Sunday, February 28, 2021

Fans versus diversity

There's a thing about the follows I've chosen on Twitter and the way the site's algorithm feeds me tweets: Time after time I see a huge social media backlash to something I don't ever see, or can even identify the source of. This week, it all swirled around something someone somewhere wrote about the casting of Royce Pierreson in the new Netflix show The Irregulars, coming this month, as well as the Baker Street Irregulars themselves.

Apparently that someone somewhere prefers their Watsons, their Irregulars, and probably all of Victorian Britain as white and predominantly male. And they defend that stance with "it's historical," not factoring in that the history books were written for the most part, by white guys, and we live in an age where a lot of folks are just figuring that out. It to HBO's The Watchmen for a large share of America to learn of the horrific Tulsa race massacre, an event that should have been in every history book, so it's not surprising that folks of varying non-white skin tones are starting to slip into our Sherlockian fictions as well.

We've got a lot of catching up to do.

And in Sherlockiana, what might be the oldest fandom outside of those that became religions, we've definitely got catching up to do. Because fandoms might be the worst at accepting change, simply because of the basic premise of fandom itself.

I enjoyed this thing. I enjoyed it so much I want to repeat the experience. And I want to enjoy it as much as I did that first time. And for many fans, fandom becomes ritual: In order to enjoy that thing as much as I did then, it must be exactly as it was then. It's a very primitive, superstitious instinct that we apply to a lot of things: Pizza. Sports. Coffee. You name it, there's someone out there that it insists the only way to do it is the way they enjoyed it most. My old friend Bob had that mindset about eating chili, of all things.

Fans can be the biggest picky eaters in the world, metaphorically wanting chicken strips and french fries at every restaurant they go to. Ironically, fans can also be inspired by that thing they love to be the chef in the kitchen and try to mix new flavors and create new recipes for cooking their chicken and potatoes, discovering ways to eat them that they end up loving better than breaded chicken white meat and deep-fried bars of potato.

But nobody can dig their heels in deeper than a fan, fighting for something they love specifically the way they love it. Sherlockiana has had those issues since its early days, when the Baker Street Irregulars supposedly threw Rex Stout into the snow outside for merely suggesting that John Watson was female. And that act being played as the grandest jest for decades to come -- and said club wouldn't allow female fans to attend their meetings until the 1990s, so the misogyny pretty much fit their rituals of the Game.

But the bigger trend we've always seen in Sherlockiana has also always been "Sherlock Holmes is like me." Golfers wrote essays about Sherlock as a golfer. Members of any given religion would try to show that he was of a similar mindset. And those takes were accepted. So why can't we just open it up and let Sherlock Holmes be like everyone? Sherlock Holmes can be the black detective hero for a black Sherlockian. Sherlock Holmes can be a trans detective hero for a trans Sherlockian. Sherlock Holmes can be a fashionista detective hero to a fashionista Sherlockian. And none of those things hurt anyone's love of Jeremy Brett in Jeremy Brett's TV show.

Sherlock Holmes is . . . and I hate to say this, due to my own Sherlockian leanings . . . a fictional character. Holmes was many things, even in Conan Doyle's original writings, and Sherlock will be many, many more by the time the rest of the writers in the world are done with the character. Every new incarnation not only gives us a new way to look at Holmes, but also the chance to bring others in and see something of what we love in this special human.

I really love the fact that I've seen more reposts and agreement with @_TheAntiChris 's original post on the topic than I've seen anyone disagreeing with it. Sherlockiana is moving in the right direction. Some of us have just got to get over a few of the classic foibles of fandom first.

We'll always have chicken strips. Let people have coq au vin.

Friday, February 26, 2021

That height thing

 It's funny the things that tweak your Sherlock Holmes triggers.

Overly handsome Holmes? Never had a problem with it. Henry Cavill followed in Roger Moore's footsteps, who followed in . . . well, let's not debate handsome, as I know there are plenty of folk who find Brett or Cumberbatch so, even thought they're more character actor than traditional leading man in the superficial beauty department. (And I probably shouldn't even say that.)

Holmes of a different race or gender? No problem there, just get that personality right. Miss Sherlock was a marvelous proof of that.

But there's just this one thing . . . well, two things, but we'll get to the second soon enough.

Something about a Sherlock Holmes who is noticeably shorter than Watson just bugs me somehow. Robert Downey Jr. really stood out in that area. Sure, he looked like Tony Stark a little too much, but it was always the fact that he was shorter than Watson that just seemed odd to me.

Is it because Holmes's biographer looked up to him, as do we, which makes you think "tall" for some deep reasoning of the human brain? Or the Canonical "rather over six feet and so excessively lean that he seemed to be considerably taller" that Watson gives us so specifically?

I don't know, but when I saw the photo from the Netflix's The Irregulars, their Sherlock looked short and I went, sadly, "Oh . . ."

Looking up the actor on IMDB, however, I found that Henry Lloyd-Hughes was listed as six foot one, so not so short . . . except his Watson, Royce Pierreson is six foot three. He just has a tall Watson.

Hmm, tall Watsons . . . perhaps as we raise Watson in our esteem after escaping the Nigel Bruce years, he gets to be taller now. Seems fair.

For now, I won't get into my second trigger of an instinctive "not my Holmes," but it's nice to see that our next one fits Canon, even if that wasn't what I first thought.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Watson's favorite author

 John H. Watson doesn't tell us too much of himself in his chronicles of Sherlock Holmes. Favorite foods? No. Details of his marriage or possible offspring? No. What his club was? No.

But he does tell us of one stormy evening when he's enjoying a nautical novel by William Clark Russell, indicating that he's read more than one by calling it "one of Clark Russell's fine sea stories." Watson doesn't tell us about reading any other authors, but we know he likes Clark Russell and his tales of the sea.

Clark Russell himself was less than ten years older than Watson, the son of British composer. The author was born on Broadway in America and went to private school in England where he got to be friends with the son of Charles Dickens. But here's where it gets weird.

Looking for a life of adventure, as all boys imagine, Clark Russell joined the Merchant Navy at the tender age of thirteen. Thirteen. Headed for the worst summer camp ever, where Clark Russell stayed for the next eight years, his health, as Watson would later write about himself "irretrievably ruined." And like Watson, that health-ruining experience would set off his entire career as an author. Those eight years gave Russell the raw material for the rest of his life of writing.

He got married a few years later and started having kids, but it would be a good ten years after he left his service as a seaman before he would start writing sea stories. He worked as a journalist and an editor, writing novels for women under female pseudonyms, thinking stories of life at sea could not compete with writers like Herman Melville. 

Having gotten a good bit of writing experience and building up some steam before his second sea novel, The Wreck of the Grosvenor, became his breakout hit. (Russell's seems to have liked shipwrecks as the best way to get drama in his sea story plots.) The Wreck of the Grosvenor was initially published anonymously and was most popular in America, which was big on -- ironically -- pirating books back then.

My favorite Clark Russell novel, The Frozen Pirate, came soon after in 1877, and I favor it strongly as the book Watson was reading in "Five Orange Pips," especially considering that in some universes Watson's ancestors have to deal with frozen Sherlocks, including one that Watson helped put into that state. (Possibly getting the idea from The Frozen Pirate? Very well could be!)

Russell lived until his late sixties, but pushed out nearly a hundred books in his lifetime, so Watson naturally had to admire him not just for his novels, but for his productivity as an author, as well. And I'd be very curious about when their paths might have crossed -- something that might make a nice little pastiche. 

Maybe that's for Clark Russell's next birthday, though. For this one, his spirit just has to settle for a hearty "Happy Birthday!" from fans of his fan.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

And now, a rant about "mouse"

 Tonight, I hit a real crisis of Sherlockian faith.

Dressing gowns again. Earlier, you may recall, I worried that Sherlock Holmes was some sort of trophy-collecting serial killer because he had a gray dressing gown and the man he might have killed, Grimesby Roylott, had a gray dressing gown on when he was killed. But I was wrong.

Sherlock Holmes did not own a gray dressing gown.

He owned a mouse dressing gown.

An in looking into that color called "mouse," I discovered tonight that it is truly a pale taupe, a mix of brown and gray that often gets mixed up for one or the other of those colors.

But the BSI necktie is purple, blue, and gray. Bill Mason's monograph Deeper Shades: The Dressing Gowns of Sherlock Holmes and the Psychology of Color spends much time on the meaning of that dressing gown being gray. The rubber mouse that I have for no good reason is gray.

And now I find that the color in "mouse-coloured" is actually taupe?

TAUPE? Rhymes with "soap?" And "nope?" And, also . . . "dope?"

That's very close to the sombre grayish beige dress that Mary Morstan wore when Watson first was crushing on her. Did Watson buy Holmes this taupe monstrosity of a dressing gown because he was into taupe?

Light taupe is an awful color for a dressing gown, especially Sherlock Holmes's dressing gown, sure to show stains from whatever chemical experiment he was working on. (And don't tell me he was too tidy to spill -- remember his hands when Watson first saw them? "Discoloured with strong acids." If he's doing that to his hands, his clothes aren't getting special treatment.)

I liked gray. Gray was the color of Holmes's eyes and who doesn't want a dressing gown to match their eyes? And Watson could wear the purple dressing gown and they'd color-coordinate. Gray was fine. Gray was great. I liked gray.

A light taupe dressing gown. What a fool I have been.

The Sherlockian world as I knew it is upended. I just can't believe in anything any more.

Monday, February 15, 2021

Sherlock Holmes, serial killer?

 This evening I was doing some innocent chronology work when I stumbled upon glimpses of a nightmare. The passage that spawned said vision was written by Watson with these words:

"Beside this table, on a wooden chair, sat Dr. Grimesby Roylott clad in a long, grey dressing-gown, his bare ankle protruding beneath, and his feet thrust into red heelless Turkish slippers."

That's the corpse of Dr. Grimesby Roylott we're looking at in that sentence, a man who was alive shortly before, yet is now dead due to the actions of one Sherlock Holmes. Yes, yes, Holmes was just defending himself from a deadly snake, one might argue -- but wouldn't your instinct be to knock in from the bell-pull and kill the thing with whatever you have on hand? And with what controlled force would one have to lightly whip a snake on a rope just enough to convince it to slither backwards whence it came. Was it ever even on that bell pull? Watson doesn't see anything but Holmes going through the motions of beating at the air.

Now, it might seem rather a stretch to accuse Sherlock Holmes of purposefully murdering Grimesby Roylott with his own swamp adder. One wants a motive, and he has none. Without motive, Sherlock Holmes would have to be someone who just kills for pleasure, like a serial killer. And what else do serial killers like to do to remember the joy of a kill? They like to take trophies. And Sherlock Holmes didn't take any trophies, of course.

Well, of course not . . .

Except what color was that dressing gown we see more often than the others? Mouse was it? Some shade of gray, right?

And that tobacco holder of his, what was that again? A Persian slipper?

Yeah, for the lover of iconic Holmes possessions, that corpse of Grimesby Roylott is a lot creepier than most corpses when one considers the details. Normally we read "Speckled Band" so early in the Canon that we forget those two bits of Roylott's by the time we see them again. 

The main argument for Holmes's innocence is that John Watson would surely recognize those two things he'd seen on a corpse, leaving an impression strong enough for him to write about later . . . unless that was exactly the reason he did write about them later, to send a cry for help that Scotland Yard readers of The Strand would definitely not pick up on. T'would be a same if no one noticed it for over a hundred years.

Are any other pieces of Holmes's life things we also find at the murder scenes he went to "solve?" Or are the ones we see from moments that followed a story like "Five Orange Pips" or "Greek Interpreter," moments no one but Holmes and his victims got to see.

Suddenly, I have questions. Dark, dark questions.

A Mount Everest of pastiche

 There is more going on in the Sherlockian world today than ever before, and like Ferris Bueller said, "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."

As someone who lost enthusiasm for reading pastiches long ago, I don't stop to take notice of too many these days, as they seem to be flowing around us in an endless river. When a friend writes one, or an author I'm already fond of goes for it, I'll dip a paw into the river and swoop up a literary salmon, being an old bear about such things. But in general I don't stop and take notice of most of it.

But last night I was fishing around for Watson podcast news and starting looking over the MX Publishing website, at which point I realized that The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories is on its twenty-first volume. And I'm not even sure if some of those have multiple books in them. In any case, that is a whole lot of books, something you could start collecting at this point and take some time gathering them all up and finding a shelf or two to put them on.

One could get into all the writers MX has had in that series, or that they help Undershaw, but it's almost like the Grand Canyon at this point -- you first have to just stop staring at the sheer massive wonder of the thing. It's almost like it's out there just challenging you to read the whole thing, like climbing Mount Everest for a reader. I mean, once I challenged myself to read all of Three Patch Podcast's fic recs for a single episode, and while that was a bit of a climb, I didn't think I'd die before making it all the way through. Looking at a twenty-one volume set starts giving you those kind of thoughts.

While the BSI Press has many more books under its belt at this point, their Manuscript series is still in its teens. And with many a page taken up by manuscript reproductions, it makes for a collecting/reading challenge as well, but The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories is still a lot more daunting. 

For me, stumbling into the current state of the series was a little like seeing that little toddler nephew of a friend who grew to be a massive adult at some point when you weren't paying attention. One can't help but be taken aback, and taken aback so much that I stopped working on my Sunday night podcast and had to blog about it.

Congratulations to David Marcum and everyone at MX for pulling that off, and here's hoping it goes for many years to come.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Mycroft's plan

 I always enjoy listening to fresh thoughts on our friend Sherlock Holmes and his cases, and this morning's listen to the Highly Improbable podcast commenting on "Noble Bachelor" was very rewarding, especially on the point of a certain Sherlock Holmes quote. The podcast hosts calling it out for its oddity to a modern ear made me ponder it, and that pondering took me somewhere I don't think I had been before.

"I am one of those who believe that the folly of a monarch and the blundering of a minister in far-gone years will not prevent our children from being some day citizens of the same world-wide country under a flag which shall be a quartering of the Union Jack with the Stars and Stripes."

It's far too easy to focus on the flag imagery in that statement and overlook the rest. I've made one of those flags before. It's a fun little craft.

But let's get down to the meat of it: "world-wide country."

One Earth. One country. And a UK/US union ruling it all, apparently, given that choice of flag.

United Federation of Planets, this ain't.

There are some other curious parts to this statement as well: "I am one of those . . ."

It isn't just some idea Sherlock Holmes came up with. There are others thinking about this notion, apparently, which our history books don't tell us of. Where this all gets particularly interesting is when you combine Sherlock's statement with his later words about his brother Mycroft: "You are right in thinking that he is under the British government. You would also be right in a sense if you said that occasionally he is the British government."

Sherlock Holmes wasn't someone who cared much for politics. Watson listed his original thoughts on Holmes's political knowledge as "feeble." But he did grow up next to a man who was very interested in politics and how the government should work. So where do you think this idea of UK/US global domination might have come from?

"One of those," he says. Is he just taking some boyhood fantasy of his brother's and pretending it is more widespread than it actually was? Or is he actually talking about a quiet movement to encourage such a future?

Sherlock's quote also has "the folly of a monarch and the blundering of a minister in far-gone years" as the thing that will possibly prevent such a future, and we assume "far-gone" to mean the past. But "far gone" just does not mean the past. It also means "a bad and worsening state." What if he's speaking of the folly of having a monarch in the future, or the blundering of too much power in a future prime minister? Like either of those could cause problems for this global plan?

Mycroft Holmes remains largely a mystery to us, with ties to things in the Sherlockian Canon as subtle and unknown as Professor Moriarty's works. But I can't help but think he's definitely behind this particular statement of his brother Sherlock's in "The Noble Bachelor."

How great were Mycroft Holmes's secret ambitions? Did such ideas pass with youth, or were they quietly being worked at throughout his career? That mystery, as large as the man himself, remains.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Sherlock Holmes gives someone a Valentine

 February 13 is a good day to create a Sherlockian Valentine’s Day, I think. We made it Watsonian Valentine's Day at the John H. Watson Society meeting for today, and shared valentines for John Watson. But today worked especially well because the number 13 is important to the one time a Sherlock Holmes actually gave someone a Valentine, which I was sure to point out today, as follows.

The scene is 13 Caulfield Gardens, in West London, a flat-faced row house with roof over the doorway supported by a couple of columns. It’s the kind of neighborhood that has children’s parties in the evening, and the residents are very used to the underground rumbling along behind their houses now and then.

In the study in this house, Sherlock Holmes, John Watson, Mycroft Holmes, and G. Lestrade are all seated, waiting for a very special visitor. A knock comes on the front door, Sherlock Holmes lets the new arrival in, and all is good until their visitor sees the other three men in the study, at which point Sherlock Holmes has to grab him by the collar and throw him into the room.

In that act, that simple act of throwing a man bodily into a room, Sherlock Holmes is literally giving his brother, his room-mate, and his favorite Scotland Yard inspector a Valentine.

Sure, it’s the handsome Colonel Valentine Walter, a delicate featured man with a long light beard, a broad brimmed hat, but Holmes whistles at the sight of him.

“You can write me down an ass this time, Watson,” Holmes says. “This was not the bird I was looking for.”

Sherlock Holmes says he was expecting something with wings.  And why not? Why shouldn’t a Valentine look more like a cupid, with wings and a bow and arrow.

So February 13th for Sherlockian/Watsonian Valentine's Day? I think so.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Valentines for our dear John

 A call went out for the next Zoom meeting of the John H. Watson Society for folks to bring their valentines to the good doctor at Saturday's meeting, and I'm curious as to what that will bring. A lot of us in America were used to the old grade school routine of buying the variety pack of little cards of featuring some cartoon characters and scrawling classmate names on the little envelopes, but how many of us have actually created a valentine, be it poem, art, craft, or just lovely sentiment?

John Watson deserves our valentines, if anyone does, since he had to take a bullet wound to see any sort of affection from his closest companion. And our love for that good friend and his chronicles certainly makes him deserving in our eyes. But with only a few days left until that Saturday Zoom, I still haven't gotten my act together to produce a proper valentine, due to several job-related distractions this week. But February 13 is coming, and even though Watson might forgive me for not getting him flowers or a card, I will certainly feel pretty guilty showing up at the JHWS meet empty-handed. 

(Not saying, of course, that anyone else has to have a valentine to attend -- our meetings are open to all comers. You can email for the zoom invitation.)

But what suits Watson best? A man of words, so poetry? A man who liked to describe the attractive client, male or female, so something of visual beauty? A man who didn't get enough chocolates, so . . . well, I might feel bad eating Watson's chocolates for him, being a sort of Santa-and-cookies situation.

Perhaps Watson would like a valentine from some character in the Canon he admired. There were a couple I know that he was sad never to hear from again. Or it might be fun to construct a hypothetical valentine from a particular moment in the Canon -- one is tempted to write Holmes's card to Moriarty from 1891 when he "inconvenienced" the professor around Valentine's Day in mid-February, but that wouldn't be for Watson. Moriarty deserves no cards.

The John H. Watson Society meeting will be a show-and-tell for Watson's valentines, so I guess it's time to dig out the red paper and paper doilies. Little Tonga-Cupids probably might be too much, or just weirdly inappropriate, even though he was a bow-and-arrow kinda guy. Who knows?

But I'd better get to work now, in all the senses of that phrase. Happy VD prep! (Apologies to anyone with actual VD for that line. Take care of yourself, and take care in spreading your Valentine's Day cheer! Even John might have had it once, according to some Sherlockians.)

Monday, February 8, 2021

The dear old ruddy-faced woman

"You're letting him . . . kill Martha . . ."  

"What does that mean? Why did you say that name?"

A couple of silly lines from a very silly movie where that single first name changes everything. In Sherlockiana, that name has not had nearly so much impact. In fact, it's the name of one of the few characters in the Sherlockian Canon that people seem to actively want to erase.

A woman, seen through a window with a lamp beside her on a table. "A dear old ruddy-faced woman in a country cap." She knits and pets the cat  on the stool next to her.

"She might almost personify Britannia," the villain's friend says, thinking it an insult to the country they're working against. Not knowing the very real irony in his words.

Eventually she's curtseying and smiling at Sherlock Holmes, who expresses his utmost confidence in her, a very rare thing for a man who started his career with an admitted distrust of those of her gender. She's his agent, reporting to him the next day at Claridge's Hotel in London, a five star hotel in Mayfair. It's a hotel so nice, so tied to royalty and artistocrats, that we seldom, if ever, hear of Sherlock Holmes fans staying there, even though it still exists.

No common servant is going to be reporting to Sherlock Holmes at Claridge's.

She is something of a mystery, Holmes's Martha, and, ironically, some Sherlockians seem to hate mysteries. They cast Holmes's landlady, Mrs. Hudson, as the skilled spy, or the singing star Irene Adler, which is a sort of "Martha erasure." Hudson and Adler were remarkable women, but don't we have room in Holmes's life for a third remarkable woman?

Yes, yes, there were more than three total -- not forgetting Kitty, Maud, Mary, the good Violet, etc. But this Martha . . . this intriguing, mysterious Martha whom a cat respects as a friend . . . Martha is something special and never seems to quite get her due.

"So long as you were here I was easy in my mind," Sherlock Holmes says of her. He's not worried about her. He trusts her skills, even when circumstances have him waiting overlong for her signal. She knows Holmes's plans -- really think about that -- she knows Sherlock Holmes's plans ahead of time. No one ever gets to know Sherlock Holmes's plans ahead of time. But Martha does.

She is called an "old lady" by Watson, but Sherlock Holmes is sixty and looking like Uncle Sam at this point, and we always suspect Watson of being older still. Martha seems to be a contemporary of the two. And it's been many years since their comfortable partnership in Baker Street. The tale of how Martha came to be working for Sherlock Holmes, gaining his trust, is one of the great untold tales of the Canon. How many years was that trust being built? Was she around for the Watson era, unwritten of for her infiltration skills in service to Holmes, if Watson even knew of her?

Trying to trim dear Martha with a Mrs. Hudson or Irene Adler shaped cookie cutter leaves a lot of good dough left over, and we have to be careful with such trimming.

We may not know what Martha means, but we certainly know why a Sherlockian might say that name. Martha is definitely a character worth returning to, and a woman who is fascinating all by herself.

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Erratum Moriartium, or yet another rise and fall


So, at the beginning of 2020 I was doing a little cleaning, looking at the filed of letters and other tidbits from my Sherlockian past, and thought, "I should gather all this info and do a book on the Sherlockian eighties." The pandemic hit, time at home became the standard lifestyle, and it seemed like the time was right, especially with the occasional mandatory furlough week from work during the roughest spots. 

I sorted all the paper ephemera into ten piles by year, 1980 to 1989, and as I did, realized that the 1980s was such a decade of Sherlockian amazement that my resources, while hefty, could not fully do justice to a full history of that decade and Sherlock Holmes. There was so much that happened in that decade that I didn't come close to getting the full story of, nor know proper details of. But I had my story, and curiously enough, my story from 1980 to 1989 had an arc. A rise and fall, if you will. Maybe not A Star is Born level, where I walk into the sea at the end, but a definite journey through the best and worst of Sherlockian fandom.

So I wrote it, got a couple of great beta readers in Paul Thomas Miller and Rob Nunn, commissioned some nice cover art from Chris Aarnes Bakkane (who does such great seventies Holmes and Watson art), and then ran it by the good Carter, who did as much caretaking of the work as I would allow her time and agreeableness to do. There was just one little last detail . . . since I was mentioning all of the aforementioned people in the acknowledgements, I didn't let any of them read it. And it was in those heightened excitement last moment of putting the book together that I apparently didn't read those acknowledgements as closely either.

And Moriarty appeared. Literally.

And extra "Moriarty" in the acknowledgements that makes no sense at all, which, when the new book arrived and I let the good Carter read with all pride and joy, she saw immediately. One more rise and fall.

Appropriate, somehow, and I can live with it. If nothing else, the Sherlockian eighties taught me that I'm far from perfect, and that's the way life goes. So, anyway, I have this new book, and you can read it if you want. Still not sure I want to let all that decade of my life out there, but too late now!

Find it at .  I promise not to go on and on about it,

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Scanning the clickbait

 If you do news searches for Sherlock Holmes related headlines, or really, are just interested in anything at all and look at a news aggregator like Google News, you know clickbait -- those lovely headlines that only exist to lure you into clicking on them in hopes of something you want. Season five of Sherlock is very popular with clickbait producers.

A second level of clickbait is the "Well, duh!" headline that directs you to an opinion piece, like "Netflix's Best New Sherlock Holmes is Lupin, Not Enola Holmes" from a site like Screen Rant. They like Netflix's Lupin right now, and also have a headline "Lupin: Why Sherlock Holmes Can Appear in Part 2," an example of a third level of clickbait headline -- the one that might supply a tidbit of info you didn't know, but is fairly common knowledge among longtime fans. (Yes, Lupin and Sherlock Holmes had crossovers in Lupin's original books -- but in this series, Lupin is a fictional character that the main character has based himself on, so, hmmm . . .)

Some clickbaits look at other clickbaits to create their headlines, like "New Lupin Theory Says Sherlock Holmes Could Appear in Season 2," where someone plainly had to do nothing more than scan the headlines was just creating their own clickbait based on the others out there.

There's the teaser headline that you know is just there for you to argue with if you're looking for a reason to have an argument with the air: "Sherlock, Mycroft, or Eurus: Who The Most Intelligent Holmes Sibling Is." (Not clicking it, but guessing Eurus, unless one wants to debate the meaning of "intelligent" which is something for a field more professional than Sherlockiana.)

And, of course, Hollywood gossip where the headline is all the info you need: "Robert Downey Jr. Reportedly Pushing For R-Rating On Sherlock Holmes 3." Do I care why? No. Am I worried that it might be R-rated and my parents won't let me go? Or that I can't send my under-age kids without accompanying them? It seems like you would have to be a very specific sort of Holmes/Downey fan to click on that one.

And eventually we come full circle with the other Hollywood gossip headline, the celeb opinion: "Martin Freeman Thinks Sherlock Season 5 Could Definitely Happen." Good for him, but again, do we need to read past the headline? I'm surprised those season five Sherlock clickbaits still get enough clicks to exist at this point. Is there just a handful of desperate, over-caffeined Sherlockians out there biting on that bait every single time? Or folks that just finished binging the series?

Once you wade through the clickbait, you always get local theaters putting on Holmes plays, or some feature from an actual news source, but it's a long scan. I don't know how often I would do it if I didn't check for news nuggets for the Watsonian Weekly, since it's all pretty much the same week after week. 

But it's a part of Sherlockian life that's definitely something Sherlockians of old didn't have in their quiver of activities. Ah, the internet.

Monday, February 1, 2021

A new Sherlockian paradigm?

We all know how much the world has changed in the last year, but for me at least, it's slowly sinking in how much the Sherlockian world might be changing long-term based on the changes pushed on us in the last ten months or so. (It hasn't even been a year. Astounding.) Yes, yes, Zoom meetings, we know, we know. But without actual social gatherings to delight in the company of our friends in person, a lot of energy had to find somewhere else to go.

Now, I don't want to suggest it had anything to do with the ACD Society that raised its flag this morning -- one can see the signs that it has been building up for a while now. But the much less ambitious Sherlockian Chronologist Guild? Probably wouldn't have happened without a series of pandemic-triggered events (one of which I hope to be letting the world at large know about on Friday). But it's more than that.

How many new Sherlockian friends and acquaintances have you made since we've been locked down? I know I've gotten to know more than a few new folks. And so many of those new connections have brought new opportunities for collaboration and creativity in ways that will pay off for a long time to come, I suspect. You can see it all over the place, where the human energy batteries that fully enthused Sherlockians are got plugged into something more than a local scion society or single event. 

Unlike a new Sherlock, a Brett or Cumberbatch, charging up the old hobby, the things we're seeing now seem to be "coming from inside the house," as the old horror movie trope goes. Why?

Because the more we connect as Sherlockians, the more energy each individual Sherlockian has for the thing itself, all the parts and pieces and related side interests of Sherlockiana itself. The scholarly side gets more energy. The goofy side gets more energy. The films get more consideration. And the Canon, that good old philosopher's stone of a book, gets more users tapping it for whatever magic at which they excel.

I had a lovely two hour chat over zoom on Sunday with perhaps the oldest Sherlockian friend who doesn't live in my house, and it really made me think about the opportunities we've been given by this horrific world-wide event that's knocked us out of our routines. There has been loss, there has been pain, and our lives will never be the same. But amid all that, there has been hope for better things. We've seen that things can be different, and a "different" thing can sometimes be an "improved" thing.

I have a feeling 2021 is going to be a very memorable year for Sherlockians. In a good way, too.