Wednesday, April 30, 2014

For the artistically inclined.. . .


Seven Degrees of Sherlock Holmes - #51 - Bob Hoskins

Bob Hoskins (1942-2014) passed away today. . .

He starred in many films with SDofSH alumni, such as, Peter O'Toole, Michael Caine and Jude Law, among others.


Seven Degrees of Sherlock Holmes #50 - Hattie McDaniel

Oscar winning actress Hattie McDaniel (1895-1952)

starred in the 1946 film, "Never Say Goodbye"

which starred Errol Flynn (1909-1959)

who we know starred in films with both Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce

So, there you have it, there you are.

Monday, April 28, 2014

On a lighter note. . . .

Sherlock Holmes, the social animal???

As is made quiet clear in both modern adaptions of the Great Detective, Sherlock Holmes is not known for being an outwardly social person. Going so far as to say that unless it has something to do with a case or research, Holmes tends to avoid people all together unless absolutely necessary.
Canonically much the same can be said of Sherlock Holmes. Rarely, if ever, are we shown occasions where Sherlock Holmes partakes in excursions purely for enjoyment, and never with the soul purpose of associations with other people, except Watson.

We do see on occasion Holmes enjoying a solo trip to listen to some of his favorite music. And it can be said that Watson does indeed accompany him on some of his musical outings.
If  it can be said Holmes develops a hobby, he also, later, has his bees.

However, both of these, along with his violin playing, are all rather solitary pursuits. All requiring only the minimum interaction with his fellow human beings.

This illustration shows Holmes seated amongst the crowd listening to music. But even here, as portrayed by Sidney Paget, the seat next to Holmes is empty.
This illustration is often labelled, "All afternoon he sat in the stalls."

We also know he had a couple of other pursuits suited more for individual achievement, baristu and fencing. Both require people to train with, but no other interaction.

Fencing, baristu, and bee-keeping would probably be more categorized as recreational than social anyway.

My question here is;  Other than the ones listed above (which I don't consider social) are there any occasions in the Canonical Holmes of Holmes actually doing something purely for social reasons? Are we ever made aware of any social event Holmes attends that is not part of an investigation or his work?

Friday, April 25, 2014

"Close to Holmes", by Alistair Duncan, a book review

I don't usually read books like this. Anything that, again usually, would seem to have a lot of research in it is normally why over my head and I loss interest very quickly.

I don't profess to be the most scholarly of Sherlockians, most often staying in my comfort zone of the lighter side of the Holmesian discussion.

But I regularly follow Alistair's insightful blog and thought I should check out some of his books.

I am glad I did.

The book was a wonderfully easy read, providing one with just the right amount of information to be informative with out being burdensome.
I can easily see myself getting a copy of this book for my next visit to England ( I read the e-book format) and keeping it in my pocket as we visit Sherlockian sites

And again without being overburdening, Alistair provides the Sherlockian connections to each location, along with further history of the landmarks.

This book is short and sweet and an easy companion when on the trail of Sherlock Holmes.

Well, instead of buying a hard copy of here, I will wait till my next visit and get a signed copy from him.

Elementary S2, Ep 21 #41 - The Man with the Twisted Lip - a review

Mycrofts back, and Watson has him. . . if she wants. And Ms. Hudson is back.

Last nights story opens with Holmes at one of his AA meetings.
While Watson is waiting to join Holmes for the trip home, Watson gets involved with the disappearance of another AA members sister.
When they get home after talking to Tess about her sister, Mycroft is waiting with dinner ready.
We soon learn that Mycroft wants to be more than friends with Watson, again. We also learn Mycroft, again, once again, is up to something.
The hunt for the missing sister soon involves Holmes and Watson in a triple murder mystery and high tech gadgets.

The opening, one relative seeking information about the disappearance of another, is a nod to TWIS, as is the fact that the case was introduced to Holmes from Watson.

As was also the case with TWIS, the case had references to Holmes drug use.

What I found interesting about the opening scene is the dialog from Holmes to his meetings companions about him having no peers. Basically him saying the reason he has no real friends is that there is no one with his mental capabilities that he can actually form a friendship with. All others would be, to steal a phrase from "Sherlock", boring.

I think this is a Canonical reference to the few times Holmes is surprised by others thinking there are better detectives (or smarter people?) than himself. I can think of Insp. Baynes in WIST.
It could also be a nod to Holmes' unsociable life style.

Also within those first few minutes we find a Holmes that also thinks some cases are beneath his talents, another Canonical nod.

Some other interesting aspects of this episode.

I don't think there are many Sherlockians who do not wish Mycrofts character had been a little more fleshed out in the Canon, or that he had more things to do. Canonically we are told how bright he is and how important he is, but rarely do we see much of that.
This episode, and a couple others, has handled this fairly well. Mycroft is still a mystery to us, and we, as of yet, do not know what he is involved in, but we know it is going to be something (Is it for Queen and Country or is it something more nefarious?). Is he using Joan? Or is his affection real. Is he trying to get Holmes involved in some investigation? When we think of the Canonical Mycroft most of us probably just see him standing in the Diogenes Club, when actually we are told he is involved in much more than that. This series is giving him some what more energy and personality.

The story is becoming pretty interesting with some nice twists, and it will also be interesting to see where it ends up. The topic, drones in the hands of civilians and the use of drones in the military,  is quiet topical at the moment.

Something else this episode is doing well is examining the relationship between Holmes and Watson, and why they need each other. Is Holmes now co-dependent on Watson, or is it that they are really friends?
Canonically it doesn't seem that Watson has as much need for Holmes as Holmes has for Watson. We see Watson move out a couple of times. This episode suggests that Watson would not have as much trouble 'moving out' as Holmes would. I think within the next couple of episodes we are going to get to examine that relationship.
It is also doing a real good job of developing the realization for Holmes of the importance and position of Watson in his life.

Although interesting this time, again, the case is not as important as the personalities.

With all the peripheral goings on, and Myrofts involvement, and the use of high tech military applications, we may be headed towards a modern adaption of BRUC. Those two men in the Diogenes Club are going to be involved soon.

Some of the deductions were handled well; The hidden track on the recordings, foot prints near the bodies. The gun splatter pattern.

The short comings of the episode are the same as the last few weeks, but not as many.
Ms. Hudson's involvement was unnecessary, unless she will be given more to do in the upcoming weeks.
And, if the murderers are willing to use a bug bite to kill the doctor, why not use a bug to kill the whistle-blower?

But it's strengths were, well, a little stronger.
The story is pretty good, so far.
Mycroft, as he is Canonically, is being very mysterious.

I enjoyed this episode and look forward to it's resolution.
For that reason I give it;

out of a possible five.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

What is your most prized Sherlockian possession?

What is your most prized Sherlockian possession?
What would be the last thing you would get rid of?
If your wife insisted that you clean out your attic library to make room for her mother, what would be the one thing that you would keep (that's assuming she will let you keep any).

As we tend to get older, some of us find the need to thin out things we have collected over the years.
Do we need every single plush toy that has any reference in costume or character to the Great Detective?

Maybe you are needing a little more money to get daughter through her fifteenth year of collage.
So we thin out our collection of Sherlockian match book covers.

Sometimes we realize that our collections are less important to us now than they once were.

Or maybe we realize we don't need fifty three copies of The Speckled Band.

But most of us would chose to hold on to at least a thing or two.

Would it be your first edition "Hound"?

Or maybe the first Sherlock Holmes book you ever got, the one you picked up in Bangor so you would have something to read while working in the backwoods of Maine.

Would it be the Deerstalker hat you got while in Edinburgh?

Maybe the coffee cup you got at Simpson's-on-the-Strand.

Are your kids moving back in with you and they need their rooms back, so most of your stuff has to go?

Would you keep some of the Victorian accouterments that decorate your mantel?
I have a nice Bulls-eye lantern that I am proud of.

If your wife asks you, "Is it going to be your damn ( fill in the blank ) or me?" If you don't chose her, what would be your "fill in the blank"?

Much of my collection revolves almost as much around Victorian Britain as it does around Holmes, so I am not sure what I would chose.
I still have the first Holmes book I ever got. And I do have the Deerstalker I picked up in Yorkshire.
I love the coffee cup from Simpson's.

OH! What about that magazine cover which featured Black Peter?

What would you chose, what would you keep? What sits in the most prized place on your shelf?

"Honey, give me a second. I'm not ignoring your question."

Seven Degrees of Sherlock Holmes - #49 - Jackie Coogan

Child actor and future 'Adams Family' member, Jackie Coogan (1914-1984)

had an un-credited part in 1953 'The Actress'

which featured the wonderful Jean Simmons (1929-2010)

who took part in 1946's 'Great Expectations' 

which also starred Sir Alec Guiness (1914-2000)

who starred in 1977's small film 'Star Wars'

in which Sherlock Holmes actor Peter Cushing (1913-1994) took part

So, there you have it, there you are.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Seven Degrees of Sherlock Holmes - The Fantastic (Four) Jessica Alba - #48

Jessica Alba (1981)

was hardly invisible in 2005's Fantastic Four

which also starred Ion Gruffudd (1973)

who starred in 2006's Amazing Grace

which also featured Mr. 'Sherlock' himself, Benedict Cumberbatch

So, there you have it, there you are.

Friday, April 11, 2014

"No Lack of Void" - S2, Ep20 - "Elementary" - a review

Much of what I have to say about this episode I could just cut and paste from last weeks review.

As with most to this seasons fare, the mystery is hardly what the show is about. It's weaknesses are the same, as are it's strength's .

Plot; While visiting the police station, Watson is asked to check on an ill prisoner.

The prisoner is found dead. A victim of anthrax poisoning.

The hunt begins, now joined by Sherlock, for the maker of the anthrax and to find his/her intention for it.

Seemed like the plot could develop into a very good story; anti-government anarchist ready to attack government officials would have been a more exciting story line, but intended murder of bovine hardly made the plot interesting (although, was a good twist on where everyone though it was going), nor did the brother killing brother provided anything new.

The solutions were more leg work than observation or deduction, and, again, much of it done by Watson.
For me, the fact that most of the science used in the deductions in Elementary are from Watson's knowledge as a doctor, and not Holmes own research or knowledge base is a little bit of a let down (although, at least in this episode, it was a pretty good mix). Maybe it is a way to keep Lucy Liu happy in the roll, I don't know. But I liked last week better for that reason.

The strong points in this episode were Miller's acting as the grieving friend.
As reviewer Genevieve Valentine  puts it; "the initial condescending distance, the forced pragmatism, the belief he can set things right by finding out the What Really Happened of it all, the spiral into acting out, and eventually the acceptance of responsibility and the first steps toward healing. It’s his addiction in a nutshell, mapped over grief."  Source

The scene where Liu's 'Watson', ( while listening to Holmes suggest ways to find the missing anthrax maker ), opens the mailbox and comes up with the solution was priceless and brought a chuckle.

I do have one math question though; It was suggested that the anthrax producer was 5'11' tall. I am about the same height. It was also stated by Holmes, unless I didn't hear correctly, and I listened several times, that the average stride of someone that tall was 1.8 meters.
My stride length is between 24 - 29 inches, less than a meter. If my stride were 1.8 meters it would be 5.9 feet. He would have to have been all legs.
I don't think my running stride is that long.
Did I hear wrong?

Although the acting was great by Miller in this one, the repetitive nature of the plot and lack of Holmesian traits makes me want to give this one only 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Just in from the BBC . . . . well, it's almost Friday

Seven degrees of Sherlock Holmes - #47 - Leonardo DiCaprio

As much great work that he has done, it didn't prove too hard to make a connection for him.

Leonardo DiCaprio (1974)

starred in a little film called "Titanic" in 1997 

which also featured the great character actor Jonathon Hyde (1948)

who played Culverton Smith to Jeremy Brett's Sherlock Holmes in "The Dying Detective", 1994

Jonathon Hyde also participated in the 2004 film, "Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Silk Stocking".

So, there you have it, there you are.

Both of these gems are available in kindle addition. . .

Just thought you may like to know.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Something to chew on - "The Many Mouths of Aaron Colville" - Elementary S2, E19 (43) - A Review

"The Many Mouths of Aaron Colville' opens with Holmes bent over a the body of a mortician found dead in the mortuary. He has bite marks on his shoulder.

As they are investigating  another detective comes in wondering if it is another victim of a murderer with the same M.O. as a long dead murderer.
Holmes goes on to prove that it is not another victim of the same murderer, but this reminds Watson of another case she was involved with while still a doctor, the long dead murderer.

This leads her to wonder if the doctor she had been working with let the murderer die without doing all he could to save him, and that the man may have been innocent after all.
Watson learns that the new victims have bite marks matching the teeth of the now dead murderer from ten years earlier.

Did they convict the wrong man?

If the earlier man accused of murder is dead, who is doing the new murders with the same teeth?

The Canonical Watson described at least one case as being grotesque, and this episode would definitely fall into that category.

For once we see an episode that does have a lot of good observation and deduction work going on, especially in the opening scene. The story follows many lines of inquiry before coming to a satisfactory conclusion at the end.

While being one of the better 'Elementary' procedural episodes, the show continues to fall into the same pitfalls it has over the last several weeks.

1 - Most of the episodes now fall into the "murder for money and trying to make it look like someone else is doing it" category. The plots just seem to be shipped into different scenarios. They need to come up with some other plot-lines.

2 - While having better balanced characters, it is still having trouble coming up with a good portrayal of a "Sherlock Holmes" type character. There was actually one point in this episode, although enjoying the episode, that I had to remind myself I was suppose to be watching a Sherlock Holmes like character.
Again, while watching the show and enjoying the episode, I didn't feel I was watching a modern interpretation of Sherlock Holmes.
That may end up being, for Sherlockians who enjoy the show, one of the biggest problems over the next season. "Sherlock" at least has London. And they have made great use of a great coat, and they have at least found a way to introduce the hat. Cumberbatch has been able to capture some mannerisms that one can interpret as Holmesian.
Miller may have problems finding something like that to mark him as a "Sherlock Holmes" without seeming to copy Cumberbatch.
With that said, it is good they are not trying to use the same gimmicks.

(A very good Sherlockian scene, Holmes and Watson by the fireplace.
I love this picture!)

I was interesting to see 'Watson' put in the position of having to do something un-ethical (taking stolen medical records) to try and prove someone else was doing something un-ethical (letting a stabbing victim die).

It was also a good nod at Watson still being the moral compass of the two.

I think it was also an unintentional nod to the Canonical Watson sometimes turning a blind eye to some of Holmes' methods.

It has also become interesting watching Millers Holmes react to uncomfortable social situations.
I am liking season two and a half's Holmes better than the first season and a half.

While still not finding a comfortable representation of 'Holmes', the show has become very fun to watch and much better than it has been.

For that reason, and hopes for the future I give it;

Friday, April 4, 2014

And as James points out. . .

The Sherlockian connection with Paul's album "Band on the Run".

Seven Degrees of Sherlock Holmes - #46 - Sir Paul McCartney

Well, I didn't expect this one to go so quickly, after all, he hasn't been in a lot of movies

Sir Paul McCartney - (1942)

was in the Beatles driven movie HELP! - 1965

in which Leo McKern (1920-2202) took part

he also took part in "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes Smarter Brother" 1975

in which, once again, Douglas Wilmer (1920) played Sherlock Holmes

So, there you have it, there you are.

Hope some of you get to make it.

Sherlock Holmes Exhibition

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A little history about "The Game's Afloat" - from a review of TGA number 3


No, this isn’t a misprint, the name of the conference really was The Game’s Afloat, and it was the third such conference to be held under that name. Even when one knows that The Game’s Afloat really is the conference’s name, one will probably wonder why a meeting held in the St. Louis’ luxurious Westport Plaza Hotel would be described as being "afloat." Well, you see, The Game’s Afloat I and II conferences were actually held aboard the riverboat "Goldenrod," hence, those conferences really were "afloat." The management of the ’98 conference decided to use the traditional conference name, even though the ’98 event was, actually, comfortably land bound! The sponsor of record of The Game’s Afloat III was St. Charles’ scion society, The Harpooners of the Sea Unicorn (Michael Bragg, The Blue Whale of the Harpooners) with the able cooperation of The Parallel Case of St. LouisThe Noble Bachelors of St. Louis, and The Occupants of the Empty House scions. The planning and active management of the conference was ably handled by the Steering Committee personed by Joe Eckrich, BSI; Kathy Kelleher; Ed Moorman; Gordon Speck, BSI; and Jessica Young. In very visible executive positions at the conference were Barbara Roscoe, Brad Keefauver, BSI; Dr. Mary Schroeder, Carrie Kinealy, and Helen Simpson. Art Schroeder, whose health would not allow his being present at the conference, was credited with keeping everyone in contact with reality by injecting humor into even the face of the most daunting turn of events. (see biographical sketches of Art and Mary Schroeder).
Although the formal conference proceedings were scheduled to begin on October 31 (Halloween Day), a goodly number of the attendees (coming from as far away as Boston and Colorado) arrived to enjoy the Friday evening reception. We joined the assemblage, in a nearby pub called McNultys (see below), in time for a nip at a "cobwebby bottle" and a great fish and chips dinner. There we all had the opportunity to chat with fellow Sherlockian friends, both old and new. Such informal conviviality and dining is characteristic of Sherlockian conferences and is always a great joy. Following the reception, the conference managers provided a most entertaining Sherlockian film festival. So, we all enjoyed a delightful evening even before the formal conference proceedings actually started.
At 11:45 on Saturday morning, the conference was called to order by Dr. Mary Schroeder who kept the conference moving as its most talented Mistress of Ceremony. Dr. Schroeder and Michael Bragg offered a formal greeting to the attendees and introduced the order of service for the conference.
First, our friend, Roy Pilot, BSI, presented a most illuminating discussion of the archaeological discovery of what has come to be known as "Piltdown Man" in England. These remains were initially presented as providing evidence for the existence, in England, of humanoids predating the oldest known human previously identified. Speculation was set forth that these remains near Piltdown might actually be those of "the missing link" between humans and lower primates. "Piltdown Man" was ultimately exposed as having been a hoax. Several investigators over the years have suggested that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, himself, participated in the hoax. Roy Pilot gave evidence casting serious doubt on our revered Sir Arthur’s involvement in this deception.
One of the true highlights of the conference happened when Rosemary Michaud (author of Sherlock Holmes and the Somerset Hunt, among others) came to the podium. In her presentation, The Medley of Fear, she reviewed some real-life aspects of existence in turn-of-the-century Pennsylvania and West Virginia coalfields – the environment which gave inspiration to Sir Arthur’s The Valley of Fear. Ms. Michaud’s emphasis centered on ethnic Irish and their lives in the coalfields. She commented on The Molly Maguires and The Scowrers and, to the delight of those assembled, she punctuated her presentation with personal renditions of Irish folksongs while accompanying herself on the guitar! Rosemary was a real "show stopper!"
There was something of a groan of disappointment from the audience when John Smithkey, III reported that his presentation on Jack the Ripper was not to be filled with blood and gore. He was quick, however, to remind his audience that all the gory details were contained in his book, Jack the Ripper: The Inquest of the Final Victim, Mary Kelly, which was on sale at the conference. Mr. Smithkey used a collection of photographic slides, most of which he had personally taken in London, to escort his audience to the locations of The Ripper’s grisly crimes. In his presentation, Mr. Smithkey gave a very revealing overview of the seamier side of Victorian England. As the name of his book would imply, Mr. Smithkey’s comments concentrated on The Ripper’s last victim, Mary Kelly – he even raised some interesting doubts as to whether the mutilated body was actually that of Mary Kelly at all! An interesting hypothesis, indeed!
Eminent Illinois Sherlockian, Brad Keefauver, BSI, brought to the attendees an interesting challenge in his presentation,Here Come the Brides. Which canonical woman, if any, would have made a suitable bride for Mr. Sherlock Holmes? He enlisted a few members of the audience to act as a sort of "review board." He provided each "happily married man" on his ad hoc "review board" with a police whistle. Mr. Keefauver then read the roster of all women who appeared in the Canon, along with their possible qualifications as Mr. Holmes’ bride. If, at any time, any member of the "review board" thought the woman being described could not qualify as a viable bride, he could exercise "veto power" simply by blowing his whistle! At the end of the presentation, the general audience was invited to vote for the female canonical characters who had survived the police whistle vetoes. The three women who received the most votes were Violet Smith (SOLI), Irene Adler (SCAN), and Maud Bellamy (LION). Can you guess which of these "lucky girls" was finally designated by the attendees at The Game’s Afloat III as the most suitable bride for Mr. Sherlock Holmes? Which, if any of these, would you pick?
At this point in the conference, Mr. Terence Faherty gave a marvelous presentation on the career of Mr. Basil Rathbone. At his request, exposition of his presentation has been excluded from this review. Should you ever hear of Mr. Faherty's giving his presentation in your neighborhood, we do recommend it to your attention - it is excellent and entertaining.
After some closing comments by Dr. Mary Schroeder, the assemblage adjourned to "The Library" for biscuits and sherry generously provided by Gordon Speck and Jessica Young. As those of us "in the know" were aware at the time, "The Library" was a back room area in McNulty’s pub! (There really are some books there, but we saw no one reading any.)
Here we see McNulty's decked out in "spiderwebs" for the Halloween weekend. Warm Sherlockian conviviality (enhanced by a more than adequate quantity of excellent sherry!) permeated the gathering which lasted until time to change for the formal reception and dinner in the Westport’s Skylight Room. An excellent dinner among congenial Sherlockian companions was capped off by a playing of a "radio play" written especially for the occasion by the remarkably talented Art Schroeder and starring Randy Getz, Mary Schroeder, and Gordon Speck (who once played Mrs. Hudson in another of Art’s amazing radio plays). Here is Randy Getz "tuning" the old cathedral-top radio through which the assembled diners heard Art Schroeder’s dramatic original play, The 71st and ½ Annual Running of the Wessex Cup and/or Plate.

Carolyn Senter, of Classics Specialties, was just one of the vendors whose wares were on display at The Game’s Afloat III. Here we see Carolyn displaying Classic Specialties’ original "Holmes Is Where theHeart Is" sweatshirt for the shoppers visiting the vendors’ area. Other vendors present included Joe Eckrich, Bill and Lynda Conway (from Pittsburgh), and Scott Price (from Memphis).