The good things in life

Let me start with the bad things in life. Specifically Boris Johnson as new prime minister of the UK and a Burqa-ban which has come into effect today in The Netherlands are upsetting me and so, for my own sanity, I keep my news intake to a minimum right now. Instead, I try to focus on the good things in life. For instance: my summer holiday started on Wednesday, the technique of using baking powder to clean my two pairs of  Birkenstock slippers sorta worked (I walk on them all day every day in the summer, I kid you not), today Mr Esther, my daughter and I will go on a day trip to a city near the German border, and tomorrow I am going to meet my ex-coworker’s two week old baby girl! When we exchanged chat messages earlier this week, she said she was very low on bibs for the baby, so I got her these (that 5th item is a shirt and not a bib)…

baby gifts

It’s always good to focus on babies over politics. 🙂

What also makes me happy is the new Picard trailer. I think I have watched it 10 times already. I love Jean-Luc Picard (and Patrick Stewart as well) and I so very much wish for leaders like him in the real world!

I can hardly wait for this in 2020!

Next up: as I love Roman Holiday so very much, I had to watch last weekend’s Hallmark movie Rome in Love, which was about an unknown actress getting ready to film a Roman Holiday remake and she herself falls in love with an American journalist in Rome. Kinda meta, I know. I watched the movie, it was OK, but had nowhere near the charm of Roman Holiday, which I just needed to watch again for the zillionth time. That movie is always the best pick-me-up movie! It got me back to zipping through some Audrey Hepburn movies again and boy was she good and gorgeous! The last movie she did was a small role as an angel in the Steven Spielberg movie Always. I re-watched her scenes in that and was struck by this image of her in the movie at one point…

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The humanity and kindness in her face in that sunset light is just breathtaking.

And there are more goodies to be focused on! On Guylty’s blog the other day she was asking about ‘other gods’ we like besides Richard. In the comments section I mentioned the other (male) gods present in folders on my computer…

I have several side attractions: Colin Firth, Gregory Peck, Hugh Jackman, but I also have some David Bowie, Keanu Reeves, Pierce Brosnan, Simon Baker, James Stewart, Lucas Bryant (yeah, not known), Richard Chamberlain and Viggo Mortensen folders. However those folders are tiny compared to my Richard Armitage folder. Just did a check, I think the largest folder after Richard is Colin Firth with some 400 items. Richard’s folder has 3000 items… 🙂

This triggered me to check out what my more recent actor-crush, Lucas Bryant, has been up to. He’s been pretty quiet of late, not many new roles to speak of, but I did find out that he’s been doing a few M.A.R.V.E.L. Agents of Shield episodes recently. I don’t watch that show but have watched (parts of) the 3 episodes he’s in last night and boy, did he look fine! The camera sure does like him in close-up.

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Last but not least, I watched the newest Suits episode this morning (season 9, episode 3) and in it there was a Louis Litt dream sequence which was so funny! Louis is a judge and a lawyer in that dream and the jury turns out to be made up out of 12 Harveys!

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Gabriel Macht, who plays Harvey on Suits, directed this episode and I wonder if this court scene was the funniest thing he has ever directed and how much fun did he have embodying those 12 Harveys? The eye-scratching middle finger and the one where he holds a cat like that (cats are Louis’s obsession, not Harvey’s!) are the highlights for me. All of Louis’s insecurities, especially with regards to Harvey, are on display here and that just cracks me up. Rick Hoffman as Louis remains a highlight of this show. Oh heck, here’s the whole scene…

I’m so glad there are also so many joys in this world. 🙂

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A blanket of joy over 15.000 people

Last night my friend, my sister, her girlfriend and I went to Amsterdam to see Hugh Jackman on stage in his show The Man, The Music, The Show.

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I knew what to expect from YouTube films I had seen from some years ago of Hugh doing such a show in Australia but what I wasn’t quite prepared for was the blanket of love and joy that one man was able to spread out over an audience of 15.000 people. It helps if you like the musical numbers he performs but I imagine that even if you don’t like the music, the joy just emanates anyway and is irresistible. Hugh Jackman really loves doing this.

The show opened with images of iconic Hugh Jackman film moments set to the opening beat of the song The Greatest Show, followed by a full on energetic performance of that song and the following song Come Alive by Hugh and his crew. I tried to take pictures with my phone but the quality isn’t great (some of these are snapshots from videos I took that aren’t great quality either, you can click on the pictures to enlarge them).

He proceeded to welcome the audience, telling us in one Dutch sentence that he couldn’t speak Dutch. He tried to pronounce Dutch town names in song, very quickly, which cemented the connection to his audience. He looked at an audience member and commiserated with him being there as there would be no Wolverine in this (“it’ll be a long 2 hours for you”). He was present, knows where he’s at, acknowledges what’s happening around him and engages the audience with humour. He then started to tell stories of his youth and the beginning of his careeer. He sang the Gaston song from Beauty and the Beast, which had been his first musical role. The joy with which he performs this is just infectious.

Someone filmed it and put it on YouTube…

He spoke so lovingly about his wife Deb and his kids, it was heartwarming and there were ‘aw’s coming from the audience. He sang a song that that had been sung at their wedding (The Way You Look Tonight). In the pictures I took Hugh is mostly a blob of light but luckily that was not how we actually saw him when he performed. It’s just tough getting good pictures with all the effects lighting, but it does give you a sense of the atmosphere.

Pictures taken off the screen were better…

Before the intermission there was a Les Miserables section with a medley of Valjean’s Soliloquy / I Dreamed a Dream / One Day More. Especially in the soliloquy Hugh showed that he was not just singing a song, he was also acting the role and became Jean Valjean for a little bit, which made the performance extra powerful. The man was giving everything.

After the intermission he became Peter Allen, The Boy From Oz, a role that had earned him a Tony Award.

That was a really fun segment where he went into the audience and picked up a guy to dance with him on stage. The guy’s girlfriend was asked up as well, Hugh couldn’t pronounce her name ‘Maartje’ but he did kiss her “94” times on her cheeks as that is how Dutch people greet each other (“when you meet someone in Holland it’s like you’re married!”). Hugh referenced one of the moments during this segment on Twitter last night:

The segment ended with a spectacular show with among others the song I Go To Rio

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He then sat down to sing the Peter Allen ballad Tenterfield Saddler beautifully…

… and that was followed by an absolutely captivating performance of A Million Dreams (another song from The Greatest Showman). A dancer performed the song in sign language and dance, Hugh joined in beautifully and at the end (not filmed anywhere that I could see) Hugh received a standing ovation. I couldn’t film the standing ovation myself because I was clapping my heart out but I did film the performance (and film doesn’t quite do it justice, it felt more special live).

Hugh received his standing ovation after the song graciously, he looked a little emotional during it, you could see him savouring the moment. (MTA that I have now indeed found a clip of Hugh receiving his standing ovation and being somewhat emotional HERE).

There then came a Broadway segment (with Singin’ in the Rain for instance)…

… and a beautiful sequence with an Aboriginal group of singers that ended in a lovely rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

There was a tap dance and drums sequence and at the end of that Hugh did do a Wolverine growl, to the delight of the crowd. I didn’t get a good shot, this is the best I have, where he used his drumming sticks for the claws. The body language totally says Wolverine!

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He did From Now On, my fave song from The Greatest Showman, and everyone was up on their feet for that.

The final song was a Peter Allen song called Once Before I Go. This last song became a little special as it contained a brief second or two of my ‘personal’ Hugh-encounter! By this time the audience (including my friend and I) had been swaying along to several songs with the phone lights on, this song was no exception. I heard later that my sister and her girlfriend, who were sitting elsewhere, had joined in with the lights as well.

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Anyway, my friend and I said to each other that when Hugh turned our way again, we’d stop the soft rhythmic swaying of our phones and we’d just wave our lights madly at him to say ‘hi’. We did just that and, lo and behold, he registered us and he waved right back at us! I found a video of this exact moment on YouTube, filmed by someone who must have been sitting not too far off from where we were sitting. At 1:28 – 1:30 minutes into the video you can see Hugh registering something, he gives a little smirk and then he waves right at us, in the same rhythm as we are waving our phone lights at him.

There was no way he could have really seen us, but he had seen our lights and he had answered our greeting with a greeting of his own. That’s awesome, right? Yeah, had to screen cap that… this is Hugh saying hello to my friend and me!

The only down side to this concert was that after this song, Hugh was immediately gone, the big lights went up and it was all over. But what a glorious evening we had had!

So, yeah, I did have to buy a tour book as a keepsake. The merch prices are always a little steep, but I just couldn’t resist it…

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If there is one thing to admire about Hugh Jackman it is that he knows how to live in the moment. He is very present and focused, reacts to what happens around him, he is joyful and exudes pleasure in what he does. He has a huge heart that he is able to openly share with thousands of people at a time and because of that everyone opens their hearts to him in return. He has done and will be doing this show many, many times with the same stories and jokes and songs and yet it feels fresh and new, as if he is performing it the first time in full just for you. It is amazing that you are in a stadium with 15.000 other people and yet somehow the man seems to be speaking to you. He can spread love and joy and make you feel special and that makes Hugh Jackman a special kind of man.


MTA – I have now also compiled a playlist of the evening:

Smiles of the week

New jobs are exhausting! The amount of information and complexity of issues and getting to know the people and trying to get a feel for the place with its (unspoken) rules can be somewhat overwhelming at times. But I can also safely say it’s been good, the people have been very nice to me, they have waited to start certain projects until I’d be around and I feel welcome. A new manager started the same day I did, had a talk with her yesterday, and she feels worlds removed from being a micro-manager, which is excellent news. Two or three clients (internal colleagues) who were frustrated because no one got back to them on certain issues (due to someone else leaving and there being no back up) were made happy by me because I was either able to solve something for them or at least able to listen to them, promising to look into the problem. I worked on Wednesday because they wanted me along for a work field trip, so I changed my day off to today without any micro-manager giving me shit about it. Heck, even the view from the 10th floor where I work is good! This is the view from the elevator hallway…

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Yes, first full week at my new job has been exhausting but good, which makes me smile!

But there were more smiles. Richard had a lovely little Twitter exchange promoting his The Lodge movie…

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… which means that for 3 days now this has been singing around in my head…

I’ve never been a big Grease fan (I know, sacrilege!) but I do like this song, not bad having that in my head and making me smile. 🙂

Another smile this week is the new second-hand car we bought and picked up on Wednesday, late in the afternoon. We had a guzzler for a car that could pull our caravan and, strictly speaking, we didn’t need it anymore, as we don’t have the caravan anymore. So, to make things a little cheaper for us (gas, taxes and insurance) and to be a little more environmentally friendly, we bought a hybrid Toyota Auris. My daughter had been with us when we bought the car 10 days ago but she was in Berlin with school for the week, so it was only our son who was with us when we picked it up.

The car has a ‘panorama roof’ (just glass, you can’t open it, but wonderful for gazing at the sky and daydreaming) which my son fell in love with. Yeah, the rain couldn’t take the smiles away.

Of course, the big smiley news is the news of Baby Sussex being born. Yes, Harry and Meghan have a son named Archie, who was born earlier this week. Pictures of the happy couple with baby were shared, which is worth a smile of its own…

… and Harry was in The Netherlands yesterday for the Invictus Games which are apparently coming to The Hague next year. Het got a little onesie from Prinses Margriet (former queen’s sister, our king’s aunt)…

However, the best part was the jacket he was wearing during a short bike ride, which also said “I am daddy”…

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Yeah, big time smiles for that one as well!

Early this morning my daughter came home from Berlin (they drove through the night)…

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She’s been exahusted, napped through most of the day, and she is out now with Mr Esther, giving the new car a little exercise. 🙂

And finally, Simon Baker. After The Mentalist ended I lost touch a bit with what he’s up to and while he does have Instagram, he doesn’t post that much on it. But he did post this today. My first thought was: “oh my, he’s looking so good”! And that smile, he has one of the best smiles I have ever seen on anyone. Then I looked closer and see that his Mentalist co-star and the person he ends up marrying on the show, Robin Tunney, has reacted to his post…

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… and then a short little exchange follows in the comments…

Now, wouldn’t it be lovely if these two meet up and take cute pictures together? A sort of happily ever after, after The Mentalist? Ah, the memories this brings back!

I’m totally up for a reunion with some pictures for the fans. Here’s living in hope!

A cheer-me-up post

I need some cheering up after another attack took place yesterday, this time in Utrecht which is about half an hour away from where I live. When will this killing end?!?

Anyway… so, this cheered me up yesterday (before I knew about the Utrecht attack) and still cheers me up today: Richard finding his old Guy of Gisborne leathers!

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Look what I just found in an old washing bag 😮

A post shared by Richard Armitage (@richardcarmitage) on

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Yup!!!

A post shared by Richard Armitage (@richardcarmitage) on

(I for one would be curious to see those episode 1 North & South scribbles!).

Then, last night, to cheer myself up after I switched off the news, I finally finished a video I had started making a long time ago but had never gotten around to finishing yet. It’s a fan video for the not so known but in my eyes absolutely wonderful Danish film starring Pierce Brosnan called Love Is All You Need. The Danish original title is way better: Den Skaldede Frisør (which translates to The Bald-Headed Hairdresser). The film is full of heart without being sappy and you can see a trailer here. I made another video for this film a few years ago which can be found near the bottom of my Pierce Brosnan fan video page, along with a brief description of what the movie is about. I needed to do something with love, after all the hatred of the past few days, and this video is all about that (set to John Denver’s Annie’s Song). When I heard that John Denver song again a few months back somewhere, suddenly images of this movie flashed through my head when I listened to the lyrics. So, the video begged to be made and now I have finally finished it. Beware that, if you haven’t seen the film and you still wish to do so, this video is full of spoilers!

And last but not least today, while I was having lunch on my own for a change, eating a delicious falafel in town close to my office, I happened upon this little gem of a video. It’s a choir flash mob on an airplane, by the choir that also sang at Harry’s and Meghan’s wedding last year. I’ve seen it before but this time it gave me goosebumps.

I guess we can all use a little solidarity and a feeling of people standing by each other.

It’s good to know there is also a lot of good in this world.

Women’s Day & birthday

A little late as the day is nearing its end, but Happy International Women’s Day anway! A few fun things I came across on my Twitter timeline today…

And because I really like Sandi Toksvig, I’m sharing this one as well. I know it made me laugh…

I’m also partial to this Audrey Hepburn quote on women…

This following clip feels very apt, especially in light of new micro-manager drama that came to light at work. For some reason he mostly seems to piss off the women and this is how the women are reacting…

This Richard E. Grant tweet made me smile…

… just like this one from Hugh Jackman…

… which reminded me of this tweet from Richard Armitage last year. Extra poignant in light of how ill his mum must have been at the time…

But today is also the birthday of my favourite feminist in the world: Mr Esther! Keeping it low-key, the man is a little tired, but he’s looking awfully cute today in a new dark blue bathing robe I got him and his new reading glasses.

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Happy birthday to Mr E. and happy International Women’s Day to all! Off to get yummy Chinese takeaway now, to celebrate. It’s getting late and we’re hungry…