Saturday, 26 May 2018

HELSINKI: what's HOT, what's NOT

Helsinki today. Literally. (at the time of publishing this)

Getting there VS Getting on

HOT The city's fantastic network of buses, trams, and metros take you practically anywhere you want to go. They are clean, safe and efficient. I love Helsinki, especially in summer. Not only for its famous architecture, but because it's easy to visit the city's museums, restaurants, small boutiques, and just bum around. But wonder how they'll cope with the new ticketing system this summer(see below).

NOT Conductors will kick you off the tram or bus without a ticket. You have to have a 'pay' app in your smartphone or buy a ticket from R-Kioski, or some other place, before you board. A 17 ride card will set you back 30 euros. It will be a tourist nightmare this summer unless the city hires kids to sell tickets around town. And I wonder how many riders try to beat the system. The machines are so hard to use, they all have to be changed. Why can't the conductor sell few tickets? Human to human contact is good for people.

Talking VS Texting

HOT: LUNGI on Korkeavuorenkatu is a great place to hang out. A big leather couch and chairs in the window are an invitation to come in have a drink or something to eat and meet people. It's one of my go-to places in the city. I was having a glass of wine when a guy walked in with a cute dog under his arm. I asked him what breed it was. We talked a while and he asked If I wanted to have another glass of wine. His friend joined us. It was fun to meet a couple of Finnish guys spontaneously. Lungi is that kind of place.

NOT: In pre-texting days waiting to board a plane, or to pass the time in the air, you talked to strangers. Sometimes you even fell in love - I met my husband on a train between Nice and Paris. The Shark gave us the idea to make a cell phone video gottaGETinTOUCH. I shot people with their phone in four countries, on and off, for a year. After that, I went cold turkey. Now I read going cell phone-less is the new status symbol. User alert: your body and brain might freak out. Worse. You might miss the love of your life.

Authentic VS Trendy NOT

HOT Strindberg: This restaurant feels like it's been operating (with updates) since Gustav III. I never look at the menu. I always order the meatballs, they're the best in Helsinki. Lunch with a pal usually lasts till four, sometimes five or six o'clock. When we call it a day with a glass of champagne. Elegant without being stuffy, (green and white gingham tablecloths, wide, old wooden plank floors) or too serious. The menu is predictable. And I know that meatballs will always on it. The service is terrific but not fussy. Reservations essential.

NOT Le Brasserie Basque is one of those impossible-to-get-a-reservation in-places. But that's where the Bes and Wannabes wanna be. We did too. My sister-in-law finally landed a time: 7:30 – 9:30 on a Wednesday (there are three sittings starting at 5:30). It was empty when we arrived but filled up quickly. The music was loud and so was the crowd. The service slow and the food so-so (the polenta citron looked like a bowl of morning porridge). The main course (cod) was good but minuscule. We were running late and asked the owner if we could stay a little longer. He gave us 15 extra minutes. The 9:30 to 11:30 gang was waiting to be seated.

Nice surprise VS BIG disappointment

HOT Maxim cinema finally opened after what seemed like a forever renovation. Always upscale it has kicked it up a notch. On the second floor is a small bar with drinks and snacks. But it's the big comfortable individual chairs with attached tables that tell you this is the next best thing to having your own private screening room. The Shark and I saw a double feature: like being kids again. Only better. Instead of popcorn, we had wine with our movies.

NOT Academic Bookstore was not only a national treasure, it was one of the best bookstores in Europe. The first place my husband took me when I came to Finland. It made most bookstores look like amateur hour. Jut the books in English and the choice of magazines and newspapers made me want live there. And in an Alvar Aalto building to boot. When they installed Cafe Aalto the whole set-up was perfect. It still looks about the same, except a Starbucks is where the newspapers and magazines use to be. When I asked for two books: Umberto Eco's Chronicle of a Liquid Society and Phillip Pullman's Daemons Voice they come up empty. It made me sad for the good old days. And when I talk to friends about the Academic bookstore, it's like someone close to us has died. Amazon here I come. But not willingly.

Source: personal perspective

news, views, boos

Next week: DAY of the DEAD by l. Ron Chappell: big admiration spiked with a bit of envy

NOTE!! Ahhem... you didn't come to think of the obvious did ya? Like, buy tickets from the driver?? Because you can, you know, both on buses and trams ;-)

You are probably thinking about the trains. They got rid of conductors on the short commute train routes where the city area bus tickets are valid, and you indeed need to buy the ticket beforehand. The same goes for the Metro, you need to have a ticket before entering the station. But, as said, not buses or trams, which also haven't had conductors, well, ever. They did have separate cashiers though, but that was many decades ago.

PS: Maggy, i guess you recognize the bike in the photo? Yes, i'm still using it. Thank you!


Hey, you have to add something to the blog:  I DID GET KICKED OFF THE TRAM. The driver told me I had to go to an RKIOSKI.  It happened twice. The last time because my 30 euro ticket ran out. True Story.

- Maggy

Sounds to me like like a communications failure. Yes, you need to go to the R-kioski (which can be found almost everywhere), if you want to have more credit/time on your travel card, the driver can't do that. BUT he/she could have sold you a single ticket for that one ride. 

EDIT: I checked, and dang, you are right!! They stopped selling tickets on trams in February. Bus drivers still sell them though.

All this said, i highly recommend the phone app for the occasional traveler - that's what i use too. If you have your phone, you have a ticket.


Thursday, 3 May 2018


Spacewhale's Music Corner

When Erkki and I have a project ready to edit we go to his studio on Vattuniemenkatu 19 (translation: Raspberry Cape's Street 19). I love SPACEWHALE. It's like going into the belly of the beast – different than the regular world. It's a guy place that's friendly to women.  In one corner there's a hanging out place with couches, coffee table, frig, coffee maker.

The studio has a high ceiling and a green screen for shoots. At one end is a bunch of musical instruments. When Erkki and his pals have the time they come here and blast away. When we're working and Erkki needs a pause, he bangs away on his drums.  Against one wall are a couple of editing machines. They're old and take time to warm up. While we wait Erkki brags about the super-computer he uses in his home-office.

I like this project and come prepared. By mining movies in the public domain, I found one directed by the father of American cinema: D. W. Griffith. My jaw dropped. 'Abraham Lincoln' made in 1930 was in the public domain. I watched the movie six times and the Shark helped plan the story.  Also which scenes we thought would be good. It was Trump who gave us the idea. He said Lincoln was the greatest president and he, Trump, was the 2nd greatest.Whoa. Erkki and I decide to declare a tweet war. Pitch Abe's words of wisdom against Trump's trash.

We decided to update Lincoln to the 21st C. His quotes make as much sense today as they did in the 19th C. We downloaded the footage and went to lunch while we waited. Then Erkki designed the twitter bird and the opening. He had to concentrate so I had to shut up. But it was fun to watch the bird come to life. We chose the scenes from the footage and put them in the right order, then the music. We used the Civil War music (in public domain) from the film and Erkki laid different tracks over it. Lots of thump-thump percussion. We looked at it over and over and corrected anything we didn't like. We started at 10:00 am and finished at 9:00 pm. My brain was fried. But we both said, 'that was fun.' Check out 'Abe Lincoln Tweets'.

PS: D. W. Griffith's 'Abraham Lincoln' was voted one of the 50 worst films, but the crowd scenes are fantastic. And the production values, especially for the 1930s, are excellent.

Source: youtube films in public domain

Next week: HELSINKI: what's HOT, what's NOT

Note: This was a fun project, it's also been a while since i've made any loop-based music - quite refreshing. Also, i agree on the relevance of Abe's quotes.

One thing to mention, Maggy is the only client i let sit with me when i edit. That used to be the norm in the olden days when editing was done from tape to tape, and making changes to edits after the session was very, very complicated. Add to that the pretty steep cost of the editing hours (those tape machines cost a Mercedes Benz each), and every client wanted to supervise the edit, breathing on my neck.  Had enough of that back then. Nowadays i have an editing / 3D animation / audio workstation at my home office. All feedback from clients is done online - usually, i edit a full version of the project, which then goes to the clients as a simple link to a file on Google Drive, for evaluation and revision notes. Rinse and repeat. I prefer the modern way, but there was something very appealing in the old linear process - you needed to be committed in a completely different level when making edits, and what you have after the editing session was pretty much the final product because A) the client was there all the time to approve stuff as we went on and B) changes were so expensive and slow to make.

Finally, about the computer at the studio - it indeed is old. But back in it's hayday, it was the hottest thing in town. Also, was not cheap. 8 CPU cores, 16 GB of ram, SSD drive, and a Raid 0 array as the media drive, the best NVIDIA GPU of the time. Not bad for 2006 - and not that shabby even today, over ten years later. Which is like two or three eternities in computer speak. The hotness i have at home (16 cores, 64 GB ram, dual GeForce TITANS etc.) isn't that new anymore either, i recall i bought this machine in 2013 or 2014. It won't be THAT long until this one will go to the studio, and i will have yet another five-grand toy at home. The thing with this kind of higher end machines is - you really can use them professionally for years. And when it's time to retire them from the daily crunch, they still have a few more years of life in them as decent "normal" computers.

PS: Writing that last paragraph was fun - i enjoy thinking of Maggy reading the semi-jargon, trying to decipher what the heck i mean ;-)

- Eki