Close to the Enemy (2016)

I often find myself watching TV dramas in a state of confusion and puzzlement. “Is he the other guy’s brother?” “Who is she supposed to work for?” “Why did they do that?” “So was that a flashback or a dream?” “Is this set in Denmark or Sweden – or both?”

I usually give up trying to follow convoluted plots and end up just taking in the scenery. A bit like going on one of those hop-on hop-off city bus tours Continue reading

Text message receipts

This is one of those posts which is likely to be old news for most people. However, for the rest, I hope you find it useful. When you send a text message (aka SMS) you can ask for a delivery receipt. Did you know that already? OK then, nothing to see here.

A delivery report is an automatic timestamped message confirming that your text has reached the recipient’s phone. It does not tell you that the message has actually been read.

Depending on your network provider you can either turn this feature on in your phone’s Settings, or you may have to start the body of each message with the three character string *0# (that’s star zero hash). The recipient does not see this string in the message.

You can use delivery reports as an indirect way of learning that someone has arrived safely after a plane journey. Simply send them a message during their flight, and then when they turn on their phone at their destination, you will receive automatic notification.

The Nice Guys (2016)

One hour and fifty-six minutes – count ’em – of a dog’s dinner served up as an action comedy. Evidently director Shane Black’s policy was that nothing should be left on the cutting room floor.

This film has too many characters, too many bangs and flashes, too much violence, and a far too convoluted plot to make it worthwhile picking out the funny bits. Such comedic moments are almost all carried by Ryan Gosling as the earnest but inept private detective. Russell Crowe is his hard-man buddy, these days channelling more than a little John Goodman.

Watch Bad Boys (1995) to see a much more entertaining example of this genre.


Whilst watching TV yesterday I was idly channel flip-flopping between the Euro 2016 football and Wimbledon tennis. What struck me was the difference in behaviour expected of the players and spectators in the two sports. It’s time to mix things up a bit.

For example, to aid players’ concentration I think the football referee should insist on complete quiet from the crowd.

By the same token, I think it would make tennis more fun if after winning each set the player ran around the court doing an aeroplane, finishing with a spectacular knee-slide.


How to cheat at sport

I have previously considered the cliché move the goalposts but what about the oft-demanded level playing field? We all know what is meant by the phrase, but I cannot think of a sport where a sloping playing field would disadvantage one team.

Take football. If your team finds itself on a playing field with a distinct slope towards their goal, you can relax in the knowledge that the second half will redress the imbalance when the teams change ends. In any case, surely it would have to be a really significant deviation from the horizontal to make a difference?

The Dressmaker (2015)

Set in a 1950’s claustrophobic hamlet in the vast Australian outback, this is a tale of a woman returning to her childhood home in order to make sense of her upbringing and to right some wrongs. Judy Davis and Kate Winslett treat us to stellar performances as mother and daughter, although the voluptuous Ms Winslett Continue reading

The Martian (2015)

An agreeable ‘popcorn movie’ which is well-made and perfectly entertaining, but two ingredients were lacking. Ridley Scott has of course directed some classic edge-of-the-seat sci-fi thrillers, but this is not one of them. Instead it has a jaunty, humorous tone and there is never any doubt about the outcome. Continue reading