Friday, 20 December 2013

House Rules and Pestilence

Greetings from the land of Santa,


(If you just thought "she's on the North Pole?!", you're banned from my blog.) I arrived yesterday and now have my own little studio flat at my grandmother's old people's home. A few things to note when you live in an old people's home:

1. Real candles are not allowed. Or fire of any sort. Therefore, LED lights are the shizzle. And so are bearded Santas made by nephews. I met up with said nephew, nephew number 2 and my sister in law for some coffee and had a nice old time. My younger nephew has now decided my name is Vararikken. Why not, I say?

2. Tannoy scare. At 9.15am a chirpy lady wishes you good morning and lists the activities for the day: Chair work out, children's choir, bake sale and movie night at 5pm. I have yet to find the off button ...

3. Shower chair. I already mentioned this on FB, but hey, it's worth repeating. Who doesn't want a fold out chair in the shower for those long karaoke sessions? (Seriously, some hair treatments are supposed to sit in your hair for 5 minutes or more, and then a chair is more than appropriate.)

I'm sure there are more things to note, but I'll save them for later. For those of you who have asked I'll just add no, there's no snow in Helsinki right now. People are talking about a Black Christmas/Svart Jul/Musta Joulu. It sounds like Christmas with a side order of pestilence, but it just means the ground in black, and so is everything else. Quick, more LED lights!

Have a great weekend!
Cheers

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Vintage Cookies

It's been a hectic few months and when time runs out you just have to cut a few corners, aka use the left over ginger bread cookie dough you made for last Christmas. Don't worry, it's been in the freezer all year so it should be okay ... I think. They went in the oven after all.

Like last year my flatmates helped me decorate the cookies and the designs are if not traditional, at least creative. It's one of the Christmas preparations I really enjoy (and those of you who read this blog know I do like me some Christmas).
A dough gets better with age, right?
Cookies!
No comment ...
My flatmate had been given Hello Kitty cookie cutters ...
It's the shape of Santa, not a parrot!! Why doesn't anyone listen ...
I did warn my flatmates that I take no responsibility for potential festive food poisoning, but so far we're all feeling okay. The decorations however, might offend someone's esthetic eye. I take no responsibility for that either.

And since my blog finally decided to find my web series episode on Youtube (so far, it's been persona non grata) I'm posting that too. Because in the end, it's all the same; awkward, learning while doing, "oh god what have I done?", better luck next time mess. And mess can be a good thing .. (Said the slightly OCD, control freak who runs this blog.)



Cheers!

Monday, 2 December 2013

A labour of love

It's up, it's running, the thing I've been banging on about for the past few months is now online for everyone to see.
What is going on? Episode 7, Awkward Persuasion.
It's been a lot of fun, the planning, the writing, the filming. And most of all, the collaboration with some really great people. Writing can be a lonely business, so meeting up with friends who share your interests is always much appreciated. 

Our Youtube channel sports 7 episodes of The Christmas Party, each one written and directed by a different person. Mine is episode 7, Awkward Persuasion, the final episode of the series. And I also tried my hands at some acting in episode 5, The Back-Up. Do have a look ...
For us, the main purpose of the series was to make something from beginning to end that we could learn from and then share. Looking back, would I do some things differently? Probably. Would I like to change something? Yes, I would. Does that mean it's been useful? I definitely think so! 

It may be imperfect at times, but we're still very proud of our little web series and would love it if you checked it out. It's all here:  http://www.youtube.com/user/xmaspartyproductions

Thank you and have a great week!
Cheers

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

This is what you call me



Yesterday I turned 29, I’ve now embarked on the last year of a decade!  I had a really nice day, with lots of lovely people wishing me a happy birthday and a little birthday dinner with friends who surprised me with banners and balloons and a cake with proper candles on it. Excitement! I hadn’t blown out birthday candles since Hunter Valley, Australia, when my fab German buddies threw me a delicious 25th birthday breakfast.
I got two birthday cards featuring cats. My friends claim it's not because I'm turning into an old crazy spinster cat lady, they're just IN, but I'm not so sure. 
Now! To the point. Ever since I moved to London I’ve been asked what people call me. Madicken, because that’s my name?
  But Madicken is a bit tricky. It works better now that I’ve Anglofied the pronunciation a little, but it's still not enough, people want a nickname. I’ve never had a proper nickname. My mum would often call me Micki, but that’s about it.

Anywho, being a former academic, I decided to utilize yesterday’s list of birthday greetings for some quantitative research. What better way to figure out what people from around the world call me? I’ve posted the results below. Most common first and so on …
  1. Madicken
  2. Mads
  3. Mad
  4. Maddie
  5. Madi
  6. Maddy
  7. Made
  8. Madsilainen
  9. Baby Face
  10. Lil lady
  11. Lover Girl
Clearly there are a few variations, and if you feel like any of these fit, feel free to use them. We don't all have to agree and I’m not easily offended. Other suggestions are also welcome. As long as we can avoid "That girl" and "You there" I'm happy. 

So, my first post in the final year of my 20s. Is this when greatness begins? :P

Cheers! 

Sunday, 17 November 2013

How to break a biker's heart

I was going up to my hotel room when three biker type dudes joined me in the lift. They had long hair, massive tattoos and dusty leather jackets. You shouldn't judge, I know, but if you met them at night you would duck for cover.

‘What floor are you on?
‘Five,’ I said.
‘So are we!’
Great.
They spoke Polish to each other until one of them turned to me.
‘Do you speak Polish?’ he asked in Polish.
‘No,’ I answered, having picked up the word Polish.
‘So you do!’
  The lift came to a stop and I was the first to get out.
  ‘Can we come with you?’
  ‘Nope.’
   I turned a corner.
  ‘You have broken my heart!’
  I doubt it.   
  ‘Sorry!’

Now I'm sure they weren't bad guys, just up for bit of banter, but I still made certain to double lock. I wasn't up for company ...

Final night in Helsinki and tomorrow I'm back in London. Unless I've joined a biker gang ...

Cheers!






Saturday, 16 November 2013

Poster!

Greetings from a mild Finland! I'm taking a weekend break from London to see family and friends, but I still wanted to share what arrived in my email inbox today; the "poster" for my episode of The Christmas Party. Big thanks to fellow series writer Nikki for putting it together!  

I have a poster. I'm eating Finnish chocolate. Life is good. :)

Cheers!

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Mad sprints, green jumpers and a dash of acting

Good morning!

I wanted to be the first to tell you that THE CHRISTMAS PARTY Youtube channel now is up and running and already contains some fun behind the scenes material. Have a look! The actual episodes are only a few weeks away. We've filmed it all so now it's on to post-production!

The latest addition is a video diary from the filming of episode 5 "The Back-Up". Yours truly moved form behind the camera to in front of it and did her best as an actor. The 2,5 kilometer sprint just before wasn't a great help, but what could I do when I'd forgotten Harry's pivotal green Christmas jumper at home. Oh well, it all adds to the drama!

Have a lovely day and see you soon!
Cheers

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Lights ... Camera ...

Good evening!

A little filming update. After a lot of planning and a bit of nerves, my episode of The Christmas Party was shot this Thursday evening. We had three hours to get everything done, and it was a fun experience, which taught me a lot. I look very much forward to seeing the edited version!
We also filmed a little behind the scenes cast interview where I chat to the cast of my episode. You can see the video here! (You do not need a Facebook account.)
Shot lists and story boards. With only three hours to shoot, it was important to stick to our schedule.
Okay, so maybe the power went to my head a little, but come on, who doesn't want a halo?
Not everything could be found in the office, so some things had to be made. It looks real enough, right?
The ten second vent!
 If anyone has a few extra thousand pounds and wants to buy me a camera like this one, I won't mind. Actually, I would be rather pleased.

 That's it for tonight. Have a lovely weekend and see you soon!

Cheers


Sunday, 27 October 2013

It's a Christmas Wrap!

Ladies and Gentlemen!

Apologies for my absence, it's busy busy busy in this part of the world. This week we filmed the first episode of The Christmas Party: "Harold and Phoebe"! My role on this particular shoot was mainly mic gremlin. I also shot some behind the scenes footage while the real camera was being set up, including two cast interviews which you can watch here! Do have a look and get to know a couple of the actors and one of our talented writers. (You will also learn a new Christmas cracker joke!)
The actors getting ready for the shoot. You've got to love that Christmas jumper!
This upcoming week it's my turn to direct the episode I wrote for the series. It's exciting and nerve wracking at the same time. But I have a great team so I'm sure it's going to be lots of fun. And of course there will be more videos and stills for you to enjoy while we put together the actual series. December isn't far away now!

Cheers!

Thursday, 17 October 2013

A web series under the Xmas tree

It's mid October and Christmas is sneaking up on us. No! some of you scream, it's too soon! Not for us! Since August my screenwriting colleagues and I have been writing a web series called The Christmas Party. The upcoming month is scheduled for production. Then in December you should be able to watch 7 shiny and festive episodes, each 3 to 4 minutes long. Let the party begin!
Now, we would love your support. No, we don't want money, or a lung or a kidney. We'd only ask  that you maybe like our Facebook page, and/or follow us on Twitter. And watch the series when it's up online, of course. As we get closer to our shooting dates and the big launch, there will be more and more interesting content on the sites. You'll get to follow our adventure behind the scenes. We'll share our successes, and our less epic moments. And you'll get to know the cast and crew.
My episode is the 7th and last of the series. 
We're doing this because we love TV and film. It's all a bit of fun, with some serious effort put into it. Anything to learn more about the whole process. So, here we go!

Cheers

Saturday, 5 October 2013

In the Globe

For the past year, I've walked past Shakespeare's Globe on several occasions. I've told myself I should go and see something and finally, yesterday, I did. Macbeth! Scotland, Kings, Blood and Witches. I particularly enjoyed the witches who did a great job. They were eerie yet graceful. Their voices and movements conjured up so much out of almost nothing. I can imagine it's even better at night when it gets dark. I had tickets to the matinee and at times even the sun came out.
 These photos were taken with my phone. I didn't bring a camera because usually you can't take photos inside a theatre, but I guess the Globe is enough of a tourist attraction for them to allow it before the play starts. And there wasn't much set that could be copyrighted by the set designer. It's amazing how you can tell intricate stories with almost no sets or props. If the text is good, then the audience understands.
 Standing room tickets are only 5 pounds, which is  a steal, and you can usually get them at short notice, while the seats quickly sell out and are rather expensive. But then again you have a roof over your head in case it rains, you get to sit for the 2 - 3 hour long plays, and don't have to rush in to get a good standing spot. I bought a seat this time, not wanting my achy feet to distract from the play.
The Globe Theatre's outdoor season runs only during the spring/summer/autumn months. After that, the weather gets a bit too iffy. So this season is slowly coming to an end, but if you're in London this time next year, why not pop in? (You might want to rent a cushion ...)

Have a great weekend!
Cheers

Thursday, 26 September 2013

I am the cookie monster!

I guess the 4pm cake breaks in Devon brainwashed me a little. I had the ingredients for chocolate chip/marshmallow cookies and decided to make some. I haven't baked in ages so it was fun!

Into the oven they go ...
 And out they came!

They didn't turn out half bad, but they're so sweet you can only have one or two. Or maybe I'm just extra sensitive since I've been trying to cut down on sugar lately. Either way, if you want a cookie, feel free to drop by!

Cheers!

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Seven things to jog your brain


Hello, greetings from London. I'm back from the writer's retreat, missing my green hills and donkeys. I got a fair amount of writing done, which has now given me a kick to continue working at home.

But of course, the writer's retreat wasn't all type type type. Any writer will tell you you need breaks to rest and regroup. There are also moments when you just can't see a way to continue your story and you have to do something else for a while to get the juices flowing.

Here are a few things we did, when sitting at the computer felt just a little bit too painful:

1. Cake Break! At 4 pm every day we were served lovely cakes, coffee and tea to then keep us going until dinner. All adults should have Cake Break, it makes you happy.

 2. Walks in the woods. Some of the public paths were a little bit creepy so good Ninja skills were necessary.

3. Play a game! We had a rustic Games Barn where there were pool tables and table tennis and all sorts. Lotta and I had some real mafia mojo going, and obviously we were great at playing ...
Uh Oh, that wasn't supposed to go there ...

4. Faux artsy photography. During the day when everyone else was working, it was good to take quiet breaks outside. Camera ready, we pretended to be great photographers. 

5. Bother the wildlife.  Petting donkeys, feeding goats and having deep conversations with cats all went towards keeping sane.
A hen on a mission.
6. Find your inner child. The swings in the yard were in heavy use. The going back and forth seemed to shake things into place. It didn't matter what age you are ... 


7. Get to it! Yeah, yeah. Never rely on inspiration. Just sit down and write. Even if it's early morning and you look a bit shaken and stirred. Who cares, we were all in the same writing boat. Woolly writing socks obligatory.

Well, that' what we did anyway and several words were written. Hope it helps!

Cheers

Sunday, 22 September 2013

A bonkers love story

 There once was a donkey called Duke ...

Duke and I met in a field in Devon. We stopped for a chat and talked a good old while. He liked carrots and I like carrots. He liked people who scratch his back and so do I. We both felt we had a connection and wondered what would happen next. Was there space in my flat for just one more?

Then came the deal breaker; Duke preferred blondes.

I couldn't compromise, and neither could he. We decided to go our separate ways.


The End.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Where Inspiration goes to live

Morning!

It's 6 am and the rooster is wishing anyone without ear plugs good morning. I'm at Stickwick farm in Devon on a writer's retreat and it's absolutely lovely. Lotta and I arrived yesterday evening to a beautiful room, great surroundings and very nice people.
Our room! 
 My bed!
 The view from our bedroom window.
 Parts of the house.
Running with the donkeys!
A woodland walk close to the house, all wonderfully quiet.
 A stream ... Duh.

As you can see, I'm saving my writing powers for today's marathon writing session. The plan is to push out as many words as possible, for as many hours as possible. Luckily our host takes good care of us and makes sure we're well fed on food and cake. 

We'll be here all weekend and part of Monday, and I'll keep you posted!

Cheers!

Monday, 9 September 2013

The 2 Pound Diet

No-No
I am a self-professed sugar addict. I CRAVE sugar. I sometimes catch myself talking about it the way other people might talk about alcohol or drugs. When I start eating sweets, there is no stopping me. (A lot of it happens in secret.) I will eat until there is nothing left. I don't care if I feel nauseous, my hand still goes to the bag. I'm like a child.

No-No
So, I've decided to cut out excess sugar, this means sweets, soft drinks and anything else that is mainly sugar based. The rules are especially strict on me buying myself anything sweet, and I'm not allowed to bring anything home, that's where the binging happens. If I meet a friend for coffee, I might get something small, or if I'm at someone's house and they're offering, but even then I should stay moderate.
No-No (But they're my favourites!)
NOW! What is hopefully going to keep me motivated is money. Every day I don't buy myself anything unhealthy, I put 2 pounds in a jar. (About the same amount I might otherwise spend on crap.) At the end of the month, if I've been good, there should be 60 pounds waiting for me. With these 60 pounds I am allowed to buy anything I like (except sweets) and since I do enjoy shopping, it's a good motivator. Especially now that I should also be saving money.
Yesterday I made my own summer veg soup instead of buying some ready made. It actually turned out rather well!
Will it work? I don't know, but so far I'm feeling positive. I know there's plenty of sugars in savory foods as well, especially pre-made stuff, but I'm starting out like this. My plan is to begin cooking more as well (to take care of me and my budget) and that should help.

Three days in and my body is very cross with my decision. How dare I? It wants its fix, now! But I'm hoping it will get easier further on ... Any tips and tricks and recipes to help me out are highly appreciated! (And feel free to join me in this "adventure".)

Cheers!

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Smurfs and border controllers

I'm back in London. They let me through border control once more. (It's good to have a Finnish passport, they don't care much about a boring and well behaved country like Finland.)
I snapped this photo almost exactly a year ago when I made the move to London. Being a EU citizen I had every right to go, but I was still a bit nervous about telling the controller I wasn't just visiting. 
One day, I'm going to write a little book about border controls. In countries like the US and the UK the controllers like to have a chat. Maybe it's to see if you're a foreign spy or illegal immigrant, or maybe they're just bored. Either way, going through border control can be a bit nerve-wracking, (what if I say the wrong thing, what if they don't let me in?). You have to suppress the sudden urge to make inappropriate jokes about drugs and bombs.  
Final day in my Helsinki flat, furniture moved, bags all packed. 
People say border controllers are grumpy, but I've mostly had nice experiences, especially coming and going in the UK.

1. Leaving London for a week in Finland, I gave my passport to a grumpy (!) looking lady. Oh oh, better not mess about, I thought. She looked at the passport, she looked at me. She looked at the passport again and then back up at me. She suddenly gave me a large, friendly smile;

‘Happy belated birthday!’ 

I was shocked. It was already three days after my 27th birthday and the fact that she had noticed, and cared, made my day. It really is the small things.


 2. When I flew to San Diego to work at Nerd HQ during Comic Con, the border control queues were painstakingly slow. I soon realised why, the controller had so much fun talking about the convention. When it was my turn we chatted about super hero costumes, screenings, and the latest games. By the end of the chat he looked at me, concerned, and my heart leaped. Was there something wrong after all?

‘Don't walk on your own after dark, okay? Stay safe.’ 

I felt very touched that a person I didn't know, and to whom I was just another tourist trying to get into the country, cared about my wellbeing.
During Comic con you can easily get attacked by a giant deflated Smurf.

2.5. Also, on my way to San Diego the controller at Heathrow looked at my boarding pass once and cried out; You too? 
I could only apologize for the sudden invasion of nerds and he wished me a happy flight. 

3. Finally yesterday I  pulled out my ID at the control ready to show my (very grumpy indeed) passport photo. The young guy didn't say anything, only reached for my passport, and I thought, right so I finally got one of the rude ones. He looked at me, looked at my passport, then looked at me again. This time, it wasn't my birthday. He scanned the document and gave it back. He finally decided to open his mouth:

‘You look very young.’
‘Oh, yeah, I know. It's a curse. Well actually it's not. It's good.’  
 ‘Yeah, it's good. Thank you.’

And then I was in. Would he have turned me away if I'd been old looking? Was it something he just had to get off his chest? Sometimes these things are very random. But I did feel a tad bit flattered.

Now I don't know if there's any real reason for this entry, except maybe some sentimental reminiscing. I would however like to make one point; most of the time people treat you the way you treat them, so if you approach someone in a friendly manner they will usually be kind to you back. There are of course exceptions. And cultural differences. Most of the time it's not personal. But yeah, try to be nice to people and they will give you the benefit of the doubt. Even in border controls. 

Have a great weekend!!

Cheers