Friday, May 30, 2008

If You Go Down...

In the mood for sports?

Then head down here:

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each Thursday morning to see the Guildhall School of Music & Drama dancing boys prance their way around the football field.

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Meanwhile, back at home after a hard day in the office it's our turn to exercise on Wii Fitness...

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Now it's Xfe's turn to do his yoga:
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Thursday, May 29, 2008

New Watch

Guess what? I have to buy a new watch!

The very next day after this post, I woke up to find my watch was 1.5 hours slow.

It needs a new battery, and it turns out a servicing and cleaning.

So it has to be sent to Switzerland and I have to wait 10-12 weeks for it its return.

In the meantime, I need to buy a new watch...

Monday, May 26, 2008

Bank Holiday Basics

So, another Bank Holiday Monday, another washout. The Sound of Music just happens to be on TV.

I'm particularly peeved. I bought a new pair of sunglasses on Saturday.

Sunglasses. I have a strange relationship with sunglasses.

You buy cheap, you buy dear you know. The very same with watches. I was always buying a Swatch here and there. Each holiday. I wanted a stylish looking watch. So every 8 months (on average) I'd buy a new Swatch watch. Nothing wrong with the old one, I just desired something thick and chunky.

Hmm. Hold that thought.

Anyway I eventually realised I should do it properly. Buy a real watch.

It's the tuna & pasta syndrome. As a student and as a trainee solicitor I often ate pasta with tuna fish. Once I invited some friends round for lunch. I served them super noodles cooked with a beaten egg for extra protein. My flatmate pointed out that I really couldn't...

It was then I realised I didn't have to. I'd just never moved on. I'd become accustomed to the economies of student scale.

Sometimes I still come home when mon C is away and think tuna and pasta. But it's usually for quickness and these days the tuna isn't tinned. It's the steak stuff.

Anyway, back to watches and then sunglasses.

Eventually I got a TAG Heuer watch. I've had it for over 7 years now and never wanted to buy another.

I suffered the same false economy with sunglasses.

The first proper pair I bought were Oakleys in 1999. They lasted 3 years until they were washed away by a wave in Sitges. Whereupon I bought another pair.

They lasted until whenever I saw Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible
with his Oakleys. I wanted the same pair. I think they were X-Wire or something, with uby iridium lenses.

I had them for about 5 years. Then last summer I took them out and they were scratched. Must have happened in La Reunion.

I heard they were becoming limited, so I ordered anther pair pending new lenses. I got these:



As soon as I got them I realised they weren't ruby irridium. I think they are yellow irridium.

At the same time I realised they might be too much for business wear, so I bought this pair too:



Xfe was not a fan. So I thought I'd buy a lighter pair (and I never got the scratched lenses replaced. Still in my desk drawer).

These are all very good for winter sports, but they aren't very summer.

I thought I'd buy a new pair for Tel Aviv. In the event it turned out that these suited me far better than the best suiting O's:



Maui Jim. Never heard of them...

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Sssh! (Count The Shadows and Telebiogenesis)



There's no Doctor Who tonight, thanks to the Eurovision Song Contest final.

We have to wait another week for Silence in the Library, the first of Stephen Moffat's s4 two-parter (followed the week after by Forest of the Dead).

It's the beginning of the end the start of the arc that might see everything change, and will definitely see the return of Rose Tyler (Billie Piper).

Instead tonight at 6.45pm on BBC1 we have an Appointment With Fear, an extra-special trailer that's going to show us the highlights of the rest of the season.



So, just who might that half-humanoid, half-Dalek with the blue "eye-stalk" light in its forehead be? And what about Harriet Jones - just how bitter is she? Red with anger?

Anyway, big things to come I'm sure. In the meantime, back to Silence. Looks spooky.


An Ambassador of Death?



Hmm. Just what is that book Professor River Song has in her hands? Let's look closer...



What else is on the shelf? Black Orchid. Perhaps it's an unknown Agatha Christie?



Next to it is Understanding Telebiogenesis.

Now that IS interesting. Let's go back in time to Castrovalva - Part Three .

22, INT: LIVING AREA

NYSSA: We have to tell him about Adric.
TEGAN: Are you sure? He's still not very strong.
NYSSA: We must! We have to think of Adric too! I know so little about telebiogenesis. If only there were some books here.
MERGRAVE (impatiently): Come along!

(They follow him.)


29, INT: OUTSIDE THE LIBRARY

(Shardovan is leading Nyssa and Tegan up some stairs to the library.)

NYSSA: Do you have any books on telebiogenesis?
SHARDOVAN: The technical section is not large, you will find, but you are welcome to browse.

(They enter the library.)


Castrovalva was the Fifth Doctor's post-regeneration story and featured the Master. The book on Telebiogenesis was required so Nyssa could better understand the Time Lord regeneration process that hadn't been going according to plan.

The Castrovalvan library was a figment of imagination - an illusory, dimensionally paradoxical trap set for the Doctor by the Master, with the unwilling aid of his companion (a kidnapped Adric).

Back to the Silence Library...



THE GIRL
Something's here! Someone got in! No one's supposed to get in!
Dad, agitated, barely able to keep his seat...
DAD
She's never mentioned anyone else. She's always been alone.
The girl, panicking now, afraid...
THE GIRL
Someone's in my library.

Now, according to DWM:

"In a nutshell" - there is a girl who dreams of a space library, which contains things not usually seen in a library, like a blue box, and people stepping out of it, and other people joining them. But the shadows - let them get too close and they are the last things you'll ever see...

So, it is just that it's another illusory library drawn from imagining, or does it go further than that. Might it just be a trap, set up somehow unwittingly by another manipulated assistant?

I guess we have to wait and watch to see...

My Life - One Enormous Drama

Well, really it's not, but I love to take the chance whenever I can to borrow a line from a musical and attribute it to something vaguely relevant that's going on in my life...

On Thursday night Xfe and I trecked all the way down to Wimbledon to the New Wimbledon Theatre to see Aspects of Love, my all-time favourite musical.

It's the same production that I saw at the High Wycombe Swan theatre in January, when it still had David Essex. I'm glad he has moved on - he was a very poor George!

Having moved on, this highlighted how poor Tim Rogers was. He was very shouty, and a lot of his performance was singing quietly and then singing LOUD! The weakest link, and not as good as he was when I saw him in January. Wish I'd seen Matt Rawle.

However, I did notice in his shirtless scene that his body had tightened up a little since January.

Shona Lindsay's Rose continues to be fantastic. She is acting all the time. In January her Anything But Lonely was simply stunning, and she had the right balance.

I did notice a slight difference on Thursday night however. During the middle of ithe song, she slowed down the pace just a touch to let in even more emotion. It seemed a little unnecessary as her performance in this song is wrought anyhow, and the change of pace was distracting. As a result it wasn't *quite* as excellent as it had been last time.

But she was still fantastic. As we know, Rose doesn't like to be alone. She has to deal with her own grief at the loss of George, and she feels the pain of her daughter's grief and heartache, as well as her her own pain at the thought of Alex moving on.

I think I'd be pretty over-wrought. The song is after-all a desperate plea not to leave her.

On Thursday we had the Scottish housekeeper, with Nora Batty stockings. Hmm, I don't think swing Alana Bell got Elizabeth quite right, though in fairness she made a decent job of singing, even if she seemed a little behind, slightly. Still, that's life.

Drama Queen


So, the last few weeks have been busy with theatre and concert. We've had Laurie Anderson (yawn), The Common Pursuit (bigger yawn), Chess In Concert (what did Idina sing then?), Aspects, God of Carnage (and that over-obvious bulge in Ralph Fiennes' trousers), the soporific Instructions for Modern Living and 10 or so of Mark Ravenhill's plays making up Shoot/Get Treasure/Repeat. Not to forget the non-replica production of Phantom of the Opera in Warsaw.

Enough until after I get back from holiday I think.

Friday, May 23, 2008

A Rather Dull Pursuit

On Saturday evening, after Friday's French Night At Home, we went out for dinner and then on to the theatre.

We were at the Menier to see The Common Pursuit.

Described as a "sharp" comedy the play charts the progress of a group of Cambridge undergraduates who launch a literary publication. It follows the evolution of their friendship from 1968 - 1986.

The play, by Simon Gray, was first performed nearly 25 years ago. And it tells. The humour definitely belongs to the era in which it was written.

Critiqued in 5 words:

Unfunny outdated play, well acted.

The cast includes James Dreyfus, Nigel Harman and the League of Gentlemen's Reece Shearsmith.



In truth James Gimme Gimme Dreyfuss was far better than the limitations I expected of him. And Nigel Dennis Harman was actually rather good for a soap star. Xfe, an Eastenders' fan, thinks him rather sexy.

We were in the front row, and noticed that they all wore brand new shoes. None of their soles had the least bit of wear.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Love Me Less, But Love Me A Longtime

On Friday night we had French Night At Home.

That sounds grander than it is. All it means is that was watch a French movie, whilst supping a glass of champagne, nibbling on some fromage and end the evening with some... French kissing.

There was also the suggestion that I'd do my French homework (I'm having classes at work), but of course that fell by the way.

Like yeah, on a Friday night.

I asked Xfe if he would select the film. He selected Le Serpent. This wasn't the choice I had wanted him to make, so I told him (as if I had forgotten) that it was actually my turn to choose (which was true).

I chose Les Chansons d'amour by by Christophe Honoré.

I'd wanted to see this for some time. Not only because it stars Louis Garrel, but also because it's one of those French movies where the characters just sing spontaneously.

Not in a musical style though.

Indeed this is one of the benefits of having Garrel and his co-stars sing. They're very natural, and if they happen to be crap singers, then that's how they sing...with plenty of breath. The result is that as unnatural as it seems to burst into song, it's at least honest, and easier to accept.

Xfe told me he wasn't really in the mood for a film with gratuitous singing. I told him that this had received rave reviews as *cleverly done* and that he wouldn't be distracted by the singing at all. Ha, ha - like I had any idea!

In terms of genre Chansons is a musical. Though as so very often in the French style of film musical, the focus isn't really on catchy tunes but on the meaning of the sung text.

The Departure

The typical style of direction in French musical films is that the musical numbers aren't set-up. They're almost slipped in, and just happen without warning. There is usually little distinction between spoken and sung scenes.

The consequence of this however is that, being an integral part of the narrative, when watched by a non-native French speaker, the lyrics may become lost in translation. Consequently Chansons d'amour might not be as accessible to non-native French speakers.

This turned out in part to be the case. As the film unfolded, I found it difficult to get into the narrative, whereas Xfe, who really hadn't been interested in it, was engrossed.

Instead of following the narrative I was distracted by what at times seemed "clunky" lyrics.



Petit salaud, ton jeu est clair
tu veux tout sans rancune
le beurre, le cul de la crêmière
deux pour le prix d'une

petite garce que tu es vulgaire
que c'est laid dans ta bouche
que cette jalousie m'indiffère
vois comme tu te couches
.....

Petit salaud, petit pervers
où as-tu mis les doigts ?
d'où viennent ces odeurs étrangères
surement pas de moi


In translation we get:











Yes indeed - they are singing about the smell of his fingers not being her she smell, having been up inside someone else!

The Absence

Garrel is Ismaël, an emotionally immature young man who is in a relationship with the blonde Julie . Alice is the "bridge" between the two, acting as the third person in a ménage à trois for which Ismaël’s bed is much too small.

When Julie discusses the threesome arrangement with her sister Jeanne and her mother it becomes clear it is not really what she was hoping for.

Not much later, when attending a concert, she dies of cardiac arrest (a broken heart?).

Jeanne worries about Ismaël and tries to connect with him, which he seems to reject. Alice tries to find solace in the arms of a handsome youngster from Brittany, whom she soon dumps, but not before his school-going younger brother Erwann* (Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet) has had a chance to eye up Ismaël.

The Return

Erwann gets his man. He smothers him in boy kisses (seen here).



But, does he keep his man? Go watch.

Despite the slight uptake on getting into this film, I really liked it. Xfe loved it!

Well worth watching. Buy it here.

* It's a Breton name. I really love Breton names. I long for a LOÏC. Erwann is the Breton equivalent of Yves.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Mecs In The City

One of the things that I love about London is that you're never far from a movie being made.

Last Wednesday after work I met mon C for a little shopping and then a quiet drink.

I bought some stuff at Ted Baker. Xfe preferred the New Look at Moorgate.

While I was hanging around outside I realised I was suffering strong deja vu. I could swear that the same people kept passing me by.

Like a mini Groundhog Day.

Then I realised why. They were filming, and the same extras were crossing back and fore in front of the action, and in repeated takes.

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This actor is Paul Rhys. I met him in the 80's when he was in a touring production of Nikolai Gogol's The Government Inspector.

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I sometimes love London. Especially when there's filming going in the City.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Saturday Night Filth

Moral crusader and self-appointed media watchdog Mary Whitehouse and her National Viewers' and Listeners' Association often took issue at the violence and horror in Doctor Who.

Had she seen last night's Cluedo inspired The Unicorn and the Wasp, she would doubtless be spinning in her grave - though this time neither horror nor violence would have been the cause.

The Unicorn and the Wasp showed a gay relationship between the upper-class Roger Curbishley (Adam Rayner) and his manservant Davenport (Daniel King). Two things make this remarkable.

Doctor Who is still very much a family TV show. Children of all ages watch it. With their parents, or without. My 10-year old nephew watches it each week. My parents watch it each week.

Secondly, the relationship wasn't just hinted at. It was overt and - although the characters displayed discretion within the context of the story's era - it wasn't the subject of any judgement. It simply came over, no doubt deliberately so, as being perfectly ordinary.

Curbishley may have been killed, but this wasn't a comeuppance due to moral turpitude. Quite the contrary, it enabled Catherine Tate's sympathetic Donna Noble to voice support for the loss that Davenport wouldn't be able to mourn in public nor share with his lover's family.

Of course this shouldn't come as a surprise given that this is Russell T Davies' Doctor Who, albeit The Unicorn and the Wasp wasn't an RTD story. As such we've become accustomed to a bi-sexual Captain Jack Harkness who has already been seen giving a kiss to, showing affection for, the Doctor.

This in the context of a children's/family TV show. Impossible to imagine this happening ten years ago, maybe even five. Certainly not without a great deal of fuss.

And certainly not in the Whitehouse era.









The following scene which showed the two of them coming out from Roger's bedroom was a nice, humorous touch.



Mary Whitehouse was a foe of "alternative lifestyles". She famously brought a public prosecution against the homosexual newspaper Gay News under the Blasphemy Act of 1697. Her NVLA charged the paper with blasphemous libel after it published James Kirkup's poem The Love That Dares Speak Its Name, which glorified a Roman centurion's ardor for a crucified Jesus Christ.

Whitehouse argued that the poem was tantamount to buggering the almighty.

When the verdict fell 10-2 in the NVLA's favor, Whitehouse felt vindicated: "I'm rejoicing because I saw the possibility of Our Lord being vilified. Now it's been shown that it won't be."

It resulted in a nine-month suspended jail sentence for the editor of Gay News, Denis Lemon, who was told by the judge that he had come close to serving it. Appeals to the House of Lords and the European Court were rejected.

In 1982 she pursued a private prosecution under the Sexual Offences Act 1956 against Michael Bogdanov, the director of the National Theatre's production of Howard Brenton's The Romans in Britain for "procuring an act of gross indecency".

The play included a scene of simulated anal rape.

Julie Walters is soon to play Whitehouse in a BBC Two TV Drama - Filth: The Mary Whitehouse Story.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Unicorn And The Wasp



Don't miss the last "gentle" episode tonight, before we skip a week for Eurovision 2008 in Serbia, and then go NUCLEAR with the s4 story arc really gearing up!

God Of Carnage

Last Friday evening we saw Yasmina Reza's God of Carnage at the Gielgud.

I enjoy the gentle humour of Love Soup (as well as the Archers). We were both looking forward to seeing Tamsin Greig on stage.

I'm not a fan of Ian Rankin's Rebus and felt indifferent about Ken Stott.

As I've mentioned before, Janet McTeer blew me away in Mary Stuart, so I was really looking forward to seeing her again.

Ralph Fiennes I felt even more indifferent about.

I enjoyed the play (it probably is the star), and we did laugh out loud. Ken Stott was excellent, and McTeer equally convincing.

However three things niggled me.

The play is set in Paris, the characters retain their French names. The places mentioned are French, and so too is the food. The newspaper being read is clearly Le Monde.

The French setting is emphasised (and makes sense - even though the play has been translated from French to English by Christopher Hampton, the setting and the humour is definitively French).

So, having gone to such trouble to retain the tone, why then is the hairdryer used on stage a British standard 3-pin plug, seen plugging into a fitting without the use of a 2-pin adaptor, as would be found in France?

Janet McTeer has a tattoo on her right ankle - visible at times, though I couldn't imagine her character having one.

Then there was Ralph Fiennes.



Hmm. I've never rated him though I've only seen him in the movie version of The Avengers, which I sought out not because of him, but because of Uma Thurman and things Emma Peel.

Fiennes' performance as Steed is as that in God of Carnage.

He's extremely bland.

Mon C and I were sitting in the front row. And we did notice a particular attribute that Fiennes had, however. Dressed in a suit, he often sits himself legs stretched apart (character acting I guess). Consequently the material is stretched across the front of his crotch.

Which displayed a very definite and extended bulge. Once spotted, it was hard not to be distracted by it-and believe me, his legs are spread wide apart fairly frequently.

Things Are Abroad

I just woke up from a bad nightmare.

I was at Hrad Karlštejn, where I visited in 2006.

Noc na Karlštejn - 3

In my dream I was being pursued. I knew I could run, but that eventually I'd be caught. Or else I could just give up, succumb...

Is it worth racing in the hope of escape?

Just before I forced myself to wake up, I was caught. I looked up, to see this.

Noc na Karlštejn - 1

Will I ever rest in peace or will this follow me forever?

Friday, May 16, 2008

Xfe's New Role

Last Friday Xfe announced that he was considering offering his services to London's new Mayor, Boris Johnson.

Having been served, yet again, by a Polish waitress who simply refused to smile, Xfe suggested that he would work as Manager for the Checking of Eastern Europeans.

Checking up, he explained, on whether they were providing service with a smile.

You've got a point, I thought.

Why oh why oh why do Polish waitresses never smile? Maybe they just don't like us.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

There's Something About Nancy

Yes, it's the Nancys! But are they trying too hard to be Nancy boys?



Being a fan of musical theatre you might think my Saturday nights previously revolved around How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?, Any Dream Will Do, and currently I'd Do Anything.

Well, they haven't.

However I have to admit (and perhaps it was because it was the same night as Doctor Who s4 ep1) that I caught some of the early Nancy shows. Being able to watch it at my leisure on the BBC's iPlayer doesn't help either.

Whilst I've hardly been riveted, I have been interested to see how the Nancys are shaping up.

But what has really caught my attention is those "Nancy arms".

Having watched three plus shows, it's become apparent that a big part of inhabiting Nancy is stomping around not quite like a proper one. The antithesis, in fact, of a proper nancy...



That means strong arms girls...



Throw them up and out.



Girls, that's up and out...STRONG arms and big gestures.



BIG! Now dip down, and up and out.



That's it - dip and dig girls....



...and the dig.



Now girls, the big, strong finish. STRONG girls...



Hmm. I wonder where the inspiration for those nancy arms came from?



So, we'll give the girls the benefit of the doubt? After all, it can't be the same routine-and colourful home made dresses-week in, week out.

Can it?








(Look, it's Liza one-note)




STRONG arms, girls. At all times...



With a little flourish and a dig...



...arms...



...ARMS...



ARMS!!!



So, what else is going on? Apart from getting rid of the (singing) talent, it looks like they're lining up a stunna' to be Nancy.



Surf or turf?

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