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My 20 favorite movie scenes

Oh cinema! The art that has given us so many hours of entertainment, the pleasure to feel emotions through the screen and cry, laugh and empathize with the characters!
These are my personal 20 favorite and most memorable movie scenes, in no particular ranking order, that are kept in my mind as unforgettable ones. Share in comments which ones are yours! Do you share any of these ones or what others are your personal favorite ones?

20. Final shooting in “Road to Perdition”

Tom Hank‘s performance, the amazing picture of the scene under the rain, Paul Newman’s final words… I get goosebumps every time I see this one:

19. Jesus can roll in “The Big Lebowski”

The man, the legend, the… Jesus! What a scene in slow motion from one of the most iconic John Turturro‘s character!

18. The chicken scene in “Schindlers List”

So many memorable scenes in this movie that is difficult to choose just one, but my pick will go to this one, where the brutality of war, the irony and the intelligence to survive are masterfully combined:

17. Something forgotten it is in your beer, in “Memento”

What a fabulous script and what a direction by Christopher Nolan, and what great performances by Guy Pierce and Carrie Ann-Moss! But be careful what you drink, buddy!

16. Omaha beach scene in “Saving Private Ryan”

Probably the most realistic, shocking and brutal war scene ever filmed in cinema history by the genius Spielberg:

15. Tears in the rain – “Blade Runner”

Ruger Hauer delivering one of the most iconic monologues in the history of cinema to Harrison Ford, you cannot ask much more than this…

14. The gang is united till the end in “Toy Story 3

There is no way I can see this scene without some tear escaping my eyes. A gang of animated toys showed us what unconditional friendship is about:

13. What a loving relationship is about in “Up”

We are not done with animation movies that shred a tear. This next one could go as the best ever scene made in any animation movie in history. What a mix of beautiness and sadness the masterminds of Pixar delivered at the start of “Up” movie:

12. The grief of Don Corleone in “The Godfather”

Marlon Brando‘s interpretation of Vito Corleone will go down the cinema history. Here you can see why, in this amazing scene of his grief from a lost killed son:

11. Pen scene in “Casino”

How can you be the smallest and at the same time the scariest guy in a room? Well, ask Danny DeVito about it and he will kindly explain it to you writing it carefully with a pen on you skin…

10. Shootout in “Miller’s Crossing”

We started our list with Tom Hank‘s handling the machine gun like a ghost of death, but has the song of death from a Thompson ever been displayed more beautifully as in this historical scene?

9. Bank robbery shootout in “Heat”

And if we have to remember another memorable scene of shootouts, here is this one from Heat, probably no shootout scene in cinema history has ever had the most realistic, defying and shocking sound as this one:

8. Laser sable fight in “The Phantom Menace”

As a die hard Star Wars fan, I could have completed the list with iconic moments from the saga, but here is my favorite one, something we had never seen before, 2 Jedi masters versus a Sith holding 2 sable swords… the choreography, the music, the epic of the encounter…

7. A final surprise in “Usual Suspects”

This one could very well be considered the most epic twist in the history of recent cinema. What a cherry on top of the cream for such an epic movie and such an epic cast!

6. Nobody puts Baby in the Corner in “Dirty Dancing”

Summer is gone, love seems lost… until Patrick Swayze enters the room and delivers one last epic dance. Brings you back to those times that were the times of your life…

5. The real William Munny shows up in “Unforgiven”

What a powerful performance by Clint Eastwood here. When the old killing machine wakes up on revenge of his old friend, they get to know whom they are messing around:

4. To read about life is not the same as living life in “Good Will Hunting”

I recently spent 10 days at hospital while my Dad was slowly abandoning this world, so it is difficult for me not to cry with this masterful speech by Robin Williams “…because the doctors could see in your eyes that the terms “visiting hours” don’t apply to you…” What a scene!

3. Balrog vs Gandalf in “Lord of the Rings”

Because we all need a friend like Gandalf when the most terrifying creature in Middle Earth decides to wipe us on a bridge. A scene that captures the essence of the book masterfully!

2. Opera to give hope in “Shawshank Redemption”

Shawshank Redemption is my favorite movie ever. A Masterpiece from start to finish. Here is my favorite scene from the movie, a little jewel full of defiance, beauty and hope:

1.Final Scene in “The last of the Mohicans”

This scene compresses to me what cinema is about. Impossible not to be touched by the display of emotions here: the tremendous and powerful music, the sacrifice, the fight, the love… These are minutes of pure CINEMA.

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Glasgow Elite Men Road Cycling World Championship 2023 – The best classic of the year?

2023 is a year that has given again outstanding performances in this “golden” age that we are lucky to experience nowadays: The victories of Van der Poel in Milan-San Remo or Paris Roubaix, Evenepoel‘s exhibitions in Liege-Bastogne-Liege or San Sebastian Classic, Pogacar epic win in Tour de Flandes and his epic battles with Vingegaard in Tour de France, Roglic winning in the last time trial the Giro de Italia against the combative old lion Geraint Thomas… and on and on.

But oh, what we were able to see in Glasgow a few days ago was, maybe, the best classic one single race of the year 2023 and one that will be in the memory of cycling fans for years to come (I only remember enjoying a World Championship so much many years ago, the WC in Colombia, with Olano, Indurain and Pantani in the podium after a grueling and super exciting mountain course).

We leave you here the video if you want to watch again this historical event, and we give you some of the analysis of the race:

  1. The course
    It was criticized by many fans and riders alike, but in the end you have to give to the organization that the course track was perfect for entertaining. With no long climbing, but with explosive obstacles disseminated in a very technical circuit with a lot of turns left and right, this race looked almost like a cyclocross race on asphalt. Positioning was the key if riders wanted to have a chance to win in the end, cause recovering positions was really really complicated.
  2. The riders’ attitude
    It is an old saying in professional cycling that the hard a day race is depends more on the riders than on the course itself. Here in Glasgow we saw fireworks from the favorites from… 150 kms to the finish line! Alaphilippe attacking, strong teams like Denmark or Italy trying to break hostilities from the first laps in the circuit, attacks from big names like Van der Poel, Evenepoel, Pogacar, Pedersen with 100 kilometers to go… it was a marvellous madness of a race in an age where so many times spectator has to wait to the last kilometers to see some action happening.
  3. Italy is always there
    They might not have always the strongest riders, although Trentin (sadly out cause of a crash) or Bettiol were serious contenders, but you cannot deny their compromise and their attitude as a team. They attacked when needed to attack, they worked great as a formation and Bettiol’s sneaky attack was just one lap away from giving him the victory.
    The same cannot be said of other teams like Spain, pretty much disappeared without options most of the race, or even the great favourites, Belgium itself, where the team seemed fractured most of the race between defending the interests of Wout van Aert and Evenepoel trying to win his second WC in a row.

    4. The big names do not disappoint

    Van der Poel: He has shown in 2023 that he is probably the strongers classic races rider in the world nowadays. He has learnt how not to waste too much energy through the race and improved tactically to the point that the spots where he launches the final attacks are perfect. And of course, all that backed up with the incredible explosive power that his legs are able to carry. He was the strongest rider of the day, and not even a crash in the final kilometers could deprive him of a well deserved victory

    Pogacar: If you like professional cycling, you have to like Tadej Pogacar. A man not afraid to compete and give everything both in 3 weeks races or in the most demanding classics of the year. To his disadvantage, he had to spend too much energy reacting to attacks way too far from the finish line, and in the last 2 laps he recognized that he was already suffering. But in any case, it is always a big show to see him race and attack. He does not leave anything left in his tank, and the bronze medal is a more than fair reward to his attitude and talent.

    Wout van Aert: Again another silver medal for his collection. And again the feeling for many fans that, even when Van Aert is one of the biggest cycling talents arousing in the last years, he is wasting too many good chances to achieve more remarkable victories year after year. In Paris Roubais was an unfortunate puncture at the end of the last pave section. Today he just lacked the legs to follow Van der Poel in his decisive attack. For many other riders, a silver would be a fantastic result, but for Van Aert, the bittersweet feeling of another great chance missed is there. We hope that some day we can see him wearing the rainbow jersey. His talent deserves it.

    Evenepoel: it is true that with such a technical track, Evenepoel did not have it easy to repeat victory in Glasgow. But from the favorites, his performance was certainly the most surprising. He got himself cut several times from the lead bunch due to bad positioning, then when it seemed like he did not have the legs, he performed a couple of strong attacks, and then again he got cut and gave up on pursuing… For much that he is one of the most talented riders out there, explosive, maybe the best time-trial specialist in the world, and a pleasure to see him attacking faraway, he should improve still a lot on his mental focus if he wants to be a consistent winners against the strongest opponents out there.
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Ho Chi Minh – Travel tips and hidden gems of Saigon

Sadly, during the last 3 years living in Singapore and Bangkok, I could not fulfill the dream of most expats in South East Asia: to travel around the region. Luckily, now that restrictions have eased up and traveling has reignited (although flight prices are in general more outrageously higher than what they used to be in the pre Covid era), it was time for my first visit to Vietnam. Destination: Ho Chi Minh, a pearl to discover the essence of Saigon.

It is advisable that depending on your nationality, you check if there is the need to apply for a visa before your flight. Vietnam allows visa free entry to some nationalities and some others not. In my particular case, being Spaniard, we are allowed a stay of no longer than 15 days for tourism with no need of applying and paying for any special visa.

Preparations for the trip

For flights, I tend to use Skycanner search engine and for hotels, Hotels in Saigon go in a wide array of price ranges, but you can get a nice one with a good location relatively cheap if you pay attention. I always like reading the reviews of previous users, especially filtering by the recent ones, to have a clear idea of the place I am getting into.

My choice of stay was Singita Saigon Boutique Hotel, located in district 1. Nothing luxurious but clean and tidy, with friendly hotel staff and in a very easy location that allowed me to go walking to many of the sightseeing main spots quite easily. Besides, on my last day, as my flight back to Bangkok was late in the evening, paying a small extra fee, they allowed me to stay until the evening in the hotel room. Even if you do not want to do that, they still offer the chance to take a shower when you want to refresh before going to the airport, so extra kudos for the kindness to them!

Arriving in the city

The international airport of Tan Son Nhat is not far from the city center. Expect some traffic, but in any case, if your place of stay is located in any of the central districts, you should arrive at your destination in 30 minutes or less.

I pre booked a taxi so they would pick me up more comfortably as my arrival time was a bit late in the evening, but if you are tight on budget, you can also order a Grab Taxi from the airport and it will be a cheaper option. In general, I advise you to install Grab app. as you can easily use it in many cities in South East Asia (although it is true that in Bangkok the prices have been raising in the last year). Still, in Ho Chi Minh, most of my rides, when a destination was far away to walk to, were costing 5 euro or less. Quite a bargain, especially if you share the cost with travel partners.

I also recommend doing a bit of investigation when you arrive in the new city and have some spots listed that you want to visit during the next few days. I stayed a total of 4 days in Ho Chi Min, and had more than enough time to see the main highlighted spots that I wanted to see.

Things to see:

  • Cafes

If you are a coffee lover, you are really gonna love Saigon. There are so many cafes and restaurants around, and the Vietnamese there really seem to love the coffee culture, always accompanied by delicious cakes and snacks. When I arrive in a new city, I love walking around and then resting and having a good coffee when I feel a bit tired after a long stroll. The city center is perfect for this. Some nice places I visited during my stay that I recommend:

La Viet Coffee Saigon

Charming cafe with free wifi and nice sandwiches. I visited there on my way to Xa Loi Temple and enjoyed sitting on its terrace. Nice variety of cold and hot coffees, and you could see a big crowd of IT nomads around there.

Paris Baguette

Big cafe with a nice cozy terrace on the upper floor. Big selection of bakery to enjoy while having your caffeine dose.

  • Churches

Cha Tam Church

Beautiful yellow church. When I visited it was very quiet so pretty much entering inside, I had all the church for myself. Worthy to see

Tao Dinh Church

Absolutely beautiful pink colored church. The bad side is that it was closed when I tried to visit, so my only chance was to snap a few pictures from outside.

Notre-Dame de Saigon Cathedral

Nice to walk around, but currently it was undergoing renovations so it did not look so spectacular from outside. In any case, nice to visit as then you can also see nearby the bookshops street and the old Post Office

  • Temples

Ten thousand Buddha Pagoda

One of the hidden gems in the city and I absolutely loved visiting it here. When you face the building, it looks almost like a normal housing building, but when you enter, the more you climb the stairs, the nicer the temple looks, with a gorgeous last floor that could serve as a background for a videogame scene. Do not miss this one!

Giac Lam Buddhist temple

Apart from the beautiful main pagoda, the complex allows you to visit different temples with a lot of charm and nice statues. Another must see if you visit Saigon!

  • Museums

War Remnants Museum

It displays outside its main building a nice collection of war machines from the Vietnam War era: planes, tanks, motorboats. Inside the exhibitions are really interesting, but beware that they are not for sensitive stomachs, many of the photos displaying death, torture and the cruelty of the war can cause a deep impression in your mind. And obviously, the whole tone of the museum is clearly very Anti American. Very interesting to see, but think if you are ready mentally for the content displayed inside, cause it can sour your day.

Ho Chih Minh City Museum

Very interesting displays about the city history inside, and you also have a small collection of war machines in the gardens outside. It seems to be a favorite place for the young local ladies to snap millions of photos and selfies of themselves, which can be slightly annoying when you want to see the exhibitions in peace, but still recommended and easy to access in the city center.

Reunification Palace

I put this one in the Museum category as it is pretty much the function that remains nowadays of the old Government Palace. Very picturesque garden outside, with some old war tanks displayed in the gardens, and interesting halls inside.

Shopping souvenirs

You can buy a lot of small souvenirs around for a decent price, bargaining a bit is recommended as they will try to give you the tourist price. I especially liked buying some presents at the Saigon Kitch shop. It had many interesting items mixing the Vietnamese flavor with Western popular culture characters.

Nightlife and Dating

I really did not go out so much during the night, as my goal was more to visit the city during the daytime. However I discovered a very cool cocktail bar with a very friendly waiter and delicious cocktails that I consider another hidden gem in the city:

Nightcap Saigon – Cocktail Bar

If you are a single male looking for some dating and female company, be aware of your surroundings. Many girls look gorgeous, but a big majority will be freelancers trying to get your money. The same applies if you use dating apps like Tinder, a lot of freelancers or girls who have some “professional” intentions like serving you as tourist guide. So pay attention and filter very well before meeting anybody.

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When Finns exceptionally scream

Defining Finns as maybe the most socially awkward society in Europe would certainly be not very far from reality. Known for their introverted and shy behavior, one also has to love them after time spent among them when discovering their honesty, transparency and straightforwardness.

Although in many situations, being surrounded by Finns could resemble the attendance to a funeral due to the absolute silence around, legend says that people heard Finns screaming in exceptional situations such as:

1. When someone leaves the sauna door open.
2. When Finland wins the Hockey World Championship.
3. When Finland loses against Sweden in the Hockey World Championship.
4.When reindeers block the road
5.When at any concert of any band, someone asks to play “Paranoid” (including even in a Black Sabbath concert)
6.When you are the co-pilot of a rally car and a stone goes up your ass.
7.At a night bus at 4:00 a.m. returning home from a bar.
8.Belonging to the Choir of Screaming Men of Oulu.

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R.I.P. David Bowie

Today one of the greatest artists of the last century, David Bowie, passed away at the age of 69.

I had the luck to see him for first and last time performing live during the year 2004 at Provinssirock festival in Finland. A very fun festival with great environment. Being 24 years old, as you can imagine, the fun was just equally enjoying the music and also the booze and pretty girls around. It was a rainy weekend, but when Bowie appeared on stage the sun appeared on the horizont.

Lizard Dusk

I was not even a huge David Bowie fan at that time, knew a few of his famous songs, but I was at that point more into hard rock and epic heavy metal. However, Bowie not only captivated me, but the whole audience. His charisma on stage was unbelievable, joking with the audience, moving like the star he was, making everybody have a great time putting the cherry on top of the cake to a superb weekend of music. I can certainly say after many years, many concerts and many artists checked live after that night, that Bowie was probably the artist that most unexpectedly blew my mind when I saw him first time live.

Few days after that concert Bowie’s health got worse and he never stepped on stage again, although recently he had released a new album. However, his music and his memories will remain among us. In the years to come, I will always remember with a smile on my face that I was there, I saw the man with the million faces on stage making the audience fall in love. And that piece of memory will remain. Rest in piece Ziggy!

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“Choke”, probably the best documentary on MMA ever made

Nowadays Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is a well recognized sport that provokes admirationa nd moves a good amount of money and fans around the world. Right at my office we can have a discussion with my co-workers about Ronda Rousey´s defeat or Emelianenko coming back from retirement like if we would be talking about the latest football match. UFC is a big organization in USA, you can see reality shows in TV channels where future fighters are getting prepared to go pro, the fighters are multidisciplinary athletes that can both perform great standing up, kicking, punching or going to the ground and working on submission techniques…

But if we take a look back not so many years ago, mixed martial arts were pretty much unknown to the great sports public and most of people who had heard about it would consider it a brutal activity done by some crazy violent people. The Gracie family was one of the pioneers to expand MMA to the big audience, and at the same time promote their Gracie Brazilian Jiu Jitsu style, and Rickson Gracie was the jewel of the crown for the family, never officially defeated in any fight before.

What “Choke”, a documentary shot during a Vale Tudo fighting tournament in Japan in 1995 and released in 1999, shows is a period where mixed martial arts was growing and in development, where the fighters were still not so well rounded in multiple disciplines but were more defending their different styles of fighting and where you could see a more brutal way of fighting than nowadays, where the rules are much more measured. At that time, pretty much everything except of hitting the genitals of the opponent would be allowed between fighters.

“Choke” counts with a wide array of memorable moments for the spectator. Apart from the usual and a bit boring ranting from Gracie family members always self promoting their style, you see the real Rickson gracie backstage between fights. The documentary revolves about his figure: masculine, handsome, dominant. But he also shows that outside that facade, he is also like the rest of the fighter human, nevous before a fight, sometimes humble, sometimes big-mouthed.

As some mythical scenes and moments to remember we can see Rickson godalike enjoying the energy of the freezing water under a cascade in a Japanese river, his umbelievable training and movement of his abdominal muscles like they would not belong to his body (maybe you remember to have watched exactly the same if you saw “The Hulk” movie with Edward Norton training with Rickson in Brazil), the recognition in front of the camera of holding the rule not to have sex with his wife 2 weeks prior a fight, the moment at the fighting venue when he surprises his brothers telling he literally needs to take a crap seconds before having to go to the arena to fight, Rickson throwing Yamamoto during his first fight out of the ring noticeably pissed off at him for holding on the ropes all the time, his cat flip on the air during his fight with Kimura (his son Rockson, sadly deceased years after this documentary on a motorbike accident, commenting in the dressng room that he saw him flying like Superman) the moment before the final of the the fight when suddenly he says he wants next time to get a belt as a champion instead of a trophy…

Choke Rickson Gracie

The show however gets partially stolen from Rickson by the other finalist of the fighting tournament, the small but brave Japanese Yuki Nakai. A small wrestling specialist that subsequently will lose the vision in one eye due to his fight with Gerard Geordeau (who will pass to the history as one of the dirtiest MMA fighters ever stepping onto a ring) who soccer kicked him on the head and gouged on his right eye. Nakai shows a total lack of concert about his own health, and as a true samurai, challenges guys double his size. He also became a legend by hiding for years that this tournament provoked him to be blind in one eye for the rest of his life just to protect the reputation of mixed martial arts. On favour of Rickson Gracie, we have to say that he avoided as much as possible punching Nakai on the face and moved the fight just to a grappling match.

The documentary is not the best technically shot, neither has the best structure or dialogues. But nowadays you cannot deny is an instant classic to understand the roots of MMA sport. And the best is that is fully available for free in Youtube to watch. Enjoy:

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Huominen on Huomenna. Finnish music MTV style…

Not sure what I find more distorted in this video, if the portray of Finland as being in a beach in Brazil or Spain with drunk Finn brainless wannabe cool teenages on a spring break… or Anna Abreu showing boobies…

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Kids Rock in Finland… if they have the money to pay for it

There is a series of concerts aimed at Finnish kids called KidsRock! that is touring around the biggest cities of the country, ending in the capital the 2 of December with artists that the younger (and not so younger) of the families get crazy about such as Antti Tuisku, Anna Abreu or Anna Puu.

A great initiative, until I checked the list of prices and realized that the tickets for children below 15 years old were 19 euro. Not really the most affordable price for kids who supposedly do not have any source of income yet apart from asking money from their parents, isn´t it?

Winnie goes to jail

So Finland seems to love that their children love rock…as far as they pay. Not a good example? Check then this recent case of a 9 years old girl whose house was visited by the Finnish police because she downloaded some songs from her favorite singer Chisu (a singer I also love too, by the way).


The mental image of a big Finnish policeman leaving the house carrying the Winnieh the Pooh laptop seems more proper of the sick imagination of a drunk stand up comedian than of the duties that the officers in charge of protecting law and order should be performing in Finland. Not the first case when you see police resources wasted. Check in the streets if you are some day lucky some public demonstration with 20 pacific demonstrators and 50 policemen sorrounding them, or how it seems to be needed 100 officers located in a space of 50 square metres to check in customs area the cars that come from Tallinn or make alcohol tests to drivers at the weekends… Meanwhile this is happening, you could perfectly walk outside some bar areas at night sorrounded by agressive drunkards with no police office in sight…

Let the children enjoy their music in peace… and please, also cheaply. And let´s encourage the police to do their job in a meaningful way that matters, not just chasing shadows. If I would be a father, I `d be kind of scared to let my child go to Kaapelitehdas concert in December in case the police decides to raid the place…

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Pedro Delgado – the romantic ideal of the everyday Spanish hero

I am a great fan of cyclist competitions since I was a little child, basically since I have memory I remember following on TV the heroic acts of the Spanish competitors in the hot summer evenings during Tour de France competition.

This evening there was a day in cyclist history to be remembered, a great victory by the Spanish champion Alberto Contador who threw an attack like in the good old times, many kilometers away from the final line, over his also Spanish opponent “Purito” Rodriguez. A very emotional victory for Contador just after his comeback to the big competition (he was involved in a very unclear case of doping too complicated to explain here). And also not forgetting the loser, “Purito” behaving like a gentleman and a true sportsman in a very bitter day.

Pedro Delgado

One of the commentators in the Spanish national TV channel is another great ex-champion, actually the one I grew up following to: Pedro Delgado, nicknamed “Perico” for the whole Spanish nation during the 80s and beginning of the 90s.

Delgado could symbolize very well the Spanish nation. A short average looking guy, friendly always, with great skills to climb but also eager to do crazy amazing unexpected attacks and with a touch of drama and passion revolving around all his actions and circumstances on the road and outside the road, able to lose time in the most stupid way arriving himself late to the beginning of the first stage of Tour de France one year later he would have won, that being among one of his most famous anecdotes.

I had the pleasure to meet and interview “Perico” more than 10 years ago, when I was just a journalist student in Madrid. They proposed us to try to interview to whoever person or idol we would have, and I did not hesitate to contact him. We met and chatted in a restaurant near his home in Segovia, a town not far from Madrid where he is still a legend (actually he remains as one of the most beloved sportsman in Spain).

Not every day one can meet his idol face to face, and I was a bit nervous. But when Delgado appeared on his bike at the door of his restaurant and started to joke about how hard was to climb that mountain, I instantly felt that the image of great guy he exhales on TV was actually how he really is. We talked for almost 2 hours about his career while the owner of the restaurant could not believe that “Perico” was just there, asking us to take some photographs altogether at the end of the interview, and of course inviting us for free to all the drinks and food… interviewing a legend has its little privileges…

George Orwell used to account in his memories of the Spanish Civil War how the Spaniards were horrible about planning war, being on time, taking discipline… but how they were so good about making a visitor feel welcome and sharing everything they had and enjoying the little things of life to the fullest.

Now it seems that internationally there is talk about Spain only in a negative side due to the economical crisis (and yeah, our Mediterranean temper seems to affect us negatively in trying always to cheat the system and break the rules), but I would also like to pinpoint that, similar to these amazing cyclists, the Spanish every day men and women, those anonymous heroes that try to make the ends reach with microscopic salaries and huge loans, are also full of joy, a romantic touch of craziness and stubbornness in lost causes and a philosophy of not taking life too seriously and sometimes making fun of everything themselves. As another great writer, William Shakespeare, said “All the world is a stage, and all the men and women merely players”.

Pedro Delgado. Tour de France 1988

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Stories of the backstage. Press passes are not candies.

From time to time, there is always some friend who knows that I work as editor and freelance journalist and I have the good luck to cover some great gigs and festivals, mainly in Finland, who asks me the same question: “Hey, and could you get me also a free press ticket?”

They tend to forget that press passes are not delivered like candies. Usually you (still) need to work as a journalist. You need to have arranged interviews or reviews of the events, and deliver the content once you assisted. Often you miss the best concerts in the festival while you are making your interviews in the backstage, far from where the action is happening, and for a person having a small publication like I have; many times even the editor in chief will end up with empty hands. Organization can have a limited number of press tickets, the artists themselves decide to give only to the big media, or simply they do not trust on you if they do not know you and you think you are just another of the millions of bloggers around.

Press passes

So no, press passes are not easy to get, they are not just a VIP free invitation delivered to your group of friends. Only a few times you can have the luck to count with a photographer to cover a concert with you, which on the other hand is nice if you go alone to a gig, because otherwise tends to be boring if you do not know anybody around and you are just waiting for your turn to make the interview.

So what can people expect in that mystified media area in the festivals of Finland, behind the fence, where only a few humans can have access under the gaze of the security guys? Well, most of the times… nothing special. Usually the journalist has to pay for the drinks at exactly the same price than outside the media area. Finland is a small country, so people who work in the media industry usually know each other and assist to the same concerts, clubs and parties. So most probably they will have a good time getting drunk together and remembering past battles and anecdotes while you sip your drink in a corner and from time to time they look at you wondering who the hell that foreigner is. On the other hand, if you have friends around, it can be fun. A few advantages is that usually you do not have to wait for long queues at the portable toilets and maybe you can order a drink faster than in the bar outside where the rest of the people queues for eternal minutes. Also if you are lucky, sometimes you can get some free merchandise like a free CD from some band performing.

And no, do not get mistaken again. The press pass that allows you to the media area is not the same than having an all area access pass. So you are not going to be mingling much with the artists, unless that they want to go out and drink with some friends who happen to be journalists or marketing people from their record company.

So as you see, on the other side of the fence, there is not so much glamour as you could expect ;not many wild stories of wild sex with groupies, drugs and tones of booze. That does not mean that sometimes cannot be fun. Artists are usually bored backstage before or after their concerts, so it has happened a few times than after the interview we would enjoy a great conversation and drinks together. I remember having quite too many drinks with the guys of Black Lips long time ago at Provinssirock, or how friendly and gentle Ginger (the leader of The Wildhearts and nowadays part of Michael Monroe´s band) was at the backstage at Rabarock in Estonia as well as how enjoyable was to talk to the Portuguese Moonspell during their visit to Tuska festival in Helsinki some years ago, or how I continued the night partying with the guys of Lovex after their gig in Tammerfest, especially with his great bass player Jason.

But still no, usually if you want crazy stories about rock bands and backstages, you`d better have to read some Neil Strauss´s books to find them. And no, I still will not get a free press pass for you!

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Vincent Chase vs. Hank Moody

Well, obviously in the last couple of years, TV series have gained a lot of quality, popularity and budget (thanks in great part to the appearance of HBO channel). While when I was a child, the humor on the TV series was more related to theatrical situations, nowadays it is raw, sexy and closer to a Hollywood movie than any other thing.

Relationships and sex have a key role in some of the most successful series of the last years. Is there any young woman who does not list Sex and the City among her favorite TV series in any social network lately? Women and series for women have gained more and more space in the schedule of the big major channels, with the major companies wisely realizing that they are probably the most powerful sector at home (who controls the remote controller, controls the world indoors).

Adrian Grenier

However, because I cannot deny I am a man, I prefer to watch more “masculine” series (not meaning that those series are just for men and women, but certainly they have different target audiences in the producer’s minds). The ones that lately have caught my attention are Californication and Entourage.
I am not going to explain here the plot of every one of those, if you don´t know them, because you can easily check them out in Internet. But among other things, both series share a couple of features: they are full of beautiful women, and they both have characters that seem to get more pussy than George Clooney and Brad Pitt together: Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) and Hank Moody (David Duchovny).

Honestly, although I do not complain about the abundant beautiful female presence in both series, it is not one of the main reasons I like them (although obviously I neither complain). I like series with good script, humor and a lot of winks and references to music and cinema; some things that the scriptwriters there had been able to create wonderfully, apart from choosing a great cast. Some of the secondary actors in Entourage like Kevin Dillon or Jeremy Piven are just awesome.

However, although both main characters, Chase and Moody, are always surrounded by beautiful women, there are quite a few differences between both of them. I feel like Moody could be like an older brother or a young cousin that you know it will be fun to go out with to a crazy trip, party or holiday. Even if he naturally attracts women, he is intelligent enough to make everybody have a good time, and apart from the good looks, he always has a witty comment and sarcasm. He does not need to get laid, but basically that makes him get laid.

David Duchovny

However, Chase is the typical pretty boy who has not read more than 10 books in his life, but has been favored by the gods having great looks and a puppy gaze that uses to “seduce”. Well, he basically does not need to seduce, women just throw themselves at him, and he just needs not to fuck the situation up keeping quiet. It is true that he is caring with his friends and not always shelfish, but he has those strange changes of moods proper of stars that sometimes do not live in the real world. While Moody would become a great experienced partner to hang around, Chase would be the typical case of the “pretty boy” of the gang of friends who would end up making out in the back door with the girl you had been dreaming about all night. But he is so charming that you would forgive him next morning.

Which one do you prefer as a comrade, partner in crime or potential lover, Moody or Chase?

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Game of Thrones – Will George R.R. Martin finish the saga of Song of Ice & Fire?

The first season of the TV series Game of Thrones is over. Yes, I confess, I am also a fan. I was already a fan of the books before the series started, so as many others, I was expecting it with joy and fear. And the result, I must say, has been superb! Congratulations to HBO, because it was not an easy task to comprise the first book in just 10 hours (10 chapters of 1 hour), and they did an amazing job with a great script, decoration and cast.

Of course, there will be always fans that won´t be totally happy with everything. Some complained that the werewolves were not much shown, others that there were important scenes cut, etc. I think that all in all, you cannot ask for much more in a TV adaptation of such a twisted saga of books. The cast was mostly nailed (maybe I am not totally satisfied with Catelyn Stark, but well…) and the extra scenes added that did not appear in the book, such as the fight between Jamie and Edward Stark, did really give some extra value there. Besides, the intro is one of the best I have ever seen in cinematographic history, and the soundtrack really gets you hooked, I already have the intro song as ringtone in my mobile phone ;)


Now the sad part is that we will have to wait for another year for the second season, that it is reported to being shot in Ireland this summer. The task becomes bigger and bigger, the plot in the books gets more diversified, with more characters added, more magic, more important situations that are keyword to understand for what is coming next… Will HBO be able to pull the rabbit out of the hat again? It is a difficult question, taking into account that more special effects will be needed. And even more important, how would it develop in the series, as in the 4th and 5th book, they narrate the story of only half of the characters? Will the fans have to wait one year for example if this reaches season 4 to see later what Tyrion is up to?

Questions with no answers yet, for the moment we will have to pray that at least the series continue offering the same level of quality. And if somebody can do it, those are the guys of HBO, who by the way also deployed a super official site for the series, sometimes even offering the chapters to see fully for free there.
I had the chance to interview the author of the books, George R.R. Martin, a couple of summers ago, during his visit to Tallinn. And I have to say I have a bittersweet memory of the encounter. First, he held a meeting with the fans, and was all sympathy and jokes. Somebody asked about the possibility of he not finishing the saga, and he just joked that he was keeping at a safe distance of the buses. But when I repeated politely the question in the interview, he was quite cold about it. And let´s be honest, it is the question that everybody is wondering about. We wish George a long happy life, but he is not a child anymore, and the last book had continuous delays. My interview took place in summer 2009, and he said that the new 5th book, A Dance with Dragons, would be released that September. Well, it has been released just some weeks ago, 2 years after he announced that. And magically, it happens to be released at the same time that the TV series first season is over.

Was the book ready for 1 or 2 years, and they preferred to have the marketing strategy of making the fans wait, to take more advantage for the sales of the heat of the TV series? It looks like, which was not very polite and considered for the fans that had been years waiting for an update in the saga.

George R.R. Martin in Tallinn

Martin also dedicated himself in the middle of the interview to sign books that were on the table, which I do not consider a very polite gesture towards the interviewer. He has been journalist himself, so should have a better notion about these things. And the cherry on top of the cream came when at the end of the interview, his wife came very angrily to tell me she had not liked the question about his future and the possibility that he would not finish the saga, and I should erase it from the interview. Martin was a few meters away, and he did not open his mouth to try to smooth the situation.

Was it not polite to ask him? Well, it is what all the fans are wondering about, and I only asked if he had any other author in mind that he would like to continue his saga if for any reason he could not finish it (does it ring a bell the unfortunate death of Robert Jordan and his amazing Wheel of Time saga?). It shocked me that they showed their best friendly face to the fans who asked the same things, and then with me, a journalist from a small media (who is basically a fan), they were so annoyed and not totally polite. Reality is the way it is, if it takes 3-4 years for him to release a new book, and there are still at least 2 to be written, what would happen when the TV series, that it is broadcasted 1 season per book, reaches the stage where the last book was published?

Good news could be that while the release of the fifth book was procrastinated, maybe Martin was already advancing the work for the 6th book. But probably nobody knows except of himself and his publicists.

All in all, I think that a fantasy and science fiction writer like him owes respect and seriousness in his work to the fans, who are the ones that made him famous and gave him money. So maybe instead of embarking in long tours around the world to have a full stomach eating well and get bathed by the adoration of masses, and assisting HBO with the series, he should do what he can do best as a one of the greatest fiction writers nowadays: to sit and write and end the saga. Millions of fans are craving for it, and they have been waiting already too long.

Game of Thrones – Trailer

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Ostrich running free in the city centre of Tartu (Estonia)

And when you thought that drunkards, skin heads, crazy students crossing the bridge and hot girls in mini skirts were the only thing to see in Tartu…

Ostrich in the city centre of Tartu

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Riot On – A must see Finnish documentary!!!

Since long time ago I wanted to post an article about one of my favorite Finnish productions ever made, the documentary Riot On! (2004).

I would reccommend Riot On! for many reasons. It is not only because it is a Finnish documentary and easy to follow because most of the lenght is spoken in English language, but because it is probably one of the funniest and best edited that I have ever seen in my life.

Riot On!

Besides, it talks about IT and mobile industry in Finland, where I work. Being honest, probably 95% of the foreign population in Finland came here for studies or due to a partner being Finnish, and many of those 95% end up working, even if it was not their pure background as it is my case, in IT industry, because among other reasons, there are not many other chances for foreigners in Finland, as most of the expatriated who have lived here for a few years know very well.

But although it will make the experience more enjoyable if you have lived in Finland for a few years and you have worked or currently work in an IT company, it is a documentary that can be seen by everybody, and it is almost impossible that will not provoke you a few laughs.

Mixing reality with fiction, the story of this Finnish company that went to the top and burnt the money it is a tragicomical example of people who were at the right place, but not at the right time. The founders of Riot On! were pioneers at many levels, and although their way of handling business was crazy, sometimes you can see that the thin line between being a genius or being a loser us… very thin!

The rythm is amazing, you do not feel bored during the interviews, due to the funny anecdotes and the catchy characters, especially the CEO Jann Wellmann who exhales real charisma.

As I said, you cannot take seriously 100% of what it is narrated there, because the same people behind Riot On! are the ones directing the documentary. Take it more like an exercise where little doses of fiction ornate the reality, because Riot On! really existed, and the core of the story really happened (unfortunately, we have not been able to locate any copy of the spicy DVD that supposedly was recorded at some crazy mixed sauna parties as it is stated there…).

Riot On!

Riot On!, although taken to the extreme, gives a good example of how the Finnish society is. People who look very serious at the office space can be passing out on the floor a few hours later after a crazy sauna party, and people who seem the most serious in the universe can turn doing some amazing behaviors… As I said, working myself in IT for a few years, I know that once from the inside, you see that not everybody is so hard worker and responsible as it seems for the outer world. That your boss is dissappeared for a whole day with no explanation is nothing uncommon in Finnish offices, for just putting a small example, and that happens when people are not calling sick leave days to fight the hangover after a previous night with too much booze in the mix…

On the other hand, Finns have a special talent to connect with the needs of the people in the digital era. If nowadays is true that Nokia is not going through their best time, take a look at Angry Birds, the most popular mobile phone game created by a company called Rovio in… yeah, you guessed right, Finland!

If you like good and funny documentarios, Riot On! is for you. And if you have some connection with Finland and its strong IT industry, this is definitely something you cannot miss!

Riot On! – Trailer

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A walk in Helsinki – Photo series 2