Saturday, January 9, 2021

Back to the Gaslight Gala!

 It had been a while since I was at the Gaslight Gala, usually a Friday night favorite, a bit livelier than the more ceremonial Irregular dinner, so I love that they have the chance to pick up BSI folk this year. When the slideshow ended and David Harnois was about to start hosting, Michael McClure did a fine job of representing his home state of Illinois by sticking his tongue out at the camera. (We're just trouble here in downstate.

Since I've already fumbled a comment on toasts this weekend, I will carefully say that the trend in toasts to small papers does allow for a varied succession of speakers. It would be interesting to hold a symposium of toast-length papers and just see how many speakers one could line up on a Saturday -- though there is probably no Guinness record for Sherlockian symposiums.

A bit of reader's theater with David Harnois and Charles Prepolec doing "How Watson Learned the Trick" fit the bill for a Zoom event perfectly enough, with Charles's perfectly coiffed moustache starring centerstage.

A little musical performance from Karen Wilson to the tune of "Modern Major General," which is perfect Victorian era material, and then we get a five minute break . . . and at normal Sherlockian events I don't get a visual reminder that I need to wash dishes after the event is over.

Jessica Schilling's toast to Josiah Amberly is delivered with such liveliness that she deserves a special call-out, despite my current reticence to speak of toasts. Her microphone betrays that she's into some form of voicework, even if it's just podcasting, and it shows. Cindy Brown notes a cello or somesuch instrument in the background in the chat, deducing she's a musician. Somebody needs to get her on a podcast. 

The Groaner Quiz by Carla Coupe and Steve Mason was the best and worst thing at any Sherlockian event, and I applaud their courage and determination in putting us through FIFTY of the most awful Canonical title based puns . . . wait, is Michael McClure talking about Violet Hunter's underwear for his toast? Well, that was a good follow-up to that quiz, for sure. They're rolling now, as Mary Alcaro tosses a "beech" pun into the intro to her Canonical reading. (Side note: From what I've seen of her name in various places, I thought Mary Alcaro was a much older person. A sign of an accomplished individual, I must deduce.)

The event is winding up with the song "In Holmes and Watson's Time" which is introduced with a "I can't remember the last time I heard this sung," when it's been so long since I've been in NYC that they were singing it when I was there last.

And we get a link to the after-party, in which Monica Schmidt will be shuttling another melee into breakout rooms after the initial mass gathering. Her skill at swiftly converting people to co-hosts to move into breakout rooms has become much admired after the afternoon breakouts at "Lost in New York."

The thing about breakout rooms, unless there's some celebrated individual that you want to hear discourse, the larger ones are just not as much fun. Six or eight folks without that sort of conversation dominator one drifts away from at a live cocktail party is usually ideal, and gives you the chance to meet someone new, catch up with someone you haven't seen in a while . . . a bit like you would do at a live function. With Zoom breakouts you have to have a little luck since there isn't the potential for so many combinations of conversation groups -- you have as many as you have, and can't grow smaller or larger as needed, breaking off from a larger group with a subgroup, etc.

Tonight, though, it seemed to work out pretty well for the little group I wound up with, and at one point we even started cobbling together a Sherlock Holmes mystery involving grocery stores and long haul truckers (which might, admittedly, need converted to markets and wagon drivers of the Victorian period to not go full-on Elementary, though, now that I think about it, it is totally an Elementary pastiche waiting to happen).

In any case, the weekend just gets better and better, and we definitely have some real heroes managing our shared Zoom environments to make all these things happen. Let us not forget them when this time is over -- though somehow, I think they will still be leading an online side of our community that crosses boundaries that used to hinder us before we were forced to overcome them. 

There's a lesson there, I think.


  1. Thanks, A lovely time was had by all. I was in the McSorley's Breakout room and it was very like hanging at a good bar or pub, without having to yell over the noise of a packed house. Lots of individual sharing and good camaraderie.

  2. My dear sir .. I was only checking out ISO value and focus! I know that's a film-sy excuse ... would you believe I was just checking to be certain that I wasn't tongue-tied? Thanks for listening so closely ... the "brief" toast concerned Violet's brand new undies ... truly unsharted territory!