Articles by " Adam"
6 Jan
2015

It’s all elementary, really.

If any day is espe­cial­ly suit­ed to the cel­e­bra­tion of Sher­lock Holmes, it’s his birth­day, Jan­u­ary 6th!  (i.e. today!)  Sure, there are plen­ty of great detec­tives in pop cul­ture.  The bril­liance of Christie’s Poirot and Miss Marple is not to be ignored, Sayers’s Lord Peter is a pip, Colum­bo and Monk are great, and of course there’s Bat­man the World’s Great­est Detec­tive (some peo­ple say.)  There’s some­thing spe­cial about Sher­lock, though.  Even before the incred­i­ble mod­ern reboot intro­duced us to the oth­er-world­ly bril­liance of Bene­dict Cum­ber­batch & co., Sher­lock Holmes is a char­ac­ter that brings you into his world the way very few oth­ers do.  Not to men­tion he’s a total­ly awe­some anti­hero!  Every­one loves an occa­sion­al­ly drug-addled mis­an­thrope who solves crimes for a liv­ing!  Or if they don’t they are crazy.  Any­way, in hon­or of Sher­lock Holmes Day, I sug­gest you spend some time watch­ing every episode of the BBC’s spec­tac­u­lar show, Sher­lock.  To aid in your task (there are only 9 episodes, but they’re each about an hour and a half long, so you may have to pri­or­i­tize), here’s a list of all nine episodes, ranked from my least to most favorite.  (Though, to clar­i­fy, they’re all amaz­ing and bet­ter than pret­ty much every­thing else on TV) (Minor spoil­ers ahead.  Unless you know absolute­ly noth­ing about Sher­lock Holmes at all, con­fi­dent­ly read on!)

blindbanker

9.  The Blind Banker (Series 1, episode 2) — Great, but kin­da feels like a place hold­er.  Lots of expo­si­tion, Holmes and Wat­son get­ting to know each oth­er, that kind of thing.  There is, how­ev­er, an excel­lent scene where John tries to explain what a date is to Sher­lock and he doesn’t get it.  3.5/4 stars.

reichenbach fall2

8.  The Reichen­bach Fall (Series 2, episode 3) — Also great, but Sher­lock dies in it, so that’s not as good.  Plen­ty of per­fect inter­ac­tions between all the char­ac­ters, but again, Sher­lock dies.  Blah.  3.75/4 stars.

great game

7.  The Great Game (Series 1, episode 3) — Omg, so great.  We get intro­duced to Mori­ar­ty!  Ah!  And he’s so good, you guys.  If not for Bene­dict and Mar­t­in, it would total­ly be the Jim Mori­ar­ty show.  But again, seems very introduction/exposition-y.  3.9/4 stars.

study in pink

6.  A Study in Pink (Series 1, episode 1) — Oh man.  The intro­duc­tion between Sher­lock and John is so fan­tas­tic, you guys.  And the first case is SO cool!  Seri­al sui­cides!  4/4 stars!

hounds of baskerville

5.  The Hounds of Baskerville (Series 2, episode 2) — Great obvi­ous­ly because of the source mate­ri­al.  The Hound of the Baskervilles is def­i­nite­ly one of the best known and loved Sher­lock Holmes sto­ries.  Also great because we find out Sher­lock doesn’t know Lestrade’s first name.  So Sher­lock.  4.25/4 stars!

his last vow

4.  His Last Vow (Series 3, episode 3) — Real­ly amaz­ing.  You wouldn’t have thought that there could be a vil­lain scari­er and more evil than Mori­ar­ty, but there so is.  Ugh, I hate him.  What kind of per­son licks a stranger or pees in a person’s fire­place?  A psy­cho, that’s what kind.  4.75/4 stars!  Most­ly because it also fea­tures Sherlock’s par­ents who are amaz­ing beyond belief.

sherlock A Scandal in Belgravia 191

3.  A Scan­dal in Bel­gravia (Series 2, episode 1) — The sec­ond series pre­miere fea­tures one of the great­est char­ac­ters in the Sher­lock Holmes uni­verse, Irene Adler!  The Wom­an.  What a great moniker.   Oth­er great moments include my favorite line in the whole series, “I always hear ‘punch me in the face’ when you’re speak­ing, but it’s usu­al­ly sub­text.”  Snark from the one and only John Wat­son, ladies and gen­tle­men.  And also Sher­lock strut­ting around Buck­ing­ham Palace clad only in a bed­sheet.  Because rea­sons.  5.5/4 stars.  Srsly, so good.

empty hearse

2.  The Emp­ty Hearse (Series 3, episode 1) — It’s the series 3 pre­miere and John has a mus­tache and a fiancee!  And we find out pleas­ant­ly soon that Sher­lock was nev­er real­ly dead!  Very good, since with­out him there’s not much of a show.  Sec­ond best because it intro­duces Mary who’s prob­a­bly the best non-Sher­lock char­ac­ter in the show.  Yes, even bet­ter than John and Mori­ar­ty.  She’s so good, guys.  10/4 stars!

sign of three

1.  The Sign of Three (Series 3, episode 2) — This episode is the absolute best for a bunch of rea­sons.  1. John and Mary get mar­ried which is the cutest.  2. Sher­lock is John’s best man and it’s prob­a­bly the most feels in the entire known uni­verse.  If I ever give a best man speech, I real­ly hope that it’s half as good as Sherlock’s because if I can do that, I’ll have won at life.  3. The boys are even solv­ing mur­ders on John’s wed­ding day, which is pret­ty hard­core.

So that’s it!  Go watch Sher­lock and be amazed and enthralled.

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3 Jan
2015

Happy birthday, J.R.R. Tolkien! Or, who I want to be when I grow up.

Also, I want to make my initials into a sweet logo.

Also, I want to make my ini­tials into a sweet logo.

So I’ve told you that I love J.R.R. Tolkien a mil­lion times.  What I haven’t told you is why I love Tolkien.  And since today is his birth­day (Jan­u­ary 3rd 2014 would have made him 122), I fig­ured I’d give you the run-down.

While I don’t do it as often or as much as I ought to, I do write fic­tion.  So in the most basic sense, I want to be Tolkien.  To be more accu­rate, I want to pro­duce some­thing of the same cal­iber as the world he cre­at­ed, I want to cap­ture people’s imag­i­na­tions the way he did, and I want to have a sim­i­lar influ­ence on the lit­er­ary world.  I feel sim­i­lar­ly about sev­er­al oth­er authors (Neil Gaiman and Jane Austen and may­be a few oth­ers), but Tolkien has a cer­tain some­thing that makes him my great­est inspi­ra­tion and aspi­ra­tion.

His world cre­ation is prob­a­bly still sec­ond to none, and I think that’s some­thing I real­ly want to emu­late.  You can keep your Nar­nia, your Wes­t­eros, and your Hog­warts, because when it comes to world-cre­ation, Arda and Mid­dle-Earth are the bot­tom line.  Some­thing that real­ly stuck with me when I read Tolkien’s biog­ra­phy last year was the idea that his sto­ries, his leg­en­dar­i­um, were to him a kind of mythol­o­gy for his home.  He cre­at­ed his works, but to him the writ­ing was more like a dis­cov­ery of true things than an inven­tion of fic­tion.  That’s a feel­ing, I think, that every writer strives for, and I know that I do.

That’s enough ram­bling from me, I think.  Toast “the Pro­fes­sor” today, and hap­py birth­day John Ronald!

Also I want to look like him when I'm old.

Also I want to look like him when I’m old.

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1 Jan
2015

Kards Unlimited Calendar of Events: January 2015!

JP LOVES NEW YEAR'S EVE AND CHAMPAGNE!

JP LOVES NEW YEAR’S EVE AND CHAMPAGNE!

Hap­py New Year from the KU fam­i­ly to you and yours!  We wish you a hap­py, healthy, and pros­per­ous 2015!  Keep up with all our crazy shenani­gans by fol­low­ing this blog, lik­ing us on Face­book, and fol­low­ing us on Insta­gram and Twit­ter @kardsunlimited!  To find out every­thing that’s hap­pen­ing this mon­th, click READ MORE!

Read more »

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30 Dec
2014

Happy birthday to Rudyard Kipling! Or, no, I’m not an Imperial Apologist, I just love The Jungle Book.

Seriously, look at that face.

Seri­ous­ly, look at that face.

So back in the day, many coun­tries of the world, great and small, decid­ed that it would be super cool to trav­el around the world steal­ing oth­er peo­ples’ land.  This obvi­ous­ly wasn’t the most pop­u­lar deci­sion ever, and nor was it real­ly moral­ly defen­si­ble when you think about it, but hey, things were crazy back then.

ANY­way.  There were some pret­ty great things to come out of the British Empire (and oth­er empires, don’t get me wrong), and one of them was Rud­yard Kipling.  Born in Bom­bay, British India on Decem­ber 30, 1865, Kipling’s inno­v­a­tive short sto­ries, nar­ra­tive poet­ry, and beloved nov­els make him an endur­ing favorite of read­ers of all ages. Fun fact: Kipling won the Nobel Prize for Lit­er­a­ture in 1907.  He was the first Eng­lish-lan­guage writer to receive the award and its youngest recip­i­ent to date.  (He was 42.)

Kipling is prob­a­bly best known for his children’s short sto­ry col­lec­tion The Jun­gle Book which, along with its sequel The Sec­ond Jun­gle Book, is one of my favorite books ever.  The Jun­gle Books tell the sto­ry of an orphaned boy who gets raised by a kick­ass group of jun­gle crea­tures which, I think, is every kid’s fan­ta­sy at some point or anoth­er.  Plus they have oth­er sto­ries like Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, about a mon­goose who saves a fam­i­ly from a pair of cobras, and The Mir­a­cle of Purun Bha­gat about an old holy man who saves a town from a mud slide.

Kipling also wrote a short sto­ry col­lec­tion for younger chil­dren called Just So Sto­ries.  The sto­ries are fan­ci­ful fables about such things as how ele­phants got trunks (The Elephant’s Child), How the Leop­ard Got His Spots, and How the Camel Got His Hump.  They are the cutest ever and you should read them to your kids all the freak­ing time.  Ok, I guess that’s it about ol’ Rudy.  Read on, friends!

just so stories

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16 Dec
2014

Happy birthday to my historical soul mate, Jane Austen!

Who wouldn't love that face?

Who wouldn’t love that face?

So here’s the thing.  Some peo­ple don’t like Jane Austen.  As a rule, I wouldn’t real­ly mind that, because I’m not the kind of per­son who needs every­one to agree with him, but I kind of real­ly need every­one to agree with me that Jane Austen is the best thing in the world.  Most­ly because of all the anti-Austen opin­ions I’ve ever read, the most com­mon com­plaint, by far, is that her books are bor­ing.  False.  Patent­ly, hilar­i­ous­ly, stu­pid­ly false.  I’ve actu­al­ly con­clud­ed that peo­ple who don’t like Jane Austen prob­a­bly can’t actu­al­ly read.  And since Decem­ber 16th is her birth­day, I shall here and now school you all on the love­ly Jane’s intense awe­some­ness.

ccpp

Because if you can read, and you picked up Pride and Prej­u­dice, how could you not be inter­est­ed in Mr. Bennet’s quip, “You mis­take me, my dear. I have a high respect for your nerves. They are my old friends. I have heard you men­tion them with con­sid­er­a­tion the­se twen­ty years at least.”  That’s gold!

Who can read Emma Woodhouse’s hilar­i­ous­ly snarky blun­der, “Ah! ma’am, but there may be a dif­fi­cul­ty. Par­don me, but you will be lim­it­ed as to number–only three at once.”  And not lit­er­al­ly lol?  She’s so ridicu­lous­ly self-sat­is­fied that she becomes a bitch!

And the dry wit of Sense and Sen­si­bil­i­ty, “It is not every­one,’ said Eli­nor, ‘who has your pas­sion for dead leaves.”  So great.  Point being, Jane Austen rules, and you (if you don’t love Jane Austen) drool.  Full stop.

ccemma

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9 Dec
2014

KU’s Simple, Two-step Program for Upping Your Christmas Card Game!

Step 1!  Buy awe­some Christ­mas cards like the­se!

Look at this adorable owl!

Look at this adorable owl!

Look how happy that ice-skating deer is!  He's the definition of jolly!

Look how hap­py that ice-skat­ing deer is! He’s the def­i­n­i­tion of jol­ly!

OMG Rudolph!

OMG Rudolph!

Take THAT fruitcake apologists!

Take THAT fruit­cake apol­o­gists!

Edward Gorey ftw!

Edward Gorey ftw!

It's like a Christmas Where's Waldo!

It’s like a Christ­mas Where’s Wal­do!

When in doubt, flowers and glitter.  In all situations.

When in doubt, flow­ers and glit­ter. In all sit­u­a­tions.

Ugh.  It's so cute I just wanna punch it in the face.

Ugh. It’s so cute I just wan­na punch it in the face.

Yes, those are penguins on a ski lift. And they pop. out.  Like, wtf. Too cute.

Yes, those are pen­guins on a ski lift. And they pop. out. Like, wtf. Too cute.

Dude, pop out cards are the coolest.

Dude, pop out cards are the coolest.

Funny Christmas cards are so good, guys.

Fun­ny Christ­mas cards are so good, guys.

Foiled cards are also super classy.

Foiled cards are also super classy.

And my favorite card ever, Santa with all his North Pole friends.  So great, you guys.

And my favorite card ever, San­ta with all his North Pole friends. So great, you guys.

Step 2:  There is no step 2, dum­my!  You did it!  Christ­mas card mas­tery unlocked!  Send those cards!  All the­se and much more here at KU!  Come and get ‘em!

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8 Dec
2014

KU’s Great Gift Ideas: The Christmas Series! Stocking Stuffers for the Reader(s) in Your Life!

Let’s be hon­est, KU is pret­ty much stock­ing stuffer cen­tral.  San­ta shops here for the stuff he puts in your stock­ing.  Seri­ous­ly.  Also he loves us.  Obvi­ous­ly.  Any­way, here are some stock­ing stuffer ideas for your favorite bib­lio­phile!

Letterpress tattoos!  So you can make your favorite book quotes on your skin!

Let­ter­press tat­toos! So you can make your favorite book quotes on your skin!

Literary wristwatches!  (Also we have a ton more that aren't literary but are frickin' epic, so, there's that.)

Lit­er­ary wrist­watch­es! (Also we have a ton more that aren’t lit­er­ary but are frick­in’ epic, so, there’s that.)

Book cover t-shirts!  They rule so hard, you guys.  Again, we have a ton more designs.

Book cov­er t-shirts! They rule so hard, you guys. Again, we have a ton more designs.

Secular Saint devotional candles!  Here's Vonnegut (he's the patron saint of humanity, misanthropes, and the fantastic!) pictured with his books, but we also have Freud, Darwin, Shakespeare, and several other secular saints!

Sec­u­lar Saint devo­tion­al can­dles! Here’s Von­negut (he’s the patron saint of human­i­ty, mis­an­thropes, and the fan­tas­tic!) pic­tured with his books, but we also have Freud, Dar­win, Shake­speare, and sev­er­al oth­er sec­u­lar saints!

Shakespeare's Star Wars (and The Empire Striketh Back and The Jedi Doth Return) does double duty as the perfect gift for a Shakespeare fan AND THE BEST GIFT FOR ANYONE EVER BECAUSE IT'S THE COOLEST IN THE WORLD!!!!!!

Shakespeare’s Star Wars (and The Empire Striketh Back and The Jedi Doth Return) does dou­ble duty as the per­fect gift for a Shake­speare fan AND THE BEST GIFT FOR ANYONE EVER BECAUSE IT’S THE COOLEST IN THE WORLD!!!!!! Plus, who doesn’t want a Darth Vader cook­ie jar?

The Greatest First Lines of LIterature mug needs neither introduction nor explanation.  Get it.  Got it?  Good.

The Great­est First Lines of Lit­er­a­ture mug needs nei­ther intro­duc­tion nor expla­na­tion. Get it. Got it? Good.

Ditto for the Jane Austen mug!  (We also have Poe and Vonnegut mugs which kill!)

Dit­to for the Jane Austen mug! (We also have Poe and Von­negut mugs which kill!)

All this and much much (MUCH) more at KU this hol­i­day sea­son!  Come down and see us! <3!

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4 Dec
2014

St. Nicholas Day! Or, a story about being a kid!

Man, St. Nick is a baller.

Man, St. Nick is a baller.

Ok, so.  First of all, my par­ents nev­er real­ly had us believ­ing in San­ta.  I don’t real­ly know why, seems like a harm­less enough myth to me, but it wasn’t for us.  When she was in sec­ond grade, my sis­ter appar­ent­ly was telling peo­ple that San­ta wasn’t real.  So her teacher runs into my dad and goes, “Mr. Marthens, Ros­alie is telling the oth­er chil­dren that San­ta Claus isn’t real!”  and my dad goes, “Well you know he isn’t, right?”

snickicon

ANY­who.  St. Nicholas is a real saint from whom San­ta Claus derives.  He was a Greek bish­op who lived in the 4th cen­tu­ry and because of the many mir­a­cles attrib­ut­ed to his inter­ces­sion is some­times called Niko­laos the Won­der­work­er which, if I’m being hon­est, is a pret­ty B.A. moniker.  He had a rep­u­ta­tion for giv­ing many small gifts, espe­cial­ly to chil­dren, hence San­ta being derived from him, but his feast day (12/6) is also cel­e­brat­ed by the giv­ing of small gifts in many coun­tries.

So when we were kids, my grand­moth­er whose father came from a fam­i­ly of Ger­man immi­grants would always remind us to leave out our shoes on the night of Decem­ber 5th so that St. Nicholas could leave us presents.  As with San­ta, I think we knew all the time that the gifts were from her, but some­how St. Nicholas Day always seemed a lit­tle more mys­te­ri­ous and fun I guess because the gifts weren’t labeled.

So if you like giv­ing your kids or grand­kids cute lit­tle toys and oranges and can­dy, teach them about St. Nicholas and leave them some mys­te­ri­ous presents!  It’s the best!

BONUS INFORMATION!  The Euro­pean tra­di­tions sur­round­ing St. Nicholas also encom­pass the cau­tion­ary tales of Pere Fou­et­tard (some crazy butcher guy who kills bad kids or some­thing.  It’s all very con­fus­ing if you’re not French) and Kram­pus! (The super­nat­u­ral Ger­man ver­sion who’s like a hairy dev­il or some crazi­ness.  We have a book about him!)

krampus!

This is Kram­pus. Pret­ty much the oppo­site of St. Nicholas vis-a-vis looks and/or moti­va­tions.

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