Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Final versus Final versus F . . .

If you've ever tried googling "The Final Podblem," you might have encountered the problem with naming something so close to something else with a very prominent and similar name.  This issue also recently occurred with the Doyle's Rotary Coffin book No Holmes Barred, as dropping the "m" out of that line is apparently a very popular search for porn. But this week, "The Final Podblem" finally got to "The Final Problem," and it brought forth all sorts of thoughts from the lads, as well as all sorts of thoughts from the aged Sherlockian listener.

It was a joy to hear someone discovering "The Final Problem" for the first time, wondering about so many things that Sherlockians have debated for nigh on a century. It brought out how much you can know about Moriarty without having ever read the Moriarty Canon, and what someone might think is in those tales just from all the times large chunks of "Final Problem" are used in movies or television when Moriarty shows up. And even I'm not sure where Moriarty having an air-gun cane is from at this point, though it sounds mighty familiar. It's a pity that "The Final Problem" occurs in the middle of The Complete Sherlock Holmes, too, as even a first-time reader knows immediately that there's a whole lot of this Sherlock Holmes book left that surely must have Sherlock Holmes in it.

About two-thirds of my way through the podcast, however, I had to wait for the supper I'd been working on to cook a bit, took a look at Twitter, and found a concern about the episode, which got it pulled down and then put back up. Not sure exactly what that concern was, but while I find great joy in hearing folks new to the Canon Holmes discussing it, there's an "F" word that I know can be a perilous stroll by the edge of a cliff in any discussion: "fandom."

Whether you're talking about the older part of Sherlock Holmes fandom (which is a fandom, despite some hoity-toity arguments to the contrary) and the newer part, there are some third rails that nobody should touch. As editor of The Watsonian (which I am working on, by the way), I've had to warn at least one writer away from a certain subject, and as long-time Sherlockian, I've raised the ire of a few folks in decades past with a flip or fiesty comment about their holy of holies. Fandom is a place where you're welcomed and loved for your common interest, but along with that comes making the thing such a part of your being that you can react as if physically harmed if some aspect of it seems disrespected.

And as much as we might feel the holy fire of righteous anger and virtuous indignation, part of being a long-haul fan is knowing not to hurt the younglings and frighten them off the thing they're just getting into, even when a little guidance might be necessary. Certain topics are usually best saved for one-on-one conversations with other Sherlockians, though when you do something like podcast or blog on the regular, you are going to get to those on occasion, if no other Sherlockians are handy to vent to. Trust me on this, there's a certain Big Sherlockian Institution that I always need to bite my tongue on and let bygones be bygones. But we're all humans, we all fuck up on occasion. (That "f" word? Not as troublesome as some others.)

Anyway, I was very glad to see that "The Final Podblem" got their footing back and re-released the episode this morning, no matter what the issue. And I'm not the saying this for the lovely plug they gave 'The Watsonian Weekly" at the end of this episode. (Why do we care about Watson so hard? Decades of fanning Holmes and needing a change of scenery without leaving the pleasant countryside of Canon.) Give it a listen, if you haven't tracked it down yet.

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