Thursday, 31 December 2009

Let The Right One In

This Swedish film, based on a novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist, centers on a bullied, loner 12-year old boy who makes friends with a girl who moves in next door, the twist being that she's a vampire...

In the hands of Hollywood, this could have been turned into a generic horror flick that would have passed by with little notice, but Swedish director Tomas Alfredson has created a masterpiece that is undoubtedly the best film of the genre. Everything about it is pitch-perfect: the restrained screenplay, the atmospheric photography of Hoyte Van Hoytema, Judy Becker's 80s production design and some terrific make-up from Donald Mowat's team.

But central to everything are Kare Hedebrandt as the boy, Oskar and Lina Leandersson as his vampiric friend Eli, who absolutely mesmerizes on screen. The film rests and ultimately triumphs on the believability of their relationship.

The horror element itself is handled with remarkable restraint. A lesser director would let rip with the overtly horrific scenes, but Alfredson delivers a masterclass in how horror should be portrayed, keeping Eli's murderous acts on a believable scale , their apparently normalcy making them all the more chilling. The final scene in particular is a tour-de-force.

Let The Right One In is so good it may just be my favourite film of all time. Time will tell on that, but it's definitely in my top three with Three Colours: Red and American Beauty. Interestingly, all three of these feature male outcast characters with strong female counterparts. I wonder what that says about me?

Watched yesterday

Hotel Babylon: Episode 2.4 - 3/5

Film no. 2316
Let The Right One In - 5/5
Review to follow.

24: Day 7, 4pm-5pm - 4/5

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Watched yesterday

Top Gear: Bolivia Special - 5/5

Breaking Bad: 4 Days Out - 5/5

The Day Of The Triffids: Part One - 3/5
OK, but not enough to make me want to watch the second half. Would probably have worked better as 3x60 rather than 2x90 on the BBC. After seeing Joely Richardson in Nip/Tuck for so long, it was weird to see her in a role with her natural English accent.

30 Rock: Goodbye, My Friend - 3/5

Breaking Bad: Over - 3/5

From The Earth To The Moon: That's All There Is - 3/5

24: Day 7, 2pm-3pm - 3/5

24: Day 7, 3pm-4pm - 4/5

Funniest Ever You've Been Framed! - 4/5

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Watched yesterday

Film no. 2315
Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End - 1/5
Never have I given such a big blockbuster such a poor rating, but this is pretty awful. A big lumbering dollop of a movie that doesn't have any kind of coherent plot. It feels like they were just making it up as they went along. Worst of all, the central character of Jack Sparrow, so engaging in The Curse Of The Black Pearl has been stripped back to a pale shadow of his former self. It's better technically, with some impressive CGI work, but even here it's bloated, with the final sea battle going on forever. Keira's gorgeous, but sadly not even she can save this sinking ship. It's made all the more depressing by the thought there will inevitibly be another one - in 3D :(

Frasier: The Gift Horse - 3/5

Modern Family: Great Expectation - 5/5

Breaking Bad: Better Call Saul - 4/5

Modern Family: Fizbo - 4/5

Modern Family: Undeck The Halls - 4/5

Monday, 28 December 2009


Courtesy of @mulika, originally here.

Watched yesterday

Film no. 2314
Sherlock Holmes - 3/5
Somewhat disappointed by this because, to be frank, it's just a bit dull. It ambles along amiably enough and there are a few virtuoso action sequences, but the storyline isn't remotely compelling and Jude Law is practically invisible.

Family Guy: Lets Go To The Hop - 2/5

The Secret Life Of The Airport: Joining The Jet Set - 3/5

The Secret Life Of The Airport: The Final Approach - 4/5

You've Been Framed And Famous! - 1/5
I usually love YBF! but this was tediously repetitive.

Modern Family: Coal Digger - 4/5
My new favourite TV show.

Modern Family: Run For Your Wife - 5/5

Harry Hill's TV Burp Review Of The Year - 4/5

Modern Family: En Garde - 4/5

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Watched yesterday

Breaking Bad: Negro Y Azul - 4/5

Damages: There's No 'We' Anymore - 3/5

HM The Queen - 3/5

You've Been Framed At Christmas! - 3/5
Not enough cats.

Doctor Who: The End Of Time, Part One - 4/5

The Royle Family: The Golden Egg Cup - 4/5

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Watched yesterday

Dallas: Election - 3/5

Breaking Bad: Peekabo - 4/5

Modern Family: Pilot - 4/5
It's so good when you wath the first episode of a new TV series and just know that for as long as they make it, you're always going to watch. This clear descendent of Arrested Development and The Office is one such series. Happily surprised to see Julie Bowen's in it. She's stunning!

Modern Family: The Bicycle Thief - 4/5

Modern Family: Come Fly With Me - 4/5

The Big Bang Theory: The Jiminy Conjecture - 3/5

Modern Family: The Incident - 4/5

QI: Groovy - 3/5
Is it just me, or is QI going off the boil lately?

Friday, 25 December 2009

Watched yesterday

Criminal Minds: The Perfect Storm - 3/5

Film no. 2313
Butterfly On A Wheel - 2/5
This is a fairly flat, run-of-the-mill thriller, but the entire thing is rendered absurb by a daft final plot twist. Maria Bello is as fine as ever though.

Harry Hill's The Best Of TV Burp 2 - 4/5
Funny to see a friend of mine on there :)

Spooks: Episode 8.8
So, farewell then, Ros Myers...

Nip/Tuck: Allegra Caldarello - 3/5

Nip/Tuck: Giselle Blaylock & Legend Chandler - 3/5
I knew Christian wasn't really dying. Such an obvious twist.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Watched yesterday

CSI New York: Youngblood - 4/5

Have I Got A Bit More News For You - 4/5

Charlie Brooker's Screenwipe Review Of 2009 - 4/5

The Big Bang Theory: The Electric Can Opener Fluctuation - 3/5

Breaking Bad: Breakage - 3/5

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Watched yesterday

CSI Miami: Forced Entry - 4/5

30 Rock: Larry King - 4/5

Breaking Bad: Down - 4/5

Film no. 2312
Revolution - 2/5
Less of a film, more of a TV pilot, really, despite why Sky say.

Paradox: Episode 5 - 3/5
Beginning to think that the BBC should start producing more 45 minute dramas. An hour too often lends itself to flabby storytelling.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Watched yesterday

CSI Crime Scene Investigation: Paper Or Plastic? - 3/5

Breaking Bad: Bit Of A Dead Bee - 4/5

Film no. 2311
Dan In Real Life - 3/5

Come Dine With Me At Christmas - 3/5

Monday, 21 December 2009

British Transport Films: Blue Pullman

I recently purchased the BFI's British Transport Films collection, comprising all 125 short films produced by the BTF from 1950 to 1983. This first film, from 1960, followed the testing and running of a first-class Blue Pullman service from the Midlands to St Pancras.

This screen shot from the film is of two bridges near where I live, crossing the river Trent. The lines head into two tunnels underneath Red Hill and come out alongside the Radcliffe-Upon-Soar power station. The western tunnel into which the train in the film goes has an entrance in the form of a mock castle, complete with turrets.

Later in the film, a member of staff is seen checking the progress of the train against a printed list of checkpoints, including Sawley and Sheet Stores Junction, which both lie between here an the location in the above shot.

Observations on Avatar

A few observations after seeing Avatar yesterday...

1. It's about an hour too long for the story.

2. The new-age eco-spiritualism stuff is unimaginably cheesy (and there's a lot of it).

3. The 3D doesn't really add anything and, in fact, is often more of a distraction. It rarely creates a sense of depth, but rather just picks out certain objects or characters and 'projects' them forward. I watched some bits in 2D and there's no qualitative difference.

4. The Na'vi and the various creatures, plants etc on the planet are very obviously CGI. For all the early talk of 'photo-realistic' rendering, there's still nothing here as good as the raptors of Jurassic Park. The CGI is more effective in rendering non-living things.

5. Neytiri is still kinda hot though...

6. The film is at its best and most visually spectacular when Cameron gets back to what he does best, i.e. hardware-heavy action scenes.

Watched recently

Wire In The Blood: Anything You Can Do - 4/5

Film no. 2309
Yes Man - 3/5

Film mo. 2310
Avatar - 3/5
A separate post with observations on this film will follow.

The X-Files: Syzygy - 2/5

Breaking Bad: Seven Thirty-Seven - 3/5

Breaking Bad: Grilled - 4/5

Bad Girls: Hard Knock Life - 2/5

Top Gear - 3/5

British Transport Films: Blue Pullman - 4/5
A separate post on this will follow.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Watched yesterday

Countdown: 18th December
Chris Davies - 117
Andrew Hulme - 86
Dan Brusca - 64
Never stood a chance given it was the final, but my points came from EMBARGO, SKATES, SAPPIEST, MAIDENS and SHOULD. No more Countdown until January. Sad times :(

Misfits: Episode 1.6 - 5/5
Good to hear this week that this has been recommissioned for next year.

You've Been Framed! - 5/5

The Wire: Corner Boys - 4/5

Friday, 18 December 2009

The not-so divine rights of a king-to-be

In what was clearly a slow news day yesterday, the Guardian chose to lead with...
Charles faces fresh meddling claim over letters to ministers

It continued...
Prince Charles was last night facing fresh accusations of meddling in government policy after it emerged that he had written directly to ministers in eight Whitehall departments over the last three years.

The Guardian is a staunch advocate of human rights, democracy and freedom of expression, so it's curious that it views a citizen engaging in their demcratic right to petition the government as "meddling".

Of course, the paper's bugbear is that Charles, as heir to the throne, should be above politics. That's all well and good, but the Guardian is an unashamedly republican newspaper. It espouses equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities for all and opposes hereditary privilege. Surely they should celebrate Charles exercising his rights?

Unfortunately it seems that they're more interested in the nouveau class warfare of our times, rather than genuinely standing by their principles.

Watched yesterday

Countdown: 17th October
Chris Davies - 102
Innis Carson - 97
Dan Brusca - 46
Poor performance from me, scoring zero for the first four rounds, but an immense contest between Davies and Carson. My paltry score came courtesy of LIMITED, PASSED, LATENT and GUNBOAT.

Wainwright Walks: Castle Crag - 3/5

Nip/Tuck: Budi Sabri - 4/5

QI: Geography - 3/5

The West Wing: A Proportional Response - 4/5

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Watched yesterday

Countdown: 16th December
Andrew Hulme - 90
Ryan Taylor - 48
Dan Brusca - 37
The words contributing to my meagre score: ENTOMB, CARRIES, POLEAXE and FROSTED.

The Vice: Lovesick, Part One - 2/5

Harry Hill's The Best Of TV Burp 6 - 4/5

Fringe: Grey Matters - 4/5

Paradox: Episode 1.4 - 4/5

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Watched yesterday

Countdown: 15th December
Ryan Taylor - 79
Brian Selway - 59
Dan Brusca - 57

Two Pints Of Lager & A Packet Of Crisps: Fags, Shags and Kebabs - 3/5

Have I Got A Bit More News For You - 4/5

The Thick Of It: Episode 3.8 - 4/5

30 Rock: St Valentine's Day - 3/5

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Watched yesterday

Spooks: Episode 8.7 - 3/5

Thomas & Friends: Thomas' Milkshake Muddle - 3/5

Countdown: 14th December
Innis Carson - 107
Dan Brusca - 80
Jeffrey Burgin - 66
I was in front right up until the tenth round! Spotetd on 8-letter word - REPULSED - and a niner, REPEATING.

Comedy Showcase: Guantanamo Phil - 3/5

Monday, 14 December 2009

Watched yesterday

Film no. 2308
Where The Wild Things Are - 3/5
A kids' film for sure, but it does have an undercurrent of menace, a pervading sense of melancholy and a visual inventiveness that will appeal to all audiences.

Star Trek: Where No Man Has Gone Before - 3/5

Star Trek The Next Generation: Aquiel - 2/5

30 Rock: Generalissimo - 4/5

Paradox: Episode 1.3 - 2/5

Nip/Tuck: Manny Skerritt - 4/5

QI: Games - 4/5

The Solitary Life Of Cranes - 4/5

The X Factor - 4/5
I could not care less about Joe winning and have no interest in his future career, but overall it was an entertaining show when watched with the aid of Sky+. However, the whole show was stolen by Paul McCartney and I would venture more people are waking up this morning with Live And Let Die in their heads than the X Factor single.

Misfits: Episode 1.5 - 4/5

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Watched recently

Countdown: 10th December
Andrew Hulme - 86
Jacqueline Baker - 42
Dan Brusca - 38
The quarter-finals begin, so I have no chance, but I still think MONTAGED and LUMINATE should be words.

Prime Suspect 2 - 2/5
Hasn't aged very well...

Countdown: 11th December
Chris Davies - 108
Dan Brusca - 62
Steve Wood - 61
Along with everybody else I spotted a 9-letter word: POLARISED.

The Shield: Fire In The Hole - 4/5

Dispatches: Christmas On Credit - 4/5

House: Wilson - 4/5

America's Next Top Model: America's Next Top Model Is... - 3/5
Should have been Allison :(

Fringe: Snakehead - 3/5

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Watched yesterday

Countdown: 9th December
Dan Brusca - 80
Jan Parker - 62
Gayle Knight - 56
Just the one 8-letter word: BROILERS

Popular: Hope In A Jar - 2/5

The Thick Of It: Episode 3.7 - 5/5

Have I Got A Bit More News For You - 4/5

Top Gear - 4/5

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Watched yesterday

Countdown: 9th December
Dan Brusca - 84
Jan Parker - 69
Andrew Pollock - 55
Spotted the conundrum: FASHIONED

Peep Show: Dream Job - 4/5
The scene where Mark urinates in his boss' office is one of the funniest things ever.

Spooks: Episode 8.6
This would have been more effective is the central premise - that the UK economy will collapse unless MI5 can find $1.2 billion in a couple of days - wasn't so absurd. Have they never heard of quantitative easing?

Stargate Universe: Justice - 4/5
Amazing to watch this while following actress Alaina Huffman tweeting while having a baby.

Comedy Showcase: The Amazing Dermot - 3/5
The first in this strand that doesn't really deserve a full series pick-up.

Totally You've Been Framed! - 5/5
I've said it before and I'll say it again, there's nothing funnier than clips of cats.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Watched yesterday

Countdown: 7th December
Dan Brusca - 94
Jan Parker - 74
Adrian Lumb - 73
Just one 8-letter word: PRINCESS.

Film no. 2307
A Different Kind Of Christmas - 1/5
A review of this film will appear later at

The Palace: Episode 7 - 3/5

Monday, 7 December 2009

Watched yesterday

Film no. 2304
Home By Christmas - 3/5

Film no. 2305
The Christmas Card - 2/5

Film no. 2306
This Christmas - 3/5
Reviews of the above films will appear later at

Oz: Family Bizness - 4/5

Nip/Tuck: Ricky Wells - 3/5

The Queen: How Do You Solve A Problem Like Camilla? - 4/5

The X Factor - 3/5
Go Stacey! I was quite impressed by Lady Gaga, but Janet Jackson was a major disappointment. Enough with miming already!

Misfits: Episode 4 - 4/5

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Watched yesterday

Film no. 2301
A Carol Christmas - 1/5

Film no. 2302
12 Days Of Christmas Eve - 2/5

Film no. 2303
Eve's Christmas - 1/5
Reviews of the above films will appear at later.

The Office: The Dundies - 5/5

The Queen: The Rivals - 4/5

The Queen: The Enemy Within - 4/5

The Making Of Modern Britain: Britannia At Bay - 4/5

The X Factor - 3/5
Decent performances all round and Stacey has great legs.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Watched yesterday

QI: Ganimals - 4/5

Countdown: 4th December
Jan Parker - 87
Tom Allerton - 81
Dan Brusca - 37
Had a bit of a shocker there... :/

The O.C.: The Ties That Bind - 2/5

Film no. 2300
A Christmas Wedding - 2/5
A review of this films will appear at later today.

Paradox: Episode 2 - 4/5

Friday, 4 December 2009

Watched yesterday

Countdown: 3rd December
Dan Brusca - 77
Tom Allerton - 68
Evan Gill - 43
Spotted one 8-letter word - FRAILEST - and the conundrum, TRAUMATIC.

Numb3rs: Sacrifice - 3/5

Film no. 2298
A Christmas Carol: The Musical - 2/5

Film no. 2299
A Hobo's Christmas - 1/5
Reviews of the above films will appear at later today.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Watched yesterday

Countdown: 2nd December
Tom Allerton - 83
Dan Brusca - 71
Ritchie Hoyle - 59
Hoyle is a Godspeed You! Black Emperor fan, so kudos for that. Spotted the one 8-letter word - TONELESS - and the conundrum, PROVIDING.

NCIS: Yankee White - 4/5

Film no. 2297
A Boyfriend For Christmas - 1/5
A full review will appear later at

The Queen: Us And Them - 4/5
Princess Anne was extraordinarily brave when that guy tried to kidnap her.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Watched yesterday

Countdown: 1st December
Dan Brusca - 79
Tom Allerton - 66
Adrian Coote - 47
Just the one 8-letter word, TRAIPSED, plus the conundrum, FANTASIST.

Las Vegas: The Bitch Is Back - 3/5

Film no. 2296
The Man Who Saved Christmas - 2/5
The first film I've watched as part of Dan's Festive Fifty. Sponsor me!

FlashForward: A 561 984 - 4/5

30 Rock: Retreat To Move Forward - 4/5

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Watched yesterday

Countdown: 30th November
Tom Allerton - 77
Dan Brusca - 63
Graham Jones - 52
Rachel has amazing legs...

House: Ignorance Is Bliss - 4/5

The Inbetweeners: Bunk Off - 5/5

The Queen: Sisters - 4/5

Monday, 30 November 2009

Sponsor me and help stop bullying!

Through December, I'll be watching 50 movies with 'Christmas' in the title to raise money for anti-bullying charity Bullying UK.

You can follow my progress on my Dan's Festive Fifty blog.

Please sponsor me!

Watched yesterday

Hotel Babylon: Episode 2.3 - 3/5
Kelly Brook. Amazing.

Film no. 2294
Step Brothers - 2/5
The storyline serves to do little more than facilitate Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly acting like idiots, which does raise a few laughs, but wears thin long before the film ends.

Spooks: Episode 8.5 - 4/5

Film no. 2295
Confessions Of A Shopaholic - 3/5
Considering this is based on two novels, it's surprising how stretched the material feels. The story here could easily have been condensed into an hour. On a more positive note, the production values are higher and Isla Fisher is a pretty good comedic lead. She's come a long way since Home & Away. However, for me this film was really all about Leslie Bibb who once again proves herself not only to be a shamefully underrated actress, but also the most beautiful woman in the world.

Have I Got A Bit More News For You - 4/5

The Thick Of It: Episode 3.6 - 4/5

The X Factor - 3/5
While Alicia Keys and Rihanna's performances weren't their best, they did serve to show the absolute gulf between them and the contestants.

Top Gear - 4/5

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Danielle Lawler journalistic FAIL

From today, news of Jen and Orlando...
Is love Blooming again for our Jen?
By Danielle Lawler 27/11/2009

If they're just good Friends, how come Jennifer Aniston and Orlando Bloom seem so keen not to be seen together? The A-listers, who have been pals for more than three years, flew into London yesterday.

The pair are in London for Kevin Spacey's 24 Hour Play at The Old Vic on Sunday. And it seems a few of Jen's other old friends are also in the capital - rocker ex John Mayer and actor Gerard Butler.

I fear the 'pals' will be disappointed - the 24 Hours Plays were four weeks ago.

Watched yesterday

Film no. 2292
The Big Kahuna - 3/5
Great performance from Kevin Spacey, but the film as a whole is perhaps better suited to the stage, where it originally appeared as Hollywood Suite. Would work well at the Old Vic.

From The Earth To The Moon: Mare Tranquilitatis - 4/5

Paradox: Episode 1 - 4/5
Despite the central plot device being so-far unexplained and thus quite absurd, this was a hugely entertaining an hour building up to genuinely exciting climax. Would perhaps be better suited to 45 minutes though.

Film no. 2293
The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas - 4/5
Not very often that you get to see films about WW2 from the persepective of children. Very watchable drama, but you'll probably need a box of tissues.

The Making Of Modern Britain: Little Britain - 4/5
I think a film about the Mitford sisters would be hugely entertaining.

Misfits: Episode 3 - 3/5

The X Factor - 1/5
Crushingly dull this week.

You've Been Framed! - 5/5
There's nothing funnier than clips of cats.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Watched yesterday

Countdown: 28th November
Dan Brusca - 77
Graham Jones - 69
Tom Curran - 51
Spotted one 8-letter word - ANTERIOR - and the conundrum, CONFUSING.

Nip/Tuck: Roxy St. James - 4/5

Frasier: Frasier's Imaginary Friend - 4/5

QI: Gardens - 4/5

Comedy Showcase: The Increasingly Poor Decisions Of Todd Margaret - 4/5
Sharon Horgan lifts any TV programme to another level.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Watched yesterday

Countdown: 26th November
Graham Jones - 89
Dan Brusca - 50
Jennifer Bett - 45
Just a couple of 8-letter words, FINALIST and INFLATES.

Family Guy: Road To Rhode Island - 4/5

Film no. 2291
The Incredible Hulk - 2/5
Some nice visuals, but it's a bit boring. The story is so uninspired and predictable. Ang Lee's Hulk had flaws, but at least it had some creativity to it.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Watched yesterday

Countdown: 25th November
Jennifer Bett - 81
Dan Brusca - 77
Sunil Parmar - 76

Damages: I Hate These People - 4/5

Film no. 2290
The House Bunny - 3/5
Anna Faris' personal trainer deserves an Oscar because her body is *amazing*.

Fringe: August - 4/5

30 Rock: Flu Shot - 4/5

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Watched yesterday

Countdown: 24th November
Jennifer Bett - 97
Dan Brusca - 76
Paul Parkin - 69
Spotted one 9-letter word, FLIRTIEST.

Dallas: Runaway - 3/5

Stargate Universe: Life - 4/5

FlashForward: Believe - 4/5

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Watched yesterday

Countdown: 24th November
Jennifer Bett - 97
Charlie Khoo - 79
Dan Brusca - 67
Rachel Riley looked amazing in that red dress again.

Criminal Minds: P911 - 4/5
Jodi Lyn O'Keefe!

Top Gear - 4/5
The guys driving around Oxford in an electric car they built themselves was classic TV.

House: Teamwork - 4/5
Olivia Wilde is back! :D Jennifer Morrison has gone :(

Monday, 23 November 2009

Watched yesterday (warning: Spooks spoiler)

CSI NY: Dancing With The Fishes - 4/5

The Thick Of It: Episode 3.5 - 5/5

Film no. 2289
Cold Souls - 3/5
New York metaphysical drama in the tradition of Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind and Being John Malkovich. Enjoyable, if slight. Paul Giamatti plays himself very well (naturally) and Katheryn Winnick is beyond gorgeous as Sveta.

The Making Of Modern Britain: Having A Ball - 5/5

Nip/Tuck: Gene Shelly - 4/5

The X-Factor - 4/5
Finally, John and Edward are history, but it's beyond me how Lloyd wasn't in the bottom two. Wake up Britain, he's shit!

Misfits: Episode 2 - 4/5

Spooks: Episode 8.4 - 3/5
Lucas North really is such a dull character, so it's a shame that Jo and Ros are expunged this season and not him :/

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Watched yesterday

Top Gear - 4/5
Never watched this before. Quite entertaining.

CSI Miami: Bunk - 3/5

Film no. 2285
Twilight - 4/5
Pleasantly surprised by this. It's entertaining, looks great and is quite subtle, a rarity for the genre. It is about 20 minutes too long though - 4/5

Film no. 2286
88 Minutes - 2/5
A shambles of a film. It makes no sense whatsoever and the cast - which includes many of my favourites such as Al Pacino, Amy Brenneman, Leelee Sobieski and Deborah Kara Unger - is completely wasted. It even makes Unger look frumpy, which is a crime - 2/5

Film no. 2287
The Other Boleyn Girl - 3/5
Good enough, but somewhat redundant if you watch The Tudors TV series (which is also much more entertaining). The Tudors' Natalie Dormer is also a far hotter Anne Boleyn than Natalie Portman.

You've Been Framed! - 4/5

The Family: You're The One - 2/5
Not a patch on last year's series. The trouble is that aside from Shay, the family in question are actually quite reserved. Well, either that or they're just not that interesting. I think the producers have acknowledged this by inserting one-to-one interview segments in which family members talk about what's happening. This just wasn't necessary with the Hughes, where pure observation and clever editing was able to convey just what was going on. It's also moved away from being purely observational with the cameras following family members outside the house, into their cars and beyond. The purity of the original format has been diluted. I'm out.

The X Factor - 2/5
This is just boring me now. I only give a damn about Stacey and George Michael has always bored me.

Film no. 2288
Zack And Miri Make A Porno - 3/5
Moderately diverting comedy, if entirely unconvincing on every conceivable level.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Watched yesterday

Countdown: 20th November
Charlie Khoo - 97
Elliott Mack - 83
Dan Brusca - 78

CSI: Suckers - 3/5

Fringe: Of Human Action - 3/5

Stargate Universe: Time - maybe I was tired, maybe I was distracted by discovering Alaina Huffman is on Twitter, but I had no idea what was going on in this episode - 3/5

Friday, 20 November 2009

Watched yesterday

Doctor Who: The Waters Of Mars - 2/5

Countdown: 19th November
Charlie Khoo - 75
Dan Brusca - 43
Anne Durham - 37
Spotted HORSIEST, AIRLINER and the conundrum, ETYMOLOGY.

House: Known Unknowns - 4/5

Bad Girls: True Colours - 2/5

FlashForward: Playing Cards With Coyote - 3/5

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Watched yesterday

Countdown: 18th November
Charlie Khoo - 74
Joanne Britton - 70
Dan Brusca - 59
Spotted and 8-letter word - ESPOUSED - and the conundrum, DEVILMENT.

The X-Files: War Of The Coprophages - 3/5

How To Lose Friends & Alienate People - 3/5

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Watched yesterday

Countdown: 18th November
Dan Brusca - 90
Charlie Khoo - 70
Andrew Herbertson - 43
Spotted three 9-letter words - SHATTERS, MATINEES and RENEWING - and the conundrum, SHRUBBERY.

Wire In The Blood: The Names Of Angels - 4/5

The Thick Of It: Episode 3.4 - 5/5

30 Rock: Senor Macho Solo - 5/5

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Watched yesterday

Countdown: 17th November
Ryan Taylor - 90
Ryan Vickers - 85
Dan Brusca - 67
A couple of eights: MALADIES and IMPERILS.

The X-Files: I Want To Believe - 3/5

The Wire: Unto Others - 4/5

Have I Got A Bit More News For You - 4/5

Monday, 16 November 2009

Carrie Prejean interviewed by Lynn Vincent

Just a quick post to point out Lynn Vincent's recent interview with Carrie. It's great stuff.

Thanks to Anita Plamer at The Rock for the heads-up.

Watched yesterday

The West Wing: Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc - 4/5

Nip/Tuck: Ronnie Chase - 4/5

The Culture Show - 4/5

Misfits: Episode 1.1 - 4/5

Harry Brown - 4/5

Spooks: Episode 8.3 - the ruthless scriptwriters swiftly despatch yet another central character - 4/5

The X Factor - Shakira. Now there's a woman... - 4/5

Comedy Showcase: PhoneShop - 4/5

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Christians should stand up for Carrie Prejean

Things just don't get any easier for Carrie Prejean. Last week we learned of the existence of a so-called 'sex tape' which may or may not have forced her to settle her lawsuit against the Miss USA pageant. This week she got slammed for not betraying a confidential agreement by answering questions from Larry King. Then there came rumours that she lied about her age when she made the recording and that there might actually be even more recordings out there. Now on top of all that, it seems even some of her Christian supporters are sticking the knife in.

Let's hypothecate a little and say that Carrie did lie about her age in the recording and that she gave a misleading impression that there was only one such recording. Why would she do that? When we're in a tight spot we're all prone to making poor choices. Think how hard it must be if you know the world is watching your every word and that millions of people are just waiting for you to make a slip-up so they can tear you to pieces. Carrie had to deal with that. She had also become a poster child for the conservative movement, which had given her so much support. Isn't it natural that she wouldn't want to disappoint them or let them down in any way? What about her family, friends, church, publisher and all those who have drawn inspiration from her? Who wouldn't consider lying to protect them, no matter how misguided and wrong an act that may be?

None of this makes Carrie evil, a hypocrite, or less of a Christian. It simply makes her human.

Perhaps that's why some on the Christian right now appear to be turning against her. They turned her into an idol and her alledged lapses have knocked the crown they placed upon her head. They feel that they've been made to look bad for backing her and have turned away from her or, in some cases on her. What's striking about this is that it has nothing do with being a Christian, it's about politics and perception.

I think that the Christians out there who have turned on Carrie need to get back to basics. Have you forgotten about such things as love and forgiveness? Have you forgotten the words of Matthew 7:1? If Carrie lied then the Christian thing to do is forgive her and show her the love she needs to get back on track, not turn your backs on her. Being Christian means sticking by people, no matter how hard our faith in them is tested, because we only really advance as a species through love and compassion for eachother, not through damnation and abandonment.

I urge every Christian to go out there and stand up for Carrie, do something to defend her, show her she's loved no matter what. Post on Twitter or Facebook, comment on some blog posts, write an article, whatever. Carrie needs you, so quit complaining, step up and be a Christian!

Watched yesterday

The Making Of Modern Britain: The Great War - 4/5

Film no. 2278
Rachel Getting Married - 3/5

Film no. 2279
The Execution Of Gary Glitter - 3/5

Film no. 2280
Blindness - 4/5

Film no. 2281
Lights In The Dusk - 3/5

The Family: Chicken And Vodka Every Day - 4/5

Star Trek - 5/5

The X Factor - At this stage, there should be more acts that can actually sing, but only three - Stacey, Olly and Joe - even approach any good. Stacey's the only act left that I give a damn about and if she goes, this year's X Factor will be over for me - 3/5

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Watched yesterday

Countdown: 13th November
Ryan Taylor - 82
Dan Brusca - 81
Lucy Bolton - 76
Spotted one 9-letter word, PURLOINER.

Wainwright Walks: Blencathra - 4/5

30 Rock: Christmas Special - 4/5

Stargate Universe: Earth - this is my favourite show at the moment - 4/5

America's Next Top Model: Take Me To The Photoshoot - 3/5

Friday, 13 November 2009

Watched yesterday

Countdown: 12th November
Ryan Taylor - 123
Dan Brusca - 79
Martyn Simpson - 68
Spotted one 8-letter word, DIALECTS, and a nine, RESTORING. Only had 6 points after the first six rounds :O

The Vice: Betrayal, Part 2 - 3/5

FlashForward: The Gift - 4/5

Alexander Armstrong's Very British Holiday - 4/5

Fringe: Earthling - 4/5

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Carrie Prejean update

OK, now that Carrie Prejean has confirmed the existence of the now notorious mobile phone 'sex tape' I guess it's only natural, if disappointing, that people out there will want to seek it out and view it. As far as I'm aware, it hasn't leaked, but I really need to sound a note of caution to anyone who does view it should it enter the public domain...


If you're found out, you could do serious jail time, so if not for the sake of Carrie's dignity, you should stay well away for the sake of your own liberty.

On a more positive note it's heartening to see that in recent days there's been growing online support for Carrie. Rick Ellis at is on the opposite side of the gay marriage debate to Carrie, but he's no fan of the way she's been attacked. Neither is Tommy Christopher at

Jane Tucker at UKMedix Health News suggests that much of the hatred directed at Carrie is driven by her physical perfection.

Even, the website which sparked the latest controversy is doing Carrie a favour, revealing evidence that Donald Trump did indeed influence who went through in the Miss USA pageant, as Carrie claims in her book.

Carrie herself has given an in-depth interview to Christianity Today.

Finally, here's Carrie talking about her experiences on The View...

Watched yesterday

Countdown: 11th November
Ryan Taylor - 91
Dan Brusca - 79
David Woodward - 29
Spotted two 8-letter words, POLITEST and MERIDIAN, plus the conundrum, DEPARTURE.

Thomas & Friends: Duncan And The Old Mine - 3/5

Have I Got A Bit More News For You1 - 4/5

Comedy Showcase: Campus - 2/5

The Thick Of It: Episode 3.3 - 5/5

Miranda: Date - a bit silly... - 2/5

House: Braveheart - 4/5

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Watched yesterday

The Making Of Modern Britain: Road To War - 4/5

Countdown: 10th November
Ryan Taylor - 104
Lesley Hines - 104
Dan Brusca - 85
Spotted one 8-letter word, MENTORED, and a couple of nines: MARINADES, DERATIONS.

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Ship In A Bottle - 3/5

Spooks: Episodes 8.1 and 8.2 - 4/5

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Carrie Prejean talks tape

Carrie talks to Sean Hannity about her book and thattape on Fox News last night. Interesting to hear where the tape came from. She was a teenager, in a relationship with a guy she loved and she made the tape for him. Now a few years down the line it falls into the hands of Nice guy... Good to see Hannity, Carrie's biggest supporter in the media, still standing by her.

Carrie Prejean addresses FRC Action

Carrie addressing the FRC action event, which I think was in Washington D.C. on 16th Septepmber...

Watched yesterday

Countdown: 9th November
Ryan Taylor - 93
Dan Brusca - 59
Geoff Morris - 50
Just the one 8-letter word: RATIONED.

Star Trek: Charlie X - 3/5

The Force: Episode 1 - 4/5

Monday, 9 November 2009

Watched yesterday

Film no. 2275
The Men Who Stare At Goats - 3/5

Film no. 2276
The September Issue - 4/5

Film no. 2277
Threads - 4/5

You've Been Framed! - 4/5

The X Factor - Britain's smokes crack again, putting Lucie at the bottom of the voting. I agree with Simon Cowell that she wasn't good enough to win - I think many people wanted her to be better than she was because she looked good - but she was far better than John & Edward and Lloyd. How Lloyd continues to survive amazes me because he's poor singer and, unlike the twins, can't even put on a show. Sadly, it seems that this is a Leon year for the X Factor, rather than a Leona one - 3/5

Dan;s daily desktop - Heidi Klum

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Watched yesterday

Burn After Reading - 3/5

The Diving Bell And The Butterfly - 5/5

Trick 'R Treat - 3/5

Into The Storm - 4/5

The Family: Cup Of Tea - 3/5

The X-Factor - I don't think that any of them are outstanding this year, but at least Stacey proved she can do sexy. Lloyd, Jamie and John & Edward were awful - 3/5

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Watched yesterday

Fringe: Dream Logic - 4/5

Countdown: 6th November
Ryan Taylor - 74
Chris Civil - 54
Dan Brusca - 34
See, just goes to show how lack of sleep can really screw up your game.

The Sopranos: 46 Long - 4/5

America's Next Top Model: Acting Like A Model - such a weird looking bunch this time around, losing interest - 3/5

30 Rock: Reunion - 4/5

Stargate Universe - 4/5

Friday, 6 November 2009

Carrie hate is back again

It's been a while since I've posted much about Carrie Prejean, but recent events compel comment.

It's a little hard to know exactly what's happened, but it seems to go something like this. Carrie was suing the Miss USA pageant and in return, they were counter-suing over something else. This week, they reached an out-of-court settlement. It then emerged via TMZ that there was supposedly a video doing the rounds of a Carrie masturbating. The inference was that she was forced into a settlement because of this video.

There are a few things to say about this...

1. The video. So what? Even if it is genuine, I fail to see what's wrong with it. Show me someone who has never masturbated and I'll show you a liar. Masturbating doesn't make you a hyprocrite just because you happen to be a Christian. Some Christians - shock! horror! - even have sex!

2. Why would the video force Carrie to settle? It wouldn't have any bearing on the facts of the court case. If Carrie was compelled to settle or face the video being made public isn't that tantamount to blackmail?

3. Clearly Carrie had something on the Miss USA pageant because she's supposedly received a $100,000 settlement from them. Sure it's far less than the $1 million she was seeking, but if the video is so damning and Carrie's case so weak, why any settlement at all?

Anyway, whatever the truth of the matter all the legal business has now come to a halt and Carrie should be able to move on, but we're still left with the vilification of an honest young woman because of her religious beliefs, which is pretty much what she's had to deal with since that fateful encounter with Perez Hilton.

For those of you out there who have supported Carrie in recent months, now is time to stand up for her once again. She is a good person and she doesn't deserve to be on the receiving end of such hatred.

On a more positive note, Carrie's book is out Monday! Actually, Amazon are shipping it already as they sent me an email to that effect last night, so please go online and order it now. It's a great way to show your support for Carrie and learn the truth about what really happened to her.

To order in the US, click here, to order in the UK, click here (I receive no commission).

In review: Uncle Sam and Old Vic

I'm aware that I haven't really posted much of substance here in recent months. For one reason or another, I just haven't had the time, not least because of my holiday and a few trips to the Old Vic.

Here's a little review of what I've been up to...

Thursday, 1st October
Attended press night for Inherit The Wind at the Old Vic, along with Steve. The play's a little simplistic, but that's only because our arguments on the whole creationism versus evolution debate are much more sophisticated now than at the time the play was written. Overall though it's excellent, much more humourous than I was expecting and superbly staged, directed and performed.

Milled around at the after-show party at Vinopolis. Awkward encounter with Tracey Emin, who I unexpectedly found myself standing with, but with nothing to say. Kevin Spacey told me he got his accent for Telstar from watching The Dam Busters.

Tuesday, 6th October
Back to the Old Vic, by myself this time, for the annual artistic director's lunch, starting off with drinks on the stage amidst the set for Inherit The Wind. Had a chat with Kevin about Twitter. "I don't talk to the crazies." he said.

For the lunch I was sat between (Lady) Ann Samuel, Group Director of the Old Vic, and an amazing woman from Bank of America who oversees their European corporate sponsorship. It shames me that I can't remember her name. Engaging company and superb food. Will be doing a little 'development' work for the Old Vic.

Spent the evening with Eva, a blonde German model, at a restaurant the name of which, again, escapes me.

Wednesday, 7th October
Up early to catch my flight to Los Angeles. The day got off to a bad start when, upon arrival at Waterloo, I realsed I had left my Oyster card back at the Premier Inn, so had to trudge back through the rain to get it. Thankfully, it was then a straightforward trip right through to the BA Club World lounge at Terminal 5.

The 11 hour flight was uneventful, but thoroughly enjoyable thanks to good food, good wine and the other perks of business class. The east coast of Greenland was truly a sight to behold and the mountains of western Canada and the US were also impressive. Sat next to a guy who looked like Edward Norton and who travelled the world selling TV programmes for Lionsgate, most notably Mad Men.

Arrived just after lunch, local time, and boarded a coach to Union Station. Met a couple who were on their way down to San Diego for an Amtrak dinner, he being one of Amtrak's four employees at Houston station. Weird station though. You wait in the building then when the train arrives they tell you what platform to go to. Incidentally, among other things, scenes from Blade Runner were filmed there with part of the station doubling as the police station in the film.

Onboard the train I was sat next to a young Korean-American guy who lives in San Diego, but works in LA selling real estate. Used to be a marine snaiper, but had trouble taking orders, so got out. Had a Korean phone from the future, like nothing I've ever seen in the UK.

Eventually got to the Holiday Inn San Diego Downtown around 7.30ish. Nice enough room on the next to top floor, with a good view of downtown and looking across to San Diego Bay. Ordered two burgers for dinner, which was a mistake as they were huge, as were the bottles of beer. The beer was OK, the food completely tasteless.

Thursday, 8th October
Up early (2.30, thanks to body clock). Bimbled around and somehow killed four or five hours before getting up for a taste-free breakfast of eggs and small bits of potato. Set-off for a day around San Diego. Walked south, right down to the convention center, then along the bay to the USS Midway, taking lots of photos.

The USS Midway was well worth a visit. A huge aircraft carrier whose last tour of duty was as the command platform for Desert Storm, it's now been converted into a museum and the public have free access to pretty much every area of interest onboard, together with a large selection of naval aircraft on deck. Again, lots of photos were taken. Incidentally, I'll get round to posting holiday photos as soon as I can, but I do have an awful lot to sift through.

After the Midway I wandered further up the bay to the Maritime Museum, where they have a selection of sailing ships (including the Star of India), boats and of particular interest to me, a Soviet submarine, the B-39. I found the sub virtually empty. No museum staff are onboard and people of a certain size can't navigate through the sub, so I was on my own most of the time. Conditions must have been horrendous for the submariners who lived and worked on B-39 for its 27-year service life. It was bad enough docked, but out at see with dodgy, diesel-soaked air and all the noise it must have been hellish.

Walked around a bit more, had a nosey at a clearly expensive yacht and had a great lasagne lunch at a restaurant called Petrini's. Headed off to Horton Plaza, the world's most infuriating shopping mall thanks to its deliberately confusing layout. Tried in vain to find a bookshop. Headed back to the hotel, knackered. Made the mistake of ordering more vile food, which I left most of before passing out.

Friday, 9th October
Woke up slightly less early, skipped pisspoor hotel breakfast and headed to San Diego in the hotel's courtesy taxi van.

San Diego zoo is vast. It took me most of the day to get around on my own and I tend to walk with a purpose, rather than take things leisurely, so I have no idea how families with children or old people could manage it. From a technical point of view, the zoo is impressive. The animal habitats have clearly received a lot of thought and money. The downside to this is that the animals themselves often get lost in those habitats, which leads all too often to apparently empty enclosures. I do appreciate it's a delicate balancing act. If you're going to hold animals in captivity you need to give them good environments to live in and a degree of privacy, but you also need to offer something to the visitors who pay for it all. Most disappointing was the complete absence of tigers, a bit of a flaw in a 'tiger trail'. Still, I got to see pandas and that's what I had most wanted to do.

Walked back to the hotel from the zoo via Balboa Park, home to museums and some superb architecture. After a rest I headed out for dinner - lasagne at Petrini's again!

Saturday, 10th October
Checked out of the Holiday Inn and took a cab to my next hotel, the Best Western Blue Sea Lodge at Pacific Beach ("PB"). As it was early I just dumped my case and got straight back in the same cab, this time to go to Point Loma where I spent most of the day doing personal stuff.

Later in the afternoon I returned to the hotel to check-in properly. The room was excellent. OK, so the accomodation was pretty basic, but it was clean and best of all, it was an ocean view room and I could literally climb over the rail on my terrace and be just a couple of metres from the boardwalk and the beach. It was great to sit there and watch the world go by. It was doing this that I came to the conclusion that there really are no blondes quite like California blondes. The sunset was beautiful. Of all the places I visited on my holiday, this was perhaps my favourite spot.

Take-out pizza for dinner, then bed.

Sunday, 11th October
Up early and off to church! Specifically, the 8am service at The Rock, Carrie Prejean's church. I had rang ahead a couple of days earlier and made contact with a woman called Sylvia who works in their 'care and concern' department and we arranged to meet up after the service.

The Rock is an evangelical megachurch, with several thousand people attending each of the five Sunday services. Contrary to British perceptions of such churches, this isn't a place where people start speaking in tongues, get up from their wheelchairs or pass out with the force of the Lord. Sure, it starts with a 20 minute set from a singer and band (on this occasion Brenton Brown) but they're actually pretty damn good, but after that it's a pretty much just Pastor Miles mcPherson and his sermon. The idea is to strip away as much as possible that may stand between the bible and the people. There's no ritual, save for the obligatory prayers. It's all about the message.

McPherson himself is an impressive guy. An ex-NFL player, he's an engaging, humorous, and down-to-earth pastor and, dare I say, a little Obama-esque. After the service, I met up with Sylvia and she took me to his office. His security guy (he does have a security team due to threats) said we would "have five minutes max", but as it turned out I was in there twenty minutes as I told him my story of how reading about Carrie Prejean had ultimately brought me to his church. We prayed, I converted...

Now clearly this was a big step. I may go into this in greater detail in the future. For now, I would say that ever since Carrie Prejean came to my attention I've felt drawn to Christianity. Not because she's a christian, that would be stupid, but because she sparked something within that started me off on a process of self-examination. Truth be told, before Carrie came along I had been having issues with Noachidism, most notably how it severely limits the ways in which one can worship. For a while, I did fight against this 'christian drift', and really tried to hang on to my Noachidism, but ultimately conversion just felt right. In fact it didn't feel like a change in direction at all, but rather a progression along a path to God that I was set along by my deeply beloved Jewish queen, Tzipora. I may now be a christian, but Torah will forever be the heart of my faith.

Afterwards I ventured outside where The Rock's 'Do Something' fair was taking place. 75 stalls representing all the various ministries were set up along the street, encouraging people to put their faith into action. I met up with the Adult Entertainment ministry, otherwise known as JC's Girls. They engage with local sex workers, strippers etc, paying them for their time and just offering a friendly ear, free beauty products and ministering as and when appropriate. Carrie Prejean is involved with JC's Girls and many of those in the ministry are former sex workers themselves. I also spent some time talking to some guys from the same-sex attraction ministry, the hiking ministry and sat down for while telling my story to Anita, a writer with The Rock who will put it on their website in the near future.

On leaving The Rock I headed back to the hotel and spent some time on the beach before exploring parts of PB away from the ocean front. It's mainly bars, restaurants and surf shops, but that's no bad thing. Together with the relaxed vibe around the place, it makes for the perfect place to do little but relax. Would have liked a bookshop though... Dinner was a disappointing 'gourmet' hotdog at Hooters, served to me by a girl who seemed embarassed to have to present me with the dreary delight.

Monday, 12th October
Spent much of the day at SeaWorld. Saw one of the Shamu shows, not the big 'Believe' one but the low-key one where they show you how they train the whales. All very impressive. Was struck by the close bond the whales have with their handlers. From the moment they're born, the whale is with the same handler for life, which must be a tremendous commitment for the handler, but undoubtedly rewarding.

Also spent some time at the 'Dolphin Experience', where you spend $175 to spend 30-40 minutes in a wetsuit with a dolphin and its handler. Had it not been sold out I would have paid my money and took part myself, but it's definitely something I'll do next time. They also have two white beluga dolphins and you can do much the same thing with those too, which I would really like to do as there's nowhere else on earth that you can interact with belugas.

That evening I went out to dinner with Tom from The Rock's same-sex attraction ministry. We ate at a Brazilian restaurant in downtown San Diego which starts out with an all-you-can-eat buffet followed by SIXTEEN courses of meat. Afterwards, I never wanted to see meat again.

Tuesday, 13th October.
Up early and time to leave PB. I could easily have stayed there for the rest of my holiday, but the bright lights of Vegas called, so it was off to the airport.

A few hours later I was at the Luxor. I had arrived a bit early so was old I could either take a room on the second floor, or kill a couple of hours until the maid service had made one ready on the 24th. I opted for the latter. I grabbed a quick lunch at McDonalds, where I noticed how salty the fries were compared to in the UK. Really showed how we've been weaned off salt in recent years.

Can't remember how I filled the rest of my time before checking in, but it passed speedily enough and I was back at the desk to check in properly. At this point I should mention that the staff on the front desk at the Luxor are miserable, unhelpful and, I think, just a little stuck-up. Of all the hotels I stayed at, the staff here were the least likely to say 'have a nice day'. I doubt they even knew what a nice day was. On the other hand, the room was good. It was actually more of a suite, comprising bedroom (with jacuzzi looking out over the south strip), sitting room and bath/wetroom. The lack of wi-fi annoyed me though and the internet TV service was expensive and unusable, though I did persuade the joyless front desk to credit me for it.

I spent the evening at the Las Vegas Lounge, a bar where the men are men and the women are transsexual prostitutes. Really. It sounds worse than it is though. Sure it's a bit of a dive, but the people were nice - lots of regulars who knew eachother by name, that kind of place. The girls were pretty hot too (but no, I didn't succumb to temptation!). Spent a lot of time talking to Mary-Belle and Princess Jasmine, two latina transsexuals, the former gave me a good massage, the latter modelled herself on Christina Aguilera and was hitting me up for dollar bills for the jukebox. A woman called Babs told me stories of her escorting adventures in the UK. Randomly, I found myself talking to another Dan, a huge guy like Jerry from ER with an interest in British brass bands, most notably the Grimethorpe Colliery band. I headed back to the Luxor in the small hours.

Wednesday, 14th October
Got up and booked a ticket to see the Fantasy show that night at the Luxor. Topless dancers led by a singing Angelica Bridges. Huzzah! Visited the Titanic exhibition, which was pretty interesting and - shock! - educational. They have a huge chunk of the hull in there which I would challenge anyone not to be impressed by. I wandered down to the Mandalay Bay for lunch, a terrfic chinese of spring rolls and chicken chow mein. Spent the afternoon in the casino at the Luxor, but somehow managed to gamble just $17 on slot machines. It's amazing how far that can get you.

Spent some time in the bars of the Luxor and the Mandalay bay before getting changed and heading down to Fantasy. Much to my disappointment, Angelica Bridges was ill or something, so they had to draft in a replacement. Her name was something like Nikki Lynn, an Anastasia-type blonde who was actually pretty good. She even managed to do a decent job of a Portishead track! Halfway through the show, a comedian appears doing impressions of James Brown, Sammy Davis Jr and Michael Jackson. Not the kind of thing you expect in a show full of semi-naked dancers. Admittedly he was funny, but some advance warning would have been nice. Overall, the show was OK, but it has to be said that while the girls had good bodies, they weren't really that attractive. Apparently that's an issue in Vegas. All the hottest girls head for LA. The show ran over and I had arranged to meet a friend, Venus, so I was itching for it to finish.

Eventually, we were let out and I met Venus outside at about 11pm. We headed to the Las Vegas Lounge again as she was keen to check it out. We chatted for a couple of hours then she dropped me back at the hotel.

Thursday, 15th October
Whistle-stop Vegas visit over, it was off to the airport again to catch a flight to San Francisco. The check-in machine offered me an upgrade to first class, which I took even though it was just a short flight. Turns out that United Airlines first class is more akin to, say, BA premium economy but without the in-flight entertainment. Sat next to a guy who travels the world selling tabasco sauce.

My friend Theo, who is currently working in the Bay area, met me at the airport and dropped me off at my hotel, the Handlery on Geary Street, a few steps away from Union Square. I was given a free upgrade to a room overlooking the street. The room itself wasn't anything special, a bit dated in it's decor and quite small, but it did the job and was quite cheap for the location.

I stepped outside to find metal barriers along the side of the pavement. Turned out that President Obama was due to give an address at the Westin hotel across the street. I spent a while talking to a guy called Mark, who was on a day off and thought he would hang around to see the motorcade. After a while, the SFPD made us go into the hotel and closed off the street. I told Mark he could watch from my hotel room and that's where we spent the next FIVE HOURS, imprisoned by the President. Just as well that we got along or it could have been awful! The President's motorcade eventually turned up, the middle section sweeping into the hotel as the rest turned around in the street. I caught it on my camera and will post a video in due course.

After the President left (only to check in at the Intercontinental, where Theo was staying, causing all kinds of hassle) we were liberated and I ordered dinner from room service, can't remember what. I had actually arranged to meet another friend that evening, but had to cancel because I couldn't leave the hotel. This was disappointing because she had to fly out to Hawaii the following morning :/

Friday, 16th October
Up early and embarked on a long walk from the hotel, up Nob Hill, down through Chinatown to Fisherman's Wharf, then across the north shore to the Golden Gate bridge. Unlike downtown San Francisco, which is plagued by beggars and the homeless, the north shore area is lovely, with nice little beaches and great views. Took loads of photos of the bridge and walked across it to Marin County. Was going to walk back across too but was so tired that I got the tour bus back, which handily dropped me quite literally outside my hotel.

Couldn't meet up to Theo as he had to work so I went to Borders (yay, a bookshop!) and picked up novels by Harlan Coben and Vince Flynn, plus some magazines. Back at the hotel I ordered quite nice - but expensive - steak for dinner then spent the rest of the evening reading.

Saturday, 17th October
Spent the day with Theo. First-off we sailed over to Alcatraz, ticking another box on the tourist checklist. It's quite interesting, but there are large areas of the island you can't access including a huge building, the contents of which remain a mystery. Spectacular views of San Francisco from the island though and it has one of the better gift shops I encountered on my travels.

We arrived back on the mainland and headed to the Intercontinental to pick up Theo's car and drive down to Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz is a chilled-out beach town favoured by aging baby-boomers, greying hippies, students and surfers. The smell of weed is never far away... We called in on a friend of Theo, a cool Canadian guy, then went to a restaurant for dinner. By this time it was dark, but we headed to the beach anyway, where I promptly fell flat on my face in the sand. Would like to see it in daylight.

Sunday, 18th October
It's not every day that you're woken up by 20,000 women, but today was one of those days. It was the Nike women's marathon and at 6.45am, the street outside was full of women waiting for the start of the race and the inexplicably early time of 7am. There were dozens of portaloos lined-up on Geary Street. At 7am, the race started to much screaming and within 15 minutes everyone had vanished.

I got up and pottered around a bit before heading to the AMC to see Law Abiding Citizen, starring my favourite actress, Leslie Bibb. Not a bad film, but not great either. Leslie raised it to a higher level. Interesting to see how many TV shows were advertised before the film started. After that I took a walk around downtown taking photos before heading to an arthouse cinema at the Embarcadero Center for my second film of the day, the Coen Bros' A Serious Man, which is both very good and perhaps the most Jewish film ever made. I then headed back to the hotel taking more photos along the way.

That evening I met up with an acquaintance, Eva, for a drink. An absolutely fascinating (and beautiful) woman who turned her back on a career as a high fashion model fronting campaigns for the likes of Faberge and starring in music videos for Garbage and Marilyn Manson to become an embalmer and restorative artist. Seriously.

Monday, 19th October
Spent most of the day travelling from San Francisco to Los Angeles. My flight was delayed by a couple of hours, so I sat at the gate reading The Economist. Upgraded to 'first class' again. Eventually got to my hotel, the Holiday Inn at Santa Monica pier, at sunset. I dumped my bags and headed straight over to the beach, watched the amazing sunset and then returned to the hotel where I pretty much slept right through to the next morning.

Tuesday, 20th October
Up early (again) and off to downtown LA for sightseeing and to meet a friend (after breakfast across from the hotel at McDonalds while reading the LA Times). I hadn't really planned this stage of the holiday very well and probably should have headed to Hollywood or Beverly Hills instead, but never mind. The bus to downtown cost next to nothing and was fairly rapid. I wandered around for a few hours taking photos before meeting my friend (and her two San Diegan stoner mates) and having a burrito for lunch. The burrito, it has to be said, must rank as one of mankind's more disgusting culinary creations.

After a while I headed off to get the bus back and met a lovely girl called Sabrina at the bus stop who I chatted with all the way back to Santa Monica. Her sister lives over here in Birmingham, apparently. After a rest I took a walk out into Santa Monica, which is centered on the nearby Third Street Promenade, a shopping, eating and drinking thoroughfare which also attracts bands/buskers, small craft stalls and the like. Close by is the Britannia, a 'British pub'. I decided to try dinner there and had a most enjoyable steak and ale (-free) pie with mashed potatoes, carrots, peas and gravy. It was the best meal I had had in ages. The guy who served me was an Italian-American Dick Van Dyke... I sat at the bar, chatted to a few people and watched that quintessentially British sport, baseball on the many HD screens around the place. It was kind of hard to see exactly why it was a British pub, aside from the occasional touch like a Stoke City flag on the ceiling, but it was a nice place all the same, friendly and not too crowded.

Wednesday, 21st October
Breakfast at McDonalds again, then a walk through Santa Monica and a massage from a woman who looked like Sarah Jessica Parker. Best. Massage. Ever. It was punishing while it was happening, but afterwards I felt like she'd beaten years of tension out of my body.

I wandered back to the hotel stopping to pick up a pressie for the dog at a pet shop for dogs and buying a book on stock trading and a magazine at Borders. Dropping these off I went down to the beach for a while and explored the pier before heading over to the Britannia again for steak and ale (-free) pie and more baseball. Met a TV producer (who shall remain nameless) who told me the host of the show he works on was "the nicest guy you could ever meet, but a fucking idiot". Incidentally, there's another 'British pub' nearby called Ye Olde Kings Headde or something, which looks massively naff. Even has a gift shop selling Union Flag mugs, etc. Sure, the Britannia is a rather un-British British pub, but at least it's honest.

Thursday, 22nd October
My last full day in the US was spent, for the most part, in the company of another acquaintance, Soma, a beautiful red-haired model and performer and possibly one of the most amazing women I've ever met. We hung out and had lunch at a Japanese restaurant, a first for me. Totally failed the chopstick trial. Happily tired by the end of the day, I eschewed the Britannia and just had a Big Mac meal instead and reflected on the holiday.

Friday, 23rd October
Got up and took one last walk along the beach and one last McDonalds breakfast with the LA Times. Had a bath and waited for the limo I had booked to take me to the airport - one final extravagance. Got there stupidly early for the flight, but that was really dictated by the check-out time at the hotel. Spent some time in the OneWorld lounge at the airport drinking Canada Dry and making use of the free internet access. Next thing I knew I was on the plane home. Tried in vain to sleep, spending most of my time lying in there in the dark or reading The Economist. Time flew by though, literally, and before I knew it...

Saturday, 24th October
...I was back in London. Caught the Heathrow Express to Paddington and worked my way over to St Pancras for my train back north. Got home just after 2pm, knackered. Slept for a couple of hours and felt a bit better. By the time the next day came around I was feeling pretty good and, to my pleasant surprise, didn't have any jet-lag at all.

Overall, it was a terrific holiday that broadened my mind in many ways. I'll definitely be going back as soon as possible, most keenly to Pacific Beach and to LA to see Soma again.

Sunday, 1st November
The final chapter in my holiday period was a trip down to London for the 24 Hour Plays Celebrity Gala at the Old Vic.

Caught the 9.14am train from Long Eaton, which should have got to Londona few hours later. That was bad enough, incorporating an engineering-inspired diversion via Corby, but things got really depressing when we were denied access to Corby by flooding, necessitating (an hour later) a reversal to Leicester, a coach to Kettering and another train to London. A journey that normally takes about 1 hour 35 minutes ended up taking about six hours. Good job I had nothing planned for the afternoon. On arrival, I nipped to Foyles for a book then M&S for some food before checking in to the hotel.

Ate, bathed and headed off to Waterloo to meet Georgina, my 'date' for the evening. Started out with a champagne reception at the Waterloo Brasserie, where I met a couple of people from Twitter, among other. Georgina's hair (black with red streaks) proved alarmingly popular with one young woman. We then headed over to the theatre for the main event. The 24 Hour Plays basically consist of a group of actors, writers and directors writing, rehearsing and performing six plays from scratch over 24 hours. The cast for the evening included Rafe Spall, Dominic West, Jason Isaacs (hello Jason Isaacs), Anna Chancellor, Art Malik, Ashley Walters, Stephen Mangan and Jane Asher among others. The evening was compered by Graham Norton on top form. The plays themselves were a little hit-and-miss, but no less entertaining for that. It was to be expected given the challenge involved.

Curtain down and we headed over to Buddha Bar for the 25th Hour, the after-show party. Met Jason Isaacs, Kevin Spacey's chauffeur and drank free champagne until I couldn't take any more bubbles...

Watched recently

Countdown: 4th November
Jeremy Baker - 78
Robert Brownlie - 75
Dan Brusca - 58

Prime Suspect - 3/5

Countdown: 5th November
Ryan Taylor - 97
Jeremy Baker - 76
Dan Brusca - 71
Spotted a couple of 8-letter words - SWEATING and RATIONED - and the conundrum, which nobody else seemed to get, IBUPROFEN.

The Shield: Riceburner - 4/5

FlashForward: Scary Monsters and Super Creeps - Sonya Walger is gooooorgeous - 3/5

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Watched yesterday

Countdown: 3rd November
Robert Brownlie - 112
Dan Brusca - 77
Ramesh Patel - 43
Spotted one 8-letter word, LOCATING, and a nine: LOTTERIES.

The Thick Of It: Episode 3.2 - 4/5

Popular: The Trial Of Emory Dick - 3/5

Vice Squad - 3/5

Have I Got A Bit More News For You - 4/5

House: Instant Karma - 4/5

Spiral: Episode 2.8 - good news Spiral fans, season 3 will be along next year! - 5/5

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Watched recently

Countdown: 28th October
Brian Selway - 87
Dan Brusca - 70
Nick Jones - 36

Knowing - 3/5

The X Factor - missed the Sunday night show as I was at the Old Vic, but seriously Britain, WTF are you doing voting out Rachel? She had the best voice in the whole line-up - 3/5

Friday Night With Jonathan Ross - 4/5

You've Been Framed! - this programme has really been reinvigorated since Harry Hill started doing the voiceover. References to Blazin' Squad and Trevor Nunn? Genius - 4/5

Countdown: 2nd November
Dan Brusca - 91
Robert Brownlie - 74
Gordon Vaughan - 59
Spotted three 8-letter words: MEANINGS, REFLOATS and COALESCE.

Peep Show: On The Pull - 4/5

Peep Show: Mark Makes A Friend - 3/5

Stargate Universe: Light - this show is really, really good - 5/5

Andrew Marr's The Making Of Modern Britain: A New Dawn - 4/5

Vice Squad: Episode 3 - 3/5

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Watched yesterday

Countdown: 30th October
Dan Brusca - 89
Gordon Vaughan - 85
John Dyer - 68
Got the coundrum: TOWELLING

The Palace: Episode 6 - 4/5

30 Rock: The One With The Cast Of Night Court - 4/5

Spiral: Episode 2.7 - 4/5

FlashForward: Give Me Some Truth - 4/5

Fringe: Momentum Deferred - 4/5

30 Rock: Gavin Volure - 4/5

Friday, 30 October 2009

The worst leaflet ever?

This arrived through my door this lunch time. I haven't made the copy. This actual piece of paper was shoved through my letterbox...

Watched yesterday

Countdown: 29th October
Dan Brusca - 74
John Dyer - 53
Tim Curtis - 40
Spotted one 8-letter word - DERATING - and the conundrum, INTENSELY.

The Thick Of It: Episode 3.1 - 4/5

NCIS Los Angeles: Identity - what a singularly uninspiring first episode for a new show. The only interest I got out of it was recognising locations from my recent visit to LA, most notably the aerial shot of Santa Monica Pier in the title sequence which shows the hotel I stayed at - 2/5

House: The Tyrant - James Earl Jones is pure class - 4/5

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Watched yesterday

House: Epic Fail - 4/5

FlashForward: Black Swan - 4/5

Spiral: Episode 2.6 - 5/5

Fringe: Fracture - 3/5

Stargate Universe: Darkness - 4/5

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Watched yesterday

Countdown: 27th October
Dan Brusca - 86
Brian Selway - 81
Len Parker - 59
Got the conundrum again: IMPLANTED.

Entourage: Give A Little Bit - 4/5

FlashForward: 137 Sekunden - better the thie first episodes - 4/5

Fringe: Night Of Desirable Objects - 3/5

Eastbound And Down: Chapter 3 - 3/5

Stargate Universe: Air, Part 3 - 4/5

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Watched yesterday

Countdown: 26th October
Brian Selway - 79
Dan Brusca - 58
Krishan Neelendra - 49
So good to see Rachel again and I got the conundrum: INGROWING.

30 Rock: Do-Over - 4/5

30 Rock: Believe In The Stars - 4/5

Micro Men - 4/5

Spiral: Episode 2.5 - 4/5

Monday, 26 October 2009

Watched yesterday

Things I watched immediately prior to, duing and after my holiday...

House: Broken, Parts 1 and 2 - 4/5

Spiral: Episode 2.4 - 4/5

Countdown: 5th October
Tony Leverton - 71
David Kurdynowski - 67
Dan Brusca - 54

Oz: Losing Your Appeal - 4/5

Fringe: A New Day In The Old Town - 4/5

FlashForward: White To Play - 3/5

Law Abiding Citizen - it's disgusting how hot Leslie Bibb is on a big screen - 3/5

A Serious Man - the new Coen Brothers film is a must-see for Jews everywhere! - 4/5

The X Factor - WTF Britain? How the hell can you kick out Miss Frank yet keep John and Edward, or that other 12-year old boy?

Have I Got A Bit More News For You - 5/5

Stargate Universe: Air, Parts 1 and 2 - a bit contrived (at least to thig SG newbie), but enjoyable enough and Robert Carlyle raises it to another level - 4/5

Eastbound And Down: Chapter 2 - 4/5

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Live from Pacific Beach

Just noticed that there's something screwy with the images on this blog. I can't really do anything about it at the moment as I'm on holiday and don't really want to spend any time picking my way through code! I'll deal with it when I get back.\

That said, as soon as I post this I bet the temptation to fiddle with the template will overwhelm me and I'll just make things worse. Ho-hum.

Anyway, having a great time here in the US. Went to a service at The Rock church in San Diego this morning, which is about as far removed from a typical CofE service as you can imagine.

Getting a little red too. Need better sunblock before I turn into a lobster.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Watched yesterday

House: Broken, Part 1 - so good, kicking it off with Radiohead's No Surprises was genius - 4/5

Spiral: Episode 2.4 - 4/5

Countdown: 5th October
Tony Leverton - 71
David Kurdynowski - 67
Dan Brusca - 54

Oz: Losing Your Appeal - 4/5

Fringe: A New Day In The Old Town - Fringe always has awesome pre-opening credits sequences - 4/5

FlashForward: White To Play - still not convinced I care much about this. Well, the story interests me, but the characters don't - 3/5

Monday, 5 October 2009

Watched yesterday

The Invention Of Lying - Jennifer Garner soooo hot - 3/5

You've Been Framed! - 5/5

The X Factor - only surprise was the guy with the little blond mohican. Cheryl clearly has no chance this year. I would say it's between Dannii and Simon. Only problem I have now is how to make enough space for it on the Sky+ box while I'm on holiday ^_^

The Office: Hot Girl - 3/5

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Watched recently

Question Time - David Starkey and Dambisa Moyo eleveated this week's proceedings above last week's yah-boo - 4/5

Countdown: 1st October
Anthony Pinnell - 84
Dan Brusca - 77
George Raison - 68
Spotted one 8-letter word, STARLING, and a 9-letter one, SEPARATES.

Countdown: 2nd October
Dan Brusca - 85
David Kurdynowski - 54
Anthony Pinnell - 48
Easy does it! Just one 8-letter word though, DEMOLISH. Appropriate!

The Office: Basketball - 4/5

Vertical City: Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur - with the most gut-churning window-cleaning rig seen so far - 4/5

What Katie Did Next - 4/5

Eastbound and Down: Chapter 1 - 4/5

The X Factor - yay for Stacey from Dagenham! It's becoming clear that Cheryl doesn't have a hope in hell of winning this year though - 4/5

Entourage: Scared Straight - 4/5

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Watched yesterday

Countdown: 30th September
George Raison - 88
Dan Brusca - 86
Beverley Jones - 73
Spotted two 8-letter words, ECLIPSED and LARIATS.

The O.C: The Strip - 3/5

The Real Housewives Of New Jersey - 4/5

Dragons' Den On Tour - 4/5

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Watched yesterday

Countdown: 29th September
Dan Brusca - 86
George Raison - 62
Tricia Finn - 33
Spotted three 8-letter words - DRAGOONS, COLLARED, DEBONAIR - and the conundrum, IMPLOSION. Rachel Riley, as ever, looked amazing.

America's Next Top Model: Do You Like The Way I Look - not really connecting with any of the contestants this time round, though I do quite like googly-eyed Allison - 4/5

Las Vegas: Bait and Switch - 3/5

Numb3rs: Dirty Bomb - 3/5

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Watched yesterday

Countdown: 28th September
Dan Brusca - 78
Tricia Finn - 71
Jackie Dowdy - 28
8-letter words spotted: PROTEINS, POINTERS and MOISTEST.

Hotel Babylon: Episode 2.2 - 4/5

Dispatches: MPs, Planes and Gravy Trains - a bit thin, really - 2/5

FlashForward: No More Good Days - 3/5

Monday, 28 September 2009

Watched yesterday

Family Guy: Fifteen Minutes Of Shame - 3/5

From The Earth To The Moon: Spider - 5/5

The X Factor - 4/5

House: Both Sides Now - 4/5

Spiral: Episode 2.3 - 4/5

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Watched yesterday

Damages: Sort Of Like A Family - 4/5

The Tudors: Episode 3.8 - exeunt Cromwell, hacked to bits! - 5/5

The X Factor - liking Rachel Adedeji - 4/5

What Katie Did Next - 4/5

Entourage: Berried Alive - 4/5

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Watched yesterday

Countdown: 25th September
Dan Brusca - 72
Jeffrey Burgin - 66
Richard Moody - 42
Spotted just the one 8-letter word, REINVENT.

Dallas: Double Wedding - 3/5

Vertical City: Shanghai World Financial Center - 5/5

Vice Squad - 5/5

Derren Brown: How To Be A Psychic Spy - not so surprising that all those people drew concentric circles when the wall behind the stand was covered in concentric circles - 4/5

Friday, 25 September 2009

Watched yesterday

Countdown: 23rd September
Jeffrey Burgin - 88
Dan Brusca - 62
Martin Edwards - 47
Spotted three 8-letter words: PEASANTS, BARITONE and LOAMIEST.

Countdown: 24th September
Jeffrey Burgin - 87
Dan Brusca - 53
Laura Leach - 44
Spotted one 8-letter word, FLUNKIES, and the conundrum, CORRUPTLY.

The Real Housewives Of New Jersey: Black and White and Read All Over - why does Teresa have such a pointlessly huge house? Nothing wrong with a big house, but if you're going to have one, you need to make use of it. Her bedroom is one part bed, 19 parts empty floorspace. Ridiculous - 3/5

CSI:NY: Corporate Warriors - 3/5

Question Time - gave up on this halfway through because of the dismal standard of panellists' answers, recycling the same old crap about Downing Street influencing the Scottish government into releasing Al-Megrahi or po-faced calls for Baroness Scotland to lose her job because she didn't photocopy a piece of paper. Fraser Nelson, you've disappointed me. David Starkey on next week! - 2/5

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Watched yesterday

Countdown: 22nd September
Jeffrey Burgin - 69
Dan Brusca - 64
Mhairi Cameron - 63
Spotted two 8-letter words, INTRUDES and STAGIEST.

CSI Miami: Entrance Wound - 4/5

Spiral: Episode 2.2 - 4/5

Criminal Minds: The Fisher King, Part 2 - 2/5

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Watched yesterday

Countdown: 21st September
Dan Brusca - 102
Jeffrey Burgin - 91
Russell Langdown - 75
Spotted one 8-letter word, REDOUBTS, and a 9-letter one, TOLERATED. Special mention for Rachel, who looked amazing in her pink minidress ^_^

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation: Butterflied - 3/5

House: Under My Skin - 4/5

America's Next Top Model: Fun and Games - not sure I really care about it this time around... - 3/5

Monday, 21 September 2009

Watched yesterday

Alias: So It Begins - the one where Jennifer Garner wins THAT blue latex minidress. Pause, rewind, play, pause, rewind, play, pause, rewind, play... - 4/5

Bad Girls: Appearances Sake - 3/5

The X-Factor - Amie is looooovely - 4/5

Dragons' Den On Tour - 4/5

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Watched yesterday

The Wire: Margin Of Error - 4/5

Wire In The Blood: Nocebo - 3/5

The X-Factor - for no discernable reason I enjoyed this more than recent weeks. I think the menwill be strong contenders this year, largely because many of those who appear to be having success are men, with strong voices, not streak of piss boys - 4/5

The X-Files: Revelations - 3/5

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Watched yesterday

Countdown: 18th September
Jeffrey Burgin - 88
Darren Carter - 86
Dan Brusca - 62

The West Wing: Pilot - yup, back to the beginning again! - 4/5

Spiral: Episode 2.1 - 4/5

Vertical City: Taipei 101 - 4/5

Derren Brown: How To Control The Nation - 4/5

The Tudors: Episode 3.7 - if Anne of Cleves looked anything like Joss Stone then Henry was a bit harsh on her. Joss Stone was actually a pretty good actress in this, though she didn't have to do much. Could have been much, much worse. She's a dead ringer for Maggie Grace too - 4/5

Entourage: Security Briefs - 4/5

Friday, 18 September 2009

Watched yesterday

Countdown: 17th September
Jeffrey Burgin - 68
Phil Reed - 63
Dan Brusca - 52
Spotted a couple of 8-letter words that neither the contestants or Susie got - ARROGATE and PARTICLE.

Wainwright Walks: Haystacks - 4/5

The Real Housewives Of New Jersey: Not One Of Us - 3/5

What Katie Did Next - 4/5

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Watched yesterday

Countdown: 16th September
Jeffrey Burgin - 91
Bob De Caux - 79
Dan Brusca - 51
A wholly unimpressive performance.

The Vice: Betrayed, Part 1 - 3/5

The Tudors: Episode 3.6 - 4/5

America's Toughest Prisons: Sex Offenders - 3/5

Daredevils: The Human Bird - 4/5

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Watched yesterday

Countdown: 14th September
Dan Brusca - 73
Bob De Caux - 68
Lorraine Brookfield - 54
Spotted two 8-letter words: MASSAGER and MOISTURE.

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Chain Of Command Part II - THERE! ARE! FOUR! LIGHTS! - 4/5

Thomas & Friends: Thomas's New Trucks - 3/5

Countdown: 15th September
Bob De Caux - 79
Dan Brusca - 74
Simon Porter - 41
Another two 8-letter words: MUSTIEST and PLEASANT.

America's Next Top Model: What Happens In Vegas - 3/5

House: House Divided - Anne Dudek is sooooo sexy :) - 4/5

Monday, 14 September 2009

Watched yesterday

Star Trek: The Man Trap - 3/5

Vantage Point - 3/5

The Inbetweeners: Road Trip - somewhat annoyed that I seem to have missed episode two of this given it was on Sky+ series link - 4/5

Dragons' Den On Tour - 4/5

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Watched yesterday

The Shield: Strays - 4/5

The Sopranos: Pilot - 3/5

The X-Factor - gosh, this new format is getting really, REALLY tedious - 2/5

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Watched yesterday

Countdown: 11th September
Dan Brusca - 83
Bon De Caux - 76
Alex Richards - 54
Finally, my first win in months, helped along by SOLENOID.

The Love Of Money: The Bank That Bust The World - interesting companion piece to The Last Days Of Lehman Brothers - 4/5

Derren Brown: The Events: How To Win The Lottery - for the first time ever, Derren brown has left me disappointed. His explanation for how he appeared to predict Wednesday's Lotto numbers was utterly unconvincing and this show itself was incredibly tedious from the moment you saw what road he was going down - 2/5

Friday, 11 September 2009

Watched yesterday

Countdown: 9th September
Bob De Caux - 79
Ken Mackenzie - 70
Dan Brusca - 71
Spotted one 8-letter word, HORNIEST.

Peep Show: The Interview - 5/5

The Real Housewives Of New Jersey - I love Dina, she's so... dominant! - 3/5

The Last Days Of Lehman Brothers - 4/5

Countdown: 10th September
Bob De Caux - 72
Dan Brusca - 61
Christopher Harris - 45
Spotted SMOKIEST, INNOCENT and the conundrum, HARVESTED.

Popular: Ex, Lies And Videotape - 3/5

Vertical City: 1180 Peachtree, Atlanta

Shooting Stars - 3/5

What Katie Did Next - don't like that new fella. Seems like a bit of a meathead - 3/5

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

How Derren did it. Maybe.

[UPDATE: 12th September - James Poel has a good analysis of how Brown pulled this off. You can read it here. His explanation for the shaky camera is far more convincing than mine, but I'm not far off at all really.]

Anyone watching Channel 4, E4, More4 or Film4 at 10.35 this evening will have witnessed Derren Brown appear to predict the numbers in tonight's Lotto draw.

He walked into the studio being tracked by a cameraman. On the left of the 'set' was a clear perspex stand on top of which were six white balls, supposedly representing Brown's predictions. The numbers were on the opposite side of the balls to the camera so we couldn't see them.

Brown talked for a while then, on cue from a crew member, turned on the TV to show the live Lotto draw on BBC One. Once the balls had been drawn and displayed in numerical order, he wrote these onto a length of card and walked over to the stand, turning it around to reveal that his predicted numbers matched those drawn.

I think that Brown pulled this off with camera trickery. As he walks into the studio he makes a point of saying that there only himself and two cameramen (not cameras) in there. He waves to the second camera, which is off to the side of the studio and further back. We don't see any more shots from this second camera.

My theory is that during this cut to the second camera, the first camera, through which we believe we are seeing the draw, is taken away and we actually watch via a third camera. I think this camera is motorized so as to mimic the subtle movements of the first, hand-held camera.

The movements are also pre-programmed so that the stand with the numbers on could have been pre-recorded, then seemlessly laid over the live broadcast in-sync, even though the camera appeared to be moving throughout. This would allow someone to place the correct balls on the stand as the draw took place then the pre-recorded overlay was removed so that Brown could walk back to the stand for the big reveal.

There is one big problem with this theory though in that at one point prior to the draw Brown walks behind the stand, then in front of it, meaning that a straight overlaying of the pre-recorded and live images wouldn't be possible. However I'm sure there's a way around that, even though off the top of my head I can't think what it would be.

Of course, all of the above could be complete nonsense. Brown reveals how he did it on Channel 4 on Friday.

Watched yesterday

Countdown: 7th September
Chris Davies - 103
Marcus Bearpark - 42
Dan Brusca - 41
Spotted one 8-letter word, PROUDEST.

Oz: Great Men - 4/5

Warship: Episode 2.2 - 3/5

Countdown: 8th September
Chris Davies - 98
Dan Brusca - 53
John Smoker - 41
Davies becomes an octochamp, I make do with FAINTEST.

America's Toughest Prisons: Surviving Stateville - 4/5

The Palace: Episode 5 - 3/5

Monday, 7 September 2009

Thought for the day

There are only two paths to G-d's house: the Jewish one and the Noachide one. Neither is easy, but both are clearly marked.

Many people try to take shortcuts across the fields to reach His door, but they should not be surprised if He does not let them in for the mud they have gathered on their shoes!

Watched yesterday

Sarah Silverman: Jesus Is Magic - this was the edited TV version, running at about 50 minutes, as opposed to the 72-minute cinematic release - 4/5

Dragons' Den: On Tour - 4/5

House: Saviors - 4/5

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Watched yesterday

The Tudors: Episode 3.5 - 4/5

The X Factor - it's just not as good in this format. Way too obvious who's going to get passed through to boot camp. Also, in the old format some of the not-so-good acts did get through to boot camp for the entertainment value, but that seems to have been excised now - 3/5

The Cube - 4/5

The Inbetweeners: Episode 1.1 - 4/5

Coast: Rosyth To Hull - the sequence about the painting of women dragging a lifeboat along the shoreline felt like it went on for six hours - 3/5

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Watched recently

Shooting Stars - 4/5

The Real Housewives Of New Jersey: Thicker Than Water - yay for a new guilty pleasure! - 4/5

Skins - 4/5

Countdown: 4th September
Chris Davies - 121
Jonathan Seal - 57
Dan Brusca - 45
Dismal performance, going six consecutive rounds without a point. Spotted two 8-leter words though - RIVULETS and CALORIES.

Entourage: The Sorkin Notes - 5/5

Big Brother: Day 92 and Final - natural justice is served, Sophie wins! Interesting choice of words from Davina near the end:

If you want to take part in next year's Big Brother, it's the last on Channel 4...

Big Brother's Big Mouth - never watched this with Davina hosting and I'm thinking maybe I should have because potty-mouth Davina is wonderfully entertaining - 4/5

Friday, 4 September 2009

Watched yesterday

Countdown: 3rd September
Chris Davies - 139
Ross Mackenzie - 89
Dan Brusca - 71
Davies achieved the second-highest score in Countdown history. A very high-scoring game overall. I myself spotted three 8-letter words - SALTIEST, CANNIEST and MARDIEST - and one 9-letter word, HERALDING.

Dragons' Den - 4/5

Big Brother: Day 90 - 4/5

Big Brother: Day 91 - 3/5

What Katie Did Next - 4/5

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Watched recently

Inglorious Basterds - too long, but there's enough good stuff going on to make that a quibble rather than a criticism - 4/5

Frozen River - well-acted and admirable in many ways, but really very slow - 3/5

Telstar - great supporting performance from Kevin Spacey - 3/5

Mesrine: Public Enemy No. 1 - 4/5

Countdown: 3rd September
Chris Davies - 97
Dan Brusca - 56
Michael Jocelyn - 35
Got the conundrum: SYMBIOSIS. Rachel looked mighty fine in her tight little minidress and heels :)

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

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Watched yesterday

Countdown: 2nd September
Chris Davies - 110
Dan Brusca - 58
Julie Lane - 35
Underwhelming, but it didn't help that I had tootache.

Big Brother: Days 88 and 89 - Sophie to win, she's the odds-on favourite! - 4/5

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Watched yesterday

Countdown: 31st August
I've lost my score record for this, but I came third with a pretty poor performance. Remember getting one 8-letter word though - PRIVATES - and the conundrum, UNINSURED.

Skins - 4/5

You've Been Framed! - 4/5

Warship: Episode 2.1 - 4/5

Monday, 31 August 2009

Watched recently

The X Factor - Miss Fitz and Jamie Afro were pretty good - 4/5

The Cube - 4/5

Big Brother: Days 86 and 87 - 3/5

Benefit Busters - that Sherrelle girl had great lips - 4/5

The Tudors: Episodes 3.3 and 3.4 - 4/5

House: Simple Explanation - 4/5

Entourage: No More Drama - 4/5

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Watched recently

Countdown: 27th August
Ed Rossiter - 83
Dan Brusca - 77
Yvette Reeves - 67
Got the conundrum - TERRIFIED.

Big Brother: Day 83 - 4/5

The Dave Fanning Interview ...With Radiohead - 4/5

Vertical City: Moscow - 4/5

What Katie Did Next - 4/5

Countdown: 28th August
Chris Davies - 90
Ed Rossiter - 73
Dan Brusca - 68
Ed Rossiter was clearly not happy to have lost. He looked like a character from a Danny Dyer movie! Spotted the conundrum - DIFFUSION - and an 8-letter word, REASONED.

Shooting Stars - 4/5

Big Brother: Day 84 - 3/5

Big Brother: Day 85 - Marcus evicted, which is a shame. He was probably the greatest housemate ever, as Grace Dent suggested on the eviction show. There's only one winner for me now: Sophie - 4/5

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Watched yesterday

Countdown: 26th August
Ed Rossiter - 93
Adam Haward - 77
Dan Brusca - 73
One 8-letter word spotted, BROADEST. As with yesterday, got the counundrum but was just beaten to it - LICQOURICE.

Wainwright Walks: Coast To Coast: The End Of The Road - 4/5

Dragons' Den - 4/5

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Watched yesterday

Countdown: 25th August
Ed Rossiter - 105
Paul Varlaam - 67
Dan Brusca - 52
Countdown returns from its summer break, though I'm a day late as Sky+ didn't pick it up and Channel 4 don't repeat it anymore. Oh well. Felt a bit rusty, hence the poor score, but still pulled out two 8-letter words - BASTARDS and SHORTIES - and the conundrum, though Rossiter just beat me to it: DESCRIBED.

Coast: Norway: Lillesand To Svalbard - pretty spectacular scenery, maybe a place to visit next summer - 4/5

Big Brother: Day 81 - 3/5

Big Brother: Day 82 - 4/5

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Watched recently

True Blood: The First Date - 3/5

True Blood: Mine - not sure I'm going to stick with this. I can't say I care about any of the characters and, to be honest, it can be a little dull - 3/5

Jam & Jerusalem: Episodes 3.5 and 3.6 - 3/5

Rivers With Griff Rhys Jones: East - 4/5

Big Brother: Day 80 - 4/5

House: Locked-In - 4/5

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Watched yesterday

The Tudors: Episodes 3.1 and 3.2 - 4/5

Wainwright Walks: Coast To Coast: Mowbray And The Moors - 4/5

The X Factor - actually a little disappointed by this first batch of auditions. There were some good singers of course, notably for me Danyl (who must be red-hot favourite already) and Stacey from Dagenham, but the transfer to an arena format has made the show a bit unwieldy and it felt like a bit of a drudge. Cheryl Cole is as lovely as ever though - 3/5

The Cube - this is better, a new ITV gameshow that's actually worth watching. In many ways the style feels like a hybrid of WWTBAM? and Deal Or No Deal, combining the studio setting and production of the former with the relaxed presentation style and cod-psychology of the latter. Add in the various challenges and likeable contestants and it's a compeling 45 minutes of television, even if it probably takes them half a day to record it - 4/5

Big Brother: Day 79 - classic diary room from Marcus. At this point I've decided that I want either him or the impossibly endearing Sophie to win. As it happens, they're 5/2 joint favourites at the moment, though some bookies have Sophie just edging it - 4/5

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Links of the day

Gosh, it seems like forever since I last posted any links. I won't apologise though, I've been busy!

Talk Of The Tyne speculates on Sol Campbell joining Notts County.

The Star News speculates on Carrie Prejean being lined up for Celebrity Apprentice. She's keen, apparently. I'm not so sure because she'll only bring more abuse upon herself, but then again the fact she stands up to all of that is one reason why I like her so much so if she does do it, then good luck to her!

[UPDATE: other reports say that Carrie isn't doing this due to scheduling conflicts.]

The LA Times reports on, err, hard times for the US porn industry.

Tim Montgomerie looks at what the Conservatives have achieved in twelve years of opposition.

Steve Rothaus Looks ahead to today's DtD Exchange '09 conference in Florida, which Carrie Prejean will be addressing.

Got a link you think I might find interesting? Tweet @danbrusca or drop me an email.