Monday, March 31, 2014

I just didn't get it. . . a book review, . ."The Final Solution" by Michael Chabon

I normally like books about Holmes' life after retirement. I have read a few I really have enjoyed.
Sure, all of them are speculation, but who amongst us has not done some of that.
We have all pictured him in retirement in his cottage by the coast with this bee's.
And I like to imagine a younger person discovering an older Holmes and learning of the great detective and his history and methods.

"The Final Solution" did none of that for me.
I really didn't like the Holmes that was created in the book. Now it can be argued that it never says anywhere that it actually was Holmes, but most readers know that it is. This 'Holmes' left me understanding why he is alone and a mess.

Chabon's Holmes, for me, offered none of the characteristics I envision Holmes taking into his retirement.
He is cranky, decrepit and slovenly. Cranky I could maybe live with, but not the other two.

The narrative is way over written and, again, for me, has none of the cadence of a good Doyle short story.
Several reviewers I have read compare the style to Doyle's writing which I did not find to be the case.
After quoting one lengthy paragraph one reviewer writes; ". . what I love about that passage is the way that it reminds me of reading about Sherlock Holmes's apartment when I was a kid. It's is the same life, only everything is fifty years older."
But to actually read the paragraph you will find it has none of the brevity or descriptive clarity of Doyle.

To really get much out of this book one must already have a good understanding of the Holocaust or must be welling to do some research to understand the 'mystery' in the book. A book leaving us wanting to know or understand more is not in itself a bad thing.

But I found myself wanting to skip over parts because the description became to thick. Perhaps some would argue that it is I who is thick and not the book
But for me, the book did not flow well.

The mystery and the history I could accept, but it was way over written.

And good article on "The Final Solution" and Holocaust imagery can be found here.

Although I enjoyed the history, the mystery and the style left me wanting something else.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

A little local Sherlockian History

The Harpooners of the Sea Unicorn put on the first St Louis area Sherlockian convention in the early 1990's (we ended up doing two). We called these conventions, The Games Afloat, and we held them on an old showboat called the Goldenrod. (It is on the National Historic Register)
Ten years before, before I know of scion societies and Sherlockian groups, I had attended the play "Sherlock Holmes', done as a comedy on the Goldenrod. I still have the play bill somewhere and will add it when I find it. It was a very fun night.
I just found this bit of news about the Goldenrod.

Here is a picture of what it looked like in it's glory as a working show boat.

Goldenrod Showboat Set for Scrapyard

The new owners of the century-old Goldenrod Showboat say as soon as the Mississippi River rises high enough, they’re going to float their boat straight to the scrapyard.
A local non-profit group hoping to prevent that have only been able to raise about $28,000—less than half of what they need to buy it back.
The Admiral was torn up and sold for scrap a couple of years ago.
(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Friday, March 28, 2014

Seven Degrees of Sherlock Holmes - #45 - 'The King', Elvis Presley

Elvis Presley (1935-1977) (Where were you when you heard he had died?)

Made his film debut in 1956's "Love Me Tender"

which also featured Richard Egan (1921-1987)

who starred in 1952's "Blackbeard the Pirate"

with the pirate himself, Robert Newton (1905-1956)

who had his last film appearance in 1956's "Around the World in Eighty Days"

in which Sir John Gielgud (1904-2000) also participated (has did half of Hollywood)

who we already connected with in 1979"s "Murder by Decree"

So, there you have it, there you are.

Before you get withdrawals. . . .

Sherlock Holmes Season 4 Updates: Benedict Cumberbatch Starrer To Turn Into A Full-length Movie? Moriarty’s Return The Focus Of Season 4? BBC Series Producer Steven Moffat Address Rumors!

By Staff Writer | Mar 27, 2014 06:27 PM EDT

BBC Sherlock Holmes Prodocer and Writer Steven Moffat
(Photo : Steven Moffat,, Photo by Gage Skidmore)
Fans of the hottest BBC series Sherlock Holmes are getting impatient with the 2-year wait that they have to endure just to see Benedict Cumberbatch strut his hat and cape again, but it seems the executive producers are not even sure if the return of "sexiest detective" is all set.
"I have no idea," executive producer and writer of the hit BBC show Steven Moffat said when asked by The Guardian if it may be as long as two years until the premiere of Sherlock Holmes Season 4.

"Sue's working on the schedules right now. I just started with Capaldi on the new series of Doctor Who. You know, we'll do what we can, but with no sacrifice inquality -- that's the thing. If people have to wait two years, they'll have to wait two years. When's the next James Bond film? You know, it's not that kind of show that turns up all the time. It's just not. But the good news is, that probably means it will turn up sporadically for a very, very long while."
It is confirmed though that the Sherlock Holmes Season 4 is all plotted out.
"Rather excitingly, Mark and I, for no particular reason, we just got out of the rain and sat at the top of the [Sherlock] production bus ... and we just started plotting out what we could do in the future," said Moffat, reports The Guardian.
"And we plotted out the whole of series four and five. So we have got plans -- but our plans don't tend to be 'Let's blow up the world or cast the most famous person in the world' they tend to be 'Whatexciting twists and turns can we add to this?' And I think we've got some crackers! The ideas we had that day, I thought were the best we've ever had," the "Doctor Who" writer added.
Steven Moffat was quick to dispel the rumour that their franchise which stars Benedict Cumberbatch as the eccentric genius detective, will be turned into a full-length movie, adding that there are no plans since each episode is already the length of a feature.
What's winding up loyal Sherlock Holmes' fans is Moriarty's return on the last scene of Season 3. In the last few minutes of the finale episode, Moriarty is seen across screens worldwide saying "Did you miss me?"
Moffat was careful not to reveal any details of this new twist to Vulture, saying:  "I can't really say what we're doing with that, but there is no last-minute whim in this."
"We've had what we're going to do with Moriarty in place from before the second season. Exactly what we're going to do. I remember talking it through with Andrew Scott, who plays Moriarty. Wait and see what's going to happen."

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


Now doesn't that make you think Sherlock Holmes or what!

On another Sherlockian discussion blog I follow a poster asked,

"Places for SH tourism? my local paper today wrote about London's Baker Street, Meiringen (Switzerland) and Prague(!). Any recommendations for SH places to see?"

Well there were, as you may guess, a lot of recommendations.
I suggested Simpson's and a couple others seconded that suggestion.

And all this talk of Simpson's put me in a reminiscing frame of mind about my visit there many years ago.
The Harpooners of the Sea Unicorn put together a trip to England to visit Sherlockian sights. About five members were able to make the trip, which spent half it's time in London and half outside of the capital looking for more rural sites.

While in London we made the required visits to most Sherlockian sights and even visited with some notable Holmesians.
We planned an early dinner at Simpson's with a local Sherlockian, and we arrived straight from one of our sight-seeing walks.
I hadn't really known what we were getting into with this planned dinner stop. We weren't that Internet connected back then (1993), so I had not done proper research into menu or dress code.
It had been a fairly warm July day so I had spent the day walking around just in slacks and button down shirt.
The other two gentlemen in our group were of a more professional occupation than myself, so they naturally went around in a jacket as habit.

When we arrived at Simpson's the maitre d' informed us (me) that a jacket was required.
I thought I was going to be out of luck and would have to find something else to do while my fellow travelers enjoyed the food and company at this great establishment.
But alas, as old and experienced as Simpson's is, they were prepared for uncouth travelers like myself (but I do have good table manners).
I wish I could have, and commented so at the time, taken home the jacket they provided because it fit really well and I liked it.

This performance all took place near the entrance to the hallowed establishment.

And once properly attired I was able to start taking in my surroundings.

The first thing I noticed was not the old wood work or ornate trim, but the centuries old aroma of cooked beef, and it was not, to me, an unpleasant aroma at all.
It was indeed an enticing aroma, and if I hadn't already known I was going to have the beef, it would have changed my mine. I  felt as if I had arrived at a place that had been doing the same thing over 
and over again for many years, and was still doing it, and doing it very well.
We were escorted to the Grand Divan for our meal, where the beef was carved right at the table, and served from a silver serving cart and looked much like the picture to the left.
For a Roast Beef and Yorkshire pudding loving Yorkshire-man like myself, it was culinary heaven.
We dallied over dinner for quite a while talking with our guest and amongst ourselves, and taking in these historic surroundings.
I was able to purchase for my collection a cup and saucer with their logo on the side, and it sits proudly in my china cabinet.
And the walk back to our hotel in Mayfair, a walk of about two miles, completed an excellent Sherlockian day.
I have not yet been able to return to Simpson's, but it has not yet been removed from my bucket list.

It is interesting to note that included in the list of famous people who have taken a meal at Simpson's; Van Gogh, Charles Dickens William Gladstone, etc, they actually list Sherlock Holmes.
Didn't anyone ever tell them. . . . . .  . . . Dr. Watson was with him many times and should be listed also.

I hope you can make the pilgrimage some day.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A study in Scarlet. . .

Credit where credit is due.

What's your favorite Sherlockian accoutrement? Or how many favorites do you have?

As Sherlockians we are always ready and willing to point out all the things non-Sherloclian's associate with Sherlock Holmes; the deerstalker, the curved pipe and the Iverness cape, amongst other things. And no matter how many times we state the fact that, "Holmes did not use any of those!", they still remain iconic images of the great detective. And that's okay. Just because it doesn't say he did use them, it doesn't mean he couldn't have. And all three have made him the recognizable image he is today.
Even the most august Sherlockian journals and blogs don't mind using those symbols as representation in or on their pages. It's hard to fight a myth you help perpetrate.

The most recent popular adaptations of the stories, the RDJ movies, Sherlock and Elementary have for the most part not embraced the use of these symbols as stereotypical accoutrements of the great detective. Sherlock is the only one so far to find a way to incorporate them into it's show, but in a very subtle way. They use an over sized coat as a faux representation of the Iverness (it could be argued), and the deerstalker has been used as a comical prop.

And let's face it, even though, to show our Sherlockian knowledge, we are quick to point out they where not used, most of us are pretty comfortable with the image they suggest.

But that is not why we are here today.

My question to you is, like stated in the title; "What is your favorite Sherlockian accoutrement?"
If you had one thing you could chose to put in your home, your Sherlockian room, what would it be?
Would in be the knife in the mantle or the slipper next to it?
Would it be the Gasogene?
Our would you have an extra space built in your garage for a Hansom Cab?
Would you have Mrs. Hudson polished coffee service on your side board?
Or Watsons comfortable chair?
I might chose one of the walking sticks or the fenders around the fireplace.
Most of us can not afford to replicate an entire room from 221b, and many of us who do have an item from that time period may have come by it by luck or accident (I have a bulls-eye lantern I just love).

So the question remains; "What would be the first thing you would chose to fill that space?"

Monday, March 17, 2014

Anyone ever had anything to do with this site. . .?

Baker Street Bijou

St. Patrick's Day Seven Degrees of Sherlock Holmes - Barry Fitzgerald from "The Quiet Man" - #44

To honor St Patrick's Day, I will post a day early and try to keep it green.

Probably my favorite John Wayne movie is 1952's "The Quiet Man". It had nothing to do with cowboys, and I don't think anyone got shot.

So, here we go.

Starring in 1952's "The Quiet Man"

was Irish actor Barry Fitzgerald (1888-1961)

who took part in 1938's "The Dawn Patrol"

which of course featured one of our favorite Sherlock's, Basil Rathbone (1892-1969)

So, there you have it, there you are. Short and sweet.

Friday, March 14, 2014

"Hound of the Cancer Cell" - Season 2, episode #18 (42) - walking a fine line and a little "Gran Torino"

A locked room murder.
A reluctant witness.
Bell is back.
And the plot seems the same.

Okay, "Elementary" is still trying to find it's way, but it is at least going in the right direction.

For the last three episode's the show has lost a lot of it's over use of fetishes and un-Holmes like habits and is settling into a more comfortable, shall we say, police procedural.
After all, until it can find a balance of good Sherlockian connections and good story lines, that is where it is going to set for a while.

On a positive note along those same lines, it is at least not just throwing out Sherlockianisms for the sake of it, just to get some in.

Millers Holmes is becoming more likable and less quirky. His roll in the show no longer seems to be to offend Joan or the viewers. His character is becoming more of a thinking mans detective. Is he Holmes?
Not yet, but he is getting closer.

Lucy Liu as Watson is starting to find a good balance between side-kick and equally smart woman.
No longer upstaging Holmes during investigations, she is proving to be a very valuable assistant while going out on her own, with her own cases.

There were a few good twists in the plot, but other than that it seemed to follow the over used trend in the series; Introduce the bad guy, let him convince us he is not, then prove again he is.
The plot once again got a little to convoluted for me. Two weeks in a row of killing off people who really did not need to be killed off to help the story.

I think the den of hidden Mossad agents would make a good story line, but was unnecessary in this case.
Although providing a good chance for some observation work, it did not help the plot line.

I didn't pick up any Canonical references that had not been used already. I am hoping James or Buddy2blogger did.

Watson's case was stolen right out of the Eastwood movie "Gran Torino" (and several other such themed movies and shows).

It was a good show, not up to the last couple of weeks, but still one of the better ones.

So out of recognition of it's trying to improve, consciously or not, I give it. . .

Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Seven Degrees of Sherlock Holmes - #43 - Groucho Marx

Never one of my favorites, but he did have a lasting effect on comedy.

Groucho Marx (1890-1977)

was in the 1952 film "A Girl in Every Port"

with one of my favorite actress's, Marie Wilson (1916 - 1972)

who participated in  1962's "Mr. Hobbs takes a Vacation"

which featured Reginald Gardiner (1903-1980)

who was also in the war film "A Yank in the RAF" (1941)

which also starred Bruce Lester (1912-2008)

who took part in "Above Suspicion" (1943)

along side one of our favorite Holmes, Basil Rathbone (1892-1967)

So, there you have it, there you are.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Endeavour - TV Show - Some nods to Holmes

I never watched "Inspector Morris". I don't know why. Just never did. May have to check it out.

But I did start watching "Endeavour" this weekend, and I really enjoyed it.
The show is about a young Inspector Morris and his early days in the police force.
Set in the early 60's in Oxford.

The first episode I watched was called "Girl", and the story is unimportant here, but it did have two very nice nods the "The Great Detective".
I watched it on Amazon Prime, where it is free at this time.

The atmosphere and the acting was very good.

Check it out.

Friday, March 7, 2014

An interesting side note to this weeks Seven Degrees of Sherlock Holmes and this weeks Elementary Episode, so this will be SDSH #42

Sean Pertwee, Elementary's Lestrade,

starred in the 2005 remake of Greyfriars Bobby

which also featured Sherlock Holmes Christopher Lee

So Sean had a Sherlockian connection well before Elementary.
It's a small Holmes world after all.
(I hope that song doesn't stay in your head all day now.)

"It's a small world after all, it's a small world. . . . ."

"Ears to You' - Elementary Review - Season 2, Episode 17 (41) - I'm listening.

A man who the police suspect has murdered his missing wife receives two severed ears from the missing woman. A DNA match verifies that they are indeed her ears. A ransom demand is made to give her back.
The second one in four years.
If he didn't kill her, where has she been for four years, and who has been holding her?

The episode opens at Elementary's version of Bakers St. with Miller's Holmes try to defuse a bomb sent to him by a 'friend' to hone Holmes' skills at dismantling bombs.

We learn Lestrade is still living with Holmes and Watson, as are the chickens.

Holmes and Watson are asked to help investigate the case of two severed ears.
Lestrade is still living with Holmes and Watson while overcoming his doubts about his abilities as a cop.
I really like the range of emotion and temperament Pertwee's Lestrade goes through in each episode. To me it is very Letrade like.
While returning from a self pitying drinking party he is mugged.
While Holmes and Watson investigate the case of the missing woman, Watson gets Lestrade to look into the case of the mugger and other muggings with similar MO's.

I need to go back and see how many of the stories in Elementary are actually introduced in the digs of Holmes and Watson. Starting in 221b is something we expect in the Canon, and is a polite nod to the books if many of the episodes are introduce there.

It is another good episode with all the characters taking more Canonical rolls with Holmes leading the investigation. The episode has some good acting and some good twists.

I liked the part in the morgue where Holmes is explaining his findings over the corpse of the bag man from the money pick up. Very Canonical.

Holmes also gives us some insight into the forensics's of identifying ears and the history of those findings.

Again Miller's Holmes has become a more sympathetic Holmes to those around him, and the quirkiness was once again down played.

The problem with me in this episode, and several others, is the motives for the crimes.
The missing woman had already taken her revenge on her 'ex' by disappearing and leaving him a suspect in that disappearance. She was already married to a probably well off doctor. So why the need to bring it all back up again?
In several episodes the motives for the stories end up like a weak closing chapter to an otherwise good book.
The accidental discovery of the missing woman at the AA meeting was a weak plot line, which once again shows the many of the episodes are not plot driven.

References I found;

- being able to come up with clues from the dead mans body
- not eating while on a case
- working on criminal skills to understand the criminal

And I once again leave it to Buddy2blogger to come up with more.

Although I once again found the motive a little weak, I though the episode was much better than what we have come to expect this season. Until the end the plot was very interesting.
I think Miller's Holmes is striving to be more Holmes like, as are the stories. So for that reason I give this episode;

Thursday, March 6, 2014

I did not know this. . . .about David Burke

"Burke had earlier experience with Holmes having played the villain in an adaptation of "The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet" for the 1965 BBC series[5] starring Douglas Wilmer and Nigel Stock."

Right up there with Edward Harkwicke as Watson in one of the most seamless sharings of the same character.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Seven Degrees of Sherlock Holmes - #41 - Still old movie week - Alex Mackenzie

Still catching up on old movies and some childhood favorites and trying to immerse my daughter into some classic Disney, I am going with another oldie.

"Greyfriars Bobby" was made by Disney in 1961 and tells the tale of a loyal dog sticking by it's master even after death. Although argued by critics as a much made up story (not by Disney), it is still a fun movie to watch with kids.

I picked Alex Mackenzie, who played 'Old Jock', because he didn't even get into acting till he was 61, after finishing a career as a teacher.
Surely someone who started so late would not have time to make a Sherlockian movie connection?

Alex Mackenzie (1885-1965) -

took part in the 1957 movie "Rockets Galore" (by another famous Scot) - 

which also featured Donald Sinden (1923-  )

who participated in 1973's "The Day of the Jackal"

in which one of our favorite Watson's, Edward Hardwicke (1932-2011) had an uncredited part

So, there you have it, there you are.