Monday, September 16, 2019

The new kids on the Baker Street block.

Ever listen to a podcast, hear the hosts start struggling with to come up with some bit of knowledge you consider commonplace, and and fight the urge to start loudly telling them what they need to know?

I have a feeling that's going to happen a lot with The Final Podblem, a podcast from Semiautomagic, Inc, now on its seventh episode, where Nick and Casey, the hosts, have made it their mission to work their way through the whole of the sixty Sherlock Holmes stories. And it's also going to start making be feel very, very old. Like "spent most of my life in the 1900s" old. (Sorry if I've already used that one on you -- its my new favorite thing.)

As they neared the end of their "Red-Headed League" episode, Nick and Casey got into a little bit of an exploration of that the word "rubber" could mean as Mr. Merryweather complains, "Still I confess that I miss my rubber. It is the first Saturday night for seven-and-twenty years that I have not had my rubber."

Now, having spent a childhood in the 1960s, when couples playing bridge was still an entertainment standard, my first reaction to their befuddlement was "They don't know what bridge is?" And then I realized, that, no, why should they? Who plays bridge any more?

I mean, sure it was in daily newspaper columns back when we had newspapers. And sitcom parents, like Ward and June Cleaver were always off to play bridge on black-and-white TV shows. But those are the things of ancient times.

Of course, my attributing Merryweather's "rubber" to a game of bridge is also a generational screw-up, as any reader of a Sherlockian annotated will tell you. In Mr. Merryweather's day, you didn't play bridge, you played whist -- the game bridge evolved from. Just like Ronald Adair played "a rubber of whist" the night before his death in "The Adventure of the Empty House."

Nick and Casey haven't come close to that one yet, which is why they started deducing that a "rubber" was "the act of betting itself" due to the context and a later comment by Holmes. It's almost like they're a couple of aliens who stumbled on to a copy of The Complete Sherlock Holmes, but y'know what? In a hobby where one is used to running into one's fellow know-it-alls most of the time, their Canonical innocence is kind of refreshing . . . if I can get over occasionally wanting to talk back to the iPhone as they ramble on at a fast-and-chatty pace.

They finish the episode trying to figure out what a "coronet" is as they head for "The Beryl Coronet" as, in their words, "dum-dums goofing on it real hard." They're having fun, they're going for it, and that's what podcasting is all about -- which is a lovely change from some of the too-serious sections of the old Sherlockian world. (And, hey, as ridiculous as my own podcast attempts have been, I' should be the last guy to throw stones at an earnest attempt at audio fun!)

I wish them well, and hope they enjoy Sherlock enough to keep going when, in a little over a year, they make it through the full sixty stories. There's a lot more movies, books, stories, radio plays, etc. out there if they really lock into our friends Holmes and Watson. That weekly pace though . . . whew! Which makes me think I'd better finish up a certain podcast myself.

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