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The Adventure of the Norwood BuilderThe Adventure of the Norwood Builder

I’ll fake my own death! That’s a way to get away from my problems. Yup. It will work, flawlessly. There won’t be any problems at all. Everything will go off without a hitch. That’s rarely how it turns out. Am I right? Of course I am.

This story is set somewhat in the future, well, not our future; it’s just a jump ahead as compared to some of the other stories. John has quit being a doctor and lives with Sherlock again at Baker Street. John does not say why this is. Sherlock is lamenting the fact that there isn’t any good crime anymore since Moriarty is gone. Everything is boring now. Boring. Boring. Boring. Sherlock even arranges for a distant relative of his to buy John’s practice so John can stay at Baker Street full-time to entertain Sherlock.

Sherlock is complaining about how boring everything is when a man suddenly rushes into Baker Street. He says his name is John Hector McFarlane, but Sherlock has no idea who he is, even with his Rolodex of people. He asks John Hector to explain himself. John Hector says that Sherlock needs to hear his story otherwise he’s going to be arrested for murder, the murder of Jonas Oldacre, a builder from Norwood. John Hector is a solicitor, which is kind of like being a lawyer; he handles a lot of legal paperwork.

John Hector has brought the newspaper with him. The newspaper has an article about the murder of Jonas Oldacre. Jonas was well-known in the community. At his house was found the walking stick belonging to John Hector McFarlane, some blood on the wall, an open French window, a hole in the hedge where someone was dragged through, and some charred organic remains in a wood pile. The housekeeper didn’t hear anything weird going on, but came out of her room at an alarm of fire. It is assumed that John Hector McFarlane murdered Jonas because his walking stick was at the scene of the crime. Indeed, there is a warrant out for John Hector’s arrest.

Sherlock asks John Hector why he hasn’t been arrested yet. John Hector says it’s because he actually lived in Blackheath with his parents and only went to Norwood at the request of Jonas.

Lestrade shows up, ready to arrest John Hector, but Sherlock says thirty minutes one way or the other won’t matter to Lestrade and John Hector should be able to finish his side of the story. John Hector says that Jonas Oldacre was somewhat familiar to him as he had some association with his family, but was not a close friend. Oldacre had asked that John Hector prepare his will for him. He asked that John Hector come to his house in Norwood. John Hector agreed to all of this and showed up at Norwood. There he found Jonas quite alive. He handed John Hector his will, which happened to be quite sloppily written, and John Hector began to copy it. He discovered that Jonas had left everything to him. Jonas asked John Hector not to breathe a word of this to his parents. He wanted it to be a surprise. Jonas said he had always admired John Hector and he didn’t have anyone else to leave his earthly holdings to. He says there is much more, even some land and such.

John Hector works for some time, but leaves. He remembers that he has laid his walking stick down somewhere, but Jonas tells him not to worry and that he will get the walking stick back to John Hector. The next morning, before he has time to do anything, John Hector hears about the murder of Jonas and knows he will be blamed because he was the last one who saw Jonas alive. The housekeeper had already gone to bed. John Hector immediately went to Sherlock to state his case.

Unfortunately, Lestrade has to take John Hector away because there is no evidence to the contrary. Sherlock sets out immediately to Blackheath and not Norwood. At Blackheath Sherlock speaks to John Hector’s parents. It turns out they hate Jonas Oldacre, especially John Hector’s mother. Jonas had been an old suitor of Mrs. McFarlane. She decided she didn’t want to marry him because he was a jerk. She said her son is innocent, but Sherlock sees that her dislike is more than enough motivation for a son to murder someone. Sherlock then goes to Norwood, where the housekeeper is quite tight-lipped. She knows something. The only odd thing he finds is that Jonas Oldacre wrote a considerable amount of checks to a man who seems not to exist and that there are actually no deeds of any property in the safe belonging to Jonas.

Sherlock goes back to Baker Street somewhat defeated. He knows there is more evidence, but he hasn’t come upon it. He fears that he may not be able to get John Hector off the murder charge. Lestrade shows up a bit later and says there has been new evidence. He says they’ve found a fingerprint of John Hector’s with blood on it at the crime scene. Sherlock goes to have a look. There is a fingerprint there. Sherlock knows that no two thumbprints are alike, and the thumbprints do match up, but the thumbprint is in a place where a person would expect there to be a thumbprint and the thumbprint could have very easily been obtained from sealing wax. Sherlock declares the Lestrade that the thumbprint had not been there the day before. He says he examined everything very carefully. Sherlock then looks over the entire house.

He then says that he needs buckets, some straw, and some loud men. Lestrade caters to Sherlock’s fancy and they are soon standing in a hallway with bales of straw. Sherlock instructs John to light the bales of straw. He does so. Sherlock then tells Lestrade’s loud men to yell fire. They do. They yell fire a couple of times and a strange man comes running. He comes out of a door that didn’t seem to be there earlier. The man is none other than Jonas Oldacre. The fire is put out. Jonas says this was all a prank.

Sherlock says that it was not a prank. Jonas had considerable debts and was trying to get away from them. What better way to do so than to fake his own death and then blame it on the only child of a former lover? The checks he wrote would have been to himself. He was planning on assuming another identity. He planted the thumb print on the wall himself from an impression made upon some sealing wax in all the financial papers. John Hector is able to go free and Oldacre goes to jail.

The Adventure of the Norwood BuilderObservations

You will notice that the forensics got a little more sophisticated in this story. We hadn’t really seen any forensics before this point, well, we have, but they haven’t been anywhere near as complicated. This story is really the first usage of modern-day forensic methods we have encountered in the Sherlock stories. Sure, Sherlock was able to figure out that a man was hit on the back of the head, but he had never before used thumbprints.

Fingerprinting, or looking for fingerprints, is called dactyloscopy. For years, we’re talking over a thousand years, people have used fingerprints as a signature. Ancient potters would put their thumb print on their pots as their signature. Illiterate people were allowed to use a thumb print instead of a signature. In some cases finger prints have been collected when people were arrested, but no one knew that fingerprints were unique until some time later.

It wasn’t until the 1700s and 1800s that people started to learn that fingerprints were unique. It wasn’t until Bertillon, remember him, that it was suggested that fingerprinting be a standard of catching criminals. Bertillon published his work in 1879. The first man who devised a standard for collecting fingerprints in relation to crime was Juan Vucetich from Argentina; he was a chief of police. This was just a few years before this story supposedly takes place and Arthur had probably just recently heard of it. Arthur knew about Bertillon and his methods because he mentioned him in a previous Sherlock story. Bertillon is basically the father of modern criminal catching, or rather, criminal identifying.

Here’s the thing about this story–we know fingerprints are unique, but the method used in this story isn’t exactly precise. This method of forensics was very new to the police world. It hadn’t really had a lot of time to have been put into practice and for there to be experts. Your detectives today don’t just look at a fingerprint and say, “Yep, looks like it matches;” It’s more complicated than that. Finger print matching, accurate finger print matching, requires either a computer program or an expert. Sherlock and Lestrade were not experts. There are only really four types of finger print, the arch, the whorl, the loop, and the tented arch. An expert has to have the ability to differentiate one person’s arch pattern from another person’s arch pattern. In the time period in which this story took place, there weren’t any experts. Identifying this fingerprint was really a best guess.

Arthur heard about this development, but again, he didn’t really think about it that hard. He just thought, “Oh that sounds cool. I love Bertillon. Let me put this in my Sherlock story.”

Blackheath and Norwood are both real regions of the London area. Here’s an interesting thing about Blackheath–it has an urban legend for how it got its name; it’s not true, but it’s still fun. Supposedly, Blackheath was so named because it was used as a mass burial-place for those who died of the black death. Sounds interesting and gory, but, in reality, Blackheath is a more modernized English word which means “dark-colored heathland,” basically, the soil is really rich.

The Adventure of the Norwood BuilderThemes

Faking your own death rarely works. You would have to be very, very good in order to pull it off. This guy was also a jerk. He tried to get back at a woman who spurned him a long time ago. I have two things I have to say to Mr. Jonas Oldacre. One–you’re an idiot if you think faking your own death can fix your problems; maybe you shouldn’t have made those problems in the first place. Two–grow up; she’s not into you; you might as well just get over it; that was a long time ago; go find yourself a new woman.

We want the easy fix. I just want all my problems to go away. Maybe if I win the lottery, get my stomach stapled, or fake my own death, everything will be better. Ok, it’s true that winning the lottery or getting your stomach stapled may help your current problems, but it’s still up to you to manage the effects of those solutions. You could fake your own death, but you have to anticipate the consequences of that action. You’re going to have to be prepared to make the harsh decisions that are going to come with following your plan through. You’re going to have to leave. You can’t stay in your same darn house after faking your own death. Some stupid story about how you’re so-and-so’s long-lost twin brother isn’t going to cut it. You have to leave the country, right away.

Oldacre just wasn’t prepared to follow through with his plan. You can’t just half-do faking your own death. You have to go all the way. It’s just like you can’t be a little pregnant; you’re either pregnant or you’re not. Oldacre needs to be dead or he needs to be alive.

This guy also has a problem with rejection. Yes, in life, some people are going to reject you. You need to learn to move on after this happens. It’s their tough cookie if they’ve lost you in their life. That’s how you have to look at it and then let it go. Move on with your life. So what if Jonny football star rejected you at the high school prom? You’re thirty now, be an adult. Get a new boyfriend. Move on with your life.

Jonas Oldacre was really holding onto this thing. Mrs. McFarlane told him he was a sack of crap a long, long time ago, but he let the thought stew in his head and he just held onto it and held onto it. I can guarantee you, that you’re not naturally a type of person that would let another person go to jail over something they didn’t commit if you could help it. If you’re a psychopath, then I’m sorry; you probably would do that. Jonas probably wouldn’t have framed someone else for murder in his younger years, but he let the thought of being rejected simmer in his brain for years. In the end, he just got to such a state that he thought he could let another person go to prison for something he did. What a loser. He wasted all these years of his life being miserable over something that happened a long time ago. I kind of feel bad for him actually.

Overall

I know it sucks, but in real life, you need to look your problems in the face and take them down. You can’t run away from everything. You’ll still feel bad about your old problems and then have a bunch of new problems that came about because you ran away.



bertillon, blackheath, faking death, faking own death, fingerprinting, john watson, mcfarlane, norwood, sherlock, sherlock holmes, sir arthur conan doyle, The Adventure of the Norwood Builder, The Adventure of the Norwood Builder sherlock holmes, The Adventure of the Norwood Builder sir arthur conan doyle
Doyle-Sir Arthur Conan, Sherlock Holmes
One-elevenbooks

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The Wastelands by Stephen KingThe Wastelands by Stephen King

I’m still moving through The Dark Tower series by Stephen King. I’ve finished the third book.

In the last book, Roland found three doors in the middle of the beach which enabled him to get inside the heads of three different people. He was told by the man in black that he would draw three. Roland causes the death of one of the drawees, and only ends up drawing two.

In the beginning of The Wastelands Roland knows something is wrong with him. He knows he’s going crazy. He can remember the past he has, but the past is watery. Roland saved Jake in New York, but because Jake was saved in New York, he wasn’t able to die in Roland’s world. Roland remembers his death, but because Roland saved Jake in his first world, he can’t die in his second. A paradox is ripping Roland’s mind apart.

The group Susannah, Eddie, and Roland travel on. They camp. Roland teaches Eddie and Susannah how to be gunslingers. He tells them not to forget the faces of their fathers. In a forest they meet a giant bear. The bear is bigger than anything any of them have ever seen. They shoot a satellite coming out of the top of the bear’s head. In the bear’s den they find other small robots. The bear is not a complete robot; it lived and breathed and bled. They don’t know what to make of the bear other than it’s called Shardik. A voice from the bear continues to talk even after it’s dead.

Roland tells the group that the bear was one of the guardians. There had been twelve. They had been made by the old ones. The guardians guarded the twelve portals. Six lines connect the twelve portals. In the middle of those lines is the dark tower. The lines are called beams. The group decides to follow the beams.

Eddie carves a key. He sees it in the fire. He begins having dreams. He has dreams of Jake. In the other world, Jake is still alive. He feels that he isn’t supposed to be. He feels that he too is going crazy. He looses time. He knows he’s supposed to be dead, but part of him says he’s still alive. He realizes that he must leave his own world, but he doesn’t know where to find the door. Jake also finds a key and a rose.

Eddie feels that Jake is going to come through to mid-world. When Jake finally does make it to mid-world, the group comes upon a strange city that used to be called Lud. The city is divided into old people and strange wild people who aren’t very pleasant. Jake makes a friend of a strange animal named a bumbler. Jake narrowly escapes the town alive. The group knows they must meet and ride on a train called Blaine.

It turns out Blaine is more alive than any of them suspected. He’s a pain, after all. The group must soon play their lives in a game of riddles.

What I liked

Stephen, by logic, as a great writer, must also be a great reader. It’s evident in his writing. He references works of literature by other people, citing The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien as an inspiration for this series, but he also references Shardik by Richard Adams. I’ve never read that book, maybe I should. Stephen also references himself. He references both The Shining and Sometimes They Come Back. He may actually reference more of his own work, but I haven’t read enough of Stephen’s work to know for sure. It’s obvious that Stephen is a reader.

Probably one of the more obvious references to Middle Earth in this book is the game of riddles. It is true that Bilbo was not on a death train, but he was still riddling for his life. Gollum was going to eat him. The obvious reference to Middle Earth in the name of mid-world is also there.

I think the characters are becoming more fleshed out. We’re learning more about Eddie. We’re learning more about Susannah. We’re learning more about Roland and about Jake. What we’re able to learn about all of these characters couldn’t really be contained in one book. It’s kind of neat to see them develop across multiple books.

What I didn’t like

Stephen creates an awfully bleak world. The idea of time not being determinable anymore keeps popping up in the series. That may seem like no big deal, but really, what if something happened and we couldn’t maintain our perception of time? What if there was some sort of weird solar flare or misalignment of the Earth that caused our days to be longer or shorter? That may not make any sense at all, but in theory, there are things that could happen to the Earth that could cause our days to become either longer or shorter. The problem is whether or not those things would kill us, most likely, they would, but on the off-chance that they didn’t, the people left behind would have a hard time of life. Our Circadian rhythms are set by the current day/night cycle. Imagine trying to maintain yourself in a world where your Circadian rhythm couldn’t grab a hold of anything. We’d probably all go insane.

Stephen gets really out-there in some of his story plot-lines. He’s Stephen King; he does that. The out-there-ness of Stephen’s stories can make them hard to follow. If you’re a very logically oriented person, you’re simply not going to go for oracles in standing stone circles, ghosts, talking trains, and areas where you seem to pass between two worlds, or more. If you’re a more open-minded person, the idea of all this out-there-ness, may not be so intimidating. I’m kind of on the fence of some of this out-there-ness, but I understand enough of what Stephen is talking about to wrap my head around the story.

Overall

Riddle me this, Batman…



blaine, blaine is a pain, bumbler, dark tower, jake, lud, midworld, roland, stephen king, susannah, talking train, the dark tower, the dark tower series by stephen king, the wastelands, The Wastelands by Stephen King, train
Doyle-Sir Arthur Conan, Sherlock Holmes
One-elevenbooks

The Adventure of the Empty House

The Adventure of the Empty HouseThe Adventure of the Empty House

Sherlock is dead! My life is never going to be the same. Oh, I’m going to cry. My life is over! I miss the adventures! I hate being a doctor… oh wait a minute, who is this weird guy in my office?

That’s pretty much how it happened. So Sherlock is dead, supposedly. John says that London has definitely suffered in the three years since the death of Sherlock Holmes. John has continued to be a doctor, but has followed the world of crime closely. Most recently a man named Adair has been murdered. It was known that the man was a gambler and it was assumed that he had debts. He was murdered in a small room. No one went in or out of it. No murderer can be found. It’s quite strange that this man is dead when there is no murder weapon nearby. Clearly there was a murder weapon.

John was poking around the crime scene with all the looky-loos when he bumped into a book collector. He made the collector drop his books, one of which was called The Origin of Tree Worship. John hastily helps the man on his way, but the man isn’t very nice. John went home, but then the maid said there was someone here to see him. The book collector came into John’s study. The book collector said he was sorry for being so rude; he also said he would sell John some books that would fill an empty spot on his bookshelf. John turned around to look, but when he turned back around Sherlock Holmes was in his room.

John kind of swooned at the sight of Sherlock Holmes. He had supposed him dead. Sherlock now has to tell John how he was not dead. Sherlock says that Moriarty did go over the falls, but he did not. He climbed up the cliff, where he used his powers of Baritsu on another man, but that man got away. Sherlock has waited for all of his enemies to die or be in prison before returning to London. He went to Tibet for a while; he went to Mecca. The faked death was the perfect opportunity for Sherlock to lay low for a while. Sherlock does happen to mention that he watched John have his upsetting personal moment at the falls realizing that his friend was dead.

Sherlock says Mycroft helped him out. Mycroft knew Sherlock wasn’t dead and sent him money and also kept Baker Street up. Apparently, he must have also had it remodeled because in the last story, Baker Street had been set ablaze; Sherlock makes no mention of Baker Street being a charred mess. He does say that Mrs. Hudson just went into hysterics when he showed up though.

Sherlock doesn’t waste any time. He says there is something he needs help with. John agrees to come along just like old times. It appears they’re going to Baker Street, but they’re not. They end up in an empty house across from Baker Street. There they wait in the dark, but not before Sherlock shows John something. In the window of Baker Street the distinct shadow of Sherlock Holmes can be seen. John is surprised that it looks just like Sherlock. Sherlock says he had a man make it out of wax.

Sherlock explains that he knew he was being watched. There had been a man watching him on the street. Sherlock says he claimed to be a garroter, but he was really spying on Sherlock. He also says that he was scared of air guns a while back and with good cause. John and Sherlock wait and wait and wait, for a long while, nothing happens. Finally they hear a noise. It’s in the building with them. They’re in a complete darkness and a man passes them by as if they were not there. John discovers that it’s an old man.

The old man proceeds to get out a very big gun. He takes aim at Sherlock’s shadow and shoots. After he takes his shot, Sherlock jumps on him and Lestrade rushes in the building. It turns out the old man was a former big game hunter with a very good shot. He is a colonel of the last name Moran. He is surprised that Sherlock has caught him. Lestrade wants to know what to charge him with and Sherlock tells Lestrade to charge him with the murder of Adair, as Adair had been shot with the same type of weapon. The gun was commissioned specially by Moriarty. Sherlock says he doesn’t want any mention of his name in relation to the case.

John and Sherlock go back to Baker Street, where everything was as it always had been. Mrs. Hudson was there. Sherlock asked her if she had taken the proper precautions and she tells him that, “Yes, she did. She went to it on her knees.” *Hehehe* She was talking about Sherlock’s bust. She would move it every so often as to change the shadow as a real person would change positions. She had to go to the bust on her knees in order not to cast a shadow herself.

It turns out the old man was a pretty good shot. He shot Sherlock’s wax figure clean through. Sherlock would have certainly been dead had he been sitting there. John and Sherlock remark over how Moran used to be such a fine upstanding man, but he was enticed by the dark side. Then he became Darth Vader, no, not really. Sherlock supposes that there was some sort of gambling debt between Moran and Adair and that’s why Adair lost his life. Sherlock is glad that all his enemies are put away so he can once again devote his life to solving mysteries.

The Adventure of the Empty HouseObservations

See, we knew he would be back. He’s alive. He’s fine. He just went on a soul-searching journey to Tibet and Mecca. He’s as condescending as ever.

Whist is a game I have never played before. I know it’s a card game, but I don’t know how it works. This is what Wikipedia says about it:

A standard 52-card pack is used. The cards in each suit rank from highest to lowest: A K Q J 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2. Whist is played by four players, who play in two partnerships with the partners sitting opposite each other. Players cut or draw cards to determine partners, with the two highest playing against the lowest two, who have seating rights. The players then cut for deal. It is strictly against the rules to comment on the cards in any way. One may not comment upon the hand one was dealt nor about one’s good fortune or bad fortune. One may not signal to one’s partner.

I can honestly say that I don’t really understand that. I’ve never been much of a card player. I understand solitaire and Crazy 8s and that’s about it. I don’t even know how to play poker. I can play Blackjack though.

The story says that Adair wanted to play a “rubber of whist.” So what’s a rubber? If you’re thinking what I’m thinking, then it has nothing to do with cards. I don’t know how this measurement came about, but playing a rubber of whist means you’re going to play for the best of three games. So you play three games and whoever wins most is the overall winner.

I’m not exactly Annie Oakley; I know a bit about guns, but not a ton. When I read the term expanding revolver bullet I didn’t know what to make of it, but I looked into it. An expanding revolver bullet is basically a hollow-point bullet; this means, you’re shooting to kill. Hollow-point bullets aren’t for hunting deer or rabbits; they’re for hunting people. The premise is that the hollow section of the bullet will expand once it has hit its target, this means more damage. A regular bullet may pass through your body piercing only muscle, if you’re lucky, but a hollow point bullet would expand and nick internal organs and major blood vessels making it more likely that you’re going to die from your wound.

Baritsu is not real. Arthur made the word up to describe a type of Japanese wrestling. The only type of Japanese wrestling I know about is Sumo. Trust me, I lived in Japan for three years. I even looked up the word just to be sure that there isn’t some Japanese word Baritsu that means wrestling. There’s not. Baritsu isn’t even a real word in Japanese. It could be, it has the phonetics to be Japanese, but consider that Japanese doesn’t regularly use “B” at all. “ri” and “tsu” are both Japanese letters, “ba” is as well, but it’s a lesser used letter. Essentially, Arthur made up a Japanese looking and sounding word, but it’s just that–made up.

Just for fun:

ば=ba

り=ri

つ=tsu

ばりつ=baritsu

What in the heck is a garroter? Well, a garroter is someone who strangles someone else. I cannot find any other definition for this word. So Sherlock was basically saying that a strangler was watching him. If you use an object to strangle someone, that object is then a garrote.

  1. Park Lane-real
  2. Church Street-real
  3. Manchester Street-real
  4. Blandford Street-real

Sherlock mentions that he went to see the Khalifa at Khartoum. Khartoum is a real place, it’s in Sudan, so Africa; Sherlock went to Africa as well. Khalifa is a last name, but it’s also a title in Sufism. Sherlock went to see something like a priest. This journey Sherlock takes to Tibet, to Mecca, and to Khartoum really seems to have a spiritual basis, maybe Sherlock was finding himself and rethinking his life. He doesn’t go into details about it.

The word ejaculation is used one time in this story.

The Adventure of the Empty HouseThemes

Don’t mess with Sherlock Holmes. He was gone for three years on a spiritual quest but rose up from the dead to judge those who were left behind. That sounds a little familiar. I wonder if Arthur did that on purpose? Christ was dead, he sacrificed himself for the greater good, he was dead for three days, in heaven, and then he rose from the dead. Sherlock also sacrificed himself, was “dead” for a three-something, then rose from the dead, seemingly. Right, Arthur, right. Did Arthur hang out with C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien? I would understand if he did, but Arthur predates the Inklings.

You must understand that society was much more religious back in the day. Even if you didn’t outwardly express your religion, your work and life still held many references to religion. You went to church; it was your social group. You knew the priest. Everyone around you spoke about God. Arthur has made other references to God in the Sherlock stories. Sherlock isn’t overly religious, but from this story we can tell that Sherlock possesses something of a religion because he visited all these religious places to speak with all these religious people. This little blip in the story line is just a way for Arthur to sneak  just a bit of religion in his Sherlock stories. Everyone was doing it, not just Arthur, that’s why I mentioned C.S. Lewis and Tolkien, because they did a heck of a lot of sneaking religion into their works. Although, in their cases I don’t suppose it was so much sneaking as just saying how it was.

I consider myself religious to an extent, but even if I were not, I still live in an area which is overly religious. I live in the South and in the south people say, “Have a blessed day,” instead of, “have a good day,” in many instances. There are churches everywhere. The local middle-school rents out to a large church on Sundays. Even if I did not consider myself religious at all, I would still be surrounded by religion and it would still place in my life and whatever creations I might come to create.

I don’t know if Arthur was religious, but like I said, even if he were not religious, religion would still factor into his stories. It has many times. Sherlock and John mention churches in the stories. They make small remarks about God. The Sherlock stories are definitely more secular than many other stories of the day, but the idea is still there.

To sum all of that up, yes, there is a bit of religion in the Sherlock stories, and here you were, thinking it was all science and deduction, but deduction could be considered a religion unto itself for Sherlock.

Overall

Go to it on your knees, Mrs. Hudson. That’s so bad. Oh, poor Mrs. Hudson, in my interpretation of the Sherlock stories she’s getting knocked up and wobbling around on her knees.


 
big game hunter, john watson, mrs hudson, sharpshooter, sherlock holmes, sherlock holmes The Adventure of the Empty House, sir arthur conan doyle, The Adventure of the Empty House, The Adventure of the Empty House sir arthur conan doyle, the empty house
Doyle-Sir Arthur Conan, Sherlock Holmes
One-elevenbooks

The Woes of the Internet

The Woes of the InternetYou guys know me, usually I write about books, stories, and sometimes movies. Today, I’m not writing about any of those things. Well, I still sort of am, actually.

What I want to talk about today is the internet. It’s become invaluable to me during my reading and my research at One-elevenbooks. It’s pretty much essential. I can’t post things on my website without the internet, which is why I’m rather disappointed, again, with my ISP. My internet is currently going as slow as a turtle wearing molasses shoes. I’m writing all of this in a Word document. Good old Word, you never disappoint me, except for when Microsoft changes one aspect completely from one version to the other, then, at those times, you disappoint me.

Many people believe this idea that the internet is making us dumber. Instead of knowing something, we depend on the internet to look it up for us. Why memorize something when the internet keeps your brain? Well, you probably should never trust someone else to hold your brain. Think about this, at the times in which you don’t have the internet, how are you supposed to use your brain? It’s inaccessible. It’s locked away. Your ISP is keeping your brain hostage with their crappy service and you can’t do anything about it. They don’t even give you a discount on your bill when your internet goes out for an entire day, just like Charter’s internet did nationwide just over a month ago, by the way, if you didn’t know.

I agree with these people to an extent. We tend to keep the internet accountable for knowledge we used to have on hand. Why should we memorize the number for the tow truck when we can look the number up on the internet? That’s all very well and convenient, but like I said, it’s not a good idea to let someone else keep your brain. If they screw up on their end, you’re screwed on your end as well.

The thing about it is that we have to make a conscious effort to keep our brains from getting lazy with all of these all-you-can-eat information buffets the internet has to offer. That’s why I read. I read and I end up memorizing a lot of weird facts that I probably have no need for, but it’s causing my brain to work. I guess it’s really one of those half-empty/half-full situations.

I like the internet. I like how I can get all this information at a few key strokes and mouse clicks. Without the internet I wouldn’t have been able to do half the research on the Grimm’s Fairy Tales and Sherlock Holmes stories that I have been able to do so far. It’s really been this great tool for me, but it’s also my medium. I can’t publish my writing to you guys without the internet. Internet outages steal my thunder. I can’t run to a newspaper and say, “Print my article, you jerks. It’s awesome. Do it right now!” If I did that, they would probably throw me out and then not print my article on top of that, just as icing to top off their jerk cake.

Even if I did run to the newspaper and ask nicely, “Please print my article,” and they did it, I wouldn’t be reaching nearly as wide of an audience. I reach a worldwide audience every single day on my website. A newspaper reaches one county or city. The people of my city may not be particularly appreciative of the observations of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s penchant for using the word ejaculation and thinking blunt force trauma is funny. Hahahaha! Oh, Arthur!

I’m grateful for the internet, but my providers of internet are not the greatest guys. I like being self-sufficient, so it really bums me out when I have to sit down and realize that I rely on something as much as I rely on the internet. If I don’t have the internet, I might have to go to a magazine, and honestly, I can’t see a lot of magazines wanting to publish my awesome stuff. Seriously, what kind of magazine would publish articles about John Watson constantly using the word ejaculation? Playboy? I know Playboy does have articles. I just don’t know that an article about Sherlock Holmes stories would be something they would go for. I don’t know, maybe Hugh Hefner is a huge fan of Sherlock Holmes. It could happen.

Essentially, I need the internet to research and to publish articles for you guys and you guys need the internet to read my articles, but you should still be cautious about how much you rely on the internet, at least memorize the important phone numbers of your life so you can still know them without having to look them up on the internet. You know like 867-5309. Everybody should know that phone number. If my internet was working right now, I would look that phone number up and tell you exactly who has it, but it’s not, so you’re going to have to pretend that’s like a really important phone number, but it should be easy to remember because it was in a song.

And now, a haiku:

 

Internet so slow

Where did you go? I am sad.

Charter, you suck. Peace.



charter internet, dependency on the internet, letting the internet keep your brain, looking things up on the internet, poor internet service, publishing on the internet, The Woes of the Internet
Essays
One-elevenbooks

The Final Problem

The Final ProblemThe Final Problem

There’s a man following me around. Oh, you’re just paranoid. No, really. There is a man following me around. Paranoid, I told you. The next thing you know your friend is dead because there really was a man following them around.

Sherlock visits John unexpectedly one evening. Mary is away and not much is going on with John. Sherlock hasn’t been to see John in the recent months. Sherlock has been very busy with cases of all sorts. He has managed to get quite a bit of money from his cases, but has found out something sinister.

There is a man in England who causes crime to happen. He’s very smart. He’s a math whiz. He used to be a professor. He has been educated. His name is Moriarty. Moriarty can sponsor crime and seemingly never get caught. Sherlock has found his trail and is following it, but he also knows that Moriarty is crafty and knows that Sherlock is following him. Sherlock now has enough evidence to get Moriarty, but they mustn’t strike too soon. Sherlock asks John if he wants to go on a vacation to the rest of Europe. John says he can.

Sherlock then tells John about what has happened to him recently. Moriarty showed up at Baker Street. Sherlock would not give into his demands. As a result, someone threw a brick at Sherlock, someone tried to run over Sherlock, and then someone hit Sherlock. These incidents in no way can be connected back to Moriarty, but Sherlock knows that is who it is. Sherlock refuses to stay with John for the evening, but gives him specific instructions about getting on the train. He must take this cab and not that cab. He must go on foot here. He must use this road and must get in this train car.

John makes it to the station, but Sherlock is nowhere in sight, but a confused Italian man has followed John into his train car, the confused Italian man turns out to be Sherlock. The train starts off, but not before Sherlock catches an eye of Moriarty in the crowd. They do some train switching later on and finally make it to Europe. There they learn that Moriarty’s crime ring has been caught, but not Moriarty. Sherlock assumes Moriarty is on his trail.

They go to a nice hotel in Sweden near a place called Reichenbach Falls. They are encouraged to go and see the waterfall for themselves. They make a journey to the waterfall. Sherlock has become somewhat listful and is saying that he very well might have done something with his life after all. An errand boy runs down the duo and says that a woman back at the hotel desperately needs an English doctor so John goes back. At the hotel, he finds that the manager did not write the not. The manager says it must have been the other Englishman who checked in.

John goes back to the falls, but finds nothing. Sherlock isn’t there. His walking stick is there, but Sherlock isn’t there. No one else is there either. Looking closer, he sees two tracks of footprints, go to the edge of the railing, and then, disappear. He knows Sherlock went over with Moriarty. There is no way to recover a body. John looks around again and finds Sherlock’s cigarette case on a rock. Inside of the case is a note. Sherlock tells John that he knows he can get rid of Moriarty, but in the process, he too has to go. He says he’s already arranged everything.

That is the last John sees of Sherlock. Sherlock was indeed successful at destroying Moriarty’s crime ring.

The Final ProblemObservations

We’ve seen the movies; we’ve watched the television shows, we know that Sherlock is not dead. He’s going to show up later, but John doesn’t know that yet.

I’m actually surprised at how accurate the RDJ Sherlock movies were concerning this story.

Many of the places in this story have already been mentioned in other Sherlock stories so I don’t really want to get into explaining whether they’re real or not, because we already know that most of them are or aren’t. Some of the foreign places might be questionable, but many of the names are recognizable.

Let’s talk about Reichenbach Falls. They’re real! It’s a real place. You can go there and visit. It’s in Switzerland, just as the story says. The story goes that Arthur was visiting the area and had never heard of the falls, so a friend took him there to let him see. Arthur liked it so much that he set a story there. These days you can go and see the falls, but the pathways mentioned in the story aren’t accessible anymore and have become dangerous. You can get near the falls, but not as close as Sherlock and Moriarty got, they got way too close anyway. Nobody wants to get that close.

This story just isn’t as exciting as some of the other stories. It’s kind of sad. If we had been reading these stories serially back in the day, we would probably be quite upset after reading this. We didn’t know that Arthur would write more stories or bring Sherlock back. This story was really meant to be a farewell to Sherlock, but Arthur changed his mind apparently. It’s definitely not as upbeat or intriguing as some of the other stories.

The Final ProblemThemes

What’s that saying? The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. That’s from Star Trek, The Wrath of Khan to be exact; I hate that movie. Coincidence or not, but Benedict Cumberbatch, a modern-day Sherlock, played Khan in the newest Star Trek re-make. All of this is just a coincidence actually. I’m going to use that phrase because it fits with the point I’m trying to make. It’s not some giant Star Trek/Sherlock Holmes conspiracy theory.

Sherlock is not a jerk. He’s not. Some of his portrayals lead viewers to believe he’s an utter not really nice person, but he’s got a heart. He’s got a soft-spot in his heart for young women. He has a soft spot in his heart for people who are victims of crime. He’s actually a more considerate person than one would readily believe. He’s a self-sacrificing person in fact.

In this story he was able to take down an entire crime ring, but he had to die in the process, supposedly. That was the only way he could best Moriarty. That was the only way he could put an end to him. So why do it? Why care? Why should we care if there is some jerk who makes crime happen?

Well, you should care because it could happen to you. You should care because it could happen to your family. Your house being robbed isn’t exactly a nice thing to deal with, but it’s not the end of the world. Robbery isn’t the only type of crime though. We have to consider murder. We have to consider rape. We have to consider human trafficking, drug running, and extortion. This story doesn’t go into detail about what kind of crimes Moriarty was sponsoring, but we can imagine. I’m sure it wasn’t as simple as rigging a few horse races. Some really bad stuff was probably happening because of Moriarty. Remember, these Moriarty henchmen had no problem trying to kill Sherlock, on at least four separate occasions. They weren’t playing nice and they weren’t afraid to kill.

Sherlock was preventing not only theft, but murder and rape and any other terrible crime you can think of. To Sherlock, that was a noble cause to sacrifice his life for. He knew John would be upset so he left a note. He laid down his life for John and for all of London, maybe all of England. If that doesn’t make you a good person, I don’t know what does. Sherlock clearly illustrates the point, “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”

Live long and prosper.

*insert weird Vulcan hand thing here*

The only problem with Sherlock’s sacrifice is that there will be another Moriarty. Another villain will rise up through the muck and take his place. When that happens, who is going to solve that crime? Not Sherlock Holmes, he’s dead, God rest his soul.

Let’s all have a few moments of silence for the pretend death of a pretend detective……..

….ok, that’s enough, more Sherlock to come!

Overall

Do you want to go on a vacation with me? I hear Reichenbach Falls is really nice this time of year. We can lean over the railing really far and see if we get vertigo.



crime ring, falls off a waterfall, john watson, moriarty, reichenbach falls, sherlock, sherlock holmes, sir arthur conan doyle, The Final Problem, The Final Problem sherlock holmes, The Final Problem sir arthur conan doyle, waterfall
Doyle-Sir Arthur Conan, Sherlock Holmes
One-elevenbooks

Falcon Boy and Bewilder Bird versus Dr Don't Know in a Battle for all the Life of all the Planets by Barnaby TaylorFalcon Boy and Bewilder Bird versus Dr Don’t Know in a Battle for all the Life of all the Planets by Barnaby Taylor

Super heroes are pretty awesome right? They perform all these superhuman feats and then they still have this pretty interesting alter-ego, except for Clark Kent, he’s just a nerd, well, at least he’s a nerd in the movies I grew up with; in the newest movie he’s like a muscled lumberjack/fisherman. What if super heroes weren’t so super and were actually a bit inept?

Barnaby’s book is about such a super hero; it’s actually about two super heroes, but one of them doesn’t talk, much like the duo of Penn and Teller. In a world where everyone seems to be waiting in line all of the time, there is a nefarious plot afoot. That nefarious plot involves someone called Dr. Don’t Know.

The whole thing started with an online community of people who wanted to pretend to be magical super hero beings. It was fun for a while, but then it wasn’t so fun because everyone could do the same things. The community then decide not to let anybody have super powers, which was kind of boring. The virtual super heroes soon left their virtual super hero world and went out into the real world. One of those virtual turned real heroes is Falcon Boy. He designed his own costume and it’s not exactly the most sleek or elegant. He partners up with another super hero called Bewilder Bird and they go and live in a shack on the edge of  the Panic Town Park.

Panic Town is a nice enough place everybody is very hip onto what’s going on in the celebrity world. Their favorite newscaster is often thought to be filming a documentary or expose when she’s out shopping. Panic Town is also fond of its musicians and musical performances, even if the music seems to leave a lot to be desired. Someone has gotten wind of the fact that Dr. Don’t Know has a terrible plan in the works and he is interviewed on television, but he doesn’t say anything other than, “Don’t know.” What everyone does know is that he has kidnapped Bewilder Bird and Falcon Boy. It’s not the Panic Town needed the two super heroes for saving their lives, it was that they kind of got used to having them around and when they were gone, they were missed.

In the midst of all of this, Ellis, a little girl, suddenly discovers that she cares about the two super heroes missing. She also decides that she should do something about it. Also, it also appears that Falcon Boy can talk to her even when he’s not standing next to her. He tells her that he and Bewilder Bird don’t know where they are and there is no indication to tell where they are. Ellis decides to go to their house and check for clues.

Ellis summons up all her bravery and knowledge of a little girl detective named Pearly Stockwell, who just solves all kinds of mysteries. Ellis asks herself what Pearly would do. At Falcon Boy’s house, Ellis finds a backstage pass to a concert that evening. Ellis decides to go and check this out.

Will she find Bewilder Bird and Falcon Boy Before Dr. Don’t Know has the chance to take over the world? What is his plan exactly? Should Ellis be leaving the house on her own without an adult? You’ll find all of this out if you read the book.

What I liked

Barnaby contacted me and asked me to read this book, and as I like books, I said, yes. Barnaby said this was originally written to entertain a young daughter, but the project soon grew into what it is now. Barnaby’s writing style reminds me of how A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket is written, although this book isn’t depressing. I did like the quirky style in which that series was written.

This book is definitely written for the young mind. Barnaby regularly breaks the narrative wall. I’m sure there’s a better name for it; theater people would call it “the fourth wall,” I believe. Barnaby doesn’t come right out and name the narrator as Lemony does in his series, but it’s implied that the narrator is Barnaby. Our narrator observes the events in the story, has a world-wide view of what’s going on, but also talks to the reader, which is something kids like. They do like the idea that a story is including them within its pages. I like the idea of reaching out to the reader, you guys know I do that all the time, but I try to curb that tendency when actually doing some literary writing.

The idea of super heroes being normal people is an interesting idea. Bruce Wayne is a normal guy, no special powers, but he is a billionaire and that’s kind of a special power. I think this book says a lot about how children think. Children tend to idolize people. They think Mom or Dad, or Mrs. Johnson, can do anything. The adults of their lives seem so big and powerful. So, yes, of course they can do anything. Just a couple of days ago I was having a conversation with my grandmother. She was talking about how my grandfather, who is eighty-two years old, poured an entire concrete floor by himself with a wheelbarrow and a shovel. My grandfather can pretty much do anything; I still believe that, but my grandmother was recalling a time when my brother and I were younger. We were discussing building something and we said that Papa could do it because Papa could do anything. I know my grandfather is not a super hero, but when I was child I did believe he could do anything; I still kind of do.

Ellis believed in the adults in her life, even if the adults in her life weren’t really that outstanding in the eyes of other adults. She had some faith in them and they were able to have some more faith in themselves.

What I didn’t like

I don’t have any major problems with this book. For the most part, it’s a polished book for youngsters. It’s about super heroes. It’s about solving a crime. It’s about being independent within reason for your age. It’s about realizing that you can do a lot to help, even if you don’t think you can. It’s about how terrible standing in line is.

Two things that are small annoyances were the giant lists and repetitious sections in the text and the parental advice that shadowed all of Ellis’s movements. As far as the first point, it’s a book for kids. Kids have a tendency to like lists of things and repetition, as an adult I’m not so keen on it, but this isn’t an adult book; I don’t have to be keen on it. What did strike me is that a child who was in the autistic spectrum might really enjoy a book like this. I have an autistic brother and he likes collections of things and repetition. As he has grown older, he’s grown out of that to an extent, but when he was a young child, lists and repetition were his thing. I think the super hero aspect of it might also be really interesting.

The second thing I wasn’t really all that enthused about was how the narrator was constantly saying something like, “Children shouldn’t leave the house unsupervised. Children shouldn’t go to the park alone.”  I get why Barnaby put this in the book. This book was originally stories for Barnaby’s daughter and no parent wants their kid walking around the neighborhood by themselves. Kids just can’t do that these days. Trying to look as this from a child’s perspective though, it could get a bit annoying, but that might just be me. That might just be my personality. I don’t like being reminded of things I already know.

One last thing–Dr. Don’t Know reminded me of a character, Button Bright, from one of the Oz books by L. Frank Baum. Button Bright said, “Don’t know,” a lot. I don’t remember if he ever said anything else. Button Bright was a child and the image of Button Bright kept Dr. Don’t Know very childish in my imagining of him. I think my mental mash-up of Button Bright and Dr. Don’t Know made the ending more plausible for me.

Overall

This is a cute book. The reader can feel like a part of the story. It parodies our real life fascination with celebrities, bands, and super heroes. Ellis gets to be a hero like Pearly Stockwell. There is also a Narnia/LOTR mash-up as one of the Pearly Stockwell books, which is kind of fun.



barnaby taylor, bewilder bird, books similar to a series of unfortunate events, concert, dr don’t know, ellis, evil plans, falcon boy, Falcon Boy and Bewilder Bird versus Dr Don’t Know in a Battle for all the Life of all the Planets, Falcon Boy and Bewilder Bird versus Dr Don’t Know in a Battle for all the Life of all the Planets by Barnaby Taylor, panic town, robots, saving the world, standing in line, super hero, super heroes
Children’s, Fantasy, Feel-Good, Fiction, Social Commentary, Taylor-Barnaby, Young Adult
One-elevenbooks

The Emperors of Chocolate by Joel Glenn BrennerThe Emperors of Chocolate by Joel Glenn Brenner

Chocolate, everyone loves it, but few know that the big chocolate factories in the United States, Hershey and Mars, have had a long feud and shroud their processes in secrets. While it is true that you can go to Hershey and tour the factory, or rather, part of it, they’re not going to show you all the good stuff. They’re not going to tell you their recipes and they’re not going to show you how they get almonds inside of almond Hershey kisses, nobody knows.

The seeming war between the two factories is part of what inspired Roald Dahl to write his famous book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. If you’ve been living under a rock for the past forty years, the book is about a little boy who wins a golden ticket to tour a mysterious chocolate factory. The factory closed its doors because secrets were getting out, but candy kept coming out, even when no one ever went in.

The world of chocolate used to be more open, but it’s not anymore. When companies have to keep their edge by keeping a recipe that’s a little different from another company’s recipe, they’re secretive about their products. The intimate factory tours that used to happen in the early days of Milton Hershey are a thing of the past.

Hershey and Mars stories are both rags to riches stories. Neither family had money and both families ended up with some failures along the way. Somewhere amid all of that, the companies were able to blossom into what they are today. Few knew that the companies used to help each other our regularly. That M & M on your M & Ms stands for Mars and Murrie. Murrie was actually a Hershey employee that helped the Mars family formulate their bite sized chocolate pieces. Mars actually used to buy all of its coating chocolate from Hershey as well, but eventually reasoned that it should make as much of its own supplies as possible.

The families behind the chocolate factories are indeed interesting. Forest Mars is prone to blowing up and yelling at everyone. Milton Hershey was a childless philanthropist who created an entire town for his workers and set up a school for disadvantaged boys. Milton was happy to let the running of his factory be handled by others when he grew older, but the Mars brothers tend to keep the factory in their own hands.

The thing about Mars candy company is that it apparently pays very well. If Mars products do well, you do well; you get a bonus, in fact. Everyone gets a bonus for being on time. There are no offices. Everyone calls each other by their first names, which would be great if you didn’t have to deal with the legendary temper of Forest Mars.

The companies both went from very small family affairs to huge businesses, although, Hershey’s foreign market is stunted compared to the foreign market that Mars possesses. They’re still very secretive about their procedures and ingredients.

What I liked

This was my non-fiction book for the month. I have to say that this book was written well for a non-fiction book. It was informative and it wasn’t dry. Sometimes there can be all kinds of information in a book, but it’s written in such a manner that you can’t follow it, this book isn’t like that at all. Joel is good at what she does. Yes, Joel is a woman.

The world of chocolate is a very interesting world. It starts with figuring out how to make the cocoa beans into something you would want. The process could be elusive and took years to master. Afterwards these companies had to figure out what to do with their chocolate. Reading Joel’s book I can really tell that Roald Dahl was influenced by this battle between the two big chocolate companies.

I like chocolate; I’ve read books about chocolate before. It’s just really neat to be able to see how a creation comes to life, especially when it’s something as good as chocolate. These days I tend to lean more towards good chocolate, European stuff mainly, but I still enjoy a Reeses every so often.

The person who had this book before me was obviously doing a research paper. Her name may have been Pat because I found a laminated Kanji of “Pat” in the book and I also found several newspaper clippings about chocolate in the back of the book. They actually fell out onto me as I was reading. Pat highlighted and underlined certain parts of the book. I don’t know what she was researching for, but I hope it ended up well. My copy is actually a first edition, but first editions aren’t so impressive when they’re from 1999.

What I didn’t like

There were a few times where the book could get a little boring, especially when marketing and finance stuff was being discussed. I can follow marketing to an extent. I cannot follow finance. I’m not a finance person; I don’t like to discuss it. I can figure out my own finances, but I seriously don’t want to sit down to dinner and discuss percentages and dividends. I’m sorry, numbers are boring. If you want to prove me wrong, send me a really interesting book about numbers.

Overall

This was really the first time I’ve read about the Mars family and I found it quite interesting.


charlie and the chocolate factory, chocolate, competing chocolate factories, hershey, inside the secret world of hershey and mars, joel glenn brenner, m&ms, mars, reeses, reeses pieces, the emperors of chocolate, The Emperors of Chocolate by Joel Glenn Brenner, willy wonka
Brenner-Joel Glenn, History, Non-Fiction
One-elevenbooks

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