Monthly Archives: July 2010

The cahooting dentist

Travelling has its advantages. A limited menu on television means that you watch what’s available instead of having hundreds of films to choose from and ending up watching none. This evening’s offering was The Whole Nine Yards, and whereas Daughter thought the blurb (in the Swedish paper) looked awful, I could see the potential, and it certainly had that.

Matthew Perry and Michael Clarke Duncan

I quite like Bruce Willis, and I also quite like Matthew Perry, except I didn’t know. I didn’t know he’s Chandler. Not that I watch Friends, but… He plays a dentist, and thank god we’d already sorted our dentistry needs, or someone I know would have freaked out even more.

Bruce Willis

This poor dentist has a ghastly wife and a total of three hitmen after him, despite being such a nice guy. One of the hitmen moves in next door, and they become friends. Of sorts. His dental assistant suggests he goes away and gets laid, and his wife wants him dead.

Natasha Henstridge

It’s a very immoral film. Very. You can’t approve of what goes on in the film and still be a good person. But it’s very funny.

The hitman neighbour’s wife has a mobile phone just like mine. Just goes to show it really is ten years since it was made. The film. The mobile.

And you don’t want to go to the dentist tomorrow. Or even next week.

Livvakterna and Livvagterne

There were bodyguards all over television last week. The previews promised me Swedish bodyguards and Danish bodyguards. In the end I somehow expected some inter-Nordic bodyguard series. This was because I’m an idiot and I didn’t even notice it was different channels.

First out was Livvagterne, which is a Danish series, featuring the agency that guards Danish politicians. Jumping straight into episode 15 made for more confusion, but it was entertaining enough. As someone says on IMDb, they feel it’s as good as any American series and they are surprised there aren’t more things done on this topic.

Maybe it’s because it’s Danish, or it might simply be due to it being television fiction, but there are a lot of in-agency relationships. The two episodes I’ve watched deals with a wannabe government minister, whose daughter is abducted just after his boss has committed suicide. It’s not a pretty story, but it rings true.

After this it was Livvakterna, which is a Swedish film; the second with Jakob Eklund as Johan Falk after Noll Tolerans. Johan goes rogue after his employers show a distinct lack of either understanding or appreciation of what he did in the first film. A close friend gets caught up with the Russian mafia in Estonia and asks for help when things get really bad.

And then things get quite a bit worse. Very violent, and my tolerance for stupid mothers of stupid children disappeared. But they redeem themselves, so it’s OK. As the blurb in the TV guide said, it’s a rather silly plot, but nicely done.

(It also has ‘Wallander’ – i.e. Krister Henriksson – which pleased Daughter greatly until…)

We are already looking forward to the third film.

HishultaBörje

A song about a rather inept yokel by the name of Börje (from Hishult, southern Halland, Sweden), sung in the local accent, is an unlikely track for me to develop a real fondness for. I blame it on exile. It makes you softer than you’d expect. It’s because, deep down, you miss all the ‘awfulness’.

But HishultaBörje isn’t awful. The tune is good old Swedish pop/rock, sung by Gunnar Bringman, who has a pleasant enough voice. And a heart-tugging sort of accent for someone with a past in Halmstad. Because I’m willing to bet that accent isn’t Hishult, but unadulterated Halmstad. Close enough.

Singing in a south Swedish accent came into fashion in the 1970s, but then it was mostly the Skåne accent of Hoola Bandoola Band. I think this is the only Halmstad accent song I’ve come across. Gyllene Tider don’t count.

The inept yokel is a careless driver, gets breath tested by the police, is not exactly a hit with the ladies, runs late, lives with his old mother, plays bingo, wins a forklift truck (!), speeds with the truck, is breath tested again, loses his license, has a heart attack and dies. Poor Börje.

The much repeated line of ‘fy fan va’ barnsligt’ (damn, that was childish) has some poetic charm. Really. And when poor Börje has finally died, the recording ends with Gunnar laughing and making a comment about it being a weird ending for a song.

Börje isn’t my cup of tea as a person, but the sad tale takes me down memory lane. And then there is that accent. One that I carefully removed as soon as I left town, but which still makes the heart beat fonder, or whatever cliché makes sense to use.

Have no knowledge about Gunnar. He may be local, but I’d never heard of him. My track turned up on a Halmstad CD collection, but the pirated downloads are all over the internet if you look. (I didn’t suggest that!)

Under the influence

I felt as if I’d become an extra in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. When Johnny Depp has taken more drugs again and he sees the weirdest stuff, and it’s all creepy and crawly. That’s what it was like. I even joked about OD-ing with the Resident IT Consultant, despite the two of us being the most strait-laced people in existence.

Radioactive Cats by Sandy Skoglund

We should have known better. We went to Mjellby Konstmuseum on one of the hottest afternoons we’ve had the misfortune to encounter for some time. Daughter reckoned it’d be interesting to see the exhibition on Sandy Skoglund. It was. Interesting. Not nice. Although Daughter liked it, which is what counts, really.

And I overheard other visitors enthusing about the pictures, so I’m clearly in a minority.

We enjoyed seeing some new-to-us paintings by Halmstadgruppen in another part of the museum. I gather they have lent a number of the usual exhibits to somewhere, which meant they had dug out some other paintings to hang. And we liked those.

From Mjellby we went on a wild goose chase which led nowhere much, until we finally got home again, complete with headaches. I went to bed, and emerged later to find the Resident IT Consultant with his headache, asking where he could find aspirin. (Men!) I was so out of it that I gave him two, and then wondered if I’d accidentally overdosed him, and he’d be seeing creepy-crawlies here too. Double checked, and found I hadn’t. Will stay at home from now on.

NCIS back at work

What a relief to see that NCIS are back at work. I do feel for them, having to get started in July, but it’s a positive sign that we will have something to watch, come September.

Relationships

You can only have one favourite favourite television series to obsess about. And for us that is NCIS. But then we have a few more on the next level, one of which is the Danish Rejseholdet. Having just gone on holiday, we are continuing watching through all the episodes again. What strikes me is how similar they are. And also quite how different from each other.

Rejseholdet

Both are police teams of some sort, where the group have become family. You don’t necessarily want to watch it out of order, as it’s important what went before, between X and Y. And the whole team is aware of it. Or not.

Whenever the fans want Tony and Ziva to get together, you have to stop for a reality check. It’d be nice, perhaps. But would it work? No, it wouldn’t. The same went for Gibbs and Hollis Mann. Fine for a while, but it can’t be allowed to become permanent. Then Gibbs wouldn’t be Gibbs.

I assume that real NCIS agents have families. And that it works. But the television team can’t have long term happiness and stability.

In Rejseholdet they do. Have relationships, that is. Not certain that it always works, and it definitely gets in the way of the policework. But then maybe real families also interact with real policing.

Fischer gets somewhere late, because his wife is upset with his infidelities. IP’s girlfriend is angry when he doesn’t have time for her theatre plays. Ingrid is always having to sort things out for her children, finding ‘babysitters’, although they are teenagers, or coming home to find there has been a party. La Cour, naturally, seems the most sorted of them all, and does get back together with an old flame. And Gaby and Johnny have their very public disagreements in the lap of the team.

It’d be easy to say that the Danes are the normal ones, but I wonder if normal means always having things happening within a small group of people. How likely is it to have the head police officer finding she’s investigating the murders of her brother-in-law and his family?

NCIS

And good looking though the Danish team are (it is television, after all), they are nowhere near the Hollywood good looks of NCIS. I mean, take Palmer out of autopsy, and even he is handsome.

Maybe their looks help us like people to begin with. I’m certain I’d love the characters after a while, no matter how they look. In fact, I disliked Gibbs for most of the first two series because of his California perfection, and to begin with I found Fischer unbearably ugly. But you get used to both, and once you’ve become ‘friends’, you just like.

Scottish folk songs

Having arrived in Sweden at last, we are spending a positively Victorian style evening, with Daughter on the piano, working her way through some Scottish song book. The Resident IT Consultant is not improving things by singing along from the kitchen. I imagine he sees himself as some kind of expert.

Auld Lang Syne might indicate the end of the session, or simply that Daughter doesn’t recognise its sense of finality. But live music is always civilised.

T-A-N-G-O!

Now I’m going to want to learn to dance, too! And unlike the characters in Take the Lead, I can’t say I’ve really felt a tremendous need to dance before.

Take the Lead

Daughter required entertainment with dinner, again, and chose Take the Lead, which I thought might be OK because it has Antonio Banderas in it. I don’t think I’ve seen him in a bad film, so either he has taste or I go blind when I see him.

Take the Lead

The plot was of the predictable kind, but there are worse things than that. Passionate dance teacher who takes on underprivileged, and mostly black, teenagers in a sink school in New York, with the expected results.

Take the Lead

Very visual with all the dancing and suitably romantic and clearly indicating from the beginning that the Resident IT Consultant would cry by the end. The fact that it’s based on a real story doesn’t make it any worse.

Dah-dah-dah-dum

Could I remember his name? No, I couldn’t. Hanging in the foyer of the Bridgewater Hall on Saturday night, waiting for the Resident IT Consultant to park cheaply, I noticed the Hallé’s marketing no. 1 greeting people. By the time we were in the circle bar with our complimentary envelope stuffing drinks, him making his annual speech, I recalled he’s Andy Ryans. He was grateful for our efforts, as usual, and very worried, which is less usual.

Andy apologised for swivelling round as though he had some horrible rotational disease, but that’s speaking to a spread-out group of people for you. And yes, we’ll call him if and when we have caught a politician to discuss money and funding with. There was going to be a bonus piece of music in the concert, which Andy said he had heard during rehearsals earlier.

There was a lovely dog – although not at the drinks gathering – with his own bowl and mat. You don’t often see dogs coming to hear Beethoven.

The conductor, Rory Macdonald, has just joined the ranks of doctors and policemen by making me feel ancient. He began by thanking the sponsors of the concert, who have sponsored generously for 21 years, which will be approximately the same number of years that Rory has been around. Then he kicked off with Fingal’s Cave, which was nice and Scottish for both the Resident IT Consultant and for Rory himself, one presumes.

I’m rather less happy with the new arrangement of the Hallé themselves. I’m used to having Roberto Carillo-García closer to me than that high court judge type position the double basses now occupy. It does very little for the ogling of my favourite double bass player.

Although I did see more of Erika Öhman on percussion this way. I used to meet her mother sometimes, years ago. (Hejsan Erika!) She did some good work on those copper saucepan-lookalikes in Beethoven’s fifth. Nice symphony.

Had time for some musing during the concert. I’m not the best classical concert goer in he world. But I do like going. And I hope that no funding crises will stop me from being able to go once in a while. Hallé is a good orchestra, but above all, they are ‘my’ orchestra. Hence my annoyance when people don’t sit where they ought to.

I had also promised the Resident IT Consultant Bruckner, but he turned out to be Bruch. Understandable confusion for someone who struggles with Liverpool and Birmingham. Bruch’s violin concerto no. 1 was very ably played by Sophia Jaffé, who wore a really lovely dress, too. I thought they would never stop clapping after her violin playing.

Since they didn’t give her any flowers after the Bruch, it made sense that Sophia should return to play the bonus piece, Beethoven’s romance no. 2. Andy had said it was ‘one of the most beautiful pieces’ he ever heard. The man was right. It wasn’t bad at all.

Singing Kettle

When Aunt Scarborough gave Offspring a Singing Kettle video almost fifteen years ago, I wasn’t too convinced by all this funny looking Scottish stuff. OK, so maybe Scarborough’s grandchildren liked it, but they lived ‘up there’. The video was a BBC Scotland product, since they hadn’t been discovered in England at the time.

But, we watched and we liked. Liked a lot. Great songs and very funny. We watched some more. We bought tickets for their show in Glasgow and travelled all the way and back for just the one night. We went to Edinburgh to see them. Then we caught them in Stirling for the New Year, which was when Artie had been MBEed.

We went to Kingskettle to waste money in their shop. I mean, who’d not want a soft, cuddly kettle?

Then they began coming further south, so we could see them ‘at home’. And eventually we grew too old. No, we didn’t. We just did other things, but the videos are still here, and we still love them.

Today is Dodo’s 21st birthday. She, too, was brought up on the Singing Kettle, and had she and Son actually been in Edinburgh today, which they are not, they could have celebrated in style by going the the show there tonight.

I have to own up to having dressed up like that on occasion. Why grow up when you can stay young?

We really must make a point of going to another show again, soon. I feel I haven’t had an opportunity to shout ‘spout, handle, lid of metal…’ for a very long time. Although it seems Offspring could muster up a nightmare about the tatty soup.

Oh well.