This blog is essentially a collection of posts I used to write on Facebook combined with my travel blog and expanded to make a very public forum of my thoughts regarding Pop Culture, The Interweb, Cartoons, Comics, Ultimate Frisbee, Absurdity, Life, Travel and whatever else captures my attention long enough to write about it...

Enter at your own peril!

26 May 2010

And so it begins... or ''God I wish the Serbians in front of me would settle down''

Disclaimer- The following post contains sweeping racial generalisations, bias, some probably quite offensive comments and musical opinions by someone who couldn't even master the recorder... If you are offended by any of the following content I don't care, go read a different blog. That is all.

Tuesday, Stardate uhhh Norway.Oslo.whatever I don't watch Star Trek...

I'll start very briefly with the NON Eurovision stuff... Ahhh I went wandering around Oslo in the Morning... That's it. I still look the wrong way at intersections however. But I do like the fact my days in Norway have generally started late with a sleep in till 10ish minimum and then sitting up till midnight ish (aka an hour or two after the sun goes down). Very well meshed with my internal body clock.
But my day really started just before 6pm when I hopped a bus (all by myself like a big boy) to Telenor Arena for the 2010 Eurovision Song Contest Semi Final Number 1. I should mention that the first people I saw on my way in were 2 Australian men and an English chick waving Australian flags, and then I met two other Australians on the bus home... So it's not just me, Julia Zemiro and that guy whose name I can't remember as the only ''Straylins'' here.

I guess I should warn you in advance that I've been keeping not so much a diary/journal as just a notebook of what I've been doing and thinking while here, and I've been using that as the basis for my blog posts. Most have been a page of notes at best, these notes took up 16 PAGES... so strap yourself in, this is going to be a LONG one... I fear I've unleashed a beast with this whole blogging thing...

Anyway... after hemorrhaging a distressing amount of kroner I'm now proudly in possesion of a Eurovision tshirt (I will need to change the size of), some button badges (yay) and a program guide for the whole song contest. I'm not at one with the crowd however as I don't have a flag with me. Even the Aussie guys I met on the way in had flags, although they were a bit yobbish so I didn't really want to hang with them. Now if you know me you'd know I'm not the biggest flag waver at any stage... so I was never going to be waving a flag at the Eurovision. But that being said a giant blow up Kangaroo or Australian Geographic Penguin would've gone down a TREAT last night =P

At first there weren't a lot of over the top flag wavers around, but very early on I did see two (I'm assuming old and gay) Finnish guys in white Finnland suits. I posed for a photo with them, but I can't upload it yet so you'll just have to imagine it. The Finns were/are clearly the lords of the dress up at this semi... You will be able to see the massive block of Finnish fans during the broadcast. However the Formeryugoslavrepublicofmacedonia (the country with the biggest pain in the ass name in the eurovision) fans are clearly the masters of the flag wearing... at least at the Eurovision. I'm not sure they are in the same league as the Shire folk at Big Day Out with their Australian flag capes and bodypaint and racism, but they definitely do like the flag-as-cape technique in the FYR Macedonia... Hopefully with less ''kiss the flag'' ''love it or leave it'' bullshit. On that note I also had a shave Monday (so no seedy travel beard from me this time) but goddamn there were some terrible moustaches on display.
I also saw a group of like a billion (or maybe 30, it's hard to tell) Latvian kids walking through the crowd chanting ''Hey Ho Latvia'' and ''Aisha! Aisha! Aisha!'' blowing bubbles and generally wearing red and white. Part of me thought ''god I hope I'm not sitting next to them'' but another part of me thought it would be pretty funny. FYI I didn't sit near them, they were way up the back.

I think the average eurovision spectator is a fair bit fatter than the Norwegian average. Just based on observations last night. It was the first time this trip I've noticed fat people floating around at least... Damn the Norwegians and their general sexifiedness... Although there have been isolated pockets of fans really increasing the average size... In a turn of phrase that I think only Ryan will understand I saw a lady on the bus who must've been from ''Slovakia''...

Another amusing observation I've made is everyone at the Eurovision seems to think everyone else at the eurovision is insane and crazy to be there. But not themselves of course... all except for the Australians... We know that everyone there (including ourselves) is insane.

Flicking through the program before the event I came made a few observations.
  1. As always Lithuania looks like their entry (East European Funk) is insane and hilarious. I look forward to it greatly.
  2. Again as always there are too many ballads
  3. The Ukraine and Latvia seem to have hired the same Eurovision creative consultant and sent the same entry. A lone blonde female singer called Aisha for Latvia and a lone blonde female singer called Alyosha for the Ukraine. Making my disappointment with the Ukraine for not sending their normal insane entry all the stronger.
  4. Azerbaijan have decided to move into more traditional eurovision directions (ie splishy splashy bimbly flimby song titles) with Drip Drop.
  5. Russian are apparently ''making up'' a new music style with their entry... Oh dear
  6. Cyprus's entry John Lilygreen and the Islanders appears to have no ''islanders'' in that Pacific Islands sense I first think about... Which made me chuckle, imagine a Eurovision entry full of Samoans and Tongans... that would be BRILLIANT.
Grabbing a drink is not the speediest (or cheapest 65K for a schooner) process but compared to festival security at home smuggling in drinks would've been pretty freakin' easy... I could think of 3-4 hidey holes you'd get checked at home they didn't check last night. Inside of the sock, back of the hood and they even skipped one whole pocket in my bag...
A thought I had in the drinks line though. I don't like it when parents dress their kids the same, I really don't like it when they dress them in opposites but when I see girls in their 20s dressed the same (and it's just casual clothing and not a uniform or planned costume) I feel really skeevy.

Walking into the arena (that's right, we're not even inside the building yet in this report) I made another observation. The two biggest fan crews last night were Finnland and FYR Macedonia, and both of these groups were split pretty well 50-50 between men and women (although given how gay the Finnish guys seemed they'd probably have preferred to have more guys there). The third biggest group was Irish fans... but they were only Irish guys... I don't think I saw a single female Irish fan. Eurovision must be a boys club in Ireland. Unsurprisingly I think the Irish fans would've out drunk any other fan group too.

The display screens also had little messages on display for everyone whilst we were finding our seats etc starting with ''the following things are mandatory'' (oh how I chuckled... ''You will all have fun NOW''). Mandatory things included ''Smiles'', ''Open Hearts'' (awwww <3)
The screen typey person then tried the standard ''Poland make some noise'' to help the organisers find where the fans where to zoom the cameras in during the broadcast. ''Russia where are you!'' just resulted in tumbleweed and crickets however... it was such a super fail I started to laugh. There's a Vlad joke in there I'm sure... but I won't bother making it.

The crowd warm up then started with a presenter urging us to fill the room with energy, love and vibrations... And I'm sure you all see the ''love vibration energy'' joke I promised myself I wouldn't make. There was a dance group doing old eurovision winning songs and then an Abba medly... Then the hosts gave us the sit down during the songs and don't wave the flags or block the cameras talk... Like 5 times... in 3 different languages.
I did also notice that it looked like the outer stands didn't even come close to selling out... the floor packed out though and that's like 10,000 people.

And finally then the show started... and the opening mic break began at the end of my row... so I missed being on camera by like 1 person. They had the Spainards next to me on I'm sure, but I bet I was out of shot. If you watch it and see to the right side of the screen a Spanish chick and a guy with glasses... I was next to him.

Also this year they're using televoting AND juries... obviously they're trying to get some of the power away from the eastern european voting blocks. I wonder if it will make any difference to the results? I seriously doubt it...

A big bonus this year was the minimal nonsense from the hosts, they really cut back on the banter (except right at the end) and that made things a lot less cheesely painful... So no host touching up the other host action =( but also no ''so awkward you feel seedy'' either.

I won't give away any of the results because I don't think it's getting shown at home till Friday or so, but I will write up some comments on the entries with my opinions.

Moldova... Cheesey pop and I loved it. The costumes are also ridiculously hilarious, the band name weird as hell and the chick gorgeous... Add in a cool plastic violin with a light and the epic sax man and you had one of my favourite entries... They picked up their act from the video on the website.

Russia... The ''new'' form of music... They look like they're stuck in the 70s and nothing seems that new. I was a bit bored... This entry will not win and was not popular with the crowd.

Estonia... Another Ho Hum entry. A weird looking man that dances like a nut. Try and watch the piano guy going headbanger beserk and the guy in the choir collapse at the end.

Slovakia... GREAT costumes and a reasonable entry. My second fav... A little bit Ruslana wild dancers but more hippy... Great bonehead from the lady in white and the dancers have sticks and rubber bands.

Finland... A crowd fav and kinda Abba like with a bit of Polka. The on stage backing guys seem to do nothing for ages and then go completely silly... There was a Finnish fan just over from me, attractive with the black tshirt and wrist bands etc that would look at home in a metal pit, and she went NUTS for this pop number...

Latvia... Well there was a lot of cloth on stage... Does that count as good? The lyrics, the song, the backing singers and everything else with this entry is pretty lame though and she looks like she either forgot her pants or is wearing a fancy dressing gown. Very breathey singing too.
Now I'm musically attrotious, but even I've learnt a lesson from the great Tay Zonday and know that you can MOVE AWAY FROM THE MICROPHONE TO BREATHE IN! I want to hear you sing, not breathe! I can breathe! I can't sing however... so do the stuff I can't do... anyway.
When she finished the latvian kiddies did go nuts.

Serbia... Well the row in front of me went insane... I don't see why. The guy is a ugly ugly man singing a crappy crappy song. And is he rapping? I don't know... The twisty ballerinas were the only good bit. I may or may not have popped on camera here... but I doubt it.

Bosnia and Herzegovina... The man in Red gave a little devil horns sign before he went on which won me over a little. Then the guitar solo in it made me think that possibly THEY think they're metal... they're not. But they still beat a ballad. Lots of smoke and red etc... Couldn't work out the point of the backers though.

So with 8 of the 17 acts over we're nearly halfway... My how time flies! (it actually did seem pretty quick by then)

Poland... Ummm yeah... An off camera screamer, bizzare costumes, ball gags or something stuck in the the dancer's mouths, weird headlock strip dancing and a ''hello boys'' splits at the end make this a weird weird entry.

Belgium... Only one guy on stage and another crowd fav... Ok I guess, he played the crowd better than he sang though. He warmed up by the end.

Malta... Crap as always. Yet again Malta send a female ballad... I'm so over their entries. Her dress looks like it inflates but later turns into a man trying to fly away she's so lame.
This entry got me thinking... to give you and idea how far I was from stage I could've hit her with an easy backhand throw or possibly a slightly tricky hammer. So I was pretty close I guess.

Albania... Well they won't win any beauty awards... and the entry is a bit ''raining men'' but it could've been worse. They can sing. The crowd control people did also grab all the scattered albanians and put them in a big group for the crowd shot.

Greece... Why is this so popular? It SUCKS and they're sending everyone bankrupt. The Serbians in front of me went nuts again too so I couldn't see... at least it sucked. The Spainish guy next to me asked the Serbs to sit down and they flat out ignored him. And since when did the Serbs love the Greeks? The band name sounds like a greek kids tv show, but I do love strobe lights... Clearly my tastes aren't crowd normal.

Portugal... She must've won Portugese Idol or something listening to her voice and watching her head twitch... She needs lessons from Tay Zonday too... see Latvia

by now I'm firmly behind Moldova and Slovakia

Formeryugoslavrepublicofmacedonia... Fucking stupid country name and SURPRISE the serbs in front of me went nuts... AGAIN. This entry wins the ''skimpy backup singers and dancers costume'' award. And who the hell is the silver suit man and why is he rapping? Even I had taken my sunglasses off by now. The guitar solo and point at the end are the only good parts of this entry.

Belarus... Apparently this is a hard country to get a visa for. Very soft and breathey... kinda lame and I couldn't work out who the twins were. Clearly this year transforming dresses are last years violin. The dresses sent the Balkan fans nuts though.
I always though the cross stage camera run was on a boom... but it's actually a little man running with a camera in all the entries... very funny.

Iceland... No the entry wasn't called ''so sorry for all the ash''. It was a big crowd fav though. And her name is Bjork too. The entry wasn't as ''boom'' as I hoped, but still kinda catchy. The Spainards next to me and the pretty finnish chick went NUTS.

In the end I liked Moldova, Slovakia the most, the Finns were ok and Albania and Iceland came out looking alright too.

There was also a camera goof, cutting to a video that didn't play... not sure that will make it to telly. I went to both the palace and nudity park in that video. The shocking part is people in the crowd actually laughing at the hosts lame jokes.

The post close of voting video is really freaking weird. What is the point? And then the interview with the South African guy... at least he didn't say what I would've. ''Why do you like Eurovision?'' ''It's so bad it is good'' isn't quite live tv stuff.

The preview of the straight to the final entries also got me thinking.
  • Spain looks like it could be hilariously batshit insane
  • Norway have clearly thought 1 violin equaled win so 5 violins must equal ULTRA win!
  • The UK is crap... I'm calling it now
  • France looks ok, it could be a winner if the translation to stage goes well
  • Germany have dropped the ball from the Dita Von Teese entry last year... which is disappointing but they did get no votes
Oh and when they talk to the commissioner or whoever he is, look at his badly dyed toupee ish hair... very very funny

I won't ruin the results by saying them here... so that is where my first Eurovision experience will be wrapped up

I went out for post drinks with Eirik and some friends though and got to hear ''No speak Americano'' at an Indie bar in Norway... thought that was pretty cool... Yay Triple J unearthed! I then had the worlds WORST strongbow cider on tap... it was soooooo terrible I can't even work out how it got so bad. But I finished the night on a massive high by getting a high score on Shao-Lin's Road (if anyone can get me a copy of this I will love you long time) on some retro arcade machine... lots of fun... and I got home at 4am after the sun was up... Sunglasses back on for the walk home.

Løve Hugs ænd Kisses

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