sareini: (tired)
Aaaannnnd I'm back. I didn't take my laptop in the end, because I couldn't fit it in my messenger bag and I couldn't find the charger.

The journey to Merseyside wasn't that bad - there was the part where we had to stop in Crewe, of course - the most depressing train station in existence, where if the architecture doesn't get you the prices will, at £1.99 for a single bottle of Ribena - but I've grown somewhat immune to that over the years and I brought my own water. No, the only problem came when I reached Liverpool, where there was a rail replacement service due to them completely refitting the Wirral Line. So I get off the train, and go ask the nearest staff member where the replacement bus service is picking up. "Oh, just down there," he points, in the general direction of outside. "You'll see a man in a yellow tabard."

Did I fuck.

After wandering around for 20 minutes and not seeing a single yellow tabard (or tabard of any other colour) I admitted defeat and changed my plans. Thankfully I spent years going to and from Liverpool on the buses, so I at least knew my way around to the bus stops that would get me under the river anyway, so I headed there and called my brother to pick me up at a different bus stop than we had planned. Gods only know what would have happened if I hadn't known my way around; I'd probably still be making laps of the station, weakly calling out for aid.

It amused me that, while the basics of Liverpool Lime Street and the bus station hadn't changed much in 20 years, the immediate surrounding area had. I walked past a 5 Guys Burger and Fries joint there, right next to a Nando's and a casino... yet all three were no more than 150 meters from a Poundstretcher. Pretty sure you wouldn't see that anywhere but Liverpool. And they've got sightseeing buses now - the topless kind you usually see in London. My brother pointed out that Liverpool's a major tourist destination now (yet you can only buy London souvenirs in the station shop), so I guess that growing up in the area has just made me unaware of the tourist potential. I just spent my time looking around and going, "Aww, they closed that shop? But I loved that place!"

At my brother's I got to meet his Rottweiler, Rogue. Rogue is about 15 months old and my brother's had him a little over a month. He's a good dog, most of the time... except when he sees other dogs, which he wants to play with, or cyclists, which he wants to chase, and then he shoots off like a rocket and won't come when he's called. They're working on training him out of it. He also likes to lick feet, and desperately wants to be friends with my niece's cat. Said cat is less keen on the idea.

Sammy is the cat, and my niece has had him for a little over a year. A friend of hers found him as a small kitten wandering the streets and took him in, but then asked Rachael to foster him as she already had cat food (for her hedgehog, which died this week). She did so, then fell in love with him and decided to keep him. He's a champion mouser and herds and protects the rabbits in the garden, but so far he's not at all happy with the big dog in his house, and has scratched poor Rogue's nose several times.

Cat standing on sofa with tail in air

Rottweiler sitting on rug

On the Saturday evening Rachael's boyfriend came round and we had a Eurovision mini-party, with cold pizza slices, cheese-and-pineapple/pickled onion sticks, pigs in blankets and traffic light jellies. Eurovision was... interesting this year, what with dancing gorillas, Epic Sax Man, rap and yodeling and a band apparently fronted by that masked guy from Watch Dogs 2. As for Portugal winning... well, I missed the start of the entry because my catsitter called, and when I came back in I thought the singer was female at first and had to be corrected. The song made little to no impression on me, but apparently the rest of Europe liked it so there you go. Personally I would have voted for Hungary or Croatia. Oh, and "Celebrate Diversity!" screams the event that was bursting at the seams with young white men. Well done. /sarcastic clap

We also played Risk: Godstorm, which is a version where you're an ancient civilisation with the associated gods, and your goal is to take over as much of the known world with your gods; help. So a lot like regular Risk, but with far more complicated rules involving faith and miracles and godsbattles. I got put in charge of reading and keeping track of the rules, which might have seemed a good idea, but... I'd had two bottles of raspberry cider by that point, and I'm on medication which shouldn't really be mixed with alcohol. So I was maybe a little drunk at this point, and so it was a rather... confused game at best. But fun.

(Rachael's boyfriend won, and created Party Valhalla, where defeated warriors who defended well got given a Beer Hat.)

And now I'm back home. Lily was waiting for me in the window, and has not left my side since I came back. Callie needed to check I was who I appeared to be, ran around for a bit, then got bored and wandered off. I had a good weekend, but I'm glad to be home. Also tired.
sareini: A quote from the book Good Omens (Good Omens)
I'm setting off to my brother's in about an hour or so, for my niece's birthday/Eurovision party (and to see them, of course). I haven't managed to finish the cardigan, of course, but I'm still taking it with me to (a) prove it exists; and (b) work on it a bit more while I'm there.

I'm only staying the night because I get way too anxious about being away from home and the cats for more than a night. This is despite knowing that the cats will be fine for a day or two as long as they have enough food and water, and having my friend Ross come round this evening to refill food and water bowls and provide medication. Lily absolutely loves Ross and thinks he's the best thing since Brian Kendrick. Callie is far less confident around him because he comes from Outside and is not me, so she will probably just stay upstairs lying flat on the bed.

My train tickets are already booked and ready to be picked up, my journey is planned out and I even selected window seats so I can be in my comfort zone. The only real problem is that the final part of my journey will be by replacement bus service, as Merseyrail are in the middle of a huge track upgrade. I'm not very fond of rail replacement buses as they're usually dirty and cramped and not that reliable, but my choices are limited so I'll have to take deep breaths and get through it.

I am taking my laptop with me so I can at least try to blog and chat about Eurovision while I'm there, but my niece wants to play Rift: Godstorm with us all during the show (she does not understand the seriousness of the most camp show in all of Europe). I'll also get to meet Rogue the Rottweiler and give him his pig's ear and dog beer, and see my niece's cat Sammy and let him complain to me about the dog that's taken up residence in his house. I'm also going to take a writing book and pen with me in case I get the time to try to dash something off roughly, but between family, cats, dogs, rabbits and Eurovision I'm not sure that will be too likely.

Otherwise I'll be back tomorrow evening.
sareini: default (Number 61)
So, last night's Eurovision was a bit of a disappointment, to be honest. Not because we lost, because four vacuous 20-somethings pretending to be air steward/esses and singing some bland europop number isn't going to win any prizes (and I still think we should have had the guy from the Darkness, if only so that we gould have had a glam rock-off between him and the Swedish entry), so that didn't bother me. And hey, it wasn't as if we came away with nil points, because Ireland and Malta (gods bless that George Cross-wearing country!) both gave us points.

No, it was a disappointment because of the overwhelming weight of the Eastern Bloc. There were barely any countries from Western Europe this year (most of them got knocked out in the semi-finals, and France, Spain and the UK only got through because we basically bankroll the thing), which led to some of the most obvious 'neighbour voting' I've seen in quite a while.

This isn't meant to sound bitter, because as I've said, I don't think the UK had a hope in hell's chance of winning (and neither did France or Spain, if you want my personal opinion), but I find myself wondering if Eurovision is getting judged on actual talent any more (yes, I said 'talent' in the same sentence as 'Eurovision').

Nick and I though that the Slovenian entry should have won (hot opera bondage), or maybe the Finnish entry (Elvira meets Evanescence) or Hungary (electro blues). I mean, the Serbian entry that won wasn't bad, but I'm not sure it it was winning quality.

Maybe they need to ditch telephone voting and go back to the judges panel of old. That might also discourage entries like this year's Ukranian entry which, as I had no alcohol in the house, simply wouldn't have been able to cope with if it had won.

I suppose the only positive side to this whole issue of bloc voting is that, ten or fifteen years ago, most of the countries voting for each other were busy blowing the shit out of each other instead. Eurovision brings people together, causes world peace, perhaps?
sareini: "ambiguous desire" written over an image of Desire of the Endless (Desire)
Ok, so this year's Eurovision winners, Lordi of Finland, have to be about the coolest I've seen on that show for a long time. It was like someone had taken a group of Klingons and shown them a tape of a GWAR concert.

As for the rest of the show... well, I didn't think too much of the UK entry at all (some rap thing done by a guy who looked about five years too old to be rapping), France and Spain appear to have given up all pretence of even trying to win (France had the same type of song that they seem to have every year, while Spain's entry was sung by... Las Ketchup), and Germany gave us a country and western number, sung by an Australian fronting a band called Texas Lightning. Confused yet?

Lithuania seemed to be beliving their own hype just a little too much, as their entire song was a modified football chant ("We Are The Winners"), complete with a Harry Hill-lookalike doing a mad dance in the middle. Scarily, it got quite a few votes - blame the drunken student contingent again, I guess... Nick was convinced that Malta's singer was a werewolf, and while we're on the subject of Nick, he very much enjoyed himself this evening, creating his virtual harem out of the female singers and representatives throughout the evening. He had a special spot in his heart (or pants) for the Norwegian entry, who reminded us all that elves can be very kinky. Finally, at least one member of the Latvian group appeared to have sacrificed his testicles for Eurovision...

Voting was all over the place this year, mainly because several countries who make up the 'blocks' who vote for each other never made it past the semi-finals this year. Still, it was rather too easy to guess where a lot of the votes were going. It's just never been the same since they got rid of the judges and brought in telephone voting...

Edit: Other comments on Eurovision
sareini: default (Discworld - House on Fire)
In two-and-a-half hours' time I'll be sitting down with pizza, ice cream and alcohol to watch 23 European countries (including England) make utter fools of themselves in the form of song and dance.

And this year, you can join in even if youre not in Europe, as there's a live webcast from the official website this year.

Seriously, I thoroughly reccomend watching, if only because it's one of the most interesting ways to learn about European politics that doesn't involve Jeremy Paxman trying to make MPs cry. And Terry Wogan getting drunk and berating everyone as the evening progresses is priceless too.

Eurovision Drinking Game

Eurovision

May. 21st, 2005 11:44 pm
sareini: default (Default)
Third from bottom! Third from bloody bottom! And this year we actually had a half-decent entry and the Iraq war is a whole two years behind us so I don't know what went on there. Actually, I do - there's now 39 countries who get to vote in this thing, and over half of them are Eastern European, formerly parts of the same country or satellites to one another so they all vote for one another to the exclusion of all else. The people who announce the votes don't even bother to hide it any more. So in the end, while we were third from bottom, France was below us and Germany came last. And all three of us refused to vote for each other as well. Don't you just love how politics gets into everything?

As for the entries... well, Moldovia was by far the most memorable one - something called 'Grandma Beats the Drummer' or similar. One half Moldavian folk, one half progressive rock with too many drums (and Spike Dudley on one set in particular). There was near panic as the first votes came in and people kept giving them high votes - we all thought they were going to win. I blame the drunk student population of Europe for that. I'm sure we heard Terry Wogan praying up in his commentary booth. Norway, on the other hand, gave us their version of The Darkness, complete with the glam rock skin-tight suit and mad leaping about with the microphone. The Ukraine, who were hosting it this year, gave us their revolution song (since they only went and got themselves democracy late last year). The Israel singer was a tall blonde woman. Turkey did belly dancing again, but made the mistake of putting everyone in the other traditional Turkish costume, which doesn't too do well for that sort of thing.

The only thing worse than the Moldavian entry was the female Ukrainian presenter, who honestly didn't need a microphone. Wogan nicknamed her "Shriek", and it was an accurate nickname. And she just wouldn't stop talking, either! Also, and I know this is terrible of me when you consider how much the Ukranians had to fight to get their democracy, but by the end of the show when the president (still scarred from getting poisoned by the opposition last year) came out and made a speech I was getting really annoyed with all of the political add-ons.

In the end the Greeks won, with their so-so Euro-pop entry, sung by a leggy woman in a short dress. Nick and I voted for Hungary, because it was a good song and the female singer was both very attractive and Roma. They got in the top 12, at least.

Saturday

May. 21st, 2005 01:36 pm
sareini: default (Bast)
It's Eurovision tonight! That time of year when we all get to show our national and European pride by... singing songs that we wouldn't normally admit to liking, dressing up silly and then listening to Terry Wogan genteely bitching about the other countries and the political voting. There's now so many countries that qualify to be a part of the contest that they have to hold a seperate semi-final a few days beforehand. And yet I note that Italy seems never to have taken part... perhaps they figured out early on that they had too much dignity for this.

So Germany will no doubt give us an act that's hilarious to them and their cultural sense of humour, but will leave the rest of us just blinking at the screen and wondering what we just saw (Guido and the Orthopaedic Stockings, anyone?), the Netherlands will give us acts that're remarkably similar to ABBA (because once they figured out that winning formula, they stuck to it), Ireland will try its very best to not win while still looking good, and at least one country (usually one of the former Eastern Blocs) will perfrom in their native language/dress/musical instruments. And then there'll be the political voting. Which wasn't so bad when there were panels of judges for each country, but now that everyone gets to ring in and vote, impartiality has gone totally out the window. Although it is ironic that, when it comes to the countries that make up the former Yugoslavia, they were blowing each other up a little over 10 years ago, and now they all vote for each other. Maybe Eurovision does do some good.

I love Eurovision though. It's a once-a-year kitsch indulgence.

***

Filling in a survey this afternoon as well. Well, filled it in to be exact, and waiting for the man to come collect it. Not quite a MORI poll, which I've always wanted to take part in (just to I can say I'm the (wo)man on the street), but something for the local governement and the NHS, I think. I think I can tell where the NHS is trying to go - lots of questions about stopping smoking, and very few about illness/disabilities, even though there was technically a whole section on it. That section concentrated much more on mental problems anyway. Ah well. I like filling in surveys anyway.
sareini: default (abstract)
Yes, I watched it. I like camp, kitsch and crap.

Highlights this year included the Austrian entry which were like the Stepford Boyband (complete with eerie syncronized cheesy grin into the camera at the end), the bald woman on stilts dancing in the French entry, the Ukraine managing to get Xena, Warrior Princess to perfrom their entry (seriously - she came out with a tambourine and I wasn't sure if she was going to hit it or throw it at the audience), the Netherlands' entry being performed by a creepy folk duo, Turkey being represented by what appeared to be their version of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Romanian entry being perfromed by an attractive young woman in sexy lingerie. The UK's entry was some runner-up from Fame Academy whom I'd never heard of but who reminded me of Billy Ray Cyrus.

Overall, there were no songs that particularly leaped out at me this year, so in the end I voted for Romania in the hope that the sexy lady in lingerie would get to come out again. Terry Wogan got steadily more annoyed at all the political voting that went on (all the former bits of Yugoslavia voting for each other, for example, which is quite heartwarming in a way because ten years ago they were all blowing the shit out of one another), especially since it seriously skewed the results. He also called the male Turkish presenter "the Phantom of the Rue Morgue". I like Terry. ^_^

The UK managed to get more than nil points this year, which is something of a relief, although it's clear that France still hasn't forgiven us over Iraq and the US from last year. In the end though, Xena from the Ukraine won, with Serbia-Montenegro coming second (they had a Mongolian nose flute and Baltic block-voting behind them).
sareini: default (Default)
I'd almost forgotten that it was EuroVision tonight.

For those of you who don't know, every year most of Europe gets together to thoroughly embarrass themselves in a song contest. Several things can always be relied upon to happen on this evening:

1. France will refuse to sing in every language but their own.
2. Someone will rip off ABBA (usually Norway).
3. Someone will have pipes as an instrument in the background.
4. Voting for the best song will have little, if anything to do with the quality of the song and everything to do with European/world (on occasion) politics.

So this year we had, among others, Turkish bellydancers, Belgium Neo-Nazis (apparently), Russian lesbians (Tatu, of course) and an Austrian lunatic in a beret. Ireland were trying desperately, as usual, to do well but not to win (if you've ever seen the 'Song for Europe' episode of Father Ted, let me tell you that everything you've seen is true. The Irish have to spend their entire TV budget for the year to stage EuroVision, and they're a small country so three years in a row nearly bankrupted them), Greece had a wonderfully sexy Goth in a leather opera dress with a tight bustier laced up at the front, and England gave their usual performance.

Unfortunately, tonight we discovered just what the rest of Europe felt about our involvement in the Iraq War with America. Twenty-five countries, and not a single one voted for us. Nil points.

I hope we've all learned something from this.

(BTW, the Turkish bellydancers won; Tatu came third; Terry Wogan got pissed. A fun night was had by all.)

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