Saturday, October 31, 2015

We love our Sherlock Holmeses.

It always amused me a little bit that some of our elder Sherlockians held such contempt for Cumberbitches.

The idea of discovering an actor through his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes, then enjoying that actor's full body of work, becoming a fan of that actor . . . well, that never happened in Sherlockiana before Benedict Cumberbatch arrived on the scene. Basil Rathbone . . . Jeremy Brett . . . well, they were . . . different.

And that William Gillette . . . well, he was . . . let's face it, another actor who got "the Sherlock bump." We meet an actor as Sherlock Holmes, get fond of him in that part, and then follow him into his other works. There's a reason Secret Service is on my bookshelf.

It's easy to see the glow we add to the work of the big Sherlocks from their time as Holmes, but that phenomenon also carries over to less Sherlock-identified actors. Like Joaquim de Almeida.

You may have seen Joaquim de Almeida before, in the TV series 24 or the Robert Rodriguez film Desperado. He's one of those familiar faces you see around on movies and TV, often without knowing the name. He's currently featured as a candidate for the Bolivian presidency in the movie Our Brand is Crisis out in theaters now, and I have to tell you, the Sherlock glow was on him as I watched that movie this morning.

You may not have seen O Xango de Baker Street, as it's not the easiest Holmes film to come by, but Joaquim de Almeida stars as Sherlock Holmes in that quirky adaptation of the quirky novel of the same name. Having seen it myself, de Almeida is forever branded a Sherlock in my head, and I always enjoy seeing him perform. Good character actor.

In Our Brand Is Crisis, Joaquim de Almeida is performing with that first lady of modern American cinema, Sandra Bullock, and as brightly as her star shines (Love me some S.B.!), the Sherlock glow that enhances my enjoyment of de Almeida put him right up there with her as I watched the film.

Because we do love our Sherlock Holmeses. Even when they're not Cumberbone Brettlette.

Sherlockoween trick-or-treating, anyone?

Now that our parents won't let us go house to house begging for candy any more . . . "YOU'RE FORTY-EIGHT YEARS OLD! WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO DO THAT?" . . . we children of the modern age must find new traditions to placate our holiday sweet tooth this Halloweekend. And if we can't go tricks-or-treating out in the old neighborhoods, why not take it up in one of our newer locales? Why not go trick-or-treating on YouTube with some random video-to-video search-knocking?

Here's what I found in my goodie bag when the night was through:

A Sherlock version of The American Horror Story theme?

Zombie night at the Villain's Pub with another Cumberbatch character?

The entire movie of Rathbone's Sherlock Holmes Faces Death? (It's got a raven and a bottle of "Mother's Ruin" served up before taking you to spooky old Musgrave Manor and its corpse-lights "waiting like lost souls in the limelight.")

Oh! It's Creepy Watson! He's always an old favorite!

Sherlock and TV's Rumplestiltskin just being all music-video horror?

Downey Jr. Holmes and the kid vampire from Let the Right One In. People do like their crossover music videos.

Emmy Holmes hunts a dog eater. Scary business -- I mean, dog eater!

The top five scariest Sherlock Holmes stories by a guy who likes to call his audience f@#%ing morons. He does use Jeremy Brett clips, though.

That's Halloween trick-or-treating for you . . . you get what people are willing to give you, based on their own tastes, budget, or what was laying around. The same seems to apply for videos and candy, and both seem to be something you shouldn't depend upon for your good health.

But, hey, it's a holiday and even Sherlockians need to commemorate it somehow, right?

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The "S," CBS, and the needles.

Had a bit of deja vu this week as a favorite larger than life figure whose name began with "S" was brought low thanks to CBS and a few hypodermic needles.

Perhaps my least favorite thing in all of television has always been the episode when the hero is robbed of their gifts and brought low, to stagger through an entire episode. It goes all the way back to watching Mannix as a child. (Mannix, for those of you far too young to know, was one of those private eyes that drove around in a cool car and punched people. Back in the day, those were a thing.) I suppose one would call it drama, to show a hero barely able to function at all, dragging his semi-conscious form through some desperate gambit. I called it "not getting to see what I tuned in for."

Last night, of course, this victim of television drama was Supergirl, who, upon donning the triangular "S" for one of the first times and flying off to stop a fire, is rendered helpless by government agents shooting kryptonite darts and using kryptonite handcuffs. Poor girl doesn't even get to just fly around feeling super for a whole hour before the mere mortals have to show her she's nobody special. It's fictional socialism at it's finest, spreading the powers around so the playing field stays level.

Whether it's those lovably idiotic geniuses of Big Bang Theory or Scorpion, the schlub who gets smarter via a pill in Limitless, or . . . well, I shan't say here, in order to be an individual who rises above, you have to actually fall below. If you want to be efficient and competent on CBS, you must below to a government agency with initials, and be a part of the program.

What does all this have to do with Sherlock Holmes? Nothing, of course. Not a darn thing.

Sometimes one just gets in a mood to rant about a network.

That's all.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Sherlock Holmes and monsters, again.

Boy, you have one book with one demon hound and you get typecast . . . .

Really. Fifty-nine stories solving mysteries that didn't include murder all that much -- odd hiring practices, issues with the spouse, the occasional criminal genius to be dealt with -- those are the things Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson spent almost all of their time on. And yet, the two encounter one . . . ONE . . . demonic canine, which they almost immediately debunk, and what do we get?

Sherlock Holmes meets Dracula.

Sherlock Holmes versus zombies.

Sherlock Holmes against Cthulhu's cousin Cthwurds in the Cave of the Waxen Ghost Goblins.

People just don't seem to get that Sherlock isn't Fox Mulder. He doesn't "want to believe." He's the of Victorian England, the literary Myth-busters, the guy that sets the world back to its default settings. And yet, once a horror monster passes it's prime, somebody always wants to put the creature against Sherlock Holmes, have Sherlock go, "Wow, there really are weird things!" and let that poor old beastie feel vindicated since the famous Sherlock Holmes allowed for its existence.

And now that Clive Barker's Hellraiser Cenobites are nearly thirty years old, it looks like they're going to get to join the "Sherlock admits I exist!" club, in an upcoming book called Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell. Are they beating Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees to get their mid-life Sherlock validation? Could be . . . there are so many pastiches these days, and fanfic beyond that, that surely they've run across each other somewhere. The Cenobites just got the official nod for commercial publication.

As much as Holmes version actual supernatural foes makes no sense from a strictly Holmes purist point of view, though, one can see why creators are drawn to pitting him against larger-than-life horrors: Sherlock Holmes looms too large himself to seem a fair match for any mere murderer. At this point even serial killers don't seem quite an even match for the Master of all Detectives.

So can the Cenobite "servants of Hell" provider an adequate match for him?

I dunno, but I really hope they don't get their hands on Watson.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

When the bar goes up on your pastiche tolerance . . . .

Eventually, a bunch of words with the name "Sherlock Holmes" somewhere in the middle just isn't enough.

As I struggle to make myself care enough to continue reading that popular novel "co-written" by the former sport star, I can't help but think back to my college days, and the delight I had reading anything and everything Sherlock back then. It was the 1970s, of course, and publishing houses still served as gatekeepers to the world of fiction, and the authors and I tended to have a certain gender perspective in common, but still . . . I enjoyed it all.

These days, however, it's a real Holy Grail quest just to find a Holmes novel that will hold my attention, end-to-end. I don't blame the fiction. Magic tricks are great the first time you see them, but there can be only one first time. Eventually, you've seen all the tricks and it takes a real talent to make the familiar all fresh and exciting. Sometimes you need the higher grade Baker-street drugs. (Yes, I've done Omegaverse fic. But I'm not addicted to it. Not at all.)

And then there's always that constant comparison of everything to your first time at anything, from romance to your favorite movie. Eventually our fresh, young Sherlock fans of today become the crusty old Star Wars fans of yesteryear, so enamored of their first love in the field that no later installments will ever measure up. You see it in every fandom, from Dr. Who fans who can't get past that one favorite Doctor, James Bond movie fans who say no one will ever be as good as that hairy Scottish bloke, or even . . . already . . . Sherlock fans who hate season three for not being season one or two.

The problem is, some later incarnations of things are actually of a much lesser quality than their earlier installments. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back can be measured against Star Wars: Episode One. Goldfinger can be used to see how bad Octopussy is. (Yes, Virginia, that really was an actual James Bond movie.) And sometimes things actually do improve with time (looking at you, Dr. Who), if you can step back and look at them objectively.

But as one grows older and ages as a fan, it becomes very hard to judge that middle ground . . . the mediocre can be passable sustenance when you're young and enthusiastic for it. But as time passes and you find so many other joys in life to vie for your time, mediocre just doesn't cut it any more. It's a very natural, very normal process. Becoming a cranky old fan is almost inevitable.

The trick, as with most mental illnesses, I suppose, is being aware that one has a touch of the cranky. In my mind, matching memory to current intake, I may actually feel that Austin and Utechin's Hellbirds is a better Sherlock Holmes novel than Cullin's A Slight Trick of the Mind, but realizing that a very heavy nostalgia factor is entering into that equation, I'm not going to write a passionate blog post tearing down Cullin's work for not being that earlier experience.

Yet sometimes you have to let it out. Sometimes, you just have to rage against someone's nutty decision to make their main character Darth Vader as a little boy with a durpy sidekick. You've got some real emotion behind it, and you just need to vent. As with so many other things in life, it's a matter of picking your battles. Is it just worth a momentary gripe or two to your nearby pals? Or a series of feverous blog posts that continue over time?

It's your choice. And you could even just decide to write a rambling analysis of your changing feelings on Holmes novels instead of critiquing the currently popular one. Like this.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Sherlocking NaNoWriMo.

November draws ever so near.

And with it, the annual November challenge. Why must we have so many months with challenges? Someone must have less to do than I. But like the hunting hound stuck in the house when the call to the chase sounds outside, I can't help but feel the pull of it.

National Novel Writing Month -- "NaNoWriMo" -- is coming once again, and some happy folk have even got a Sherlockian Twitter feed, tumblr site, and IRC channel (whatever that is -- sounds like some old school internet) focused on the Sherlockian side of creating a novel in a month.

Having been to the well-attended writing workshop sessions at 221B Con, I know there are more Sherlockian writers out there than ever before, if the number of authors with existing Sherlock books on Amazon or MX Publishing sites weren't evidence enough.  It's really quite intimidating . . . or maybe just redundancy-feelings-inducing. We have sooooo many words now that you no longer need paper and ink to get them in front of other people's eyes. Why does the world need mine? (A completely ridiculous question from a man who spews so many into the blogosphere every month.)

And yet the challenge of the November novel beckons. Especially after you've done it once. Marathon runners have their reasons, and so do novelists. There is pain, there is frustration, but there are also those moments that are so pure, so Zen, and so full of actual magic ("Where the hell did that come from?") that you crave going back into the arena once again.

My previous November novel, which I'm trying to remember if anyone has actually read, was a prequel to a novel that I've started about four times and never made it past the fourth chapter. Holmes and Harth is the title of that novel, a tale of a fellow who gets a very special collectable in the mail one day . . . something that very well may be the taxidermied corpse of Sherlock Holmes. Or something much more intriguing. That novel never seems to get written.

But during NaNoWriMo, I got the prequel Harth of Peoria, which was combination treasure hunt, runaway bride romantic comedy, and conspiracy novel whose greatest flaw is that halfway through the novel, the main character sort of lost interest in the supposed love interest and fell for what was supposed to be a minor character. I had great fun writing it, letting a plot grow organically, and even discovering I might have psychic powers in the pure Zen state of intense writing. That novel is only sitting as a Word document on my hard drive, with a CD backup, of course, but I'd still do it all again.

I've already got a November commitment this year: the West of Baker Street experiment. And I may see if I can push 50,000 words out of that just to see if I can pull NaNoWriMo off a second time with a Sherlock bent. But the as with the rest of this year, November might be a troublesome beastie from forces outside of Sherlockiana and writing, so we shall see.

But if you think you might have the writing mojo to pull off a novel this November and you've never done it before, I'd really encourage that you give it a try. It's so much safer than climbing Everest, but it's an accomplishment you'll enjoy having on your soul long after, even if no one ever reads the result.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The new Sherlockian studies versus the old.

I finally finished that durned "Sexpisode" yesterday.

Catching up on my podcasts this week, and after listening to the Three Patch Podcast take on Hamlet, monster Holmes, and deathfic (As well as pre-ordering the t-shirt. I love their artist's work.), my smartphone queued up the rest of their previous episode . . . the notorious "Sexpisode 3."

Yes, the one that gave me the vapors back in September during its "Sexy Headcanon" segment from Gridlock 2015. SO MUCH random coupling . . . or tripling, I guess . . . fried my poor midwestern late-baby-boomer brain. I backed slowly away from it after that segment then, but coming back to the episode and bits like its thoughtful look at the Sherlock-John-Mary triad, I was a little more secure that the ladies of Three Patch weren't going to terrorize my inner old maid any more.

I really enjoy listening to Three Patch, much more than I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere and the Baker Street Babes of late, because they always make me think. The old, cozy Sherlock talk is a little too relaxing for my sleepy old brain, and the view of that new Sherlockian planet that internet connectivity has taken us to is fascinating, and a bit energizing. Like one of those old B movie sci-fi plots, we rocketed to Mars in our future Sherlockian world and found it populated by women.

And listening to Three Patch today, acclimating all the more to the environment of Planet Cumberbatch, coming to see it as Sherlockiana Now and the old Sherlockian scholarship as the different thing, it became very apparent that the Sherlockiana of the 1940s and 1950s was Sherlock Holmes studies as done by men. Think about it . . .

Locating 221B Baker Street. Charting its floor plans. Enumerating and classifying Canonical characters. Researching and hypothesizing to make Watson's dates exact and reliable. Bring in the math and spatial dynamics wherever possible and, good gawd, spending so much time trying to work out that damned Musgrave ritual.

Not to be all gender-stereotyping, but this was Sherlockian scholarship created by men for men.

Had it been women who created it from the get-go, perhaps the focus would have been on something else even back then: Relationships. Reactions. Emotions.

For when you distill it down, that's what the amazing multiverse of fanfiction is: studies of human interaction. Taking the fascinating specimens of the Canon and putting them in experimental conditions and seeing what they do. True, there is a bit of experimenter bias going on, but that was true of the old Sherlockian scholarship as well. Sherlock was a golfer, a Buddhist, or a wine lover pretty much according to how much to writer wanted him to be. Now it's more who winds up in bed with whom as we explore their reactions to class structure, death, gender issues, power dynamics, and all those other ways humans relate to other humans (even if Holmes and Watson are not exactly human in a given fic).

We saw a Golden Age of Sherlockiana in the 1900s. We're seeing a Silver Age of Sherlockiana evolving in front of us in the 2000s. And as much as the Bronze Age of Sherlockian of the 2100s might be too much for my poor brain to wrap itself around, I would still be very curious to see what it's going to look like when that third wave hits.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

At some point, we're all time travellers.

For the past thirteen-point-five years, I've been blogging about Sherlock Holmes. During that time, we've seen some dramatic changes in Holmes fandom, one of which being that we can actually refer to ourselves as a fandom now. (Well, some of us can. The word still gets stuck on the tongue of a few of our elders, like sitcom characters who just can't bring themselves to pronounce that thing they're in denial of.) This is a different age than the Sherlockian world of the 1980s, a statement I make far too much, as repeating one's self is one of those traits that comes with age.

Another trait that comes with age is the feeling that there's another you existing in the past, whom you occasionally find artifacts from. @plexippa on Twitter tweeted one such artifact last night:

The Baker Street Dozen, edited by Pj Doyle and E. W. McDiarmid, was a collection of thirteen of the original Sherlock Holmes tales, each accompanied by an essay from "a prominent Sherlockian." I got in in because Pj Doyle was a good friend and had asked me to come up with an essay they could use as an example in their proposal to sell the idea to a publisher. Or at least that's what I thought -- when my "example" wound up in print on the shelf in Walden Books, I wished I had done something better.

But here's the thing: I've always been a blogger of sorts, tossing words out into the ether for free to relax from my day job. Having an essay in a book that wound up on the remainder table at a chain bookstore at the mall was not something I made any sort of career of, It only happened that once. And now, at a distance of going-on thirty years, it seems a little like finding one of my blog-posts done in cave-paintings at an archeological dig.

What's weirder still is how I remember as a young Sherlockian being a bit jealous of those writers who got their names in the annals of Sherlockiana thirty years before me simply because they were alive thirty years before me. Sure, there have always been some Sherlockian writers who stand head-and-shoulders above the crowd, but most of us are just being who we are when we are. And now, somewhere in a future I could never have imagined, a guy with my name has an essay in an old book with "prominent Sherlockians" in it. So what's the lesson in all that?

We're all time travelers, affecting the future with what we do today. And if you're lucky enough to make it far enough ahead on your timeline, you might look back and see yourself.

And go "What the . . . ?"

Friday, October 16, 2015

Conan Doyle spoiled "Crimson Peak" for me!

A Sherlockian could do a lot worse than see the gothic ghost story Crimson Peak, which hit theaters this weekend.

It features the actor wishfully rumored to one day play the third Holmes brother in Sherlock, Tom Hiddlestone. It's main character has the last name of Cushing, which evokes both Holmes and horror. And there's even a mention of Conan Doyle early on in the film for both his detective tales and his opthamology -- though interestingly not his spiritualism.

Crimson Peak is a beautiful homage to all things gothic and horrible, and therein lies it's main flaw . . . it's hard to be surprised by something so familiar. In fact, the mention of Conan Doyle's name early on put me in mind of his works and had me thinking about a certain tale which, while not copied entirely in Crimson Peak, has an aspect that plays out in the plot.

Of course, if you're doing a full-on old-style gothic, certain familiar things are bound to happen.

"Don't go in this part of the house," for example, always means there's someone or something or both in that part of the sprawling manor house.

"Oh, you just were having a nightmare!" means somebody saw something that nobody wants to think about.

And "We've lived here all our lives!" means . . . well, never anything good.

The world of Crimson Peaks is a world in which Conan Doyle lived, but Sherlock Holmes never could. "No ghosts need apply," and all that. Holmes was a ghost-atheist, so to speak, if ever there was one, and in his world, there was always a rational explanation if you were just rational enough to find it . . . which Holmes was. Still, if you want to be swept away to a time and a place that will make you think Holmes could have been perfectly at home there, debunking ghosts, it's not bad.

Just don't expect to be too surprised by anything. You're a Sherlockian, after all.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

On belonging to clubs, autumn 2015.

I think I have always wanted to belong to a club.

My mother will tell you of one point when I was very, very young and decided I was going to a meeting of my club, making several preparations, and having my paperwork ready, then becoming very frustrated when she would not take me to this club that no one knew existed. I've no memory of the event, nor idea what exactly the club even was, other that the remote possibility that it was some memory from the future passed backward in time from an older edition of myself.

Discovering Sherlockian societies was a wonderful thing back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and I got to belong to several fabulous clubs, some near and some far. Peoria's own Hansoms of John Clayton was a great passenger train of a club, running with clockwork efficiency by the son of a railroad man, the inestimable Robert C. Burr. Every other month meetings would happen, rituals would be observed, Sherlock Holmes would be celebrated. And even when things ran far off-the-topic-of-Holmes, there was still that thread, binding us in clubbiness.

Fall always make me nostalgic for the Hansoms, as that's when our best meetings always took place. But it also brings along that bittersweet reminder that while I enjoy a good club, I am real crap at holding one together. Too easily distracted, too busy with work, too occupied with this fad or that. I'm great at putting energy into an existing society when my levels are up and time is free, but keeping one chugging along on its rails, month after month, year after year . . . well, there's a role I never quite adapted to. I could name at least three separate examples of some fun collectives of the faithful that bit the dust under my watch.

And yet, what is a club? Does it have to have religiously regular meeting schedule? A newsletter? A parade float?

"An association or organization dedicated to a particular interest or activity," is the first definition of "club" to come up with a Google search. And, boy, do I like those "or" parts that statement. Dump "organization" and "activity," and holding a club together becomes much less burdensome. "An association dedicated to a particular interest" . . . isn't that what a lot of friendships come from, associating with those who have similar likes to one's own?

Without all that pressure of organized activity, calling together a few Hansom friends for a November evening seems so much easier. T'were I a younger sort, setting a meet-up via social media would have been just another day at the park, I guess. (Do Sherlockians do "the park," tending toward the bookish side? Some, probably so.) In any case, the call has gone out, a November date has been picked.

And for an evening, I'll belong to a club yet again.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Is Sherlock Holmes one of us?

I was reading yet another new reboot of The Amazing Spider-man comic this week when I noticed something very off about the tale. Spider-man's alter-ego, Peter Parker, whose charm always lay in that he was such an ordinary guy with ordinary problems when he didn't have the superhero suit on, had evolved over the years from a bullied high school student to, basically, a combination of Steve Jobs and Tony Stark. Wealthy and powerful, globe-hopping, and even outsourcing some of his Spider-man duties to a lesser hero that wears the suit for him on occasion, Peter Parker was no longer what anyone would call "ordinary."

And I suddenly found I didn't like him any more.

He wasn't one of us any more.

Yes, yes, another aging fan going "this isn't the XXXXXX that they had when I was a kid." We see that every day on the internet. Times change. Our cultural icons change.

But Peter Parker used to have to make a web-mask and go to the coin-operated laundromat to wash his spider-suit. He used to scrape by to pay his bills, and then he went out and did amazing, heroic things, which made him all the more heroic. Now it was like he was practically bullying the bad guys with all his wealth-based resources. Like if Batman was rich AND had super-powers AND was a cocky, smart-ass to the bad guys he was beating on. The underdog can make all the sassy comments he wants, but when you are the rich and powerful? It comes off a little differently.

Spider-man didn't seem like one of us any more.

And so my mind turned, as it always does, to Sherlock Holmes.

Sherlock Holmes is a little bit different from Peter Parker. For starters, he's Sherlock Holmes all the time. he just doesn't put the deerstalker cap on and suddenly take on a different lifestyle. (Hmm, interesting metaphor there, Parker.) When he's eating dinner, he's Sherlock Holmes, when he's in the Turkish bath, he's Sherlock Holmes, when he's pocketing a big check and commenting how poor he is, he's Sherlock Holmes.

But even though he's not going to the laundromat, Sherlock Holmes always felt to me like one of us. He's got a best friend and a shelf of books. He likes lazily laying around and dashing out to look at something unusual. But you would certainly never call him "ordinary."

Yet Sherlock Holmes, as any Sherlockian knows, was built to live in our world. To dine at Simpson's. To comment on distant American politics. To read books you can still find in old bookstores today. Even in his latest incarnation, he's going to wedding receptions, that most commonplace of ritual celebrations. He lives among us.

And yet, the question we all get to ask ourselves . . . is he one of us? Stan Lee wrote Peter Parker specifically to tie to ordinary parts of ordinary lives with things like that laundromat scene. But Sherlock Holmes was always a more subtle thing that a comic book character. He lives in our world, but how do we see him in that world?

Is he like a distant older brother or cousin? A love we haven't met yet? Or one of those people?

One of us? Or not. I know where my leanings lie, as evidenced by the option I put first in the list above. Yours?

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Did Sherlock Holmes evolve or was he created?

When it comes to Sherlock Holmes, I am a creationist.

The rest of you monkeys may need to impress me a little more to gain a similar respect, but regarding Sherlock Holmes, I prefer to ignore what the intellectual elitists among us say. Those theories that he evolved from medical instructor Joe Bell? Well, they're theoretical.

And that "Sherrinford Holmes" missing link you hear about from time to time? The Piltdown Man of Sherlockian study, of course. But instead of bone fragments, "Sherrinford Holmes" would appear to have been constructed from name fragments of existing Holmes siblings, if the rumors one hears quietly spread about the Sherlockian black market of ideas are correct.

And the thought that the primordial ooze of previous detective fiction in any way was a part of how Sherlock Holmes came to be? Holmes himself addresses that thought:

"No doubt you think that you are complimenting me in comparing me to Dupin, Now, in my opinion, Dupin was a very inferior fellow. That trick of his of breaking in on his friends' thoughts with an apropos remark after a quarter of an hour's silence is really very showy and superficial. He had some analytical genius, no doubt; but he was by no means such a phenomenon as Poe appeared to imagine."

And Dupin isn't even a real detective. He's a solver of monkey crimes.

Are you going to try to tell me that Sherlock Holmes, the Master of Detectives, came from a solver of monkey crimes? Don't give me any of that "Creeping Man" horsefeathers -- Professor Presbury was a human peeping tom who had delusions of monkey crime, not a true orangutan.

Yes, yes, I know that there are those of you who want to take the middle ground -- and say that Sherlock Holmes's creator used a sort of evolution to create the Master Detective. There are even those who say that Sherlock Holmes has continued to evolve (or devolve in the case of a certain CBS production) to this very day. 

But really look at Sherlock Holmes. His beautifully detailed personality. His highly complex vocational structure. The entangled growth of his relationship with John H. Watson. Only a miracle of creation could explain such a wonder. To say that marvel was slowly built by human brain cells over a progression of time . . . it insults the true genius of his creator, from whose divine inspiration Sherlock sprang fully-grown into the pages of Beeton's Christmas Annual. (And don't talk to me about typesetting and printing presses! Sprang full-grown!)

Now, you're probably going to ask, "Does this mean that Sherlock Holmes and the dinosaurs of The Lost World co-existed in Conan Doyle's brain at one time?" And my answer?

YES! Imagine that wonderful planet that was Conan Doyle's mind in the early 1880s, where Holmes, Challenger, Gerard, and all those other marvelous folk all lived together with pterodactyls and demon-hounds just waiting to be released. If I could build a museum with full-sized dioramas of that amazing place, I surely would.

Does that mean I am too fanatical about our friend Sherlock Holmes? Do we need William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow to come out of necrotirement and argue the case? Or, better still, Augusto Barelli and John Hebron? Hmm, I suppose that didn't settle things the first time . . . maybe we'd best not leave it to the lawyers!

So, non-lawyer Sherlockians, present your best case for a Sherlock Holmes made by evolution and I might be persuaded, devout believer in Sherlock Holmes creationsim that I apparently am. But don't get your hopes up . . . anyone who has blogged about Holmes this much must surely be an unredeemable fanatic.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Sherlockian friendship.

I was asked this week if I had written anything specific about Sherlockian friendship. And after writing for Sherlockian publications for a couple of decades and blogging at least once a week for nearly fourteen years after that, I found myself at a loss. I could not remember a single thing I have ever written about Sherlockian friendship.

I've written about some marvelous Sherlockian friends and their exploits, back when I was a bit more in the thick of it. I've written about clubs that bring some fine groups of folks together, and the adventures one could only have because somebody who wasn't you had a cockamamie idea and they were such great company you had to go along with it.

I've written tons on the effects of Sherlockian friendship, but never specifically on the subject itself . . . at least that I recall.

Sherlockian friendship is unique, yet not unique. It's a coming together of like-minded souls on a plane apart from our usual venues of workplace, community, and family, where friendships develop organically as we move through life. Other fandoms, other hobbies, other enthusiasms in general actually do have similar connections at their conventions, dinners, and meet-ups . . . and of course, our tribal instincts always want to tell us that our group of like-minded folk is a bit above the rest. And maybe Sherlockians do have certain advantages. We do know Mr. Sherlock Holmes, after all.

So why haven't I written more about Sherlockian friendship?

Well, this is the part of this particular post I've been working on all weekend, and there are three versions of what comes after that question that only will ever have been seen by my "delete" button. It's easy to get very introspective on that topic, and even sometimes a little into one's own failings as a friend, if one has any tendencies to go down that road. You can meet some very impressive folk wandering the Sherlockian by-ways, as well as a few total cads, and comparing yourself to the great ones is a rabbit hole nobody wants to see you go down.

But here's the thing: Sherlockian friendship isn't defined by any particular qualities, distinctive bon vivant charms, or literary wit. It's pretty much like regular friendship in that it's defined one individual at a time, one connection at a time. If anyone's relationship with an entire class of people could be standardized, I would suspect that person of never really getting to know any of them all that well.

When I think of Sherlockian friendship, specific names come to mind. Sometimes one of those names brings up a long set of adventures, sometimes one of those names invokes a single meaningful moment. Some bring thoughts of wonderful things we created together, others remind me of how badly I can screw something up. Every relationship, every name and face in my mental version of the Sherlockian Who's Who that I think of when I think of Sherlockian friendship, is different from the rest.

And I owe almost all of them a letter, a visit, or even an apology, but that's another blog post.

Basically, though, I have a very had time defining Sherlockian friendship, because it's never any single thing or combination of things. It's people. And you know what that means.

No two are ever going to be alike.