Monthly Archives: December 2012

These you liked best

In short, you liked NCIS.

The top five posts in 2012 were three on Abby’s tattoos, one on Gibbs’s watch strap, and one about Pam Dawber.

Have you really no other hobbies? Great! That’s what I like to hear. (I am sorry I’ve not kept up as well with new episodes as previously, but will do my best to watch more NCIS, faster, and blogging about it sooner.)

Wordpress 2012 blogging report

2012 was the year when CultureWitch almost caught up with Bookwitch in numbers which, frankly, feels very strange. Most of you came from the US, but my visitors from the other 156 countries were also more than welcome.

Here’s to 2013, and may it occasionally have something other than NCIS to offer!

The Christmas episodes

Not surprisingly, some were better than others. Although we found ourselves making comparisons between fresh new writing as was the case for older new Doctor Who seasons, as well as for the earlier season of NCIS. Downton Abbey was OK-ish. Apart – obviously – for you-know-what. NCIS: Los Angeles felt more Christmassy than its big brother did.

Although, it was very noticeable that they had decided to throw in a little from many early NCIS seasons and stir well. Except maybe the stirring wasn’t done terribly thoroughly, after all.

Doctor Who

I don’t care for the Doctor’s new assistant. She’s spunky, but the chemistry between us is all wrong. And I trust there is now a country full of children who will scream at the mere idea of a snowman.

How could they end Downton Abbey like that? They did, though, didn’t they? Someone here was disappointed it wasn’t a wintry episode, but when you’ve seen one snow scene, you’ve seen them all. And all that Scottish deer-stalking will suit the Americans just fine. Long live Mrs Patmore and her patés!

So, L A was an early NCIS medley with a Christmas twist. But at least once they’d sorted out the drugs on the ship (I just couldn’t get over the L A gang being on a boat in the first place) they went a little Christmassy. To my mind Nell didn’t need fake elf ears. Besides, didn’t she go from very sad to surprisingly chirpy very quickly?

But NCIS, oh, NCIS… What shall we do about you? This was an over sugary episode with too many cute scenes. I almost didn’t mind DiNozzo Sr being back. Again. He was almost more rational than Jr. And the sight of Junior’s bed is now forever etched on my mind. His flat was gorgeous, but was it him?

As for the goldfish… Or the snickerdoodles. Well.

Perhaps get Steven Moffat to write the next episode?

Christmas 2012

Christmas card - John Barrowman

Have a Barrowman Christmas!

The Dance of Death

The Dance of Death

It was good. Or it wasn’t. It all depends on which review you read. This one is pretty good. I mean, it is a positive review, but it is also good, because it actually mentions someone who put in a lot of work on The Dance of Death by August Strindberg; the literal translator, aka Son. Mine, not Strindberg’s.

The Dance of Death

He was invited to the press night earlier this week, and I gather he was surprised to find quite a few of his words were still in the play. He had half hoped the artistic interpretation by Conor McPherson would place it on a spaceship or something.

Because of the circumstances I had been very tempted to go and see it myself (it’s on at the Donmar at the Trafalgar Studios until January 5th), but decided that even Son’s translation would not make me want to travel to London the week before Christmas in order to sit through a couple of hours of Strindberg. I have no reason to believe The Dance of Death will ever count as cheerful.

©Simon Kane - The Dance of Death, Kevin R McNally as the Captain

©Simon Kane - The Dance of Death, Indira Varma as Alice

©Simon Kane - The Dance of Death, Daniel Lapaine as Kurt

It just goes to show I was not totally misguided in persevering with that foreign language for all those years. Admittedly, I did not have Strindberg translations in mind back then, but someone has to do them.

(I had half angled for a review of the play, but not only is he busy translating other stuff, but he might be too close. So this is all you get.)

Dressed for snow

Crown Princess Victoria, Princess Estelle and Prince Daniel

Isn’t it refreshing to see a princess dressed properly? Here is Princess Estelle with her parents, all ready for fun in the snow. She looks quite regal, in white on white. Some blue in-between.

And as I was musing about partners for future Nobel dinners over on Bookwitch, it struck me that if you are young enough to be a very future Nobel Prize winner for Physics, you could end up eating that grand meal sitting next to Estelle. Or your husband will.

: )

Physicists for the Christmas number one?

Now that they’ve sat their exams, The Other Guys can concentrate on becoming the Christmas number one single.

Christmas Gets Worse Every Year is a catchy sort of title. I quite like the voice of the lead singer, and I’m slowly coming round to the merits of the song.

(Between you and me, I have very little idea of how you make it to that coveted top position, but never mind.*)

A reliable source tells me that two of The Other Guys are Junior Honours Physics students at St Andrews, and you need to encourage an alternative career, should the Quantum Mechanics paper turn out to have been more nightmarish even than anticipated.

*Had another look. Apparently you should download it. Legally, presumably.

Dressed for Christmas

Just as I was about to throw it away, I looked at the thin wire with the small red ‘berries.’ I could use this. My new white – but frankly boring – wooden electric candlestick from that well known shop needed some help. As it turned out, the fake berries/jewels were just the thing. Years later, they still drape themselves lovingly over the frame of the lights.

I call them my vinaigrette candles.

Shortly before Christmas that year I had sent the Resident IT Consultant out with a list of food to buy from the large supermarket. The two bottles of french dressing he returned home with were already out of date. I had no wish to use old dressing, however safe, and had no wish to go to the shop myself to complain. And the Resident IT Consultant does not like complaining.

Wrote the shop a letter. They phoned to say I could eaily swap the bottles next time I was in. I said I was not intending to come again before Christmas and that I had actually hoped to use the dressing for Christmas. That’s why we’d bought it. I mentioned the small fact that it was a use by, not best before, date we were talking about, and they had displayed it in their shop well past that date.

Half an hour later two members of supermarket staff bearing gifts rang my doorbell. They brought fresh dressing. They brought a £10 voucher. And they brought flowers. Even I was impressed at the swift change of heart and tone.

I am allergic to flowers, but put them in a vase and enjoyed them for as long as I could, before deciding that being able to breathe was also quite attractive. So I dispatched the flowers to the compost and before that the garland of jewels adorning the bouquet had to be removed.

Vinaigrette candles.

Christmas lights

How right I was

Forty minutes before the start of the last two episodes of The Killing, Son arrived back home. What did I do? Gave him dinner and then abandoned him while we watched.  I mean, you can’t just not watch something like that, can you? You’d not know what the rest of the country knew. You’d be an outsider.

Forbrydelsen III - Sarah Lund

Is it too cheap to say I told you so? I couldn’t actually work out how or why the character I pointed my finger at after the first Saturday of The Killing III could be ‘the one,’ but I was right. What we didn’t know at the time was that the last season of Forbrydelsen would be about two crimes. Not just the one at the beginning.

But then we suspected the murderer in season one as well, only felt they seemed too obvious. But with enough (red) herring(s) in-between, anyone can be guilty of almost anything. It was a very small cast, when all’s said and done. If the police didn’t do it and the politicians didn’t, there wasn’t a lot of choice left.

The Prime Minister and the company director both showed a surprising amount of backbone; until they didn’t, at the very end. Although I suppose it was to their credit they went as far as they did.

The Killing couldn’t end happily. It would have meant letting the fans down. I’m guessing those who have been disappointed were all set for happily ever after, and upset it didn’t happen. I’m quite satisfied, in a funny way.

Tom and Billy at Cornerhouse

Quartet Q&A - Billy Connolly and Tom Courtenay at Cornerhouse, by Paul Greenwood

Thank you, Northern! If you hadn’t locked your passengers in that train at Stockport on Wednesday night, I could have been sitting there in the audience at Cornerhouse with all the others. I might even have enjoyed myself.

It was the Bafta preview screening followed by Q&A with Billy Connolly and Tom Courtenay. It sounded like it could be fun.

Quartet Q&A - Billy Connolly and Tom Courtenay at Cornerhouse, by Paul Greenwood

As it was, I have no idea what’s being asked here. Hopefully something suitably impertinent for Wilf/Billy. I will just have to treat is as though it was a silent Q&A session. Unlike the film, which is part friendly argument and part music.

Quartet Q&Quartet Q&A - Tom Courtenay at Cornerhouse, by Paul Greenwood  04

Looking on the bright side; these photos are a lot better than mine would have been. I almost feel as though I was there, after all. (Northern – I am not letting you off the hook!)

Quartet Q&A - Billy Connolly at Cornerhouse, by Paul Greenwood

It’s good of Cornerhouse to arrange these kinds of events. Next time I’ll travel in the day before, just to make sure.

(Photos by Paul Greenwood)

Lucia in Edinburgh

It’s tradition (I don’t know since how long) that the first year students of Swedish at the University of Edinburgh do Lucia for everyone else. According to Son – who was not one of them – this year’s crop was the best he’s seen.

Yes, they were good. Perhaps they walked a little faster than people born to it would have, and sang a little faster, too. But considering they have only been learning the language for a few months, they did remarkably well.

Dress was a bit mixed, but they were all wearing white, in some form or other. And it’s brave to adopt a peculiar tradition like Lucia, allowing people to put candles on your head or tie tinsel round you or worse.

Here they are. Foreign Modern Languages aren’t completely dead yet.