Sunday, January 27, 2013


My old Windows XP computer died recently after a blackout, and the hardware is old enough that it would be too much trouble to keep fixing and upgrading it. So I decided to take this opportunity to make the switch to an Apple computer, specifically a Mac Mini since I already had a monitor, keyboard, and mouse combo. Little did I realize what an ordeal this would be.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Adam Worth and the Pinkertons

I have finished reading Ben Macintyre's biography of Adam Worth, the criminal mastermind that inspired Professor Moriarty. It's called The Napoleon of Crime: The Life and Times of Adam Worth, Master Thief. It's an interesting book, but one complaint I have is that Macintyre spent far too many chapters talking about the Duchess of Devonshire, both the historical person and the famous painting by Gainsborough. Adam Worth stole the painting and Macintyre theorizes that he didn't sell it for years because he was obsessed with the painting. But to me that only justifies one chapter on the painting as background, not four or five chapters on the painting and the woman's scandals. The story should be principally about Adam Worth and the real people in his life.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


I've been watching Deception, and I like that the mystery continues to be the focus, though some situations in the 2nd episode seemed implausible. The pilot was intriguing, and I hope that things will get better. I like the actress Marin Hinkle too, and hope her character will have more to do soon.

I'm disappointed, though, that the only other midseason show I wanted to see was Goodwin Games, but it hasn't appeared yet. They might not even show it until the summer, just like Love Bites. Boo!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Buck and the Preacher

I found that I needed an antidote to the extreme violence in Tarantino's film, and fortunately, I had a recording of Buck and the Preacher to watch. This is a 1972 film starring Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte; Poitier also directed it. It's a Western set after the Civil War, when many emancipated blacks tried to settle out West, but they were still hunted by racist "nightraiders" and bounty hunters hired by their former slave owners, who hope to force them to return. Poitier plays Buck, a wagonmaster helping to guide the settlers to safe territory. The Preacher meanwhile is a conman who initially intends to rob the settlers of their money, and possibly collect on a $500 reward for the capture of Buck, dead or alive.

Django Unchained

I put off seeing Django Unchained before this weekend because, though I liked the story premise, I was wary of Tarantino's extremely violent style. I mean, he's entitled to his artistic vision, but that's also why I've never watched one of his movies before. I can handle watching some horror and gore, like in Daybreakers, if I like the story well enough, but not on a regular basis. So knowing that Django would probably be a hit and last for many weeks at the theatre, I initially spent my time on The Guilt Trip and Promised Land instead.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Elementary's M

I was pretty sure that the guest star for the episode wouldn't be Moriarty himself, but rather a fakeout for Moran or one of the other people in Holmes's "collection of M's" in EMPT. It turned out to be Sebastian Moran, but more blue collar. (Sort of like the Sebastian henchman character in Without a Clue.) I guess they couldn't translate the original Colonel's army and tiger hunting background to present day, but Moran is at least a skilled assassin with specialized equipment, and he's smart enough to instantly read and reply to Moriarty's coded text messages. I would have to get out pen and paper to decode things. I'm also happy with the introduction of Teddy, a clear Baker Street Irregular, and from now on, my head canon is that Wiggins's full name is Teddy Wiggins.

Spoilers below:

Friday, January 11, 2013


I've heard lately there's been controversy over the Bin Laden assassination film Zero Dark Thirty. Apparently it depicts that information obtained from torture was used to find Bin Laden. What a crock. I never watched the TV show 24 for this reason, because it glorifies torture and makes it seem like a necessary evil to keep the world (read America) safe. Bullshit. Torturing our enemies only makes us self-righteous hypocrites for pretending that we're so noble and good. It also makes our enemies feel justified in hating and attacking us. And torture doesn't yield true or useful information; it only gives the quickest lie to make the pain stop. (One of the things I used to like the most about early Burn Notice was Michael Westen saying this about torture.)

Well, there's a little good news on this subject, at least. A defense contractor is paying a $5 million settlement to Iraqis who were abused and tortured at Abu Ghraib. I hope there will be similar settlements with other contractors in the future.

If only all the detainees at Guantanamo Bay could be released too, and the place closed down, but there's been no movement on that front for a long time now. To me, these wars will never really be over until these places close down.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Promised Land

I saw this movie on Sunday and liked it, despite the poor reviews. Matt Damon and Frances McDormand play salespeople for the Global natural gas company, and they are sent into a small farming community to sign up landowners for leases to drill and frack. Hal Holbrook has a nice part as the local high school science teacher who points out the environmental dangers of fracking, and calls for a town vote about whether to allow natural gas drilling in their community. The local politician agrees to have the vote because he's pissed off that Matt Damon's character Steve lied to him about estimates of how much money the gas was worth. Steve is an interesting guy, who repeatedly claims that he's not a bad guy and who sincerely believes he's doing good for the farmers. Steve grew up on a farm and saw many townspeople thrown out of work when a manufacturing plant closed down; he considers natural gas to be a savior for farmers and other rural residents with no money, and he doesn't believe that the reports of environmental problems are true. Yet Steve didn't have a problem lying to the politician about how big a bribe he could get from Global, and he often tells opponents that they are up against a $9 billion company and have no chance of succeeding. Intimidation isn't foreign to him.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Violets and Violins revised

I've been working on Chapter 1 of my novel, and I added a scene at the end between Mycroft and Sherlock about the death of their grandmother. I think it's a stronger ending, and brings the issue back to the violets and violin of the title. As I said in the previous version, this chapter takes place in summer 1861.

Holmes and Kate Warne

This excerpt of a new historical mystery novel has a small reference to Sherlock Holmes being alive and in San Francisco during the Hiatus (his fake death from 1891-1894). I can't tell yet if Sherlock Holmes will feature later on in the novel or not.

Anyway, The Bughouse Affair features two protagonists: one is an ex-Secret Service agent, and the other is a woman who was formerly a Pink Rose. That is, she worked as an investigator (not a secretary) for the Pinkerton Detective Agency. I've not heard this term "Pink Rose" before (or possibly I dimly recall something similar mentioned in the Carole Nelson Douglas books with Irene Adler), but it's intriguing. The excerpt gives a little of Sabina Carpenter's history with the Pinkertons, as well as mentioning Kate Warne's history as the first Pink Rose. I'm considering whether to buy the book or not; I can already tell that some kind of romance is being set up between the protagonists, and I'm kind of not interested in that part.