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Eurovision Semi-Final #2 2015

There were fewer pieces I felt strongly about in the second semi-final, even if one more country was competing for the same number of places as on Tuesday.

Second semi-final comments...Collapse )

Voting: You'll be glad to know the BBC saved money by re-using the existing recordings of Graham Norton saying the names of all the countries. Even though he's not hosting this year. (Or at least hasn't been co-hosting the semis.)

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Eurovision Semi-Final #1, 2015

Notes on Eurovision Semi-Final #1 (Spoilers, for any of you who want to watch it still and don't know who's gone through to the final)

Hurray, four female-presenting hosts! Surely that's a first for Eurovision?

The following is in alphabetical order, not performance order.

Semi-final entries....Collapse )

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I'm a little tea pot

I realized yesterday that none of the local baby/toddler song groups I've been going to for the last several years has done "I'm a little teapot." And yet I *know* I know at least a couple of UK natives who know it, having heard them use it before.

Poll #2011574 Tea pot

Are these the lyrics you know?

I'm a little tea pot
62(16.1%)
Short and stout
62(16.1%)
Here is my handle
57(14.8%)
Here is my spout
58(15.0%)
When I get all steamed up
20(5.2%)
Hear me shout
43(11.1%)
Tip me over
33(8.5%)
and pour me out.
51(13.2%)

A history of teapots

I grew up in the UK with this song.
36(51.4%)
I grew up in the US with this song.
15(21.4%)
I grew up somewhere else with this song.
8(11.4%)
I did not grow up with this song.
2(2.9%)
I learned this song later in life.
4(5.7%)
The actions are too complicated for babies/toddlers.
2(2.9%)
This song has gone out of fashion in the UK.
3(4.3%)

Do you have a teapot?

My household has a teapot.
29(31.2%)
My household has more than one teapot.
34(36.6%)
My household is teapot-free.
5(5.4%)
I used to have a teapot, but do not any more.
4(4.3%)
Hurray for lots of variety in kinds of tea/infusions to drink, even if it precludes needing to a teapot to share!
21(22.6%)


P.S. There's a missing "have" in that last line.

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Eurovision 2015

[I have run out of time to finish this post before going to collect Grouting, so in case I don't get a chance to get back to this later today, I'll post it as-is now.]

Most years, I write up my first impressions of the Eurovision entries, based on their videos. Often, the videos are highly distracting, and better or worse than the songs themselves.

This year, I've already watched most of the videos over the course of the previous week with my daughter. Grouting's favorite entry is the Australian one. Yes, that well-known part of Europe, Australia. The country has lots of Eurovision fans, and this is a one-off (in theory) as part of Eurovision's 60th anniversary celebrations.

I will finish updating this later...Collapse )

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Hibiscus 2: Too creative to impose

One advantage of doing a formal celebration with a very small number of people is that, several years ago when it happened, we felt we choose a really nice restaurant for it. I was initially leaning towards Hibiscus: creative, high reviewed, private dining room. Only on further reflection, I started to think that Claude Bosi's cooking might be a little *too* creative to impose on my extended family. I wanted them to enjoy the meal a little less critically than the truly unexpected might permit.

In the intervening years, the restaurant has, from all accounts, only improved. Last year, Bosi bought the restaurant back from its backers, and with full oversight, has pushed the cuisine in new and interesting ways. It was very pleasant; but one of the first tidbits to arrive reaffirmed my certainty that we had made the right choice in going somewhere else for the wedding meal.

Arriving in dark wooden block holder, two svelte, crisp ice cream cones looked gentile, but were, in fact, revelatory. As introduced by our waiter, they held smooth, fairly delicate, light fois gras ice cream, with an underlying, hidden layer of blood orange jelly - gently tart, brilliantly, glowingly, red - filling the bottom of the cone, slowly oozing out through the small shatters of narrow cone. Creamy ice cream, sweetly tart orange. It was delicious.

Hibiscus, part 1: Comes with kumquats

A post of desperance's on kumquats reminds me that I've been meaning to start writing about our meal at Hibiscus. I'll be writing this in likely-erratic installment. Thanks to Chaz, I'm starting with the cheese course.

The cheese course was a sumptuous lump of melted Mont d'Or cheese partially smeared across a plate, a modest quantity to keep us comfortable in the midst of the installments of a tasting menu. A little bit of well-cooked leek added nominal vegetative fattiness to the cheese's well-rounded unctuousness. Black truffle shavings were applied, as they were to many dishes, with unnecessary abandon and, oddly, more coarse texture than flavor.

But the leek and truffle played supporting roles. The thin slices of lightly candied kumquat were the real contrast to the Mont d'Or, their distinctive sharp bittersweetness assertively balancing the smooth richness.

It was an evocative moment for me, one which put me on the edge of tears, because kumquats - a fruit of which I am not especially fond, but can work well as a condiment - are the fruit which reminds me of Louise Noun.

My family were over at her apartment for a rare dinner there (my memory is that she didn't really like to cook), her amazing collection of artwork by female artists on the walls. I was probably a high schooler at the time. After the meal, she served a bowl of fruit for dessert, and I tried my first kumquat: small, hard, bitter. It was so small, I thought I surely could finish it, and did. It wasn't a particularly pleasant experience, although obviously I grateful for the introduction.

The bittersweetness though wasn't just from the fruit or the largely pleasant memories of that dinner. It's Louise herself. She said she would commit suicide when sufficient age incapacitated her to the extent that she was in danger of becoming more burden than benefit. And she did.

She was in her 90s, she lived an amazing, accomplished life, and she ended it on her own terms. It still took away from my mother one of her best friends, and from the rest us, a well-loved family friend. One aspect of her work lives on the Chrysalis Foundation, which works to help girls and women be safe, secure, and educated.

So that was the cheese course.

Misleading subjects of songs

I currently know of two songs which play on the way women are often described using childish language in songs, revealing only at the end that the song is about an actual child.

Are there any others?

"Save your kisses for me" (Brotherhood of Man) was the first one I encountered; its refrain is used as a regular element in a children-focused music group we attend.
Kisses for me...Collapse )

"The Naughty Lady of Shady Lane" (Ames Brothers) was mentioned to me by my father once I told him about "Kisses for me".
Naughty Lady...Collapse )

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Dysprosium and Playmobil

Apropos of the forthcoming Eastercon, I've been thinking of doing some variant on this image for a while.

Dysprosium - Playmobil

Galvin Bistrot de Luxe

We celebrated Chocolate Week with taldragon and lazyknight by having dinner at one of the only restaurants in London doing anything other than afternoon tea in its honor. I had fairly high expectations of it thanks to having had a wonderfully sumptuous meal earlier in the year at its upscale sibling, Galvin La Chapelle.

Chocolate and toddlers...Collapse )

I would highly recommend the Bistrot especially for tall parents who are frustrated by how low changing facilities usually are. They not only have them (armpit-high on me), but beautifully clean high chairs and an erstwhile free meal for the under-eights. (No guarantees as to when it's for.) And the food really was pretty good overall, if clearly - based on our sampling - more worth ordering the full-priced mains than the prix fixe if what you're after are the tastiest dishes. But the prix fixe is good value, and a welcome option.

Hot Chocolate Day

stephanieburgis has declared today to be Hot Chocolate Day, in honor of the publication of A Most Improper Boxed Set.

So it's been a good day for me to reminisce about what is still, in my memory, my favorite hot chocolate. Back when I lived in Toronto, JS Bonbons had a Queen Street outlet. It closed long ago (as did, last I checked, JS Bonbon's other shop, where I once threw snow balls at the second-story window to try to get the attention of the class I was meant to be attending but could find no way into).

The Queen Street shop made hot chocolate using truffle ganache. The same ganache they used to fill their truffles. They had three or four varieties. One was the extremely good white-chocolate-and-thyme one. The other was the absolutely amazing dark chocolate and lavender one.

Put it this way. I used to drag visiting friends there in the sweltering heat of August to try the wonders of their hot chocolate. That's how amazing it was.

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