Countdown 2014: 5

Will there be a countdown of the best stories on ristopakarinen.com this year, you ask? The answer if yes. The same procedure as every year. Starting on Dec 27, I’ll publish the top stories of the year. This year’s categories are True Fiction and Attempts at Humor. (New entries will be published at 2:02 pm CET each day).

And without further ado, here are the stories that finished in the fifth place.

» Attempt at humor: “Tommy’s mistake
» True Fiction: “Watch this

Number 5.

Smalltown, Finland

The gulls have taken over the market square. They’re everywhere, feasting on the remains of the day on the ground. There’s peas, strawberries, cloudberries, potatoes, Vietnamese food, pancakes. Donuts. Or parts of them, tiny parts of them.

The market square, the heart of the city, is now asleep. One of the cafés on the square has closed for the day, their red chairs stacked up outside their little house a sure sign of it, leaving nothing for interpretation. The other one is only half-full, when just two hours earlier they both had been packed and people had shuffled the chairs in new constellations as everybody wanted to fit under the shade.

The square.

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Escape to the Witch Mountain

I suppose that when you grow up in a country that has only two TV channels and no programming between midnight and 4 pm, films become a big thing and going to movies even bigger.

The first movie that made an impression on me was Escape to Witch Mountain. The 1975 version, not the 1995 version which I made Wife watch just as we had started dating, thinking it was the 1975 version, my version, the movie that explained my love for harmonica, and by extension, for Huey Lewis.

It was not. We did watch the entire movie, with me first complaining about how I didn’t seem to remember anything, and then about the poor quality of the re-make.

Thumbs up.

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List of the year

So this is Xmas, and what have you done?

Last year, I published a Best of the Millennium list here, delighted to see that I had 40 entries on the list. This year, I only have nine, but that’s fine, considering I made it a Top 9 list.

I’ll post a link to an archived blog entry every day between today and Christmas Eve. (That’s why it’s a Top 9 list). Consider it your R-advent calendar. Hope you like it. Tell your friends.

And without further ado … Nummmbbeeerrrr niiiiiiiiiiine:

Yhdeksän.

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The coach

“Why don’t you put on your coach’s coat?”
– Son, on our way to his bandy practice.

It’s cold out there. It’s cold standing by the side of a huge bandy arena, with the winds blowing the full length of the ice, when the temperature is already in the double digits below zero. My new winter coat is a precious memento from the Vancouver Olympics that I covered for the IIHF, but that’s not the coach’s jacket that Son meant. That’s the 21st century version, but Son was talking about my other winter coat.

And that's Stanley.

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Freeze frame

It’s cold in Finland. It’s cold like in Russian hell, as the saying goes here. It’s especially cold for a guy who insists on not wearing socks, but as the Swedes say, “there’s no bad weather, just poor clothing.” So I’m not complaining, because only wimps complain, as my Dad says.

Besides, it’s not like I’ve never seen minus-25 degrees before. Listen up, kids. When I was a kid, I walked to school every day: ten kilometers, on barefoot, uphill both ways. After I had milked the cows but before I went to work in the mines.

My hair!

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Fake Modesty

Helsinki in November is not exactly chicken soup for the soul. If we assume that today was an average day – and why not – it’s safe to say that on an average day, you can’t see the sun at all. Helsinki is dark, it’s gray, it’s wet. It’s cold.

Then again, it’s one of the best little cities in the world. Because it’s mine.

The church has been there a long time.

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When we were kings

Turns out, I didn’t know anybody. I thought I could put all the names and faces together, but I didn’t recognize my best buddy. I probably would have had somebody asked me to find him in the crowd sitting in the sun, but when he came to shake my hand, I drew a blank.

Then again, he wasn’t sure who I was, either.

Almost like the first day of school.

Except a lot more fun.

Because on the first day of school I cried.