Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Clapham Man Wins!

In further weekend news, I won a competition! Hoorah!

It’s official - my Summer Pudding is the best on the internet!

The competition was organized on the phenomenally successful social networking site, Twitter, by the BBC’s face of technology, Maggie Philbin (@maggiephilbin) and her sister, Nickie Philbin (@NickiePhilbin). Maggie arranged for top British chef, Anton Edelman of Great Hallinbury Manor to judge the entries.

The challenge was to create the perfect Summer Pudding in time for Bank Holiday Saturday. Twitterers became intrigued, and tweeted the competition far and wide - in the end, entries came from around the world.

I couldn’t resist having a go - after all, what dessert could be more appropriate for the May Bank Holiday? I had some slight knowledge of the weaselly ways of summer puddings - my dear friend Sue made one years ago. Not only does one need to decant the molded bread structure out of a pudding basin without disaster, the fruit juices need to saturate that bread completely. The more juicy gravy you have, the better all round actually.

I decided to invest in a carton of blackberry smoothy. I slathered the bread slices in this as they went into the pudding basin.

I briefly simmered strawberries, blueberries and raspberries in a pan with sugar to release their juices, and then filled the pudding. Weighed down with a saucer, this overnighted in the fridge.

Decanted the next morning, I poured the rest of the juices and stewed fruits over the top, and this was the result:

I uploaded my photos to a group on photobucket, and awaited Anton’s judgement anxiously.

Maggie actually drove to Anton’s restaurant with the entries on her powerbook for Anton to judge:

Anton did a magnificent job judging, giving each entry perceptive and encouraging feedback. Maggie tweeted that Anton who'd never seen Twitter at work had to be dragged back to his kitchen by worried staff - he was in the middle of a massive wedding.

Finally, at 8pm, the news was announced: I was the winner! (read from bottom to top for the correct order - twitter idiosyncracy)

What top Chef Anton Edelman had to say about my pudding:

@edwardclarke "Shows technical ability,polish, beautifully photographed and looks scrumpcious"

I’m stunned. I think it’s the first time I’ve won anything in a competition. Hoorah again!

I had saved the pudding from the morning photoshoot, so we were all able to tuck into an award-winning pudding for dessert.

My prize is to the choose the next twitter tweetcookoff challenge. I am going for a fruit tart; the final is June 27th.

The cookoff twitter fun can be followed on the twitter hashtag #summerpudding.
All the entries can be seen at photobucket.
My summer pudding photos are in a set on flickr.
Benjamin Ellis has excellent coverage of the entire competition on his blog.
Next twitter cookoff competition: Summer Tart

Monday, May 25, 2009

Kiddies and Kitties

Well, it's been a wonderful Bank Holiday Weekend here in Clapham, with glorious weather, mostly, even (the angry jinx gods of Bank Holiday weather clearly didn't get the memo until almost too late).

To round off the weekend, and to keep the joy flowing, I am posting two cute videos. I mine the interwebs for cute, so you don't have to . . .

The above is a live streaming "kitty cam" set up by one of my twitter contacts, @jenblower (so I don't know how long it will be up; sorry if it's gone by the time you read this). The kittens were born on Eurovision night. How cool is that?

I teared up about 2.5 seconds into the next video - see if you can do better . . .

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Dismemberment of Jean d Arc

Anish Kapoor has wonderful work on display in Brighton at the moment.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Live Tweeting the Eurovision Finals 2009


efan78 Is it bad that I feel like an excited kid on Christmas Eve every #Eurovision final day?

owenblacker If you're looking to avoid #Eurovision, you'll prolly want to unsub from me overnight tonight (paging @Beardy)
Beardy Closing Twitter for the night. Everyone's talking about Eurovision and I'm just not gay enough to give a shit

petshopboys Gay rights rally in Moscow has been brutally broken up by police while an anti-gay demo has gone ahead. Enjoy Eurovision!

zefrog@edwardclarke what time does the madness start? ie when do I need to step away from Twitter to avoid being flooded with Eurovision rubbish?
edwardclarke@zefrog In a few minutes - at 8. Not to worry, Twitter will collapse shortly thereafter!
zefrog Is logging off to avoid Eurovision madness on Twitter (though the thing is apparently scheduled to collapse under the number of tweets) #fb

Wossy #eurovision It's a bit like being on a cruise without the benefit of arriving anywhere at the end of the show.

davidschneider My family actually want me to talk to them rather than tweet. They're so last year #twumpet

ewanspence: 3 minutes to #eurovision 7 minutes to Failwhale #twumpet

Overture & Dima Bilan

bbceurovision WAHEY! And we're HERE! Happy #eurovision Final, everyone! - Paul
ewanspence And here we go, it's "Dima Bilans Saturday Night Takeaway!"
redmummy Sort of a young Depardieu with wires & now demolition - and very, very poor lip syching.@thoroughlygood You concentrating? #eurovision
efan78: Yay! Dima Bilan's face smashed into a wall!!
edwardclarke Will Dima take his shirt off? #Eurovision
owenblacker @ewanspence It must be said, I'm quite upset that he's removed lots of clothes but is still overdressed… #eurovision
owenblacker So busy admiring how pretty Dima is that I nearly forgot to unpause @ewanspence’s commentary :o$ #esc09
roughcognisance LOL @ Dima fucking up with his jacket, the Russian director must be shitting himself! MY PERFECT PRESENTATION RUINED, SHOOT THE BOY!!
valsadie: #Eurovision "Believe" song's not the same without that little ice skater dude... LOL!


edwardclarke Sensitive pouty Lithuanian lad. I think most "sophisticated" song of the evening (bar France) #Eurovision
roughcognisance Lithuania looks bald under that hat, and the song is ... bad. Really bad. Wow. #eurovision #twumpet
redmummy LITHUANIA Oh God he's spontaneously combusting. End of ....#eurovision
Wossy If the fire had come out of his arse I might have been impressed.


bletherer: This is the second time I can remember Israel has sent an apparently unironic 'peace' song ... and WTF is that dress? esc
Wossy #eurovision one of my dogs farted during the israel entry. Very apt.


bbceurovision First of the big hitters up next - Patricia Kaas from France. She's sold MILLIONS of albums right across Europe... - Paul
thoroughlygood Is Patricia's dress "under construction" ? #eurovision
edwardclarke: OMG Eye makeup!
ScoobyDoofus: This French bird looks like she's come straight here from the club she went to last night... #Eurovision
thoroughlygood Patricia is ONE SCARY LOOKING WOMAN #eurovision
edwardclarke@thoroughlygood bunny boiler, definitely!
efan78 Shouldn't Glenn Close be rehearsing for #Damages? #Eurovision Whoo! A dance at the end!


efan78 YAY SWEDEN - Remember campers, this is the one - pleeeease! #Eurovision
efan78 Although she does seem to have transplanted Madonna's Arms #Eurovision
thoroughlygood Our Guest says that Malena could ever so slightly look like a post-op transexual. I'm saying nothing. #eurovision
Wossy #eurovision The swedish entry does look rather as if she has a past in adult movies. And perhaps a future judging from the yodelling.
owenblacker Upping my outfits score on the strength of those masks #esc09
efan78 Psst! Swedish Backing group - lend one of those Phantom masks to Lord L-W please? #Eurovision
bletherer My god, it’s Ulrikakaka Goes Trance! #Eurovision
redmummy SWEDEN Is ANYONE counting the number of dead ostriches that have been used in this 'ere competition. Someone call RSPCA please #eurovision
bletherer I quite like Swedish Opera Trance, although it sounds like it could be a British Airways commercial #Eurovision


bletherer Croatia with tonight’s first Zorba the Greek entry. The first of many, one hopes #Eurovision
thoroughlygood It’s that smoldering looking bloke in his Doc Martens again. What a little crooner. #eurovision
ScoobyDoofus Mr Croatia looks a bit simple, bless him. #Eurovision


bletherer Our verdict on Portugal - quite impressed. I have clearly misjudged the fat chick and accordion combo and I apologise #Eurovision


ScoobyDoofus I didn’t know Melinda Messenger was from Iceland... #Eurovision
r_mackinnon Thanks be to jeebus for some music. Thanks, Iceland. You’ll get some votes for that. And the lesbian PM #eurovision
redmummy #eurovision Iceland Mediocrity reaches new heights
helenrf Iceland for me :) but NOT the dress! #eurovision
bbceurovision There seems to be a bit of a ‘toilet-roll holder’ theme with the frocks in this year’s #eurovision... -Paul


ewanspence Its Greece next. Sakis Rova can jump higher than any other man on the planet, and has an amazing sun-tan bed on stage #eurovision #twumpet
efan78 Has he opened more buttons on his shirt for the final? Will it work? Do we care so long as it's man-totty?
bletherer Greece is pretty epic. Is trance making a comeback or something? I think their singer may have waxed his chest #Eurovision
redmummy GREECE Ah, yes - the light box fandango. What do you reckon the lycra content of his trouser is? They haven't split ... yet. #eurovision
Wossy #eurovision He is like a nightmare Ibizan sex pest.
Simonique: Love Greece!!! Like being in Heaven off your face at 3 In the morning! #eurovision
thoroughlygood You tacky tacky queen Sakis. #eurovision
ScoobyDoofus Greece's entry is gayer than Scooch, and that's saying something. #Eurovision
valsadie #eurovision (rendered speechless by Greece in convulsive laughter!)


bbceurovision Yes, it’s the Brides of Dracula! I love ‘em! :D
Wossy #eurovision I am going to move to Armenia.
Wossy #eurovision dem is some fine, hot, mediaeval bitches right there.
thoroughlygood Ladies and Gentlemen . . the best song of the night is from Armenia. Hurrah #eurovision


Wossy #eurovision I am with Peter Tatchell. Figuratively. Go on Graham, say it ! They are backward fascists. Dumb ass russians.
owenblacker Ooh, was that slightly controversial, Graham commenting on this morning's gay pride stuff in Moscow? #esc09
owenblacker@edwardclarke Twas a comment about "heavy handed policing being something that's marred this year's #Eurovision" or words to that effect


ewanspence And now, the hosts Russia will attempt to sing “My Lovely Horse” and not have to spend 36 million Euros in 2010 #eurovision #twumpet
ScoobyDoofus Is the Russian singer wearing a towel? #Eurovision
thoroughlygood Russian girl seems to be wearing a shower curtain #eurovision


ScoobyDoofus: Ooh the hair thieves! They come in the night. STEAL your hair, they do, and sell it into slavery, in Azerbaijan.
bletherer: I think their backing singers might be fellers. Cracking!

Bosnia & Herzegovina

ewanspence Bosnia next - if coldplay ever did eurovision, it would look like this, right down to the Ridley Scott Hero Pose (tm) #eurovision #twumpet
thoroughlygood OK .. I’m off to the kitchen to get the Vietnamese Prawn Rolls whilst the cast of Les Mis do their song for Bosnia & Herzogovina #eurovision
Simonique #eurovision love a bit of drama school ‘movements’ re: Bosnia.


edwardclarke Moldova: *escapes to kitchen for a refill* #Eurovision
Wossy #eurovision a strapping lass. Let’s hope she milks a cow for the finale.


edwardclarke "She never met a malteser she didn't like " Haha best comment yet Graham #Eurovision
Wossy #eurovision Malta has set one of the dogs into a weird frenzy. he either loves her or hates her. Too soon to tell.
ScoobyDoofus I think the Malteser just took a bite out of the microphone... #Eurovision
roughcognizance Does Chiara have a license for those boobs? #eurovision


ewanspence Estonia next, very much a classical piece, making full use of the 200m2 of LED screens... to hide behind #eurovision #twumpet
ScoobyDoofus Seriously, did the Estonian girl actually use the fiddle at any point? #Eurovision
edwardclarke OK Minus points for gratuitous use of violin. #Eurovision


edwardclarke Faux Boyzone now #Eurovision
edwardclarke He's relatively easy on the eyes though
thoroughlygood Brinck from Denmark. Top or Bottom? #eurovision
efan78: Tonight Matthew, I'm going to be... Ronan Keating with a Speech impediment #Eurovision
bletherer Ronan Keating wrote Denmark's entry, and the singer has taken it on himself to sing it in the style of a talentless Irish nit #Eurovision
ScoobyDoofus I thought they said Ronan wrote it, not that he was SINGING it... #Eurovision
bbceurovision So should the UK get Ronan to write one for us next year?
edwardclarke@bbceurovision NNOOOOO! #Eurovision
bletherer: Actually, this could have charted.... in 1997 #Eurovision
owenblacker As my wife put it: If Ronan Keating had never existed, this would be quite good #esc09


owenblacker Really do love Ditta von Teese's outfit; shame they won'let her wear it properly: http://is.gd/Aq2F #esc09
edwardclarke I'm dying to see Dita :-) #Eurovision
roughcognizance OH MY GOD TROUSERS MY EYE MY EYES. Though Dita Von Teese is supposed to appear during this, should be fun. #eurovision
edwardclarke I actually like his sparkly trousers! #Eurovision
Wossy #eurovision Germany have the best clothes. Love dem trousers
davidschneider Love the tight mirrorball trousers. And he's definitely not Jewish #trumpet
Wossy #eurovision anyone know where Dita Von T stores her internal organs ?
owenblacker That is a different top she's wearing isn't it? #esc09
edwardclarke@owenblacker Yep, it is! How come that one made it past the costume police? #Eurovision
Wossy #eurovision Germany !!! This is what John Barrowman dreams of after a cheese feast.
thoroughlygood: Are his trousers "day wear" @redmummy?
bletherer Dig the lead singer’s sparkling leggings ... in an alternative universe where I have no shame #Eurovision
Simonique #eurovision definition of irony = German poof singing about Miss Kiss Kiss Bang. You're mum knows you're gay!!! Disco ball trousers!!
ScoobyDoofus His shiny trousers are a crime against humanity. #Eurovision


efan78 Hmm, Middle eastern sound, drums, short sharp vocal sounds - must be Turkey (Again!) #Eurovision
Wossy #eurovision What are the Turkish ladies wearing round their ankles? Are they electronically tagged to make sure they return?
bletherer Shakira met a package holiday to Izmir down a back alley and clearly this is the result #eurovision


bbceurovision Are we all loving the blue sparkly gimp?
ewanspence Nightmare time, as the Green Gimp and two Derek Zoolander midgets join Kejsi Tola on stage for Albania #eurovision #twumpet
Wossy #eurovision If you know you're performing on a big stage why hire such small dancers ?
bletherer Albania have kidnapped Geri Halliwell and forced her to become the Blue Man Group's ginger love slave #Eurovision
Wossy #eurovision Albania. This is just wrong. Surely. Didn't anyone else enter in Albania ?
davidschneider If this were a dream I had I would make sure I never slept again #twumpet
bbceurovision Or is the blue-green man a little happy dancing condom?


Simonique #eurovision Norway - men humping the stage, always good.
owenblacker A *girl* you knew, Alexander? Really? #esc09
bbceurovision Have Norway fiddled the vote? Fiddle? Get it?


bbceurovision Another of my favourites now - UKRAINE with Svetlana and the cast of the movie "300"...
edwardclarke Svetlana is such a trouper! #Eurovision
Wossy #eurovision Ukraine have given me a headace. Her groin/ hip area is over-active.
redmummy UKRAINE Anti-crisis bomb? Oh yes, this is the best case for nuclear weapons I've heard for years! Where's the red button?
thoroughlygood My mother just called. She wants to call the BBC to complain about Ukraine. #eurovision
ScoobyDoofus Wish the cameraman would actually focus on those Ukranian dancers... #Eurovision
owenblacker Ah yes, I do remember liking the Ukranian dancers before ;o)
edwardclarke Have those centurions stripped, washed and taken to my tent! #Eurovision
roughcognizance@edwardclarke Why would you want them washed? #eurovision
davidschneider Those wheels! This is like porn for hamsters #twumpet #eurovision
efan78 So, is this SPARTAAAAA!!!? anyone? Although if there were ever a pair of f-me boots - they'd be the ones. #Eurovision
style_therapy Of course she plays drums. Of course. Ukraine might get my Eurovision vote for sheer WTF factor...
Simonique #eurovision Ukraine - might as well be in Chariots. Camp camp camp!!!
davidschneider My sexuality is all over the place now. I'm off to join the Roman army


bletherer I went to Romania once to visit the offices of Hewlett-Packard. Based on what I saw, this song does not surprise me #eurovision
kvinnesland #eurovision Romania is better with the sound off. Likk no body, likk no body.. What?


bbceurovision IT'S OUR TIME! Jade is on next...
Wossy #eurovision Please god let Andrew LW be dressed as the phantom or a cat.
ewanspence Andrew Lloyd Webber is not dressed as The Phantom (Of the Opera). Missed chance there I think. #eurovision #twumpet
thoroughlygood What a fantastically sober coloured shirt the Lord is wearing
efan78 DON'T LOOK AT THE CAMERA ANDREW, for the love of 'God, just don't! #Eurovision
edwardclarke@efan78 Why? Do you think he might break it? #Eurovision
efan78@edwardclarke No, but every look is 5 million voters lost from fear ;-P
owenblacker Hur. From Thingbox: "What's that behind Lord L-Webber? Oh yeah, his career." Hur. #esc09
style_therapy Ooh, classy outfits on all the UK performers, which is a nice change from last year. And is that ANDREW LLOYD WEBER?
davidschneider OK. We get it. It's your time. #twumpet
davidschneider Well, at least we've got the best-looking pianist #twumpet #eurovision
kvinnesland #eurovision UK has entered the wrong contest. Beautiful song, but do they expect to win without a stupid show and silly pants?
roughcognizance Technically brilliant, moving and emotional. Still not convinced it's #Eurovision material though.
style_therapy The UK putting in a halfway decent showing at Eurovision? That's just not on. I feel kind of cheated.


Wossy #eurovision Finland have lost the plot. They should have phoned each other to co-ordinate outfits. Sir Ben Kingsley raps. Who knew ?
Simonique #eurovision did Finland not get the memo? It's not 1999 anymore!!!
davidschneider Finland has the highest rate of suicides in the world. That's all I'm saying. #twumpet #eurovision


Kogenre Spain: The set designer overdosed on purple. Waaayyy tooo much.
edwardclarke Oh Soraya isn't wearing that gorgeous white dress - this is quite tarty. #Eurovision
ScoobyDoofus Is that Duncan from Blue dancing for Spain?
edwardclarke@ScoobyDoofus the boy dancers are way too overdressed! #Eurovision
ScoobyDoofus@edwardclarke Maybe they should have borrowed the centurion costumes from Ukraine...
edwardclarke@ScoobyDoofus I actually would have preferred those with slightly fewer encumbrances, also! :-) #Eurovision

Voting, Interval and Scoring

ewanspence Thats your 25 of the night! Who gets your vote? Time to open the voting by leaving Europe and going to a SPACE STATION!
bbceurovision Space. the Final Frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Eurovision...

edwardclarke Ok, will the rest of evening be ruined??? Tension mounts! #Eurovision Time for tea.

ScoobyDoofus Hmmm. I think I want Finland to win, followed by the Ukranian dancers. And third choice is Portugal. #Eurovision
davidschneider Well, it's Armenia for me. Best Eurovalue: UberGreek, the Moldovan Space Invader dancers and the revolving Albanian dwarves

ewanspence Interval act demands the phrase "can I have what theyre having?" Pity the Olimpisky stadium is (allegedly) alcohol free #eurovision #twumpe
ewanspence Nothing like some watersports at Eurovision <fx:ducks> #eurovsion #twumpet
Wossy#eurovision let Lord Lloyd Weber have a swim in the puddle. Please. But watch out - if he gets wet he turns into a gremlin.

Wossy #eurovision please don't turn the lights on over the audience. Like being in a euro night club at chucking out time.

edwardclarke Pleasepleasepleasepleaseplease can UK has some votes at least, this year??! #Eurovision
thoroughlygood I think we'll know after the first two countries have cast their votes how the UK has done. #eurovision
ewanspence: Spain vote 8 for POrtugal (cough), 10 for UK (yaay, that;'s promising) and 12 to Norway. #eurovision #twumpet
thoroughlygood HURRAH for Spain!
edwardclarke Spain I love you!
ScoobyDoofus@edwardclarke I think we've peaked...

. . .

efan78 Ah bejesus! 10 points from the Oirish! May all your rainbows have leprechauns! #Eurovision

. . .

DavidBrain #eurovision Wow Iceland have more Eurovision points than money

. . .

ScoobyDoofus So, we just need 190 points from the next two votes, and we've won!


zefrog Is it over yet? #eurovision
thoroughlygood So we're in the top five. Alright then. Yes. I can face Monday. Life can continue. UK team should be pleased - even if I was over-optimistic
davidschneider It's not the winning that counts. It's the coming fifth #twumpet #eurovision
bbceurovision I'm frankly amazed that Ukraine hasn't done any better. Think of poor Svetlana and her mortgaged flat!

thoroughlygood Has Dima Bilan had a stroke since the beginning of the programme? #eurovision
plastic_snowman@thoroughlygood he's still recovering from running through those walls

owenblacker RT @CllrTim: Who would have thought, after this week, a bloke on the fiddle could be so popular. #twumpet #eurovision
davidschneider: The Norwegian boy might lose his virginity tonight. The Albanian dwarves have their eyes on him

roughcognizance Norway was just so. fucking. shit. It's like the poetry a 15 year old geek writes for his GCSE English course. #eurovision
roughcognizance And in non-Eurovision news, I have a cookie. Nom nom.

efan78 RT @J0rdanhunt i went shopping today! im so happy and i just watched the Eurovision dong contest with my mom, havnt seen her in like a month
efan78 Am I the only person scared of the #Eurovision Dong contest? ;-P
edwardclarke@efan78 Now we’re talking!
efan78@edwardclarke Actually, we could get all the stoners together and hold the #Eurovision Bong Contest
bbceurovision What a fantastic night, I thought. One of my fave #eurovision finals ever. Lovely to be in with a chance for once! Roll on 2010!
redmummy I really do NOT like that Norwegian kid's face. I'm not watching next year. End of. (I say that every year). #eurovision - See you next year
thoroughlygood #Eurovision is all over now. Thank God for that. http://bit.ly/eBP1N


juli_e bbc news seems to have misinterpreted the new voting system as a voting system guaranteed to give the UK a win #twumpet

GrahamNorton Well everyone we didn’t win! Remind me to strike Norway off as a holiday destination, unless I’m wearing ear plugs! Only joking of course! x

style_therapy@Richaod Any time! I don't know how I ever did Eurovision without Twitter.

More Tweets:
Eurovision 2009 Semi Finals 1
Eurovision 2009 Semi Finals 2

and it's Norway

Well, we all called this one a long time ago, and the fairytale duly came true for Alexander Rybak last night in Moscow. Next year in Oslo, then.

Alexander's performance was perfectly pitched between spontaneous charm and well-drilled technique. I've never liked his song but clearly millions and millions of European voters did.

I am very relieved Jade and our Lord did well - I think putting Andrew Lloyd Webber on stage was emotionally blackmailing the Europeans a bit; we were rather daring them to give us nul points. Luckily they rose to our bait and Jade's flawless performance of - let's face it - one of Andrew Lloyd Webber's off-cuts scored in the top five. Our national prestige is saved. France also did relatively well; but I feel sorry for Germany (and even Spain) who deserved a little better than they got.

I'm very pleased with Azerbaijan's, Turkey's, and Iceland's placings. Poor dear Sakis from Greece has humiliatingly learned his hunk status is now definitively in the past tense; Svetlana from Ukraine too has had her maximalist "more is never enough" recycled old-school Xtina shtick kicked into touch by the Euro yoof. Even though I loved Svetlana's hatchet-faced old trouper efficiency: her back-up dancers were my consolation for having to bid a tearful farewell to Hungary's Zoli Adok, who did not gain a place in the final.

Sequinned Roman Centurion costumes cut to expose maximum well-toned masculine flesh have to score a new high (or low) in Eurovision camp. Bless you, Svetlana.

Lots of excellent tweeting happening tonight - everyone was on great form; some suggested twitter was more fun than Graham Norton's BBC commentary. I thought Graham did great, although I miss the scary random risks Terry Wogan took so fearlessly. Strange to think that Graham Norton of all people should feel so safe by comparison.

I'll collate my favourite tweets tomorrow to complete the set for Eurovision 2009. In the meantime, goodnight and sweet dreams. The Eurovision Song Contest for 2009 is now over.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Eurovision tweets round 2

Well, tonight is the big night. I’m feeling increasingly nervous for us: with the effort the UK has made this year the stakes do seem higher; and the voting does seem to be as political as ever. I really do feel the big four do themselves no favours by insisting on a free ride into the finals; it actually disadvantages our entries.

We shall see. Personally, I will be very happy with a respectable amount of votes. If we’re last again, or near the bottom, it will be a total tragedy and may lead to the UK leaving the competition.

Anyway, here once again are some of my favourite tweets from the second semi-final:

ewanspence Someone in the press room at #eurovision is wearing Brut 66... either that or Sakis has entered the stadium...

edwardclarke Natalia is just so gorgeous. Goodness, legs! Please lose Sergei #eurovision

edwardclarke When I die I want heaven to look like that stadium #eurovision

thoroughlygood I want to punch Alexander Rybak. #eurovision
edwardclarke Norway. Oh well. #eurovision
plastic_snowman Yay! Norway! #eurovision

thoroughlygood I don't like this from Slovakia. Sorry Slovakia. There's quite a lot of screaming. #eurovision
edwardclarke Audience looked stunned!!!! ha ha. Sorry and goodbye, Slovakia #eurovision

thoroughlygood Slovenia's song is quite possibly the most bizarre act in this year's #eurovision When will she start singing?
plastic_snowman When are Slovenia going to actually SING? #eurovision
edwardclarke Now, I've always thought they keep the singer in silhouette too long. I suppose the entro is *very* long #eurovision
thoroughlygood She's a screamer. #eurovision
edwardclarke Yikes! Earplugs to ready! #eurovision

thoroughlygood I work with someone who may well have had an intimate association with the present singer's current boyfriend.
edwardclarke@thoroughlygood My future husband!!

edwardclarke Here comes Ukraine - phoar! #eurovision
edwardclarke They're messing with my hormones!

thoroughlygood Loving you Estonia. Loving you. Well done you. You can go through. No question. No question at all. Bless yer. #eurovision
edwardclarke I like Estonia! #eurovision
thoroughlygood@edwardclarke Me too. She's a smasher isn't she. A smasher

ewanspence The Toppers - the reason why Europe does not have a sequin mountain #eurovision #twumpet #led
thoroughlygood This is the Dutch's Scooch moment. Forgive them Europe. I have even though it pains me to do so. #eurovision
plastic_snowman Words fail me. And I *live* in Holland. #eurovision
efan78: Shine's just great, Imagine your dad, dancing dressed in a disco ball, singing a Scooch song in style of Bee Gees! #Eurovision

thoroughlygood Thank God Mr Norton is doing this.... I am so looking forward to Saturday #eurovision

edwardclarke People of Europe: Please try to see past Hungary's costumes! #eurovision
plastic_snowman@edwardclarke Hungary's costumes is part of their charm.

zefrog is being a bad #gay (yet again). He is NOT watching #Eurovision #fb
edwardclarke@zefrog You're watching our tweets, though, hopefully? #theBNParetwats!!!! #eurovision

ewanspence Lines are closed now - and while they're being counted you have the delights of our hairspray hosts from Russia
thoroughlygood Cant that woman actually stand up on her own #eurovision?
edwardclarke@thoroughlygood - his horrible hands are giving me nightmares!
RedMummy Oh heck, the magic button again. Another opportunity for the Poison Dwarf to grope Cinderella. #eurovision
edwardclarke I hope Natalia is getting danger money for having to stand so close to Sergei. #eurovision

plastic_snowman No Russian Army thing? Aww. #eurovision

jhnolan Norway got my vote. It's a gesture of support for the ref in the Chelsea - Barca game as much as anything! #eurovision
thoroughlygood <sarcasm>What a surprise. Norway has gone through.</sarcasm>

edwardclarke Well done Russia - another fantastic evening! #eurovision See you on Saturday for Norway's coronation.

More Tweets:
Eurovision 2009 Semi Finals 1
Eurovision 2009 Finals

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Russian Constructivism

Rodchenko and Popova: Defining Constructivism is on at Tate Modern until the 17th May. I have been twice but it’s been a challenge to review.

Constructivism’s tragedy was that the artists subsumed themselves totally in the bright hopeful dawn of the Russian Revolution - truly, they believed and strived for a better world for all, and their efforts were betrayed by Lenin and Stalin in favour of the aesthetic death of Soviet Realism. And Constructivism was then harshly suppressed. Artworks and artists were smuggled out to the west or hidden, or destroyed by Soviet apparatchiks.

However, like many revolutionaries the Constructivists lacked a sense of humour. Satire or playful social comment was beyond them; also, they consciously disowned as bourgeois the romantic notion of the artist as a revealer of deeper truths about the human condition. Instead, they explored industrial and theatrical design in the service of the Revolution.

Ironically, in that respect, they were pretty on message with Soviet Realism; they just expressed it in a thoroughly avant-garde style.

And their style has been profoundly influential - for example, London Underground’s fabric patterns are indebted to Constructivist examples. Also, contemporary typography and graphic design is built on Constructivist ideas.

The Tate has some excellent Constructivist theatrical set models. Exciting, as the magnificent stage in the Moscow 2009 Eurovision Song Contest, designed by the American John Casey, was based around the theme of the Russian avant-garde. (Ha! Bet you didn’t see where this was heading, did you?)

He explained that "even before [he] worked with the Russians on the TEFI Awards in Moscow in 1998, [he] was inspired by and drawn to art from the Russian Avant Garde period, especially the constructivists... [He] tried to come up with a theatrical design for the contest that incorporates Russian avant-garde art into a contemporary setting, almost entirely made up of different types of LED screens." Casey explained that together, the various LED shapes which together form the finished product. Furthermore, large sections of the stage have the ability to move, including the circular central portion of curved LED screens which can be moved to effect and allows for each song to have a different feel.”

It’s great seeing Russia re-engage with its fantastic artistic heritage. I’m sure those pioneers would be gobsmacked by the magnificence of the set, if bemused and even appalled by its ideology.

The above two photos come from Ola Melzig's indispensable behind the scenes blog, Eurovisiondiary

live tweets from eurovision round 1

Good fun was had by all live tweeting the first round of the Eurovision Song Contest - here are some of my favourite tweets from last night:

miketd It's my time. It's my time. My moah-ment. I'm not gonna let go of it.

miketd No, I *shan't* be live-tweeting tonight's Eurovision semi-final. Please relax and enjoy your evenings.

thoroughlygood Oh .. sweet .. jesus ... #eurovision

owenblacker Happy 23rd birthday Alexander Rybak! *dribble* #esc

thoroughlygood OK .. I'm off to the kitchen to get the souffle ... I'm not keen on the Czech Republic's bloke in a cloak thing

slayton1991 get out of my life- montenegro..must admit im kinda loving it!!! just get outa my outa my outa my head!!

edwardclarke: Loving the set! #eurovision
zefrog@edwardclarke yeah but #theBNParetwats
zefrog aarrgh #theBNParetwats getting beaten by #eurovision !

thoroughlygood Loving Malena's dress. Loving it love. And adoring the low-key movements from the backing singers. Not quite so keen on the song. #eurov ...

edwardclarke: SOUND!!! For f****'s sake this is supposed to be #eurovision - excuse me while I plug in speakers . . .
j1s@edwardclarke what a nightmare if it actually is the music that sounds like that.

thoroughlygood I needn't have rushed in the bathroom. #eurovision

thoroughlygood Sweetest song sung by a little smasher. Thank you Portugal. You are allowed to pass through to the final (fingers crossed) #eurovision
edwardclarke: Is it bad of me to like this song? It's cute. #eurovision
slayton1991 Portugal for the win!!! #eurovision

thoroughlygood She's like a soothing bath, isn't she that Icelandic lady? But whats the dophin for ? #eurovision
edwardclarke Nice one, Iceland! #eurovision
slayton1991 Thanks God Iceland got thru!! wuda been a travesty!!

diamondgeezer *How* long is Eurovision this year? I remember when it was all over within a single bottle of wine.

thoroughlygood What are the people with the really big flags doing in the middle of the auditorium thing?
edwardclarke: Hmmm . . do you think there are Mossad plants in the audience, with flags? #eurovision

slayton1991 ah tatu!!!!!! love them. theyre not eben lesbians tho! how disappointing

owenblacker Good Lord. Have Tatu been at the borscht? #esc

Well done tweeples! See you all on Thursday for round 2.

[EDIT] Apologies - internet skills fail on first attempt, am reposting this manually now with style issues fixed.

More Tweets:
Eurovision 2009 Semi Finals 2
Eurovision 2009 Finals

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Jade's got back up!

Every good Eurovision artist needs a reliable understudy.

The very charming Jon Jacobs of Thoroughly Good steps up to the mark:


in which I (partially) eat my words

Jade has had her first rehearsal in Moscow - the video is up on the Eurovision.tv website

Have to say, even in rehearsal, it works well on stage. Also, it's very clear Jade Ewen has one of the best voices (if not the best) of the entire competition. Still not a fan of Andrew Lloyd Webber's song, BUT it also works in the stadium format and the whole thing is helped by pretty classy production - the lighting design is great. Yeah, it is true we're going with a smoke machine and violins on stage (definitely this year's cliche). Nevertheless, I was quite surprised how positively I responded to this. Yikes! Mustn't become too invested in this!

*crossed fingers for Jade*

In other developments, a crazed costume designer ruins Zoli's chances. Boo. :-(

Zoli terms the costumes "a surprise". No shit Sherlock! - not a good one either!

Calling Zoli Ádok: It's not too late mate! The trackies/t-shirt look in the first rehearsal was HAWT! And you can't be that cruel to the girls. OMG! - Please put them out of their misery! Even dancing in their underwear would be better than this.

Tita: "Hello! I am one of the dancers!" Bless!

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Eurovision is coming!

The final is on the 16th - Yay! All very exciting. One of the ironies is that while the ESC is the gayest event on the planet, the largely homophobic Eastern Europeans take it very seriously as a matter of macho national pride. Moscow especially is a very gay-intolerant city, and local activists have scheduled their pride event to run concurrently with the ESC. I'm feeling this could all end in tears. I hope the Russian authorities are mature about this.

Competitiion-wise, Hungary's Zoli Ádok's first rehearsal is worth watching. Zoli gets my douze points for his dance routine alone.

His official video has better sound, but I reckon his live routine is much better than the video. Keep that shirt off, Zoli.

Ok so who else? Sweden always seems to do a power-diva dinosaur-disco made-for-ESC number - this year's no different. Malena Ernman: Camp attack! The Swedish committee is definitely stuck in a bit of a rut. Nice dress, looks like they've left the wind machine behind this year though. Like the UK, Sweden actually has fantastic pop credibility which doesn't seem to exend as far as the ESC.

The favourites at this stage appear to be Norway's Alexander Ryback and Turkey's Hadise.

Norway's song is rubbish but Alexander is alarmingly cute and a good performer - he may just wing it on personal charm. It's funny how many of the acts this year have picked up on the violin action in 2008's winner Dima Bilan's performance. People: lightning doesn't strike in the same way twice! (However, Alex's cuteness is definitely more of a threat, AND he plays his own violin.)

Turkey's entry is attempting to buck the homoerotic tide with Hadise's sexy routine. She's undeniably gorgeous, and the song is fun, cute and utterly harmless. I hope she does well.

Finland's entry Lose Control by Waldo's People is pretty good too.

And us? What about the UK? Sadly, I just can't find the patriotism to get behind Andrew Lloyd Webber's terribly dreary dirge "It's My Time". When Lloyd Webber is bad he is truly awful. Poor Jade Ewen, a lovely girl and a good singer, tries her best to carry this crud but the task is simply impossible.

Props to the UK for trying a different approach, and Andrew Lloyd Webber has magnificent balls to put himself at such risk of embarrassing failure - especially in a contest as corrupt and political as ESC. I don't like the way he gracelessly dissed our previous entries: he's definitely riding for a fall.

Let's face it, when you look at the crap that wins we're at the bottom due to political factors:

1) It is very clear Europeans like voting for their neighbours regardless of the song's quality;

2) Europe has not forgiven us for Iraq;

3) The UK's music scene is the best in the world. It's obvious people will want to take us down a peg or two;

4) The four countries which pay for Eurovision get into the finals automatically. To ordinary voters in other European countries which have to compete at all levels, this must look unfair and therefore they vote against us: none of the big four do well, ever.

5) The vast majority of UK music acts prefer not to run the risk of looking bad, so we tend to send second-tier stuff and worse, stuff that we think will do well in Eurovision.

6) None of this really matters; win or lose the UK is only here for the laughs anyway. The Europeans can sense that and don't like being laughed at! - and vote accordingly. Terry Wogan, although utterly brilliant, really dragged us down voting-wise. It was probably worth it, though.

I don't think the ESC plan to bring back jury voting will work: it didn't before, so why now?

A total rethink of the entire competition is in order. I think we should run the competition like the Football: countries go into a draw for various groups; each group then has its own winner (perhaps voted by countries outside of that group), with the group winners going forward to the finals, voted by everyone. That should help disrupt political voting at least. We can but dream.

"Isn't Eurovision about like dancing turkeys and transexuals dressed as pirates?"
- Youtube commenter

[EDIT] Update - just noticed (14/5/09) a spelling error - Alexander's name is spelled "Alexander Rybak" - I'm leaving it uncorrected above because I'm getting hits on the misspelling! Mustn't miss those!

[EDIT] BBC CHARTBLOG: "OMG you will not believe this, right, but according to a TV show I watched over the weekend, 'Fairytale' is officially the best song in the whole of Europe."

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

fuck you

Lily Allen's song has been drafted into the USA's culture wars - this rather brilliant, joyous and liberating fan video has been popping up all over. Very well done, very good (Warning: about every second word in the song is 'fuck'):

Maybe Lily should adopt this as her official video? - Crowd-sourcing pop videos! How radical!