Dec 302008

Pyörre CoverThe second mystery/thriller read over the christmas break was the most traditional of the bunch – a novel by Ilkka Remes has been a part of the 25th for a decade or so, ever since Pääkallokehrääjä came out.

The book continues the streak of decent novels – thankfully the author’s recent output hasn’t dipped anywhere close to the low reaches of Itäveri.

This time the subject matter is a well-blendered mix of Estonia, espionage and prospective Formula 1 drivers. The plot isn’t exactly watertigh, but enjoyable enough for the 450+ pages the journey takes.

Even though the decriptions of the handling of the investigation of the Estonia ferry are not dramatized at all, the proceedings do bear more than a slight hint of cover-up on them.

Dec 302008

Just after sunset in ChinatownLike last year, here’s 2008, rendered in the cities I spent a night or more.

  • Helsinki, Finland*
  • Vantaa, Finland*
  • Turku, Finland
  • Nivala, Finland
  • München, Germany
  • Innsbruck, Austria
  • Kifisia, Greece
  • Athens, Greece

* = multiple visits.

Ping if there’s something missing.

Seriously boring year. And the first in a decade without any travel outside Europe.

Dec 292008 provides a thorough list of what the media got wrong.

In articles published on 23 and 26 May 2008, we gave the impression that Mr Gest had contracted a sexually transmitted infection and alleged that he had Liza Minnelli’s dog killed without her knowledge.

This was wrong. David Gest has never had a sexually transmitted infection and did not have Ms Minnelli’s dog killed.

We apologise to Mr Gest for any embarrassment caused.

Dec 282008

Head of a straw pig

  • It’s a bad omen when (according to tickets) there’s 150+ folks lining up for service before you in a shop.
  • Spaces (the virtual desktop provided in OS X Leopard) rules – too bad Office 2008 does not fully co-operate when it’s used.
  • Didn’t OD on turkey this year either. Tried hard, the stuffing alone was fabulous.
  • Didn’t update to 2.7 yet – it’s coming, rest assured.
  • Plevnan Petolintu gets the “hopsiest beer”-award for December.
  • And yes, that IS a straw pig. Why should it be only goats that get represented in the medium?
  • Detroit Lions looks set to be the first NFL team to finish a season 0-16.
Dec 282008

Doritos Dash of Destruction LogoDoritos Dash of Destruction arrived last week into XBox Live Arcade as a free game. Unlike the previous pure ad-games (such as Burger King’s), this one is available all over the world.

The game idea surfaced in the chips-maker’s Unlock the XBox-challenge, and was implemented neatly by Ninjabee.

The plot of the game is a simple one: a cybernetically enhanced T-Rex is trying to stop a chip delivery truck.

Yes. It’s a simple plot, not an enlightened one.

Predictably the game offers two modes: either as the dinosaur or the truck – both cruising the streets of half a dozen of small towns. Wreaking destruction as they inevitably bump into the fragile buildings surrounding the narrow streets.

The game plays simple. There’s just one button to take care of in addition to the steering. The two campaigns (as an increasingly pimped lizard or a vehicle) are short, and the game is easily finished in an hour or two.

Achievements-wise the process is simple as well. The harvest of 200 gamerscore is available with a pair of playthroughs and a brief locally hosted multiplayer session on top. My first 100% coverage of a game thus far.

There isn’t much to the longevity of the game, but it’s a small, pleasant and free diversion that doesn’t really have anything against it.

(And yes, the Game of the Week-series has been on an embarrassingly long break, and will now return to a bit more regular pace.)

Dec 282008

Kadonnut Beatles-nauha coverI’ve been a fan of Staffan Bruun‘s series of humorous mystery novels set in somewhat alternate Helsinki.

The stories starring a swedish-finnish journalist Burt Kobbat are zeitgeist-y and smug takes on the present, spiced with just enough imagination to remain somewhat believable.

The general plot is pretty basic: the aging journalist stirs up trouble, encountering various and weird characters, until the bad guys are spooked enough to push the storyline into a climax.

I’ve read more than half of the novels, and picked up the newest Kadonnut Beatles-nauha (equipped with the author’s signature) as a christmas present from a sale. Grabbed it off the table immediately after the distribution of gifts, and finished it off on the eve.

The new book indeed concentrates on a previously unknown Beatles-recording, and moves along effortlessly through its 300+ pages. The scenery is far more globetrotting than in the previous installments, and the descriptions remain more or less convincing even when the Atlantic is crossed.

And FST – I’m SO expecting a proper high-budget mini-series to be produced from the material.

Dec 282008

WordPress LogoIt’s been a year now since the introduction of WordPress in the blog, with hundreds of entries written and the rest semi-automatically converted.

Thus far the change has been worthwhile indeed. The only thing lost in the process was the collection of comments in haloscan, converting them would have required a serious bit of mechanical work.

Working with a database-backed system has been a revelation – the collection of perl and shell scripts used to maintain the old blog were nowhere near this convenient and painless.

I still haven’t had the energy to upgrade to the 2.7-engine, the current one purrs pleasantly under the hood.

The current theme is as plain as they get. I switched over from more graphical one due to reader complaints. While the random photo on top of the screen did consume CPU time and bandwidth, the main reason was the fact that the theme was of a fixed width, something that the current one did away with.

Spam-wise the move seems to have opened a door to the salesmen of questionable products and services. Thus far akismet has worked well in sweeping the ads aside. It’s not perfect, but the hit ratio is easily good enough (maybe one false negative per five hundred arrivals.)

Dec 282008

Empire cover with JokerThis year’s Empire Must See film selection saw a 50% improvement over the 2007 – though not on absolute terms, last year the selection covered 25 films only.

And since there are no less than three films that have not seen a finnish release yet, and a couple I defintely aim to catch on dvd, the final score hovers comfortably close to a halfway point.

There’s definitely a couple of dodgy choices in Empire’s selection, but that’s only to be expected.

(For those scoring the game at home, here’s links to the previous occasions: 2007: 6/25, 2006: 8/25, 2005: 8/25 and 2004: 11.5/25.)

Dec 282008

The twin virtual football campaigns ended in very average results, just outside the playoffs. Hakkapeliitat placed seventh, Niners sixth.

Hakkapeliitat won its sixteenth game with a comfortable margin. Having lost two previous games meant that this game was a lowly consolation game, nothing grand. Last week’s hero was Marques Colston, who finally, after having his productivity sapped by multiple injuries, played at the expected level – two touchdowns and nearly a hundred yards from the line of scrimmage. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers’ aerial attack in general executed well, but the overtime loss to Bears probably means that they’re out of playoff contention.

Niners lost the battle for the fifth place by half a point. Which obviously calls for immediate armchair quarterbacking – the spectacularly inconsistent T.J. Houshmandzadeh had a nadir-game once again (zero points), replacing him on the field with anybody else would have netted a victory. The heroes of the game were Colston and Drew Brees, whose 351 yards firmly place him in the lead for the QB of the season discussions.

Now’s the time to lick the wounds – watch the last games of the regular season, and get ready for the playoffs. Too bad the Saints, with a 8-7 record are already out, since their divisionmates have frighteningly good records.

And for next season, let’s hope that the real Niners get their quarterbacking situation under control, Saints continue their death from above-style bombardment and surprises like Tennessee’s powerhouse-campaign happen again and again.

The definitive pleasant surprise of the year was Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers. The kid growing in jealous Brett Favre’s shadow outdid all expectations and the team will be a force to be reckoned with in the next years’s games.

Drew Brees continues to excel – I’ve run him every chance I get ever since he played for the Chargers and have not been disappointed. While every once in a while the offense gets stifled by a stingy secondary – a 300+ yard as a norm is a good foundation to build on.

Dec 262008

Watchmen PosterI can’t but quote New York Times:

LOS ANGELES — In a surprise ruling, a federal judge in Los Angeles said he intended to grant 20th Century Fox’s claim that it owns a copyright interest in the “Watchmen,” a movie shot by Warner Brothers and Legendary Pictures and set for release in March.
At an earlier hearing, the judge said he believed that issues in the case could be settled only at a trial, which was scheduled for late January. On Wednesday, however, Judge Feess said he had reconsidered and concluded that Fox should prevail on crucial issues.

So much for a March-release I guess.

As if the project had not been troubled enough on its 23 year journey from the graphic novel onto the big screen.