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The Green Tortoise: Last Day of the Festival

I got up at 6:00am and went down to the castle like breakfast room of the Grand Hotel Tammer. As usual I was the only one there that early. When the bacon was put out I piled a bunch on my plate, added a half dozen small croissants, took coffee and juice, and went back to my room. It was still so early that Today’s Paper at nytimes.com had not changed to Sunday. I got caught up on political news at Washington Monthly, baseball at ESPN, and tsumani and nuclear meltdown news at CNN. I made a couple of more trips down to the breakfast room to bring back more of what I had already had. When I finally got through the Sunday NY Times it was almost 10:00. I went down to the breakfast room to grab a banana and found the place jammed with people. I had no idea how popular it really was for people who don’t like to get up early when they are in a very nice hotel.

My plan was to knock out the report for Saturday and post it on the blog and then see the award winning films at noon. There would be showing of more award winning films at 2:00.


That plan was screwed up by my writing for the blog taking a lot more time than I’d planned. Instead of a straight chronological report I wanted to start out on the ice of the frozen lake. It took a while to form the whole plan of attack. When I finally got it written and posted it was 3:00. It was so sunny out I decided to leave the hotel without overcoat or hat. It felt liberating once I was outside and unencumbered. I walked to the Klubi and found the show was sold out. I was told the party that evening would start at 8:00. I went up to the office to see about my honorarium. A good thing that. If I didn’t ask I doubt I would have got it. I was asked to write out an invoice on an empty computer. I then was given the cash. Juhani also gave me more food vouchers and also a ticket for the dinner at Bravo.This is really a nice festival and everyone has been extra nice to me. I went back to the hotel. At 6:00 I walked up to Bravo to eat. It was all closed up. I thought about eating at the Italian place but decided to go to Klubi and see what food would be at the party. The fallback plan would be dinner at the same place as yesterday.

On my way out I left a wake up call for 5:45 and asked for a taxi at 6:45.For some reason I came back in to get something and the desk clerk hailed me. He had made a note of my requests but hadn’t written down my room number.  If I hadn’t come back I don’t know what he would have done. It probably would have ruined his evening by fretting and also could have caused me to miss my plane.   By now it was dark and the pathways had iced up again. That had been the routine every day: Ice melts during the day and freezes as soon as the sun goes down. It made slightly nervous going with my leather soled shoes. Walking through the train station I saw something remarkable. It was a vending machine that sold flowers. What a nice idea.


At Klubi I was told a buffet dinner would be provided at 8:00. I went upstairs and found a place to sit and write in longhand. I also told Mikko that he could contact the other person at the Grand Hotel Tammer that there would be a taxi we could share to get to the airport. At 8:00 I went downstairs and found the door to Klubi closed. A line had formed but was not out the door. The coat check racket was back in business. I had left my coat and hat upstairs. The door didn’t open untill 8:20 and by then the foyer was packed and the line was out the door. Inside I found the repast to be a green salad, a Greek salad, a spaghetti with olive oil and raw vegetables and also penne with basil and chicken. I got a little of each and headed for the beer stand. Everything was free. To keep people from getting bombed they cut a corner off the festival badge with each beer and when all four corners were cut the drinker was cut off.

I sat at a table with Mikko, Anton, Leena and man and woman I didn’t catch the names of. Mikko said he had made the taxi arrangement. We were joined by a woman who was much more lively than the average Finn, which she said so herself.   She reminded me of my old friend the actress Lori Larson who starred in Seattle  Empty Space Theater stage productions in the 70’s and 80’s.


Of that group of actors, who included Robert Wright ,Rex McDowell, Rebecca Wells and Jill Klein, the only one  I have any idea what he is doing now is John Aylward.  He has done a ton of TV work and was a regular on ER as Dr. Donald Anspaugh. He had niche in the old days as an actor who could play old even when he was young. He still doesn’t seem any older than he did thirty years ago.


The DJ was playing movie music and when I first noticed it was the the Ennio Morricone score from The Good the Bad and Ugly. We talked about music and movies. The lively woman mentioned taking the Green Tortoise from San Francisco to Seattle in 1991. She said it had left in the early evening with beds made up and that they awoke to breakfast in Portland at a farm that had a sort of Sauna/Sweat Lodge steam bath.  We wondered if such a relic from the hippie days could still be in business.  I was pleased to find out today that it is.

Jukka-Pekka and Juhani both gave short talks, first in Finnish and then in English, thanking the staff for doing such a great job. He then asked the guests to give the staff a big hand. I was happy to do it. It really was a nicely run festival. After that it looked like the band would finally play. That is when I left. I made it to the hotel safely. It was midnight. I still had the fifty bucks in food vouchers I hadn’t needed after all. I can’t believe I let that happen.  I packed my bags and went to sleep.

Note:  This report was mostly written in the airport in Riga.  The final editing, adding photos, and posting was on the train between Copenhagen and Flensburg.  Wow, modern life!

Actress Lori Larson on the set of an Empty Space Theater production of "Bullshot Crummond," Seattle, Washington, January 18, 1976

3 responses to “The Green Tortoise: Last Day of the Festival”

  1. It was very nice to have you here in Tampere! Thanks for excellent, memorable shows that truly were among the high points of the festival, and have a good time rest of your tour in Europe.

  2. Dennis Nyback says:

    I would suggest to anyone that days at the Tampere Film Festival would be a memorable time in their life. Like an ocean voyage on the Carpathia or Leviathan. I enjoyed my time in Finland immensely and hope to meet again the many people I met.

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