Sunday, October 30, 2016

E:5. 4. Fact-checking the Elementary.

EDITOR'S NOTE: At his request, Don Murillo, the "Tiger of San Pedro" and "the most Canonical man in the Canon, has been reviewing CBS's Elementary for Sherlock Peoria this season. As the rest of the staff at Sherlock Peoria quit watching the show last season, we could not help but take advantage of his generous offer, but certain questions with Don Murillo's reportage have emerged. This week, Murillo's review will continue, but Sherlock Peoria is adding one of the popular "fact check" features to his work.

It is I, Don Murillo, here to discuss another week of the Elementary! And the one hundredth week at that!

This week, we learn that when Joan Watson updates her list of El Sherlocko's limits, she should put "13. Knowledge of Emoji: Nil!" El Sherlocko makes the classic mistake of calling the emoji for poop "ice cream." Ha-ha! An excellent comic start to the show, before a quantitative analyst named Russell Cole is pinned to the wall like a bug on a card with a fireplace poker.

FACT CHECK: in "The Adventure of Black Peter," sea captain Peter Carey is "pinned like a beetle on a card' to the wall with a harpoon. Sir Eustace Brackenstall of "The Adventure of the Abbey Grange" is killed with a fireplace poker, but by having his head smashed in.

As a part of NYPD "Medal Day," Captain Gregson's department is getting a commendation and Gregson wants civilian employees Joan and El Sherlocko put on the list. There is, Gregson admits, "some resistance" in the department to that thought.

FACT CHECK: Sherlock Holmes was on the list for a knighthood in 1902 and the only resistance was on the part of Sherlock himself, who refused it.

Not so fast, man of fact checking! El Sherlocko, we discover after he leaves NYPD, is trying to refuse the certificate of honor! And America has no knighthoods!

The story turns to asteroids and the possibility that Bruce Willis's skills might be needed, and Gregson thinks Joan and her partner should consult an asteroid expert in case all life on Earth is going to end. This is truly a story of much importance!

FACT CHECK: The only asteroid expert in the original Sherlock Holmes stories was Professor Moriarty, writer of The Dynamics of an Asteroid, criminal mastermind, and Holmes's arch-nemesis. Elementary's Moriarty, Irene Adler, will not appear in this episode.

The asteroid expert that Joan and El Sherlocko must see is celebrity astronomer Julius Kent, called "ambassador to the stars," who went to boarding school with El Sherlocko. El is resisting consulting Kent due to his overly arrogant personality. (That is Kent's personality that Don Murillo speaks of, and not El Sherlocko's!)

FACT CHECK: The only schoolmate of Sherlock Holmes or John H. Watson to be involved in one of their investigations was Percy Phelps of "The Adventure of the Naval Treaty." Phelps went to school with Watson, and Watson admits to bullying the boy in those much younger days.

Upon their meeting Julius, El Sherlocko's old schoolmate tells Joan that he taught El that the Earth revolved around the sun when they were eight years old. 

FACT CHECK: In the second chapter of A Study in Scarlet, Sherlock Holmes toys with Dr. Watson by pretending ignorance of a popular Scottish philosopher and basic solar system function in order to make a point about his professional focus. Sherlock Holmes is an adult at the time, and basically trolling his new room-mate just a bit. 

Detective Bell and Joan Watson accuse the murder victim's employer of murder while El Sherlocko sits quietly, indicating that the boss may not be guilty. And innocent is what the boss claims to be.

FACT CHECK: Scotland Yard arrested many innocents whom Sherlock Holmes would later clear. Sherlock Holmes did not follow the Yardmen down to their holding cells to talk to those arrested.

Wrong! This man of fact checking has not evidence this did not happen! Don Murillo thinks this checker of facts is showing his media bias!

Luckily, El Sherlocko takes back the spotlight by giving a speech about how accepting awards will inevitably cause him to get more and more credit for solving NYPD's cases and then they will get jealous. And then, when he is done, and Joan Watson has toddled off to bed, he sneaks in and checks Joan Watson for poison ivy in her sleep as he solves the case.

FACT CHECK: In "The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier," Sherlock Holmes calls in Sir James Saunders for an appropriate diagnosis of a skin ailment on Godfrey Emsworth.

Don Murillo very much enjoyed the scene of El Sherlock and Joan sitting on a couch in front of a staircase, and would hang a painting of it over his fireplace. Joan is in her pajamas and El Sherlocko has his top collar button perfectly in place, and it is the perfect "Elementarican Gothic."

In the end, Captain Gregson gives all the officers and detectives of his squad a speech about how bad the world is, but how they make his job worthwhile. Joan is present, but El Sherlocko comes in late and does not clap when Gregson asks that they all give themselves a hand. And the show is over.

FACT CHECK: "To his sombre and cynical spirit all popular applause was always abhorrent . . ." Dr. Watson wrote in "The Adventure of the Devil's Foot."

That Canonical fact still does not make El Sherlocko as Canonical as Don Murillo, whom it will be remembered is widely known as the most Canonical man in the Canon! And where was our friend Shinwell Johnson?

FACT CHECK: Urban dictionary defines "Canon" as "another word for official. Used quite often in fan fiction to differentiate between the official storyline in which the fan fiction is based on." Elementary's own Canon makes its characters entirely Canonical in the Elementary Canon.

PFUI! Don Murillo shall call the head office of Sherlock Peoria and demand that this fact check personage be fired from his job immediately for using the Urban Dictionary to try to say such nasty things about Don Murillo's place of importance!

FACT CHECK: Don Murillo cannot have anyone fired from the staff of Sherlock Peoria due to there being no employees of the blog site (that anyone can prove). And, in any case, I quit. 

Don Murillo, the most Canonical man in the Canon, bids you not to let the door hit you on the way out, and a splendid Sunday night and Monday morning to everyone who was not fact checking Don Murillo tonight!

Surveying the future.

New ground seems to be broken daily in Sherlockiana of late. And every time a phrase like "of late," "these days," or "modern" slips into my blogging, I sigh and feel the years. Because I know that anyone who is truly in the Sherlockian world of the moment doesn't use those lines -- to them, this Sherlockiana of the here and now is Sherlockiana. My use of those qualifying phrases place me as a Sherlockian who still has one foot in a world gone by . . . and not 1895 . . . 1985.

So I enjoy the occasional splash of water that wakes me again just as my head nods into a nap of nostalgia. And I got a good splash today . . . it's one thing to know the ocean is there, but another when the wave washes over you. That splash?

The survey results from the Three Patch Podcast's Fandom and Sexuality Survey are in, and even from a quick overview, one can see we're talking about a Sherlockian world of 2016 that is nowhere near that of 1985. While survey respondents were self-selected and were most often reached through fannish channels quite unlike those of the old-fashioned telephone pollsters, their response numbers were definitely high enough to be worth consideration.

Right off the top, the 3.8% of survey respondents who claim to be male-identifying out of 2195 participants should tell you something. That's a little over eighty members of the gender identity that completely ruled America's main Sherlock Holmes fan club thirty years ago . . . 80 out of 2195. Many a male looking at those results is apt to exclaim, "That doesn't represent me!" and the appropriate answer to that is, most certainly, "No, it doesn't." But it represents well over two thousand fans. And that's a number with some weight in fan world -- in 1985, the total number of copies of a single issue of The Baker Street Journal published was 2155, and that was probably the biggest thing in our fandom at that time.

The survey also shows a rise in the acceptance of the "multi-fan." Local Sherlock Holmes society meetings have long had conversations that wandered off on to Star Trek, Dr. Who, or some other fandom, but as Sherlock was the elder, more respected fandom, the polite Sherlock-focussed article about Gandalf or Batman was about as far out of the closet as a Lord of the Rings or comic book fan who was also a Sherlockian was going to come. A crossover fanzine like Holmesian Federation existed more in Trek's fandom that Sherlock's. Perhaps it has to do with Trek being a more dominant fandom in those days, but Three Patch's own "Potterlocktober" episode seems to demonstrate that things are a little different now.

The main thrust of the survey (pun intended) that will certainly give rise to an "us and them" feeling in a old school Sherlockian is its focus on sexuality. "What does sex have to do with Sherlock Holmes?" one might cry . . . if one hasn't been paying attention to the Sherlockian world of 2016.

Sherlockians have always had a game to play, to focus their fan-love when reading the sixty stories were done. The first game of any fandom is creating copies, fan fiction if you will, and Sherlock fans were there right off the bat. (Published writers are, of course, the only ones whose work survived.) The second game was operating on the premise that Watson wrote history and researching story details from there. As distance made Conan Doyle more of a historical figure than a current celebrity, Doylean scholarship became a game Holmes fans played as well. Now, the wheel has turned, we're back to fan fiction, and more sexually-charged, relational fan fiction is the newest game that Sherlock Holmes fans are openly playing. (I say "openly," because yes, yes, a handful were doing it back in the day, but nowhere close to as prominently as now.)

The Sherlockians of 2016 aren't the Sherlockians of 1985, and when someone tries to differentiate between "Sherlockian" and "Sherlock fan," it often feels like they really mean "1985" versus "2016." It's a little like saying millennials aren't true people because they don't act like baby boomers. Things were always better in the good old days, but every era is someone's future "good old days."

Nothing delights me more than thinking of 221B Con 2056 and the older fans there bitching about "these kids today" not doing things properly 2016 . . . trust me, that day's going to come. The best we can all do is just keep fighting to keep an open mind, no matter our age, and see if we can enjoy the world as it is and not how it was. So I'm very glad for Three Patch's survey and all of the interesting points it makes just by existing.

On Sherlockiana goes . . . in whatever direction it heads next.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

The silk purse from the sow's ear.

I think every pastiche or fanfic writer in the world just got a bright, golden ray of sunshine.

Sherlock Holmes has been an amazing character for well over a century, with the ability to carry an otherwise mediocre story among his other powers, we all know that. But we've also know that Sherlock Holmes alone can't do all of the heavy lifting. He needs talented re-creators behind him, taking what Conan Doyle gave us and re-interpreting it with skill and innovation.

And we don't always get that. We get a lot of crap written with characters named "Sherlock Holmes" and "Watson." We get crap made into TV shows. We get crap made into movies. We get crap made into novels, and plays, and radio drama, and any other style of story you can imagine . . . including jokes.

Around 2004, Sherlockians everywhere were being pestered to death with a particular joke . . . "the tent joke." (Not going to put a link here -- google "Sherlock Holmes tent joke" and you can see how universal it is.) Before the Downey Jr. hit movie, before the Cumberbatch TV series, the most popular incarnation of Sherlock Holmes was, quite literally, a joke. You couldn't escape it. If anyone knew you liked Holmes, they had to tell it to you, and traditional joke repositories like Reader's Digest all had to include it. And, honestly, it was a good joke . . . the first time you heard it. The tenth time? The hundredth time? The three hundredth time? Pure torture.

But now, a dozen years later, some very talented film-makers have actually adapted that torturous bit of comedy into a quite beautiful little film.

Elemental (mi querido Watson) is perhaps the best example of someone making a silk purse out of a sow's ear that I have ever seen. Maybe it's the prettier language being spoken, so I'm not hearing the words I've heard so many times before. Maybe it's the casting, which gives us one of those better-looking Holmeses that sells these days and a primo Watson. Maybe it's the perfect scene setting, giving you just enough set-up without giving the joke away.

Thanks to Elemental, I might be revising my opinion of the Sherlock Holmes tent joke. Yes, the gawdawful endless repetition back in the mid-2000s did it no favors. But at its heart, its a good joke.

Which goes to show how true talent in a field can redeem anything. Those who think I hate on CBS's Elementary far too much should take hope . . . I hated the goddamn tent joke so much more than I ever did that silly show. And here, someone with a true vision of the thing has communicated it in a way that redeems the old joke.

So pasticheurs, fan-fic writers, TV show creators whose work has been criticized, take heart. Maybe someday someone will lovingly take some work of yours that has been maligned and turn it into something so undeniably beautiful that even its fiercest critics can see the light.

If it worked for the tent joke, it can work for you.

(Big thanks to Sherlockian drama expert Howard Ostrom for turning us on to this one!)

Friday, October 28, 2016

The Watson gifts.

John H. Watson was a rare individual.

Seen as an "everyman" by many commentators through the years, he is beginning to seem a little less representative of the typical Anglo-Saxon male. In fact, in his way, John Watson is starting to seem like as much a paragon as the fellow he wrote about, though not a paragon of detection as his friend was. No, Watson's virtues lie somewhere entirely different.

"You have a grand gift of silence," Holmes famously commented in "The Man with the Twisted Lip." "It makes you quite invaluable as a companion."

But we cannot take Holmes entirely at his word, however, for as he compliments Watson on their ride out to the Cedars, he is not uttering those words so Watson will stay silent. Quite the opposite as he immediately follows them with: "'Pon my word, it is a great thing for me to have someone to talk to, for my own thoughts are not over pleasant. I was wondering what I should say to this dear little woman tonight when she meets me at the door."

Holmes wants Watson to talk. He wants thoughts other than his own. And yet, he plainly has no use for a self-appointed pundit at his side. There's a reason he doesn't hang out with Tobias Gregson instead of John Watson. When Watson says something, Holmes knows it isn't just being said to fill the air.

"I know, my dear Watson, that you share my love of all that is bizarre and outside the conventions and humdrum routine of everyday life. you have shown your relish for it . . ."

"There is a delightful freshness about you, Watson . . ."

"Native shrewdness." "Pawky humor." "Never failed to play the game." And of course . . .

"A confederate who foresees your conclusions and course of action is always dangerous, but one to whom each development comes as a perpetual surprise, and to whom the future is always a close book, is, indeed, an ideal helpmate."

It is very important to note that Holmes isn't calling Watson "stupid" here. He's saying that Watson has no prejudice in him. He takes life as it comes, living in the moment like a Zen master. "A confederate who foresees your conclusions" isn't speaking of a psychic who knows every move you're about to make. Holmes is talking about the sort of person who thinks they know what you're going to do and then acts accordingly with their theories. John Watson let Sherlock Holmes do what he was going to do and say what he was going to say before reacting.

There is that lovely little passage used in two different stories where Sherlock Holmes deduces what Watson is thinking. But that is Sherlock Holmes, and that is Sherlock Holmes doing a trick at that, just for effect. Holmes is not telling Watson what his opinion is. Holmes isn't creating a straw man version of Watson just to set up an argument he was going to make in any case. No, Holmes is simply putting a little bit of the theatric into their day. But Watson, who is not such a performer, doesn't do those things either.

In these social media days when expressing our opinions often becomes more important than waiting to see what someone else has to really say . . . and then actually listening to those words . . . John H. Watson is, indeed, a paragon for our modern age. And a companion we should all enjoy having along for our adventures.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Johnlock versus Joanalone.

If one avoided social media, I suppose one could bury one's head in the original Canon like it's a nuclear bunker, pretend that is all there is to Sherlock Holmes, and live life like it was still 1985. And I'll admit, as much fun as it is to do that now and then, these days it oft seems to be all about the relationships between our Holmeses and Watsons. There's a whole spectrum of Holmes/Watson relationships out there, and at the far ends of that diverse range of detective and doctor duocity?

Johnlock and Joanalone.

With Johnlock, we have a Holmes and Watson of the same gender, who are inevitably deeply in love with each other, passionately sexual, and as much a couple as any lovers before them.

With Joanalone, we have a Holmes and Watson who are little brother and older sister, a relationship founded on payment, justified later by a "I'm going to be a detective just like you," and never satisfyingly settling why these two people would stay in a house together . . . which, given their creative parents' commandment that they never have sex, has evolved them into squabbling siblings.

With Johnlock, the defining moment is surely the first kiss . . . that satisfying moment when the two puzzle pieces that obviously fit perfectly together are finally laid into place.

With Joanalone, the defining moment has to be the Holmes tromping into the Watson's bedroom each day to proudly try some new way to wake his sister up in the way an annoying little brother would. (And not-so-little-brotherly confirming that she is, indeed, there alone.)

With Johnlock, there is a narrative arc at the heart of the relationship, which is why it is a story told and retold across a seemingly infinite number of fan fiction universes. That arc bends toward togetherness and no longer being alone.

With Joanalone, there is a status quo to be maintained throughout story upon story, which has a certain "hellish" aspect to it, whereupon the Watson seems held in repeated torment for the original sin that put her in this place (killing a patient). Watson is forever in the lonely state of the caretaker or watcher, her duties seeming to rule out any other relationships that might interfere.

Johnlock is about closeness. Joanalone is about distance.

Johnlock is personal. Joanalone is professional.

One comes from the cherished details of a show with great gaps between episodes, where the sparks shown on screen get fanned into brighter flames in the interim. One comes from a week-after-week march to syndication numbers, always keeping personal qualities from endangering the rituals of the procedural.

Each has its fans, as well as fans who hold that the opposite of each of those is the true faith, and every angle in between. Things like Sherlolly and Joanbell ships slip in as well, and why not?

Every bit of it tells us something about ourselves and our fellows, even this bit of silliness.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

E:5. 3. The baseball bat murder and the book review.

EDITOR'S NOTE: At his request, Don Murillo, the "Tiger of San Pedro" and "the most Canonical man in the Canon, will be reviewing CBS's Elementary for Sherlock Peoria this season. As the rest of the staff at Sherlock Peoria quit watching the show last season, we could not help but take advantage of his generous offer, spoilers and all. Take it away, Don Murillo! 

Don Murillo found the opening minutes of tonight's Elementary to be the most gruesome in any of the show's five seasons! A man in a trailer park was holding a bloody baseball bat over his next victim, who was vowing revenge for a friend who, if the gore on the ground was to be believed, lost their life to that horrible piece of sports equipment, much like the wooden clubs used in the American World Series which Don Murillo hears so much about!

But then Lopez informed Don Murillo that his eagerness for tonight's episode had caused Don Murillo to turn on the television an hour early, and to the wrong station! Joan Watson and her partner will be confronting the Andrew Dice Clay impersonator with the baseball bat another night, it seems!

Don Murillo turned off his television and went back to reading his copy of About Sixty, and Mark Hanson's essay on Don Murillo, whom he calls "Don Juan Murillo." To this, Don Murillo must quote another less popular, less successful dictator and cry: "Wrong!" Those closest to Don Murillo know that Don Murillo's true full name is Juan Don Murillo! And those who know Juan Don Murillo the very best know that "Juan Don" is a much more complimentary name when it comes to romance than "Don Juan," as Don Murillo's one-time butler Brunton was known.

Don Murillo finished Hanson's essay and ordered Lopez to change the station to the CBS . . . but what sorcery it this? Madame Secretary still holds sway? Ah, clever CBS! After Don Murillo's post of last week informed them that many fans were thinking they needed to change channels after Madame Secretary and missing Elementary, the network potentates let the earlier show run into Elementary's time! Clever!

So it was that Don Murillo turned back to About Sixty, and "The Adventure of the Norwood Builder," the other story in which the most Canonical man in the Canon, Don Murillo, is mentioned. Don Murillo carefully and slowly scanned the words of Mr. Vincent W. Wright, and though many good words were there, none of those words were "Don" or "Murillo." (Don Murillo does not consider "Don't" a form of "Don," regardless of what the search engines would try to tell us!)

Finally, at about that hour when a man gives his first yawn and glances at his personal secretary to be told the hour, Captain Gregson's voice is heard in recap, speaking of his girlfriend. Captain Gregson and his girlfriend, who turns out to be actress Virginia Madsen, are then having a date in Gregson's office, eating from boxes! Captain Gregson is certainly no Juan Don, Don Murillo can tell you that!

Virginia Madsen leaves to speak with El Sherlocko, giving him a false name, so as to keep him from speaking of the sequel to Highlander that she acted in, as she must often do. A naked man is murdered for some reason, and then Joan Watson appears in her pajamas as ironic juxtaposition.

Then, in the best mystery tradition of A Shot in the Dark, El Sherlocko and Joan go to a nudist colony at the request of Detective Bell. Joan wears a suit and tie, sans jacket, to bedevil Bell's obvious goal.

The quiet, soothing conversations of Joan Watson and El Sherlocko bring Don Murillo to that minute in Elementary when a man gives his first yawn and glances at Lopez for some entertainment. Lopez does the traditional dance of San Pedro, which the citizens are expected to perform for Don Murillo's amusement whenever he starts to drift toward slumber during the day's tyrannical chores.

Virginia Madsen does not enjoy that El Sherlocko investigates Gregson's romantic partners in this adaptation, which the Sherlock Holmes that Don Murillo knew in the Canon did not do. Don Murillo had the displeasure of meeting Mrs. Gregson when he came to London to . . . alas, that is a tale for another time. 

Joan Watson sleeps in sleeveless sleepwear the second pajama morning of the episode, when she was wearing much warmer sleepwear the night before. Those Elementarian chronologists like my editor will surely find this a clue as to New York weather changes, but Don Murillo is more interested in that the Elementarian pajamalogists will make of this twist in Joan's sleepwear patterns.

But it has been a long night of baseball bats and reading About Sixty, and Joan's bed looked so comfortable that Don Murillo cannot put his own peacock-down mattress and New Zealand dandelion fluff comforters out of his mind. So he must leave you now for sleep.

"You will not join me in pouring scorn upon her racist tale of woe."
                      -- El Sherlocko, from tonight's Elementary wind-up

"A Spaniard would write to a Spaniard in Spanish."
                       -- Sherlock Holmes, from Don Murillo's future collection, Quotes No One Ever Quotes.

Sherlock Holmes and the Chicago Cubs . . . hmmmm.

Feeling a bit like Sherlock in "Missing Three-Quarter" this weekend, when Cyril Overton came to Baker Street babbling in another language. Well, more of a dialect than another language actually, that dialect known as "sports."

Since Peoria is midway between St. Louis and Chicago, our baseball fans are split in their loyalties, often like Hatfields and McCoys, but we have enough fans of the Chicago Cubs that the word "historic" is being thrown around quite a bit in reference to the Cubs making it to the "World" Series for the first time since 1945. It has something to do with a goat, which is a part of that sports dialect I mentioned earlier that I don't speak.

But, given that I am a Sherlockian, when history rears its ancient head, I turn to the Canon to see just how the matter connects to Sherlock Holmes and thus whether or not it truly matters to those who speak my particular dialect of Sherlockiana. So . . . Sherlock Holmes and the Chicago Cubs.

Well, for starters, Sherlock Holmes retired from detection sometime in 1903. The Chicago Cubs also had a historic moment in 1903, when they changed their names from the Chicago White Stockings. You'd think that would mean the two had nothing to do with each other . . . but, nope!

Sherlock Holmes travelled to Chicago in 1912 pretending to be an Irishman named Altamont, as we know from "His Last Bow." The Cubs were in their heyday during that period, finishing third in the National League over such teams as the St. Louis Cardinals (sorry, Rob) and the Brooklyn Trolley Dodgers. Tinkers and Evers of the well-known "Tinkers to Evers to Chance" double play combination were still playing their positions and Chance was in his final year of being player-manager. With Old St. Patrick's Church being not much more than a mile from West Side Park where the Cubs played, the idea of an Irishman taking in a game is not without possibility.

Sherlock Holmes was not much of a sports fan, of course, but he was in Chicago at that time to make connections, and as most males know, sports is a social lubricant as great as any other among our gender. As a guy three hours away from Chicago, I still have to pretend to care about such things now and then, and I'm not trying to infiltrate a secret society. Without any corroborating documentation, I would bet my life's savings on Sherlock Holmes having to converse about the Chicago Cubs sometime during his time in that city, even if he didn't make it to the ballpark.

So if Sherlock Holmes had to connect with the Chicago Cubs, I guess I will have to allow that their current attempt to win the World Series for the first time since 1908 (which Holmes surely got tired of hearing about, four years later) is somewhat "historic." I'm sure some of Chicago's many great Sherlockians have tracked Holmes's potential experiences in that city at far more detail than I, and could probably tell you what games he might have attended. (And if they haven't, get to it, current Chicago Sherlockians!) But I will end upon Holmes's great line from "Missing Three-Quarter."

"You live in a different world to me, Mr. Overton, a sweeter and healthier one. My ramifications stretch out into many sections of society, but never, I am happy to say, into amateur sport, which is the best and soundest thing in England."

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Worthy of Canonical villain status? Nope.

A word of warning, I'm going political today. If you are weary or sensitive to such things, it might be in your best interest to head elsewhere for distraction. (Such warnings, of course, are rarely heeded.)

We seem to be in a news cycle where conspiracy theorists are having their day as we approach America's next presidential election. And some of the more excited of those theorists would have us believe that we have a Moriarty running as a major party candidate . . . not a mild-mannered mathematics professor, but a former first lady, who, if the theorists are to be believed, is a criminal mastermind of the first order. Capable of Mycroftian power plays and getting away with actual murders, the level of competency if those Moriarty theorists were correct is almost enough to make you want to support such a candidate, just because, hey, in a world without a Sherlock, a Moriarty might look awfully good.

But those are just crazed conspiracy theories. Looking at the other presidential candidate, however, for a Canonical doppelganger, one finds . . .  well, my mind first heads for James Ryder, the sad little villain who stumbled into providing Holmes a mystery and then was chased out of Baker Street with a simple "Get out!"

Sherlock Holmes didn't have time for overly-pompous blowhards who had no close relationship with the facts. His disdain for a Scotland Yard man or two who fit that bill was very apparent, and he had even less time for those of higher status. Had Sherlock Holmes run into a two-bit charlatan from a wealthy family who rose to media prominence in the lowest sort of entertainments . . . well, it might have been very amusing to watch, but it would have hardly provided the mystery for a decent case.

And that is what we find ourselves presented with this fall. Someone that Watson wouldn't even find worth writing about dominating our national stage. Sherlockians are a very inclusive group as a fandom, so I don't doubt we have a Trump fan or two out there. But I don't think I will ever quite understand how any mind could hold Sherlock Holmes up as an ideal and consider that man a viable candidate for even a Baker Street client, much less anything higher.

Unless, of course, you're really, really, really into wanting there to be Moriartys out there. And even in that case, one would think you could find a better champion to go against said mastermind . . . which we all know took a Sherlock Holmes.

And we know Sherlock Holmes. Sherlock Holmes is a friend of ours. And that huckster on the national stage is no Sherlock Holmes.

Monday, October 17, 2016

One dog who didn't make it to heaven.

To this day, I have still not seen the 1989 animated feature, All Dogs Go To Heaven.

It's not that I have anything against cartoons from Don Bluth studios or dog characters based on Burt Reynolds's vocal talents (with all of Burt's 1980s chums along for the ride). Or the plotline about a pound-escaped pooch who used to run a casino and gets murdered while drunk. (Though, that sounds like a wonderful reason to dodge the film.)

It's simply due to the title, and its seeming argument with The Hound of the Baskervilles, which had just come out in its Jeremy Brett edition the year before in 1988. You remember that story, with its line like:

". . . and there ran mute behind him such a hound of hell as God forbid should ever be at my heels."

So if a curse upon a country squire raises a hound from hell, it only follows that said dog had to go to hell to start with, unless he (or she) was born there, in which case a doggie mother had to emigrate to the nether-depths at some point, which denies the title of All Dogs Go To Heaven just as much.

Now, Googling "hell-hound" brings up the definition of "a demon in the form of a dog," which would suggest that the Baskerville curse beast was not a dog at all, but a demon. And yet, unless that demon turned back into some other demonic form before returning to hell, it would still be a dog who certainly wasn't going to heaven, to get technical about it.

Wikipedia goes much deeper on hell-hounds, and definitely calls them "supernatural dogs." Wikipedia also notes that the main dog character in All Dogs Go to Heaven does have a nightmare where he goes to hell and meets a hell-hound, so within the movie's own logic it would seem to acknowledge that hell-hounds are a part of dog culture.

Maybe only one dog went to hell and became the hound of the place, long before even Viking times, and all dogs since then went elsewhere, giving movie-makers free reign to make a movie called All Dogs Go to Heaven with an implied asterisk.

Thus endeth one of the more ridiculous lengths a lazy Sherlockian blogger might go to to post on a regular basis.  Sigh.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

E5:2. There is no debate!

EDITOR'S NOTE: At his request, Don Murillo, the "Tiger of San Pedro" and "the most Canonical man in the Canon, will be reviewing CBS's Elementary for Sherlock Peoria this season. As the rest of the staff at Sherlock Peoria quit watching the show last season, we could not help but take advantage of his generous offer, spoilers and all. Take it away, Don Murillo! (And don't use it to torture the citizens of San Pedro, as has been suggested you might.)

Don Murillo was pleased to learn that last Sunday night, CBS was the most-watched network with over ten million watchers of the television tuning in when they heard the Elementary was not on the air. It is a tribute to the fans of Joan Watson and El Sherlocko that when CBS chose to schedule the same program as every other network in that time slot, the fans turned out by the ten million to say to CBS, "Yes, we support this Sunday night time slot in which you usually show us Elementary, but did not tonight!" That is four million more fans of Elementary than watched the season premiere the week before!

CBS has learned its lesson! Now they just have to explain to that third of Elementary fans who watch Madame Secretary the hour before and then change the channel that Elementary is conveniently on the same channel as the earlier show. No channel changing required -- convenience is one of Don Murillo's top reasons for loving this show! And what are the other reasons?

Did you not see what Don Murillo saw this night?

El Sherlocko has been kidnapped by drug smugglers who want him to solve a murder, and better still, they are both more tattooed than El Sherlocko and call him "homes" in a fashion favored by gang members from the old movies! Most comical!

El Sherlocko agrees, is let go by his captors, and looks at the shipyards over the internet long enough to see a ship, then it's back to the conference room at NYPD to work with the police, even though he has a "private client."

Eventually we get to Joan Watson helping Shinwell Johnson with a lease agreement, and some Asian men come to the door to reveal a shocking revelation! "Joan Watson" is not Joan Watson's real name! Just as seasons before we found that El Sherlocko went by "Scott" when he was younger, yet another mask comes off! As Don Murillo cannot write Chinese characters, he cannot spell Joan Watson's true name here, so he shall continue to call her "Joan Watson." It does seem to be her preference.

 But Joan Watson has been hired by these men for her own case! I, Don Murillo, have often complained to my secretary Lopez that it was quite the indulgence for the Sherlock Holmes and the Dr. Watson to always work on the same investigation together in their original sixty cases. Just imagine getting to read "The Adventure of the Speckled Band AND the Beryl Coronet" as Sherlock Holmes and John H. Watson split their energies to work two cases at once, only running into each other when they took suspects to their regular Scotland Yard conference room for questioning. Elementary has fulfilled so many wishes of its fans!

International intrigues and constant threats to painfully kill El Sherlocko are playing to Don Murillo's soft spots this week, and the constant dialogue reminds Don Murillo of the Gilmore Girls. And the Imperial Jade Seal Of China is like the Maltese Falcon or the Golden Bird, from Sherlock Holmes and the Golden Bird -- a true object worth pursuit! El Sherlocko even reminds Don Murillo of a much-less-active Jason Statham this week and merely threatens to have someone else murder the villain horribly to elicit a confession.

Can this season get any better?

You tell Don Murillo, for next week, Joan Watson and El Sherlocko go to a nudist colony! 

Friday, October 14, 2016

An Algonquin on the Styx.

Way back in 1891, Sherlock Holmes died. Viewers of BBC Sherlock had it easy compared to readers of The Strand Magazine, because when that Sherlock took the fatal fall, even Arthur Conan Doyle was convinced he was dead and gone. So dead and gone was Holmes that Doyle even allowed him to go to the afterlife created by John Kendrick Bangs in his A House-boat on the Styx series of novels. (Sherlock appears in The Pursuit of the Houseboat and The Enchanted Type-writer.)

In Bangs's Styx novels, the whole point of the after-life records was to show how various characters from history might interact with each other, and it's a joyous mash-up. Sherlock, Socrates, Noah, Sir Walter Raleigh . . . you never know who will turn up in the afterlife, and that's half the fun of it.

Which brings me to a few happy little tears I felt welling up today.

As mentioned earlier in the week, we lost a great Sherlockian friend on Monday, and I saw "we" because even if you hadn't met Gordon Speck of Waterloo, Illiniois, had you met him, you most likely would have called him friend. He was that sort of guy, friendly like the world was his home and his was just being a gracious host. And at his memorial service today, as at many a memorial service, there was some mention of the afterlife.

Which put me in mind of Bangs's houseboat on the river Styx and all the souls that showed up there . . . ALL the souls. The pastor speaking of the afterlife quoted a popular passage about all the rooms there, and it made me think of a hotel, like the Algonquin hotel, where the Sherlockians gathered in New York every year for Holmes's birthday made their headquarters for many, many years. And if Bangs could have a houseboat on the Styx, then why not a hotel . . . a version of the Algonquin more like the Royal York in Toronto, with its seemingly endless hallways?

And who would be in such an Algonquin on the Styx?

Every Sherlockian ever.

Ronald Knox. Newt Williams. Dorothy Sayers. Marlene Aig. William Gillette. Jack Tracy. Edith Meiser. William S. Baring-Gould. Vincent Starrett. John Bennett Shaw. Bob Burr. Eve Titus. Bart Simms. The list would go on and on, through the famous, the infamous, the local, the international, more than any of our poor brains could handle.

And when I thought of the one man I know who would be equipped to walk into the lobby of such a place, this Algonquin on the Styx, and start happily interacting with this crazy quilt of Sherlockian post-humanity?

Gordon R. Speck.

Never was a man so perfect for a teaming afterlife cocktail party of Sherlockians from all of history. I may be a little biassed, 'tis true, but the thought of Gordon in the midst of a heavenly host of Sherlockians just felt so, so utterly perfect. And the fact that I had this thought amidst a very great presence of Sherlockians from five or six Holmes societies at his memorial just made it resonate all the more.

Unlike Sherlock, Gordon isn't going to show up in a few years with some cockamamie story about llamas in the Alps, but you know what? If Sherlock had stayed in that houseboat on the Styx, we'd still love him all the same. Not the same as having him around with us, but if we can't have him, or Gordon, the thought that they're surrounded by fascinating folk is a sweet one to hold on to.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Animating the gaps?

One of my cosmic wish lists of Sherlockian items is a fully restored cut of Billy Wilder's original lengthy vision of The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes. We'll probably never see it, as surviving pieces that didn't make the trimmed-down version only exist in audio-only, video-only, or script-only states. But the news about Doctor Who's recreated Doctor Who: The Power of the Daleks gives hope.

Our culture's growing acceptance that animation isn't just for the kiddies any more has opened up some real opportunities for using that medium to fill gaps. Sad that Adam West and Burt Ward are too old to play Batman and Robin anymore? Create a new animated movie like The Return of the Caped Crusaders and let their voices carry on with new material! Have a lost Doctor Who episodes whose negatives were destroyed? Rebuild it with the parts and pieces that survive as an animated series!

The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes is a prime candidate for some animated treatment. Mixing animated segments with live action can work great, as was demonstrated by Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill, where Lucy Liu's character's tragic origin was completely done as a cartoon. With the right style, a flashback to Holmes and Watson on a case would fit perfectly in Private Life's already somewhat tongue-in-cheek style.

I don't know if the old Billy Wilder movie has enough fans to warrant the investment, or if Sherlock's popularity from his new incarnations help that cause, but it sure would be great to finally see The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes re-created closer to Wilder's original intent, with whatever tools are available, including animation.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

San Pedro is where the heart is. The heart of Don Murillo!

Editor's note: Letting a guest writer into a blog's normal postings is something not done lightly. Why? Because they're liable to keep coming back. With that, let us re-present Don Murillo, the most Canonical man in the Canon. If anyone can corroborate that statement, we would sure appreciate it.

Don Murillo was having a lovely siesta week, watching American dictatorial candidates stalk each other, waiting for the assassins to strike as always seems to happen to Don Murillo, when he found a little magazine in the waiting room of Sherlock Peoria. It was called The Serpentine Muse, and as Don Murillo amused himself by reading of of the Holmesists and their lives -- that is, until Don Murillo came to an article called "Where in the World is 'San Pedro'?" by one Peter H. Jacoby.

This Peter H. Jacoby is clearly a scholar of the first level! And his study of Latin American countries in an effort to identify San Pedro's location. He places much stock in the green and white of San Pedro's flag, only to give up in dismay as he notes "there is not a single country in all of Latin America that has those hues as its national ensign." Well, of course not! Don Murillo is not raised a flag in Latin America in some time!

Has Peter H. Jacoby travelled the world, looking for the green and white colors of San Pedro as so many others have, hoping to find Don Murillo's more perfect Shangri-La? But no! He is a man of books, skilled in his area, but not so skilled as to find Don Murillo's people.

Yes, San Pedro did take up a certain amount of geography in the Central and Southern Americas for a little more than a decade at one time. But as anyone of true political skill knows, countries do not age well. The citizens finish their honeymoon period and become needy and spoiled. To truly perfect a nation, as I have done with San Pedro, a ruler must rotate citizenry and resources on a regular basis.

Yes, Don Murillo's colors have flown over parts of Latin America. And two of the New Zealand islands. And a portion of the Sahara desert. The Balkans. Antarctica. "Iowa." Perhaps some locations that might be more recognizable to you as well, especially now that corporate nationhood is a more shadowy business than the old manner of things. (And do not start searching for green and white trademarks, Peter H. Jacoby, Don Murillo is a traditionalist. His flag remains his colors!)

Dom Pedro II. Rafael Zaldivar. Justo Ruffino Barrios. The Duke of Plaza Toro. Justo Jose de Urquiza y Garcia. Names! So many names that are not "Don Murillo!" Only Don Murillo is "Don Murillo," the Tiger of San Pedro and the most Canonical man in all of the Canon!

And where the Tiger of San Pedro stalks his prey and grooms his fur, that is where San Pedro will always be, and where its citizens rejoice while citizens they enjoy being!

I, Don Murillo, have approved this message!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Among the best and wisest, no doubt.

Today, I spent a lot of time thinking back to the early 1980s and Dubuque, Iowa, and what came after.

Dubuque was where I first met Gordon Speck.

We lost Gordon today. And what a day for it. With all that's going on lately, with one of the worst examples of a human male dominating our media, the loss of one of the truest gentlemen I ever met hit all the harder.

Gordon Speck, and his partner in Sherlockian crime Bill Cochran, were among the Sherlockian friends I met at a Dubuque Sherlockian conference way back when, and let me tell you . . . as much as I love the bunch of them, Gordon always stood out.

Gordon was one of those people who made you a better person, both by example and by the respect and kindness in how he treated you. And everybody else, with a few rare exceptions. I was lucky enough to share more than a few adventures with Gordon, and even at the most frustrating of moments, like when one of our more eccentric Sherlockian drivers crashed into Gordon's car in the most ridiculous way I ever saw, Gordon remained patient, generous, and kind.

We all have those people who come first to mind when we hear "Sherlockians are the best people," and Gordon was one of mine.  We usually use Holmes's words "Stand we me here upon the terrace . . ." to honor our dead in Sherlockian circles, but given this moment and the un-gentleness out there in the world, I don't think I want to just stand with Gordon's memory. I think maybe it's time to do as Holmes and Watson do in the rest of "His Last Bow:" They leave the terrace, get in the car, and head off to take a friend out into a world that needs their services more than ever. Taking a friend, or even the memory of a friend like Gordon out into the world is definitely something worth doing.

Because if memories of Gordon Speck inspire an occasional moment of emulating his example out there, well, that won't be a bad thing at all.

On we go, Gordon. Thanks.

The Trump of the Baskervilles.

It finally occurred to me this morning how America's current political situation finds a parallel in the Sherlockian Canon: We are living in the nightmare early portions of The Hound of the Baskervilles.

You know the early parts of The Hound of the Baskervilles, of course. A demon hound is terrifying the locals of Dartmoor, roaming the countryside, and actually causes one guy's death. Note that I don't say "kills a guy" because the mythical dog in the tale causes him to fall off a cliff from his own fear. The man was a convicted murderer who probably would have faced down a plain old dog, no matter how vicious, had he not been stirred up by tales of a local demon.

The Hound of the Baskervilles, like so many ghost stories, only becomes a threat because people are willing to believe a myth -- that a common dog is somehow more powerful and more magical that it actually is. And many of the folk of Dartmoor probably actively choose to believe the myth -- having a demon from Hell in their neighborhood helps support their beliefs in a demon's prime opponent. Others are surely just so disgusted with the state of Dartmoor that they delight in seeing a supposed demon hound creating chaos throughout the countryside. These aren't all just ignorant peasants, though a few surely are. A goodly number of them are making a conscious choice to believe in the Hound of the Baskervilles based on rumors and superficial evidence.

And part of the way The Hound of the Baskervilles works is by getting us to buy into the fact that it's an enormous, supernaturally-charged monster as well.

But enter Sherlock Holmes.

Enter observation. Enter reason. Enter determination.

You know that Sherlock would like to just walk onto the moor and go, "It's a dog, you idiots." But he can't just do that. He has to dig in, find the exact details of who is encouraging this myth, how they're doing it, and get everyone settled down . . . though you know, even after he does that, there are still some Dartmoor residents who still clung to the myth of the Hound, for whatever personal reasons they had.

But here's the thing. Sherlock Holmes never once . . . not once . . . thought it was anything close to the powerful creature built up in the minds of the locals. Proof of this? Where does Sherlock Holmes stay from the first minute he arrives in Dartmoor? Out on the moor itself.

Sherlock Holmes knows the Hound of the Baskervilles is utter bullshit, or else he wouldn't be spending his nights on its home turf. Holmes just has to get everyone else on board with the reality of the situation.

So, here we are in America this election cycle with a mangey pooch all puffed up like a local demon legend. Some folks are shouting, "GO HOUND, GO! GET THOSE BASKERVILLES!" Others are living in the fear that this might be life in Dartmoor from now on. But Sherlock Holmes . . . Sherlock would take one look and go, "It's a dog, you idiots."

Pointed post-note: The grim irony in this metaphor is that the "curse of the Hound" started with a man who thought he could treat women like property and the legendary demon hound came up from Hell to drag the son of a bitch back there. But like all fairy tales, there's a happy justice there that we just wish was a reality. As we haven't seen any demon hounds come up to drag a similar brute back to Hell this week, we can pretty much be sure that the Hound of the Baskervilles doesn't actually exist.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Hamilton . . . . oh, yeah . . .

If you've been attending any venues like 221B Con, it was very hard to miss the rise of the Broadway musical Hamilton, even if you're a less-travelled Peorian whose only chance to experience such things is soundtrack albums and a tour some ten years after the thing hits. Thanks to the younger, hipper Sherlockians we have now, I happily discovered at least the audio portion of the hit in under two years of its debut, which is a small miracle.

But what the heck does it have to do with Sherlock Holmes?

Well, nothing really, I thought. As cool as it it, it's like Harry Potter -- we have to draw our own connections, which Sherlockians have been doing with non-Sherlockian things they love for nearly a century now. But, boy, was I wrong . . . and kind of stupid. It was staring me in the face all along.

Thankfully, Twitter and one of my favorite Three Patch Podcasters, Caroline, got me on track this morning with this tweet:

Oh, yeah . . . Alexander Hamilton Garrideb . . . he's in the Canon.

Suddenly, John Garrideb, Counsellor at Law, con artist, and attempted Watson-murderer, takes on a whole new cache. We can adapt his brief tale of Alexander Hamilton Garrideb's rise in real estate and wheat commodities into a wonderful musical rap number.

John Garrideb, a.k.a. Killer Evans, a.k.a.James Winter, a.k.a Morecroft, suddenly becomes the coolest villain in the Canon, because he actually must have been an Alexander Hamilton fan to use that name on his created Garrideb character. And what the heck, his name was freakin' MORECROFT, a combo of Mycroft and Moriarty that was the original shipping name . . . what, a shipping name for Mycroft and Moriarty in the actual Doyle Canon? The universe explodes!

And "James Winter" is a pretty cool name as well, no pun intended. "Winter is coming." Whoa.

I don't know who got "Three Garridebs" in Chris Redmond's About Sixty, but if they didn't jump on this guy as the coolest Canonical dude ever, they missed a bet.

And Evans/Winter/Garrideb/Morecroft, the rapping/shipping American, almost brought down the full emotional wrath of Sherlock Holmes for putting a bullet in Watson, one of those "almosts" in the Doyle Canon that we'd all secretly liked to have seen take a dark turn just to see what Holmes was capable of, beyond just smacking him in the head with a pistol.

So, Hamilton . . . we do get these occasional surges in Sherlockian fandom that seem unrelated at first. But you have to be very careful before declaring their complete lack of connection, because you may be missing something very obvious . . . like an Alexander Hamilton fan right in one of your favorite Sherlock Holmes stories.

(And on a day like today in American politics, we need all the distractions that such a wonderful character can bring!)

Friday, October 7, 2016

Thaddeus Sholto isn't Mace Windu either, ya crazies.

Fan theories. Strong reaction to fan theories.

It seems funny now to think back to tales of the 1940s, when a fan theory like "Dr. Watson was really a lady" had to be written up as a paper and presented to a banquet dinner of fans, who then, as legend would have it, picked up the reader of said paper and threw him out of the building and into the snow.

A single rebuttal to said fan theory was eventually written up and published in a quarterly journal well over a year later. And that was good enough.

It made me laugh to think back to Rex Stout's somewhat dated classic essay "Watson Was A Woman" this morning after watching the viral "Snoke Isn't Mace Windu Ya Crazies" video on a popular Star Wars theory. (Which you don't need to watch, unless you're into Star Wars.) How far we've come.

The idea that one fan had to write up his theory in a little article, present that little article to a fan club . . . in person . . . and listen to the cat-calls (Google it, kids. Twenty-three skiddoo!) from a handful of people while letting his dinner digest . . . well, it seems positively horse-and-buggy now.

And yet, there was a gentle pleasantry to it. Both the presentation and the strong reaction to it were surrounded by laughter and everyone parted friends at the end. Because they were all in the same room.

Fandom has evolved a lot since then, with the internet empowering a single voice to spread into as many homes as network TV news once did. You don't have to consider your thoughts enough to formally put them on to a sheet of paper in the form your grammar teacher drilled into you, travel to a club meeting and speak those thoughts aloud, as we had to do back in the 1980s. (Yes, this wasn't just back in the days of the "W.W." wars . . . this happened in the age of music videos.) Now you can get a thought in your head, record it on the camera and microphone available on about any computer or phone, and broadcast it instantly. And have thousands of other fans react to it instantly.

Which means we not only get crazier, less-considered fan theories, we also get entire political movements growing up behind them before they can fully be thought out. The "I like it, it must by true!" initial reaction becomes hardened like concrete, and by the time reasoned analysis comes along, the head-canon bunker has been built to defend said fan theory. And disagreements happen.

Of course, unlike the day of Rex Stout and his at-the-time gender-bending scandalous theory and those that came for decades and decades after, these days, it all can all happen without the friendly laughter of fan comrades gathered in a big room. Which has been the cost of our new internet powers . . . by the time fans gather in a big room at a con, their fan stance on a theory has pretty well been locked in and battle lines drawn. And though most can still laugh off a fan theory as a fan theory, even at that point, those few diehard extremists on said theory may have already been born and strapped the explosive rhetoric to their chest before showing up.

These days, I don't think Rex Stout would have been thrown out in the snow for daring utter a Sherlockian theory that went against the mindset of the time. I suspect he would have run from the building of his own accord, after the venom that followed, including some commentary on how someone with a stupid pointy beard shouldn't be talking about things anyway.

One of the wonderful benefits of youth is that one doesn't get haunted by these historical perspectives on "these days." But there you have it. If you don't get it now, you will one day. Only you'll probably be doing a video blog then, and not all this bothersome typing on a keyboard business.

Ye gods, I am aged. Never mind.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Brad's speckled bedtime story for tonight.

I've already commented on what a weird week it's been. But rather than wallow in the muck tonight, I'm thinking we all need something a little more soothing. So I've decided to tell you all a bedtime story. So put on your jammies, brush your teeth, get a drink, and tuck yourself in, 'cause it's time to hear a story about our good friend Mr. Sherlock Holmes.

Once upon a time, Sherlock Holmes and his friend Johnny Watson were all snug in their beds, just like you are now, when a knock came on their door!

The nice lady, Mrs. Hudson, heard the knock and went out to see who it was. And do you know who it was? A shivery girl named Helen Stoner!

Well, Mrs. Hudson, nice lady that she is, brought Helen Stoner in to sit on a chair and gave her a mug of hot cocoa. Then she got another mug of hot cocoa and went into Sherlock's room, and ever-so-gently nudged his shoulder. Well, Sherlock, being the sort of fellow that pays attention to everything, had already smelled the cocoa, and had started to wake up. Mrs. Hudson told him about the shivery girl and went to get more cocoa for Johnny Watson.

Sherlock went in to wake Johnny up, because he knew his friend would rather here about a girl coming to visit than have cocoa when he woke up. But Johnny thought that the house was on fire before Sherlock could tell him! Lucky for them, Johnny didn't get too excited about things like the house being on fire, so he didn't run out of the house right away like you or I might have done, or even spill Sherlock's cocoa.

Sherlock and Johnny went out to where Helen was sitting and introduced themselves, Sherlock making himself look as smart as he could, so Helen knew she came to the right place.

Helen told Sherlock and Johnny what had happened to her identical twin sister Julia Stoner.

One dark and stormy night, the howling wind was keeping Helen from staying fast asleep. She had her own room and her sister Julia had a room of her own, too, so Helen didn't know if Julia was awake as well, until she suddenly heard a very loud "Eeek!" from her sister's room.

Helen went down the hall to see what was the matter, and Julia came running out of her room yelling, "Somebody put a speckled band on my head! Somebody put a speckled band on my head!" Julia ran down the hall, and down the stairs, and out the front door, and nobody ever saw her again!

"Did she have her regular clothes on?" Sherlock Holmes asked Julia, since a person planning on leaving the house puts their regular clothes on, instead of wearing their pajamas.

"Did your sister have a boyfriend?" Johnny Watson asked Helen, because Johnny liked to know those things.

"No and yes," Helen replied. "And I have a boyfriend now, too!"

Sherlock Holmes asked Helen who else lived in her house.

"A cheetah, a baboon, a housekeeper, some gypsies who camp in the yard, and a Grimesby Roylott. And here he comes now!"

Grimesby Roylott, who was a great big man with a big black hat and a bird-face, came running into the room shouting bad names at Sherlock Holmes.

"I'm going to bend your fireplace poker!" Grimesby then told Sherlock, and he did.

"I'll bend it back," Sherlock Holmes told Grimesby, and HE did.

Then Sherlock Holmes pushed the fireplace poker back at Grimesby's chest, and a speckled snake, that had been in Grimesby's pocket the whole time, got scared and came out of Grimesby's pocket.

The speckled snake slithered up Grimesby's shoulder to get away from the fireplace poker, and up over Grimesby's left ear, and then wrapped itself around Grimesby's big black hat.

"Behold, a speckled band on his head!" Sherlock Holmes announced.

And Grimesby Roylott ran out of the house and was never seen again.

The nice lady, Mrs. Hudson, made a big breakfast for everyone, and Julia Stoner, who was passing by in her pajamas, smelled the breakfast and came in to see if she could have some, too. Julia and Helen hugged and called their boyfriends and got married that very day.

So Sherlock Holmes and Johnny Watson solved another mysterious case. The End.

Goodnight, everybody! Sleep well and have happy dreams!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

We need Sherlock Holmes now more than ever.

Things are getting weird.

An American presidential race where the fiction seems to matter more than the facts. Open debates on science as just another belief system. And this freaky thing where people are forming lynch mobs to look for clowns, based on a social media bogey man going viral.

And Benedict Cumberbatch is talking about a potential end to his days as Sherlock as his reputation grows as a comic book sorcerer.

For at least ten years, I've had this theory about Sherlock Holmes and Harry Potter, speaking of Holmes and magic. Sherlock Holmes's original rise was at a time when science, technology, and the power of knowledge where on the rise. Sherlock stood as a champion of the fact that reason and intellect could solve any puzzle. Harry Potter, on the other hand, came to as at a crucial moment when technology began to pass beyond most folks' understanding. Sure, I can use words to tell you about cell signals and towers, but I might as well be saying magic pulses and ley obelisk frames for all I truly know of the science. "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic," as Arthur C. Clarke once wrote, and Harry Potter has surely helped our transition to technologies beyond our ken.

We're not those simple Star Trek natives who lost control of their own tech and started worshipping it as a god just yet. But look around at some of the belief systems rising up while technocrats keep raising their game, and it seems a lot like Captain Kirk might need to come have a talk with our great-great-great-grandchildren.

The mighty Cumberbatch's transition from the great detective to a great magician seems just a wee bit of an omen of that sort of magic-believing future, in a way. Especially when people start doing things fearing a national blight of woodland clowns.

So what do we do when things get really weird? When the clowns show up at the forest's edge?

We summon up Sherlock Holmes. Not using any magical means, just in our memories and in our approaches. We remember what Sherlock Holmes stood for, and what he stood against.

Let others believe a hellhound can curse a family for generations, while we attempt to shine a light on the true cause of the problem.  While some might get tempted by popular applause to believe their own hype, be more like Sherlock Holmes and explain your methods to Watson and the Yard rather than letting them think you a wizard. And like Sherlock Holmes, when it came to the Yard, keep patiently correcting their mistakes as needed to make the world a better place . . . the Yard came around eventually.

Yes, I'm going to see Marvel's Dr. Strange in my local theater come November. And probably that new Potter thing, too. And taking to a few haunted trails or houses later this month. But in my heart of hearts, I'm always going to be keeping Sherlock Holmes ready and waiting.

Because if people are getting scared of forest Bozos, it's definitely consulting detective time!

Monday, October 3, 2016

The Seven Deadly Feels of Sherlockiana.

One of the worthwhile Sherlockians I know posted his to-do list on social media tonight, and I really had to sigh in . . . well, a different sort of emotion that I know other Sherlockians have as well now and then. But how to define it? I actually had to start working my way through the list.

Was it envy?

I mean, it's easy to be envious of so many Sherlockians' accomplishments. We are an accomplished bunch. Any talent you'd care to name, from painting to singing to internet-personality-building, someone out there in Sherlock Holmes fandom is good at it. And there has always been the collecting side of it, where we admire the rarities and specialized little groups of things Sherlockians put together. A bit of pleasant jealousy is a common Sherlockian emotion.

But nobody envies a to-do list. That's work.

Was it inadequacy?

While it might not be your particular problem, I know many a Sherlockian who every now and then would wonder if they were measuring up in the hobby. Not because of those few trolls who try to define a "real Sherlockian" or a "true fan." But just because there are so many impressive Holmes fans out there. I have suspicions that the B.S.I. shilling evolved as a mechanism so a Sherlockian who needed it badly enough could finally have an excuse to quit wondering if they were living up to their Sherlockian potential. A bar was needed to get over, and the shilling was that bar.

Was it curiosity?

We know so much these days. And when we come across something we don't know, and can't know, nor find with a Google search, it vexes us. And it should! We're Sherlockians, we're all about the mystery. But creators need time and space and privacy to create, as the makers of BBC Sherlock are so painfully aware. A creator's to-do list is just the sort of morsel that leaves one's curiosity hungry for more. I suppose I could write fanfic about my friend's activities to fill that void, as it's a great method for surviving a hiatus, but that might get a bit weird . . . .

Was it loneliness?

I would suspect most of us have had that moment where one feels alone in a crowd. At a big party, an event like a wedding, or even just being barraged by all the "voices" of the internet. Sherlock Holmes was an outsider, a loner, and has been known to attract same. The entire joy of the Holmes-Watson relationship is that finding of a true friend to stand beside you through both quiet moments and rampaging turbulence in your life. Seeing all the contacts other Sherlockians make out there, as reflected in even as simple a thing as a to-do list can trigger a stray moment of isolation.

Was it obsession?

With a serious love of Sherlock Holmes comes a drive to do all things Sherlock. Gather a group. Write a novel. Record a podcast. Draw a cartoon. Make one of Mrs. Hudson's hypothetical recipes. Play the violin. Document every instance of X in the Canon. Make a short video. Visit Reichenbach Falls. Cosplay. Get the autographs of every living member of the Norwegian Explorers of Minnesota. Make a clay bust of Napoleon with a pearl in it. Learn fencing. Wear a disguise. Read a Morley novel. Document all animal Sherlocks in cartoon or comic form. Role play online. Obsess over every possible tribute one can make to the Great Idol of Baker Street.  Seeing another Sherlockian's to-do list feeds the obsession . . . and that only makes the obsession open its mouth wider for a bigger bite.

Was it sadness?

Benedict Cumberbatch said "It might be the end of an era. It feels like the end of an era, to be honest," in the British GQ magazine. Sure that has nothing to do with to-do lists, but it certainly does put a pall in the air. If the thought of BBC Sherlock seeing its final season doesn't make you the least bit sad, well, you're probably one of those folks who's proud of their out-of-the-main tastes, so you just go on being proud while the rest of us are sad.

Was it regret?

Regret at starting this blog with the title "The Seven Deadly Feels of Sherlockiana" and then having to come up with seven whole downer experiences just to fill out a blog post? Well, that didn't really come along until after Feel #3, so it's ruled out as a suspect for not being at the crime scene. And the words, "at the crime scene" make me flash back to my recent binge-watch of Luke Cage on Netflix, which brings up guilt for spending thirteen hours on a hero besides Sherlock Holmes . . . only I've used regret as the seventh Feel, so I now can't use guilt.

Being a non-sociopathic Sherlockian can sure put you through an emotional workout some days. Our hobby is, and should be, a place of strong feelings for us, which is naturally going to have a dark side as well as a light one. The joy that Sherlockiana brings surely must outshine every one of the negative factors above (and probably a few more) or none of us would be here.

Every one of those Seven Deadly Feels of Sherlockiana has a counterpart . . . a Life-giving Feel of Sherlockiana. Empathy, pride, curiosity (its own light side), camaraderie, laughter, joy, and satisfaction. And Sherlockians tend to write about those a whole lot more than the other bunch, because they are, truly, why we are here. We can't forget the others exist, though, innoculating ourselves and our friends against them as often as possible with the lighter balance of the Sherlockian "Force."

And once one remembers all of those latter things, whatever that initial feeling was that sparked this little entry in the blog diary seems kind of inconsequential to me, so I guess that's the lesson here.

Always remember the good stuff. Even when some joker writing a blog decides to tour the bad.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

E5:1. Elementary shared delusions.

EDITOR'S NOTE: At his request, Don Murillo, the "Tiger of San Pedro" and "the most Canonical man in the Canon, will be reviewing CBS's Elementary for Sherlock Peoria this season. As the rest of the staff at Sherlock Peoria quit watching the show last season, we could not help but take advantage of his generous offer, spoilers and all. Take it away, Don Murillo! (No, really. Take it far away.)

Let Don Murillo begin his review of this new fifth season of Elementary by saying this: I am one who never believed the media conspirators who have put forth that Joan Watson was a man named John. The corrupt Conan Doyle was paid handsomely by the media barons of Mrs. Beeton's Christmas Annual, Lipincott's, and The Strand Magazine to alter Joan's writings starting in 1887, an industry of falsehood that was passed on from generation to generation to this day! Even such female transcribers of Watson's discovered notes have betrayed their own gender with this myth, going so far as to detail Watson's use of a penis all across the internet! Joan Watson had no penis!

And yet, as a gentleman of culture, I cannot relate how it is I know this to be true.

So it is that I, Don Murillo, greet with all joy, CBS television's five-year campaign to expose the truth to American without exposing the Watsonian genitalia! And what is it that these champions of the Watson present to Don Murillo this October of 2016?

An exploding football! Not one of those oddly shaped American footballs, but a true football, as the Canonical Mr. Godfrey Staunton played! Canonical!

And el Sherlocko de Nuevo York is climbing upon a ledge with a suicidal murderer. And Joan Watson, she appears, so that she may deal with this criminal with her non-phallic weapon! They follow this success by joining Captain Gregson and Marcus Bell at the new football crime scene, all before the opening credits!

El Sherlocko makes the squinty face upon seeing a gawker at the crime scene and a foot chase through scenic parts of New York, only to be hit by a car . . . that Canonical vehicle we all remember from "His Last Bow." It gives him a cut upon his head, just as Sherlock Holmes suffered a head wound in "The Illustrious Client," a story Elementary draws much from. (Only a fool would waste his Conan Doyle Estate licensing fees on the Adventures or Memoirs!)

"It is almost five years since you committed to becoming a detective!" Joan's Sherlocko tells her, calling out her careers as a doctor, a sober companion, and now a consulting detective to ask if she intends to continue this career. Before she can follow that line of reasoning, they are called to question the gawker who had escaped, later caught by Gregson and Bell. Joan will continue as a detective this season, it seems!

Joan's course in the bombing investigation has her looking up Shinwell Johnson, who we also remember from the Canon, now a professional spit-bucket-emptier since his latest term of prison. While not Canonically mentioned in the Canon, spit-bucket-emptying of the 1800s was once celebrated in a classic Saturday Night Live skit, so Don Murillo will accept it as fair adaptation. Don Murillo is a truly generous man! Just ask the people of San Pedro!

And now, a newly classic line, as classic as when Canonical Joan met Canonical Sherlock:

"Mr. Johnson, I presume," Sherlocko says upon meeting Shinwell Johnson, and they share their common histories of drugs, being shot, and having the funny names. Well, at least el Sherlocko does this. Shinwell Johnson seems doubtful about the value of spending time with Joan's partner. Shinwell is rightfully interested in how Joan changed from a doctor to a detective . . . plainly he was not watching the previous four seasons of this show in prison.

As with all the Canonical people of Elementary, el Sherlocko is overly curious as to Joan's emotional ties to Shinwell Johnson, and they must discuss this, as well as more doubts upon Joan's dedication to continuing her current career. This Sherlocko seems to possess less self esteem than the one I met in the Canon. Don Murillo does not know why this is so, as he gets to see the inestimable Joan Watson in her nighclothes on a regular basis, as he does again this season -- Don Murillo's favorite part of every Elementary episode! Does Don Murillo have the crush upon Joan Watson? Don Murillo is a man, is he not?

"I miss helping people," Joan Watson admits to her Sherlocko in this episode. "Now you and me, we're in the punishment business."

Oh, do not say that Joan Watson! This show is Don Murillo's pleasure, not punishment! (And Don Murillo is not the sort of man who mixes the two!)

"Flushing is never going to be safe! Never!" a villain declares at the dramatic peak of this week's episode, leaving the younger of Don Murillo's daughters nervous about pressing the toilet handle during this commercial break, and Don Murillo hopes Joan and El Sherlocko can make flushing safe before the end of the hour. The cook has been very creative in his work this week, and, excuse Don Murillo, as he is getting off the subject with olfactory worries.

El Sherlocko is chewing gum in an attempt to improve his mental powers to make Flushing safe. Which he does, along with Joan and Marcus Bell after much talking in the interrogation room, which is where Elementary saves many dollars on location filming, surely so that Joan may have more fine clothes. Don Murillo only wishes they had said specifically, "Flushing is safe!" for the benefit of his youngest daughter, who still seems nervous over toilet tank explosions.

Joan pays a final call on Shinwell Johnson, at the episode's end, to ask him to go for a walk, as she has decided to help him improve his life to fill the void of not helping people in her life. Don Murillo wishes that it was he who lived in New York, so Joan could help him improve his life. Admittedly, Don Murillo does not live in "Hell, London" as Canonical Shinwell Johnson, or "Hell, New York" as Elementary Shinwell Johnson surely must. But Joan Watson could improve anyone's life, much as the Mary Tyler Moore could take a nothing day and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile.

Is Elementary the modern Mary Tyler Moore Show? Don Murillo wonders this.

Fortunately, Don Murillo has a new season of Elementary to find this out, along with Shinwell Johnson.