Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Quotation of the week

Nicked from a t shirt:

Engineering forsight: An escalator can never break. It can
only become stairs.

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Eurovision Live Blog

[Scroll down for the exciting minute by minute account...!]

Going to try a spot of real-time blogging and see if I can match Terry Wogan jibe for jibe.

The Eurovision Song Contest is one of my guilty pleasures. Musically, it really bears little resemblance to the kind of thing I listen to normally, but there's just something about the whole bonkers spectacle that has me hooked. I was out of the country for last year's competition but still managed to persuade my companions to watch pretty much the whole thing on the TV in the hotel lobby. We got some very strange looks.

Who do I think will win? Not a clue. I didn't see the semi finals, so I have no idea what the competition will comprise, save for the fact that Dustin the Turkey (representing Ireland) has been eliminated already. The UK doesn't stand a chance. The three main contenders for our place were all good - Simona had the Euro-quirkiness, Michelle Gayle had all the poppy sparkle of Gina G, and Andy Abraham's song was just good honest soul/pop. But non of them would have finished in the top 10, because whereas we still champion Eurovision as an outlet for camp cheesy goodness, the rest of Europe seems to view it as either (i) a political love-in or (ii) a showcase for allegedly serious music. Which is why, for me, Scooch's catchy-innuendo-laden-naff-costumes-ooh-look-there's-a-cheesy-dance-routine entry last year was absolutely perfect, but the rest of Europe placed it 22nd out of 24.

Ah well. Let the fun commence...

20:01 Terry describes last year's winner as being like a 'badly tempered Jeanette Cranky'. I'd go for a 'Harry Potter gone wrong' myself.

20:03 I really can't imagine the wardrobe department being able to find another use for a dozen 'half-bride-half-groom' costumes. What a waste.

20:07 Having a flesh coloured face mic doesn't disguise it if it's so large it looks like you've dozed off on a bag of cotton wool.

20:09 Romania are going for 'serious and earnest'. Ooh, no they're not, they've suddenly switched to a grittier backing track and a female vocalist. Blimey, this is a messy excuse for a song.

20:11 Not sure I'm totally convinced by their Enrique Iglesis/Carol Vorderman duo either.

20:13 Ooh, it's us! Didn't check the running order.

20:16 Funky, fun, catchy, uplifting and well performed (possibly in one of Cliff Richard's old suits). Doesn't stand a chance.

20:17 Onto Albania. Terry: 'A pleasing view of the first belly button of the evening'. Not totally sure about her tuning, but coming from the country that spawned Jemini, I can hardly criticise. Almighty great wind machine they've got there.

20:20 They might be in with a chance, based on previous years.

20:21 Germany. Going for the Sugababes approach.

20:23 Nice costumes, pretty girls, but - ouch, those harmonies. Not good.

I don't know what's sadder: (i) I'm watching this. (ii) I'm doing so alone (iii) I'm bothering to live blog.

20:24 Armenia. Ah so that's what dancers are for - to enable you to move like a weeble.

20:27 Good Euro-pop. A contender in my book, but I'm not sure if it's too musically reminiscent of where Eurovision was at a few years ago. But a spirited performance.

20:29 Bosnia & Herzegovina. Terry: "Four knitted brides of Frankenstien and a loony with a clothes line." Yep, that sums it up. The kind of thing that gives Eurovision a bad name. Well, worse than usual, anyhow...

20:31 Ah, so that's what Helena Bonham Carter's been up to lately.

20:33 Israel, that well known member of the EU. Written by Dana International, so a good pedigree.

20:35 Disappointingly bland, but ticks enough boxes to be in the running I suppose.

20:37 Finland. Justin Hawkins, who failed to win to UK's contest last year, seems to have moved to Scandinavia. It's not really what I think of when contemplating Eurovision, but then Lordi won it, so who am I to judge?

20:41 Croatia Terry: "Men in hats and a grumpy old man". He really is very old. Actually this isn't bad, in a very European way. But it does remind me strongly of something - can't think what though.

20:43 The grumpy old man rant and the red dancer would probably make a lot more sense if I spoke Croatian. Ah well.

20:45 Poland Terry: "A Polish Lovely whose time has been well spent on a sunbed... you haven't seen teeth like this since the Osmonds."

20:46 On reflection, live-blogging seems a little futile when Terry can deliver such gems. I can't think of anything else to say. MOR ballad, probably forgettably by the end of the night.

20:49 Iceland. Euro techno pop. Cheesy in a safe way. Suitably life-affirming lyrics. Woman wearing a dead ostrich. What more do you want? Probable contender.

20:55 Turkey. Ok, but I'm not sure who it's aimed at. Can't even work out whether it's a love song/political thing/angry rant.

20:56 Female host looks like Cat Deeley in a foil emergency blanket.

20:59 Portugal. Terry: "This is not over when this lady has sung" Meow.

21:01 Not sure about the male backing singers in Karate suits. Very Euro-ballady. Not my cup of tea but could be in with a chance. Ooh, there goes the wind machine again.

21:03 Latvia. Ooh, pirates. Lots of them.

21:04 Brilliant. All the cheesy goodness, catchy hooks, costumes and dancing that Scooch had, but with the added advantage of not being hated by the rest of Europe. All together now: "With a hi hi ho and a hi hi hey we're hoisting a flag to be free...."

21:07 Sweden. Has my telly gone odd or is she in black and white?

21:08 Jocelyn Wildenstein in Gina G's dress. Quite average.

21:10 Terry's commentary on the Danish ident was hilarious. Will have to find it on Youtube.

21:11 Denmark. This is cheery and uncomplicated. Sufficiently uplifting for Eurovision - will it suffer from lack of gimmicks though?

21:14 Georgia. Did one of the backing dancers really have two fingers up at one of her fellows? Bet the singer whips off the sunglasses.

21:16 A call for peace is always a good Euro lyric. I was wrong - the glasses remained but the costumes switched from black to white.

21:18 Ukraine. Terry reckons it's a potential winner. Very visually distinctive from the other entries. Catchy high energy pop. He could be right.

21:21 Female host now sponsored by Interflora

21:23 France Women in fake beards and a golf cart. What every song needs.

21:24 Despite the fact that the French have broken a long held disdain for singing in English, I really cannot tell you what this is all about. Unfathomable.

21:26 Azerbaijan. Men with scary screechy falsetto voices should think carefully before deploying them in a public place.

21:28 They've clearly read the Eurovision manual. Random costumes - check. Gender bending vocals - check. Lots of drama with no plot - check. Not sure it's worked though.

21:31 Greece. Quite poppy, but more in a chart way than a Eurovision way. Ooh, we've suddenly acquired a flower garden. And oh look, a costume change. That's never been done before, no sireee

21:34 Spain are obviously going for the 'if you can't beat them, at least give some of the residents of the asylum a night out' approach. Backing dancers presumably considering this to be an all term career low.

21:36 I think it's supposed to be a spoof. Of something. Not sure what. The 'pretending to be crap' backing dancer is getting a bit annoying.

21:38 Serbia. They like their heartfelt ballads, don't they?

21:42 Russia. Terry makes his first political voting dig.

21:45 Oh my goodness, Terry was right. They really have got Michael Flatley on ice skates.

21:47 Norway Inter-EST-ing diction. Actually, not a bad song, but pretty forgettable compared with a lot of the others.

21:51 Phew! Glad for the break. Looking at the recap, here's my nominations:

Best costume change Georgia
Most Bonkers Bosnia or Spain
Worst Tuning Albania
Good spirited fun - Latvia and Croatia
Hairiest Finland (or France's backing singers)
Most straightforward pop effort Iceland and Greece
Most judicial use of wind machine Albania Portugal
Worst Plastic Surgery Sweden
Happiest ditty Denmark
Trying to tick too many Eurovision Boxes Azerbaijan
Most likely to fail for political reasons UK

And my vote goes to... Croatia, Lativa, Denmark, or Ukraine. Not sure who will actually win though.

22:17 Peculiar Green Room lady seems to have mugged a peacock for its eyelashes.

22:21 Eh? Did I miss something? How come our voting came first? And why do we only get to see the top three placed votes from each country? Surely that goes against the glorious torture of running through every single flipping vote from the 43 countries involved.

I shall have to find out the full score breakdown from the UK. If the glimpse I caught was right, I think Spain managed to get a point out of us. UK viewers are clearly taking this very seriously.

22:26 We're one of only three countries with nul points so far. Go figure.

22:28 Yay! San Merino like us. There had to be someone.

22:33 Disappointed that Russia are doing so well - I thought it was rather bland - all I can remember about it was the ice skater.

22:40 Ok, I know everyone hates us but surely the rubbish that came from Spain and Bosnia does not deserve to come higher than us.

22:51 Turkey have Leticia Dean presenting their points. Still nothing for us. Of the top four I rate Armenia and Ukraine - Russia bored me. Greece was ok, but I don't know what makes it better than everything else.

22:53 I must say, Malta can always be relied on for not being totally caught up in voting for the politically popular countries. They even vote for us some years.

22:54 Ah I love the Irish - they gave us 8 points, and gave their 12 to one of my favourites - Latvia. Good voting, Ireland!

23:01 I've got it! I know what the Latvian entry reminds me of. There's a song called Looking High High High (Looking high, high, high/ Looking low, low, low/Wondering why, why, why/ Did she go, go, go?). Which, through the power of Google, I can now tell you came 2nd in Eurovision in 1960.

Fewer people hated us then. I blame Tony Blair.

23:06 So, Russia have won it with a lead of 42 points. We came last. Eurovision isn't as much fun as it used to be in my youth.

Au revoir Serbia. See you next year Russia.

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Breaking News: Prize Winning Author Has Limited Vocabulary.

Obviously, the Nobel Prize winning author, Doris Lessing, has yet to learn the meaning of the word 'no'.

Isn't that what agents are for?

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Humorous Interlude

Couple of amusing things I've come across today.

Firstly, via Blogs of Note, I present for your amusement Photoshop Disasters. More laugh-out-loud moments per page than your average blog. (Warning: some nudity. Well, sort of. Or not. You'll see what I mean).

Secondly, cos I haven't quite moved on, Facts about Boris. Personal favourites:

When you wait half an hour for a bus that's supposed to come every five
minutes, and three come along at once, THAT'S BORIS JOHNSON.
Boris Johnson steals odd socks from your washing machine.
Boris Johnson framed Angus Deayton.
Boris Johnson uses the London Underground to blow-dry his hair.
Boris Johnson makes you think you left the gas on.
All very true, I'm sure.

Sunday, 4 May 2008

A Mature Response

Still struggling to come to terms with the implications of the election result, I decided to channel my energies into a mature and deep response. Then I decided to ditch that idea, and convey my dissatifaction in the medium of lolcat-ese.

With thanks/apologies to lewishamdreamer and koltregaskes, whose Creative Commons licensed photos I modified.

Saturday, 3 May 2008

Deep breaths

Okay, getting over the initial shock (which wasn't a total shock really, based on the wisps of info that have been emerging through the day), here are some thoughts about the results in general:

  • Deeply frustrated at the outcome, but had been bracing myself for it for a couple of days now. Still, finding it hard to work out what 1.17m people think he has to offer them for the next four years.
  • Will be interested to see what proportion of second preference votes Brian Paddick got. I wouldn't be surprised if it was bigger than his first preference proportion.
  • Delighted that Sian Berry got so many votes. I'm hoping that the Greens get at least a couple of seats in the assembly. She was a really decent outside candidate, and I hope she gets to have some role in the London Assembly.
  • Really worried that the BNP managed to come fifth, with quite a chunk of votes. Desperately hoping they don't get any assembly seats.
  • Still not convinced of the value of independent candidates standing for this kind of election. I've only just got around to finding out who Winston McKenzie is. Seems to be a serial electioneer, having been associated with a marvellously contradictory range of parties.
  • Disappointed that the BBC cut the coverage just as Sian was starting her speech, but I guess if they'd broadcast her, then they'd have had to broadcast some other people who should probably not get air time.
  • Intrigued by the heavy thanking of the Police early in the speeches of the three main candidates. Was there trouble anticipated?
  • Wondering how much the rest of the UK are laughing at us right now.
  • I've never been an Evening Standard reader, and I'm certainly not going to start now.

And the winner is...


I may have to go into exile for the next four years :'(

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