Monday, January 31, 2005

The Snake Pit

I dug something out from web about "The Snake Pit". There was also the British DJ, but I can't paste it here.

The Snake Pit
Cassell and Company, London 1947

"Long ago they lowered insane persons into snake pits; they thought that an experience that might drive a sane person out of his wits might send an insane person back into sanity."

1947 DUST JACKET: "Long ago men tried to shock the insane back into sanity by throwing them into a snake pit--a drastic treatment which by its sudden terror was sometimes successful. Modern methods, though superficially more civilized, often rely on the same brutal shock to achieve their results.

This is the story of Virginia Cunningham who has suffered so complete a nervous breakdown that she is out of her mind. It is the story of her slow and painful return to sanity, told by herself. We see the treatment she is given through her own eyes--hazily and incoherently at first, for she cannot grasp what is done to her, nor recognize the faces round her. Then the writing keeps pace with the growing lucidity of the mind and shares the patient's restless rebelliousness when she thinks she is better than she really is. Finally there is complete return to normal and the happiness of release to rejoin her husband.

This remarkable piece of writing is outstanding for its honesty and its sincerity. The author has no axes to grind about the mentally unbalanced or the treatment given to them, but has written a book of astonishing power in which the reader feels acutely every change of state and fortune along the patient's hard road back to health. It is in no way a morbid, nor a medical book: it is a feat of writing which the reader will find absolutely absorbing."

(But that seems all I can find. There seems to be also Mary Jane Ward, an early American settler. But that's no her. Or then she's mighty old.)

Weekend; mental institutes in noir

(This is not about Godard's film - which, by the way, is one of his best. Clearly. What an overrated director!)

We spent a nice weekend together with Ottilia, who lives with her mother. She has clearly an affinity towards Kauto, her half kid brother. Of course she's sometimes irritated when Kauto yells or tries to grab her hair, but it seems that Ottilia loves the little brat. We went shopping on Saturday and bought the vacuum cleaner and had coffee and ice cream. Then we went outside and made some snow men (is that the exact phrase in English?). I made a troll out of snow and then I made him a TV set and even a remote control to keep in hand! Ottilia wanted to play shop and used the cardboard box that came with the cleaner as a counter. Almost everything she had for sell cost nothing! I tried to tell her that she couldn't be a real entrepreneur if that was her attitude. Then I had to back up and say: "But of course you can play it like this." Why be so harsh? Ottilia sure knows that things must be paid for.


I had to stop reading Margaret Millar's "The Iron Gates". One of her weakest. It was interesting to note, thought, that the mental institute belongs to the iconography of noir literature, especially that branch that is written by women. The other example is "The Snake Pit" by Mary Jane Ward (it's translated in Finnish in 1948) that was filmed with Olivia de Havilland (by Anatole Litvak, if I remember correctly). Any other mental institure noirs from the fourties and fifties? (Okay, sixties, too.)

I started reading "The Man with the Golden Arm" by Nelson Algren. It's the first Algren translated into Finnish. It's interesting so far, but Algren uses lots of space to give backgrounds for his characters and their environments. Someone like Elmore Leonard would do it in bits of dialogue and one snappy paragraph. But definitely a noir novel, that one.


I mentioned the Avionrikkoja blog last time. I couldn't resist. I had to snap back at the stereotypes the guy uses. The guy should a) get a divorce, b) go to a shrink.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Talkkuna book; human relations; working

I just received pages of the forth-coming talkkuna book we've written together, Elina and I. It looks very nice indeed, with photos by Tero and Susanna, our friends. We plan to work together with them in the near future and we've been commissioned to do a book on flea markets and second hand shops. That should be fun. And we've also been thinking about a book on t-shirts, history and design. I don't know, though, if the books on clothes are sellable in Finland.


I stumbled upon some other blogs yesterday. I found out that someone keeps a blog about how he cheats on his wife and why. (It's at if someone wants to take a look. It's in Finnish.) Very interesting, even though my heart is on the woman's side. The guy clearly cannot speak to his wife, hence he goes out, has a lunch with a woman and takes her into a hotel afterwards. She had pretty panties! You see - his wife doesn't have.

It's interesting to note that there's been a cultural switch. Earlier women talked about how bad men look and complained that they should change and stop wearing white sports socks, now it's men complaining about women who gain weight after childbirth and wear not enough make up. I don't really know if it's fair, but it seems that no one is ever happy. If both men and women were equal socially, then I think this kind of think would be useless, but now the way you look tells about how you act and are situated in society. The better you look, the more you are appreciated.


I had a pretty good working day today. I translated whole five pages of Starr's novel and it went smoothly. Then I wrote some two or three pages of my own novel and introduced a new character. She seemed like a nice person. Then I checked the proofs of the talkkuna book. I think that's pretty good. I'll have to attend to some other business later today, so it will have to do.


The sad news today was that Color Blind James has died. He was the lead man of the ColorBlind James Experience, the band I knew only by one song - and I love the song! I decided that, finally, after all these years (I must've taped the song in 1989), I check the band in the net. Just to find out that Color Blind James is dead. But the site is at

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Alcohol and working

I was with Niko-Matti, a friend of mine, at the Karibia spa last night and in the sauna we talked about drinking and hangovers. I said that I've never understood the idea of the moral hangover ("morkkis" in Finnish). If you decide to drink and get drunk, you should be able to cope with the results. I said to Niko-Matti that I've never had a moral hangover (which isn't exactly true, since I've had it at least twice). Niko-Matti said he cannot understand since he thinks you can't separate the mind from the body. If the body doesn't function well, then the mind is at pains, too.

We tested the thing afterwards. I drank four beers (well, not exactly beers, but two "lonkeros" (that's a Finnish beverage, mix of gin and grapefruit soda - that's great, you foreigners reading this should try it!) and one Bacardi Breezer and one Schweppes Zing) and was quite drunk when I got home. And I had a hangover this morning!

I was going to work well and hard and be productive, but it was harder than usually. I was a bit irritated about the headache and was tired after sleeping not so well and waking up couple of times in the middle of the night. So, it didn't work out for me very well. And I have to apologize to Niko-Matti for being so arrogant about my hangovers.

However, I continued translating Jason Starr's "Nothing Personal", which will appear next after "Fake I.D.", also translated by me, has appeared. Then I wrote two or three pages for my novel. In the scene I had to imagine what the people in the ad companies are like and what they are talking about. I think I did quite well, even though I think I have to have it checked by a friend of mine who works in one of the bigger agencies in Turku. Then I wrote parts of a forth-coming article for Pulp - about the Roy Rockwood books about Bomba, the Jungle Boy. Then I went out to get Kauto to sleep (he sleeps in the backyard, since we don't have a balcony; it's a bit tiresome at times, but then again you get to go out). When I came back, I wrote two pages of the article I've promised: the story of the Demars, the now-legendary two-man (or actually, two-boy) punk band that my kid brother was in from 1995 to 2000 (or so). It will appear in an American indie magazine. The editor of the mag was very enthusiastic about the Demars and their naive and absurd children's hardcore. I may post the article here when it's ready.

Then it's been reading e-mail. I had made a terrible mistake claiming that Alfred Hitchcock and pulp fiction don't have much in common. Asko Alanen attacked me, and rightly so, and pointed out that Hitch directed films from Woolrich and Bloch and helped put up a digest-sized magazine that employed many pulp writers from Henry Slesar to C.B. Gilford. So, apologies to all!

I was listening earlier to a NME collection of new rock'n'roll, bands like The Von Bondies and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. What a bunch of crap! Boring tunes, no sign of good melodies. Franz Ferdinand was there, to my relief, and I was surprised to hear a band called Eastern Lane to play "Fa Ce La", one of the Feelies songs out of "Crazy Rhythms". I spinned the Hives' first album after that and it was much better. Then I listened to Throbbing Gristle's classic from 1978, "20 Jazz Funk Greats", which isn't exactly what it says. Interesting pre-industrial noise, but not to everyone's taste, of course.

Now, it's time for afternoon tea.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Music taste

I read an interview of some heavy metal fans in which some guy said that your taste on music is shaped when you're 12 years old. While the thought may have some truth on it, I don't buy all of it. When I was 12, I didn't listen to music. I remember that we had a C-cassette of Italian schlagers. I thought at the time that Italians make the best music in the world. Yeah, right.

When I was 13 or so, I started to listen to blues and rhythm'n' blues (not the kind you get nowaways, with snappy electro rhythms, but the so-called real r & b). I liked bands like The Fabulous Thunderbirds and the Finnish Bad Sign and was an avid fan of the so called "real music".

Now, it's totally different. I've grown very weary of the so-called real music and especially the boogie stuff. No more rock'n'roll hoochie koochie for this guy. I once thought that the bands should play guitars and drums, not electronic instruments. Now that strikes me as pretentious. Guitars *are* instruments, goddamit!

Nowadays I listen to whatever is available (from the library, usually) and my tastes may vary from old fifties bebopish jazz to the retro postpunk of Franz Ferdinand and the like. There are still some old favourites left. For some reason I've never grown tired of Creedence Clearwater Revival. And I still get a kick out some old blues, like Howlin' Wolf and especially John Lee Hooker.

One genre never leaves my cold. I had my first dose of sixties' acid or garage punk in 1986 (I was 14), when DJ Jack gave his legendary Hard Day's Night in Finnish Yleisradio. I still listen to the tape I made out of that session. When Rhino's Nuggets boxes came out, I rushed to buy them. That's great stuff.

But there's still a mystery to the whole thing: why does one listen to the kind of music one does? Why do I like CCR or Franz Ferdinand, but U2 or Madonna leave me utterly cold and uninterested? Why do I like Gene Pitney, but don't care for Frank Sinatra? Is it because of the genes (that's what sociobiologists would say, but my father used to listen to Arnold Schoenberg and my mother, well, she doesn't listen to much of anything) or is it because of the upbringing (see above)?

I like to think that my taste is what it is because I wanted to listen to something else than my mates in school did, because I thought they were dull (and they were picking on me most of the time). W.A.S.P. and Ratt were their favourite bands and that stuff didn't really strike me as music worth listening to. The girls liked the Finnish neo-glam-cum-schlager bands like the Finnish Dingo (from Pori, where I come from, a midsized town on the Western coast of Finland). I could always guarantee of sticking out not listening to the same stuff. It was different when I changed school and found out that I wasn't the only guy who listened to the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Then I found my real mates.


Why do I always have to rush and leave all the things to the last minute? Today I had to go to the bank that closed at 16:30. I thought I should go there something like 15:30 and have plenty of time to take care of my business. I was there at 16:15! I was also going to post some magazines (Iskus and Pulps) and had to leave some of them behind, because I didn't find any envelopes to put them in! I cursed myself - and this was not the first time, let me tell you. I've done it before: rushed angrily to the post office and feel like I'm forgetting something important. Now I had money only for two of my letters and had to go out to get some more money to put the third package in the mail. Argh, I said to myself.


I wrote couple of days back about the sadness that comes when I held my new book in mys hands. I remembered later that that is just what happened when my first book, "Pulpografia", came out. I remember that life seemed dull and empty and there was nothing to do. It went by, the blue and sadness. I remember thinking at the time that there should always be enough time to rest after some large work (such as "Pulpografia", which has over 300 entries of American pulp and paperback mystery authors). Maybe I don't allow enough rest. Even now when I have nothing to do and could sit back and watch TV, I sit here and write this.

So, enough of this now. More later.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Fashion; Some bits on forthcoming books

(If you're not interested in fashion, skip the beginning.)

We went shopping yesterday with my wife (and, of course, Kauto, but he didn't actually know what was going on - at least I think so). It was the last day of the sales and the shops had lowed the prices even more, some even up to 70 %.

We both like shopping around and we're both interested in fashion - I think that I'm even more into it than Elina, even though we both can also react against it, if it doesn't suit our tastes. There's something relaxing in spending the money in something you don't really need. I know that this is deeply unecological - but then again, more than half of our clothes come from flea markets and second hand boutiques.

Yesterday we visited also Hennes & Mauritz, the big Swedish chainstore that sells almost-high fashion to teenagers and those who still want to be teenagers. I was both shocked and pleased to notice that almost none of the clothes Karl Lagerfeld designed for H&M were sold. They were in 50 % discount!

I had tried the Lagerfeld slacks when they came out, but they were a huge disappointment and couldn't think of anyone wanting to wear them. They looked like crappy jeans (and too tight at that), but they were slacks nevertheless. It seemed that they couldn't be able to decide which one they wanted to do.

Now I tried a sweater and a white shirt, but they weren't any better than the slacks. They didn't fit very well, especially the sweater was too loose, there were unnecessary tricks in the collar of the shirt and the front looked like a servant's vest. I said to Elina that these couldn't be designed by Lagerfeld himself. "It's probably been done by an apprentice or a summer worker. Karl just said: Ja, das ist verrry Gut."

It was nice after this to find a very nicely cut black jacket at Zara, with over 50 % discount. I had been looking for one, even though I have over 20 jackets... Most have come from second hand stores, though.


I'm listening now to Blues Section, the most famous Finnish psychedelic/acid/freakbeat band from the late sixties. Quite nice, actually. It's Sunday, but I'll have to work a bit: we'll have to have the manuscript of "Eemu, Ukri, Amelie" revised by Monday. It's a book on rare first names and it's an updated edition of an earlier book with the similar theme.

I was mentioned in Helsingin Sanomat today! They had the traditional lists of the forthcoming books and my movie history book was there. Even though it was mentioned by its working title alone ("Elokuvan historia/"The History of Cinema"). (It will be "The White Heat: The Introduction to the History of Cinema".) There is already a book with that title and I can imagine Peter von Bagh, the writer of the book, getting pissed off. I just hope he won't send any letters to the editor...

Thursday, January 20, 2005

What's in a new book?

A new book of mine came out two days ago. It's a reference work on North-American Western authors, some serious and literary writers such as Cormac McCarthy and Paul Auster (I think "Moon Palace" is a Western), some historically important, such as Mark Twain and Cooper, and finally some prolific and influential wordsmiths, such as Zane Grey and Max Brand. It's all about translated authors, and it's a continuance of my one-man book, "Six Guns/Kuudestilaukeavat" which is about paperback Westerns. I edited the new book and there are some dozen contributors besides me.

It's a great work, breath-taking, someone might say, in its scope and grasp of the genre. There are some pretty unknown and forgotten writers, such as William MacLeod Raine and the Canadian Ralph Connor, who were important and widely read in their time. They all have had something to add to the genre. And that's why I was interested in them and took them in, even though no one has read them for ages (at least Ralph Connor who wrote religious frontier novels - in one the lumberjacks are so concerned about their alcohol consuming that they put up a temperance movement!).

So, I should be glad and burst with joy. Instead the book fills me with grief. Well, okay, that's a bit harsh word use here, but I'm feeling blue over it. There are so many mistakes. I can spot one almost in every page (well, not exactly, but that's how I feel). The entries I've written are full of bad sentences and badly chosen words. The entries other people have written have been edited sloppily (in one, I managed to put one paragraph in an entirely wrong place - it was not in a good place to begin with, but now it's in even worse!).

Someone might say that this happens with every book. Well, I haven't done that many books to be used or even hardened to the fact that there are no errorless books. Maybe I haven't done enough of them.

The Finnish novelist Mika Waltari (of the Sinuhe fame) said that he never reads his books when they come out. Maybe that's a sane thing to do. There's just that if I didn't the reference books I do, I wish someone else would do them. My new book is exactly the book I like to read. It's a book I want to browse through! Unluckily, it's by me and all the errors are because of my sloppiness.

Maybe I get over this quickly. I didn't look at the book yesterday. Tomorrow I may even place it on the shelf with other reference works. Someday I might even consult it. Hopefully I don't see an error in there.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Still on Pink Floyd

(I promise I'll stop whining about this...)

Okay, I give you that Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall" is a good tune, brooding, atmospheric and catchy, all that at the same time, which is quite amazing. But nevertheless, I hate the band.

However, I was at the gym the other day and heard "Another Brick in the Wall". Now, the gym is the only place where I get to hear the radio, since we don't listen to radio at home, and therefore I hear all the new hits there. The catchy phrase "We don't need no education" caught my ear. It was a cover version, sort of heavy metal, heavy riffing and all that. I kind of liked it and thought, "Hey, maybe this is meant to be a heavy metal song." It suited just fine with the weight lifting (200 pounds and all that...).

And, then, everything crashed. There was the announcer (which is rare in radio these days, I hate when they just play the songs and there's only a channel jingle between them) who said that it was Korn. Damn! I mean, who could be plausible and say he likes Korn better than Pink Floyd? So, I refrain from saying so.

I'm leaving on a business trip to Tampere, the town where I went to university. It's a nice town. If you ever come to Finland, do visit Tampere.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Kate Wilhelm's short story and Paul Kruger

I've been reading some noir crime fiction from the fifties and sixties written by female authors. This is for an article I'm writing for Ruumiin kulttuuri, the magazine of Suomen Dekkariseura, the Finnish Whodunit Society ( The article will deal with such renowned writers as Dorothy Hughes (whose books I don't personally like very much), Margaret Millar, Charlotte Armstrong and the like.

There will also be some lesser known writers. One is Paul Kruger, who was actually Elizabeth Roberta Sebenthal (1917-?). There are no Finnish translations from her, but as a private eye writer she caught my eye. I'm currently reading a paperback original by her, called "A Bullet for a Blonde" (Dell 1958). It's a competent, but not very original P.I. book, with a sympathetic, but little shallow and uninteresting man, called Vince Latimer, in the lead. It was Sebenthal's first novel as Paul Kruger. She wrote some dozen more and continued writing up till the seventies. Her series character was Phil Kramer. I haven't read any of those books many of which are hardbacks from Simon & Schuster.

Kruger's other pseudonym was Harry Davis, under which she wrote two novels in 1956. They came from a publisher called Greenberg, about which I've never heard. It has probably been a small publisher, if not a vanity press.

I also read last night a short story by a science fiction writer Kate Wilhelm. She's very respected in that genre, but she's had also some crime stories one of which ended up in the Finnish weekly fictionmag called Jännityslukemisto-Seikkailukertomuksia in the early sixties. The story was originally called "Murderer’s Apprentice" (Double-Action Detective and Mystery Stories, May 1959). It's a very strange story of a prediction that a young woman, married to a struggling writer, finds out about her. She has a curse she cannot hide - unless she won't have a baby. The translation could've been abridged, since all of it didn't make sense to me at first. I may have to read it again. But it was interesting to find this story in a Finnish mag and save it from obscurity. It was also interesting to see that the Finnish mags from that era printed also some more noteworthy material.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Da Vinci, pt. 2

I would like to deconstruct what I said earlier on "Da Vinci Code".

I wrote:

"Real pulp fiction is tight storytelling and not some whining guy delivering us lengthy monologues stripped straight from pseudoscientific non-fiction books as dialogue."

Now, having gone through some courses in male studies (feminism applied to men and differents discourses of masculinity) in university (some ten years ago), I got to thinking that maybe I should be more careful of what I write down here... Let's see:

"Real pulp fiction is *tight* storytelling": "tight" is a word that is often applied to masculinity. It means that men are tight, as women are not (they are fragile, loose, all that). So, I implied that pulp fiction is male, as opposed to long and chatty bestselling novels (which, in due course, are feminine).

Furthermore, I implied that Dan Brown is a "whining guy". Now, that could mean that I think he's a feminine man, since in heterosexual discourse real men are not supposed to whine. Brown is not tight and he whines, so I have to exclude him from my literary canon. That also shows when I say that he has "monologues" instead of "dialogue". Does this mean that "dialogue", i.e. action (Hemingway), is masculine and "monologues" are feminine, eternal dwelling in one's thoughts only.

We could also claim that "tight" is something that is not penetrated. There's of course man's hard outer shell through which nothing is shown, but there's also the rectum. Pulp fiction is tight, so it is unpenetrable, covered by a hard outer shell. Dan Brown is not tight - I want to ask if that applies also to his rectum.

Oh well, now this got out of hand... I just hope Dan Brown reads this!

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Da Vinci Code

I read Dan Brown's bestseller "The Da Vinci Code" on Christmas holiday. It was a huge disappointment, even though some friends of mine had warned me that it's not a very good novel.

It sure isn't. First of all, it's badly written: there are sentences like "He shot the cops and the blood splattered all over" (this was translated back from Finnish). The characters are worse than cardboard. Someone said to me that this is modern pulp fiction, but hell no! Real pulp fiction is tight storytelling and not some whining guy delivering us lengthy monologues stripped straight from pseudoscientific non-fiction books as dialogue. And the romance in the book! Jeez! I could write better romance even when I was six years old.

The plot moves along pretty nicely, but there are moments when you have to think that the main people in the book are just dupes. Everyone can see that it's da Vinci's notes written backwards (I can even read the words), but not the best cryptologist in France, not the leading occult semiology in the Western world and not the best Grail expert in the world. They spend 20 pages wondering what this is! C'mon, everyone can do better than that!

I managed to get through the book, but I said today to Elina that this must be the worst book ever given its success and how much it has been talked about. (I was writing an article about it for Turun Ylioppilaslehti and tried to come up with the catchy ingress.)

(I was paraphrasing my father, former movie critic, who once said that "Titanic" is the worst movie in the world given the money spent on it.)

Read some real pulp fiction instead! I was reading some Finnish Formula paperbacks from the mid-eighties and they were much better than Brown's boring totem. They were crisp and fast and while the characters were cliched, they were full-blooded (while Brown's characters are not). The books are about Kosti Cavander, the famous Finn formula driver, and the books were written and published in the wake of Keke Rosberg's success in the early eighties. The books didn't sell very well, though, and the line was cancelled after two years in publication.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

pHinn on Pink Floyd

After my fiery accusation towards Pink Floyd, pHinn wrote in his own blog (

"Except I have to digress about Pink Floyd, Juri. Yes, it's true, pHinn is not just a closet Pink Floyd fan any more! Syd Barrett-era is the best for me, of course, but I'd be a big liar, if I didn't say I wouldn't have been listening a lot of their post-Syd albums too.

I love their atmospheric cinematic soundscapes (I always get chills listening to those synths on 'Shine On You Crazy Diamond'), and their pioneering use of editing and segueing tracks plus sound effects (e.g. on Dark Side of the Moon) I see paving the way for the later electronic music and sampling too. Some favourite Floyd tracks of mine: 'Careful With That Axe'/'Come Out Number 51, Your Time Is Up' (the version used in the "Apocalypse Scene" of the film Zabriskie Point) -- if you can, listen to those versions following each other: it starts as a slow atmospheric drone and just explodes at the end, blows my mind every time. 'Echoes' and 'One of These Days' -- just hypnotic, with Roger Waters' funky bass. Only with The Wall Waters' egomania got too much for me, but I even like that one half-much (post-Waters albums I don't even rate).

Of course every good punk worth their salt is supposed to hate the Pinkies, thanks to Johnny Rotten's famous "I Hate Pink Floyd" T-shirt (which should have had "Genesis" instead of Floyd, methinks), but I've just been listening to my favourite album from John Lydon's (a.k.a. J. Rotten) post-Pistols project Public Limited Image, Second Edition (a.k.a. Metal Box), and I've have to say, with Jah Wobble's immortal liquid basslines, eerie soundscapes with chilly synths and all, even this album has its Floyd-esque moments! There's a little bit of Pink Floyd everywhere, eh? Ha ha, you old punks and wanna-be punks!"

pHinn is of course right and we should all keep our minds open to any kinds of music. Sometimes these things are a mystery. I just couldn't listen to Pink Floyd (with the exception of the Syd Barrett tracks). I just couldn't.

Later we should discuss pulp fiction. Right?

Trip to Kemi

We came back from a six-day tour to Kemi, which is very north up in Finland. It's almost Lapland - not quite. Some people - especially the travel department in the city administration - call it Sea-Lapland (Meri-Lappi) but it won't stick.

Kemi is a place where my wife, Elina, was born and raised. Her parents are moving out to Hämeenlinna in South Finland to be closer to their grandson, Kauto. So this was the last time we visited there. And it was a nice time, indeed. There's practically no snow in Turku, but there was plenty in Kemi. It was nice to see some frosted trees. They are beautiful. (If there's an exact word for that in English, I don't know what it is.)

But the trip itself... ugh. It takes 8,5 hours to get to Kemi from Turku. We travel by train, since we don't want to support something as unecological as aeroplanes. (And they are mighty expensive, too...) Kauto was amazingly patient, given that he's only four months old. We were prepared for much much worse. Luckily nothing happened - except that Kauto shat his pants just before Toijala and the stuff went up to his neck!

We won't have to do the trip anymore, as I said (if we don't want to go skiing in Lappi for holidays, which we probably don't). But it's always somewhat saddening to leave a town you've just become acquainted with. I don't know why, it's just a gut feeling.

There are also some good flea markets and two second hand book stores in Kemi. On this trip, I found a very nice American early fifties overcoat ("Made for Hollywood") - it was almost in mint condition and cost only, believe it or not, three euros (which is close to 4 US dollars, if I'm correct). In Southern Finland it would've cost ten times that and I shudder to think what it would've cost in some vintage shop in the UK... I already have a nice dark green fedora... Private eye pictures, anyone?

I'm listening to a compilation called "100 % Dynamite", which presents ska, soul, rocksteady and funk from Jamaica. Some very good tunes thrown in with the usual reggae stuff. I like especially Brentford All Stars' "Greedy G". It has a riff I knew from thousand hip hop tracks, but never knew where it came from. There's also Sound Dimension's "Granny Scratch Scratch", which also has a great riff. I have to teach these things to my son. "All you need is a good riff, mon."

Wednesday, January 05, 2005


It seems that I ramble here about music I listen to when I work. Now it was Flamin' Groovies, a band I hadn't previously heard. Their reputation has been great, so I thought that this might be kind of stuff. Sadly, no. It was very light surfish pop, with some good melodies thrown in, but I seem to have grown out of this kind of thing. The guitar riff in "Teenage Head" (great title, BTW!) is absolutely spot on, but I think Lime Spiders played it better in their cover version (or was it Miracle Workers?).

Earlier today I listened to John Cale's collection "The Island Years". His version of "Heartbreak Hotel" was very good and impressive.

Review (bits in Finnish only)

This was meant to appear in Turun Sanomat, the local newspaper, but for some reason it never did. It's a review of the Finnish translation of "Pulp Frictions", a pulp anthology compiled by Peter Haining (1996). It's a problematic book. I like the idea of old pulp stories put together, but then he throws in a random example of an Elmore Leonard novel and the Watch monologue from Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction"! I don't get it.

There's also a problem with Samuel Fuller's contribution (I may yet to write on Sam Fuller's pulp fiction and novel writing in Pulp, my fanzine). Haining has digged (dug?) up a story from Underworld Magazine from the thirties, but according to everyone's research there has never been the issue Haining points to. (It *is* possible that Haining has only issue in the world, but has failed to tell anyone that...) Haining is reputed to be a failing researcher and bibliographer or so I've heard, so I think this is only a mistake on his part.

So, here's the review. The book was translated in two parts and this is only the first part. I haven't read the second part in Finnish.

Sekava kokoelma kioskidekkareita

Pulp eli lyhyesti kioskikirjallisuus on muotia. Se on ollut Yhdysvalloissa ja Englannissa muotia jo pitkään, mutta näyttää siltä, että buumi on pikku hiljaa rantautumassa Suomeenkin. Englantilaisen Peter Hainingin pulp-dekkareita esittelevä antologia Pulp Frictions ilmestyi alun perin jo 1996, mutta suomeksi se saadaan vasta nyt. Book Studion julkaisemana se on saanut omituisen nimen Kovaksi keitetyt – nimi viittaa lajityypin tyyli-ihanteisiin, mutta yleensä sanapari kirjoitetaan kyllä yhteen.
Pulp Frictions (jonka saa mm. Turun kaupunginkirjastosta) on iso kirja, mutta Book Studio on jostain syystä päättänyt julkaista kirjan kahdessa osassa. Tämä tekee kirjalle hallaa, koska Hainingin pitkät kirjailijaesittelyt viittaavat nyt sellaisiin novelleihin, joita tässä teoksessa ei vielä ole!
Haining on tunnettu, mutta ei aina kovin luotettavana pidetty kokoomateosten toimittaja ja viihdekirjallisuuden populaarihistorioitsija, ja Pulp Frictions on yhden lajityypin esittely aina 1920-luvulta näihin päiviin. Haining on poiminut tarinoita ns. pulp-lehdistä ja muista lehdistä, joita hän ja muut keräilijät ovat löytäneet.
Ajallinen skaala on kirjassa turhan laaja eivätkä tarinat nivoudu toisiinsa mielekkäällä tavalla – vaikuttaa siltä, että Haining on vain iskenyt yhteen tarinoita, joita hän on lehdistä löytänyt. Stephen Kingin miestenlehtinovelli "Viides viipale" vuodelta 1972 on selvästi mukana kirjassa vain myynnin takaamiseksi – tarina on vähän tavanomainen juttu rikollisten välisistä selvittelyistä.
Sama pätee Quentin Tarantinoon, jonka kirjoittama sinänsä hauska monologi "Kello" on peräisin Pulp Fiction –elokuvasta. Se ei kiinnosta proosana.

Klassikot ovat
maineensa arvoisia

Kovaksi keitetyissä parasta antia ovat klassikot. Dashiell Hammettin ensimmäinen rikosnovelli, alun perin Peter Collinsonin nimellä julkaistu "Tuhopoltto lisukkein" (1923), yllättää nasevalla tyylillään ja iskevällä kerronnallaan. Monikaan Hammettin jälkeläisistä ei pystynyt vastaavaan, vaikka juoni ei olekaan kovin kiinnostava. James M. Cainin "Maalaisidyllissä" (1945) on karmiva tarina, vaikka Postimies soittaa aina kahdesti –romaanista tuttu Cain onkin valinnut tyylilajiksi tylsähkön murrejutustelun. Jim Thompson, 50-luvun legendaarinen kioski-dostojevski, aloittaa novellinsa "Mutkia matkassa" (1957) tehokkaasti, mutta lopetukseen tultaessa tyylilaji vaihtuu huonoksi huumoriksi.
Muut novellit ovat vähän mitä sattuu. Yliarvostetun Cornell Woolrichin "Pystyyn kuollut" (1935) vakuuttaa kuvauksena pula-ajan maratontansseista, mutta siitä paljastuu, että Woolrich ei osannut humoristista kerrontaa eikä luoda kiinnostavaa mysteeriä. Mickey Spillane ei ole koskaan ollut hyvä, minkä todistaa staattinen "Hellät heilutukset" (1953).
Englantia kirjassa edustava Peter Cheyney oli Spillaneakin huonompi eikä tekoamerikkalaista dialogia pursuava "Siisti juttu" (1936) asiaa muuksi muuta. Muuten Cheyney on kyllä kiinnostava hahmo, joka välitti amerikkalaiset ihanteet pahasti vääristyneinä eurooppalaiselle lukijakunnalle ja oli suomalaisenkin lukijakunnan ensimmäisiä kosketuksia kovaksikeitettyyn dekkariin. Hainingin esittelystä on suomennoksessa jätetty pois viittaus Cheyneyn jälkeläisiin, sellaisiin kuten 50-luvun Ben Sarto ja sittemmin kansainvälisille vakoilumarkkinoille siirtynyt Hank Jason.
Kirjallisuushistoriallisesti kiinnostava on Carroll John Dalyn "Egyptin hurma" (1928), koska Daly yhdessä Hammettin kanssa aikoinaan aloitti koko lajityypin Race Williams –tarinoillaan. Tämä onkin ensimmäinen virallisesti suomennettu Williams-novelli – aiemmin niitä on ollut vain Seikkailujen Maailma –nimisessä lehdessä 30- ja 40-luvuilla eli aivan tuoreeltaan.
Kovaksi keitettyjen toisessa osassa esitellyiksi tulevat sellaiset kiinnostavat nimet kuin ohjaajana paremmin tunnettu Samuel Fuller, sekopäinen Robert Leslie Bellem ja Asfalttiviidakosta muistettu W.R. Burnett, jonka novelli "Travelling Light" on alkuperäisen teoksen helmiä.
Muuten sapiskat Book Studiolle huonosta antologiavalinnasta – maailmalla olisi ollut parempaakin tarjolla. Matti Rosvall kääntää hyvin, kun kyse on hyvästä jutusta – huonot eivät ole häntäkään selvästi innostaneet.
Juri Nummelin

Peter Haining (toim.): Kovaksi keitetyt. Pulpin parhaat. Suom. Matti Rosvall. Book Studio 2000.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

This is still new to me, I don't know yet how often I will post here. I fear this thing would take too much of my time and yet I know that I'm totally capable of doing my work at the same time. But furthermore, I have several ideas of what to post here. I don't know how I will be able to manage my time...

I start by shouting out loud that Pink Floyd is a crap band! Total crap. I tried to give them a break and took a best of collection (nicely produced, not some cheap edition you'd probably except from above) from a library. I couldn't listen to it. I just couldn't. I first said to Elina that this is just wanking, but then I had to correct that it's not since no one's getting an orgasm out of it. There were two pieces with Syd Barrett (strangely no "Lucifer Sam") and they were nice pop music with a twist. The rest was just a twist. (I also hate the film, what's it called now, ah, I seem to forget. But I hate it. One of the worst movies of all time.)

I also tried to listen to Andrew W.K. What a bunch of crap that was. Lousy 80s heavy metal with no irony in sight.

Luckily there was Coral's "Nightfreaks etc." at hand.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Belated thanks

Uh... I forgot to mention pHinn's own blog at and also Ed Gorman's blog at Those also got me started. Erkki, you know who you are.


Bad sleeping

Usually people have a vacation when they need rest. I decided to start working again when I found out that the vacation had lost its power and was sleeping badly. I don't know what caused it - was it the Christmas lights or was it just stress over Christmas ending or something like that. Whatever it was, I switched off the (stupid) Xmas lights and started working today at 6:05. I wrote bits of the new ending for my human relationship novel and then I started doing the layout for my own magazine, Pulp (which comes out four times a year and handles pulp fiction). Then Kauto and Elina woke up and I spent some time with them. Then I did some more work. Now I'm feeling washed out. This blogging seems to be somekind of excuse to delay going to sleep.

I'm listening to Pepe DeLuxe's "Beatitude" which has quite nice moments in it, but as in Don Johnson Big Band, I'm having mixed thoughts. The groove bits are great, but when they slow down, it becomes a bit stereotypical and, hm, yes, boring.

Thanks to James Reasoner

Thanks to James Reasoner, whose own blog, Rough Edges, I read fairly regularly, I decided to up my own blog. This is the first posting.

I still don't know what language I will eventually use, but at first I'd like to try English.

See you soon.