Whole lotta handshakin' goin' on

I'd like to take this moment to consider the chief downside to Finland's independence.

I'm of course talking about the Independence Day reception at the Presidential Palace, also known as the most repetitive television program in the history of ever. For those fortunate enough to never have seen it, it consists of a few thousand handshakes followed by riveting footage of hundreds of people milling about in a few tightly packed rooms as the band plays nothing to which you should pay attention. During breaks in the music, some guests are asked pointless questions to which they give blandly patriotic answers.

You can try to adopt an ironic attitude toward the spectacle and make quips about the guests' clothes and hair styles, but the interminable proceedings will beat even the most hardy wit into catatonic submission. Were I to draft an indictment of Finnish culture, the high ratings enjoyed by the reception year after year would be exhibit one. There's no way you can watch the world's stiffest conga line crawl past the presidential couple, all tight smiles and empty patter, without your soul departing your body as a protest over your failure to find less tortuous viewing, like MADE, for example.

It's quite dull, is what I'm saying.

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