Friday, February 24, 2012

Harpooners meet tonight. . . .

Tomorrow night, Friday the 24th, is the usual February meeting of the HSU.  There will be NO official dinner, but we will meet at 6:58PM, and eat anyway, with the meeting at 815PM.
Of course, we will meet at MiLHouse (the Mother-in-Law House) on Historic Main Street in St Charles.
Please respond if you are coming so we may have enough room round the table.
The paper, on Last, has been taken by JAndrew Basford (God Bless his little heart.)
Warren Speh, all well now, thank God, has agreed to do the March paper on Illu.
We are waiting on contacts to come up with a plan for the remainder of 2012, except for July (JAndrew again) and September (Michael.)
Please indicate which of the other cases you would like to examine during the year.
Hope you had a nice Valentine's Day and ladies, don't forget Leap Day.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

February at the Empty House

On Friday, February 3, Sophia and I made the trip to Alongi’s for the monthly meeting of the Occupants of the Empty House.  After saying hello to our friends and enjoying the conversation we ordered dinner.  I highly recommend the shrimp scampi, which was outstanding.  During dinner we discussed the BBC series Sherlock.  Everyone seems to agree it is an outstanding series. Each of us recalled various scenes from each installment that we enjoyed. 

We had a silent auction to benefit The Sherlock Holmes Collections housed at the University of Minnesota libraries.  I had the winning bid on the Michael Dirda’s book, On Conan Doyle.  I’m looking forward to enjoying a good read.  This is another  great cause the Occupants support.

The conversation turned to The Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist.  While it is a little chilly to be cycling this time of year, the paper was excellent.  Cycling was a favorite past time during the Victorian Era.  It provided people with a means of transportation that provided exercise and allowed the cyclist to enjoy a quiet ride through the countryside away from the hustle of London’s busy streets.

Sophia and I enjoy our trips to Du Quoin.  And while we may not attend every meeting in person we know we will be updated when The Camden House Journal arrives. With that, I’ll end this month’s installment from the “House”.

An interesting read. . . .


Hidden Clues

Published: December 4, 2009
“You have been in Afghanistan, I perceive,” the middle-aged man said in greeting as the doctor entered the room. The doctor, just returned from the second Anglo-Afghan War, was amazed by the man’s perspicacity. But before he could ask him how he knew this to be true, the man grabbed him by the sleeve and pulled him over to view his latest obsession.
Dan Winters


Holmes often seems oblivious to what others are thinking or feeling, even his dear Watson.


While working, Holmes seems inexhaustible, not sleeping for days. Between cases, he sometimes falls into a state of deep lethargy.


Holmes has extensive knowledge of odd subjects — like 140 different types of cigar, pipe and cigarette ash.

The doctor listened in amazement as his new acquaintance spoke at length of the chemistry experiment he’d just completed. The friend who introduced them had told the doctor that the man was eccentric and that he conducted strange and morbid experiments. He told the doctor that he had once seen the man beat a corpse to find out if a bruise could form after death. (It can’t.) Indeed, he was so coldblooded, the friend added, it would be easy to imagine the man slipping a friend a drug just to see the effect. Certainly Sherlock Holmes was eccentric, Dr. John Watson thought, but he was also interesting.
It was in this way, in 1887, that Arthur Conan Doyle began one of the strangest and most productive partnerships in literature, with his novel “A Study in Scarlet.” I first made the acquaintance of this odd couple in high school. Recently I found myself dipping again into my well-worn volumes of these remarkable stories, but this time I couldn’t help looking at Sherlock Holmes with the eyes of a doctor. What I saw was what any doctor would see: a patient. The question for me was, Could the strange behavior of Sherlock Holmes be diagnosed?
He does have symptoms. He appears oblivious to the rhythms and courtesies of normal social intercourse — he doesn’t converse so much as lecture. His interests and knowledge are deep but narrow. He is strangely “coldblooded,” and perhaps as a consequence, he is also alone in the world. He has no friends other than the extremely tolerant Watson; a brother, even stranger and more isolated than he, is his only family. Was Arthur Conan Doyle presenting some sort of genetically transmitted personality disorder or mental illness he’d observed, or was Sherlock Holmes merely an interesting character created from scratch?
Conan Doyle trained as a physician at the University of Edinburgh, then one of the most prominent medical schools in the world. He had a keen eye for the subtle manifestations of illness, and his stories are filled with dead-on medical descriptions. The alcoholism of a once-wealthy man is seen in the “touch of red in nose and cheeks,” “the slight tremor of his extended hand.” In another story, the contortions of a body — the limbs “twisted and turned in the most fantastic fashion,” the muscles “hard as a board . . . far exceeding the usual rigor mortis”— allow Watson (and his doctor-readers) to diagnose strychnine poisoning.
It is thought that Conan Doyle was among the first to describe an inherited disease now known as Marfan’s syndrome. First presented in the medical literature in 1896 by a French pediatrician, Antoine Marfan, the syndrome is characterized by a tall and slender build, eye problems and a tendency to develop aneurysms of the aorta at a young age. The rupture of the dilated vessel, which carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body, is the most common cause of death among those with this disorder, and, until recently, few sufferers lived past 40. Jefferson Hope, the avenging murderer of Conan Doyle’s first novel, is described as a tall man in his late 30’s, who kills those he holds responsible for the death of the woman he loved. When finally captured, he tells Watson to put his hand on his chest. Watson reports that he “became at once conscious of an extraordinary throbbing and commotion which was going on inside. The walls of his chest seemed to thrill and quiver as a frail building would do inside when some powerful engine was at work. In the silence of the room I could hear a dull humming and buzzing noise which proceeded from the same source.” Watson knows instantly what this means. “Why . . . you have an aortic aneurysm!”
Is it possible that in his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes Conan Doyle captured some yet undescribed familial psychiatric syndrome? There have been many diagnoses bandied about among fans and scholars, says Leslie Klinger, the editor of the most comprehensive annotated version of the Sherlock Holmes stories. Klinger favors a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, pointing to the detective’s swings between hyperactivity and lassitude. Bipolar disorder does run in families and is characterized by episodes of frenetic energy — often tinted by grandiosity and extravagant behavior — alternating with periods of profound depression. Although it is true that Holmes didn’t sleep for days when in the grips of a case, his mood swings seem tied to his work. When he worked he was electric. When at loose ends, he was melancholic. Drug use might account for the wild shifts in mood, except that Holmes used cocaine when he was idle and depressed, not when he was busy and his mood elevated.

Others, Klinger adds, have suggested that Sherlock Holmes may have had a mild form of autism, commonly known as Asperger’s syndrome. This disorder was reported in the medical literature in 1944 by an Austrian pediatrician, Hans Asperger. He described four bright and articulate boys who had severe problems with social interaction and tended to focus intensely on particular objects or topics. The paper languished in obscurity for more than 40 years, but by 1994 Asperger’s was part of the official psychiatric lexicon. The diagnosis may be folded back into autism in the coming Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, but there is no doubt that Asperger’s description of these socially awkward, intensely focused young men resonated with parents who recognized their own children in it.

Could Conan Doyle have described this syndrome some 70 years before Asperger? According to Ami Klin, director of the autism program at the Yale Child Study Center, part of the medical school, the fundamental quality that defines all forms of autism is “mind-blindness”: difficulty in understanding what others feel or think and thus in forming relationships. Unaware of how others see them, those with Asperger’s often behave oddly. In addition, they tend to develop extensive knowledge of narrowly focused subjects.
In Conan Doyle’s portrayal, Sherlock Holmes at times exhibits all of these qualities. His interactions with others are often direct to the point of rudeness. And even when Holmes is speaking to Watson, his closest friend, his compliments are often closer to a rebuke. In “The Hound of the Baskervilles,” when Watson, pleased with his own detective abilities, reports to Holmes the results of his investigation, Holmes tells him that he isn’t a source of light but a conductor of light, a mere aid in solving mysteries only Holmes himself can untangle.
As for his interests, Holmes brags frequently of his detailed knowledge of all kinds of strange phenomena. He is said to have written a monograph on the differences among 140 cigar, pipe and cigarette ashes. He demonstrates what Asperger called “autistic intelligence” — an ability to see the world from a very different perspective than most people, often by focusing on details overlooked by others. Indeed Sherlock Holmes boasts that he is able to see the significance of trifles and calls this his “method.”
So where did this picture come from? Biographers have identified a number of individuals Conan Doyle may have drawn on for the character of Sherlock Holmes, but none with all these traits. Was it a patient? A family friend? A schoolmate who didn’t make it into the biographies? We may never know, but clearly Holmes’s peculiarities have a persistent appeal. Just look at Temperance Brennan of “Bones,” Adrian Monk of “Monk,” and, of course, Gregory House of “House,” who exhibit at least a few Asperger-like symptoms and owe much to Sherlock Holmes.

Credit where credit is due. . .

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Trivia question of the dayweekmonthyear for, well, today. . .

Easy one here.
Where is this quote from; "In those days Mr Sherlock Holmes was still living in Baker Street and . . . "

Sunday, February 12, 2012

For all you Anglophiles out there. . .

Following the reference to my success in the weekly Pub Quiz, a number of you asked me to post the questions I set for this week. Here they are - my usual apologies for the local ones which may confuse people from far-flung lands such as the USA, Australia, Canada and Lancashire. I will add the answers in the form of a comment to this post in a couple of days time.

1    Which programme topped the British TV ratings every year between 1979 and 1989?   
2    What is graphology the study of?         
3    In terms of food, Mangetout is a type of what?   
4    Who said "every Prime Minister needs a Willie" and who or what was the Willie being referred to?        
5    Who wrote the lyrics to the hit song "Candle in the Wind"?       
6    Foyles in London sells what?    
7    In which 1990 film did Madonna play the part of Breathless Mahoney?   
8    Aylesbury is the administrative capital of which English county?
9    What were the 49ers searching for in California? 
10   Name the five D-Day Normandy invasion beaches - a point for each.     
11   The nursery rhyme “Ring A Ring Of Roses” is often said to commemorate what historical event?        
12   What is the link between boxing champion James Corbett and the country singer Jim Reeves?   
13   What part of the body shares its name with a punctuation mark? 
14   Which football club played at Anfield before Liverpool FC?       
15   In terms of food, what does the abbreviation UHT stand for?    
16   Which media tycoon established the breakaway World Series Cricket organisation in the 1970s?  
17   Which Prime Minister gave his name to a type of tea?   
18   Who played the title role in the 1950s TV comedy “I Love Lucy”? 
19   What colour is the cross on the Swiss flag?       
20   There are six M-classified motorways that pass through Yorkshire – name them.  
21   In what year did the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II take place?     
22   In which city was Charles Dickens born? 
23   Name the last three Managers of the England Football team?      
24   Who won this years' Super Bowl last Monday night?     
25   How many Great Grandchildren does the Queen currently have? 
26   What was the name of the football club owner who was found not guilty of tax evasion this week? 
27   Under what pseudonym were the first stories written by Dickens published?      
28   What is the name of the Archbishop of York who has been subject to criticism this week following his views on gay marriage?   
29   What is the name of Dickens’s final, unfinished, book    
30   Who are the three longest reigning British monarchs? (Point for each, bonus point for the right order)      
31   What song, said to be the most recognised song in the English language, was written by sisters Patty and Mildred Hill in 1893?       
32   What is the trade name of polytetrafluoroethene?          
33   Which American building is said to be the world’s largest office building with 6.5 million sq feet of space?     
34   In terms of volume, which country produces the most wine?     
35   In terms of Roman numerals, what is M+C-L equal to? (Answers in ordinary numbers, bonus for answer in Roman numerals)   
36   With sales of 37.5 million, what is said to be the best selling car of all time?    
37   Minsk is the capital of which country?   
38   Where, in London, are the Royal Botanic Gardens?     
39   Who designed the lions in London’s Trafalgar Square?  
40   Other than Manchester United. Who are the only other three football teams to have won the Premiership title?    
41   What do baseball players call a complete miss of the ball?      
42   Carrots are rich in which vitamin?       
43   Which singer and actress starred in the title role of the 1953 film Calamity Jane?  
44   Donald Neilson was better known as which notorious 1970s murderer?    
45   Which world famous mathematician, born 100 years ago this year,  is the subject of a current petition to grant him a pardon for his conviction for gross indecency?          
46   In which century was the United States last at war with Great Britain?     
47   In mythology what was left in Pandora’s Box after she had released all the evils of the world from it?      
48   In terms of production, which is the most cultivated crop in the world?     
49   What is the name of the scale used to describe wind speed?   
50   What animals are known as caribou in North America?    

I will post the answers when I get them. . ... 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

More on Undershaw. . . .

Sherlock Holmes and the curious case of the author's ruined mansion

Campaigners fighting to save Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's crumbling former home have been boosted by a High Court decision to allow a judicial review of a case that might have tested the wit of the author's most famous creation.
Undershaw, the house Conan Doyle had built at Hindhead, Surrey, was where he wrote The Hound Of The Baskervilles and many other Sherlock Holmes stories, and where he entertained friends including the Peter Pan writer JM Barrie and Bram Stoker, the creator of Dracula. After Conan Doyle sold the house in1921, it was run for many years as a hotel. However, since its acquisition by a property speculator in 2004, it has fallen into disrepair. Waverley District Council has given planning permission for the house to be divided into three separate dwellings, with a five more homes to be built in the grounds.
Stephen Fry and Conan Doyle's great-nephews are among the high-profile supporters of the Undershaw Preservation Trust, which wants the building preserved as a single dwelling. Many point to the site's tourism potential as a museum dedicated to the man whose most famous character continues to fascinate film-makers. The writer and League Of Gentlemen actor Mark Gatiss, who is also a member of the trust, is the co-creator of Sherlock, the BBC's modern-day adaptation starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes, right. Its second series starts tomorrow.
Were Conan Doyle to return to his old home today, he would be distressed by the spectacle. Most of the windows, including that of the study at which he sat writing The Hound Of The Baskervilles, are either smashed or boarded-up, while gorse bushes cover the grounds. The terrace, which had a court where Conan Doyle played tennis with his children, watched from a bedroom window by his ailing wife, is now a rank grass meadow.
The Scottish author and his family occupied Undershaw from 1897 to 1907. "This was the first house he owned," said John Gibson, director of the trust and a Conan Doyle scholar. "He partly drew up the plans for its construction himself, on four acres of ground which he had cleared. It is 850ft above sea level and it was hoped the air would be beneficial to his wife Louise, who had tuberculosis."
Hindhead already had a reputation for its beauty and recuperative atmosphere, and was known as "Little Switzerland". When Bram Stoker visited Conan Doyle he was overwhelmed by the unbroken view from Undershaw across the Nutcombe Valley to the South Downs 20 miles away, describing it as "an endless sea of greenery".
Mr Gibson said Conan Doyle envisaged Undershaw "as a forest lodge surrounded by firs, like something out of Grimms' Fairy Tales. He even had elk antlers mounted on the ornamental chimneys to add an air of authenticity."

Credit where credit is due. . .

Same stories, new covers. . . . .

From Sherlock Holmes News - the images look kinda cool!


While the English-speaking world is all aflutter over the forthcoming SHERLOCK HOLMES: A GAME OF SHADOWS and the second series of the BBC's brilliant SHERLOCK (likely airing in January on BBC 1), let's not forget that the Russian company  Central Partnership is busily producing a new 16 episode (8 two-parters) Sherlock Holmes series of their own. The series is due for release in 2012-2013. It stars Igor Petrenko (Sherlock Holmes), Andrew Panin (Watson), Mikhail Boyarsky (Lestrade), Leonid Yarmolnik, Alexander Golubev, and Elisaveta Boyarskaya.

Here are a few pics...

Feb. reading for Sherlock Holmes . . . .

BERY - 1886
MISS - 1897
ABBE - 1897

Monday, February 6, 2012

God Save the Queen. . . .

Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond (60th) Jubilee Celebrations
2012 marks the Diamond Jubilee of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. She became Queen when her father, King George VI, died on 6th February, 1952. Princess Elizabeth was 25 years old and she and her husband Prince Philip were on safari in Kenya when news of her father's death reached her. She returned home as Queen Elizabeth II.
Her coronation took place in Westminster Abbey on 2nd June 1953.
She celebrated her Silver Jubilee (25 years) in 1977, Golden Jubilee (50 years) in 2002, and 2012 marks the Diamond 60th Jubilee of her reign.
The only other British monarch to celebrate a Diamond Jubilee was her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria who celebrated the 60th year of her reign in 1897. Kings and Queens by length of reign.
To mark this historic occasion special events are planned during 2012 throughout the UK and the Commonwealth Realms (countries in which she is Head of State), and in many Commonwealth Nations.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

And I had really, really wanted to like this book. . . . .

But was very, very disappointed in the end.

Being set in Scotland I had hoped for something along the lines of 'Hound'. But boy was I wrong.
For me, it was a terribly hard book to read.
The plot fell apart very early on, and just buried itself deeper with each page.
The dialog was way over written, and painful to follow.
The tale, that was spread over way to many pages, could have easily, and possibly with good results, been done in a story a third of the length.

Mycroft comes off as the literary version of Nigel Bruce's Watson.
You would be surprised why the younger Holmes ever had any respect of the older if you went by the model here.

Reasons for conclusions are never explained and one of the main foes is never exposed for who he is. (Unless you follow the spectral explanation, and if so, then there is no point.)
The tale will do nothing to improve English/Scottish stereotypes.
And although quite fond of them myself,( ), I have never seen so many used in storytelling.

The 'Final' battle scene would be, sorry to say, very Guy Ritchie if ever brought to the big screen. And I am not saying that would be a good thing.

Sorry I bought this book new.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

We'll see what the outcome is.. .

As expected, the threat of a potential lawsuit from the head honchos at BBC has done nothing to deter CBS from moving forward on their own contemporary version of keen investigative fellow Sherlock Holmes, with the network announcing the hiring of “Homeland’s” Michael Cuesta to front the pilot for “Elementary”.
Cuesta is coming off a successful season on the Showtime’s thrilling “Homeland”, where he was the show’s primary director and also serves as executive producer. With “Elementary” (get it? “Elementary, my dear Watson?”), Cuesta will produce and direct the pilot episode, which will find the famous Detective (or at least, a version of him) in modern New York solving, presumably, complex crimes.
As you’ll recall, the BBC was none too pleased when CBS announced their version of a modern Sherlock Holmes TV show, believing the potential to copycat their popular version developed by former “Doctor Who” showrunner Steven Moffat (which has since become a cult hit in the States) was too great. In fact, they all but flat out stated that lawyers might get involved if CBS insists on moving forward with their show.
Well, CBS is moving forward, BBC. Your move.

Credit where credit is due; Beyond Hollywood