Filed under: Fiction

After the race, K’s mother invited me to their house, a rare event that made me both uncomfortable and curious at the same time. For all the time that K and I spent together, I had only been at his place once or twice. We always hung out at my place, and ate lunches that my mother made, and listened to records on my parents’ turntable. Sure, K always went back home at the end of the day, or he might zip back to get some records, but I bet I only spent a total of 30 minutes inside their house, and even then, all of it in K’s little room with the door closed.

That one time, though, I sat in their kitchen, and ate cake his mother had made. I wore my silver medal around my neck. She told me she had heard so much about me that she was curious to know what kind of a wonder boy I was, which surprised me. I couldn’t imagine K talking about me at all, let alone paint me up as a superhero.

Olivia!

» Continued

Filed under: Fiction

But he was also a great running partner. That summer I was 12, and K was 13, and we talked about the World Cup, and K told me about FBI, after he’d make me promise that I’d never tell anyone because that might put his Dad in danger, and I told him about the teachers in our school. Somehow K had managed to stay out of school those weeks in May and June, and nobody seemed to miss him.

So I told him which teachers I liked, and which I didn’t like, and why. And we ran. We ran those trails and paths, and we ran on track, and we ran around our town from the tennis courts to the beach and from the Dairy Queen to the library.

Ruuuuuun!

» Continued

Filed under: Fiction

The first time K and I became friends, I was 12 years old. He was thirteen, which made him the boss of me, because in that age, age is everything. I was also shorter, and a little skinnier, so even if I ever had decided to go against K’s ideas, he surely would have got me back in line, fast.

But there was never any need for that because we were the best of friends.

A runner.

K.

» Continued

Filed under: True story

By now you’ve probably been to New York and Los Angeles, seen the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the pyramids in Egypt. You’ve checked out Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin and walked on the Chinese Wall hoping to be seen from space. You’ve eaten that dangerous blowfish, of course, and drunk wine made of grapes from the shady side of the Andes.

Chances are you’ve also come across Finns along the way. Maybe you’ve met one, maybe you know one, maybe you’re married to one, or maybe someone you know is married to one.

Welcome!

» Continued

Jul 01, '14 : Good day, Mrs. Sunshine

Filed under: Based on true events

“Mom!”

No reply.

“Daaad!”

Silence.

I open my eyes and get out of my bed. I look out the window, the sun is shining, and a blue bus is just pulling out of the stop across the street. When it’s gone, three seconds later, I see the poster on the bus stop. It’s an advertisement for “Slap Shot”. It puzzles me that a hockey movie is coming out in the summer, but not as much as it puzzles me that Mom and Dad won’t let me see it.

Our balcony and our grocery store.

» Continued

Jun 23, '14 : Adventures in Wonderland

Filed under: True story

Spotify, the online music service, recently put its boys in the lab on the job to analyze 50 years’ worth of summer hits to come up with an exhaustive list of summer jams. And as you can expect, the list is a collection of fantastic songs, from “It’s my party” to “Ring my bell” to “Every breath you take” to “We like to party” to “Hips don’t lie” to “Call me maybe”.

Some more fantastic than the others, of course.

The full list has 130 songs on it, and according to Spotify’s team of scientists, the saddest and the slowest of them all is “Alone” by Heart, the Nancy and Ann Wilson sister act.

That’s not how I remember it.

Oh, Nancy.

» Continued

Jun 07, '14 : Like a rubber ball

Filed under: Random

There are two schoolyards in the world that I know better than most, despite the fact that I never went to those schools. One of them is the the schoolyard of Son’s and Daughter’s school in Stockholm, and the other is an elementary school in Joensuu, Finland.

The school was right next to our local multipurpose arena: a gravel pitch where we played soccer and Finnish pesäpallo in the summer, and hockey in the winter. The school was just 200 meters from our house, but went almost completely unnoticed by me the for first two years I lived in Joensuu. However, when it was time to go to high school, and ride my green Peugeot to town, the schoolyard was the perfect shortcut, and saved me at last ten, maybe fifteen seconds on my way to school.

She shoots..

» Continued

Jun 01, '14 : It's a little bit funny

Filed under: True story

I hope you don't mind, I hope you don't mind
That I put down in words...
How wonderful life is, now you're in the world


Moulin Rouge, the movie, came out in 2001, almost two years before Son was born. I didn’t know much about it, but for some reason I thought I wouldn’t like it, so I never watched it. About six months before Son was born, Wife and I traveled to Maine, and it was one of the movies shown on the plane, so I watched it with my nose about six inches from the six-inch screen, and I loved it.

When we got home, we saw it at a friend’s place, and then finally, on the big screen. And I loved it every time. For years, I had the "Can can can" song as my ring signal.

Moulin Rouge

» Continued

May 28, '14 : My girl

Filed under: Random

“So, anyways, I’ve met someone…”

Two.

» Continued

May 21, '14 : Whose fact is it anyway

Filed under: True story

The other day, as Son and Daughter and I were walking towards the bus stop, we noticed a lot of earthworms on the sidewalk.

Every step of the way, Son was yelling warnings to Daughter and me so that we wouldn’t step on them. There really were a lot of them and I jumped over each one to my please my animal loving kids. (“That’s why I don’t use worms, but bread, as a bait when we go fishing,” said Daughter). Meanwhile, the other half of my brain, the half that’s not in charge of my walking and jumping, was busy trying to come up with an answer to the question I knew was coming.

Fact!

» Continued

May 14, '14 : All the world's a stage

Filed under: Random

The other day as I was going into the sauna, I walked right into a boy’s shirt that was hanging from the door on the inside. On the shirt, there’s a note - in Son’s handwriting - that says: “Costume #2, “Dad”, sophisticated Q725”.

Son has always been making all kinds of plays. He’s gone to a drama school for five years, he’s been in a movie, and he’s currently in a comedy show, but he’s always liked to tell stories and jokes, and perform. My mother bought him a microphone stand when he was two, and apparently, that was his thing. (After a joke, he’d press a button with his tiny foot to start up the laugh track).

I.Am.A.Robot.

» Continued

May 07, '14 : At the math club

Filed under: True story

The other day, while looking for stamps in my desk drawer, I found my old calculator. The one I used all through high school, the one I bought, or was told to buy, because I was a math guy. The one that saved me in my high school final exam.

Up until high school, I had been a languages guy, but once it was time to graduate to high school, I was told it'd be too much to try to do both math and physics, and still take another language. 

So I dropped my German studies - I took our German teacher's house burning down to the ground as a sign - and bought a calculator. A “scientific calculator”, as it says on it.

Scientific

» Continued

May 02, '14 : Oh yes, Oulu

Filed under: Hockey

OULU, Finland – Sometimes the stars are aligned just perfectly, and the great stories we all love in sports get the fairy tale ending we yearn for. That’s what happened in Oulu when Game Seven of the Finnish final went into overtime.

That’s the dream kids dream, and depending on where they live on this planet, it’s their local team that scores the winning goal. These days even kids in Finland, Sweden, and Germany may dream about getting the Stanley Cup clinching goal for a team in Southern Florida, but for most kids, the first heroes are always the ones that are the closest.

The Magic Man, and the other Magic Man

» Continued

Apr 07, '14 : The Impressionist

Filed under: Based on true events

I’m the kinda guy who’s fairly easily impressed by others. I may not always say it, or show it to the person in question, but in my heart I know it.

I look up to those people and I try to emulate them. Maybe I’ll start to dress like them, or I try to walk like them, or – just something. As a kid I taught myself how to fake Wayne Gretzky’s autograph, and I put a photo of Wayne over my own photo in my bus pass. When somebody told me I walked like Esa Peltonen, a Team Finland star, I made sure to keep walking that way.

When I was ten, or eleven, and read Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, I wanted to be Mark Twain. He's still my literary hero and one day I will have a mustache like that, too.

The red one.

» Continued

Apr 04, '14 : Me, superhero

Filed under: Based on true events

I was only ten years old when I realized the first of my superpowers. I was sitting in the backseat of our car, in a parking lot somewhere, waiting for my father to come back from the store or the hockey rink. For some reason, I wasn’t reading comics, or a book, but instead just looked out the window – like kids used to do back in the day.

As I was staring out the window, possibly trying to see if Dad was on his way back, I realized that I was actually looking right through a lamp post.

R.

» Continued

Mar 18, '14 : Tommy's mistake

“Hey, Jack,” said the young man with the aviator glasses.

“Hey, Tommy,” replied the man named Jack. He was sitting at a small round coffee table, with a paper cup and a newspaper in front of him.

Neither one said anything for a while as Tommy poured himself a cup of coffee, and then some milk, and sat down at the table.

Jack turned the page, then another, and when he finally had read the newspaper, he folded it up and threw it back on the table.

They sat at the table silent.

Then Tommy slammed his clipboard on the table.

“Here they are,” he said with a big grin on his face.

“Who’s here?” said Jack, and then barked:

“What are you doing here, Tommy?”

You can check out but you can never leave.

» Continued

Filed under: True story

One recent late night, when I should have been writing, and was instead scrolling up and down my Facebook page, I saw the status of an acquaintance of mine - a Formula One reporter on Finnish TV - in which he wrote: “Heard that a version of my name may have been used in the Donald Duck magazine. Can anybody confirm that?”

A couple of days later, I asked him if he’d heard anything. He hadn’t. Then I asked him why he had asked that. 

“It’d be a great honor to be featured in the Donald Duck magazine,” he said. 

Going places. Like Finland.

» Continued

Feb 22, '14 : My boy

Filed under: True story

Before Kurt Russell became Herb Brooks, the coach of the US hockey team in “Miracle”, the story of the team that beat the Soviets in the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, he was Elvis. And if you think he was a great Herb Brooks, I’m here to tell you he was an even better Elvis.

I saw “Elvis” with my best friend in a Saturday matinee in 1979, in a movie theatre a little outside the city, close to the store where Dad worked. Interestingly enough, when I looked up the movie right now, it’s listed as a TV movie, but I’m positive I saw it in a theatre. Or maybe we just had a huge TV, after all, Dad always made sure we had the latest TVs and VCRs.

Elvis.

» Continued

Feb 21, '14 : The diaries of a loser

Filed under: Hockey

And so it was over. I sat in the armchair, and watched the Swedes pile up into a huge blue and yellow ... painful lump of yuck!

I knew all the stories of the Swedes' golden generation, how Mats Sundin, Peter Forsberg, Nicklas Lidstrom and Daniel Alfredsson "never got to win anything together in a big tournament."

I've always like Mats Sundin, and I was probably the only person in the stands during the World Championships final in 1997 to cheer for the Swedes over Canada. (Canada won). I think Peter Forsberg is an amazing player, and I even said before the tournament that Henrik Lundqvist is the goalie that can lead Sweden to Olympic gold.

I knew that. And, in a way, I wanted their stories to get the fairytale ending.

Sundin and Forsberg

» Continued

Filed under: Hockey

Ask a Finn about the “recent rise of great Finnish goaltenders” and he or she will be baffled.

The younger generation doesn’t understand the question because for them, Finland’s always produced great NHLers, such as Miikka Kiprusoff, Kari Lehtonen, Niklas Backström, Pekka Rinne, Antti Niemi and Tuukka Rask. Older fans think back to previous generations – Urpo Ylönen, Jarmo Myllys*, Kari Takko**, Markus Mattsson***, Jorma Valtonen, Hannu Kamppuri – and wonder what the fuss is about.

He shoots … he scores?

» Continued

Feb 03, '14 : The ugly duckling

Filed under: True story

If there ever was a grayer person, I had never seen him. He was so grey that the first time I saw him, I didn’t see him. But he must have skated past me. Now, I was standing on the sidelines, my eyes on Daughter out there learning to skate, so I didn’t pay attention to any other people on or off the ice.

I was also listening to music, so if the grey man had said something to me, I hadn't heard a word.

I don’t know how many times he skated past me, but at some point, the fact that somebody was regularly blocking my view of the ice did register, and I had a good look at the guilty party. Having read this far you already know that he was the grayest person I’d ever seen, but let me try to describe to you just how grey he was.

He's out there somewhere.

» Continued

Filed under: Hockey

Here's an excerpt from This is Russia: Life in the KHL - Doctors, bazas and millions of air miles, Bernd Brückler's memoir of his three seasons in the KHL.

You can find the book on Amazon: English / German.

This excerpt is from the chapter called "Medicine Men".

This is more than sixteen pills.

» Continued

Jan 27, '14 : Make plays, not war

Filed under: Random

I don’t remember ever having been fascinated by war. I was never that kid with a big plastic bag full of toy soldiers, or the kid who wore camouflage pants weeks on end. I knew both those kids, and I also knew a third kid, who wore camouflage pants when he made short war movies, and taped firecrackers to his toy soldiers.

But not me.

I only had three toy soldiers, and mostly I made toiler paper parachutes for them, and threw them down the balcony. Or, to be honest, I threw them from my parents’ bed, but I always wanted to throw one down from our second-floor balcony to see how they’d fare. I knew I wasn’t supposed to throw stuff from the balcony so I didn’t. The only did I ever threw down was a brown, six-month-old Xmas tree which I didn’t want to carry down the stairs, but instead I just lifted it over the rail and let it drop onto the backyard parking area.

By then, I was already almost thirty.

This is what I think a professor of Soviet history looks like.

» Continued

Filed under: Hockey

Here's a collection of excerpts of This is Russia: Life in the KHL - doctors, bazas, and millions of air miles:

The Hockey News: Money, and Brucks's accident
ESPN: Money
ESPN: Baza
This blog: Lokomotiv
This blog: Tarasenko
This blog: Medicine Men (Or why you need to take 16 pills a day)

Hey, governor!

Photo: Brucks meets the governor.

Jan 09, '14 : Tarasenko

Filed under: Hockey

Here's another excerpt from "This is Russia", Bernd Brückler's KHL memoir I co-authored. This is from the chapter in which he talks about the characters he played with and against in the KHL: Vladimir Tarasenko, an Olympian in about a month: "Vladimir may be the best player I’ve ever played with," says Brucks.

Just like Misha in Nizhny, Vladimir “Vova” Tarasenko is a homegrown star in Novosibirsk, and just like in Misha’s case, Vladimir’s father Andrei had been a national team player.

Vladimir grew up in Novosibirsk, and at 16 he played in the Superleague. Of course, “Vova” learned the game from his dad, who had been a great forward. Andrei was also our coach — he was the head coach first, but then switched places with former Toronto Maple Leafs player Dmitri Yushkevich and became assistant coach.

The St. Louis Blues had drafted Vlamidir in the first round in 2010, but he had stayed in the KHL for another year because Andrei thought it was best for Vladimir’s development. Vladimir wanted to stay so that he could play for his dad, the new head coach of Sibir.

Tarasenko.

» Continued

Jan 01, '14 : Year upgrades to 2014

Filed under: Lighter side

NEW YORK – It was worth all the hype. Just hours after its launch, “2014”, the latest version of Year, a life experience interface, has collected over seven billion users, making it the most popular Year in history.

Year has managed to add new users in most of its existing markets, a feat not many analysts thought was going to be possible. Also, while Year has dominated the global marketplace, it hasn’t always been embraced by the Chinese, leaving one of the biggest markets untapped, but “2014” seems to have broken that barrier.

The new Year is built on the same platform as the previous version, the “2013”, but users now can make slight modifications, such as opt for better nutritional and workout habits, a feature that the 2013 also initially had, but that disappeared mysteriously in early February in what is suspected to be an attack by the Anonymous.

» Continued

Dec 30, '13 : Top 10 entries of 2013

Filed under: Flashbacks

The moment you've been waiting for: The Top 10 entries on 2013. Here they are, by category, but in no particular order. Enjoy, and see you in 2014. Happy New Year!

Happy new year!

» Continued

Filed under: Random

Dear Valued Customer,

Thank you for using Santa Claus™ Global Services (SCGS). We hope you had a Santastic™ experience, and that we’ll see you again soon. Before that, though, we’d kindly ask you to fill in our customer satisfaction survey so that we can make your next experience even merrier.

The survey takes only three minutes to complete. Thank you, and ho, ho, ho.

Everything we do is dedicated to improving your customer experience

» Continued

Dec 24, '13 : Free Santa

Filed under: True story

A few weeks ago, Son told me that he’d started a little support campaign for Santa Claus at school. Some of the kids had teased him about believing in Santa - “come on, you’re a fifth-grader” - so he had walked around the schoolyard with signs that said something like, “Santa’s real”, and “Free Santa”. And while he may have walked in support of a 300-year-old man, he did it in a 21st century style, with hashtags #freesanta, and #gottabelieve written on the bottom of the signs.

On our way home that day, after he’d told me about his campaign, he asked me if he was being silly.

“I mean, you believe in Santa, right?” he asked me.

Ho, ho, ho!

» Continued

Filed under: Hockey

Here's an excerpt from This is Russia: Life in the KHL - Doctors, bazas and millions of air miles, Bernd Brückler's memoir of his three seasons in the Kontinentalnaya Hokkeynaya Liga (KHL), founded and financed by Russian oligarchs.

In 2011, "Brucks" signed with Sibir Novosibirsk, and succeeded Team Sweden goaltender Stefan Liv as the team's goaltender. A few months later, the entire Lokomotiv Yaroslavl perished in a plane crash as the team was on their way to their first regular season game of the season. Below is Brucks's story from the inside.

This is Brucks in a Torpedo Nizny Novgorod sweater.

» Continued

Dec 06, '13 : This is a book

This past fall, I helped Bernd Bruckler write a memoir of his time in the KHL. This is Russia: Life in the KHL - Doctors, bazas and millions of air miles finally appeared on Amazon today, so it's been a good day. Here's that link.

Wanna read a small sample of the book's "Money makes the world go 'round" chapter? Maybe? Here it is.

Oh, here's ThisIsRussiaTheBook.com.

And here's the cover:

This is Russia: Life in the KHL - Doctors, bazas and millions of air miles<br />

Nov 27, '13 : Monika

Filed under: True story

My first best friends were girls. The first of them all was S, the daughter of one of Dad’s best friends. She was born exactly a week after me, so having known her all my life, I guess she’s my oldest friend. She was the princess, I was the prince, her baby brother was the horse, as we got ready to live these lives of ours happily ever after. Just not together.

Then there was M, a girl I played with at Grandma’s place when I was maybe three or four, and us being friends seemed to be a big deal for Grandma who used to often bring it up years later.

“Oh, I remember how you guys used to play here, in that sandbox over there,” she’d say.

Or, “You were so cute, you and your friend M.”

Monika just outside of the photo.

» Continued

Filed under: Random

BRUSSELS – A big step towards world peace was taken today in the capital of Europe, as world leaders began the process of planning a special peace summit to discuss important matters in a wide range of topics, from financial to geopolitical to educational to philosophical and moral matters. Those unable to participate can join for parts of it via Skype, and those without a broadband Internet connection, can take part in the conference in spirit.

According to the confidential reports leaked to this reporter, representatives of all parts of the world, of all religions and faiths, and of all races and cultural enclaves will be invited to be in attendance.

The UN.

» Continued

Nov 14, '13 : A bunch of cool amateurs

Filed under: Hockey

These days when I’m bored and have nothing to do, I go on Facebook or read my Twitter feed - seems to me I’m bored way too much - but in another time when phones had cords and rotary dials, and the Love Boat was still roaming the seven seas, my options were to go outside and play hockey or stay at home and read a book.

Now, fortunately, Dad got bored even more than I did, and when he had nothing to do, we went for a drive.

“Wanna go for a drive?” he’d ask Mom and me, and if Mom said yes, we’d drive to friends, but if she didn’t, we almost always drove to a hockey rink. Maybe there was a game, maybe just a practice, or maybe we’d bump into some friends, and have a Coke and a donut at the cafeteria.

Or, maybe, if we were lucky, we’d see something better.

 salesmen, painters, students, pilot, doctor, cook

» Continued

Filed under: Random

They say we learn something new every day. Even I say that every once in a while, mostly when I realize I really have learned something new, often an unexpected fact. Then there are the things you learn and keep telling forward even though you really can’t explain them, not really, and even though you can’t be really sure if they’re true.

I have two such stories. I still keep telling them to people, even though I have no idea if they’re true or not, and if pressed, would probably guess that they’re not true.

In fact, I told one of them to our neighbors just the other day. We were sitting at a restaurant on the ferry to Finland, having met there by coincidence, and as we talked while the kids were in the playland, the ferry moved sideways a little. Not as if in a storm, but just a little so that people stopped walking on the decks, and grabbed a hold of the tables in the restaurants, leaning back, trying to figure out if the problem was the ferry or their heads.

Noooo!

» Continued

Oct 31, '13 : Special K

Filed under: True story

Son was at a Halloween party last week. It was a major milestone in his life - and mine - as it was the first after-school party he went to that wasn’t a birthday party. It was a Halloween party so they were asked to dress up in a costume.

Son decided he wanted to go as a Russian soldier.

Pumpkins.

» Continued

Oct 30, '13 : Down on the corner

Filed under: True story

On our way up to my Dad’s on the kids’ fall break, we stopped at a gas station to get some gas, sandwiches, and to go the bathroom. Son walked in, looked around the place, and the few people hunched over their cups of coffee and their donuts, and he said, with sunshine in his voice: “Dad, this is a typical Finnish hangout.”

And it was. The gas stations used to be where people hung out and back when I was a teenager, we only had two real coffee shops in town. One of them was across the street from my Dad’s store, the other next to a bank, and being a block away from the market square, a little too far for me. So, if I ever went to a café - which I hardly ever did - I’d pick the one across the street from Dad’s store.

My hangout was the cafeteria at the hockey rink. That’s where I always found buddies, but not having a cup of coffee, but playing Pac-Man or another arcade game.

And this is what the street used to look like

» Continued

Oct 28, '13 : First Euro NHL GM

Filed under: Hockey

COLUMBUS – Eight months ago, history was truly made in the NHL. Only, it wasn’t a scoring record, or a new champion, but instead, an off-ice move in which the Columbus Blue Jackets made Jarmo Kekäläinen the first European GM in the league’s history.

At the time, Kekäläinen was in the third year of his five-year contract as the GM of Jokerit Helsinki in the Finnish league, back on home turf after over a decade of traveling around Europe scouting for the Ottawa Senators and the St. Louis Blues.

“My dream has always been to become a GM in the NHL, and I never gave up that dream when I moved back to Finland to become the GM of Jokerit,” Kekäläinen told IIHF.com.

Kekäläinen in Stockholm in 2006. Photo: Susanne Kronholm.

» Continued

Oct 24, '13 : Rockface

Filed under: True story

For a short while, Son’s favorite song was one about a man on a polar expedition gone wrong. In the song, the man - his name is Alfred Pesonen - falls through the ice, but somehow gets back up and survives. The setback frustrates him, though, and he decides to go for an African expedition instead. While there, he sees elephants and, impressed by their size and strength - “that would beat even a walrus” - he decides to take a few of them with him to another polar expedition.

Unfortunately, the African elephants, not used to the arctic conditions, die, even though Alfred covers them with fur coats. Alfred gives up, and goes hunting for a white whale.

Years later, when scientists find them, they take them for mammoths.

Well, I can’t be entirely sure it was Son’s favorite song, because he was just a few months old when I sang it to him daily, but it’s one of the top songs on one of my favorite albums of all time: Kake Singers debut album from 1979.

Album back cover

» Continued

Oct 22, '13 : Nano, nano

Filed under: True story

A few weeks ago after dinner, Sister-in-law told us about a fun game she had played at work. Or, maybe it was a work-related event, because while guessing TV themes is no brain surgery, I wouldn’t want the actual brain surgeons humming the X-files tune when they ask for the scalpel.

She had her iPhone in her hand, and she played the tunes one by one. And Wife, me, and Brother-in-law shouted out our guesses.

“Twin Peaks!”
“Friends!”
“Seinfeld!”

And then, after the first few bars of another tune, while I was still trying to put the familiar tune together with the show, Brother-in-law yelled: “ALF!”

And I kicked myself under the table. Alf! I should have got that one. After all, I still quote jokes from Alf. Oneliners like, “Noses run in my family,”, “I kill me”, and “I guess you had to be there … I WAS!”

But out loud, I said, “Oh, of course … Alf … for Alien Life Form, but he was really Gordon Shumway from Melmac,” I said, in an attempt to show off my vast Alf knowledge, because, yes, my dinner companions just had to know that one 1980s orange puppet was “really” from “Melmac”.

Raised on television.

» Continued

Oct 07, '13 : Fool me once

Filed under: True story

Just like “there are times when the Phantom leaves the jungle and walks the streets of the town like an ordinary man”, you can sometimes spot me jogging a little around the neighborhood. Not very often, never far from home, but still, out there, with my lazy eye of the tiger.

Yesterday was one such day.

This is Litmanen, not me.

» Continued

Sep 24, '13 : Anticipation

Filed under: True story

Long before I had moved to Sweden, or met Wife, and long before there was Son and even longer for Daughter, I sat on a train. It was a red train, a commuter train, so you know it was a long time ago because it was when the trains were red, and the seats were blue, before the red-and-white and the green-and-blue-and-white trains, and before the platform at the Helsinki train station had got its roof.

Helsinki.

» Continued

Sep 09, '13 : Scar tissue

Filed under: Based on true events

“How come you don’t have any beard over here, where you have that scar?”
– Son, one recent Saturday


Right on the edge of my chin, on the left side, there's a scar. It's not a big one, just a couple of centimeters long, and since it is where it is, you don't really see it, especially if I'm clean shaven. But then I make a funny or scary face, or grin, the scar travels a little further up, and it’s there for you to see it.

And every once in a while when someone realizes I have a scar on my face, she asks me about it.

“How’d you get that scar?” she’ll say, and I’ll smile and say:

“You should see the other guy.”

And then I tell her the story.

This is some other scarface.

» Continued

Filed under: Hockey

Eight years ago, a young Finnish goalie name Tuukka Rask was excited because he had just been drafted into the NHL by the Toronto Maple Leafs. He was only 18 years old, but his career plan was right on schedule. He had won the Finnish junior championship, recording six shutouts in 10 playoff games, and he had played in the IIHF World Junior Championship.

Today, Rask is the Boston Bruins' starting goaltender. His name is on the Stanley Cup as a member of the Bruins' championship team in 2011, and he might well have won the Conn Smythe as playoff MVP had the Bruins beaten the Chicago Blackhawks in the Final in June.

And eight years from now? Rask hopes he's still wearing a Bruins sweater. Right after the Stanley Cup Final he said he wanted to play in Boston "forever," and in July he got his wish, "forever" with an asterisk, as he signed an eight-year, $56 million contract.

Tuukka in 2003.

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Aug 31, '13 : Glove is in the air

Filed under: Based on true events

Ever since I realized it was cool to have parents who have done extraordinary things, I’ve told all my friends that my father won a Finnish championship as a young man. It was a major ace in the hole when other kids were bragging about their parents’ successes.

Now, my Dad was no longer a player, like Lare’s father - who played Division II soccer - and my Dad wasn’t a candy wholesaler like Pekka’s, but he sure had won that Finnish title.

Except that he won it in pesäpallo, which while being Finland’s national sport, was, and is, also a small and rural sport, and therefore, not the coolest of sports.

Also, he only sort of won a championship. That he was on the team that won can’t be disputed and never will be disputed, because I have the evidence right in front of me. On my desk there’s a photo, a newspaper clipping, in which he’s holding the trophy and his teammates are all around him, beaming.

Proof!

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Aug 27, '13 : Lessons in style

Filed under: Random

If Richard Nixon could leave the White House for the last time in style, looking like a winner, after he’d been run out, forced out, after he’d lied to the nation, and had faced impeachment, you can emerge from your little adversities looking like a winner, too.

And that’s more than half the battle. If you look like a winner, you are a winner.

(Of course, results may vary).

Here are a few examples of situations you may find yourself in, and the proper response.

1. You go to an all-you-can eat tex-mex buffet, and just as you’ve loaded your plate with nachos and salsa, and guacamole, and cheese - a lot of cheese - and meat and beans, and just as you’re about to get some more nachos with your right hand, while balancing the tray with your left, you realize you forgot to get a glass, so you take a few steps back, then trip on the bag you left on the floor, and while trying to hold onto your food and the glass, you fail miserably at both, and drop everything on the floor.

As you get up and see the entire food court staring at you, you stand up, brush the nachos and the cheese - a lot of cheese - off your shirt, and you do this:

Nixon.

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Aug 11, '13 : Go [team]!

Filed under: True story

As I type this, every once in a while I catch a glimpse of something orange hovering over my keyboard. It's the plastic bracelet with the New York Mets' logo on it, together with their slogan, “Ya gotta believe!” I've been wearing it around my wrist for two weeks now.

I’ve been trying to become a fan for years. A fan of … anything, really, but mostly a team of some non-hockey sports team. My method has aways been the same: I first make up my mind about the sport, then go about deciding which team to choose – then buy that team’s fan merchandise.

Just a couple of Mets fans.

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Filed under: Letters

Dear co-rider,

In the spirit of John Lennon, a one-time New Yorker, I say: yes, yes is the answer. “Yes” is the answer to the question on everybody’s minds earlier today: “Do you smell something weird?” And “yes” is the answer to the question, “is that short fella standing in the middle of the car the source of said smell?”

So I say to all of you, yes, yes I did smell something weird, and yes, the smell seemed to be coming off that man –– and yes, I was that man.

Innocent people.

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Filed under: True story

My first trip to New York City was a 30-hour layover on my way from Montreal, Canada to Helsinki, Finland. I had been at a sports fair in Canada, and had somehow managed to convince my boss that it was a good idea for me to travel through JFK, and, well, did it really matter if I stayed there for three hours or thirty? He didn’t think it did.

That’s how I arrived in New York City late on a Friday night. I was going to stay at a friend’s place in New York, and not only had he welcomed me to his home, he had also arranged for a driver to greet me at the airport.

Ain't that America.

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Filed under: Story archives

One recent late night, when I should have been writing, and was instead scrolling up and down my Facebook page, I saw the status of an acquaintance of mine - a Formula One reporter on Finnish TV - in which he wrote: “Heard that a version of my name may have been used in the Donald Duck magazine. Can anybody confirm that?”

A couple of days later, I asked him if he’d heard anything. He hadn’t. Then I asked him why he had asked that. 

“It’d be a great honor to be featured in the Donald Duck magazine,” he said. 

We go back a long way. This is the oldest toy I have left.

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