The Reviews Are In.

How has Mr T been received as Hamlet I hear you all not ask?!

Well, by all accounts, quite well. The man done good.

A BBC web site review by entertainment reporter Caroline Briggs said that “Tennant also uses his hair to great theatrical effect. From the sleek combed-back style of his first scene, he ruffles it to display despair, rage and madness. It deserves a credit of its very own.” That made me giggle.

In actual review of his performance she goes on to say “Overall, his performance is undoubtedly mesmerising. What he lacks in emotional intensity, he makes up for with wit, humour and stirring energy.”

Micahel Billington of The Guardian says of the production “This is a Hamlet of quicksilver intelligence, mimetic vigour and wild humour: one of the funniest I’ve ever seen.” And of Tennant’s performance… “Tennant is an active, athletic, immensely engaging Hamlet. If there is any quality I miss, it is the character’s philosophical nature, and here he is not helped by the production.” Overall praise for the production and 4 out 5 stars given.

Benedict Nightingale of The Times also gives the production 4 out of 5. On Mr T’s performance, he writes “Tennant is restless, curt and mocking when he needs to be, affectionate when he can be, and, apart from an occasional tendency to gabble, is pretty impressive. But most noticably he’s so dreamily reflective that you feel that Claudius’s fatal mistake was refusing him permission to resume his philosophy degree in the safety of faraway Wittenberg. Like Gordon Brown, who came to a preview, this very temporary leader is error-prone.”

Charles Spencer of The Telegraph is a little more dour with his praise. “What’s lacking, at present, is weight and depth. He delivers the great soliloquies with clarity, but he doesn’t always discover their freight of emotion.”

“Tennant’s prince seems merely resigned and wearily fatalistic, a reductive reading of a role that can offer a moving glimpse of grace, as the Christian imagery of the last act suggests.

There remains much to admire. It’s hard not to warm to a Hamlet who makes you laugh, and Tennant discovers almost every ounce of sarky humour, especially when baiting Oliver Ford Davies’s hilariously ponderous but poisonous Polonius and winding up the smarmy Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.

Tennant is at his best though when he dares with his emotions and lets rip. The closet scene with Gertrude, when he confronts his mother with her moral laxity, standing astride her on the “incestuous sheets” of her bed, has a thrilling raw power.

And there is a beautiful moment when the ghost of his father seems to hug him and Tennant delivers a little gasp of love and grief. As the run continues, Tennant should trust his feelings, dig deeper, expose more of himself.”

Quentin Letts of the revered [sic] Daily Mail is the most scathing (not surprisingly – the Daily Mail be in praise of something that isn’t Helen Mirren’s breasts? God forbid!). I think it’s all summed up in the article’s title “Alas poor Dr Who…you’re okay but not out of this world.”

Lett’s begins as saying “At the Royal Shakespeare Company’s temporary home in Stratford he makes a sarcastic Hamlet, a selfish Hamlet, a Hamlet very much for our self-indulgent age.” Oh, hark at the irony delivered from a Daily Mail reporter!

“He is memorable, quirky, handsome in a fey, underfed sort of way. He even proves himself a dab hand at sword fighting. If the British Olympic fencing team requires reinforcements it need look no further. ”

That’s the best description of “sexy geek” I’ve ever seen! “Handsome in a fey, underfed sort of way.”

Letts also discredits the audiences appreciation with this statement…”The star buzz is palpable. On Monday night I saw about 30 members of the audience leap to their feet at the end to show delight at Mr Tennant’s performance. All but two of them were women.”

MEOW!!! And I’m sure he was holding himself back from saying “And the two that weren’t were probably ‘queer as folk'”.

He continues…”From the first scene, when he stands apart from the other courtiers in a modern-dress, electric- chandeliered Elsinore, Mr Tennant’s grieving prince feels sorry for himself.

When not pouting like a spoilt child he often has his mouth open low in disbelief or mockery.

The only thing you’ll do with a mouth like that, any nanny will tell you, is catch flies.

It is hard to reconcile this jawslung brattishness, dressed at times in jeans and scruffy red Tshirt, with a figure who supposedly inspires deep loyalty in Hamlet’s friend Horatio – or, indeed, with the prince who returns to announce: ‘This is I, Hamlet the Dane.’

Mr Tennant swallows this line, normally a moment of defiant self-discovery. He utters it with scarcely more force than a man answering the telephone.”

Obviously not a fan Quentin. Well, to each his own.

The overall general consensus does seem to be that he’s a very competent but not great Hamlet.

It hasn’t deterred me from trying to get tickets for the London run when they go on sale in September. A bit of Mr T for Christmas, yummy! The London run goes from early December, until March. I don’t care when within that timeframe I go. I ain’t fussed.

New Music From The Faves.

There is a number of groups I’m into releasing new material over the next few months, which I’m looking forward to.

The first is the highly anticipated new Verve album for 10 years. It’s released in two weeks time. I’m sure we’ll hear more about it then. I hope it can capture what they had when they split. I think there is still quite a bit of discord in the camp, but let’s hope it doesn’t detract from them making great music.

The next two to release new stuff are Kaiser Chiefs and Keane.

The Kaiser’s seem quite prolific with their stuff. This is their 3rd album in as many years. I hope it stands up, as sometimes I think bands can rush material. I think there needs to be a balance between the length of absence with someone like The Verve (okay, they had officially split, granted), to an act like the Kaiser’s that can produce albums within 12-18 months.

Keane have had a longer absence due to Tom Chaplin’s rehab stint, etc. They sound like they’ve worked very hard on this album. I was a little disappointed in Under The Iron Sea. I could appreciate what they were trying to do, but some if it got a little lost. Let’s see if they “move on” or take a retrograde step and try and recreate Hopes and Fears.

Both Kaiser’s Off With Their Heads and Keane’s Perfect Symmetry albums are released October 13th in the UK.

The next on the card, towards the end of the year (no official release date yet) is the hotly anticipated new U2 album. Said to sound very retrograde by all accounts. Going back as far as supposedly recapturing the sounds of Achtung Baby. Bono has said to have described it as sounding very Moroccan influenced. Bono goes on to say “it’s not like anything we’ve done before” but it’s all sounding a little Achtung Baby meets Pop to me. But we’ll see I suppose. I don’t mind if it recaptures those sounds. I tuned out during ATYCLB and HTDAAB (the last two albums) sadly. There are a few tracks I like on both, but on the whole I was disappointed with them. I’m holding out a lot of hope with this new one.

The last two, expected to be due early in the New Year are Franz Ferdinand and Antony and The Johnsons. Franz say their new album is more disco influenced. I’m not sure if that’s a bit of a retrograde step. Not that the first self-titled album was disco-based, but You Could Have It So Much Better was such a mature continuation of their sound, I’m worried the new one will sound a little backward. It’s not that I’m not wanting a disco sound from them, I just don’t want it at the expense of them compromising the maturity they gained in their sound with YCHISMB.

I’m not sure what we’ll get with Antony. He’s quoted on Wiki as saying the new album is about “landscape and the future” and said the previous album’s theme was “sort of sad and redemptive”. Sounds like he’s going for a more “upbeat” sound, although he says the new album will be more one of “contrasts”, with a blend of uplifting and redemptive songs. If the musicality of it is anything like I Am A Bird Now, I’ll love it.

I Love Music.

And I just don’t listen to it enough.

When I was growing up, through my teens and into my late 20’s, I’d listen to at least 2 hours of music a DAY!

Now all my music I hear in a day is probably about 20 minutes worth of incidental music I hear whilst watching TV. I no doubt hear MORE than that, but it’s background stuff on TV shows and the like. Not music on the radio or from iTunes/CD’s/whatever.

On Thursday night there was SO little on TV, I decided to put the radio on and listen to Radio 2. Radcliffe/Maconie was just about to start – the program I was hoping to catch. Stuart Maconie was on his own this week while Mark Radcliffe was filling in for Steve Wright (in the afternoon). It was like stepping back in time…

Here’s a short back story. Mid March 2008, Em and I are on a anniversary break. We’d spent the afternoon in Birmingham waiting for the time to come around for us to go and watch U2-3D at the Imax theatre in Brum. We wasted time by sitting in the car listening to…Mark Radcliffe and Liza Tarbuck filling in for Steve Wright while he was on hols! That night as we were driving home (having just seen U2-3D on Imax), Stuart Maconie was hosting the show on his own.

I’d promised myself a few days ago that I MUST start listening to Radcliffe/Maconie because that night coming back from Brum, Stuart was playing some great stuff. So, lo and behold when I listen in for the first time since that night, Maconie’s on his own ‘cos Radcliffe’s filling in for Wrighty! It was like picking up where I’d left off!!

I only got to listen in to the first hour of the show and it was most enjoyable. And now because the BBC are so damn high-tech and stuff, if I DO miss a show, I can listen to it the next day via the BBC web site. Oh, technology!!

Tonight I listened to a program on Radio 2 that was repeated from 2004 about the history of Chillout music. I love Dance/Chillout/Ambient stuff. Love Chemical Brothers, Royksopp, Faithless, Daft Punk, Moby, Fatboy Slim, Paul Oakenfold, Massive Attack, Moloko, Goldfrapp, and then into similar genre stuff like Portishead and Everything But The Girl. It was a good prog and it made me want to get back into listening to dance. There’s an Oz group I’ve just heard about called The Presets, as well as another group called Midnight Juggernauts (Stuart Maconie played MJ’s last night), they both sound fab. I thought The Avalanches were going to be the only Oz dance group ever to make it out of Terra Australis.

After that, it was time to watch a DVD. I watched Sweeney Todd. Much better than I anticipated. I know, if I felt like that, why did I want to see it? Curiosity mainly, to see how Johnny Depp would play it. I thought he was good. I know the reaction was mixed. A lot of people saying he just parodied David Bowie’s singing voice – is that bad? I thought he delivered good vocally. It was enough of his own NOT to totally sound like DB. And let’s face it, if we’re talking parodies, DB himself was only parodying Anthony Newley anyway in his early days, or Scott Walker. I was worried I was going to tire of the musicality of it, but I didn’t. It had aspects of being an old-style film musical, which surprised me. It wasn’t “top notch”, but it was better than I was lead to believe it would be, or that I thought it would be. I could endure it again at some point. It’s something I could watch again, so that’s good enough for me. The one thing that was making me giggle through it though was Helena Bonham-Carter’s character and the young kid regularly referring to Depp’s character as “Mr. T”!

DVD’s to come are…the first series of Black Books (re: Dylan Moran discussion a few posts back) and Threads – 80’s “crap yourself” drama about potential nuclear annihilation. Nothing like a bit of 80’s nuclear war drama to cheer you up! Credit crunch?! Peh!!!

DVD’s

After working on my list of U2 songs for yesterday’s post, I watched some DVD’s. It’s SSSSOOOOO the non-rating season in the UK. Here’s a sample of the “delights” on TV last night.

As of 6pm:

BBC1:
News 6.10-6.30
My Family 6.30-7.00
(a modern day Brit family comedy – ie: not THAT funny) – OK if you really ARE stretched for something to watch)
Last Choir Standing 7.00-8.00
(yet ANOTHER reality TV talent show – this one obviously about finding “the” choir group of the UK – I just can’t generate any interest in it)
The National Lottery: This Time Tomorrow 8.00-8.50
(yes, our lottery programme goes for that long! They usually have some quiz show linked into it. This one is seemingly called “This Time Tomorrow” where the quiz winner gets flown off to an exotic location as their prize)
Casualty 8.50-9.40
(hospital-based drama series)
News 9.40-10.00

BBC2
The Weakest Link 6.15-7.00
Dad’s Army 7.00-7.30
Carry On Camping 7.30-9.00
(Lord have mercy! Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I DO love an old “Carry On” film, but not prime time on a Saturday night!)
Cor, Blimey! 9.00-10.45
(TV drama about the Carry On films and stars of the movies)

ITV1
Twins 5.35-7.30
(the movie with Arnie and Danny De Vito)
New You’ve Been Framed 7.30-8.00
(one of those home video compilation shows – give me strength)
Who Dares Sings 8.00-9.00
(another reality TV show – basically karaoke on TV)
Foyle’s War 9.00-11.00
(drama series about some war bloke or something. Dunno. Never watched, never will – even despite David Tennant being in an episode once)

Channel 4
Gok’s Fashion Fix (repeat from Thursday night) 6.00-7.00
(hosted by fashionista Gok Wan, telling people who care what’s hot in fashion and trying to help members of the public improve their fashion sense)
Channel 4 News 7.00-7.30
Day Of The Kamikaze 7.30-9.00
(a documentary about Japanese Kamikaze fighter pilots of WWII)
Big Brother 9.00-10.00
(the day’s “highlights” from the reality TV show’s house)

Five
Superstars 6.05-7.00
(has-been athletes competing against each other for reasons beyond my comprehension)
Five News 7.00-7.15
Cricket on Five 7.15-8.00
(the day’s highlights of the current test between England and South Africa)
NCIS 8.00-9.00
CSI:NY 9.00-10.00
(sorry, I’m not interested in CSI:Anywhere – well, maybe I’d watch CSI:Luton! – NOT)

The only cool thing to be had on was highlights from T In The Park (Scotland’s big music festival – think Glastonbury but in Scotland) on BBC Three. I just recorded what I wanted to see.

So, hence DVD night.

I watched a film called Deja Vu with Denzel Washington. Oh My God! That film WAY surpassed what I was expecting of it. I just sort of remembered it being talked about on film reviews and stuff, but couldn’t really remember much about it, but added it to my rental list anyway. Oh man it was good! A lot more Sci-fi based than I was expecting too. The ending was a tad far-fetched (I suppose it’s just that Hollywood need for a happy ending), but the film had me glued.

After watching that, it was time for a bit of a DT fix, so I started watching the TV series Blackpool. I watched the first two episodes. I remember wanting to watch it when it was on the TV, but just never got the chance. I think I was worried by the musical slant on it that it might be too kitschy. It IS kitschy in those scenes, but fun. And Mr T is being quite sexy in this show. I love this running theme they have through it that his character – a detective called Peter Carlisle – he is completely addicted to sugary foods. So far – just in the first two episodes we’ve seen him eat chips, ice cream, candy floss, cake, and biscuits. In nearly every scene he’s in he’s eating something. Like a bloke would stay that skinny eating all that junk food? The ice cream scene is particularly yummy. DT eating ice cream from a cone, licking the ice cream off – I can’t tell you how much I was wishing to be the ice cream!!!

I think had I got to watch it on the TV I might not have stuck with it. It’s a bit of a slow-burner. The plot doesn’t really develop until the second episode. But now I’m really dying to watch the rest of it. The lead guy in it, David Morrissey is going to be in this year’s Doctor Who Christmas special. And there are rumours he might end up being the Doctor’s new assistant. Here’s my fave scene so far, with Messers Tennant and Morrissey being ever so slightly homo-erotic.

Not the best clip, but the others up were out of sync.

I’ve got Run, Fat Boy, Run to watch later on. I’m scarily now starting to get a thing for Dylan Moran! I’m on a real geeky-sexy trip at the moment! Next thing you know, I’ll be watching the whole series of Black Books (which I should anyway because by all accounts it’s wonderfully funny). He’s touring around the country at the moment. I’d love to see him again. We saw him at the Cambridge Corn Exchange a few years back and he did this thing about Irish men, and their hair. I was in stitches. Here’s a clip of it from another performance in Dublin (from the official DVD release).

Dylan Moran on Smurfs.

Gruesome Scene – and Doctor Who spoilers (for those outside the UK).

This is what I saw in the bathroom last night.

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The little blob underneath the spider had just hours before been a moth. Life is cruel…

And so…on to the Doctor Who finale’.

It turned out exactly the way I didn’t want it to turn out really. Here’s someone’s YouTube splice of the end of the penultimate episode picking it up on the final episode.

Oh man, it was David Tennant all along!! Still, at least a little further into the program, we get this…

It’s a little bit in (and it’s a long clip), but we get…

Two Doctors! Scrum-didley-uptious!!!

I was SSSOOO pee’d off towards the end though, when Rose gets to go off with the part-human Doctor! Sssssoooo not fair!!!

As for the program itself. It seemed a little too busy. Russell T Davies seemed to be trying to tie up too many loose ends. I really was disappointed plot-wise that he went for this “cop out” regeneration. Having us all on tenterhooks all week wondering if all the filming people had seen of the Christmas special with David Tennant was just a huge smoke-screen and he actually WAS leaving.

I am a little confused about the whole Bad Wolf Bay beach scene where Rose goes off and lives “happily ever after” with the half-human Doctor. And the fact that she needs to go back to living in a parallel universe, I just don’t get that. Having all the characters from other spin-offs and everything as well made it busy.

I dunno. I kind of wanted to dislike it, but I didn’t. I felt shafted over the regeneration, but then was pleased to have two Doctors (three really if you count Donna in as being part-timelord). I really didn’t understand the point of Mickey and Jackie being there. Or even Sarah-Jane for that matter. There was a role for Rose to play in that she came to warn the Doctor of the Daleks plans to destroy all the planets they’d captured, and a role for Martha in trying to save the Earth by blowing it to smithereens (?!), and Jack as well, because the Daleks got Torchwood involved. But other than that, there was just too much scope given to needless characters. I know it was RTD’s swan-song as he gives up the helm of head writer and executive producer, but perhaps someone else would’ve written a better end-of-series script. He’d written such a good script for the 11th episode, but these final two seemed rushed.

Anyway, that’s about it for now. Just had to get that Who stuff off my chest.

Glasto – Last Day

Well, Glastonbury has finished for another year. Overall it was REALLY good (minus Jay-Z and Amy Winehouse). They showed Neil Diamond early in the afternoon. Not my cup of tea, but he sounded on form and the crowd were behind him. Saw little bits of Goldfrapp’s set. They sounded good. Alison Goldfrapp was wearing what co-host Mark Radcliffe described as “one of those string plastic curtains you see in Chinese take-aways that hangs over the door to the kitchen”. That was a good description!

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Got to see a bit of The Zutons, tiny bit of Groove Armada and some Mark Ronson too (spoilt somewhat by the presence of Lily Allen). Saw about an hour of Eddy Grant’s set – respect! Even FINALLY got to see a Crowded House song!!!!! But the highlight of the night, if not the whole of Glasto was The Verve. It’s like they’ve never been away. They did the most beautiful version of The Drugs Don’t Work (I covered Chris’s ears every time he sang the line “like a cat in a bag, waiting to drown”). And they also did a killer version of the unofficial British National Anthem – Bittersweet Symphony.

To see some of their set (hopefully you can view it, some BBC things are UK specific), click here

If you can’t see it, enjoy this on me.

Burger Overkill!

I saw this on TV the other night and thought, “My Lord, no wonder we’re a national of lard arses!”

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This is the Angus 6 pack…YES, 6 mini burgers in one!!! I have to admit, to my bad, BAD, evil junk food-loving mind it looks VERY good (and I do prefer BK to Micky D’s). And I think I’d be sad enough to keep it in one piece to make it feel like I’m having a GIGANTIC burger. 

I assume if BK are trying to promote “responsible” eating with this that this would be shared by a minimum of two people? I can’t see any evidence on the web site of any notion of “sharing” this burger with others. Perhaps the MINI burgers look deceptively big. I didn’t see a price for it, but considering a normal BK burger can be about £3 or £4, this will on doubt be about £3.99 or even £4.99 perhaps…maybe I’m wrong.

All I know is, it’s overkill!! Having this 6 pack won’t keep your body’s “6 pack” for long!

Big Brother 9 – The Circus Has Come To Town!

Oh, my Lord. Another fantastic array of bimbos, himbos, nerds, geeks and freaks have “gone in” for the summer.

Here’s the rundown:

Dennis

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Camp as! Is a dancer (supposedly). Reminds me of an ugly, fat version of Rufus Wainwright. Oh man, this guy thinks he is SO all that! The man is a troll!

Darnell

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Brit born, but grew up in America. Albino. Has been arrested 5 times (like it’s something to brag about) and never watched Big Brother (reportedly). Despite being albino looks really simian. And he is WHITE, I mean REAL WHITE. When he stands next to the rest of the housemates, woah! So far, the only interesting thing about him seems to be his albino-ness.

Dale

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A true knob! The man said in his VT and I quote “If there is fanny in the house, I’ll nail it”! Eeeewwww, repulsive little sh!t! Gives himself 10/10 for looks (dream on buddy) but 4/10 for generosity – no shit Sherlock! Four is probably scaling it up a bit!

Kathreya (pronounced without the H, so Kat_reya)

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Calls herself the “Cookie monster” as she LOVES cookies. Very bubbly, but kinda infectious. Wants to have her gravestone made of cookies so her family can eat it(!) Originally from Thailand, moved to the UK 7 years ago. A bit Little Britain Ting Tong Macadangdang.

Luke

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20 and a politics student. Knob, but in a different way to Dale, geeky knob. Sexually ambiguous, he likes wearing suits, especially ones he’s bought from ASDA (discount supermarket chain owned by Wal-mart).

Mario (real name Shaun)

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The whole (real name, Shaun) tickles me. Why not just BE Shaun?! He is a serial TV whore. Been on more audience participation shows than you can shake a stick at. Been described by BB fans as looking like a cross between Joey from Friends and Sylvester Stallone. The oldest member of the house at 42. Entered the house with his gf Lisa.

Michael

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Token disabled guy. Was partially blind from the age of 8, been totally blind for the last 10 years. Not sure how he’ll cope in the house and does appear to have a totally unintentional direct way with people. I think he might get himself into trouble/arguments.

There are nine other housemates, most of the female and are either chavs, bimbos or chimbos and I can’t be bothered wasting time on them all. The ones I’ve mentioned are the “stand-outs” for me.

Anyway, I’ve spent more time on this than I planned to and I doubt I’ll be watching any more of it, so that’ll probably be your lot. I’d like to watch it…just for some reason I cannot really fathom. But most of them are SO wafer thin (not as in physically but mentally), I doubt I’ll be able to bring myself to do it. We’ll see.

My New Favourite Dish.

I like cooking and in particular I like the results of cooking, but I hate the mess it leaves behind. So a few weeks back I decided to do a one-pot meal. Mozzy (see the Who’s who tab at the top of my blog page) had given us a little one-pot slow cooker. Frigging slow alright! I started to use it, but it was obvious it would take HOURS, if it was going to heat up and cook stuff at all (sorry Mozzy, but I can see why you didn’t use it yourself).

I quickly aborted using it, for a trad. saucepan on the stove top. After cooking it, it came out LOVER-LY! I’ve made it several times since, and it’s SO damn easy, I wanted to share my recipe.

Ingredients:

250-400gm of meat (depending on the cut of meat, and or how “hearty” you want your meal), of any type you desire, gammon, lamb, beef, chicken, pork (I’ve not tried it with pork yet, but will be tomorrow night), roughly cut into 1cm chunks.
Optional – flour to coat red meats or pork.
1 small onion, chopped (I use pre-chopped onion that the local supermarket sells – saves the tears)
1 medium potato, peeled and chopped into small cubes

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1 medium sweet potato, peeled and chopped into small cubes
1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped into small cubes
2 tablespoons of uncooked long-grain white rice
1/2 cup of frozen peas
1 vegetable stock cube dissolved in 475ml of boiling water
Vegetable/olive oil for frying
Salt and pepper to taste.

Use a medium pot 18/20cm size, with a 1.5 to 2lt capacity.

If using red meat (beef or lamb) or pork, coat the meat with some plain flour in a plastic bag.
Add some oil to the saucepan, add onion and cook until lightly coloured. Add the meat and cook for a few minutes until meat sears. Add salt and pepper (if desired). Add all the vegetables, except peas. Add the rice. Give all ingredients a quick stir around, then add stock water. Bring to boil, then let summer slowly on the stove top, stirring occasionally. Leave simmering with lid on for approx 20 minutes, add frozen peas, leave to simmer for a further 10 minutes. The dish is now ready to serve, but can be left to cool slightly by turning off heat and removing lid for 5-10 minutes.

For a meal for 2, just double everything, including the size of pot!

Photo supplied by: 2-Dog-Farm under Creative Commons license.

Chalk and cheese.

I’ve just been listening to the local radio station. They played the new Spice Girls single. . .well, whatever. It’s totally forgettable. Unlike Kylie’s one. . .which is fab! Straight after they played the Spice Grans song they played All Saints’ Black Coffee. That song is still KILLER after all these years. They were *so* ribbed when they released Rock Steady, but it is 50 times better than the Spice Grans song. Seriously!