It was all worth it. Packing, moving, leaving my jobs, my apartment, and my home country- all of it. Because I have seen the light. I have found something brilliant, something dazzling. The void in my soul, heretofore inexplicable, has been filled, its mystery unraveled. I know what I have been missing all this time, why I could never be completely happy. And I can tell you now what it was, in one simple word. It's a word I had heard previously in passing, but I never really knew its meaning. (No, I am not talking about crumpets, though I could write an equally adulating bit of prose about those-- amazing little syrup-permeable English ambassadors that they are.) What is it- this thing that my soul cried out for, that I would wait 30 long years to know and to understand? In a word, Eurovision. That's right. The Eurovision Song Contest. Brilliance. Sheer brilliance. I can't think of another way to put it. All of the adjectives I can muster seem inadequate. And, I regret to inform, that it seems it must be seen to be believed. And you've missed it. But I saw it, and believe me when I say that I am forever changed! =) Okay, so what is it, this Eurovision? Well, it's a contest where each European country gets to submit one song, basically, and there's an enormous final- a raucous and over-the-top affair characterised by campy music, dizzying light displays, and nutty costumes, where they all get together and perform their songs and all the people of Europe vote for the winner. It's fantastic. Confused? Learn the basic rules. One of the best things about the UK broadcast of the show has to be the wry commentary, provided by Sir Terry Wogan, who is terribly rude at times, but hilarious! I enjoyed my first official Eurovision experience at a party thrown by a couple of Gordon's friends. I didn't know anyone there, but we were quickly bonded by the international spirit and the frenzied emotions brought about by this unique and fantastic event. =) It's amazing how much I have missed, but my hostess and her friends were veritable founts of Eurovision knowledge! They taught me, for instance, that Celine Dion had actually represented Switzerland in 1988 and won! And that Katrina and the Waves (who used to walk on sunshine in the 80's) came back and won for the UK in 1997. Who woulda thunk? They seemed to know just about everything there was to know about the contest's history; they could quote Terry's commentary from years past, and could sing along with every song when they flashed back to clips from decades ago. I was amazed at their ability to sing along with this year's entries, regardless of language (having purchased the cd's in advance) and to predict to whom exactly each country would give it's highest scores. Amazing. Where have I been all of these years?! How could I have missed all of this?! Never again, my friends. Much to Gordon's dismay, I have bought this year's cd set and shall definitely be tuning in again next year- no matter where I'm living! :o Now, I have not been able to locate much footage of the finals online, but I did find this gem from the Ukraine, one of the highest scoring groups on my personal scorecard. (Yes, we had scorecards at the party with categories ranging from best gratuitous key change to weirdest lyrics or costumes- extra points for wardrobe malfunctions, along with a rousing game of Pin the Tail on Macedonia. Quite the shindig!) Other favourites included the entries from the UK, Greece, France, and Sweden, none of which actually did very well in the official voting. The Ukraine actually did quite well, but they were sadly kept in second place by the unimpressive ballad-y entry from Serbia, to my surprise. The western countries did quite poorly on the whole, and there are quite a few rumours going around about some kind of corrupt Eastern European "block voting" practices, the details of which I do not yet understand... Anyhow, Eurovision may have its critics, but I found it fantastic! Many thanks to Craig and Kate for inviting an ignorant stranger to the party of the year (and for making vegan chili)! And for those of you in the States who can't be here to enjoy this, don't worry- I'm "Flying the Flag (For You)!"