Monthly Archives: September 2012

Brothers, eh?

I didn’t grow up with one, so wouldn’t know. But I have brought one up, and I can see that sometimes brothers might be somewhat annoying.

Even when I was a small child, Uncle was an adult. Prone to jokes and pranks, but still an ‘old man.’ I was quite surprised when Mother-of-witch told me about the milk jug. It was very nice, apparently, but it died one day when her six-year-old self was doing the washing up.

Her pesky older brother (12) teased her. She in turn attempted to throw water over him, by means of this jug, which was being washed. It slipped out of her hand and broke.

Now, I was very surprised to see a new side to Uncle, finding that he had not always been an old man. It’s worth remembering that most old(er) men have once been annoying little boys.

Happy 94th Birthday, to this former little boy! He has lost all four sisters, but not his sense of the ridiculous. If he could, I’m sure he’d still annoy girls with milk jugs.

NCIS – Extreme Prejudice

It was very sweet to have Gibbs looking around for Abby, sighing with relief when she appeared to be unhurt. But it was hardly necessary, or even realistic, seeing as he jumped on top of her to protect her in the explosion, ‘mere hours’ before. He’d know she was safe, unless he had squashed her in his role as shining white Special Agent.

Abby and Gibbs

Continuity, writers! If you knew how you wanted the season to start, why have Gibbs jump, back in May? If you didn’t, why not have a peep to see what did happen in the last episode? Or ask a fan?*

Navy Yard

McGee and Gibbs

It was nice to be back, despite this and the dust and destruction. Gibbs had a most fetching injury to his forehead, whereas McGee was woozy and weird, and with much more reason. Ziva and DiNozzo were locked into yet another box. It’s getting a bit repetitive. Surely we can have them close by other means, if that’s what we want?

DiNozzo and Ziva

And if the President tells SecNav to get those who did this, they will. I suspect they would have, anyway. The end was strange. Could they really not come up with something a bit more convincing?

Ducky was all right, as far as all rightness was possible. Not sure what the new Mrs Palmer thought about Palmer spending all that time holding Ducky’s hand. Having Palmer do Ducky’s job, with not even an assistant at his side, feels very Hollywood. Since Brian Dietzen is a regular now, I’m guessing he’s taking over. He has had eight and a half years at Ducky’s side, so why not? But why not before?

Palmer

I like the new intro. They look so very determined, and Ducky is there. Here’s looking forward to the rest of what will be a great season ten.

NCIS season 10

*Me, me!

(Photos © CBS)

NCIS beginnings and ends – Pyramid and Nature of the Beast

There is no question but I found this pair the weak link of all the NCIS season starters and endings. Doesn’t mean they are no good, and several viewings later, Pyramid is growing on me, if not literally.

Gibbs and FBI Agent Stratton

Watching Nature of the Beast recently was a better experience, too. I suspect because we had seen Stratton die (or had we?) and we had belatedly grown fonder of him than we ought to have. And seeing Kate’s sister yet again had ceased to be news, so was more OK.

But I never took to EJ’s team. She felt fake, and any problems they had were none of my business. There might have been no nepotism, but I don’t believe the satnav connection was pure chance.

Abby was too fond of Cade. It felt like too much telling and less showing. New satnav (yes, I do know that’s not his job description, exactly) is not marvellous. I like the actor but not the boss of the navy.

The star of Pyramid is Palmer. Out of character, but wonderful nevertheless.

Gibbs, Ducky and Palmer

And the question I am left with is if they really have that many double-crossing people in all those American alphabet agencies in real life? I know we don’t trust them, but it’s still got the feel of fictional tool.

I didn’t spend last summer waiting with bated breath to see what would happen. As always with friends, I wanted to see the team again. But the action was of little importance.

This summer I’ve been too busy to think much about what will happen. But Till Death Do Us Part at least ended with a bang…

(Photos © CBS)

Going Down(ton)

My heart sank after watching the first new episode of Downton Abbey. Not enough to make me give up, but I did have my doubts. Chatting to Daughter on the phone 15 minutes before the second episode began last night, she said she didn’t think she’d bother. At least not last night. Maybe watch online later. Maybe. And she’s someone who doesn’t give up easily.

Shirley MacLaine in Downton Abbey

Reading an interview with Shirley MacLaine in the Guardian a few weeks ago, I felt so certain we were going to get great stuff. The first week there wasn’t a single spark between her and Maggie Smith. No spark anywhere. Mary and Matthew behaved like silly children. We’d worried the wedding would be off again, forgetting that you can so easily have turmoil (or childish quarrels) within a marriage.

I might have to inform Daughter she should watch again. It was a lot better last night. We laughed a few times. There are still things people wouldn’t have said or even known about back then. But if you can’t put 21st century concerns into a period drama, what can you do?

Having sort of known Mary was an idiot, it wasn’t until she talked with her American granny that I fully realised it. And Alfred looks very much like poor William, don’t you think? As for His Lordship suddenly cottoning on to his valet’s lack of popularity…

NCIS beginnings and ends – Rule Fifty-One and Spider and the Fly

We’re getting closer to a ‘real’ beginning, so time to crack on. I loved season seven. Looking back, I’m slightly less keen on the last episodes. There is something not quite right about the Mexican set-up. A little on the far-fetched side.

But as cliffhangers go, seeing Jackson Gibbs in his shop with Paloma, it’s a good one. The continuation in season eight is less satisfying, especially the way the Mexican siblings problem is resolved. And Gibbs is a bit too remote and unfeeling, seeing as he doesn’t exactly have a clean conscience himself.

Rule 51, sometimes you’re wrong.

Gibbs sr

We don’t want Gibbs Sr to die. But it’s worth keeping in mind that although the Reynosa family are crooks, they had a right to love their father, too.

But there is humour even in these two episodes. Like when DiNozzo and Ziva are wondering how they will find Gibbs, and he is just standing there, waiting for them. Ducky going on about golf, as you do, while dissecting the dead.

Loved Abby’s outfit. Possibly not your typical afternoon tea style, but still…

Abby and Ducky

(Photos © CBS)

What can you change?

I hadn’t really considered that aspect of things before. If you – fictionally – blow up something that exists in real life, what exactly can you can you permit yourself to do? Having been led to believe that the Navy Yard is the real deal, you surely can’t add the need to rebuild it or to move NCIS?

Gibbs

(Admittedly, I’ve been getting tired of the two men who repeatedly walk into the building at around seven o’clock for the past nine years. You’d think the two men must be getting tired, too.)

So, in order to speculate (something I never engage in…) about season ten of NCIS, the bomb didn’t do too much damage to the workplace of our team. Nothing a good clean-up won’t deal with. Maybe it was the fact that several of the actors needed their contracts renewing, which meant they were given the option of perishing in the explosion.

We now know they are all coming back, including Brian Dietzen who has been upgraded to regular. Perhaps he really will take over from Ducky? Seeing as David McCallum already had renewed his contract, it makes sense to believe he survived. We know he did, now. But it sounds as if his role will change, and he might go down a new path of sorts. Leaving Palmer to chat to the corpses?

Ziva and DiNozzo

I gather Abby will find her new brother again. Not before time, that. Creepy Dr Ryan is gone, although not necessarily forever. DiNozzo Sr is supposed to visit again.

That is, if Junior ever gets out of the elevator with Ziva. Eli David is rumoured to be back as well.

So, all in the family. Rather like season nine. Let’s hope the writing improves.

(Photos © CBS)

Ducky and David

Palmer and Ducky

This man isn’t 79. This is Donald Mallard, aka Ducky. It’s hard to determine his age, when you know how old David McCallum is. But I’d say close to 65. After all, Ducky has been ‘too old’ for almost ten years now.

The man who is 79 today is David, the actor. Hard to believe, isn’t it?

Just as well he’s getting a hug. I’d give him one too, if he was here. Or I there. Or even both of us somewhere else.

Happy 79th!

Henderson’s

It looked good, Henderson’s Bistro. And it was conveniently placed for anyone already at the Albert Halls in Stirling for the Bloody Scotland book festival. The menu was OK (for me, not for my companion) and the tables and chairs looked nice enough.

But – and there has to be a but – they let themselves down. To me it wasn’t all that obvious I’d want lunch at 3.30 in the afternoon, and despite us saying we’d come for afternoon tea, we were told what the soup of the day was.

That’s once we’d actually sat down, and that took time. There were several free tables, but they needed to clear one for us, and I hope it’s because they felt it was a nicer table. Why did they need to clear it just then, when the place was already quiet? And why so slowly? Once we were seated we worried in case we were never going to see a menu.

The warm scone arrived well before the pot of tea. Very weak tea. Not terribly warm, either. And I was once more made to feel inferior for wanting milk with Earl Grey. The glass of water we asked for didn’t arrive until we reminded them. When a friend joined us, it took a long time for them to notice. Actually, they didn’t. They had to be hailed.

As for paying, that didn’t look like it would happen soon enough for me to get back to my event on time. Our server was gone, and the next waitress could find no evidence of what we’d had.

On the plus side, we sat comfortably for the free hour we had at our disposal, and it was good to meet up with a friend with no dashing all over town.

NCIS beginnings and ends – Aliyah and Truth or Consequences

Aliyah is strong in that it was a tough decision for Gibbs to leave Ziva behind in Israel, but there is something in the way she behaves that’s not quite Ziva. Too soft. Too furtive. She must have known she couldn’t do what she did and just remain as though nothing had happened.

DiNozzo and Gibbs

DiNozzo

McGee and Abby

The scene where DiNozzo is interviewed by Eli David is priceless. DiNozzo is often most annoying when in ‘DiNozzo mode’ but this is good. Clearly thought out, and with a purpose, and it works.

And then you counter the ‘old’ Ziva with the one in Truth or Consequences, and even more so, DiNozzo as the knight in shining white armour. Still fooling around, but again, with a purpose.

The rescue mission might not be terribly likely or realistic, but it’s very enjoyable. And in-between the heroics and the violence, there is the day-to-day humour, as told by DiNozzo. The hiring of a replacement for Ziva is so well done. We know they won’t really do it, but it half looks like they might.

The needle in the haystack, the anomaly, the Caf-Pow. It’s different. And the way Vance allows Gibbs and his team to do what they want to do, without using words.

‘How was your summer?’ must count as the understatement of what even DiNozzo would say at the end of a long separation. But the humour deals far better with the harsh reality of how Ziva’s summer was, than any amount of sympathy would have done.

Ziva, DiNozzo and Gibbs

Even though the ending to season six is weak-ish, you are still left wanting to know what happens next. As a beginning, season seven is one of the best. It was worth waiting for.

(Photos © CBS)

Rolf Harris at the Lowry

Rolf Harris sauntered onto the Lyric Theatre stage at the Lowry last night, dressed in a white shirt and sun hat, looking for all the world as though he was in Provence. He wasn’t far out. It was a glorious day, even in Salford, and so much better for Rolf being there. Maybe he’d got the wrong postcode, maybe not.

That’s the thing with Rolf Harris. You don’t know how much is an act and what actually happened. Maybe they really did drive round looking for the Lowry. (It’s an apt name. One painter to another.)

Rolf Harris programme

He started with Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport, sticking to the same script he’s used for a while. We got emotional, we stopped clapping, we did everything Rolf told us to do. We sang. (Is there a discount when you become part of the act?)

Then he rambled a bit. Sang the intro to Kangaroo in Dutch. Spanish. Claimed he didn’t know the Japanese translation, although that didn’t stop him. Sang Kangaroo in Russian, which somehow turned into Kalinka. And Rolf finished with the Nashville version.

This all took a while, as you can understand.

A Japanese joke swiftly (no, pretty slowly in a roundabout way, actually) took us to Christmas and Six White Boomers. Then he moved via Aborigine art to Uluru and Raining on the Rock. He tried on his accordion for size. Several times. Then he finally played it, for tongue-twister Court of King Caractacus. The audience followed, still singing along. Was it an act, or was it for real? Rolf ‘completely lost it.’ Doesn’t matter.

You Are My Sunshine, with another slight hiccough. Who cares? We were all smiling in the sunshine. We sang Waltzing Matilda, and Rolf reminisced about singing it at Glastonbury with 130,000 index fingers counting ‘one, two, three.’ We found it hard to match this, having fewer fingers at our disposal.

Rolf Harris programme

We got a didgeridoo lesson, with Rolf doing unspeakable things with his glass of water and one belonging to a member of the orchestra. Basically, you blow raspberries while avoiding drowning yourself with the water. Don’t try it at home. This lead to Sun Arise, the most boring song the original musicians had ever played. Even George Martin felt it needed something a bit extra to counteract its mesmerising drone, and after three months on Radio Luxembourg it would have made it to number one had it not been for that upstart Elvis.

A short five-minute break for ten to fifteen minutes, meant we were back in 20-25. I’ll round that up to half an hour.

Rolf needed the time. He had a third leg to grow and clothe (orange trousers?) and a green tartan coat to put on. Yes, it was Jake the Peg, who had not only an extra leg, but sang the same bit a second time. Or tried to.

Rolf Harris programme

Once rid of the outfit and the spare leg, Rolf wore his cerise shirt, which he immediately covered up with a blue one so he could splash paint around. It was time for the painting. Fairly small canvas, for Rolf, but a great piece of work, nevertheless. Someone in the audience shouted out ‘can you tell what it is yet?’ I suppose it was worth checking he had some idea of what he was splashing the paint on. (Uluru, in case you wondered. With rain.)

The time spent painting, Rolf asked for permission to tell non-pc jokes. It was something about two Albanians, one of whom was called Patrick… He does do accents very well. You tend to forget this, in-between concerts.

Delilah and Stairway to Heaven raised the roof somewhat (we did sing very well, even if I say so myself). I now have a mental picture of Miss Given, for future use. Pavlova, on request, followed by Two Little Boys. I wondered how you can follow that with anything else, but Rolf did a rude version of it, which ‘lowered the tone’ sufficiently.

A lot of background information on Leadbelly, who wrote lots of songs, but not Sixteen Tons, which is why Rolf didn’t sing it. He forgot stuff. He dropped his money. And Leadbelly wrote Goodnight Irene, which will be why Rolf sang it.

Rolf Harris programme

Avoiding encores, we were firmly informed Rolf would finish with the British version of Kangaroo. We sat up straight and legs were uncrossed, and what we got was Kangaroo Elgar style. Or perhaps Land of Hope and Glory with dying stockmen. Seeing as it was the Last Night of the Proms, we felt we hadn’t missed out. And not a single varicose vein exploded.

Here he comes at last; Rolf Harris at the Lowry

We trooped out to the foyer where Rolf was going to sign. (They never said what, though. No merchandise, only programmes. And with no photography allowed inside, I have taken to photographing the programme to illustrate things. Sorry.)

It was a long wait, and a long queue. They had time to replace the pot of tea for a fresh one as we waited. I took a few photos and scarpered, so have no idea when the last ones left. This morning, I imagine.

Rolf Harris at the Lowry

I got to the tram stop as Rule Britannia was belted out on the façade of the BBC. Very nice.

Rule Britannia in Media City

It was all very nice. And if someone had suggested forty years ago that I would ever attend the concert of an 82-year-old, I’d have said they were crazy. But crazy would be not to go. This is feelgood stuff at its best.

Rolf Harris at the Lowry

I’d say come back soon, but I am a nice and generous person, so will say that it would be great to see you again, Rolf, but there are other deserving parts of the country, too. Probably.