Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Goodbye Goldenrod. . . Our Sherlockian connection.

Twenty plus years ago we held the first two ever St Louis area Sherlock Holmes conventions on the Goldenrod Showboat in St. Charles Mo.
The Victorian atmosphere of the hundred plus year old boat made for a wonderful hosting spot.
We called the conventions 'The Games Afloat'.
For over fifty years the Goldenrod served St Louis, then moving to St Charles in the late 80's.

Never capable of moving under its own power, the Goldenrod would be pushed from location to location.

My first experience on the Goldenrod was in about 1981, when it was still in St Louis.

And it happened to be a vaudevillian production of Gillette's play about Sherlock Holmes.

While in St Charles, because of river conditions, the boat became to expensive to maintain once again, especailly since St Charles had already sunk a fortune in to it. It needed more repairs than St Charles thought they could handle.
The city eventually sold it and for many years it was hoped it would find a new home and keep offering entertainment.
For about the last ten plus years it has sat on the Illinois River near Kampsville awaiting its fate.
To save it from the salvage yard a group of volunteers had been trying to raise enough money to save it.
The floods of summer of 2015 put an end to that hope, damaging the boat beyond repair.

 The task then became saving as much of the historical interior as they could, hoping some day a museum would house the memories.

Many of the volunteers have worked hundreds of hours making this last hope happen.
Tomorrow the volunteers will finally say goodbye to the old showboat.
They have removed as much as they can.

I am glad to have had some great memories of the old girl, and like many will miss the history of the old showboats and its connection to our local world of Sherlock Holmes.
I at least got to direct (a convention) on the old showboat a couple of times.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

I just had to share this one - it is so English. . .

She definitely deserves a tip! World's oldest barmaid is celebrating her 100th birthday but has no plans to retire from the pub where she started working in 1940

Story here.

PS. 2015 The world’s oldest barmaid has died less than a year after celebrating her 100 birthday in the pub she worked in for 74 years.

Elementary S4E17 - You've Got Me, Who's Got you - half a review.

Well, I made sure the DVR was set to catch the show on it's new night, but something must have run over time because I only ended up getting half the episode. So, the reason for only half a review.
Holmes is called in to investigate the death of a costumed 'super hero'.
A man dressed like the 'Midnight Ranger' who goes around trying to stop crime disguised as a comic book hero.
Joan is approached, in a round about way, by Morland Holmes to investigate a deal gone bad in his company.

Well, at least the half I got to watch was a lot of fun. And considering the amount of money to be made in 'comics-to-movies' it seemed like it could be a good story line.

I thought the observations by Holmes were well done, especially the one about the type of stitching in the super hero costume.( I didn't know you could call a male seamstress a semester.)

I love how Riechenbach Falls was worked into the story line.

The dialogue was, at least up to the point I got to see, very light hearted and fun.

Whether we like Morland or not, he does add the few moments of  'class' that most Holmes stories require to make them 'British'.

So, more the parts I got to watch, I can fairly give this episode;

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Val Andrews books at Amazon

Through personal connections, when we visited England in the early 1990's we got to visit with writer Val Andrews and spent some pleasent time with him in London.
Many of his books are available at Amazon Kindle books. Often connecting his other love, magic, to the world of Sherlock Holmes, they are fun books to explore.

Val Andrews at Amazon.

Seven Degrees of Sherlock Holmes - George Kennedy

George Kennedy was one of myall time favorite character actors.
He past away last month, and this SDoSh is for him.

George Kennedy (1925-2016)

was in 1973's 'Lost Horizon' 

which also featured the late great Sir John Gielgud (1904-2000)

who, as we have already shown, was in 1978's 'Murder By Decree'

So, there you have it, there you are.

With the tourist season fast approaching. . . . .

Walk the streets of London like Sherlock

LONDON — It’s noon on the dank, misty streets of old London, and I’m sitting outside a cafe, perusing passersby from behind my newspaper. Most are innocently conducting their business, but at least three look suspicious. I only wish I had a pipe, deerstalker and oversize magnifying glass to aid my investigation.
I’m not a qualified detective, but when Sherlock Holmes is on your mind, you can’t help viewing the world as a series of clues. And London — the home of Holmes and many of the murderous scenes he deciphers — is jampacked with evidence of the masterful crime-solver.
Which brings me back to the cafe. The hottest recent adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories is the modern-day BBC TV show Sherlock, with Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes and Martin Freeman as Watson. Fan of the show? You’ll know the pair haunts Speedy’s, the small cafe beside their 221B Baker Street flat.
But it doesn’t take a detective to realize all is not as it seems here. London has a real-life Baker Street, but Speedy’s and Sherlock’s front door are filmed a mile away on North Gower Street. Luckily my razor-sharp sleuthing skills unmasked these secret filming locations. (I Googled them.)
The cafe’s busy tables host two well-defined groups: lunch-grabbing office workers and Sherlock nuts snapping surreptitious selfies. I pretend I’m a local but my cover is blown when I order the chicken and bacon Sherlock Wrap, something only a fan would do.
Munching on lunch at my al fresco table, I plot the rest of my Sherlockian day with forensic precision. Fusing old and new, there’s plenty to see.

Walking tour

Hopping the Tube to Embankment Station, I start with an In the Footsteps of Sherlock Holmes walking tour. Led by a twinkle-eyed guide named Corinna who would be a perfect Mrs. Hudson, it snakes through back alleys, covering sites from the stories. Our group — including Japanese, Polish and New Jersey fans — learns that while Holmes lives on Baker Street, the stories are mostly set in the West End.
We stop at a handsome edifice that was once Charing Cross Hospital, ogle the grand facade of Simpsons-in-the-Strand restaurant, and linger in cobbled Covent Garden, a setting from “The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle.” We also inspect Goodwin’s Court, where bow windows and gas lamps bring the Victorian era to life.
Intriguing Conan Doyle facts are provided en route. Born in Scotland, the author knew little of London when he arrived, and he originally named his main character Sherrinford Holmes. He sold his first tale, “A Study in Scarlet,” for just 25 pounds.
As the tour concludes, I ask Corinna why she thinks Holmes endures. “We all love a good mystery, don’t we? And I think people really enjoy searching for the clues in the stories,” she says, recommending “The Sign of Four” for first-time readers.
The tour ends outside Northumberland Street’s handsome, recently refurbished Sherlock Holmes Pub. But I postpone my end-of-day libation and instead plot two extra stops via the Tube.

The game’s afoot

Alighting at Baker Street, near my hotel (the Park Plaza Sherlock Holmes, of course), I find an Underground station where the wall tiles are patterned with an instantly recognizable pipe-wielding profile. There’s also a towering Sherlock statue outside encircled by giddy snappers. Many are on their way to the real 221B Baker Street.
Colonizing a slender heritage townhouse, it’s home to the Sherlock Holmes Museum, London’s most popular Holmesian attraction. The $21.50 admission fee and summertime queues are a deterrent to some, but re-created period rooms are an evocative immersion in Conan Doyle’s world.
I’m soon ascending the house’s staircase and find a clutch of Victorian rooms lined with antiques and oddball artifacts — including voodoo dolls and a revolver in a hollowed book. Reaching the top floor, though, I suddenly face a cold-eyed waxwork of Sherlock’s archenemy Moriarty.
Tempted to pitch the evil baddie through a window, I instead wrestle with my anger and head back downstairs to the busy gift shop. Resisting the lure of Watson teapots, deerstalker hats and head-scratching puzzle books designed to hone deduction skills, I instead hit the streets for my penultimate pit stop.
Since Season 2 of the BBC show, an older building at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital has become an unlikely pilgrimage destination. In the cleverly titled “The Reichenbach Fall” episode, Cumberbatch’s Sherlock seems to leap to his death from the building’s roof — and worshippers have been flocking here ever since.
But they’re not just snapping photos. The area’s old red telephone box and adjoining walls are covered with messages supporting their hero. “Sherlock lives” is ubiquitous, but there’s also “Sherlock forever,” “Moriarty is real” and the enigmatic “I’m glad you liked my potato.” Inside the booth, an empty wineglass has also been carefully placed.
It’s a reminder to return to Northumberland Street for a final toast. The Sherlock Holmes Pub serves Sherlock House Ale and Watson’s Traditional Sunday Roast, but its walls are also lined with memorabilia and photos of celluloid Sherlocks. There’s even an artifact cabinet with a model of “the remarkable worm” for true devotees.
Heading upstairs, I discover a museumlike room behind glass. Re-creating the great detective’s study, there are countless books, a violin and some Black Shag Tobacco. And in the center — looking cadaverously pale — I find Sherlock himself. He may be a mannequin, but he looks like he could still out-sleuth me anytime.
John Lee is a U.K.-born writer based in Vancouver.

If you go

Park Plaza Sherlock Holmes Hotel (, 108 Baker St. near Baker Street Underground Station.
Speedy’s Sandwich Bar & Cafe (, 187 North Gower St. near Euston Square Underground Station. Visit for additional BBC show locations.
In the Footsteps of Sherlock Holmes tours ( start at 2 p.m. every Friday and cost $14.
Sherlock Holmes Museum (, 221B Baker St., near Baker Street Underground Station.
St. Bartholomew’s Hospital is on West Smithfield, a short walk from St. Paul’s Underground Station.
Sherlock Holmes Pub (, 10 Northumberland St., near Charing Cross Underground Station.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Just another side of the story. . . .

A Study in Spiritualism: What happened when the creator of Sherlock Holmes visited Tacoma

Read more here:

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Happy St. Parrick's day!

Arthur Conan Doyle’s Irish Mystery

As Sherlock Holmes fans celebrate the 125th anniversary of the novel in which Arthur Conan Doyle introduced his famous sleuth, Tom Deignan investigates the author’s Irish roots.
The two recent Sherlock Holmes movies starring Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law have earned well over one billion dollars worldwide, so it’s no surprise that screenwriters are currently toiling away at another installment of the lucrative franchise. Current Hollywood buzz has it that filming of the third Sherlock Holmes flick will begin sometime next year, with the movie in theaters possibly by Christmas 2014.
Sherlock Holmes — who celebrates his 125th birthday this year — shows no signs of slowing down. Author Arthur Conan Doyle’s most famous creation, who first appeared in the 1887 murder mystery novel A Study in Scarlet, has had a long life in books and on radio, in television and stage adaptations, and in the movies.
Generations of Sherlock Holmes fans have watched the sleuth, alongside his trusty sidekick Dr. Watson, wield his trademark magnifying glass in order to navigate fog-shrouded British streets, debating theories in plummy accents. The most iconic Holmes, perhaps, is Basil Rathbone, who played the great detective in over a dozen films, and even Robert Downey, Jr.  earned raves for his British accent.
Though he never really went out of style, Doyle is currently enjoying a renaissance. In addition to the film franchise, consulting detective Holmes is also the subject of two hit television series that give Doyle’s stories a contemporary spin: In Britain, the BBC mini-series Sherlock, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, and in the U.S., the new CBS show Elementary, featuring Johnny Lee Miller, Lisa Liu, and Aidan Quinn.
Exploring Irish History
Given Sherlock Holmes’ undeniable British pedigree, it may come as a surprise to some that his creator actually comes from a strong Irish Catholic background. Indeed, both the Conan and Doyle families — not to mention the Foleys, on the great writer’s mother’s side — all hail from Dublin. One of Arthur’s uncles, Henry Doyle, was a prominent artist who went on to serve as director of the National Gallery of Ireland.
As for Arthur Conan Doyle himself, though best known for creating Sherlock Holmes, he also wrote many stories that explore Irish themes and characters. Perhaps most interesting to Irish Americans is the fourth and final Sherlock Homes novel, The Valley of Fear (1915), which may have been inspired by two notable episodes in Irish history — the rise of the Molly Maguires, the secret organization that sought to improve labor conditions in Pennsylvania in the 1870s, and the Phoenix Park murders in Dublin in May of 1882. (Lord Frederick Cavendish, the newly appointed Chief Secretary for Ireland, and Thomas Henry Burke, the Permanent Undersecretary, were fatally stabbed by members of the Irish National Invincibles.)
More broadly, Doyle (1859 – 1930) was alive to witness some of the most tumultuous years of Irish political history, from the post-Famine years to the Easter Rising to the Irish Civil War.
Doyle actively followed the so-called “Irish question” and corresponded with prominent Irish nationalists such as Erskine Childers and Roger Casement.
However, from his fiction to his political positions, Doyle was complicated. For example, despite his strong Irish roots, he once defended British policy in Ireland. So it is fitting that the greatest mystery writer of them all has created quite a mystery about his own past: Precisely how did Arthur Conan Doyle’s Irish background influence his writing?
A Dublin Family
John Doyle (Arthur’s grandfather) was born in Dublin in 1797, into a devoutly Catholic family with an artistic bent. John, who was already showcasing his work at 17, married fellow Dubliner Marianne Conan, a daughter of a tailor, in 1820. Two years later they sought a new life in London, where they soon had three children while John was struggling to succeed as a painter.
After changing his artistic style, John Doyle eventually found success as a political cartoonist. The children kept on coming, as the family moved to the more affluent neighborhood of Hyde Park. They lived in a home where party guests included Benjamin Disraeli and Charles Dickens.
John and Marianne gave birth to Arthur Conan Doyle’s father, Charles, in 1832.
The great writer’s mother, meanwhile, was born in Dublin. The daughter of a doctor who died young, Mary Foley moved to Edinburgh, Scotland, where her mother  established a boardinghouse. Charles also had moved to Scotland as a young man. Mary Foley and Charles Doyle married in 1855 and settled in Edinburgh.
Doyle himself acknowledged his strong Irish roots in his 1924 autobiography Memories and Adventures. “I, an Irishman by extraction, was born in the Scottish capital,” Doyle wrote.
Of his parents, he said: “Two separate lines of Irish wanderers came together under one roof.”
A Visit to Waterford
Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle was born on May 22, 1859. He was baptized at St. Mary’s Cathedral and received a Jesuit education into his teenage years, before studying medicine at the University of Edinburgh.
Doyle was only 20 years old when he published his first story in a Scottish journal. As early as 1881, Doyle spent time with family in Ireland, visiting Waterford during a time of agrarian unrest that came to be called “The Land War.” Doyle wrote of his time in Ireland in an essay (with photographs) called “To the Waterford Coast and Along It.”
In 1885, Doyle married Louisa Hawkins, and the couple went to Ireland for their honeymoon. Throughout the 1880s, however, Doyle struggled as both a writer and doctor. Patients were not exactly knocking down the door of his practice, and publishers and journals rejected many of Doyle’s manuscripts. One magazine that finally agreed to publish a new work by Arthur Conan Doyle was Beeton’s Christmas Annual. The November 1887 edition of that magazine contained a story called “A Study in Scarlet.” Critics in The Scotsman and Glasgow Herald newspapers liked the story. Little did they know that the history of literature was about to change.
Sherlock — and Support for Irish Home Rule?
“A Study in Scarlet” was the first story to feature a detective named Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick Dr. Watson. Doyle eventually achieved widespread popularity, with Holmes starring in three subsequent novels: The Sign of the Four (1890), The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902) and The Valley of Fear (1915).
But just as he was more or less creating the modern detective novel, Doyle was also exploring Irish themes in stories such as “That Little Square Box,” “The Heiress of Glenmahowley,” “Touch and Go: A Midshipman’s Story,” and “The Green Flag.”
“These stories are testimonies to Doyle’s keen and sympathetic interest in Irish political grievances,” writes Catherine Wynne, author of the scholarly text The Colonial Conan Doyle.
And yet, despite his roots and his visits to Ireland, the now-successful Arthur Conan Doyle opposed Irish Home Rule in the early 1900s.
“I was what was called a Liberal-Unionist, that is, a man whose general position was Liberal, but who could not see his way to support Gladstone’s Irish Policy,” Doyle himself wrote in his memoirs, referring to the British prime minister who supported Home Rule for Ireland.
The famous writer’s attitude changed in the coming decade. In February 1912 he wrote a letter to Roger Casement stating: “Yes, I feel strongly for Ireland and hope I may strike some blow in that cause.”
On the other hand, Doyle felt compelled to add: “I see the British point of view very clearly, also. However, from both points of view, I am convinced that Home Rule is the solution.”
Scholars such as Catherine Wynne believe Doyle never quite resolved the tensions he felt about Ireland. On the one hand he saw himself as an Irishman, visited Ireland and followed the political situation there. But he was also a successful writer who shied away from more radical political ideas. Wynne believes this conflict manifested itself in Doyle’s writing, leading him to follow the tradition of Gothic Irish literature, a genre perhaps best exemplified by the Dublin-born writer Bram Stroker, the author of Dracula.
Doyle and Ireland
Doyle’s “preoccupations with colonialism are demonstrated in recurring obsessions with land, mind, racial identity and sexuality,” Wynne writes. “The Gothic is an important mode within the colonial context because… it gives a voice to those who are without power and are disenfranchised.”
Doyle’s complex take on Irish matters is perhaps most evident in the final Sherlock Holmes novel, Valley of Fear.
Part of the novel takes place in 1875, and features a meeting on a train during which two passengers (one carrying a gun) identify themselves as members of a secret society most critics believe was based on the Molly Maguires.
Doyle was said to be fascinated by James McParland, the detective who infiltrated the Molly Maguires. He met with William Pinkerton – head of the private detective agency that McParland worked for – and many speculate that hearing the Molly Maguires story from Pinkerton inspired Doyle to write Valley of Fear and to base the detective character on McParland, who was born in Armagh.
One of the key characters in Valley of Fear is lost at sea. However, Sherlock Holmes fears he was in fact executed and thrown overboard. This echoes the death of James Carey, who informed on his fellow comrades in the Irish National Invincibles, the group that perpetrated the murders in Phoenix Park. Carey was shot dead on board a ship by Donegal man Patrick O’Donnell, an Irish revolutionary who likely had relatives who belonged to – you guessed it – the Molly Maguires. O’Donnell may even have visited Pennsylvania as part of his search for the informant who exposed the Phoenix Park assassins.
In the end, Arthur Conan Doyle’s relationship with Ireland may have been complicated, but it was most certainly intimate. In fact, if Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law stay at this long enough, it’s more than likely that they will someday be in a scene featuring an Irish-American coal miner with a gun on a train.