Monday, April 29, 2019

Just bicycle the hell out of that story, Violet!

With a mini-vacation last week, I had to miss our local Sherlock Holmes Story Society's discussion of "The Solitary Cyclist," which seems a tiny thing next to the juggernaut of the Avengers: Endgame event of a movie, which I was enjoying two states away. But now that the weekend's hoopla is done, it's good to get back to that simple tale of a woman and her bicycle.

When Violet Smith comes to 221B Baker Street, the pair living there have some very telling reactions to what Watson calls "the beautiful intruder." She is one of three women whom John Watson refers to as both tall and queenly, and given that Queen Victoria was five-foot-nothing, he was not relating them to the current monarch. The doctor is plainly elevating these women above his station, but whether that pedestal is raised by a bit of envy or his own humility is hard to say.

Sherlock Holmes, on the opposite side of things, picks up her naked hand like it's a Times crossword puzzle, works out a few answers, and literally drops it when he loses interest. When he speaks of her employer, he says the household paid "double the market price for a governess," which seems to emphasizes his view of her as a specimen or object.

Violet Smith, however, is not wanting for male attention, which is the entire crux of this tale. She's had several admirers in her life and at least three men ask her to marry them. But it's her weird stalker-on-a-bicycle that has her curious, even though she seems capable of chasing him off whenever she feels like it. Given all this male attention, it's interesting how Holmes and Watson don't seem to want to give her any more.

Both make the trip to her locale, Watson to secretly spy on her and Holmes to punch out the most unwanted of her suitors, embodying both flight and fight in their approaches. But neither seem to bother to talk to her when they're right there -- Watson even right where she has just seen her stalker again! None of the boys in this story come off too well. Holmes disfigures a man so badly that he looks like he's been in an accident and is delighted about spending the afternoon doing so.

There's a lot of concern for whether or not Violet Smith gets molested from many a man here, and the man Holmes already wrecked takes another bullet in yet another battle for male dominance . . . and literal possession of Violet Smith, after already played cards for her once.

Anyone going on about the charm of the Victorian era after recently reading "The Solitary Cyclist" definitely has to have an XY chromosome, because this tale is really a nightmare piece from a feminine perspective. When the twist is that the client's stalker is just trying to keep her from worse crimes, England of that time does not seem charming at all. The nicest male in this piece, when it comes to Violet Smith, seems to be Peter, the teenage driver who we only see laying in the fetal position after a whack to the head. Hopefully he didn't hit on her before the attack, because given everything else that went on in that part of the country, one has to wonder.

Hopefully the discussion group had some fun with this tale last Thursday -- this re-read for me was just a little bit too full of men behaving badly, and the one poor woman whose best bet was marrying an electrical engineer. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.)

Saturday, April 27, 2019

"A knight can make a knight."

If America had knighthoods from the get-go, we might not have the BSI shilling today.

Sherlock Holmes has turned many an American into an Anglophile, and, ah, the knighthood. Even if it no longer comes with armor and a sword, next to pirate and cowboy, what more could a boy-heart ask to be?

For many that came to Sherlockiana in decades past, a Baker Street Irregular was seen as one knighted in the service of  king Sherlock Holmes. As Sherlockiana had no queen, that “knighting” came from the “captain of the guard” and whatever councilors from whom he took advice.  Still, all mystical and magical enough to allow those who wanted a certain distinction in their service to Sherlock Holmes.

At some point, the Baker Street Irregulars added an “Inc.” to part of its activities, its Baker Street “journal” took on some aspects of an academic journal, and its publishing arm into what was basically a small publishing house. The measurement of a Sherlockian knight’s worth seemed to trend more toward what he or she could contribute to business of the BSI. Criteria for new members was circulated that might have seemed a little like a job description from an HR department to a cynical mind.  And as the membership was limited to the amount a single dining hall could comfortably handle just to suit a single banquet, practical choices were made accordingly . . . and sparingly.

And the Sherlockian world outside grew, in ways no one expected.

Practical choices and private club limits, however, have never been quite enough for the more romantic among us, as visions rarely have limits. We usually seem foolish that way to the practical, as dreamers often do.

So, speaking of dreamers, this week I had a fun bit of travel time listening to George R.R. Martin’s A Knight of Seven Kingdoms. One of it’s notable points is something that just came up in a recent episode of HBO’s Game of Thrones: the quote: “A knight can make a knight.”

As the Sherlockian world seems to have grown too big for those practical and miser-ish limits to what we used to think of as the American Sherlockian knighthood, perhaps we need some new conventions for validating our own Sherlockian coming-of-age moments, conventions that don’t have elder Sherlockians waiting in long lines for a nod from the captain of the guard, nor admit that new ways of Sherlocking have value as well.

 “A knight can make a knight,” has a certain lovely ring to it, and for those willing to vow dedication to Sherlock Holmes, maybe there’s an aspect worth a thought.

For, really, how is it that one first feels validated as a Sherlockian? When one finishes reading all of the original sixty stories? When one creates that first fulfilling piece of writing or art in honor of Holmes? I would wager that those sorts of things put you on the road, but our first validation always comes from talking to another human being who recognizes that spirit in us that is kin to our own. That one other person who sees us as a fellow Sherlockian, that first kudo from another person, that first experience shared around the fire that is Sherlock Holmes.

We make each other Sherlockians, every one of us. And if the old ways come to have limits that can’t work as they did decades and decades ago, we very well could see more new ways as the great Sherlockian river flows around obstacles that stand in its path. Starting to see that happening with a thing or two of late, and I am curious as to where it might eventually lead. Perhaps we don’t need “knightly” aspects any more, that being such a boy’s game.

But finding ways to let each other know how much we value our fellows and their contributions is something we can all do and give some thought to now and then.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Sherlockians: The Next Generation

It's hard to think of 2003 as "way back when," but at this point, we're sixteen years past that point in history. Adrian Monk was the closest thing we had to a TV Sherlock Holmes. Netflix was still only sending DVDs out through the mail. I was publishing The Holmes & Watson Report every other month and writing Sunday night HTML blogs on the Sherlock Peoria of that era, along with doing Sherlockian roleplay in the Dark Lantern League.

And that year, the Beacon Society was founded by Sherlockians concerned at the lack of other Sherlockians younger than fifty. It's goal: to help promote a Sherlockian future by encouraging teachers and others who worked with kids to bring a little Sherlock into their young lives. And now, sixteen years later, the Beacon Society is doing well, with great examples of kids getting excited about Sherlock Holmes every year.

When the Beacon Society was founded, I think it's safe to say that we all thought sowing the seeds would bring new generations of Sherlockians that were pretty much like us. And when we thought of "us," we probably weren't realizing then how diverse "us" really was.

Seven years later, new Sherlockians started appearing, but via a route no one had expected: Robert Downey Jr. and Benedict Cumberbatch, along with all their associated writers, producers, fellow actors, and media fanfare. A grand, great wave of brand new Sherlockians. Seeing them gathered at the first 221B Con was like a miracle, a miracle too few pre-2010 Sherlockians got to see.

The thing was, to many a Sherlockian, these were exactly the "like us" Sherlockians they were expecting. More female, more LGBTQA, more fiction-writing, and more . . . young, with all the things that word brings with it. Coming in with new enthusiasms, new favorites, new rituals, and maybe not just sliding into the familiar patterns like past generations did. And there are those who are still struggling with complete acceptance of this next-wave Sherlockian.

Which brings me back to the Beacon Society and those great kids it's bringing to Sherlock Holmes every year, since 2003.  They're very young, born into a world with songs those of us over sixty might never have heard, using smartphones at an age when most of us hadn't touched a computer, connected to the world in ways of which we can't even conceive. If they start with "The Speckled Band," and their parents aren't too restrictive with the remote, "A Study in Pink" or "Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows" might not be too far behind. And once they get a little older, a little more interested in non-childish things, and morally flexible enough to click "I'm 18" on a website, they could possibly wander into Sherlockian turf none of us even knew existed in the 1970s. (Seriously, we thought Liberace was a lady's man.)

The paths a new Sherlock Holmes fan will take if they start that journey in 2019, may strike chords familiar to us if we listen, and some of the stops may be the same, but, boy, are they heading into an entirely different world than the one we knew. The one we might have thought would go on forever. But that's okay.

Every generation brings their own lights to our friend Sherlock Holmes. And I'm just now realizing that all those kids the Beacon Society is turning on to Sherlock? Well, the ones who hold onto him into adulthood, aren't going to be the 2060s versions of you or I. They're going to be something really special. Kind of like the ones we're seeing emerge now.

So let's inspire as many of those as we can now, and then get the heck out of their way.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

The avalanche

It's been a mere two weeks since a single tweet went out from 221B Con.

A single tweet. A single unhappy tweet.

And, two weeks later,  four hundred and fifty people join a new social media group in a single day. A deluge of happy welcome messages accompany that, turning an otherwise joyous holiday into, well, and even more joyous holiday for a lot of Sherlockians.

How did we get here? How does on tweet cause an avalanche like that?

Well, I'm not going to drag us through the detailed muck after such a pleasant Sherlockian day, but there were definitely layers to the avalanche coming down. First came the insulting tweet, which led to discussions of behaviors beyond the tweet, which led to discussions of how to corral said behaviors, which let to attempts to corral those discussions, which led to . . . .

I don't think we quite reached the point where the words "Sherlockian Civil War" applied, but there were moments when one started to see the potential for one to come. A lot of long-held dissatisfaction with a lot of Sherlockian people, places, and things out there that started rising to the surface. People had things to say, about a whole lot of things.

There was a particular discussion I got into at 221B Con, one morning before all of this went down,  about how a lot of folks were afraid to speak openly about some Sherlockian things due to a certain longstanding gatekeeper system in our hobby. Afraid to speak openly -- that's not a phrase one ever sees in a happy context. A calm, rational conversation about a topic should not be something one is afraid to get blacklisted for. And if one can't have a calm, rational conversation, then what finally comes out might be neither, which isn't good for anyone.

People need to be heard. Maybe not troll-people, who are just in it for the reactions, but those with actual stories, and actual concerns, need to be heard. And hopefully, they're getting a better shot at that as things move along like they did today.

The avalanche has come down, and we now have a pretty, white bed of fresh snow to make tracks on, in a brand new social media group "221 Be Here."  The snow is still falling, though, and future avalanches may be coming. There are still a lot of conversations to be had, and issues that will have to be dealt with, one way or another.

But today, we got to see a positive thing come out of a negative beginning, and if that's not something to celebrate on a holiday weekend, I don't know what is.

Want to be like Sherlock Holmes? Evolve.

Sometimes, something in your past is just going to remain there to haunt you.

"Of all ghosts, the ghosts of our old lovers are the worst," Trevor senior said in "Gloria Scott," because the ghosts of old lovers are the ones you tend to bring back yourself. Not nearly as bad, but still pretty pesky are the ghosts of our old hatreds, because your friends are going to bring those back to haunt you, as they should now and then.

And, since the internet remembers everything, my joining of Doyle's Rotary Coffin and embracing the motto "No Holmes Barred," as well as the Baker Street Babes' "All Holmes is good Holmes," is more than a bit tarnished by my very public stance on the first half of CBS Elementary's run. I was, sadly, having too much fun on the side of the haters on that show, even if I kept it pretty confined to this blog and didn't go out to Facebook or Twitter trolling folks. (I'm not a complete arsehole.)

Ghosts are a good thing, in the way old Trevor and I are haunted, I think. They remind us that we should probably attempt to be better people in the days ahead than we were in the past. We don't know if Trevor senior became a Justice of the Peace as a result of his feelings for his lost loves and possible part in their loss, but for the sake of this metaphor, I'm going to think so.

My best example of personal evolution, however, comes from our friend Mr. Sherlock Holmes.

Remember his statement in The Sign of the Four, "Women are never to be entirely trusted,  -- not the best of them"?  Yes, Sherlock Holmes said those very stupid words. But did he continue to live them, the rest of his life? The answer is a resounding "NO!" I once did a book-length study of Holmes and his relationships with women titled Sherlock and the Ladies, and what I found over the course of his life, is that Sherlock Holmes evolved when it came to women.

You can even see it in The Sign of the Four itself, as Holmes advises Watson not to tell Mary Morstan too much at one point in the case, and utters that "not to be trusted" line, then later talks about how he is so impressed in Mary Morstan that I was considering working with her, if Watson hadn't announced he was marrying her.

So when Sherlock Holmes makes Kitty Winter his partner in crime in "The Illustrious Client," it really demonstrates how far his journey took him. He actually trusts Kitty and doesn't even seem to turn on her when she adds some extra crime to his crime.

Kitty Winter has long been a favorite Canonical character of mine, and her appearance as a character on Elementary, and even as a partner to Sherlock Holmes (See? I didn't call him "Mr. Elementary!" Progress!) softened me up on the show a bit, just as the continuing appearances of Clyde the turtle have. (And with Clyde now in the movie Holmes and Watson, how could I hate any show that gave us Clyde?) Just wish they'd give us a little more of Ms. Hudson, too. 

I'm really looking forward to blogging about the final season of Elementary as a test of my own personal evolution, and glad it made it to season seven to provide such a test. Going to still have to live with my past as a hater, and I deserve that, ghosts and all. 

The world changes all the time, and locking ourselves into a single position, while often perfect for reaching a short term goal, is not healthy over time. Sherlock Holmes got it, and hopefully we can do the same.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

The fan who speaks for us all

"We're not jealous of you at Scotland Yard. No, sir, we are very proud of you, and if you come down to -morrow there's not a man, from the oldest inspector to the youngest constable, who wouldn't be glad to shake you by the hand."
--G. Lestrade, "The Adventure of the Six Napoleons"

Over the years, Inspector Lestrade seemed to warm a little bit to Sherlock Holmes. Maybe more than a little. In 1894, after a few years without the consulting detective, Lestrade is all "I've got you now, you over-rated consultant!" in "Norwood Builder," but eight years later, when he utters the statement above, he's all Sherlock Holmes fanboy.

But was everyone else at Scotland Yard so thrilled with their Baker Street benefactor? Had Gregson come around as well? How about Constable Rance or one of the other officers that suddenly found themselves looking foolish in Watson's best-sellers? And have you worked anywhere where outside consultants were brought in because their skills were so publicly lauded over the home team?

I suspect Lestrade was exaggerating Scotland Yard's complete and total affection for Holmes a little bit.

But such is the way of the exuberant fan, the sort of person who steps up to the mike at a celebrity Q&A, designates themselves the speaker for all of fandom, and proceeds to say whatever they themselves feel in their hearts, amplified by words like, "I just want to say for all of us . . ." while at least one person in that room rolls their eyes.

Speaking for just myself, here, because I am that eye-roller. I usually let those happy enthusiasts off the hook, though, as they're caught up in the moment, and faced with a celebrity, who among us might not feel the urge to puff ourselves up to a larger size just to face said person of greatness. But there's also the darker version of that same sort . . . the fan who wants to speak for the rest of us just to define what our fandom thinks or does to anyone who will listen.

We have a wonderfully accepting Sherlockian community, where your ego can get a nice petting on occasion . . . nothing at all wrong with that. But if your ego starts to mainline that petting and swell up to a place where it's issuing royal edicts or hobby-wide proclamations, well, maybe it's time to dial it back a bit and lay off the juice. Lately I've been seeing some names pop up from a few . . . ummmm,  "folks" . . .  whom I'd forgotten about, who were fond of presenting themselves as a speaker for Sherlockiana decades ago, and still seem to be at it today. The sort that even when doing something so positive on the surface as bestowing an honor on someone else, it was plain that their apparent ability to hand out that award was as much about confirming their perceived status as honoring their target. But I really don't want to insult our pal Lestrade with any collateral comparison damage there, so back to business.

I'm not exactly sure why Lestrade had decided to speak for all of Scotland Yard in that moment in "The Six Napoleons." Maybe he felt Holmes's achievement in solving the case was so masterful that the compliment of a single inspector would not be enough, and needed to be amplified by making it come from all of the Yard. Lestrade, by 1902, had been taken down a peg so often that he definitely wasn't doing it to try to show himself as more important at the Yard than he was.

Sherlock Holmes certainly believed Lestrade's words, as we see from Watson's description, "it seemed to me that he was more nearly moved by the softer human emotions than I had ever seen him." (Sherstrade fans, this might be your quote to needle your local Johnlocker, if you're friendly enough to do a little ship-poking.) So even if Sherlock Holmes knew the words weren't exactly one hundred percent factual, the fact that Lestrade cared enough to express it that way did seem to mean a lot to him.

And that, I suppose, isn't worth the eye roll that an old cynic like me might have given Lestrade, had I been there. Speaking for no fans but myself, let me say this: Good luck figuring it all out. It's yours to figure out, though, in any case.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

A mission from Doyle's Rotary Coffin

We all know how easy it is to proclaim our values for the world to see, but actually going out of one's way to put those values into action . . . not always so easily done!

Tonight I found my own values put to the test as I undertook a mission for Doyle's Rotary Coffin, that swarming society whose members have vowed that "No Holmes barred!" is the way to live a proper Sherlockian life. The group's current project, a defense of the "35 Worst Films" as called out by, is working to mount a defense of each of those thirty-five films. As no single human mind could bear such a task in a short amount of time, the DRC has been looking for volunteers to man the parapets. I stepped forward this morning, and was assigned 1990's Hands of a Murderer, a film that I remembered being horribly disappointed in back when it came on network television.

I had enjoyed Edward Woodward in The Equalizer, but his Sherlock Holmes had seemed somehow less British than his CIA agent in that show. And John Hillerman's Watson seemed at that time like he was still talking to Thomas Magnum instead of Sherlock Holmes.

But almost thirty years gives a person some perspective, and after learning to appreciate such films as the Asylum's "Sherlock Holmes and Dinosaurs" as it came to be called (real title Sherlock Holmes), The Hands of a Murderer was now chock-full of unexpected charms.

Colorful characters, borrowed details from both the Canon and Rathbone movies . . . Woodward's stockier-than-normal Holmes was more than made up for by all the rest of it. And I'll leave more than that to my defense over at the Doyle's Rotary Coffin site, which should be appearing there soon.

Edward Woodward's Sherlock Holmes did not get barred this evening, and Doyle's Rotary Coffin has triumphed yet again! May many another victory lay ahead for its battle against stockaded Sherlocks.

Watson, Victorian Nick Fury, Lestrade, and Sherlock Holmes

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Still not quiet enough, after all these years

A familiar anonymous voice came up in the comments after my recent blog post about my thirty-year-old issue with an all-male Baker Street Irregulars:

"Ironically, by 1989 Tom Stix was planning to admit women into the BSI -- he did not want to offend Julian Wolff, so he waited until after Wolff's death in 1990, to admit women in 1991. No firebranding was needed. On the contrary, it's arguable that the many Irregulars who lobbied Stix quietly, behind the scenes, to admit women into the BSI, were more effective...."

This voice has piped up whenever I've written about the subject, making sure I understand that no credit for the change falls my way, even though I don't ever remember claiming any. If this voice wants to credit those polite, quiet behind-the-scenes voices who encouraged Tom Stix to allow women into the Baker Street Irregulars, and patiently waited for Julian Wolfe to die, fair enough. No public outcry from yours truly needed at all for that eventual outcome. Tom Stix wasn't a bad guy, he'd have probably gotten there in any case. So my anonymous critic is right -- in 1991, women would have finally be allowed into the holy halls of the BSI with or without me making a fuss. But this anonymous writer misses one big part of that issue, and why it's now a permanent part of my story.

Those polite, silent Irregulars, so concerned with not upsetting the social order, were unknown to me, to female Sherlockians, to anyone who might react to the current state of American Sherlockiana's feature society in 1989. All we knew was that the membership policy sucked and nobody seemed to give a damn. That is all we saw. And somehow we were expected to expect change from a group that publicly made the statement that "men only" was a part of their identity? And that the appropriate path was to somehow intuit that we should privately approach the head of that group and go "Please, sir, might you tell me if I might hope for a long-overdue correction to this silliness?" when the group's head in the 1960s had famously ripped up a note from female Sherlockians trying to gain entrance to the festivities.

And really, when did quietly asking the powers-that-be ever work in effecting social change?

During Sherlockiana's most recent issue involving the treatment of female Sherlockians, Jacquelynn Morris did a very good thing on social media. She came out with a statement, with her name attached, "that serious work is going on behind the scenes at the moment. Public information will be available once a viable plan is in place. You are heard. You matter. You are loved."

In 1989, did I hear anything close to that in reaction to my displeasure at being in a male-only group? Did I hear any private assurances from these quiet, polite heroes? Nope. Just the "How DARE you!" sort of backlash and a bit of mockery from an asshole or two who have always thought themselves above the rest of us. But we're not in 1989 any more, are we?

Those who are more concerned for their own status than actual change are always content to sit back and let time and the rest of society do the work for them, rather than attach their name to an issue. There were indeed some fine folks who worked toward a gender-inclusive Baker Street Irregulars, and along the way I've heard some of their stories. They don't seem nearly so aggrieved at my own actions, nor worry about where the credit goes for that final change, which was entirely due to Tom Stix (the BSI being a dictatorship after all).

After thirty years, it's kind of funny to hear the same argument from the same direction. Whatever my part or non-part was in history, I'm still glad to be on the record as being on the right side of it, even if my manners didn't live up to the standards of somebody who chooses to remain a nameless critic in a public space. The good thing I would have preferred to see happen long before I became a Sherlockian finally happened, and that is all that really matters.

But the next time I decide to protest something, I'll be sure to stick my pinky up.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Loners versus lovers

There is no one right way to love Sherlock Holmes. But, if one looks hard at the reasons we love Sherlock Holmes, there are definitely perspectives that yield better results than others.

Sherlock Holmes is a magnet for brilliant loners and those who would like to identify as same. Here is a man who has no friends when we first meet him, is so accomplished in his field that the regular fellows don't even get him, and seems to be right all the time when those around him are foolish to question his brilliance. Who wouldn't want to be that guy? And if one has any cause to feel like they might be kinda smart and also socially awkward, here is one's poster child.

It's a classic route to come to Sherlockiana, for geniuses, narcissists, and those who'd like a little more genius or a little more narcissism in their lives. Or maybe that was just me. When I first came to Sherlockiana, I didn't see the value of John H. Watson at all. Sherlock Holmes was the man. Watson was Nigel Bruce, the guy who just followed the Great One around and helped make him look all the better by comparison, his first disciple and hype man. And I was not the only one.

When Rex Stout read his paper "Watson Was A Woman" before the Baker Street Irregulars about ninety years ago, it wasn't meant to sing Watson's praises with that comparison. It was meant as a joke, and the boys' club famously threw him out into the snow for saying such a thing of the good doctor. But think about that for a minute, and what that comparison fully implied: That John H. Watson was someone who cared, really cared, for Sherlock Holmes. Because Watson certainly couldn't be gay in the 1940s for those old boys, now, could he?

The last great wave of Sherlocks, whether you're talking Sherlock, Elementary, Miss Sherlock, or even Holmes and Watson, have leaned harder into the relationship between Holmes and Watson, not just featuring the great genius as Rathbone and company did, but featuring the one person who finds it in themselves to care about this great weirdo, and eventually gets him to care back. Instead of tales of individual achievement, the Canon of Holmes and Watson is seen as the power of partnership, of the strength of two distinctly different entities coming together to be better than either could be alone.

The Holmes and Watson story has always been a light of the love between two people, as could be seen in Christopher Morley's title Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson: A Textbook of Friendship in 1944. He didn't seem to want to use the word "love" full on it that title, but love is what real friendship actually is, and even Morley had to admit there was no greater friendship than that of Sherlock and John. That that love was really the important part.

And when we, as Sherlockians, look at what we can take away from the Canon of Holmes and Watson, the example of Sherlock Holmes as a smarter-than-everyone-else loner who makes fun of the guys down at the Yard just trying to do their jobs probably isn't the healthiest takeaway, and one that it's good that some of us might be growing out of. For those who came to Sherlockiana for the love between Sherlock Holmes and John Watson to start with, good on you -- you saw the best part right off the bat.

"Education never ends, Watson. It is a series of lessons with the greatest for the last." Even Sherlock Holmes was aware that life is a continual learning experience. And I really think it was John Watson who helped him come to that conclusion, just as he helps some of us longtime Sherlockians finally figure that out as well -- that Watson's acceptance of others can be so much more important than Sherlock's rising above them.

Monday, April 15, 2019

The thirtieth anniversary of the disagreeable BSI

Sometimes, something you think will be a very good thing doesn't turn out to be as happy as you expected. Case in point, my induction to the Baker Street Irregulars, thirty years ago.

I don't go on much about being a member of the Baker Street Irregulars. I don't attach those three letters to my name in correspondence or Sherlockian resumes. And occasionally I bitch about the group's membership policy. All of this begins thirty years ago.

Because in the late 1980s, a progressive Sherlockian, having come into the hobby with Baring-Gould's Annotated celebrating the BSI as the cool kids of Sherlockiana, had to deal with one big non-groovy fact: It was a men-only club. Women had protested that fact way back in the 1960s, but were forced to organize their own dinner the night of the BSI fest, because it just wasn't happening. The one guy in charge, along with the more conservative members, found women at their Sherlock night unthinkable. (Some old wags, when the toast to their one female guest during happy hour was over, would even gleefully roar, "Get her out of here!")

Well, a month or two after my induction into the group under the investiture "Winwood Reade" (a real author and a bit of an atheist troublemaker, someone should have thought about that), I penned the following words in my monthly column in the local scion newsletter:

"I have never been wholeheartedly in favor of any group that discriminates against females in the choice of its membership. The counsel of some well-meaning friends got me to attend the dinner this year, and now I find I am a member of a group that discriminates against women. It just doesn't sit well on my soul, regardless of any honor involved."

No Facebook or Twitter back then, but the letters soon starting flying in, both to me and my friend Bob Burr, who published the newsletter:

"This is not the first time he's made unflattering remarks about the BSI, and it may not be the last, but I don't have to sit still for it. If he doesn't like the organization, then he can get the hell out of it."

That from one of the top BSIs of the day. Another note suggested I should have politely and quietly written the head of the group and apologize for embarrassing the BSI if i truly felt "anguished enough." (They liked to use the "Boo-hoo, somebody has emotions!" card back then, too.) Ironically, that fellow later got himself removed from the group, which is, like this one, probably another tale that won't get celebrated in the BSI archives.

Even a few friends tried to apologize for me, one claiming I just had too much going on and didn't know what I was doing. Had there been a Sherlockian Twitter or Facebook back then . . . well, one hesitates to consider. But when one starts one's Sherlockian career with that sort of blow-up, one is not quite so hesitant to say or write what one thinks about the Grand Old Organization or other topics, not quite so worried about one's reputation with the Sherlockian establishment, and that even now, will get you called "the worst person in our hobby" on occasion.

Happily, while I was a rare public dissenter to something like the no-women BSI back in those days, these days we have more than a few Sherlockians willing to firebrand where necessary, and a whole convention that is as progressive as progressive can be. I don't feel nearly as alone as I did in 1989.

So, "Happy anniversary, thing that just wasn't fun at the time, but had to be done!" It's been a crazy ride since then, but as I said at the time, quoting somebody other than Sherlock Holmes, "I yam what I yam." Good luck being who you are in the years ahead.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

The spectrum of Sherlocks

A blizzard and a "Free Watchathon" deadline pushed me into charging headlong into Miss Sherlock this weekend, and one thing became quickly apparent: This brilliant adaptation of Sherlock Holmes is on the far end of a spectrum of Sherlocks compared with the most common sort we see.

At that end of the Sherlock spectrum is the likes of Sherlock Gnomes. Deerstalker -- check! Victorian-ish London -- check! Mature men with British accents -- check! All the trappings that visually and audibly signal a Sherlock Holmes are there. All the things a child would recognize as Sherlock Holmes, and why not? Sherlock Gnomes is a movie for children.

Miss Sherlock, on the other hand, is quite the opposite. Definitely not Victorian nor London. Definitely young women in both the Holmes and Watson roles. Definitely no British accents, as they aren't even speaking English. And yet, Miss Sherlock does an incredible job of capturing the characters in a way an adult mind totally understands and recognizes.

The personalities of Sherlock and Wato-san are a little different, their stories are a little different as we get to explore what aspects this pair brings to the surface, but they are still dead-on Holmes and Watson, as familiar as ever. And better still is the way Conan Doyle's plot devices are buried just below the surface of each episode -- at some point a Sherlockian familiar enough with the original Doyle will have to shout, "It's 'Stock-broker's Clerk!'" or "'Three Gables!' It's 'Three Gables!'"  Yet the tweaks on the old tales make them fresh and leave something fun for the new viewer to discover when they finally do get back to those stories.

BBC's Sherlock ripped the lid off a real can of Sherlockian whupass when it showed the world that our lads didn't have to be trapped in their original Victorian package, and Miss Sherlock takes that torch and runs it further along in its eternal (We hope!) marathon.

Sherlock Holmes can exist anywhere, anywhen, and in anyone when a talented creator does their job.

Which makes the appearance of things like Doyle's Rotary Coffin and its motto of "No Holmes barred!" all the more understandable for coming along when they do. The Sherlock explosion has surely only just begun, and while we can't collect every piece of Sherlockiana in our libraries any more, we can still experience as many faces of Sherlock Holmes as we can.

The best of which show us that Sherlock Holmes and John H. Watson that exist in ourselves.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Baron Gruner and his lust diary

Ever notice how "The Illustrious Client," first story in The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes, has the word "lust" in the title? Sneaky.

To me, The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes has always been the late-night cable of Sherlock Holmes story collections, because while we don't get actual cuss words, this is were the adult stuff starts happening. People have affairs. A guy like John Cusack without his boombox gets beaten under his ex-lover's window in a breakup power move. There's a vampire and a Phantom-of-the-Opera. (But not really a vampire or a Phantom-of-the-Opera, just two ladies with bad situations.)

And then there's Baron Gruner and his lust diary.

We let kids read these stories?

"No self-respecting woman could stand it," Sherlock Holmes gave as his review of Gruner's book.

The only other reader prior to Holmes called it, "a beastly book -- a book no man, even if he had come from the gutter, could have put together." And her full review involved throwing acid in the author's face, which is quite a statement right there.

Given the extensive details held within the book, one almost wonders if Adelbert Gruner was trying to capture the very souls of his lovers within its pages as he used them up. Watson never gets to see inside the book, of course, just a book on porcelain pottery that Holmes tells him to go read with no explanation, and Watson dutifully does. So we get to hear about cyclical dates and artist-decorators, instead of whatever the hell Gruner was doing to those women and recording in his book. And that is probably for the best.

The women involved, those who survived his predations, would not have necessarily wanted the readers of The Strand Magazine to be reading of their trials, even years later. But they were probably glad to see Gruner brought down when his injuries made the papers.

The final reader of the book, Miss Violet de Merville, may not have even read the book. It may have just been her father who reviewed it for her, with the book close at hand in case quotations were needed.  But it was evidence enough to finally convince her to part ways with her former fiancee.

And that is what we read in "The Illustrious Client," the Sherlock Holmes story that puts the "lust" in its title. It's always been a favorite story of mine, as vague as it is in places about certain not-for-the-kiddies details, because you know who's bad, and he's very bad, and you know who's good, and he's Sherlock Holmes . . . though there is that crime part, and Kitty Winter does do jail time. But it's solid. as solid and simple as we'd like life to be.

But among the other lessons in this story? Be careful with acid. That is some nasty, nasty stuff. But those dogs that rip up creeping men and stand-up comics who keep women locked away don't treat their targets any sweeter. Watson and/or his Literary Agent might have been making a point here.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

The perils of the older Sherlockian

A few words of wisdom came along this morning from the Homeless Network that were worth a little consideration for me, as an older Sherlockian. The Holmes Network has been caring for their fellow Sherlockians for many years now, with aid, snacks, and whatever they can do at 221B Con, one of those rare and special things we never saw in the more male-dominated world of Sherlockiana past. Their words went like this:

"Just remember that just because someone has been in fandom a long time a) doesn't mean they fan better than you and b) doesn't mean their interpretations carry more weight than yours. You need nobody's approval to fandom how you fandom."

I felt those words to my core, not because I've been in Sherlock Holmes fandom a long time, but because I was a young fan once, too. Now comes the part where I do what we older fans do and tell y'all about the way it used to be, which sometimes gets used as a stick to beat newer fans with by the assholes among us. But I promise this isn't for that, as much of an asshole as I can be at times, despite some of the very kind compliments I've gotten lately.

In the 1980s, when I was hitting my Sherlockian stride, the Sherlockian world I knew had a whole lot of boys in it and, being boys, we all wanted to win at Sherlockiana. And how did you win at Sherlockiana back then? There was practically a checklist: Start a local scion society, publish a newsletter and a journal, get the Baker Street Irregulars of New York to notice you, invite you to the dinner, and make you a member. And that was only step one. Once you got there you had to look for new worlds to conquer, because it was the Grand Game and boys' games need winners.

And for Sherlockians like me, nerdy little social outcasts, damaged by high school life who were building our egos up from scratch, the world of Sherlockiana was a great place to build an ego. By the time I was in my thirties, I had attained enough recognition to feel really, really good about myself, good enough that I could get into a fracas with a Sherlockian heavyweight or two over some social issue and not be chased out of the hobby forever. (Though it did leave a mark, but that's a long story for another time.) The point is, this hobby and my ego became very intertwined.

It's hard to step back and look objectively at Sherlockiana when your ego is in play, but on those days that I can, what I always see is a peer group of people who are just as good at this thing as I was, or sometimes better, at different points in their Sherlockian journey. And their journey are taking them places mine could never have, because they're making that trip in a world far different from the one mine happened in. 

One of my favorite parts of 221B Con is how humbling it is that way. I'm walking amidst hundreds and hundreds of Sherlockians who are having great fun on a path that I couldn't fully take if I wanted to. I'm an over-sixty, white American mostly-hetero male, that part of our society that really needs to step back and let the other folks speak at this point. I used that kind of language once, and another over-sixty, white American male called it "self-hate," but it's not. It's recognizing that there's a time when my own ego needs to shut the hell up and just listen, even if I might feel a bit de-valued in the act. Hopefully, by age sixty, we've built up enough self-worth to take a little de-valuation.

Getting older is a tricky thing. You have all this experience and knowledge and you really want to tell your story. (Notice that I went that route here.) And sometimes your own story seems really, really important and pertinent and needs to be told. (Yup, here!) And those moments aren't solely the province of Old School Sherlockians of advanced age -- fans who came in with BBC Sherlock fan or crossed over from other fandoms really want to tell their stories to younger fans as well. But that's the key: You have to tell your story without telling them how they need to live their story.

Because their story is going to take them into a future that some of us eventually won't get to see, and have no idea how to navigate. When we're young, we all want Yoda or Merlin to come along and impart their wisdom, but there comes a time when you're older that you realize you aren't Yoda or Merlin, and maybe you should hear what the Lukes, Leias, Arthurs, or Gwens are actually trying to tell you.

As my good Carter will tell you, even I need a video game fairy following me around and shouting "LISTEN!" in its little fairy voice. (Had a friend with that as their ringtone, now it's stuck in my head.) But it is the best advice any little fairy can give, especially to us long-time fans.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

On belonging to a certain exclusive club

I like my exclusive clubs to be self-selected.

Of course, making an exclusive club self-selected, with transparent and obtainable objectives for making yourself a member, does actually make it inclusive, so in the end, it's not really all that exclusive after all, which is just fine by me.

Some time ago, when I was discussing some other topic, which I'll save for another time, somebody tossed 221B Con's Diogenes Club at me as an example of an exclusive club, trying to justify some other thing, which takes me back to that phrase I used above: "Self-selected."

221B Con's Diogenes Club was founded in it's initial year, when we were all wondering if this whole Sherlock Holmes con thing could be a success. Attendees at that first con were offered the chance at a single lifetime attendance fee for all future cons at the very special price of $221. I had a few friends with cash-on-hand to take advantage of the offer, but I had drained my funds in the dealer's room, etc., and could only take the con up on the bargain advance registration that year.

The price of that lifetime admittance to 221B Con has gone up to $350 now, a hefty price tag, I know. And I do know, because year before last, I spent six months saving up with the goal of buying myself that very thing as a birthday present. And I was overjoyed to have spent the money. Because I didn't do it for me.

If one looks to how long it takes to make up that $350 in what it would cost to attend the con every year and buy the con t-shirt you get for being in the Diogenes Club, it would take about six years of attending. But it isn't something one does in hopes of that "free" seventh, eighth, or ninth year. It's something one does to plant a flag and go, "221B Con is something I support, and plan to attend as much as possible in the years ahead."

When the con comes around, you can't really tell the Diogenes Club members from any of the rest of the attendees. They might not be in the registration line, and they might get an hour or so of a "thank you" reception at some point, which you don't get in trouble for forgetting to attend, as I did this year. (Got into some great morning conversation with a couple of Sherlockians that made hours seem like minutes.) You basically attend the con just as you did all the times you paid the normal, low, low sign-up fee.

That's my kind of inclusive "exclusive" club, if ever there was one. Offer people a chance to support the cause, but don't turn anyone away from joining the party. If you really want to become a 221B Con Diogenes Club member, you can set that goal and attain it by doing one clearly-stated objective thing. No invisible watchdogs to get past at all. Save seven dollars a week for a year, and you'll even have some money left over for the food truck. And really, it just makes you feel good, quietly knowing that you've committed to a wonderful event and its future, even if you didn't really need to.

Well, "quietly," if you're not a blogger who just likes to go on about a favorite Sherlockian thing.

Sherlock Holmes and Floor Bacon

Whenever you get a bunch of people together, they're inevitably going to add random bits to their common culture. Little touchstones of shared experience, recognitions of our similar goals as fans, or just in-jokes that go on way past the punchline -- wherever they come from, they rise up with seemingly no connection to the original purposes of those gathered and can be a bit baffling to the outside observer.

I remember hearing of these from when I first became a Sherlockian. Why did the Adventuresses of Sherlock Holmes sing a song about reindeer flying upside down? I must have known once, but that memory is now long gone. That was about thirty years ago or more.

"Red Pants Mondays" is a more recent bit of that mysterious sort of lore. At this point many can still point to the exact origins of that Watsonian trope, but for so many folks wandering into the culture, it's one more "What the heck?" All a newcomer knows is that somebody obviously had some fun with whatever the thing was, and they want to find out what was going on there.

Which brings me to the Floor Bacon, that icon of pilgrimage and "All Hail The Floor Bacon" badge ribbons at 221B Con.

Somewhere, in the long hallway that leads to all the panels and dealers and gatherings and singings and dancings of 221B Con is a fixture of the Atlanta airport Marrott that is exactly what the name says it is: Floor Bacon. A piece of the stone floor that is undeniably a little more than a half a piece of bacon. Part of the actual floor, never to be picked up or eaten.

It's not easy to find the Floor Bacon, which adds to its mystique. Most of us had to have someone else introduce us to the Floor Bacon, another wee bonding moment during a weekend of bonding moments. And the Floor Bacon soon becomes a signpost that you're on your way to all the fun things of the con, which gives it that much more significance.

"I'm bringing the bacon at last," Sherlock Holmes once said, in his guise as Altamont in "His Last Bow." And we all know how much Holmes was fond of going to the floor to search for clues, laying himself flat on the floor like a lover. Our honoring the Floor Bacon also pays homage to both of those bits of Sherlock, even if I might have just made that part up right now. (Though somebody had to think of it before me, and all credit to you!)

The Canons of Sherlock Holmes are so full of details that make life more interesting, including the floor at a Marriott hotel. But as much as we give that book or books credit, it's just words on paper. Like the Floor Bacon, the Red Pants, or those upside down reindeers, it's the Sherlockians who give it all life and magic, and bring that bit of "extra" to those things that we love.

So long live the Floor Bacon! (Which might be soon upstaged by the Fudtruck, so we'll see what happens next year . . . and what comes along then!)

Monday, April 8, 2019

The Post-221B Con 2019 Report -- Monday Night

The great thing about driving down to 221B Con with a companion is that when you're driving back, you get a lot of time to compare notes. Because unless you're conjoined twins or best friends who don't get to see much of each other normally, you're probably going to go to different panels a lot of the time. And getting the rundown of what that other person got to see and hear is as close as you can get too a second 221B Con.

The good Carter, my long-suffering spouse, hit some really good panels that I missed, like "Creativity and Neurodiversity," "Co-writing, the Ups and Downs," "Insecurity,  Imposter syndrome, and other Creative Pitfalls," "Women in the Canon," "Hounds through the Years," and the Atlantic Radio Theater company Saturday show. I'm not going to try to give second-hand reporting here, but I got to hear a lot of good things, and she's coming home inspired and with some useful ideas.

She also reminded me of the "New Hotness" panel we attended together, that got lost in my personal fog of con, but did provide a whole lot of tips on shows to check out in our current flood of good TV and film.

One more thing I forgot was going back to pick up the art card I commissioned from Maggie Kellner, who was drawing your choice of Sherlocks at the bargain price of five bucks! She got the help of Elinor Gray in tracking me down who recognized that "an older gentleman who wanted a Will Ferrell Sherlock" was most probably only one person. So glad Maggie sent out the search parties, because that card is going to be a great memento of the year we got our first Holmes and Watson panel. (Yes, I am aware of the implications of that "first," meaning there could well be a second. Are there hopes?)

The many sides of 221B Con can bring you something different every year. Want to do all ACD Canon related panels? You can go that route. Want to do all Sherlock pairings and fics? You've got that route. Want to delve into things to help your writing, hit the writer's suite, and maybe get some flash-fic in? (I should get to flash-fic more. I loved that one.) 221B Con is a great creativity inspirer. The potential of five tracks of content provides something for anyone who truly wants to learn what's going on in the heads of other Sherlock Holmes fans.

I may a bit biased, of course, as I'm a big fan of writers, creators, and those who challenge the conventions of life that need challenging. From the gender neutral restrooms to the attendees' ready acceptance of ideas like Doyle's Rotary Coffin, the "No Holmes Barred" ideal of finding the good in all Sherlocks, 221B Con proves itself a place for open minds and lots of love every year.

Because when ACD and the many creators after him gave us more and more to love about Sherlock Holmes, it's only fitting that we spread that emotion and the joy it brings around a bit.

The Monday after 221B Con is typically the time for that ailment called con drop, when worn out 221 Bees are prey to any virus or depressed state that can find an opening, but this year, I'm coming away wondering if it's possible to carry the best things of the con running like a stream through our lives the rest of the year. Sure, 221B Con is the lake where all the waterways converge and we see the water at its most impressive, but the streams that feed it really are out there all year long, aren't they?

There's something in that to consider, as we start the long wait for next April.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

The 221B Con 2019 Report -- Sunday

Oh, laptop, you are my little post-con pal. Always here for me when it's time to reflect . . . .

Ooops, sorry folks, just having a private moment with my little Macbook before getting down to blogging. Feeling very full of feels, as they say, or maybe used to say. So many words to learn and unlearn as life goes on.

So! 221B Con 2019! Sunday! Over now! I miss so many things!!!

This was a very good year for the con. I met some new folks with brilliant, shiny new brains (well, that sure doesn't sound at all creepy . . . not pulling a Frankenstein here). Got to see some old con familiars and friends and familiar friends. (I am verbally fishtailing all over here. Apologies in advance!) Like the Grinch, my heart grew three sizes this weekend, and I returned all the toys to Whovi . . .  (Stop! Just report on the damn con, ye emotional bastard!)

Okay! After a nice night of sleep, a quick transcription of the lyrics to the Holmes and Watson song, finishing the blog of the night before, and some peanuts and Diet Dr. Pepper, I got down to my first panel of the day, "50 Shades of A." The "A" refers to asexual, and the panel was on Sherlock Holmes as a relatable asexual character. I know sometimes those who view the con from a distance get the impression that it's all "sex-having-Sherlock all the time," as those are the flashy bits, but the full range of 221B Con gives voice to so many perspectives that one may tire of me mentioning "So many perspectives!" which is a direction I at least hope I'm going. Anyway, good panel, and as with so many panelists, they handled their audience very well.

Next came "Sherlolly: Into the Future," where Molly Hooper got her time and due. I learned the word "Johntent" as well as got to hear the full take on "The Final Problem" from those who ship Sherlolly, which I hadn't gotten to hear so far, as well as many another thought on Molly's relationship with Sherlock. I hadn't ever thought much before about Anderson's feelings toward Molly if he shipped her with Sherlock, as we saw in "The Empty Hearse," which made me start mentally building my own fics, which any good character examination will do at the con.

Gotta love Molly, though, as she's a total creation of BBC Sherlock, in a role that Watson often ventures near to in some adaptations. If Eurus ever left prison for a normal like, I might like to see how they worked together, if that's even possible. But back to the con.

Lunch at the food truck after that -- the hotel brings a lovely food truck out into the courtyard where thing like tacos, Caesar salads, pulled pork sandwiches, chicken fingers, etc. can be grabbed, depending upon what day it is. You can sit outside in the courtyard and chat with the new Doctor (who might also be a doctor) and discuss Doyle's Rotary Coffin or whatever else you like. Oh, wait, did I say "Doyle's Rotary Coffin?" There was one!

@imjohnlock4life created this beautiful spinner featuring Conan Doyle (played by a Will Ferrell action figure, which is too perfect, given the society's origins) that spins to point at a different Holmes movie every time -- if you've seen it, you get a mint! Having the Three Patch Podcast mention the DRC was wonderful, but this lovely creation has taken the . . . . group? movement? . . . to a whole new level. It makes me think that Doyle's Rotary Coffin needs to host its own game show at next year's con, and I do love doing game shows.

Which reminds me: Part of con fun is visiting the Three Patch suite or the Homeless Network Suite, and I missed out on my chance for one of those. Never enough time here. The podcast panels, like Three Patch and Baker Street Babes get sacrificed sometimes (like this year) because I know they'll be recorded for later listening. But I still miss seeing them live, so I will have to make a point of that next year. Hermione Granger's time turner might help with this, if such a thing existed, but who knows what trouble I could wind up causing along the way?

"Sherlock AUs before they were AUs" was the next panel, where Rabidsamfan and I were panelists covering the whole range of Sherlocks who were extended from the Canon, but were set in some other universe, many before Sherlockians even spoke of alternate universes as a thing.  It went pretty well, but I have to admit I was spending half the time dreaming of my upcoming three o'clock panel.
You know the one. 

So soon after, I gathered up my box of trophies, went to the car for my framed Holmes and Watson movie poster and camped outside of the Florida room to prepare for my final panel of the day on that very movie. We didn't quite get a line of folks camping out with me waiting to get in, but friends of Holmes and Watson did start arriving early. The good Carter discovered the room was empty, having had no panel in the previous hour, and we started heading in and setting up shop. It was time to award Holmes and Watson with "Best Sherlock Holmes Movie of 2018" and presenting a trophy to every person who came to the panel was the best way to do that.

In the hour that followed, I hope I didn't tramp over Rabidsamfan too much in my enthusiasm to exude about Holmes and Watson, because I was coming at this panel with an energy like I don't think I've come to a panel with before -- but seen many a time from folks on other panels. There are moments when it's great to be a fan of something. This was one of them.

The panel ended rather organically at the five-minutes-til mark, as we all kind of broke into conversation, and that was just fine. We had a great audience.

I would say that was the perfect finish to 221B Con, but 221B Con has its own perfect ending, a little tradition that is kinda beautiful. Only one panel remains at 4 PM on a Sunday, and that's the con directors' "Our Last Bow." I've been to six of these so far, missing the con's sophmore effort for what were surely foolish reasons I've long forgotten, and I swear there have been less suggestions about the con itself every year, points of improvement lately centering on the venue's amenities, and those aren't many, nor too harsh. The hotel treats us pretty well.

I don't know if critics of the con have just stopped coming, leaving only the true believers behind, or what's going on here, but it sure feels to me like it's just an event people love. Don't get me wrong, it can have its bumpy spots. Certain fans might not feel as seen as they might be. Someone might say the wrong thing on occasion. And not everybody loves everybody else. But, y'know, with all the negative stuff floating around the country these days, it's still a little oasis of joy.

It's not like the Sherlockian events we were used to before Downey and Cumberbatch "disrupted" the Sherlockian world, to use business-speak. And I'm always of mixed feelings about more traditional Sherlockians discovering this little oasis -- I'm simultaneously stunned that some aren't the least bit curious about this con and wishing a few more would explore this side of our hobby, but I also don't want to see those who wouldn't appreciate it for what it is coming in with a "missionary" position. 221B Con is well beyond Sherlockian missionary positions. (Of course, I'm sure many a more traditional Sherlockian feels the same in reverse: Wishing more of us would come to their things, but not wanting suggestions of change.) But there's more than enough room for different styles of Sherlocking to exist these days, and 221B Con's particular style . . . well, you know where I stand on that.

It's a long drive to get here and it goes way too fast. But 221B Con leaves a warmth that will stay with you all year long, and, yeah, it just happened again this year.

The 221B Con 2019 Report -- Saturday

With so brief a window as a weekend con, little things can start making a difference. An uncomfortable bed can cost you sleep, make you take time to change rooms, and cost you a panel or two. And, actually cause you to become a little more social because you can't sleep and wander down early. I say "you," but this is actually all about the first part of my day. That bed was just vexing me.

Spending what quickly becomes hours comparing notes with fellow Sherlockians is never time wasted, even if you do miss an opportunity or two for other potential happenings. And nobody wants to give up on a good conversation if responsibilities aren't forcing you to. I'm not going into detail here about what went on in those conversations, as I now have more blog content for a month or so, once my brain settles down and processes all the input from this weekend.

But eventually I wandered into an AU panel, to see what alternate universes of Sherlock and John are up to these days, but lack of sleep quickly started hinting it might be time for a nap . . . which the torture bed was not going to allow. And at noon, my first panel-participation of the con came due for "Unreal Podcast," about doing a fictional podcast, which I was worried I was too tired for. But Mary O'Reilly is a great co-panelist, and our corresponding traveling companions many a great audience, so the panel was actually, engaging and lively enough to make me forget how tired I was.  (Of course, no one else was their to bear witness to all that I've said above, and I'm now worried that a member of the con team is going to show up with a hood and compound bow, going "YOU HAVE FAILED THIS CON!" in a husky Arrow voice. But it really suited my podcast journey, and we did have fun.)

The need for food cut into my next set of panel choices, three of which would all have been fun. But add swapping out rooms to that need and missed almost all of them, barely got into the dealer's room to pick up Howard Ostrom's beautiful new books at a bargain price.

Looking for Howard earlier, I had already gotten myself a special treat -- a set of Fox Estacado's Sherlock prints, which are some of my favorite pieces of fan art.

An informative meeting about a particular Watsonian responsibility to come followed, but after that it was time for a little fine cinema: The Adventure of the Furtive Festivity. The short film about Watson planning a surprise birthday party for Holmes was especially well cast, written, and produced -- a really good film -- and the packed viewing room loved every minute of it. The con admins smartly schedule one more showing tomorrow in the largest room at the con, and I'm sure there will be a number of repeat viewers. Think a classically more mature Holmes and Watson couldn't be gay? The Adventure of the Furtive Festivity creates its Baker Street reality so well that seeing them as a couple comes off as naturally as anything we've seen in an extra-Canonical movie. It will be coming to YouTube later in the year, and when it comes, I'd highly recommend it. One day the short film will probably be seen as one of the forebears of full-fledged Johnlock on-screen couples being accepted by audiences.

After that, a room break . . . time here to sing the praises of events totally held in a single hotel. Nothing beats the ability to retire to one's room for an hour or so to recharge during a long day of Sherlocking. We do love our hobby, but one needs to refresh for the long haul on occasion -- and Saturday at 221B Con is indeed the long haul.

Back down in time for the costume show, though. One of 221B Con's thoughtful choices over the years has been to take the competition out of cosplay -- an act which doesn't seem to have hurt the number of people willing and able to costume up for the annual cosplay show. Hosted by Marilynne McKay as Queen Elizabeth, the costume show always rolls through all too quickly, but is the best display of the con's diverse nature all in one event. Costumes range from the pure Victorian dress to the cartoon character with everything in between, each displaying some love of the wearer.

At this point, I had intended to go to "World-Building for Writers," but the "Geek Vs." podcast game show was on the way, and I can't resist a big spinning game show wheel, nor Tony, the happy host of that podcast, and the hour that followed was a total party. Both sides of the panel room competed for cookies, battling on trivia, charades, pictionary, word clues, and Sherlockian knowledge. Having con-master Heather Holloway on our team really raised the level of our teams spirits about as high as they could go, and we pulled off some amazing moments of trivial triumph. Holmes-work from knowing the twist in The Last Sherlock Holmes Story to finishing an RDJ movie Holmes quote were all in our wheelhouse, but my favorite win was having to get my team to say the word "throb." This being 221B Con, I knew immediately that only two words would get that job done: "Pulsing" and "penis."

The Girl Scout cookies which followed our win were the tastiest of their kind -- the cookies of success! From there, it was on to the "Freaks in Love" kink panel, which I basically walked into blindly based on who the folks at the panel table were. (The one flaw with 221B Con panels is that the con thoughtfully doesn't put people's names on the panel schedule, which protects the speakers on more personal topics, but also makes one occasionally go "You spoke on that? How did I miss that!" But it's a good policy, despite the cost.) Anyway, the panel that followed was a good mix of fic and reality that didn't get too kinky, but had plenty of good tips for the attendees filling the room.

Another quick trip upstairs to the room, and back to arrive late for "Parodists, Imposters, and Pretenders," where I finally got to see Howard Ostrom on a panel with Shana Carter, Ashley Polasek, and Amy Thomas, as they discussed Holmeses who aren't Holmeses, covering a whole lot of ground. 

That took me up to ten PM, at which point, I went off the official schedule grid to the hotel bar, where @221BCrow was organizing a trivia quiz created by the non-present Margie Deck. We ordered drinks and a little food -- I got a massive pile of calamari and yet another order of the hotel's great macaroons (not the cocoanut kind) which got shared. (Also, who deep-fries lemon slices with their calamari? That led to one really weird mouth-experience.) Anyway, the trivia was just about the right level for the current mental state of all involved -- even things that would have been too easily known for an alert daytime Sherlockian where fun to guess at.

Following the trivia just came generally wonderful conversation, including a confession from a hate-reader of this blog during my dark anti-Elementary days and my apologies to said reader. (Sorry, all the rest of you who've stuck with me or come back at some point!) A couple of us may have tried a bit too hard to sell Olivia on Holmes and Watson, but when the evening ended with a request from someone else for all the lyrics to the musical finale to that movie, I had to count my Saturday as complete. (And was transcribing lyrics off the close-captioning to that movie immediately when I woke this morning.)

Anyway, on goes the Con, always getting better and better as we head through the weekend. And now, Sunday, the happiest . . . and saddest . . . time of the con, as we wind through our final day.