"Thank God for film archivist Dennis Nyback. If not for his encyclopedic knowledge of rare films and his tenacity for acquiring them, we would never have the privilege to view some astounding works of cinema." Kim Morgan

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Walking on Thick Ice


About a dozen of us were standing a few hundred yards from the shore on frozen lake Nasijarvi. I could see cross country skiers, some being propelled by kites, in the distance toward the far shore.    A couple of hundred yards in the other direction a group of people were frolicking around. No one was ice skating.  The ice being covered with snow made that impossible.  It reminded me of being at  the beach in Oregon, except it didn’t seem as  cold here.

Our Saturday excursion had started out at 11:30am in two vans.  Our group had been augmented by a class of journalism students from Austria who had recently arrived.   Our first stop was the Sara Hilden Art Museum.  It was housed in an attractive 60’s concrete building near the foot of a Space Needle like tower, and revolving restaurant, that  I had seen yesterday from the Pyynikki Tower.  It was also just around the corner from an amusement park that was closed for the season and covered in snow.


A tour guide took us through the Subobh Gupta exhibition.  Our info sheet called him a “Superstar of India’s contemporary art scene.”   One sculpture was made of of three or four dozen boxes that each had once contained a  Jeff Koons Puppy and were marked accordingly.  Another room held several large oil paintings of realistically realized  plates of food.  A third room contained great big eggs made out of stainless steel kitchen implements welded together.   If I hadn’t thought Marchel Duchamp had taken art in a bad direction I probably would have enjoyed the exhibition more.


From there we went for the walk on the ice.  There did seem to be a certain conceptual connection between the two events.  As we neared the point where we turned back I saw a solitary figure walking toward us.  It looked like he had come from the city shore at least a mile away and was crossing to our side.  He passed us without remark.    Walking back the way we came we were passed by a man driving a dog sled pulled by Husky dogs.  The driver stopped to talk to the Finnish members of our group.  Shortly after that the dogs started to howl and kept it up until the man returned to them.  A frozen lake in Finland is really a remarkable place.

Back at Plevna I went into the festival center to see what was offered during the day.  Looking at the schedule I saw that my show Kill A Commie for Christ was due to start in five minutes.  What?  I had thought it was scheduled for Sunday afternoon!  I tore out of the building,  running  most of the way, most of the distance was downhill, and arrived just in time to be introduced to the crowd.  Being out of breath made my introduction a little difficult but all in all it turned out well. My rushing in at the last moment added a bit of  frisson to the event. My talk included my personal memories of growing up in the shadow of nuclear annihilation.  I also talked about  Martin Luther King being smeared as being a communist, just as Barrack Obama is being smeared as a socialist.  I stayed for the show and added some extra fully breathed comments during the pause for the reel change.


Billboard in North Carolina in place until 1969

I would again be showing films in the evening as part of the Freaky Horror Night .  That wouldn’t start until ten.  My confusion about the Kill A Commie screening was because it had been listed on my gig sheet  after Freaky Horror. I should have read the information more carefully.  I am really glad it worked out ok.  I stayed for all  of Kill A Commie.  The show ends with a film made by the Defense Department in 1965 about dealing with the after effects of a nuclear war.  The nuclear reactors in Japan melting down as a result of the earthquake and tsunamis made it even more chilling.

It was nice to have a few restful hours before the next show.  I was able to eat an unhurried dinner at Telakka which was just across the square from Tullikamari.  I used up the last of my meal vouchers for a very tasty plate of pork escalopes and french fries.  The french fries were seasoned with paprika.

A huge crowd showed up for Freaky Horror.  Three of my educational scare films started the show at 10:30.  That was followed by the act Sir and Q which was a burly guy and petite girl who did classic freak show stuff using a sledge hammer, a large syringe, and blocks of concrete.  That was followed by a goth sort of rock band called Nightsatan.  Their bass vibrated the walls of the building.  I hope I escaped permanent hearing loss.



Tod Browning’s Freaks was then shown in 35mm.   After that it would be more of Sir and Q and a band called the Braineaters.  Three more of my educational scare films would end the evening.  I enjoyed the first half hour of Freaks before admitting that going to sleep was a lot more attractive to me than staying for more  high volume mayhem.  I walked out of the Tullikamari  into the icy streets and  the cold night.