Thursday, February 6, 2020

7 degrees of Sherlock Holmes - Kirk Douglas

The film world lost one of its greats this week.
Kirk Douglas 1916-2019.

Not many of us can say we have never seen a Kirk Douglas movie.

Born poor, he became one of Hollywoods strongest personalities.

There is however a Sherlockian connection very early in his career.

In 1947 he took part in 'Morning becomes Electra'

Which also starred Raymond Massey who played Sherlock Holmes in  . . . .

. . . 1937s The Speckled Band.

And who's daughter, Anna, was married to Jermey Brett for a while.

So, there you have it, there you are.

My BLUE paper for 2019 Harpooners of the Sea Unicorn meeting

“BLUE 2019”
by John-T Foster
I have probably done a paper on BLUE, well I know I have, more than any other story in the Canon.
HOUN would be second.
On Blue I have examined:
  • the pub, the markets, the food of the season and women in the story. And I even explored the atmosphere of the holidays and 221B.
  • What a Carbuncle is and looks like has been done, as well as wether of not a goose has a crop. Victorian Christmas traditions have been covered.
  • The difference between dinner and supper as terms has been covered. Did Peterson ever get the reward was covered.
  • Where was Mrs. Hudson was discussed.
  • Whether or not Doctor Watson and Mary invited Holmes to their house for holiday dinner should be discussed.
All these and many others have been covered.
It is one of my favorite stories in the tales of Holmes and Watson. It can make one think of the joys we find in 221B, and perhaps even the loneliness of the holiday season.
There is a separation between Holmes and Watson that we could find unsettling. Yet we also see an enduring friendship.
But after having done a paper on BLUE so many times it has become a little difficult to find another aspect to explore. Well, at least one that I can explore in the time I usually have for such projects.
I usually wait for inspiration to come as I start thinking about the tale. I don’t even need to re- read it again to find that inspiration. I have read it enough to have a good idea where I might look.
I keep wanting to return to the scene in the pub and explore that again, but I have done that a few times. We have discussed its location and real name. We have discussed the difference between a public bar and a private bar (or snug).
We have made light of how we (I) think Watson got a little mad at not being able to stay long enough to finish his beer.
I find comfort in the atmosphere of a pub, so of course I want to revisit there as often as I can.
With this tale, as with others I have covered, what I believe the outcome of my research will be at the beginning of said research often transforms quite a bit by the time I am done.
Most of the time I hope for an 'A-ha!' moment of Sherlockian scholarship, but usually get a quiet 'oh-yea' instead.
I don’t think I have ever come up with any remarkable Sherlockian discoveries, but I keep trying.
And such went my research for this months paper.
I usually wait for an idea to come along that just seems to want to stick around and cries out for research.
Sometimes the idea doesn’t bare up to too much research and needs to be put aside.
Sometimes the idea takes on a life of its own and becomes bigger than you expected. Tonight’s paper falls somewhere in between.  I don’t know where it came from or how it developed, it was just there at some point while thinking about BLUE.
So here goes:
There are no women present in BLUE. By present I mean none make a physical appearance. We assume the presence, a couple times, of Mrs. Hudson, but we can never be quite sure. We assume she is the one that opens the door for Mr. Baker and Watson, but Watson doesn't actually ever say that.
Several other women are mentioned in BLUE, but, once again, are never physically present.
This got me thinking; Is this the only story in the Canon that no women make an appearance? 
I was hoping that was the case and that I had made a vital Sherlockian scholarly discovery.
But, like I said earlier, this discovery fell somewhere between a dull thump and angelic bells ringing.
So like any good researcher I had to back up my theory with a little literary foot work. Or, if you like, 'The Game was afoot.'
That meant go through each story and see if a female physically makes an appearance or not. 
I had to apply a few ground rules in my research, well, actually only one.
The women in question had to actually interact with Holmes or Watson within the tale and not as an interaction discussed or described as part of a conversation that took place somewhere else.
It seems to us lovers of the Canon and even to the romantic in most of us that women are a vital part of the just about all of the stories.
We all remember the names of many of them; Violet, Kitty, Irene, Beryl, Elsie and so may others. OH yea, and Mrs. Hudson!
It can’t be possible that there could be more than just a couple without woman actually being present.
Maybe, if I am lucky, it would just be BLUE.
So in earnest I started my research.
In many of the 'cases' I could recall an interaction without having to crack the tome, like SPEC and SOLI, and HOUN and SCAN. And what about MILV!
Others I had to spend a little worthy time in the Canon, rereading till I found proof one way or another. Many of the women just briefly passed through, only taking up a couple lines of text.
Others, like Irene and Violet and Beryl inhabited many paragraphs or pages.
Mrs Hudson, who is almost as revered as Holmes and Watson, and who’s absence we can not imagine from the Canon, has very little presence for her Canonical stature. Her lines are few, but her presence is mighty.  So mighty that most of us assume her place to be greater , when she is often not named.
Or, even more likely, our memory and desire place her somewhere where she is not actually mentioned.
But that also has been discussed before.
While my research did not take me to the conclusion I was hoping for, it did take to a conclusion that I found surprising.
I found that in 37, just over 61%, of the tales documented by Holmes and Watson, women make a physical appearance. They actually, in some way, interacted with either Holmes or Watson. With the exception of LADY Francis Carfax. While physically present, she really didn’t interact with anyone.
But I did indeed put her in the yes camp.
She can’t help that she wasn’t given any lines.
So that left a remarkable 23, or about 38%, of the tales without a women actually walking (or in the case of LADY laying) through the story.
In many cases women are mentioned and indeed play a significant part in the story, but don’t actually come on stage.
In BLUE, noticeable in their absence, but still important, are sister Mrs. Oakshott, partner in crime Catherine Cusack, and to lesser degree the Countess.
All vital to the story, but budget would not allow for actors.
Imagine if you can SCAN being told in such away that Irene would not have had to be present.  We can’t.
Last year we discussed the perceived or possible participation of Catherine Cusack in the BLUE. We discussed how much or how little she had to do with the romancing of the stone. But never did she have to be present to be important to the story.
Does this absence of women in 38% of the tales as a physical presence now change how you look at your memory of the Canon.
One thing I think it does say about the stories is that the women characters who do show up in body are memorable, strong females. So much so that like many things in the Canon the images we paint for ourselves are so vivid that the colors spread out into all the other stories. We populate and picture individuals that never do really make an appearance. Or our minds expand their roll to be bigger than it really is.
Think about some of the most memorable, good or bad people in the Canon. Most of them show up far less than their perception would suggest.
Think how few times both Mycroft and Moriarty populate the Canon. Yet both have a lasting presence throughout the conversation. Same goes for Mrs. Hudson and Irene. And maybe even most of all Mary.
Every time Watson is not in 221B we place him, hopefully, living happily with Mary. Even though she seldom makes an appearance.

Moriarty, Mycroft and Irene have all gone on to literary fame of their own.
The Baker Street Irregulars I believe only appear in three stories, STUD, SIGN and CARD.  Yet we can not imagine a London without these diminutive street urchins. Yet they now appear in books of their own and soon a NETFLIX series about them (from what I read, it doesn’t sound like it will be flattering for Holmes).
I think I can honestly say that BLUE is still one of my favorites, even after so many readings of it. Doing research on it and, for that matter, any of the stories not only gives me a chance to make new, hopefully Canonical discoveries, but it also makes me examine how I remember or perceive the stories.
I thought it would be rare to find a Canonical story that did not include the physical presence of a women. The women that are present have left a strong impression.
So strong that at least I have populated the stories even more with women.
Well, that’s it till next year. Maybe then I will get my 'A-Ha!' moment.

John-T F.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Well I have been gone a while now. . .

No excuse other than I was having problems with blogger and have finally resolved it.
So start looking for more posts here soon.

They won't be a good as that other bloggers, but I have to start somewhere again.

Monday, April 29, 2019

I am not sure how one blogger out there can continually. . .

complain about the membership requirements of the BSI and yet so readily almost pander to another group which states, ". . . are an all-female group of Sherlock Holmes fans dedicated to approaching the fandom from a female point of view, as well as engaging in fun, lively conversations about the canon, film and television adaptations of Arthur Conan Doyle’s work, and associated topics...

Now I am okay with the requirements that both societies have set. If you want to be in an all female group that doesn't allow males, well that's up to you.
But if you want to be a member of another group that also limits it's membership for what ever reasons it chooses, that's fine also.

If you don't like how either one does it, don't support them, or don't accept the invitation to join (or sent back your shilling, get the divorce).

If said bloggers goes along with the saying "all Sherlockiana is good Sherlockiana", well lets just say he would have half as many posts.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Holmes and Watson. What a waste of time and talent.

I really tried to go into it with an open mind.
I like most of what John C. Reilly does, especially lately.
And some of what Will Ferrell does.

But this film really let both of them down, again, especially John C. Reilly.

There was no real story, just an hour and a half or so (seemed much longer) of really bad jokes and prat-falls.

I am not even going to compare it to Without a Clue, it come no where near that wonderful comedy.

Lots of great talent Holmes and Watson, but I am sure most of them are sorry to have to put this one on their resume.

Once again he is onto his favorite subject -The BSI

Come on Sherlock Peoria, give back your shilling, take off your armor and become the serf you claim you really are.

You are starting to sound like you did for the first eight years of Elementary, and a broken record.

To me it just makes you sound like you are wanting to fit in with what is popular at the moment.

If all Sherlockian is good Sherlockian, move on!

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

I just noticed this on one of my least favorite blogs. . . . .

"I don't go on much about being a member of the Baker Street Irregulars. I don't attach those three letters to my name in correspondence or Sherlockian resumes. And occasionally I bitch about the group's membership policy. All of this begins thirty years ago."

I think it is kind of funny that in his not going on much about being a member, he seems to almost always go on about being a member of a group that he doesn't even really like that much and is always complaining about.

Even, in his least blog post,  going on about not wanting much of the credit for helping change a membership policy while making a point of telling us how much credit he should get for that.

He doesn't occasionally go on about the groups membership policy, but instead does it fairly often.

Again I must ask, "if you don't want to be a positive force for change within the group, positive being the key word, give back your membership."

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Once again the BSI is in someones crosshairs.

It always astounds me when a group that is so hated by a certain individual is always be taken to task by that same individual.

My family once had a friend, my brother's friend, who always liked to compare England to just about every place else, usually trying to get to my very English dad.
"Well England may have done this, but such-n-such did this, which seemed better than anything England could have done.."

I would never participate in these discussions cause I never could get the point, except maybe to make one's self look better. I always had more respect for the more humble people who didn't seem to need to make someone else look bad for them to look good.

A certain Illinois blogger is once again making noise about the BSI, and just like his constant complaint about 'Elementary' I have to think; "If you think so little of it, why do you spend so much time trying to pull it down or make it look bad?"

In the case of the BSI, why doesn't he just turn in his investiture and prove to everyone that he doesn't think it is so important. Or better yet, if you do like it, but want to change things. . .  GET INVOLVED!

Another non-inclusive society has also started taking aim at the BSI because they didn't agree with an editing decision.

Most of us realize that for whatever reason we will never get invited into the BSI. Sad, but true.
But most of also realize that that is because we are not all that great at writing a very scholarly paper.
Try as I may, I am not deft enough with the pen to make that leap.

Oh, well. He got his recognition, and I guess he thinks that puts him above the rest of us and that we may all think more about his opinion.

Well, Illinois is cold this winter, but what can you expect.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Sherlock Gnomes - I liked it.

I hadn't expected to.

We first started watching it when we were snowed in out at our cabin last weekend.

Late at night, after being outside all day.
In our bunks by the fire, daughter and I started watching it.

Between my bad hearing (and the fact that the portable DVD player doesn't get very loud anyway) and being out in the cold a lot, I kept falling asleep through it.

So, last week, when I got back home I found time to watch it free on Amazon Prime.

And it was a lot better than I expected.

Holmes, voiced by Johnny Depp, was played very much to how we could expect the Canonical Holmes to be; driven by his trade, aloft, focused and seemingly oblivious to how others feel.
Watson, voiced by Chiwetel Ejiofor, was played more like side-kick than silent partner (which ended up being the plot of the story. Perhaps a little more Jude's Watson than Bruce's.

The animation was well done.

One did not have to have seen any of the other Gnome movies to enjoy this one. It stood very well on its own.

Although fairly well done, the Moriarty character was a little to close the bad guy in the first 'The Incredibles' movie for me, Some of his one-liners were very funny however.

There were some fun pearls buried in the story that kept one looking.

The plot needed a little more fleshing out, but overall I thought the film fun.


Thanks for stopping by, as always.

Google is not let me sign in to reply, so I thought I would say thanks here.