Nov 292006

This is getting way too regular, yet another weekly five from skrubu. And again, mistranslations mine, all mine.

1. Which browser(s) do you use? Why?
Firefox. No better alternative exists. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty good. And keeps on evolving. At work some of the intranet applications mandate the use of internet explorer, but that’s about the extent I like to use it.

2. Which page is your start page? Or are you one of those weirdos
that use about:blank? And why on earth, if so?

Yah, it’s the empty page. Lack of distractions.

3. Do you use any extensions in your browser?
Some. IEView on the work laptop, RSS reader. Ought to use more, like browsersynch (I keep abusing for that purpose).

4. Have you changed any of the default settings of your browser (such as the font size)?

5. Which group do you belong to – the ones that maximize the size of the browser window, or do you prefer to use a smaller window (and what’s the size if so)?
Pretty big, but not full screen. And I expect the pages to adapt to changes in screensize.

Nov 272006

Crashed my ex-team’s recreation day, spent the afternoon bowling and waiting for dinner.

Former at the Tali establishment, which has been completely renovated since my last visit (quite a few years ago, it would appear). Bowled consistently, three lines within seven points of each other – averaged 127, which is nice and much better than anticipated. Way fewer strikes than I hoped, but lots of spares and subsequent nines boosted the score nicely.

Latter at La Famiglia. The upstairs restaurant proved that it can take more than two hours to cater a simple three course dinner. Food was quite good – much better than on the first visit in spring. The homemade sausages for appetizer were firm and spicy, the mushroom pasta creamy and a bit on the limp side, and the banana pannacotta for dessert surprisingly mild in taste.

Nov 262006

New York Times has published its annual list of notable books.

And I haven’t read a single one on the list.

A couple are in the “to consider picking up, amazon or physically at Borders”-category, but the zero is still a pretty pitiful score.

[Ones on the list: certainly the new Pynchon (so it’s out already?), possibly the new Philip Roth (paperback, definitely), likely the new King (he’s supposedly in good form); off the non-fiction side: Steven Johnson’s Ghost Map (haven’t even started his previous, so no hurry) and Omnivore’s Dilemma sounds interesting as well.]

[ via Jason Kottke. ]

Nov 262006

Things I didn’t know a short while ago:

Kula Shaker is back. With a four song album available in iTunes (and some vinyl copies sold out ages ago). A proper album is expected early next year.

Meat Loaf completed part III of Bat out of Hell.

Cathedral plays their second concert of the year in Helsinki. A slice of the three day Helldone-festival, the gig is priced high. Parting with forty euros to see Lee Dorrian and his merry men does not seem likely.

Nov 262006

Tackling this week’s viikkoviitonen. As usual, mistakes in translation mine, all mine.

When was the last time (if ever), you last saw/visited …
1. An opera
Been a while. I think (operative word being: think) it was Sweeney Todd in the Helsinki Opera.

2. A theatre

This january. Saw Hitchcock Blonde in the City Theatre of Helsinki.

3. An art gallery

Late summer. Visited Anhava to view the weird multi-colored bar codes by Leonhard Lapin.

4. A museum
Earlier this month: Museum of Australia in Sydney.

5. A ballet
Been a really long while. So long that I can’t recall the name of the show. But I do have seen a couple of ballets. Never entirely voluntarily.

Nov 252006

Random articles that made it into my this week.

Nov 252006

According to Otto, deaths always happen in threes.

This week Robert Altman was joined by Kari Nenonen and Juice Leskinen.

A shocking revelation follows: I do not own a single album by Mr. Leskinen, even though I’ve always been fond of his work. Despite the dozens of hours in music class in junior high spent rendering viidestoista yö and syksyn sävel in a reedy voice, which ought to have installed a healthy hatred of the man behind the songs. Time has dulled the memories, but I’m pretty certain I even participated in a public show of the former song. Perhaps it’s now time to distance myself even further from “suomi pop was not cool”-stance and buy the inevitable multi-disc retrospective. That’s what happened when Gösta Sundqvist died. And his career spanned far fewer years than Juice’s.

While Juice will be mourned by many and very conspicuously so, the passing of Kari Nenonen will not be heralded by column yards of coverage. Kari Nenonen was a finnish horror/sf-author who burst into the scene with a couple of novels in the early nineties and then disappeared as quickly as he arrived. His Ken Kuolleita Kutsuu has the dubious honor of being one of the very few books that actually scared me. The credible creep of horror into the authentic lives of three youth in an everyday Helsinki suburb was executed exquisitely well. And wrapped up in then-trendy splatter and gore – both as a subplot and a narrative device.

Nov 252006

Spent a vast chunk of the day carrying bricks and concrete from an apartment under renovation.

Helped vanquish two piles out of three, using nothing but a shovel and an array of boxes and buckets. And a convenient elevator – otherwise the two floor distance to the temporary resting place of the material would have consumed a lot of time and a lot more energy.

Apart from ubiquitous dust, no adverse effects from the effort. Right now. I’m pretty sure some heretofore dormant muscles will protest come tomorrow morning.

Nov 242006

Saw Exodus in Tavastia yesterday.

The band, one of the original Bay Area Thrashers from the early eighties, has disbanded and reborn twice, with an appropriate amount of member changes.

Went to the gig without any expectations – had not heard any new material since 1992′s Force of Habit. Wasn’t even aware that Steve Souza was no longer handling the duties of the vocalist.

The new growler was energetic, and attacked both classic and new songs with vigour. Sadly the club proved too challenging for the mixer, and as a result the sound was mushy. The band whipped up a nice frenzy in the audience, and witnessed decent pit activity. The lone stagediver was not much appreciated by the band

Recognized way less than half of the songs played (even with assistance from more knowledgeable attendees), so no set list will be available here (I’m pretty sure imperiumi‘s message board will take care of that). Hoped for Cajun Hell, but that’s hardly among the band’s biggest hits.

Nov 222006

Tears for Fears’ eighties angst-piece Mad World gets another high-profile resurrection.

Its first reincarnation was as the keystone song in one of the very finest movies of the third millennium, Richard Kelly’s Donnie Darko. Eventually the Gary Jules’ melancholy version got Really Popular in the UK, reaching the #1 spot on the charts for christmas 2003.

Recently the song popped up again, this time in a advertisement for Gears of War, a futuristic orgy of violence on the XBox360 (attached below as the very first video clip in this blog). I’d have expected some atonal industrial grind in the commercials, but the juxtaposing of the wasteland scenery and the haunting song is effective, very effective.

Nov 222006

I’ve never been to a political fundraiser. Come to think of it, I’ve never even been close to being invited to one.

But the one (no proper link to the invitation available) thrown by the supporters of Jyrki Kasvi sounds like a good starting point. The topic (the birth of an ubiquitous society) is a pointful one, and the parliamentary candidate himself one of the very few I cannot find faults in. After all, there are very few technically savvy individuals with mainly correct and respectable opinions looking to be elected.

The price, at 350 euros, is a steep one to pay.

But if paying that meant that even just a single bright beacon would shine in the holistic cluelessness in the parliament, I’d gladly cough up the cash.

Nov 222006

Though I fell asleep watching Gosford Park.

Robert Altman died yesterday, and the world is poorer by yet another great director.

Watched M.A.S.H. again a few months ago, and was once again surprised by its iconoclasm. It would be hard to imagine a major production company risking their reputation by putting out an equivalent movie set in, say, Iraq, right now.

[ via kasa. ]

Nov 212006

Vanilla Coke, like so many under-appreciated things in life got phased out.

Phased out, without ever making it to Finland. Officially, that is. The grey importers (both Behnfords as well as the fly-by-nites on a couple of metro stations) occasionally stocked it, but it was never reliably available locally.

The Pepsi MAX Cappuccino was a worthy replacement, but not comparable to the real thing.

I don’t have very high hopes on the newest arrival on scene: Olvi’s Vanilla-Cola. Should be available in shops right now – will report upon tasting.

[ via Eating Muffins in an Agitated Manner. ]

Nov 212006

I planned on writing something clever about the reversal of roles in a couple of recent cases when random passersby have caught the appointed guardians of society up to no good or even worse.

And failed. Several false starts didn’t help.

So here’s some random linkage instead. For the first time in absolutely ages.

Nov 212006

As noted by Peter Jackson himself on the biggest Tolkien-related site on the web: he will not direct, nor be directly affiliated with the team that does The Hobbit, the prequel to Lord of the Rings.

The reason: the lawsuit between New Line Cinema and the Jackson/Walsh team is still ongoing. And as part of the settlement, the production company attempted to tie the production of a new film to the closing of the case. And the creative team does not feel that such a tie would be conducive to making the best possible Hobbit (or another prequel, to which the rights have also been bought).

So, this leaves the director’s chair unoccupied for the biggest new fantasy film of the decade. With the right helmsman the stratospheric budget may be put to good use. With a poorly chosen one this has all the makings of an immensely expensive flop. And pretty pretty please let the pick be someone else than Uwe Boll.

[ via rajatapauksia. ]

Nov 202006

This week’s loss in yahoo’s fantasy football league was brought on by one man: the very same that almost single-handedly whupped the Broncos.

The conspicuously named LaDainian Tomlinson scored four touchdowns, and pushed Hakkapeliitat once again below .500.

The team was not helped by the sensationally well-playing rookie tight end Marques Colston spraining his ankle on the very first offensive play by the Saints, nor by both Packers and Rams being shut out by opponents.

And with the Bears having their hands surprisingly full with the Jets, and Rex Grossman only bringing home one thrown touchdown, the loss was certain.

Watched the first half of Dallas putting on a very good show against the reigning Colts – forcing three turnovers in the first quarter alone. Colts suffered their first loss of the season, but I’d long since climbed into bed.

Indeed, there’s finally NFL on television during the regular season. Viasat shows a good selection of games each weekend, most of them live, and I’m sorely tempted to continue the free two-week trial subscription. If they offer a decent rate until the superbowl, I’ll consider myself sold.

Nov 202006

Saw Martin Scorsese’s The Departed yesterday. A good movie, definitely among the best in a long while and recommended to all who are not bothered by complex plotting or regularly applied violence.

The Departed is an adaptation of Infernal Affairs, a Hong Kong-crafted thriller from 2002. And while a lot of liberties have been taken with the plot as well as with the casting, it’s still the same story, just told from a Hollywood-adapted slant.

The acting is top class across the three starring men. Jack Nicholson is frighteningly menacing (in a different way than in his previous menace-o-ramas) as the sociopath the irish mob boss. But he is outshone by Leonardo di Caprio in his best performance since the almighty Gilbert Grape. His tortured undercover officer suffers from many mental afflictions brought on by identity crisis after being embedded in the mob. He manages to convey desperation without resorting to over-acting. Matt Damon plays a golden boy cop, whose teflon surface lasts untarnished despite several glaring mistakes. Damon, like the two other leading actors, excels in the role – and the splintering of the character’s confidence is faultless.

The supporting cast is not bad either. Though the roles do suffer from heavy-handed typecasting, none of the characters turns out to be an one-dimensional caricature. Here the first impressions do not lie: Martin Sheen is the jovial old mentor, Mark Wahlberg the angriest cop of a decade, and Alec Baldwin’s Ellerby oozes testosterone with almost every sentence.

The actors have an excellent and complex story within which to lose themselves. Like the original, this is a paranoiac web of lost identities and challenged allegiances – in which the proceedings are regularly turned sideways by displays of graphical violence. So graphic, that I was surprised that this film made it through the certification bureaucracy with an over-15 rating.

The Departed is a long movie, clocking in at a tad over two and a half hours, but it never gets boring. The scenes flow with a carefully calculated pace – a flow that is varied enough to almost allow for the audience to be lulled into a false belief of understanding what is going on. A belief that is firmly shaken several times on a long romp through Boston.

Indeed, it’s the city in which the movie is set, that plays a significant role in setting up the scenery. Both thematically (it’s one of the biggest irish concentrations in the world) as well as visually (scenes are played in surroundings familiar to visitors). And that fact that Boston’s finest folk-punk band is featured on the soundtrack is certainly no demerit to the film.

Watched the film in Tennispalatsi. The ticket queues are still terrible, this week’s excuse is an “upgrade” of the operating system. But even worse than that was the volume in the theatre – it wasn’t the regular gunshots that annoyed the most, but music. The very first bars of Murphys’ I’m Shipping to Boston were eardrum-tingling in volume.

Recommended heavily, and not by your humble narrator alone; both metacritic and imdb agree that this is a movie worth seeing.

Nov 192006

Bought Ramones’ anthology off a sale on saturday (the double cd and book is positively a steal at ten euros in Anttila), and have been listening to the New York’s godfathers of punk for a good while.

Had almost forgotten how good they were, but the song selection just keeps rubbing in the classics I’ve heard over and over. Though not lately. Seems that it’s been ages since any Ramones got airtime in the Lavonardo HQ, and no albums are on the iPod either.

The anthology concentrates on the early years, and pulls in the best song from the nineties, Pet Sematary. But it’s the parade of classics that’s makes this double album so worthwhile – while Ramones’ albums have never been exactly borefests, the concentrated punk rock mirth would is at times overwhelming.

Now probably would not be a good time to start looking for deals on the even bigger compilation, the Weird Tales of the Ramones. Almost bought it in the now-being-liquidated Tower Records in San Francisco last year, but thought that their price was a tad high. Well, back home the tag contains a much bigger number, and the currency is euro…

And I never had any idea that the parenthesized song of this entry’s title (a perennial personal favorite) has a deeper meaning to it. Wikipedia just does not stop being amazing.

Nov 192006

Finished the second season of Deadwood on friday, and am still convinced that the show’s at the very top of the class.

While the pace was slower than on the first season, the twelve episodes told a powerful story. Powerful enough to start looking for the third, and last, season of the show. But knowing HBO, it will be a while before it shows up. Tragedy, swearing and pure seeking out the number ones fill the episodes – new characters are kept to a few and the old ones are allowed to grow to even larger than life than before.

Picked up the first season of Veronica Mars in Boston in september after a few glowing reviews from usually reliable people. And based on the first quartet of episodes the statements were not wrong: this seems to be quality television.

Veronica Mars is a combination of Twin Peaks (minus most of the weird stuff), Buffy the Vampire Slayer (minus the supernatural element), O.C. (I’m mostly assuming, never having watched the show for more than five minutes) and any detective show with a season-long story arc. One of the things retained from Buffy is the snappy dialogue. While it never reaches the heights of Whedon, it still runs circles around the competition.

Acting varies from pretty much OK to heavily wooden. Kirsten Bell convinced me in her brief appearance in Deadlands already, and Enrico Colantoni puts on a decent act as well. Some of Veronica’s schoolmates, on the other hand, could be replaced with crash-test-dummies and a conveniently disguised ventriloquist without the audience noticing the difference.

Well, it’s early to draw any conclusions after the first sixth of the season, but it does flow well, and possesses semi-addictive qualities. I’ll report on the progress through the SoCal mystery in later entries. Stay tuned.

Nov 182006

Decided to try out my place in the linguistic domain of the US, the result points to the north-eastern parts – which I’ve only briefly visited (on account of having Boston separate from its surroundings in the scale).

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Northeast

Judging by how you talk you are probably from north Jersey, New York City, Connecticut or Rhode Island. Chances are, if you are from New York City (and not those other places) people would probably be able to tell if they actually heard you speak.

The Inland North
The South
The Midland
The West
North Central
What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes

Somehow the bars do not come out right, but I’m not about to start investigating bogus HTML produced by the quiz site.

Nov 182006

Updated the list of caches logged (by a whopping 50% increase), as well as of records and dvds for the first time in months.

Haven’t bought many of the latter lately, but have picked up a lot of cds in the last few weeks.