Sunday, July 31, 2016

Do only pretty Sherlock and Johns get to be gay?

Today's blog post brought to you by Summer Doldrums. Summer Doldrums, drying up activity by a certain point in the summer since late July.

With the recent bit of Johnlock controversy and a chance encounter with Robert Downey Jr.'s version of Sherlock Holmes, the thought occurred: "What if Guy Ritchie turned out to be the one who had a secret plan to turn Holmes and Watson into lovers?" Somehow, Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law suddenly seemed much more viable candidates. RDJ doing his awkward drag bit and Jude Law seeming just so uncomfortable-like-really-he's-hiding-something. And then I thought, "Well, if we're going into movie couples, then what about Rathbone and Bruce?"

Yeah, probably not a lot of fanfic porn involving Nigel Bruce, but you know that people do love a challenge, so there has to be some. Nigel Bruce's Watson seems like he barely understands how men and women make babies, so gay might be a little ambitious for him. (Him and that cookie jar, though, there is a love for the ages!)

But what of the others? Anybody ever rank movie Holmes-Watson pairs for level of possible romance?

Christopher Plummer and James Mason. If these guys are a pair, Mason-Watson would seem a candidate for taking Plummer-Holmes under his wing at an earlier age.

Nicol Williamson and Robert Duval. Now this is a complex and interesting pairing of a Holmes and a Watson, with Sigmund Freud on hand to help with any relationship work Watson needs and Samantha Eggar as a Mary Morstan Watson who might understand the whole situation.

Michael Caine and Ben Kingsley. There could be a lot of fun to be had here. These two could actually make a fun, out-of-the-closet Holmes and Watson movie even now.

Robert Stephens and Colin Blakely. As much as Holmes puts on that act for Madame Petrova, his Watson is far to much a homophobe ever to get his act together. He's the George Costanza of their universe, and even though he might have his orientation questioned by others, he's stuck solidly in the mud.

Christopher Lee and Patrick Macnee. Hanging around Morgan Fairchild, at this point, does not seem like a straight guy thing. They totally make a couple.

Ben Syder and Gareth David-Lloyd. Might as well be Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. 'Nuff said.

Edward Woodward and John Hillerman. Having a hard time picturing them being straight.

Jeremy Brett and Edward Hardwicke


Jeremy Brett and David Burke.

With Jeremy Brett, we even have room for a gay Watson and a straight Watson. (And, during some drug-fueled erotic dream, a Holmes/Watson three-way.) Who is whom? Which is what? My poor mind can't even get into this one.

Arthur Wontner and Ian Fleming? John Barrymore and Roland Young? William Gillette and Edward Fielding? Can there be that much subtext in black and white? Not my area of expertise. (Like any of this is.)

James D'Arcy and Roger Morlidge. D'Arcy's Holmes is one of the sluttier straight Holmeses, so much so that he could be a complete hedonist. He'd probably go for Watson, too. And speaking of which . . .

Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu. The creators of Elementary are so insistent that these two's love is forbidden that it practically makes them candidates for a gay relationship. (A little additional apparatus, and voila!) Miller's character is so strange about his relationship with women that men might work better, though Lestrade would just be too strange and Bell . . . well, something a little piquant about just the names in a Holmes/Bell relationship. But I'm sticking to the transgressive making-Holmes-and-Watson-gay-somehow for this one. (Like I say, a little additional apparatus, possible surgery, and . . .)

Summer doldrums. What are you going to do?

Friday, July 29, 2016

The Johnlock Conspiracy meets its Makers.

It was amazing to see the parallel this week between the events on the American national stage and those occurring within Sherlock fandom. The more enthusiastic fans of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders actually booed their main man for not behaving as they wanted as his candidacy came to a close. And when Stephen Moffat and Mark Gatiss came out and plainly stated that there was no planned endgame of a Holmes/Watson romance on Sherlock? Well, there was no joy in Mudville, as the old poem goes.

They didn't disagree with any of the fanfic writings. They didn't try to shut down anybody's playground. They simply stated their intentions about what they were doing with their particular work of art. Because, unlike Conan Doyle, they're still with us and can actually tell us what they intended or what they were thinking when they wrote this bit or that.

From as early as I can remember in grade school English classes, I remember being annoyed at those who thought they could state unequivocally what was going on in a creator's mind when that writer or artist put something together. Humans are very complex creatures, and we do things for some very odd reasons sometimes, despite what someone outside our brain might see as a pattern to our behavior and, thus, (dramatic music) our true agenda. I've even had it pulled on me by a particular reader or two of this blog.

So, while one has to sympathize with those who wanted that Holmes/Watson happy ending so badly and are apparently going to be denied, I can also empathize with the creators. You would like to think people are actually listening to you and hearing what you're saying, rather than immediately running it through a mental translator and creating what's basically an alternate universe version of you to suit themselves.

Our greatest challenge on this planet is working and playing with other people and letting them be who they are along the way. Sure, sometimes we wish they'd coddle us and hold back those disagreeable parts of their personas to make our lives happier. But we have to respect their right to be who they are, too. It's a constant give-and-take on both sides, and too often we let our emotions over-ride keeping that balancing act fair to all. I mean they're our feelings, right? People should be considerate. But on a grand stage as big as Sherlock plays upon, not everybody is going to get the ending they want.

I love Stephen Moffat and Mark Gatiss and all that they've done for Sherlock Holmes. I also love the great mass of fan extrapolation that has been done from that work. (And I also hate Elementary, just to show I'm definitely not all hearts and flowers.) So much great stuff out there these days, and I really hope nobody is getting too hurt in their efforts to have some fun with it all. But like any sport, there are always those who will play a little too hard in their enthusiasm and wind up with an injury or two.

I know, I know . . . yes, but . . . .

That. I understand.

Imagining Conan Doyle, suddenly transported to this modern era, where . . . well, one can't even quite imagine. And so, mind boggled by trying to wrap it around another wrinkle of the modern Sherlockian world, I think I'll call it a night.

Better days ahead for us all, I hope.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Finding inspiration and that part that comes after.

Live a Sherlockian life for long enough and you will inevitably get to a point where listening to others talk about your favorite subject at an event can be as dull as an algebra class taught by a teacher who's running out the clock until his retirement. The themes and facts repeated for the general public. The personal opinions that have been held and regurgitated since 1956. That certain speaker who just has no life in his delivery and a tone that would soothe a cholicky baby into slumber.

But if you're lucky . . . very, very lucky . . . that droning of Sherlockian facts and fancies is just enough to let your mind wander on the topic, plucking words and phrases like wildflowers in a prairie of browning grass.

I had one of those experiences recently, and drifted into a place where my mind started playing with the sixty jigsaw puzzle pieces that make up the original Canon of Sherlock Holmes. And a picture started to form that was something I kinda liked.

But it's always one thing to amuse yourself, and another thing to amuse somebody else.

If being a little bit bored by a presentation inspires one to bore some other people, that's paying it forward, karma, or something like that, but one always hopes to add a little something to the pot, raise the reward for playing a little bit more before the next player adds their chips.

And that's where the work comes in.

I remember my college years, writing classes, and all my fellow youngsters worried about somebody stealing their ideas, as if the idea alone was what produced a result. Eventually they probably learned, as I did, that an idea can be a wonderful thing . . . but it's the execution of that idea that makes it something great, or nothing at all.

That's where so many of us don't quite make it up the hill, myself included. Because it is a hill. A big one. Little blog snipplets like this one are nothing. A few little thoughts tossed together in a half hour. But occasionally, a thought comes along that needs a trip up that hill to bring it to fruition.

And here I am, sitting with another one of those, kinda wishing it was someone else with a little more energy. But who knows? This may be the hill that gets climbed.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Holy Book of Sherlock, third iteration.

Well, I seem to have forgotten to tell anyone yet again . . . .

This past Sunday, the Sherlock Peoria road show made a stop at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Bloomington-Normal, where I delivered my talk "The Holy Book of Sherlock Holmes" to a very receptive audience. Summer services at the Unitarian Universalist churches of Central Illinois make good use of lay speakers, and I've gotten a lot of public speaking practice at them . . . many times on topics other than Sherlock Holmes.

The U.U.s are very much beneficiaries of my training in the Sherlockian world, where delivering papers at scion society meetings and weekend workshops showed me that I could actually get comfortable at a podium or behind a microphone. (To be fair, that is also something many a karaoke audience may actually have a vendetta against Sherlockiana for as well.)

This Sunday's talk was not only well received, but had a pretty good amount of questions. Sherlock Holmes is in so many people's lives, maybe not as much as some of us, but still there. And they like to hear about him. It's always a good experience going out to talk about Sherlock Holmes, the sort of good time you forget how good it is until you get back into it.

So in the run up to a typical Sherlock talk to an audience of primarily non-Sherlockians, I tend to forget to mention it to Sherlockian friends. They pretty much know everything I'm going to say, so I tend to forget that some of them might like to hear it anyway. My apologies to anyone who might have liked to come and missed out.

Now, on to the next thing . . .

Sunday, July 24, 2016

And the Cumberbatch rises like the sun over Comicon.

Would Basil Rathbone have magically visited the Hall H line at Comicon during the night?

Would William Gillette have sat on a panel with Arthur Conan Doyle and John Kendrick Bangs to discuss where Holmes would pop up next in 1899?

We can't really say how the icons of Sherlock past might have behaved in our modern media world. All we have is what we have, and in the center of so much of it is that this week was about that Sherlock at the center of our six year resurgence of Sherlocklemania, Benedict Cumberbatch.

Hard not to be a fan of the guy at this point, and if you're still not (and I know many out there aren't), well I  applaud your staunch resolution, ability to remain fixed in time, or peculiar taste in Sherlocks, whatever the case may be. You are the rare Pokemon that someone will want to throw a Pokeball at one day. 

(Oops . . . if you're tired of hearing about Benedict Cumberbatch, you're probably really tired of hearing about Pokemon. My 'pologies.)

But with a big Marvel Comics movie and what might be the ultimate season of Sherlock both tickling fancies at this year's San Diego Comicon, Benedict Cumberbatch is more in the catbird seat than ever before this summer. And it seems to suit him well.

As a Sherlock Holmes fan, there is a time to resist the tides of fad and fancy, and a time to just let the wonder of it all wash over you . . . and I'm pretty sure this is a season of the latter. Those who, six years ago, were seen by some judgmental sorts as less than serious Sherlockians due to their excitement over the actor have proven themselves over and over again, just as their favorite Sherlock actor has in his own career.

Has it only been six years? As the saying goes, "Thanks, Obama!"

(Hey, the guy gets blamed for everything, might as well give him credit for everything, too.)

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Nothing lasts forever . . . but could it please last as long as us?

This week, Chris Redmond announced that he will no longer be maintaining after the end of this year. We are all in hopes that someone else will take over the care and maintenance of this reliable reference-point of the Sherlockian web, because for many of us, it is a regular stop. Need to know the next story in publication order? Zip over to Wondering if Cincinnati ever had a scion society of the Baker Street Irregulars? Over to to get the link to the societies list.

Google has taken the place of link lists for almost all net navigation these days, but when you really wanted to go directly to exactly what you need to know, an authoritative site like is irreplacable. And Sherlockians are definitely people who like exact knowledge.

I remember the days when I was publishing The Holmes & Watson Report on paper and trying to convince writers to move over to the web with me for the original incarnation of, a major concern was the ephemeral nature of the web . . . that websites can go away if someone stops paying the server storage bills. Never mind that paper is hardly a medium that will last an eternity, print was what we were comfortable with and a couple hundred years sure seemed like eternity.

Now, as so many internet contributors use third party platforms like Tumblr or Blogger, where the continued success of a company like Google seems more long-term than one's ability to pay server storage fees, a new generation of Sherlockian writers has a very different attitude toward committing their works to the web, at least for the first stage of its existence. Styles of working cross-platform both on output and intake vary wildly from individual to individual, so it's impossible to make absolute statements about the best way to do anything . . . who knows what will come next?

But we will always grow to depend upon what currently exists, and when something has existed for as long as, it's going to have a lot of folks considering it a standard tool in their online toolbox. There are good indications that it will go on without its current curator's support, and I hope those indications are followed by a sustained existence for the site.

Because even though nothing lasts forever, we always have a somewhat selfish wish that such things like will at least last as long as we do . . . so we don't have to realize what life without it feels like.

All congratulations to Chris for pioneering out on the Sherlockian web frontier and helping us all settle into it as the decades rolled by. And all best wishes on having many, many more years of existence, long past those of even this little endeavor.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Villagers of Trumpington assemble!

I don't know if the Sherlock Holmes society of Cleveland, Mrs. Hudson's Lodgers, is still meeting on a regular basis, but if they are, this week offers a singular opportunity. They, along with any other Sherlockians who happen to be in that notable city this week, are missing a bet if they don't form a scion-society-of-the-moment called "the Villagers of Trumpington."

With the Republican national convention in Cleveland to celebrate what is possibly the most Sherlockian presidential ticket in history, why not?

Donald Trump, whose name invokes not only the village of Trumpington from "Missing Three-Quarter" and the "trumpery pendants" of "Lady Frances Carfax," but Inspector MacDonald of The Valley of Fear, is the Republican presidential hopeful.  And his vice-presidential partner? Mike, as in "Mike Scanlan," also of The Valley of Fear, and Pence, as in "a few pence," "twopence," "sixpence," etc., all over the Canon.

Heck, their combined ticket is "Trump-Pence," which sounds like an amount of pocket change a street urchin might save up after their regime takes office . . . because as Donald Trump might say, "I know street urchins, and we're going to make American street urchins competitive with every other country in the world, in any era. Thousands of street urchins on every block!"

And consider this: Enoch J. Drebber of Cleveland, Ohio was the first corpse that Sherlock Holmes ever took Watson on a case to see. And what is Donald Trump's middle initial? "J." just like Enoch J. Drebber! Coincidence? (We'll leave Drebber's "vacant sightless eyes" out of this.)

The first activity of the new temporary Sherlock club called the Villagers of Trumpington can be to find an empty three story house and lay on the floor with a red wax candle, which is about as exciting as watching a political convention.

But I do have a tip, if your cable has on-demand and you quickly find you want to watch something else on TV a little more uplifting -- you can do what I did tonight and watch last week's season-start episode of Penn & Teller: Fool Us that was on CW last Wednesday. The first trick of the episode actually involves reading Sherlock Holmes stories, so if you ever wanted to see actress Alyson Hannigan paging through the Canon . . . and who wouldn't, really . . . it's worth a watch. (You might even find it worth sticking it out to the end for the trick performed in your own home.)

Anyway, I'll be very surprised if "the Villagers of Trumpington" ever becomes an actual Sherlock Holmes club. At least I'm hoping it doesn't . . .

Sunday, July 17, 2016

That late addition to the Holmes mythos, still to come.

We all know about those things Doyle didn't necessarily write that Sherlock Holmes nonetheless picked up as a part of his mythos over the years. Yet for all the lines, the clothing, the pipe styles, there is one thing that has never really stuck . . . an ongoing character.

Watson, Lestrade, Moriarty, Adler, etc., etc. "The world is big enough for us" apparently is the motto of the Sherlockian mythos. Many another character has appeared alongside Holmes and Watson over the last century, yet none has joined their legend for return visits in latter incarnations. Cameos, homages, maybe, but not as a full-fledged member of the rogue's gallery or Scooby gang.

This thought occurred to me as I considered Ms. Harleen Quinzel, whose first appearance was not all that long ago, yet is now one of the most iconic villains of the Batman universe. Sherlock's been around a lot longer than Batman . . . but then Batman has been the product of many hands for years. His story has been told many times, by many voices.

And while Sherlock Holmes has had his latter storytellers, I think the Victorian era held him back. When Moffat and Gatiss proved so decisively that he could work as a current-day detective, combined with public domain status and the rise of the AU, a Pandora's box of Sherlock possibilities was set loose upon the world. We've seen some seemingly very popular, very powerful additions to the Sherlock Holmes myth in newer interpretations . . . yet we still haven't seen the breakthrough new character who will be seen as just a part of the Sherlock Holmes story a hundred years from now.

Could a Molly Hooper or a Detective Bell make the cut? Are they significant enough to return again in a second incarnation, should all rights be allowed for said return?

Redbeard the dog and Clyde the turtle stand a better chance in my mind, as Sherlock Holmes never had a pet before. But are they really characters?

What sort of friend, lover, or villain would fill a void in the existing Canon? Is there such a void? Does Holmes need a tech guy or gal in the modern day? That additional brother who is so mysterious that he dates Taylor Swift? A villain who better matches him than Moriarty? A lover that actually spends time with him, unlike Irene? (I know, I know . . . if the Mary Russell fans' battle cry was "After 1914, Sherlock Holmes is ours!" we now live in a world where the cry of "After 2010, Sherlock Holmes is John's!" has out-shouted it.)

Basically, somebody out there has to tell us a really good Sherlock Holmes story, one that resonates so perfectly due to a particular new character playing opposite Holmes that we can't let go of that person. Public demand can break down all sorts of barriers should a character come along that we all want to see bad enough in retellings of Holmes's tales thirty, fifty, or a hundred years from now.

I'll be eagerly waiting if that day ever does come, as that character will surely tell us something about Sherlock we never quite realized before that makes perfect sense, as good stories do.

A cat. That's it. Sherlock needs a cat . . . .

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Should a Sherlockian play Pokemon GO? Hells yes!

"We are faddy people, you know -- faddy but kind-hearted."
-- Jephro Rucastle, "The Adventure of the Copper Beeches"

Today, I am going to attempt an old-fashioned, Evel-Knievel-style  motorcycle jump, and ride this blog at top speed up the ramp and over the great Gulf of Curmudgeonliness. Regular readers are no doubt used to my leaps of logic, my daredevil zooms into arenas where no sensible Sherlockian might go, and generally Holmes-based MTV's Jackass stunts of the electronic page, so this should come as no shock.

For today, ladies and gentlemen, on this very Sherlock Peoria stage, I am going to attempt to convince you that playing Pokemon GO is an actual Sherlock-Holmes-ish activity. Having spent the last evening in pursuit of said imaginary creatures across the real Peoria itself, I feel quite qualified to make the argument this morning.

First, and here is where my showman's ego really comes out, let me refer you to a marvelous old book recommended by the Sage of Sante Fe in his final list of one hundred books in a solid Sherlock collection . . . that book, The Elementary Methods of Sherlock Holmes by one Brad Keefauver. It's slightly hard to find, so I'll do some heavy quoting.

In Chapter 13 of Elementary Methods, entitled "The Sherlock Holmes Aerobic Workout," the oh-so-agreeable author presents the puzzle of Holmes keeping himself in condition and eliminates the detective's college activities, calisthentics, and weight-lifting as ongoing sources of that fitness. Keefauver then look to that Watsonian observation that Holmes "seldom bestirred himself save where there was some professional object to be served." And another quote from Holmes himself:

"It is a hobby of mine to have an exact knowledge of London."

And how did Holmes learn of London so exactly?  Walking. As Keefauver writes:

"A long walk through London was not just exercise. It was a business necessity. Just as the study of a map would help him prepare for a case in the country, a long walk through the city gained him readiness for cases that would take place nearer his home . . . .

"And the data-gathering walks through London had another benefit as well. They kept Holmes in condition. A well-paced walk has been found to be as healthful as more strenuous activities, and whether or not Holmes knew that, he seemed to take full advantage of it."

And what are Pokemon GO players doing out there? Learning about their cities as they track down Pokestops with GPS locations of significance. Last night I learned of about six pieces of Peoria that I had previously not observed . . . monuments, memorials, art . . . all while taking in some very Holmesian exercise on a pleasant evening.

"But, wait!" the beautiful Negativa Dreamkiller points out, "People are walking into traffic, off cliffs, and getting robbed out there, playing your stupid, stupid game!"

Can you think of any training MORE Sherlockian than increasing your powers of observation through hard knocks experience? Learning how to avoid falling off cliffs -- a skill Holmes was a master at -- and carrying your single-stick to fend off street-crime? There will always be Darwin award winners in every endeavor of life, but aren't you a Sherlock Holmes fan? You should already be well equipped to deal with a little thing like Pokemon GO.

And tracking down Tonga or the hound of the Baskervilles isn't a bit like stalking a Machop or a Growlithe? And Pokeballs are far more effective than an Eley's #2 and it's .22 caliber bullet (I've fired one, trust me.)

So, if you deign to go down the Pokemon GO rabbit hole for some adventures this weekend, don't worry about losing your Sherlockian street cred. It's as Holmesy as Holmesy can be.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Emmy nominations? Again?

At this point, it's almost geting silly:

The six Emmy nominations for Sherlock's "The Abominable Bride:"

Lead actor in a limited series: Benedict Cumberbatch
TV movie
Outstanding Cinematography For A Limited Series or Movie
Outstanding Sound Editing For A Limited Series, Movie Or Special
Outstanding Sound Mixing For A Limited Series Or Movie
Outstanding Special Visual Effects in a Support Role

But, hey, it's still nice to see a Sherlock Holmes project getting some love. He and DCI John Luther definitely give British detective TV a reason to be a little proud next to their American cousins. True Detective may have movie stars and "detective" in the title, but not the iconic lead character of those two.

I did dutifully check for Elementary's nominations this year as well:


Not that the two are in competition or anything.

With Stephen Moffat admitting how hard it could be to get two successful film actors back to do a TV series, or little sets of three movies, which Sherlock episodes really are, one wonders if before they're truly done, Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman don't take the characters into Oscar territory . . . and that awards ballpark might just be a little too big for Sherlock's genre, budget, and general "not being all serious and Oscar-y."

But who knows? These days, it seems like anything can happen. Even more Emmys.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Love all ghost-busting, from 1889 until now.

Tonight was a night to celebrate ghost-busting here in Sherlock Peoria.

There's nothing better than seeing knowledge triumph over fear, whether it be Sherlock Holmes exposing a demon as a painted domestic animal or Scooby and the gang pulling the rubber mask off old man Whomever . . . or, yes, even wacky, cartoonish scientists blasting paranormal entities with rayguns. Just because the ghosts in the latter seem to be more real than those in the first two examples doesn't mean that our very real science can't ramp up to deal with them.

"The world is big enough for us. No ghosts need apply," Sherlock Holmes aptly put it back in a November of the Victorian age.  But if the world got bigger, as it often seems to, and ghosts became a part of it, we would, as a species, most spectacularly verb-science the crap out of them.

It's what Sherlock Holmes did. It's what we do. Mysteries only stand when we purposefully let them stand. If those silly ghost hunter shows ever found a demonstrable, repeatable spirit from beyond the grave, their talentless meandering stars would be instantly replaced with our finest minds, champing at their techno-bits and ready to tear into the phenomenon until no mystery remained.

And on we would go.

There will always be mysteries. Always something just beyond our grasp.

But our spirit will always keep us reaching for that something, our minds trying to work out what exactly it is before our hands even get there.

That's why I love Sherlock Holmes, and it's why I love a good (albeit silly . . . I mean, ghosts . . . c'mon . . .) Ghostbuster movie.

And tonight, I got one. Nice.

Dating Sherlock: The Full Impact of Mary and Irene.

We men are such precise idiots. Especially male Sherlockian chronologists, myself included. So effing wrong.

So, let's talk The Sign of the Four.

Mary Morstan, a woman even Sherlock Holmes admires for her "decided genius" spells the timeframe of the story out for us:

"I received this letter this morning . . ." ("Post-mark London, S.W. Date, July 7" -- this part read by Sherlock Holmes himself.)

"About six years ago -- to be exact, upon the fourth of May, 1882 . . ."

"He disappeared upon the third of December, 1878 -- nearly ten years ago."

And yet, all it takes is one descriptive word from Watson alluding to a foggy night as "a September evening," and a goodly two-thirds of all the men trying to put a date to this case doubt Ms. Morstan and propose September alternatives. Bringing in the weather, grouse, and all sorts of other excuses to nullify a woman's clear statement of fact.

Ironically, this Sherlockian chronological patriarchy does believe Mary enough to keep the case in 1888, at which point, 75% of them start making a fool of Watson just to satisfy their biases when it comes to the next story, "A Scandal in Bohemia," which, Watson states with equal plainness, occurred March 20, 1888.

Why? Because Watson's monogamous marriage to Mary Morstan is apparently more sacrosanct than the woman herself.

"My marriage had drifted us away from each other," Watson writes of he and Holmes in that March of 1888 period. Watson doesn't mention that wife being Mary Morstan, but he has servants, country walks, and is apparently living well despite not having fully recovered from his war years yet -- side effects, one would suspect of this pre-Morstan bride. But how could he be married in March of 1888 for "Scandal" and a depressed, worthless-feeling bachelor in July of that same year for "Sign?"

Sherlock Holmes, of course.

What happened in March of 1888?

Sherlock Holmes met and was beaten by Irene Adler.

"There was but one woman to him," Watson wrote of her. And in March of 1888, Holmes not only was bested by her, but saw that woman marry a lesser man and leave the country.

John Watson wasn't called to Baker Street for a case in "A Scandal in Bohemia." He stops there to check on Holmes, whom he seems certain has been doing a lot of cocaine lately and spending much time in "drug-created dreams." He is delighted to find Sherlock with a case.

Enter Irene Adler, Holmes gets beaten, she's gone to America . . . and what do we find Watson writing about the after-effects of Holmes losing "the one woman for him" a few months later?

"Three times a day for many months, I had witnessed this performance . . ." Said performance being Holmes injecting himself with either cocaine or morphine -- the latter numbing agent an addition since the drug comments of "A Scandal in Bohemia." Holmes has done nothing but drugs since Irene Adler's departure and Watson has been with him the whole time until the start of The Sign of the Four. 

When one allows the dates of "A Scandal in Bohemia" and The Sign of the Four to line up as they truly are and not be biassed by keeping Watson true to one wife or the publication order, one sees a story unfolding of Watson's love for Sherlock Holmes and his care over the self-destructive drug habits destroying an earlier marriage.

Looking back on those events with an open mind makes one realize just how bound the fanboys of earlier generation were by certain prejudices . . . prejudices enshrined by many a latter member of that same male-dominated Sherlockian culture, rather than being questioned.

But the times, they are a'changing. And the dates of Holmes and Watson as well.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

I think I get it now . . . .

I had an epiphany this week about Sherlock shipping. It only took a few 221B Cons, a whole bunch of podcasts, and a lot of idle pondering of all the data, but I think . . . and I say this with all possible lack of authority . . . I understand it now.

It just makes perfect sense. Really.

And I was going to write about it here. I mean, that's what blogging is, right? Keeping a sort of public journal as the thoughts and experiences as they come along. But every now and then, you get a thought that's just too charming to put it out in the ol' blog shop window. This is one you save for the special customers that have just the right sensibilities. The ones you allow into the back room where you keep the good stuff.

What makes my little shipping epiphany so rare and special to me? Because I wasn't supposed to get it . . . the whole point of what I finally understood was that I shouldn't understand it. And I can't understand it. Not at all. But I do.

Hee hee hee hee.

That's not madness, as much as that sure seems like it. It's the comfortable giggle that comes with seeing the big picture and going, "That's just fine." Not that I get to pass judgment on entire art forms.  No, no, no. One just likes to be comfortable existing in the same world as said art form, see its place in the universe, why one shouldn't play in that park . . . at least if you're me. Or someone like me.

But it's all good, as the colloquialism goes.

And something I look forward to actually discussing with actual humans sometime, rather than just pouring my thoughts into a keyboard without any consultation with my betters. Which we all are to each other at some point.

But I hate to end this post without giving your some sort of epiphany-type thought for putting up with what surely comes off as a tease that could potentially have nothing but hot air behind it.

So here you go . . . what if Elementary is just Moonlighting with the romance and comedy removed? David Addison's ne'er-do-well brother Richard comes to town and starts romancing his partner (and apprentice of sorts) in the detective business? Only the brother has criminal issues . . . .

Sound like anything we've seen in the last few years?

Monday, July 11, 2016

An overlay upon reality.

The world got weird today.

In four days . . . four days . . . literally . . . LITERALLY . . . hundreds of millions of people all over the world started seeing imaginary characters in their daily life.

And interacting with them.

Generations of marketing combining with a breakthrough killer app, and something new took place. I mean, it's not every day that you're sitting at your desk in a place of business when someone walks up and informs you there is one of those imaginary creatures sitting on the floor three feet away from you. But it's okay, they're going to catch it.

Remember when the idea of pretending Sherlock Holmes was a historical figure was just too silly for some Sherlockians?

That catches me a lot these days. Being a Sherlockian used to mean, perhaps, considering yourself a little more odd than the average Joe or Josephine. Head in the foggy clouds filling Baker Street, all that. I mean, Sherlock Holmes, right?

Out there, living to a ripe old age. And our fellow Sherlockians, wandering up and down Baker Street, trying to spot which house he lived in, even though the address was a little bit impossible. Trying to find Baskerville Hall, Saxe-Coburg Square, and all those other places where Holmes once trod.

And all that without a cell phone to point the way or show you Dr. Watson standing invisibly nearby.

The world got a little weird today. It also seems just a little bit lazier in its weirdness than us old school weirdos.

These kids today . . . tsk.

(Aaaaaa, who am I kidding? It just got too popular before I had a chance to jump on the bandwagon.)

Going to work on Monday.

And now, let's go back to 1981 and an imaginary Sherlockian Sheena Easton as she sings, "My Sherlock takes the morning train, he works with Watson now and then . . ."

Why is that crazy tune going through my head?

At the thought of Sherlock Holmes going to work on a Monday morning, riding the train to Camford to talk for a look at Professor Presbury.

Of course, on many a Monday, Holmes got to work from home. The clients came to him. Or sent notes. Sometimes he even started a case by reading newspapers in his dressing-gown. But that was on the easy days . . . .

As an entrepreneur in a start-up profession of his very own, Sherlock Holmes worked a lot of nights and weekends. Sometimes he worked for so many days in a row that the concept of "Monday" didn't really matter so much.

On the biggest Monday morning of his career, ironically, Sherlock Holmes didn't even show up for work. He just sent a telegram to Scotland Yard to deal with Moriarty's criminal empire (and even arrest Moriarty himself) and went off to wander France's wine country. Of course, Scotland Yard kind of bungled that last bit, and Moriarty escaped, so perhaps the wine country tour wasn't his best move.

But by September 7, 1903, late in his career, he was taking that morning train to Camford, off to do his job and looking forward to retirement, so maybe he learned his lesson.

Happy Monday, folks. If you decide to take off and wander the wine country today, at least you've got a role model to blame.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

The 80 Million Dollar Man.

A little article about the ongoing business behind CBS's Elementary revealed an interesting tidbit today: CBS's "Sherlock Holmes" has made approximately $80 million in profits for its corporate masters.

That figure . . . let me write it out in full, $80,000,000.00 . . . not only means the show made more than Conan Doyle did from Sherlock Holmes in his lifetime (After adjustments for inflation, though? Who knows?), it also possibly makes it the most profitable pastiche of all time.

While it's impossible to calculate all the profit that Conan Doyle's Holmes and the Original Canon has made for various publishers over the years, a figure that surely dwarfs that 80 mill, 80 million dollars profit is most certainly a monumental achievement. And we're not even talking major TV hit here. Not Game of Thrones, Walking Dead, or even the top CBS show -- Big Bang Theory and NCIS are the big performers over there. Can you imagine the sort of money Elementary would have made if it had actually been an indisputably great show? Or if CBS had successfully transitioned Sherlock to America, as they first hoped? And gave the show a bigger production budget? (Yes, less profit from bigger budget, but, oh, how weary one gets of those dull urban settings . . .)

But the rebuilt character Jonny Lee Miller fleshed out as an NYC version of Sherlock Holmes has at least one more season to go, despite the steady decline in ratings since the first season. So by the time he's done, syndication money and all, Mr. Elementary might even be a $100 Million Dollar Man.

Steve Austin, eat your heart out.

We live in strange times, my friends. A reality show blowhard is America's best-TV-ratings political candidate and a New York City heroin addict is America's Sherlock Holmes. And they're both making a ton of money, just being who they are.

And it fanfic writers sometimes think that they're the ones making Conan Doyle spin so fast in his grave these days, they might want to step back and consider the $80 Million Dollar Man and the RPMs that his situation is adding to Doyle's posthumous ire.

Because $80 mill is some real money.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

WTF? The first word in that has to be "Wisteria." Or maybe "Watson."


John H. Watson produces two stories. "Wisteria Lodge" prior to August, and "Bruce-Partington Plans" prior to December. He has put out nothing since 1904, and he will put out nothing more until 1910. His prior output usually comes in waves of a dozen or more tales. But in 1908, he just comes out with two.

Then one in 1910, two in 1911, and one each in 1913 and 1917, before dumping another dozen on the reading public in the 1920s. The years 1914 to 1918 were encompassed by World War 1, which seems to explain the post-1913 timing. But before that?

1908 is a puzzler, because it's when, after four years, Watson decides to publish "Wisteria Lodge," one of the more deeply flawed tales of the Canon, as its very first sentence is an obvious lie. Or revealing of even bigger lies.

"I find it recorded in my notebook that it was a bleak and winder day towards the end of March in the year 1892."

Any halfway-bright Sherlockian will quickly recognize that March of 1892 was a time when Sherlock Holmes was still thought dead by everyone in the world except his brother Mycroft. Off Reichenbach Falls in May of 1891 and back on Baker Street in spring of 1894. To think that Watson would just casually make such a mistake about such a very serious gap in his friendship with Holmes -- and then claim it was recorded in his notebook -- is mind-boggling.

In previous conjectures, I have supposed that "Wisteria Lodge" did take place in 1892 and that a delirious Watson was imagining Holmes as Watson himself was called upon by John Scott Eccles to solve a mystery. But this morning, I started to wonder . . . was Watson's problem actually in 1892 or 1908?

Where was Watson in 1908? We know Sherlock Holmes is in his Sussex villa with the bees. We know Doyle, Watson's agent, was happily enjoying a new bride and soon to produce a new son. But Watson?

"At this period of my life the good Watson had passed almost beyond my ken," Holmes himself wrote in "Lion's Mane." "An occasional week-end visit was the most I ever saw of him."

One might deduce from the fact that Watson only visits his retired friend on weekends, that Watson is working still. Holmes is living well in retirement. Doyle is doing fine. Yet Watson seems to be stuck in a Monday-Friday job at this point in his life, despite the success of his writings and bit of celebrity.

And why would he be in such straits?

A gambling addiction? The demands of a too-free-spending spouse?  Does whatever the reason also coincide with his near barren writing period between 1904 and 1910.

The clues within "Wisteria Lodge" make it seem almost like a pastiche -- that hideous date, the fact that Holmes complains of being bored since they "locked up Colonel Carruthers" (a weird amalgam of Colonel Moran and Bob Carruthers of two other cases). Was the Mrs. Watson of that time so demanding that when her exhausted husband couldn't produce an additional story for added income, she wrote her own, then badgered him into the much better "Bruce-Partington Plans" later that year?

Among the Sherlock Holmes stories, "Wisteria Lodge" will always be one of the weirder ones, with a backstory that is surely stranger still. Further analysis is going to be needed, I think.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

John, the guy that spoils the Johnlock conspiracy for me.

Ah, conspiracy theories. Faked moon landings. Clinton murder sprees. Ancient aliens.

And Johnlock.

Whether or not that last one actually exists might be a moot point . . . since it involves a creation that's not finished in its birthing process, the Johnlock conspiracy itself could actually influence it's own endgame (a Holmes-Watson romance being the goal of BBC's Sherlock). It's a massively built-up theory. Were Sherlock a completed Canon, as the ACD one is, one can compile evidence all day long and it would remains a theory. But with all that's been built around it, and with the show's creators being aware of that building, and the devotion of some fans being at a level where what the actual show does not really matters . . . .

Well, Johnlock does exist.

But is it Canon or Alternate Universe at this point?

Admittedly, I have certain biases, and one of those is against physical violence. Which is why this topic came up again this morning, as I considered Sherlock's particular take on the post-hiatus reunion of John Watson with the no-longer-dead Sherlock Holmes, compared with that of the ACD Canon.

With ACD Canon, Watson grabs Holmes's arm just to feel the physicality of his friend, consciously aware of  the "sinewy arm" beneath the shirt. Watson covers this touch with the impression he truly was making sure Holmes was not a ghost. But there is still a warmth to it. A love, even if that of just pure male camaraderie.

But in the Canon of Sherlock? 

Anger. Rage. Joy never crosses Watson's face. And on it comically goes.

Now, one might posit that Watson's rage comes from love and all the grieving he went through. But in my experience, that's not how love works. Love's initial reaction to such a reunion is Lestrade's. Or ACD Watson's. Grabbing that long-missing piece of one's heart to make sure it doesn't disappear. Anger comes later.

John Watson's rage in "The Empty Hearse" is that of a frustrated friend who saw his troubled partner commit suicide at the end of a campaign of ruination, the fallout of which affected Watson's everyday life, as the chronicler and made a lie of his life to the general public. Watson's rage is that of a business partner who has watched a rising enterprise crumble only to find that the associate whose amazing skills it was all built around seems to have been off on a lark after a practical joke.

It's that moment that says more to me about John's relationship with Sherlock than all the Mary Morstan weddings in the world. To have someone you really loved back from the dead? That's a moment of joy, not fury.

Sherlock was after all, a very irritating friend with worthwhile and admirable qualities that made him worth the freight. In a meet-cute romantic comedy, the two protagonists can fight like cats and dogs for two hours straight, then realize their one true love in a climactic moment . . . which works great in the "happily ever after" end of a movie. In any kind of sequel, they'd be divorced in a year after realizing all the fighting was their status quo. But, hey, Sherlock is a series of TV movies, so who knows how the last one might go?

Sherlock and John could, according to whatever the showrunners of that time decide, finish their last episode in bed. By the time the careers of Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are finally winding down, Moffat and Gatiss could have been replaced by some very career oriented Johnlockers. But until then . . . ?

That moment of rage in "The Empty Hearse" outweighs all the minute production details one might interpret as support for a Johnlock conspiracy, for me at least. Sherlock and John might be together in a few million alternate universes, but in the one I'm watching . . . I just can't see it.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Born under the sign of Sherlock.

Why did we choose Sherlock Holmes?

Why not Captain Kirk or Bella Swan? Scarlet O'Hara or Batman?

We see a lot of appreciations of the great detective, read stories of how a particular Sherlockian came to love Sherlock Holmes and his friend John Watson, and generally take in a lot of info on individual Sherlockians. It's usually a very specific bit of data, Sherlock-centered, of course, and a good many of us have other fandoms in our backgrounds as well . . . though none may quite match our enthusiasm for Holmes.

Yet there are somethings we must have in common, those of us drawn to Sherlock Holmes. Some character traits that are definitely lacking in the non-Holmes fan. And you could probably say the same of Kirk fans, Swan fans, O'Hara fans, Batman fans, etc., etc.

It occurs to me that looking at someone's fandom(s) could even be a lot more revealing that that ancient twelve-part categoric system called we call the Zodiac. Everyone in your birth month seem anything similar to you? No? How about everyone you know standing beneath the banner of Sherlock Holmes? Closer?

And what if we fine tuned it ever further . . . .

What do we know of a Sherlockian on the cusp of Harry Potter . . . something more than a Libra on the cusp of Mario.

A fandomish "Zodiac" could not only delineate your character traits -- it could even probably do a better job of predicting your future. Born under the sign of Spiderman? The Wednesday fan-o-scope will probably read "Your path will take you past a comic book store today."

Of course, under Sherlockians, perhaps we could form our own literary Zodiac and find our character signs based upon your birth month matched against pushing dates in The Strand. Let's do a quick ramble through the Canon and pick the strongest for each month and see how that works?

Born in . . .

. . . January -- You are a bicycling Violet Smith.
. . . February -- You are an angry Grimesby Roylott.
. . . March -- You are a wounded Victor Hatherly.
. . . April -- You are a manipulating Charles Augustus Milverton.
. . . May -- You are someone only friend Victor Trevor.
. . . June -- You are the sisterly Violet Hunter.
. . . July -- You are the adventurous Irene Adler.
. . . August -- You are the comical Jabez Wilson.
. . . September -- You are the secretive Altamont.
. . . October -- You are the predatory Sebastian Moran.
. . . November -- You are the doomed John Openshaw.
. . . December -- You are the spider Professor Moriarty.

Well, that didn't work out very well . . . so many of the strongest characters are pretty evil. And that whole "birth month" business always did seem a little shady. Let's go back to the idea of a fannish system. That way we can all just be born under the sign of Sherlock.

Because those poor November people . . . well, they could have had false leprosy, too.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Getting into Sherlock's head versus making him a new one.

Forgive me if this one is a little less coherent than most . . . it's very early in the morning after a night of restless sleep due to holiday overindulgence. I did have a dream about playing board games with Benedict Cumberbatch in a local Main Street bar, however, so it wasn't all bad.

But I was thinking the other day about the vast numbers of folk writing pastiches, fan fiction, or whatever one wants to call a given new Sherlock Holmes story, and here is what impressed me about that legion: Never before have so many people been trying to figure out just how Sherlock Holmes's mind works.

Because as characters go, Sherlock Holmes is not an easy fellow to deal with. He has a pretty complex internal life. And especially in fan fiction, that black market of forbidden plotlines, a writer has to spend some mental energies figuring out how he will react in whatever brand new situation he is to be put into. And especially in the AU genre, where Sherlock could be anything from a Wal-mart greeter to a new species of lizard. How does the character of Sherlock Holmes translate to the life of a lizard? That takes a little thought.

While story-telling does not have the pure scientific-ish discipline of a more scholarly study, it does open up all the theoretical channels. And there is where one realizes that by creating such works about Sherlock Holmes, one is even being like Sherlock Holmes.

"Logical synthesis," Holmes called his particular speciality in "Copper Beeches," and it was all about seeing the possibilities in a given situation with a particular set of characters. When Holmes was on a case, he was basically handed a number of personalities and then asked to come up with the story about those characters that fit all of the facts. So many statements he makes could be applied to the writing of fiction involving known characters, as fan fictions do.

"It is remarkable, only for the fact that amid a perfect jungle of possibilities we, with our worthy collaborator the inspector, have kept our close hold on the essentials and so been guided along the crooked and winding path," he remarks in "Wisteria Lodge." What are the essentials that make a character a true Sherlock Holmes in a situation he never was in before? That's the puzzle a writer faces every time they sit down to deal with Sherlock Holmes.

There are good writers, who work that puzzle as best they can. There are bad writers, who force their own mindset upon Holmes and just decorate it with a dressing gown and a Watson. For that's the choice a writer has to make when putting Sherlock Holmes through his motions, be they detective or romantic. The ones that gain the most from writing about Holmes have to be the former, though there probably is a certain psychological value to working through one's own issues on a Sherlock doll made of words. It's just that less people are probably apt to enjoy the latter. But still, how often do we write for ourselves as much as others, then find that enough commonality exists that they can enjoy the results as well?

One day, humans with better brains than ours, or possibly the artificial intelligences or aliens from space, who find all of this may be able to unravel just what all we actually were putting into all of this writing about a man named Sherlock Holmes. The social patterns it gives evidence of. The mental evolution of our species. Who knows?

With Sherlock Holmes there will always be one more mystery to solve. Of that you can be sure.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

The Worst Man in the Beacon Society.

One of the seemingly harder lessons to learn in our internet society would seem to be this: If you don't agree with something, it's often okay to let it be.

To illustrate this point, I'm going to tell you a story I was reminded of last week, the tale of the worst man in the Beacon Society.

Hopefully you've heard of the Beacon Society, a charitable group that donates funds to help teachers who are using Sherlock Holmes to teach kids. This year was a good year for the Beacon Society as they gave out ten grants to deserving teachers and were again an official charity of Atlanta's 221B Con, raising money in a most delightful way.

The name of the group comes, of course, from "The Naval Treaty," in which Sherlock Holmes tells Watson, "Look at those big, isolated clumps of buildings rising above the slates, like brick islands in a lead-colored sea . . . Lighthouses, my boy! Beacons of the future! Capsules, with hundreds of bright little seeds in each, out of which will spring the wiser, better England of the future."

(Oh . . . he thought, suddenly stopped in his tracks . . . maybe not such a good quote to demonstrate Holmes's smarts after the whole Brexit thing . . . .)

The Beacon Society began in 2003, on the second floor of New York's Algonquin Hotel, where the energetic Maribeau Briggs had summoned a number of Sherlockians to discuss energizing future generations with the spirit of Sherlock Holmes.

The Sherlockian world of 2003 is very hard to imagine these days. Sherlock was not on the rise, in fact, the fandom seemed to be in a slow descent. The bump of the Jeremy Brett Granada days was well past and Benedict Cumberbatch was played the sex-obsessed son of Hugh Laurie on Fortysomething. ("Y'see, kids, back in them ol' days, Sherlockians didn't even have House to watch yet. You know House . . . that Sherlock Holmes show we watched when we didn't have any Sherlock Holmes shows? What, you're too young for that, too?" Ah, time.) Perhaps the biggest thing happening to Sherlock Holmes in 2003 was his first kiss with Mary Russell, to which I was immaturely shouting, "Ewww, gross!" befitting my usual mental age.

In 2003, Sherlockians were painfully aware that Holmes needed a push in our culture, and nobody knew where such a push could even come from. So when Maribeau started rounding up Sherlockians she thought might benefit the cause, asking them to come to the second floor of the Algonquin to discuss helping Sherlock Holmes gain some future momentum, a lot of good and helpful Sherlockians showed up. Along with one or two who would not be so helpful.

As the plan to abet school teachers in teaching Sherlock Holmes was explained, at least one fellow in that gathering started thinking back to reading "The Speckled Band" in an eighth grade classroom and  mentally went, "That sure didn't take. This does not sound like a good idea." He firmly believed that school teachers weren't going to do the job, and had thought the meeting was going to be about coming up with a new way to promote Sherlockian enjoyment to the general adult public. And so he and his companion, who was also present for that initial gathering of the Beacon Society, quietly walked away and didn't really get into it. At least until 2015, when he donated $15 to the Beacons to see a burlesque show at 221B Con.

Now, a good thirteen years later, the Beacon Society is enthusiastically doing good work, helping teachers at a time when the rest of society is often not all that helpful to that much needed profession. That fellow who walked away from the Beacon Society thinking it was a wrong-headed idea just let it be, didn't argue the point on the internet, and then later might have been shown the error of his ways by the fine folk who did carry that noble cause forward. Just because you don't agree with something completely doesn't mean it might not have merit. (Hush now, Elementary fans. Everything isn't about you.)

Having said that, I'm going to out the worst man ever thought to be in the Beacon Society, whom you will see in the photo below from the society's web site. A further clue . . . he's the one highest in the photo, an ironic non-beacon rising above the slates, to borrow from the "Naval Treaty" quote. Be nice to him. He still might get his shit together one of these days.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Fandoming in the male way.

A very interesting thought from @avawtsn on Twitter this morning:

One of the most fascinating things to me about the world's evolution in my lifetime has been the effects of a more and more gender-equal society. The genre of mystery fiction was where it became very visible before the wave hit Sherlockian shores. Mystery novels changed dramatically as female writers became a dominant force . . . less near-mathematical or punch-em-up detection styles, perhaps?

Sherlockiana, having circled its wagons around a Victorian male detective, may have trended more male for longer. (Always supremely evidenced by the Baker Street Irregulars of New York locking the gates to women until 1991 . . . sure that seems ancient history, being twenty-five years ago now, almost in the same era as slavery and women's fight for suffrage, but in 1991, it was the present, and quite intolerable.) So when Caroline wrote of her theory that it involved "collecting stuff, not shipping, and events, not relationships," it seemed a thought worth following.

The male Sherlockian writers who dominated the 1940s through the 1970s were all about collecting, in more that just the physical sense. So much of the writing was about collecting data: Here are all the animals in the Canon. Here are all the mentions of food and drink in the Canon. Even Chris Redmond in his recent interview on "I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere" admits to starting out his internet Sherlocking with collecting links. The best of it took that data and analyzed it in some fascinating way, the worst just presented the data. Reference books like concordances and encyclopedias were grand achievements.

As for "events, not relationships," there again, Caroline hits the target. While any society is about connecting people, the Sherlockian event seemed to be the focus. A single annual dinner is definitely an event and not an ongoing relationship, even if one is seeing familiar faces that once a year. Comparing the elder Baker Street Irregulars and upstart Three Patch Podcast makes for some interesting analysis . . . though at some point, technology and changes in society itself are as much responsible as gender. Podcasts are a much better prime connection method than a quarterly journal, but they didn't exist when the old male-centric society was getting set in its ways. And that's where it gets tricky.

Sherlockiana, as a fandom, is as much affected by the era in which any given portion of it rose up as gender. When travel was harder to do, a single annual event made more sense. When no internet existed, paper publishing dictated communication styles. It would be fascinating to study a fandom that started for both genders right here, right now, to see what paths were taken, but even though the data for Sherlockiana isn't clean due to historical factors, we can still probably see some gender trends in our particular fandom . . . right?

Because women don't collect . . . oh, wait, they do. Women collect all sorts of things. And men don't write "transformative works" . . . no, wait, a good deal of Sherlockian scholarship was very transformative. Not fan fiction, but "this was really like this" articles. And shipping? Well, the lads might have gotten in trouble with the wives back then for going into as much detail as their modern female counterparts, but Sherlock and Irene, Sherlock and Mrs. St. Clair, Sherlock and Maud Bellamy . . . it was men that were constantly putting those pairings together with a nudge-nudge, wink-wink.

I really wonder if age is as much a factor as gender in the "curative versus transformative" discussion. The Baker Street Irregulars recently announced they would be giving $10,000 annually to their Harvard archive fund, as curative an act as one can imagine. But is that necessarily a male move or one of a long-standing institution whose members have those kinds of funds and are at an age when legacy becomes important? A number of women are certainly involved in helping the BSI curate their history.

Contrast that with the energetic output of Sherlock fanfic groups like the aforementioned Three Patch Podcast. They have no eighty year history to spend time fussing over, and can devote all their time to the here-and-now. The fact that slash fandom activities don't draw a lot of male participants does set up a gender divide there, which makes it a little hard to use for an objective comparison. Which brings me back to the most basic difficulty in looking at gender-based fanning.

The thing we all have to remember is this: gender is a sliding scale. This person or that might be "all boy" or "a man's man," but most of us? We're a little bit this and a little bit that, scattered across a thousand little personality traits. People don't fall into the neat little binary system we'd like them to, nearly enough.

When I read Caroline's comments this morning, I called it a "beautiful rabbit hole," and indeed it is. You can see a lot of truth to it, as well as other gender patterns in our fandom. And if we use it to examine ourselves in a friendly light, and appreciate the talents that may predominate our opposite numbers, there's something to be gained there. If we let them scare us, and see them as terrorists out to destroy our own preferred style of fanning . . . well, we're only hurting ourselves.

It's a wonderful time to be a Sherlockian, and it can a helluva good time just figuring out what that means.