Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Just Desserts for Professor Moriarty

Every good Sherlockian weekend needs a time to get to meet and mingle with your fellow students of the Holmes schooling you're about to enjoy. And "Holmes in the Heartland 2023: Arch Enemies," the last weekend in July in St. Louis is no exception.

On Friday night, after you've found your own favorite dining spot and feasted, back at the hotel we'll be having a little dessert and drinks reception we're calling "Just Desserts For The Professor," because . . . well, it's just desserts. And drinks (a cash bar for those who need something as stiff as the professor post-Reichenbach). But that's not everything.

What would a Moriarty-themed reception be without a few nods to London's greatest criminal mastermind of all time?

You might not be Porlock, but you still might want to have your Moriarty organization alias handy. You might get to see a display by Professor Moriarty's favorite post-Greuze artist. (And maybe a Greuze or two.) Will the Professor have an evil scheme in play beneath the cover of a simple welcome reception for attendees of Holmes in the Heartland? Or will he accept his "just desserts?"

It's planned to run from from 7:00 P.M. to 10:00 PM that Friday eve, so if you're attending Holmes in the Heartland you will have an excellent chance to find out. Unless Sherlock Holmes decides to inconvenience, incommode, or absolutely hamper our plans, it should be a great start to a great weekend!

Find out more about "Holmes int the Heartland" here:


Also here:


And actually hear about it listening to . . .


And talk of it in recent and coming episodes of  . . .


It's like one of those movie previews you just can't escape until the movie is finally released! Accept your fate and sign up while you still can! Seats are running out!

Saturday, June 10, 2023

Not Your Usual Pub Trivia Night!

 Been to a pub triva night? Tables of eight, ten questions per round, answers on paper, all that?

Well, that's one way to do pub trivia. Is that the way we do it at an Alpha Inn Goose Club Pub Trivia Night?

Maybe kinda, sortaaaaaahhh . . . well no.

At an Alpha Inn Goose Club Pub Trivia Night, we do have teams, but they're a lot bigger than eight. And we don't make you write your answers secretly on paper. No, when your team's chance to answer comes up, you can discuss out loud, make a consensus choice, or even sometimes be their champion and deal with a question on your own. Because at the Alpha Inn Goose Club, we play a bit more like game show rules.

Yes, questions will be grouped by Sherlock Holmes-based topics, and you may decide you want to see what questions my goose-ish co-host has for you.

"I hope a wild goose may not prove to be the end of our chase," observed Mr. Merryweather, gloomily. (REDH)

And that whole "keeping track of points" thing? Well, if you remember the tale from which we draw inspiration, you know that at the Alpha Inn, it's all about piling up the pence. Each correct answer gets you a shiny new souvenir pence. (Note to Greg Ruby: A new version!)

"This year out good host, Windigate by name, instituted a goose club, by which, on consideration of some few pence every week, we were each to receive a bird at Christmas." (BLUE)

But those aren't your only chances for some reward for your efforts. Like any game show, you might have a chance for go a little further and burglarize the countess's jewel-case for treasures. (Hint: This case has no actual jewels.) 

"The question for us now to solve is the sequence of events leading from a rifled jewel-case at one end to the crop of a goose in Tottenham Court Road at the other." (BLUE)

Hmm, what else, what else?

"If you have the goodness to touch the bell, Doctor, we will begin another investigation in which, also a bird will be the chief feature." (BLUE)

Like to ding a bell? That might happen at some point. Want to see a goose cough up a completely sanitary, non-throated blue carbuncle? (Canonical secret: Mrs. Oakshott's breed of geese had pockets under their wings that they only called "crops." Our goose is of that breed.) Want a shot at winning by doing nothing at all? You just never know for sure what might happen at an Alpha Inn Goose Club Pub Trivia night, except for two things: Having fun and learning at least one or two things you never knew before.

The key thing is that you don't have to know anything to enjoy this trivia night. 

Where and when is the next place the Alpha Inn Goose Club Trivia Night is going to occur?

Saturday night, July 29, after the Holmes in the Heartland dinner buffet at the Sheraton Westport Plaza and the whole day of fun that precedes it. More on all that to come in future blog posts, but you might want to go ahead and sign up now. 

"What do you think of that?" cried the detective, with the air of a showman exhibiting his show. (STUD)

Thursday, June 8, 2023

50 Days Until Arch Enemies Assemble!

 Boy, do I hate talking about anything that's coming together with some secrets still to be revealed, plans being made, and excitement building . . . though I really do need to share that last part.

Holmes in the Heartland 2023: Arch Enemies, you've heard of this, right?

Just fifty days away, July 28-30, at the Sheraton Westport Plaza Hotel in St. Louis, with a couple offsite field trips. Last night I was spray painting some things in my back yard, tonight I was working out some treats, and discussing, discussing, discussing. You might even hear a little of that discussion on next week's Watsonian Weekly podcast.

You can always go to the website and get the basic details there -- 
-- but if you know Sherlockian weekend events, you know there is always more behind it than just those raw details. I mean, you look and you see names of speakers, but let me give you a different list, we've got:

One wit who always makes you smile.
One brain who knows more about at least one topic than any of us . . . oh, wait, there's a couple of those.
One bon vivant from a faraway city who is always charming.
One character from a less faraway city that you just have to meet.
One quirky unicorn in human guise you'll remember for a while.
One reluctant cosplayer who'll do anything for Holmes. (Well, maybe not anything.)
Once change in the program that might be an upgrade?

And, let me tell you, if you can identify all of those folks exactly, you're one up on me. As I said on the second item, some of those descriptions apply to more than one featured presenter.

Will it be a party? Yes.

Will you meet someone you've never met before? Yes.

And it's only fifty days away.

I've got a lot to do, so I'll leave it at that for now. But more to come, and, trust me, if you're on the fence, don't wait for that more to get signed up!

Monday, June 5, 2023

In case I didn't mention it, there was this book . . .

 Let me just say this: I am really horrible at self-promotion. 

It's mostly intentional, and sometimes I forget to even tell friends about things. For example, tonight I had at email asking about a book that got a mention in Sherlock Holmes Magazine. So, in answering friend Joe, I figured I might as well explain it to anyone who might bump into that reference. Here's the book:

Sometime last year, a couple of my passions collided. I love 221B Con, as anyone who has read this blog for a while knows, and have been blogging about it since year one. Another, less public dream of mine, came from hearing of some famed BSI dinner long past where each of the attendees were given copies of a book or three. I loved the idea of someone just handing you a book as a party favor. (And there are a conference or two that have do just that.) So for the tenth anniversary of 221B Con, I decided to gather up all of my blog posts in a book with a few other notes and publish the thing to just hand out to all the lovely folk at the con. Even got a dealer's table . . .

We were selling back issues of The Watsonian (which is why you see Beth Gallego as my fellow bookseller) and other books by myself and special guest Paul Thomas Miller. But The 221B Con Decade? That book was getting handed out to every single person who cast a glance our way.

Two hundred and twenty-one signed and numbered copies, all in paperback except for twenty-five hardcover copies especially for the people who put on and worked at 221B Con. With a few rare exceptions, any remaining copies (a few unsigned and numbered beyond the 221, I was surprised to find) stayed with the 221B Con crew.

So at this point, I sure don't have any extras to dispense, as it was 221B Con's book all along. They even have the rights to it, if that ever becomes useful or worth reprinting decades from now. And that was kind of the point -- lately, with publish-on-demand and Amazon, some books will never become collectable or a challenge to find. Some books will just be there, and not be something that marks a special moment in time, which is, truly, each and every 221B Con.

So, yep, I came out with another book this spring and really didn't promote it outside of waving it in the face of every person I could in the dealer's room at con. (Including walking the whole dealer's room and giving one to each of the dealers, because they might not be likely to leave their tables.)

And really, that's about as much promotional energy as I've ever had. Except to now say, copies are out there, and I'm sure someone has dumped one on their local used bookseller already. Keep your eyes open. 

Friday, June 2, 2023

The Sherlock Holmes Canon-Event

There's a concept that the new movie Spider-man:Across the Spider-verse uses that is very Sherlock-Holmes-relatable. A little surprised we didn't get there first, but Sherlock has always been solidly rooted in the mystery genre, despite notable ventures into fantasy or science fiction, however, so there's a great excuse. And there are other reasons as well.

Sherlockians have long been into the Canon of Sherlock Holmes, no doubt about that. We work out the lives of our favorite characters building upon Canonical detail, try to expand the Canon from our own interpretations, etc., etc. But what we tended to hold fast to was the idea that, even in our pastiche-worlds, there is just the one Canonical Sherlock-verse. When BBC Sherlock blew out the walls of Canon and we started to see Sherlock and John as tennis players, mermen, or whatever variant a Sherlockian enjoyed creating, an up and coming generation of Sherlockians started seeing the potential for a Sherlock Holmes multiverse, but it wasn't immediately embraced by our more traditional venues.

In decades past, it was even fashionable in Sherlockian publications to pooh-pooh new Sherlock Holmes stories that ventured too far from Canon, and folks liked to publish rules for pastiche. No celebrities. No bringing in Moriarty, Mycroft, or Irene. Emulating the original model as much as humanly possible was the way to go. But BBC Sherlock changed all that from square one, and it used the "Canon-event."

Sherlock Holmes was suddenly in the modern day, using a cell phone. And things were happening to him that were Canon, but not Canon. He didn't have to go to Switzerland to face Moriarty in a high place. Irene Adler didn't have to sing opera. And yet we all saw the old Holmes Canon reflected in these new Sherlock Holmes stories. And we even saw a second sort of fanon lock itself in that made a lot of folks unhappy with the way those tales turned out.

Comic book writers, handed characters that existed in World War Two with newer versions created comics had a fall and rise, started playing with the concept of a multiverse in the 1960s. Spider-Man: Into The Spiderverse, the first in the animated trilogy we're now seeing part two of, took that concept and ran with it. Spider-man did not have to be a story told just one way. He could be noir, he could be cartoony, he could be a totally different character . . . or could he?

That''s where the Canon-event comes in.

Spider-man:Across the Spider-verse goes meta without breaking the fourth wall in ways that make one reflect upon our own fandom and the tales we tell of Sherlock Holmes. What are Sherlock's "Canon-events," those parts of his story that we would definitely retell despite changing time, place, or other Canonical background details? With a comic book character, it's easy -- plant a spider on their chest and give them webs and you've pretty much got a Spider-man. Sherlock Holmes is a little more nuanced.

And while some might just go "stick exactly to the Canon," it's in those new variations that characters evolve and survive through generations. It's in those variations where we truly see what makes Sherlock Holmes what he truly is. If you can rip him out of London, change his gender, and still give the audience a feeling of "Yes, this is Sherlock Holmes," it adds so much more to our culture than a word-for-word retelling of The Hound of the Baskervilles.

On a deeper level, the exploration of Canon in tales like Spider-man:Across the Spider-verse is saying something about seeing the connections between other people and ourselves. We actually love talking about our Canon-events as Sherlockians, those moments in our own origin stories where we came to love Sherlock Holmes. Sherlockians are as different as varieties of spider-based superheroes, yet there is a literal Canon event in each of our pasts that put Sherlock Holmes on our t-shirt or bow-tie. 

For a movie with no Sherlock Holmes trappings, references, or anything else, I sure saw a lot of Sherlockianly relevant work in the tale told by Spider-man:Across the Spider-verse.

And I'll be thinking about it for a while.