May 18th, 2006

Fishy Circumstances


Tonight are the Eurovision semi-finals! All the countries which didn't score high enough last year will be competeing tonight. Happily, the UK scored well last year, so we only have to hear its entry once, on Saturday.

The UK's entry is one of the novelty ones this year: school girls singing a kind of catchy refrain, and the composer rapping saccharine moral lyrics about going to school. On the side of variety and interest, at least it's not a song about love.

Finland, of course, has been getting most of the Eurovision gossip, thanks to its striking entry of an '80s-style heavy metal band all dressed up in extravagant latex costumes. They're another novelty entry, and are competing tonight. (Where "novelty" means "strikingly odd". I think I'll count Lithuania in this category too with their whiny "We are the winners".)

But not all the entries are dubious! Belgium's song is engaging. The most likeable, however, is Denmark's "Twist of Love", a modern country-rock response to '50s music. It was the only video which we watched all the way through when sampling this weekend's entrants.

The official website is here - see the "Multimedia Lounge" link at the top of the page for videos and for streaming the contest. (Windows Media only.) The BBC has a generally better site for the contest though - and it uses RealPlayer.
Fishy Circumstances

Joy and Mourning

The day was mostly wonderful, give or take residual jetlag fatigue and what the day convinced me really is hayfever. (I sneeze outside; it clears up pretty quickly in processed air.)

  • Way back at New Year's, Chez Pim hosted a fundraising raffle in which I won a copy of Thomas Keller's Bouchon cookbook, a lavish creature of enormous heft and decadently exacting recipes which had been generously donated to the raffle by Hillary of Blonde Food. Today, it unexpectedly arrived! (Such are the surprises which may come of shipping by sea.)

  • I was invited to contribute an article to a journal. Yes, it's peer-reviewed and wouldn't necessarily be accepted and so on, but I'm still junior enough to find it very flattering to be asked in person.

  • I had a lovely lunch with a friend of a friend who is intricately connected with CMS@U of T and other U of T medievalist friends. She was the half of the Sarah household I didn't really already know.

  • We have a houseguest for the night, lazyknight, en route to our local airport.

  • Among everything else, it was also a productive day, thanks to time at the BL.

  • It was even the sort of day involving unexpected party invitations to all corners of London!

  • The intro to the Eurovision semi-finals was spectacular. Why don't more of them do montages of previous winning songs? It was especially striking when sung by Olympian gods and goddesses: Prometheus grooving away while playing with his fire, a band of Amazons dancing in sync, Aphrodite's half-naked costume with Godiva hair, Mercury flying down to the stage from across the crowded stadium, all with catchy numbers. Three dancing Greek vases sang "Waterloo". And it ended with a Pantheon pediment pose, all twelve forming an enormous sloped triangle behind the presenters.

    I'm so disappointed that Belgium didn't go on to the finals! Iceland was intriguing - in the video, I had to stop watching right away, so perturbed was I by the singer's eyelashes. Russia's woman emerging out of a piano, bleeding rose petals, was memorable; clever tactic, having the voting number written on the singer's shirt. There were TWO "We're going to win Eurovision" songs. It's the year of perverse entries, between those and the anti-pop Finnish entry.

And then there are the deaths which the day have brought.

On one extreme, the sister of a friend died in Kandahar. The story is plastered all over the news and blogs as the first female death since WWII in the Canadian Armed Forces.

On the other, a little kitten, desperately nurtured through her ten days of life by a friend of mine, also passed away. I realize these stories are on completely different scales, but each have many mourning their passing today.