Sunday, May 21, 2006

When hell froze over and other entertaining events

Finland is in turmoil. People are seriously questioning their mental health and the number of pinches given and received within the last 12 hours has, without a doubt, at least quadrupled. There are even people who think that it has now been proven that alternate realities do, in fact, exist.

What happened? Well. Finland won the friggin' Eurovision Song Contest with the monster rock number Hard Rock Hallelujah! by the awesome monstergroup Lordi. Yay to the millionth power!

I thought I'd never be able to write an entry like this. Ever. It wasn't supposed to be possible. It was supposed to be more likely for mankind to find life on Mars than Finland to win the ESC. We've participated some 40 times and up til last night, the record was pretty poor. Loads of zero points, awful performances (and I mean some truly dreadful ones) and last places on the score board.

But no more. Lordi rocked the whole continent (and then some) and did what nobody thought they could do. Took the price home and brought the Eurovision Song Contest to Helsinki for 2007.

I couldn't be happier for the band. Their appearance is such that there has been endless debates in the media about whether or not they are some sort of satanists or something. Well, to make things quite clear, they're NOT. And for them to win after having to face so much prejudice and ignorance - awesome!

So now as hell has frozen over (the other thing more likely to happen than Finland winning), it's time for the Finnish national broadcasting company to start thinking about the tiny little business of arranging the contest next year. I wonder what'll become of that. But for the first time in years I'll actually be interested in this carneval of camp humour that the ESC is. Go Lordi! You rrrrraaawwwwkkk!

Other entertaining events include an evening at the movies. Went to see the Da Vinci Code with Tytti and Jani. And I was entertained. Just as I wanted to be, when watching the movie version of the novel.

I think this movie is, once again, a prime example of people taking things too seriously. I can't understand what it is with people and their lack of understanding the concept of fiction. Sure, there are historical factoids (and even some real facts) included in the story, but fercrissakes, it's still mostly fiction and written with the aim to entertain (and obviously earn the writer a few bucks), just like any other lightweight novel.

What never seizes to amaze me, however, is the whole different set of standards people tend to apply to novels that deal with the church and its past. Or perhaps it's envy talking. Here's this mediochre author, who just happens to stumble over an old idea (and yes, that's what the story is) and manages to wrap it up in new covers and make a bazillion dollars out of it. So stop whining - the Templars, the Holy Grail, the Catholic church with its mysteries and the works of Da Vinci have been out there for centuries, up for grabs for any storyteller. If you didn't think of writing the novel yourself, get over it and find another idea.

And the ever powerful Catholic church should get over it, too. I mean, they really should be more worried about how the ban on birth control devices is spreading death and disease and creating misery for thousands and thousands of people around the worlds, instead of waving their fists at some piece of literature, in this case a.k.a. fiction. And if they're really so worried about people getting the wrong ideas about the church and/or abandoning their Catholic faith because of possible misconceptions about the role of Mary of Magdala in Jesus' life or such organisations as Opus Dei - once again, stop whining about it and start a facelift of sorts to attract the "lost lambs" back. And to be frank, if a simple fictional story about the holy grail can make the church feel so vulnerable, isn't there something wrong with the picture in the first place?

Anyhow, back from the land of rant... I thought the movie was a perfect way to spend a Saturday evening after a truly horrible week of work. Relaxing and amusing, with a hint of history and mystery and some action, too. Spot on for me in my state of mental awareness. :)

I actually liked the way they brought the past into the present of the movie by using "ghosts of the past" as a visual aid. And even though the characters had to solve some of the riddles a bit quicker than in the book, they still were awfully slow with the missing orb and Sir Isaac Newton's grave. :) And Paul Bettany's Silas. He was disturbing, just as he was supposed to be. I often quite like Bettany's work and this role was no exception.

Now it's time for me to get back to work. Tomorrow's the last prep course session before the rehearsal exam. Yay! Then it's only the exam and a review session a week from Tuesday. despite the course being loads of fun, I'm going to be so happy to be done with it. At least for a year. Phew.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Living la vida loca

Phew. I'm still alive. A cause for minor celebration, I'd say. Something like allowing myself to go and watch a little bit of Bride and Prejudice or something. Basically just kick back and relax for a short while. I think I've deserved it.

This May seems to be turning into a month of all work and no play, with the prep course going on (we're already two thirds done with it, as far as the materials go), the first week of the month having been a week of triple work (my lessons at school, my mom's lessons at school while she was in Paris and the prep course in the evenings) and now all the essays & 7th grader exams are piling up on my desk, just waiting to be graded. I could use some five extra hours in my days right about now. I'd probably use three of them for sleeping, mind you. But it'd be all for the best anyway, I'm sure. As it is (without the five extra hours), I'm feeling pretty battered. (And hug-deprived, but that's another matter entirely, heh.)

The prep course, no matter how exhausting, is solid good fun. Highly motivating for me, and challenging, too. This year's group is a bit livelier than the one I had last year, possibly at least partly because there are several students that are a bit older than this year's graduates from high school. They seem to have the nerve to interrupt me and ask tough questions, which is such a good sign. Although they do tend to stick to the more irrelevant questions, like the names of people in lower positions in all sorts of committees during the 1840's in Finland - which is so not the point of the book. There is still some historical thinking to be learned there. I keep telling them to think about the questions "why?" and "how?" so that they'd get the required depth to their essays, but it seems to be a tough nut to break, finding the relevant "chains" of cause and effect. But it's great to see how they start getting better results.

What is going to be interesting is to wait for the results of the entrance exam itself. At this point I think there are several students who have a very good chance of getting in, some that have a good chance if they keep working hard and a few who really need to work on their essays. But that's the way it was last year, and most of them got in just fine. I'm just going to be probably almost as nervous as the students will be, waiting for the day when the results come.

Having said all this, I must admit, once again, that I'll be sooo relieved when I'm done with the course. Which'll be on the 30th. I'll be so ready to not have to teach anything for a while. I can just concentrate on my own stuff, according to my own schedules (hmm, I think I may have to spend some time soon just planning that schedule). I'm actually quite looking forward to it. I just hope I'll get my research well on its way soon, meaning that I hope I'll be able to get all the materials I need without too many problems. If that happens, I can just sit down and write, write, write. (And read, read, read.)

But until then, I'll just try to keep my head above the waves, so to say. There are things that need to be done before June 3rd, and there can be no excuses. However, now it's time for some silly Bollywoodish entertainment or something, tomorrow is the day for the next ton of work.