Holy s#@! I’m old

A feeling has been brewing for months now … the feeling that I’m old. Not, like, nursing home old or black-socks-with-sandals old but oldish. The feeling only recently intensified thanks to two bits of breaking news:

One: Tom Petty died.
Two: Benedict Cumberbatch is now vegan.
Let me explain.

I love you, Tom!!

The Tom Petty thing is self-evident. As I bemoaned the loss of one of my favorite musicians ever, Jake pointed out that this sort of thing is going to start happening more and more as the artists we grew up with  literally get old and die.

The Cumberbatch explanation takes more time. As you’re probably aware, I adore this man, so I know pretty much everything about the guy, including the fact that he quit smoking a couple years ago, then became a father, and turned forty-one in July. Now, apparently, he’s gone vegan.

I’m not against going vegan, but I feel like Mr. Cumberbatch is desperately trying to stop the clock to extend his career (which I’m obviously fine with because I love him). Still, one of my favorite stories I’ve heard him tell is about the time he and Keira Knightley got drunk on espresso martinis the night before filming Atonement and then had to show up on set, run dialogue, and pretend they didn’t wanna vomit. Now, he’s an adult or something and won’t smoke or eat cheese. WTF?

Smokin’ hot.

As someone who smokes the occasional coffin nail, loves cheese, and can’t listen to “Free Falling” without crying, these two bits of information were terribly upsetting, along with the recent realization that my favorite yoga instructor is TWENTY. She can’t even buy beer.

In my own bid to be one of the cool kids, I downloaded Snapchat after a rollicking weekend with a bunch of twenty-somethings in Charleston, South Carolina. Imagine my horror when some of the photos made my neck look wrinkly. I’ve been obsessively coating my chest with lotion ever since.

Apparently, part of the aging process is denying it’s happening by being healthy and adjusting our diets and being mindful or some such BS.  The diet adjustment conversation happened between Jake and I last week when I complained about heartburn, and he looked at me as if to say, “Well, maybe if you didn’t like whiskey and pizza so much …”

I’m thirty-five years old, and all around me, friends are giving up gluten, suffering through back aches, and quitting smoking. Even I’ve become an avid hot yoga attendee thanks to a stupid injury that, if I were younger, never would have happened.

Don’t look at my neck!

The conclusion I have to make is that, in the grand scheme of age, I’m getting older. Fine, I’m not old, but I am indeed getting older. I have wrinkles and grey hair. I have hangovers that last two whole days. Sometimes, I just want to go to bed at nine PM, okay? Still, I’m not ready to go extreme.

Something I learned on that shenanigan of a trip in Charleston: I can still party like a college kid. I can still laugh ’til my ribs hurt. I still get hit on by children (aka twenty-one-year-olds). Yeah, my neck looks weird in photos on occasion, but maybe age is less about what our bodies are doing and more about our points of view. Maybe if we think young, we will remain young?

I can’t be sure. This is my first experience with aging, so I’m learning as I go. Maybe there will be a day when I give up pizza in exchange for zero heartburn … but today is not that day. Maybe there will be a day when staying out until two AM is just too much … but today is not that day. Maybe there’ll be a day when I can listen to “Free Falling” without sobbing, but mmm, no, today is not that day.

Creating the Romantic Lead in Bite Somebody Else: Lord Nicholas

As I’ve made abundantly clear, Bite Somebody Else did not exist in my brain until World Weaver Press signed me for two books. At first, it was a scramble to think of a plot … which was when I realized I was doing things backwards. I didn’t need the plot of Imogene’s love story first. I needed the romantic lead. But WHO would Imogene fall in love with? I was clueless.

Help arrived in the shape of my gorgeous husband. While bemoaning the mystery of an Imogene love connection, he made a suggestion. Knowing I’m obsessed with Benedict Cumberbatch, my husband said, “Why don’t you just base the romantic lead on him?”

Well, that was just silly. I told my husband to leave the writing to the professionals … until I realized he was exactly right. (I hate when he’s right.)

As proven via her actions in Bite Somebody, the character of Imogene is uncouth, irreverent, disrespectful, and totally homicidal. Mr. Cumberbatch is posh, British, disturbingly polite, and … pretty much the complete opposite of Imogene. Which, in romantic comedy, is the perfect personality cocktail.

When creating a love match (in fiction and in life), there have got to be differences and similarities. For instance, my husband is really good at cleaning our house; I am not. We’re both huge Harry Potter nerds, though, so we’re obviously perfect for each other.

In Bite Somebody Else, Imogene and Lord Nicholas Christopher Cuthbert III are hugely different people HOWEVER they both love to dance. Dancing is, in fact, what brings them together in the first place.  (They also both love sex and blood, which makes for some vamptacular uber-passion.)

They’ve got the romance thanks to their similarities, but they’g got the comedy thanks to their differences. Nicholas might think Imogene is beautiful, but he also thinks she’s a maniac. Pretty sure this is Nicholas’s permanent expression in Bite Somebody Else:

And yet, it works, because their disagreements and their banter build a magic equation of character chemistry. My husband, for example, thinks it’s insane that I enjoy the sound of him singing off-key. I think it’s funny that he find me adorable in mismatched pajamas. (I look like a homeless person in the morning.)

Love is less about the perfect stuff and more about the awkward fumbles, adorable idiosyncrasies, and shared moments of extreme embarrassment.

Once I had Nicholas, I had the plot to Bite Somebody Else. The story wrote itself once this ancient British vampire showed up, and I have my hubby to thank. (The book is dedicated to him, after all.)

According to my editor at World Weaver Press, Imogene needed a love story. With Bite Somebody Else running rampant around the world, she now has one, as does once-lonely Lord Nicholas. What is it they say? Love is love, baby, even between a twisted 80s-obsessed vampire and her 350-year-old blood-sucking Mr. Manners.

Get your copy of Bite Somebody Else today:

     

Sherlock and Our Final Problem

SPOILER ALERT. SPOILER ALERT. If you have not watched all of BBC Sherlock’s season 4, stop reading immediately. SPOILER ALERT. SPOILER ALERT.

hot

As of last night, we’ve come to the end of an era. Although some reviewers have been saying things like “this certainly can’t be the last season” of Sherlock, I disagree. Last night’s episode, “The Final Problem,” was indeed the final episode—and the show’s creators, Gatiss and Moffat, had been preparing us all season long.

Well. I say “all season,” but it’s not like we had ten episodes. No, as Sherlock fans, we always only get three, but, in the case of this final season, the three episodes were really just one long episode that culminated in fully developed characters and plot lines decisively closed.

I won’t get into the nitty-gritty. If you watched all of season four, you know what happened (good and bad). After last night’s episode, my husband expected me to be sobbing. I wasn’t. In fact, I was grinning like a goose, possibly relieved that everyone important lived, possibly because the final montage was just so damn cheerful. It took hours for me to wind down from my Sherlock high.

This morning, I reassess as I take a look back at season four in its entirety.

The first episode, “The Six Thatchers,” was brilliantly acted, had a kick ass Cumberbatch fight scene, and killed off one of the show’s lead characters. The second episode, “The Lying Detective,” was arguably the best of the entire series (despite poor Sherlock looking like a beat up drug addict for its duration). “The Lying Detective” is the episode that will win this show awards. Awards should, in fact, be thrown at Cumberbatch and Freeman’s feet for that episode and no one could tell me otherwise.

sherl4Then, “The Final Problem” premiered. I loved the casting of Sian Brooke (I adored her as Ophelia in Cumberbatch’s Hamlet and really enjoy seeing them work together). The revelation of a secret psychotic sister was brilliant. Despite the amazing, again, emotional performances from not only Cumberbatch and Freeman but also Gatiss and Brooke, the episode took suspension of disbelief to a whole new level with its escape room tactics and melodrama.

The further revelations into Sherlock’s childhood were heart-wrenching (as was that tragic “I love you” moment between Sherlock and Molly). Yet, in the end, everything was all right. Sherlock even managed to save his crazy sister via the medium of music. They could finally “play” together.

“The Final Problem” wasn’t my favorite episode. I haven’t read many reviews yet today, and I don’t plan to. I don’t need to. I also haven’t perused Tumblr, because I know the Johnlock hordes are going to be up in arms over the fact that John and Sherlock never kissed and the series is over. Resolutely, the series is over, although for the Johnlock shippers, it could be argued that John and Sherlock are some sort of couple—platonic—as they are back living together and raising a child while Sherlock apparently balances the women who try to love him: Molly and Irene Adler. More importantly, they’re back to being the crime fighters of Arthur Conan Doyle canon.

What mattered most to me in season four was the character of Sherlock and not only because I’m singularly obsessed with Cumberbatch. The show is called Sherlock, after all. The show is about the man, his friends background noise to the great detective’s struggles.

As a writer, I was impressed with what Gatiss and Moffat achieved with Sherlock’s character development. We all remember the coarse man of season one, blind to social graces. In season four, we find a man who has learned to love his friends, protect his friends. He was so soft, even giving a comforting hug to John Watson after the loss of his wife. He saved John. He saved his sister. He even saved his imperious elder brother.

The moment that resounded most was in “The Lying Detective,” after Sherlock’s pained pronouncement of “I don’t want to die” in the hospital bed. It happened while sitting in the quiet warmth of 221B, chatting with John. Sherlock suggested he might come and see John’s daughter, and that moment—that single look—showed how vulnerable our coarse, biting detective had become.

ouch

I realize the famed stories of Sherlock Holmes are thrilling mysteries, and from my time spent reading Conan Doyle, he wasn’t huge on character development, which is where Gatiss and Moffat surpass him. This show wasn’t about a calculating, brilliant man solving mysteries; it was about a calculating, brilliant man becoming weak, human, and ultimately, loved despite his flaws—by his fellow characters and by us, the fans.

People are going to complain today that they didn’t get everything they wanted from Sherlock’s final season. I get that. (For instance, I would have liked the reappearance of Irene Adler in the flesh, as opposed to just on Sherlock’s phone, since she is arguably the love of his life.) Despite complaints, we will all remember this show fondly for not only introducing many of us to Benedict Cumberbatch but for introducing us to a new Sherlock Holmes: a man riddled with demons and yet fighting to keep them at bay for the sake of the people who love him.

As Sherlock perceptively said, “Taking your own life. Interesting expression. Taking it from whom? Once it’s over it’s not you who will miss it. Your own death is something that happens to everybody else. Your life is not your own, keep your hands off it.” Thanks for sharing your “life” with us, Sherlock. It was one hell of a ride, and we will indeed miss you an awful lot, you beautiful bastard.

yep

Sol LeWitt rants about art via the medium of Benedict Cumberbatch

benSol LeWitt was an American artist linked to conceptual art and minimalism who came to fame in the 1960s. He passed away in 2007, but more than just a visual artist, he was apparently a writer, based on a fantastic letter penned to fellow artist Eva Hesse.

Also an American artist, Hesse was a little younger than Sol and seeking guidance as she ushered in the postminimal art movement of the same era—but a brain tumor cut her life short. She died at 34 after a career spanning only ten years.

A passionate letter from Sol to Eva was read at the recent British event Letters Live, during which actors “perform” letters to a live audience. The synopsis of Sol’s letter reads as follows:

In 1960, pioneering American artists Sol LeWitt and Eva Hesse met for the first time and became close friends. In 1965, Eva found herself facing a creative block during a period of self-doubt, and told Sol of her frustrating predicament. Sol replied with this letter. 

As an artist, have you ever been there? Ever wanted to give up? Ever wanted to just stop? Read by my beloved Benedict Cumberbatch (with an American accent and a noteworthy Chevy Chase/Christmas Vacation meltdown), this letter speaks to me.

As I currently struggle to write a very difficult novel, I command all the creatives out there, all the artists, listen … and DO. Watch the video. (And below the video, I’ve included my favorite quotes from Sol.)

“Stop thinking, worrying, looking over your shoulder, wondering, doubting, fearing, hurting. Hoping for some easy way out … and just DO.”

“Don’t worry about cool. Make your own uncool.”

“If life would be easier for you if you stopped working, then stop. Don’t punish yourself. However, I think that this is so deeply ingrained in you that it would be better for you to DO.”

“Learn to say FUCK YOU to the world every once in a while.”

“Relax and let everything go to hell. You are not responsible for the world. You’re only responsible for your work, so just DO IT.”

“When you work or before you work, you have to empty your mind and concentrate on what you’re doing.”

“You don’t have to justify your work, not even to yourself.”

“Try the most outrageous things you can. Shock yourself. You have at your power the ability to DO anything.”

The BITE SOMEBODY Series Fantasy Movie Cast

BiteSomebody_finalThe BITE SOMEBODY series is full of characters. I don’t mean in the literal sense that there are lots of people running around; I mean characters, like the kind of people you don’t forget, either because they’re that weird or they’re that awesome. Depends on your POV.

Whenever I write, I base my characters on real people, usually actors, because I’d get in too much trouble if I based fictional characters on, say,  crazy relatives or that lady who talks to her cats. I digress …

So who would be in the BITE SOMEBODY series movie? You must be dying to know.


Celia Merkin, played by Felicia Day

Celia

The short story that inspired BITE SOMEBODY was first inspired by the TV show The Guild, starring Felicia Day. Although The Guild is about video game nerds, Celia is an 80s nerd, but the parallel just fit, as did the red hair requirement. True, Felicia isn’t quite as curvy as our Celia, but hey, feed her a bunch of cheeseburgers. I can’t picture anyone else playing the bumbling, newbie vamp who makes BITE SOMEBODY so hilariously awkward.

Ian Hasselback, played by Benedict Cumberbatch

Ian

I’m guilty of basing most of my male leads in some way on this beautiful British man. Of course, Ian isn’t British, but thanks to Doctor Strange, we all know Benedict can do an American accent. Ian is a laid back ex-surfer dude with huge, curly, black hair. The actor who plays him will have to infuse some levity into every situation, even while vomiting. (Ian has a weak stomach.) I’m pretty sure Benedict can pull this off, and having him naked in a bathtub doesn’t sound so bad either.

Imogene, played by Sara Dobie Bauer

Imogene

Me. Yeah, I know, I just cast myself in my fantasy film version of the BITE SOMEBODY series, but hear me out. This is not my fault. It was suggested by a first reader, very early on, that I’d accidentally based Imogene on the way I look and, yeah, okay, on my somewhat snarky and morally flexible behavior. Imogene likes boys. Imogene likes rum punches. Imogene likes combat boots and sparkly high heels, and she says whatever she’s thinking, no matter how inappropriate. If that doesn’t sound like me, then … you haven’t met me.

Lord Nicholas Christopher Cuthbert III, played by Benedict Cumberbatch

Nicholas

I know, I’m ridiculous, but Benedict is my muse, okay? Granted, it’ll be hard for him to play all the romantic male leads in the BITE SOMEBODY series, but the twins in The Parent Trap were obviously both Hayley Mills, so there. Whereas Ian is sweet and soft, Nicholas is snarky and strong. He’s red carpet Benedict with his expensive suits and impeccable grooming.

Dr. Rayna Savage, played by Catherine Zeta-Jones

kinopoisk.ru

Everything about Dr. Savage is perfect, and well, Catherine is perfect. She’s a lifelong girl crush of mine, and she’d look absolutely banging in an expensive business suit with sexy specs. Plus, she has the grace to exude that “Oh-wow-you’re-an-idiot” expression that every snotty therapist requires.

Dean the Human, played by Jensen Ackles

Dean

This one’s dedicated to my gal pal Sam. If Dr. Savage is going to have a boyfriend, why not make him gorgeous? Jensen has the pretty boy good looks and effortless charm a vampire-human relationship deserves.

Danny, played by Colin Farrell

Danny

Another hot guy? Yes. Don’t judge me! I like hot guys! For Celia’s smoldering bad boy maker, who better than this Irish stud muffin? He’s got the dark hair and eyes required to play the part, and he’s also got the attitude. He’ll look fantastic in a pinstripe suit, and we already know Colin can play a vampire thanks to Fright Night. He might actually be a vampire.

Vixen the Stripper, played by Christina Hendricks

Vixen

As Danny’s ditzy paramour, I need an actress who can play angry/crazy while rocking red hair and big boobs. Done. Plus, Christina’s overall lusciousness would really do a number on Celia’s self-esteem.

Amora Savoy, played by Penelope Cruz

Amora Savoy

To play the immortal maker of The Great Lover (Nicholas), you better be hot. Ms. Cruz is definitely hot … and maybe a bit of a bad girl. Amora is A LOT bad, but she looks and sounds super sweet. Whenever I wrote her dialogue, I heard Penelope’s cute voice talking. Plus, the woman really knows how to fill out a formal gown. Meow.

Olivier Winsome, played by Jeremy Irons

Olivier

There is nothing cuddly about this leader of a vampire watchdog organization. He loves bossing people around, especially Nicholas, and he is one ancient, ballsy dude. Ever since I saw Irons in Lolita, I’ve been equally scared and in love with this charming English gent. He seems like the kind of guy who could make you smile right before he stabs you. Warm and cuddly … but not at all? Yep, that’s Olivier.

Heidi, played by Helen Mirren

Heidi

I would partially cast Dame Helen just so my husband could meet her and hopefully get to kiss her. BUT I also love her sense of humor and willingness to act the fool. Celia’s landlady and owner of the Sleeping Gull Apartments is obnoxious, overly tan, and never to be seen without her horrific yellow wig. She drinks margaritas and smokes weed. From what I’ve seen of Helen, I bet she’d get down with some bad beach behavior.


So now you’ve met the cast of the BITE SOMEBODY series fantasy film. Have you ordered your copies yet? Sigh. Now, I just need to get to work on that screenplay …

A confession: I objectify men

deadpool

Jake and I went to see Deadpool this past weekend, partially because we like action films and partially because I think Ryan Reynolds is a stunning specimen of man beast. The movie was a blast: totally irreverent, sexy, and action-packed. I greatly enjoyed myself.

On the drive home from the theater, I texted some choice girlfriends to say Deadpool was surprisingly good and “Bonus: Naked Ryan Reynolds,” to which most replied “FULL FRONTAL?” in big, screaming letters. Alas, no, but I did see his ass, which wasn’t quite as good as my husband’s ass but it was still a very nice ass.

I admired the film as much as I admired Ryan Reynold’s butt, which made me think about the way I treat the opposite sex in general. Conclusion: I objectify men. Thoroughly.

This is most obvious on my Tumblr, dedicated almost exclusively to Benedict Cumberbatch, and no, not his acting chops. I reblog any pictures that, ah-hem, tickle my fancy, and I make the most inappropriate (albeit innocent) comments, which include …

“Oh my God, his ass.”

“His hair. Wanna pull on it.”

“I would tear that suit right off.”

The British online news site Metro even quoted me from Twitter, saying, in regards to Cumberbatch, “Dapper gorgeous mofo. High class. Delicious.”

Ha, Benedict. But oh, to be that teddy bear ...

Ha, Benedict. But oh, to be that teddy bear …

These comments might seem tame (and a little stalker-ish, considering I can recognize Cumberbatch by his hands and even the back of his head), but when I interviewed author Caitlin Moran, she went even further.

Re: Cumberbatch, she told me, “I would climb him like a tree. I would do him until security pulled me off, and then, I would wank at him from behind a door.” I found this comment fantastically hilarious and posted it EVERYWHERE.

I asked my husband how he feels whenever I make lewd comments about his physique or, for instance, when I smack his ass while he’s making dinner. (Goodness, I’m really an ass girl, aren’t I?) Jake says he doesn’t mind any of it. In fact, he thinks it’s complimentary.

I’m thankful Jake feels this way, but I still need to acknowledge that I objectify men … and no one has ever complained about it. No one on social media has ever told me to “tone it down.” Even the Moran comment received nothing but laughs and reblogs.

A man could never get away with saying he would “wank” at a woman on social media without getting dragged through the mud of shame, so how come I can say things like this and more? How come no one comes after me when I shout, proudly, “I would definitely tie Ryan Reynolds to my bed!” (And I need to find the street from that Superbowl commercial … )

There’s a double standard, obviously. When men whistle at women on the street, women (some women) are offended. If a woman whistled at a man on the street, the guy would get high fives from his buddies. Why? WHY?

Oh. You were expecting an answer. Ha. Yeah, I don’t have one of those. The simple truth is, I think men are beautiful creatures, and I say comical, improper things about them all the time. Will there be a time when I come under attack? Maybe. But when will that be … and who will be my attacker?

Creative ways to fight SAD in winter

Trust me, this is not a clinical analysis of Seasonal Affective Disorder. This is my list of things I do to pick me up on a day-to-day basis. See, everyone I know has been a little wary, what with me moving from sunny Phoenix to the frigid Midwest. My family and friends know I’ve suffered from depression ever since I was old enough to buy black lipstick. It’s been over a year since I went off anti-depressants, and I’ve been doing great actually! However, with the creeping cold comes some creeping sadness, so here’s my list of STOP SAD NOW!

1. Happy Light / Light Box

There’s the theory that we get Seasonal Affective Disorder because we don’t get enough light. I’m not sure I buy this since I prefer rainy days to sunny ones, but I also watch horror movies to cheer me up, so … Anyway, this was my mom’s idea. Every morning, I sit in front of this big, glowing light. It’s supposed to fight SAD and give you more energy, so why not? I’ve been using it for over a week now, and I like it. I’m not sure I’ve noticed an emotional difference, but nothing like blinding white light to get your eyes open at 7 AM. Here’s an example.

2. 80s Music

Granted, the only reason I figured this out was because of my novel, BITE SOMEBODY, the characters in which adore everything 80s. I dare you to sit still and not smile while listening to bad 80s music. Here’ s an example. Dance, you maniac!

3. Happy Tea

Developed for me by my witchy friend Debi Brady (she’s not actually a witch; I just like to pretend she is), I drink a cup of “Happy Tea” every day. Here’s the rundown:

2 parts St. John’s Wort
2 parts Scullcap
1 part Red Raspberry Leaf
.5 part Peppermint Leaf
(Toss in some Catnip and Nettle for a little boost, too.)

I buy organic herbs in bulk and then mix up a batch of leaves in a tupperware container to bust out and scoop into my tea ball every morning. Sometimes, I use it twice a day. It’s nice with some freshly juiced ginger and orange blossom honey.

*Ben giggle*

*Ben giggle*

4. Find a (Healthy) Obsession

It’s no secret: I’m obsessed with Benedict Cumberbatch. Between work assignments, I troll Trumblr to find new pictures of him smiling. He’s aesthetically pleasing, all right? You need to find your equivalent, whether it’s pictures of puppies, Star Wars trailers, or making canned beets. Find something that can immediately, quickly, drag you from the depths and obsess. I give you permission.

5. The Gym

I joke that I’d be a homicidal maniac if I didn’t work out (I have anger issues), but really, it’s great for my joy levels, too. I go to a fantastic gym, by the way: Everybodies Gym in Chardon. The owner is possibly as obsessed with Halloween as I am, because there are creepy clowns that hang from the ceiling and spooky lighting. I adore it. There’s nothing like a good treadmill pounding to shake the blues away. Add some heavy lifting to get that extra kick!

6. Funny Friends

My closest friends are the ones that make me laugh, and there’s a reason. Laughing is fun, so the more we laugh, the better we feel … So if a friend makes you laugh, you’re going to want to hang out with him/her more. Find funny friends. Find friends who say hilarious, inappropriate things. Find friends who send you stupid videos of their dogs. Find friends who don’t judge you over Cards Against Humanity. And you know that Negative Nancy who just bitches about her kids/husband/bowel movements/etc? Get rid of her. She’s just dragging you down.

7. Talk to Strangers (the stranger the better)

Keri and me.

Keri and me.

We tell kids “Don’t talk to strangers,” but you’re an adult, so talk to strangers. At Big Lots, I was looking at knock-off perfume, and this lady asked me which one she should buy. We spent ten minutes spraying every sample bottle on different parts of my forearm. I reeked for days but left the store laughing. I met my friend, Keri, at a beer fest because I thought she was hot and told her so. Now, she’s one of those “funny friends.” Same goes for Deidre, who told me at a bonfire that she was a porn star. (She isn’t, but I love that this was her go-to response.) Talk to people you don’t know. Smile at them. It’s like a shock of happy to your system.

A final thought: Seasonal Affective Disorder (and depression in general) sucks, and my tactics might not be your tactics. Some people need medication. Some people need therapy. You have to figure out what works for you, but once you figure it out, keep doing it. Lift the funk and live your life. With love xoxo

Cumberbatch’s Hamlet: A study in teen depression

hamlet-gertrude

Y’all know I’m a loud and proud Cumberbitch, so I could swoon for 500 words about last night’s Hamlet performance, but I won’t, because the Barbican Centre’s interpretation of a 400-year-old play was more than a display of Benedict’s fantastic forearms. It was a depiction (strangely) of teenage depression and suicide, despite the leading man pushing forty.

I’ve been well acquainted with Shakespeare’s tragic Danish prince since high school. And then again in college. And then again after college, because I just love the play. Something has always resonated with me where Hamlet is involved, and thanks to last night’s National Theatre Live streaming performance, I finally understand why.

As a teenager, I dyed my hair black and wrote mean notes to myself about how ugly I was. I locked myself in my room and meditated on Nine Inch Nails and Nirvana. I was the epitome of teenage depression. As I grew up, I learned my depression wasn’t going anywhere, but I could hide it so no one knew I was depressed–and I was good at hiding it. Still am.

In the play, Hamlet feigns madness. He reverts to a childlike sort of exuberance. Benedict dons a toy soldier uniform and stomps across tabletops. He is animated, wild, in front of others, but as soon as he’s alone, the tears flow. In Hamlet’s famous “to be or not to be” speech, he ponders if life is even worth continuing. This was me in high school–and so many others. Benedict further represents a troubled teen in his astounding physicality as he hops, skips, and leaps all over the stage.

opheliaIt’s no wonder the man was covered in sweat for the entire performance, ginger curls glued to his forehead. No wonder Benedict has been losing so much weight over the show’s run, too, trying to force down as many calories as possible pre-performance. His already prominent cheekbones were like a razor’s edge.

Ophelia, of course, goes one step further than her precious, beloved Hamlet by actually going mad and committing suicide–doing what the young prince has not the will to do. She loses her first love; she then loses her father. How many teens do we lose to suicide for similar reasons because their feelings are either ignored or overlooked, much like Ophelia, who is left to wander alone offstage into a white light?

The production itself was spellbinding. Benedict Cumberbatch (although an Oscar-nominated film actor) was made for the stage. Not only was he physically impressive (he moves like an eighteen-year-old on cocaine), but his vocality evoked gasps from the audience as he went practically up a musical scale from depressive whispers to rage-filled roars. And okay, yes, he’s absolutely gorgeous to look at. He should wear jeans more often; definitely more often. God bless that ass.

He had a strong back up cast with the haunting Sian Brooke as Ophelia, Ciaran Hinds as an absolutely evil Claudius, and Anastasia Hille as loving, confused mother Gertrude. The special effects were movie quality, especially the final scene before the interval when the entire Danish royal home appears to be alive with swarms of angry, black flies. I give top honors to the fight coordinator who made Benedict’s childish Hamlet into an impressive (and sexy) sword fighter in the big, final duel.

And the ending still hurt. I joked before the show, “I wonder how it’s going to end.” The joke was on me as I still wanted to scream “NO!” as Hamlet shuddered and died in the arms of his one and only friend. If only depression was something we could kill with a poisoned sword.

I can’t say if director Lyndsey Turner intentionally asked Benedict to play Hamlet young. I don’t know if it was her idea to have Ophelia wander into the darkness like a child first learning to walk. Whatever the intention of the director or the actors, the Barbian’s Hamlet was a haunting reminder of the illnesses of the mind and how our own hearts betray us–at any age–but more so as young adults when we’re still trying to understand who we are.

ben

New Sherlock fan fiction: You Were Wrong About Him

john_and_sherlock_by_br0_harry-d4onnvg

You thought my husband was cruel. He said horrible things to you—biting, personal things. He brought out your worst and made you monstrous. You hated him for it, and for his brilliance, his need for blood and murder and work (always the work) with no pay because he didn’t need the money.

You hated him for that, too, his bottomless bank account and the way he wore expensive clothes and that coat. The damn coat. The way he walked with purpose, or rather strutted. You hated my husband because you didn’t know him, not at all. No one did. But me.

I didn’t always. I once called him a machine, before he died and came back, before my divorce from Mary and before Moriarty almost took him away a second time.

That was when it began, when Sherlock Holmes began to show himself to me, and he didn’t mean to. It was all an accident, the way we really got to know each other—the way I got to know myself.

I was beginning to feel my age by then. My war injuries ached when the weather was bad and the weather was often bad in London. I carried lines around my eyes that hadn’t been there when we first met, not when I first set eyes on him in the St. Bart’s laboratory and had no idea my life was about to change forever.

Or maybe I did. How could I not? I was drawn to him as soon as he spoke. Magnetized. I trusted him, God knew why. I killed for him, to protect him. I only realized later that was what we did for each other, always: we protected each other.

John Watson and Sherlock Holmes.

The jokes about us being a couple stopped when I turned fifty and Sherlock, damn him, still looked twenty-five. On the night I began to know the real Sherlock Holmes (and the real John Watson), we were simply confirmed bachelors who solved cases together and lived in the same flat: 221B Baker Street.

It had been days without a case, wherein which I found time to catch up on reading and trash telly.

For a while, Sherlock bemoaned his state of boredom. He flapped around like a limp fish on the couch and sighed dramatically until I turned up the volume to ignore the muffled obscenities he’d picked up at The Yard. He obsessively checked his cellular, but Lestrade, who refused to retire, had nothing to offer.

As the days stretched into a week, we settled into our natural rhythm. I took a few shifts at hospital and tried to make Sherlock eat. Always a battle. I stayed out late one night, consuming perhaps a pint too many with Stamford for old time’s sake and came home to a silent flat.

“Sherlock?”

I wobbled a bit on my feet as I locked the front door behind me. Yes, definitely one pint too many.

“Sherlock? Are you home?”

I wondered if he’d been called onto a case. I was used to him running off without me, although I never liked it. Never.

I searched through a few cupboards for chips, thankful to find no fingers or heads. Some things never changed.

Of course I found nothing to eat. I considered a cup of tea, but as I moved to put the kettle on, I noticed Sherlock’s bedroom door was open. The dim light on his bedside table threw shadows on the hall floor.

“Sherlock?”

I took a few heavy steps toward his door and, well, was shocked to find him … asleep? The door creaked as I looked inside, but he didn’t move so I stood and watched. No matter how many times I’d caught him snoozing at the microscope or taking short blinks in the back of cabs, I still found it strangely miraculous to see the great Sherlock Holmes actually taking a proper rest.

His back was turned to me, but his still shaggy curls stuck up like thick ferns sprouted beneath the soil of a moonlit forest floor. One of his long-fingered hands clutched to the blanket that covered him. I saw one pointed edge of a pale cheekbone. Then, I backed away, tried to leave before he woke. He always woke when I watched him sleep, like he could feel me in his dreams.

Then he whimpered and I froze. He whimpered again, mouthed incoherent words. His fingers closed tightly to the blanket above him. He said, “No, stop, don’t …”

Intellect does not dissuade nightmares.

I moved to the bed and put one hand on his shoulder. “Sherlock.” I said his name again, louder. And again.

He sat up suddenly. “John.”

“Sherlock. You all right, mate?”

“Of course.” He pushed out of bed and past me. I listened to his bare feet patter into the bathroom. The door closed behind him.

When I reached down to touch his mattress, I found it soaked with sweat.

I returned to the kitchen. After over fifteen years of friendship, one learned not to ask questions of Mr. Sherlock Holmes. But just as I put the kettle back on the stove, his voice poured over my shoulder.

“I need you to stay with me tonight,” he said.

Read the rest at Archive of Our Own.

(Be warned. One reviewer said, “You made me cry a river.”)

Image credit: br0-Harry at DeviantArt

Norwegian Sherlock parodies: Not to be missed

tumblr_m6ded14qFC1qi3ei3o2_500

It’s no surprise to all of you that I love the BBC’s reincarnation of Sherlock Holmes. This is due in part to my obsession with British actor Benedict Cumberbatch, but the show really is brilliant. I’m shite at writing mysteries, but I love (love) watching them, so the brilliance of writers Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss is beyond me. It doesn’t hurt the show’s appeal when both leading men, Benedict and Martin Freeman, garner Emmys for their performances as the immortal Sherlock and Dr. Watson.

Okay, that said, there are so many jokes about how Sherlock and Watson are totally gay for each other. Although Watson just got married in season three, the show doesn’t do itself any favors. There are some pretty long, lingering stares shared between the leading men. Sherlock has no respect for personal space, so it occasionally looks like he’s about to kiss his best mate. And there was that whole awkward “boyfriend” conversation in episode one.

The fans have noticed, and Johnlock (the official term for Watson-Sherlock romance) is rampant in fan fiction and fan art … and most of it is definitely rated R with Watson almost always playing the top, which I guess makes sense since Benedict’s Sherlock is super pretty.

Enter Norway. Two comedic actors, Vidar Magnussen and Bjarte Tjøstheim, have caused quite the internet sensation with their take on the BBC series, and well, I’m enamored. From cell phone auto correct mistakes to “jump-and-kiss” moments, these guys have done their research, and their parodies are not to be missed. (They even mastered the BBC camera angles.)

I present, for your viewing pleasure, episode one, “Oklahomo.”

In case that wasn’t enough, “Mind Phallus.” (Not for underage consumption.)

And for one more laugh, “Missing Shoulder.” (My favorite one, with a shout out to Jude Law and Robert Downey, Jr.)

Thank goodness someone spotted these actors’ resemblances to the real thing, because they certainly know how to make a girl laugh. Happy clueing for looks!