Saturday, December 24, 2005

Happy Christmas!

My last post for a few weeks, since I'll be splitting my time between Bromsgrove and Harrow over this holiday period. Have a great Christmas, and let's hope the human race gets through 2006!

Bon Nöel.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

John Spencer: 1946-2005

A sad time for fans of The West Wing - and I count myself as one of them, if only during the first 4 series. John Spencer, who played Leo McGarry - Bartlett's Chief of Staff, and more recently the Democratic VP - died of a heart attack yesterday. It's sad for many reasons; firstly because Spencer was an accomplished actor who appeared on the small and big screen (from LA Law to The Rock), secondly because the similarities between Spencer and his character were acute - both were recovering alcoholics, and in series 6 of The West Wing McGarry suffered a heart attack and survived - and thirdly because John Spencer was the only thing worth watching during these later, tepid years of the show. Whether it was the embarrassed smile or the casual shuffle of a walk, his mannerisms made Leo a human figure in a show that had seemed to have more and more actors simply sleepwalking through their roles as it progressed. I hope the writers do his character the courtesy he deserves and give Leo (and John) a fitting send off over the coming weeks.

It's been over a month since my last entry...time flies, eh? I finish work on Monday until Jan 3rd. It's going to be a hectic Christmas period. I'm at Lou and James's 24th - 27th, then on the 28th I have the Bushido Turkey Burn-off where I'll most likely pass out from 2 hours of solid “exercise” (read: Hell on earth), then I'm at Gilly's from the 29th to the 2nd for New Year.

TV:- I'm on to series 3 of Everwood, a series that is becoming more and more like a comfort blanket - something to slip into when you just want to chill out and let a small town wash over you.

West Wing seems to have hit the "mundane" button on the keyboard. Series 4 is where this show should have ended. Familiarity with the characters, a will to see it out to the end and now the unhappy loss of Leo is the only thing that's keeping me watching.

Commander in Chief is still finding its feet, whilst Bones feels a little ancient now, even with all the high tech and improbable gizmos on display. The real surprise is Alias which just kicked into an unexpected plot twist in its final series. I doubt much of the Rambaldi plot will be explained but at least it will go out on a high. Hopefully. Joey has been put on hiatus until March, and since the recent episodes have been pretty lackluster, I can’t see it staying for a 3rd series. Lost had a slow start but is finally kicking into a decent plotline. Unfortunately, I’ll have forgotten what it is by the time the Christmas period is over. Thank goodness for recaps, eh?

I finally completed The Longest Journey and am now working through Syberia 2. Gilly’s already completed it, but then that’s because she cheats and looks at online solutions. Pah. Some people have no willpower.

I’ve started studying Zen philosophy (not to be confused with Zen Buddhism, which has a more religious aspect). I’m currently reading “Nothing Special – Living Zen” by Charlotte Joko Beck. She has an interest take on life, but as any Zen philosopher would tell you, Zen can’t be learned by reading a book – all it will do is give you some background to the general concept. But if you’re interested, it’s well worth a read. It ties in well to the philosophy I’ve also started looking at in Bushido.

All my Christmas presents are bought, all the wine and chocolates are ready to go, and I have one more day left at work. I beat Nadeem 5-4 at table tennis today, which surprised me since I haven’t picked up a bat for 6 months, and he’s something of a regular. Henbury Leisure Centre is new, and the paint fumes were starting to get to me after an hour, not an experience I’ll be repeating weekly, but a rematch is in order in January.

On Tuesday it’s the Christmas do of the people that run our offices, they invite all the resident buildings down to the main office for wine and a buffet. I’ll be heading in for that despite my holiday, firstly because I wouldn’t dream of turning down free wine and secondly because I’m lining up a 4 player game of LOTR Risk straight after in our office. Nadeem, Lucy and Mark are the other contenders, but I am determined that Middle Earth will be MINE. Mwahaha. Gilly’s pretty good at it too. I think she's a closet geek.

Last Friday we had the WHA Christmas do. We went 4x4 off-roading in Chew Magna which was great fun (link to photos to follow soon), and that was followed by a great meal at The Hunter’s Rest. It looks like a great place to stay for a quiet break too.