Category Archives: entertainment

Skyscrapers, Ok Go

This song has been in my head all week.  I cannot get rid of it, and I don’t much want to.  I love how the more I watch, the more I see – the intimacy, the betrayal, the redemption, all in three and a half minutes of tango. Beautiful, just beautiful.  Ok Go has produced some amazing videos, but this may just be my favourite.

Here is the video:

And just in case you are curious, here are the lyrics:

Skyscrapers, please forgive me.
I didn’t mean a word I said.
Skyscrapers, I was just tangled up in my own head.

And somehow in all the madness,
I thought that I was seeing straight.
It ain’t always pretty, but it seemed there was no other way.

And I guess all I ever loved was standing right before my eyes,
and I, oh oh oh I .. I was blind.

So skyscrapers, please forgive me.
I stand here a penitent man.
Skyscrapers, I’ll never look down again … again …
‘Cause I guess all I ever loved was standing right before my eyes.
Oh yeah, I guess all I ever loved was standing … was standing … was standing here all the time, and I .. yeah I .. I was blind … I was blind … I was blind

You were right here all the time.
You were right here all the time and I was blind.
I was blind.
I was blind.
oh I was blind.
I was blind.
(outro)

 

PS.  I would love to have the green-blue-purple spectrum clothes.  Not sure if I could get Darren into any of those suits though…

 

Punny Guys

For those not acquainted with my family, it is a well known fact that my father is a punster. He’s a smart guy, and while his jokes occasionally fall flat, most of them are pretty good. (I laugh at the good ones anyways). But he really shines when it comes to puns. Enter my husband, also a smart guy, and a closet punster. Over the past eleven years it has been a pleasure to watch their punny battles – the mutual admiration as one of them nails a really good pun and the growing one-up-manship as the pun-skirmish gets longer and longer is a delight to behold.

The following exchange occurred this past Boxing Day. Darren and I had spent Christmas night at my sister’s house while our kids slept at my parents place.   Boxing Day dawned, cloudy and cold, and the exiles were summoned back to the homestead for brunch…

(Darren is the green, Dad is the white, “NitNits” is my Dad’s word for “Tintin”.  He likes to reverse words for fun.  Benno becomes Onneb, you get the idea.  Anyway, on with the hilarity!)

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So, did you laugh or groan or both?

Happy Friday:)

All Creatures Great and Small

It’s been a while since I posted anything entertainment-related, so I figured that Friday was a good day to talk a little bit about what I’ve been digesting.  I seem to be generally attracted to British shows (Jeeves and Wooster, Jam and Jerusalem, Pride and Prejudice, etc) and this instalment is no different.  For your enjoyment, I present James Herriot‘s All Creatures Great and Small.

All Creatures follows the adventures of James Herriot, a Yorkshire country vet who began his practice in the 1940s.  Lead Christopher Timothy is joined by Robert Hardy as Siegfried, the energetic gentleman who owns the Yorkshire veterinary practice, and the charming Peter Davison as his brother, Tristan.  (In the first episode you learn that their mother had a weakness for Wagner).  Carol Drinkwater plays Helen Alderson, James’ love interest.

All Creatures is a wonderful series, almost as good as James Herriot’s books, which are filled with touching and funny stories that make you cry and laugh out loud, often at the same time.  The series certainly captures the spirit of the books, and aficionados will enjoy Siegfried’s bluster, Tristan’s propensity towards disasters, and the blossoming love between James and Helen.  It is also wonderful to see the actors really working with the animals (including sprawling in the mud chasing after piglets and the full examination of a cow who is in labour).  It gives us a city folk a glimpse of the joys and trials of country farm life, however idealized it may be for the screen.  All Creatures is a very worthwhile way to spend some time in front of the digital hearth.

And as a special bonus, here is a short documentary on the making of the series.  You may want to wait until you have finished watching the show before you check this one out 🙂

Jam and Jerusalem

…or, a little something to amuse you on this holiday Monday.

One day when I was looking for Absolutely Fabulous episodes online I ran across this little show called Jam and Jerusalem written by Jennifer Saunders and Abigail Wilson.  I took a quick look and as it had Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley playing minor roles so I didn’t give it much thought. However, as I searched for Jennifer Saunders interviews I kept running into this series so I threw caution to the wind and gave it a whirl.

As it turns out, Jam and Jerusalem is a totally charming look at life in the village of Clatterford St. Mary.  The plot centers around the members of the local women’s guild, including Eileen – the self-important president of the guild, Kate – a perpetually cheerful young widow, Rosie – a factory worker with multiple personality disorder (played brilliantly by Dawn French), Tip – a medical receptionist/sheep farmer, and Sal – the wife of the local doctor. When Sal’s husband dies of a heart attack in the first episode, the member of the Women’s Guild rally around to help her in her time of need.  Sally Philips (Shazzer of Bridget Jones’ Diary) and David Mitchell (of “Mitchell and Webb” and various other comedic projects) play Sal’s children.

Here’s what I really like about the series.

1. It has some really, really good character acting. As “Rosie” Dawn French gives one of the most sympathetic portrayals of mental illness that I have ever seen,  Not only do you like her, you are amazed at how seamlessly she slips in and out of each of her characters. Reminds me of the “Gollum/Smeagol” scene in “The Two Towers.”  Jennifer Saunders gives a very understated performance as the upper-crust Caroline.  But watch for a particularly moving scene in the third series.  Makes me cry, every time.  And take note of the continual references to Sting and other celebrities.  Extremely funny.

2. Saunders and Wilson do an excellent job in their treatment of the Anglican Vicar.  An uptight, slightly neurotic and highly stressed “high church” Anglican, the Vicar (played by Patrick Barlow) suffers the indignities of a “low church” culture and an aging congregation whose particular quirks ruffle his ecclesiastical feathers.  But the genius of the writing is that unlike many portrayals of Christian clergy, the vicar is not a straw man.  Sometimes he is right, sometimes he is wrong.  Sometimes he is a jerk, and sometimes he displays great caring and compassion for his parishioners.  As the series progresses we see a man who has a great love for beauty and order who has been thrust into the midst of a village that is set in its ways and determined to keep up with its traditions, no matter how tawdry or trite they may be.  Watch for the vegetable man and the Last Supper craft made out of teazels.  You’ll see what I mean.

3. The Guild.  In the fifth episode of Series 1 the guild is visited by a member of the larger Guild executive, who comes just to check up on how the Clatterford St. Mary branch is getting along.  Lady Anne Crump puts her finger on the purpose and value of the Guild: to bring together women from different walks of life to support each other and benefit the community.  If it wasn’t for the Guild, it is likely that these ladies wouldn’t interact with each other.  I’m at a point in my life where I can really see the value in having an institution like this, in having people to support you through all stages of your life. (Thankfully, I do have friends like this – shout out to Moms and Tots!)

4. The music.  The title song (a cover of The Kinks ‘Village Green Preservation Society’), as well as much of the rest of the music, is done by Kate Rusby, who has a lovely clear voice.  I especially loved “Sweet Bride” in episode 5 of series 2, so beautiful.  She even appears in person in one of the episodes, but I’m not going to tell you which one because it would ruin a plot point. Aside from Kate Rusby, the music for the series is very Celtic, a pleasure to listen to.  I watch the series partially for the music, just like my love for the Kiera Knightly version of Pride and Prejudice comes from that utterly lush piano soundtrack.

Well, enough of the recommendations.  Don’t you think it’s time you checked out Jam and Jerusalem?  Let me know what you think!

Goyte Covers

One of the catchiest, most introspective, coolest pop songs released in the last couple of years is Goyte’s “Somebody That I Used to Know”.  Even I, who am woefully behind the times when is comes to pop culture, have heard of this chap from Australia (who seems like a genuinely nice person, which is always encouraging).  Just in case you haven’t heard the song, here is it…

This song has spawned a LOT of covers, as you can see from this little sampling…

…which lead me to a little exploring, which included this gem.

Oh George.  All that money and you still didn’t hire an editor.  Ah well…

The Queen of Crime

Agatha Christie

I have been doing a fair amount of tidying around the house lately (not that you can necessarily tell because I do live with three kids and I’m not always the neatest napkin in the drawer), so I have been “listening” to YouTube while performing the mundane tasks of life. “Listening” to YouTube consists of finding a program longer than half an hour, inserting one earbud into my right ear, placing the iPhone in my pocket, pressing “play”, and getting to down to the task at hand. This usually works best if I am listening to familiar material. That way I don’t have to keep sneaking glances at the phone to see what I am missing.

I always love series because they eliminate the need to search for something new. That sounds like laziness, doesn’t it? It also has to do with the comfort of knowing what I am getting. And who better to start with than the great Agatha Christie?

I began reading Agatha Christie as a teenager, and it probably wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that I devoured her novels. Every time we went to the library I would scour the mystery section for novels I hadn’t read. For those uninitiated, Christie created two major characters, the Belgian detective Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple, an elderly crime specialist. She wrote scores of short stories and novels, as well as novels under the name of Mary Westmacott. One of my favourite non-fiction books is Come Tell Me How You Live, in which she writes about her journeys with her archaeologist-husband, Max Mallowan.

One of my favourite Poirot novels is Death on the Nile. I know that there are a couple of good movie versions, but there is just something about reading that story that puts me completely into that world. I am wholly transported to Egypt in the 1930s, traveling down the Nile by steamer, visiting the monuments, and trying to discover just who could have shot the lovely Linnet.

Also worth while are the two movie versions of Murder on the Orient Express. Can there be anything more chilling than the opening sequence of the 1974 version starring Albert Finney as Hercule Poirot? I remember watching it when I was babysitting as a teenager and I was so creeped out I had to turn it off even though I had seen the movie before. It’s even worse when you have kids.

But I think I’m even more impressed with David Suchet’s 2010 rendition. Suchet (and the writers) does such a wonderful job of portraying the great moral struggle that Poirot goes through as he discovers the identity of the killer, you see that his love for justice is coupled with his knowledge of the frailty and fallibility of human beings. (For an extra treat you can take a peek at David Suchet’s trip on the real Orient Express where he learns about the history of the railway, rides in the same coaches that Christie would have travelled in, and even gets to drive the engine!)

My favourite Miss Marple series is with Joan Hickson, who was actually tagged by Agatha Christie herself to play the character. She is so gentle, but so brutal and clear. Here she is in the first of the programs, Body in the Library. Do yourself a favour, check up the full program list on Wikipedia, and watch them all on YouTube.

In addition to watching her novels on screen, this last little stint of Christie-obsessiveness lead to a couple of interesting programs on the Queen of Crime herself. The first is Agatha Christie’s Garden which shows Greenway, her home in Devon which is in the process of being opened to the public. The second is a biopic called Agatha Christie: A Life in Pictures that explores her mysterious disappearance in 1926 as well as her husband’s infidelity. I recognize some of the monologues as taken directly from her autobiography, and the meat of the story is apparently taken from her interviews with a psychiatrist after her disappearance. I’ve read a couple of reviews from people who were disappointed with the docudrama, and it certainly isn’t a factual, linear representation of this time in her life. Christie never spoke of the incident in public. However, I really liked how the film shows her sifting through the fog of depression to confront the betrayal of her husband. It is very stark, making you feel her loss very deeply.

So there it is. A glimpse into my lifelong appreciation of the writing of Agatha Miller Christie Mallowan. Now go borrow one of her books from the library or I’ll slip you some cyanide.