Tuesday, August 30, 2005

News on my fiction

As everyone reading these knows, I'm also a wanna-be fiction writer. Today there was some stuff on my fiction, so here's an update:

Tapani didn't want my story for the anthology he's editing. (At first the ideas of revenge kept crawling in my head, but then I remembered that I've rejected a story he was offering to Isku.) I was thinking that maybe I'll rewrite the story, but then again I think there's no use - unless I want another opinion from Tapani.

I noticed that a deadline for a SF/fantasy contest was almost at hand and hurried to make some revisions for my story I was going to send them. Today I sent it, but only after printing the story twice and making last-minute corrections. Fuck! I thought I could send a polished story for the contest.

I also thought about another story for a pulpy SF fanzine we are going to edit for the Helsinki university SF club with Jukkahoo. We just heard it should come out this year! Eegah!

But now I must hurry to the train station: my five minutes in Tampere is approaching.

Monday, August 29, 2005

The world's only Cthulhu sand pail

We found this with Elina couple weeks back from the Hämeenlinna recycling center. I think it's supposed to look like an octopus, but I also fear that the Ancient Gods have their hands in this. The designer at the toy factory must be a worshipper, sneaking this in the production line. Should I be afraid of the consequences of having bought this one and brought it to our home..?

An imaginary cover for my Joe Novak novel

On my death bed, I toddled with Photoshop and Pagemaker and made a cover for The Dostoyevsky Reel, the Joe Novak P.I. novel I've written. I've been toying with the idea of putting up a small press publishing house and making this one of the first books in the line. I can't tell if that's pathetic or not, but it wouldn't be technically a self-publication, would it? (Other books would of course be new hardboiled and noir from the US and UK, with some classics and Finnish reprints thrown in.) The publishing house has already a name, Blood Hound Press (and it has a logo, too; you can see it in the right corner, in Finnish, that is: Verikoirakirjat).

I'm not much of an AD, but I kinda like this. It's supposed to be a very small paperback and printed on cheap paper (although with digital printing you can't really use cheap pulpy paper, but some recycled paper might resemble what I'm after, but we'll see). And it *is* supposed to be black & white.

Blood Hound Press *has* a book coming out next Fall, even though I wouldn't be legitimately putting the house up. I'm publishing a small booklet with three or four old crime stories by veteran Robert Silverberg, under the title See You In Hell. I found those stories in Seikkailujen Maailma and Bob gave me a permission to put them out. The stories are pretty grim early sixties noir, very straight-forward and violent. I don't think any of Silverberg's crime stories have ever been reprinted. I think some of them should merit being reprinted in English.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

I'm oozing

Now the fucking scar from the appendix removal is oozing. Some green lime coming out of it. I hate this! I just hate this. It's not my idea of fun to be a walking monster. (I do have the medication.)


Read Jon A. Jackson's The Diehard the other day. My first Jackson. Very good, even though the action drags a bit just before the climax. The climax itself was very well written and gripping. Now I'm reading Jason Starr's Hard Feelings. It has the basic ingredients of the typical Starr nightmare about the anonymoys city dwellers. Does anyone else write about the misery of the white-collar folk? Does Jeffrey Eugenides write about them? Does William Kennedy? Carol Shields? Starr should be given more due for being one of the most realistic writers of his generation.

And how come neither of these guys is in Finnish?


My trip to Helsinki: not much. I talked about White Heat for twenty minutes to people who didn't seem very interested. I was told that this happens in the book store meetings very often and I don't have to pay any attention to it. (I signed two books.) Well, I got a free dinner (which wasn't very good, though). On Tuesday, I'm going to Tampere to talk about the book for five minutes and I was promised that this time they would listen. They'd better, or else...

Thursday, August 25, 2005

On sick leave

It's actually quite a luxury to be on sick leave. I haven't read so much in weeks or even months. I even have time to watch movies!

What I've read: I read Kari Nenonen's other books under his own name, the SF novel Messias (1989) and the short story collection Noitarovio (1989). Both showed considerable talent that Nenonen seems to have not taken care of. Messias is a very good thriller up to the middle, then it starts to drag. In the end it almost stops. I heard from a reliable source that Nenonen wrote the first part and got his money and fled somewhere to spend the dough. When he came back, the publisher demanded Nenonen finish the novel. He did it in a hurry - and it shows. One of the characters has suddenly a new name and there are many themes that aren't dealt with at all. Someone could rewrite the whole thing, take out the stupid SF themes, and voila! you have a new Da Vinci Code in your hands! (If some late-comer wants to know what I thought of Brown's book, check it here.)

Noitarovio is much better and I hope Nenonen would've written more short stories than he apparently did. He did nothing for the Finnish SF fanzines, for example (unless you want to count an erotic story in a one-off mag). He seems to have had a knack for being able to find outrageous horror in the midst of Finnish landscape. His two SF stories in the collection are not much, though.

I also read two stories from a new collection, The Mammoth Book of Short Spy Novels, edited by Bill Pronzini and Martin H. Greenberg, who seem to pull these out of their sleeves like other people eat bread. I read Dr. Sweetkill (1965) by John Jakes and a story by Edward D. Hoch (forgot the title, sorry, but it was from the same year accidentally). Both were good spy stories. Jakes's was full of action and hardboiled sentiment, Hoch's (with one of his series characters, Captain Leopold) was pretty nice one about a retired Eastern bloc spy living in New York. Very easy-going and readable, while Jakes was so intense you had to fight hard to see what's coming.

If these stories were written now, they would've been blown up to 500-page thrillers with lots of boring nonsense about relationships between the hero and his mother and his and his wife's and ex-wife's hobbies, which include gardening, coffee-making and vintage cars. Both stories had originally appeared in magazines - Jakes's in Intrigue - and they couldn't be published today as such, unless in an anthology.

I also read Osmo Ilmari's SF novel, Siriuksen Lähettiläs/The Sirius Ambassador (from 1958 or so). It was a fast-moving story, but Ilmari's satire is heavy. In all of his SF novels (I've yet to read only one) there's a strong anti-Communist sentiment, which for some reason or another I always find a bit anti-intellectual, even though Ilmari was surely earnest and he doesn't strike as low as some other writers. Ilmari's best SF novel, with satire and adventure in balance, is Planeetta Logos that is also reminiscent of Edgar Rice Burroughs's Martian and Venutian novels. Maybe I'll put some covers of his novels here in some time.

What I've watched: I started to watch Anthony Mann's The Naked Spur which I hadn't seen earlier (!). It's a very strong, very bleak and noirish Western with James Stewart acting like a homicidal maniac all the time, even though he's supposed to be a hero. For some reason, I find Mann much more interesting Western director than, say, John Ford, who might be a great lyricist, but, man, who needs great lyrics when you got Stewart shouting at Robert Ryan with a gun in his hand?

For several reasons, I haven't yet watched the whole film, but last night there was Summer of Sam by Spike Lee on the telly. Very interesting, but a bit uncoherent and too sprawling. Lee was stepping on Martin Scorsese's lot in this, which is no surprise since it was written and produced by Michael Imperioli with whom Scorsese worked in GoodFellas.

Now, is that it? I thought I'd seen more films. This hasn't been only holiday for me, though. I've read some stories that have been sent to be published in Isku (the crime fiction mag I publish and edit, for those who don't know) and sent comments on them to the writers. It's something I don't seem to find the time for otherwise - it's good to be sick!

I'll have to go rest now, since I have work to do later tonight: after 2 p.m. there will be an interviewer to talk about Western fiction and after that I'm going to Helsinki to talk about White Heat. We'll see what comes out of that. Maybe I'll collapse and die somewhere between Karjaa and Salo, but at least I did what I had to do, dammit!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Just listen to this

A great, haunting, beatiful tune from the Finnish band Paavoharju:


Thanks to pHinn for pointing this out!


And thanks everyone for kind words about my appendix! (Pun intended.) (I was actually thinking if they would've kept the removed thing in the box for me, if I'd asked.)

Sunday, August 21, 2005


In my home town, Pori, there was a punk rock band in the early eighties called Appendix. Their hit album was called Money Is Not My Currency.

Now the band's name plays in my head, because I went to hospital late last Friday having felt severe pain in my stomach for almost 24 hours. They removed my appendix and I spent two days in the hospital. The first day went almost by sleeping, but in the afternoon I was able to read and I almost finished the Finnish horror/paperback writer Kari Nenonen's late hardback, Ken kuolleita kutsuu/Who Calles Upon the Dead (1991) which was quite good, even with some implausibility and occasional bad writing.

Now there's a scar in my belly. I move rather slowly and can't really lift Kauto up. It was a small operation and there seems to be no after-effects, but I still got scared when I first heard from the doctor that it might be the appendix that's causing the problem and if spread wide, it might kill you. I burst out crying waiting for the results of the blood test. They showed nada at first, but then the pain got worse and I got the fever and I was sent to the hospital and other tests were done. It was a big relief when the operation began - I got to fall asleep decently after trying to sip all through the day.

The other guys in the hospital room were a scary bunch. One hadn't eaten for a week because of an infection in his stomach somewhere and he was belching all the time, other was yellow all over for problems in his liver, one had a cancer and mumbled something to himself all the time (he tried to get out of the bed late last night saying he's going to deliver the post). I couldn't help thinking: what am I doing here in the midst of this death?


When I came back and read the e-mails, I noticed that Dennis Lynds AKA Michael Collins AKA William Arden AKA many other names is dead. He was a great writer. I was going to interview him and it was already settled, but I never found the time. Now the opportunity is gone forever. He was a guest of the month in the Rara-Avis e-mail group only some months ago and wrote long, eloquent essays about his writing and the state of publishing and writing. I hear that he lived long enough to finish proof-reading his Slot-Machine Kelly collection that's coming from Crippen & Landru.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Pics from Tampere and Nokia

I've been having a holiday of sorts and been largely with Kauto, so that Elina could start her own work going on after her nine-months maternity leave (and two months of self-employed unemployment). We are going to start both work very hard next week or week after that and watch Kauto at turns (I get the 0800-1200 turn for work and Elina the 1300-1700 for her work, 1200-1300 is naturally for lunch and taking a shower).

So I thought I'd only post some pictures taken from the trip, instead of writing a full travelogue. Nothing very interesting really happened. Except that I found the books I was talking about earlier - The Dog of the South by Charles Portis and the fishing book by Martin M. Goldsmith. Must post the covers here, too. But here goes.

Kauto at Nokia

Kauto examining his own hands at my dad's place. This is one of his most typical expressions.


Too much cake, eh? This is from my father's place. They still had some old birthday cake left from the week earlier. I experimented with the camera. I rather like this myself.

The Fantastic Four

Kauto, Elina, Ottilia and my dad in Särkänniemi. This seems to be a bit blurred, too. Damn, when do I learn to take photos?

Kauto in Särkänniemi

Kauto and me riding a carousel. (The pic is taken by me.) Kauto didn't like the things in the entertainment park and he tried always to get away from the devices, at one time with almost risking his own life.
(Sorry, the pic seems to be upside down again. Or sideways. Damn, what's the word?)
Ottilia and me in the bus. The pic is a bit blurred.

Pics from Tampere

I took some "art" photos from the bus that we used to get to Särkänniemi, the entertainment park. Here's the first one. It's Ottilia in the pic.

Wise, wise men

My friend Tosikko said today (in Finnish) that after reading several blogs, she felt that everyone was very wise and on the meta level. She was being ironical, of course, but I got to thinking that there's no real need to be wise while you're keeping a blog.

I keep remembering what Roland Barthes said after reading Henri Amiel's diary: the supposedly wise things where Amiel was trying to philosophize were not interesting in the least, but when he wrote about weather, he suddenly became interesting. This is my point of view exactly: philosophy is boring (especially in blogs), but telling about what happens in the world, be it small or big, is interesting. (I must admit to having philosophized here every now and then, but God forbid I won't do it on a regular basis. Or even a fairly semi-regular basis, as they say in Twin Peaks.)

This has nothing to do with pHinn's great blog here.

Monday, August 15, 2005

This one is for Sauli

Here's a pic of my sister's legs and Kauto attacking her. He doesn't yet know how to behave and the animal instincts arise.

Alvar Aalto pics

Here are some pics we took in our Alvar Aalto trip. This one is taken by Elina - it's Kauto and me by the lake near the Muuratsalo experimental house.

Graphic experiments with different kinds of tiles and bricks in the Muuratsalo experimental house. I like red bricks very much and would like to live in a house made of them. The texture is warm and very alive.

The smoke sauna of the Muuratsalo experimental house.
Kauto and the beautiful red brick floor of the city council's room. The space was too difficult for me to photograph.
The mayor's chair (or something). I believe all the furniture at Säynätsalo was also designed by Aalto. I'd take that chair any time. So would Kauto.
Kauto trying a leather doorknob in the Säynätsalo municipal building - one of the instances in which Aalto did pay attention to details.
Kauto and me in the Säynätsalo municipal building.

Alvar Aalto

I'm a sucker for architecture. I always check the buildings first when I enter a new town, city or village. I go for the functionalism of the thirties, but can settle for the fifties' neo-functionalism and seventies' concrete brutalism. I also like the 19th century classicism (Carl Ludvig Engel!) and Jugend of the early 20th century. (Architecture is also the only hobby I have that I haven't yet made into a work, even though I've written some short pieces on it.)

When we went to visit Jari at Hankasalmi, our goal was to see lots of Alvar Aalto's buildings. Alvar Aalto has been credited as being the biggest Finnish architect, but also as being the worst Finnish architect. I think he's great, but he has produced lots of mediocre buildings, and I'm willing to admit that he didn't always pay enough attention to details, for example toilets.

The surroundings of Jyväskylä, the biggest city near Hankasalmi, have many Aalto buildings, and it was originally Jari's idea that he makes us a nice Aalto tour - for a wedding present! We were married three years ago, and now we finally found time to do the trip.

First we checked the municipal house at Säynätsalo, which is now part of Jyväskylä. Built in the late fourties and early fifties, it was one of the most charming houses I've ever seen, full of light and warmth. Especially the council room was very beautiful - almost a sacral place, vast, but also intimate. The light was warm and there was no way Sun could shine into your eyes during a meeting. I heard someone complaining about no windows, but I didn't understand what the point was. If there's enough light, you don't need extra windows. Based solely on this one building, I don't see how anyone can claim that Aalto was a bad architect. It's just the typical Finnish jealousy and hate towards those who claim fame.

Then we went to the near-by experimental house of Muuratsalo. It was a summer cottage Aalto made for himself and his family. Very interesting idea of the inner yard that is open to the outer world, a room without a ceiling, yet totally safe from the winds. The site at the lake was striking. Aalto made experiments with different types of bricks here, which produce nice graphic works of art. I liked immensely the sauna (savusauna, i.e. the sauna is warmed thoroughly and you bathe in the afterglow) Aalto had designed.

Then we went to the downtown, Jyväskylä. There are many bits of Aalto's premature works from the twenties in Jyväskylä and some are not open to public, which is a shame. We also saw his police station, which seems pretty mediocre, at least from the outside, and Viitatorni, which is a big 12-story building. I liked it, but I don't think anyone else in the car did. (I didn't ask Kauto, though.)

We drove around the university, but didn't go inside. Many of the buildings looked interesting, though. The Aalto museum he designed himself was great inside, even though the doors were not very inviting. Exciting to see a public building, though, that seems very intimate from the outside.

Then we headed for the Muurame church. It's early Aalto, from the late twenties, but it's been drastically changed. Aalto's idea was that the floor, ceiling and benches are black and the walls are gray. Now it's white all over and the benches are goddamn birch! It seems sterile and not very interesting. The guide - pretty girl, maybe just over 19, but not very knowledgeable about these matters - was proud of the white church ("full of light"), but Alvar Aalto museum's opinion was made clear: "the original designs were lost during the seventies renovation". The most depressing thing, though, was to notice that Aalto's idea of space that's both public and open was now used to keep the (plastic) trash bin from the rain!

So, a worthy trip, all in all. I think we must some time go back to check some of the buildings with better time, such as the university and the Workers' House.

I'll put some of my own pictures of the buildings here as well.

Tapani's story at Thrilling Detective

My pal Tapani's story appears in the latest issue of the Thrilling Detective site:


This marks the first appearance of the story, since it remained unpublished due to publisher's lack of confidence in the new mini paperback line.

Check out also the other efforts at the site. Stephen Rogers's story is quite fun, Ray Banks's is a touching black comedy.

Pics too dark

The pics I posted yesterday seem to be too dark. It's probably due Blogger, not me or my photographing abilities. I'll try to make them more illuminated (or lighter?) next time.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Pics from the trip

I'm putting here some pictures from the trip. First some stuff from my dad's and Airi's party, then some pics from the cabin. Too few from there, I'm afraid. It was an amazing place.

My father holding Kauto. Oops, the pic seems to be upside down! Or sideways. What's the word?
My little sister Essi and our grandmother Eila, 87, at the party.
Kauto and her cousin Rosanna under a table.

Kauto at my dad's and Airi's birthday. Rat pack, huh?
Kauto struggling away from Elina's hands in the bus, when we were leaving Hankasalmi.
Another picture at the cabin.

Pics from the trip

Kauto and I at Jari's parents' cabin in Hankasalmi. Kauto caught a bit of cold doing this - digging his hands into the water cans, but he enjoyed himself so much I didn't feel like stopping him.

Still on Heli Koivula's novel

Antti Majander, the book critic of Helsingin Sanomat, the biggest newspaper in Finland, wrote today about Heli Koivula's forth-coming novel I wrote about earlier. Majander said that no use throwing stones, let's see first what the book is like and fair is fair and stuff like that.

This is so nonsense. If Koivula's novel had been treated normally - sent back to the author, get corrections, change that, let's talk about that, that sort of stuff, you know, the publishing stuff - and if it hadn't been accepted so eagerly and so fast and after a struggle between different publishers, then I'd say: "Okay, we'll wait when the book comes out."

But when the celebrity athlete says she wrote the book last Fall and sat on it for quite a long time [I still don't get this] and it's coming out faster than any other newcomer's first novel, it's really not okay. Antti Majander should know better. (Since he quite trashed Anna-Leena Härkönen's new book, a memoir about her sister's suicide, based merely on what were his own preconceptions of the book. Fair is fair, right?) (Maybe this was because Antti Majander's sister is a publishing director at the same house that is doing Koivula's novel.)


About work I'm doing:

I had to put Pulpografia Britannica on ice for a couple of weeks, since I'll do couple of entries for Toni Jerrman's and Vesa Sisättö's book on Finnish SF and fantasy authors and have to read some Finnish stuff.

I finished doing the layouts for the newest issue of Ruudinsavu/Gunsmoke. There's an article about the best movies about Indians, stuff about the Dutch comic Silver Arrow, the Finnish paperback series White Navajo etc. I have two articles, one about Indians in Western literature, from Cooper to Momaday, and other about African-Americans' own Westerns.

I'm doing some stuff on a new name book we are doing with Rea. It's about proposed names, that haven't yet been taken to use. We don't know if it's going to see the light, but here's hoping. We did one before, with a sample of 300 names, and it seems to be popular in libraries.

I'll be taking a week off from work, since we are going to train Kauto to sleep and won't probably have energy to concentrate. Most probably I'll put some stuff here.

Finn Sleaze

My friend pHinn's great site at


contains lots of pictures of old Finnish porn mags and other ephemera. You like to watch, doncha?

Saturday, August 13, 2005


Scroll down to see the first travelogue. I'd been writing it on and off for several days and saved it as a draft and thought that it would get first when I'd publish it, but no. It's after "Publishing Fiasco".

(And don't send any e-mails to the spam address in the next message.)

My daughter, the spammer

Here's another spam (not as good as the previous one, I'm sorry to say), but check out from whom it is. My daughter, what have you done? (Thanks to Vesa for sending it.)

Ottilia <representationally@cold.infonet.ee
SentThursday, August 11, 2005 6:11 pm

Subject[PMX:##### 85%]
Roxio Easy Media Creator 7.0 - $19.95
Microsoft Autoroute 2005 DvD UK - $19.95

The journey of a thousand leagues begins from beneath your feet.
War is based on deception.
Experience is what you get when you don't get what you want.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Discussion on spam and work

We had a small discussion on spam e-mails and related stuff with my friend Jussi (in Finnish, unfortunately). For those who are interested I copy here the discussion we had. It's interesting, even though I say it myself, account of authorship's historical roots and vanity presses. I'll develop these thoughts later on - in English.

"Muuten, blogissasi ollut spam-posti oli hieno - kopioin sen itselleni omaan "spam-viestit"-tiedostoon...kaikilla harrastuksensa, minulla spam-viestien kerääminen."

"Hieno harrastus! Siitä voisi toimittaa kirjan... hih! Kaikesta voi tehdä työtä, olen ihan samaa mieltä. Minä en pysty erottamaan harrastuksia ja työtä millään tavalla toisistaan. Mistä tahansä asiasta voi tehdä työasian. Mistä tahansa voi tehdä kirjan. Mutta eikö olisi hieno: "Spam Anthology" tai jotain muuta. Sen nimi voisi olla vaikkapa "Corporation Near Class", taannoisen mestariteokseni tapaan!"

"(Tosin ei se ole harrastus, se on työtä!!). Lisähuomio: post-fordistisessa yhteiskunnassa harrastaminen on usein työtä. Vrt. esim. me molemmat, jotka kirjoittaisivat kuitenkin, vaikka harrastuksena, nyt kuitenkin työkseen."

"Onhan kuitenkin aina ollut ns. harrastuskirjoittajia, jotka eivät ole ikinä edes ajatelleet, että kirjoittaminen voisi olla myös työtä. (Kukahan on ollut ensimmäinen pöytälaatikkokirjailija? Säilyneet päiväkirjat ovat usein olleet kirjailijoiden päiväkirjoja - mutta kuka on ensimmäisenä kirjoittanut runoja ja mietelauseita ja lyhytproosaa ilman ajatustakaan, että joku niitä julkaisisi? Tässä on se ongelma, että ennen vanhaan - varmaan vielä 1700-luvun lopussa - suurin osa kirjoista oli joko omakustanteita tai jonkun yritteliään one-off -liikemiehen tai mesenaatin julkaisemia. Kirjapainot olivat kustantamoita, mutta luulen, että ne toimivat aika paljon vanity press -periaatteella (mikä tarkoittaa sitä että nyt ollaan vain palaamassa 1500-1700-luvuilla vallinneeseen tilanteeseen), eli kustannuspäätöksiä ei tehty moderniin tapaan, jolloin ei ollut myöskään tarvetta tehdä kirjallisuutta, jota ei ikinä alistettaisi kustannuspäätösten alle. Pysytkö perässä? Eli pöytälaatikkokirjailijuus syntyy vasta samaan aikaan modernin kustannustoiminnan kanssa - ja tietysti modernin taiteilijuuden ja asiantuntijuuden eli porvarillisen julkisuuden kanssa. Eli pöytälaatikkoon kirjoittaminen on historiallisena ilmiönä olennainen osa modernia subjektiutta.)"


This isn't Ottilia writing. It's a spam e-mail that was in my inbox this morning:

Dehasque Little Bergmann
Dewald Murray Eriksson Tripathy
Gloo Janusauskas Nikam Lozanogmjpkjjpjrfpklkijnjkjflpkqkrfijmjgkkjkgrkkksgpjmkqjmkggujfkrkpktkmmmjnjogj

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Publishing fiasco?

The Finnish news told yesterday of a new author and her first novel. The author was Heli Koivula (or actually Heli Koivula-Kruger). She's an athlete and quite a good looking babe (in the big picture at the presidential party). Now she has written a novel and a big publishing house is publishing it.

Nothing wrong with that. It's great Heli makes her debut in the harsh world of publishing.

But. Something makes me wonder. She says in the interview that she wrote the novel last Fall and that she sat on the manuscript for quite a long time. And that there were several publishers interested in the book. I heard earlier today from a reliable source that the publishing decision was made in Summer when they don't usually make publishing decisions - it must've been quite a race between various publishers! The book is already coming out this year - so much for sitting on the ms for a long time!

This is extraordinary and quite telling, too: the Finnish publishers are in it only for the money. They know at the publishing house that they are laughed upon ("Look at them! They publish a book by a celebrity! And she's a blonde athlete!"), but they still know that they sell more books than they lose their credit amongst literati and critics. It's cold cash talking. They even might think that they can sell the books to some raincoat men who fantasize about Heli Koivula and the novel. (Which is, by the way, about lesbian love affair. Which is actually great and quite brave for a woman of her stature.)

Seriously, I've been reluctant to admit that the Finnish publishers have given up their noble efforts to keep up the high standard of publishing and just aim for the fast buck (or euro actually). But now I join the ranks of the unsatisfied intellectuals. What's most bugging is how easily Heli Koivula got her book out. I bet she doesn't even know some folks have to wait for years to get their books published. Some never get. Maybe it's because they have bad books, but that's not the point. I don't think the decision to publish Koivula's novel was based on literary merits. I just don't. And I don't think those who made the decision think it either. They know what they did. Shame on you, people!

Our trip, pt. 1 (quite long)

I don't really know if anyone's interested in the trips we made last week and the week earlier, but here goes nevertheless.

We headed first to Hankasalmi, which is a small town near Jyväskylä (also near Pieksämäki, which was elected the most boring place to live some years ago; I've been there couple of times and it doesn't really seem that bad). The rest of the trip was by bus due to some repairs at the railroad. It was hell with Kauto who is accustomed to run and crawl around all the place, especially trains. But luckily it was a short trip.

We went through Lievestuore that is an important place to me, because Snoopy reads those Bunny-Wunny books (Pupukuusikko in Finnish) and one of them is called Pupukuusikko at the Lievestuore Camping. I said to Elina, "Let's come here for a holiday." Elina said, "Why?" I didn't know the answer. I've been fascinated with the small Finnish towns and villages for years, but I don't know what I would do in them for a whole day, let alone a week. I'd watch old buildings and maybe eat some ice cream, but that's about it. (If there were a tiny flea market or thrift store I know what I would do for couple of hours.)

Jari's parents' place at Hankasalmi was great. It was a rather new cabin, with electricity and running water and all (rather unecological, though), with a good sauna by the lake. Kauto liked it a great deal, running around in the yard, in the soft, green grass and looking at the marvels of nature (especially butterflies and bees). The water in the lake was freezing, but going in there started to get a bit addictive before we left.

We enjoyed ourselves, but there was one minor thing: we gained weight. We had lots of cider, gin long drink and beer with us (and also some bottles of Jack Daniel's's great Tennessee Gold mix). And we barbecued a lot. Also lots of candies, mainly licorice. When we got back, Elina was three kilos heavier! I haven't been on scale yet, but when I tried some slacks that had been rather loose a month or so back, I had to take them off because they had, um, well, shrunk.

We visited some tourist sites, mainly Alvar Aalto stuff (more about that later in another post), but we also checked some flea markets and charity stores. There were two in Hankasalmi! There's only some 5000 residents in the place and they sport two flea markets! And they were great. I found a large chunk of marvelous books: James Ellroy's Lloyd Hopkins omnibus, the James Crumley omnibus, Norman Mailer, David Goodis's The Burglar (in a reprint), a Lenny Bruce collection, a collection of essays about Batman... that kind of stuff. Some of them went with 20 cents a piece, for some I had to pay euro each.

There was a signature in the books and I recognized the surname. Jari knew it was a music teacher who was moving out and had taken his books to a flea market. I phoned a friend of mine, because I remembered him talking about his relatives with the same surname - and the music teacher turned out to be his cousin!

Jyväskylä's flea markets were a major disappointment after this. I found a great sixties sports coat, but that's just about it.

After Hankasalmi (many thanks to Jari) we headed for Nokia where my father and his wife Airi were having their 110th birthday. It was a good party, after everyone started to relax. I had a good discussion with my beautiful little sister Essi, with whom I haven't kept as much touch as I should have. We talked about life, our father, our grandmother who's still alive at 87, marriages, relationships - that sort of stuff.

We were only ones to venture into the bar. Iisoppi is Nokia's only night club and while Nokia is a small town, and the bigger Tampere is only 20 minutes away, the place was crowded. Crappy band was playing when we entered and after they stopped, DJ started to play awful mid-nineties techno. But we had fun nevertheless.

After we were heading off and I was catching a taxi to go back to Tampere where we were staying at Jari's apartment, Essi asked me how I can afford to use a taxi when I'm a writer and don't have regular income. "Well..." I mumbled, embarrassed for being such a spendthrift. Essi said she had noticed I had expensive jeans. "What, expensive? How can you tell?" "I looked at your ass and noticed from the brand that they were expensive." "You looked at my ass?! Little sisters aren't supposed to look at their big brothers' asses!" "Not that way, you moron!"

The greatest thing in dad's and Airi's party was the DVD my little brother Matias had made for them. It contained the home movies Matias made when he was eight to twelve. I had been making many of them, mainly as a photographer, and some of them are still quite hilarious. Matias was a great actor when he was a child. One of the movies was a great comedy called Mr. Grandma Takes a Shite, in which Matias played a man who's fed risine oil instead of water in the restaurant. The toilet is taken... There was also Matias doing a stand-up act improvised in front of the camera. Grrrreat! One joke lingers in the mind:

A man walks into a restaurant's toilet. He notices there's strange piss. He goes to the janitor and asks what's wrong with the piss. The janitor opens the door, shuts it and walks in. He says: "The piss comes out of your face."

That's it.

There were also the Killer movies we made with Matias when he was 10-11. There were four of them and there's only Matias killing someone else. In one, it's me (I'm a drunkard who gets shot in the face), in the rest three, they are Matias's friends. (Did he hate them? He puts them through quite severe suffering.) The first one is still quite funny, unintentionally, the second one (in which I get killed) is played as comedy, but the last two are grim and relentless. Really. For home movies, they stir up quite disturbing thoughts. Everyone was laughing at Mr. Grandma and the stand-up thing, but there was a silence when the last two Killer movies were on. (And the photography! I used everything I had learned from Orson Welles in the last one. The music also played a great part. We had a C-cassette player with us in the park we did the films in and recorded the music "from the air". It was Edgard Varese, the most horrifying composer there ever was.)

We were going to do the fifth Killer movie, in which Matias wanted to use chainsaw to chop off someone, but I said "no". (I talked with Airi, Matias's mother, what Matias could've turned into if he hadn't had the opportunity to make those films... Matias Nummelin, the Quentin Tarantino of Pori, downtown.)

Fun trip, all in all, and when we headed back to Turku on Sunday, we were relaxed having enjoyed ourselves.

Next: our trip week after that. Or actually some pictures from out trip. And then discussion on the architecture of Alvar Aalto.

Monday, August 08, 2005

White Light, White Heat, pt. 2

Elina asked me yesterday whether I was gonna pick up the copies of White Heat from the post office early this morning. I said, no. Elina asked, why not. "Because then I can't get the work started and the rest of day goes by just browsing the book." Jussi, a friend of mine, asked the same thing in an e-mail. I said he should admire my discipline and work ethics. (Actually I was a bit afraid to see what the book feels like. Maybe it's lousy. Maybe everyone laughs at me.)

Today it was raining like hell. No way of wanting to go out. But Kauto seemed like he could use some fresh air and started to act rather apish, so we put him some clothes on and headed for - no, not the post office. First things first: Uff had a move sale and all the clothes were four euros. Elina got a bunch of stuff, I found a neat jeans jacket from the seventies in a mint condition. (They'll be having three euro day on Wednesday and one euro day on Saturday! Can't wait...) And then we went to the post office.

Oh, the agonies of a writer! The box weighed over 12 kilos and I had to walk it home - in the pouring rain. I started to fear that the books would get wet through cardboard. (Luckily this didn't happen.) When we got home, I got the books out and said: "This looks like a Bible." (See it here.) I flipped through some pages and said: "Looks quite good." Elina backed me up and seemed proud. Kauto attacked me when I was at the sofa browsing the book and tried to eat the book. (Yesterday he peed on some books I hadn't yet put on the shelf.)

I've read the manuscript so many times that I won't bother now. And there were those goddamn errors and bad writing! Seriously, I'm not very satisfied with how I handle the genre system of the studio Hollywood. There are also some rather shallow pieces, with just some trivia thrown in instead of solid analysis.

When will I accept the fact that there are weaknesses in every book? Pentti Saarikoski said that the poetry collection is not perfect unless there is at least one bad poem in the book.

We were going to celebrate the book first by going out to eat. Then we came to the conclusion that it would be hell with Kauto being tired and hungry and wanting to run to the kitchen and take the chef's knife. So we went home. After I'd peeked at the book, I went to the store and bought some steaks and fettuccini, in order to make a good meal. But fuck no, the meat had gone bad and I couldn't eat it. We had to do with the fettuccini alone. I went back to the store and bought a frozen pizza (we ate it just before I started writing this). What a party, man!


Next: synopses of our trips. Pictures to come.

Some jokes

Since we're at internet forwards, let me put these here before we enter into the world of writing and publishing (maybe tomorrow, with luck later tonight). I got these via Molly Brown, who had a story in the latest issue of Isku. She's a good writer, let me tell you. And seemingly a humorous person. She enjoys a good joke. Hope you do, too.


One morning while making breakfast, a man walked up to his wife, pinched her on the butt and said, "If you firmed up, we could get rid of your control top panty hose". While this was on the edge of intolerable, she kept silent.

The next morning the man woke his wife with a pinch on each of her breasts and said, "You know, if you firmed these up, we could get rid of your bra.

"This was beyond a silent response, so she rolled over and grabbed him by his willie. With a death grip in place, she said, "You know, if you firmed this up, we could get rid of the gardener, the postman, the pool man, and your brother."


Hillary came into the room with a big smile and a spring in her step.

"My you're in a good mood," said Bill. "Why are you so happy?"

"I just got back from my annual physical exam and the doctor said I had the breasts of a 25 year-old woman, " Hillary gushed.

"Did he say anything about your 46 year-old arse?" Bill asked.

"No," said Hillary, "your name wasn't mentioned once."


[This is a very good one.]

An elderly Jewish gentleman marries a much younger woman. No matter what the husband does sexually, the woman never achieves orgasm. Since a Jewish wife is entitled to sexual pleasure, they decide to ask the Rabbi.

The Rabbi listens to their story, strokes his beard, and makes the following suggestion: "Hire a strapping young man. While the two of you are making love, have the young man wave a towel over you. That will help the wife fantasise and should bring on an orgasm."

They go home and follow the Rabbi's advice. They hire a handsome young man and he waves a towel over them as they make love. It doesn't help and she is still unsatisfied, so they return to the Rabbi and he says, "Let's try it reversed. Have the young man make love to your wife and you wave the towel over them."

Once again, they follow the Rabbi's advice. The young man gets into bed with the wife and the husband waves the towel. The young man gets working with great enthusiasm and the wife soon has an enormous, room-shaking, ear-splitting, screaming orgasm.

The husband smiles, looks at the young man and says to him triumphantly: "You see, you young schmuck? THAT'S how you wave a towel!"


A trucker who has been out on the road for three weeks stops into a brothel outside Vegas. He walks straight up to the Madam, drops down $500 and says, "I want your ugliest woman and a bologna sandwich!!!" The Madam is astonished. "But sir, for that kind of money you could have one of my finest ladies and a three-course meal." The trucker replies, "No, you don't understand, I'm not horny, I'm homesick."


One day God calls down to Noah and says, "Noah me old china, I want you to make me a new Ark".

Noah replies, "No probs God, me old Supreme Being. Anything you want; after all you're the guv'."

But God interrupts, "Ah, but there's a catch. This time Noah, I don't want just a couple of decks, I want 20 decks one on top of the other."

"20 DECKS!" screams Noah.

"Well, OK Big Man, whatever you say. Should I fill it up with all the animals just like last time?"

"Yep, that's right, well. Sort of right. This time I want you to fill it up with fish", God answers.

"Fish?" queries Noah.

"Yep, fish. Well, to make it more specific Noah, I want carp - wall to wall, floor to ceiling - Carp!"

Noah looks to the skies. "OK God my old mucker, let me get this right, you want a New Ark?"


"With 20 decks, one on top of the other?"


"And you want it full of carp?"


"Why?" asks the perplexed Noah, who was slowly but surely getting to the end of his tether.

"Dunno", says God, "I just fancied a Multi-Storey Carp Ark."


(Juri again.) I wonder who makes these up. Is there a profession called "joke maker"? Or "jokist"? I know there is always someone mentioned as the editor of the joke column or the joke book, but do they invent them all by themselves (if not, then who does - their buddies?)? Wonder how one could live with inventing jokes. Should try, though. Or then, maybe not.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Internet forwards

Just an example of an internet forward I have to send to me myself in order to get any (this was pulled from an e-mail list I'm on, with a bunch of collectors and researchers, with some funny stuff thrown in once in a while):

"I used to think this Genesis story was a real good sensawunda read, and even wrote a fan letter to Moses, but then it became so popular that he started churning out sequels, and then when he died a lot of other authors took over under the house pseudonym, and a lot of it was just dull middle-of-the-trilogy running in place stuff about smithing and debating, and even when the publishers put out that one-volume complete omnibus for the Book Club and called it the Old Testament, they couldn't resist the temptation to restart the whole thing again, only set a little further on, and introducing some new characters who were descendants of the earlier batch, and then doing an expanded omnibus, and even *that* sold so many copies that other people started doing fanfiction extensions with titles like THE BOOK OF MORMON, and now it's all just this bloated publishing industry stuff. I mean, like, Good Lord!"

I'm the Idiot Savant. I'm the Idiot Savant?!

I just did this:

The 3 Variable Funny Test

and found out that

"You like things silly, immediate, and, above all, outrageous. Ixne on the subtle word play, more testicles on fire, please. People like you are the most likely to RECEIVE internet forwards--and also the most likely to save them in a special folder entitled 'HOLY SHIT'.

Because it's so easily appreciated, and often wacky and physical, your sense of humor never ceases to amuse your friends. Most realize that there's a sly intelligence and a knowing wink to your tastes. Your sense of humor could be called 'anti-pretentious'--but paradoxically enough, that indicates you're smarter than most.

PEOPLE LIKE YOU: Johnny Knoxville - Jimmy Kimmel"

And that my humor style is


And that I'm "the Idiot Savant".

Well... ahem... while I might agree with some of the above, I don't really know if I want to know that Johnny Knoxville is "like me". Ugh. But I kinda like this: "Most realize that there's a sly intelligence and a knowing wink to your tastes." And this could easily the motto for this blog: "smarter than most". (But I don't really get any internet forwards, I have to send them to me myself...)


We came back from our trip last night and we were washed out. I won't be blogging until tomorrow (or the day after that), so I just thought I'd drop this in. Ah, Vesa wrote about his entries in the horror book we did with Jukka and I was kind of let down. He noticed errors in his Bulwer-Lytton entry. I missed them! I missed them...

Thursday, August 04, 2005

On the Road

Greetings from the beautiful town of Hämeenlinna and the reptile show we just visited with Ottilia. Afterwards we went to a second hand book store nearby and I picked up the first hardcover edition of Charles Portis's The Dog of the South! Also a fishing novel by Martin Goldsmith who wrote the novel that Edgar Ulmer's classic film noir Detour was based on (and the screenplay also, IIRC). It's a great thing to have even though I won't probably read it. Poor substitute, though, for the original Detour novel that has never been reprinted. Someone should do it. There were some copies on Abebooks, but they were something like $2000.

I also picked up a Glendon Swarthout western ghost story paperback and an old SF novel by Kenneth Bulmer. Add still a small book on baby names, and all this cost me only seven euros!

We are leaving tonight to Nokia to visit my dad and Airi and going to Särkänniemi tomorrow. Wish us luck. (It's an entertainment park for those who don't know. There are all kinds of whirling machines there and Ottilia wants to go to all of them.)

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Ottilia's greetings

Ottilia wanted to say something here, so here goes:


ottiliaa rgbhutittgjuyhttgjgghhgrjktghjtgkjgtgjrthggjrhfgjtgijgtrgjttihjhtjijgrjgio

(We are now at Elina's parents' place and testing their new computer and the broadband connection.)

White Light, White Heat

I just heard from the publisher that White Heat has come out! As we are leaving town, I won't have time to pick it up from the mail office, but I'm really anxious to see it. (I also had another new book from the press, last week, the horror reference book I did with Jukka Halme. Please, congratulate Jukka for his first book!)

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

We're leaving

We are leaving to Hämeenlinna to visit Elina's parents and to Nokia visit my dad and Airi, so I don't think I'll be blogging about our trip last week. God willing (and if Elina looks after the two kids) I'll try to do something late tonight. Or write something up with the laptop and transfer it to here early tomorrow... Oh, the agonies of blogging!