List of Things Which Have Happened
25 July 2011
So, sport's now over for the year. I mean, as things have developed for some years now, this is the end of a prolonged spell of following and watching lots of sport. I lost interest in football a long while ago, and that dominates the telly during the winter. Other British tv sports, I never had much interest in either. Darts, snooker... spare me.
What's just finished is the Tour de France. Three excellent weeks of competitive team sport, with minimal drug scandal for once. And it culminated in a green jersey at last for Mark Cavendish. I agree with many such as David Millar that he is Britain's supreme sportsperson at the current time. I know, you can argue the toss about my criteria for saying that, but as someone shrewdly put it; who else do we have who, when their moment comes, all the other top people expect them to win? And it's a surprise if they don't?
Before that, I was absorbed by the two tennis Grand Slams at Roland Garros and Wimbledon. Unlike cycling, I've never done much tennis. But the tv coverage is very good now - mainly thanks to Andy Murray I guess - and it is a very televisual sport. That is, it satisfies their craving for individual focus, gladiatorial combat, intensity, emotion, continual climaxing and of course sponsorship opportunities. Really, I should hate it. I think sport at its social best is all about team sport and all the co-operative values associated with that. So, though it's not obvious to outsiders, TdF cycling is a supreme team sport. But 'selfish' tennis? I can only say it's down to the drama and the skills. No, not just because there are girls in short skirts. This year there was more of the admirable stuff like heroism and amazing shots, than the nasty or depressing aspects.
But my 'sports season' has been greatly extended now I've been following Finnish ice hockey. Bizarre in a way, because the only way I can keep up with ongoing results is via a certain stats page. They update instantly, with lots of detail, but the fact is I can't normally see any of it. I suppose I have learnt a bit more Finnish, trying to read the blog pages etc. But there it is. I was hooked while watching the last two Olympics, and I favour the Finns because they're usually underdogs, and, well, it's Finland. My favoured team is Espoo Blues Naiset, simply because that's who some of my favourite players played for. Sadly, they were only 3rd in the league last year, but I have plenty to make me happy. First, the women were 3rd in the World Championships, which doesn't sound like much but they're closer than ever to the previously out-of-sight US and Canadians, and in the process beat the Swedes well. Best of all, the Finnish men are now World Champions, and they absolutely hammered the Swedes in the final. I even managed to watch this! I was at my brother's and with Jan his half-Finnish mate, we watched a German internet feed I found, and were duly astonished when after a tight first two periods, ending 1-1, the Finns turned it on and put 5 goals past the Swedes without reply. Wonderful stuff. And to 'finish' this off ha ha, I later found on YouTube the gobsmacking and unreal goal scored by Mikael Granlund against Russia in the semi final. I urge you to look it up ('Mikael Granlund goal' - there are several clips - you need to see the slow motion to understand what he did) and be impressed.
11 May 2011
CD's in my car at the moment: Scandinavian Music Group's Manner, PMMP's Veden varaan, Indica's Pahinta tänään, and Jenni Varitainen's Seili. 'In my car?' Well, that's probably where I mostly listen to cd's. And the slot takes four albums.
I just wanted to say that Manner ('Mainland', I think) is really good. SMG are indeed one of my favourites, I have all their albums (6 now, plus a compilation), and every album seems to have bettered the previous ones. The songs are classy and well written, beautifully sung, the musicianship is excellent and production flawless. What's their style? Um if I had to pin it down, I'd say it was country-ish, but you wouldn't confuse it with country, and not just because it's in Finnish. You hear the banjo on a lot of tracks. No ballads, no heavy rock, the tempo varies from quiet to medium lively... Agh, I'm going to end up making it sound like nothing much if I'm not careful. If you trust me at all, go find some of their songs on YouTube etc., and see what I mean. And buy it, somewhere reliable like Record Shop X.
The cover's attractive, showing three birds flying over a mountain landscape. They're very striking, crow-like, black with red patches on their wings. I took it to Finnish School and went round asking Finns if they knew what the bird was, but drew a blank until a classmate said they were North American birds. I should have thought, really, because the landscape isn't Finnish, it does look like the Rockies. Oh well. One day I wouldn't mind going North up into the Finnish wilds. Whatever the birds look like.
6 April 2011
No, this site is not in fact completely and utterly dead.
It's just had some extended down time, that's all.
In one form or another, I kept it up for, what, eight years maybe? A bit longer than a lot of comparable personal sites. It's been neglected for some while, due to what we like to call 'stuff', and not exactly being in tip top health form. And I admit that the dreaded Facebook distracted me for a period. But here we are, this is a good thing to do, for me at least. If you're here now (2011), thanks for looking in - I say that knowing that you're almost certainly someone who knows me personally in some fashion.
So, what's new, if anything?
Well, I'm still interested in most things Finnish.
There are a few more albums I'd like to write about, all Finnish. I've discovered one or two new (to me) acts. Two acts I've seen in recent months were Finnish - Erja Lyytinen (blues guitarist) and Sonata Arctica (power/ progressive metal). Currently, I'm mainly listening to pintandwefall's latest album, and my best new discovery, Jenni Vartiainen. The next album I'll buy will be Scandinavian Music Group's imminent sixth.
As for languages, while I go along to a kind of French thing once in a while, I concentrate on Finnish. My progress is uneven, I'm sorry to say - after five years, I'm not fluent. To be honest, I still struggle to follow a Finn if they speak at normal conversational speed. I haven't made any further trips to Finland. That may change before long, because that course in Harjattula (near Turku: I enjoyed the last one, three years ago) has been revived.
I have doubled my class attendance this year, thanks to the schools in Manchester and Liverpool operating on the same day. On 'school days', I've done a sort of triangular tour, heading down to Sale for the morning session, then carrying on along the M62 to the Seaman's Church in Liverpool for the afternoon, before doing the final leg home. Apart from all the educational benefits, it's meant eating an awful lot of cake. I have seen some improvement, most definitely in reading and writing. It's terribly hard to grow one's vocabulary, but it is slowly happening, and I don't have to resort to the dictionary or the verb book all the time. I'm having fun with essays (I wouldn't want to exaggerate, I'm only talking about a page or two). I even got a precious 'Brilliant Finnish!' next to one recent paragraph. But I could never get big headed, because what's most important to me is being able to crack conversational skills.
Dunno what else... I still cycle sometimes, in fact it's sunny now so I really ought to get out on the bike in a minute. I still do some editing (they charmingly refer to it as 'translation') for a Ukrainian firm. I do some DIY, my last achievement being turning a box room into a ghastly pink bedroom for my niece. I've done some landscape modelling for my brother's (supposedly my nephew's!) railway layout. I write short stories and such, just for fun.
Anyway, I have plans for this site. Not big plans, but they will take some organisation because I'd like to use different software. Maybe it'll come off, maybe it won't. Facebook etc doesn't satisfy the way I like to write. I want to cast off some of the content which I'm not bothered with any more; to concentrate on just Finnish music. to give the music section some coherence; and to - pause for dramatic effect - write some pages in Finnish. I'm sure it will only end up as a sort of comedy section for Finns, but we'll see how that goes. If at all.
So that's where we are at the moment. If, to my amazement, you're actually someone who's been checking back now and again, I can only apologise for the lack of anything new. But by the end of the Summer I hope things will be freshened up again.