Tag Archives: Mark Harmon

300 and counting

It was quite satisfying to stray from the books on Tuesday. I think I’ll do it again.

After all, it’s not every week that not only has your favourite singer turn 80, but your favourite television show clocks up 300 episodes. In other words, I have watched NCIS since well before I became your favourite Bookwitch. And as with Roger Whittaker, I blogged about my love in the Guardian. That time it was because I got furious over the offhand way their television reviewer mentioned the start of, I think, the 4th season. No one seemed to watch it, and it was OK to mock.

Palmer, Gibbs and Vance

Now, NCIS is the most watched show in America. Last week the 300th episode aired, and it was a good one. They were a bit shaky last year, but that’s how it is with ‘family’ and you love them for better and for worse. We’ve had a very good run recently and I’m thinking the show could survive the planned departure of of one of the original characters. Just don’t kill him!

Abby and Ducky

(I wouldn’t read too much into the fact that both photos – © CBS – are from Autopsy…)

When the witch met Petrona

The world of blogging is a rather nice place to be. You meet interesting people, like other bloggers with whom you share so much. And the really good ones make you wish you were that little bit better at it.

Maxine Clarke who blogged as Petrona was one of them. She knew a lot about crime, which turned out to my advantage that evening in 2008 when I invited myself onto her team for the crime pub quiz in Bristol. We’d never met, but she came highly recommended by Declan Burke, so I felt free to borrow the friend of a friend. (We came third, mainly thanks to Maxine and her colleague Karen of Eurocrime.)

I always had the feeling that I ought to know more about the Nordic crime scene because of my background, but it would have been impossible to beat Maxine. From what I knew of her, she had a good job, a family, and she still managed to read all the interesting crime novels and write reviews for her own as well as Karen’s blogs.

By the time I ran out of time for too much daily blog reading, I tended to use Petrona as somewhere I would go to look for information. I could generally be sure of finding anything relevant on there.

Every now and then Maxine would leave a comment on Bookwitch, either because I’d blogged on crime, or because there was something YA that she also knew about. I believe our daughters are about the same age, which is how we ended up reading the same books for that age group as well.

This is what makes it especially sad that Maxine died earlier this week; leaving someone young behind. Because for all her expertise on the Scandinavians, it was sharing YA books that I found the most fun.

Bloggers at Crime Fest copy

I stole this photo of Maxine (left) with Rhian, Karen and Declan some years ago. I’m not sure who from, but it was in a good cause.

There is a collection of blogs posts about Maxine here.

(And as an amusing aside, I have to thank Rhian for pointing me in the direction of a long ago post by Maxine, featuring Mark Harmon. If only I’d known…)

Young and hot, or perhaps not

Mary Hoffman went on a book tour to America last week, leaving us – her blog readers – with some exciting men to think about. I bet she did that on purpose.

She writes about some very attractive young men in her own books, and I trust Mary has done a lot of research to make our reading experience the best ever. But I am too old for her boys. I simply cannot lust after a teenager. Even setting propriety aside I find I can’t. I need older men.

Like the ones I was too young for when I was a teenager. Except in those days there wasn’t much in the way of teen books, so a girl had to lust after grown older men, or not lust at all. Lord Peter Wimsey is one such example mentioned by Mary. (And don’t tell anyone, but I did like him.)

That’s life. Nothing is ever right.

So, in those days I liked the Scarlet Pimpernel (even without Leslie Howard), and I adored Steven Howard in MM Kaye’s Death in Cyprus and Richard Byron in Mary Stewart’s Madam Will You Talk. Various Alistair MacLean heroes, and Carl Zlinter from Nevil Shute’s The Far Country. (Go on, ridicule me!)

If there were any boys, I have forgotten them, which means they can’t have been all that special.

More recently I have liked Margery Allingham’s Campion, Mr Knightley, and Robert Stephens’s voice as Aragorn in the radio version of Lord of the Rings. There aren’t all that many attractive men in modern children’s or YA books, but there is Lupin. And from an old classic we have Daddy Longlegs.

If I absolutely have to find young men in current fiction they won’t be vampires. Not even faeries (sorry, Seth McGregor). I liked Wes in Sarah Dessen’s The Truth About Forever, and Sanchez in Ribblestrop by Andy Mulligan is quite a boy. And now that I think about it, the Cathys (Cassidy and Hopkins) do lovely young ones.

Abby and Ducky

Men on the screen, however, have got easier with age. The ten-year-old me knew it was wrong to be in love with Ilya Kuryakin, 23 years my senior. But he was so cute! And this being a lasting kind of passion, it was David McCallum who got me started on NCIS. He is still very good looking for a man approaching 80. And it was at NCIS I found Very Special Agent Gibbs, a man of the right age. At last. I reckon he is a modern Mr Knightley.


So, for me it is No Thanks to ‘hot young men.’ I need them to be grey these days.

(Link here to an older post about pretty boys. I seem to have grown out of them.)

Bookwitch bites #9

There really will be an American film version of Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, after all my prognostication saying they were too late by now. Oh well, I’m sure you can’t have too many of a good film.

Jon Mayhew has gory stories. Not written by him, this time, but by young wannabes. I think Jon has cause to worry a little, because it looks like they are here to take over from him. So maybe not encourage all this rival writing?

Tall Story by Candy Gourlay may not be in the shops just yet. Soon… But I have received my real copy, and it is a beauty. This clever book now also has its own website. And Candy is counting the minutes.

If I had a trumpet I would blow it. I don’t. Will a saxophone do? Anyway, no one else will ever ask me about myths, or my opinions of the same, after reading my recent grilling by Lucy Coats. I’m incredibly flattered to be her number seven, but it would have been more my style if I’d made number six.

Reading is important, and here is another plea for people to sign the Just Read Campaign. Please sign. Or I may come after you with a hair dryer. (Sorry, inexplicable personal joke. And a bad one, at that.)

It seems even my favourite NCIS agent is reading. Or rather, Mark Harmon is. Four books, at the last count. (And that count is mine, and I’m not totally serious.) Three books 25 years ago, and more recently another one, after the filming for season 7 finished. I wonder which book?

I’m currently feeling a bit smug, which I know will come back and hit me very very soon. I reorganised my books, and have managed to keep up with what I planned to read, so any minute now the smugness will crash. I even made two piles for two planned trips, which will most likely have to be re-piled when the time comes to pack. So this feeling of being on top of things is a chimera. Unless that’s a mythical dog.


Mythical witch

Aarghh..! The tables have been turned. I really, really don’t like answering questions. Meg Rosoff tried interviewing me last October and it was awful. And now Lucy Coats has had a go, too. (But I will have a cream meringue, thank you. And Earl Grey with that would be nice.)

Lucy is very nice. Very kind. I think it may have been lunch rather than tea we bonded over. It was certainly something we ate. She’s the kind of woman who opens her arms and gives even strange witches a hug. Bet she soon realised she’d been a bit hasty, but by then it was too late.

It’s obvious. Lucy decided to do a questionnaire/survey/interview thingy to see how myths have influenced people and what they think about the importance of myths. She asked the great and the good, starting with Caroline Lawrence, and following swiftly with Mary Hoffman. Then Amanda Craig, Michelle Paver, Adèle Geras and Philip Womack. The natural name to follow these people is the Bookwitch. I mean, who else is there?

The Word document with Lucy’s questions sat on my desktop for a Very Long Time. (On top of Mark Harmon’s left eyebrow, should anyone be interested.) I opened it up every now and then and looked at it, before closing it again. Hopeless. Me. It. Finding answers to very clever questions. ‘Have to tell her I can’t do it,’ I whispered to myself, repeatedly.

When Lucy published Caroline’s profile I read through it, looking for hints of what to say and how to say it. Hah.

In the end I went for irreverent, tongue-in-cheek answers that have very little to do with myths, let alone Greek ones. I have let the side down, and I’m sorry. Let’s hope it picks up next week, with a real person again.

Seeing Sara

Woke up early to a snow covered world and pondered the possibility that I might be mad for contemplating crossing the Peak District on the first train on a Sunday morning. It could be cancelled, or it could get stuck in a snow drift beyond Hope. Or something. All this to watch an author sign her books in Nottingham.

And that’s another thing. Nottingham. The witch family always gets lost when travelling anywhere near Nottingham. But, this was for Sara Paretsky, and if she can cross the Atlantic, braving airport security in her new undies, then a witch can battle the snow. Broom would have been good, but chilly. The train was OK in the end.

Once in Nottingham – which seems quite a nice place – I cased the joint (=checked out Waterstone’s) and downed a cup of tea in the store’s Costa, which had that nicest of things; a member of staff who likes NCIS. (He fancies Ziva.) Not being someone who eats her own sandwiches in cafés, I then attempted to gulp it down just outside the shop, only to encounter Sara’s marvellous PR lady Kerry mid-chew. My mid-chew. Kerry appeared to have lost her author.

We went inside and inquired about Sara’s whereabouts, and they had also lost her (I said Nottingham was dangerous!), until she turned up exiting the lift bearing a cup of coffee. So that explained that. Having heard Sara on Radio 4 saying how she is such a perfectionist with her coffee that she even makes her own and pours it out if it fails to make the grade, I was astonished at her bravery, but Sara said it was good coffee, when I challenged her. Must be the NCIS connection.

And that wasn’t the only losing of Sara going on. Someone had misdirected her in Cambridge the night before, and THAT’S NO WAY to treat Sara Paretsky. I was introduced to Ian who had SatNavved Sara to Nottingham (that will be why they made it…) and he’s perfect. I didn’t realise there are men like that. Young and good looking and wearing a purple shirt and purple Converses. With black. Sigh. I’ll start writing books for Hodder now. Just so I can, you know…

OK, I need to get back on track.

Sarah Paretsky in Nottingham

Sara settled down to her signing and chatting with all the fans who had turned up. I don’t know how she does it, but when every single one of them say how great her books are, and she manages to sound surprised and pleased and thanks them for saying so. One fan pointed out it had been 19 years since he’d last seen her, but I say he hasn’t tried hard enough. And I hope I got this right, because it seems Sara has only ever missed one signing, which is pretty good going.

While this happened, Ian and Kerry went off to switch luggage and cars in two different car parks, as part of what they call their ‘author relay race’. They only lose a few authors that way. (Joking!)

Sara apologised for being tired and confused, due to having been farmed out to breakfast television, live radio, two events a day and eating odd food at odd times in odd places. And then Kerry told Sara about the lovely fish and chips you get in Whitby, before saying they weren’t going there. Well, fine.

Sara Paretsky

So what did we talk about, as Sara signed every book in the shop? Of hers, obviously. The new Hardball, and all the others. Well, her blogging, and how she enjoys the little cyber community that meet on her website blog. (Yes Bag Lady, that includes you.) Her writing plans, where she is contracted for more VI Warshawski books, and the novel Sara hopes to write for her husband based on his background working in Physics, which sounds a lot more interesting than I can manage to describe like this.

And we had to mention NCIS. I complimented Sara on getting her UK tour dates arranged almost to perfection, with no need to miss any episodes, seeing as the Olympic Winter Games are on while Sara tours. (How did she manage that?) She watches on her laptop, (well, who doesn’t?) and Kerry added that she had watched the previous night, which only shows that her heart is in the right place, but she’s seriously behind. Sara likes Gibbs best, although I got the impression she feels Mark Harmon has passed his best by date. (Nah, I wouldn’t say so…) And she secretly wants to be Ziva.

After that serendipitous meeting of so many NCIS fans under the roof of Waterstone’s, they had to go and play a trick on a poor witch. In exchange for a photo of Sara, I had to pose with her while Melissa from the shop repeated her Hairy Bikers camera duty and snapped us together. I pointed out that when forced in this manner, I tend to cut myself out later, but Sara had a way round that, albeit rather short arms.

Sara Paretsky and Bookwitch

It would seem that my camera malfunctioned in a big way, but anybody’s cheeks would be that red after a trek across the Peak District. In the snow.

Then Kerry gathered up her author and went to find the M1 going North.