The Cardboard Box

“What is the object of this circle of misery and violence and fear? It must have a purpose or the universe has no meaning and that is unthinkable. But what purpose? That is humanity’s great problem to which reason so far has no answer.”
– Sherlock Holmes in The Cardboard Box

I’ve been meaning to make a post about this quote for some time, but never, until now, have I felt just quite brave enough to give it a whirl.
Here, in this quote, Sherlock Holmes asks the question that every person in their right mind has been asking since the dawn of time, and will go on asking, no doubt, until the end of time – what is the meaning of this seemingly meaningless life?
The first time I read The Cardboard Box I was either 14 or 15, I am not quite sure. I remember clearly enough how very disturbed I was by the whole story. The story is a rather macabre one, really – the two severed ears of the victims being sent, by the murderer, to the woman he blames for causing the trouble that ended in the killing of his wife and her lover. And then the quote at the end, where Sherlock Holmes, one feels almost speaking directly from the mouth of his creator, questions the meaning of life. I remember I felt very gloomy after reading it, and endeavored, by trying not to think about it or watch or listen to any of its adaptations, to forget about the story entirely. But I found that was not possible. It seemed to me no matter where I went in the Sherlock Holmes’ fandom that quote was not far behind. I could not escape it, and I wondered why. Then it occurred to me – they all sympathized with it, with those ever nagging questions of “why are we here?” and “what is it all for?” But why didn’t I sympathize with it? Well, that caused me to think quite a bit. But then, after a time, I realized the answer had been right under my nose the entire time. Because I know the answer. But what was so special about me, that I knew the answer and no one else seemed to? Well, when it comes down to it, there’s nothing special about me. In fact it doesn’t have anything to do with me at all. It’s Jesus. It’s all Jesus. Jesus is the meaning of life. He is the reason we’re here. He is what it’s all for. To glorify Him, to worship Him, and to share the Good News of His salvation with all of humanity.
It says it in some pretty cool ways in several places in the Bible. In Ecclesiastes 12:13 it says, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter (sounds pretty Sherlockian, doesn’t it?): Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” Puts it pretty succinctly, doesn’t it? Another place is in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, where it says, “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” Here’s another one, Jesus actually said this one, in Luke 10:27. “And He answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.” And of course there are more and more I could go on with, but I don’t want to go on for too long.
So that is why when I read that quote now I feel like grabbing the person who posted it in a hug and saying, “But there is, there is, there is a meaning in life! And I can show it to you! If you only believe!” If you only believe, that’s all it takes. And you will be so amazingly blessed, and you’ll know, you’ll really know, the meaning to life. I know I do.

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Happy Birthday Jeremy Brett!

(I write this a little over a year ago)

Dear Jeremy,
If I could write a letter to you,
This is what I’d say:
I’d say I really miss you,
And would have prayed for you every day.

I’d say how much I like you,
And how much to me you mean.
I’d tell you what I’d wished to do,
If I wasn’t just sixteen.

But you died before I was born,
Only a few months, though.
You went away for me to morn,
Someone I do not know.

If I could write a letter to you,
This is what I’d say:
I’d say I really miss you,
And would have prayed for you every day.

I’d tell you how much fun you are,
And how much I like your laugh.
I’d tell you, though you’re ever far,
What I’d have done on your behalf.

But you died on September 12th,
In 1995.
Yet you left us that near-endless wealth,
You, just in disguise.

If I could write a letter to you,
This is what I’d say:
I’d say I really miss you,
And would have prayed for you every day.

I’d say I’m glad I met you,
Though never face to face.
I’d tell you how I admire you,
All your gentle ease and grace.

But you died of heart failure,
Lungs scarred from your childhood flu.
A night of broken grandeur,
And a meeting between God and you.

If I could write a letter to you,
This is what I’d say:
I’d say I really miss you,
And would have prayed for you every day.

I’d tell you of the times I’ve had,
Overjoyed in your array.
I’d mention the times you’ve made me mad,
And say that it’s OK.

But you died 16 years ago,
Though you’re still with us today.
If only you could learn and know,
How much I’d like to say. happy birthday jbHappy birthday, Mr. Brett!

Happy Early Birthday Basil Rathbone

Just to answer any question that may have arisen from my title, I’m not going to be available to post on June 13th (Basil’s actual birthday) or any time closer to it, so I have to do it early.

It’s hard to believe that this is only the third of Basil’s birthdays that I’ve celebrated. It seems, somehow, that I’ve always know him. This poem that you are about to read was written only a few months after I had first “met” him, so it’s a bit more gushing than I would write it now, but hey, give me a break, I was fourteen.brathbone172

Basil

By R. Noel Landis

The eyes,

Blue to those you knew

And knew you,

But black to those of us who’ve only guessed

At what you were really like.

Soft and dreamy

But hidden deep inside

Is love, kindness, and a hint of roguish playfulness,

Enrapturing and beating down

The unsuspecting girl

Who falls into your clutches

As the villain or the madman.

Lifting up and pulling in

The poor and needy lady

Or the high and lofty woman

As hero and as lover.

The voice,

Deep and subtly rich,

Sweet in overflowing character

And letting our spirits soar.

We cannot think of anything else,

Not wanting to miss a single word.

If only we could have really heard you

And not have had to rely

On what you left behind.

Little heard laughter,

How we wish to hear it more,

Cheering over victory,

Or quiet simple pleasures.

The mouth,

Like no other

As it shapes its words of hatred or of love.

Small and finely turned up at the corners,

With the personality of life itself.

It catches the eyes,

Framed by the usual mustache.

We peer blissfully

Trying not to overlook its smooth movement,

Sole in its matchless perfection.

The hands,

Gentle, tender, and smooth,

But strong and very firm.

Stroking heads, shaking hands,

Touching keys, holding cigarettes and pipes.

We watch and peer,

Looking eagerly at every touch.

Unmistakable in their movement,

Catching eyes and drawing attention.

They say so much with every motion.

Swift but careful,

Calm but eager,

Leading women across the floor,

Meticulously searching the crime scene,

Grasping knives and guns with intent to kill,

Holding children’s hands.

The whole of you,

Towering over some

But eye to eye with others.

Enchanting us in every movement,

Every bit of you unique,

We cannot take our eyes away

For fear of missing something.

Born in South Africa

Yet British through and through,

Faithful husband

Loving father

Patriotic countryman

Excelling actor.

We lost something that day

July 21, 1967,

75 years after that wonderful day

June 13, 1892.

We miss you,

Even though you left us before we knew you

We have come to know you by what you left behind.brc961

Happy Birthday Ronald Howard

When most of you think of Ronald Howard you probably think of Ron Howard, Opie Taylor, or some of the famous films that Ron Howard has directed. But that’s not the man I’m talking about. I’m talking about the little-known British actor Ronald Howard, son of Leslie Howard, to whom, you can see, he bore a striking resemblance. image5image4

I know Ronald Howard best for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes.tve8278-19541018-1029

Howard’s characterization is very much of its times – the 50’s. It’s amusing, funny, cute, and not very serious – but somehow, he is still in my top five of Holmes actors.tumblr_mjqxff8aLy1qhogc2o1_500

But anyway, this is my post to celebrate his birthday, may he rest in peace.

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As a side note, my fellow Person of Interest fans, I would like to take half a moment to say – WHY ANOTHER 3 WEEK HIATUS!?!?!? I cannot take this again!!

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Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows review

So, contrary to my better judgment (wink, wink,) I finally watched Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows a couple days ago. Actually, rather to my surprise, it was better than I was expecting!

There were lots of bombs and explosions (The Great Game, anyone?) and many other non-Holmesian situations including cars, kisses, dancing, machine guns, an abundance of fist fights, and many other things. But, I think, this is where we distinguish a great Sherlock Holmes from a bad Sherlock Holmes – even if the situations (and all the trimmings) are utterly ridiculous and completely non-Holmesian, does Holmes still seem like Holmes? As in the Basil Rathbone movies, Holmes is “modernized,” up against the Nazis, driving cars, flying in plains, and a multitude of other things that are quite unlike the trimmings of the original Sherlock Holmes – but somehow, despite all of this, Rathbone is Holmes. I’m afraid to say, Robert Downy Jr. ceased to be Sherlock Holmes at the moment he left London (or perhaps even before.)

I have to say, though, that the creators of Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows certainly got something right in their take on Professor James Moriarty, (but just as a side note, what in the world was with the beard?) Professor Moriarty was really quite good. His personality was a great deal like I had imagined in the books, and he had the well-hidden, twisted, even slightly deranged quirk that I think is often lacking in incarnations of Moriarty. I think the callous cruelty with which he executed the torture scene (the singing! Oh wow!) in contrast to his (although un-canonical) habit of feeding pigeons, was extremely clever of the writers – it was well played, and quite freaky – which is good, I like a freaky Moriarty. Now to mention the ending “battle” between Holmes and Moriarty – that was just… wow! I literally got shivers! They, I think, could not have done it better than they did – it was so clever to have them play chess and then fight, but all in their minds – the greatest minds of their time! It would have been just too unrealistic had there been an actual fist fight, but the “mind battle,” that was spot on!

May I mention here that I thought the unclothed Mycroft was totally sick? What in heaven’s name was the point of that? Can anybody explain that to me? We already knew he was a nut job (ok, ok, eccentric,) we didn’t need that – um… at all!

It had, my mom pointed out to me, a decidedly The Beekeeper’s Apprentice feel to it – but that was, perhaps, the gypsies –

that and neither Holmes nor Watson strongly resembled their namesakes.

And that brings me to my last point – Watson. Sorry, Jude Law fans, but Watson was… lousy, terrible, and to put it a little more bluntly, he was perhaps the worst I have ever seen… need I go on? Yep. First off, he got drunk – twice! What was with that? Seriously? Of the two, Watson is supposed to have the stronger moral compass, not Holmes!!! Sheesh! I didn’t enjoy how grouchy, complaining, cynical, and distrusting and, even disliking of Holmes he was, and I didn’t appreciate how much they had him swear, either! (Yes, I know that Watson swore in the books, but he didn’t use those swear words, or that often!) I was not convinced that he even liked Holmes very much at all, and I could see no reason why Holmes would even bother his head about him. (Now, I’ll admit, it may be different from my point of view because I didn’t watch the first one.) Now that’s a thing I’ve got to have in my Watson – he must like (dare I say it, “love”) his Holmes, and his Holmes must feel the same way back!! I always say that Watson must not be able to do without his Holmes, and Holmes must not be able to do without his Watson – I saw Holmes slightly needing (or rather, wanting) Watson, but I saw Watson rather resenting Holmes. And that made me mad.

Well, anyway, I think, if it hadn’t tried to be a Sherlock Holmes movie, I would have liked it very much, and if they would have (I know it sounds like sacrilege) gotten rid of Watson, I would have liked it even more. I liked the move as a whole, and I do like Robert Downy Jr. and Moriarty (and Moran for that matter) and the ending scene… but that was about it. Please, Mr. Downey Jr. stay as Iron Man, and I will continue to love you, keep desecrating (ok, so that may be too harsh of a word) my dear Sherlock Holmes, and I can’t promise anything… no wait, let me rephrase that, stay as Iron man and fire Jude Law, and then I will continue to love you. How’s that for a bargain? 😀