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We poets will write a thousand words to get at a single one.

Roberto Bolaño


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Saturday, October 15th, 2011

Unexpected Muumishittiä

Sylvia got a lovely birthday present from my parents, a bunch of merch from Moomin Shop, in Finland. A "Little My" nightgown, a mug with a likeness of Moominmamma, copies of "The Book About Moomin, Mymble, and Little My" in both English and Finnish -- Sylvia and I spent a little while watching this (beautiful) 2009 production of "Kuinkas Sitten Kävikään?" and reading along...

posted evening of October 15th, 2011: Respond
➳ More posts about Tove Jansson

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

Fuzzy Felt

A new Moomin movie has come out! Well -- "new" needs a little qualification here; the movie is compiled clips from the Fuzzy Felt Moomins TV show of the '70's, with new voices and soundtrack (featuring Björk). It came out in Finland a few weeks ago, and the production company says it will be distributed internationally... I can only hope it will be in theaters here sometime this fall. (The same company released a Moominsummer Madness movie a couple of years ago, which I did not hear a word about. But they seem to have ramped up a good deal more publicity for this one.)

posted evening of August 24th, 2010: Respond
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Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

Building his airship

Another point of comparison for Padre Bartolomeu Lourenço that hit me this morning, as I was reading about Signor Scarlatti proposing to bring his harpsichord aboard the Passarola, is Moominpappa in Moominpappa's Memoirs -- holed away in his retreat, working at the pleasure of the whimsical monarch, building a mystical flying vessel... Interesting how Baltasar and Blimunda is bringing children's books to mind.

posted afternoon of July 7th, 2009: Respond
➳ More posts about Baltasar and Blimunda

Sunday, May 10th, 2009

Rainy Day

(Not today; yesterday -- today the sun is shining.)

Snufkin got a feeling that he wanted to write songs. He waited until he was quite sure of the feeling and one evening he got his mouth-organ from the bottom of his rucksack. In August, somewhere in Moominvalley, he had hit on five bars which would undoubtedly provide a marvellous beginning for a tune. They had come completely naturally as notes do when they have been left in peace. Now the time had come to take them out again and let them become a song about rain.
This is nice: last night I was reading Moominvalley in November with Sylvia, and we came across the passage above. Later on, and without being conscious of the coincidence until this morning, I sat down and finished writing out a song I have had in the back of my mind since two weeks ago (when I first thought of it I wrote down the first two bars) -- I'm tentatively calling it "Rainy Day".

An interesting thing with the key of this piece -- when I started out I was thinking it was in D minor; but then something happened in measure 5. If the three-note run at the end of that measure is D-E-G♮, then the song ends up resolving on D; if it is E-G♮-A, the resolution is on A, and the key is A phrygian. I am not sure what the accidental sharps on C and G are doing to the key. Hoping to record this later on, it's pretty hypnotic (like listening to a heavy rain outside, was the genesis of the working title.)

posted morning of May 10th, 2009: Respond
➳ More posts about Songs

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

Huckleberry Finn Intertextuality

Sylvia comments that the King and the Duke's plan to perform a Shakespearean exhibition (featuring the balcony scene, with the King as Juliet, and the sword fight from Richard III, and the King doing Hamlet's soliloquy) reminds her a lot of Moominsummer Madness. And I think she's on to something; Jansson could very well be referring directly to this scene. That's assuming Huckleberry Finn was translated and available in Finland in the early 20th C., which seems to me like a reasonable assumption.

An interesting moment was explaining to Sylvia why it would probably not be a good idea to read Huckleberry Finn out loud while we were on the airplane flying to California.

posted evening of July 23rd, 2008: 2 responses
➳ More posts about Huckleberry Finn

Tuesday, December 25th, 2007

The rather silly Pied Piper of Hamelin video, with rhyming dialogue, was made worthwhile by the lovely actors and by Sylvia's observation that "If this were a play, Emma [the stage rat from Moominsummer Madness] would say 'It's all wrong.'"

posted evening of December 25th, 2007: Respond
➳ More posts about Family Movie Night

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

Moominpappa's Memoirs

I always have thought of Moominpappa's Memoirs as the least interesting book in the series, worth reading only for the sake of completeness. But I have been reading it to Sylvia, at her request, for the past week or so; and this time around I am getting a fuller picture of it -- it is not just Moominpappa's boastful relation of his exploits, but rather his telling to Moomintroll (and Sniff, and Snufkin). There is a level of irony and distance that I wasn't really noticing before -- what I mean is, it was clear (in my previous reading) that Moominpappa was making a lot of stuff up to make himself look important -- that is an obvious part of the joke that's going on. But I thought that was the whole joke, and it's a kind of limited and corny one. Now I am picking up on the fact that Moominpappa is himself in on the joke and that he's winking at his audience -- this seems much more interesting to me than if it's just Jansson winking at me.

Also: Sylvia says of the two Jansson picture books (Moomin, Mymble, and Little My and Who Will Comfort Toffle?) that "one is funny and one is serious", and that she prefers the funny one. (I kind of have to agree, though Toffle is pretty charming too.)

posted evening of October 31st, 2007: Respond
➳ More posts about Sylvia

Friday, October 26th, 2007

Translation

I've been thinking a lot lately about translation of poetry and how difficult it is, and whether it is worth doing. I'm glad to say that tonight I read an utterly sublime specimen of the genre. It is Tove Jansson's Book About Moomin, Mymble, and Little My, translated by Sophie Hannah and Silvester Mazzarella -- it might be better to say something like "translated by Mazzarella and composed by Hannah" -- in any case they have done a phenomenal job.

The book was written in 1952 and not translated until 2001. (In any case this version came out in 2001, and no reference is made to any earlier translation.) The text is integrated flawlessly with the illustrations -- whoever did the lettering ought to have been credited -- the result looks sort of like Dr. Seuss, sort of like Walt Kelly, sort of like Edward Gorey, but mostly like Jansson.

Many thanks to Redfox for recommending that I check out Jansson's picture books. I had known of their existence for a couple of years but never sought them out.

posted evening of October 26th, 2007: 3 responses
➳ More posts about Translation

Tuesday, October 9th, 2007

OMG! Comet in Moominland is being produced in NYC! And Ellen is trying to get us tickets! Got my fingers crossed, that would be too much fun.

...And rats, it is sold out. Oh well, some other time I guess. (Kind of a nuisance for the Times to review the play at the end of its run rather than near the beginning...)

posted morning of October 9th, 2007: Respond

Friday, August third, 2007

Moominsummer Madness

I am reading Sylvia Moominsummer Madness for bedtime stories now, not sure if this is the first or second time we have reread it. Last night, she was absolutely loving the bit with Snufkin getting his revenge on the Park Warden, it seemed like she remembered it very clearly from last time (at least a year ago).

Anyways, I want to put together a Moominpost for KIDLIT but I haven't figured out quite what yet. It seems to me like reading diaries belong on this site -- after all that is the primary purpose I had in mind when I created READIN -- and that site is more for analysis. There should be analysis of this particular book and of the series in general; I'm not quite sure yet, where to start.

posted morning of August third, 2007: Respond

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