ha-ha-hakkinen

The greatest rumour of the year must be the one where Mika Häkkinen makes his F1 comeback at McLaren in 2007. Some guys here in Finland are going completely nuts, with chocolate and raisins, over this rumour. It was taken up another notch when Häkkinen did some time in the McLaren driving simulator, and then furthered even more when he passed McLaren’s medical examination. Boy, if he gets any testing time, the headlines will be bolder than Bruce Willis and blacker than Michael Jackson – the early edition.

But he will only make a comeback in Utopia, people. I bet my bony butt on it. Alain Prost may have come back at the age of 38, and won the championship in doing so, but herra Häkkinen has languished in no man’s land in DTM for two years, doing nothing but sucking in fifth place. For what it’s worth, I thought he was going to win every damn race in Don’t Tell Mama…

Ok-ok-ok, I give in just a little – my flesh may be weak, but my mind is a damn jellybean. How can I not entertain the thought of him coming back, and finding out he still has the old need for speed!? A Finn in Ferrari, a Finn in Renault, and a Finn in McLaren. Why, we could play “Find Three Finns” all season long! Salivation, salivation, and more salivation.

I was never a huge fan of the man, but Mika Häkkinen was, according to Martin Brundle, the fastest man, like EVERRR, over one lap. And that is why I salivate. And that is why I will apply for citizenship in Utopia.

blue-white invasion in kiwi-land

This weekend, more than ever, there was another goldrush of the Finnish folk going to the other side of the world. There seems to be some sort of a strange magnet in New Zealand that attracts the tribe of the blue and white. I can’t explain this phenomenon in any other way; I mean, it’s like the Finnish flying charter to the Canary Islands in the 1970s… New Zealand? Pschh. It should be New Finland!

First, Bosse Grönholm wins the New Zealand rally, with Mikko Hirvonen coming in second. Thanks to this total Finnish domination, Ford clinches the constructer’s crown for the first time since 1979. Can’t believe it’s been 27 years since the halcyon days of the mighty Escort!

Then, same place, same weekend, but on two wheels, Finland brings home the bacon again, in the 2006 ISDE [I hope – I haven’t actually seen the final results yet, but that’s how confident I am]. The International Six Days Enduro event is the olympics of enduro, and the flying Finns own it like it was the sauna championships. And Juha Salminen throws water like no one else…

On place, standing in the ever-heavy NZ rain, was my little bro, representing the blue and white spectator. Unbelievably, considering he called the mekka of rally – Finland – home for more than 25 years, this was still his first WRC event ever. I naturally figured he’d be a bit impressed by the speed of the cars, as you usually are when you lose your rally virginity.
Nah“, he texted me, “I drove the same roads in my Honda Prelude the day before, and I think I was faster.”

It made me smile, because I usually say things like that…

polly pollution

Do you want to know what Jesus really would drive?

A recent study, one claiming to be the most exhaustive ever on motoring environmental impact, has concluded that even most fat SUVs are more eco-friendly than the holy hybrid Toyota Prius – the favorite of well-meaning politicians and moviestars.

See, this two-year research project by CNW Marketing is a TOTAL study, ie “from dust to dust”, and takes into account everything from fuel consumption to factory manufacturing costs, parts, recyclability and durability, plus energy used on every level from beginning to end.

So far, the extent of most politicians’ and moviestars’ eco-thinking has been based on fuel consumption alone, which is why they drive dorky hybrids. This in-depth and extensive study also points out that these doofuses like to smell their own farts… [ok, there is a slight chance the last sentence may be false…]

Anyway, the truth is finally out there, and in here, on untouchable RAFAELPYTON.COM. According to the CNW report, the greenest car on our planet is – tadaaa – the Scion xB! [The Scion xB is a small car made by Toyota for the US market.]
In addition, let me proudly copy and paste the whole Top 10. Smile, because Jesus would drive one of these:

1. Scion xB ($0.48 per mile)
2. Ford Escort (0.57 per mile)
3. Jeep Wrangler ($0.60 per mile) [Imagine that – a 4×4!]
4. Chevrolet Tracker ($0.69 per mile)
5. Toyota Yaris ($0.70 per mile)
6. Saturn Ion ($0.71 per mile)
7. Hyundai Elantra ($0.72 per mile)
8. Dodge Neon ($0.73 per mile)
9. Toyota Corolla ($0.73 per mile)
10. Scion xA ($0.74 per mile

[Observe: Research data is translated into a “dollars per lifetime mile” figure, or the Energy Cost per mile driven].

Yes. That is that. Get one of those if you truly care about the world, but still need a car. For the rest of us, who love cars and who aren’t quite so dull & dreary, there is also hope of getting to heaven, as the Porsche 911 comes in well underneath any hybrid. So does the Dodge Viper, the BMW M3, the Mercedes-Benz CL, and the Range Rover Sport, just to name a few.

As far as the hybrids go, here’s a top 5:

1. Honda Insight ($2.94 per mile)
2. Ford Escape Hybrid ($3.18 per mile)
3. Honda Civic Hybrid ($3.24 per mile)
4. Toyota Prius ($3.25 per mile)
5. Honda Accord Hybrid ($3.30 per mile)

Moreover, this post would not be complete without a whip from the wrong side of the stick. These remorseless bandits, headed by emperor Maybach, are in a rogue league of their own. Still, when you see them, please don’t key them. Settle for showing the driver your tongue, if you feel you have to display contempt. Now, may I present Earth’s 10 least energy efficient vehicles over their lifetime:

1. Maybach by Mercedes-Benz ($11.58 per mile)
2. Volkswagen Phaeton ($11.21 per mile)
3. Rolls-Royce (full line average: $10.66 per mile)
4. Bentley (full line average: $10.56 per mile)
5. Audi Allroad Quattro ($5.59 per mile)
6. Audi A8 ($4.96 per mile)
7. Audi A6 ($4.96 per mile)
8. Lexus LS430 ($4.73 per mile)
9. Porsche Carrera GT ($4.53 per mile)
10. Honda NSX ($4.45 per mile)

Thus, you have been enlightened and illuminated.

the vita is so very very dolce

If you remember, last spring I deeply despaired over not having seen Fellini’s La Dolce Vita. Well, a week after having troubled you with this information, a big package plopped down in my mailbox, and when I hungrily tore off the paper, it revealed a fabulous special edition La Dolce Vita DVD-box set. Half a year later, I watched the movie for the first time…

Yes, I watched it yesterday. Can you believe I tormented myself for half a year before I found the perfect evening for this film? I carried this film with me to my summer palace in Nagu, and it sat on the tv-table all summer long. Anita Ekberg, wet from the fountains of Trevi, gave me the eye the whole time.
But, no, I resisted her. I argued with myself that it had to be a special night… and I also came to realize that I wanted to watch it on a big screen TV, to better be able to taste the juices of Fellini’s visions.

So, come yesterday, it finally felt right. I uncorked a smashing Tommasi [Italian red, 2003 Viticoltori], and sat down, alone with my anticipations, alone with Anita. This red wine was as succulent as sucking on a Anita’s teats: full-bodied, rather tannic, a deep bouquet of earthly flavours, fruity blackberries, mouth glowing from the long and tall aftertaste.
[Even so, I could identify two negative aspects: tiny bit of oak, which I, unlike many, don’t like at all, and wasn’t there a little acidity shining through, dare I say – because I like to chew and gurlge like an idiot, and keep it in my mouth for long periods of time.]

And there was a film. From the first shot of a helicopter carrying a statue of Jesus, to the end of a party at the beach, there was style and beauty to the limit, shot like only Fellini can. This is my Italy, how I always like to see it: gorgeous, but half-chaotic.

Allow me to produce a metaphor:

Italy to me is a very beautiful woman, strictly catholic but half-drunk and half-dressed, revving a Vespa, while simultaneaously flirting and throwing insults.

Oh, Roman high society, as wacky as it is desirable, and partly thanks to the figure of Marcello Mastroianni, in a slim suit and dark glasses – well hell, even a straight feller like me falls in love. Speaking of love, though, I reserved it for two particular ladies. One of them is Anouk Aimée, who certainly deserves her surname. The other is the white-fleshed Anita Ekberg, who fills a black dress like OH OH OH I don’t know who! Yikes! Crikey! Gosh! Golly! And all that and those.

Despite this overwhelming surface, there is a great deal of substance to La Dolce Vita. I will, however, leave this delight for you to discover, if you haven’t seen it yet. It is worth the effort, though. Snuggle up with someone you love, and pour up a few glasses of Tommasi. You can’t go wrong.

In conclusion, a little cream for your eyes: ANITA EKBERG HOLDING A LITTLE WHITE KITTEN.

I’ve just been reduced to pudding.

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coca

I am one of the very few who actually like(d) Coca-Cola Light – or “diet coke”, as it is called in people language. Now, however, I have moved on to grander pastures, and found a new killer winner in: Coca-Cola ZERO!!! Mmmm. Bubbly and tasty, and with almost NO CALORIES! Have you tried the new negro champagne yet? Give it a go, guys, and watch your waist vanish. You’ll never again have to go back to spandex…

I’ve seen the light, and it’s black.

[This must be my best post yet… cha cha cha & wooo ha ha ha! Unfortunately, the Coca-Cola Corporation is not paying me a cent for plugging their latest and greatest product like this.]

listmaniaaaaah

The buck stops right here, at this very dot. Once and for one hundred percent of all, you are able to determine if your taste is excellent or excruciating. Amazing, you say? Yes, it is. Hereby, I officially offer you the unbelievable opportunity of making your life BETTER. Grab it with both hands, and at least one foot! Raise yourself to loftier standards, join the impossibly elite; become a snob.

There are three unbreakable pillars that form the world we live in. These socratic pillars are the foundation of a wondrous organ I like to call culture – possibly my most favorite word at the moment. [Yes yes, I insist: most favorite.]
Now, you may have five fingers on your one hand; stick up three of them. The thumb: pillar of music. The index finger: pillar of movies. The finger you use to display vulgar contempt: pillar of books.

Uptil now, it was a futile battle, a random shooting, a lost cause. No more! We have wasted enough time on the shoddy and half-baked, I say. Under the column of PAGES [twitch your neck a couple of degrees to the right], you will find three new parts – THE BIG LISTS. Oh, big indeed. Huge, even. Universe-sized, perhaps?
I have worked studiously to bring them to you. Everything that is everything is in these professional lists. Use them wisely, and you will never again be left wanting.

Frames have been built. References have been established. You, kings and queens, have now been given the holy grail on a silver platter.

[Disclaimer: Taste is a non-measurable quantity; a free spirit. Let no one tell you what is hot or not; make up your own mind.]

mo money mo shade

National orgasm; it’s that time of year again, when the tax records go public, and the public gorge on juicy jealousy. Who’s the richest person in Finland? Who earns the best? Who pays the most taxes? What about your neighbour? Once again, I’m not near the top of any of those lists… not yet, anyway. Ha! Can’t keep a good man down!

Last week, I had a good chat with a buddy – who shall, ironically, remain anynomous – on this topic. Over a one-euro pint of cider, he fiercely argued that this procedure was bent, that no one has any right in knowing how much his family earns. I took the view of arguing that everyone has a right to know what everyone earns.

[Starting point: His dad makes a reasonably big sack of $$$ / I don’t have a dime in my pocket. On first sight, this seems to set the tone of our positions. Just to clarify, this is a false assumption – even if I made a billion bucks, I’d want openness. I’m not afraid of pettiness – if I was loaded I’d let the world know about, with megaphones, loudspeakers and amps…]

In short; I was adamant in stating that these lists must be public, since openness is the basis of any good democratic society. No, he didn’t agree. It’s a question of privacy, he thought. No no, I countered, it’s about freedom of speech – printed, in this case. But what about the moral aspect? Well, what about it? The peeping Tom aspect sickened him, and he muttered something about commies. I, on the other hand, felt that as much transparency as possible is the only way to keep an eye on the demography of a nation, that it works in the ways of checks and balances. To be able to analyze the development of society, an overview of income differences is vital.

A country is not a country club.

Your two cents?

les lolos

Sometimes I watch these 4D documentaries about rare and extraordinary circumstances. They usually concern freaky diseases, and mostly fill me with helpless disgust, prompting me to switch channel.
The same thing happened yesterday, as the grotesque monster boobs of Lolo Ferrari leaped at me from my 50″ tv screen. I yelped like a puppy, and shrank back in horror.

Man’s obsession with tits was never uglier. I am sure everyone knows the tragic Lolo Ferrari story; after all, she is in the Guinness Book Of Records as the woman with the world’s largest breasts… she underwent more than 20 breast operations… Ferrari, the car manufacturer, sued her for copyright infringement… she released a single called “Airbag Generation“… she was afraid of flying, because she thought her boobs would explode from cabin depressurization… her lips are almost as big as her tits… in 2000, she committed suicide/was murdered by her husband… well, you name it.

Sometimes, reality is a lot stranger than fiction… and here’s her x-ray to prove it. You may laugh hard now.
[In the proud name of research, I browsed through a lot of her “other” pictures… trust me, this x-ray is far less scary than her body in glossy flesh… and silicone.]

lolo__sxray.jpg

mosport weekend

On any Sunday, the racing people experience the orgasmic bliss of winning or the bitter disgust of losing. But come late autumn, on any Sunday both the wins & the defeats are even more dramatic and sensational. The one coming out on top will be king of the world, and the first loser will have to concede that a whole year was spent risking your life for nothing. It’s a cruel game…

…but Nicky from Kentucky can play it. Say hello to 2006 MotoGP champion Nicky Hayden, a man cool enough to ride with the number 69 on his bike; also a man fast enough to beat the ultimate god of roadracing, Valentino Rossi. What a year! I know I say that every year, but it’s just that every year of MotoGP has to be “what a year!”

And to Dani Pedrosa of Spain I will say only this: you were lucky this time, but keep ‘er steady next year. I don’t want you to become my next Alonso.
Done and done, MotoGP simply rules. Why is there not a global law in place to force people to watch it? So many of you would be in The Hague right now… HAHA!

The second part of mosport weekend is dedicated to babyface Mikko Hirvonen, who today, in Australia, became the first man in ages to win a WRC rally other than ol’ Grönholm or Loeb. Mikko is thus also the last in a very long line of Flying Finns packing rally wins. I hope he won’t be the last – and I hope it’s not his last.
At the same time, congrats to invincible monsieur Loeb, another well deserved championship crown. Respect, and ooo la la; that won’t be the last – but I do hope he has the good grace of “sharing” in the future.

Next one up on the WRC calender, NZ. Be there, or be …… [word with six letters, starting with s]!

Go For(d) it!

grand theft auto

This is about the culture of the future – here today. I’m speaking Playstationian, with a Grand Theft Auto dialect. Tell me if that last sentence did not make much sense to you? Ok, sorry. Let me start from the beginning.

First there was light, then there was electricity… and then video games. I climbed aboard on the bottom floor when Sony released a box of magic called Playstation. If you wanted to talk to me in 1997, you could find me in a flatmate’s room at St Georges Circus, London, playing the original Gran Turismo when I should have written sharp essays on blurry stages of European history.

[Pete, the Playstation owner and flat neighbour, was hospitable to the extreme, and never showed me the door, even though I beat the snot out of him on Turismo every single time. Pete was Birmingham-Indian, and had an Indian name none of us could pronounce – which is why we all called him “Pete”. He also had the worst Brummie accent you’ve ever heard… but his curries were great!
Anyway, university students from Pakistan to Portugal tried to take me at that racing game, Gran Turismo, but no one could. You have no idea the respect I bore at the Student Union bar… and the amount of free pints it got me…]

With such a splendid start to the new coming of video games, it is no wonder I have stayed with Playstation throughout the years. Here I still am, at 32, eagerly awaiting the Playstation 3 console. While waiting, though, there is always the good old Playstation 2, and Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories – which is the latest edition of absolute entertainment; the Grand Theft Auto series. Excuse my lengthy prelude…

but when your grandkids ask you what changed the world, you will have to mention Grand Theft Auto III.

Starting from GTA III, it was never the same, and all the better for it. Suddenly you could do everything; free roam, baby. Here was a game that had it all: endless ways of killing people brutally, superbly crafted plots of underworld stories, wonderfully entertaining handling of vehicles ranging from bicycle to jetpack, acidly funny radio stations complete with DJs, and culturally astute era-music, terrific sub-plots, celebrity voice-overs, smashing casting of all imaginable characters, hookers, hustlers, why, it was a movie that starred YOU… no, it was another dimension of LIFE – with little law and order, and absolutely no consequence… and you could reach it from the couch in your living room!

We have yet to see the sociological ramifications of GTA III… but it would be ill-adviced to underestimate them.

GTA III was followed by GTA:Vice City, which still remains my favorite – a Scarface/Miami Vice pastiche that completely nails the atmosphere of the 1980s; perfection seldom comes closer. After GTA:Vice City came GTA:San Andreas – bigger than ever before, a marvel of game programmer verve. It has to be played to be believed.
As a stopgap for Playstation 3, and to keep guys like me happy, the good people at Rockstar Games recently released GTA:Liberty City Stories on PS2.

Of course I bought it, a couple of weeks ago. More than thirty hours of late evening hardcore gaming later, and I have a 100% completion – as I have in EVERY other GTA, starting with GTA III. That takes a lot of obsessive determination, and a serious case of “playstation thumb“, I tell you.

[Now, before you think I’m a slacker and a nerd to boot, I have to say that I rarely play – it’s usually only the latest of Gran Turismo, or Grand Theft Auto. That’s hardly one console game a year; add to that, perhaps one PC game per year. But as far as wasting time goes, few ways are better. And none is better than Grand Theft Auto.]

The future of culture. Mm-hm. Protest all you like, but it is.

gta_chainsaw.jpg

gta_bike.jpg

gta_police.jpg

gta_mission.jpg
[Frames from GTA:Liberty City Stories – ign.com]