Balancing nothing with something

lawn2This weekend I did something that I thought I would possibly never, ever be able to do. In a stark contrast to my normal weekends, I actually did something.

So, it’s back to normality once again. My three-day review of the songs in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest gave me a little Easter break away from writing my daily blog posts, so I only had to pop by every now and again to make sure things were still working and appearing correctly, and no major errors had occurred with the blog or even WordPress itself! I’ve become quite attached to this little sub-section of cyber space… unfortunately, that attachment has made me somewhat a little too over concerned, if not protective around here. Hence my need for the little break to recharge my batteries, and to give myself the chance to do other things.

Not that I have done that many other things that were different from my general day to day routine, but sometimes it is nice to give attention to another of life’s areas. Over the past three days, I have:

  • Mowed a lawn
  • Gone shopping
  • Caught up with my favourite TV show
  • Had a rest
  • Enjoyed the sunshine
  • Eaten some fabulous food
  • Tickled a couple of cats
  • Slept well
  • Visited my regular haunt
  • Found inspiration

Nothing new there (apart from one) – all very much everyday things that are taken for granted. By taking things for granted, I tend to miss them, don’t appreciate them, and don’t appreciate the ‘extras’ that come with them.

Take mowing the lawn, for instance. I don’t do that at Aquatom Mansion (as I have staff to do that for me) but I helped my parents with their’s. There is nothing spectacular about mowing a lawn. I don’t actually mow very well – in fact I managed to strangle myself at one point with the electric cable, but I’ll gloss over that little incident – and was surprised that I had actually done it. The mowing, not the strangling.

I suffer badly from hay fever. It is as though I have an allergy to Spring and Summer, so usually I have to remain inside, unless it is raining. This is one of the reasons why I appreciate and enjoy the rain; I can get to go outside in Summer!

So, I mowed a lawn, with grass trimmings flying in the air all around me, on a very sunny day. I was outside, in the elements, and enjoying myself thoroughly. I was expecting to suffer later in the day when my eyes would have swelled to four times their normal size, and my nose would have become redder than a Martian sunset, or any other red thing imaginable. I thought I would have been sneezing constantly and itching the corners of my eyes with intense fury.

I was wrong. I didn’t experience any of that. If I hadn’t taken the advice from, and followed, one of the sports companies’ slogans and just done it, I’d have missed out on so many different levels.

The fear of the suffering in the past would have prevented me from moving forward.

I saw through that fear, I faced it head on, and just did it!

OK, I didn’t do a particularly good job, strangling aside, there were long tufts of grass left here, there and everywhere, but I’d had a go. I had fun. I’m not a gardener, so there was no way the lawn was going to look like a fine example of a show lawn, but that isn’t important. And besides, it looks like a show lawn to me, and the tufts are there to provide artistic licence. Who says show lawns have to be perfect anyway? And who decides on the meaning of perfection?

Long and lazy weekends are great fun! Normal lazy weekends are great too, but long ones are even better! Adding a little bit of ‘action’ into the laziness seems to have enhanced the quieter times rather than cancelling them out. How can you manage to do something and nothing at the same time? I have managed very well over this weekend. It’s all a matter of balance. And that ‘balance’ will have to be introduced tomorrow when I’m back in work, so I can add a little ‘something’ to the ‘nothing’.

Review. Eurovision 2011. Part III.

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I’m not much of a critic. I like what I like and write about it non-stop. I try not to mention the things that I don’t like, but sometimes they have to be mentioned to show contrast. To add depth. To prove that I am human and do have my own opinion. My opinion will probably differ from thousands of other people on this wonderful planet of ours, but imagine how things would be if we all liked the same thing?

I have been an avid viewer of the Eurovision Song Contest for what seems like centuries. It has always been with me. I know that there are three types of people when it comes to the Eurovision. One type, like me, who just love it. One group, unlike me who can not stand it. And a third group who say they don’t like it, but watch it, for whatever reason they have.

This post, and the previous two, aren’t for those in the last two categories. I’m not writing anything to make you change your view of things. Just as I am entitled to my opinion, everyone else is entitled to theirs too, and I wouldn’t want to be the one to change your mind. Even if you love the Eurovision, you may disagree with what I think about a particular song. The fact that we can choose what we think, how we feel, and what we say shows that we care about the subject enough to talk about it. Just because we have a difference of opinion doesn’t mean we still can’t be friends, right?

OK. On with my review. Where did I last get up to? Ah, yes, P.

Portugal. Homens Da Luta singing ‘Luta é alegria’. There is always a novelty song in the Eurovision, and this year I think it is Portugal’s turn to enter it. I can’t speak a word of Portuguese, but I think this is a song is about revolution, celebration and speaking out. The struggle is joy. I’ll give 7 out of 10 for it’s quirkiness, but I don’t think it will be in the top ten. However, I am often wrong!

RomaniaRomania. ‘Change’, sung by Hotel FM. A very happy, bubbly, feel good song about changing the world and making dreams come true. Good beat, great singing, and good song. My type of song!!! 9 out of 10. AND a place in the top ten.

RussiaRussia. ‘Get You’ performed by Alexej Vorobjov. Ooh Oh! I’m coming to get you! A poppy rocky kind of song that gets better as it goes along. And it starts off quite good as well too! I was tapping my foot to it! My bad one! 8 out of 10, and a place in the top ten.

San Marino. ‘Stand By’, sung by Senit. I like this song, but I think it would possibly be better as part of a movie soundtrack. It may do well in the contest as it is a different kind of entry. I will give 7 out of 10.

Serbia. ‘Čaroban’, sung by Nina. The video to this song is very seventies, and so is the music in parts. A very different song, and different in a good, happy way. Another 7 out of 10.

Slovakia. ‘I’m Still Alive’, performed by Twiins. A beautiful, thoughtful song, that flows along very nicely. 8 out of 10 and a place in the top ten.

Slovenia. ‘No One’ sung by Maja Keuc. A slower song, but a Eurovision song. I prefer the ending to the early stages of the song, but it does build up to it’s finale, so that is perfectly alright. This may do OK in the contest, I’ll give it 6 out of 10.

SwedenSpain. ‘Que me quiten lo bailao’, sung by Lucía Pérez. A happy party-come-carnival tune that just makes you dance along. Makes typing quite difficult, but I managed! 8 out of 10.

Sweden. ‘Popular’, performed by Eric Saade. A pop song about being popular. The singer being popular. It kind of does and doesn’t make sense. And he ‘pops’ out of a glass tube during the song. Random. Quite entertaining. May do quite well if there is a sudden urge in popularity for old style tunes. 7 out of 10.

Switzerland. ‘In Love For A While’, Anna Rossinelli. I enjoyed this song, and there are a few la’s and na’s to sing along with! It actually sounded very familiar at the beginning but then developed into it’s own rhythm. This one I’m sure will be in the top ten, and I’ll give it 8 out of 10.

The Netherlands. ‘Never Alone’, sung by 3JS. A pleasant enough song, but I think it is very similar to quite a lot of others. This could be played low in the background to create atmosphere, but I’m not sure. I’ll give it 6 out of 10.

Turkey. ‘Live It Up’, performed by Yüksek Sadakat. Not at all what I expected at the beginning, and not how I expected it to develop as it got going. Quite rocky, but am I referring to the music or the song? I’m not sure, so I’ll say 5 out of 10.

Ukraine. ‘Angel’, sung by Mika Newton. Unfortunately, this is another song I’m not sure about. A good singer, but I don’t feel anything from this song. Another 5 out of 10.

United Kingdom. ‘I Can’, performed by Blue. We aren’t allowed to vote for our own entry in the UK, but being one of the ‘Big Five’ we automatically qualify for the final. I’m sorry to say that if this wasn’t the case, I’m not sure if we’d have made it. Blue sing well, and the song has some good parts to it, but there are some parts that don’t seem to fit. I’ll give 7 out of 10. I’m saying a place in the top ten, but only because I want my own country to do well!Blue

Just before my reviews are complete, way back in Part I there was one song that I had to re-visit. Due to my tendency to mis-read information, my concentration was clouded. If, heavens to murgatroyd, something goes awry during one of the acts, the performer sometimes has to re-perform at the end. So, now I revisit Bulgaria:

Bulgaria. ‘Na Inat’ by Poli Genova. I was torn with this song. At times, I was tapping along with it, and at others I wanted so much more from it. I’m not saying it is a bad song, but it is a song with something that didn’t reach what I was expecting. So, I’ll give it 5 out of 10.

And there we have it! 43 songs listened to all the way through, and my first impressions recorded here! Some I liked, some I wasn’t too keen on. All were different to each other, and I enjoyed listening to each and everyone of them.

I can’t wait to watch the performances live at the Eurovision Song Contest next month. Not that I’ll be there in person – in Germany, that is – I’ll be in my living room, holding my own Eurovision party!

The first semi final takes place on 10th May. The second semi final is on 12th May. And the final, the grand final at that!, is on 14th May.

If, like me, you can’t wait to hear what the music is going to be like this year, please visit the Eurovision website, where you can read more about all of the performers and listen to or watch their videos!

I’ve enjoyed writing these reviews, even though they are extremely brief. I may not be a good critic, but I can have a good time trying!

Review. Eurovision 2011. Part II

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I’m not much of a critic.
I like writing about what I like, however, so I can say if there is something that I like better than something else. Or if something isn’t as good as it could have been. Obviously, my thoughts are mine, and mine alone. My opinion counts really to no-one but myself, however, I like to share. In part I, I gave my brief opinions on songs as I travelled alphabetically around Europe from Albania to France. I have my own scoring system for each song, from 0 to 10. 0 means I don’t like the song at all, and 10 means I want to hear it every second for the next ten years, so there isn’t really that much difference between the marks. The songs can be heard at http://www.eurovision.tv/page/dusseldorf-2011, and any pictures and photos that appear in these posts are taken from screenshots of the videos over there. And so, my little European Cultural Adventure continues. We have now reached the letter G:

GermanyGeorgia. ‘One More Day’, performed by Eldrine. Rock and rap together in one song. I’m not sure if they fit together perfectly in this song, but it’s OK if you like a bit of everything. I’m scoring this one 4 out of 10, upgraded to 6 because it is a little different, but I don’t think I like it. Sorry.

Germany. ‘Taken By A Stranger’, sung by Lena. Last year’s winner, sung by last year’s winner! I thought at first this song sounded just the same as last years, but Lena has her own voice. I wasn’t particularly keen on last year’s song, although it was quirky, and I like quirky. I’m not particularly sure of this year’s song either, but I’ll give it a 6 out of 10, with a view to it possibly appearing in my never ending pot of top ten places.

Greece. ‘Watch My Dance’, Loucas Yiorkas featuring Stereo Mike. There seems to be a lot of songs in this year’s contest that are a bit ‘mix and match’, and this is another one. In parts it has a bit of a Greek feel, in other parts I’m not sure. I think I liked the parts with the Greek feel, but I’m not sure on the other parts. As I’m half and half about it, it’s 5 out of 10.

HungaryHungary. ‘What About My Dreams?’, sung by Kati Wolf. What about my life? What about my dreams? Sounds like one of my blog posts, but I know it isn’t. Even Kati’s name has a connection to a post that is phenomenally popular with the world at large, but this isn’t about my blog. It’s a good song, powerfully sung by someone with a very strong voice. Very enjoyable. 9.5 out of 10.

Iceland. ‘Coming Home’, performed by Sjonnis’ Friends. A nice, foot tapping little number, that I really enjoy. 8 out of 10.

Ireland. ‘Lipstick’, sung by Jedward. Getting passed the slightly out of synch dancing, and odd notes at the beginning, this song seems to get going towards the end. I have heard this one before, and compared it to a Britney Spears type of song, and that impression remains. Good in parts, but not in others, it’s another 6 out of 10.

Israel. ‘Ding Dong’; Dana International. Links to Eurovision past! Dana International won for Israel in 1998, in Birmingham. Dana won for Ireland back in 1970, and a song called ‘Ding-A-Dong’, performed by Teach-In for The Netherlands, won in 1975. Dana International’s song is good this year, but not as good as her ‘Diva’ with which she has previously won, in my opinion. However, she gets 7 out of 10, but part of this is due to nostalgia!

Italy. ‘Madness Of Love’, performed by Raphael Gualazzi. Italy don’t seem to perform very often at the Eurovision Song Contest, so it is good to see them in this years contest. The introduction to this piece was very good, but didn’t seem to fit in with the rest of the song. Even though it appears to have two parts, it is quite a pleasant, apart from a couple of strange ‘blarts’ in the middle. A blart is my definition of a musical offering at a right angle to everything else! 6 out of 10.

Latvia. ‘Angel In Disguise’, by Musiqq. I was thinking that there was nothing in this song that stood out in a good or a bad way, it was one to sit back and let it flow by, but then a style of rapping appeared. In a blart way. And this kind of put me off the rest of the song. Sorry. 5 out of 10.

Lithuania. ‘ C’est Ma Vie’, by Evelina Sašenko. I don’t like being negative, but I didn’t like this song. A good voice, and flowing music, but the song itself didn’t push any of my buttons. I’m scoring it 4 out of 10, because I feel bad for my comments, and I don’t like feeling bad.

MaltaMalta. ‘One Life’, sung by Glen Vella. Malta usually give a good performance at Eurovision, and this is no exception. Upbeat. Random. And with a message for everyone to love themselves! I will give it 8 out of 10, and a place in the top ten.

Moldova. ‘So Lucky’, performed by Zdob și Zdub. I didn’t think I was going to like this song, and by the end, I’m not sure whether I did or not! It was one I had to listen to throughout, but it didn’t get my feet a tapping. 6 out of 10.

Norway. ‘Haba Haba’ Stella Mwangi provided a little bit of an African feel with this fun, bubbly and quick moving little song. Very enjoyable. 8 out of 10, and a top ten spot!

Poland. ‘Jestem’, sung by Magdalena Tul. This song started out like another of Britney Spear’s recent hits, and there are aspects of that throughout the song too, although this song is better than Jedward’s song, in my opinion. Even though it is in Polish, and I haven’t the faintest idea what she is singing, it sounds good. 7 out of 10.

And I’ve reached the end of part II. Part III will be the final part. I promise!

Review. Eurovision 2011. Part I.

esc flash1I’m not much of a critic.

I’m not really much of a reviewer either, but I thought I’d have a go at providing my own version of a music review, based on the entrants for this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.

There are about twenty thousand entries in this year’s contest (no, I jest!) so my review will be spread over a couple or so posts. I am awarding my own scores to each song out of ten points with 10 being the best thing since sliced bread, and 0 being the worst of the worst. However, this is just my opinion on hearing the song the first (or second) time around, and my musical tastes change like the weather.

In true organised style, I’m ploughing through the songs in alphabetical order, starting, obviously, with A.

Albania

Albania. ‘Feel The Passion’ performed by Aurela Gaçe. She reminded me of Pink, on first impression, and by sight only, but not for very long. Even though she was singing about feeling passion and flying high (which resonated with me for some reason…) I felt as though her song was missing something. Not that it isn’t good, I just felt that a certain ‘spark’ was needed to push it further. I will award her 6 out of 10, which isn’t as harsh as it sounds. However, with the way how the scoring goes with Eurovision, I couldn’t say where she is likely to finish, if she makes it to the final. If she was in the final, I would guess she’d finish somewhere in the middle, so not too bad, and not a nil pointer.

Armenia. ‘Boom Boom’ Chaka Chaka. Performed by Emmy. The song’s actually only called ‘Boom Boom’, but Emmy sings Chaka Chaka quite a lot throughout the song. She sings Boom Boom quite a lot too. I couldn’t help feeling that this was two or possibly three songs in one. Some parts, I really liked, and others I wasn’t too keen on. I’ll award this song 5 out of 10, and again, don’t think it will be in the top ten.

AustriaAustria. ‘The Secret Is Love’, sung by Nadine Beiler. Not meaning to sound awful, I couldn’t remember this song, so had to play it again. She has an amazing voice, but the song is something you could do your ironing to. Having said that, I remember thinking that about Leona Lewis’ Bleeding Love, which is why I shouldn’t really review music. Well, I’ve started, and I ain’t stopping now. Another 6 out of 10, although variable. All of my scores are variable. She may be a dark horse in this contest.

Azerbaijan. ‘Running Scared’, performed by Ell and Nikki. Now I like this one. Very dramatic start. It reminds me of a soundtrack to a flashback scene in a heart-wrenching movie, although I think it is about a relationship breaking up or the fear of getting together or something like that – I’ll have to listen to it again to get the full gist of the story (and I think there is one there, which is always good in a song). 8 out of 10.

Belarus. ‘I Love Belarus’, sung by Anastasiya Vinnikova. A very patriotic sounding song, with national dance thrown into the mix no doubt. This is another of the songs that sounds as though it is actually two different songs fused together, but it has a bubbly bouncy beat when it gets going. 6 out of 10.

Belgium. ‘Witloof Bay’ by With Love Baby. Sorry, ‘With Love Baby’ by Witloof Bay. It’s easy to get things mixed up. There is no music in this song. It’s swing all the way! Actually, parts of the song remind me of that video I have in my Feel Good page, however this is another song that I really like. 7, no 8 out of 10. Go on, then. 8.5!Belgium

Bosnia & Herzegovina. ‘Love In Rewind’, performed by Dino Merlin. This song seems to start one way, veers off the path a little, finds it’s way back, and then veers off again. It ends quite well though. So, good start and finish with a blurry middle. I’ll give 5 out of 10 for the parts that I do like.

Bulgaria. ‘Na Inat’ by Poli Genova. I misread that Poli used to be part of the band Bon Jovi before listening to this song, and thought ‘I don’t remember hearing her kind of sound on a Bon Jovi song’. She was part of the group BonBon. It’s a pleasant song, but I’m reserving judgement on this one. I’ll have another listen and comment again later; my Bon Jovi thoughts may have clouded my hearing somewhat with this song. I’ll award my points out of ten later as well…

CroatiaCroatia. ‘Celebrate’ sung by Daria Kinzer. A Celine Dion-esque performance of a quite a happy sounding song, that by the end seemed to have been just a little too short. Or it ended quickly, or something like that. Quite good,  but in my opinion a middle runner. Not that my opinion counts, but hey! I’m enjoying myself! 6 out of 10.

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Cyprus. ‘San Aggelos S’Agapisa’, performed by Christos Mylordos. A song sung in French, which to me sounded full of angst and loss, but as I don’t speak French will probably be completely wrong. A nice rhythm, and quite dark too. 7 out of 10.

Denmark. ‘New Tomorrow’ sung by A Friend In London. “Come on boys come on girls in this crazy crazy world” is how the song begins. Very pleasant song, although it is described as being performed in French. Unless I can now suddenly understand French, I don’t think so. A very nice song for the present and the future! 8.5 out of 10!

Estonia. ‘Rockefeller Street’, by Getter Jaani. Life is surreal on Rockefeller Street. The numbers 1,2, 7, 3 feature very prominently in this catchy little tune, which I will give a score of 7 out of 10, and add that this may be in the top ten.

FinlandFormer Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. ‘Rusinka’, Vlatko Ilievski takes us on a random journey through many rooms in this song, and I was foot-tapping along with him. I enjoyed this one, so it’s 7 out of 10, and possibly a contender to be in the top ten also.

Finland. ‘Da Da Dam’ song and guitar performed by Paradise Oskar. A song about saving the planet, which fits in very nicely with today being Earth Day and all, and performed very nicely too. 8 out of 10, and I think I’m running out of space in my top ten list. Hey, I live in paradoxes – I can have hundreds, thousands even, in my top ten!

France. ‘Sognu’ excellently performed by Amaury Vassili. Bolero in an operatic style. I was hooked at the very first beat. 9 out of 10. And considering I haven’t a clue what was being said is saying something. I don’t need to understand the words to enjoy the song, the music and the performance.

And like Amaury’s performance, I’ll end here on a high note. Like I said at the beginning, these are my opinions from my first impressions of the songs. To hear the songs for yourself, please visit the Eurovision website.

The Eurovision semi finals take place in Düsseldorf on 10th and 12th May, with the final on 14th May 2011.

Europe coming together for music. I’m sorry for those who may disagree, but I love it!

What day is it today? Has Christmas come early?

When is itI’ve been asking myself those questions all day in work.

I know it is Thursday, but it has felt like Friday all day today. It has been the last day of the week, as it is Good Friday tomorrow, so that is where the Friday feeling has come from, but there has been a strange ‘Christmassy’ feel running through my work colleagues today. Not the singing of carols kind of Christmassy, but the I’m not particularly bothered if it doesn’t get done now, it can get done next week kind of Christmassy. If you know what I mean. But someone was singing a Christmas carol on Tuesday this week, so they didn’t help.

So, that made today feel like the day before Christmas Eve. Which was odd to start with, but then with the weather being stunningly glorious things felt even odder. Especially as I had to wear my jacket all day in the office (pesky air conditioning).

Another reason why today felt like Friday was due to the fact that I finished early yesterday (Wednesday) but most weeks I finish early on a Thursday. Another reason why it felt Christmassy was due to the next Bank Holiday Weekend next week, thanks to the Royal Wedding. That will probably feel like New Year. And with today being the 21st the date is kind of Christmassy too. Although not the day before Christmas Eve, so that, therefore, meant that today did and didn’t feel like the day before Christmas Eve at the same time. Paradox… I’m in a paradox again.

It is really odd how changes to the same old routine can have a drastic effect on everything else. A change is as good as a rest is very true, but when a change causes your internal body clock to go slightly haywire, would that be classed as a rest?

Probably. A good old shake up every now and then gets rid of all of those dusty cobwebs that just seem to linger about. A little bit of Christmas magic in April is certainly a surprise, to say the least.

I only hope that on Sunday, I have a visit from the Easter Bunny rather than that jolly person in red with his trusty deer. Unless they’ve started to share the workload, and any one could turn up. Old Father Time, and the Tooth Fairy are included here too.

And if it was Old Father Time who appeared, with me thinking next week is New Years, I think the fabric of time and space may just implode. And that isn’t due to happen until next December. December 2012. Just before Christmas.

I’m going to have to have a lie down in a darkened room and reset my body clock. Recharge my inner chronological system. Gently let my brain and body know that today wasn’t Friday, and that tomorrow is.

And it is a really good job that I have managed to post this before midnight. I don’t need any more confusion right at this moment. I don’t think any more would actually fit right now anyway!