My Week 93: Detective Duos, Plagued by Aliens

Tuesday: I am befuddled by detectives

On Tuesday night, I was bored and there was nothing good on TV, so I decided to watch a show whose title had intrigued me for a long time: “Houdini and Doyle.” From what I understood, it was about a detective duo at the turn of the century, and I love detective shows. My current favourite is the updated version of Sherlock Holmes called “Elementary”, starring the irascible Johnny Lee Miller, and Lucy Liu as Watson. I also adore Benedict Cumberbatch and that little hobbit who plays Watson in the BBC version of “Sherlock”, so I thought I’d give Houdini and Doyle a whirl. All I knew is that Harry Houdini was a Hungarian-American magician, and that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was the Scottish author of the Sherlock Holmes series, among other things. I love magic and I love Scottish fictions writers (or should I say “writer” haha) and I had high hopes for its ability to keep me happily occupied for the next hour. Unfortunately, the TV show was—and I’m being polite here—absolute sh*t. Here are my main complaints:

  • The plot was ridiculous. This episode took place in a town where everyone except the local doctor and a little girl suddenly died. People were just lying on the streets in their period costumes, or keeled over their dinners of mutton and ale. Even the dogs were dead. And so were the mice—I know this because Houdini pointed out a nest of dead mice under a porch in a very obvious way in order to prove—well, I’m not actually sure what he was trying to prove. Houdini and Doyle eventually decided that everyone died due to a large cloud of carbon dioxide which had escaped from a nearby mine and which had asphyxiated the entire town. And as convoluted as that all sounds, it wasn’t even the ridiculous part. The most illogical part of the whole thing was their explanation regarding the survival of the doctor and the little girl. I was hoping beyond hope that since the show revolved around a famous magician that there might actually be a supernatural or magic-y rationale, like they were both alien mutants with super lung powers or immune to the biological weapon that the government was experimenting with or something cool, but no. The doctor was in bed having a nap, and the little girl was sick and was also in bed. Therefore, they were BELOW the gas cloud and escaped its nefarious and deadly clutches. At which point, I yelled at the TV, “WHAT ABOUT THE DEAD MICE UNDER THE PORCH?! ARE YOU SERIOUSLY TELLING ME THAT ALL THE DEAD DOGS WERE TALLER THAN THAT KID’S BED?!” Yep, it made no sense whatsoever.
  • It made even less sense later, when having “solved” the first mystery, Houdini and Doyle then prevented the assassination of the President of the United States at a hotel because they had found a note with the words “King Edward” on it, and after thinking it was about killing the King, they realized it was the name of a hotel and got there just in time. All in one episode of 45 minutes (not counting all the commercials).
  • There were no magic tricks AT ALL. Considering the show stars one of the most famous American magicians of all time, there was a surprising LACK of magic-type stuff. Not even a f*cking card trick. They should have had Houdini in a locked closet, tied up with padlocked chains, racing against time to escape and thwart the assassination. Instead, he just knocked the gun out of the guy’s hand. Boring.
  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was Scottish, yet he spoke with an English accent. Yes, they sound different. The English always sound like they’re trying to schmooze you, and the Scottish always sound like they’re mad at you, thusly:
    English: Darling, can you please be quiet?
    But Doyle was always like “Good Heavens! What the devil happened here, my good man?” instead of “Whit? Awae wi’ ye, numptie!” Yes, I know that the actual Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was well-educated and spoke the “Queen’s English”, but it would have added something to the show if he’d used spicy phrases and unintelligible dialect. The plot didn’t make any sense, so why should the dialogue?
  • Houdini sounded Canadian and the whole show had a distinctly Canadian feel ie: it was kind of amateur-ish, like “Murdoch Mysteries,” where a Canadian detective in the 1890s “uses radical forensic techniques of the time, including fingerprints and trace evidence, to solve gruesome murders” (imdb) along with his partner, female coroner Dr. Julie Ogden . An episode was once filmed in the town next to mine—we were at Wine Bayou bottling wine, and when my mom found out, she ran out on us mid-cork just for a glimpse of Yannick Bisson, who plays Murdoch. I’ve never seen her move so fast. Anyway, I wasn’t sure WHY I felt like it was so Canadian, then I googled it, and it turns out that the show “has Canadian producers and comes from the same production company as Murdoch Mysteries.” Mystery solved.
  • Last, throughout the show, Houdini kept insisting that you always know when you’re dreaming because “You can’t read in your dreams.” This is patently untrue. Just last night, I was reading Facebook posts in my dreams and some of them were just as annoying as they are when I’m awake—I don’t give “amens” to anything, regardless of my state of consciousness. But the kitten video was a-DOR-able.

Anyway, in keeping with the current trend of unrealistic detective duos, like Murdoch and his Victorian female coroner partner, or Houdini and Doyle, I came up with a couple of my own.

1) “What The Dickens!”: This show stars Charles Dickens and David Copperfield, played respectively by Gerard Butler (because he’s a hunky Scotsman, of course—I wouldn’t watch it otherwise) and Matt LeBlanc, the guy who played Joey from Friends. In the show, Dickens has time-travelled to the future and meets American magician David Copperfield. Together, they investigate the disappearance of many large buildings and monuments, and battle their arch-nemesis Uriah Heep, played by Betty White. Because why the hell not? After they’ve solved all the mysteries (turns out it was Copperfield all along), Dickens returns to his own time and writes a very long novel called “David Copperfield” where he makes a LOT of stuff up, (he got paid by the word, after all) but leaves out the detective/magic part because he doesn’t want his heirs to get sued by Copperfield in the future for revealing his magical techniques.

2) “Fitzgerald and Wife”: In keeping with the fine tradition of married couple detectives, this show stars F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda. Every week, they are presented with a new mystery which they fail to solve because they are too drunk.

3) “Robbie and Doug”: This is a Canadian show starring famous author Robertson Davies, who almost won a Nobel prize, and Doug Henning, Canadian magician who ran for Parliament as a candidate for the Natural Law Party, which believes that all the problems in the world can be solved by learning the art of “yogic flying”. In the show, Davies just grumbles a lot about everything because he’s like 90 years old and Scottish, and Henning solves all the crimes by flying around and meditating. (Sidenote: For my readers outside of Canada, it’s important that you understand we DON’T have a two-party system. In fact, when Henning lost the election as the Natural Law Party candidate, he came in 6th out of 10. He beat the Marxist-Leninist Party, the Abolition Party, an independent candidate, and the Green Party. We also have the Communist Party, the Pirate Party of Canada, and the Marijuana Party. I am not sh*tting you. The Communist Party wants to make Canada a Communist nation, the Pirate Party is against copyright infringement and parrot abuse, and the Marijuana Party is all about Constitutional reform and women’s rights. Obviously. No, I’m kidding—all they care about is weed. My favourite party is the Rhinoceros Party, whose platform in the last federal election included creating a lottery where players could win a seat in the Canadian Senate, which is like winning “Cash for Life”, and pledging immediate orgasms at the ballot box to anyone who voted for them.) Anyway, back to the show. It was cancelled when viewers discovered that Henning wasn’t REALLY flying—it was just special effects. If you’ve actually ever seen yogic flying, it’s actually just bouncing in a lotus position, and everyone knows you can’t solve crimes by bouncing.

(PS: I know that neither F. Scott or Zelda were magicians, but I liked it too much to leave it out on THAT technicality. Also Ken just read this, and got really huffy:

Ken: I can’t believe you criticized Murdoch Mysteries.
Me: I didn’t criticize it.
Ken: You called it poorly made and amateurish.
Me: That was a generalization. ALL Canadian shows are poorly made and amateurish.
Ken: The BBC is just as bad.
Me: What are you talking about? The BBC is awesome!
Ken: Next time you’re watching Masterpiece Theatre, pay close attention to the terrible production values!

Ken’s very patriotic, at least about TV. Another thing I love about him.)

Thursday: Plagued by aliens

At the beginning of June, K went on a bus trip to Washington D.C. She also went to 6 Flags Amusement Park, where she won a life-size, blow-up purple alien. It’s called “Trumbo”.

Me: Oh! You mean like Dalton Trumbo, the American writer and director who was unfairly blacklisted by McCarthy for being a suspected Communist?
K: What? No, our bus driver’s last name was Trumbo.

It was bad enough that half of K’s prom pictures feature her and her assorted friends hanging out with Trumbo, but SOMEONE in the house (Ken) keeps posing him in very human positions, and in very unsettling places. The first time I came downstairs and Trumbo was staring out the window with his hands on the sill was bad enough. Then he was wearing a hoodie and standing by the door, looming over me on the hall tree, or lying prostrate on the floor in front of the door after a “night on the town”. Currently, he’s leaning casually against the couch in the back room. The other day, my aunt was over and thought it was K wearing a costume, that’s how realistic it looks. So, in the near future, if I suddenly disappear, you’ll know I was abducted by aliens. And no jokes about anal probes. I’m serious, Ken.

Trumbo 1

Trumbo 2

My Week 2 – Smokehouses and Country Vets

Sunday, When Ken and I Have Yet Another Fascinating Conversation:

When we’re driving in the car together, Ken and I often have fascinating conversations about the things we see. I like talking to Ken more than pretty much anyone I know, because we can talk about anything with complete seriousness. Like this:

Ken: Did you see the barn we just passed? There’s a big sign on it that says “Smoke Barn”. I wonder why.
Me: You mean “Why is it a Smoke Barn?” or “Why label it?” Because to answer the first question, most likely because things get smoked in it, tobacco leaves for instance. Or maybe it’s where people who work on the farm are allowed to smoke.
Ken: No, I mean why put a sign on it? If it’s YOUR Smoke Barn, why tell other people about it?
Me: Maybe the owner is really proud of it and wants people to know that he finally reached his goal of owning a Smoke Barn.
Ken: It just seems weird.
Me: Maybe it’s a liability thing, like for insurance. In case someone breaks into the barn, gets overcome by the smoke and dies, their family can’t sue you because you warned people that it was a Smoke Barn.
Ken: I think that if you break into a Smoke Barn and die, it was pretty much your own fault.
Me: I don’t know about that—I remember hearing about a robber who was on the roof of a house trying to break in when he fell through the skylight and broke his back. He sued the owners for having a faulty skylight and won.
Ken: That’s crazy.
Me: Maybe they should have put a sign on it.

Tuesday, The Day I Pretend To Be A Country Vet:

So I was reading the latest issue of my favourite magazine “Country Living”, because I live in the country but need help, because I’m not really a “country” person and this magazine helps me figure out how to decorate and cook in various countrified ways that make me feel like I can keep up with the other country people around here, although technically I live in a village with a gas station, a video store, and two restaurants. I say two, but there is a currently a plaza being built on the edge of town which is, like, two blocks from my house, featuring another gas station as well as a Pizza Pizza store and a Country Style Donuts place, because of course what every small village needs is national franchises that will run local businesses into the ground. I’m going to digress from my Country Living opening and complain for a minute about the new plaza because a) it’s been under construction for over a year and at this point I’m convinced that the owners only work on it when they win money at the Woodstock casino, and b) we already have some great restaurants in town as well as a gas station called the Diva (a tremendously cool name, right?) run by this lovely East Indian family, as opposed to drag queens which would also be fabulous, and which has amazingly cheap gas as well as dollar store stuff. These people are all local and I will NEVER buy anything from the new plaza. (Unless the gas station is full-serve because I hate pumping my own gas. I would like to be more loyal, but the truth is, I can be pretty mercenary when it comes to avoiding getting gasoline on my shoes.)

Anyway, back to my original topic—I was reading Country Living magazine and it features a column called “Ask A Country Vet”. And based on the questions that are asked of said veterinarian, I can only assume that SOME people in the country don’t get out much. This month’s issue featured the following question: “How can I prevent my cat from sleeping in the laundry basket on top of my freshly laundered clothes?” I’m going to give you a minute to re-read that question. Because I had to re-read it more than once to confirm that I wasn’t imagining that I was in an alternate universe where veterinarians had to actually answer bizarre questions like this. Then I pretended that I was the veterinarian and answered the question thusly: “After you freshly launder your clothes, PUT THEM AWAY. Then your cat can’t sleep on them.” It seemed like a pretty obvious response to me, as someone who has owned cats for many years, but wait—the vet responsible for this column apparently has never owned a cat, and very seriously responded that the best solution was to put a SHEET OF TIN FOIL on top of the laundry so that when the cat leapt into the laundry basket, the sound of the tin foil would startle it to the extent that it would become afraid of the laundry basket, thereby avoiding it. My immediate response to that was WTF??!! because in my experience with animals, scaring the crap out of them does not lead to a happy co-existence.

But the main reason why you do NOT want your cat in your clean laundry is this: Cats are filthy. They poop in gravel and then drag it around your house. I love my cat, but when she jumps up on the bed and wants to cuddle, I try really hard NOT to think of the billions of bacterias that are swarming all over the quilt, and I never, ever high-five her like I do the dog. Now, here’s what I imagine will happen in this whole tinfoil scenario—your cat uses the litter box, and is about to drag some of that poopy gravel into your freshly cleaned laundry on its little poopy paws. Then your freshly cleaned laundry scares more poop out of the cat, ONTO your freshly cleaned laundry. Instead of pissing your cat off, why don’t you try the simple, hygienic trick of putting the laundry away? Then it occurred to me that maybe the editors of Country Living magazine make up these questions because a few months ago, somebody asked this following gem: “Why does my dog chase his tail?”

Friday, The Day I Discover My New Favourite Phrase:

I’m currently binge-watching a show called “Elementary,” which is a modern-day Sherlock Holmes series. The dialogue is very witty at times, and today, during one episode, Sherlock, played by Johnny Lee Miller, who is very awesome, says to Watson, played by Lucy Liu, “Opinions are like ani, Watson—everybody has one”. It took me a second, then I figured out what he meant and it became my new favourite phrase. My previous favourite phrase was “This is not my circus; these are not my monkeys” which I would say to myself whenever the case called for it, which was fairly often. But my new favourite phrase can also be used for a variety of occasions, and sounds pretty innocent until you look up what “ani” means (it’s pronounced ayne-eye, by the way). When I started writing this, I looked up the spelling because I didn’t know if it had one or two “n”s in it, and I discovered another interesting fact, thanks to, that while it means the plural of “anus”, the word “anuses” is more commonly used. Really, Because I’ve never in all my life had the need to refer to more than one anus, so whoever is making its usage common is beyond me. Maybe people who work at hemorrhoid cream factories. Or proctologists. Then I thought about something similar that happened in class the day before (absolutely NOT involving the word “ani”), when I remarked that someone had used two different mediums in their artwork, and one of my students, in the way that only teenagers can do, corrected me and said I should have said “medi-ahhh”, because that was the plural of medi-ummm. So I did what all great teachers do when they’re caught making a mistake, which is to totally make something up on the spot, and I told the kids with absolute confidence that when you are using a specific number in front of a word like that, you use the singular noun form, not the plural, because it was Latin. And nobody questioned it.