Archive for May, 2009

The Tiger Is Dead

I wrote most of this several days ago but the “Moving Forward” and the “The Diaspora” sections were incomplete and I felt they are very necessary so that it doesn’t just look like I’m merely celebrating a military victory.

After the BJP’s humiliating defeat and with Aung Sun Suu Kyi on trial, it’s a relief to finally hear some good news coming out of South Asia: the Liberation Tigers Of Tamil Eelam*, the LTTE, have been officially pwned. Velupillai Prabhakaran, its power-hungry leader for just over 33 years is no more.

Not as flashy as al Qaeda or as deceptive as Hamas, the LTTE were FUCKING BRUTAL in their own special way. Now just to be sure, I am in no way condoning the heavy handedness of the Sri Lankan Army but we must realize that the enemy of my enemy is quite often also my enemy. Stalin kicked some serious Nazi ass but that doesn’t mean I’ll be inviting him to my next birthday party (he died a long time ago anyway). But despite his rhetoric, Prabhakaran cared not about the Tamil people, only power. There may be a fine line between terrorist and freedom fighter but the LTTE were nowhere near it. One little bit of trivia: the LTTE are (one of) the only terrorist organization(s) to ever have an air force.

Beaten but not Forgotten

One of the most enduring legacies of the LTTE will undoubtedly be its brilliant invention. It’s easy to forget that less than two decades ago all suicide bombings were carried out with the aid of some sort of vehicle. But the LTTE changed all that. The explosive belt is a device so simple it’s a wonder somebody else didn’t think of it sooner. But it was the Tigers who unveiled their ingenious invention in 1991 with the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi (no doubt also helping “Gandhi” set the record for most assassinations per surname). From there on the floodgates opened up. Women, children, anybody could be a suicide bomber. All you need are charismatic leaders who don’t have you best interests in mind and a whole lotta ka-blam!

Moving Forward

The ball is in Sri Lanka’s court. With the LTTE out of the way they must quickly reconcile with their Tamil minority. No doubt some just must be served to those guilty of crimes against humanity but a witchhunt is in nobody’s best interest. The government needs to implement devolution to the Northern Province as promised in the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord. At the same time, This needs to be coupled with firm maintainance by the central government that separatism will not be tolerated. Amending the constitution in order to make Sri Lanka a federation would be the best course of action. That way, if in the future an extreme Sinhala nationalist party comes into power they can’t just revoke the devolved authority.

The Diaspora

Now Canada, Toronto especially, has the largest population of Tamils outside of Asia and the largest population of Sri Lankan Tamils outside of Sri Lanka itself. It was only recently that I became aware of the fact that there is a clear distinction between Sri Lankan Tamils and the inhabitants of Tamil Nadu. While the cultures are closely related they have nonetheless been separate societies for many centuries now.

Members of the Sri Lankan diaspora have a duty to lobby foreign governments in the interests of the homeland but I believe they’re doing it all wrong. Mass gatherings with the waving of what appear to be terrorist colours is no way to garner support. In fact, forget about support for the time being and focus on sympathy. Ideally people would just care for the situation of all oppressed people around the world. But this isn’t the case: we have busy lives and only so much love to give. So that’s why you must promote a sort of “Tamilophilia.” For example, during the Greek War of Independence many Europeans were of the mindset of “Fuck yeah! Greeks rule! Plato and Alexander the Great and shit! Awesome!” Looking to a more modern time, the Israeli War of Independence: “Alright man, I LOVE the Jews, they wrote the bible and we’ve been shitting on them for two thousand years!” But if someone is to mention the plight of the Kurds the response is more along the lines of “dude, I love cheese curds.”

Much like Greek, the Tamil language is one of the oldest languages in the world still in use. The Tamils have a rich and prosperous history: people need to be informed about this.

*It’s their proper name, and “Tamil Tigers” sounds more like a baseball team than an international terrorist organization.

Eurovision 2009 Final

Eurovision was so awesome. I’m totally going to watch it every year now. Although, from what I gather, not all host countries take the contest as serious as Russia did so in effect, this might have been the “Beijing” of Eurovisions in that future countries won’t be laying down so much cash when hosting the contest

Politically motived voting remains, as always, an issue. Cyprus gave Greece douze points and Moldova and Romania likewise swapped their twelve. And it goes without saying that the non-Greek Balkan nations all scratched either others’s backs.

Alexander Rybak of Norway was a deserving winner. In the past Norway has had the dubious honour of coming in last place 10 times, four of which they got nul points. This year they got a record-breaking 387 points, including a record-breaking 16 sets of douze points and a record-breaking 169-point lead over second place. So, all in all, pretty successful.

The great thing about Rybak’s win is his song and his choreography were relatively simple. If I have one criticism of the contest as a whole, it’s the excessive stage productions that take the attention away from the music:

France Gall, 1965 (winner): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s5aeeSmkPwQ
Svetlana Loboda, 2009: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6q6eKK3NcR8

A few screen caps:


The French singer was unfortunately given not one, but two black eyes before going on stage.


Beware of Greeks riding giant staplers.


Rarely seen in the wild, this is the critically endangered German jazz cowboy, or die Deutschejazzenkowboy.


Based on her “hat,” Albania was apparently the setting for The Nightmare Before Christmas.


Those backward Muslim countries are SO repressive to their women.


I sat and pondered for some time over how I could turn this into a Russian reversal but I’ve got nothing. It’s just a picture of an oddly emotional ??????? singer.


Easily my favourite Russian word. Evar.


Wohoo!

[Ed.—With the proper promotion I think Brinck, the entrant from Denmark, could definitely break through the North American market. He's the only one whose style I think is suitable. But, in reality, with the exception of a handful of musicans (e.g. ABBA) mainland Europeans never hit the U.S. charts.]

Eurovision 2009 Second Semi-Final

Yesterday was the second semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest. The final will take place tomorrow. It was overall a pretty good bunch, although neither Ireland nor Cyprus, both of whom I thought had really strong numbers, made the cut. Europeans have weird tastes.

The Latvian singer was jumping around the stage more or less in this position for the entire number. Although I have to give them props for resisting the temptation to sing in English. I can’t speak Russian but I thought I heard the word “kulak” so maybe the song was about the plight of wealthy farmers.

The lead singer/violinist from Norway is the frontrunner in the Eurovision Moustache Contest.

Before each song a transliterated Russian word was displayed along with its translation. I was completely stumped by this one before I checked the meaning in English.

Medved! MEDVED! That’s like…

Preved Medved! Speaking of John Lurie, the first Lounge Lizards album is so awesome.

Really, no Russian party would be complete without bears.

So I have this stereotype in my head of Serbs as being assholes which is, admittedly based more or less entirely on Gavrilo Princip and Slobadan Miloševi?, the only two Serbs I can name off the top of my head. After seeing this act though, I don’t know what to think.

The Hungarian singer having his clothes torn off. You could say they’re “Hungary for love!” Eh, eh? No? Oh well.

The Slovenian singer was behind this curtain for two thirds of the performance. When she finally emerged I disappointed and surprised at the fact that she was neither naked nor hideous, respectively.

Of the 25 countries competing in the final, 13 of them have never won, including Azerbaijan, a country nobody’s heard of (it’s one of the few Asian CIS members whose name doesn’t end in “-stan”). I hope their chief export is hot women like AySel (who’s only 20!!). If Azerbaijan does when it’ll be only the second or third time the winner isn’t pasty white.

Kids, this is what happens to you when you grow up in a godless country: green men molest you.

Roman centurions in hamster wheels are a common sight in the Ukrainian countryside.

“By the way, I’d like to tell you about the things you need to watch the Eurovision Song Contest. You need wide screen TV, you need laptop and you need a toaster. You need TV to watch, laptop to get the exclusive [unintelligle] access backstage to exclusive materials and the chance to get in toach with the fans of Eurovision, so go eurovision.tv and toaster… for making toast!” - Dmitriy Sheplev, Greenroom Reporter

He redeemed himself, however, with some good comments in the following press conference. Which was boring for the most part except when some asshole from the Netherlands asked the Moldovan party whether he would have to bring his own tent next year if Moldova won the contest (Moldova, of course, being one of the least developed countries in Europe). I didn’t catch her answer, which was in Moldovan (which is IDENTICAL to Romanian, but don’t tell that to a Moldovan).

Also during the press conference, they had multiple cameras going and this shot came on the screen and inexplicably lingered there for several seconds.

I’ve been stung by Cupid’s arrow. It’s official, I am going to marry this mascot woman. [Ed.—It seems her name is Ksenia Sukhinova and she's actually a year younger than I am. Oh and she was Miss World 2008.]

Eurovision 2009: First Semi-Final


HELLO! WE ARE RUSSIAN! ISN’T ZAT GREAT!

The obnoxious and unfunny hosts. I lol’d once though, when he described Israel’s entry as “the most political[ly] correct song” in the contest (the song is in English, Hebrew and Arabic and is performed as a duet between an Israeli Jew and an Israeli Arab).

And so begins Eurovision, or as she put it, “the most exciting European song battle of the year.” Which would suggest that “song battles” are a common occurrence in Europe.

The chameleon: she appears wearing a different hat and shirt for each upcoming performance. This is Belgium.


White City/Dome of the Rock/Menorah hats are very popular in Israel this time of year.


What more can I say that isn’t already painfully obvious, really? Oh, and the band’s name is also their website URL: gipsy.cz


I would mock them but there’s a chance this might be traditional Armenian religious garb.


What contest is complete without an angry Belgian Elvis? His song was, fittingly enough, entitled “Copycat.” I actually liked it but he didn’t qualify for the final.


Icelandic girl next store. God I love that country.


In trying to convince you to buy the CD and DVD he namedrops ABBA and Celine Dion, who are two of the only Eurovision winners (out of about fifty) who have gone on to have internationally successful careers. In Dion’s case it was almost a decade after her win so the connection is tenuous at best.  He also came up with this dynamite utterance: “We’re waiting for you, because without you we can’t wait.”


Legendary Russian musicians: Rimsky-Korsakov, Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich, t.A.T.u.
(At least Tchaikovsky’s homosexuality was legit.)


She’s such a tease.

So despite all my mocking and sarcasm I actually really enjoyed watching it. The Second Semi-Final is on right now, I’ll probably watch the replay later tonight: www.eurovision.tv