Los Angeles is a city of great love stories—real and fantasy.  Let me tell you one of them.  After all, February 2016 has Valentine’s Day and Sadie Hawkins’ Day—that every 4 year phenomenon of a 29th day Leap Year.  [In days of yore, on Sadie Hawkins’ Day a woman/girl was permitted to ask a man/guy for a date.  Yes, the world has changed.]

Sadie Hawkins Day was first mentioned in the November 15, 1937 "Li'l Abner" daily strip.

Sadie Hawkins Day was first mentioned in the November 15, 1937 “Li’l Abner” daily strip.

Even in our ‘hook-up’ environment, preliminaries usually begin with a “date”.

A word with multiple meanings, “date” in its simplest form is the fruit of the palm tree (taateli).  Date can mean (treffit) –a potentially romantic meeting between two individuals.  The Internet and all of its iterations has redefined “dating”, but for our purposes we will use its simplest, old-fashioned form where a lady or girl was invited by a gentleman or boy for some alone time with an agreed-upon starting hour, on a specific day, for a shared activity such as a meal, a movie, a concert, or a prom. Both parties played by the same rules hoping to make a romantic connection leading to a possible future relationship—or, at least, another date.  Hollywood made millions on movies of the varieties of good, bad, tragedy, and comedy premises.  My date story is of the ‘50s “… and they lived happily ever after” genre.


But, for an added ‘hook’, there is a palm tree involved!

Our beloved City of Angels is known for its palm trees.  Finns have called it missä palmut huivuu –the place where the palm trees sway.  There are many species of palm trees, but the most prevalent here are the tall coconut and date palms.  If you drive around west LA and Santa Monica, you will see these amazing, tall, skinny ‘towers’ bending and swaying with the wind.  Their supernatural structures endure the Santa Ana winds and other environmental issues in seeming defiance of the laws of nature and physics with a fairly small root structure.  Their inner fortitude seems to say: “I belong here.  I can take it.  I am here to stay.”

Each morning, my first view at first light is of a palm tree across the street.  The palm is probably approaching 150 feet tall, rising majestically above all other trees and landscape in the neighborhood.  Let me tell you the love story behind that palm tree.




Ava Anttila by Jonny Kahleyn Dieb

Many Happy Returns??  Americans have never quite bought into Boxing Day when the rest of the world blatantly returns gifts that “… do not fit” without guilt.  And, to be perfectly honest, I am not anxious for some marketing guru to find the “hook” to get us back into the stores.  I know, the drones are coming –but I really can wait!

The happiest returns of the holiday season—or of any season, always seem to involve a renewed acquaintance, the return of a favor long forgotten, the return to a location with fond memories, or just a chance recollection of times gone by through a serendipity of circumstances for an unknown purpose.  The momentary smile on my face may be the only physical manifestation of a profound experience.  I like that.  It feels good.  Yes, I am Finnish.

As another frantic year draws to a close, our souls recall the beautiful Peace of Finnish Christmas.

024  But

As the distal boom of the old year melds into the crescendo of the year ahead on the ever spinning, ever so busy cycle of life here, recent events have been so fun to look back on with fondness.

A Personal Favorite: Former Finnish President Tarja Halonen’s return to Los Angeles for a major speaking engagement at the World Affairs Council luncheon at Spago was the culmination of this Finn’s ‘season’.  I had been present at her first World Affairs Council speech as Foreign Minister and, now again, as a former Finnish President at the pinnacle of her status as an influential world leader sharing her perspective of times past and present.  I was fortunate to be able to raise a question referencing her answer to one issue raised on her last visit regarding defense of Finland’s border with Russia.  It was fun to recollect on years past from old and new perspectives.


Finnish Concert Mass in Santa Monica on September 7th, 2014

Finnish Concert Mass in Santa Monica on September 7th, 2014 featuring Gospel Star Pekka Simojoki, Music Director Terhi Miikki-Broersma, Concert Pianist Ruusamari Teppo and Pastor Jarmo Tarkki and the. What an absolute treat!

Pekka Simojoen lisäksi workshopissa sekä messussa ovat mukana pastori Jarmo Tarkki, kanttori Terhi Miikki-Broersma ja Dallasin kirkkomuusikko, pianotaitelija Ruusamari Teppo. Jos olet Sibelius-fan, niin tiedoksesi: Ruusamari on Jean Sibeliuksen tyttärentyttärentytär!




Pastor Jarmo Tarkki

Pastor Jarmo Tarkki

What does Easter mean? What does it mean to you? The answers to these questions are not necessarily the same.

Christian Easter refers to the resurrection of Jesus on Easter morning.

Bible’s four Gospels all report the same event, but each in a slightly different way. For example, who were the first Easter morning named guests at the tomb of Jesus?

According to Matthew, Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary”, according to Mark, Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome, according to Luke, Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and according to John, Mary Magdalene.

All four gospels mention that Mary Magdalene was at the tomb on Easter morning. For the other women, the stories are different.
This is, of course, a challenge, the reports are not identical. These texts cannot be harmonized. Is the Bible therefore worthless?

The Lutheran church is not fundamentalist, that is, Lutherans do not believe in the Bible literally. Lutherans take the Bible seriously, but not literally.

The Easter morning reports contain so-called “mythos” material, the stories seem to refer to an important issue without a great deal of concern about the details. Easter message is not in its literal description, but in its meaning.

Easter for Christians is a celebration of life and hope. The physical body of Jesus hung on the cross, Jesus life’s work rose from the dead. Paul describes the church as the body of Christ – it is the resurrection. Good Friday’s immense sorrow is turned into Easter morning’s jubilating joy. Jesus’ disciples left grief behind them and they became bold preachers of the gospel. Jesus is alive, the Roman mighty empire could not defeat him.

What does Easter mean to you?

You are most welcome to Easter worship service

Jarmo Tarkki
Pastor, Finnish Lutheran Church of California and Texas

Come to hear the rest of the Easter message on Sunday, March 24, Incarnation Lutheran Church, Poway, 16889 Espola Rd., Poway, CA. We will begin our worship service at 4 p.m., followed by coffee.



Mitä pääsiäinen merkitsee? Mitä se merkitsee sinulle? Vastaukset näihin eivät välttämättä ole samat.

Kristillinen pääsiäinen viittaa Jeesuksen ylösnousemukseen pääsiäisaamuna.

Raamatun neljä evankeliumia kertovat kaikki samasta tapahtumasta mutta jokainen hiukan eri tavalla. Esimerkiksi, ketkä olivat pääsiäisaamun ensimmäiset nimeltä mainitut vieraat Jeesuksen haudalla?

Matteuksen mukaan Magdalan Maria ja ”se toinen Maria”, Markuksen mukaan Magdalan Maria, Jaakobin äiti Maria ja Salome, Luukkaan mukaan Magdalan Maria, Johanna ja Jaakobin äiti Maria, Johanneksen mukaan Magdalan Maria.

Kaikissa neljässä evankeliumissa kerrotaan Magdalan Marian olleen haudalla pääsiäisaamuna. Muiden naisten osalta kertomukset ovat erilaiset.

Tämä on tietysti haaste, kertomukset eivät ole yhtenevät. Näitä tekstejä ei voi harmonisoida. Onko Raamattu siis arvoton?

Luterilainen kirkko ei ole fundamentalistinen, ts. luterilaiset eivät usko Raamattuun kirjaimellisesti. Luterilaiset ottavat Raamatun vakavasti, eivät kirjaimellisesti.

Ylösnousemuskertomus sisältää ns. ”mythos” –aineistoa, kertomuksilla näytetään viittaavan johonkin tärkeään asiaan ilman suurta huolta yksityiskohdista. Pääsiäisen sanoma ei ole kirjaimellisessa kuvauksessa, vaan sen merkityksessä.

Pääsiäinen on uuden elämän ja toivon juhla. Jeesuksen fyysinen ruumis roikkui ristillä, Jeesuksen elämäntyö nousi kuolleista. Paavali kuvaa kirkkoa Kristuksen ruumiina – siinä on ylösnousemus. Pitkäperjantain suunnaton suru on kääntynyt pääsiäisaamun riemukkaaksi iloksi. Suuren pelon vallassa olleet Jeesuksen oppilaat panivat surun taakseen ja heistä tuli sinnittömän rohkeita evankeliumin julistajia. Jeesus elää, Rooman mahtava valtakunta ei voinut kukistaa häntä.

Mitä pääsiäinen merkitsee sinulle?

Sydämellisesti tervetuloa pääsiäismessuun,
Jarmo Tarkki
Kalifornian ja Teksasin Suomikirkon siirtolaispappi


Tervetuloa sunnuntaina, maaliskuun 24. päivänä suomalaiselle kirkolle, Incarnation Lutheran Church, Poway, 16889 Espola Rd., Poway, CA.  Aloitamme messun klo 16.00, jonka jälkeen kirkkokahvit.



Dr. Professor’s Thesis of Evil got its Hollywood premiere.


The Finnish trio from Oulu, Jukka Vidgren, Juuso Laatio and Petteri Staven recently visited Hollywood, where their 35-minute short film Dr. Professor’s Thesis of Evil was shown at the L.A. Short Film Festival. I sat down with the men to discuss their movie, which they describe as a dark comedy.

All the men hail from the northern city of Oulu, which in the last decade has emerged as a high tech hub. Petteri works at Nokia as a motion designer. Juuso and Jukka have a production company – they make commercials and music videos.


Jukka Vidgren, Juuso Laatio, Petteri Staven, Juha Nieminen

Where did you meet each other?

“Juuso and I were media students at Oulu University. Juuso is more into graphics design, photography and I am more into producing. We knew each other way back from school. This film actually started as our final thesis for the university, but it grew from there to a full-blown indie production” director Jukka Vidgren, 29, says.

“We made it with a technique called “motion novel”. We took photographs of our actors, made backgrounds with computer graphics and then blended them together, added sound effects, voiceover and music. It’s a new kind of a narrative technique,” Vidgren explains.

In other words, the actors in the film are presented as still images and the movement is limited to other elements, such as smoke, fire and other special effects.

Do you have to be an actor in a motion novel?

“Yes, it’s a still image, in which you have to convey a specific emotion. You only get one frame to cover a whole lot of dialogue.”

Where did you find your actors?

“Here and there. We had to use actors whom we knew. The villain is played by Pentti Korhonen. He is an actor in the Theater of Oulu. The others were students and other people we knew.”


The voice actors were cast in Canada and the U.S.. They were compensated for their work with a grant from the Finnish Film Foundation. In addition to that, they collected 8,000 euros from crowd funding.


Director Jukka Vidgren in front of the Graumann’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood.

What is your movie about?

“It’s like a superhero story with a super villain. The film is about a super villain, who is the most successful and known super villain in the world – Dr. Professor. He is trying to take over the world. Our hero is Alphaman, a superman kind of a figure, who is trying to destroy Dr. Professor’s plans.”

The idea reminds me of another new Finnish sci-fi movie, Iron Sky – why is that genre so popular in Finland right now?

“Genre films in general are getting big in Finland. Sci-fi is one of them. I don’t know if I would categorize our film as a sci-fi movie – it’s a fantasy film. We have had very few genre movies of any kind in the past – action, sci-fi or fantasy. They appeal to our generation of filmmakers, who were born in the early 1980’s,” Jukka Vidgren believes.

How long did it take you to make this movie?

“About two and a half years. We had a small team of ten people and only ten days to shoot in the studio with actors. The post-production took about a year and a half.”

The title Dr. Professor’s Thesis of Evil was Juuso Laatio’s idea. He also served as the director of photography.

“I took all the pictures and did about 95% of the photoshop –keying the characters from backgrounds and doing all the color work and stuff. Petteri did the moving parts and there were many other people involved as well,” Laatio, 31, specifies.

Petteri Staven’s job title is motion visualist.

“I took the layers of the photoshop, which Juuso did and processed them in the after effects, which is also an Adobe product, so it was easy. The movement was not based on characters but smoke, fire and gunshots,” Staven, 27, explains.

How did you get to the LA Short Film Festival?

“We submitted our movie and it was accepted. It was pretty awesome, because we get to attend the opening night with some pretty big names and studios, like Marvel. We had conversations with other filmmakers and industry insiders,” Jukka Vidgren reveals.


Thesis of Evil is available on iTunes.

The filmmakers are already working on their next film, which is going to be a feature film. You can buy Thesis of Evil on iTunes for $1.99.

For more info go to:


Juha Nieminen started his space studies at USC.


32-year-old M.Sc. Juha Nieminen was inspired by space after reading the recently deceased Neil Armstrong’s memoirs. This fall he began to study for a space technology Master’s degree in Space Technology at the prestigious University of Southern California, USC. He immediately joined the university’s hockey team. Thus, the first Finnish person whom he met in LA was the hockey player Saku Koivu. So far, the students have been lectured by Virgin Galactic’s president and an Apollo astronaut. About 1,500 foreign students at USC study space technology – the vast majority of them Chinese and Indian. Juha’s focus is the design of a new generation rocket engine. After graduation, Juha is allowed to work in the U.S. for a year. He would like to get a job in his field in Southern California, a hub for start-up space companies. Juha dreams of being able to travel in space one day. Meanwhile, the rocket man gets around on his bicycle, as he doesn’t have a car yet.


Juha Nieminen at USC


Beautiful, slim, dark and fiery Marjo-Riikka Mäkelä is a Karelian girl from  Lappeenranta, Eastern Finland. She studied drama in Århus, Denmark, as well as in Moscow and Amsterdam. MR arrived in the United States in 2004. Five years ago she graduated from Long Beach State University with a Master’s in Drama.  She was married for a while but has since divorced. At school actor-colleagues used to turn to her for help in different scenes, for she was able to shed tears at command and live each part to the fullest. So teaching came to her naturally. Today, Marjo-Riikka, 41, teaches in two drama schools in Los Angeles. She also has private students, and occasionally gives drama courses at various universities. Each week, she teaches about a hundred actors.


Marjo-Riikka Mäkelä teaches acting at the Chekhov Studio International.

The average person might think it is enough when an actor learns his lines, puts on a costume and then tries to bring the character alive. But as any professional, an actor needs tools to accomplish this. According to Marjo-Riikka, an actor is an explorer of humanity. She teaches Michael (Mikhail), Chekhov’s acting technique. This Chekhov was Russian playwright Anton Chekhov’s nephew, who moved to the U.S. after the Russian revolution. Marilyn Monroe, Yul Brynner, and Robert Stack used his technique. Clint Eastwood is one of the living disciples of it. In short, the technique stresses empathizing with the character and learning different emotions kinetically. As a result, the learning process is physical.


Marjo-Riikka takes a physical approach to drama coaching.

On a recent Sunday I got to attend a rehearsal Marjo-Riikka gave at the Chekhov Studio International. There were 10 students attending – seven women and three men – the vast majority of them young adults in their twenties and thirties. The venue was a dance studio with mirrored walls and bars. The students wore track suits and and were working bare-footed.  A random visitor could well have mistaken these for dance rehearsals. The session was very physical indeed – breathing exercises, throwing a ball back and forth with one’s acting partner and taking steps back and forth while reciting lines. The students were rehearsing a new play about Marilyn Monroe and the Kennedy clan. I even saw a Spanish-speaking Marilyn! She was played by a  Chilean girl, who spoke her lines in Spanish. Middle-aged Roxette Wilson is already a successful actor in her native Australia. She is taking lessons from Marjo-Riikka in order to keep her skills sharp. Marjo-Riikka’s courses last for four to ten weeks.  This was an intensive course and she was preparing to start a master class. Next January Marjo-Riikka Mäkelä will take a breather from teaching to appear in a movie that will be shot in Brazil called the Star and the Cross.


Pastor Jarmo Tarkki is formally installed as the new pastor of the Finnish Lutheran congregation in the Western United States.


The Lutheran Church of California and Texas invite you to the installation service of Pastor Jarmo Tarkki, PhD. The service takes place at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, 958 Lincoln Blvd,Santa Monica, on Sunday, October 21, at 2:00pm.