Eurovision goes political and Mad Men goes SF

Tonight the final of the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest was held in Baku, capital of Azerbaijan. The Guardian also has a liveblog from a UK perspective here.

Unlike last year, I really did not catch more than a handful of songs (Serbia, Norway, Ireland, France and Cyprus) plus the second half of the voting this year. There was a classic Star Trek marathon on another channel (all through the weekend in fact), I just wasn’t that interested and Germany’s entry by Roman Lob was rather bland, though much better than the Ralph Siegel pap that dominated Germany’s entries in the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s. The indomitable Ralph Siegel actually did compose his 20th Eurovision song this year – for San Marino, since they were apparently the only ones who would still have him. He got kicked out in the semi-final to the amusement of most Germans (sorry, San Marino).

In the end, Sweden won with a song that sounded decent in the recap. At any rate, it was better than most of the songs I actually saw. The Russian babushkas landed in second place, Serbia’s entry – the sort of mournful ballad sung in their native language that Serbia enters practically every year (they even won once) – finished in third place, largely due to the fact that even though they agree on nothing else these days, former Yugoslav republics still have the same taste in pop music.

The German contestant Roman Lob finished in a surprisingly good eighth place, since in the end it seemed as if not even the German commentator had much faith in the song. Roman Lob actually started out somewhere way down in the second half, but then got a couple of 10 points late in the game. Engelbert Humperdinck, who performed the UK entry, finished second to last.

The most notable bit came near the end, when Anke Engelke (actress, comedienne and one of last year’s hosts) reported the German votes and managed to slip in a couple of sly political digs about Azerbaijan’s less than stellar democracy and human rights record and even alluded to the fact that German companies made a lot of money buildings Azerbaijan’s impressive Crystal Hall and other Eurovision buildings. And she said it to the face of the daughter of the Azerbaijani president, who was one of the three hosts (not sure if she was the woman with the Mad Men inspired hairstyle and gown or the other one), too. Go, Anke – especially since Eurovision is usually treated as a politics free zone. Spiegel Online has more on Anke Engelke’s political commentary.

And now on to something else: At Tor.com, Chris Lough explores how science fiction figures into Mad Men, now that the show has finally reached the cool half of the 1960s and can even mention Star Trek and Dark Shadows and have a character moonlight as an SF writer. Reading the description of the Star Trek spec script written by ex-copywriter Paul Kinsey (what happened to that character anyway? I liked him) turned wannabe screenwriter, made me giggle and think, “Wow, so now we know who wrote that really tedious message episode with the half black and half white aliens.” (And guess which episode the Star Trek marathon is currently airing? Yup, that one). Though I recall one of the secondary characters that are actually more interesting than the main cast (probably the Paul Kinsey again) lamenting the cancellation on The Twilight Zone in season 1 or 2.

By the way, if you want just the good bits of Mad Men, which at least for me is the fabulous period design (and since the show has finally reached 1966, the clothes are getting hipper as well), without the tediousness of actually having to watch the show, the fashion blog Tom & Lorenzo dissects the styles and interiors of every Mad Men episode with plenty of photos. It really saves you the trouble of watching the show (which is on hiatus in Germany anyway), because the photos usually explain the gist of what is going on.

Alas, Don Draper still seems to have confused “wife” with “Barbie doll”, though he has traded in the original model for something halfway between an American Girl Barbie and a Twist and Turn Mod Barbie. I still live in hope that he’ll eventually ditch the trophy wives before we get to Malibu Barbie and end up with Peggy Olsen (who’s obviously a Midge), though the new young man with the mismatched clothing looks like a likely romantic partner for Peggy as well.

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