Monthly Archives: July 2012

It’s getting darker, Due South

While most of the first season of Due South was fun to watch and well written, it was very light and the crime seemed incidental to Fraser jumping out of another window or licking something unmentionable, with Vecchio gagging nearby.

Thankfully, Due South is getting darker, but still remains humorous. (I take it it is understood I am watching all this from the great distance of almost twenty years?)

Season one ended with a weird Rear Window-ish episode. It was OK, I thought. Script writers must be allowed to play with classic plots every now and then. Somehow the purpose seemed to be to have as many men as possible wounded. Hence the season two start with the trip to Canada to recuperate. That was also weird, and also enjoyable.

I’m some way into season two now, and found episode seven, Juliet is Bleeding quite dark enough. I think we are past the licking substances and laughing at Canadians. If I’d paid more attention to the title, I’d have been better prepared. David Marciano was great in this one, and I really didn’t think he had it in him to be truly romantic.

Romance for Vecchio

Found a long and thoughtful (if almost unreadable) review of it here. Full of spoilers, so beware.

We got confused the other day, so watched episodes in the wrong order. I loved the way Vecchio was ranting about the bad guy’s middle initial, asking Fraser if he knows what the P stands for. ‘Is it pertinent?’ says he. ‘Not even close,’ replies Vecchio…

Waste not, want not

I lost my last aunt a few months ago. She was 98. Her age is irrelevant here, except that when you were born can have an impact on what you are like.

On a new blog I read recently, someone very wisely pointed out that one way to become more creative, is to be very poor. It’s true. Generally when I think about this, I visualise a by now old image in my mind on how people in Africa found uses for the ruined cassette tapes Westerners throw away. I have still not come up with anything I personally would do with such plastic ribbons, but I find the idea stimulating. Not the poverty that forces it, but to re-use.

That will be why I find it hard to get rid of things. They could come in useful one day.

When my Aunt Motta died she was reasonably comfortably off. By that I mean she could buy what she needed. When I was a child she worked for a small textile company in the textile industry area of Sweden. They made stuff like table cloths and curtains. What makes this sound so exotic is that not long after, this kind of industry died off and no one in that town makes anything any longer.

She didn’t earn much money there, so when at the age of around 55 she was able to apply for – and got – the job as seamstress at the local hospital, it was a great step up. She hemmed doctor’s white coats, and sorted out curtains for hospital rooms and was generally useful. The pay was better, and so was the pension, which she got at a younger age than she would have in her old job.

All during my childhood she made things for me, from the purple overalls (made from a cheap remnant; hence the colour) I wore as a toddler, to the pink crocheted slippers I asked for as a teenager, as well as the rather lovely embroidered things for my new kitchen when I married the Resident IT Consultant.

But when it comes to making the most of insignificant things, I don’t think anything quite matches this decorative cushion Aunt Motta gave me when I was in my teens.

The thrifty cushion

You might feel it looks perfectly ordinary. And it does. In a nice way. But can you tell what it’s made of?

Remember those tablecloths she made in her old job? Some of them were lace edged, and her job was to sew on the lace. When you do, sooner or later you will come to a corner, where you need to ‘cut a corner’ before continuing.

That’s what those triangles are. Were. She saved them, and stitched them into squares and the squares into cushion covers.

What’s nice is that soon after she had no need to do stuff like that. Except once thrifty, always thrifty. I believe it’s something to be admired.

(And it’s only as I got this far, that I was visited by an awful thought. In today’s society, you’d probably be sacked for stealing from your employer. Not that the scraps would be wanted, but you can’t just go round doing anything you like. Can you?)

License to watch

I pay good money for my Swedish television license. I can’t recall quite how much it is, but a normalish sort of amount. I’m under the impression the money still goes to the state owned television service people at Radiotjänst. At least, I’ve never been informed to the contrary.

And seeing as I pay this sum of money for about six of the 52 weeks I might be in Sweden for, it’s not cheap. Especially since I often find little to watch, and most of my visual entertainment comes from DVDs. But you still need a license.

So when the SVT1 broadcast went on the blink mid-Allsång på Skansen on Tuesday, we were annoyed. It righted itself, only to die more thoroughly an hour later, mid-Tomas Ledin. Luckily I was only watching out of curiosity, never having been a fan, and simply switched off the television.

On Wednesday we checked how things were. Iffy. But a semblance of SVT was available, although in a hiccoughy way. And so we left things until the Resident IT Consultant uncharacteristically wanted to watch the start of the Olympics on Friday night. He got perhaps ten minutes before the signal disappeared.

I googled, in order to see if this was a widespread problem. Seems it was. Hallandsposten online had an article from the day before, outlining the olympic anguish of fans near us, who had missed out on the football and were very concerned.

The Resident IT Consultant, who in his mis-guided British way expects problems like these to be sorted smartish and promptly, was surprised. I was surprised at the companies mentioned in the article. They seemed to be in charge, although I’d never heard of either Boxer or Teracom. Were they responsible for me too? Despite me paying Radiotjänst?

It seems they are. But they weren’t worried. According to Hallandsposten they had eventually (because you don’t want to hurry these things, do you? The customer is usually wrong) switched on their reserve wotsit, and things were running smoothly. End of story.

But we couldn’t see the Olympic sheenanigans. And there was nothing the matter with the non-SVT channels. You get Olympic games every four years, and surely we can wait until 2016?

What’s the hurry? This being Sweden, where authorities are rarely wrong, I don’t believe there will be any compensation for lack of signal.

NCIS beginnings and ends – Bravo Yankee Echo to Kate

The end of NCIS season two and the beginning of season three are among the very best episodes, and among the hardest to watch. Even though we watched season two late, when we already knew how it would end, it still didn’t make it any easier, or even any more obvious what was going to happen.

So we knew Kate would die, but the way they set up smoke screens, pretending to kill DiNozzo with the plague, and then offering up snakes and bombs and the need to protect Gibbs, meant we were as confused as they wanted us to be. I saw an interview with Mark Harmon on the eve of the last episode, and he claimed not to know who was going to die. It could have been him. Or so he said.

Twilight is as strong an episode as any, and it stands the passage of time well. It’s still exciting to watch, despite us knowing how and who and why. That penultimate shot when we think Kate has died, quickly followed by the killshot is pretty good.

There is humour, despite the fear and the danger. That’s what makes NCIS; the plot as such might be mediocre, but the script and the dialogue is first class.


As for Kill Ari, I had to watch part one three times before I felt even vaguely normal. It’s the one that has affected me more than any other. Yet again it’s the strong writing which makes it what it is, more even than the acting, which is also fantastic.

The team are shattered in more ways than one, it is raining (it always rains when things are bad) and Gibbs is nice. DiNozzo is right, we don’t want a Gibbs who is too nice, but it was quite fun to see what a nice Gibbs might be like. He doubts his own abilities, while the rest of his team daydream about Kate, the way they each saw her.

They have Ari to chase, while fighting the FBI’s view of him as an ally, and Gibbs has his old partner return without warning as his new Director. Ziva turns up and confuses DiNozzo, and we have that priceless scene in Ducky’s Morgan, with the useless Gerald almost wrecking it.

You don’t often get a really bad bad guy who can also be as interesting and as charming and normal as Ari. We sense that he is ice cold and cruel, but there is still a sense of humour.

(Photo © CBS)


It has become a bit of a holiday tradition to eat pizza at Campino in Varberg.

First you need to get to Varberg, and we don’t always, but most years we do. On some occasions we have forced GP Cousin to come along, and he always panics a little before, but he usually settles after he has ordered.

The pizzas are good, even for non-pizza lovers, and the place is fresh and clean. You can sit outside if the weather is favourable. (I suppose you can even when it isn’t, if you don’t mind.) You just need to make sure you don’t share your lovely pizza with the giant gulls.

I don’t often eat prawn pizzas out, but after I discovered they sprinkle lots of good quality prawns over the pizza after it’s come out of the oven, I often order it.

There are long queues at lunch time. Generally in the evenings too. If you can manage to be hungry some time in-between it will be quieter.

They do all the other ‘fast’ foods people enjoy, as well, but we only ever go for the pizza.

Concert for Utøya

Let’s hope the presence of so many new-Norwegians on the stage felt like a kick in the face of the man behind the atrocities in Oslo and on Utøya last year. Yesterday’s concert in remembrance of those who died was attended by many thousands of people, standing outside the Oslo Town Hall in the rain, holding their red roses high.

Presented by Haddy N’jie we got ninety minutes of songs and readings by many of Norway’s finest. Authors Frode Grytten, Karl Ove Knausgård and Åsne Seierstad had all written new pieces specially for the occasion. Crown Prince Haakon was there, and his Prime Minister made a good speech, urging everyone to honour the dead by making the most of being alive.

Among those who sang and entertained were Karpe Diem, Laleh and Bjørn Eidsvåg. There had been unconfirmed rumours that Bruce Springsteen would play. He did. He sang his own version of We Shall Overcome, which went down well. His wasn’t the most important name on the playing list, however.

The honour of performing last went to Lillebjørn Nilsen, and he got to do two songs, the last of which the audience joined in. It’s the same song the crowds sang outside the court in Oslo a while back, when thousands gathered there spontaneously, yet again holding roses.

Sauna for Hamlet

I’d like to think that Hamlet actually lived here.

Varbergs fästning and kallbadhus

This is the castle in Varberg, as seen from the town’s Kallbadhus. Which, as you can tell, means cold bath house. I.e. you sauna and then you jump in the sea; winter as well as summer.

It makes for a long life, which is something Hamlet could have done with. His father, too.

Hamlet lived here

Except maybe he didn’t.

Hamlet's Castle - Helsingør

Elsinore is usually where Hamlet is believed to have lived, and this is the very castle. But some people reckon Shakespeare’s angsty hero really lived in Varberg, across the water, in Sweden.

Unless Hamlet turns out to be fictional…

Captain America: The First Avenger

I seem to be watching the Avengers films back to front. Having started with The Avengers a couple of weeks ago, Daughter then sat me down to watch Captain America. As she put it, ‘you liked him, didn’t you,’ so there I was, watching the previous film before I knew what was happening.

Not that I suffered, but I don’t expect I’ll watch all of them. And I don’t think the order matters. I knew nothing about Captain America before these two films, but the second film did rather give away the fact that he wouldn’t die. On the other hand, it’s not something heroes normally do.

This is good, simple, adventure stuff. Not totally realistic, but close enough. And fun. We had a discussion about the size of Chris Evans, which I felt was Hagrid in reverse, and that seems to have been about the right guess.

Some of the scenery struck both of us as very familiar, and before we’d even investigated it, Daughter reminded me that I had, actually, blogged about this once before. And I had. Memory like a sieve, is what I have. They got blown up in our home town, so to speak.

The plot might not be terribly original, but the writing’s good, and offered many useful quotes: ‘I thought you were dead.’ ‘And I thought you were smaller.’ Nice period feel, with something of Where Eagles Dare about it.

NCIS beginnings and ends – Reveille and See No Evil

Season one of NCIS ends fairly strongly, although you need hindsight to see where it might lead. There is the mirror effect at the end of season two, which you won’t know about if you watch in the right order.

Written by Donald Bellisario and featuring Ari for the second time, it’s strong and annoying at the same time. DiNozzo’s stupid fascination for the fake Swede is irritating, and I have never felt easy with Ducky’s description of the old case which upset Gibbs.

But Ari is good, and his relationship with Kate was always interesting. I keep wondering what would have happened if they’d lived.

Kate and Ari

Since this episode was shown not long before the start of season two, the cliffhanger wait was reduced. And there wasn’t even much of a cliffhanger, unless you’d got as worked up about Ari as Gibbs had.

Which is lucky, since See No Evil was pretty good, but had no real connection to Reveille.

My main problem with See No Evil, is that it can only be watched once, and work. When – or if – you watch it again and you know what happened, it loses all credibility, and the feelgood factor of how the team worked the rescue seems pointless.

It is also a little too sugary on ‘kid with disability.’ Fine, let her be both pretty and talented and courageous. But why be surprised?

This was the start of Kate and DiNozzo being mean to McGee, and I hated them through most of season two, because they went from almost normal (for television agents) to childish and petty.

Kate and McGee

But the heatwave and the air conditioning breaking down is used with great effect. Putting the computer in autopsy to keep it cool is a ‘cool’ move. Having two endings is also effective. First the obvious one, and then the real one. But as I said, you can only use that trick once.

(Photos © CBS)