A castle & brown eyes

First off, my vertigo is subsiding, woohoo!! Not all gone yet, but definitely improving. This means that on Sunday, after visiting my mother, I was well enough to take a day trip with my daughter and we visited my old boarding school which used to be situated in a castle near Utrecht. In my day (35-33 years ago… that sounds so old and long ago!) it all looked a bit different – in the second picture with the red arrow is the ‘Blokhut’ where I used to board with the school nurse and 4 other girls.

Mini me was curious about my boarding school years and as the grounds were open, we were able to walk around and look around. I always loved the driveway up to the castle and it still looks lovely…

The old coach house was still looking good from the outside, it used to be the girls dorm, where most of the girls lived…

There used to be a little wooden building to the left of the coach house that we used to call “The Chambre”. There we could buy evening snacks, play some pool (although I rarely did that) and socialize; it is completely in ruins now…

To the right of the coach house, the “Blokhut” was situated where I used to live. I first thought it was not there anymore as it is now almost obscured from view by shrubbery overgrowing it. I remember it like this (red arrow is pointing to my room)…

On Sunday the Blokhut looked like this… Only when we came up close could we see the entrance, the side of the building where I’d lived was only partially accessible around the back. Through the door I could look into the hall but my old bedroom window was boarded up.

The castle itself was still very pretty (although I don’t like the white plaster as much, it used to be all red brick)…

It was a lovely trip down memory lane and now my daughter wants to go to boarding school as well (even though I told her that boarding school also had its downsides).

The kids have spring break this week and I am off for the most part as well. Today Mr Esther and I decided to go for a walk somewhere further east and Junior was the one to join us for a change. He’s pretty busy normally with school or his girlfriend, but today, while mini me decided to spend the day with a friend, he had no plans. He decided to join us for our walk and it was lovely to have him alone with us for a whole afternoon for a change.

Besides vertigo, work and socially distanced outings here and there, I’ve been keeping busy with the Sue Thomas obsession, making two fan videos (now also up on the Sue Thomas video page that I set up).

I’ve also been re-watching bits and pieces of Suits again as Yannick Bisson’s brown eyes made me long for Gabriel Macht’s brown eyes again. I still love how the character of Harvey Specter developed and changed in the nine seasons that the show had.

Bisson’s Murdoch Mysteries season 14 is now airing, so I’m also watching the new episodes of that show as they come out. Nothing too challenging but a lot of fun, especially last night’s episode with the return of the whacko Newsome family.

I swear, I’d watch a spinoff sitcom with just Ruth Newsome-Higgins (Siobhan Murphy, a character that was introduced in season 10 and appears occasionally), she’s brilliant.

Another thing that has me fascinated is the Mars landing and the images coming from there…

Following NASA Perseverance on Twitter is cool.

Speaking of space, I know, I know that I should watch Richard Armitage’s new movie Space Sweepers over on Netflix, but I can’t quite make myself do so yet. While I enjoy some scifi, it’s not my go to genre and Richard’s role isn’t that huge, is it?

I’ll watch in time, maybe someone in the comments can let me know if it’s worth it? Maybe if his eyes were brown (my current obsession is kind, brown eyes) like in My Zoe I would be more tempted? Although, I admit that seeing brown eyes on Richard instead of his blue eyes is a little weird to me.

When I’m in obsession mode, normal online activities fall by the wayside, which means I have a huge backlog of blog reading to do. I don’t think I can or will promise to catch up on all, so my sincere apologies to those readers who are used to me commenting on their blogs! I’ll probably start coming around again more but not this evening, I have some more brown eyes that I need to get lost in after I post this…

Crazy, but OK

Sourced this one myself for a change as I feel I should’ve had/seen a gif of this little scene years ago, I could have used it so often. Yannick Bisson and Deanne Bray in Sue Thomas F.B.Eye, when signing says more than words can convey…

In addition, I sourced this one that could have been used often in response to the above (admittedly a long gif but I love this little exchange)…

… or this one. Everyone can use an “It’s OK” hug…

Yup, love this show, another one that got canceled far too soon.

In a rabbit hole with Yannick

I’m still here but have not been blogging much due to going down another rabbit hole during my current bout with vertigo. This rabbit hole has been keeping me busy while I recline on the couch with my head propped up against a pillow as it’s easier to watch things on my laptop than to type. The rabbit hole has transported me to Yannick-Bisson-land these past few weeks. For those of you who don’t know who he is, he’s the lead actor in the Murdoch Mysteries which is a mostly light-hearted detective series set in the late 1890s/early 1900s in Toronto.

Murdoch has just started it’s 14th (!!) season of 13-18 episodes each. I’ve been aware of this show for quite a long time but only recently, just before I got the vertigo, I decided to delve into it and start watching it. It took up a lot of my time and so, apart from my family and some work I’ve still been able to do, I’ve been negelecting everything else in favour of Detective William Murdoch. It’s been fun and I found that, for me, the attraction doesn’t so much lie in the mysteries solved on the show but more in the characters and the portrayal of the time period.

I really like the meticulous, inventive and Catholic (an important part of his identity) Detective William Murdoch who lives in his head and sometimes needs to loosen up a bit…

… and his relationship with free spirited Dr. Julia Ogden (played by Hélène Joy). She goes through several careers (coroner, psychiatrist and practicing doctor) which, yes, is a bit unlikely but a lot of this series is and in this case that really only adds on to instead of takes away from the fun. She is a smart and resourceful woman with a sense of humor that amuses mostly herself…

Besides William and Julia, there are also some very nicely drawn secondary characters, of whom quite funny creative thinker Constable George Crabtree (Jonny Harris) and in later seasons detective Llewellyn Watts (Daniel Maslany, a kind of Detective Columbo in 1900) are my favourites.

My favourite occasional guest stars are the genius but unlucky inventor and entrepreneur James Pendrick (Peter Stebbings)…

… or the good hearted spoiled rich girl Ruth Newsome (Siobhan Murphy – she’s seriously great!) and her quite hilarious story with Constable Henry Higgins (Lachlan Murdoch).

I also love the time in which Murdoch is set, the famous guests that become involved in cases (like Arthur Conan Doyle, Theodore Roosevelt, Harry Houdini, Nikola Tesla, Alexander Graham Bell, young Winston Churchill, etc.) and all its comical references to new inventions or even future inventions.

It’s not just inventions, it’s also concepts and logos. The early 20th century version of swiping photos left or right from a stack of pictures in Tinder style fashion cracked me up, for instance, or how I now know where the rooster on Kelloggs Cornflakes orginated from. So, the characters, time period and humor are more fun to me to watch than the criminal storylines themselves and I do admit to often fast forwarding through some of the case procedural parts of the episodes in favour of the scenes more focussed on characters and gadgets. All in all, though, this has turned out to be a fun show to watch to forget my vertigo.

As handsome and almost too good-looking as Yannick Bisson aka Detective William Murdoch may be, I am especially taken with his large, expressive, brown eyes. Yes, I really enjoy how he gave life to the character of Murdoch, imbuing him with not only smarts but also depth of feeling. And man, again, those eyes…

Naturally, this made me want to study Bisson some more and so I looked into his backlog of work as well. In researching that, I didn’t find that many other projects that really interest me, although in time I will try those few Hallmark mysteries he did a few years ago. However, there was one other project he’d done that did stick out for me and that was another TV series he’d done in the early 2000s called Sue Thomas, F.B. Eye. Sue Thomas is an FBI cop show about a deaf woman (Deanne Bray) who is very good at reading lips and has a ‘hearing dog’ who helps her navigate daily life. FBI agent Jack Hudson (yep, Yannick Bisson) sees her potential and she starts working in surveillance with him and very much becomes integral to catching all those criminals.

The story is based on true events. Here’s an old trailer…

I’ve been able to get my hands on this old series and I’ve gotta say I loved it. It’s not just the will they/won’t they aspect between Sue and Jack that I loved…

What I really loved was the insight into this deaf woman’s life and how astonishing she is in navigating a world she can not hear, trying to assert herself in it. She isn’t perfect, she makes mistakes and has a very large learning curve but she also gives back a lot to the team in her smart, observant, warm and uncynical approach. We see her triumphs but also her difficulties and on occasion the sound even goes off completely to see the world from Sue’s point of view. She always needs to remind people that she needs to see their lips and never disappears into the background just because she’s deaf. The difficulties of what it means to not hear anything are shown in very practical ways, for example when she can’t hear a shot being fired or when people try to surprise her with a little party but she doesn’t notice them and their “surprise” yell until she turns around and actually sees them. The advantages of knowing sign language also become clear, when sometimes things can be better communicated with signs rather than words. The alienation she sometimes feels when she can’t follow what’s going on is nicely mirrored on occasion when she signs with other deaf people and the hearing people then can’t follow what’s going on. As viewers we are lucky to have those scenes subtitled. I was also struck again by how beautiful sign language actually is. I wonder if Yannick still remembers some of the sign language he learned on that show 16-19 years ago.

It’s all really fascinating stuff, wrapped into quite exciting FBI stories with a nice team of original characters, with flaws and all, surrounding Sue.

And even the FBI office itself seems more realistic than on many other shows I’ve seen, right down to the office looking relatively normal and the office politics feeling real, with people who are sticklers for admin protocols or how a team leader can make or break your pleasure in work.

The show only lasted 3 seasons and got cancelled prematurely when the PAX channel it was broadcast on decided not to do anymore original programming. Such a shame – there was still a lot of story left to tell… Guess I need to delve into the fan fiction side of things now to get some resolution.

Having Yannick Bisson in his thirties as the object of affection is really quite a lovely thing too. I love his portrayal of Jack, a very capable, sexy and quick thinking agent whose world and heart opens up in a way he never expected with Sue. I also love that he tries to become more a part of her world and as the series progresses learns some sign language himself. And I can’t deny it, those puppy dog chocolate eyes really do it for me…

I don’t know if it’s these past weeks spent with the warm brown chocolate eyes or whether meds and rest are working, but maybe I’m starting to feel a little better… I’ll remain relatively quiet for a while yet, I suspect, as I finish watching Sue Thomas.

Dr Astrov screencap spam

After the whole US election certifying crap and mobs breaking into the Capitol in Washington, I needed a little break. TV was switched off this evening and I threw myself into screencapping Richard Armitage in Uncle Vanya. Not too bad a way to self-soothe. I might as well share my screencapping results with you all before I pick some fave images to add to my screensaver. So, here goes, first the beginning of the play with Nana (Anna Calder-Marshall). By the way, for a better look you can click on each of these images to enlarge them…

Then Vanya (Toby Jones) and Sonya (Aimee Lou Wood) join Dr Astrov. I always love Richard’s hand acting..

We get the Astrov, Vanya and Telegin (Peter Wight) drunk scenes at night which are quite funny and a bit sad too…

… followed by Sonya trying to figure out if Astrov returns her romantic feelings.

Then we have the whole Astrov showing his passion for the woods and his maps and flirting with Yelena (Rosalind Eleazar) scene. That’s all quite sexy, the man sure knows how to flirt on stage!

Astrov and Vanya talk things out…

Astrov and Yelena have their last goodbyes…

And then it’s time for Astrov to reluctantly leave as well…

This screen adaptation of Uncle Vanya also had nice impressions of the actors coming into the theatre at the very beginning and these two images of Toby and Richard (who is only seen from behind) were my favourites…

At the very end, after the play had ended, the actors all came on stage to hug each other. I especially loved the Anna and Richard hug. Anna Calder-Marshall was lovely at the stage door when she signed my programme last February and she was gushing about how she loved doing the play and how she loved Toby and Richard in it. The Richard love is quite apparent in these pictures.

Now I got all that out of my system I think I am done with Vanya for a bit. Although, I will never get tired of looking at Richard with long hair and beard, that is just about my fave Richard look.

Recent enjoyments

As usual I’ve been watching quite a lot of things over the past two months or so and some of that I have really enjoyed. I always mean to blog about what I enjoyed but somehow other things come up and I don’t write about as much as I could have done, mostly because I’m too lazy to go into more lengthy critiques. So, now I am summing up some things I’ve been enjoying entertainment wise recently, with shorter comments instead of lengthy reviews.

Let me start with Hallmark, which are basically mindless movies that I can enjoy after intense periods such as closely following elections in the USA or dealing with work stuff that frustrates me. I needed to take my mind off things for a bit, so after a bit of a Hallmark hiatus, I dove back into it to watch some of the Christmas Hallmark movies these past two months. Although most of them were fast forward worthy (I was again reminded of my Hallmark Christmas movie nightmare I once had), there were a few that I did quite enjoy. My fave (of the ones I have seen) is a movie with Warren Christie and Candace Cameron Bure with the very uninspiring title If I Only Had Christmas. It’s about a cheerful publicist teaming up with a cynical undercover rich business owner as they help a charity in need at Christmastime. I found especially the performance of Warren Christie to be quite soulful, which gave the not too surprising story (no Hallmark story ever is) an extra dimension.

I also liked the Paul Campbell and Kimberley Sustad movie, which they also co-wrote together, called Christmas By Starlight. The story is about a lawyer who makes a deal with the heir to a development firm to spare her family’s restaurant from demolition. She spends the week with him posing as the legal counsel his father is demanding he hire in the wake of some costly mistakes. I’ve blogged about Paul Campbell before, I always enjoy watching him, and Kimberley Sustad really is a perfect partner for him and he for her, this is their third film (I think) together. Again, the story isn’t too surprising but there are some fun scenes and there’s some amusing easy banter that goes along well with their easy rapport with each other; I enjoyed watching this.

Last month I already mentioned the Lucas Bryant movie (The Angel Tree) that I also enjoyed, so those were the end of year Hallmark highlights for me.

Putting Hallmark aside (it needs to be enjoyed in not too large doses) I also watched a German movie called Der Vorname (thank you Herba for the suggestion!) about a family dinner where a family member, who is an expectant father, announces that he wants to name his baby son Adolf. Not only the controversy over the name makes this movie good, it’s also very funny at times and the family dynamics and annoyances are very real and relatable. I know not all my German readers will agree, but German movies can be really good and usually tend to be way better than Dutch ones, this is another example of that. I really enjoyed it and actually ended up watching this twice to make sure I caught all the nuances.

I watched the second season of The Alienist (8 sepisodes) at the beginning of November which I really enjoyed, just as I had enjoyed the first season when I first saw it last year or so. Sara Howard (Dakota Fanning) now has her own detective agency and teams up again with Dr. Kreizler (Daniel Brühl) and reporter John Moore (Luke Evans) to find a serial kidnapper and killer of babies. I didn’t like the ending between Sara and John very much, so I hope a third season will come to correct that.

The Alienist lead me to another period drama detective series which I finally got around to watching about two weeks ago. It’s called Miss Scarlet and the Duke, starring Kate Philips as Eliza Scarlet and Stuart Martin as the duke/inspector William Wellington. It’s set in Victorian London and is about the headstrong Eliza Scarlet who is left penniless when her father dies and decides to continue her father’s detective agency, to the annoyance of her childhood friend and also Scotland Yard detective inspector William Wellington. She becomes the first-ever female detective in Victorian London and is soon solving murders. Of course there is some sexual tension between the two but this series isn’t only about that. There is only one season (consisting of 6 episodes) of this show and I especially liked the last two episodes, which left me wanting more. Apparently filming for a second season was halted due to the Covid 19 epidemic but I really hope that second season will come.

I also watched some more serious stuff that I enjoyed, mostly US political stuff around the time of the US presidential elections. I saw The Way I See It, a documentary about White House photographer Pete Souza, who closely documented the 8 years of Barack Obama’s presidency and also did some photography of Ronald Reagan. It’s a fascinating portrait of the Obama presidency as seen through his lense and from a human standpoint shows such a stark contrast with the current US president. Pete Souza is a soft-spoken, almost shy man, who likes to blend into the background, but for this documentary takes up a bit more of the stage as he presents his work.

In more politics, I also finally got around to watching the four part documentary series Hillary last month, which is an intimate portrait of former first lady and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and how she became one of the most admired and also vilified women in the world. It was a fascinating watch and though, yes, she may have her faults, she still would have made a far better president than Donald Trump.

Recently I also watched The Long Song, a three part BBC series from 2018 that I had meant to watch but never got around to until now. It’s about the end of slavery in 19th century Jamaica and follows the life of slave girl July (Tamara Lawrance). The tone of the drama is a bit mixed, in parts trying to be humorous in its voiceover and that feels off, but the story is very compelling nonetheless and I was fascinated throughout. I don’t know how truthful the narrative is, but it really is worth a watch. Tamara Lawrance is awesome as the feisty and rebellious July and so were Hayley Atwell who played her spoiled owner and Jack Lowden as the idealistic overseer who loses himself.

The only book on this list of things I enjoyed these past two months or so, is the only book I actually got around to reading during this time (yeah, too little reading going on here!). Over Christmas I read Michelle Obama’s Becoming. It was a great read and helped me understand more about who she is, her background, and also gave me a little insight into the dynamics of her marriage to Barack. The telling of her years before she became First Lady is almost more compelling than the last part of the book set during the presidency, as the formative years are very much the foundation of who she came to be and those stories were (to me) less known. The book was a very thoughtful telling of her life and was a bit of an analysis of her character as well. I’d already seen (and enjoyed) the documentary of her book tour a while back, I was glad to now finally read the book itself, giving me more insight in the woman behind the icon.

The book reminded me that I had once read about a movie that had been made about the young Obamas love story. It turned out to be a 2016 film that was made about the Obama’s first date back in 1989 called Southside With You. The film is of course speculative in its dialogue but, knowing a bit more about that first date and about the Obamas through the Becoming book, it really felt true to Barack and Michelle to me. It’s got a very calm and thoughtful feel to it (I really liked Parker Sawyers as Barack Obama) and although I wouldn’t give it the 4 stars it gets on this promo picture, I still thought it was very nicely done. Over time I’ve watched a couple of Harry and Meghan love story adaptations, a TV film about the Danish crown princess Mary (who was born Australian) and her prince’s love story; way back I once saw an awful adaptation of William and Kate’s love story and not long ago I saw bits and pieces of the latest season of The Crown. Of all these true story adaptations that I’ve seen, I thought Southside With You was way better than any of them.

Last but not least, and on a completely different note, just after Christmas I binge-watched the new costume drama Bridgerton on Netflix. It’s set in Jane Austen times at the beginning of the 19th century and centers around the Bridgerton family (a widowed mother and her 4 sons and 4 daughters), the eldest daughter Daphne ‘coming out’ during the London season and falling in love with a duke. It’s apparently an adaptation of a romance novel, and while it looks and is set in Regency times, it has some modern twists, with most notably a truly wonderful diverse cast that I love. The characters are all fun and it has quite a lot of sexy times in it too (which I really didn’t need to see that much of but was fine). It’s filled with clichés but boy, is it a fun watch!

This adaptation is made after the Bridgerton romance novel series written by Julia Quinn, aparently there is a book each for each of the siblings. I found them online, dipped through the first book and the story looks to be pretty much like the Netflix series. Instead of reading that, I went on to actually read all of the second book (The Viscount Who Loved Me) yesterday afternoon/evening (it’s a quick and fun read), which centers on the love story of oldest brother Anthony. Yes, I will be reading more because I want to know what becomes of all these Bridgerton siblings and Penelope (from a neighbouring family). I hope Netflix will renew Bridgerton for a second series. For all it’s love story clichés, it’s very well done, it has a light touch, good characters, some nice thoughts on how society became so diverse (which is a series thing and not in the books, by the way) and also dives into the roles of women, their status, conforming where they don’t necessarily want to conform and showing how keeping genteel women in the dark about sex really disenfranchises them. It really is a fun and sometimes even thought provoking world to get lost in for a while. I’m already waiting for more.

That’s it, my recent enjoyments (off the top of my head). This afternoon my new Kobo e-reader that I ordered yesterday should be arriving (the old Sony one I had had its issues and with the Christmas bonus I got from work I figured it was time for a new one). I think I may be ensconced in the Bridgerton books for a while on my new e-reader before I delve into Barack Obama’s biography, so there’s a chance there may be less blogging going on for a while. Two more days till the New Year and I intend to spend it reading a lot. 🙂