You’re all going to kick yourselves…

…or you’re all going to kick me because it was an oh-so-lame puzzle, but here’s the answer to your annual puzzle!

Let’s see…

  • Typewriters = Awesome.
  • Dinosaurs = Hell, yeah, they’re awesome!
  • Pyramids = Come on. Awesome!
  • Rosetta Stone = If I could marry an inanimate object, I would. Aaaaaaawesome!
  • Old radios = Awesome.
  • Old wine = Awesome (and they get MORE awesome, the older they get!)
  • Old books = Do I even have to say it? I will! Awesome!
  • Castles = Awesome.
  • JMW Turner = Awesome.
  • Cheese = AWESOME. And, like wine, more awesome the older it gets (usually).
  • Old timey cars = Awesome.
  • Old-fashioned bustled dresses = Awesome!

Hmm, am I forgetting something? Oh, yeah! MEEEEEEEEEEEE!

Let the kickings commence. πŸ˜‰

New TV: Wednesday

Modern Family (8:00 CST, ABC)

Now, see, this is why I love Modern Family – everyone else is setting up season-long plot arcs and introducing us to a new round of characters, but Modern Family just turned up and did what they do best. I don’t really have anything to say other than ‘ARE YOU WATCHING THIS SHOW?!’

My rating: Because you should be WATCHING THIS SHOW!

Cougar Town (8:30 CST, ABC)

And I love this one, too. I think Busy Phillips is my favorite thing about this show – how is she so awesome?! I’m hoping that this episode has sorted things out and that we’re not going to linger too much on the Jules/Grayson/Bobby thing, but everything else was great! But what was Jennifer Aniston wearing?! Whatever it was, it wasn’t good.

My rating: \o/

New TV: Tuesday

Glee (7:00 CST, Fox)

They’re back and already the drama is running high! Some things are back to normal (Quinn’s head cheerleader once more) and some things are all topsy-turvy (Finn’s off the football team!); some things are all topsy-turvy (Will and Sue ganging up against the new football coach) and some things are back to normal (that alliance neither lasted very long nor went well at all). Rachel is at an even higher level of crazy – at a cost to New Directions and we have at least one imminent addition (I assume) to the glee club.

The only thing that we all noticed is that the lip synching seems a bit more obvious this season. I’m hoping they’ve just forgotten how its done during the summer break. Oh, and not nearly enough Brittany, as far as I’m concerned. But since next week is the Britney Spears episode, I’m hoping that will change soon! Also, my fellow Gleeks and I hardly recognized any of the songs this week – we must be way out of touch with those newfangled young folk (I’m very nearly old, but I don’t know what their excuse is). πŸ˜‰

My rating: I’m inordinately excited about next week’s Britney episode. And it turns out we’re still bitter about them not placing at Regionals. So I’m definitely tuning in to see them kick Vocal Adrenaline’s collective ass at Nationals!

“The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton” Or, That cat Charles Augustus Milverton is one bad mother–SHUT YOUR MOUTH!

“The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton” was first published in March of 1904 and takes place, after much discussion and dissension among the chronologists, Thursday, January 5 to Saturday, January 14, 1899.

One of the chronologists uses Watson’s horror at Holmes’ suggestion of going housebreaking to date the story to early in their career, when Watson was not yet used to Holmes’ occasional disregard for the law. Leslie suggests that it was ‘likely to have been inserted by him later for dramatic effect’ (NA, 1017). I, on the other hand, think he was trying to lessen his guilt, thinking ‘Hmm, best to not make myself sound too enthusiastic about joining in the housebreaking.’ Baring-Gould offers yet another option – he points out that the date that they were breaking into Appledore Towers was a Friday the 13th and suggests that Watson may have been feeling a bit superstitious (BG, 571)!

Another attempt at dating the adventure comes from the use of the word snick to describe the sound of the lightswitch in Milverton’s home. According to William E. Plimental, lightswitches were not in public use by the dates normally assigned to CAM – instead, he dates the adventure to 1900 or 1901 which is later than most chronologists do (NA, 1022). Baring-Gould goes into further detail about this, though. Gavin Brend pointed out that electricity only became available in Hampstead in 1894 which would mean that this adventure must have taken place after Holmes’ return (BG, 567). But Elliot Kimball points out that, as someone who appreciates luxury, it was entirely possible that Milverton would have had his own little power plant which could have been installed as early as 1880 and that the question of the electricity can’t be relied upon for dating the story.

There is much discussion over Holmes’ treatment of Milverton’s maid, Agatha. Rather than just a flirtation, David Galerstein ‘points out that it was winter and the weather was sever; it is therefore obvious that Holmes and Milverton’s maid would have to meet indoors, in her bedroom. Only by sleeping with the maid, Galerstein insists, could Holmes acquire the inside information he so urgently needed’ (NA, 1016). Judy L. Buddle agrees, suggesting that ‘Holmes’ “swagger” evidences some enthusiasm for the job’ (NA, 1016). Alan Wilson even goes so far s to suggest that Holmes and Agatha had a son, named Sylvanus Escott, for some reason (NA, 1016). Quite scandalous, Holmes!

Good old D. Martin Dakin comes to the aid of the manipulated Agatha, chastising Holmes for placing the happiness of a society lady above that of a housemaid. Dakin dismisses Holmes’ claim that his hated rival will quickly step in after Holmes abandons her as being based on the ‘Victorian tradition that the affaires de coeur of domestic servants were something comic and not to be taken seriously’ (NA, 1017).

Brad Keefauver, though, seems to think that Holmes’ fake engagement was mutually beneficial and that perhaps it was even Agatha being the manipulator. According to Keefauver, ‘What man, carefully trying to win a girl’s heart, proposes after seeing her for only a few days, especially if he knows his intentions aren’t sincere? Holmes could have gained the information he needed by simply romancing her; he needn’t have asked her to marry him . . . unless, of course, it was Agatha who forced the proposal out of him’ (NA, 1017). Though it was still rather cruel of him to accept, even if it was Agatha’s idea, knowing he would eventually abandon her.

This story also features a two-mile run across Hampstead Heath, the truth of which many Holmesians doubt. Gavin Brend points out that ‘”by the time a runner has travelled one mile (let alone two), he will have a fairly accurate idea of the pursuit behind him” Since Watson makes no mention of such a chase, Brend disabuses the notion that he and Holmes felt compelled to run for two miles–although he does allow that they may have travelled two miles across Hampstead Heath, running part of the way’ (NA, 1028).

Only one Holmesian, it would seem, brings up the possibility that it was, in fact, Holmes who killed Milverton. This surprises me, well, for one, knowing how the Holmesians do love their wacky theories, but it also kind of makes sense with a lot of the vagaries of Watson’s details. But Bruce Harris is the only one who has come out and said it, theorizing that ‘Holmes and Milverton had a homosexual affair […] and that Holmes eliminated him to suppress the evidence’ (NA, 1029). Apparently this idea didn’t go over well with the other Holmesians – John Linsenmeyer ‘voices his “strong conviction” that while Holmes might have killed Milverton for “good and sufficient reason . . . .[Harris’] suggestion . . . is unacceptable’ (NA, 1029).

My miscellaneous thoughts! [Let me show you them!]:

  • Milverton lived in Hampstead, ‘a residential borough (now part of Camden) popular witht eh artistic and literary crowd’ which was ‘the home of George Du Maurier, John Keats, and Karl Marx, among others. Hampstead’s Highgate Cemetary contains the graves of several luminaries, including Marx, George Eliot, Michael Faraday, Christina Rossetti, and Herbert Spencer’ (NA, 1007). [Milverton lived where I lived! Though I never attempted to blackmail anyone while I was there.]
  • Leslie takes Watson’s rubber-soled tennis shoes to task, wondering why in the world he would have had sneakers on hand. Watson’s would must not have been acting up at this time because, as Leslie points out ‘the plague of wearing tennis shoes as daily wear had not yet affected men’s fashions’ (NA, 1018). [Oh, I’ve missed snarky!Leslie – and now we know that he favors a more formal dress code.]
  • Based on the complexity of Holmes and Watson’s escape from Milverton’s home after his murder, D. Martin Dakin ‘believes that the woman, having infiltrated Milverton’s household as a servant, returned to some other portion of the house to resume her duties, providing her with the perfect cover’ (NA, 1026). [Rather a clever criminal, I’d say!]
  • When Holmes compares Milverton to the serpents at the London Zoo, Baring-Gould says that ‘it is unfortunate that the Zoo, in Holmes’ day, did not have a panda on display, for it seems likely that Holmes would have encountered the animal during his Tibetan expedition, and would have been happy to renew its acquaintance’ (BG, 559). [‘To renew its acquaintance’? How darling, Baring-Gould!]

Tune in next week for “The Adventure of the Six Napoleons”!

*Most of my notes, I think, come from the New Annotated simply because I find its format easier to work through and it is, therefore, the version that I’m reading first (I’m only reading the notes in the Baring-Gould). Much of the information is doubled up, but there is some that is unique to either volume, so if you see NA, that’s the Baring-Gould edition and BG is the New Annotated. No, I’m totally kidding – it’s the other way (the logical way) round.

New TV: Monday

Oh, you guys, it’s my favorite week of the year. Seriously, I look forward to this week the whole year! And it’s certainly not because of impending Wednesdays. D: So I’ll kick things off with my professional TV-watcher Mondays! I thought I was a pro based on last season’s Monday schedule in which I had to watch three hours of television in two hours.

That. Was nothing.

Now?

Two and a half hours of television in…one hour.

AND IT BEGINS WITH CHUCK!

Chuck (7:00 CST, NBC)

I think we have lots to look forward this season – the overarching plot of the search for Chuck and Ellie’s mom (Linda Hamilton) seems like it’ll be pretty interesting, Chuck and Sarah will be working out their spy/romantic relationship (and the writers have reassured us that they’re staying that way – they’ve jerked the audience around enough), and it seems like the Buy More will be taking a more important role (I hope they’ll figure out a way to bring back some of the regular employees – I already miss Jeff and Big Mike). Also, seems like we’ll have plenty of Morgan (I’ve heard he’ll be dating Casey’s daughter who we met at the end of last season) AND there’s a mini-Awesome on the way, too!

My rating: HELLS, YEAH!

Then we move on to…

How I Met Your Mother (7:00 CST, CBS)

As excited as I was for HIMYM to start up again, this first episode left me feeling kind of blah about it all. I think it might be that I just can’t get behind the whole Lily-and-Marshall-trying-to-have-a-baby storyline – it’s going to ruin the whole dynamic! I think they’ve told us they’re going to lead us closer to actually meeting the mother which should be fun. I’m not sure what storylines are in store for Robin or Barney, though – oh, wait, no, I think Barney’s supposed to find out who his father is this season. There were still quite a few things that made me laugh, it just didn’t necessarily have the sparkle that it used to.

My rating: I’m too invested in the characters and what’s going to happen to them to stop watching at this point – I just hope it picks up soon!

And finally…

House, MD (7:00 CST, Fox)

I have to say that I was very disappointed in the end of last season. I thought they took the easy way out even though life very often doesn’t go that way. Happy endings don’t necessarily happen, no matter how much you may want them to. But those House writers are cleverer than I gave them credit for. House didn’t get his happy ending. Not yet. It looks to me like they’re really going to make him work for it. If he wants it. So I’m hooked.

There’s also a bit of a mystery regarding Thirteen (she of the prey eyes) and where she’s gone (Olivia Wilde’s off filming a movie with…Harrison Ford, I want to say?) – though I’m pretty sure she’ll be back eventually (she and Taub have finally made the opening credit sequence – well done!). I’ve heard there’s going to be a sort of replacement female doctor hovering around to fill her shoes, so that should be interesting.

My rating: I’m looking forward to watching House navigate this next season.

Don’t attempt this at home. But it’s totally worth it!

And the last of the summer blockbusters…

…and I use that term loosely, but since it’s technically still summer, there you go.

Really, really quite good! Much more clever than I was expecting, but it really was a witty, insightful teenaged movie. I really like Emma Stone, but this movie also has Amanda Bynes (no idea why I like her, but I do), Thomas Haden Church, Lisa Kudrow, and Patricia Clarkson and Stanley Tucci as Emma Stone’s delightfully loopy but loving parents – so there’s someone for everyone! Oh, and the kid from Cougartown whose name I can never remember.

And I only have 7 minutes until NEW TELEVISION, so…you should go see Easy A! How’s that for a concise review? πŸ˜‰

FINAL summer blockbuster tally = 5,012-1-0

I think that must be the most successful summer movie season yet!

I’m about to write my review and I STILL can’t remember what this movie is called!

No, seriously. When I went to buy my ticket, I honestly had to ask Liz what the name of the movie we were seeing was…again! Which is strange because it was actually a really cute, sweet, funny movie! I guess there’s not much to it – boy meets girl, girl moves back to the opposite coast, boy and girl attempt to make a long-distance relationship work – but I like Justin Long and I like Drew Barrymore and they’re really cute together and Christina Applegate and Jim Gaffigan steal their few scenes as Drew Barrymore’s sister and brother-in-law.

And that’s really all I have to say – besides, I’m trying to rush through one more before…NEW TELEVISION STARTS! πŸ˜€

Summer blockbuster tally = 5,011-1-0

“The Adventure of Black Peter” Or, Wait, what’s this about Norway?

“The Adventure of Black Peter” was first published in 1904 (again in Collier’s first rather than in the Strand) and took place, with none of Baring-Gould’s usual rigmarole with weather or phases of the moon, Wednesday, July 3 to Friday, July 5, 1895. Frankly, he’s very quiet this week – the only other thing he brings up is Humfrey Michell’s distrust of Neligan. According to Michell, ‘it would have been a simple matter for him to obtain the record of the missing securities from the family and take the appropriate steps to obtain title to them for the benefit of the creditors. The only explanation [he] can think of […] is that young Neligan was a liar and was after something else than share certificates. If so, he was a very successful one, because he bamboozled Sherlock Holmes’ (BG, 407). I have to admit to not completely understanding what securities even are, but I believe that Michell does and, if he’s correct, it certainly makes sense. But what else would he have been after?

Evidence of Holmes’ aversion to telephones (and I know how he feels!) abounds in this story, using telegrams and asking Hopkins to wire him and sending a wire to Dundee rather than just making a few simple phone calls. In The Sign of Four, there is a telephone across the road, so there wouldn’t even have had to be a telephone in Baker Street. Leslie points out that ‘it seems odd that Holmes, always on the cutting edge of his own field, would shy away from the use of the telephone, which was spreading rapidly through England (NA, 1004). Can’t say I blame him, though!

At the very end of the story, Holmes mentions that he and Watson can be contacted in Norway if they’re needed during the trial and there is a bit of speculation about what in the world he’s talking about. D. Martin Dakin is, alas, unable to come up with any connections to the story – the only thing he can seem to think of is that Holmes was going in search of some of Neligan’s securities, but even that makes no sense because, as he points out, ‘neither he nor they ever got as far as Norway. (What did Neligan senior hope to do there anyway?)’ (NA, 1004). He has a good point there… Howard Brody suggests that ‘Holmes and Watson were off to investigate whether Neligan’s dinghy had been swept into the maelstrom off the Norwegian coast that Edgar Allan Poe wrote about’ (NA, 1004). Chris Redmond, though, has a very intriguing theory, suggesting that ‘Neligan was not, in fact, murdered, but instead bribed Carey to report his death, and that Holmes went to Norway to attempt to trace his whereabouts (and the whereabouts of the missing securities)’ (NA, 1005).

In another theory regarding a different alliance, Leslie points out that it seems an odd coincidence for Neligan, twelve years after his father’s disappearance, to happen to visit Peter Carey ‘on the very same night that Carey is visited by the only other man who knows what happened on that fateful night in 1883’ (NA, 1003). He suggests that Neligan and Cairns were working together – Cairns manipulated by Neligan into doing the confronting – and that when ‘Cairns was goaded into an impulsive act of violence […] Neligan decided to dissociate himself from Cairns’ (NA, 1003). It makes sense to me – it is a pretty big coincidence…

Ah, up next is…”Charles Augustus Milverton”! Which should be pretty interesting, I’d wager – tune in next week to find out!

*Most of my notes, I think, come from the New Annotated simply because I find its format easier to work through and it is, therefore, the version that I’m reading first (I’m only reading the notes in the Baring-Gould). Much of the information is doubled up, but there is some that is unique to either volume, so if you see NA, that’s the Baring-Gould edition and BG is the New Annotated. No, I’m totally kidding – it’s the other way (the logical way) round.

I need a new tag for Lucy Knisley’s books…

It’s a 25-page account of her thoughts following a breakup with her boyfriend of five years and it made me cry. Not because it was sad (I mean, obviously, I’m sad for her), but it made me cry a little because I’m astounded at her insights. I don’t know if I’ll ever understand how some people, and she’s one of them, are able to articulate with such precision, something that happened specifically to them that is still able to encompass a larger meaning.

Gah! I can’t even articulate what I’m trying to say!

I mean, she’s talking about something very small and personal and specific, but the feelings and thoughts she’s putting on the paper are so universal. And that’s why I adore her writing, almost to the point that I can’t bear to read it! But not quite, so I will quite happily continue to devour everything she writes and draws (even if it makes me cry a little to think that I might never figure that out for myself).

You should be reading all of her other stuff, but if you want a place to start, this is only $2.00 for a digital download from her website. Trust me, you’ll be…I want to say ‘blown away’ which is true, but not the best way to say it. At any rate, go. Download. Be astounded.

My rating: A+

“The Adventure of the Priory School” Or, Holmes, even Watson’s not going to buy that ‘deduction’….

“The Adventure of the Priory School” was first published in 1904 (again, Collier’s has beaten the Strand to the press here) and, according to Baring-Gould, takes place Thursday, May 16 to Saturday, May 18, 1901. Despite having read his notes, I can’t say I’m really sure how Baring-Gould dates this story – it seems that all his usual sources have deserted him! The moon, which was full on the night the boy disappeared, was not full on the asserted date in 1901 and, woe of woes, the weather has finally failed him! It has been dry weather when the story takes place, but ‘it rained on only four days in both May of 1900 and the May of 1901′ (BG, 616). I love that, despite all the evidence to the contrary, Baring-Gould soldiers on anyway!

This is the first one where there have been significant variations from the original manuscript to the published version here. I suppose it might just mean that that “The Priory School”‘s manuscript is more accessible and that, given the opportunity to compare them, all the short stories might have such differences. It’s interesting to see the differences between what must have been Watson’s notes and what he finally decided to present to the public:

When despairing of the talents of the local police force, the original manuscript reads “Had the object been to lose the heir instead of to find him, you could have hardly acted with greater indiscretion” (NA, 938).

Upon his reassuring Huxtable (Okay, I can’t be the only one who keeps picturing him wearing a Bill Cosby sweater, can I?) that he and Watson will soon be on the scene, the original left poor Watson out: “…and perhaps the scent is not so cold but that one old hound like myself may get a sniff of it” (NA, 941). Oh, Holmes, you can be so cruel sometimes!

For some reason, Watson has deleted ‘an uncharacteristic remark of concern expressed by Holmes […]: “That unfortunate Dr. Huxtable will be seriously ill, I fear. Do you hear him pacing up and down the passage?” (NA, 946). I guess Watson wanted to make sure to preserve Holmes’ reputation as, what is it, a brain without a heart? I bet he actually took the poor man a pudding cup to make him feel better, but Watson just wasn’t having that in his story.

When theorizing about whether the missing boy had left on his own or in the company of someone else, ‘Watson cuts Holmes’ refreshingly naive statement that follows in the manuscript: “If it were with someone then it was probably with someone whom he knew and trusted. A lad of that age does not willing set out alone in the dark with a stranger” (NA, 952).

When the man in a dog-cart hares off down the road from the inn, Holmes originally thought it was ‘Two men in the dogcart, so far as I could see. Wilder and Hayes–a curious couple to run together’ (NA, 960), leading Leslie to wonder if this is evidence of Holmes’ failing eyesight. Looks like more reading letters aloud is in Watson’s future!

Upon discovering a bicycle outside the inn, Holmes strikes a match in the darkness so that he can examine the tire, but apparently, this was a bit of dramatic license on Watson’s part because it originally read ‘The lamp still gleamed from the bicycle. Holmes slipped it off, and turned it towards the machine. I heard him chuckle in the darkness as the narrow tunnel of vivid light fell upon the patch of a Dunlop [DUNLOP DUNLOP] tyre’ (NA, 961).

I have to say that the Duke of Holdenesse has an impossibly impressive beard. All I can say is that I hope he used it to win longest beard contests. (And I can’t find Frederic Dorr Steele’s version, but it looks almost exactly like Paget’s.)

I find this beard hard to believe...

Leslie points out that this is one of only two instances of Watson smoking cigarettes (the other is in The Hound of the Baskervilles). Both of them take place in the early 20th century (though I think Baring-Gould, rebel that he is, dates Hound at the end of the 19th instead), leading him to wonder if cigarette smoking was ‘a late-acquired and short-lived vice for Watson[.] Or was the doctor instead unable to embrace the rebellious image that cigarettes conveyed?’ (NA, 949) Apparently, cigarette smoking was much more dodgy than smoking a pipe or a cigar; Iain Gately says that ‘cigarette smoker were naturally inferior specimens and best shunned’ (NA, 950). Of course, Holmes smoked anything he could get his hands on, so my guess is that the habit wore off on Watson, who was embarrassed about caving to peer pressure. Probably his shady editor, ACD, added in the two accounts of his smoking. I am full of theories this week – I’ll find my way into a Holmesian journal yet!

There is much discussed about Holmes’ deductions here – mostly concerning the bicycles tire tracks (which I’ll get to in just a moment) – but my darling D. Martin Dakin points out that part of Holmes’ narrowing down which direction the kidnappers must have gone involves the word of a policeman whose job is to stand ‘on duty all night on a lonely road in the heart of the country where apparently no one was likely to pass […] It seems an extraordinary waste of the poor man’s time and energy. What was he supposed to be doing? He wasn’t even patrolling the roads, just standing still in an isolated spot for six hours at night!” (NA, 945) It does seem a bit weird – maybe the policeman, knowing full well who Holmes was, was trying to impress him and maybe, just maybe, get a mention when Watson wrote up the story? That’s my theory, anyway.

I’m not going to go into Holmes’ deductions about which direction the bicycle was going because they involve extraordinarily complex mathematics and I really don’t feel up to it (and I’m running late with my post!), but I am going to say that I’m with T.S. Blakeney who says that ‘Holmes probably had a dozen other small indications to guide him; though he might mention only one factor, he usually had others in reserve as evidence by the twenty-three additional points of difference in the joint letter of the Cunninghams’ (BG, 617). I think either Holmes was simplifying for Watson or Watson dozed off during his explanation and had to make something up later when he went to write up the case.

My favorite bit of Holmesian research (and I’m not just saying this because he pointed it out (!) as his own favorite) is Leslie’s revelation about the Dunlop tire tread. During their search of the surrounding area, Holmes and Watson come across a set of bicycle tire tracks and Holmes says, rather proudly, I think, that he is familiar with forty-two different impressions left by tyres and identifies this track as that of a Dunlop tire (NA, 948). But Leslie points out that ‘by 1891, marketing departments had seen a prime opportunity presenting itself on the surface of the tyre, and they began adding the maker’s name as a central feature of the tread’ (NA, 949). So basically, the tracks that Holmes and Watson are examining say, quite plainly, DUNLOP DUNLOP DUNLOP! I can just picture Holmes trying to pass this off as a brilliant deduction (Watson, of course, would play along). Man, I seriously wish I could draw because I think this would make a very funny Holmesian comic.

My miscellaneous thoughts! [Let me show you them!]:

  • ‘”I must have a peep through that [window], Watson. If you bend your back and support yourself upon the wall, I think that I can manage.” An instant later, his feet were on my shoulders, but he was hardly up before he was down again.’ [There’s a lovely bit of slapstick here in the BBC radio play adaptation of this short story – when Holmes climbs up onto Watson’s shoulders, he’s wearing shoes with spikes in them and Watson’s like ‘Why can’t you bring a pair of slippers along for this sort of thing?!’ Makes me laugh every time.]
  • Frederick Bryan-Brown takes issue, right off the bat, with Dr. Huxtable’s card, saying that ‘”Etc.” is not a word well thought of in educational circles, being normally interpreted as “I don’t know any more” or “I can’t be bothered to put any more.” …Also the Dr. in front, when the PhD is behind, is somewhat redundant and merely to impress credulous parents. True Classical scholars from the major universities go for Doctor of Letters or nothing, and one suspects Huxtable of travelling to Europe in the summer vacation to buy his Doctorate…’ (BG, 607). [Hahaha! I think Mr. Bryan-Brown may win the Snark Award (but it’s very persuasive snark that definitely appeals to the editor in me).]
  • This story comes in at number 10 on ACD’s list of his top twelve Holmes stories! I have to say that I’m a little surprised – it’s not one that really stands out to me, though that might be because it follows “The Solitary Cyclist” and because of the importance of bicycles in both of them, they tend to blur together…

And I think we’re back in the swing of things – that was more of a return to our pre-Final Problem/Empty House write ups! Tune in next week when I’ll be chatting about “The Adventure of Black Peter.”

*Most of my notes, I think, come from the New Annotated simply because I find its format easier to work through and it is, therefore, the version that I’m reading first (I’m only reading the notes in the Baring-Gould). Much of the information is doubled up, but there is some that is unique to either volume, so if you see NA, that’s the Baring-Gould edition and BG is the New Annotated. No, I’m totally kidding – it’s the other way (the logical way) round.

The Trials and Tribulations of Housesitting Or, why is there a spider in the pool?!

Gather round, my readers, and I shall tell you a tale. A tale of an unsuspecting swimmer.

As some of you may know, my parents have a pool. Not a fun pool, though. No, they have an stupid exercise pool. It’s about three feet deep and basically just big enough to hold one person at the widest and longest points of their swimming stroke. Then you turn on the current and swim against it.

While I was housesitting last week, I decided to be good and make use of it since they don’t have a treadmill and I didn’t want to fall too far behind (Note: An endless pool is not a helpful substitution for treadmilling.). I’ll be honest, I’m not a super strong swimmer – I mean, I’m not going to drown, but when I turned it on, presumably to the setting last used by my mother, I fairly quickly found myself mashed up against the back wall. Mark Spitz, I am not! Also, I’m much better at the lazy strokes – breast stroke, upside-down breast stroke (aka lazy man’s back stroke), side stroke, and a proper back stroke – and, frankly, I do spend my time crouching in the middle, leaning into the current, and doing my best impression of the Rolls Royce lady.

But on this particular day, I was doing the lazy back stroke when my spidey sense kicked in. I seriously don’t know how I saw it because I wasn’t looking at the water and even if I had been, the current makes all sorts of little whorls and bubbles in the water, but somehow I did. SPIDER! And a not inconsequential one.

I honestly don’t remember getting out of the pool, but soon I found myself crouched on the edge of the tile. A frantic phone call to my parents ensued – my cry of ‘There’s a spider in the pool!’ was answered very wittily by my mom with ‘Is he swimming?’ Har har. As I was attempting to fish the very water-logged fellow out of the pool, the worry became how many times he’d gone around before I finally saw him – visions of him getting stuck in my hair or in my swimsuit haunt me to this very day!

But I did get in again the next day (though I couldn’t bring myself to do it that same day). So I’m counting it as a success.

Still going strong!

…and then I saw Dinner for Schmucks! Which was actually a lot funnier than I thought it was going to be – I thought it looked fun from the previews, but good old Entertainment Weekly didn’t exactly rave about it, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. But it was really funny!

Apparently it’s a remake of a French film called Le Diner de Cons (which the director of the remake apparently called very nearly perfect) and I think it would be really interesting to compare the two – I wonder how much of the humor they had to change to suit an American audience or if comedy translates easily (though the French love Jerry Lewis, right? So….). I think I read that they tried to make the two main characters more likable than they were in the original and by casting Paul Rudd and Steve Carrell, they’ve really done a lot right there to help with that. With the trend of the R-rated comedies lately, I was surprised that this one didn’t rely on gross-out humor (like I Love You, Man tended to) and it was actually ended quite sweetly! I mean that as a compliment, if you weren’t sure.

I only wish there’d been more of Kristen Schaal (Mel from Flight of the Conchords) who played Paul Rudd’s assistant – oh, and speaking of Flight of the Conchords, Jemaine Clement is here! And hilarious as a very self-involved artist. Hilarious!

Summer blockbuster tally: 5,010-1-0

p.s. – Also hilarious was the guy sitting in our row who laughed uproariously at the tiniest thing! And I’m not talking chuckles, I mean, full-on guffawing belly laughs – I think he may have slapped his knees at some point.

I’m too lazy (and behind) to actually review this movie, so…

…I’m going to send you to see Rachel instead. Just substitute ‘Liz and Rachel’ any time you see ‘Liz and Anne’ and you’ll be just fine. I’m with you, Rachel – I was laughing so hard at the lion/tuna argument, but I seriously think we were the only ones in the theater who were!

Speaking of which, if you haven’t seen this movie, you HAVE to for that exchange alone. I mean, it’s also a very funny movie, that even if it had just been an hour and a half of static after that point, it still would have been a hilarious movie.

Summer blockbuster tally = 5,009-1-0