Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap Day

I was going to take some photos of people leaping to celebrate this day, but there's no one around and it's snowing outside. Yes, we get one extra day this year, and it snows. Grrr.

But here's something even better: the website of this girl who takes photos of HERSELF leaping, or, as she says, levitating.

Here's one of the photos:

I don't know about you, but just looking at this photo makes me feel happy, powerful...and like I can fly.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Movie: The Movie

I DVR'ed this after the Oscars on Sunday (and watched it on Monday and again today).  It's absolutely hilarious. Enjoy!

(They've made it so the still you see before you press the button to start the film looks like it's a movie not everyone may want to see, but I assure you, it's all just good fun. That still is pure comedy and shows the most skin you'll see in the whole movie. Except Chewbacca's skin, or, I mean, his fur.)

(By the way, to answer Ellen's questions, yes, that was Jared, and, you were right, he was not at the Oscars but was attending a New Film Makers film festival.)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Fiction Friday: February 24, 2012: Downton Abbey Ends...For Now

Madame L loved the final episode of the second series of Downton Abbey, with the lighting of the huge Christmas tree and the romantic final scene in the snow.

(Don't worry, Madame  L won't spoil it by saying any more. But if you have to ask what romantic final scene she might be talking about, you haven't been watching it, have you, and so it won't matter.)

But here's the trailer for Season Two:

Here's a conversation with the entire cast about their characters:

And a short video with the scoop on the behind-the-scenes action:

The top ten moments with some people's favorite character, the Dowager Countess Violet Grantham, played by Maggie Smith:


Next season, we can look forward to Shirley MacLaine!

Oh, don't look at Madame L like that, Aunt Louise. You know you're going to love her. She'll be playing Martha Levinson, the mother of the American-born Lady Cora.

Obama Sings Again

I loved this!

You can also watch on PBS Buddy Guy, Jeff Beck, Gary Clark Jr., and Mick Jagger singing "Five Long Years" the same evening. 

I'm sure PBS will be posting the whole evening's show soon. I haven't found it on their website yet, but that same link for "Five Long Years" will give you links to some of the other excerpts.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Birdley's New Hideout

I fixed up a box for Birdley. He loves to go inside and srabble around, biting the cardboard to make the thing into a messy little nest, and then he just sits there with his face to the wall.

This is much safer for him than his old hideout.  

I first got him to check it out by scattering some of his food on the table top in front of the box.


Here he is inside, and then coming out to attack when he realized I was taking photos:















Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Chorus Frog in the Garage

It was raining, but I don't think that's why the chorus frog (they're also called tree frogs, scientific name Pseudacris regilla) hopped into the garage. I think it was just randomly hopping.


Anyway, I'm glad I saw it before I closed the garage door. Of course I had to take its picture before I put it back in the front yard, where it hopped away. 



Monday, February 20, 2012

50 Years Later

Today I'm thinking about John Glenn's 1962 orbital space flight in the Friendship 7, which happened 50 years ago today. 

To begin with, here's the launch, covered by Walter Cronkite at CBS News:


Here's a NASA film that covers more details:


Here's John Glenn talking about that flight:

Sunday, February 19, 2012

We've Received Your Nomination For Inclusion

I laughed out loud when I got this email message, with subject line: "We've Received Your Nomination For Inclusion."

At first I thought it was some Nigerian scam, but then I realized it was written by a good-ol' grown-at-home American scammer. These people, like the Nigerians, seem to have a shaky grasp of the English language.

I don't know why I get so worked up about it, but I really do think that everyone who writes anything in English should know better than to insert an apostrophe randomly in front of every "s" at the end of every word that ends in "s." Grrr. Here's the message:

Hi

Professional Who's Who

Distinguished Professionals

The Professional's Who's Who highlights and profiles the country's most accomplished men and women in over 200 industries and professions

The largest network of professional's in the United States


Still, I knew it was a scam. How did I know that? Because I'm not "one of the country's most accomplished men and women in over 200 industries and professions"!

I searched for "who's who" on Snopes.com, but they didn't have anything about this scam. However, I found by looking up "who's who" first without the quotation marks an incredible number of interesting stories, none of which I read, however, because, really, life's too short.

Try it, though, some lazy afternoon when you have nothing else to do. A quick scan of the titles of the many articles referenced this way shows you can find out who the real father of Bristol Palin's baby is, why it's not true that the Post Office is going to slap a 5-cent surcharge on every email message sent in the U.S., where the name of the mythical country of Oz came from, something about a liger named Harold...and on and on and on.

Elsewhere on the Web, I found lots of great stories about the "Who's Who" scam. "The Hall of Lame," from Forbes.com, is hilarious. This blog is apparently not meant to be hilarious, but I had to laugh, anyway. Most informative was, as I should have known, the Wikipedia page titled "Who's Who scam."

From other individuals who have received a message like the one I received I learned even more: Some of these scams are like vanity presses: You pay hundreds of dollars and you get a copy of a book with your name in it, and you can put on your resume that you've been included in the book. Many of them, though, are more like the Nigerian scam: The "publishers" just want your name, address, email address, and credit card numbers, and your Social Security number, if you're willing to give them that, too, all of which they make available to other companies and even to criminals.

Like most scams I've ever heard of, this one depends on the scammee (is that a great word, or what!) being greedy, whether for fame or money. Sorry, scammers. There are lots of things I want, but I have all the fame I want (i.e., none) and better ways of earning the money I need.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Fiction Friday: February 17, 2012: "Beauty and the Beast"

Madame L spent a wonderful Wednesday evening watching the national touring production of "Beauty and the Beast" with a five-year-old girl and her mom and another friend. (The other friend is also the mom of a five-year-old girl, but that girl refused to join Madame L and the others to see "Beauty and the Beast" because, she said, "It's too scary, Mom!")

Here's the schedule, in case it's coming to a venue near you.

And here's a scene from the Disney animated movie the stage show is based on:



Madame L hasn't seen the Disney movie, but she was aware (because as you know, Dear Aunt Louise and Other Readers, Madame L does not live under a rock) of some of the cute details like the furniture and utensils who are really humans. Madame L didn't know all the plot details until she saw them. And apparently, because Abby kept telling her mom this, the show isn't exactly like the movie. Abby also reassured us, during a very scary part, "It's not real."

Of course what Madame L and all of us love about the story, in all its variations, is that it IS real, at least in its portrayal of human vanity and cruelty, love and kindness, inner and outer beauty.

Some things Madame L loved about the staged musical: She loved that Belle's dad was an inventor on his way to show off his latest invention (though she couldn't tell from my balcony seat what that actually was---some kind of bicycle-powered something) when he got lost in the woods. Madame L loved the sets and scenery stagecraft, which were clever and inventive and evocative and just plain brilliant. And Madame L loved walking down with Abby and the two moms to see the orchestra pit before the show started.

(Abby's mom is going to lend Madame L her DVD of the movie so she can finally watch it and compare it with the staged version. Madame L is also going to read some of the other, older versions of the story.)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Hubble

Thank you to "Aunt LJ" for a magnificent Christmas present: the DVD "Hubble," with images shot with an IMAX 3-D camera.



You may think you've seen enough just by watching the trailer, but you haven't. Trust me. You have to see the whole thing. You have to see the astronauts training to repair the Hubble telescope, the actual process of making the repairs (imagine pulling out sharp circuit-boards, for instance, knowing that if you get a cut in your glove, you're dead), stars being created, and just a few of the billions of stars in our galaxies and others.

Wow, we loved this so much! It was beautiful, and we learned lots of new things. And watching it once is definitely not enough.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

"I Am a Child of God"

Whitney Houston told Diane Sawyer 10 years ago in an interview, "I know that I am a child of God, and God loves me."

In that same interview, her little girl told what she and her mommy do on Sunday mornings: have breakfast together and listen to gospel music.

I'm sorry that the world has lost this great spirit, and glad that she left us so much. We don't usually think of Valentine's Day to celebrate our love of country, but here she is singing "The Star-Spangled Banner" at the 1991 Super Bowl.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Our Self-Image And The Upcoming Generation

"I don't think there's enough surgery to fix low self-esteem," says the psychologist on Larry King Live (last clip below.)

But when girls and women grow up in a society with a culture that tells us we're nothing but sex objects, that presents images of "perfect" (photo-shopped and sexualized) women whom we can never emulate but are told we must look like, what are the odds that we'll come out liking ourselves the way we are?


This is the trailer for a documentary, "Miss Representation," which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2011 and was shown on Oprah's TV show. (I've just now heard of the movie, but "Aunt E" has blogged about this issue, and we're all aware of the problem. Even so-called family-friendly movies [think "The Little Mermaid" for just one example] show highly sexualized women and even little girls.)

Alice Walker said, "The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any." We can't wait for the culture to change itself, to let girls know they're as important as boys, they're full and complete without makeup, their weight isn't the most important thing about them, and so on.


Here are interviews with the director and others involved in the making of the movie:


Now, what if you were a young woman growing up with severe emotional abuse, in addition to this culturally imposed view of yourself as a weak sex object? What if your first "boyfriend" tells you that you're not pretty enough, your breasts aren't large enough, your lips aren't full enough, your eyebrows are not high enough, and so on? What if you hear nothing but criticisms of yourself for three years of your young life?

Then you might turn out like this poor woman, who is addicted to plastic surgery. I'm including this clip not so people can make fun of her or even feel sorry for her, but so people can see how beautiful she is (and was before the surgery) and what the psychologist says will help her.


The DVD "Miss Representation" isn't available for sale yet, but at the non-profit's website you can find where it's being screened or even arrange to screen it yourself. You can also make and post a video of yourself telling who you are and how you want the world to see you. If you want to get even more motivated, check out this blog entry, "Yoga Pants," by comedian Margaret Cho.

Journalist Marianne Schnall introduces the video by writing, in part:

"Last year around this time, when I was promoting my book Daring to Be Ourselves, I remember talking to a sales manager at a major bookstore chain, and she was telling me how the only type of books that they display during their “New Year, New You” campaign are exclusively around diet and exercise. So in other words, about altering how our physical bodies look.  Not to say that this isn’t a worthwhile goal, it’s good to exercise and it’s healthier to lose the excess weight. But usually the end goal in weight loss and fitness campaigns are toned abs and a supermodel physique, both unrealistic and pretty meaningless pursuits. Toned abs generally don’t bring inner happiness and fulfillment! So I propose a different kind of resolution and revolution this year, this time, an internal one. One in which rather than obsessing on all we think needs “fixing”, we make it our goal instead to celebrate those things we like about ourselves, and love and accept ourselves for who we are.  This means consciously steering clear of the media’s negative messages about what a woman’s body is supposed to look like or that urge us to be someone other than who we are. Genuine beauty comes from a feeling of happiness and sitting comfortably and confidently in our own skin, a glow you can only get from residing within your authentic self. Let’s resolve not to waste our time and energy beating ourselves up about all the things we think are wrong with us and our bodies, but instead to celebrate our uniqueness, the individual qualities that make us who we really are and what we personally have to bring to the world.

"We can still set all sorts of meaningful goals for ourselves, as long as we are sure that these are our goals, not ones imposed on us by others, the media or society, and will ultimately help us to achieve health, happiness, and inner fulfillment and empower us to contribute our unique special gifts into the world. Not only will we be happier individually, but the world will be a better place too." (Emphasis added)

As Margaret Cho says, "I don't want young girls to miss their life, because it goes by so fast..."

So, we can help ourselves and model this self-acceptance, this joy in being who we are and succeeding at important goals. And this way we can PASS IT ON to our literal and figurative daughters and granddaughters and all the girls we know.

This is now an overarching goal for me for 2012, "a different kind of resolution and revolution." I say "overarching" because I'll accomplish this goal by accomplishing several others: helping other people, completing projects that are important for me, being kind and compassionate, and so on. I still want to get to a healthier weight, too, but I'm not going to obsess over the fact that I'm never going to look like some model. In fact, I'm already starting to realize that there are many reasons why I don't want to look like that.

 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Gorillas!

Thanks to "Aunt N" for sending this link, a wonderful antidote to the creepy hand model:


And now, Stephen Fry going on a "gut-wrenching" trek to get to that same Bwindi Impenetrable Forest to see the wild mountain gorillas:


Look starting around 3:20 and continuing after that at the little baby climbing, and later sitting with its mother. Watching these animals even on a video online is amazing.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Creepy Hand Model

This is so hilarious. "Something that would be mundane for YOU would be disastrous for ME."

Friday, February 10, 2012

Fiction Friday: February 10, 2012: V is for Vengeance

For her thirty-eighth birthday, Kinsey Millhone ends up with a broken nose and two black eyes. The funny thing about that is she gets that punch in the face from a gangster who is trying to protect her from a lot of chaos and mayhem taking place in his warehouse as FBI agents and Santa Teresa cops raid the place.

Madame L loves the Sue Grafton "alphabet series" of murder mysteries, the flawed but courageous Kinsey Millhone, her friend/neighbor/landlord Henry and the hilariously English-slaughtering tavern owner Rosie.

You can go to Sue Grafton's website to fill in the details about Kinsey's life and what has led her to become a private investigator. But the author builds the information into the plot of each new book so you don't have to know Kinsey's whole history to enjoy the latest book.

Madame L, to keep with her new goal of buying fewer books and reading more library books, borrowed "V is for Vengeance" from her local public library. It wasn't on the shelf but the librarian found it for Madame L in some secret "just-returned" place in the basement. (By the way, Q, R, S, T, and U were on the shelf---about 10 copies of each---which shows how popular the series is. And the librarian assured Madame L that if she wanted any of the earlier books, the library could get them from another branch.)

The website includes Ms. Grafton's journal notes she kept as she was writing some of the books, which make for fascinating reading. For instance, in "G is for Gumshoe," we find out how she does the research that keeps the details in her books accurate and interesting. What kind of nursing home facility would someone be put in for rehab after a hospital stay? Could someone just walk in and ask for information about the person? What would such a facility be like? When would it have been built? What kind of Medicare and Medicaid (in this case, Medical) procedures would be in place?

Even details about the characters Ms. Grafton created are important, and are still being sorted out in the seventh (and later) books of the series. For example:

"I know Kinsey went to grade school in Santa Teresa. Maybe I'll have to tour the grade schools and see what they look like. I wonder what neighborhood she grew up in. Must think on that. And here's a question. When her aunt died, what happened to the house? Did her aunt own that? Does Kinsey own that now? She's never refered to it. Probably she had to sell it to pay off her aunt's last medical bills. Still, you'd think she'd drive by it...pause to look...reflect on her life there. Ruminate if the house has been knocked down and something built over it. I'd like that sort of thing, I think. Maybe she, like me, feels sorrow rising like gorge when she returns to the old neighborhood. I'd like to have the house gone now...archeological dig to uncover her childhood."

Ah, but back to the most recent book: Madame L hopes that Aunt Louise's Dear and Gracious Readers will read "V is for Vengeance" themselves, for free, by checking it out of their local libraries. It should be coming out soon in paperback, but why wait and then pay something like ten dollars when you can read it for free?

The book took about two years to write. Yikes! The book's events take place in a very short time. Kinsey is shopping in the lingerie section of an upscale department store when she realizes two of the other women checking out the undies and teddies are shoplifting. She gets store security, which catches one of them, and then she chases after the other one, who tries to run her over in the parking garage.

You don't have to have read any of the earlier books to enjoy this one, but if you'd like to try some of the others, Madame L thinks you'll enjoy them.

Happy reading,

Madame L

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Organic Cigarettes

I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. 

I'd just seen an ad in a magazine for totally organic, no-additive, healthy cigarettes, and it blew my mind. 


I know I'm irrational about what I eat and how I exercise and probably most of the things I do every day, but I'm trying to imagine who would think that smoking an organic cigarette would be in any way better for him/her than smoking a non-organic cigarette.

I Googled "organic cigarettes" and found some even more hilarious stuff. I seriously thought the ad below was a "true" ad, imploring environmentally conscious smokers (is this an oxymoron, or what?) to help Mother Earth even if they're not concerned enough about their own health to smoke organic cigarettes.

The pitch: Organic Cigarettes Prevent Global Warming. The proof:

And then this: "An environmentally conscious smoker does his part to make a difference once every twenty minutes." 

While I was cracking up, I kept reading, and finally got to this confession: "To avoid misunderstandings, seeing that there are so many greens that lack the most elementary sense of humor, this article is a joke from the beginning."
 
Well, that's a relief. So I decided to laugh.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Super Bowl Weekend

How I spent this weekend, starting with Friday evening and going through this moment on Sunday evening when I am writing this:

"Reflections"

Friday, Feb. 3, 2012: After jujitsu class, I went home and watched "Portlandia," which I had DVR'ed, and, finally, I saw some of my art work on the show. I've been waiting and DVR'ing and watching from the beginning of this season to see my work.

I'd submitted a bunch of photos last fall, with no idea whether any of them would be used and in fact kind of fearful that some of them might be used. So I was glad to see a couple of the photos I'd submitted in "Bad Art Good Walls," Episode 5, and was especially glad to see they were in the background, that they weren't, after all, among the compositions they made fun of...

(...Because they'd requested artwork that they were planning to make fun of, and I submitted the photos expecting exactly that. And, boy oh boy, you should have seen some of the stuff I submitted. But I have to admit that the ones they ended up making fun of were really funnier than mine. Though there was that amazing "work of art" I called "The Last Grasshopper," and I just don't know why they didn't use it. No, really, it was pretty funny.)

"The Last Grasshopper"
Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012: I made my super-duper-cheesy-eggy-pepper-comfort-food muffins* for the amphibian training, helped set up for the training, attended the first half hour of the training, and went home so I could go with Jason to our jujitsu class at Clark College. After I'd helped set up and while I was waiting for the training to start, I made some notes about the specific concepts we would teach and techniques we would have our students practice in the jujitsu class.

*Still working on this recipe, trying it out on unsuspecting groups like the amphibian people, and it's close to perfect. When it's perfected, I'll post the recipe here...

The jujitsu class went well. We warmed up with forward and backward rolls and falls, reviewed the escape techniques we'd practiced in the first two classes, and taught some new ones. I led a discussion about "The Gift of Fear": why and how we have to protect ourselves. And then Jason and I taught and practiced some new techniques with assistance from one of our amazing students from our Friday night class.

When we got home, Jason had to go straight to a meeting and I spent some time with Birdley and Piper and took a nap. When he got back from the meeting we went grocery shopping.

And then in the evening we went to the Brigham Young University-University of Portland basketball game. That was fun---especially since BYU won, 79-60. What was amazing was that the Portland Pilots out-shot BYU, making three more field goals and three more three-pointers, but the Cougars beat the Pilots by making 38 out of 53 free shots. (!)

Oh, yeah, another amazing thing: There appeared to be more BYU fans in the gym than Portland fans. At least the BYU fans were much louder.

And one really funny thing: Some lady behind us who I'm guessing was a BYU cheerleader at some time in her past led cheer after cheer, including this one, when one of the Portland players fouled out and was walking back to the bench: "Left, Right, Left, Right, Left, Right, LEFT, RIGHT, LEFT, RIGHT, SIDDOWN!"

Finally, Sunday, Feb. 5, 2012: Super Bowl Sunday. Also Fast Sunday. I can't fast but I do my best imitation of it on these days. Since we're on an afternoon meeting schedule now and I'm not teaching any classes, I relaxed in the morning. I had plenty of time to get some food in the oven on time-bake and get myself ready and actually get to church before the meeting started. (This didn't happen more Sundays than not when we were on the morning schedule.) I also set up the TV to DVR the Super Bowl. As always, I didn't care about the game but wanted to watch some of the commercials, especially the Doritos commercials.

I enjoyed our testimony meeting and got home in time to watch the last two minutes of the first half of the Super Bowl and then watch Madonna begin to make a total fool of herself in the halftime show. I turned it off before it was even over. Boring!

Jason got home around 5:30, much later than me because he had to stay at the church, and we ate together. We fast-forwarded through the whole Super Bowl in about 5 minutes, stopping for one Doritos commercial and for the first 10 seconds of Madonna so he could see how idiotic and disgusting it was. He begged me to turn the whole thing off at that point. But I kept fast-forwarding at 4X until we got to the end and saw the final score: The Giants beat the Patriots 21–17. Big whoop.

While we might have been watching the game, if we'd cared about it, we had a chance to talk on the phone to some of our kids, and thank you for calling! It was so much fun to talk to you! (By the way, I found that book, so don't worry about it.) 

(And thanks Ellen for that suggestion of the Enola Holmes books, which I'll get from the library. I finally broke down and got a replacement library card, which I'm using like crazy, and don't know why I didn't just do that years ago when I first lost the old one, because it's so much fun to go to the library!)

(Which reminds me: I've been reading two biographies of Charles Dickens, courtesy of the local public library, in order to learn more about his connection to our family a few generations back, and I'll be commenting on Dickens and his various biographers and his sad young life and mixed-up adult life and a little bit more about his writing, soon. Madame L by the way was gratified to learn that she isn't the only English major on earth who has trouble reading Dickens, as even some so-called important literary critics have complained about some of his writing. So there.)

(I also read two other books this weekend, courtesy of the local public library, and I'll be writing about them soon, too.)

And then I realized I never even had to DVR the game, because the NFL kindly posted all the commercials online.

 So that was my big weekend.

I mean, what's wrong with this photo? ("Sand Still Life With Beach Debris") Not pretentious enough? Not mundane enough? Not boring enough? What?!?

"Still Life With Bird" (With Birdley! I think I may have decided not to submit this one after all, because I didn't take the photo as a joke and I would hate to have Portlandia-watchers make fun of my sweet little Mister Birdley.)

Friday, February 3, 2012

Fiction Friday: February 3, 2012: BBC's New Sherlock Holmes

Madame L would like to point out that Aunt Louise's teacher Ms. Whitcomb isn't the only person re-writing the classics, and you don't have to live in Portland to enjoy one of the most brilliant re-writes Madame L has ever enjoyed: BBC One's "Sherlock," which you can watch on your local public TV station.

Writers Mark Gatiss and the brilliant Steven Moffat (the writer and producer of many of the recent episodes of "Doctor Who") turn Conan Doyle's characters Sherlock Holmes and his assistant Dr. John Watson into believable and realistic modern men.

So Sherlock is, like the original, smarter than the police, who begrudgingly use his services when they have to (which is on every case that isn't completely straightforward) and accuse him to his face of being a psychopath. (His response: "Oh, come on. I'm a high-functioning sociopath.")

And Dr. Watson is a returned veteran of the Afghan war, limping and using a cane partly because he isn't dealing with civilian life very well and is, as Sherlock points out, somewhat psychosomatic. It's amusing to see how he gets into the spirit of working with Sherlock, eventually forgetting about his cane and doing just fine without it.

And, being modern men, they live in a very real and modern London. Sherlock of course knows every street and is observant of details most people don't see. He doesn't know who the current Prime Minister is, though, and apparently doesn't know that the planets revolve around the sun---because that's not something he needs to know in order to solve his cases. But he does have a website, "The Science of Deduction." From the front page of Sherlock's website:

"I'm Sherlock Holmes, the world's only consulting detective.
"I'm not going to go into detail about how I do what I do because chances are you wouldn't understand. If you've got a problem that you want me to solve, then contact me. Interesting cases only please.
This is what I do:
  • 1. I observe everything.
  • 2. From what I observe, I deduce everything.
  • 3. When I've eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how mad it might seem, must be the truth.
"If you need assistance, contact me and we'll discuss its potential."


And Watson keeps a blog, which even has the usual blog "About me" section: "I am an experienced medical doctor recently returned from Afghanistan."

The series begins with "A Study in Pink," in which the police are stumped by some serial suicides.  Right, you're thinking. You don't have to be Sherlock to be skeptical of the very idea of serial suicides.  But you do have to be Sherlock to figure out how to catch the killer and then to risk your life in a confrontation with him. And you do have to be the brave, practical, and resourceful Watson to realize Sherlock's in trouble, find him, and save him---and get away with it.

Sherlock is played by Benedict Cumberbatch, whom you've probably seen in some other BBC productions; and Dr. John Watson by Martin Freeman, whom you can expect to see playing Bilbo Baggins in "The Hobbit."  You'll also meet Sherlock's brother Mycroft, his landlady ("landlady, not housekeeper!") Mrs. Hudson, his frenemy Detective Inspector Lestrade, and his wannabe love interest Molly Hooper; and you'll watch him first find out about his arch-nemesis, Moriarty. The game is afoot!

Madame L hopes you'll watch the upcoming episodes "The Blind Banker" and "The Great Game" on "Masterpiece Mystery!" on your local public TV station.

Madame L isn't providing links because she doesn't know what stations all her Dear Readers watch. But here is Sherlock's Facebook page.

And Madame L is wondering how successful the American imitation of the BBC's Sherlock could possibly be. It's going to be called "Elementary," and BBC officials are supposedly angry about it. Madame L doesn't blame them one bit.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Free Days at National Parks

The National Park Service is doing it again in 2012: making some days, weekends, and even one whole week, free for everyone. You may have missed, like I did, the MLK Jr. holiday weekend, but there are four more coming up.

These free times are:

April 21-29
(National Park Week)
June 9
(Get Outdoors Day)
September 29
(National Public Lands Day)
November 10-12
(Veterans Day weekend)

Some national parks are free all the time. In fact, only 100 usually charge fees.  You can get a yearly pass that will let you into any of the usually-fee-charging parks for free; or, if you're 62 years or older, you can get a $10 lifetime pass that will let you (and whoever else is in your car with you) in free for the rest of your life. I'm going to try to get to a national park this year, whether I can get in for free or not.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Ferris Bueller Redux


"How can I handle work on a day like today?"

Okay, it's just a Super Bowl commercial; no word yet about any possible new movie. But what fun!