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Sherlock Ficlet Thing

I saw a homeless man last night walking home, which got me thinking about homelessness in the Doyle stories, both in the obvious ways and more metaphorically. So have a bit of BBC!John as write of the Victorian tales, thinking his way throuh some of that and how it applies to his own self.

Which makes it seem more serious than I mean it. Really it was a chance to play with fic-writing again. Enjoy.


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I am, in a not so subtle way, falling head over heels back in love with Doctor Who. I feel like my fannish life is so given to extremes it must be almost cliche, but honestly: where has this show been for the last several years?

I had plowed through series six and seven in the run-up to Capaldi's debut and gotten a bit burned out. I still have some series issues with how he talked about the women characters, turned making fun of them into a joke and not even a particularly good one, but I think a lot of that was just getting a belly-full of it too quickly. Also I've always liked the stand-alone episodes much more than the ones trying to develop some deeper plot, which the end of S7 definitely trended toward. The upshot being I watched "Deep Breath" and was just so burned out I never pushed forward.

WHat is it now, two years away, and it's a bit like a field lying fallow. "Into the Dalek" was just wonderful! Campy sci-fi fun, it had something of the feel of "The Unquiet Dead" (the Charles Dickens episode fro way back in series one), but with some really deep moral quandaries too. It was dark, really dark but without feeling dark, or at least without feeling heavy, leaden. It's our Doctor the eternal optimist facing some really dark material, and it's brilliant. Even if te ending left me a bit uneasy. I'd love to dig into that, but I'm not quite sureow you could without "breaking" it.

And yes, I'm trying to avoid spoilers here. Are spoilers a concern so far out?

"Robot of Sherwood" is magical in another way. It's a history episode, filled with all the romance of an Arthurian legend. I say romance and think other people hear, you know, love story in the modern romcom sense, but what I really mean is a tale of sentiment and idealism, something that gets the spirit moving. Romance in the older sense. And this just had me smiling from start to finish, because it's such of all of that. There' beauty and light and adventure, a tad overtold in parts (it is writtten by Mark Gatiss, and it shows in the best way) but really just a rich character story. Reminds me a lot of the S5 theme of "we're all just stories in the end," and that being enough to conquer something even more final than death. About being a legend vs. being "real."

Which got me thinking about Sherlock, and something I've bemoaned a bit since the last series there: Mary's "who you really are, doesn't matter" line. Because I think this episode gets at a lot of what Mark and Steven were aiming for in that comment, and in a way that seems much more satisfying to me. In the DW episode, Robin Hood is supposed to be just a legend, not real, to the point the Doctor can't believe he's not an illusion or some sort of alien deception. A real Robin Hood is impossible to him. The episode ends with Robin challenging him on this point: they're both "the story behind the legend" in a sense, both are being mythified, and that myth serves a bigger purpose than reality. And in Sherlock we've seen that happened not once but twice in S4: Mary's post-mortem "life" standing in such stark contrast to the character we got to see when she was alive, and John's and Sherlock's increasingly dark and even abusive relationship being repurposed a the final cout of appeals, the heroes bursting forth from Rathbone Place in those final frames.

What puzzles me is why I find the Whovian version so encouraging and upliting and even beautiful, while the Sherlockian version just depresses me. Is it level of investment (me personally, I mean) in Sherlock and John as "real" people rather tan just as an encouraging myth? Is it genre, fantasy in the truest sense versus the hyper-realism of the detective/mystery genre? Just the fact that this is one beat in a show I enjoy as opposed to the final beat in something I probably loved in a much truer, certainly deeper sense? I honestly don't know, but that distinction still fascinates me.

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I read "The Musgrave Ritual" today (link), and there's a lot to love. The frame story of Holmes being a slob and using the tale to get out of the housework is one of the most endearing things I've ever read, and it's so full of nice little character details. Fascinating that some of the things we BBC fans associate with Holmes, like cigarettes in the Persian slippers and mail nailed down to the hearth by a dagger, are actually Watson's doings.

And any time anyone implies Watsonis a bit of a dunderhead, I think I'm going to refer them to this master-class in sassy witticism: I have always held, too, that pistol practice should be distinctly an open-air pastime; and when Holmes, in one of his queer humours, would sit in an arm-chair with his hair-trigger and a hundred Boxer cartridges, and proceed to adorn the opposite wall with a patriotic V. R. done in bullet-pocks, I felt strongly that neither the atmosphere nor the appearance of our room was improved by it. Brilliant!

Then there's the case itself. I think what I love most about it is, it's not about Holmes being some rational god, it's just him being a geek and working out a basic physics problem. I mean, it's still got all those elements we like (romance, intrigue, fiery women running off into the blue (GREE, I'm looking at you here), but at the end of the day it's still Holmes in his infancy, "young, scrappy, and hungry" as the phrase goes, and every inch exulting in his art.

As a BBC fan, I was struck by that phrase, "the final court of appeals," which Holmes uses to describe his status when he had the reputation to let him do the consulting detective thing full-time (as opposed to the eary days of this fic). I do think the show got it wrong, that this wasn't some other identity that made the personal stuff matter less, it was the freedom to be who he really was, to rely fully on the trade that was custom-made for him (literally). Because this story s anythin but heroic, and anything but abnegating the personal, the importance of those little grace-notes of who we really are. But it was interesting to see it in its original context, definitey.

This entry was originally posted at http://marta-bee.dreamwidth.org/614.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

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The new LiveJournal TOS have set off something of a mass exodus among my friends. I've not made the time to work out just how concerned I should be, but enough of you are uncomfortable using El Jay, and that's good enough for me.

I'll be crossposting going forward and welcome comments at both sites. That may change once I wrap my head arond the TOS, of course, in which case I may go just-Dreamwidth, but I'm not making that jump yet.

This entry was originally posted at http://marta-bee.dreamwidth.org/260.html. Please comment there using OpenID.


I officially have a day off next week. Tuesday night is Second Seder, which means a dinner party/book club with some friends down in Brooklyn. We're talking about whether language is normative, whether there's a right and wrong way to use words, or whether it all depends on context. (My friends are former and current philosophy academics, and we're using a philosopher who happens to be Jewish as our springboard, though this night (not unlike all other night with them) tends to be freewiling.)

There will be wine by religious requirement, and most likely Scotch to follow; and I probably won't get home until the wee hours of the night. So yes, a day off the next day to do some shopping, do my therapy at a decent hour, maybe pick up a movie, seems like the thing.

I am not looking forward to the whole no-bread-for-a-week thing, particularly as I eat out so much. Does anyone know any good, easy casseroles using mashed potatoes rather than pasta?
You know, just talking out loud here... Mary is an orphan, worked as a governess (so pretty tied to one location), and of fairly modest means right up until she marries Watson. Not at all suspicious or funny that she'd have such a rich circle of friends to be off visiting.

It's almost as if Doyle didn't want her underfoot.

stories I've never written

Trying to get the juices flowing. Please play along!

Tell me about a story I haven't written, and I'll give you between one and three sentences from that story.

I'm happy to take on any Tolkien, most Sherlock (Doyle - Granada - Ritchie - BBC), and pretty much anything you've seen me blather on about. Tempt me, please. 

Tonight I actually opened up a file to start a fic. A LOTR fic at that: it was inspired by some V-S celebrations earlier this week, and was meant to be about Bergil ten years after the War of the Ring, trying to decide whether the men his dad killed in Rath Dinen should be categorized as heroes or not as part of a ten-year anniversary celebration in Minas Tirith. I gave it up as a bad job about five words in, but I saved the file and may come back to it.

I want to, quite badly. I have four other ideas in various stages of outline, but when I sit down to actually write, all I get is this profound sense of exhaustion. Some of that is physical - not enough sleep combined with thyroid numbers a bit off. Most of it is stress. But I'm still creative enough to come up with ideas, which is encouraging to me. It's just the execution that's more or less frustrated.

Which is still frustrating, though! Makes me wish I could find something fannish or at least creative to get involved in, something low-stress.

I have been fooling around on Tumblr a bit, but mostly it's self-indulgent whingeing and a bit of performance art. When I'm exhausted and stressed, it's very difficult to not give in to the things I want to say but know I probably shouldn't, and that's where I do that these days. It's more shaming than fun these days, I'm afraid. With some rare exceptions.

I did have another idea, though! Rap battles, like in "Hamilton," only between Lestrade and Gregson in Scarlet. It could be so much fun, if I remembeed ASIS properly!

so, "Beauty"

Someone (shirebound?) asked for my impressions.  First, at an experience level, I had a blast. Took the Kid, who I adore and don't get to spend nearly enough time with. I love going to movies alone so much, I think I forget how nice they can be with other peope. And this is New York, where moviegoing etiquette is a bit looser. So we whooped and cheered and even sang along in a few places. Great fun.

We had some sound quality issues. I don't know if the speakers were too loud or if it's a more universal problem or what, but in some of the songs it was almost cringe-worthy. To the point of being a bit distracting, I'm afraid. But that may have just been our cinema.

I also had a hard time shutting down my brain and seeing past some in-world problems. Without going into major spoilers, there's a lot about the economy and social structure the film imagines that just doesn't make sense. It had a hard time settling down into a time frame, too. But I can chalk that up to me being a bit of a nerd and expecting something a Disney remake was just never going to provide.

There was a lot I loved. The "Bonjour!" scene had a lot of great imagery, and Ian McKellen's acting was just so much fun, so multilayered. And (minor spoilers here) they turned the bookseller into a priest with a small library he lends Belle),and he was such a moral counterweight to the townpeople. I want fic involving him, actually. nd there are some truly stunning visuals, particularly of the scene where Bele is locked in her father's cell.

I'm not entirely sure I'd pay movie theater $$$ to see it, except if I was going to see it with a daughter or close frineds orthe like and wanted to make an event of it. But it's definitely worth seeing. 
So I was nearly through a longish post on this article in The Atlantic. The original article was about how when we start believing things ot because we believe they're true but because our identity requires it, it's almost impossible for other people to change our minds. (Exampe: if you're an evangelical Christian you're probably going to believe evolution is false, because this is what culturally is expected of that group; vocally questioning evolution is the epistemological equivalent of sticking a bumper sticker on your car, at some level. And my pointing out the scientific proof for evolution won't change your mind, because your belief was never about that.) Which I found fascinating as a philosopher, but what really got the mental juices churning was when my brain connected this to TJLC in the Sherlock fandom and the way same fans "believed" it, shared meta, and the like.

I'd pull a "not all TJLC-ers" -- I really thought we were headed toward canon Johnlock, not because I wanted to belong to some group (actually I find many of the more hardcore TJLCers pretty offputting if not worse), but because that was my honest assessment of the show. But the phenomenon is interesting, and I really like the philosophy and psychology this article is getting at as a way to understand that. Other things, too, of course, but as I am a fangirl...

Of course, then I hit a link in my toolbar and lost it. Grrr. Too worn out to fully reconstruct it - just go read the thing, and think about it -- so important and interesting in so many different contexts.

Also finally got the first few lines of the Florida fic down in a document. I have a rough idea of where I'm going and am loving the chance to write a Sherlock prequel with all the fun younger Sherlock that allows. We'll see, of course. Most days I'm just so exhausted, it's all I can do to fool around on Tumblr for an hour or so.

Now I'm off with the Kid to see Beauty and the Beast. Ciao!



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