Aug 312007

Friday night, and I’m so not into going out and about into the wide world outside.

Staying out of today’s twin gigs (Turisas and Amorphis) is easy, they’ve both been sold out.

But the annual fireworks championships on Töölönlahti do sound somewhat attractive. Stressing the word somewhat in the previous, obviously.

Aug 282007

Monte Cook, one of the most well-known figures among the role-playing game designers has gone and remixed White Wolf‘s World of Darkness setting.

And done it all with his traditional system of choice: d20.

The resulting book clocks in at a meaty 385 pages, and if previous output is any indication, will be good and balanced fun for gaming groups across the world. Our Wednesday Emperors-troupe never touched the originals (of either generation), and likely shall steer clear of this one as well.

Aug 282007

The dvd release of the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles has been almost as long-drawn project as the fourth Indy movie.

The impressively large (twelve discs) collection will be released in october, well ahead of the forthcoming movie. And this being a heftily bloated out product: two more such boxes will be released in the following months – increasing the number of discs to an even more unbelievable amount.

Aug 282007

Spent a vast chunk of the day in Tampere.

And paid a visit to Swamp Music, still the best record store of the country. They were out of the brand-spanking new The Coral record, and had to settle for a couple of alternatives instead. Of which more later.

Had a late lunch at the neighboring Bodega Salud. And was quite pleased with the steak and impressed by the menu – there’s clearly incentive enough to re-visit the place at least a few times to try out some of the exotic dishes.

Aug 282007

Saw the 18-years-in-the-making Simpsons Movie. And while it’s hardly a classic, it’s quality light entertainment and worthy of the ninety or so minutes spent watching it.

Storywise it’s pretty much an extended episode of the show, albeit with a somewhat grander scale. Apart from a few words thus far unuttered on the show, and a quick bout of frontal nudity, there’s not much of an extra edge to the film – it still feels like the scriptwriters are pulling some punches out of habit.

The movie centers on the Simpsons family, with just a few of the supporting characters having any significant roles in the story. While that works well for dramatic purposes, a lot of viewers are going to be disappointed when their favorite yellow-headed cast members disappear after a gratuitous line or two. Or are left without any (such is sadly the case with Apu Nahasapeemapetilon).

An even more important question than “does it feature Chief Wiggum?” is obviously “is it any fun?” And the answer is, “sure, occasionally”. The best gags are beautifully crafted, but there’s a lot of dead air inbetween. And there’s no avoiding the feeling that the choicest cuts were already shown in the trailer.

There are a couple of gags among the rolling credits, including Maggie’s very first word. So sticking around is advisable.

Aug 252007

Dream (a sleeping koala) - Photo Thursday week #56 challengeThis week’s photo thursday challenge subject is sleep/dream.

My take on the subject is the attached image, a sleeping koala bear. Who probably dreams of nothing more than the two subjects occupying its very few daily waking hours: eucalyptus leaves and other koalas.

(As usual, the full-size photograph is available by clicking the attached image.)

Aug 242007

FIN – KAZ : 2 – 1.

Not really up against a wall, but in a comfortable position.

Though with a tough program of remaining games in the group, the dream of EURO’08 remains distant. But with the other teams playing surprisingly uneven, it is by no means unattainable.

Aug 232007

Finally watched the highest budget B-movie with an A-list star and a C-level budget. Snakes On A Plane was surprisingly entertaining.

And unexpectedly anarchistic. Violence is heaped high and deep. Entirely viable characters with long-term screen potential are killed left and right.

Not art, but good light entertainment nonetheless.

Aug 222007

My my. How badly Helsinki coped with a minor weather incident.

Radio broadcasting interrupted for hours. Municipal traffic ground to a halt. A stern warning to remain indoors issued by the meteorological institue.

All this from a short (but suitably intense) thunderstorm, and accompanied with an overture of a general alert signal howling in the background.

Perhaps we ought to be careful that this is as violent as the conditions get, or otherwise Finland, as a nation, would have either learned to cope, or been eradicated a long time ago.

Aug 202007

Saw Ojos de Brujo in Huvila yesterday. The band mixes flamenco with hip hop, and the result cannot really be described, it deserves to be heard.

Saw most of Trio Neb’s world-music show for the warm-up act – impressive three-piece band whose songs were variable enough to retain interest.

The main event began exactly eight o’clock sharp, with the whole eleven-person band ambling onto the stage. Didn’t recognize many of their songs – and not owning eny of the records (until yesterday) can’t really even guess at a set list.

The band played until the mandated end, two hours of the weirdest mixture of genres I’ve seen in a long while. After all, it’s not often that you see a stage shared by three percussionists, a DJ behind turntables and a flamenco dancer.

Ended up buying Bári, the second-newest of the band’s albums. The newest one Techari was available only in the plain vanilla-version, and I assume the videos available on the second disc are worth the extra effort in picking Edicion de Lujo up.

Aug 202007

At a 3.60€ a trip I’d say that we are allowed to assume that drivers know the routes, and do not need constant navigation assistance from passengers.

Seems that the bus company has changed following the switch to winter schedule, and after two navigationally challenged trips (on the 362) the training methods (if any) of the new company ought to be questioned.

Aug 202007

Had the semi-monthly gamenight yesterday.

Brought in Guitar Hero II, which ended up played a lot. With no easy possibility to transfer saved games, we had to resort to opening the songs the hard way: playing them. Good clean fun for everybody concerned (and a nice lesson from the most experienced player in the group).

The regularest of the regular of these evenings: Pro Evolution Soccer was another highlight. Of the four games played, three were very even, the odd one a truly lopsided contest. The next installment of the franchise arrives in october, and is on the “definitely buy”-list.

Continued less than decent games in both NHL 2007 and Virtua Tennis. Though in latter, there’s some clearly visible improvement. The former still puzzles – unlike in traditional ice hockey, in this game there are no sudden stops or changes of direction, just implausibly wide arcs.

The demo for the soon-arriving Bioshock looked awesome. And clearly it’s been far too long since Jack Thompson has been on the news, since he’s piped up some nonsense about the game.

Didn’t play much pinball – had a decent game of Scared Stiff, the others, not so good.

Utterly forgot that I had my camera along – a couple of shots of the pinball machines would definitely have been in order.

Aug 202007

A sailboat on the bright blue seasSpent most of yesterday on a long-planned trip to Bengtskär, the tallest finnish lighthouse.

But failed in the effort.

The journey stealthily turned into something else altogether. Despite an explicit acknowledgment from the ticketing booth, the target shifted from the lighthouse to Viking Experience Center in Rosala.

The journey itself wasn’t bad at all. The late finnish summer in the archipelago showed its best sides in abundant sunlight and glittering sea. The salmon soup offered for lunch was less salmony than expected, a single big chunk in a big cup wasn’t too thrilling. The lighthouse itself was passed by from afar, it was barely visible as a tiny spike on the horizon, miles away.

The Viking Experience turned out to be very much on the underwhelming side. While the buildings were authentically weathered replicas of the originals, the village of sorts was miniscule indeed. The highlight of the short walk was a rope-assisted climb up a few meters of cliff-face (photos to follow for those in disbelief).

A beacon (or some other kind of thing sticking up from the sea)Inside the viking center there were a couple of swords to be fiddled with, and a video that compressed Edda to creation/ragnarök-myths in seven minutes, missing out on almost everything in the saga.

Viking ship in RosalaThe twin viking ships were not advertised at all, but were easily accessible, bobbing gently in the bay.

Rosala, as a secluded island, was an odd experience. In blatant contrast to the pristine fields and nice-ish houses, there was a lot of discarded junk on the sides of the roads, giving the place a definite white trash-look.

The stiff south/west-winds that render approach and disembarking in Bengtskär too dangerous didn’t really materialize on the trip. But the alternate destination was much easier to sail to. On the ship called Summersea the waves weren’t really felt (apart from a few stretches when the sea is unprotected by an intervening island)

An OK day altogether, but a vastly different one than planned.

A smith's hammer Jatulintarha A discarded trailer

Aug 172007

Dungeons & Dragons, the original role-playing game has begun evolving towards its next incarnation.

The game page on the publisher’s site was replaced by a mysterious 4adventure-timer, and the new edition was revealed on schedule in Gencon, currently organized in Indianapolis.

The game indeed looks to be moving forwards. And quite a few of the steps it takes are rather bold: the use of a brand-new gamer-centered social network and a monthly subscription to vast tracts of extra material are something that hasn’t been tried before.

The first book, unsurprisingly the player’s handbook, debuts in may, with the other mandatory tomes following in the subsequent months. And doubtless a conversion guide (at least from the third/3.5th editions) will be provided at the same time to ensure that no hard feelings surface on account of supplementary materials going stale.

The information provided thus far is pretty thin on the ground, but the Wizards of the Coast marketing machine will move into overdrive mode soon.

Me? Not nearly as excited as back in 2000 when the third edition pretty much revolutionized the industry, and gave a nice little kickstart to the Wednesday Emperors. These days there’s plenty of other fish in the sea, but the new edition needs to be checked out – that’s for sure.

Aug 162007

Lost logoHere we go again.

Back to observing the survivors of Oceanic’s flight 815, after the rather WTF?-inducing finale of the second season.

And for three abbreviated sixteen-episode seasons more. Seasons that will run in the spring, meaning that the americans will be without the series until 2008. Unfortunately that also leads to a very late arrival of the third season on dvd – the scheduled release date is in december. An official tied-in video game will also arrive before the fourth season kicks off.

Aug 162007


No wonder no-one had left any comments on the blog for a good while.

I broke the haloscan-bit in the template, and thus prevented any interaction.

Fixed now. Thanks to Mr. Musicnaut for the heads-up.

A way more nastier problem is the fact that Internet Explorer (at least version 6) fails to render the post-renovation blog at all. Haven’t booted my PC in a long while, and am thus without IE at home. But looks like it’s time to take the plunge again. Or bring the IBM laptop from work.

Aug 162007

What the ... (a peppermint stick insect) - Photo Thursday week #55 challengeThis week’s photo thursday challenge subject is what the …. A picture whose subject is far from obvious.

My take on the subject is the attached image, a peppermint stick insect (Megacrania batesii), a rare critter from Queensland that just happened to be around on a rainforest walkabout in Cape Tribulation. The coloring has not been altered, the animal is shockingly turquoise in color, with splashes of other bright colors across the body.

The wikipedia article on this animal is a stub (but does feature two good images), fortunately the curious peppermint stick insect is the subject of many good pages.

Sadly the image did not turn out that well, the very low lighting conditions under the canopy and a shaky hand combined to lack of sharpness in the photograph.

(As usual, the full-size photograph is available by clicking the attached image.)

Aug 152007

No end to shirt-related articles in sight in august, it seems.

But it’s hard to say no to hoodies like these, especially the blueprint one.

But at a neat hundred dollars, the price is very much on the steep side. And counting the finnish customs/VAT/extra cost on top makes this quite an expensive shirt.

But I’m tempted, sorely tempted.