The Other Blues

Having convincingly defeated all the others to win the Premier League in 2016/17, my beloved Chelsea FC had a lackluster season in 2017/18:

However, the Blues did redeem themselves last Saturday by beating the foul Manchester United 1-0 in the F.A. Cup Final (and the match wasn’t even that close; Chelsea could easily have won 3-0).

So bite me, Mancunian scum.

Icy Fire

With all the excitement over Prince Harry’s new Hollywood wife, I just remembered that I watched her TV show (Suits) not for the stupid plots and unrealistic premise, but because of Sarah Rafferty (Donna).

I don’t know whether it was her extraordinary beauty — not to mention the RED HAIR — or else the icy, aloof and super-competent character she played in an otherwise-unmemorable show, but the plain fact is that I watched the entire first two seasons purely so I could feast my eyes on this exquisite creature.  I mean, seriously?

…and I don’t even like lawyers, or anything to do with them.  But sheesh…

Somebody stop me…

The Blues

I was saddened by the news of the death of the brilliant Steven Bochco, co-creator of the best cop shows ever put on TV, Hill Street Blues and NYPD Blue.

Hill Street Blues came out when I was still living in Johannesburg, and as US shows couldn’t be shown on South African TV because apartheid, my friendly local video store owner managed to get copies made in the US and smuggled into South Africa, where he transposed the episodes from NTSC into the PAL system.  He recommended the pilot show to me, and I was hooked in the first five minutes. I’d never seen anything like that show before — and I suspect not many had, even in America. I grew to love the characters and watched their antics fondly each week, waiting for the call from Jim to tell me he’d finished transposing the latest episode; he knew I loved the show and as my apartment was literally across the road from his store, I’d stop over on my way back from work, grab the VHS cassette from him and watch the thing twice before returning it to him the next morning.

I had a major crush on Assistant D.A. Joyce Davenport (Veronica Hamel), and loved the way that she and Captain Frank Furillo (Daniel J. Travanti) had this antagonistic professional relationship at the precinct while having a love affair in secret. I even loved Furillo’s awful ex-wife Fay (Barbara Bosson) and how she always caused trouble for him when she came storming into the station. And I could go on and on: the relationship between cowboy cop Renko and Black cop Washington, the grumpy Belker always getting interrupted at critical moments by phone calls from his mother, the silky psychopath SWAT commander Howard Hunter (James B. Sikking) and so on and so on. And like many, I mourned the real-life death of desk sergeant Phil Esterhaus (Michael Conrad), whose post-briefing “Let’s be careful out there” so often went unheeded, and so often with tragic consequences. I think the show went a little downhill after his passing.

You will understand how much I loved this show that I can still recall so many of the plot details now, some thirty years later.

Much less so was NYPD Blue, which was a grittier, more New York kind of show (as opposed to the still-rough-but-somehow-gentler Chicago South Side of HSB). Still, there were parallels: I had a huge crush on NYPD’s Assistant D.A. Sylvia Costas (Sharon Lawrence) — yes, two ADAs in two shows, go figure — but whereas HSB was mostly drama, NYPDB, made in a more permissive decade, threw in a healthy dose of sex between the characters, with actual nudity. That aside, though, whereas Hill Street Blues had been a truly ensemble show, NYPD Blue belonged lock, stock and barrel to the brilliant Dennis Franz as Det. Andy Sipowicz, whose loud, profane and irritable persona was all New York — still more remarkable when you consider that Franz was the archetypal Chicago cop. (His one-man stage show about cops in Chicago had the accolade of being the favorite stage show of actual Chicago cops, who nightly formed much of his theater audience.) There were other characters on NYPDB — good if not excellent ones — but Franz owned the place.

Anyway, as Readers other than of my own vintage won’t know what the hell I’m talking about here, I’m going to resort to pictures, first of ADA Joyce Davenport and then her New York counterpart, ADA Sylvia Costas.

Finally, here’s a totally-gratuitous pic of NYPDB‘s Det. Diane Russell (Kim Delaney), so everyone can see what I’ve been talking about:

R.I.P. Mr. Bochco, and thank you for the Blues.

“Sit, Ubu.”

Business Opportunity

Watching Starbucks digging itself ever deeper into the Pit Of Social Justice, I can’t help thinking that there’s an answer to all of this idiocy:

Yup, these guys are all over Europe and Britain, and are expanding into the Far East. Here’s one outlet in the Philippines (despite the red phone booth):

…but they’re all over the place:

That one’s in Prague, despite the English signage.

I encountered them last year in Britishland — remember, it had been nigh on fifteen years since I’d been Over There before, and as I recall, Costa was still a small presence back then. Now, of course, they’re pretty much ubiquitous, whether in malls, stations, on High Street and in service stations (thanks to a pretty nifty dispenser which gives you almost a dozen options).

Best of all, Costa’s offering isn’t at all like the hyper-pretentious nonsense from Starbucks — their sizes are Small, Medium and Large, for one thing — and best of all, their coffee is damn good (also unlike that of Starbucks). Because I’m a wussy, I drink their “Americano” (diluted espresso) whereas Mr. Free Market gets the super-strong unsweetened because he’s a manly man (and no sarcasm intended, either; I tried drinking his choice once, and had to quit after half a cup because hallucinations).

People think that Costa isn’t Over Here because of the strength of the competition (Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, Caribou and what have you), and that’s a fair point: Costa came into the U.K., for example, when there were relatively few Starbucks outlets around and most Brits were still drinking instant coffee [pause to be sick], so their entry into the market wasn’t too difficult. In fact, I think they succeeded where Starbucks failed: to turn Britain from a tea culture into a coffee culture.

However, I still think Costa could make it here. Their menu is more Starbucks than Dunkin’ Donuts, but cheaper and (of course) less pretentious and self-conscious. Ordinary people like you and me go to Costa and drink coffee, as opposed to the hipster-yuppie-soccermom filth who prefer to pay too much for their triple-chocolate-low-fat-soymilk-double-decaf lattes. (I’m not making that last one up, either. I think the cost was $7.50 for a “small”, probably because of the labor cost involved in just making the stupid thing.)

It’s time there was a decent alternative to the Scum From Seattle anyway, and seeing as it’s not going to come from Greggs (more’s the pity), it should be Costa. As long as they don’t turn their outlets into shelters for the homeless.