I Like Flags

Watching sport where there is more than one country involved gets me a bit excited… sometimes. Moreso when it’s something like the Olympics, or the World Cup (or Eurovison). I love watching sport. I love the excitement, the suspense, the booze and snacks…

I also love the flags.

(and the national anthems, but that’s another story)

Call me strange, but that kind of thing interests me. I like design. After watching yet another multinational tournament, I started to look up a few of the flags and found a whole new world (trying really hard not to burst into song here) of weird and wonderful flags of all nations.

I used to know all the European flags as a kid, after spending a good 6 months travelling around the continent. There isn’t much from Europe in this crop, but I did manage to come up with some of the more interesting, beautiful, ugly and slightly odd flags from around the world.

I’m possibly going to entertain nobody but myself here… but I’m kind of used to that, being an only child and all. If you want to play with me, you can come along. I don’t mind at all. I know I’m not the only geeky geek in the house…

I’ve narrowed it down to my Top 20.

It would be less, but I had enough trouble narrowing it down to this many.

So, without further ado…. and in no particular order….

BELIZE
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Aaaand first off the mark we have Belize. That wreath reminds me of one of those optical illusions where if you stare at the dot in the middle the circle starts moving around. Check it out! It’s moving! Except there is no dot in the middle.
What we have here is ebony and ivory working in perfect harmony… yet a bit apart. Or are they side by side? It says something about the country. They work the land. That’s what they do. Anyone got a problem with that? I don’t think you’d wanna fight those guys.. You might end up with a shovel in the head.

This flag also looks a bit like a corporate logo for a Latin American Kibbutz (?) Huhhh.

BAHRAIN
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Aww. It looks like the Burger King is having a bit of a nap. Other than that, I guess it’s quite striking, if a bit on the nautical side.

Sweet dreams, Burger King. When you wake, I’ll have a Whopper with cheese, add bacon. Thanks.

GEORGIA
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I’d love to live under this flag. It brings to mind all things medieval and knights of old. How wonderful. I also think it says, “Don’t fuck with us!”…and having met a few Georgian rugby players, I wouldn’t be doing anything of the sort.

GIBRALTAR
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Speaking of things medieval, come in Wizard of Id!

The King is a fink…!

How cool is that flag?

TUVALU
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One of the world’s smallest independant nations. A group of nine islands, smack bang in the middle of the Pacific. About halfway between Hawaii and Australia. So, if you’re ever trying to swim across, remember you have a rest stop. Isn’t that nice to know? I’m sure they have coconuts.

This flag makes me giggle every time I look at it because it looks like a drunk Aussie has tried to draw the Australian flag. Either that, or it’s the end result of a game of ‘Pin The Stars On The Southern Cross’…

ANTARCTICA
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Who knew that Antarctica has its own flag?

Part Rorsarch Ink Blot Test, part rhinoceros head…. you figure it out. The penguins must be pleased.

ANDORRA
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I like this one because it has moo cows on it. Any flag with moo cows on it is alright with me.

“Hello, we are from Andorra and we have cows”. Fantastic.

SWAZILAND
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Ah.. here we have Africa tapping into their rich visual heritage. It makes a strong statement about the country it’s representing. It’s a fine flag all ’round, but really I just like saying SWAZILAND.

Oh, and Richard E. Grant comes from Swaziland and Richard E. Grant rules. The end.

HONG KONG
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This flag must always be flown in conjunction with the Chinese flag and it’s not a Hibiscus flower, it’s a Bauhinia Blakensis. Okay? Good. I’m glad we’ve got that sorted. It is rather pretty though, don’t you think?

Can someone email this to Waldeck’s Garden Centre? I think they need a new logo.

LEBANON
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Ah, yes. I always think of lush, green trees when I think of Lebanon. Doesn’t everyone? An interesting, paradoxically peaceful symbol in a country that is effectively a bloody mess. I went there as a child and I don’t remember much except a lot of concrete and men with big guns.

I mean, I know the Cedar is native to Lebanon, but who are they trying to fool, exactly? Wishful thinking, perhaps…

GREENLAND
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I think this flag is hot. I dig it for it’s retro 60’s/70’s interior design sensibilities. It would make some fabulous wallpaper, no?

NEPAL
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Trust Nepal to think outside the square. The only national flag on the planet that isn’t a horizontal rectangle. They’re dancing to their own tune and it shows. Good on ya Nepal!

ISLE OF MAN
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Freaky freak show!! Haha! I LOVE this flag. This is my favourite. It has a sense of humour. How good is that? I also love that it’s rich in Anglo/Celtic mythology. Rock on.

TURKMENISTAN
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Just like the old Silk Road from Europe to Asia… or possibly a Persian carpet runner I once owned….

MYANMAR
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The country formerly known as Burma. They have corn! Is it corn? Does Burma grow a lot of corn? If they don’t grow a lot of corn, you’d have to wonder why the hell they have a head of corn on their flag … What’s all that about?

LESOTHO
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Hehe… The national emblem of Lesotho is a finger puppet. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I like finger puppets. Finger puppets are fun.

Either that, or the ol’ Rorsach Ink Blot Test is back…

KIRIBATI
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What’s this? Kiribati sinking beneath the waves of the Pacific due to the effects of Global Warming?

Oh, well. At least the bird looks like he’s having fun….

SAUDI ARABIA
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Does anyone here speak Arabic? So accessible, as you would kind of expect, really.

Oh, oh… I just took a crash course in Arabic. It is apparently the Muslim creed, “There is no god but God; Muhammed is the Messenger of God”. Consider yourself told.

TIBET
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I like this one. A little psychedelic, complete with oddly coloured sunbeams, swirls and spooky green monsters… and strangely asymmetrical with the unfinished yellow border…

Tibet’s flag is of course, due to its national state of limbo, unrecognised. I dunno, it looks pretty recognisable to me…

UGANDA
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A German (?) cock in Africa, from the country that gave us Idi Amin. There has to be some connection there. 500,000 dead Ugandan’s can’t be wrong…

Interesting that the recent film didn’t depict him feeding homosexual’s their own penises…. Or that he was stark raving bonkers due to a nasty case of Syphillis? Or did it? I didn’t see it..

So, there you have it.

So, go on…. tell me your favourite.

Or… have I just completely out-geeked myself? Hah!

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Ready, Set, EUROVISION!

Pop the champagne and fire up the popcorn maker…. it’s Eurovision!

A high-camp feast of musical mayhem and predictable political prejudices and persuasions. A boon for the bookmakers. An excuse for the European pop music community to drink copious amounts of alcohol and rub uglies. An opportunity for European dancers to grin maniacally and display their interpretive dancing skills. A chance for European set designers to let their penchant for garish colours and flashing lights run free. A night for female performers to wear costumes so brief and wispy so as to get a chill in their kidneys.

Not familiar with the Eurovision Song Contest? Abba had their big break when they won it back in the 70’s with their ostentasiously costumed rendition of ‘Waterloo’.

It is the highlight of my television viewing year. Better even, than the AFL Grand Final. 3 1/2 hours of laugh-til-your-cheeks-hurt, cringe-worthy bliss. This show is FUNNY. F.U.N.N.Y. Thanks, in large part to the wonderful commentary of British tv/radio icon Terry Wogan. Sardonic, dry, and very, very witty with his lovely lilting Irish accent. He ought to be good. He’s been commentating Eurovision for nearly 40 years…

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Every year, Eurovision unintentionally takes on a different theme. Most years at least 90% of the songs feature something in common. Last year just about every person on stage was wearing white. This year, was the year of gothic overtones and pyrotechnics, thanks to the stylings of last year’s winners, Lordi from Finland.

This is the video of Lordi’s winning performace from last year. So much fun. Watch. You won’t regret it. Hard Rock Hallelujah! [how they don’t all go up in flames towards the end, is still quite beyond me…]

Eurovision is watched by over 600 million people worldwide and has a cult following in Australia. We don’t take part in it, for obvious reasons, so we have no vested interest, but the people of Europe take it all terribly seriously, which is funny in itself. We just sit and laugh our boxes off at the supreme kitschness of it all and Sir Wogan’s witticisms.

There are heats and semi-finals in every country that takes part; it goes on and on for months, but the Grand Prix de Europe (er, Grand Final), is open to only 24 countries. The format of the show runs in two parts. First, all 24 countries perform their respective and universally puke-worthy songs. Second half of the programme is the vote. We’ll get to that part.

First, I’ll share some stills of a few choice acts chosen to represent their respective countries:

BULGARIA

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It’s the Bulgarian Sheila E and the Mulletman. Ok, his name isn’t really Mulletman, but he does have rather spectacular hair. It’s all about percussion…

UNITED KINGDOM

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Honestly. CAN they be serious? Just look at them. This lot make Bucks Fizz look like The Beatles. The UK are given a free pass to the Eurovision final every year, along with Germany, France and Spain. Their entries are almost universally TERRIBLE. The thing that concerns me most, is that the songs selected to represent each country are chosen by the general public… I thought Morrissey was supposed to get a gander this year? What happened?!

GERMANY

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Last year, Germany did a Country & Western song, complete with cowboy outfits. This year the flavour was Big Band Swing. In German. How very…. Brecht. Not.

BELARUS

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A chintzy pseudo rock song of the highest order, sung by a young man bearing an uncanny resemblance to Princess Diana. Complete with chorus:

Work your magic

You set my beating heart in motion

Will you cast your loving potion

Over me

I rest my case.

GEORGIA

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Georgia’s first ever Eurovision Grand Final appearance. It wasn’t half bad, either, if not a bit strange to look at. A couple of energetic, spinning Cossacks waving swords about and a pretty woman in a red dress, singing a kind of electro-goth anthem. I guess you had to be there….

MOLDOVA

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This is probably best illustrated by Terry Wogan’s introduction:

“There’s a lot of impetuous head-shaking and scarf-waving, and it’s the outfit of the evening, lads, from Natalia. Altogether now, when she’s finished playing the fiddle, I want you to shout….”PULL UP YOUR TROUSERS!!””

Then, when the song was over:

“We can only hope her mother wasn’t watching that.. [chuckles]. That was quite frightening…”

FORMER YUGOSLAV REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA

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Aren’t you glad you don’t live there? It would take you ten years just to say where you lived. I include this young lady, because she had the longest legs and shortest skirt of the evening, by a long shot. There was even a fairly decent shot of her arse at one point, which thrilled my husband no end. Gotta love those Eurobabes.

HUNGARY

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Hungary sings the blues. Maybe they are hung(a)ry? Ok, that was possibly the lamest joke ever uttered, even in the name of Eurovision., but that’s what it does to you. I swear.

Did I mention how wonderful this all looked on the 42″ inch Plasma? Fan-bloody-tastic.

The second half of the show is made up of the voting process, where they cross to 42 separate countries by satellite link to have a short chat and get the results of the telephone votes from the public, via some local tv celebrity. You’d think it would be quite torturous, but it’s actually very amusing. Partly because so many of the votes are so utterly predictable with neighbouring countries and political allies voting for each other, often with complete disregard to the quality of the act they’re voting for. Croatia gives top votes to Bosnia & Herzogovina and vice versa, Iceland votes for Finland, Moldova votes for Romania, Belarus for Russia, Cyprus for Greece… you get the picture. There was an even more apparent voting block going on this year between the Eastern European countries, not helped that there were two new additions to the fray.

Despite the bias and the accompanying tutting and pffting, it all seems to work out in the end.

What really tickles me is that the poor old UK, France and Germany really don’t have any friends to give them the big points, so they just pick up the odd stray vote along the way. Everybody say “awwwwwww”, heh.

SERBIA

This year, Serbia came out on top, by a fairly decent margin with a heart wrenching power ballad to rival all power ballads, sung by a bunch of women in drag, looking like refugees from the island of Lesbos who all seem to have had a nasty accident with the same curling iron:

UKRAINE

… but this is who should have won! If you only watch one of these videos, make it Verka! Hilarious! I’m in love. I want to have his babies. It’s taken me so long to put this blog up because I’ve spent most of the week so far watching Verka videos on YouTube. Best Eurovision song, EVER. It even gives Lordi a run for their money…. WATCH IT. I dare you! [titter]

Only in Europe, could millions of people vote a bunch of women in drag, and a cross dressing man into first and second place in such a political minefield of a song contest. I love it.

So, that pretty much wraps up Eurovision for another year. There were more videos I wanted to include, and if you want to see more, there are loads of great, chuckle-worthy performances on YouTube.

Serbia – 268

Ireland – 5

Oh, stuff it. Here’s one more. This is Switzerland’s entry which didn’t make it past the Semi Final, even though it was tipped as a hot favourite. It cracks me up. The artist is DJ Bobo (which is funny in itself), and the song is…. well, quite surreal. ‘Vampires Are Alive”. Just see it for yourself. Personally I’m quite fond of the shop mannequins in the background.

If you still can’t get enough, check out this blog here. It’s a cracker and it was written by an American who has never felt the sheer elation that a Eurovision final can bring, yet still manages to intrinsically appreciate the supreme cheesiness of it all.  😉

Song Of The Day – Verka Serduchka – Dancing Lasha Tumbai