15,000 Tonnes of Coal

Well, Ali starts writing regularly, and I stop. There’s symmetry for you.

I’ve been fairly busy the last few weeks. I can’t be bothered writing about all of it right now because the work related stuff is just too depressing. But some of the rest is OK, so I’ll write about that instead, OK?

Ah, it turns out that Ali didn’t like Estonia. Well, there’s just no accounting for taste. They were clearly the best act of the contest and deserved to win, and I will brook no argument on that fact. So there ๐Ÿ˜‰

Also it seems that Ali (this is a very Ali related entry isn’t it? I thought this blog was meant to be about me ๐Ÿ™‚ has been going through the weird questions that blogspot asks on personal profile pages or something. I’m not going to emulate her example by answering all of them, but two in particular did catch my eye…

Your superpower is that you smell like dandelions whenever someone lies. How will you maintain your secret identity?

I’d buy a small pug, name him ‘William’ and take him everywhere with me. Whenever the smell of dandelions became apparent I’d glare at him and say “William!” in a disaproving voice.

You’ve just inherited a manufacturing plant that specializes in plastics. What are you going to make?

I’d flood the market with action figures from TV series that simply don’t justify action figures. Like Law and Order, Jonathan Creek, CSI, Mysterious Ways, and Gilmore Girls.

Anyway, with that out of the way I figured I’d write about some of the things I’ve been up to instead of writing. If that makes sense…

1: Modeling. No, not that kind of modeling, not the cool kind – the geeky kind. You know, building little models of things. To be specific I’ve been collecting the bi-monthly Battle Games in Middle Earth magazine series that at $11.00 an issue presents you with selections from Games Workshop‘s Lord of the Rings range. It’s actually pretty good value when you compare the prices of the boxed sets in the stores – although the painting instructions seem to be aimed at 12 year olds (naturally I’ve been ignoring them and doing my own painting schemes based on the photos in each issue which show the models painted up pretty damn well by comparison).

I started all of this because of Ryan, who gave me the Sauron figure for my birthday back in January. Sauron isn’t painted yet – but he is assembled and glaring menacingly across my work table. The box he came in is labeled in a number of languages Sauron – Lord of the Ring, Sauron – Der Herr Des Rings etc. Two though make me laugh. The French version Maรฎtre De L’anneau which to my ear sounds like he should be seating people at a restaurant and the Spanish (Portuguese?) Seรฑor Del Anillo which sounds like the villain in a Zorro movie. C’mon, say it in a Speedy Gonzales accent! You know you want to! ๐Ÿ™‚

I was going to post some pictures of the (pathetically few) models I’ve finished but my digital camera doesn’t have a macro function so they came out horribly blurred. Oh well, one less stupid image for you to download ๐Ÿ™‚

2: CDs. I’ve treated myself (for no justifiable reason) to two new CDs. Gallowsbird’s Bark by the Fiery Furnaces and Pixies at the BBC. Gallowsbird’s Bark is great. Not only the songs themselves (which I’ll cover in a minute), but the accompanying booklet too. It’s full of strange little pencil sketches of plants, animals, vaguely geographical and mystical symbols and odd little notes in cryptic writing. It’s kind of like a cross between the notes of Leonardo Da Vinci and the Voynich Manuscript -although I don’t believe either of those featured a disgruntled looking archaeopteryx ๐Ÿ™‚

The songs, let’s see… I’m not going to rant on about all of them, only a few. Leaky Tunnel is an ominous travelogue around London, possibly ending with a descent into Brunel’s Thames tunnel. Despite it’s spooky ambiance, harsh electronic buzzing, Davrossian siren and air of incipient violence it features one line that had me laughing for days (well, OK, minutes) “I bought a tambourine at the Millennium Dome, it jangled 2000 times in a row”. Well, I thought it was clever. Up in the North is disturbingly catchy, it’s been stuck in my head for weeks. Crystal Clear of course is great, who can resist joining in on the “Filthy, dirty, cloudy, muddy, messy, mucky, crystal clear” bit? Gale Blow is… well fairly indescribably really. But good. I keep meaning to run the backwards bits through a wav editor and figure out what they are.

The only disappointment I had with the album is that its version of Tropical Iceland is a fairly laid back acoustic version, as opposed to the hepped up, effect laden radio version. Which is annoying as the hepped up, effect laden radio version was one of my main motivators in purchasing it in the first place. Oh well, live and learn.

Pixies at the BBC is also great (yeah right, like I’d say anything else :). The real stand outs are There Goes my Gun, Is She Weird, the highly underrated Manta Ray (no, not Dancing the Manta Ray, the Pixies recorded two songs about our flat aquatic friends) and Levitate Me. I haven’t heard Levitate Me before (or if I have it didn’t grab me) but this live version rocks! I’ve been wandering around all week muttering “Elevator-lady, Elevator-lady, Elevator-lady, Elevator-lady, Levitate me!” interspersed with random yells of “C’MON Pilgrim! You KNOW he LOVES YOU!!” ๐Ÿ™‚

(I’ve also been muttering “Some people smell like a free range Ablett!” and “Egg roll!” but that’s neither here nor there)

Gah! Of course I’ve heard Levitate Me before! It’s the final track off C’mon Pilgrim for crying out loud! Sheeze!

3: Links. Here are some links I’ve been meaning to post for a while. Share and enjoy!

Strindberg and Helium (Thanks Stephanie!)
Turkish Star Trek! (Thanks Ryan!)
So true, so true ๐Ÿ™‚
The FULL version!
The CAT with HANDS!! (Thanks Ryan again!)

4: Ryan’s Sister’s Party. Ryan’s sister Laura has been living in the UK for a few years but has come home for a few weeks, so her family decided to throw a party last Sunday (and indeed why not?). Ryan (probably in order to have someone to talk to apart from Laura’s friends ๐Ÿ˜‰ invited Justin and I along. Of course Justin failed to show, but it was a pretty good afternoon-evening nonetheless. There were a number of notable things, which I shall now number and note…

1: Sweet Potato Chips: Amongst the large quantities of food supplied were some strange, red potato chips. Strange, red, TASTY potato chips. These turned out to be made from sweet potatoes (“yams” to Americans and other aliens I believe). I’ll be keeping an eye out for these in future.

2: The CAT with HANDS!!: Throughout the night Ryan kept dragging people away from the patio/grape trellis thing where the party was being held to view this on the computer. I tell, you – it’s freakier each time you see it!

3: The Fire: When the sun had set and it started getting chilly Ryan’s dad lit up a 40 gallon drum full of wood. This was located under one side of the patio/grape trellis thing and at first looked likely to set it on fire – or at least melt the nylon washing lines hanging over it. It eventually settled down though and provided much appreciated warmth and entertainment as the evening wore on. By the end of the night the bottom half of the drum was glowing a nice shade of dull orange – no doubt helped along by the large quantities of sheoak branches we kept shoving in (for those not in the know fresh leaves and other foliage from the Sheoak tree – Casurina somethingorotheris – burn with an intensity to rival petrol ๐Ÿ™‚

4: The Cheese: There was some very good brie on the cheese platter.

5: Melanie: Melanie was apparently one of Laura’s friends. This in itself is not notable – it was Laura’s party after all – but what was notable was her absolutely remarkable resemblance to Lyndah (you know, Lyndah, that girl I’ve had a crush on for years? Keep up will you! :). When I walked into the kitchen and saw her there was a genuine “What the hell is she doing here?!?” moment – not unlike finding Victor Meldrew hiding in the pantry. Thankfully I didn’t say anything and realised – after a panicked few seconds – that she wasn’t Lyndah – but still, the resemblance was frightening.

From the back you’d swear it was her. Same hair, same height and build, same snappy dress sense. In profile you could be confused for several seconds, her nose was a bit different that’s about all. Face on she actually looked fairly different – the nose again, but she was still extremely distracting. Needless to say I didn’t say a word to her all night (although maybe that’s just as well, after all she lost a lot of geek-points when she took off Ryan’s Lord of the Rings soundtrack CD in favour of something more “upbeat” ๐Ÿ˜‰

Um yeah, so that was the party.

Hmmmm, I do have more stuff to write about (involving dangerously flammable cakes and the Red Orchid) but it’s getting late and I’ve got to cook dinner. So I will quit now, and continue… well, eventually ๐Ÿ™‚

The most ridiculous thing ever wrote…

// Expects ‘theDate’ in YYYY-MM-DD Format
String timeSince(String theDate) throws Exception (
       int theYear = Integer.parseInt(theDate.substring(0,4));
       int theMonth = Integer.parseInt(theDate.substring(5,7));
       int theDay = Integer.parseInt(theDate.substring(8));
       return Integer.toString(theYear)+”-” +Integer.toString(theMonth)+”-” +Integer.toString(theDay);

I did actually have a sane reason for writing this, and it didn’t end up in any actual working programs, but it’s still pretty hilarious no? (Hilarious that is if you can read Java – which you probably can’t ๐Ÿ˜‰

Eurovision Part II

Well, I wasn’t going to make an entry tonight, but then I read Ali’s blog criticising me horribly *g* for not mentioning Turkey’s entry in Eurovision, so I just had to respond ๐Ÿ™‚

The reason I didn’t mention Turkey was (of course) that since they came in the top 24 (or some other number) last year they qualified automatically and didn’t have to perform in the qualifying round. So there! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Sad to say, I didn’t get to see all of the final since we went out to dinner (at a Korean barbeque restaurant would you believe?) for Andrew’s birthday, but I did manage to catch the last few acts. Also (thanks to SBS’s Countdown to Eurovision) I’d heard most of the songs anyway. So although I can’t do as detailed a rundown as I did for the qualifiers I can still make a few comments.

Spain. I didn’t see Spain’s performance on the night, but I quite liked their song. Ummm, France – same deal. Russia – their song was quite good, but I’m sure large parts of it are lifted from some 80’s track that just kept tugging at my mind. If I could hear it a few more times I’m sure I could figure it out.

Poland – I really liked Poland although no-one else (including the rest of Europe) seems to. OK, the lyrics were a bit stupid, but the tune was good. Sweden were very good, and frankly their singer looked amazing for 38 :). Turkey’s ska band were spectacular, I’ve been humming their song all week. if Ukraine hadn’t won, then they should have.

Ukraine of course were spectacular – I really can’t say more about them than I did previously, except that it’s great that they won. Of course Estonia should have won, but Ukraine was a pretty good substitute ๐Ÿ™‚

Of course a lot of truly horrible performers did far too well, Malta and Bosnia in particular. I was also impressed that Greece did as well as they did – I mean their song was hardly anything special. On Ali’s note about countries with similar languages it was interesting to see that most of the former Yugoslav states rated each other’s song very highly – moreso than the rest of Europe did.

Hmmmm, I’m sure I had something else to say. Oh yeah, it turns out that Ukraine are the highest scoring winners ever with 280 points, smashing the record held by the UK with 227 (for some song by Katrina and the Waves – no, not Echo Beach, something else). A lot of this has to do with a lot more countries competing this year, sure, but it’s still very impressive.

So yeah, that’s it for now. Got to go eat dinner ๐Ÿ™‚

PS: All the video clips are available on the SBS website here. Just in case anyone really has to see how bad Bosnia were ๐Ÿ™‚

PPS: Not the actual Eurovision performances, the official video clips for each entry – such as they are. But at least you get to see the Estonian “Five Women in Sacks and their Diabolical Drummer”

PPS: In Estonian it’s “Neiok

Estonia was Robbed!!

Well that sucked! Estonia completely failed to get through to the finals at Eurovision. If it wasn’t for the fact that Shivaree are so big in France and Italy I’d accuse Europe of having no musical taste at all! Anyway in this post-Eurovision-Qualifiers /pre-Eurovision-Finals period I thought I might as well give my run down of last night’s performances. You know, just because I can.

FINLAND – This was a tango song by the “Finnish Tango King”. It was every bit as boring as you’d expect Finnish tango to be. Hey the Kalevala is great, but this guy was no Sibelius. 5/10

BELARUS – What the heck was this? A couple of refugees from a bad Lord of the Rings convention wailing about Galileo? What? 3/10

SWITZERLAND – The best I can do is quote the Australian commentator “Hi-Five should sue for plagiarism. And defamation of character”. Happily these losers managed the ultimate Eurovision accolade of ‘null points’. Yey! 4/10

LATVIA – This sounded kind of like a Googoo Dolls song speeded up. It wasn’t anything fantastic, but it was a whole lot more bearable than what came before. They also sang in their native language which always gets extra points from me, both for integrity and because not understanding the lyrics of a Eurovision entry generally makes it a whole lot more listenable. Oh, and the chorus seemed to mention Mozilla. 6/10

ISRAEL – This guy could actually sing, he had a tremendous voice. And when he was singing in Hebrew (I presume that’s what it was anyway) he wasn’t bad. Unfortunately he kept switching between Hebrew and English and the English lyrics were appalling. Some kind of mawkish call for peace, love and tolerance. Sure I agree with the sentiment, just not the medium. At the end it just turned into a bunch of high pitched wailing. Oh, and there were distracting graphics of gigantic birds flapping their wings constantly in the background, which was annoying. 5/10

ANDORA – An inoffensive pop song in Catalan, with extremely silly dancing. They also went badly off key halfway through and stayed that way for the rest of the song. 5/10

PORTUGAL – This was sort of like the flashbacks you’d have if you dropped some really bad acid while watching Saturday Night Fever. Or maybe what you’d see if your video of Saturday Night Fever got chewed up and started playing one of the dance sequences on a five second loop. It was in Portuguese, but even that couldn’t save it from being a hideous mess that should have been swept off the stage with firehoses. Firehoses full of acid. Thankfully it was short – either that or I blacked out. 2/10

MALTA – And continuing with hideous messes we come to Malta. The performers are apparently a couple. This is a very bad idea, neither of them should be having children, least of all with each other. The song was all about how their love is on-again off-again, and the first twenty seconds or so was the woman wandering back and forth across the stage warbling like a bad Kate Bush impersonator while the guy just stood there. Then with no warning he suddenly started up and began belting out opera! Full on Pavarotti style tennor opera! About how their love is on-again off-again! She continued to warble on with him interjecting now and then with more bursts of Pavarotti, until the end of the song when she (no doubt inspired to have a go) tried to do some opera as well, wailing it right into his face. Oh it was hideous. A conceptual nightmare that defies even the loosest definition of what it means to be ‘musical’. Sad to say it got through to the final, which means we’ll have to listen to it all over again on Sunday. *sigh* 2/10

MONACO – In a what was probably some kind of coup for the costuming department the girl from Monaco wandered onto the stage in darkness wearing a cloak studded with Christmas lights. That’s about the most notable thing to say about her performance, apart from maybe that anything said (or sung) in French sounds much classier than it actually is. The song didn’t really go anywhere, but it was pleasant enough listening, and at least had a beat. 6/10

GREECE – A fairly banal latin-influenced piece of filler. The singer nonetheless looked to be pulling it off with some dignity until he suddenly ripped the costumes off his female companions and they turned into go-go dancers in gold lame bikinis. About the one interesting thing about the song was that the bits of flamenco guitar giving it its latin flavour sounded like they were done on bouzoukis, which was a nice touch. 5/10

UKRAINE – OK, picture Xena Warrior Princess. Then picture her with a bunch of burly men (well two men and three women) in furs and leather. Then give them all whips. Then give them a magical expresso machine that never goes dry and can pump out 50 gallons of coffee a minute, wait until they’re all nicely hyperactive and enter them in Eurovision. This will give you some idea of the Ukrainian entry. I don’t pretend to understand what the heck they were carrying on about, but it was certainly impressive (it’s entirely possible that they were actually declaring war :). In any case the song was a bit of a mess at the beginning, but actually turned out quite well towards the end, and there was plenty of stomping and shouting to move things along in an entertaining fashion. They made it into the final too, so we can enjoy it all over again. Yey! 7/10

LITHUANIA – Lithuania really let down the Baltic States this year. Their song was so banal that I can’t really remember anything about it. What I can remember though were a bunch of guys dressed like insane clowns (think John Wayne Gacey here) posing and posturing in the background like they’ve been given an overdose of medication. And waving giant flags. Towards the end of the song they got up on a raised stage at the back and did some weird synchronised dancing, then ran forwards and showered the singers with confetti (I half expected them to pull out knives and gut them). 4/10

ALBANIA – The girl from Albania had a really impressive voice. Unfortunately she was singing a really unimpressive song. The quality of her voice was such though that she actually managed to lift it a bit and make it listenable. 6.5/10

CYPRUS – The song from Cyprus was really not my kind of thing. Too slow, no beat to speak of. But the girl singing it had really good technique. If it’dhad been more my kind of song she probably would have got a higher score. 6/10

MACEDONIA – The guy from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (to give it its full, non-offensive-to-nationalist-Greeks title) obviously wants to be Prince. He looks like Prince, he has the same hair and beard as Prince, and his costume, a sort of white version of the trenchcoats from The Matrix would certainly not be rejected by the Purple One. Unfortunately neither he nor his song-writers are Prince. His song wasn’t actually bad, it just had some very strange syncopation – I think they were trying for ‘funky’ but just ended up with ‘disjointed’. If they’d performed in Macedonian (is that a language? I’ll have to check) they may have pulled it off. 5/10

SLOVENIA – The singer looked kind of like my cousin (there is really nothing else to say) 5/10

ESTONIA – These guys were my favourites. Five women in weird sack-like traditional folk costumes, a drummer who could have been Satan himself, and all the words chanted in some obscure dialect of Estonian that only a few thousand people still speak. The dancing was nothing to write home about, but the drummer more than made up for any entertainment gap by refusing drumsticks and playing the kit with his hands, head and face. He’d actually announced before going on that he was going to do something ‘totally outrageous’ (I was expecting him to bite the head off a live goose) but in the end he just slid across the stage on his belly at the end of the performance (either the powers that be dissuaded him or things are really sloooow in Estonia these days). This was the best song of the night, and the fact that they didn’t get through to the finals is a true crime against music! 8/10

CROATIA – This was a somewhat dark and jazzy track reminiscent of Windmills of Your Mind – up until the chorus anyway when it went sort of ballistic. The singer had a pretty good voice, it’s a shame the song wasn’t performed in Croatian as originally planed. 7/10

DENMARK – This song sounded scarily like Ricky Martin crossed with Justin Timberlake. And scarily the guy singing it bore a strong facial resemblance to Eminem. Even scarier all of this added up to a pretty good performance, including an impressive slide across the stage that seemed to defy physics (I think he must have had wheels in the back of his shoes). The sound went kind of funny halfway through, but recovered before the end. 6/10

SERBIA AND MONTENEGRO – This song has been touted as a possible winner and it’s easy to see why. It’s got plenty of spooky ethnic flute, and catchy ethnic drum backed up with the latin beat that seems to have infected just about every non-latin country this year. I think there was a scary violinist in there somewhere too, although I can’t quite remember. 7/10

BOSNIA HERZEGOVINA – This entry was utterly ridiculous. Ex-boy-band pretty boy “Deen” with his shirt undone trying (and failing) to look like a young Billy Idol strutting about the stage miming to a tape of himself moaning and hissing the phrase “In the disco”. And miming badly, his lips never even came close to matching what was coming out of the speakers. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if he got confused and was miming the Bosnian version. It got into the final, but didn’t deserve to. I’d give it 4/10, but it deserves at least 2 points for sheer camp value. 6/10

NETHERLANDS – This was one of the blandest and most banal songs of the evening. It was like a Back Street Boys ballad performed by two guys, neither of which could really sing. Predictably it got into the final. 5/10

So, that’s my opinion of Eurovision 2004. The qualifiers anyway ๐Ÿ™‚

Got to feet?

It has come to my attention recently that after a long period of no lyrics being available at all for Shivaree’s song Scrub the net is suddenly flooded with them. I’d say this is good news, except for the fact that…

  1. They all seem to have been copied from one source,
  2. That source is somewhat dodgy.

I’d guess that someone put a lot of time and effort into transcribing the song. For the most part this has paid off, but there are one or two lines that are just blech. I mean “So small and sad you’re a skit“? What?! This cannot be allowed to stand.

So, here I present my version of the lyrics. Ones that make sense. Well, OK it’s Shivaree so it doesn’t make a huge amount of sense, but it makes a good deal more than the other versions floating ’round the net…

by Shivaree

On the way coming up,
I’m quiet as a cup,
Be a girl anyway,
Close enough,

In your life,
Such a mess,
So small inside your skin1,
Got some time on the hand,
On the cast there’s no love,

No, only proof,
Of love this is the truth,
So I’ll drop my hand,
Think it’s you2,

You’re on the club,
Got two feet as they fall3,
Dropped on the bed4,
A spinning head love,

Now, keep the score5,
Like a baby tallies war6,
Adam should have just stepped on the snake7,

Naughty boys try to come,
But the best ones always go,
Say goodbye with a smile,
And they spoke there’s no love,

No, only proof,
Of love this is the truth,
So I’ll drop my hand,
Think it’s you2,

You’re on the club,
Got two feet as they fall3,
Dropped on the bed4,
A reeling f**king stone block,

Now, keep the score5,
Like a baby tallies war6,
Adam should have just stepped on the snake,

Adam should have just stepped on,
Adam should have just stepped,
Adam should have just stepped on the snake,

  1. This line may be “So small and sad you’re a skit” as suggested in the commonly posted lyrics (CPL), but I doubt it. It doesn’t fit the meter and it makes no freakin’ sense. I’m pretty confident “So small inside your skin” is the correct lyric.
  2. The CPL has “Look at you” for this line, but I’m not convinced. Neither am I totally convinced of my interpretation, but I think it’s closer than “Look at you”. (‘Pikachu’ is even closer but I’m not even going to think about that! ๐Ÿ˜‰
  3. The CPL has “Got to feet” here which is just stupid. It would have to be “Got two feet”. Equally likely is “Got to feed”.
  4. This line could equally as well be “Trapped on the bed”, but I’ve left it as “Dropped” to tie in with “fall” from the previous line.
  5. The first word of this line is so muffled that it’s impossible to even take a stab at what it might be. “Now” is as good a guess as any.
  6. The CPL has “Like a baby tell his war”. The only explanation I can offer for this is that the transcriber is unfamilar with the verb “tallies”.
  7. This line is definitely correct, however I spent a long time thinking it was “Adam sure, I’ll just stand on the snake” which kind of puts a different spin on the whole song eh? ๐Ÿ™‚

So, one more abuse of the musical arts corrected. Now if only I can smuggle a rifle into that Shannon Noll concert… ๐Ÿ™‚

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