Olli Toivanen's house of horrors


Take up one's free time. Any books will do; also, lolcats do consume one's stray minutes. These few do recur: interest in weird, unusual, creepy and nonsensical things, Japan, anime and manga, Tolkien and Lovecraft, Internet-neepery and meme-appreciation, general amateur-level geekiness and computer-cruftery, science fanboyism, humor, and humor appreciation.

Also beard growing and ice tea appreciation.

I don't care about pop music; I hear so little of it I actually like auto-tune. I aggressively avoid sport news; it's good exercise but not interesting entertainment. (Well, to me. Other people have no brainstemsdifferent tastes.) Also, American Gladiators, strongman contests, elimination shows with water obstacles and outrageous Japanese game shows: that's how you do sport for entertainment. But generally speaking I don't watch TV since I have Youtube and DVDs.


If it is Japanese, I am 50% more likely to be interested in it. Does not matter what it is.

I speak enough Japanese to convince anyone with no knowledge of it that I do; I'm totally wakarimasen!

About Japanese history, customs, habits and the like I am interested, and usually find a weirdly great amount of happiness in; but you shouldn't take that to mean I actually have any deep or even moderate knowledge or understanding of them.

And anime and manga, I do love them, but there are so many and there is so little time. I got started with Ranma ½. I mostly devour the usual Bleach-Fullmetal Alchemist-Naruto line, but anything goes, from Magic Knight Rayearth to Waita Uziga. (Er, don't google that at work.)

The best manga and anime ever, of all time, incidentally, are Azumanga Daioh; this is not up to negotiation.

Also, as the opinion of someone who came to it when thirty, be-bearded and jaded and male: Sailor Moon is excellently lovely. (This applies both to the original anime, and the new Crystal.)

Tolkien and Lovecraft

J.R.R. Tolkien wrote the Lord of the Rings and did a wee bit of worldbuilding. Curiously enough, that was not worldbuilding as it's commonly done nowadays: I don't think we know how many elves there lived in Menegroth, or who exactly was included in the inner councils of Fëanor, or how many miles it is from Barad-Dûr to Orodruin; but Tolkien did plenty of myth-building.

The History of Middle-Earth series: I have read it. Or I think I have. I've read most of the individual books, certainly; of most of them I don't have a clear memory. Happens when you space it over ten years; at the end of it you don't remember how well you read the first ones you had, and you're anyway pretty sure you were incapable of understanding them properly then anyway.

H.P. Lovecraft wrote horror stories where people go mad because the universe is not out to get them; the universe just wheels along right over them. I have Joshi's Lovecraft biography on my nightdesk and some H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast on my mp3 player.

Also, I do know Lovecraft was a racist; the way to react to this isn't denial but learning how to be a fan of problematic things made by problematic people. (I would say something quasi-philosophical like “nobody's perfect!” here but it would sound too much like making excuses for racism.)

Nerd pride

Most of the other geek-nerd subjects are a go, too. SF/F, worldbuilding, lolcat appreciation, Linux (I'm a newbie), e-readers and e-books, all kinds of stuff; if only the audience is small enough, I'm probably in it. If only it is the sort of thing that has intense intellectual detail in it… I've probably felt interest towards it, or soon will.

I recommend Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the Lies of Locke Lamora, the books of Charles Stross, Doctor Who, and Babylon 5.

Humor / humour / hummor

So spelled for the Americans, the Brits, and those with bad spelling.

The world will either make you laugh, or it will make you cry. That's the world's way, and your only choice is between those two. I prefer laughing.

To keep laughing, to keep looking at the world with a crooked smile on my face, the following people are helpful: George Carlin, Bill Hicks, Dara O'Briain, Kiyohiko Azuma, Rumiko Takahashi, Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams, Tom Smith, and Monty Python. If you see anything any of them has made, get it; your day will be made better.


I do maths; maths isn't a science, much less a natural science, but something like a game, or an art. As that art has plenty of nice applications in the real world, I tend to be a bit of a cheerleader for those people and causes that fight for a clearer view of the world as it is.

Which then means that if you take The Selfish Gene, The God Delusion, A Demon-Haunted World, How To Lie With Statistics, Reclaiming History and Misquoting Jesus, you won't find much that I disagree about, and you will find plenty that I rather care a lot about.

The world is pretty and breathtaking enough as it is, without gnomes in the garden and angels behind your chimney. Star furnaces burn in the billion-year-old skies, and have belched out the atoms that make you and me, and one day will be something entirely else, not disappearing until the slow yawning gulf of immense age grinds them apart; we are star-stuff and we are machines of accident in a vast cosmos with no imperatives save our own will; no religion or fantasy is as grand as reality, and reality happens to be real, too!

I'm no good with words; go google for a lecture by Neil deGrasse Tyson, or get a Richard Dawkins book or watch Cosmos by Carl Sagan (or the newer one by deGrasse Tyson) or the Ascent of Man by Jacob Bronowski; there are a lot of ways to enjoy the joy of understanding.