Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Niches within niches

What's your Sherlockian specialty? What's that corner of Sherlock Holmes lore you're into that most Sherlockians aren't . . . but, oh, those rare few that are!

Sherlock Holmes is one of those parts of our culture that most people have a positive feeling about, which is why he's a part of our culture. But those who cross over into fandom, a passage marked by the act of actually seeking him out rather than just smiling when he appears, are but a small, small percentage of the populace. A niche market within the mystery genre market, some would say.

But if Sherlockiana is a niche within the mystery niche, how far down do the "niche" groupings go?

There are certain parts of Sherlockian culture that one would definitely call "mainstream" Sherlockiana. If your screen Sherlock of choice is Jeremy Brett or Benedict Cumberbatch, those are definitely mainstream Sherlocks. If you attend the NYC weekend every January, there is a venerable old mainstream of Sherlockiana to that. If you hold that Vincent Starrett's poem "221B" is the poem in a field where we don't do all that much poetry . . . well, mainstream.

I have to stop now, as I'm starting to sound like Jeff Foxworthy: "You MIGHT be a Sherlockian if . . ."  Yet while our mainstream connects us, it is always our niches within a niche hobby that makes us interesting. None of us can dive deep into every aspect of Sherlock Holmes, so we depend upon our fellow Sherlockians to go those distances for us and report back. It can be that one person willing to research puddings and write it up for publication, or it can be that one friend who travels to the conferences we can't get to. The lowest level of Sherlockian niches within niches can even be a Holmes fascination you share with only one other friend . . . and you're still waiting to find that friend. But when you do, oh! They will be so happy.

Sherlock Holmes himself was on the road less taken. He picked a path that didn't guarantee him popularity or success. And at first, the connections with others he made were with people that didn't entirely get it -- Lestrade or Gregson loved the results, but didn't get the brilliant methods behind them at all. Eventually, however. Sherlock found his John Watson, the guy who understood that what Holmes was doing was way cool. And their little niche of detective work fandom got to be a greater joy for them both.

Sherlockians have always found it easy to model their hobbying after Holmes, and our myriad of different focuses and loves within the greater focus and love of Sherlock fits that pattern nicely. Niches within niches, all the way down.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

A proper fic prompt

The Singular Adventure of Paul Thomas Miller

By John H. Watson, M.D

One cold February night, as I was returning from a patient call in Marylebone, I saw an opportunity to stop in at Baker Street and see my old friend Sherlock Holmes. His minion and landlady, Mrs. Hudson, gladly sent me up the familiar seventeen steps with the glad news that he had already had a full supper that evening, and I found him perched on the mantlepiece, looming over all of the day's newspapers, which he had spread across the floor as was his habit. His vision in those days had become so keen with the powers of a vampiric predator that he neither dim light nor fine print nor a distance of twelve feet were any impairment to his ability to read.

Those eyes sparkled at the sight of me and he smiled, not bothering to hide his fangs.

"Ah, this is a grand evening!" he declared. "Both an intriguing case and my beloved friend appearing within the same hour? I am doubly blessed."

"HAW! HAW! HAW!" came a protest from the bedroom door, and Holmes's husband Maurice came waddling out with his flippers outstretched in warning. Even though theirs was a marriage of convenience arranged for Holmes's brother Mycroft's occult purposes, Maurice still did not enjoy my presence in their home, given my past relationship with his mate.

"This is professional, Maurice," Holmes said in a firm, yet soothing tone. "Dr. Watson will be of great aid to me on this matter of Mr. Paul Thomas Miller's predicament. A simple advertisement he placed in the agony columns of several London papers has caused several individuals to knock themselves out."

"Is that even possible, Holmes?" I asked.

"Only for a skilled pugilist," he replied, and swung his fist up, connecting with his chin and knocking himself off the mantlepiece. He landed, of course with the grace of a cat in front of the hearth. "Were I still human, that would have rendered me unconscious. Still, you see the technique."

"Impressive!" I replied.

"HAW! HAW! HAW!" barked Maurice, plainly seeing that as a flirtatious comment.

"Mr. Miller, it seems, has recently returned from the deepest jungles of South America, pursuing the missing link," Holmes continued, "and feels that the ads were meant for him in some way. We should speak to him at once, if you are not otherwise occupied."

"My rounds are finished, and my house is currently a bachelor establishment, so I see no impediment," I replied.

Minutes later, Holmes and I were in a hansom cab, rattling down Regent Street, with Mrs. Hudson calming Maurice with some fresh squid in our wake.

(These stories are so much easier to start than to solve, aren't they? In any case, the preceding was spawned by the below pair of tweets today.)

Saturday, November 17, 2018

That annual January ritual returns

Folks do love a ritual.

There is an instinct in us, seen so clearly in babies and tots, that when something delights us, we want to do it again. And again. And again. Until the weight of repetition makes it no longer delightful and we become angry that it's just not the same. We see this in entertainment all the time, with big franchises like Star Wars or Harry Potter, whose oldest fans oft become their worst critics.

Looking to repeat the high of first love is always a doomed exploit, and most of us know this. But there's a more comfortable level of repetition that holds our institutions together, the "this worked once, so let's keep doing it." There's a comfort in regularity, and some things, like gravity and time, tend to function reliably well, and we can base our habits around them. There's no greater security than "If I do A, then B happens next."

But humans are not exactly as reliably the same as something gravity would seem to be. Generations shift. Our technology changes us. Our creative arts change us. And those who love the ritual will fight hard against those changes, carving out a pocket where their thing will survive, often with weird traditions that become a bit cartoonish over the years. Take the Kentucky Derby, for example. Horse racing is not nearly as popular as NASCAR at this point. Yet it has found its pocket, and has its one day of the year for big hats and mint juleps. Part of the ritual.

The annual members letter detailing the upcoming Baker Street Irregulars weekend arrived in inboxes this morning, an event that always makes me a bit philosophical. And it should, as the BSI's benevolent dictator often gets a little philosophical in the letter itself. I have long disagreed with him on a few points, but as I'm often reminded by others when I bring those points up, "It's his club."

The ritual goes on, though, and as the BSI dinner becomes something of a "Kentucky Derby" event for locals and those who can afford to find a place there, both in financial cost and being the the "appropriate" sort of person to merit an invitation, change comes slowly. "It takes a while to turn a train," as one wise soul once told me, and living in a place where a good many of our railroad tracks have been turned into hiking trails brings certain knowledge that sometimes trains don't turn. Some evolve into something else, while some, like the annual Polar Express, become a yearly novelty item.

Folks do love ritual, whether it's a religious service or a margarita on Cinco de Mayo. And watching them evolve takes a lot of patience, but it's kind of fascinating from a distance. Which, for some of us, is just a better vantage point.

Friday, November 16, 2018

The detective world of Sherlock Holmes

Characters like Sherlock Holmes or Harry Potter don't come along every day, even for their creators.

With this weekend bringing a second "Harry Potter" movie that doesn't include Harry himself, one starts to muse on a world where Sir Arthur Conan Doyle somehow followed the path of J. K. Rowling. It's well known that Doyle wanted to quit writing about Sherlock Holmes at at least one famous point in his career. But technology had not made it to the point where screenwriting was a valid career choice for a successful writer in Doyle's era, and given his attempts at breaking into playwriting, you know he's have been into screenwriting in a heartbeat.

And if movie adaptations had turned his popular literary character into a box office bonanza for Hollywood, combine that with wanting to get away from Sherlock and Doyle's love of history and you get . . . .

A prequel.

A Sherlock Holmes prequel.

Finding some way to put Brigadier Gerard into "the detective world of Sherlock Holmes," Doyle could have made Gerard his Newt Scamander. Or would it have been Professor George Edward Challenger who first appeared in a movie script from Doyle's pen, rather than a book? Or both? And more!

In any case, it's hard to imagine Doyle turning down a payday from simply putting a character he was going to write anyway into "the detective world of Sherlock Holmes." And suddenly Sherlockians would have new questions of "Canon" and "not-Canon" to consider.

A Conan Doyle shared universe is still something a clever writer might concoct, if one hasn't already. But the market to make it as big as Rowling's has long passed -- Sherlock is huge, but Doyle has suffered the fate of all writers, passing from "popular" to "classic." He can't surprise us with a new book or screenplay at this point, and that surprise is part of what makes marketing fall in love with a creator.

Still, it's fun to imagine what might have been in "the detective world of Sherlock Holmes."

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Be the Sherlockalypse nigh?

The harbinger of the Sherlockalypse appeared on Twitter this morning.

I directly questioned him directly, as one must with such creatures.

"Are your the Anti-Jay-Finley-Christ, here to bring about the Sherlockalypse?"

And his reply was an occult phrase that was surely the incantation "T'aris heah'shu s'pa getion maf owin!" rendered as English by Siri. You don't want to know what that corresponds to in the Anti-Jay-Finley-Christ's Extremely Long Names For The Tales of His Dark Canon. You don't. Trust me.

I sincerely hope I was mistaken in all of this.

For if it was the true A.J.F.C., we could only surmise from his appearance that the Four Hansoms of the Sherlockalypse are nigh. and that their passengers,  Illiteracy, Mal-adaptation, Repetition, and Tedium will soon bear down upon us. And woe! WOE, I say! Woe will be we, the Sherlockian world who faces that dismal doom.

For truly, the Sherlockalypse is beyond all our ken. To imagine a world that not only has no Sherlock Holmes, with all that came from the Canon we know, ripped from our bosoms, with his legend perverted and twisted into an unrecognizable form, leaving us mentally clutching that shriveled and brainless plastic thing representing the remains of our greatest literary love . . . it is a vision that only a madman's brain could contain for the most fleeting of seconds before even he collapsed beneath its other-worldly weight.

Excuse me, I had to pick myself up off the floor again. Where was I?

Oh, yes . . .

The floor. Have to stop that.

Anyway, it's forty more days until Holmes and Watson with Will Ferrell comes out in theaters, sure to be his biggest Christmas treat since Elf. And I know I'm just as excited about it as all the rest of the Sherlockian world, so much so that I try to get into the heads of some other Sherlockians sometimes, just to expand my anticipation of what's going to be a earth-shaking delight with their shivers of excitement as well.

It's coming!

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Let's talk about dictators.

To John H. Watson, he was always the dictator.

The only one the good doctor ever wrote of, "the most lewd and bloodthirsty tyrant that had ever governed any country with a pretence to civilization," the man they called the Tiger of San Pedro.

Watson lived in a pre-Hitler era, when people didn't have that over-used tag to throw on a purely evil tyrant. It's interesting that Watson does not compare Don Murillo, the aforementioned Tiger, to any world leader of the past. But as a writer, he was still able to describe hime well enough.

"Strong, fearless, and energetic, he had sufficient virtue to enable him to impose his odious vices upon a cowering people for ten or twelve years."

Interesting statement that -- even the sleaziest of bullies must have something for someone to admire, as no many can take leadership of a country without the cooperation of somebody else in that country. Some army must follow him. Some key people must find some profit in him. One man is just one man. And with no support from anyone else, any one man will fail.

And eventually, after more than a decade as "a terror through all Central America," there was what Watson describes as "a universal rising against him." Armies quit following. Key people found no more profit in him.

Dictators eventually run their course, whether they're cast as "benevolent" or "blood-thirsty." We haven't developed immortality as yet, and even when we do, no one thing remains consistently popular or functional forever. And any one man can inevitably be replaced by some other man (or woman). If a dictator like Don Murillo is bright enough to see what's in the cards, he gathers his resources and escapes while he still has the power to pull it off. But even then, one has to be careful just how many people are looking to get their revenge or justice for the abuses of power.

It's funny how we often see dictators the way Miss Burnet suggested that Sherlock Holmes saw Don Murillo: "To you they are like crimes committed in some other planet." (Side note: Even though it may seem odd that a Victorian governess thought about life on other planets, people have had that thought going back at least to ancient Greece, almost considering other worlds the way we thing of parallel universes today.) In other words, "it can't happen here."

And maybe it won't in our lifetimes, though one could see how it might as barons of politic and corporation work to ensure their power. But even in the Sherlockian Canon, the rise and fall of Don Murillo, with that fun title of "the Tiger of San Pedro," gives us a vision of how that tends to work out.

And why we like honest fellows like John H. Watson so much better when all is said and done. The ones who remember what a dictator was like when they hear of him.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

A pikachu wears the hat

Ah, it's cranky old man morning here at Sherlock Peoria. Get ready for it. Here it comes.

Do we really consider Detective Pikachu any sort of interpretation of Sherlock Holmes, just because he's wearing that non-Canonical hat?

He's a talking pikachu. He wears the hat that is synonymous with the profession of detective. But is there anything more Sherlock to him than that?

I like Pokemon a lot. Played three or four of the video games heavily, watched the cartoons when they first came out, even though I was wee bit older than their target market, love Ryan Reynolds movies, and am definitely going to see the Detective Pikachu movie when it comes out. But not because I'm a Sherlockian. Simply because it looks like a fun movie.

My Sherlockian side is going, "C'mon, it's just the damn hat. Are we that desperate for Sherlock Holmes getting noticed as a cultural icon at this point?"

Like I said, cranky old man morning.

People are going to collect something, and Sherlockians picking up little character tchotchkes in deerstalkers is a tradition going back a long long way. I suspect that spoon with ventriloquist dummy Charlie McCarthy in a deerstalker on the handle might be one of the earliest, but I don't know if the question has ever been fully researched: What is the oldest trinket with a non-Sherlock Holmes character wearing a deerstalker?

We've seen the deerstalker on Snoopy, Garfield, Daffy Duck . . . oh, wait, Daffy was in a legitimate Sherlock Holmes parody, wasn't he? Daffy was more in the mode of Will Ferrell's coming Holmes and Watson interpretation, which makes one wonder how many Sherlockians enjoy Daffy but pooh-pooh Ferrell already. Not to be species-ist, but Will Ferrell at least has "human" going for him.

Ah, humans. Few are the humans who don't go negative on something touching their favorite thing at some point, even in their private hearts while pretending it's all good in public. Or maybe it's just me, early in the morning before my cocoa.

Onward to breakfast and less-cranky thoughts!

Monday, November 12, 2018

The Ferrier cycle

Well, it looks like I got caught making a question so tricky that it tricked me, but at least one reader saw through the haze of the alkali plain. It was Jefferson Hope who went through that Baker Street window in A Study in Scarlet, but John Ferrier who converted to a new religion when all other hope was lost in the desert. John Gehan spotted that confluence of characters, and looking back at them made me ponder John Ferrier a little further.

John Ferrier is the only person in the cases of Sherlock Holmes who experiences a religious conversion. One might discount his change of practice, due to the desperate straits he is in when he makes that choice:

"If we take you with us, it can only be as believers in our own creed," a prophet tells Ferrier.

"Guess I'll come with you on any terms," John Ferrier replies. Either he learns a new religion, or he dies . . . a choice very few of us will, hopefully, ever be presented with.

Ferrier doesn't just gain a new religion, he becomes part of a community. When his journey is over, John Ferrier settles into a farm that is equal to any other member of that community. He may have been gay or asexual, as he never took a wife, as much as the rest of the community wished him to. With his wealth and esteem, he surely would have opportunities to find a very desirable partner. Yet he didn't. But that wasn't his turning point.

John Ferrier is told that his faith is being tested when he's asked to force his daughter to marry within the religion, the sort of act an occasional parent still would like to try, to this day. If you take away all the references to a particular faith, his tale does not lose any of its effect. The question of whether it is his faith being tested, or merely his subservience to a power structure, may exist as long as humans do. And even though his daughter's marriage is the breaking point for Ferrier's relationship with the community he lives in, it's not the first time he thought about leaving it.

"I don't care about knuckling under to any man, as these folks do to their darned prophet. I'm a free-born American, and it's all new to me. Guess I'm too old to learn."

John Ferrier was fiesty enough to demonstrate that he was a man who definitely believed in something, but that belief wound up separating him from the community of believers he had spent so much time in. And in that, his tale doesn't even have to be one of religion . . . it could be a fandom at that point. Or a given part of a fandom, which can be as consuming to some as a religion might be to others.

There is a tragedy at the heart of A Study in Scarlet, and John Ferrier is at the heart of that tragedy. He is a man who tries to break free of a community he joined in hope of a future, only to find he had just delayed his fate, and that of his adopted daughter. Their sad tale is merely the spark for an avenger who then inspires a hero . . . said hero being John Watson, who was inspired to write up this case. Watson's writings spawned believers, and a prophet or two. And one of those prophets might have their own John Ferrier, so the cycle continues.

Perhaps that's taking it a bit far, but who knows? In any case, John Ferrier is just one more of the fascinating characters given life along with Sherlock Holmes, and worth a look now and again.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Canon or Non-Canon?

Been taking a few days off to celebrate my annual festival of self-indulgence, so to prime the pump of getting back to blog-posting mode, here's a little quiz we had fun with at the last gathering of the Sherlock Holmes Story Society at the North Branch Peoria Library. We ran it like a spelling be, and you got to stay in as long as you were one of those with the correct response to each of the following.

Canon or not-Canon? If you have doubts on any of these, put your guess in the comments, and I'll let you know what's what.

1.    A woman shoots a man at least five times and is never arrested for the murder.

2.    A music box hides the secret to a major theft from the Bank of England.

3.    Sherlock Holmes discusses Jack the Ripper.

4.    Holmes and Watson catch some trout.

5.    King Oscar II,  ruler of the combined Sweden and Norway, uses Sherlock Holmes for a confidential matter.

6.    An ex-Mormon crashes through the window at 221B Baker Street.

7.    Watson enjoys a cookie, except it’s called a “biscuit” because it is England.

8.    Sherlock Holmes shows he has read “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving.

9.    A madman in Carfax asylum wants to help convince a woman that her relationship with a nobleman is a very bad thing.

10.   A stair-rod is a rod or strip of metal used to hold a carpet in place on a staircase step.  Dr. Watson once hit another man in the shins with a stair-rod.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

BORRRRRNNNN in a Canon way!

We take a few things for granted as we read the cases of Sherlock Holmes. One of our biggest assumptions, perhaps, is that every single person in the Canon was actually born. I only raise this question because the first birth alluded to in the Canon never happens: "He is after the secretary Stangerson, who had no more to do with the crime than the babe unborn."

Inspector Gregson was undoubtedly speaking of a hypothetical babe unborn, but it suddenly makes me wonder about everybody else in the Canon: Were any of them never born?

Some would say that many of them weren't, and sprang fully-formed from the mind of some almighty creator whose great powers of imaginative detail brought them to life. But many had places of birth: Pershore. New Jersey. London. Greece. Posilippo. Brazil. America. And many had birth years: 1846. 1856. 1840. 1845. (This makes it only possible to do Chinese Zodiac calculations on those four, as far as astrology is concerned, and imperfectly at that: Was Irene Adler truly born in the year of the Horse? No wonder the guys at the stable liked her! Moran in the year of the Rat? Sounds right, he did crawl into a sewer quite handily to chase a tiger once.)

Birth in the Canon seems to define a person, as the phrasing hints at national stereotypes. "Brazilian by birth." "Greek by birth." Perhaps it's national pride, if like Mr. Melas, one is making the statement about one's self. But when Holmes says of Reginald Musgrave, "Something of his birth place seemed to cling to the man . . ." one starts wondering if he might be hinting at smell or something else less than complimentary.

Birth judgments occur: Professor Moriarty had a "good" birth, but Fitzroy Simpson had an "excellent" birth. What's an excellent birth? Personally, I picture Fitzroy strutting out of the birth canal with a top hat and cane, singing "Hello my baby, hello my honey, hello my rag-time gal!" but I'm sure that's just me.

Others seem to be born with a special quality.

Mary Fraser was "born for all that is beautiful and dainty." What all those things are specifically is a good question. Tiny houses and flowers come to mind. Von Bork was a "born sportsman." McMurdo was a "born boon companion."

Poor Inspector Bardle of the Sussex constabulary was treated as a farm animal, as he was "born and bred." Wouldn't "bred and born" be the proper order? Or was Bardle raised to manhood and immediately set to stud by wicked Sussex eugenics proponents?

John H. Watson perhaps had it best, as he was told by one very smart fellow: "My dear Watson, you were born to be a man of action."

And with all of the data above, however, only one person in the Canon has an actual birthday. James Armitage, who celebrated turning twenty-three with chains on, below-decks on a prison ship, and working out that birthday's date is still a challenge. But we at least have evidence that he was born.

Otherwise he might run afoul of the villain Wilson Kemp, who liked to tell people "You had better never have been born." So perhaps there was a secret cabal of those who had never been born in the world of Sherlock Holmes, and if you were a member, you got special privileges from men like Wilson Kemp. They were certainly must not have been good folk like any of those mentioned above.

Or those of us who enjoy a good birthday celebration. So when your birthday rolls around, give Wilson Kemp the finger and accept a big "HAPPY BIRTHDAY!" from me. You must be one of the good ones!

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

The "liberal" candidate

"The recent death of Sir Charles Baskerville, whose name has been mentioned as the probable Liberal candidate for Mid-Devon at the next election, has cast a gloom over the country."

-- The Devon County Chronicle,  May 14th of the year of
The Hound of the Baskervilles

We don't speak much of the political assassination that takes place in The Hound of the Baskervilles.

Apparently, according to the media, Sir Charles Baskerville had raised hopes among the citizens of Dartmoor as the man who was going to Parliament to change things for them. A Conservative Prime Minister, Lord Salisbury, had been in office since 1885. 

Of course, don't relate to such terms as "liberal" and "conservative" by modern standards when dealing with all this. The thing that Salisbury was most charged with early on? Being "in favor of state socialism." But let's hear what Lord Salisbury had to say about that:

"Do not imagine that by merely affixing to it the reproach of Socialism you can seriously affect the progress of any great legislative movement, or destroy those high arguments which are derived from the noblest principles of philanthropy and religion."

Doesn't sound like a modern Conservative at all, does he?

Politics is a very tricky business. You actually have to pay attention to things. You actually have to be like Sherlock Holmes and both use your brain and actually get out there and take action. Somebody has got to make these decisions in the voting booth, and if you're willing to let others do it, you're going to get what you deserve in the end, whether you're observant enough to realize it or not. 

The residents of Dartmoor were politically aware enough to have hopes from Sir Charles Baskerville, and his death before the chance to be elected was probably more on their minds and discussed in the pubs than a silly spooky ghost dog story. They sound like voters to me.

Did Sherlock Holmes vote in elections? His brother was in the government, I suspect he had to just to appease Mycroft, if for no other reason. John Watson definitely was a voter, embodying the best ideals of a solid British citizen. So even if you're not feeling like Sherlock Holmes when considering elections, you can at least feel like John Watson and get out and do the most basic of services for your country. You won't even get a war wound from it.

And unlike the residents of Dartmoor, nobody on your ballot this year probably got assassinated by demonic hound.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Sherlock Holmes Is Not Like

And now, in the interest of balance, a list of sixty beings whom Sherlock Holmes is not like.

1. King Kong
2. Booster Gold
3. Renfield
4. David Hasselhoff
5. Cain
6. Harvey
7. Major Healey
8. Trigger
9. Rapunzel
10. Governor George Wallace
11. Bozo
12. Captain Morgan
13. Mary Sutherland
14. Grendel
15. John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt
16. Mona Lisa
17. Ally McBeal
18. Humpty Dumpty
19. Tarzan
20. Londo Mollari
21. Ted Nugent
22. Stimpy
23. Rodney Dangerfield
24. Hades
25. Rondo Hatton
26. The Garbage Pail Kids
27. Helen of Troy
28. Jim Kelly
29. Calvin Coolidge
30. Milky the Marvelous Milking Cow
31. Rita Repulsa
32. Moroni
33. Sandra Bernhard
34. Babe the Blue Ox
35. Stephen King
36. Captain Jack Harkness
37. Thumbelina
38. John Wayne
39. Thor
40. Chidi Anagonye
41. Whitley Strieber
42. Toonses
43. Jean Claude Van Damme
44. The Colossus of Rhodes
45. Snow White
46. Trix Rabbit
47. Brock Lesnar
48. Lou Costello
49. Pia Zadora
50. Major Tom
51. Peter Brady
52. Yuri Geller
53. William Hung
54. The Star Child from 2001: A Space Odyssey
55. Scrappy Doo
56. Johnson & Johnson
57. Brett Maverick
58. Lady Godiva
59. Buford T. Justice
60. Itsy Bitsy Spider

Consider your palate cleansed.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

The final choice for Miss "Sherlock Holmes Is Like"

Reading sixty essays on why Sherlock Holmes Is Like sixty different other beings in the book of the same name, one can gather some distinctly different insights on the great detective. Trying to make those same sixty beings compete with each other for a Miss "Sherlock Holmes is Like" Crown is a decidedly different mechanism for inspiring insight. And a long and tortured metaphoric mechanism at that.

Now, as Sherlock Peoria comes to the end of its latest run of battling essays, the final round holds these contestants remaining:

Brigadier Gerard, presented by John Baesch.

Professor Henry Higgins, presented by Fran Martin.

Robin Hood, presented by Mark Hanson.

Jonathan Quayle Higgins III, presented by Vincent Wright.

Gandalf the Gray, presented by Tatyana Dybina

Huck Finn, presented by Rob Nunn.

Alexia Tarabotti, presented by Courtney Powers.

Hermione Granger, presented by Amy Thomas.

O.Z. Diggs, the Wizard of Oz, presented by Beth L. Gallego.

Peter Pan, presented by Bob Coghill.

Looking at these ten finalists, one can note two very distinct trends in the judging of Miss "Sherlock Holmes Is Like."  First, that Sherlock Holmes is very much like a magical being, as half of the above have either some magical bits to them, or can fake magic very well. And second, if one remembers the list of sixty as a whole, is that Sherlock Holmes is not like any real person, which actually kind of amplifies the "magical" part.

A third of the finalists are not adults, which says something about the fresh, youthful nature of Sherlock Holmes. As much as he is often seen as an older man, since such sage wisdom as he has is something we like to ascribe to elders of the tribe, Sherlock's curiosity, his ability to come into a situation with the objectivity of an innocent, his enthusiasm and energy -- all those are features like that of a child.

Forty percent of them actually are older chaps who set themselves above their fellow men for one reason of another, with two of those four looking down in what I believe is a much kindlier fashion. Sherlock Holmes is definitely like that.

And, we have a fool. Because anyone as brilliant as Sherlock Holmes knows more than anyone else what a fool they are. (If you don't ever suspect yourself of being a fool, I might have some bad news for you. Sorry.)

With all of the above qualities brought out in looking at commonalities and who seems to fit in the least, but still does, there is one character who stands apart from the rest. One character I haven't really included as yet, and still, one character who Sherlock Holmes is very, very much like. Sixty beings entered this larger-than-Miss-America pageant for Sherlock beauty, and only one can take the crown. And yes, I'd give this one a crown any day.

Because when you sort through all the rest, even if you've already hit the target dead-on, there is one person who can still hit that target even more skillfully than you. Yes, Miss "Sherlock Holmes Is Like" 2018 is . . . . .

Robin Hood.

Sherlock Holmes is literally like Robin Hood, so much so that if Conan Doyle could have written about Robin Hood instead of Sherlock Holmes, I bet he'd have enjoyed it. Fighting British crime, no matter what the station of his opponents. A legend who lives on for centuries. A hero who knows when the laws of the land need to be skirted to do what's right. A loyal band of friends following him gladly into the fray. Good with a sword, but, goddamn, don't we want to see what Sherlock could do with a bow and arrow?

Boy, I hope I didn't spoil Mark Hanson's essay for you with that paragraph, but even if I did, you've got fifty-nine others to buy the book and read. And you'll want to see what else Mark had to say. Thanks to everyone who stuck it through this series of posts, apologies to all the writers who might have gotten a short shrift due to outside circumstances impacting my week, and congratulations to all the finalists and Mark Hanson in particular -- you chose well!

We now take you back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Miss "Sherlock Holmes Is Like" Talent Night!

The ill-concieved and poorly manage beauty pageant celebrating the release of the book Sherlock Holmes Is Like eventually had to get to the talent portion of the program. And as the preliminary rounds come to their final line-up, that page from the pageant playbook finally came due.

And what talent should someone who is like Sherlock Holmes compete with?

Well, there's always sword fighting. Sherlock Holmes was an expert swordsman. And who among our contestants tonight will be competing with the sword?

D'Artagnan. Zorro. Peter Pan. Doctor Who.

We're going way off book for this one, so hold on. Doctor Who learned the sword from Cleopatra's guards, and practiced with Richard, Cyrano, and Errol Flynn. D'Artagnan learned sword from his father. Zorro learned swordplay in Spain. And Peter Pan just learned swordplay through an immortal life of fighting other boys and pirates, over and over again.

In the four-way duel that comes from this part of the contest, Peter Pan rises quickly to the fore, as he is not only a superb swordsman, he's the most experienced of the lot, a smaller target, and his ability to fly makes up for his shorter reach. (I tried not to make the characters fight this time around, but with Karen Ellery, Bob Coghill, and Monica Schmidt's choice of characters facing my own, it just had to be).

Our next talent on display is that of oratory, something Sherlock Holmes did well in front of the small groups of clients or Scotland Yard officers he provided explanations to.

Competitors for this half of the round are the Mighty Oz, Lucy Van Pelt, Alice Liddell, and the Third Little Pig.

Well, the Pig likes to respond with a rhyme and is famous for "Not by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin," which was not original with him, so he's not faring too well. Lucy Van Pelt prefers an audience of one, and that one having low self esteem, so she's not really pulling here either. Alice just tends to exclaim things in a very declaratory manner. And Oz, the great and powerful politico who both ruled a city and worked in a carnival with one's livelihood depending upon vocal skill . . . well, there you go. (Beth Gallego, Steve Mason, Resa Halle, and Gayle Lange Puhl are all much better at this that the bulk of the contestants they put into the Miss "Sherlock Holmes Is Like Pageant.)

With Oz walking away with oratory and Peter winning at swordplay, tonight is a double naming of finalists, and they both move into tomorrow night's finals.

Will this competition finally come to an end? Does Brad get to blog about something else? And how many words is this stealing from his NaNoWriMo marathon?

We shall see.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

The Miss "Sherlock Is Like" disqualification day

T'was a dark day for the Miss "Sherlock Is Like" pageant.

Instead of the usual theater full of hopefuls, parading across a brightly lit stage, sparkling like the Sherlock-diamonds-in-the-rough they are, this evening's contestant list was simply that . . . a list.

Read by a disheartened pageant spokesperson, who had obviously spent the better part of his time beginning his NaNoWritMo novel instead of starting a Movember moustache, (You can only do one, you know. State law!) the list was of all the candidates who had been disqualified for a variety of reasons.

"Peter Cushing. Played Sherlock Holmes due to a genetic anomaly that makes him look like Sherlock Holmes. DNA disqualification."

"Gregory House. Thought the name 'House' was a valid connection to Sherlock Holmes. Bad pun disqualification. Also, Wilson."

"Arthur Conan Doyle. Has made so much off of Sherlock Holmes already that his appearance here is just plain greedy. Family member disqualification."

"Eugene Vidocq. Sherlock Holmes hated that guy. Mistaken-for-Lecoq disqualification."

"John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. Over-the-character-limit disqualification."

"Elon Musk. Elon Musk. Elon Musk disqualification."

Rejoin us tomorrow for the final preliminary round, where, hopefully, we'll at least get to see a little more of the contestants without buying the book Sherlock Holmes Is Like, edited by Christopher Redmond, which you really should buy anyway, just to read the work of some great writers like Lyn Adams, Ashley Polasek, Daniel Stashower, Joanne Chaix, Ian Bennett, and Carlina de la Cova, none of whom got the treatment they deserved in this pageant.

Beauty pageants always have their issues, don't they?

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Halloween "Sherlock Holmes Is Like" Sexy-off

'Tis late Halloween night, and you know what that means . . . .

Ghouls? Ghosts? Demons? Don't be so old dark ages, this is 2018. As we approach the midnight hour of Halloween in these, the new dark ages?

Sexy whatever costumes. And as we've been approaching Sherlock Holmes Is Like, that latest collection edited by Christopher Redmond as a beauty pageant on these pages, why not go full-on sexy costume tonight? And as it is 2018, let's exploit the male form when we do it.

Which means we have to turn to page 146, and Mike Ranieri's essay on that classic sexy costumed figure, the Batman! Is Batman sexy like Sherlock Holmes? Well, I feel like Mike is leaving out half of Batman's sexy one-two punch. In order to be sexy like Sherlock, you can't just go full Batman. You have to merge him with Bruce Wayne, that upper class, devil-may-care playboy that the Batman keeps walled off in the mode of either/or. Sherlock is Batman sexy and Bruce Wayne sexy put together. Get with it, Batman.

Who's next, who's next . . . Odysseus? Oh, Adrian Nebbett shows off Odysseus's hiatus, and his quality of disguise, but can we discuss the shirtless abs and pecs on the traditional movie figure? All those Greek muscles and tan . . . wait a minute, Sherlock isn't tan or buff! He's classic heroin chic sexy. BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO, Odysseus! Get thy pumped-up bod outa here!

Hamlet is a little more of the sexy Sherlock build. Those little Shakespearean tights . . . Wendy Hayman-Marsaw plainly knows what's what here, because she leads off with all those sexy men who played both Hamlet and Holmes. At least the big names, anyway. And I've even got that great "221B or not 221B" t-shirt that I usually save for 221B Con, so if there's Hamlet/Holmes merch, you know that's got some sexiness in it somewhere.

But hey, while some may think of Hamlet as "old school" sexy, for me, you have to go Spock. Spock has had sexy-Sherlock going in current culture a lot longer than Hammy boy. Charles Prepolec knows where slash fiction had its start, and in that field, saying "Sherlock Holmes is like Mr. Spock" rings as true as can be . . . Spock got there first.

Wait a minute! How did Hermione Granger get in here? Amy Thomas, what do you think you're doing? Yes, yes, Hermione has been in the 221B Con burlesque show multiple times. But we're only exploiting males as sex objects tonight. Yes, Hermione does have that mystery pedigree like Holmes. And her Watsons. Well, if we're going to be totally objectifying men tonight, I guess their intellects are getting ignored as well, which means . . .

Hermione wins!!

One or two more of these and we're finally to the finals of the Miss "Sherlock Holmes Is Like" pageant.

Prelim Seven, The Miss "Sherlock Holmes is Like" Pageant

Okay, let's be honest here. The Miss "Sherlock Holmes Is Like" Pageant was designed with a fatal flaw. The single judge on the panel is a huge Sherlock Holmes fan. Sherlock Holmes is his favorite character/person/anything-else. And the entire book from which this pageant's contestants are drawn is written about non-Sherlock-Holmes characters.

And even if you try to convince that single judge that an non-Sherlock-Holmes is like Sherlock Holmes . . . well, suffice it to say that there was a reason that fellow was so rabidly anti-Elementary once upon a time. So things have gotten a little rough at the judge's table.

Jeeves . . .  the judge is looking at his phone.

Mr. Darcy . . . he's asking someone to bring him a Diet Coke.

Sir Isaac Newton . . . he's googling a recipe for apple pie to make later.

Sir George Lewis . . . wait . . . did the judge just go out for second breakfast?

Murdoch from Murdoch Mysteries . . . well, at least he's whistling "O Canada," so he seems to be engaged. And Wilda Thumm has included a bit about that Sherlock Holmes episode of Murdoch Mysteries, so there's hope for a winner of this round. Murdoch actually got a thumbs-up.

But wait . . . oh, no, the pageant organizers are bringing on more contestants. This was not the day to do this.

Meghashyam Chirravoori . . . back to the phone.

Dale Cooper from Twin Peaks . . . the judge is miming a little person dancing backwards, so . . .? Maybe David Lynch could make sense of that.

George Smiley . . .  the judge is starting to stir. It looks like he's going to say something. Wait, he's seen the next contestant . . .

Alexia Tarabotti . . . "AAAH-WOOOOOO!!! Werewolves of London! AAAH-WOOOOOOOOO!!"

Somehow, Courtney Powers has made the judge start singing Warren Zevon with her presentation of Alexia Tarabotti, and catapulted her charge into the final round.

Hopefully someone will actually put Sherlock Holmes into this pageant for our final preliminary, or we may have to find a new judge. This one is plainly starting to lose it.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Prelim Six, The Miss "Sherlock Holmes is Like" Pageant

I'm immediately starting to suspect a Donald P. Bellasario conspiracy imbedded in the Miss "Sherlock Holmes Is Like" pageant at the outset of tonight's round. A couple of nights ago, Higgins from Magnum P.I., a Bellasario-produced TV show, won the night. And now, Bellasario's name turns up again as the main character from TV's Quantum Leap is revealed as someone Sherlock Holmes is like.

Nea Dodson has matched up Sam Beckett's Quantum Leap Canon with Sherlock Holmes's Canon of cases very neatly to give Sam a definite Sherlockian aspect that most of us never considered before. And one has to be a hundred percent certain that somewhere someone has broken Sam Beckett's time restraints to have him leap into Sherlock Holmes in a fanfic somewhere, but that stretch is avoided for this round.

A familiar face, one that I've seen in my "Sherlock Holmes Is Like" dreams before this book, is lead to the stage by Angela Misri. It's Loki, the Norse god of mischief, brother to Thor and just one in a long tradition of trickster-gods. And even though Angela doesn't bring it up, we all kinda wanted Tom Hiddlestone to be what eventually became Eurus, didn't we? The third Holmes who was even more the trickster than his brother . . . 

It's gods night here at the ol' pageant, and luck has us following Loki with the being that actually comes after him in the book, Lord Shiva. Sherlock Holmes and Hinduism have crossed paths before, but never have I see Sherlock's hair so proudly brought into the discussion, as Susan Bailey eventually does. We don't have a swimsuit portion of this competition, as even Miss America has done away with that eventual relic of the patriarchy, but Lord Shiva might have done well there, with the hair and ascetic sexiness.

This pageant gets weird sometimes.

Jumping to page 221, one expects to find a real Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock Holmes Is Like and with the title of "The Sherlock Holmes of Iran," Sadeq Mamqoli already seems a veteran in wearing that Sherlockian crown. Navid Farrokhi makes sure we get all the details on this contestant that most of us will come to fresh here, and such figures are the ones we get the most out of meeting here.

Of course, as surprising as new faces like Sadeq Mamqoli are, it's even more of a shock to see a familiar, underage contestant like Huck Finn showing up in this "like Holmes" pageant. Was there no age limit for contestants? Huck Finn is around thirteen, isn't he?

But Rob Nunn is a teacher working near the Mississippi River, so it's not surprising he would drag a wayward lad like Huck to this show, and not surprising that Huck would find himself on stage. (The kid has his face plastered all over a chain of small town gas-and-convenience stores around here, so he's hard to escape.)

When Huck Finn showed up so randomly in this pageant, I was pretty sure I was going with Loki for this round. But Huck's a bit of a trickster, too, and Rob Nunn really brings the boy's Holmes-ishness out on all the key points I've come to look for in these competitors. And he really brings it home with his words on Huck's faithful Watson.

I may have to suffer accusations of favoring the local boy on this one, but Huck Finn is going to the finals. I never would have believed it!

Monday, October 29, 2018

Prelim Five, The Miss "Sherlock Holmes is Like" Pageant

The Miss "Sherlock Holmes Is Like" Pageant commission put me on notice after last night's round of judging, and though I am filled with guilt and shame, and apologize to all of those contestants, the pageant rounds keep pressing onward. Tonight, however, I am, I swear, attentive and alert.

That turns out to be a very good thing when the first person vying for the Miss "Sherlock Holmes Is Like" crown appears on the stage -- I wouldn't want to get this guy angry.

It's Gandalf the Grey, direct from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. And, man-oh-man, is this guy a real Miss "Sherlock Holmes Is Like" if ever I saw one. Tatyana Dybina has brought all of his Holmes-ish features to the fore and they are impressive. No non-royal so far has had such potential to look good in a crown. He's got all the right moves, from the pipe to the fall-to-his-death-but-not-really, and . . . well, just wow!  Gandalf is going to be tough to beat.

Let's see who's next.

Jimmie Lavender, a pulp detective from the pen of Vincent Starrett. Ray Betzner is ably manning the spotlight on Jimmie, but I just can't get over Lavender's Watson being named "Gilly." I mean, it's not Jimmie's fault, Vincent's fault, or Ray's fault that Saturday Night Live ran a series of skits about a character named "Gilly" in which the character's name was said so many times that it became imbedded in my head. You can almost hear the question coming: "Who was it that ruined Jimmie Lavender's chances in the Mis 'Sherlock Holmes Is Like' pageant? Was it you, Liam? Was it you, Sam? Gillllleeeeeey!"

Well, we'll see no such issue with the next contestant . . . Jesus Christ!!!

No, that wasn't me taking the Lord's name in vain, the next entry for Miss "Sherlock Holmes Is Like" is actually Jesus of Nazareth, and as the book's closing act (remember, I'm doing this out of order), I think somebody was trying to stack the deck. Laura Sook Duncombe has the unenviable task of shepherding the Shepherd to the stage, but like Jimmie Lavender before him, Jesus has a real Watson problem . . . too many Watsons! We do like our resurrected heroes, and we do like Father Ronald Knox, but a cozy Baker Street type of scene with a member of the Trinity is a little hard to see. Not liking J.C.'s chances here, though I don't want to betray anyone with a kiss until this round is completely over.

Nick Charles coming to the stage is a fresh breath of smart-ass. (Well, that's not the best turn of phrase. Nick would do better. Or Nora would.) But Angela Fowler has set Nick up in a most glowing lite, not making him look like a Sherlock Holmes clone, but just enjoying the detective for who he was and when he was. Saying Sherlock Holmes is like any of the detectives that came after him, following his lead, is always a tough go, so why not appreciate the guy for who he is? (And that Watson of his -- hubba, hubba!)

The pageant gods (or maybe Jesus) are giving us a wholesale run of detectives tonight, and next supposedly-coming-up-the-runway-but-refusing-and-staying-in-his-house is Mr. Nero Wolfe.

Nero Wolfe? Well, of course, Sherlock Holmes is like Nero Wolfe, as much as [SPOILERS!] any father is a bit like his son. David Marcum has presented that paternity evidence to those judging this pageant, and . . . well, it's going to be very hard to push Nero Wolfe through this round without accusations of Sherlockian nepotism. Give us another candidate, and not a detective, please, Jesus.

Not a . . . well, I guess agents of the F.B.I. aren't technically detectives. Investigators, yes, as in "Federal Bureau of Investigation." But isn't Dana Scully more of a Watson? I am sure Michelle Birkby considers otherwise. Let us see how Dana looks in comparing Sherlock Holmes to her.

Well, I had hopes for Dana Scully. This pageant is turning into such a sausage-fest, that a little representation from someone bringing out Holmes's feminine side would be very welcome. But I just can't go for Scully, with the shadow of Mulder constantly intertwining with hers, and his Sherlock-ness confusing matters. Still, this round of the Miss "Sherlock Holmes Is Like" Pageant can at least go to someone who doesn't wear pants.

Gandalf the Gray, you are tonight's winner! We'll see you in the finals.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

The Miss "Sherlock Holmes Is Like" Pageant 2018, Preliminary Four

The gunslinger from the Dark Tower series.

Gertrude Stein.

Charles Pierce.

Charles Darwin

Higgins from Magnum P.I.

As the contestants stroll across the stage in their sashes, I try to keep my head up off the judges' table . . . it's been a long weekend, and the Sunday prelim for the Miss "Sherlock Holmes Is Like" Pageant for 2018 started very late. I wave my hand tiredly at the current run of beauties and sigh a single proper noun:


She was cute in this year's CBS revival of Magnum P.I.  I say asmuch to the good Carter, who elbows me and goes, "Vincent Wight's essay was on Jonathan Higgins, the one played by John Hillerman -- you know, Dr. Watson from Hands of a Murderer."

"Yeah," I reply, "Close enough for bloggerment work. Higgins wins. Yay."

My head drops to the table and I get halfway into a dream about finding Cocoa Krispies in my cupboard for breakfast, with a cartoon picture of Higgins-Watson on the front.

"Higgins," I say again as I wake, shaking it off, and wandering out of the pageant theater.

Don't wait for this ridiculous excuse for a book review to be over!
and published by Wildside Press. It will probably get to your mailbox before
this is done, and you'll certainly enjoy it more!

Saturday, October 27, 2018

The Miss "Sherlock Holmes Is Like" Pageant 2018, Preliminary Three

Saturday's rounds of the Miss "Sherlock Holmes Is Like" Pageant 2018 has started with a shocking scandal and a disqualification: One of the contestants had their paperwork filled out by their spouse. Most readers will not know the rules of the Miss "Sherlock Holmes Is Like" Pageant to the level of detail where that rule can be found, but trust me, it's there. After last year's "We're not making Sherlockians fight!" choice when the the book About Being A Sherlockian came out, this stricture has been a little more emphasized by the judges, and finding a spouse in the competition has been a shocking twist.

If you're curious as to those circumstances, you can buy, borrow, or steal a copy of Sherlock Holmes is Like edited by Christopher Redmond and published by Wildside Press. (Which might be kind of the point of this pageant.) Meanwhile, let's get to our latest contestants and on with the pageant . . . and hope the judges don't start disqualifying people wholesale.

Harry Houdini makes a magical appearance, and another competitor with Conan Doyle ties is not surprising. Doug Elliott has taken a different tactic in wardrobing and make-up for Houdini -- while others have actually been writing from an approach of "Houdini is like Sherlock Holmes," Doug actually follows the pageant's nominal direction and works the theory "Sherlock Holmes is like Houdini." Saturday's judges seem to have a keener eye that those of the last couple of days and are actually scoring Houdini higher for this angle.

Obviously, Sherlockians will want to focus on Sherlock as primary and say the contestants are like him, rather than Sherlock being like others, and that's a weakness Doug Elliott might have been able to exploit with these strict Saturday judges. We'll see how others fare.

Rule-breaker Robin Hood takes the stage, and astonishingly, Mark Hanson has not broken the "like" rule in his presentation. The very first words one "hears" are "Sherlock Holmes is like Robin Hood in so many ways." And Sherlock Holmes IS like Robin Hood. Perhaps it's the historical precedence of the earlier British hero that makes that statement ring so much more true than those contestants who came after Holmes on a timeline, but Robin Hood comes off as one of the most beautiful entries so far.

Oscar Wilde seems an unlikely entry in the "Sherlock Holmes Is Like" Pageant, even though Wilde was present for part of Holmes's birth . . . which is why it gets a little weird as Michael J. Quigley presents the writer and lecturer for Holmes-like beauty. "Thaddeus Sholto Is Like" is definitely a curious tactic, and citing a non-Canonical birth year as evidence almost smacks of fraud. The judges are seeing a lot more of Doyle than Holmes is this long-ish time on stage, and when they hear at the end that "A fuller version of this study has appeared in the BSJ,"  one can see them vigorously deducting points from Wilde. It's not looking good for him in this round.

A bright glow from backstage precedes the coming contestant of this preliminary, and I feel it bodes even more ill for the preceding entries. Could it be?

Yes, yes, it's Arthur! Arthur of Britain! The man, the myth, the transcender of Canons.

Margie Deck is the lucky promoter of King Arthur, and her case is simple: Sure, he doesn't look a thing like Sherlock Holmes on the surface, but he's freakin' King Arthur! When you think of England, you think of Sherlock Holmes and King Arthur! He's been studied as much, heck, I even have copies of King Arthur journals in my library that I can't bear to part with, just because they're so much like Sherlock Holmes journals, so I get her point. Because, hey, like I said England is Sherlock Holmes, King Arthur, and . . . uh-oh . . .

Robin Hood.

Ah, Robin, you merry thief, you just came in and stole the chance at the finals from King Arthur, as you're nearly as legendary and Sherlock is actually kind of like you!

Congratulations to Robin Hood! On to the next round!

The Miss "Sherlock Holmes Is Like" Pageant 2018, Preliminary Two

Welcome back to the Miss "Sherlock Holmes Is Like" Pageant 2018. I'm you're host, Bert

When we left round one of our pageant preliminaries, the lovely Brigadier Etienne Gerard had won his chance at the final crown, defeating four others by his sheer Conan-Doyle-genes, if nothing else. Who will be the second preliminary winner to join him in that finalists circle?

Well, our first contestant for the evening is the very popular Professor Henry Higgins, a man known for his Sherlock-like personality for decades. As Fran Martin makes her case for Higgins, she smartly leaves out the fact that Higgins once "sort of" met Jeremy Brett . . . the sort of flimsy argument that I'd make, and sticks to Canon, outside of a closer that speaks of the relationship between the pairs literary agents. Henry Higgins is a solid contender once Fran is done, but let's see who else is on the stage tonight.

Allan Pinkerton! Oh, tonight's pageant of Sherlock-like beauties is going to be a treat!

Professionally, Allan Pinkerton is a wonderful match for Sherlock Holmes. Innovative methods, writings for his successors in the field, all of which Darlene Cypser brings to shining the spotlight on Pinkerton. Pinkerton might get a black mark for that bit of time he spent on the official force, but he's sure to be the great detective of the night. Let's see who dares challenge Pinkerton's professional skills and Higgins's perfect personality.

Sacre bleu, our random selection process has brought up Hercule Poirot! I have spoken far too soon.

Poirot has the advantage of having been built by an author who had Sherlock Holmes to look at, while drawing his features . . . a condition that works both for him and against him, which becomes apparent in Marina Stajic's essay. Poirot had Holmes's skills to inspire and measure against, but he also had to set himself apart from that great man who came before him. I don't know if the judges are going to pick another Frenchman after last night, however, so there may be some bias against him.

Next up . . . Sigmund Freud?

Sherlock Holmes's co-star in The Seven-Per-Cent Solution? Robert Stek has his work cut out for him with this beauty, and immediately gets that book/movie pairing out of the way. It's a valiant attempt, but like an actor who has been typecast by an iconic part, nothing about Sigmund Freud just can convince the judges to see him as anything but Sigmund Freud. Nice of you to drop by for a guest spot, Freud; loved you in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, but buh-bye.

And now, the final Miss "Sherlock Holmes Is Like" hopeful for this evening . . . . Superman.

After Sigmund Freud being so hurt by his iconic nature, Superman's chances are not looking good, but let's see what Christopher Sequeria has to say for him as the man of steel strolls across the stage.

I find myself trying to help Superman's case, even as I read Christopher Sequeira's essay, because I do love me some Superman. He and Holmes both came from country squires, so to speak. And while the Moriarty/Lex Luthor comparison is there to be made, I'd much prefer to cast Doomsday as Superman's Moriarty, being the foe that killed Superman and led to his inevitable resurrection. Near the end of Superman's tour on the runway, Christopher mentions Zorro, and then I get really distracted . . . I know Zorro is in this pageant, as he's my entry. And I start dreaming of things to come.

But judging for tonight's preliminary has to be done, and it has to be based on the five candidates present, not some fancy of mine from a future competition. And, all things considered, the icons and detectives cancelling each other out in a way, the winner just has to be . . .

Professor Henry Higgins!  Congratulations to Higgins and his fans, and I'm sure he'll be a great contender in that eventual final round. Get some rest, there's sure to be plenty of pageant tomorrow. Things are getting good.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

The Miss "Sherlock Holmes Is Like" Pageant 2018, Preliminary One

Two years ago, Chris Redmond put together a little collection called About Sixty, in which sixty writers all argued for each of the sixty Sherlock Holmes stories being the best. And in this blog, I ran a little tournament as I read the book, to see which one wound up as the best in my view, post-arguments for each. Last year, however, Chris's next collection, About Being A Sherlockian, was personal stories of actual Sherlockians, so it just didn't seem right to throw them all into a Battle Royale. But this year . . . .

Sherlock Holmes Is Like collects sixty arguments for sixty different humans, real and fictional, as being like our friend Sherlock Holmes. And as we don't personally know any of those people, why not pit them against each other? Is it a fight, a playoff game, or . . . shall we call this one a "pageant," just to be a little less violent this year?

Each set of contestants must win preliminary pageants to advance to the finals, with the number of contestants a prelim being governed by how many I essays I can read for one blog. And even though Chris did such a nice job of organizing essays by theme, I'm going to randomize my reading order just to throw an element of . . . well, chaos, really . . . into the pageants.

So, let us begin. Our first preliminary pageant's contestants are to be found on pages 23, 190, and 28. Hmmm, William Thomas Stead, Inspector Edmund Reid, and Josiah Willard Gibbs? I don't know any of these guys. This should be interesting.

Peter Calamai, having been a journalist, makes his case for a fellow journalist from the history books, William Thomas Stead. When Calamai says Stead favored cigarettes over the classic Holmes pipe in the early, Titanic, segment of the essay, I worry a bit for this contestant's chances . . . Holmes liked his cigarettes as well, so bringing up the pipe is a missed opportunity. And the next segment, about Stead's influence over the world of journalism, starts reminding me more of Mycroft than Sherlock. And then, we get into . . . well, I'll leave that for you to discover, but it's not pleasant, nor a topic that ever came up in a Sherlock Holmes story, as gruesome as they could occasionally be. Let's see who that next unfamiliar contestant is.

Whoa! This pageant is definitely not a beauty contest. Vicki Delaney introduces Inspector Edmund Reid to me as  the main character of the BBC TV show Ripper Street. Whitechapel, here we come.

Okay, maybe Edmund Reid is quite the beauty in Sherlock-ish terms. Victorian. Londoner. Walking the same streets. I'm buying what Vicki Delaney is selling. But we have another contestant coming up, and it looks like . . . .

A scientist from Yale? Chris Zordan has his work cut out for him in bringing Josiah William Gibbs to the pageant stage. When I read the phrase "winning prizes for mathematics," Sherlock Holmes is not the Canonical genius that first comes to mind. But we get to chemistry soon enough, and time in France, which I like as a Sherlock-ish aspect. Gibbs, the pioneering academic, seems to lack a few key Holmes features . . . like combat skills, so I'm kinda not in love with him.

I really shouldn't be pitting these fine men against each other, superficially judging them like this, and I'm feeling guilty already. But, hey, didn't male-dominated society do that to women for how long? On with the pageant!

Oh, here's a chap I recognize! Brigadier Etienne Gerard, being championed by John Baesch. Gerard's got the Conan Doyle bump, so I'm expecting good things here!

I now see why traditional beauty pageants use a panel of judges . . . while John Baesch is making a good case for Gerard, as his predecessors did, I just love Brigadier Gerard. Even though he's a soldier in the Napoleonic wars and not the great brain of the previous contestants, I now have enough good excuses to play favorites and advance Gerard as the winner of this preliminary round of the Miss "Sherlock Holmes Is Like" Pageant for 2018. (I hope he and the others hugged as I announced this.)

This is a horrible way to review a book, but I've set myself on this course and I can't wait to see who winds up wearing sash and crown down the runway at the end. More to come.

The Coming of Harrison Sherloque Wells

This week, the CW Network gave us another TV Sherlock who, at first glance, seemed quite the "Sherlock in name only" sort of generic pastiche of Holmes we see now and then. But was he?

Harrison Sherloque Wells, appearing in "The Death of Vibe," the third episode of The Flash's fifth season, was yet another of the many Harrison Wells characters that the show has trotted out since adding a multiverse element to the show. When the situation calls for it, the show's heroes summon a version of their old friend Wells from an alternate dimension for his brain power. This week, they called upon the Steve Jobs version of Wells, who routed them to a Sherlock Holmes version of the guy.

When he first appeared, in shadows as a very Sherlockian profile, his first words were a bit of a shock . . . because they weren't in a British accent, but French. (I'll let you assign the quality of said accent.) But, hey, Sherlock Holmes had French ancestry, so we'll let it go.

He does some observation/deduction tricks, demands a high fee, and proceeds to deduce who the murderer is. There's just one problem . . . he didn't really deduce it from clues, he just identified the same guy who did it in every other universe he had solved the case in. And we, along with the show's characters, have to cry "FRAUD!"

This is not our Sherlock Holmes, as he would never cheat like . . . tha . . . .

Wait? What's that, Canonical Sherlock?

"Without, however, the knowledge of pre-existing cases which serves me so well."

That's our Sherlock, solving "The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor," using another case he heard about to solve the mystery.

So maybe Sherloque Wells isn't just a "Sherloque" in almost-name only. His character seems to be continuing, so we'll have to see what other Sherlockian traits he exhibits in weeks to come. Between Will Ferrell's Holmes movie and CW Sherloque, this is going to be a weird year for Sherlocks, to be sure.