It’s Not Yours

Yesterday I read this article in which Martin Freeman, who played John Watson in Sherlock, rants a bit about alternate readings of the text. Namely, he insists that there’s nothing gay in Sherlock and Watson’s relationship, it was never played that way.

My initial gut reaction was, “Wow, that’s a really strong and seemingly homophobic reaction.” But what I think really bothered me about it was the suggestion that the however many viewers who read the text differently had somehow done it wrong.

The moment a book or film or television series meets the public, it no longer belongs to the creator(s). Not the writer, not the actors, not the director, etc. It becomes the property of those who engage with the text. They get to read it and interpret it however they want. It may not be what you intended, and some interpretations may be a stretch, but there is no right and wrong.

One of the first things they taught us in Radio-Television-Film courses at uni was “encoding” and “decoding.” This is the fundamental of all communication, from speaking to writing to filming. You say something, or write something, or perform an action, and the listener/reader/viewer takes that information and decodes its meaning. Some messages are fairly simple. There are only so many ways my son can interpret, “Clean your room.” But if I want to be really clear, I might break it down into: “Put all the clothes on the floor in the laundry basket and make your bed.” Otherwise, his idea of “clean” and mine might not be the same.

When dealing with books or film or television, however, the author of the text is not there to explain the work as the reader or viewer engages with it. Nor would we want them to be. There’s nothing worse than watching a movie with someone explaining everything as things happen. Part of the joy of reading and watching shows is extrapolating information for ourselves. Our brains like having to work.

Look at all the fan theories for various shows, the online communities. People love taking things apart, breaking things down. And the choices they make for that process—the lines along which they break things, the metrics they use—are going to be wide ranging and, at the same time, very personal.

What I’m getting at, I suppose, is that a queer reading of Sherlock is par for the course. There is a grand history of queer readings of all kinds of things, and to stomp your foot and say, “No!” is childish and naïve.

When I’ve been asked about—or sometimes told—things that appear in my books and stories, I don’t say, “You’re wrong.” (Well, maybe if they have a detail or fact incorrect.) I say something like, “That’s interesting. I never thought of it that way.” Or, “Well, that’s not what I had in mind at the time, but I see where you might read it that way.” There’s room for everyone and their ideas, after all, and I’m just flattered they’ve taken the time to think that much about it.

Thing is, I know I can’t control how people will receive my work. I know that, once they’re holding that book, it’s no longer mine. It’s theirs, and they will interpret it however they want, in whatever ways work for them. To throw a little tantrum over it would be unprofessional to say the least and smacks of dictatorship at the worst.

The only way to make sure people read your text the way you want them to is to never write or film it at all.


click here for video

I started my online life as Yukitouya. By which I mean, that was one of my first ever email addresses back in the late 90s. The name is a combination of Yukito + Touya (often also Romanized at Toya, but I used the “u”). Yukito and Touya are characters in Cardcaptor Sakura by CLAMP and probably remain one of my favorite all-time couples. In fact, it only just now occurred to me that their love triangle may have subconsciously influenced the Cee/Marcus/Diodoric triangle in Changers.

I don’t still have the Yukitouya email address; the site it was on folded ages ago. And honestly, I hadn’t thought about Yukito and Touya in years either. But when Cardcaptor Sakura recently returned, well, I began to fall in love all over again. I’ve been showing the first series to my kids and eagerly watching Clear Card each week on Crunchyroll. And now I’ve had “Groovy” (as heard in the video above) stuck in my head for days. But it IS a catchy little number, and one can’t help but be a little buoyed by it, so I won’t complain.

Presented Without Commentary

  1. Irene – a “strong” woman with a shady past who ultimately needs to be rescued by the hero
  2. Mary – a “strong” woman with a shady past who ultimately needs to be rescued by the hero (but isn’t)
  3. Eurus – a “strong” woman with a shady past who ultimately needs to be rescued by the hero
  4. Molly – a weak woman whose attempts to assert herself are unconvincing and unsuccessful, and who pines for the hero and allows him to manipulate her repeatedly
  5. Mrs. Hudson – a strong [older] woman played for comic relief

Best of 2016

I’ve started to see the lists popping up online. Even though there is still one month left in 2016, people are ready to call their favorites, from books to movies to television shows. So I thought about what I read and watched this year, and here are a few notables:


The Gates of Evangeline by Hester Young. This pseudo-paranormal mystery set in the bayous of Louisiana is both atmospheric and fast-moving. I raced through it and enjoyed it quite a bit.

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. Not a 2016 release, but I finally got around to this one and, though long and deep, it’s so well written. Was perfect for the long flights to and from New York.

Dark Dawning by Christine Rains. A novella, first in a series, and it sets up just a very interesting world full of shape-shifters and Inuit mythology.

Lorelei’s Lyric by D.B. Sieders. A twist on mermaids/sirens.


Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. A new window into the world of Harry Potter… pre-Potter.

Sing Street. Just really cute, even if it is mostly a bunch of music videos hung on a very sparse plot frame.

Snowden. An interesting perspective on how and why Edward Snowden did what he did.

The Imposter. A documentary about how a French con artist convinced a family in Texas he was their missing son/brother.

Kubo and the Two Strings. More gorgeous work from Laika.

The Nice Guys. Typical Shane Black, so if you like his stuff…

Zootopia. Above and beyond as far as children’s animated features go.

Love & Friendship. A delightful Jane Austen adaptation.

I know there’s a lot I have yet to see (I do have tickets to Rogue One!), but of the things I watched this past year, the above stand out.


The Crown. I was sucked right into this drama about the start of Elizabeth II’s reign and can’t wait for more.

Westworld. I resisted, and do continue to resist on some levels, but I can’t deny that this is a well-written, well-acted, well-produced program. (I feel similarly about Game of Thrones and The Leftovers. Must be an HBO drama thing.)

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. Everything Doctor Who should be, used to be, and no longer is. In short, a whole lot of absurd fun.

Documentary Now! Fun, though the second season was not as good as the first IMHO.

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. Probably the single thing I most look forward to each week. (And now on break. *sob*)

I also watch Brooklyn Nine-Nine and am just dabbling in Superstore. Started Designated Survivor and AHS: Roanoke and Timeless and need to get back to those… Television is getting harder to keep up with because there is so much and it’s all dumped in one go instead of airing weekly. But hey, even the weekly stuff piles up on my DVR, sort of like all the books I mean to read that pile up on my nightstand or in my Kindle. The above, then, are just shows that definitely had me hooked over the year.

So what about you? Any favorites this past year? Recommendations? Anything to look forward to in 2017? Let me know in the comments!

TBT: Stonehenge II

fullsizerender-1 <-- Click for a bigger image. Yeah, that's me. During my final year at UT Austin, I lived in an apartment with three other girls, and we got it in our heads to go out to Stonehenge II, which at the time was in Hunt, Texas. You can read about it on the Wiki here. This was during my Highlander phase—my nickname was Methos (and there are still people in the world who call me that). So of course I wore my Black Watch cloak and brought my katana. I think what really gets me, though, is seeing my natural hair color again after all these years. I was blonde as a child, but like many blondes it slowly grew a bit darker as I got older. Still, after enough time in the sun, it would be fairly light. When I was at UT, I was outside a lot because I walked everywhere. So my hair here is about as light as it ever was past adolescence. fullsizerender-2

What I remember most about that day is the drive. We stopped for apples, and I bought a shirt because it said “Adam’s Apples” and Adam was Methos’ cover name in Highlander and my friends and I used to joke about the apple he ate in one of the Horsemen episodes. (You either understand what I’m saying here or not. Sorry if you’re confused.) The road out to Hunt was hilly—it’s called the Hill Country for a reason, and it’s beautiful—and we sang songs from Shakespeare and Winedale most of the way. (Two of my roomies had also participated in the Winedale program at different times.) It was a pleasant day, but I have to cringe a little at my own dorkiness. Not that I’m not still dorky. I just wear it better now. I grew into my full dorkdom . . . Or something.

Also, I started dying my hair.

My katana, btw, now lives on our fireplace mantel.

My roommates: Anne, Stephanie, and Christine
My roommates: Anne, Stephanie, and Christine

Me In 3

So I guess the latest thing going around social media is to pick three fictional characters that you feel represent you. Well, here are mine:

macgyver-pilot-cbs methos_at_joes img_0394










On the left there is MacGyver. The original, not this remake thing. “Mac” was one of my nicknames in high school because I watched MacGyver and was good at physics. In the middle is Methos from the television series Highlander. That was my college nickname: Methos. Relatively quiet and mild-mannered but mean when cornered, I guess. Finally we have Sherlock Holmes. I grew up reading Sherlock Holmes stories, watching the Jeremy Brett series, and (as many of you who frequent the blog know), Young Sherlock Holmes is my all-time favorite movie. My best friend and I would play Sherlock Holmes often, and I do know how to read people. I just never know how to behave around them. Because empathy is difficult for me, I tend to go into an analytical mode instead. Makes me come off as cold sometimes. But I’m the person my friends seek out when they need an honest opinion or a new way of looking at something.

“People don’t come to me for sympathy, John. They come to me to solve problems. I don’t have to be nice about it so long as I get the job done.”

How Star Trek: The Next Generation Coincided with Major Events in My Life

That’s a long title, but accurate.

I grew up in a Star Trek household, by which I mean my parents were fans of the original series (TOS) and I can remember seeing the movies with them at the cinema, at least starting with the second one. At some point I got interested enough to request that we rent the VHS tapes of the television series—Trelane made a big impact on me, and the one about the Nazis, and of course seeing Khan in the series put a lot of things in context. Still, I mostly enjoyed movies two through four, would watch them when they were on the movie channels, and we eventually recorded them so that I could watch them whenever.

But it would be The Next Generation (TNG) that would make the biggest impact, and I think it’s largely a matter of timing. I mean, I was already predisposed toward Star Trek, and my parents were somewhat excited by the idea of a new series, too, though I suspect they were also a tad wary. But I was of an age ready to embrace an updated version, something that reflected me more than my parents.

“Encounter at Farpoint” aired on 26 September 1987. I was 11 years old. Just that summer we’d moved from the town I’d more or less grown up in to an entirely new city. I’d just started at a new school. I hadn’t made friends yet. I really needed something, and ST:TNG stepped up to the plate. It aired every Sunday evening and was the way to end/begin the week.

In fact, the show became a basis for bonding. Besides the fact that my best friend “back home” (aka, in my old town) also loved it, kids at my new school liked it, too. And while it could be construed that their likening me to Data (thanks, Asperger’s!) was cruel, it never came across as such. Hey, at least we had something in common to discuss!

ST:TNG saw me through middle school and high school. It ended on 23 May 1994, just as I was graduating and getting ready to leave for university. How’s that for timing? It’s like the show knew I was ready to go and fly on my own adventures. In the meantime, it had been a constant companion, a place of solace, a way to temporarily forget my troubles. It came and went and just the right time, at least for me. And while I tried to also watch Deep Space Nine and Voyager, and much later Enterprise, none of those ever hit that sweet spot again. Maybe because none of them coincided with my transition from youth, through adolescence, and on into adulthood. ST:TNG was with me on the adventure of becoming myself, so that I incorporated it into that very process. Yes, I was the nerd girl with the Riker poster on her wall, and my favorite teddy bear was named William. I can admit it now. I’m all grown up.

Well, maybe not all grown up. Let’s hope that never happens.

God & Doctor Who

My 5-year-old son Robert has some kind of insect bites on his back and shoulders. There are no signs of insects in the house, so I can only guess these are coming from school and time out at the park or whatnot. Still, I was stripping his bed, and I asked him, “What do you think is biting you?”

He thought about it for a minute and then asked, “Well, God doesn’t bite, does He?”

“Uh . . . No.”

“So it couldn’t be God,” Rob said reasonably.

I then jokingly suggested maybe it was angels instead, and Rob narrowed his eyes as me and said, “But not Weeping Angels, right?”

I have the best kids.

TBT: Danger Mouse

dmEvery Friday after dinner, the kids gather round for an episode of Danger Mouse.

It was one of my favorite shows as a kid; my friend Tara and I would even sometimes play Danger Mouse with me as DM, of course, and she as the trusty Penfold. I spent a lot of time telling her to “shush.”

If you aren’t familiar with it, Danger Mouse is a British cartoon about a mouse and a hamster. DM is “the world’s greatest secret agent” and Penfold is basically his Watson (in the buffoon style). Sherlock Holmes and James Bond are, I think, the chief elements involved.

Anyway, some months back I got the idea to show my kids this cartoon, many episodes of which are on YouTube. Now it’s a big treat each Friday for them to get to watch one. We throw it up onto the telly via the Chromecast and settle in for a watch. I think it’s as much a treat for me as for them, come to think of it.

Sherlock and Cressida

I have a personal (invitation only) blog that I post my dreams on (along with other of my personal life stuff), so I don’t normally post them here. But every now and then I have a dream that is so “out there” that I think might entertain my readers, even via sheer bizarro value, so I post it here for all to read. Last night—at the height of my personal Neptune trine Uranus transit—I had one of those. So here it is.

I was in London, and the first thing I remember about the dream is libraries. Big ones that took up two buildings so that you went in one and came out another on an adjoining street. This seems to be what I had done, anyway, and then I was walking down a crowded pavement. It was late afternoon, and I was thinking I needed to maybe find something to eat and then go back to my hotel. There were a lot of people out—coming out of work, going out for dinner. The part of the city I was in seemed upscale; there were a lot of men in nice suits.

I was walking toward a bridge—London has a lot of them, but this one didn’t look familiar. And I was suddenly aware Sherlock (yes, from the BBC television show) was walking behind me. I went to cross the bridge, but he got ahead of me somehow and I realized something was going on because next thing I knew he was fighting some bad guys. I remember thinking, even while in the dream, it was all rather more James Bond than Sherlock.

But the bad guys caught him. That seemed to have been their goal. And he woke up strapped to one of those metal medical tables in the back of a semi (he would have said “lorry”). He was yelling for them to move him to another room. And somehow I was in the cab of the truck and able to look back through the little window into the cargo, and it occurred to me he must not know he’s on a truck. Couldn’t he feel it moving?

The whole thing ended up being about a little girl named Cressida. She was maybe six or seven years old, had long blonde hair, and she was dying of cancer. And her parents were some kind of fundamentalists and wouldn’t take her to the hospital for treatment, yet somehow they thought Sherlock Holmes would be able to save the girl.

Sherlock took the “if you can’t beat them” tactic. And for whatever reason, I had ended up part of this strange band of people as well. I didn’t seem free to go, so I guess they’d captured me when they’d captured Sherlock.

For a while we moved place to place pretty regularly in order to stay ahead of the law. But the whole thing culminated in us gathering at a kind of huge playschool where others of these people’s “church” also came. Sherlock was remarkably jolly. He did magic tricks and stuff to entertain everyone. Guess he does love an audience. At one point there was a little TV on a shelf, and I think it was actually showing Sherlock. But the signal kept getting a little fuzzy, and this one woman kept going to jiggle the cable. I found that annoying for some reason.

Cressida’s parents were preparing for her to get married . . . Possibly to Sherlock, though I’m not entirely sure of that. But she was in really bad shape, though she was keeping her spirits up. It was clear she wouldn’t live much longer. In one of the playschool rooms they had set up a bunch of sleeping bags and hammocks. All of them cobalt blue. Cressida was in a hammock, in the wedding dress and veil. I was two or three children over in a sleeping bag. Yes, children. There were mostly children there—it was like a child’s party, a sleepover. So I’m not sure why I ended up in the sleeping bag. But the kids were singing . . . It was one of those songs that they’d clearly substituted the words. Some pop tune, but they’d changed the words. And Cressida’s mother came over and was massaging my shoulders, but not in a good way. It was like she was trying to be mean, trying to hurt me. It irritated me. In fact, throughout a lot of the dream I was irritated.

Cressida died that night, I think, and I’m not clear on whether the wedding ever actually happened. I think maybe she took her vows while lying in her hammock. Sherlock was either the groom or the ordinator. Not clear. Don’t think I actually saw it happen in the dream; it was one of those things that took place “off camera.” But the sum total was, the morning after the sleepover, everyone was packing to leave.

There was something complicated about stairs headed down to where our bags were waiting for us. Pale grey concrete and they looped back on themselves in some way. I was walking down with another woman, and there was an athletic coach—also a woman—at the bottom of the stairs. She and the woman I’d been walking with knew each other and greeted each other and then I accidentally brushed up against something, either in a trash bin or that the coach was holding, that had nacho cheese on it. What a mess, more irritation. There was a laboratory of some kind down there, too, so I went and found a sink. And there was candy next to the sink, so I took some. Others who were down there were saying they were hungry, and I was like, “There’s candy. Stop complaining. It’s probably for the rats but I’m taking some anyway.” And everyone laughed. I felt better after that for some reason.

Sherlock was there, too, in the laboratory, and I suppose he was also getting ready to leave. I felt like he was watching me, but I tried to ignore it. I was waiting with my suitcase (though I’m not sure what I and the others were waiting for . . . transportation of some kind, I guess) when I woke up.