Thursday, September 24, 2015

Arthur and George - Second Impressions . . . .

I have now watched the first two installments of 'Arthur and George' and am so far enjoying it very much.

Probably more so because it is not a Sherlockain adaptation, where I would be examining it on its Canonical merit.

This however I can sit back and enjoy as a fictional accounting of a real event in Doyle's life.

The lead actors are doing a good job and are believable in there roles.
The sets are still wonderful and it seems like great care was put into the production.
The portrayal of Doyle and his private life are interesting and make one want to go out and do more reading. And if I walk away from any show wanting to know more, I consider it a success.

I find the Sherlockian references when they come along add a little humour to the show. I especially liked George's sisters dialog with Doyle in the garden pertaining to footprints.

I am hoping to hear Doyleockians take on the show for it's faithfulness to Doyle and his thoughts on whether of not he thinks Edlaji was innocent or not.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Arthur and George, first impressions. . . .

I started watching the PBS mini-series last night "Arthur and George".

I must admit that I went into expecting to have to change the characters names, at least mentally, from Arthur and Alfred to Holmes and Watson.
I half expected the presentation to be another story about the great detective, just with different names.
I was pleasantly surprised that turned out not to be the case.

I am sure plenty of artistic license was taken with both the story and the individuals portrayed, but, unless you must have your historical dramas completly accurate, it didn't seem to detract from the entertainment value of the show.

Just like Holmes we all have an image of how Doyle should be portrayed. Unlike Holmes, we actually do know what Doyle looked like at the time this part of his life took place.

That however doesn't take away for the excellent job Martin Clunes is doing with the portrayal of Doyle. He is convincing as Doyle during this time period and is fun to watch without making the portrayal seem like an attempt at Holmes.

Although I have no idea what Alfred Wood looked like or how he was, I do feel Charles Edwards is doing well with the character and makes him very likeable

Arsher Ali is probably playing George a little less ethnically than the real Edalji's picture would suggest, but, so far, is doing a good job in the roll.

The sets, as always with a Masterpiece presentation, are excellent, as are the costumes.

A major compliment I can give the production is; If it were not for references within the show of Doyle being the creator of Sherlock Holmes you would forget there was a Sherlockian connection. And I see that as good if you were expecting a non-Sherlockian story. You forget, when allowed, about Holmes, and just sit back and enjoy the story.

Like many such shows, the recording of history and known facts does not allow for stories like this to be complelty accurate, which is a shame. It did however force the judical system of the time to be changed, and that is good.

I am looking forward to the other episodes.

Friday, September 18, 2015

What's in a name. . . .?

To go along with my post about the census report on the name Sherlock Holmes, Meghashyam Chirravoori offered us even more info here.

Thanks Meghashyan.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Someone else thought the name was good enough. . . .

Story here.

Mycroft Holmes - Will it be a slam dunk?

Why Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Loves Sherlock Holmes—and Frank Kaminsky

He co-wrote a novel about Holmes' brother Mycroft. He has yet to write a novel about Kaminsky's brother—but we wouldn't put it past him

There's no stopping Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Not only is he one of the greatest basketball players of all time, he's also an actor, a cultural ambassador, a critic, and an author. Whether he's penning critical op-eds of Donald Trump or reviewing Lena Dunham's Girls, Abdul-Jabbar is an interesting, thoughtful guy with a lot to say. I set out to speak to him about his newest book, a novel he wrote with Anna Waterhouse called Mycroft Holmes about Sherlock Holmes' older brother (available September 25). But as is often the case with Kareem, he had a lot of interesting thoughts on many different topics.
What attracted you to Mycroft's story, as opposed to that of his more famous younger brother Sherlock?
Well, I think Mycroft has a different approach to life. And it has to do with what has happened to him personally, because he's so different from Sherlock in the way he lives. He's an overweight, sedentary recluse in the Arthur Conan Doyle stories. He doesn't go anyplace but his club, his offices at the British Foreign Office, and his apartments. But he does amazing things, to the point that Sherlock says, "He is the British Government." He doesn't get around much, but he still can help and support Sherlock when Sherlock needs another keen mind on something. And that's fascinating to me. Who is this guy? I felt there was a huge opportunity to find him and learn what he's about and why he is the way he is.
Where do you rank the different portrayals of Sherlock and Watson? Who's your Sherlock? Who's your Watson?
Sherlock is Jeremy Brett. If you haven't seen [his performances], you have to. Brett really gets Sherlock in his prime. Those shows really captured the time visually and he was a perfect Late Victorian, Early Edwardian gentleman. He really nailed it.
As for Watson, the ones with Basil Rathbone made him into a buffoon. But really he's more like he is in the Cumberbatch series. He's a combat doctor who served in the Army in Afghanistan and is very capable. He's more or less Holmes' forensics guy and when necessary, he's a little bit of muscle too. The way Jude Law portrays Watson in the Robert Downey movies is like that as well. He's a keen intellect and Sherlock's friend and partner. That's what I think Arthur Conan Doyle wanted Watson to be.

There are so many adaptations of this material happening at the moment. What do you think it is about our modern world that the Holmes mythology seems to be tapping into?
You know, look at all that's happened with The Innocence Project. They're finding all these people innocent due to DNA evidence. People who have had eye witnesses swear they saw them committing crimes, have been found to have been innocent because of DNA years later. And so someone like Holmes who knows how to get it right, and understands the balance between justice and revenge and really differentiates between the two. That's an ideal that we all want our legal system to live up to. To punish those who need to be punished and exonerate those who need to be exonerated.

"The way Jude Law portrays Watson in the Robert Downey movies—that's what I think Arthur Conan Doyle wanted Watson to be."
Your role as cultural critic is one you've taken to well, so I have to ask—are there TV shows or movies that get the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar seal of approval?
I enjoyed Mr. Holmes with Ian McKellen a lot. I thought it was extraordinary to deal with Sherlock Holmes so late in his life.
I'm obsessed with Ray Donovan right now. I just keep wondering where it's going. It's all over the place, but I've enjoyed it.
I didn't think this year's True Detectivewas as good as last year's, but I didn't think it was that bad at all. The first year was just a hard act to follow.
I, of course, have to ask a couple basketball questions. There have been so many eulogies for the Big Man in today's NBA. Do you buy that small ball spells doom for centers as we once knew them?
Well, I really enjoyed Golden State this year. The New York Times referred to them as the Count Basie Band. I thought that was a great analogy. I got a kick out of that. But guys that can shoot that well... It's pretty amazing. I mean, I saw that Stephen Curry shot 100 three pointers and he made 94 including 77 in a row at practice. That's extraordinary. When you have that type of skill, it changes the game.
But there will always be a place for somebody who can play in the pivot and score with his back to the basket. That's a very valuable skill because you're getting a high percentage shot. If you can play the game so that you're consistently getting looks six to eight feet from the basket, and you can make that shot like I was able to make my hook shot, then you will be a very valuable asset to a team, because it will put a different type of pressure on the defense.
Are there any young big guys whose games you like?
I really like Frank Kaminsky. I think he's going to do well. I liked his commitment to his college team and his ability to be versatile. He can play with his back to the basket and he can go out to the three-point line and be a problem there too. That type of versatility is nice to see.
Okay and finally, I just have to ask. How many times a week do people quoteAirplane to you?
Jeez. Really only a couple of times a year. You know, I still work a lot. I travel through airports, and so it happens every now and then. It's usually pilots. It seems like they've all watched that film.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Many Resurrections of Sherlock Holmes - What do you think?

The Many Resurrections of Sherlock Holmes

Why the Great Detective is always in fashion

On a recent trip to London, I stood outside the Sherlock Holmes Museum at 221B Baker Street for three and a half hours in the rain. (I do understand the concept of opportunity cost, I swear. The wait wasn't just worth it; it turned out to be part of the fun. And this from someone who usually approaches long lines with all the zen of a Chihuahua on its third espresso.) Just ahead of me, a Japanese mother and teenage daughter adjusted their deerstalker caps and stood their ground with firm determination while the rest of their party appeared periodically to try to tempt them away to other sightseeing. Just behind me, a family from the North of England served as a patient audience while their youngest member, a tween boy, deconstructed every scene featuring Moriarty in the BBC's hit seriesSherlock as compared to the character's appearances in Arthur Conan Doyle's canonical writings.
Even the heterogeneity and perseverance of my fellow Sherlockians didn't prepare me for the most compelling item in the museum, however: a simple cork bulletin board where visitors had posted handwritten personal messages and drawings for the Great Detective by the dozens, layers deep, in many different languages. The docents had their hands full clearing away the loving tributes to make room for more.
Guinness World Records announced in 2012 that Sherlock Holmes holds the distinction of being the "most portrayed literary human character" in television and film worldwide. And it's true, we enjoy an embarrassment of riches in the Holmes department these days: Ian McKellen in the movie Mr. Holmes, Robert Downey Jr. in the Guy Ritchie film franchise, Jonny Lee Miller in Elementary in the United States, Benedict Cumberbatch in the BBC's Sherlock, and even Vidar Magnussen from the Norwegian sketch comedy showUnderholdningsavdelingen's parodies of Sherlock.
In fact, 21st century Holmesian multimedia storytelling is in full swing, from anime to pastiche novels to interactive games. Holmes and Watson have been uploaded to computers and upgraded to cyborgs, queered and genderswapped, sent to alternate universes and shot into space. The Great Detective may never have been so popular on a global scale as he is this minute.
Why do we continue to resurrect and reinterpret Sherlock Holmes? Why do we stand in line for hours at a time at Baker Street in the rain? Surely there must be a reason. Or perhaps four.
Reason 1: Because We Are the New Victorians
Scottish physician Arthur Conan Doyle brought life to Sherlock Holmes in 1887's A Study in Scarlet. Over the course of four novels and 56 short stories, Holmes became a symbol of the London in which he thrived. From our vantage point, his gas-lit, fog-bound haunts may appear cozy and quaint, but in reality Holmes' setting represented a world buffeted by rapid change.
Victorian Brits faced issues that are easily recognizable to us today, from fears of economic recession and unemployment to political debates over the immigration of populations speaking different languages and worshipping different gods than the mainstream. The specter of Russian anarchists and Irish nationalists brought about a domestic war on terror as well. And as the era drew to a close, older generations publicly bemoaned the dumbing down of mass culture and degeneration of personal morality they perceived all around them.
As Michael L. Paterson ably reminds us in A Brief History of Life in Victorian Britain: A Social History of Queen Victoria's Reign, the Victorian era also saw the handwritten letter give way to the telegram and the telegram to the telephone call. In Paterson's words, "Like the Victorians we are constantly in thrall to innovation and to new technology, taking for granted things that only a decade ago seemed like scientific fantasy." Invention meant advancement, of course, but in the short term it also spelled future shock for many. Sound familiar?
For that matter, revolutions in transportation and production and other aspects of daily life yielded free time and disposable income for the middle class. Good things, to be sure, but as Paterson explains, "The more people could do, the more they sought to do, and thus the greater the stress they put on themselves—a notion that is considered equally true of our own time."
In short, the Victorians lived (as we do) through one game-changing moment after another. They craved (as we do) someone who did not fear the future but instead embraced and embodied progress. They wanted (as we do) a voice to remind them that what looked to be overwhelming chaos and incomprehensible change was actually a discoverable, understandable, and exciting world, one in which an individual could make a difference.
And make a difference he did. In the novels and stories, Holmes makes a difference to those who seek his assistance, many of whom reflect the era's most powerless and disenfranchised groups. In real life he made a difference as well. E.J. Wagner's The Science of Sherlock Holmes discusses how the Great Detective inspired a generation of forensic scientists in the same way Star Trek later would inspire a generation of engineers and astronauts. Holmes anticipated and helped to introduce many developments in the field that we take for granted today, such as the preservation and examination of crime scenes.
"You know my methods. Apply them," Holmes exhorts in The Sign of the Four. And here lies one of the keys to Holmes' longevity. His genius may set him apart, but Holmes' methods are available to us all. No wand waving or superhuman powers are needed. Conan Doyle's primary model for Holmes—Dr. Joseph Bell, a famed lecturer at the medical university in Edinburgh, Scotland—impressed his students with his significant powers of observation and skills in deduction. In an essay called "Mr. Holmes," Bell notes that the Great Detective's methods, based on his own, "are at once so obvious, when explained, and so easy, once you know them, that the ingenious reader at once feels, and says to himself, I also could do this...I will keep my eyes open, and find out things." How reassuring, not to mention empowering. It's no wonder the Victorians responded to this message or that we do today.
Reason 2: Because Max Weber Would Approve
The upheavals and changes experienced by the Victorians signaled that big-m Modernity was here to stay. The German philosopher, sociologist, and political economist Max Weber famously noted that this modernity brought with it the two-edged sword of rationalism: On the one hand, it freed people from the confines of pointless traditions, but on the other, it restricted individual freedom, trapping people like cogs in a dehumanizing machine. This ultrarational, secular, bureaucratic, controlling modernity, in Weber's view, produced disenchantment—the loss of meaning and wonder and creativity.
Enter one Sherlock Holmes.
Michael Saler, in his study of early fan communities (beginning with the innovative and unprecedented fandom surrounding the Great Detective) titled As If: Modern Enchantment and the Literary Prehistory of Virtual Reality, observes that Sherlock Holmes represents an older, more liberating concept of rationality, one that can be traced to the concept of cognition discussed by figures such as the Scottish Enlightenment's David Hume. This concept blends reason with imagination, unites science with art, and, Saler argues, possesses the power to re-enchant the disenchanted.
Saler calls this marriage of reason and imagination "animistic reason." Edgar Allan Poe called it ratiocination, and he used it to fuel literature's first star detective, C. Auguste Dupin of "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" (1841), "The Mystery of Marie Roget" (1842), and "The Purloined Letter" (1844) fame. Conan Doyle was a wholehearted Poe fanboy and viewed Holmes as Dupin's intellectual heir. That is why Dr. Watson tells Holmes in their very first adventure, A Study in Scarlet, "You remind me of Edgar Allan Poe's Dupin." (Holmes, of course, claims that he is superior. He would.) That is also why, over a century later, a portrait of Edgar Allan Poe hangs in Sherlock's Baker Street bedroom in the BBC's Sherlock (see "A Scandal in Belgravia"). And that is why Conan Doyle used Sherlock Holmes to personify Poe's idea of ratiocination.
Through ratiocination, Holmes reinfuses meaning into everyday experience in a way that is harmonious with modern secularism and reason—or, as Saler explains, "Holmes demonstrated how the modern world could be re-enchanted through means entirely consistent with modernity." Holmes teaches us that we must see and observe. The mundane is important. The fact that "the dog did nothing in the night-time" is in truth "a curious incident" (as readers discover in "Silver Blaze"). Or, as Holmes says in "A Case of Identity," "Depend on it, there is nothing so unnatural as the commonplace."

In place of such dehumanization and disenchantment, Holmes challenges us to examine our assumptions, question prevailing narratives, and find marvels in the ordinary. A physician and Holmes fan put it this way in a letter to the magazine
 Tit-Bits in 1894: The stories of the Great Detective "make many a fellow who before felt little interest in his life and daily surroundings, think that after all there may be much more in life, if he keeps his eyes open, than he has ever dreamed of in his philosophy." Here is some of the meaning and wonder and creativity that Weber feared modernity had lost.The narrow, instrumental rationality employed by those enemies of freedom, modern bureaucrats, misses what is important in the same way that the Scotland Yarders of Conan Doyle's tales, diligent but devoid of imagination, miss the clues that solve each case. Holmes, on the other hand, uses his imagination and, in doing so, liberates us. We are not cogs in a machine but actors with agency in a world of fascination. In his essay "Sherlock Holmes vs. the Bureaucrat," Sherlockian Marshall McLuhan asserts that the "ordinary man finds a hero in Holmes and in his numerous descendants because the bureaucrat is always putting a finger on each of us in a way which makes us feel like Kafka characters."
Reason 3: Because We Grok Spock
Sherlock Holmes was a sexy nerd before sexy nerds were cool. Modern science fiction had been around nearly 70 years (going back to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein) when Holmes came onto the literary scene, but he instantly became a poster boy for the science-fictional sensibility. This is not surprising. Conan Doyle wrote science fiction works before, during, and after writing his Holmesian canon, and several of the Holmes tales themselves ("The Devil's Foot" and "The Creeping Man," for example) are straight-up science fiction stories.
Our (and Dr. Watson's) first introduction to Holmes in A Study in Scarlet sets the tone. Holmes is in a lab at St. Bart's Hospital surrounded by Bunsen burners. "'I've found it! I've found it,' he shouted to my companion, running towards us with a test-tube in his hand," Watson recounts. "I have found a re-agent which is precipitated by hoemoglobin [yes, this is the original spelling], and by nothing else.' Had he discovered a gold mine, greater delight could not have shone upon his features." Here is Holmes in the setting of the scientist displaying the zeal of the scientist. He is one of the first and best cerebral heroes; his goal isn't to conquer the planet or thwart the villain or get the girl—it is simply to know.
Ryan Britt in "Sherlock Holmes and the Science Fiction of Deduction" (from the November 2010 issue of Clarkesworld Magazine) explains it this way: "Like a science fiction writer, Doyle seemed to start with the premise of 'what if?' Instead of a detective who arrived at the answers through intuition or moxy, Doyle asserted a different premise with the Holmes stories—what if the detective discovers the answers scientifically? What kind of adventures might he have?" Holmes certainly has had many adventures, in part because as science fiction grows more mainstream and ubiquitous, so too does Holmes.
Some of the luminaries of the genre, in fact, have edited or contributed to collections of Holmes-related science fiction, such as Sherlock Holmes through Space and Time (edited by Isaac Asimov, Martin Greenberg, and Charles Waugh), Sherlock in Orbit (edited by Mike Resnick and Martin Greenberg), and The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (edited by John Joseph Adams). For that matter, a whole subgenre has appeared that sets Sherlock Holmes in the eldritch universe created by H.P. Lovecraft, an author of cosmic fiction who refuses to let being dead for almost 80 years get in the way of his ever-expanding popularity. Entire collections focus on the Holmes-Lovecraft mashup. One of the most elegant works in this key-Neil Gaiman's "A Study in Emerald," which imagines how A Study in Scarlet might have unfolded in an alternate "Albion" ruled by Lovecraft's Great Old Ones-won two of science fiction's highest honors, the Hugo and Locus awards.
Science fiction's celebration of Holmes doesn't end with the written word. The animated seriesSherlock Holmes in the Twenty-Second Century takes audiences to the future, complete with a returned-through-cellular-rejuvenation Sherlock Holmes, compudroid Watson, and cloned Moriarty. The episodes adapt Conan Doyle's original stories reasonably well—but with more flying cars. Obviously.
What's more, Holmes appears in two of the most long-lived and successful franchises in science fiction media history, thus raising his visibility, relevance, and cool factor even as he bestows credibility, depth, and gravitas. Doctor Who has employed Holmes in several ways. The Fourth Doctor invoked Holmes while pursuing his own investigations, going so far as to don the deerstalker. Holmes and Watson together appear more than once in officially sanctioned Whonovels related to the Seventh Doctor. And since 2011, the Who-verse has had its unique answer to Baker Street: the Paternoster Gang, led by the reptilian Silurian Madame Vastra. Holmes may have changed species and genders, but Vastra and her Watson-like human partner, Jenny Flint, have relocated to a very familiar Victorian London to solve mysteries and undertake adventures in classic Sherlockian style.
One of the most iconic sequences from Star Trek: The Next Generation is that of the android Lt. Data seeking to learn what it means to be human by wearing Holmesian costume and, with Lt. Geordi La Forge at his side as Watson, entering a holodeck program to experience Conan Doyle's stories himself. But the most important link between Holmes and the modern epic that is Star Trekcame with the film Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. The film was directed and co-written by Nicholas Meyer, who earlier had authored three well-known Sherlock Holmes novels: The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (which was adapted into a movie of the same name), The West End Horror, andThe Canary Trainer.
In The Undiscovered Country, the logical Mr. Spock—that contemporary and much-loved symbol of reason and imagination, the character whose post-Star Trek III presence proves that "the needs of the one outweigh the needs of the many"—responds to a baffling mystery (who fired the photon torpedoes at the Klingons?) by quoting Holmes from the story "The Beryl Coronet." Standing on the bridge of the Enterprise, Spock intones, "As an ancestor of mine once said, 'Once you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.'" It's canon: Sherlock Holmes is one of Mr. Spock's human ancestors.
"The message of Sherlock Holmes is simple," Meyer points out in Clarkesworld magazine. "Life can be understood." Spock and his fans would agree, of course. To Meyer, connecting those dots was a no-brainer: "The link between Spock and Holmes was obvious to everyone. I just sort of made it official."
"We're all nerds now," Noam Cohen announced in The New York Times on September 13, 2014. If it's true that geek culture is mainstream, then it follows that science fiction is mainstream. Few characters have the old-school science fiction pedigree of Sherlock Holmes, or the well-earned, new-school homages.
Reason 4: Because Holmes Is Now
This is all Arthur Conan Doyle's fault. During his lifetime, he opened his Sherlockian sandbox and let other people play. When asked by American actor William Gillette just what exactly the parameters were for an adaptation of Sherlock Holmes, Conan Doyle replied, "You may marry him or murder him or do whatever you like with him." We've been doing whatever we like with Holmes ever since. (Some of it involves tentacles.) Truly, 221B Baker Street is a shared universe.
That said, identifying one final key to Holmes's popularity requires going back to Conan Doyle's original intent as shown in his canonical works. American author Vincent Starrett, in his poem "221B", tells us: "Here, though the world explode, these two survive,/And it is always eighteen ninety-five." Indeed, the teaser for an upcoming BBC Sherlock special (which airs on PBS' Masterpiece in the U.S.) shows the typically sharp-suited, nicotine patch-addicted Cumberbatch alighting from a carriage in front of 221B, wearing full Victorian regalia and puffing on a pipe. But Conan Doyle didn't write Holmes and Watson as flies caught in amber, forever the same, shut away in their sitting room. They lived in the readers' present tense, walking the identical streets and visiting the identical buildings as their audience members. Walking tours visit the exact locations where scenes from various stories unfolded. Holmes was a contemporary, a neighbor—so much so that readers mailed him letters and mourned his death as if he were a close friend.
This means that every time Holmes is updated—brought to today's London, or moved to New York, or turned into a medical doctor and renamed House, complete with a Wilson for a Watson—he actually is restored to what Conan Doyle meant for him to be: here with us now. Facing the same chaos, wrestling with the same bureaucracy, witnessing the same crime. Questioning. Shaking off superstition and hysteria and pseudoscientific quackery. Employing his precise methods and challenging us to do likewise. Fighting the same disenchantment with imagination and reason. Reassuring and inspiring and liberating us. Reminding us—yes, even the androids—that we're human.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Monday, September 14, 2015

Popeye of the Baskervilles. . .

Had the pleasure this last Friday of attending a meeting with the Chester Baskerville Society in Chester Ill.
The meeting was held at the McClure Museum and was very well attended and was conducted by very gracious hosts.
The discussions for the evening were 3GAR and 3GAB with interesting papers on both.

I am not a big fan of 3GAB but found very much of interest in 3GAR.

Once again we must question Holmes logic in allowing Nathan to go on  a wild goose chase while Holmes and Watson set a trap for 'Killer Evans'. Especially when we see the results of such goose chase.

HOUN and a couple of others should have taught him a lesson.

Lots of discussion in 3GAB centers around how Holmes' treated Dixie. I did not find it offensive or out of place when taken in context.

I don't know if I will make all the meetings of the Chester Baskerville Society because it is a rather long drive for me, but I know I will attend whenever I can.

If you remember from an earlier post, it was Mike McClures son who Jeremy Brett became rather fond of while in St Louis. Even called the young boy while a meeting of the CBS was going on. How would you love to have your meeting interrupted by Jeremy Brett.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Seven Degrees of Sherlock Holmes - one of the last from the silent era - Dickie Moore

One of the last actors from the silent era of film and from the series 'Our Gang'

Dickie Moore 1925-2015

Appeared in 1943's 'The Song of Bernadette'

In which Linda Darnell, 1923-1965, made an uncredited appearance

She also appeared in the 1940 'The Mark of Zorro'

In which Basil Rathbone played the villain

So, there you have it, there you are.

(We could also us Vincent Price here from Song of Bernadette)

These are kind of fun - It is Friday after all.


This is my favorite

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

This is kinda fun . . .

Conceptual artist Chad Weatherford

Some novel strengths. . . .

Reg Henry: Sherlock stories show novel strengths

A newspaper columnist is bound to receive many suggestions from readers, not all of them invitations to attempt bodily contortions of an indecent nature. But in 18 years, I have never received an email like this one:

Dear Mr. Henry,
I am the editor of The Northumberland Dispatch, the newsletter of a group of Pittsburgh-area Sherlock Holmes enthusiasts, which has been published for 41 years. I have an occasional column called “List of Opinions,” that takes a survey of our members and some invited guests on various Sherlockian matters. I would appreciate greatly if you could answer the following:
What explains the enduring popularity of Sherlock Holmes (10 words or less) ...
Sincerely yours,
Jim Zuric
Only the arch-fiend Professor Moriarty could refuse such an offer.
“Ah,” I said to myself, “this promises to be a most interesting and unusual column,” which the vast legion of Sherlockian connoisseurs will recognize as a paraphrase of the great detective’s own words. They are members of a unique literary sub-culture steeped in the minutiae of the author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s most famous creation.
It turns out that Mr. Zuric is a 69-year-old retired assistant librarian and public school teacher. He tells me that this Pittsburgh group — there have been several dating back to the 1940s — first met Downtown in July 1974. It is called the Fifth Northumberland Fusiliers because that was Dr. Watson’s regiment in Afghanistan during the 19th century unpleasantness. Of course! We all know that.
This love of all things Sherlock Holmes is a worldwide phenomenon. Members of the national group are the Baker Street Irregulars, named for the London lodging house of Holmes and Watson and the group of urchins Holmes recruited to help in his sleuthing. The Fusiliers are only loosely affiliated, and in neither group do you have to be an urchin. Groups like this meet regularly, and the shortage of hansom cabs to convey them does not deter their fun.
But what explains their lasting enthusiasm? That is precisely the question, my dear Watson and reader, but it is one that attends other baffling cultural phenomena, too. Why the perennial popularity of vampires, who are just pains in the neck? What’s the deal with the undying interest in the living dead? Is that just our fear of politicians?
Life is a mystery, but for the matter at hand we can at least develop a Sherlockian hypothesis. For this, I consulted “The Complete Sherlock Holmes,” a tome that I picked up at the Sewickley Academy Clothesline Sale a few years ago, because you never know when it’s time for a tome. I should have bought one of the detective’s distinctive deer-stalking hats, too, but they were all out.
The very first story — “A Study in Scarlet” — offers some clues. In this tale, Dr. Watson, recuperating from his war wounds, is introduced to Sherlock Holmes for the first time and becomes his flat mate in London, “that great cesspool into which all the loungers and idlers of the Empire are irresistibly drained.”
This is exactly what happened to me many years ago as an up-and-coming lounger with dreams of becoming a successful idler. The author knew human nature and the world very well.
As it happens, cesspools make a splendid setting for crime fiction, which Conan Doyle did not invent but perfected. Throw in some fog, add some excellent characters lurching out of it, stir in some ingenious plots, and the recipe for immortality is well formed.
No characters are better drawn than Holmes and Watson. Holmes is not an easy person; he’s brilliant but moody and given to eccentric habits. Watson is the conventionally dull plodder who usually tells the story. Actually, Watson is a proxy for us, the readers, serving as the constantly amazed audience for Holmes’ deductive powers
Holmes and Watson never call each other by their first names, even when they share rooms. They are Englishmen of a certain formal period and upholders of its civilized standards. Crime may be brutish, but it is no match for intellect and scientific deduction — that is the enduring message.
Many recent versions of the tales twist the essentials but never completely abandon them. In the CBS series “Elementary,” set in New York City, Watson is a woman but Holmes remains English and strange. In the BBC series “Sherlock,” the action takes place in modern-day London.
Ten words, you say? Great characters, remarkable plots, evocative scenes and good out-smarting evil.
If only everything in this confounded world was as elementary as this.

Reg Henry:

School has started, take a test.

Quiz here.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

God Save the Queen

Queen Elizabeth II is about to become the longest reigning monarch in British history. She has been on the thorn for over 63 years.

Previous record holder;


Friday, September 4, 2015

I look forward to seeing this one.

‘Arthur & George’ Makes Sherlock Holmes’s Creator the Detective

In the time it took to puff on his pipe, Sherlock Holmes would have discerned everything: the eavesdropper at the private club as well as his name, political persuasion and place of birth — all from the dust on his shoes. But Sir Arthur Conan Doyle? Shockingly oblivious, a detractor declares in “Arthur & George” (Sundays on PBS). “If you pursue your interest in the Edalji case, you’ll be judged by his high standards, and judged harshly,” the man chides Holmes’s creator. “But if you fall short, as you are bound to do, you’ll taint not only yourself but the world’s favorite consulting detective.”
Edalji is the titular George, an Anglo-Indian solicitor imprisoned for mutilating livestock — and threatening schoolgirls with worse — in 1903 Staffordshire. He longs to be exonerated for crimes he maintains he did not commit, and Arthur wagers his reputation that George’s conviction was racially motivated. Martin Clunes and Arsher Ali star in this mist-shrouded adaptation of Julian Barnes’s factual novel, which unveils Arthur’s personal life as he contemplates a future with his true love following his wife’s death. Charles Edwards plays Arthur’s secretary, Alfred Wood — in other words, his Dr. Watson.


Thursday, September 3, 2015

Seven Degrees of Sherlock Holmes - Dean Jones

Disney Legend actor Dean Jones 1931-2015

 Starred in 1968's 'Blackbeard's Ghost'

which also featured the great Peter Ustinov (1921-2004)

who starred in 1954's 'Beau Brummell'

which featured Stewart Granger (1913-1993)

Who we already know did a turn as Holmes in 1972's Hound

So. there you have it, there you are.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

A nicer Holmes?

Sherlock Season 4: Holmes All Set to Go "Classic with A Nicer Image"

"Sherlock" is known for having long intervals between seasons. Hence, it has been a delight for the fans to know that a special episode of "Sherlock" is all set to air during the Christmas prior to season 4.
The last season of "Sherlock" also had a special episode during Christmas. However, this time, the episode will be different from the others as it will take back fans to the original era of Sherlock Holmes' creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's stories. Holmes will be a much nicer, decent person before he became the well-known cynical "sociopath".
In an interview with the Entertainment Weekly, "Sherlock" co-creator and co-writer Steven Moffat said that the reason they will release the special episode is that they wanted to showcase Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in their original costumes for once.
"The episode will showcase Sherlock as a nicer person and a proper polished Victorian gentleman. He will not behave like a brat and like his usual sarcastic self," he said.
Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays the titular role, is reportedly happy with the idea. However, Cumberbatch also expressed concern that if it doesn't work well, fans will be disappointed.
Given that it will be just one episode, there should not be much to worry about it.
"Sherlock" season 4 is scheduled to start filming in early 2016 and will be released in 2017. The exact dates are yet to be announced.