Online reporting from the 51st European Song Contest  
Saturday, 20 .May, 2006, 22:19 - English Entries, Europe, Finland, Music
I could not find enough energy tonight to go out and decided to watch and comment the 51st Eurovision Song Contest, this year (for the first time) from Athens.

The winning song of last year was just performed again by Elena Paparizou and I have to say - wow!, really sexy and with good rhythm. Not too bad at all, although I would not put the song among my own favourites.

Switzerland - Six4One - If we all give a little
Six singers that should somehow represent different cultures or at least different mentalities run around without coordination and sing a slimy song.
No points.

Moldova - Arsenium featuring Natalia Gordienko & Connect-R - Loco
Latin style love song with a half-naked blond, a wannabe macho and some dancers that never heared the song before. A black guy gives a solo in hip-hop style and maybe pushes up the street credability, but not the quality of the song.
No points.

Israel - Eddie Butler - Together we are one
A soul song, a little bit too soft and blunt for me, but at least the coordination of the dancers works a bit better than in the two other performances. Oh yes, now it gets rhythm - nice.
I'll spend some points on that. But I don't think they'll win.

Latvia - Cosmos - I hear your heart
A singer that looks like a woman makes strange noises. Two guys abuse their voices, sing far to high in the beginning. But then it all gets into groove. An acapella song.
I'll also give some points here.

Norway - Christine Guldbrandsen - Alvedansen
Oh oh - a group of beautiful ladies in white short dresses - some of them play violine. The blond singer sings something that sounds half traditional, half pop. The song is nothing special, but not bad. The dancing is boring and nothing special. But the performers are something and the violines sound nice. Also nice that they sing in their own language.
Up till now the best song (including the visual ... effects).

Spain - Las Ketchup - Bloody Mary
The four ladies are dresses in red and sit on chairs - making gymnastics whilst singing in Spanish. A black dressed couple dances in front. Maybe the couple should introdcue a touch of art, not sure why they are there else. It all sounds like a low-fi version of the Ketchup Song. A little bit more dancing would have been fine.
No point.

Malta - Fabrizio Faniello - I do
Here comes the blond macho with high voice. Disco Sound please. Thank you. Four dancers dressed in a uninteresting combination of white and green-gray try to save what is lost from the first tune. The song is nearly as boring as the guy.
If this wins, I'll never watch the song contest again.

Germany - Texas Lightning - No No Never
I have not listened to this song beofre. There goes the country band from central Europe. The woman sings whilst sitting on a bar chair, shwoing her cowboy boots and her pink dress. The guys wear cowboy hats. Now the woman stood up. Aha. It does NOT look convincing. The song is thin and misses somehow a peak. Now the chorous goes into an endless loop.
Thanks to the rules I am not allowed to vote for the song from my own home country.

Denmark - Sidsel Ben Semmane - Twist of Love
Hey! Rock'n'Roll! Gary Glitter dressed the girls up in gold. The voice of the singer has character - she can even go into dirty rough tones. The performance is not the best, but the song is good, it is the first one that would make me move.
Denmark, you are my candidate so far.

Russia - Dima Bilan - Never Let You Go
A guy who looks as if he just came from working on the nearby bulding site. The song is latin-like, but not enough to piss me completly off. Two ballett dancers came out and hop around and actually that does look quite good. A pale woman climbs out of a piano, like a ghost. Impressive performance, the song is acceptable.
So Russia gets some points, but Denmark is still on top of the charts.

FYR Macedonia - Elena Risteska - Ninanajna
Latin-Disco sound again, but a little bit more aggressive than before. The pop song additionaly takes on some oriental characteristics whilst the dancers (in something that looks like sports dresses) jump around and show their bodies and the singer shakes her ass. The show is cheap, the song has some rhythm that is ok.
Few points for Macedonia.

Romania - Mihai Traistariu - Tornerò
Guy in balck suite and white shirt sings a ridicoulus disco song. Girls dressed in strange clothes hop around him. I open my first beer. Romania, please join the EU, but don't bother us with that music.
No points.

Now the first twelve song have been sung. The hosts start talking again. They look very greek.

Bosnia and Herzegovina - Hari Mata Hari - Leijla
A violin starts it all, a guitar joins in, then a flute. A man in a white suite sings a slow, gentle song that sounds like longing. The instrument players are also dressed in white, it all looks like a picture from a greek legend. The song is nothing big and we have heared this half-traditional, half-pop stuff already before, but still they did a good job on it.
One of my favourites.

Lithuania - LT United - We Are the Winners
"We are the winners of Eurovision - vote for the winners" - a bunch of guys tries to make a funny show and fail. Sound and chorus are quite catchy, but the whole thing is nothing to be remembered.
Some points

United Kingdom - Daz Sampson - Teenage Life
Pop song with school girls giving dance and chourus and a guy giving a streamlined hip-hop performance. It is much better than not bad. The performance is funny and so is the whole song.
If a pop song has to win, then it should be this.

Greece - Anna Vissi - Everything
Here comes the host. A blond, strange dressed lady performs a love song that tries to be rock. It is as much a good song as she is capable of dancing. She walks up and down and shakes her hand. Ok, the electric guitar riffs get harder, her voice is not bad, I have to admit. Good that they won last year, this year their performance was rather disappointing.
One or two points.

Finland - Lordi - Hard Rock Hallelujah
Here comes Finland! The only song I knew in advance. The monster show was advertised long before and the song has power. Nice - not the normal half-naked-women-hop-around show. That's all wild. Daring show, great wild sound.
Among my four favourites.

Ukraine - Tina Karol - Show Me Your Love
The next Latino song, this time from a blond lady that could also perform at a greek tourist dance group. She desperately shakes the upper part of her body. The male dancers do rope skipping. It's not good. Sorry to say.
No points.

France - Virginie Pouchain - Il étai temps
Also in France they understood that singers for the Eurovision song contest need to be female and blond and that a white dress always looks good on them. A slow, romantic song with a minimum of show. The voice of the singer is rather thin, but the song is nice and the double bass player does a good job as well.
Some points.

Croatia - Severina - Moja stikla
The female singer wears a dress that does not cover her legs at all and one is just waiting for the moment until a bit too much becomes visible. She sings a traditional pop song with a group of shepards and performs knee-bends with them. Sometimes she sings "Sex". Now she removed the lower parts of her dress. It does not save the song or the show.
No points.

(My internet connection went down - not sure when it works again)

Ireland - Brian Kennedy - Every Song Is A Cry For Love
Obviously the singers parents were active in the 60s, he wears a suite and has long hair. The song, which is boring and preaches that every song is about love, makes me open the next beer. I try to think about the last good song that came out of Ireland and take the first sip.
No points

(Internet connection is back)

Sweden - Carola - Invincible
And the next disco song. It's not "Waterloo". The singer tries to emphasize her true feelings about the lyrics by running back and forth on the stage. Her friends wave transparent flags in the background. The whole thing is very transparent. The dancing performance gets a bit better, but is for sure not invincible. Swedes are good in Eishockey.
No points.

Turkey - Sibel Tüzün - Süper star
A disco song without drive, a not-too-young blond lady with lots of tattoos is sourrounded by four black-dressed dancers. She babbles in Turkish, then she does some belly dancing. Some electric guitars roar. We saw Turkeys the 1970s performance for the Eurovision Song Contest.
No points.

Armenia - André - Without Your Love
Oriental sound, four girls and a guy bend before an altar like table. It's a bit thin pop song, but with a good drive during the chorus and nice dancing performance.
Some points - but please not too many.

Nana Mouskouri comes to stage and says that all participants are winners. Of course. Afterwards a short review of the performed songs is shonw.

My favourites:


Actually I have to admit that during this short presentation the songs from France and Greece did not look that bad at all. But they are definitly not my favourites.

Whilst the voting is performed, last years winner Helena Paparizou performs another song. She is really good in it - it is all styled through and nice to listen and watch.

Now the voting starts. Only the 8, 10 and 12 points are nowadays announced, due to that the procedure gets shortend.

Points given to Finland
Slovenia - 8 - #3
Andorra - 10 - #1
Romania - 4 - #1
Denmark - 12 - #1
Latvia - 8 - #1
Portugal - 6 - #1
Sweden - 12 - #1

Finland gave 12 points to Russia, who are now have 58 points, whilst Finland has 60

Belgium - 8 - #1
Croatia - 10 - #1
Serbia and Montenegro - 7 - #1
Norway - 12 - #1

Now the two reporters from TV2 do not stop babbling anymore, it is impossible to understand what is said on stage or by the vote giving countries. Excitement everywhere.

Estonia - 12 - #1

If Finland wins I have to go to the nearby bar and celebrate.

Ireland - 10 - #1
Malta - 7 - #1
Lithuania - 10 - #1
Cyprus - 5 - #1
Netherlands - 7 - #1

Now half of the countries have voted, Finland got 148 points, followed by Russia with 118 and Bosnia and Herzegowina with 103.

Switzerland - 8 - #1
Ukraine (last years host) - 7 - #1
Russia - 8 - #1

Finland is leading now with 40 points advantage, next is Bosnia and Herzegowina.

Poland - 12 - #1
United Kingdom - 12 - #1

Oh my, it is so fair - a monster rock band wins the Eurovision Song Contest for Finland

Armenia - 0 - #1

Armenia is the first country that gave no points to Finland.

France - 8 - #1
Belarus - 7 - #1

Two thirds of the countries have now voted. Now comes Germany.

Germany - 10 - #1

Germany gave 12 points to Turkey.

Spain - 10 - #1
Moldova - 6 - #1

Now it is close to impossible to beat the Finns. 236 points, and Russia is next with 190 points.

Bosnia and Herzegowina - 7 - #1
Iceland - 12 - #1

Amaaaaaazzzzzzzzinnnggg!

Monaco - 0 - #1

I hardly ever saw a more thrilling Song Contest.

Israel - 7 - #1
Albania - 0 - #1
Greece - 12 - #1
Bulgaria - 5 - #1

The female Finnish reporter on TV2 went all wild and shouting out loud from excitement.

Macedonia - 6 - #1
Turky - 7 - #1

And Finland has won. 292 points! It is unbelievable. Rock'n'Roll simply did it! Wonderful. The rest is history.

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After the Rain 
Saturday, 20 .May, 2006, 15:21 - English Entries, Photographs
Three pictures taken just after the rain.

water on a glass table (3) window after the rain
after the rain

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Still alive 
Tuesday, 16 .May, 2006, 22:15 - English Entries, Literature

Not long after arriving in Antibes (Southern France), I got fever and stayed in the hotel bed for several days. I missed most of the work meeting and my mailbox was flooded afterwards. On Friday evening I flew to Munich and since then I am in my old home town with my family. It took me the weekend and yesterday to recover to a state in which I can look at the screen for a little bit longer again. Apologies to all those who wrote me mails during this time - it will take a while until I can answer them.

I just saw that Lewis has a similar feeling as I had about Johanna Sinisalos "Not before Sundown".

Currently I am reading Mikael Niemi's book "Popular Music", which I find up till now quite enjoyable - maybe this can be the next common review.

For the moment that's all. There are several other things I would like to write about, but that has time until I have returned to Helsinki. Enjoy the sun!
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Around Kehä I 
Sunday, 07 .May, 2006, 14:23 - English Entries, Cycling, Finland, Helsinki, Technology

Helsinki, Finland The last two weeks were so sunny and beautiful in Helsinki that it was not possible to spend more time than really needed in front of the computer. A month ago it was still all ice and grey here and now the sun is already hesitating till 22.00 until it vanishes for a few hours and the birch trees in the backyard are green.

Yesterday I took my bike and went just around Kehä I. There is a bike route along that ring road and I can only recommend you to try it out on your own. The signs on the way will not help you much and I got lost several times, but it is possible to find your way through. Anyhow, getting lost is a good way of training Finnish swear words – so it all has a deeper meaning.

I still do not manage to make direct links to Google Earth, so I only have the below bad picutre of the trip. The Google Earth kml file as well as the gpx data file unfortunately only open as XML in the browser and not directly in Google Earth (they do from other websites, but not for my own - hmmm). If any of the readers knows how to avoid that, I would be greateful for a hint.

kehae-i-trip

I will be away from Helsinki now for one and a half week. First for a meeting to Southern France and the with my children in Southern Germany. Hope those who stay here keep the sunny weather up and running.
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Johana Sinisalo - Not Before Sundown 
Wednesday, 03 .May, 2006, 07:10 - English Entries, Finland, Literature

Not Before Sundown Trolls are creatures of the Northern mythology and Scandinavian legends. They are walking upright and therefore look somehow like humans, but their fur-coat and claws remind us of their animal nature. Trolls are said to love the night, to be able to turn to stone and sometimes some of them were seen - if we believe what the murmured stories of older days tell us - as changelings, replacing human children in their cradles.

In her book "Not Before Sundown" Johanna Sinisalo translates the legends of the trolls into a modern novel. After a night of drinking and disappointment, Mikael saves a young Troll from the violence of a gang of youngsters. Mikael reacts without further thinking and takes the wounded troll into his home and life.

Sinisalos story needed the first hundred pages to get up to speed. In the beginning the troll is ill and Mikael, who is homosexual, has problems to hide his new subtenant from his boy friends. But when Pessi, the troll, finally gets well and starts causing further confusion, the book becomes funny and entertaining.

In-between the mostly short chapters Sinisalo informs about the role of the Troll in Finnish literature and history by putting abstracts from all kinds of sources - poems, extractions from novels, scientific and popular scientific articles - into the book. As an uneducated reader I was rather surprised of same of the "facts" that are elaborated in these insertions. The authors’ humor, in some cases, reaches over the borders of the novel and the reader should be careful in choosing what to believe and what not.

Towards the end we are facing more and more the wild and darker nature of the troll. Although the final chapters might seem tragic, the book never leaves is light and humorous style.

There is also the story of a desperate Philippine girl who was married by a Finnish thug out of a catolog. This character is simply not needed for the book and described in a completly cliche way. It seems that Sinisalo wanted to introduce a more serious side-story in the novel, but to my eyes failed completly with it.

In the end the book left me disappointed. The language is too clean (at least in the translation) and offers no inspiration, the characters are predictable and the intended criticism of society is not convincing.

But most of all the fantastic element - the troll - does not develop into a mystic creature and the few secrets around it taste rather constructed. By citing so many other sources Sinisalo makes clear where she got her inspiration from, but she is not able to reproduce them in a way that would deepen the understanding of the legends. She avoids carefully any chance to let the fear and fascination of the old tales shine through her story.

"Not Before Sundown" is an entertaining and humoristic novel which gives an introduction to some parts of Finnish mythology. It does not go further than that and for me did not hold as an example for contemporary Finnish literature.
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