Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A bad day

if you're having one too, here's something to maybe cheer you up.


The greatest song of the Great Lake Swimmers

The story of two star-crossed Amish youths, by the mesmerizing Lauren Groff.


A portrait of the artist as a young sea-lion watcher.





At a pinch the greatest movie ever. Certainly the most under appreciated.  

And not just 'cos it features Sam Rockwell's naked butt. (also, to answer your question: yes, that is Mischa Barton. She was once known for something other than headbands. Honest to blog.)

Now cheer up already!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Seasons greetings.

Merry Yuletide Everyone! or Hauskaa Joulua! as we say in Finland. Feel free to click on one of my favorite carols (and a very modern one at that) before browsing these few very Christmassy images.  As this might be my last Christmas in Finland for a while, I've selected pictures that are very Finnish in essence.






Rudolf Koivun kansi satuun Joulupukin satuja ja tarinoita. Vuosien varrelta valittuja I, 1932.



And a happy new year!


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Girls IN film

I'm writing my final paper on women's authorship in films, and to my great dismay have found that even in film circles many people aren't aware of the amazing female filmmakers of yore. Since many a great style blogger has posted about silent film starlets, I thought I'd show you the talented, intelligent and equally stylish ladies behind the camera.

Alice Guy Blaché who was arguably the writer, director, cinematographer and set and costume designer of the world's first ever fiction film. Mainstream film history, when it's not ignoring her entirely, will state her second to Melies' first, but even if that was true, I think she deserves recognition and reinstatement in the canon, especially since, unlike Melies, she had to hold down a secretary's job while doing her movie. (Her boss, Mr. Gaumont, told her she could mess around with the cameras if it didn't affect her day job.)

Jeanie MacPherson, actress, writer, director. In the teens she worked in collaboration with none other than Cecil b. DeMille. As film historians would have it his name has the kind of instant recognition hers does not.


Lois Weber, who among woman filmmakers is my hero and role model. Not only was she one of America's first true auteurs, but the themes of her work were often those of social injustice, feminism, and the battle against hypocrisy in politics, the church and society.

Frances Marion became in 1930 the first woman ever to win an Academy Award for the best adapted screenplay. She's credited with writing and producing over 130 films.


Anita Loos came into the scene a little later than most, but she also stayed on a lot longer, perhaps, sadly, because she never clamored for that man's job known as directing. (She, by the by, wrote the original version of The Women, which was remade this year. The original was quite the blockbuster of it's time.)

This of course is only the tip of the iceberg. And sadly, more often than not mainstream history's forgetfulness when it comes to talented ladies, is not a thing of the past. Today's female filmmakers are often ignored by the media, the industry bosses and awards juries.
(Hands up if you know how many times a woman has been nominated for a best director Oscar.)
So if your interested got piqued by these here ladies, do check out such contemporary geniuses as Kelly Reichadt,



Courtney Hunt,



and Julie Taymor.


For example. Do go see a movie directed by a woman. Go see them in the theatre, go see them the first weekend they open. If you like them, tell a friend, your auntie, tell your dentist. Remember that it might be your story that's left untold, when women filmmakers aren't allowed a voice in the business.

Rant over. Correct answer is 3 (Sofia Coppola, Jane Campion and Lina Wartmuller. None of them have won.)

Monday, December 1, 2008

What Loves Me?

Many moons ago (so maybe just one) I was tagged by the lovely and amazing Kater for a six random things meme, which is fun to do on this here rainy day

Six random things about me:

1.I'm half left-handed. There's is a term, ambidextrous, to describe people who use both their hands to do things. Sadly this term has no opposite, which is what I am. In kindergarten and first grade sweet, but misguided educators with old-fashioned ideas about schooling, tried to make me right-handed, and as a result I write with my left and do everything else awkwardly and ineptly with my right hand...

2. My eyes are different colored. One is blue-gray and the other green-gray with brown flecks. I used to pray for this when I was little and had blue eyes. Creepy...


3. I am obsessed with space shuttles. It is one of my life-goals to see one launched from Cape Canaveral.


4. I find number 4 unlucky.

5. I can tie a cherry stalk into a knot inside my mouth, like Audrey Horne does in Twin Peaks. I was young and stupid and didn't realise this was done through the magic of television, so one summer, I practiced and practiced until I got it right.



6. I love secrets. Sometimes I will keep really trivial things secret, just to have one.

Six random things I like:

1. Ike

2. Radio. So much better than TV.

3. Sleeping at someone else's house (not in a slutty way, mind you).

4. Men who wear dapper things like vests and hats (I married one.).

5. Peppermint patties (we don't have them in Finland.).

6. Science and history magazines (to the point of dweebness).


Six random things I don't like:

1. Chick lit.

2. Hipsters.I can't stand these fucking people
(which makes me a hipster, according this blog. which is the first thing that comes up when you image-google hipster. On the third page the panty-kind finally appear.)

3. Pork. I don't eat meat really, maybe once every 6 months, but never pork. Can't abide it.

4. Most kinds of candy. Lame I know. I just can't stand additives. Chocolate and liquorice are okay though. And peppermint patties, obviously.

5. Mobile phones. Especially fancy ones.

6. Hollywood starlets. I like a little substance in my acting, thank you.

Six Blogsters I'm tagging:
I'm guessing most of you have already done this, but if you haven't and your lacking in things to do, then consider yourselves tagged!

Now for some music:



Why Andre Charles Theriault is not already an international superstar escapes me!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Eat Me

Have you ever noticed how much we girls are effected by the fairy-tales of our childhoods? While fables are read to both girls and boys, they have a distinctly more profound impact on us girls, one that seems to carry over even into adulthood.

Personally I believe, that this is because of all the fictions in the world, fairy-tales are one realm where women characters get equal billing with their male counterparts. More often, in fact, women get the top billing, as protagonists and antagonists, while the male cast plays the bit parts. They are the gormless kings, who haven't the faintest clue their new wives might be out the get their daughters, and less-than-ingenious princes, who need to be rescued just as frequently as they rescue the maiden in disstress.

Truth be known, most of the original versions of such classic tales, as Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, and Snow White, had the girls themselves who tricking the wolf, exposing the witches, and killing their enemies. It was only as we neared the 20th century, that these girls became more witless and vulnerable with every re-telling.

Among them though, is one late addition, who has always been the hero of her tale, and has remained an enduring inspiration to generations young ladies peeking down the rabbit hole.
She, of course, is Lewis Carroll's Alice.

Of the many girl heroines of children's literature Alice seems to have the kind of staying power many other heroines lack. Sure, it's Cinderella who's story-line dominates the preferred narratives of most adult women (witness Sex & The City, any romantic comedy, and countless chick-lit novels), but it seems that many a female artist, and young woman outside the mainstream still identifies with Alice. She is, after all, just like us; a little lost and bewildered, headstrong, clever, adventurous, rebellious and outspoken. Certainly not a Disney Princess™.

According to some she is even something of a fashion icon.



She has been cast in many different roles in popular culture; including a grown-up comic book heroine of Alan Moore's Lost Girls, the violent and cynical survivor in American McGee's game Alice, and soon, so we hear, Tim Burton will make her over once more in an upcoming movie.





I'm hoping it'll be something like this trippy, mostly forgotten masterpiece, by Robert E. Lee. (Curiouser and curiouserly enough, the late Theresa L. Duncan was developing a project with the same name, also loosely based on the book. Starring Beck. Another link in the Great Theresa Duncan Mystery, perhaps?)





There have, of course, already been many film Adaptations of Alice's tale. There's, the seminal Disney version, in all it's PG psychedelic glory.




Not the mention the 1985 American version, that could be titled the "oh my"-version.



Along those lines also moves the 1999 version. Only with better CGI.





And let's not forget the 1933 version, starring such olden time-y Hollywood stars as Lillian Harmer, Cary Grant and W.C. Fields





Then there is the decidedly strange "Dreamchild". Yeah, what really did happen in that long-lost Victorian summer?




And then, finally, my personal favorite, whom I watched from VHS until the tape warped, the dark, obstinate, beautiful and often downright terrifying Alice, of director Jan Svenkmajer.

Witness the disturbing taxidermied nature of the White Rabbit, the"real doll" Alice, and the eye-balled little critters. Not to mention the creepy insect-like sound effects.




As a kid I loved Svenkmajer's Alice, because like most children's stories (at least the good ones) the original story contains a great deal of darkness, and this adaptation taps into it directly. Unlike the sanitized and sugar-coated versions of fairy-tales and children's stories would lead you to believe, most kids are perfectly capable of handling a little darkness, fear, and madness in their fiction. You could even say that these elements must be in place for a fairy-tale to become a true classic. It was, after all, their original purpose to warn children and adults alike about the very real dangers of the world.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Homemade

Enjoy. Don't ruin by reading what I wrote underneath.
Looking for a Horse Feathers video youtube repeatedly came up with 'people having sex with horses'. Tres Enumclaw. Gross.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

And as for all you book lovers...

...you might enjoy The Golden Notebook Project...


...in which six cool ladies read the eponymous book and discuss it.

Green

Now the leaves are gone, and even the lawns are turning brown and withered. Everything is dark and gray and soggy. This time of year leaves me with a yearning for the color green, its luscious tones, and soothing coolness.

With November dredging on, and the spring nowhere in sight, what could sate this longing?

Maybe green waters, or trees, or frocks...

Hoh River Rain Forest, Olympic National Park by Vicki & Chuck Rogers.

North Cascades NP (8) by bookworm1225.


Deep in the forest green, Mt. Rainer NP by moonjazz.


Fall Emerald Dress & Vintage Photo Albums by anja louise verdugo.
Retro Dolly by thenewclotheshorse.

For right now, I'll have to settle for green tea...
Thank goodness for flickr though.

Listening to: Timber Timbre

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Isn't it nice...

...to wake up in the morning, and discover the world became a little bit better place overnight?

Well done America.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sophia's Storm

Curious things can happen when you read to your child. You should take this into careful consideration.

When I was a little girl, far too young to fully understand everything about them, my mother began to read the Moomin books to me at bedtime.

In case you've never heard of them before, The Moomins are to us what Pippi Longstocking is to Swedish children's literature, or Dr. Seuss to the Americans, or The Chronicles Of Narnia to the Brits; iconic, essential.

They are the children of an extraordinary artist named Tove Jansson.


Ms. Jansson was, in addition to being a children's writer, a painter, a sculptor, a political satirist, a novelist, a sea-farer and a world traveller, and an all-around extraordinary human being.
Part of the Swedish-speaking minority in Finland, and a daughter of artists, she decided on her life's work at the tender age of sixteen and set out to become a painter.
(Self-portrait with lynx boa)

All her life Jansson did as she pleased, without much caring for the opinions of others, or the conventions of the surrounding society. For instance, she was the first Finnish artist to bring her same-sex life partner to the annual independence reception at the presidential palace.

Never fazed by contradictions, she lived a great part of her life on a small island in the gulf of Finland, and at the same time, an equally great part, from the Jazz Age to the seventies, in the capital, Helsinki.
But back to my mother and bedtime. Like all truly great children's books, the Moominvalley stories are just as deep and complex as those written for grown-ups. If, for instance, you were to change the names of the characters in her 1962 collection The Invisible Child, from Mumbles and Mys, round-nosed trolls and wandering pixie hobos, to Janes and Jodys, you would have short stories with topics ranging from identity, to materialism, depression, paranoia and desire for self-knowledge.

Jansson's characters also bear a great resemblance to her own self; they are anarchistic, kind and funny, and like to look at things from unexpected angles. Infinitely curious, they stumble upon strange events without prejudice and believe in the redemptive power of adventure. They can be sage or silly. Brave and frightened at the same time. They debate their place in the universe constantly, yet are surprisingly certain of their own essence.

(She and Hayao Miyazaki have much in common)



Everything she could, my mother got for me in continuation of my years with the Moomins. I had the Tove Jansson illustrated versions of Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, and The Hobbit. I had the Moomin comics, which were even wilder and more brilliantly, cuttingly mocking of modern life (the Moomins fall into sport frenzies, lifestyle gurus and luxury life, not to mention animal rights activists, silly self-afflicted artists, and even take drugs in these awesome 60s comics) She read only the brightest and bravest of children's fiction to me, and never ever denied any book from me, even when she should have (I got to hear most of Raymond Chandler's harsh hard-boiled fiction on tape before the age of seven, because we ran out of kids books-on-tape at the library).







Being exposed to these stories at the tender age of two, left the bar for subsequent children's literature rather high. As a matter of fact, Jansson's fiction set my tastes permanently, so that even as I moved onto more grow-up books, I was forever drawn to narratives with innocence and awe, where catastrophic events followed one another, and pain and fear lead to great realisations.

I went on to read Truman Capote and J.D. Salinger, swoon over Carson McCullers, and flirt briefly with such writers, as Banana Yoshimoto, and Alice Hoffman. Later there were such wonderful finds as Nicole Krauss, Marilynne Robinson, and the much mentioned Lauren Groff and Karen Russell, in who's stories caught a glimpse of something I was looking for.

I had always been aware that Jansson had also written a number of books for adults, but the few times I sought to read them, I was sorely disappointed by the inelegance of the language, and the lack of magical pull in them. After a few tries, I simply gave up on them, deciding that her ability in fiction for grown-ups, was the one small weakness of my childhood idol.

That is until this fall, when on a lark, I decided to try to read her work translated to English.
And what I read blew me away. The delicate beauty of these stories, their simplicity, and elegance, combined with their penetrating insight, cannot compare to any other work of literature, that I know of.

How was this possible? How could her work be so much better in a language other than my own? Because that was it. I made sure by taking out the same collection in Finnish, and it was very very different, apt, but not mesmerizing.

Jansson wrote all of her work in her native Swedish, which, unlike Finnish, but like English, is a Germanic language. Therefore the English translation's rhythms, word-play and metaphors must be much closer to the original. While her children's fiction found a way to brake that barrier, the clumsiness of the Finnish language must have dampened the finesse of her work for grown-ups, thus rendering the translation less faithful to the original.

The stories were a wonderful discovery, but they also got me thinking about my own work, which exhibits many sure signs of Janssonism, only detectable in the harsh light of hindsight. I love a good catastrophe-story, wise children with a penchant for saying sage things, inexplicable longing, and sudden sadness. Furthermore I have long had an odd love of Islands, so much so I am now moving to one.

Janssons work has been so intrinsic to me, that reading these books, though they were new to me, was like reading stories I have struggled to write myself. Mixed with the pleasure of discovering them, is the sadness of knowing I will never be able to write them, or anything comparable to them. That must be the price one pays for having a truly great writer living in their head.

At the risk of someone finding this eee-endless entry bo-ooring, I urge you to give your utmost attention to what you read to your kid at bedtime, and now leave you with an excerpt from the Summer Book, which Jansson wrote about the relationship between her grand-niece Sophia and Jansson's own aging mother. Here goes:

Grandmother sat in the magic forest and carved outlandish animals. She cut them from branches and driftwood and gave them paws and faces, but she only hinted at what they looked like and never made them too distinct. They retained their wooden souls, and the curve of their back and legs had the enigmatic shape of growth itself and remained a part of the decaying forest. Sometimes she cut them directly out of a stump or the trunk of the tree.

...

"What is it you're doing?" Sophia asked.
"I'm playing." Grandmother said.
Sophia crawled into the magic forest and saw everything her grandmother had done.
"Is it an exhibit?" she asked.
But Grandmother said it had nothing to do with sculpture, sculpture was another thing completely.


Listening to: Explosions In The Sky
Reading: guess

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I was already having a bad day...

...and now this.

I'm going to go listen to these guys now. And mope. So there.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Moths



originally uploaded by button face.

There’s a kind of white moth, I don’t know
what kind, that glimmers
by mid-May
in the forest, just
as the pink mocassin flowers
are rising.

If you notice anything,
it leads you to notice
more
and more.

And anyway
I was so full of energy.
I was always running around, looking
at this and that.

If I stopped
the pain
was unbearable.

If I stopped and thought, maybe
the world
can’t be saved,
the pain
was unbearable.

Finally, I noticed enough.
All around me in the forest
the white moths floated.

How long do they live, fluttering
in and out of the shadows?

You aren’t much, I said
one day to my reflection
in a green pond,
and grinned.

The wings of the moths catch the sunlight
and burn
so brightly.

At night, sometimes,
they slip between the pink lobes
of the moccasin flowers and lie there until dawn,
motionless
in those dark halls of honey.

(I know, I know, I post way too many Mary Oliver poems. But I care not.)

Listening to: Lewis & Clark

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Falling...

For the Northern hemisphere, the crispy days of fall are nigh, and that means only one thing, as far as I'm concerned: Awesome fall plaids!
While there have been many inspiring plaid ensembles around the blogosphere, this one really takes the cake, has it and eats it as well (is that one too many idioms packed together?). So my advise is: if you only visit one amazing online store this fair season, make it Anja Louise Verdugo's Estate Sale.

Reading: The Enchantment of Lily Dahl
Listening to: The Wooden Sky

Thursday, September 18, 2008

and what are you going to do



Poppies

The poppies send up their
orange flares; swaying
in the wind, their congregations
are a levitation

of bright dust, of thin
and lacy leaves.
There isn't a place
in this world that doesn't

sooner or later drown
in the indigos of darkness,
but now, for a while,
the roughage

shines like a miracle
as it floats above everything
with its yellow hair.
Of course nothing stops the cold,

black, curved blade
from hooking forward—
of course
loss is the great lesson.

But I also say this: that light
is an invitation
to happiness,
and that happiness,

when it's done right,
is a kind of holiness,
palpable and redemptive.
Inside the bright fields,

touched by their rough and spongy gold,
I am washed and washed
in the river
of earthly delight—

and what are you going to do—
what can you do
about it—
deep, blue night?

Mary Oliver

This post is sort of for Missa, who must be traveling happily across California right now.

Listening to: Bruce Peninsula
Reading: The Summer Book by Tove Jansson

Thursday, September 11, 2008

About A Girl

The Gibson Girl-style was perhaps the first decidedly American fashion-phenomenon, invented in the form a series of pin-up drawings by the illustrator Charles Dana Gibson.


Not only was she beautiful, with her signature hair-do and hour-glass shape, but she was also free-spirited (in so much as it was possible in that constricting corset), funny and even sporty. She went to college, played tennis, travelled, and was even pictured as somewhat of an equal to the men in her circles, though obviously she did not get to vote, and had little prospects outside of marriage.
Nonetheless, the gibson girl was the feminine ideal for a more modern era, and definitely a beauty standard fit for the New World, which had for much of its history been following the trends of Europe, rather than creating it's own. Certainly her arrival paved the way to the revolutionary styles of the Jazz Age, for the gibson girl often favored shorter skirts than what was accustomed to, and required sporty outfits for such past-times as swimming and tennis.

While one does not want aspire to having the freakishly small waist, or the ridiculous beauty and attitude notions of the era, there is something utterly alluring about the Gibson Girl. For me at least, the piled-on-top-of-the-head hair has been an object of (mostly unfulfilled) yearning, since 6th grade. Its extravagant, yet carefree look sets off a modern outfit perfectly, adding a touch of class and elegance, and it is fairly easy to do if you have long hair. (Bangs are a problem, alas.)

Witness this Helsinki-beauty pull it off, with a perfect Gibson-esque blouse, and high-waisted jeans (and a bag featuring one of Tove Jansson's Moomin-characters):


Image from Hel-looks

Easy instructions for the hair-do are available here. I'm off to try them myself. Followed, perhaps by a rousing game of tennis, a walk on the beach (parasol included), and some drinks at the club. I hear they have a divine new pianist.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

To Sleep


virgin suicides, originally uploaded by softspoken.
Vintage Postcard ~ Little Girl Sleeping by chicks57.

Vintage Postcard ~ Little Girl Sleeping by chicks57.

...perchance to dream


Listening to: Sleeping is all I wanna do by The Duhks