Two birthdays

Happy 7th birthday to mee!! I mean, to CultureWitch. I know my readers are whispering in the ranks and saying she’s been even lazier this past year. It just looks like that. Other things have got done, just not so much culture.

Gibbs

And as for the 64-year-old Mark Harmon, we hope he is alive and well as Leroy Jethro Gibbs. I don’t think it should be time for him to leave just yet. In fact, the retirement age has gone up in many countries, and if Mark is to take a leaf out of David McCallum’s book, he can’t leave now. Happy Birthday to Mark as well!

Is Gibbs late late?

On the Late Late Show with James Corden on the eve of the NCIS season 12 finale, Mark Harmon claims he’s as replaceable as anyone else. In one way, obviously yes. In another, probably not.

Mark Harmon on the Late Late Show

I only watched the Late Late Show after the episode of NCIS they talked about, and James Corden is clearly not a fan or he’d know what he was saying. But they mention that a popular character is killed. Mark Harmon wouldn’t say who. In which case they weren’t referring to Dorneget, who had already died. The only much loved character in any danger in episode 24 was Gibbs.

Ergo, they might have meant Gibbs died. But you don’t expect the lead actor to go, and Mark was talking much like he has in the past.

But re-watching the end of the episode, you can’t see how it can be anyone else, or that he’ll survive.

On the other hand, CBS appetisers for the new season start in September tells us Gibbs is being operated on as the others do what they have to do. This suggests he’ll live, more likely than not. And that is what you have come to expect from popular fiction on television.

So who were they referring to in the James Corden interview? Someone is wrong. If you’re having an operation, you are not already dead. Gibbs might be destined to be ‘late’ but not in season 12.

(Screen cap © CBS)

We met by Picasso

It felt like something straight out of a Gyllene Tider song. I did wait by Picasso, and we were indeed in the same small town Per Gessle sings about in Småstad. That’s because singer Lena Andersson and I grew up in the same small town as Per, and my suggestion that Lena and I should meet by Picasso was more a matter of practicality, than me being clever. It’s a big statue, there are seats to sit on (I am old) and it’s across the street from the church café that I felt might be a good place for some ‘fika.’

And had it not been for my plumber who phoned me on my mobile to ask where to send his invoice, then the local radio station would have lost its star turn for the day. Lena is back in Sweden this summer to stage a come-back, and she has been interviewed by everyone, everywere. During two months she will have covered great parts of the country and she will have sung in lots of places and been interviewed in many more.

So while I was spelling my address out to the plumber, Lena got her phone out and looked at text messages – as you do – and discovered that she needed to get her skates on to get to an almost forgotten about live radio interview on time. In fact, she couldn’t make it to the original venue (her parents’ balcony), so quickly switched to a nearby park, as she’d cycled into town.

Luckily we had drunk our tea and coffee, and eaten.., well, never mind what we’d eaten, and chatted about being foreigners where we live and about coming ‘home’ and whether our husbands are tidy men when left on their own. (No comment.)

I had forgotten to ask Lena if she could bring a copy of her new CD Open Your Heart when we met, but luckily she did anyway, and I’m listening to it as I write this. (I’ll tell you more about that later.) Her voice hasn’t changed much from the days of gospel singing over the skipping rope in the late 1960s. Neither has she, which is nice.

Halmstad Library, Lena Andersson on the radio

From the Earth to the Moon, across The Bridge to Olympus

Earlier this summer our holiday viewing consisted of rewatching From the Earth to the Moon. After we accidentally caught a bit of Apollo 13, it felt like the obvious choice, and it was high time we revisited Tom Hanks and his astronauts, training to go to the moon.

I’ve said this before and it can be said again; this is one of the best DVD boxes. Ever. I’ll want to watch this many more times. And it’s funny for someone who was around when it happened for real, because you find you get to know these astronauts and all the rest of them from scratch.

I used to subscribe to the idea that Apollo 11 was a lovely trio of men doing something great and special. After watching this though, you feel disappointed that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were such idiots. Seemingly, anyway. It takes a bit away from that night in July 1969. On the other hand, there are many astronauts I knew little about and whom you come to love. Especially Alan Bean, I reckon. Lovely man.

Is it the actors? Or is it the research, where it is now safe to admit to things no one would have mentioned in the 1960s? And speaking of actors, it’s interesting to see the parade of NCIS guest actors donning astronaut gear and looking so much younger. The episode on geology is one I could watch more often than most, even though that sounds like a pretty boring statement. Geology rocks.

This part of our summer Daughter and I are catching up on my chronological watching of Rejseholdet/Unit One, which suffered a long delay some time ago. The resident IT Consultant gave up, again, after half an episode, not being able to cope with the Danish soundtrack and Swedish subtitles.

As with the astronauts, hindsight now shows us Rejseholdet was first to introduce us to all the actors we have subsequently seen in The Killing, Borgen and The Bridge. The younger Brix was particularly chilling as a sweeter looking but fairly disgusting character.

Towards the end, we came upon the episode that was our first. I had no intention of watching anything Danish back then, but we switched on and came in when Gaby enters Fischer’s hotel room after he has been concussed, and then hides in the bathroom while Johnny speaks to Fischer. We had no idea who any of these people were or what was happening, but it took only minutes for us to be hooked.

It’s a little harder to find the time to watch, when one of us can’t join in, so we tend to eat to the accompaniment of selected episodes of NCIS season 11. (What do you mean, conversations with dinner?) Last night we watched Olympus Has Fallen, which was more one-sided and bloody than even I had expected. Fine if you don’t mind a film that is nearly all about Gerard Butler. Personally I want more variety than that.

The girls from primary school

We all looked the same, if slightly more adult. Usually people have school reunions from the last year at school, whereas on Saturday night I attended a small, select meeting of eight primary school girls. Actually, no I didn’t. One of us had not been part of that school, but with people coming and going, it seemed as if everyone belonged. We all claimed to have been in the same class as each other, except we couldn’t have, and I was right. Obviously.

So, 47 years on, we are still very young. It was especially nice for us to see Lena Andersson, who is over from Phoenix to launch her new CD, and who’s appeared in every newspaper and magazine imaginable, as well as on television. I was intrigued when my stats shot up a week ago, but presumably all who saw her interview then googled her and found the CultureWitch interview (and in English) from a few years ago.

Our reunion happened at Heagård, which is a large farm owned by another ‘girl’ in the group. There was a Rock & Blues Festival on last night, so we retired indoors for our dinner, or we wouldn’t have been able to hear ourselves speak. But it was nice with all that music. Two nights earlier Lena had performed on the same stage, which I’d had to miss. Wish I hadn’t now.

Heagård

But as I said, we haven’t changed a bit. We gossiped. Laughed at the same ridiculous boy, and that was even without my story of the drinks lorry. We remembered those who have died. The grandchildren were discussed (as the youngest I don’t have any). And just as people felt some boys should have been invited (why?), one turned up out of the blue.

As Mikael Rickfors, pop star from back when, started singing, we decided it was time to leave. We had enjoyed Andrea Dawson’s music earlier, but for primary school girls the time comes when they need their beds.

The Saboteurs – Kampen om tungtvannet

It’s OK, this new Norwegian television drama about heavy water. So far it’s not as earth-shattering as I was led to believe it’d be, but still fine. The thing is, it’s hard to beat an old Hollywood movie that manages to be fantastic entertainment while still being a bit OTT and not entirely true to reality. But at least this one does not star an unlikely Kirk Douglas.

I don’t know how many people in Britain knew about this incident from WWII before the More4 screening of this big hit from Norway. In fact, I wonder how many Norwegians knew about it. If you’re older you will know, if only because you will have seen The Heroes of Telemark with Mr Douglas. I learned about it at school. It was a school radio programme, complete with leaflet to read, and interviews with the real people involved, who were still quite young, and perfectly alive, in the 1960s. I gather at least one of them still is. You live longer in Norway. Must be all that skiing.

Kampen om tungtvannet

What I like about The Saboteurs, which is a shared production between Norway, Denmark and Britain, is that it covers everyone. The Germans are not merely the bad guys who are going to have that heavy water, no matter what. We see the – slightly mad – scientists, who live for their science. The bosses of Norsk Hydro are quite German-friendly, which comes as a bit of a shock.

There is the slightly unnatural way everyone can chat to each other when they meet, in perfect English or German, but at least we see them ‘at home’ so to speak. It’s obvious that the settings described as London or Scotland are neither, but they try. Rjukan is Rjukan, however, and that snow looks geniune enough.

Two episodes in, I look forward to the rest. If the ending to the second episode had been fiction, you’d have accused the scriptwriters of being over-fanciful.

Indian Kitchen

We enjoyed a pre-graduation lunch the other day. Between us our family never seem to be in one place at the same time very often, so Son said he’d buy his sister a graduation meal some other time, and then they ran out of time for that too. Hence the scramble to get together when Son and Dodo arrived in Sweden and the rest of us hadn’t yet left. And then GP Cousin and Swiss Lady ‘gatecrashed’ the event to celebrate my birthday (well, sort of) which they had missed.

Daughter said she felt like Indian food, and whereas it’s been years since we’ve tried Swedish Indian food, Halmstad does have several restaurants now. We went to Indian Kitchen in Nygatan, and we can recommend it. GP Cousin even found food that wasn’t too hot for him…

We took a while to sort out one group of meat eaters and one of veggies, and Swiss Lady only changed seat three times, and then we went to town with the ordering, and I was very grateful Son was paying.

They have a whole page of the menu featuring paneer dishes, so I simply closed my eyes and picked one. It turned out to be the one where you don’t get a plate to eat off! Everyone else got a plate, and food, and there I was, with nothing. But I ate three vegetable pakoras while I waited and they were good. And once my food arrived, on a much fancier plate, and very nicely arranged, I was glad I ‘picked’ it.

All the others liked their food too, and the nan bread was nicer than what I’m used to. In the end we only needed one doggy bag for the chickpeas Daughter optimistically ordered as well as her paneer madras…