This has caused sane people to ask why Republicans hate teachers so much down there or anywhere and everywhere, for that matter?
How much time have you got?
It’s a long list that probably starts with the word Unions. And somewhere on it is the fact that Republicans hate all government employees and regard them as cheats, incompetents, and loafers doing no meaningful work for too much money gouged from honest taxpayers with real jobs. But there’s something that I think is central to the Right’s efforts to punish and humiliate teachers and it’s part and parcel of every other reason they have.
They hate women. This is about putting women who think they have a right to an actual career and lives outside of their proper roles as wives and mothers back in their rightful, God-ordained, subservient place. The Right wants women out of the workforce and back home making babies. White women. Black women need to stop making babies and go to work at whatever sub-minimum wage they’re lucky enough to get.
Ok, I admit it. I’m an intolerant bigot. But I believe the American Right has turned the GOP into a party of yahoos who place no value on education. They don’t even know what it means. They just vaguely suspect it has something to do with making their kids smart. But they don’t like or trust “smart” people so who needs that? The purpose of school is to teach the bare minimum required to hold a job. Reading, writing---that means good enough spelling, passable grammar, and typing skills. Used to mean penmanship. Beyond that, they see grade school as free daycare, high school as a provider of Friday night entertainment, and college as where you go for job certification if you can’t use a wrench. And that certification isn’t something students earn. It’s something customers pay for. And the more you can afford to pay, the better the certification. That’s only right, as being able to pay or having parents who can pay is regarded as a skill, even a talent.
My bigotry needs refining.
The American Right is a tribe of middle-aged male yahoos fast sliding into middle-age who believe that what’s wrong with the country is that it no longer works as they think it worked when they were eight.
As they fondly misremember it, back then teaching was a woman’s field and the women who went into it did out of the goodness of their hearts for nominal pay either because they were young and didn’t need much because they would soon marry men with real jobs or they were middle-aged or elderly and finished raising their children and had or had husbands with real jobs. Men who go into teaching are weak and effeminate and deserving of the breed of contempt that comes in the form of insultingly low pay. Unless they’re coaches. Then they are wisest of the wise, imprinters of all anyone needs to know about how to succeed in life and notice how they do it outside a classroom and through practical lessons that require boys to take it out and dish it out like men and push girls to the sidelines.
Basically, they think teaching should be done by nice neighbor ladies and your best friend’s mom but since that won’t happen thanks to uppity feminists putting notions in good women’s heads, then anyone who wants to go into teaching has to be made aware that all teachers are are a class of babysitters and babysitters don’t get paid more than parents feel like paying them, they don’t get benefits, and they certainly don’t get a job for life---they’re expected to grow up and get real jobs---but, maybe, if they’re lucky and they do a really good job of keeping the kids entertained and well-behaved, they get tips.
On my way home last night with another bottle of drain opener to pour down our once again clogged pipes, my mind wandered and, one thing leading to another, I got to remembering those old Comet ads from way back featuring Josephine the Plumber and I wondered.
I suspect there was a sexist joke behind those ads, although probably the creators of the ad just thought they were giving stay at home wives and mothers who routinely had to do emergency home maintenance while their husbands were at work a comic but competent and reliable imaginary friend to identify with. Of course Josephine was really selling housework not home repair, but still, how many kids like me saw those ads and thought, Hey, a woman can be a plumber just like a man! And then made the leap, Does that means girls can grow up to be whatever they want to be? Does that mean anybody can grow up to be whatever they want to be?
By the way, yep, that’s Louise Lasser playing the type of housewife she’d soon be satirizing as Mary Hartman, and, yep, that’s Jane Withers as Josephine.
A letter from Republicans explaining the Republican position on abortion, contraception, and other health issues that some foolish liberal women and liberal men who really hate women think all women should be deciding for themselves.
We of the Republican Right just want you to realize that because we love you so much we’re doing all we can to see to it you can’t have sex without there being a real likelihood you’ll get pregnant and with that in mind, we believe, most of you will stop having sex except when your husbands want you to. And to bring this happy and holy situation about we’re willing to risk your health in all kinds of ways, including letting you develop cancer and die in childbirth. We’re sure if you try real hard to understand you’ll see that we’re doing this because we care and because it’s for your own good and you’ll thank us for it when you get to heaven.
Republican Men and the Republican Women Who Married Us and Agree With Us On What’s Best for Other Women.
We’re very sorry you recognized your base and what your party has become in our Tweet about how that Cheerios ad drives Right Wingers crazy. As you know, as upstanding members of the Liberal Media the thing we fear most is that Republicans will accuse us of being liberal. Therefore, we’ve fired the person responsible for the tweet and offer our most abject apologies. We promise that whenever you or any other Republican appears on one of our shows we will pretend you aren’t what you are and don’t represent the people you represent and the points of view you’re expressing are sane, moderate, open-minded, and intended to help move the country forward.
We hope you’ll forgive us and continue to give our spouses, family, and friends jobs, pick up the tab at lunch, invite us to your parties, and pay us exorbitant fees to speak at those wonderful expensive dinners and functions we couldn’t afford to attend otherwise because we have kids to put through the Ivy League colleges your recommendations helped them get into.
PS. We can’t promise about Rachel but maybe she’ll give us an excuse to fire her soon.
Not that you need to hear me make this point again, but for Republicans words have no meaning. They’re just satisfying sounds they use because they feel right for expressing their angers and fears and hatreds. Calling the President a socialist isn’t their way of defining him politically, it’s their way of saying they hate, fear, and furiously reject him as President.
Some of them are using “socialist” as a though it means “Commie!” But Commie has no real meaning for them either. It’s just another noise.
There’s no point trying to explain that the President is far from being an actual socialist, farther even than a lot of us on the Left would like him to be, in fact. For all definitions matter to them, they might as well be calling him a thespian or a numismatist or a spelunker.
For that matter, they might as well be calling him a kumquat, a quark, or a Philips head screwdriver. As long as they can sneer it, shout it, growl it, moan it, or sob it, they’ll use it.
Author P.L. Travers (Emma Thomspon) on the defensive as she squares off against Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) in negotiations over the film rights to Travers’ novel Mary Poppins in Saving Mr Banks, a sentimental just-so story New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik calls “The Birth of a Nation of family movies.”
It takes a special breed of literary snob to argue the world would be better off if the movie Mary Poppins had never been made and the only way we knew of the world's most famous nanny was through P.L. Travers’ novels alone and instead.
On another front, I have never enjoyed a film that I disapproved of so much as “Saving Mr. Banks.” It is, so to speak, the “Birth of a Nation” of family movies: it presents so skewed and fundamentally vile a view of the essential matter at hand that you are all the more astounded by how well it’s done. The story, if you have missed it, concerns the “Mary Poppins” author, Pamela Lyndon Travers, coming to Hollywood to resist allowing Walt Disney to adapt her books (though, at last, she is persuaded). Emma Thompson is so good as the author, and Tom Hanks is so good as Disney, that it seems surly and ungrateful to point out that the tale the movie tells is a lie, and an ugly one. (Hanks, as Disney, gives the most subtle performance of his career, making the cartoon-meister one of those handsome, dark-souled, mid-century middle-Americans who built amazing empires but were never truly at ease, even in worlds they had wholly made for their own pleasure, while dominating their employees with coercive, first-name intimacy.)
The moral of the movie’s story is not that a poet’s art got betrayed by American schlock—as, actually, it did—but, instead, that a frigid Englishwoman got “humanized” by American schmalz. My sister Alison, who is not given to emotion or excess in her opinions, writes that “Travers realized that the movie was going to be, as it is, an utter and obscene travesty, turning all the points of the books upside-down, and the idea that she was a cranky woman made to realize the value of friendship etc. by Disney is a bit like saying that Bulgakov would have realized that all his problems were due to his father if only he’d talked to Stalin a little more.” There are a couple of nice songs (minor-key waltzes, appropriately) in the movie—but the rest is schlock that betrays Travers’s intention with every frame. The movie is saying, basically, that Disney did P. L. Travers a favor by traducing her books. They didn’t. He didn’t.
That's Adam Gopnik, writing in the New Yorker. And it’s Saving Mr Banks he’s calling schlock there at the end of the second paragraph. Mary Poppins,the movie, he dismisses as schmaltz, although he sometimes seems to be conflating the two, the schlock with the schmaltz, Banks with Poppins. That's his sister calling Mary Poppins an "obscene travesty" but Gopnik seems to agree or at least see her point. Even if he meant it as a hyperbolic joke, The Birth of a Nation crack shows Gopnik is too much of a white guy for his own good. His sister’s comparing Walt Disney to Josef Stalin makes me wonder what she thinks Walt did that was the equivalent of mass murdering millions of people. Walt Disney was far from being an American saint, but Stalin had Isaac Babel shot, Disney made P.L. Travers rich.
Well, more famous.
However good you think Travers’ book is, however much better than the movie you might believe it is, you’ve got to admit, it’s still read by many more people, children and adults, than would be reading it if the movie hadn’t been made or if it had been made the way Travers had wanted it made.
Ok. I suspect Gopnik of trying his hand at some Slate-like trolling. “You all love Mary Poppins, do you? Well, it’s going to take more than a spoonful of sugar to make this medicine go down!” I don’t think he out and out wishes the movie hadn’t been made.
He sure doesn’t like it though.
It surprises me he still liked Saving Mr Banks. Seems to have surprised himself on that count, as well.
I enjoyed Saving Mr Banks and for the same reasons Gopnik enjoyed it despite himself. Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson. Especially Thompson who has been repeatedly robbed over the course of this awards season. But I don’t think the movie portrays Travers as a frigid Englishwoman in need of humanizing by the Disney touch. I think the filmmakers are on her side the whole way. They treat her as very much humanized on her own. Maybe a little too human for her own good. But her problem is that she’s taken what the movie---and the audience---can’t help seeing as an indefensible position. She’s out to stop a beloved classic movie from being made.
Of course she doesn’t know that’s what she’s doing. She can’t see into the future. And the filmmakers don’t expect her to. Mary Poppins could have been a terrible movie (Believe it or not, more people than the Gopniks think it is.) or at any rate a much less than great one. At the time Mary Poppins was going into production, Disney Studios was concentrating on live-action movies, some of which were pretty good, most of which were so-so, all of which had a Disney look that hasn’t dated well and probably looked a little cheap to audiences back then as well. I’m not sure but I think many of them were actually made to be shown on The Wonderful World of Color and only made the rounds of the theaters to give them some artistic cachet at a time when television was still regarded as a second-rate medium. They included Old Yeller…
Come on. Admit it. Who cried when Old Yeller dies?
Like I said. Some pretty good ones, some somewhat less than pretty good. But all with that Disney look.
Travers couldn’t have predicted that Mary Poppins was going to become a classic, but based on those movies she would have had some compelling clues as to what an adaptation of her book was likely to look like.
We’re not required to be familiar with all those films ourselves. All we need to know is that Travers had an idea of what a Disney movie was and she didn’t care for it. And her idea isn’t treated as ridiculous or wrong.
She also couldn’t have known ahead of her visit to Disney Studios that the movie in the works was going to have a lot more in common, visually and stylistically, with Disney’s great cartoons.
That might not have mattered.
Saving Mr Banks has it that Travers didn’t like cartoons in any form and so wouldn’t have regarded Snow White, Pinocchio, Peter Pan and the rest as great. I can understand that. I’m not a real fan of any of them. I don’t love any of them, at any rate. I happen to think the Golden Age of Disney animation began with Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin and continued through the 1990s finishing with Mulan and Tarzan. Sue me. But the last three full-length animated features Disney had turned out before Mary Poppins wrapped were Sleeping Beauty, 101 Dalmatians, and The Sword in the Stone.
Whatever you think of the first one, the second two are not top-notch. But if you want to imagine what an animated Mary Poppins might have looked like, 101 Dalmatians is probably a good model.
Travers arrives in California at the end of her professional rope. She’d rather not sell the rights to her book to anyone let alone Walt Disney but she needs the money. She feels lost and alone in hostile territory. She knows what she’s going up against too. On top of this she’s haunted by memories of her childhood in Australia and her adoration for her lost soul of a father, a drunk and a dreamer who bestowed upon her, his favorite, the mixed blessing of a faith in the power of imagination to get her through life. It’s not clear if these memories and the attendant guilt and self-reproach, have plagued her all her life or if they’ve been triggered by the prospect that she’s about to give away the work that has been her imaginative connection to her long-dead father. It doesn’t matter. What matters is she’s unhappy and in pain and she’s angry and defensive because of it, and we’re meant to sympathize and root for her.
We understand she doesn’t need humanizing or friendship, which she does happen to get, the friendship I mean, but not from Walt Disney. She needs release. And that’s something she has to get and the movie lets her get for herself.
She gets caught up in the spirit of things, thanks to the genius and patience of the composer-songwriter Sherman Brothers, but then she believes she's been lied to by Walt Disney himself and, furious at him and herself for falling for his sales pitch and mistaking it for a sincere offer of artistic collaboration, she takes her book and goes home. She changes her mind again but not because she’s humanized by American schmaltz. The schmaltz hasn’t gotten off the drawing boards yet. Disney apologizes and using the example of his own life with a difficult father, who unlike Travers’ father sounds like a bully and a sadist and not someone who sounds like a candidate for sympathy or forgiveness, persuades her not let someone else’s story, even though you are a character in it, become your story.
She saves herself by letting go of the ghosts who have taken over her stories, her own and Mary Poppins’.
It’s a sentimental just-so story, but hardly a “fundamentally vile a view of the essential matter at hand”.
What it is, though, is not the story Gopnik would have preferred.
He wanted a tragedy about how commerce defeated art, which isn’t what happened. Travers’ book didn’t get removed from the bookstores and libraries. It gained a great new audience (even though it didn’t include me) and Travers followed it up with more Poppins books.
To believe that’s what happened you have to know that a faithful adaptation of the novel would have been a better movie or believe that no adaptation at all would have been the better outcome so that all the generations of children who have come of reading age since 1964 would have only known Travers’ Mary Poppins and they’d have taken her to heart the way J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter’s been taken to heart.
I don’t think I want to know what Gopnik thinks of the Potter movies or of the books.
But that brings me to this:
With that calm verdict in mind, it is at least possible to return again to the original “Mary Poppins” books, which reward grown up re-reading as much as they please kids. They are, outside of the work of Lewis Carroll, Tolkien, and T. H. White, the most distinguished poetic literature ever written for children.
I dislike Travers’ Mary Poppins. Always have. When I was a kid I outright hated it. But then I read it after seeing the movie. When I got a bit older I realized that was unfair, that books and movies were different and you shouldn’t judge one by the other. So I tried again.
Still didn’t like it. But I just figured I was too old to appreciate a book for children.
But when I was truly older and had children of my own and we were introducing the young Mannion boys to the world beyond picture books, I tried reading them Mary Poppins and they didn’t like it.
Wasn’t because they were picky or lacking in taste either. And they hadn’t seen the movie yet.
There were just too many works of “distinguished poetic literature” they liked better. Because they were better. Much better, in the judgment of this grown-up unrewarded by re-reading Mary Poppins.
Even if you accept that T.H. White wrote The Once and Future King for children and ignore that Tolkien wrote more than The Hobbit and that more has come close to subsuming The Hobbit and is decidedly not for children and let it slide that Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is...um...a little weird, if you put those authors' works at the top, between them and Mary Poppins come a shelf-ful of books by (in no particular order except that’s how they’re occurring to me as I’m typing this) Kenneth Grahame, A.A. Milne, J.M. Barrie, Edith Nesbit, Mark Twain, Beatrix Potter, C.S.Lewis, L.Frank Baum, Raold Dahl, Norton Juster, Frances Hodgson Burnett, A.L. Montgomery, Beverly Cleary, J.K. Rowling. and Lemony Snicket.
And,by the way, those few nice songs Gopnik mentions but doesn’t name? Chim Chimney. Feed the Birds. A Spoonful of Sugar. Let’s Go Fly a Kite.
A few nice songs. Sheesh.
Maybe Gopnik was trying to be funny again. Hard to tell. I hope so. I wouldn’t know what to say if he was just being dismissive.
Come to think of it, I know exactly what to say.
It’s what you say when you don’t know what to say.
Be sure to read Gopnik’s whole column, Behind Two Good Movies, Two Great Books. And for the record? In the first half, Gopnik convinces me I’d rather read The Mayor of MacDougal Street than see Inside Llewyn Davis.
Because everybody loves a post with a reading list.
A family in the making: Sherlock Holmes Benedict Cumberbatch, left) meets and gets to know and like and be liked by Dr Watson’s (Martin Freeman, right) soon-to-be fiancee Mary Morstan (Amanda Abbington, center) in the premiere episode of Sherlock Season 3, The Empty Hearse.
[Editor’s note: I’d put a spoiler warning here but I’ve been informed by smarty pants fans on Twitter than the in-crowd has already seen all the episodes and only old-fashioned old people like me are watching Sherlock one new episode at a time on PBS. Still, if you’re old-fashioned like me and saving them up, spoiler alert. PS. Click on the photo above to see another photo that contains some very minor spoilage.]
One of my favorite scenes in The Empty Hearse, last week’s premiere episode of Sherlock Season 3, is when Holmes, Watson, and Watson’s not-quite-yet-fiancee (Holmes has interrupted Watson’s proposal) Mary Morstan are waiting for a cab outside the third restaurant they’ve been thrown out of because Watson has tried, for the third time, to throttle Holmes (he has his reasons), and Holmes looks at Mary’s face and sees…
Almost too much for Holmes to take in.
Fans will remember that when Holmes tried to read Irene Adler’s face in A Scandal in Belgravia he was stymied. He could find nothing there to tell him what she was like or what she was thinking and scheming. The trademark lettering that superimposes itself over clients, crime scenes, witnesses, and suspects to tell us what clues Holmes is observing typed itself out as a series of ??????
Mary’s face almost disappears in a word cloud.
Irene was unreadable.
Mary is an open book.
It’s not that she’s simple, she’s not, or that she’s without guile or deceit, although at the moment that’s the case. It’s that she’s allowing herself to be completely open to Holmes because she likes him.
More importantly, she trusts him.
Her immediate trust and affection are partly based on her trust and affection for Watson. If John likes Holmes, Holmes must be likeable. If John trusts him, he must be trustworthy. But it’s also based on her own quick and sure judgment. She’s already read him as clearly as he’s reading her and despite his flaws and shortcomings, of which she is well-aware, she’s decided she likes him and trusts him
Which is a very good thing because she also knows she’s going to have to trust him with her husband-to-be. In two important ways. She’ll have to trust him with John’s life as Holmes drags Watson in and out of danger while investigating crimes and chasing down villains. And she’ll have to trust him not to interfere with her and John’s marriage. And she does that on the spot. In fact, she welcomes him into it.
He’s family now.
“I like him,” she says to Watson’s consternation when they’re alone together on the cab ride home. Watson’s still furious at Holmes for pretending to be dead for two years without letting him in on the scheme and he’s trying to convince himself he hates Holmes. Mary won’t let him. She repeats herself with a satisfied smile that ends the argument before it begins, “I like him.” She means she’s adopted him. It’s not clear whether she sees Holmes as a son or a little brother, but she definitely sees him as someone she cares about and will care for from here on out.
Quick aside. Next time we see her she’s reading Watson’s blog, not for the first time, we can be sure, but for the first time with the actual, live Sherlock Holmes in mind, and she’s impressed, even thrilled, by how well Watson’s described Holmes. It’s not Sherlock Holmes the great detective who’s excited her admiration. It’s John Watson the writer.
Holmes is her new friend and even hero. But John is her man.
Back to the scene.
For his part, Holmes is completely thrown off balance. Mary has forced upon him the new or at least rare experience of feeling liked. Not just liked. Loved. Sure, people have loved him. His parents, for example, as we learn in this episode. But he’s been adept at ignoring that. He can’t with Mary. What Mary has also done is made him like someone back instantly. The only other time that has happened was when he met Watson.
This meeting with Mary tells us the most important thing about Holmes and Watson’s friendship. They’re family. Brothers. More truly brothers than Holmes and Mycroft because Holmes can’t always depend on Mycroft and because the two have a real problem not just expressing their love for each other but, because they can’t stand the idea, even admitting it. Holmes and Watson love each other and can depend on each other always and utterly.
The key in Sherlock is that Watson’s dependability is the basis of the love, not the other way round.
The intimacy between Holmes and Watson assumed in the popular imagination is an artifact of the movies and TV shows in which they’re portrayed as inseparable for dramatic convenience. In the original stories, when Watson isn’t along on a case, they lead separate lives, even when they’re sharing the rent at 221B Baker Street, which they don’t do throughout the whole of their time together. In The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, the collections that contain the most of most famous and best short stories, Holmes has 221B to himself. Watson has moved out. He’s married---to Mary Morstan---and busy with his growing medical practice and weeks and even months go by without Holmes and Watson seeing or hearing from each other.
When Watson moves back in after Holmes returns from the dead in The Empty House, it’s also after Mary has died. (That’s not a series spoiler. At least, I don’t think it is. I don’t know what plans Sherlock has for its Mary.) And what Watson is seeking is not so much a renewal of an old intimacy that never was but company. Not quite the same things. Good company is a solace for loneliness. Intimacy often isn’t and can even make it worse.
Even so, the two still manage to lead lives apart from each other and out of sight of each other. For one thing, Watson has his own social life. He has a wide circle of acquaintance with many friends, a number of whom come and go through the stories, a few turning up as clients or as introducing clients or cases, others Watson taps as sources to help with investigations, but most having little or nothing to do with Watson’s life as Holmes trusty colleague and biographer, and all of them taken for granted in conversations between Watson and Holmes and in Watson’s narrations.
Ever since I was a little boy, I always wanted to do it. It was obvious Dr. Watson only had one friend and Sherlock Holmes must've been the best man.
Moffat and his co-creator Mark Gatiss know their Conan Doyle backwards and forward, so I’d have thought Moffat would have to know he’s wrong there. Holmes is definitely not Watson’s only friend. Then I realized he’s talking about Watson at the beginning of The Sign of Four, when he’s still traumatized by the horrors he went through in Afghanistan and drifting about London, emotionally, psychologically, and professionally at a loss. Meeting Holmes saves his life. But marrying Mary gives him a life.
And that’s where we last saw Moffat and Gatiss’ Watson at the end of Season 2. One of the great things about Sherlock’s Watson is how much he's still Conan Doyle’s Watson while still being a distinct character in his own right.
In The Empty Hearse, before Holmes reveals he’s alive to Watson, he tells Mycroft of his plan to pop round to Baker Street and surprise Watson “maybe jump out of a cake.”
Mycroft says, “Baker Street? He’s not there any more. Why would he be? It’s been two years. He’s got on with his life.”
Holmes scoffs at the idea. “What life? I’ve been away.”
But that’s the problem. Meeting Holmes in A Study in Pink saved Watson’s life (just as meeting Holmes in A Study in Scarlett save’s Conan Doyle’s Watson) by giving him something to do. But now he’s met and fallen in love with Mary. Which means he’s about the begin his life apart from Holmes. It’s Holmes who’s about to learn he’s the one without a life of his own. It’ll be interesting to see how this changes things for him and between him and Watson. There’ll be frictions. Some fighting. Mary's bound to find out Holmes isn't that easy to like, let alone love. She may have underestimated his ability to make it all about him and overestimated her own capacity for tolerating him. Watson will feel pulled in two directions. And there's a new villain at work, one who, assuming he's like his counterpart in the stories, specializes in ruining lives, wrecking friendships and love affairs, and robbing people of their happiness and he's already targeted Watson. But I suspect it won’t change anything fundamental between Holmes and Watson. We can see that by how Mary’s not worried about it. But we can practically bet on it because---well, because it’s the basis of the show’s appeal. But also because Moffat and Gatiss understand and embrace the foundation of Holmes’ love for Watson. His dependability.
In a short behind the scenes documentary on the PBS website, Moffat says:
Sherlock Holmes doesn’t need another brain. He needs the most reliable, competent, dependable human being in the world. And in the judgment of a genius, that’s what Dr Watson is.
I take that as a dig at Elementary where the producers are desperately trying to make their Watson their Holmes’ second brain. And I’ve said before by doing this they’re shortchanging both the character and Lucy Liu who has to play her. The writers just don’t know how to make Joan Watson sound and act as intelligent as she is. They don’t really know how to do this with their Holmes either. They just make him a know-it-all and let their star, Jonny Lee Miller, do the real work. Liu isn’t given enough to work with and, in fact, is routinely forced by the scripts to work the other way, to play Watson not as intelligent but as feeling. She’s locked inside the show’s self-help themes. And while the writers keep insisting that Watson is becoming Holmes’ equal as a detective, presumably because they think this will make her his equal, although a Sherlock Holmes who is an intellectual equal to his Watson is not Sherlock Holmes, it hasn’t occurred to them that Watson’s deductive abilities might be due less to Holmes’ tutelage than to her own training as a doctor so that even when she’s supposed to be speaking for herself as a know-it-all detective in her own right she sounds like she’s just parroting Holmes. In short, the junior detective business is doing the opposite of what it’s meant to do, diminishing Watson instead of raising her to Holmes’ level. She's not even his second brain. She's his auxillary brain.
But the more important difference between Elementary’s Watson and Sherlock’s, is that the former is not dependable. Just the reverse. The writers are committed to their self-help themes and that means they are committed to showing that Holmes needs help. Not to solve cases, but to grow and change emotionally. He has to admit to his feelings and his failings and work on both. Watson’s role as his emotional conscience requires her to constantly undermine him. For his own good, naturally. But how can you depend on somebody who’s always telling you you’re doing it all wrong?
Back over on Sherlock, this Watson is not oblivious to this Holmes’ faults and flaws. He gets exasperated with him and lectures him and pushes him to change his behavior or at least learn some tact. But he doesn’t see it as his job or his business to make Holmes a better person. He thinks the world of him no matter what. “The best and wisest man I ever knew,” he calls him, echoing Conan Doyle’s Watson. He may question Holmes’ judgment but he accepts it and once he does he acts without question.
Watson’s dependability is the reason he’s so angry at Holmes for keeping him in the dark about his “death”. Watson thinks Holmes should have known he could have been depended on to keep the secret. But Holmes knows that Watson would have dependably done something to come to Holmes’ aid while he was busy working undercover to dismantle what was left of Moriarty’s criminal network. It wouldn’t have taken much to alert Moriarty’s remaining henchmen. Just a slight lightening in Watson’s step or a broadening of his smile, a reflexive reaction to his no longer needing to grieve, would have given the game away.
Watson thinks he should have been told because he is Holmes’ best friend. Holmes can’t tell him because he is too good a friend and loves him too much.
Sherlock mines a lot of humor from Watson’s homosexual panic whenever people assume he and Holmes are lovers. But that’s really a joke at the expense of 21st Century audiences who can’t keep our minds off sex. I should say post-Freudian audiences, because this one’s been going on for a while now. There’s just some part of us that seems to need Holmes and Watson to be getting it on. And, by the way, I think that need is going to be why Elementary will sooner or later throw their Holmes and Watson into bed together. Moffat and Gatiss are made of sterner and more perverse stuff and enjoy keeping us tantalized and guessing. But in the end, though, it doesn’t matter what the nature of their love is, brotherly or whatever. All that matters is that they do love each other, as maudlin as that sounds.
For all its archness, for all its knowingness, for all its dark and sardonic and sarcastic humor, Sherlock can be an awfully sentimental show, because one of its themes is the beautifully diverse and often perverse ways love takes hold of us.
Holmes and Watson’s love for each other is central, naturally. But both men love Mrs Hudson and she loves them---my other favorite scene from last week is Watson’s return to 221B Baker Street after two years away when he couldn’t bear to go near it for the heartbreak it caused him and Mrs Hudson lights into him for having abandoned her in her grief, for not having been around to comfort her, more for not letting her comfort him---and Mycroft and Sherlock love each other, in their prickly, difficult, competitive, jealous ways. Lestrade loves Holmes as we can now tell from the bearhug he gives him when Holmes shows up alive. And of course Molly is in love with him.
Then there’s Holmes and the woman.
And now John loves Mary and Mary loves John and she loves Sherlock too.
As I mentioned below, it's off to the Big Apple for me today. Going to review Brecht's A Man's A Man at Classic Stage Company. It's an easy drive but not a cheap one. Gas, tolls, and parking add up. So if you like the theater, you like Brecht, and you like bloggers who go to the theater to write about Brecht, please consider making a donation to help fill up the Mannionmobile and get it over the George Washington Bridge---assuming Chris Christie's leaving it open today---and hand it over to a garage attendant for a couple of hours.
Oh, and don't worry. The play starts at three. I'll be home in plenty of time for tonight's Sherlock.
Christopher Lloyd (right) as the corrupt and drunken but wise in his lunatic fashion judge Azdak, prepares to deliver one of his signature logically twisted verdicts while his dim but faithful bailiff (Tim Riis Farrell) looks on as if it all makes perfect sense in Classic Stage Company’s Chekhovian---think Star Trek not The Three Sisters---production of Bertholt Brecht’s The Caucasian Chalk Circle.
I wonder how much longer Soviet Era Boris and Natasha-We Inwented It First Russian accents will be funny.
Long enough for Classic Stage Company’s production of The Caucasian Chalk Circle to complete its run, that’s for certain, which is good for Moose and Squeeril and for humans lookink for amoosink and movink night out at theater. The central conceit from which the comedy arises in this rambunctious staging of Bertholt Brecht’s retelling of the Judgment of Solomon is that a provincial troupe of Russian actors has somehow wandered its way from Minsk circa 1958 onto the stage of CSC’s East Village theater circa right now, cheerfully determined to perform despite an extremely tight budget, uncertain abilities, and a generally blissful obliviousness to their own ridiculousness.
When they are “performing,” they speak perfect English, but when various minor emergencies interrupt the “play”---blown fuses, blown lines, missing props, missing actors---and force the “actors” to “break character” and, routinely, break the fourth wall, they talk to each other in Russian---or maybe “Russian.” As far as I could tell, they actors playing the “actors” might have gone to the Sid Caesar School of Languages---and talk to us, the audience, in heavy accents that make them sound like Chekhov---Pavel not Anton---inquiring the way to the nookleer wessels in Star Trek IV.
If you’re like me and think that’s one of the funniest moments in all of Star Trek or, again like me, remember fondly the Wendy’s ad from the 80s showing a Soviet fashion show in which one singularly stern and unglamorous model keeps appearing on the runway in the same utilitarian gray outfit a uniformed announcer calls by a different name each time out---“Day Vear.” “Evenink Vear.” “Sveem Vear.”---this will crack you up all night.
Please to not geet wrong idea, comrades. Funny accents and a few comically-timed small-scale explosions are far from the whole of things.
Many productions of Brecht’s plays are all about the amusing and entertaining ways their directors have decided to deal with one of the dreariest concepts of 20th Century theater as I learned about it in college: that Brechtian means making sure the audience is never allowed to forget they’re watching a play and that what’s happening on stage isn’t real so that they don’t get caught up in their own emotions instead of attending to the ideas being theatrically illustrated and develop sympathy for the characters as if they were people and not just stand-ins for whatever intellectual concepts the playwright intended them to represent.
I’ve never seen this work the way my professors said it was supposed to, because it doesn’t take into account that audiences are people and people have the imaginative capacity to accept all kinds of realities, separately and all at once, including ones in which a broken line of suitcases stands in for a rickety bridge over a mountain gorge and a puppet sharing the stage with live human beings becomes the emotional focus and the heart of the story and the actors in the play are at once themselves and the “actors” they are playing and the characters those “actors” are playing.
Director Brian Kulick and his company of young players and wily veterans led by a growling, skulking, shambling, scratching, galumphing, grinning, cowering, clamoring, leering, lurching, laughing, roaring, rascally Christopher Lloyd approach the clowning with an economical if not always light touch. Their intent seems to be to use the alienating devices not to deflect our feelings but to protect them, as if, if the cast didn’t gentle and jolly us along and occasionally interrupt things just for the sake of a laugh, the play would break our hearts.
I’ve always believed that Brecht was a rank sentimentalist at heart and the story at the center of The Caucasian Chalk Circle, a retelling of the Judgment of Solomon from the “true” mother’s point of view, is one of his most sentimental.
In a time of revolution, in a country that might be Russia, at a time never quite determined but might be 1917, with war raging and armies on the march, Grusha (Elizabeth A. Davis), a young servant in the house of the royal governor, finds herself the protector of the governor’s infant son who has been condemned to die by the revolutionary forces for the crime of having the wrong parents. The governor has been beheaded. The governor’s wife (Mary Testa), self-absorbed in her preparations to flee for her life and more concerned that she get away with as much of her money, jewelry, fancy clothes, and possessions as she can, loses track not just of her child but of the fact that she even has one and leaves the baby behind. Grusha is left to take care of the baby.
She doesn’t want the responsibility. She wants to wait in the village for her soldier fiancé to return from the front. But there’s no one else to hand the baby to and anyway it wouldn’t matter. Grusha looks into the child’s eyes and her fate is sealed.
The rest of Act I is taken up with Grusha’s trials and tribulations as she makes her way towards her brother’s farm in the mountains where she hopes to find refuge.
Grusha is almost impossibly brave, stoic, and earnest as she endures hardship and disease, faces dangers natural and man-made, and fights off and outwits various pursuers. But Davis, a Tony Award nominee last year for her lead role in Once, has successfully taken on the daunting task of giving heart to an essentially one-note character. She manages this not just through her own beautifully sad-eyed, mournful but musically-voiced performance but also through some magically adept puppeteering, the baby Micheal being played by a puppet Davis brings to full expressive life.
There’s a definite Perils of Pauline one-thing-after-another over-muchness in Grusha’s adventures, and besides distancing us from possible over-emotionalism, the comic interruptions and musical interludes---the songs’ English lyrics are by the poet W.H. Auden; CSC’s production features a new score by Tony Award-winning composer Duncan Sheik---help ironize the melodrama, although I think I would have enjoyed it if Kulick had actually made more of that. There are times when, despite the fact that the first act is basically one long chase scene, the characters and the story don’t seem to be going anywhere and things come to a near standstill.
Eventually, Grusha finds relative safety for herself and the baby, whom she has named Michael, through an arranged marriage with a shiftless and conniving famer who’s emotionally but not physically abusive only because he’s too much of a lazy coward. Grusha and Michael are able to hide out and enjoy three years together as mother and child.
Then comes another revolution. The corrupt and violent regime that replaced the first corrupt and violent regime is replaced by a third corrupt and violent regime---and, boy, if Brecht didn’t intend a lesson about human nature and politics in that…---and Michael’s biological mother, the executed governor’s wife, returns to reclaim the family’s property confiscated in the first revolution. That means reclaiming Michael because he’s his father’s heir and she can only get her hands on things through him.
And so Grusha winds up in court before the corrupt and, from all appearances, lunatic judge Azdak, the second act begins, and Christopher Lloyd takes center stage.
Lloyd, who in the first act mostly appears as a nameless and almost characterless narrator coolly and disinterestedly observing Grusha and her troubles with the barest trace of a smile, as if he’s gathering the information he’s relating fro future study, bursts into comic hyperactivity.
He ranges and roars and cringes and crawls and blusters and swaggers all over the stage, making funny and charming Azdak’s many vices and flaws---his knavery, his greed, his vulgarity, his misplaced vanities, his cowardice and drunkenness and self-serving cynicism---and then making clear that there is nothing truly funny or charming in any of it. It’s appalling. Azdak’s appalling. Wonderfully so.
It’s the kind of farcically outsized, Gargantuan performance that can swallow up all a star’s supporting players. But Lloyd knows just when he’s about to go too far and when to pull himself up, pull back, tone it down, and leave the stage to others and then when to throttle it back up full again.
Best of all, he knows exactly when to let it all go and leave Azdak revealed as just as vulnerable and susceptible to Grusha’s heroic decency as we are; in fact, to show us through Azdak our own opened hearts.
The supporting cast of four playing a cast of more than a dozen, Testa, Alex Hurt, Jason Babinsky, Deb Radloff, and Tim Riis Farrell are admirably protean in their switchings between their several roles, with each one given at least one character through which to shine---Hurt as Grusha’s painfully earnest fiancé, Babinsky as the loutish farmer she marries, Radloff as a woman Grusha seeks help from who want to do the right thing but whose nerve fails her at the crucial moment. Testa is hilariously and horrifically imperious and clueless as the governor’s wife and a delight as an addled old woman benefiting from one of Azdak’s more logically twisted rulings. Farrell is a hoot as Azdak’s dimwitted bailiff and touching as Grusha’s well-meaning but timid brother, but for me some of his best moments came when he “broke character” and became the spokesman for the acting company, apologizing to the audience for each mishap and interruption and pleading for help to keep the play going, which of course he does in that heavy Chekhovian---again, Pavel not Anton---accent that cracks me up so much.
I kept hoping he’d ask the way to the nookleer wessels or at least make a reference to Rocky and Bullwinkle, but I guess that would have been taking things too far, even for the sake of Brechtian anti-realism.
Note: Due to prior commitments, Mary Testa had to leave the show. Lea Delaria joined the cast in her place on June 11.
Composer Duncan Sheik talks about his music for The Caucasian Chalk Circle.
And because I can’t resist, that Wendy’s ad:
And, of course, Chekhov and the nookleer wessels.
The Caucasian Chalk Circle, by Bertholt Brecht, translation by ManhRalph eim with lyrics by W.H. Auden, directed by Brian Kulick, with music by Duncan Sheik. Featuring Christopher Lloyd, Elizabeth A. Davis, Jason Babinsky, Alex Hurt, Deb Radloff, Tim Riis Farrell, and Mary Testa. At Classic Stage Company, East 13th Street, New York City, through Sunday, June 23. Running time about 2 ½ hours with one intermission. Call 212.352.3101 for tickets or visit the website.
A winter that lasts years isn't just a problem in Game of Thrones. Roughly 1500 years ago, our world was turned upsidown by a winter that witnesses say "never ended." Now there is scientific evidence that there really was a decade of winter.
Scholars writing in Europe and Asia at the time reported that the year 536 and the years following were bitterly cold. They described conditions that reminded them of an eclipse, and claim that the sun remained "small," with ice frosting up crops even in summer. That year and the decade following were also times of great famine, plague and war — possibly connected to the devastating harvests that left many people hungry, angry, and wandering in search of more fertile lands.
I’ve been putting this off for a long while because Mrs M has been hoping she’d have good news to report instead. That good news would be that she got a new job. I’m sure she’ll be reporting it at some point but in the meantime it’s time to get the bad news out of the way.
Mrs M lost her job.
She was laid off just in time for the holidays. A Bain-like hedge fund bought the company that owned her newspaper and and a bunch of other newspapers and is doing the Bain-like thing of looting their new acquisitions in order to be able to report “cost-savings” that will pump up the stock price etc etc. You know how it works. Mrs M was let go along with nearly two dozen others, including the entire photography department, because who needs an editor or photographers when you’re running a newspaper?
As you can imagine, and as too many of you know from your own experience first hand, this has really knocked the stuffing out of Mrs M.
Mrs M has loved the newspaper biz for as long as I’ve known her. She has taken great and well-earned pride in her work and her accomplishments on the job. To be told after over 25 years in professional journalism, as an award-winning reporter and then as a highly regarded editor who for the past 10 years has put together and overseen a staff of reporters who routinely rake in the awards every year that You aren’t worth keeping around is a terrible blow even when you know you’re being told it by people to whom no one is worth keeping around.
Many of her friends and family won’t have heard this news until now. Mrs M and I are sorry for not telling you sooner. But she’s been feeling too low to talk about it and she’s been embarrassed, which she shouldn’t be. The only mistake she made was staying on the job and doing it so well she kept getting promoted without declining to paid more as she moved up the ladder.
Anyway, morale has been a little low around here but we’re muddling along. The Mannion guys have been great. Things will work out eventually. But it would be a big help if you all would keep your eye out for Mrs M.
If you hear of any openings in journalism, communications, or public relations for an experienced, energetic, successful manager and communicator with a record of hiring and mentoring a diverse array of talents, please drop me a line.
I’ll keep you posted as things develop. To those of you who have heard the news and checked in to check up on her, Mrs M says thank you very much. She loves you all.
And yet we mustn’t get the wrong idea about the Eagles. They are not champions of goodness, soaring about looking for wrongs to right and damsels (or hobbits) to rescue. The eagles do save the dwarves, but they don’t actually care much about them. the Lord of the Eagles expresses gladness that they were able to do a good turn for Gandalf, but he says that the main reason they interfered was to “cheat the goblins of their sport.”…Saving the dwarves is more of a means than an end. The Lord of the Eagles further emphasizes their lack of investment in the dwarves or their quest when he is discussing plans for the next day. The eagles will help, but they are unwilling to put themselves in any danger in order to do so. “We will not risk ourselves for dwarves in the southward plains,” he says flatly…Gandalf the wizard may choose to accompany the dwarves far and at great danger to himself but the eagles are not as proactive nor as generous.
Even the eagles’ enmity with the goblins is actually quite casual. The narrator simply says that they neither love nor fear the goblins. They do at times swoop down on them and drive them shrieking back to their caves, we are told, but this doesn’t happen regularly or often…Most of the time, the eagles don’t really care all that much.
…The main reason they usually ignore goblins, the narrator tells us, is that they “did not eat such creatures”…
…The eagles are good, but they are thoroughly wild.
“I need to get to know London again, breathe it in,” Sherlock Holmes says in a voice-over in a trailer for Sherlock Series 3 while we see Holmes standing on a rooftop---presumably not the one he jumped from at the end of The Reichenbach Fall---surveying his London.
If you click on the target link in the interactive version of that trailer you hear Holmes go on to say, “London is like a great cesspool into which all kinds of criminals, agents, and drifters are irresistibly drained.”
I felt terrific satisfaction when I heard these lines. Besides that the second quote is very much like something Conan Doyle’s Holmes would have said and very well might have said---I don’t have the stories memorized---London is intrinsic to Holmes’ character and one of the the reasons Sherlock is so much better than Elementary is that Sherlock evokes and uses London to an effective degree Elementary doesn’t come close to evoking and using New York City where they’ve re-settled their 21st Century Holmes, taking away from his essential Holmesishness without adding anything to replace it. Holmes is as much a denizen of a particular place as any of the criminals, agents, and drifters he hunts. It’s not just that he knows London (and should know New York) like the back of his hand in order to get around. He knows what it’s like to live and work in any part of the city because he lives and works in the city himself. The city is a part of him. He identifies with it. With all of it, from the Limehouse opium dens to the poshest neighborhoods in Belgravia, and with everyone else who lives and works there, including the criminals, agents, and drifters whom he often deplores not for their villainy but for their lack of the industry and imagination he would bring to the job if he decided to become one of them.
IN THE third week of November, in the year 1895, a dense yellow fog settled down upon London. From the Monday to the Thursday I doubt whether it was ever possible from our windows in Baker Street to see the loom of the opposite houses. The first day Holmes had spent in cross-indexing his huge book of references. The second and third had been patiently occupied upon a subject which he had recently made his hobby–the music of the Middle Ages. But when, for the fourth time, after pushing back our chairs from breakfast we saw the greasy, heavy brown swirl still drifting past us and condensing in oily drops upon the window-panes, my comrade’s impatient and active nature could endure this drab existence no longer. He paced restlessly about our sitting-room in a fever of suppressed energy, biting his nails, tapping the furniture, and chafing against inaction.
“Nothing of interest in the paper, Watson?” he said.
I was aware that by anything of interest, Holmes meant anything of criminal interest. There was the news of a revolution, of a possible war, and of an impending change of government; but these did not come within the horizon of my companion. I could see nothing recorded in the shape of crime which was not commonplace and futile.
Holmes groaned and resumed his restless meanderings.
“The London criminal is certainly a dull fellow,” said he in the querulous voice of the sportsman whose game has failed him. “Look out of this window, Watson. See how the figures loom up, are dimly seen, and then blend once more into the cloud-bank. The thief or the murderer could roam London on such a day as the tiger does the jungle, unseen until he pounces, and then evident only to his victim.”
“There have,” said I, “been numerous petty thefts.”
Holmes snorted his contempt.
“This great and sombre stage is set for something more worthy than that, ” said he. “It is fortunate for this community that I am not a criminal.”
But when I thought a little more, about it, I realized something.
It’s a trick.
Looking back over the six episodes of Series One and Two, I can’t think of one in which London as London figures as more than a backdrop.
Sherlock does make better use of London, visually, dramatically, and thematically than Elementary does of New York. It's better written and, more to the point here, better directed. Paul McGuigan, who directed four of the first six episodes of Sherlock, and Euros Lyn and Tobey Haynes, who directed the other two, have been able to capture just enough of the right details of the real London to establish a rich and solid sense of place. On Elementary they don’t seem able to capture anything of any street scenes except the traffic. But the producers of Sherlock have another advantage over Elementary they cleverly exploit.
The London they need to create for their stories already exists inside the heads of their audience.
On Elementary, it’s not how little New York is seen. It’s how generally absent it is. The cameras can’t seem to find it. The writers don’t seem able to locate a scene let alone an entire plot there. The characters Holmes and Watson encounter in their investigations don’t seem to live or work there or have any connections that tie them to any specific, peculiar aspect of the city. They come from Nowheresville or rather Anywheresville in TVpoliceproceduralland USA. Holmes and Watson live in Manhattan but I’ve lost count of how many times they’ve left there to investigate a crime in the outer Burroughs in what are essentially suburban neighborhoods where people live in detached houses with yards and there’s plenty of available onstreet parking---everybody owns cars. There are neighborhoods like this all over what is technically New York City, in Brooklyn and Queens particularly, but on what is also geographically and culturally Long Island. They're also in different counties, placing them outside what ought to be Holmes and Watson’s jurisdiction.
Now, Holmes and Watson shouldn’t have jurisdictions. Conan Doyle routinely sent them far out of London on cases (which always bothered Holmes the London man). But Elementary’s Holmes and Watson are cops. Forget their supposed role as “consultants.” The producers have wedded them to the official police force in a way no previous incarnation of Holmes would have accepted and all for plot convenience. Holmes and Watson get to bully witnesses and suspects, avail themselves of forensic evidence and warrants and police backup, and generally throw their weight around like any other set of TV cops whose writers don’t have the time or imagination to make think and talk their way through a case and actually solve it as opposed to appearing to have just read ahead in the script. And while they’re at it, they end up dragging the real cops along which highlights the fact that Gregson and Bell appear to be the only two homicide detectives on the NYPD and as such don’t work out of any precinct and have no limits to their jurisdictions unlike, say, Briscoe and Logan and their various other partners on Law & Order, a show in which New York City and its idiosyncratic neighborhoods and peculiarly eccentric citizens were very much a part of every episode’s look, feel, and general narrative. Often the fun of the Law part of any given episode was in recognizing the types of New Yorkers the detectives met in the course of an investigation. Law & Order was practically a video precursor to Humans of New York.
London and its humans rarely figure in the plots of Sherlock to the extent New York figured in the plots of Law & Order. Sherlock is able to make London a felt presence not by actually working it into episodes the way Law & Order worked New York into its storylines or even by letting us see it very clearly. It evokes it through imagery, allusion, and the occasional plot point and then lets our imaginations fill in around it with details derived from Conan Doyle, to a degree, but mainly from movies and TV shows and other novels and short stories set in Victorian England. This starts with any shot of the doorway of 221B and explodes when we’re taken inside where Holmes and Watson’s 21st Century flat is almost a perfect reproduction of Conan Doyle’s (Well, Sidney Paget’s) Holmes and Watson’s 19th Century one, but with better lighting. One glimpse of the sitting room windows overlooking Baker Street conjures up Jeremy Brett looking out the window of his 221B onto his Baker Street and we immediately “see” what’s out there.
Which of course isn’t the real London but a literary London.
This is true to Conan Doyle in that it’s pretty much how he settled his Holmes and Watson in their London, through allusion, occasional plot points, and imagistic shorthand. He was writing for magazines and didn’t have the time or space for long descriptive passages. But he could rely on his readers’ to see what he needed them to see because he knew what they’d read and were reading alongside his stories.
That’s Dickens’ London outside the windows of 221B, and Wilke Collins’, and Robert Louis Stevenson’s. Beside building from what they’d read, Conan Doyle’s contemporary readers would have known that London from illustrations in those books and in magazines and newspapers and from the stage sets of plays that were to their time what movies would become to their grandchildren’s generation.
The photo up top reminds me of something….
Of course the visual quote from Skyfall is deliberate. Sherlock’s creators and head writers Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss love referencing Bond, partly I think because they get a kick out of reminding us that Mycroft (played by Gatiss) is essentially M in Sherlock’s universe (and, when you get down to it, in Conan Doyle’s universe too), and partly because they don’t want to us to forget that Sherlock Holmes, in all the universes he inhabits, is an action hero and has on many occasions acted as a secret agent in adventures that Watson often alludes to but for reasons of “national security” either hasn’t written down (yet) or published if he has. But you know that. The reason I’m bringing it up is so I can post this tweet by rufus jones:
Sherlock in big coat on roof looking out across London cityscape. Sees Daniel Craig doing exactly same thing on next building. Little wave.
I’d been beating my head in trying to figure out who’s the guy with the beard and the hangdog look Lestrade meets in the pub. He appears in one of the previews, briefly glimpsed among characters Sherlock is said to care about and worry about Moriarty’s taking his revenge on them, Watson, Mrs Hudson, Mycroft, Molly, Lestrade. Is he a new character or someone from the Conan Doyle stories? Maybe he’s Holmes’ old friend from university, Reginald Musgrave? How about Sigerson? He’s someone who’s lost his job thanks to an obsession with proving Sherlock Holmes is still alive and Lestrade thinks his putting a word in might help him get that job back. So would that make him one of the other Scotland Yard detectives Holmes has worked with? Is he Moffat and Gatiss’ version of Gregson?
Actually, I found out accidentally who he is and it’s perfect! Can you guess?
(Note: for a long time the character wasn’t listed on imdb. Now he is. Don’t cheat.)
Joan of Arc claimed to know what God was thinking. The English thought this proved she was a witch and dealt with her accordingly. The French, who liked the idea that God was apparently on their side and who had better PR and more pull with the Vatican, got her declared a saint. Probably what she really was was a teenager succumbing to schizophrenia who was in the right place at the right time to be exploited by both sides in a dirty little war over land-grubbing that God would have wanted no part in.
Look, Rep. Walberg, I know you’re a minister and supposedly know about these things, but God and/or Jesus rarely talks directly to people and when he does it’s never to ask them to do the politically self-serving thing.
Yeah, I know, my previous posts haven’t been particularly tolerant. Right Wing Christians love to point this out when sane and decent people challenge their demon worship.
“You supposedly preach tolerance but you’re the ones who are intolerant of us!”
Which, as has been pointed out time and time again, is basically a demand that we tolerate their intolerance. Which turns the virtue into an oxymoron.
Look, folks (and I know how you like to think of yourself as jess folks), all virtues have limits. For example, charity is a virtue but you folks believe it’s extremely limited, beginning and ending at home.
And mercy is a virtue that you folks treat as practically a vice.
Toleration by its definition and nature opposes intolerance the way charity opposes greed, mercy opposes anger, and humility opposes pride, so, for the umpteenth million times, folks, the practice of tolerance requires us to oppose your angry, selfish, vindictive, vain, hate-filled, intolerant brand of what you in your quaint, folksy, self-serving, ignorant way call Christianity.
If your brand of Christianity encourages you to feel virtuous for being cruel---you call it being tough---to others, particularly those lacking your status, privileges, and wealth, you need to get a new religion.
I hear actual Christianity is an available possibility.