Jan 292009

The trend of the day seems to be “topic-targeting”, as new blogs by already established authors that concentrate on a single subject proliferate.

  • Kuva is a multi-author movie blog.
  • Vinyyli is a journey through the author’s record collection.
  • 120 kirjaa is a collection of reviews on book/movies and other cultural experiences.
  • 6001 km @ 2009 is a collection of bicycling stories.

All of these are proper blogs at that, not mere singleservingsites.

I haven’t really thought about expanding in quite a while – the twin specific blogs have gone fallow a long while ago.

A blog on nothing more than photographs would be on top of the list, but even with the visually impressive monotone (that adapts to the dominant color of the photograph) I haven’t taken the plunge yet.

The idea of doing book or movie reviews on a separate blog does sound a bit attractive, but would also be a bit too much work and redundant.

Jan 292009

Close to Ground Zero - New York, January 2002I haven’t been actually challenged, but that’s not a reason NOT to participate in a meme.

The instructions are simple:

  1. Enter the fourth directory in your picture stash.
  2. Choose the fourth picture in your blog
  3. Describe when/why/how you took it.
  4. Challenge four people to participate

Well, this picture is from New York, close to the WTC ground zero, taken in January 2002, after the cleaning crew was mostly done with the rubble. This was a cold day, easily fifteen below zero, the chill compounded by stiff winds off the rivers.

The camera was a brand new Canon G3, and this image is the nineteenth picture taken with it.

And nope, I’m not challenging anybody.

Jan 282009

The subject is an imaginative take of the byline that’s more than a century old, and seems to be matched content-wise as well.

The New York Times offers a lot of data through incrementally added APIs.

I’ll try and add a link to a NYT-review of movies when I inevitably have to rework the listing of reviews (that is so out of date that it is not even remotely funny).

Jan 272009

I fell for Richard Kelly’s Donnie Darko on a first view, and haven’t been able to shake the feeling. Even though his later career has not been exactly successful, especially in the box office, I still have faith. I hated domino, but liked Southland Tales pretty much more than anybody else.

The arrival of S. Darko was a complete surprise – while it’s not a direct sequel to Kelly’s debut nor actually directed (or even written) by him, it’s still among the “films to check out in 2009″.

[ via soks. ]

Jan 262009

Guillotine LogoGuillotine, published in 1998 by Wizards of the Coast, is a deceptively simple card game that is easily taught and enjoyed by pretty much anybody who can distinguish between gallows humor and actual celebration of nobility getting decapitated.

Indeed, the subject of the game is on the grim side. It depicts a struggle between rival executioners in the last days of the French revolution. A struggle in which success is measured by the lopping off and collecting of as many nobles’ heads as possible.

The game is easily learned, but the random nature of its course (especially when more than two players are involved) turns it into a chaotic affair where luck and skill alternate.

The bloody nature of the topic is gracefully sidestepped with use of plain and humorous art. The images on the cards are provided by two veteran Wizards artists: Quinton Hoover and Mike Raabe, both with a long career of MtG-illustration as a merit.

Even though the publisher is famous for flogging good games t death with expansions, Guillotine curiously never got anything additional designed for it. An omission that is tackled with the addition of new cards in boardgamegeek.

The simple nature of the game lends itself to online play as well. A version was produced for the aborted Gleemax portal. It is now available on the gametableonline.com, and much more attractively on facebook as well. Haven’t tried either, but will do, soon.

Jan 262009

Chinese New Year in LasipalatsinaukioYesterday was the chinese new year, when the year of the rat turned into the year of the ox.

Helsinki celebrated the occasion for the third time, with a smallish festival on Lasipalatsinaukio in the middle of downtown.

The weather was far from optimal. The consistent drizzle threatened to turn the bright red rice paper lanterns into mush, and definitely made the icy ground underfoot uncomfortably slippery.

The square was packed with people. Especially the food court was stuffed and unruly enough to deter from queuing up. By far the most scrumptious offerings were by Dong Bei Hu – their barbecued squid on a stick is definitely something to try out on an inevitable visit.

Chinese New Year in Lasipalatsinaukio:  Fireworks out of handHad dinner in Tang Village in Kamppi instead. Clearly a popular alternative, since the staff was persuading everybody to stick to the buffet instead of ordering something off the menu. Which was a good choice, since the buffet was indeed filled with good dishes – with selection alternating somewhat between rounds (at least the grilled tofu was curiously absent before going for seconds).

The evening was capped by a sponsored fireworks display over Töölönlahti. The fifteen minutes of pyrotechnics was occasionally impressive, and the vantage point on the side balcony of the parliament building provided an excellent view to all rockets but the ones shot low. The camera of the n96 proved to be spectacularly useless in the tough conditions.

Chinese New Year:  Fireworks over Töölönlahti

Jan 262009

Guitar Hero:  Metallica LogoThe song list for Guitar Hero: Metallica has been released.

The list is wide indeed, covering both the biggest hits (Enter Sandman, One) and some great misses (Frantic). Too bad Four Horsemen is entirely absent, but the likes of Orion and Whiplash round out the selection nicely. Death Magnetic is represented by a single song only, but the entire album is available as downloadable content.

As with the game centered on Aerosmith, other bands get their day in the sun as well – here the selection ranges from songs covered by Metallica (Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Tuesday’s Gone and as a definitive highlight Diamond Head’s Am I Evil?) and liked by the band (System of a Down, Corrosion of Conformity and Motörhead are all featured).

Despite the name, this is a full-band game, and hopefully the Neversoft/Harmonix-promise of instruments being cross-usable between the Guitar Hero- and Rock Band-franchises remains watertight.

Thus far I’ve avoided going beyond a single guitar (two, actually, but the PS2 and Xbox 360 instruments are not destined to meet), mainly due to space and availability reasons. The strong set list and my 20+ years as a Metallica fanboy do mean that this game will sooner or later find its way to the HQ.

Jan 252009

eat.fi logoBeen slowly adding reviews to the eat.fi-site (a smooth social network for reviewing finnish restaurant), and having written twenty thus far, a top contributor-badge is mine, all mine.

Next: a couple of score more, and hopefully soon a version of the site a bit more accessible via mobile phones.

Jan 252009

Väärän jäljillä-coverAs the third (and way long overdue) mystery novel read over the christmas break, here’s the lowdown on the newest Maria Kallio-novel by Leena Lehtolainen: Väärän Jäljillä.

It’s been three years since the previous novel, Rivo Satakieli, and the break’s been beneficial. Väärän jäljillä is a back to basics book, enjoyable in the encompassing familiarity, yet bringing in enough new spices not to be a rehash from the previous. The authors mannerisms are present, but way more subdued than in the previous novels.

The subject is the murky world of sports, and the advance of commercialism. There are a lot of more than thinly veiled analogies to real-world figures, and all in all the plot has elements that wouldn’t be out of place inthe real world.

Oddly enough, the franchise has now been decorated with a dedicated website of its own.