Monthly Archives: April 2010

NCIS – Moonlighting

Palmer's henna tattoo

Poor Palmer has commitment issues and can’t even put stickers in places. And he’s itching and scratching. The ‘sand mite might bite’, but it didn’t. Funny coincidence that Palmer was having his own PPD-style moment the same week I decided enough’s enough.

McGee and Susan Grady

But he does have a girlfriend, which is more than can be said for McGee, and he should know better than to improve on the truth when it’s the polygraph lady who lusts after him. I do think poor Agent Grady is wrong for our Tim, but he should still be open about his reluctance. Abby is certainly totally honest in her obvious disapproval of her rival.

Agents Grady and Gibbs

Gibbs's lap

Gibbs had witness issues, reducing him to ‘simple-speak’ with the dudes, ‘words – use them – helpful words’. And ‘where are you thinking of clipping that thing’ to Agent Grady, when she got surprisingly intimate with a part of Gibbs’s trousers. But then she was voted ‘least likely to take a hint’ at school. Do Americans really have a category like that?

Quite a lot of fun words in interesting combinations this time; Ducky to Palmer ‘if you’ve finished your multispecies insensitivity’, and Director Vance to Agent Fornell (yay, he’s back!) re possible surveillance in the elevator ‘when we do, you’ll be the first to know’. And Vance to Gibbs ‘we all make mistakes and that’s why God invented knocking’. So true.

Moonlighting, which is what Agent Grady did, was one of those satisfyingly funny and family centred episodes, and sufficiently enjoyable almost to make up for the three week wait.


Almost. Don’t do it again, any time soon.

(Photos © CBS)

Hot Tub Time Machine

It was a little bit like those quiz programmes where the contestants are so pleased they are first to beep, or whatever, that they hardly realise they don’t know the answer to the question. When the offer to see Hot Tub Time Machine for free at my local cinema came up, I clicked for tickets before I knew what I was doing. Then checked the film, and my heart sank. Told Daughter, who laughed at me. She watches all trailers, so knew it was an odd film for me to want to go and see. And want is not the right word.

With two tickets available it was a toss-up between Daughter and the Resident IT Consultant. He lost, so he came along. The cinema was packed, which is unusual to say the least, considering it was a Monday evening. The Resident IT Consultant feel asleep, but luckily on my shoulder rather than the person on his other side. Two women left after half an hour, presumably having had their share of nude men and the f-word for one evening.

Hot Tub Time Machine

In my humble opinion the film would have been greatly improved with an 80% cull of the f-word. There would still have been plenty of it to go round. The idea of time travel back to your youth is not original, but most plots aren’t. Quite a nice premise, actually, but not executed as well as it could have been. The 1980s might not have been the loveliest of decades, but was not too bad either. And as ever when aiming for authenticity, the film makers went OTT, so lost some of the ‘truth’ in one fell swoop.

It was fairly funny and I sort of enjoyed it. Quite sweet in some ways, even. Pretty revolting in others. And Clark Duke was good as the ‘young one’, who wasn’t even born.

The Time of Angels

I was going to wait until next week. After all, what’s the point blogging about half an episode? But as those Facebook nerds said – immediately – it was quite a good one. So I can at least put a couple of photos on here.

Amy, the Doctor and River Song

Those angels were actually quite creepy last time round, and with Amy rubbing her eyes, I now have an urge to do likewise. The clerics were almost Philip Pullman-ish, and sacred Bob went to being scared Bob. There was the quote, which I don’t remember perfectly, but it was something about a verger and his explosives.

The Doctor and Father Octavian

I’m content to wait for next week’s instalment, but Daughter has theories. Well, she’s allowed to.

My kind of interview

Maybe I should get a life, instead of sitting here gazing at my blogs. But then again, why should I?

I like going on about what I like in interviews and especially what I don’t like. If I’m to do them I want a face-to-face interview. After all, I feel that’s what the word means. And as I once said in a similar discussion, chatting over the phone you can never find out that your victim (aka interviewee) slurps soup when they eat, or that they are wearing cerise striped knee socks. Personally I feel it’s the kind of thing that makes an interview.

Did some moaning over on Bookwitch the other week, about the differences between authors’ availability for interviews and that of potential victims on CultureWitch. Culture people outside the book world are more protected and less keen to meet a mere blogger for an interview. You can get as far as speaking to someone’s PR and they sound very interested, until you mention it’s not for the Guardian or the BBC.

But it’s not always the traditional and proper media that makes for better interviews or articles. Last month the Guardian let Courtney Love edit their Friday film & music, and I thought it was great! Far better and more fun than the ordinary Friday ones. There was a particularly good interview with Courtney herself by Alexis Petridis. Just the way I like it.

Doesn’t mean I can’t do something like it as well, though. Access is nine tenths of the interview as far as I’m concerned.

…and he’s got their backs, too…

I might have been too hasty writing off Mark Harmon in interviews a while back. It seems the man does have things to say other than the oft repeated stuff I complained about. Ten days ago Mark was on Tavis Smiley, which is on the public broadcasting service network. And that makes quite a difference. Tavis Smiley conducted an intelligent interview, showing new sides to our Gibbs.

Mark looked relaxed, there was no audience laughing to order, and he and Tavis shook hands, rather than the fake hugs you always seem to get. (It’s almost a case of hugging those we know the least, in this back-to-front world. In which case I’d be happy not to know Mark very well…)

This actually follows on very neatly from my post about The Blind Side the other day. That’s where Michael learned to look out for his family, be they adopted family or football team. He had their backs, which is what matters in the end.

That matters to Mark, too. Oh, I knew he had some interest in politics, after Son came home from his class in politics, saying they’d watched a fundraising film for Hilary Clinton, which seemed to have Mark Harmon in it. When filming NCIS it’s more important to ‘get the ball to the guy who could do the most with it’. Correction, that was while playing football, but it’s a sentiment he sticks to on his current day job as well.

‘No one does it alone’ and that’s why Mark is more interested in keeping NCIS going, so that the 270 jobs there are safe. That’s the kind of solidarity that you hardly ever expect to find anywhere these days, let alone in Hollywood. As he tells Tavis, he works for the network; they are the boss.

Maybe one day Tavis’s dream will come true, and Leroy Jethro Gibbs will turn out to have been black all this time, whereas Mark likes the fact that the NCIS characters get to ‘keep their secrets’. Well put. I think that’s what we like too.

He’s got their backs

I think I failed four times to see The Blind Side before its release date, for free. I hope that will be a record, because it was extremely frustrating to see opportunities disappear because it was full (supposedly) or offered when I couldn’t take advantage. And in time honoured fashion I then waited almost until it disappeared from the local cinema, what with just being too busy.

At least that left me plenty of time to read reviews, and it seems it’s not a good film. Still wanted to see it, and so did Daughter. We were very relieved in the end, not to have the Resident IT Consultant along, as that would have necessitated a whole pile of hankies. The two of us made do with our sleeves.

The Blind Side, Quinton Aaron and Lily Collins

It must be that ‘real’, macho film reviewers just can’t cope with sentimental stories. Had this been fiction, you could have wanted changes made, but being a true story, albeit somewhat Hollywood-ised, it had to be what it had to be. Surely? Or is it that you can’t like a film about a religious, conservative, wealthy woman in a southern state of the USA? Not pc, perhaps.

Incorporating the story about Ferdinand the Bull was a master stroke. Michael truly is Ferdinand.

Wish I knew more about American schools and results and universities, not to mention the football. Do realise that poor Michael wasn’t very bright in some respects, but his results meant nothing to me. Nor did the university scholarships and the bidding for this football player. Simply seen as proof that some nurturing goes a long way, this was a good film. And the sheer surprise for this woman when she found herself taking in the abandoned black boy from her children’s school was interesting.

The Blind Side, Jae Head and Quinton Aaron

So was the way she knew how to explain things to Michael when everything seemed too alien and incomprehensible. Learning to look out for your family is a good basic skill. Learning to look upon your football team as your family, and looking out for them, too, is also good.

Michael’s got their backs.

What’s wrong with Daleks?

I don’t get it. It seems Daughter is not alone in moaning about the return of the Daleks. Facebook is moaning, too. But why shouldn’t we have them? They are the bad guys, right? So they need to recur every now and then for the good Doctor to fight.

I know we supposedly got rid of them, but who’d believe a thing like that? This evening’s Daleks were fun, I thought. The army coloured ones offering people tea in my teacups were almost sweet. The colourful ones were, well, colourful. Yes, they were bad. It’s how baddies are.

Bill Paterson in Doctor Who

Loved Bill Paterson’s Bracewell. I was so pleased things went reasonably well for him, despite it looking iffy for a while.

Was a little surprised that Amy’s miniskirt didn’t cause mayhem among the WWII military. Where was their sense of propriety?

Amy and the Doctor

And I never knew a jammy dodger looked like that. It was more like a Singoalla biscuit to me, but what does a foreigner know?

Fascinating Aïda – the interview

Well, here it is! The long awaited interview with two thirds of Fascinating Aïda.

Dillie Keane and Liza Pulman spill some of the beans that could be spilled, and very nice and friendly they were while they did it, too. However, due to the fact that they only put on their faces something like five minutes before a show, I wasn’t able to have my own photos of them. That’s the only reason I resorted to stealing the ones I used. (And we’ll just have to hunt you ladies down for photos somewhere else, at a later stage.)

Kicked myself afterwards for not asking Dillie’s puppy Piper if she would agree to be photographed. At one point I had to look down on the floor to check it wasn’t my bag she was rummaging in, but this well behaved, adorable little dog knew full well which bag contained her toys. There isn’t a single bark in my recording of our chat, so that is one good Piper.

Neither Liza nor Dillie were barking, either. I didn’t know that being a Gemini makes a person bonkers, but as Liza said, it explains a lot. I got so confused by sitting facing all those mirrors in the dressing room that I inadvertently switched my recording off, and had to restart. But then I don’t have quite the same experience of theatrical mirrors as some.

With the silver jubilee tour ending on Sunday, we will have to begin the countdown to next time. I wonder what Fascinating Aïda can come up with in the way of lyrics about volcanoes?

Kenneth McKellar

I see that Kenneth McKellar died last Friday. It was thanks to my friend Pippi that I knew about him at all. She used to play me his albums, to convince me of his greatness. I went on to buy one or two Greatest Hits type collections, mainly because I like Scottish music and Kenneth’s voice was a good voice, even if he never made it to favourite with me.

When we were young(-ish) and living in Brighton, the Resident IT Consultant and I attended one of his concerts. We were among the youngest and probably also among the the least Scottish in the audience, but who cares? And here you have to consider that the Resident IT Consultant was born in Scotland.

While Pippi and I were on holiday at Onich back in 1980, she was very excited, because after our week together, she was going down to Oban, where Kenneth appeared to have taken up residence for the summer, singing every night. And for a fan like Pippi it doesn’t get much better.

Here is a YouTube clip of The Northern Lights of Old Aberdeen, as Pippi spent some time au pairing in that fair city.

Fascinating Aïda’s Silver Jubilee, fifteen months on

As Fascinating Aïda finish their show with a song* about Salford it’s – well – fascinating to think that a few hours earlier this song didn’t exist. Writing to order is a thing they do well, and coming up with a new local variation for each show, preferably at the last minute, is an activity they find stimulating.

Dillie Keane

They look so glamorous on stage that it can be hard to imagine what they’ve spent the previous couple of hours doing. Other than writing the day’s local flavour song, they need to adapt their chat to take in recent news, and maybe a few lines from those news for their ‘Bulgarian’ song cycle. There are letters to deal with. Takeaway meals to be eaten in as civilised a way as possible. And before putting on their faces and those gorgeous frocks, there is now a most adorable puppy to walk. (Yes Dillie, that was my gaze you could feel while you and puppy were out on your walk along Salford Quays. She did both a number two and a number one by the looks of it. Good puppy!)

Our British celebs are the same as the American ones, except uglier and more stupid. Someone has to be brave enough to point this pertinent fact out, so thank goodness for the sharp wit of Fascinating Aïda. And it has to be said that this obviously does not apply to FA themselves.

The first half of their show in a packed Quays Theatre covered most of the essential topics an audience need, such as the financial situation (thank you ladies; now we get it), Michael Jackson and Susan Boyle, a plea to our parents not to spend our inheritance, risk assessments and the price of petrol per gallon in 1983. And, please, what is a gallon?

I wouldn’t sit in the front row if you paid me. Just consider what happened to poor Hilary, being told off for her handbag straps. A real hazard. And by now I’ve forgotten how Terence came into it, but he figured regularly in their chat throughout the second part of the evening. And what is this fascination with courgettes and gherkins? And truncheons.

It’s pleasing to find an audience where some people have not heard the songs before, so are coming to them fresh. I was lucky enough to sit in front of a couple who enjoyed every amusing line of every song. The one about the Pope, for instance. And Dillie very sensibly does what I would do, leaning on the piano while talking. She’s into gardening in ‘her old age’. Happens to us all, I suppose. Very grateful for the warning about the laptop repair man for people who have googled certain words.

Lara King

Having their tour manager Lara stand in for them after the interval, singing a song of her own while Adèle supposedly went across to the pub to drag Liza and Dillie out of there, is a great idea. Drink a little longer, ladies, and we’ll just have a Lara show instead. She’s wonderful!

Alcohol taken off her, Dillie was forced to drink something else. Asking what it was, and being told it was water, she understood why she didn’t recognise the flavour. As Dillie said, it’s ‘quite refreshing, in an unpleasant sort of way’. It is that, Dillie.

A globally warmed Shetland, calypso style, with a Hawaiian shirted Lara on guitar was just great. You’ll have to pay that girl more, you know.

It’s amazing how well the sad and thoughtful song ‘I watched two people’ sung by Liza fits in with all the rude and funny lyrics of the main menu. They do go through their sopranos at a worrying pace, so maybe that’s why. Liza wore two stunning dresses. Not at the same time, you understand. One of them is being coveted on Facebook, and that’s easy to sympathise with. Maybe with Liza still in it?

Adèle Anderson

Adèle’s dress in the second half was much more flattering than the one she wore last year (sorry!), and Dillie sensibly wore trousers for her piano gymnastics while playing the German song. Though I’m grateful to know that they shop with Primark in order to support the Mancunian sweatshop workers. ‘Tesco saves’ showed that our favourite ladies also know where to shop for food, as well as just about everything else in life. It’s a blessing, really.

And then there was the Salford song to finish. Polite offering, and enjoyable. But some of us live in Stockport, you know. As the gentleman on my train recently pointed out; someone has to. Consider it done.

* And what’s really, really annoying, girls, is that when that DVD (to be recorded in Windsor on Sunday) hits the shops, the Salford song will no doubt have been turned into a Windsor song. I’m sorry, but that’s just not right. It just isn’t.

Fascinating Aïda at the Lowry