Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Halloween "Sherlock Holmes Is Like" Sexy-off

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hermione wins!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meghashyam Chirravoori . . . back to the phone.

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

This pageant gets weird sometimes.

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 29, 2018

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

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

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

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

Let's see who's next.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, October 28, 2018

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

The gunslinger from the Dark Tower series.

Gertrude Stein.

Charles Pierce.

Charles Darwin

Higgins from Magnum P.I.

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


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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 27, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Robin Hood.

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

Congratulations to Robin Hood! On to the next round!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next up . . . Sigmund Freud?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 25, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Coming of Harrison Sherloque Wells

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

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

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

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

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

Wait? What's that, Canonical Sherlock?

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

The Inevitability of Morcroft Holmes

Pondering the assorted Holmes parents that recent Holmes-inspired television have given us, one finds some very different uses those characters have been put to. In BBC Sherlock, the pair start as comic relief, a shockingly normal-seeming set of folks who spawned two very different human specimens. In CBS's Elementary, however, the father of Sherlock is both the unseen figure who pushes Watson at his son, and, later, the character that adds challenges to the cast for a season.

It's been a while, and in my head, I keep wanting to call Elementary's Papa Holmes "Morcroft Holmes" even though his name is really Morland Holmes. Why?

Because that's basically who he is.

Having spent their Moriarty card on an Irene Adler twist with an actress who had a much more successful series to dedicate her time to, and then used up Mycroft Holmes as a not-bright restaurateur who sleeps with Watson, Elementary needed someone like the originals of both those figures to fill a twin void. 

Morland Holmes, played by John Noble, comes in as one of those vaguely-defined figures of wealth and power who has influence far beyond those of ordinary mortals and some very shady aspects. He's not government, though he influences government folk. He's not a crime boss, though crime seems to swirl around him. His lack of distinct definition gives him deus ex machina powers, and those, combined with his strained familial relationship, almost makes him the Eurus Holmes of Elementary.

Morland is Mycroft, Moriarty, Eurus, and Stamford . . . and yet he is none of them, even actively refusing to rule Moriarty's empire. He is a Swiss army knife of a character, and in the final season he may become the Mary Morstan as well, meeting his end as a shocking twist. Especially if Elementary's true Moriarty finds her way back for a final appearance.

To leave the mystery genre for a moment, Morland reminds me most of the sort of characters X-men comics liked to create back in the 1990s, Like Apocalypse or Mr. Sinister. Morland loses a certain humanity we can relate to in his large role as a vague plot device. Netflix's Daredevil series works very hard to give their all-powerful Wilson Fisk mastermind enough character development to keep him grounded even as he pulls strings of a ridiculous level of power. I may be missing something in Morland that is a little harder to escape in Fisk's character development, but then again . . . .

Morland Holmes is probably not destined to go down in Sherlockian legend as Sherlock Holmes's father going forward, simply due to that role he fills. When you have a full-fledged Mycroft and a useful Moriarty, he isn't really needed. (And it may, as I mentioned, be the death of him in the last run.) But for Elementary, Morland definitely has a place.

And I hope Morland gets to explore that place one more time as the series winds down, just to see what else he's got in him.  You just never know with that guy.   

Monday, October 22, 2018

Meeting that other one

"The point under discussion was, how far any singular gift in an individual was due to his ancestry and how far to his own early training."
-- John H. Watson, "The Greek Interpreter"

It wouldn't be until the early 1900s that we'd get the phrase "nature versus nurture," but the question was plainly on the Victorian minds when we first get to meet Sherlock Holmes's best argument for the "nature" side: his brother. Of course, the opening paragraphs of "The Greek Interpreter" have some pretty strange thoughts on Watson's fellow man, so we might want to mull over that opinion a bit. Especially after Watson had written the words:

"This reticence upon his part had increased the somewhat inhuman effect which he produced upon me . . . ." 

For a doctor, and as such, a student of the human condition, John Watson seems just a little freaky about his room-mate in that sentence. He goes on to call Holmes "an isolated phenomenon," basically a freak of nature, unreproducible in the species. It's weird to think of anyone describing their closest friend in such alien terms as "inhuman," and makes one wonder a bit about Holmes and Watson's relationship, and if Watson might have been putting on a good front in most of the accounts of their time together.

It definitely seems to come as a relief to him when a second Holmes shows up, who seems even more alien than the first with his weird club of silence. For us, "The Greek Interpreter" is almost like a mini A Study in Scarlet, as we are introduced to a new pinnacle of human observation skills. If Sherlock and Mycroft had taken Watson back to their home planet to introduce him to the rest of their kind after this case, one might not even be too surprised. (And my money is on Coluan rather than Vulcan for that alien race. Just saw one on last night's TV schedule.)

When Mycroft tells Sherlock that he had expected his brother to come 'round on the Manor House case, we get an inkling that the younger Holmes has used the elder the way Scotland Yard uses him. The hierarchy of intellect seems to have at least three levels in crime-solving (we can probably assume a fourth level in the beat constable or victim who comes to the Yard), and Mycroft's existence makes one even start to dream of yet another above him -- something we finally saw when Eurus Holmes strolled onto the BBC Sherlock stage.

Was there a better-than-Mycroft member of the Holmes clan before Eurus? It surely wasn't Sherrinford, the oldest sibling that Baring-Gould championed. He seemed to disappear into the life of a country squire. Old Sherrinford might have even been more to Watson's taste than the others, given that "inhuman"comment.

But just as Sherlock once said "it is always a joy to meet an American," it is always a joy to meet a member of the Holmes family for the first time, and our first encounter with "The Greek Interpreter" is definitely a joy to be had, and remembered in a re-reading, over and over again.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Sherlock Holmes versus Michael Myers

Once serial killers became a thing, I remember some movie promoting something like "Sherlock Holmes faces a new kind of killer!" as their tagline to lure viewers in. For some reason, once the term "serial killer" came into popular use, it was like a generation thought they had invited the concept, when multiple-murderers have been around as long as humans, and even before. Predators exist. We even keep one as a pet.

Given the perfectly timing of their active years, pitting Sherlock Holmes and Jack the Ripper against each other was a natural story for people to try telling. And there was a sense to it, as the Ripper was a mystery that was never solved, a criminal who was never identified. And solving a mystery is what Sherlock Holmes does best.

Just facing serial killers, though?

Having just watched the latest incarnation of the movie Halloween this morning, it is amazingly clear how little a true serial killer and Sherlock Holmes have anything to do with each other. Michael Myers, the mask-wearing mass murderer of the Halloween movies, has no mystery about him, unless it's his face or his thoughts. He's just a guy who kills people. Nothing to be solved, just a predator to be stopped.

Pitting Sherlock Holmes against a Michael Myers is the equivalent of having him solve a rampaging man-killer of a tiger . . . nothing in it that really puts him above a trained hunter. Oh, you can adapt Holmes's skills a bit, play up the fighting and weapons skills, etc., but a good Sherlock Holmes story is harder to tell with a known killing machine. Scotland Yard can handle those fellows with the head-on approach they need.

A goodly share of Sherlock Holmes's best cases do not involve murder at all. And do any of Michael Myer's crimes not involve murder? (Well, he does steal the occasion butcher knife or trespass, commit breaking and entering, assault, etc., but those are all en route to the murders.) And consider this: Even Professor Moriarty would have nothing to do with the crude criminal style of a Michael Myers. The Professor would probably just stand back and let the usual societal forces do their job.

All in all, if you're looking to recruit a villain to go up against Sherlock Holmes, you'll always do better to recruit some cad who is not just about killing for killing's sake. We already have Jamie Lee Curtis to take down those guys, or Ashley Judd, or well, any of those heroines or heroes who is not in a story where the serial killer is actually the lead.

Heck, even Jack the Ripper versus Michael Myers would be a better story than anything involving Sherlock Holmes . . . and it would free Holmes up to do something a bit more intellectual.

Which is right where he belongs.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Acceptable Sherlock

Having been falsely accused of straw man arguments on occasion, let me stage an argument between two of those fellows. (I say "fellows" because . . . well, they're both flawed at a level that's easier to identify as male these days.)

"All Sherlock Holmes is good Sherlock Holmes."

"Have you read/watched/used all Sherlock Holmes?'

"No. I just like Sherlock Holmes and want other people to be able to be free to like Sherlock Holmes."

"Okay, so if there's a Sherlock who's really into torture, and I mean seriously into torture. He enjoys the fine details of torture as a method of learning about his fellow man. And he always tells his John Watson, 'You kill, but you do not observe!' And the Sherlockians who are into that Sherlock Holmes actually enjoy torture. Do you want them having meetings at your house?"

"Well, no. But you're going to an extreme. That's not real."

"But possible, right? Once you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable . . ."

"Oh, stop it! There aren't torture Sherlockians."

"That you know of. You just don't want to admit that it's possible to have unacceptable Sherlock in your Lego Emmet view of the world."

"Leave Lego Emmet out of this! You're just trying to find an excuse to be a hater!"

"So, in your view, Torture Sherlock is good Sherlock. And let me get to Mucus Sherlock . . . ."

"That's just silly. Mucus Sherlock could be good Sherlock, though, if he's well written."

"AH-HA!! What if he's not well-written? Are you admitting a not-well-written Sherlock might be of lesser quality? That a not-well-written Sherlock might be, in effect, bad?"

"I didn't say that. And besides, define 'bad.'"

"I just did define 'bad." Did you not hear me say, 'of lesser quality?'"

"Well, I'm sure whoever wrote it did their best. We should consider their feelings."

"They got paid $105,000 to write that lesser quality Sherlock. When you make past that, you don't get any happier. Their feelings are fine. And how are they going to learn if we don't point out the flaws in their Sherlock."

"Flaws do not make something BAD!"

"Admit it, you're a fan of Mucus Sherlock, aren't you? You're not being objective about this."

"Well, you just hate mucus because of all the colds you had last winter! You're not objective either!"

"So 'bad' is subjective. Which means if one person thinks something is bad, it is actually bad to that person. And I think Mucus Sherlock is bad."

"And I think all Sherlock is good Sherlock."

Rinse, repeat, post on the internet.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The show after Sherlock dies

This morning's life lesson is pretty simple: Don't name your sitcom character after yourself.

The statement "Roseanne died of opiate abuse" will be honestly made this morning, now that ABC has rebooted their cancelled Roseanne sitcom as The Connors and written in the main character's death. The show's former star, Roseanne Barr, is still alive, of course, but her character with the same first name has met a sad fate, dying from her opiate addiction while the rest of the characters carry on.

Having watched another show with the main character's first name in the title and the potential for drug-related death there, it's actually not too hard to envision a Sherlock wherein Benedict Cumberbatch offended the BBC and the show came back as 221B Baker Street, once one stops to think about it.

The concept of a Sherlock Holmes story without Sherlock Holmes has been tried many, many times, almost always in print. Other characters get the lead role, like Irene or Mrs. Hudson. But we don't see an ensemble follow-up, as a TV show might do all that much. And the cast of BBC's Sherlock was definitely strong enough to pull it off, without any of them pretending to be the new Sherlock Holmes, I think.

Like Roseanne's transformation to The Conners, a switch from Sherlock to 221B Baker Street would be a different sort of crime show, as the combo approach of John, Greg, Molly, and the rest working together would be very different from Sherlock's, but still a fun watch. That other "Sherlock" show which wouldn't need a name switch, Elementary, has been so diligent in building up its Watson as a consulting detective and allowing Gregson and Bell in on the solutions that yanking Jonny Lee Miller off the show would almost seem a transition they had written the show with specific intentions toward. (Especially with that no-character-mentioned title.)

It's interesting to envision Sherlock Holmes ongoing shows without Sherlock, and much better than going the route of TV's Lethal Weapon or Two and a Half Men, which would have Watson getting a new genius room-mate who was different, yet somehow the same sort of character as Sherlock to fill the void. (Mycroft? A good Moriarty twin?) As much genius as it took to create Sherlock Holmes, creating an adequate stand-in for him would be a high aspiration . . . and one surely doomed to fail, as tends to happen with that method.

I never thought that Roseanne would give me something Sherlockian to consider, but the world is definitely full of unexpected things these days. Shows rebooting without their addicted main character is now one.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Sherlock Holmes versus the Devil

Netflix was popping up a little thing called Errementari tonight, and, well . . . .

It's a Basque film  based upon an old legend, that sort of old legend from all sorts of Western cultures about a man who faces the devil. Daniel Webster, a fiddlin' boy named Johnny, Santa Claus, Tenacious D, etc., etc. Of course those are the stories of the winners, and not just those who make deals with the devil.

In the case of Errementari , it's a blacksmith.

Sherlock Holmes went looking for the devil a couple of times, most notably in "The Adventure of the Devil's Foot." Of course, Holmes never expected to find a real devil or other denizen of Hell. Which is what Sherlock Holmes is all about . . . I've long said, if he had ever truly investigated that Dracula business, he wouldn't have found a vampire, but a smuggling ring or something similar that preyed upon fears of the locals. (Pretty much like the Scooby Doo gang would specialize in a century later.)

When one thinks about how Sherlock Holmes mostly dealt with human criminals that one might call "devils," it might be a little surprising to find the first two devils of the Canon are a little too familiar: the "poor devil" and the "lazy devil."

The first is Watson, given the title by Stamford. The second, Sherlock Holmes, self-identified.

The next devil is of the canine variety, but hound of hell? No, this one is a "little devil," Mrs. Hudson's terrier.

And that's all the devils of A Study in Scarlet. Once you leave that novel behind, you start getting into both the more nefarious devils in human form and that vague devil that everyone was always trying to go as fast as, before we had jet engines or the Flash. (Curious how that last fellow is entirely clad in devil red.) There are a lot of mentions of devils in the Canon, but, fortunately, more mentions of God to provide a nice counter-balance. (If you were worried about having to lock the Canon away as being devil-ridden, there are enough utterings of "God help us!" and "Thank God!" to more than keep them at bay.)

Perhaps, however, if we take the uses in A Study in Scarlet, Sherlock Holmes and John Watson were, like most all of us, just dealing with their own personal devils more than any other.

As for the blacksmiths of the Canon, there's only one. And he couldn't seem to deal with regular old Grimesby Roylott, so I doubt he was up to the devil-handling mettle of the Errementari specimen of the trade.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Doxxing the king.

There have always been depths to John H. Watson that none save Sherlock Holmes have ever come close to plumbing. His military service and its effects on his life are one we glimpse early. But equally mysterious, and even more in front of our faces is his authorial life.

As biographer to Sherlock Holmes, Watson was constantly making choices. How to tell the tale, what details to reveal, and what, exactly, would make it to the pages of The Strand Magazine. How did he make those choices? How did his personal feelings enter into the matter? Why was he so open about Mary Morstan, yet so tight-lipped about Mary Morstan Watson? Many questions abound.

Such as the way Watson is very shy about referring to the royal family or other highly placed individuals in the British government, but when it comes to the King of Bohemia, he just cuts loose. One could assume it was Mycroft Holmes's watchful gaze that kept him in line with the British side of things. But Watson seems so happy at making the King of Bohemia look large and silly that one has to wonder if other factors didn't come into play.

My mind always has to come back to "the late Irene Adler" when revisiting the tale of "A Scandal in Bohemia." Only a few short years before, she was "this young person," and now . . . she's dead?

At some point, the King of Bohemia sends Sherlock Holmes a gold snuffbox with a great big amethyst in its lid, even though Holmes refused an emerald ring in favor of the souvenir of a photograph of Irene. (It should be noted that he was already holding on to a thousand pounds of the King's money.) But that snuffbox that just shows up later . . . it's a little weird, like the King decided to send Holmes a little extra, almost like something else had occurred.

If Watson hadn't portrayed the King as such a doofus, one might be tempted to think evil thoughts like the villainous sovereign going, "You want a souvenir of Miss Irene Adler so badly, here's a snuffbox with her cremains in it!" Though they probably didn't say "cremains" back then. Too dark, though?

One is very tempted to think that the King has something to do with "the late" prefixed to Irene Adler's name, and perhaps Watson, unable to prove anything, was just telling the tale to see if anyone else could make connections that might bring justice somehow.

Like so many other afterwords of Holmes cases, we shall never know exactly what came after. Who went down with what ship. Who might have stabbed who. But things are definitely very suspicious when it comes to the late Irene Adler.

Friday, October 12, 2018

What do you do when the fad is over?

Remember the 1980s?

Yeah. I was alive then, and it just keeps coming up this week. Sorry about that. Take this for example:

The Sherlockian riff on that "Baby on Board" fad in back-window car signs that went around back then. You still see the odd one out there, from the person who just really, really thinks you're are going to decide the Trolley Problem in their favor based on the possibility that they have a baby in their vehicle. And if there was ever a human being out there who had that split-second choice whether or not to hit my car based on my claim to be Sherlockian, I've been playing the odds by not putting that thing in my cars. Ever.

So, it basically becomes one more museum piece in this personal museum of the weird whose primary visitor is me.

But the thought occurs that maybe I should find new uses for it, and actually get some mileage out of the thing. Like carrying it to meetings, and whenever I hear an idea I like, flip it face up and state, "Sherlockian on board with that idea!" Eventually, I could probably stop saying the words and just flip the sign, if I wasn't carted out of the meeting first for sheer wackiness. (Hmmm, I could meet with the U.S. prez . . . I hear he has some great tolerance for wacky this week.)

Or I could put it on a cord and go surfing! Sherlockian on surfboard! I mean, do you know any Sherlockian surfers out there? Any at all? A Sherlockian surfer is such a rarity that they should proudly wear a little sign like that.

Place it jauntily in my hatband to wear onto aeroplanes or ships, just to let fellow passengers know they could ask me Canonical queries during whatever travels we were about to share?

Find a friend, go to a local playground teeter-totter, and when little kids came up and demanded we get off, hold it up like a badge of authority and declare "Sherlockian On Board!" like that South African declared "Diplomatic immunity!" all through Lethal Weapon 2. Little kids wouldn't know that wasn't a thing, Sherlockians getting teeter-totter-hogging privileges, so that could work.

Or I could just go seriously serial-killer mad, start collecting actual Sherlockians on boards like butterflies, and pit the sign on the display. Seems like a lot of trouble to go through just to use a sign from the eighties, and it might eventually discourage visitors, so no to that one.

Eventually, I think any collector of Sherlockiana has to hit a point where they go, "WHY DO I HAVE ALL THIS STUFF?!?" And at that point, it might be time to re-purpose a few of those things in ways that don't involve serial killing. Or maybe just find a younger friend or friends who would be happy to put the thing in their personal museum until they reach a similar crisis.

Although, in my case, they probably aren't coming to visit after a few of the possibilities mentioned above. So the idea of keeping this little yellow sign defintely has a . . . .

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Remembering the Great Sherlock Drought

In an age of disagreement, there is one thing upon which we will actually all say is true: The world isn't the same as it once was. Even for Sherlockians.

After chatting with George Scheetz the other night about those good old days we shared, my mind eventually worked its way to the bad old days of Sherlockiana: the Great Sherlock Drought.

Now, someone from a city with a very active, well-populated Sherlock Holmes group, who religiously travels to New York each January, might definitely disagree with me on this point. "Drought? What drought? Sherlockiana didn't even get a little thirsty!"

But out here in the hinterlands, there was a time between the fading of the Granada series with Jeremy Brett and the box office splash of Robert Downey Jr. when you just didn't see anyone newly interested in Sherlock Holmes. A time when a Sherlockian in their fifties just didn't meet any Sherlock Holmes fans younger than them. A time when a blogger like myself struggled hard to find material on current Sherlockian culture to post even one time a week, much less every other day or so.

Internet Sherlockiana hadn't really found its legs yet, and a goodly share of the old school folk weren't embracing it at all. (In fact, some were actively pooh-poohing it.) Sherlock's copyrights were still chaining him down. And new fanfic? Why would we have new fanfic, now that the shine of Jeremy Brett had worn off?

Even though some good things did happen in Sherlockiana . . . I mean, it's Sherlockiana, good things do happen here a lot . . . the 2000s were not a time anyone is going to choose as their "I wish a was a Sherlockian when that was happening!" moment. Because there are so many other eras of Sherlockiana when things were actually happening.

With as many mediums, as many ways to put creative efforts out there, and as much of an ongoing icon as Sherlock Holmes has proven himself to be, now that he's made so many successful leaps out of the Victorian period -- perhaps we're not going to see a drought like the 2000s ever again. Or maybe we get a different kind of weather, where humanity is so saturated in Sherlock that we become apathetic to him. Who knows?

But there was a time, not all that long ago, that really makes one appreciate all we have going on today. So much so that it's even a little hard to totally imagine what that past era was actually like, even for those of us that slogged through it. Which we did.

And, more than ever, we can't wait to see what's next.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

A questing Sherlockian comes to town

For those of us lucky enough to had some kind of Holmes club in our town, pre-internet, some of the oldest Sherlockian friends we have are the ones we met at our first local Sherlockian society meetings. Outside of the good Carter, I can count two of those whom I see every now and then, George Scheetz and Suellen Kirkwood.

Suellen is probably not someone any Sherlockian outside of Peoria would be familiar with, as she's always been a local favorite. Her hand-crafted banquet favors from our early dinners and she remains a part of our Peoria Sherlockian discussions even today, forty years later.

George Scheetz, however, has wandered among many a scion, from the Double-Barrelled Tiger Cubs of Champaign-Urbana to The Hounds of the Baskerville (sic), with many a stop at the Sublibrarians group in the American Library Association along the way. And when he wanders back to town on occasion, as he did by surprise this week, the group we talk most about is The Hansoms of John Clayton, Peoria's original Sherlockian society.

It always inspires one to pursue the Sherlockian society rabbit once more, even if one is usually rather bad at it, and quite happy with a Sherlockian library discussion group, but that's a matter for another time. One of the highlights of this evening, which I'm taking a whole lot of preface to get to, was George's quest for issues of Afghanistanzas, the newsletter/journal of the Double-Barrelled Tiger Cubs of Champaign-Urbana.

The Cubs were a very different group from most, consisting mostly of a rotating cast of college students, yet having a treasury well-funded by campus movie nights, which at one point allowed them to bring John Bennett Shaw all the way from Santa Fe, New Mexico to speak. Due to the ever-changing nature of the group, however, finding a single individual with a complete run of their newsletter is, as this point, a very rare thing.

George had been asking about a later issue that he knew I had, from a photo on the now-defunct Sherlock Peoria website.

When he had said "the last issue of Afghanistanzas" to me, however, I was picturing something entirely different, which did not become apparent until I pulled the issue that I thought he wanted out of a cubbyhole in my shelves. The little glowing-greed issue I had was one he had never even heard of before. Apparently, Afghanistanzas went on for longer than he had realized, and my odd little issue gave clues that even more existed . . . somewhere. So off George went, having completed one quest, but having found another.

It was a good reminder that we never know what piece of today we might want to have in our hands tomorrow. Making items time travel forward into the future is a super-power we all have if we care to exert it, and when we do successfully pull it off with that one perfect item, it can almost seem like magic. Foresight is a wizard skill that one can develop without being psychic, if one thinks hard enough about the possibilities, plans ahead, and maybe gets lucky as well.

And while we didn't see any wizarding on this particular eve, as always, a little good old Sherlockian camaraderie can be just magic enough.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Not exactly the name in print I expected

Some days, you just have to smile at where the road has taken you.

We all have our vices. Mine, for three whole seasons, was writing snarky reviews of CBS's Elementary, for my friends and readers who also had no love for the show, and really didn't want to spend an hour watching it each week. When that seemed to trouble the few fans of the show that kept reading this blog, I tried to put up warning signs, as one does around a bog in Dartmoor, so the moor ponies of their love didn't get sucked screaming into my view of Elementary, but you know fans . . . they just have to see what's up when their show is being mentioned.

I finally gave way after a couple of 221B Cons, where seeing the faces of the room lighting up over their panel discussions of Lucy Liu's Watson and the relationship within the show's brownstone walls, made my heart grown like the Grinch's and feel kindly toward those Elementary fans, even though I still could not fathom why they had any liking for the thing. And after three seasons, I let my Elementary commenting vice go, with the exception of the occasional comments just to release the building pressure.

And besides, you write some books on Sherlock Holmes, you put some articles in various publications, you publish a journal, do a website for a while, give some talks . . . you don't really want to just become "the guy who doesn't like Elementary" for the latter half of your Sherlockian career. Even if, at heart, you are.

But, you go to a Sherlockian weekend or two, see a few friends, they make a few jokes about how much you hate Elementary, and, well, we all get reputations among our friends, right? Nobody else really pays attention to us non-famous folk in our little Sherlockian corners, so that's cool. And maybe you hear that one of the folks who really didn't like your Elementary commentary hasn't really gotten over it, but still . . .  tiny corner of the internet . . . dust in the electronic wind . . . right?

And then one Sunday, your trusted companion comes home with a book. Someone at a meeting for some committee she's on is cleaning out their shelves and says to her, "Here's a book that has Brad's name in it, so you should give it to him." Not too surprising, if one has been around long enough and gotten a footnote or essay or two in a book or two.

But then you see it's a book you hadn't ever picked up . . . and the page where your name appears is on a topic you never were referred to about before . . . and it's Elementary.

Um . . . yeaaahh . . . .

A well-written, well-reviewed book, at that: The Great Detective: The Amazing Rise and Immortal Life of Sherlock Holmes by Zach Dundas.

"The hardcore Sherlockian world greeted the series with a sneer; one American Sherlockian, Brad Keefauver, continues, as of this writing, to keep a weekly aesthetic deathwatch over Elementary in his blog. 'Sad and lazy, it must be Thursday,' and so forth."

As Howard Ostrom will tell you, even a part-time wrestling fan is not going to object to being identified as "hardcore." But suddenly finding myself in the literal history books (well, one of them, anyway) as the epitome of the Sherlockian who didn't like Elementary?  Whoops.

But, like I said, sometimes you have to smile at where the road has taken you. And since all this occurred in an afternoon when I was going to see the new Marvel-inspired movie Venom, about a writer who must come to grips with his own personal demon who likes to bite people's heads off, maybe that smile has a little bit of Venom toothiness to it. ("And there's one season of Elementary left, isn't there?" I can hear the Venom-voice saying in my head.)

In any case, while my inner angels and demons duke it out, I now have a really good book to read exploring the Sherlockian world, so at least I got that out of the whole deal.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Optimism in the face of failure

Optimism, Sherlock Holmes style:

"There is nothing more stimulating than a case where everything goes against you."

Two of Holmes's three big trails to follow in The Hound of the Baskervilles have just dead-ended, and he's still at least putting up a good front for Watson. Not much later his third lead goes to nothing, and what is his response?

"I tell you, Watson, this time we have a foeman who is worthy of our steel. I've been checkmated in London. I can only wish you better luck in Devonshire. But I'm not easy in my mind about it."

Sherlock Holmes actually appears beaten, sending Watson out to Dartmoor because he can't go himself, and both he and Watson know that it probably won't go well.

But Sherlock Holmes always knows that the story isn't over. Even in stories that seem to be over, with criminals escaping . . . the story is rarely over until the sea claims another ship, or some other fate seems to overtake the villains.

In The Hound of the Baskervilles, Sherlock Holmes is about to change his tactics and go guerrilla on the moors the way his opponent was doing in London. Turnabout, as they say, is fair play.

The London failures are definitely stimulating for Sherlock Holmes. It's only on the toughest cases where he sets Watson out as the feint, as in "Illustrious Client" while Holmes makes his actual move from outside. And it's his initial failure, also as in "Illustrious Client" that shows Sherlock Holmes just how serious, just how out-of-the-ordinary a particular case is. And time to bring in, as Wade Wilson likes to say, "Maximum effort."

"There is nothing more stimulating than a case where everything goes against you."

Everything going against you is a pretty hard bit to face, and it's easy to lose hope. But somehow, Sherlock Holmes decided to frame that as "stimulating," and find an angle where it did stimulate him, like placing it in a fencing metaphor, where he saw himself as dealing with an opposing swordsman on the field of play. Plainly he enjoyed fencing, and looking at his work that way gave him just a little more energy to continue the investigation against that unknown person he thought of as his opponent.

Some days we have to use all the tools in our toolbox, and Sherlock Holmes is a good one for picking up an item or two of use. Optimism, however you get it, can be one.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Isolating Sherlock Holmes in film

With this weekend's "From Brett to Gillette V" coming on this weekend, so soon after that Holmes and Watson preview was released, the thought of Sherlock Holmes's appearances in movies and television is bound to be on many a Sherlockian mind. Books have been written on the subject, conferences have been held (the "V" at the end of FBtG kinda gives that away), and when Sherlockians aren't talking Conan Doyle original Canon, film and TV Sherlocks are where they invariably head next.

Which means we are usually presented with a common fan issue -- a viewpoint of very close focus.

The older a Sherlock Holmes film gets, the further it is removed from the period it was first intended to be shown, the more it is separated from the other works of its time. Take a look at a Sherlockian's DVD shelf and you might find Young Sherlock Holmes next to the Matt Frewer The Hound of the Baskervilles, not far from Robert Downey Jr.'s Sherlock Holmes or Ben Syder's Sherlock Holmes. Almost as if Bill and Ted came by in a time-travelling phone booth and plucked each from its own era to compile for their end-of-semester project.

What you don't see is Young Sherlock Holmes surrounded by Rocky IV, Santa Claus: The Movie, Spies Like Us, King Solomon's Mines, White Nights, or anything else that was in theaters that December of 1985.

Or that Matt Frewer's Hound required changing channels from a Yankees/Mets World Series game or major network reruns of Forrest Gump or The Bridges of Madison County to get to what would eventually become the Hallmark channel.

What might have been a blip on the entertainment world's radar at the time becomes a stand-out on a list of Sherlockian moments from that year, and all the rest fades away. The character of Sherlock Holmes has those of us that love him holding on to productions long past the date they would have otherwise faded from memory. The aforementioned movie White Nights pulled in over twice the box office receipts of Young Sherlock Holmes at roughly the same time, and rare is the person who thinks of White Nights much in 2018. King Solomon's Mines made nearly as much as Young Sherlock Holmes, and there's even good reasons we don't think of it much any more.

Sherlock Holmes movies are fascinating in that we don't require of them all the things we require of any other movies we take the time to see. All of the Sherlockians who will burden themselves with seeing a Will Ferrell movie this year, when they know full well they hate Will Ferrell movies, is a perfect example. And good, bad, or mediocre, that movie will find its way into Sherlockian collections as long as there are Sherlockian collections.

Given that we give movies featuring Sherlock Holmes the sort of advantage we'd give a grandchild singing the National Anthem, has we seen a truly great Sherlock Holmes movie yet? Can we even say objectively?

Maybe not, but with a range stretching from They Might Be Giants to A Case of Evil, we will always have movies and TV shows to compare, contrast, rank, rate, and have many a discussion over. Of all things besides the original stories, they are our most common language as Sherlockians, and one we will surely be using as long as we are Sherlockians.

Three Patch and that other side of the Sherlockian world

I was listening to the latest Three Patch podcast this morning when it occurred to me how much this three-to-four hour monthly podcast is The Baker Street Journal of modern Sherlock Holmes fandom. This may seem like a ridiculous statement to those whose view of Holmes fans doesn't leave the pre-2010 box, but taking an expansive, inclusive view of the current state of Holmes fandom, it's a parallel that's hard to miss.

The show's view of what's out there is, even if you're not chasing down every new scenario fanfic, is always curious and searching, the way Sherlockiana has always been at its best. We are the followers of Sherlock Holmes -- "curious and searching" is a place we naturally exist. Following leads that go into potentially less-popular corners of Sherlock's legend, like this month's Eurus exploration, may not be the same, comfortable, "old and familiar" that many a Sherlockian enjoys about the hobby, but to the mind craving a little more stimulation, Three Patch can definitely bring it.

The world is broad, and when it comes to Sherlock Holmes, there is so much to see.

In a recent comment from an old school Sherlockian friend, it was suggested that I was playing the Sherlockian Timothy Leary in my posts, and pandering purposefully for a younger audience. I had to look up Leary as my prime memory of him was a 1960s episode of Dragnet, where the show's creator made a Timothy Leary clone just so the show's main character could win an argument about drugs.

Leary was a Harvard LSD researcher who, perhaps, got a little too into that particular drug and also became a popular counterculture figure along the way. Though I don't think I'm in any danger of becoming a popular counterculture figure in Sherlockiana, I do indulge in Three Patch podcast a lot more than most Baby Boomer male Sherlockians, so if that could be seen as a drug that expands one's mind, I guess I could maybe take a teensy bit of that parallel? I don't know. I just know I enjoy the stuff. (Three Patch, not LSD, about which: Nope! Not that Sherlock-y, to experiment with such things.)

But I like what Three Patch podcast has been building over the last five years, and hope to see it continue into the future, just like The Baker Street Journal did in its prime, continuing to this day.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

The head llama

Apple is about to release seventy new emojis for iPhones and like products, and although there are a few that jump out at you for some little bit of Sherlockian significance, none is so eye-catching as a llama, right there in the midst of the new animals included.

A llama.

Sherlock Holmes had a very interesting relationship with llamas.

Like the "bull pup" Watson had in A Study in Scarlet, Sherlock's llama has been causing Sherlockians to make quizzical faces for a century or more. As Ogden Nash famously once wrote, "The one-L lama, he's a priest. The two-L llama, he's a beast. And I will bet my silk pajama: there isn't any three-L lllama."

As for Sherlock Holmes, we know "I travelled for two years in Tibet, therefore, and amused myself by visiting Lhasa and spending spending some days with the head Llama."

Now, Sherlock Holmes spoke those words, so we have to attribute that extra "L" to Watson's transcription. But we also know how well Sherlock Holmes trained his friend to look at the small details of the world around him, so it just doesn't seem like Watson to mix up a lama and a llama. Or the head priest and a head llama.

A head llama.

Roll that phrase around your mind and see what potential meanings it offers. While Watson just wrote down that single line about the head llama, perhaps there were other lines not written, where Sherlock Holmes went into more specific detail about that head llama. Watson had to be curious, didn't he? Your best friend/maybe-lover who has been away for years doesn't just come back and drop the words "head llama" without you finding out more about that experience.

I mean, come on . . . head llama. There's a story there.

Sherlock Holmes spent days with the head llama. Days.

Watson had to want to know about that. And in all that time, he might have once asked "And how do you spell llama, again?"

T'were "The Adventure of the Empty House" to be remade with Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly, I would expect to see a pantomime montage of Holmes mimicking a head llama's actions as he recounted the tale, but I doubt we'll see that level of Canonical minutiae in the undoubted sequels to that box office smash. (Poke.) Still . . . head llama.

It's a head llama, you see. Or maybe you don't. And maybe that's for the best.

Best call it a day. A day.