EurovisionI don't follow Eurovision at all really. I feel a little guilty about this because it has cultural/social significance in Europe, but in all honesty, it's one of the few things about Europe that I do not get. I understand it's sort of like 'American Idol Olympics', but it has no resonance to me whatsoever. I feel like I get a pass on one thing for Europe and I'll take it on Eurovision. I also realized yesterday how many Macedonians I follow when they flooded the Twittersphere with support. I'm not against it, but I prefer not to really engage in it. Azerbaijan held the contest last year despite well-deserved reservations, but I think that in the long-term, this will be seen as a great decision. If you look at a list of the host cities, this is an overwhelming number of 'western' nations on there, so I think it's important to reach out to other countries that aren't the hottest topic/strongest geopolitical influence. Azerbaijan has a lot of work ahead of it, but the tolerance promoted in Eurovision is like the Olympics. It should be apolitical despite its political significance and bring those values to the forefront in places where they aren't promoted. Anyway, I'm only kind of sorry I don't really care.
BulgariaYeah, this went pretty much as expected and the onlookers seem a little disappointed. Some reports made it sound like Illinois/Chicago politics on steroids, aka the complete stereotype of corruption
in eastern Europe. GERB's slight margin isn't going to help anything and the really, really tense atmosphere (in addition to international and domestic pressure) is making it hard for anything to be speculated. There is talk of the "Bulgarian Mario Monti", Plamen Oresharski, which makes me shake my head at the technocratic attitude. This is definitely a subject that will circulate in the news for the next month.
LithuaniaShout out to Lithuania poised to take the EU Presidency! They released the flag they're going to use. I was excited when Poland was at the helm, too. I think the 'outlying' nations have a lot to add to the supranational organization and it's exciting to see what they do with the platform.
HungaryI'm getting really tired of your shit, Orbán. I love Hungary. A lot. I champion Hungary everywhere I go and with anyone I meet. The past few years have me feeling ugh. Hungary is like the cool friend you talked about to everyone, saying they'd meet him soon, and then you started inviting your cool friend to parties. Things were okay, people were getting along even though they weren't totally clicking. Then suddenly your cool friend turns into a dick and you're pretty embarrassed you ever said cool things about him. You want to gently tell him that they need to cut that out and play as a team, but anytime you try to have an adult conversation, he starts telling you that you're acting like his parents. You can't control me! he bellows and storms out. But he keeps showing up at your parties, with a thin veneer of veiled hatred. And that sums up the experience pretty well, I think.
Other NewsEverything else was taxes, finances, and fiscal policy.
Look At What I Found!You can read along with me: WE by Yevgeny Zamyatin (written in the 1920s in the USSR and the grandfather of dystopian sci-fi. Thank Russia, right now) which was suggested by Filip Stojanovski; and my next tackle is László Krasznahorkai's Sátántangó. I can't express my sorrow that I can't read it in Hungarian. :(
The documentary "The Palace" about the Joseph Stalin Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw. It's going on the wish list of "OMG how will I find a showing/rental of this film?"
"Tractor Drivers" on Obskura - I was laughing a lot at this because the title is so Soviet I can't control myself, it's the epitome of cultural propoganda, and Krushchev went to great lengths to remove Stalin's presence from the entire movie (not an easy feat!).
Obskura hit it out of the park with this Estonian animation "Pőrgu", which is like a colorless vision of what I imagine a drug induced state would be like.
Polish artist Adam Martinakis' surreal artistry.
This is such a beautiful picture of Lake Ohrid in Macedonia. I need this as a big print on my wall.
If Cold War history is too complicated/not interesting enough, I'll leave it to Mean Girls to explain it.
I went a little Twitter crazy when I found Fuck Yeah Hungary's Tumblr. I am in serious Magyar nostalgia mode right now.
And finally: WTF IS THIS BULLSHIT. MISINFORMATION!! CONSTANT SURVEILLANCE/CENSORSHIP, SYSTEMATIC POVERTY, AND CENTRALIZED INDUSTRY WERE NOT THAT SUPER GREAT. IT CANNOT BE A PARADISE! CHOOSE A DIFFERENCE WORD! A DIFFERENT PHRASE! ANYTHING! IT TOTALLY WAS A STASI HELL - I'VE TALKED TO PEOPLE WHO WERE SPIED ON. phew