TDH people doing nice things

Lemme start with Richard Armitage. I loved this video posted to Facebook today on the release of Ken Follet’s new book. Richard’s enthusiasm is so sweet! And he’s looking good too (oh man, I love that hair!)…

The only Ken Follett book I have ever read is Pillars of the Earth which I loved when I read it a long time ago. As this is a prequel to that, I think I may want to give this book a go too. I think Mr Esther will be intrigued as well. I’m also curious about which Follet book Richard is interested in adapting for the screen. Don’t think it would be Pillars as that was done a couple of years ago. I wonder how close that, whatever it is, is to becoming realized!

But Richard is not the only tall dark handsome (TDH) person that holds my attention. In recent weeks I have become more obsessed with Lucifer than I ever thought I could be and there are two TDH actors in there that preoccupy me. First of all, especially DB Woodside has stolen my heart, even more so after that ‘Blackfolx’ interview he did that I referred to in this post. And this picture below from when his now 11 year old daughter was a baby completely sealed the deal. He’s been separated from the mother for a long time but they seem to be co-parenting their daughter very nicely together. I love that.

I’ve been rewatching some of him on Suits and have been collecting pictures for my screen saver… He looks big and fierce but there’s just such a warmth, soulfulness and kindness there, it fills my heart.

Next to that, Tom Ellis also still holds my attention. The second part of Lucifer season 5 is yet to be released and apparently there is a musical episode coming up. Last weekend a sneak peak of one musical number from that episode was released and it looked fun!

And apparently this little moment within that number was improvised. Totally cracked me up!

And there’s also a new season 4 blooper reel that includes my two TDH Lucifer men…

The cast (and for me most notably Tom and D.B.) are very outspoken anti-Trump on social media which is what I’m loving as well. Bring on season 5B of Lucifer!

Of course, Tom Ellis also brings me back to Miranda. I have been re-watching all episodes and man, I still love that series (yes, even more than Lucifer). I also loved the ending of the show which can still bring me to tears and I still miss it and hope for more. Tom and Miranda have both hinted over the years that there possibly could be more one day where maybe they could delve into Gary’s (played by Tom) and Miranda’s married life, but as yet there are no fixed plans and Miranda hasn’t written anything yet. In the meantime, we Miranda fans must make do with occasional small Miranda and Gary reunions…

… and best of all, enjoy the 10 year Miranda celebration that was held in a theatre in London at the end of 2019…

Looking at all that makes me really long for even more (even though Tom Ellis right now looks more like Lucifer than Gary here)!

As Miranda too is TDH, I figured I could fit her into this post as well. I ordered two books by Miranda Hart yesterday evening and finally subscribed to Miranda’s mailing list after watching the whole show again. The welcome message I received in my inbox after signing up made me feel a little emotional (this quarantine is getting to me, I think)…

Miranda very much tries to be there for people with mental health issues, she especially tries to reach out to people who are lonely, and the warmth she exudes is just such a beautiful thing to me. Let there be more Mirandas in this world, please. Yes, I love my TDH people. 🙂

Lucifer – so devilish

I have been binge-watching Lucifer these past ten days or so. And when I say binge-watching, I mean it. Literally every free second I had went into it and some very late nights (and not enough sleep).

I had watched Lucifer a few years ago and then a second season hiatus came (I checked Wikipedia, that was in 2017) and I never continued watching after that. I started watching at the time because of Tom Ellis, whom I had loved in Miranda

Lucifer is about the devil who is sick of running hell and ditches it all for a life in Los Angeles as a nightclub owner with a faithful demon (his head torturer), who came with him, by his side. In L.A. he encounters detective Chloe Decker and starts helping her solve murders, along the way developing a special kind of relationship with her. He tells everyone very openly that he is the devil and speaks of God as “dad” but naturally no one really believes that he actually is who he says he is. His brother Amenadiel also comes to earth and tries to make him go back to guarding hell. As the series progresses more celestial beings come and go and complicate matters for Lucifer in the ‘real’ world. In a very funny twist Lucifer starts going into therapy, with other celestials following his lead, but this also helps the viewer understand him better and it helps him grow. The series has some high drama but also some great comedy as these celestial beings try to adjust to human life and humans wonder what the hell is going on (pun intended).

So, Tom Ellis is in Lucifer and I had really enjoyed him in the role when I first saw it, but I was not so sure about the female lead and I think that was one of the reasons for me to not stick with it when it returned after that second season hiatus; my attention was on other shows instead. In the intervening years since 2017 my son has started watching Lucifer and has been urging me to continue my watch as well. Then the other week Herba briefly mentioned Lucifer on her blog and as I was just in between projects, I figured the time had come to return to Lucifer. I didn’t regret it, it’s been a lot of fun! And not just because of Tom…

And yes, he does have a bit of a Richard Armitage vibe about him, but showier. Speaking of showier, there is quite some singing and piano playing done by Lucifer and I just adore this season 3 scene, have watched it countless times already…

Anyway, it’s not only Tom Ellis I am loving in this. I also fell in love with Amenadiel (D.B. Woodside), Lucifer’s older brother, with his soulful, beautifully shaped eyes and the occasional smile that completely lights up his face…

I’d forgotten about D.B. Woodside, who was also in Suits for a season or so and whom I had really liked there as well. Even when looking fierce (which he does very well), there is a warmth and hidden depth in his eyes and the expressions on his face compleley draw me in. Yes, I’ve become a fan!

I also fell in love with Mazikeen (Lesley-Ann Brandt), the demon who is Lucifer’s right hand woman. Maze is a tough misfit, a fish out of water amongst humans and she really cracks me up.

I am also invested in the whole Lucifer – Chloe relationship. Lauren German as Chloe is fine but somehow her look is a little too Hollywood for me.

Therapist to the devil, Dr. Linda Martin (Rachael Harris) is awesome in her bewildered but still very effective counselling sessions. I loved Harris in Suits as well, she’s really good at the quirky characters that have depth.

And I love forensic scientist Ella Lopez, smart, quirky and loves to hug, so warmly portrated by Aimee Garcia. She is my son’s favourite.

I also really liked Tricia Helfer who was on for two seasons as Charlotte, a woman whose body gets taken over by Lucifer’s mother who has also escaped hell…

The murder cases are very much like murder cases on other shows, but the drama and humour in having celestial beings find their places amongst humans is what makes this show extra fun.

The show was cancelled after three seasons but after a huge online fan protest it was brought back and is now produced by Netflix (I am still hoping for the same kind of outcome for Anne with an E). Now that I am all caught up, I am really grateful that those fans (“Lucifans”) made the effort and that the show has been so successfully renewed. I’m not in full on fangirl mode but I do really enjoy the show and the casting. It’s such fun (as Miranda would say) to watch.

Let me just end by sharing this really cool and fun Lucifer fan video, I think my fave so far that I have seen. I wish I could make them like this.

The second half of season 5 is yet to air and a season 6 is already planned. More Lucifer to enjoy and I am very much looking forward to it!

Paul Campbell rocks!

I think most of my readers won’t know who Paul Campbell is. He is (to me) one of the best actors in those Hallmark movies I like to watch on occasion. He is relaxed, real, not overly soppy and funny too in the movies I have seen him in. He has made two or three Hallmark movies I really like and when he makes a new one, I’m always ready to tune in.

So, I follow him on Twitter and thus know that in a week he has a new Hallmark movie coming up called Wedding Every Weekend. It co-stars Kimberley Sustad, another no nonsense Hallmark actor I like. They had great chemistry in a Hallmark movie they did together that I really liked a while ago (A Godwink Christmas, picture above on the right), so I already thought this might be fun.

Now it turns out that one of the weddings these two will be attending within this new movie is a gay wedding, which is really out there for a Hallmark movie and already I am liking the sound of this even more!

Over on Twitter, Paul Campbell has been getting encouragement for starring in a movie which features a gay marriage but he has also been getting flak from conservative Christians. His stance has been one of patient opposition to homophobic views and I’m loving it. Read for yourself (clicking on the screencapped images will take you to the Twitter messages themselves), he started with tweeting this…

And this is what unfolded…

And this…

And this…

And this…

And then this…

And finally this…

That ‘wonderful lifestyle’ tweet has now been deleted, I see. Anyway, I love how calmly Paul is replying to these homophobic comments. He’s friendly, tries to inject some humour, but is very clear in his view that love is love 🏳️‍🌈. Kudos to him for doing this with class and respect! And great that Hallmark is slowly trying to take some steps towards more diversity.

Dutch girl Audrey Hepburn

It’s no surprise to anyone reading here that I love Audrey Hepburn. During the Second World War she lived with her Dutch mother in and around Arnhem here in The Netherlands and last year I even made a little pilgrimage to see where she had lived exactly during the war. I also learned then that a book had just been published about those years in Audrey’s life, called “Dutch Girl : Audrey Hepburn and World War II” written by Robert Matzen. I bought it and it’s been laying around here for months, waiting to be read. Last week I finally did.

Audrey is important to me and reading this book was important to me, hence this long post about the book that in the end left me with very mixed feelings. Let me start with what I liked about the book.

The book gave me answers to my timeline questions I had about when Audrey lived where. She moved to the Sickeszlaan in Arnhem in December of 1939 (that much I knew), then 3 months later moved to apartments in the center of Arnhem at the Jansbinnensingel and was living there when the German invasion of The Netherlands happened in May 1940. Soon after August of 1942 she moved to the nearby town of Velp, where her grandfather and aunt lived, and stayed there till the end of the war in May 1945.

I also liked that the book gave more of a background to Audrey’s family. Her father was out of her life when she was young, so it centers around her mother, her aunts and her grandfather, who is a baron but not rich. Her half brothers Alex and Ian, born to her mother during her first marriage, are also mentioned and how one was sent away for forced labour in Berlin and the other had to go into hiding to escape that same fate…

… and there’s a big section on her aunt’s husband, Otto van Limburg Stirum who had been a prosecuting attorney but wouldn’t cooperate with the Nazis and was fired. He was later arrested and shot to death as an example and in retalliation to resistance activities that he had been no part of.

Audrey’s mother’s Nazi sympathies were also examined and it turned out they weren’t just sympathies. She wrote glowingly in two newspaper articles in the mid 1930s about Nazism and these sympathies continued till at least 1941.

Even after reading this, I’m not sure whether Ella really turned away from Nazism or whether, because of the war, it was more prudent to become anti-Nazi. Maybe she turned away from Nazism after the execution of her brother-in-law in August of 1942, after which she and Audrey moved from Arnhem to Velp to be with Ella’s father and newly widowed sister. Fact is that she did have a Nazi boyfriend at the beginning of the invasion and that Audrey did do dance recitals in Arnhem for Nazi audiences organized by her mother.

Audrey’s own brief mentions in various interviews about working for the resistance are also examined. There was an exhibition in 2016 at the Airborne museum near Arnhem about Audrey and, leading up to that, research had been done about claims that Audrey had worked for the resistance. If you read Dutch (or you could put it through Google Translate if you’re interested), there’s an article from 2016 which says that “Audrey Hepburn was not a resistance hero” as no evidence whatsoever was found for that in documents and archives. This book refutes that, due to interviews held with the children of Dutch resistance workers in Velp, where her activities were said to have taken place. She did dance to raise money for resistance activites when she lived in Velp and she did run errands for the nearby hospital which housed the resistance and she was in especially close contact with Dr. Hendrik Visser ‘t Hooft, who ran many resistance operations, and his children. Or so the author says from interviews he held.

I also appreciated reading more about the shelling and fighting Velp experienced at the end of the war, how close to where Audrey lived everything happened, how during the Battle of Arnhem in 1944 (of a “bridge too far” fame) hopes for liberation were dashed, how everyone in Velp took in refugees from Arnhem as the city was evacuated including Audrey’s family, how for a short period an airman was hidden in Audrey’s house (according to an interview with Audrey’s younger son). The last winter of the war was described, the famous “Hunger Winter”, and in some descriptions I also recognized stories my mother has told me of that time. Of how cold it was, about using tulip bulbs for food, there being no heat and every scrap of wood that could be found would be used for heating, how the V1 bombs sounded overhead and when the noise stopped suddenly, you knew it was dropping. Some of these things were brief Audrey quotes, most of the descriptions were of other eyewitness accounts in Velp which I found valuable to read. So yes, I did get a much better picture of what Audrey’s life probably had been like during the war.

Next to the positives of the book there were also some huge downsides for me. In hindsight, reading the jacket text on the author should have warned me, where it said Robert Matzen combined “airtight research with spellbinding narrative.” While reading the book I often wondered whether he was trying to write a novel based on facts and interviews or whether this was a proper study he was publishing. I had hoped for the latter.

I started to question the “airtight research” on page 3 where he referenced the 1935 Leni Riefenstahl Nazi Parteitag propaganda film as Triumph des Willen, without the ‘s’ at the end (it should be Willens). I figured maybe the editors had just missed a spelling mistake. A little further on he referenced the Dutch Heineken family (of the beer fame) as Heinekin. I mean, come on, the beer is so famous, can’t you even spell the name right? Such little mistakes started to annoy me. In an attempt to sound Dutch he said that Audrey had moved to “Arnhem Centraal”. That doesn’t sound right. Arnhem Centraal is what you would call the central train station. If he had said “Arnhem centrum”, that would have been correct. He references the Dutch beach town of Noordwijk as being “just north of Rotterdam”, which in US terms of distance might be OK, but in actuality it would have been far more accurate describing Noordwijk as just north of Leiden (or even north of The Hague if you want to reference a large city). Somewhere in the text he writes something about the Dutch holiday of Sinterklaas and conjugates the name as “Sinter’s bag of toys and candy.” I have never heard it conjugated as “Sinter’s” before, “Sint’s” would be accurate.

I also questioned the Dutch researcher he used. There is this section in the book about Audrey’s mother, Baroness van Heemstra, seeking lodging via an ad in a newspaper in The Hague in 1944. There is discussion on why she would pick The Hague, some possible old connections are mentioned and then this quote comes along from the Dutch researcher who helped with the book:

When you enter the name ‘Van Heemstra’ in the digital pedigree system of the [municipal] archive, about 157 results pop up. I don’t know how they are exactly related to the baron or Ella, but is shows there have always been some connections between the city and this noble family.

Just because there are Van Heemstras in Den Haag doesn’t mean there is a direct family connection and even if there is, it’s quite a jump to think Ella wanted to move there because of them. I have direct cousins with my surname that I do not know at all. If I were her, I would have put far more research into that. So, with this statement even the Dutch researcher’s credibility was weakened for me.

I know these are just tiny details and why get worked up over those? But then, if these small, common details aren’t correct, what liberties were taken with facts that I know nothing of? So, throughout the whole book I was questioning this so-called “airtight” research.

In addition to my qualms about details I also got annoyed with the huge amount of embellishment in the text. Each section of the book starts with a section in cursive. Those sections take a part of Audrey’s later life and reference back to her war years. The author uses quotes from interviews and newspaper articles to paint a certain picture and because of the cursive you take it as a fictionalized description based on actual events. I was fine with those. The author, however, does this in the whole text as well. He is constantly trying to put himself in Audrey’s place and writing from her viewpoint, embellishing what he thinks happened but presenting it as fact. I sometimes felt he was quick to jump to certain conclusions. It’s as if he’s writing a novel at times. For instance, during a bombing when the family hides in the cellar…

The air raid siren had fallen silent and no none so much as breathed. All that could be heard now were aircraft motors and the occasional purring of German-made Spandau machine guns pointed skyward. Did the men in the planes know about the radio station upstairs? Would they go after that? There! There! The whistle of falling bombs! The four van Heemstras could not but cover heads with arms and pray, Onze Vader die in de hemel zijt…

How does he know these thoughts and what they did or didn’t pray in the cellar? And in another section he writes this after a bombing:

“They stepped outside into daylight. While the Baron surveyed the latest bullet holes and shrapnel damage to the structure and property, Audrey looked about her. Down the street toward the center of the village. a building blazed. It was somewhere around Thiele’s book shopperhaps the shop itself. The other way, up the street toward the north, one house on each side of the street was burning, and farther up, somewhere around the intersection with Ringallee, a building was fully engulfed with black smoke billowing skyward.”

How, I wondered, did he know that Audrey and her grandfather saw all this at that exact point in time? I turned to the notes and there it said,

“The picture I painted on 14 April as Audrey and the baron ventured outside is drawn from what was known to be going on that day. I can’t say for certain that Audrey stood on the street and looked left and right, but it’s not unreasonable to expect that she did, and if she did, that is precisely what she would have seen – based also on my many visits to the spot.”

I guess that really sums up the book of me – it’s a book full of painted pictures and jumping to conclusions, based on facts and interviews, but with so many thoughts and feelings added by the author. These two quotes are just small examples of what the book does on every page! Admittedly, most of those thoughts and feelings could be true, and Audrey has often said how much the war affected her, but I wished that the author had distinguished within the text itself what was fact and what was his own embellishment. I guess making those distinctions would have made the text not as literary but I would have trusted it more.

And finally, the source listing left much to be desired. Sure, there is a nice summing up of literature, but I would have liked more details on the interviews (who he spoke to, when, where, what was discussed?) and which archive sources he used. Were there no more details to be found as to what was happening with her brothers (maybe in letters or interviews with the brothers’ children) or even what their perspectives had been on their mother or baby sister Audrey? Did he have contact with the researchers from 2016 who said Audrey was not a documented resistance worker? I’m sure if I really took the time I could form a million more questions. So much was left open and not “airtight” to me.

The book has too many holes in it for me to be able to take it as the whole truth about Audrey’s life during the war. I’m sure large portions are accurate but I can’t unquestioningly trust it. The author completely emulates Audrey and thereby the book loses all sense of objectivity to me. I love Audrey Hepburn, I love seeing pictures of her youth…

… I love hearing about the context of her family, I love when positive and good things are said about her, but I also want the truth and I’m not sure I really get that here. In the end, this is an interesting book that writes in embellished fashion about what Audrey did and what Audrey possibly could have experienced during World War II.

I don’t regret reading the book but I did close it with a whole bag of mixed feelings. In the end I think I would have preferred just reading interview transcripts (from what Audrey has said herself in interviews, from what her sons said, from the interviews Robert Matzen held) with added known archival and literature references to give some context. For me that would have painted a far more accurate and trustworthy picture than this book did with all it’s embellishments

Fictional crush challenge – day 10

10 days, 10 fictional crushes
Post an image of a fictional character who has been or still is your crush. No names or explanations needed. TV, movie, book, comic, cartoon characters are valid.

And so we come to the final listing in this fictional crush challenge. I’ve been listing my biggest crushes chronologically and this is the last one I’ve crushed quite heavily on…

Patrick Jane (Simon Baker) from The Mentalist. I started watching this show because a colleague at the time (in 2011) recommended it. From the first episode that I saw, I was hooked. I caught up to season 3, which was then airing, and from then on faithfully, feverishly awaited each new season and episode. There were to be 7 seasons in total, ending in 2015.

I got hooked on the charm, smarts and devious mind of Patrick Jane (Simon Baker) who helped detective Teresa Lisbon (Robin Tunney) solve murders in California. The former fake psychic turned police consultant used unusual, often amusing, methods (to the exasperation of Lisbon) but was also hell bent on taking revenge on serial killer Red John who had killed his wife and daughter. This juxtaposition of glee and tragedy is what makes Jane such a fascinating character, a man with flaws and all but still lovable. Of course, there’s also the vest (gosh, he looked sexy in his vest!) and the hair and that smile. When Simon Baker flashed that wide Patrick Jane grin I often found myself grinning back at the screen. I swear that smile is the most infectious smile I know.

I made several fan videos about Jane and Lisbon (in those days I used “Hannah” as a pseudonym), they have their own page here on my blog. Looking back at them, there are some I would do differently now but I do have two favourites of the ones I’ve made. The first one, with only season 3 clips, from when I first started watching the show…

… and one video I made at the end of season 6.

At 7 seasons (the last season was half a season, really), the show had run its course, the finale gave Patrick a happy ending (I could also easily have seen it go another way with this character, glad that didn’t happen) and it was a good time to end. Yet somewhere deep down I still miss the show, and Patrick Jane, and his vests, and his grin…


So, there you have it, the end of the 10 days, 10 fictional crushes challenge. There’s a bonus fictional crushes post waiting to be published tomorrow and then it’s on to other things. This was fun.