Monday, February 29, 2016

Okay, Charlotte, I'm counting on you . . .

A Sherlock Holmes club's featured post is a warning against criticisms of a particular pastiche.

An annual Sherlockian event's harassment policy comes up in a Facebook feed more often than any other detail of the event.

The head of an old Sherlockian institution attempts to define the characteristics appropriate to the membership of that institution.

And when seeing all of this, one's first thought might be visualizing a "neighborhood watch" sign going up in what used to be a peaceful neighborhood. You know that sign didn't pop up for no reason. Something occurred that made someone feel it was necessary. And yet your imagination is left to wonder just how bad that something was . . . and a little bit of, well, let's not call it fear. But it's surely a cousin to that emotion, whatever it is.

Up to this point, this was a blog post I first considered entitling "Has Sherlockiana become a bad neighborhood?" but, man, that's a negative slant. I started trying to think of something more positive that I could honestly write about. There's a lot of positive in the world of Sherlock Holmes and his fans, right? And then one more thing happened.

A prominent Sherlockian tweeted that he wasn't going to write something due to the "unpleasant climate" of the current Sherlockian world. I could see the point, and it made me rethink continuing this post. Yeah, there's troubling stuff out there. But where to go?

Hard to discuss any of the above topics in a helpful way. Probably just make matters worse.

And then I stumbled upon the new book trailer for a young adult novel, A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro. As it comes out tomorrow, an Amazon one-click could still get the pre-order in, so one-click it was. The young adult fiction marketplace has been marked by both solid successes and "Why would anyone buy that?" stuff trying to mimic others' success in that very popular category, so it can be a roll of the dice, but maybe that was the point.

Some days, you just have to have hope. Somebody went to the trouble to make a pretty fair little trailer about descendants of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson teaming up at school, so there must be some confidence in it. Maybe this book will have some fun in it.

It's not so much about escapism, looking for another Holmes adventure to dive into . . . all of the fandom issues aren't going anywhere . . . but more about just moving forward. One more thing to look forward to as this Sherlockian world keeps turning and sorts itself out. As Watson heard in "A Scandal in Bohemia" . . .

"But you have hopes?"

"I have hopes."

Sunday, February 28, 2016

221B Con on the horizon.

So I'm watching BBC Sherlock's "Abominable Bride" this morning, just in case there are any ripe cosplay ideas ready to fall off the tree for 221B Con, and when Mike Stamford came on screen, I actually stopped for a moment to appreciate this rare character who actually got to participate in the same story, performing the same function, in two eras. I like his glasses, and wonder for a moment how quickly a bargain optometrist could produce a similar pair. But the show moves on, and so do I.

Watson's empty chair . . . fun idea, tricky to rig up in a way that would be con-functional for walking around. That bride outfit . . . oh, I have a friend who would love to help put me in that one, but the lace looks a bit pricey. Various Victorian outfits . . . nothing jumping out. Colorful Klan robes . . . in Atlanta? In America whatsoever? No way. Cosplay is just not ever going to be my specialty, I guess, which is okay, because there's some real talent out there.

And then, about five minutes before "Bride" got over with, I stumbled into the news on Twitter: David Nellist is going to be a guest at that same 221B Con this year. Yes, he of Mike Stamford celebrity, modern and Victorian versions, is coming to the con. Very nice.

We're just about a month out from heading for Atlanta and that Sherlock con which was my first and favorite. (Talking cons here, not symposiums or workshops. Those are an entirely different affair.) The excitement is starting to ramp up, the feeling that I'm never going to be quite ready for it. The training starts now. Why training?

Well, there's Ali's Cookies. At last year's 221B Con, I made about four trips over to Ali's Cookies in Perimeter Place and was eating them for breakfast most days. Seriously good cookies.

And then there's the attempt to squeeze as much con in as poss . . .

[And there the blog post writer wandered off, looking into other matters of the weekend.]

Friday, February 26, 2016

A toast to Ross K. Foad . . . and others like him.

This morning brought Ross K. Foad's video comments on his post about leaving Holmes, but by this evening, the video had been pulled down. Understandable second thoughts, I would guess, whether second thoughts about taking a hiatus from his Sherlockian efforts or just the video itself is hard to say, but I sympathize with his sentiments, I really do. Been there, but not done that, especially in Ross's case -- his output and energies have placed him in a class few Sherlockians or Holmesians ever achieve.

While his comments about the thanklessness of his efforts in the field of Sherlock might inspire derision in some mediocre minds, anyone who's put their entire heart and soul into this hobby knows those moments well. If you look back upon the history of Sherlockian fandom, you'll see some Herculean efforts of monk-like devotion, literal decades worth of hours, even subtracting eating, sleeping, and day jobs, spent in lonely tasks of research, collection, and production. And none of those folks ever truly got the rewards they deserved . . . a nod here, a certificate there, when their efforts really rated bronze busts and luxurious feasting. (Along with a few groupies of the preferred gender and all that comes with that.)

But as much as some airy, snifter sorts would like to call us "afficionados," I've always preferred the term "fans." Why? Because "fan" is short for "fanatic," and the best of our past-time have always been that. Not, sitting back with a cigar and a brandy being all "afficionado-y" . . . no, the best of us are full-on crazed fanatics, giving their all to the love of a legend.

The thing is, few Sherlockians are truly crazy. We have those lucid moments when we look around and go, "What the Hell have I been doing all this time? I could have been a [Insert your version of a profession of accomplishment here.]" You can hit a real dark night of the soul, and as much as we love our Sherlockian camaraderie, it can be a lonely night as well.

When your entire crowd is busy looking at the stage where the star stands, they sometimes forget to look down the aisle to see if the people there are okay. Sherlock Holmes is our star, our focus, our celebrated one, and in this Cumberbatch-loving era, we've even got a rock star taking up the warm-up stage for the main event. (And often threatening to upstage him.) For a novelist, a podcaster, an event-coordinator or a video producer to shine a light for any length of time in today's blazing glare of Sherlock radiance . . . not so easy. The next thing is always here.

You can't do Sherlockian because it's a stepping stone to some outside-the-fandom success. You can't do Sherlockian because you hope to be recognized by the heirs to some old institution. In the wee dark hours of the lonely February Sherlockian night, you have to reach down deep and find the reason you do it just for you. And how you're going to make your own fun on your next foray into the land of Holmes. Or maybe . . . just maybe . . . that you actually are a bit mad, and that madness centers around Sherlock Holmes. 

As the great Sherlockian tidal wave of the last decade starts to ebb a bit, we're going to see a lot of Sherlockian talent facing their own dark night of the soul, taking their own hiatuses. Some will one day come back, some won't. But that didn't mean they weren't appreciated while they were here.

Like many another Sherlockian, I have been looking at this thing and that thing, gazing at my own Sherlock-shaped navel, and doing many other things besides taking time to fully appreciate and comment on some of the massive efforts being made out there in the name of Sherlock Holmes. That doesn't mean I won't be sad when I see a candle start to flicker, like No Place Like Holmes.

And hope those behind such marvelous efforts, like Ross, find their fun again, wherever they wind up. Even if it's back here, in the land of unrequited Sherlock lovers.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

What would Sherlock Holmes think of "Elementary?"

A comment from Dick Sveum on my last blog post reminded me of some thoughts from our friend Sherlock Holmes that I hadn't thought of in a while: That time early on when Holmes critiqued the previous fictional detectives.

"You remind me of Edgar Allen Poe's Dupin," Watson had remarked. "I had no idea that such individuals did exist outside of stories." Holmes's reply?

"No doubt you think that you are complimenting me in comparing me to Dupin . . . Dupin was a very inferior fellow. He had some analytical genius, no doubt; but he was by no means such a phenomenon as Poe appeared to imagine."

"Have you read Gaboriau's works?" Watson then asked. "Does Lecoq come up to your idea of a detective?" Sherlock Holmes actually sniffs before making his next comment in anger:

"Lecoq was a miserable bungler; he had only one thing to recommend him, and that was his energy. That book made me positively ill. . . . It might be made a text-book for detectives to teach them what to avoid."

Can you imagine what the reaction would be, were Sherlock Holmes to unleash such words on-line in today's highly reactive world? The Poe and Gaboriau crowd on Tumblr would be having virtual brain fever fit. Sherlock Holmes, internet troll? No . . . Watson did bring it up.

But it got me thinking: What would Holmes say today, had Watson compared him to that Mr. Elementary on CBS's Elementary?

Well, I'm no Sherlock Holmes, but I did write the first book completely focused on his methods way back when, so I thought I'd try to puzzle that out with this week's show.

Mr. Elementary's first crime scene search yield a puddle of puke with antacid in it, which to him says that the killer used it to fake a seizure and get the drop on the shotgunned gang members. Since people with upset stomachs both take remedies and vomit, he seems to be jumping to definite conclusions very quickly.

The second of Mr. Elementary's methods this week involves acquiring cell phones and looking what's one them . . . given the trouble the F.B.I. is having getting into one Apple iPhone at present, it seems those in Mr. Elementary's world don't passcode their phones with pins or fingerprints like that genius Irene Adler in BBC Sherlock-land. Nothing any other unscrupulous sort in a city of innocents couldn't do, so he gets no points for that.

While Joan Watson and Detective Bell interview a witness, Mr. Elementary finds a silicone mask and wig lying neatly atop the garbage in a nearby trash can. He doesn't seem to care much for talking to witnesses or persons of importance to the case, sending Joan to talk to someone else. The NYPD does some DNA matching on the pukey antacid and the silicone mask, making that earlier questionable evidence more solid, and as the tag-team investigation and theorizing between Mr. Elementary, Joan Watson, Captain Gregson, and Detective Bell, one really wonders if Mr. Elementary could solve a case on his own.

John Noble, as Mr. Elementary's father, is all soap opera cheese this episode. Lines like "To invoke your mother now . . . you haven't changed." "Did you really believe you were the first addict in the family?" "If I could take back the last thirty-three years . . . " The "who attempted to kill Father Elementary" here-again, gone-again subplot meanders around the main plot this week . . . the show's formula always demands a second story of course, which is often where they try to shoehorn what passes for continuity on Elementary. Yet nothing that really ever distracts characters from the main procedural, of course, no matter what. Mr. Elementary's mother was an addict like he is. And she died. And somehow that's dull. And here we find the true key to it all.

What would Sherlock Holmes think of Mr. Elementary's methods on this week's episode of Elementary? I don't think he'd have stuck with this slow-moving, static-shot-of-characters-standing-still-talking-alternating-with-other-character-standing-still-talking, sleep-inducing show long enough to make any sort of judgment on his namesake's detective skills. Holmes had a real problem with boredom after all.

"You say that there's a show with the title of a word I've used on this CBS network. If it were on HBO, it would not make a pennyworth of difference to me or to my work."

Exactly. That's a word Sherlock Holmes used, too. Wonder what kind of show we could build around that?

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Time to step back and remember why one is here.

Sometimes, I have to stop and remember why I like Sherlock Holmes.


Because he always seemed like the guy I wanted to be.

Not aspiring to be a genius, of course. Either you're born with that one or you're not.

Not wanting to catch criminals, either. Criminals can hurt you, you know?

Not just wanting to live in an apartment with my best pal. I like my space.

So what was it about Sherlock Holmes that I wanted so much to be like?

To be a person who didn't just accept the easy answers, the superficial story that one sees at first glance. To find the improbable truth that took eliminating all those impossibles to get to.

Sherlock Holmes had to discipline himself in a number of different ways to accomplish that simple task, and one of those things was maintaining his objectivity. Objectivity seems like such an old-fashioned concept these days, when so much of our news consists of opinion or reaction, usually born of emotion. The only reason Sherlock Holmes didn't react emotionally was because he was a sociopath or on the autism spectrum, though, right? We've even lost our objectivity about objectivity, it often seems, trying to give ourselves an out for not being like Holmes.

Solving life's mysteries is hard work. You actually have to stop and think about what you're seeing.

Sherlock Holmes didn't say, "Trust your feelings." No, that was the ghost of a guy who let his over-emotional ex-pal swat him into the ether. Sherlock said, "No ghosts need apply." And "You know my methods. Apply them . . ."

Some days, it's easy to lose sight of what made Sherlock Holmes what he was, especially in the community of his fans. And it becomes easy to dwell more on one's own reactions than those true-to-life methods we know can bring resolution, even when we're dealing with those whose view of a case might be different from our own, as Holmes so often was.

That's why I'm here, doing this Sherlock Holmes fan thing, because he's a guy worth paying attention to, for a lot of good reasons.

Some days more than others.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Searching for Mother Holmes.

About seventeen years ago, when I was publishing a fun little journal called The Holmes & Watson Report, I asked a round table of Sherlockian writers to come up with their own theories on Sherlock Holmes's mother. We're pretty sure Sherlock Holmes had a mother. Or was, at least, given birth by a human woman. It was the Victorian era, after all, not some clone-teched future or an ancient Greek land of gods. "The world is big enough for us," as Holmes himself would remind us. But what could one deduce about the woman who gave the world Sherlock Holmes from what evidence we have on hand?

Six good Sherlockian brains set about figuring that out.

Hugh Harrington decided that trust was the key to finding Holmes's mother. Who did Sherlock Holmes trust as only a mother could be trusted?

"While Watson never actually mentions Holmes's mother, we can, with some degree of confidence, find her in the Canon playing a role that not only defeats the German spy network, but also preserves the life of her son, Sherlock Holmes."

Hugh suspected Martha Holmes of being that cat-loving agent in "His Last Bow."

David R. McCallister, on the other hand, looked outside the Canon to the Cockburns of Berwickshire and "a tall, thin waif" of a Home cousin, who passed on certain "medium" genes to her son.

Tina Rhea also took a scholarly approach, looking at both the Canon and other writings on the era to surmise that Sherlock's mother might have been "entirely the wrong sort of woman."

Rosemary Michaud gathered her data and used that sort of "logical synthesis" Holmes favored to project a woman she called "Violette" who ran off with an actor and died after giving birth to Sherlock in Chicago.

Don Hobbs saw Sherlock and Mycroft's mother as a Bohemian soul who inspired neither of her sons to take up a life-partner.

My own theory, adding in my favorite theorized siblings of Sherlock (James and Violet), and looking at the admirable qualities of all her children, was that Mother Holmes was a very remarkable woman.

"I have frequently gained my first real insight into the character of parents by studying their children," Sherlock once said, and why wouldn't we use his own methods in this case, as we would any other?

BBC Sherlock gave us one of the few portrayals of that most necessary person, and a lovely one at that, and I've seen rumors that a certain other television show might be doing a mother with the last name of Holmes soon as well. But no matter who is looking into the mother of the greatest detective in the history of the world, I think we call all agree that she was no ordinary woman.

No ordinary woman at all. But then, few mothers are.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Do we always have to write Sherlock Holmes to have it read?

There was a line one used to hear about Sherlock Holmes that there was more written about him than any person except Jesus, and perhaps Napoleon. At this late date, I'm not even sure where that entered my brain from -- a John Bennett Shaw workshop, some pre-WWII bit of Sherlockian scholarship, or where. As the Napoleon reference would imply, it goes back a long way. You don't hear much about Napoleon fandom outside of "The Adventure of the Six Napoleons" these days.

But that line never saw fan fiction coming, nor the effect the internet would have on it. That combo was the invention of the nuclear warhead in some respects. We went from a day when fan fiction still had publishers, as amateur as they were, and editorial gatekeepers of a sort, even though self-publishing was always available if you had the time and bank account. Now bank account and access to a local printer (the person/business, not the household appliance) are no longer necessary.

At this point, if you can write it, putting it out for the public to see isn't a problem. You don't have to painstakingly type it out on a typewriter, send it to a typesetter (unless you were typesetting with a typewriter), get the type laid out and to a printer, with all the details in between. Now you can just type it up and push it to the web, just like I'm doing here. These words could be a scholarly essay, a short story, a novelette, or a full chapter-by-chapter novel if I so desired. It's just that easy now.

Which changes the dynamic a lot. Suddenly writing about Sherlock Holmes is as easy as reading about Sherlock Holmes. Writing well about Sherlock may seem harder than reading well about Sherlock, simply because reading is not usually done in public, so we never know whose out there struggling with literacy just to get a dose of Sherlock. With writing, we can pretty much see who did well in English class and who didn't . . . or who made the effort to improve their skills later . . . but if you really don't care what anyone says about your stuff, you can publish it anyway. (Hmm, just realized that "publish" and "public" probably come from the same root. Interesting.)

All this means that we have more writers about Sherlock Holmes than we ever did.

Last year at 221B Con, I had a great time at a midnight fan fiction workshop with what seemed like a couple of hundred other people doing fan fiction writing exercises. Think about that -- well over a hundred people in one spot caring enough about writing Sherlock to stay up past midnight to do it. That isn't writing to become famous or writing to make money. That's just writing for fun, like going to a karoake bar or going dancing.

Writing doesn't have to be about fame or fortune. It never did, it's just that those ideas are like the big Powerball lottery jackpots, hard not to let your daydreams drift to. If you've got the talent, the drive, and/or the connections to get your work out ahead of the pack, you can still go pro with wordsmithing, but you definitely don't have to. We now live in an era where an adult can read comic books without posing as a "comic collector" to try to legitimize the hobby, and writing is much the same. You can write whatever silly-ass thing you want just for your own enjoyment, just like you'd paint an acrylic nature scene without ever considering a gallery show.

That's why I enjoy blogging in the mornings. Gets the brain going, orders the thoughts a bit, and can be a sort of relaxing meditation. At this point, I think I'd be doing it whether or not anyone read it. But it dumps just that many more words into the mass of public writings about Sherlock Holmes.

We have to keep ahead of the Trekkies, Potterphiles, and those pesky Napoleonianiacs, after all.

Friday, February 19, 2016

The New York version of 221A Baker Street.

This week on Elementary? Joan Watson can't sleep because of hard-partying neighbors. Mr. Elementary tries to escape a straight jacket while wearing noise-cancelling headphones, and doesn't seem to be doing to well at it.

Somewhere else in New York, a mild-mannered herbal tea enthusiast makes a comment about life "throwing up challenges" before he returns to his apartment full of collapsed and puking guests. Yes, he really said "throwing up" before seeing the pukefest.

Mr. Elementary was somehow listening to his police scanner, despite the previous scene, and shows up uninvited to the resulting crime scene above where the investigating officers aren't exactly thrilled to see him gleefully showing up to tell them they're wrong about poison mushrooms in the tea the botany folk drank. But that's okay, by the very next scene of the investigation, good old detective Bell will be on the case instead of those two. After we see Joan going next door to see what the noisy neighbor problem is.

Fiona, Mr. Elementary's new date from last week, is nowhere to be seen of course. Nor is Mr. Elementary's father whose assassin-plagued life was very important to Mr. Elementary to investigate a couple weeks ago. But hey, Joan Watson has a noisy neighbor issue and Mr. Elementary is listening to the police scanner looking for random crime to investigate, so why do we need either of those things? Not like anyone following the show might be curious about them. Hey, a dead girl with mushrooms growing on her! Squirrel!

Oh, did you know Sebastian Moran used soft-nosed bullets that mushroomed after striking their victims in "The Adventure of the Empty House?" This actual Sherlock Holmes moment brought to you by Mr. Moon's Moonfind Search Engine. Mr. Moon's Moonfind Search Engine, helping Sherlockians find words having to do with Sherlock Holmes since 1998.

Veteran character actor Richard Kind, most recently seen as Mayor James on the very involving and continuity-heavy Gotham, pops up as the neighbor Mr. Elementary drove out, but who apparently stuck it out from Mr. E's early drug addict days until the fourth season. Joan and Mr. Elementary's later discussion of him brings up references to Moriarty a.k.a. Irene and 221B, as well as 221A Baker Street, along with the rooftop bees, the roosters from a previous episode, etc., so this episode manages to tie itself to the rest of the series about 36 minutes in.

And then a really weird thing happens . . . an Ebola awareness commercial comes on. Remember Ebola, that thing we were all really aware of last year, that Africa go under control so we quit worrying so much about it and started worrying about Zika? That commercial is a more intriguing mystery than the plot Elementary is strolling through this week.

But we do learn that Mr. Elementary bought 221A Baker Street to keep from disturbing the neighbors, which means there was no landlady at 221 Baker Street. But we already know Ms. Hudson didn't show up until he wandered to New York. Or that Elementary doesn't have anything to do wtih the Sherlock Holmes written of by John H. Watson as agented by Conan Doyle. So that's okay.

Reallly, it's okay. After three and a half seasons of this, an episode of Elementary entitled "A Study in Charlotte" just being a mushroom-poisoning mystery with a noisy neighbor subplot, it's pretty much business as usual for the Thursday night procedural. And this week's episode isn't quite as sensationally ADD as some others . . . hey, an episode of Limitless coming up on CBS has the abduction of a Henry Watson . . . sorry, my own attention deficit disorder just kicked in, as it often does on Thursday night. Or Friday morning, if I decided to watch an old episode of Batman the night before instead. (Hey, Penguin said "Elementary, my dear Reggie!" -- it was just like watching Elementary, Sherlockian content-wise.)

Joan Watson really connects with the Richard Kind-portrayed next door neighbor who was renting out the brownstone next door to noisy vacactioners, so it looks like he's going to move back in and be another ongoing supporting character whom we never see again. Or maybe once or twice, if some future writer takes a shine to him.

And that's okay. Like Richard Kind, I'm coming to accept this oft-unpleasant next-door-neighbor to an actual Sherlock Holmes. With a little sound-proofing and an occasional nice moment with Lucy Liu.


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Out to hear Alan J. Porter.

As the good Carter said tonight, sometimes it's good to hear someone you've known socially do a formal talk and Q&A about what they do, because you get to ask them questions that wouldn't just come up in regular conversation.

Tonight, Alan J. Porter was speaking and signing books at lit. on fire used books down the road (literally) from us, and it was a great chance to pic up his latest Sherlockian effort, "The Case of the Rotten Corpse" in Sherlock Holmes, Consulting Detective, Volume 7.  T'were my wallet a little fatter this week, I might have picked up his Allen Quartermain novelette as well, and maybe that Beatles book he did (which sounded unique enough that even a non-fan like myself might be interested). But it was still a great time, even if one couldn't do all of the shopping one might have.


Well, just as Holmes said "it is always a joy to meet an American," I would say, "it is always a joy to hear a writer talk about their craft." Alan is the sort of writer who loves to dive into his research, and having played in the Victorian history fields of Sherlock Holmes, I can relate to that impulse completely. Sherlock Holmes is a great one to write about if you like following trails through history, but also, as Alan pointed out, a real challenge as well, since . . . well, he's Sherlock Holmes. He has to solve some pretty tough mysteries.

There were a few Sherlockian I can think of whom I wished were along tonight as Alan spoke of writing about the Beatles' teenage years, writing for comics, and finding mysteries for Holmes to solve -- I've noticed some overlap in fans of those subjects over the years. Or maybe it's just that the Beatles and comics have so many fans that there's bound to be some overlap with Holmes. (And they probably fit better than Rolling Stones and garden magazines with the detective.)

In any case, it was a lovely evening out, of a sort we don't seem to get nearly enough of here in this Illinois river city. Now to sit down and read Alan's latest.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Everything wrong with Sherlock Holmes? Say it isn't so!

Well, I suppose we had to get there eventually. Get a popularity wave going, get a couple of hit movies under the old dressing gown belt, and all of the reliable YouTube critic-humor series are going to get to Sherlock Holmes eventually. And thus we come to . . .

"Everything Wrong With Sherlock Holmes in 13 Minutes Or Less."

Luckily, it's not everything wrong with Sherlock Holmes, the whole Sherlockian Canon, century-and-a-quarter of legendary detection . . . it's just the Guy Ritchie Sherlock Holmes movie. Phew.

The fast-talking Cinema Sins guy goes quipping and making his own rapid-fire observations and critiques through a thirteen minute recap of the film, and a lot of it is valid.

The most stinging critique is Mr. CinemaSins comments on how forgettable the movie was -- something people can start deciding a full six years after its release.

The most fun is the little bit at the end where CinemaSins dubs other movies' lines and soundtracks over scenes from the movie at hand. The first two clips are definitely cross-Sherlockian, though the first one might be a little tricky for some to remember.

But the title alone makes one want to see a real YouTube video of everything wrong with the original Conan Doyle Holmesian Canon . . . something that definitely couldn't be done in 13 minutes or less.

Unless one just accepts that  there's nothing wrong with the Doyle Canon, of course, which is the case. Because if you thought you ever found something wrong with the original sixty, some Sherlockian in the past hundred-and-twenty-something years has probably already written why it isn't wrong. (Conan O'Brien wasn't the first one to come up with "Fan Corrections" that turn "mistakes" around.)

And if you come up with a new wrong on that Sherlock, let us know. Somebody will explain why you're mistaken. It's what we do.

Monday, February 15, 2016

And now, a most minor moment in Sherlockian history.

The year is 1987. At least it might be . . . given the future-dating that comic books used to keep magazines on the racks longer, it may have even been December of 1986. The Sherlockian event?

Issue #405 of Batman. It was the second chapter of Frank Miller's "Year One" storyline, the storyline that made "Year One" stories a comic book standard. And if you turn the still-printed-on-newsprint pages back to the letters page, you'll find a DC comics editor responding to a fan's letter with the words, "Quick, Watson, hand me the wrench!"

Said fan was not writing in about anything to do with Sherlock Holmes, oddly enough. He had typed up his letter, put a stamp on it, and dropped it at the post office on his way to work just to complain about the over-used plot device of injuring Batman's ribs. The curious coincidence about the editor's reply, however, was that he was replying to a Sherlockian who had just published a book on Holmes's methods and was heading to New York for the annual Sherlock Holmes birthday festivities very close to the time that issue came out. This Sherlockian right here. The one writing this blog.

I had forgotten about it entirely until Dennis Ellison pointed it out in a Facebook comment this weekend. Letters pages aren't reprinted in trade paperback collections, so he had to be reading a copy of the original issue to notice it, which makes the chain of coincidence for that reminder become even more complex. With that, I give you Batman letters page mention of Dr. Watson from 1987.

A very minor moment in Sherlockian history.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Benedict give his All.

Well, Basil Rathbone never quite went this far . . . .

Basil Rathbone and Benedict Cumberbatch at two Sherlock actors I enjoy seeing in just about anything. Both have a very distinctive look, both play great villains, and both can command a big screen like nobody's business.

Basil just was born at the wrong time to appear in "Zoolander 2."

Oh, you may have heard the bad critic buzz. You may have heard that "Deadpool" murdered it along with some other box office competition, but "Zoolander 2" will always be remembered as the movie that gave us the angelic Benedict Cumberbatch that fan fiction always knew was out there.


As much as I dislike a movie or TV show for poorly pretending to be smart, I dearly, dearly love a show that just goes for the stupid with all its energy. And boy, do Zoolander movies go for the stupid. Derek Zoolander could be the polar opposite of Sherlock Holmes, though he does have his own Watson in Hansel. (Hmm. "John H. Watson." "John Hansel Watson?") But they throw a lot of parody on our superficial culture in along the way, and what did that bring us this time?

Benedict Cumberbatch as "All," the non-gender-specific "quing" of the modeling world. The bit of Benedict in that part we saw in the preview, looking so much like an Afghan hound, paled in comparison to that character's runway entrance in the movie, flying in like a dark angel of S and M, whipping the main characters in a way that would make Lara Pulver's Irene Adler proud . . . or jealous.

Cumberbatch's "All" doesn't do much in the plot other than represent how the modeling world has moved on from Zoolander and Hansel's day, but it's one of those parts that show us an actor isn't taking himself too seriously, which always makes you enjoy their serious parts just a little bit more. And with "Doctor Strange" on the horizon for later this year, it was a nice touch to see Benedict Cumberbatch sharing multiplexes with what could be his competition for breakout Marvel Comics character of 2016.

And really, Basil Rathbone would have made a pretty fair Doctor Strange as well. But "All," however?  Hmmm . . . maybe  . . . ?

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Elementary's latest topic du jour.

Part of my problem with CBS's Elementary has always been the way it dabbles in Sherlock Holmes. At its core, it's not really a TV show about Sherlock Holmes -- it's a TV show about standard TV procedurals of the current style. Any trappings of Sherlock Holmes are merely slapped on like stickers on a NASCAR racer.

The same thing happens when Elementary deals with addiction. Slap on some addiction stickers, keep the procedural form at the core of it all. Any issues of addiction dealt with come on as "addiction lite." The show's main character is only an addict when the latest season needs a different color to paint its procedural base.

So this week, Elementary decided to bring in neurodiversity again, by giving its main character a love interest who is autistic and playing up the on-the-spectrum side of its lead, just as it plays up the addiction when the deus needs some ex machina. Given the way love interests come and go on Elementary, one really hates to become invested in the new character, who will appear as sporadically and disappear just as completely as Alfredo, the addiction sponsor.

If you're not Mr. Elementary, Joan, the Captain, Bell, or the procedural format, you're really not anything Elementary is going to deal with on an ongoing basis.

A topic as wide-ranging and controversial as neurodiversity isn't something Elementary is going to do anything more than get its "awareness" badge for. Should we expect more of broadcast network television? Perhaps not. It's end-of-the-day, shut-down-the-brain-and-relax TV. Perhaps awareness is enough for an entertainment at this level.

I just really hate when they bring up a character with so much potential, like Ms. Hudson, Alfredo, or now Fiona, use them for color, then have them disappear again until one of the writers needs something different again. I suppose that's just the way of the network procedural, but it's a horrible method of storytelling, much worse than the no-continuity-at-all shows of the sixties in some ways. At least then when you loved a character in an episode, there was no expectation or hope that they might become a regular. And when the topic is addiction or autism or something actually serious, it becomes even more "icky" feeling to see them used and tossed away.

But as with Sherlock Holmes, the argument is that any light on the subject is good light on the subject, even if it's tossed in to fill the content gaps in an hour-long procedural mystery.

Is it satisfying, though?

You may have a different thought on that than I.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Mandatory pop culture character comparison to Sherlock Holmes, 2016.

Okay, I'm going do this, not because I have to, but because I want to.

Sherlock Holmes was the Victorian Deadpool.

Yes, Deadpool, the nineteen-nineties product of the comic book bubble, child of mutant X-mania, "Why is this character so popular?" murderous mercenary being portrayed by living-his-dreams Ryan Reynolds in the movie "Deadpool" opening this Friday. Or tonight, if you count those sneaky Thursday night first showings.

I could go deep and cite some classic trickster-god character business, but it's late and I'm tired.

It's the smart-alecky comments, that little bit of self-awareness Holmes exhibits in commenting on other fictional detectives, the unflappable confidence in the face of . . . whatever.

But Sherlock Holmes and Deadpool did fight to the death aboard H.G. Wells's time machine in the fourth chapter of Deadpool: Classics Killustrated. So they're also opposing forces as well, especially given Holmes's Victorian lack-of-boundaries and Deadpool's millennial lack-of-boundaries . . . time periods matter, don't they?

Ah, well, like I said, it's late and I'm tired.

I would mention that "Deadpool" is a great, R-rated superhero funtime, too, but it's Thursday night and the Elementary fans wandering through might decide to bag on my affection for it in their misguided quest for vengeance. (Is a group of said fans truly called "a bitter of Elementary fans," as I've heard spoken by someone who should be truly ashamed and not call themselves a good Sherlockian, because really all "Sherlock" is good "Sherlock," right?)

Hey, this blog is a form of "Sherlock," sorta! Good! Night!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Would Holmes and Watson have sex?

There seems to be a lot of people thinking about Holmes and Watson having sex, or not having sex, these days.

On the BBC Sherlock side, we have the mountain of Johnlock. On the CBS Elementary side, we have repeated assurances that the two leads will not sleep together. And in the Victorian originals, we have our two heroes continuing to go, "What? There is such a thing as sexual intercourse? Zounds!"

Well, maybe not that last part, but as there are no Canonical progeny to speak of, you really can't prove that Holmes and Watson weren't both possessed of "Ken doll" anatomies.

Yet with this question on so many minds, it makes one want to strip away all the Cumberbatch/Freeman ardor, all of the "it will ruin the show" Miller/Liu thought, and even pull a gender change on one of the pair just to ease any tensions in the homophobic, and once all that is done, actually ask and answer the basic question:

Would S. Holmes and J. Watson have sex?

Two such divergent personality types. One as completely career-focussed as a human being can be, the other a not-that-assertive sometime-homebody who gets flustered around the opposite sex. It's not hard to imagine these two, even if they were both as desirable as can be, still knocking about the same rooms for years without either one making a move.

There is admiration, yes, but there is also a measure of annoyance. And if one were to develop feelings that did not arise in the other simultaneously, it is easy to envision either of the pair being so noble (or simply practical) as not to take advantage of the situation. Love is a very curious alchemy and does not always spring up where one thinks or hopes it might, and would Watson's observation on Holmes that "as a lover, he would have place himself in a false position" be any less certain for the doctor, having developed feelings for Holmes. It might have been an even more solidly painful truth in such a case.

One looks to Fox Mulder and Dana Scully for some sign of how investigative partners who didn't come together via marriage might wind up, and despite one scene at the very last part of The X-Files, that show's creator, Chris Carter, claims they were always platonic. Many a fan, of course, hoped otherwise, as there is an instinct in all of us to want what we can't have.

These days, I would surely seem a mere infant at the study of a Holmes/Watson liason. The relationship between Holmes and Watson and every scenario that would lead to intimate connection, every reason for either of them to find a passionate need for the other, has surely been explored, reiterated, and played out in detail in a myriad of fan fiction and other discussions. There is no need to question if such a thing is possible, having been laid out for us so very many times. And yet . . .

And yet one still wonders if it could just come down to that classic line, "The lady doth protest too much, methinks."

And wonders if what drives the Holmes and Watson sex question so very, very hard, making it more of a force than with many another pairing is how much, deep down in our hearts, we know that these two are a truly hopeless pair for a full coupling. And if a true love could bring those two unlikely souls together, then there should surely be hope for the rest of us as well.

The sex question was never really about sex, of course. Anyone can put tab "A" into slot "B." And the pure pleasure part does not require a specific partner. It's what the act consummates that we're truly interested in.

And having Sherlock Holmes and John H. Watson consummate after almost one hundred and thirty years of a relationship? It's no wonder the Sherlockian world can seem a bit mad for it these days.

But would they? Could they? Should they?

I don't know if I'll ever have an answer for that myself.

When you strip away all the tech.

DVDs, online fanfic repositories, YouTube video . . . so much of Sherlockian fandom revolves around technology these days that it's very easy to get a little confused about it.

If a great big ol' electromagnetic pulse was suddenly to wipe out all our podcasts, ability to rewatch BBC Sherlock, Facebook groups, and all of that other stuff, would we suddenly lose all those fans who came to 221B through technological channels? Some Luddites might tell you so, to feel a little more proud of their Luddy-ness. But lets go back to the Great Depression, when the bottom dropped out of things once before.

A fellow named Gray Chandler Briggs, who had "the most beautiful home in St. Louis and a garage of five cars," along with a healthy bank account, lost it all. One of his friends had "recently took the .38 route to alleviate his mental sufferings," because things were bad. Really bad. He was corresponding with a writer friend at the time, whose life was also hit hard.

"I try to make sort of a game of poverty, and try to be happy in it," his writer friend wrote. "And much of the time I succeed."

Life had changed for everyone, so dramatically that mutual poverty was openly written of. No one tried to hide it, as it affected all. But the writer friend wrote something else:

"Our values, fortunately, yours and mine, and the values of other 'right ones' -- didn't have to change with the times. We have always cared for the things -- books, pictures, music, etc. -- that others are now coming back to."

The baseline human entertainments: literature, art, music . . . able to be produced and enjoyed when so much else is stripped away. Those three things are the measure of our hearts in a way, the way we capture our spirit and save it for a rainy day. When you strip away the tech, they remain.

And here's what you realize when you look at the newer parts of our fandom with open eyes. It has brought us its own art. It has brought us its own literature. It has even brought us some music. Strip away all the tech that surrounds it and the inspired writers, artists, makers, musicians, and other creatives inspired by the spirit of Sherlock Holmes remain.

As Gray Chandler Briggs had written to his writer friend some time before, "Time back there was talk of keeping a perpetual flame in memory of Sir Arthur. That has been done. The fire which Doyle lighted with his pen in that second floor front in Baker st. will burn as long as books are read."

That fire Conan Doyle lit stays on in a lot of ways. Some old and some so new that it can be very hard for many to see it as the same flame. But it still burns, and brighter than ever these days.

That flame we call Sherlock Holmes.


Postscript: I said "some old and some so new," right? The old, that inspired this post was from a collection of letters in a book I inherited from an old friend of mine, Mr. Robert C. Burr. The book is titled "Dear Starrett --" / "Dear Briggs --" and the quotes you find above where highlighted by my friend, a man who loved books yet had no fear of making them his own with written-in corrections and highlights. The spirit of Sherlock can be passed along in all sorts of ways, even after we're gone. (And thanks for that, Bob.)

Sunday, February 7, 2016

The third anniversary of the Elementary Bowl.

Ah, the Big Game.

There is really absolutely nothing at all Sherlockian to do with Big Game Sunday. We can't even really watch it "just for the commercials," because the beer and truck and corn chip vendors of the world really don't care about using Sherlock Holmes to sell their products. You can't even find "Bronco" or "Panther" in the Canon to dole out a quote or two, which is the absolute base level of Sherlockian connection. So, yeah, the Big Game whose real name is trademarked, so one avoids using it in print . . . .

But once upon a time, it was not thus. Once . . . in one Golden Age of Sherlockian Big Game almost-relevance . . . in that hazy, distance past of three years ago . . . the names "Sherlock Holmes" and "[Insert name of Big Game here]" were teamed up to bring an evening's entertainment to 20.8 million viewers. (At least that was the number that stuck around for the second "Sherlock" part. The first "game" part did considerably better.)

It was an episode of Elementary called "The Deductionist" back on February 3, 2013, and I did some of my most Sherlockian analysis of that particular episode. And the results were amazingly similar to what I found in the most current episode, so points for consistency, Elementary.

What hasn't been so consistent is the ratings Elementary has pulled in since then. Ostensibly, placing that single CBS show immediately after the Big Game was to boost its ratings and draw viewers' attention that, once gained, would cause them to stick around. After the peak Sunday night of 20.8 million, however, the show went back to its normal 10-point-something million in ratings for that season.

After a low point this season of 5.0 million viewers, CBS has decided to move Elementary to a Sunday night time slot every week starting March 20, where perhaps the ghost of its "Big Game" night past will give it a little more in the ratings numbers. What's it being replaced with on Thursday nights? A TV remake of the Jackie Chan/Chris Tucker movie franchise Rush Hour.  (No comment.)

In any case, here we are again, three years later on the night of the non-Sherlock-related Big Game, a night that will probably never get a good Holmes connection . . . and maybe that's okay.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

The return of Bob. Followed by random things.

Clyde the turtle. Angus the phrenology bust. Bob the dummy.

Inanimate and near-inamimate characters are an ongoing staple of Elementary. That's one way to get around the Screen Actor's Guild, I guess.

Bob the singlestick dummy is back this week. Joan Watson is getting all fiesty toward a woman who was once all fiesty with her, and apparently a part of her thinks punching is in order. I guess she graduated from hitting people on the top of their head with a stick this season.

And a lively policewoman visiting the morgue is singing about fighting a woman after her man. The morgue guy likes her, and why shouldn't he? She's livelier than 97.5% of the people on this show. She even infects the morgue guy with her energy. Which means she has to die. BOOM.

Dammit, Elementary, you just want me to hate you, don't you? That was the most likable victim ever. They should bring her twin sister on to a future episode.

Mr. Elementary goes off to work on the case, while Joan goes off to be testy at the woman she was punching the dummy about earlier. And no, "punching the dummy" is not a euphemism. But Joan has such shimmy-shammy character development sometimes, it might as well be.

Oh, drug cartels. Such a convenient scapegoat to chase around for a while before we get to the real plot. Filling an hour with mystery can be tough, can't it?

Joan's blouse in covered in leopards. "Catfight" symbolism?

And the ID of a corpse as "Janet of the Apes" brings us to a roller derby track . . . more woman-on-woman violence this episode. Seems to be a theme. But back to Joan and her nemesis.

"She's not an enemy. I don't have enemies. I'm not like you," Joan Watson snipes at Mr. Elementary, who responds by making up roller derby names for her.

"Joan of Bark." "Joan Cold Killier." "Swatson."

But now we're on to oxy-cotton drug-dealing. Boy, TV procedurals just swing from topic-vine to topic-vine like Tarzan of the Apes sometimes, don't they. ("Tarzan of the Apes" is not a roller derby name, in case any youngsters out there need a prod to Google it.)

The villain of the piece seems to be a living-with-the-parents young guy named Toby. Did he get that name from the dog that Holmes and Watson use in The Sign of the Four, or from random chance, or a Toby Maguire nod?

Ah, Joan's nemesis is all about vigilante justice. The main plot is wibbly-wobbly enough. This side-story just adds to the randomness stew this week.

Oh, please. This half-mentally-disabled genius stalker character is just too much cheese. Too much. And the fact that we had both the cheesey drug cartel guy and "creepy young guy" in the same episode betrays a certain desperation in scripting. Mr. Elementary should spend every other week making deductions about the creation of the previous week's episode. That might be fun. He could build one of those big wall collages connected with yarn that these shows like so much.

Being bullied for being gay figures into Joan Watson's side-plot all of a sudden . . . more random . . . but her nemesis has Joan's number.

"You're been doing this four years, right? And before that you were some kinda rehab expert, and before that, you were a doctor? Four years is nothing. You think you've seen things, but you haven't. Stay the course this time, Joan, stick this one out." Stick what out? The season?

Joan shoots "Race you to the bottom!" at her nemesis before turning for a dramatic stalk-away. What?

I wish my cat watched TV, as I think he would really like Elementary. Having random objects shaken in front of his face is one of his favorite things. I remember that film of Conan Doyle sitting with a dog while he talked about Sherlock Holmes . . . Doyle was a dog guy. And I think I'm kind of glad about that. A little focus is good sometimes.

Especially if you want to put some Sherlock Holmes in your "Sherlock Holmes."

Friday, February 5, 2016

Not all Canons are created equal.

I saw a reference to something involving Superman the other day that qualified something as "Canon" because it had occurred in a DC comics story at some point. And I laughed.

Superman first appeared in 1938, about eleven years after the last new Sherlock Holmes appearance in our Holmes Canon. Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, Superman's creators, worked on his comic book for about ten years, and then left it behind for other creators to take over. And in the ensuing nearly seventy years, a whole lot of writers and artists have worked over the character, changing his powers, his origin, his love life . . . you name it.

If you thought Dr. Watson had some inconsistencies . . . phew!

But that's because all of those Superman comics aren't his Canon. They're mostly pastiches of what Siegel and Shuster did in the 1930s and 1940s. Most of those pastiches are better than the originals, yes, but still pastiches. Copies. Professional fanfic.

This is where Sherlockians get to put on airs. There is a lot of talk about Canon in a lot of fandoms these days, but ours, in the original Holmes sense, comes in actual one-book form. It has a beginning and an end, and is not subject to corporate rewrites at any given moment. Superman, Star Wars, even BBC Sherlock could have a sudden decision by the powers-that-be to make the main character be turned into a cow by a magic fairy, t'were the wrong person to get into the wrong position at some point. Public domain, ironically, keeps Sherlock pretty stable, Canon-wise.

Was the word "Canon" used in a non-religious sense about a group of stories before the Sherlockians of the 1930s picked it up? I'd be interested to hear of such a thing. But getting us back to the religious origins of "Canon" gets us back to the real sense of the thing.

At the core of anything called "Canon" is that one person has defined that body of work as holy writ for their personal life choices. At least one actual person. The fact that we now have the term "head-canon" is kind of amusing, because it's all head-canon in a way Someone's head decided that something was their Canon.

But I do like "head-canon." Saying "my head-canon is this . . ." is a really nice, non-threatening way of saying, "I like to think of it this way" or "My opinion is this" without the listener fearing you're going to try to convert them. The subtle implications of "It's in my head and you probably have something different in yours" couldn't be more perfect.

Yet sometimes we do need a common point of reference for those things outside our head, and that's where "Canon" can get dicey, especially with corporate properties. Thank goodness that Sherlock Holmes got his dibs in early, and The Complete Sherlock Holmes by A. Conan Doyle got commonly accepted by all concerned before the modern era.

We may never see its like again.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Looking for inspiration in all the wrong places.

As we are now fully into the aftermath of Sherlock's "The Abominable Bride," which brought the Cumberbatch and Freeman incarnations of Sherlock and John to the Victorian era, the sheer meta whirlpool it invoked is like staring into Pandora's box as chaos swirls out.

We now have either a.) A Victorian Sherlock Holmes who occasionally dreams of a modern Sherlock Holmes, or b.) A mind palace Victorian universe existing solely in the mind of a modern Sherlock Holmes, or c.) Two parallel universes with Sherlocks sharing a psychic link, or d.) A TV show Sherlock Holmes whose writers can do any strange thing with him, or e.) A modern Sherlock who has fine-tuned combinations of drugs to work like wonderful cable TV package able to tune to any sort of personal AU programming, or f.) whatever else the hell you might imagine it to be.

It's almost like somebody just looked at fanfic's depth and breadth and went, "Let's just make anything possible within the Sherlock Canon since they're going there anyway."

But at the same time, the fanfic writing world didn't need any help letting their imaginations play out as many possible scenarios as anyone literally could imagine. An imaginary episode doesn't really add much grist to that mill. You've got to have solid ground to build on.

What "Abominable Bride" did dish out, as some have observed, is a mindscape of Sherlock's brain for analysis. Does this mean we'll see fans dividing up along Freudian, Jungian, and other psychiatric school lines during this hiatus? Heading into arcane realms of dream analysis to see what it all meant? Or worse, theorizing/experimenting about/with psychoactive drug cocktails to see which produces the best Victorian adventure? It's definitely a different set of puzzles from the "how did he not die?" days.

One almost wants to grab Moffet by the shoulders and shout, "Did you make a TV listing? For God's sake, is there a TV listing?"

My original thought, before all of this, was that I would ponder "Abominable Bride" for a while and consider what sort of adventures that Victorian Sherlock might have. But if you can teleport yourself to Reichenbach Falls and then fall-fly off of it, well Stoke Moran and doing lasso tricks with a swamp adder, Baskerville Hall and bucking-hound-riding, and herding pygmy cattle across the Thames . . . whoa there, pardner? Cowboy Sherlocking? Now you're going too far . . . unless Matt Smith . . . .

Oh, for pity's sake! That thing will ruin your brain! Just say no to thinking about "Aboominable Bride," kids. Because Toby the Victorian crime dog says so!

Too late.

Two years before.

This year, American's oldest Sherlock Holmes club celebrated twenty-five years of allowing women into its membership. If you're twenty-four years old, the Baker Street Irregulars admitting women might seem as historical as women getting the vote -- a part of all that pre-you righting of wrongs to get us to where we are today. 1991 is now a year that lives in American Sherlockian history.

In my personal Sherlockian history, however, 1989 will forever be the year that overshadows 1991. For all those cheers you might hear on recordings of Tom Stix admitting the first women to the group in 1991, those voices were not nearly as loud two years before. In fact, they were pretty much silent. And that is where my troubles started.

In 1989, I was returning for my second Baker Street Irregulars dinner, having first been invited to the event in 1987. As an American Sherlockian who cut his teeth reading the Baring-Gould Annotated, the possibility of getting made a member was a much-to-be-desired outcome in the big Sherlockian picture. But as a guy who had attended his first BSI dinner at age twenty-nine and found the whole single-gender thing a little repulsive in the modern world of 1987, I was having a very real conflict. My personal stand on equality of the sexes and the Sherlockian dream of getting a BSI shilling were definitely at odds.

Turning down membership might have been a viable option for a more mature Sherlockian with more experience in the Sherlockian community of that time, but as a young guy from remote Morton, Illinois, it didn't seem like the kind of thing where a second chance was in the cards, So I did something it didn't take long for me to be ashamed of. I went to NYC, smiled appropriately, and accepted membership in the BSI in 1989.

It might have ended there, but like I said, the men-only thing really bothered me. There were no blogs back then to vent such frustrations, but Sherlockian society newsletters existed, and I had a monthly column in our local one. And what did I write for the very next issue? Well, this sentence, among others:

"I find I am a member of a group that discriminates against women. It just doesn't sit well on my soul, regardless of any honor involved."

Think I might have phrased that better? A lot of people did. Instead of calling out the truly antiquated "no women allowed" policy and bringing that issue to the forefront, the resulting controversy was more about how a proper Irregular should have behaved. Even some of my friends were taking the stance of "He didn't mean to do it! Really, he's a good guy!" But if you look at most social justice situations, the first criticism of those who protest is always how they should just behave themselves and go along with the system, so I don't feel too badly about that phrasing. There was no way I could have appropriately expressed my true feelings about the situation and pleased everyone.

Men-only was the accepted status quo at that time, and screw you if you didn't like it, ya traitor.

Since we know that Tom Stix would allow women into the club a short two years later, it became pretty clear in hindsight why the wait until 1991. Julian Wolfe, the former head of the Irregulars who famously crumpled the protest statement of the young ladies who picketed for admittance in the sixties (and later formed the Adventuresses of Sherlock Holmes), was still alive and coming to the annual dinner until that time. But I didn't know all of that in 1989.

The fact that one man could stop progress that way shaped my entire view of the "benevolent dictator" aspect of Irregular management, no matter who that one man was. The fact that women not being invited or admitted not only wasn't an issue with the BSI, and that it apparently could get you told to "get the hell out" by ranking members who felt the organization itself was sacred above all other ideals . . . well, after that, this Sherlockian wasn't coming back to be present for that big surprise in 1991 when things did change. It was eight years after that before I cautiously wandered back for a visit. But things are better now, right? It's all good, right?

Well, if you weren't where I was in 1989. A person's emotion-linked memories are always going to be the strongest, and trust me, the things that piss you off about fandom now will most likely still get under your skin twenty-five years from now. You can be delighted at the changes along the way, but the parts that stay the same, as well as the original crap you had to deal with . . . well, you just have to take what satisfaction you can from the fact that its over, consider that the generations after yours have their own issues that are going to be just as troublesome to them, and wish them luck.

I'm going to close this little essay with a very rare photo -- a picture of two guys standing together who each didn't really know anything about the other at the time it was taken. One of us really wanted to see women included in the Baker Street Irregulars. The other seemed to think otherwise. And boy, was that a long time ago . . . thank goodness.

Brad Keefauver and Julian Wolfe