Friday, 17 May 2013


Today is the International Day Against Homophobia. An awareness day to celebrate the great variety we humans come in and to communicate that everyone has the right to love and be loved equally.

Eurovision has stirred up some controversy on this front, as Georgia and Greece have reacted negatively at Finland's Krista Siegfrids kissing her female backup singer at the end of the performance. Now, this is a competition where there are no rules when it comes to who people can be - the most obvious example being a trans woman from Israel, Dana International, who won the competition in 1998. That's a decade and a half ago! Attitudes have changed a lot since then, and still being gay is incredibly hard in this world for far too many people, and several westerns countries, that are seemingly very tolerant, are still making a fuss over equal marriage and finding too many excuses not to start amending the marriage law.

The Culture & Arts sector has throughout history attracted a big variety of different people with different interests, personalities and values - one similarity being that they are creative souls and willing to push the boundaries of what is considered acceptable. The Eurovision Song Contest is no exception. Every year we see entrants from all walks of life, and from all cultures (naturally). Some can be obnoxiously camp, others sensibly open-minded, and some plain vanilla, and they are all equal on that stage (let's forget neighbour-favouritism for this). That's what it's about.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Giant moths, stalker girlfriends and rocky horror opera dubstep

So... I was having dinner during the first four performances, so my notes on them aren't quite as extensive as the rest of it. And because I have a 6.30am alarm tomorrow morning again I can't be arsed to google and re-watch just for the sake of writing a better blog post. So there. But overall I can say that this was the real semifinal. Tuesday must've been just a test run, a little warm up.

I don't think there are no ladies who will give you cuter babies.

Latvia. Mirror ball Jedward.

San Marino. Red cult lady.

Macedonia. What the hell happened!?

Azerbaijan. Hey, it's Eric Saade! Finalist.

Finland! YAYY! It's super catchy, I've had the song stuck in my head for a week already. OH-OH OH-OH-OH DING DONG! (And ps. I know the girl who kissed her) Finalist.

Malta. I'd listen to this on a summer picnic! Very much a feelgood tune. Finalist.

Bulgaria. Giant moth headpiece.

Iceland. Hot man. Probably a really lovely song if I understood any of it. Iceland is good at emotional big melodies, anthemic slow songs. Finalist.

In Greece alcohol is free. Making a mental note to add Greece to holiday destinations list. And you get to drink listening to ska. I will have fun on this holiday! They're like less colourful Gogol Bordello. Finalist.

Israel. That's a very tight dress. I wish I knew what she's singing about because some corny lyrics might be able to salvage this from boring.

Eurovision rock from Armenia! The lead man could be Kevin Richardson's (of the Backstreet Boys fame) twin and the band could be Creed. Finalist. (Really now? Who voted?!)

Hungary is quite sweet. The guy looks like a radio DJ. Finalist.

Norway has brought an actually a good song that could stand on its own, not restrained by Eurovision bubble. Finalist.

Albania has lots of men who look metal (by Eurovision standards) but the sounds doesn't live up to their looks. I don't know what this sounds like, it's a bit of folk, bit of Disney, bit of rock, lot of Eurovision. Although they have a fire shooting guitar.

Georgia. Duet ballad. Rather boring. Finalist.

Switz. AWWW of the old guy playing fat bass* he's 95. The song is quite pleasant, if not too 'even' from beginning to end - it doesn't travel at all and gets boring quickly. *I've been informed it's actually called double bass in English but I don't care, I prefer my Finglish fat bass.

Romania. Man in a dress, finally! And lots of sequins! Naked dancers. He's invented a new genre: transvestite-opera-dubstep. I wonder if he's seen the Rocky Horror Picture Show a few too many times.  It kinda sounded like he's actually singing Bon Jovi's It's My Life but deceiving everyone with opera! Finalist. (would be a crime if he wasn't)

I remember doing the time warp

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

In memory of rapping spacemen

It has begun! The annual festival of kitsch. THE EUROVISION SONG CONTEST!

My ramblings while watching the live show tonight. It was the first semi-final and so this is just a quick one. Will write a more thoughtfully (well, technically this is 100% thoughts running through my head, but you get me!)  constructed post about the final on Saturday. It's a damn shame that Montenergo isn't there. Or Serbia.

We're in space. Rapping to dubstep.

Austria. She's The Voice winner. There are a few of those this year (Finland on Thursday!). Quite a tame start. I'm slightly disappointed, this is too normal!

Estonia threw a pregnant lady on stage. The song was nice, if not unlike a million slow songs in this world. She had fog and wind though, like any self-respecting Eurovision entrant should. Finalist.

Oh dear, Eurovision dubstep by Slovenia. With a trio of dancing iron masks. And she's dressed head to toe in club wear leather. Here we go, this is Eurovision! I wonder if dubstep will be this year's fad genre to try at ESC.

Croatia has a male choir wearing something Napolean. I do not mean the city in Italy, but the short man with the white horse. The song was called "Misery" apparently, but sounds very tame and peaceful.

Seizure coming up! Denmark warns us about strobe lights and flashing. The girls is channeling Shakira on her knees, interestingly. The flashing wasn't very noticeable, if you ask me. Finalist.

Russia. The Voice winner again, they apparently call her the new Adele. What's up with this abundance of female singers with ballady songs and big melodies and ball gowns? A ballad won't win unless it's Irish. Finalist.

Ukraine. A giant carries this pocket rocket of a girl on stage and here we go, another woman in a long dress but this one's got more of a beat to it. This strangely reminds me of Lion King. There was a disturbing lack of Giant Igor (I learned his name is) after the very first few seconds. Finalist.

The Netherlands brought back Anouk! She seems to have grown out of her Nobody's Wife days. This could be on a movie soundtrack, featuring Thom Yorke. It's interestingly different for this event. Finalist.

Montenegro has recruited... wait for it... SPACEMEN! Rapping astronauts! Oh yes. And a little space fairy with a powerhouse voice. I like the greenness on stage. Hmm, quite like fairy washing liquid. Another Eurovision dubstep entry but far better than the other one, whoever that was.

Lithuania. Is this going to be Eurovision rock? He looks like a British musician, and it's kind of trying to be Eurovision rock but his voice isn't powerful enough. This is ... average. Although, he did sing "because of the shoes I'm wearing today, one is love the other is pain." That earns him some Eurovision points. Finalist.

Belarus. Now this is more like it, the whole show seems to have picked up now and we're firmly on Eurovision territory. Underwear model looking girl in a tiny shiny dress and Jessica Simpsonesque dance skills. Finalist.

Moldova's girl's hair looks like lasagne and she has the white backup dancers that are a compulsory accessory for at least four performances each year. Up she goes! I've seen this trick on Super Sweet Sixteen. Finalist.

Ireland has a younger Adam Lambert! I like the shirtless drummers, who are probably actually not drummers but male models, but that's not important. Finalist

Belgium's dancers were weirdly protective of their ovaries in between of imitating chicken walk. The song sounds like something you'd hear on the radio but never remember who sings it. Finalist.

Serbia. Now these girls are rocking the Eurovision uniform! They've sort of dressed up like creepy living candy floss. I'd imagine Japanese Bratz dolls to look similar. What exactly is going on? It looks like there's some sort of story to this song, there's a bit of drama and sudden dance moves. It's like a pantomime where you can't understand a word!

Oh yes I'm wearing marshmallow, what of it?

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Staying live

This post is long overdue, my apologies. I haven't felt very motivated lately. Today after a Facebook chat with my boyfriend, Chris, he said I should definitely give blogging a real go and even write for a career, so I decided to post something. That was probably the best compliment I have ever had.

A while ago I saw someone post on Facebook how sad it is that so many venues can not afford to run their live music night anymore because there's no audience, and then urging people to support live music and going to their local venue - who knows what they'll find! I then proceeded to bounce ideas off of my fellow university students of the same major. This post is a collection of thoughts and ideas inspired by our chat. I also consulted Chris and as biased as I may be, he is a very wise individual and an enthusiastic musician who has to deal with the problems of gigging regularly with his band. (check 'em out!)

Fair enough, you might stumble upon something great - your future favourite band ever - one night at the rock bar on the corner of your neighbourhood. But the chances that you'll instead be bombarded by an endless supply of mediocre "I've heard this a billion times" delivered to you by a group of bored indie boys who are so above playing that gig to a mere handful of people are far more probable than hearing something actually engaging AND of decent quality. Sounds cynical and pessimistic but that's what the live music scene here does to you; puts you off live music.

I'm playing the devil's advocate here as I have quite honestly been put off by going to live music nights because of the sheer amount of horrible that enters my ears and the awkwardness that goes on on the stage. I do not want to listen to or watch that. And I definitely don't want to spend my money on that. I'll go see a band I already know and like but I will stay well away from live music venues if I don't recognise any of the names on the poster. It's not that I don't want to support live music. It's just that the majority of live music out there doesn't deserve my support.

Is there a reason that people aren't interested anymore? Are there too many mediocre bands putting on mediocre shows that don't excite people and that's why they don't have an audience in the first place? Shouldn't it also be the venue's responsibility to book interesting bands and offer good quality entertainment and not just the audience's duty to support the utterly boring and technically challenged musician wannabes who are trying to "make it"?

Also, I've noticed that as getting gigs has gotten easier to do on your own, lot of bands go out there and play way before they're ready, way before they're "good enough". And if the bands themselves don't care too much about being worth people's money then why should people support that? Chris agrees: "It almost is too easy to form a band and do some gigs, thus lowering the general quality of unsigned music."

Fellow students said: "I can't stand listening to a bad band. I'll rather choose another bar of my liking."

"I think that bands should make sure they are ready to try their wings before they hit the stages, and if the venues held some kind of quality standards the band could maybe realize that they are not ready if they are constantly rejected and go and practice some more."

I think what it ultimately boils down to is that the responsibility of paying to see bands shouldn't solely lie on the shoulders of the audience. It should also be the promoters' responsibility to offer something worth paying for.

The bands that are worth it are still "making it". Local bands, if good enough, have a local following and are known by everyone in their community and draw an audience in that area. But only if they're good enough to draw people's interest. That's where it all starts. No bond or sense of community will be strong enough to pull the weight of a shit band. If a band one day wakes up to the reality that they don't have any fans and no one goes to their gigs, it isn't the audience's fault. They're just not likeable.

"It's then a challenge for the better bands to find a way to stand out and not get lost in the mess of crap bands. There's no excuse for that if they're really that good." - Chris, 2012

It's a jungle out there. There's no arguing that things were easier when musicians could concentrate on playing music and writing songs and the business side was taken care of by business professionals. Now bands need to do their own PR, social media, gig bookings, branding, and quite often also recording and mixing. All in addition to the musician-y stuff that comes with the gig. There was also an unspoken promise that bands that get booked to play a gig are at least of decent quality and have a backing from the industry. Such promises are now far gone and the collection of clueless are taking over the stages. People aren't interested because they're not being offered anything interesting.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Customer confusion service

I'm feeling a little under the weather and feel the need to rant.

Never in my life have I encountered such poor customer service as I have here in London. Not every company and every time but I've now had two very appalling experiences in a very short time. I'm not generalising that customer service is overall bad - I've also had very helpful and delightful experiences. But when it's bad, it's really bad. The gaps in customer service quality seem to be just as huge as the gaps in welfare. You get the really impressive ones and then on the other end there are the absolutely horrendous ones. As a Finn I've come to expect at least decent correspondence with customer service. Not always amazing or incredibly friendly, but a least stuff gets done in an acceptable time frame. Now encountering these infuriatingly confusing and difficult people on the receiving end of my enquiries, I'm left with my eyes rolling in amazement and great frustration.

First I was trying to book an appointment for a massage and facial I had a coupon for. I emailed twice, used the contact form on their website twice, all in a month's time so I did give them a week to reply each time instead of harassing them every day. Finally when someone could be bothered to get back to me, they clearly had not even read my emails and had no idea what I was after. I didn't get an apology for their poor performance and my wasted efforts, just a very blunt response asking what my enquiry is about - which I had already explained in all of my messages. After this I finally got the answers I was looking for quite promptly - it was just the hassle of getting someone to actually acknowledge that I had contacted them and I had a question that needed to be answered. It took a month. A month.

Now I'm trying to book a reflexology appointment with a different company. So far I think I have managed to confirm an appointment for my desired date but I'm not sure about the time, although I suspect it might be 7pm. I asked and didn't hear anything for two weeks so today I asked again, replying to the same thread so the earlier emails would be there too. This is the exchange:

I didn't receive a reply for my earlier email. Would you have anything earlier than 7pm on November 16th? If not, I'll keep that appointment but would appreciate if you could find an earlier time. Thanks!"

"sorry ca you call to book thanks"

"Hi, no I can't. Emailing was fine earlier and should be fine now too.
I've booked an appointment for 16th of November and if I understand correctly (this hasn't been very clear from your part) it's at 7pm. I would now want to know if you have any other available appointments for earlier that same day. If not, I will keep the appointment I have but if possible would like to move it to earlier."

"You have mentioned many dates and times I really don't know which day you like to come and what sort of time . Can you please be sure , and let me know"

Now I don't know if I'm just being unreasonable, but I didn't think my mentioning the same day over and over again was so confusing. I haven't mentioned any other dates, that is the day I had in my original enquiry and that is the day that has been booked (I hope). Would you have understood what I was asking from the emails I sent?

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Other worlds

There's a live events company that brings films to life, Future Cinema. I was lucky enough to get to be at their Grease event! It was such an amazing experience! They had transformed Barnes Common park into a '50's fun fair with a carrousel, ferris wheel, dance hall, diner, Frenchie's house for makeovers and hair dos, few old cars to pose with, and actors playing the characters from the film interacting with the audience. The park was filled with people dressed in '50's

Such an amazing business idea! Experiencing the films you watch and love. They've got another branch called Secret Cinema for which the film isn't revealed until the opening credits roll, but they do give out hints before the event and finally give a dress up theme and time and place for it. Then you just show up wearing the appropriate costume and you're taken into the world of the film they're showing you. I'm in love with this company! They only do a few events a year because they really are spectacular and it takes a lot of time and effort to put the whole thing together. So far I've only seen trailer videos for their previous events but I'm going to one in November! I'm already excited to see which film it's going to be and what they've done for it!

Then there's Secret Screenings; a smaller profile film event where we were told a time and a place but the film was kept a secret until it started; no big special event shenanigans. It turned out to be The Imposter, a documentary about a French serial identity thief who managed to convince government officials as well as the family that he was an American boy who'd gone missing three years earlier. I suggest you check it out! After the film we heard from the director, Bart Layton, and the Private Investigator, Charlie Parker about their experiences with the case and the film. Fantastic experience as well. I think it's mostly the anticipation and secrecy, and the film turned out to be fascinating too.

A Door In A Wall is organising a murder mystery treasure hunt. I'd be really tempted to go to that too but they recommend people to do it in groups and I don't particularly have a group here. I've been doing stuff and going to things with one person and now he's gone back to uni.

I've also subscribed to a secret supper club newsletters for some secret dining in a secret place but haven't heard anything yet.

This city really is full of fantastic events and experiences just as well as everyday awesome places and venues. London is not a place to be bored in. If you've got time, willingness, and ability to use Google, you will find amazing things to do every day of the week! Or don't even bother googling, just hop on a bus (any bus) and hop off somewhere you've never been before and go for a little walk around the area.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Born this gay - London Pride 2012

London Pride. I was a first timer - In Finland you'd need to find your way all the way to Helsinki for that. This time I happened to be in the same city and happened to see someone post about it on Facebook in the same morning. I had no other plans so decided to go check it out. After all, I fully support equal rights for everyone - and really wanted to see Boy George and Corey Hart. I convinced my flatmate Hanna and her friend Seamus to come too! He got chatted up a lot while us girlies were left alone. The situation got rectified later on in Roxy Club where, to put it nicely, all the guys seemed to be lonely. Ugh, I again remembered why I don't go out that much. Funnily it doesn't take long to forget these things again.

There was only one entrance gate into Trafalgar Square which was a bit shit honestly. The queue was horrendous and moved reeeeaaalllyyy sloooowwlyyy. Yet there were at least three "exit only" gates. I didn't get to hear Karma Chameleon, either because he didn't sing it or he started with it and we weren't in the area yet. Do You Really Want To Hurt Me was heard. He was fabulous in his sparkly hat and strong eyeliner!

How awesome is he!

I was so ready for it too! Shame I missed the song.

Corey Hart didn't disappoint - Sunglasses At Night remix version was incredibly fun! For those of you who aren't so well educated about 80's cheese, he's the guy who invented duckface.

Then we popped into a pub for a drink and the table next to us invited us over in their company. Then we spotted some, apparently hot, lonely man in the table behind us and took him in. He'd been stood up by his friend and was stranded in this strange city all by himself. All the way from Italy, poor guy. We then proceeded to go find a club - wandered in the general direction of Heaven to notice that the queue was about 7 miles long - then came up with a plan B and found Bar 101 for a drink and then moved on to Roxy. Roxy was fun! Completely packed full which was annoying but the music was good! No standard club music, more indie rock and oldies.

Such a fun night! Great time was had by all, almost everyone hooked up with someone, love was all around. And bright colours.