Monday, January 31, 2022

My non-Sherlockian Sherlockian group

I like Sherlockians. I really do. I enjoyed the heck out of spending six hours with some great Sherlockian folk on Zoom earlier this month, so much I did another six hours the next day. Sherlockians are cool.

So why don't I want them in my local Sherlock Holmes library discussion group?

This question came up tonight when a (I have to suppose) well-meaning sort decided to post the details of our Peoria discussion group on one of the oldest internet forums, having called some head librarian and asked if anyone anywhere could join the Zoom. The fact that I might have strongly suggested earlier that this person not do that thing did not really seem to enter their head.

Our local group only went to Zoom due to the necessities of the pandemic, and unlike some scion societies, we didn't start trying to attract folks from all over to grow participation. Like I said, Zoom was just a band-aid until we got back to being at the library. Temporary.

Our meetings are only usually an hour, and that is about enough time for eight to ten people to all get their opinions out on a short story. Just introducing all the people on some of those growing Zoom scion meetings takes a half hour. But it's more than that.

I've written about our local group quite a few times in this blog, because they always inspire me to new ideas and new points of view on Watson's writings . . . and this is the important part . . . because they are usually coming to the stories fresh. They haven't read them a dozen times, don't have heads full of the old tropes, and aren't anywhere close to the Sherlockian takes I've heard in the past. I feel like I've discovered the stories anew in some ways after meeting with the local group. And now, after someone decided to post about our little local discussion group, it feels a lot like someone put a sign beside the highway directing folks to that pristine secret spring that only you knew about. And I'm finding myself getting all the Gollum feelings. "MY PRECIOUS! MINE!"

But, hey, public library. What are you gonna do? They like being public. And Zoom makes it very public.

One day, I hope, we'll return to our meeting room and get rid of the Zoom issues. It's not like we're eating in a restaurant, we can still wear our masks. Honestly, our little library group discusses the Holmes stories way more than our original local scion society did, where the rituals and banquets and other fun often were just a welcome social evening more than an appreciation of the Canon. Everything has its place.

And our own passion for our hobby can take us to darker, selfish places sometimes, as came along in my Gollum moment this evening. We can be jealous, hold grudges, and have all sorts of non-warm-and-welcome reactions in our little hobby, as in any fandom. But we try to move on, maybe forgive if we can, maybe not be our worst selves around our best hobby ALL the time. After forty years in this silly business of Sherlockian pleasure, I have definitely learned that.

"We can but try." Especially when times are trying us, as is pretty much the case with most of life right now. 

Sunday, January 30, 2022

The Adventure of the Three Krisciunases

"The Adventure of the Three Krisciunases"

A guest blog by Talon King

It was n the first week of January in 2022 when the great Victorian documentary film expert, Mr. Paul Thomas Miller, agreed it was time for me to summon up the assistance of our own "irregulars" to solve the ever growing mystery of Watson's long-hidden documentary footage. I made a call and heard the clumsy footsteps on the stair of Braggins, my useful ally of the Sherlockian streets.

"Gather irregulars for us!" I cried. "Miller and I have riddles to solve!"

I tossed him a quarter, as shillings are had to come by in Peoria, Illinois, and he ran off to his laptop, to gather a group he called "The Sherlock Holmes Realist Society," whom he claimed were hand-selected, each for their particular expertise. "Do I need to give them each a quarter?" I asked.

"No," he replied. "They mostly want to get into the Legion of Zoom, and they need one more scion society meeting. Except Rich Krisciunas. He'll come to anything."

When that Saturday came, Braggins was as good as his word and the recruited Sherlock Holmes Realist Society all lined up upon my screen.

The final count was seven of these "irregulars," and, strangely, three were named Rich Krisciunas.

Early on, before the noon Peoria time start of the meeting, we just had the one Rich Krisciunas, who got into a discussion of weather with Paul and demonstrated how the state of Michigan was his hand and where on his hand he lived. Val Hoski joined in as a fellow Michigander who got "out of hand" and moved away, yet somehow attended the same high school as Rich, which was our first clue that things are just a bit more unusual when Mr. Krisciunas comes around.

Mr. Greg Ruby, who it is said knows all of the Sherlock Holmes internet and watches over it like that Heimdall fella in the Thor movies, came along after that, and then Howard Ostrom. I put on my deerstalker cap for Mr. Ostrom, as I have heard that he likes pictures of people in deerstalker caps, and I have heard of much stranger kinks, let me tell you, so it seemed a small enough thing to oblige him. 

Then the funny stuff started when a second Rich Krisciunas showed up with his video blacked out. We were all very curious, thinking it might have been someone with ill intent, like "Killer" Evans of the multiple funny name folk story. 

Opening up the "Sherlock Holmes is Real" podcast to a larger group always had dangers, as Paul and I knew. Dark rumors swirled about the governmental and corporate entities what wanted to keep Watson's documentary footage from serious analysis. And the first meeting of the Sherlock Holmes Realist Society, a new group carrying forward their mission of analyzing Watson's authentic Victorian documentary footage, was bound to attract some who might not be what they appeared.

Was this second Rich Krisciumas secretly from the BBC?

No, it was just Michael Ellis, who has the style and class of a network commentator, but was familiar to many a Zoomster. We kept on with our work.

Thie meeting's footage was that which can be found on YouTube as "The Case of the Jolly Hangman," and the addition of the SHRS to the discussion definitely yielded new insights. Ever wonder the origin story of "Martha" in "His Last Bow?" Want to see a perfect example of how limited Victorian England's gene pool actually was demonstrated in Lestrade's family tree? Hear Watson's early foley work? We had it all.

And then a third Rich Krisciunas appeared in the waiting room.

We might have had it all, but even when you have it all, you can get extras. And a mystery like that is an extra all its own. But why did we have three Krisciunases? And no Sherlock Holmes among us to solve this Canonically parallel conundrum?

Well, unlike life at 221B Baker Street, sometimes our own mysteries just get solved by the cause of that mystery explaining himself. In this case, the culprit unmasked was . . . well, who else?

Rich Krisciunas.

He had apparently been at a Zoom meeting in the hour previous and handing out his registration link to interested parties. Mystery solved.

The results of January's analysis of Watson footage can be found at on Apple Podcasts, and the like, and also at , and I think it is good progress in our quest to spread awareness of Watson's documentary films. I might even have to get a little more respectable and trim my hair and shave my beard. (Keeping a moustache though. A man can't give up all his charms.)

Hoping to see you in February!

               -- Talon King

Monday, January 24, 2022

What are the Baker Street Irregulars?

With another January weekend come and gone, the hootin' and a 'hollerin' over with for another year, I always stop and think about what just happened on a certain night. Was it the Sherlockian equivalent of an annual awards show? Was it a private social event with a sort of fandom glamour cast on it? Was it an incorporated entity's annual retreat?

One might say, "It is what it is, leave it alone lest you kill the magic by staring at it too hard!" And one especially doesn't want to ruin the buzz of the newly awarded Baker Street Irregulars. Or the folks that cherish that moment where they got awarded their Baker Street shilling. But when we let fears stop our ability to improve upon what might be a flawed system, it's . . . well, it's what we humans do.

A long time ago, Christopher Morley invited some friends to a private party. Cool. We all do that.

And then that party grew, got out of Morley's control, and morphed into something else. It became the center of Sherlock Holmes fandom in America. Sherlockians were a rare breed, and travel to New York City wasn't something everyone could do,  A Sherlockian could go, "Hey, can I bring a friend?" The Baker Street Journal served as a central news source for anything coming out in the hobby, and folks seemed to be having fun with it.

Not saying they aren't now, of course. Sherlockians have fun. It's what we do.

Except when people get a little too serious about things. And Sherlockiana got a little wave of seriousness at some point. Maybe it was when The Baker Street Journal started getting published by a college press, and a few folks started seeing it as something like a medical journal or an academic journal. And around the same time, it started getting a lot harder to get invited to the annual dinner of the Baker Street Irregulars. Of course, that culture of scarcity might even go back to when Baring-Gould's Annotated outed the Baker Street Irregulars as the Sherlockian group, the Irene Adler of Sherlockian societies.

Hard to say. But the party stayed invitation-only, with a host who makes the ultimate decision of who gets invited and who gets awarded, and that's the one flaw in this system that can start to annoy, if one sees certain folks passed over time and again due to an individual's bias, or hears too much of the backchat that we try not to think about when it's celebration time. Nobody wants to ruin the party.

Would a little more transparency, a little more equitability, a little less dictatorship in the process make it less easy to upset people whenever someone whispers "I think the emperor isn't wearing clothes?" I mean, democracy might be a little much to hope for, but if we think enough of people to make them Baker Street Irregulars, wouldn't we think enough of them to let them vote on it? Yes, yes, nominations and balloting would give away the complete shocking surprise, but since lately the folks had to be invited to the dinner and attend to get the prize, some surprise was lost anyway. There are still losers at the ceremony, the multiply-invited who never get called up. (Yes, yes, it's an honor just to be nominated/invited.) And what is it with going to the dinner anyway?

It may surprise a younger Sherlockian to learn that some Sherlockians have been inducted into the Baker Street Irregulars without ever having attended a dinner, in recognition of what they have done for the hobby. That hasn't happened for a while, as the BSI can seem a little high on itself sometimes, instead of Sherlock Holmes. Looking back at the Baker Street Irregulars that has gone before instead of looking ahead at the Baker Street Irregulars that could be.

We always know what the Baker Street Irregulars were, and the group has been a lot of different things. What they are changes from year to year. And what they will be? That is always something we wait to see, just as some of us wait to see who the newest members are every year. 

I really hope I haven't offended anyone with this little blog post, though I always seem to. Like I said, there seems to be a little fear that it's possible to kill the magic by looking too closely at the man behind the curtain or suggesting that maybe we could do better. But this isn't Oz. This is a wonderful hobby with some amazing people in it, and there's always some Sherlockian out there doing something better than what was done before, if your eyes are open to see it.

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Many happy returns!

 The return of the eighties Sherlock Holmes society, the Montague Street Incorrigibles, has been a fun little trip into clubbing to celebrate Holmes's birth month. There was no real purpose to bringing it back other than to add a little something to last Friday's virtual pub night, but now we have some lovely membership certificates, thanks to Madeline Quinones, a membership roster, and no real purpose or goal . . . for this year.

As next January approaches, I think we'll see the Incorrigibles return on Zoom and see if we can turn it into an annual affair. The night of the BSI dinner needs an online event for those who can't go to a dinner in New York, even if the alternative dinner is back next year, and the Dangling Prussian seems suitable for that. But next year is a long ways away.

So for now, the membership lists are being sealed away, no more induction rituals being performed, no more certificates being sent (unless corrections need to be made for those who were present this time). There's always next year, and we shall not speak of the one person who attended the BSI dinner and still managed to get into the Incorrigibles this year, lest it encourage other loophole inductions.

Because, frankly, I need to return to the Sherlockian Chronology Guild, the society whose newsletter does things more often than just January.  Because there is still a January newsletter to get out. And a chronology talk to give at the Crew of the Barque Lone Star meeting in a couple of weeks. And a chronology panel at 221B Con in April, which is at least three newsletters away.

The post-January-festivities Sherlockian road is always back to the mines of the Canon to swing that pick axe some more and hope some new nugget of value gets knocked loose, and here we are. Hope all your returnings are happy ones this month, because 2022 might just be quite the year if we get our virus issues sorted. Hope springs eternal, or "we have much to hope from flowers," or something like that.

On we go.

Saturday, January 22, 2022

The Worst Topic In Sherlockiana

 After a particular scion meeting's after-party last night, I think I've discovered what the worst discussion topic in Sherlockiana is. And I'm not blaming this particular group. Whenever this subject comes up, the conversation quickly turns into a trash fire that just isn't fun for anyone, except maybe those few remaining people. who have never, ever had the opportunity to vent their spleen on it until now.

That topic: BBC Sherlock season four.

Did that cause an immediate reaction? Did words spring to the back of your throat, just ready to come out?

Well, of course they did.

Because even if you weren't a BBC Sherlock fan who felt betrayed, even if you weren't a Jeremy Brett fan who felt any TV show should be more Canonical, even if you weren't a CBS Elementary fan who hated how that show lived in Sherlock's shadow . . . even if you actually enjoyed season four of Sherlock, the sheer amount of abuse that corner of Sherlockian media had taken is apt to trigger a response just from collateral damage.

(Side note: If you're a Sherlockian who is proud of being unaffected by anything, well, that's nice. Pride is an emotional response, too, however, so you might want to keep it to yourself, just to demonstrate how truly unaffected you are.)

We all have opinions on that one thing, except for the group mentioned in the above side note, whom I think might actually have a few members who are lying and actually do have opinions. But the thing that makes that subject different is the wild abandon that comes with expressing those opinions and the assumption that we're all on the same page there.

Let's compare it to the near-universally panned movie Holmes and Watson, which I dearly love. Fans of that show are not numerous, and we have to constantly listen to the "I didn't like it" statements when it comes up. But nobody is grabbing torches and acting like they're going to burn the negatives, trying to come up with explanations why a loving God would allow it to exist, or even being at all unkind to us, the few blessed souls who find it charming and delight-filled.

But then there's BBC Sherlock, season four, whose sins against Canon are actually objectively less egregious that CBS Elementary's full track record. Yet the fact that those three movie length episodes of Cumberbatch and Freeman were well done enough to affect viewers -- the actual quality of their production -- raises a much stronger backlash. And a really negative, bad-time-all-around backlash.

One can discuss Holmes and Watson, even with a Ferrell hater, and not have an entirely bad time. But when it comes to that season four . . . well, just better to keep silent, even if you liked Mrs. Hudson's Aston Martin or the way Eurus Holmes was a Bond villain that might have foreshadowed actual James Bond movie stuff. Because once the pile-on starts, everybody dives on, like playground mobs indulging in [Insert the frowned-upon name of what they called that on your playground here.].

It's the one subject that brings both Cumberbatch fans and Brett fans together with Miller fans, Canon fans, grumpy folks that just need to bitch about something to ease general life frustrations . . . it's a real mob-pleaser. But there are still a few of us out here who want to meekly raise our hand and go, "Um, I liked the part when Sherlock was a pirate on that tugboat?"

I'm starting to think we need to form a special little Sherlockian society for folks who just want to discuss Sherlock season four like it was any other thing we just took as just another season of a show we liked, with better and worse parts. Maybe one day, when the series is discovered anew by another generation who watches it for the first time, as I currently am watching the Ronald Howard series and finding ways to just take it for what it is: Someone's attempt to make the best TV show they could with what they had.

But, then, as you might have seen in yesterday's blog, Peoria already has a few too many Sherlockian societies, so adding a Eurusian club or "the Pirates of Sherriford Isle" to that list might be a bit much.

Friday, January 21, 2022

A census of the Sherlockian societies of Peoria, Illinois for 2022

 After a recent semi-scandal regarding Zoom membership applications, the topic of Peoria's numerous Sherlockian societies came up at tonight's meeting of the Harpooners of the Sea Unicorn (not a Peoria society). As the discussion went on, the number of Peoria groups just kept growing until the word "millions" was heard, and with that I felt it was probably time to address this issue in a objective and factual manner.

So let us begin.

Number One: The Hansoms of John Clayton

Founded in 1977, the Hansoms was Peoria's original Sherlockian society, which did all of the traditional scion things: Monthly meetings, a monthly newsletter called Plugs & Dottles, a journal called Wheelwrightings.

Number Two: The Montague Street Incorrigibles

Founded in 1985, the Incorrigibles was a corresponding society that met fictionally at a bar on Montague Street in 1895 (always 1895) called "The Dangling Prussian." The Incorrigibles recently hosted a pub night at the Prussian and inducted its largest membership numbers to date.

Number Three: The Reichenbachian Cliff-Divers

Also founded in 1985 in the Peoria suburbs because a foot-note citation was needed for an article in The Baker Street Journal. (Read The Rise and Fall of an Eighties Sherlockian for the full story.) Reports of the scion came out of Peoria for very many years, and is still quietly being run in the Sherlockian underground out of Peoria.

Number Four: Doylebusters!

A mid-eighties society that had a cool logo but no membership records to betray its secrets.

Number Five: The Midwest Scion of the Four

Founded in 1987 in Peoria as "a barter/shop quartet" of traveling Sherlockian shoppers, it wasn't really a Peoria group, it just got started here.

Number Six: The Dangling Prussian Amateur Press Association

Founded in 1991, the Sherlockian APA group was an idea suggested by Peter Blau and run out of Peoria.

Number Seven: The Reichenbach Lemming Society

Founded in 1994 around its deerstalkered mascot, Reichy the Lemming and run out of Peoria, this group only met in Lansing, Michigan on Memorial Day weekend in 1994 and possibly 1995.

Number Eight: The Dark Lantern League

Founded in 2002 out of Peoria, the Dark Lantern League was an internet-based Canonical role-playing society. 

Number Nine: The Sherlockian Chronologist Guild

Founded in 2021 and running a monthly Sherlockian chronology newsletter out of Peoria.

Number Ten: The Bovestrians of Ragged Shaw

Founded in 2021 with two human members and a bunch of Canonical animals, the group has had four trading cards and one recorded meeting.

Number Eleven: The Untasted Breakfast Club

Founded in 2022, this Zoom Sherlockian group meets the Saturday morning after the BSI dinner.

Is that it?

Is that every Sherlockian society out of Peoria, Illinois? 

I have to wonder. There were rumors of a dozen Sherlockian societies sponsoring the Dangling Prussian Pub Night zoom on January 14th, but it was mainly just the Montague Street Incorrigibles and the Bovestrians of Ragged Shaw. The Untasted Breakfast Club met the next morning. And Peoria groups have a very bad habit of not applying for official Baker Street Irregular scion status, so they might get an asterisk in some folks' records for that, if they even exist in anyone's records. Secret societies have to stay secret and . . . whoa . . . there could be more Peoria societies that are so secret I didn't even blog about them here. And if they secretly co-sponsored an event, well, mind blown!

I think I have a deadline for Baker Street Almanac 2022 to meet, so I will stop here before another Sherlock Holmes society pops up. As a great man once almost said: "Indeed, I cannot think why the whole population of Peoria is not one solid mass of Sherlockian societies, so prolific the creatures seem" 

Thursday, January 20, 2022

A dig at the elder Holmes brother?

 In April of 1903, Sherlock Holmes had yet to return to the pages of The Strand Magazine

Watson's agent was publishing Brigadier Gerard stories there, sure. But it would be five more months before Sherlock Holmes returned in "The Adventure of the Empty House" in the September issue. And yet, looking for something else this evening, I couldn't help but think Mycroft Holmes had made it into the Strand a few months before his more famous brother.

True, Mycroft Holmes had no Watson. He liked his Diogenes Club and spent his time there in silence. No discussions, no adventures, no reason for anyone to write about him at all. Except for maybe one thing.

"Heavily built and massive," Watson writes of Mycroft, "there was a suggestion of uncouth physical inertia in the figure, but above this unwieldy frame there was perched a head so . . . [compliment, compliment, compliment] . . . that after the first glance one forgot the gross body and remembered only the dominant mind."

Well, Watson certainly remembered that "massive" and "gross" body to mention it in his work. Another writer, who it seems might have met Watson at the Diogenes, was not nearly so kind.

"Great uneasy jelly of substance! The fattest clubman in London."

That writer? H.G. Wells.

Things were different in 1903, and not always kind to those of us with a bit more of a belly than we should have -- even though many a local strong man was not the washboard abs type back then. Still, reading H.G. Wells's April 1903 contribution to Strand Magazine, you have to go . . . Welllllsss?

"The Truth About Pyecraft" is the name of his tale, and the name being a perfect parody for an overweight clubman named Mycroft seems just a bit too close for comfort.

Wells narrates a tale of his encounter with "Pyecraft" and how, in the smoking room of their club (where perhaps Diogenes members were allowed to converse), the conversation turned to Pyecraft's weight issue and how he wished to lose weight via some form of pill or drug. The narrator, it seems, has a secret family recipe for "Loss of Weight," and Pycraft would greatly like to try it. And he does, making several attempts before getting it right.

This being H.G. Wells, of course, something fantastic must be in the air, and let's just say "losing weight" and "losing size" are not strictly the same thing if you think about it.

Was H.G. Well's "Pyecraft" a parody on Mycroft Holmes, inspired by the rumored return of Sherlock from the dead, after encountering the elder Holmes at his club? Was Wells angry with the British government at that time for some reason? He was living in southeast England at the time, so he probably wasn't running into Mycroft at his London club.

Probably just a case of another Sherlockian spotting a similar name in a place associated with Sherlock Holmes. But one does have to wonder if Wells had heard Watson go on about his friend's larger brother just one too many times at author gatherings. One never knows about that Watson.

Monday, January 17, 2022

A defense of the first Sherlockian, Helen E. Wilson

 Since Vincent Wright published his findings about Helen Elizabeth Wilson in both blog form and video, there might have been a few naysayers to the thought that Ms. Wilson was our first recorded Sherlockian, as other college magazine have turned up writings about Sherlock Holmes that pre-date her 1898 essay in the October issue of Cornell Magazine. Even Vince himself turned up one tonight from September 1897. Yet I maintain my belief that Helen Wilson was our first Sherlockian. Why?

The most recent piece from 1897 started just as an earlier bit I read had, comparing Conan Doyle's work with that of Edgar Allan Poe. Having died in 1849, Poe had attained quite the fame by the 1890s. Baudelaire's translations of Poe's work helped make him very popular in Europe (and Baudelaire wasn't even the first translator). And being an American, you know that by the time Sherlock Holmes was rising in popularity, the old Poe fanboys were gonna have none of this Doyle upstart.

"The old wheel turns, and the same spoke comes up," as Sherlock Holmes said, and that applies to fan behavior as must as creators. Thus I question the qualifications of any writer about Sherlock Holmes who is talking about Poe's detective as much as Holmes in his piece.

Turning back to Helen Wilson, do you know how many mentions of Poe are in her "The Life of Sherlock Holmes?" Not a one. And let's take it a step further: How often does Helen Wilson mention Conan Doyle?

Well, when she gets to the third page of her essay, Helen Wilson does have to admit, "But his creator, Mr. Conan Doyle, was not thoroughly consistent." One can see that she didn't really want to mention him at all, focusing on "The Life of Sherlock Holmes," as the title of her essay proclaims. But as every other devout Sherlockian scholar has had to do once they cross a certain threshold of study, Ms. Wilson has to find someone to blame for one of the obvious errors in Watson's work.

That Helen Wilson pulled in Conan Doyle as creator in that moment of need is understandable. She was young, and had all the innocence we would expect of the first Sherlockian. She had not become as old and crafty as those of us who would come later. And giving Doyle at least that passing nod probably just seemed nice. In any case, there is just something of the true Sherlockian in every bit of her work.

Let the old school Poe fanboys have their shouts of "Doyle just copied our hero!" -- Holmes had already put their detective in his place on his first outing. They should be feeling a bit testy about it. But having gotten the name "Sherlock Holmes" in print doth not a Sherlockian make.

Should we discover an earlier work than Helen Wilson's that embodies the Sherlockian spirit even more than her little essay, I shall happily accept that -- we've always been glad of more Sherlockians -- but for now, the young lady is number one in my book!

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Looking at the BSI in 2022

 Okay, now that the annual dinner is over, let's have a little honest talk about the Baker Street Irregulars.

I've had my ins and outs with the official part of the group, tending to say a few things that get the upper echelons a bit angry with me over the years. Haven't quit or gotten kicked out, but we have had our moments. My irritation with the men-only part carried on to irritation with later calls for ideal Sherlockians or Sherlockians useful to the organization, and I do have a tendency to make nerve-striking comments, as many of my past bosses will tell you. I'm kind of a social klutz, but in Sherlockiana, we have a full range of those, so I get by.

I've probably spent more time pondering America's oldest Sherlock Holmes group than anyone who wasn't running the thing (or Jon Lellenberg) and the conclusion I've finally come to is this: The Baker Street Irregulars is at its best when it's all about Sherlockians and Sherlockiana and not about the Baker Street Irregulars.

My biggest quibble with the group's traditions has alway been its membership process, which cloaked in tradition and mystery, has often been one guy deciding who gets to come to "his" party. (I have been specifically told "it's his party he gets to invite who he wants" by apologists of the tradition, so not really my words there.) You offend the one guy for whatever reason and you're out. Make nice with him and you're in. (Note the constant use of male pronouns here.) When a hobby has created its own "golden carrot" and handed that power to just one person, well, that's bound to happen.

Sherlockiana itself has always been a warm, welcoming place that likes its new folks (except maybe during odd moments with certain folk during Canon versus new TV show times). And I've always felt the flagship organization should reflect that. Whether it was allowing women in back in the 1990s, or investing members who couldn't come to New York in January, those moments of inclusion have always been its best moments.

The new members that the Baker Street Irregulars brought in this year were a breath of fresh air. The wonder that has been 221B Con was finally recognized in its leaders. The work of the great U of M collections was recognized in its curator. The Beacons, the Babes, and, God bless him, the Shaw commemorator, all represented. The Baker Street Irregulars reflecting our culture as a whole, and not just the Baker Street Irregulars, is as it was originally, and as it needs to be.

It's still a New York thing, which is probably why you won't ever see me in attendance ever again. You probably won't even see me in downtown Chicago, either. Never comfortable with those places and less so with age, let me tell you. But if the BSI ever move the dinner to a town with real parking lots, you can count me in.

I'm probably gonna tweet during the dinner though. Because, c'mon! It's 2022!

The Alternative "Dinner" 2022

 The pandemic has put us through a lot of weirdness, but one thing I never saw coming was playing host to this year's alternative event to the BSI dinner. Since the Adventuresses of Sherlock Holmes first found themselves unable to get in to the annual dinner of the Baker Street Irregulars, there has been an alternative function. First the ASH dinner, running for decades, then the Baskerville Bash, then the Gaslight Gala. And now . . .

Well, I'm not going to even pretend that our little Dangling Prussian Pub Night was on the level of any of those New York functions. We had about sixty register for the six hour event, and a top attendance at any given point of about thirty-two, I think. But it hit close to that number immediately, and those gathered were, for the most part, just comfy talking among our group with only a few folks trying out the breakout rooms.

For the first two hours we just talked. The mix of Sherlockians who have been a part of the cult for up to fifty or so years with newer folk was just about perfect, and even though the conversation occasional wandered into one of those pockets where two folks get off topic to some less room-filling concern, we always bounced back. Everyone was cordial, kind, and, best of all, interesting.

We had folks with closed video who just hung out with us, we had Sherlockians I hadn't met even on Zoom before whom I always wanted to meet, we had old friends, new friends, names you'd know, and Zoom regulars, all in our little bunker to weather the storm.

Our video presentations from Josh Harvey (music), Paul Thomas Miller (our opening number), and Mary O'Reilly (our world premiere short film) were all very cool and very well received. The induction ceremony for the Montague Street Incorrigibles was some silly "repeat after me" fun that we had to do a second time when Josh was finally able to escape rehearsals. And we shan't talk about the standup "comedy" of Professor Presbury, because you know how lame first time comics are.

We never really got to "open mic" time, because it seemed like everybody who wanted to say something pretty much got a chance in the six hours of zoom. I mean, SIX HOURS OF ZOOM. Who does that?

But amazingly, we stayed at close to thirty folks for most of it, dropping to about twenty three in the final couple hours and not much further after that. A lot of us wait and watch every year to see who the Baker Street Irregulars decide to make new members, and I think the most important part of the event was giving us someone to wait with.

It actually got to be exciting fun just to put our feelers out into the world, via social media and personal text messages to see if we could get a response from somebody. The BSI dinner has famously had edicts against attendees using their phones during the event (C'mon, folks, it's 2022!) but a few brave souls snuck out a pic or word or two and we knew of first one new Irregular, then two more, then most of the list, then Scott Monty's full official listing. And every step along the way got a very happy response, as we saw some really refreshing membership choices being made for the grand old organization. I wore my Baker Street Irregulars tie last night for the first time in decades, and the names we saw made me proud for making that choice. 

When the end of our time came, with my co-host Madeline Quinones starting to nod a little bit, I really hated to see it end. We went fifteen minutes over the planned end time of midnight EST, said our happy goodbyes, and I went to bed pleased with a worn but not worn out throat from all the chatting.

And so much appreciation for our Sherlockian community, where a sixty-four-year-old thirteen-year-old like myself can still be very silly, still learn a lot of new things, and even after all this time, just enjoy the company of some of the best folks you'd ever want to meet. Thanks to all. Seriously. Thanks.

Friday, January 14, 2022

The Untasted Breakfast Club

  Yes, there's a bit of Zoom madness to this weekend, but why not? Folks are pushing their personal envelopes for Sherlock Holmes on this weekend every year, so let's go with one more bump of the Great Detective.

Saturday morning, 9 AM Central, 10 AM Central, Apologies Pacific, and mid-afternoon London-time,  will be the first meeting of the Untasted Breakfast Club, for anyone who feels they might need to serve detention for their events the night before (and those who just want to gossip about same).

We have the technology, some of us need more checks on that Legion of Zoom meeting list, and I don't think anyone else is meeting at that time on Saturday.

No agenda, no speakers, just an open time to show up and chat, review, and maybe watch a rerun of something you missed the night before, if enough folks want it. But who knows? Sherlockian societies often evolve suddenly and without warning, so the Untasted Breakfast Club might even go somewhere else entirely.

Here's a registration link! 

(After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.)

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

The lost love of Sherlock Holmes?

 Digging through old things looking for other old things, one inevitably finds a dig-stopper, that thing that, even though you remember it, you just have to look at again. Tonight, it was, according to SHOW magazine, someone Sherlock Holmes fell "deeply in love" with, and it wasn't Irene Adler or John Watson. This was more of a Young Sherlock Holmes situation, but with a college-age young Sherlock and the poor girl didn't have to die to make him want to become a detective.

And so, we turn to Billy Wilder's The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes.

The thing is, unlike Elizabeth Hardy of Young Sherlock Holmes, we don't know exactly what this lady made Holmes become. We are told that even though actress Jenny Hanley's Private Life character "is on screen only for a very few moments, Jenny's presence lingers throughout the rest of the picture."

The only thing is, whoever that lady was whom Sherlock Holmes had such an unknown affection for, like so many other parts of The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, she wound up on the cutting room floor. IMDB doesn't even give her a Sherlockian nod, while her part as "the Irish girl" in On Her Majesty's Secret Service and "Sarah" in Scars of Dracula, along with a lot of other credits, still got her there.

There is an underlying theme of Sherlock Holmes's reticence to have a relationship in The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes that somehow starts with Jenny Hanley's character, a sex worker that some sources say he won the favors of after a college boat race. It somehow connects with his later relationship with Gabrielle Valladon, and I seem to remember a long-ago telling that it was that he always fell in love with women on the wrong side of the law. I'm sure current views of the film take a different opinion on that.

But, hey, in 1970 you could sell a magazine by touting "The Private Sex Life of Sherlock Holmes" on your cover.

Saturday, January 8, 2022

Revisiting CBS's Elementary almost a decade later

 In fall of this year, it will be ten years since Elementary debuted on CBS, and like everything else since the introduction of pandemic life, we have to go "ONLY TEN YEARS?!?"  It seems like an eternity ago.

The "Theatre-Goers, Homeward Bound," picked the first few episodes of the procedural as their Zoom watchalong this week, and I couldn't resist going back along with them. And let's be completely honest here, if you weren't reading this blog in 2012 -- I hated, hated, HATED Elementary. Hated it so much that I was utterly in disbelief that any Sherlockian actually could enjoy it. But, hey, some people like the traditional American TV procedural format, and some of them also liked Sherlock Holmes.

And this was soooooo American television.

And so much a product of its time. The first episode having a key clue that was a flip-phone being dried out in a bag of rice. The internal bits date it, but externally, it is now free of the immediate comparison with the then-recent success of BBC Sherlock. All the bits of it that were purposefully built to differentiate it from Sherlock now seem a little odd. New York, Gregson, non-military Watson, that brownstone with no address number. One now has to wonder what Elementary would have grown up like, had not its elder sibling been out there to force its path in certain directions.

Or if its creator had been a Holmes fan -- there's a popular story about his pre-debut interview with a crowd of Sherlockians that's a definite reminder he was not. But I'm falling into my old ways here. I was always enamored of the subtle ways Moffat and Gatiss showed their love of the character, and . . . well, I'll just stop there. Elementary fans have a different view.

The Elementary gap was readily apparent as Saturday's watchalong went on. Some folks bailed out early, citing that they still didn't like it. Others professed their ongoing affection for the show as the first break between episodes came along.

Every Sherlock Holmes must be accepted for what they are, not what we might hope they would be, and eventually I came to accept Jonny Lee Miller's character for the alternate universe Holmes that he was. Comparing Sherlocks to our mental version of Holmes will always bring actors playing Holmes up short. Sometimes it take a little effort to get past our little nettle-points, but time and viewing them as a part of the great history helps.

In the end, they all get added to that great list of actors who played Sherlock Holmes. So many varieties, so many stories, so many Holmeses. Don't like one, or the particular show they're in, there are others to watch. And you might even come back to some Holmes with new eyes and fresh joy at some point. Ronald Howard bored me to tears watching a couple of his adapted tales years ago and I wrote him off. Since then, I have learned better. And eventually you might get to a point where you can get past you personal irritations with a Holmes enough to listen to what about that one makes others happy.

The oddest thing I realized while rewatching Elementary this afternoon was that in disliking Elementary as much as I did, I got to know it really, really well. Maybe not as well as I now know Will Ferrell's Holmes and Watson, but . . . well, c'mon. We still have to have favorites.

Thursday, January 6, 2022

Are you a Sherlock Holmes Realist?


It's a new year and time to try a few new things. 

For the podcast "Sherlock Holmes is Real," this means following the example of Sherlock Holmes and recruiting its own "irregulars." After thirteen episodes of hosts Talon King and Paul Thomas Miller and an ever-changing series of attempted regulars, guests, and experiments, "Sherlock Holmes is Real" is forming its own Sherlockian society and inviting them to help explore Watson's documentary footage.

Enter the Sherlock Holmes Realist Society.

Saturday at noon Talon King time (CST) and six in the evening Paul Thomas Miller time (GMT), the first episode of "Sherlock Holmes Is Real" for 2022 will record as the first meeting of the Sherlock Holmes Realist Society.

If you're at all familiar with the current seasons of "Sherlock Holmes is Real," you know that show examines the actual documentary footage shot by John H. Watson in the Victorian era, then doctored with opening and end credits to look like a 1954 TV show. Peeling back the verbal veneer that Watson put over his life with Sherlock Holmes in the literary Canon, the Watson documentary footage provides astounding evidence of the real relationship between Holmes and Watson, and so much more.

On Saturday, the Sherlock Holmes Realist Society will watch the footage found on YouTube under the title "The Jolly Hangman" and discuss just what it reveals of our heroes -- along with Paul and Talon, our usual show-folk. 

And you're welcome to join. Attending automatically makes you a member of the Sherlock Holmes Realist Society, and will also provide you with one more Zoom society meeting notch on you belt, if you're trying for Legion of Zoom status. 

To register in advance for this meeting, go to: 

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.