by Mary Linton Peters and Stephen Peters
Problem: Thanksgiving Town/​New Year’s Town

The commentary between two people is discussing two different kinds of annual international competition—the Miss Universe pageant, and the Eurovision Song Contest.

The “bitter kittens” in the title is a reference to fans of Tom & Lorenzo, a pair of fashion bloggers who comment on the annual Miss Universe pageant on their website. The female commentator’s interjected comments largely consist of direct quotes from T&L referencing one of the Miss Universe entrants from a country in a particular year.

The male commentator is describing a Eurovision final performance from the same country, but in a different year. By finding the difference in the two years, and using it as an index into the song title, solvers can spell out the final answer, UNFORGIVEN.

Country Miss Univ. Yr. Eurov. Yr. Δ Video Song Title Letter
France 2017 2014 3 link Moustache U
Iceland 2016 2011 5 link Coming Home N
Denmark 2015 2000 15 link Fly on the Wings of Love F
Sweden 2017 2012 5 link Euphoria O
Georgia 2015 2007 8 link Visionary Dream R
Israel 2016 2015 1 link Golden Boy G
Romania 2017 2012 5 link Zaleilah I
Germany 2010 2002 8 link I Can’t Live Without Music V
Turkey 2015 2005 10 link Rimi Rimi Ley E
Slovenia 2014 2002 12 link Samo Ljubezen N

Script of Audio

A:Good evening! Welcome to our annual live finale of this year’s competition. It’s so interesting to see the broad tapestry of European culture and costume, song and dance, performed live for such an enthusiastic audience.
B:Sure. They just want to see hot chicks in skimpy outfits. This kind of pageantry is embarrassingly dated.
A:Now, now, none of your negativity. I know some of the song titles can be a bit cliché, but the differences year-to-year between each country’s entries are fascinating, absolutely fascinating.
B:Oh, whatever. I will continue to provide the fabulous and opinionated commentary expected under the terms of my contract, even for this event, because I am a professional.
A:OK! So here’s our first entry! And we’re starting with a very high energy number with such a distinctive look. As we zoom in you can see the band members. Interesting, you don’t often see references to Ed Grimley these days. I’m not sure why the lead guitarist is shirtless, but I have to say, I approve. They do seem very enthusiastic about personal grooming, this group. Also, I think it’s helpful that they put the title of their song on the screens during the chorus so we don’t forget them when it comes time to vote.
B:Hmph, this thing is so gaudy. It’s like Liberté, égalité, sparklé!
A:Well, now we’re in the slower bridge of the song, with dark blue mood lighting, maybe that is more your speed. (Although I’m not quite sure why the graphics are throbbing, but it’s got a certain… I don’t know...something.) And we finish out with the bright neon colors so typical of this group. What a great performance to kick things off!
A:Up next, a change of pace and a throwback to an easier time. It’s like the Smothers Brothers gained four more brothers, moved northeast, and started a band. Unfortunately, the baggage restriction on budget airlines is so tight these days apparently they could only afford to ship 3 pieces of their drum kit here for the finals. They are using a fascinating backdrop, sort of aboriginal steampunk...or something...
B:Oh c’mon, it’s all ridiculous nationalism. It’s like “My flag stands proud! My flag stands bold! My flag is attacking me! SOMEONE HELP ME!”
A:Aw, a kiss on the cheek, how sweet. They are all so very pale and so very earnest. I think they really can’t wait until tomorrow, and they probably do think that love is you. A big round of applause for the 1960s, folks.
A:And here we have a double act, coming out with their guitars to the applause of the crowd. Oh look, the whole world’s behind them. And the moon, apparently. I admit I’m not quite sure what the guy on the left contributes to this song, or the four stealthily concealed backup singers, but the lead singer seems very pleased to be here. And he’s found the camera! Hello, sir, we see you, too. And there’s Jupiter! I think they are using a very literal representation of their lyrics in the graphics.
B:Please, if they wanted to be literal there would be birds. Dead geese show that we are valued and respected.
A:Oh, they’ve broken out the autotuning, that’s always a good sign. And we return to earth for the final verse, closing with the rhythmic clapping of the now slightly more visible backup singers.
A:Our next singer is revealed, barefoot in a gorgeous robe, her hair blowing in the breeze. Quite a lot of breeze, really, I think the wind machine is a little overexcited. Her choreography is a very interesting, quasi-nouveau-tai chi? And just look at the pretty sparkling fake snow showering down.
B:It’s like a choreographed depiction of their most famous folk tale, ‘The Runway Model and the IKEA Tchotchke,’ which ends sadly, tragically, and soaked in blood.
A:Oh my, that man came out of nowhere, that is very surprising, and this is now some sort of semi-violent pas de deux. She’s certainly happy about it, though, and in the end seems to have conquered her dance partner.
A:Our next singer steps forward to the sound of drums, in a beautiful red dress, a slinky lounge singer here to entertain and cajole. Her backing dancers, however, well they seem to be extras from a community production of Fiddler on the Roof. You have to love their commitment, though!
B:Arise, my big-skirted sisters! ARISE AND TAKE BACK THE WORLD FROM MEN.
A:Oh my God! We’ve given them swords! That’s a bad idea. You don’t often combine pop music and martial arts. There may be a reason. And we have fire! Pyrotechnics, swords, spinning, belting high notes, this number has everything. Maybe it should give some of it back. I’m going to need a rest after this excitement.
A:Oh, good, a nice quiet ballad, and a rather dignified-looking male lead singer. I’m not quite sure why his shoes are gold. Do they have wings on them? Oh, wow, they do. Is that a reference of some kind?
B:Look, this whole thing is here to remind you that all of this arises out of an ancient story that positions women both as the ultimate in beauty and the ultimate in temptation and evil, which naturally led to millennia of subjugation and devaluation.
A:Enough philosophy. We have backup dancers! And more pyrotechnics! Flashing lights! Can we just leave the politics aside? Ooh, look, we’ve gotten two more backup dancers, are they creating them through asexual budding back there? This is fabulous!
A:Speaking of fabulous, our next number has a moonwalking bagpiper. A Valentine’s Day moonwalking bagpiper. C’mon, that’s just amazing. And the lead singer looks fabulous in that little red peignoir.
B:Yeah, well, this country produces 78% of the slutty costume aisle at your CVS every Halloween.
A:Don’t be so cynical. Their french horn is so happy to be here it’s sprouted additional horns. And I always appreciate a band that doesn’t feel obliged to actually play their instruments. Which, considering the bagpipes and the accordion, is really a gift to us all. Just don’t get those fake instruments caught in the fire, boys.
A:Here’s our next act, an all-female group with a lead singer who honestly looks like nothing so much as the love child of Eddie Izzard and Jennifer Saunders, complete with tiny red glasses. I’m not quite sure what she’s wearing under that coat.
B:Hmm. It’s an adorable dress, and we get that it’s a take on folk dancing costumes, but it reads a little too much like, well, just a pretty dress. You should have beer steins over your boobs or something.
A:...okay… Look, it’s better than the backup dancers, who sort of look like a female Village People. That’s a lot of pleather on one stage. Unfortunately they can seem to live with being quite off-key. And wow, that’s kind of a disturbing final lyric. I sort of hope she doesn’t understand the English translation.
A:Next up, we open with a closeup of a traditionally customed male drummer, and pull back to see the whole fabulously dressed group. That’s a lot of fabric, a lot of tassels, and a lot of excitement. And for some reason there are random cocktail tables in the back there.
B:This whole thing seems to be set in a theme restaurant. I feel like that costume just screams “On the back of my skirt, you can read today’s menu specials, which include your choice of a cup of soup or a side salad with every meal.”
A:Those aren’t tables, those are drums! You know, I don’t remember belly dancing having so many kicks and lifts, but it sure does look fun. And unlike some groups that choose to use actual fire, they’ve just dressed like fire.
A:Okay. Our final number, and I think I must have had too much to drink at the opening reception, because I swear those are flight attendants. Sparkly flight attendants. This is the weirdest safety announcement ever. Oh! The cockpit crew are the backup singers! Am I tripping?
B:Just wait for the first-class crew to enter. “Come to our country, where we always make sure your bottles are the cleanest.”
A:Why are they wearing sequined livers on their heads? Really, why are they doing any of this? I just no longer know. And thank you for flying Air Inexplicable.
A:Well, it’s been another fabulous year of bright, bold, exciting acts, with random fire. Exactly what you’ve come to expect.
B:So, where’s the afterparty? Open bar, I assume. Or was that the pre-party?
A:It’s both. Come back next year, and thank you for supporting this year’s display of national pride as expressed through hideous costuming and dubious musical numbers!