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7 Quick Takes – 20

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— 1 —

Twice in a row, I’m not even started with these quick takes till Friday afternoon! So let me start with a cheerful Shabbat Shalom! It was a full week, and still, I’m not sure how to come up with seven quick takes. I really didn’t post much this past week, but I posted a quasi review of Jen Fulwiler’s book, which I liked, but at the same time I was shaking my head a lot while reading. It is worth reading, really. I mean the book, not necessarily my 700+ word babbling about it.

— 2 —

My iPod’s mail center went crazy. It suddenly decided to index every mail I received in the last six years and mark them unread.
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Now how weird is that? Anyway, trying to clean up the mess reminded me of some funny, loving, caring, wise emails that I have received over the years. Among them was the last email I got from my grandpa, and it made me smile. Thank you, iOS7 for sometimes being a pain in the @$$.

— 3 —

I am so excited! I subscribed to National Geographic on my iPod/iPad, and in addition to the year’s worth of issues, I got an example issue… one that I actually owned in print, but misplaced and wanted to use it for a homeschool lesson. A friend once told me that when she was in college (in a non-English speaking country) majoring in English, there was a second/third semeseter language mastery course that was built around National Geographic articles. 聽Since my kids are mostly speaking English as their second or third or even fourth language, I thought that would be a brilliant idea for next year to build their vocabulary. So I’m already collecting articles to read together.

— 4 —

Tonight (Saturday) Eli has his first recital! We are super excited. Afterwards Kevin and I will take him out to dinner. He picked a Russian/Ukrainian/Polish restaurant. We have never been there, but apparently it is popular among the local Russians/Ukrainians/Poles.

— 5 —

Wow. The recital was awesome. Yes, I am this slow with this post! Now it’s Sunday morning, and after my third trip to the ENT I’m just sitting at a local coffee chain’s shop, drinking water and eating their fabulous Israeli salad for breakfast. But back to the recital.

It was about 90 minutes, and it featured three students. We had no idea what to expect, because Eli kept it a secret, but it turned out to be pretty awesome. It was made into a real entertaining and great show. Eli got quite a bit of stage time, because as the only one of the three students playing the piano he was accompanying not only himself, but the other two as well! One of the songs Eli sang and one of the solo pieces he played were “exam” pieces by a composition major at the music academy in Jerusalem. They were both pretty difficult pieces, and the composer said Eli played them without any glitches! We are very proud of him.

At the end of the recital the three of them sang a medley from this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, finishing with an awesome cover of Rise Like A Phoenix. It was really great. All three of them did really well.

— 6 —

Just in case anyone missed my last three posts, this year’s Eurovision Song Contest was won by one Conchita Wurst representing Austria.

Of course people are butthurt over a drag queen winning (like they were butt hurt over Dana International, a transgender singer from Israel winning in 1998). They claim she only won because she has a beard and people were only voting for her because it was weird. Well, it’s true, the show and the shock factor are all part of Eurovision. Just remember Lordi winning for Finland in 2006. 聽Plus if shock factor would be enough to win, Dana would have made it to the final again in 2011, but she didn’t.

Also people claim they can’t decide what Conchita is. They can click on all the how awful, how do I explain it to my kids, where are the European values mouth frothing posts, but they can’t click on the one that simply explains: Conchita is a she. When not in drag, Tom Neuwirth is a he. He is a cute he, and a beautiful she. But here is the thing. Matisyahu shaved his beard off and it worked for him. I think it would work for Conchita as well!

That said, I had had doubts about her in the ESC. I remember seeing her singing My Heart Will Go On for an Austrian talent show, and it was obvious she could sing… but yes, I had to change my mind after first hearing the song for ESC. My very conservative brother was just listening to the show with his back to the TV, working on his computer. When this song came on, he was telling me, “Finally something I really like”. Then we told him to look at the TV. 馃榾

Also, I read somewhere that 60% of the people who actually vote for the Eurovision finals are gay males. It could be right. And yes, we tend to vote for “our own kind” if they perform equally well as someone else.

— 7 —

If Matt W@lsh is a correct representation of being a Christian, well, then I’d rather be anything but Christian. He is a prime example of religion and identity built on hate and holier-than-thou attitudes. And his fans… do they need so much validation that they are so much better and oh so persecuted to keep reading his absolutely negative blog that looks down on everyone who is not Matt W@lsh? (Yes, I would not type his name. First of all, it’s to the level of a non-appropriate word. Second, I don’t want to give him potential SEO and advertisement benefits.)

There are awesome Christian bloggers out there. Somehow they don’t need to reflect on every current event with hate. Somehow they can be more about building other Christians up without tearing other groups of people down. Not all of them are pre-LGBT, but they know how to treat the topic and the people with love and respect.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

The Annual Eurovision Song Contest Final Post

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Wow, it’s already that day! Finally, the final! I will update this post throughout the evening.

The show starts with all the contestants walking on stage. Conchita looks lovely in his? her? Long gold dress. Then the three presenters welcome the viewers in several languages. I love this aspect of the Eurovision shows! Languages are fun!

The first song is by Ukraine. The stage show is awesome. The song is not particularly memorable. The dancer boy in the wheel is kinda confusing. There can be a maximum of six people on stage during the song.

Belarus is next, Teo singing Cheesecake. I’d rather eat cheesecake than listen to Teo sing about it. Of course in twenty minutes I won’t even remember the song. Each song has to be three minutes long when performed at the ESC.

Azerbaijan is third. Traditionally our Armenian ties make us not fans of Azerbaijan. Their Eurovision songs are decent, though. Well, this one should not take next year’s competition back to Baku. The highlight is her dress, I think. She has trouble with the high notes. It might only be her head voice, but in that case she shouldn’t use it. I meqn it hurts my ears, it’s so sharp.

(more…)

7 Quick Takes — 19

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I got sick with a bilateral sinus and ear infection on Yom Haatzmaut, and that forced me to slow down a bit. While I finished Jen Fulwiler’s book, I didn’t get around to write a review, and I even fell asleep during the second semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest. And I was late even starting these quick takes. I’m also taking the easy, and pretty obvious route out of actually having to use my brain to write something: as the ESC final is today, I will share my 7 favourite songs in the final.

The Eurovision Song Contest is an international song contest that has been annually held since 1956. Countries that are members of the European Broadcasting Union can nominate songs that compere each spring against each other. Some countries that compete, or are eligible to compete, like Israel, are not actually in Europe, but as members of EBU, we are there… Most contestants are already well established in their own countries, but sometimes a talent show is held to find a contestant–like Germany did with Lena in 2010–and she went on to win the ESC!

The current format of the show involves two semi finals of however many contestants there are in that year. Ten acts from each semi-final advance to the final, where they are joined by the Big Five (France, Italy, Germany, UK, Spain) and the host country, who is the previous year’s winner, so the final usually has 26 participants. Votes are given by each country (50% popular vote, 50% jury vote), but no country can vote for its own song. The maximum number of votes that can be given is 12, so if you see comments on YouTube saying “12 points from Holland” it means that the Dutch YouTube user really liked that song.

This year neither Israel nor Ireland made it to the final. The last Israeli to make it was Harel Skaat in 2010 with the song Millim. Hungary, however, is in the final. Guess who I am voting for tonight?

Click below for the good stuff!

(more…)

7 Quick Takes – 4

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— 1 —

As mentioned in my previous post, I’m in the middle of Netflixing my way through the sseries聽Lie To Me.聽 I have an absolutely favourite new quote, that sums up my feelings about Israel, said by Eli Loker.

I’m moving to Israel. If I’m going to live somewhere where I can get blown up in a bus or in a mall at any time, I want beaches and women who speak their minds.

Loker, at this point of the show also practices radical honesty. Which is quite entertaining.

— 2 —

It’s totally Eurovision season now! We know which semifinal Israel is competing in (not the same as Hungary, so I can’t vote for them!) and the Hungarian preselection shows (A Dal) start on Saturday. Then we will have a “poor man’s Kdam” for Israel in March, but I really don’t think it will be any less great then 2010 was with Harel Skaat. You know, this one.

That’s not a competition song. That is 1978 Eusovision winner Gali Atari singing the 1978 winning song (Hallelujah) with Harel Skaat. When Gali Atari & Milk and Honey won, Harel was -3 years old. But it’s one of those songs everyone and their dog can sing in Israel. 馃榾

— 3 —

It takes forever to drink 16 ounces of iced coffee in an unheated office, I’m telling you. I think maybe if I had put some sugar in it… but maybe it’s already sweetened, and then I need no more sugar? Oh my, trying to agree with myself about what a coffee needs is hard. I know that is comical, but hey…

— 4 —

Today I got an email telling me that my blog was automatically updated to WordPress 3.8.1. Duh, I know, I initiated the update a few days ago! I think because initially I used the automatic installation option for my blog, the script now thinks it is actually doing something, while the update was done days ago. Gotta love programs and apps that think they know what I want to do. Windows and Office seem to think they can read my mind, and it is the most annoying thing sometimes. If the first computer achieving self awareness will run Windows, we will be in big trouble. Well, if it happens to be an iPad on iOS7, we’ll be in trouble, too.

— 5 —

This post needs a photo.

2013-09-04 20.24.48Yes, it’s a puli dog on wine. Yes, it’s an awful photo. Yes, I bought some.

— 6 —

I really need a new phone. I would love to have an iPhone, but it is not likely I’ll ever be able to afford one. So I’m looking for a 聽smartphone with 1) long battery life, 2) not claiming it has 8GB of memory, but, in fact having only 512MB for apps and operating system and screaming memory is full with only Facebook, Gmail, Runkeeper and Instagram installed (yes, Samsung, talking about your phones), 3) has a decent camera, preferrably with camera light, 4) is affordable even when buying unlocked. Any suggestions?

— 7 —

If I started a business selling crochet stuff on Etsy/my crochet blog. what would you be interested in buying? What price range? How much would you be willing to pay for shipping? Now that I’m getting close to getting my full arm usage back, I’m considering taking on some larger projects. I just finished some hats and scarves, and I think I will be able to make them faster once no longer having a cast.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

The Eurosvision Song Contest Final

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Please note that the post is updated throughout the final tonight! Check back as the night progresses!

Tonight I’m joined by my son Yonah, who hopes Anouk wins for the Netherlands, my friend Nathan, who is just experiencing the ESC for the first time, and is still not sure what is going on, and via the internet Andi and possibly 脕g贸 from Hungary.

22:01 “Kezd艖艖艖艖艖艖艖艖艖艖艖艖艖dik!” My current favourite to win (realistically) is Malta. My preferred win is Hungary. So if you can vote, just remember, Hungary’s code will be 17! While Israel didn’t make it, Ireland and Hungary did!

22:03 The Bridge! Yes, the one I mentioned before opens the show. And then some choir sings.

Tonight’s running order is the following:

1. France
2. Lithuania
3. Moldova
4. Finland
5. Spain
6. Belgium
7. Estonia
8. Belarus
9. Malta
10. Russia
11. Germany
12. Armenia
13. The Netherlands
14. Romania
15. United Kingdom
16. Sweden
17. Hungary
18. Denmark
19. Iceland
20. Azerbaijan
21. Greece
22. Ukraine
23. Italy
24. Norway
25. Georgia
26. Ireland

22:06 脕g贸 tells me her conspiracy theory while ByeAlex and his vocalist and guitarist walk into the arena: Europe finally got so fed up with Hungary that they will all vote for ByeAlex, so Hungary will finally go bankrupt by having to host next year.

22:10 Petra Mede is an awesome host for ESC! I think she beats last year’s trio. Hi to Australia, whoa re watching the show live despite the time difference.

22:13 The real competition begins with the French entry. Since France is one of the big 5, who don’t have to sing in the semifinals, I’m looking forward to hearing the song live for the first time. Last year’s Corsican song will be hard to top.

22:21 Nathan’s comment on the French entry: Too bad it wasn’t in the semifinals. He wouldn’t have to listen to it now, because no way it would have made it! Lithuania was okay, a typical ESC song, and now onto Moldova. I like her dress. The song is mostly forgettable.

22:25 The Finnish entry is coming. She is Swedish. She is the one who kissed another girl on stage, causing Turkey to refuse to broadcast the final, disqualifying themselves for next year. So the highlight of the song is when it ends.

22:30 Another one of the Big 5: Spain takes the stage. It’s pretty weak when it comes to her singing, sounds kind of uncertain, though one of the guitarists has wild hair and a grin showing off 32 teeth. In one line. Anyway, I’d like to refer back to Nathan’s comment regarding Spain. I’m not 100% sure that the skipping of the semifinals actually does good to the big 5.

22:33 We are informed that in Belgium the Flemish and the French TV channels rotate sending their entries. This year it’s a French song. 聽In English, apparently. I can pick out words. Something seems to be off, I could understand him in the semifinal. Not one of my favourite songs, but hey, it’s Ciska‘s country!

22:36 From the time stamps you can see that ESC is not about wasting time. The 26 songs, the voting and the announcement of the results with satelite connection to all 39 countries takes circa 3 hours. Beat that, Idol/Voice/X-Factor!

22:38 Estonia! Oh my, she is beautiful, the song is beautiful, and the Estonian language is beautiful!

22:45 Belarus sent a girl with long legs. And here comes Malta! The singer is actually a full time doctor, part time singer. He is a cutie with an unconventionally attractive face, and a comforting, bit raspy voice. He also has a lot, a lot of teeth! “Like tomorrow, she is always one day away.” OK, this is the second time I hear the song, but it has invaded my brain. I’m humming it whenever I’m not humming the Hungarian entry.

22:53 Last year’s Russian song, performed by the 6 babushkas ended up in 2nd place. This year Russia decided not to send a gag song. Thank goodness. There is something about the song that was really nice, but pretty boring: a predictable, safe ESC song.

22:55 I’m realizing I can’t remember who represented Germany last year. I am fairly sure I won’t remember Cascada next year, either.

22:59 Armenia! As you know, some of my kids are from Armenia. I like the song, and it will defintely get votes from my family. I can just see that Armenian voters are contemplating to give Hungarians or Azeris the fewer votes. While the Armenian-Azeri conflict is well known (Armenia didn’t participate in last year’s ESC that was hosted in Azerbaijan), the way Hungary achieved general dislike of Armenians is lesser known. Background on how Hungarian authorities proved they were idiots can be read here. Copied from Wikipedia:

Ramil Sahib oglu Safarov聽(born August 25, 1977) is a convicted officer of the聽Azerbaijani聽army who, while participating as a lieutenant in a聽NATO-sponsored course of studies in Budapest聽in 2004 killed a fellow attendee,聽Armenian Armylieutenant聽Gurgen Margaryan, in his sleep with an聽axe.

In 2006, Safarov was sentenced to聽life imprisonment聽in Hungary with a minimum incarceration period of 30 years. After his request under theStrasbourg convention, he was聽extradited聽on August 31, 2012聽to Azerbaijan where he was greeted as a hero,聽pardoned by Azerbaijani president,聽Ilham Aliyev聽despite contrary assurances made to Hungary,聽promoted to the rank of major and given an apartment and over eight years of back pay.聽According to Azerbaijani authorities, Safarov was pardoned in compliance with Article 12 of the convention.聽Following Safarov’s pardon, Armenia severed聽diplomatic relations with Hungary聽and immediate protests broke out in聽Yerevan.

23:11 Following Anouk’s awesome song for Holland, Romania’s Cezar is confusing Andi’s sons. Her younger son has been criticizing some female singers that they sound like men, so now they get Cezar to set their world view right. He is a counter tenor, and his operatic voice is in contrast with the background music. I think I prefer Mika as the pop countertenor.

23:14 Bonnie Tyler is representing the UK. Another one for the Big 5. She might be a gay icon or something, but can we please move on to something that has a pulse and somewhat contemporary feel? Only one more song after this before ByeAlex. Nathan decided it was time for a mojito.

23:18 Sweden. They won last year and host this year, and I’m sure they chose this song so they don’t have to host next year. No way of winning with this one. After following their national selection, I think pretty much this was my least favourite song.

23:21 ByeAlex is up next! He is number 17, and 17 has been a winning number 7 times.

23:27 ByeAlex must have gotten his confidence back after the semifinal, because he did a lot, lot , lot better tonight! Dani and Helga were also awesome. Yay for them.

Now one of my other favourites, Denmark is singing. One of my favourite things about Denmark is the hard candy with the Danish flag. Andi says the song and the singer’s voice remind her of Euphoria.

23:30 Iceland! Iceland is cool (漏Jill). Thor Jr sings in Icelandic. It must be a love song, based on his gensticulation. Iceland. Country of recession, volcanos and some weird sheep head food that tastes very good.

23:37… and Azerbaijan did awesome again. It wasn’t only a good song, there was awesome dancing and the singer is very handsome. Greece, wearing kilts, are singing about alcohol being free.

23:42 Ukraine. There is a guy that’s 243 cm tall. That is tall. The singer is a very pretty girl and I loved this song in the first semifinal. It sounded slightly better then.

23:57 I think I kinda forgot a few songs… Anyway Georgia is on stage, and the next song is the last one, Ireland. Italy was all right, Norway was forgettable.

23:59: Only love survives. This song is growing on me.

00:08 Voting is open.

00:15 Loreen, last year’s winner, is singing… and she doesn’t have shoes on. I’d think that an ESC winner can make enough money to buy shoes.

00:20 OK, so this year, again, my absolute favourite songs were performed in the native languages of the country (since English is one of those for Malta). My top 8 in no particular order: Azerbaijan, Armenia, Iceland, Estonia, Malta, Hungary, Italy, Denmark.

00:23 Voting closed. Another funny intermission. I hope I can find that on YouTube tomorrow and insert here. It has to do with the Swedish mentality. It included the prime minister, who failed to put his coffee mug in the dishwasher, and a couple wanting to get their kid Christened, and now Petra Mede is singing a funny song. She is making fun of IKEA. Gotta love that!

00:28聽OH MY GOD SAME SEX KISS/MARRIAGE REFERNCED!!!!

00:34 Eric Saade! Cutiepie.

00:36 Nathan is starting to understand, but he still has questions.

“But what does the winner get?”
“The glory and the right to spend a whole lot of money on hosting the next year.”
In the meantime: The winner takes it all is being performed.
00:40 Voting announcements start with San Marino: They gave 6 points to Hungary, 12 goes to Greece. (12 poiunts are the maximum, then 10, 8, 6 and down to 1). Sweden gave Hungary3 points. Albania is next. Albania gives Hungary 8 points. Netherlands gives 7 to Hungary, making ByeAlex have more points than in the previous two years. Israel is announcing! Ofer delivers a little speech in Swedish. We gave twelve to Azerbaijan.
Serbia gave 2 points to Hungary. Denmark is leading by 12 points. Ukraine’s curly haired host doesn’t deliver any surprises: Moldova, Azerbaijan and Belarus. Hungary’s 脡va Novodomszky announces 8 points for Malta, 10 to Denmark, and 12 points go to Azerbaijan. Romania. Pretty blonde lady. Denmark gets 6, 8 to Norway, 10 Azerbaijan and 12 to Moldova, as usual. The Hungarian minority didn’t really vote for Alex, as they gave no points to Hungary. Estonia has no poiints yet!! Norway gave 2 to Hungary, 10 to Malta, and, wow, surprise (not), Sweden gets 12. Armenia… Hungary will not get any here…
00:54: Denmark, Azerbaijan and Ukraine are in the top three positions. Nothing is decided yet.
Italy gives 3 points to Hungary. Denmark is in lead still. Finnland gives 10 to Hungary! Yeah, the language family should stick together. Bulgaria gives Hungary 6. Ireland is way out of the game in last place with 3 points at this point. 聽It’s very close in the top 3! 聽Estonia gives Hungary 4 points.
Germany gives Hungary 12 points! Yea! Last year Compact Disco got 19 points, the year before Wolf Kati got 53.聽A fanyalg贸k bek@phatj谩k.
Greece gives Hungary 2 more, Alex has 65. They give Azerbaijan 12, putting them back into second place… with still 10 countries to go. Ireland gave 7 points to UK, and we still only have 3… we as in Ireland. Denmark gets 12 points from us. The Danes give 10 to Sweden. They are still in the lead. Azerbaijan has a mathematical chance to win, but it’s looking more like Denmark. With 4 countries left Denmark leads by 46 points. If they don’t get any more, but Azerbaijan gets 12 points from everyone they might lose.
With only 3 countries left, Denmark has won: Azerbaijan simply can’t catch up. DENMARK!!!!
Ireland finished 聽in 26th place with 5 points, and Hungary finished in 10th place with 84 points, getting 聽4 points from Croatia and 10 from Switzerland and 5 points from Lithuania to round the evening off. That means he got more points than the previous two Hungarian finalists. YAY!
Thanks for a great evening, Malm枚!
And if next year Coppenhagen hosts (could be other cities, too), they just need to cross the bridge from Malm枚 to Coppenhagen!

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