Thursday, January 27, 2005

OK, It's Officially Cold Now

Normally, I prefer winter to summer, because if you're cold, simply put on a sweater or grab a blanket. If you're hot, you need air conditioning, which isn't always available, plus it's expensive (you should see my Con Ed bills; they quadruple in total from May through September). My Scandinavian blood (though thinned by a couple of generations) has allowed me to visit Duluth in winter, ski in long underwear and jeans, and run around without a jacket. Until now.

You see, the Greater New York City/Long Island area has been in a cold snap. No longer do I sleep with both windows wide open to compensate for the dry heat pumped out through the radiator (though one window is slightly ajar). We had a fair amount of snow dumped on the area this past weekend, and I broke out not only a down coat, but attached the hood for a trek through two feet of the fluffy stuff to the bagel store on Sunday. That, for me, is drastic.

That being said, I still prefer cold over hot. Snow days are great. I caught up on my reading and a few DVDs this weekend, snuggled closely with my felines, and had a festive chili dinner with some good friends/neighbors. Although I skipped the gym on Monday, I felt no guilt at all, as the trek for bagels was more of a cardio workout than I normally do (not to mention the digging out of the car!). And the snowstorm looked even more gorgeous through a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon.

Right now, it's the coldest day of the year (thus far) and I have a date with my trainer at the gym tonight. I'm looking forward to getting through that punishment and then curling up with a flannel blanket, kitties, a DVD (probably from Season One of "Las Vegas") and a huge steaming mug of my special Irish Tea: hot tea mixed with blackberry brandy and peppermint schnapps. Yum! Maybe this cold snap isn't so bad after all...

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

How Can We Let Atrocities Like This Continue?

Four million people murdered over six years.

Now think: when and where did this happen?

Any idea?

Here's a hint: it's going on right now.

Still don't know? You're (sadly) not alone.

The Oprah Winfrey Show sent journalist Lisa Ling (formerly of "The View," now a correspondent for the National Geographic Network) to a place where horror is a way of life. Here's a quote from the recent Oprah show (more specifically, from the Oprah website) on which Ling reported her findings:

"As she often does, journalist Lisa Ling risked her life to tell us a very important story. She recently travelled to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to uncover what's been happening to women in the middle of this war-torn country. The country's most recent conflict stems from a struggle for resources and power, both among domestic and foreign interests—four million people have already been massacred. Lisa spoke to brutalized women in the village of Bukavu who are speaking for the first time in hopes the world will hear their voices. Every single day in the Congo, rape is used as a vicious weapon against women in this war. 'More than any other place I've been, life in the Congo can really be like living hell,' Lisa says. 'If you're a woman, you're constantly in danger of rebels who are hiding in the forest coming and attacking your village and gang raping you, possibly in front of your children.'"

Ling did risk her life traveling to this part of the world. She reported on horrific stories of rape, terror, and women who were then rejected by their husbands because they had been forced into sex slavery by the rebels, often imprisoned for months in the jungle by these sadistic rapists. Women who gave birth to children whose father could have been any one of a number of men who gang raped them, then ostracized by villagers who suggested the children should be killed. Women far braver than I.

Both Oprah and Lisa Ling were incredulous over the fact that hardly anyone knows about these atrocities. Other than the recent movie, "Hotel Rwanda," there's been little publicity. Their conclusion: it's a racial thing. Who cares what's happening in Africa, to Africans? Unfortunately, I think they're right.

Oprah urged the audience to go see "Hotel Rwanda," starring Don Cheadle, who was just nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for his performance in it. I'm going to see it this weekend. How about you?

Friday, January 21, 2005

Things to Have With You on a Desert Island (Part I)

First off, one of the things that puzzled me most about "Gilligan's Island" was if the Professor could build a car, rig up a phonograph record, and do god knows what else, WHY THE HELL COULDN'T HE FIX THE DAMN BOAT? Or at least build a new one? (Why the Howells brought trunks of money on a three hour cruise has also kept me up at night. Maybe Thurston was laundering money and was the real reason why the Minnow got tossed and tossed, in a plan to go offshore that went strangely awry. Hey, not as implausible a scenario as the actual show!)

Having said that, I've come up with lists of things I'd bring with me to a desert island. It was originally limited to books, but since I hate the beach (and fish), I decided I deserve more distractions/entertainment. Just have someone brighter than the Professor set up the island with a home theater system, a bookcase and comfy hammock (a red wine cellar would be lovely, too), and I'll stay for years, as long as I have the following:

A) Books to Have While Stranded on a Desert Island
1. "The Stand" (unabridged) by Stephen King. Easily his best work. I also like one of his less popular tomes, "Needless Things." The Castle Rock books would be nice to have (including "The Dead Zone" and "It," among others).
2. Irwin Shaw's "Rich Man, Poor Man." Television's first mini-series came out of this book. Wonderfully rich storytelling, like most of Shaw's catalogue. "Nightwork" is another favorite.
3. "As The Crow Flies," by disgraced member of Parliament/jailbird/author Jeffrey Archer. He writes great, epic stories. I'd probably sneak in a couple more of his books.
4. "The Alienist" by Caleb Carr. Inventive mix of real-life historical figures and fiction (one of my favorite genres -- see "Fred Mustard Stewart"). Set in turn-of-19th century New York City, beautifully done. The sequel was also pretty good.
5. Anything by Susan Isaacs. Top three: "Compromising Positions," "Almost Paradise," and "Shining Through."
6. Olivia Goldsmith's best: "The First Wives Club" and "Flavor of the Month."
7. As much Fred Mustard Stewart as possible. If limited to a few, I'd choose "Ellis Island," "Pomp and Circumstance," "A Rage Against Heaven," and "The Titan."
8. Continuing the historical fiction genre, how about all the John Jakes books?
9. "Yes I Can," the autobiography of Sammy Davis, Jr. A classic. If you haven't read it, please do, along with the more truthful and revealing version he released nearly 30 years later, "Why Me?"
10. "My Life" by Bill Clinton. Finally... enough time to read it!

The next post will deal with DVDs and/or CDs. Remember, I hate the beach, so I need as many toys as I can get!

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

More Bondage

No, it's not a plea, just a different way to say "UPDATE." According to AOL, London bookmakers have set odds on who will be the next actor to play James Bond. Hugh Jackman leads, with 2-1 odds. My boy Ewan McGregor comes in second, with 7-2 odds (which I guess translates to 3-1/2 to 1 odds). Now in third place is Clive Owen, at 4-1 odds. He was originally given 8-1, but his odds improved after his Golden Globe win for Best Supporting Actor, in "Closer."

I wasn't overjoyed with "Closer," but did note that Owen displayed a few of the attributes needed to play 007. If memory serves, he was in "King Arthur" recently, which would mean he could handle the physical part of being Bond. He's also tall, dark and handsome. And very intense.

Of these three actors, I still prefer McGregor overall, but Owen moves into second place, ahead of Jackman. Admittedly, I've only seen Jackman in light comedies, so this may be unfair to him. Perhaps his "X-Men" and "Van Helsing" movies could sway me, but I have no interest in seeing any of them. I heard he was great on Broadway, starring in "The Boy From Oz," and I did see him host the Tony Awards, looking good in a tux and singing rather nicely (that latter talent not being necessary for Bond, who hasn't sung since Sean Connery warbled a few bars of "Underneath The Mango Tree" in "Dr. No."). Maybe if he bulked up a bit...but I don't think that would be enough to get my vote.

I sure wish someone from EON Productions would read my blog! (In an ideal world, they would then offer me a job with their company. That would be sweet.)

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

UPDATE: "The Life and Death of Peter Sellers" -- Why Do We Listen To Film Critics?

At the Golden Globe Awards, presented Sunday evening, two of the big winners were:
DeMann Entertainment/Company Pictures/BBC Films/HBO Films


To all the critics that panned this great telefilm: kiss my grits.

I sometimes wonder why I bother reading film reviews; it's rare that I agree with them. Look at "Meet The Fockers" -- generally dismissed by the critics, it's grossed more than$200 million and is now among the Top 50 moneymaking movies. Of all time. Ha. Oh, and I laughed myself silly, especially when Streisand and Hoffman were on the screen. In "Meet The Parents," my first bellylaugh came early, in the scene that involved an urn, some ashes and Mr. Jinx. I honestly can't remember when "Meet The Fockers" first got the same reaction, but I know it was early (and often).

"The Aviator" looked great in the Vanity Fair cover feature a couple of issues ago. Terrific stunt casting, lots of good material to work with, and the genius of Martin Scorsese. Too bad the film didn't live up to its promise. I would have concentrated more on the characters so well portrayed (albeit briefly) by Jude "Errol Flynn" Law, Kate "Ava Gardner" Beckinsale, Alec "Juan Trippe" Baldwin, and even Gwen "Jean Harlow" Stefani. Cate Blanchett's Katharine Hepburn was good, but too much time was devoted to that one character (and even to her family). It could have been so much better. Still, it got Globes for Best Movie (Drama) and Best Actor (Drama), Leonardo DiCaprio, but remember, these Globes are awarded by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Oscars are voted for by industry people -- actors, directors, and the like. Not critics.

Congratulations to Geoffrey Rush and everyone involved in bringing "The Life and Death of Peter Sellers" to the small screen. I do hope you release it on DVD so more people can enjoy a great biopic of this quirky, troubled genius of an actor.

Friday, January 14, 2005

I (heart) Oprah

I often tape television programs so I can zap through them without watching the commercials; even when I'm at home, for later viewing. There are two daytime dramas that I watch on tape regularly, and every now and then, I'll pause at a commercial. Usually it's for that day's Oprah Winfrey program.

Of course, by the time I'm watching the tape, that Oprah show has come and gone. Tired of kicking myself (and of being black-and-blue), I got the bright idea to add an hour to my daily taping. If the show doesn't interest me that day, I skip it.

Here's the problem: Oprah is so damn good. She's looking great, has interesting guests on the show, and just seems like such a down-to-earth, likeable person. Plus, she's a talented interviewer. I watched the two days featuring Scott Peterson-ex Amber Frey, promoting her book and answering questions about her sociopathic former lover, and was enthralled. Not because of Frey, but because she was such a lousy interview. She'd reportedly performed beautifully when on the stand at Peterson's trial, and convinced many in the jury that he was guilty, but she sure fell apart on Oprah's stage. (Had Oprah been one of the lawyers cross-examining Frey, the case would have been dismissed.) Pro that she is, Oprah used every bit of interviewing skill she has (which is considerable), quoting from specific pages of Frey's book in order to exact some form of response from the woman. Oprah comes prepared (it's rumored that many talk show hosts don't always do their homework, sometimes to the point where they haven't read the book that their guest is touting), which saved the day for all, including the studio and viewing audience.

Some years back, probably about the time that Phil Donohue wore a dress on his program, Oprah decided that she was going to focus on stories that mattered, not based on their shock value for the sake of ratings. I don't think she's veered from that standpoint. She's increased sales of new and classic books with her "Oprah's Book Club," raised consciousness about things from disease to victimization, and educated her audience. Oprah has an easy, natural rapport with strangers and celebrities alike, and it shows.

I may not have time or inclination to watch every program, but I admire and respect Oprah Winfrey.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Rediscovering Susan Isaacs

Back in my college days, I was turned on to a very funny debut novel by fellow Long Islander Susan Isaacs, called "Compromising Positions." It was so fresh, with witty dialogue, an engrossing "whodunit," and a spicy affair, and I loaned it to many a dorm mate. Someone in Hollywood obviously agreed, as it was made into a movie starring Susan Sarandon, Raoul Julia, Joe Mantegna, Joan Allen (in her first feature film), and the wonderful Judith Ivey. One of those rare times when the movie and the book are both good. (Olivia Goldsmith's "The First Wives Club" comes immediately to mind. Unfortunately, Goldsmith -- whom I considered on a par with Isaacs -- died last year while undergoing plastic surgery.)

After her initial success, Isaacs wrote several more novels, movies and non-fiction works before bringing back the character of Judith Singer, introduced 23 years previously in "Compromising Positions," in a sequel, "Long Time No See." Sequels are often difficult to pull off, largely because they're always compared to the original and sometimes fall short, but this one worked. Judith Singer and other surviving characters were still witty and engaging, and a pleasure to spend time with. Call me greedy, but I'm hoping for a third installment!"

Almost Paradise" was Isaacs' third novel and one I've returned to more than once. It's a great story, with interesting characters and situations. If memory serves, it was going to be made into a mini-series or movie, but nothing ever came of that. Her next book, "Shining Through," was a spy story set during World War II, and did make it to the screen, starring Melanie Griffith and Michael Douglas. The film was so-so, but the story was great. I was recently confined to home with a nasty cold, so I was able to catch up on many of the new books I'd purchased. When I got bored with that, I looked through my bookcases and came upon "Shining Through." I'm about 3/4 through it (going back to work has sort of cramped my leisure time style), and loving every minute.

Do yourself a favor and pick up copies of "Compromising Positions," "Almost Paradise," "Shining Through" and "Long Time No See." You will be glad that you did.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Jeff Buckley (why you should know this name)

Back around 1994-96, a friend of mine worked at one of the major record labels, for one of the company's legendary A&R (Artist & Repertoire) men. I used to go visit her at lunchtime, a nice stroll up Madison Avenue, and just gab about music. (Naturally, she held one of my dream jobs!) She would load me up with promo CDs and turn me on to new artists. I think the best thing I ever came away with was Jeff Buckley's first studio album, "Grace." One afternoon I was up at her office and she tried to convince me to come to an artist event at downtown's Tower Records, and I said, nope, it's raining, maybe next time. Well, I missed the chance to see and hear Jeff Buckley (and probably meet him, too) and later realized what a hard lesson I'd learned. NEVER pass up an opportunity.

You see, Jeff Buckley died in 1997, while recording his second studio album in Memphis. He and some pals were out carousing, and were reportedly a bit drunk. Somehow they ended up by the Mississippi River, and Jeff ended up in it. The current was strong and Jeff was lost. I followed this online (probably the first news event that I watched unfold in this fashion), as the search continued for days. Unfortunately, Jeff did not survive.

In the eight years since his passing, Jeff has probably become more well-known than before. His mother, Mary Guibert, helps make this possible by publishing an on-line newsletter, with links to Jeff-related events, news from around the globe about Jeff Buckley tributes, a Q&A section, and much more (to subscribe, free, go to, and you'll get the Jeff Buckley International Newsletter). It also keeps you up to date on any upcoming CD or DVD releases.

OK, great, you may be thinking, but I still don't know why Jeff Buckley matters. He matters because he was an artist cut down probably before he reached his prime, who possessed a beautiful, sometimes ethereal voice, and pure musical talent. He wasn't afraid to venture into genres other than rock (among the songs he covered were Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," Arlen/Gershwin's "The Man That Got Away" - associated primarily with Judy Garland, and even a couple of Edith Piaf numbers. He also did a wicked version of the MC5's "Kick Out The Jams."). His father was a folk troubadour of the 1960s & 70s, Tim Buckley, who also died relatively young, but Jeff honed his natural talent with a lot of hard work and study.

Courtesy of my friend at the record company, I was able to pass along several copies of "Grace" to my more musically-inclined friends, and they all fell in love. One had formed a band, and would tell me from time to time how much Buckley influenced their music. He wasn't alone. The Jeff Buckley International Newsletter constantly gets letters from fans around the world, saying how much they've been touched by Jeff's music, including many who discovered him years after his death. Several of his songs have turned up through the years on movie or television soundtracks (especially the first season of "The Dead Zone") and he even rated an exhibition at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame a couple of years ago.

Right now I'm listening to "Mystery White Boy: Live '95~'96," a concert album that was released in 2000. It's a good showcase of his broad range, recorded in the U.S., Australia, Germany and France. However, if you've never heard of Jeff Buckley before now, listen to the "Grace" album. It still ranks high on American and foreign lists of important/influential recordings, more than a decade after its release and eight years after his passing. That should give you some idea of what a talent Jeff Buckley was - and why you should give him a listen. You won't be disappointed.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Ripping this off from Aunt Slappy's blog, sorta

Things I Did In 2004:
1. Visited a dying friend in Massachusetts. I learned a lot from that weekend: strength, kindness, and the true power of love. My friend (who was technically one of my late mother's best friends, but I adored her) spent the last days of her life with dignity and joy, surrounded by her loving and devoted children (who conducted themselves with enviable grace and strength throughout), and enjoying last visits with other loved ones. Frankly, I was terrified to pay what I knew would be my last visit, because I didn't know what to expect. I came away from the experience filled with awe and love, and so thankful that I had made the journey. For the next few weeks, I remained in constant contact, relaying the message "I love you" through whomever answered the phone when she was too weak to talk. My last call was made ten minutes before she passed, and her daughter called me immediately afterward. Two days later, in the Jewish tradition, we buried one of the most wonderful people I've ever known, Ruth Bleier Harris. She left behind three children, four grandchildren, many dear friends, and a legacy of love.

2. Went to Bette Midler's "Kiss My Brass" show at the Continental Arena in New Jersey. What a performance! Midler was in peak performance shape, with a voice that was as strong at the end as in the beginning. And I don't think she skipped any of her fans' favorite tunes.

3. Met George Taft, a long-time friend of both my mother and Ruthie, dating back to elementary school. He's now an architect in Atlanta and has been on the design teams responsible for many of that city's landmark projects, including the Olympic facilities, Turner Field, and much more. It's wonderful to tour a city with one of its architects; you learn far more interesting details than you would otherwise. We had a great time, and it was easy to see why that friendship endured for so long. I was in Atlanta for a trade show, but left early because...

4. I went to the hospital at the end of March, quite unexpectedly! After flying up from Atlanta, where I had started losing blood, I went to the doctor, who said, "Your blood count is so low, I'm sending you to the E.R., not the G.I." I checked into North Shore Hospital via the E.R. and was asked when was the last time I'd been admitted. "Well, I guess about 40 years ago, when I was born here!" They looked up my records and gave me the same patient number I had then (it was a pretty low number)! After several hours waiting for a bed to be freed up, and many frantic calls to friends and neighbors, alternately asking them to feed my cats and "break me outta here," I was settled into a room, where I remained for about two days. Unhappily, because I felt fine, other than the fact that I kept losing blood. If my cousin Lynn hadn't come by with some books the day after I was admitted, I would have lost my mind. (As it happened, I had passed a Barnes & Noble on the way to the hospital and went in to get some reading material, something most people being sent directly to the E.R. would not do, but, hey, I get bored.) They finally sprang me Saturday, around noon-time (I'd been captive since Thursday afternoon), and I snuck out to my car, drove home (yeah, I know, you're supposed to be picked up, but I'd had enough of their rules), filled my scrips, and was happily reunited with Moochie and Scraps. (Spunky Bastard was not yet on the scene.)

5. Learned that it's really not a good idea to take Advil Cold & Sinus twice a day, every day, for a couple of years. That's what landed me in the hospital, caused the bleeding, made me endure a couple of rather invasive tests, and determined that I had diverticulosis. Yikes. Those OTC medicines can really mess you up when you ignore their warning. Be afraid.

6. Had another fun girls' weekend in fabulous Bethany Beach, Delaware. Great place, even off-season. And fantastic, no-tax outlet shopping in nearby Rehobeth Beach. Good thing we took a minivan.

7. Saw "Hairspray," during the last two weeks of Harvey Fierstein and Kathy Brier's performances. Loved it, loved them. Sent a nice note, a program, and a stamped, self-addressed envelope to Mr. Fierstein, and he sent back a lovely autographed program. I'm having it framed. He is sublime. Naturally, I bought the CD, which I listened to constantly, and determined that I preferred Kathy Brier's singing to the original actress'. You can catch Kathy Brier on "One Life to Live," but I don't think she does any singing. Too bad.

8. Traveled to Fort Worth for a convention. Ugh. Constant rain, making a trip to see the Kennedy Assassination Tour in Dallas impossible. Therefore, no reason to be in Fort Worth. I'm sure there are lovely parts of the city, but all I saw was rain, a wet Convention Center, a hotel, and a few good restaurants.

9. Had my tiny backyard relandscaped and the shed replaced. What a job. Fortunately, all I had to do was pay for it.

10. Learned how to make red wine shallot reduction, perfect with grilled steaks (preferably hanger steaks or filet mignon). Served it several times over the summer and did not get sick of it once. The only drag is prepping the shallots. Otherwise, it's surprisingly easy.

11. Joined the gym! In July I started the first of many workouts to come with Personal Trainer Extroidinaire Ivy. She kicks my butt, but she'll eventually have less of that to kick.

12. Went to my first country concert, Wynnona, at Planting Fields Arboretum in Oyster Bay. I had seen her on "Oprah" and was blown away by the power and beauty of her voice. When I learned she would be at Planting Fields, I immediately got tickets. What's cool is that for $20 or so, you can get lawn seating and can bring a picnic supper and wine. People were actually competing for the title of best supper. Now I know what to do next time (was planning to go to Peter Frampton the next month, but it was raining heavily). Wynnona was terrific. What a voice. I'll see her again.

13. Adopted Spunky Bastard (see previous posts from December 2004).

14. Marked the first year without my mother. Sad. I wallowed for a day (the anniversary date). We Irish tend to do that. Okay, I'm only part Irish, but I wallowed anyway.

15. Traveled to Paris with my aunts Patricia and Judy and cousin Lynn. Had a blast. This was the first time I hadn't been there on business, the fifth visit overall, and it was fantastic. We stayed in a part of the city that was new to me, and it was perfectly situated (The Latin Quarter) and convenient to much of what we wanted to do. I proudly showed off my skill with the Metro system and we went all over the place (although most of the time we walked). On our last night, we had a magnificent dinner at La Tour d'Argent, whose owner, Claude Terrail, came over to speak to us. He probably noticed the bottle of Chateau Talbot 1970 that was at our table. We'll be back!

16. Started this blog, one of the best things I've done for myself. A week later, I was invited to become a contributing columnist to "Eye On Soaps," one of the best websites on the 'Net. I'm having a great time with it, and love being part of the EOS team. You can check out the site under the Links section of the sidebar on this page. If you like ABC soaps, this is truly the place to be. And I'm really psyched that several of the EOS staff will be attending the GH Fan Club Weekend in Studio City, CA this coming July. I've packed my bag, I'm ready to go (OK, quick, name the song I just quoted...)

17. Survived the holidays.

18. Chaperoned a college-age New Year's Party. The party kept going until 5am (or later). I'm too old for this shit.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Alias: Why The Hell Haven't I Been Watching This Show?

First, I apologize for not blogging lately. The holidays threw a monkey wrench into my regular schedule, and a nasty, long-lasting head cold threw another, larger, monkey wrench into my holidays. But I'm back now and ready to blog away...

When "Alias" burst onto the airwaves in 2001, I tried to watch it, but found myself often confused with the plot twists and abrupt changes in venue. At the same time, there was another new spy show, "Thieves," starring John Stamos and Rebecca George (who later joined "Alias," I should've taken the hint) which was easier to follow and a lot of fun. Unfortunately, it was canceled mid-season.

In an effort to grow its audience, when "Alias" came back on the schedule (I believe it was directly following the 2003 Super Bowl), it promised that new viewers could jump in and understand what was going on, even though if you had missed an episode or two in previous seasons, you'd be lost. I didn't take the bait then, but after hearing my friends Nina and Glenn rave about the show, I decided it was time to take the plunge. And the numerous promos that ABC has been airing these past weeks didn't hurt, either. This Tuesday, I gave Nina a call:

Me: "Hey, Ninja, how's it going?"
Nina: "Can't really talk, I'm trying to put the kids down for the night."
Me: "Figures. My timing usually sucks. Quick question: "Alias" starts tomorrow. I haven't watched it. Should I?"
Nina: "ABSOLUTELY! And if you don't get something, call me or Glenn and we'll fill you in!"
Me: "Cool, thanks."

Last night was it: the two-hour season premiere. I turned it on right as it started and was engrossed. Expertly and expensively filmed, it was as close to a James Bond film as anything I've seen (even closer than those two horrible Timothy Dalton Bond movies!). It even had a former Bond villain, Rick "Die Another Day" Yune, and the fabulous Angela Bassett. And Jennifer Garner was fantastic. She morphs effortlessly into her various spy roles and kicks butt just as easily. Plus, she's a good actress. I'd seen her in "13 Going On 30," and thought she was quite talented, but her portrayal of Sydney is superb. She's aided and abetted by an excellent supporting cast and terrific writing, not to mention great production and attention to detail. From what I've read, it cost about $3.5 million to produce the two-hour season opener, and it certainly looked like it. That number may even be lower than the true figure. Money well spent. I'm hooked, and am looking forward to next week. In fact, it was so good that I will probably end up buying the previous seasons on DVD. I'm not sure when I'll have time to watch them all, but have no doubt that I'll manage it. I feel a head cold coming on...