who the heck knows anything, anyway

Monday, November 22, 2010

Don't Pick a Prickly Pear with the Paw

My past twenty four hours have been a bit stressful. First, the bus that was going to take me to the train station passed me by. Daniel and I had to frantically call around for a ride. Thankfully, Jared came through and I got to the station in the nick of time. I had just settled down with my books and a cup of tea, when, two minutes out of Tukwila*, the electricity on the train goes out and we screech to a halt. Forty-five minutes later, it is confirmed that there was "an incident with a trespasser on the rails." I have never been in such close proximity to death before, let alone death caused by the vehicle I was riding in. The crew was great (they handled it really well), but most of the passengers were being so blase about it--it was really distressing. All their jokes about body parts in bags and oh-this-is-soooo-inconvenient really got to me. I still feel pretty off today. My initial reaction was to keep it abstract, like I was watching a TV show (this may be some form of dissociation); every time I caught myself thinking about the violent-death part, felt my pulse quicken and my chest get tight, I pushed it off and read some more viking lit. Like I said, today, I feel a little off still. Probably didn't help that I got home at 12:45am.

Then, this morning, some genius decided that Portland should put chains on all of its buses, making them 20 minutes late. I did not realize this until I was on a bus going 25 mph on a 50mph street.** I missed class because of it. Stupid Portland--it has only just started snowing, like, right now. And, to add insult to injury, it is snowing everywhere except for my house.

However, due to my resilience, and these awesome videos, I felt a lot better.

last, but not least, BILL NYE, explaining the effects of El NiƱo:

*equivalent to about 20 minutes south of Seattle
**I just thought my usual bus was insanely late, but it turns out every bus was

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Things I Have Learned Today

this term is trying to break me
-- Vikings are kind of hard to research. Why is this? Also, I should learn how to read subtext. See image to the right.

-- I can only be in the Blue Room at Powells for .4 seconds before I find something I want and, consequently, buy. I went to Powells needing two books on vikings. I left with two books on vikings, two hardcover editions of classics (The Odyssey and Treasure Island, of course), and Colum McCann's book Let the Great World Spin. Oops!

--Earlier today, I jokingly mentioned that I should have looked in a Law section for books relevant to my Icelandic Saga research paper (on "good" men, as perceived by the law and by society). I should have actually checked. Turns out Powells has "U of M Icelandic #03: Laws of Early Iceland, Volume 1: Gragas I" in their General Law section. Ok, so it's actually in their warehouse, but it's generally with the law books. Maybe I should check out the law section some time. I hear dueling was outlawed at the beginning of the eleventh century*.

--It's Wednesday.

*truth. Want to know why? Because all of the able-bodied viking men were killing each other over (a) ladies and (b) insults/blood feud stuff, so the population was at serious risk of, well, not existing.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sherlock, Revisited

Disclaimer: I did not watch the second episode of this three-part season. However, I watched the first and even went so far as to take a few notes on the third. Hopefully that makes up for my lack of available time!

Episode 1 - A Study In Scarlet:
Summary: Disappointed
Explication: When we get right down to it, I just don't like this particular modernized version of Sherlock Holmes. It's been done before, and it's been done better (Ex: House and Bones--the latter being my own comparison, whereas the prior is self-admittedly based upon Doyle's work). But, I thought to myself, perhaps it just suffers from Pilot-Episode-itis? Or maybe it's actually a good show on it's own? If I were to imagine I had never read Sherlock Holmes--if Doyle had never invented him to begin with--would this show be intriguing?


Before I dig in too hard, I will repeat that I love Martin Freeman. He's lovely in this show, most definitely my favorite. He's quite Watsony, actually. More so in the third episode, too, which gives me hope (character development/growth/evolution is good!). But, back to it:

The plot was unbelievable and boring. Serial killers are boring. Apparently, they're the only thing that's interesting to modern viewers, though, because every show involving crime has to have serial killers. Aside from that point, which I find frustrating enough, his motivation was dumb. Maybe some people just become killers in their old age because they're angry and on the verge of death, etc, but do you really just kill people willy nilly? I don't know. Seems implausible to me. Also, Stephen Moffat really likes a particular kind of villain. 

But let's get into Holmes' character! The best part of any rendition of Sherlock Holmes is seeing how The World's Greatest Detective is going to be portrayed. I've had a variety of experiences with castings (Sherlocks I Love: Vasiliy Livanov, Rupert Everett; Like Quite a Bit: Jeremy Brett; Super Don't Like: Basil Rathbone*), and I find Benedict Cumberbatch** to be firmly in the category of Angry, With a Side of Matt Smith. Not my favorite approach. I'll leave it at that.

Now that I'm thoroughly bored of Episode 1, let's skip to 3! (which I remember better, having just watched it!)

Episode 3 - The Great Game
Summary: Bored
First, these are the notes I took (transcribed verbatim) while watching, so I wouldn't forget everything the way I did with the first episode:
-how is a smiley face comparable to VR? come on.
-stop with the gay jokes, seriously
-calling it: Moriarty
-set designer has great taste in wallpaper
-cute ode to "Baskervilles" w/ tennis shoes
-crimes aren't actually interesting
-violated one of my rules of TV! - SHOT AN OLD LADY. BOO.
-I love Watson's sweater. 
-I should buy Daniel more Watson sweaters.
-wtf is up with this fight scene? I'm having a seizure 
-called it: Moriarty
-aside: did they want me to think Watson was Moriarty? because that failed really hard.

As you can see, my favorite things had pretty much zero to do with the episode. Oops! And thanks for the bad pacing*** and predictable plot. And the cliffhanger ending. We know he's not going to die here, unless this is randomly an Homage To The Waterfall, Because There Happens to Be a Pool, And Both Are Made of Water. And he doesn't actually die there, anyways, because that made Victoria rather upset to think about (hooray VR!). So there's no suspense happening at all. Maybe unless you've never heard of Sherlock Holmes. Maybe. Maaaaaaybe.

This is the problem here. I think the trick with Sherlock Holmes is to either go canon or go crazy. I mean, Guy Ritchie made the right choice: Keep it old school, make it sexy, and allude to old cases, but give us something new. It wasn't my favorite Holmes ever, and the case was a bit weak, but it was exciting and funny and sexy--i.e. a bit different. Making it present day is risky, because if you don't present the old cases in a new way, you're just using the name recognition as a cheap way to assume you don't have to establish the characters. 

Enter, House MD--brilliant execution of the old characters (under slightly adapted names) solving new cases. Granted, I haven't watched House in a few seasons now, but it was fantastic when it started. It was a stand-alone series that only got better when you caught the allusions--but if you never caught them, it didn't matter, because the show was still great. Plus, Vicodin addiction? So good! Nicotine patches? Really boring. Yes, they alluded to harder drugs when the police showed up in the first episode, but House's Vicodin problem is visible and legit without freaking everyone out over heroin. Skillful storytelling, not PC bologna.

Sherlock is trying to be sort-of canon. Good effort, I suppose, but unimpressive execution. I think Daniel and I won this one when we decided Moffat's best bet would have been to make Watson into the Doctor's companion for a season and basically make Sherlock Holmes In the Future****.

For a much better review (I am not as gifted with the TV vocabulary as I am with the literary variety, but this person essentially says all the things I was trying to) click here

Good grief. I can't wait to start reading books again!

*Maybe he's a good, quintessential Sherlock, but he's a dick to Watson (who, by the way, they scripted to be a total idiot. Please see Kate Beaton's comics for further elaboration on why this makes no sense), and I can't make myself sit through it
**He does get points for having an awesome name. Like, woah.
***This may be because Moffat didn't write this episode. Did they hire the guy who wrote that awful Dalek episode from last season of Doctor Who?? Because that would definitely explain it.
****Liiiiike, with jetpacks

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Turn On Burn On

I need to blow this popsicle stand.

This crops up every now and again. The restlessness; that trapped, explosive feeling in my heart. School is no longer fulfilling. Sigh. I could say that a million times. Enough of the busy work, the sleepless nights for no reward. I want to read books again. I want cigarettes and a roof to climb on.

Good thing I'm moving soon, eh?

But, being that this is my current mood, I thought I'd share to two of my favorite Poet/Novelists.When in doubt, I turn to my first true literary loves.

*Note, I only used a very small excerpt from Plath's journal. Most of it actually sounded a lot more like how I'm feeling, but I didn't want to (a) focus on the negative or (b) compare my state of mind to Sylvia Plath's, because that never works out very well. Ha. However, I would highly recommend her Unabridged Journals (from 1950-1962)! They are...revelatory.

Jack Kerouac:
November 4, 1947:
"I had to go out and walk in the rain in N.Y. and rage around with my friends. We smashed recordings of Mozart over our heads, I and the daemonic one. We got drunk. I came out of it beautifully, remembering the simple beauty of life, and came home."

Sylvia Plath:
November 4, 1959:
"Pleasant dream of return to London: renting a room with the bed in a garden of daffodils, waking to soils smells and bright yellow flowers. The Doers intrigue me. I would be one of them."

For good measure, here's a Bukowski poem!:

my fate

like the fox
I run with the hunted
and if I'm not
the happiest man
on earth
I'm surely the
luckiest man