How’d he do it? You’ll soon know.

It’s the question that has been burning in the mind of every Sherlock fan for the last two years.  Yes, two years.  And the answer is only a day away.

For those who don’t watch Sherlock, I’m not sure how to explain what the show does to you.  Is it perfect?  No.  One episode in particular made me quite uncomfortable, and as a result I don’t recommend it wholesale to everyone I meet.  I haven’t been impressed by every episode and every storyline – in fact, I was pretty disappointed by the Hounds of the Baskerville episode.

But somehow that doesn’t matter.  The show has gotten under my skin and I can honestly say I love it.  Perhaps more accurately — the characters have gotten under my skin.  And I love them.

Perhaps fans of Sherlock could quench their anticipation by watching Elementary on CBS. But we all soon found ourselves just thirstier for Sherlock.  The characters of Elementary may bear the same names or occupations of their precursors on the pages of Arthur Conan Doyle (with some slight revisions), but they are just shadows.  In contrast, the way Sherlock is written transforms Cumberbatch and Freeman into Sherlock and Watson in such a way that if I believed in reincarnation (and if we were talking about reality here, not fiction), I would present them as exhibit A.

The brilliant winks and nods to the stories, often overlooked by anyone who is less than obsessed with the original stories, complete the artistry of the show.  It reminds me of those careful details on top of the skyscrapers of New York — designed and executed for the art of it, for the pleasure of the artist, even if no one ever notices them.

Perhaps those used to shows like Foyle’s War or stories from Agatha Christie where every little detail is connected, every character woven together to come to a brilliant conclusion, will be disappointed by some of the strange twists and solutions Sherlock seems to stumble upon rather than unweave. But if you read the original Sherlock Holmes , you’ll find the show just takes its cue from the books.

One episode dragged on and on, getting more obscure and unbelievable.  A Chinese circus?  What the heck?  But the randomness and drawn-out nature is not too unlike Doyle’s A Study in Scarlet, which takes the reader to America and follows a seemingly random storyline with Mormons before connecting all the dots.

All of this to say… I couldn’t come on the blog and urge everyone to watch Sherlock tomorrow night like I want to — if you haven’t become involved up until now, the episode’s brilliance will be lost on you. But for those of you who have been waiting for two years, under the spell of Cumberbatch and Freeman, you will be justly rewarded.

I’ve already seen all three episodes, partly due to my impatience but most of all due to my hatred for spoilers.  I’ve waited and wondered for two years how Sherlock Holmes survives his fall; I wasn’t about to find out accidentally thanks to the internet.   I can honestly say this season is my favorite.  Yes, this episode completely panders to those of us who have fallen in love with the show — especially pandering to those obsessed with the show.  But the character development is fantastic, and I finally began to see the another side of Sherlock Holmes – one I questioned in a previous blog post — the more likable side.  Is he still eccentric, rude, and seemingly unaware of human nature?  Yes… but in a much more likable way, more similar to the figure I’ve grown to love in the pages of Arthur Conan Doyle.

So for those of you who already watch the show… enjoy tomorrow night.  We’ve earned this.

If that music makes you excited… yeah, I know how you feel.

Ever heard of Mary Martin?

There were things that irked me about the live Sound of Music tonight.  But if we’re going to critique, let’s complain about the right things.  It was cracking me up to see how many people were upset about the “new” songs, the “changes,” and the way NBC “messed” with the movie.

Newsflash… there was A Sound of Music before Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer.  What America watched live tonight was the stage musical, not the film.  (Although they did end up using Something Good, which surprised me … that was a song written for the film.)

Yes, the mountains looked fake.  This wasn’t a movie — this was a live stage production.

Critique away.  But at least know your facts before you waste oxygen (or internet space) on your rants.

Waiting for Downton

Tonight was Theology on Tap, and it was a smashing success.  Well, it was if you consider we had over 70 people and a fantastic speaker.  If you consider that we ran out of room, maybe it was less of a success.  But we rolled with the punches.

Next month I’m speaking on the Art of Waiting.

And in that vein, I thought I’d post the new teaser that PBS released introducing the new characters of Season 4 of Downton Abbey.  It’s kind of funny to think that these are all new characters for you all… because I just spent the last two months with them. Speaking of the art of waiting…. ahem.

It’s just that I hate, hate, hate spoilers, and I know that if I waited until January, I would know way too much about the season.  So I had to imbibe early.  There’s still one episode left — the Christmas episode — and then just when I’m sad it’s over, I can rewatch it all with America!

PBS & Piracy

*This post contains NO SPOILERS about Season 3 of Downton Abbey. Don’t worry.

I’d just like to go on the record (along with Lord Grantham himself) to complain about what American fans of British television series have to endure because of the quirks of PBS.  Shortened episodes of Foyle’s War and airing delays of Downton Abbey leave me with mixed feelings towards the Public Broadcasting System.

I love the fact that thanks to Masterpiece Classic, Masterpiece Mystery, et al, we can enjoy the (usually superior) British miniseries and movies, like The 39 Steps, Sherlock, or Zen.

But delaying the airing of Downton Abbey is just crazy.  Gone are the days when we could expect spoilers not to be leaked across oceans.  We live in a different world than the 1990s, when the Europeans could watch our television series and choose to be happily ignorant of things that we had known for months.  And vice versa.  As far as communication is concerned, there is no ocean between the two continents.  As soon as something airs on television, blog posts and Twitter updates abound.

It’s nearly impossible to avoid spoilers regarding major plot lines, especially when things like Wikipedia are updated the second something happens in the world.  And it seems pretty unfair to demand an entire nation of viewers remain tight-lipped about a popular show just because our television network has chosen to hold the shows for several months.

If you don’t want to know anything about the newest season, you have to avoid the internet completely.  Even press releases from ITV aren’t safe.

Or… you can watch Season 3 “early.”  Rather than stumbling upon some spoiler before January, you can watch it in the Fall and be surprised as the drama unfolds.  Is it wrong to watch the episodes of DA when they’re posted on their Facebook page and they’re available for all to see?  What about using sites like expatshield or tunnelbear, which seem to be perfectly legitimate?

Last fall I was reading a caption on a picture of the girls from DA and saw that Lavinia died.  I didn’t even know who Lavinia was at the time, but I knew she wouldn’t get out of Season 2 alive.  It made portions of Season 2 a bit anti-climatic.

And if there’s anything I hate, it’s knowing the end of a story before its time.  I read series of books in order. I watch television series in order.  I like plots unfolding naturally.

Well, readers?  Thoughts?  Is it wrong to watch Season 3 with Downton Abbey’s natives or should we wait and watch it according to the whims of PBS?

The Great Food Truck Race

The last week has seen many adventures, but I can only post about so many things at once!  Last weekend was full of friends and a wedding and the beach.  This weekend (so far) has been full of food.

I was on the hunt for food trucks.  And not just any food trucks.  Food trucks from the Food Network show “The Great Food Truck Race.”

I had watched parts of both previous seasons, so I knew the basics of what was going down when I saw on Twitter that the Food Network was coming to Nashville.

In short, a number of trucks start on the West Coast.  They make their way across the country, selling in different cities, and the truck that makes the least amount of money doesn’t get to go to the next city.   In addition to selling, in each city Tyler Florence gives the teams some sort of challenge, and the winner of the challenge gets some advantage in the sales (a head start, extra money for groceries, etc).  At some point in the two days of sales in the city, Tyler also calls them with a “speed bump” – something crazy they have to do that may make or break the weekend — they can only sell vegan items or they have to sell everything for a dollar, etc.

I didn’t have visions of grandeur — getting on television, bumping into Tyler Florence, etc — but I did want to try the fare from the trucks if possible.

The key to food truck success is mastering social media.  While the four food trucks still in the competition can’t tweet (I assume they can’t, since they don’t), everyone else can.  And there were plenty of tweets floating around the past few days with the hashtag “greatfoodtruckrace” or “gftr”.

My friends and I were going to an event last night called “Brew at the Zoo” (more about that later), and we thought maybe the winners of the challenge would be there– that would be a great advantage, selling to a hungry captive (drinking) audience.  But no such luck.

They were supposed to be at one of the farmer’s markets this morning, so I headed out to buy some vegetables and see if I could run into them there.  No go.

They were rumored to be the food truck gathering that occurs every Saturday and Sunday in a local park.  So I headed there for lunch.  Nope.

But while I was there, I decided to get lunch at one of the local trucks that was there- Wrappers Delight.  I got a Grilled Chicken Caesar wrap that was fantastic.  So it wasn’t a wasted trip.

It seemed that the trucks had disappeared.  There were reports of two of them going to a small town south of here, but other than that, Twitter was relatively silent.  Later in the afternoon, there were reports that the Korean BBQ truck was going to show up in East Nashville.  That’s a bit of a trek for me, but I thought it would be worth it if I could find some friends to go with me.  Then reports came that a second truck, an Italian one, was going to be nearby as well.

Everyone was busy, so I was debating about going alone… knowing I’d probably regret it if I didn’t go at all.

Then my friend Manda texted that she was getting out of work early!  My dear friend Manda, who loves restaurants and eating as much as me, who agrees with me that we need to start a Nashville food blog, who was the first person I thought of when I was looking for a companion for this adventure.

So we set out, along with our friend Andrea, on the hunt to find the Food Network.

We saw the Italian truck first — Nonna’s Kitchenette – it had no line and the girl working the window called out to us.  But it looked like they were offering a good dessert, so we decided to check out the Korean BBQ truck for dinner and return to  Nonna’s for dessert.

Down the street was some sort of festival with music and beer, and the Korean BBQ truck — Seoul Sausage — was in a prime location.  We had to wait in line for awhile, but we were hoping it would be worth it.

I got the “Flaming Fried Balls,” which were balls of spicy pork, rice, cheese, and a kimchi garlic jalapeno aioli.  I was worried about it being too spicy for me, so I got a strawberry lemonade too.

The strawberry lemonade was definitely a rip-off — for $3, it was basically colored water.  There was a vague taste of strawberry, but little to no taste of lemonade.  It made me wish the competition wasn’t just based on sales but was also based on reviews, because they would definitely get a thumbs down on that.

But luckily, the fried rice balls made up for it.  They had a bit of a kick, but not what I was expecting at all.  They reminded me of Roman supplia great little snack you can find at many pizzerie in Rome.  They were a bit overpriced, but I was expecting all the food trucks to be a bit pricey since the competition was based on profit.

Manda also got a “K-Pop Star,” which was a Cherry Coke float with pop rocks.  She loved it.  Before he put the pop rocks in, she stirred it around, so the whole thing started to overflow– during that hilarity, I noticed the boom microphone for the first time.  I saw the camera just after that, so hopefully the whole thing was captured on film and will make it into the show. : )

It was fun to talk to him — he was hilarious — so it’ll be neat to see him on the show.

Here are the flaming fried balls:

The aioli was awesome.  I may have scraped the extra off the cardboard with my finger.

Andrea had the East Side Korean BBQ burger and said it was fantastic.

They interviewed a girl that ordered right in front of us and a cute family behind us.  The Food Network lady did ask Manda how she heard about the truck, and she gave me credit – and then when the lady asked me, I told her I had followed the race on Twitter.  Apparently that wasn’t exciting enough to merit an interview.  I do wish I could have told her the lemonade wasn’t good.

We decided to head over to Nonna’s Kitchenette for dessert.  They didn’t have much of a crowd, so we walked right up to the window and ordered.   Manda and I both got the Italian waffle cookie ice cream sandwich.  Doesn’t that sound incredible?

Unfortunately, it was overpriced and badly executed.  The “waffle cookies,” which were essentially pizzelles, were really delicious. But it was impossible to eat.   I was glad the cameras weren’t on us while I ate it, because I essentially just had to force it into my mouth and get it all over my face, while it dripped and fell on my shoe.

Yummy… but it would have been far yummier if I could have had it in a bowl with a spoon — and maybe some Nutella spread on top?

We stood around a little after eating, because Manda was telling me a story, and the cameras filmed us standing there for awhile.  They were parked in a pretty lousy location (a gas station parking lot, down the street from the main buzz of the festival), so they weren’t getting any foot traffic other than the people who went to find them because of Twitter.  Of course, that’s a huge part of the food truck network, which is why judging their success solely on profit isn’t such a bad idea.  Food trucks depend on social networking.  Seoul Sausage not only had a good location, they were mentioned all over Twitter all afternoon.  One of the trucks was never mentioned — I still don’t know where they were today, and I was following them all pretty closely.  So in my mind, it’s pretty clear who is going home and who is winning.

I just saw on Twitter that these food trucks aren’t allowed in metro parks — which explains why I struck out so often this morning.  That seems odd to me, but they are working on statutes for food trucks in the city right now, so that might be part of it.  It’ll be interesting to see where they end up tomorrow.  There are so many better places to be than a gas station parking lot in East Nashville.

The lady with the orange purse placed a large order to go (luckily, she ordered the meatball sliders and not the ice cream sandwiches), so it created a bit of “drama” for the cameras.  Hence the close up shot of the girls discussing this large order.

I’m really happy we went — I’m really glad that Manda was up for the adventure, and that Andrea came along too!  I wish the other trucks the best — Mamma’s Grizzlies was downtown tonight, so hopefully they found some crowds.  And Pop a Waffle was nowhere to be found.  So unless the “speed bump” (which Twitter says will occur tomorrow) throws a wrench in Seoul Sausage’s success, I think there’s already a clear cut winner this weekend.

Gray hats

I recently watched the first season of the BBC series “Sherlock,” a modern-take on the Arthur Conan Doyle stories.  (Two disclaimers – I have not seen season two of the series, but wouldn’t recommend it based on a few things I’ve heard, and I’ve never seen the Robert Downey, Jr movies, so I don’t know how they compare.)  I found the series highly entertaining, especially for avid Holmes fans, who will notice many clever tributes to the original stories.  It was intriguing to see how the writers adapted not just the characters (Watson, for example, was wounded in modern Afghanistan, just as the Doyle has him wounded there in the Second Anglo-Afghan War, but he blogs about Holmes’ escapades instead of publishing them) but also the small details of the cases (Holmes surmises someone is an alcoholic — not because their pocketwatch is scratched where an unsteady hand wound it every night, but because their cell phone is scratched where an unsteady hand plugged it into the charger).  While the homosexual jokes got old, I found the three episodes, on the whole, quite enjoyable.

They did inspire me to re-read the original stories, something I haven’t done yet but hope to soon.  One thing I’d like to investigate are the character traits of Holmes. In the BBC series, he is odd, rude, and conceited.  Was he always like this?  Did I just manage to look the other way?  I always really liked Sherlock Holmes… was I blind to his personality?  How much of this Holmes was the product of the writers’ interpretation and how much was authentic?

By the third episode, my hero was no hero at all.  He saved lives and outsmarted criminals and his eccentricity was strangely charismatic.  He had grown on me.  But a man in a white hat, he was not.  And then he admitted himself:

“Don’t make people into heroes, John. Heroes don’t exist and if they did I wouldn’t be one of them.”

How depressing.

That led me to ponder the rise of the antihero.  I remember reading an article after the release of Spiderman 2 that bemoaned that fact that even our superheroes had become melodramatic and fickle.  Peter Parker was going emo on us, wondering if he should still be Spiderman.  Superman Returns gave us another emo superhero that lacked a little super and that almost lost Lois to James Marsden.  What was the world coming to?

It’s nothing new, of course – antiheroes have been with us in literature for quite some time.  But these days they seem to dominate the landscape.  The larger-than-life, white-hat-wearing heroes seem almost non-existent in television and movies, and coupled with the fact that they seem less prevalent in real life, too, the antihero seems to be the best we can do.

I know some will say it’s art imitating life.  We live in a fallen world, and it’s not realistic to have sinless, irreproachable characters.

But golly, can’t we have something to strive for?  Maybe every father isn’t Ward Cleaver.  But every father isn’t Al Bundy, either.  I think our lives could use a little more Mr. Cunningham and Dr. Huxtable. (This is an interesting look at the way television father’s have changed since the days of Mr. Cleaver: Ten TV Dads, chronologically)

What’s wrong with holding someone up as a model – a hero-  someone we can really emulate?  When my favorite character from a current BBC show fell last Sunday, I almost threw something at the television.  Until now, he had been strong, wise, and loving while his world was at war (literally).  He had shown compassion to servants, love to his wife, constancy amidst strife, humor and patience with the six women in his life.  He seemed to be the rock, the one who held the world together.

But he’s only human, the show’s creators seemed to want to show us.

Oh, so it’s too much to expect all that from a man?  Strength, love, wisdom, constancy, compassion, humor, patience.  That’s not realistic?

What a sad view of the world.

Bring back the white hat, and maybe some men will rise up to be worthy of it.

Redneck First-World Problem

My friend Liza has this hilarious quip when she has a complaint that can hardly constitute a real complaint if you stop to think about how lucky we all are.  For example, if you have trouble scheduling your pedicure appointment, or if your iPad has trouble keeping a charge, she quips, “I know, first-world problem.”

Well, tonight I have a redneck first world problem.

Coverage of the Bristol night race has been bumped by a dumb NFL exhibition game! ARGH!

Do I blame ABC?  Or do I blame every single Titans football fan?

This is the Bristol night race, people!

ARGH!

Now, I realize that our country is currently suffering from a natural disaster.  So it hardly seems fair to complain that I can’t watch my NASCAR race.

But I’m still doing it.

UPDATE: Hey, this was my 200th post.  Exciting!  And I used it on a first-world rant.  About Nascar.