Recrudescent

One of the older notes on my idea board is a tiny Post-It™ with just a single word written on it: recrudescence. Wiktionary defines it as: “The condition or state being recrudescent; the condition of something (often undesirable) breaking out again, or re-emerging after temporary abatement or suppression.”

It is primarily a medical term referring to a disease reoccurring; the second Wiktionary definition is: “The acute recurrence of a disease, or its symptoms, after a period of improvement.”

But when I encountered the word several years ago, it struck me as a very good word for this “post-factual” era: the Dark Ages rises again.

It also strikes me as a very good word for this election cycle: this crap again.

It has always been hard for me to believe things have gotten to this point, that it’s even a contest. In a reasonable world it seems you could run a moldy orange against P45, and the orange should win by a landslide.

But apparently we don’t care that much about honesty, character, intelligence, or competence. (Who am I kidding? Have we ever? Seems like we used to, but maybe that was just in our stories.)

It’s the emotion-based willful ignorance I’ve been pointing out for 50 years (for nine years here on this blog). Not that it does any good; people gonna people. Yelling at clouds does help a little. “Better out than in.”

Part of the problem is I took a vacation. I was dog-sitting my pal Bentley for ten days while her mom was on vacation in Florida. Hanging out with her “uncle” is a vacation for Bentley, so I thought I’d take a vacation, too.

No reading my newsfeed, no watching cable news. Just playing with Bentley, reading, watching TV, or napping. It was a nice break.

(It would have been nicer, but the Minnesota February weather was a little brutal. Low temps and nasty windchill factors. It’s exactly why Bentley’s mom goes to Florida!)

§

Anyway, I’m not ready to get into politics, and (also anyway) to the extent I do, it’s its own form of recrudescence — just reoccurring venting like an active, but mostly quiescent, volcano.

But sometimes the lava flows. (Better out than in.)

§ §

One thing I did during my vacation was re-watch the BBC Sherlock series again.

This is (at least) my third time through it, and it really is a very good version of Sherlock Holmes — one of the best ever in many ways.

It was too late to the game to define the character, but it has a lot of fun playing off the established canon. The reoccurring bit with the hat, for instance, was a bit of a hoot, and I adore their Mrs. Hudson (Una Stubbs). In general, I thought the way they weaved in parts of the canon as background and plot makes it a very worthy entry.

It is not without its flaws and irritations, though.

One big irritation has always been that this Sherlock Holmes is a major dick. The canonical Holmes has a much higher “emotional IQ” — is much more of a gentleman socially.

It annoys me that this Sherlock is smart enough to figure out the most subtle clues about people, but remains utterly clueless and uncaring about his personal effect on them.

In fact, Mycroft Holmes (played by Mark Gatiss) is also a dick, and it strikes me that the show serves as something of a vehicle for the show’s creators, Gatiss and Steven Moffat, to really get their inner dick on. The show seems to revel in the dickery of the Holmes brothers.

That part doesn’t work great for me.

I can live with it, and I’ll admit some of it is cute, but a much bigger issue for me is that I’ve come to realize how much I cannot stand Martin Freeman. I’m not sure if I’m reacting to something I’m picking up from the actor or if I just dislike his characters.

I stopped watching the TV show Fargo after eight episodes, in part because I so disliked either the actor or the character. (I also just didn’t care for the show. At all.)

Freeman’s Watson is self-centered and self-absorbed in the extreme and just as socially retarded as Holmes is. Over and over Watson is painted as an oblivious boob, especially with women. (I find it incredible that the Mary this show created (Amanda Abbington) would see anything in him. Their relationship doesn’t make sense to me.)

Watching the episodes again, I realized there’s really nothing I’ve liked him in. (I don’t remember hating his Bilbo Baggins, but it’s been quite a few years since I’ve seen those movies. Didn’t much like him in the UK The Office, though.)

I also realized that the series is really strong for two seasons, but starts to run out of gas in season three. Season four is just weird with its Eurus plot line.

Still, all in all, very much two thumbs up. A definite Ah! rating. I’d even give certain episodes (e.g. A Study in Pink and The Abominable Bride) a Wow! rating.

§

I also re-watched Russian Doll on Netflix.

Second viewing and well worth it. (Funny thing: The first time I watched the show was last year when I was dog-sitting Bentley.)

The show — at least the first season — easily keeps its Wow! rating, and now I’m much clearer on what happens, especially at the end. Not sure if I caught all the little changes, but thoroughly enjoyed watching it again.

I’m a little askance about the upcoming second season. The first season seems very much a complete story to me, and I’m not sure where they could take it from there.

I suppose it depends on whether the underlying reality contains a one-off story about something really weird that happened to Natasha and Charlie — a sort of Twilight Zone event — or whether what happened to them is due to an underlying reality that supports that sort of thing now and then.

Alternately, Natasha and Charlie might represent “patient zero” seeds from which events like split realities and loops grow. It’ll be interesting to see what they do with it. I’d like it best if they completely surprise me with an unexpected direction.

§

Last year while dog-sitting I watched the Electric Dreams series (on Amazon Prime). It’s an anthology of ten unrelated stories all based on short stories by SF author Philip K. Dick.

The other day I noticed an Electric Dreams ebook available from Apple. It’s a collection of the short stories used in the TV series.

So naturally I grabbed it. (Especially since it was only $2.99.)

So far I’ve only read the first story, Exhibit Piece, which is considerably different from Real Life, the TV episode based on it.

A year ago, reporting on the TV show, I’d only seen three episodes, but gave it a Wow! rating based on those three. Having seen all ten, that rating remains solid. I highly recommend the series.

Of course the original short stories are Philip K. Dick, so obviously also highly recommended.

§ §

The Farmer’s Almanac predicted an especially cold and snowy winter. So far the season hasn’t really delivered on that promise, but we are at the point where winter is getting a little old.

At least the days are getting longer. The sun rises before 7:00 AM now (6.56 today) and will soon set after 6:00 PM (5:55 today). For someone who loves light as much as I do, that really helps.

The equinox is only a month away. From then on, more light than dark! For me, that’s really the beginning of summer. (For me, the Solstice just signals the beginning of the end.)

The icing on the cake is that baseball Spring Training games have begun, so baseball season isn’t too far away. I’ve already seen parts of a few games (I’m not quite ready to devote time to baseball; gimme a month).

The bad news is that, to cope with the politics nonsense I’m taking refuge in math, so there are some mathematical posts coming.

Stay winterized, my friends!

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

8 responses to “Recrudescent

  • Wyrd Smythe

    The note in question:

    Or to put it another way: The same old shit. Again!

  • SelfAwarePatterns

    Not watching cable news is a good idea. I recommend it. And I keep my exposure to political news limited to a few sources that summarize things, which keeps most of the emotion limited. It’s just enough to stay informed, but not enough to dominate my mood.

    Seems like I recall the literary Holmes being pretty acerbic. The closest I’ve seen in media was Jeremy Brett’s Holmes. But definitely all the media ones before him presented a more friendly version. I sometimes really miss Basil Rathbone’s version.

    I need to check out Electric Dreams. I finally watched all but a couple of Love, Death, and Robots. Nice. Ready for the next season.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      I suppose I could start watching the PBS News Hour. My Google News feed is okay, and I’ll probably just go with that for current events. MSNBC, to be honest, is mainly my hour with Nicole Wallace, and the attraction is still there (big time!), but the hour’s content is getting old.

      I just finished reading (for the umpteenth time) a few stories from The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. (I’d gotten the free Apple ebook a while back and never read them all.) The thing is, the snark of our age is completely absent in that era. Holmes could be acerbic, sure, especially with his intimates (but that’s what intimates are for), but the general civil behavior of that era constrained all but the worst louts.

      Even by modern standards Cumberbatch’s Holmes is an off-the-chain asshole. (This is repeated acknowledged by the characters themselves, including Holmes.) Freeman’s Watson is supposedly a modifier, but that Watson is just as bad. (That Watson often finds Sherlock’s worst antics secretly funny.)

      What bothers me is how super intelligent Holmes is supposed to be juxtaposed against social ignorance that even I find surprising. They paint him as definitely on the autism spectrum — I believe he refers to himself as a “high-functioning sociopath” and I’ve never been on board with that whole autism = genius stuff. He’s painted as having a kind of superpower, and Holmes is a lot more interesting when he’s a normal person who’s trained himself. Batman rather than Superman.

      But it’s a small complaint about an otherwise excellent series. (My bigger complaint involves Freeman. Man, that guy rubs me the wrong way.)

      I can’t believe you haven’t finished Love, Death & Robots. I envy that! I’m currently re-watching season four of Lucifer in prep for the coming season five, but I’ve decided Robots is next. That was an excellent series.

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        I used to watch the Newshour decades ago, but they lost me when they started interspersing the news with the discussions. I guess they realized a lot of people just tuned in for the initial 15 minutes and wanted to force us to watch the whole thing. They just forced me to get my news elsewhere.

        These days, I get my general news from Google News and a local newspaper site, which I generally only check once a day. For political news, I follow PoliticalWire and Electoral-vote for the liberal view, and The Corner for the conservative slant. I only turn on TV news when some major event is in progress. I do follow a ton of science news sites, but that’s okay since they rarely piss me off.

        I might finish LD&R tonight.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        My complaint with PBS News is the low energy level. It’s so sedate that it’s boring to me.

        I don’t much care for either local paper (one from Minneapolis, the other from St. Paul), and the Minneapolis one has that five articles per month thing (easily enough defeated, but a PITA) trying to drive subscriptions. Lots of ads on newspaper and local TV websites (especially the latter — local TV websites are usually awful), and now they’re getting clever enough to complain about my ad-blocker.

        I’ve considered subscribing to the NYT or WashPost, but that feels too restrictive. I like a newsfeed that takes from many sources.

        I think I’m gonna go finish Lucifer (season four) tonight.

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        I think it’s a deliberate thing for both PBS and NPR to be low energy. Even when reporting sex scandals or axe murders. I forgot to mention, I do listen to NPR in the car, although if a politician is being interviewed, or some political debate is on, I usually switch to streaming a podcast from my phone.

        Luckily my local paper hasn’t started the x article per month thing. As soon as they do, I’ll switch to one of the TV station news sites, or make do with the Google local news section.

        Just finished LD&R. The Hitler one was more entertaining than I was anticipating. Hope the next season is as good.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Yeah, PBS and NPR do have that sedate “fine arts” style. I used to listen to NPR in the car, too, back when I was commuting. I spend so little time driving now that I have to make a point of taking a long drive occasionally just to keep my battery healthy. (Poor Sirius XM couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t renew my satellite radio subscription. I got mail from them once a month for many months. But I’m just not in my car much anymore.)

        That Hitler one from LD&R was pretty funny. I may start re-watching that tonight.

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