Thursday, November 30, 2017

John Watson makes his move.

With sexual harassment cases involving prominent figures dominating the news, I suppose it was inevitable that someone brought up the name of Sherlock Holmes . . . even if just to declare his innocence. That occurred on Twitter yesterday, and the feed has been so fast and furious of late that I can't even find the tweet to give that person credit. I have to agree with them, though.

Sherlock Holmes has a pretty clean record when it comes to his dealings with the fair sex. Even in Billy Wilder's The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, when he's confronted with a beautiful and confused naked woman in his sitting room late at night, he's a good guy. Watson, however, instantly assumes Holmes did something . . . but then, Watson is the problem when we start looking at the duo's ways with women.

I know, I know, Watson is our buddy, our pal, and probably just in love with Sherlock, according to the greater portion of today's fans. But when you get back to his primary courting episode, recorded by his own hand, problems do arise.

While we tend to think of Watson as noble, in the original novel The Sign of Four, he is needy and out-of-work and takes advantage of a terrified woman in a stressful situation to jump-start his social life. He portrays himself as a nervous innocent, but when you look at what actually happened there, questions can be raised.

One of the sure signs of predatory behavior in the workplace is that man who takes advantage of a power imbalance to satisfy his needs. In The Sign of Four, a frightened client coming to the one professional who can help her is definitely a situation with a power imbalance. If Mary Morstan had shown up at a new psychiatrist's office and that psychiatrist had asked to keep his buddy in the room for their sessions, and the buddy asked her to marry him in the next forty-eight hours, we'd definitely be going "WHAT THE . . . ?" But the consulting detective business, being new at the time with no defined professional standards, it doesn't come up.

Of course, dating wasn't easy in the 1880s. We didn't even have the word "girlfriend" in usage in a male-female sort of way until the 1920s, and if families didn't help you out early on, asking a woman to coffee probably wasn't a handy option. But the "it was a different time" line comes up a lot of late, so we might not want to trot that one out right away.

Watson's sudden courtship of Mary Morstan has room for a much larger study than this early morning blog post has room to do. One could even see its flaws as reasons that the Watson-Morstan marriage actually didn't happen as expected, and the timeline troubles we've always seen with the doctor's unnamed wife are party the fault of his sudden proposals to clients. (Even if he was just desperately trying to beard his true feelings for his room-mate.)

But at least Sherlock Holmes is clear, as far as I can see. But since we just have Watson's testimony about his own relations with the women of three continents, you do have to wonder.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

No yeti need apply.

"The world is big enough for us. No ghosts need apply."
-- Sherlock Holmes, "Sussex Vampire"

We live in a world that seems to be increasingly filled with deniers and believers. Or maybe they're just getting more press than they used to. They believe what they choose, twisting facts to fit theories, and deny what doesn't fit their purposes. The sort of folk Sherlock Holmes would find completely abhorrent, though he would surely deal with them in a charming and subtly snarky manner.

Because it's easy to want to think that things are different than they are. The world can seem so much more fascinating if one adds imagination to the limits of one's knowledge and surroundings when no new data is coming in. Like that area of interest called cryptozoology. The pseudoscience of creatures we have no proof of.

The Loch Ness monster. Vampires. Bigfoot. Space aliens.

Sherlock Holmes dealt with two of those in Canon and movies, proving that what was thought to be something out of myth was something made of more practical stuff. The journey he takes Watson, Baskerville, and company on in The Hound of the Baskervilles is a similar trip, and one man has been going on for as long as man has been man.

My own personal journey to Sherlock started with cryptobeasties, as I've told many a time before. My pre-adolescent fascination with UFOs, yetis, and the like where laser-focused on a movie preview where Holmes and Watson faced the Loch Ness monster in a rowboat. And eventually I got to see Sherlock expose it for the secret government submarine that it was in that movie.

I've even accidentally wound up on the wrong side of a bigfoot a few years ago, some old YouTube footage of which turned up over the holiday. A practical joke on my brother's new trail-camera, meant to spot deer, didn't fool my brother, but wound up circulating among those who track bigfoot sightings. (The bigfoot in question is my mother in a gorilla suit that I've had for years.) But even being on the knowing side of an accidental bigfoot hoax, I still remembered the stories from my youth, the evidence found, and held out some small spark of wonder that an abominable snowman could be out there somewhere.

Until today.

News stories began popping up of scientists doing DNA tests on those classic bits of yeti evidence I remembered hearing about since I was a kid. And the DNA they found was, in the end, Himalayan bear DNA. Never visiting or learning about the Himalayas, young me never considered that there might be bears there that could be mistaken for a big, furry man-beast. Bears!

Like Sherlock Holmes exposing the demon hound of Grimpen Mire as a regular dog, the like-minded folk of our world just exposed Himalayan yetis as regular old bears.

And really, if we have bears, what do we need yetis for? We have gorillas, and orangutans, and all sorts of other critters that can walk around like we do for a moment or two and look people-ish. The world, as Sherlock Holmes said, should be big enough for us. And yet, even by allowing Mr. Sherlock Holmes into it as a person of a fictitious sort, we still seem to always be wanting to expand it a bit.

So today, I happily gave up yetis for bears as a personal Sherlock Holmes story came to an end for me. But you know how it is with Sherlock Holmes stories . . . there's always another one out there waiting for us. He's good that way.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Other people's stories.

After finishing a holiday binge-watch of another larger-than-life character like our pal Sherlock today, I couldn't help but notice a very big similarity to the original stories of Sherlock Holmes. And that is this . . .

They aren't really about Sherlock Holmes.

I suspect that's why Sherlock Holmes fans often seem to have a harder time writing about Sherlock Holmes than those who can see him from a professional distance. A good Sherlock Holmes story, traditionally, hasn't been about Sherlock Holmes.

It's a good story about something that happened to his client, and he just comes in to help them get resolution. It's a good story about something that happened long before, whose after-effects are now showing up in someone's life. It's a good story about a retired army surgeon who meets a colorful character . . . but you only get to tell that one once . . . and maybe allude to it a bunch of times.

A good story tells us something either about ourselves or about other people in a way that helps us see through their eyes.

"Speckled Band" is interesting when you consider it that way, because it's Helen Stoner's tale of gothic horror, but then Sherlock Holmes actually inserts himself into Helen's place by removing her from her own bedroom and staying there himself. Sure, he doesn't put a wig and a dress on, but it's a little like he walked into a horror story and announced he was going to stunt double for the heroine. And then it becomes his story.

I suspect one of the reasons that fans like writing about Moriary so much is that Moriarty makes the story about Sherlock Holmes from the start. Moriarty is Sherlock Holmes's own mystery tale, in which Sherlock is pretty much his own client. None of those pesky additional characters to have to figure out and give life or story to . . . you say "Sherlock" and "Moriarty" and people just know they have to fight. It's actually a pretty lazy route to go, except for the fact that you have to be pretty genius to effectively write a true battle between two super-geniuses. (Which we get damned few of, sad to say.)

I think that's why I enjoyed Theodora Goss's The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter more than many other new Sherlock Holmes stories I've read recently, because it had Sherlock all the way through, but wasn't about him. He didn't have to have character development, or come to some great life-changing revelation.  Other characters carried the weight of the story.

It should come as no surprise to people that the great Sherlock Holmes story of this century is always Sherlock coming to terms with his true feelings for John Watson. It's as good a story as any other we have to tell about Sherlock Holmes himself. One could tell a story about him overcoming drug addiction, or dealing with Moriarty, but it's as hard to tell an addiction story as it is to write super-genius battles. Telling a story of two people discovering their love for each other is the most relatable tale for most writers or readers to connect with other people on.

But in the end, we need more good stories about other people that we can relate to before Sherlock Holmes walks in the door to their lives. It's what he does for them that makes him a miracle of a character. And what he does for us, as he does for them.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The second labor of our modern Shercules.

The subject of bibliography came up last week, and that constant desire to somehow create a resource that points to any known work on Sherlock Holmes. And how it now seems almost incredible that once a single man made a pretty good run at such a thing. Which makes sense, because Ron DeWaal was, indeed, a runner.

When DeWaal's The World Bibliography of Sherlock Holmes came out, in that age before computers, when typewriters and index cards were our tools, he managed to list 6,221 entries of things having to do with Sherlock Holmes and his associated folk. That was 1974.

Six years later, in 1980, he came out with an additional volume, The International Sherlock Holmes, which brought his grand total up to 12,356.

In 1994, The Universal Sherlock Holmes built on that and doubled it again to 24,703.

In 1994. Twenty-three years ago. Now, a single fan fiction archive seems to have over 59,187 stories featuring Sherlock Holmes. Search the major online retailer for "Sherlock Holmes" related merch and you get 45,269 results.

Sherlock Holmes is a monster.

We can't track him precisely any more. We can see patterns, collect the big events, follow certain trails that interest us . . . but the totality of Sherlock? He could probably take out Cthulhu, if all his words were given physical form.

He's kind of scary, if you start going down that road. And our Van Helsing, for those two decades from 1974 to 1994 is surely not up to tracking this immortal grown so powerful of late.

But, truth be told, none of us needs that monster. We can be happy with our own little manifestations, be it Basil of Baker Street, Johnlock of BBC seasons one and two, or just those sixty tales in the Doubleday Complete. So many of the best ideas, games, and tales come up time and again, whatever community of Sherlockians you find yourself in. One needn't read it all to be complete, or even an adequate Sherlockian.

The only scorecard any of us really needs to fill out is the measure of our own pleasure in what we do encounter about the great detective. The fact that there is so much of it out there just means we don't have to look very hard any more to find something else to delight us.

But, hey, if someone wants to battle that modern hydra that is the totality of Sherlock Holmes materials, well, we're all cheering for you. And I'll add a Sherlock-type "By Jove!" as well, because you might want to be a demigod son or daughter of Jupiter to pull it off.

And get a legendary crew besides.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Jupiter worship in Sherlockian England.

Sometimes all it takes is one quote, singled out for a hard look.

"By Jove!" John Watson cries in A Study in Scarlet, "if he really wants someone to share the rooms and the expense, I am the very man for him."

So it was that the entire Canon of Holmes began with in invocation of the god Jupiter, the sky-god, He of thunderbolts and eagles. And Jove blesses John H. Watson with Sherlock Holmes.

Inspector Gregson invokes Jupiter when Lestrade appears. Holmes calls upon Jupiter in the punishment of James Windibank, and again when Jupiter blesses Peterson with the blue carbuncle. Clerks, colonels, and clients call to the heavenly father of the ancient Greeks, but none more that Mr. Sherlock Holmes himself.

Jupiter not only blessed John Watson with a room-mate, He brought in one of his own followers to fill that job. Page through all the times Sherlock Holmes swears something by Jove, and you'll not only be surprised by the amount, but the sheer fact of how much Sherlock seems to be surprised or impressed by things enough to call in Jupiter.

Sometimes, it's as minor as a "Wow, it's nine o'clock aleady?" moment. Sometimes, it's as big as "Yikes! Here's comes the baddie!" But it's a definite part of Holmes's custom.

One of the best years of Holmes's career is the legendary 1895, which is also the year he comes home one day with a bloody harpoon, having supposedly gored a pig to help his case. But a proper sacrifice to Jupiter would have been an ox, so who's to say he wasn't fibbing a little bit on that account, just to seem a little less . . . well, sacrifice-y. Just a coincidence that 1895 was such a good year?

Jupiter's residence has always been said to be in the upper elevations, and where was it that Sherlock Holmes headed after his greatest battle? To the highest mountains, to pay his respects to Olympus?

Well, you never know.

Over the decades, Sherlock Holmes has been corralled into many a religion via a Sherlockian adherent of said faith. And sure, "By Jove!" could have just been a favorite exclamation of his, as well as the other folk in the Canon who uttered it. Not like they were all in some Jupiter cult or anything . . . .

There's just a lot of Jove-ing going on in the Canon of Holmes. By Jove.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Beyond the pale in "Beryl Coronet"

Tonight was another lively gathering of Peoria Public Library's Sherlock Holmes Story Society, and there was a particularly tenacious theory running through our discussion of "The Beryl Coronet."

It first came to me when I saw Mary Holder described by John Watson . . . a medical doctor . . . as follows:

"She was rather above the middle height, slim with dark hair and eyes, which seemed darker against the absolute paleness of her skin. I do not think I have ever seen such a deadly paleness in a woman's face. Her lips, too, were bloodless, but her eyes were flushed . . ."

She's been seeing a man of noble rank in the evenings, who has "been everywhere, seen everything," who has "a great personal beauty," and a "glamour of his presence." A "fascination of his manner" that is hard to resist. He draws her away from a household she was devoted to, and into the night.

Mary Holder's last words to her uncle, written in a note, run thus: "Do not worry about my future, for that is provided for; and, above all, do not search for me, for it will be fruitless labour, and an ill service to me. In life or in death, I am ever . . . Your loving Mary."

In life or in death?

Sherlock Holmes, known for bending fireplace pokers in "Speckled Band," confesses that he is "exceptionally strong in the fingers," and yet when he tries to bend the broken coronet, he admits "it would take me all my time to break it. An ordinary man could not do it."

And yet, Sir George Burnwell, Mary Holder's creature of the night, snapped the coronet in an instant.

Sherlock Holmes keeps John Watson at a particular distance during this case, telling his friend, "I only wish you could come with me, Watson, but I fear it won't do. . . . I may be following a will-o'-the-wisp."  A will-o'-the-wisp? A legendary creature of the night?

We wondered, as we discussed "The Beryl Coronet" tonight, why Arthur Conan Doyle would name the son in the story "Arthur." Writing a character with your own name is ridiculously awkward, and he must have had a reason for going that route. In love with his own cousin, like Arthur Holder? Or was Doyle naming the man for the actual person who figured in the story.

An Arthur who was loyal and loving to a woman who was spirited away by a creature of the night? A man written of five years later under the name "Arthur Holmwood" in the novel, Dracula?

Consider how insane Alexander Holder seems when he first shows up at 221B Baker Street: Renfield insane. And consider the end of the tale, and Sherlock Holmes's words there: "I think we may safely say that she is wherever Sir George Burnwell is. It is equally certain, too, that whatever her sins are, they will soon receive a more than sufficient punishment."

A wooden stake, perhaps?

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

A personal 221B across time.

The most recent Baker Street Babes podcast is a thought-provoking thing. They're speaking to Chuck Kovacic, a California Sherlockian long known for his penchant for 221B Baker Street and the particulars of re-creating it.

I've known a few Sherlockians who went for that greatest of home improvements, including one that famously appeared in my own modest town of 15,000 about the time of first book's launch, which seemed outright sorcery. Attempting to create a 221B sitting room in your own home was probably more prevalent in the 1980s and early 1990s, when antique malls were booming, eBay wasn't cherry-picking the good stuff, and you could go Victorian on a budget.

You can surely do such a thing today, probably more easier with enough cash, the internet being so handy at finding things and all, but one can definitely look at 221B-creation as a hobby with different eras to it.  One day, doing that thing will probably depend more on new imitation Victoriana than original antiques, at which point we'll hit yet another era for the specialist in Sherlockian sitting rooms.

But listening to Chuck and the babes made me wonder about something I don't remember any of the 221B re-creators specializing in, and that was about eras as well.

Because when you think of 221B Baker Street, when do you think of it?

In the mid-1880s, before John married for the first time?

During the hiatus, when Mrs. Hudson and Mycroft were preserving it, waiting for Sherlock's return?

Or at the end of its time, just before Sherlock packed it all up and moved to Sussex?

In collecting antiquities for such a room, does a truly detail-oriented Sherlockian pick a date and then furnish their 221B with only materials available up to that year, month, and day?

The latest newspapers on Jack the Ripper could give the room a theme of Holmes during that period.

A few charred relics might show it was after Moriarty tried to burn it down in "The Final Problem."

A souvenir or two of Watson's wedding could place it exactly post-departure for John.

Scenes from exact moments in a given story could be re-created, like the famous hat scene from "Blue Carbuncle."

Having a 221B room suddenly seems like a never-ending project, as you're suddenly not just imitating a place in a single moment, but a place that evolved over the course of two decades.

Watson's title for his little list in A Study in Scarlet ("Sherlock Holmes -- his limits") becomes especially ironic when you add in the Sherlockian dimension, as it seems that Sherlock Holmes and the celebration of that great detective has very few limits indeed.

Which makes it a very grand hobby to be a part of.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Running on six to ten per year.

The fall 2017 letter to the membership of the Baker Street Irregulars came out this morning, which is always some interesting reading. The struggles of maintaining the status quo while attempting some often-ambitious goals in an 87-year-old organization come out in a detail you don't see in The Baker Street Journal, the club's public face. The topic that always fascinates me is the annual call for suggestions of names for invitations to the BSI's annual dinner and membership in the club.

"Fascinates me," because if you're at all familiar with this blog, you know I've disagreed with the club's membership rules since my run-in with their male-only policy of the 1980s. That part was fixed soon after, but the hazy gate-keeping that held it in place for so long remains to this day.

As is explained in depth in the current BSI letter, not everyone gets to be a member of the Irregulars, as much as it has been a "bucket list" item for many a Sherlockian since Baring-Gould wrote the club up in the first Annotated, if not before. The current pace for BSI membership is limited to under ten people per year, world-wide. We have more copies of Beeton's Christmas Annual in the world than that, making a newly-minted BSI the rarest of the rare.

This brings up a real quandry for the group: Membership has long been seen as an honor for Sherlockian service, which meant a bottleneck as the baby boom generation piled up the accomplishments. Membership, however, also has to bring in Irregulars who can keep the club going, as is brought out in this year's call for "doers who will make a difference in the BSI from the minute they receive their shilling." Dealing with both of those aspects at a rate of 6-10 humans per year makes for some hard casting choices, I'm sure.

Trying to predict who can play a part, who is a growing talent, who is a worthwhile established choice with some mileage left in them, who might flame out after their initial burst of Sherlockian energy . . . hard casting indeed. The "loose membership cap of three hundred," deemed necessary to hold the status quo, makes it all the harder in an increasingly global Sherlockian world. But it's a self-imposed hardship.

The idea of a "status quo" that must be maintained has created something of a Sherlockian eugenics program out of the Baker Street Irregular membership. Instead of adapting, expanding, and embracing the world as it is, policies like banning all electronic devices (which I suppose must include cameras, since it's hard to find a film one these days), come into place.

What's funny is that it's just a social gathering at the center of a weekend of social gatherings that is going to work out in any case. Sherlockians have less-restrictive events across the world all the time and have just as much fun, if not more, than at the banquet tables of the tuxedoed and ball-gowned on that one night of the year. Hardly worth a comment, right?

Yeah. But they keep sending me the letter and I've got blog-space to fill, so comment, I will, even if New York never makes my list of travel goals these days.

Friday, November 10, 2017

The Sherlock Gnomes Test.

This week, among the smorgasbord of serious issues that 2017 has been dealing out on a daily basis, we got a nice, fluffy trivial issue for Sherlockians to disagree on: The first real look at a movie called Sherlock Gnomes.

The sequel to an animated garden gnome story based on Romeo and Juliet, Sherlock Gnomes looked further up the English literature timeline for its inspiration. Not sure if it's because garden gnomes have to be British somehow or what. (I would think "German" for some reason.)

As it still contains "Gnomeo and Juliet" from the first movie, this adventure of Sherlock Gnomes definitely doesn't seem to be an adaptation of anything Canon, just more gnomish hijinx played for the kiddies. And that's where the questions arise.

Sherlock Gnomes is made for an audience who cannot yet recognize who Sherlock Holmes really is. It may be many a child's first exposure to the deerstalker and Invernesse cape as symbols of the unofficial detective expert . . . if they're even old enough to understand that concept.  It might seem a little more of an exploitative attempt at brand recognition with the parents and grandparents who'll be dragging the tykes to the theater. It also might just seem like one more happy celebration of Sherlock Holmes as a cultural icon.

Is it a good thing? Is it a bad thing? Is it even a thing worth caring about?

Were this a political point worth fighting, or even DC/Marvel movie superhero feuding, the "Oh, look, more crap Sherlock!" party and "All Sherlock is good Sherlock!" party would have pundits out there battling it out right now. In a way, we're lucky that Sherlock Holmes stays out of the mainstream most of the time, so we don't have that sort of opinion war going on constantly over minutiae.  Oh, wait . . . I'm overlooking what HAS to be out there . . .


Sherlock Gnomes reaction videos on YouTube. Just search "sherlock gnomes preview reaction" and you can literally spend an hour watching people react to the movie trailer for Sherlock Gnomes. A whole new classification of Sherlockian video for us to add to our completist Sherlockian catalogs.

Hear people laugh at the "No ship, Sherlock!" joke. See the physical impact of a fart joke. See them immediately go to Amazon and order The Complete Sherlock Holmes. Well, maybe not that last part.

This has to be the most derivative of derivative of derivative Sherlockian content in the history of Sherlock Holmes. And I kind of love it.

I mean, you didn't think a guy who sets all these thoughts on the internet for random passersby is going to pooh-pooh reaction video hobbyists, did you?  And watching people being made happy by a silly Sherlock Gnomes preview makes me glad for that movie, which didn't seem to be making me too happy before watching other people made happy by it . . . curious world we live in now, isn't it?

Not sure what kind of test this "Sherlock Gnomes Test" we're getting actually is, but it's certainly a vehicle for going down some new Sherlockian roads. And I don't know about you, but I never mind that.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

"Watsonian" a new level above "Sherlockian?"

Okay, full honesty here. Until this year, I was very reluctant to join the John H. Watson Society for one very awful reason: Sherlock Holmes is the reason I'm in this hobby, and as fond as I am of ol' John H., he's always been . . . well, the second banana who couldn't exist without the main man.

Being a "Watsonian" just seemed so . . . well . . . .

You know, as I grow older and wiser, sometimes I actually know when to stop digging myself into a deeper hole.

Anyway, bit by bit, I started to be impressed by the efforts of the John H. Watson Society, despite not being a participant. They soon proved to be more than just a well-funded rehash of a 1980s-style scion society as new members came in and brought some impressive skillsets with them.

The Watsonians have done some good stuff (though that torturous "Treasure Hunt," well, we can talk about that), but this week. Wow. This week.

Don't think I've been as impressed by a single Sherlockian publication in a very long time. Coming in at 148 pages, the latest issue of The Watsonian is a remarkable collection of work. Living in the attention-deficit-disorder mode that the world can inspire these days, I get surprised when I find myself suddenly past the halfway point of a book that's not been in the house very long, and the weighty Watsonian counts as a book. This issue is good. Very good.

And it makes me laugh, too. Remembering certain Sherlockians of a couple decades ago who were SO certain that all the great Sherlockian scholarship had been done, who also had no idea just how smart Sherlockians could get as the decades passed and new tools became available, international cooperation became more commonplace, and minds opened to a few more possibilities.  Yes, we still do some silly fandom stuff, as always. But man, the sharp Sherlockians . . . er, Watsonians . . . out there are razor keen. And hard working.

So, you want to add to your brain's contents on Sherlock's favorite violinist, Watson's war service, proper name pronunciation, a special Russian adaptation, as well as enjoy some nicely varied fiction, well, I heartily recommend the Fall 2017 issue of The Watsonian.


And, full disclosure, a bit of the fiction in it is mine, but that's not why I'm promoting it. One tends to want to cover up one's mistakes, but this issue is good enough I'm promoting it anyway. Turns out I left a word out of what I wrote for the issue, and I'm rather embarrassed about that. Not sure how it got away from me. If you'd like to make the correction for me on your copy, see below. It's on page 44. Just use your imagination if you like keeping things pristine. Thanks!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Out like Flint.

I'm really glad there aren't vampires. Congressmen are bad enough.

I mean, there's a reason generations pass on, while new ones take the reins. An immortal, like a vampire, or someone who doesn't know when it's past time to retire, like many a congressman, can't help but carry a point of view forged in a time with different considerations into a time when that mindset will lead to some very bad choices.

Remember that movie you loved when you were thirteen? It's the best, right? So much better than that garbage thirteen-year-olds like now. Um . . . yeah . . . about that . . . .

Thirteen is thirteen, no matter the era.

I was thinking about this early this morning, as I caught the tail end of one of my favorite movies, Our Man Flint, a James-Bond-inspired action-comedy that was popular enough for a sequel, In Like Flint. I dearly love both of these James Coburn movies, but every time I see them now, I'm reminded of how deep in the past they are, containing a weird male-dominated faux feminism that only mid-nineteen-sixties Hollywood could channel. Women should not be programmed as sex objects, but it takes a man's man to deprogram them. A multi-cultural team of scientists works to save the world by starting weather catastrophes. And polyamory was cool, just so long as it was one penis per set, and still highly hetero.

What does all this have to do with Sherlock Holmes, you ask?

Well, we always like to tell our stories of "how I met Mr. Sherlock Holmes" like he was our first love. Like we weren't fans of anyone similar before him, anyone prior who might have set our tastes up to fall under his spell much more quickly. Yes, I'm sure Sherlock was many a fan's first . . . but not all of us . . . oh, no.

Some enjoyed the logic of Mr. Spock before coming to Holmes's deduction. Some found the wizardry of Harry Potter magical before Holmes worked his own detective sorcery. Sometimes the similarities are obvious to us, sometimes they go unnoticed for years, and even decades.

Which brings me back to Mr. Derek Flint. A man who transcended the regular ranks of his profession by drawing in knowledge and skills from other disciplines. A man who the official folk came to when they had exhausted all other means. And a man who had a way of dying and then somehow turning back up alive to the shock and amazement of his "Watson," a government official named Lloyd C. Cramden. (Middle initials are important to a Watson!)

Derek Flint so strongly fits the mold of Sherlock Holmes in so many ways that he had to be modeled after Holmes than the man he was supposedly parodying, James Bond. A much better investigator than 007, Derek Flint combines analysis of tobacco, poisons, and perfumes into one single scene that would have made Sherlock go "Bravo!"

And as we feel about Sherlock Holmes, when his Watson is asked how Flint pulled off some particularly amazing feat, Lloyd Cramden excitedly cries, "Because he's Flint!" The man is just so good at what he does that his name alone is enough to explain it to those who've heard the name.

Running into a Flint movie on TV this morning, I suddenly remembered whose fan camp I was in before I ever found Sherlock Holmes. And maybe was even my training-wheels preparation for enjoying Holmes later. And even though it was sexist as hell, and I've grown way past the simple male fantasy that was pure candy to a thirteen-year-old, it's locked into a place in my heart that will be there until the day I make space for some future Earthling to take their place on the planet, for better and worse.

Would I have been a Sherlockian without Flint? Probably eventually. But having a similar key loosening up that lock ahead of time probably does not hurt one's fan-nature at all.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Sherlock is real; I might not be.

Well, the fourth episode of Sherlock Holmes is Real has graced the podcast waves, and I'm still not sure exactly what's happening there.

Now, you might argue, "Brad, you're an in-touch Sherlockian internet personality with a small but discriminating readership, you have insights into all sorts of things, surely you know what's going on with that Sherlock Holmes is Real!"  I'm not really sure why you would argue that, but bless you if you did. You're a kind person. Anyway . . . .

In its first three episodes, Sherlock Holmes is Real has gone from the simple thesis that Sherlock Holmes was a historical figure to laying out potential Moriartian machinations that seem like Sherlockiana from the Upside-Down. (Yes, this line was typed during Stranger Things 2 binge weekend and yes, did that.)

Some things are planned, neatly organized, set into motion, and run along a well-thought-out course. Institutions are built on such things. And then you have programs like a podcast series about Sherlockian conspiracy: Things that just happen in the moment and fly off that moment's moment to the next moment at some random point, like Tarzan of the Octopods, swinging chaotically through an alien jungle.

I mean, how could anyone even try to guess what course such a thing might take . . . even the person who was hypothetically responsible for such a thing?

This past weekend saw the Sherlock Holmes Is Real podcast taking its cast and crew to an actual con . . . not a big con, and one which you may hear about under a name other than the name the attendees wore on their con badges . . . but a con nonetheless. I think that audio will be coming in the fifth episode.

I also have heard that Sherlock Holmes Is Real with have a six episode first season, with the possibility of a Christmas special.

When one is dealing with conspiracies, amateur podcasting, and things of the web, one can never be too sure of just what might happen, so you'll have to forgive me if I'm still kind of questionable on the subject of Sherlock Holmes Is Real.

But . . . more to come.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

An idiot's guide to shipping.

One of my secret pleasures is pretending to misunderstand things. Not just "I don't know what that is," but coming up with an entirely alternate definition of something that makes perfect sense. And this morning, I discovered a perfect target for that quirk: shipping pair names.

It started with an early morning, fuzzy-brained moment when I actually thought MorMor pairing was Morstan/Moran. But then I went, what if Mary Morstan's true love was being penetrated by a morphine needle? Still "Mormor," right?

So then, Johnlock could also be John Watson and Porlock, Moriarty's traitor.

And from there, it just started totally going downhill, especially since the OC is my beat. ("Original Canon" for you Californians who might mistake it for "Orange County.")

Sherlolly? That's Sherman the bird-stuffer and Sir Edward Holly. You don't get a rarer pair than that. I suspect it was dubcon as Sir Edward was attacked in "The Gloria Scott," and Sherman was into stuffing things.

Mystrade gets interesting, because you just can't get away from that first part of "Mycroft." But his fetish for that chipped stone bridge balustrade on "Thor Bridge" gets you a Mystrade that was probably a little rough on brother's physique.

Adcroft is, of course that secret romance between Ronald Adair and Dr. Thorneycroft Huxtable. (Yes, Virginia, there were Huxtables before The Cosby Show.) Cookies had to be involved. That second part of "Mycroft" isn't so hard to pull up ships for, until the "My" part, oddly enough.

You can even conceive of Morcroft as James Mortimer and Hall Pycroft. Don't know if Hall Pycroft had a skull worth covetting, but you know that Dartmoor doctor had to be into it.

Of course, there really is a "Morecroft" in "Three Garridebs" (alias "Killer" Evans), so there's still more fodder to put Alice Morphy and Morecroft together to come up with a Morcroft that's some counterfeit monkey business.

Purposeful misunderstanding is a lovely little creative exercise to annoy your friends with. And it gets those kind of laughs that aren't contagious at all . . . you can amuse yourself while safely not endangering the seriousness of others.

Of course, you might wind up with the mental image of Mycroft and a balustrade in your head all day, so caution, especially in pairings misunderstanding, should be observed.