May 24th, 2008

alphabets

Answers to the previous quiz

My Thursday quiz was indeed about alphabets, as several of you, including feorag and in particular burkesworks said. It is interesting, and perhaps a little surprising, how few alphabets or scripts give their letters actual names that mean something rather than just call them roughly something like the sound they stand for. It's also interesting just how rapidly the meanings of the letters get lost in the historical murk, hence the uncertainty in some of the clues given. The answers are as follows:

First list - Collapse )
Second list - Collapse )
Third list - Collapse )
Thanks for playing, those of you who did!
eu

Eurovision liveblogging

As has happened before, I got banished to the computer to watch the live webcast. Thank heavens for technology, eh? Great fun working out the country from the intro dance piece - even the Albanian one surprisingly tasteful.

If by some strange chance you are readng this as I write it, I also refer you to burkesworks    here, parrot_knight   here, daegaer   here, and Doug Muir here, and also intermittent entries from nmg    - oh, and go and vote in dougs  ' poll.

Romania: Quite sweet, really - seems to belong to another age, in a way, but the chemistry between the two singers is not bad. Shame about her voice.

UK: I admit that I haven't been following the selection process, but how on earth did this get chosen? His singing is good, and the backing musicians seems competent. But the combination totally fails to excite. (Wogan says, "our best entry for years"; sadly, this may be true.)

Albania: She has a sexy voice but unfortunately a bit wobbly on the high notes. Shame cos it's not a bad song.

Germany: Is this some kind of sick joke? They can't sing, they can't dance, and the lyrics make no sense. Corsets can only get you so far. (burkesworks    say "Incomprehensible but class", and he's right.)

Armenia: It's a terrible thing to say, but this is actually the best so far - she can sing, it's visually interesting and even the "three gyrating eejits" are rather good.

Bosnia-Herzegovina: Started very well - visually fascinating, and the lyrics are interesting - but the bloke cannot actually sing, and sadly the same is true of the backing chorus.

Israel: Not a bad Mediterranean crooning song.

Finland: Hoping for a repeat of their success a couple of years back. They can actually sing, but it's not a very interesting song.

Croatia: Actually rather sweet in its own way. Middle-aged crooner and irrelevantly gyrating dancer. We've seen worse this evening.

Poland: Good and heartfelt, she can actually sing and looks impressive. Also singing in English will probably help with the floating voters.

Iceland: Cor, cute young blond guy, good beat, good music. Ah, here's the girl though... but she is not only cute, she can sing too! What an amazing idea, to put two people who can actually sing forward as your contestants in an international song contest! Those sneaky Icelanders!parrot_knight    accuses them of being "the most intentionally camp" which clearly indicates the subtlety of the Icelandic strategy,.

Turkey: Not a bad song, but as so often the singer's voice is a bit unconvincing on the higher notes. And the lower ones too. In fact, on all of them.

Portugal: More Mediterranean crooning (of course Portugal is not strictly Mediterranean, but you know what I mean). Not awful but could have developed into something more interesting than it did.

Latvia: Wow, this is different! And the camera angles do not convey how good their dancing is. It's taken me most of the way the way through the song to notice that, yet again, they don't hit the high notes particularly well. But they look good, they move well, and the song is a bit cheeky even if it doesn't make a lot of sense.

Sweden: Put a blonde singer in a short skirt on stage, and who can vote against you? Well, I think it's a risky strategy frankly. Meat Loaf could have sung this song well, but while it's not bad it's not interesting enough.

Denmark: It's risky to choose as your song's title a phrase that is well known as the title of a different song, just in case yours turns out to be much less memorable. As indeed has happened in this case.

Georgia: Gosh, heartfelt, visually interesting, these South Caucasus countries seem to get it.

Ukraine: She's got the same dress as the Swedish singer, but looks much better in it. The Serbian camera lingers on her hips and why not? for some strange reason. I can't understand a word of the song (which is in reasonably accented English), but she looks good and the backing singers are well organised and acrobatic. 

France: What is this about? There are these peculiar mixed messages - the toy car driven by bloke with long hair and beard; the French song in English; the backing singers who can't, er, sing, but are all wearing false beards (even the girls)... well, it's a statement all right, but I think the statement is "We are not going to win the contest".

Azerbaijan: Good Lord! This is obviously going to win. Astonishing costumes and visual effects. As burkesworks   so wisely puts it, this is "camper than a row of pink tents at Butlins". 

Greece: Cor, they got a rather erotic intro, didn't they? And, good heavens, the song actually makes sense and the lead and her backing singers can actually sing. But alas, I think they are blown out of the water by Azerbaijan. Though her wee hip-shaking dance was very sweet and would have done her proud against less wacky opposition.

Spain: This is a valiant effort, which is to say it is pretty awful. In some ways attempting to be postmodern, in other ways just relying on skimpily clad backing dancers to distract from the essential crapness of the song. (I mean, he is barely even singing!)

Serbia: The home team, of course. Starts off with some nice crooning. Hmm, and cute redhead playing the violin. But, alas, it's a bit average. I mean, it's much better than the average entry tonight, but it is still not as memorable as some of the others.

Russia: Starting well. Cute young singer belting out a ballad which he can actually sing. Without too much distraction - one violinist, once dancer; looks like they are not trying too hard. And gosh, a hint of a musically interesting key change (not actually fulfilled) towards the end. This will do well.

Norway: A nice song, a nice singer, nice backing group. Generally OK, but I am voting for Iceland, and expecting Azerbaijan to win.

And a special treat for those of us lasting through to the end - Goran Bregović live! And performing Kalašnikov!
eu

Eurovision voting

Russia looking pretty good at the moment!

(And UK, Romania and Germany still on nul points.)

Ah, but Greece doing well from Albania!

My own vote appears to have made no difference to the Belgian tally. (My Armenian friends in Brussels have obviously been organising well.)

(Germany still on nul points.)

Even San Marino votes for Greece - they are looking good!

(Latvian announcer obviously rather pained at announcing the 12 points for Russia.)

Those Bulgarian votes for Greece are obviously helpful! But 12 points for Germany???? They are clearly taking the piss. (A common Bulgarian hobby.)

Top Israeli votes go to Russia and Ukraine. No surprises there then. And, good heavens, Cyprus voted for Greece, Armenia and Russia - who could have predicted that????

After Moldova votes, Greece and Russia are on level pegging - this could actually be quite close!

The French announcer actually announces his votes in French (unlike their entry which sang incomprehensibly in English). And they vote for Armenia!

The Romanian announcer very sweetly congratulates the whole show with barely a stumble over the difficult consonants. And they vote for Greece over Russia. That must be the killer.

Rather cute to have the Russians chanting "Латвия! Латвия!" in the Green Room.

And over we go to the Andorran voter. He speaks French too. But their votes are not very interesting.

Russia now consolidating a bit. Ten points ahead at the half-way stage. OK most of the ex-Soviets have voted but it's a good lead.

Hmm here's Armenia. Will they give 12 points to Russia? Er, yes.

Czech announcer very cutely confuses Armenia and Azerbaijan!!!!!

We're at the two-thirds stage now, and Russia is 13 points ahead of Greece; that looks increasingly unassailable.

Poland currently running last, which really isn't fair; the German song was much worse. - Ah well, Ireland gave them ten points which will help; puts them level last with the UK and Germany, which is better.

Switzerland bucks the trend!

Leyla in Azerbaijan forgets to use the vocative case; perhaps she wasn't briefed. And they give 12 points to Turkey; gosh, how amazing!

The Greek guy speaks rather good Serbian! (Better than mine, anyway.)

The Swedish announcer is completely sloshed. Here comes Belarus - no big surprise expected here: no, indeed, 12 for Russia, 10 for Ukraine. Russia now unstoppable I think.

Wow, the Russian announcer looking very cute. Also buoyed by the confidence that they are going to win.

Montenegro!!!!! She knows about the vocative case anyway. More votes for the Russians. Georgia reinforces the trend.

The Danish votes are now irrelevant; Russia wins in the end by 272 to Greece's 230. Most impressive, and demonstrates a) how far my own tastes are out of whack with the public as a whole, and b) how difficult it can be to predict the preferences of an international voting public. (Though see rflong's comment below.)

They are going to have to introduce some regional handicapping in future, aren't they?