Sixteen years since Northern Exposure first aired, apparently. Thanks to Steph, with whom I had lunch on Saturday, my resolution to spend no more money on books and DVDs crumbled and I found myself picking up the first series in HMV.
I'd completely forgotten the Twin Peaks tribute sequence: cleverly enough done that you aren't immediately aware it is a Twin Peaks tribute: you just think "that waterfall looks remarkably familiar...
So, that's that... I reached the end of my marathon run through the entire boxed set of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on Sunday afternoon. I really feel somewhat bereft. And my mouse finger is itching for the "order Angel" button (I only have series one and am cursing the fact I didn't throw caution to the wind and take advantage of working on Jersey, and indeed having Play.com as a client, to pick that up at the same time).
It's a rather worrying number of years since I first watched the first episode, on its first outing on BBC2. Most of the episodes I had only seen once, but up until about the end of season 5 I think I caught almost all of them (I had a working VCR at the time, unlike now). For a while at least BBC2 were showing a cut version in the early evening, usually the cuts were only mild but I remember a telephone conversation with K shortly after the episode where Kendra dies. Having watched the cut version K thought it uncertain whether Kendra was definitely dead - having stuck to the late night versions I had no doubts on that score (basically, the frame in which the actual slash across the throat is seen was thought slightly too much for 6.30PM). By the time season six came round I think the schedule had changed again, inconveniently for me particularly since I had changed work patterns too, plus I had slightly gone off the previous two seasons: I kept missing episodes and eventually gave up. Season 7 I had never seen at all until now, but I did always have it in my mind I would do this. Angel incidentally, which I actually thought at the time was better than the parallel seasons of Buffy was also killed for me by scheduling by about the end of season 3 (I think).
Very brief, vague unfocussed musings..: Season 1 feels like foreverago but my recollection of rather more rubbishy production values seems slightly unfair now: it may have been the rather ancient TV I had at the time. And the Master is still a rather good villain. I still think season 2 was the best, but there's far too much compressed into it: Spike and Drusilla and the whole of the Angelus plot: there was material for two series there. Season 3 very good indeed. Season 4 is still rubbish and there seems an enormous disconnect between 3 and 4, though that's probably largely ascribable to the change from school to university: the uncertainty Buffy shows at the start of the season never seems to be lost from the season as a whole. 5 and 6 rather better this time round, surprisingly so: Season 5 in particular seems far better plotted than it did at the time, but 6 is pretty depressing and seems fundamentally different from most in its concentration on character as opposed to the Big Bad Plot. Still, I don't think you can knock the season that brought us Once More With Feeling, not to mention the self-parody implicit in Jonathan, Andrew and Warren.
Season 7: I still don't know. Maybe I'll have to watch it again. But the ending is Right.
Oh, and the film: still awful, particularly when viewed alongside something like Lost Boys, but it was only £1.99...
Martin, did I win?
Gone midnight and I'm watching This Life re-runs on BBC2. Ho hum. Deja vu all over again. My trial went off, so I faffed around for much of today, then spent an hour or two sitting in Court 56 listening to the Whiter Shade of Pale trial for want of anything better to do. Highly entertaining stuff. Blackburne J, who knows his music, evidently fascinated... They have a portable organ in court, apparently Blackburne has indicated he intends to play it himself in the course of the trial.
Ooh, it's the arrival of the appalling Rachel, boo hiss....
Miles: "No papers, solicitor I'd never heard of, not a clue what I was doing". Yep, sounds familiar.
Working at home as I currently have a Man putting a water meter in. He seems a bit gormless but sufficiently competent.
To be honest I've been working at home a lot this week, largely because almost every morning I have woken up at 8.45 at the earliest feeling vaguely crappy. Presumably some kind of low-level virus. Unfortunately the risk of working at home is that although my library still lives in my office there nevertheless isn't a great deal of competition between, on the one hand, trying to construe an appallingly complicated clause in an A&M Settlement, and on the other livejournal, various boards, the interwebtype thing in general, and Buffy season 4. Yes, I know season 4, the Riley season, is generally not very good, but there is the saving grace of Spike to keep me going through that. Besides, I'm watching my way through the entire box set in order, it would be cheating to skip.
As loads of people have commented, ljchat has finally gone live, though since the beta has been happily working for ages this doesn't seem particularly special to me. The slightly odd thing is the little green buttons giving the option to IM or call which show up on the profile page when you are logged in to ljtalk. Seems to be a slight lack of thought on that one: first of all when I hit either of those buttons I get an error message because my system doesn't recognise the "gizmoljtalk protocol", unsurprisingly so since no one has ever told it about any such thing (how would I tell ubuntu/gnome/epiphany about it, anyone?). Secondly, despite what it says there is no point whatsoever in trying to call me through this, even though I am logged in and can be IMed, because I am logged in on Gaim which doesn't as yet have voice capability, and the client they are pushing doesn't appear to be available for linux yet: they need to change it so it doesn't assume that if you can be IMed you can be called. I suppose Ekiga would work but frankly I can't be arsed to try.
Ho hum. The Meter Man appears to have disappeared. I hope he hasn't been clamped. Oh, here he is. Hooray, I have a water meter. How long before I start putting bricks in the loo cistern I wonder.
Feeling v. tired at the moment and constantly headachy. I have a vague suspicion I need an eye test. I am ridiculously busy with advisory work but all my court hearings keep settling: almost two thousand quids worth of chargeable work has gone off this week.
Spent yesterday morning at the Red Mass at Westminster Cathedral (service for the start of the legal year), all dressed up in wig and gown and uncomfortably aware, as I talked to various High Court, ECtHR, and Roman Rota (Catholic canon law) judges and drank
slightlyfar too much for 11am on a Monday morning that Basil had left more cat hair on my gown than I had previously realised. Then dragged off to Soho by people I had never met in my life before for a "lunch" that went on until 3. Not an enormous amount of chargeable work that day...
Tumtitum. Vaguely bored with everything at the moment. The most interesting thing in my life is proofing etc K's PhD thesis. Oh, and Maid Marion and Her Merry Men, a work of genius.
During the Super Furry Animals set yesterday I noticed a (very pretty) woman nearby who looked vaguely familiar, and spent the next five minutes desparately racking my brains wondering who it was: I was convinced it was someone I vaguely knew and was worried that my notoriously crap visual memory was going to let me down embarrassingly once more.
On the way out she called after me, and I turned, afraid this was the moment I was going to have to bluff. All she said, however, was "sorry, but you have a plastic bag stuck to your foot." Which I did. "Thanks," said I, finally realising that the reason I thought I recognised her was she looked startlingly like Neve Campbell, for whom I always did have a Thing, ever since the days of Party of Five. And wandered off. Realising as I did that the woman who had spoken to me sounded a lot like Neve Campbell too. Including the slight Canadian accent. That's the Neve Campbell who does actually now live in London and is currently appearing in the West End. At which point the woman passed me again and I realised that it was in fact Neve Campbell.
Via Sbp and Moviehole the news that Twin Peaks season two, which I still consider one of the best TV dramas yet made, is finally to be released on DVD later this year. Entirely by coincidence I started watching my box set of season 1 last night as I'm currently more in the mood for that than continuing to make my slow way through the complete Buffy box set. And it all comes flooding back...
Animaniacs volume 1 is out next month as well hurrah.
I left the house twice this weekend, on specific short errands. The rest of my time I spent in bed, listening to the wind howl... no snow, though there was plenty of that Friday, just wind and drizzle. Since Saturday morning consisted largely of an intake of neurofen and a re-iteration of the mantra that past 30 one should not mix wine and whisky this was possibly a wise move. (Highlights of Friday evening included my gun-toting secretary picking me up and carrying me round the boardroom in an effort to persuade me to stay, but we'll draw a veil over that.)
My resolve not to buy more stuff before my imminent return crumbled on Friday afternoon and I ended up walking out of Ottakars some 25 quid the poorer. All now read.
First up was the second Captain Alatriste, Purity of Blood. These are essentially Arturo Perez-Reverte's Spanish version of Dumas (you can't help trying to work out whether, and if so at what point in his career, Captain Alatriste will actually run into the Three Musketeers). They've apparently been a massive craze in Spain for years, but its only very recently, presumably on the back of Perez-Reverte's success with his other novels, from The Dumas Club (filmed, by all accounts unsuccessfully, as The Ninth Gate (not seen) and the novel featuring a cameo appearance by one of its obvious inspirers, an unnamed great Dumas fan, described only as the Professor of Semiotics at Bologna) to Queen of the South, that they've been translated. I think they're fantastic fun.
Second was Naomi Novik's Temeraire (how does she get livejournal to do that?) - Napoleonic fantasy with dragons. The blurb cites Stephen King referencing Susannah Clarke. I don't think this is anywhere near up to the strength of Jonathan Strange, but then I think few things are. I do think that early-modern to Victorian fantasy (as opposed to science) influenced alternate history is a sub-genre that's going to be quite popular for a while, and why not? Lots of mileage. As Joff semi-argued elsewhere it has the advantage over steampunk in that the bounds of the latter if construed strictly, are pretty narrow -and lets face it, few conform. It's not new as such -Clarke's partner, Colin Greenland produced what I think remains his most imaginative and best-written work yet, Harm's Way some years ago now, even before one goes delving into prototypes in older stuff. So the real question, as with all genres, is what to call it. Steam and Sorcery?
To be honest, the other blurb, from McCaffrey, was more indicative of where the novel was going, as was the reference to Patrick O'Brien (who, I'm afraid, completely fails to grab me, give me Hornblower and Ramage any day, though I'm aware the vast majority of my reading list disagree) though she's a better writer than MacCaffrey ever was. Her characters are far less complex than Clarke's, and it feels far more a straight historical novel with added dragons (though to be fair this is but the first of a series). One thing Clarke did that Novik is less strong on is try and give some historical context: it's difficult without a bit more background to believe that notwithstanding a serious aerial bombardment capability used, we're told, by Francis Drake to beat the armada, we've nonetheless ended up in much the same historical situation at the time of Trafalgar (which takes place, offstage, during the book) as we do in our universe -though one notable outcome of Trafalgar seems to be different. Certainly worth keeping an eye on though.
Last up was part of my on-going effort to re-read a significant chunk of The Canon: on this occasion Trollope's Barchester novels, specifically Barchester Towers. It must be more than 15 years since I touched these, and I'd utterly forgotten how they read. I'd still take Austen, George Eliot, and Thackeray above him but he's a close follower (and streets ahead of Dickens in my personal ranking). Where he falls down most is on the romantic element -I don't find those relationships particularly convincing, though he does have a few brilliant one-liners even there. But the social and ecclesiastical politics, and the humour -even when he wanders away on one of his digressions- is marvellous. Incidentally I'm half convinced Tolkien had Barsetshire in mind when he created the Shire, though a Barsetshire shorn of the city pf Barchester and the ecclesiastical elements that for Trollope were the foundations of the place. (In particular I think the "Long-Expected Party" owes a conscious debt to the Thorne's great do at Ellathorne - I imagine someone has pointed this out before but it was a new realisation for me.)
Incidentally, I forgot to write about Gothic Nightmares at The Tate at which I spent much of last Saturday courtesy and in the always good company of Frankie. Well worth a visit anyway, particularly for room 6 ("Fairies and Fatal Women", including Blake and Fuseli's Midsummer Night's Dream inspired-work and associated pieces, plus some of Fuseli's porn (as in explicit, rather than as in "almost everything he ever painted")), though definitely better to try and find an off-peak time to go.
Spent Sunday evening with Midsomer Murders, in which
Bergerac's DCI Barnaby's sidekick is these days played by that chap what played Warren in This Life. Which makes his claim that he used to visit Midsomer Whatever's annual show regularly as a child feel a bit spurious, as it's difficult enough to believe that he stepped outside the Valleys once before the age of 18, let alone that he was an annual visitor to a small village in pastiche-Glos/Oxon. I mean, there's suspension of disbelief, and there's flying trapezi of disbelief. Also if I knew Barnaby was investigating a murder in my small village I'd be on the road away from there as fast as possible, the man is more Death on a Pale Horse than Morse ever was. Absolute nonsense, guest-starring a hamming-it-up Simon Callow (does he ever do anything else, but I love him to pieces, plus he once gave me a cigar) can't do better on a Sunday evening.
Madeira-aged Glenmorangie is a marvellous thing, and tolerably affordable when regularly passing through duty-free. So, by and large, is Chilean Merlot followed by Dubonnet. Yes, I did spend a large part of the weekend mildly sloshed. I just have to remember not to mix the two... Still, at least I discovered the Sekrit, or rather, misplaced, stash of cds: Mozart Requiem and Beethoven Late Quartets both of which, particularly the latter, bear repeated re-listening.
Some bits and pieces of writing done as well, none of it particularly good.
I awoke on Sunday morning just as I was about to fight a duel with Edward VIII (while still prince of wales) or just possibly his father. I consider this a shame, and have no idea whatsoever what he was doing on my mind. I almost never remember my dreams, so obviously something important was going on. (The duel was taking place, rather atypically, at sunset, in a place that seemed a cross between Hyde Park and the Embankment to which I had a pass for access. What? Anyway, would anyone ever have called out or been called out by the heir to the throne? Sayers has Wimsey claim he had been called out once or twice, so relying on her accuracy I'm assuming it isn't entirely anachronistic, but still...)
I was then convinced I needed to ring Frankie and arrange to meet for coffee later that day, fortunately I was no further than groping for my phone and bringing her number up on the address book when I realied that (a) I was actually on Jersey whereas she was in London, or possibly Edinburgh, and (b) it was 5.30 in the morning. She and K. would, I suspect, have been unamused.
Eventually my discombobulation passed and I spent most of the rest of the day, as the wind blew and the sun shone on the snow outside, sitting in bed being nostalgic about old photographs, trying to work on four works in progress, none of which achieved much progress during the day, but such is life. And reading Frances Stonor Saunders' Hawkwood, fascinating but I never felt I had much of a sense of the man. Best read of the weekend, however, goes without doubt to George MacDonald Fraser's hysterically funny The Pyrates, which I recommend to each and every one of you.
And then Lewis, the long-awaited Morse spin-off. Delighted to see that before the first advert break they had already cut down from Broad Street along the Radcliffe Square side of All Souls to somewhere, in a car. Which might be possible were they in Hot Pursuit (TM), as I think you could physically pass through to the High (?if you take down some bollards?) but not otherwise. All in all fun, but I don't know if it has the steam to go it alone: eventually they'd have to drop the sighs, glimpses of red Mark II Jaguars, visits to the pub, music prizes called Endeavour and cryptic crossword clues left in one of Morse's old files.
The sun is shining and though there's no cotton on Jersey, the wind is howling, and the temperature freezing, I'm in a remarkably good mood. Enjoy it while ye may.
Via Martin the "John Hopkins Test" for whether you are an alcoholic. Oh dear. There doesn't appear to be an option for "have you ever attempted to cure a crucifying hangover with a Bloody Mary? Did it work?" (Yes).
Rather than write about the continuing grumbling of uk and international politics, or finalise my tax return, or continue to research a fascinating, if insanely complicated aspect of a rather scarily big piece of potential litigation that has come my way, or worry about bird flu in Istanbul, I thought I'd write about ( TV )
Lack of internet availability at home (which continues but may be sorted fairly soon) was the main cause of my hiatus, but I'm also going through a phase of feeling I don't have anything to write about. These six months stuck out in the Channel are something of a hiatus in my life generally, and that seems to be carrying over to here.
I don't mind it here most of the time, and there are some real benefits (I think I may hop over to St Malo this weekend), though most of them involve being outside and the weather stinks at the moment. I know now that I did choose the right side of the English legal profession for me though: being a solicitor is really not my forte.
And I've run out of books again, having finished A Feast for Crows in one sitting and also run out of Frankie's care package. Well, almost: I've returned to a re-read of The Once and Future King that I put to one side in August.
Spent Saturday wandering around Elizabeth Castle in light drizzle (accessible only by boat or, more usually, ex-army Duck at high tide: Jersey has one of the most ridiculously huge tidal flows in the world and imbeciles who don't know what they are doing often find themselves caught, on one notorious relatively recent occasion with horses, which they managed to persuade up a Martello tower). The castle is huge, mostly commissioned when Raleigh was governor (though it incorporates St Helier's alleged early medieval hermitage) but pretty much continuing in use and development up to and during the occupation. The Germans built it into their own ring of massive island fortifications, so you have the vaguely incongruous sight of a seventeenth century gateway next to a searchlight bunker, with sheep grazing on top. Actually this happened all over the island: the Napoleonic-era Martello towers and the medieval castle at Gorey were all re-fortified I think.
Ho hum. Not dead yet, just resting.
And while I'm doing links: new Robin Hood. One hopes the last line is a joke. I'm not entirely clear whether "The series will follow ITV's hit 1980s series Robin of Sherwood" (all pause to hum "The Hooded Man") means it will specifically refer back to that (I have a feeling the rights are tied up in an insolvency somehow) or something more general.
Prompted by a reminder on a board I read...
Monkey Dust: "[...] Series three sees the return of old favourites such as Ivan Dobsky, the falsely-imprisoned mass-murderer; Omar, Abdul and Shafiq, the would-be terrorists from West Bromwich; [...]"
If I remember rightly (I don't actually like Monkey Dust that much), the repetitive gag is something along the lines of their being regularly diverted from their assassination and bombing plans by wanting to catch the end of Coronation Street, and similar trivia...
Not this time...
I have mixed feelings, given I loved the original. One part of me wants to know what really did happen. Did Egg ever work out what he wanted to do with his life? Is Anna in rehab? How long did Miles' marriage last? (Can Nardini, let alone Amita Dhiri, possibly command equal billing with Davenport, or even Lincoln)
On the other hand, that moment is possibly one of the best tv drama endings ever. A definitive answer to "what happened next" would rather spoil it.
You know, I could have sworn that was a Kipling line. Perhaps it is, but the only answers Google can come up with are the Goons (which I knew, indeed it was hearing the Goons episode that prompted the search) and John Lennon.
It's twenty past midnight on a school night and I'm playing on the interweb and drinking whiskey. I have no real excuse. Well, the whiskey is currently the only anaesthetic that works on my arm and shoulder, which otherwise becomes unbearable in the evening, and I stayed up because Joey was on and I wanted to see what I made of it. Currently, hmmm. It has good gags but I don't yet see the staying power Friends or, more directly comparable, Frasier had from the first moment.
And earlier, a weird and morbid ER episode. (Incidentally, they have done real-time stuff before, haven't they? Or maybe I'm just imagining that.)
Frankly, I'm not well-equipped to watch such things emotionally at the moment. I was at home all weekend seeing my father. The man who taught me to appreciate the Goon Show, and Kipling, amongst half a million other things.
I wrote a long paragraph here and then deleted it. Fuck it. Stick with the words of a man my father knew, in a particularly appropriate poem:
Dust in sunlight and memory in corners
Wait for the wind that chills towards the dead land
The man who directed the video for November Rain sounds refreshingly like Bill Bailey. But if I have to listen to bloody Sinead banging on about Nothing Compares 2 U once more in my entire life I shan't be answerable for the consequences.
Dalziel and Pascoe seems oddly inspired by the Lucan affair. Though it was Freddie Aspinall who had the private zoo (he being one of the people, along with Goldsmith, Rowland, et al, not to mention Marcia Falkender and Harold Wilson, that Richard Ingrams and the Private Eye team thought knew a great deal more about it than they were saying).
Yes, I am sitting around being bored and full of flu, why do you ask?