Monday, January 31, 2011

Downton Abbey wrap-up

So, I watched last night, oddly absorbed in the twisted lives of these fictional people.

Glad to learn that Bates is as great a guy as I had hoped, from the start. Did we know that he had been married?

Thomas sees service in WWI as his best way to escape from his co-workers, who now hate him. I bet once he gets to the Flanders front, he'll wish he was back stealing wine.

Mary - you blew it, and your sister will never like you (and is secretly brushing up on her Turkish, to maintain that edge during dinner conversations).

I don't get the miscarriage scene - what was going on with the two bars of soap under the tub? Did O'Brien sabotage things? Did I miss some clue? Since she's a smoker (and a friend of Thomas), we know she's capable of ANYTHING.

Happy to see the two cooks collaborating, after their initial frosty relationship. I was afraid that an entire sub-plot of recipe sabotage was about to start, and life is too short for that, with WWI approaching. Maybe it was a metaphor for the upcoming alliance between the English and the French. Just joking - there's no logical explanation for that (after centuries of killing each other).

Daisy - still largely clueless after all these episodes.

Is it anachronistic to see the servants smoking cigarettes? I had thought that it was soldiers returning from WWI that popularized them, and that they were quite uncommon prior to the war. Also, they made a big deal about putting in the first telephone. Is that true for the period, or was it just an opportunity for the head butler to have a comic scene (and why haven't they shown him dancing, reprising his former life as a vaudeville performer)?

Maggie Smith: still the best eyebrows and pursed lips in the business.

Did anyone else recognize the actress who plays Mrs. Crawley as the mother in 'Shaun of the Dead'? I spotted her from the start and still keep confusing those two roles.

Final question: did Hosni Mubarak watch last night, too, to take his mind off other things?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Sunday evening TV

It was a busy day, with my doing a radio show in the morning, Karen going to a friend's funeral in the morning and to her office to work in the afternoon, and both of us going to an evening Shiva at the friends' house, all the while also thinking about the mess of mud and water in the basement, where, overnight, our dependable-until-now drainage system backed up. The guys who installed it a few years ago are coming over to take a look.

But, to digress, last night, when we finally got home, Karen resumed working at the kitchen table, watching TV with me out of the corner of her eyes.

We watched a 'Nature' show about animals in the arctic dealing with life and death issues. I was struck by how much of Nature involves the need for being on a sharp lookout, either for someone smaller to kill and eat, or for something bigger and stronger (or smarter) to suddenly grab and eat you.

Fortunately, humans are largely exempt from the 'at any moment I may be eaten' concern. This is progress, but maybe the lingering memories of those instincts are still lurking in all of us, which explains shows like 'The Bachelor'.

Following 'Nature' was the next episode of the current Masterpiece Theater drama, an 'Upstairs/Downstairs' story of upper-class English actors, and their subservient staff, also composed of articulate English actors.

Several actors reminded me of various animals in the prior show. Fortunately, humans have progressed to the point where (at least in the world of BBC drama), the paid-to-be-meek do have ways of getting leverage to counter the power of the too-much-time-on-their-hands crowd.

Not sure what all this means, but I have to say that Maggie Smith has marvelously expressive eyes. Nobody does haughty disdain better. Love it, and can't wait for next week's installment, when the news gets out about what happened to the Turkish dude.

desperately seeking the TRULY gullible

Email received this morning:

They didn't even take the trouble to poach the Visa logo. C'mon, guys.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Euro heading down?

$1.29 today. Let's look at recent history:
See the peak, in October 2009? That's when we were in Spain. I tried not not to think too much about those $5 glasses of orange juice (although they were, it must be admitted, very good).

The balance due for our May bike-and-barge trip is to be paid in February, based on the Euro/Dollar rate at that time. If the current trend continues, this will be a good thing. Usually, my economic timing is more in line with the Spain-rate.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Birds and Fish are talking to us

If it happens once, that's odd. If it happens twice, that's unsettling.