Nostalgia, DVDs, old movies, television, OTR, fandom, good news and bad, picks, pans,
cute budgie stories, cute terrier stories, and anything else I can think of.
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» Sunday, April 27, 2014It Won't Rain on My Festival
Sleeping late, a true Sunday blessing! Strange dreams, though; not nightmares, but as always odd.
We had to rush a bit when we got up to be able to get to the Spring Jonquil Festival in enough time before it opened so that we could find a close parking space (James' arthritis has been acting up badly; he had to use a cane to walk again today) and so we could get there before it really got hot. So we parked behind the library and sat in the shade near the playground for a few minutes until all the booths opened.
We still got pretty warm walking, but at least there was a nice breeze to help. We were surprised to find Ginny's Fudge there; you don't usually see them in the spring, and so our fudge desserts are usually in the fall. We bought ten squares, and also some dip mixes from another booth, and some small bottles of differently flavored honey from yet a third. The Greyhound rescue people were there, and someone also had a sweet Italian greyhound who came to me begging to be petted. (A bunch of other interesting dogs there today, including two lovely German Shepherds with nice straight backs, a pit bull puppy, and a wonderfully fuzzy terrier.)
Before I spent a lot more money, though, I had to go check out the books at the library sale on the other side of the traffic circle. Not as many novelties as the last time, but I got a Christmas almanac-type book, plus another about Christmas in Moravian communities, and a book by Phyllis Whitney about writing young adult fiction. The Button Girl was there as well, so I picked up a bunch of different buttons for friends.
Finally on the way out we picked up some Williamson barbecue for supper, and got James a bowl of red beans and rice along with jambalaya for lunch. I had two chicken "drummettes" left over and had them with some bread for lunch, and finished work on the laptop. Also took my car to the gas station for a fill-up. Next thing we knew it was suppertime, and in succession Father Brown, the news, BBC America's Science Fiction, Cosmos, and The Bletchley Circle. (I miss Anna Maxwell Martin).
Now watching the news where they're talking about more storms this week. Lovely. More liquid stupidity falling from the sky.
» Saturday, April 26, 2014A Hairy Time With Windows
"Hair Day" at last! But first we had to get up early after being up really late last night.
Sadly, after all that we didn't make it to the Farmer's Market. Downtown was choked with cars; there was an Artists' Market as well, and I think Taste of Marietta was today. So no chicken salad for James; we just went on to Kroger to pick up some proper mandarin oranges and two bags of Skinny Pop, plus some mini-cinnamon rolls for a breakfast treat. James got a couple of breakfast biscuits, too.
Hair Day was the usual fun. Charles is thinking of going to New England on vacation this year, so we were throwing suggestions at him. Lin showed us Neil's new videos. Colin has a job interview! We had a delicious lunch as well. Juanita brought barbecue chicken legs, we brought the Bear Creek chicken noodles we discovered last week, Lin made two types of baked beans, Shannon brought fruit, and Terica bread, and Charles brought doughnuts for breakfast, and Phyllis made a spinach dip. We were stuffed by the time we left after two. After bringing the leftovers home, we went back to Costco. I really wanted James to see the enormous Dell "tablet" they had. It's the size of a TV tray; you sure won't be tucking that thing under your arm. It had Windows 8 on it and while I got to the desktop and the files, I still never figured out how you got to your apps. Strange. We walked about the store to get some post-prandial exercise. Anyway, I bought two of the mini-SD cards on sale, and some 90-calorie lemon squares for James. We also got gasoline there because it was 17 cents cheaper than any other gas station, and purchased a new carbon dioxide canister for the Soda Stream. By the time we finished it was after five o'clock. Still full from lunch, we had dessert at Bruster's and came home.
I have spent five hours of this evening updating my laptop to Windows 7. I bought a new battery for it earlier this week, and downloaded the instructions to do it from Lenovo's website. I did a clean install and then was supposed to install some Lenovo drivers, but the whole laptop works fine without them, so I see no need to install them. All those ThinkVantage "accessories" were a nuisance sometimes. I will miss Diskeeper, though. After installing Win7, there were 147 Windows updates, then thirteen more Windows updates, and in the meantime I installed Microsoft Security Essentials, Firefox and my favorite add-ons and bookmarks, my old copy of Paint Shop Pro (version five), my web authoring tools, and WordPerfect (of course). One does not simply have a laptop without WP. :-)
Whiled away the boring hours waiting through those Windows updates by watching this week's Growing Up Fisher, This Old House, Flipping Boston, and finally Elementary, which ended with a cliffhanger! Arrrgh!
» Friday, April 25, 2014Flaky
I told James that sometimes I feel like a clock that's run down, and I can't find the key to wind myself up again. I've been down like this since Willow died, and I think a lot about Schuyler as well. I love Snowy, but I miss my funny little hen. I get misty-eyed at the least thing and sometimes wake up finding I've been crying.
Still, it's my last Friday off for two weeks, so I wasn't going to sit around feeling sorry for myself. I simply just don't know what to do about the melancholia.
It was a bit of a frustrating morning. I stopped at Publix for some French bread and granola bars for lunches, then went off to the mall. I got to the door to discover that it wasn't ten o'clock yet; the mall wasn't open! So I went across the street to Barnes & Noble, intending to buy the second Kate Shackleton mystery novel, only to realize I'd left my coupons at home. Gah. Back to the mall for needed lens cleaner; they were half off, so I bought two. I also had a Hallmark coupon, so I walked down to the card shop and picked up a surprise to put away for Jessie and Aubrey's 21st birthdays.
Then it was time for Costco. I needed milk, mushrooms, and mandarin oranges, and just to spoil the alliteration, trash bags. I also wanted to look for some Skinny Pop, because those tiny bags they sell in Kroger last about three days. Despite the fact that Costco was the one who introduced us to Skinny Pop about two months ago, now they are no longer carrying it. This hacks me off because I have a lot of trouble eating popcorn, but this kind is so tender, light, and lightly salted that it doesn't bother me, and they kept the popcorn with the dippy name, "Boom-Chicka-Pop" which is as tough, chewy and salty as stale movie theatre popcorn. Plus they no longer carry brand-name mandarin oranges, but have a house brand now. This wouldn't be bad except for the fact that their house brand is packed in light syrup rather than juice! Will you tell me in all the name that is holy why fruit must be packed in syrup? It's already sweet!
Stopped to look for something at Aldi, but it wasn't there, so headed home. Dumped two movies off the DVR because I realized I really didn't want to watch them. Listened to some BBC drama.
Also had to cope with a problem: for the past two weeks, my small tablet that I use basically as a reader has been losing its charge really rapidly. Last Sunday, for instance, we were having a drink at Starbuck's and the battery points dropped by 20 in ten minutes of reading. I would take it off the charger and ten minutes later it would be down to 83 percent, and five minutes later down to 63, etc. I finally logged onto a Galaxy Tab forum and asked if anyone had any suggestions. The only one was that I should do a complete reset, which I'd already thought of. So this afternoon, that's what I did; I took the SD card out of it and completely reset it. Well, I hadn't had it off the charger for five minutes before I did the reset and the battery started to die in the middle of the reset. I plugged it back in, completed the reset and left it to charge, which apparently only took ten minutes. I took it off the charger and in thirty-one minutes the battery indicator went from 100 percent to 1 and it turned itself off. I plugged it in, and ten minutes later it again said it was charged, but when I turned it on, it was only at 12 percent. So I shut it off and left it, figuring the battery was dead and there was nothing I could do.
So James came home, we had supper at Firehouse Subs, and then we went to Barnes & Noble, since I did have the coupons with me this time. Now I'd been thinking: I pretty much only use the small tab for reading. And the new Nook HDs are full Android tablets, with access to the Google Play store. I could download the Kindle app to read the freebie Kindle books I have. Why not just get the Nook HD? So I did. And a nice cover for it, too.
We came home and after we changed clothes, I gave the small tablet a last pat and turned it on. To my surprise, it was still charging and had just reached 98 percent. I took it off the charger, and started playing with it, re-installing apps I had on it previously, reading Facebook, etc. In ten to fifteen minutes, it only lost 3 points on the battery. So I took it out in the living room with me and downloaded Nook books, and Kindle books, and turned off apps I didn't need, and finally because I didn't know what to else to do with it, I watched three episodes of Lassie off YouTube, and then went back into Facebook and just let it sit. It's been on over three hours and just got down to 20 percent.
So. Beats me. I haven't touched the Nook and it can just stay in the bag with the cover till I see which way the wind blows. But...very strange.
» Sunday, April 20, 2014He is Risen!
It was a nice Easter day. We slept late and had a leisurely breakfast, and then in the afternoon we made a quick run to Kroger because we needed mushrooms and a newspaper, and then went to Barnes & Noble for a nice walk about and a treat.
Thankfully I was able to get a book review done as well.
For supper we had luscious ham marinated in pineapple juice, Yukon Gold potatoes with butter, and sweet corn on the cob. Everything was wonderful.
And of course some of a Lindt dark chocolate bunny for dessert with a Call the Midwife chaser. On to Cosmos (and later The Bletchley Circle). Nothing better for Easter than tears, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and mystery. :-)
» Saturday, April 19, 2014We Belong in the Zoo
So we had a fun late morning and early afternoon with some guests! Jen Waters' sister Meggan, her husband Jason, and their little girl Jonna (turned a year old two days ago) were doing a quickie trip to Atlanta over the weekend to attend a wedding on Saturday night. They got in late last night and I got a message to call them when we were up.
To cut to the chase, we drove down to their hotel (they are planning to take MARTA to the wedding, so didn't rent a car) to pick them up; they shared the backseat with Jonna and her car seat. Then it was off to the zoo, right past Turner Field. It was drizzling and grey, but it hadn't kept out the families. Price sure has gone up since the last time we were here, though, which I think was when Jessie and Aubrey were babies (they're both turning 21 in the fall; you do the math)! Plus they added sales tax! Luckily we had a coupon from the Entertainment Book.
To answer what I'd wondered before we got there, yes, the flamingos are still at the front gate. Behind them, we didn't even need a sign: it was the budgie free-flight cage—you could hear the noise all the way across the flamingo pond! But at the point we arrived it was still too chilly for them to be let out, so Meggan suggested we go the other way, which worked out well.
I think what I remember most is the birds; we saw all sorts of birds, from huge eagle owls to vultures (they had an artificial zebra carcass to eat out of), a lovely golden pheasant and a sleeping whistling duck, a dour kookabura, a big flock of different birds in a flight cage. We saw ring-tailed lemurs and greater lemurs, including a greater lemur who posed very nicely for us. We did see the bongo [a large, striped antelope], but the legend said they were very shy, and sure enough, he wandered off out of sight. The giraffes, elephants, and otters were not on display, but we saw a beautiful Sumatran tiger; a trio of lions including a young one; gazelles, ostriches, and zebra; a rhinoceros and her baby; the reptile house (I skipped most of the snakes, but I had to laugh when I saw a rattlesnake about two inches away from the heat lamp; he must have thought it was chilly even in the overwarm reptile house); and a lone red panda asleep in a tree (the new giant panda cubs are nine months old now, but all of the giant pandas were sacked out by the time we got there). We arrived at the orangutang enclosure just as the zoo attendant was trying to get him to do some of his exercises on the computer. The orangutang evidently figured it was Saturday and he wasn't going to do any "schoolwork." He'd click the green button and put the exercise back up on the screen, and then go sit in his hammock!
Early in the circuit we also stopped at the children's zoo. Jonna is fascinated by goats and she spent a happy fifteen minutes in the goat pen patting them. We also ate at one of the cafes, but I wasn't impressed. The hot dog was okay, but my milk had a skin on it (like you might find on latex paint—ugh!) and the fries must have had my maximum amount of sodium for the day on them. James' cheeseburger was cold.
So by the time we reached the budgie enclosure (and you can hear the budgies all the way back into the African section!), they were all outside. It was lovely! I want to live there! They give you a little stick with some seed and fruit on it, and, if you're patient enough, and hold the stick up, sometimes the birds will come to you, but it's easier if you find one perched in reach and offer the stick to them. They're not exactly tame, but not exactly wild, either, because they will eagerly feed on the seed—until a warning scold or a shadow sets them off, or if they're eating grass. They were especially flighty because it was quite obviously mating season, and on branches, in corners (the "exit" sign seemed to be an especially coveted perch), upon the netting, there were pairs billing and cooing at each other. Except for one little bird who was trying to sleep in all the racket! They're not all green and yellow like wild budgies in the outback, either, but a rainbow of budgie colors: blue, white, green, chartruse, yellow, purple. One was mixed pastels just like my little Pip, who only lived five months, and there were birds who looked like Merlin, or Bandit, or Schuyler, and even Pigwidgeon.
At last it was time to get the Padvoracs back to their hotel to get dressed for the wedding. Having found lunch unsatisfactory, we had an early supper at Panera and returned home for James to relax his aching knees.
» Friday, April 18, 2014A Day of Contemplation
I am always looking forward to Good Friday since I started taking it off three years ago. It is a nice afternoon of spiritual contemplation for me.
But before I got to the contemplation, I had to get to the chores: I did the shopping. Normally it's James' week, but I'm not sure which groceries will be closed Sunday and I know he won't be able to do much walking after what we have planned for Saturday. Might as well just do it. I dropped in at Publix for a couple of things, and then went to Kroger for the remainder of the things, including milk, a very nice piece of steak for Monday dinner, yogurt, and burritos for James. Grabbed ice cream for desserts, then realized we would have chocolate bunnies and Cadbury eggs. Oh, well, it will keep.
Barely got home in time to put everything away and had to have lunch after the noon mark had passed; it couldn't be helped. First I listened to the six BBC "Lent Talks" I had recorded in the weeks previous. The theme this year was "The Power and the Passion." Very enjoyable, although I though the gentleman who was discussing giving children the vote at sixteen was going very far afield. When that finished I put on some choir music and read the book I bought last week, Catholicism. I'm afraid it got so peaceful that it fell asleep, and then James was let out early.
We had supper at Giovanni's and then went to Barnes & Noble to check if there was anything new.
» Saturday, April 12, 2014And So To Bed...
...or putting new sheets on it, anyway.
Not much of a day. We went to Publix for twofers before James left for his club meeting. I did some tweaking of the zipper pulls on our backpacks (I now have each of the large compartments marked on both of them) and hung them up in the closet, wrote out some Easter cards, emptied the dishwasher, and ended up watching about half of The Courtship of Andy Hardy and, a little later, the second half of the first part of MGM: When the Lion Roared.
When James came home we went to Fresh2Order for supper. I love their creamy chicken vegetable soup, it's almost like a stew, but it has some very strong herbs in it and it's one of those days when no matter what I eat, if it's got more than the taste of a piece of bread, it makes me sick. James didn't look so well after dinner, either; he said his chicken tortilla soup was very salty. We weren't even halfway through Costco when he said he felt sick, so I finished the shopping quickly (we only needed a few things, and we got the latest Hobbit saga, since we never saw it in the theatre) and we headed home. He didn't feel better until later in the evening. This is the second day in a row that Mexican food has made him ill.
So instead of checking out Michaels we sat at home watching this week's "fix" of Peter and Dave (a.k.a. Flipping Boston) and Too Cute. Going to have to watch episode 859 of This Old House online; last week they said it was episode 859 but showed episode 858 over. It was on again this week, but the channel went off and we got a half-hour of a solid yellow screen. Grrr! Also watched the end of The Misfits and finally Yukon Vet.
» Friday, April 11, 2014Thank God It's Friday
Sleeping late is the best reward. :-)
So next there was breakfast with Snowy, and it wasn't until 10:30 that I finally got out the door. I tried going the "scenic route," but sadly there was a very...slow...train going through Vinings, so I turned around and just went through West Paces Ferry Road. The early blossoms—Bradford pears, plum flowers, daffodils, and forsythia—are gone and both the pink and the white dogwoods are in full riot, and the azaleas with flowers so bright; juicy red and pale purple, bright coral, peppermint pink, and icy white are everywhere. Violet phlox dots the edges of lawns and multicolor tulips bob in rows and pansies smile from plum and saffron faces.
Stopped at the Buckhead Barnes & Noble for a nice browse. They had the March "Best of British" and I got the 30th anniversary issue of "Country Sampler" as well. Picked up the first book in a mystery series about a Los Angeles bicycle cop. I don't usually like police procedurals, but I was intrigued by the feminine lead, who is of mixed white and Japanese ancestry. Still debating about a mystery series set in Vermont. I do want to get a copy of Your Inner Fish, though.
Drove down Peachtree Road to Richard's Variety Store. I love wandering through here; it's the closest I'll ever get again to an old Woolworths or Kresges. They have a lot more books than they used to, and I love their children's area, which is full of old classics like Blueberries for Sal, Lois Lenski's "Small" books, Dr. Seuss (I was really tempted by a copy of The 500 Hats of Bartholemew Cubbins, my first Seuss), The Five Chinese Brothers, and others of that ilk.
Headed home but was growing quite peckish, as it was 2:30 by that time, so I detoured after passing Cumberland Mall and went to Panera to have a cup of soup. When I handed the cashier my card, he said, "You have a free bowl of soup coming. Do you want to use it?" Why, yes! Sat sipping soup and reading 1913, and then arrived home to check out this week's episode of The New Lassie and read the "Country Sampler" until James came home. He was feeling a bit under the weather, so we ordered in. I just had some chicken wings.
Later in the evening we watched the news, and I watched the Dateline about the Boston Marathon bombing last year, and then we both watched Hawaii Five-0.
» Sunday, April 06, 2014And Finally, the Falls...
So James went off to work this morning, and I was soon up again myself. Turned the television on for Snowy, and headed cross-town, with breakfast second-verse-same-as-first, except I sat alone today and there weren't any bagels. I had bread and butter instead.
And since there was only one Doctor Who panel at this convention, you can bet I was at it. What does the good Doctor have to do with Sherlock Holmes? Well, several people who have played the Doctor have also played Sherlock, including movie Doctor Peter Cushing as well as Tom Baker (who also donned a Sherlock-ish costume in "The Talons of Weng-Chiang."). Plus Mark Gatiss does Sherlock as well as Doctor Who)...and besides, who cares—it's Doctor Who. We talked about the original series and the long gap filled by Big Finish audio productions and then the new series, panelists named their favorite Doctors, folks used to the new series asked for old series' episode suggestions, and all sorts of good Who goodness.
And since I never met a Watson I didn't like (even when Gareth David Lloyd runs into dinosaurs), the next panel had to be "Watsons Through Time," wherein we went from no Watson at all (the silents and William Gillette, because nobody else in the cast could be as important as...William Gillette) to avuncular and absurd Watson (poor Nigel Bruce, of course, who was a better actor than Watson's lines gave him credit for) and to the competent Watson of today. Lots more talk about the Russian series. Must look that up on YouTube.
Next came a panel I had been looking forward to, about the various illustrators of the Sherlock Holmes' stories when they first appeared, from the classic ones by Sydney Paget (sadly, Paget later died a painful death). His brother Walter, whom they originally wanted to illustrate the stories, did one issue, and then the illustrations were turned over to Frank Wiles and even Charles Dana Gibson (creator of the Gibson Girl), and several others. I was quite taken by an illustration of Sherlock Holmes among his books. [Looked it up after I got home and posted it on my Facebook page.]
Next, another fanfiction panel, and I did ask if and where the gen stuff was, and they said it was out there. Must do more digging. This was more about mechanics as well: finding time to write, improving your writing, beta readers, etc.
So now there was a choice. There was an Elizabeth Peters' memorial panel going on, but I found myself wandering toward the room where they were having the trivia contest. Remember the fellow who was on the radio panel, asking the difficult trivia questions? He was running trivia. But I did see Ken Spivey and his daughter Aubrey in the room, and mom Alice had said we ought to team up on the trivia contest. Oh, well, it's just a game.
They were making groups of five, and just as I was coming in, Aubrey asked two young ladies, Abby and Shannon, if they would join her and her dad. Yep, here comes me, the fifth wheel. Soon about six or seven other groups of five were formed, and off we went on a bewildering jumble of facts from canon, radio, films, television, and just about any Sherlockania that struck the "chairman," as the Brits would call him, down to Garfield donning a deerstalker. Luckily, it was multiple choice. Unluckily the scoring was just the way it was when we played trivia at Rockfords, six rounds, bet your high points on the sure answers and save the lower points for ones you weren't sure of. We found out Raymond Massey was Jeremy Brett's father-in-law and that Brett chose his stage surname from the label in one of his first suits, that of Peter Capaldi, Nicholas Briggs, Tom Baker and Colin Baker, only Colin Baker had never played both the Doctor and Holmes, and other such minutia. We held our own the first couple of rounds, had a bad third (or was it fourth?) round, and ended up...
...amazingly, winning! This was due to Abby knowing a bunch of Brett facts and Ken knowing the bonus question, which was about a short, silent spoof of Sherlock Holmes called "The Curse of the Leaping Fish" that had the star, Douglas Fairbanks, stoned on cocaine!
There was one more facet to the contest: the members of the winning team did a "Family Feud" game, and whomever got the most points got the grand prize, a clever jointed marionette that looked like Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch. The other prizes were colored pencil sketches of Jeremy Brett, David Burke and Edward Hardwicke (Brett's two Watsons), and Peter Cushing. Abby got the most points, but she had eyes for nothing but the Brett portrait, so Aubrey, who came in second, got the Cumberbatch prize. I was third and picked the Burke because he was such a good-looking Watson. :-)
And then it was it...the final panel, the "what did we do right/wrong" panel, which was packed. I was squeezed in the back next to New York Lady, and we could hardly hear most of the questions and half of the answers, so I slipped out after about 35 minutes since we were expected at Ken's birthday party and I hadn't wrapped his gift yet!
James had our steaks marinating and had gotten some watermelon to share, so I just had to wrap the gift and we were off. It was a nice party, but I was glad to get home and rest.
And so tomorrow work is afoot...
» Saturday, April 05, 2014Deductive Day
[Since anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that I'm writing this post and Sunday's post "after the fact," I'll note here that the final panel I attended at 221B was the wrap-up where they ask your likes and dislikes. Several people besides Teri Sears, New York Lady [never saw her name tag], and I complained that there were no panelists' names with the panels. This was explained that it was because several people didn't want to use their real names on the panel. ??????? The only thing I could think of was because if some of the fanfiction writers' real names got out in connection with their fic (perhaps someone who is a teacher at a conservative school is outed as someone who writes "Johnlock" or even just explicit "Sherlolly," for instance) there might be problems. Can't they just use their pseudonyms? And if it's that problematic for their real names to get out, should they even be appearing at the convention in person? The way Facebook/Instagram posts get around, isn't there always a chance someone will pass on a shocked message: "Look, isn't this Sister Scholastica...OMG she writes porn!"
Anyway, on my blog posts this is why I can't properly acknowledge a lot of people, like the women who did the Paget (etc) panel, except for Louis Robinson, Jana Oliver, and Sacha Dzuba, who I know on sight.]
So I was off to the second day of 221B Con. Felt a bit bad, as James was supposed to have lunch with the old hobby shop gang and have a "guy day." But the guys were all in Anniston for a model show. So he went to Bed, Bath & Beyond and Trader Joe's and did other errands and I zipped off to the Perimeter Marriott. The hotel had a breakfast buffet for eight dollars, which for a big hotel (especially this hotel; the food is expensive!) is great, so I ate breakfast there: oatmeal, fruit, three slices of bacon, a bagel, cereal, and a couple of slices of turkey in a slice of bread that I wrapped up in some foil I had. I had a chicken sandwich for lunch (not to mention some goldfish crackers, peanuts, peanut butter and crackers, and an orange cup), so this meant I didn't have to scrounge for supper.
My first panel was Brett vs. Rathbone, but I don't think we really "decided" anything. :-) I don't think the way the writers wrote Nigel Bruce's Watson should reflect on Basil Rathbone's Holmes, so I thought that argument against Rathbone by the woman on the panel was a bit unfair. The gentleman on the panel, an historian from Nova Scotia, made good points about Rathbone. He thought Jeremy Brett's portrayal was too restless. I can't judge, because I've seen one Brett (don't judge me!) and only one Rathbone recently, but the latter did have what I think of as the Holmes "look."
Next panel: "Canon 101," for those who hadn't read the stories/novels, or just wanted things clarified. I asked the one I'd always been puzzled by...is it The Sign of Four or The Sign of the Four? Well, both. It was published one time one way, one time another. I don't remember anything amazingly unique about this panel, but I enjoyed it immensely just to be talking about books. One of the things they did point out was that much of how we envision Holmes and Watson comes from the illustrations to the original stories (to be covered in another panel).
"Holmes Through the Years" was an appropriate follow-up of media portrayals of Holmes, from the first three-minute Sherlock Holmes Baffled (a very early silent film) to the current various incarnations (Downey, Cumberbatch, and Miller), with stops, of course, at the classics: William Gillette, who did the first Holmes play with the blessing of Conan Doyle, everyone's favorite Nazi fighter Basil Rathbone, perennial favorite Peter Cushing (for both a movie and a television series), early British movie favorite Arthur Wontner, BBC 60s favorite Douglas Wilmer, and of course Jeremy Brett. One notable exception: Ronald Howard (son of Leslie Howard) in the 1950s series was not mentioned. Of interest this year is a new Russian adaptation of the stories, in which Holmes comes off as a rather Bolshevik type!
Of course had to go to the Cabin Pressure panel! This is a goofy sitcom on BBC radio about a one-plane airline, MJN Air (the initials stand for "my jet now," as the owner got the plane in her divorce settlement) and its owner and employees. Carolyn Knapp-Shappey is the crusty owner, and Arthur Shappey is her dimwitted son, who acts as the steward on the flights. The pilots are Martin Creiff, younger and barely competent, and Douglas Richardson, older but having been fired from his former job for smuggling. Each week the crew takes on odd charters and goes to odd corners of the world, like Qikiqtarjuaq. Why is this being discussed at a Sherlock Holmes convention? Well, because Benedict Cumberbatch plays Martin, of course. About halfway through the panel, one of the panelists started texting John Finnemore (the creator and writer of the series, who also plays Arthur), and he started texting answers to questions back!
Next on schedule was the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company's two productions. One was a Dr. Geoffrey Stanhope adventure taking place at Loch Ness, "The Dweller in the Depths," in which a military man's fishing trip is rudely interrupted by a party of scientists looking for a creature in the lake. The other story was Rudyard Kipling's "The Mark of the Beast," a supernatural tale of what happens after a drunken Englishman defiles a native temple. Perhaps not totally Sherlockian, but totally period to Holmes. The Kipling is particularly chilling.
To fill in the rest of the hour, I went to the Douglas Wilmer panel. Wilmer played Holmes in a black-and-white television series made by the BBC in the mid-1960s, with Nigel Stock as his Watson. As I understand, these are no great shakes, but not a bad interpretation, and some people he looks the most like Holmes. His Watson was halfway between the bumbling Nigel Bruce type and the competent Watson of the present; for his Holmes he was an aide-de-camp. I left this panel a bit early to take the opportunity to finally stroll through the dealer's room. This was mostly jewelry, buttons, and artwork, all very nice but nothing I really wanted. I did go back and buy a couple of bookmarks for James and Clay, and I also bought myself a cute, small print called "All Holmes...All The Time." It has the classic Sherlock, Cumberbatch's Sherlock with his cell phone, Elementary's Sherlock with his turtle, and Robert Downey Jr's Sherlock with his smoked glasses all in a group before 221B.
The fanfiction panel was next. I'll admit I turned the wifi on and checked out a bunch of the stories they talked about, but– Look, I've got no quibble with adult fanfiction...I've written it. But is that all the fanfic there is anymore? Is no one writing a straight mystery or hurt-comfort or survival stories? Nevertheless, it was a quick hour, with the writers talking about how they had to write one story or a particular scene and people in the audience telling them how much their stories were enjoyed.
I went next to a panel about the film Young Sherlock Holmes. This was one of my favorite films of the 1980s and the only thing I watched on AMC after they cancelled Remember WENN. One of the things they discussed in this panel was the similarities to this film and the Harry Potter films, which I'd never though of before. But then so many British school stories have the same tropes!
At seven was one of the panels I had been looking forward to, the Scotland Yard panel with Jana Oliver and Louis Robinson. Louis' father and uncle had been policemen so he had some knowledge of the procedures there. This also traced the history of the metropolitan London police from watchmen to the Bow Street Runners to the "bobbies" nicknamed after Sir Robert Peel, who established the metropolitan force. There's a certain mystique about "Scotland Yard"—I'll always remember that Get Smart episode where Max infiltrated a KAOS gang and it turned out all of them were infiltrators, too, and when the last man introduces himself as being from Scotland Yard, Max, 99, the CIA guy, the FBI man, and the Naval Intelligence agent all crowd around him in admiration!
And yet another panel I'd been waiting for, the panel on Elementary. Like most of the rest of the once skeptical audience, I'd been very wary about this series. A modern-day Sherlock Holmes in New York and Dr. Watson played by a woman who was his "minder" after his emergence from drug addiction? And wasn't this just like that BBC modern version? Amazingly, it turned out into so much more, and Watson went from "minder" to fellow consulting detective. Panel and participants were all enthused about the characters, although there are still some quibbles about this version's Moriarty. I had to say that one of my favorite things is a very small thing: they actually have weather on this series, rather than your usual television story where it's sunny all the time except during funerals, when it rains, and at Christmas, when it snows. :-) It's all part of making you feel like this is a real world. (I also like Sherlock's house, too, because it's not perfectly groomed!)
And then because I love me a good Watson, I went to the Jude Law as Dr. Watson panel. Frankly, most of the reason that I like the Downey films is that Jude Law makes a smashing Watson. This guy was a doctor and was an Army surgeon who'd survived the war in Afghanistan; he couldn't be an idiot after all.
And finally, even though it was late (it was ten o'clock), I had to go to the "Sherlock Holmes and Dinosaurs" panel. In case you are unfamiliar with this "brilliant" film, here's what I wrote about it back in 2012:
...I put on a 2010 movie called Sherlock Holmes—not the one you are thinking of! This movie stars Gareth David-Lloyd of Torchwood as Dr. Watson and Ben Syder as Sherlock Holmes. James sat down to watch with me. My gosh, what a howler! I can't even list all the howlers...take the one scene where Watson goes for a morning constitutional and Holmes accompanies him. Within short walking distance from 221B Baker Street, in the very center of crowded, cobbled metropolitan London, apparently there is an extensive overgrown—and I mean overgrown!—wood with some deserted outbuildings! The film also involves a sea serpent, a dinosaur, and what looks like a copper robot, plus a clockwork human and Sherlock Holmes' older brother (not Mycroft Holmes) who is a former police detective. Not to mention that the actor who played Holmes was shorter than everyone else in the cast (Doyle's Holmes is quite tall) and played the role in such a colorless manner that he pretty much faded into the woodwork! Was this because the more well-known Torchwood actor was playing Watson?
When it was finished, James said "Well, there's over an hour of my life I'll never get back." LOL.
The most entertaining factor was that, even with his heavy moustache and thick curly hair, Gareth David-Lloyd was almost a dead ringer for Robert Sean Leonard as Dr. Wilson on House (who is, of course, based on Dr. Watson).
Like many bad movies, this one has its "flop film" fans. Four people sat in the front row with dinosaur hats on, and the panel was raucous and funny, a splendid way to end the day.
Then I hurried home and found everything dark, as James had covered up little Snowy and headed to bed (he has to work tomorrow). He was reading in bed when I tiptoed in to take my shower and head under the covers myself. I guess I'll have to give Snowy a kiss tomorrow!
» Friday, April 04, 2014Elementary Afternoon
Business to take care of before of pleasure this morning: since James was going to be busy tomorrow, I just went out and did some shopping: Publix and then Kroger. It was spattering rain at this point, but by the time I finished the sun was trying to peek through. We eventually never got the rain they had been predicting all week.
Kept a weather eye out on the traffic. It was still green eastbound when I left about two. After stopping at the ATM, I headed for the hotel where 221B Con was being held. The parking lot didn't look overwhelmed, so I drove up to Barnes & Noble and killed an hour there. By that time it was 3:30 and I was going to have to think about dinner, since I was pretty much blocked for panels from five to eight. So I drove a little further up the road and picked up a cup of soup, a half a tuna salad sandwich on honey wheat, and a bagel with cream cheese at Panera.
There was quite a lengthy line already formed at four when I got back into the hotel, so I just took a bathroom break. Registration opened at four so the line had already moved once I emerged. Got in line behind two people, one dressed as Molly from Sherlock (there are a lot of Mollys here, also a lot of Irene Adlers from the same series, several with "riding crops"), and listened to the babble around me and hoped I'd get my badge before my soup got too cold!
Registration took twenty minutes all told, and then I retreated to a little nook at the end of one corridor where there were two armchairs and a table to eat my soup and peruse the con booklet and the pocket program. Then I took a turn around the hotel to see where things were. Where panel rooms were at Anachrocon were the dealer's room here, and what had been the dealer's room was the tea, which will be panel rooms tomorrow. Here I stopped to talk to Anthony Taylor for a few minutes. All my panels tonight were in the side corridor near the pool; actually all of them were in one room, Polk.
The first panel was "Minorities in Elementary," which was entertaining but eventually wavered into discussion about Irene Adler's character and why people felt no adaptation ever gets close to her real character. The moderator was very opinionated! (Not necessarily a bad thing, but slightly off-putting.) Detective Bell has a lot of fans. :-) They also discussed non-traditional teamings of Holmes/Watson on the web.
The next panel was about Sherlock Holmes as featured in radio series. This was talk about both British and American productions, as well as adaptations from companies like Big Finish. One of the gentlemen on the panel had something like 500 recordings of Sherlock Holmes radio shows! (He asked some trivia questions; this is the person who will be setting the questions for the trivia contest. Yikes! These were hard! Do you know the first television Sherlock was not Ronald Howard?) A few excerpts were played, including a funny sketch from what sounded like a Command Performance radio show during World War II era, in which Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce switched roles (Rathbone was supposed to be Watson and Bruce Holmes, but it got a bit mixed up at the end, and Dick Powell even showed up), and a special treat from Big Finish at Christmastime, in which Holmes stays up to catch Father Christmas.
Louis Robinson was sitting in on that panel, and during the break between the radio panel and the next, he asked me if we had enjoyed the performance at UUMAN two weeks ago. I told him we had and he said that the pianist (Brian) had been a last-minute substitution and they had come up with all the things I loved, like "Pennies from Heaven" and "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face" at the last moment. Well, you really couldn't have told that at all.
The last panel was "British Panel Shows." Louis was on this panel as well as he used to work for "Auntie Beeb" and he gave us some idea how these "unscripted shows" were scripted. The panel show was something we used to have here—What's My Line, for instance, and I've Got a Secret—but faded out, which were a pity, because those shows are classic. I hadn't heard of several of the panel shows discussed; they were both on television and on the radio, with most of the conversation concentrated on QI, which you can find online and which is really a very funny series with Stephen Fry as the perfect host. I've seen some of the radio ones which they mentioned on the BBC schedule but have never listened to them; I must try them. I also didn't know there was an unexpurgated version of QI. I'm sure that gets very rowdy!
Well, I'd toyed with going to the Canon 101 panel at nine, but after wandering around a bit, peeking into the dealer's room, which I never did get into, and taking a picture of a super TARDIS they had in the middle of the floor, and talking to Caran Wilbanks, I figured I would just head for home. I have a full day tomorrow and it would be nice to have a couple of hours with James.
But I had to laugh when I headed out to the parking lot; the lights around the hotel and the close lot were so bright that the birds were still shouting from tree to tree and it was nearly dark! I stopped under one tree where a mockingbird was beating out one song after the other and started to imitate him. You really piss off mockingbirds this way. :-) Anyway, traffic was normal as it usually is by this time, and James played Tom Bodett (he left the light on for me <:g>).
So we talked and Snowy sang and we watched the "viewer-built" episode of Hawaii Five-0 and I cooled off and watched the weather report with horror because now it's going to pour on Monday. Just what I need...grrrrr!
And I have no idea what happened to my glasses; I took them off at some point when I got home and now can't find them. Where's good ol' Sherlock when you need him? Good thing I have a spare pair!