Sex and the Cities

I have been enjoying Channel 5’s nocturnal re-runs of Sex and The City on their Five * Channel. Candace Bushnell‘s smart chronicles are still as fresh as when first told in the 1990s.

It ended after a sixth series in 2004 – perhaps the characters wanted to move on and out of the city – and perhaps happily and married and in the suburbs and do enough of us want to watch conjugal bliss!? Undesperate Housewives …?  But its romantic tales broken or not are not limited in time or place and I feel this program could have continued on as a constant presence on our television…

We have had the two films but I think Sex and The City by its nature is episodic and television its natural medium.

Sex and The City was of course Sex and New York City – and rather like the CSI franchise which takes in New York, Miami and Las Vegas so too a Sex and The City Franchise? – and not just US cities but global ones too – London, Paris, Rio, Mumbai  – these dating tales don’t date – they are dateless to excuse the pun!

The places and characters change but the romantic tales of love found and lost and found again never does…


Feel the power – Solar power








Fashion designer Katharine Hamnett was on the BBC’s graveyard political show This Week first broadcast last week March 18 arguing against nuclear power in the wake of the Japan Fukushima Nuclear plant disaster and still potential meltdown – with host Andrew Neil studio regular Michael Portillo and Labour MP and current regular guest Jacqui Smith.

The case for it was reprised – energy security and reducing the carbon foot-print – not being over-dependent on Oil and the despotic regimes responsible for much of its output and being clean and green.

Naturally arguing against nuclear power or at least to pause and re-consider its safety and security before commissioning any new reactors the alternatives were considered – and the alternatives discussed were wind, carbon capture & storage of existing fossil fuels, finally tidal power,  but not solar power – it was listed in her preamble but not mentioned at all in the ensuing studio discussion.

Studio Discussion

I wondered about this – perhaps the science was still not advanced enough – or perhaps too expensive to be commercially viable.  I do not profess an expertise in this area and thought it was something I should explore further.

And what should arrive in my Inbox a few days later in the latest weekly Email from Scientific American but a guest blog article by Ramez Nam titled ‘Smaller, cheaper, faster: Does Moore’s law apply to solar cells?’.

You should read the article yourself as it will explain it far better than I ever could but its brief thrust is that solar power could provide not just some of all our energy needs – not even all our energy needs so much as beyond all our energy needs!  We would be overwhelmed by the surplus it could produce. And the science is there and commercially it is getting ever  cheaper ever more viable – if not viable just yet – a decade or so over the horizon perhaps.

And in respect of the energy production and consumption cycle so much greener and safer – no terrifying radioactive waste produced needing to be stored for millennia thereafter. And no nation would or could have a monopoly on it.

Why then is solar power so overlooked and why are so many countries continuing to go nuclear?  I am not going to ask why governments and political parties are not able to look beyond the horizon of the next election cycle – I am not that naive! – but cannot but wonder that had a solar bomb been developed in the last century as part of the Manhattan Project rather than a nuclear one that solar energy would now be in all our homes.

War leading science, the proverbial tail wagging the dog.

Charlie is Dead, Long Live Charly!

I have recently been watching the first TV series of Charlie’s Angels from 1976 downloaded an episode at a time to my Apple TV – how would they live it up to my adolescent memory of them?

Those motives for watching Charlie’s Angels were not sophisticated!  – three beautiful women and I loved the blond ones the most – first Farrah Fawcett then Cheryl Ladd – because they were blond – shame on me! My other program of choice was The Bionic Woman which I had been introduced too via The Six Million Dollar Man such were my eleven year old tastes in television!

Watching them again was as much then a nostalgia exercise and I enjoy watching television from past decades as much for what is being revealed ‘off-camera’ – the styles of the time in cars, clothes, music, its home interiors and technology – as much as the on screen action.

I have not been disappointed with the on-screen action so far – I am only three episodes in so it could become formulaic and I will update this post again if so – but so far the plots are good and acted well.

The writing is good too but the dialogue is bedevilled by male-chauvinism – that was reflective of its time – all four decades ago! – so the dialogue is going to reflect that I think if unintentionally. The BBC crime drama Ashes to Ashes better relived this a few years back with its more knowing ironic revamp with the compelling Keeley Hawes at the helm as Alex Drake coming face to face with the Seventies in the guise of Gene Hunt played with zest by Philip Glenister as the unreconstructed male chauvinist.

Kate Jackson as Sabrina

Kate Jackson as Sabrina

Time has also changed my impressions of the Angels themselves – I no longer judge a woman by the colour of her hair!   My favourite angels now are Sabrina Duncan and Kelly Garrett – not a blond hair in sight!

Charlie’s Angels I believe was quite a progressive program for its time – Cagney & Lacey was still not upon our screens and not one, not two but three female crime fighting agents was of precedent – though they were still overseen by men – their boss Charlie and his public face Bosley – the opening sequence opines with a wink in its voice ‘once upon a time there were three little girls that went to the police academy’…much of the dialogue between them and Charlie proceeds along those lines – what a loveable rogue middle-aged Charlie is with his extra-marital activities!

Jaclyn Smith as Kelly Garrett

Then there is the way the Angels and other female cast members are sometimes treated – the episode I most recently watched – The Mexican Connection – they were expected to infiltrate the male drug gang it seemed by making themselves available to be kissed, groped and if required bedded – clearly not a progressive message there.

A new series is being made in the US and I am looking forward to seeing how it will be updated for this decade. The Bionic Woman was itself remodelled a few years back with the excellent Michelle Ryan in the shoes of bionic Jamie Sommers – that series alas did not get beyond one series of eight episodes.  I hope this remake proves more enduring.

And that Charlie too is better served – perhaps it would be better if he were retired and that Charlie became Charly – perhaps played by Kate Jackson or Jaclyn Smith! – with no need for the angels to run it by the boys first before they put the world to right!

A fellow blogger likes my post! – or did they?!

Yes a post of mine has finally had the Like button clicked on – someone has read and likes my post! Or do they really like it and have they even read it?

You see the like button was hit almost seconds after my post was up!  The person who liked my post is based in Bulgaria and they have a number of blogs mainly it seems about military history which is not a prime interest of mine and all of them in Bulgarian.  And the content of my particular post was about a digital radio that I own and the stations that it broadcasts!

Then I reflected on the title of my post ‘Digital radio – cleaning up the nation’ which is a quoting of lyrics from ‘Radio, Radio’ by Elvis Costello and The Attractions – and that this blogger may have a search template set up to mark likes to any posts titled with terms relating to his blog interests such as in this case ‘Nation’ – a way of driving traffic to his blogs I guess – I like your posts, you like my posts, the modern blog equivalent of you scratch my back, I will scratch yours.

Perhaps though I am being overly paranoid and cynical and that a few seconds after I posted my entry was read and liked. Perhaps!

Pure Digital Radio – cleaning up the nation…

I purchased my digital radio six years ago from Empire Direct and the Pure Evoke 2 sits in my kitchen pumping out content from the moment I awake to the moment I retire – not that I spend my entire day in my kitchen I should add! Rather as I go about my home each time I need to visit my kitchen I am greeted by whatever station I am tuned to at that time.  The latest model includes naturally a number of refinements including the ability to connect an iPod – and I presume iPhone – and to pause and rewind digital radio for up to fifteen minutes – but I am more than satisfied with the older version I have.

What could I be listening too!

Digital radio has a lot of competition not just from other formats such as Internet radio but also the format itself delivered on other platforms like satellite and cable. But I like that my radio is self-contained unintegrated with the rest of the online world.  The sound from the two speakers is remarkable – even at a modest volume it produces a richness and power quite surprising given its small stature.  And it is a bit of a looker too!  My only niggle was that the handle came off – odd too as I am not in the habit of carrying the radio about – perhaps it came loose because of being in a kitchen the day long and subject to condensation – however it is a minor niggle as the handle for me serves no function I require, purely ornamental.

And what a lot of stations are on offer.  I have no favourite rather I stick with a station until I fancy a change and move along the dial usually to the very next station – very few channels I ever feel the need to skip.

In addition to the usual family of BBC stations including the indispensable Radio 3 and local Radio Scotland there are the Absolute family of stations – their 80’s and 90’s stations are available to me but the 00’s (pronounced Naughties!) station is not.  And though I do not feel a need for a 60’s and 70’s version as those two decades are so well served already an Absolute 50’s would be a pleasure as a decade beginning to become overlooked.

Local stations are well served too which in my case include Forth, Clyde and Real radio – stations that I would not be able to pick up if reliant on FM alone.

A notable mention to Amazing radio a station to showcase new and unsigned talent – a station I am sure that would have gladdened the heart of the late John Peel.

There have been a number of casualties along the way – I miss both the rock Arrow and ambient Chill – but there are more than enough other stations to keep my attention any time of the day, any day of the week.

Digital sound is pristine but reception is not perfect for all stations – Clyde, Forth and Radio Scotland can sometimes fade away but it is easy enough to recover them.

Now to paraphrase the English Elvis again – digital radio is the sound salvation…

Living The Big C – Two for the Road

Cancer must be one of the hardest sells both to networks and their audience – it dealing with disease and in this case one that is often terminal with no it seems happy ending likely.

Credit then for Showtime for commissioning this Darlene Hunt terminal creation and to Channel 4 for picking it up this side of the Atlantic.

Crafted with comic spirit and grace so this cancer is chronicled. Courageously the charismatic Laura Linney character Cathy Jamison – the programs real Big C  – responds to the diagnosis.

Comfortless from her family – her husband is slung out of the household, her teenage son is a stranger in the house, her father out of state and out of mind.  Only her brother provides comfort if cold and up to the seventh episode the one I have just watched – Two for the Road – news of her cancer has yet to have been shared with any of them – well it was with her brother in this episode but it proved too much for him and the news was withdrawn as a reprisal prank – you have to see the episode to understand this!

Casting aside what is not important in her life and gathering in what is, Cathy takes control of her fate.

Cast is an ensemble performance with John Benjamin Hickey notable as her brother also courageous in his convictions often in the face of mainstream indifference and Oliver Platt as her uncommitted loving husband.

Cast-iron certainties there are not but I am hopeful this Big C like Cathy herself proves resilient and that many years lie ahead for it.!