Weekly Sherlock Links Compendium (February 15 - February 28, 2014)
Wondering what happened in the Sherlockian world during the second half of February 2014? Les Klinger discusses his interest in gothic horror literature, Steve Doyle talks about his life long pursuit of Sherlockian-centric publishing, the Baker Street Babes interview the minds behind UK Sherlock Con ‘Elementary’, a look at why someone wanted to exhume the body of Bertram Fletcher Robison, role playing on Baker Street, Paget illustrations recreated in Legos, what happens when you combine five different Holmes adaptations to create one seamless video, Moriarty overload, a whimsical look at the ‘rules’ for writing a Sherlock pastiche, Keefauver on the Sherlockian brave new world, a discussion of whether or not BBC Sherlock has diminished strong female characters in the Canon, is Steven Moffat an evil genius or just evil, upcoming Sherlockian gatherings of the Priory Scholars of NYC and the Three Garridebs of Westchester, a new play combining FINA, SCAN and STUD, a Sherlockian conference in the UK spends a day considering “His Last Vow”, an inside look at an event of the Amateur Mendicant Society of Detroit, and more in the latest Weekly Sherlock Links Compendium by Matt Laffey.
This post is dedicated to east coast Sherlockian scion personality and recently departed friend Joe Moran - you will be dearly missed sir.
[Click the above photo to read Francine Kitts’ I Hear of Sherlock's remembrance of Sherlockian Joe Moran. Photo taken at the 1991 ‘Back To Switzerland’ event sponsored by the Sherlock Holmes Society of London.]
Masters of Horror recently interviewed Sherlockian annotator extraordinaire Leslie S Klinger about: how he first became interested in Sherlock Holmes, Dracula and the scholarly side of gothic horror literature; his work as the official technical advisor for the Warner Bros Guy Ritchie Sherlock Homes films; his favorite horror literature and films, what it is like being a recognized world-renowned expert and award-winning author in the Sherlockian world, and more. My favorite part of the interview is when Klinger discusses his greatest accomplishments as a writer so far: ”I was deeply honored to receive the Edgar for my New Annotated Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Short Stories [Edgar Award for ‘Best Critical / Biographical Work’, 2005]. I always explain, however, that I stood on the shoulders of [William] Baring-Gould’s work. I had three great advantages over Baring-Gould: (1) The Internet and its amazing depth of Victorian works (in GoogleBooks and elsewhere); (2) the Ronald B. De Waal bibliography of all things Sherlock Holmes (over 25,000 entries), published after Baring-Gould’s death; and (3) I got to start with the work of Baring-Gould! I spent 37 years reading about Holmes, and it was an incredible opportunity to be allowed to distill that reading into 3,000 footnotes! I’m immensely proud of every one of my books. A great highlight of my writing career was the amazing opportunity to study the manuscript of Dracula, owned by Paul Allen and seen (by 2007) by only one other scholar, who wrote nothing about it.” Check out the entire interview for more insights into one of my favorite Sherlockians, Mr Leslie Klinger.
[Cover of Klinger’s New Annotated Sherlock Holmes, an essential tome for any Sherlockian library and serious fans of the mystery genre in general.]
Dan Andriacco interviewed Sherlockian publishing powerhouse Steve Doyle, BSI (“The Western Morning News”) about his life and work in the Sherlockian world which started at the tender age of 14 when he first received facsimiles of the Adventures and Memoirs to when he began publishing and editing his the legendary Sherlock Holmes Review (at 27 years old), a project that led him to Wessex Press/Gasogene Books and eventually becoming the publisher of the Baker Street Journal and author of the acclaimed Sherlock Holmes For Dummies. For a sense of just exactly how long Mr Doyle has been in the game, check out this fantastic video interview from 1987 featuring a fresh-faced, 27 year old Steven Doyle discussing the SHR, the current state (c. mid-1980s) of the Sherlockian world, the ever-growing network of Sherlockian scholars and like-minded fans from around the world and how no detective will ever rival the powers of Sherlock Holmes. My favorite part of Andriacco’s interview is the following: Andriacco: What is the best part of being a Sherlockian? Doyle: ”Being a Sherlockian gives you a key to a community of simply the best people I’ve been privileged to know. Literate, loyal, amazingly generous, absolutely delighting in the intellectual game of Sherlock Holmes. There’s absolutely nothing like it.” Here, here! Lastly, make sure to mark your calendars for Steve Doyle’s Wessex Press sponsored event From Gillette to Brett IV: Basil, Benedict and Beyond taking place in Bloomington, IN on September 12-14, 2014. The conference will feature rare Sherlockian films, vendors, and an all-star roster of distinguished speakers, presenters, and events, one major highlight being screenings of the 75th anniversary prints of Basil Rathbone’s The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939) and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1939) at the state-of-the-art IU Cinema.
[Screenshot of Steve Doyle at 27 years old reading from an issue of his Sherlock Holmes Review during a 1987 interview.]
Baker Street Babes - Episode 53 finds Babes Kafers and Taylor making the trip to Birmingham, UK to attend a three day Sherlock Con (February 7 - 9, 2014) called ‘Elementary’ produced by Starfury Conventions (a professional UK convention organizer) whose main attraction was an appearance by the one and only Benedict Cumberbatch. Also on the bill were a number of other BBC Sherlock personalities including actor Lars Mikkelsen who played the late, lamented Charles Augustus Magnussen (“His Last Vow”), Jonathan Aris better known as Anderson (wonder if he had the beard?) and set-designer Arwel Wyn Jones - all three of which appear on Episode 53. Find out what Mikkelsen and Aris think about the tremendous popularity of the show as well as how appearing on one of the most popular UK show’s in history has changed their lives. Jones opens up about life behind the BBC Sherlock camera and names some of his favorite sets he’s created. As a bonus, the Babes talk to a sampling of Sherlockian cosplay participants capturing the mood and spirit of the conference through the eyes of dedicated fans.
[“The clues and the evidence have all pointed in one direction, that the only solution for the growing army of fans for Sherlock is an unofficial event. Indeed, it’s elementary! A three day celebration, featuring guest talks, panel, discussions, and a fantastic opportunity for fans to gather around and share their enthusiasm for one of the best shows on TV today!”]
Western Morning News reported on the latest (and perhaps final) development in the controversial debate on whether or not ACD murdered author and journalist Bertram Fletcher Robinson (who died on January 21, 1907) by purposely administering a fatal overdose of laudanum (via Gladys, BFR’s wife), opposed to BFR’s official cause of death which was typhoid fever and peritonitis following a visit to Paris. For those unfamiliar with this controversy, ACD’s alleged motive for murdering BFR was two-fold: the first was an attempt to cover up an adulterous affair [ACD] had with his wife and the second was to hide the fact that [ACD] stole the plot of the Hound of the Baskervilles. “The accusations were the results of research carried out by former driving instructor Rodger Garrick-Steele who wanted to exhume the corpse…and test it for traces of poison….Having examined the evidence, Sir Andrew [McFarlane, the chancellor of the ecclesiastical court] said: “This court has been driven to the conclusion that it cannot place any reliance on as assertion made by RGS which is not backed up by an independent piece of evidence or source. On the basis of the material that he has placed before this court he appears to be a totally unreliable historian." BFR expert Paul Spiring exhaustively explains the details of the controversy in the well-written “Conan Doyle, Fletcher Robinson and the Hound" (BFRonline, 2009) - and for further background see "Did Conan Doyle poison his friend to cheat him out of The Hound of the Baskervilles?" (Telegraph, 2005). If you are unfamiliar with the work of Bertram Fletcher Robinson, I highly suggest checking out some of Paul Spiring’s books published by MX such as Aside Arthur Conan Doyle which features 20 illustrated short stories (1899-1907) by BFR. Spiring’s bibliography of BFR is available as a PDF online as are a number of BFR’s short stories which are in the public domain.
[ACD’s dedication to BFR in the published version of The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902). Spiring’s essay on BFR and HOUN describes earlier and later versions of this dedication plus a variety of references made by ACD in letters to BFR’s participation in the creation of HOUN, all of which make for fascinating reading, irregardless of the fantastic claims made by others regarding ACD and BFR.]
Baker Street: Roleplaying in the World of Sherlock Holmes is a Victorian-era RPG designed for 3 to 5 players where you become an investigator working out of 221B Baker Street solving cases as Dr. Watson during the conspicuous absence of Sherlock Holmes created by Bryce Whitacre for Fearlight Games. “Featuring over 30 careers, 25 unique criminal extras, and rules for making your own nefarious villains, Baker Street features a robust investigation mechanic, easy character generation, and rules for making your own mystery. Some of the unique features of Baker Street are The Sherlock Die, Investigation Scenes, Clue Cards, Social Status, and the Threat Meter.” To date this Kickstarter campaign has 451 backers who have pledged a whopping total of $22,860 (original goal was $3,500) - and there are still 12 days to go! If you’re interested, there’s still plenty of Kickstarter reward levels ranging from pledges of $1, $10, $15,….to major pledges of $100 (appear in the game’s artwork), $150 (receive limited edition hardcover version of rule book). Personally, I don’t know much about RPGs (think Dungeon & Dragons role playing games) but reading about Baker Street makes me want to find a few Sherlockians who are into RPGs. I’ll probably buy this game once it’s released regardless, if just to own the special Sherlockian die (multi-sided dice custom made for playing this game). For an in-depth look at Baker Street check out this dramatic video trailer.
[Rule book for Baker Street - for high level Kickstarter backers there is a special edition hardcover version bound in hunter green vellum with the official seal of the Conan Doyle estate embossed in gold foil on the front. Each book comes in a matching slipcover and will be hand-signed and numbered on the title page by the Baker Street designer, Bryce Whitacre.]
“A Scandal In Bohemia” Illustrated in Legos from MX Publishing is an attempt to capture the interest of younger readers by presenting the text of SCAN with all the traditional Sidney Paget illustrations re-created in Legos! Available soon from Amazon and other outlets, this paperback release is one of the more creative presentations of a Canonical text I have yet to see. Other MX titles geared towards the younger Sherlockians of the world include: Sherlock Holmes and the Missing Snowman (2012) where “a young girl’s snowman has gone missing. Where can it have gone? There is only one man who can help. Sherlock Holmes, the most famous detective in the world.”; two other MX titles of possible interest to a younger crowd include Is That My Holmes? (2013) and Is That My Watson? (2013) written by Andrew Murray and illustrated by Deakin Brook: “It’s so hard to choose, so spare a thought for poor Sherlock Holmes – faced with so many Watsons old and new, what will he do? Who’s too techno-garish? Who’s too teddy-bearish? Who’s maybe too pretty? Who’s in the wrong city? Who’s the right Watson in Holmes’s own view? And is Sherlock’s Watson the Watson for you?”
[A Lego-ized Irene Adler bidding goodnight to a bemused Holmes and Watson at the end of SCAN - click here for the original Paget illustration.]
The Sign of Four ‘mashup’ video, created by the talented Sherlockian from Iowa Monica Schmidt, is an extremely clever video that combines dialogue scenes from various Sherlock Holmes adaptations including Jeremy Brett/Granada Series (1984-1994), Ian Richardson’s The Sign of Four (1983), Charlton Heston’s The Crucifer of Blood (1991), Peter Cushing’s The Sign of Four (1968), Robert Downey Jr.’s Sherlock Holmes (2009), and Vasily Livanov’s “The Bloody Signature" (1979). Played in full, Ms Schmidt has managed to re-create most of the dialogue from Chapter 1 "The Science of Deduction" of The Sign of Four. Let’s hope Ms Schmidt has more video cleverness in store for us in the future.
Doyleockian makes the case for ‘less Moriarty and greater use of non-Moriarty Canonical villains’ when constructing new Holmes adaptations and pastiches. Instead of pitting Holmes against the, one again, resurrected (ad nauseum squared) Napoleon of Crime, Alistair Duncan suggests a laundry list drenched in Canonical depravity, avarice and skullduggery made up of villains such as “Baron Gruner, Culverton Smith, Isadora Klein, John Clay and/or Sir George Burnwell.” Missing from Duncan’s list - though equally capable in the scoundrel department in my opinion - are Josiah Amberley (RETI, gassed his wife and his chess opponent to death), Jack Ferguson (SUSS, assuming Master Jacky’s year at sea served only to refine his sociopathic tendencies), James Windibank/Hosmer Angel (IDEN, even Holmes predicted him destined for greater evils) and Parker the garrotter and Jew’s harp virtuoso (EMPT, because I’m pretty sure a garrotter is by definition a bad guy all around). As the above enumerations show, you will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy (to paraphrase from Obi Wan Kenobi’s description of the Mos Eisley Cantina) than in the Canon of Sherlock Holmes.
[“John Clay, the murderer, thief, smasher, and forger. He’s a young man, Mr. Merryweather, but he is at the head of his profession, and I would rather have my bracelets on him than on any criminal in London. He’s a remarkable man, is young John Clay…His brain is as cunning as his fingers, and though we meet signs of him at every turn, we never know where to find the man himself.” (REDH)]
Girl Meets Sherlock's Amy Thomas posted the whimsically titled “How To Write a Pastiche That Sparkle$!” which includes a number of very ‘helpful’ hints regarding how to compose a successful Holmes pastiche. In light of Duncan’s entry above, I think the most important point is tip #1 ”Include TONS of historical people. It’s called playing The Game. Who wants to read a pastiche where Holmes interacts in-depth with one historical person or situation? Subtlety is boring. Namecheck at least ten real-life characters, or you don’t deserve to call yourself a pastiche artist." I would go even further and suggest that the greater the number of historical and fictional figures included, the greater chance one has of achieving literary fame and fortune. Whenever I get around to writing my pastiche, it will include all three Moriarty brothers plus a fourth James Moriarty (but unrelated to the Professor, Colonel and Station Master) and a James Moriarty-bot built by none-other-than Holmes ‘other’ brother from that masterpiece of all Sherlockian cinema, Asylum’s Sherlock Holmes (2010). My only complaint about Ms Thomas’ list is that she forgot item #6 which goes something like ‘Make sure to establish that your pastiche is truly authentic by mentioning that said manuscript (in which the reader is holding at this very moment!) was discovered in your great-grandmother’s attic in a box marked “Grandma’s Les Liaisons Dangereuses: or Doctor’s I’ve Known and Loved” or similar locations.’
[Thorpe Holmes, the cybernetic-ized brother of Sherlock Holmes, in Asylum’s Sherlock Holmes (2010).]
Sherlock Peoria in “Standing Where You Might Get Finger Slipped” invites Sherlockians, perhaps dubious of the current Kickstarter campaign based around the notion of turning an obscure fan fiction piece into a web series, to pause for a moment and acknowledge the impressiveness of the A Finger Slip project: “We live in an age where a young dreamer can get an idea to adapt an idea based on an idea, with both of the last two ideas based on two other ideas, then raise $13,000 to fulfill that dream, funded by folks who want to see that dream come true…” Brad Keefauver then takes his argument one step further by suggesting that those critical of the project need to remove their blinders and realize that an important aspect of the brave new Sherlockian world is the multiplicity of perspectives now available to Holmes enthusiasts. Keefauver also successfully addresses a point I raised in last week’s post regarding Sherlock Peoria's ambiguity toward this brave new world: “I'm less and less sure of where I stand in our modern Sherlockian world for one simple reason: It's a much bigger place than it used to be and there are just so many, many places to stand now.” Lastly, a point which should be unequivocally un-ambiguous is Keefauver’s descriptive virtuosity as evidenced by the following turn of phrase: “And apparently, “A Finger Slip” has touched a lot of folks’s mental private parts." Indeed it has.
[An artist’s rendering of what the Sherlockian world of tomorrow will look like. If you look closely those are flying deerstalker cars.]
Sherlock Cares ran a reaction piece to the recent Daily Dot article “Sherlock Wrote a Female Character Out of a Classic Story, and Fans Aren’t Happy” essentially agreeing with the notion that Moffat’s adaptation “has modified the ending, and a critical moment, of an original Sherlock Holmes stories in which woman take decisive action and ultimately beat Sherlock Holmes in solving the problem.” In the case of Irene Adler, instead of “beating” Holmes as occurs in the Canon, she must ultimately be saved from a beheading. With Mary Morstan, instead of shooting CAM Devil, she instead turns to Sherlock to ‘save her’ from CAM’s blackmailing ways. The crux of both articles comes down to this: “In the original canon, there are many women whom even Sherlock Holmes admires for their strength of character, bravery, beauty, charm, and, yes, even their relative intelligence. But in BBC Sherlock it seems the women are there to serve “the boys.” And if the women are very, very lucky, “the boys” might rescue them and bestow a kiss…The moral in Sherlock is that women should not be smart, or if they are smart, they should not be ambitious for anything except love and marriage.” Is this evidence of Moffat and Gatiss’ inherent sexism? Does BBC Sherlock systematically morph independent female characters into helpless victims while simultaneously re-asserting the patriarchal status quo? After teasing out the facts (ie. the specific ways in which Moffat altered the Canon and portrayed various female characters) from the interpretation (ie. are Moffat’s alterations clear cut examples of sexism and/or a systematic strategy to put women ‘back in their place’?), do the claims of either essay hold up under close scrutiny or are there alternate, gender-neutral interpretations of either adaptation? Whatever your stance on these issues, the points raised are worth thinking about and discussing.
The Consulting Detective wonders whether or not Steven Moffat is actually an Evil Genius…or just a genius…or just evil. Actually, it only takes blog author Nick Cardillo half a paragraph to decide Moffat is “the world’s most formidable evil genius”, though later Cardillo defines ‘genius’ as knowing ”how to tell a good story” and ‘evil’ as “showmanship and flair”. Hmm, I was hoping for definitive proof that Moffat’s ideas on relationships were cribbed from an ancient book bound and written on human skin or that he drinks the blood of virgin fanboys for inspiration, but no such luck this time. This post does make a good point regarding the somewhat ambiguous role of Mark Gatiss at the BBC and in relation to Moffat. Is it the case that Mycroft is to the British Government what Mark Gatiss is to Sherlock? Perhaps Gatiss is the true, bonafide super evil puppet master pulling and manipulating the millions of delicate threads controlling so-called ‘feels’, that as of yet undiscovered component to the autonomic nervous system no doubt produced in the medulla oblongata and responsible for pretty much anything on Tumblr similar to the sentiment “I just finished re-watching “The Reichenbach Fall” and I had no idea I could feel so horrifyingly dead inside…. Anyone else?" with a #feels tag - oh wait, Sherlock Season 3 has come and gone and I guess Sherlock coming back wasn’t that big of a deal after all; certainly not as big of a deal as Sherlock shooting a dude in cold blood (but come on, he deserved it) and then sent off on a suicide mission only to be immediately recalled because of an animated GIF inexplicably appearing on everyone’s screens. Now that’s evil.
[Is Mark Gatiss the real evil genius behind BBC Sherlock?]
Sherlockian Event Links:
Priory Scholars of NYC will hold their next event on Saturday April 12, 2014 from 12:30 - 4:00 PM at The Churchill Tavern (45 East 28th Street, New York, NY 10016). Please confirm your enrollment via email to Headmistress Judith Freeman (firstname.lastname@example.org) no later than March 29, 2014. The discussion, led by Matt Laffey, will focus on “The Adventure of the Speckled Band.” Quizmaster Nick Martorelli will moderate a SPEC quiz, where the highest scoring attendees will receive a selection of prizes including books, Sherlockian artifacts, comics, etc. All Sherlockian enthusiasts are welcome, from the hardcore Prioryists to the curious newcomers. Make sure to follow us on Twitter and on Facebook for updated info and pre-game discussion. This event is dedicated to the memory of Joe Moran who, for a time, was the reigning headmaster of the Priory Scholars of NYC, circa 1994.
The Three Garridebs of Westchester will hold their next meeting at 1pm on March 22, 2014 at the Hastings-on-Hudson Public Library, NY. The discussion and quiz will be on “The Empty House” and attendees can expect the usual edifying lectures and always entertaining Sherlockian show-and-tell. Check out the 3Garridebs website for more information. On a related check, check out the latest edition of the Foolscap Document, the newsletter of the Three Garridebs.
Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure a theater production put together by the Chatham Players opens on March 7th and runs through March 22nd, 2014 at the Chatham Playhouse (23 North Passaic Ave, Chatham, NJ 07928). Tickets are $20 for adults and $18 for youth/senior. “Join Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson as they face off against arch-enemy, Professor Moriarty, in the Stephen Dietz story inspired by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The case takes Holmes on a final adventure, which includes kidnapping, numerous disguises, underhand plotting twists and turns and a whole series of clues which even has the super sleuth’s sidekick scratching his head…” According to the synopsis, the play combines elements of “The Final Problem,” “A Scandal in Bohemia,” and A Study in Scarlet with further inspiration drawn from William Gillette's Sherlock Holmes (1899). Available dates and times can be found here. (Thanks to Peter McIntyre and Bea Makara for the tip.)
New Directions in Sherlock is a free one day conference sponsored by Sherlock Holmes Past & Present happening on Friday, April 11, 2014 from 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM (BST) London, United Kingdom. “In this one-day symposium, we will screen “His Last Vow”, attend presentations, and discuss Sherlock Holmes, the BBC Sherlock, and aspects of neo-Victorian detective writing. The keynote speaker will be Dr Benjamin Poore of University of York.”
[Spend the day discussing all things BBC Sherlock, focusing primarily on “His Last Vow”.]
Amateur Mendicant Society of Detroit convened for their annual Winter luncheon - populated by 44 brave Sherlockian souls who braved a harsh Midwestern winter - on February 1, 2014 in Birmingham, Michigan. Tantalus of the AMS, Robert Musial, reports on the various goings on including toasts by Gloria Longueil saluting The Woman, Mike Smith toasting Watson’s Second Wife, Rob Musial raising a glass to Mrs. Hudson, Regina Stinson saluting Mycroft Holmes and Jerry Alvin commemorating the mysterious Ezekiah Hopkins; a silent auction where a bottle of one of the 221B Cellars wines (limited to 200 bottles total) went for $90; announcement of the winner of the highly coveted AMS Beggar’s Cup, commemorating the best presentation given at an AMS event in the previous year, which went to both Jerry Alvin and Regina Stinson who both shared in the glory due to a tie; Chris Jeryan's “A Holmesian Menagerie” exploring the Canon's alphabetical bestiary (“adder” and “bee,” winding through “jellyfish,” “kipper,” “leech” and others and on to “petrel,” “venomous lizard” and “whale”); the outcome of the All-Canon Quiz; and finally concluding the luncheon with Anne Musial and David Mohan leading the group in the standard singing of “God Save the Queen” and Lascar Jeryan with the traditional reading of Starrett’s poem 221B.
[Sherlock Holmes, 160 years young!]
Weekly Sherlock Links Compendium (January 25 - February 14, 2014)
While much of the East Coast and Midwest in the U.S.A. prepares to be buried under mounds of snow, I must confess that this latest post might bury even the bravest of Sherlockians under piles of Links and information. Below you will find an exploration of early Canonical illustrations, a celebration of the life and work of Vincent Starrett from IHOSE, a look at three Japanese translations of Starrett’s The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, an interview with Steven Moffat and Sue Vertue on the future of Sherlock, Brad Keefauver explaining why we live in the most interesting of Sherlockian times, a review of the original 1979 Russian Sherlock for those only familiar with the latest Russian incarnation, an interview with Cumberbatch discussing his upcoming role as Alan Turing, Alistair Duncan on elements of the BBC Sherlock fandom, the Babes talking fanfic, a diverse list of 50 essential mystery novels, a list of Sherlock-related films available for streaming online, things to do on Long Island for the Sherlockian enthusiast, a cafe/shrine dedicated to Cumberbatch in Shanghai, Holmes & drugs, Holmes & muppets and much more in this fully winterized Weekly Sherlock Links Compendium by Matt Laffey.
Baker Street Essays #5 (February 2014) the irregularly published PDF newsletter of Sherlockian Writings by Bob Byrne focuses on various aspects of illustrations from the Canon. The feature essay “The Illustrated Holmes,” inspired by the classic Walter Klinefelter book Sherlock Holmes in Portrait and Profile, traces the illustrations of Holmes (from the original STUD illustrations by DH Friston to those of Sydney Paget) that accompanied each story as it was first published. Also to be found in Issue #5 is the short essay “Thoughts on The Evolution of a Profile: Vincent Starrett’s Classic Essay” exploring the final chapter of Starrett’s seminal The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1939) entitled “The Evolution of a Profile”. In another essay “Sidney Paget’s Enduring Influence,” Byrne shows the enduring importance of Paget’s illustrations to historical and contemporary conceptions of the Great Detective by comparing original Paget illustrations with later adaptations - for example comparing Paget’s classic SILV train car depictions of Holmes and Watson with screenshots from Granada and BBC Sherlock adaptations which both pay homage to Paget’s original (cf. image below). Finally, “A Classic Scene” takes a close look at Paget’s famous depiction of Holmes and Professor Moriarty in the final moments of their struggle on the precipice of the Reichenbach, noting a small but significant feature of the drawing which I had never noticed: Paget “had every reason to believe that [FINA] would the last Holmes story, I think that Paget understood the weight of the moment and spelled out his name, instead of using the usual “SP”.” And indeed, if we look at said illustration we see that it is signed “Sydney Paget, 1893" opposed to the usual "SP". I highly recommend downloading BSE #5 (and it’s free!) and then exploring earlier PDF issues which can be found at Baker Street Essays.
[The Paget illustration from SILV (top) re-created by Granada (bottom) is just one example of Holmes adaptors (film, TV, etc) paying tribute to the immense importance of Paget’s imaginings of Canonical persons, places, scenes and outfits.]
I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere released episode 61 a few days ago and I couldn’t be more pleased! The announcement of a new IHOSE episode is always a cause for joy but in this particular case, the subject matter of this podcast is perhaps the nearest and dearest to my Sherlockian heart of any Sherlockian-related subject. I’m sure many of you have already surmised that episode 61 is all about that enigmatic but celebrated Chicago bookman, author of the finest book on matters Sherlockian aka The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1933) who was instrumental in the founding of the BSI yet only attended a single BSI Dinner (in 1934). “The Private Life of Vincent Starrett" is an hour and half conversation between venerable Starrettians Susan Rice and Ray Betzner about VS’s life, work, trials and tribulations, kept expertly on track by the gentle nudge of IHOSE hosts Scott Monty and Burt Wolder's keen sense of when expertise is being used to make a biographical or historical point versus expertise leading the expert (and listener) astray. I consider myself to be fairly well-versed in the life, times and work of Vincent Starrett but it felt like every two minutes or so I was hearing some hitherto unknown Starrettian fact coming out of Rice or Betzner’s brains. Personally, I learned a great deal but I was particularly impressed with the masterful way in which Rice and Betzner narrated their story, making the life of a cerebral book hound with quasi shut-in tendencies a thing of excitement and accessible to all levels of listeners. I know I always recommend finding a 90 minute chunk of time to treat yourself to the latest IHOSE podcast, but there’s no doubt in my mind that old and new Sherlockians alike will want to focus completely on this show - so do yourself a huge favor, find a quiet corner where no person can vex you and lose yourself in contemplation of “only those things the heart believes are true.”
[Starrettian soldiers Susan Rice and Ray Betzner, along with a copy of Rice’s The Somnambulist and the Detective (2000, Musgrave Monograph Number 10 ), recording their IHOSE segment during BSI Weekend 2014 at the Player’s Club in Gramercy Park, NYC.]
Studies in Starrett (as if a 90 minute podcast dedicated to the man wasn’t enough), the blog of longtime Sherlockian and Starrettian Ray Betzner, details his quest to obtain Japanese translations of VS’s seminal The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes. Even though I don’t read Japanese, this is the sort of quest that gets a red-blooded American blogger like myself all hot and bothered. But I’ll take a quick cold shower and let Betzner explain where his quest started…
“The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes in Japan Part 1”: “I was able to determine that there had also been two Japanese editions. Both were translations by Tsukasa Kobayashi and Akane Higashiyama, who have translated a number of Sherlockian classics for Japanese readers. A hardback edition of Private Life was published in 1987, while a paperback version came out in 1992.” Not surprisingly, given enough time and patience - and the Internet and some collector friends - both editions were tracked down and dutifully added to Betzner’s impressive VS library. Not long after Betzner secured his hardback and paperback editions, he accidentally came across a folded-up, one sheet advertisement for the 1992 paperback edition which revealed that “before the first Japanese edition was published, chapters of Private Life translated by Kobayashi and Higashiyama were serialized in the Japanese edition of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine….so the hunt goes on!”
“The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes in Japan Part 2" Betzner shows off the fruits of his labor and explains the differences between both Japanese editions plus some further information about the earlier EQMM Japan translation, stressing one important caveat: “I am tempted to say this is the complete history of Private Life in Japanese, but I’ve been burned too many times in the past to be confident of such a claim. Just when I think I know something definitive about Vincent Starrett, some new tidbit comes to light and I realize I’m still several puzzle pieces short of the full picture.”
[Above you’ll see the cover of the 1992 paperback edition of The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes in Japanese, which is a translation of the original 1933 edition opposed to the hardback Japanese translation which is based on the 1975 Pinnacle Books paperback edition (similar to the 1960 updated version originally published by University of Chicago Press).]
Collider sat down with Steven Moffat and Sue Vertue for an in depth discussion on what’s next for BBC Sherlock, when fans can (maybe) expect Seasons 4 and 5 and the advantages of not being bound to a standard TV season/series model. Even if you’re not a fan of BBC Sherlock, Moffat’s comments on challenging the television season format status quo is a tremendous breath of fresh air: “If we made Sherlock the ordinary way, and did a run of 6 or 12, it would have been over by now…Who says that the only way to make television is to make loads and loads of episodes for five years, until everybody is absolutely sick of it, particularly the people who are making it. Who says that’s the only way you can do it? There are other ways to make television. I’ve heard so many American showrunners talk about the shorter run – which for them is 12 or 13, but that’s quite a long run for us – and that all you’re losing are the filler episodes, and I think that’s true. I do think that sharpening the appetite and having shorter runs of more shows is a better way.” Hallelujah! Next time you find yourself complaining about the perceived dearth of BBC Sherlock episodes, consider the ‘less is more’ philosophy advocated by Moffat.
[Steven Moffat and Sue Vertue, ostensibly pleasant and good-natured people, are secretly (and delightfully) plotting the emotional destruction of their legions of fans - or so listening to the perennial lamenting of a portion of the Sherlock fandom might lead you to believe. The truth? Let’s just assume it’s somewhere in the middle.]
Sherlock Peoria muses on the current state of the Sherlockian world, comparing the effect which recent Sherlock-mania has had on the traditional Holmes world to that of a small, quiet village suddenly finding itself in the midst a giant modern housing development replete with big box chain stores and all the traffic and congestion which inevitably follows. An odd metaphor to choose, yet the point is clear: the Sherlockian world of 2014 is radically different than the Sherlockian world of just a decade before (and there’s no ‘going back’). Regardless of your personal stance on said changes most observers would agree with Brad Keefauver when he adds that “watching the Sherlock boom’s effect on the old school Sherlockian world has been interesting.” For long time readers of Mr Keefauver’s blog, it’s sometimes unclear where exactly he stands regarding the brave new Holmesian world we find growing around us every day. Note: I don’t claim to be an expert in Keefauverian Studies, but just an attentive Sherlock Peoria reader (P.S. Please bring back Action Sherlock Brain Theater!)
I sense that Keefauver’s personal view is a nuanced, pragmatic conception which goes beyond a simple reactionary, binary world view (ie. not ‘totally good’ and not ‘totally bad’), though perhaps he’s leaning a bit more to the positive than the negative, which would explain Keefauver’s explanation: “But man, is this a cool time to be a Sherlockian," a sentiment shared by many a Sherlockian on either side of the great continuum. After finishing the essay, a single deafening quote frantically ran circles around my brain: I of course refer to that famous Chinese curse: "May you live in interesting times…" In order to get said quote out of my head, I looked up the actual origin of the phrase (surprise, it’s not really an ancient Chinese proverb at all) and the only actual ancient Chinese proverb it even remotely resembles goes something like this: "It’s better to be a dog in a peaceful time than be a man in a chaotic period." Strangely comforted, I held myself back from mentioning the dog that did nothing in peaceful times and instead found the following image to accompany this entry:
[For a fascinating perspective on Sherlockian ‘boom’ times, check out back issues of Baker Street Miscellanea from the late 1970s (or order the entire run on disc from Battered Silicon Dispatch Box) when the Sherlockian world was then dealing with an enormous upsurge in Holmesian interest generated by the recent book and film versions of The Seven-Per-Cent Solution as well as a smattering of other new Sherlock pastiches. As you can probably guess some welcomed the newcomers and praised the new conduits that sparked the interest of new recruits - and others were up-in-arms over the dawning apocalypse being visited upon their Sherlockian world.]
The Consulting Detective describes the author’s recent first encounter with the original Russian Sherlock Holmes (1979 - 1986) - featuring Vasily Livanov as Sherlock Holmes and Vitaly Solomin as Dr Watson: “overall its en excellent representation of the Arthur Conan Doyle canon. Despite the fact that Vasily Livanov’s Holmes is played somewhat against type, he lends an excellent performance as a humane Holmes. The friendship between Holmes and Watson is excellently characterized, defined with good humor and rapport.” Every time I read a new review of the original Russian Sherlock Holmes series I immediately want to drop whatever it is I’m working on (ie. usually another round of Weekly Links), turn on the series somewhere near the early-middle (perhaps the scene where you’re never really sure whether you’re watching Moriarty and Moran or the Wolfman and his monster associates) and thoroughly enjoy what I often times feel is the second best Holmes adaptation of all time (Granada/Brett taking first place). I’m often shocked when Sherlockian friends - often times with decades more experience behind them - casually mention they have never seen Livanov and Solomin as the Dynamic Duo of Victorian crime fighting. Seriously, if you haven’t seen this series yet, make the time!
[Hey, remember when Sherlock Holmes was not just a chemist but a profound chemist? Unlike pretty much every Holmes adaptation ever (excluding Granada), the classic Russian Holmes series never lets you forget that Holmes is a chemist of no small talent, just like it should be.]
USA Today ran a mostly puffy puff interview piece with Benedict Cumberbatch discussing the possible casting of BC in JJ Abraham’s bizzaro-world take on Star Wars and whether or not BC has a paramour or is completely single and enjoying being the most popular man on the planet. Wading through the fluff, BC does speak-up about his upcoming roll as Alan Turing, mathematician, WWII code breaking hero and, at the end of his life, shamefully and completely disgraced by the UK Justice system (which still prosecuted accusations of Sodomy): “[Cumberbatch] expresses displeasure only when an interviewer mentions that the late Turing received a royal pardon recently for 1950s criminal charges of gross indecency related to homosexuality. “The only person that should be pardoning anybody is him. Hopefully, the film will bring to the fore what an extraordinary human being he was and how appalling (his treatment by the government was). It’s a really shameful, disgraceful part of our history,” [Cumberbatch] says of his The Imitation Game character.” Without the genius of Allan Turing, computers might not exist or not exist at the level in which they do today as well as a variety of other artificial intelligence and information theory concepts. I can only hope that BC’s fame will help bring greater awareness to Turing’s story.
[Sherlock Holmes, Smaug, Julian Assange, Khan from Star Trek, Stephen Hawking (seriously, in a made for TV movie called Hawking) and now Allan Turing - is there anyone famous who doesn’t happen to look like Benedict Cumberbatch?]
Doyleockian gently suggests that certain extreme wings of the so-called fandom “need to get a grip” further explaining “I don’t pretend to know an awful lot about the activities of fandom – and by this I am referring to the social media savvy fans whose Sherlockian interest largely revolves around BBC Sherlock – but as a body it can be awfully touchy and has a tendency to the very intolerance it seems to identify and abhor in others.” Strong words of course, but well thought-out and sincere words all the same - for those familiar with Alistair Duncan and/or his Sherlock-centric writings it should come as no surprise to see Duncan not only develop his own, independent views on the topic at hand (in this case, the collective behavior of at least part of the Sherlock fandom) but also prepare in advance a defense should the need arise.
Frankly, I’m rather surprised his post, originally published 30 January, 2014 under the clearly provocative title: “Some elements of fandom need to get a grip”, only generated 10 or so direct Comments. Secretly I thought that Duncan’s short post might possess the perfect mix of l’attitude provocative and measured objectivity triggering a larger dialogue (disguised at first perhaps as an argument) between various fandom culture supporters and detractors leading to….leading to where and to what I don’t know. Regardless, there are points to Duncan’s original post that many ‘observers’ (all those Sherlockians unconcerned with battling out the finer semantics of “fandom” regularly in the social media trenches) as well as self-identified fandom denizens would be interested in seeing addressed and discussed - though not confronted savagely or uncivilly leading to predictably unproductive ‘flame wars’ and the like. I’ll continue to look out for the next big argument brewing, not for voyeuristic or sadistic purposes but because these sorts of continually simmering, though never boiling, disputes tend to have a way of staying below the radar until the moment that they don’t just boil over but explode in all the passion and madness inherent in the creative minds of the types of people who choose to socialize within the framework of a literary or quasi-literary social group opposed to something more traditional.
[No doubt Boromir has a firm grip on whatever the current controversy might be.]
Baker Street Babes in podcast episode # 52, spoke to the team behind ‘A Finger Slip: The Webseries’ a project meant to take a specific popular fan fiction and turn it into a video series, funded in part by a current Kickstarter campaign….Already I hear a few Sherlockian heads exploding out there - and giving vent to some fine and violent oaths - but let’s step back for a moment and tease out a few points just so that we’re all on the same page (or have the ability to be on the same page). The fanfic is called “A Finger Slip” (AFS) and was originally authored by Pawtal (put simply) and is based on the premise that “John and Sherlock accidentally meet through texts as teenagers”. Got it so far? From what I’ve seen the entire Finger Slip adventures are told in the form of text messages between our two protagonists along with other BBC characters like Greg (Lestrade) and Molly (Hooper). It’s all online and free and you can start here with “Chapter 1”, where you’ll find young, college-aged John and Sherlock meeting and getting to know each other via text messages. Remember, this is fanfic and not burlesque or pastiche so as much as the two main characters are John Watson and Sherlock Holmes, don’t be surprised if the narrative particulars and personalities stray quite far from what you would expect from a fan created (for example) ‘BBC Sherlock-inspired pastiche’ story. Anyway, if you had no idea what anything in the first few sentences of this entry meant, now you at least have a vague idea of what’s happening. Give Episode #52 a listen then if you’re curious come back and check out the Kickstarter page (for more info about the page to screen transformation) and the series website afingerslipofficial.tumblr.com and Twitter @AFSwebseries.
[If fanfic stuff isn’t your cup of tea, I’m right there with you, generally speaking, but the AFS project appears to be popular enough that a basic working knowledge of how Sherlock fanfic culture works could be useful to a better understanding of the fanfic corner of the greater Sherlockian world.]
Flavorwire in “50 Essential Mystery Novels That Everyone Should Read” put together an eclectically comprehensive list of fifty novels which all fall under the rubric of ‘Mystery Novels’ to one degree or another (crime, spy, detective, etc.). For starters, three cheers to Flavorwire author Emily Temple for actually putting thought into a “Top 50 Best X’s” list - it contains plenty of titles/authors you would exactly expect to find on a ‘best of’ list like Dashiell Hammett or Raymond Chandler. But hardboiled detectives are not sui generis aberrations of Nature lacking parents and lineage: hence a healthy sampling of ‘classic mystery’ including the likes of Poe, Sayers, Wilkie Collins and Watson’s Literary Agent. Then the choices get a bit more interesting, diverse and dare I say literary: Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose (OK, this is an obvious and overly popular choice but just once I would love to see Foucault’s Pendulum appear instead), Paul Auster’s The New York Trilogy and one of my favorite novels from the last decade The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon. Perhaps the most interesting and impressive selections is by a scrappy, young, living, female author whose Dust and Shadow transcends the sub-sub-sub-genre of Sherlock Holmes pastiche: I refer to one of Always1895.net’s favorite contemporary Sherlockians and authors, Lyndsay Faye! (Thanks to Les Klinger for the tip!) Irish America posted a recent interview with Lyndsay Faye about her latest novel Seven For a Secret as well as future projects.
[Don’t get me wrong, I think Poe can sometimes be a genius and there’s no question his Dupin stories inspired a genre that lives on after 150+ years but seriously, check out this cover: do they really need to scream “The First Detective Auguste Dupin!!” in giant letters to convince readers to buy a set of Dupin stories, two of which are probably the most famous mystery/detective stories ever: “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” and “The Purloined Letter”?]
Vulture compiled a list of Sherlock Holmes film and TV adaptations currently available from various online streaming services such as YouTube, Amazon, Hulu, Netflix, etc. The Woman in Green, Murder By Decree, my personal favorite Billy Wilder’s The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, Buster Keaton’s silent classic (though not an adaptation per se) Sherlock, Jr., all 39 episodes of the 1954 Ronald Howard TV series, Arthur Wontner as Holmes in what is possibly the most confusingly titled adaptation of all time Murder at the Baskervilles (set in the environs of the Baskerville estate, the plot is roughly based on “Silver Blaze” with Moriarty thrown in to properly ruin Holmes’ vacation plans) and many more. Not mentioned in the article is the great repository of free, classic films Archive.org which has most of the public domain Sherlock adaptations available for streaming/downloading.
Explore Long Island ran a piece titled “Spy Like Sherlock Holmes on LI” making a myriad of excellent suggestions for the aspiring Sherlockian: Warren Randall’s The Long Island Cave Dwellers scion meetings, Long Island’s Murder Mystery Players club, the Spy Shop of Long Island in Northport, the comic shop Collector’s Kingdom with a selection of Holmesian titles, and more. Extra props for a reference to founder of the BSI and longtime Roslyn, LI resident Christopher Morley as well as his writing studio, the Knothole, which lives at Christopher Morley County Park in Roslyn-North Hills. The article says the Knothole is currently closed to visits by the public, but I can’t find any more news on that - possibly it’s just closed in the Winter?
UPDATE: Former Supervisor of Historic Sites for the Nassau County Dept. of Parks, Recreation and Museums, Terry Hunt, BSI (“The Something Hunt”) after reading this entry wrote me the following regarding the state of Morley’s Knothole: “The Knothole has been closed to the public since the BSI’s Morley Pilgrimage in Jan. 2009. We used to open it seasonally; in the spring we’d furnish it as shown in your picture, and in the fall remove most of the furnishings from the unheated building and put them in storage…The big problem is that the County is broke and the museum division essentially no longer exists. I have hopes that we can get The Knothole re-opened for some time next year for Morley’s 125th birthday year, if the Christopher Morley Knothole Assn. and other Morley supporters can show enough interest and volunteer support.” Thanks for the info and congratulations on your recent investiture Terry Hunt! Let’s hope with enough support Morley’s Knothole will one day be open to the public again.
[The interior of the Knothole, the writing studio used by Christopher Morley - which was moved to the Christopher Morley Park after Morley’s death.]
Buzzfeed ran a story about a Sherlock-themed coffee shop in Shanghai, China called 221B Baker Street. It’s worth perusing the pictures but I tend to agree with the author that the cafe is less about Sherlock Holmes and more about being a literal shrine to Benedict Cumberbatch in the guise of Sherlock. I’ve been making a point of not getting swept up in the recent torrent of Western News articles - ie. “Wow! Check out how ‘totally wacky’ China is over BBC Sherlock (cf. Curly Fu and Peanut), etc..” - but since this cafe is so over-the-top I’ll make this one time exception.
[The daily menu board for China’s shrine…I mean cafe dedicated to Benedict Cumberbatch and to a less extent other actors who’ve donned the deerstalker of the Great Detective.]
A random Ebay auction is where I found this rather odd and harrowing image of the Great Detective smoking a suspiciously non-Canonical looking pipe on what appears to be the mean streets of the Marylebone district of the City of Westminster in London where one can only hope Holmes is lecturing the ‘street arabs’ of drag-ravaged Baker Street that “Crack is Wack” (or words to that effect). According to the description, this is an anti-drug comic from 1979 put out by a company called Stash Comix titled “Who Took the Drugs” and features Holmes in at least one story about the perils and pitfalls of drug use. For posterity’s’ sake, I grabbed the cover image off the eBay auction so that one can still marvel at the infinite variety of situations artists have placed the likeness of Sherlock Holmes. It is of course understandable if you assumed this image was an outtake from BBC’s “His Last Vow”, particularly in light of the recently revealed lifestyle choices of one ‘Bill Wiggins’ within the BBCverse.
[My money is on Mrs Hudson in answer to “Who Took the Drugs?” Click this rather disturbing but also highly entertaining image for the full-sized version. Extra blog points if anyone has ever read this comic and can email me a recap the Holmes story contained within.]
The Washington Post, to offset the bleak 1970s version of Holmes seen above, did a thorough job of covering Benedict Cumberbatch’s recent appearance alongside Murray the Monster and Count von Count as they attempt to teach kids the concept of ‘greater than’ in relation to numbers. Warning: will melt even the most ice-hardened hearts of anti-Cumberbunny Sherlockians. Watch the entire two and a half minute segment here: Benedict Cumberbatch and the Sign of Four (or is it Three?).
[The boys from Sesame Street call in the man from Baker Street to help solve the seemingly intractable mystery of whether or not there are more apples or more oranges.]
Weekly Sherlock Links Compendium (January 11 - January 24, 2014)
BSI Weekend 2014 has come and gone and though I have enough personal reminiscences and links to fill multiple posts, I’ve been given the tremendous honor of writing the review of BSI Weekend for the Spring 2014 issue of the Baker Street Journal - and if you don’t already, subscribe to the BSJ immediately!
To tide you over until then, here’s a wealth of Sherlockian news from the last two weeks including: a new website dedicated to Vincent Starrett, I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere celebrates their 60th episode with an engrossing overview of the first sixty years of Sherlockiana, a Sherlock-themed video segment on Mo Rocca’s Sunday Morning on CBS, a transportation expert criticizes Sherlock’s inability to identify trains, the new Russian Sherlock adaptation has been subtitled in English, a roundup of articles on China’s obsession with Curly Fu and Peanut, Sherlock Holmes as the ultimate superhero, a familiar face appears on the cover of Entertainment Weekly, join the Homeless Network on your smartphone, Charlotte Anne Walters published a new pastiche collection of short stories, an argument for why Nicol Williamson’s Holmes is the best Homes ever, who is Michael Stone and why would his conviction “cause the author of the Sherlock Holmes stories to choke on his pipe” and more in this information-packed, post-BSI Weekend, Weekly Sherlock Links Compendium by Matt Laffey.
Studies in Starrett, as regular readers can well imagine, is quickly on its way to becoming my new favorite blog. Maintained by Ray Betzner, the editor of Gasogene Books’ 75th Anniversary Edition of The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, I have no doubt that VincentStarrett.com will soon be the go to source for all things related to Autolycus of Chicago. To date, the site features articles on: Starrett’s connection to Poe’s almost mythical book Tamerlane, a Chicago Tribune Sunday Magazine article from 1969 celebrating VS’s 82nd birthday, an analysis of Michael Kean's recent Baker Street Journal (Winter 2013) article “”And It Is Always…” Eighteen Eighty-nine”, a little known VS short story “The Menace of Mars” (1922) co-authored with Otto McFeely and the Starrett connection to Betzner’s inscribed copy of The Last Egyptian by Wizard of Oz author L. Frank Baum. When not researching the life and work of Starrett, Ray Betzner writes about campus news at Temple University in Philadelphia where he is the Assistant Vice President of University Communications. In the Sherlockian world, Betzner has been an invested member of the Baker Street Irregulars (“The Agony Column”) since 1987, maintains “The Sherlockian Societies” section of the Baker Street Journal and has published numerous articles in Sherlockian journals such as the BSJ, Baker Street Miscellanea, etc. Most recently Betzner was quoted in The Guardian waxing philosophical about what it means to be a Sherlockian and why critics should lighten up regarding BBC Sherlock. You can follow Betzner on Twitter via @BooksandBipeds.
[Ray Betzner, proprietor of Studies In Sherlock, toasting Dr John Watson by noting Watson’s transformation from The War Doctor to the doctor we know and love at the Baker Street Babes’ Second Annual Daintiest Thing Under a Bonnet Charity Ball during BSI Weekend 2014.]
I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere celebrated their 60th podcast episode by surveying the first sixty years of Holmes’ existence, starting in 1887 with the publication of A Study in Scarlet and pausing in 1947, one year after the founding of the Baker Street Journal. Scott and Burt do an excellent job charting and contextualizing the rise of a new kind of popular literature - serialized fiction in nascent publications like The Strand - and the unlikely success of a new kind of detective. Though the story of ACD’s love/hate relationship with Sherlock Holmes is familiar to some, newcomers to the Sherlockian world will be shocked at how inconsequential Holmes was to the young Edinburgh doctor-turned-author and how frighteningly close the world came to losing the Great Detective forever in 1891 to the falls of Reichenbach. The onset of the 20th century not only saw Holmes rise from the dead but also saw the rise of Sherlockian scholarship. Three decades later ACD, never quite having made peace with Holmes, would be dead and buried (with a tombstone that read “Steel True, Blade Straight”), while his problem child (and I don’t mean Denis or Adrian) achieved immortality in the form of small gatherings dedicated to the study and propagation of the sixty stories documenting the friendship and adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson. By the 1940s these informal groups had evolved into full blown societies replete with formal dinners, journals, traditions and the inevitable growing pains experienced by the maturation of an ever growing subculture. You couldn’t ask for more knowledgeable or affable guides to the intertwined worlds of Sherlock Holmes in print and the people and culture that celebrate the Great Detective’s adventures.
[In the beginning there was…A Study in Scarlet published in 1887.]
CBS Sunday Morning aired “Deducing the Timeless Popularity of Sherlock Holmes” on January 19, 2014 which also just happened to coincide with the final day of BSI Weekend 2014 in NYC. What better treat could a Sherlockian ask for - regardless of whether or not they attended the NYC Sherlock festivities - than to watch a Holmes-centric news segment that essentially ‘got it right’. Watch the joy (though some might call it insanity) in the face of Don Hobbs explaining the pleasure of collecting translations of the Canon in 92 languages: “”What doesn’t he have? Tajikistan? He’s got it. Uzbekistan? “I do,” [Hobbs] replied.”“ Listen to Michael Dirda, author of On Conan Doyle, describing the historical and literary significance of Holmes as the first serialized character. Enjoy the pageantry of the 221B Con 2013 costume contest where you’ll find outfits that could only emerge from the brains of devoted Sherlockians. Let loose a little Elementary snark as Jonny Lee Miller talks about his tattoos and fails to comprehend why someone might collect the Canon in a billion languages, while Lucy Lui reassures viewers that she won’t be undergoing sex reassignment surgery to placate those critical of the casting of a female Watson. Finally, once the segment is over, sit back and ponder the multi-faceted world of The Sherlockian in all its glory: the strange and sometimes counter-intuitive diversity, “the unrestrained enjoyment of the present” (MAZI) and the rigorous dedication to a timeless friendship between an anti-social genius and a gregarious doctor with romantic tendencies - then give thanks to the personal confluence of events which led you to Baker Street.
[Above, Don Hobbs discusses what drives a man to collect 92 translations of the Canon. Towards the end of the piece Always1895 and a few of my other favorite Sherlockian sites are mentioned: “[Sherlock] fans met in cyberspace, on sites like the Baker Street Babes, Always1895.net, Better Holmes and Gardens.” While I don’t think any fans actually ‘met’ on my site, I certainly do appreciate CBS mentioning it and if I had a hit counter I’m sure it would be at 1,895,000 by now.]
Stephen Rees’s Blog, concerned primarily with transportation in urban environments, recently commented on a seemingly minor detail from the season three premiere of BBC Sherlock. While many fans and critics took issue with plot holes such as how exactly the villain managed to detach an entire train car and reroute it to the abandoned station or un/under-explained situations like how exactly Sherlock survived the St Barts fall, Mr Rees was “severely disappointed” by Holmes’ inability to distinguish between two types of London trains: “Throughout [“The Empty Hearse”] the abilities of the great detective are demonstrated. He can, for instance, conduct a forensic examination of human hair inside a toque without even a magnifying glass. But he cannot apparently tell the difference between a tube train on the Jubilee Line and the subsurface stock on the District Line.” (Thanks to John Baesch, BSI (“State and Merton County Railroad”) for the tip!)
The Millions contrasts the current hullaballoo surrounding the recent premiere of BBC Sherlock with various historical high points in the Sherlockian world : “Holmes booms have come and gone over the decades - the last major influx of adaptations was in the seventies - and though most are set amongst the old ‘swirling-fog-and-hansom-cabs’, they manage to tap into the anxieties of the ages in which they were conceived.” Below is a graph of instances of “Sherlock Holmes” mentioned per year (1887 - 2008) within a corpus of 5 million digitized books which paints a rough picture of the high and low points of Holmes’ popularity over the last 120 years.
[Ngram view of “Sherlock Holmes” mentions from 1887 to 2008 in Google’s book corpus. Click the image to interact with the Viewer or here for a larger version of the above image. For those unfamiliar with Google Ngram Viewer, it’s a “phrase-usage graphing [which] charts the yearly count of selected n-grams (letter combinations)[n] or words and phrases, as found in over 5.2 million books digitized by Google Inc (up to 2008)”]
Russian Sherlock Holmes (2013), the newest Holmes incarnation to hit the small screen, can now be viewed with English subtitles! At the time of this post Russian Sherlock Holmes episode 1x01 is available on YouTube with subtitles that can be toggled on or off. For more information about the series, I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere posted an overview of the first few episodes. And the Baker Street Babes reviewed a few individual episodes, having exclusive access to a Russian speaking roommate (whom I assume also helped “solve the problem as to whether it is possible to get comfortable rooms at a reasonable price”).
BBC News China reports on the latest ‘craze’ to sweep China’s TV watching public: “”I tore myself away from bed early this morning just to watch 90 minutes of my Curly Fu and Peanut,” said one online comment. “The gay-citement has finally returned. PS: Thank you, Prime Minister Cameron, for visiting China.” "Curly Fu" and "Peanut" are the names given by Chinese fans to Sherlock and his sidekick, Dr Watson, because they resemble the Chinese pronunciation of their names. The “gay-citement” tag? Well, that is used to describe the excitement of seeing what Chinese fans like to think of as the love between the two characters.” The Internet seems fascinated with the, in truth rather endearing, Curly Fu and Peanut monikers and the ‘strange’ Chinese obsession with BBC Sherlock (cf. Anglophenia, Metro, Mail Online, etc.).
[A typical headline proclaiming the Chinese fascination with Curly Fu and Peanut’s (Sherlock and John respectively) bromance.]
Scientific American in “Why You Should Envy, But Not Worship Sherlock Holmes” makes an extremely interesting case for why Holmes should be considered the ultimate superhero: “Despite the flaws, we want to think like Sherlock Holmes, we want to be a superhero of the mind. Why? Why has Holmes endured for so long in the public’s own thinking? Why can everyone, not just the nerdy, embrace the movies and TV shows that feature the detective? I think it’s because Sherlock Holmes is the most realistic superhero of them all.”
[Screenshot from BBC Sherlock - and here is the obligatory t-shirt version at Qwertee, which I kind of think looks pretty cool.]
Entertainment Weekly, in the January 24, 2014 issue, features the very familiar face of Benedict Cumberbatch on it’s cover along with the tagline: “How the British cult hit starring Benedict Cumberbatch became the whole world’s cup of tea.” The article begins with a surprising revelation on what could have been: “Cumberbatch thought twice when Sherlock co-creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss originally offered him the part….Why? “My reservation was ‘Well, this is a very iconic character, there will be a lot of attention on it,’” says Cumberbatch. “This was before I had had any significant success [but] I knew there would still be a lot of focus on it. And while I had done work, it wasn’t stepping into the populist limelight like playing a character like Holmes. So I did have a pause for thought.” According to Cumberbatch, it was the passion and commitment of the behind-the-scenes Sherlock team which ultimately convinced him to sign on for the role. “I thought, If I’m going to do this, if I’m going to step into the limelight with a large leading role of iconic status, then I might as well do it with these people,” he recalls. “They know what they’re doing and I completely trust them. I felt like I was being asked to join the family and have some fun. There was nothing businessy about it. And that’s how to operate it.” Check out EW on Facebook for an exclusive interview with Moffat, Cumberbach and Freeman positing theories about how Holmes survived his dramatic plunge off of the roof of St Barts.
[The world is truly “mad about Sherlock” as evidenced by Benedict Cumberbatch appearing on the cover of Entertainment Weekly - the first time BBC Sherlock has made the cover of EW according to BC fan site Cumberbatchweb.]
Sherlock: The Network is the name of a new iOS app that will allow players to become a virtual member of Sherlock’s homeless network (the BBC’s take on the Baker Street Irregulars from the Canon), “helping Sherlock and John with their adventures.” Available for download on January 20 and priced at at reasonable £2.99, follow @SherlockNetwork on Twitter for updates and tweet #jointhenetwork to unlock exclusive content from the app. I haven’t tried the game yet but I’m curious what readers and BBC fans will make of it - feel free to email me your experience of the first serious attempt at creating an immersive, multi-player networked Sherlock-themed game.
[“New images from the app will be unlocked as The Network grows…”]
Barefoot On Baker Street's Charlotte Anne Walters, author of Holmes pastiche Barefoot On Baker Street (MX Publishing, 2012), announced the upcoming release of her latest book Charlie Milverton and Other Stories (MX Publishing, 2014) is “a collection of five present-day Sherlock Holmes short stories which poke gentle fun at the idiosyncrasies of modern life – not to mention the eccentric detective and his world-weary friend who are at the heart of the action. “Charlie Milverton”, “The Premier Bachelor”, “The Leaping Man”, “A Question of Identity” and “Abbey Strange” are each based directly on an adventure taken from the original work of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, but updated with a modern-day twist.” I thoroughly enjoyed Ms Walters’ Barefoot novel for its unique and, at times, risque approach to the ‘Holmes vs. Moriarty’ dynamic, so I suspect that her latest collection of Sherlock Holmes short stories will be equally engrossing.
[“Instead of the foggy cobbled streets and hansom cabs of Victorian London, we get over-paid footballers, pop-stars, a glamour model, the tabloid press and social media. But friendship and Holmes’ unique science of deduction remain central to each story.”]
The Consulting Detective, inspired by the current Oscar-buzz surrounding the upcoming 2014 Academy Awards, makes an intriguing case for “the most Oscar-worthy performance in the history of Sherlockian film. If there was ever one actor who deserved an Academy Award for his portrayal of the great detective, it is Nicol Williamson who played Holmes in 1976’s The Seven-Per-Cent Solution.” Whether you are a fan of Williamson’s addict-in-recovery Sherlock portrayal or wish that Nicholas Meyer's 1974 bestselling novel had been left to rot in the discount bins of Waldenbooks circa 1975, author Nick Cardillo’s impassioned case for the film’s virtues is a great read: “Williamson’s manic Holmes is a triumph. He presents both sides of the character wonderfully, constantly fidgeting and twiddling his thumbs in a beautiful reflection of Holmes’ unbalanced character. Williamson’s own description of the character, likening him to a fractured human being is clearly seen.”
[“Williamson was quoted as saying, “This Holmes is different: below the surface there is a fractured little boy chasing after a butterfly.”“]
WGN 720 Radio interviewed Bob Madia, a Chicago “screenwriter, editor and Sherlock Holmes expert,” about BBC Sherlock and his take on the current Holmes craze running rampant on both sides of the Atlantic (and don’t forget China). I’m not exactly sure who Bob Madia is but he’s clearly a sincere fan of Holmes and can hold his own when discussing Sherlock Holmes films. Topics discussed besides BBC Sherlock include Peter Cushing, Holmes pastiches available from Titan Books, the upcoming Ian McKellen Holmes film A Slight Trick of the Mind, Myrcroft Holmes’ character and various listener questions about Jeremy Brett and other Holmes film adaptations. I couldn’t find Bob Madia’s name in the Sherlockian Who’s Who database, but it’s refreshing to listen to the perspective of a Holmes fan ‘outside’ of the hardcore Sherlockian community. Along with being a Sherlock fan, Madia is a screenwriter with a few horror and mystery films to his credit (Bob Madia on IMDB) and is currently working on a film with the amazing title Gatorshark vs Zombie Cheerleaders about “a half-shark half-alligator creature [wreaking] havoc at a cheerleader camp full of hot & sexy brain eating zombie cheerleaders.”
[The tagline for Gatorshark vs. Zombie Cheerleaders is - I kid you not - “Half shark. Half alligator. Half naked.”]
Mail Online ran the following headline on January18, 2014: “Boss of Sherlock museum launches £10,000 bid to clear Lin and Megan Russell’s hammer killer because ‘his conviction would have made Holmes choke on his pipe’.” I’m not even going to attempt to unpack this headline so I’ll quote liberally from the article: “The man who runs the Sherlock Holmes Museum has launched a bizarre investigation to try to clear a notorious murderer. John Aidiniantz has spent thousands of pounds – made from tourists at the museum – on preparing an appeal for the man who murdered Dr Lin Russell and her daughter Megan and left her other little girl, Josie, for dead. Drug addict Michael Stone attacked Lin, 45, and Megan, six, in a quiet Kent country lane in 1996. Stone, now 53, was convicted after a fellow prisoner said he had confessed to him. But Mr Aidiniantz believes the real killer is Levi Bellfield, 45 – the man who murdered Surrey schoolgirl Milly Dowler. He has set up a so-called ‘justice department’ in the ‘spirit’ of Sherlock Holmes, aimed at overturning miscarriages of justice, and is preparing evidence for the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), which refers cases for appeal. The armchair detective, who runs the museum at Holmes’s fictional address of 221B Baker Street in London, said: ‘The trial and conviction of Michael Stone would have caused the author of the Sherlock Holmes stories to choke on his pipe." One can only assume that Mr Aidiniantz has been possessed by the justice-seeking ghost of ACD seeking to relive the past glories of Oscar Slater and George Edalji.
[The Sherlock Holmes Museum, owned by John Aidiniantz, has found itself stuck in the middle of a contentious and slightly bizarre legal and media battle.]
Weekly Sherlock Links Compendium (January 1 - January 10, 2014)
Welcome to 2014…where it’s still always 1895.
I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere provides tips for surviving and enjoying #BSIWeekend, a new documentary titled “How To Be Sherlock Holmes” premiers Sunday, Alistair Duncan explains why ACD resurrected Holmes after the events of FINA, Dan Andriacco reviews a variety of new MX Publishing titles, Peter Blau’s Scuttlebutt is complete through 2013, Brad Keefauver summarizes the history of the question “Was Sherlock a drug addict”, Sherlockians from Hungary address 24 misconceptions surrounding Sherlock Holmes, 221B Con announces a special guest, Scintillation of Scions VII announces a line-up of distinguished speakers, and much more in the first Weekly Sherlock Links Compendium of 2014 by Matt Laffey.
I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere put together a survival guide for the beautifully chaotic five days of collective Sherlockian madness alternately known as BSI Weekend in NYC (January 16-19, 2014). In “Tips For Navigating the #BSIWeekend” Scott Monty along with several other members of the Baker Street Irregulars compiled a list of suggestions culled from decades of experience (and, presumably, from mistakes learned from) including: the importance of extra carrying devices (all those newly purchased books have to go somewhere); the usefulness of business cards; why extreme inebriation is not recommended prior to giving a toast or lecture; bring a variety of clothing; create a schedule for yourself allowing for travel times; be prepared with maps and apps to get around NYC and use the plethora of online resources available to follow the events live or from home and much more. The official Twitter hashtag is #BSIWeekend - check out @IHearofSherlock’s list of Sherlockians on Twitter. It’s also not a bad idea to print out the master schedule of events just in case.
[BSI Dinner 2009 - posted on Facebook by Susan Dahlinger.]
On a personal note, from Wednesday’s ASH Dinner to Saturday morning in the Dealer’s Room to Sunday’s ASH Brunch (hosted by Ms Lyndsay Faye) I’ll be posting regularly on Twitter as @always1895 - and if I can muster up the equipment I’ll have a digital recorder and mic with me in an attempt to emulate the great Sherlockian audioist Bill Rabe, responsible for Voices From Baker Street, making Sherlockian-centric field recordings and conducting impromptu interviews, for both online use and posterity. I’m looking forward to seeing those Sherlockians I only get to hang out with once a year as well as making new friends and forging new alliances, so don’t be a stranger and make sure to say hello. I’m giddy with excitement and I can’t wait for the around the clock Sherlock-o-rama madness to begin!
Canadian Homes Winter 2013/2014 (Volume 36, Number 2) - The Journal of the Bootmakers of Toronto - is now available for download as a PDF and features 36 pages of quality Sherlockian scholarship and news. JoAnn and Mark Alberstat write-up their observations of tourists encountering the John Doubleday bronze Sherlock Holmes statue on Baker Street, Clifford S. Goldfarb and Hartley R. Nathan explore Jewish stereotypes in the Canon (part 2 of a multi-part essay), Elaine McCafferty and Wilfrid de Freitas share some of their insights into legendary Sherlockian Donald A Redmond's work as an author, librarian and Doyle pilgrim, and much more can be found in the latest issue of Canada's premiere journal of Sherlockian scholarship.
[Download the latest issue of Canadian Holmes (Vol. 36, No. 2) from The Bootmakers of Toronto website for free.]
BBC Four announced a Sherlock-centric episode of the documentary program Timeshift titled “How To Be Sherlock Holmes: The Many Faces of the Master Detective" set to air at 10pm (GMT) on Sunday, January 12, 2014. "For over 100 years, more than 80 actors have put a varying face to the world’s greatest consulting detective - Sherlock Holmes. And many of them incorporated details - such as the curved pipe and the immortal line "Elementary, my dear Watson" - that never featured in Conan Doyle’s original stories. In charting the evolution of Sherlock on screen, from early silent movies to the latest film and television versions, Timeshift shows how our notion of Holmes today is as much a creation of these various screen portrayals as of the stories themselves." The narrator of the program Peter Wyngarde is no stranger to the Sherlockian screen having played Langdale Pike in the 1994 Granada adaptation of The Three Gables and Baron Gruner in the 1965 BBC adaptation of The Illustrious Client. Other contributors include Benedict Cumberbatch, Christopher Lee, Tim Pigott-Smith and Mark Gatiss. The Sherlock Holmes Society of London announced on Twitter that their very own Roger Johnson acted as a consultant, a fact that makes me think “How to Be Sherlock Holmes” will rise above the mediocre-to-average Holmes documentaries of the last few years.
[Mark Gatiss who plays Mycroft on BBC Sherlock reflects on Peter Cushing in the role the Great Detective.]
Doyleockian in “Why Was Holmes Resurrected?” demolishes the claim that ACD ‘resurrected’ Holmes in The Strand due to immense pressure from Sherlock Holmes fans at the time. “Holmes came back only because of money. ACD knew that interest in Holmes was already ramped up as a result of the William Gillette play (based on his original) which had already done very well in the US and was due to début in the UK that same year. It was a perfect time to churn out a story and capitalize on the extra hype.” At a time when the most popular Holmes adaptation on TV is captained by Steven Moffat, an undisputed and committed fan of the Canon, it’s difficult to harbor (or even stomach) the thought that the creator of Sherlock Holmes was anything but an ardent believer - in fact ACD considered Holmes a thorn in his side and a diversion from his more important historical fiction. Writing to his mother, ACD said of Holmes: “He takes my mind from better things.” I’ve always thought that the famous Punch illustration by Bernard Partridge (see below) from 1926 sums up ACD’s feelings most accurately: ACD is shown chained at the ankles while a Paget-esque Holmes holds the other end of the chains, opposed to being chained-up to ACD. But as Alistair Duncan points out, Holmes made ACD a very rich man.
[Bernard Partridge illustration from a 1926 issue of Punch, a weekly British magazine of satire and humor - coincidentally many early Punch covers were drawn by ACD’s uncle Richard Doyle, a noted Victorian illustrator.]
Dan Andriacco recently posted a few book reviews, prefacing his latest post with a humorous analysis of the current state of the online world: “Some readers of this blog may have noticed that it has been something of a BBC Sherlock-free zone. While the rest of the Sherlock Holmes blogosphere and Twitterverse have been consumed with Season Three, Baker Street Beat has taken no notice.” Ha! Andriacco is just too cool for school I guess! (I joke.) Instead of rigorously speculating on the meaning of “Redbeard” he reviews The Immortals: An Unauthorized Guide to Sherlock and Elementary (MX Publishing, 2013) by Matthew J Elliot, an analysis of all of the 2012-2013 Sherlockian TV adaptations including plot summaries as well as “Holmes’s notable moments, Notable moments of the police regulars, Identification of material drawn from the Canon, Sex and romantic relationships, Drug references, Logical inconsistencies…” and much more. And for all the Cumberbunnies out there, Andriacco recommends Benedict Cumberbatch in Transition: An Unauthorized Performance Biography (MX Publishing, 2013) by Lynnette Porter. Finally, if pastiches featuring Holmes versus historic villains from literature or history is your thing, Andriacco invites you to check out the graphic novel Sherlock Holmes and the Horror of Frankenstein (MX Publishing) by Luke Kuhns and artist Marcie Klinger. So get off the couch and grab a book and then get back on the couch and do some reading!
[Cover art for Luke Kuhns and Marcie Klinger’s Sherlock Holmes and the Horror of Frankenstein on MX.]
Scuttlebutt from the Spermaceti Press, Peter Blau's legendary list of Sherlockian news, events, etc., is updated through December 2013. Topics include a conference in Davos by The Reichenbach Irregulars in September 2014, a board game based Neil Gaiman's Sherlock/Lovecraft pastiche “A Study in Emerald,” a Sherlock-centric shop on Etsy by Chris Caswell who formerly owned a bookstore in Southern California called Sherlock’s Home, Judith Freeman's index to The Serpentine Muse complete through 2013 as an Excel spreadsheet, and tons more from Peter Blau’s original Sherlock Links list.
[Click here for a PDF of the Scuttlebutt from the Spermaceti Press for all of 2013.]
Sherlock Peoria in “Was Sherlock Holmes a casualty in the War on Drugs?” considers the relationship between Popular Culture (and stoner bookstore clerks) and the perennial question: “Was Holmes a drug addict?” Brad Keefauver’s post was inspired by a recent Twitter post by Martin Montague of a letter ACD’s son Denis Conan Doyle wrote to The Lancet in 1937: “Your contributor’s interesting notes on cocaine poisoning give the erroneous impression that Holmes was a “drug addict”. As a matter of actual fact, my father neither conceived nor depicted Sherlock Holmes as a drug addict. He was represented as one of those rare individuals who use drugs sparingly and occasionally, and who are the masters rather than the slaves of the drug concerned.” Keefauver seems to be of the strong opinion that Holmes was indeed NOT a drug addict, dismissing opportunist Nicholas Meyer's novel The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (1974) and chastising noted Sherlockian Jack Tracy for his Subcutaneously, My Dear Watson (1978) for portraying the Great Detective as a bonafide cocaine addict. Whether you think Holmes was a hopeless dope fiend junky dirtbag or an intellectual dabbler with Herculean will power - there’s textual evidence for both opinions in the Canon - Keefauver’s essay comes at a time when many impressionable young Sherlockian minds are watching adaptations of Holmes as recovering heroin addict (Miller in Elementary); Holmes as reckless drinker of embalming fluid (Robert Downey Jr in A Game of Shadows); and/or Holmes as a three nicotine patches at a time ‘wink wink nudge nudge’ possible drug user (Cumberbatch in Sherlock).
[Denis’ letter to the editor of The Lancet from 1937 - this is my first time reading about Denis’ stance on the Holmes/addict question and now I need to track down the editor’s column that sparked said response. If you’re interested, the Denis Conan Doyle letter pictured above appeared in The Lancet ”Volume 229, Issue 5918, January 30, 1937, Pages 292 Originally published as Volume 1, Issue 5918” which is available online if you have access to an academic library’s online subscription service.]
221B Con - the second annual Sherlock Holmes convention happening in Atlanta, GA on April 4 - 6, 2014 - posted a few announcements and requests this past week: 1) Nicholas Briggs, a producer and actor for Big Finish audiobooks as well as the voice of Daleks and Cybermen in Doctor Who, will be joining the Guest & Performers line-up, 2) 221B Con needs your photos from last year for promotional material, 3) additional comments regarding the 2014 programming list eg. due to the ‘mature’ nature of some panels like BDSM/Kink there will be a late-night, 18 and up programming section (and since the majority of the conference is all-ages the 19+ programming will not be listed on the general schedule) and 4) information about and a request for help for the 221B Con Tea Party (eg. dietary requests, games, cosplay ideas). Attendees from last year are still raving about 221B Con so mark your calendars, book you plane/train/bus ticket and start sewing your cosplay costume! For a taste of what to expect, check put the edifying and amusing audio recordings from 221B Con 2013 on the Baker Street Babes website.
[Nicholas Briggs as Sherlock Holmes in The Ordeals ofd Sherlock Holmes Box Set on Big Finish.]
Scintillation of Scions VII, happening June 6 - 7, 2014 in Hanover, Maryland (outside of Baltimore), announced the line-up of speakers for their seventh annual gathering of Sherlockians called to order by organizer Jacquelyn Morris. If I didn’t have to recuse myself for being among said list, I would be forced to admit that it’s quite a distinguished group of Sherlockians, leaning heavily towards Sherlockian Internet/online personalities that you know and love (or ‘hate’ if you’re CBS’s Elementary production staff) as well as stellar Sherlockians from a variety of backgrounds. Speakers include: Jan Burke, Carla Coupe, Brad Keefauver, Toni L.P Kelner, Matt Laffey, Scott Monty, Ashley Polasek, Lynne Stephens, Karen Wilson & Stephen Welbourn and Vincent W. Wright. Register early to ensure a place at what is quickly becoming one of the most respected yearly Sherlockian conferences.
[Stay tuned for information on what this diverse group of Sherlockians will be discussing in the coming weeks.]
Sherlock Holmes And The Mystery of Einstein’s Daughter by author Tim Symonds is the perfect remedy for pastiche fans who are a bit tired of the usual Sherlock Holmes versus ‘insert famous historical villain here’ tropes; instead Symonds challenges Holmes in new and exciting ways: “The Dean of a Swiss university persuades Sherlock Holmes to investigate the background of a would-be lecturer. To Dr. Watson it seems a very humdrum commission - but who is the mysterious ‘Lieserl’? How does her existence threaten the ambitions of the technical assistant level III in Room 86 at the Federal Patents Office in Berne by the name of Albert Einstein?”
[Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of Einstein’s Daughter (MX Publishing, 2014) by Tim Symonds.]
Sherlockian Sherlock - everyone’s favorite Hungarian Holmes website - not only keeps the memory of the Great Detective green, but is also concerned with keeping said memory true and accurate. In “Common Misbeliefs About Sherlock Holmes” the authors tackle 24 widespread misbeliefs and misconceptions about Sherlock Holmes. Misconceptions dispelled range from serious accusations such as ‘Holmes was racist’ or ‘Holmes used drugs all the time’ to the slightly more mundane like ‘Holmes was a handsome man’ or ‘Holmes was untidy’. Slightly more controversial topics tackled include Holmes’ religious beliefs and Holmes’ sexual orientation; though many are classic Sherlockian topics such as Holmes’ ontological status, the origins of “Elementary, my dear Watson” and whether or not Holmes had Asperger’s Syndrome. Perhaps the most timely issue addressed is whether adaptations which depict Holmes in a contemporary setting damage or detract from the essence of Sherlock Holmes. Whether you agree or disagree with the various points, you’ll certainly appreciate the sincerity and seriousness in which these Hungarian Sherlockians defend their beliefs.
[24 Misconceptions about Sherlock Holmes dispelled by the editors of Sherlockian-Sherlock, dedicated and passionate Sherlockians from Hungary.]
Happy Birthday Sherlock Holmes!
Weekly Sherlock Links Compendium (December 14 - December 31, 2013)
Here’s my final set of Sherlockian news items and happenings from 2013….
The summary judgment on Klinger vs. Conan Doyle Estate Ltd. was announced, Les Klinger and an attorney for the ACD Estate both responded to the ruling, intellectual property expert and Sherlockian Betsy Rosenblatt explored what the Free Sherlock ruling means for fans, I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere released a special edition podcast discussing all things #FreeSherlock, The Grand Game trading card project set-up a Kickstarter page, Sherlock Holmes meets Doctor Who, Dan Andriacco commemorates Blue Carbuncle Day, an issue of The Solar Pons Gazette appeared after a five year hiatus, Ross K Foad started an online collection of Sherlockian essays called the Diogenes Club Library, the British Library uploaded over one million public domain images to Flickr, Kristina of the Baker Street Babes makes the case for why you should love Sherlock, Alistair Duncan reported on a controversy sparked during a pre-screening of The Empty Hearse, what happens when 12 Sherlockians get together online to collaborate on a pastiche, MX Publishing put together a list of their 99 favorite Sherlock-related books and Season 3 of BBC Sherlock premiered in the UK and more in the final Weekly Sherlock Links Compendium of 2013 by Matt Laffey.
Free Sherlock vs Sherlock Copyright Holders - known legally as “Leslie S. Klinger vs Conan Doyle Estate, Ltd.” - has come to a conclusion after 10 months of legal wrangling, acrimonious message board rants and a fair amount of amateur legal speculation one might expect from an intellectual property case lodged at the intersection of internet pop culture and a long and storied history of copyright controversy. Perhaps the most news worthy Sherlockian story to appear in the final days of 2013 (if you don’t count that ‘other’ piece of news about the air dates for a certain Holmes adaptation featuring a certain dreamy Sherlock), it’s a tangled skein best left to the experts to interpret and explain. From FreeSherlock: “The ruling is a victory for the plaintiff Leslie S. Klinger, who sought to establish that the Estate was wrong in claiming that no new stories could be written about Holmes or Watson without the Estate’s permission. “Sherlock Holmes belongs to the world,” Klinger said. “This ruling clearly establishes that. Whether it’s a re-imagining in modern dress (like the BBC’s Sherlock or CBS-TV’s Elementary), vigorous interpretations like the Warner Bros. fine Sherlock Holmes films, or new stories by countless authors inspired by the characters, people want to celebrate Holmes and Watson. Now they can do so without fear of suppression by Conan Doyle’s heirs.”” You can read a PDF of the entire “Order on the Motion for Summary Judgment" here which may sound kind of boring, but out of all the material that’s available online regarding Klinger vs Estate, this will give you the best sense of 1) what the actual dispute is about and what it is not about, 2) what Klinger and ACD Estate agree on, 3) what Klinger and Estate do not agree on, 4) why Klinger thinks ‘elements’ from post-1923 stories are not protected, 5) why the judge thinks Klinger is wrong on #4 because what Klinger calls “elements” are in fact protected as characters, plots, etc. and 6) what some of the implications are for authors and publishers.
[Plaintiff Les Klinger in his LA law office surrounded by the spoils of a life dedicated to the Great Detective. When not annotating things or attempting to thwart copyright laws Klinger is an attorney in California and I sometimes wonder if new clients of his, encountering an office packed with Sherlockiana, are instilled with extreme confidence (ie. Sherlock Holmes was like a giant brain so my attorney must be a giant brain!) or extreme concern (ie. when does this guy have time to work on lawyer stuff?).]
Counsel for the Conan Doyle Estate Ltd. Benjamin Allison reacted and interpreted the ruling a bit differently than Klinger in “Ruling Continues to Protect Much of Sherlock Holmes’s Character; Conan Doyle Estate Considers Appeal” pointing out that “under the current ruling from the Chicago trial court, all development of the Holmes and Watson characters by Sir Arthur in ten post-1922 stories remain fully protected by copyright. These ten stories - set at a variety of earlier points in the two men’s fictional lives - contain significant elements of both characters, including Sherlock Holmes’s mellowing personality, the change in Holmes’s and Watson’s relationship from flatmates and collaborators to closest friends, and a host of other developments, skills, and elements of background. While plaintiff Leslie Klinger sought a ruling that some of these character traits were free for all to use, the Court rejected Mr. Klinger’s effort in this regard and held that all such characteristics of Holmes and Watson are protected.” Allison makes an interesting point that helps frame the scope of why any of this actually matters: “Nearly a third of the stories in Mr. Klinger’s first co-edited story collection, A Study in Sherlock, use protected post-1922 story elements. That book’s publisher, Random House, appropriately entered into a modest licensing arrangement with the Estate despite Mr. Klinger’s position against such a license. Mr. Klinger did not provide his second story collection to the Estate, but one of the writers for that new collection told the Estate he wished to use a protected character, Langdale Pike, from the post-1922 stories. The Chicago Court reiterated that the character is fully protected by copyright law.” If I was a rumor mongering blogger-type I might mention something like: rumor has it that the catalyst for the entire copyright hullabaloo was a casual mention of Langdale Pike…and the rest is legal history.
Betsy Rosenblatt posted an essay on the Baker Street Babes website exploring some of the real-world implications of the #FreeSherlock ruling in “What does the Free Sherlock ruling mean for fans?” I encourage anyone unclear about various aspects of this case and/or anyone interested in reading a fascinating enumeration of the more pragmatic ins and outs of the case. My personal favorite bit in Rosenblatt’s essay concerns a Canonical point the judge got wrong, which also illustrates a bit about the limitations of the ruling (in both directions): “Keen Sherlockian eyes will observe that the judge got one point factually wrong: Sherlock Holmes’ retirement was first described in “His Last Bow" (one of the public domain stories), not the 1926 "Lion’s Mane”. What does that factual error mean for fans? Probably not much, since this factual finding won’t bind future courts. Based on the legal principle articulated in the case, Holmes’s retirement to the South Downs, on a small farm among his bees and books, including The Practical Handbook of Bee Culture, with some Observations upon the Segregation of the Queen, are in the public domain - but the details of his retirement setting, and (of course) the storyline of “The Lion’s Mane”, are still protected.” If you’re still having difficulty explaining the finer points of Klinger vs ACD Estate to your friend who keeps on asking whether or not he can start writing a Fifty Shades of Grey-Sherlock parody, see the NY Times article “Sherlock Holmes Is in the Public Domain, American Judge Rules" (with accompanying Frederic Dorr Steele illustration) for further analysis.
[Sadly, your other friend’s slash fanfic featuring Sherlock and the jellyfish from LION cannot be published in the U.S.A. without paying a fee to the Conan Doyle Estate until 2022.]
I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere, on a related #FreeSherlock note, released a special podcast episode of IHOSE covering the Klinger vs ACD Estate ruling featuring interviews with the plaintiff himself Les Klinger as well as IP Law scholar and noted Sherlockian Betsy Rosenblatt (BSI, ASH): “We were once again joined by Les, who outlined the background of the case and discussed some of the legal aspects of copyright that have led us to this juncture. We try to keep the discussion as interesting as possible for the lay people out there, and Les even manages to bring in the 1902 coronation of Edward VII as part of the case law history….[and] Betsy touches on some additional points that will undoubtedly be of interest.” Instead of ending the show with a relevant Baker Street Journal ’Editor’s Gas-Lamp’ Scott and Burt read from the late Joseph Merriam's musings on “the impact of the legal profession within the Sherlock Holmes stories, citing six separate examples of the law and lawyers within the Canon.” Originally presented at a Spring 1992 meeting of The Speckled Band of Boston, Merriam’s essay is available online as a handwritten document titled “Impact of the Law on the Sherlock Holmes Stories" and is a hoot to read.
[A scene from The Coronation of Edward VII (1902), a short film by George Méliès and Charles Urban which reenacts the coronation of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra. Watch the short film in it’s entirety here. ]
The Grand Game, the fan-inspired Sherlockian trading card project first announced here in October, is close to completion but needs your assistance! “With your help we can move this project to the final stages. We have been able to develop and design the first set of the cards honoring the fans of Sherlock Holmes. It is our hope that it will be the first of many sets to come” Collectors interested in the project might consider donating at the $150 level for which they’ll receive a Hobby Box (10 packs of cards) of The Grand Game - Sherlock Holmes Trading Cards w/ one box redemption (a $200 value). There’s also an accompanying eight minute video narrated by the creator of the card project, second generation Sherlockian Brian Rogers, which explains the history and philosophy behind The Grand Game Trading Cards, a myriad of gorgeous artwork examples and details on how you can help. To learn more about the project itself, read through the Kickstarter page and check out The Grand Game on Facebook and follow their Twitter for updates and special offers.
[Les Klinger’s trading card from The Grand Game, Series One.]
Sherlock Meets the Doctor (released December 11, 2013), the fan mashup video sensation released which brilliantly and seamlessly merged footage from BBC Sherlock and Doctor Who (Matt Smith), was all the rage this December garnering attention from sites as diverse as the Huffington Post to Yahoo TV to Tor as well as pretty much every Sherlock and Doctor Who blog in existence, winning almost unanimous support from both fandoms, as the Internet seemed to shout in unison “Best Fan Video Ever!”, an assessment that’s pretty close to the mark. If you’re interested in how the video was created as well as a look at the original shots used, see Wholock - VFX Breakdown.
[Sherlock Holmes + Doctor Who = Look out all time and space!!]
Dan Andriacco celebrates that most Sherlockian-specific of holidays, Blue Carbuncle Day, better known as “the second day after Christmas”(BLUE). In “Saving Mr Baker” Andriacco muses “Do you ever wonder what happened between Mr. Henry Baker and his wife after he walked off the pages of “The Blue Carbuncle” with his replacement goose?” I’ll see Andriacco’s question and raise him another one: Do you ever wonder what happened to the upper-attendant of the Hotel Cosmopolitan, hapless schlemiel Mr James Ryder, the de facto villain of the piece. Ryder is systematically tracked down by Holmes, lured to 221B and then cajoled into a confession, only to then throw himself upon Holmes’ mercy. Following one of the most pathetic scenes in the Canon (cf. Paget illustration below) Holmes, ostensibly moved by ”the season of forgiveness,” pardons Ryder. Immediately following Ryder’s departure, good old predictable Watson expresses his middle class outrage at Holmes (once again) taking the law into his own hands, only to be appeased by Holmes’ ‘jailbird for life’ explanation - an explanation I’ve always found questionable in light of one, it’s rather loose logic and two, Holmes’ earlier stressing of ”the season of forgiveness”. In short, I’ve always thought this scene is one of the greatest counter examples to the argument that Holmes is nothing but “the most perfect reasoning and observing machine”.
[“Ryder threw himself down suddenly upon the rug and clutched at my companion’s knees. “For God’s sake, have mercy!” he shrieked. “Think of my father! of my mother! It would break their hearts. I never went wrong before! I never will again. I swear it. I’ll swear it on a Bible. Oh, don’t bring it into court! For Christ’s sake, don’t!”” (BLUE).]
The Solar Pons Gazette (December 2013, Vol 4.1 No 5), published by Bob Byrne, is the newsletter dedicated to American mystery author August Derleth's detective Solar Pons, described as “the best substitute for Sherlock Holmes known” by the godfather of all things Sherlockian Vincent Starrett. The last issue of The Solar Pons Gazette was released over 5 years ago but as editor Bob Byrne explains “after a long break from the work of August Derleth, I’ve returned to the deerstalkered demesne of the Sherlock Holmes of Praed Street. I kick it off with my ‘second’ introductory essay on Pons.” The 44 page December 2013 issue is packed with commentary on classic Pons adventures, a Solar Pons pastiche, excerpts from the notebooks of Pon’s sidekick (ie. his Watson) Dr Parker, an old essay by Chris Redmond (of Sherlockian.net fame) from The Pontine Dossier (1977, Vol. 2 No. 3) and a reprint of an essay that should be of interest to both Derleth and Lovecraft fans entitled “Solar Pons and the Cthulhu Mythos.” To learn more about August Derleth, visit the August Derleth Society’s website at: http://www.derleth.org. If you’ve never stopped in at 7B Praed Street, your first adventure with Solar Pons and Dr Parker can feel eerily familiar, like returning to the neighborhood you grew up - while you’ll have no problem finding your way around, the details and scale are ‘off’ just enough, producing a sense of temporary vertigo that mostly clears allowing you to enjoy the trip as a novelty, but not quite as home. Regardless, it’s still a treat occasionally spending time in Derleth’s world which is so lovingly modeled after the more familiar environs of Baker Street.
[Back from a five year hiatus, The Solar Pons Gazette is the official newsletter of www.SolarPons.com (to be relaunched soon), both of which are maintained and edited by longtime Ponsian Mr Bob Byrne.]
Diogenes Club Library, a new concept/project from Ross K Foad of No Place Like Holmes, seeks to be “the reading room of the site and houses an easy to navigate place for the essays NPLH has published so far (including all of Howards Ostrom’s ‘Silent Doyle’ essays mentioned previously on Always1895). Ross K is actively seeking scholars and enthusiasts alike who might be interested in seeing work of their own on a larger platform in submitting essays for consideration at moment.” Ross K’s project has all the makings of an excellent online Sherlockian resource that will benefit Holmes fans of all persuasions.
The British Library announcement that they’ve uploaded “one million public domain scans from 17th-19th century books to Flickr! They’re embarking on an ambitious programme to crowdsource novel uses and navigation tools for the huge corpus. Already, the manifest of image descriptions is available through Github.” I’ve ran a few preliminary searches and since most of the scans are from books that pre-date the publication of A Study in Scarlet there’s not much in the way of Sherlock Holmes or ACD material beyond The Strand and Sidney Paget illustrations from The Adventures and The Memoirs but I’m sure the corpus will provide plenty of excellent and useful material one might use for a variety of research projects.
[Image taken from page 133 of Cook’s Handbook for London, just one of the million pictures available for free from the British Library corpus.]
5 Reasons Why You Should Love Sherlock video put together by Kristina of the Baker Street Babes celebrates the very imminent return of BBC Sherlock. Lyndsay Faye and an assortment of other Babes assist Kristina in reviewing just why you should love the Great Detective: “From canonical references to otterlock, it has it all.”.
Doyleockian reports on events surrounding the pre-screening of The Empty Hearse on December 15, 2013 at the BFI in London - an event that will be remembered for time immemorial (or at least for another Internet cycle or two) for igniting a controversy based not on the audience’s reaction to the BBC Sherlock Season 3 premier, but for a series of comments made /questions asked by one of the Q & A hosts, Caitlan Moran. London Reviews covers the entire ‘story’ but the gist of it seems to be that Moran, who was supposed to be moderating the panel by asking questions related to the episode just watched, asked a set of silly, rude and unrelated questions and then proceeded to read aloud an example of Sherlock fanfiction she found ‘funny’ - without the permission of the author whose thoughts on Morangate can be read here - but turned out to be ultra explicit making the crowd and panel (Cumberbatch, Moffat, etc.) uncomfortable. As you might expect, Twitter and other Sherlock fandom frequented social media sites reacted immediately and throughout the next few days. A few days later Alistair Duncan followed up his original post with some comments about the ‘Morangate’ fallout, and that’s about all there is worth reporting. Make of this what you will. In the grand scheme of Sherlockian things happening over the next month or two it’s just an insignificant Internet blip that is sure to be overshadowed and then forgotten.
[Q & A panel at the BFI pre-screening of The Empty Hearse.]
Girl Meets Sherlock, a blog by Amy Thomas, posted “2013: Sherlockian Year in Review” featuring personal Sherlockian highlights including the publication of her second pastiche The Detective, The Woman and The Winking Tree on MX and her one year anniversary as a Baker Street Babe as well as general Sherlockian fun such as 221B Con and Save Undershaw with a last minute inclusion of The Adventure of the Crowd-Sourced Adventure (cf. next entry) which occurred in the last days of 2013.
The Adventure of the Crowd-Sourced Adventure, written via Facebook in a two-hour period on December 29, 2013, is a collaborative effort by the following group of Sherlockians: Susan Bailey, C. A. Brown, Lindsay Colwell, Eva Garcia, Elinor Hickey, Jennifer Ribble Jones, Jaime Mahoney, Trix Middlekauff, Chris Redmond, Amy Thomas, Ray Wilcockson and Vincent W. Wright. “The waning days of December 1895 brought with them one of the most remarkable and yet untold cases in Sherlock Holmes’s career, which began one cold, foggy evening as I was preparing to depart the consulting-room of my medical practice and was startled by an unexpected knock on the door….” You can read the entire text at Sherlockian.net.
MX Publishing's owner Steve Emecz's collected his 99 favorite Sherlock-related books, which are all available on Amazon, and displayed the front covers via his Pinterest page. On a related note, Steve and his wife have spent their Xmas/holiday in Kenya researching a book on a project called ‘Happy Life’: “an ambitious project in Kenya that has already saved and had adopted over 160 abandoned children from the slums of Nairobi. The Happy Life Story book will share the success of the program and be a great resource for prospective adoptive parents full of case studies and information on how the project has grown…And of course we’ll make sure that there will be plenty of Sherlock Holmes books for the older children….” Check out their Kickstarter page for details.
[My favorite 2013 MX Publishing release: The Lighter Side of Sherlock Holmes: The Sherlockian Artwork of Norman Schatell edited by Glenn Schatell.]
BBC Sherlock Series 3 (Spoiler-Free) Links:
BBC, as every Sherlockian fan in the universe is now aware, announced at long last the air dates for the The Empty Hearse, the Season 3 premier of BBC Sherlock. Viewers in the UK get to find out just how Sherlock survived Holmes’ plunge off the roof of St Barts on January 1, 2014 at 8pm, but North American fans will have to wait until January 19, 2014 when the episode officially airs on BBC America. By the time you’re reading this, The Empty Hearse will have already aired in the UK - hence available online for those with the ability and moral laxness to download TV shows illegally - but I’ve held off including any information in this post about the episode so as not to ruin any surprises or reveal any spoilers for those waiting to watch on Sunday, January 19th (which happens to be the final day of BSI Weekend 2014 in NYC).
Many Happy Returns, for those of you living under a rock, is a seven minute Sherlock ’mini-episode’ released by BBC on Christmas day entitled Many Happy Returns featuring events from after the Series 2 finale The Reichenbach Fall leading up to those in The Empty Hearse. After two years of waiting, Team Moffat delivers up a small slice of Sherlock heaven replete with Season 3 teasers, hilarity and Canonical tidbits galore.
[Where in the world is Sherlock Holmes?]
Weekly Sherlock Links Compendium (December 7 - December 13, 2013)
WWJBSD? (What would John Bennett Shaw Do?), IHOSE interviews the minds behind Sherlockology, the high price of living at 221B Baker Street, Peter Blau’s Scuttlebutt, things that make a Sherlockian happy, the most Irregular Irregular and a Prince among men, missing pieces from The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, an interview with the actors of the Baskervilles, Holmes’ methods in the modern police age, where to spread the compliments of the season, the proper way to kickoff BSI Weekend, gifts for Sherlockians, the dancing cookies and much more in the latest Weekly Sherlock Links Compendium from Matt Laffey.
Birthday Week is approaching fast - and to get psyched up for it here’s the first official BSI Dinner group photo ever. Taken at the legendary Murray Hill Hotel in 1940, attendees included luminaries such as all three Morley brothers (Chris, Felix & Frank), Howard Haycraft, Basil Davenport, Robert K. Leavitt, Edgar W. Smith, James P. Keddie and Frederic Dorr Steele (!), plus one attendee who, as of 1998, was still alive: Mr Ronald Mansbridge, the fourth guy from the bottom on the left side with mustache. I absolutely love reading about the history surrounding these dinners, but 1940 was particularly important for a myriad of reasons, all of which can be read about in Jon Lellenberg's excellent essay “Entertainment and Fantasy”: The 1940 Dinner. Stay tuned to Always1895 for more BSI Week history as we countdown the days to January 15, 2014….
Weekly Sherlock Links Compendium - December 7 - 13, 2013
The Sherlockian E-Times (Vol.13 No.12 December 2013) from Carolyn and Joel Senter features an essay by Ron from Denver about what he learned from uber collector John Bennett Shaw in regard what it means to be a Sherlockian: “I was fortunate to meet and know John Bennett Shaw, who had the largest individual Sherlockian collection in the United States and was one of the kindest, most decent human beings I had the pleasure to know. In my too few visits by letter and in person, we discussed all things Sherlockian. The following points are concepts I took away from my conversations with John Bennett.” My favorite point from Ron’s list is #1 “If you have one of a Sherlockian collectible, you gloat. If you have two, you share.” I have the feeling that within Sherlockian culture we’re about to experience a JB Shaw (“The Hans Sloan of My Age”) zeitgeist of sorts as younger Holmes fans who are just discovering the wide world of Sherlockian scholarship and Sherlockian history learn of the role Shaw played in the development and growth of US scion societies. Edgar Smith may have been the Chief organizer of early Sherlockian culture, using his GM management skills to lay the foundation for the modern BSI, but Shaw was the Johnny Appleseed of scion culture, playing St Paul to Smith’s St Peter, marching out into the field and inspiring one local chapter after another via a ‘big tent’ approach where everyone and anyone interested in the Great Detective could/should get involved.
[JBS in his study with non-canonical calabash and book.]
I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere released ‘Episode 59: Sherlockology’ - “We can unabashedly say that we’re huge fans of Sherlockology. So it was with great pleasure that we sat down with Jules Coomber and David Mather, two of the four (in addition to Emma and Leif) who run the burgeoning online presence of a site that pays homage to the BBC’s Sherlock and the cast and crew that are responsible for it. It’s been so well done that many think that it’s either an official BBC site or that it’s only about the show.” Moving on, Scott and Burt implore their listeners to order a gift subscription to the Baker Street Journal - a suggestion I wholeheartedly endorse - for friends, family, strangers, libraries, schools, etc., even offering to reward the gifters with a modest Sherlockian treat if at least 50 gift subscriptions are ordered. In other news, Wessex Press’ triennial conference From Gillette to Brett IV: Basil, Benedict and Beyond happening September 12-14, 2014 will feature a Sherlockian Relics of Stage, Screen and Radio Exhibit., just one of the many aspects of this conference you’ll be hearing more about right here. Lastly, the 59th IHOSE podcast ends on a Xmas themed Editor’s Gaslamp from the father of Sherlockian culture in the United States, Edgar Smith with his 1959 BSJ Xmas Annual piece “Christmas With Sherlock Holmes” which celebrates that time of year when every Sherlockian worth his or her canonical salt revisits “The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle" and wishes their fellow Holmes-fanatics the compliments of the season, ending with: "and Christmas is a window too, that opens on the hearts of men, to make them young and glad again."
[“The ultimate guide for any BBC Sherlock fan!” Indeed.]
Sherlockology - now that you’re thoroughly familiar with the minds behind Sherlockology from their IHOSE appearance above - presents a remarkably in-depth and fascinating look at how much it might cost to be a resident of 221B in the BBC Sherlock-verse via a set of intriguing and creative infographics. Everything from John and Sherlock’s wardrobes to the more memorable contents of their flat are itemized and priced. Also discussed are costs associated with home insurance (clearly needed), based on some of the events of Seasons 1 and 2; eg. bullet holes in living room wall (The Great Game), broken windows (ibid.), etc. (Estimates based on Confused.com data). This post is deliciously typical of Sherlockology’s creative passion when it comes to discussing aspects of BBC Sherlock well outside the typical ‘fan-talk’ of the majority of sites one’s likely to come across on the internet. In light of Sherlockology’s recent appearance on IHOSE Ep. 59, it’s no surprise that the site continues to develop creative and original content, ostensibly based around a paltry six episodes (soon to be nine) but robust and clever enough to reach Holmes enthusiasts well outside the limited scope of a single TV adaptation. Finally, make sure to follow @Sherlockology and become one of their 173,000+ followers on Twitter - and not to brag, but I’m terribly proud to point out that @always1895 numbers among their rigorously curated ‘Following' list comprised of a magical two hundred twenty-one Twitterers.
[Just a portion of this unique and amusing set of infographic charting the ‘cost’ of being a denizen of 221B Baker Street in the BBC Sherlock universe. I had no idea that the iconic Sherlock/Cumberbatch coat was in the Duke of Holderness price range at £1350 (or $2,209)! ]
Scuttlebutt From the Spermaceti Press from Peter Blau is available and chocked full of Holmes-related information including BSI Week events, info on the quirky yet entertaining recent (re)appearance of ‘Sherlock Holmes’ on Murdoch Mysteries ”Return of Sherlock Holmes" (7x04) which also features a cameo by literary agent ACD portrayed as an idea ‘borrower’, a reminder that the "Edgar Allan Poe: Terror of the Soul" exhibit is still running at the Morgan Library in NYC (until January 26, 2014), remembering recently departed Sherlockians Gerald N. Wachs (“Sir James Saunders”) and Barbara Hicks (who among other accomplishments played Emily Garrideb in Granada’s 1994 3GAR adaptation), an update on Moriarty, N.M. where the legendary Moriarty Un-Happy Birthday and Moriarty Memorial Manure Pile led by John Bennett Shaw took place (watch scenes of the mid-1980s event in this recently posted doc The Case of Sherlock Holmes (1987) - a must see!) and much much more. A special thanks to Mr Blau for mentioning my Always1895.net post “Full Recording of ‘The Secret of Sherlock Holmes’.” in his November 13, 2013 edition of Scuttlebutt.
[“Black Peter” has been publishing his Scuttlebutt From the Spermaceti Press newsletter since 1971, just 6 years before I was born.]
The Consulting Detective created a list entitled “Top 5 Things that Have Made Sherlockians Happy” featuring such items as Canonical easter-eggs in the two Robert Downey Jr films (eg. “Come at once if convenient…if inconvenient come all the same.”), Titan Books re-release of a myriad of classic pastiches, recent Sherlock references on Doctor Who, and more. Personally, none of these items would make my Top 5 - maybe a few would linger somewhere around the lower end of my top 30 - but this list is something that makes me happy as a Sherlockian because it stresses the interest the author Nick Cardillo has in the Canon, even if it’s the Canon in the context of the Warner Bros films, the 11th Doctor donning a deerstalker or BBC Sherlock. There’s no denying that 2014, or at least the first quarter of 2014, will be awash (some might say drowned) in BBC’s adaptation of the Master - but as long as the real and the true (and the forever sacred) inspiration (ie. the original 60 stories) for this or any Holmes adaptation remains relevant, his memory shall remain green and “these two survive.”
[The classic note written by Holmes to Watson from CREE.]
Sonia Fetherston has alerted me to one of the most exciting bits of Sherlockian publishing news I’ve heard all year: Ms Fetherston has just completed her draft of a biography on legendary Sherlockian Bliss Austin: Prince of the Realm: The Most Irregular James Bliss Austin (2014) - ”the book features new material, new interviews, newly revealed letters and other documents and photos” and is being published on the BSI Biography Series imprint (general editor Les Klinger). You may recall Fetherston from her 2012 BSJ Christmas Annual Barrymore In Baker Street: “The Great Profile” Meets “The Great Detective,” and They Both Get Their Names Up In Lights, a terrific look at actor John Barrymore who played the Great Detective in Sherlock Holmes (1922). Bliss Austin, an executive for US Steel, amassed one of the finest collections of Japanese woodblock prints as well as collections of Sherlockiana at the time. Jon Lellenberg, in his 1988 obituary of Austin, sums up rather succinctly the role Austin played in Sherlockian culture: “If the Baker Street Irregulars represent Sherlockiana’s aristocracy, Bliss was a gracious and courtly Prince of the Realm. He exemplified for others what it meant to be an Irregular of the old school.” Stay tuned for more information about Fetherston’s Prince of the Realm as well as a future post on Bliss Austin’s various publications.
[Sonia Fetherston’s 2012 Xmas Annual on Holmes actor John Barrymore.]
Cinephilia and Beyond discusses Billy Wilder’s The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, particularly the discrepancy between Wilder and co-writer IAL Diamond’s original 3 hour script versus the final, studio mandated 93 minute version: “Billy Wilder spent 7 years with his co-writer I. A. L. Diamond working on the script of The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes. The finished film originally lasted over 3 hours, but the studios panicked over the failure of such long form films and demanded cuts. The film was hacked down to an acceptable 93 minutes. Diamond didn’t speak to Wilder for almost a year….The film was originally structured as a series of very specifically structured linked episodes, each with a particular title and theme. The opening sequence was to feature Watson’s grandson in London claiming his inherited dispatch box from Cox & Co. and there was also a flashback to Holmes’ Oxford days to explain his distrust of women….he episodic format made the pruning process relatively simple, so cut were the opening sequence, the Oxford flashback and two full episodes entitled “The Dreadful Business of the Naked Honeymooners” at 15 minutes and “The Curious Case of the Upside Down Room” at 30 minutes. We can only hope that the full footage can one day be restored, although a full print is not currently thought to exist.” As long time readers will recall, the masochist in me enjoys reading about ‘what could have been’ when it comes to Wilder’s The Private Life - contained in at least one commercial release of the film (the Lasdisc release) is the audio for one or two of the cut scenes, along with stills from “The Upside Down Room”.
[Luckily the above scene from the first act of the film featuring an inebriated Watson wondering “what happened to the girls” was thankfully not cut.]
Q&A With the Cast of the Hound of the Baskevilles features a transcript plus video highlights with Director Tom Ridgely and actors Brennan Caldwell, Sean Harris and Rich Hollman. The Hound stage adaptation “runs until Dec. 22 2013 at Playhouse on Park in West Hartford, Connecticut. The play offers a funny take on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s most celebrated Sherlock Holmes story. We sat down to talk about the show… Q: What is the screenplay like? What can the audience expect to see as you bring this to life from the novel? Tom: It’s a three actor adaptation from a British company called: People Like Us. A lot of the fun is watching the actors take on the challenge. There’s a virtuosity required in taking on the play and seeing the actors rising to the challenge.” For more information and tickets, check put the Playhouse on Park. For a review of the play, see The Examiner.
[If you live in or near Hartford, CT you should try to check out what sounds like a fun take on The Hound of the Baskervilles.]
Sherlock Holmes Society of St Charles considers the age old dilemma of whether the ends justify the means: “In BLUE we see Holmes not only being the investigator, but also the judge and the jury of Ryder, allowing him to go free at the end. We will never know if it was the right decision, it never came up again. Did Ryder stay on the straight and narrow and leave the country, go to America where he made good and eventually his descendant’s started the Ryder truck rental company and are now wealthy?” Taking this question a step further, we’re asked to consider events in a recent episode of Elementary ”Tremors” (2x10) wherein certain courses of action made by Elementary's Holmes leads semi-directly to a colleague getting shot: “I think it is brave of Elementary to take the examination of Holmes’ methods a step further by examining the methods under the light of someone getting injured that is not the story-teller. We see a police force a little more intelligent than Lestrade and his peers, one that recognizes the need for restraint when you are hired as a consultant. It asks; Would Holmes methods work in a modern police age?" Sherlockians have been debating questions related to Holmes’ somewhat unorthodox techniques for decades. Is Holmes truly a special case, hence allowed to occasionally work above/beyond the law - or should he, regardless of the successes achieved, be chastised or censored after cases like BLUE or CHAS, the latter being perhaps the most extreme example of Holmes’ ‘above the law’ tendencies?
[Ryder at the mercy of Holmes.]
CultBox announced that to “celebrate the return of Sherlock next month, we’ve got sets of BBC Books’ new official tie-in editions of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic stories - Sherlock: The Return of Sherlock Holmes and Sherlock: His Last Bow - to give away to 4 of our Twitter followers! For a chance to win, just follow CultBox on Twitter and tweet the following text….Follow @cultboxtv and RT for a chance to win 4 x sets of ‘Sherlock’ books.” The Return of Sherlock Holmes features an introduction by Mark Gatiss and His Last Bow features an introduction by Steven Moffat.
[Click for details on how you can win these two new ‘BBC Editions’ of Return and Last Bow.]
Den of Geek posted part 2 of their 3 part interview with BBC Sherlock creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss (totally spoiler free): Q: Why do you think that relationship [between Sherlock and John] has worked so well, you’ve really bulked it up from the books, haven’t you? SM: I think it’s actually very, very faithful to the books. It’s just that oddity of a very close male friendship, which of course is very hard to write about because men don’t talk about relationships ever, and certainly two blokes who are friends with each other will not sit down and talk about their relationship.”
Sherlockian Scion & Event Links:
The Three Garridebs of Westchester County hosts their Annual Blue Carbuncle Luncheon on December 29, 2013 at An American Bistro, Tuckahoe, NY. Join fellow Sherlockians from upstate New York and the surrounding area as the ‘compliments of the season’ becomes the phrase du jour for the duration of the afternoon - along with talk of the proper colour of carbuncles, crop physiology and exactly how much one can conceivably deduce from a seedy felt hat.
[What can you deduce from this old “seedy and disreputable hard-felt hat”? (BLUE)]
Adventuresses of Sherlock Holmes (ASH) will, per venerable custom, usher in the 2014 BSI Birthday Weekend with an informal gathering on Wednesday, January 15, 2014, dubbed ‘a special ASH Wednesday’, at 6:30 PM upstairs at O’Casey’s. “This will be a happy occasion to meet with (and eat with and drink with) kindred spirits from around the globe. As usual, there is no set charge - we each pay for what we consume. If you can attend, please advise either Eveyln Herzog (herzogbaesch[at]aol.com) or Susan Rice (susan221bee[at]gmail.com). All are welcome!” This organization and this event holds a special place in my heart since the Special ASH Wednesday of 2011 was not only my first BSI Week event, but my very first Sherlockian event ever. Now, only four years hence, walking into this BSI Weekend kick-off event is the equivalent of attending a family reunion, as Sherlockians from near and far meet, re-meet and make plans for the days ahead. If you’re a first time BSI Week attendee, Special ASH Wednesdays is the perfect place to introduce yourself and become acquainted with your Sherlockian comrades in the relaxed and welcoming environs of an Irish pub adorned with portraits of famous Irish authors and packed with a hundred or so gregarious and excited Sherlock enthusiasts.
The (Curious Case of the) Watson Intelligence runs through December 29, 2013 at Playwrites Horizon in NYC. You can still purchase tickets here (enter code WATPBE for discount). One of the three actors in the play is David Costabile, which fans of A&E show Breaking Bad will recognize as Season 4’s wacky though ultimately doomed chemist Gale Boetticher. On a related Sherlockian note, Costabile guest starred in the Elementary episode “Lesser Evils" as well as a recent episode of Ripper Street. I had the pleasure of seeing The (Curious Case of the) Watson Intelligence last month and though there’s only a few cursory Sherlockian references, the Dr John Watson character is well adapted and should please most Watson fans.
[Click to watch ’Gale Boetticher’ (David Costabile) belting out a karaoke version of Peter Schilling’s “Major Tom” complete with amazing rocket/space/animals/etc video FX and Hindi (?) subtitles - a truly magic moment from Breaking Bad.]
Sherlockian Holiday and Gift Links:
The Best of Sherlock Holmes' Randall Stock released his annual Top 10 Best Sherlockian Items of 2013, including books and DVDs for beginners and for the more seasoned, books like The Wrong Passage by Andrew Solberg and Robert Katz (eds.) and the terrific reference guide on ACD A Chronology of the Life of Arthur Conan Doyle (revised edition) by Brian W. Pugh on MX.
The Sherlock Holmes Exhibit has an online gift store for the International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes featuring tote bags, scarves, tshirts and the like which are sure to please the sartorial needs of most Sherlockians.
[$20 Sherlock Finger tote bag for carrying around your Sherlockian monographs and journals.]
Le Cercle Holmesien de Paris baked and posted these delicious looking Canonical cookies adorned with the “Dancing Men" cipher. An excellent gift idea, unless of course your name is Elsie Cubitt and the dancing men symbols happen to spell out "ELSIE PREPARE TO MEET THY COOKIE!"
[Another possible arrangement: “ELSIE I THOUGHT YOU WERE ON A DIET” Certainly no phrase would be in ‘bad taste’.]
Weekly Sherlock Links Compendium (November 30 - December 6, 2013)
The spiritual and religious Holmes, interview with a Babe, naming your newborn “Sherlock”, how the 1970s changed the face of the Great Detective, a visit to The Sherlock Holmes Museum of London, the return of The Saturday Review of Literature, how to make a desirable DVD box set even more desirable, the greatest ‘bromance’ ever, why a (empty) hearse brought tears of joy to a nation, Sherlockian studies - Canadian style, an illustration of a Xmas story without slush and more in the latest Weekly Sherlock Links Compendium from Matt Laffey.
Sherlockian.net recently announced a new project entitled “Spiritualizing Sherlock” wherein site proprietor Chris Redmond and Lindsay Colwell, a Sherlockian recently drawn back into the fold, investigate the role of religion in the Canon: “If you have ever wondered whether Sherlock Holmes was a member of the Church of England, a Lutheran or a Zoroastrian, and (more important) if you have ever thought about a Sherlock Holmes tale and considered the religious and spiritual implications it contained, your proverbial prayers have been answered. Today we launch “Spiritualizing Sherlock: A Study of the Religious and Theological Themes in the World of Sherlock Holmes”. The purpose of the project is to make possible a systematic understanding of all the religious and theological matters that are explicit or implicit in the Holmes canon, and what we can learn from them. We will begin by casting as broad a net as possible, to include religious practices and institutions, theological ideas, and also moral teachings.” Plans are underway to compile and make available online a definitive bibliography of writings on Holmes and religion. “In a later stage, we hope to develop a synthesis of the information and ideas that appear through the bibliography and our discussions of it, and to demonstrate patterns of religious ideas associated with Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle, and the Sherlockian canon. This part of the project will, we hope, result in a published monograph or e-book that will be a real contribution to Sherlockian knowledge.” Redmond, a sometimes lay preacher, and Colwell, a theologian by training, bring the necessary enthusiasm and holy cred to a project that’s sure to edify and provoke, and will no doubt illuminate an under appreciated aspect of the Canon.
[The Great Detective and the Prime Mover tackle a little case called “The Adventure of Life”!]
Daily Dot ran a feature on everyone’s favorite all female Sherlock podcast The Baker Street Babes: ”“I also wanted to give a voice to young female fans. We’re poked fun at constantly by the media and those who don’t necessarily understand fan culture, but while we may have quirks and in-jokes, there’s an amazing level of scholarship and discussion happening. It’s always overlooked and I wanted the podcast to showcase both sides of the coin, if you will,” sayeth fearless leader of the Babes of Baker Street Kristina ‘Curly’ Manente. Along with the Babes’ usual Sherlockian podcast fun, make sure to check out their most recent episode reviews of CBS’s Elementary and the new Russian Sherlock Holmes.
[Kristina of the Baker Street Babes displaying her obvious sense of good taste and refinement via her choice of laptop stickers.]
Radio Times reports on the newest baby naming phenomenon to sweep England: “Sherlock” has entered the list of top baby names for boys in England and Wales, after five families registered it in 2012….This isn’t the biggest rush on a baby name since time began but have you ever met someone called Sherlock? Exactly. Between 1996 and 2011 the detective’s name didn’t appear at all in the annual lists of top baby names for boys compiled by the Office For National Statistics….But once a name has been registered more than twice, it makes the cut. For Sherlock, that year was 2012, when it ended up 3,416th on a list of 4,805 male names, in the company of Ulysses, Roland and Timofey, which (among many others) also racked up five registrations apiece.” (Thanks to Jack Wilson+ for the tip!)
The Consulting Detective makes the case for “Why Murder By Decree (1979) Is Perfect.” Featuring Christopher Plummer's second outing as Holmes - he first appeared as the Great Detective in a 1977 TV adaptation of Silver Blaze (an under-appreciated though excellent adaptation) - and accompanied by James Mason as Watson, Murder By Decree is both a typical and atypical 1970s-era Holmes adaptation which pits the Great Detective against Whitechapel’s most notorious denizen, Saucy Jack. Noting that Murder By Decree was not the first Sherlock vs. Jack the Ripper film - that honor goes to A Study In Terror (1965) featuring John Neville as Holmes and Donald Houston as Watson - “it features a far darker plot, draws off of real events and characters and features one of the finest yet controversial portrayals of Sherlock Holmes….Much like The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970) and The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (1979) there is something very different about this version of Sherlock Holmes. Christopher Plummer’s Holmes is a kindhearted, very sincere man, at odds with the cold, calculating genius portrayed in Arthur Conan Doyle’s originals…Holmes still manages to unravel a tangled skein of events surrounding the Ripper murders, but he feels far more empathy towards all those involved.” The 1970s was not only a boom time for Sherlock Holmes, but it was a time when (Sherlockian and non-Sherlockian) writers and directors alike felt free to reinterpret and reanalyze the life and times as well as the psychology of a character whom many, until that time, had assumed inhabited an unbreakable mold. Murder By Decree certainly broke that mold - to positive effect - and for that reason alone certainly deserves a place in the upper echelons of great Holmes cinema.
[Nick Cardillo of The Consulting Detective proclaims: ”Murder by Decree is one of my favourite Sherlock Holmes films. It is by far one of the most brilliant Sherlock Holmes films I have ever seen, and perhaps one of my favourite movies in general. It is in my opinion essential viewing for any Sherlockian.”]
Fitzrovia News, a blog based out of London, recounts a recent trip to The Sherlock Holmes Museum of London: “If you’re looking for a fun activity, in the City of Westminster, this festive period, then why not pop along to the home of Sherlock Holmes. My friend and I didn’t even know that this quaint little museum existed but after dodging the dreaded Madame Tussauds’ queue, we looked up where else we could go in the area. In comparison, the queue to the Sherlock Holmes Museum was long but moved very quickly and we were soon inside the warm, Georgian house, for only £8 I may add.” Famous for it’s recreation of the sitting room at 221B as well as a menagerie of life sized, wax Canonical characters and fascinatingly detailed dioramas (Evil exalted on the Moor…in miniature!), I don’t know of a single Sherlockian who has visited the Museum and not come away amused by the displays. Where else on Earth can you meet a suspiciously literate beggar with a twisted lip, watch as the hand of justice cuts down "the worst man in London" and look into the eyes of the Napoleon of Crime?
The Saturday Review of Literature, edited by Donald Pollock and friends, announced that SRL 2014, Issue No. 2 will be “published on January 18, 2014. Copies can be ordered in advance for $5.00 (which includes postage) to: Donald Pollock 521 College Ave. Niagara Falls, NY 14305….We can promise something of interest, if not outrage, for everyone. Copies will be mailed out following the BSI Weekend, though I am happy to bring along to New York copies for anyone who orders in advance.”
[The cover for Issue 2 of The Saturday Review of Literature.]
Quick Sherlock Links:
Den of Geek reports on BBC Worldwide’s announcement of a special edition BBC Sherlock box set. Limited to 3000 units, each set will contain all three series of Sherlock on disc as well as a copy of an episode script from the first series penned by Steven Moffat, a letter from a “popular returning character” and a soft touch A6 size notebook all housed in the poshest of packages. (Thanks to IHOSE for the tip!)
Wales Online looks at 20 TV ‘bromances’ to rival BBC Sherlock's Holmes and Watson. If you're unfamiliar with what a “bromance" is "a close non-sexual relationship between two (or more) men, a form of affectional or homosocial intimacy," cf. buddy film, male bonding or any BBC Sherlock scene featuring just Sherlock and John.
Mirror announces BBC Sherlock mini episode Many Happy Returns to air on Christmas Day in the UK. I’ve been attempting to remain un-spoiled so you’ll have to follow the link for more details. On a related note, deerstalkers off to the BBC promotions department for how they announced the UK air date of the Series 3 premier: driving an old fashioned hearse around St Barts adorned with the words “Sherlock” and the air date and then parking in front of the now infamous ‘red Sherlock phone box’.
[Click for larger view, but the floral arrangement spells out “Sherlock 01-01-14.”]
Dan Andriacco in “Those Creepy, Serpentine Master Criminals” points out the “herpetological similes” which Holmes applied to Moriarty as well as “the worst man in London” and master blackmailer Charles Augustus Milverton.
Doyleockian looks at speculation surrounding Holmes’ retirement in “Sherlock Holmes post 1903 - the Bee-keeping Years”. “The subject of Sherlock Holmes’s retirement is one as open to speculation as the great hiatus. In fact, you could argue, that they are much the same. They are periods when Holmes’s movements are largely unknown.” So just what was Holmes up to between the two mystery periods of “December 1903 - July 1907 and 1907 (post Lion’s Mane) to August(ish) 1912?” A truly fascinating hole in the world of Sherlockian studies.
The Bootmakers of Toronto - the legendary Sherlock Holmes Society Canada - have recently joined the Sherlockian Twitterverse with @BootmakersTO as well as announcing a reboot of their official website TorotnoBootmakers.com. And don’t forget to download for free the latest issue of the Bootmaker’s journal, Canadian Holmes (Vol.36 No.1, Fall 2013) in either epub or PDF format. Standout articles this issue include “Sherlock Holmes in ‘The Hands of the Jews:’ Jewish Stereotypes in the Canon”, “The Victorian Concept of Honour in The Bruce-Partington Plans” and “Science and Sherlock Holmes”.
[Cover for the Fall 2013 edition of Canadian Holmes (Vol.36 No.1).]
Sidgwicks celebrates December with the discovery of this bold and wonderful scene featuring Holmes and Watson traipsing through London in an attempt to discover just how the “bonniest, brightest little blue egg that ever was seen” ended up in the crop of an Xmas goose. Russian illustrator Adrian Yermolayev created this Christmas scene without slush (to paraphrase Kit) in order to accompany “The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle” from a Soviet-era collection of Holmes favorites titled The Red-Headed League and Other Stories (Saint Petersburg: Detgiz, 1945).
[Holmes and Watson in “The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle.”]
Weekly Sherlock Links Compendium (November 23 - November 29, 2013)
Howard Ostrom, a Sherlockian based out of Florida known primarily for his massive and unique collection of autographed photos of actors who have played Holmes and Watson in one form or another (eg. film, TV, radio, theater, etc.), has of late been writing quite a few essays on a variety of Sherlock-related topics. A few months ago he teamed-up with Ray Wilcockson to research the virtually unknown history of African-American performers playing the Great Detective - a line of inquiry inspired by the discovery of a one reel silent film titled The Tale of a Chicken (1914) - culminating in the three part essay “Voices From the Darkness: African-America & Sherlock Holmes" (2013). His latest essay series is based on extensive research into silent Sherlock Holmes films seeking to answer questions like "Who were these Si-locks? What of the titles they appeared in? How did they come about?" The first part of "Silent Sherlock: Sherlock Holmes and the Silent Film Era" spans the years 1900 to 1908, beginning with the one minute Mutoscope film familiar to many Sherlockians titled Sherlock Holmes Baffled (1900) - and thanks to Sherlockian Michael Pointer's rediscovery of the film in 1968, you can view this remarkable piece of Sherlockian and Film history here. (On a related note, Michael Pointer wrote three excellent Sherlock books, my favorite being the ridiculously oversized (12” height) The Pictorial History of Sherlock Holmes (1991).) Ostrom catalogues twelve films in total, all made before 1913 though many are sadly lost to us forever. Follow @HowardOstrom on Twitter to receive future updates.
[A still from the Mutoscope film Sherlock Holmes Baffled (1900).]
Sherlock Peoria recounts his recent adventure watching episodes of the new Russian Sherlock Holmes (2013) TV series without English subtitles, a feat I also attempted: “…it’s been quite a puzzling experience. Sherlock Holmes has always been about words for us, if you think about it, and suddenly being deprived of any words at all is quite strange. You find yourself going, “I think this is The Sign of the Four … but it’s obviously not.” I like the look of the series, though the Sherlock Holmes is another one of our recent “Sherlocks who don’t look like Sherlock.” The Watson is very good, but Watson has always been a bit easier to capture on film.” The Russian Sherlock Holmes TV series premiered this past November (16 episodes to date) and stars Igor Petrenko as Sherlock Holmes and the late Andrei Panin - the actor was found dead with a head injury in his Moscow apartment in March of 2013 - as Doctor John Watson. The show is set in Victorian London and has a gritty, realistic feel that doesn’t shy from the seedier, less picturesque side of late-19th/early 20th century urban life. As frustrating as watching the episodes are sans subtitles, I look forward to being able to properly immerse myself in this new and exciting adaptation. If you’re up for the challenge, all the Russian Sherlock episodes are available on YouTube or Russia.tv. For another perspective on the series plus extensive reviews, check out the Baker Street Babes.
[The final scene from Episode 02 of the Russian Sherlock - an obvious homage to the original - and totally brilliant - Russian Sherlock adaptation The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson (1979-1986).]
Baker Street Babes released ‘Episode 47: The Game (Is On!)’ wherein “Curly, Maria, Taylor, & Ardy sat down with some of the team behind Sherlock: The Game Is On to learn how it started and to try and solve the puzzle of how such a collaborative project of this size even works.” After listening to the Babes talk to the game’s creators, make sure to watch the Making of Sherlock: the Game Is On video for further information as well as a wealth of game previews, graphics and artwork. Other Sherlock-themed games discussed include Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective Board Game and the Xbox, Playstation and PC Sherlock Holmes series from Frogwares, the latest offering being Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments.
[Opening screen for the fan-created video game Sherlock: the Game Is On - a cute looking, crime solving puzzle role playing game based on BBC Sherlock.]
Doyleockian reflects on the recent rumblings of the so-called ‘fandom that waited' noting that the original Sherlock fandom had to wait a decade to find out what happened between events in “The Final Problem" (1893) ending with Sherlock’s apparent death at the bottom of the Reichenbach and "The Empty House" (1903) - of course The Hound of the Baskervilles (1901) was published after LAST but it’s stressed that the Dartmoor adventure occurred before FINA. Alistair Duncan suggests we “spare a thought for the fans of Sherlock Holmes in 1893. When they picked up their copy of The Strand in December and read Watson’s summing up of the conflict between Holmes and Moriarty they went through emotions very similar to those of today’s teens to twenty-somethings (and older). But what they didn’t have was a closing scene of Holmes watching Watson from afar - very much alive. The Victorian fans of Holmes were not going to get that scene for ten years. It puts the wait for Sherlock into perspective doesn’t it?” As much flack as Moffat receives for making BBC Sherlock fans wait nearly two years to find out what happened after events in The Reichenbach Fall, it doesn’t compare to the sheer heartlessness of ACD who left Strand readers adrift thinking that Holmes died along with Professor Moriarty. So Duncan drops the gauntlet asking: “Could you modern fans even conceive of such a wait for a mere temporary return? Judging by the internet most of the newer fans of Holmes are struggling with a mere quarter of that wait.”
[My homage to “The Strandom That Waited.”]
The Stranger delivered up a very knowledgeable review of the Seattle Repertory Theatre's production of The Hound of the Baskervilles: “After the nightmarish opening sequence, in which a man is pursued and devoured by a hellhound on a misty moor, Kennan initiates the comedy, and the rest of the play keeps it rolling in ways that are direct or indirect. Even the dead-serious themes and concerns of the play—such as trying to capture a killer, protect the innocent, and separate the natural (true) from the supernatural (untrue)—become funny. Once Holmes’s seriousness is undone by traces of comedy, the entire culture Conan Doyle’s novel represents is undone, and we can’t help but chuckle at a society that had complete faith in progress, saw women as soft in the head, believed that the shape of a man’s cranium corresponded with his intellectual abilities, and saw wars for resources and markets as an honorable civilizing mission in the long march of history.” I wish NYC was a little closer to Seattle so I could check out this adaptation of HOUN.
[Info on The Hound of the Baskervilles from the Seattle Repertory Theatre which runs from November 15 to December 15, 2013.]
I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere marks the passing on November 8, 2013 of Sherlockian Jerry Wachs, BSI (“Sir James Saunders”) with a set of memories related by fellow BSI and friend Jerry Margolin. I’ve copied just one to this post but make sure to read all of Margolin’s remembrances: “Jerry was a collector of Sherlockiana. His particular specialty was Sherlockian lapel pins; he had the largest collection in the world. I think it got up to over 1,000 pins and it covered every aspect of the world of Sherlock Holmes. Like most of us, he was very social, very well liked by all who knew him and was very well respected.” Jerry Wachs full obituary can be found here, but some essentials include: “Gerald N. “Jerry” Wachs, M.D. died on Nov. 8, 2013, in New York, at age 76. Jerry had many accomplishments in his life, but none more important than his four children…He was also the treasured grandfather to six beautiful grandchildren and [a] loving brother…Dr. Wachs was responsible for the FDA’s approval of over 20 new drug applications…an avid collector who was most proud of his 19th-Century first edition English poetry collection…a life master in bridge…He was the constant companion of Gail Postal for the past 19 years. He will be greatly missed by his family and friends.” Posts like this also serve as a reminder to make the most of the time we have with Sherlockian friends young and old - particularly when, due to distance and obligations, those times are scattered over months and years.
[Remembering Sherlockians, gone but not forgotten.]
Sherlock.Everywhere - the Tumblr site of IHOSE - re-posted this imaginary cover from a site that imagines “the greatest team-ups that never happened…but should have.” From the creator of the Super-Team Family…The Lost Issues: “These two shared a story in Detective Comics #572, and I have always wanted to see them together again. It’s great to see Sherlock Holmes getting so mach attention these days. I enjoyed the Robert Downey Jr. films, they were fun if a bit splashy for Holmes. Elementary has grown on me as well, an interesting spin on the Watson/Holmes story. My favorite current Holmes incarnation is on the BBC’s Sherlock. Benedict Cumberbatch is perfect in the role of a modern-day Sherlock Holmes. Still, no actor has ever topped Jeremy Brett in my mind when it comes to playing the world’s most famous sleuth.” Here here.
[Sherlock and Batman team-up in an issue that never was…but should have been.]
Quick Sherlock Links:
Telly Visions discusses the recent two hour documentary How Sherlock Changed the World (2013), scheduled to premiere on PBS December 17 which “will explore the real-world impact of history’s most famous fictional detective, including the effect that Holmes has had on the development of real forensic and investigative techniques, and will feature noted forensic scientist Dr. Henry Lee.”
[I’ve been looking forward to seeing the How Sherlock Changed the World documentary since first hearing about it.]
Empire Magazine features an exclusive photoshoot in their latest issue with BBC Sherlock creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss shot on the 221B set. Also, click here for Empire Magazine's piece on BBC Sherlock's Season 3 trailer: “The revelation that Benedict Cumberbatch’s Holmes is alive is a surprise to exactly no one who saw the end of The Reichenbach Fall (or to those who noticed that the show’s title has not suddenly switched to 'Watson'). But to those in the universe of the show, it’s going to come as an almighty shock, one that we doubt will be greeted with total joy when they discover the wool that has been pulled over their eyes.”
[Moffat and Gatiss chillaxin at 221B for their Empire magazine photoshoot. ]
Sherlockology announced the UK air dates for BBC Sherlock Season 3, Episode 1: “The long awaited day has finally arrived. Sherlock Series Three will air in the UK from January 1 2014. With a suitable degree of theatricality, the BBC today confirmed the premiere airdate for Sherlock Series Three in the UK through the medium of an empty hearse, flowers announcing the date that the Great Detective will return to life and grace our screens once again.” Americans will of course have to wait until January 19, 2014 - the last day of BSI Weekend - to officially see how Holmes survives his dive off of St Barts and how Watson reacts to the return of his missing roommate.
The Final Problem pointed out that someone must have “finally told John that web counters are so 1998” - the evidence being that The Personal Blog Dr John H Watson no longer possesses a hit counter perpetually displaying always 1895.
The Baz - a site for all things Rathbone-related - in their Sunday Pics #13 feature posted a few screenshots of Basil Rathbone as the Great Detective in the classic The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939), a film which I just re-watched as part of my Thanksgiving break Sherlock movie marathon.
[Vintage Rathbone as Holmes in the 1939 film The Hound of the Baskervilles, the first in the series of 14 movies starring Rathbone and Nigel Bruce as Dr Watson.]
The Daintiest Thing Under a Bonnet, just announced via the Baker Street Babes website, that Sherlockian and actor Curtis Armstrong will MC the charity ball: “This year, we are delighted to announce that our cosplay/noir/Victorian costume competition prize will be awarded by no less lovely a Sherlockian than Mr. Curtis Armstrong! You’ve seen this fabulous gentleman as Tom Cruise’s best friend in Risky Business, and he’s appeared in nearly fifty films more films, including Revenge of the Nerds, Better off Dead, Dodgeball, Akeelah and the Bee, Ray, and most recently, Sparkle. He’s the charming co-host of TBS’s reality show King of the Nerds, and you can also catch him on New Girl, The Closer, and Supernatural.” And for those unaware, Booger from Revenge of the Nerds is also a Sherlockian of some renown! You can follow Mr Armstrong on Twitter. Tickets for the Ball are still available here.
UPDATE: Sherlock Holmes in Brentwood Holiday Play ”The Blue Carbuncle” has just added a second show for December 10, 2013 at 7:30 pm !! ”Our first performance on December 8 sold out quickly and completely – so we’ve added another one due to popular demand!” The newly added December 10, 2013 show is taking place at a private residence in Brentwood, Los Angeles, CA (address visible when you book your ticket). The host for the event is none other than annotator extraordinaire Leslie Klinger who will introduce the play and give a brief talk before the performance touching on some of the traditions of Sherlock Holmes’ times and other elements of BLUE. Ticket sales will partially fund the show itself, though a percentage of the proceeds will be donated to the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Heritage Trust, Ltd. (aka Save Undershaw!) the group dedicated to restoring Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s magnificent estate, Undershaw. Click here to get your tickets - this second show will also sell out soon so act fas!
[If you pulled a Commissionaire Tangey and missed out on the first show, you still have a chance to get tickets for the just added second show on December 10th at 7:30 PM. ]
Weekly Sherlock Links Compendium (November 2 - November 22, 2013)
I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere takes stock of everything they’re thankful for in the wide world of Sherlockiana and the culture it thrives within during this 58th IHOSE podcast, appropriately titled “Thankful for Sherlock Holmes” - for non-USA readers Thanksgiving is only a week away. Hosts Scott Monty and Burt Wolder deviate from their standard IHOSE interview format and instead discuss a variety of Sherlockian-related topics including: recent scion events such as The Sons of the Copper Beeches and Mycroft’s League in Philadelphia, a review of recent change-ups within the BSI as well as the upcoming BSI Weekend, the premiere of BBC Sherlock Season 3, a Kickstarter-funded Sherlockian-themed playing card set, a recent TED talk by Parul Sehgal on jealousy and much more. Finally, in place of the Editor’s Gaslamp, they read an editorial by Sherlock Peoria’s Brad Keefauver titled “Zismanian Scholarship" comparing Father Ronald Knox and Johnny Knoxville. For an outside perspective on the IHOSE podcast, check out this critique/review on the crime fiction blog Do Some Damage praising its eclectic mix of Sherlockian news and commentary while remaining accessible to newcomers.
[Another wonderfully informative and entertaining IHOSE episode from the two most recognizable voices in all of Sherlockiana.]
Doyleockian author Alistair Duncan in ”Sherlock Holmes R.I.P.?" wrote one of his most thought provoking essays yet - the post has garnered 21 comments so far - posing the question: "Is Sherlock Holmes, by which I mean the written Holmes, on the decline?" Duncan worries that the answer is "Yes", a conclusion he reaches based on observations like the asymmetrical discussion/interest in TV/movie adaptations of Sherlock Holmes versus the Canon on formats like Internet discussion boards. Duncan argues that this division cuts straight down the generational divide with the "younger generation" preferring Holmes on the screen and the "older generation" concentrating on the Holmes of the printed page. So where does this leave us? "Can this gap be bridged? I’ve seen younger people (under 25yrs) turn up to events organized by The Sherlock Holmes Society of London but I’ve rarely seen the same faces twice. I strongly suspect that many of them (not all) have turned up expecting something that revolved around the screen Holmes and have, instead, found themselves surrounded by people more enamored with the Holmes of the page. The result is that they don’t (or rarely) come back.” If Duncan’s observations are accurate, the “younger generation” of Holmes-enthusiasts are drifting away from both the original Sherlock Holmes source material as well as the decades old Sherlockian societies, leaving the future of ‘Sherlock Holmes’ uncertain. So what is to be done? “If the traditional society model is to survive it needs to attract new blood. However, must it change itself significantly to do so and at what cost?” Perhaps Duncan is being overly pessimistic and all is not lost, but his concerns are worth taking seriously.
[The inscription on ACD’s tombstone reads "Steel True, Blade Straight." If Duncan’s worst fears come to pass, what will the grave of Sherlock Holmes read?]
Baker Street Babes formally announced this year’s Daintiest Thing Under a Bonnet Charity Ball happening Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 8:00 pm at the Player’s Club in New York during BSI Week 2014 - if you don’t have your schedule handy, the Ball immediately follows the BSI Distinguished Speaker Lecture with Dr. James O’Brien. Last year the auction raised nearly $2,500 for The Wounded Warrior Project, an organization that seeks “to raise awareness and enlist the public’s aid for the needs of injured service members.” Why did The Babes choose the WWP to raise money? “We owe inspiration for this event to those who tirelessly serve our country, and to Dr. John Watson, army doctor, whose recovery from the ravages of the Second Afghan War once required the help of an extraordinary friend.” I had the good fortune of attending last year’s BSB Charity Ball and I wouldn’t miss the second annual ball for anything. (In the interest of full disclosure, last year I assisted in compiling the auction lots and gave a toast to Mrs Stoner - doomed wife of Dr Roylott - and this year I’ll be organizing auction lots and helping out in other ways.) Check out Melinda Caric's Charity Ball 2013 photoset and stay tuned for more information.
[100% of the proceeds from ticketing and the auction of Sherlockian art, crafts, rare books and pastiches will benefit the Wounded Warrior Project. There will also be a quiz, costume competition, raffle, and military-themed Sherlockian toasts. Tickets are $35 and going fast!]
Mattias Boström, Swedish Sherlockian and author of Från Holmes till Sherlock (which translates in English to From Holmes to Sherlock) has been setting fire to the Swedish literary world in recent months. Just this past weekend, The Swedish Crime Writers’ Academy awarded Boström the prize for Best Non-Fiction Book 2013! And even more impressive, Från Holmes till Sherlock was ”shortlisted for the biggest Swedish non-fiction prize. Six books are on the shortlist and the winner - who will get SEK 125 000 [USD 19,023.88] - will be announced on November 28. The prize is for a non-fiction book that adds new knowledge, gives new perspectives on existing knowledge or makes old knowledge accessible. The other shortlisted books are about the poet William Blake, a forgotten Swedish 20th century author, modern journalism, Versailles, and a Swedish 19th century painter.” The entire staff of Always1895 will be rooting for you Mattias - let the force of Vincent Starrett be with you!!
[Mattias Boström’s beautifully designed book: though I have yet to actually read it because it’s in not-English (Swedish in this case) I’m 100% positive that it is excellent - and I’m fairly certain winning and being nominated for these prizes proves it. ]
The John H. Watson Society, having just released to great acclaim their inaugural 150 page issue of The Watsonian, announced this week that the society’s first monograph Coin of the Canonical Realm is published and ready to enter the libraries of Sherlockians everywhere: “in this, the first monograph published by the John H Watson Society, Nicholas Utechin sets out to make 21st century sense of all the 19th century mentions of money in the Sherlock Holmes stories.” Mr Utechin is a Director-at-Large of the John H. Watson Society (‘Rex’), a Baker Street Irregular (‘The Ancient British Barrow’) and an Honorary Member of The Sherlock Holmes Society of London (having edited The Sherlock Holmes Journal from 1976-2006), was featured, along with Steve Rothman, on Episode 08 of I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere discussing their work on To Keep the Memory Green (2007) about the late, great Richard Lancelyn Green. The JHWS monograph Coin of the Canonical Realm should be of interest to anyone who has ever “stopped to wonder exactly what a ‘half-sovereign’ would buy today? Find out what Mary Morstan stood to gain if the Agra treasure had not been hurled out of the Aurora. How much in dollars - then and now - would Neville St. Clair’s daily begging takings have amounted to? Could Sir Henry Baskerville’s $6 boots be bought for an equivalent sum in 2014?” Limited to 100 First editions, I guarantee you won’t want to sleep on this one.
[Watson paging through Mr Utechin’s new monograph Coin of the Canonical Realm. The cost is $9 plus $3 postage for U.S. members, and $9 plus $5 postage for international members. PayPal or credit cards may be used.]
Dan Andriacco asks “just how many biographies of Arthur Conan Doyle does one need?” I’ve read many a Sherlockians answer to this question in books, journals and monographs (an answer that ranges anywhere between all of them to none of them), with the overarching theme being that, to date, no single ACD biography can be called ‘definitive’, a few can be called ‘informative but incomplete’ and still some can barely be called ‘competent’. But Andriacco isn’t attempting to stir the ACD biography controversy pot here; he simply wants to point out that he picked up two of the newest ACD biographies at his favorite used bookstore: Conan Doyle: The Man Who Created Sherlock Holmes (2007) by Andrew Lycett, and The Adventures of Arthur Conan Doyle (2008) by Russell Miller. I’ve heard many good things about both, particularly the Lycett tome. I’ll admit that I’ve read very few biographies of Watson’s literary agent, but if you’re looking for a great place to start, I highly recommend Jon Lellenberg's (ed.) The Quest for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: Thirteen Biographers in Search of a Life (1987) which is not a biography at all but a collection of reviews/essays by noted ACD/Sherlockian scholars on each of the major biographies of ACD up to that point (c. 1987). Let’s hope Mr Andriacco reviews his new acquisitions in the near future. For an exhaustive list of ACD biographies and bibliographies, check out Chris Redmond's excellent list at Sherlockian.net.
[Some of the all-star contributors to Lellenberg’s volume include ACD/Holmes scholars Richard Lancelyn Green, Nicholas Utechin, James Bliss Austin, Donald Redmond, Peter Blau, Chris Redmond, Philip Shreffler and more.]
The Crew of the Barque Lone Star, a scion society based out of the greater Dallas / Ft. Worth area, released the November 2013 issue of their irregular publication The Bilge Pump (click to download the PDF) featuring minutes from their last local gathering, an interesting essay on how Watson’s naming of the tales gave “his imagination full rein. And how magnificently he rose to the occasion”, a quiz, information about the quickly approaching 2014 BSI Weekend, a well-argued essay by Ronald Brackin on the truth behind Watson’s reference to the Lone Star (the doomed ship mentioned in FIVE), discussion points related to RESI by Sherlock Peoria's Brad Keefauver, a pastiche titled “The Wrong Cabman” and plenty of random Sherlockian tidbits. As fantastic as publications like the Baker Street Journal and other expertly produced and stalwart Holmes publications are, I also love DIY, local Sherlockian newsletters and zines like this. You can follow them on Facebook and Twitter.
[“We offer good company and rousing Sherlockian conversation to anyone who might be interested, and are also resolved to dig deep into the fifty-six short stories and four novels that comprise the Canon. In addition, we volunteer in the community, lecture to libraries and school groups, attend conferences around the country…”]
NYPD Patrolman’s Illustrations, created in 1974, was a pamphlet designed to help New Yorkers deal with the grim realities of city life at the time (eg. “Before entering your vehicle, make an examination of the backseat or any other place where an intruder might hide…a driver seated behind the steering wheel practically defenseless against quick attack.”). The NYPD tapped Patrolman Leo Poulsen whose “illustrations depict a New York of shady, bell-bottomed operators, cartoonish Bowery tropes, full-figured women, and fairy tale characters, all rendered in that bizarre ’70s-style caricature that is that is both playful and unsettling.” The below illustration is the only one that features a character in the style of Holmes and Watson, but it’s a classic example of just how recognizable the form of Holmes is - even if Watson appears to be either checking out Homes’ derriere or looking to score some scratch for the gambling table (assuming that Holmes won’t give him his checkbook back).
[“Men, don’t carry money in your rear and side pockets (sucker pockets). A crowded elevator is an ideal spot for a pickpocket to do his thing.”]
The Sherlock Holmes Society of London released the artwork for their 2013 Xmas card which features stunning, graphic novel-style artwork by one Mr Bryan Talbot who “has worked on Batman, The Sandman, Judge Dredd and many other series, and his work has appeared in publications as diverse as Wired, Street Comics and The Radio Times.” The card will be produced in full colour with a sepia tint, and will be available in packs of ten. The cost includes postage and packing. Make sure to follow the SHSL on Twitter for news, events and other SHSL-related events.
[It appears Holmes and Watson either dropped their bag of Xmas gifts in the snow or are investigating evidence left at the scene of some hideous yet unknown crime involving the scattering of gifts and holly.]
Sidgwicks posted another fantastic but unknown drawing from the Canon by Russian illustrator N. Zeitlin for “The Adventure of the Empty House”, The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, Moscow: Detgiz, 1956.
[A Russian illustration of what appears to be a rather informally dressed Holmes struggling to avoid his presumed fate at the finale of FINA in what must be the flashback scene as narrated by Holmes to Watson immediately after Holmes’ big reveal to Watson at Watson’s consulting room just prior to the ‘meat’ of EMPT.]
Sherlockology announced a bit of very special news that should have London BBC Sherlock fans pulling a Percy Phelps, ie. uttering screams, dancing around the room, shrieking a little more and then falling back limp and exhausted until treated with a medicinal tincture of brandy, à la the final scene in NAVA. “On Sunday December, 15 2013 at 13:00GMT, the British Film Institute will show S3E1: The Empty Hearse in a public screening at the National Film Theatre on London’s Southbank, ahead of the yet to be announced first television airing in the UK on the BBC. The premiere will be followed by a Q&A with members of the cast and crew who will be in attendance.” Fantastic news right? Well, here’s the proverbial parsley in the butter…you guessed it: SOLD OUT!
[Paget’s illustration depicting the precise moment when Holmes artfully uncovers the final course of Mrs Hudson’s breakfast spread assumed to contain a Scotchwoman’s idea of breakfast when in fact the long sought and fretted over Navel Treaty was revealed.]
The Grand Game Sherlock Holmes Trading Cards project continues to release new and exciting teaser art on their Facebook, The sample card image below depicts one of my all time favorite Sherlockians (guess who?), but other likenesses recently posted include Chris Redmond, sci-fi author Isaac Asimov, 32nd and 33rd presidents of the United States Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman and Peter Blau of Scuttlebutt from the Spermaceti Press, just to name a few familiar faces you’ll come across. Lastly, check out Ross K Foad's promotional video for “The Grand Game”.
[The above Grand Game card features the likeness of the man, myth and Sherlockian legend whose poem 221B inspired the very title of my Always1895.net blog, Mr Vincent Starrett!]
The Daily Mail, among a few other trillion sites, posted the first trailer for BBC Sherlock Season 3 The Empty Hearse. If you want to stay pure of heart and completely spoiler-free, you probably shouldn’t watch the trailer or even go to the Daily Mail page; in fact just don’t go anywhere near the Internet or any other person who has been near the Internet until late January 2014. If you happen to have magic powers and acquired a ticket to the British Film Institute screening of the Season 3 premier on December 15, 2013, then forget everything I just said and continue gloating in whatever fashion suits you best. I’ve yet to watch the trailer or look overly close (I squinted) at the screenshots on the site because I sort of want to remain pure of heart - but since even the Pope is a tiny bit fallible these days, I’ve compromised and allowed myself to only view a single Season 3 image, that of a very wonderfully mustachioed John Watson - so how about we stop squinting at the same time, together, and just stare at Martin Freeman with a mustache? Then if at any time between now and when The Empty Hearse airs and you begin to have impure thoughts about ‘just’ looking at a few more screenshots or a ‘friend’ tries to show you something from Season 3, just close your eyes and think of Watson and his mustache and our hearts will remain pure.
[John H Watson, looking great and ready for Season Three - but is he ready for the return of a certain private consulting detective.]
Sherlockian Scion & Event Links:
The (curious case of the) Watson Intelligence opened this past week in NYC and will run until December 29, 2013. I’ll be attending the performance this Friday, November 22, 2013 and if all the rumors I hear are true, NYC-area Sherlockians will be out in full force that evening. I’m really looking forward to seeing how they handle (our) Watson on stage and how the good doctor interacts with the other three Watsons on the bill. Check back early next week for a full review.
[Click to get your tickets.]
The Three Garridebs of Westchester - for East Coast Sherlockians - is having their Annual Blue Carbuncle Luncheon on Sunday, December 29, 2013 at An American Bistro in Eastchester, NY. If you would like to offer a toast, tell a joke or a funny story, sing a song, or present a short work (maximum 5 minutes) that will add to the convivial spirit of the event, or for further information, please contact Sue or Ben Vizoskie.
Sherlock Holmes in Brentwood Holiday Play ”The Blue Carbuncle” - for West Coast Sherlockians - is happening on Sunday December 8, 2013 at a private residence in Brentwood, Los Angeles, CA (address visible when you book your ticket). The host for the event is none other than annotator extraordinaire Mr Leslie Klinger who will introduce the play and give a brief talk before the performance touching on some of the traditions of Sherlock Holmes’ times and other elements of BLUE. Ticket sales will partially fund the show itself, though a percentage of the proceeds will be donated to the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Heritage Trust, Ltd. (aka Save Undershaw!) the group dedicated to restoring Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s magnificent estate, Undershaw. Click here to get your tickets - this show will sell out.
[If you’re anywhere near Brentwood, LA on December 8th, this looks like quite the worthy event!]
Challenger Unbound, a one-day symposium (panels, lectures, coffee breaks, etc.) on ACD’s Professor Challenger narratives, is happening on December 9, 2013 at the Institute of English Studies, Senate House, University of London. “A century has passed since the publication of Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World. This one-day symposium offers an ideal opportunity to take stock of the Professor Challenger narratives and to reassess what these three novels and two short stories can offer to new generations of scholars, students, and enthusiasts.” Sounds like a fun and edifying way to spend a Monday. Learn more at Sherlock Holmes: Past and Present on Facebook.
[Professor Challenger’s evidence of the Lost World, in the form of a pterodactyl, is about to fly out the window. I suspect something similar might happen at the Challenger Unbound Symposium.]
BSI Week 2014 is less than two months away - and just thinking about the myriad of upcoming Sherlockian festivities/madness gives me the chills. If there is anyway you can travel to NYC for January 15 - 19, 2014, I strongly recommend doing so, for where and when else can you stumble across such a concentration of august and irregular souls all in one place, all prepared to not only celebrate the January 6th birthday of The Master, but also to celebrate the society and culture which has developed around Sherlock Holmes, Dr Watson, the Sacred Writings and our Sherlockian forefathers and foremothers. To get a feel for what’s in-store for January 2014 in NYC, check out Scott Monty’s BSI Weekend page for the action packed schedule, accommodation information, what Twitter hashtags to follow (ie. #bsiweekend or #bsi2014) and other related information.
[The 1947 annual BSI dinner at the Murray Hill Hotel. Photo from Jon Lellenberg’s BSI Archival History page.]
Weekly Sherlock Links Compendium (October 26 - November 1, 2013)
The Grand Game is an ambitious and exciting new project from Brian Rodgers whom has plans to release multiple sets of Sherlock-related trading cards: think baseball cards featuring the likeness of Sherlockian all-stars. There’s a series of cards featuring various actors who have donned the deerstalker on the big and small screen as well as other Canonical items of interest. I’ll be featuring some of the artwork on here over the next couple of weeks, though The Grand Game Facebook page already contains some preliminary art. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect to the project is the 60 card set dedicated to famous Sherlockians, past and present. Many of the names and faces are BSI Sherlockians you may be familiar including: Susan Rice (cf. below), Bob Katz, Peter Blau, Steve Rothman, Les Klinger, Steve Doyle, Jon Lellenberg, Mattias Boström, PJ Doyle, Joe Coppola and many more living Sherlockians whom, as well as being members of the BSI, also happen to be winners of the coveted Two Shilling Award, a distinction awarded to BSI members for “for continued prominent service” (The Sherlock Holmes Handbook, p. 190 by Chris Redmond, whose likeness will also appear in the set ). Sherlockians adorning cards who have passed beyond the Reichenbach make up a virtual who’s who of true Sherlockian All-Stars: Rex Stout (author of controversial 1941 paper “Watson Was a Woman" and Nero Wolfe literary agent), William Baring-Gould (creator of the original Annotated Sherlock Holmes) Vincent Starrett (“…where it is always 1895.”), Jay Finley Christ (inventor of the 60 story abbreviation code), Julian Wolff, S. Tupper Bigelow, John Bennett Shaw (Sherlockian collector extraordinaire), Chris Steinbrunner (founder of one of my favorite scions The Priory Scholars of NYC), Michael Harrison (author of The Footsteps of Sherlock Holmes) and of course Christopher Morley and Edgar Smith. I’ll keep everyone updated as this project progresses.
[Susan Rice, ASH, BSI, - one of 60 Sherlockians represented in The Grand Game trading card project.]
The John H Watson Society showed the world just how serious this nascent group of Watson-centric enthusiasts really are by releasing Volume 1, Number 1 of The Watsonian, the journal of the JHWS, which will have reached the majority of subscribers/members this past week. Clocking in at just under 150 pages, The Watsonian is a publication which every Sherlockian will want on their shelf. “Aspiring to become a publication with some degree of the prestige of the Baker Street Journal or the Sherlock Holmes Journal of London, The Watsonian concerns itself with traditional and revisionist articles. Its purpose is simple: to illuminate the good doctor’s life and accomplishment with regard to the many roles he takes, not only as Holmes’s colleague, but also as physician, writer, man of the Victorian era and above all friend.” (p. 7) Authors of note in this inaugural issue include: Bob Katz, Dan Andriacco, Don Yates, Don Libbey, Donald Pollock, Sandy Kozinn and many more. Also, make sure to read Dan Andriacco's short post on receiving his copy in the mail - and once your copy arrives make sure to read Mr Andriacco's essay entitled “Dr Watson, Detective?” in the current issue.
[I was thrilled to find the inaugural issue of The Watsonian in my mailbox this week. Here’s the cover of this professionally printed, biannually produced journal which seeks to be the home of all things related to everyone’s favorite one fixed point.]
Baker Street Beat (speaking of Mr Dan Andriacco) announced some rather exciting news, particularly for Midwestern, USA-based Sherlockians with a penchant for Holmesian/Doylean conferences: “After a one-year absence, a seminar with a new name and a new sponsorship but much in the spirit of the original - exploring Victorian and Doylean topics as well as Sherlockian ones - is coming to Dayton [Ohio]. The Agra Treasurers, a scion society of the Baker Street Irregulars, for the first time will host “Holmes, Doyle, & Friends” on March 14-15, 2014.” For a taste of what to expect, here’s a review with photos of the 2009 Sherlock Holmes/Arthur Conan Doyle Symposium. For those familiar with Mr Andriacco’s first McCabe/Cody novel There’s No Police Like Holmes, rumor has it that the SH/ACD Colloquium (which was hosted by St. Benignus college in Erin, Ohio) portrayed in the novel was based on this long-running Ohio symposium.
[Programme cover for 2009 Sherlock Holmes/Arthur Conan Doyle Symposium.]
Sidgwicks posted a couple of wonderful illustrations by A. Abramov for The Valley of Fear from a 1990 edition. I really love all the images Sidgwicks blog has been posting lately. Keep up the good work!
[Illustrations by A. Abramov for The Valley of Fear, Krasnoyarsk: Krasnoyarsk Publishing House, 1990.]
Times Literary Supplement contains ‘Then and Now’ review of ACD’s Memories and Adventures from 1924 by DL Murray: “A certain great man (it may not be forgotten) was very severe with the Doctor, his collaborator, for always bolting from the straight line of deduction in his record of a case, as soon as he caught sight of a bit of excitement or romance. “You have degraded what should have been a course of lectures”, he would say, “into a series of tales.” Perhaps he would have passed a similar criticism on the other Doctor whose life is told in this volume. If it is wisdom to map out a career and go forward on it with calculated steps, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has not been wise. But that sort of rationality does not make lives which it is a pleasure to recall and fun for other people to hear about; just as detective stories worked out like Euclidean problems would not have made the books that we take care always to have somewhere in the house.” (Thanks to Brenda for the tip!)
[Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Photograph: Mary Evans Picture Library.]
Sherlock Peoria in “A Report From the Front Lines” has this to say about Elementary: “And let’s face it, as much as Elementary's supporters might strain to pull out Canonical detail from the show, would you rather encounter a new acquaintance who had never heard of Sherlock Holmes, or one that had only watched Elementary? Personally, I'd rather work with a blank slate than have to undo the web of weirdness that Elementary has laid over the top of our familiar story cycle.” In related Elementary news/controversy, Breitbart considers (Thanks to IHOSE for the tip!) whether the show is ”guilty of lowering the quality of its content because of politically-correct standards.” Personally, I’m now completely caught up with the New York detective antics of Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu and I’ll admit two things: 1) I really don’t think the show has much to do with Canonical (or otherwise) Sherlock Holmes and 2) I really enjoy watching ‘Sherlock’ and ‘Joan’ interact and am enjoying the show as a quirky TV ‘procedural' (opposed to adaptation or pastiche).
[Canonical gateway drug or canonical diversion?]
Doyleockian remembers the birthday of perhaps the greatest of all actors to play the Great Detective, Mr Jeremy Brett (1933-1995). This Sunday, November 3rd would be Brett’s 80th birthday and though he departed this mortal coil almost 19 years ago, his memory and legacy live on with every new and repeat viewing of Granada’s Sherlock Holmes. Alistair Duncan reminds his readers that: “for the 1980s and 90s Brett was the Holmes. Whether you liked his portrayal or not does not change this. His performance as Holmes crossed two decades and even the recent films of Robert Downey Jr were doing nothing to threaten his position in the Holmes pantheon.” Remember to take a moment this weekend and raise a glass to one of the giants of Sherlockian culture. If you haven’t read David Stuart Davies terrific biography of JB, now is the perfect time to track down a copy of Bending the Willow and spend and evening or two immersed in the time Brett spent becoming/being Sherlock Holmes.
[Happy 80th birthday Jeremy Brett!]
Hypable reports on Ian McKellen's thoughts on playing a retired Sherlock Holmes in the upcoming adaptation of Bill Condon's A Slight Trick of the Mind (2014): “I’ve never had ambitions to play Sherlock Holmes, but this is Sherlock in a very particular place… he’s nearly 100 years old, and in retirement, and it’s more about being a beekeeper than it is being a detective.” According to the Belfast Telegraph though, when McKellen was asked if movie-goers would see him donning a beekeeper’s outfit, the 74-year-old actor said: “You certainly will! There will be plenty of nets too, because I am not going anywhere near any bees, I’ll tell you that now. I have a healthy respect for bees. I love their honey, but that’s about it.” Read the complete interview with McKellen at Empire Online.
[A Slight Trick Of The Mind won’t begin filming until McKellen wraps his current run on Broadway next year. Meanwhile, catch McKellen as Gandalf the Gray in The Hobbit sequel The Desolation of Smaug which will be in theaters this December.]
Sherlockian Scion & Event Links:
The Montague Street Lodgers of Brooklyn are having their 28th annual Autumn gathering on Saturday, November 23, 2013 at 6:30 pm at Caffe Buon Gusto on 151 Montague Street (of course). If you’re in the NYC area, contact Peter Crupe for more information.
The (curious case of the) Watson Intelligence Playwrights Horizons’ upcoming production written by Madeleine George (The Zero Hour) and directed by Obie Award Winner Leigh Silverman (Chinglish, Golden Boy, The Call). “This new production features different Watsons from history, including Alexander Graham Bell’s Watson (as in, “Come here, I want you!”), IBM’s supercomputer Watson, and Dr. John Watson, assistant to you-know-who. It’s a time-jumping fantasy about the assistants and machines on whom we’ve come to depend.” Click here for a video trailer of the play.
Sons of the Copper Beeches held their annual Autumn dinner last Friday, October 26, 2013 at The Racquet Club in Philadelphia (founded in 1889) where yours truly, after participating in a rather disastrous group rendition of ‘The Musgrave Ritual’, was elevated to ‘Journeyman’ status by Headmastiff Dr Bob Katz. A delightful evening was had by all as plans were hatched and drinks were drunk. As usual I missed the last Bolt bus of the night - always the mark of a fine evening - though I had more than enough to read while waiting for a train back to NYC thanks to Steve Rothman, editor of the Baker Street Journal, who had given me a healthy sized box of BSJ back issues to add to my growing collection.
[During the proceedings, I had the great pleasure to sit with a few of my favorite Sherlockians: Starrettian Ray Betzner and BSJ Editor Steve Rothman; not pictured but seated to my immediate right was Wessex Press editor Steve Doyle.]
Weekly Sherlock Links Compendium (October 19 - October 25, 2013)
Sherlockology assured BBC Sherlock fans - completely rabid after two years of waiting for news of Sherlock’s post-Barts Fall - that they “can confirm any UK air dates you see for October or November [as] most definitely false.” Sometimes no news isn’t really good news nor does it really help when dealing with the obvious and acute PTSD afflicting fans of Sherlock Season 2. “The BBC cannot and will not schedule or announce any UK air dates until they have taken delivery of the completed run of three episodes, and even then the air date will only be set in stone around two to three weeks before broadcast. This is standard practice for any BBC programme…” But hark! It appears that the secret is out for Entertainment Weekly has revealed the premiere dates: “Sherlock will return to PBS Masterpiece on Jan. 19 at 10 p.m. That means the show will air back-to-back for the first time with that other hugely popular and influential Brit import, Downton Abbey (which returns Jan. 5). This announcement caps nearly two years of rabid fan speculation about when the third season of the international sensation will premiere. This also marks first time the mystery-thriller’s U.S. air date has been announced before the BBC reveals its UK premiere date (the BBC has the “first window” rights to air the show, so UK fans can at least take heart in knowing they will almost certainly get season 3 sometime before Jan. 19).” In other BBC news: Steven Moffat, purveyor of all that is outrageously cruel, has finally admitted to plans for Season 4 (via Radio Times): “”We had to inform the BBC that Martin and Benedict had commissioned a new series,” said Moffat. “They signed themselves up. They both announced that they were carrying on - so that’s good. “Benedict, at some red carpet event somewhere, said he was carrying on forever. Martin, at another one, said, “Yep, series four is happening”.”” One can almost hear the cry of joy and relief wash over the Internet once these two announcements became established fact.
[If hearing that BBC Sherlock Season 3 will finally air in early 2014 and that Season 4 is in the works wasn’t enough excitement for the BBC fandom to take in one week, Mr Benedict Cumberbatch will appear on the cover of Time magazine at the end of October! ‘And Moffat saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.’]
Sherlock Peoria, partially in reaction to all the BBC Sherlock hullabaloo, made a very interesting observation regarding the possible cause and effect related to the vocal dedication of the BBC fandom: “Yes, Sherlock has fans so passionate that PBS actually acknowledges their existence and considers them in its decisions. You remember Sherlock fans? That oft-discounted-by-elder-Sherlockians group who were once seen as a fluffy flash-in-the-pan? Well, they just got us Sherlock months ahead of when we might have otherwise seen it. They did that. Not grumpy old me, bitching in my blog a few days ago. Not the gathered Baker Street Irregulars of New York, who will be meeting two days prior (and probably in transit home about the time it’s going to be showing). Not any other big name Sherlockian past or present you can name. The Sherlock fans did this. And they should take a well earned victory lap before sitting down to watch “The Empty Hearse” on January 19th. Good on you, ladies and (I know you’re out there!) gents.”
St Bartholomew Hospital in London (cf. picture above), scene of Sherlock’s ‘suicide’ at the end of BBC Sherlock Season 2…and monument of sorts to what Brad Keefauver speculates is the tremendous influence which the noisy yet dedicated BBC fandom seems to wield. Though I respect Mr Keefauver’s position in his essay, let us not forget the real and absolute significance of St Barts: ““Dr. Watson, Mr. Sherlock Holmes,” said Stamford, introducing us. “How are you?” he said cordially, gripping my hand with a strength for which I should hardly have given him credit. “You have been in Afghanistan, I perceive…”” (STUD) And so the world would never be the same again.
[A still from the pretty much spoiler-free Sherlock Season 3 trailer released in late August of 2013. Click the above screenshot to watch what is to some 30 seconds of glorious bliss; and to others, 30 seconds of Moffat-sponsored frustration and torture.]
The International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes premiered this month (October 10, 2013) at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) to rave reviews, leaving Sherlockians living beyond traveling distance of the OMSI no choice but to peruse the wealth of online photos of the exhibits with just a smidgen of envy and a giant dollop of anticipation, for soon the entire show will hit the road and begin a world tour that will hopefully bring the excellent looking 221B simulacrum and the rest to a museum near you! The Oregonian described how attendees have the opportunity to view original manuscripts, period artifacts and investigative tools along with a description of the exhibits that include “Doyle’s Study, an experimentation station, Sherlock Holmes in Baker Street, the “Culture of Sherlock” collection and a mystery game with clues hidden within the museum.” For a taste of what opening night was like, check out this photo set featuring the organizers as well as various Sherlockian VIPs such as Jon Lellenberg and Richard Doyle, great-nephew of ACD and director of the Conan Doyle Estate along with scores of Sherlock enthusiasts, a handful dressed in their finest Victorian threads. The OMSI site offers a range of opportunities for visitors planning an excursion as well as information for schools considering organizing a field trip to the exhibit - which makes me kind of wish that I was in 6th grade and preparing for a visit to the world of Sherlock Holmes, an opportunity that is sure to have a life changing effect on more than a few precocious ‘pre-Sherlockians’ who are sure to look back at that magical day as the moment they caught the Sherlockian bug, permanently altering their lives forever. Finally, for a wonderfully thorough and intimate review of the entire show see this GeekDad post which features a plethora of wonderful photos of the various exhibits, close-ups of the artifacts, a shot of a page from the original manuscript of Hound of the Baskervilles (cf. Randall Stock's history of the HOUN manuscript and why it was broken up at the time of its publication) and more. I'm sure I'll have opportunities to post more about this remarkable event as I count down the days until it arrives in NYC.
[221B, live and direct: Sherlock’s shelves and lab area. Photo by Jonathan H. Liu, who authored the GeekDad post.]
Dan Andriacco, aka Dutch to the John H Watson Society, revealed that Issue #1 of The Watsonian, journal of the fledgling yet ever growing JHWS, is set to appear in mailboxes around the world! My only concern is whether the reported 150 page (!) publication will fit in a standard sized mailbox. And if that wasn’t enough, Mr Andriacco announced that the nascent group is sponsoring an International Canonical Treasure Hunt: the “mega-quiz will consist of 200 questions requiring in-depth knowledge of the Canon and the printed scholarship of the last 75 years. It will be conducted over a one-month period sometime in 2014. As host society, the JHWS will invite teams from the Baker Street Irregulars, the Sherlock Holmes Society of London, the Société Sherlock Holmes de France, the Sherlock Holmes Society of India, the Toronto Bookmakers, the Sherlock Holmes Society of Japan, the Adventuresses of Sherlock Holmes, and other international and U.S. scions who desire to field a crack team of Sherlockian/Watsonian scholars to compete for world honors.” As a member of the JHWS (where I’m known as ‘Baron’), I’m looking forward to receiving Issue #1 immensely as well as participating in the 2014 Canonical Treasure Hunt, along with watching and reporting on whatever else this intrepid group has up it’s tweeds.
[I’ll be waiting patiently for the 150 pages of Watson-centric fun to begin.]
Molly Carr's newest release In Search of Dr Watson (MX, 2013) is now available in a revised, second edition version: “…as much as possible about Doctor Watson. Radically different in style from her first two books, the investigation will nevertheless be of interest to students of military history, railways both Indian and British and of course all fans of Sherlock Holmes. Holmes is a household name. But where would he be without his Biographer? Beavering away in Baker Street, unknown to everyone except Scotland Yard and a few luckless criminals. It is time to put the loyal and much put upon man, Dr. John H. Watson M.D., centre stage.” On a related note to the JHWS and Molly Carr (aka ‘Brenda’), two of her latest books were reviewed on Dr Watson’s Library, a blog maintained by the JHWS which posts reviews and recommendations on books by its members: In Search of Doctor Watson (2nd Edition, MX, 2013) and A Sherlock Holmes Who’s Who (MX, 2012) described as “for the Holmes fanatic who wants to know everything!” You can follow Ms Carr on Twitter and Facebook.
[In Search of Dr Watson 2nd Edition is available from Amazon USA, Barnes and Noble, Amazon UK and Waterstones. For elsewhere Book Depository who offer free delivery worldwide. In ebook format it is in Kindle, Kobo, Nook and iBooks (iPad/iPhone).]
The Baker Street Babes Lyndsay, Melinda, and Sarah in “Episode 46: Moriarty Returns! With Daniel Corey” look at the latest incarnation of the Napoleon of Crime in a comic series that started in 2009. ”Moriarty is a supernatural/dark crime comic that flips the Sherlock Holmes universe on its head–James Moriarty, its sinister and conflicted star, is now the protagonist. Inspired in part by great Professor Moriartys including Laurence Olivier in The Seven Per Cent Solution and Daniel Davis in Star Trek: TNG, Corey set out to solve the mystery, who is Professor Moriarty, since ‘He’s mentioned here and there, but there’s only two stories that involve Professor Moriarty and he’s never actually onstage.’ Who is the Professor in the absence of Holmes, and will his criminal empire ever come to fruition?” Creator Daniel Corey, in an attempt to fund a third series consisting of four more issues, started a Kickstarter campaign where he hopes to raise 24K. Here’s a video of Corey explaining his plans for Moriarty Vol. 3. If you’re interested in where the Morarity series has been so far, check out these video summaries Moriarty Vol. 1: The Dark Chamber and Moriarty Vol, 2: The Lazarus Tree, or you can purchase the first to volumes in hardcover from Image Comics. The series reminds me a little of John Gardner's thought provoking 1970s trilogy of novels which delve into the history and psychology of Holmes' nemesis, painting the Napoleon of Crime in an almost sympathetic light. You can follow Daniel Corey's Moriarty Project on Facebook and Twitter.
[Cover for Moriarty Vol. 1: The Dark Chamber.]
The (Curious Case of the) Watson Intelligence is a theater production premiering in NYC on November 15 and running through December 29, 2013. First off, just so there’s no confusion, the Watson of the Canon only makes up 1/4th of the ‘Watsons’ portrayed in The Watson Intelligence: “Watson: trusty sidekick to Sherlock Holmes; loyal engineer who built Bell’s first telephone; unstoppable super-computer that became reigning Jeopardy! champ; amiable techno-dweeb who, in the present day, is just looking for love. These four constant companions become one in this brilliantly witty, time-jumping, loving tribute (and cautionary tale) dedicated to the people - and machines - upon which we all depend.” My first reaction to reading this description was “Wow” and my second reaction was “this could be amazing, or at the very least interesting.” Now I’m very curious to watch as actors portray John H. Watson, M.D., Late of the Army Medical Department, Thomas A Watson (1854 - 1934), assistant to inventor Alexander Graham Bell, Watson the IBM computer capable of answering questions posed in natural language and a contemporary guy named Watson in a play that sounds like an extended meditation on our post-Industrial Western society - or might just be a zany romp consisting of four characters whose only point of convergence is the name “Watson”. Why can’t I get the image out of my head of Basil Rathbone's sidekick Nigel Bruce holding up a computer and quoting Zoolander: “Oh! The files are in the computer!” (smash goes the computer). Check out the play’s Facebook page and visit TicketCentral.com (use code WATPBE) to order tickets.
[I have absolutely no clue whether The (Curious Case of the) Watson Intelligence will be a hit or miss, but it’s a chance to see our favorite one fixed point in a changing age pushed to his limits by finding himself in an Age that has changed multiple times over.]
Sidgwicks posted a fine promotional still (seen below) for The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1984), featuring a great shot of what could only be the “newly-framed picture of General Gordon" as mentioned by Holmes in "The Cardboard Box" - an image I had just been searching for a few days before in the hopes of, like Watson, using the likeness of Charles George Gordon (circa the ‘Pasha’ years) to not only decorate my wall (framed of course) but to act as a surefire catalyst for a chain of thoughts inevitably leading to “dwelling upon the sadness and horror and useless waste of life” war inevitably breeds, which was of course just part of the contents of Watson’s saturnine mood so adroitly discerned by Holmes during the first scene of “The Cardboard Box”. Sherlockians well-versed in some of the textual oddities of the Canon will of course recall that this memorable ‘mind-reading’ scene from CARD occurs again, almost line for line, in the “The Resident Patient.” For an explanation of why it is that both CARD and RESI include the exact same scene, see Klinger’s ‘The Textual Problem of “The Resident Patient”’
[Promotional still for Granada’s The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1984).]
Quick Sherlock Links:
Sherlockian.net is hands down the most important Sherlock Holmes website in existence and has been for many years. Created by longtime Sherlockian Chris Redmond - his titular name in the BSI of “Billy” was inspired in part by his age at the time of his investiture…he was just 16 - the site serves as the ultimate resource for Sherlockians, whether they’re collecting research for a journal article or neophyte Holmes enthusiasts delving for the first time into the world of Sherlock Holmes culture and scholarship. Which is why I’m thrilled beyond words to see my photo adorning the front page of sherlockian.net! This picture was snapped by the wonderfully talented NYC Sherlockian and photographer Melinda Caric at a book release party for Lyndsay Faye's latest novel Seven For a Secret while I perused the Sherlockian Scholarship bookcase at the Mysterious Bookshop in downtown Manhattan. Unfortunately the edition of the book I’m holding Seventeen Steps to 221B edited by James Edward Holroyd was outside of my price range that evening but that never dampens the pure joy of holding a piece of biblio-Holmesian history. Check out Ms Caric’s complete Seven For a Secret Flickr set for the lowdown on the evenings’ literary debauchery, as well as further proof that Ms Faye’s genius extends well beyond the realm of historical fiction into that of the sartorial.
[Thank you for the honor Chris Redmond and the wonderful photo Melinda Caric - oh yeah, and thanks to Lyndsay’s mixologist husband Gabe Lehner for keeping the book party attendees in good spirits.]
Sherlockian-Sherlock is a relatively new Sherlockian website started earlier this year by three intrepid Hungarians (though the site is in English). I stumbled on it while perusing Chris Redmond's recent updates to the 'Online Resources' section of Sherlockian.net. Initially drawn to the intriguing cadence of “Sherlockian Sherlock Dot Com” after further exploration it is quite the promising web destination for Holmes and ACD enthusiasts. The website's editors/creators - make no mistake, Sherlockian Sherlock is an actual website and not a blog or a Web 2.0-inspired creation - have a particular fascination with Sherlock Holmes art, the dispelling of common misbeliefs related to Holmes, actors who have donned the deerstalker and the science behind the Great Detective. I encourage you to add Sherlockian-Sherlock to your bookmarks posthaste.
Neatorama posted about a newly available Sherlock Holmes Pocket Notebook made-up of 64 pages with a very simple though elegant Sherlock design. Perfect for composing an outline for that Sherlock pastiche you’ve been meaning to write involving Holmes, the Wright Brothers, the Suez Canal and the First Pan-African Conference. Get to it!
[Just remember that if you author notes like “Meet me at the Yew Alley and come alone. PS Bring dog biscuits.” but then decide not to send it, be sure to throw it directly onto the fire so it burns opposed to letting it fall down into the grate where meddling detectives might come across it.]
Sherlockian Scion & Event Links:
The Sherlock Breakfast Club is a Los Angeles-based group of Holmes enthusiasts who meet irregularly for breakfast at Ye Olde King’s Head Pub in Santa Monica, CA. A discussion of a pre-assigned story is followed by a canonical quiz, where the victors win prizes, often from London. Time permitting they screen a Granada episode, usually corresponding to the story du jour. One of the leaders of the group, Bonnie MacBird whom I had the good fortune to meet this past August in MN at Sherlock Holmes Through Time and Place, stresses that the group is very inclusive and welcoming. There are Sherlockians of all stripes and ages, including many BBC Sherlock fans as well as Downey, Rathbone, Elementary, and those of the strictly canonical persuasion. “Everybody gets to express their Sherlockian love, and it’s all rooted in the Canon.” No doubt attendees depart assured that breakfast really is the most important meal of the day! Their next event is November 9, 2013 at the ungodly hour of 9 am.
From Gillette To Brett IV: Basil, Benedict and Beyond is happening September 12 -14, 2014 at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. Put together by purveyors of the finest in Sherlockian publications, Wessex Press's the three day conference “will feature rare Sherlockian films, vendors, and an all-star roster of distinguished speakers, presenters, and events. We are thrilled to present exclusive, 75th Anniversary screenings of Basil Rathbone's The Hound of the Baskevilles (1939) and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1939) in the state-of-the-art IU Cinema.” Mark your calendars.
[I can’t wait!]
* The Sherlockian Calendar is a Holmes-enthusiast’s best friend - visit and visit often.
* If you have a Sherlock Holmes-related event or meeting you would like listed, or any news, gossip or announcements that might interest readers of Always1895.net, please email always1895[@]gmail.com.
Weekly Sherlock Links Compendium (October 12 - October 18, 2013)
UPDATE: I realized that the original title for this post referenced the wrong date range, an error that’s now been corrected.
Dearest Readers - Thank you so much for your patience regarding the lack of posts over the last month. Due to a complete and total computer meltdown, I lost the ability to do any writing at home. As I slowly save up for a new MacBook Air, I’ve managed to piece together an old iMac which should allow me to start posting my Weekly Sherlockian Links Compendium regularly once again. A special thanks to everyone that wrote enquiring about the well-being of the site and me. I’ll be playing catch-up for the next few weeks, but please don’t hesitate to send in new Sherlockian info you would like to see posted.
I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere just in time for All Hallows’ Eve, IHOSE released Ep 57 “A Sherlockian Halloween” where Mr Monty and Mr Wolder discuss “Holmes and the occult [and are] joined by editor and author Charles Prepolec, who together with J.R. Campbell edited Gaslight Grimoire: Fantastic Tales of Sherlock Holmes, Gaslight Grotesque: Nightmare Tales of Sherlock Holmes, and Gaslight Arcanum: Uncanny Tales of Sherlock Holmes, joins us to talk about the intersection of Sherlock Holmes and the spooky, outre and creepy, setting the tone for the season. Charles (who goes by @sherlockeditor on Twitter), had the great fortune to work with the likes of Barbara Hambly, Martin Powell and Kim Newman, among others, and he talks about the selection process for including authors and their works in the anthologies.” Mr Prepolec has a great on-air personality and if you haven’t already, make sure to set aside an hour and give IHOSE Episode 57 a listen. Also, in leu of reading the traditional Editor’s Gas-Lamp, an introduction to a collection of Conan Doyle stories written by ACD biographer John Dickson Carr is read.
[Just one of three collections of Sherlock Holmes pastiches focusing on the more macabre side of the Great Detective and his world from editor, and Ep 57 I HOSE guest, Charles Prepolec.]
Dan Andriacco, along with his publisher MX Publishing put together a special Halloween treat for fans of his McCabe/Cody series: they’re offering up a short Halloween themed story - available for a limited time for free on Amazon Kindle. “”We’ve been tasered, drugged, kidnapped, and almost blown up. So I’m sorry we’re late for the party.” Jeff Cody is having a bad day. But readers will love this short story about a Halloween party gone terribly wrong. If you haven’t read any of the critically acclaimed Sebastian McCabe - Jeff Cody mystery novels, “The Revengers” is the perfect introduction. If you’re already a McCabe-Cody fan, it will give you an enticing taste of their next book.” If you don’t have a Kindle you can still get a free copy by joining the Sherlock Holmes Book newsletter on Facebook. Personally, I’ve saving this story until Halloween draws a little bit closer and maximum ambient spookiness can be achieved.
[A haunting cover for a tale of a Halloween party gone wrong featuring two of my favorite literary characters Jeff Cody and Sebastian McCabe.]
Girl Meets Sherlock posted a touching and insightful piece on the late Marlene Aig, Sherlockian and one of the first Adventuresses of Sherlock Holmes (ASH) as well as an Associated Press reporter, who passed away suddenly in 1996. Having many friends within the ASH world, I’ve heard many speak of Marlene Aig in a tone reserved only for the most exalted and respected of Sherlockians. So it gives me great pleasure to announce that MX Publishing has released a newly unearthed Holmes pastiche by Ms Aig entitled Sherlock Holmes and the Lufton Lady, available as an e-book (Kindle, Nook, Kobo & the iPad). Edited by friend and notable Sherlockian Chris Redmond, “Lufton Lady is a quick, enjoyable read with a charming Holmesian atmosphere and a special flare that surely belonged to Marlene and Marlene alone. It’s a good story, but it’s also a piece of history and a chance to connect with one of the great female pioneers of the world of Sherlock Holmes.” For more information about Marlene Aig, please read this lovely piece on the ASH website (originally published in The Serpentine Muse Vol 13, no. 1, 1996) by two of her closest friends who remind those of us who knew her of the friend we’ve lost and those who didn’t know her of what they’ve missed entitled “Good Night, Marlene.”
[The Lufton Lady by the late Marlene Aig and edited by Chris Redmond of Sherlockian.net.]
Aeon Magazine in “Shamanic powers of insight and the power to bring order out of chaos: Is the detective a priestly figure for our times?” considers the age old question of how best to judge a society and suggests that investigating the relationship detective fiction shares with society is one such fruitful criteria. Defining the detective story as one in which “a felony is committed in mysterious circumstances and then an individual follows clues and makes deductions to discover what happened,” the author Jason Webster, not surprisingly a crime writer, looks at the history of the modern mystery story (modern circa William Godwin’s Caleb Williams (1794) and Edgar Allan Poe’s The Murders in the Rue Morgue (1841)) noting the significance of it’s co-development with the Industrial Revolution and the rise of police detective himself. Perhaps most importantly, Webster writes, the reason in which the detective story became such a huge best-seller almost overnight was due to the role in which the hero detective fulfilled: “Faced with the worst crime (what could be more existentially troubling than a murder?), the detective gives us answers to the most pressing and urgent questions: not only whodunit, but how and why and what it means…In other words, a detective is a kind of priest.” Read on for an intriguing discussion of our search for meaning in the modern age and how detectives such as Sherlock Holmes and GK Chesterton's Father Brown (a literal priest) took on the role of interpreters of human nature.
[Father Brown in one of hundreds of different editions available to the reading public in search of meaning in the modern world.]
Oxford University Press Blog posts the occasional Sherlock Holmes-centric piece either by James O’Brien, author of The Scientific Sherlock Holmes: Cracking the Case With Science and Forensics (Oxford, 2013) or Douglas Kerr, author of Conan Doyle: Writing, Profession and Practice (Oxford, 2013). In “Six Methods of Detection in Sherlock Holmes” Mr O’Brien notes that between the appearance in 1841 of Poe’s The Murders in the Rue Morgue and ACD’s A Study In Scarlet in 1887 ”chance and coincidence played a large part in crime fiction.” But with the rise and domination of the methods of Sherlock Holmes via logic, deduction, and science, new approaches to collecting and analyzing data acquired at a crime scene or from a likely culprit were developed, solidifying the Master and his follower’s reputation as men (and women) of science and innovators of forensic methods. As evidence of Holmes’ particular genius for fusing the theoretical with the pragmatic, O’Brien takes a look at the following Holmesian-championed innovations which, though experimental and even suspect in the days of Lestrade or Gregson, eventually became tools de rigueur for police and private consullting detectives alike: Fingerprints, Typewritten Documents, Handwriting, Footprints, Ciphers and Dogs.
[Holmes and Watson employed the olfactory talents of Pompey the dog in order to track down missing rugby star Godfrey Staunton, chronicled in “The Adventure of the Missing Three-Quarter”. For more information on Holmes and the use of dogs in detective work, I strongly suggest seeking out one of my favorite, though slightly obscure, works by Michael Harrison entitled Cynological Mr. Holmes: Conanical Canines Considered: Dog-lore and Dog-love in the Sherlockian Saga (1985, Magico), which can now be had as an e-book from the Battered Silicon Dispatch Box.]
Doyleockian's Alistair Duncan has posted a number of diverse and interesting pieces in the last few weeks commenting on everything from the resurgence of the Elementary Wars (now that Season 2 is in full swing) to the South Norwood Tourist Board’s attempt to name a lake in honor of ACD - “Lake Conan" is apparently the front runner, but I agree with Mr Duncan that "Lake Conan" is not a very good pick: whether it’s the unappetizing ‘Conan the Barbarian’ association or the fact that ACD is never referred to as just "Conan", almost any other variation on ACD’s name works better. The SNTB has an online poll with various naming options but I have to question their sincerity regarding names other than ‘Lake Conan’ considering the Reichenbach option is misspelled as “Reichenback" [sic]. Speaking of lakes, in another post Pike is discussed…Langdale Pike that is (not the fish), who just happens to be one of my all time favorite minor Canonical characters. Duncan wonders whether the man who sits ”in the bow window of a St. James’s Street club” might best be thought of as “a blend of Mycroft Holmes and Shinwell Johnson. The latter, it will be remembered from “The Illustrious Client”, was Holmes’s source of information, people and gossip in the underworld. Langdale Pike was clearly an upper-class equivalent.” Apparently Elementary Season 2 features a character named Langdale Pike, but even though I have yet to see the episode I guarantee it can’t beat Peter Wyngarde's Pike in Granada's The Three Gables. Coincidently, Wyngarde played the nefarious Baron Grüner in the 1965 BBC production of The Illustrious Client with Douglas Wilmer as Holmes - wherein Shinwell ‘Porky’ Johnson is played by prolific character actor Norman Mitchell. Finally, perhaps Duncan’s most edifying and useful post - at least for Sherlockian book collectors - is “Book Preservation" which contains tips on book preservation along with a link to a PDF about book conservation from the British Library’s Preservation Advisory Centre (click for range of videos on book care).
[Peter Wyngarde as gossip-monger extraordinaire Langdale Pike in Granada’s The Three Gables.]
Quick Sherlock Links:
NPR Books reviews a new autobiography about Jazz legend Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker called Kansas City Lightning: The Rise and Times of Charlie Parker (2013) by Stanley Crouch where it is revealed that “”They read history books. They went to museums,” Crouch says. “Redcross told me, once he said, “Yes, Charles and I, we would sit and we would discuss Sherlock Holmes…”" Something tells me that Holmes, with his affinity for experimenting with his Stradivarius in ways that may have been described as noise by Watson but might today be recognized as experiments in atonality or even freeform cacophony, might have recognized a kindred spirit in Parker and his pioneering bebop sound - not to mention their similarity when it came to seeking recourse in the needle, to which Parker was addicted for most of his short life (he died at 34). If you don’t want to listen to an audio review, Crouch’s biography of Parker was reviewed in the New York Times.
Howard Ostrom, best known for his incredible collection of autographed photos of various big and small screen Holmes and Watson team-ups (hosted virtually on blogger Ross K Foad's NPLH website), recently wrote a three part essay/study entitled “Voices From The Darkness" which takes a look at the African-American Sherlock Holmes progression, history and future in theater, cinema, comics and other mediums. His inspiration for said undertaking can be found in Part 1 (PDF) of “Voices From the Darkness” after coming across a little known Sherlock Holmes film from 1914 called A Tale of a Chicken which featured an all black cast but was virtually non-existent in the annuals of film history. This 1914 silent film would be just one of many to feature a black actor playing the Great Detective (often times with a corresponding all black cast) and Mr Ostrom has done Sherlockians everywhere a great service by unearthing this unique and fascinating bit of Sherlockian and film history.
The Consulting Detective makes the compelling argument that “in the grand scheme of things, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, the 1968 BBC television series, is one of the most important in Sherlock Holmes’ history. It was only the second time that a real attempt was made to bring Arthur Conan Doyle’s work to the small screen.” And yet, as the author Nick Cardillo points out, the work of Douglas Wilmer and later Peter Cushing as Sherlock Holmes is largely forgotten or at least tragically overlooked. Last weekend I re-watched the entire DVD run of Douglas Wilmer’s BBC Sherlock episodes.
I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere marked the 25th anniversary of Without A Clue (1988), perhaps the finest example of a Holmes spoof ever. “Our hero, Sherlock Holmes, is shown to be nothing more than a profligate drunkard of an actor, hired by Dr. Watson (known to himself as “John Watson, the Crime Doctor!”) to mask his true identity as a successful detective whilst applying for a position in an exclusive hospital. Much to his chagrin, the character actor becomes popular and the public (and later Watson) can’t seem to do without him. It was a case of art imitating life, as another doctor - one A. Conan Doyle - was resigned to the same fate as the Crime Doctor.” I’ve always thought that the true genius of Without A Clue lies in the fact that the laughs come not from denigrating the familiar Sherlockian ‘tropes’ but raising them up via experimentation and playfulness to the level of high comedy.
[My favorite poster for Without a Clue.]
Sherlock Peoria looks at “As much as the sixty stories of Sherlock Holmes are spread across all the seasons of the year, there is something particularly autumnal about them….Fall has traditionally also been a season of anticipation for Sherlockians. Preparations are being made for January festivities. New Holmes pastiches are available for Christmas lists. Back from summer breaks, many a Sherlockian society is going full-steam….”
Sherlock Scion & Event Links:
221B Con reminds everyone that you (Yes, you!) have “only one month left to register for only $35. Registration will go up to $45 on November 16. If you filled out a registration form, but have not submitted your payment by November 16, your registration will be deleted. Please email us at reg[at]221bcon.com if you have any questions or issues.” The 2014 221B Con is happening in Atlanta, GA on April 4-6th (which is exactly 167 days, 22 hours and 44 minutes from now). For updated info, complete details and information about registration, hotels, programming, etc. stop in at 221bcon.com.
Amateur Mendicant Society of Detroit recently held their annual Fall Meeting (2013) and the AMS Tantalus Robert Musial thoroughly reviewed the evening’s toasts, sites and sounds. The highlight of the evening seemed to be Regina Stinson's presentation titled “The Legend of the Deerstalker.” Musial reports that: “Her excellently-researched monograph reviewed the two dozen artists who illustrated the Canon in its early days, among them Arthur Conan Doyle’s father, Charles Altamont Doyle; and more popularly, Sidney Paget and Frederic Dorr Steele, who contributed the most iconic depictions of The Master and his surroundings.”
[A few AMS members (from left to right): we have Dr. Ed Stein, Dr. David Mohan, Tantalus Rob Musial and of course I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere’s very own Mr Scott Monty.]
MX Publishing is hosting a free event on Friday, 8 November 2013 (7pm GMT) featuring Matthew J Elliot, author of The Immortals: An Unauthorized guide to Sherlock and Elementary (MX) - a study of BBC Sherlock and CBS Elementary episodes to date, just in time for the second season premiere of Elementary and for the one-day-to-be-released Sherlock (click here for BBC’s latest news on Season3). For more information about the event, check out the The Immortals book release event page on Facebook.
The New York Society Library is hosting an evening with BJ Rahn - an English Literature professor at Hunter College who also runs the site CrimeCritic.com - entitled “The Enduring Appeal of Sherlock Holmes" which will explore "the remarkable international appeal of Holmes (which shows no signs of abating), analyzes the nature of the fascination, and discusses its various manifestations in print, on stage, in films and television, plus museum and library exhibits, conferences, courses, statues, tours, hotels and pubs, and fan societies dedicated to him." Tickets are $10 in advance and will occur on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 5:30pm in the Whitridge Room at the The New York Society Library in Manhattan.
* To find a Sherlockian event in your area, check out The Sherlockian Calendar - maintained by Ron Fish with Sue and Ben Vizoskie of The Three Garridebs of Westchester County, NY. If you are interested in posting an event to the calendar, please email the details to webmaster Ron Fish at RonF404 [at] aol.com.
** If you’d like to see your event/meeting mentioned here on Always1895, please email me the name of your group/event, the details, contact info & web address, Twitter, Facebook, etc. and any other info that should accompany the link.
Friday Sherlock Links Compendium (September 14 - September 20, 2013)
Daily Mail led off with a headline that has probably caused the total mental collapse of hundreds of BBC Sherlock fans, leaving thousands more contemplating what it would take to hire an airgun toting hitman: “U.S. threat to kill off BBC’s Sherlock: Hungarian-born socialite threatens legal action claiming she owns Arthur Conan Doyle character" - say what?! As apocalyptically insane this headline sounds, there’s probably really nothing to worry about. Longtime Sherlockians are probably familiar with the Andrea Plunket saga and her various claims to copyright of the Sherlock Holmes characters/stories based on having once been married to TV producer Sheldon Reynolds - who created the Ron Howard Sherlock Holmes (1954-1955) series as well as a quasi-remake Sherlock Holmes & Doctor Watson (1979-1980) with Geoffrey Whitehead as Holmes - from which she supposedly acquired the copyright in a 1990’s divorce settlement. If this is your first time hearing about Plunket’s claims on the Sherlock Holmes properties (in one form or another) and want to learn more, you are in for a transcontinental soap operatic treat that involves attempted murder, squandered fortunes, a Swiss tax haven, a Georgian ‘princess’ and a bed & breakfast in upstate NY. A 2010 article in the NYT “For the Heirs to Holmes, a Tangled Web" did a good job summarizing the history of ACD’s literary properties, mentioning all the major players since 1930. Next check out "The Case of Andrea Plunket and the Sherlock Holmes Copyrights" for a closer look at Ms Plunket and then see Chris Redmond's “Notes on the Ownership of the Sherlock Holmes Stories" for a variety of relevant links. Note of clarification: Andrea Plunket’s company The Arthur Conan Doyle Literary Estate is not the same entity as the Conan Doyle Estate Ltd., the company currently involved in Klinger v Conan Doyle Estate (cf. Free Sherlock!). Read the Conan Doyle Estate’s view on Plunket here. On a final note, you can find Ms Plunket on Facebook.
[Opening title for Sheldon Reynolds' Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson from 1980. The only place on Earth I’ve been able to find copies to watch is on, ironically, YouTube - though the quality is almost unwatchable due to having been recorded from TV to VHS and then ripped to a video file.]
Sherlock Holmes Exhibition a “unique and interactive experience showcases areas of forensic science that enabled Sherlock Holmes to solve crimes, as well as the historic underpinnings of author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s rich and vibrant stories” opens at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) this October 2013. Exhibits include Dr. Conan Doyle’s Study, the Science & History behind Sherlock Holmes’s methods, a recreation of Sherlock Holmes’ sitting room at 221B Baker Street and an exhibit dedicated to Sherlockiana and Culture in all it’s manifestations. For the latest news and updates regarding what is sure to be one of the greatest popular Sherlock Holmes events in decades make sure to follow @SherlockExhibit on Twitter and The International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes on Facebook. Speaking of news, on September 18th their Facebook and Twitter excitedly announced “The first artifact crate from the UK arrived at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) today!”
[Click for a PDF of the International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes Press Release.]
The Norwood Builder put together a post that is a stunning example of why being a Sherlockian is one off greatest intellectual ‘lifestyle choices’ one can make. In “Sherlock Holmes’ clients - Or: The demography of Canon" readers are treated to an amazing undertaking where we find the Norwood Builder "trying to get a bird’s eye view of Sherlock Holmes’ canonical clients, with a particular regard to their demographic representativeness - or lack of it." When a prospective client marches down Baker Street, zeros in on ‘221B’, gains admittance from Mrs Hudson (or a boy in buttons) and ascends the seventeen steps leading to the sitting room of Mr Sherlock Holmes, it’s important to remember that said client does not simply materialize out of thin-air but possesses a rich biography. As (fanatical) readers of the Canon, we have a strong sense that these biographies are varied and drawn from all strata of society: for every Wilhelm Gottsreich Sigismond von Ormstein there is a Shinwell ‘Porky’ Johnson; with every missing Lady Frances Carfax there is a Mrs Amberley whose fate for better or worse must be discovered; for each wrongly accused Thaddeus Sholto there is a John Horner or even a Flora Millar whose name must be cleared. But does the assumption that Holmes’ clients came from all walks of life hold true? To answer this question, Holmes’ Canonical clients are broken down by Type, Gender and Status and the results will surprise you! The Norwood Builder’s blog is no stranger to the application of statistical analysis to elements in the Canon: click here to see all his posts tagged with “statistics.”
[“…and then he entered himself–so large, so pompous, and so dignified that he was the very embodiment of self-possession and solidity. And yet his first action, when the door had closed behind him, was to stagger against the table, whence he slipped down upon the floor, and there was that majestic figure prostrate and insensible upon our bearskin hearthrug.” (PRIO)]
I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere reports on Mr Jerry Margolin’s, BSI (“Hilton Cubitt”) latest Sherlockian objets d’art acquisition, the original artwork for a piece titled Sherlock Joker, the Crown Prince of Crime Detection (insert combination of the Joker’s infamous “Hahahah…” maniacal laughter with Holmes’ measured comments on Early English Charters) which was the original art used for one of two cards depicting Batman’s arch nemesis the Joker in the guise of the Great Detective for Batman Master Series, a 1996 card set released by Fleer. Where as Margolin’s piece depicts a somewhat calm Joker hamming it up in deerstalker and calabash but revealing a glimpse of his true insanity via the magnifying glass, the second Sherlock Joker image shows Arkham Asylum's number one resident patient at the apex of total madness revealed by the now shattered magnifying glass. There is a long history of Sherlock Holmes appearing alongside Gotham’s Caped Crusader, but the most recognizable is from the cover of the 50th anniversary of Detective Comics, Issue #572 (March 1987), where we see Batman and Holmes paging through the 1937 Detective Comics issue where ‘The Batman’ first appeared. One of the stories contains an amusing panel sequence where we see Batman and Sherlock Holmes (at 135!) discussing his secret to good health: ”A proper diet, a certain distillation of royal jelly developed in my beekeeping days, and the rarified atmosphere of Tibet, where I keep my primary residence…” Batman then attempts to light Holmes’ pipe only to be told “Thank you, for I’m afraid the pipe is purely for show these days.”
[“Holy Sherlock Holmes!" Congratulations Jerry on Sherlock Joker, one of two Joker as Sherlock Holmes renderings, by artist Carl Critchlow, originally commissioned by Fleer as part of the Batman Master Series set.]
Lyndsay Faye, as announced last week, appeared at The Mysterious Bookshop in NYC for the launch of her latest novel, the sequel to the excellent The Gods of Gotham, Seven For a Secret - and it was a ‘Wilde time.’ Not surprisingly there was a strong Sherlockian presence on hand to support Ms Faye as she discussed the world of Timothy and Val Wilde as well as the time period in which they lived. Most interestingly was her discussion of the various reactions she’s received regarding the moral outlook and attitudes of the characters, in particular the criticism (by some) that Timothy Wilde’s views on blacks, gays and religion are overly ‘modern’. For further proof that Ms Faye’s literary star is rising, read her interview in last Sunday’s LA Review of Books “Sherlockian Girl Goes Wilde" (Ha! Get it?)
[Photo by Erin Malone - the Mysterious Bookshop makes for the perfect environment to reflect on New York in the 1840s.]
Baker Street Babes, in their first NC-17-rated podcast, released Episode 44: “Sherlock Holmes After Dark Pt I” wherein “Babes Curly, Liz, & Lyndsay talk dirty with Les Klinger, Sketchlock, reapersun, and Madlori in this first of two episodes about doing the dirty in Sherlockiana. This is the first of a two parter episode. In the first part we cover Victorian Pornography, how Les started collecting Sherlockian porn, his recommendations, and then why women like slash.” My guess is that Part II will be an hour long analysis/discussion of the Granada scene from “The Master Blackmailer” wherein Jeremy Brett is filmed canoodling with Agatha, Milverton’s housemaid, in what has to be the single most awkward (sexual) moment in the history of Sherlockian anything in any medium ever. The Babes of course aren’t the first Sherlockians to delve into the sexual underpinnings of the Canon. Mr Chris Redmond wrote a book titled In Bed With Sherlock Holmes: Sexual Elements in Arthur Conan Doyle’s Stories of the Great Detective which not only analyses sexual elements in the Canon, but also looks at the non-Sherlockian fiction, letters, essays and speeches of ACD as well as aspects from his personal life. Finally, for a good time, check out I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere's “Top 10 Most Suggestive Lines from the Sherlock Holmes Stories.” For example, #8: “I remember nothing until I found myself lying on my bed trembling all over. Then I thought of you, Mr. Holmes.” (COPP)
[The above image is everyone’s favorite ‘suggestive’ Canonical illustration, though it actually depicts Holmes and Watson relaxing at the Turkish baths, but I’m never quite sure if that makes the picture more or less suggestive: “ I had asked him whether anything was stirring, and for answer he had shot his long, thin, nervous arm out of the sheets which enveloped him and had drawn an envelope from the inside pocket of the coat which hung beside him.” (ILLU)]
The Hollywood Reporter in “Conan Doyle Estate: Denying Sherlock Holmes Copyright Gives Him ‘Multiple Personalities’” reports on the latest development in the Klinger vs Conan Doyle Estate lawsuit. In response to Klinger’s lawsuit arguing that the major story elements of the Sherlock Holmes stories are fair game, ie. the free use of Canonical characters such as Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson, irregardless of the fact that a few of the final stories have yet to enter the public domain. “The Doyle estate makes the case for a special breed of “complex literary characters” (unlike alleged “flat” television ones like Amos ‘n’ Andy) who develop their personalities, not always as expected, presumably making them more real. The defendant says, “Sherlock Holmes is such character, having all of the complex background and maturing emotions, thoughts, relationships and actions that characterize human development over time.”” Put simply, the Estate makes the claim that Sherlock Holmes is the sum of all sixty stories and since not all sixty stories are in the public domain, Sherlock Holmes can’t be freely used since ‘part of him’ is still protected. An interesting argument for sure, but will it stand up in a court of law? On a related note, read Alistair Duncan's views on the Free Sherlock case here.
Friends of the Soldier Named Murray a Sherlock Holmes Society based out of The Terrance on Mountain Creek, an assisted living facility in Chattanooga, TN., was recently made an Official Scion of the Baker Street Irregulars. Consisting of about 16-18 “active members attending each meeting…the study group meets monthly and discusses a different Sherlock Holmes short story….Any person who is a resident in an Assisted Living Facility and would like to form a Sherlock Holmes Society may contact the “Friends of the Soldier Named Murray” by email request to Jody Baker for tips, forms and other organizational assistance.” Sherlockians truly are everywhere!
Sidgwicks uncovered another wonderful illustration from a non-English source, this time in an Italian translation of The Sign of Four by Ugo Matania for “Il segno dei quattro”, Il Romanzo Per Tutti (Vol. 4, No. 5), 1948. Earlier this month, Sidgwicks posted a scan from a German edition of The Hound of the Baskervilles: Richard Gutschmidt for Der Hund von Baskerville, Stuttgart: Robert Lutz, 1907. I’ve seen a few illustrations from German and Italian translations over the years and they’ve all been rather stunning. Perhaps one day someone will publish a collection of non-English edition illustrations of the Canon.
[“He began to play some low, dreamy, melodious air,”]
Friday Sherlock Links Compendium (September 7 - September 13, 2013)
Meiringens posted a letter from my Sherlockian hero Vincent Starrett to mystery duo ‘Ellery Queen' quoted in the wonderfully rare The Misadventures of Sherlock Holmes 1944. For those unfamiliar with Queen’s collection of Holmes pastiches (written up to 1944) that was for all intents and purposes removed from the shelves due to (legal) complaints from ACD’s rapacious children Adrian and Dennis Doyle, I strongly suggest reading Jon Lellenberg's account of the affair in the essential BSI Archival History: Irregular Proceedings of the Mid ‘Forties (1995). The book first appeared at the BSI’s March 1944 legendary “Trilogy” dinner “held at the Murray Hill Hotel to celebrate publication of three landmark books: Profile by Gaslight, Edgar W. Smith’s anthology of BSI Writings About the Writings; Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson: A Textbook of Friendship, Christopher Morley’s groundbreaking version of an annotated Canon; and The Misadventures of Sherlock Holmes, Ellery Queen’s collection of parodies and pastiches” (from Lellenberg’s “March of Time”). Copies of The Misadventures of Sherlock Holmes go for as high as $750 though you can download a copy for free in a variety of formats from Archive.org. Prior to Vincent Starrett’s offering of “The Unique Hamlet”, argued by some to be the greatest Holmes pastiche ever written, Queen writes the following: "But in your Editors’ opinion one of the most provocative paragraphs Mr. Starrett ever wrote about Holmes has never appeared in print until now. Here it is a postscript from one of Mr. Starrett’s letters to your Editors:"
[“I’ve always wanted to do a synthetic Sherlock. the beginning of one story, the middle of another, and the conclusion of a third; or perhaps six or eight of the adventures merged into a perfect Holmes tale…” Click Archive.org for the entire text of Queen’s (eds) The Misadventures of Sherlock Holmes and to see the Starrett/Queen exchange in context.]
Baker Street Journal arrived in my mailbox this week and the Autumn 2013 (Vol. 63, No. 3) issue is one of the all around best issues I’ve read this year; they’ve all been good, but this spytastic, BRUC-centric issue is particularly terrific. Contributors include Sherlockian.net's Chris Redmond with a piece analyzing a deceptively simple line of text spoken by Violet Westbury, fiancee of the deceased Arthur Cadogen West, from BRUC, author Lyndsay Faye discussing Holmes’ relationship with popular though morbid Victorian publication Newgate Calendar (subtitled “The Malefactors’ Bloody Register”) as well as narcotics, Fred Leise discussing Holmes’ Indexing abilities, Leslie Klinger arguing for Watson as the true genius behind the Canon, Peter Calamai writes about a 10-bedroom manor house that had been home to a Baskerville family at one time, Nancy Holder with “Sherlock Holmes, My (Comic Book) Hero”, Terence Faherty with “A Case of Paternity” and Albert Silverstein with “Reflections on the Holmesic Hero”, along with a particularly engaging ‘Letters To Baker Street’ section. If you’re not currently a subscriber, then I suggest borrowing $38.50 from a close friend and clicking here.
[BRUC-centric cover for BSJ issue Autumn 2013 (Vol. 63, No. 3).]
Lyndsay Faye, author of Dust and Shadows and The Gods of Gotham as well as numerous articles for publications like The Baker Street Journal as well as popular blogs such as Tor, will be reading from her latest novel Seven for a Secret, the second Timothy Wilde novel set in 1860s New York City at The Mysterious Bookshop on September 18th from 6:00 to 8:00 pm. The Mysterious Books launch party will also include a special drink made by Faye’s extremely talented ‘mixologist’ husband Gabriel Lehner billed as ‘Wilde’s Secret’ - and if it’s anything like Gabe’s Gods of Gotham-inspired cocktail, attendees are in for a ‘spirited’ evening (and semi-painful morning). Seven for a Secret was also chosen by IndieBound as their ‘October read’. Also make sure to read Ms Faye’s recent essay for Criminal Element entitled “Holmes 2.0: Life in the New Sherlockian Renaissance”: “We are not quite normal, we Sherlock Holmes fanatics, supposing normalcy exists. Of late, however, there are a lot of us. There are a very, very great many, in all shapes and sizes and colors and ages, and we daily gain recruits to our geekish hordes. Brainy, you could argue, is the new sexy. Which leads me to ask two questions. Why now? And why Holmes?” Finally in LF-related news, Ms Faye recently announced: “I’m going to be writing multiple guest issues of the incredibly fierce comic Watson and Holmes.”
[The cover of Ms Faye’s latest Wilde novel Seven For a Secret.]
Digital Spy announced that this December 2013 Dynamite Comics has drafted writer David Liss and artist Daniel Indro to “tackle the classic Arthur Conan Doyle villain in a five-issue miniseries” Sherlock Holmes: Moriarty Lives, which “will center around the detective’s foe, with no appearance from Holmes.” ComicsBeat reported Liss describing a bit more of what we can expect from the Napoleon of Crime: “No one is the villain of their own narrative, and no one is evil all the time, so I thought it be fun to tell a story about a very bad man who finds himself in a situation in which he chooses to be good - mostly. At least a little. This story is going to take place right after the Arthur Conan Doyle story, “The Final Problem,” in which both [Holmes and Moriarty] presumably die in Switzerland. What if Moriarty survived the fall? Where did he go?” And a third blog, ICv2, suggests that this post-Reichenbach Morarity will be using “his intellect and cunning to battle a villain far more evil and dangerous than the criminal mastermind himself.” The cover art for Issue #1 is super epic (cf. below) and has me all pumped up to read about the ‘good’ Professor existing in a world free from Holmes’ incommoding, hampering, inconveniencing and/or persecuting.
[Professor James Moriarty just moments after getting Bartitsued down the Reichenbach Falls; other than getting really really wet, what other effects will Moriarty’s ‘fall’ have on “the organizer of half that is evil” in London?]
Sherlock Peoria in “Important classic literature or pop culture?” reflects on a recent Forbes article - written in a genre style which Keefauver declaims as “these kids today just aren’t the people we were” - declaring that only 5% of college students know that the Sherlock Holmes tales were authored by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (or that Aldous Huxley wrote Brave New World; Marie Curie discovered radium; Euclid is the father of geometry; Mozart wrote Don Giovanni) but: “knowing the name of the creator of a legend that has been passed along through the hands of storyteller after storyteller is special knowledge, reserved for those who care enough to look back into the past. Sure, you don’t have to look hard to find Doyle, but you do have to make the effort to look. Should we be educating every child in America that Conan Doyle wrote the stories? Do we even want to force every child in America to read the stories to broaden their minds Sherlockianly?” I’m guessing that only 5% of hardcore Sherlockians would answer that ACD authored the Sherlock Holmes tales as well.
[A rendering of the supposed author of the Sherlock Holmes tales, an author which supposedly only 5% of ‘kids these days’ would be able to name.]
Free Sherlock! posted the latest epic update in the Homeric Klinger vs the Conan Doyle Estate Ltd. legal battle vying for the hearts and minds of Canonical characters everywhere…or less dramatically: “On September 10, 2013, the Conan Doyle Estate Ltd. filed opposition to our Motion for Summary Judgment, along with declarations from the Estate’s witnesses Jon Lellenberg, George Fletcher, Larry Woiwode, Valerie Sayers, and Loren Estleman. We have 14 days in which to respond, and upon filing with the Court, we will post our response on this website. Thereafter, it will be up to the Court to determine the outcome.” (Click on the above names for the PDF of their ‘Declarations’ aka their affidavit, which are actually all rather interesting reading.)
[I’ll admit to being a tad disappointed by the lack of Canonical names to be found in the cast of legal characters involved in this case. Just imagine if there was a “Frankland” to be had or even a non-Canonical but equally amusing “Playfair”. ]
Doyleockian reflects on where to begin in the world of collecting Sherlockiana. To the novice Sherlockian the possibilities for collecting seem infinite but unless you plan on spending the rest of your life trying to be the second coming of John Bennett Shaw, the faster you figure out just exactly what your Sherlockiana niche is, the faster you can get out there and collect. Alistair Duncan advises: “Well the first thing you need to do is define your scope. You cannot hope to collect everything so you must focus. You could elect to focus purely on the canonical (i.e. written) Holmes and collect items relating to that. Or you could focus on one or more of the adaptations. Alternatively you could set your focus differently.”
[Bookplate from John Bennett Shaw.]
Sherlock’s Danger Night put together a truly remarkable list which attempts to exhaustively enumerate every book and magazine used on BBC Sherlock. Proprietress mid0nz, with the help of a few volunteers, maintains both a Tumblr and a LiveJournal and appears to be updated as new information becomes available. Originally brought to my attention via the Baker Street Babes, I can’t help but concur with their continual astonishment at the “amount of detail that members of the Sherlock fandom go into to uncover clues, decipher scenes, and explore the intricacies of the characters.” Along with the list itself, there is a “key for which episodes the various tomes and weeklies appear in…[and] even goes further and lists the books found in other episodes that aren’t necessarily at 221B” (eg. the C.O.’s office from Hounds of the Baskerville). Personally, my favorite book at BBC 221B is Richard Dawkins’ The Selfish Gene, where the concept of a meme was first coined, and then abused ad nauseum with the advent of the Internet.
[“Knowledge of Literature - nil??]
Baker Street Babes announced that they are “starting to post guest articles here on the site and we are very happy to say that the very first shall be from the illustrious collector Howard Ostrom! His full essay…is a doozy and incredibly fun! Sherlock Holmes as a cowboy. Enjoy!” “The Case of The Vitagraph Holmes” (Or, Cowboy in a Deerstalker) is the essay of the week and highly recommended reading if you have a few moments.
Don Libey, Co-Director of the recently formed John H Watson Society, released The Biography & Autobiography of Sherlock Holmes: Being a two book, one volume edition of ‘My Brother, Sherloc’ by Mycroft Holmes and ‘Montague Notations’ by Sherlock Holmes (Campbell & Lewis, 2013), two fascinating though highly speculative accounts of the ‘real’ life of Sherlock Holmes. For starters, imagine if Holmes never actually lived on Baker Street but instead lived and worked out of Montague Street - and that’s just the start. Even if you’re not a fan of pastiches, Mr Libey’s approach is scholarly and drenched in the Canon and should appeal to those with purist tendencies as well as pastiche lovers alike.
Dan Andriacco inspired by the recent flurry of discussion surrounding the news that Sir Ian McKellen has been cast in the role of the Great Detective for the film adaptation of Mitch Cullen’s A Slight Trick of the Mind (2005), a pastiche that apparently many Sherlockians - including myself - are unfamiliar, recommends another book where we find Holmes in the Winter of his Life: Michael Chabon's excellent The Final Solution: A Story of Detection (2005): “To me this little book (131 pages) is a gem. It’s about a nine-year-old boy, German and mute, and an 89-year-year-old beekeeper referred to only as “the old man.” The boy is a refugee from Nazi Germany. He doesn’t talk, but his bird does.” Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Chabon is one of my favorite contemporary authors, having written Wonder Boys (which was made into an excellent film featuring Michael Douglas, Tobey Maguire, Katie Holmes and, playing amorous book editor Terry Crabtree, one Robert Downey Jr!), The Yiddish Policeman’s Ball, and his epic love letter to the Golden Age of comic books, the brilliantly entertaining The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (2000).
[Chabon’s amazing The Final Solution is one of the best Holmes pastiches out there.]
The Consulting Detective explains why The Sign of Four is a masterpiece: “Of all of Doyle’s novels, this one if perhaps the most original. The fact that it manages to cross a number of genre lines is excellent, making it perhaps the most entertaining of the four original Sherlock Holmes novels…[as well as] the most historically important Sherlock Holmes stories. For the first time in print, Sherlock Holmes is portrayed taking drugs…” It’s refreshing to read a blog post that’s strictly about the Canon, in this case the virtues of the second Holmes novel from an historic, aesthetic and cultural perspective.
[One of my favorite SIGN covers.]
CB Productions Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure adapted by Steven Dietz, based on the original 1899 play by William Gillette and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle November 1-10, 2013: “The King of Bohemia is about to be blackmailed by a notorious photograph, and the woman at the heart of this crime is the famous opera singer, Irene Adler. With his trusted companion, Doctor Watson, at his side, Sherlock Holmes pursues first the case, and then the affections of Miss Adler - and in doing so, marches right into the lair of his longtime adversary, that malevolent genius of crime: Professor Moriarty.” If you’re in the St Paul/Minneapolis area, this sounds like a promising Sherlockian night at the theater.
Tea at 221B in “Canon Sherlock Holmes Comic Books” looks at a unique series of Canonically-inspired comics Cases of Sherlock Holmes created by Dan Day: “The original run of fifteen was published bi-monthly in 1988 by Renegade Press. The remaining five issues were published by Northstar.” Even if comics aren’t your thing, these releases are about as good as it’s going to get in terms of Canon-to-illustration reading. I own most of the Cases of Sherlock Holmes issues and compared to the majority of Holmes-inspired comics that have been released over the last 50 years, these are actually worth owning, or at least perusing, and some of the cover art is quality enough to out in a frame and hang on your wall. Check out the rest of the images posted by Tea at 221B and if you have a hankering to acquire a few issues of your own, eBay appears to have most of them for reasonable prices ranging from $3 to $10 an issue.
[Just one of many wonderfully illustrated, Canonically-sensible covers from the Cases of Sherlock Holmes comic series from 1988.]
Sherlockian Scion Links:
John H Watson Society recently added a section to their website titled “The Doctor’s Bookshelf" consisting of reviews of books written by JHWS members. Volumes reviewed so far include: the sixth issue of Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine, two books by Kieran McMullen (“Raleigh”) The Many Watsons and the three-in-one hardcover from MX Holmes & Watson: The War Years, Jon Lellenberg's (“Towser”) exquisitely edited (and designed) ACD diary Dangerous Work: Diary of an Arctic Adventure, Sherlock Holmes Society of London’s Nicholas Utechin (“Rex”) Amazing & Extraordinary Facts: Sherlock Holmes, the Wessex Press published pastiche by Ann Margaret Lewis (“Cameo”) Murder in the Vatican: The Church Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes, Roger Johnson and Jean Upton's The Sherlock Holmes Miscellany, “Dutch” aka Mr Dan Andiacco's The Disappearance of Mr James Phillimore. As a certain old bookseller once remarked to a distracted doctor: “With five volumes you could just fill that gap on that second shelf. It looks untidy, does it not, sir?” (EMPT)
[“I moved my head to look at the cabinet behind me. When I turned again, Sherlock Holmes was standing smiling at me across my study table. I rose to my feet, stared at him for some seconds in utter amazement, and then it appears that I must have fainted for the first and the last time in my life.” (EMPT)]
* To find a Sherlockian event in your area, check out The Sherlockian Calendar - maintained by Ron Fish with Sue and Ben Vizoskie of The Three Garridebs of Westchester Country, NY. If you are interested in posting an event to the calendar, please email the details to webmaster Ron Fish at RonF404 [at] aol.com.
** If you’d like to see your event mentioned here on Always1895, please email me the name of your group/event, the details, contact info & web address Twitter, Facebook, etc. and any other info that should accompany the above.