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SXSW’08, Part 5: Das Ende. Danke. Auf Wiedersehen.

March 17th, 2008 by Timo Vuorensola

Lonely Rider - Timo in TexasHotel La Quinta Austin Airport, 22:56. Outside, in the darkness, storm and police sirens are constantly wailing. I’m starting to feel a bit tired already, after full day of working just here in the hotel room. Tomorrow, I’m about to head home, and hope to be back in Finland on Tuesday. Back to the cold, dark and sloshy Tampere, away from the scorching sunlight, t-shirt weathers and reasonably prices *everything*. And I’m really looking forward to it. Here I tried to list few things I’ve missed while in Texas:

- Food. I can’t wait to get something real to eat, something that’s not dipped in grease and rolled in marinade, something that’s not either sweet or tasteless or both at the same time, and something, that won’t make me feel hungry in seven minutes I’ve finished eating it.
- Euro. I hate converting everything in my mind to dollars and back. More than that, I hate tipping. What the hell is that supposed to be, add it to the price and quit whining about tips…
- News. I’m looking forward for good Finnish news, those that are laid-back, serious and informative, and don’t get interrupted by ads every 30 seconds.
- Grumpy people. I just haven’t understood the American way to be always shiny, happy and fake-interested on other people. I really miss the grumpy Finnish folk just caring their own business and being quite honest about it. I hope not to hear any more “AWESOME, MAN! JUST AWESOME! YOU’RE LIKE THE BEST GUY IN THE WORLD” -comments. Good old “Yhm…” will do.
- Family. You know, it might sound fun to travel around the world, meet people and party all the time, but it’s not like that all the time. Even less when you have a family back at home waiting, and who you miss constantly.

But the trip hasn’t been bad, not at all. I’ve enjoyed some parts more than others, but I’ve really had great experiences here as well. Here’s a list of what I’ll propably miss of Texas:

- Fuddruckers. Easilly the best food-chain I’ve bumped to. The only meal I actually enjoyed here in Texas.
- The sun. The weather has been the perfect Finnish summer weather all the time, and I’m really not aching to see the sorry-ass wanna-be -winter of Finland at all. It’s just plain depressing.
- The malls. If you don’t find something here, you propably won’t need it. And if you do find, you propably don’t need it anyway. But if you just have time and endurance to race the 20 huge shopping centers and malls that are spread around the city, you’re in the shopping heaven. I happen to hate shopping, though.
- The bus trips. I’ve really enjoyed the local bustrips I’ve had, rolling around a strange city, listening to music (mainly PMMP and Disco Ensemble, plus a bit of Deftones), reading a good book (Lauren Weisberger‘s Devil Wears Prada) and trying to interpret the cryptic bus route map. It’s like playing chess with yourself. And I’m just as good in that as well…
- The live music. Wherever you turn your head in the downtown Austin you can hear live music ringing loud from some of the bars. The SXSW is really a street festival at it’s best – a lot of closed streets, music everywhere, and a lot of people.

Last few days have been all running around the city after certain miserable softwares I’ve been trying to hunt down from here. After my failure couple of days ago, I spent the day after that in even worse hell, walking 10+ kilometers on different malls, waiting for buses to get to another mall that’s more than 10 kilometers away, leaving off on wrong busstops and trying to cross half-deserted lands with a huge Target‘s sign as my guiding light shining somewhere in the distant horizont. And even worse than that, listening to people’s totally f*cked-up advice on where some place is and how to get there. It seems like Americans just can’t admit they don’t know something, they rather keep on talking and talking and giving their best guesses until you’re just too exhausted to care and find yourself walking again 5 kilometers to wrong direction just because that nice old gentleman didn’t have a clue on where CompUSA actually is, because he didn’t even know *what* it is… Grr…

I left my hotel room 10 o’clock AM, and came back 11 o’clock PM, totally beaten, and with only a pack of socks with me, since I hadn’t found anything else I was looking for.

The next day was even worse. This time, I knew where I was going to, but that day being Saturday, when already very bad public transportation had halted most of it’s buses, I found out that to get where I wanted to, I would have to get off the bus 5 kilometers away from the mall I was going to. Well, not a problem, yesterday I had walked around even longer trips and the sun was shining bright on a clear blue sky.

And it really wasn’t a big problem to get there – weather was good, Paprika Korps gave the extra push to me and I was feeling good. But one thing I didn’t know was that the software I was going to get wasn’t just your normal DVD-cases, but they were packed in 10-15kg boxes filled with manuals and everything. And I had to carry two of them, walking five kilometers under mercilessly hot sun… When I finally collapsed to my room, I was half dead.

Since Saturday was the last day of SXSW, I wanted to go and see the city for a bit, so after gaining enough strength I hopped back to bus and traveled this time to the Austin center, which was filled with partying people. I just walked around, watching people have fun, visiting pubs to listen few songs by the endless stream of mediocre indie-rock bands, and finally decided to call it a day and took a taxi back to the hotel.

And that’s about it. Today all I did was worked in my hotel room, visited Denny’s for a disgusting dinner, and came back to hotel. I’ve been mainly packing my stuff, trying to fit all that I bought into same two bags that were already totally full when I came here… And tomorrow I’m about to head back to Tampere.

On a related topic, here’s a motivational poster for the week!

EUrofags - you have to whine louder…

SXSW’08, part 4: Lost in the ghetto…

March 14th, 2008 by Timo Vuorensola

Lonely Rider - Timo in TexasPheow…

I just got back here to the hotel after wandering in the latin suburbs of Austin for few hours. This morning I woke up, gathered my gear, had some skype meetings and then went of to Austin Convention Center to meet a great guy called Mark who works for O’Reilly. We had a good chat over Wreckamovie, I showed it to him a bit, gave him a copy of Star Wreck, and then left to find some software and electronics to buy. Right now it’s an awesome time to buy stuff, € being so strong when compared to $, and electronics and software being so cheap in the States compared to Europe.

Ínstead of hailing a cab and travelling to the mall that way, I wanted to save some bucks and decided to use the bus. It’s way cheaper than taxis around here – with $1 you can travel as much as you want. It’s also a transportation method for the lower middle-class folk, so no rich-ass white beings in bus, only me with my mohawk and laptop. But by bus, you get to see around, and see how the people actually live here in Austin.

As all my friends and the guys at Energia know, I’ve been blessed with an infallible sense of direction and +35 Skill Rank Bonus to Map Reading and Urban Survival Skills – that means: I never get lost.

NOOOOT!

1188238018947.jpg

So I suck at that. But still, I never admit it to myself. Just like Ryoga from Ranma ½, only that I don’t know kung-fu…

Somehow, after being lost in the downtown for a while, I ended up into AT&T store, and the nice people there gave me very clear directions on how to find a Target store in a shopping mall some 10 miles away from the downtown, and what bus to take. It was a sunny day, I was listening to Disco Ensemble and feeling very alive when hopping on a bus and travelling through the city to a huge shopping center somewhere in the city borders. At Target store I shopped some iPods and Cars stuff for my kid, and then decided to go out and find a WalMart or some place where I could get couple of Adobe Creative Suites.

Without thinking, I just went across the massive highways, almost got hit by a car and finally ended up on a small forgotten bus-stand, where I for some reason thought a bus to the WalMart would go. Well, it didn’t. Actually, after stepping on the bus and driving some stops, I asked the bus driver if there was a WalMar somewhere close, and he said that yes there is, but you are going the wrong way, you need to step out and go to the other side of the road and pick a bus from there. So that’s what I did, got off the bus somewhere in the suburbs.

And then, instead of going to the bus stop on the opposite side of the road, for some reason I had a brainfart of a thought and decided to go out and find a computer store somewhere in the suburbs. Don’t really know what I was thinking. And it was getting late, sun was casting it’s last rays and I had changed to Deftones in my earphones, feeling still great and self-confident on my infinite urban skills.

Not a big surprise, I didn’t find anything. Just some huge shops with strange objects, a restaurant called Twin Peaks and a interstate highway which I tried to get across but found luckily soon enough it was impossible. So when the sun finally got behind the horizon and the darkness fell, I went to a bus stop to wait for a bus. And I waited and waited and waited… Nothing came, just cars and cars and cars.

Finally, the bus came. It was already pitch black, and I drove few stops forward, then decided to jump out in a streetcorner where I thought another bus would come soon, a bus that would take me close to my hotel.

But it didn’t. I waited like fourty minutes, sitting in total darkness in a small bu sstop, with my laptop, a big Toys’R'Us bag full of iPods and toys, and my white face and mohawk screaming “come and mug me”. All the time huge pickups stacked with latino thughs you see in movies were passing by, and people looking me like I was mad. I was really starting to feel like Bruce Willis in the beginning of Die Hard 3… But I knew that I was no Bruce Willis, had it come to that.

No bus was coming, that was quite sure. I was in the middle of nowhere, with *no* idea on where to go, how to get back or anything, and feeling every minute more that soon I would get killed. So I chickened out, and went to a small 7-11 shining in darkness, explained to a Mexican who knew just enough English to understand me, that I’m from Finland, and I’m totally lost. The shopkeepers laughed, but were very nice and called a cab for me.

So that’s my story. Nothing dramatic, but ultimate bracks were shat, as they say on the Internets.

And I didn’t get my Creative Suites, so I need to get on the same bus tomorrow, and hope for the best to find a CompUSA or Best Buy or something like that… And get the hell out of the suburbs before the nightfall.

SXSW’08, part 4: Lost in the ghetto…

March 14th, 2008 by Timo Vuorensola

Lonely Rider - Timo in TexasPheow…

I just got back here to the hotel after wandering in the latin suburbs of Austin for few hours. This morning I woke up, gathered my gear, had some skype meetings and then went of to Austin Convention Center to meet a great guy called Mark who works for O’Reilly. We had a good chat over Wreckamovie, I showed it to him a bit, gave him a copy of Star Wreck, and then left to find some software and electronics to buy. Right now it’s an awesome time to buy stuff, € being so strong when compared to $, and electronics and software being so cheap in the States compared to Europe.

Ínstead of hailing a cab and travelling to the mall that way, I wanted to save some bucks and decided to use the bus. It’s way cheaper than taxis around here – with $1 you can travel as much as you want. It’s also a transportation method for the lower middle-class folk, so no rich-ass white beings in bus, only me with my mohawk and laptop. But by bus, you get to see around, and see how the people actually live here in Austin.

As all my friends and the guys at Energia know, I’ve been blessed with an infallible sense of direction and +35 Skill Rank Bonus to Map Reading and Urban Survival Skills – that means: I never get lost.

NOOOOT!

1188238018947.jpg

So I suck at that. But still, I never admit it to myself. Just like Ryoga from Ranma ½, only that I don’t know kung-fu…

Somehow, after being lost in the downtown for a while, I ended up into AT&T store, and the nice people there gave me very clear directions on how to find a Target store in a shopping mall some 10 miles away from the downtown, and what bus to take. It was a sunny day, I was listening to Disco Ensemble and feeling very alive when hopping on a bus and travelling through the city to a huge shopping center somewhere in the city borders. At Target store I shopped some iPods and Cars stuff for my kid, and then decided to go out and find a WalMart or some place where I could get couple of Adobe Creative Suites.

Without thinking, I just went across the massive highways, almost got hit by a car and finally ended up on a small forgotten bus-stand, where I for some reason thought a bus to the WalMart would go. Well, it didn’t. Actually, after stepping on the bus and driving some stops, I asked the bus driver if there was a WalMar somewhere close, and he said that yes there is, but you are going the wrong way, you need to step out and go to the other side of the road and pick a bus from there. So that’s what I did, got off the bus somewhere in the suburbs.

And then, instead of going to the bus stop on the opposite side of the road, for some reason I had a brainfart of a thought and decided to go out and find a computer store somewhere in the suburbs. Don’t really know what I was thinking. And it was getting late, sun was casting it’s last rays and I had changed to Deftones in my earphones, feeling still great and self-confident on my infinite urban skills.

Not a big surprise, I didn’t find anything. Just some huge shops with strange objects, a restaurant called Twin Peaks and a interstate highway which I tried to get across but found luckily soon enough it was impossible. So when the sun finally got behind the horizon and the darkness fell, I went to a bus stop to wait for a bus. And I waited and waited and waited… Nothing came, just cars and cars and cars.

Finally, the bus came. It was already pitch black, and I drove few stops forward, then decided to jump out in a streetcorner where I thought another bus would come soon, a bus that would take me close to my hotel.

But it didn’t. I waited like fourty minutes, sitting in total darkness in a small bu sstop, with my laptop, a big Toys’R'Us bag full of iPods and toys, and my white face and mohawk screaming “come and mug me”. All the time huge pickups stacked with latino thughs you see in movies were passing by, and people looking me like I was mad. I was really starting to feel like Bruce Willis in the beginning of Die Hard 3… But I knew that I was no Bruce Willis, had it come to that.

No bus was coming, that was quite sure. I was in the middle of nowhere, with *no* idea on where to go, how to get back or anything, and feeling every minute more that soon I would get killed. So I chickened out, and went to a small 7-11 shining in darkness, explained to a Mexican who knew just enough English to understand me, that I’m from Finland, and I’m totally lost. The shopkeepers laughed, but were very nice and called a cab for me.

So that’s my story. Nothing dramatic, but ultimate bracks were shat, as they say on the Internets.

And I didn’t get my Creative Suites, so I need to get on the same bus tomorrow, and hope for the best to find a CompUSA or Best Buy or something like that… And get the hell out of the suburbs before the nightfall.

…Then we take Berlin!

February 10th, 2008 by Timo Vuorensola

DraculaThird morning in Berlin Film Festivals. I’m sitting in the hotel room of Villa Amadeus, in third floor. Sun is shining brightly outside, birds are twittering in the trees and life seems nice. Only one thing has changed: yesterday I met Christopher Lee.

The story goes like this: we were in one hotel in a smoking room, enjoying a cigarette and chatting idly, when AJ (Annila, director of Sauna, which is going to be the greatest horror film ever) spotted a tall guy smoking a fat cigar in the corner. He notified us that there’s a guy who looks exactly like Dracula. We were looking over our backs and realized that oh-shit. That’s him. Mr. Christopher Lee himself. I was totally starstruck, but Ukko (Kaarto, of Bronson Club) went on chatting with him, and led us there. I had to run for another meeting, but had a chance to introduce myself to him, and told him Iron Sky’s logline (“In 1945 the Nazis went to the Moon. In 2018 they are coming back”) and gave him a leaflet we had created. He laughed and said he liked the idea.

And then I had to go. But Ukko and AJ stayed there, sat down with him and what do you know, Christopher actually knew Finland pretty well, because during the World War II, he was fighting in Finland as a volunteer. So, naturally, they had a lot to talk about, and later found themselves singing Finlandia in Berlin with mr. Christopher Lee. Isn’t that just as cool as it can get?

Meeting Lee was my high point here, but I’ve had great time in addition to that a lot. We’ve been going around Berlin from an event to an event, spreading the Iron Sky word and meeting with a lot of people. This year for Finns, Berlin has two important films. First, of course, Black Ice (“Musta jää”), the film that’s competing in the Berlin festival competition. They had a wonderful party in embassy on day 1, a party that lasted to about 6 in the morning. Then there’s Lordi. Dark Floors, I mean.

I’ve been following the discussions around Lordi the film, and would like to hear your opinions, dear readers, if you’ve seen the film. I myself don’t believe a word of the reviews, because what I know is that Finnish film reviewers don’t know jack shit about horror films. I believe much better those who actually know the genre, and one of my very favourite film reviewers, whose opinions I’ve learned to trust (also, I met with him in a dinner on wednesday) is Todd from Twitch Film, and he said it was awful lot of fun. Todd writes:

Now, Dark Floors is clearly not a perfect movie. The script shows signs of being written outside of the author’s native language – which it was – in some unsteady dialog and spotty character moments. There are also a couple of obvious plot holes – more logic problems, really – that the film asks you to accept. But perfect or not it is an awful lot of fun. The logic issues are nothing beyond what you see in any number of films, the major ones basically coming down to cooked up obstructions to force the characters to stop on each floor rather than descending directly, and the dialog issues are more than overcome by an immensely likable cast.

I have the feeling that Todd sums it up well, but then again, I haven’t seen the film yet, and I’m planning to go with Energia posse back in Tampere to go and watch it.

Well, I’m signing off now, I need to run to the main festival building to meet a distributor. You people have fun, I try to write more as I have some time. Also, I will upload some pictures as soon as I get them off my phone!