This Bucket Is Listing To Starboard

Business Insider Australia has listed 30 Things To Do Before You’re 30 (OK, most of these things happened after, but who cares)

Run a half marathon (it’s ok if you have to walk a little).

I give up, already tripped on the first hurdle. I did walk once from Ipswich (QLD) to Willowbank (about 1/2 a marathon) – I doubt I’d attempt that sober, especially now that I’m older budweiser.

Travel somewhere TRULY exotic – anywhere that feels like the end of the earth.

Does Australia count? I’d say it does.

Buy tickets to a music festival and rage with the best of them.

Magnus Uggla in Mariehamn, 2012

I’m pretty sure there were exactly two Finnish-speaking people in the audience.

Saw Magnus Uggla in Mariehamn back in 2012. That should cover it.

Go skinny dipping.

Pretty much every weekend at the cabin in the summer. This is supposed to be a bucket list thing?

Splurge on a once-in-a-lifetime meal at one of the world’s best restaurants.

Tip: try the sweetbread at Sea Horse – or Dizzy Gillespie’s signature dish, fried Baltic herrings and mash.

I imagine the seafood meal I once had in Tamatave, Madagascar was once-in-a-lifetime in more ways than one, in particular because I have no idea what the pre-kitchen twitching and post-kitchen delicious crablike creepy-crawly actually was.

Best Karelian stew this side of the Isthmus.

Best Karelian stew this side of the Isthmus.

A while ago I splurged on Karelian stew at Pelmenit in Harju, and it turned out to be the best Karelian stew I’ve ever had. This could be in part because Karelian stew isn’t exactly a staple of my diet.

Cook a huge meal and throw a dinner party for friends.

Again, this is a bucket list thing?

Test drive your dream car.

Getting there.

Well, that’s a start. Now about those Gatling guns…

My dream car converts to a helicopter, a submarine, and a bobsled at the touch of a button, has Gatling guns and ejector seats, and runs on methane harvested from the atmosphere. It also has a bitchin’ sound system that plays Ride of the Valkyries non-stop in glorious surround sound. Whale skin hubcaps optional. You build it, I’ll test drive it.

Grab the microphone and perform at a karaoke bar, even if you have stage fright.

That's the table.

That’s the table.

This one time at summer camp (Rel Week 2009) I sang Finland Song a capella and in spite of having to take cover under a table due to a deluge of empty beer cans, did all the verses too. I’d say that counts.

Stay up all night partying in a big city like Los Angeles, Tokyo, or London.

Are you saying Riga, Latvia is not a big city?

Watch a meteor shower.

Have done. Also, northern lights, which seems to be an endless source of curiosity for Aussies.

Go bungee jumping or skydiving – really, anything that involves heights and massive amounts of adrenaline.

I got to be free / Free as the wind / Free is the way / I got to be

I got to be free / Free as the wind / Free is the way / I got to be

I’ll see your skydiving and raise you skydiving naked.

Throw yourself a huge birthday party.

I think I have at some point, but if I remembered it, would it have been that huge?

Climb a mountain (it doesn’t have to be Mt. Everest).

Didn't climb this one.

Didn’t climb this one.

Got me there.

Learn to bartend.

There's bartending, and then there's bartending.

There’s bartending, and then there’s bartending.

Grab a bottle of beer and an opener, lift off the cap, enjoy. If it’s a twist top, skip the opener. That was easy, wasn’t it?

Go scuba diving – or at least try snorkelling.

Pterois volitans, as featured in The Spy Who Loved Me.

Pterois volitans, as featured in The Spy Who Loved Me. This specimen was happy to pose for pictures in Bootless Bay, PNG.

Been there, done that in Australia, Thailand, and Papua New Guinea. Water was wet in all three.

Homo sapiens and Carcharias taurus in Shark Alley, Stradbroke Island, QLD, Australia.

Homo sapiens (yours truly) and Carcharias taurus in Shark Alley, North Stradbroke Island, QLD, Australia.

Travel somewhere all by yourself. It’s not as scary as it sounds.

Two solo round-the-world trips should cover this one.

Eat something that makes you squirm (may we suggest bugs, pigs’ ears, or intestines?).

Enjoying fugu in Tokyo. Domo arigato MIka-san.

Enjoying fugu in Tokyo. Domo arigato Mika-san.

Now here’s a tricky one, very few things make me squirm. I refuse to eat any politicians.

Learn to speak a new language.

What’s the cutoff? I can order “two beers” in more than 10. Two, because then you don’t have to worry whether it’s Die, Der, or Das.

Spend a night camping under the stars.

Done in both hemispheres.

Join an intramural sports team, even if you’re not an athlete.

And the reason for this would be …? No thanks, I think I’ll pass on this one.

Splurge on an item that you technically can’t afford, but that will last for years.

What is this “can’t afford” thing you speak of?

Sign up to be a mentor, or spend some time volunteering.

Anybody keen to learn how to make a wicked chili con carne?

Go whitewater rafting.

OK, may do at some point.

Apply for your dream job – there’s no better time to try.

I will immediately when I spot an opening for a jazz listener.

Take a cross-country road trip. (Remember: it doesn’t have to be across the U.S.)

Driving around in Central Europe it’s pretty difficult to not do so by accident. Case in point: Luxembourg. Even more so: Liechtenstein. They might not count as Real Countries though.

Have also driven all the way through Denmark (a Real Country, yay SAS and Tuborg!) without once letting the pedal off the metal. Good thing the mobile home wouldn’t go faster than 110 km/h, also the limit.

Attend a major sports event, whether it’s the Superbowl, World Cup, or World Series.

Saw the Cowboys beat the $#!T out of the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium once. That’s as major as they come in my book.

Sign up for a summer share at a beach house, ski house, or lake house.

Way ahead of you, already got one.

Take a class that’s totally out of your element, like improv, golf, or pottery-making.

Gobbledy bloody goop.

Gobbledy bluddy goop.

Most of the classes I took at Uni would fall under this category. Perhaps none more so than “Basic Course in Mathematics S 2”. Sounds innocuous enough, right? I still have nightmares of helix integrals and solids of revolution.

Get lost in a foreign country. Sometimes, that’s the best part of the trip.

When you come to a fork in the metro line, take it.

When you come to a fork in the metro line, take it.

Been there, done that, got the T-shirt. Although my “Lost in Helsinki” T-shirt has been lost in the mists of time.

Unplug for a full day…or even a full week if you’re feeling zen.

Enjoying a spot of Vonnegut.

Enjoying a spot of Vonnegut.

Yay brother!

Now let’s celebrate.

Yes, let’s.

Mihin tahansa (paitsi Helsinkiin)

English summary: I made a music video. Watch it on YouTube.

Anssi Kela heitti virtuaalisen rapumerran Internetin aaltoihin ja laittoi syötiksi naapurin kissaakin mehevämmän saaliin. “Martin-haaste”-nimellä kulkeva koko perheen leikkimielinen kisailu toimii lyhyesti näin: 1) tee Anssin uuden “Nostalgiaa”-levyn jostain biisistä oma versio, 2) lataa siitä video YouTubeen, ja 3) eniten katsomiskertoja kerännyt video voittaa hienon palkinnon. Kuinka hienon? Erikoistilauksena tehdyn Martin-kitaran, joka on arvoltaan useimpien muusikoiden autoa tyyriimpi (ainakin minun).

Tätä kirjoittaessa kisaan on osallistunut toistasataa vetoa, mukana niin hienoja, etten elättele kovinkaan suuria toiveita kitaran kotiutumisesta residenssiini. Vilkaise nyt kuitenkin, millaisen version tein Anssin biisistä “Mihin tahansa (paitsi Helsinkiin)”.

Nostalgia Ain’t What It Used To Be


(dir. Andrey Tarkovsky, 1983)

Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink.

Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink.

There are few directors as universally revered as Soviet Union’s grand master of cinematic impenetrability, Mr. Andrey Tarkovsky. While I pretend to enjoy selected parts of his œuvre to appear more intelligent than I really am, the more advanced epics are, sadly, beyond my stamina. Hence, the acid test is easily administered: did I fall asleep during the movie? Solaris, Stalker, and even Zerkalo get a pass, while Andrey Rublev and now Nostalghia do not.


(dir. Damien Chazelle, 2014)


The Kirby Silver Surfer is the only true Silver Surfer. Now am I right or wrong?

A fairytale of New York, wherein a young and ambitious drummer tries to make it in the topsy-turvy world of jazz as practiced in the fictitional “Shaffer” Institute of Advanced Jazz and Cymbal Throwing.  J.K. Simmons won the “best supporting actor” Oscar for his portrayal of the sadistic band leader Clarence Fletcher, and quite rightly so – he’s easily the best movie villain since Colonel Hans Landa and his milk-drinking antics. The pace is pretty intense, which makes up for the cartoonish characters and lack of logical plot.

Check out also DJ Wh1pla$h, where “a young DJ struggles to make it at Skrillex Academy.” And while you’re at it, although it has nothing to do with Whiplash, shiver with anticipation as James Bruschetta and Adam van Busen are about to drop the bass in 2MNYBTNS.

Me Rosvolat

(dir. Marjut Komulainen, 2015)

Me Rosvolat

We are the very models of a modern Major-General.

It’s easy to make a movie for children, right? Just dress up a bunch of actors in funny clothes – extra points for a cool theme, like dinosaurs or pirates – and get them to overact even more than usual, throw in a couple of kids the target audience can relate to, crib a script from a book (helps if the book is popular, but it’s not a requirement) and make sure it’s full of plot holes, and viola! A summer blockbuster is born, or at least something that can be used to show the Finnish Movie Foundation that their generous grants bought more than just gummy bears for the wrap party.

By the way, the pirate van is clearly influenced by the plane flown by Truman Sparks in Fandango.

Valkoinen peura

(aka The White Reindeer, dir. Erik Blomberg, 1952)

Valkoinen peura

The hills are alive with the sound of vampire reindeer succubi.

Full of “Wait, what?” moments, Valkoinen peura remains to this day as the only Finnish movie to ever win a Golden Globe. It’s also – as far as I know (spoiler alert!) – the only movie made anywhere to feature a leading lady who is not only a vampire, but also a reindeer. Oh, and a succubus, but that’s sort of implied by the vampire bit, isn’t it? Lots of reindeer action and beautifully photographed snowy vistas.


(aka The Punk Syndrome, 2011, dir. Jukka Kärkkäinen & J-P Passi)


Punk is not dead, it’s just sitting very still.

Finland’s entry in the 2015 Eurovision Song Contest was Aina mun pitää by Pertti Kurikan nimipäivät, a punk four-piece from Helsinki. Much has been made of the fact that all the band members have learning disabilities. Four years earlier their unlikely story was made into a documentary, in places funny, in others insightful. Well, mostly funny, because life is.


(1980, dir. Peter von Bagh)


Rumour has it that Tapio Rautavaara was seriously considered for the role of Mr. Spock.

Tapio Rautavaara, the Elvis of Finland. Wait, that didn’t come out quite right. Elvis could have been the Tapsa of America, if only Elvis had been a world-class athlete in addition to being a rock slash movie star. The late, great Peter von Bagh got the camera rolling on the man of the hour and probably went down the pub to wait out the rambling. You’d be well advised to stick around for the stories though. Where else are you going to hear an Olympic champion in the javelin recount how he won the gold for his archery team at the World Championships, and what the team did to celebrate afterwards?

K-Chit? Not On My Watch

Vogue interviewed Jony Ive back in October, hot on the heels of the Apple Watch announcement. Here’s Sir Jony waxing poetic on, of all things, the sound the wristband makes:

“But listen as it closes,” he said. “It makes this fantastic k-chit.” He was nearly whispering. And when he said the word fantastic, he said it softly and slowly—“fan-tas-tic!”—as if he never wanted it to end.

Ive is definitely onto something here. Exhibit A:

The KA-CHIK! does have an atavistic appeal, doesn’t it? Of course, it doesn’t hurt that one of the most ultimate male symbols of days gone by, the only lighter that Marlboro Man would even consider worthy of using in his cancer-courting ritual – the Zippo – is all about the sound it makes:

Opening the top lid produces an easily recognizable “clink” sound for which Zippo lighters are known, and a different but similar “clunk” when the lighter is closed.

The Apple Watch is coming out in just a few weeks, and I’m sure there’ll be no shortage of unboxing videos on YouTube featuring that k-chit of Jony Ive’s dreams.


Apple’s MacBook line has featured a power connector called MagSafe since 2006. A very good invention it is too: the connector attaches itself to the laptop with a magnet, so that when (not if) someone trips on the cord, it detaches and the laptop doesn’t come crashing on the floor. Also, when connecting, one only has to bring the connector to the vicinity of the laptop’s (female) power port, at which time the magnet will take care of business and make the connection – complete with a resounding TCHAK! This is surely not a coincidence.

So: how come if, for the past decade, Apple has had this “fan-tas-tic!” power connector on its laptops… the newly unveiled new-generation MacBook, made of nothing but pixie dust and gilded helium, does not have a MagSafe connector? Jony, Jony, Jony. Where’s the TCHAK? Where’s the k-chit?

Does the new connector make an even more “fan-tas-tic!” sound? NO! The new USB-C connector just plugs in, and that’s it! The least Apple could do is make a k-chit sound come out of the speakers at an appropriate moment, and in fact I would not be surprised if that was indeed the case. After all, we live in a world where even electric cars must make noise to fill the noise pollution quota to which we’ve all become accustomed. And speaking of fake car noises, the 2015 Ford Mustang has a 4-cylinder engine, yet tries hard to sound like a V8.

Getting back to the Apple Watch, I’m afraid a “fan-tas-tic!” k-chit may not be quite enough to persuade me to part with my dearly beloved money, especially since I don’t have an iPhone and therefore would need to get one of those as well. Of course, this may all change once I get to experience the k-chit in the wild. Maybe I, too, will join the millions of people whose life will be made complete by k-chit. Complete, that is, until next year’s fantastic model. And an even more fan-tas-tic k-chit.

Moving Pictures

2014 is done and dusted and 2015 is well under way, which means it’s time for another “I watched these so you don’t have to” update from your intrepid author and humble servant, serving time here at Fiori e Baci HQ. In a twist that should surprise very few, I didn’t actually watch any of the movies I was going to in 2014, which means I get to keep the same New Year’s Resolution.

Penguins of Madagascar

(2014, dir. Eric Darnell & Simon J. Smith)

Boy, is this movie cheezy.

Boy, is this movie cheezy.

Now in glorious 3-D! Penguins of Madagascar is full of style and devoid of substance. Is this really what the target audience wants and expects? “Style” refers here to the quality of animation, which I must say is very good. There’s an abundance of breathtaking action sequences shot in a way that would be very difficult if not impossible to achieve in a live action movie. I’m using “substance” as shorthand for things like interesting storyline, characters one can relate to, plausible plot – all of which are sadly missing here. A quickly forgettable ride, if a fast and colourful one.

Uuno Turhapuro, Suomen tasavallan herra presidentti

(1992, dir. Ere Kokkonen)

Fan service is not a recent invention.

Fan service is not a recent invention.

Another installment in the epic saga of Uuno Turhapuro, Esq. (Previously.) Whoever said that “familiarity breeds contempt” got it horribly wrong. Familiarity breeds endearment, at least when it comes to anti-heroes of the silver screen. Anyone voluntarily watching this would already know what to expect: a barrage of lame jokes, a few genuinely funny ones thrown in, actors fully embracing the caricature-ness of their characters, Vesa-Matti Loiri as Uuno improvising his way through, an implausible setting & storyline – everything one would expect from a sitcom, here milked for 84 minutes straight.

Ripa ruostuu

(aka Ripa Hits the Skids, 1993, dir. Christian Lindblad)

It takes two to tango.

Ripa channels his inner Fred Astaire.

Speaking of familiarity and endearment, this must have been the umpteenth viewing for me, and I’m not quite sure why. There are more than a few parallels between Ripa and Uuno, and the brief but glorious appearance of V-M Loiri as Ripa’s father only works to underline these.

Ripa is a struggling movie auteur wannabe, whose movies (apparently full of sex & violence, although we never get to see any actual footage) have failed to make a dent in the annals of cinematic history. As a result, Ripa is struggling to make ends meet, which is kind of ironic in light of the fact that Sam Huber – who was rightfully awarded a Jussi (Finnish equivalent of Oscar) for his portrayal of Ripa – is a genuine real-life millionaire. Although it’s never spelled out as such, Ripa must be a big fan of Charles Bukowski, such is his womanizing laissez faire approach to everything in life, even if he does draw a line in the sand at a critical pivot point in the movie.

If you’re familiar with (and perhaps even a fan of) Aki Kaurismäki‘s brand of dry Finnish wit, you’ll be right at home with Ripa ruostuu. Recommended for all nihilists at heart.


(1993, dir. Mark Jones)

Here's Johnny!

Here’s Johnny!

Leprechaun is famous for, among other things, featuring the big screen debut of one Jennifer Aniston. A horror comedy that does not (and could not) take itself very seriously, Leprechaun provides surprising amounts of light entertainment and silly scares even after 20 years.

Loputon Gehennan liekki

(aka Eternal Flame of Gehenna, 2011, dir. Sami Kettunen)

And an apple pie, and a strawberry milkshake, to go, please.

And an apple pie, and a strawberry milkshake, to go, please.

Now here’s a real labour of love: a documentary about the Finnish black metal underground scene that consists mainly of interviews with scene doyens with names like Lord Satanachia (pictured above), Nuclear Holocausto Vengeance and Satanic Tyrant Werewolf. Probably best appreciated with a jug of something vile and strong in alcohol content in hand.

Remo Williams – The Adventure Begins

(1985, dir. Guy Hamilton)


See this finger? You don’t want to know where it’s been.

Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins was, as the name implies, intended to start a franchise based on the (in)famous The Destroyer pulp fiction series. Sadly, this half-baked attempt marks (so far, one adds with a heart full of hope) the only silver-screen appearance of Remo and his mentor Chiun. What went wrong? Well, not the casting, that’s for sure – Fred Ward is the perfect choice for Remo, and Joel Grey is just the right amount of funny as the always hypercritical Master of Sinanju. There are rumours of a reboot, but I’m not holding my breath.

Nightsatan and the Loops of Doom

(2013, dir. Christer Lindström)

Note to self: remember to buy toothpicks. And maybe some floss.

Note to self: remember to buy toothpicks. And maybe some floss.

A movie about a Finnish 80s flashback synth trio, reimagined as a 70s Italian sci-fi genre flick, with generous helpings of Jodorowsky-like surrealism (spoiler: one of the main characters is an egg-laying transvestite) – dubbed in Italian?!?!? The end result is just as ridiculous as it sounds, which should be enough for anyone to figure out whether they’ll enjoy it (as I did) or not. It’s also only 24 minutes long, which in this case is quite enough.


(1987, dir. Clive Barker)

Didn't I meet you on a summer cruise?

Didn’t I meet you on a summer cruise?

There was a considerable amount of buzz when Hellraiser came out in the days of VHS. I must have viewed it at some point but promptly forgot doing so; nothing like a bit of déja-viewing to jog the old brain cells though. I doubt there’ll be a 3rd viewing – it’s not that good, to be honest. It’s a straight horror story made in a time when most horror was tongue-in-cheek, so kudos to Mr. Barker for that. However, there’s way too much promise (the Cenobites, who look like a washed-out punk band, to give you an example) compared with what is delivered. Apparently this started a franchise (unlike Remo) – I don’t think I’m in a hurry to look for the follow-ups, though.

Delta Force

(1986, dir. Menahem Golan)

Chuck Norris doesn't often use binoculars, but when he does, he makes them shrink just by squeezing on the sides.

Chuck Norris doesn’t often use binoculars, but when he does, he makes them shrink just by holding them in his bare hands.

Produced by The Cannon Group, directed by Menahem Golan, starring Lee Marvin (in his final role) and Chuck Norris as Special Forces operatives. That pretty much says it all, and frankly I doubt the script was much longer. The years have not been kind to The Delta Force, but I guess that was never the intention. Vincent Canby, writing for the New York Times, considered this the “film all others will have to beat for sheer, unashamed, hilariously vulgar vaingloriousness.” I think he may have meant to imply that vulgar vaingloriousness is a bad thing. Is it? Answers on a postcard please.