Enhance your Experience: the Eurovision Scoring System

Ah Eurovision, the institution that enriched our lives with such classic acts as ABBA, Celine Dion and the infamous  Moldovan “Sexophone” guy.
(Who, thanks to Herm Trololol, can be viewed thrusting away for ten glorious hours, right here).

Endless-Epic-Sax-Guy

Eurovision, the reason why millions tens of Australians know that Azerbaijan is actually a country.

Eurovision, a phenomenon that divides nations, communities and living rooms, between “Bleurhrhjrgh not this sh*t again. Can I change the channel now?” and
“ERRR MAH GERRRRDDD!  I’m SO FRICKEN EXCITED! This year I’m coming as UKRAINE and I’m bringing CHICKEN KIEVS!!!”

Look - a self conscious Italian with Peroni and an enthusiastic Ukranian with Kievs, on their way to a Eurovision party!

Look – a self conscious Italian with Peroni and an enthusiastic Ukranian with Kievs, on their way to a Eurovision party!

Watching Eurovision is a cultural activity.  Like all new cultural activities it can be a little uncomfortable, a little confusing,  and maybe even a little (lot) bit frightening until you get used to it. The best way to overcome Eurovision-induced culture-shock is to turn watching it into a game, where points are awarded to countries for including one or more of the following elements in their performance.  By keeping watch and tallying points, even the most reluctant viewer will be drawn deep into the experience of melody and glitz.

Crazy Costumes
Lets face it – one of Eurovision’s biggest draw cards, and the main way many acts seem to get into the competition (also something about… singing?)
Giant poultry , Pocahantas , Zombie Apocolypse, Little Bo Peep … the list goes on. Basically, if you look like you escaped from Vegas,  Mardi Gras or Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, you get a point. Or many!

Choreography
Now this one needs to be handled with discernment. Most Eurovision acts involve some form of choreography, ranging  from insipid arm waving,  to group routines so tight they’d bring a tear to the most hardcore N*Sync fan’s eye.

Points for choreography can be awarded for complexity, originality, visual impact, execution, and “I can’t believe they had the balls to do that in front of millions of people”.

Big hair
Nuff said.  One point.

 Key Changes
Prominent in the Hillsong back catalogue,  a key change is a tried-and-true method of rousing the crowd. Two key changes in the one song? You decide whether to award an additional point… or subtract the original one.

Reveal / costume reveal
One of the true gems of Eurovision, the “reveal” usually happens when part of a costume is (dramatically) removed or expanded to reveal a completely different costume (or even additional backup dancers!) However, the reveal is not exclusively bound to costume changes (skip to 1:50 to see what I mean).

Pyrotechnics
Shooting flames, a shower of sparks, or even a strategically placed angle grinder will all score you a point for pyrotechnics (especially if it’s attached to a sexy robot).

Cheesy ballad
Lets face it, they’re agony to sit through so they may as well score a point!

Bad weather (Precipitation/ Wind machine)
Not exclusively bound to flowing locks or mid-stage fountains,  countries have also scored points under this category for simulated snow (including last year’s winner, Loreen from Sweden.)
For the record, Loreen also scored major points from me for her Hammer-pants dance.  Technically that comes under “choreography” though.

 Unnecessarily sexual content
Are the male backup dancers dressed as Roman soldiers, and gyrating around the stage in small metallic loin cloths?  Award points as you see fit.

Singer also playing an instrument
Sometimes it’s legit.
Sometimes it’s so obviously not plugged in, it’s painful.
(See also the overly sexy lady’s non-drum-solo at 2:20)
Worth a point either way? You decide.

Cross dressing
Are you Ukraine’s answer to Mrs Doubtfire, wrapped in tinfoil? (Elton John was actually papp’d wearing this costume soon after the competition).
Perhaps you are the hairiest air hostesses Slovenia has ever seen?
(Would you award choreography points for completing the Safety Talk?)
Here we see a fine example of cross-dressing COMBINED with a costume reveal (3:00). No wonder Latvia won in 2002.

Circular camera work
No, you haven’t developed vertigo in the last 3 minutes, that’s just the camera spinning round and around the lead singer (who magically manages to keep his eyes locked on it nearly the whole time. Maybe he studied ballet?) Award one point.

 Mismatching elements of the performance
Do the costumes have nothing to do with the lyrics have nothing to do with the choreography have nothing to do with the fact that a large paper mache unicorn just swooped down from the rafters and burst into flames?  You’ve scored yourself a point.

Gratuitous use of sequins/ sparkles
Is Eurovision, is shiney!
If the lead singer looks like she’s been vomited on by a mirror ball, award one point.

Circus arts
Aerial cartwheels, swallowing a giant glowstick sword and riding a bicycle that’s swinging around the ceiling on wires will all get you points for circus arts. Think I’m joking? Check this out.
(These guys technically weren’t competing, and lucky that they weren’t. They also score highly in the categories of choreography, big hair, and mismatched elements. There’s even a reveal).

Shameless channelling of an already famous act
Trying to secure a place in the top ten by riding on the established popularity of Twilight / Pirates of the Caribbean / Michael Bolton ?  You’ve scored yourself a point, my European friend, but not necessarily a ticket to success.

This scoring system was introduced to me by my friend KT Danger (who isn’t actually Ukranian). At that time I was still relatively fresh to the Eurovision phenomena.. and to be honest, still a little bamboozled at times (“obviously the last act was hyperbole, but are these guys serious? I can’t tell. Eurhghr, what is that?? Hold me!” )

Scoring the acts has truly revolutionized the way I watch the competition, and solidified my status as a hardcore fan. My hope is that you too might have your enjoyment enhanced through the use of the above (or a similar) scoring system. Take it and make it your own, tweak it in any way that you want, turn it into a drinking game (or something more G rated).

In the spirit of Eurovision, don’t take yourself too seriously and HAVE FUN!

Eurovision is screening on SBS one and SBS HD in Melbourne, at 7:30pm tonight for Semi-Final 2 and Sunday night for the Final.

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Resilience

Figs are delicious. I freaking love them. I could eat figs all day.

When we were first married we lived in Richmond, an inner-city suburb of Melbourne. Back in the 60’s Richmond was heavily populated by Greek migrants, attracted by the low cost of housing and abundant opportunities for employment in manufacturing. Our neighbour Christos, a delightful man in his early 70’s, purchased their home for $60,000 in 1965. Like every good Greek, Christos converted his small, concrete yard into a food forest, planting fruits and vegetables into basically any vessel he had available: tomatoes in old tyres, capsicums and chillies in polystyrene boxes, kalamata olives in a wheelbarrow, a lemon tree in a bucket… the list goes on. Where space was permitting, these Greek kitchen gardens also featured beautiful fig trees, the branches of which would often hang down over the fence into what I insisted was the public domain. On many a summer’s evening, Lachy would roll his eyes at me as I gleefully leaped at the fragrant, purple globules.
“Oh, so that’s your tree in your garden, is it?”
“Well, this branch is hanging over the footpath. Actually, can you reach that one for me?”
“No, I’m not picking figs for you because it’s stealing!”
“ Hey, it’s either me or the fruit bats, and at least I’m not screeching and sh*tting everywhere!”

Jump for my love

I’ve been thinking about the quality of “resilience” lately.

Resilience is an adjective that means:
1. (of an object or material) capable of regaining its original shape or position after bending, stretching, compression, or other deformation; elastic.
2. (of a person) recovering easily and quickly from shock, illness, hardship, etc; irrepressible.

I love the word irrepressible; it reminds me of the introduction to Monkey Magic…
“Elemental forces then caused the stone egg to hatch. From it there came a stone monkey. The nature of monkey was irrepressible!”

monkey magic

I won’t lie, I find the thought of someone describing my nature as “ irrepressible” to be very appealing. However, like the elastic of your undies that must return to size 10 after your dad puts them on by mistake, we are only proved to be resilient in the context of a stretch. Before one can “bounce back”, their lives or bodies must be bent, compressed or deformed in some way or other. It’s a simple truth that we cannot develop resilience by cruising through life. The good thing is, this truth gives us a new filter through which to view the uncomfortable or distressing things that happen to us, from “I can’t handle this any longer” to “bring it b*tch, I’m irrepressible”.

monkey magic_3

A recent example of real life resilience is the determined comeback of my fig tree, after the Boxing Day Massacre of 2012, when 20kg of puppy decided to ringbark my favourite Christmas present less than 24 hours after I received it.

dogshame_2

I ring-barked Jessi’s Christmas fig tree on Boxing Day.
(I didn’t get ANY Christmas pudding, so I thought it was fair)

(NB. concept courtesy of dogshaming.com)

“It’ll be alright”  said my Gran, “figs are very hardy, just keep the water up to it.”

As luck would have it, the next day we were booked to go on a 2 week beach holiday, during which time Melbourne (naturally) hit a ≥40°C heatwave. Great weather for swimming, not so great for recently mutilated figs. Had I asked anyone to water my garden while we were away? Of course not, how anal. On our return, the brown and shrivelled fig had become a cuddling post for my very clingy pumpkin.

IMG_4531_2

Not wanting to further distress the pumpkin, I left the fig in situ, where it received incidental watering. One day, below the scar, I noticed the fig was sending out beautiful green shoots.

What a champion! Go little fig tree – you are a fabulous example of resilience.
To encourage regrowth, I took the fig out of its protective enclosure for a feed and some pruning. Then the phone rang (hi Dad!)

I was gone maybe 5 or 10 minutes… but long enough for bloody Indie to have a second go at demolishing the poor thing.

IMG_4577_3

You stupid dog! What is it about you and fig trees?
However, a week later and the gnawed stump has put forth ever more green shoots

Little fig tree, you are truly irrepressible!

I’ve decided to name her Lazarus.

“Excuse me while I kiss this guy”

Words are so good. I love words.  
I especially love learning new and somewhat obscure words, and then imagining how I would integrate them into everyday life, without sounding like an uppity twat.

This is me being the face of intelligence in a psychology textbook one time.      Uppity twat much?

 

About a year ago, I stumbled across a buzzfeed entitled 
                                                25 Everyday Things You Never Knew Had Names

What a gold mine! I was delighted, and wrote down these top five words to learn:

# 5 Crepuscular Rays: those shining-through-the-clouds sunbeams that look like God is about to drop round.

#4 Gynecomastia: heehee, manboobs!

#3 Semantic Satiation: saying a word over and over till it loses its meaning.

#2 Phosphenes: the little lights you see when you scrunch your eyes up tight.

 

 And coming in at first place is ……*drumroll*……. Mondegreen!

What the heck is a Mondegreen?  Don’t google it yet, I’ll tell you.

Mondegreen is the official term for a misheard and misinterpreted lyric, that gives the song a brand new meaning. The mix-up is usually caused by how similar the two phrases sound –  how “homophonous” they are, in uppity twat language.  Children are particularly gifted at coming up with Mondegreens. I remember in the mid 90’s, my youngest sister Nooma belting out Peter Frampton in the car.

“Ooooh baby I looove your wings” she sang.
“That’s not right, it’s “oooh baby I love your ways.” I corrected her, in classic bossy-big-sister fashion.
“No it’s wings,” she insisted, “he’s singing to an angel and he loves her beautiful wings”.

I gave up.

Not that I was mondegreen free, mind you…  I have very vivid memories of giggling my head off with my best friend Josh, as we jumped on his bed to Michael Jackson. 

“I’ve never been so in love before, I want you baby right down in my applecore!”

Probably the most famous mondegreen is the line “Excuse me while I kiss the sky” from Purple Haze by Jimmy Hendrix.  Indeed, the mondegreen became so well known that Jimmy often used to sing the misheard lyrics in his live performances. 
One fan remembers seeing Hendrix perform at the Ambassador Theatre, Washington D.C. in 1967.  When the line came, Jimmy lifted his hand, pointed to bass player Noel Redding and grinned as he sang

                  “Excuse me while I kiss this guy”

(story from Zaner, 2011)

Other fans of the intentional mondegreen were good old Credence Clearwater Revival, who helped their listeners find the amenities by singing the misheard version of their 1969 hit  

“Don’t go around tonight,  well it’s bound to take your life. There’s a bathroom on the right”

(Bagge et al, 2000)

So, have you too been “blinded by the light, wrapped up like a moose driving a Rover in the night” ? Or do you know your Manfred Mann better than that?

Can you correct any, or all, of the following mondegreens?

“The ants are my friends, they’re blowing in the wind. The ants are blowing in the wind”
– not Bob Dylan

 “You got blood on your face, you big disgrace, waving your bladder all over the place” 
– not Queen

 “Hold me closer Tony Danza, count the headlights on the highway”
– not Elton John

” With the lights out it’s less dangerous, Here we are now, in containers”
– not Nirvana

 “Might as well face it, you’re a d*ck with a glove”  
– not Robert Palmer

“Cows want milk, 6 minutes later, cows want milk”
– not Duran Duran

“Charlie L. Smith’s forty, someone spiked my rice, the rest history”
– no wait, that actually is Ben Folds

 “Hide it in a hiding place where no one ever goes, put it in your panties with your cupcakes”
– not Simon and Garfunkle

  “The sheep don’t like it.  Rock the Cat Spa, rock the Cat Spa”
– not The Clash

 “We caught some kids on microwave ovens, custard kitchen and liver hey”
– not Dire Straits

 “Without you… It’s not as much fun to pick up the pizzas”
– not Nine Inch Nails

Well, I’m going to go now. I’m pretty hungry, and it’s a long way to the shop if you want a sausage roll.