DIARY 2005















Sun, Jul 31

<23:04 EEST> I've had another excellent experience of outdoor summer theatre, this time at Ainola where Antti Viitamäki premiered his version of Astrid Lindgren's Brothers Lionheart. I was unfortunately not familiar with the story before, but I was aware of the basic setting, which was not fun or light by any stretch. Nevertheless, this direction managed to pull off a number of frankly hilarious scenes, and I imagine they were not originally written to be so. These were mostly martial indicents, and the dark-side soldiers would have been pretty comical characters even without the reminiscences of Star Wars and the Knights who say Ni!

I was a little surprised of how well the whole of the play worked together with dozens of actors, many of them children or young people. Time went by like a breeze, and I wondered at its passage when the ever-annoying 8 o'clock signal trumpeted from the city centre, marking two hours from the start.

Afterwards, being the premiere night with a number of friends and acquaintances performing, there was once again a party that's not easily forgotten. At least not until my bruises fade :D The outdoor stage was probably one of the funkiest party setting I've been to, with a couple of floodlights used in the near-darkness of late summer.

About the story: I like it very much, and not the least because it's unquestionably SF :) There's an idea of sequential levels of reality, which has been treated in several SF works, but this version is one of the closest to my view. Well, not exactly so, as mine is a bit more complicated involving things like lucid dreaming and enlightenment :-j This makes me wonder though, why is it that such SF ideas are so readily accepted in children's literature, but much less so in adult fiction?

Wed, Jul 27

<23:50 EEST> Saturday was furiously fun. There was hailstorm and thunder with lightning, and possibly ball lightning; I noticed something flash in my room when I wasn't there, and I thought this is not good. I had lost a modem and a power supply three years ago, due to lightning that had managed to penetrate through a phone line protector.

I had witnessed what was probably a ball lightning last summer, and if it was the case again, it was probably a good idea I wasn't in the same room. As I got there, the ADSL modem had its lights off, but everything else was fine. It turned out its internal power-supply fuse had blown, and it was an easy fix, though I had to wait until Monday to get a proper replacement.

It's a funny kind of lightning that goes through the power brick without damaging it, but blows the low-voltage fuse. Perhaps it had been a ball lighting after all, delivering a focused kick to the target?-)

However, I had little time to ponder on the miracles of natural electricity, since I had just got a chance to see the play Salaisuuden vartija. In fact I'd been invited there since its conception, as Rigorist was involved in making it, but I hadn't gotten a ride, and this time some of my friends from Fandango! had borrowed a car.

So, we were off to Joutsa and ended up spending quite an evening there. The play was hilarious and profound, featuring nice effects like bullet-time mockups. Afterwards we enjoyed sauna and swimming in the lake, which was great, only my second time this year. The hotel's bar/nightclub Hämytintti was the icing on the cake of hilarities ;)

Fri, Jul 22

<23:51 EEST> Another bleepload of books I've read recently:

Sun, Jul 17

<14:19 EEST> Fandango Moods is out! This is the "I can't believe it's not Fandango! Soundtrack" you've all been subconsciouly waiting for. Truly a weekend of major releases ;)

<23:59 EEST> I still have a lot to write regarding the Manhattan trip. One thing I've already touched upon is the spendthrift culture. In a way, Manhattan epitomizes this angle of American life, but it is far from being so annoying as some of my Long Island experiences. The reason, I think: Style.

As I compared New York to other metropoles I've been to, I thought naturally of London, another epicentre of Anglo-Americanism. But it didn't ring any bells with its once small towns that had grown into an unorganized sprawl.

Then I thought of Paris with its well-planned pseudocrystal grid and spacious streets. It was a much better analogy. The most notable difference was that New York's street/avenue grid is utterly unimaginative. But it can still be made into something rather stylish. A walk from Grand Central Station to the United Nations HQ along the 42nd Street was like Champs-Élysées, the complete opposite of some cramped British alleyway. While that's just one of the finest examples, the same feeling of open air continues throughout the city. The air, by the way, was much cleaner than in I've ever breathed in London.

So, style + wealth makes for great stuff, and I've wondered if another city like this could be built some day, somewhere. But it seems impossible for a number of reasons.

In retrospect, I understand New York as the major concentration of wealth that resulted from the conquering of America after Europeans discovered it. Another NY won't be built on Earth, since there are no major new areas to conquer and exploit — though I'm speculating on the Antarctic with global warming :-j — and even if there were, modern people would hopefully be less shortsighted about the natural resources.

The latter point leads on to sustainability. It seems Manhattan is a maintenance nightmare, with so much activity and life concentrated there. For example, the ubiquitous use of air conditioning is a vicious cycle, as it keeps heating the air outside, and I believe with those concentrations you can feel the micro-climatic effect directly. Having experienced summer there, I understand the need for AC, but I also wonder if the surplus heat (which is always more than the amount of heat removed from indoors) is a fair price to pay.

On the other hand, when it comes to the major sin of petrol reliance, New York and similar metropoles are probably better off than most of the Western world, with their working public transportation. Their role in the world economy after peak oil will certainly be interesting.

Concluding on the topic of style + wealth, there's something I love about the city. It's mainly because I'm fan of 1920s style and culture, and it makes me think how cool it would have been to live there in those days. Then again, I feel bad as I think of the associated vanity and exploitation :-/

Mon, Jul 11

<03:13 EEST> This is probably what they call jet lag. I don't feel the slightest amount of sleepiness at this hour, and the Midnight Sun isn't exactly helping the situation. Might as well write about food.

Before coming to Manhattan I had a vague plan of trying out new ethnic delicacies. Since the sushi experience I was convinced that the States, much like Britain, was the best place in the world to eat well, as long as you ignored the native offerings. Even in the first hour or so after landing in East Village, I found a nice Moroccan restaurant. The food reminded me of Tunisian flavours, but it had a distinct personality of its own as well. A great start for the week, one might say.

The name of the Moroccan place escapes me, but I recall vividly the names of the other notable restaurants. The Ukrainian one was called Veselka, and it was probably quite famous, a kind of hub for Little Ukraine that was mentioned in my travel guide. The food had an eerie familiarity with some traditional Finnish, or more precisely Karelian, dishes, and once again I felt very much at home, despite being so far away. Unfortunately I had to leave soon, for it was Monday night and I wanted to see the independence day fireworks.

I headed for East River Park as I imagined it would provide a view to the river itself. It was almost 10 pm, and spirits were high. People were on the move, gathering in parks and streets. I never made it to the park, for the highway overpass just before it was quite enough. I certainly wasn't alone there, but the big surprise was that even the highway itself had been closed for vehicles, to provide space for spectators. The awesome spirit of the city in celebration was well concentrated there, and I hope the pictures can prove it. This is probably a nice place to link to the Brookhaven pictures as well.

Back to the food section.. in Harlem I stopped for lunch in a place curiously named: La Marmite. As I wondered if they serve anything else besides the spread, it turned out a genuine African restaurant. I had a West African dish that at first looked quite ordinary and Western with fish and vegetables, but none of the ingredients were actually familiar to me. I loved the tastes that were truly new to me, though I more or less charred the inside of my mouth with a chili pepper that had the innocent look of a green tomato :-*

Sat, Jul 9

<22:59 EEST> @ ~

02:31 <teak> Misäspäin olet nytte?
13:12 <teknohog> kotona, tulin eilen illalla
13:12 <teak> kotona äs in jkl vai äs in brookhaven vai äs in itäsuomi
13:13 <teknohog> jkl

Hey, that was actually a good question, now that I think of it... you could say my place in Jyväskylä isn't much more permanent than the places where I felt at home on Long Island and Manhattan. While in NY, NY I stayed in Hotel 17 that boasted something I'd never experienced in a hotel before, both style and a sense of home. It was a harmonious, even symbiotic, combination, not having the one despite the other, but because of. My sole complaint about the place was poor soundproofing; after the hectic Gotham days I struggled getting to sleep, with mainly the air conditioning noises from the backyard and wooden clanks from the corridor. Other than the noise, heat was also a slight problem and I found myself sweating like a hog, moreso than at BNL. Though I did have much moor outdoor activities as an excuse :)

I've decided against writing a complete chronology of the days in Manhattan. A lot has happened and it would probably end up a rather boring list of doing this and then going there and then doing that. Some people have developed what's nearly an art form of blogging that way, but I try to avoid that :) So, I'll probably be writing around themes, atmospheres and ideas in the following days of recovery and afterglow.

Sun, Jul 3

<00:03 EDT> The desire to leave BNL for a day, combined with the difficulties of moving about without a car, brought me to Riverhead for Friday. I made use of the BNL service shuttle to Ronkonkoma train station, whence I proceeded to the "crotch" of Long Island. (The railway map may be helpful.)

I had a rough plan on what to do there, starting from a visit to Atlantis Marine World. The timing turned out quite crucial, since by the time I was leaving, the place was full of schoolchildren and the tranquil mystery of experiencing deep sea was long gone. I actually enjoyed the place, as I had worried whether it was too much of a kiddie thing, but it turned out to strike a nice balance.

That was about the only tourist attraction in the small town; there was a railroad museum, but it looked like it was closed. I wandered around, enjoying the salty breeze of seaside air, and had scallops for lunch. Funnily enough, I managed to grab the attention of a couple of policemen, with all the pictures I was taking; the most impressive building there happened to be Supreme Court :-/

In the back of my mind I had the idea that I should conclude my visit to Long Island with a taste of the local iced tea. I found a nice-looking terrace at a restaurant called Boardwalk, and the ordering of a strong drink at 2 PM was a great way to start a chat with the locals. I only had about an hour to finish the drink, and of course a national pride to keep up :D

Risto A. Paju