Sunday, August 15, 2021

Let's talk about Llamageddon . . .

Let's talk about Llamageddon, because we don't want to talk about Afghanistan.

Both are topics that come to Sherlockian minds because of a mistake. One was a teeny-tiny mistake by the writer of "The Adventure of the Empty House," and a teeny-tiny "llamageddon" of literary confusion. The other is an astronomically larger mistake, made by three world powers over centuries, and for a great many citizens of that place, an ongoing armageddon, if a "final battle" can be ongoing.

Our Sherlockian llamageddon is a conflict of sense and nonsense.

Sherlock Holmes returns from three years abroad and report, "I amused myself by visiting Lhassa and spending some days with the head Llama." The side of us that is no-nonsense knows that Sherlock Holmes said the word "lama" and it was simply transcribed incorrectly by his biographer, who confused the South American farm animal with a Tibetan holy man.

Ironically, less than a decade later in 1904, the British would invade and capture Lhassa. No llamas were harmed during that invasion.

But sometime in 1891-1893, Sherlock Holmes spent a few days hanging out with the 13th Dalia Lama, who was around the age a modern lad would be learning to drive, sixteen or seventeen. And by all indications, a bright fellow and one who believed in change -- just the sort who would love spending a few days talking to Mr. Sherlock Holmes. It's really impossible to say, though, because Llassa of the 1890s is something most of us don't have good info on.

I have three books on Tibet and Lhassa, but they're all definitely from a colonizer's perspective and old enough to have a bit of racist slang in spots. History is a very tricky thing, as it is so often recorded from the perspective of a single culture.

Sooooo, Llamageddon! An incredibly low-budget movie full of non-actors who happened to have access to at least one llama and enough proficiency with special effects to make his eyes glow and shoot death-beams while the llama basically acts like a llama, which is rather just calmly walking around. What does this have to do with Sherlock Holmes?

Well, we've seen Sherlock Holmes in a movie with dinosaurs, which aren't in the Canon at all. But there is a head llama in the Canon, and one could reasonably adapt that fact into a mystery involved a glowing-eyed space llama with more fidelity than Asylum Films and its robotic kraken. Ridiculous, you say?

These days, the occasional moment of the ridiculous is a welcome respite. Sherlock Holmes and llamas seems like it might be a good thing, if anybody wants to make another llama movie. They seem pretty cooperative.

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