Mr Brammers is a god who walks the earth and has provided macarons for tonight's Eurovision watching. He went a bit overboard, though, so I am having to exercise restraint, as eating 30 macarons after last night's wine and limoncello consumption will be disastrous for my figure and also for my brain, which still has much writing to accomplish this weekend.
There's an hour until the telecast for semi final 2 begins in Australia (and PLEASE hide the final results if you're posting from Europe later on, as we are a day behind, damn the no live telecast situation!), so a little explanation first.
WHAT IS EUROVISION AND/OR WHY ARE PEOPLE EXCITED ABOUT IT?
* The Eurovision Song Contest is an annual competition in which sees the nations of the European Broadcasting Union (which includes Israel, even though it's not part of Europe) enter a song each to compete with each other in a bid to win the grand prize. Which is, er, winning. Look, it's better than war, and since the contest started in 1956, the number of European wars has gone significantly downhill in both frequency and vehemence. Sure, the number of bad songs has seen a related rise, but it's a price we're willing to pay.
* It's not all crap, the contest has given the world such treasures as Waterloo and Nel blu dipinto di blu, better known as Volare. The first time most of us saw Riverdance was in the interval show in 1994. I should have stopped at two examples, shouldn't I?
* Songs are limited to three minutes or less, and groups are limited to six performers. There are a number of Eurovision Classic Themes: the costume reveal, where an article of clothing turns out to be a prop or a tear-away section; the hero note, where a singer goes for a particularly high or sustained note; the hero pose; which is self-explanatory and not limited to male performers; the sexually suggestive costume or dance move, for which we are all grateful; the Cutural Moment, where something appropriately ethnic is trotted out to remind everyone that this is about Europe (recent hits have ranged from a small embroidery-wearing grandmother with a drum to obscure folk instruments that look painful to play); props, from wind and smoke machines to stilts and images; and finally, earnestness -- huge poignant levels of earnestness.
* It's not cool, but it is hilarious. The UK entry is almost always crap, the Greek entry almost always has a man whose shirt buttons have been lost in a tragic incident and the French entry will be either Unbelievably Earnest, or about sex, sometimes both (this year it appears to be about the World Cup. And sex.) It should be approached with alcohol, a bingo card, and a sense of jollity. In Australia, it is tremendously popular, because Australians love everything daggy, and this would win the Dag Olympics, if ever an Australian could be bothered to organise such a thing.
*Shrieks of "Nil Points!" erupt at particularly bad entries: this is the ultimate Eurovision insult, as points normally range from 1-12 and, given the number of countries voting, it is hard to receive no points at all. I should add that a country cannot vote for its own entry. Often such results are political comments: I seem to recall the UK receiving many nil points for a surprisingly decent entry the year after Blair went into Iraq. A new system begins this year where judges' marks make up half the final total, this is in response to some results that have had more to do with European political and social blocs than with the songs.
And now, on with the commentary ...( It's hard to believe, but these acts all actually want to win. )