Monday, June 30, 2014

Brad's summer reading list - #9 - ENGI - No longer two thumbs up.

The Engineers Thumb is one of my favorites.
Not because the case is all that great, after all, the only thing Holmes really did was figure out how far from town the house was. And even that required no extra energy from Holmes, because the fire proved to be the last pin needed on the map.
And if we really think about it, that is the only thing nearing a deduction that takes place in the whole story.
We had no parlor tricks as Holmes explains to Watson or Lestrade how such-and-such on a you-know-what, means that you-know-who did you-know-what.
There was not gathering of evidence or days of pursuing small leads.
The case is like Watson said, included for it's grotesque nature and not deductive puzzle.

Watson is not at Baker St. and is happily married to Mary, but Mary once again does not make an appearance and has no dialog.
He is doing well, and can afford a maid.
He keeps in contact with Holmes, but has his own life.
I love the fact that Holmes and Watson like bacon and eggs for breakfast. Well, we at least hope so, for that's what they got.
Mrs. Hudson is not mentioned, but we assume she is the one who cooked said breakfast.
The client seems to have a little more back bone than some we've seen.
And there are a few similarities to GREE. And HOUN as far as it goes with a woman trying to warn off one of our leads.

The thing I really like about ENGI is how there is so much other stuff you can investigate in the story.
And, as is important to me. . . . there is a beer connection.
And, almost as important, there is a personal connection to Queen Victoria, or at least her comfort, and it may even be argued, her privacy.

If you have followed this blog at all, you know finding a connection between Holmes and Watson and beer is important to me.

So, the case involves a young engineer who is hired to inspect an Hydraulic Machine, but comes to realize he has been lied to about the use for the machine.
And while trying to escape receives a grim wound. The reason Watson becomes involved, and then Sherlock.

But how you ask. . . "Does all this have to do with beer, Queen Victoria's comfort and privacy?"

Well, it all comes down to the reason young Mr. Hatherley became involved.
The hydraulic machine.

One of the founding fathers of Hydraulic Engineering and the Hydraulic Press was an Englishman named Joseph Bramah (1748-1814), a Yorkshire man.

Now, not being an engineer, I don't know if society could live without hydraulic machines or not.
But being a beer drinker, I know we can not live without the 'beer engine'.
It may be argued that the beer engine has done more (good or bad) for English society than the hydraulic press could ever do.
The beer engine is the device that allows beer to be drawn from it's cask and up and out to a glass. Joseph Bramah was important in the improvement of that device.
As if this man has not done enough to help in the creation of the Victorian world we love about Sherlock Holmes he does not rest on his laurels.

Nope. Just like the rest of us, he chooses to rest, at least from a period of time each day, on another part of his anatomy.
You see, Mr. Bramah was also an important mover in the world of toilets. He did not invent the flap that is now so common in commodes, but he did make it more common for his countrymen. No longer were our seats freezing in colder weather.
How, pray tell, does this involve the Queen?
Well, some of the water closets he helped develop were installed in the Queens estate at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. And they are still working to this day.
And if the Queen ever felt insecure about her privacy in the water closet she could have also installed a lock from Bramah's lock company.

What could be asked more of a man than to have helped in delivery of beer, relief from it's consumption and the possibility of privacy while doing so?

Like so many other cases of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, there are clues buried within.


Friday, June 27, 2014

The International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes will be coming to St. Louis!!!


Opening 10/09/2014 — St. Louis, MO

Thanks for the update Parallelogram

Just fount this out. Something to look forward to this fall.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Seven Degrees of Sherlock Holmes - #56 - up-and-comer Logan Lerman

Logan Lerman (1992)

was in 2000's big hit "Patriot"

which featured actor Tom Wilkinson (1948)

who was also in 1997's "Wilde"

which featured Sherlockian participants Jude Law

and Stephen Fry

So, there you have it, there you are.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Brad's summer reading list - #8 - The Man with the Twisted Lip (TWIS) Watson was missed more than we realize.

I like TWIS.

It has Mary, although she is never named.
Watson is married, but so far for just a short time.
They have a nice house with staff. Is Watson making good money or is Mary paying for it?

And it has another strong woman character.

It would be interesting to go back (yet another potential paper) and see how many shrinking violets (no pun intended) there are in the Canon. There are lots of men, noble and other wise, who crumble under the strain in one case or another. 
But how about the women. We don't find many, if any, who give up and just buckle under the pressure.
Well, except for maybe Katy Whitney. But she has after all been putting up with her husbands bad habits for a long time. But even her 'loss of self-control' is brief and no smelling salts are required.

But I think the key point to this case is how much Holmes missed and needed Watson. (As if we didn't already know that!)

One of the main things Holmes had always valued about Watson was his ability to remain silent, or as Holmes has recently commented, Watson's 'gift of silence'.
But it wasn't only that gift that was important, but also Watson's gift of being a good listener.

I think it could be said that Holmes was at his best when Watson was around as a sounding board for his ideas. Sometimes just saying something out load can clarify an idea, or even prove that the idea is not a good one.
And many times that was Watson's roll. Just having someone to say things out loud to would validate or cancel a conclusion for Holmes. Watson's comments were not even necessary most of the time.

But in TWIS Holmes does not have Watson as his filter, at least at the beginning,  and perhaps he then over thinks the problem of Neville St. Clair.
But once Watson finds Holmes (or is it the other way around) Holmes can once again verbally lay out his case and find or lose validation.
As we know, Watson may not be the light itself, but he at least proves to be the catalyst.

Oh, um, and it does have Mary.

And a reference to beer!

Brad's summer reading list - # 7- GREE

Once again, intrigue from a foreign land.
Mainly because I haven't the mental energy this morning to produce a work of even minor scholarly worth, I am going to suggest an inquiry instead. In other words; I am hoping someone with more mental energy than I will have a more scholarly answer.
But before we begin.

If for not other reason than this line, “Because my brother Mycroft possesses it in a larger degree than I do.”, GREE would forever find itself in the annals of Sherlock Holmes Canon.
In reality, for better or worse, this line and a few surrounding passages probably get more focus than anything else in this case. Mycroft appears or is mentioned in only four tales in the Canon. GREE is his introduction. And ever since then we Sherlockians have been trying to put a face on his personality and character, just like we have done with Holmes, Watson and many others in the stories.
(I actually like Stephen Fry as Mycroft in many ways in the RDJ movies.)

The story starts in Baker St. with Holmes and Watson after afternoon tea ( how many times do we hear that in the Canon?) discussing a variety of topics eventually coming around to how heredity effects ones talents or abilities. It not only sounds like an interesting conversation, but it is comforting to know that Holmes and Watson would at times just relax and enjoy each others company when not involved in a case. One of those minor things we may at times overlook.

It is during this conversation that Mycroft's name comes up. And although we hear very little of Mycroft as the cases go by, we are lead to believe at one time in GREE that the brothers may have more contact than we may first imagine.

But that's for another time. (A gasp goes up from my reading audience.)

What I am seeking today is answer to a question that has arisen from Brad's summer reading list.
And that is; Who many cases of Sherlock Holmes involve intrigue that is generated from some foreign country, either in it's participants or origin of the crime?
Just going over several of my favorites I find that most of them involve someone or something of a non-British nature.
It is interesting.
Anyone care to give me an informed or uninformed idea?

Friday, June 20, 2014

Brad's summer reading list - #6 - 3GAR

It just aint' right. 221b with a phone. Say it isn't so.

But it is.

Holmes has embraced the latest technology.

Although reminiscent of REDH the story does include some very fine things to make it an important addition to the Canon.

We can never forget the passage from Watson;
  “You’re not hurt, Watson? For God’s sake, say
that you are not hurt!” 
It was worth a wound—it was worth many wounds—to know the depth of loyalty and love which lay behind that cold mask. The clear, hard eyes were dimmed for a moment, and the firm lips were shaking. For the one and only time I caught a glimpse of a great heart as well as of a great brain.
All my years of humble but single-minded service
culminated in that moment of revelation."

That passage alone would always get this tale in the Sherlock Holmes hall-of-fame.

Further, Holmes and Watson are in Baker St.

Holmes seems to be very amiable.

The deductions are sound.

We learn of an Knighthood that Holmes turned down, once again proclaiming a case we will never read about. (Could it have had something to do with the most recent Boer War?)(Or a comment on Doyle's knighthood that took place around the time of this story?)

And indeed, the Boer War had just ended, the second one that is.

". . . Just ring him up, Watson.”

But that one line is just so out of place in our (my) perception of 221b and how things are (should be) done.

Which brings up, once again, a very good point.
We (I) tend to look at these tales as great stories from the Victorian era. Costume mysteries if you will.
When in actuality they were written as modern mysteries.
With Holmes possibly at the forefront of the use of modern tech. in criminal investigation.
Although the microscope was not new by this time, Holmes may have been one of the first students of crime to incorporate it in the deduction of crime. As was the case with much of the scientific work he did to solve cases. Modern forensics. And although we find it much more romantic for Holmes to send and receive telegraphs, he would probably adapt to the method of communication that got him the quickest results.

Many of our modern generation could hardly imagine having to wait for correspondence to come through the mail now a days. It would seem to slow. But most of my generation still clearly remember when we would have to actually mail a check and a response if we wanted to attend a Sherlockian convention some where.
Most of us would be hard pressed to find enough stamps to do that now.

Holmes was not the Luddite that I am at times, and probably quickly embraced 'modern' tech., especially as it may apply to his work.

However. . . .
We don't want light bulbs in 221b. But they were probably there.
We want Watson to pour water from a pitcher when he needs to shave. But at some time, they probably had plumbing plumbed in. (And we want Holmes to continue to tell Watson how bad a job he did at shaving because of bad lighting.)
And we could never bare the thought of Mrs. Hudson cooking on an electric range or using Tupperware.

Usually it is us who are trying to keep Holmes in 1895 and not Holmes himself.

It is clear that part of the failings in popularity in the Rathbone movies (at least for the modern Holmesian) is that most of the stories were brought up to what was then modern times, WW2. And they have not held up well in comparison. Probably due as much to bad writing as anything. But at least the Holmes in those movies 'dressed' the part (and Baker St. had a phone).
We see in many movies when Holmes is brought to modern times he doesn't hold up well when still wearing his Iverness and deerstalker.

'Sherlock' has so far handled that well, and will probably continue to do so.

But who can blame us for so completely wanting Holmes to stay in 1895. After all, weren't they better times?
We want them in that museum of crime solving.

It must be true, otherwise the great Vincent Starrett would never have written;

Here, though the world explode, these two survive,
And it is always eighteen ninety-five.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

This is kinda fun . . .

Another top ten list.

Brad's summer reading list number 5, BOSC

For me BOSC has Holmes at one of his best. And it doesn't hurt that once again Holmes and Watson are out of London.
Yea, I know, Holmes should be associated with London, and it is true that Holmes feels London is the place he truly needs to be. And it does suit him. But I sure do like it when he goes out of town. Being a Yorkshire man myself, I am more comfortable when Holmes is out of town.
Watson is still married and not living in Baker St., and this time Mary does get a part. Mary will always be for me the real Mrs. Watson.
What is nice about this mention of Mary is that she is actually at the table with Watson, unlike the last time we explored a similar setting.
We do not go to Baker St. at all in this tale. How many times does that happen?
But we do get trains and pipes and small hotels to make up for it. And we love our Sherlock Holmes and John Watson on trains.

 Part of the atmosphere we have come to expect.
Especially when they are on a train out of London to some small village or town.

Just like in BLUE we don't ever actually meet the accused man. Holmes is convinced of his innocence, so we must be okay with that.

Much like SIGN, amongst others, the case involves things that have happened in far off colonies of the realm.

We learn of a poet Holmes, if not actually likes, is at least reading. ( I had to look that one up.)

And he is at his best when inspecting the crime scene. Throwing himself on the ground, picking up leaves and grass and stones, and examining foot prints.

Again I am reminded, once Holmes is at Boscombe Pool, of a scene in 'Without a Clue'. The one where Watson and Holmes have arrived at Lake Windermere when our two heroes are looking for clues around the lake.

And again we find, like in BLUE that Holmes is willing to act as judge and jury in the case. And in this case it is much more extreme with Holmes actually allowing a murderer to go free. (Not just the murderer of McCarthy.)

And in this case we find that Lestrade is not the same footing with Holmes as he is eleven years later in SIXN. Holmes even goes so far as to say some not so very nice things about Lestrade.

And just for fun, look at the posture of Watson in the two SP illustrations. One of them is from BOSC.

I enjoyed BOSC, again.

How do you feel about the Baker Street Irregulars?

No, not the ones in the Canon of Sherlock Holmes, but the ones based in New York.

To most new Sherlockians, if they have heard of them at all, the BSI is sort of the governing body of all things society-wise and scholarly in the American world of Sherlock Holmes. You are lead to believe, and not necessarily by them, that your society is not really a viable club unless it is recognized as a scion of the BSI.
All of us now know that we can have just as much fun with Holmes without such recognition.
The recognition doesn't really get your club anything other than maybe passing the knowledge of your existence onto other subscribers to their august journal. That possibility was more important before the advent of the world wide web. And to be fair, it did act as the conduit of information.

Probably to most serious Sherlockians (and you can decide what serious means) to be recognized and invited to join the BSI is almost akin to getting a PHD in Sherlock Holmes from an American Ivy League college (even if it is just an honorary degree). To be recognized by your peers as being knowledgeable and equal. Who doesn't at some times find that important.

At some point in most Sherlockians Sherlockian lives we hope that is an obtainable goal someday.

Most of the time the quest for this goal is encouraged by older Sherlockians who found that to be a notable achievement to obtain. (Yes, some of them would of course have been members.)
Some people, usually the ones more suited to scholarly and written works, spend a lot of worthwhile effort trying to achieve that goal. Sometimes making it, and sometimes not.
Others hope that the recognition can come for some other form of Sherlockian contribution. (That is where the path would lay for yours truly).

As the years go by, for many, the interest in that lofty achievement wains. We no longer have the time or desire to continue that pursuit, or we don't really understand what it would take to get invited.

And than we realize we are having fun anyway.

I don't really have any problems with the BSI. If the people involved with it like it, find it important to them and it is maintaining the goals and standards they enjoy, I think it is great. Not every thing has to be for everyone.
I don't know the history of the BSI that well. I don't know if how it is now is the way Morley would have liked it. But it is no longer his to run, is it?
The BSI has to decide for itself if maintaining the way it is now is achieving it's goals or if they need to change.
Like many scion societies now, it may be having trouble keeping up in a more tech savvy world where clubs and organizational structures are different. But then again, it may not be having that problem.

Sure, I would love to be recognized by the BSI for something note worthy I do in the world of Sherlock Holmes (which is never going to be of the scholarly nature), after all, they are my more knowledgeable peers.
But, even though I give it a try every once in a while, to be honest, the Baker Street Journal is usually way over me head.
But then again, I enjoy just as much being recognized by The John W. Watson Society and by readers that follow this blog.

Should Oscars by important to actors?

The roll of the BSI has really changed in the last twenty years now that everyone can self-publish just about anything they want on Sherlock Holmes.

But why should the BSI change if it is working for them and those involved. They are after all not doing anything any different than some more modern groups. And the structure of the society may suit (most) of it's members just fine.
The level of that importance we must weigh for ourselves.
Will the Bakers Street Babes ever have a male member? And should they?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Seven Degrees of Sherlock Holmes - #55 - Ruby Dee

The  incomparable Ruby Dee (1922 - 2014)

had a part in a film called "The Tall Target" - 1951

which also featured non-Nordic actor Leif Erickson (1911-1986)

who took part in 1942's "Eagle Squadron"

which featured the Watson that set the standard for many years, Nigel Bruce (1895-1953)

An interesting side note about Eagle Squadron;

The film began as a documentary, with the cooperation with the British Ministry of Information, on real Eagle Squadron pilots. The film's producers identified six that would serve as the focus of the film. The squadron continued to fight during filming in Britain in summer 1941, however, and after six weeks all six men were dead. Producer Walter Wanger relocated the production to Hollywood and rewrote the script into a fictional story about an American volunteer learning to understand the British. source, wikipedia

On a more personal note. My dad, while stationed with the RAF, did some work with the Eagle Squadron.

I am not vouching for their accuracy, just putting it out there. Most of us know this stuff, right?

Arthur Conan Doyle: 19 things you didn't know

Sherlock Holmes's creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle embraced football, fairies and public feuds. Here are 19 things that you may not know about the writer

Arthur Conan Doyle, writer of Sherlock Holmes
1. Doyle was one of the earliest motorists in Britain
He reportedly bought a car without ever having driven one before. In 1911, he took part in the Prince Henry Tour, an international road competition organised by Prince Henry of Prussia to pit British cars against German ones. Doyle paired up with his second wife, Jean, as one of the British driving teams.
2. Conan is not part of his surname
It is, in fact, only one of his two middle names. He is Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle. Shortly after he graduated from high school he began using Conan as part of his surname
3. He wasn't knighted for his fiction
In 1902, the writer was knighted by King Edward VII. He was also appointed a Deputy-Lieutenant of Surrey. However, he wasn't knighted for having created Sherlock Holmes. He was made a knight for his work on a non-fiction pamphlet regarding the Boer War.
4. Doyle was on the same cricket team as Peter Pan writer JM Barrie
They also worked together on a comic opera, Jane Annie, which Barrie begged his friend to revise and finish for him.
5. He could have discussed Dracula and Treasure Island with their authors
Doyle was also friends with Bram Stoker, and Robert Louis Stevenson was a fellow classmate at the University of Edinburgh.
6. He helped to popularise skiing
He not only liked cricket and football, but Doyle helped to popularise the winter sport. Following a move to Davros, Switzerland in 1893 (the mountain air was prescribe to aid his wife’s health), he mastered the basics with the help of the Brangger brothers, two locals who had taken to practising the sport after dark to avoid being teased by the townsfolk. Together, they were the first people to make the 8,000ft pass through the Maienfelder Furka, which separated Davos from the neighbouring town of Arosa. Doyle was also the first Englishman to document the thrill of skiing: “You let yourself go,” he said. “Getting as near to flying as any earthbound man can. In that glorious air it is a delightful experience.” Doyle correctly predicted that in the future hundreds of Englishmen would come to Switzerland for the “skiing season”.

Conan Doyle was the first to bring skiing from Scandinavia to Switzerland
7. He was a goalie
Under the pseudonym AC Smith, the writer played as a goalkeeper for amateur side Portsmouth Association Football Club, a precursor of the modern Portsmouth FC.
8. Doyle ran for parliament... twice!
Doyle ran for parliament (representing the Unionist Party) once in Edinburgh (in 1900) and once in the Border Burghs (in 1906). Although he received a respectable vote both times he was not elected. In the 1900 general election, Doyle was defeated by CM Brown of the Liberal Party, who received 3,028 votes against 2,459 cast for Doyle.
9. He was too fat to fight
The reason why he couldn’t become a soldier in the Boer War was because he was overweight. Instead, he volunteered as a ship's doctor and sailed to Africa.
10. Ophthalmology's loss was literature's gain
Arthur Conan Doyle set up an ophthalmology practice in London. Doyle wrote in his autobiography that not a single patient ever crossed his door. Although, the silver lining was that he could dedicate his time to writing.
11. He believed in fairies
Sherlock might have been a sceptic but Arthur Conan Doyle believed in fairies. Well, he was convinced by the Cottingley Fairy photographs, the famous 1917 hoax. He even spent a million dollars promoting them and wrote a book, The Coming of the Fairies (1921), on their authenticity.

One of the Cottingley Fairies photographs, taken by Elsie Wright (15) and her cousin Frances Griffiths, which caused a storm in 1917
12. And also believed in a number of mediums
But this came at the cost of his friendship with Harry Houdini, who at the same time was trying to disprove the claims of the Spiritualist movement.
13. Why he killed off his most famous creation?
Sherlock Holmes was far from being Doyle’s own favourite character and was killed off in 1893, only to be resurrected 10 years later after public demand and monetary persuasion. He had earlier told a friend: "I couldn't revive him if I would, at least not for years, for I have had such an overdose of him that I feel towards him as I do towards pâté de foie gras, of which I once ate too much, so that the name of it gives me a sickly feeling to this day." However, there may have been other reasons for the writer killing off his famous creation, as it happened in the same year that Doyle’s alcoholic father died in an asylum.
14. He shares his birthday with Wagner
As well as composer Richard Wagner, Doyle also shares his birthday (22 May) with actor Laurence Olivier, singer Morrissey, model Naomi Campbell and tennis player Novak Djokovic.
15. Doyle and George Bernard Shaw had a spat about the Titanic
After the Titanic sank in 1912, Doyle and George Bernard Shaw had a very public disagreement about the disaster. Doyle was outraged by the dismissive and bitter comments made by the playwright regarding the many acts of heroics that took place aboard the ship as it went down.
16. There's a square in Switzerland named after him
The town of Meiringen in Switzerland was the location of The Adventure of the Final Problem, the novel in which the author killed the detective off. In 1988, a statue of Sherlock Holmes was placed in the village square, now named Conan Doyle Place.

A sign marking the Conan Doyle Square in the town of Meiringen
17. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle didn't just write mysteries, he actually solved a few
One of particular interest to him was The Curious Case of Oscar Slater - for the murder of Marion Gilchrist, a wealthy 82-year-old woman from Glasgow. Doyle applied the “Holmes method”, in which he uncovered new evidence, recalled witnesses and questioned the prosecution's evidence. His findings were published as a plea for Slater's pardon. It caused a sensation and there were calls for a retrial, but all this was promptly ignored by the Scottish authorities. The desperate and incarcerated Slater later smuggled messages out of prison and Doyle's interest in the case was reignited. He wrote to politicians and used his own money to fund Slater's legal fees. One politician, Ramsay McDonald - Britain's first Labour prime minister - informed the Scottish Secretary that the police and the legal authorities had colluded to withhold evidence and influence witnesses. Slater was subsequently released from prison with £6,000 compensation but never shared it with Doyle.
18. Doyle died holding a flower
Doyle died on July 7, 1930. He collapsed in his garden, clutching his heart with one hand and holding a flower in the other. His last words were to his wife. He whispered to her: “You are wonderful.”
19. A séance was organised for him to make an appearance from beyond the grave
Following his death, a séance was conducted at the Royal Albert Hall. Thousands attended, including his wife and children. A row of chairs were arranged on the stage for the family, with one left empty for Sir Arthur. Even though he did not appear, there were many people in the audience who claimed they had felt his presence among them.

Friday, June 13, 2014


It is interesting to note an article on modern forensics shares space in an issue of the Strand dated 1904 with a Sherlock Holmes story.

Detective at School.

Again, you may have to scroll down a bit to find it.


The Adventure of the Six Napoleons - Brad's summer reading number 4 - What would you have done?

SIXN is a fun story.
Both Holmes and Watson are in Baker St.
Lestrade is now on really good terms with the duo, seemly stopping by for pleasant evenings quite often.
Holmes is almost jocular.
Watson is, well, Watson.

The case is fun and interesting. Most of us believe Holmes had most of it solved before he even left Baker St., with just some of the details missing.
We find Holmes and Watson sharing meals, and at times sharing them with Lestrade.
It is how we picture the world revolving around 221b. (And Watson is looking very young in this SP illustration.)

And just like BLUE, the case ends up involving a gem.
(As do several other tales in the Canon).

But it dose share at least one other similarity with BLUE.
And that is the gem is actually in the possession of another before Holmes finds it.
In BLUE the stone is found by that other person, Peterson, then brought to Holmes.
In SIXN Holmes discovers the location and acquires the stone without ever telling the other person.

In a past re-rendering of an SP illustration, I have made fun of how much of the reward commissionaire Peterson receives for actually finding the carbuncle and always wondered if Peterson actually ever saw any of the reward. It is never mentioned and we are left to guess.

Much the same thing happens again in SIXN. Once Mr. Sanderford relinquishes his copy of the statue Holmes has complete command of the reward. Yes, Mr. Sanderford does receive ten pounds, a goodly profit on his purchase (and ten pounds could buy more back then than it does now!) for the statue, but he does not get to participate in the complete story. He gets no chance to make the right decision as to the proper return of stolen object.
Would it be like buy something at a garage sale for one dollar, knowing the full value is in the thousands, and not telling the owner? Or is it the fault of the owner for not knowing the real value?

Just like in BLUE, Holmes takes on the full responsibility and judgement of the reward (if there is one).

Now, it could be argued that Sanderford would never have known about the stone, so therefore was fairly treated. But once the story did reach the press (or the Strand), the truth would have come out.
Could Holmes not have explained the reason for the purchase at a higher amount to Mr. Sanderford?
And why did he feel the need to get in writing a note saying Sanderford gave up all claim (he didn't do it in BLUE), especially since Mr. Sanderford was so honest with Holmes about his purchase price? Had Holmes had a problem along these lines once before?

But in BLUE, Peterson does know of the gem and yet never once asks about a reward for finding it and turning it over to Holmes.

As we Play the Game we come to realize that we will never know answers to many of our question, and that many things take place after our involvement in the stories.
But it is still an interesting point to ponder.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The size of the world's great cities.

While reading my summer reading list in Project Gutenberg I came across this interesting piece, in the Strand Magazine dated 1904
"The Size of the World's Great Cities"

You may have to scroll down a few stories to find it.

This wonderful illustration is also in that issue.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone - Brad's summer reading list number 3 - we sure miss Watson.

When I first started re-reading this tale for this review, the first thought that came to mind, as Billy ( imagine Charlie Chaplin ) was detailing the comings and goings of the individuals connected to the story, was one of the scenes in that wonderful comedy "Without a Clue". You know the scene; the one with the Prime Minister, the director of the Exchequer and Lestrade, where only one individual actually thinks Holmes (Watson in this case) should take on the job. One thinks he shouldn't and that he (Lestrade) is better qualified to do it, and one has no opinion at all.

It could be argued that MAZA should not be included in the Canon ( a point I would make), and not because it was written in third person. Not written originally as a case for publication but for the theater, the story reads as such. All the dialog and movements are such that it could easily be done on a stage again tomorrow.
The story takes place in only one room, with before unmentioned secret doors. The plot incorporates props (the wax bust, mention of an air gun, blackmail and murder of old women) from other stories as well as personalities. Even some of the wonderful Sherlockian quotes seem re-written and reused from other stories.
And the plot is also contrived from other tales.

And several noted Sherlockians would argue that Doyle (Watson) did not write the tale.

It would best be argued that Doyle was pressed for time at some publication date and resurrected "The Crown Diamond" for quick publication.

I doubt it ever made any one's top ten list.

You can, however, buy this wonderful copy at amazon for $450.00.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Adventure of the Stockbroker's Clerk - Brad's summer reading list number 2

There are so many great little tidbits in STOC that even if you don't find the case a good one, there is plenty of material for any number of presentations.

The first being Watson is no longer at Baker St., he is married and he has set up in practice.
Just within the first paragraph are at least three topics that a good presentation could be formed around.

And then it just gets better.

The second paragraph offers at least two topics, along with a couple areas for supposition.

We find Watson at home, having just finished breakfast, either on his day off or waiting for his mornings clients to arrive.

Holmes arrives in the room, seemingly unannounced, in an, also seemingly, jovial mode. He briefly asks about Mary, which is suggestive in itself. From this opening conversation we can surmise that Mrs. Watson did not greet Holmes at the door (otherwise he would have asked Mary how she was doing) and that the Watson's must either employ a maid or the good doctor has a page boy handling the front door. A maid would indicate it was Watson's day off, a page would indicate time before clients. But we will never know.
The fact that Watson leaves a note for his neighbor would suggest the latter.
Another thing suggesting a working mornings would be Mary's absence from the breakfast table. Surely on a day off Mary would join Watson for breakfast and perhaps they would linger over coffee for a little while.

And although we have this little exchange of greetings, for the most part Holmes gets straight down to business. (Matter of fact, it comes right after Holmes asks about Mary.)

Holmes next inquiry into Watson's well being only comes after he has deduced Watson is up for more adventures.

As we have become accustomed to, we than have Holmes regale us with some fine deductions, which in this case seem rather superfluous for Holmes then once again returns to getting Watson to come along with him on the case he is involved with.

Holmes must have been pretty sure of Watson's situation before he arrived unannounced. (Suggesting he is keeping an eye on his good friend?)  Either that, or Holmes, on the way to the train station, was just going on an off chance Watson would be available.

After these deductions we then meet Mr. Hall Pycroft. Between Watson's description of Mr. Pycroft's dress, manner and speech we could easily come up with several other papers for presentation.
We are told Mr. Pycroft is probably from the cockney (within the sounds of Bow-bells) region of London, and his speech and dress suggest a modern young man. The paragraph describing Hall Pycroft also suggests the respect Watson holds for people of the area and his love of sports.
In the narrative that follows the introductions, one could easily do a paper on the Cockney language and on the words used by youth of a modern (Victorian) London.

Other interesting items that could provide papers are the business names used in the story and the addresses given.
Addresses from the location of Watson's office and home, to the addresses given by Mr. Pycroft.

The case is, at least for me, more about the things it doesn't say, than the things it does.

And although many of the cases end rather quickly, with little in the way of farewells, this case seems to end even more so with no glad tidings between our duo.

More readable for what is not present, than for what is.

Monday, June 9, 2014

I'm Baaaaack! and not a moment to soon. . .

. . . . and will be catching up with Brad's summer reading list here shortly.
But in the mean time. . .

While posting on my Loghead blog page about one of my favorite summer beverages, The Shandy, I came across an unlikely Sherlockian connection.
I always love when I find some connection between Sherlock Holmes and beer, and have many times made that the theme of my presentations.

This time the connection comes from Mr. BSI himself ( no, not Brad ) Mr. Christopher Morley;

In a 1918 compendium of essays collected, appropriately enough, under the title Shandygaff, the American novelist and poet Christopher Morley wrote, "[It's] a very refreshing drink…commonly drunk by the lower classes in England, and by…newspaper men, journalists, and prizefighters."  source

And I fit perfectly into his described demographic.

It is quite common to order one in a pub in the UK and not get any raised eye-brows.

Over here in the US, my family has been responsible for teaching many bartenders our recipe.

There are several breweries over here in the US that now bottle a summer brew called the Shandy.