Monday, November 22, 2010

And Now the Moment You've All Been Waiting For...

Remember the Michael Jackson full-back tattoo I mentioned back in September? To refresh your memory, there's a contestant named Elisabet on Finland's version of Big Brother who is obsessed with the former King of Pop -- even more than me! -- and has permanently inked herself in his memory. And the tattoo is so... umm... interesting... that I just had to share it in all its glory.

Wait for it....

Oh yeah, that's the stuff! On the left, is Michael dancing or does he have to pee? Also loving how the younger version of MJ looks like an old man. I guess it's good she doesn't have to look at it all the time, you know?

And, man, I wish I understood Finnish so I could watch this show. Apparently she gets into heated discussions about Michael and cannot accept the fact that a possible 5% of the earth's population hasn't ever heard his music. She is thoroughly convinced that even the remostest tribes in Africa must know who he is. At the time of posting, her status is listed as "häädetty" -- Google translate is no help there, but judging by her little grayed-out thumbnail image, I think she's been eliminated.

R.I.P. MJ, Elisabet and the most amazing full-back tattoo I have ever seen.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

It's Always Sunny in ... Helsinki?

Actually, no, no it isn't always sunny in Helsinki. Far from it. In fact, the weather is shit right now. Yesterday it was nice for a moment when, despite my previous plea, it snowed! I was even kind of excited about braving the fresh powder lining the treacherous footpath. But alas, the excitement was quickly washed away by pounding rain and umbrella-murdering gusts of wind (RIP my beloved blue companion).

This was described to my incomprehensive Florida brain as "wet snow" and it sucked. It felt pretty damn cold to me... those raindrops could have easily frozen in my opinion. My fingers were about to fall off, after all. But no, the temperature rose a few degrees overnight, leaving us with only puddles and a memory. (Oh, and a few photos. Coming soon!)

BUT fear not! There *are* sunny autumn days in Helsinki, despite what the locals may say! In fact, I have photographic evidence from the past few months to prove it.

Before it got dark at 3:45 PM (or 15:45, a way I will never get used to telling time), I used to go walk by the water after work.

I'm pretty sure this is where the rich people in my neighborhood keep their toys:

Five bucks says she's on a Nokia!

A few random shots:

My new love -- mulled wine. I discovered it last January while visiting my father in Buffalo and it has been my new BFF the past few weeks. It was the perfect companion as I took in the view atop Hotel Torni. (Also where the first photo of this post was taken.)

I heart this photo.
This building is a block away from my house. I was diggin the lighting and shadows from the setting sun.

Right across the street is an awesome church, where I caught the actual sunset. Lovely.

So, there are definitely beautiful moments to be had in Helsinki. My fellow Floridians might be less than impressed with all this sun -- we are so effing spoiled! :)

Stay tuned for part two of "Helsinki weather doesn't suck as bad as the locals say, although when they are right, they are right!" when I show you how we struck weather gold with our gorgeous day on Suomenlinna, an island I never thought we would actually get to see.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Two Months Down, One to Go

Well, we’re officially past the two month mark here in Helsinki. (The royal ‘we’ that is.) Actually, I realized today that in exactly one month, I will be sitting back at my Bonnier Corp desk in sunny Florida again. Before that, I will be completely stressed slash stoked about trying to travel after this whole Grow sitch, considering the Helsinki money gods have sucked me dry. (That’s what she said?)

But enough of the panic room, here’s some more random tidbits to keep you interested in my bloggy blog world.

I suck at getting dressed. Layering, tying scarves, wearing proper shoes -- I’m terrible at all of it. I’m convinced I can control the weather solely upon my outfit choice of the day. For example, if I wear my Converse sneakers and light jacket, I’m asking for a blizzard to hit, whereas if I bundle up like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, I will bring about a heatwave. (Temps in the 40’s constitutes a heatwave, btw.) If I’m wearing semi-warm but extra-absorbent boots (they were cheap for a reason!), they’ll have to face massive rain puddles, while the faux-fur lined proper snow boots see only the sunshiny-ist of days. It’s very frustrating.

Speaking of absorbent boots, Reagan came to visit! And she has the same shoe issue. Luckily, I have a hair dryer:

I miss speaking American. With Reagan's recent visit, and a Sunday encounter with two American girls traveling through Helsinki, I've been able to speak good 'ol improper American English. It's been wonderful! And while most Finns understand and speak perfect English (and God bless them for doing so!!!), there’s something so awesome about being able to say “like” every five seconds without second-guessing it. (I wish I didn’t, like, talk like a valley girl, but like, I just, like, can’t help it and stuff. Like, you know?”)

Man, oh, man. Helsinki’s got the funk. As you may have read in my captivating Bonnier Grow interview, my favorite kind of funk music is *everywhere* in this town -- bars, cafes, night clubs, restaurants. It’s like my own personal wonderland of music. This is probably only noticeable to someone like me, who would recognize when Evelyn Champagne King’s “I’m in Love” starts playing at a random pub. Most of the DJs I have met play strictly vinyl (yay!) and there are eight record stores at the end of my street. EIGHT. One block away. Le sigh. The best parties so far have been Solid Gold’s funk night at YK and Keep It Up every First Friday at We Got Beef. God, I wish I could DJ here.

Hair mustaches = still fun.

I’m dreaming of a non-white November. In October, it officially snowed three times but not enough to stick. I’m not too keen on the idea of snow (see the part where I suck at getting dressed) but the Finns always look sad that I won’t get to see “proper snow.” To me, no snow = better than lots of snow.

I finally made it to Suomenlinna! We lucked out with gorgeous weather, too! Pictures coming soon!

I am homesick. Yep, that’s right. Even though I’m taking full advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I miss home. Besides obviously missing family and friends, it’s the little things I am longing for: flavored iced coffee; showers with bathtubs; American keyboards: öåä; driving my car when the sun is setting; editing the DWH site; Fahrenheit, pounds, feet, miles; Mexican food; speaking English without worrying if I’ll be understood; prices in dollars instead of Euros (eff the exchange rates and bank fees!!!); my orange and yellow living room and record collection; biking around the lakes in my neighborhood... these are a few of my favorite things. I look forward to reuniting with them in December.

More frequent posts coming soon. I have so many ideas and photos to post before I get home. Next on the agenda: Alyx and Bill are coming this week to visit -- yay! Stay tuned...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Helsinki Halloween!

I guess you could say I was a little bummed about missing Halloween in the U.S. (Okay, really bummed.) I looooove dressing up and going out with other crazies in costumes -- it's like a surreal, alcohol-fueled fantasy land. But in Helsinki, they don't really celebrate it. Since there was no way I was giving up one of my favorite holidays, I had my own little party!

A few novelty stores had Halloween costumes, so I bought one. Some people might think it was a Cleopatra costume. Not so! I decided I was actually a band member of Earth, Wind and Fire!

And my awesome friends, being awesome and all, got into the spirit with me. Leena was "Death" and Silja was Alex from Clockwork Orange.

We decided Leena should be Adam Lambert instead.

Petra, wearing black angel wings then became the Angel of Death:

Ida showed up as a last-minute surprise, dressed as her amazing self!

And it wouldn't be a party in Finland without playing SingStar, a game I had never heard of until living here. It's a fun karaoke-style game that's mega popular in Europe. (Anybody in The States heard of it? I don't have any kind of gaming console so I am clueless about these things.)

I love it because most of the songs are super random to me -- singles from unfamiliar European bands and obscure American hits. The first time I played, I was in awe that everyone knew the words to "Club Tropicana" by Wham!. (I might be one of the few Americans who even knows that song exists.) But I love it because I've sang "Hold the Line" by Toto and "Don't Walk Away" by Jade. Both are extremely hard, btw. Oh, and I know all the words to "Baby Got Back" -- shocking, I know.

I love how much Silja gets into it. She's a total rockstar:

My spooky "decorations" aka tea-lights and orange cups.

Afterwards, we all went out in costume. We were pretty much the only people dressed up but we still had a blast. I'm so happy that these awesome ladies celebrated with me! Happy Halloween!!! :)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Dancing with Finnish Stars

Working for MTV3 certainly has its perks. Last night, I was among the elite and privileged few invited to attend a live broadcast of one of their most popular shows: Tanssii Tähtien Kanssa -- better known in America as Dancing with the Stars. It was a cold and rainy Sunday evening (quite a contrast to the previous day’s gorgeous weather) and, of course, I forgot my umbrella at home. Even if I had been “dressed to impress” as the invitation stated, by the time we walked the few blocks from the metro station to the set, I looked more like a drown rat.

We arrived about 30 minutes early and couldn’t figure out where the entrance was. This guy was outside smoking a cigarette:

He was very nice and helpful as he directed us toward the front door. I mistook him for a stagehand but as it turns out, he was Jone Nikula, a quite famous judge on the show. (Sort of like the Simon Cowell of Finland.) Oops.

We settled into the press area on the side of the stage with a great view of all the action, and I mentally prepared myself for an hour-long TV show entirely in Finnish. At least dancing is a universal language. We seriously lucked out with the week’s theme, which could have easily been the waltz or ballroom style. Instead it was salsa, something I was particularly excited to see Finnish stars attempt. Turns out, they did pretty well! The highlights:

Antti Tuisku, a total cutie who became famous on Idols (Finland’s version of American Idol), was the standout dancer and crowd favorite. And even though he nailed his salsa routine and was the top-scoring participant, he swears he’s not gay. Riiiiiiight. Neither was Adam Lambert.

The lowest-scoring contestant last week, Jethro Rostedt, was another crowd-pleaser, proving that even if you can’t get the moves just right, personality goes a long way. I could have sworn the judge slash stagehand quoted LL Cool J when he said “Don’t call it a comeback,” in English. (Newsflash: he didn’t. While he did use the word ‘comeback,’ the rest of the sentence was in Finnish. I tend to draw my own conclusions, though. It makes language barriers a lot more fun.)

The most painful routine was to the un-salsa-like song “I’ve Had the Time of My Life.” Ummm... huh? Yes, it was in Dirty Dancing and yes, I think there was a salsa routine in the beginning of the movie. But still, worst song choice ever? Probably why that particular couple was eliminated.

But I had so much fun watching the show live! Considering I live nowhere near Hollywood, I doubt I would ever have had this opportunity in The States. Even if I did, this season in America has the weirdest stars ever. Why would I want to see “stars” like spawn of Satan, Bristol Palin, or the Situation dude from Jersey Shore dance? (Michael Bolton, actual Dirty Dancer Jennifer Grey and David Hasselhoff -- that’s another story. I would totally want to see them live.)

Leena and me before the show

PS... My co-workers are giving me crap me because I thought the host, Mikko Leppilampi, was hot. Apparently he doesn’t have the best rep in Finland, but based on looks alone, he’s a stereotypical handsome man. (Plus, being European only makes him more attractive.)

American ladies, please weigh in. What do you think? Yay or nay?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Friday Lolz!

My Finnish friend, Leena, posted this on my FB wall and I thought it was pretty funny. The World According to San Francisco.

I love being an American. :)

Click to embiggen! (Tee hee, awesome Simpsons reference, btw!) Thanks to Graphjam for all of this.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Fall in Helsinki

It looks like Finland is finally dishing out some of that nasty Fall weather everyone has been warning me about/promising: rainy and wet, dark and freezing. (Like, numb fingers through gloves, freezing.) Seriously, the weather this week has sucked. Whenever I picture Autumn, I think of the stunning New England landscape, not wintery drearysville. (Fall would be easy if your colors were like my dreams: red, gold and green, red gold and greeeeeee-heeeeeen.)

But I'll admit, I've been pretty lucky so far. Up until this week, the weather has been brisk and sunny -- an absolutely lovely experience for this native Florida girl who hasn't yet had the pleasure of living where the leaves change.

So here are some Fall scenes in Helsinki through my eyes. It might not measure up to Boston or New Hampshire, but to me, it's been pretty effing beautiful.

On a walk home from work:

Bus stop by my office -- I love the ad with an ironically green tree.

The treacherous footpath, now adorned with slippery leaves! Huzzah!

Scenes from Vanha kirkkopuisto (Old Church Park), better known as Ruttopuisto (Plague Park). Maybe not the most appealing name, but awesome just the same.

Now I am warm and cozy in my living room, listening to hurricane-worthy gusts pound against my (thankfully thick) window pane. Watching the trees outside dance in the wind, I know these pretty orange and yellow leaves will soon just be a memory. I feel lucky to have experienced living in a new city during one of the most enchanting times of year (despite what the locals might say). It has been truly inspiring and one of the best souvenirs a Floridian could ever ask for.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Found: Stevie Wonder in Helsinki!

I have officially found my favorite thing is Helsinki and, duh, it has to do with Stevie Wonder!

I was flipping through my new favorite free guide, We Are Helsinki (super cool mini mag + website), when I saw this photo:

I tried to catch my breath as I blurted out,"Um, where is this??? I need to have a beer at this bar immediately."

My Finnish friends probably took this as alcoholism rearing it's ugly head. (They're used to that here.) People who don't know me all that well (or maybe even people who do) probably wouldn't understand the urgency in which I needed to see this place. But please, take note: if there is anything (especially a cafe slash bar) with a dope ass Stevie Wonder mural within 30 miles of me, I need to see it. NOW. No, really, right NOW.

So we made our way to Cafe Aula Bar near Kamppi so I could witness the glory in person. You see, for me, a Stevie Wonder mural is the equivalent of someone spotting the Virgin Mary in her morning toast or seeing God appear on Google street view. And it's the "glory days of funk" Stevie, not the "wait, is my stylist blind, too?" Stevie.

In fact, I'm so much of a nerd, I even know the original photo the artwork is based on.

Bonus nerd points: I also know this photo was taken the same day as the cover shot for Funkafied Rainbow, a live bootleg album that I've actually even blogged about before. (Wow, obsessed factor is officially through the roof.)

Anyway, when we got to the bar, it was somehow even better than I was expecting. It wasn't a mural, as I had originally thought, but Stevie's shadow reflected on the wall through a brass silhouette cutout. Ohhhhh emmm geeeeee.

This was created by Kalle Taivainen and yet another example of how friggin' cool Helsinkians and their designs are. In my next life, I think I would like to come back as a Scandinavian. (Note: the artist's website, which was less than helpful as it was, is now mysteriously down.)

Close up for detail:

I haven't figured out how to acquire one of these for my living room -- yet. Because before I leave Finland, this will be mine, oh yes, this will be mine.

Here are more Stevie photos that make me happy. Because it's my blog and I can do whatever I want.

With Michael Sembello, his dope ass guitarist:

Being all-around amazing:

Appearing in my morning toast:

With the future King of Pop <3

If I could pick one photo to live in, for all eternity, it would probably be this one.