onsdag 18 maj 2016

Eurovision follow-up and ways of wasting time

Nope, sorry, I don't understand it either. Britain was robbed - not of a victory, perhaps, but of a place among the top ten, or at least somewhere mid-field. The Brits did everything they could this year - at least everything I would have recommended - and still ended up third last in the Eurovision Song Contest. I voted for them (and for Poland: yes, you can do that), but it didn't help much.

It's a pity, because a little pro-European spirit in the UK would have been welcome about now. As they say in Star Wars: I have a bad feeling about this. Um, maybe we could let them win at football, or something?

What of the winner, then? Well, I didn't see that one coming. There's nothing wrong with Ukrainian Jamala's voice, nor her sincerity, but worthiness aside, this is a song with a scream in it - albeit a well-modulated one. Not something you'll find yourself humming in the shower, then. But we've had worse winners (Hard Rock Hallelujah, anyone?) and for that matter worse songs with screams in them in this competition. What's more, I had no real hope Sweden would win this year - I'm not sure we could afford it, for one thing - and Germany didn't deserve to (I'm not complaining about that last place - cripes). So congratulations Ukraine, and good luck with the, er, diplomatic aftermath.

On the plus side, Swedish Frans did really well - better than I'd expected - and Poland and Austria were favourites with the televoters, which rescued them from the bottom of the list. Russian Sergey got most of the popular votes, which was only fair. The Swedes put on a great show, Petra Mede shone again, and the parody of a typical winning Eurovision song in the mid-act was particularly funny. The overall quality of the competing songs was high: I may even buy the CD. All in all, not a bad Eurovision year.

The Eurovision froth was welcome, as I'm not in the mood for straining any cultural muscles at the moment, either in my reading or in my television viewing. I've given up on two historical crime novels lately and settled instead for a rereading (Jude Morgan's Passion, which I haven't written about specifically but still feels like blog ground already covered - it's great, though) and Discworld novel number four (Mort, promising, especially as Death is one of my favourite Discworld characters). As for TV, I haven't really put my back into finding some new addictive TV series. Increasingly, I find other ways of wasting my time when off duty. Watching YouTube clips is a real time bandit: it's hard to resist intelligent if nerdy twentysomething males presenting well-argued theories on such subjects as Pixar films and Disney princesses (yes really). Not to mention Top Ten lists with a villain theme, where I continually make the mistake of taking a look at too general lists where not a single one of the baddies on offer is personally known to me. Perniciously, these clips tend to be 7-15 minutes long, so you don't really register how time passes. You think "just one more", and suddenly, there's a whole hour gone.

For more concentrated time-wasting, watching The Clone Wars  on Netflix is preferable. It has no artistic or educational value and does not improve your mind one jot. It's too dull for kids and should be way too silly for grown-ups. But each episode is only about twenty minutes long, and the feeling that you have spent twenty minutes being no earthly use to anyone is oddly uplifting. I was even moved to do a modest stint of housework after one Clone session, muttering "every tuft of dust must be destroyed" in General Grievous-like tones in an effort to make hoovering feel less of a drag. Sadly, it didn't work.