Friday, April 1, 2016

221B Con 2016: Return to the Heart of Sherlockness

It's a little trite, a little cliche, but I have to say it:

This isn't your grandpa's Sherlockiana any more.

It's 221B Con time again, bitches, and if you aren't open to having a little real Sherlockian fun, well, for one, you're probably not here. Not to say that you probably don't have a very good excuse, but, man, I don't see how people pass this thing up. I have to admit, it always scares me a little bit -- so much energy so very different from the Sherlockiana I came up with, at least on the surface. But then once you just step up and jump into the big ol' 221B Con pool, the water is really quite comfortable. And you might even start to swim.

Our long, and often detoured, drive down here got us to the Atlanta Perimeter Marriott just an hour before registration began and two hours before the programs started, and since we ran into Marilynne McKay early on and heard she was doing one of the first panels, on doctors in the Canon, we headed there and started the con with a dose of good solid Victorian medical expertise. Learned a few things, felt good about that, and then went for the entertainment.

S(her)lock, the web series, was back with new episodes, based on "Resident Patient" and "Devil's Foot." I enjoyed their very LGBTQIA-oriented take on Holmes, Watson, and Mrs. Hudson last year, and their new stuff showed both a lot of thought and a lot of talent, both behind the camera and in front of it. The case of Patricia Trevelyan added some 1990s era AIDS-related plotting to the original  -- S(her)lock takes place back in the 1990s -- to the tale of the resident patient and gave the story some real consequences, even for Sherlock. Helen Davies does a lovely job of putting Holmes's fire into a different body in a different era, and is a real treat to watch.

After that, the good Carter and I took a break for dinner with a fellow who knows more about Sherlockian actors than anyone else alive: Howard Ostrom. We didn't talk about that during dinner with Howard and his daughter Macy, because like so many other Sherlockians, he's got a lot of other colorful things going on in his life and the conversation ranged from pro wrestling to Rick Springfield to the obliquity of the ecliptic . . . well, we might have stopped before we got to that last one. After a good meal and a mandatory stop at Ali's Cookies (Any place with a cookie called "George Washington's Revenge" has got to be good, right? And it's even better.), we headed back to the Con.

I dove back into 221B Con with the tail end of "The Abominable Bride or Abominable special?" panel -- which was packed, as Sherlock-related content here tends to be. Make no mistake, the blazing energy that fires this con tends to be more BBC than Doubleday, but if you sit through any of these panels, you quickly come to understand that as much mental energy has gone into the study of the new Holmes as went into studying the old. It's a different thing, yes, but no less thoughtfully and intently undertaken. The new Sherlockiana cannot be dismissed as a passing fad these days by anyone who has paid real attention to it.

We followed that panel with that con-organizers' favorite, "Sherlock Holmes and Dinosaurs," harkening back to the blaze of glory around the Asylum film that happened here last year. A twerking Tyrannosaurus Rex actually took over at one point, but, hey, it's Friday night, and the fun is just starting to crank up. And boy, was it cranking up this time.

At 10 PM came the "nerdlesque" burlesque show benefiting the Beacon Society, and . . . whoa. Just whoa. Hosted by a well-voiced faux-BBC-Sherlock, the Hysteria Machines, Atlanta's own nerdlesque troupe, took us through a pop culture tour of some amazing performances based on fan favorites from Penny Dreadful, Harry Potter, Kingsman, and more with an even mix of male and female performers. Sherlock Holmes giving in and doing his own striptease was something none of us ever thought we'd see done at this level of skill, and the show was the perfect climax to the first day of 221B Con. (Not to say there isn't still video, dancing, and other socializing still going on, even as I write this.)

I heard one first-timer passing by going on in amazement at "so many people like me in one place," and remembered that, yes, that is what these things are all about. (Burlesque Sherlock had a much better story about the mythical creation of 221B Con that ended with the words, "I want Tumblr to be real for three days," which is good, too, but still . . .)

But here's the other thing: sometimes you come to these things to remind yourself that yes, other people are like you, even if you seem very different on the surface.

On to day two . . .

1 comment:

  1. Geeez Brad, if we only had a little bit longer dinner, I was just about to get get into both the dynamics of an asteroid and the obliquity of the ecliptic. Still I enjoyed the kayfabe of wrestling discussion. Dick the Bruiser & Rick Springfield in one meal --- so many people like me in one place --- let day 2 begin!