When Nick asked if we could get two pumpkins this year - one big one, one quite small - I had a hunch of what he had in mind. And then he carved it out, pretty much as he told me he would as he snickered in the car.
Later tonight, the PVR will record the second episode of Sherlock, the bright re-imagining of the Sherlock Holmes legend from the BBC. We watched the first episode this weekend, and loved it; it's set in present-day London, and it works. Instead of jotting quick notes through the post, this Sherlock uses his cellphone; he retains the same cerebral edge and an unblinking power of observation, and is a little bit brattier in his dealings with the police. Dr. John Watson is still a medical doctor with war experience, but in a wholly different context. Lestrade (Rupert Graves, a world away from Freddy Honeychurch of A Room With A View) is a modern investigator, but calls on Holmes for a clarifying view.
We're in a bit of a Holmes upswing, what with the reboot with Robert Downey Jr. that put more of an accent on the detective's willingness to get dirty and/or in a fight. This one, featuring Benedict Cumberbatch (beat that for a British name!), is about the brain. The show uses visual effects and neck-snapping editing to display the lighting-fast process that Holmes uses to connect dots.
I like it, so far, and am a little disappointed there won't be much more to sample. Remarkably, there are only three episodes in the first season.
I talked to a group of student newspaper types at Memorial today, with my spiel on interviewing. I made the motivational poster above as part of the presentation; it sums up by mixed feelings about scrums, which are a necessity or a convenience but which are a swamp for good questions.
I have chronic sinusitis, and for the second time this fall, I have an infection. While I'm not happy about that, I had gone many months without an infection, which is an achievement for me, as a few years ago I was infected more often than not. I have a head that is basically a factory for producing them, with multiple allergies, a deviated septum and polyps to boot.
With the much appreciated help of my doctors, including a terrific ENT specialist, I brought them under control, with daily use of a sinus rinse, an antihistamine, a couple of sprays of Nasonex and a pill called Singulair, which isn't cheap but which dramatically handled the polyp issue.
But, infections happen, and my friends and family sinusitis nod in understanding when I tell them what happens. Imagine a headache so nasty it hurts to read - and everyone who knows me will appreciate what kind of mood that puts me in.
Anyway, with penicillin now kicking in, I'm hoping to bounce back ... and to stay healthy through the winter.
Once in a while, Saturday Night Live makes me laugh out loud. One of those moments was in a sketch that aired late in Saturday's episode, with guest Emma Stone. The dance off kicks in around 1:25 or so.
The tune, by the way, is by Camille, one of the singers in Nouvelle Vague.
As seen here on CafePress. I am, of course, an actual enthusiast of oatmeal, including the steel-cut Irish kind that takes a conspicuously long time to cook - which is why, on many busy mornings, they stay in the container. Instead, it's Quaker Oats, which took a few minutes but still stick to the proverbial ribs.
The phrase comes from The Simpsons Movie, where it appears, very briefly, as the magazine that Grampa Simpson is seen reading. I noticed it in the trailer, made a post of it about three years ago, and have - believe it or not - been getting daily search-engine traffic ever since. I'm willing to bet most of them are inspired by Grampa and not by breakfast.
"I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them." - Ian Fleming
As much as I love this live for today (and let die) quotation, I note that many of the images I've ever seen of Ian Fleming show the creator of James Bond with a cigarette. I also note that Fleming was only 56 when he died.
Last week, I spent a week in a cabin - two of them actually. Martha and I took our son to Kilmory, a resort near Swift Current, for a weekend away from things. (It's hardly roughing it, with hot showers, comfy beds, insulated chalets and things like microwave ovens.)
The real reason for going is that I stayed on after Martha and Nick went back to town. I took part in what's called the Piper's Frith, a writers' retreat organized by the Literary Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador.
My purpose? To delve more deeply into my writing, particularly on the fiction side, and - to be precise - to find out if the documents I have stored on my laptop could feasibly be turned into an actual book. As I've discussed here and there, I started working a year ago on a novel. I finished a first draft not long after I went back to work at CBC in St. John's in early March, but quickly enough ran into a tough reality: it's very hard to write creatively when you have a dayjob (and a demanding one), and are a parent, too.
I came out of the Frith, though, with a new and better outlook on things. I was assigned to a group led by Jessica Grant, who wrote Come, Thou Tortoise, last year's Winterset winner and a terrific and hilarious book. Jessica is even funnier in person, and an inspiring writing coach. I'm also thankful for the advice and notes from our writing group; it was a surreal experience hearing them discuss characters I've created - characters I've told only my wife about - as if they were real people. That was one of the moments when the book came alive for me. The whole experience was clarifying.
So, now there's an imperative: Get 'er done.
It's going to take some time, and getting it published is going to be a whole other trial. But I can do this.
Meanwhile, I heartily recommend the Frith to anyone who wants to get more serious about their writing. I was joined by a group that came from across the country, with very different styles, goals and experiences, and left with some new friends and a richer appreciation for what we're all trying to achieve.
M.C. Escher's work is always fascinating, even though I tend to think of it as the type of posters I bought in university to cover up my wall. Here's a video from the BBC that looks an artist who understood geometry as well as art.
This video has been firing on gas this past weekend; Atomic Tom and their friends say they shot this in one performance a week ago Friday on the B train in New York. You'll notice they're conspicuously using iPhones as instruments, and that's apparently because their real instruments were stolen.
My skeptic's nose sniffs at that, particularly since the video is, well, pretty good. Regardless, they're getting noticed.
I posted a few notes this week at What Odds, the news blog I do for CBC, about the late Hank Williams, the geologist and one of the greatest scientists Newfoundland and Labrador (or Canada, for that matter) has ever produced.
Take a moment to read it. I also embedded the Land & Sea episode I produced about Hank and geology; it was a great opportunity to do a Land & Sea episode in the first place, and especially so because of the subject matter.
Dot Dot Dot is Morse code for the letter 'S,' the full message Guglielmo Marconi claimed to have received atop Signal Hill in St. John's in 1901. It ushered in the age of telecommunications. My maternal grandfather worked as a telegraph operator for Canadian Marconi on Signal Hill for many years.
As well, I have a habit of overusing the ellipsis when I write ... as frequent readers might notice.