March 2012

I found this at Netflix, and am glad I did.

Wish Me Luck was produced by London Weekend Television and aired on ITV from 1988 through 1990.  Jane Asher, Julian Glover, Kate Buffery and Michael J. Jackson are the only actors who appear in all 3 series.  The series also features two very young, at the time unknown, actors: Jeremy Northam and Shirley Henderson.  Northam is particularly adorable, but I have not yet seen the episodes in which Henderson appears.  Yes, I’m reviewing a program after only having seen the first 8 episodes.  But these first 8 episodes are terrific.  Of course, the series does suffer from the typical 1980s production values, but there is so much to like about it.

Wish Me Luck is about British subjects who are sent to France to help the Resistance defeat the Nazis.  Faith (Jane Asher) and Cad (Julian Glover) are the heads of the program.  They recruit and train British subjects and send them to France.  Series 1 focuses on Liz (code name Céleste), a wife/mother from Devon; Mathilde (a.k.a. “Matty”, code name Aimée), a half-French, half-Jewish factory worker from Stepney; and Colin (code name Cyrano), an actor.   The three of them train together and are assigned to the same area of France.  The 8 episodes show what happens to them in France — where they deal with friendship, betrayal and danger.  I don’t want to spoil this for anyone and, if I tell you who lives and who dies, I’ll do just that.

If the remaining 2 series are as good as the first one, then I can hardly wait to see the rest.


Or, more accurately, I don’t think we’re in New York anymore.

I was out taking a walk at lunch the other day, and I happened to pass by the local courthouse.  There’s some construction going on right now, but the plaza is still a place where people congregate.  There are tables where workers gather for lunch, while others cut across the plaza to get somewhere else.  The complex takes up 2 blocks in the East/West direction, so there is plenty of open space.  Anyway, while I was cutting across the plaza to head south towards the bank, I passed by this little guy:

Taking a stroll

In New York, you don’t see beautiful birds like this taking a stroll about town. The only wildlife I’m accustomed to is rats, squirrels (rats with good P.R.), mice, sparrows and pigeons (rats with wings), so I have no idea what kind of bird this is.  I think he may be a heron or an egret, but I’ll have to do some research to find out for sure. Regardless, I think it’s kind of cool.

Speaking of birds, sandhill cranes are tall, gray-ish birds that take walks around my neighborhood.  I’ve passed them on the sidewalk, and they don’t scare easily.  I don’t have any pictures of them handy, but here’s one I found online.  They are monogamous, and I’ve seen entire families (Mom, Dad and 2 “colts”) out for a stroll on a lazy Florida afternoon.  I’ve seen traffic stop in all directions while a family is crossing the street.   It’s almost as if they know they’re a protected species and they can get away with anything because of it.

I’ve never been much of a bird person, but Florida birds just fascinate me.  There’s a pond in back of our house, and the dogs go wild every time a bird stands on the bank stretching out his wings to dry them.  We also get alligators, turtles (I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve had to hit the brakes to avoid a turtle), bobcats, panthers and rabbits.

It would appear that there is more to wildlife than just scavengers.  Who knew?

I know I didn’t post about this when I got home from the game on Sunday, but Real Life  got in the way and I didn’t get a chance until just now.

The Pirates lost, 8-5, but it was a fun game. The Jays made several stellar plays in the field, but the Pirates’ defense was pretty awful. They had 3 errors, and just looked dreadful. The Marauders last year had one of the worst defenses in the league, so I hope they make defense a priority this year.

That said, I went into the game not caring who won. But I ended up pulling for the Pirates because a) they had 2 ex Mets (Nick Evans and Rod Barrajas) and b) 2 2011 Marauders played in the game (Robbie Grossman and Starling Marte). Evans hit a lead off HR in the 7th, but it wasn’t enough to help the Pirates win.

The mascots were in fine form, and the crowd seemed to be enjoying themselves.

Here are my pictures (as always, you can click on them to make them larger):

The Jays' token Canadian on 3rd.

It was really windy -- the flags were wrapping themselves around the flagpoles.

Evans plays 3rd.

Robbie Grossman's first AB.

Marty mingles with the crowd.

Starling Marte gets a turn at bat.

I just (finally!) finished Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James.  My mother even wanted to read it, so we bought a copy at Books-a-Million and, since I was still reading Major Pettigrew, Mom started reading Death Comes to Pemberley.  I went into it with high hopes — as you all know, Austen is my absolute favorite author, and P.D. James is brilliant in her own way, and the combination of Austen’s characters and a James plot was very, very enticing.

The reality, however, did not live up to my expectations.  Granted, it’s possible that my expectations were too high, but this book was not nearly as entertaining as it could have been.  I’ve read enough sequels, prequels, modernizations and retellings of Austen to know that they absolutely can be entertaining.  In fact, my favorite sequel of all (Pemberley Shades, by Dorothy Bonavia-Hunt) has a mystery at its core.

As I said before, I am a fan of both Austen and James, and I found this book to be decidedly unsatisfying on both counts.  Elizabeth and Darcy weren’t instantly recognizable as Austen’s beloved characters. They were actually rather boring people.  Wickham ends up being a decorated soldier and Mrs. Younge turns out to be his sister.  The murder victim is Wickham’s friend, Captain Denny, and Wickham is arrested for the murder.  The real murderer is a dying man who lives on the Pemberley estate who thinks he is killing Wickham, the man who seduced his sister and left her with an illegitimate child.  The last few chapters, where first Colonel Fitzwilliam, and then Wickham, explained the whole story, were a muddle.  I did like how James brought in other Austen characters — Wickham’s employer was a Sir Walter Elliot and the people who end up adopting Wickham’s bastard are a Mr. and Mrs. Robert Martin of Highbury.  But overall I did not find myself emotionally involved in this story at all.  I kept reading because I hoped it would get better.  Unfortunately, it never did.  And, just for the record, Mom found it rather dull also.

Overnight I got an email from Amazon Canada telling me that they are offering a special for Harry Potter fans. It’s an amazing boxed set containing all 8 films in DVD, Blu-ray and digital editions. The set includes a total of 13 discs, and there are tons of extras. Here’s the complete description from their website. I don’t happen to have an extra $349.99 (whether it be Canadian, American or even Australian) lying around. But if I did, this sure sounds like something I’d consider buying.

It is a little odd that this new boxed set is for sale because of the announcement from Warner that no new Potter products were going to be available after December, 2011.  Who knows.  I’m not exactly “plugged in” with Warner, and I am one of the millions of fans still waiting for Pottermore to go live.  So, if you are in a position to buy this, please let me know if it’s any good.  If not, I still have the regular movies (and, of course, the books!) to keep me company.


Update! — For those who don’t want to/can’t buy from, the set is being offered for $349.99 US.  Unfortunately, regardless of whose dollar we’re talking about, I still can’t afford it.  *sigh*

I’d been dying to see this one but, until today, it had only been at Burns Court. But for today and tomorrow only, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was this week’s featured film for “Burns Court at the Ranch”.

The cast is stellar: Gary Oldman, Ciarán Hinds, Colin Firth, John Hurt, Benedict Cumberbatch, Mark Strong and Tom Hardy, among others. I admit to never having read the book but, since John Le Carré himself was involved in the production, I figured it would be pretty faithful to the original story.

I liked it enough to want to read the book and see the 1979 TV series starring Alec Guinness as Smiley, but I have to admit that I found the ending to be extremely confusing. The person who was eventually outed as the mole was on my list of suspects, but I walked out of the theater having no idea whatsoever how Smiley determined who it was. Neither, by the way, did any of the people who sat near me.

I’d really love to hear other people’s opinions of this movie.