Saturday, February 19, 2011

Freezing February

As for me, I'm finally getting a break on the overtime at work. Still have to work some, but not as much anymore. Finally I can get some rest, though I've been having odd dreams lately. At least the weather's better. We had a cold spell recently, making it impossible for me to drive to work, and I was lucky to have enough personal time hours to make up for it.

I saw the IBM computer Watson play on Jeopardy!, and was disappointed by how much promo filler was shown, and how Watson did too well in the second episode. It got a lead that was far too much to overcome, even when the human contestants did better in the third episode. I was hoping it would be more of a give-and-take competition rather than a steamroller. I enjoyed watching the Nova special about Watson more.

Jasmine Revolution

So the Egyptian protestors won, and it looks like the Jasmine Revolution is still spreading among other countries. Still no idea how it will all end.

Meanwhile in America we're having our own political battles. I was upset to hear that Congress was voting to defund PBS, and then the Republican-controlled House actually did it. I'm trying to hope that the Senate can stop it and the other crap they did, but apparently we're headed into a battle against a government shutdown. *sigh*

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Doyle's Duet

On my Nook I've recently finished reading Doyle's 1899 book A Duet, with an occasional chorus, which is a non-Holmes novel about a young couple named Frank Crosse and Maude Selby. I got it as an ebook from Google. The story begins and ends with a frame by "The Author" claiming that he is a personal friend of the main characters and is using excerpts from their letters and journals as an inspiring example to show other young couples how to cope with the challenges of marriage. (But other than some love letters at the beginning, we don't get first-person journals, only third-person narration of events in their lives.) Besides, if the whole story were true, the Author would be a bad friend indeed, indiscreetly revealing painful secrets to Maude in public.

Anyway, Frank and Maude are already engaged at the start of the book, and they get married and have a baby during the course of the book. The tale is mostly sweet and humorous, with interesting glimpses into late Victorian domestic life. Poor Maude reads through Mrs. Beeton's book and cries that she can't master it all, so Frank comforts her. Doyle shows considerable knowledge of women's fashion as he describes Maude's clothes in detail. Interesting that even straight men back then had as much fashion sense as a gay man might have these days, and had no embarrassment about it. Also, it's fun that sometimes Doyle drops names already familiar from the canon, like Farintosh, and at the wedding, he still has the characters claiming that weddings aren't legal unless performed before noon. (Even though Sherlockian references claim that this law was gone by 1886.)

Many of the loving embraces and kisses between the couple are implied through their dialogue rather than described, which is an oddly understated style. Perhaps his restraint came from the fact that by now he had already fallen in love with Jean Leckie, but was remaining faithful to his dying wife Touie? (ACD met Jean in 1897, and Touie didn't die until 1906.) I don't know, but there's one scene where the couple ride in a hansom together, and Doyle claims that it's never comfortable to share a hansom unless one's arm is around the other. Hmm! And Holmes and Watson shared hansoms all the time... ;)