Sunday, February 26, 2006

If it comes in pints, I'll have one (or two)

What a great evening I had yesterday. It pretty much made up for the less than great winter vacation I spent mostly fighting off a cold and other ailments and studying for a boring exam. (Which, if I'm extremely lucky with my guesses, might get a passing grade - I'm keeping my fingers crossed.)

First of all, I started my evening at the housewarming party of Kaisa and Tero. Loads of friends and excellent discussions, heaps of tasty snacks and plenty of beverages, of which I didn't drink that much at all, due to my plans for the rest of the evening. But during the couple of hours I stayed at the party I was once again convinced that K&T sure know how to throw a good party. A room full of likeminded people lively chatting about lj's, Harry Potter, fanfic, translating literature, thesis writing problems (problems I share with Anckyria), television series, cars - you name it, it was probably discussed during the evening.

In other words, I know I left an excellent party behind, when I headed out for my "Muggle Evening" with my darling friend Satu. We had a leisurely plan: a movie and a couple of beers in a local Irish pub.

We went to see the movie The New World by Terrence Malick, starring such names as Colin Farrell, Christian Bale, David Thewlis and Q'Orianka Kilcher. I didn't know what to expect from the film, since I unfortunately haven't seen the previous movies by Malick and I hadn't read that much about this particular movie, either. Only that it is now Oscar nominated and highly praised by at least some critics.

What we saw was a breathtakingly beautiful, quiet, yet powerful movie. The story is, of course, a retelling of the story of "Pocahontas" and John Smith, in early 17th century settlement of Jamestown in Virginia.

In 1607 a small group of English settlers arrives in Virginia. Their aim is to build up a fort and lay down the foundations for a larger settlement. They don't arrive in empty lands, though. They encounter natives, of a tribe lead by a respected chief, Powhatan. His most beloved daughter, Pocahontas, eventually saves the life of an Englishman, John Smith. The incredients of one of the most famous love stories of all times are in place. Smith and young Pocahontas learn from each other and fall in love, only to be separated by life. Smith refuses to use the princess as a hostage and doesn't dare to think of a life with her. He returns to England by his king's command and asks that after two months time Pocahontas will be told he has died at sea. Pocahontas crumbles at the news and continues living in the settlement, subdued and hopeless, bound now by the standards (and corsets) of the English life style. In the end she accepts the proposal of John Rolfe and becomes his wife and the mother of his son. The life of the proud princess, now named Rebecca, ends in England, however, as the king and queen of England request her to present herself in court. Rebecca and her family travel to the land of her husband, where she is a success in court, but where she finally falls ill and dies far away from her native lands.

Terrence Malick is said to be a director who is obsessed with nature and quite possibly slightly too ambiguous in his storytelling to appeal to larger audiences. I think this is clearly visible in The New World. The movie is at times almost as a nature documentary, with the vibrant sceneries of Virginia in lead role. Combine this with stunning sunsets and sunrises, expert use of light, shade and camera angles in all the scenes and the sounds of nature all around, and you've got an aesthetically extremely pleasing film. This is only accentuated by the slow paced storytelling and the lingering close-ups of the characters. The whole movie is almost like a poem, and I felt very calm when leaving the theatre.

The casting of the movie is also excellent. Q'Orianka Kilcher is just about perfect as Pocahontas. She isn't overshadowed by her more experienced fellow actors (this was her big screen debut), but is able to build a believable and lovable character. Her Pocahontas is innocent, tragic, frail, strong, loving and human. And the camera seems to love her features.

I was also quite impressed by Colin Farrell - or at least by his eyes. He seemed to do most of the acting with his eyes in this one. There isn't that much dialogue to start with (most of the spoken words of the movie are voiced over thoughts of the characters, not in dialogue form), but Farrell is the sometimes confused, sometimes tough and sometimes very gentle man John Smith is depicted as in this story. Quite expressive eyes, he has. (And not bad hair, either...)

All in all I thought the movie was beautiful. It is not a wild adventure or a thrilling drama, but it's a thoughtful description of two cultures meeting and a touching love story. If you think you can handle a less direct way of storytelling and enjoy a quiet journey, I recommend you go see this one.

Satu and I continued our evening at The Castle, a new Irish pub quite close to the movie theatre. It turned out to be a place worth visiting and we were doubly delighted when we noticed it was actually an evening with live music there. So we got our drinks (a pint of Newcastle Brown Ale for me, thanks) and wandered to front row to listen to the band playing Irish music. At best it almost felt like we were in a real Irish pub in Ireland - even though we haven't been to Ireland. But it felt like it, alright. And we weren't approached by more than one drunkard, who amused us to no end claiming he was very cute when he's sober. Satu was all pins and needles and I almost spilled my beer trying not to laugh out loud when she calmly said to the guy that cuteness clearly was a feature which is accentuated by being sober. I could see the guy's brain try to work that out, hah. We're not an easy couple of gals to approach, if we don't want to be approached. Which usually is the case when someone has had a lot too much to drink.

We stayed till about 2.00 a.m. and headed home both feeling good and happy. A perfect evening. Must go back to The Castle soon. A nice pub, indeed.

What else could one want from a Saturday evening? Good friends, an excellent movie, couple of pints of good beer, jolly good music and everything. I think my annoyingly good mood will continue, even though it's back to work tomorrow.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Words in a cloud

My word cloud. Very appropriate, methinks.

You can make your own here. Thanks to Tigerlily for the idea. (Just what I needed to avoid studying for a couple more minutes, heh.)

Motivational problems

I have an exam tomorrow. It should be the last political sciences exam I ever have to take - if I pass it. I haven't got a hold of two of the four books I'm supposed to read for it and only the other one of the two that I've got is actually interesting. So things aren't looking too good, if I really think about it...

In other words, I'm suffering from extreme lack of motivation to study. Even though I know this could well be the last time I ever have to read about IGO's and INGO's (and even BINGO's, as I learned just a while ago) and it all takes me one step closer to graduating - I just feel utterly, completely and devastatingly BLAAAGH.

It could be also because this is not exactly my idea of a nice winter vacation. Here I am, sitting by the books, still suffering from the aftermath of a bad allergy attack and a cold, while it's gorgeous outside (only about -1 degrees or so, sun shines and everything is brilliantly wintery, with just the very slightest touch of spring in the air) and I have a million other things I'd rather be doing. Including walks outside (maybe I'll take a risk later today and despite my cold go for a short walk...), knitting, reading novels and short stories (the latter being work-related reading), writing silly fics or just about anything else. And yes, this entry is also a way to have a break from studying - just to keep me from falling asleep on top of the stupid book on international organizations.

I don't know what happened to my enthusiasm about studying somewhere along the line. I used to be a very motivated student (well, at least in high school) and I used to have no problems reading for exams. It can't all be because some of the minors I've been forced to take to qualify as a history teacher (economics and political sciences, that is) aren't my favorites. I should be able to concentrate nevertheless. I guess there's just too much going on in my head nowadays. I need a Pensieve, from the Harry Potter universe. A place where I could store all the extra thoughts while I need to study.

Ah, well. Enough ranting, back to the books. Blergh.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

You are important to me

It's that one day of the year again when even the Finns, who are usually falsely considered grumpy and cold, tell their friends and loved ones they are important to them. Probably not in so many words, but little by little also our Northern nation is falling under the spell of the American candy-sugar-lovey-dovey Valentine's Day.

I went to town today and was genuinely happy to see so many people who had clearly bought flowers for their loved ones. Such a simple gesture, but effective nonetheless. I didn't get any flowers this year, since there is no one to buy them for me, but I did get to spend time with my friends (and Tytti even had bought me a chocolate heart - thanks, sweetie), which is always nice and even more so today.

I actually appreciate the fact that the whole Valentine's Day is known as "Friends' Day" in Finland, because otherwise it'd be so depressing to be single today. But since I have been feeling very cheerful lately (for no particular reason - I suspect there's a bit of spring in the air, who knows) , I refuse to be depressed by not getting any flowers from a Special person. Maybe I'll get some next year. :)

In other words, Happy Valentine's Day to everyone. You are important to me, even though I may not always remember to say it out loud.


Ja loppuun vielä muutama päivän teemaan sopiva sana Wendy Copelta, runokokoelmasta Vakavia asioita (Loki-Kirjat 1995).

Kirotut äijät

Kirotut äijät kuin kirotut bussit -
saa odottaa kuin nousevaa kuuta
ja kun yksi vihdoin lähestyy
tulee myös pari, kolme muuta.

Ne vilkuttelevat valojaan,
jos vaikka sanoisit: "Kiinnit veti!"
Siristelet nähdäksesi määränpäät,
mutta päätös on tehtävä heti.

Eikä takaisin voi enää palata.
Hyppäät pois, katsot kun muut
taksit ja rekat vilistävät ohi.
Ja tunnit, päivät, viikot, kuut.


Ei se monille edes pälkähdä päähän.
Vaan sinulle se sentään juolahti mieleen.
Vakuutit, että ostit jo kukat
melkein - vain jokin oli mennyt pieleen.

Kauppa oli kiinni. Tai epäröit -
niin tyypillistä meille, eikö vaan?
Varmaan jotenkin kuvittelit,
etten sinun kukkiasi haluaisikaan.

Hymyilin ja halasin sinua silloin.
Nyt hymyilen enää kaihoisasti.
Mutta kukat jotka melkein ostit
ovat kestäneet tähän asti.

Niin makeaa

Me ollaan niin samanlaisia -
sukulaissielut, kuin peppu ja paita.
Hyvä on, me hymyillään tuolle.
Mutta juuri niin on asianlaita.

Tohtori sanoi suhteestamme:
Sen toisin analysoisin.
Nimittäköön sitä miten haluaa
se on sama sanottuna toisin.

Kaipaan sinua, ääntäsi, hani.
Narsistinen objektivalintani.

Ja taas onneton valinta

Olen pihkassa A.E. Housmaniin.
Tilanne on pahempi, vaikkei uusi.
Se ei koskaan kajonnut naisiin
ja kuoli vuonna kolkytkuusi.


Sydämeni on tehnyt päätöksen.
Ja pelkään pahoin, se olet sinä.
Miten vain kaavailitkin sen
Sydämeni on tehnyt päätöksen.
Nyt jos sinua voi varata en
ensi vuosikin käy, sanon minä.
Sydämeni on tehnyt päätöksen.
Ja pelkään pahoin, se olet sinä.

Yhdeksänrivinen trioletti

No pakko on tätäkin koittaa:
Kulta! Sa oma niittykirvinen!
Jne. Pitää esteet voittaa.
No pakko on tätäkin koittaa,
kuin viululla ilman mitä soittaa.
Taiteen sääntöjä irvinen.
No pakko on tätäkin koittaa.
(Sääntöjä kuin ei jättää voi taa.)
Kulta! Sa oma niittykirvinen!

Siinä teille muikeita runoja päivän kunniaksi, ystävät armaat. Kokoelma on kerrassaan ilahduttava, suosittelen lukaisemaan läpi joskus. Saa vaikka lainaan minulta.

And to you, my friends less skilled in Finnish, I recommend trying to find the English original poems - in other words, poems by Wendy Cope, from her collection Serious Concerns (1986).