Friday, August 29, 2014

A Quick Succession of Busy Nothings

I haven't done one of those "right now I'm currently doing..." posts in ages and ages, so I thought now, as summer's ending, would be a good time to do one.  An update of sorts, you know.  I don't tend to blog a great deal about my personal life on here, but now and then it's fun to write a little about what's going on outside of the blogging world.  (Because, you know, I do have a life outside of movie reviews and Pinterest.  Hard to believe, but it's true. :P)

So, of late, I've been...


...the classic Christy (so good! though I don't recommend it for younger readers, as there is some adult content), the thrilling The Count of Monte Cristo (with my dad-- we read a few chapters each week and discuss them), and the fascinating Anne Boleyn: A New Life of England's Tragic Queen (a look into the life of a very misunderstood historical figure).

~Listening Laura Osnes and Bernadette Peters and Mark Vincent and the Newsies album.  Film soundtrack and OBC recording, both.  And don't ask me to pick a favorite, because I like both for different reasons and I don't know if I could decide.  


...a Civil War ensemble that a friend recently commissioned (currently having lots of fun with petticoats :D) and working here and there on some new skirt designs.  Eventually I'd like to expand my Etsy shop to include a line of contemporary clothing with a vintage influence, so that's been dominating my needle lately.


...just finished Martin Chuzzlewit with Melody, and I'm mourning the end of Emma Approved... a review will hopefully come soon.  (In case you didn't know, Emma Approved is a highly, highly recommended web series-- younger viewers should watch with caution as there are a few very minor content issues but all in all it's a really fabulous adaptation of Emma.)  Oh, and my family just saw Muppets Most Wanted on my youngest sister's thirteenth birthday (we have four teenagers in the house now, WHAAAAAAT) and I loved it.  Quite hilarious, and Tom Hiddleston's in it, even if only for about a minute.  :P  I'm also enjoying Green Gables Fables, which is another web series based on (just guess...) Anne of Green Gables.  Not as professional as EA, but still fun.

~Working my nannying job, which I've been doing for almost two years now!  Time flies-- and my little charge is now almost three.  Good grief.   (And he's very talkative. And precious and adorable and a chatterbox.  And did I mention he talks a lot?)


...FALL!  Sweaters and pumpkins and sharp autumn gusts of wind and tea in dainty cups or chunky mugs and wrapping up in an afghan with a good book.  It's my favorite season for a reason.  ;)

~Acting a local production of Julius Caesar!!! This is my first real play ever, in my LIFE, and I'm really really really excited.  We have four performances in September and I'm looking forward to it immensely.  I'm playing the scintillating part of Caesar's servant-who-delivers-stuff (and I'm a guy, so that'll be interesting-- no, I mean, I'm portraying a guy in the PLAY, sheesh, I don't mean in real LIFE, I haven't been LYING to you all this time) and also a Random Plebeian who does a lot of screaming and protesting and shouting in the crowd and stabbing poor Cinna the poet.  Shakespeare is awesome.  :D


...personality types and how people relate to each other. It's fascinating stuff, whether you're looking at the Four Temperaments (good post on those here) or the Myers-Briggs 16-type classification.  I'm an ISFJ with a bit of INFP thrown in the mix, which matches me up with John Watson and Combeferre and Diana Barry and all those splendid supporting characters I've always loved.  (If there's anything more fun than figuring out which categories your family and friends fall into, it's figuring out where to place your favorite fictional characters.)  You can take the test here if you're interested-- do leave a comment and let me know which type you are!


...many great and wonderful things which you know not of.  :P  If you've been following my writing blog over the last year, I offer my most sincere apologies for posting, um, once.  Or maybe it was twice.  Whatever, it was measly.  I am still working on the Rochesters, but in a vague sort of way-- they're off being beta-read by several friends and relations, and when I get them back and dust them off and ask about their trip and remind them to put their laundry in the hamper, I'll settle down to giving them what will (hopefully) be their fourth and final edit. We shall see.  In the meantime, I've been devoting a lot of mental energy to some top-secret projects-- which I mention here partly to tantalize you because I'm mean like that, and partly because several people have been asking and I wanted to satiate what curiosity I could.  Which isn't much.  Haha.

~Learning trust and rely on the Lord more.  Life can be so confusing and tangled and full of sharp drop-offs and cliffs with no foreseeable end, but I serve a God who sees the future and knows the plans He has for me.  His purposes and actions and love are always perfect, so why am I wasting so much of my time worrying and fretting because His plan doesn't seem to be aligning with mine?  How will my faith ever be strengthened if I don't exercise it more?  They that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength, after all-- they shall mount up with wings as eagles and run without weariness.  That's what I want to be able to do.

"Not being able to fully understand God is frustrating, but it is ridiculous for us to think that we have the right to limit God to something we are capable of understanding."
~also Francis Chan-- the guy has a way of putting things :D 


...all of YOU to submit your nominations for September's I'd Like to Share!  Please remember to limit them to one per person per month, and to leave them in the comments on the I'd Like to Share page, *not* just in a random post on my blog.  It can be difficult to round up all the links if they're scattered across comment boxes hither, thither and yon.  :D  Looking forward to seeing your nominations!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Saving Mr. Banks (2013) Review

"Mary Poppins and the Banks'... they're like family to me."
~P.L. Travers, Saving Mr. Banks

"Every so often, I encounter a movie that touches me in a very personal way."  That was how I was planning to begin this post, but for some reason I kept being bugged by the thought that I'd used that phrase before.  A couple of hours and lot of post-sifting later (peoples, there are a TON of words floating around on this blog. seriously, it might be in the millions.), I discovered that I used that sentence to open my review of Little Dorrit back in January 2012, so apparently minds-that-belong-to-the-same-person-but-are-separated-by-two-and-a-half-years think alike.   Who'd-a-thunk it.


When I was little, Mary Poppins was my favorite movie in the whole world.  My parents were particularly careful about what movies my sister and I were allowed to watch, and Mary Poppins, Little Bear, The Incredible Journey, So Dear to My Heart, Winnie the Pooh and Peter Pan were about the extent of our repertoire from when I was four to seven.  Mary Poppins, though, was the be-all, end-all as far as I was concerned.  I knew all the songs by heart (still do), could recite practically any line in the movie (even all the jokes that went over my head) and worked out a complicated Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious choreography with my sister, using my Winnie the Pooh umbrella as a stand-in for Mary's parasol.   (Er, sorry, Mary Poppins.  Never, ever just Mary.)

So you can imagine how excited I was when I heard "they" were making a movie based on the making of the movie.  I mean, how cool is that?  The thrills were tinged with the slightest bit of apprehension, though-- I knew the story behind Mary Poppins wasn't entirely a happy one.  We had the old VHS tape with the behind-the-scenes video (it included actual footage from the premiere, the height of glamour to my young mind) and so I already knew a good bit about how Mary Poppins traveled from page to screen.  And I knew P.L. Travers, the author, was less than thrilled with the way the movie turned out.  So it was with some trepidation that I watched Saving Mr. Banks for the first time, because if there's anything that bums me out when watching a movie, it's a depressing ending.  And from what I knew of the facts, a depressing ending was heading the viewers' way with all the relentlessness of an uptight British author who wouldn't see things any way but her own.

(Please note that depressing endings and sad endings are not at all the same thing and I love a good sob-fest as much as the next Deep Person out there.  I was recently informed by a friend that her youngest sister speaks of me as, "Oh, I remember her! She likes sad movies!" Yes. Yes, my child, you speak the truth.)

Anyways.  Proceeding.  Let's take a look at this movie.  Bit by bit.

I'm a huge fan of instrumental versions of movie songs (musical overtures are THE BEST), so when the credits began with a haunting piano version of Chim Chim Cher-ee, I was pretty much hooked.  I can't say enough good things about this movie's soundtrack.  Seriously.  Thomas Newman's music is always gorgeous, but when his original work is combined with new arrangements of the Sherman brothers' masterpieces... well, let's just say it's one of my favorite movie scores ever.  Childhood favorite songs blended with lovely new pieces combining a soaring classical sound with a vintage swing vibe?  YES PLEASE.

(Um, please note that this review is going to be really long and really rambling and probably a lot more personal than many of my other reviews, so hang in there and stay till the end and I'll like you for always.)


Before SMB, I'd seen Emma Thompson in just two and a half films-- her brilliant 1995 adaptation of Sense and Sensibility, the wittily hilarious 1993 version of Much Ado About Nothing, and her (sadly short) scenes in Kenneth Branagh's Henry V.  (Okay, maybe that's more like two-and-an-eighth.)  Anyways, I knew she was a fabulous actress, but I was used to seeing her in more lighthearted, almost ingenue roles.  (Elinor Dashwood may be serious and sedate, but she's still young and in love and knows how to have fun.)  Which is why I was so blown away by her performance as P. L. Travers-- she was self-centered, embittered, tired and misunderstood and mean to people, and yet you wanted so badly for her to just win.  She was unreasonable, demanding, tactless and abrupt, unfriendly-- at times she was even acting like an angry person-- but Emma Thompson's phenomenal acting ability made her lovable all the same.  Because you could see that deep down she was still that little girl who lived in a world inside her head--  a world that was so much better and brighter and clearer than the real one, a world her father had helped her to set in motion, a world that started disintegrating when she lost him for good.  She still had a little bit of her childhood self in her, no matter how much she denied it, and she hadn't lost her ability to laugh.  Or cry.  Or listen to people and realize that they're not really out to get you.  Or, in the end, to forgive herself.

In short, she was practically perfect in every way.  (Yes.  I had to do that.)  And so, so relatable-- for me at least.  Grammar stickler, check.  Tea fanatic, check.  Bossy, check.  Insistent that the movie be like the book? CHECK CHECK CHECK.


"NO, NO, NO.  Mr. Banks does NOT have FACIAL HAIR."
"Tea is balm for the soul.  Don't you agree?"
"It is blasphemy to drink tea from a paper cup."
"And you [Mickey Mouse] can stay there until you learn the art of subtlety."

Tom Hanks does not look like Walt Disney.  I know it.  He only sounds sort of like Walt Disney.  I know that too.  And yet I was totally willing to overlook all that because he was so much fun.  Sneer at my vapidity if you choose-- I'm fully aware that I am deeply shallow.  But seriously, he was splendid.  "Nope, I brought you here for monetary gain.  Had a wager with the boys that I couldn't get you on a ride... I just won twenty bucks."  *ka-chow*

However,  I also liked how the film didn't portray him as this perfect guy who lived merely to make other people happy and had no vices of his own.  Showing his smoking habit onscreen was apparently pretty controversial, but I for one applaud the choice.  (I don't approve of smoking, obviously, but I did appreciate that they were being realistic about a man who's been romanticized a great deal over the last sixty years.)  And when he took Travers to Disneyland and handed out pre-printed autograph cards... well, that seemed a little bit cheesy and commercial, too, but I'm also glad they didn't try to sugarcoat that either.

Their relationship was so sweet, too.  (Um, not hinting there was any romance going on there or anything, haha.  Just a note for those who may have disregarded the spoiler warning and are reading this without having seen the film.)  P.L. Travers was so terribly prickly and cold and yet Walt Disney managed to make her laugh and smile and even ride King Arthur's Carrousel, for Pete's sake.  (WHY does a Disney carousel need two R's when all the rest of the world gets along fine with just one?  Huh?)  "Get on the horse, Pamela."

I realize that in reality, P.L. Travers and Walt Disney did not part friends.  The film doesn't even try to say that.  Yet I still loved how, despite their clashing ideas, they managed to share some truly special moments with music and similar memories and even strolling through Disney's dollar-printing machine.   Er, Disneyland.  We'll talk about this more in a few paragraphs, but for now I'll just say that I was okay with the way happiness prevailed when Disney was around, despite Travers' sharpness and frowns.  

Paul Giamatti as Ralph was definitely one of my favorite characters in the movie.  He was so warm and happy and friendly and upbeat... I just loved him.  The only American I ever liked... no, you may not ask why.

"The rain brings life."
"...So does the sun."
"Be quiet!"

Richard Schwartzmann and B.J. Novak look absolutely nothing like the real Sherman brothers.  Hair color, all right.  I'll give them that, but it ends there.  Does it matter?  DOES.  IT. MATTER.
Nah, not really.  They were absolutely hilarious and I still can't decide which one I liked better.  Robert is snarkier (and gets snapped at more) but Richard is adorabler ("wait, are we getting real penguins?").

"No, no, adorabler is NOT a WORD."
"I made it up."

Surprisingly enough, I didn't enjoy the flashbacks to Travers' childhood half as much as I did the main story.  You would think that a period drama nut would prefer the scenes set in the early Edwardian era to those set in 1960's L.A., but I must shock my readers now and again or life would get a bit dull, now wouldn't it?

Annie Rose Buckley was splendid as Young Helen.  (If you haven't seen the movie, all this name stuff is probably confusing you to no end... sorry.  :()  (Okay, a sad face combined with an end-parenthesis looks really weird.)  Sometimes child actors who are supposed to be particularly cute or pathetic can be really annoying, but she somehow nailed the combination of dreamy/imaginative and endearing-child-who's-going-through-a-lot-of-trauma without alienating the audience.  (Well, this member of the audience, anyway.)  Plus she's just adorable.  I loved how her kinky curls stayed the same through adulthood... okay, the adult curls were probably helped by bobby pins but hey, continuity.  Don't ruin my theories.

Colin Farrell as Travers Goff was... well, he was pretty doggone good.  If we're using the word "good" to mean "excellent at making me really really annoyed at him for about 80% of the time he was onscreen and really really sorry for him for about 18% and admiring his ingenuity and imagination for the other 2%."   Which may have been just what the filmmakers were going for.  I don't know.  I can't get inside anyone's head but my own.  

...No, wait, I'm a writer.  That's a stupid thing to say.

Anyways, yeah, Travers irritated me a LOT.  And yet he was quite pitiable.  But I just wanted him to PULL himself TOGETHER.  I know alcoholism is a crippling addiction-- I don't mean to make light of that.  Yet he had no desire to change himself, even though he seemed to know just how terrible a toll his drinking was taking on his family.  I won't pretend I was terribly sad when he died-- I mean, I felt bad for his poor daughters and wife, especially Helen of course, but you could see his death coming a mile away and he was making life miserable for everyone around him and... well... yeah.

(Probably some of my distaste for his character also came from the fact that he reminded me very much of Michael Landon and I'm not the world's biggest fan of Michael Landon.  Haha.)

I do wish this scene had been included in the final cut, though-- gives you a glimpse of the happier, more hopeful side of the Goff family.

Ruth Wilson as Margaret Goff was also very good in the part she played-- again, pitiable but not exactly my favorite character.  Though I did like and admire her wayyyyyy more than her husband.  She's a much more sympathetic character (look at what she goes through!) yet she doesn't seem to have much of a personality or backstory or motivation or any of that.  I'm not nitpicking, I promise-- but that suicide attempt scene seemed to just come out the blue.  At first I thought she was leaving her husband-- but then she didn't take her kids with her-- and then she just walked right into the pond and I was like, um, NOOOOOOOOO.  (Melody and I watched this movie together for the first time and it was about 11:30 at night at this part and we were freaking out.  Ha.  Good times.)  I wonder what became of her afterwards, too... one would assume she got her life back together once Ellie arrived and Took Charge, but we never do find out.  (In reality, Travers Goff died unromantically of influenza-- brought on by alcohol abuse-- and Margaret Goff took her three daughters to live in New South Wales.  But this wasn't mentioned in the film.)

So, let's go back to the 60's.  As I said, I preferred these parts of the movie-- the clothes were of course cooler in the 1910's but the overall feel of the story was happier and more interesting in Travers' adult years, and I'm a sucker for Happy and Interesting.  

Take Dolly, for instance.  She was a hoot and a half.  And her jello molds were fantastic.  Plus, she has some really quotable lines.  "She only wants to eat green vegetables and broth... I don't know what that is.  Oh, and she doesn't want any red in the movie.  ...At all."  She added quite a few lighthearted giggles to scenes that could have turned frustrating because of Travers' persnicketiness.  (Hmmm, 'twould appear that IS a word.)  

On the one hand, I really can see where Travers was coming from with all her fidgeting and do-ing and don't-ing.  When you create a story and give it everything you've got and write it exactly the way you see it in your head, I imagine it would be very very hard to see someone else exploring a totally different vision for it and changing it up.  I'm a pretty strict by-the-book purist for stories I haven't written-- I can't imagine how exacting I'd be if someone were making a movie out of something *I* wrote.  (Probably worse than P.L. Travers.  Heh.)  However, I do feel sorry for Don DeGradi and the Shermans-- putting up with Travers day after day, listening to her tear their creations to bits, couldn't have been easy.  I think they all handled her remarkably well, really. 

I love all the little references to the movie in the production/storyboard scenes.  Obviously you can't make a movie about the making of Mary Poppins without referencing parts of the dialogue or story, but nonetheless I felt a little squeal-y every time I recognized a tidbit from the finished film.  Like the debate about Mrs. Banks' first name, for instance. I didn't need IMDb to know that the names they consider all come from that scene with the penguins where Bert reels off the list of women who can't compare to Mary Poppins.  (And yes, I can recite the list at a rate of about 300 words per minute. "Iiiiiiiit's truethatMavisandSybil'avewaysthat'rewinningand...")

Feed the Birds has, for a long time, been one of my favorite Disney songs, period, and probably my all-time favorite Mary Poppins song.  I knew it was Walt Disney's favorite as well, so one of my first thoughts when I heard about SMB was that I hoped they'd include a scene in which he gets to hear the song.  And, of course, because this movie is practically perfect, they did.  I exercised my proficient tearing-up skills, naturally.  I don't know what it is about that song, but... 



If Feed the Birds is my favorite Mary Poppins song, then Let Us Go and Fly a Kite is my second favorite.  Definitely.  It's just so full of elation and glee and fun and it seeeeeends youuuuuu soooooooaaaaaring... ahem.  And by the time that song showed up in SMB, I was ready for some elation and fun.  Because we'd had scene after scene of frustration and long nights and painful childhood memories and Travers being a human cactus, and we needed a song.

And we got it.  And for just one glorious, happy-go-lucky moment, nothing in the world mattered except the piano and the singing and the dancing-- the dancing!  I'm so sorry, but she's dancing! Mrs. Travers, she's dancing with Don!-- and nobody cared whether "let's go fly a kite" was correct English or not.

Coming from P.L. Travers-- and from me, if we're being honest here-- that's a pretty big concession.

Even though this is a Disney movie, it couldn't end there with the kite song sequence, though.  I would have been happy if it had ended there, but deep down I know that wouldn't finish the story.  And in order to finish the story, there had to be more hurt feelings, more frustration, more storming out of offices and flying back to London.  But before Travers went back to her house with her giant plush Mickey Mouse (am I the only one incredibly touched by the fact that she did take it with her?) and her noticeably softened hairstyle (yay for little touches of symbolism!), she stopped to tell Ralph the driver that he was the only American she'd ever liked, and that difficulties can be overcome and his daughter Jane could be anything she wanted to be.

Hang on, there's something in my eye.

And then the film production people messed with reality, because in real life Walt Disney didn't catch the next plane to London and follow Travers to her home so they could have a heart-to-heart.  Prosaically, he just picked up the phone and called her long-distance.  But-- and we'll get to this in a moment-- the concept of him going all the way across the ocean to have this conversation with her was very important, and so I think it was a wise storytelling choice.

"Because it's not the children she comes to save.  It's their father.  It's your father."

Fathers and their children are the theme of this movie, no bones about it-- though I'll admit it took me until the third viewing to realize it's Travers Goff who's reciting the opening voice-over lines.  "Can't put me finger on what lies in store... but I feel what's to happen, all happened before."  Walt Disney and his father, Helen Goff and her father, Jane and Michael Banks and theirs... they all had difficulties.  Jane and Michael's father's story grew out of the reality of Helen Goff's own father, with one little tiny change-- Jane and Michael's father was saved in the end.  Mary Poppins came and fixed everything when Aunt Ellie wasn't able to.

And that was the heart of the story.  The part that mattered.  The part that, finally, Walt Disney understood.

"Give her to me, Mrs. Travers. Trust me with your precious Mary Poppins. I won’t disappoint you. I swear that every time a person goes into a movie house, from Leicester to St. Louis, they will see George Banks being saved. They will love him and his kids, they will weep for his cares, and wring their hands when he loses his job. And when he flies that kite... they will rejoice. They will sing. In every movie house all over the world, in the eyes and the hearts of my kids, and other kids and their mothers and fathers for generations to come, 
George Banks will be honored. 
George Banks will be redeemed. 
George Banks and all he stands for will be saved."

After that one revealing moment in Travers' prim London sitting room, the rest of the film seems to go by pretty quickly.  Production wraps, royalties are paid, Travers begins working on a new book and hires her maid back again (much to the amusement of her lawyer, who-- did I mention?-- is none other than Wilmott from Jeeves and Wooster.  Fun fact of the day for you.)  And then the film premieres, Travers comes back to California despite not being invited (I was cheering her on the whole way :D) and, dressed in a lovely white evening gown and a wrap I can only imagine she swiped from a hospital operating table, she goes--with Ralph!-- to see Mary Poppins on the big screen.

I knew, before I saw SMB, that P.L. Travers was notoriously displeased with Mary Poppins.  I knew that she refused to talk much of it in interviews later.  I knew that she reportedly left the theatre in tears.  And yet I watched the final scenes of the movie hoping desperately that there would be a happy ending anyway.  That she'd hug Walt Disney and tell him the movie was perfect.  That Jane would somehow be able to walk again.  That Dick Sherman would get his live trained penguins.

None of that happened.

Instead, P.L. Travers sees her creation-- and Walt Disney's-- living and breathing and talking and singing in the theatre.  And she sees the family, at the end, running off to go fly the kite, slang possessive verbs thrown to the breeze.  And she starts to cry.

Not because she hates the movie.  Not because she finds it a travesty.  But because it ended as it should have.  Because Mr. Banks was saved.  Because the heart of her story was preserved.  Because her father was, in some small way, redeemed.

And also, ostensibly, because she can't abide cartoons.

Perhaps that was not really why P.L. Travers cried at the end of Mary Poppins.  Perhaps, in reality, she didn't derive satisfaction from seeing Mr. Banks get his happy ending with singing and dancing.  But the stickler in me, the one who insists on having everything by the book no matter what, is okay with that.

Because when you tell a story, you don't always stick to facts.  That's what storytelling is all about.  Fixing life up a little bit with imagination.

"George Banks and all he stands for will be saved. Maybe not in life, but in imagination. Because that's what we storytellers do. We restore order with imagination. We instill hope again and again and again."

As a storyteller, that quote resonated with me more than any other line in the film.

Instilling hope.

That's what I want a story to do.  Sure, I want realism.  I want a sense of "being there."  I want a good plot and relatable characters and a good moral message.  But ultimately, I want to use words to instill hope in people.

The ending of Saving Mr. Banks, a movie about storytellers and love and families and song and persnickety authors and beloved children's movies, instills hope.  For me, anyway.  For the hyperactive four-year-old who sat enthralled in front of the 11-inch television set watching Julie Andrews sing and dance and be practically perfect in every way.  For the bookworm eight-year-old who decided she was going to be a writer someday, plain and simple.  For the frustrated sixteen-year-old who wondered if maybe the stories in her head, happy-ful and everyday and down to earth, weren't worth writing.  

But a story that's happy-ful and everyday and down-to-earth is worth writing.  And reading.  And loving.  Because a story can instill hope.  

Monday, August 18, 2014

Half-Baked, Half-Begun, and All That Jazz

What ho, followers all!

It is my very great pleasure today to share with you a little Announcing Thing-- in short, news of a New Blog on the horizon, penned and crafted by a brilliant sister of mine, the Anne-girl.

Half Baked is a blog dedicated to the art of writing and exploring what goes into a solid story. The blog operates on the principle that most stories are like cake, delicious and scrumptious and all the other cake words that are out there. But just like cake, a story can come out gooey and shaky in the middle, half baked. This blog is meant to help turn awesome ideas into solid, fully baked novels. Stop by on September first to join in the release party. There will be contests and a giveaway and, of course, virtual cake.

So do stop by on the first of September, lovely people, and enjoy the fun! Anne-girl is one of the most knowledgeable plotters out there (seriously, she can spin a yarn like nobody's business, and actually make it make SENSE which is quite a feat in this day and age) and if there's anyone who should be writing a blog like this, it is she.   (Also, don't forget to check out her primary blog.)

Looking forward to seeing you all at the Half Baked blog party!!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Another Study in Style: More Famous Authors Handle Sherlock

By popular demand, A Study in Style is back, and I found some more famous authors who were willing to try their hands at novelizing BBC's Sherlock.

(Translation: I spent way too much time pulling my hair out, hunched at my computer keyboard trying to figure out how this nonsense should appear in print.  It was fun.)

A quick note-- in the last installment of this feature I tried to keep the characters' dialogue completely faithful to the lines spoken in the show.  This time I have tossed caution to the wind, and, in most cases, retained the general essence of the dialogue while modifying the language to fit each author's particular method.  Hopefully you will not find much madness therein.


P.G. Wodehouse

It isn't so much the violin playing I mind, when it's all said and done.  A chap can endure a bit of violin playing now and again, so long as it doesn't screech and howl and sigh and nag at him every confounded moment of the day.  The old eardrums can only handle so much, you know.  And I have to admit, dashed hard as it is to do, that Sherlock wasn't the worst violinist I'd ever heard.  That distinction belongs solely to Brunnhilde Ovenbottom, my third cousin twice removed on my mother's side, and by gum she'd earned it through all the torturous string-scrape sessions she'd performed at family gatherings in bygone days. Mind you, this was when I was Young and Youthful and Better Able to Bear It.  A fellow's ears age along with the rest of him, so I am told, and I doubt I'd be able to endure Brunnhilde's ghastly instrument-wheezing these days.  Lucky for the rest of us, the last I'd heard of her she eloped with a tone-deaf cable repairman.  They'll be happy together.

But I'm wandering from the subject.  What I mean to say is that the noise issuing from Sherlock's musical contraption was, when you get right down to it, the least offensive of his habits as a flatmate.  When one is going halfsies on living quarters, he'd said, one wants to know the worst of the other, and I agreed with him.  Jolly sensible, he is, from time to time.  But the violin playing wasn't the worst of it.  No, it was the severed heads in the icebox (fancy opening up the old i.b., all set for a nice cold ham sandwich or something of that delectable sort, mouth simply watering as one contemplated, and then being greeted face-to-face by the ugly mug of some poor chap whose body is looking for its topmost part-- I don't know why it is, but such things always seem to put me off my feed for some reason).  It was the callers coming at all odd hours of the day or not, sometimes to sob out a story of Woe and Loss and Mysterious Death, and sometimes just to say "what ho" and tell Sherlock what they thought of him, which wasn't much.  It was the unexpected jumping into cabs and sallying forth with a hoot and a holler to who-knows-where, often with the old Life placed precariously and without permission on the Line, with never a by-your-leave or are-you-comfortable-John or shall-we-stop-and-have-our-tea-before-you-go-berserk.

Enough to drive any chap mad, I tell you, unless he's there already.

~general internal complaining by John in the first series

Baroness Orczy

A brilliant, surging, lightning-quick, cunning, crafty mind, a mind above all others that surround it, conscious of its own genius, yet not above the doubts and fears that plague the mind of every man in his turn, the mind of a great man and perhaps even a good one.

And on that bleak, rain-swept day in London-- that seat of thronging, swarming human beings where crime and justice intertwined so minutely as to make the difference between the two almost incomprehensible-- the owner of that mind stood in a mortuary, a riding crop clasped in one powerful hand, about to exact vengeance upon the lifeless body of one poor soul who had given his own earthly cage for the benefit and good of that great master, Science.

White-coated like an angel of mercy, hovering near yet not too near, a young woman stood watching him, love and pity and perplexity all at war within her heart, as she summoned the courage to speak to the man she silently, devoutly, hopelessly adored.

"If you please," she said, with a tremble of her lovely rouged lips, "I could not help but wonder if perhaps you would like to have coffee."

~A Study in Pink

E.E. Cummings

I was being asked so if I didn't understand
best man to be,
it is because
be best friend I never expected to anybody's.
certainly of not the best friend and
and kindest
wisest and human being
I have ever knowing had of the good fortune.
John, I man am a ridiculous.
Redeemed the warmth and constancy only by
your friendship.
But as I apparently your best friend am
Congratulate you I can not
on of companion your choice.
I can, actually, no.
Mary, you deserve this man, when I say,
 of which I am capable it is the highest compliment.

~The Sign of Three

Charles Dickens

Mr. Philip Anderson was the kind of man whom everybody noticed as they rushed to and from the office (everyone rushing, rushing, rushing, and to where? and what?), and who made himself noticed when no one was kind enough to do it for him, but nobody paid much attention to him on the whole.  He was a mild, quickly-moving, pale-browed sort of person, with a face nearly forgettable (he had grown a beard to make himself more apparent in a crowd, though it did little for his appearance), but his character was one of interest, intensity and interjection.  His opinions, though many, were not often heard, and so he had learned to insert himself into conversation whenever the flow opened up sufficiently for him to do so.  In the past, doors had both metaphorically and literally been closed in his face, but why should that deter him?  The world should listen, the world should hear, the world should comprehend, the world should know and understand and acknowledge and take to heart the words of even the lowliest forensic specialist.  For why should his thoughts and theories be of less import than those of the head Detective Inspector?  Nay, my lords and gentlemen, my inspectors and investigators, my graces and majesties, it will not do to ignore, to turn away from the truth you know to be sound-- the voice of a man is a voice no matter who the man may be, and Anderson's voice is as plausible a thing as Sherlock Holmes', be it never half so deep and commanding.

"The thing is clear as crystal," Anderson said earnestly to Lestrade one afternoon in the street, "as crystal, I say.  That's the only way he could have done it.  It's plain as the nose on your face."

The nose on Anderson's face was undeniably plainer than that on Lestrade's, but Lestrade was a prudent man and made no remark in that regard.  Instead he shook his head, drank his coffee, and said no, that Sherlock Holmes was dead, and the matter ought to lay to rest once and for all.

~The Empty Hearse

Martha Finley

Mr. Mycroft Holmes had spent a quarter of an hour in his younger brother's drawing-room, attempting to convince him to take on a case of national importance.  He was as yet unsuccessful, for with every persuasive argument he made, the younger Mr. Holmes merely shook his dark curls in defiance and would not listen to reason.  Indeed, he replied to the cajoling of his brother with rank falsehoods, which fell so heavy on the ear of his friend Mr. Watson as to make him tremble from head to toe.  Furthermore, he made insinuating remarks as to the nature of the elder Mr. Holmes' diet-- it saddens me, gentle reader, to relate that the elder Mr. Holmes ate hot bread every morning for breakfast and further ruined his health with cream candy and coffee, for he had neglected the training of his parents in his boyhood and had refused stewed fruit ever since his days at university.

"The name of the gentleman in question is Andrew West," said the elder Mr. Holmes, "and he was found... dead... by Battersea Station this morning with a deep wound to the temple, administered so violently as to--"

Here he was interrupted by Mr. Watson, who, upon hearing the gruesome words, burst into an agony of sobs and tears in pity for the poor deceased man, even though he was merely a train-man and not a plantation owner.

"Here, here," said the elder Mr. Holmes impatiently, with that callous nature so natural to him, "none of that. This tragic death is directly related to the missing battle plans of which I have told you.  These plans must be found, Sherlock, and you must do the finding."

The younger Mr. Holmes gave his brother a look of grave displeasure.  "Shan't," said he, and turned down his lower lip in an expression of petulance.

The elder Mr. Holmes uttered two or three oaths, stopping only when he saw what distress he was causing to the gentle Mr. Watson, and turned back to his brother.  "Do not make me order you, Sherlock," said he, coldly, "or I shall send you to your room on bread and water, for disobedience is above all things most displeasing to me."

Mr. Watson resolved, that very afternoon, to plead with his wayward friend.

~The Great Game


I have to confess I rather like doing these-- any further suggestions for something I could adapt to suit various authors? Sherlock seems to be exhausted for now-- or at least my creative capacities are beginning to go kaput in that direction.  Ideas would be welcome! :D

Friday, August 1, 2014

I'd Like to Share: August 2014

Rather slim pickings this month, I'm afraid, but hopefully we shall have more nominees in September.  (HOW CAN IT BE AUGUST ALREADY.  WHAT IS HAPPENING.)

In the Inspirational category...

Miss Dashwood nominated Ann Voskamp for How Women Can Stop Judging Each Other
Kiri Liz nominated Hayden for Why I Loved Being Homeschooled
Lizzie nominated Hayden for Turn Left

In the Humorous category...

Miss Jane Bennet nominated Marissa Baker for The Mystery of the Weigh Stations
Miss Elliot nominated Miss Dashwood for Lorna Doone (2000) Review

In the Informative category...

Naomi nominated Elizabethany for I Write

In the Just Plain Interesting Category...

The Elf nominated Haley for In Defense of Fanny Price
Hamlette nominated Anna Ilona Mussman for Dilemma-Framing: Why The Hunger Games Needs Yellow Boots

In the Miscellaneous category...

Sara Lewis nominated Elizabeth Rose for Sweeter Than Wine

Kudos to everyone who correctly guessed that last month's quote (about the beetles) was spoken by Miss Phoebe Browning of Wives and Daughters.  This month's line is as follows:

"Are you coming in, Henrietta, or is my cottage insufficiently grand for you?"

Your submissions for the September edition may go here.  :)