Thursday, August 11, 2005

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.

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