

Katutaso - Helsinki Street Art Blog

Rocektboom, with Amanda Congdon is a English language VideoBlog, that is "aired" every weekday. Amanda discusses interesting news and sites from the Internet in a very funny way.

Rocketboom with Amanda Congdon

But sorry Amanda, here is the VideoBlog that is just bit more entertaining and more attractive than Rocketboom: Ehrensenf, the German VideoBlog with Katrin. Also here you get your daily news from the Internet and it is worth a look, even if you do not speak German. Ehrensenf by the way is an anagram of Fernsehen, the German word for TV and means something like honor-mustard.

Ehrensenf - with Katrin Bauerfeind

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Maija Vilkkumaa in Concert - Tavastia, Helsinki - May 24th 2006 
Thursday, 25 .May, 2006, 13:40 - English Entries, Finland, Music, Photographs

Maija Vilkkumaa Maija Vilkkumaa played live yesterday in Tavastia. I got recently addicted to her music when I got her two albums "Ei" and "Se ei olekaan niin" as a present. She's all Rock'n'Roll and full of drive and I regret to not understand her words.

But seeing her live is the one thing about her you must not miss, as she is a bolt of lightning. When jumping around on the stage she disproves several laws of physics, being an endless source of energy and joy.

Unfortunately I was not in the first row and I am still not good enough with my camera to make really good picture, but I hope some of them give you an impression about yesterday night.

» My pictures from yesterdays concert (Flickr)
» Watch the pictures as a slideshow (Flickr)

» Maija Vilkkumaa Homepage
» Maija Volkkumaa on Wikipedia

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Online reporting from the 51st European Song Contest  
Saturday, 20 .May, 2006, 22:19 - English Entries, Europe, Finland, Music
I could not find enough energy tonight to go out and decided to watch and comment the 51st Eurovision Song Contest, this year (for the first time) from Athens.

The winning song of last year was just performed again by Elena Paparizou and I have to say - wow!, really sexy and with good rhythm. Not too bad at all, although I would not put the song among my own favourites.

Switzerland - Six4One - If we all give a little
Six singers that should somehow represent different cultures or at least different mentalities run around without coordination and sing a slimy song.
No points.

Moldova - Arsenium featuring Natalia Gordienko & Connect-R - Loco
Latin style love song with a half-naked blond, a wannabe macho and some dancers that never heared the song before. A black guy gives a solo in hip-hop style and maybe pushes up the street credability, but not the quality of the song.
No points.

Israel - Eddie Butler - Together we are one
A soul song, a little bit too soft and blunt for me, but at least the coordination of the dancers works a bit better than in the two other performances. Oh yes, now it gets rhythm - nice.
I'll spend some points on that. But I don't think they'll win.

Latvia - Cosmos - I hear your heart
A singer that looks like a woman makes strange noises. Two guys abuse their voices, sing far to high in the beginning. But then it all gets into groove. An acapella song.
I'll also give some points here.

Norway - Christine Guldbrandsen - Alvedansen
Oh oh - a group of beautiful ladies in white short dresses - some of them play violine. The blond singer sings something that sounds half traditional, half pop. The song is nothing special, but not bad. The dancing is boring and nothing special. But the performers are something and the violines sound nice. Also nice that they sing in their own language.
Up till now the best song (including the visual ... effects).

Spain - Las Ketchup - Bloody Mary
The four ladies are dresses in red and sit on chairs - making gymnastics whilst singing in Spanish. A black dressed couple dances in front. Maybe the couple should introdcue a touch of art, not sure why they are there else. It all sounds like a low-fi version of the Ketchup Song. A little bit more dancing would have been fine.
No point.

Malta - Fabrizio Faniello - I do
Here comes the blond macho with high voice. Disco Sound please. Thank you. Four dancers dressed in a uninteresting combination of white and green-gray try to save what is lost from the first tune. The song is nearly as boring as the guy.
If this wins, I'll never watch the song contest again.

Germany - Texas Lightning - No No Never
I have not listened to this song beofre. There goes the country band from central Europe. The woman sings whilst sitting on a bar chair, shwoing her cowboy boots and her pink dress. The guys wear cowboy hats. Now the woman stood up. Aha. It does NOT look convincing. The song is thin and misses somehow a peak. Now the chorous goes into an endless loop.
Thanks to the rules I am not allowed to vote for the song from my own home country.

Denmark - Sidsel Ben Semmane - Twist of Love
Hey! Rock'n'Roll! Gary Glitter dressed the girls up in gold. The voice of the singer has character - she can even go into dirty rough tones. The performance is not the best, but the song is good, it is the first one that would make me move.
Denmark, you are my candidate so far.

Russia - Dima Bilan - Never Let You Go
A guy who looks as if he just came from working on the nearby bulding site. The song is latin-like, but not enough to piss me completly off. Two ballett dancers came out and hop around and actually that does look quite good. A pale woman climbs out of a piano, like a ghost. Impressive performance, the song is acceptable.
So Russia gets some points, but Denmark is still on top of the charts.

FYR Macedonia - Elena Risteska - Ninanajna
Latin-Disco sound again, but a little bit more aggressive than before. The pop song additionaly takes on some oriental characteristics whilst the dancers (in something that looks like sports dresses) jump around and show their bodies and the singer shakes her ass. The show is cheap, the song has some rhythm that is ok.
Few points for Macedonia.

Romania - Mihai Traistariu - Tornerò
Guy in balck suite and white shirt sings a ridicoulus disco song. Girls dressed in strange clothes hop around him. I open my first beer. Romania, please join the EU, but don't bother us with that music.
No points.

Now the first twelve song have been sung. The hosts start talking again. They look very greek.

Bosnia and Herzegovina - Hari Mata Hari - Leijla
A violin starts it all, a guitar joins in, then a flute. A man in a white suite sings a slow, gentle song that sounds like longing. The instrument players are also dressed in white, it all looks like a picture from a greek legend. The song is nothing big and we have heared this half-traditional, half-pop stuff already before, but still they did a good job on it.
One of my favourites.

Lithuania - LT United - We Are the Winners
"We are the winners of Eurovision - vote for the winners" - a bunch of guys tries to make a funny show and fail. Sound and chorus are quite catchy, but the whole thing is nothing to be remembered.
Some points

United Kingdom - Daz Sampson - Teenage Life
Pop song with school girls giving dance and chourus and a guy giving a streamlined hip-hop performance. It is much better than not bad. The performance is funny and so is the whole song.
If a pop song has to win, then it should be this.

Greece - Anna Vissi - Everything
Here comes the host. A blond, strange dressed lady performs a love song that tries to be rock. It is as much a good song as she is capable of dancing. She walks up and down and shakes her hand. Ok, the electric guitar riffs get harder, her voice is not bad, I have to admit. Good that they won last year, this year their performance was rather disappointing.
One or two points.

Finland - Lordi - Hard Rock Hallelujah
Here comes Finland! The only song I knew in advance. The monster show was advertised long before and the song has power. Nice - not the normal half-naked-women-hop-around show. That's all wild. Daring show, great wild sound.
Among my four favourites.

Ukraine - Tina Karol - Show Me Your Love
The next Latino song, this time from a blond lady that could also perform at a greek tourist dance group. She desperately shakes the upper part of her body. The male dancers do rope skipping. It's not good. Sorry to say.
No points.

France - Virginie Pouchain - Il étai temps
Also in France they understood that singers for the Eurovision song contest need to be female and blond and that a white dress always looks good on them. A slow, romantic song with a minimum of show. The voice of the singer is rather thin, but the song is nice and the double bass player does a good job as well.
Some points.

Croatia - Severina - Moja stikla
The female singer wears a dress that does not cover her legs at all and one is just waiting for the moment until a bit too much becomes visible. She sings a traditional pop song with a group of shepards and performs knee-bends with them. Sometimes she sings "Sex". Now she removed the lower parts of her dress. It does not save the song or the show.
No points.

(My internet connection went down - not sure when it works again)

Ireland - Brian Kennedy - Every Song Is A Cry For Love
Obviously the singers parents were active in the 60s, he wears a suite and has long hair. The song, which is boring and preaches that every song is about love, makes me open the next beer. I try to think about the last good song that came out of Ireland and take the first sip.
No points

(Internet connection is back)

Sweden - Carola - Invincible
And the next disco song. It's not "Waterloo". The singer tries to emphasize her true feelings about the lyrics by running back and forth on the stage. Her friends wave transparent flags in the background. The whole thing is very transparent. The dancing performance gets a bit better, but is for sure not invincible. Swedes are good in Eishockey.
No points.

Turkey - Sibel Tüzün - Süper star
A disco song without drive, a not-too-young blond lady with lots of tattoos is sourrounded by four black-dressed dancers. She babbles in Turkish, then she does some belly dancing. Some electric guitars roar. We saw Turkeys the 1970s performance for the Eurovision Song Contest.
No points.

Armenia - André - Without Your Love
Oriental sound, four girls and a guy bend before an altar like table. It's a bit thin pop song, but with a good drive during the chorus and nice dancing performance.
Some points - but please not too many.

Nana Mouskouri comes to stage and says that all participants are winners. Of course. Afterwards a short review of the performed songs is shonw.

My favourites:


Actually I have to admit that during this short presentation the songs from France and Greece did not look that bad at all. But they are definitly not my favourites.

Whilst the voting is performed, last years winner Helena Paparizou performs another song. She is really good in it - it is all styled through and nice to listen and watch.

Now the voting starts. Only the 8, 10 and 12 points are nowadays announced, due to that the procedure gets shortend.

Points given to Finland
Slovenia - 8 - #3
Andorra - 10 - #1
Romania - 4 - #1
Denmark - 12 - #1
Latvia - 8 - #1
Portugal - 6 - #1
Sweden - 12 - #1

Finland gave 12 points to Russia, who are now have 58 points, whilst Finland has 60

Belgium - 8 - #1
Croatia - 10 - #1
Serbia and Montenegro - 7 - #1
Norway - 12 - #1

Now the two reporters from TV2 do not stop babbling anymore, it is impossible to understand what is said on stage or by the vote giving countries. Excitement everywhere.

Estonia - 12 - #1

If Finland wins I have to go to the nearby bar and celebrate.

Ireland - 10 - #1
Malta - 7 - #1
Lithuania - 10 - #1
Cyprus - 5 - #1
Netherlands - 7 - #1

Now half of the countries have voted, Finland got 148 points, followed by Russia with 118 and Bosnia and Herzegowina with 103.

Switzerland - 8 - #1
Ukraine (last years host) - 7 - #1
Russia - 8 - #1

Finland is leading now with 40 points advantage, next is Bosnia and Herzegowina.

Poland - 12 - #1
United Kingdom - 12 - #1

Oh my, it is so fair - a monster rock band wins the Eurovision Song Contest for Finland

Armenia - 0 - #1

Armenia is the first country that gave no points to Finland.

France - 8 - #1
Belarus - 7 - #1

Two thirds of the countries have now voted. Now comes Germany.

Germany - 10 - #1

Germany gave 12 points to Turkey.

Spain - 10 - #1
Moldova - 6 - #1

Now it is close to impossible to beat the Finns. 236 points, and Russia is next with 190 points.

Bosnia and Herzegowina - 7 - #1
Iceland - 12 - #1

Amaaaaaazzzzzzzzinnnggg!

Monaco - 0 - #1

I hardly ever saw a more thrilling Song Contest.

Israel - 7 - #1
Albania - 0 - #1
Greece - 12 - #1
Bulgaria - 5 - #1

The female Finnish reporter on TV2 went all wild and shouting out loud from excitement.

Macedonia - 6 - #1
Turky - 7 - #1

And Finland has won. 292 points! It is unbelievable. Rock'n'Roll simply did it! Wonderful. The rest is history.

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