Corrie Street Sept. 27/15


carla corrie street sept. 27/15Carla and Tracy at the edge of the cliff, both metaphorically and actually. Carla is flirting with jumping, Tracy desperate to stop her. A long and beautiful scene that stretched over two episodes.

Wednesday’s episode ended with the cliffhanger, and Thursday’s began with it. The two of them, on the edge. Carla may jump, may just sit and drink. She may accidentally fall, and cliff edge Corrie Street Sept. 27/15so be it. She just doesn’t care anymore. Let the fates decide.

In Carla’s mind, Tracy is just along for the ride. She’s insignificant except as a convenient sounding board. Tracy, however, has been eaten up by guilt ever since seeing Carla spiral downhill after the fire that Carla, and everyone else, believes she carelessly and drunkenly started. The fire that took two lives and endangered Amy’s.

Truth without consequences

tracy and carla corrie street sept. 27/15Tracy has wanted to tell the truth. She finally told Robert, and he insists she must tell Carla. She wants to for Carla’s sake, but she does not want to face the consequences for herself if she does. On the cliff top, she is more desperate to stop Carla from suicide. She tells her, and also tells her she will deny every word if Carla repeats what she says.

The moment outside Victoria Court when Tracy jumped in Carla’s car tracy confesses corrie street sept. 27/15to stop her from driving off drunk. The emotional drive through town, the cliff top confessions, and the mad return home by car for Carla and motorbike for Tracy. Intense, and perfectly timed and pitched off each other.

Tracy is so often a one-note character, brilliantly played, yes, but predictable. It is such a treat to see deeper than the brittle surface. cliff corrie street sept. 27/15This week, we’ve seen the Tracy we know and love or loathe, but she’s shown her complexity as well. Quicksilver change is Carla’s stock in trade. Seeing them together, matching sorrow, fear, anger and flippancy in an extended two-hander, has been just brilliant.

Corrie Street Sept. 20/15

Face of Hope

painting-hopeA tiny perfect scene with Hope and Mary in Thursday’s episode. At the Community Centre, Mary is doing face-painting for kids. She paints Hope’s face like the Lion King. Tyrone and Mary ask her in their best nursie voices if she likes it, and Hope nods.

Then Mary takes Hope’s teddy and puts him in her lap. Will we do Mr. Teddy now? She holds the paintbrush dangerously close to Teddy’s shall-we-do-mr-teddy-nextfluffy face. Hope firmly shakes her head no. Mary tosses Teddy and glares at Hope as if the child had just spoiled all her fun. She cleans the paint off her hands and gives Hope one final filthy look.

Child actors on Corrie are rarely expressive. Most are more like props than participants. Adult actors must convey the emotion for both themselves and the child. Whether it’s happiness or fear, the adult actor shows it strongly enough that, it is hoped, we overlook the child’s total lack of response.

Acting sleight of hand

If need be, the adult says how the child is feeling. ‘Can’t you see X is mr-teddy-tossedterrified?’ Or ‘X loves it, don’t you sweetie.” If you watch the child closely, don’t be surprised if you cannot tell. But you likely will stay more focussed on the adult actor, and so will believe that X is scared or happy. It’s sleight of hand: watch what’s happening here and you don’t think about what is, or isn’t, happening over there.

Lovely as she is, young Hope is no exception in her acting skills. But the overdone and underdone interplay between Mary and Hope was mary-glares-at-hopea LOL moment for me. It worked because Mary uses the nursie voice of encouragement with everyone. And when thwarted, she reacted as she does with anyone. She took it as a personal slight and repaid the child with a withering look.

Hope’s diagnosis

Hope was the catalyst for another lovely scene on Friday. I’ve been dreading the storyline of Hope’s illness, because it’s about a sick child but also because it will provide ample opportunity for Fiz to flip out. And she has been. But in telling Roy the diagnosis, she was as quiet as hope-smileshe. They worked beautifully off each other. The sadness and fear was almost palpable, done with few words and restrained gestures. I enjoyed it, savoured it even, knowing it may be the only understated scene with Fiz that we’ll see in this story.

And, in case anyone is keeping count, another big soap cliché on Wednesday. Robert says to Tracy “tell them” as she, Carla, Michelle and Nick talk about the fire. And none of the three think to say “tell them what?”

Nim the Chimp

Amazon link for dvd

Project Nim is a film by James Marsh about Nim Chimpsky, the chimp who was raised from infancy as a human in order to explore the learning of language in non-human primates. The film is based on the book by Elizabeth Hess, Nim Chimpsky: The chimp who would be human. CBC Radio’s Q interviewed Marsh about his film and Nim.

In an experiment started in 1973 by Columbia University psychologist Dr. Herbert S. Terrace, Nim grew up like a human child and learned American Sign Language. As he matured, he became a real male chimp with all the aggression and wildness that goes along with that. But he also liked going to the ice cream parlour for peach ice cream and sleeping in his bed.

Nim Chimpsky, at home, drawing on chalkboardAfter four years the experiment came to an end. Nim was taken from his home to an animal research facility. When it closed, he and the other chimps were sold to another lab. In the labs, he lived in a cage.


Once Nim escaped from the lab. He broke into a house where he climbed in a bed and went to sleep. Just like Goldilocks. Poor Nim. Listening to that in the interview broke my heart.

Nim grew up in human surroundings. He knew how to communicate through ASL. Then all that ended, and none of his new “keepers” knew sign language. What must he have thought? Obviously, he knew something was wrong and he sought to rectify it. Shows intelligence and rational thought, in my opinion.

What were they thinking?

And the people responsible for this: what on earth were they thinking? They had taught him to live like a human, so why would they think that he would ‘adapt’ to being treated differently? Would it Chimp in a lab cage (Capital Chimpanzee Exhibit, AHS 2009)have been so hard to provide him, in any environment, with his own ‘room,’ with the bed and pillow and blankets that he was used to? Hire someone who knew sign language? Not understanding that, to me, shows less intelligence and rational thought than Nim demonstrated.

Some of his original caretakers continued to care, and publicized his plight. Nim was rescued by Cleveland Amory’s Black Beauty Ranch. He lived there until his death at 26 in 2000. I don’t know if he had his own bed. But he had chimp companions that he liked and humans with whom he could sign. I hope he also had all the peach ice cream he wanted.

From my St. Thomas Dog Blog, July 22, 2011. See my Lost and Found for a look at another wonderful book by Elizabeth Hess, about an American county animal shelter.

Corrie Street Sept. 13/15

Don’t Do It!

Gail, David, Kylie and Max hustle along the street. Callum gets out of gail-says-ignore-himhis car as they pass. Max cringes and hurries away from his father. What’s up, Callum wonders, surprised at Max. Kylie and Gail try to keep the little party moving along, away from Callum.

But David just can’t resist Callum’s jibes. He stops and turns back. He wants to wipe that smile off Callum’s face. Max saw Callum kick Jason. That politeness-costs-nothingis why he wants nothing to do with him. And soon the police will know, and you won’t be smirking then will you.

No, no, don’t do it! Keep walking! Kylie is trying to get across to David, trying to push him along away from Callum. I’m praying for the same. Kylie doesn’t want Callum to get a heads up that they are going to the police station. I don’t want to witness one of the biggest soap clichés ever: blabbing your guts and thereby allowing the villain to thwart your plans.

But David blabbed

wipe-that-smileNeither Kylie nor I got our wish. David blabbed, Kylie worried about what Callum would do now he had warning, and I felt deflated. I don’t expect to see hackneyed dramatic devices in Coronation Street writing, heavy-handed in their furthering of a plot. There’s been a few lately, and that’s too many.

In this case, it was especially unnecessary. Max’s behaviour itself was for-god-sakeenough to clue Callum in that something had happened that wasn’t to Callum’s advantage. He could probably figure out for himself what it was. A word, or flinch, from Bethany or Sarah, both nearby and easily located, might confirm it.

Alone, either of them might have told him whatever he wanted to know. Neither of them know enough to keep their mouths shut. Neither does David on his own, but he does know how high the who-the-police-are-going-to-believecustody stakes are and Kylie was right beside him almost dragging him away from Callum. There was no need for the ‘I’m going to expose your evil ways and you’ll be sorry’ type lines that make soaps the butt of jokes (and that got Tina killed).

Later in the week, there were great scenes. Beautiful suppressed annoyance from Roy about Cathy leaving toast crumbs in the butter. Mary bullying everyone to seek their artistic muse. Sean and Sally discussing modes and means of listening to music. Tony struggling to support his son and Eileen instead of taking revenge on those who nearly he-saw-you-attackkilled Jason. Finally and gloriously, the week’s end with Tony slamming the wits out of Callum. Despite all these small gems, I couldn’t get the click-click of a plot device turning over out of my head.

Who’s Kitten Who?

In the mood for a fluffy book, I wondered if Cynthia Baxter’s Who’s Kitten Who? might be a bit too fluffy based on the cover and title. Still, give it a try.

Who's Kitten Who?
Click for Amazon link

Amateur sleuth Jessica Popper is a veterinarian who runs a mobile clinic on Long Island. She lives with her fiancé and numerous animals. She has a habit of running into murder and mystery.  In this book, it’s the murder of a community theatre writer. The backdrop is her home life and the visit of her future in-laws, whom she has not yet met, and their little dog Mitzi.

The actual mystery is good – some clues so you could feel like you were figuring it out but not enough to be too obvious. The pets and her interaction with them are well drawn and entertaining. Some LOL moments produced by her daily life with humans and animals. Fluffy? Yes. A good read? Yes.

In-laws – and fiancé – from hell

The visit by the in-laws – good in that her fiancé’s mother is so god-awful that she gives you nightmares. The tension between Jessica, her fiancé and his parents and Mitzi is very good. It is realistic enough for any of us who have hideous memories of meeting “the fam” of a significant other. It is over the top enough to make us laugh and feel relief that nothing we experienced was ever quite this bad.

Where it fails, in my opinion, is that Jessica tolerates this abuse by fiancé and his parents and actually still wants to be involved with this inconsiderate jackass. I was relieved when I thought she had seen the light, smelled the coffee, woken up to her future with this dysfunctional pack of egotistical lunatics. When loose ends are being tied up after the mystery was solved, I fully expected her to say “I never want to lay eyes on you again, so go live with your deranged mother and her deranged dog and spare every other woman’s emotional wellbeing.” What I read instead surprised me – indeed annoyed me.

Read another?

Aside from that, I don’t like books where there’s no connection between title and content (excepting those with a series-based reason) and there isn’t here. No kitten except for the punning opportunity. I also don’t like mystery protagonists who suddenly act stupid for the sake of moving the plot along. That happens here at least once in a major way.

I should, I suppose, read another of Ms. Baxter’s ‘Reigning Cats and Dogs‘ series to get a better sense of Jessica and the pillock she’s engaged to. Other than the points I mention, Who’s Kitten Who? is a fun, well-written and engaging mystery with mostly likeable characters.

From my St. Thomas Dog Blog, Sept. 8/11. Below are Amazon links to the first two Jessica Popper books. The right sidebar links are for Cynthia Baxter’s second series featuring travel writer Mallory Marlowe.


Corrie Street Sept. 6/15

Scout Leader Dougie

After the introduction of Dougie last week, I looked forward to the Dougie says there is a stream with troutcamping trip in the wilds of Wales. He is Lord Baden-Powell’s Scouting for Boys manual personified. With him having a group of townies to teach about the great outdoors, this camping trip was going to be great fun.

Great if you’re watching from a safe distance, that is. Dougie is one of those people I pray to never have to go near in real life. But watching other people deal with him? Wonderful!

Able to make fire by rubbing a stick, making bunny burgers from a making-firerabbit he caught in a trap he made with a pointy stick, having plasters in his pocket in case of wood whittling accidents, Dougie is prepared. A full-blown love of his “mistress” Nature and the knowledge to survive and enjoy all things she can throw at you – that is what Dougie wants to share with everyone. I kept expecting him to break into song – “Edelweiss” maybe, or “Springtime for Hitler” (see below).

Extreme Leader

Scout Dougie and SineadBy the time they were well into their extreme wilderness camping excursion with Dougie, I wasn’t the only one for whom he evoked aspects of the Third Reich. Off on his own in the woods, Chesney wanted only to escape “Mein Führer” as he called him. Even Sinead admitted that she had tired of “Mr. Know-it-all.”

Dougie points out death cap mushroomDougie went way too far with his ridiculing of Tyrone over everything. He ceased being entertaining, and became simply a bully. At the end of the week, and the end of the trip, his daughter forced him to back off at least toward her and Craig.

Were Dougie and Caitlin simply a camping trip interlude? It would have been a pretty boring vacation for the campers and audience if lovely-crispsthey hadn’t met anyone new. An opening was made for their reappearance on the Street, with Craig and Caitlin’s promise to stay in touch. Do we need more new people? Much as I like them both, I don’t think so.

And from 2005’s remake of The Producers (with a link to Mel Brook’s 1967 original below), here’s a show tune for you:

Spot the Fire Muster dog

Spot the Fire Muster Dog at STDOA booth photo D StewartI decided to do a little creative grooming for the Fire Muster. White Poodle plus Fire Muster Dog Show equals Dalmatian Look-alike contender! So I checked with my groomer, a Poodle grooming specialist, a hair dresser, a pharmacist and online creative grooming sites. The consensus was anything temporary, without bleach and safe for children’s hair would be ok. There are specially formulated vegetable dyes for dogs available, but not at any supplier near me. Food colouring and Kool-Aid is also ok, but I wanted black colouring so needed something else.

I got a temporary dye spray bomb designed for kids and fancy dress costuming. Then I cut different sized circles in a small piece of boxboard and sprayed Leo’s hair. I didn’t spray his legs, near his eyes or under his belly – avoided sensitive areas and anywhere he could easily lick. I figured better safe than sorry. Kids aren’t likely to lick their dyed heads, so “safe for children” isn’t exactly the same as “safe for dogs”.

Charlie, Leo & Magic in line for dog show photo D StewartI found out the dye is indeed temporary and, even when dry, easily smudges when touched. So I had to keep retouching the smeared spots after people patted him. I finally learned to say “you’ll get dye on your hands if you touch the black spots”.

No Dalmatian Look-Alike Category

At the registration table for the dog show we’re told they’re not doing the Dalmatian look-alike contest this year. Years spent watching dogs in black-spotted t-shirts and Border Collies wearing firemen’s hats walking away with that special prize! Leo and I had no exhibition trick worked out, no Plan B. I knew we didn’t have a chance at “Cutest Dog” when I saw the Chihuahua in the little ballerina dress and silver booties.

The Chihuahua did win, as did a beautiful German Shepherd as “Older Dog” and a gorgeous little Dalmatian in the “Puppy” category. A Shepherd-Husky won “Best Trick” and a little Papillion won “Best Overall”.  We won only a lot of attention and oohs and ahhs. Leo was perfectly happy with that. Charlie went in au naturel, hoping for “Cutest Dog”. But even he can’t compete with a Chihuahua in a tutu.

I'm gonna wash that 'Dal' right outa my hair photo D Stewart Later, Leo got his spots washed out. Charlie watched, relieved that he was passed over for bath time.

First posted on my St. Thomas Dog Blog, Sept. 7, 2010.

Fire Muster

The Fire Muster is this coming weekend – Labour Day Saturday and Jack and judges, Fire Muster dog showSunday – in Pinafore Park, St. Thomas. A chance to see fire fighters, fire trucks old and new, classic cars, and dogs. There are always lots of dogs at the Fire Muster.

On Sunday afternoon, there’s a dog show. It started as a Dalmatian show, and there are still special prizes for Best Dalmatian and Best Dalmatian ‘wannabe’. Dogs wear costumes, do tricks or just walk across the stage. The first time our late dog Jack I won!entered, he won Best in Show. I don’t know who was proudest, us or him. Later, he happily rooted around in his prize hamper from Hartz.

From then on, every time we were at Pinafore, he wanted to walk across the bandshell stage. Strut across it, reliving his moment of glory. I’d sing “here she comes, Miss America” and Jack would look out over the cheering audience that only he could see. The year they tore the old bandshell down he was crestfallen. I took him to the new one at the back of the park, and he walked across it. But you could see it wasn’t the same for him.

Every year a contender

He lining up for the showentered the dog show every year. Never won again, but always enjoyed it. As soon as he’d see dogs heading for the registration table and lining up, he wanted to join them. Jack liked going to Pinafore Park any time of the year, but he would get especially excited when he’d see the ladies on the boot toll at the gate. He knew it was Fire Muster time!

For several years, my husband and I worked at the souvenir t-shirt booth. Jack loved being there, meeting and greeting dogs and people. One year, though, he Jack the muscle dogwasn’t really happy. We’d made him his own t-shirt. He didn’t like walking around like a canine advertisement. But in his black “muscle shirt”, he brought a lot of attention to the booth.

The new dogs, Leo and Charlie, were at last year’s Fire Muster for the first time. They both entered the dog show. Didn’t win, but they didn’t care.  They were happy with their participation gift treats.

See Spot the Fire Muster Dog for Leo and Charlie’s foray into competition. First published Aug. 31, 2010 on my St. Thomas Dog Blog