Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Abominable Bride - Review

I consider BBC's Sherlock one of the best modern tv shows out there right now. I did not think it possible for it to rise any higher.

BBC just loves to prove me wrong.

I had no idea what was going on when I saw previews and pictures leading up to the episode's premiere. We're in Victorian London? What happened to modern Sherlock? How are they going to make this work?

Here's the synopsis for The Abominable Bride:

What if the world's most famous consulting detective and his best friend lived in a Baker Street of steam trains, hansom cabs, top hats and frock-coats? Welcome to 'Sherlock' in 1895!

Some things, though, remain reassuringly the same. Friendship, adventure and especially, MURDER...

Why is Thomas Ricoletti a little surprised to see his wife dressed in her old wedding gown?  Because, just a few hours before, she took her own life...

Mrs Ricoletti's ghost now appears to be prowling the streets with an unslakeable thirst for revenge. From fog-shrouded Limehouse to the bowels of a ruined church, Holmes, Watson and their friends must use all their cunning to combat an enemy seemingly from beyond the grave and the final, shocking truth about...the Abominable Bride!

The team of Sherlock has created a masterpiece that pays homage to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's work, and the show itself in equal measure.

As difficult as it is to believe... This episode was worth the wait.

Clever, well written, brilliant characterization, gorgeous setting, fast paced plot... It has it all. I was not quite thrilled with a part of the solution to the mystery but it was still creative. A brilliant episode that I want to rewatch repeatedly.

*WARNING! Here there be spoilers!*

 The Visuals: One of Sherlock's best and most distinct traits is how well it has always utilized and showcased modern technology and modern life. It uses modern technology to enrich the feeling of Victorian London. It's the same show we've been watching for years only cloaked in the smoke and paper of history.

Whoever was in charge of wardrobe and makeup for the cast deserves a raise. The Bride herself stands out the most. Almost supernatural in appearance, her gown and "crimson wound" of a mouth were beautiful and alarming.

With rich and surreal settings the episode thrives on the wind of fancy without committing to the ride and keeps you firmly planted in the real world. I could have been watching a supernatural show, or a historical movie, or a mystery. This episode wears many genres well.

The Characters:
Each character has a clever twist about them. Mycroft had a delightful portrayal. We also get a glimpse of his more caring side towards his brother.

Watching Mary, Lestrade, Mrs. Hudson, and Molly all appear in their "new" roles was like opening a whole extra round of Christmas presents. Each one contained a surprise.

The portrayal of Sherlock Holmes himself was wonderful. He is exactly the same man we've come to love but with a gentlemanly eloquence.

John is still loyal and much smarter than Sherlock gives him credit for. His good humor and friendship to Sherlock are invaluable as always. Their interactions were well balanced.

Excellent dialogue. There were many noteworthy quotes. Most of them had more than one meaning in light of the show, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's work, and the episode itself.

The Plot: The Abominable Bride in question seems to be on the loose... Turning up, marking men for death, and vanishing into the fog. Which is quite intriguing as she is dead. She was seen putting a gun in her mouth and pulling the trigger.

Here is where I first started to suspect how the writers were going to pull this seemingly random episode into the modern world.

Who else do we know who blew out his own brains and is back from the dead?

James Moriarty.

He makes an appearance in this episode that makes you cringe and realize that some humans are really nasty. But you love watching him. Andrew Scott brings such humor and color to such an awful piece of work!

Now how does the story enter the modern world?

This whole adventure is fun and clever. But it's all a bit of a fantasy. A fantasy of such scale that only the mind of a brilliant consulting detective could produce.

*once again... spoilers*

It's all in Sherlock's mind palace. He's still on that plane, returning from exile, about to land.

"It's not the fall that kills Sherlock... It's the landing."

And you're jolted into the real world! Or are you?

You might need to make a List to keep track of everything.


Bravo Moffat. You've still got it.

This episode was layered and full of subtleties. It's definitely complex, but I never lost the story and the plot was straightforward enough to be able to relax and bask in the details.

Go see it. PBS is offering it to watch for free right now.


By the way... A Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all. I hope your winter holiday was as wondrous as mine. :)

Sunday, August 16, 2015

My Adventures Through the British Isles

Trinity College - Dublin, Ireland
Greetings one and all!

It has been some months since I last posted. Much has transpired.

I took a long planned trip to the British Isles! I was gone for 15 days with my mother, a friend, and her mother. In that span of time I journeyed through England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. The most surprising thing about the trip? My feet often felt frozen and looked paler than the rainy skies we encountered.

During the trip despite the consequences of extreme exhaustion my friend and I beat the odds of nonexistent wifi in a foreign country and managed to watch 2 movies: Far and Away and The Worlds End.

I heard John Farmer's song, "The Voice," on bagpipes.

We started our trip in England. We saw Big Ben, the London Eye, Parliament, the Globe Theatre, and many other trademark sights of London.

We saw Richard II performed in the Globe Theatre, it was fantastic! I loved it. As a nice addition we toured the Globe Theatre and got to sit in and watch them rehearsing for opening night which is when we attended.

We took an extra tour to Stonehenge. It took much longer than we wanted to. I will always look at pictures of Stonehenge with a tinges of mingled exasperation and fondness. Mostly exasperation. :)

The day we arrived in London the Tube (subway) workers were on strike for the day so the millions of people usually underground were up and about on the streets. Traffic was an ordeal, especially for 4 people with jet lag. The first day found us discouraged and disillusioned. However, London, despite the pain it gave us has become my favorite city. I love how it works and moves, once you can read the chaos, it's very simple to get around in. The Tube is incredibly efficient (if it's not off-line from a strike or undergoing repairs).

To my disappointment I encountered nothing Doctor Who. The entire trip we encountered sparse merchandise in a couple shops, and once I saw a Dalek in a wall mural.

We did visit Platform 9 3/4 and 221b Baker Street.

After London we also visited Stratford-Upon-Avon. Shakespeare's birthplace. It's a beautiful spot.

In Scotland we were treated to some lovely Highland Bagpipe music; I tried Haggis (actually quite tasty, do not ask what's in it); and we toured the Highlands which are very beautiful. The mountains are almost always buried in fog.

Throughout the trip I sampled wine, whisky, and of course... beer. We visited a couple of different breweries.

The highlight of Scotland was visiting Edinburgh (pronounced Ed-in-burrow) and getting to tour Edinburgh Castle. Nerdy Fact: The Red Wedding in season 3 of Game of Thrones is based on a real feast that took place in Edinburgh Castle.

Edinburgh Castle
Cool Swords!
The moral is: If the world is ending all around you make sure you grab your beer on the way down!
Cliffs of Moher

In Ireland we went to Titanic Belfast. A museum dedicated to the infamous ship. There was a clear floor that you could stand on and see the ocean floor moving over the remains of the ship.

We were treated to Irish music. My favorite night was in the Old Jameson Distillery. We had the most incredible group of musicians and divine food.

Another highlight of the trip was the Cliff of Moher. Gorgeous and vast. It's impossible to capture their enormity in a picture. They rise from 400-700 feet high. Let me tell you the ride to reach them in a massive tour bus can make you a little edgy.

100% Accurate Summary of Ireland's Weather
Something we could always look forward to was our hotel room. You could never predict what you would end up with. All of our hotels were wonderful. But some had little quirks that made showering an adventure or finding an outlet to charge your phone an ordeal. Every shower was different... And sometimes the outlets wouldn't match any of your converters. That feeling you get as your phone's battery drops at ever increasing speeds... But we lived! The lowest my phone's battery descended to was 5%.

This post is a very broad summary of all 15 days and I didn't touch on half of all we did. However I hope it gave you a little taste of the British Isles!

We booked our tour with CIE Tours. We chose the British and Irish Voyager. I fully recommend them.

As a little aside, today is my blog and Facebook page's anniversary! Here's to 2 years! Thank you for your support!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Art Curriculum- Week 30- Watercolor Blue Jay- Step by Step

Week 30- Watercolor Blue Jay- Step by Step

Category: Summer

What you will need:

-big/medium/little brushes (these don't have to be specific sizes, but it was good to expose the kids to having to use different brushes to accomplish different things)
-paint palettes
-cups/bowls to hold water
-multipurpose paper

-green, red, yellow, brown, light blue (ours was called turquoise), dark blue, purple, black, paint
-hairdryer (optional to speed up the salt drying process)
Time: 1.5 hours approx. (this is a more advanced project, the kids started to get impatient towards the end so maybe plan for a break halfway through - snacks are always a safe path to go!)
Prep (was an hour because I decided to draw the bird instead of going with a coloring sheet - the reference photo is from Pinterest).

  • 1: Background first! BIG brush. Green paint to cover the background. Drop the colors on quickly as you can without touching the bird. Sprinkle with salt. Dry with hairdryer.
  • 2: Red berries/flowers. BIG brush. Use the side of the brush to mark the paper. Be sure to leave white spots as much as possible.
  • 2: Green. Paint the leaves, fill in the white parts with the red.
  • 4: Yellow: BIG brush. Fill in the tree. Solid yellow. (tip: always try to paint the lightest colors first!)
  • 5: Brown. MEDIUM brush. Shade the bottom of the tree trunk.
  • Light blue. MEDIUM brush. Use side of the brush the make the blots. Paint the tail solid light blue.
  • 7: Purple. MEDIUM brush. Paint top half of the birds back and try to blend with the bottom part of the bird. Paint purple on the top of the birds head.
  • 7: (continued) SMALL brush. Dark blue. Add dark blue to the light blue blotches and the top of the head. The beak is dark blue and so is the eye.
  • 7: (continued) SMALL brush. Black. Detail. Black around the eye and feathering around the face. Emphasize the importance of leaving the chest and belly white along with parts of the face.

Overall: A lengthy project filled with a lot of detail. It's worth the patience because the results are lovely! But it does take more time. Suggestions include either simplifying the picture (remove extra leaves/flowers) or inserting a break time for a snack. It depends on your kid's patience and what level they are at.

(logging 2.5 hours for prep and execution)

Art Curriculum- Week 29- Blown "Glass" Sculptures

Week 29- Blown "Glass" Sculptures

Category: Summer

What you will need:

-plastic cups (we used 3 different kinds we had on hand)

Time: 1 hour (not including prep time)

I found this project on Aggieland Mommy.
  • Turn the oven on to 350 degrees
  • Color the cups with sharpies (we had a variety of cups we experimented with to get different shapes. Make sure you color thick and bold. This isn't a project for detail. Simple shapes and stripes work best.
  • Place the cups on tinfoil (open mouth facing down) on a pan.
  • Stick in the oven for 3-4 minutes. If you can turn on your oven light and try to watch them collapse! (just a warning, our fancy tall cups refused to melt all the way. They kept their cup shape)
  • Take out of the oven and use a knife/fork to pull the cups off the tinfoil. The plastic will still be soft, but it hardens almost immediately so don't be worried about ruining your sculpture.
  • After it's completely cool... enjoy!

Before melting

After melting

Overall: Easy and enjoyable. The kids needed some extra encouragement to keep coloring but they did really well!

(2 hours - prep included experimenting with the plastic and making examples)

Monday, April 13, 2015

Art Curriculum- Week 28- "Stained Glass" Tinfoil (Modern Art)

Week 28- "Stained Glass" Tinfoil (Modern Art)

Movement: Modern Art

What you will need:

-hot glue
-cardboard (or card stock)
-tinfoil (heavy duty holds up better)

Time: 45 minutes (not including prep which was 1 hour)


I have a stack of cardboard saved from calendars and art pads that I was able to use. However cardstock will work too. You need a stiff or harder material.

I looked up modern art in stained glass windows. I drew the designs in hot glue. Creating solid geometric shapes (circles/rectangles/squares/etc.)

Frank Lloyd Wright has some excellent modern stained glass that I used as a reference.

When pressing the tinfoil down start from the middle and work your way to the edges. I used my pinkie fingers knuckle to press into the edges. Using Yor fingernails will read the foil.

I folded the excess over the back.


I told them they could pick three colors. And then could leave some spaces blank (to create a "fourth").

No same colors could touch except by corners.

Be careful that they don't color to hard or press on the edges, I couldn't get the tinfoil tight in the corners so the edges could tear.

After they finished I went back and touched up the spaces.


The foil makes the colors extra vibrant and jewel toned.

frank lloyd wright

Overall: Easy and fun! The end result is beautiful. The only thing to watch for is that the foil doesn't tear, but we had no incidents.

Related blog posts:

-Tardis Step By Step (Cardboard)
-Abstract Watercolor Trees

(logging 2 hours for prep and execution)