Thursday, December 28, 2006

Who wants to be a Finnish millionaire?

I prepared this (in Finnish) as end-of-term entertainment for the Finnish language school. I was told it showed a Virtanenesque obsession with tango and even Finns wouldn't be able to answer it. Unfortunately I know something about tango; rather less about the Kalevala, Finland's national epic; and virtually nothing about anything else. But after all that effort I wanted it to have some sort of audience, so here it is. Original Finnish version available on request.

EUR 100
What colour is ammonium chloride?

A. Black.
B. White.
C. Brown.
D. Green.

EUR 200
Why were the Northerners annoyed with Lemminkäinen when he attended their wedding party?

A. He wasn't invited.
B. He arrived late, after everybody had eaten; and demanded food for himself and stabling for his horse.
C. He started a fight, in the course of which the host was killed.
D. All three of the above.

EUR 300
Who was the first Tango Queen?

A. Arja Saijonmaa.
B. Arja Havakka.
C. Arja Sipola.
D. Arja Koriseva.

EUR 500
Who is Tiina Räsänen's husband?

A. Erkki Räsänen.
B. Pauli Räsänen.
C. Petri Hervanto.
D. Jari Sillanpää.

EUR 1 000
Why was Rauli Somerjoki also known as Badding?

A. He was the "bad boy" of Finnish pop.
B. After Paddington Bear.
C. Badding is a Swedish holiday resort, where Rauli was conceived.
D. Badding was his real name.

EUR 2 000
Why did Lemminkäinen have to leave the island where he had been frolicking with the women?

A. His mother turned up to fetch him home.
B. He was exhausted from his efforts.
C. Ilmarinen needed his help in forging the Sampo.
D. The women's husbands came home from the war.

EUR 4 000
Why does Marjorie have such an un-Finnish name?

A. She is Australian.
B. Her real first name is Marjo-Riitta.
C. After 1950's agony aunt Marjorie Proops.
D. Her mother got pregnant through eating enchanted berries ("marjoja" in Finnish).

EUR 8 000
Why did the Tangomarkkinat organisers want Arja Koriseva to change her name to Arja Karen?

A. To avoid confusion with the classical actress Anja Koriseva.
B. Koriseva is a Japanese name, which Finns find difficult to pronounce.
C. To capitalise on the publicity surrounding the birth of Princess Karen of Denmark.
D. Koriseva means "wheezing" in Finnish.

EUR 16 000
Jasmin Mäntylä's boyfriend Tuomo Kivinen is well-known for his interest in what?

A. Ice hockey.
B. Sanskrit poetry.
C. Steam locomotive preservation.
D. Jasmin Mäntylä.

EUR 32 000
Who recently posed nude in the newspapers with a much younger dance partner?

A. Arja Saijonmaa.
B. Kaija Pohjola.
C. Eino Grön.
D. Danny.

EUR 64 000
Why did Lemminkäinen and Tiera abandon their invasion of the Northlands?

A. They were defeated by the Northern hordes.
B. Their weapons shattered in the cold.
C. The Witch of the North paid them off with Sampo-generated money.
D. They thought their mothers would be worried about them.

EUR 125 000
What was the Sampo made of?

A. Iron.
B. Gold and silver.
C. Feathers, milk, barley, and down.
D. Blood, sweat, and tears.

EUR 250 000
Who was the Helsinki engine driver with whom Lenin stayed in September 1917 when he was forced to flee Russia after the February Revolution?

A. Blomqvist.
B. Haarala.
C. Dallerup.
D. du Beke.

EUR 500 000
What device is on the Finnish Air Force's new flag?

A. A winged lion.
B. A double-headed eagle.
C. A Maltese cross.
D. A swastika.

EUR 1 000 000
In 1900 Finland's biggest steam engine was intalled in Finlayson's Tampere factory. Where was it made?

A. Germany.
B. Sweden.
C. England.
D. Switzerland.


100 A
200 D
300 C
500 C
1 000 B
2 000 D
4 000 B
8 000 D
16 000 C
32 000 A
64 000 D
125 000 C
250 000 A
500 000 D
1 000 000 D

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Christmas Miscellany

Here in Blighty the warmest autumn for 250 years is starting to come to an end. In two weeks' time it will be Christmas. I sit looking out of the window, looking at the leaves lingering on the trees and the buds on my rose bush, and thinking of the Christmases I spent in Finland, when the snow was thick on the ground and the buses ran on time. Never mind, I can play my Finnish Christmas CD's. The shops in Finland will be full of seasonal CD's about now, but these are the ones to get if you are out there:

Saa joulu aikaan sen (Christmas Brings It): Arja Koriseva
Joulu joka päivä (Christmas Every Day): Arja Koriseva
Minun joululauluni (My Christmas Song): Anne Mattila and sisters

Some of Arja's offerings are familiar: Talven ihmemaa, Marian poika, and Lunta saa tuiskuttaa are recognisable as Winter Wonderland, Mary's Boy Child, and Let It Snow. Oi Beetlehem sä pienoinen (O Little Town of Bethlehem) is sheer perfection. I know I've mentioned it before; well, I'm mentioning it again. You just won't hear anything better than this. Sugary as the icing on a Christmas cake, but never cloying, is Pikkutontun joululipas (Little Elf's Christmas Box).

Anne Mattila and her similarly-named sisters Anneli, Anniina and Anitta give us 11 purely Finnish Christmas songs. Anne's powerful husky voice (and she was only 19 when she made the record) is perfect for the sometimes rather plaintive carols such as Joulun paperitähti Christmas Paper Star) "When I look at the paper star I remember my childhood and I'm not miserable" or Kuinka voisi joulu tulla (How could Christmas come?) "How could Christmas be coming when you're not?"

Joulumaa (Christmasland) is a well-known Finnish classic, written by Katri-Helena: "Christmasland isn't just snow and elves; Christmasland is peace of mind. You don't have to travel far; Christmasland is found in every heart."

For the last lesson at the Finnish language school here in Bristol before the Christmas holiday, we covered the Nativity in stadin slangi, the dialect spoken in the mean streets of Helsinki. I was charmed to see that the slangi for "swaddling clothes" is pampersit. When the shepherds decide to go to see the infant Jesus, they say, not mennään Beetlehemiin, as they would in "BBC Finnish", but lets kou to Piitlehem.

Seija, the landlady I stay with when I visit Seinäjoki, sent me a very nice Christmas present. It is an advent calendar. Behind the doors are Father Christmases, snowmen, and candles, all moulded from salmiakki. The moulding is very crisp and detailed, as you see from the picture. They taste good too.

I have discovered a flame-haired, scantily clad, scary superheroine. No, not Saija Varjus, the 1996 Tango Queen, but Red Sonja. Have a look at this:

Saija Varjus at the 2006 Tangomarkkinat

I really don't like these warm British winters. Perhaps next year I will be able to send a report from Finland. In the meantime, hyvää joulua kaikille! (Merry Christmas to all).