Sunday, October 30, 2005

Back from the book fair

Just got back from Helsinki where we were at the book fair to publicize our talkkuna book. Everything went well, except when we were on the way to Helsinki: Kauto kicked Elina's coffee and my tea over, with his yoghurt. It was one of those "always-need-to-be-ashamed" -situations.

I met some publishers and talked about books. There's now a chance that I might be able to edit a series of paperbacks with the real new American hardboiled and noir! This is just what I've been looking for... I'd like to introduce an idea of having some classics of the genre translated for the first time - Gil Brewer's The Red Scarf for example. And ask some Finnish crime writers to do short snappy books for the line. I have some in mind already. (I didn't remember to ask if they would be interested in the Visa Mäkinen novelizations...)

We talked also about a series of game and quiz paperbacks. We'll see about that. We've had a proposition about such a book for at least two years now, but it hasn't caught fire. I don't know if it did this time.

I think I also got a publisher hooked on the famous last words book we have made with Jukka. We'll see what comes out of that - I just sent the guy the manuscript. It's a very small publisher, but a real publisher nevertheless.

I had a pleasant chat with Jukkahoo who's the other editor of the pulp SF magazine we are doing for the Helsinki University SF club. We came up with some great ideas. The Giant Brain of Titan! Urho Kekkonen fighting the Ancient Gods! I hope this will meet with great applause and will be published annually. We talked about fake commercials for the mag. I said that there could be one about ordering stuffed girls' heads, put as trophy on the wall. I have a picture of that somewhere, I will scan it and put here for everyone to wonder just how marvellous creature a human can be!

Afterwards we spent a nice evening with Marja and Matti, our friends who live in Espoo, near Helsinki. Mari and Juha were also present. The morning wasn't so nice after all the alcohol consumed, but now, at 18.42, I feel just about normal. It's just those damn hangovers...

Friday, October 28, 2005

e.e. cummings

I remembered earlier today that in the birthday book 23 that I self-published almost ten years ago there was also a poem called "23" by e.e. cummings that I had translated just for the book. I remembered that I translated other e.e. cummings poems too and I have done nothing with them. I've been thinking for ten years about submitting them to some editor, but have done nothing.

Well, is blogging something, as opposed to "nothing"? You can see the translated poems in my other blog.

This is getting mighty literary here, maybe I should read some good old trash.

Another blog

Another old film review on my other blog.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Self publications

I mentioned having done a self-published booklet. (It hasn't yet come out of the press. I'll let you know when that happens.) Now, there seems to be kind of controversy surrounding self-publications (just check Lee Goldberg's blog). In the US, there are many publishing houses that make their fortune out of poor writers' backs by selling their own books back to them once they are out. This happens also in Finland, with Pilot-kustannus (formerly MC-Pilot) and Avoin Kirja. These are the so-called vanity presses (even though people at Pilot like to be called "a publication service"). There are many things that sound like scams - Pilot for example announces that they even get the ISBN code for the book so that the writer doesn't have to bother. It takes only two or three minutes via the Helsinki University Library webpage! Don't pay for that!

But there's still the other kind of self-publication. It's the high-literary, experimental, give-it-away-free-at-galleries type of kind. I do exactly that. I don't aim for the fast publicity with my self-publications. The print runs are usually something from 20 to 50. I give the books away free or sell them for one euro or something like that. Some I've managed to sell to the libraries, some I haven't even bothered to offer. Some have the ISBN code, some don't.

I thought that maybe I should do a bibliography of my self-published items. Here goes. Any corrections are welcome. Copy this and keep it safe, you might need it someday, as these will be real collector's items!

Blinkity Blank:

20 issues of poetry mag Blinkity Blank, 1987-1997. (Usually my poems, but occasionally other poets too. Very slim volumes, A5 and usually 12 to 16 pages. The logo was different every time.)

10-20 surprise issues of same. (Smaller or larger, with lesser print runs, usually around a theme - dadaist poems, my worst poems etc.).

The Abraxas books (Abraxas is an imprint of mine and I have been using it on and off for almost a decade now):

23 - Duchamp, Baudelaire, Barthes (ja Wilson). Abraxas 1996. (A party book for my 23th birthday party. Contains writings and parodies by friends.)

Joe Novak pinteessä ja muita novelleja. Abraxas 1997. (Short crime parodies, essential for anyone who searches the beginnings of my pulp writing career. See

Nummelin on Nummelin. Abraxas 1997. Two editions, the later one corrected. (About the home movies I've made.)

Tseh, Zeh. Ed. by Juri Nummelin. Abraxas 1997. (My friend Arttu made his own self-published comic books and had some unpublished. He gave those to me and I made a small pamphlet out of them. Arttu wasn't actually satisfied, for reasons I didn't quite gather.)

Muisto kääpiökuninkaasta. Lisälehtia pro gradu -tutkielmaan. 1997. (A small essay on a children's book I read when I was four or five. Relates to my graduate thesis.)

Plaid Runner – manttelinperijät. Abraxas 1998. (Actually a novelization. (I've written a tie-in!!!) We made a film called Plaid Runner in the late eighties. This is the prose version of all the plans we had. Some parts made it to the film, some didn't.)

Corporation Near Class. Spam Poetry. Abraxas 2004.

All Data Will Be Destroyed! Spam Poetry. Abraxas 2004. (The former has the ISBN code, the latter doesn't. Its print run was only 11, if I remember correctly. I made the poems from spam I received.)

Banalologioita. Esseitä mitättömästä. Abraxas 2005.

(Abraxas also did three poetry collections with three or four poems with the print run of one. I gave them to my friend Simo, but alas, I don't have the titles here.)

Other books and ephemera:

Riemuvuoden basuuna. 2005. (A gift book for Kauto's first birthday. Will be published annually. So, is it a magazine after all?)

Isämme, valokuvaaja. 2005. (Actually published by my brother and me. About photos my dad took of us when we were kids.)

Lotta (heart) Risto 13.9.2003. (A wedding book for our mutual friends. Contains old photos of Risto's childhood band, an old short story by Lotta who works now at the big publishing house, and memoirs by several people and a cartoon collage I made. This was a joint publication of Elina and me.)

Elina ja Juri 60 vuotta. 2003. (A gift book for Elina's 29th and my 31st birthday. Contains writings and drawing by friends. I edited this under the pseudonym Mikael Ylinen.)

Bibliografia Teerijokiensis. 2002. (The bibliography of Elina's family and relatives. Very prolific grandfather she had!)

Ihmeen tuntua. 2000. (About the pulp SF stories published in Finland in mags Seikkailujen Maailma and Isku.)

Books I edited and published:

Elina Teerijoki: Hulluimmat päivät. Pusukustannus 2004. (A gift book for Elina's 30th birthday. Contains Elina's columns for the weekly mag Vihreä Lanka.)

Elina Teerijoki: Iltasatu. Nimetön. Nimetön. 2002. (A Christmas book for Elina. Contains her short stories from the university student magazines.)

A book about me:

30 - mies kuin unelma. Ed. by Elina Teerijoki. 2002. (A gift book for my 30th birthday. Contains writings and drawings by friends. Rare items by Mikko Lehtonen, Tapani Bagge and Ilkka Pesämaa. Vesa's parody of my pulp research is still thrilling! Tero's and Jukka's personal memoirs are touching.)

(And then there are Isku and Pulp, but as they are magazines, I won't list them here.)

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

A new entry

I just posted a new entry on my other blog.

I mention there my new book, which I already mentioned here in passing. It's a trunk collection of essays that I tried to get published in 1997-1998 and then again in 2004. It's about small essays about everyday life that I wrote for the Tampere student union paper, Aviisi, in 1995-1997. I decided to publish it myself as a small booklet. The book is called Banalologioita: esseitä mitättömästä (Banalologies: Essays on the Insignificant), which is a commemoration to Roland Barthes's influential Mythologies from the fifties. There are mini-essays about such things as sneezing and eating box lunches in public.

I'll be giving and selling the book to my friends, but if you want it, e-mail me at juri.nummelin at It won't be available until next week, though.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Kauto; new blog

Kauto's sleep school is still on route. It's been four rather sleepless nights. Luckily we switched turns with Elina and I've slept two last nights in the living room. Kauto is sleeping better, though, and it's become obvious that he doesn't really need breast during the night. It's just a habit.

I opened up a new blog for writings that have been unpublished or remain in limbo or have been published decades ago (well, could be something from -85; I think I did something already back then)* or in something too obscure for people to know about it. I'll post anything, from prose and poetry to reviews and essays.

It's mainly in Finnish, though. It may have something in English in the future, you'll never know. It's here. It's called Julkaisemattomia/Unpublished.

* I most certainly did! I did a story about new Soviet cars in -85! I'd read an article about those in a car magazine (I read those as a kid) and I wrote some kind of story for the newspaper my dad was working for at the time (for which I started doing movie reviews two years later). In -86 I did a book review, my first, about the Alanen brothers' book on horror movies, Musta peili/The Black Mirror.

PS. By the way: I fooled around with the template and I'm not really satisfied with how the blog looks, but I don't know how to change it!

Friday, October 21, 2005

Tired tired tired

Wow man, am I tired!

We decided to wean Kauto away from having breast during the night. It's been a nuisance. He doesn't always sleep properly with a breast in his mouth and he keeps kicking me in the back. Elina sleeps badly and she has back ache. And we don't want to wake up in the middle of the night anymore!

But this requires something from me. Elina slept on the living room floor and I was alone with Kauto. I hushed and lulled him at least seven times last night! And I count the 02:22 - 03.48 stint as one hush...

But still, a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do. I just don't know just how long I can keep this up. I hope Kauto has a better night coming and he won't wake up so easily.

It's no surprise I didn't get much work done. I wrote a scene for my P.I. novel in which my hero breaks out a fight with some drunks in the nightclub where he's taken his girlfriend (from whom he'll be soon stealing some money and stuff). I don't know how it came out. Then I checked my pulp story. It seemed quite nice and fast-paced, but then again, I might not be in the right mood to judge my own work properly. Then I did a small piece for Aamulehti's blog (they pay for that stuff!). I don't really like to do meta-blogging, but it's interesting to note that the biggest newspapers in Finland (Helsingin Sanomat and Aamulehti) have both put up their own blogs. I just wonder (and wonder this even in my own case) when the staff writers do their ordinary work!

About my new publication: later.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Night of the Eagle; some other stuff

A week ago I said I was going to see a film called Night of the Eagle (1961) by one Sidney Hayers. It was shown this week. It's a marvellous film, quite little known horror gem. As I wrote before, it was written by two American experts of the genre, Richard Matheson and Charles Beaumont, from a novel by Fritz Leiber (Conjure Wife, 1944; must read that one, I have it somewhere). The British crime novelist George Baxt was also one of the writers.

I didn't get a chance to see the credits, so I don't know who got the top billing, but it was easy to see that this was a writer's film. The director, Sidney Hayers, was a hack who produced competent films and TV series throughout his long career (he died only recently), but didn't make any other well-known film (with the possible exception of Circus of Horrors, which I haven't seen). This one is a certified classic and its virtues most certainly come from a good screenplay. (Well, my friend Roope with whom I walked home after the film said that it was also a photographer's and editor's film. They were also good, very inventive at times.)

It was also easy to see why Richard Matheson was attracted by Leiber's book. Matheson's own horror novels are very similar with their portrait of easy everyday life - here a sociology professor enjoying his life with a new job and lovely wife - that just as easily steps into the world of horror. Matheson is also known for avoiding splatter and overt violence. Night of the Eagle has one of the most horrifying scenes I've seen for a long time - creepy and chilly, with nothing actually shown. The happenings in the film could also be said to be wholly psychological. You don't ask for a supernatural explanation, even though the premise is supernatural. Neatly done, boys!

It's just that some idiot has clearly demanded that the monster be shown. Hence we get someone dressed as a giant eagle running down the corridor of a school. Everyone laughed at that one, even though the film had relatively few moments of unintentional humor. Same thing happens with Jacqueus Tourneur's superb Night of the Demon. That time the idiot was the producer.

Today I saw Marcel Carné's Daybreak/Le Jour se lève from 1939, very grim pre-noir film from just before the war. One of the most pessimistic films I've ever seen. (Earlier today I read from Theodore Kaczynski's aka Unabomber's writings that the Left is always interested in pessimism and nihilism, which shows how rotten the Left actually is. Well, so be it.)

I was arguing about the mentioned book with an editor for whom I tried to offer a review of the recent translation of Unabomber's manifesto. She wasn't interested for reasons that weren't exactly clear. Well, that's her power, to turn down offers of free lance writers.

I'll start soon reading Susanne Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. I promised to do a review for Turun Sanomat. I need some cash, so I also picked Joseph Finder's Paranoia,* a thriller about the corporate world. I've heard some interesting things about it. The books are just so fucking long! Cut down the words, will you, now!

I also dabbled with PageMaker. I'll write about this later on, but suffice it to say that I have another publication coming out very soon.

* Check out the link. Raymond Chandler once said that you should never be forced to see the writer. How true, how true. Is he trying to sell me some wheat protein or what?

Monday, October 17, 2005

Work related stuff

Just a quick note (as if I could write those):

I'm back on (almost) normal schedule. Finished the pulpy SF story today and had fun with it - hope not too much. Have still to edit it a bit and then I send it to Jukkahoo to judge it whether it merits publication. I also did two or three pages for my P.I. novel in which the "hero" reveals his past while sitting in a pub and looking at all those stupid drunks sitting next to him. I almost plot as I go. I have a very short outline somewhere (I can't find it, though), but the stuff about the man just keeps coming to me. He's an asshole and I haven't been able to give him any redeeming abilities, so it could quite depressing to read. Well, he's nice to her business neighbour, an old lady running a drugstore.

I also got the new movie book going, at last. I did some two pages about the early years of cinema. (Or actually the archaeology stuff, pre-1895.)

It's just the lousiest e-mail day ever! People, what's with you?

And Ed Gorman is quitting his blog. It's a damn shame. And Matti Wuori died. But I still keep chuckling over the idea of producing novelizations of the Visa Mäkinen films.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Who directed The Children of Paradise?

As if I didn't know that one... Ha! Who did they think I am?

I'm of course talking about the audition. It went well and I am pretty sure that if there will be a second round, I'm in. Don't know if I'm in with the final product. How would I? I counted there were at least 20 other participants - plus my friend Ilona who came to Helsinki with the same train.

We didn't really know what they were looking after. Ilona had some insider's knowledge that they were looking for two guys - the other one would be the host and then there would be someone who'd do an insert type of story for the night's show. It was obvious, though, that this really wasn't the case. It was also obvious that they don't actually know what kind of program they are set to do. Is it light entertainment type of thing or some heavy shit with scholars mumbling about Deleuze on a round table?

I don't know if I really can give out the questions, since there might other contestants reading this (rather unlikely, but you never know), but I can say that I got 90% correct or at least close to correct. Which really might make me a winner, since as Tapani Maskula, a film critic living here in Turku, said in a recent interview: "No one knows movies older than Star Wars." (He's not actually correct, because people do know Jaws, Godfathers, The Good, the Bad & the Ugly etc.) But me, I know my stuff.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Wish me luck

I'm going to the audition I was writing about earlier - for a place as a host of a new TV show about movies. I don't know how good my chances are, but I'm willing to take a look. I just hope they pay me enough money so that I would be able to concentrate on writing fiction... and buy a summer cabin that we've been hoping for...

It's Thursday morning - keep your thumbs up!

Monday, October 10, 2005

The film archive

Well, I'd remembered wrong. It wasn't Night of the Eagle. Instead it was Erwin Leiser's 1960 documentary of Hitler's rise to power, called Den blogida tiden/Bloody Times (don't know the exact English title). Very apt description of things, the early stuff was very interesting and I got an urge to read more about young Hitler. I would've liked to hear more about the industrialists' support to Hitler in the late twenties and early thirties.

Not as powerful as Alain Resnais's Le nuit et brouillard (which must be one of the best films ever), but lots of archive footage I'd never seen before.

When I walked home, I spotted a young guy, maybe 22 or so, standing in a window, maybe on a third floor, with no shirt on, smoking a cigarrette and spitting on the ground. From the ultimate terror of Auschwitz to banality of everyday life.

The book fair

The Turku book fair ended on Sunday. We were there with the Finnish Western Society with the new translation of Stephen Crane's The Blue Hotel (Collier's 1898) in our hands. It became soon obvious no one knows anymore who Stephen Crane is. I even spoke with many people in the book industry, editors, translators, etc. Even one scholar - he confessed he'd never heard of Crane.

Now, everyone who reads this and doesn't know who Crane was, go to Google and check him out. If you don't, bow your head in shame.

We sold the booklet for 1€ a piece. Someone said to me that it's too cheap. People think it's nothing since it costs so little. Maybe. (If you want a copy, just e-mail me.)

I gave some copies to some small publishers and said that if they are interested in publishing more of Crane's short stories, contact us and we'll provide the translations. (Or actually Anssi will.) Hannu Salmi of Faros was very interested - "always willing to publish something that doesn't sell", he said.

We also had a stack of old Ruudinsavu mags and sold quite a bunch of these. It's just amazing when someone comes to ask if we have some old Westerns, books or comics or some such, and we tell "no" and add that here's a mag that tells everything about the Westerns, books, comics, movies etc., and those very same people just shake their heads and turn away. What's with some people? Why bother to read the old stuff, but not want to know anything about it?!

I gave three performances to the audience, one with Elina about the talkkuna book. It was a bit of a scandal, since the organizers had forgotten to ask us and notify the publisher. Luckily it suited us. But then it turned out that there wasn't going to be an interviewer - the idea was that two of us would just sit their and chat. We saw one of this kind - ugh! Luckily Kanerva from our publishing house agreed to come and ask a few questions.

As I said in a comment to another comment earlier, my speech for the library folk and library publisher BTJ on a Friday afternoon may have boosted the appearance of a book project I've been thinking about and pushing publishers to take it for goddam four or five years now! I also spoke about the horror book - to a bunch of teenagers! They were forced to come there by their teachers. Teenagers can't take a joke, as you all well know, and I felt I kind of spoke down on them. It wasn't my intention - sorry!

I also heard that White Heat is now officially in use in universities. Kimmo Laine of the Oulu university said that he took the book to their examination requirements and ordered ten copies to their library. Yiihaa! This is exactly the stuff I want to hear!

I met lots of nice folk - other writers, publishers, etc. - and had a lots of fun. We designed a great series of novelizations of Visa Mäkinen's films with Sami. I'll definitely keep this in mind... Watch out, all you writers reading this!

I was exhausted when I got home on a Sunday night. I tried to work this morning, but it didn't work out. Luckily Elina had a gig in Helsinki and I got to spend the whole day with Kauto. It was very relaxing and Kauto also seemed to like it a great deal.

Enough for now! I'm heading for the film archive and Sidney Hayers's Night of the Eagle (1962). It was scripted by Richard Matheson and Charles Beaumont.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

By the way

The key was found. Elina found it while vacuuming. Hurray for cleaning the house!

The Life of a Non-Fiction Writer (in Finnish, again!)

I wrote some stuff for tomorrow's seminar on - hmm, I really don't know what it is, but it's aimed at library people. It's at the Turku Book Fair. Sorry, in Finnish. I was thinking that maybe I should put up another blog just for these long articles and notes - have been posting them quite often lately. But not now, soon it's time for the bedbugs bite (first, some cider and pizza!).

This is mainly about how I see the circumstances under which a non-fiction writer like me works nowadays. (And it's long and boring as hell, consider yourself lucky if you can't speak Finnish!)

Tietokirjailijan elämää

Kuulin, että seminaarin osanottajat haluavat nähdä oikean kirjailijan. Kai minä sitten olen oikea kirjailija – olen sentään julkaissut yksin tai yhdessä muiden kanssa jo yksitoista kirjaa. Tai kolmetoista, jos lasketaan pari omakustanteista teosta mukaan.

On mukavaa, että oikeaksi kirjailijaksi lasketaan tietokirjailija, koska Suomessa ei yleensä tietokirjailijoita lasketa kirjailijoiksi. He ovat usein enemmänkin jotain journalistin tai tutkijan väliltä. Tietokirjailijuus on jotain mikä muistuttaa enemmänkin teoksen toimittamista kuin luovaa työtä, joka vaatii puurtamista, innoitusta, inspiraatiota, perspiraatiota, töiden hylkäämistä ja uusien projektien joskus epätoivoistakin hakemista.

Mutta puhutaan tästä myöhemmin lisää.

Olen ollut tietokirjailija vasta vuoden. Sitä ennen olen ollut vapaa toimittaja, joka vain sattui tekemään yhden kirjan. Lisäksi olen ollut työtön, joka ansiosidonnaisella onnistui kirjoittamaan yhden kirjan tai ainakin suuren osan siitä ja kääntämään yhden rikosromaanin, joka ilmestyy ensi keväänä. Olen käyttänyt itsestäni myös nimitystä silpputyöläinen, koska osa toimeentulosta tulee edelleenkin epämääräisistä pikkuhommista.

Olen ollut vapaa kirjailija siis vasta vuoden – tai ehkä en sitäkään. Viime tammikuussa onnistuin sanomaan työvoimatoimistolle, etten enää tarvitse heidän palvelujaan. Se oli hiukan vale, koska ansiosidonnaista olisi ollut vielä jäljellä ja rahan menettäminen kirpaisi, mutta työvoimatoimiston suorittama kyttääminen ja sen aiheuttama valehtelu tuntui koko ajan pahemmalta ja pahemmalta. Vaikka toimeentulo on nyt kaikkea muuta kuin turvattu ja tasainen, olen onnellinen siitä että voin tehdä sitä mitä haluan.

Tähän liittyykin muuten se, että täytin jokin aika sitten sellaisen aikuisten ihmisten ystäväkirjan. Siinähän on kohta, jossa kysytään lapsuuden toiveammattia ja sitä, missä ammatissa on nyt. Minulla luki kummassakin kohdassa kirjailija. Kaikilla muilla oli jotain diskrepanssia – joku oli halunnut olla eläinlääkäri ja oli nyt opettaja tai jotain muuta vastaavaa. Ainoa ongelma minun kohdallani oli se, että kirjassa kysyttiin myös palkkaa – vedin siihen kohtaan viivan. Toisilla luki kadehdittavia summia – 2000 e, 3000 e.

Kirjailija voi aina vedota siihen, että hän on vapaa. Vapaa mistä? Eikö muka tarvitse olla koko ajan töissä? Se on puppua. Kirjailijan pitää olla koko ajan töissä. Jos ei ole rutiinia eikä osaa pitää siitä kiinni, kirjat eivät valmistu. Isänikin on usein ihmetellyt, miten saan itsestäni kiinni niin hyvin, että kirjoja tulee harva se viikko. Hän arveli, että en varmaankaan istu iltaisin kapakassa.

Olenkin aina hyvin tarkkaan pitänyt kiinni työntekijän moraalista sen jälkeen kun tajusin, miten asia pitää hoitaa. En yleensä onnistu kovin hyvin, mutta koetan herätä seitsemältä aamulla ja heti aamupalan jälkeen mennä koneelle ja ruveta kirjoittamaan. Iltapäivät ja illat käytän tiedonhakuun ja ylipäätään lukemiseen. Ohjeeni on siis ollut jo pitkään se, että aina pitää tehdä jotain. Inhoan ylimääräisten ja ulkopuolisten ja työhön liittymättömien asioiden hoitoa, kuten veroasioita tai ammattiyhdistysmaksuja tai uuden hellan ostoa – joka kyllä muuten helpotti elämää aika tavalla. Pääasia on että saisi tehdä töitä. Toisaalta rakastan suuresti sitä, että saa jaaritella sähköpostissa – toisaalta usean asian kohdalla se on samalla työntekoa, kun pohdiskelen esimerkiksi kioskikirjallisuuden tekijöiden ammattitaitoa tai sitä, paljonko he saivat palkkioita jostakin novellista. Laskeskelin tässä erään kirjailijan kertoman perusteella, että jos lukemistolehtikustantaja Ilmarinen toimisi edelleen ja julkaisi lukemistoja, he maksaisivat kirjoittajille niistä 40 euroa. Se ei olisi ehkä Kirjailijaliiton suositustaksojen mukaista. Oli miten oli, tieto oli kiinnostava eikä olisi löytynyt, ellen olisi ahkerasti kirjoitellut sähköpostia.

Yleensäkin puuhastelu on tärkeätä. Ihminen ei voi tehdä pelkkää työtä tai ainakin osan työstä tulee olla täysin harrastuspohjaista, vastikkeetonta. Itse kokoan ja julkaisen kahta pienkustannelehteä, kioskikirjallisuutta käsittelevää Pulp-lehteä sekä jämäköitä jännitysnovelleja julkaisevaa Isku-lehteä. Kummatkin toimivat hyvin pienellä budjetilla ja levikki on pieni, mutta ne ovat tärkeitä henkireikiä ja mahdollistavat kirjoittamisen siitä, mikä muuten olisi mahdotonta, koska aiheet ovat liian epäkaupallisia.

Tietokirjailijan työhön liittyy myös se, että pitää tietää aika paljon aika monesta erilaisesta asiasta. Täytyyhän tietysti kaunokirjailijankin tietää monenlaisista asioista, mutta yleensä parasta kaunokirjallisuutta syntyy, kun kirjoittaa asioista, jotka tuntee. Tietokirjailijan taas täytyy usein kirjoittaa asioista, joista ei etukäteen tiedä mitään. Otetaan esimerkiksi vaikkapa yhdessä vaimoni Elina Teerijoen kanssa tekemäni etunimikirjat – tiesin etunimistä yleensä saman verran kuin ihmiset yleensä, että jotkut yleiset nimet tulevat Raamatusta, että joillain nimillä on pohjoismainen kanta ja niin edelleen. Koko kirjoihin upotettu nimitietämys on siis syntynyt suurin piirtein sitä myötä, kun kirjoja on tehty. Sama koskee talkkunaa, josta myös teimme kirjan Elinan kanssa. Olin syönyt talkkunaa ja pidän siitä erittäin paljon, mutta tiedot siitä, millä alueilla syödään minkäkinlaista talkkunaa tulivat vasta tekemisen myötä. Puhumattakaan siitä, minkälaisten aineiden kanssa talkkunaa kannattaa ja ylipäätään voi sekoittaa. Tosin olen jo hyvin monta vuotta sitten kokeillut, voiko sitrushedelmiä ja talkkunaa yhdistää. Ei voi.

Tästä päästäänkin siihen, mistä puhuin jo aivan alussa. Suomessa ei oikein ole tietokirjailijuutta tai jos on, oletetaan, että kirjailija on joku yhden asian puurtaja, kuten vaikkapa tietokirjailijaksi itseään nimittävä Petteri Järvinen. Hän kirjoittaa pelkästään tietokoneisiin ja tietoturvaan liittyvistä asioista. Samanlainen tapaus on nyt ajankohtainen Juhani Suomi, joka kirjoittaa pelkästään presidenteistä (ja on jotenkin vaikea uskoa, että hän tekisi talkkunakirjan, varsinkaan kun se on jo tehty). Minä en pystyisi elämään, jos haluaisin kirjoittaa vain viihdekirjallisuudesta, joka on rakkauksistani suurin. Siksi pitää kirjoittaa myös jostain muusta.

Monet tietokirjat Suomessa ovat ”varsinaisten”, siis kaunokirjailijoiden tekemiä. Niitä pidetään silloin jonkinlaisina syrjähyppyinä, joiden jälkeen kirjailija varmaankin palaa kaunokirjallisuuden pariin. Mutta varsinaisia tietokirjailijoita on harvassa, vaikka termi non-fiction writer on esimerkiksi jenkeissä ihan yleinen ja normaali.

No niin, jos kuitenkin palataan minuun itseeni. Kun oli puhetta siitä, että olen oikea kirjailija, niin pitäisi varmaankin kertoa siitä, miten minusta tuli minä. Vanha juttuhan on jo se, että kirjailijaksi pitäisi jotenkin syntyä. Erno Paasilinna ajatteli tässä jälleen kerran kaunokirjailijoita – tietokirjailijuushan ei ole luovaa ja ankaraa toimintaa. Viime aikoina on paljon puhuttu myös siitä, että kirjailijaksi pitää voida kouluttaa. Tällaista koulutusta on ainakin Jyväskylässä ja Turussa – ja hyvä niin. Jälleen kerran kummassakin koulutetaan kaunokirjailijoita. Tietokirjailijuutta ei juuri opeteta, vaikka eikö voisi kuvitella, että yliopistossa opetettaisiin nimenomaan sitä, miten tieteestä ja uudesta tiedosta kirjoitetaan? Sehän on tietokirjallisuutta. Vinoutuma on sekin, että akateemista kirjoittamista ei lasketa tietokirjallisuudeksi – se on tutkimusta ja akateeminen henkilö on tutkija. Itse en ole käyttänyt itsestäni koskaan sanaa tutkija, vaikka luonnollisesti joudun tutkimaan joitain asioita hyvinkin paljon.

Miten minusta sitten tuli minä? Esikoisteokseni oli Pulpografia, joka ilmestyi joulun alla 2000. Olin tosin sitä ennen tehnyt pienen omakustanteen, joka liippasi läheltä Pulpografian aiheita. Olen kirjoittanut koko ikäni. Jo ensimmäisellä luokalla äitini kirjoitti sanelusta tarinaa kahden kissan seikkailuista – minä piirsin kuvat. Tarina on hukassa. Vuonna 2000 olin avustanut eri lehtiä vuodesta 1987 ja olin juuri tuona vuonna valittu Turun Ylioppilaslehden päätoimittajaksi, jossa pestissä olin säädetyt kaksi vuotta. Olin kirjoittanut kaikenlaista proosaa, mutta kirjan pituinen pätkä oli toistaiseksi jäänyt tekemättä. Pulpografia on ensyklopediamainen hakuteos aiheesta, josta ei suomeksi ollut kirjoitettu missään vaiheessa juuri mitään, ja väitän, että yhdessä Quentin Tarantinon elokuvan kanssa juurrutin sanan pulp suomenkieleen sen nykyiseen käyttöön.

Pulpografia on esikoisteos ja se on täynnä virheitä ja huolimattomuuksia. Mutta se on silti käytetty ja pidetty kirja, jonkalaista ei ole maailmallakaan ilmestynyt – paitsi Lee Serverin suppeahko The Encyclopedia of Pulp Fiction Writers. Skaalan pitäisi tietysti jossain Yhdysvalloissa olla paljon laajempi eikä kaikkia keskeisiä pulp-senttareita edes saisi mahtumaan samojen kansien väliin.

Olin sitten kaksi vuotta töissä, mikä hidasti kirjojen tekoa huomattavasti. Oli myös avioero ja sen kanssa kamppailu. Kuten nähdään, tietokirjailijakaan ei välty työn ulkopuolisilta vaikutteilta. 2001 sain sentään ulos toimitetun teoksen Reino Helismaan nuoruusvuosien jännärinovelleja. Seuraava oikea teos ilmestyi vasta 2003, vuoden työttömyyden jälkeen – ansiosidonnainen mahdollisti kuitenkin täyspäiväisen kirjoittamisen. Ensimmäinen Elinan kanssa etunimikirja Osma Ranja Vilmiina herätti heti paljon julkisuutta ja sai myönteistä palautetta ja olemme nyt tehneet sille jo kolme jatko-osaa. Ensi keväänä ilmestyy kirja etunimistä, joita ei ole vielä käytössä – varsin harvinaisia siis!

Samaan aikaan sain kuitenkin jo apurahoja, joiden avulla kirjoitin parhaana tähän asti ilmestyneistä teoksista pitämäni eli amerikkalaisia kioskilänkkäreitä esittelevän Kuudestilaukeavat. Sen julkaisi Kirjastopalvelu, mutta vaikka kirja ei ole ilmeisesti myynyt niin paljon kuin kustantaja olisi halunnut, niin sen tekeminen on silti ollut kulttuuriteko, josta nostan edelleen hattua Kirjastopalvelun Liisa Korhoselle. Teos on monella tapaa jatkoa Pulpografialle ja samantyyppisiä teoksia on vielä luvassa useita. Tällä hetkellä yritän tehdä kirjaa englantilaisista kioskidekkareista. Luvassa on vielä ainakin kirjat englantilaisista länkkäreistä, australialaisista dekkareista, sotapokkareista, pohjoismaisista länkkäreistä, ranskalaisista dekkareista… Tärkein hanke tässä mielessä on kuitenkin ajatuksissa usein siintävä Pulpografia Fennica, joka esittelisi kaiken kotimaisesta kioskikirjallisuudesta kirjailijoista kustantajiin ja painotaloihin. Se vaatisi jo ison apurahan ja jonkun SKS:n kustantajaksi, mutta pahaa pelkään, että aihetta ei pidetä riittävän tärkeänä.

Samaan syssyyn, joskin vasta seuraavana vuonna tehtiin useiden eri kirjoittajien voimin Pohjoisamerikkalaisia lännenkirjailijoita, joka oli myöskin mittava kulttuuriteko. Ongelmaksi näiden kahden kanssa muodostui se, että lännenkirjallisuus ei ole enää millään tavalla suosittua kirjallisuutta. No, kirjat ovat nyt olemassa. Harmi vain, että samojen kirjoittajien kanssa jo sovittua kirjaa nuorten länkkäreistä ei saatu enää tehtyä.

Tämä onkin tietokirjailijan elämän ikävimpiä asioita – niin kuin tietysti kaikkien muidenkin kirjailijoiden. Hankkeet, joita itse pitää hyvinä, eivät välttämättä ikinä toteudu. Olen yrittänyt jo monen vuoden ajan eri kustantamoille tarjota hauskaa ja nokkelaa, mutta myös fiksu hakuteosta suomalaisista kulttikirjailijoista, siis sellaisista, joihin lukijat suhtautuvat erityisellä lämmöllä, kuten Hotakainen tai Tervo tai Päätalo, mutta myös sellaisista, joita diggailee vain pieni porukka, kuten vaikkapa Veikko Ennala, Sigurd Wettenhovi-Aspa ja Hans Selo. Ei ole vielä tärpännyt. Samantyyppisiä kirjatarjokkaita on ollut muitakin. Useaan viestiin kustantajat eivät ole vastanneet millään tavalla ja voi olla ihan omaa syytä, ettei soittele perään, mutta minut on kasvatettu siihen, että sähköposteihin kuuluu vastata ja että vastaamatta jättäminen on epäkohteliasta.

Keväällä 2005 eli vain puoli vuotta sitten ilmestyikin sitten kaksi kirjaa melkein samana päivänä – julkistamistilaisuudet olivat peräkkäisinä päivinä. Toinen oli kuuluisa talkkunakirja, jonka tekemiseen liittyi samanlaisia kummeksuvia lausuntoja kuin aiempiin pulp-kirjoihin, mutta josta on tullut pelkästään positiivisia kommentteja. Ystävämme Tero K. ja Susanna M. ottivat siihen erittäin mainiot kuvat, joissa on iloa, väriä ja särmää. Samojen kuvaajien kanssa olemme tekemässä kirjaa suomalaisista kirpputoreista ja niiden murroksesta, mutta sille ei ole kustantajaa. Toinen samalla viikolla ilmestynyt kirja oli etunimikirjan jatko.

Ennen syksyä tuli painosta myös Ulkomaisia kauhukirjailijoita, jonka Kirjastopalvelu julkaisi ja joka on alallaan oikeastaan ensimmäinen hakuteos suomenkielellä. Aiemmin on ilmestynyt vain artikkelikokoelmia aiheesta, mutta suuri lukijakunta pystyy lähestymään aihetta parhaiten hakuteoksen avulla, koska artikkelikokoelmat jäävät helposti sekaviksi raapaisuiksi pintaan.

Tänä vuonna ilmestyi kuitenkin vielä viides kirja. Valkoinen hehku tuli painosta tulos noin kaksi kuukautta sitten. Se on elokuvan historia opiskelijoille, mutta myös kenelle tahansa aiheesta kiinnostuneelle. Olen tällä hetkellä apurahan turvin tekemässä kirjaa samasta aiheesta nuorille, mutta en ole oikein päässyt vauhtiin, kun oikean tyylinen löytäminen on ollut vaikeaa: kirjoittaako liian yksinkertaisesti vai liian monimutkaisesti?

Tästä nyt jo huomaa, että todellisen tietokirjailijan tulee olla monipuolinen. Ei voi kirjoittaa vain yhdestä ja samasta asiasta, ellei siihen saa koko ajan apurahoja tai ole konsultti tai yliopistossa virassa. Tietokirjailijan on koko ajan keksittävä uusia asioita, joista voi olla kiinnostunut tai joista voi oppia jotain.

Tämä on tietysti myös hyvin rasittavaa. Aina ei jaksaisi olla tietokirjailija, koska se vaatii niin paljon työtä ja tietoa ja kykyä omaksua tietoa ja pitää se päässä ja muotoilla se niin että muutkin ymmärtävät sen. Tietokirjailijan työ on muotoilla omaksuttu tieto niin, että muille sen omaksumisen ei tarvitsisi olla työtä.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

A job offer

I got a curious phone call today. A young woman from the Finnish Broadcasting Association (YLE, the state-owned broadcasting company, two main TV channels and one digital) asked me whether I would like to come to audition for a host of this new cinema program they'll be having at the digital channel.

Now, you think I said "yes" right away. It's not that simple. I've been as a host on TV once before and the experience was horrendous - chaotic, horribly planned and scripted. (The thing is not even in my CV.) And I like more to write - well, I like to talk about my own work, but this would require talking about someone else's work.

I said to myself that I can go to the audition, because that will sure turn me down. No chance after they see me mutter: "Do you think that Husserl was right pointing out that our phenomenon of existence is convenient when one wants to discuss your acting in the movie by Michael Bay?"

But what should I do if they, even after that, call me and tell me I'm the one?

Elina was thrilled. Tapani said it would suit me just fine. I don't know myself. I'm not the guy who jumps every opportunity - I once turned down an almost certain job when Ottilia was born, since it would've required moving out of Turku and being less at home with the family.

But then again - it would pay the bills. And I'd be on TV. A great celebrity - yeah!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Work done, music listened to, movies seen

At the moment it's hard to get work going. I don't know why this is. I'm starting a new project, one that I was granted a stipend of 2500€. It's a book on cinema for 12-14 olds. Maybe I don't get the style right. Something bugs me about this.

It'll have to wait though. There are some odds and ends that have to be tied up. The Finnish Western Society has a small exhibit at the Turku Book Fair next weekend and we're publishing Anssi's translation of Stephen Crane's The Blue Hotel (Collier's, 1898). It's a great story, but Crane weakens it a bit with overwriting and overexplaining. It makes a nice pamphlety book, though. I'll deliver a small speech at the Fair for library folk on Friday. Maybe I should write down what I'm going to say.

And there are the entries for the Finnish SF/fantasy reference book. They were due last week and I'll have to patch them up to send to the editors.

What I'd really like to do is concentrate on fiction. I start my mornings with an SF story for the pulp-style magazine I'm editing (how low can you go? do I even consider using a pseudonym? hell, no!).* And then there's the PI novel. I like writing it and the story flows quite nicely. There have been some lively moments, but I've been thinking that my hero could be a lot meaner, something in the vein of Ray Banks. I just don't know if I could it convincingly.

Our YA novel left again to the publishers. Keep your thumbs up!


I've seen more movies lately than in a long time. Last Friday I saw Jim Jarmusch's Broken Flowers, with Bill Murray as a bored bachelor. He really doesn't make a convincing playboy with that face of him, but all in all it was a nice film. I just missed the long shorts of Jarmusch's first feature, Stranger than Paradise. This looked just like some other films.

Saturday I spotted Todd Solondz's Palindromes that has been quite controversial for having, is it 12 actors, portraying the same character. I thought it was obvious what Solondz was getting at - this could happen to anyone and is happening to anyone right now, this minute, in America. Now, I haven't been a huge fan of Solondz (Happiness, for instance, left me cold), but I really liked this one.

Yesterday, at the Film Archive, I saw the French Eric Rohmer's Chloe in the Afternoon from 1972. I hadn't seen any of Rohmer's earlier films and hadn't much cared for his later work, but I really liked this one. Quietly humorous and satirical tale of petty bourgeoisie. And those French ladies... mmmm!


Some music I've been listening to:

Blurt, the great eighties band that played funk without a bass. You can hear their influence on, for example, Morphine (they have no guitar; both have a song about sharks), but they were great on their own. Very raw, very energetic, very avantgardish without being artsy and boring. Just drums, hypnotic guitar riffs and Ted Milton shouting his poems and honking his sax. I've been listening to their Vol. I collection. The earliest bits are the best, from the mid-eighties on the sound gets milder. Maybe it's due to the eighties' production ideas. Clean quitar, eh?

Rick James. I didn't know MC Hammer's You Can't Touch This used a sample from James's Super Freak. I could listen to that bass line for hours on end. It's great. And other stuff by James is good, too. I mean - just look at the guy! Can you go wrong with that outfit?

Dead Kennedys. (Do you know anyone who can talk about MC Hammer and Dead Kennedys in a same paragraph?) I've been digging their album Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables from 1980 for couple of days now. I've always liked it and thought it's one of the best rock albums ever, but now the gems come forward. Stealing People's Mail and Holiday in Cambodia are my favourites. Especially the former is a great dance song!

The CD also packs an EP by the band with Too Drunk To Fuck. It's a great rollicking tune. I knew the song even when I was a kid and remember a stupid T-shirt that was on sale somewhere in which an ugly guy was spilling his beer or something like that. I thought that Dead Kennedys was just another stupid punk band. Now I know better. I think it was Frankenchrist that was in the local library where I used most of my time between 14-17 that got me hooked on DK. I haven't heard that album for over a decade now (I'm not very addictive about the music I listen to).

Jello Biafra, the leader of the band, ran for a mayor of San Fransisco some 20-25 years ago. As I understood it, he was the fourth. He could be president by now. Wonder what the world would be like if Biafra was in the White House?

* It will be up to Jukkahoo, the other editor, whether the story gets in.

The key, where's the key?!

Kauto might know but he won't tell. He has hidden the key to the cupboard where I keep my underwear and socks and we can't find it. I'm wearing the same underwear for three days in a row. We had another key made some weeks back, but for some reason it opens only one of the three doors in the cupboard and not the one I need the most. We also attached a large key purse to the key in order to find it more easily in cases like this, but now Kauto has outwitted us. And we can't ask him!

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Still one thing

I promised I'd stop this blabbering. But I remembered that I was thinking about whether film noir was mutated into the experiments of off-Hollywood films, such as Ben Maddow's and Joseph Strick's The Savage Eye. Today I browsed through some pages of James Naremore's excellent and truly recommendable More Than Night: Film Noir in Its Contexts and came across the term "art-house noir". With this Naremore means films like Kubrick's Killer's Kiss and Irving Lerner's Murder by Contract (which I haven't seen myself, I'm sorry to say). They are somewhat experimental and yet recognizably crime movies and thrillers, but it was nice to note that I'm not the only one thinking about these matters.

I was also delighted to see that Naremore quoted someone who said that film noir belonged to a larger cultural pattern that included also abstract expressionist paintings by ones like Jackson Pollock. It's an interesting thought and one that I've been thinking about: there are so many examples of noirness in the fourties', fifties' and sixties' America that you can't help but say: it really did exist and it must've had its reasons to be born.

Yet another diatribe on experimental/exploitation cinema

I'm still debating with myself what differences and similarities exist between the experimental film making and exploitation film. If there are any, they exist in production. Earlier I was trying to say the similarities are very few and far away - then I remembered Curtis Harrington. Yesterday I remembered the so-called trash films of the likes of Ron Rice and the Kuchar brothers. They made 8mm and 16mm films with titles like Queen of Sheba meets the Atom Man that are very poor copies of the big budget genre films of the fifties and sixties. They don't even try to be at the same level, nor do they try to entertain the audience - you could say that they try to show the restrictions with which the average Hollywood movie has to deal with. You might also say that they are parodies of exploitation films, but I should say they are more parodies of Hollywood's low-budget or B films. They are not pure exploitation.

I should try to elaborate on this at one point, if I'm going to write about it. The exploitation cinema, as I see it at the moment, is not studio film-making. B pictures are pure studio stuff, but exploitation comes from outside the studio system, even though some producers tried to establish similar production circumstances.

Maybe we should separate two phases of exploitation cinema. The first one, the phase of classical exploitation cinema, is about years 1919-1959. The years are the same that Eric Schaefer discusses in his delightful book Bold! Daring! Shocking! True! The second phase comes after the breakdown of Hollywood's studio system and has people like Roger Corman come through (even though he started in the last years of the studio system, and AIP, American International Pictures, for which he did his first features was a studio). The second phase also sees the international exploitation come forward: the Italian spagettiwesterns and giallos, the Philippine horror movies, etc.

This might be still a rather rude model, but I'm working on it. But what I'm trying to say is that what we usually think as an exploitation movie represents almost always the second phase, the non-classical exploitation, done by individuals as projects, not as studio-based commodities.

And this is the most important similarity between the exploitation (the non-classical one) cinema and the experimental cinema. The films are projects and made individually by a changing set of people, while the studio film is made with Fordist and Taylorist methods by a bunch of people who normally do the same thing from one movie to another.

The experimental movie making changes all this, and to some extent the exploitation movies do, too. Jean-Luc Godard had a group called the Dziga Vertov Group in the late sixties and early seventies when he had his Maoist phase. In the group everyone did everything. You could direct one day and shoot on another and then switch to editing. This is what happens also in the exploitation business. Maybe you are your own producer and have come up with the money for your script. Well, who's going to direct it? You know one guy who used to edit films for an ad company. He directs. Who's going to edit it, then? It could be the same guy or he asks one of his buddies to do it. If he's good looking enough, he can also be the hero.

And so the production methods for the experimental and exploitation films were ahead of their day. This is how films are made today. Well, not everyone can shoot or edit, but the films are individual projects for which the money is raised individually and they are usually made by a changing set of people.

I should also mention, as a trivia note, that John Waters's early films are sometimes classified as experimental. They are parodies of pure exploitation, whereas the earlier examples of Rice and the Kuchars are not. And then we have Andy Warhol's seventies horror films that Paul Morrissey directed, Flesh for Frankenstein and Blood for Dracula. They could be mistaken for true exploitation and came from the experimental film making of Warhol's Factory.

But enough now of this exploitation/experimental/blah-blah/ex-this-ex-that stuff. If I come up with an article about this, I'll let you know.