Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The New Adam magazine

I was checking some stories out of the Finnish porn magazine called Uusi Aatami (New Adam) at the university library. Uusi Aatami used some stuff out of the American sleaze magazine Male and I was able to recognize some writers of the stories, such as Jim Harmon who's best known as a writer on old radio programs, but also some SF.

The Uusi Aatami magazine was quite ugly, with rough black-and-white photos and not much content beyond that. I was looking for a story that a friend of mine remembered having written in 1971 or 1972, but it seems that all the original Finnish stories were published without a byline. The magazine was published from 1965 to 1972 by one Aarre Grönlund, who was the premier publisher of the second-rate men's mags in Finland. (He also wrote one crime novel by himself - you can see it here.)

I'll post here some "interesting" ads and cartoons from the mag. These are not for kids! I don't really know whether they are suitable viewing for adults either, but here goes nevertheless. Some more Uusi Aatami covers (and other Finnish sleaze) here.

Not the Vampirella you're used to?

Now, this one is ugly. An artificial vagina, called Vampyrella, advertised by none other than the Warren company's great heroine. (Elina, reading over my shoulder, said that she first thought it's a car tire.)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Stuff about Finnish pulp fiction

I posted on another blog a bunch of entries I wrote for Thrilling Detective many years ago - but Kevin Burton Smith declined these, since they didn't meet his criteria for a private eye. One of the entries has a real P.I., though (Richard Rauta) - I'll have to rewrite it for Kevin. The foreword in the post is in Finnish, the rest are in English.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Ossian Saarman's sex cartoon

Here's a two-page cartoon made by Finnish artist Ossian Saarman for the Uusi Aatami magazine. The story goes like this: A woman sees her husband having sex with another woman and thinks about revenge. She almost has a car-wreck and ends up having sex with the two men who are driving the car. She goes back to his husband and laughs at him in her mind.
Ossian Saarman is a legend and he published almost all of his comics in self-publications. Here's some discussion on him and some of his pictures on Kvaak.

Say what?

Couple of very ugly and amateurish cartoons from the Uusi Aatami magazine.

The man: "I get the feeling that at least in one matter women are equal to men..."

"What are you laughing at.. you'll get yours shrink too when you go to swim...!!"

I can only say: Huh?

Love Doll

And finally, an ad for a love doll. At least she's arrived! A wondrous, pumping Barbara. The baby doll for all the big boys at last in Finland. A normal sized adorable girl to last for years for little money!

Forgotten books

You know that I've written two books on forgotten writers (well, you could count my Pulpografia and Six Guns also, since most of the paperback crime and western writers are forgotten by the reading public). Thus it was nice to see someone is keeping a site called Neglected Books. Interesting examples of interesting literature. I could quibble about some choices - Will Eisner's Contract With God? Forgotten? Really?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Nice covers for Michigan Conservation

Some time ago I picked up from the university library's remainder shelf several issues of a magazine called Michigan Conservation that was (or maybe still is) published by the Michigan Department of Conservartion. The contents hold no interest to me, but the covers are pretty nice. The artist signs him- or herself "Schafer" in all of the covers, but I can't seem to find any info on him or her. I'll be sending these to a friend of mine who collects cover illustrations.

First, some scans. The first one is from March, 1952, and the second one is from the same year's May. There's a previous owner's stamp on the covers. T. H. Järvi was presumably a professor of some kind and donated these mags to the library (and then they discarded them - what unthankful bastards!).

Another Michigan Conservation

Here's still another issue of Michigan Conservation - it's from May 1953.

And still couple cartoons

Michigan Conservation had also a cartoon on its backpage, of course on conservationist material. The illustrator was someone called Warbach - ever heard of him? It seems that there was one Oscar Warbach, who's done stamps on animals, so it must be the same guy.

The style seems pretty okay to me. Here's two examples. The raccoon sleeping in the tree's arms is very sympathetic.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Films seen lately: Mesa of Lost Women, Eaten Alive, Near Dark

Should do everything when they first come to mind. I meant to write something about two rather forgotten horror films when I saw them at a small horror film festival, but that was already over a week ago and I'm not as enthusiastic about this as I once was. Here goes nevertheless.

Tobe Hooper has made one of the best horror movies ever: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Its reputation has been very, very low, especially in Finland where it almost by itself caused one of the most strict censorship systems on VHS videos and video markets. Massacre however is quite an intelligent movie - you might see it as an ironic take on family comedy (as Robin Wood has done), with touches of absurd humour here and there. People don't normally understand me when I say that I think Massacre is a comedy, but look at it closely - there's even slapstick (Leatherface moves like a cartoon character, the mummified grandfather with his hammer). If you can - the movie is also filled with terror and hysteria, so it's pretty difficult to sit through.

Eaten Alive was Hooper's second film after Massacre and it's downright comedy. The absurdist elements are magnified by using a very theater-like set-up and very artificial lighting and colours. Neville Brand (who's simply brilliant in this) and others use very exaggerated movements and facial expressions and no one talks normally - they mumble, scream, yell, shout, babble. The plot is simple: Neville Brand is a motel owner who kills the people who get lost in his motel. There's a great scene in the beginning which shows the banality of the killer in his everyday life: Brand is sitting on a crumpled chair, reading some newspaper clips and trying several eyeglasses on - they are presumably his victims'. There is a United States of America flag on the wall and seemingly a Nazi flag, with a swastika on it, on another chair. Boring country music is on the radio all through the film, which makes an annoying soundtrack - but the disgust is also quite fulfilling, given what the movie is after.

So, Eaten Alive is one of the post-Psycho films based on the case of Ed Gein. There's lots of violence and splatter and some of it is stupefyingly absurd. This is as close to the world of Eugene Ionesco and Samuel Beckett as American horror film is most likely to get. (With the possible exception of David Lynch, but he's too conscious of this to be wholly satisfactory.)

After Eaten Alive I saw Kathryn Bigelow's Near Dark (1987) that's been called one of the best horror films of its decade. I won't dispute that, since the eighties weren't actually a very good decade for horror films, at least in the US. This one, too, is too much style and not much substance - compared to Near Dark, Hooper's film is full of sociological wit.

Near Dark comes quite close to being a Western film (why hasn't Bigelow made a bona fide Western, by the way? her sensibilities should make a very good Western with lots of action) in its depiction of Texas and its bunch of vampires who look like rock stars on a one-year heroin gig. The film is mean, but there are also scenes of love and warmth. I just didn't get into the film very deep. Maybe that wasn't meant to be and it was meant to be looked at from a distance. This could also apply to Bigelow's other films. They all look like there's something in there, but in the final analysis there's... well, maybe nothing. This doesn't really apply to her Weight of Water that received pretty bad press, but I thought it was a very good and very insightful essay about womanhood.

Now, something completely different: Mesa of Lost Women. This one I saw on VHS - a friend of mine had taped it for me from a channel that I cannot access (meaning Ylen digikanava). It seems that this movie - or at least something that resembles a movie - was made from using two different unfinished films and adding a voice-over narration to explain things. The narration however explains nothing and the preachy voice makes you want to leave the room. There's also horrible guitar music that's on all the fucking time! Impossibly bad and stupid, but somehow fascinating. Check out the comments on IMDb, some of them are quite funny in their own right.

Monday, November 12, 2007

My comix

In our on-going series about kiddie affairs: here's a cartoon I made to entertain Kauto and Ottilia a while back. It's called Ottilia and Kauto Are Waiting for Christmas. The thing takes a sudden absurd turn.

Ottilia = O, Kauto = K, me = I (since dad is "isä" in Finnish). Bunnies because they are Ottilia's love of life. 'We are supposed to be outside playing. I'll translate:

(In November.)
Ottilia: No snow. Boring!
Kauto: Where's snow?

Me: You'll get it soon!

Ottilia: You promise, dad?
Kauto: Dad?

Me: I promise. It comes soon.

Kauto: Here it comes!
Ottilia: Yeah!
Me: ?

The snowflake: I'll bring you Winter and snow!

Ottilia: It talks!

The snowflake: I won't even melt in the ground!
Ottilia: A wondrous flake!

The snowflake: I'll bring you Winter and snow!

Ottilia (looking angry): We heard that already!

The snowflake: But first I want a beer! Take me inside and give me a beer!

Ottilia (squashing the flake with her foot): Boring snowflake!
Kauto: Splat splat!
Me: Oh oh...

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Ottilia's fairytale of sorts and old typewriters

I have several old typewriters. They are all post-WWII - I think one is from the fifties, the rest (three or four, I'm not actually sure) are from the sixties and seventies. All are manual, I've never cared for the electronic ones.

I haven't really intended to start collecting old typewriters - I've just managed to grab some cheaply (for one euro, for example). I learned to write with these things and I even worked in newspapers at the time when these things were common and in actual use, so there's a nostalgia factor. I have a dream that some day we will have a summer cabin and I'm writing pulpy crime stories for my own amusement in the yard, with a whiskey sour in my hand.

Now these things function as toys from time to time. Kauto especially seems very interested in them. Here's a fairytale of sorts that Ottilia dictated to me and I punched. (Didn't really remember what hard work you had to endure writing with these things!)

You want a translation? Okay, we'll try:

Dad built a house. Dad went to change his shirt. A rabbit was laughing at dad, when he saw his bare stomach muscles. He laughed and went ho ho ho. The rabbit was disappointed when he saw the typewriter, since he didn't have one of his own. So he backed away his back moped. [Don't ask.] So he jumped on his moped and drove away.

The bunny was so sad that he hit himself with a toy hammer, which was made of plastic. Because he burst out crying and he'd developed a bulge. And then he went to sleep with his hundred-meter bulge and dad was laughing at his bulge. And went ho ho ho.

The bunny was so saddened that he went in his nightgown over to the neighbour's house and took his toy hammer with him. He hit him [presumably it's dad] with the hammer and a tiny, one centimeter bulge appeared on his head.

So they both apologized to each other and hugged each other. And that was the end of the story, but did I forget to tell you their names? Their names were Topsy and Turvy. THE END.

Friday, November 09, 2007

About the high school shooting

Here's a pretty good news link about the Jokela high school shooting. The country is in a shock, as you might surmise, since nothing of this sort has ever happened here. Well, okay, it has, but not on this scale. (And there was the Civil War, which was one of the bloodiest in the Western Europe.)

I was going to mention it earlier today, but forgot: it was pretty eerie to read Justine by Marquis de Sade at the same time when this guy was shooting people. He'd been boasting about his right to eliminate people since he was superior to them - exactly the same thing as de Sade's horrible heroes.

Thanks to Peter Rozovsky for the link.

The Divine Marquis

Finished late last night Justine by Marquis de Sade. What a read! I said to Elina that it's one baffling book. "Is it exciting?" Elina asked. I said: "If I jerked off to this, I'd feel bad afterwards."

Nevertheless, I can highly recommend the book. First, it's not as boring as seems to be the consensus - it's actually quite readable, once you get past the late 18th century lingo and long dialogues. Second, it's a very interesting in that you can see the critique de Sade launches against the society of his time and the society that put him in prison. He might have enjoyed the same horrible deeds that are described in the book, but through the dialogue de Sade makes clear that it's the society and its high and mighty that does the most horrible things. They are rich heirs, highly-regarded monks, judges, etc. And all talk about will to power - no matter what you do to those who are weaker than you, they can do the same to those weaker than they.

It's easy to see why some people regard de Sade one of the earliest describers of the capitalist society which is based on exploiting the weak.

This one was highly rewarding read. I'm planning to read something about de Sade next, so expect to see some of that here. (The Finnish Wikipedia article on de Sade seems to be pretty bland and quite wrong about some matters. Here my friend Jussi Parikka talks about de Sade - in Finnish.)

Thursday, November 08, 2007

I'd like to be right for once

(I trust that at least most of our foreign readers have read or heard something about the high school massacre here in Finland in which eight people got killed.)

I've been wrong in two big issues during this century. When the WTC attacks came, I said at first it's the work of the American ultra-right-wing patriots. Now when we first heard about the shootings in Jokela (and still thought that there's only one dead), I said to Elina that it's probably not some narcissistic egomaniac.

"Don't you want somebody to love?" is singing in my earphones as I type this. "Tears are running down your dress / and your friends are treating you like a guest." Yeah, right.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

European Film Noir

I just finished an interesting collection of essays and articles called European Film Noir. The book was released early this year, and it was published by Manchester University Press and edited by Andrew Spicer, who seems to have written a whole book about the whole thing (simply called Film Noir, 2002). The book is quite academic, but I didn't mind (well, maybe at times, especially in the section about the Italian film noir).

The book has nine articles on five countries and their film noir traditions: France, United Kingdom, Germany, Spain and Italy. The films depicted in the book seem all quite interesting, but it seems also that some of them are deemed to be pretty obscure and not easily to be seen, even on DVD. Some of these are for example the French rendition of Leo Malet's 120, rue de la Gare from 1946, with P.I. Nestor Burma, and Carlos Saura's debut film, Los golfos (1960), which was made with a very limited budget.

I wrote a review of the book for Ruumiin kulttuuri, the Finnish Whodunnit Society's magazine, but it turned out to be too long, so I posted the original version here and will edit the print version. It's in Finnish.