The Friday Five: Top 5 Songs from this year’s Eurovision Song Contest


It’s been a busy couple of days, and I’m just now getting to this. I know you’ve been waiting with bated breath for what today’s theme might be. I think you’ll enjoy this.

The Eurovision Song Contest is the longest-running annual TV song contest, with mostly member countries of the European Broadcasting Union participating. It started in 1956, as I did, and the one held this past May was the 60th running of it. This year’s contest was held in Vienna, Austria, where last year’s winner, Conchita Wurst, comes from. Entries came from 40 countries (39 from Europe, plus Australia). The rundown on this year’s contest is on the official site, including a full list of participants and the final results. I tried to figure out, if there were two rounds of semifinals and each round selected ten finalists, why there were 27 finalists, and it made my brain hurt. If someone can figure it out, let me know.

This playlist counts down the top 5, in reverse order, kind of like Casey Kasem and “American Top 40.”

  • 5th Place: Guy Sebastian (Australia), “Tonight Again”
  • 4th Place: Loïc Nottet (Belgium), “Rhythm Inside”
  • 3rd Place: Il Volo (Italy), “Grande Amore” (the only song in the Top 5 not in English)
  • 2nd Place: Polina Gagarina (Russia), “A Million Voices”
  • 1st Place: Måns Zemerlöw (Sweden), “Heroes”

So, there’s your Friday Five for November 13, 2015, which also happens to be my brother Kip’s birthday. Happy birthday, Kippy!


Z (#atozchallenge)

So, here we are at the end of the A to Z Challenge for 2015, and at the end of the alphabet with the letter Z, known as “zed” in much of the rest of world.

Z is the name of a 1969 French Algerian movie starring Yves Montand and Irene Papas, directed by the Greek director Costa-Gavras, music by Mikis Theodorakis, adapted from the novel of the same name by Vasilis Vasilikos. IMDb’s logline says “Following the murder of a prominent leftist, an investigator tries to uncover the truth while government officials attempt to cover up their roles.” The whole movie is available on YouTube with English subtitles, broken into 13 pieces. I had a hard time following it, even with the subtitles; maybe you’ll have better luck. Roger Ebert, who had started at the Chicago Sun-Times not long before, proclaimed it the best movie of 1969.


Z, especially three Z’s over the figure of a person lying in bed or with his head on a desk, is a way of indicating that the person is asleep. There might be more than three Z’s, indicating that the person is deep asleep. You might also see a string of Z’s that indicates a pesky flying insect is bothering the hero of a comic.


Remember the old telephone directories? People would go out of their way to be listed either first or last in the phone book. To get listed first, you would precede your name by a string of A’s, as in AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHolton, and to get it listed last, you would have yourself listed as a person whose last name started with a string of Z’s. For years, the last person listed in the Chicago White Pages directory was a man who went by the name of Zeke Zzzzypt. He held the distinction for several years, until Zach Zzzzyzzzzy came along.

Well, that does it for me for this year’s A to Z Challenge. I’ve enjoyed myself tremendously. This was, as I think I mentioned, my first year as a co-host for the Challenge, and I want to thank Arlee and Alex and all the other co-hosts for letting me come in and play with them. I’d also like to thank my minions for the fine job they did checking the blogs that were assigned to me, and for being good people.

And, this wouldn’t be one of the coolest challenges on the entire Internet if it weren’t for people like you, who did as I did and posted 26 entries this month, starting with A on the 1st and ending with Z on the 30th, and who came by and visited and made some excellent comments that made me laugh and made me think. I hope that you will continue to visit me here at The Sound of One Hand Typing or on the simulcast blog, The Sound of One Hand Typing FM. I post at least once a day, and as you might have noticed, I have a few regular features here. Thanks for your support!

XBOX (#atozchallenge)

Everything I know about gaming systems I learned on The Big Bang Theory, especially the episode in which Sheldon drove everyone (mostly himself) crazy over whether to get an XBOX One or an XBOX 360. All I know is, by the time he had more or less made up his mind, the store was closed and Amy had to walk him out as he was babbling incoherently about the advantages of one system versus the other.


The professors on that show seem to spend a lot of time playing on one gaming system or another, so it’s hard not to learn about them by osmosis. I know that the XBOX is Microsoft’s entry into the gaming system war, if that’s what you call it, and its competitors are Nintendo’s Wii and Sony’s Playstation. There are probably others, but those are the three that appear to be the big players.

For the same reason I type with one hand, I would find any video game system frustrating, since the controllers for them require two hands. Besides, video games are really not my thing; my preferences are for quieter games, like solitaire and working sudoku and crossword puzzles. Occasionally I’ll find an interesting game, such as 2048 or Two Dots, but those don’t involve things scampering around the screen and explosions and the like. Guess that makes me an old fart, but there you go.

So, how about it? Are any of you video game system fans, and if so, which is your favorite?

WTTW (#atozchallenge)


“This is Eleven… WTTW, public television for Chicago.”

When I was seven years old, my aunt Bitsy (who was 15 or 16) and I spent a weekend with Mom’s aunt Cash. When Cash asked what I wanted to do, I told her I wanted to see the WGN-TV transmitter at the Prudential Building (then the tallest building in Chicago) and the studio for WTTW, then at the Museum of Science and Industry. I guess she was so impressed that I knew where these things were that we went to both places, and I got a chance to see both of them. I guess even then I was into TV.

WTTW was the educational station in Chicago. It was on for maybe four hours a day, and they broadcast college classes and very dull documentaries in that time. PBS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting were still a few years away, so they had to come up with what programming they could.

Once PBS was in place in the early 1970’s, WTTW started to live up to its nickname, “Window To The World.” Great documentaries, music programs, and some interesting programs produced locally. In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, it was the place to be on Sunday nights, because they would show Monty Python’s Flying Circus, The Two Ronnies, Dave Allen At Large, and Doctor Who. Soundstage, which featured musical acts in concert in the studio, was produced at WTTW; its first show featured Muddy Waters. Any time the networks didn’t have anything worth watching, WTTW was always a viable option.

Here is their signoff from Christmas day, no idea what the year was, courtesy The Museum of Classic Chicago Television.

Also from The MCCTv comes this example of hacking, 1980’s style. On Sunday, November 22, 1987, a video pirate broke into WTTW’s broadcast of Doctor Who and played “Max Headroom.”

Public TV continues to thrive, even in these days of hundreds of cable channels and networks. Guess that’s what happens when someone decides to put quality over quantity. Except for Max Headroom…