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'T' is for Talisker by Iwantthatcoat

Highly recommended! Mycroft hires the stalwart crew of My Jet Now to tote his family to Eurus's new secure prison, and Mycrft arranes for a bit of in-flight entertainment to keep Sherlock occupied. Really, all the characters just felt so right, it was like a lost bit of canon, which shouldn't really be possible given how different the tones of Sherlock & Cabin Pressure are. Mycroft and Arthur particularly. I found myself smiling and even giggling a bit throughout.

This entry was originally posted at https://marta-bee.dreamwidth.org/9330.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
Today I had to tell my boss we won't be able to collect at least $10k owed our office, because we didn't document them correctly at the time.

Boss was surprisingly okay with this. We set a new policy that will prevent this particular problem from happening again, which it wouldn't. The real take-home message is: when you're doing something new, ask Marta what she needs to get us paid for it.

Which is never going to happen, and the way this is being parsed as unavoidable, unpredictable, and unforeseeable is just...

... *blinks* ...

... ... ... ...

... Yeah. This is not okay. Should not be at least.

This befuddlement at why we're not doing as well as we should, coupled with a refusal to include me on the planning change s I'm left playing catch-up and trying to plug holes on stupid, entirely avoidable missteps months after the fact, is exhausting. Also hilarious. Or it would be, if it didn't mean I didn't feel like I could ask for a well-deserved and long overdue raise. But really, there is some dark humor at work here.

This entry was originally posted at http://marta-bee.dreamwidth.org/9139.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
I've been binging "Last Man Standing." If you're not famliar: it's Tim Allen's latest sitcom where he runs marketing for a sporting-goods store. The vibe's a lot like "Home Improvement" actually -- there are loads of in-jokes/references to that show, but the character's got a very similar life situation, psychology, politics, all that. Definitely not high art, but as intellectual junk food goes, it consistently hits the sweet spot.

They're canceling the show (canceled already? As I said - Netflix...) and I've heard some talk about the politics. The father and at least one of the daughters definitely has a conservative streak (they even quote Barry Goldwater), and liberalism gets painted for laughs sometimes. There are some definite Archie Bunker-Mike Stivic dynamics with one of the daughter's boyfriend/husbands. On the one hand... as sitcoms about middle-class white families go, it's not that bad because they actually show people having political disagreements with well-articulated positions, and the oldest daughter (who's pretty solidly liberal) wins as many arguments as the more conservative characters do. Even when I personally think she shouldn't. It's funny but also pretty grounded in politics and world events, more so than a lot of similar sitcoms.

On the other hand... there's a lot of white privilege at work here, across the spectrum. It's a bit weird to watch, because things that seem so far out of the main (you don't need government to provide healthcare because families really can provide for their own! If you work hard and are smart you're pretty much guaranteed to achieve your dreams, and when they don't pan out it's an unfathomable injustice!)... well, I'm left wondering if this is how middle America actually sees themselves, if these expectations are sincere rather than laughtrack-worthy. It's a bit disorienting to watch, somehow.

This entry was originally posted at http://marta-bee.dreamwidth.org/8842.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

On Molly

I stumbled across some Discourse (TM) over at Tumblr regarding Sherlolly tonight. The details don’t particularly matter -- the people posting thoroughly earned the capital-D in that moniker, as I recall, and it was the slightly snappy attitude I’ve seen too many places in too many different fandoms to want to dwell on. But it did get me thinking about Sherlolly generally, and how it played out (or didn’t) in S4.

See, I love Molly Hooper, particularly in S1 & S2 but also as the show evolved. I love imagining her going to post mortems while in training and Sherlock just kind of crashing them, turning up with overboiled tea and Kitkats and MST’ing the heck out of the board of doctors grilling the poor physician. Maybe crashing on the couch in her office when he was between flats, turning on smarmy charm that she knows is fake, and it being kind of a game with her. Noticing odd behavior and telltale physical signs and insisting on absolutely no more thumbs or kidneys until he pees in a jar.

Science bros, is what I’m saying. I love the concept of Molly having a bit of a crush on Sherlock but that trending to a real platonic friendship that predates John and probably even Lestrade. I’ve always liked the headcanon that Sherlock has so much access to St. Bart’s because he was a postgrad researching biochemistry, so I can easily imagine them training together and taking different paths, and generally knowing each other like only fellow PhD candidates or their med-school equivalent really can. I can also see Sherlock being extremely protective of her as something separate from the realm where Mycroft has any kind of power because she’s a) not really operating in his realm, and b) come on, she was turned on by Sherlock flogging a corpse and dated Moriarty. Those colors don’t run.

... It’s just possible I’ve thought about this. A bit.

And this is where I feel a bit, not betrayed, but certainly like I've lost my bearings a bit in S4 and TFP in particular. Part of what I loved about Molly was she seemed to skirt the line of someone romantically/sexually attracted to Sherlock but who'd worked her way past all that. It's not that I can't enjoy fanfic about a romantic relationship, or I want to discourage people who ship that. But I do feel the show lost something vital about a friendship between those two, when it dipped into the romantic. Particularly when Sherlock's manipulated (even with the best of motives) to convince her to say the words. It really is a rarity, for a man and a woman to be allowed to stay friends. I wish they could have honored that. (Or still will, if the show comes back.)

And the irony's not lost on me. This is really similar to the arguments people have over shipping John and Sherlock, isn't it? Except literature is full of deep male friendships in a way it isn't for cross-gender ones, so it feels like something particularly unique is lost with the way this strand of the show played out. I don't know. Maybe this does just come down to personal taste.

This entry was originally posted at http://marta-bee.dreamwidth.org/8516.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Shanna Tova!

I've been Dealing with the student loan people. Apparently a form I faxed in was never received. It was meant to renew y repayment plan (tied to my income so it needs periodic renewal), so the bills I received were way out of budget for me, and I kept calling and leaving messages after hours but never actually getting in contact with them, until they were threatening default.

Finally carved out some time and spoke to them, so that's now under control again. I think -- I'm not betting on anything until I see the next bill. But it feels under control, which has given me a bit of a mental restart on offline life generally. And the timing is really nice, too: it's Rosh HaShannah tonight, so a kind of new year starting again (or re-turning; the literally meaning of repentance). It's got me in just the right frame of mind.

A good and sweet year to those of you marking it, and a (hopefully) pleasantly chilly autumn evening to the rest of it.

Also: Here are some dolphins enjoying klezmer (Jewish jazz). It seems fitting.

This entry was originally posted at http://marta-bee.dreamwidth.org/8304.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
A  story nugget I may flesh out when I'm less cold med-befuddled. It seemed like a good idea in the shower and I don't want to forget it, at least.

Meneldil (Anarion's son, Elendil's grandson, maybe 1-2 years old at time of Akallabeth) lands in Middle-earth and is promptly sent off to foster in Dol Amroth. When the Faithful first landed, their situation would be tenuous at best, not exactly the safest situation for a two-year-old prince, and there was a more-established community of the Faithful that could protect him. Maybe some of the other children, too, but certainly not his adult family members who'd be needed to build their settlement. The upshot being: Meneldil survives the storm, and then he's bundled off to live with strangers.

Enter another storm. Just a regular one, but a real howler if you're so young with that history. So he does the only thing he can think of: finds the highest ground he can think of, specifically the aviary. This is a community of Faithful who are back in Middle-earth where Manwe's eagles might actually be expected again, on top of which there was an elven setlement not too far off they'd probably be communicating with. Of course they'd have an aviary. (Though, what is it with me with stories set there?) And he finds (or is found by) another boy, maybe one of the attendants or just another child in the stronghold -- working idea is he's a very different kind of refugee, maybe from a family that escaped Sauron out of Harad who dreams of becoming a Swan Knight if he's very smart and lucky -- and they just have a bit of conversation. And the other boy shows Meneldil how high the cliffs are and how the waves are breaking not even half way up, that kind of thing.

Basically: Meneldil is sent away for his own good (though it would hardly feel like that) and makes a friend of an unexpected sort.

This entry was originally posted at http://marta-bee.dreamwidth.org/7972.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Arky, Arky....

First off: *waves* I have been thinking about you lot. I've also just been busy and tired and not really making the space for any kind of web activity that can't be managed while I'm waiting for the bus. (Which FB and Tumblr are set up for; El Jay really isn't.)

It's been a while since I've felt quite so hammered by reality. It's the weather. It's this current joke of a US presidency, and the hatred and callousness it enables. It's the fact that Angela Merkel, of all people, now shines as a paragon of liberal enlightenment, which is depressing by its own lights. But mostly it's the weather and what that represents, that people can't even have that most basic physical safety. I mean, America seems (and it's really not that much of an exaggeration!) half on fire and half underwater just now.

Still, I'm sitting pretty in New York enjoying the cooler weather and the return of pumpkin spice everything. Including the donut I just bought. (It really is good!). So whatever angst I feel is the second-hand abstract kind, not what a lot of you are dealing with in the flesh.

(Side note: if you're safe and living some place where I might worry, would love to hear as much!)

I did get a news alert on my phone tonight that the storm is changing directions toward Tampa, where I do have family. But they're used to storms, and there's not mobility issues or anything with them. So if there's a real threat to where they live they know well enough how to get out of there. Actually, the main thing the alert did was remind me of another Florida hurricane, I'm not even sure which one. Over a decade ago, I received some traumatic news and then promptly got locked down in my office at an ESL school where where I was teaching for the summer. But that's just a memory rather than a flash-back, so while I could do without the reminder, it's kind of nice to see how I've come a bit back from that.m

Fannish-wise, I'm afraid there's nothing much going on with me. Desire, drive, ideas, etc. - all there, but no real projects. Just got other RL stuff on my mind. I am enjoying consuming it a bit. And I'm rereading snatches of HP when I find the time - what a difference a decade makes, in how you read those stories!

What have you all been up to?

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Marta Rewatches: The Great Game

I'm fighting off a bit of depression, so I'm afraid this is going to be a bit rushed and muted. Bear with me. But The Great Game is easily one of my top three episodes alongside TAB and TRF, and I've put off this rewatch long enough. So let's do this!

When I talked about TBB, one point that kept coming up was how slooooooow it seemed at points. And there's a lot of truth to that (I chalked it up to being worn out by the 90-minute format, which takes mental stamina). Fascinating how TGG goes the other way. There's so much going on, it can be a bit hard to catch your breaths at times. But even fighting through depression, I was still clear-headed and on the edge of my feet. Really, well done keeping the tension up particularly as this is an episode about one case after another getting solved in quick order. But they kept crescendoing, because for an episode so focused on mysteries and crime-solving, this still doesn't feel like a straight-up detective story. The point isn't to solve the case but see the man.

And that's what I love about this episode, particularly on rewatch. It walks the line between Sherlock being so swept away with the mystery and excitement of it all, and Sherlock actually caring about the people involved. Because Sherlock actually is very caring throughout the whole thing. The earnestness in his voice when he solves a case and gets to ask: where are you? where should we come to get you? The way he talks to witnesses, yes it's driven by a need to get information, but there's also a sense that he knows he's dealing with traumatized people and he needs to get the information quickly. Even with Molly and the revelation that Jim's gay: he defends this in terms of: wasn't that kind?

He's wrong, of course, at least on that one; but compare that to Jim's "That's what people do!" when confronted with the deaths he's caused. Watching this in retrospect, he really shines through as a man who cares so much, but maybe doesn't quite know how to care or maybe even that he's allowed to. The first time I watched this I chalked that up to John's influence, but in retrospect it seems like that side of him was there all along.

Let's talk about Westie, the DOD employee killed over the missile plans. After ignoring the case --multiple times!-- despite the fact he's bored, when he finally takes an interest (or rather asks John whether he really believed he wasn't working it out just because it was Mycroft asking), he says he'd never turn down a "case like this." But setting aside the missing memory stick, there really isn't a great mystery to be solved here. Suicide tracks at first, and when it doesn't, the real mystery is pretty easily solved. Lestrade could have worked this one out; certainly Mycroft's men could have. So what is it about this case that so interests him? Well, Westie is young and in love, and the people talking to his fiancee insinuate he did something wrong. Major parallels with the way Sally talks to John at the Ian Monkford crime scene. He's also a case Mycroft wants solved, but instrumentally: he's not motivated by the death of a company man, it's the missing jumpdrive he wants solved. There's a lot for Sherlock to identify with, there.

Which brings me back to perhaps my favorite moment in the series. From Ariane DeVere's transcripts:

Sherlock: I think [Moriarty] wants to be distracted.
John: I hope you'll be very happy together.
Sherlock: Sorry, what?
John: There are lives at stake, Sherlock -- actual human lives... Just -- just so I know, do you care about that at all?
Sherlock: Will caring about them help save them?
John: Nope.
Sherlock: Then I'll continue not to make that mistake.
John: And you find that easy, do you?
Sherlock: Yes, very. Is that news to you?
John: No. No.
Sherlock: I've disappointed you.
John: That's good -- that's a good deduction, yeah.
Sherlock: Don't make people into heroes, John. Heroes don't exist, and if they did, I wouldn't be one of them.

In retrospect, it's worth noting: "heroes" is precisely who Sherlock is. Magnussen saw that. Mycroft saw that. He is at heart a dragon-slayer, or wants to be. And in a post-modern age, for a jaded city boy like Sherlock to still believe in a struggle that can be won if he's only clever enough is almost... quaint. Dragon-slayer, definitely.

But getting back to the main point. I think Sherlock cares quite a bit, but he also recognizes he's extraordinarily gifted, and that caring can limit his effectiveness. It's like a surgeon who loses a patient, possibly through his own mess-up, but who can't cry over it because there's another patient waiting to be save in the next room. You develop a necessary callousness after a time. And John knows this. Remember: army doctor. What bothers him, I think, is that this seems to come easily to Sherlock; and also because it happens in an environment John probably associates with safety. This is London, not Afghanistan, and he went and fought in a war precisely so people wouldn't have to develop those calluses back in England, so they can be safe. Only it's not that simple, of course.

This is a real sign, though, that John's and Sherlock's relationship is moving to the next level. Not just a flat-share or a professional partnership, because why should John care if Sherlock's not a good person, if he doesn't care about other peoples' suffering, at that level of connection? But if they're becoming friends, if he's bound to Sherlock because he recognizes something good or admirable in him that he wants to be closer to, well, Sherlock being so jaded (as he thinks) matters a great deal, doesn't it?

I mentioned over at Tumblr that I was taking some time off between rewatches because I wanted to work out my thoughts on the difference between romantic love and friendship (eros vs philia, or possibly storge, if that distinction carries weight). I wanted to do that because this episode plays with some really interesting parallels between John and Sherlock vs. romantic couples. Westie's the most obvious one. More subtly, we get a gay man overshadowed by his powerful sibling (shades of Mycroft-Sherlock), whose lover is employed by said man's sister (shades of Mycroft's offer to pay John for information on Sherlock), and finally commits murder over Kenny's abuse at his big sister's abuse (hasn't happened with John and Mycroft, but John is increasingly less cowed by Mycroft, and Sherlock is increasingly gratified by this). Even the episode opener in Minsk has a very "married" feel to it if you read the blogs: Sherlock initially wasn't going to bother going all the way out to Minsk, but did when John told him to.

My point isn't that John and Sherlock are romantically involved here. For early seasons, this episode has a decided lack of romantic subtext. But they do seem to be functioning as a romantic couple, sans the romance and sex. It's almost as if they're trying to say romance isn't the defining factor of the kind of relationship that defines a life, gives it structure. As if the hard distinction we draw between romantic partners and platonic friends isn't always so tidy.

All of which makes the pool scene at the episode's end very interesting indeed. The way Jim describes their relationship, it does feel very much akin to romance. "People do get so attached to their pets." I have no doubt that Sherlock came to the pool just to play with Moriarty over the jump-drive (okay, I have some doubts because I personally headcanon this whole scene as being an attempt by Mycroft and Sherlock to trap Moriarty, but that's a long story). That said: when John shows up it becomes something else entirely. Look at the nervous energy, the on-edge almost manic reaction to getting John out of danger; this is no longer a game, and certainly not an engagement where the hostage is unimportant.

And when John delivers that famous line about "people will talk," all resistance does seem to have gone out of him. It's almost like he's playing a role, much like Sherlock is when he uses his uncaring-machine persona elsewhere. But the impression I'm left with here isn't one of romance, it's of a close connection that others would label as romance: as love full-stop, without the distinction.

Next week: A Scandal in Belgravia. That toeing the line between philia and eros isn't going anywhere.

This entry was originally posted at http://marta-bee.dreamwidth.org/7608.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
 Tonight I ha the interesting experience of seeing "Atomic Blonde," in 4D no less. (One of those theaters were the seats move and thump, lights flash, etc. to simulate what's going on in the movies. Don't think I'd have chosen this movie as my first time in that format.

And I'm not sure I'd recommend the movie generally - except for those folks I would. It's almost pornographic in its violence (this is no "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" with its gentlemanly intrigue and violence at a distance). It was also beautifully done, with some really nuanced characters and some nice motivations for why they did things the way they did. Also, the sense of Berlin at the tail end of the Cold War? The casual violence, the differences between East Berlin and West, the adrenaline of it all? Really loved that quite a bit. Also Cherlize Theron was as wonderful as advertised, as was James McAvoy, and it was a real treat to see Sofia Boutella (Gazelle, the assassin from Kingsman) once again. So if this seems like your kind of thing, I'd highly recommend it. I just don't think it's my kind of thing, personally. But if this does sound like your kind of thing, it's really well done and I'd recommend seeing it on the big screen because it's visually stunning.

One thing that did interest me: several people over on Tumblr were talking about how traumatic it was that Boutella's character died (this is hardly a spoiler: it really is a violent story and very few characters make it through alive). The reasoning seemed to be that there's this motif where women die to spur on their male over, and here it was just as toxic because a lesbian white woman was being spurred on by the tragic death(TM) of a lesbian woman of color. Only.... Boutellas character is French and does't look particularly non-white to me; just not so pale as a northern European. HOWEVER! Poking around IMDB I see the actress is actually Algerian, and as  French national there would be all kinds of racial politics at pay there Not anything  personally picked up on in the movie itself, though.

Anywho. As I said, really well done and wort seeing if you're keen for this kind of hyper-violence. Just proceed with caution. This entry was originally posted at http://marta-bee.dreamwidth.org/7230.html. Please comment there using OpenID.


Today we got $16k of old bills paid for one of our patients. Well, I say "we"...

Also, we had the records to generate $32k in loans for the funding company we work with today. Again, I say "we"....

Granted, that's not in my bank account, but as I can turn good will like a well-balanced bat'leth, I feel like celebrating. Will probably swing by Olive Garden or some such if I ever get out of here.

This entry was originally posted at http://marta-bee.dreamwidth.org/7008.html. Please comment there using OpenID.



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