Saturday, July 30, 2011

Baker Street Saturday - Moffat-grams

     Did anyone watch White Collar last week? The one where Neal has to spend millions of dollars to attract the attention of the bad guy?

     Did anyone notice the use of the Moffat-grams? I swear I've heard the term before but cannot find it online. So my definition, a Moffat-gram is writing on the screen to pass information to the viewer in a passive way, neither disturbing nor disrupting the fourth wall.

     Steven Moffat's Sherlock did this in the first season. When a character received a text message, we see them looking at the phone and read the writing in the air next to them. We no longer need a close up of the phone and try to read its text.

     When Sherlock Holmes is quickly deducing one fact after another, all we see is him kneeling next to a body and looking. But the words floating next to him take us on a wild trip and we not only see how quickly his mind works but understand what he's seeing along with him. (And yet the brilliant detective still makes more deductions than we ever could.)

     White Collar did this when Neal was spending money. They showed products he was trying and buying and words floated next to it in thin air, telling us the name and dollar amount.

Not to end the comparison there:

     Then toward the end of the episode, every cell phone in one area bleeped with the exact same text message. It was very cool - and yet, somehow reminiscent of the first episode of Sherlock in which every cell phone bleeped with the exact same text message - which had writing floating in the air around each and every one. It was so well done.

     Obviously it was so well done or others wouldn't be adopting the suave new way of imparting information to us lucky viewers.

     So what about you? Have you seen the Moffat-grams? Do you like them? Do you have a problem with them? Do you think it’s a brilliant move that’ll change how episodes and movies are expressed to us?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Monday Misc. - 'Psych' Book Review

Psych: Mind Over Magic
by William Rabkin

A novel based on the characters/show of Psych on USA Network.
This book was fun and entertaining. Well, they're all fun and entertaining and they're all like the show. One problem I have is the author goes a tiny bit too long on some of the antics the boys get up to. It works for the show, a visual medium, but I get caught up in the written format. However, it doesn't deter from my enjoyment.

I especially liked the Sherlock Holmes comment and the Richard Kimble reference. The author doesn't just mention them but uses who they are to depict something in the book. I like that - basically, if you didn't know Sherlock Holmes or Richard Kimble, you'd understand via connotation but you wouldn't get it.

Oh, and Jack McGee was thrown in there too - and I knew excactly who he was.

There was a running joke throughout the book of a particularly strange name (P'tol P'kah) which I assumed would get annoying but the joke did not stale.

This is what the back of the book says:
When a case takes Shawn and Gus into the Fortress of Magic, an exclusive club for professional magicians where outsiders are rarely allowed, they're treated to a private show by the hottest act on the Vegas Strip, seven-foot-tall "Martian Magician" P'tol P'kah. But when the wizard does his signature illusion and dissolves in a tank of water, he never rematerializes. And in his place there's a chubby corpse in a three-piece suit and a bowler hat.
Eager to keep his golden boy's image untarnished, the magician's manager hires Shawn adn Gus to uncover the identity of the dead man and find otu what happened to P'tol P'kah. But to do so, the pair will have to pose as a new mentalist act and go undercover in a world populated by magicians, mystics, Martians, madmen...and one murderer.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Baker Street Saturday - Haikus

Sherlock Holmes Haikus

Dogs, death and the moor
The Hound of the Baskervilles
Watson without Holmes

In The Devil's Foot
Holmes Just About Kills Watson
Watson Then Saves Holmes

Monday, July 18, 2011


Oma = grandma (in German)

My Oma died last week. It's heartbreaking news.

I remember travelling up to Canada for Christmas when I was very young. (We drove from Chicago and left before dawn. My little sister was put in the car asleep, woke up about a block after we left and asked, "Are we there?")

I took a plane by myself to visit her one time. I remember three things:

1.) It rained the ENTIRE time
2.) I missed an earthquake in Chicago (thank you, Oma!)
3.) We went into the (soaked) garden every day and Oma cut chives and made buttered toast and put the fresh chives on it for me.

She didn't know this but I still do that to this day as a treat (though the closest I can get is fresh chives from the store!)

Oma was a bookkeper, teacher, housewife and writer - among many other things.

One thing that was cool about Oma was her philosophy of life.

A fond memory my Dad has took place when he was a little boy. She sighed and said, "I want to quit the human race."
My Dad took her words literally and said, "No, no! You can't give up now! You have to win!" He said he didn't even know she'd entered a race!!

To quote Oma herself:

"...when I was about 5 years old and heard my parents and their friends talk about cases, where kids were born and had a supposed memory of former lives, I came to a conclusion that our soul, or what ever we want to call that spark of life, goes back into a big pot after we die and the contents gets mixed by time and when any other living thing gets to be, to be born, a little of this mixture gets to be the new spark of life...I still have not found a better explanation. No one has come back yet to tell us."

How awesome is that? It's a beautiful notion and one of the best I've come across to describe how all living things are connected and even intertwined.

Oma was a great reader. She loved books and she wrote, too.

This is Oma on her first day of school. I see I inherited my *love* of school from her! Would you look at that attitude? She was born to be an Oberth even if not by blood.

Oma loved dogs. Cats, too.

She's going to be missed by countless people. She (and Opa (Opa=grandpa in German)) created this massive, massive - seriously there are tons of Oberths in America - family.

She's lived in at least three countries and she traveled a lot. (Obviously!)

She learned English by watching soap operas.

She was a mother of five - the woman gave birth to five babies in three years! (She had Irish twins and actual twins. I'm the oldest of the youngest.)
Actual Twins (My Dad & Uncle)

She got to be a great-great grandmother. That's got to have been so cool for her - a great-great grandmother!!!! She had five kids, eleven grandkids, twelve great-grandkids and two great-great grandkids. (I hope I got that right.)

My Mom told that after she married my Dad, she was going to attempt something known as 'cooking'. So she asked Oma for some of Dad's favorite recipes. Oma said she didn't have anything written down and Mom thought she was being secretive but Oma said she was welcome to watch her. So Mom followed her around the kitchen while scribbling notes furiously as Oma grabbed a chunk of this and a handful of that. She sprinkled some spices and tossed a bunch of whatever-else...Mom wrote recipes as best she could! (Mom did a pretty good job, actually, because before I became a vegan, my favorite dinner was Oma/Mom's beef stroganoff.)

Last winter, Mom and I were going to attempt to veganize Oma's beef stroganoff recipe but with my sister's wedding planning, Christmas and then my getting sick for a month, we pushed it off for the winter of 2011. Now when we attempt to veganize the recipe, the special connection to Oma will be more pronounced. And a wonderful reminder in the months to come that she's not really gone...

My father called me from Canada, from Oma's house. (I got a cell phone call from 'Oma' which made me sad!) He noticed a doll in her kitchen. A chef doll that my Mom made maybe 25 years ago - still in Oma's kitchen after all these years! After my parents divorce and everything - sitting right there in her kitchen by the phone!

Oma, ich liebe dich. Or as you'd always say in response, Ich liebe dich, Schatz.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Baker Street Saturday - Jeremy Brett's Fan Letter To Himself

How cool is this guy?

I don't know if anyone deserves credit for sharing this with the world but if someone does - thank you for sharing this with the world!

"One incident that David Burke recounted brought the house down at The Northern Musgraves' Jeremy Brett Memorial Lunch. It is a tale that reveals not only Brett's humour and eccentricity, but also his endearing, self-effacing qualities:

Jeremy said to me on one occasion, ‘I was feeling so low the other day that I sent myself a fan letter.'

‘Are you serious?’

‘I'm absolutely serious.’

‘What did you write to yourself?’

‘"Dear Jeremy,

I would just like to say what a wonderful actor you are. Your Sherlock Holmes puts every other attempt at the part in the shade. Basil Rathbone is not fit to clean your boots; and Douglas Wilmer and Robert Stephens should beg you to give them lessons. You're much prettier than all of them, for a start. There is only one word for your performance — magic. Please send me a signed photograph.


Joe Bloggs.

P.S. I've heard that you're really a nice person, too."’

‘Did you really write that?’

‘Yes, I did.’

‘Did you send it?’

‘Yes. I put a first-class stamp on it. I wanted to get it as soon as possible. It came the next morning.’

‘And did you read it?’

‘Of course I read it. I read it a dozen times. I felt wonderful afterwards.’

‘Well, did you send yourself a signed photograph?’

‘David, I may be mad — but I'm not barking mad! In any case, the bugger didn’t send a stamped addressed envelope!’”

Saturday, July 9, 2011

'The Office' Anniversary & 'Sherlock' Pics

(If you don't like spoilers of any kind for Sherlock, don't scroll down to the pics. They're pics of filming but might be weird with that season 1 cliffhanger still looming over us fans...)

The original, British version of the Office premiered 10 years ago today.

I've only seen a handful of episodes but Martin Freeman is adorable (in a completely different way than he is as John Watson, yet that 'a' word comes to mind) and perfect in the role of the mousy, shy, practical joker.

He was endearing in Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy as Arthur Dent. (As if Martin Freeman wasn't adorable enough, they put him in pajamas...)

I was lucky enough to get to see Hitchhiker at the El Capitan in Hollywood. Before the show, the music entertained us as we found our seats. The live music played by an orchestra!

After the show, we got to go downstairs for the exhibit in which props from the movie were on display. (Unfortunately, no Martin Freeman was waiting behind glass. *sad face*)

It was so cool!

Of course, Martin Freeman is amazing as the latest incarnation of John Watson in BBC's Sherlock - which is filming as we speak.

And, speaking of adorable, I mean Sherlock, here are some pics from shooting (literally) courtesy of the BBC America Blog and Flickr. They aren't the highest quality but they are cool. They also don't show Martin Freeman much.

It looks like they're holding hands! At first, I thought Watson is holding Sherlock back from shooting someone. Then I guessed Martin Freeman was attracting Benedict Cumberbatch's attention - but since it's across three pics, it seems unlikely.

My theory (of the holding hands) is that Sherlock and Watson are handcuffed but since this is rehearsal, they're not using handcuffs so Martin Freeman is simply holding onto Benedict Cumberbatch's sleeve.

What story can you make up?

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Baker Street Saturday - Granada's Sherlock Holmes

I finished Granada's Sherlock Holmes with David Burke and then Edward Hardwicke as Watson and the awesomely talented Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes.

This series focused on the original Sherlock Holmes stories written by Doyle. In fact, the episodes say 'adapted for television by' because they are so close to the originals, they weren't even rewritten.

This made Brett's performance even more spectacular because he took on Holmes as Holmes. Not an updated version, not a re-imagined version but the original man himself.

And, after reading the entire collection of original stories and then watching this series - wow!

David Burke is a sparkly-eyed, wonder-struck Watson. (You should see his expression when he meets Mycroft – the only man Sherlock admits is smarter than him.)

Edward Hardwicke is an outstanding Watson with the kindest, most comforting voice you can imagine. He is devoted to Holmes but will put him in his place as needed.

Jeremy Brett flails his limbs, laughs abruptly, darts his eyes, jumps onto furniture, sniffs people while talking to them and shows a cold, calculating brilliance in one moment and heart and soul in the next.

There were some strange episodes. The Last Vampyre comes to mind. I liked the short story better than this two-parter. In fact, the twist got lost in the TV show and it wasn’t as cool. The Master Blackmailer – I swear I do not remember a single drag queen in any of Doyle’s stories.

Not even Granada, Hardwicke and Brett could salvage The Hound of the Baskervilles. I’ve not talked about Hound on my Blog but that has got to be the slowest moving, most boring story anyone has ever written. (I’m sorry Mr. Doyle!)

And The Cardboard Box was hysterical in a horrific kind of way. If you read the story first and know what’s in the cardboard box and see Grenada make it a Christmas story and the box is put under the tree to be opened at a party…that was more suspenseful than BBC’s Sherlock season one cliff hanger!

The Man With the Twisted Lip, Silver Blaze, The Final Problem, The Empty House, and The Devil’s Foot were a few of my literary favorites and the series brought them to visual life splendidly.

Though, Silver Blaze is unquestionably one you must read before you watch.

The Dying Detective was also well done.

Oh! My heart just broke into pieces when Holmes explains himself to Watson in the The Empty House! Jeremy Brett is a master at his craft.

Suffice it to say, I wish every story was televised with Brett as Holmes and Hardwicke as Watson and that they’d been able to film even more. Original stories. How cool would that have been?

Almost as cool as the entirety of the Granada series itself, I suppose.

What do you think?