Melodifestivalen – it’s starting again, isn’t it?

2 year old Vincent doing Loreen’s “Euphoria” has been selected to become the official promo trailer for Melodifestivalen 2013.

As I watched it through tears I realised “oh god, it’s about to happen all over again, isn’t it?” Three months lost obsessing over the selection process to decide who will represent Sweden at the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest.

And hoping it will be something wonderful like “Euphoria” and not an abortion like 2010’s “This Is My Life” by Anna Bergendahl.

Waiting for someone in Sweden to upload each of the semi-finals to some illegal file sharing site so that here, on the other side of the world, we can download it and watch it in the privacy of our own homes and share in the excitement.

For my flatmate it means getting up at 5am and putting headphones on and staring at a small computer monitor watching the whole thing live on SVT’s website…internet stuttering and all!

And then there’s the purchase of the Melodifestivalen CD and DVD and the individual download purchases of songs we love. Not to mention the discovery of new “favourites” who will ensure we have to spend our hard earned cash on Swedish mail-order websites to buy their CDs.

It is a whole process that just takes over for a few months at the beginning of every year. For me, it has become far more important than the Eurovision Song Contest. For the last few years most of the “new music” I have purchased has come from Sweden and from artists in Melodifestivalen.

Like 2 year old Vincent – god love him – we’re about to go “up, up, up, up, up” all over again.

2013 Melodifestival Official Promo with Vincent

2013 Melodifestival Official Promo with Vincent

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Virgin Australia – whatever you’re on, can I have some???

Virgin Australia make flying easy

Virgin Australia make flying easy

Now look here Virgin Australia (aka Virgin Blue), what’s going on?

I’ve just had two fabulous, peaceful, friendly, efficient flights with you in the space of a week! Are you on something????

My Christmas holiday began with a godawful Qantas International Flight from Sydney to Adelaide on QF81 (20 Dec). Arghhh! We were herded into a departure gate area that comfortable fit about 60 people…all 200+ of us were expected to fit. The flight was due to leave just after 12noon but boarding wasn’t due to begin until 11.45am. Who the hell does that? The gate staff were pfaffing around talking to each other and basically being rude to anyone who went up to them and asked if they could board/why they couldn’t board etc. They even sent a couple of business class passengers away – twice! I was gobsmacked.

They made an occasional rude announcement telling us to relax and take a seat. The only thing is that 100-150 of us couldn’t take a seat because they were all occupied. It was almost like a send up of the Qantas we all know and hate: badly organised, inadequate facilities and rude staff treating passengers like garbage.

The flight was the same. 1 set of crew each side to serve an almost full A330 plane. My travel companion and I didn’t get served anything until more than half the elapsed flying time to Adelaide. The service was shoddy and indifferent. There was one older, bald guy serving who was amusing and polite. The rest were little better than department store dummies.

Not being able to have even a cup of water for so long his really annoyed us because the plane took off half an hour late (they were still boarding when the departure time came and went). No explanations why. As we left the plane I thought “oh those poor bastards who will be on this plane for another 7-8 hours for the flight to Singapore!”

Anyway, it was a good reinforcement to not fly Qantas wherever possible.

But back to Virgin….

We checked in at Adelaide – or Bag Dropped-Off – in the morning for an late afternoon flight and the check in lady couldn’t be nicer. She changed our seats, reprinted our boarding passes and made us feel quite valued! Then the actual flight from Adelaide to Melbourne was terrific. Fast, great smiles and friendly service. They came around with the trolley in good time and were all happy, happy, joy. joy. We bought drinks and food and parted with the credit cards without any concern 🙂

Arrival at Melbourne was also fab – bags off quickly and we jumped into the Skybus and were in town before we knew it!

I thought “oh well, pretty good but probably a one-off.”

But last Monday afternoon, after a week’s holiday in Melbourne, we experienced the same thing – fun, friendly check-in (or Bag-Drop-Off) staff member. Then boarding was smooth and the service on board was also good. The only thing of concern that was, in row 6, with the purple plastic barriers of business class in our way, there was no way we could see any of the safety demonstration. All we saw was the top of the cabin crew member’s head as she stood in business class and did the demonstration.

Overall, we loved the flight. It landed on time or early and the bags didn’t take forever to arrive either.

Two for two!

I have had good Virgin flights before but I’ve had some bad ones. Where the staff thought they were in “Australia’s Next Top Model.” But I think something has changed – consistency is the word that keeps coming to mind. To have one good flight is excellent – but receiving a consistently good level of service is what you want as a traveller. And Virgin Australia seem to be providing that.

The 737-700 and 737-800 we flew on both were modern and clean and did not feel claustro as far as leg room is concerned. That is another big plus.

Anyway, I just had to share…I used to love flying sooo much then Qantas and British Airways turned into card carrying c*nts and it all got ugly and unattractive. I really hope Virgin Australia continues to make it enjoyable again. It’s not just getting from Point A to Point B like in a bus. It’s F-L-Y-I-N-G – it should be a great experience!

 

 

MYKI is tricky and dicky!

Melbourne's MYKI system is a farce

Melbourne’s MYKI system is a farce

I’ve just spent a week in Melbourne on holiday trying to come to terms with MYKI – the new ticketing system for their public transport system. OMG….it is a pain in the arse!!!!

Firstly, there were supposed to be tourist packs available but there weren’t when I decided to travel. I eventually bought a MYKI card – no actual fare value on it – for $6 at a 7/11. I then topped it up with another $10. I think the $6 thing is an absolute rip-off. You have to buy this card but it isn’t worth anything. As Liza would say “Tahhhhrifffficcc!!”

Then you can’t register the card on line for 24 hours – I have no idea why – it is all supposed to computerised and they’ve spent over 1 billion dollars to set it all up. Then, after 24 hours, when you finally are able to register, it then takes up to 4 hours to receive an email that everything is completed and active. What is this, the 1960s????

Even when you do register – which you need to do to keep track of what you’ve spent what they’ve charged you, top up on line etc. – any time you use your MYKI card to go on a bus or a tram or a train, it doesn’t show up in your account on the website for a day or so. How f*cking useless is that?

But the absolutely piece-of-resistance is this: trying to touch on and off. What a farce!!! In all the times I used MYKI my tap on or tap off only registered first time correctly ONCE. Every other time it felt like being a failed magician – the ‘trick’ of touching on or off just didn’t work. I had to try and try and try again – and I saw others in the same predicament. I’ve used Oyster Card in London and that city has about eleventyzillion more commuters than Melbourne and tapping on and off works fast and efficiently. Did Melbourne spend a billion dollars plus on a $2-Shop version of a ticketing system???

And then we have the “when do I touch off” dilemma. It was hilarious watching the discussions of frustrated transport users about this. In fact, you don’t have to “touch off” if you’ve been travelling only in Zone 1 and are exiting a tram in Zone 1. This doesn’t apply to trains or buses. Of course if you’re catching a tram for a journey solely in Zone 2, you must both touch on and off! Oh my god how it confuses people. And then there’s the question of Zones. No-one I heard discussing it, actually knew what was Zone 1 and what was Zone 2. And don’t even mention poor old tourists like me! I was more confused after reading the multi-paged MYKI brochure that I was at the start.

And you can forget about getting a cheap fare if you’re just going a couple of stops on the tram. No, under the MYKI system please pay for a full two-hour fare no matter what!

So MYKI is a system two Governments have approved and signed up for. And despite similar systems working well around the world, Melbourne & Victoria seem to have signed up for “Brand X” model!

Oi vey!

The ABC has gone to hell

There’s a new website http://abcgonetohell.net/document-your-abc-complaint/ that has been created for people to report instances of the extreme right-wing bias that the ABC, particularly ABC-TV, has been displaying for a long time now.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation used to be the one shining beacon of fairness and sanity in the increasingly Goebbels-esque media world of News Limited, Fairfax and right-wing talkback shock-jock radio. Over the last couple of years it has swung madly to the right to the point of deliberately slanting stories that promote the conservative parties and minimising or ignoring anything positive that the Labor Government achieves. And there have been many achievements.

You expect this from News Ltd or Alan Jones but not from our taxpayer funded Government broadcaster. So called “Journalists” like Latika Bourke have become active conservative party promoters making a mockery of so called fair ABC editorial policies.

I became increasingly dismayed then shocked and now I’m just plain angry. Enough really is enough. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation is now working against the welfare and interests of ordinary Australians. There are a number of theories why – to do with Mark Scott, head of the ABC or perhaps, more realistically, the terror felt by ABC staff at the possibility of having funding dramatically cut or being privatised by a future conservative Government. And our current Labor Government is doing nothing about addressing the right-wing bias. Pretty much the same as they’ve failed to defend themselves effectively anywhere in the wider ultra-right media landscape.

Document your complaint against the right-wing bias of the ABC

The ABC has gone to hell

The other thing that angers me is that I now have to seek out and find websites, bloggers and twitterers to actually find out what’s really going on in Australia. It is great that there are people and websites out there on the internet that do cut through the lies and bias of the conservatives and the ABC…but why should I have to go seeking them out. We already have a supposed fair and fearless public broadcaster. Why isn’t that reporting the truth?

I’m beginning to think that the situation is irreversible and maybe it would be just as well to privatise the ABC. But what a horrible state of affairs to actually contemplate that?

Anyway, check out the site linked above and also have a look at http://www.independentaustralia.net/ – a good resource for seeing behind the right-wing spin.