Thursday, April 30, 2009

Books I've read in 2009 - April

Det finns en särskild plats i helvetet för kvinnor som inte hjälper varandra by Liza Marklund and Lotta Snickare
Acid Row by Minette Walters - AUDIO
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
Mr Darcy Takes A Wife by Linda Berdoll
Når rødt er sort by Qiu Xiaolong
Kjærlighet for viderekomne by Marianne Fastvold
The Crucible by Arthur Miller
Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier - AUDIO
Where We Once Belonged by Sia Figiel
Enslaved by Ducks by Bob Tarte
Death and the Penguin by Andrey Kurkov
Inside Putin's Russia by Andrew Jack
Glasbruket by Arnaldur Indridason

11 printed books, 3,169 pages.
2 audiobooks, 17h 52m.

I also read a couple of graphic novel-type things that I'm not counting ... and I listened to a dramatization of Les Miserables which I thought was a standard audiobook when I ordered it from the library, but, well, it wasn't. :-) So I'm not counting it, but I did listen to it. :-)

Best fiction: Where We Once Belonged. A novel set in Samoa, a country I know very little about and from which I have never read any literature. But this book was a wonderful read. A poetic and beautiful picture of a young girl's life.

Best nonfiction: Enslaved by Ducks. Incredibly funny and so well written. I wish I could say I saw nothing of myself in it ... ;-)

Best audio: Oh, both were so good. But the woman who read Acid Row was fantastic. She just acted it out as she read, basically. A fantastic performance.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


The city of Oslo is made up mostly of forest. Yeah, really. There is wonderful hiking terrain easily accessible to pretty much everyone who lives in the city ... even though those who insist on living downtown have to make use of some form of public transport to get there. :-)

These are some pictures of woodlands east in the city ... in spring, obviously. :-) These were taken on two different hikes, both during the second half of this current month. Enjoy. :-)

SPAIN 2009: Soraya – La noche es para mi

Now what did I just say about the Portuguese entry - that it seemed kind of old-fashioned ... ? I feel kind of the same way about this entry. But not really. :-) I guess what I mean is that even though it's modern and current and all that, whatever, I feel like I've heard it a hundred times. And I probably have. There is kind of a Spanish beat to it that I do like. And it's catchy ... at least while I'm listening to it. But it's just not that special. There are other songs this year that have much more personality and also the qualities that this song has.

The singer's pretty good ... her voice isn't bad, and of course a hot young blonde in a crotch-length silver dress is a tried and tested gimmick. ;-) The dancers slash presentation ... kind of cheesy. I like the switch between the chorus and the verse in this song. Hm. It kind of grows on me. But.

The chance to have their song grow on the audience is something that Spain just won't get. So I personally, although this is not a bad song in any way, shape or form - it's a perfectly acceptable pop ditty with nothing wrong with it - I'm afraid there will be a number of other entries that will outshine it.

This is Soraya performing La noche es para mi by Jason Gill, Dmitri Stassos, Irini Michas and Felipe Pedroso ... this quartet will be competing for Spain, which, being one of the Big Four (a concept which I plan to explain in a later post) will not have to worry about getting through the semis - and also will not reap any of the advantages of that potential double exposure. :-) They will only take the stage on May 16th, in the final ... and in the best possible slot, #25. Ooh ...

Lyrics here.

PORTUGAL 2009: Flor-de-Lis – Todas as ruas de amor

I really liked the Portuguese entry last year ... it didn't do too well, ended up 13th ... but then again, that was the best they'd managed for ten years. So maybe it was pretty good after all. :-) Anyway.

This is an entry that I do like, but I don't think it'll do very well. It's too ... modest. It does have a number of ... let's say authentic elements that segments of the audience may like. And the juries too for all I know. And the singer is sweet - a pretty and charming young thing, that's never wrong. :-) But the melody isn't what you'd call overly catchy ... it's too even, there's no real hook here. I think many viewers will quite enjoy hearing & seeing this while it's on, but then forget it pretty soon afterwards. And that, as we know, is not a good thing. Alas. But Portugal has no reason to be ashamed, certainly. This is a good enough entry ... but not really up there where it needs to be. It's rather oldfashioned in some ways ... it's the type of song that I'd have expected to hear five or ten years ago. I don't think Portugal will do well this year.

Kudos, of course, for singing in Portuguese ... but then again, they always do. And more power to them. :-)

This is Flor-de-Lis performing Todas as ruas de amor by Pedro Marques and Paulo Pereira; they will be competing for Portugal in a good slot - #16 - on May 12th.

Lyrics here.

Steinar Lem 1951-2009

He died in the night.

A great voice in Norwegian public discourse has been silenced, far too soon. Oh, I just feel the clichés ready to come pouring out of me right now. But what is one supposed to say when someone dies before their time ... someone who has meant so much to his country and would have gone on being that important voice for so many years if only he'd gotten the chance to. :-( I am sad. And to think that his little girls are only six years old. :-(

To those who don't know, this man was a fighter for a cause, a true firebrand ... he was the most vocal anti-consumption activist in this country, serving for many years as spokesman for the environmental organization Fremtiden i våre hender ('The Future In Our Hands'). He was a severe critic of the current Western consumption society and its impact on the planet and on human society. He had so many valuable thoughts about our world and what we're doing to it ... and he argued it so well. The current environmental crisis proves him all too right. He was a vital and important voice in our public discourse. He will be missed ... probably more than we realize right now.

It's a shock to think that he's already gone - he went public with news of his illness (cancer) last month, and said that he believed he had less than a year to live. And now he's gone. :-( It's so sad. I don't know what more to say.

If anyone reading this wants to express their condolences, Dagbladet is keeping a list here ... or you can go to his wife's blog and leave a message, here. Oh, I feel so bad for her, and her daughters. The husband and father that they've lost was truly a great man, and will be remembered always ... but I'm sure that's literally no comfort right now. :-(

Kjemp for alt hva du har kjært,
dø om så det gjelder!
Da er livet ei så svært,
døden ikke heller.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Much better now!

Yay. :-)

I didn't feel too great this morning, but I slept till all hours and basically throughout the day have been feeling better and better. I'll definitely be going in to work tomorrow, so yay. :-)

And I've even eaten a proper dinner - my friends K and Dag-Erling came over and brought me dinner at home! Aww. They just called out of the blue and offered to make dinner and bring it over to me. That was so sweet of you, guys. Thank you so much. :-) The movie may not have been all that, but you guys rock. :-)

To make this post a little more interesting, here are some links for my Norwegian-speaking readers. I've been meaning to write an entry here about Fritt Ord and their bizarre taste in award winners, but I haven't gotten around to it. Yet. Too much to do which made me too exhausted, but then again, maybe I wasn't just tired, maybe it was because of this flu thing that was brewing, too? Which is now out of my system, so I'll hopefully feel much better now. :-) Anyway.

I'm going to post an entry about it to share my not at all random thoughts on the subject, but first, here's some reading material. If you don't already know where you stand in this debate, please read this. It'll help you make your mind up. >:-)

A review of the book Kunsten å tenke (from Morgenbladet).
An article from Stavanger Aftenblad about the award and the winner ...
and the entire email exchange the article refers to.
Very interesting indeed.

LATVIA 2009: Intars Busulis – Probka

OK, now, I know I've been saying again and again that so many entries would be better in their native languages, so that the rest of us couldn't understand how silly the lyrics are ... and that's normally how I feel ... but in this case I actually rather think the opposite. This entry would be more fun if the rest of us could understand what the lyrics were about. Because they're actually pretty funny. The link to the lyrics, with translation, is on the bottom of this post, so check it out. :-)

This song, on its own merit, is OK, but not that special. Not my type of music, but that's another story. It's not very melodius ... although of course that's probably part of the point ... but there's not much here in the way of a catchy hook that'll stick in people's minds. It'd have to be the chorus, but ... I don't know. It gets kind of repetitive, too, towards the end there. This entry may appeal to the younger parts of the audience. But I don't have very high hopes for it. I don't think it has the chance to appeal broadly enough. But it'll be interesting to see what the juries think about it.

This is Intars Busulis performing Probka by Janis Elsbergs and Sergej Timofejev ... they will be competing for Latvia on May 14th. Going on right after Ireland, who have an entry that I think many more viewers will like than this one. IMHO. :-)

Lyrics here.

CROATIA 2009: Igor Cukrov feat. Andrea - Lijepa Tena

The Croatian entry was my favorite last year - not that I thought it had any realistic chance of winning, it was too oddball for that, but it was the song I liked the best. An absolutely lovely song. So I approached their efforts this year with some trepidation. But I actually like this song a lot. Maybe because it's not at all unfamiliar to last year's entry ... ?

This is a lovely ballad too - not as original as Romanca, but sweet and charming. The singer isn't very good, unfortunately, but the song has personality and charm and a wonderful melody. I'm very happy that it's in Croatian ... partly on principle and partly because the English translation makes it sound totally stupid. But that's me. I like this song. I can see how it might not appeal to everyone, but I don't think a lot of people will have a lot to reproach Croatia with either, this year. A sweet ballad. Only problem is that they did pretty badly with their sweet ballad last year, so results-wise, I don't really know ...

But all the best of luck to them, definitely. :-) This is Igor Cukrov and Andrea performing Lijepa Tena (the title means Beautiful Tena, apparently) by Tonči Huljić and Vjekoslava Huljić. They will be competing for Croatia in one of the worst possible slots, #1 on May 14th.

Lyrics here.

HUNGARY 2009: Zoli Adok – Dance With Me

Hungary's had a shitload of trouble getting their entry together this year. Their first choice got disqualified for some reason that my fever-addled brain can't remember right now - but locally, it wasn't fully submitted as I recall it - and then, unlikely as it sounds, the same thing happened with their second choice for some other reason. o_O I don't remember this ever happening before. Two tries, OK, maybe, but three?? Dat some heap big trouble ... o_O

Anyway, this is what they've ended up with. A poppy dance song. Supposed to be disco, but I'm not sure I'm buying that. Aand ... I kind of like this song. I have to say despite myself, because this isn't really the type of music I like, but I do kind of like this anyway. Not sure why. The chorus is kind of catchy. It has a simplicity about it that appeals to me ... at least at the moment when I haven't eaten for 36 hours. ;-) His voice isn't all that, but it's good enough for this kind of song. It has a pretty good beat and the lyrics really work with this tune. Not at all bad IMO ... although Hungary does have a lot to live up to; one of my all-time ESC favorites is their 2005 entry Forogj vílag. Now that was something else. Should have won. Damn Greeks. ;-)

This song may do pretty well (although it's far from a winner, I'm afraid) or it may totally bomb. I don't think the juries will fall for this ... and the TV audience may not either. It'll be interesting to see how things go for this song. Pretty sure we'll beat them though. ;-)

The video has some cool elements and some totally cheesy ones. I kind of like it too. :-)

This is Zoli Adok performing Dance With Me by Zé Szabó & Kasai ... they will be competing for Hungary as #11 on May 14th.

Lyrics here.

SWITZERLAND 2009: Lovebugs – The Highest Heights

Can I just copy my comments from the post on the Macedonian entry?

A rock/pop tune with nothing wrong with it and nothing much to distinguish it. Easily heard and easily forgotten. The Swiss entry last year was so fantastic - I loved it - unfortunately they didn't do very well, didn't even get through from the semi. Too bad. I think they would have done much better with that song this year, considering the jury votes. But that's water under the bridge and no point considering. I don't see them getting very far this year. Not because the song itself is bad, but because it's such a standard song, no hook, nothing special. Everyone in the audience and in the juries will have heard this so many times before. I have nothing bad to say against it, but I don't really remember it either.

The video's OK, it has some kind of original elements. Compared to the Bulgarian video it's a masterpiece. >:-) The lyrics though are pretty stupid. Bad Engrish.

This is The Lovebugs performing The Highest Heights by Florian Senn, Thomas Rechberger and Adrian Sieber (who I think are some of the band members, but don't hold me to that) ... they will be competing for Switzerland as #8 on May 12th.

Lyrics here.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Pity me, I am sick.

Yes, I am sick, and deserving of your pity. :-( It started yesterday, I had what I thought were lots of allergy symptoms all day ... I took my meds, but it didn't help. Which I realized later, Sunday evening, was because it wasn't allergy at all, but a bout of flu. Oh, lucky me. :-( This morning I didn't feel too good, but I went to work as I do pretty much regardless ... but at around noon I felt so shitty that I ended up going home. Only the second time I've done that in the three and a half years that I've worked there. I went home and went straight to bed ... slept, or at least drowsed, for six hours + ... alternately feeling overheated and shivering with chills ... and woke up feeling worse than ever. Alas.

I've eaten hardly anything all day, but that's just as well since I'm pretty sure it'd just come back up again.

The good news is that I don't think it can be the swine flu. ;-)

Also, in the good news section, that they changed the route for my bus this weekend, which I didn't know about till this morning - I was upset at first, because I assumed the change must be for the worse, but get this, the new stop is across the street from our building. As opposed to a ten minute walk away. Yay.

If only I didn't feel so totally shitty, I might appreciate it properly. :-(

Anyway ... I'm sure I'll get better soon. If anyone feels neglected in the meantime, well, it's nothing personal. :-)

Now look at today's picture. Click to enlarge, if necessary. Is it fun, or is it creepy?

FYR MACEDONIA 2009: Next Time - Nešto što ke ostane

This is an entry I don't have much to say about. A standard rock song, easy to listen to, easy to forget. There's nothing wrong with it, but nothing special about it, either. It's fine, I have nothing against it, but it doesn't impress me either in any way. I don't think audiences will remember this song for very long ... they have a pretty good starting slot, #13, but even so I think they will have a hard time standing out with this entry. It's just too bland. Iceland will go on stage just before them with their beautiful ballad, and Romania right after with a song that I personally don't like much, but which is a great deal more catchy than this entry. So ... I don't think we'll see this in the final. Better luck next time. Duh.

Oh, lest I forget: Kudos for singing in Macedonian. :-)

This is Next Time performing Nešto što kje ostane by Damjan Lazarov, Jovan Jovanov and Elvir Mekić. They will be competing for FYR Macedonia on May 12th.

From the national selections:

Lyrics here.

BULGARIA 2009: Krassimir Avramov – Illusion

Hmmm ... how to state my honest opinion of this entry without offending my Bulgarian readers? Well, I guess the easiest way is just to be grateful that I don't actually have any Bulgarian readers ...

I hope whoever wrote this song doesn't actually understand English, but instead used some sort of word processing program to just string words together ... because these lyrics really are just beyond embarrassing. Please don't listen to them. I'm not sure that doing so may not be harmful in some way.

The video is totally cheesy and the singer, ouch. The less said the better. He makes me much more favorably inclined towards the Belarusian entry. Perhaps not quite what he intended ... and also something of an achievement. The song itself, just totally on its own merit, might not be completely hopeless ... but I just can't separate it from the presentation. The moment I saw this video, it was too late. I mean, it's just ... Well ... see for yourselves. o_O

This is Krassimir Avramov performing his own composition Illusion that he cowrote with Casie and William Tabanou ... they will be competing for Bulgaria on May 12th, performing as #11.

From the national final:

The official video ... oh, my eyes ... !

Lyrics here.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

IRELAND 2009: Sinead Mulvey & Black Daisy – Et Cetera

Ireland is the most-winningest ESC participant ever. So there. It's just that it's such a while ago. And they sure didn't make things better for themselves last year. >:-( What a piece of shit. Sorry, Paz, no offense intended. ;-) But seriously. One should at least pretend that one is making an effort.

This year's entry - SO much better. Beyond compare. A real song! With humans on stage! Yes, it's a sad day when that last bit needs to be mentioned as an improvement. >:-( But this song is a cute and charming pop song performed by a group of cute and charming girls ... probably in outfits that will go down well with the younger section of the audience down East. The live performance isn't that good, so fingers should be crossed ... it may come across as charming, but, well, no guarantees. The song itself isn't quite a winner, but it's a good entry - catchy, upbeat, with both charm and personality.

I'm glad to see Ireland back on track. :-)

This is Sinead Mulvy and her (??) band Black Daisy performing Et Cetera by a whole bunch of people (click here for the list :-) who will be competing for Ireland on May 14th. Unfortunately in a slot that is beyond shitty; #2. Alas. But good luck. :-)

From the national final:

The official video:

Lyrics here.

GREECE 2009: Sakis Rouvas – This Is Our Night

One of the major favorites this year. Deservedly? IMO - alas, no, not really. The song is a quality product, I won't deny that. But that's also very blatantly what it is - a product. Thoroughly designed and produced. And that isn't generally a plus in this contest. Overproduced and very slick entries tend to not do very well. Why? I wouldn't claim to know, but if I am to venture a guess, I'd say that it's because they very often have less charm and less personality than the less professional entries. Of course, that's a fine line to tread. But I think this one comes down on the wrong side.

It also isn't actually very catchy, surprisingly. o_O

The video's pretty good, although the Greek elements in it seem kind of tacked on. The live performance I don't like at all. I fail to see how this entry could have become a favorite on the basis of that. It's outdated and ... I'm sorry, I think it's embarrassing. That's the one word I'd pick to describe that performance. I was almost confused watching it ... like, is this what everyone's raving about? Because it's nowhere near what I'd expect from a seasoned performer like Rouvas.

Greece has sent much better entries in the past (Everything from 2006 comes to mind, a fantastic song) and IMO this one doesn't deserve to win. The whole thing is just way too slick and packaged. And if the presentation in Moscow is the same as it was in the national final, I can't see it standing much chance, either.

But don't take my word for it, see for yourselves. :-) This is Sakis Rouvas performing This Is Our Night by Craig Porteils and Cameron Giles-Webb ... they will be competing for Greece on May 14th, starting number 13.

National final:

Official video:

Lyrics here.

Quote of the Week

As far as I can tell from studying the scriptures, all you do in heaven is pretty much just sit around all day and praise the Lord. I don't know about you, but I think that after the first, oh, I don't know, 50,000,000 years of that I'd start to get a little bored.
Rick Reynolds

Saturday, April 25, 2009

BELGIUM 2009: Patrick Ouchène – Copycat

This one I am so not sure about. o_O Could totally bomb or could do pretty well. I'm leaning towards the former. I kind of like it personally ... despite myself, because I'm an Elvis fan and I'm not entirely sure that this isn't offending the King in some way. But the song, on its own merit, kind of rocks. So I'm torn. I like it. But I seriously don't know that the ESC audience will. The older members may well think it's all that. But they are way outnumbered by young 'uns, down East especially. And I think that segment may just glance at this, think WTF? and move on to some dance entry like the Turkish entry or whatever.

The Belgians are quite confident about this song. But they have a history of misplaced confidence in their ESC entries, so I really don't know. My hopes are not high. Fortunately they're not in our semi, so I can't be tempted to vote for this. They have a shitty starting slot, #3, which will not be to their advantage. Maybe it's just as well. I really don't think E. would have liked this.

But I personally do like seeing a rockabilly entry in the contest ... whatever I may think of the song itself and its inspiration. :-)

This is Patrick Ochène performing Copycat, written by Jacques Duvall and composed by 'Miam Monster Miam' ... whatever ... they will be competing for Belgium on May 12th. Good luck, heretics.

Lyrics here.

MOLDOVA 2009: Nelly Ciobanu – Hora din Moldova

Moldova's going all out with the nationalism this year. Kinda what you'd call OTT. You've just got to see this one. :-D I would resent it on principle, except that I really like this song. It is soo catchy ... I can't help myself ... I dig it. :-) Great rhythm, great beat, a very charming singer with a good voice ... yeah, I dig it. They're in our semi so I can vote for them, and I almost think I will. This is just such a fun song. Fun and lively and just the type of song that makes you start tapping your foot before you've even heard the first verse. The folk music thing may be too much, though ... ie there may be too much of it here ... it's not really tempered much with poppier elements, it's just more like straight folk music. So it may not go down too well. But I think older viewers may really like it. It'll be so interesting to see how things go for this song.

The one thing that I can say against this song is that the title is very unfortunate-sounding in Norwegian. ;-) But we can hardly expect them to take that into account. :-) The title means Dance from Moldova. It's partly in English and partly in Romanian, so kudos for that, too.

They got lucky with a really good slot, #15.

This is Nelly Ciobanu performing Hora din Moldova which she co-wrote with Andrei Hadjiu and Aristotelis Kalimeris. They will be competing for Moldova on May 14th.

From the national final:

The official video:

Lyrics here.

ICELAND 2009: Johanna Gudrun Jonsdottir – Is It True

Best Icelandic entry ever ... ??

OK, maybe not. I totally love their entry in 2005, which the very talented Selma performed ... and I do in fact like their 2007 entry too, very much, as off-putting as the singer's diva tactics may have been. They deserved to do better with that song, but they have only themselves to blame that they didn't, because the presentation that time was completely hopeless. Anyway.

This is a wonderful song, I love it. An absolutely beautiful ballad. Good lyrics, an enchanting melody, a beautiful singer with a lovely voice and an emotional performance. I fail to see how this song could possibly do badly. That said, it's probably not spectacular enough to go all the way. But the Icelanders deserve to do very well this year. They can certainly hold their heads up, because this entry pretty much has it all. A dignified entry (*cough* not like in 2006 *cough*) that should have cross-generational appeal. And the singer looks very Icelandic :-) which may be a plus. I'm really looking forward to seeing her dress ... ;-)

This is Johanna Jonsdottir performing Is It True by Óskar Páll Sveinsson, Chris Neil and Tinatin who will be competing for Iceland on May 12th. Unfortunately I won't be able to vote for them, since they're not in our semi. But I hope and believe that they will make it through even without any Norwegian votes (which they'd be sure to get with this song :-) and if they do, I will definitely vote for this entry on the 16th. :-)

From the national final:

The official video ... boring IMO ... :

Lyrics here.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Fields of blue

Scilla siberica is a beautiful flower. It's one of my favorite spring flowers. Its deep blue color is just gorgeous against the dark green of the leaves. And I also love the way they have of spreading ... they grow from bulbs, but once you plant a few, they'll reproduce themselves quickly and spread fast. More and more every year. My friend Paz saw a picture I'd taken of some of them and mentioned how he might like to get some for his garden - please do :-) but beware, you may get more of them than you bargain for pretty soon. :-) It does look wonderful though, this time of year.

Yesterday was one of the twice-yearly meetings of the Norwegian Herpetological Society, of which I am a member ... we meet in the teachers' lounge at Grefsen high school (where our fearless leader works as a teacher) and to get there from Storo subway station you walk by some lovely old houses with gardens. Some of them had so many Scilla in them ... !! It was amazing, so beautiful. And among some of the blue there I also spotted another flower that I love - Gagea lutea, the Yellow Star-of-Bethlehem. They're called gullstjerne in Norwegian - 'goldstar'. I used to see so many of these when I was a child. Seems like they were much more common then. We used to have a whole bunch of places where we knew they grew. These days, the only place I know for sure that I can find them is the University Gardens. And not a lot of them there. I was really happy to see them yesterday. :-) So pretty. :-)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

What a week ...

Yeah, what a week I've had. I am SO tired. Why is it that everything happens at once? It kind of ruins things a little, actually ... because even though I may be looking forward to all these things, or, in the case of overtime, at least not mind it particularly, but when it all happens at once I almost start resenting it, like, If only this stupid meeting could have been next week instead of this week, I would have enjoyed it so much more ... even though I am in fact enjoying it. Does that make sense?

Oh well. At least some people are happy. I caught this on the subway home tonight.

Is it just me, or does it look like there's a person with three legs standing on the platform?

OK, seriously, I need to get some sleep. o_O

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day

I have zero energy to write anything today ... long story, we've had something major going on at work - last day tomorrow though - and so we've all been working so much lately, and today has been the most stressful day I've had all year. I'm soo tired ... I can't wait to get to sleep. :-) So my blog post today will just be an expression of my hope that you've all had a good day today, Earth Day 2009. I did nothing to celebrate the day ... no energy to focus on anything but work. Maybe next year. :-)

Happy Earth Day! Please take a moment to consider our planet, how beautiful it is and how lucky we are to have it. And don't forget: We only have the one.

The picture is from one of my favorite places in nature, and a natural wonder - Wild Man Valley in Rondane. More pictures here.

Google celebrated too, look. :-)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

POLAND 2009: Lidia Kopania – I Don’t Wanna Leave

Now this entry was actually quite a pleasant surprise. I'm sorry, but Poland just isn't one of the countries that I expect much from in this contest. And to be fair, I'm not alone in that. They've been competing since 1994 - when they came 2nd, actually, but then again that was Edyta Górniak they sent that time - and they've mostly just ... done really badly. The semi system hasn't been good to them ... they failed to qualify for three years running, then mysteriously got through last year, but ended 23rd. So ... I wasn't expecting much. But I actually really like this song. Lyrics-wise it's a cheesy love song, and this is another song that I wish wasn't in English, but I can get past that. The tune is beautiful, sweet and melodious, and she has a good voice - it isn't perfect, but it has character :-) - that works very well with the song. The presentation I'm not sure about - ballet? Umm ... did they not watch the final last year? And notice that there was a very heavy ballet element in the Russian entry ... which won ... so that this year's final will be hosted by ... Russia. Did the Poles miss that? o_O

The presentation IMO is over the top, but they may well change that by the time they get to Moscow. The song is quite lovely, and the perfomer is very good and suits the song very well. If they got to the final last year, they should definitely manage to repeat that with this entry. Good luck to them. :-)

This is Lidia Kopania performing I Don't Wanna Leave by Alex Geringas, Bernd Klimpel, Rike Boomgaarden and Dee Adam, a quartet that will be competing for Poland on May 14th. Not such a great slot, they're #5. But here's hoping they'll do well anyway. :-) And I can vote for them, yay. I think maybe I will. :-)

Lyrics here.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Some pictures from the weekend

Yeah, that's what this is. Some of the best of the many, many pictures I've taken this weekend. Enjoy. :-)

My friends K and Dag-Erling's cat Gustav dozing in the warmth from his favorite lamp.

Cuddling Herman.

The Opera here in Oslo had a big premiere on Saturday - a production of Carmen in collaboration with the Covent Garden opera. It was sold out since the day before forever. But they decided to do something fantastic - they had the performance shown on a massive screen on the Opera roof and let people come watch it for free. :-) Seven thousand people came. :-o It was a little cold, but we brought blankets and things, so we were fine. :-) It was a great show and it was lovely seeing it out of doors like that, and watching the sunset at the same time. A really special night, with a huge crowd enjoying the show.

My friend KAS on the Opera roof in the interval. I'm so happy with this shot. Portrait?? :-) trilltrall said he wants to use it as his screensaver. :-D

The Harbor Warehouse in sunset.

A treestump in the woods that make up most of Oslo.

Raphael on his first outing this year.

Wood anemones growing in a patch of forest by my house.

Keanuart not by me

This is something that someone on Club Keanu made, based on an image from The Day the Earth Stood Still. I like it. :-)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

LITHUANIA 2009: Sasha Son – Love

This is one of those songs that really make you understand why the old ESC rules were better at least when it came to the language question ... because, seriously, the English lyrics to this song pretty much ruin my enjoyment of it. If you really love the love you say you love, really love/then surely that love would love/then surely that love would love to love you back. I mean, it's just ... just ... what? I so wish this could have been in Lithuanian, because I really would have preferred to not understand any of that.

Other than that, though, it's a pretty good song. A bit too boring to get very far, IMO, but still. A good melody, and he has a good enough voice - plus being young & cute never hurt anyone, although he's not my cup of tea ... There's nothing wrong with this entry in and of itself, I just think it doesn't have enough personality, enough of ... a hook, or whatever ... to really make its mark. There are too many more unusual entries this year that will probably overshadow it. It's OK but not much more. If only I couldn't understand the lyrics, this might become a song I'd quite enjoy over time. But I don't think I'll be voting for it, alas. Even though I could, because they're in the same semi as us.

So, this is Sasha Son performing his own composition, Love - he'll be competing for Lithuania on May 14th, going on stage as #14.

Weird video. If they're trying to say something, I don't get what it is.

Lyrics here.

Quote of the Week

I believe in God, only I spell it Nature.
Frank Lloyd Wright

Saturday, April 18, 2009

GERMANY 2009: Alex Swings! Oscar Sings! – Miss Kiss Kiss Bang

LOL!! I love this song!! Seriously, I totally love this song. It rocks. Best German entry ever?? This is such a fun song, it has such wonderful rhythm, a great melody, tongue-in-cheek sexiness ... I love it! :-D It reminds me a lot of their entry from two years ago. Same kind of period music. This year's entry is supposed to be inspired by Minnie the Moocher. Yeah, I can believe that. :-) This is a great oldfashioned swing-style entry. I dig it. I think it's wonderful that they're sending this and I hope it does well ... but it probably won't. Unfortunately. This just isn't the kind of thing that appeals to the ESC audience. This year it may do better, because of the jury group votes ... but on the televotes this entry won't get far. They placed 19th in 2007 ... and if they'd been anyone else they wouldn't even have been in the final, I don't think. It's too bad, because this is IMO a real quality entry. But that's how it goes. You can't please everyone ... but all these different types of music that are in the contest now make it such a great show. I hope bad results won't discourage anyone from sending unusual entries like this.

This song has a lot of potential for a great stage presentation. I'm really looking forward to seeing what they'll do with it in Moscow. I don't like the backing dancers from the national final much, so I hope they will change those. :-) Whatever they do though it can't be bad ... because this song is just so cool. Kudos, majorly. :-)

This is Alex Christensen and his pal Oscar Loya performing Alex's composition Miss Kiss Kiss Bang. Alex will be competing for Germany on May 16th - as one of the Big Four they will of course not have to qualify for the final. They have drawn a pretty good slot, #17. All the best of luck to them. :-)

Lyrics here.

Friday, April 17, 2009

MALTA 2009: Chiara - What If We

Umm ... so, not at all to be rude in any way, because this is a contestant I really respect - the Maltese are crazy about the ESC, they're desperate to win (and for my part I would love to watch the contest being brought to us live from Valletta :-) and Chiara is a total ESC queen. This will be her third time performing in the contest (1998, 2005, 2009) and her song in -05, Angel, which she composed and wrote herself, is one of my all-time ESC favorites ever. She ended up 2nd that time ... which I thought seriously sucked, because she had been a much more deserving winner than the scantily clad Swedish-born strumpet who won for Greece with almost the worst lyrics ever. (Wild Dances is much worse though, lyric-wise. That's my opinion and I stand by it. I'll take my wild chances. >:-) Anyway ...

My problem with this song is that it's kind of a rewrite of Angel, just nowhere near as good. And I feel that she performed that entry better, too. Of course it's her own composition, so that would explain that. I do think her performance is very good now too, but she has a lot to live up to now. :-) I like this song, it's good, and it ought to do well (although ballads are always dangerous ... but the Serbians kind of brought them back :-) but it doesn't grab me the way Angel always did from the word go. This song is more bland, more standard. Which of course is not in its favor. So I don't think Malta should be expecting too much ... it ought to do well, but if they couldn't win four years ago with that fantastic song, they sure won't be able to now.

And about the slams she's getting here and there about her weight ... seriously, who cares? She's a wonderful singer, no doubt one of the best we will see on stage in Moscow, if not the very best. So what if she's not skinny like all the rest? The interesting part is when you hear people say, She sings fantastically, it's too bad she's so fat. How stupid can you get? The fact that she's fat is a big reason why she sings so well. Why do they think so many great opera singers are overweight? Duh. People suck. >:-(

But this song certainly doesn't, even though I personally had been hoping for something even better. This is Chiara Siracusa performing What If We, written and composed by Gregory Bilsen and Marc Paelinck. They will be competing for Malta with the excellent starting number 17 in the first semi.* So I couldn't vote for this entry even if I wanted to. Let's hope it gets through.

Lyrics here.

*There are only 18 entries in the first semi because Georgia got disqualified.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

CYPRUS 2009: Christina Metaxa – Firefly


This is a song that I appreciate intellectually, but don't actually personally like. Or, it's not that I dislike it, it just leaves me cold. Also the singer is sort of weird-looking ... and no, I don't know what I mean by that. o_O

This is a good enough song, I suppose ... and I think it may do pretty well. It has originality, certainly. It's relatively melodious. The singer ... isn't very good, IMO. But she does have an unusual voice that the audience may remember. I suppose her voice fits the song well ... she said grudgingly. :-) I really don't know what it is about this song. It just doesn't reach me. There's something in the tune that I just feel is sort of off in some way.

Oh, and the video's kind of weird too. :-)

I can't explain it ... and I really don't know how this song will do in Moscow. I think maybe the juries will like it better than the audience. It will be interesting to see how they present this on stage.

This is Christina Metaxa performing Firefly by Nikolas Metaxas who will be competing for Cyprus in slot #7 on May 14th. They're going on stage right after us. That will hopefully be what we Norwegians like to call jumping after Wirkola. Jumping on skis, of course ... and Bjørn Wirkola is a legendary champion of that sport. :-)

From the national selections:

The official video:

Lyrics here.

Translation FAIL

This will only be funny/interesting to those who understand both English and Norwegian. Sorry.

Utdrag fra katalogen til en leverandør vi har på jobb. Detta oversettelsesstyret er vanskelig, asså ... !! Det er bra det finnes noen greier på data'n som kan hjelpe til med det. o_O

Hvis verktøykassen din ikke inneholder noe Ingersoll Rand verktøy, så er den BARE EN KASSE

Når en krevende jobb skal gjøres trenger du verktøy som må arbeide like hardt - om ikke hardere - enn du. Det er nøyaktig hva du får når du velger Ingersoll Rand.
For mer enn hundre år har navnet Ingersoll Rand stått for kvalitet og ytelse. Om du er en profesjonell bilmekaniker, så sørger vi for en komplett utvalg av solide trykkluftsverktøy, kompressorer, smøreutstyr og tilbehør du trenger for å få ting gjordt.

Den første familie av batteridrevet verktøy spesiellt utviklet for tunge oppgaver i bilverkstedet og måten du arbeider på.

Universellt batteri-grensesnitt gjør verktøyet kompatibelt med både NiCd og Li-Ion batterier, så vel som oppgraderbare til fremtidig teknologi.
En lader arbeider med alle IQv batterier ( 7.2 til 19.2V).

Et valg å stole på for karosseri og reparasjonsverksteder, for all mulig bruk fra arbeid med eksosanlegg til soltakinnstallasjon og karosserireparasjoner.

Tegnsetting, aargh, tegnsetting ... !!! o_O


Jeg er heller ikke sikker på om ordet vannskille-begivenhet er helt uproblematisk ...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

AZERBAIJAN 2009: AySel & Arash – Always

Meh. Nah. This is one of my least favorite entries this year. It's an amateurish effort performed by two singers who, IMO, aren't very good. The chorus is kind of catchy, but just in an annoying earworm way. The performance is embarrassing and the lyrics are stupid. I think I'm addicted to you/In your eyes I see dreams coming true. OK, whatever. This is Azerbaijan's second year in the contest; their first entry was weird and kind of creepy, but at least it was original. This is a standard pop song ... they've tried giving it a bit of a local flavor in the intro but ... nah. Meh. This song is just totally standard. Nothing special in any way. Filler.

I don't think Azerbaijan can hope to do very well this year. I certainly hope not - they don't deserve to with this thoroughly bland and not entirely professional entry.

This is AySel and her ... I want to say cousin? ... Arash performing Always by Arash Labaf, Robert Uhlmann, Johan Bejerholm, Marcus Englof, Alex Papaconstantinou, Elin Wrethov and Anderz Wrethov - whew! - who will be competing for Azerbaijan on May 14th. They have drawn a pretty good slot, #12. Don't think that will help them much though. >:-)

From the national selections:

The official video:

Lyrics here.

ARMENIA 2009: Inga & Anush - Jan jan

The first time I heard this song I didn't like it at all. I thought it was amateurish, badly performed, the singing wasn't good and the whole thing was just ... third world. It made me think, sheesh, this is what they're sending?? This was the best they had?? I really didn't like the song and I thought that it just ... wouldn't have a chance.

But then I saw the official video. WOW!! :-D It made my opinion do a total turnaround. I really like the video. And I like the song so much better, too. It is performed so much more professionally in the video, the melody comes through and you can tell that the song actually has a good rhythm. I like the singers too now. :-) The song has elements of folk music and mingles them well with a more modern beat; that should appeal to a big part of the audience. The video is fun ... which bodes well for the stage performance. I'm really looking forward to seeing this entry. This will be Armenia's 4th year competing ... they have done well every time so far, and I'm sure they will this year too. One day the ESC will be going to Yerevan. :-)

This is Inga and Anush Arshakyan performing Jan jan, with music and lyrics by Mane Hakobyan, Vardan Zadoyan and Avet Barseghyan who will be competing for Armenia in 6th place on May 12th. Yay. :-)

From the national contest:

The official video:

Lyrics here.

ANDORRA 2009: Susanne Georgi - La teva decisió

OK, now, I know this isn't just me - this song is a Katy Perry ripoff. Seriously, this is a total scam. Even so I kind of like it. It's a catchy song with a good beat. I like the singer ... she is Danish originally, an immigrant to Andorra, and she has a pretty good voice, I think. I like it that she's not a stick insect like a lot of the performers often are ... OK, not just in the ESC, but generally on the music scene. This girl looks like a real-life woman. :-) She's confident on stage and her performance is itself pretty good ... the choreography & costumes are naff IMO, but then again, Serbia's entry in 2007 was even worse and they sure turned it around by the final. ;-) I don't like the video much. It'll be interesting to see how they'll present this on stage. I think a lot will depend on that.

Andorra is one of the few nations that openly say that they absolutely don't want to win the ESC. I understand them, totally. The Eurovision Song Contest is, literally, the biggest show on earth. There isn't an arena in Andorra that's big enough to house it. They would have to ask for help from Spain or France ... and the expense would be staggering for them. Nope, they don't want to ever win. They just want to participate, to have the attention of all of Europe for three minutes once a year and to show off their language a bit. They mostly sing in their own language, which I think is great. I really appreciate their attitude, and I wish more of the participating nations would share it.

This song may do pretty well, but I'm not at all sure that it will. I think it may be too much of a standard pop song to really be noticed. I like it. The chorus is catchy and I like the singer. But ... it may slip through the cracks. Good luck, Andorra ... you can hold your head up this year, whatever happens. :-)

This is Susanne Georgi performing La teva decisió by Rune Braager, Lene Dissing, Marcus Winther-John, Pernille Georgi and Susanne Georgi who will be competing for Andorra in the first semi, performing in slot #7.

Performance in the national final:

Official video:

Lyrics here.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

THE NETHERLANDS 2009: The Toppers - Shine

Huh. Listening to this song I'm kind of weirded out. It's a good song, and I like it - although I'm not sure I'll remember it for very long; it doesn't have a whole lot of personality - but somehow it sounds ... old. Like ... this is a song that really could have held its own against Love Shine A Light. That's what this reminds me of - and it isn't just the title, honestly. :-) It's the beat, too, the whole style of the song. But that's good, right? Love was a winner, literally. Yees ... twelve years ago. o_O I'm really not sure whether audiences will connect to this type of song now. IMO this entry has the feel of a '90s pop song. Which in itself isn't bad - the 1990s was a good decade for pop music. It's just that ... things have moved on since then. The ESC too, although some may claim it hasn't. >:-) That is BS and everyone who knows anything does know that. The ESC has evolved enormously over the past ... let's say 5-7 years. These days there are soo many different types of music competing, there is experimentation going on, and I feel as if the Netherlands are trying to go the safe route by sending this entry. Which can work, I'm not saying it can't. I just am not sure that it will. I'm not sure that the international audience won't be simply bored with this song.

Although it is a good entry - I almost said 'by ESC standards', but I'll try to control myself ;-) - it has a good melody, a pretty catchy rhythm, lyrics that are easy to understand and a professional band who give a good performance and seem happy and confident on stage. This entry has a lot going for it. But somehow, despite all this, my hopes aren't very high. I think the audience will think that they've heard this one before and then mostly forget about it in favor of something more memorable.

Although it will be interesting to see what they decide to wear on stage. ;-)

This is The Toppers performing Shine by Bas van den Heuvel and Ger van de Westelaken who will be competing for the Netherlands in the prime slot in the second semi, ie as #19 on May 14th.

Lyrics here.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Great Keanupic

Easter vacation is almost over ... back to work tomorrow. I've had a good vacay :-) - I've just stayed in the city (although my mother did try to make me go to our cabin with them - sorry, that's strictly a summer activity for me :-) and have hung out with friends every day but today. Today I've just been at home relaxing and reading and doing some housework. I started reading a new book that I totally love, Enslaved by Ducks. Wonderful reading for pet lovers. :-) And now I'm just about to cook myself a delicious dinner. Anyway ...

I've also been surfing a lot - of course, it's soo easy. ;-) I've come across some interesting things. Not that I remember a lot of them now, but still. One of them I certainly do remember. ;-) Namely this wonderful Keanupic that I somehow have never ever seen before. :-o I have very little idea when & where this was taken, but it's a fantastic shot. Look at that smile. Aww. :-)

Hope everyone's had a great Easter! :-)