I’ve only got a couple of pictures to share and not much to tell about this, the fifteenth official book-release party held at Bar Äijä’s. We’re getting steadily better and better at organising these things, and by now it’s a pretty smooth cookie-cutter action. Still couldn’t have been done without the amazing fortitude and assistance of Mrs. Hatboy and, in this case, Guest of Honour Bella “Babellum” Palokas. So thanks up front for their efforts.
 Although I will mention that I think this was the first time someone actually asked why there’s an apostrophe in that.
And where’s the apostrophe in – oh I see what they did there.
It was a good crowd, mixing the best elements of my actual readership (ie. Kristiina) with the best of the worst (Heikki), and adding a smattering of new blood (mostly Scottish, and I appreciate them having a good sense of humour about, for example, the kantarelli mushroom schnapps they were encouraged to taste) and old favourites.
I will award joint Best On Ground Award to three people this time: To Mrs. Hatboy for handling the civilised side of things (and making some effort to keep four kids alive while I was slinging suds); to Heikki for long-time exceptional guest conduct and being a superior bartender while I was outside putting out laughing and clapping my hands at fires; and to Jean for actually, you know, talking to me about the books, which was nice. One day, sir, we will make that game you insist on talking about only after twelve vodkas, not a single vodka less.
Special thanks to everyone who brought drinks and snacks, especially Chairman Dave of the Finnish Scottish Society who added his usual generous and wonderfully-prepared meat to the groaning table.
 It’s a Scottish recipe.
Kristiina, as mentioned, was also a cherished guest and once again carried away the trophy for the traditional pub quiz. I will try to photograph or scan some of the pictures for later posting, the Free-form Art section of the quiz is really bringing out the best in our patrons and adds a fun visual element. So yes, Kristiina won the quiz by a broad margin, and her other half Heikki won the award he has apparently been going for and winning ever since we started this – specifically, the worst score. I propose that we call this the Heikki Ahonen Memorial (To Me) Trophy. When he goes from being dead to me to actually being dead, we can take the “(To Me)” out of the name.
I kid. Heikki did excellently (or in this case excellently badly), actually managing to get level scores with Ossi after a fortunate rethinking of one of his answers at the last minute (he very nearly got it right!). I’m awarding it to Heikki for three reasons, however: firstly because it was easier to provide the prize for best answers and worst answers (especially since the worst-answers prize was quite a bit cooler than the best-answers one) to people who occasionally live in the same house; and secondly because Ossi cheated and brought an extra person to help him with the quiz. A person who’d never even met me before. This, I consider to be the equivalent of a performance-enhancing drug in Heikki Ahonen Memorial (To Me) Trophy terms. Oh, and thirdly, the award is named after him so in the event of ties, he wins. New rule.
Quiz_panda-egg is here for anyone who wants to try to beat the 18-out-of-a-possible-26 Kristiina scored. I can’t remember how much of that she made up in the art section, but that was a maximum of 10 and I think it was a dump section for her. She got most of her points on actually knowing things.
Heikki generously donated his part of the prize to the bar, saying (and I quote) “we already have too much crap filling up our place and Kristiina keeps her prizes so that’s more than enough.”
We had bread and dips, I thoughtfully failed to recreate any trakk, we were too poor to recreate Zaz Burgers (although hoco grenades may have been possible with the excellent wasabi Linza and Jesse brought with them), and I didn’t have the heart to make steamer wine although The Pas came close. And of course Mrs. Hatboy and her sister made a sushi-panda army. Pandamonium ensued!
Add wasabi and they could be panda-hoco grenades?
A greatly successful party it was. As I hinted earlier, The Pas brought his own special offering, some sort of horrible thing called a queimada. It had cinnamon, coffee beans, sugar, lemon peel and it’s meant to be made in a hollow pumpkin but we didn’t have one so we did it in a pot. The Pas then ransacked our cupboards for “the cheapest looking cups” he could find that would be okay to “put fire in”. Fortunately my mother-in-law and I were there to put back the Portmeirion china and substitute it with some actually cheap cups. Nothing was actually fire-damaged, though. And it did look cool as Hell as he ladled it, still burning, into cups. I’m sure pictures and videos were taken. I’m stunned nobody was injured.
The resulting brew, possibly because he didn’t recite the spell properly, was … just appalling. It smelled very nice and had a pleasant aftertaste that made you go back for more unless you really forced yourself to stop, though. Just the moment of drinking it was bad. Still, it was new and exciting and much appreciated. We filtered out all the coffee beans and lemon peel and poured all the leftovers into a bottle once everyone had enjoyed a half-cup or so, and The Pas drank that for the rest of the night.
He should probably have not done that.
The evening continued to the wee small hours. The Pas finished his queimada and started demanding other drinks, and I was forced to cut him off when he got slappy.
He also got in Wump’s face, and she took a photo of him and threatened to send it to people he knew. She cropped it and sent a piece of it to me to show she wasn’t fucking around. He muttered curses and left her alone after that. True story.
By the end of the night it was me, Jean and Kate, listening to a mid-90’s Triple-J Hottest 100 CD and trying to stop The Pas from doing barrel-rolls onto the couches and against the bar wall. I managed to appeal to his sense of logic that if the couch hit the wall hard enough, my wife and kids would wake up inside the house and he’d get in huge trouble, and I told him about the last person who’d necessitated Mrs. Hatboy’s personal intervention and why we now have a NO ROCKABILLIES sign. I also pointed out that the cans on the wall are not particularly well blu-tacked in place, and they could come off very easily and bury us all.
He acknowledged that these were all really great reasons, but also admitted that he genuinely did want to still barrel-roll. He only did it a couple of times though, and I’m pleased to report that he’s sore today.
They all took a taxi home at about 03:00, and I made a bit of a start on the cleaning up before finally collapsing. Woke up with far less of a hangover than I deserved, and cannot overstate my admiration for Mrs. Hatboy who took the girls on a cross-country driving trip to visit relatives all day while I lounged around at home. I mean, continued cleaning up.
 The Pas actually vanished while Kate was calling a taxi, and after I’d pleaded with them to take him with them back into Helsinki we looked around and were like “where did he go?” … apparently he had hiked off towards the main road, and when I called him he declared that he was getting a bus. I told him bus service to Sotunki had ended four hours ago and wouldn’t start again for another five, so the only bus that was going to pick him up was the late-night hillbilly rapist gang bus, and to come back and take the taxi which should be arriving at any moment. At that moment the taxi pulled onto our road, and The Pas tried to attack it. But we managed to talk him down and get him to sit inside the taxi and drive away.
Getting better at mess management too, actually.
The dice were rolled, shots were poured, stupid ideas were bandied about and some were even implemented. All in all, it was a most excellent launch. Thank you to all who attended, and let’s strap in and get ready for the next one!