Words I Learned from Sherlock

So I just finished “The Final Problem“, by Arthur Conan Doyle, and there were a number of words I learned or re-learned. Before stating them, let me say, it is so much fun to read these books/short stories after seeing the BBC version of Sherlock. Too. Much. Fun.

  • petrel – one who brings discord or appears at the onset of trouble
  • asperity – harshness of tone or manner.
  • coup-de-maitre – a master stroke
  • equanimity – mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, esp. in a difficult situation.
  • devolve – transfer or delegate (power) to a lower level, esp. from central government to local or regional administration.

And a quote – can’t leave without a quote from this lovely work: “Any attempt at recovering the bodies was absolutely hopeless, and there, deep down in that dreadful cauldron of swirling water and seething foam, will lie for all time the most dangerous criminal and the foremost champion of the law of their generation… him whom I shall ever regard as the best and the wisest man whom I have ever known.”

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Sherlock Returns

The greatly anticipated return of Sherlock has come and gone. It was entertaining. It was brilliant!  But it was also, honestly, disappointing. Here’s why.

1) From intense to silly. This episode is lighthearted, even silly. Sherlock waltzes in as a French waiter with a ridiculous fake mustache (and fabulous accent to boot) and presents himself to his best friend, expecting love and joy in return. Instead, John tries to kill him. It’s cute, and this cuteness pervades the entire episode. But this is Sherlock! We don’t watch it for cuteness. More than that, this episode directly follows the most intense and serious episode yet: you know, the one where Sherlock commits suicide, his reputation is completely destroyed, John is devastated, and so are fans across the globe. Season 3 surprisingly and randomly swaps out intensity for silliness. It’s a bit hard to swallow.

2) From laser-locked sociopath to more socially aware jokester. Then there’s the inconsistency in Sherlock himself. He’s suddenly got better social skills (he kindly tells Molly thank you and gives her a little kiss) and he’s also become a jokester. While sociopaths can learn and become more socially acceptable, we’ve never seen Sherlock particularly playful before. Playfulness wouldn’t be part of his worldview because the only things that matter to him are what helps solve cases. And yet, he pranks John by not telling him that he’s actually deactivated the bomb that’s about to kill them both. He cruelly deceives his best friend. When he was a sociopath before, he was consistently a sociopath (mean to everyone and unable to care about anything except solving cases). Now, he’s inconsistently a sociopath (mean sometimes and finds pranks worth pulling).

3) No case? And can you really have a Sherlock episode without a case to solve, and his “massive intellect” to display? The episode technically has a case, but it’s such a secondary part of the story that it feels a bit lame.

4) No resolution of the big question. Most importantly, we don’t actually learn how Sherlock faked his death. Everything else in previous episodes has been explained. It’s why we keep coming back for more: he can see things we can’t, and when it gets explained, you mutter “oh, of course.” But not in this episode, the one time it matters most. Unfortunately for my mini rant against this episode, there’s a good argument against this. There are actually many things that aren’t explained. But they are usually small things. So, is it fair for the writers of this episode to play with us? It’s certainly consistent with the lightheartedness of this episode. In fact, it’s perfect. We get fanciful, entirely entertaining, and comedic explanations for his “death”. And just when we think we’re getting the real explanation, the rug gets pulled out from under our feet as Anderson notes the obvious: why would Sherlock ever tell him the truth?

Ultimately does it work? Yes. It is fantastic and fantastical! It’s just not what I wanted. I wanted intensity and not silliness. Instead the writers gave us a highly entertaining and yet intelligent ride where, thank God, the most important thing is established: Sherlock and Watson are back.

Interviewed by the Enemy

So I was interviewed today, for a job, and it went amazingly well. I was thrilled. They were thrilled. We were all thrilled. We’ll see if it turns into an offer. One really cool thing was that their facility had much light (giant windows everywhere) and ubiquitous free snacks (oh the nice problems of the modern workforce). But being interviewed by someone who’s last name was Moriarty (save one letter) was highly amusing. Yesterday I wrote about Sherlock Holmes. Today I was interviewed by his archenemy. Although in this case the “archenemy” was a woman who noted that yes, her name is pronounced the same as the famed Sherlock archenemy, and no she is actually very nice, tame, supremely lacking in drama. Or danger. Or really much interest. And I am most certainly not Holmes.

But, I deduce that I might get the job, and if I do… I will eat many snacks.

For Connie

My thoughts in general are too large to fit into one little blog post, but this will have to do. Supposedly I’m finding a career for myself. This turns out to be the undertaking of a lifetime. How does one know what to with oneself before you get into it? I don’t think anyone knows whether they like a job until they start. Perhaps we shoot too high? Perhaps we shouldn’t expect to find jobs that are our fulfillment? Maybe I should be happy with the roof over my head and food in my kitchen and the general prosperity which is 21st century America. It is pretty nice. Amazing actually. Has society been asking too much of itself? 80% of people dislike their job/career. Man I’m normal! As a woman, I should probably be glad to be treated as an equal, to have options other than wife/mother/homemaker, to be able to vote, and to participate in sports. As a human, I should probably be happy not to live in a war-torn area, to have had a functional family growing up, to have food/shelter/clothing everyday, and amazingly enough to have education. I’m quite educated! Got me an MBA, and an undergrad degree.

With all that, I still think I should be able to find a career which isn’t traumatizing and which is generally enjoyable. What would that be? How do I know when I’ve shot too high? I googled “what to do with my life” today and the first link was TinyBuddha or something like that. That site, and all others, said what I already knew. Ask yourself – what do you love, what gives you life, what are you good at, and where do you want to be in 5 years. Ok, done that before. Fortunately, one or two sites were honest enough to say There is no formula but here are some ideas. Awesome! I believe that. If there were a formula, I would have executed it by now. There ain’t none. I like reading, writing, study, presenting, discussing, explaining, teaching, planning, communicating, and learning. Mostly I seem built for academia. Does that seem right? That’s what I’m currently leaning towards. I don’t need money. That’s for sure.

My window to my left shows nothing but snow, a mildly oppressive lack of light (it’s evening), and the stark outline of two trees. And part of a conifer.

Fortunately, while I can’t find a career or wish to play in the snow (I prefer looking at it), I can read Sherlock Holmes. And this stuff is the best! I promise! I swear. Good good stuff. Sherlock, the character, is entertaining, inspirational, and hilarious. Also, the best part of these stories? They are playful. This is crime not like our current crime shows do it – intense, urgent, everyone talks in the same cadence/rhythm (really, when will they learn to act?!), and taking themselves far too seriously. But these original Sherlock stories are whimsical, safe, relaxing, and even cozy, even with references to cocaine, death, and crime. What got me started? The recent BBC Sherlock TV series – I must say both are as good as each other (which is saying a lot!) and the TV series truly honors and does justice to the books, despite being a modern reincarnation.

Sunday ends my insane diet – avoiding all foods except fruit, vegetables, and meat. That is restricted! I will introduce dairy first, see what sort of my reaction that produces. Three days later, I will introduce sugar. And three days after that my first grain: corn, because I want to have popcorn at one of my movie nights. I’m doing this to find out what medical practitioners can’t tell me, which is, exactly what foods I am sensitive too. It is amazing what medicine doesn’t know. I think they don’t know most things. Anyway, I am currently gluten free but have the suspicion other food sensitivities may be floating around my system. We shall find out.

This post is long enough! Way too long! I am meeting the challenge of my sweet friend Connie, to whom I dedicate this post, to demonstrate that you can write about your complete lack of a career, snow, Sherlock Holmes, and health… all in one post.