So Long, Larias

I’ve marveled over the years about both the reach of my occasional posts and the staying power of one particular one from 2013. It’s less about me and more about the power of serial storytelling.

blog-salatutYouTuber “MissFinlandia88” started subtitling the gay love story between Elias Vikstedt and Lari Väänänen on the Finnish soap Salatut Elämät (more or less, Secret Lives) about five years ago. In early January 2013, I first wrote about this pairing and how, thanks to one intrepid YouTuber, the show and this couple gained a worldwide English-speaking fanbase. It has been the most-read post on this blog since the beginning.

Social media, you see, works along the same constructs as a soap opera.


Paavola (left) and Roslöf portrayed Elias and Lari on a Finnish soap opera, known around the world thanks to an intrepid YouTuber who subtitled their scenes for an English-speaking audience.

Sadly, for fans of the Elias and Lari pairing — now known worldwide by the portmanteau Larias — the show has decided to kill off Elias, a shock twist that’s left fans reeling.

Elias came on as an already-out high school student and the son of one of the show’s long-serving characters. He fell for, and had a closeted romance with hockey star, Lari, whose tortured coming-out was the basis for much of their early story. But, it was less about the writing and more about the chemistry between the actors Petteri Paavola (Elias) and Ronny Roslöf (Lari) that propelled the story and sparked the imaginations of the fans.

When Paavola left the show for several months last year, Roslöf’s character took up with older doctor Kalle and now, in spite of Kalle’s recent rampant alcoholism, maybe he’ll once again take up with the grief-stricken Lari, who’s still recovering from a recent gunshot wound. (He was accidentally shot by Elias.) It’s a soap, remember!


In a recent Instagram post (above) Paavola thanked the couple’s fans and MissFinlandia88 who “took our story around the world.” He also thanked English-speaking fans on YouTube.

Well, all good things come to an end. For Paavola, who has been moonlighting as a real estate agent, he’ll still keep in touch with his on-screen ‘better half.’ The duo have become good friends and even play hockey on the same team. You never know where even a made-up gay relationship will take you.

To start over and watch everything, check out MissFinlandia88’s YouTube channel.

Care to Have Independence? Anyone? Scotland? No, Okay

This is a pretty good analysis about how and why the pollsters got it wrong, courtesy of our favorite bunch of quants over at FiveThirtyEight:
Why Pollsters Think They Underestimated ‘No’ In Scotland | FiveThirtyEight.

The final numbers are fascinating and I am particularly enamored of the “Shy Tory” argument, which basically says they want to side one way but don’t want to be seen siding that way because of all of the passion on the other side. It’s a very good argument. Anyone who has ever been around elections understands it. Nate Silver expands the thought.


The Scottish Parliament building, a fascinating piece of modern architecture that stands out like a sore thumb against a backdrop of old Edinburgh.

In the aftermath of the Scottish vote, I feel compelled to roll my eyes at all of the “fake Scots” in the U.S. who are such dedicated separatists, who blame the English for the tragic history of the Scots peoples, who beat their breasts about the terrible oppression at the hands of the English overlords for so many years.

And then they quote Burns. And have a wee dram and toast to “The Forty-Five” and refight the Battle of Culloden and vow that they will take up arms in the next Jacobite rising.

But here’s the thing: isn’t that just a bunch of romanticized twaddle? Haven’t there been two or three too many viewings of “Braveheart” in this camp?

Don’t get me wrong, I love Scotland. Edinburgh is one of the most fascinating cities in the world. I would go back any day of any week, if I could. But, I’m also a practical Unionist and a lover of London as well.


Your faithful correspondent, mugging for the camera on Calton Hill, Edinburgh, in 2010. From my attire and from the sky, can you guess it is the middle of summer?

It seems to me that in 2014 the world is so intertwined that to separate one part of a major power and become a small power unto yourself seems a disaster waiting to happen. What about currency? And border patrols? What about taxes, the national health scheme, compulsory education, state-sponsored higher education, bank regulations, environmental regulations, the Navy, the power grid, elections, separation of powers — or not, weights and measures, language? The list is endless.

And, ultimately, that’s what those “Shy Tory” voters realized. It sounds good in a ripping good speech, but when you have to live it, well, let’s be prudent about it. To those abroad that are “sad for Scotland,” I say this: the people of Scotland voted. Overwhelmingly they said “nay.”

And, of course, I will remind those American Scots, pining away for a life in a motherland that they do not know and probably have never set foot in, of some other words of Robbie Burns: The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley.

By the Bi — Diving into the Murky Waters of Bisexuality

There’s a good piece in the Times today about bisexuality. It’s not the only place. There’s a piece on Huffington Post, too. Andrew Sullivan also weighed in on The Dish.

What’s up with all the sudden interest in the B in LGBT? My theory is that, in today’s ‘Instagram me, tweet about it, Facebook it, text her’ world, we want to know everything NOW and we don’t want to think about it too deeply because, well, there’s just so much STUFF to know.

So, when some hottie like 19-year-old Olympic diver Tom Daley puts out a video where he says he’s in a relationship with a guy, we ALL have to render an opinion.

And most of these opinions make me nuts. Especially since Daley — like others who have announced different sexual proclivities lately — does not use the word gay or the word bisexual for the word heterosexual. Ay, there’s the old rub! We don’t like that. How can we gossip about something that we can’t put a label on?

“Bisexuality, like chronic fatigue syndrome, is often assumed to be imaginary by those on the outside,” writes Michael Schulman in the New York Times article cited above. What a great line.

When Daley first announced that he was dating a guy but still liked girls a month ago, I wrote the following (more or less):  I believe that it’s a valid point that some people are completely uncomfortable with or do not identify as “gay” or “bisexual” or any other term. We may be at a point in our sociological evolution where traditional definitions of sexuality are beginning — just beginning — to fall away. An awakening of the sexual omnivore? Why not?

And, why do we have to label anything? I mean, if we really believe the sound bite mantra “love is love” then why do we insist on the importance of labeling it? Why does Daley have to be gay or bi? Why can’t he just be in love with another human being?

Screen shot 2014-01-05 at 1.12.53 PM

The Selfie Shared Around the World — Tom Daley and Dustin Lance Black in London in an Instagram that allegedly confirms their relationship.

And Lord, have you paid attention to the gossipy gay media over the last month speculating — and gesticulating wildly — that Daley’s boyfriend is Oscar-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black who is — gasp — 20 years his senior.

So what? Can’t they just be happy? Why does age have to enter into it? All the arguments about age differences are in the same category as the arguments about a catch-all label for sexuality. In spite of whatever else you want to say, both of them are damn good catches!

Now, world, please go do something constructive.

Barilla Pasta Announces ‘Diversity And Inclusion’ Campaign Following Gay Backlash

Italy’s Barilla Pasta came under fire in September when the company’s chairman made comments that sparked a backlash and boycott from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

On Nov. 4, the company made an announcement that seeks to change all of that, telling that public that they would be introducing a Diversity & Inclusion Board to the company and a Global Diversity Officer. In addition, they would participate in the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) Corporate Equality Index.

via Barilla Pasta Announces ‘Diversity And Inclusion’ Campaign Following Gay Backlash.

Screw you, Barilla. Anybody who doesn’t understand the words corporate pandering doesn’t understand what’s going on here.

Greenwald On leaving the Guardian

On leaving the Guardian | Glenn Greenwald | Comment is free |

Glenn Greenwald is leaving Britain’s The Guardian newspaper to begin a new reporting structure with a couple of other journalists. Greenwald, most famous for his access to Edward Snowden and his NSA leaks, is also partner to David Miranda, who was detained while passing through Heathrow Airport earlier this year.

Greenwald, who lives with Miranda in Brazil, is, I believe, one of the great heroes of the free press in the 21st century. I look forward to his next series of adventures.


Out — In Finland!


Petteri Paavola (left) is out teen Elias and Ronny Roslöf is closeted hockey player Lari in the Finnish series Salatut Elämät.

I first wrote about the Finnish soap Salatut Elämät  back at the beginning of January. Since that time, my original post has been read hundreds and hundreds of times (thanks, btw) and is rarely not one of the most viewed pages of the week here on my little cranky corner of the Web.

YouTube user missfinlandia88, who has been captioning the storyline of Elias and Lari that has caught on with English speakers from around the world, informs us that today’s episode — a good soapy cliffhanger — ends the series until it comes back from its annual hiatus in September. For all you “Larias” fans today’s cut from what I call “Lots of Umlauts” will have to tide you over for the summer!

‘Titanic II’ Will Set Sail by 2016 — What the Hell??

‘Titanic II’ Will Set Sail by 2016, Costumes Included.| Mashable

Australian mining billionaire and professor Clive Palmer — and his Blue Star Line company — held a press conference in New York City on Tuesday morning to unveil the new blueprints of the Titanic II, which was first announced in 2012.

Does ANYONE have a good feeling for this? Here’s what I think: the ship Titanic is known for one thing and one thing only. It is etched into the global consciousness as being synonymous with sinking. What’s their new slogan going to be: “This time we may stay afloat??”

A few years ago I was in Inverness, Scotland and we stayed at the Royal Highland Hotel, whose claim to fame is that the staircase there was the inspiration for the grand staircase on H.M.S. Titanic. Nice staircase. Crappy hotel.

Robbie Rogers – U.S. Soccer Player Comes Out

Robbie Rogers Gay: U.S. Soccer Player Comes Out, Steps Away From Sport.

Robbie Rogers. Photo: Wilson Wong/Wikimedia Commons

Robbie Rogers. Photo: Wilson Wong/Wikimedia Commons

Okay. Well, good on Robbie. The next trick is for a pro athlete to come out and people shrug their shoulders and go, “Okay. Whatever.” The victory truly comes when it’s a non-issue.

Still, this is great. I only wish him the best, though I do feel a bit sad that he felt he had to retire to come out.

Eine Kleine Ukulele Muzik

Check this out, courtesy of my BFF, currently snowed-in in New York, who is a big cheese in the opera world. I just LOVE this! Königin der Nacht from Die Zauberflote. (The Queen of the Night aria from Mozart’s The Magic Flute, for all ya’ll ‘Mericans.)

By the way, this ukulele-wielding soprano is Laila Salome Fischer. Awesome!