Tuesday, May 31, 2005


I had promised to be at two o'clock at a nearby café for an interview. A fellow was coming down from Tampere just to interview me about "White Heat". He called me at 14.09 and said that he was a bit late. I go: "Fuck! I forgot!" I was alone with Kauto at home and couldn't go anywhere. I said to the guy, telling that I was very sorry and very embarrassed, that the only chance to get the interview done is to come to visit our place. So he did. Kauto was fortunately in a very good mood and let us do the stuff.

You don't always know whether what you speak makes any sense. Let's hope it does now. It seems I spoke for an hour and I just know that the guy will be in trouble when he has to cut it down to some 400 words. We were talking about the future of the cinema and the possible lines of evolution it will take. I said the cinema in the sense of Lumière won't go away for a long time, but the movies may be shorter in the future, so that people would be able to see the whole film in 20 minutes or so with their mobile equipments. I hope this makes sense. (I don't know if I hope it will happen.)

The guy took a picture of me with the poster of Viidakon valkoinen Pongo when I said that I'd like to write a history of cinema seen from the other side: the trash, cheapo, pulpy side, the wrong side of the tracks. I also said that I might be doing in the future a history of the animated cinema. We'll see about that.

Monday, May 30, 2005

The cabin weekend

Got back safely from the cabin in the Finnish peninsula. It was very quite and peaceful, with the exception of the children that we had along: Kauto, my daughter Ottilia and Anni, the daughter of our friends, Juhis and Sari, who's four (almost five). Together they made a lot of noise.

But boy, oh boy, was it quiet! I heard a crow barking in a tree - this is quite rare. I also heard a squirrel go up and down the tree - and I was a hundred meters away! We also heard either a fox or a tomcat. We couldn't make out. It was a strange, howling and meowing sound at the same time.

I also got bitten by something, while no one else even noticed any mosquitos around. I am sure that the only mosquito in the island of Kimito smelled me from 40 kilometers and buzzed over just to bite me. It itches like hell.

For some reason, my holiday wasn't as perfect as I'd hoped it to be, since I didn't get to go the "city" of Dalsbruk and have a cup of tea and wander around the small center. But hey, that's pretty minor. And I got to throw some frisbee - it was great, I should be doing it regularly. We also went rowing with Ottilia. I'm no rower, but we did a nice trip. Ottilia most certainly admired me.

The best part was that Kauto learned finally to walk! He took several steps several times - usually when he was going toward Ottilia and Anni who played with him. Kauto was thrilled himself - and so were we.

Friday, May 27, 2005

The true identity of Bill Adler

You Americans should've told me... or I should've taken a better look at the book I bought: Bill Adler who penned "Who Killed the Robins Family?" with Thomas Chastain was no amateur. He was (is?) a book agent and an author of many books, even before the mystery novel. And it was no contest where the plot came from - I don't know where I got that idea. The contest was for the public to reveal the killers in the book. The back of the afore mentioned novel contains the contest for the next book, "The Revenge of the Robins Family".

Just woke up in the middle of the night to tell you this. Leaving for cabin in three hours. The police hasn't as yet come to ask me about the missing toilet paper. Hmm.. I can picture that: "Joe Novak and the Case of the Missing Toilet Paper". I forgot to tell you that I started writing a new Joe Novak story, called "The Case of the Missing Treasure Map". It's for the pirate issue of Isku. It will be funnier and more parodic than "The Case of the Walking Sticks". This one will be almost farce, with no real mystery to the plot.

One more quote from Vathek before we leave. I managed to read this last night and had to go sleep, totally washed out:

"The good emir, who was punctiliously religious, and likewise a great dealer in compliments, made a harangue five times more prolix and insipid than his harbingers had already delivered."

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Leaving books behind

I sent the corrected drafts of "White Heat" back to the publisher. Now it's completely out of my hands. I had to do the last draws in a hurry and I felt a bit confused. Hey, that should've been been this way and this that way and where's that and where did I put this... Aargh!

It's always a bit sad to leave a book behind. At least like this, when you don't feel you've done everything you can to make it as good as you can - that's what I feel: it's unfinished. I feel, for some reason, that "White Heat" is a very uneven book. I said this to Elina and she said that maybe I'll be the only who feels it's uneven. "Maybe others won't notice anything." I certainly hope so.

Maybe I should think like Mika Waltari who said he never reads his books when he finishes them. He just doesn't think about them. Well, to each his own.

We are leaving for a cabin weekend tomorrow morning. Ottilia is here and she's also very confused: she's having the daycare's Spring party tonight (and she'll be performing something) and her mother is moving this weekend and I'll bring her back to their new apartment on Sunday. No wonder she feels nervous...

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


I checked the more recent edition of Hubin's crime bibliography at the university library (I was ordering some Kipling items to check for the bibliography; hey, I take this thing seriously!) and found out that the Bill Adler-Thomas Chastain novel "Who Killed the Robins Family" wasn't a paperback novel in the first place. The first edition was a hardback from Morrow, the paperback came later. Adler and Chastain did a sequel, with a catchy, but rather inept title "The Revenge of the Robins Family". I wonder if this was already a collaboration between the two - the first Robins book came out of the publisher's contest for new plots.

I wonder what Adler has been doing since (these were from the mid-seventies). Has he tried to come up with more plots? Has he tried to write something himself? Wait.. there is a Bill Adler who has written books about Bill Cosby and Sinatra and buying a house.. and wait, there's more. Bill Adler and Bruce Cassiday wrote a book "Murder Game: There's a $10,000 Reward for Solving the Crime. It Could Be Yours". It must be the same guy. (And Cassiday was - as everyone reading my books knows - a veteran pulpster and paperbacker who survived the industry's many crises, but didn't gain much fame.)

At the university library I also ordered an old translation of a Lafcadio Hearn. And then I stole some toilet paper from the men's room. As you probably know, we have a paper industry strike going on and the stores have no toilet paper. The pains of a scholar!

We just watched a stupid space movie called "Red Planet". It was so stupid I don't even bother to link it. Just wanted to let you know that the novelization was by Peter Telep and came in 2000 from Ace.

Now, off to bed.


Okay, since Jukkahoo prompted me...

Has anyone read William Beckford's "Vathek"? It's not very long - I have a Four Square paperback, with 122 pages - and I thought I'd read it in a jiffy. No way, man! Maybe I've been reading too much vintage hardboiled past ten years and can't get along with anything else, but, hey, this guy writes stuffed prose. I'll quote:

"The Caliph [Vathek] happened at this instant to be engaged in an apartment by no means adapted to the reception of embassies, though adorned with a certain magnificence, not only to render it agreeable, but also because he resorted to it frequently, and stayed a considerable time together."

"This dreadful device was executed with so much dexterity, that the boy, who was approaching him, remained unconscious of the fate of his forerunner; and as to the spectators, the shades of evening, together with their distance, precluded them from perceiving any object distinctly."

What was I thinking?! The book is from the 1780's. There were no hardboiled stylists pitching clear prose at the time.

Maybe I was thinking that Beckford could be close to Daniel Defoe (one of my heroes), who is almost as lucid as can be. But Beckford belongs to a different school altogether. He's supposed to have written this in three days, but I don't buy that. You can't come up with those sentences if you're writing that fast.

The story is wonderful, though (from what I can make of it). Vathek, the Caliph, knows everything in the world, but wants more. He meets a weird being, looking like a man, who says he holds secrets Vathek has no way of knowing. First, he insists that 500 young boys are offered to him as a sacrifice (see the above sentence), and then he vanishes and leaves Vathek in a state of confusion. Mohamet is one of the characters - well, actually he appears in only one scene (so far) saying to the djinns (or whatever) that Vathek deserves his faith.

I should read the dumb-downed version if there was one. I've read the Finnish translation some 15 years ago, but it's from the early twenties and very rare and I have never seen it for sale. At the time I got it via the inter-library loan. Now that I'm supposed to write about Vathek for the horror reference book, I thought I'd better read the original text.

(By the way, the Kipling incident Jukkahoo was referring to was about the same reference book we are editing. One of the contributors sent his entry for Kipling, but with no bibliography at all. I had to do it myself. Elina asked why I just didn't ask the guy to do it, but I said that I couldn't trust him anymore with an important task such as this.)


Kauto is walking! He goes on for several steps - of course he's keeping hold from something, chairs or a sofa etc. Now he's pushing the chair (keeping a plastic lemon in his other hand) and stopping only because he bumped into me.


I was also going to write about the closing of the candy factory here in Turku, but now it's time to take a shower. Z movies: more later. Beware of the "Devil Monster"!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Positive comments

Something nice this time... sorry for sounding so sour the last time.

Well, actually, not so nice things. Maybe I'll get to them in the end. At least I'm listening to the wonderful "Intiaanidisko" by TV-Resistori - nothing can go wrong, if you listen to these guys and gals. (And the photos in the cover of the CD are taken by our very own Tero and Susanna! Hail the conquering heroes!)

But some items from today:

I was doing the index for "White Heat" and then I asked my editor some details and found out that I shouldn't have done it yet, but only after the layout was ready! AAAAAARGH! And it's such a boring job.

My back started suddenly to ache and I ordered time for massage. When I got ready to leave, I noticed that I had no money. Elina had nothing either. It started to rain like hell when I cycled first to the money machine and then to the massager. I was soaking wet when I got there. I sent Elina a text message with one word: FUCK. That's what I would've said if someone had been nearby.

Then I went to get the key to the cabin we are going to next weekend with Ottilia and couple of friends of ours. The guy from the journalists' union's office said he'll be there, but then the m**********r wasn't! The doors were closed, lights were out.

I decided to drop by a second hand book store I rarely visit. The store sells mostly porn on VHS and DVD, but they have some books. It seems someone has brought there the collection of a university scholar - there are lots of books about ecology, philosophy, anthropology etc, with the same signature in every book. It looks as if someone has died and the relatives have taken the books to the nearest book seller. As a result, they haven't got as much money as they would deserve.

Now I bought a book about Soviet art by John Berger and two Finnish books, Antero Järvinen's book about the cultural history of animals and Yrjö Hirn's "Island in the Ocean", the new edition to replace my old and rather crubby copy. It's a wonderful book about Robinson Crusoe, his ancestors and other relatives. It was published first in 1922 and is still one of the best literary studies made in Finland. I don't know whether it's been translated - it should be.

And then - sudden change of mood - I bought a hardcore sex Western novel by one John Savage. It's called "Ropes and Spurs" (1996) and it's a sadomasochistic novel set in a town somewhere in the Wild West. They find a canyon with a lost tribe that keeps its women tied all the time, just for the sake of being able to punish them all the time. Wild, huh? I just wonder if this John Savage is the same John Savage who wrote "A Shady Place to Die" for Dell in 1957. The Abebook seller says this:

"The only witness to the last of Mack Anderson was a lone coyote stalking the deserted cave. No one at the mining camp missed him. Who would have thought his deserted and abused wife would start looking for him now?"

I don't think so... Would you start writing hardcore porn after having written one novel 40 years ago? Maybe the man needed the money. There were other books of the same kind by Savage, so he must be churning these out by the dozen.

And then I got home, refreshed. It's always refreshing to buy porn paperbacks. The store was full of videos with women getting the creme on their face etc. The guy who runs it looks a bit sleazy. Your hands get tacky after a while and you have to get out. But I came out four books richer and only 12 euros poorer. That's not bad.

I've been forgetting to blog about books I've been buying. I went to a small book festival a week ago where the books cost only 2 euros each max. There was a bookseller with lots of English and American paperbacks for one euro each - but almost only writers like Margery Allingham! I managed to find these:

A.A. Fair: An Axe to Grind (these have been praised lately, so I decided to give them a try, hardboiled screwball comedy)
Wilkie Collins: The Moonstone
John D. MacDonald: One Monday We Killed Them All (I'm not very fond of JDM, as almost everyone else seems to be, but this has a catchy title)
Zane Grey: The Vanishing American (a Grey title that hasn't been translated)

Earlier I visited the book shop of Åbo Akademi, the Swedish-speaking university of Turku, where they sell the double copies of the books and books they don't need. I bought for 15 cents each:

Budd Schulberg: The Harder They Fall (the classic about boxing)
Calder Willingham: End as a Man
Gore Vidal: In a Yellow Mood (these two go for my future dissertation about noir in American literature..)
James Jones: The Thin Red Line (so does this)
Christopher Isherwood: Mr. Norris Changes Trains
James T. Farrell: Bernard Carr
Amos Tutuola: the Finnish translation of "The Palm Wine Drinkard" which is a great masterpiece, highly recommended
Alistair MacLean: Fear Is the Key (hardback, no DJ; we live in hard times when I get interested in Alistair MacLean; this one has a good title, though)
Bill Adler & Thomas Chastain: Who Killed the Robins Family? (paperback novel, written by pro Chastain from the plot made by Adler who won the publisher's contest - I don't know if there are many novels of this kind)

Enough for today... I also spent some time in Imdb looking for stuff on grade Z films. Let me get back on those after a while. And remind me that I make some remarks about reading Vathek by William Beckford.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Annoying people everywhere

I'm not neurotic or paranoid in any meaning of the word (at least I hope so; my ex-wife might have something to say about this) and I get along with most of the people, but still I often feel that there are people who annoy me a great deal and I wouldn't want to have anything to do with them and still I have to.

For some reason, these people have often something to do with magazines or other media - they are editors who always seem to know what's best and clearly and loudly announce it and just won't listen to other people. Usually they have something negative to say, more than positive. It drives me crazy. I know I'm sometimes thought to be on a high horse (or what's the phrase again?) and one of my best friends has said that when he got to know me, he was a bit afraid of me, because I was so self-confident. One of Elina's friends has said the same. But it's always these same editors who get to me, get under my skin, get me to my feet. And then they think I'm difficult. Ha!

An example of a screwy editor: I heard a pretty good book critic complain that the editor of a book column wouldn't take her writings anymore, without giving a good reason. I couldn't point anything bad about the writer's reviews and she had written for the column for years (well, at least two years, but you get the idea). It must something personal - something between the editor and the writer. Which is never a passable reason to dismiss someone's writings. I wouldn't for life of mine say to a writer that I wouldn't publish anything by him/her in Isku or Pulp just because I don't like the person.

There are other examples, but I won't go into details, so that I won't lose my jobs... Actually, at the moment, I hate writing small pieces for magazines. I'd like to quit that altogether and concentrate on my books. (And Pulp on the side.) Maybe the editors I'm talking about would sigh in a relief.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Comment change

I changed the blog's settings so that anyone can now post comments, not only those who have their own blogs. So, now I'm waiting a flood of comments from everyone! The curse of Yog-Sothoth on those who don't post comments...

Friday, May 20, 2005

Work-related news

The Dostoyevsky Reel: I finished polishing off the Joe Novak novel. It turned out to be longer than I mentioned earlier, with 38 000 words. Still not very long. I did a quick layout on Pagemaker: 144 slim paperback pages. It would make a very nice PBO. Sent this to Tapani who promised to say something about it. Still don't know what to do about the book: the Finnish publishers won't touch it, I know that for sure.

The Blood Orgy of the Void God: Still something to do about this. I decided to take off some characters. The poets John Milton and William Blake were there, but I couldn't do anything funny with them, so I decided to kill them. (Well, actually that sounds funny: I could send them to battle the anti-Christ (it's not actually anti-Christ who they are dealing with) and get them shot off in the beginning. But, nah, I think I'll pass... still...)

White Heat: The publisher sent me drafts and I began to read them with a pen. It's goddam 429 pages long (plus the index)!

The horror reference book: Wrote entries for Lafcadio Hearn and Peter Ackroyd. Googled for Iain Sinclair and his poem "Lud Heat" (1975) that served as an inspiration for Ackroyd's "Hawksmoor". Must go to London some day, just to see those Hawksmoor churches. The guy was a Satan worshipper and designed churches in the middle of London! At least, that's what Sinclair and Ackroyd (and Alan Moore in "From Hell") tell me. Added some stuff for August Derleth.

Pulp 2/05: Got these from the press yesterday. The pains of a small press publisher: I took them home in the back of my bike! The foreword had a headline from the previous issue, so I'll have to dabble with that before I send them on. It's an excellent issue, albeit a small one, with only 20 pages. James Reasoner is in it, with an article about the attempt to publish the German Jerry Cotton series in the US. Jukka Murtosaari writes about Bertil Hegland etc.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Cthulhu scam

As I was writing my (very unfunny) response to Bill's congrats below, I remembered this. It's a very funny anti-scam posting that includes also Cthulhu.. roaming free somewhere in Nigeria. Check it out.

Raisin Hell

We were having afternoon coffee and tea (I don't drink coffee) and couldn't have find anything else to eat except for some dried fruit and nuts. As we ate and Kauto picked up some raisins (with his own hands!), I said: "Imagine this place that sells only dried fruit, raisins, figs, dates, pineapples and such. It's a huge place, almost a mall and nothing else than those fruit. It's called Raisin Hell."

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Flea markets on tour

We went on a flea market tour with Tero and Susanna last weekend. Elina, Kauto and I took a train to Tampere on a Friday morning and met Tero and Susanna there and headed for Ikaalinen, Parkano and Kankaanpää, pretty small places in the Northern Satakunta, with population somewhere around 5000-10 000 (I'm not so sure about Kankaanpää, it could be bigger than that). It was a nice trip, even though Kauto wasn't so happy about it. As we don't have a car (and can't even drive one), he was pretty unaccustomed to just sit there and do nothing and not be able to move. He slept almost all the way back to Turku, luckily.

We thought that the flea markets in such small and pretty remote towns would be full of vintage stuff that no one had ever thought of buying, but would be ripped screaming out of hands in big cities. But, alas, no. The flea markets were all very neat and well kept and there were no exciting piles of clothes and ephemeral stuff we so much like. Tero and Susanna took some marvellous pictures, though, and I think this proved to be a worthy trip.

On Saturday, we went to Piikkiö and Paimio, two small towns close to Turku, with one or two flea markets. I found Patrick Hamilton's "Hangover Square" (1941) in a Penguin edition with a J.B. Priestley foreword. It's a British noir novel, set in the late 1800's and the lead man is a composer who thinks he should kill his girlfriend. And apparently, he does, but the poor guy doesn't remember a thing. John Brahm made this (rather freely, I must say) into a marvellous B picture in 1945, with only 65 minutes. Laird Cregar was in it and he was always a brilliant overactor when he did lunatics.

We also found a very funny early seventies toy LP player from Fisher-Price with the records intact, but the seller asked 20 euros for it, so we are still thinking. It's just so cute: check this out (scroll down to TY-o72). (There's other pictures of it in the web: just google with "Fisher-Price record player".) We are definitely thinking...

Thursday, May 12, 2005


In the midst of all the ruckus, I forgot to write about my birthday. Elina gave me two nice presents, even though I felt like I was some geek or at least a nerd: I got the extended DVD box of Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings and a plush Cthulhu! Especially the latter is wonderful. Check him out here.

And this is also very nice: a phototale of a plush Cthulhu taking over!

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Roger Buck Hill?

It seems I have a busy day at the blog office. Well, I have nothing to do and things I'd have to do I don't really feel like doing, such as take a shower and go to get some food...

I checked the copyright records for a Roger Hill at the US copyright website. It was stated there that the Roger Hill who wrote the three Knight Rider tie-in paperbacks in the eighties is the same Roger Hill who's been playing jazz saxophone for nearly fifty decades, under the alias Buck Hill. Can this be? How reliable these copyright records are? It seems pretty unbelievable or at least implausible that a jazz veteran would start writing pulp in his old days.

But here's his copyright records anyway:

ITEM 1. PAu-1-386-116: Jazz ballad / Roger "Buck" Hill. CLNA: Barney Music
ITEM 2. PAu-1-858-878: Mitzi. CLNA: Barney Music
ITEM 3. PAu-1-858-879: Lullaby of Loosdrecht. CLNA: Barney Music
ITEM 4. PAu-1-858-880: Blues in five for four or more. CLNA: Barney Music
ITEM 5. PAu-1-858-881: Bossa for sax. CLNA: Barney Music
ITEM 6. PAu-2-282-644: Griots groove / Buck Hill. CLNA: acBlack Entertainment Television ITEM 7. TX-1-249-952: Knight rider / Glen A. Larson and Roger Hill. CLNA: M C A Publishing, a division of M C A Communications, Inc.
ITEM 8. TX-1-295-156: Trust doesn't rust / Glen A. Larson and Roger Hill. CLNA: M C A Publishing, a division of M C A Communications, Inc.
ITEM 9. TX-1-344-337: Hearts of stone / Glen A. Larson and Roger Hill. CLNA: M C A Publishing, a division of M C A Communications, Inc.
ITEM 10. TX-1-376-245: Clear de road : a Virgin Islands history textbook / written by Roger Hill ; illustrated by El'Roy Simmonds. CLNA: Government of the United States Virgin Islands, Bureau of Libraries, Museums & Archaeological Services

The last one is a book and can be found on WorldCat through Abebooks.

Still on Finnish tie-ins

I wrote (in February) about tie-ins and said this:

"Finland has been pretty slow to produce its own novelizations. There are some, though. Katri Manninen who has later gained some fame for her fitness books started out writing books on the Salatut Elämät (Secret Lives) soap series. My pal Tapani Bagge wrote his first novel (after many pseudo- and anonymous paperbacks) on a TV series called Pelastajat (it's about fire men). But this was in the nineties and I can't think of any previous examples."

I should've mentioned the paperback Markku Selin published when his and his buddy Renny Harlin's first film, "Born American/Jäätävä polte" was out. The book was written by Hyeena Hämäläinen, who's a pretty prolific Finnish mystery writer (and former surf guitarist). The publisher was actually Kustannus 21, and the film is called "Arctic Heat". But clearly this was Selin's idea of publishing a real American-style tie-in paperback. I don't think the book sold very well, but would love to hear corrections.

Kustannus 21 published also humour column books by Jammu and Veikko Ennala.

The film, by the way, seems to stir up controversy and conflicting thoughts even now. Check out the IMDb comments site here. One of them says:

"This film makes me want to stay home and thank God every day that I live in such a wonderful country. Even the good guy turned out to be a bad guy in "Born American". Shook me to my foundations."

How to get a flat stomach in just one day

I've been translating, as I've noted here before, Jason Starr's excellent novel "Nothing Personal". One of the lead characters, Leslie Sussman, is having anorectic attacks and vomits everything she eats, telling everyone she's got some sort of virus. She loses weight and his husband, advertising prick called David Sussman, notices that Leslie is indeed looking better and thinks: maybe this virus is not such a bad thing after all. In the mean time he's having an affair from hell with a young woman called Amy Lee.

And, yes, I just found out that throwing everything up works miracles. I got, maybe from yoghurt I ate last Monday night, stomach complaint and threw up everything I ate. And we had to go to Helsinki to talk about our talkkuna book (it was the Day of Books and Roses and there was this huge book carneval). I said to Elina that I can't come. They left without me and after lying down a while I decided that I'll take the next train. Everything went alright, until I got back on the train. I vomited five times during the two-hour trip back to Turku (actually the first half of it). It was embarrassing to go to the toilet again and again, especially when the car was full of people. They must've been thinking I've got hangover.

Today I've been slightly better. Nothing has come up since the trip and I slept for at least ten hours, but I'm still weak and wouldn't want to do anything. (Except that I had to write down the results of my students' exams. It would've been boring even if had been healthy.) But I just noticed that I've now got a flat stomach. I just wonder what I have to do keep it that way...

Seriously, I can't imagine how anorectic people can throw up everything they eat. They must feel dizzy and drowsy all the time. And what their breath must be like... Maybe you get used to it. And what price awaits those who are patient! A flat stomach. Now, I can't really think of anything more important!

Monday, May 09, 2005

Isku # 2

The new issue of Isku came just out of printers last Wednesday and has hopefully reached at least some of the subscribers. It's an excellent issue, with a vintage story from 1960 by Seppo Tuisku, who has been a prominent figure in the Finnish pulp fiction from the late fifties on. He edited mags like Jerry Cotton and FinnWest and taught many writers the craft of fiction. One of them is Tapani Bagge, who also has a story in the new Isku. There's also a translation of a Molly Brown story - she's a rising author from Great Britain (although I just heard that she was born in the US).

Other writers are Petri Salin, Helena Numminen, Hannu Väisänen and me. Also the Isku stalwart Petri Hirvonen is there with a punching story from Chile in 1983! My story is a Joe Novak story, "The Case of the Walking Sticks". There isn't as much parody as in my other Novaks, it's a rather classical hardboiled PI story. This is maybe explained by the fact that the first draft was written in 1987! I remember scribbling it with a pen in a notebook. Even after several rewrites I wasn't sure whether it really would merit a publication, but then Tapani read it and said: go ahead. (If it turns out turgid after all, please don't accuse Tapani.)

So, this is my third short story in print!

Thanks also to Lotta for the excellent translation of Molly Brown's story!

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Parties; Usual Suspects; August Derleth

We had a birthday party last night (I'll be 33 next Tuesday) and ended up having some 15 guests at our place. We had a wonderful time and had lots of booze and food (I made excellent warm noodle salad with plenty of hot curry sauce and sweet chili in it) and I even ended up dancing wildly to the sounds of raw nothern soul at the local club with Niko-Matti. There were some British DJ's visiting and they made the place rock. Or rather, funk.

Of course the morning wasn't so deligthful. Elina now has spent her first Mother's Day in a hangover!


I wrote earlier about Christopher McQuarrie's disappointing "Way of the Gun". I watched "Usual Suspects", Bryan Singer's tour de force film, last Friday night. I couldn't help thinking that it must be Singer who made the picture click. (With of course the actors. Excellent team work from everyone. And there's no sign of Tarantino-like showing off with one's actors: the men in Singer's film are almost nameless and faceless, yet very efficient and very much there, with a commanding presence.) McQuarrie wasn't able to deliver the goods alone, as "Way of the Gun" demonstrates.

I just wonder what went wrong with Singer. The Stephen King film "Apt Pupil" is confused at best and I just can't get myself interested in his X-Men films (that's partly due to the fact that I'm not very much into super heroes). I was wondering if it has something to do with the realization that you can't make a successful career in the New Hollywood with small-scale crime pictures, such as "Usual Suspects". I think the same happened with Tarantino. I wish he'd continued in the line of "Reservoir Dogs" and "Jackie Brown", but instead he made a pastiche party of cliches with "Kill Bill" (whose first part I just detested) and is going to redo a seventies Italian war film. And same has happened with other directors: John Dahl, whose attempts at SF were a disaster, Gary Fleder, who jumped to big serial killer movies...

There are some directors who don't seem to want to leave the genre, such as James Gray, whose "Little Odessa" was one of the best Hollywood films of the nineties. But he has almost faded to oblivion and obscurity after that. I have yet to see his "The Yards" (hey, Tapani, where's the tape?), but I don't think he'll rise again. I'll keep my fingers crossed, though.

There's also George Hickenlooper, whose films I've heard being praised, but whose "Persons Unknown" I saw with Joe Mantegna and Naomi Watts was rather messy, with the actors not really looking what they were supposed to look like (i.e. a drunk policeman or drug fiends). I don't really know what John McNaughton is doing at the moment, but his "Wild Things" is underrated, very fifties, very paperback original like film. And his "Normal Life" from 1996 went unnoticed by almost everyone even though it was an excellent little crime flick.


I was writing an entry for August Derleth, the horror and regional writer and the founder of Arkham House. When he was 30, he had already published sixteen books and tons of short stories in the pulps. Here I'm at almost 33 and have published eight books and three short stories.

Which, by the way, reminds me of the new issue of Isku that came out of the presses couple days back. I'll have to write about that later on.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Alien Resurrection

I said I'd write something about "Alien Resurrection", the fourth film in the Alien cycle, directed by the French Jean-Pierre Jeunet. I liked all the previous Alien films, even the James Cameron one, who gets usually dismissed by serious critics. David Fincher's Alien3 was, almost through the film, also an original piece of work. But the Jeunet film - what can I say? There are some nice moments. One that sticks in the mind is the one where aliens swim. It's a moment of true horror. The plot demise was original, at least for a Hollywood science fiction.

But the end of the film was awful. Stupid. Hilariously bad. There's a new generation of aliens, born out of the *womb* of the queen mother that has been bred with some genetic help from Lt. Ripley. And the f***ing new monster looks just ugly, a mix of a human skull and alien's neck bones. It dies in a very stupid and implausible way. The original aliens are very beautiful creations in comparison. You can see H.R. Giger was nowhere near the sets.

There's also a ridiculous scene in which Ripley, now the mother, meets her new-born baby. It recognizes her immediately. They start to touch each other. This is supposed to be a touching scene, mother and baby and all that. But it seems that their mutual touches are erotic, not the ones with which mother caresses her baby. This makes the confused movie look even more confused about its attitude towards sexuality and motherhood (themes that the feminist critics say are at the core of the all Alien films; well, maybe not "Alien vs. Predator").

Jeunet had made earlier some nice odd-ball pictures like "Delicatessen" that are full of gimmicks and black humour. I haven't seen them since they were in premiere, so I can't really give an objective (or a very good subjective) review of those. But to be honest, I hated "Amelie" that made him famous. It was supposed to wonderful fairy-tale of Paris and lovers and a loving pastice of old French films, but I thought it was neurotic and very absorbing, and not in a good sense. I couldn't understand why everyone said the film made them feel good. How come? The bitch in the lead only harassed other people.


I promised to say a word about Christopher McQuarrie's "Way of the Gun". Now, there's a promising project: a Peckinpahesque, hardboiled crime film about two losers kidnapping a young woman who's having a child for the rich couple who can't have their own. McQuarrie scripted "Usual Suspects" for Bryan Singer, the film I very much liked. But, no, no way. I don't think I will bother to check the whole film. I watched some twenty minutes of if after "Alien Resurrection", but had to give up. I didn't for a moment realize what the guys were actually doing and why. They were just louse-ups and that's that. No background, no explanation or motives for their action. In the post-Tarantino world, the film makers seem too easily to forget the rules of the classical cinema: always tell what the people are after.

(I know: it's the rule that the European new-wavers sought out to destroy, but then again there was a political agenda behind that and all the Brecht-derived theory about the alienating effect. It doesn't really seem to be the case with Mr. McQuarrie here.)

I asked my friend why I keep watching these films. Why don't I watch Anthony Mann, Yasujiro Ozu, Vsevolod Pudovkin..? Why torment myself? My friend didn't really know the answer.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Another poem (in Finnish)

I wrote one or two poems this morning, too, and the first of them turned out pretty fine.

Käsitteistö ei ole selvä:
linnut ovat vielä valtaamatta,
pesimäpaikat ovat spektaakkeli,
yhteiskunta vaatii meiltä sen mitä emme voi antaa,
itsemme, minämme, sen mikä meissä on meitä,
varjot laskeutuvat hitaasti,
se oli mennyttä kesää,
silloin en voinut vielä tietää mikä olisi osani tulevaisuudessa,
tiedänkö sen nyt,

kysyn sitä sinulta,
koska oletan että tiedät,
minut on siitetty drive-in –teatterin valossa
elokuvien keskellä,
huonojen sellaisten,

se on ulkomaiden taikaa,
Suomessa ei ole perinteisesti ollut drive-in –teattereita,
andalusialainen koira ja sen sellaiset,
mrs. miniver ja hänen kaikki tuskansa,
kuka sen läpäisee, kuka sen voi voittaa,
kaadettuamme meidän on jälleen nostettava,
lelut tietysti,
pienet muoviset numerot ja työkalut.

Tomorrow I'll say something about "Alien Resurrection" and "Way of the Gun" by Christopher McQuarrie.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Back from the universities

I bet everyone was bored reading my rant about universities. Let's get back to the Real World. My job and my writing are much more interesting issues... (Nah, just kidding.)

Kauto woke us up at six. Elina stayed in bed, but I rose and ate breakfast and Kauto played for an hour and then he went back to sleep. (They slept up till 9.30.) I cannot go back to sleep when I'm already awake and had breakfast, so I opened the computer and went to work. It turned out to be a pretty productive day. I finished a self-assigned typing job (more about that later: it's a business secret) and translated over five pages of Jason Starr's "Nothing Personal". Let me tell you: it's a great novel. One of the Great American Novels of the 1990's. I certainly hope that my translation will find a home. If not, I'll publish it myself. Then I dabbled with "The Dostoyevsky Reel". There was a ill-written scene with which I tampered for quite a while. I'm not very good at writing scenes with much happening and going on, people going in, sitting down, putting things into motion. But I hope it got better.

I also made a research on the fourties and fifties B films because the scene was situated in a drive-in. There's a double bill with Devil Bat's Daughter and The Magnetic Monster. My book takes place in 1957, so these are pretty old films, but then again the drive-in is a shabby place where there are no premieres (with the exception of the ones that the bad guy in the book produces). I've tried to base all the films mentioned in the ms. in reality, so that they really exist.

But this research took time, as I dwelved into the mysteries of IMDb. It's a fascinating world, the universe of forgotten B films and their makers. Who are they? Did they really care about the art, the cinema, misé-en-scene? It's also quite sad to read about people like Frank Wisbar who made only lousy B pictures after emigrating from Germany in the thirties. (Well, I know that some people are enthusiastic about this. I haven't seen it myself.)

Then I edited some texts for the forth-coming horror reference book (Diane Guest, Peter Straub and James Herbert) and sent them to Jukkahoo. Then I read my e-mail and then I wrote an interview with Vicki Hendricks, the queen of noir (or noirotica, since there are many erotic elements in her novels). At the moment I should be doing finishing touches on the female noir article I've been doing.

I also wrote poetry. I did it first thing in the morning. I've been writing poems on and off for some seven or eight years now, while earlier I wrote so many that I even published my own poetry mag, Blinkity Blank (1988-1997).

Here are the results (in Finnish, I'll try to translate one of them into English):

Kadulla tulevat vastaan
hiljaiset liituraidat,
poikittaiset sanat,
meille on varattu taivaspaikka
kuka minnekin,
minä menen yhdeksännelle piirille,
se on ansaitsemani rangaistus,
kuka tietää, mihin itse kuuluu,
paikat on varattu jo vuosia etukäteen,
ellei vuosituhansia.
Se on meemien valta,
se on yhteiskunnan tahto,
kuka astuu ovesta sisään,
kuka jää kynnykselle,
meidän ei kannata sanoa vastaan,
liituraitojen sanoma.


Lintu askeltaa minun kirjainteni ylitse:
se on tämän ajan vaade,
kirjeitse ilmoitettu ajatuksen katko,
valheelliset uutisoinnit
asioista jotka eivät ole ikinä tapahtuneet
eivätkä tapahdu,
eivätkä tule tapahtumaan,
kuka tämän tietää,


Tai vaietkoon iäksi:
se on tuntuma yhteiskuntaan.


Onko jollakulla vielä mahdollisuus
olla kadonnut, kadonnut löytyi kuolleena,
kieli vai ajatukset,
kumpi tulee ensin,
minä varaan mahdollisuuden erehtyä.


Hiljaiset liituraidat,
pakottakaa meidät ansaitsemaan,
saakaa meidät puhumaan,
itsemme pussiin, itseni ansaan:
tähän kieleen ovat muutkin langenneet.


Väkisin ansaittua rahaa,
leijailkaa kaduilla vastaan,
tuokaa meille ansaitsemamme skonssit:
jälkiruokien aatelit,
kuka vielä muistaa vuosien takaiset juhlat,
kuka vielä voi muistaa miltä tuntui olla osa yhteiskuntaa,
kuka vielä tietää, kuka voi tietää:
tästä on mentävä, ali tai yli,
ympäri käyden kohtaa oman turmionsa,
katsoo sitä suoraan silmistä sisään,
astuu sisään ikiomaan tuhoonsa,
vanhat autokauppojen interiöörit,
muinaiset sotilaiden univormut,
uudet, käsittelyaineelta haisevat ihmiset,
meille ei ole löytynyt tilaa enää vuosiin.


Now in English:

A bird steps over my letters:
it's a prerequisite for this age,
letterized rapture in thoughts,
unreliable news about things that have never taken place,
that don't take place,
that will never take place,
who knows anything about this,
come forward.

(Transl. by JN)