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Monday, January 27, 2014

Why I Love the Writers of Sherlock

Last Monday, I crowed about the return of my Boy of the BBC, Sherlock Holmes. Yes, I was also pleased to see John Watson. In fact, I ended up in John's corner by the end of that post.

If you've watched episode two of season three, you might think the writers listened to me. That's impossible, of course. These movies were written, shot and produced months ago. The writers would have to be precognizant to know my gripes.

That's why they're good writers. They understood Sherlock was heading down the impossible-to-love path of the true jerk, and yanked him back to the high road. Not so high that we forget who he is, but high enough to see John means something to him. High enough to believe he may have a notion of how wrong his behavior was and wants to make amends for it. This momentary outpouring of sentiment won't last, but his gesture of goodwill refills our well of loyalty to the high-functioning sociopath (did you see that smile during the usher interview? I shuddered even as I laughed hard enough to disturb the cat).

I'm also pleased the writers have chosen not to put Sherlock and Mary in opposition. It would have been an easy route to take with plenty of drama, but ultimately it would have torn the original friendship apart, and what is Holmes without Watson? A dickhead, as John so succinctly put it.

Anyway, I'm thrilled. The Circle of Three is officially my new favorite episode, replacing Scandal in Belgravia, which has held the title for seven movies.

Happy Monday, dear readers. May a beautiful friendship warm your heart on this ridiculously cold mid-Winter day.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Teriyaki Chicken Thighs

I've eaten this for lunch since Tuesday, and I find myself eagerly anticipating the next lunch, and wondering why I have to wait until lunch, because it's not like I haven't eaten chicken for breakfast.

The original recipe came from Mr. Food, but I added pineapple chunks and left out scallions (because I couldn't find any). I also used generous amounts of olive oil to subsidize the marinade while cooking since it didn't look like enough sauce to pour over anything came out of that bag.

Serves: 4 I diced the chicken after cooking, so this could be more if you're fond of sides and easy with the meat portions.
Marinade Time: 4 hr
Cooking Time: 20 min

What You'll Need:
2 1/2 to 3 pounds chicken thighs, skinned if desired

1/2 cup soy sauce
3 scallions, sliced
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger 
1 can pineapple chunks 

What To Do:
Place chicken in a large resealable plastic bag. I bought boneless by accident. I did cut off most of the fat, but I wasn't OCD about it.

In a small bowl, combine remaining ingredients. I chopped a third of the pineapple into mush with a Pampered Chef chopper and added it to the marinade for additional moisture. Mix well and add to chicken. Seal bag and marinate in refrigerator about 4 hours, turning occasionally.

Drain chicken, reserving marinade.

Coat a grill pan or skillet with cooking spray and cook chicken over medium heat 15 to 18 minutes, or until no longer pink in center, turning occasionally.

In a small saucepan over high heat, boil reserved marinade 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Spoon over chicken and serve immediately.

I used olive oil instead of cooking spray, added the marinade immediately to the pan and cooked it all together. I haven't died of salmonella poisoning, so I must assume this works. 

Serve with jasmine rice and sliced scallions. I'm eating it with brown rice and quinoa, the rest of the pineapple chunks added after cooking, and canned peas. Nom nom nom.

Mr. Food warning: For safety when using marinades, never consume a marinade that has come in contact with raw poultry, meat, or seafood, nor let it come in contact with cooked food unless the marinade has been brought to a boil and boiled for at least 3 minutes, stirring frequently.

Happy Friday, dear readers. Make a double portion of this tonight, and you'll be happy all weekend on the leftovers. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Sherlock Returns

I'm hoping to avoid spoilers for those who haven't seen Season Three, Episode 1 of the BBC's reboot of the Sherlock Holmes franchise, but smart people will figure it out anyway, so read at your own risk.

According to the show mythology, it's been two years since Sherlock plunged from the top of St. Bart's. Has it really been that long?

I've lost track of time. The span between my sociopathic detective's jump and the airing of The Empty Hearse, was, for me, an eternity of slow-burning anxiety that one or both stars (or God-forbid, the writers) would die pursuing other projects, and I'd never know for sure if or how Sherlock survived.

TT: It might be argued that Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman exposing themselves on other projects was good sense for their acting careers, but it should not be argued in front of me as it could result in a serious throat injury. I boycotted Firefly because it pulled Joss Whedon away from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel and all three died as a result. My loyalty is fierce, but it must be reciprocated. It could also be argued that neither the presence of BC nor the direction of J.J. Abrams could save Star Trek: Into Darkness from a fatal case of the utterly predictable, so BC should have stayed at Baker Street where his snark makes me happy. As I am boycotting The Hobbit for numerous reasons, including the delay in new Sherlock episodes, I won't comment on the wisdom of MF's decision.

Back to Sherlock.

I haven't decided if the writers cheated. This is a huge issue for me. My suspension of disbelief is well-exercised, and I can give a lot of slack to those who have appeased me in the past, but they walked that line pretty close last night. Was the truth revealed? It was plausible, but hardly satisfying. I don't mind the writers not telling me the truth (yet), as long as a truth exists (and I hear it eventually). I find the current solution rather machina ex deus, and not at all as big a role for Molly Hooper as I was led to expect (an expectation that remains possible considering Sherlock's treatment of her on his return). In short, I'm not convinced I've been given all the facts, and I'm really hoping I'm right.

TT: I am thrilled the first explanation was not all it seemed, 'cause I was ready to turn the TV off.

I must also say, as much as I love the self-absorbed Sherlock, the last three episodes have turned John from a friend and confidant to a whipping boy and lab rat. I am an extremely loyal friend, but even I have a limit of how much crap I will take before severing ties (with a complete and utter finality that earned me the name "Queen of Cut Off" in therapy class). Secretly dosing me with a fear-inducing drug to test your hypothesis, treating me like a second-rate citizen when I'm the only person who believes you, and, finally, hiding your actual "not-deadness" for two years because my grief is what makes the whole illusion real is crossing the line of acceptable friend behavior, even for a self-diagnosed sociopath.

Writers, restore some of John's dignity and worth in Sherlock's esteem, or you will lose me. You have two episodes.

Maybe three. I'm pretty loyal.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Cemetery Dairy

I've wanted goats for almost as long as I can remember. It all started with a picture of Lancelot, the first unicorn captured on film - a billy goat with a birth defect that caused his two horns to grow as one.

One of the issues facing cemeteries in Kansas is maintenance, specifically lawn maintenance. It costs a lot to mow a cemetery, and if it has large memorial headstones, you risk damaging them with weed eaters.

Enter my love of goats. Goats won't nick tombstones in their quest for grass, and they carry the added benefit of free fertilizer and goat milk. Add some pretty harnesses with jingle bells, and you got yourself a fun treat for the kiddos when they come to visit great-grandma's grave. Section the cemetery into grazing times, and post signs that flowers will be eaten after seven days.

Why stop there? A couple of sheep for the places the goats won't touch, and voila! Wool. Looms and weaving classes on the weekend. Some chickens, ducks and guinea hens, and you've not only solved the bug problem, you've added lawn aeration.

Native fruit-bearing bushes around the perimeter will benefit from the improved soil. Come to the cemetery with flowers, leave with gooseberries, chokecherries and thornless blackberries. Better yet, pick your own flowers from the flower and herb garden adjacent to the reflection pool. Wild garlic attracts bees and flavors goat butter.

The sad part is, I'm not joking. I want this cemetery. I can see my Kansas-adapted Earthship watching over its flock of wild and domesticated animals, protecting and preserving not only the memories of those who've gone before, but the ground in which they rest. On the crest of the hill stands the caretaker, wrapped in her hand knitted shawl, and smiling through the ageless beauty only hard, clean living provides.

Expect this scenario to appear in my book of short stories. I now know exactly where Miss Am lives.

Happy Thursday, dear readers. May all your good dreams come true, and your nightmares be forgotten in the light of day.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The January Plan

I'm tired of my well-begun yet no-end-in-sight WIP mocking me from the turtle-shaped memory stick. I don't know about you, but I'm beginning to think of myself as a poser instead of a writer. What does it matter that I produced once? Am I to live on those laurels for the rest of eternity?

Ten words a day is not enough reason to turn on the laptop. Five hundred words a day feels insurmountable at the moment when the pinnacle of my story is cloaked in storm clouds. But a blog post's worth of words? I can do that. I used to blog every day. Two or three paragraphs is worth the time if those paragraphs move the story forward. As a bonus, if I produce an epic fail, it's fairly easy to rewrite that kind of day's work.

I am a mountain climber hanging by a finger and a toe as I search for the next outcropping that will push me an inch higher. I can rappel down from the top. My hesitation comes from having no clear image of the climax. I have no clear image of the antagonist of this tale. I have no clear image of the cast. Makes the whole thing rather difficult to map in anything but the broadest of terms.

But a couple of paragraphs? Could be description. Could be a hint. Could be clean up, or a fight scene, or scintillating dialogue. Could be that inch I need to give me the space to breathe and study my next move instead of worrying over not starting yet.

That's my plan for January. I already started it. I'll keep you posted on the progress.

Happy Wednesday, dear readers. May your mountains be worth climbing.