Tales from the Cultural Wilderness - Journal

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2002-05-29 Entry: "No Contest"

After concluding that my CD-rewriter was well and truly dead (or at least as far as writing was concerned, DVD playing was still fine), Saturday saw me at PC World trying to get a replacement. In the end, I settled for another combo drive (this time from LG), as it was on special offer. I was a little hesitant (as I'd potentially be getting a drive that wasn't region free), but I took the risk on it, thinking that I still had a DVD drive that worked, and this one was just as cheap as the non-DVD drives they had.

Getting it home and installing it proved reasonably easy - they'd actually put the screw holes in useful places, so this drive could be properly secured in the case (unlike the other one, whose screw holes miss by about 3mm due to collision with the memory boards). And a quick test with Nero proved that not only did it burn CDs, it was willing to work at 12x with no complains (the previous one barely managed 4x). The drive was indeed region locked though, so I had to look for a DVD work around.

That, after a quick trip to The Firmware Page, proved relatively easy to resolve - there's an app that'll reset the counters of the drive after they've fallen to zero, so that's two drives happily region free now (one with a counter permanently set to 5, and one which I can reset if it falls to 0).

Saturday evening, amid the writing of everything to CD (from the creakingly full hard disk), saw the Eurovision Song Contest. This surreal, yearly event was brought to us from the sunny eastern European country of Estonia, and seems to be following the trend of getting more bizarre by the year. Fortunately, I took notes:

The contest opened with the usual random duo of hosts from the host country, and the commentary provided by Terry Wogan. Then we got into the meat of the songs, starting with Cyprus, who'd managed to find a boy band to sing their song. Not all that impressed with this one I'm afraid.

Next up, the UK entry. We've picked a ballad - why? I would have thought we'd learned by now - lively entries do best... and doesn't she look like Barbra Streisand?

Each act is broken up by an introduction showing some aspect of Estonia, but each one is based on a fairy tale! Why?

Austria, with a song called "Say A Word" - the guy's got a fish on his shirt. "Say a word and I'll be there" seems to be the first ten minutes of the song. Ooohhh a high note that he can't reach...

Greece are up next with a bizarre song, "S.A.G.A.P.O." - no idea what it stands for. The singers are in riot gear! Wogan made a borg joke at the start of the act, and then finished it with "It's life Jim, but not as we know it!" Is he a closet Trekkie or something?

The Croatian entry starts the bevy of beauties that have been found for tonight. It starts well, but the backing singers are very discordant during the chorus. And why is the singer carrying a cat-o-nine-tails?

The Goldfish? That isn't a fairy tale! Or actually, thinking about it, it might be - I've never heard of it admittedly, but it was in "The Tenth Kingdom" so it probably exists somewhere.

Russia - with a strange concept: the unattractive boy band. They're all overweight, and they look like they've been plucked from different bands over the years - there's a guy with an afro and one going for the gangsta' image. Oh, and they can't sing.

The Estonian entry. They couldn't find anyone else in Estonia who could sing apparently, so they've got a Swede to do it. Terry's comparing her to Buffy. What is it with these pop culture references? It's a good song though, and she's got a good voice.

The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. How long are they going to be called this? Can't they just be Macedonia now? It'd be like us referring to ourselves as a former Roman state! Oh, and we get a Xena reference. I wonder why? She's in a ballgown, that isn't very "Warrior Princess-ey," although the princess bit could be close.

Okay - now the ballgown has come off - she's got a metal breastplate on underneath. That explains the reference at least. Is she going for "Brunhilda?"

Israel's entry - it's slow, it's ballad-ey, the verse isn't in English. This hasn't got a hope...

The Swiss entry is "Dans le jardin de mon ame" (with what should be an a with a hat in ame, but I can't remember the html code for it) - I don't even understand the title of this one... in the garden of my... I'm gonna go with octopus. In the garden of my octopus. A follow up to the Beatles hit no doubt!

The Swedish song is sung by Afro-Dite, which is a pretty terrible pun for an all-black girl band. They're dressed in bacofoil! And they look a lot like Destiny's Child. Naff song though.

And now we're halfway through, everyone else gets a commercial break. We have to put up with the hosts though. As she's an opera singer, she gets to sing something. He gets to mime terribly. Apparently he's an accordian player. He'd pretty much have to be with that hair.

Back to the songs, or at least, the fairy tale intros, and we have the three little pigs, which appears to have something to do with naked men rolling in snow. Huh!

Nothing particularly interesting to say about the Finnish entry - it isn't going to win anyway. Then the Danish entry. The girl dances about as well as Shakira (i.e., terribly), and she's shaking really badly where she's holding the mic. The song could be a contender though.

Bosnia-Herzegovina, and I didn't even manage to catch the title this time. Haven't people learnt by now that it has to be in English to win? Oh, they've switched to english - something about meeting a guy in a bar and fleecing him for drinks. Ooookay.

Belgium decide to go for a rock approach, which is different. Flames in the background. A singer that looks like Meat Loaf. And now he's doing handsprings across the stage and sticking his tongue out at the audience. Good song, in with a chance.

The French, being the language snobs they are, are obviously going to sing in French. Nice, ballad-ey, could be about anything, and I'm not attempting the translation (Il faut du temps - It's always cold? not cold...) as I'll only make a mess of it... I seem to have forgotten rather a lot of French...

The German entry is the bookies favourite, but that means nothing in this competition. The dancers seem to be doing their own thing. Did they all make that move together? Nope, they all just happened to sway in the same direction. And what is the girl in the hat doing?

Turkey are following the foreign language, we don't want to win, approach to the competition. The girl looks like that girl out of Neighbours who stole "Kiss, Kiss" from Turkey. And they slip into English for a chorus of "dubba dubba dubba dubba da."

Malta, with a song called "7th Wonder" - I thought we already had 7? Or am I misremembering? She's wearing a lace tablecloth stitched into a bodysuit... and I'm not convinced she's got any underwear on. This'll get some votes. She's apparently got room in there for a handful of silver confetti, but I'm not sure where...

Romania barely get a mention - they've done a duet. Some love song. Not particularly special.

Slovenia return us to the bizarre. After Dana International two years ago, we pretty much had to have this eventually. It's three guys in drag - they're dressed as sparkly red stewardesses (and the female backing singers are pilots). But it's not in English, so no matter the gimmick it won't win.

Latvia. Girl in a hat (and white trouser suit). She's dancing with another woman. Okay, now we've lost the jacket. The black shirt is off, and she's got a pink top on. Oh, what are they doing now? That's the trousers off - it wasn't a pink top, it was a short pink dress. No it wasn't, it was a long pink dress tucked up to look short. Very clever... striptease without the stripping. Good song too.

Lithuania rap up the singing with a bunch of people in stripy knitwear. They sound like the Lightning Seeds.

Okay, and the hosts are back. We get a few non-jokes, then a reprise for the telephone numbers - everyone's telephone voting this year? Latvia. Malta sounds like Britney. The French song is good. Belgium for the rock? Swiss could be a Disney song. Estonia. Latvia or Estonia? Hmmm... I think I'll go for Latvia for the stage show (as I can't decide between the songs).

And now the intermission - or the strange dance thing as it seems to have become. Something about a meteorite wiping out Estonia in the distant past and them rebuilding. Enough said. And the voting is over, now we just need to see the ridiculous votes...

Cyprus. Were they even in it? Oh yeah, right at the start. Okay. Bet they go for Greece. They gave us 4, that's a start. And 12 go to Greece. There's a surprise.
Us - Sweden 1, Spain 2, Cyprus 3, Belgium 4, Israel 5(?!), Slovenia 6, Estonia 7, Latvia 8, France 10 (?!), Malta 12 - got to have been the lace.
Austria - Malta 8, Latvia 10, Us 12! Malta are leading...
Greece - 12 to Cyprus? Malta 6, us 7, Latvia 10. Yep, 12 points to Cyprus.
Spain - Malta 10, Latvia 12. Malta still leading, but only just. I could be in with a chance here.
Croatia - Latvia 2, Malta 12. Then again, maybe not.
Russia - Malta 5, Greece 8(?!!!), Latvia 10, Romania 12.
Estonia - Us 6, Malta 7, Latvia 12. We're back to 2 points in it.
FYR Macedonia - Us 4, Latvia 7, Malta 10, Romania 12. Denmark are still on 0.
Israel - Denmark 4 (yay... no-one on 0), us 5, Malta 10, Latvia 12.
Switzerland - Malta 4, us 6, Latvia 8 (now leading by 1!), Spain 12.
Sweden - Us 2, Malta 4, Latvia 5, Estonia 12. Hmmm... wasn't their singer Swedish?
Halfway through and Latvia 100, Malta 98. No-one else even close.
Finland - Malta 2, Latvia 6, us 8, France 12.
Denmark - Us 6, Latvia 7, Malta 12.
Bosnia-Herzegovina - Malta 4, Latvia 5, us 7, Sweden 12.
Belgium - us 6, Malta 7, Latvia 8, Spain 12.
France - us 1, Malta 6, Latvia 8, Spain 12.
Germany - Us 8, Malta 10, Latvia 12. Only 6 to go...
Turkey - Us 2, Malta 5, Latvia 6, Austria 12?!
Malta - Latvia 7, Us 10, Cyprus 12. This could be bad for Latvia if they've given Malta 12... France and the UK are third on 90 points...
Romania - that's a hell of a suit the announcer is wearing. Almost Jonathan Ross, in red silk. Greece 6?!?! FYR Macedonia 12!!!!!
Slovenia - Latvia 5, us 8, Malta 10, Croatia 12. We're clear of the French.
Latvia - They only lead by 10 points here... they could shoot themselves in the foot... Us 5, Malta 7... they could still do it, Estonia 12.
Lithuania - Last to vote. They're neighbours with Latvia, so it's probably all sewn up. Only 3 points to Malta... that means they're tied... 8 points to us. And finally, 12 points to Latvia and the win.
So, Latvia (176), Malta (164), UK and Estonia (111).

Joint third isn't bad really...

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