I’ve never been to England; the closest I ever got was Ireland. Given all the English Literature I’ve read over my brief life, that lacuna in my experience has been replaced by a mythic England constructed from the works of Shakespeare, Dickens, Chesterton, Tolkien et al. (similarly, Japan is a place where teenagers battle the Forces of Darkness after school, usually with the aid of giant robots and sailor outfits). Actually visiting England would likely be an experience of profound disillusionment – especially if the reports of Theodore Dalrymple are to be believed.
My current interest in British mystery fiction only adds fuel to the fire. I’ve recently cleared Agatha Christie off of my imaginary list of unread writers with her Murder on the Orient Express, and And Then There Were None.
Everyone knows the setup of Murder: a train is stranded somewhere, one of the passengers is murdered, one of the other passengers is the murderer. It’s up to retired detective Hercule Poirot to figure out which one. This one left me a little bit underwhelmed. Christie is an extremely competent writer, and it’s a pleasure watching the mystery unfold so methodically (mainly through repeated interviews with the passengers), but I suppose I expected it to be a bit more heady than it would be. Hercule Poirot didn’t endear himself as much to me as, say, Lord Peter Wimsey did, though perhaps he’ll grow on me with more reading.
I liked And Then There Were None way more, mainly because it did such a good job of creating an atmosphere of paranoia. None of the characters are trustworthy, and the island setting is very claustrophobic. The ending was a tad clumsy, though.
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic
Yes, after two years of being bombarded with memes, I’ve caved and started watching this dumb show. This is one of those cases where the frightening levels of devotion and revulsion a franchise inspires in people makes me both fascinated and leery of stepping into a world I might regret seeing.
But bracketing all that: it’s a fine Saturday morning cartoon. If you’re the sort of person who could still watch an episode of Loony Tunes or Animaniacs, you’ll probably like it as long as you don’t mind the high sugar content. The stories so far are pretty rote and predictable, so the main draw is spending time with the ponies, who are, admittedly, a notch or two above your average cartoon characters.
The real lynchpin for me was finding out that John de Lancie apparently shows up at some point in a Q-inspired role.
Here’s a mashup I found which is relevant to this blog:
And, to wrap things up, here are some quotes in honor of the recently deceased Margaret Thatcher, courtesy of NBC:
“My policies are based not on some economics theory, but on things I and millions like me were brought up with: an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay; live within your means; put by a nest egg for a rainy day; pay your bills on time; support the police.” (News of the World, 9/20/81)
“It pays to know the enemy – not least because at some time you may have the opportunity to turn him into a friend.” (“The Downing Street Years”, 9/8/83)
“To me, consensus seems to be the process of abandoning all beliefs, principles, values and policies. So it is something in which no one believes and to which no one objects.” (Speech at Monash University, 10/6/81)