Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Winter Honeysuckle

This past weekend we had two glorious warm days with bright sunshine.  It was 70 degrees here on Sunday.  Honey bees were out in force, taking advantage of a magical reprise from the otherwise blustery frigid winter weather.  There was a sweet fragrance in our barn yard.  Our Lonicera fragrantissima (a happy scientific term to say), which I had hardly noticed before this season, burst forth in its sweetly subdued glory.  The bush is robust this year with plentiful wet weather and it doesn't seem to mind the cold.  

The Sunday sunshine caused it to bloom its simple flowers. Jennifer and I enjoyed placing our faces in the middle of it and inhaling the sweetness. Along with the daffodils that bloom every year at this time, our rather common and unspectacular winter honeysuckle bush promises spring is coming. None-to-soon for my taste this year. None-to-soon.

On Saturday I got my chainsaws out and spent a couple of hours cleaning up the broken branches and brush from the recent snow.  It was a good workout.  Cutting up wood can be a very satisfying experience.

Our Winter Honeysuckle in our barnyard.  This is the most prolific I have ever seen it. You can see a gate from my dad's tornado destroyed barn now used as yard art by us in this photo.
A closer look.  Honey bees were drawn to its sweet fragrance. You can see one on a bloom in the middle of this pic.
The blooms certainly are not the most colorful or beautiful of the flowering flora that will sprout in the coming weeks.  It is rather tropical looking - more leaf and vine than blossom, but its true charm resides in being first and being particularly robust this season.  Hopeful in every way.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Recent Life and Art

Dinner and a movie for Valentine's Day, a Pat Metheny concert, and dance choreography by Alvin Ailey hit on three consecutive nights over the recent weekend.   The speed of life often overtakes my ability or desire to blog about it all.  This post is a montage of recent life and art.

The Alvin Ailey performance was supposed to be last Thursday night at the Fox Theatre.  But, it was rescheduled for Sunday evening after we experienced a winter storm here last week.  At our place we got about 8 inches of snow, mixed in with some sleet and freezing rain, between Tuesday and Thursday.  That is the most snow we have experienced here since 1993.

We lost power for about nine hours on Thursday but fortunately it went out during the daylight hours instead of at night when the temperatures were much colder.  It was a bit of an ordeal.  I managed to get into work in my trusty Subaru on Tuesday but I was the only one there.  After a few hours, with the snow falling more heavily, I decided to head back home where Jennifer and I hunkered down for the better part of three days.

We were lucky.  We continued to have power right up until the snow actually ended and bright sunshine came out.  Most of the the majestic whiteness melted within a few hours but it was during that time that the trees and branches all over our county began to snap and fall on power lines.  Over 12,000 people were without power in our immediate area.  Some didn't get their electricity back until the next day.  So, as I said, we were lucky.
The Cherry tree, Leyland Cyprus trees, and shrubs in our back yard were weighted down pretty heavily last Thursday morning.  Some branches snapped on our property which will require some chainsaw work on my part in the next few weeks. 
Our front yard looking south.  It was a winter wonderland for sure.  Very beautiful and peaceful...until I heard the sound of branches snapping.
Jennifer took this nice shot with her iPhone of the snow from our Pole Barn area looking south.  This was about 7:30 AM Thursday.  A half-hour later the skies cleared and bright sunshine caused the rapid melting of the heavy snow.
Anyway, Atlanta was hit pretty hard as well, though they got more ice and less snow than we did. Fortunately, the Ailey performance was rescheduled.  We figured it was due to the enormous number of flight cancellations at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.  Perhaps the dance troop could not arrive at Atlanta in time for what was to be their opening of a four-day stop on their tour.

That performance was supposed to be my Valentine's Day gift to Jennifer.  Well, I suppose it still was, only it would have to wait.  Meantime, Friday came, the snow was almost all gone and my daughter came home from college to enjoy Valentine's Day with her boyfriend.  It was their idea, partly due to their comparative poverty perhaps, to have dinner with Jennifer and me. Sort of a fun double date.

We made spaghetti with toasted bread and Caesar salad. Various chocolates were liberally available before and after the meal.  We sat around allowing them to share stories of their recent college experiences.  Jennifer and I were glad to have them.  If nothing else it disrupted the touch of cabin fever we both had from being shut-in by the weather.  As Friday was Valentine's Day and all four of us enjoy good movies, I suggested one of my favorites, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004).

My daughter was skeptical.  The boyfriend went along to score points with his girlfriend's dad. Jennifer could only vaguely recall the film.  She said I never watched it with her. Maybe that is so but I have seen the movie at least a half-dozen times since it came out.  I figured she must have watched at least parts of it in there somewhere.

Eternal Sunshine has a lot to offer.  One of many excellent screenplays by Charlie Kaufman.  Terrific performances by Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet (this is Carrey's finest acting job in my opinion).  It is a non-sentimental, often quirky, romantic comedy that heavily features Valentine's Day throughout the film.  There are more "romantic" films for the romantic day, perhaps, but this film is about "real" romantic relationships, warts and all, and tells an interesting story in an entertaining way without going over the top.  It is touching in a very grounded sense, wonderfully off-beat and funny, somewhat poignant, but with a relevant, fundamental message about love and emotional attraction.

Without ruining anything, the film states that you might be able to forget a person you were once in love with, but you cannot erase the basic attraction, the love itself lingers even as the details of the person dissolve from memory.  It is a heady film with a touch of philosophy, which, of course, does not take any points away from it in my book.  Two quotes are predominant in the film.  One is by Nietzsche, so that is another plus.  There are different ways to translate it but I prefer the version given in the film.

"Blessed are the forgetful; because they get the better even of their blunders."

The other quote is a beautiful, poetic one from Alexander Pope:  "How happy is the blameless vestal’s lot! The world forgetting, by the world forgot. Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind! Each prayer accepted, and each wish resigned."

Jennifer kept saying, "This better have a happy ending" throughout the film.  She and my daughter were concerned that the movie would end up being a downer.  It is a precarious narrative.  But, rather than state the obvious, I just kept telling them it was a great movie and to stay with.  Gradually, as the meaning became more apparent, as it became obvious that memory of people and places and things is more fragile but the emotion of attraction and love is lasting, they started to smile inside and their apprehension subsided.  My daughter crowned the evening with a sincere "great movie dad" when the closing credits rolled to Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometime.  Yes!  See Eternal Sunshine; it is a 9.

Saturday evening was a bit more upscale.  My daughter had to return to college for a party and to cram in some homework (probably in that order) while Jennifer and I traveled into a by now ice-free Atlanta to join some of our friends for dinner and concert.  We enjoyed some Thai food and socializing at Tuk Tuk with its beautiful views of the downtown area.  Then it was over to the Ferst Center for an excellent fusion jazz performance by the Pat Metheny Unity Band.

Metheny was an unknown commodity to me until I met Jennifer back in 1987.  We listened to a lot of jazz in the early days of our relationship and still do, usually on Saturday evenings while we are around the house.  Metheny is one of the world's greatest guitarists and certainly his latest band ensemble mixes with him to create some really outstanding music.  Metheny played almost nonstop for about three hours while his band mates occasionally ventured off-stage to allow him to perform either solo or in duos with the other members: a latin drummer, a keyboardist and vocalist from Italy, a versatile wind player who altered between three saxophones and a flute, and a really awesome stand-up acoustical bass player. Together they took Metheny's powerful, semi-improvised and ethereal music to marvelous height much to the delight of the sold-out arena of about 2,000 people.

The personal highlight of the evening for Jennifer and me came with Metheny's first encore when the band performed Are You Going With Me?, our favorite Metheny tune.  During dinner I mentioned that I hoped he would perform that but Jennifer said she did not expect it.  After all, the song came about three decades ago, Metheny's repertoire is vast, winning him an impressive 20 grammys through the years, and he is tireless in the production of new musical material. His latest album, Kin, just came out and the evening featured several pieces from that.  But, Are You Going With Me? is a genuine jazz fusion classic.  The audience roared when his band began playing it after coming back out on stage.  It was a memorable moment from one of the greatest jazz genre performers on the planet today.  We were all lucky to have experienced it.

My Valentine's Day gift to Jennifer this year was supposed to happen Thursday night but, due to the winter storm, it was rescheduled for Sunday evening.  Jennifer appreciates dance, particularly modern dance.  She took years of ballet back in her youth.  I am admittedly a novice in this art form. But, I enjoy watching sculpted bodies in tight outfits creating energy on a stage.  So, we were both looking forward to seeing the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's performance at the fabulous Fox Theater.

We both look forward to being in the Fox whenever we attend an event there.  It is a classic, historic, unique venue. For the Ailey performance we had excellent seats, just 5-6 rows back in the balcony section.  I prefer the balcony to sitting on the stage level in part because you get the full view of the blue skyline, the Arabic motif of the space, and - of course - the "stars in the sky" looking down on you.

The audience consisted mostly of people familiar with dance as a form and with the Ailey troop in particular.  They were electric with anticipation, you could hear it in the general buzz of the crowd and in the bits and pieces of conversation I overheard by those around us.  As the various choreographed dances were expertly performed, they applauded in what were for me unexpected places, though Jennifer and I joined in during moments of obvious skill and fashioned force and grace.

The five performances offered this year in Atlanta individually consisted of different routines, mostly designed by Ailey (who died in 1989) but also featured some more contemporary choreography, some as recent as 2013. Unfortunately, the program we saw did not include the more recent pieces.  It made me wonder what they might be like. We had the pleasure of enjoying some of Ailey's choreographed pieces from the 1970's, however. So, on the plus side, we saw modern dance conceived by the master himself rather some inspired works of his disciples.

The evening began with a several dances Ailey created while working in conjunction with the great Duke Ellington.  Being unversed in dance it is a challenge for me to describe what we saw.  In simplistic terms the stage is devoid of props, the costumes are mostly functional and tight fitting, the mood is created with simple but professional lightning and color projected upon a white backdrop and covered floor space.  In other words, Ailey predominantly worked with figures and motion in open space to create his often powerful effect.  At least in the pieces that we were privileged to see.

Jennifer calls his choreography "asymmetrical". Sometimes all the dancers are more or less doing the same moves but often they are in juxtaposition, a few of them will not do what everyone else is doing, synchronicity is used for transition, group motion is staggered, sometimes seemingly spontaneous, sometimes a bit mechanical.  But always human.  These are beautiful bodies with strong cores and strong, shapely legs, incredibly dexterous and flexible; the upper torso of the male dancers in triangular with broad shoulders and small waists.  The female dancers often dominant the stage and are clearly equal to the men with their ripped upper backs and amazing balance of strength and elegance.

Something that could be called ballet is an ingredient in every Ailey piece.  But these more traditional dance moves are purely transitional, to give balance and refresh the experience before the next multi-faceted influence is introduced.  Having been a drama minor in college I can appreciate the magic of projecting power and vitality onto a stage space and out into the audience.  Ailey was obviously a master at this, reflected in the frequent adoring appreciative applause of the audience. These dancers are marvelously skilled at making imagination come alive and allowing the witness to become immersed in the wonder of precise techniques that generate very instinctual excitement and emotion.

The evening concluded with a performance of Revelations, an important and influential piece of choreography from 1960.  It was clearly different from the other performed works we experienced. Revelations has costumes and props, flowing ribbons, simple banners, and even an umbrella. Nothing too fancy here compared with the other works but this was apparently a deeply personal creation for Ailey, rooted in his religious upbringing, a very soulful relic from the beginning of the modern Civil Rights movement.  It concludes with a very upbeat Rocka My Soul In The Bosom of Abraham in which the audience, most standing and swaying, contributed to the energy of the moment by clapping to the beat along with the performers.

So, on consecutive evenings as it turned out, Jennifer and I got to experience two giants in their very different fields.  Alvin Ailey and Pat Metheny are both world renowned in dance and jazz, respectively.  It was a busier than usual weekend for us, rather chaotic when you throw in the wicked winter weather. But Valentine's Day was a memorable success featuring a great movie, great music, and great dance.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Turtle on the Rock

Turtle stretching under heat lamps on the rock in his penthouse aquarium.
A little over two years ago we "rescued" a Trachemys scripta scripta from its prison. The yellow-bellied slider was kept by a friend of my daughter's in a small fish bowl with the water rarely changed. The friend did not really relate to the turtle. Turtles can be fascinating and colorful but they are not really what you might call "affectionate".  Still, my daughter took pity on it. She also took the initiative and brought it home, showing it to my wife, who was horrified by the poor turtle's living circumstances. Before I knew it we had a new member of our family. 

From the beginning there was no major discussion as to what to name the reptile.  His name was "Franklin" according to the friend but to us he was simply "Turtle".  He is a turtle, after all, and he really doesn't care what you call him.  Just give him plenty of room, clean water, and food.  Not necessarily in that order from his turtle-perspective.

We put him in an unused aquarium we had. Jennifer, ever the tenacious researcher, read everything she could find online about yellow-bellied sliders.  Soon we were in a routine with him. My daughter grew less interested in him though she maintained an appreciation of watching the little fellow swim around and get up on a fake rock surface to dry his shell under a couple of lamps Jennifer rigged up.

Now Turtle is on display in our living room next to our television.  He is a source of amusement to family, friends, and visitors.  After all, you don't see a yellow-bellied slider in everyone's house. He is colorful and more interesting to watch than any fish because he actually climbs out of the water now and then to sun himself and stretch. Apparently, it is important that he routinely dry his shell...it has to do with the healthy, synchronized growth of the shell and the turtle's body inside.

You see, if the body grows faster than the shell then the shell can crack.  And if the shell does not grow at the proper rate then the turtle's body becomes slightly deformed.  It gets more oblong than flat. We want a flat, wide turtle not a nerf football turtle.

Whenever he is on his rock I always proclaim to the house "Turtle's on the rock."  I started doing this about a year or so ago because when he first began to venture out and sun himself he would be overly cautious.  Any movement, such as someone walking through the living room, would send him scurrying back into the safety of the water.  Turtle felt threatened.  Over time, however, Turtle has matured and now tolerates us walking through the room and even over next to him to turn on the television or stereo.  You still can't walk right up and gaze down upon Turtle on the rock but at least he doesn't do a back-flip off the rock into the water at the sign of first movement.

I guess since turtles typically live such a long time their adaptive habits are slow as well.  But, he has definitely changed and shown us some subtle signs of actual personality over time.  For example, feeding time is usually first thing every morning after Jennifer gets up.  But, I am usually up long before Jennifer.  As Turtle notes my movements through the house to make coffee etc. Turtle begins frantically swimming into the side of the glass aquarium, as if he can climb it.  Often his flailing motion creates a sloshing sound inside the aquarium - like a washing machine.  It is quite humorous sometimes in its loud, vigorous intensity.

He's supposed to eat greens or carrots every other day and turtle food on the alternating days.  In the beginning he did just that.  He devoured kale, carrot pieces, spinach.  Good turtle.  But, now that he is approaching his turtle teen years, he isn't eating his greens.  Turtle's eating habits are persnickety.  He relishes the "good stuff", the turtle food pellets we sprinkle in every other day. Recently, we discovered that Turtle prefers fresh leafy produce from local markets instead of grocery store produce.  Turtle indicates there is a distinctive difference.  I wonder what that ultimately says about the "fresh" vegetables at most major grocery stores?

Oh, it gets even more complicated.  For her birthday last year Jennifer asked for an expensive Diatom Filter to clean Turtle's domain.  It was a pain to put together and she spent weeks trying to make it all work just right.  But, as usual, her persistence was rewarded.  Turtle now has super clean water of roam around in but when that filter is all hooked up - once every week or two - sitting on the living room floor with all its hoses going everywhere it looks like a freaky high school science project in our living room.  But, my wife is a Georgia Tech nerd at heart so she loves it. Whatever.

Little Turtle grew and thrived and sprouted a tail. It was a short tail, however.  That, among other tidbits of minutia, lead Jennifer to proclaim that he was, in fact, a she.  Turtle is female, even though we are now in the habit of calling her a him. This, of course, creates another potential problem.  Female sliders must lay eggs whether they are impregnated or not.  So, some day in the not too distant future, Turtle will need a place out of the water to expunge her infertile eggs from her body.  The consequences of not doing so would be illness and perhaps his (her) ultimate demise.

So, recently Jennifer saw on youtube how to construct a platform for Turtle out of PVC and other common materials.  She is far more into home projects of this nature than I am so she took great delight in creating this new platform.  It fits fine in Turtle's aquarium even though it looks a bit more functional than natural.  Only Turtle didn't care much for the arrangement.  He only got up on the platform a couple of times and then only for brief periods before plunging back into the water. Part of the reason might be how cold this winter has been lately.  We keep our thermostat down a few degrees compared with the rest of the year. Even though the platform sat under two lamps and was plenty warm, we figured the temperature of the water must be even more comfortable for him/her. So, for now, the platform is out and we are back to just the rock.

If Turtle can survive all this attention and the "treacherous" circumstances of laying eggs in a confined space then she will likely live for decades. She will outlive our dog, Charlie.  She will likely outlive our next dog, if we have one.  My personal longevity goal is now to outlive Turtle, and then some.  Turtle will likely get to be about 8-13 inches long.  She is about 4-5 inches long now.  Jennifer says we will need a bigger tank.  I say Turtle is far better off than he/she was in the fish bowl and I wonder how many bigger tanks we will go through? Will Turtle consume our living room entirely? What other madness awaits us as we attempt to care for this colorful, curious, but ultimately cold-blooded creature?

The platform might ultimately serve as the space for where Turtle has to lay her eggs.  And probably the aquarium will grow with Turtle, hopefully not requiring too much space, hopefully not demanding a prodigious amount of electricity to keep Turtle's "Jacuzzi" environment at the optimum temperature.  Now that I think of it, like most well-kept pets I suppose (dogs, cats, turtles, etc.), Turtle has it way better than I do.  All she does is swim all day, sleep when she wants to, take dives into the pristine Diatom-filtered water, bask in warmth, stretch, eat, and poop.  Gradually, Turtle is getting to know us and we are getting to know Turtle.  It is a much slower paced relationship than with, say, a puppy.  Turtle’s personality is there, we see traces of it, but it is not fully evolved nor is it fully adapted to our family. Turtle might not ever give me a hug or let me pet her but she makes an interesting pet nonetheless.  I look forward to many years of getting to know one another, at the turtle's pace, of course.
Turtle in his/her smaller, more cautious, yet still curious days.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Binge-watching Sherlock

Jennifer and I recently completed a bit of binge TV viewing. Normally, neither of us is that into television. Now and then we catch an episode of Modern Family but the last TV show we watched with regularity was Fringe.  That series ended a little over a year ago.  Instead of watching TV we read, address hobbies, tend to our house and property, listen to music, watch movies, and explore on our iPads.

In January I heard the BBC series Sherlock praised by a couple of people at work in separate conversations over the period of a few days.  That caused me to take note but I didn't really act on it until, quite by accident (or so it seemed), I found a documentary in the PBS App on my iPad about the Sherlock series - the third set of episodes was about to be broadcast on that network.  The documentary was part-promotion of the series, part-history of the "Sherlock Holmes" phenomenon.  Did you know that no other fictional character in the world has been more portrayed in films, TV shows, and theater productions than Sherlock Holmes?  The documentary is filled with interesting tidbits like that.  I watched it one evening while lying in bed and decided it was worthy of further investigation, so to speak.

At any rate, it was the dead of an exceptionally cold winter and things were, frankly, a bit dull around our place so I asked Jennifer if she'd be interested in checking out the show on Netflix.  She agreed and we watched the first two seasons (or "series" as they say in the UK) over the course of about ten days.  That isn't as much TV as it sounds because each season of Sherlock comes in three 90-minute episodes.  A fairly wimpy amount of television as binge-watching goes, an investment of 9 hours, but that's OK with me.  Did I mention I'm not that in to TV?

Sherlock is wonderfully entertaining.  A great mix of mystery and comedy, debauchery and ambiguity, rich in eccentric character development, bizarre stories, with plenty of action and puzzles for the brain.  The scripts are cleverly written to integrate the original elements of Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective stories with the 21st century.  Dr. John Watson was a solider in the Second Anglo-Afghan War, for example.  So, he has just returned from service in present Afghan War in the TV series. Holmes has an attraction for Irene Adler as "The Woman" - there's an episode devoted to that.  Adler is a dominatrix in that particular episode.  Nice touch. 

In fact everything in all the episodes is based upon Doyle’s original text.  All of it is just pushed forward into our contemporary culture. Holmes and Watson do a lot of texting. Watson writes a blog about their adventures.  Subtle changes seem appropriate - like altering the original Holmes character’s need for a seven percent solution of cocaine during periods of intense boredom into a bad nicotine habit in the series.  

The ultimate Holmes adversary, Moriarty, plays a big part in the series as well, of course.  Solving one strange crime after another would get old pretty quickly without some sort of mastermind out there matching wits with Holmes and threatening civilization as we know it.

Sherlock is an extremely trendy show, an internet phenomenon, in fact.  It has taken on a life of its own and has become globally popular for what is, in fact, nothing more than a secondary project for everyone involved.  The main writers and producers are all involved with the Doctor Who program, which I stopped watching after my college days, but remains the longest running TV show in history.  Sherlock is played by Benedict Cumberbatch who has been in the second Star Trek movie among other projects.  Watson is portrayed by Martin Freeman of The Hobbit fame.

In fact, everyone was so busy doing their other projects that an extended period of time elapsed between the second series and the third series. They make a big deal about a "two year passage of time" in the first episode of the third season.  So, I guess Jennifer and I were fortunate.  The karma flowed perfectly for us.  We got interested in the show, binged it, and then enjoyed the PBS broadcast of the third season without missing a beat.  The only drawback is that the show is so satisfying that nine total episodes is not nearly enough.  We want more.  But Grey's Anatomy it is not.  We have to be patient for whenever whatever comes next.

But why is the show so enthralling for its fans? First of all, there is the healthy mix of the original turn of the twentieth century Doyle material with the turn of the twenty-first century material. Secondly, the style of the program features an interesting visual style.  Every time someone reads a text message on their phones you see the message pop up juxtaposed somewhere near the phone on the TV screen - and then it moves around as the actor's hand moves with the phone in it. When Sherlock intuitively "reads" a person you see what his mind sees; that is, dozens of words appear briefly on the screen as the character being read is shown in-camera, floating here and there, singular words that describe every aspect of the character.  Holmes is rarely wrong so you have to read fast if you want to catch it all.

Then there are "upgraded" aspects of Doyle like Sherlock's "mind palace".  This term is a clever invention of the new series but, like everything else, it is rooted in the original material.  (It is, in fact, a technique taught to anyone who has taken a Dale Carnegie Course.) Holmes withdrew into himself to make deductions and analyze situations.  This could be rather visually boring but in the new series the writers take it to a comic extreme. Sherlock simply shuts down and stares - sometimes for hours, leaving Watson and the other characters to go into action while Sherlock remains seemingly semi-comatose.  In later episodes the producers take you inside Sherlock's mind palace which can be somewhat disorienting in terms of following the narrative. But it quickly becomes part of the chase to solve whatever situation exists.  So, you go with the non-linear aspects of it because you get to experience the twisted ways Sherlock's brilliant mind works and uncover tidbits of critical information that might not be otherwise expressed.

The chemistry between Freeman and Cumberbatch is really special.  Watson spends most of the first series trying without success to convince other characters that he and Sherlock are not living together as lovers.  Funny but also twisted because the two characters do become close friends. It is wonderful to watch this evolve.  In episode 8, Watson gets married and asks Sherlock to be his best man. It is traditional in England for the best man to give a speech at the official reception following the vows ceremony. Cumberbatch's Sherlock delivers a long, long soliloquy that will put tears in your eyes one moment, while making you simultaneously laugh and be frustrated with his virtually emotionless character in the next.

It is a wonderful example of how, at times, all the Sherlock episodes stop and Cumberbatch takes over in a monologue worthy of Shakespeare.  In what can best be described as an ejaculation of thoughts, ideas, deductions, facts, details, and insights Sherlock shifts into hyper-talk mode and rushes through every aspect of whatever it is he happens to be explaining with pristine accuracy and completeness.  All his mind palace stuff has been stored up, arranged, organized, and comprehended.  It all comes out of his rapidly moving mouth with precision but you have to hold on to grasp even most of it because he hardly pauses to take a breath as the minutes tick by, Watson looking astonished in the earlier episodes, just accusing him of "showing off" in later episodes as newer characters stare at Holmes aghast with his seemingly magical ability to explain and solve crimes and other situations with exacting detail.  It is both a convincing job of acting and a terrific intellectual rush as all the seemingly disconnected pieces of of the puzzle are put in place, in a singular moment, which is usually punctuated in the end by the utter silence of those who just listened as the case is solved.

Sherlock, really taken on as a secondary, after-thought project by all involved, has now blossomed into an international hit.  It is wildly popular in the United Kingdom and Canada.  It has a solid, though certainly not mainstream, following in America. Jennifer and I picked the perfect time to get into it, to binge it, and it rewarded us by giving us a great subject for conversation and left both of us ready for more.  I hope we don't have to wait two more years for the next episode (though it looks like we might).  This is TV worth watching.  We will likely binge the nine episodes again at some point. After all, with a well-done and imaginatively relevant show about Sherlock Holmes, you can hardly say you caught everything the first time around.