Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Fourth quarter report: #TreasureOrTorture 2016

And then, all at once, it was over. The John H. Watson Society's annual Treasure Hunt. Not with a bang, but a . . .

"Did we send our answers in?"

Well, if we didn't, I'd look for a sudden influx of Canadian currency into the economy of St. Louis, Missouri. (Canadian dollars are up, worth .76 American dollars at the moment, possibly an effect of the Trump campaign and potential migration patterns, so it's a good time for bribes from the North.)

But I am confident in the trusted founder of our team and his answer-sending abilities, having had all of a year's experience going into this round. How did we do? Well, I think. Our team's valkyrie of the bookshelves did a final ride or two that put a bow on the hundred question examination for us, but it's all up to the judges now, dotted "i"s and crossed "t"s and similarities of thought patterns.

Unlike last years Hunt, we weren't beating our brows down to the last week, this time, as the absence of a "Third quarter report" in these posts might hint . . . we were so comfortably done by then that I completely forgot I was doing quarterly reports on it this month. We even had our team name by then: "And Experience of Canon Which Extends Over Four Players and Three Separate States."

Some rejected or interim names, just for the record were: "The Sign of the Four," "Holmes's Four Exterminated Eggs," "The Selenaside Squad," and "The Team Who Would Not Be Named."

But now that it's done, before the results are in, I'd like to heartily and sincerely thanks Rob Nunn, Beth Gallego, and Ron Lies for coming together from a goodly distance and getting this tremendous task done in a comfortably short time -- quite a difference from the experience with last year's two-and-a-half-member team.

Will we do this again next year? Well, we shall see next year. Even Watson deserted Holmes for a wife now and then . . .

Monday, August 29, 2016

A preview of coming distractions.

October is coming, a busy month no matter how you stack it, and I'm already planning for some additional help with the blog. Since I know many of my readers prefer when I stay with the original Canon of Sherlock Holmes in my meanderings, I thought, "Why not get someone from the original cases of Sherlock Holmes to do the job? In fact, why not get the MOST Canonical character from Holmes's cases to take a few blogs?"

No . . . not . . . yes, I know, Dr. Watson appears in more stories than anyone. And he's a great writer. Not disputing that at all. But, y'see, John H. Watson never claimed to be the most Canonical figure in the whole Holmes legend. And he certainly would have known if he was, right? He had plenty of time to write "I am the most Canonical character in the Sherlock Holmes Canon." But he didn't, so no. It's someone else. Just ask him . . .

EDITOR'S NOTE: The rest of this blog is written by Sherlock Peoria's sometime October guest-writer. The thoughts, opinions, and facts cited by the writer below were not approved or even considered sane by the usual staff and management of this blog.

I am the most Canonical man in the Canon, am I not? 

What? You do not recognize me at once? 

Though you may have seen the dog whip in my hand shiver slightly in that moment, you were in no danger. My passion at the thought of the rebellious artist Sidney Paget always causes such a passionate reaction in me. It is his fault this handsome face is not as well known as it should be. He did not capture my good side at all.

And, it is true, you may know me as "Henderson of High Gable," the eligible family man with two charming daughters who travels extensibly. You undoubtedly stay at the finest establishments, as I do, do you not? Our paths may have crossed in Paris, Rome, or Madrid. Such grand hotels! Was it the Hotel Escurial where we met?

That bad business there. To learn that the Marquess de Montalva and Senor Rulli, his servant, were both murdered just down the hall. We checked out immediately after that, and perhaps you did as well. I heard my description was circulated, as our abrupt departure seems to have made us suspects, and that some even mistook those descriptions for those of the victims.

1892 was such a very strange year. I could tell you such tales!

And perhaps I will. Let us dispense with all this charade of poor recognition skills on your part, who could not recognize me, the most Canonical man in the Canon?

Yes, it is I, Don Murillo, the Tiger of San Pedro. You know me.

And I shall be back in October. Why? One might as well ask "Why are you the most Canonical man in the Canon, Don Murillo?" Everyone knows the answer, even the littlest of children.

Until then!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Your first Sherlockian weekend?

A friend brought up Sherlockian travel yesterday, considering his first bit of journeying into the Sherlockian world. I was about to write a lengthy reply with some thoughts on that, but then realized it might fill up a little blog space just to talk about first event choices in general . . . as the options are starting to get interesting. Symposium or con? Classic pilgrimage or celebrity meet-n-greet?

Sherlock Seattle 2016 is still coming up this year, part of the new world of Sherlockian cons that BBC Sherlock has gifted us with. While I have yet to attend this one, it's definitely on my "someday" list, as 221B Con in Atlanta has become a big favorite . . . and I'd just like to get to Seattle one day, in any case. Cons make a great Sherlockian entry point these days, as you can typically find a bit of the old and a bit of the new and see which way your interests lie. One tip -- if you really abhor the new and want to stay immersed in the old, the cons may not be for you. But if you love to see energies abounding about Sherlock Holmes in any incarnation, you can have a good time at these much less expensively than the two bigger 2017 outings on the horizon.

The first of these, of course, is that long-standing tradition, the Sherlock Holmes Birthday Weekend in New York. Happening January 4-8, 2017, full details about the next one haven't come out yet, but everyone pretty much knows the drill: an ala carte menu of Sherlockian dinners, cocktail parties, a guest lecture, book shopping, a Morley walk, random and oft-spontaneous hangouts, along with whatever suits your fancy about a trip the New York. It's the classic, where you can meet the big Sherlock Holmes fans who have been big Sherlock Holmes fans for a very long time, as well as the bright new lights. It's long been one of the pilgrimage points of the Sherlockian world.

But would you recommend the Birthday Weekend for someone's first foray into the Sherlockian community? Better saved for dessert after a few symposium meals? My personal thought would be to save the Sherlock Holmes Birthday Weekend until one has a familiar to act as a handy guide, but everyone's approach is different. Some like a solo dive into the deep end. And if you're that person, which appropriate funding . . . well, grab all you can. But if you want to make sure you do it right the first time? Get a familiar.

Next year's other big alternative is the offering that puts the price tag on the Holmes Birthday Weekend in a relatively better place -- Sherlocked USA at the LAX Marriott, May 26-28, 2017. Now as much has this has to do with Sherlock Holmes, it's definitely an event outside the Sherlockian world in terms of who's putting it on, and its intentions. It's commercial nature is going to want to pry every Sherlock-loving penny out of you, and it's probably not where you go to make friends you will see again next year at next year's con. It's a grand event with a lot of hardcore Sherlock Holmes fans making their way there, but as an entry-point into the Sherlockian community?  No. This one is for seeing stars. Which could be a very cool thing, but, wow, that price tag!

A little searching isn't bringing up any of the more regional weekend symposiums for next year just yet. Even Scintillation of Scions is still in 2016 mode on their web page, but they'll all be coming along. Some places, like Maryland or Ohio, have them annually, others like Minneapolis or Indianapolis, get around to one every few years or so. The Baker Street Irregulars even have a big weekend event now and them, like their Chautauqua conference in a couple weeks. These weekends are always hard to beat as an initial entry point into the longtime Sherlockian world, but offer a completely different vibe from the cons. Smaller and tending to be more lecture-oriented, the symposium weekend might be a little more relaxing for some than the panel discussions and party atmosphere that can rev up a con. (Not to say that things don't get stirred up at any Sherlockian meet-up, especially once the official program is over.)

We really have an abundance of opportunity for Sherlockian travel these days . . . more than I can certainly take advantage of. But where would you suggest a first-time traveller get their Persian slippers wet?

Saturday, August 27, 2016

That quiet sanctuary for a mental retreat . . . now open for business?

Some days the sheer noise of the Sherlockian internet can be a little much. A little social media over-promotion, a wave of non-information about some trending topic, the perpetual click-bait headline traps, always out there ready for curiosity and a weak moment to deluge you with ads . . . a person can desperately want to find a quiet place to wander off of the electronic byways for a while.

Happily, most of us have just such a place, the good old original Sherlockian Canon.

The sacred sixty. The Complete. That full set of tales that have satisfied so many for nearly a hundred years. The original Sherlock Holmes works that exploded like some crazy multi-media pinata spraying art and commercial products of every sort across the world. There is so much Sherlock shrapnel from that ongoing explosion of entertainment that a person can spend their entire lifetime chasing the bits and pieces that came out of it, but unlike a real explosive device or pinata, we still have the original item in pristine form to go back to.

And that is where you have to go sometimes.

Back in the 1990s, I decided to see what it would be like to share one of my retreats into the Canon with someone else in a sort of written virtual reality form, and the result was The Armchair Baskerville Tour, a book that sits on many a collector's shelf but probably doesn't get too many new readers at this point. Looking back on it now, it seems like a sort of genius loci fan fiction. Instead of writing about Holmes or Watson, I just wanted to write about the place they inhabit in our minds . . . or my mind, at least.

I made a second run in September 2013, in this very blog, reading The Hound  of the Baskervilles during the time of year it first occurred. But I never took such a wandering look at the Canon outside of Hound. Too lazy to put another book together, and I just enjoy blogging too much . . . .

Which is why I had a sort of "duh" moment this week, and realized that a full Canon walkabout is actually the perfect thing for a blog. It would take a little bit away from this particular blog, yes, but it would also give a nice channel for those who'd like to read some Canonical commentary without any elements related to modern Sherlock spin-offs entering in. (Elementary hunting season is coming up again. Oh, yes.) And so, this week I'm adding "The Mind Palace of Sherlockitude" to my blog channels.

Will I make it through the entire Canon on this marathon trek? Will it eventually languish from lack of attention like Action Sherlock Brain Theater?

Well, there's only one way to find out. On we go.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Over-exposure week.

You know how the saying goes . . .

When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.

When you're tired of lemonade and the lemons keep coming, get away from the lemon grove.

Because it's a lemon tree, my dear Watson!

Well, if nothing else, the over-promotion of a pair of Nevada actresses' fan-targeted work gave me the chance to use that chestnut this week.  I really don't want to disparage some real talent and energy from anyone taking up Weird Al Yankovic's chosen art form, but after a couple of my internet channels became a little too infatuated with the Sherlock based entry, to the point where I was blog-tied about even mentioning it here.

Said Sherlock parody video is the perfect example of both the greatness and the pain of internet culture: The chance for artists of any stripe to do great work and have it seen by a million people -- good thing. The chance for a single person to be over-exposed to a single thing by both highly enthused fans and content algorithms that alter your feed based on what a chunk of code thinks you like -- maybe not so good.

But it isn't really the internet's fault. We've had pop songs and commercial jingles battering our brains as long as radio and television existed. The internet is just one more powerful medium for us humans to exploit, or over-exploit, to the point of sometimes irritating our fellow humans.

But when life hands you Sherlocks, you do get to make Sherlock-ade.

The desire to get away from the over-promoting this week actually set me in a direction I might not have otherwise gone, Holmes-wise (more on that to come), so it's all good.

Because the Sherlocks are never going to quit coming, pre-apocalypse. Post-apocalypse, we'll see.

(Oh, Brad, why did you have to bring it down at the end by mentioning the apocalypse. Well, when life hands you apocalypses . . . .)

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Picking new detective tricks up as he went.

Name a Canonical character who seems to have taught Sherlock Holmes something that he used to solve a later case . . . .

Surely, Holmes came to his detective career complete, one might think. He seemed so on top of it when Watson first met him. And yet, it only makes sense that Sherlock Holmes, who took so much from so many fields to form his bag of work-tools, who add a few things as he went along.

Got the answer yet? If you do, you were ahead of me on this, until tonight.

Looking over The Sign of the Four, pondering a question on a certain other test of Sherlockian knowledge, I ran across Thaddeus Sholto's explanation of what a clever fellow is brother Bartholomew is.

"How do you think he found out where the treasure was? He had come to the conclusion that it was somewhere indoors: so he worked out all the cubic space of the house, and made measurements everywhere, so that not one inch should be unaccounted for." A lot of detailed explanation later, we learn Bartholomew found four feet in the house that was unaccounted for.

Just like the six feet of hallway that Sherlock Holmes found unaccounted for in "The Norwood Builder." As he tells Watson in A Study in Scarlet, "There is a strong family resemblance about misdeeds, and if you have all the details of a thousand at your finger ends, it is odd if you can't unravel the thousand and first."

And in "The Norwood Builder" we see that in action. Finding a man hidden in a house works on the same basic principle as finding a good-sized treasure in a house, and Sherlock Holmes was not the sort of man to let Bartholomew Sholto's cleverness go un-noted, especially after his untimely demise before Holmes could even make his acquaintance.

So the next time you want to celebrate "Norwood Builder," remember to tip your cap to the late Bartholomew Sholto, the guy who basically solved it first.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Sher-ply and demand.

Just for kicks, I decided to check out the price tags on SHERLOCKED USA tonight.

And boy, nothing will make you feel like you grew up in the Great Depression quicker than that. Want to live like a Baker Street Irregular at the official U.S. Sherlock con in L.A. and get to "go everywhere, see everything, overhear everyone?"

That will be $2, 995, please. Airfare, hotels, meals, tax, tips, dealer's room purchases, and that mysterious $1 fee they tack on, not included.

Old news to anyone who dealt with the con in London, I know, but let me tell you about the olden times, before celebrity autographs were a revenue stream and cons where corporate enterprises. No, I'd better not. Because it just hurts too much to think about how much it's all changed. (But for the record . . . autographs of the entire main cast of classic Trek in Wrath of Khan days, plus a morning jog with George Takei, just for the cost of a standard ticket.) It's a different day -- a too-favorite topic of those of us who remember things being another way once.

It's hard to find a fan niche that isn't being exploited by somebody looking to make a few bucks off of that enthusiasm. Funko "Pop!" vinyl homunculi. Convention corporations. A version of Monopoly or Clue tailored to any TV series that gets above a certain ratings number.

And I can even remember the time this all started . . . they seemed to go after the Trekkies first. Collector plates, making them buy their DVDs episode-by-episode when complete series sets were coming out for other shows, and the first pay-for-an-autograph cons. But eventually the eye of the great hive-minded beastie called commerce saw Sherlockians.

Americans have a lot more time to kill and a lot more folks willing to take our money to give us little moments of fan or collector happiness than ever before, and the days of Jeremy Brett touring the larger PBS cities are past, but we still have this . . .

Of course, I was on my way in to pay an extra six bucks over normal movie ticket prices to see a Rifftrax Live screening of Mothra because the good Carter wanted some MST3K fan fun. So even standing next to cardboard Cumberbatch is not without a price . . . ah, well. Remember when they used to say "the best things in life are free?"

They still are. You just have to figure out how to get past all the people willing to charge you for them.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

What if Donald Trump were a Sherlockian?

It's been an interesting week.

And the thing about interesting weeks, they don't just get over and done so quickly. In talking about things political and Sherlockian, I have, perhaps, been a little politic myself and held back from going full bore ("bore" having the perfect double meaning for the situation). But it does make one think, raising the question, "What if Donald Trump were a Sherlockian?"

From the start, our American political fireball has been loved by his fans for being plain-speaking and not holding anything back, no matter who it might offend. No filters. And we do have a few Sherlockians like that, whom you may have met at some meeting or banquet. Yet those folks don't tend to be running any major publications, well-known podcasts, or having their every wacky comment featured in every stream of Sherlockian social media.

So what would Donald Trump be like as a Sherlockian? Not too hard to imagine, you start with that standard line, and just go . . .

"We are going to make Sherlock Holmes great again. We're going to take him off those charity networks like PBS and CBS and put him on HBO, right after Game of Thrones. And we're going to get a real American Englishman to play him, like that Chris Hemsworth . . . have you heard him do that accent he does . . . fantastic. And Doctor Watson . . . we're going to make him so much smarter than those other guys. A brain surgeon, like my friend Ben Carson. Maybe even a rocket science brain surgeon who uses rockets to perform the surgery . . . a real genius. And I know genius. No one is smarter than me . . . except maybe Sherlock Holmes, but we all know he's fictional, right?"

"We print up some more books, get some really great writers on that. We get Holmes and Watson to stop flirting with each other like those British TV guys made 'em do. You know the British . . . (does offensive hand gestures) . . . Sherlock Holmes was never great until his books got over here, you know that. Mr. Lippincott paid Conan Doyle some good American dollars for him, and the detective thing just took off! Sky high! And that's where we're going to take Sherlock Holmes again."

"What else, what else . . . I have this idea . . . we should have a big fancy dinner once a year. I mean real fancy. And just let the best Sherlock Holmes people come to it. The best! You don't know who Frankie Hays Molsons is, you don't get in. I don't care if you're Canadian. Okay, we might let you in if you're Canadian. They have some good Sherlock Holmes people in Canada. But you still have to pass the test. And we get a real looker to come in and be THE woman every year, like my daughter Ivanka. And I can hand out some kind of fancy coins to the other lookers in the room . . . gold coins, of course. Old doubloons or something. Just like Sherlock Holmes did. I've got all the best ideas."

"We can make a list of all the best Sherlock Holmes people and put it in a vault at Harvard or Yale, so those guys know who to come to when they want to ask a question about Sherlock Holmes. Because you don't want them to just go to anybody. You walk up to some guy on the street, say "Tell me about Sherlock Holmes!" and he says "Oh, he's a junkie from New York!" We can't have that. Nobody thought Sherlock Holmes was a junkie from New York before the Baker Street Babes had a podcast. I blame them for this. We need to make Sherlock Holmes great again!"

Sherlockian Donald Trump is quite a free spirit, it seems. I think his hometown scion society must consist entirely of servants and other paid functionaries, because he seems to also be free of corrections.

"People like to ask me about the Canon. I've got the best Canon. My Canon has all the stuff right in it. Dr. Watson's wound? In the shoulder. There, done, no need to thank me. But my Canon isn't public domain, so if you use that, you have to pay my estate. Look, you can be some poor loser and have an estate when you're dead and try to get people to pay to use your Canon, but I've gotten around that. You want to use my Canon, you pay my estate. And you'll be getting some of the best Canon you ever got, trust me on this."

There's something very therapeutic about channelling a Sherlockian with no boundaries or limits or facts. And the thought of just not holding anything back is very attractive, especially when you do have a few facts on your side. But is it a good idea?

Well, let's ask Sherlockian Donald Trump.

"Hey, do I have anything but good ideas? Sherlockians love me. The best Sherlockians . . . beautiful people, you should see them . . . they turn out by the thousands when I speak at a symposium. And they love my ideas! Like the one about stopping those Canadian writers from stealing all the jobs writing for Canadian Holmes and making them pay for our subscriptions! Great ideas!"

That was a mistake. I think it's time to slip quietly away before he says anything more.

It's been an interesting week.

The things we used to do.

The pre-internet, pre-Cumberbatch world of Sherlockiana might be hard to imagine for someone who came into this hobby in the last decade. There's a lot of old stuff to catch up on, more pastichery than any human can read, and the new just keeps on coming.

And all that makes me wonder if anyone is going to read Christopher Morley novels any more. Or Vincent Starrett's stuff, which was always a little harder to find. Or even Conan Doyle's non-Sherlock work.

Because it used to be that as a Sherlockian, you occasionally ran out of specifically-Sherlock things to do sometimes. Can you imagine?

Before Amazon, Etsy, eBay, and the thousand other ways to buy things on line, we actually had to go out into the world and find stuff about Sherlock Holmes. Unlike using the internet, it was actually possible to go on a massive, all-day, hundreds-of-miles quest for Sherlock and come up empty-handed.

Rather than come back empty-handed, a lot of times, we would just pick up anything at all with a Sherlockian connection. Find an old copy of Where the Blue Begins by Christopher Morley for a couple of bucks? Good enough. A book on British history? That would do. Yet another edition of Doyle's The White Company with a different cover? Sure.

It's why I have a John Kendrick Bangs collection, although I found Bangs more to my taste than some of the later ancillary Sherlockian authors. (And it did make it great fun when he appeared in the Alan Moore comic Promethea.) So many old bookshops had a single J.K. Bangs novel for sale and curiously enough, each store usually had a different one.

But looking at the deluge of material and the availability of a "search" function, I have to wonder if any Sherlockians from here on in are going to go down those sideroads. Will Morley be left to the few true Morley fans in some local region of New York that still celebrates his memory? Will there be new sideroads, as Sherlockians try to get a handle on all the things that occurred during the latest boom, the aftershocks of which have spread wider than anyone could have predicted?

And how deep into Doyle will the voracious readers go?

The future is made for curiosity, and I definitely have some about it.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Popcorn, my dear Watson! Popcorn!

Well, either you like Will Ferrell or you don't like Will Ferrell.

He's an actor that people tend to run hot and cold on, and personally, I'd have had a poorer movie-going life without him. But Sherlock Holmes?

Yeah, I'll take him in the role. Can't be any stranger than Downey.

And remember a little movie called "Without A Clue?" Sherlock can make for great comedy . . . even in his semi-serious outings like the Downey films and the classic "Private Life of Sherlock Holmes." And that Peter Cook take on The Hound of the Baskervilles . . . um . . . yeah . . . remember "Without A Clue?"

Well, ya buys your ticket, ya rolls your dice.

A Will Ferrell/John C. Reilly movie about Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson is definitely going to be a film for people who know how to enjoy stupid. Whether it's good, bad, or indifferent, it's going to be stupid, I can tell you that right now. Stupid comedy is Ferrell's stock in trade, and if you've never enjoyed stupid, you're not going to like this one.

And I can see a lot of Sherlockians passing this one up. And that's probably wise.

But me? Big ol' tub of popcorn and a Coke, earliest show.

Sherlockian politics.

Apparently my Monday's post had a little too much "vaguebooking" to it, and a few folks would like me to get a little deeper into the subject of Sherlockian politics. While I don't know the incident that originally caused the topic to show up in my social media, it is a subject that I have no end of thoughts on, so let's go for it, shall we?

Politics, as we are currently experiencing it in the larger world, is candidates trying to make the rest of us happy enough so that they can have a position in the government. In some elder parts of American Sherlockiana, it works in the opposite direction, where folks try to keep the gatekeeper(s) happy enough so that they can get an invitation or some other recognition. You can make a case for politics being about power or strategy or whatever, but I tend to think it's basically about keeping somebody happy.

It may be the aged leaders of some older group. It may be some faction of attendees at some newer con. But Sherlockian politics, when it comes up, always seems to be about mollifying somebody . . . and sometimes that comes at the expense of someone else.

Take the Baker Street Irregulars of New York, for example, an easy target when it comes to Sherlockian politics. They have an exclusive membership and invitation list with some actual gatekeepers picking and choosing who gets in. And that is being done to appease somebody, somebody who get anxious at the thought of letting just anybody into their annual dinner, for fear some quality of that experience might be ruined.

While most of us have been to a lot of open Sherlockian dinners and can't recall seeing one ruined by some hobos or gypsies or unwashed Sherlockian masses turning up, the history of the B.S.I. does include something one might call "tourist attendees." Without getting into a "who is a real fan" argument, back in the 1980s, they did have some people showing up that actually didn't give a crap about Sherlock Holmes, just coming along with a friend to see the celebrities there. So one could say open invitation anxieties have some roots. Doesn't mean they might not be as valid as they once were. Doesn't mean they're necessarily a good plan for the future. But there are fears that some feel must be appeased.

The cost, of course, is inclusiveness, acceptance, and a level of interaction with the average Sherlockian. Which is the other side of the political fence . . . almost literally in the case of a barriered group . . . in order to keep some happy, a lot of folk are just expected to suck it up until their turn comes around and the high lords of invitation and investiture reach down and pluck them from the masses. Which doesn't make anyone on the outside really that happy, until they're on the inside.

And even on the inside, to be fair, that business can grate a bit.

Sherlockian politics is a lot like regular politics in that there are liberals and conservatives, hot-heads and apathetics, and opinions and opinions. The new generation of Sherlockians has a few contentious issues of their own, and the deeper any of us get into this hobby, the more opinions we're going to have. And you can pretty much find a jerk or two on any side, if you're looking for one, along with some decent folk who just have a little different view than yours. The jerks can really color our views of things if we let them, and at the same time, we can't always go, "La la la, Sherlockiana is the happiest, problem-free place on Earth!" We're not Disney. (Oh, but if we were . . . sigh.)

One of my favorite Sherlockians once compared our stodgiest Sherlockian institution to a train -- very slow to turn (and you definitely have to pick the right place on the tracks!). That person's happy involvement always cheers me, because I can see a bit of the future in them, and  it gives me hopes it will all work out. At least for the most part . . .

Because we're always going to have some Sherlockian politics to stir us up, being human and all. Some people are going to be made happy and some people are going to keep pushing when things get a little too unhappy. Others were just going to be jerks no matter what. Change happens, and we go through it all again.

Yet overall, we seem to have some fun. And so on we go.

Second quarter report: #TreasureOrTorture 2016

It was a big weekend on the month-long quiz front.

After hitting the first quarter-post with 50% of the answers, the halfway point finds us at . . . dare I say it . . . what looks a lot like 96% of the way through the Fourth Annual John H. Watson Canonical Treasure Hunt. (Get that engraved on a walking stick as F.A.J.H.W.C.T.H. and confuse people when you leave it behind in their flat!)

Of course much of that progress is due to some hard work on the part of someone other than me. My timing was pretty bad -- just as my team-mates went into high gear, I was working on a Sunday morning presentation (rewriting song lyrics, digging up quotes, all sorts of stuff you need to do when you're going to be in front of an audience and want to give them a reason to be glad you're up there), then going to see Pete's Dragon and Florence Foster Jacobs once that job was done.

Yes, in the tortoise and the hare race, I have a few hare-like tendencies. But we have a larger team this time around, which means strengths and weaknesses get balanced out among the members . . . which seems to be working so far.

Now comes the really hard part: finishing the darned thing. Going for the 100%.

Because those last few, they are apt to take up all the time we have left. I remember last year. And I've have stared at those last few questions. And stared. And . . .

. . . y'see, that's the problem with wandering off during the middle of the answering. When you come back, you have to deal with the really, really, really tough questions, one of which is a "Mixture" question, something new, I think, that my brain just can't seem to deal with. My team has had to pull the sledge for those burdens thus far. (See a theme popping up here?  I swear, I've answered a few questions for them!)

The thing about these #TreasureOrTorture questions is that sometimes they make absolutely no sense. No sense at all. For weeks and weeks. And then suddenly they do. In any normal testing situation, we could turn our results in now and be satisfied with the marks we get, definitely a passing grade. But this is a Sherlockian ordeal rite of sorts. Those last questions must be wrestled with, giving them as much attention as Holmes gave the St. Clair case or a three-pipe problem.

And on it goes . . .

Monday, August 15, 2016

The denial is always the worst.

The words "Sherlockian politics" turned up in my Facebook feed today.

That phrase never means that happy things are afoot, and a lot of us have had the hobby ruined for years at a time by certain aspects of Sherlockiana that fall under that heading. I won't be getting into those aspects today, as there are definitely others out there that recognize those problems and the way the negatively impact our fellow fans.

The thing that gets me every time, though, are the people who just want to pretend problems don't exist. And that's their right. But when they try to get someone else to ignore something that is obviously upsetting them?

That is where it gets very selfish. "I'm having a good time, so it's all good." "I got mine, so things are okay the way they are." "Don't kill my buzz, man!"

And the problems that trouble us go on to trouble others in years to come.

I've met Sherlockians who happily isolate themselves for the most part, and thus don't have to deal with "Sherlockian politics." But the whole point of having this mutual interest is that we get to communicate, socialize, and share a common joy. It's the non-isolation that makes the hobby.

So we have to pay the price of those troubles if we want to fully experience this hobby of ours. But it doesn't mean they don't exist. And pretending they don't exist doesn't help anyone.

And here's the part that many of the old school Sherlockiana don't see. Change is coming. If we can't be honest and deal with the old troubles, we're not going to be ready for the new rough patches that are coming down the line.

I'm not getting into any of that today, as I'm focussing on that damned denial that comes up every time certain topics are mentioned. You know the ones. And if we admit they exist, the quicker we can all come to a place where we can get back to enjoying this amazing hobby.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Sherlockian States of America.

In trying to come up with a team name for our Sherlockian trivia team, I accidentally stumbled on to something that hadn't really sunk into my Grimpen Mire mind until just now: The twenty-four Sherlockian states of America.

Our trivia team is lucky, and all four of us currently hail from states specifically mentioned in the Sherlockian Canon -- California, Colorado, and Illinois. Or maybe it's not luck -- if you go by the 2015 population figures, there are 232,517,691 people living in the Canonical states. And those poor souls living in the non-Canonical states?

88,901,129. That means about three times the people live in states mentioned in the Canon than those who don't. Meet four random Americans, and three of them are in the "Hey, my state's Canonical club!"

Of course, this probably means we're the ones contributing criminals to England for Holmes to have to deal with. (Yeah, Florida, I'm looking at you!) But a lot of water has passed under the imaginary bridge to Britain since the Victorian era, and like Australia, we've outgrown our criminal past.

So there's twenty-four American states in the Canon. And five of the original thirteen colonies. So you know what that mean? The flag of the Sherlockian States of America looks something like this:

Five stripes for our five original Canonical colonies, with twenty-five little Sherlock silhouettes honoring our twenty-five Sherlockian States of America. "Wait a minute!" you might be exclaiming, if you're an observant sort, "Earlier you said there were twenty-four states named in the Canon!"

Well, yes. But the "Carolinas" get a group reference, and even though South Carolina isn't as exactly referenced as North Carolina, the balance of twenty-five "Sherlock stars" over twenty-four justified their inclusion. (Well, that and the Hansom Wheels scion society of South Carolina. I have a slight bias over Sherlock Holmes clubs with "Hansom" in their name.)

Will Sherlock Holmes ever become so popular that the Sherlockian States of America get all uppity and we decided to secede from the other twenty-five? Well, we do have Texas in our bunch, and you know how they like to bring that up. And Utah might have been known to once or twice try to get recognized as a separate nation. These days, you never know.

What are the rest of the twenty-five Canonically-mentioned states I haven't mentioned here? I'll let you look that up -- we might want the element of surprise when the Sherlockian Civil War comes. My in-laws, my relocating niece, and my best non-Sherlockian pals are safely in our borders, so I'm not too worried on that account.

As for the rest of you, well, hopefully our president will be Sherlockian-refugee-friendly so you can come on over the border. (Yep, talking about you, Indiana and Minnesota. Bring your stuff.)

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Batlock versus Superlock.

When we associate Sherlock Holmes with a classic superhero, the collectors among us will be the first to cite Batman. The comic books are out there. In some tales of the dark knight of Gotham City, an aged Sherlock Holmes is even one of the people Bruce Wayne goes to for tutelage in his quest to become a crime-fighter. And since, among the superhero scene, Batman is seen as the great detective, ties to Sherlock seem only natural.

But me, I've always seen Sherlock Holmes more as a Superman guy.

Batman is a billionaire who wants to punish criminals, seeking vengeance for the death of his parents against all of crime. Young men love Batman movies because he's super-rich so he has all the hot cars and tech, plus he knows all kinds of kung fu and can beat up just about anybody . . . he's the teenage dream a male Katy Perry would have sung about, if male pop stars sang about boy things.

Superman, however, is a country boy who came to the big city to search for truth, both as a reporter and a superhero, and help people who are in trouble gain justice. When there is no one else to help you in Metropolis, there is always Superman, with powers and abilities far beyond those of normal folk.

Now, which of those sounds even remotely like Sherlock Holmes?

Too often, Batman is just not used as a detective. If you think of Gotham City as a house, he's the big, mean dog inside that scares some crooks away just by being there at night, and bites those who dare make their presence known. His main weapon is fear, his main skill is brutality, and, oh, yes, he's filthy, filthy rich and has a bat-Lamborghini and a bat-yacht and a bat-pool-boy.

Superman, however, exists in the daytime world, popularized by a writer he has a relationship with. He helps people with both the big, nation-threatening issues and the small cat-stuck-in-a-tree problems. He's not about gadgets or tricks, just using what powers he has when the need arises. His Moriarty is a big-thinker and an empire builder, not a scary chaotic madman. (Though Superman's Reichenbach did come from ending the threat of someone who matched his powers better . . . sorry, Lex.)

While Batman has long been seen as the greatest detective in comic books, and Sherlock Holmes the greatest detective in fiction, their core values are very, very different. Later writers have tried to give Sherlock Holmes a childhood trauma as a reason for his career choice, but it never sticks. Sherlock Holmes is a man whose powers emerged when he was younger and he saw fit to use them to help people. His brother, from the same "planet," has similar powers but put them to a different use. (Trying to make Mycroft the Supergirl of this metaphor doesn't entirely work -- Sherlock needs a young female cousin who also became a detective.)

It's early in the morning and a couple of my points in this argument have already slipped from my not-yet-warmed-up mind, but I think I'll be sticking with this "Sherlock Holmes is more like Superman" thesis, and they'll come back to me . . . which is good, because I have a feeling there are some Bat-fans out there who might disagree.

And if we are talking the more traditional fan use of the terms "Batlock" versus "Superlock?"

Oh, Superlock. Definitely Superlock.

Friday, August 12, 2016

The best Sherlock Holmes adaptation . . . on television . . . at this moment . . . if nothing else is on . . . or . . .

Every now and then, one of my friends likes to point me in the direction of an article on TV's Elementary like the one on Den of Geek today. Its title?

"Elementary: The Sherlock Holmes Adaptation You Should Be Watching"

No, Den of Geek, I shouldn't be watching Elementary. That would be a very bad thing.

From the outset, this article bravely calls out "the wildly popular Sherlock" and attempts to start citing Elementary's superiority . . . even though, for some odd reason, it's just not as "wildly popular."

"If you're not watching this CBS show, then you're missing the best Sherlock Holmes adaptation on television ..." the article's subtitle reads and from that moment forward, it's on . . . .

Claims that the longer seasons means better characterization than Sherlock. Claims that Joan Watson is treated more like an equal and painted more realistically than John of Sherlock. Claims that making Irene Adler turn out to be Moriarty "gives Irene agency and a life outside of the men in her life," as opposed to Sherlock's "lazy" attempt at same by making her a dominatrix.

Lines abound like "The police in Elementary don't feel as worthless as the detectives in Sherlock do. It feels like they could solve some of these crimes on their own and Sherlock and Joan help do it faster."  (Because we all want a Sherlock Holmes adaptation where he's basically unnecessary.)

I really don't think this article is going to convince a Sherlock fan who has never seen Elementary to watch the show objectively after calling Rupert Graves' Lestrade "worthless." That guy totally has worth. Anderson, Donovan . . . nobody on Sherlock feels as worthless as most of so many Elementary characters who can disappear from the show for weeks or months without note or notice.

Even the article's best claim . . . that Elementary's diversity doesn't "feel shoehorned in," written under a picture of the show's rarely-seen Ms. Hudson . . . rings a little hollow. Females take on standard gender roles. A certain race is stereotypically turned to if you want to learn to steal a car. A surface coat of diversity hardly makes up for the show's very conservative guts.

Have you ever read one of those "news" pieces on some channel opposed to your views and watched them outright turn reality on its head just to make a point that all evidence runs contrary to? Then you might have some idea how I reacted in reading this little piece of creative visualization.

But I have to tell you, I agree with the main point of the article. If you have never watched CBS's Elementary, maybe you should. Will you come away thinking, as the article's writer does, that while "Elementary is not the perfect show. The first season is very hit-or-miss until the twelfth episode, and the second season drags a little, but -- overall -- the show is very, very good?" Maybe so. If you can look far enough past something's flaws, it can be very, very . . . even very, very, very . . . good. And may the Baker Street Irregulars bless you if you are such a fine soul.

For me, however, I still feel like I should be watching the next season of Sherlock. Right now. Boy, would that feel better than reading articles from links passed along on Twitter. Soooo much better.

And P.S. -- no, I'm stopping here. Back to happier Sherlockian topics.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

John Watson is innocent! And also guilty . . . guilty of writing stuff we love!

I awoke this morning to a headline in my Google news feed that read "Sherlock Holmes Writer Wasn't Involved in Human Ancestor Hoax."

And my first thought was, "Of course he wasn't. Watson had nothing to do with that."

The "Piltdown Man," archeological fraud from the early 1900s, has long been a bit like the Jack the Ripper murders to fossil geeks, a curious historical footnote where a criminal seems to have gotten away with going undiscovered. And where there is crime in Britain, who do we always turn to as a suspect?

One Arthur Conan Doyle.

Known for having perpetrated a few harmless frauds like his Professor Challenger pictures and helping popularize some others, like the Cottingley fairies or certain seance trickery, Conan Doyle makes an easy target. Especially after he convinced the world that our records of the world's greatest solver of crime was written by him and not John H. Watson, M.D.

These latest series of articles may report that a study seems to have cleared Doyle of any wrongdoing in the Piltdown business, but his biggest hoax lives on, with his name still appearing on the spine of every single copy of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes in existence. There have been writers who foolishly attempted to claim that Doyle stole work like The Hound of the Baskervilles from another writer, like Fletcher Robinson, but poor John Watson remains, to this day, uncredited by society at large.

The greatest fans of Watson's writings have cherished their grasp of Watson's authorship for a good century now, while those more fearful of being locked away in a madhouse, as many intellectual dissidents of history have been, timidly add "but we really know Conan Doyle wrote them . . . we're just playing." And Conan Doyle's truly great hoax lives on.

But the times are changing. A great share of Americans recently saw past the accepted fraud that a reality TV show character's leadership traits were thought to be, and nominated him to run their country. Perhaps now those same folk can see through Doyle's fraud and help us give John Watson the credit he deserves.

For the moment though, at least one headline has let us know that Watson had nothing to do with that Piltdown man business. I'm still a little bit suspicious of Arthur Conan Doyle, however. (And he's got that weird assassin/serial killer three-names thing going, doesn't he? Maybe we should get back to the Ripper theory . . .)

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

First quarter report: #TreasureOrTorture 2016

Well, August is here, and for the obsessive-compulsive Sherlockian, two competing frustrations are available . . . Pokemon GO and the annual John H. Watson Society Treasure Hunt. While the former might not seem quite as Sherlockian as Holmes rounding up malefactors, both offer the common, frustrating goal of "Gotta catch 'em all!"

With twenty-five percent of the month of August gone by, our team that still has no name does seem to be coming together well for this year's Hunt. Last year at this time, we were off to a late start, about to lose a team member, and the survivors were both knee-deep in their day job duties. This year, we've got four members and a shared document on Google Drive. Yet one thing remains the same: the opportunity to spend literally hours circling a single question apparently having something to do with Sherlock Holmes yet bafflingly phrased to make the answer as elusive as possible.

I mean, it's 2016, right? We can't just go "Why don't ghosts have jobs, get invited to their ex's parties, or have the same privilege as white males?" because you can go into a search engine, type in "ghosts" and immediately get the answer to all three. Questions now have to be search-proof, which also can make them a bit solution-proof. Also, we have to have Owen Dudley Edwards in the mix for some reason. And I didn't buy his book. I saw it, yes, but I didn't buy it.

And so we continue to cudgel our brains for answers. (Want to read more about cudgelling brains? Look it up with a search engine! But use "cudgelled my brains" because otherwise you'll wind up sending random variations on the phrase through the search, which . . . well, not that anyone is doing that this month. Honor and dignity in quiz-taking, you know!)

At the end of the first quarter of the month, our team is well over halfway done with the Treasure Hunt, though we've already hit a few questions that are being endlessly circled and remain problematic. Wandering randomly through the sixty cases of Sherlock Holmes (and beyond) does take you to some places you might have forgotten, and are happy to be reminded of, but one also starts to remember that making up quizzes is much more fun than taking quizzes . . . perhaps the reason my local society members used to fight so hard to win our quizzes, the winner always getting to make up the next one.

How are the other teams across the globe doing this year? Well, since we're not all meeting in Rio to do this in matching national uniforms with TV commentators, I don't really know. But I wish them well . . .

. . .  and continued sanity.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

"It is always a joy to me to meet a Sherlockian, Mr. Nunn . . ."

Having told of my intentions to mug a visitor to Sherlock Peoria yesterday, it seems only fitting that I pen a few lines upon the results of said encounter here today.

The good Carter and I met Rob Nunn downtown at what is currently Peoria's most fashionable bistro, Thyme, for a bit of lunch among enough hunting trophies to make Hugo Baskerville's banquet hall seem appropriately decorated. Rob is a very genial fellow and the conversation took off quite quickly, going on long after the food was served, eaten, and the table cleared.

Topics ranged from the Sherlockian history of St. Louis, why some city's scion societies thrived more than others, great Sherlockians we have in common, the Baker Street Irregulars, the Baker Street Babes, fan fiction, the unknowable future of this hobby of ours, and many, many other bits, including some detours through comics or movies.

Once we vacated the restaurant and made our way into deepest, darkest Peoria, where the secret lair in which this blog is written resides, the conversation just rolled on, and in the midst of the Sherlockian library here, Rob's methodical working his way down the bookshelves brought up many more topics including his own research and writings (which I'm sure I'm not the only one who will be eager to see one day), and helped me realize that I own a few things I had forgotten all about.

Going through books, one topic that I realized we now need a history of is that of Sherlockian publishing. A few small publishers of some very important Sherlockian tomes have come and gone at this point, and there are some great stories that go with each of them. Rob was happy to help me clean out a few duplicates in the library, and I was delighted to see them get into appreciative hands. I've been spreading a few things around at 221B Cons past, but it's always especially nice to see things redistributed a bit more locally.

All in all, it was a very good day, reminiscent of ones I had back in the 1980s, when meeting some very great Sherlockians of note for the first time. Spending time with another Holmes fan who is so well up on our culture that one doesn't have to stop any wandering path the conversation might take . . . well, that is some of the best time one can have as a Sherlockian.

Of course, it wasn't all joy, especially for our guest, as Rob was eventually cornered into watching the DVD of The Great Whimsical Sherlockian Tour of Oklahoma and Texas, as a.) I had forgotten the whole thing is on YouTube anyway, and b.) something about the aging process makes a person just want to start showing vacation slides to younger humans whenever possible.

But it was a grand visit, and I'm looking forward to heading down toward the St. Louis area again one of these days and visiting Rob on his own turf, as well as some other friends in that district.

Considering that technological advancements and our general fear-based political atmosphere have converted the phrase, "Oh, one of my Sherlockian correspondents is dropping by for a visit," to the much creepier "Some guy I met on the internet is coming over!" I am very happy to report that a Sherlockian is still a Sherlockian is still a Sherlockian, whether snail mail or Twitter is your method of connection. Getting together for a visit works just the same as it always has.

Now I just have to get back to the one thing Rob Nunn and I didn't discuss overly much yesterday . . . the John H. Watson Society Treasure Hunt, which we are both on the same team attempting to solve. For some reason, I keep finding excuses . . . like blogging this bit . . . to wander off.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Preparing to mug the guest.

It's been quite a while since we had any visitors wander through Sherlock Peoria.

In the pre-internet days, when letters and social calls were a primary means of Sherlockian communication, both visits here and there seemed a lot more common. Perhaps it isn't the world, but my personality that changed with age, however, so I'm not going to commit to that thought. In any case, today we're having company in our Sherlockian river city.

Rob Nunn, my John H. Watson Society Treasure Hunt team-mate for the second year in a row, is coming up for the day to confer upon the devilish quiz and dwell upon other matters Sherlockian, and as with any preparation for company, a little cleaning is involved. The good Carter, who has a little more house-pride than myself, has definitely been working harder in that area, while my attention has drifted to the more Sherlockian areas.

Like "Why do I have so many coffee mugs when I don't drink coffee?"

My library shelves are overflowing with the damned things. Holding pens. Holding bookmarks. Holding anything but coffee. So I e-mailed Rob, "Do you drink coffee?"

The first half of my Sherlockian career seems to have been about collecting Sherlock Holmes related items. Now in the second half, it's more about finding good homes for all of those things that never came into use. Hence the assortment of coffee mugs below that I am today going to try to push off on my partially unsuspecting guest.

Some are just Sherlock pictures, some are duplicates, one is for a jazz Sherlock Holmes society with that I never had anything to do with so I'm not even sure why I have it. One late entry that didn't make the picture is from a "First Annual" event that never had a second incarnation . . . making the "Annual" a little awkward at this point.

Coffee. I just don't get it. Not a fan of beer, either, but a pint glass makes an excellent repository for some freshly brewed iced tea.

And just in case you think I'm totally against Sherlockian mugs, let me show you the ones that I'm clinging to for my made-from-scratch hot chocolate that is a part of my breakfast routine at least three times a week.

Now these, to me, are proper cocoa mugs, a couple inches deeper than the traditional coffee mug and with a handle I can get all four fingers into. Plus, Paget drawings and some excellently chosen Sherlockian quotes that are an excellent way to start the day ahead. Maybe that's why I like them so much, as they set a future tone rather than reflect upon times past.

Anyway, actual guest today! Huzzah!

Friday, August 5, 2016

Something's happening here . . . .

Ah, we would just like the world to be simple, wouldn't we?

A fellow in the same position of Sherlock Holmes's sometime client back in the day, the Pope, came out against the concept of gender choice this week. Meanwhile, on this month's Three Patch Podcast, we got an episode called "221B Pride," which displays a dizzying array of the kind of thoughts such folk preferring a simpler worldview would like to dismiss offhand.

But the world can definitely be a little more complex than we'd like sometimes.

Listening to this month's Three Patch Podcast might come easy to the younger, more-active-in-fanfic culture, portions of our Sherlockian world. To those of us raised in a more distant decade, in what we'd like to think of as simpler times, a lot of what's covered can occasionally be a little hard to wrap one's head around. And at such moments, the question "What does all this have to do with Sherlock Holmes and John Watson?" can definitely arise. And it should.

Because when something doesn't fit into our neat, orderly view of the world, it means it's time to start figuring things out. What are we missing? What aren't we seeing? In the Victorian world of Sherlock Holmes, you had someone to call upon when that happened.

And his name was Sherlock Holmes.

Perhaps we aren't dealing with demon hounds, mysterious children on the roof who kill people with thorns, or missing boyfriends of near-sighted girls. No, but we're still trying to figure out our place in a world that is as mysterious as it ever was to those not willing to accept the first theory presented to them, like the men of Scotland Yard. Especially in times of change. And that is where Sherlock Holmes comes in.

If you're aware of all of the aspects of Sherlock Holmes fan culture, you know full well that gender roles and exploration of sexuality entered the picture with our latest generation of Holmes fans. At first, a few elder Sherlockians actually tried to do the gatekeeper thing and deny new ways of Sherlocking could even be a part of Sherlockiana, but that failed miserably. We've definitely moved beyond the "Watson wrote 'butt' in 'Empty House' . . . tee hee hee!" phase of Sherlockiana. And why?

Sherlock Holmes was, and is, all about challenging one's self to find out all the facts, to fully understand a set of circumstances and what's really going on in a world that is always presenting us with new and mysterious situations.

Three Patch Podcast's "221B Pride" episode might come as a little bit of a challenge to a Sherlockian who came up in the 1970s or before, when some of us didn't even know "gay" existed. (Remember how "straight" Liberace was supposed to be?) Some of the terminology might, at first, even be daunting. But it all comes with time and can give you a lot to think about . . . and mental exercise is always good. (If you can wrap your head around the Sherlolly pride discussion, which I particularly loved, you're can really tickle the gray cells.)

And more than that, it's good to see our friend Sherlock helping people solve their personal mysteries, even if he's not doing it directly. Very good.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Watson Society Treasure Hunt? FIRST!!!

Last night, the fourth annual John H. Watson Society Treasure Hunt dropped, and the competitors are already hard at work, filling their August with eighty-one questions that, if anything like last year, will vex them for weeks to come. Being a naturally competitive spirit, this year I have decided to abandon my team for one morning and attempt to be the first to answer every single question in this test of Sherlockian wits in an amount of time you will surely find simply astonishing.

Ready to see it? Herewith the answers, starting time 6:53 AM.

1. His breath.
2. May.
3. Breakfast syrup.
4. Clouseau.
5. Sole and heel.
6. Birds.
7. Birds.
8. John, Rose McGowan, a shillelagh.
9. A picture.
10. WITCH!
11. Elvis. Graceland. Orange Crush.
12. Viking funeral.
13. Printed stationery heading.
14. Rebuilt churches.
15. Kansas.
16. His umbrella. (Family friendly alternative answer.)
17. Buzzing flatulence.
18. The lady doctor said "no."
19. Wedding.
20. Three-way.
21.  Flat tire.
22. Bald chin.
23. Home.
24. The throne.
25. Sign 4.
26. Pretty girls.
27. A rare comic book.
28. Charles Rigby. Strawberry fields.
29. Dracula.
30. Boxer rebellion. Fighting dachshund.
31. Deep-fried morel.
32. Freckles. Wendy and Roy.
33. Sperm count.
34. Nose.
35. Caucasian peni.
36. His neighbor girl when he was eight.
37. The Adventure of Whoops, There It Is.
38. Right. And right.
39. Some rapper. I don't know.
40. A movie theater or a meat locker.
41 Charles Chingrabber.
42. The Yankee Peddler.
43. Moses. The Sign du Four.
44. Neanderthal.
45. Small hands.
46. Bow tie.
47. Jean and Joan and who knows what.
48. Fobby Granger.
49. Van Goff. Cardboard box. Golden earrings.
50. Radar Love.
51. Unmentionables.
53. Dr. Milton Hefferin.
54. Gum.
55. Of Seven Gables.
56. Bordello Sal.
57. Johnny Sailboat. Sand.
58. Justin Beiber.
59. Marla Maples. Larry, Moe, and Joe Besser.
60. The Fifty-headed Irregular. Beer and soda.
61. Dead.
62. Her gender.
63. Bach.
64. Jabez Mary Foodcourt. Jabez. Mary. Foodcourt.
65. A baby.
66. Fat-eyes Flanders. Optometrist visit.
67, The Thames. John Openshaw.
68. Amos. Bertram.
69. Beety McBeetface.
70. Watson.
71. That shadow is crazy.
72. Aunt Flow.
73. Mary Morstan.
74. Up Sheet Crick.
75. M@#$*@-f#$#@&)!
76. The Pitcher of Eumaclistes.
77. Post three-way pregnancy.
78. Arthur Conan Doyle.
79. Granny Smith.
80. Hair tonic.
81. "My first name is 'Grandpa.'"

THERE! DONE! 7:23 AM, August 1st. A whole half hour.

The gauntlet is thrown!


5:34 P.M.

82. His identical twin brother with the Tapanuli Fever.
83. Mrs. O'Leary's cow.
84. "Mmmm, hookah!"
85. Four limbs.
86. Beety McBeetface and Hothead Hannigan. Blooderific.
87. The restaurant closed hours ago.
88. In the toilet. After Violet Smith turned out to be the Wonder Twin that could turn into water.
89. "Fig" Newton and the monkey from "Raiders of the Lost Ark."
90. Invention.
91. That corner at the end of "Blair Witch Project."
92. The horse. He hated that horse.
93. That he lived in New York, used heroin, and liked hookers.
94. "Too Loose" LaTrek.
95. Abraham Lincoln. The real Abraham Lincoln.
96. Habit of nude Tuesdays.
97. John H. Watson
98. Have a society named after him.
99. Kinky Friedman. Ratzo.
100. Abner Doubleday.

5:49 P.M.

DONE! BEAT THAT, CANADA! (Or Italy. Or India. Or Minnesota. Or any other nation that is probably going to outscore us when the month is done.)