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Archive for the category “geekery”

Happy 20th X-Files!

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This is from xfilesnews – click on photo to read.   And I agree, thank you DD for the red speedos!

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Here I am, down here with Doc Martin …

Forgive me, I have disappeared into the bowels of Netflix – my, that’s a disgusting turn of phrase – but at its heart its true.  For the past month or so, on weekends I have run away to Portwenn, England with layovers in New York City to visit Sherlock and Tim Gunn.  Mmm hmm, yup … I have officially snapped.

I have been assisting in the total care of my mom now for over a year and I think my mind finally decided I needed a vacation.  Enter Doc Martin! Yes, that’s right Doc Martin.  After seeing one episode on my local PBS station, I went on Netflix and got lost in Portwenn for six seasons worth of shows.  I enjoyed the scenery, ensemble acting, the characters becoming each important in their own way much like in Northern Exposure, if anyone remembers the old CBS show.  Portwenn became a place to go to and have stories told me in the gentleness of the British seaside where my reality didn’t exist.  Plus I loved the ability of the good doctor to just tell people to shut up and get the hell out of the way.  Oh, to be able to do that in real life without consequences.  He is grumpy and not the most handsome of men, emotionally inarticulate and yet fun to watch.  And look they’re making more!!!

http://www.digitalspy.com/british-tv/news/a507888/doc-martin-series-six-itv-unveils-first-trailer.html

When I wasn’t in Portwenn, I was in New York City, Brooklyn to be exact, supplementing my fantasy life with heaping helpings of Elementary (CBS show).  Let it be known, that I am declaring my love for Jonny Lee Miller here and now for all the world to hear (Don’t worry Mr. Rickman, you’re still held fondly in my heart, now stand over their with Viggo).  I enjoy Elementary immensely – the relationship between Joan Watson and Holmes has grown and changed and is interesting to watch.  I obviously have always had a fascination for Holmes and Mr. Miller’s portrayal is second to only one man – I’m sorry but Basil Rathbone will always be Holmes to me, he being the one that introduced the character and the books to me.  But Jonny Lee Miller is a very close second.  His representation of Holmes is modern but still adheres to canon – he carries the humor and the humanity that Holmes was imbued with by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as well as the eccentricity, lack of social graces and penetrating talents that make Holmes who he is.  Mr. Miller’s performance is fun to watch – saying so much with just the slightest of eye movements. There is a childlike quality in some of his mannerisms and expressions that make him all the more endearing… okay I’m gushing here aren’t I.  Sorry.  Lucy Liu’s performance provides the perfect calmness of Watson to the stories.  Her character is a more of an equal partner to Holmes than the canonical Watson.  She does not merely stand around and say, wow, how’d you figure that one out – she actively participates and assists.  Here is video of the pilot episode where Holmes and Watson first meet – their dynamic changes throughout the show.

I think I’m going to have to buy a copy of the BBC’s Emma where Jonny Lee Miller plays Mr. Knightley, a very different character from Holmes.  Hopefully, that won’t send me careening into an Austen kick.  Actually while I like Austen, I’ve never been obsessive about her as I have been with Bronte or Doyle.

I was going to post a comparison with the BBC Sherlock but I’m opting out after seeing the mayhem and vitriolic hatred that having two good versions (altho’ I find Elementary is much more entertaining) of a modern-day Holmes available for enjoyment has engendered – particularly the Cumberbatch fans (not all of course) on Tumblr.  Makes you want to shake people and yell – Its two different interpretations – one does not take anything away from the other.  Here is a nice sane comparison of the two shows without drool or drama http://ohnotheydidnt.livejournal.com/79347119.html

Anyway, that’s where I’ve been – on a mental vacation.  Introverts like myself need alone time, down time, get the hell away from me and don’t ask me anything time.  I’ve enjoyed it.

What? I have to wait until when?

Continuing on my Sherlock Holmes ramblings … Please be aware that there will be spoilers for CBS’ Elementary and the BBC’s Sherlock below ….

As stated in the previous post, Holmes, Watson and I go way back. Watching Elementary on CBS rekindled that friendship.

Disclaimer: The opinions herein are completely subjective. I decided to take a look at the recent round of modern Holmeses (not sure what the plural should be – Holmesi?) on t.v.(Elementary and Sherlock) and just for my own fun, critique what works or doesn’t work for me. Truth be told, I started with a strong bias as I am thoroughly smitten with Jonny Lee Miller’s Holmes.

So, being familiar with Elementary, I set about watching the BBC Sherlock series. I did so reluctantly. I had formed an adverse opinion without watching the program mainly because of the lead actor. I had been aware of Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock for quite some time but just the look of Mr. Cumberbatch had put me off watching the series. He does not fit my image of Holmes.* As I’ve stated many times, I’m shallow. I finally sat myself down to watch episode 1, season 1 of Sherlock on Netflix.*

The opening with Watson was a great way to ease into the show. I was taken in by Martin Freeman’s Watson. He has the look of Everyman and the sincerity of his Watson won me over. My first impression of BC’s Holmes was not as favorable. He looked too pale, too thin, too young and a bit effeminate in my estimation. But I watched the whole episode mainly because of Watson and Mycroft. I wanted to see more of them. The Mycroft character was a surprise. I wanted to see how the Watson and Mycroft characters interacted with the over the top character of Holmes. I enjoyed the detail of Dr. Watson’s military service in the current war in Afghanistan — the literary Watson having served in the Second Anglo-Afghan War. This John Watson comes in fully formed – we immediately understand who he is, the military medical background and his problems adjusting to civilian life, something not uncommon in this age on both sides of the Atlantic. He is quiet, patient, responsible, just the man you’d want as a companion on an adventure and a wonderful counterpoint to the manic Holmes.

BC’s Holmes comes across at first as a gifted petulant adolescent – boorish to the point of having no charm. I still wasn’t convinced nor did I strongly connect with Holmes but I soldiered on through the three episodes of season 1. They got better as they went along but what sold me on watching season two? Moriarty! What a great performance by Andrew Scott! Funny and creepy at the same time, completely believable as the arch-nemisis. Had me busting out laughing one moment and cringing the next. Season two was better than one in my opinion. Cumberbatch seems to have mellowed Holmes’ manias. His Holmes’ character is a study of a man who suffers from bipolar disorder to a certain extent but you begin to see that there is a feeling human being in there among the Asperger-liker quirks. And so I came to the end of season two shouting – what! I have to wait until when to see the next episode!!

What I don’t care for in the BBC series is the use of graphics and words to try to interpret what Holmes is seeing or thinking. We don’t need that. It’s distracting and the actors are good enough to suggest all that through their craft. I also thought some of the story plots contorted themselves in order to put a new spin on the literary plots. In the Hound of Baskerville story I fully expected to see Scully and Mulder emerging from the mist wielding their flashlights. The whole H.O.U.N.D. thing was a bit silly. What really worked in the episode was the Watson Holmes interaction.

Interestingly enough, what caught my imagination as a child – the solving of cases through sheer observation and intelligence is not what intrigues me as an adult. I still love the puzzle solving but I am much more interested in the characters themselves and their interactions and motivations.

I’ve rambled something fierce, I’ll try to be more coherent in the next post on Elementary.
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*Before you bring it up, yes, Robert Downey, Jr.’s Holmes does not really fit into my Holmesian stereotype either but I made allowances for him because he is attractive, funny and charming and Guy Ritchies’ Holmes movies are at their heart comedies which gives them more latitude.

*By the way, I have also been slowly won over by the convenient charms of Netflix, but more on that some other time.

Announcing a new obsession!

Or perhaps better stated, the rekindling of an old obsession ….. Sherlock Holmes! Tah dah duh DAH! ….. Hmmm … Well, that was rather anti-climatic reveal then, wasn’t it.

I have previously written here of my love of Holmes in his many incarnations. Yes, I tend to fall in love with fictional characters. I loved Snape and Aragorn long before I saw Mr. Rickman and Mr. Mortensen’s portrayal of each respective character (I then, of course, became fans of their work after the fact). The same can be said of Henry Higgins (Pygmalion was my introduction into that great character). Holmes (and Mr. Rochester), however, I fell into backwards. I saw Basil Rathbone’s interpretation of Sherlock Holmes first and then ran down to the library and started reading and reading and then took to walking into rooms and “deducing” much to the annoyance of my brother. I was most often wrong but it didn’t stop me. I was the wrong gender, the wrong age, the wrong nationality and living in a different time but I so strongly identified with Holmes that all that didn’t matter. I think that speaks to the strength of Doyle’s characters. As we’ve seen lately, they can be plunked into modern society quite easily and hit the ground running so to speak.

This renewed Sherlockian fit was jump started by Jonny Lee Miller’s Holmes on Elementary. I caught an episode of Elementary on a friend’s recommendation and I became intrigued (oh let’s be honest, I fangirled, I squee’d and I started googling). If you are not familiar with this interpretation of Holmes, he is brought into our time with a female Watson (Lucy Liu) at his side. I thought I would have a problem with the liberties taken, but I did not. The BBC’s version of Sherlock (also brought into the 21st century) was my next move. Here we have a more traditional Watson – Martin Freeman (aka, Bilbo Baggins). His exemplary interpretation of the role caused me to realize what a great character he is in his own right. Being our man in the story so to speak, it is easy to trivialize Watson’s role as we wait wide-eyed to be amazed at Holme’s deductions. But Watson, ex-military doctor, calm, tolerant, is what allows Holmes to shine.

The Holmes/Watson dynamic works regardless of gender or time period. I dare say, it might even work with two females in the roles. So, should you be a reader of this blog, be aware that there might (or might not, depending on what the real world hands me) be prolonged comparisons, criticisms and ramblings in general about the goings on at 221B Baker Street in its many manifestations in the near future.

Baseball and Quantum Mechanics

This baseball season I have been performing an experiment.

Background:  The Orioles are my team of choice, the choice having been made so much easier by Cal Ripken’s baby blues, his talent, stellar work ethic and well just his ethics in general – I fell for Cal and then became an Orioles fan. For many years, a friend of mine (he came to his Oriole fan status honestly, i.e., he was born in Maryland) complained that any time I started watching an Orioles game, the Orioles would begin a downward descent and even tho’ they had been ahead, boom – they would lose.  I began to believe it. I’m gullible.  Plus, I too noticed when I was watching games by myself that the Orioles lost more often than not.  Now yes, I hear you, the Orioles have stunk up the joint all on their own for quite a few years … many, many years to be honest, and more than likely it had nothing at all to do with me watching their games or keeping track of their stats …. but what if…..

This season, I decided to apply quantum theory to my baseball viewing. To be clear, I don’t understand quantum physics, quantum mechanics, and just physics on any level other than a layman’s type understanding – a purple crayon on white paper type understanding if you will. I know enough to have heard of the uncertainty principle and/or the observer effect (I confuse the two) – the act of observation will alter the particle being observed. (here are some links –
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncertainty_principle
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Observer_effect_(physics)
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=living-in-a-quantum-world

Yes, technically, this theory applies to teeny, tiny, itsy-bitsy little particles and not grown men in caps and cleats, but I was desperately tired of watching the O’s lose. And so, I stopped observing.  I stopped watching the Orioles’ games, stopped reading baseball news, stopped visiting MLB websites, don’t even know who is on the team this year. The only information I have gotten about how the team is doing is by occasionally hearing from co-workers who’ll come up and say, hey, how about those O’s, huh? To which I will then allow myself a bit of second hand or third hand information.

You think me mad? Yeah, I probably am.  But if the Orioles end up with a winning season (which was really all I ever wanted from them) for the first time in god only knows how many years, can I then declare this experiment a success? And more importantly, when can I start watching again – because it is kind of a bummer to think that they maybe are doing well and I have not gotten to enjoy one bit of it.

Here are some gratuitous links just that blow my teeny brain –

http://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2012/0906/Quantum-teleportation-distance-record-broken

http://www.livescience.com/15024-quantum-mechanics-particle-measurement-action-disturbance.html

I’m not a Slytherin …..

Well, I finally took a little time and visited Pottermore.  To be honest, I was not overly impressed by the interactive quality of the first few chapters.  I experienced first hand what Thorn has been posting about – the load time is slow even on a fast internet connection (I’m at work … don’t judge me and please don’t say anything).  It was not as slow as Ms. Harefoot’s dial-up but still not the quality that I expect from any online game.  The movement through the chapter graphics should have been zippy but instead was a bit sluggish.  At one point, I even gave up on JK’s video message – it just wouldn’t load.  The speed seems to be a bit better now that I’ve received my wand and have been sorted.

I was chosen by a 10 inch Elm wand with a Phoenix feather core – flexibility, unyielding.   What House was I sorted into you ask?  Well, I was 100% truthful in my answers to the Sorting Hat.  I was tempted to slant my answers to land in Slytherin, but I didn’t – which shows you right there that  I’m not really Slytherin material.   I came up a Ravenclaw.  The House description actually really fits my personality – or what I would like people to think is my personality.  Deep down inside I’m probably a Hufflepuff  pretending to be intellectually inquisitive just to be nice and make people happy.

My advice to any new Pottermore students is to plow through the slow bits at the very beginning.  It gets better as you go along and the background information that Rowling provides is quite interesting.  I’ve found the short essays about why wizards and witches dress the way they do informative and was quite spellbound (ha, sorry) by the story of Minerva’s parents and her early life.

I’m waiting to see if some of the questions that I’ve had since the very beginning of the books are addressed — Why do the wizards and witches celebrate Christmas?  Are there Christian witches and Muslim witches and Hindu witches and Jewish witches? What about wizards and witches outside of the European sphere of influence – what traditions do they hold? Are they tied to the  European wizarding world or are say, Australian or South American wizards, a world onto themselves?  When Voldemort was threatening, was it just England/Europe he was threatening – or the whole wizarding world?  And if so, why weren’t they doing their bit to stop old Voldy? Do I need to get a life and think about more important things?  Nah…..

As for Pottermore, I got as far as trying to brew a potion  (which blew up – the cauldron was too hot) when I decided perhaps I’d best go on to other more Muggle-related tasks.  I’ll have to see how the site fairs on my home computer.

I’m not sure how the friending thing works on Pottermore or what purpose it has, but I’m LumosMoon4165.  They provided me with that name which I thought was oddly fitting for AMoonShadow, que no?

Shadows of the night

I’m surprised by my reaction to this:

I’ve been looking forward to Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows. Yes, I was a teenage nerd – still am a teenage nerd although my outward appearance might lead you to believe I’m someone’s grandma (I’m not BTW).

While watching the trailer for the first time I was surprised and somewhat dismayed at the irreverent tone – the comedic veneer that Mr. Burton set on top of my teenage vampire story. The makeup on Barnabas is unreal, his hair absurd, the dialogue over the top …. and, and ……. and then it hit me, and I became dismayed at my own dismay. I started remembering my Dark Shadows as it truly was. It was loveable shlock. It was never great art in any sense. The effects were cheesy (the burning of Trask’s Worthington Hall consisted of a cardboard cutout and a couple of matches from what I remember). The writing, while engaging as a soap opera for teenagers at that time, was uhm, oh lets find a nice word for it … haphazard … sometimes it was inventive and even poetic but most of the time it was redundant and slow. The acting could be over the top melodramatic a la Lithgow’s Master Thespian one day and the next day you were watching actors stumble through their lines or try to ignore pieces of makeup latex that had come unglued and fluttered as they emoted.

BUT with all that said, I loved Dark Shadows. I ran home after school to watch it. I loved Quentin Collins and creepy old Barnabas. Burton must have loved it also ’cause from the above trailer you see detail that only someone who watched the show as a kid would pick up on. I can only imagine that all the little Twilight ‘tweeners in about 30 or 40 years (omg sob I am old) will be going through an experience similar to mine when Edward and Jacob are reincarnated in all their glittery and shirtless glory.

I remember running around trying to find the 45 to this – Quentin’s Theme:
Click here

And there’s nothing I can do….

I finally had the MRI on Friday – my first one. It wasn’t too bad. I was taken to a nice sized room where the MRI was the focal point – clean lines, modernist, minimalist decor. I didn’t have the hearing aids nor the glasses on so I was almost the female equivalent of Tommy as they led me to the machine. Being positioned in it was akin to being placed in a Mercury Capsule minus the window although it actually had more the look of something from 2001 A Space Odyssey. I had a cage/mask put over my head so I wouldn’t move around too much I suppose. Made me feel a little Hannibal Lecterish. They asked me what music I would like to listen to (to drown out the noise the machine makes). I chose classical. Unfortunately it sounded like a badly tuned radio station – I think that might have had a lot to do with my hearing, or lack thereof, and the jackhammer rattling noise the MRI itself makes.
I was well prepared for all of this by my sister who has MS and has had many an MRI – she claims to find them relaxing. But then she also has a five year old and almost 9 year old at home and MRIs are probably the few occasions she has to nap.
Technically I had two MRIs. One was au naturelle and the other was after I was injected with radioactive waste of some sort that, as my sister puts it, lights up your brain like a Christmas tree. All in all took about an hour. At one point I did have a mild feeling of panic sweep over me as I started thinking about where I was and had no control and what if the MRI operator out there had a stroke or something and the building caught fire and …. And I took a deep breathe and told myself “you’ve always wanted to go up in space – this may be as close as you get.” And I took a breath and listened to the rattling and thought about other things including the mix tape I would make for myself should I ever have to do one of these again. It would start off with David Bowie’s Major Tom (Space Oddity) and include some of the 2001 soundtrack, maybe Pinball Wizard followed by Rocket Man, and the Talking Heads And She Was, and ending with another rendition of Major Tom or perhaps the Eels, Last Stop This Town.

I await the results. Who knows what they’ll find inside my head … If anything but cobwebs and an old 45 of Davey Jones Mickey Dolenz (!) singing “I’m a Believer.”  Please excuse the error – I can’t believe I dissed Micky that way – it must have been some remnant of the radioactive waste still floating around my brain.

Mr. Rochester broods …

As I wrote about in a previous post, I’ve been reading Jane Eyre as of late and for better or worse, George C. Scott is my image of Mr. Rochester. I created the image below for myself I was playing with screen caps from the video available on YouTube and started manipulating the images with Photoshop. I had all sorts of enhancements on the image at certain points in its development – red strings from ribs, written quotes about tears dropping from the lash, etc. But the embellishments didn’t really seem to add much to the feeling of the image and looked a tad art school gimmicky. So here it is. I know it is an acquired taste to have George C. as Edward and the image has limited appeal. If you like it, take it, give credit if you can and if you want a small card of the image just click on it and go to the store and purchase it.

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Jane, George and me

It has been over a month since the last post, so I thought perhaps I would start the year out doing something productive – if blogging can be considered productive. I swore the first thing I’d do when I got back from the trip to back to NYC to see Alan Rickman in Seminar would be to chronicle the experience. But a whirlwind of Christmas and family and work and business came at me as I stepped off the plane and rather took the oomph out of my sails. And since I am at heart undisciplined (sounds so much nicer than “lazy” which is what I truly am), I have yet to tackle the Seminar/Rickman/New York at Christmas post, but I will … soon … really … but first …. I feel compelled to write about something else. Please don’t feel obligated to read the rest of this post, particularly if you have never read Jane Eyre and/or were not a dorky teenager in the early ‘70s with a crush on George C. Scott. That’s right, you read it right, George C. Scott – save the mockery for later please…

I first read Jane Eyre at about 14 years of age, maybe 13. I was obsessed with the book and the story. I came to it in a roundabout way – I saw the made for television version starring George C. Scott and Susannah York and was enthralled. I’ve always tended towards the gothy side (yes, I too, like Messrs. Depp and Burton, ran home to catch Dark Shadows on the telly). And my lord, Mr. Rochester, as portrayed by George C. sent my proto-goth head spinning. Off I staggered to the library upon seeing this to get the “whole” story. The book proved to be much more beautifully angsty than the television movie (obviously) and Bronte’s prose style was completely new to my 1970’s teenage sensibilities. Dear reader, I was hooked. I didn’t come up for air until I finished it (altho’ I will admit to a tiny bit of skimming on the “SintJin” parts).

[Flashforward] On the airplane coming back from NY, surprisingly not really interested in watching “Our Idiot Brother,” I started reading passages from Jane Eyre that I had downloaded to the iPad. The attic door was cracked opened but as I said, when I stepped off the plane, life came at me and I had little time for reading – until Christmas night when I picked up the book once more and then it all swooped in on me from out of the past. I found myself right back to the darkened hall, lit by my spluttering candle, listening to the screams and waiting for Mr. Rochester. I will spare you my analysis of the book (for now), but I did come to realize, under all the emotion and turmoil that drew me to the book, Jane Eyre was a great role model for a young girl. She stuck to her beliefs, she didn’t back down and she made her own way in the world. There is one exchange in the book and I’m paraphrasing ’cause I’m too lazy to go find the passage or uh, undisciplined that’s the word I meant to use, … anyway, Rochester is trying to basically convince Jane to live with him in sin or as near an approximation of sin as they had at the time, that no one would care or know, and she states, “But I would.” Good girl Jane – frankly then and now, I would be throwing my few belongings in a bag and following him out the door. Along with being lazy, I have no moral fortitude.

Still with me? Wow – I thought you would have given up reading this way up there at the “SintJin” part. Okay, continuing then….

The book also took me back to the burly arms of Mr. Scott. I had not seen the movie in many, many years. Since I was already on the iPad I googled the movie and found it to be available in I believe 9 easy segments on YouTube. Well, while I still love George C. as Edward Rochester – he was the first so therefore my definitive Rochester – I couldn’t say the same about the production. Susannah York was way, way way too old to be playing Jane and had a little too much worldly confidence. The ending was so anticlimactic I’m sure something must be missing from this version. So, obsessive/compulsive as I am, off I started to view (insert fanfare) – every Jane Eyre/Mr. Rochester combination available on YouTube to see which was truly the best version of this book. Do you have any idea how many versions of this book have been staged cinematically? I skipped Orson Welles’ version – I’d seen that long ago and while a good movie it was not Jane Eyre. I went through several BBC mini series versions, one with Toby Stephens, another with Tim Dalton and the new movie with Fassbender that just came out. I know, I know, a little obsessive. While I liked all the different Rochester’s for different reasons, I still liked Mr. Scott’s portrayal the best. But as to the best rendition of the book, I’d have to say it was the Timothy Dalton 1983 version that seemed the most accurate (altho’ I really didn’t care for Jane in that one). The most romantic was the 2006 version – zowie, but not faithful to the book. And one does want Jane Eyre to be faithful does one not?

Okay – I’m rambling at this point because I seriously doubt you followed me to the depths of this post so the rest is for me. Should you read this, don’t repeat it – I still love George C. Scott; his smile makes me happy. Watching him in Jane Eyre made me remember him in Beauty and the Beast, another movie that does not stand up to memory but his performance was exceptional and then that took me to “They Might Be Giants” (the movie, not the band). (All conveniently available on YouTube.) They Might Be Giants is a flawed movie but George C. Scott’s and Joanne Woodward’s abilities shine through to make you care about their Holmes and Watson. Scott was no pretty boy, but he had a manly charisma and the ability that all actors should have, that of embodying their character wholeheartedly. What I have referenced is admittedly not Scott’s best work – Dr. Strangelove, Patton, The Hospital, etc. are his best work. But his work in these films inspired me and took me into hallways where I never expected to find myself.

Thats it for now, but be warned, this blog may be visited soon by more analysis of Jane Eyre, the book, and Jane Eyre on film and perhaps a smidge more on George just cause I don’t think I’ve gotten all this out of my system yet.

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