Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.

1/2/2010

Review (One of Three): Sherlock Holmes

Filed under: Fun,Movies,Review — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Sheep which is in the early afternoon or 2:55 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

AvatarandSherlockHolmesSo, I’ve seen a couple of movies in the past several weeks that I have been too busy to review.  Here’s one of those.

I’m doing this in reverse order, by the way, and reviewing the most recent movie first.  On Christmas Day, I saw Sherlock Holmes with a friend, like we have for the past three years now.  In fact, when we started that shortly after I got out of cancer treatment, that was the start of my massive spree of hitting in the theaters.  In any case, I’ve seen a lot of movies in the past two years, but I try not to get jaded and all snooty about it like the professional critics do.  I tried to set aside any preconceived notions about what this film should be and just tried to be open to the experience.

It was, um, interesting.
I don’t really think of Sherlock Holmes as an action hero, but, that’s sure what Robert Downey Jr. and Guy Ritchie made him.  And, you know what?  It worked.  Yeah, it really did.  Now, I’m sure purists will get bent out of shape with Holmes boxing, or doing savate, or whatever it was supposed to be, but, really, it doesn’t seem like such a stretch to me.

But, I’m getting ahead of myself.
The plot is typical Victorian era adventure stuff.  The opening scene starts with an attempted occult murder, a sacrifice, that is thwarted by Holmes, played by Downey, and his faithful companion, Dr. Watson, played by Jude Law.  The erstwhile occultist, and thwarted murderer, is Lord Blackwood, a nobleman and, quite obviously, the villain.  And, yeah, if his name didn’t give it away, his theme music did.  A little heavy handed, but, still all in the spirit of a good adventure.
Then, we quickly fast forward through Blackwood’s trial and right to the day before his execution.  Watson is set to attend the execution as both one of his accusers and as a physician, to certify his death.  However, it’s Holmes that Blackwood calls for before his execution so that he may deliver a prediction about his return from the grave and other, more dire, predictions about deaths that Holmes won’t be able to prevent.

Naturally, these things come to pass, in spite of Holmes and Watson’s best efforts to stop them.  We also discover the person Holmes always referred to as “The Woman”, in the stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Ms. Irene Adler.  In the movie, however, she’s a much more active and adventuresome woman, at least in the athletic sense, and played by Rachel McAdams.  And, she’s quite troublesome to the pair of friends.  At first, she seems to be working against the two men and, possibly, is in league with Blackwood.  But, it’s not long before we discover that she’s actually working for someone else entirely and is only partially at cross-purposes to Holmes and Watson.

There is also at least one subplot here; Watson’s engagement.
He takes his fiance to meet Holmes for dinner, though he’s obviously been avoiding it.  It seems he’s not all that keen on losing his best, and oldest, friend to marriage.  The meeting is a disaster as Holmes only partially deduces her story and essentially accuses her of being a gold-digger out to marry a wealthy doctor.  In fact, her previous fiance died and she is quite in love with Watson, who already was aware of all the things which Holmes correctly detected.  And this will prove a key relationship as she is quite helpful to Watson several times during the ensuing adventure.

The prophecies that Blackwood made all start coming true, of course, much to Holmes and Watson’s growing discomfort.  And, naturally, Holmes obsession with trying to prevent these events, as well as trying to track down Blackwood, leads the two men on a twisting journey through a slightly anachronistic Victorian, really almost Edwardian, London.  Along the way, they run afoul of Ms. Adler and her mysterious employer until she and Holmes eventually agree to work together, though, she never really stops working for the other man.
Blackwood’s predictions, incidentally, all seem to be centered around some sort of occult plot to take over the world, naturally.  Blackwood is trying to gain control over a quasi-Masonic occult secret society with roots in England, but branches as far as America.  As is usual in the Sherlock Holmes stories, he uses cutting edge science to make what seems to be magical events occur under his control.  The superstitious members of the society assume that he’s managed to achieve a higher level of occult competency and, therefore, out of fear, or greed, follow him.  But, of course, Sherlock Holmes and John Watson are there to fight for justice, etc., etc.

Now, I won’t ruin the movie by revealing more of the plot and I certainly won’t tell you how it ends, except to say that they do leave things open for a sequel.
Okay, let me make it clear here, I liked this movie, even though it does present a somewhat non-traditional Holmes.  I didn’t mind the boxing or savate or whatever it was Holmes was doing.  It made for fantastic action sequences.  I didn’t even mind that Downey couldn’t seem to maintain a consistent English accent.  Honestly, the action was so good and the rest of the acting was so good that the minor slip of accent was barely noticeable.
I was somewhat less thrilled about the heavy-handed occult references and the entire secret society subplot.  Maybe it has to do with the fact that I am a Freemason, so I see the attempts to mimic the Fraternity in these occult societies and, frankly, I know just how wrong they are.  Also, frankly, the older I get the more hokey I find the average supernatural stories in the movies and such.  Maybe it’s just that I’m getting more spiritual and therefore less superstitious, but it just seems less and less believable.
And, the one anachronism that was just too huge to ignore was a reference to radio waves.  At the time the story takes place, if “radio waves” had even been discovered, which I’m almost certain they had not been, they certainly wouldn’t have been called radio waves.  If anything, they might have been called Hertzian waves.  But, Nikola Tesla, the first patent holder of a true, working radio device, had either not been born yet, or was less than ten years old, depending on precisely when the story in the movie was to have taken place.  But, honestly, that was a relatively small thing and didn’t get in the way of my general enjoyment of the film at all.

I know this film will be eclipsed by Avatar, but I really enjoyed it and I whole-heartedly recommend it to anyone who likes action movies, or even Sherlock Holmes.  It was thoroughly enjoyable and well worth seeing.
I think I may even look forward to seeing a sequel!

10/2/2008

Further Apart

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:11 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

No, this is not a romantic, emo post about how I’ve grown apart from one I love.

No, what I’m talking about is the distance between the ritual violations that the medical profession inflict on me to tell whether or not further torture is needed. Yes, I’m talking about another CT scan. With contrast. Coming and going. Or, for those of you who are indelicate about such things, it’s time for a really unhappy nurse to give me another radioactive enema. So, probably about the time that you’re enjoying your morning coffee, or at least taking a break before lunch, I’ll be ingesting barium laced apple juice and trying not to think about what’s lurking in wait for me behind the big, white doors. As I told someone not too long ago, by the time you’re done with cancer treatment, any dignity you have left is small and easy to carry.
Seriously, I’ve been poked, prodded and probed in ways that normally require the purchase of drinks, several drinks that contain goodly amounts of hard liquor, so often I think I could just about walk stark naked through the Galleria and feel less uncomfortable. And, I’m not in any shape to be seen naked in public, either.

I think I scarred some poor, dear thing at work when I was griping about this scan. She thought I was worked up about the possibility of finding out that my body had fatally betrayed me again. I explained to her, however, that death is the easy part. I mean, we’re all going to die. The only issue is where, when and how. Honestly, I take a fair amount of comfort in knowing that the one thing we all have in common is that none of us are going to make it out of here alive. No, it’s the indignity of the scan itself that I hate. It is frankly unbelievable to me that someone, somewhere can in some sad way find anything at all about getting an enema exciting. Because, let me tell you gentle readers, as far as I’m concerned, it is no fun at all. And, it is not any consolation at all that some sick twist pays extra when he sees “Mistress Candy, the erotic nurse’s aid” while my insurance is paying most of the bill. Truly.
On the other hand, for me, it’s just one day out of many. For the nurse… Well, let’s just put it this way, we may think we work with assholes every day, but that poor nurse really does. All day, every day. No wonder the poor thing never smiles.

Maybe if we had drinks first…

8/27/2008

The Five Worst Things About Surviving Cancer.

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Deep Thoughts,Fun,Personal,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:35 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Yes, you read that right, The Five Worst Things About Surviving Cancer.

When Kat asked me to write a guest post for the Canard Collective, this was the first topic that jumped to mind. Well, actually, to be fully honest, my first thoughts were about how much easier it would be to write about the five best things about, well, almost anything. The five best things about being divorced, for instance, or being unemployed or… Well, you get the idea. But, then, being the contrarian that I am, I thought about this. You know, people always think when you survive a major illness, or, as I like to say, cheat death, that your troubles are over. But, gentle readers, I’m here to tell you that it is not so. Surviving is just the beginning of the problems.

So, go over to the Collective and read what I wrote.  Then laugh at how different it is from all the other stuff that people did guest posts about.


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"When the only tool in your toolbox is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail."

10/18/2007

Magical Thinking

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:47 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a First Quarter Moon

It’s not that much of a Secret.

So, lately, there’s been a big hullaballo about this book, The Secret. (Or, for the lazy, or illiterate, the DVD.) Apparently, many of its devotees swear by it, claiming that it’s changed their life. Well, according to what I’ve read in this review on MSN, I’ll skip it. Why? Simple, I already know the principles espoused in the book and would rather save my money.

The basic principle is this: Like attracts like. Now, all you pagan readers will recognize that as the Law of Attraction. In short, it says that if you think happy thoughts, you’ll attract happy “stuff” in life. Some of you may also recognize that same idea in a different phrase I’ve become acquainted with over the past few years: “Fake it, ’til you make it”. Either way, it amounts to the same thing.
Not that it’s a bad thing, per se, but I don’t need another book to teach me about it. This principle of positive thought has been around for quite some time. And, quite a few authors have written books on it. For instance, there’s the Norman Vincent Peale classic, The Power of Positive Thinking. Now, that is a book I can recommend.

I think the real message is, as one of my heroes, Abe Lincoln, put it, “People are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” And, while it may not be true in all cases, since a certain amount of unhappy things are just a part of life, how upset I get and for how long are entirely in my control. Frankly, I think that’s how I got through my cancer treatment so well. I just made up my mind that I was going to do it, deal with it, survive and move on. So, I did. No real magical thinking required at all.


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"My obligation is to do the right thing. The rest is in God's hands."
   --Martin Luther King

7/15/2007

Worse than Cancer

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening or 7:45 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Yes, there are many things far worse than cancer.

Take, for instance, Peng Shulin, who was cut in half in an accident in 1995. Even though he managed to survive that, he’s been bedridden since then. I cannot imagine holding on through that ordeal and the life he’s had since. But, there’s hope even in that kind of tragic story, because he’s just gotten the ultimate prosthetic, a set of “bionic” legs.

Frankly, I don’t normally link to stuff like this, but when I saw that article, and the look on his face when he was taking his first steps since 1995, I just had to share it. Sure, going through cancer treatment has been tough and I’ve had some really down days, but things could always be worse.


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"Some people are always grumbling because roses have thorns; I am thankful that thorns have roses."
   --Alphonse Karr


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