Sunday, February 24, 2013

International Mystery: Private Detective Vares

My favorite International Mystery these days is the Finnish series Vares. The series hero is Private Eye Jussi Vares played by Antti Reini. Vares has seen better times, and now must take just about any job offered. Like many fictional detectives he is popular with women and not so popular with the police. He drinks more than he should, he's often careless about where he goes and who he trusts, though he really doesn't trust anyone. Jussi does love his cat, and that's very endearing.

This is only the second Finnish series I've seen, the first being the great Felliniesque RAID.  Like the previous Finnish series,  Private Detective Vares explores the dark, sinister, and gruesome underbelly of crime and corruption at all levels of society.  The case usually starts as a rather common case for PI Jussi, maybe a divorce and adultery case or missing persons, and then spirals totally out of control. Somehow Vares often is tied up at the end, and I mean literally. Part of the fun is wondering how he'll get out of this predicament alive when bound hand, foot, and body to a chair, or chained to something. 

There are other regular characters in this series.  One of them is the city of Turku.  Like all great literary detectives, Vares is identified  with a specific geographic location, though he does wonder away once in a while. Turku I understand from a bit of research is the oldest city in Finland and a very historic city. But in this series we only catch brief glimpses of that past. Our Turku is the modern city and all our modern problems.

 Lovely views of Turku
 Thanks to Wikipedia

Jussi does have his friends who help him, or hinder him, in his investigations.  Similar to Raid in some ways, these friends are pretty eccentric and not the pillars of society. One is a writer who never finishes or publishes, one is a reverend or priest thrown out of his church, who runs a second hand bookstore, one is a drug addict,one is a tabloid journalist, and they are the good guys.  Vares also has a friend in the police who sometimes enlists him to help, and helps him with inside information in return.   

I should mention Vares is in love with his neighbor, taxi driver/stripper Anna. She however is not always in love with him, though she does act as his "Watson" in many of the episodes.  But don't worry, Jussi is seldom lacking for female company. 
Maria Jarvenhelmi

The Vares TV series and films are based on the books by Reijo Maki. 

Reijo Maki

Vares is played by Finnish actor Antti Reini 

Reini is a self trained actor who has starred in a number of Finnish and Swedish films and TV series as well as a German detective series. 

Antti Reini as Vares

Though he's the only one I've seen as Vares, it seems he replaced another actor, Juha Veijonen, who played the detective until 2010. According to Wikipedia, Veijonen also appeared in the Finnish or Scandinavian version of "Dancing with the Stars".

 Juha Veijonen

Below is a trailer from an episode of Vares (alas in Finnish only)

Check your local PBS station to see if they are showing episodes of Vares, or check the MHz Networks website:


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Leicester and Richard Armitage Win By A Nose over York and Sean Bean

Poll results are in!  The question was, who has the most Plantagenet nose, Richard Armitage (Leicester) or Sean Bean (York)? We compared their profiles to a real Plantagenet, Richard III.


Sean Bean (York) lost by a wide margin - Sorry Sean

I still love your nose

Richard III Facial Reconstruction:

The Results:

70%  Voted for Richard Armitage 

29%  Voted for Sean Bean

Thank You for Voting 

Pics and Caps from, Google Images

Saturday, February 16, 2013

How did I Miss this? "How to be a Dwarf" Video

I have lost track of all The Hobbit video interviews I have seen, but tonight I was randomly searching YouTube and stumbled upon this video of the cast - of all the dwarves- talking about "How to be a Dwarf". I love the guys!

Only thing, their fearless leader Thorin and also Balin are missing, I miss them...

But we do have the rest of the gang below and they are priceless:

Note to Peter Jackson: Isn't it time already for a new Video Blog of film #2?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Valentine's Day 2013

Edvard Munch

Valentine's Day is my least favorite holiday. For those of us without a Valentine it is a sad day indeed. I know I'm not the only one who dreads the question "What are you doing on Valentine's Day?"  Having dinner alone always seems sadder on February 14.

Valentine's Day is always one of the two days a year that I regret not being married. (The other is New Year's Eve by the way.) But recently I asked several married co-workers how they feel about Valentine's Day, and to my surprise none of them had a positive thing to say about the day. They complained about having a day of enforced romance, about being too busy with jobs and kids to have a romantic dinner, or even a romantic minute, especially on a weekday, about rushing to buy a last minute present, or receiving a present they didn't really want. Even when I mentioned flowers and chocolates, the comments were about how the holiday is a ploy by florists, chocolate manufacturers, and greeting card companies, to make more money. But all romance is not dead, a few told me how they prefer romance to be spontaneous, and told me stories of times they surprised their spouse with a gift, or even a special weekend getaway.  

After talking to my co-workers I started to feel better about being a singleton on this day.  Maybe I'll buy myself a rose, a white rose, on my way home from work today. Happy Valentine's Day to me.

A Big Valentine's Day Hug to my Blog Followers!  Thank you!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Richard III: Leicester (Richard Armitage) vs York (Sean Bean) - Poll: Who has the most Plantagenet Nose

I don't have any British ancestry, so I'm staying out of the Leicester or York debate on where Richard III should be buried:

But the debate and reconstruction of Richard III's face made me think about my two favorite actors and their profiles.  You see, Richard Armitage is from Leicestershire and Sean Bean is from Yorkshire.

Pics from The British Library

Comparing the profile of Richard III, definitely a Plantagenet, to the profile of Richard Armitage and Sean Bean per the photos below, the poll question is:

Who has the most Plantagenet nose?  RA or SB? 

Please vote - Poll on the right hand sidebar

Pics thanks to The Mighty Bean, Richard Armitage Online,, various Google Image sites.

Monday, February 4, 2013

We Have Richard III

University of Leicester confirms in press conference this morning that the remains found in the Leicester car park are indeed those of Richard III.

More about this on the news and at the links below:

Will we hear from Richard Armitage this week on BBC Radio Leicester about this amazing discovery of Richard III in Leicester? Will we hear from him about a future program/series about Richard III and his interest in starring in, or producing, such a program/series? We hope we will. 

Petition for “Richard III”

For several years, Richard Armitage, the famous British actor and star of “North and South,” “Robin Hood,” “Spooks,” “Strike Back,” and the upcoming “The Hobbit” films has been seeking financing to make a film or television series exploring a more historically accurate portrayal of King Richard III of England.

Please support Richard Armitage’s effort by signing this petition and encouraging potential financiers and production investors to support the “Richard III” project.

 Petition at the link below:

Update and More information from the University of Leicester Press Office - Thanks to KRA:



• Wealth of evidence, including radiocarbon dating, radiological evidence, DNA and bone analysis and archaeological results, confirms identity of last Plantagenet king who died over 500 years ago

• DNA from skeleton matches TWO of Richard III’s maternal line relatives.  Leicester genealogist verifies living relatives of Richard III’s family

• Individual likely to have been killed by one of two fatal injuries to the skull – one possibly from a sword and one possibly from a halberd

• 10 wounds discovered on skeleton - Richard III killed by trauma to the back of the head.  Part of the skull sliced off

• Radiocarbon dating reveals individual had a high protein diet – including significant amounts of seafood – meaning he was likely to be of high status

• Radiocarbon dating reveals individual died in the second half of the 15th or in the early 16th century – consistent with Richard’s death in 1485

• Skeleton reveals severe scoliosis – onset believed to have occurred at the time of puberty

• Although around 5 feet 8 inches tall (1.72m), condition meant King Richard III would have stood significantly  shorter and his right shoulder may have been higher than the left

• Feet were truncated at an unknown point in the past, but a significant time after the burial

• Corpse was subjected to ‘humiliation injuries’ –including a sword through the right buttock

• Individual had unusually slender, almost feminine, build for a man – in keeping with contemporaneous accounts

• No evidence for ‘withered arm’ –as portrayed by Shakespeare – found

• Possibility that the individual’s hands were tied

• Grave was hastily dug, was not big enough and there was no shroud or coffin

The University of Leicester, in association with Leicester City Council and the Richard III Society, led the Search for Richard III.

The Search for Richard III is also the subject of a Channel 4 documentary made by Darlow Smithson Productions.

The documentary makers had exclusive access to the search team during the archaeological dig and during the scientific tests to determine the skeleton’s identity.

Their documentary, Richard III: King in the Car Park, can be seen at 9pm on Channel 4 today (Monday, February 4).

More information about Channel 4’s Richard III: King in the Car Park documentary can be found at:

The public can find more information about the University of Leicester’s Search for Richard III


Facial Reconstruction of Richard III (University of Leicester - February 5, 2013)

Resemblance with Richard Armitage? I think so, do you?

Richard Armitage as Guy of Gisborne


Interesting post from the academic point of view: 

Popularizing Archaeology: Richard III and Archaeological Theater  by Paul Mullins:


Sunday, February 3, 2013

Richard Armitage and Richard III - Old Video Revisited and a Bit More

As we wait for news of the skeleton in the car park in Leicester tomorrow, revisiting an old video compilation of mine, Richard Armitage talks about playing Richard III and more.

Hear today ( 2/3/13) from BBC Radio Leicester - reading of Richard's email to them this morning - go to YouTube by clicking on link below:

He briefly mentions Richard III in this interview about playing Thorin (The Hobbit)

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