Archive for the ‘Funny Stuff’ Category

No, I’m not writing about HRC’s remarks Friday, I’m talking about the Eurovision Song Contest – that annual celebration of kitsch, glam and (mostly) pedestrian music in which 25 European performers from different countries go up on stage and perform so that the whole of Europe can choose the best song/voice/sex appeal/weird outfits/light show/weird dancing/ability to get their border countries to vote for them.

To those unfamiliar with the Eurovision process, here’s what happens: most European countries (43 this year) choose one singer/band to perform an original song that will go to the contest. There are two semifinal nights before the final, at which 25 countries are represented. Each performer gets three minutes on stage to perform, taking about two hours, and then viewers across Europe vote for who they think should win. They take 15 minutes to vote, 15 minutes to count the votes, and then spend 45 minutes describing how each of the 43 countries entered initially voted, giving points to the top ten performances: 1-8 points for places 10 through 3, 10 points for second, and 12 points for first. Country size doesn’t matter; 12 points from Malta is as good as 12 points from Germany.

Of course most of the music is… well, crap. It can usually be divided into one of three categories: bad europop, really bad europop, and pale imitation of really bad europop. Occasionally a completely off-the-beaten-track song shows up, such as Lordi’s death metal song from two years wihch won the competition for Finland. Much of the time the winner is a marginally decent song, usually a ballad or something that falls into the category of bad europop.

Usually however, the winner has more to do with inter-country politics: the Scandinavian countries vote for each other, the east European countries vote for each other, Portugal and Spain vote for each other, etc. So the winner is rarely the best song. In principle winning Eurovision can launch careers – in practice it rarely seems to do much for the winner outside his own country, unless they were already established. Celine Dion and Cliff Richard have won it when they were already established artists – only Abba and possibly Dana seem to have had their careers launched by Eurovision.

I watched this year’s Eurovision streamed live online, which began with a tedious Romanian ballad and ended with a tedious Norwegian pop song. Mixed in between was a 75 year old rapper from Croatia, a blind singer from Georgia, and a 16 year old from Armenia. Other notable performances: the Russian performance was forgettable but featured an ice rink on the middle of the stage. The Latvian group dressed up as pirates and sang a half-decent song about pirates, the Azeri group had some weird performance involving half the performers dressed as angels and the other half dressed as devils, and the Bosnian performance was just bizarre (but a pretty good song nonetheless). (You can watch the full program at eurovision.tv – the links above take you to the original videos for each song, but I recommend watching the whole performance to understand the full force of Eurovision.)

In the middle of all this came the one real bright spot of the night – a nattily dressed group from Denmark, singing a crisp pop song, with a crisp melody, crisp lyrics, crisp outfits and an overall crisp performance. A song vaguely reminiscent of Frank Sinatra/Peggy Lee style music but with a much more modern edge. The only song I’d probably want to listen to regularly. Of course, since they had the best song of the night, they only came in 14th.

The winner? Russia, with another boring song. The big loser? The UK, a result that says more about how the rest Europe dislikes the UK than about the song itself (it was certainly much better than the Russian entry).

I’ll stick to my music collection.


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More nonsense!

More parodies for more candidates here, here and here. My favourite:

‘Hillary Clinton wants you to know the Italians plagiarized pasta from the Chinese.’

Now playing: British Sea Power – Carrion
via FoxyTunes

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I’m not telling you how I came across this.
Now playing: TV On The Radio – Wolf Like Me
via FoxyTunes

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From digg: Charlie Brooker in The guardian discusses why he hates Macs. Choice quotes:

I hate Macs. I have always hated Macs. I hate people who use Macs. I even hate people who don’t use Macs but sometimes wish they did. Macs are glorified Fisher-Price activity centres for adults; computers for scaredy cats too nervous to learn how proper computers work; computers for people who earnestly believe in feng shui.

Cue 10 years of nasal bleating from Mac-likers who profess to like Macs not because they are fashionable, but because “they are just better”. Mac owners often sneer that kind of defence back at you when you mock their silly, posturing contraptions, because in doing so, you have inadvertently put your finger on the dark fear haunting their feeble, quivering soul – that in some sense, they are a superficial semi-person assembled from packaging; an infinitely sad, second-rate replicant who doesn’t really know what they are doing here, but feels vaguely significant and creative each time they gaze at their sleek designer machine. And the more deftly constructed and wittily argued their defence, the more terrified and wounded they secretly are.

I should maybe point out that I’m currently considering purchasing one, as I need a new laptop. But I’ll keep Brooker’s critiques in mind.

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Your Famous Last Words Will Be:

“So, you’re a cannibal.”

What Will Your Famous Last Words Be?

No boring old natural death for me…

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A few interesting things:

  • Techdirt has a series of post discussing the economics of scarcity in the context of digital goods. The essential point is that digital goods do not suffer from scarcity, which naturally drives down the cost of the content – something that will (is?) force (forcing?) content providers to recognize a dramatic shift in market dynamics. Link.
  • Now I know what my people are called: Star Wars virgins. According to Slashdot. (By which, let me clarify, is meant people who have never seen any of the Star Wars movies, and not Star Wars geeks who happen to be virgins.) I will not watch any Star Wars flick out of principle. I don’t know what principle yet, but I’m not watching them. Quoth the article:

The Challenge was simple: Lose my virginity. More specifically, my Star Wars virginity. This was something I had held for so long that I had developed a sort of pride about it. It made me unique in this vast world of passionate and eccentric fans. Was now the time? Would I even be ready?

  • Quote of the day: A bit late for this, it’s from either Christopher Hitchens or Andrew Sullivan on CNN the just before last Tuesday’s congressional elections: “This isn’t an election, it’s an intervention.” Heh.

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Via reddit: the war terror viewed through the bash shell.

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