strange_complex: (Dracula Risen hearse smile)
I still have a veeerryy long list of book, film and TV reviews to write up, and maybe I'll get to some of those later today. But first, I want to write about the thing I saw last night while it's all fresh in my mind, and that is a contemporary dance production of Dracula by the Mark Bruce Company. As ever for these things, my companion for the evening was the lovely [livejournal.com profile] ms_siobhan, and of course for both of us the obvious comparator was the recent ballet version by David Nixon which we also saw together at the West Yorkshire Playhouse. We were in no doubt that both were amazing, but found it much harder to decide which we thought was best. In the end, obviously, you don't have to decide (though it's a fun and often quite useful way to figure out what you think of two different performances individually) - you can have both! But their takes on the story certainly were different, and would appeal to different states of mind.

Where the ballet was very romantic, with a heavy emphasis on unfulfilled longing, last night's version was much more brutal, visceral and ghoulish. As it happens, both chose to open with scenes featuring Dracula on his own, introducing their take on the character, and the contrast between those two scenes encapsulates the difference very nicely. Ballet!Dracula rose smoothly from his coffin in a cloud of mist, completely naked apart from a very small pouch, and strode with perfect poise and balance away from the audience and out through a dark Gothic doorway at the back of the stage. It was basically all about the eroticisation of a supernaturally-powerful male body. Dance!Dracula, clothed in a slightly industrial-looking cropped-sleeved black shirt and trousers, instead performed a number which had him at times revelling similarly in his supernatural strength and power, but at others lapsing into the shambolic zombie-like movements of a reanimated corpse. Meanwhile, strong side-lighting cast dramatic highlights and shadows across his face and limbs, emphasising his non-human nature as a spectral creature of the night.

So, a very different take on the character which persisted and developed throughout the show. Ballet!Dracula was tormented by his own bloodlust, approached his victims like a fairy-tale prince, and had a (cheap, stretch-velvet) billowing cape which he used to convey the batlike side of his nature. Dance!Dracula preferred a trench-coat, didn't muck about when attacking his victims, and conveyed his bestiality rather through snarls and contortions. And obviously the same logic and feel applied throughout the show - for example, in the contrast between the ballet version of the vampire brides, who moved powerfully yet fluidly in fine billowing white robes, and the contemporary dance versions, who did much more snarling and clawing and wore ragged blood-stained dresses (with the obvious implication being that they were too monstrous and inhuman to care about the stains). In fact, there was a lot more blood all round in the dance version. I'm pretty sure we never saw any in the ballet - it was all allusive and impressionistic. But in the dance, punches were thrown, victims bitten and stakes hammered home, all to distinctly gory effect.

Both productions definitely maxed out on the Gothic aesthetic, with wrought-iron arches, dry ice, and a very great deal of black. But this one played around a little more with its temporal setting. The music used was from various different eras, ranging from the baroque to the modernist, while although the costumes centred around the Victorian / Edwardian, they nodded towards something quite modern for Lucy and Mina, and (along with the music) also switched into the early 20th-century jazz era for some scenes involving the vampires. The first of these happened when Dracula caught Jonathan Harker with his brides in the castle, whereupon the audience of course expects anger and fighting, but this was actually played out by the brides handing Dracula a top hat and cane, and him dancing to what I've worked out this morning was Arthur Collins' 1905 hit The Preacher and the Bear, while Jonathan cowered in the corner. This sounds kind of ridiculous, and I wasn't quite sure about it myself at first. But it did work as a way to convey the evil of Dracula - not just attacking his guest, but toying with him via the juxtaposition between the jolly song and his own incongruously brutal appearance, and through lyrics which make it apparent that he treats hunting his human victims as a game. And it really paid off in the second half, during Dracula's attack on Lucy, when the three vampire brides could be seen dancing the Charleston in the background. By that time, the motif had really sunk in, so that the spectre of these ghoulish creatures dancing a jazz number as Lucy died horribly had become incredibly effective and properly unsettling.

There were all sorts of other similarly clever, creative touches along the way as well. Like in the scene where the team of vampire hunters find Dracula's boxes of earth in the cellars of Carfax and crumble holy communion wafers into them. Here, the three vampire brides crouched at the corners of the stage - not really 'there' in story terms, but present all the same - winding up mechanical rats and letting them loose to run across the floor. As with the jazz dancing, on paper that sounds too silly to work, but it really did, conveying the feel of a dank and creepy cellar alive with vermin beautifully. Also very good was the handling of chase scenes, which were generally conveyed by on-the-spot running which was somehow done so effectively that you almost forgot that it was on the spot, and simply embraced the sense of movement. This was done for the carriage ride taking Jonathan to Dracula's castle in the first half, and Dracula's retreat back home with the vampire-hunters on his tail at the end - no mucking about with scenes on trains or boats here, but just a straightforward on-the-spot foot-chase, which nonetheless managed to stand effectively for an epic journey through the night across Europe. In both cases, wolf-headed dancers also appeared at certain points to run alongside the carriage or the vampire Count, helping to build the sensation of a high-speed chase in the same way that Roman artists would put in eagles or hares to show that a person was moving quickly.

Then at the end, the eventual fate of the brides was to be captured by a vampire-hunter each and strung up on the wrought-iron Gothic arches of Dracula's castle, in a way which visually resembled both the impaled victims of the real Vlad III Dracula, and (as [livejournal.com profile] ms_siobhan pointed out) the three figures of the Biblical crucifixion scene. Dracula himself, meanwhile, succumbed to the wiles of Mina, who embroiled him into an increasingly-frantic dance as the sun rose, so that eventually he could not escape its rays and crumpled defeated onto the floor. I always have a lot of time for Dracula productions which let Mina herself kill him (as for example in the version we saw at Kirkstall Abbey last summer the one I saw in Belfast in 2005 and of course the original 1922 Nosferatu), but with or without that the ending of last night's performance was certainly stronger than the ballet version, which I noted at the time slipped into a bit of an anti-climax after its wonderful love-duet between Dracula and Mina.

As for this production's take on the story, what I've already said above will indicate that it included some departures from the novel, but on the whole it was pretty true to the outlines of Stoker's novel. This is of course for largely the same reason as the ballet version - both stories were told silently through the medium of dance, so they relied on their audience knowing the basic story already, and any major departures from the original would be confusing. Like the ballet, though, it only had a limited time to get its story across, so some trimming was necessary. The Demeter was in this time (and was very well done), as was an excellent montage of vampire!Lucy feeding on little children, but Renfield and the asylum were out, and perhaps most surprisingly of all there was also no identifiable Van Helsing figure. Of course, this being a silent drama, none of the characters had in-story names, but the vampire-hunters were represented by three men - a doctor, a priest and a flamboyant wealthy gentleman, all of whom were suitors of Lucy and all of whom took a more or less equal role in the business of vampire-despatching. Obviously, the priest was the one whipping out crosses and communion wafers, while the other two map fairly closely to Dr. Seward and Lord Godalming, but Van Helsing was neither a priest nor a suitor, and also definitely was an outsider from the point of view of the rest of the group.

The dance style itself sometimes came quite close to ballet, including things like male-female duets in which the male dancer does a lot of lifting and supporting of the female dancer, dancing on pointed toes, etc. But there was a lot else in there this time - jazz-dancing moves, as I've mentioned, gypsy dances in a village on the way to the castle, ballroom-style dancing and all sorts of leaps and contortions which I suppose come under the general heading of modern dance. Like the ballet version we saw, this one also took advantage of the strength of its male lead to show the famous scene in which Dracula crawls head-first down the wall of his castle - but although it was clever and impressive, in all honesty this was something which the ballet version did better, both in terms of how the scene had been set up and the actual execution of the move. I think that is probably representative of the general difference between the two as performances, actually. I found myself more often wide-eyed in wonder at the technical skills and grace of the ballet performers than I did the contemporary dancers. But that is simply a matter of different genres, really, and both very definitely deployed the capabilities and motifs of their formats very well indeed to tell the sorts of stories they wanted to tell.

In the end, I mainly just want to see both of them again, which unfortunately isn't possible for live performances. I missed certain aspects of the ballet in last night's contemporary dance version - especially the homoerotic tension between Dracula and Jonathan Harker, and the vampire brides' sheer exuberance in their own femininity and vampirism. But I did enjoy the visceral brutality of this performance, and the clever creative touches like the mechanical rats and the impaled / crucified brides, while its Lucy was absolutely amazing and did get the exuberant enjoyment of her own vampirism which had rested more with the brides in the ballet. The romantic emphasis of the ballet probably reflects not only the tendencies of the genre (for all that it certainly pushed the boundaries of what ballet does very hard indeed), but also the fact that it was first developed in the 1990s, in the wake of Bram Stoker's Dracula with its Mina / Dracula love-story. By contrast, the Mark Bruce Company version is more obviously a product of the early 21st century, and reflects the grungy, visceral aesthetic which horror films have taken on in the interim (Hammer's The Woman in Black springs to mind, for example). I have room in my heart for both - though not, I should stress, for Bram Stoker's Dracula itself, which is Just Rubbish.

I included a trailer video of the ballet version in my previous review, so I shall finish by doing the same here for the Mark Bruce version:


See it if you possibly can.

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strange_complex: (Dracula 1958 cloak)
I saw this on Tuesday evening with notorious Dracula-enabler [livejournal.com profile] ms_siobhan, and it was absolutely captivating. I'm not a big ballet-goer - in fact, I think the last live ballet I went to was a performance of The Nutcracker at the Birmingham Hippodrome with my mother during my mid- to late-teens. But when [livejournal.com profile] ms_siobhan pointed out that this was on, recommended it highly based on having seen it previously, and suggested that we go along, I didn't take much persuading. Well, let's be honest, I'll find time for pretty much anything with 'Dracula' in the title right now. But I could see straight away how a ballet version of the story would have the potential to really bring out its fantasy, romance and visual spectacle - and I was not disappointed.

Ballet dancers, of course, can move in ways which most human beings cannot, and this is a great boon when playing supernatural characters. You can take for granted incredible feats of strength and agility and suitably animalistic movements on the part of all the vampire characters - Dracula, his three brides, and a transformed Lucy. More deliberately supernatural, and different from the human characters in this ballet or the supernatural ones in other dramatic performances, were two particular feats performed by Dracula himself - gliding side-ways, almost as though floating, and literally crawling out of a window head-first, exactly as described in the book. The latter can briefly be seen in this trailer video (at 0:25), which indeed is worth watching in full (it's only 1m15s long) for a good sense of the general splendour of the performance:


It was perfectly clear how both were done - the former by using the tight scuttling movement that ballet-dancers do (I don't know the technical term) while his feet were hidden below the length of his cloak, and the latter by supporting himself with powerful arm-muscles on two vertical bars running down either side of the 'window', while hooking onto the horizontal dividers of the frame with his feet. But still! I couldn't dream of doing either, and seeing another human being right in front of my eyes deploying what (to me) were effectively supernatural powers was an amazing experience. In these days of CGI special effects, it's easy to become blasé about seeing human beings doing apparently-impossible things, so that it becomes hard to relate to the combined fascination and repulsion which Stoker's characters experience on encounters with vampires. But seeing such physical feats being performed live gave a much more powerful sense of the strangeness of difference than I think any screen-trickery could ever quite manage.

Those weren't the only places where the strengths of ballet as a medium for story-telling were well-deployed, either. Other simple yet clever examples included the scenes where Dracula physically manipulated human characters like marionettes to represent hypnotically bending them to his will, or where Renfield's mental torment was conveyed through powerful contortions - not a case of supernatural movement this time, but another good use of a ballet dancer's exceptional physical capabilities to convey difference. And in a context where all of the characters were flowing and floating around the stage in a rather surreal fashion all the time anyway, and there was no dialogue, it also seemed very natural to convey one character's thoughts about another by having them appear at a slight distance. This was how we first met Mina, for example - as a 'vision' in a white dress dancing lightly across a corner of the stage, prompted by Jonathan's longing for her while he is imprisoned in Dracula's castle.

And oh, how well ballet conveys longing and yearning of all kinds! The absolute high-light of the piece was a love-duet between Dracula and Mina in the second half, which seemed to go on for ever, yet which I still wanted never to stop at all. But the early scenes in Dracula's castle of course offer lots of scope for homoerotic longing, too - "This man belongs to me!" and so on. There was some great business between Dracula and Jonathan Harker, where Jonathan would be sitting at a desk studying legal documents, with Dracula hanging over his shoulder on the brink of succumbing to the urge to bite him - but then Jonathan would notice and Dracula would shift smoothly into pointing out something on the page in front of him. Indeed, they had a proper male-male duet too, with Dracula guiding and steering Jonathan's movements in one of his mind-control sequences. That's something which ballet as a format, with all those finely-toned male bodies, has the potential to do incredibly well, and yet of course isn't common in classical ballet AT ALL because of the prevalent social mores at the time when most of it was developed. And much the same could be said for the vampire brides, where the strength of the dancers was used to show them as casually powerful, in complete command of their own bodies, and enjoying the hell out of playing around with a helpless Jonathan Harker. Sure, OK, so Dracula was always going to turn up at the end and tell them to quit it, but they got an extended scene of potent, jubilant femininity before that - a world away from the fragile characters female ballet-dancers are usually asked to play, and quite the most exuberant vampire brides I think I've ever seen.

As for how this ballet related to other tellings of the Dracula story, it largely follows the contours of the book, although it is inevitably impressionistic given the relatively short running-time (c. 1h 45m of stage time), emphasis on character moments and dramatic confrontations, and absence of dialogue. The perpetual dilemmas about where Lucy, Mina, Seward, Holmwood etc all live in relation to Dracula's castle become largely irrelevant when no-one in the story is speaking words like 'Whitby', 'London', 'Carlstadt' or whatever. Possibly Dracula travels to wherever-it-is by ship - but equally, the lashing wind and water which we hear may just be a storm outside Lucy's drawing-room window. It doesn't really matter. On this impressionistic level, the only identifiable 'departure' from the book was a party held to celebrate Lucy's engagement to Arthur Holmwood (at which she shockingly turns up on Dracula's arm!), but since that allowed for some very nice formal dancing scenes which gave roles to members of the company who otherwise wouldn't have been in the production at all, it seemed like a good inclusion.

The sets were probably closest to the 1931 Universal Dracula, in that they were neither realistic nor entirely abstract, so matched its expressionistic spirit. They were certainly really good, anyway - lots of broken castles and abbeys, but also lavish ballrooms and bedrooms, and an excellent carriage pulled through clouds of dry ice by burning-eyed horses. There are quite a few traceable footprints of Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992) here too - e.g. in Dracula's shoulder-length hair, the very Elizabethan-looking collar worn by Lucy after her transformation, the fact that Dracula and Mina's story is cast as a romance (though thankfully without any hints at reincarnation), and the portrayal of Seward as morphine addict ([livejournal.com profile] ms_siobhan - I checked that one, and this is indeed where it comes from). But there was a touch of the rattish Nosferatu to Dracula's look as well, and of course the absence of spoken dialogue inevitably recalls the format of the 1922 movie.

Because nothing is perfect, I do have to note here that after the highlight which was Dracula and Mina's love-duet, the dancing did seem to fall into a bit of an anti-climax, especially as the team of vampire hunters dashed around the stage in search of Dracula with no obvious sense of purpose to their movements. And while the costumes were generally amazing (especially a long beaded frock-coat worn by Dracula to Lucy's engagement party), his standard attire of a long high-collared crushed-velvet cloak unfortunately looked very much like it had come from a cheap fancy-dress shop. But all in all, this really was a fantastic performance and a great night out. If you ever get the chance to see it, grab it with both hands.

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strange_complex: (Dracula 1958 cloak)
Aw, sad times. With this film, I reach the end of my joyful rewatching of Hammer's Dracula series - or at least, the ones with Christopher Lee in them, anyway. I've saved it till last partly because I watched it only 18 months ago, but also because I unironically and enthusiastically love it. I am thus ending the series on a high, and I am very happy to have the opportunity to write about this film again, and in more detail than in my previous review.

As the Wikipedia article's section on its reception puts it, "Critical reaction to Dracula AD 1972 has been mixed to negative." But all the so-called critics are Wrong )

But Christopher Lee's Dracula is the real draw for me, so let's talk about him. As I've noted above, keeping Dracula in the semi-ruined and deconsecrated St. Bartolph's setting, rather than out amongst clothes shops and coffee bars, helps to preserve the correct aura of Gothic mystique around his character. But it actually also follows a pattern already established in two of the earlier sequels - that is, the creepingly malicious modus operandi which I identified in Risen from the Grave and Taste the Blood. Under this model, he works at one remove through enslaved servants, rather than attacking people directly, and while he is waiting for them to bring him his desired victim, he lurks - in a cellar in Risen, and in a church in both Taste and AD 1972.

There is an important difference, in that for the first time Johnny Alucard is an entirely willing accomplice, rather than a victim like Zena and the priest in Risen or Alice in Taste. On the one hand, that's a pity, because (as as I said in relation to Taste), the concept of the enthralled servants helplessly doing things they consciously detest has a powerful creep factor. But on the other, it's nice to see something different, and the sheer pleasure which Johnny Alucard takes in his own evil-doing is great fun to watch in itself. Either way, Dracula comes out of it just as well, because the whole set-up affords him ample opportunities to be imperious and demanding and angry when the servants let him down. We never quite get the icy politeness here of his scenes with Jonathan Harker in Dracula, or with a series of uninvited castle guests in Scars, but we definitely get the haughty aristocrat. There is also plenty of dark sexuality in his predation scenes, of course, while the climactic confrontation with Van Helsing is packed full of violent monsterishness. So, good - all boxes ticked.

There was one scene, though, which really caught my attention this time because of the potential it offered for fannish insights into the Dracula character (in a similar way to the detail about him inviting a librarian to his castle in the first film). It's only a very short sequence, probably about ten seconds or so long, and has no dialogue at all. Coming roughly two-thirds of the way through the film, and cut in between sequences of Van Helsing placing a cross around Jessica's neck and Johnny Alucard disposing of a body, we see Dracula, alone, waiting in the church for Johnny to bring the right girl to him. Fairly obviously, the sequence is there to remind us of Dracula's menacing presence in the story, driving the actions of the other characters. Also fairly obviously, for a scene like this you can't just show Dracula sitting around looking at his watch and maybe drumming his fingers a bit. If he's going to be on the screen, he needs to be doing something a bit evil and Gothic-looking. Otherwise, you're just not conveying the necessary menace. So dry leaves blow across the floor of the church, a moonbeam shines in from the right, and Dracula waits...

Dracula dancing alone 3 Dracula dancing alone 4

The direction given to Christopher Lee for this scene was probably something along the lines of "Pace towards the centre of the church, Chris, and then when you get to your mark stop, do a full turn and give your cloak a good swirl." That's exactly what he does, and I'm sure it conveys the intended theme of 'Dracula waiting impatiently' very nicely, with the added bonus of also showing off the excellent work of the costume department. Except that if you are looking at it with feverishly fannish eyes, as I currently am, whole extra layers of character are opened up by this scene. We very rarely see Dracula completely alone, you see, and certainly not alone and not also engaged in the urgent business of chasing after girls or escaping from his enemies. But suddenly, here he is - alone and at his leisure. And what do we discover he likes to do in these circumstances? Pace around and swirl his cloak - for fun. He's practically dancing in fact, on his own, in the middle of the church. Perhaps in evil self-satisfaction at having just drained two victims in rapid succession (Gaynor and then Johnny), and how well his plans in general seem to be going? Or perhaps just because he likes the feel of the movement? It's hard to say, but it is fascinating, and definitely a side of Dracula which we don't normally get to see in these stories.

Finally, another Thing Which Gets Said about this film is that because the opening sequence is set in 1872, it and Satanic Rites "do not correspond to the chronology established in the Victorian/Edwardian era films", the first of which is set in 1885. But this view is the result of an impoverished imagination and a failure to notice that the Van Helsing of the first film is not called Lawrence. I'm pretty confident that with a little lateral thinking, the entire sequence of films can be rammed into a perfectly sound continuity framework, even though they were never written in the first place with anything of the sort in mind. But to do that properly takes us rather beyond this particular film, and I will still need to go back and check a few details in some of the other films before I can really nail it. So I will save that for a later post.

Meanwhile, if, under the influence of some strange madness, delusion, or perhaps genius, you love this film as much as I do, there is a four-minute contemporary 'featurette' on it here complete with some fantastic behind-the-scenes footage and a bit of pontificating from Christopher Lee. Essential viewing, I think you'll agree, and especially for the way Dracula's wig blows straight up into the air at around 02:35, making him look for all the world like a member of an early 80s goth-punk band. LOVE!

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strange_complex: (Dracula Risen hearse smile)
Having rediscovered the joys of Hammer's Dracula on our recent trip to Manchester, it seemed like time to revisit some of the sequels. I picked this one first because it is my favourite of what you might call the 'straight' sequels - that is, the ones in which they were playing the story fairly seriously, rather than as a pastiche or a parody. I also hadn't seen it for a while. Checking back through the films I have watched since starting to review them all here systematically in 2007, I can find a viewing of Prince of Darkness from 2010, and one of AD 1972 from 2012 (by far my favourite of the non-straight sequels), but not this one. So it was time.

As I watched, I tried to put my finger on what it is about this one that I like so much. I forged my opinion of it in my mid-teens, so that it is difficult now to reassess it fairly through the weight of my own nostalgia, but I think in the end that my teenage judgement was fairly sound. A big factor is that the characters are so great )

Meanwhile, the dark Gothic atmosphere is ramped up to the max )

In short, then, a great rediscovery, and I stick by my fondness for this particular sequel. But watching it did make me realise that I am going to have to up-grade some beloved but ancient possessions. See, I think of myself as already owning all eight of the Hammer Dracula films. Indeed, here they are:

Dracula videos crop Dracula box set crop

(Obviously Carry on Cleo isn't part of the series - it was just recorded on the same tape as The Brides of Dracula). We recorded Dracula off the telly in about 1985 (I believe), following it up with some of the sequels as they too were broadcast. I got the box set for Christmas from my Dad in the year it came out, which copyright notices on the backs of the individual boxes tells me was 1988, meaning I would have been 12. Obviously, according to the certificates on the boxes I should not really have been watching these films at such a tender age, and nor should my Dad have been buying them for me, but I'd already seen the first one at 9 and been entranced rather than terrified, so I think he judged correctly that I would be fine with them. (It's perhaps worth adding that neither 12 nor 12A certificates existed at that time, and that some of these films have since been reclassified downwards.) I bought the other two commercial tapes soon afterwards with either Christmas or birthday money, and distinctly remember having to ask some random guy in HMV to purchase at least one of them for me, because I couldn't yet pass for 18.

In other words, I have owned this lot for at least 25 years, some of it longer. I've watched them all dozens of times, and they have been through multiple house-moves with me. But although I carefully bought a combi video-DVD player eight years ago, in order to ensure that my existing video collection would not become obsolete, the truth is that in practice I don't watch any of my old video cassettes very often these days, and in particular have barely done so since buying my wide-screen telly three years ago. And watching this film made me realise why not. Fuzzy picture-quality I can cope with, but having two blank rectangles on either side of the screen where the picture has been cut off to fit a 4:3 aspect ratio, when you know there could perfectly well be extra picture there instead is more than I can stand. So it's time to retire those old video-cassettes, and get some shiny new DVDs instead. That's my Christmas-list sorted, then.

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strange_complex: (Leela Ooh)
The other day while taking money out at a cash-point, I noticed that there was rather more money in my bank account than I'd been expecting. The next time I had a spare moment, I went online to find out why, and saw that a payment of £477.34 had been made into my account by Queen's University Belfast.

This worried me for a few days. I've finished working there, and my last pay-cheque came in at the end of September. So why were they suddenly sending me more money? Was it a mistake? Or some kind of tax rebate based on the erroneous assumption that I was now unemployed?

Either way, my future looked likely to involve hassle and having to pay it back.

Until, that is, I actually got a pay-slip from them yesterday, where the money was described as a redundancy payment. Now, to be fair, I did get a letter from the Personnel department shortly before I left saying that staff who'd been employed by the University for a year or less were due a week's worth of their salary as a redundancy payment if their contract was terminated. But I got a lot of other rather nonsensical letters that were obviously being generated automatically by some sort of 'system' around the same time, and assumed that it didn't really apply to me, since I'd been on a fixed-term contract and had always known it was going to end when it did.

It seems, though, that this particular letter really was true. So, to celebrate, I popped round to Richer Sounds this afternoon, and bought something I've been meaning to buy for some time, and especially since I was in there the other day buying a coaxial cable and saw it there, winking at me on the shelf: a combination VCR / DVD player / recorder. This one, to be precise.

Is this machine teh sechs? Oh gods, yes! These are some of the benefits it has brought into my life:Combi lust )Suffice it to say that I am feeling more than satisfied with my purchase. And kinda warm and gooey towards Queen's, of course.

Meanwhile, in a somewhat-related vein, I also feel that the world should know about the bill I got the other day from BT:

What do you mean, not worth the paper it's written on? )

Now I'm going out. I look forward immensely to my DVD recording of this evening's episode of A Bit of Fry & Laurie when I return. Let's just hope I managed to set the timer correctly...

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