I left St. Petersburg feeling sad, to be quite honest. I was leaving my motherland (let me hold onto this possible lie my mother told me about my ancestry) and going to Finland, a country I really didn’t know anything about.

I am so glad I was proven wrong.

In short, I simply loved the feeling of Helsinki. I’m so fond of the city now. You know how every city has its own vibe, its own energy? Whatever that feeling was in Helsinki, I drank it up and reveled in it, despite the drizzly weather. (If it wasn’t so drizzly, we would have seen the sun rise at 4:30 AM and set at 10:30 PMWHAT.)

Helsinki is where we started getting real with hop-on/hop-off buses, aka ho-ho buses. We got off our cruise ship and were greeted with this fun pink butterfly campaign for tourists, which I thought was SO cute.

Little pink butterflies were painted onto the asphalt. Helsinki certainly is welcoming to tourists!


Being greeted with this view of the sea helped boost my first impression of Helsinki as well. It was such a perfect day. I just remember… loving the feeling of Helsinki. The energy of the people, the personality of the city. I loved it much more than I thought I would, and I came away so pleasantly surprised by how wonderful Helsinki is. Maybe it was the result of having such loooooong daylight hours in the Scandinavian summer. The day we were in Helsinki, the sun rose at 4:30 AM and set at 10:30 PM. Imagine going outside at 10 PM and the sun hasn’t even begun to set. I remember thinking that the people were incredibly friendly but kept the thought in the back of my mind that they might be a lot grouchier in the winter, when the sun comes up around after 9 and is down before 4. But on this magnificent day, everyone smiled and was extremely friendly.

A lady making giant bubbles in the park for the beautiful little Finnish children? YEP, I love this city.

We visited the 1952 Helsinki Olympic stadium, and got to go up to the very top of the very tall tower.

Paavo Nurmi, the “Flying Finn”

The stadium tower stands at 72.71 metres (238.5 ft), which is the distance that Finnish javelin gold medalist Matti Järvinen threw in the 1932 Olympics.

Definitely can’t complain about the view…

We also spotted people waiting in line for audition for Finnish Idol? Or Finland's Got Talent?

We also spotted people waiting in line for audition for Finnish Idol? Or Finland’s Got Talent?

After a trip to the weirdly fancy and nice bathroom (can’t quite describe how it was fancy but… it was), we got to go into the stadium and it was awesome.

After proving the theory that a delayed bus only comes after a) I have walked away b) far enough that I have to run back to catch it (this theory has been proven right every time so far), we explored some of the sites that we saw on our first loop of the ho/ho bus.

Climbed allllllll these steps to enjoy a peaceful moment in Helsinki Cathedral while it sprinkled just the barest bit of rain outside.

We walked the quiet but still lively streets of Helsinki and grabbed some lunch at an open-air market. It seemed to be catering mostly to tourists but eh, I didn’t mind at all and was more than happy to be a tourist.

Grabbed myself a mad yummy lunch of little fried fish, veggies, and potatoes. MAN I still remember how this hit the spot on one of our few dreary days.

Also, I saw maybe one of my FAVORITE churches of the whole trip, and as you recall, I saw a lot lot of churches. I mean, I already saw the Helsinki Cathedral.

This, my dear friends, is Temppeliaukio Church, aka Church of the Rock. It was carved out of solid rock. It feels like you’re in a cave, except there’s daylight pouring in from all sides. The roof is copper coiled around itself thousands of times.

Copper roof, not the rings of a tree

Easily one of the most unique churches I’ve ever seen in my life. Also, the acoustics are amazing in here because of the rock walls.

DEFINITELY visit if you are in Helsinki. While you’re there, you should also visit the Sibelius Monument, dedicated to composer Jean Sibelius.

Abstract effigy of Sibelius

Sibelius monument

It’s super DUPER cool.

Also, random thing, but I noticed a lot of cafes where you could eat al fresco had all the chairs facing the road? I saw this a few other times in Europe but it was definitely super apparent in Helsinki.

It feels like they’re watching you…..

Here’s a few more photos from my time in Helsinki, including a lot of STRANGE Helsinki-ans in the streets I spotted.


Alexander III wasn’t only popular in Russia

So fond of Helsinki, truly. I hope I get to go back someday.

Required Halloween Viewing

We’re almost halfway through October, but Halloween decorations have been in stores since July. Even though I hate (hate hate) being scared, I really like Halloween! It’s my one chance every year to dress up, which I’m recently discovering I love doing. I love getting into a character and being someone else for a day. (I do need to pick characters that are better-suited for chillier weather, though!)
Plus, I used to get the ultimate reward for dressing up: free candy.

First things first, let’s get a couple of short videos up here. These are iconic and classic Halloween staples in my life.

  • One of Disney’s Silly Symphonies: “The Skeleton Dance”
  • “Skeleton Frolic”
  • A classic Mickey Mouse cartoon: “Haunted House”

One of my favorite things about Halloween is the movies that go along with it. Let me remind you that I don’t like scary movies. I’m just kind of a sucker for holiday-themed movies. (Especially Christmas ones, but you all know I’m a super sucker for Christmas anyway.) A few of my favorites are:

  • Hocus Pocus

  • Beetlejuice – the only Tim Burton film I like, maybe?
  • It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

  • Casper

    Easily the most iconic scene in this movie
  • More or less any Scooby Doo movie, preferably an older one
  • Honorable mention: Rocky Horror Picture Show, the strange cult classic that was an extra hit at my summer camp

    (Because it was such a big part of my camp experience, I know all the words to this song and more, without having actually seen the entire movie.)
  • Optional: The Disney Channel originals (DCOMs!): Halloweentown + sequels – cheesy because they’re Disney but they’re a lot of fun

Oh yes, I absolutely cannot stand being scared (and yes, it’s because I scare way easily) but I love Halloween movies that aren’t horror ones.
Basically, I love children’s Halloween movies. SO WHAT they’re great. Halloween is really a holiday for kids now anyway.

I know I’ve left out some other iconic Halloween movies, but I just haven’t seen them before. (I’m too scared to watch a lot of them.)

Have you seen these movies?
Which movies that I left out do you think I definitely need to watch?

“Left Behind” – Kaptain [track]

No real post this Friday, so I’ll step aside and let my friend of 7 years and his music speak for themselves.

Kaptain‘s new EP Cosmic Groove will be coming out next week for free to download.

Gone Girl (2014)

Thanks to Yelp, I was able to see an advanced screening of Gone Girl last night. SO the advanced screening folks issued way too many tickets for the screening and I was turned away despite turning up really early. So mad. A lot of folks were mad. I was one of them. SO MAD. But I got to go to a theater with reclining seats (!!!) to watch with my parents today so it all turned out well in the end!

As per usual, I did not read this book before watching the movie. Long story short, I get to enjoy the movie without knowing how it’ll end or how it deviated from the book.

I like this poster, although it’s not what I expected because it looks almost nothing like the book cover.

I’ll admit, I didn’t understand why people were getting so excited about this movie. Not being part of a book fandom will do that to you, I guess. Reviews started pouring in and everyone was raving about the movie, so I went in with fairly high expectations. I’m also a really big fan of David Fincher, the director, so I was ready for a ride.

And boy did I get it.

What a roller coaster of emotions. With the greys between villain and victim, Gillian Flynn (author of the book and the screenwriter) paints this incredible portrait of how many people doing the wrong thing turns into a sh*tstorm, to say the least. The plot takes you for a ride, with plot twists cropping up every which way. It is really enjoyable if you haven’t read the novel, because then the twists really surprise you. There were several points near the middle/end of the film where I thought it was over but then BOOM MORE STUFF IS GOING ON, IT AIN’T OVER JUST YET.

What kind of man smiles at a press conference announcing that his wife is missing? A sociopath? A bundle of camera-shy nerves? Both? Neither?

Some spoiler-free points:

  • While I do love Fincher’s work, I would like to see him do more with color. He uses this muted color palette so often in his films (see The Social Network, Fight Club, Se7en, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, etc.) and I want to see him and his cinematographers play with COLOR more. Maybe I’ve just been spoiled by Zhang Yimou and Brian Fuller, but I think he can do it.
  • I like Ben Affleck in general as a person and as a director, but I’m really just not hot on him as an actor. I don’t know, he often plays these characters where things happen to him, which doesn’t require too much on his part as an actor, and even then it just falls short. I’m kind of over Ben Affleck as an actor, and I’m really curious about what he’ll bring to the table as Batman because… I don’t know, I always feel underwhelmed.
  • On the other hand, I really liked the casting of Rosamund Pike. I’ve only seen a few of her movies, and her characters usually don’t have too much depth in those movies. Bond girl. Bennett sister. But here, I got some new things from her, namely:
    • An American accent, which is new to me and done well
    • More depth and breadth to her character, which she also does well
    • She is amazing in Gone Girl. She is about to become HUGE in Hollywood because of this role, and rightfully so.
  • Neil Patrick Harris does a great job in his role as the maybe stalker ex-boyfriend. He manages to play on the edge of concerned and obsessed so well. You never quite knew which he was, and that was extremely unnerving. Although it gets overlooked often, I think he did the same with Barney Stinson on How I Met Your Mother: you were never totally sure where he stood morally, and there was something about the way he carried himself where you felt at ease with him most of the time but in the back of your mind you worried about him because you knew deep down you couldn’t 100% predict his next move. So good.

    Extra unnerving for me considering I haven’t seen in him a non-comedic role before. Nailed it so hard.

In fact, I would argue that what is great about Gone Girl, as is usually the case with many David Fincher films, is that it is really difficult to put a character in a box. Their moral character, as is the case with real people, is not clearly defined. These folks live in the greys between right and wrong, and the film was done in a way that, even as I was leaving the theater, I didn’t know who was the “good guy” or the “bad guy”. Add in the great unreliable narration written in by Gillian Flynn, as both the book and film are told from two characters at odds with each other and who are both, as most people are, unreliable… Plus, we have the craziness of the media as a big theme in this story, and I think that comes across so well. Some of the main antagonistic forces in this movie are the sensationalizing media and the mob mentality of the people who consume those media. MMM yes so good.

… I understand why there’s SO much buzz around this movie. It is good. You don’t know what the truth is. You realize that no character knows the truth either. You understand that the truth exists outside of any single person’s story. Messy stories don’t endings tied neatly in a bow. That’s how life is, and it’s unsettling and fantastically done.

Although I wouldn’t call it one of my favorite films, Gone Girl delivers so well on what it promised.
Rating:★★★★★ 5/5
Would I recommend watching it? Yes. (Please note that there is disturbing imagery in this film that is hard to get out of your head afterwards.)

Comments with spoilers below the trailer.

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Grammatical Pet Peeves

Okay, I just needed to get this off my chest, but there are some grammatical errors that grind my gears:

  • On accidentby accident
  • Chalk full ofchock full of 
  • Bear necessitiesbare necessities (I know it’s confusing because the Disney song is sung by a bear but stop)
  • Bare with mebear with me
  • Peaked her interestpiqued her interest
  • For all intensive purposesfor all intents and purposes
  • Reek the benefitsreap the benefits (What would “reek” the benefits even mean???)
  • Sneak peaksneak peek
  • Doesn’t phase me doesn’t faze me
  • Should ofshould’ve/should have (applies to the entire “-ould” coven)
  • Wheelbarrelwheelbarrow (I know, this one blew my mind but ’tis true; trust your spellchecker here)
  • Pour over a book — pore over a book

These are the ones I could think of for now. I know that sometimes meanings change with how the language is used, but soetimes that’s ridiculous, isn’t it? (See: “literally”) These are little things that are common mistakes, many that are very easy to make and maybe difficult or even unreasonable to change. But oh well!

Are there any grammatical mistakes that drive you a little crazy?