Archive for sherlock holmes

odds and ends

Posted in odds and ends, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on May 11, 2012 by Christopher Pearce

I have to admit, this “light week” has been good for my soul. I’ve been doing a lot more goofing around in my sketchbook and started to get a headway on some summer comics. Teaching comics will resume next week, but I’m fairly certain it will be the last run of them for the 2011-2012 school year. God willing, I’ll use the summer to recharge and start them back up again in September.

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From the library last week, I picked up The Wind through the Keyhole, Stephen King’s latest foray into his Dark Tower series of novels.

Although the seven book series ended in 2004, King decided to go back and insert this short story between the fourth and fifth entries. I’m not finished with the book yet; I usually wait until I’ve completely read a book before I go on the Internet and comment about it. I’m still not going to comment much on the story, which is slight but enjoyable, an untold tale of Roland when he was a young man which wraps around a fairytale like story.

I just wanted to mention how distinctly weird this book makes me feel. It’s so strange to be revisiting these characters again, especially Roland’s ka-tet (consisting of Jake, Eddie, Susannah, and Oy). The Dark Tower series ends those characters’ stories on a pretty definitive note and I had made my peace with not seeing them appear again. To have some new material where I get to spend a little more time in Mid-World is brilliant… but like I said, it makes feel sort of… strange.

Luckily “strange” is probably an emotion King would welcome.

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As a fan of the first series, I’m completely happy that PBS is currently airing Season Two of BBC’s Sherlock, the modern updating of the classic detective series.

The three episodes PBS is airing this month have long since premiered over in Britain and most people I know with interest in the show torrented and watched these episodes months ago.

I thoroughly enjoyed the first episode, a riff on A Scandal in Bohemia which (like the original text) features Irene Adler, the only woman to ever best Sherlock Holmes. I expect I will enjoy the next two episodes as well… however, I wanted to bring up Sherlock for an entirely different reason.

I mentioned how much I liked the first season of Sherlock in February of 2011. For some reason or another, that post generates a TREMENDOUS amount of traffic for this blog. There are no revelatory experiences related, it’s not an amazing piece of writing… but still, people are CONSTANTLY stumbling on the blog by doing a search for “BBC Sherlock” or “Benedict Cumberbatch” or whatever.

It’s an anomaly I’ve always been curious about. Perhaps it will be replicated here?

odds & ends

Posted in odds and ends with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 25, 2011 by Christopher Pearce

It’s not really a priority for me, but I’d love it if my sons were as interested in comics and cartoons as I am. Elliot in particular is at an age where he’s developing his own stable of likes and dislikes and more power to him. I’m not very mindful of forcing my own interests on the lad… but I won’t lie: I have been pleased as punch over Elliot’s newly-born fascination with Nancy and Tubby comics.

I never read either when I was growing up, although I do remember occasionally looking at the Nancy newspaper strip and finding it to be a little… boring for my tastes. Elliot begs to differ about the character and has recently taken to pouring over Drawn and Quarterly’s YOW!- The John Stanley Library, a giveaway comic from last year’s Free Comic Book Day.

I’m not a great study of John Stanley but his comics are really fun. In particular, Elliot’s completely into Nancy’s somewhat-supernatural friend Oona Goosepimple.

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My great TV discovery this past week has been the BBC’s Sherlock. A modern update of the Holmes mythos, the show aired on PBS a few months ago and is newly available on DVD.

I’ve been a fan of Sherlock Holmes since I was a kid, although my starting point was not the Arthur Conan Doyle stories- rather, it was the 1985 movie Young Sherlock Holmes that got me excited about the art of deduction, Dr. Watson, and all that. A re-imagining of the first meeting of Holmes and Watson as teenagers, some of the most ardent fans of Holmes actively dislike the movie for how it monkeys around with already-established continuity. I could have cared less as a kid… and I think my enjoyment of that flick sets me up as exactly the audience for this new Sherlock series- I like the character and the trappings, but I am not hung up with the minutia that so annoys the super-fan.

Anyhow, if you get the chance, check out Sherlock. The actors portraying Watson and Holmes, Martin Freeman and the excellently named Benedict Cumberbatch, have an easygoing chemistry and are fun to watch. Freeman’s Watson is grounded in realism, which is a beautiful counterpoint to Cumberbatch’s crazed, sometimes manic Sherlock. I found the three episodes of Sherlock (ONLY THREE? Damn, Great Britain…) to be far more fun and enjoyable than that Robert Downey Jr. movie from a few year’s back.

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I’m always wary when revisiting a novel I loved when I was a teenager. Many times I find that my love for a book has become tempered with newfound knowledge or understanding, and I won’t get the same enjoyment I got, lo those many moons ago. It’s a fact of life that some books aren’t designed to stand the test of time. I mention this because recently I picked up a copy of Rosemary’s Baby out of my classroom lending library and half-heartedly started re-reading the book. I remember enjoying the book when I was in high school.

Man, Rosemary’s Baby holds up like CRAZY. I’ve been glued to the paperback all week and I am shocked at how good it remains. I remember it being a slightly scary little tale as a teenager, but this was during my heavy Stephen King phase, so “scary” to me often meant re-animated pets or killer cars. The terror in Rosemary’s Baby is more insidious than obvious… at least, until the last fourth of the book, when implication becomes literal.

Feel free to argue with me, but I seriously think Rosemary’s Baby is as good a novel as The Great Gatsby.

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Finally, speaking of Gatsby (as I have for the past two Fridays), it looks like the Baz Luhrmann adaptation has been given a green light (ha!). The big news for many was Luhrmann’s announcement of filming his version of Tom, Daisy, Nick, and the rest in 3-D.  Like, those boats being born back ceaselessly into the past are going to be ALL UP IN YOUR FACE! BAM! GATSBY!

Honestly, I do not have a problem with this AT ALL. When you think about the excesses of society that Fitzgerald portrayed in The Great Gatsby, it makes a kind of sense. I’ve seen three movies in 3-D since the fad/trend began (Coraline/Avatar/Toy Story 3) and I enjoyed all of them. I didn’t feel that 3-D added much to any of those flicks besides Avatar, but it was a fun conceit and a nice novelty. Plus, I think some of Luhrmann’s previous movies show the director to be someone who could adapt 3-D to an interesting effect. Imagine Moulin Rouge in 3-D!

I will also admit, I’m willing to give Luhrmann a tremendous amount of credit. Besides having assembled a top-notch cast (Leo DiCaprio as Gatsby, Toby Maguire as Nick, Carey Mulligan as Daisy), I’m also a tremendous fan of his modernized take on Romeo & Juliet. I use it in my class every year, and for as many warts that version of R&J has, it’s a wonderful tool to get kids interested and understanding the Bard. I look forward to seeing what Luhrmann does with The Great Gatsby.

friday odds and ends

Posted in commentary with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 28, 2010 by Christopher Pearce

– As of this Wednesday, the ’09/’10 school year is over for me! My school district starts quite a bit earlier than most others. It’s a bummer going back to school at the tail end of August, but it’s nice to be off from work while most other people are still sweating it out in the classroom.

– Various teacherly things I am doing this summer: I’m teaching a week-long prep class for students who want to take (or retake) their Ohio Graduation Tests in both Reading and Writing. I’m doing some work for my school’s flex credit program (more on this in a few weeks). I might be substitute teaching for summer school, although that’s tentative right now. I should also relax a little, I suppose.

– Ellen and I have been burning through the Netflix movies: we watched Sherlock Holmes and Fantastic Mr. Fox this week. I’m a big Holmes fan from when I was a kid, reading the short story collections in study hall. I can see why aspects of this movie pissed off hardcore fans, but I liked a lot of it. I was relieved by the ending, but the relentless build-up for the inevitable sequel kind of bugged me.. Fantastic Mr. Fox was really lovely. I can see why it made squat at the box office, but as a fan of the book, I can say I walked away pretty happy.

– I’ve been on a Saturday Night Live reading kick lately and I’ve finally gotten around to reading Wired: The Short Life & Fast Times of John Belushi by Bob Woodward. I’ve never been a huge fan of Belushi, although he’s undeniably talented as an actor and a comedian. I think one of the reasons I never dug him is that so many guys I know in real life have been unconsciously influenced by Belushi that I feel like I grew up with the actor embedded in some of my friends. Like, people act like Bluto from Animal House who have never even heard of Animal House. That’s not fair to Belushi, I suppose… but of the original Not Ready for Prime Time Players, I’ve always preferred Dan Aykroyd.

The book is lurid and somewhat annoying in the way that Woodward constantly stacks the dramatic deck with anecdotes that foreshadow Belushi’s death. I can see why so many people who knew the actor were angry when this was published.

– Since school’s ended, I’ve also had (to my great surprise) time to play video games! From our local public library, I rented Lego Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues for the Wii. These types of games are about as far as I go into playing video games… the more realistic stuff makes me uptight and nervous. The Lego games are always fun, although I have to admit, playing a standard type video game on the Nintendo Wii is a little annoying.

– I also took out that massive remastered boxed CD set from The Beatles, full of every single one of their albums. I have to say, I’m really enjoying the music, but I’m more enjoying the fact that I didn’t plop down $200 bucks for the set.

– Finally, I had a truly epic haul at the thrift store the other day… tons of vintage Family Circus, Hi & Lois, and a bunch of other collections of comics I had never heard of! Those always make for fun Thrift Store Finds columns. I also found a first edition of the first ever collection of Doonesbury comics! There will be a new Thrift Store Finds up tomorrow and then for (hopefully) the next few weeks. I let those slip a bit, not because they aren’t written… moreso that scanning all the pages for examples is time intensive.