Elementary-Modern Deduction


The adventures of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson are well-known to the world, but “Elementary” puts a modern spin on these complex tales. The familiar deduction wizard, portrayed perfectly by Jonny Lee Miller, is a recovering drug addict relocated to New York. Joan Watson portrays a fresh take on his trusted partner, as well as his addiction counselor. A hardworking NYPD captain and a loyal colleague detective round out the principle cast. The show balances heart, humor, and challenging mental and ethical puzzles. The show tactfully addresses Sherlock’s addiction without exploiting its dramatic value; rather it adds complexity and depth. In point of fact, one of the strengths of the show is the complexity, depth, and many relatable facets of each brilliant character. 9/10 for complex characters, engaging logic puzzles and ethical dilemmas, and wonderful multi-episode arcs. One point deducted for occasionally excessive gore. I wouldn’t recommend this show to anyone under age 15, bur adults will enjoy it immensely.

Thoughts from a College Girl 

Hi everyone!!! I am aware I haven’t posted in about two months and I apologize. I had a Rosetown show and work at Raising Canes. And this week marks Welcome Week at Bethel University in Arden Hills!!! To celebrate/apologize, here’s an extended metaphor describing my current mentality. College is like Skydiving-stepping off the solid surface out into nothing. Falling through the air with all the things swirling around me. But I’ve made some friends so they are kind of a home base. I’m learning how to navigate both the architectural and social labrinyths of the institution, and hourly grow more confident in my place in this wonderful community. I look forward to tremendous growth in all areas of my life. Let College begin!!! 

Wonder Woman-The Perfect Movie

Oh my….wow. OK so I recently saw this movie and it is officially my current favorite superhero movie of all time. The fact that it’s not Marvel makes me a little annoyed, but I can work with it. Where do I start? Let’s start with her upbringing. Diana was brought up as the princess of the Amazons, and she had no contact with men until she was about 25 or so. Her lack of knowledge of the rest of the world allows us to see our own everyday realities from a fresh perspective. Her companion Steve Trevor (played by the ever-lovely Chris Pine) is a true American hero, without once seeming contrived or stereotypical. The typical comic book archetype of a villain is turned on its head and viewers are left reeling in shock. And Diana’s kick-ass tribe of Amazonian ladies outdoes any and all modern “squads”. The best part of the movie is that Diana is allowed to be a strong and independent woman, regardless of the patriarchal society around her. Overall a strong action film for anyone who’s a comic nerd. Even if you don’t like action movies, this movie is a watershed moment in film, so go see it and bring as many people as you can.

Where Men Win Glory-A True American Hero

(I found this picture of Tillman online. He’s wearing his pro jersey for the Arizona Cardinals)

Jon Krakauer’s stunning biography Where Men Win Glory details the life and death of Pat Tillman, a nationally known NFL player who turned down a multimillion-dollar contract to serve in Afghanistan, a decision that ultimately cost him his life. The chapter arrangement is reminiscent of Steinbeck’s style in The Grapes of Wrath, alternating between Tillman’s life and chronicling the Afghan political turmoil that led to his untimely death in 2004. I honestly don’t care much for political history of any nation, but reading about the thoughtful, tough, sensitive, gentile giant named Pat Tillman, I wish I could have met him. I realize posthumous tributes are often written with rose-colored glasses, but Krakauer authentically paints a complex man who’s at once relatable and strange in his uniqueness. I’m not even done with the book yet and I can already give it a 9.5/10 for entertaining anecdotes, a relatable protagonist, and an emotional tribute. Half a point lost because the politics aren’t my cup of tea, but I respect the narrative structure. Even if you have no clue who Pat Tillman is, read this.

Blindspot-Personal Secrets

Blindspot centers on an amnesiac woman who wakes up in a bag in Times Square, her entire body covered in mysterious tattoos. Throughout two seasons, Jane Doe aids the FBI in taking down terrorists, and they help her find a life again. The show is fast-paced, full of plot twists and complex missions. The characters are complex and relatable-a standout is Kurt Weller (Sullivan Stapleton), the team leader with personal connections to Jane. Another interesting character is Ali Paterson (Ashley Johnson), the resident tech savant. The first season is amazing, unique, and emotional….and then the second season seems to have no direction whatsoever. Plot twists seem to appear out of nowhere and disappear just as quickly. The endgame, while inferrable, is murky and doesn’t inspire motivation to continue watching. Overall 8/10 for action, complex characters, and some genuinely good humor. Points lost for the lack of direction.

20th Century Women-It Takes a Village

I’m sorry for not posting on Wednesday and Friday. I’ll post a bonus review tomorrow and Thursday.

This brilliant movie set in 1979 but filmed in 2016 tells the story of a mother, a son, and the family they adopt. The team of five misfits all learn from each other in endearing and thoughtful ways. Annette Bening gives lonely single mother Dorothea a wonderful mix of grit and fear that causes her to enlist Abbie (Greta Gerwig) and Julie (Elle Fanning) to teach her son Jacob (newcomer Lucas Jade Zumann) about life. Abbie is a free spirit, as bold and gentle as her crimson pixie hair. Julie is a…strange and complex character. Her intent is to be a likable romantic lead, but she is manipulative and highly insecure. And Jacob is a lost 15-year old who initially rejects the help of his mother and new firiends, but eventually warms to them. There is a strong feminist/liberal theme throughout the movie which may put off some viewers, but the lessons about life, love, and the era are well-done and thought-provoking. 9/10 for well-developed characters, a peek into a unique time period, and a relatable young protagonist. A point lost for overdoing the liberal themes to an unnecessary degree.  

Langston Hughes-A Poet Appreciated

langston-hughesAlthough Langston Hughes was a key player of the Harlem Renaissance, he was greatly disliked and misunderstood by critics. He was born on February 1, 1902. His parents were divorced, and he was raised by his grandmother until age 13, when he moved in with his mother and stepfather. Throughout his life, he held many jobs, such as cook, busboy, and ship worker, and he traveled around the world. In  particular, he went to Europe and North Africa. Throughout his whole life, Langston Hughes never got married. There are quite a few theories about that, mainly that he was gay or asexual. There are some alleged clues in some of his poems. He died of problems related to prostate cancer on May 22, 1967.

His main influences were Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Carl Sandburg, and Walt Whitman. Unlike other African-American contemporary poets such as Claude McKay, Jean Toomer, and Countee Cullen, Hughes identified with other African-Americans, rather than focusing on his personal struggles. He co-wrote a play with African-American authoress Zora Neale Hurston called Mule Bone and an autobiography called The Big Sea. His poems mainly focused on the common life of African-Americans, and on the hustle and bustle of his main residence, Harlem NY. Some of Hughes’ well-known poems include “A Dream Deferred”, “The Weary Blues”, “Fine Clothes to the Jew” and “Mother to Son”.

 “Langston Hughes.” Poetry Foundation. Poetry Foundation, n.d. Web. 08 Mar. 2017. 

“Langston Hughes.” Poets.org. Academy of American Poets, 01 Aug. 2016. Web. 15 Mar. 2017.

Collateral Beauty

Ignore the horrible reviews. This movie is fantastic if you’re willing to put some thought into it. The modern retelling of the Dickens classic “A Christmas Carol” takes us on Howard’s journey (poignantly portrayed by Will Smith) from grief-stricken zombie to healing father. This journey is guided by three abstractions,  Love (Keira Knightly), Death (Helen Mirren), and Time (Jacob Latimore)  in human form. They feign relinquishing control to Howard’s coworkers Claire (Kate Winslet), Whit (Edward Norton), and Scott (Michael Pena), who they also aid through personal heartache. While Smith gives a heart-wrenching performance as a man struggling to find love and life again, Pena’s performance as a sick man denying the inevitable also stands out beautifully. But the best storyline in the film is Howard’s discovery of love. 10/10 for stellar cast, thoughtful exploration of human relationships,  and a beautiful reveal at the end. 

Stitchers-Dumb Detectives

Stitchers is a teen crime drama that only works as a comedy. The premise centers on using the “stitching” technology-inserting a living consciousness into the memories of the dead-to solve crimes. That might sound macabre, but it’s more sci-fi than horror. The protagonist Kirsten Clark is pretty much a sociopath, which is a great cover for her lack of acting ability.  The two lead males are Labradors in human form, and the inevitable romance between Kristen and Cameron is overly manipulated solely for ratings. The only bright spots are Camille, Kristen’s witty sidekick, and Maggie, the team leader who uses attitude for armor against her secrets. Similar to Alias, there’s more to the mission than meets the eye, although the specifics are fuzzy. The writers are fond of dangling clues and subplots and then not bringing them up again for weeks. 4/10 for an original angle, an interesting possible arc, and a few good laughs. Watch at your own risk.

Ode to Eliza Pinckney

**I would have posted this last night, but technology is finicky.. Enjoy! 

Eliza Lucas Pinckney was a new type of woman

For her male oriented era
With a brain that worked and good common sense
She was born in 1722
On the island Antigua, surrounded by ocean blue
Her dad was a colonel and her mom was ill
When the family moved from Antigua to South Carolina
South Carolina did prove to be finer
Mother got well and father was swell
On his plantation
Back to Antigua Dad was soon called again
To help with the fight in the war against Spain
Although the young lady was but 16
He left young Eliza in charge of the land
 The results of this choice turned out to be grand
Eliza was into experimentation
And her planting experiments affected the nation
She taught farm workers to read
And practiced the law
But her indigo experiments were most famous of all
Indigo was a dye used in fancy clothes
Exported to the British, it was demanded in droves
Colonel dad found a husband for young Eliza
But she refused, and she turnedout to be wiser
She married a 45-year old when she was 22
But age is just a number-comprende vous?
They had a girl and three sons, but one son died
The other two were war generals
And earned much pride
The family traveled to England for about five years
But malaria took Charles
Shortly after return
Charles had seven plantations
Eliza had three
Upon his death, Eliza had ten
But Eliza handled it with drive and grace
Continuing her indigo production
At an accelerated pace
Eliza lived until 1793
But her life is far outlasted by her legacy