Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Super Sherlock Sunday.

The hour of Sherlock is finally near at hand.

Thanks to a just plain crazy idea by CBS television, America is about to be presented with an hour of that fellow I like to call "Mr. Elementary" in the most visible time slot of the year. After Sunday night's Super Bowl, which starts at  6:30 Eastern time and lasts on-average three hours and thirty-five minutes, CBS will follow up with a new episode of their hit-like series Elementary. One might call it the network TV equivalent of someone mooning a crowd because they're overly proud of their butt.

Not that I would say such a thing, of course. After Shreffgate, I have found my heart has grown three sizes for the fans of Elementary. That doesn't make the show any better, but given the choice of joining Jonny Lee Miller's fan club and becoming one of the Sherlockian Master Race, I guess I'm gonna have to go with Miller. (Until I actually see another episode, I suspect.)

So anyway,  a new episode of Elementary called "The Deductionist" will be shown at sometime between 8:00 PM and midnight this Sunday, depending upon how long the game lasts, and what should be the show's biggest audience ever will be treated to seeing Jonny Lee Miller called "Sherlock Holmes," Lucy Liu called "Watson," and maybe even somebody called "Moriarty." Sure, that audience will probably be pretty drunk, as TV audiences go, and woozy with bellies full of chips, pizza, and queso dip . . . that just means they're going to be very suggestible. Not only perfect for CBS, but also perfect for the Sherlockian world.

A goodly number of those suggestible post-Super Bowl folks are probably going to wander on to internet social media sites like Twitter to see what insights their fellow humanoids have on this show called Elementary. Now, whatever your opinion of CBS's dropping its drawers at America, that hour will be a great time for putting one's Sherlock thoughts out on the web. Whether they're about Conan Doyle, Benedict Cumberbath, Irene Adler, or the novel Hellbirds, this is the opportunity to hold a Sherlock Holmes Twitter-party like you wouldn't believe, just by adding the hashtag "#Elementary" to your tweets.

One could even talk about the episode of Elementary that's showing on CBS during that time,  and those rare moments when it might relate to any of the above, or something else from the original Sherlock Holmes stories. But no matter what you tweet, the moment is coming, for just that one fleeting hour, and we have to tone up our typing fingers, whip up our wits, maybe prepare a few lines in advance, and even possibly practice on Thursday night's new episode of Elementary.

Super Sherlock Sunday and the hour of Sherlock is finally at hand. I'll be there. Will you?

Monday, January 28, 2013


For some reason, once a Sherlockian takes their first steps into the larger world of Sherlock Holmes fandom, a little bit of insecurity often sets in. Where once it was just enjoyment of the Master Detective and having fun with one's friends, the fact that there's a larger community out there means we suddenly have a measuring stick to compare our own love of Sherlock to. It's a vague and nasty thing, playing on one's insecurities and giving narcissistic jerks just the tool they need to manipulate the more easily conned among us.

I've seen some remarkable and enthusiastic Sherlockians fall prey to the need to validate their status as a real Sherlockian over the years. I've also seen one or two minor league whackos try to set up their own mini-cults of Sherlock, with rules and ranks doled out to the true believer. We all set little goals for ourselves, whether it's getting an article or book published, travelling to some great Sherlockian site or event, or accomplishing some goal of Holmes fandom that no one has even thought of yet. But there's a big difference in goals one sets for one's self and those hoops arbitrarily lined up by some clown who's been in the hobby a few years longer than you.

As much as one hates to see a cranky old Sherlockian making blanket condemnations of the latest generation of Holmes fans, the thing I really hate to see is the newcomers falling prey to the thought, even unspoken, that there are set benchmarks they must attain to be a real Sherlock Holmes fan. Getting invited to the BSI dinner. Getting published in The Baker Street Journal. One needen't give the power to those particular institutions, or any other, if it doesn't fit your version of Holmes fan fun.

The great irony of the recent old-versus-new is that the Baker Street Babes probably have more followers worldwide than the Baker Street Irregulars. One could argue that the Babes have yet to stand the test of time, but there was a day when any other institution had yet to do the same. At this moment in time, I don't feel like it's the Babes that need to be validated by getting invited to some dinner in New York. From my point of view, the Baker Street Irregulars could show their modern relevance by getting featured on a Babes podcast. Validation is a two-way street.

That's the thing any new Sherlock Holmes fan needs to consider as they enter the larger world of Holmes fandom: The previous generations need you as much as you need them. Because one day, you're going to be the surviving face of Sherlock Holmes fandom. None of the best parts of this hobby happened because someone waited for their predecessors to grant approval. And the great Sherlockians are only great now because someone in the generation after them decided they were worth honoring. Think about that for a moment . . . .

Look around at the older Sherlockians you know. Who do you think gets to say whether or not they were important to Holmes culture once their day is done?  Certainly no one of their generation. At some point, if you stay in this hobby long enough, you may not just be deciding the benchmarks for your own Sherlockian accomplishments, you could be deciding for those of us long past.

So if you're a relative newbie to the hobby and get a moment of insecurity when someone a little older starts to rant (like this guy right here), take the long view. And then remember to be nice to that generation behind you as well . . . .

Sunday, January 27, 2013

BSJ Peoria arrival dates, 1992 to 2003

Since the pageviews here at Sherlock Peoria have been up this week, let me cool things down with an entirely dull spreadsheet blog of the arrival dates of The Baker Street Journal here in Peoria from the years 1992 to 2003. Why am I doing such a thing, you ask?

Well, my late friend Bob Burr had a habit of stamping his issues of the Journal with the date they arrived in his mailbox.

"No big deal," you would tend to think, but here's the thing. Since Bob was keeping close track of when each issue arrived, he would also pick on the current editor when said issue arrived late. Unlike newsstand magazines, who put future cover dates so they can be on the stands longer, The Baker Street Journal was usually dated with the month it came out. Only sometimes, as you will see, it came out much later than the month on the cover.

After many years, and Bob's harping at two or three editors, the cover date on the BSJ became seasonal, rather than monthly. You'll note this change happened after a pretty good run of issues a month or two late, so Bob may have not been the only one. (And I'm sure that uproar was nothing compared to the single issue of the BSJ with a mailing label affixed to its cover! Collectors everywhere probably went nuclear on that dark day.)

And so, with no further ado, the boring part . . .

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Women kicking cranky old ass.

I am happy.

I am soooo happy.

Could it be Frida Frag's charming "A Love Letter to *All* Sherlockians?"

Well, that was the icing on the cake. There's a lady who definitely knows how to channel her energy in a positive direction, and I have to admire her for it.

But the cake, and the capital "B" Babe who baked it (being a Baker Street Babe, of course), was the ever amazing Kristina Manente, who kicked some cranky old man ass all over the internet tonight. Now, most folks will look at the cause of her righteous beatdown and raise up some anger of their own at the cause. But me?

Well, I could, if I went back in my files for full documentation, tell you a story of a St. Louis fangirl back in the 1980 who ran afoul of the same Sherlockian arrogance that made a run at Kristina thirty-three years later. It was a different time back then, women weren't allowed to be Baker Street Irregulars and pompous male assery was a lot more common, due to the lack of some female civilizing influence, I suspect. My friend the fangirl broke off from the established Sherlockian groups of her hometown and started a lively journal called The Baker Street Chronicle, which had a healthy bi-monthly run for five years and was always a treat to see arrive in the mailbox. But that bitter taste cause by one unpleasant Sherlockian was a hard one to get rid of, and undoubtedly changed the entire course of her Sherlockian life. I've seen that tale played out far too many times over the years.

So to see a flight of internet valkyries rising up on their winged steeds against that career offender and his snooty Sherlockianery is something like a miraculous vision of vindication. I love the world we're living in these days. Seeing current intolerance for something that bugged me in 1988 when the offending article first came out is a very lovely thing.

So in honor of Kristina Manente's whupping of an ancient evil, as well as Frida Frag's admirable response, I am just gonna hand out the blog-hugs on the net tonight, because I am certainly feeling the love. (And I'll sing a song from Lion King if I have to!)

Yes, and that means you Elementary fans, too . . . big hug!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Me, not hating the playa.

Cum dilectione hominum et odio vitiorum.  ("With love for mankind and hatred of sins.")
     -- St. Augustine

Hate the sin and not the sinner.
    -- Mohandas Gandhi

Don't hate the player, hate the game.
    -- Ice T

In the comments following my most recent blog, the question was raised by frequent commenter James O'Reilly as to how I could be fully convincing in calling out those who judge others as "not serious Sherlockians," due to my ongoing insults toward viewers of that CBS TV phenomenon, Elementary.

Indeed, I have called them "wretched," "mindless," and a few other things. Earlier this week, I also intimated that the Mystery Writers of America were sad opium smokers who had fallen far from the Master Detective's pinnacle. But do I hate the fans of Elementary? Do I indeed see them as lesser beings, devoid of the divine spark that raised man from monkey? Do I spend my nights cursing  the network gods that spawned such a generation of beings whose lemming-like ratings numbers keep Elementary on the air?

Nawwww . . . .

I just think they're wrong is all. So very, very wrong. My friend Bill Mason is waiting for the day and venue when we can debate that little issue in a public forum, as he actually likes the show. Would I question his Sherlockian mojo over one little lapse in good taste?

Nawwww . . . .

But let's be honest. Elementary is a very hate-able Sherlock Holmes related television show. How can I say that? Well, if you count the amount of blog material that I've gotten from loathing its very bones, that kinda speaks for itself. And you can't hate something that much without a little collateral damage. So, yes, I am sorry, lemming-zombie-monkeys, if you've felt like you've gotten hit with some of the watermelon spatter from this Gallagher act of blogging. I really don't hate any of you individually. And I don't think you're lesser Sherlockians or unable to fill out a healthy resume in the world of Sherlock Holmes fandom. I hope you do, if you haven't already. We need more great Sherlock fans.

But seriously, Elementary? Really?

Nawwww . . . . .

Serious Sherlockian bullshit.

"You know what's bullshit? Being told, because you're a young girl, that you can't be a 'serious Sherlockian.'"

This went out on Twitter, Tumblr, and, very soon after, Facebook from the Baker Street Babes today.

If you have yet to run into the "serious Sherlockian" bullshit, which you will if you are even partially actively pursuing the fandom of Holmes, let me tell you this: it's been there as long as I've been a Holmes fan, well over thirty years, and I'll bet it's been there from a long time before that.

What's more is that you'll find it in most fandoms of any duration. There were Classic Trekkies who disdained the Next Generation Noobs. There are Harley riders who pooh-pooh motorcyclists who prefer more modern manufacturers of bikes. There are even people in various kink communities who claim the younger generation just isn't doing it right. It doesn't matter what you're a fan of, there will always be some old fart (not necessarily chronological old) who wants to say you just don't measure up.

I suppose it's because a fandom becomes so much a part of a person's ego that some folks just feel endangered by new ideas, or anyone who does things a little different from the way they did it when they were first in the hobby. And there are always those who feel you aren't doing something right if you aren't doing it exactly the way they enjoyed it their first time. Lovers of strict ritual will always shoot down anything that goes against their routines.

Clubs with any kind of membership barrier are the worst incarnation of this "serious Sherlockian" phenomenon, and the most bitter pill you'll find in this hobby of ours -- an institutionalization of the "serious Sherlockian" concept, locking it in for all eternity for those who don't feel their rituals are strong enough to handle openness and inclusive behaviours.

Never been a fan of it. Never will be. We all like what we like. (Unless it's Elementary, and then we might like to dislike what we dislike.) And that should remain a personal preference, not a statement of Sherlockian classification.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Edgar back on the opium.

Yes, over a hundred and fifty years after his death, it appears that Edgar Allen Poe is smoking Victorian crack again.

Or at least his namesake is.

While being a whole-hearted student of the Master Detective, I must admit that the mystery genre as a whole is usually disappointing to me. When you start with the top of the field, which Sherlock Holmes definitely is, it's hard to be thrilled about lesser lights who stumble through mysteries with a little personality and colorful details alone. And that being the case, I've never gotten too excited about the Edgar Awards, a sort of mystery Oscars handed out by the Mystery Writers of America. Their field of self-congratulations is so small that the nominee list always holds some clunkers, just to fill out the field. But this year . . . oh, this year . . .

Edgar is back on the opium, to be sure.

All you have to do is look at their nominees for "Best Television Episode Teleplay." And the nominees are:
"Pilot" -- Longmire
"Slaughterhouse" -- Justified
"New Car Smell" -- Homeland
"A Scandal in Belgravia" -- Sherlock
"Child Predator" -- Elementary

Seriously, Edgar? You're going to put Elementary up against the likes of Homeland and Sherlock, two TV shows that actually got nominated for Emmys . . . you know, the REAL television awards done by people who actually know television? All for having one cheesey "the kid is the killer and not the pervy old guy" twist that wasn't hard to see coming?

But it's more than that. The Mystery Writers of America have fallen so far from the flagship character of their genre that they think Mr. Elementary, the Sherlock-In-Name-Only, deserves an award for his exercise in identity theft? That's just sad.

No, wait. The fact that major mystery novel series are based around cats or alphabet titles. That's sad. And it kind of explains how faux Sherlock got on that nominees list.

Read the Canon, folks. There's a reason it's the only mystery series called "the Canon."

And, Mystery Writers of America? I know you like Edgar Allen Poe, but stay off the drugs!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The circle of Holmes

The phrase "THE Holmes" came up this morning on Sherlock Peoria's Facebook page. Basil Rathbone got mentioned, Jeremy Brett got mentioned . . . poor William Gillette probably doesn't have any Facebook fans at this point, and the Benedict Cumberbatch crowd is probably watching Tumblr more closely than old FB.

History may prove otherwise, but to me, that's the current list of iconic Holmes of their generations:

William Gillette
Basil Rathbone
Jeremy Brett
Benedict Cumberbatch

There's a roughly 30 to 40 year cycle when you look at it historically. There have always been other Holmes actors, even at the same time as the big four. Folks like Peter Cushing are hard to ignore, and do have their fans, but just don't quite make the cut, when all is said and done. Cushing could have been an iconic Holmes, but the timing and the reach of his work didn't quite hit. And the generation that might have taken him to heart was already enamored with Rathbone.

One key to an iconic Holmes in my mind, is a working actor that audiences click with for the very first time when he's in the role of Sherlock Holmes. All of the fellows above had done parts and been seen before Holmes, but when audiences first got to really know them, it was as Sherlock Holmes. Robert Downey Jr., as big a box office as he pulls in, will always be Iron Man playing Sherlock Holmes, even to his most ardent fans. But Benedict Cumberbatch, whatever he plays after this, will come to mind first as Sherlock Holmes, the blessing and curse of a true iconic Holmes.

An iconic Holmes also has to get there first. Jonny Lee Miller is going to be the Ronald Howard of this generation of Holmeses. Sure, he's got a lot of TV episodes that completists and diehard fans will go back and watch, but the mojo to be an iconic Holmes? It's just not there. Too late to the party and not dressed for the occasion, figuratively speaking.

"THE" Sherlock Holmes is always going to depend upon how old you are and when you came upon Sherlock Holmes. My own bonding during a preview of The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes has left me with a less-attached view of that question. Rathbone predominated my youth, Brett was the upstart newcomer whom I both enjoyed and criticized, and Cumberbatch is the happy surprise whom I'm comfortably accepting as the new face of Sherlock.

As much as our cycles of information and entertainment are speeding up, the cycle at which we see iconic Holmeses is probably going to remain keyed to the hearts of generations of Sherlock Holmes fans. If the fans live longer, the cycle could slow slightly. Or we could wind up with multiple generations of fans all singing the praises of their personal Sherlocks all at once, either in beautiful chorus or cacaphonous discord.

But just as Irene Adler was THE woman to Sherlock Holmes, while Watson remained the Mary Morstan fan, THE Sherlock Holmes will always be a very personal choice for generations to come.

Pause . . .

Pause . . .

Pause . . .

. . . unless you're claiming it's Jonny Lee Miller, in which case, you just need help.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

"M" is for "Meh!"

Until today, 2013 has been Elementary-free for me. It's been a happy time. A world without weekly doses of a hack Sherlock impersonator lets one get back to what Sherlock Holmes was really all about. And it's been a happy time.

Of course, it's hard to spend time on the internet without bumping into Elementary's presence these days. The lukewarm reviews continue. And the apologists are still out there, pretending that BBC's Sherlock was a much lower quality show than it was, just to argue against any criticism of their beloved weak tea. But there have also been mentions of a building plot thread of a mysterious "M," a new phase for the show, and that its episodes are getting better. Of course, this is a bit like the way the Twilight movies got "best Twilight yet" reviews with each new movie because the original was so horrendously bad.

The "M"  gambit has been played out in pastiche many times before, in various mediums. Mycroft, Moriarty, Moran, Milverton, Morstan . . . the Canon of Holmes is full of significant folk with the initial "M." But it was enough to lure me in to playing Elementary catch-up this morning.

Elementary continues to be more CBS procedural than actual Sherlock Holmes-inspired drama. The plot of the year's first episode involved spies, yet not the least reference to the spies of The Second Stain or any other Holmes tale appears. The writers seem more concerned with the usual routine of throwing in a sudden plot twist in every five minutes rather than letting Mr. Elementary behave like Sherlock Holmes and save his revelations for the big finish. The main characters of Psych or The Mentalist could have strolled through the same plot with no different result, though the quips might have been better.

Mr. Elementary's role as a police employee seems a solid fixture now, quite different from Sherlock Holmes's signature independence from the official force. Watson's move from hired addict-nursemaid to apprentice detective still lacks the feel of true friendship, perhaps because any signs of real friendship would be taken as movement toward a love match between the two. Anyone who truly thinks Mr. Elementary is actually Sherlock Holmes at this point can probably be sold any book by simply replacing the dust jacket with the jacket of the book they were looking for.

But let us get to the mysterious "M." Spoiler alert: it's not going to be good. Spoiler alert two: If you really cared about Elementary, you wouldn't be reading this, so I'm holding nothing back.

We get to meet "M" in the very first scene. As he is played by Vinnie Jones, a wonderful character actor who tends to play Brit thugs, I had to immediately hope this wasn't Elementary's Moriarty. His scruffy style would make him a perfect Mycroft to Jonny Lee Miller's scruffy attempt at Sherlock -- they also both do "intelligent" at about the same level. Jones worked with director Guy Ritchie on at least one notable occasion, but alas, it wasn't Sherlock Holmes. And sad to say, Vinnie still isn't in a Sherlock Holmes project.

We also find out that Irene Adler is not just dead, she's really, quite completely dead in Elementary world and Mr. Elementary wants to torture and murder "M" for killing her, Mr. Elementary's girlfriend of seven months at the time. We finally find the whole story: Irene's death caused Mr. Elementary's descent into drug abuse. But all the "M" references in conversation quickly give one the impression that Mr. Elementary is out to kill James Bond's spymaster. For Mr. Elementary's most important episode/case to date, there is very little  impressive detective work, as usual. No "Empty House" surprises. And even the victim of "M" is making observations of details to lead the police to the scene of the crime.

"M," by the way, stands for Moran. Sebastian Moran. Don't waste your time watching this to find out. He's not Moriarty's lieutenant in this world, he's Moriarty's hireling and patsy. Consider this for a second: Mr. Elementary left London without being aware of even Moriarty's name. How great a detective was he if he didn't become even slightly aware of the criminal mastermind behind his home city's crime until someone told him about it in New York, long after he was working there?

Rob Doherty, the writer of this mess, has his defenders. But throwing Holmes's post-retirement bees into Mr. Elementary's urban life, slapping the name "Irene Adler" on his ex (not that weird given that the whole show is just slapping names on other characters), and having a star with any sort of British accent still doth not a Sherlock Holmes make. Mr. Elementary lacks the style of Sherlock, the control of Sherlock, the genius of Sherlock, and, truly, the entertainment value of our Sherlock Holmes. And let's not even get into Watson.

It's a new year, but some things remain the same. Elementary still sucks.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

To end at the beginning.

This week has been full of a lot of little learnings. Some practical, some philosophical, but learnings nonetheless. So many that the occasional pertinent fact might have slipped by me completely, were it not for the keen mind of my friend John Holliday.

The end of a life that was heartily Sherlockian has moments one becomes familiar with after some time in the hobby. The "standing on the terrace" moments. The stories of quirky adventures on the Holmes trail. The raising of a glass. The disposition of a collection. But in these days following the end of my longtime partner in crime, I've found one more way to wind up a Sherlockian life, which Bob sold me on by example.

The Lascar, as he was known in Sherlockian circles, was painstaking to a fault when something was important to him. And he was very specific about every action to be taken when his days were done. One of those, which he gained advice on from Chester, Illinois Sherlockian funeral director Michael McClure, was donating to the Anatomical Gift Association of Illinois. And Bob didn't donate money.

Bob donated Bob.

Medical training needs good men and women, and not just as students. Instead of going with a casket or urn,  many a solid citizen goes with a sheet and a medical school all the time. And it's not only an important aid to those who we depend upon for our very lives, it's appreciated. The admiration Bob got from a very pretty young ER doc when she found out is something any man would take after his final moments. But even that isn't the most notable thing about it.

As friend Holliday reminded me after reading Bob's obit, the Canon of Sherlock Holmes started in a teaching hospital, where Sherlock Holmes was known to beat a body or two to test post-mortem bruises. Being the object of study, practice, and experimentation is not all flowers and flute music, whether it's Holmes working on you or George Clooney. But it is one of the most truly Sherlockian ways to wind up your time on this planet. To end at the place where Sherlock and John Watson began?

I'm sold.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Sit with me on the grass.

There are times in the Community Sherlockian when we tend to refer to "standing on the terrace." It's a good tradition. A solid tradition. But tonight I find myself thinking it's just not enough.

I have to blog about something that will come very hard for me, and if you are up on the locals of Sherlock Peoria, you might half expect what that is. If not, I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

The Lascar left us tonight. Quickly, quietly, in the company of folks who cared for him.

But when I think of my friend, the terrace scene from "His Last Bow," does not seem to ring true at all. I find myself going to "The Devil's Foot."

Holmes and Watson are sitting on the grass, after coming as close to death as they had been in any case I can think of.

"Upon my word, Watson!," Holmes said, "I owe you both my thanks and an apology. It was an unjustifiable experiment even for oneself, and doubly so for a friend. I am really very sorry."

Watson is quick with his reply: "You know that it is my greatest joy and privilege to help you."

The Lascar and I had a few unjustifiable experiments in our Sherlockian time. He was a rascal, that one, as his namesake, and we did wind up, on occasion, sitting in the figurative grass. (I say figurative, because even if you sat on the Lascar's lawn, the grass was always trimmed so short it you could hardly touch it.) And it was, when all is said and done, a joy and a privilege to find one's self there with him.

There shall undoubtedly be more on this subject in days to come, but for now I think I'm just going to sit on the grass a few more minutes.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The measure of a fan.

Let me stand and start the slow clap.

If you're not familiar with the slow clap, it's that movie convention where a single member of a crowd starts to clap after some action by the main character and is gradually joined by more and more members of that crowd, until everyone is applauding and cheering as enthusiastically as you can imagine. It lacks a certain something being done in words alone, but it still feels necessary.

Today is Sherlock Holmes's birthday.

And over at the Baker Street Blog, Scott Monty posted his Holmes birthday blog at exactly 2:21 AM.

The blog post itself, entitled "The Celebrated Mr. Sherlock Holmes," is nice enough, but the thing that got the biggest reaction out of me was the timestamp of 2:21 AM.

Having long been an aficionado of that minute twice a day when Sherlock's street address appears on a digital clock, the fact that Scott cared enough to post at that time was truly impressive to me. He might have done it before and I didn't notice. In fact, it could be his habit to always post then. It could even be that half the Sherlockians on the internet are posting at 2:21.

But today, on Sherlock Holmes's birthday, I saw it on Scott Monty's blog for the first time, and so I'm giving him the points. If genius truly is the infinite capacity for taking pains, Scott, you are a genius.

And well deserving of the slow clap on Sherlock's birthday.

Happy Sherlock's Birthday, everybody! Get each other lots of presents!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The less fortunate. Yes, THOSE less fortunate.

My friends, it's time to think of those less fortunate than us.

Yes, the Sherlock Holmes Birthday Weekend is coming up, and as we celebrate the world's greatest example of the detective arts, we must also consider that not everyone is so blessed as we are. Having a well-written, inspiring legendary figure like Sherlock Holmes is something we take for granted. But not everyone is so lucky.

You may have gotten lost in December's holiday celebrations, New Year's Eve, and all the fun of family and friends, and forgotten the tragedies of last fall. I know I did. But at some point on this past Friday I saw a short note reminding me that there are still those who need our help.

CBS's Elementary is still on the air, and new episodes are still appearing. And if you go out into the Twitterverse, you'll still see post after post of poor souls admitting, "I'm watching Elementary," like AA members introducing themselves at a meeting. Admitting you have a problem is the first step, but once these poor Elementary-watching wretches have faced the fact something is not quite right in their lives, where do they turn next? Who is there to help them keep from turning back to Elementary next week, and the week after that?

Many a hopeful sort has been heard to say, "We'll get to introduce them to some really good Sherlock Holmes stories and point them back to the Doyle originals," but their numbers are so large and no organized efforts to help Elementary fans have yet been mobilized. And they do need our help.

I wish I could post a photo of one of those big-eyed youths who post on Twitter to stir your sympathies, but this is a text-centric blog and, well, conventions are conventions. But it's not too late. One great chance to turn things around still awaits us . . .

The Hour of Sherlock is still ahead.

On Sunday night, February 3rd, following the Super Bowl being shown on CBS, an episode of Elementary will come on, raising that show's audience to its largest ever. And unless a giant blimp-bomb explodes over the Superdome or Janet Jackson shows up with her other breast, in that hour, the Twitterverse will start filling with mentions of Sherlock Holmes. Those mentions can either be referring to Mr. Elementary, who likes to call himself "Sherlock Holmes," or they can refer to the one, true Sherlock Holmes as we all know and love him. (Victorian or BBC, your call.) It's up to us.

During the Hour of Sherlock, we can give those poor Elementary viewers the hand up that they don't even know exists, and lift them up to see a Sherlock Holmes beyond their gritty New York dreams. We can point them toward the places Sherlock has lived so vividly for Sherlockians for centuries. The books, the movies, the BBC series . . . all it takes is a few words, not much more than a "Norbury" in the ear, to set them on paths out of their wretched Thursday night habit.

Could those few words be yours? Won't you join us for the Hour of Sherlock in February and help the less fortunate? Someday, that viewer could be you.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The legend of Don Hobbs.

Well, there's nothing like pulling up your Google news feed for the latest headlines and seeing your former blogging partner being called "a legend among Sherlock Holmes devotees."

Of course, that was in The Dallas News, Don Hobbs's local paper. As the AP wire story made its way across the country, from Denver to Stamford, the headlines demoted him to "Texas man," but the lead paragraph kept him "a legend of the world of Sherlockians."

Now, it's entirely possible that you're thinking, "I am an enthusiastic fan of Sherlock Holmes, and I have never heard of this Don Hobbs. I question this legendary status hyped by the lamestream media."

Well, I'm still working on my campfire song about the legend of Don Hobbs, which is what any Texas legend really needs, but in the meantime, here's what the newspapers won't tell you:

Hobbs is one of the spiritual progeny of John Bennett Shaw and Ron DeWaal, spawned of a time when we still thought that everything having to do with Sherlock Holmes could be collected, cataloged, and archived. It was a bit of a naive thought, but all great crusades start with a little naivety . . . if we truly saw the immense scope of any truly great undertaking, no sane man or woman would even begin such a thing. But Don has a goodly stripe of that thing that John Shaw had, that sets such Sherlockians above the standard obsessive-compulsive hunter-gatherer-hoarder: good company in a car, a bar, or airport, and a handy knowledge of a place to get a good meal. Handy at getting people inspired to do things, and full of stories, with good reason to be full of stories. Not the Dos Equis "most interesting man in the world," but surely one of his cousins.

He led an expedition to a place called "Sherlock" where no one had ever been. He created a club based around a clock. He's done a thing or two in small press publishing that won't be spoken of. He's dined with Sherlock Holmes fans in more cities than almost anyone, though those numbers are very hard to track. (My money is still on Don, though.)

Sherlockians as a breed tend to be fascinating and diverse folk, so I'm not saying the legend of Don Hobb places him on a lofty perch above the rest of us . . . naw, he's just a good example of his species. But when an AP wire story spends all its time talking about his foreign language collection and his recent drinking of the BSI Kool-Aid, I know for a fact that somebody didn't get the whole story.

And that story is the legend of Don Hobbs. One of these days the campfire song that goes with it will be done, too.