Midweek Sherlock Links Roundup (May 19 - May 23, 2012)
Criminal Element published Sherlockian and novelist Lyndsay Faye's kerb grinding, honest as sin piece entitled 'A Holmes Fan’s Mistrust of Elementary: An Open Apology to CBS' which plots out rather nicely just what Holmes fans don't (whether they know it or not yet) like about CBS's Elementary along with an open apology that’s anything but! This article is a case study in how one engages the insipid though heavily promoted philistine world’s attempt at - let’s be frank now - cashing in on that “whole Sherlock Holmes thing”. Ms Faye, with killer one-two punch of wit and erudition, clears the playing field which has been rather muddled since the announcement of CBS’s adaptation (or usurpation) of the Master (and/or his name). On the one side, level headed Sherlockians are suggesting that we just give Elementary a chance because who knows, it might be good? On the other, the assassins of Moffat/the berserkers of Cumberbatch have swooped down to violently condemn any encroachment on Moffat’s turf. Though they may have a point in this case, my worry is that any future attempt (legitimate or otherwise) at adapting Sherlock Holmes will have to face the Sherlock Tumblr blog firing squad, regardless of the quality of the adaptation. Anyway, I’ve digressed a tad here, but Ms Faye nails a majority of the ‘deeper’ points as to why Elementary is an institution to be feared and mistrusted and her piece is an absolute must read.
[“The problem is that we fear the ethos of our beloved characters will be ignored in favor of market research and general Los Angeles willy-nillying, and we already have a bit of a sugar high from all the Holmesian brilliance of late, and from over here, it looks like you made your potato salad with daikon radish, and that isn’t what a potato salad is, CBS.”]
Vanity Fair's latest issue published one of their best long form essays I've read in a while which is actually more of a reflection piece on the legacy of Manhattan 'club life' - “club” in this case referring to storied old gentlemen's clubs based on the British model (a good reference to the authentic English species is Anthony Lejeune's The Gentlemen’s Clubs of London). The majority of these institutions were or are on 44th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues and the author, due to a variety of circumstances, has had access to a few of the more revered clubs as well as the people who have frequented them. In a refreshing move this piece tactfully avoids (truly a sign of good breeding) any talk of privilege, class and elitism so as to simply concentrate on an illustration of ‘club life’. This approach gives it a very Joseph Mitchell (of Up In the Old Hotel fame) feel but instead of writing about down-on-their-luck, unhappy drunks we get to read about…well, sort of down-on-their-luck, unhappy drunks, but in a more blue-bloody, nostalgic way. Early on Alexander Woollcott is name checked - if you’re familiar with the story of the very first Baker Street Irregulars dinner involving Vincent Starrett, two hansom cabs, a stolen deerstalker and the notorious Woollcott (called “the Vicious Circle’s most vicious zinger slinger” in this piece) this should help give you a partial idea of the caliber of people under discussion - along with a dizzying array of characters and personages of either the New Yorker writer-type or the progeny of 19th century railroad barons, both of whom seem to gravitate toward ‘club life’ and it’s trappings. A truly fascinating article. (Thanks to John Baesch, BSI (“State and Merton County Railroad”) ASH, SBB, SHSL, SSHB, WRI, etc. for the tip!!)
[Outside the Algonquin - home of the Algonquin Round Table, the celebrated group of New York City writers, critics, actors and wits, including Woollcott, Dorothy Parker, Harold Ross and occasionally Harpo Marx.]
Re: Sherlock Holmes' (as mentioned briefly in an earlier post) Mattias Boström posted a top 10 list of Sherlockians who “have had the biggest influence on the 125 years of Sherlock Holmes? Persons whose decisions – positive or negative – and deeds have changed the future of the detective” (barring ACD of course). You should read Mr Bostrum’s post in it’s entirety but oddly enough I find that I agree much more with his ‘Top 10 runner’s up” versus his primary Top 10 list. Though his main Top 10 list features Christopher Morley and Jeremy Brett, many of the other names are, I feel, less important, particularly in the sense of having “the biggest influence on the 125 years of Sherlock”. On the other hand, Mr Bostrum’s Top 10 runners-up list includes: Frederic Dorr Steele, Vincent Starrett, Edgar W. Smith, William S. Baring-Gould and John Bennett Shaw. With the notion of ‘most influential Sherlockians’ at the front of my mind, I realized that the list of attendees of the 1949 BSI Dinner contains about 90% of the most influential Sherlockians I would choose - which kinda shows which way my bias goes. Another great post from Mr Boström that gets the ol’ brain engine running.
[Princess Nina Mdivani Conan Doyle Harwood (widow of Denis Conan Doyle) is #6 on Boström’s list - she ended up involved with a lot of later copyright disputes involving the ACD estate. Now that I’m re-reading his list maybe I agree with him more than I originally had.]
Quick Sherlock Links:
Alistair Duncan in anticipation for Undershaw’s day in court posted a photo of “the High Court where, on Wednesday, the latest round of the battle to Save Undershaw will be fought.” Dan Andriacco also posted his last minute suggestions for how you can still help Save Undershaw! So many people have worked tirelessly to save Undershaw I can only hope that the Wednesday (today) hearing goes well for our side. UPDATE: according to @alistair221b & @BakerStBabes “Reserved decision.” Apparently the end of July is when the final verdict will be given. Check in with @Save_Undershaw for up to the minute details.
The Norwegian Explorers of MN announced the dates for their next tri-annual conference: Aug 9-11, 2013. Visit the venerable Norwegian Explorers here on FB for more info. Please note that’s 2013 and not 2012! There is a 117% probability that I will be in attendance.
LA Times mentioned the “Hammer Readings event dedicated to the great detective Sherlock Holmes. Led by untiring Holmes annotator Leslie Klinger, and including mystery writer Denise Hamilton, filmmaker Nicholas Meyer and private eye Sarah Alcorn, this evening – like Broad’s – will surely be more than just …. elementary.”
Press Association announced that Steven Moffat - you know that guy who runs those two shows - has won via the BAFTAs the ingeniously titled “Special Award” which will be given to him “at the [BAFTA] event at the Royal Festival Hall in central London on May 27.” Bahhh, I could have won ‘The Special Award’ if they had picked me to run Doctor Who and Sherlock; what’s the big deal? A little clever dialogue here, some complicated explanation of a complicated explanation over there, a bespoke wardrobe and a fez, a dash of rabid fandom culture and a heart of gold masked by shadowy yet heartbreaking occurrences which happened prior to events on the show - so easy!
The Independent ran some hard-hitting journalism that investigates “Sherlock Holmes and the mystery of the missing eight minutes. A painful cut to the BBC’s reinvention of the classic detective has left US fans in uproar.” And that’s just the sub-headline! This is actually a pretty good article from a UK news source writing about BBC Sherlock's reception in the U.S.A. Can't you feel that we're getting that much closer to that happy day when a “quartering of the Union Jack with the Stars and Stripes” eliminates the need to mercilessly cut 8 previous minutes of Cumberbatch.
Radio Locked posted this fantastic Great Mouse Detective art. I like that they even nailed the mid-century modern chair used in BBC Sherlock's221B. One complaint: Cumberbatch's Sherlock is right-handed and this Great Mouse Detective is playing the violin as a lefty.
Wear Sherlock won a design contest at Qwertee: “Thanks to your amazing number of votes our B&W recreation of the H.O.U.N.D. Liberty, In[diana] shirt as seen in Sherlock S2E2 will now be printed at qwertee.com!” I’ll be purchasing two of these excellent items myself and I recommend that you do the same before they sell out.
[A version of the H.O.U.N.D. shirt seen in Season 2, Episode 2 “Hounds of the Baskerville.”]
Baker Street Babes flexed their Google Translate muscles and picked up a little nugget of information regarding the new Russian Sherlock - and the director plans to only “use the motives of the original stories, and will recreate the stories almost from scratch. The series will also assume that Watson’s descriptions of the crimes have been embellished. Later he will try to adjust reality to his fantasies.” At this point it sounds hit or miss, but still better than Elementary (how do you say “oh snap!” in Russian?).
Altamont Markings in a fun, rather free-wheeling essay which attempts to show how “The Empty House”, via the “imaginative use of cultural metaphors in common currency”, sets-up a ”credible re-establishment of Sherlock Holmes at the centre of Edwardian life”, having returned from the dead and all. It may seem a little muddled on your first try, but on your second reading you can begin teasing out a few interesting threads which help to contextualize the world in which Sherlock Holmes now found himself (ie. 10 years after FINA).
The Guardian as well as PBS Masterpiece on Monday both hosted live chats with the arguably the man of the hour Steve Moffat. Transcripts are available for both sessions, but I’m a little sad that the question I posed was not chosen. Maybe next time Steve old buddy?
Molly Carr posted this rather nebulous and mysterious image + text: Beware the Mastiff!
[Description of the mastiff Carlo: “I was standing, rapt in the peaceful beauty of the scene, when I was aware that something was moving under the shadow of the copper beeches. As it emerged into the moonshine I saw what it was. It was a giant dog, as large as a calf, tawny tinted, with hanging jowl, black muzzle, and huge projecting bones. It walked slowly across the lawn and vanished into the shadow upon the other side. That dreadful sentinel sent a chill to my heart which I do not think that any burglar could have done.” from “The Adventures of the Copper Beeches”.]
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