Summary: “Hounds of Baskerville”

Since I viewed this episode a couple times in January, I’m posting the links to my original thoughts here:

  1. First Thoughts
  2. Some Other Considerations

After another viewing this evening, I find any logic you attempt to hang on the episode falls apart pretty quickly. Still, a cute story if you don’t think too hard about it.

As an aside: if Sherlock took the case because of Henry’s use of the word “hound” . . . But then everyone in the area refers to it as a “hound” anyway . . . Do they call it a hound because that’s what Henry called it? Something doesn’t quite jive there, sort of like an uneven fault line.

I do have a slight problem with Sherlock’s use of “disorientate” as well, which I know appears in dictionaries, but “disorient” is generally preferred and what’s more seems like a better choice for someone who (a) has shown himself to be a stickler for grammar (though I understand the use of “disorientate” does not exactly overstep the bounds), and (b) tends to be succinct in thought and speech.

Also, missed opportunity to show whether Sherlock snores and keeps John awake. (I know they didn’t get a double, but the Cross Keys was busy and full enough they must have shared a twin room, right?)

Camp NaNoWriMo

You may have noticed my Camp NaNoWriMo badge under “Coming Soon” in the sidebar. I got an e-mail about this yesterday, and I’ve decided to participate in August.

Camp NaNo is basically the same thing as “regular” NaNo except not in November. And since November is very difficult for me because of holidays and such, I’m thinking August might work out better. (June is another camp option, but I have other obligations for June.)

The other cool thing about Camp NaNo is how you get put in “cabins” with writing partners. Like bunks at camp. You can request certain roommates, or roommates who are your age and/or write the same kinds of things you do, or go with luck of the draw. Since I don’t know anyone who is planning to do Camp NaNo, I went with “Surprise Me!” But if you’d like to request me as a bunkmate, I’m mpepper on the site.

No idea what I’m going to write yet. I’ve put myself under “chick lit” for now, but that may change. Might go YA or something. Might do a sequel to “St. Peter in Chains.” I have a few ideas, just not sure which will demand the most attention come August.

Parent-Child Personality Differences

I have reached the chapter in Quiet that discusses personality differences between parents and children. Well, and not just differences—in just as many cases both the parent and child might be introverted or extroverted, and this can cause conflict as well. But of course what I’m reminded of is the fact that my mother always thought there was something wrong with me.

My mother is very social. I’d guess she’s an extrovert. She talks to everyone, likes to be involved in a lot of stuff. She reads, too, and likes “down time,” but she mostly likes being busy.

I’m an only child. I liked to read a lot when I was a kid, and played by myself a fair amount. I had friends, sure, and I’d go out and spend time playing with them, too. But I didn’t like big social events, and I didn’t like sleepovers. I wasn’t especially outgoing, more an observer than an instigator, though happy enough to play with one or two really good friends. Just not big groups. I liked games involving my imagination, and I liked conversations that were deeper than “The New Kids on the Block are so hot!” I wrote stories and poems. I daydreamed a lot.

My mother always wanted me to be out with friends. She wanted to know why I didn’t talk on the phone more. She told one of her friends she was worried I didn’t know the difference between what was real and imaginary. She worried that I spent too much time alone. She would invite my friends over as a surprise—I recall one time coming home and finding about six girls from my school in my living room. I was mortified. Why were they in my house? What was I going to do with them all? I just wanted to go up to my room and hide.

My mother also used to lock me out of the house. She wanted me to get outside, go make friends. I sat propped against the garage door and read a book or wrote in my notebook. Not only was I an introvert, I was a stubborn introvert. (Still am, I suppose.)

You say, Okay, that’s your mom but what about your dad? My dad is a lot more like me. Quiet. Happy to stay home or just hang out with family. He’s a reader, too, and one of only two people with whom I can spend hours on the phone. We talk about movies and television and pets and politics, digging in to all of it. We’ve done that since I was six or seven, when we would sit outside on the deck at night and Dad would set up his telescope and we’d talk about books and music and the stars and planets. Very satisfying conversations. But we were also fine not talking, just listening to music or whatever.

I often wondered how my parents could manage, being so very different from one another. But they seem to have a sort of agreement. Mom is allowed to do however much stuff she feels she can handle, so long as she doesn’t drag Dad along. (This was a real problem when I was younger, my mother volunteering Dad and me for various projects and outings.) And if Dad starts to feel neglected, he lets Mom know, and she makes it a point to schedule some quality time with him. I guess it works out okay; they’ve been married upward of 37 years.

Anyway, what does this mean for me, growing up with one extrovert and one introvert, a constant sort of tug-of-war? Well, it means that about half the time I felt like there was something really wrong with me, and half the time I didn’t give a damn. Which is to say: I knew I was different from a lot of the other kids, the ones who hung out together all the time and went to each other’s houses and had parties and prowled the mall. And there were times when I was sad that I couldn’t be that way, wished I could be that way, which was in my mind “normal.” But there was never a moment when I considered even trying to be “normal” because I knew myself well enough to know I’d never be happy like that. And I had my dad as the role model for someone who could go through life without having to go out and do and be seen all the time. And be perfectly fine with it.

Maladjusted? Not at all. In fact, I’m adjusted just right—for me. I’m normal—for me. At any rate, I’ve concluded that normal is an arbitrary zero. And I’ve never been willing to apologize for being myself.

2012 Goals Update

Here were my goals for 2012, which I posted at the beginning of the year:

  • Finish “St. Peter in Chains”
  • Finish “The K-Pro”
  • Finish the spec script
  • Get at least one more play accepted for production somewhere

Items in green have been completed. Items in yellow-orange are . . . not quite? Let’s put it this way: “Warm Bodies” was accepted for another production (I’ve mentioned its forthcoming Source Festival run), but none of my other plays have been, and that was really my goal. On the flip side, however, I’ve had three flash fiction pieces accepted for publication. That’s something. And “The K-Pro” is half done. I thought it would be a novella, but it’s looking to be a novel, I think.

Now, though, I’ve had a spate of rejections and am also waiting to hear about various screenwriting competitions and such, and I’ve decided to go into a sort of semi-retirement. I haven’t decided yet what that really means for me except that I’m breaking from submitting and probably also from writing, at least at the rate I had been going. I’m teetering on burnout and a bit of depression, so I think it’s better to back away from the cliff. I may write from time to time—more likely dabble than take on anything serious—but I’m not going to make myself feel too guilty if I don’t, either.

This retirement kicks off this coming weekend. I’ll be staying at the Hotel Drisco and going to see Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers at the Red Devil Lounge. Maybe I’ll get inspired. Probably, though, just sotted with wine.

Summary of “A Scandal in Belgravia”

I’m not going to waste my time and yours reiterating everything I’ve already written about this. Instead, here is a list of links regarding my initial feelings about this particular episode of Sherlock. It’s not a matter of being politically correct, and I don’t consider myself any kind of feminist, really. It has more to do with the character and story being wronged and playing false in a lot of ways. All very manipulated. Though, as you’ll see in the post titled “Redeeming Irene,” all may not be what it seems.

  1. Write-Up of the Premiere at the BFI
  2. More Thoughts About “Scandal” After a Week of Rumination
  3. After A Second (And Third) Viewing
  4. The “Sexist” Angle
  5. How to Like It (aka “Redeeming Irene”)
  6. But I Won’t Watch It Again

Champion of Crap Sports

As the days grow warmer and the school year nears its end, my mind is cast back to that old tradition known as Field Day, in which the athletic kids got to show off and the un-athletic kids were forced to submit themselves to torture and embarrassment.

I fell somewhere in the middle. I did okay, say, tossing a baseball. And though the relay and the long-distance running were banes to me, I was a pretty good sprinter. The 100-meter dash was no problem.

The one thing I did particularly well, though, at Field Day: Frisbee. I always won the ribbon for Frisbee. Toss it to that cone? Sure. Get it all the way down the field? Okay. I’m not sure why or how, but I’m a natural with a Frisbee.

Other strange things I proved good at over my years in physical education? Bowling. Jump rope (won an award for going the longest time in that one). Badminton. Croquet. Table tennis. Air hockey. Weight lifting. Pinball.

And yet I suck at foosball. Actual tennis? Nope. Or actual hockey? Decidedly not. Racquetball or squash? Nuh-uh.

I’m an indifferent swimmer; I enjoy it, but don’t take it seriously enough to do it especially well. Can’t dive, either. I’m no good on the field in soccer (“football” to my overseas friends), but make an okay goalie.

But I was useless with the typical American sports:

  • Softball/baseball—I would duck when someone pitched to me and couldn’t catch well enough to field.
  • [American] football—my coaches didn’t even bother; they just let me walk the track while everyone else played.
  • Basketball—not coordinated enough; I couldn’t keep myself from traveling.
  • Volleyball—I don’t even know what. Just a disaster all around.

I try not to feel too bad about all that now. It’s easy to feel like a failure when you’re only good at the weird, little things. But you know, there are a lot of football and basketball and baseball players. Not so many great Frisbee folks, though. I’m just in a select, exclusive sort of group is all.

Flash Fiction to be Published

We’re just two weeks away from Flash Fiction Day, and I’ve had three flash fic pieces accepted to Daily Flash 2013: 365 Days of Flash Fiction, forthcoming from Pill Hill Press. I used to write flash fiction (we called it “sudden fiction” back then, and I guess some people still do) quite a lot, then dropped off about a decade ago because there was so little market for it. Still, I found it an interesting way to tell a story. Kind of the fiction equivalent of a movie trailer. You get a sense of the whole, looming tale without seeing [reading] all of it.

Now, it seems, flash fiction is quite the thing. I wouldn’t say it’s “in” as a trend, but it has a following, and a fair number of writers dabble in it, some even far preferring to write flash than long, tedious stories. For me it’s more that some stories need a lot of telling, and some only need a little. It’s the difference between an appetizer and an entrée.

Anyway, on the heels of some rejections, I’m pretty happy to have some work accepted. Maybe I’ll try flash fiction more often.

INFJ vs INTP

I’m reading Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, and of course it’s made me question whether I’m actually an introvert or a shy extrovert or . . . So, it having been a number of years since I’d last taken a Myers-Briggs type personality test, I found a few free ones online and tried them out.

Most of my results were pretty consistent. I’m high Introvert, moderate iNtuitive, moderate Feeling, and low Judging (INFJ). This personality type is called “Counselor” by Keirsey, and I’d say the profile there is pretty accurate. I was a peer counselor in high school, for one thing. And I do have it in me to discern others’ feelings; I’m very sensitive to the overall mood of a person, or a room full of people.

However, a couple other versions of the test gave me INTP, or “Architect,” and that also seems on target. Still introverted, still intuitive, but thinking and perceptive. I am a logical person, and it’s true I have a strong dislike for people who blow a lot of nonsense at me. I see through it pretty quickly and immediately discount the person once I realize they’re trying to put something over. It’s why I’m able to work in the entertainment industry. I simply don’t have it in me to be star-struck.

In both cases, however, I was surprised to see that these types of people—both Counselors and Architects—are considered difficult to get to know. I often lament the fact that others don’t seem to know me well because, in my mind, they seemingly don’t find me worth the effort to get to know. I do try to be approachable. And people who have come to know me (there’s only a handful who could honestly claim to) have told me they were scared of me at first (!) but find me very warm once I open up. Hmm. This is probably because I’m never likely to approach people; I wait for them to come to me. The ones who are intrigued enough come ’round eventually. But I guess two shy people might never meet unless someone introduces them to one another.

Anyway, I ran both personality types by friends and family, and they said both were true. Those who’ve known me in a more personal way leaned toward INFJ, and those who know me in a business-like or educational setting said, “Oh, yes!” to INTP.

I’m not even half done with Quiet, but it’s given me a new way to look at the way I act and react in the world around me, and it’s given me some insight into my friends and family, too. The challenge in being ourselves is often that our internal needs and desires clash with external demands. Finding balance is the key.

A Tisket, A Tasket

Today is May Day, also known as Beltane, or Walpurgis, or by any number of other names. It’s one of my favorite sub-holidays because it brings warm weather and sun and flowers. When I was a child, our town had an annual May Fair. Artisans would set up tents and booths to sell their wares, and there would be games and food and music and a May Pole, and we would go to greet one another and enjoy that singular sense of community. I almost always ended up buying a garland of flowers for my hair.

There is an old tradition of May Baskets, not much observed any longer, wherein someone would leave a basket of flowers and treats on a doorstep, ring the bell, and run away. The object was to catch the person, and if you succeeded, kiss them. Call it an old homage to spring fever, the adolescence of the year, and all old fertility rites—in any case, great fun.

So in the spirit of the season, this year I leave a basket of words and thoughts on your doorstep to consider. It’s hardly fair, I realize, since you are unable to catch me from here. Though I suppose if you were enterprising enough, you could come find me.

You, who are like a magpie of a man, gathering the shiny bits and pieces of others whom you admire and making their words and affectations your own . . . I don’t think you do it out of malice, no, and maybe it comes so naturally, this mimicry, that you don’t always realize you are doing it. But you are sensitive enough, and deep enough, to be able to look within yourself and know the truth at the heart of the matter. You do these things, appropriate these gestures, in part out of honest esteem for those from whom you steal, but also because you want very much to fit in and to be liked, and maybe just a little because it feels safer to use others’ words and actions instead of your own. Every one of these little trinkets that you gather from the pockets of friends, acquaintances, coworkers, adds to the shell you build for yourself, something for you to hide in. Even now, reading this, you might feel exposed and vulnerable.

But here are the roses I give you: I love you anyway. And so do they. And were you ever to summon the strength and courage to step out of the shade of their shadows, you would be welcomed with open hearts and arms. You have much to offer on your own terms, and in your own words. Remember that you are friendly, and likable, and capable of more than superficial conversation. You might spend your days with other people’s words in your mouth, but to be heard you will need to speak for yourself. You fear being overlooked yet hide in plain sight.
Don’t be afraid to show yourself. Inside and out. Because you are loved. Inside and out.

Chasing Victory

I plan to have the Nike of Samothrace in my garden.

Let me see if I can explain this without sounding like a complete and utter nerd . . . Well, no, I can’t. So I’ll just own up. When I was a child—we’re talking ages 7 through about 11—my idea of fun during the summer break was to choose a topic and research it extensively at the local library. I would check out stacks and stacks of books on whatever subject I’d chosen, and I’d keep notebooks of information until, at the end of the summer, I would write a lengthy report. These reports were not just reiterations of what I’d learned, though; I sprinkled them with my own ideas about the matter at hand. And sometimes I’d also write stories.

You see, my love of writing in any and all forms began very early.

So the Nike of Samothrace came up one summer when I was studying ancient Greek and Roman culture and mythology. Now, I’ve always loved classical history (minored in it as an undergrad), and I’ve always loved angels (because I think they’re pretty—not cherubs, though, which I find irritating). And to a seven-year-old girl, the Nike of Samothrace, though headless, embodies an ethereal beauty. So while I loved many of the ancient statues I witnessed in all those books, the Nike held a special place in my heart. Angel + Goddess, it occupied the sweet spot in the Venn Diagram of my soul. (Yes, I really did just say that. I am a nerd.)

That might have been enough, but then my summer sitter (the woman who watched me during the summer while my parents worked) took her church youth group, all high schoolers, on a tour of UT Austin, and since she couldn’t just ditch me, I got to go too. The campus made quite an impact on me, but I was especially wowed by the Harry Ransom Center. They had a Gutenberg Bible, for one thing. And also: a plaster cast of the Nike of Samothrace.

When I saw that, I vowed I would attend UT. (And, yes, I did. After being accepted at places like Oberlin and UCLA, I still went to UT. When I get something in my head, folks, I don’t let go easily.)

When I was 22, I visited the Louvre for the first time, and I only had one item on my agenda. The Mona Lisa? Bah. My goal was to see the Nike of Samothrace. And when I got to that staircase . . . Well, I almost wept, I was so happy to see her.

So now we’ve come to the point where I admit I’ve always dreamed of the kind of yard and garden where I can have benches and statues. And that will become a reality for me at the end of May. So I’ve been looking at websites featuring various fountains and statues and bistro sets, &c. And I found one that has a Nike of Samothrace. I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me before to have her for my very own. But now that I’ve realized I can, I’m determined to, as they say in the ads, just do it.

I only hope a headless, winged woman in the yard doesn’t frighten the kids.