31-Day Challenge: Day 9

I just popped onto social media for a moment to see what new catastrophe has erupted in the world (stop it, U.S.), when I saw the first Eurovision hashtags appear. Oh, glorious day!

BV and I are fully planning on tucking in here on Saturday night to have our own watch party, which we mentioned to the Villagers when they were here last weekend. Though VillageGal is German and is all-too-familiar with the absurdity of the Eurovision Song Contest, VillageGuy had no clue what we were talking about.

I’ll give him a bit of a pass for being an American, but he’s been in Europe for about 10 years, if not more. Given his job, he’s surrounded by Americans 95% of the time though, so I guess that environment insulates him a bit more than someone in my circumstances, for instance. Add to that the fact that they, like us, don’t have satellite or cable, and that doesn’t lend itself to too much time in front of the tube. We tried to fill him in on the appeal of the kitschy glory, but he didn’t seem too convinced. If all of us hadn’t already had full weekends booked, I think we could’ve gotten them up here again, but perhaps we can convince them to join our watch party next year.

While I haven’t indulged in the glory of Eurovision every year since moving to Europe, I do vividly remember the first time it came up.

Marit, a gorgeous, dread-locked, Swedish med student had begun dating one of the gents from our TEFL course when we were all still getting ourselves settled in Prague. A group of us were out one night and she was excitedly outlining plans that she and some of the other foreigners at Charles University had begun making for a Eurovision party.

Cue confused looks from the Americans in the group.

What the heck is Eurovision?

She and some of the other Europeans tried to explain it to us in terms that we Americans could understand, namely “reality show” type singing competitions… American Idol or whatever else was on TV circa 2009. But Eurovision is nothing like that, in my opinion. Eurovision is like a bunch of countries got really drunk, were given keys to every costume department on Broadway (or at a circus), and then paid a laser light show/pyrotechnic enthusiast to just go crazy all over the stage behind them. It’s sheer madness.

Add to that a fair amount of political jockeying and countries that are literally thousands and thousands of kilometers removed from Europe being thrown into the mix (hello, Australians!), and it’s full-on insanity. Semifinals are going on all this week but BV and I are saving the glory for the big finale. On the final evening of the contest (this Saturday, get your drinks ready), the top acts will perform again, and then reports come in from all the voting countries to determine the winner.

Is it weird? Yes. Is it kitschy as f*ck? Yes. Does it feed into BS stereotypes? Yeeeep. Is it completely worth watching? YES.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go wash some dishes, including our light-up plastic ones from Las Vegas, which are completely Eurovision appropriate. Lasers!


Editor’s Note: This is part of a 31-day challenge series for the month of May, in which I aim to spend at least 15 minutes writing about whatever strikes my fancy. Results may vary.

Sunday Snapshots: Bardentreffen Alert!

Nürnberg, 2011

Nürnberg, 2011

Bardentreffen is one of the biggest events of the year in Nürnberg, but somehow I have only been there once, and that was in the first year I lived here. Whoops. It seems to go one of two ways, 1) either the weather is crap and you spend all day wet or 2) the weather is great and the city is more packed than a sardine can.

On the plus side there is a ridiculous amount of music, as performers set themselves up on every available open spot, and many of them are as good (or maybe better) than the officially advertised acts. Not to mention that there is food and drink available at every turn, so if you are a fan of drinking tasty things on the street and listening to kids play box drums, you are in luck! It’s from the 29th to 31st of July this year, and you’ve still got time to check it out.

Bardentreffen Official Website

Weird and Wacky Wednesday Vol. 3

Wednesday mornings for me are a strict routine. My train leaves at 6:01. I catch my connecting train at 6:31 in Fürth. At 6:40 I’m in Nürnberg at the main station where I make several stops. (Disclaimer: please no stalking with this information, danke.) First is the bakery, where I pick up something for lunch, and then I hit the Yorma’s to get a smoothie or fruit cup to go with my sandwich. Sometimes I swing through the bookstore to see if there are any good, cheap paperbacks, or a newspaper if I need one for class. My last stop is always the McDonald’s, because my Wednesday does not work without a breakfast of an Egg McMuffin with bacon, and a cappuccino.

This is also usually where I run into irritation, which I deal with, because I require said McMuffin and cappuccino to survive the day. Anyway.

The line at the McDonald’s tends to be backed up, because there’s only one or two people behind the counter and I am not the only one with a McMuffin dependency on Wednesday mornings. Also I seem to encounter an absurd number of people there who are tourists (dragging large suitcases through the line and not speaking German – fairly understandable at a train station McD’s), and less understandingly, are completely flummoxed by the breakfast menu. Being American and having been able to sing the Big Mac jingle at roughly the same age that I could speak at, this boggles my mind.


It’s McDonald’s breakfast.

There is a choice of about four things, on a McMuffin. Hash brown and coffee optional. This is not difficult. And if you can’t make up your mind, kindly move to the side where the homeless guy is napping until you make your decision. Some of us have trains to catch.

So this morning while I was waiting in the single open line for all the people in front of me to decide what they wanted, I was pulled out of my usual headphone-induced trance by the two guys in front of me. They were clad in the city of Nbg worker uniforms, which are a vibrant fluorescent orange and turquoise. But those colors aren’t what got my attention.

Because I had my headphones in, listening to a podcast that doesn’t require me to think too much before class at 8am, I didn’t hear the music that was playing. A few seconds earlier, I had noticed a lot of colors in my peripheral vision, but a quick glance at the TV hanging next to the counter hadn’t caught my interest. Until I saw the guys watching it.

Turning my head again, I looked at the screen. As per usual, they were showing a music video that I’d never seen before. My first thought was,

“Why the hell is Michael Jackson dancing on Sesame Street in a fluorescent pink blazer?”

If you haven’t seen the video… click away.

(Edited to add: okay, this is incredibly annoying. The video shows up when I read the post in the WordPress app, but not on either of our computers. So if you can’t see it either, just Google ‘Mark Ronson, Bruno Mars, Uptown Funk. Or some variation of that. I’m too tired to fight WP on this one right now. Sorry.)

A few tics later and I realized that it was Bruno Mars and not, in fact, Michael Jackson. I pulled out my headphones because I was very curious about what all that retro dancing was about and listened to the song. I quickly concluded that it was nothing that I wanted to hear, and certainly not at 6:50 am, and shoved my earbuds back in. But the guys couldn’t drag themselves away. It may have been the colors… I’m convinced all fast food places turn the color resolution (or whatever) on their TVs up all the way, because the pink jacket practically blinded me this morning, even though it looks fairly reasonable in the above video.

Perhaps the gentlemen were hypnotized by all the pixels, or perhaps they too thought MJ was back from the beyond for one last video. Either way, here are some .gifs that I think sum up their reactions fairly accurately…

First there was a little…

Followed up with a little…

I don’t think they were fans. But, somehow I doubt that middle-aged city of Nbg workers were the target market for Mr. Ronson and Mr. Mars.*

Listening to the song now as I searched for the video, I found it fairly catchy. But again… at 6:50 am? How about broadcasting the sweet sound of nothing? Because that is honestly the only thing I want to hear. I get that it’s the trend now to have techno/electronic/drum and bass/whatever the hell the kids are listening to blasting from every possible public speaker in stores and restaurants now but SHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. Please stop. Especially before 8.


*No offense to Nbg city workers, Mr. Ronson, or Mr. Mars intended.