My take on the PyWeek 20 theme candidates

PyWeek 20's theme candidates are based on track titles from the motion picture soundtrack for Sherlock Holmes (2009), directed by Guy Ritchie, an action-heavy adaptation of the famous detective fiction of Arthur Conan Doyle. The track titles are themselves taken from lines of dialogue in the film.

Is it poison? is a question you should answer before ingesting a suspicious substance, as poisons cause illness or death when ingested. The world contains many poisonous animals (poison dart frog), plants (poison ivy), microorganisms, and non-organic substances. There is plenty of accidental exposure to poison (one-sixth of people in the USA get sick from food poisoning every year), but in works of fiction you more often hear of poison used intentionally as a weapon, whether with poison gas or a poisoned apple. Figuratively, things made undesirable, like relationships, legislation, or contracts, are said to be poisoned.

In the film, Holmes says Is it poisoned, Nanny? to Mrs. Hudson when she offers him some tea, as part of an unkind joke where he treats her like a criminal suspect. (scene | soundtrack)

Discombobulate means to confuse someone or break their composure. It's a strange, rare word, probably a modified form of discompose, made to sound a little funnier. Anything confusing, such as a convoluted story, can discombobulate. However, I mostly associate the word with confusion caused by physical trauma, like when a cartoon character gets hit on the head and sees stars.

In the film, Holmes uses discombobulate to refer to an attack he uses in a fight scene, during his internal monologue. (scene | soundtrack)

Sheer bloody panic: panic is intense fear that overrides reasoned thought and causes people to behave irrationally. Sudden anxiety takes the form of a panic attack. Panic selling can cause a catastrophic stock market crash. A panic button sounds an alarm or calls for help when an emergency arises. A panic room is a fortified room to hide in during a home invasion or other threat. The advice Don't Panic is written on the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Panic can happen to a single person, but it's most dangerous when it's contagious and spreads throughout a group of people, resulting in mass hysteria. The nature of panic means that even calm, functional communities can become disordered and dangerous very quickly. The famous hypothetical example of a panic outbreak comes from yelling fire! in a crowded theater.

Sheer and bloody in this phrase are both used figuratively. Sheer can mean nearly vertical like a cliff face, but here it means complete. Any mental state can be sheer: sheer ecstasy, sheer contempt, sheer longing. When you realize how significant something is, you're struck by its sheer magnitude. Thin, light fabrics are also called sheer. Bloody can mean covered in blood, but here it's a common British intensifier. It can also be used as mild profanity, as in bloody hell. Scream bloody murder means scream very loud or overreact.

In the film, Constable Clark is very concerned that panic, sheer bloody panic will occur if a certain secret is leaked to the public. (soundtrack)

Purification is a process by which something is made clean (pure) by removing pollutants (impurities). It comes up in chemistry, metallurgy, and other industrial contexts. There are many methods to separate a substance from its impurities, such as filters, evaporation, oil refining, and centrifuges. Water and air purifiers are common household appliances.

Outside of industrial contexts, purification suggests something sacred or spiritual. The ancient origins of the word pure are related to fire, and purification rituals in many religions cleanse the soul of evil while cleaning the human body. Evil villains who believe themselves to be doing holy work, who would destroy the world to remake it better, may see their deeds as acts of purification.

Purification actually does not appear in the film or the soundtrack, although Blackwood fits the trope of the purifying evil villain. This theme candidate was probably based on the track Ah, putrefaction. Putrefaction is a very different thing: it's the decay process that corpses undergo. (scene | soundtrack)

Data, data, data: data is facts, or pieces of information. Data collection is an early stage in the scientific method, and the most mechanical one. Data really only becomes useful once it's analyzed and used to draw conclusions or for some other purpose. Computer systems are, of course, built upon data, and the storage, transfer, and handling of data is very important for all of modern technology. In addition to data analysis and data collection, you have databases, data centers, data entry, data loss, data mining, data points, data recovery, and data visualization. Computer data is often visualized as strings of bits, 0's and 1's, and is quantified in bytes, kilobytes, megabytes, gigabytes, etc. The lovable android who explored the human condition on television's Star Trek: The Next Generation was named Data.

The fact that it's repeated three times doesn't mean anything in particular, other than stressing how important data is. It might also suggest a lot of data, though thanks to modern technology, what counts as a lot changes rapidly. Big data is a vague reference to data sets so large they would have been infeasible to work with in the past, and which require special techniques.

In the film, Holmes theatrically says Data! Data! Data! I cannot make bricks without clay. when asking the police to gather clues for him, suggesting that data is the raw material he uses to build conclusions. This quote is originally from The Adventure of the Copper Beeches. (scene | soundtrack)

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Oh, goodness, it looks like there's a typo in Amazon's soundtrack listing...

Track #9: "Ah, Purification":

Track #9: "Ah, Putrefaction"

Thanks for these theme breakdowns - I always enjoy them :-)
Nice breakdown. Definitely gets the imagination going for how to use these themes!