Category Archives: Reviews

Book, film, TV and other arts reviews.

Sweet mysteries of the UK

Posted on October 28, 2010 by

Sherlock has begun airing on PBS and, like practically everyone else whose opinion I’ve heard, I loved it. I thought Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch were brilliant, I liked the script, and everything else I could squee about would be so very spoilery. I cannot wait for the next one.

Before SHERLOCK, Masterpiece aired S2 of Wallander, featuring little Kenny Branagh in the title role–remember when he was just that Henry Five guy?–as a deeply emo Swedish detective. These mysteries may not have the crackling struck-by-lightning appeal of Sherlock, but they’re good stories, well directed, with intrusive-but-nifty camera work and a stunning color palette. They offer a bit of a peek into another society (as filtered through British TV) and have good casts and solid enough mysteries.

There are many inappropriate humor moments to be had on this show, though. Wallander himself is precisely the sort of basket case that brings out a certain heartlessness in me. There’s been lots of Pause and Heckle: “Dude, if you’re so busy being upset that you don’t pay your bills, don’t go crying to me, in the dark, when the power company cuts off your juice. And, man, could you have said something dumber and more hurtful to your daughter? Hey, bummed out guy, why the uber-peppy ringtone?”

Seriously, the guy needs a nanny.

Wallander’s excuse might be that he appears to be the only competent cop in his particular unit: the others, as far as I can tell, have taken a full course of Useless Pills and a precautionary run of Huh? Boosters. They don’t help when he’s in danger, they barely blink when he goes all “Hey! People are dying, OMG, I’m so upset!” No, they shrug, dump unwanted boxes in his office and order pizza. No wonder he’s stressed out!

(Wallander’s obvious slash interest, as played by Richard McCabe, is Competent and Cares, but he’s a forensics guy, and thus his reach is limited.)

Humor aside, I definitely want to see the first season of this.

Nesting, reading, Leaping around at TOR

Posted on October 27, 2010 by

My review of Marie Brennan’s A Star Shall Fall is up at; Marie, you might remember, also did a Journey interview here a while back.

In related news, my Quantum Leap rewatch on “Another Mother” is also up at

The past couple of days it has been pouring rain in torrents, very chilly and dark, the kind of rain where you might as well be swimming, and so I sensibly spent most of yesterday indoors, working either at my desk or reading by the fire.

Whole cobwebs

This hibernation weather that tends to trigger nesting urges, so on the weekend I bought a new set of very soft cotton sheets and a microfleece blanket.

Flickering heights of television

Posted on October 20, 2010 by

I had a good clamber over the new habitat island in False Creek last Wednesday, and caught all kinds of birds including this northern flicker, who was cleaning itself and soaking up the sunlight:

False Creek Birds

I am also flickering across the horizon at Benbella Books, guest blogging about last week’s Glee episode “Duets”. This is something of a tie-in to my essay “Who’s the Real Lima Loser? The Curious Friendship of Finn Hudson and Noah Puckerman“, which will be out in their unofficial Glee companion, FILLED WITH GLEE in November. And over at, my third Quantum Leap rewatch, “The Color of Truth,” is live.

Another delight of the week gone by: Kelly read me The Uncommon Reader, by Alan Bennett, the other evening. She is a fantastically expressive reader, and the novella itself is laugh out loud funny, so it was a thoroughly wonderful experience. The book is about making time for pleasure, about giving yourself a chance to grow, and ultimately about giving yourself permission to write… even in the face of considerable opposition.

The Uncommon Reader also reminded me that a couple months ago I saw a cluster of blog posts written by committed bibliophiles who were expressing frustration with the frequently-heard comment, “I never find time to read.” This observation seems, to them, to imply that reading (novels, especially) is a frivolous, even sinfully self-indulgent pursuit as opposed to one that is mind-expanding and worthwhile. This novella makes the counter-argument to that foolish idea very eloquently. I cannot recommend it enough.

Slouching toward Wednesday

Posted on October 6, 2010 by

I have a new favorite blog, and it is Hyperbole and a Half. The Alot entry may be the most perfect illustrated post I have ever seen. (Badger, I suspect you will really love this one.)

Here is a newly-grown starling, sharp-edged and new and full of possibility:
YA Starling

Monday’s THE RAIN GARDEN words: 1,145 for a total of 36,575. It’s all very sparse and slenderly put together at the moment, but I am cruising toward denoument. So in one sense it’s nearly done and in another, perhaps half-finished?