My allergy problem segued into a sinus infection problem, leading to several unpleasant days on which my entire face hurt, but I'm better now and feeling mostly human again.
Today I was reminded that while the Granada Sherlock Holmes series was mostly excellent, towards the end it went off the rails. I checked out "The Eligible Bachelor" from the library. I'd never seen it before, and ye gods was it terrible. About a third of the storyline was based on two ACD stories, the rest was a lot of overheated Victorian melodrama, terrible special effects, and scenery-chewing. Even Jeremy Brett went a bit over the top; only Edward Hardwicke kept his dignity and grace as Watson, but unfortunately he wasn't in the story much.
In another instance of bad media choices, I also checked out The Explorers: A Story of Fearless Outcasts, Blundering Geniuses, and Impossible Success
from the library. I was in a hurry and didn't look closely at it; I just saw from the blurb that it was about the Burton and Speke expeditions to find the source of the Nile and thought it would be interesting. It turned out not to really even be about the expeditions, apart from a few scattered pages. Mostly it's about seven personality traits supposedly associated with explorers, and how they can help the reader succeed in their own life. So, scads of self-helpish generalities and dubious neuroscience. Also, it turns out the author is a frequent
co-writer for right-wing television pundit Bill O'Reilly, whom he enthuses about in the author's notes.
I only skimmed but still managed to be irritated, especially by author Martin Dugard mentioning Richard Hillary as an example of the brave, persevering explorer type. Hillary, Dugard writes, was a pilot "shot down and killed during World War II." Now, this is technically true, but not the way it sounds. First Hillary was shot down and seriously burned. After surgeries, rehabilitation and a lot of badgering of doctors and commanding officers, he managed to get himself cleared for flight retraining even though his hands were stiff from scar tissue. During training he crashed his plane, killing himself and his radio operator. Hillary, when his story is told honestly and not fudged, doesn't strike me as an admirable example of ceaselessly striving for your dreams, but rather an example of the value of knowing when to quit.
I've made at least one not-mistaken media choice by starting to read Chaz Brenchley's Outremer series, which is set in a fantasy version of the crusader settlements in the middle east, aka Outremer. It's a bit grimdark, and given how important religion is supposed to be, the religious issues aren't clearly defined, but it's a good story so far and I like that there are queer characters who are central and have plots roles well beyond their queerness. I should note that the books aren't really standalones; they need to be read in order and so far they tend to end abruptly.
So how are you all? I miss you!