Research Blog Antarctica #55 – Varatohtori Virta Etelänavalla

Varatohtori Virta etelänavalla

Fiction: Mikko Lensu: Varatohtori Virta Etelänavalla (Teos, 2006)

This the sequel to Mikko Lensu’s first polar children’s book, Varatohtori Virta Pohjoisnavalla. Although this book suffers from the usual sequel problem of recycled jokes, it was more fun to read. The fantastic parts didn’t seem quite so forced and the general tone was more cheerful.

It’s the story of Varatohtori Virta and his compatriots from the first book, now on a scientific mission in Antarctica. They suspect the existence of rivers of meltwater under the ice and encounter problems with telepathic penguins.

They’re racists! And they’re dirty!

Polly Maggoo

We’ve watched some movies of William Klein recently starting with the hilarious and brilliant Mr Freedom. America is a subject that recurs in the movies quite often (Klein himself is from New York). Here’s something from Qui êtes-vous, Polly Maggoo? (1966, France).

01:08:05,381 –> 01:08:06,678
Hey, ma, who’s that?

01:08:06,949 –> 01:08:09,144
Here comes the bride!

01:08:09,418 –> 01:08:11,545

01:08:38,614 –> 01:08:41,913
Fine, thank you… l speak French.

01:08:42,418 –> 01:08:46,252
Aha! So you’re Polly-glot!

01:08:52,328 –> 01:08:54,592
Here, Polly, taste this.

01:08:55,097 –> 01:08:58,157
They don’t have this in America,
do they?

01:08:58,534 –> 01:08:59,159
What is it?

01:08:59,401 –> 01:09:00,766

01:09:01,003 –> 01:09:02,061
French cuisine?

01:09:02,338 –> 01:09:04,898
French and 1/2! Mother made it!

01:09:05,141 –> 01:09:06,733
You’re in for a treat!

01:09:13,983 –> 01:09:15,075
She likes it!

01:09:15,618 –> 01:09:17,210
You don’t get that in America!

01:09:17,453 –> 01:09:19,148
Everything comes in cans!

01:09:19,388 –> 01:09:21,948
They’re even canning wine now!

01:09:22,191 –> 01:09:23,158
ln America?

01:09:23,392 –> 01:09:24,188
Uh…in France.

01:09:24,426 –> 01:09:25,154
ln France!

01:09:25,394 –> 01:09:26,793
To send to America.

01:09:27,029 –> 01:09:31,193
You see? l was in the USA as a military observer.

01:09:31,600 –> 01:09:34,569
l was dealing with Pentagon brass

01:09:34,803 –> 01:09:36,293
who treated me like dirt!

01:09:36,539 –> 01:09:39,633
Actually, l knew more than they did!

01:09:39,875 –> 01:09:42,708
And l had a long tradition behind me!

01:09:42,945 –> 01:09:44,242
He’s off again!

01:09:44,547 –> 01:09:46,447
They say Americans are children.

01:09:46,682 –> 01:09:48,377
Actually, they’re OUR children.

01:09:48,617 –> 01:09:51,984
Europe has given them everything. From life to LlBERTY!

01:09:53,088 –> 01:09:54,555
Some liberty!

01:09:54,790 –> 01:09:56,314
And the Statue, to boot!

01:09:58,194 –> 01:09:59,855
But he’s right, Gregoire.

01:10:00,162 –> 01:10:01,959
Do you paint, young lady?

01:10:02,198 –> 01:10:03,995
Why, no…

01:10:04,400 –> 01:10:08,564
Then, your name isn’t Polly Titian?

01:10:15,110 –> 01:10:17,806
You wouldn’t be Polly Tickle-minded?

01:10:21,050 –> 01:10:24,349
Or Polly Styrene, by any chance?

01:10:26,088 –> 01:10:28,886
Americans are squares… in round cans!

01:10:29,191 –> 01:10:31,591
They’re dirty! And they’re stupid!

01:10:31,894 –> 01:10:35,193
Their brains are smaller than ours!

01:10:35,464 –> 01:10:37,364
And you can’t tell them apart!

01:10:37,600 –> 01:10:39,591
They’re racists! And they’re dirty!

01:10:39,835 –> 01:10:40,665
Now, Juliette…

01:10:40,903 –> 01:10:41,961
not all of them.

Research Blog Antarctica #54 – White


Fiction: Marie Darrieussecq: White (Faber & Faber, 2006)

One of the rare Antarctic novels I’ve read that’s proper, high-brow literature and not a genre excercise. It’s a slim, compact novel, a simple love story with a very effective, stream-of-consciousness voice. It’s about the weight of the past and deals with memories in a highly evocative way. For the most part, you get a highly evocative feel of Antarctica as a place, but the illusion wobbles in the end.

White is set in the future and is about Peter and Edmée, two international citizens who come to work on a pan-European research station. Sometimes the book feels well researched, as when Darrieussecq is writing about Scott or meteorites, but other times not, as with the role of women in Antarctica, or with the heating arrangements. The end result is beautiful but sloppy.

Research Blog Antarctica #53 – Ice Station Zebra

Ice Station Zebra

Film: John Sturges: Ice Station Zebra (U.S.A. 1968)

A Cold War thriller about a secret mission to the North Pole on a nuclear submarine. The underwater imagery of the sub is cool,  and it looks like a big budget production for its time. Unfortunately, it feels like the people who made this were quite impressed with their own special effects. The first real event in the movie occurs around the one hour mark, and we get to know what’s going on after one hour and 45 minutes. The movie is two and half hours long, and it feels you could have cut the first hour away easily.

As a movie about polar regions, this one is a dud.

Research Blog Antarctica #52 – Varatohtori Virta Pohjoisnavalla

Varatohtori Virta Pohjoisnavalla

Fiction: Mikko Lensu: Varatohtori Virta Pohjoisnavalla (Teos, 2005)

A children’s book about an expedition through the polar sea. The author makes an effort towards whimsy, but his style doesn’t really stretch that far. It reads like someone in the natural sciences trying to be lighthearted and failing. On the upside, you can see in the way its written that the author has personal experience in the polar regions.

My wife loved this phrase: “Fritsistä ja Helmutista oli hauskaa vaaniskella toisiaan.”