Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Replies to Ask Me Anything

It's been quite a long while since I announced the "Ask Me Anything" event, so let's give you some answers! Apparently only two of my readers were curious enough to Ask Me Anything, but their questions were very interesting and numerous enough to make this post, so thank you very much for that!

Siiri L asked me about my best, worst and most baffling theatrical experiences ever

My best theatrical experience could be pretty much everything I've seen in London – there's the glorious West End musicals and Shakespeare's Globe, both of which are, in my opinion, the very best offerings of the world of theatre. However, I want to be more specific than that, so I'll name Richard III which I saw at Shakespeare's Globe on September 2nd, 2012. It was my second Globe experience and I was rapidly succumbing to the charm of this very special theatre. This performance was made to look as much as possible like it might have been in Shakespeare's times, with period costumes and an all-male cast. The iconic title role was played by Mark Rylance, and of course it was an absolute treat to see one of the most famous current Shakespearean actors doing his thing.

The worst piece of theatre in my life was no doubt that time when I was 14 or 15 and went to see a new Finnish play called Kohti kylmempää (literal translation would be "Towards colder" which sounds bizarre). It was supposed to be a play about some people trying to establish the world's northernmost community, but there was such a lack of plot and such an abundance of pointless characters that I ran out of the theatre as soon as the intermission came.

"Most baffling" would be another Shakespeare experience. The Bard wrote, among other things, a play  about King John, which is very rarely performed. Well, having seen it once in Stratford-upon-Avon's Swan Theatre, I can completely understand why. That script is definitely not Shakespeare at the height of his genius – but then again, that might have been the very thing that enabled the director and creative team of the Stratford production to go a little wild with it. There was an abundance of creative choices that perfectly correspond to the word "baffling". For example, try to imagine King John's death-by-poisoning scene as a psychedelic drug high that drives the dying king into a blurry '70s dance routine. Not joking one bit.

Hannah asked:

What is your favourite Sherlock episode from each series?

Hannah was worried that a question like this might be too cruel, but actually I do have very strong favourites from each series – Sherlock is brilliant through and through, but there are some episodes that I re-watch more often than others. These would be A Study in Pink, The Hounds of Baskerville and The Sign of Three. 

In A Study in Pink, I love how brilliantly the two main characters are introduced and how they gradually drop into their co-habitating life. The Hounds of Baskerville I can especially respect as a great, inventive modern update of the original novel – also, Sherlock's rant about the rabbit in the beginning has me laughing my head off no matter how many times I watch it. I have to admit though, it was a tiny bit hard choosing a Series Two favourite between this and A Scandal in Belgravia, which is also awesome in indefinitely many ways. My Series Three favourite has to be The Sign of Three, mostly because it's so damn hilarious!

I just realized that my three favourite episodes have one thing in common, something which I like to call "John Watson's awesome-military-badassery moments". I bet it's not a coincidence. Dr. John Watson just doesn't get any better than this.

Is there any book that you would love to see adapted into a film?

While I agree wholeheartedly with Hannah that someone should really get a move on with a film adaptation of Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities, I'm going to drop in a new idea. You know Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None, right? Yes, that bone-chillingly haunting murder mystery where ten people are shut off on an island and they start dying one by one, resulting in mounting paranoia and claustrophobia for both the characters and the reader. Now the question is, why are all the (surprisingly few) film adaptations of this tale either not faithful to the original plot, or at least 20 years old? So there's a brilliant idea for some team of movie-makers, here you go.

What is your favourite place in Finland?

Not that I want to boast or anything, but I think the best place in Finland is my family's summer cottage by Lake Näsijärvi. (A piece of cultural tidbit to non-Finns: many Finns like to have a little cottage getaway, or mökki, where we can escape from the noise and everyday life of the actually rather small and quiet towns where we normally live in.) The most hardcore mökki owners swear by a complete no-electricity, no-running-water, no-modern-comforts-whatsoever policy, while a small minority build their summer places so modern that it kind of loses the countryside feel. I think our family's mökki is quite nicely in the middle. It's nice and cosy during all seasons, but also very close to nature (a colony of shrews living under the patio and lynx paw prints appearing now and then in the winter months) and it's really just a beautiful piece of land all over. 

What is/are the film(s) that you are most looking forward to seeing in 2014?

I actually had to take a look at the list of films coming up in 2014 and came to the conclusion that last year was much better movie-wise. 2012 was even better, with Les Misérables and the first Hobbit. This year, though... Well, it's nice to have another musical film on Christmas Day, but Into The Woods has never really been on my top list of musicals and while some of the casting choices are great (Meryl Streep! Christine Baranski! Daniel Huttlestone!!!), some are rather... interesting. I didn't even know these people could sing on a musical performer level... or can they?

I would love to be more excited about the conclusion to the Hobbit trilogy, but I just can't. The first film was good, the second went into way too many subplots and turned most of my favourite Bilbo moments from the book into overlong fight scenes, and now the third one will probably be a three-hour-account of the Battle of the Five Armies, which only takes a couple of chapters in the book.

What would you like your superpower to be?

It would be awesome to be able to fly. Transportation would be such a breeze (literally), and things would look gorgeous from a bird's perspective.

If you could travel to any point in time where would you go?

I would time-travel to Victorian London, there's no doubt about that. If I had to be precise (the Victorian era was quite long after all), I would probably land somewhere in the 1880s. That period contains some of my favourite "old stuff" along the lines of ball rooms, horse-drawn carriages and ridiculously-impractical-but-still-oh-so-gorgeous women's fashion, but then there is also the definite atmosphere of innovation and moving forwards. For example, the gramophone was invented in 1887 – how cool is that? Also, I have a fixated curiosity for British Imperialism, which was still going pretty strong at this point.

Beautiful 1880s dresses...
British Empire in red

What is next on your to-read list?

I really should think about this question, because I'll soon be finished with my current read which is Zadie Smith's White Teeth. I seriously need to broaden my appallingly narrow knowledge of French literature and have pretty much settled on trying Émile Zola next. I would gladly take suggestions as to which one of Zola's works I should start with.


I had tons of fun answering these questions, and I hope my readers found something interesting there as well. The idea for this event came pretty much from Miss Laurie's lovely period drama blog Old-Fashioned Charm, go and check it out. Who knows, maybe there will be more of these as Music & My Mind hopefully celebrates future anniversaries... 


  1. Yeah, King John isn't very good... and still it contains the line "To gild refined gold, to paint the lily, to throw a perfume on the violet, to smooth the ice, or add another hue unto the rainbow, or with taper-light to seek the beauteous eye of heaven to garnish, is wasteful and ridiculous excess."

    That's Shakespeare on an off day.

    As for Zola, I am given to understand that La Bête humaine is considered an enduring classic, though upon further investigation it's also novel 17 of a 20-book cycle. And J'accuse!, of course.

  2. That's a really good point about King John. There definitely are moments like that in the middle of all the craziness. And thank you very much for the Zola suggestions, I'll look into them!

  3. I've got this post open in two tabs so I can read it and make comments as I along :)

    - That King John production sounds absolutely hilarious!

    - My favourite Sherlock episodes from each series are probably A Study in Pink, The Reichenbach Fall and The Empty Hearse - but that can change depending on my mood.

    - Yes for your 'And Then There Were None' idea! I've only read about half a dozen Agatha Christie novels but that book is fantastic and, if done right, it could make for a fantastic film too!

    - *Googles Lake Näsijärvi and mökki images* Gorgeous! :) BTW I love all of those dots that you have in the Finnish language. It reminds me of Tolkien's Elvish :) Did you know that Tolkien mostly based his Elvish languages on Finnish and Welsh?

    - Ah so you didn't enjoy Desolation of Smaug very much then? That's a shame, I loved that one! I'm not too sure how I feel about the Into the Woods movie. On the one hand, there's some great people in that cast (Daniel Huttlestone, Johnny Depp, Emily Blunt) and it's friggin Sondheim after all but then... Rob Marshall. I'm not a fan of his movies. I disliked Chicago and hated Nine. All of my friends who've seen his Pirates of the Caribbean movie said it was awful. And since Into the Woods is based on fairy tales I'd have liked them to have chosen a director with more of a fantasy background. Or Tom Hooper :)

    - I always used to say that flying would be my power of choice but now I'd go for telekinesis. It would be incredibly useful - both for taking out enemies and for everyday stuff - and you'd be able to levitate.

    - Victorian London would be great but I think I'd be more tempted by 1920s Paris or Rennaisance era Florence. It interests me that you're interested in the British Empire. Many Brits are very uncomfortable with it as you can probably imagine.

    - For Emile Zola you could try Au Bonheur des Dames which the BBC adapted into The Paradise. I'm not familiar with either but I keep meaning to check them out.

  4. Hannah, your comment was the 111th on my blog! A comment of special magnificence :D

    Yep, Quenya grammar is based on Finnish among other languages. Oh, and it's so much fun what happens when non-Finns have to deal with the letters Ä and Ö. For example, according to all English-speaking media our current President is called NiinisTOE :D

    I didn't like Nine at all either. Really, there IS a limit on how many ladies wearing lingerie you can have dancing around on a film.

    I think most people feel their own country's history is uncomfortable in some way :D Imperialism is a really interesting angle for a Finn, I think, because our situation was always pretty much the opposite – Finland was part of some other country from the early Middle Ages till 1917! And I also like the historical settings you chose ;)

  5. Wow, the worst theatrical performance... I've seen my share of awful stuff, but I've never had to leave the theatre during intermission!

    1. Yes, it really was that bad... Though I've never really heard anybody else's opinions about it, I would be interested to know if anyone else felt as strongly against it as I did.