ESC 2013 Aftermath

Now there are only teardrops left. Tears of laughter in my case. I’m emotionally exhausted after this years grand finale of ESC. A big thank you to Moldovia, Greece and Romania for their contributions. I nearly fell off my sofa when they came on. Greece was really fun, though. A team of soccerreferees in kilts with the worlds smallest lute, going at it like a balkan brass band. This is the kind of stuff I live for. Romania also did awesome – a musician friend texted me that he’d rather shave his privates with a badger. All very nice indeed.

Actually, my real favorites were Malta, Hungary and particularly Spain. Heck, their songs I could probably stand to hear on the radio repeatedly. Denmarks music piece that will be blasted all summer I will shun as I am already tired of it. The danes only got 5 checks in my book, so the performance wasn’t really that special either. Norway had by far the most epileptic lightshow, Moldova hairdo of the year, Finland took the costume award, Ukraine the biggest giant on stage… I’m sure the Prince of Eurotrash, designer Jean Paul Gaultier in the audience approved.

In fact it was Sweden who scored the highest on my scoresheet. They had the most complete show according to my standards, but sometimes it takes more than that. Poor Ireland had flirty eyecontact, gayfactor, bodhran drums, celtic tattoos and all, and yet they were barely voted on by their neighbours. It’s truly hard to predict the outcome. I only guessed 3 of the top ten, so I’m not placing any bets next year. It was fun, though. Totally worth it. I love that not all the crazyness is left behind in the national selections so cynics like me have something to look forward to in Copenhagen 2014 🙂

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Eurovision Song Contest 2013 Finale

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Jorå, formuläret finns på svenska med, kolla längst ner.

So, it’s here. The culmination of all our entertainers efforts. The night of flashing smiles and sparkling outfits. Or the other way around. Either way, it’s all settled at this one event. Every competing nation sits expectantly in front of their TV sets, ready to cheer, vote, and diss the opposition. I have just the thing for this occasion – a score sheet!

Granted, I’m not a ESC fan. In fact, I tend to avoid it, but always end up seeing it anyway. But it’s been around since at least colour TV. I still love the harmless bickering and bragging between nations, and not being a sportsfan, this is as close I get to nationalism. From the Te Deum trumpet fanfare to the disappointed aftermath (with a few exceptions – are there any nations who has never won?) it’s a part of me as an European. This, I believe, entitles me to make as much fun at it as I like. The Score Sheet is therefore focusing on the things that make ESC entertaining for me. Feel free to peruse, spread, be annoyed by, just don’t take it too seriously.

Just in case you have no idea what this is about, here is a brief introduction to the bizarreness that is a European song contest.

ESC 2013 Finale Scoresheet

ESC 2013 Final Röstformulär

ESC 2013 Final Röstformulär

Eurovision Song Contest 2013 semifinals

It’s an European thing

It’s that time of the year again. They’re dusting off their feather boas, bringing out their leotards and working up a synchronised dance routine you can’t distinguish from last years. It is time for the European play-offs in the bad taste league, the cultural extravaganza to bring a whole continent together for a laugh and a cheer. Personally, I wouldn’t notice if they skipped a year. In fact, I think every four years like the Olympics would be a sufficient interval. There’s no hope of that happening with all the money involved, though…

Oh, I’m sorry, you may be from another continent and not get this. The rundown is that every year in May, all countries in the Eurovision organisation are eligible to participate in a song contest where a few (20-something) are selected to compete for the audiences favour (and a professional jury) in the finale. The winning country will be the host of next years arrangement. There’s major prestige in this, although some countries (particularly the smaller ones) tend to take it more seriously than others. Plus the money of course. Not prize money, but guaranteed appearances all over the place and endless high rotation on radio. Even for some non-winning participants there is a piece of pie. This amounts to a huge circus of advertising money, record companies looking for the next big thing, and scores of hopefuls yearning to break internationally. With all this at stake the last few years have seen an increase in activities. In Sweden they had a whopping six events before choosing a winner to send to .. Sweden. Since Sweden won last year, with a single girl dancing barefoot on stage, they are the hosts this year. Hopefully they wont win again now, as that would be too taxing on their cultural budget or whatnot. Poor Ireland won 4 times in 5 years back in the nineties, and I don’t think their economy have recovered yet.

As for the songs, it is pretty much what you’d expect from Europe. Here are some of the titles included in this years
semifinals: Hold Me, Marry Me, You and Me, Believe in Me, and Alcohol is Free… at least occasionally one tries to stick out from the crowd. Sometimes the music has some cultural flavour from the originating country. Most of the time it’s just the lowest common denominator, meaning artificially sweetened peppermint bubblegum. You never really know who is going to win, though. In 2006 Finland won with their metal contribution: Hard Rock Hallelujah by Lordi. Pretty toothless for metal from a Nordic country, and yet it was still refreshing to see these growling beasts of metal outwin the usual lovesong trifles.

If this competition was anything like the original Olympics, the performers would have to train together for two weeks, eat the same food, receive the same service, and perform naked. Well, they don’t. It’s really not all about the song anymore, if it ever was. Stage presence, fireworks, costumes, orchestra etc. all come into account. It’s a show, and a pretty spectacular one at that. No inflatable pigs or Stonehenge on stage – I’m sure there are restrictions, but some are really clever at making the most of it. I expect some bizarre creativity this year like others. So, that’s where the entertainment lies for me. All these years I wowed to skip this hoopla, and yet I’ve ended up in front of the TV with the rest of my Scandinavian friends and family. Every year not wanting to. But still, there is some amusement in commenting cleavage and silly antics. What I always felt lacking was a way to systematically ridicule the ESC. Last year I made this scoring sheet I tested out with my wife. It worked out fairly well, we had a good time, so now I’m sharing it here. Hope you’ll enjoy it too.

(I’ll make sure to have one ready for the finale by the 18th as well, of course.)

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Röstformulär ESC 2013 Deltävling 1 och 2


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Scoresheet ESC 2013 Semifinals 1 and 2

You like Mozart? Here’s some Muppet Show

This article is about the strange things that go on in social media. As I was listening to an opera piece, specifically The Magic Flute, in French (don’t ask, sometimes I try to get into other forms of music, but opera is still a closed door to me), I noticed the suggestions on the right side also listed Rockin’ Robin from the Muppet Show. Now, from all the gazillions of videos on the tube, they chose a puppet band doing rock to recommend to someone listening to classical? Granted, it’s an old song, but not Mozart-old. So what algorithmic wonder managed this logic leap? Sounds like something reasoned by something so complex it tripped itself. This requires an investigation. People want to know, and I don’t want to go to bed just yet.

Underneath this particular suggestion I notice a “Your recommendations” at the end. Alright, since I cannot recall seeing, let alone recommending the Electric Mayhem band perform in a tree before, I suppose Youtube are the ones recommending. Meaning they do know who I am. Then I remember Google buying Youtube some time ago, and that I do have a Google+ account simmering somewhere in the cloud. Still doesn’t bridge the gap between opera and blue suede shoes, but maybe there is a hint in my Google+ account (conveniently linked in top right hand corner). This shows that I have no favourites, nothing added etc, but my history list is really long. A quick search reveals nothing about classic rock or sock puppet musicians. Or so I thought. Digging deeper I find that more than two years ago I watched the Mahna Mahna song from the Muppet Show. And I still regret this. It’s like a virus in the mind, but if you are feeling strong, here’s the song.

Ok, so now we know that if you have been rickrolled once years ago, chances are Youtubes recommendations will try and trick you again. But the connection still isn’t clear to me. So I poke around some more. Both videos are relatively short and contain music with lyrics and moving pictures. Maybe Youtube have a voluntary system for classifying new contributions? I don’t know as I have never uploaded anything, but I do know that such a system would be faulty at best. Just looking at the videos comments convinces me you that you really shouldn’t base a classification system on these people. Google being Google, they must have a superelaborate automatic system that scans every upload for nude flesh and naughty words among other things. I’m sure they can recognize a music video for what it is by sound and pictures, beat, framerate, whatever. Somebody at Google probably coded this on a café napkin in between two meetings and the others thought it was cool, so now it’s standard.

So, our assumption is that both are recognized as music videos. Evidently I like music videos of opera and muppets. I really feel like deleting that history, but a part of me is curious what else turns up. What about the opera-muppets connection then? Ah, there’s actually something interesting in the muppets video. Performing on the soundtrack is the (evidently) renowned flutist Jean-Pierre Rampal. Ooh. He is French, played a flute in one video, whereas the other is a French song about a flute. French flutes connected the dots. That makes sense. Or not. Well, if you’re an advanced searchengine in the web 2.0 era, I suppose it does. I for one sure didn’t see that coming.

One far more interesting thing I discovered in this is the automatic texting function of Youtube. Evidently the people at Google have so much spare time they’ve made a voice-to-text transcripter. Now, what happens when this transcripter meets a rock song can be seen in the Rockin’ Robin video (it’s underneath the up-thumb, next to statistics). Somehow it transcribes “He rocks in the treetop all day long” to “santee dot salty non com”. It’s like watching a TV game show with someone translating a song on the go in a noisy street. Enjoy.

[Edit: I was going to link the Mozart performance, but it has changed status to private. Just imagine a large lady with a voice like a foghorn wailing in french.]

Imperfections

I work with old stained glass windows. Yes, the kind you see nowhere else but in churches. They all need mending, eventually. You have lead plague, sagging from the weight, and woodrot. Since I’m the trainee I get the dirty jobs like cleaning the glass pieces. Today I was handling these small sheets of bottle green, zero point six millimetre thin wafers of handmade glass from one such church window. As I was attacking the ancient putty with a razor I admired the beauty of the piece. Picking it up is like touching a butterflies wings. It is so delicate, weighs next to nothing, they make regular window sheets feel like ugly armour. They are made by blowing a bubble of glass into a cylinder and letting it cool. Then the cylinder is cut lengthwise and heated so it folds open. Never having seen this, I picture the butterfly opening its wings for the first time. Although, I’m sure it’s not that poetic in the workshop.

The biggest difference between regular glass and handmade glass, however, are the imperfections. This ultrathin wafer has all kinds of flaws all over, and in it. Holding it up against the light I can see bubbles of varying sizes, featherlike patterns and streaks at different angles. Some lines crisscross in soft curves, telling about the rolling process it went through to make it. Any regular window with these marks would be scrapped immediately. It is not entirely even either – often thicker in some places and always curved one way or the other. I can’t help admiring the random decorations as I work the glass. Whereas a clear glass panes foremost quality is not to be seen, these little pieces are each and every one a natural work of art, quietly asking for admiration. They just hang there in the window, unnoticed, until the light breaks just so and then their marvel is clear to see. Every one of the 300-something pieces are unique and irreplaceable as individuals. Isn’t it just like that for life in general too? The things I treasure most from my friends aren’t the skills they’ve learned at work. It is those things you wouldn’t know unless you truly knew them. Things that make just them unique and irreplaceable. My family are for me not primarily the roles they have in my life as mother, brother, wife. Not now that I am an adult, anyway. If they were perfect we wouldn’t have any inside jokes around the dinnertable to tie us together. And I know they know my weaknesses too, and somehow that makes us stronger. A strangers unexpected behaviour lingers in memory when everything else fades fast. The monotony of a predictable shopping round is made glorious when the cashier breaks her professional mask and confesses something personal, reminding me she is a person. A person with an opinion, experiences, grievances, hope, love even, and loves misunderstood twin hate. All things that don’t fit a standard mold. Chips, cracks and streaks that would make every person fit for the recycle bin if we were to fashion our society after an impossible standard.

These are the musings I make in my daily routine. The hands do their work diligently while my head spins off in another direction. Then the glass piece snaps in two with a sharp crack and I let out a litany unfit for consecrated windows.

First post

Denne bloggen er tenkt som en skriveøvelse, og kommer derfor til å være mer eklektisk enn en Spotify playlist.

Inleggene blir på de tre språk jeg behersker best; norsk, engelsk og svensk. Kvaliteten vil følge dagsformen, og regelmessigheten – uforutsigbar, i beste fall. Utover det er det ikke greit å si hva som dukker opp, men her går altså kvantitet foran alt annet.

Om du ser at det bare er ett fåtall publiseringer til høyre her, så anbefaler jeg at du kommer tilbake om en tre års tid når forfatteren har fått de en million ordenes erfaring de prater om på skrivekurs. Der er målsetningen min i alle fall. Hva din motivering for å være her er får være din egen sak.

Om det er framtidige meg som kommer tilbake for å lese dette noen år senere, så sier jeg: ”Stikk! Rør ingenting. Du er dust. Stoler ikke på noen over førti.”.

– – –

This blog is merely a writing exercise, and will thus be more eclectic than a Spotify playlist.

I will be posting in the three languages I am fluent in; Norwegian, English and Swedish. The quality of my work will be according to my current mood, and the regularity will be unpredictable at best. Otherwise I cannot make any promises, except than there will be quantity above all else.

If you only see a few postings to the right here, I recommend you return in three years time when the author has reached the million words experience they talk about at writers class. That’s my goal anyway. Whatever your motivation for being here may be is your own thing.

To the future me, returning to read this some years later; “Go away! Don’t touch anything. You’re an idiot. I don’t trust anyone over 40.”.