Saturday, April 30, 2011

Books I've read in 2011 - April

The Fall by Guillermo del Toro/Chuck Hogan
Fat Land by Greg Critser
Dead Aid by Dambisa Moyo
Out of Shadows by Jason Wallace
Muleum by Erlend Loe - AUDIO
Dödligt villospår by Nora Roberts - AUDIO
Lille stjärna by John Ajvide Lindqvist
Moby-Dick by Herman Melville - AUDIO
Silhuet af en synder by Leonora Christina Skov
Hvermann by Philip Roth - AUDIO
The Collector by John Fowles
Englefall by Tracy Chevalier - AUDIO
Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith - AUDIO
Golden Witchbreed by Mary Gentle
Musketerenes siste bedrifter, volume 3 by Alexandre Dumas

Yup, this will be updated. Later ... :-)

In other news: look what I got in the mail today!! OMG OMG OMG!!

Remember yesterday that I couldn't really get a grip on the Ukrainian song, and basically didn't think I liked it all that much? Well, now that I can listen to it without being disturbed by the mirror-toting angel boys, I love it! It's wonderful, I'm totally loving it. So yeah, I am absolutely right about that presentation being dangerously distracting. Lose the angels and we may be talking some pretty good results here. :-)

Friday, April 29, 2011

UKRAINE 2011 - Angel

Isn't it annoying when some other country ends up choosing the wrong song in their national selections, and there's nothing you can do about it? The Swedes did that in 2007, and I still haven't gotten over it. Now the Ukrainians did it this year. I wanted this song to win in Ukraine this year. Sure, her dress needs a little nip and tuck, the performance is kind of overblown sometimes, and I don't know what the deal is with that thing on her head, but the song ... it's the song that counts. Mostly. :-) And this song is lovely ... and nowhere near as crazy-looking as the one that actually won. o_O

But alas, wishes don't always come true. And I guess there isn't all that much wrong with the entry they did choose. It's just ... I don't know, I can hardly focus on the song, the presentation gets totally in the way for me. Those dancing boys dressed as angels, and carrying mirrors ... and so much body makeup ... I'm sorry, it just messes up the whole thing. And with those lyrics, brrr ... it would have been so much better if they'd have kept them in Russian. At least then I could have hoped they were a little less ... profound ... than they are now revealed to be. Those lyrics + that presentation = bad idea. If I were writing this in Norwegian, I would be using the adjective overtydelig right about now. Oh well. They may end up changing it for all I know. I hope they do.

This song isn't all that bad, it could have been both worse and better, but I think it's too anonymous to do well in Düsseldorf. And the presentation is just completely distracting. Thumbs down for Ukraine.

If you're thinking that this singer has pretty lousy pronunciation considering her name, don't worry. 'Tain't her real name, as Baldrick would say. Wasn't it Baldrick?

Oh well. This is Mika Newton, so-called, performing Angel by Maryna Skomorohova and Ruslan Kvinta. They will be competing for the Ukraine on Thursday, May 12th.

Widescreen here.

Lyrics here.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

SERBIA 2011 - Čaroban

Ah, Serbia!! I always look forward to seeing what the Serbians will bring to the contest, because they're responsible for literally my favorite ESC entry ever ... and that's from among more than 1200 songs now. o_O But although there are soo many good songs on that list, Molitva is still my all time favorite. Not even the Serbians have been able to come up with anything quite that wonderful since. ;-) But hope springs eternal, and the Serbian song is pretty much always well worth listening to.

This year is no different ... in fact, this year is another standout. The Serbian song is one of the best songs in the lineup this year. Yay!! :-D It's catchy, it's fun, it's well performed ... I really like the singer's voice, it's rather unusual, she's really good. I'm not entirely entranced by the presentation ... obviously, the sixties are back, but too much of a good thing and all that. If you watch the video below, you'll see that it works pretty well, but also that it's on a pretty small stage. In Düsseldorf the stage will be huge, and all that patterning may become rather overwhelming in that format. You may remember the Icelandic dolphin in Moscow (I know that at least one person reading this remembers it vividly ;-) ... that kind of thing may seem smart in theory, but in reality it may steal attention from what's really important. You know, the song. People should remember the song and not the dolphin, or whatever. I'm hoping that they will change the presentation at least somewhat. Because this song really deserves to be noticed.

It's a really good song, it's well performed with a lot of charm and liveliness by a beautiful young woman. What's not to like?? Good luck to Serbia, although they won't really need it. Top ten for sure, probably top five. They're in our semi, so I can't vote for them in that round, but I'm absolutely sure I'll get the chance to do so in the final. :-)

This is Nina, as she's calling herself professionally, performing Čaroban by Kristina Kovač who'll be competing for Serbia on Tuesday, May 10th.

Widescreen here.

Lyrics with translation here.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

DENMARK 2011 - New Tomorrow

As we all know, I'm a very shallow and judgmental person. So it won't surprise you to hear that before I ever heard this song, I disliked it ... based solely on the title. I'm sorry, but come on, cliché much?? I also cannot stand the singer's hair, it's awful ... it's worse than those Irish twins'. And the lyrics ... OK, they're not all bad, but ... well, they're mostly bad. And that is so annoying, because melody-wise, this song is actually really likeable. If only they'd been singing in some language I couldn't understand, I would really like this song, because the melody is actually pretty damn catchy.

In fact it's so catchy that I'm pretty sure it's ripped off from somewhere. Listen to the chorus. Where have I heard that before?

This is the kind of song that I wish I could like, and that I would have liked if only I had had the ability that some people have of just hearing what I want to hear. You know, the kind of people who don't understand why I get annoyed by crappy subtitles at the movies - 'why don't you just not read them?' WTF? Like my mother says about Progress Party politics, if it was that easy, I'd already be doing it. >:-( But I digress.

Denmark usually does pretty well in the ESC, at least they mostly tend to get to the final. They may manage it this year too, but I'm not entirely convinced. This is such a clichéfest that they will have to rely on people not understanding English much and a lot of dumb teenagers liking fluffy lightweight songs that pretend to be deep. Both those things ought to be a cinch! :-D But the song may not have enough personality for the audience to remember much of it. It's upbeat and harmless. Let's make a new tomorrow - today. Blargh.

This is A Friend In London - their band name is dumb too! - performing New Tomorrow by Lise Cabble and Jakob Glæsner. They will be competing for Denmark on Thursday, May 12th.

Widescreen here.

Lyrics here.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

MOLDOVA 2011 - So Lucky

Yeah, this entry's pretty crazy-lookin'. And it sounds pretty out there too. But don't dismiss these guys at first glance. The audience likes them. How do I know that? Because six years ago, they came 6th ... with a song that wasn't entirely unlike this one. Remember in Kyiv, the band that sang about a grandmother beating a big drum, and who left one of their members backstage so that they could be joined on stage by ... wait for it ... a grandmother beating a big drum? Yup. That was these guys. :-)

This isn't entirely my type of music - it's a bit too noisy and unmelodious for me - but I still kind of like the entry. It's fun, and I really like that they're doing something a little off the wall like this. I'll be interested in seeing how they'll present it ... it's not a given (fortunately?) that they will have a unicyclist on stage in Düsseldorf. :-) But I'm sure that however they choose to do it, it'll be something different from the typical ESC fare.

Moldova's only been in the contest since 2005, and they've done well ... they've gotten to the final all of those years except one. IMO there's no reason to doubt that they will be in the final this year too. :-)

This is Zdob şi Zdub performing So Lucky by Marc Elsner, Mihai Gîncu, Roman Iagupov and Andy Shuman. Roman and Mihai are in the band. :-) They will be competing for Moldova on Thursday, May 12th.

Widescreen here.

Lyrics here.

Monday, April 25, 2011

ESTONIA 2011 - Rockefeller Street

Does anyone remember the Swedish entry back in 2005 ... ? It was so weird because it was a Swedish song, in Ukraine, and it was about an American city. It was seriously bizarre. And they ended up seriously bombing. Listen to the lyrics of this year's Estonian entry and I'm sure you'll see why I'm bringing this up now.

But apart from that, this is actually a pretty darn good song. It has some features that are a little jarring - like the segue from the chorus to the verse, I'm not at all sure about that - but overall I think this is really good. Catchy and pretty original. I like it. I have a good feeling about Estonia this year. The presentation needs some tweaking, maybe especially her outfit (sorry) but the song itself ought to be a shoe-in for the top ten. At least. Good luck to Estonia. :-)

Check it out. This is Getter Jaani performing Rockefeller Street by Sven Lõhmus. He'll be competing for Estonia on Thursday, May 12th.

Widescreen here.

Lyrics here.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

AUSTRIA 2011 - The Secret Is Love

So, the presentation is important, but the performer is important too. Which this entry shows us. Wow.

Austria used to be a real regular in the ESC, but that was way back when ... since about the mid-90s their participation has been somewhat irregular. They haven't been in the contest now for four years, and they didn't get results worth bringing home ... hence their lack of participation. But now they're back, and, fingers crossed, this year all of that will change.

This song, in itself, isn't necessarily all that. It's good, sure. It's a power ballad well worth a listen. But it's not necessarily anything out of the ordinary. What totally makes this entry is the singer's voice. She has a fantastic voice. The performance starts out pretty run of the mill, but when this chick gets going ... Wow. That really sums it up right there. Wow.

I've got my fingers crossed for Austria this year. Talent like this deserves to be rewarded. And a voice like this is sure to be noticed.

But listen for yourselves! This is Nadine Beiler performing The Secret Is Love, composed by Thomas Rabitsch and with lyrics by Nadine herself. Make sure you listen to the whole thing. Wow. :-)

Widescreen here.

Lyrics here.

TURKEY 2011 - Live It Up

Turkey's become kind of a country to watch in recent years, just because it's so tricky to figure out what they'll end up sending. :-D This year though they seem to have stuck to what worked last year - rock music, a bit on the heavy side by ESC standards. They did extremely well with that last year - they came second, and deservedly so, that was a very good song. This one, alas, doesn't quite reach those heights.

The fate of this entry will depend to a large extent on the presentation, IMO. There's nothing wrong with the song, as such - it's pretty catchy and a pretty good performance. But it's so extremely ... standard. This is what Iceland did in 2007. They had a fantastic song - much better than this one - but we all remember ;-) how that went.They didn't even make it to the final. IMO that was 100% due to the presentation. The song was so great, but the performance was so incredibly boring. Everyone watching had seen it a hundred times before. And that's the problem with this song too. I mean, with this entry. The song's pretty good, but it's presented with absolutely no originality. Unless that is changed, it may well be the downfall of this entry ... and yes, I know it doesn't look all that different from the presentation of their song last year, but that was a significantly better song, and the band was much more ... I'm sorry, but young and energetic.

One may think that it isn't right that in a competition like this, which is for composers and songwriters, the presentation is so important. That's as may be. But like it or not, the reality is that the presentation is very significant, and contestants just have to accept that as given. This isn't radio.

Watch this and judge for yourself - this is Yüksek Sadakat performing Live It Up by Kutlu Özmakinaci and Ergün Arsal. They will be competing for Turkey on Tuesday, May 10th.

Widescreen here.

Lyrics here.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Quote of the Week

The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.
Winston Churchill

Friday, April 22, 2011

BULGARIA 2011 - Na inat

What to say about this song? Meh. That really sums up my feelings about this song. It's just meh. There's nothing much I can say about it that's very negative, except that the melody is kind of strange, not very melodious, and the singer's voice is nothing special. But the tune improves as you go along, it starts out rather strange, but it does improve. So there's nothing very much wrong with it, as such.

However, I don't have a lot of positive things to say about this entry either. Was this really the best there was in the Bulgarian lineup this year? It's an honest question, I haven't checked out the competition, but it's weird to think that there was nothing that stood out more than this. It's just a really anonymous entry with little to no personality that I can spot, and nothing to make it stand out in the crowd.

Bulgaria's been in the contest since 2005, but they've basically had the most pathetic showing EVER for that whole time. For some mysterious reason they managed to come 5th in 2007. I'm not a fan of that song, but obviously a lot of others were. So, 5th, that's pretty good, you probably wouldn't call that pathetic, right? No, I wouldn't either, except that that is the one time they've managed to even qualify for the final in six years. o_O Personally I loved their song last year, but not a lot of others did. :-) So they mostly struggle along somewhere at the back.

I have an extremely hard time believing that this song could possibly change that.

This is Poly Genova performing Na inat (it's in Bulgarian, kudos for that) which she cowrote with Sebastian Arman, David Bronner and Borislav Milanov. This optimistic foursome will compete for Bulgaria on Thursday, May 12th.

Widescreen here.

Lyrics with translation here.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Five years of turtle fun

Well, actually a little longer than that, since I got my very first turtle - who is now, sadly, no longer among us - in the summer of 2005. But as far as the current residents are concerned, this is a noteworthy day.

Today it's been five years since I got Raphael. I met him for the first time, and brought him home, on April 20th, 2006. That's pretty crazy. I can hardly believe it's five years ago. Almost half his life. :-) Here he is on their first outing this year, two days ago.

I've had the little guys for about the same length of time. I totally forgot that it was Herman's fifth anniversary with me this spring too. Shame on me. :-) I got him five years ago on March 4th. I remember that so vividly. My little fellow. :-)

Henrik's been here five years on ... I want to say July 12th. Thereabouts. That little clawbreaker ... ! :-D

The first time I met Raphael he wanted nothing to do with me. I tried holding him, but he wriggled free every time and hurried over to his then owner and climbed up on her lap instead. When he came here to live with me it took him a really long time to get used to his new surroundings, and to feel comfortable with me. It's gone up and down since then ... a few times when I've been away on longer trips, he's kind of forgotten about me and we've had to start over, so to speak. This winter I've been really working on socializing him, and I think I've succeeded a little too well. I may have damaged him a little mentally and emotionally. :-) He's rather obsessed with me now, he follows me around if he gets the chance and wants nothing more than to climb on me and get as close as he possibly can. Ideally as close as this, all the time. Click to enlarge.

It's not entirely normal ... like for instance, showing him things has gotten to be really impossible now. If I'm holding him I can't get him interested in anything, almost. It only works if it's something edible that he likes. Other than that, usually no. He used to show much more interest in objects that I showed him, he would sniff at them, maybe touch them, sometimes even try to bite at them. But not anymore. Now he just wants to look at me. :-D Seriously - he'll squirm around any which way to try to look at my face instead of whatever else I'm trying to get him interested in. It's weird. I've always noticed how these animals are so aware of it whenever they're getting human attention. Which makes sense, since captive turtles get their food from humans; they benefit from being aware of some basics of our behavior. But Raphael's really taking it to extremes. I've always said that he's a little weirdo, but now he's living up to that, big time. I literally can't go into the guest room - his room :-) - without him practically throwing himself out of the pond* and running after me. Twolegs twolegs twolegs!! Look at me twolegs!! I'm here twolegs!! Looklooklookatme!!

I'm really glad turtles don't have vocal chords.

*That is, if he's even in the pond, and not waiting just inside the door as he has gotten into the habit of doing pretty much every single day when I get home. o_O

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA 2011 - Love In Rewind

When I posted about this year's German entry a couple of days ago and said how weird it was that they're sending the same singer as last year, I obviously didn't mean that it's weird for the same people to come back every so often, contributing in different ways ... the weirdness is that she performed the winning song literally last year, and now she's already back again. That is weird. But Dino Merlin being back again isn't weird. :-) Really. :-)

This will be his third time participating, but it's been a few years ago - he competed in 1993 and in 1999. He's also never won, but he did do pretty damn well the last time around ... he came 7th and that's Bosnia's best ever result apart from their absolutely beautiful entry in 2006, which as we all know ;-) came 3rd. The first time he competed he came 16th ... so, not so great. But that was Bosnia's first time in the contest, so 16 out of 25 was relatively respectable, all things considered. Anyway, he started out pretty low and climbed through the ranks with his next effort - so what will he manage this time around? :-D

I'm really not sure. He's obviously a charming guy, and I personally really like seeing older people in the contest ... he may get a few votes on that. :-) His voice isn't the strongest, but it suits the song. And there's nothing wrong with the song itself, as such. It's kind of fun ... rather low key, but that did work really well for Belgium last year. What I'm really not sure about is the performance. All that leg stamping ... the dancing, or whatever you want to call it ... the tambourine ... It's just all really kooky and I think that may put some people off the song, to be honest. It starts out well, but then they start acting all crazy. ;-) But they may well change that completely for Düsseldorf - the choreography you see in the video is obviously made for a stage that is much much smaller than they will have to deal with in Germany. So here's hoping. :-)

This is Dino Merlin performing Love In Rewind, his own composition - kudos for that. He will be competing for Bosnia & Herzegovina on Thursday, May 12th, when he will be opening the whole show. Good luck. :-)

Widescreen here.

Lyrics here.

Monday, April 18, 2011

A favorite book

Golden Witchbreed by Mary Gentle.

I basically never reread books - there are so many books in the world, and among them so many that I want to read, that I just don't have the time to go back and read 'old' books over again. But sometimes I make an exception. Right now I'm rereading this amazing novel ... beyond amazing, stunning, fantastic. A science fiction story on a relatively low tech world. Aliens and alien culture. Incredible worldbuilding. I loved this book so much the first time I read it, and now it's been long enough since I did that I can go back to it and hopefully not remember that much. :-)

For my part, I prefer aliens that look alien. Then when they ritually eat their firstborn, or turn arthropod halfway through their life-cycle, it isn't so much of a shock. You expect it. Humanoid aliens, they're trouble.
Lynne de Lisle Christie, envoy of the Dominion of Earth to
Carrick V

Sunday, April 17, 2011

ITALY 2011 - Follia d'amore

This year's ESC is a special event in one respect - after thirteen years, Italy is back in the contest. The ESC has never had the status in Italy that it's enjoyed in the rest of Europe ... they've never really needed it, they've had the San Remo festival - which, in fact, was the inspiration for the ESC back in the 1950s. They've been on a long hiatus, but now they're back, and as tradition dictates it is one of the San Remo winners who will represent them in Düsseldorf.

Personally I'm thrilled to see them back. I just wish it had been with a better song. >:-)

This entry is pretty ambitious, which I suppose is a good thing, as a general rule ... but it'll be interesting to see how they will manage this in Germany, considering the fact that the orchestra accompaniment is no longer in use in the ESC. It'll probably be rather less impressive. :-) But it'll be interesting to see how they present it. It's fun to see this type of song in the contest, I love any new type of music that pops up among the usual ditties. So kudos to the Italians for trying. But I don't hold out high hopes for this entry. It's rather too unusual to get very far. Look to Germany in 2007 and 2009. Points for trying, but not a lot of points from Europe, I suspect.

Personally I think the song itself isn't at all bad, it's the voice of the singer that ruins it. If he can even be called a singer. He really can't sing for shit. Especially the ending of the song is almost painful to listen to. Again, it'll be interesting to see how they'll present it. How they'll try to cover up his voice. :-D

Check it out for yourselves. This is Raphael Gualazzi performing Follia d'amore - his own composition, points for that too. He will be competing for Italy - one of the Big Five :-) - on Saturday, May 14th.

Widescreen here.

Lyrics with translation here.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

GERMANY 2011 - Taken By A Stranger

Every time I hear the title of this song, I immediately think of the Kim Wilde classic Never Trust A Stranger. Which is infinitely more catchy than this. Oh well.

Another thing I struggle with about this entry is the fact that Germany is sending the same singer that performed their winning entry last year. That is SO WEIRD. Nobody's ever done that before. And statistically, it's bizarre that they should think it would work - following trends doesn't work in the ESC, because whichever type of song has won in any year, it's almost a guarantee that something pretty different will win the following year. So I'm not really able to follow their logic here. In the performance of the song that I've seen she even wears a dress that looks extremely similar to what she wore on stage here last year. It's beyond weird.

But alas, I do quite like the song. The lyrics are quite strange, but then again they're not written by native English speakers, so it's not that surprising. You expect strange lyrics in the ESC. :-) The melody's very good, quite ambitious. Not catchy. That's not a plus. It may require more than one listen to really get to grips with ... it's not what you'd call accessible. It reminds me of the Ukrainian song last year, Sweet People. That was a very good song too, but too ambitious for the ESC. They did well with it - ended up 10th - but had deserved to do better. But it was no surprise that they didn't, because, as I say, it wasn't easily accessible. Ukraine did have the advantage of being heard twice, which Germany never has.

It's a good song, in fact very good, once you get past the total weirdness of the entry as such. But it may end up doing surprisingly badly. I hope not, but there you go. It depends in part on the presentation, which will of course look rather different - I hope very different - from what you'll see in the video below. (The EBU only permits six people on stage per entry in the ESC.)

This is Lena Meyer-Landrut - again! o_O - performing Taken By A Stranger by Gus Seiffert, Nicole Morier and Monica Birkenes (a Norwegian! We are indeed everwhere :-). They will be competing for Germany on Saturday, May 14th.

Widescreen here.

Lyrics here.

Friday, April 15, 2011

SLOVAKIA 2011 - I'm Still Alive

Slovakia's a country that's been on the outskirts of the contest, so to speak ... they've only participated a few times, and they haven't done well when they have. But personally I like them a lot ... the last couple of years I've really looked forward to seeing what they'd bring to the metaphorical table.

They didn't disappoint me this year either. I like this song a lot ... but I'm not convinced they'll do much better than their usual. :-( It's a sweet and rather low-key ballad, and IMO it's quite beautiful. But it's also quite probably rather too low-key to make a real impression on the audience. It's beautiful, but at the same time a bit bland. It's probably going to be difficult for this entry to make a real impact on the audience on just the one listen. Here's hoping it won't be overshadowed by Belgium and Ukraine. :-) It'll be interesting to see how they'll present it too.

The song is performed by not one, but two beautiful young women, which of course can't be bad. So fingers crossed for Slovakia. Although I've had my fingers crossed for them for the past two years, and it hasn't really helped. Alas.

This is Daniela and Veronika Nízlová, who are indeed sisters, as TWiiNS (the less said about the name, the better) performing I'm Still Alive by Bryan Todd, Sandra Nordstrom and Brano Jancich. They will be competing for Slovakia on Thursday, May 12th. Good luck!!

Fullscreen here.

Lyrics here.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Postcrossing rocks

Because sometimes you find something like this in your mailbox. How awesome is that. :-)

This card travelled 15,365 kilometers to get to me. Wow. :-)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A real moneysaver

Or maybe not.

I've been following developments recently in this food price debacle ... it's now supposedly been proven that food is inordinately expensive in this country. I both agree and disagree with that. I disagree, because prices in themselves are meaningless - if something costs 1,000 crowns, that doesn't mean anything as such. What's relevant is how long I have to work to earn enough to buy it. And since we have never spent a smaller percentage of our salaries on food, I can only conclude that food has never been cheaper in this country. What is it, 11% of what an average Norwegian worker earns is spent on food? Fifty years ago it was more like 40%. So food cannot possibly be more expensive now that it was then.

However, I do also agree that food is at the same time, paradoxically, too expensive. It's expensive because the so-called food they're selling us is such trash. Basically any other European country you can go to, you'll find much better selections much cheaper. Sure, their wage levels are lower than ours, across the board. But since we have more money, shouldn't we have a better selection of items available, not a worse one? o_O

Anyway ... the primary reason for the shit the grocery chains are passing off as food in this country is that Norwegians are such incredible cheapskates. We spend hardly any of our money on food and we're whining about that being too much. Sometimes I think that the only way to make Norwegians happy about food prices is to give it to us for free. >:-(

OK, I could go on and on about this, but there's actually a specific point I wanted to make here. It's actually part of this obsession with 'cheap at any cost'. They did a segment on this on the news tonight. They had sent one guy to a grocery store in the mall at Storo, and another guy to some other grocery store just across the border. They both bought all of the same stuff, and then they had them on live at the same time and they showed us their groceries and told us what they cost. The whole thing was set up so that we would be blown away by the price differences. But seriously ...

The shopping basket in Norway cost 186 crowns, and the identical items in Sweden cost 150 crowns. So ... drive for two hours and spend however much on gas, the price of which is hitting an all time high here right now, and you can save 36 crowns. Wow.

Yes, I understand that the normal shopper would buy much more on each trip across the border. But still. They made it sound like it was a big deal, and we'd be shocked. But 36 crowns, who cares? I wouldn't even notice 36 crowns. And since our wage level is about 20% above the Swedish one, wouldn't almost all of it disappear anyway if the playing field was really level?

And, not least, is it really newsworthy that Wasa crisp bread is cheaper in Sweden than it is in Norway?? Wouldn't it rather be a story if it was more expensive there?? How stupid do they think we are? Or more interesting, how stupid are we?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Årets oversettertabbe

Og så er vi ikke kommet lenger enn til midten av april. Triste greier. Eller, egentlig er det mest av alt vanvittig morsomt. Det er sånne ting som man bare drømmer om skal skje, men det skjer veldig sjelden, og hva er oddsene for at man får det med seg når det skjer? Det er jo en uendelighet av tomsinger der ute, en endeløs parade av idioter, man kan umulig følge med på alt.

Men man merker seg jo gjerne noen man bør følge ekstra med på. Det er visse steder hvor dimlingene samler seg i større antall enn normalt, for å si det sånn. Dagbladets redaksjon er et sånt sted. I papirutgaven i går fant jeg årets oversettertabbe.

Beklager denne amatørmessige illustrasjonen ... jeg kunne jo ha skannet dette, men jeg måtte i så fall ha gjort det på jobb, og det kom jeg ikke på før det var for seint. Akk. Men klikk for å forstørre bildet, så ser dere vel forhåpentligvis nok. Det håper jeg for deres skyld, for dette er altså så avsindig fantastisk. IMMD.

Det dreier seg om en sånn Verden i bilder-sak som de gjerne døtter inn litt her og der som fyllstoff. De kan ofte være litt interessante. Omhandler mange forskjellige uviktige ting fra rundt om i verden som tomsingene i redaksjonen sakser fra NTB, AFP, etc. :-D Så tror de at de oversetter sakene før de trykker dem. Men egentlig bare bytter de ut ord som høres ut som om de passer. Som for eksempel her.

Saken handler om en slik en - Pithecophaga jefferyi, den filippinske apeørnen. På engelsk heter ørn eagle. Altså, når en engelsktalende person snakker eller skriver om en eagle, så mener h*n en ørn. Altså en fugl. Dette SELV OM ordet ser nesten akkurat ut som 'øgle'!! Utrolig!

Her er det som dere ser et kjempedigert bilde av fuglen, faktisk mer bilde enn tekst. På bildet ser fuglen ut som en fugl. I teksten står det om fjær. Hm, en øgle med fjær. Hva kaller man nå en sånn en igjen? Kan det være ... en FUGL??? :-D

Monday, April 11, 2011

POLAND 2011 - Jestem

Ah, Poland - proof that the diaspora vote is mostly a myth. They used to do OK, even did pretty well once, then started bombing, and now, well, that's kind of what we expect of them. Poland will bomb. I keep hoping that that will change some day. :-)

And who knows, maybe this is the year?? For my money this year's entry is one of the best they've ever sent. It's really weird - I started out not liking it at all, because it opens with such a strange unmelodious intro. But it gets SO much better and is actually a really cool and catchy song. AFAIK they will keep the Polish language lyrics in Düsseldorf - I certainly hope so.

The singer's voice isn't the strongest, but the song is so cool that you hardly notice it. :-)

I also hope they will change the choreography, because the way it was in their national final it kind of ruined the song a bit. It was just too much. Too many elements all beating each other over the head. IMO they should trim it down, keep it simple. Focus on Magdalena and get rid of all these distractions. It's dangerous to present an entry with too much in the way of trimmings ... the song gets lost in it. Wasn't it Slovenia who messed up like that in 2008 ... they had a really cool song that could really have gone somewhere, but the way they presented it was totally screwy, so people were turned off by that ... or failed to notice the song. :-D Same thing with Andorra that year. Their song was fun, but nobody listened to it, everyone was distracted by the guy in the green bodysuit. o_O

But where was I? Oh yeah, I'm digging this song. Just as long as they get the choreography and scenography right. Fingers crossed!! I so wish I could vote for them, but alas, they're in our semi. They're opening it, in fact, which should be good for them. Possibly not so good for our Stella to come on after this. But hey, let's be optimistic - maybe they'll get the audience going and she can surf on their wave. ;-)

Best of luck to Poland!! If they get to the final I will definitely be voting for them. :-) This is Magdalena Tul performing Jestem, which is, even better, her own composition. :-) Yay for Magdalena!! :-D She will be competing for Poland on Tuesday, May 10th. Good luck!!

Widescreen here.

Lyrics with translation here.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Noen som har CANAL+?

Altså, noen som jeg kjenner? Jeg har det nemlig ikke. Har ikke den helt store trangen til å betale masse spenn for å få det heller. Allerede som det er nå har jeg jo en hel bråte med kanaler som jeg aldri ser på og som jeg kunne ha klart meg godt uten. Alle disse Canal+-kanalene viser sikkert en del morsomme ting de, for all del, jeg har ikke noe imot dem i utgangspunktet, men jeg føler egentlig at jeg ser for mye på TV som det er. Og så himla spennende er det ikke det de viser. OK, jeg kunne godt tenkt meg å se andre sesongen av V. Men jeg kan fint leve uten til den kommer på DVD. Jeg kommer uansett til å kjøpe den da. Men.

Noe jeg dessverre kommer til å slite noe veldig veldig veldig mye med er å vite at Game of Thrones begynner der den 4. mai, og ikke kunne se på den. Argh. Så er det noen jeg kjenner som har Canal+ - tror det er den kanalen som heter Canal+Series - så har dere en mulighet til å gjøre meg avsindig superglad ... ;-)

Ja, jeg kommer selvfølgelig til å kjøpe den også når sjansen byr seg. ;-) Men da må jeg jo vente ... !! Så det kommer til å bli lidelsesfullt. Jeg er også selvsagt klar over at det er en mulighet for å serien kommer til å suge rør. Hvis noen som leser dette har lest noe av Terry Goodkind og så sett Legend of the Seeker, så deler de helt sikkert bekymringene mine. (Med dette mener jeg selvfølgelig ikke å indikere at bøkene til Goodkind ikke suger rør.) Men jeg tror faktisk at det kommer til å bli bra. Se på traileren. Det ser veldig bra ut. Argh, jeg kan ikke se på det, jeg kan ikke vente ... !!

Fullskjerm her.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

NORWAY 2011 - Haba haba

Why doesn't the first verse of this song rhyme when it so easily could rhyme? When I's a little girl, my grandma told me/That I could be just anything I wanted to ... No, I didn't forget 'be' at the end there. WHY doesn't it rhyme?? It would even have fit the meter of the song better. Argh!

Anyway ... I just had to say that. It annoys me. I'm kind of OCD like that. But in all fairness, it doesn't matter that Stella Mwangi's English isn't the best, because most of the audience will be much worse than her. So there's nothing to worry about. It's probably not even 'wrong' but just the way a native Swahili speaker would speak English. (Ie, they speak wrong. >:-) This isn't any kind of serious problem with this song, it just bugs me.

AFAIK this song represents a first in ESC history - I don't think anyone has ever sent an entry with Swahili lyrics before. :-D OK, it's mostly English, only the chorus is in Swahili. But still. Yay Norway, we are the weirdest! :-D

This song won our national contest this year with a huge majority of the votes - almost a little surprising, since we had a pretty even field to choose from. But there were very few standout songs, although the quality was relatively high overall. This song did stand out, in several ways ... all of them to do with the singer and lyricist, Stella. She is Kenyan born and raised in Norway after her family came to this country as political refugees when she was five. She was beyond ecstatic to win and will probably be super psyched when she's on stage in Düsseldorf. :-)

As I say, she is the strongest feature of the entry - she is beautiful and adorable and fantastically energetic. She has great stage presence and is very confident and happy on stage. The Norwegian audience found her high spirits very infectious ... hopefully European audiences will feel the same way. :-)

Her weak spot is that she can't sing for shit. I'm sorry, that sounds nasty, but it's true. Her voice is so weak that it's embarrassing at times ... and the song is for some reason set up to really highlight this fact. It starts out with a bang, lots of fun music, but then, just as the first verse starts, they drop the music and leave her voice to carry the entire thing. BAD choice. It just shines a merciless spotlight on the one really weak point this entry has. I have no idea why they've set it up like this. I'm hoping they'll change it before May 10th, but I'm not optimistic. They should also change her outfit.

In this country we tend to always be ridiculously optimistic about our ESC entries, we always think we'll win no matter how shitty our song is. Once in a blue moon we're on to something, but usually not. :-) This year it's the same as always. I'm not buying it ... I don't think we have a chance in hell of winning with this song. But that's good, of course - we don't want to win again this soon. So yay, we won't win. :-D On the other hand, it's always nice to not totally bomb. Top ten is great, top five is wonderful. I've got my fingers crossed for top ten. ;-) The song is great as a live performance, it gets people up on their feet and dancing, and that is seriously important in the ESC. We're almost opening our semi, we're starting second, which may be to our advantage now that people can vote from the start of the show. It's an uptempo fun song performed by a pretty girl, that usually goes down well. So ... here's hoping.

We may also end up doing surprisingly badly, partly because the singer is black and quite a lot of people down east aren't big fans of black people. That sounds pretty bad, but it's the truth. Not only 'down' east, either, for that matter (Russia, I'm looking at you). We're going to lose some points over that. Another thing is that this song has literally nothing to do with Norway, so audiences may be turned off by that. I know I bitched enough about our song in 2007, exactly because of this ... and I think that was the main reason it bombed. Nobody out there could understand why the Norwegian entry was called Ven a bailar conmigo. And yes, that was ridiculous. I don't think it's ridiculous this year, because while the song isn't connected to Norway or Norwegian culture, it is representative of the singer and lyricist. Who does have a strong connection to Norway. So I will not dismiss the entry because of this ... but Europe may do so, of course.

We'll see on May 10th when Stella Mwangi and Beyond51 & Big City compete for us with Haba haba. The message of which is that haba haba hujaza kibaba - slow and steady wins the race. We'll see. :-)

Fullscreen here.

Lyrics here.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Quote of the Week

Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under. H.L. Mencken

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Best blog ever?

Time for a slightly overdue shoutout ... I've been meaning to do this ever since I discovered this blog (thanks to Gunnar) but better late than never. :-)

So, I have a blog recommendation, and this is just pretty much the best blog ever. I LOVE it. It's just beyond fantastic. I can't even describe it; I know that if I tried I could never do justice to it. This absolutely brilliant blogger, HelseHarry, writes about his alternative journey to health. You cannot miss this.

Yeah, sorry, it's all in Norwegian. The blog is a comment on the debate we're currently having in Norway. And an amazingly brilliant one, I may add. Go here. You're going to love it.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

BELGIUM 2011 - With Love Baby

And now something rather out of the ordinary - an ESC song without music. o_O It rather sounds like it has music, but it doesn't. It's completely a cappella. This isn't the first time someone's sent an a cappella entry to the ESC - if my memory serves me it is the second. Latvia did it first, in 2006. They didn't do very well. But that was probably because that song was so annoying.

I don't mean to indicate that a cappella is bad in and of itself. This entry is much better than I Hear Your Heart. I actually kind of like it. It's not strong enough to seriously compete in the top, and it does get somewhat repetitive when you've listened to it a few times ... but it does have a pretty good melody. I don't think the a cappella gimmick is enough to sell it, though. But it's not too shabby. :-) The one thing I really can't stand about it is the performance, which is beyond boring. They're going to have to do something with that. If they don't, I don't think they'll be making it through to the final. It depends partly on the competition too, of course. This song may be too low key to stand up against the more typical ESC song. :-)

But good luck to Belgium, anyway. This is Witloof Bay performing With Love Baby by RoxorLoops/Senjka Danhieux and Benoît Giaux. They are both band members, so this is a case of performers actually competing, which I always like. They will be competing for Belgium on Thursday, May 12th.

Widescreen here.

Lyrics here.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

FINLAND 2011 - Da Da Dam

Some people don't like it that participants have been able to choose language freely for the past thirteen years - most entries are in English now, and some people feel that this takes away from the entertainment value the contest used to have, back when everyone had to sing in their own unwieldy language.

Personally I don't see it that way at all. I love the freer language rules we have now. Without them, we would never get to experience songs like this one. [Peter] likes to sit under an apple tree on his yard/and wait for an apple to fall. What's not to love??

Well, this song, possibly. Although I'm not sure I'm entirely qualified to judge, because this is totally not my style of song. Ie, whatever any song of this type was like, I probably wouldn't be a fan. I suppose that if you like this kind of thing, this song is rather sweet. It does have a nice melody. I like that the song isn't just about the usual boy meets girl kind of thing ... it has a message, the writer is actually trying to say something. So points for that. The singer has an unusual voice, I kind of like that too. Belgium did surprisingly well with a song in this vein last year - they came sixth - so Finland may turn out to be something of a dark horse this year, low key as this song is. I would be less surprised this year. :-)

This is Paradise Oskar - yeah, I know ... - performing Da Da Dum by Axel Ehnström, who will be competing for Finland on Tuesday, May 10th. Good luck, Finland!!

Widescreen here.

Lyrics here.

Monday, April 4, 2011

These people make me sick

This shouldn't surprise anyone - I am not a fan of Jakten på den 6. sans (The Search for the 6th Sense). This is a retarded show for dipshit idiots, and, as you will have guessed, it's a TVNorge production. It's now in its ... I want to say third season. No, fourth? Whichever, it's way too many. It's a competitive reality show where 'psychics' compete to be the ... most psychic, I guess, and win a trophy. They have to do a bunch of retarded things, obviously. I'm sorry if I offend anyone, I shouldn't be this bitchy about a show that I don't even watch - I've only managed to force myself through less than one episode, and that was way back in the first season.

This should tell you a lot about how stupid it is. I couldn't bear to watch one entire episode, and I watch The Bold and the Beautiful EVERY DAY. Well, every weekday. But still. I record it when I go away on vacation. This should really tell you something.

Anyway ... I despise this show and everyone on it, they are either deluded fools or conniving fraudsters. I hardly know which is worse. The latter means that TVNorge is staffed by idiots (so I'd probably go with that option) and the former means that they are exploiting fellow human beings in a despicable manner. Take your pick. I don't watch it so by my own principles I shouldn't really comment. But just this once I can't stop myself. Last night they stooped to a new low ... so low, in fact, that I wouldn't have believed it even from these scumbags.

In each episode the 'psychics' get several different tasks that they have to complete, related to their imaginary abilities. I'll leave those up to your hopefully somewhat less vivid imaginations. But the third and last task of yesterday's show was really something else. I could hardly believe it when I read it. WTF is wrong with people??

The con artists were given the task of communicating telepathically with Rigmor Johnsen from beyond the grave.


This is a girl who at the age of 16 was sexually assaulted and brutally murdered, then left like a piece of trash in a stairwell.

Her assumed killer - he's served 16 years in jail for the murder, but the case has been highly controversial ever since it happened - is still alive. For all I know any number of Johnsen's family members are still alive too. Obviously not her parents - she was killed in December 1957 - but siblings, cousins, nieces and nephews. I don't know, but it's perfectly possible. But who cares about their feelings, screw 'em all for ratings!!

I think this is so despicable and so low and disgusting that I don't have words to describe it. (Contrary to appearances ...) Are there no limits to what these people are willing to do, how low they will sink? What were they thinking? What were they going to ask her? Did Torgersen really do it or was it someone else? Any other questions I don't even want to think about.

These people make me sick.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

MALTA 2011 - One Life

Malta is one of those countries where the ESC is more than just a contest. The Maltese are crazy about the ESC ... not that there's anything wrong with that, of course ... and they would go really crazy if it should ever happen that they won. They never have; their best results are two second places. Which isn't at all bad, of course. But it doesn't bring the contest to Valletta. I would love for Malta to win one of these years, just because they would be so totally happy about it and they would put their collective heart into giving us a hell of a show. :-)

But alas, that will not happen in 2012. I'm sorry to say it. They have been really struggling over the past five years. I would love to see them do better this year. But I'm not at all sure that they will manage to. There isn't anything really wrong with this song, it will no doubt be on my mp3 player before too long. But there isn't anything special about it either. Unless you want to count the singer's atrocious accent. ;-) It's just a standard pop song. It's catchy, and it may have people dancing then and there, but there's nothing special about it. Of course it depends on the competition, but I'm not hoping for very much for this song.

It will also depend on the presentation, which I really hope they will change before Düsseldorf. I am so not digging what they did in the national final. I mean, like the dancers. What is the deal with those faceplates?? And the singer's outfit too. No, change it, stat. Look to Serbia.

Well, I always have my fingers crossed for Malta in some small way. I can't vote for them, because they're in our semi, but good luck. :-) This is Glen Vella performing One Life by Paul Giordimania and Fleur Balzan. They will be competing for Malta on Tuesday, May 10th.

Widescreen here.

Lyrics here.

Saturday, April 2, 2011


It's childish, I know, but the first thing I think about every time I hear or see this song mentioned is always The League of Gentlemen. I can I can't? I can I can't?? I CAN I CAN'T??! I'm a fan, what can I say. They've messed with my mind.

Anyway ... be that as it may ... this post is not about the LoG, but about the UK song for this year. Which, surprisingly, does not completely suck. Who'd have thought it? I certainly needed to see this before believing it. But I would like to go on record as saying that this year I do think that the UK ESC entry does not totally suck ass. It's a step in the right direction for the UK, if nothing else.

Unfortunately, there isn't much else beyond that. The entry is performed by a reformed boy band and it sounds totally like a boy band song. If you like that kind of thing, I suppose it's alright by you, but personally I think it's as dull as dishwater. Most boy band songs are one big yawn - however, they are sometimes annoyingly catchy. This one isn't, though. It's just annoying. This song has something of the same problem as the Irish entry - there isn't much difference between the verse and the chorus, which has the effect of creating a kind of wall of sound impression which makes the song enervating to listen to. I'm not sure I can really explain it, but that's the effect it has. It makes the entire song annoying ... you don't know when it's going to end, there are few signals to let you work out where in the song you are. And if you don't like the verse, there's nothing more to look forward to either, because it all sounds the same. o_O

This song could be a hit for a boy band - in fact I think it already is - but I don't think it has much of a chance in the ESC. It's just too bland. It has zero personality. It doesn't stand out in any way whatsoever. I have no idea how they think anyone will remember this enough to vote for it. Or remember it at all. It's the kind of song that you forget while you're still listening to it. It could work in a different setting, but I don't think at all that this is what ESC audiences are looking for. Maybe they're thinking that the band - I use this term loosely - will bring in votes just for being who they are? I don't know how big they are, and were, around Europe, so I can't really offer any perspective on that. It may work. But I don't think it'll be enough with a song this weak. The UK will probably bomb again, IMO. But see what you think. This is Blue performing I can* by ... some of them and some other guys. A whole bunch of them. This gaggle of guys will compete for the UK on Saturday, May 14th.

Widescreen here.

Lyrics here.


Friday, April 1, 2011

Oslo Reptilpark

As I've mentioned before - on several occasions :-) - we don't have any real zoo here in Oslo, but we do have a reptile zoo, Oslo Reptilpark. It's a great place and something not to be missed if you visit the city. They have lots of fascinating animals (and the displays are often rotated so that if you visit several times you will not be seeing all the same animals) and displays made with lots of care and attention to detail. The only reason to stay away from the place may be if you suffer from herpetophobia ... although IMO that's only all the more reason to visit, since seeing these beautiful creatures under controlled conditions is the best way to start getting rid of your fear. :-) This is a video from my most recent visit, in December 2010. It was the winter meeting of the Herpetological Society. What better place for our meetings. :-)

Widescreen here.