Monday, May 17, 2004

On Saturday, I was rather cruel about people who misspell summary as summery. Today I take it back, as it means I get completely random people for Arak Uni in Iran (The Islamic Republic of)[1] coming here.

[1] Eurovision link in: can you tell all the announcers across Europe hate Macedonia? Or more precisely, having to read out The Former Yuogslav Republic of Macedonia, and then the long pause whilst the French version is read out [L'ex-République yougoslave de Macédoine]. Though according to the CIA, Greece made them pick a silly name.

Running with the Eurovision theme - Oh dear. Well, after a great start of whirling dervishes getting dizzy and having problems leaving the stage, we are greeted by a woman who has no eyes. But she's made up for this fact by continuously showing all the teeth and gums she can (possibly this might have been causing the no-eyes problems). And to further compensate, she's coloured in everywhere under her eye brows with a nice shiny green, which unfortunatly only makes it more apparent that one of her eyebrows is longer than the other. Overzealous waxing methinks. The whole effect was like a polished hamster. A polished hamster in a Flash Gordon cum drag queen dress.

Then of course there was her curiously undead co-host, who, very disappointingly, didn't turn into a pile of ash at any point during the programme.

Ignoring the music and voting for the time being, did anyone else notice the way the plugs in between the songs where remarkably similar to the Turkish tourism advertising [strange that despite the Cannes hype about Troy the film, no convenient plug for Troy the tourist site crept in]. And you've got to love the address for the first site. Obviously it would be churlish to take turkey to mean the flop sense, not the country sense.

How to win the Eurovision song contest:
- You've got to want to win. This requires a great deal of naivety so you don't realise quite what a poisoned chalice it can be [Hands up if you can find a former-competitor who hasn't sunk rapidly into obscurity. Preferably one from after 1990]. Also the local television company won't thank the competitor for winning [bringing your national broadcaster near to bankruptcy isn't a good idea].
- Be new to the competition, so you don't realise that much of Northern Europe is taking the piss.
- Be less than original, but don't copy outright (ripping of clothing is not big or clever).
- To gain more votes, it helps if you haven't invaded anyone in the past 500 years.
- It also helps if you didn't then colonise the invaded countries [this rule is reversed if you regulary threaten to re-invade. Pioneered by the Danes through Danegeld, extortion is a very useful tool].
- However, neutrality in international conflicts is not a useful feature of a foreign policy designed to increase popularity [See Ireland, Norway and Switzerland].
- Be on the verge of securing deals with your immediate neighbours. There's nothing like a government initiative for spawning bribery.
- To increase the numbers of immediate neighbours who will vote for you, consider breaking your country up into smaller units. This works best if no one part of the country was previously able to dominant the others [for instance, the likelihood of Wales or Scotland ever voting for England would be remote].
- Some suggest that sending a large number of tourists to certain countries will bolster votes from them, although this is an unreliable approach.
- Most votes will always go to the country that is seen obscure, harmless and pretty innane.

So what do we get for all this? A mock-Shakira [does she find people regularly confused bits of her with mountains?] representing a recent splinter from a former fairly isolated country.

Did anyone else find it slightly ridiculous, that whilst watching the voting graphics, we zoom in really, really close for places like Andorra, and then cut to a map of half the world to get Russia to fit in? Which leads to quesitons about the bias of voting, and then trying to think of a better voting structure, and then realising quite why the EU draft constitution is taking so long.
And if Andorra gets voting rights, what about the Vatican City (heck they have a seat at the UN[2,3])

[2] Whilst checking this, I discovered that the search vacility on the UN site looks suspicously like Google, except without one of the telltale "enhanced by Google" tags. Does mean there's some anti-advertising system at the UN, or have the UN merely pirated Google? If it's the latter, I supposed it would be quite hard to be sue the UN.

[3] The Holy See is a Permenant Observer. Which as far as I can work out, means they don't get to vote, but they do get to speak, and lobby. The Catholic Church is the only religious institution given this right.

Reverting back to Eurovision: I know it's normally farcical, but this year was just bizarre. The songs and performances: German jazz-ish = good(ish), despite being the only untamed monobrow present, and needing to realise that long hair doesn't counter growing baldness; Turkish ska = thankfully different, but lacking something; whoever it was who was verging on opera = somewhat worrying; and most of the rest were just dancy europop [which consists of singing so that one can't tell which language it's in, wearing either white suits or scant sparkly clothes. Or duct tape]. But now we know that Austrians can't do boy-bands [why have one shaved chink in your eyebrow when you can fit seven in? Along with many other instances of taking something supposedly cool and somehow making it not].

It's odd, very, very odd. But if you want to know more, there's more coverage over at Fistful of Euros.

Sorry for the late posting, something came up and stole my editing time. Unfortunately it's unlikely to go away for a while, so there might be a lot less less posting for the time being.


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