Saturday, May 26, 2012

Eurovision 2012

Last year, I watched Eurovision, the annual European song contest, and became completely enamored- pure camp, at its finest!  This year's competition did not disappoint- aside from all of the ballads (BO-ring), performances ranged from dancy Europop, heavy metal, and the downright bizarre, and the costumes ranged from slightly ridiculous to completely ridiculous-  sparkly blindfolds and Native American headdresses are just the tip of the iceberg.  I'd say a solid half of the acts looked like they were dressed as space aliens from 1960s television.  Now that I've discovered Eurovision, I'm a bit sad that the US is excluded from participation.  Hopefully they'll start broadcasting Eurovision on US television so Americans will at least have the opportunity to witness the spectacle.  An evening spent with friends, drinking wine and watching Eurovision, is just about the best entertainment around.

Some highlights:

Jedward, the hyperactive twins, were back representing Ireland, and their new dance move inspired my housemate Susan and me to try our own.

Sweden's winning entry was actually pretty good, a catchy pop song by Loreen, who had angered authorities from host country Azerbaijan by meeting with political activists.  Turkey had the most creative costumes- caped male dances who turned into a sailboat. Too bad their song was rubbish.  England trotted out Engelbert Humperdinck but his performance was far too snoozy to win many votes.

However, Russia's entry brought down the house- six elderly Russian ladies singing "Party For Everybody" and dancing around a revolving oven. I'm already looking forward to next year.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Book reviews

So in all that time I wasn't blogging I was doing a lot of traveling, and long flight = lots of reading time.  So here are some very brief summaries of what I've read lately:

State of Wonder, by Ann Patchett. One of my favorite authors writes a book about a female scientist who travels to the Amazon to investigate the mysterious death of a colleague. Could a plot line be any more up my alley? Unlikley.
The Boy in the Suitcase, by Lene Kaaberbol and Agnete Friis. Apparently it takes two authors to write a thriller that's like a low calorie version of Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.  Confusing at first but got more enjoyable when I got used to the Danish names and figured out who was who.
The Power of One, by Bryce Courtenay. An excellent novel about a young boy growing up in South Africa during World War II that chronicles his difficult childhood and the people he met who have a long-lasting impact on his life. So much better than the movie! Highly recommended!  Even though it was a long book, I was sad to come to the end, as I don't think I could ever get tired of Peekay.
The Book of the Night Women, by Marlon James.  The story of Lilith, a slave girl growing up on a sugar plantation in Jamaica in the 18th century. Heartbreaking and brutal as hell. I'll be happy if I never have to read another whipping scene ever again.
The Opposite of Me, by Sarah Pekkanen. After finishing with the night women, I needed some lighter fare to brighten my mood, and this somewhat formulaic chic lit did the trick.  Twin sisters who are opposite in looks and personalities!! 
Straight Man, by Richard Russo.  With this novel about a middle-aged English professor undergoing something of a mid-life crisis, Richard Russo succeeds where Michael Chabon fails, creating a protagonist who is likeable despite his flaws.  Also, serves as a warning to anyone hoping for a career in academia. Recommended!

So I'm currently reading the infamous Fifty Shades of Grey for my book club...let's just say it's terribly written and super porny, but somehow addictive at the same time.  I can't even read it on the train because I'm ashamed to be seen reading it in public.  Although I must admit it will certainly make excellent book club discussion fodder.

Sunday, May 20, 2012


This one's been making the rounds but is definitely worth a look if you haven't seen it yet- artist Nina Katchadourian has come up with a novel way to keep herself entertained on long flights- by taking self-portraits of herself in airplane bathrooms, dressed in the style of Flemish paintings. 

And on the theme of head shots, over on Kristy's blog I spotted a link with information that would have come in handy for, oh, my entire adult life.  How to avoid having a double chin in photos.  The video's a bit long, but if you watch the first minute or so and then skip to the example photos at the end, you'll get the gist.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Back on the Blog?

So I've been neglecting this poor little old blog for a while, for a variety of reasons- mostly because I'm busy, and my workday gets so full of data analysis, writing, meetings, and lab work that it leaves me brain tired at the end of the day, and therefore uninclined to spend more time in front of a computer.  The other reason is somewhat less easy to describe- in a way I've become a little more discreet, hesitant to share my goings on with the internet.  Not because I'm doing anything all that exciting or clandestine, but rather, the opposite.  When I was a bored and depressed grad student it was a relief to sound that trumpet, but now that I'm happy, it feels almost like tempting fate.  Happy people make boring bloggers.
However, I do like keeping a blog, and since I'm so far away, it is a great way to keep in touch.  So I've decided to put a little more effort into DCoE for the next month or so- not anything like the blogging heyday of 2006, but I'll aim for two or three posts a week.  Stay tuned!