Thursday, July 31, 2014

NORW - Brad's summer reading list #17 - no bones about it.

The first image to come to mind for me when re-reading this tale was; Where is Watson at the time he put pen to paper to record this story of Sherlock Holmes?
He probably would have been in his fifties.
Was he still with Holmes? Was he married?
The publication date of this story is 1903. It is believed Watson was once again married in 1902. So it would seem he was happily sequestered in his home study when he recorded it.

Holmes at the time of this tale is recently back from his great hiatus. Watson has moved back in to Baker St., at Holmes' request. Holmes is however bored with the lack work for his singular talents. At one point he remarks how London once was the European capital of high crime, and he longs for those more active days.
It would be interesting, if records had been kept, to compare crime statistics for major European cities at this time.

Holmes has trouble hiding his glee when McFarlane shows up with what seems to be a case worthy of Holmes' abilities.
The following line reminds one of a small child trying to restrain his emotions after receiving good news; “Arrest you!” said Holmes. “This is really most grati—most interesting. On what charge do you expect to be arrested?”
As this summers reading has suggested (as does Bill Cochrans book), Holmes appears to have come back from his travels a much more easily satisfied man.

Another incident on the first few pages of the story that I found interesting was how Holmes offered an asthmatic a cigarette.  Although definitely a no-no now a days, in Holmes time was it thought a cigarette would help ones breathing.   The following advertisements may suggest that that was indeed the case.  (And Watson doesn't admonish Holmes in any way for this suggestion.)

(But don't give it to kids under six.)

(see Cubeb)
The mystery itself is good, with a very good plot along with very good detective work. Lestrade is, as always, Lestrade.

And once again we get a fine example of how far forensics had or had no come at this time in Holmes life.
It is not uncommon in modern forensic science for the police to determine the types of bones found at a site by DNA, bone measurement and probably any number of other ways to tell one bone from another.
And it also is the case with the examination of the blood samples. It doesn't appear that there was a method yet that could determine the nature of the blood.

There were probably many naturalist in Europe at the time of this story that could identify different types of bones, but it doesn't seem to be the police forces practice to involve experts from other fields yet.
Watson may have been able to help, but he did not visit the bone site during the story.

I would have been a little worried about starting a fire in the house, but, after all, it was a fairly modern villa so probably it met up to some better fire standards than . .  let's say. . . something built during. . . Victorian times.

So. next time you are feeling under the weather. . . .

But make mine a Guinness!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Canonical Quiz - What story is this poking fun at?

LION - Brad's summer reading list # 16 - Holmes does community service and the other 'The Woman'.

Personally I think LION was written because Holmes was asked by some older women on some local board seeking stories by notable locals that could go into some local publication that was going to raise money for the lifeboat service or something like that. Instead of another cook book, these ladies were trying something different. And since Holmes seems in a very good frame of mind at this point in his life he thinks, "What the heck. I'll do it!"

We have to wonder if Holmes was toying with some of our conceptions of him as he wrote this story down.

We are often lead to believe that Holmes was loathe to leave his beloved London. And although many of his cases take him away from his home, he always seems to be in a hurry to return.
He has used fishing and other pursuits as a guise when it has helped in his 'cover story', but we don't really ever hear that the natural world holds much draw for him.
If we look at his personality we can however see where, to his scientific mind, the study of the natural world could hold much interest. But before this story it appeared that nature only held interest to him where it might apply to his chosen profession.

We learn that Holmes is now living in Sussex along the channel coast. High above the sea, near chalk cliffs.
He has a housekeeper with him which could or could not be Mrs. Hudson. We never really  know Mrs. Hudson's age, and she to may have longed for many years to escape London.

We learn that although Holmes keeps in touch with Watson, it is indeed rare and limited. We have to believe at this time that if Watson was indeed still unattached he would have followed Holmes to Sussex. Hopefully it means Watson is happily married or at least wanting to be near grand kids or somethin'.

The case itself is very unimportant, except to the dead man. With such knowledgeable people at 'The Gables", it seems rather remarkable that no one else figured out the origin of the criminal. (It took Holmes a week to come to his conclusions.)
Well, I guess the science master figured it out, but unfortunately he was the one that got killed.
At one point Holmes actually seems to over think the problem. Looking for a crime where none exists.

It is also interesting to note that there are two references to where Holmes 'stores' his knowledge, and once again both making reference to architectural images.
We have often, especially of late, heard of Holmes' 'brain attic' and also referenced his lumber-room. (Both references can be found in FIVE.)
In LION, when finally coming up with the answer to the mystery, Holmes makes first a comment about his brain being like a "crowded box-room" And later, just a paragraph or so away we hear he keeps his books and reference material in a "great garret room in his little house". Basically saying the very same thing as in FIVE but with two different phrases.

We also find a Holmes who can possibly out write Watson on the appearance and comportment of the fairer sex. Holmes himself says he is taken by the presences of Maud. Who would have though after all these years.

It is also interesting to note that when researching J. G. Wood and the book Holmes refers to we come up with lots of Sherlockian familiarities; Norwood, Croydon, St Barts, Boys own Magazine.
Watson, Holmes or the literary agent, either or all, could have known J. G. Wood, or at least been familiar with his work.

Perhaps the two greatest speculation that have come out of this story are; Where is the location of Holmes' retirement cottage? And why did Holmes wish to study bees?

Who could not like the man Holmes as become at this point in his life. Social, well respected and still very, very interesting.

As with all the cases, most of the fun is written between the lines. Where first this case may seem uninteresting, there is much to be gotten out of it.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

NAVA - Brad's summer reading list #15 - Holmes and Brett at their best.

What's not to like about NAVA?

Holmes is at Baker St., and busy on a case and playing with his chemistry set.

Watson is married ( I like Watson being married) and living away from Baker St. with his wife. We assume it is Mary, but Watson never actually says as much.

And we learn a little about Watson's early days.
(Has anyone ever tried to peg down a location for where Percy and Lord Holdhurst came from and tried to make a connection to Watson's region?)

The case is interesting and involved, and the clues are fun to follow.

Holmes seems to be in very good spirits throughout and once again displays his sense of theatrics and humor.
And once again almost giving someone a heart attack.

We also get an insight into how many cases he has worked on and the nature of some of his clients.

We even get Holmes acknowledging the good traits of a women.

We get some wonderful quotable material.
We get the wonderful monologue about the nature of rose's and flowers, insight into Holmes views on board-schools and the social fabric of the future of England. And is Mrs. Hudson Scottish or is it just that her cooking skills are being compared to a Scotch woman's?

We have to kinda wonder where Mycroft was throughout this one
And we also have to wonder why more security wasn't allowed for with such an important document on the premises.

We once again get a nobleman with a weak chin, and a beautiful woman with lots of backbone.

You also have to wonder why on this occasion, when Holmes expected someone to break into the house, that had been shown to carry a sharp possible weapon, he did not have an armed Watson and a Lestrade type individual with him. (We know Lestrade always keeps something in his hip pocket.)
He felt it was needed in BLAC, so why not here.
Surely Percy could have been gotten out of the way into his old bedroom. Or was Holmes unsure of his plan and thought if it failed, the case most then be pursued in London? Or did they need to be nearer a hospital in case Percy did not survive the theatrics.
(Note in the picture on the right, where breakfast is being served. It is depicted as a table other than in the sitting rooms of Baker St., where we always assume Holmes and Watson took there meals. Paget depicted the table as one other than near the fireplace we are accustomed to imagining. No slipper on the mantel, which is referenced in this story. No pen knife affixing letters either. Platters on the mantel instead,  as you would expect in a more formal dining room. How interesting.)

But even with all this great material to chose from, none of these are my favorite part of this story.

For me, as with many of the cases, it is the little references and objects peppered throughout that are a symbol of the contemporary time in which the tales were written. Objects we no longer have a use for or at least are not commonly referenced any more.

How often have to heard someone ask for char-slippers? And would we even know what to look for if they did?
Matter of fact, other than in cooking, do you ever use the word char?

Have you ever heated up something on a spirit-lamp? (Now, Watson said spirit-lamp, not spirit stove.) If you do a lot of camping you may have used a spirit stove, but they aren't called that much anymore. And the fuel you use is probably a little different
You don't have to ring a bell to get your coffee; no phones, no intercoms, no text message.

These are the types of reference I love in the stories. Things that make the atmosphere for me. Things I would love to put in my replica of 221b.

Like I said; What's not to like about NAVA.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Because it's a little past Friday yet you still deserve it and it has been a while.

DANC - Brad's summer reading list #14 - The Sherlockian two step.

The Adventure of the Dancing Men is not a story that I have a whole lot feeling about.

Lots of attempts have been made to finish out the complete alphabet using dancing men. Just search Google and see how many there are.

The story is similar to SECO in that a woman attempts to save the honor of her husband by making bad decisions. In both cases the women want us to believe that what ever is pursuing them from their past is not really all that bad, but bad enough to destroy the honor of their husbands.
One is willing to betray her country, the other destroy her marriage.
Yet neither one feels able to trust their spouses with the truth.

I believe in Brad's review of DANC, he argues that honor and loyalty were different beasts in Holmes times than they are now.
And for the most part I would have to agree, well at least the perception of what honor was suppose to be.

In DANC we do however have a women who has taken it upon herself to remove herself from an environment which she was loathe to, basically living in a den of thieves.
She has secured enough of her own funds to remove herself from Chicago and relocate to London, where either by social graces or monetary self-sufficiency (or both) able to participate in the London social scene at the Jubilee, which we have to assume is Victoria's Golden or Diamond Jubilee (1887 or 1897, which also helps date this story).
She is not a weak women. She was able to pick herself up and start a new life.
We could easily call her a Gold-digger, coming to London to find a wealthy man to settle with.
But, as with honor, times were different then and women were not suppose to make there own way (although many did) and events like the Jubilee were perfect times for finding perfect mates.
But she wasn't so secure in her independence as to be able to trust her husband with the total truth.
But we have come to believe, in the Canon, that this was just the way things were done.

It seems to have been a fine marriage up until the diminutive dancers started showing up.
But still she couldn't tell him the truth, even though it was tearing her marriage apart.
And we can't believe she didn't see that, "Oh, it's okay honey. I see you getting the strange messages and all. And you are sad all the time, and about to fall apart, but I trust you will solve this on your own and our marriage is just fine because I am a lonely country squire and don't have any other prospects."
Ya gotta wonder about the reasoning of people sometimes.

So my questions are; Was she doing it out of honor or was there more to her past than what she told her husband?

Given the information he had, should Holmes have acted earlier?

Does Watson ever figure out how Holmes does it?

Again, like Brad said, different times and all. . . .

We do find Holmes and Watson together in Baker St. And we once again get Watson astound with Holmes' abilities. (Did Watson ever learn how Holmes did it?)

Although a fun story, I think it is the mysterious dancing figures that has made this story so popular.
Has anyone ever done a dancing women code?

He's not just ours anymore!. . . as if he ever was.

How Benedict Cumberbatch Won the First Day of Comic-Con

Benedict Cumberbatch’s visage — in which he portrays an intensely focused Sherlock Holmes — adorns posters and T-shirts throughout a cavernous but crowded room, but it was the man himself who brought the San Diego Comic-Con to a standstill when he took part in the panel introducing Dreamworks Animation’s latest installment in theirMadagascar series, The Penguins of Madagascar, in theaters this Thanksgiving.
 Even before he took the stage inside the convention center’s packed Hall H, the 37-year-old actor was making his presence felt: when they showed the clip of the character he voices — an “all-action” James Bond-like wolf who is head of an elite team of animal helpers called the North Wind — the hall erupted in loud cheers. Indeed, the screaming started anytime moderator Craig Ferguson, or anyone else for that matter, merely mentioned the words Benedict Cumberbatch.
So, why is the London native, who not long ago was best known for his stage and voiceover work, suddenly the undisputed king of Comic-Con’s first day? Let’s break it down:
He is genuinely humble. “You exist?” wondered Cumberbatch quizzically as he peered out into throngs of fans. “You don’t get to see this normally. I have never seen this before.” “First time at Comic-Con?” asked Ferguson. “Uh, yeah,” replied the actor. “I think you will enjoy it. Many people are happy you are here.” Talk about an understatement.
He is fully committed to his work. “I worked in Yellowstone park as a wolf for awhile,” joked Cumberbatch when asked how he prepared for the part. “I was accepted by the pack quite quickly. It got a bit hairy, no pun intended, when I became the alpha male. In about a month or two, I realized that two of the other wolves were Christian Bale and Daniel Day-Lewis.” The hardest part of his role? “Getting un-wolfed,” he replied. “Don’t put any kittens in front of me.”
He’s is a natural-born wit: “I like to use my body,” he said, when asked what he thinks of doing voice-work for animation. Later on, when a questioner was struggling to come up with something to ask him, he said, “Why don’t you ask me about my shoe size?”
He has solid geek credentials: The first book the man who would one day play the dragon Smaug read as a kid? “The Hobbit, actually. That was in my head as an imaginary space when I tried to get to sleep at night. I am not sure how healthy that is, but it worked out alright.” When asked what superhero he would most like to play, Cumberbatch, who has been rumored to play Doctor Strange in the recently annnounced Marvel movie, he did not exactly rise to the bait. “Batman, I guess,” says Cumberbatch. His costar, John Malkowich, chose Lois Lane, but based on the chemistry the two showed on stage, he would make a lovely Robin to Cumberbatch’s Caped Crusader.
Photo: Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A pod of Sherlockians just doesn't sound right, so.. . . .

So Doyleockian is suggesting another 'collective' noun.
And I am going to help spread the word.

A gathering of more than one Sherlockian should now be called a "'Deduction' of Sherlockians."

What do ya think?

Monday, July 21, 2014

SECO - Brad's summer reading list #13 - The Second Stain - a couple of quivering stiff upper lips.

As is so true with many of Watson's works, it is the first paragraph that really grabs your attention.

We find out, that at the time of the writing down of this case, that Holmes is retired, no longer in London and seeking solitude to study and to bee-farm in Sussex.

We know at the time the case took place, Holmes and Watson were still together in Baker St; ". . . we found two visitors of European fame in our humble room. ..".

What is really fun to try to figure out in this case is the date and not many have come up with a great argument yet.

And Watson doesn't really help.

Several chronologist of the Canon place the date for this story in July of 1887 or 1888.
We do however have Watson himself stating in NAVA that the story took place in the July succeeding his marriage, which took place after SIGN which most people put in 1888, with two chronologist putting SIGN in the fall of that year. Which means SECO would have to be, if you are going with July, in July of 1889. But neither of the two I use most place SECO after SIGN.

Again Watson does not help us in stating they he still lives in Baker St. and that this case took place in the Autumn of the unnamed year.

So, which story do you believe and from where do you take your dates.

NAVA says; "The July which immediately succeeded my marriage was made memorable by three cases of interest." Of which he lists SECO as one.

SIGN of which most put in 1888 in the fall, which would place SECO in 1889, which only a few do, but if you use the other stories for dates, that is the only year it works.

And in SECO Watson says the story took place in the autumn of an unnamed year or decade.

By 1889 there had been two Prime Ministers who could have been  'twice Premier' by that time of the story.

So the exercise becomes one of which time to you believe Watson to be accurate and which facts do you question.

One problem with dating the story in July is that Watson states in SECO that the story took place in the autumn. If he was being vague about everything else about the story, year and decade, way not be vague about the season or the day.
Was it meant to be misleading?
Is there a reason the autumn and Tuesday are important?

We will probably never know when SECO actually took place, the best you can do is build an argument based on the most facts that actually fit your theory.
Was this 'episode', Watson's words, that has become known as SECO part of a more elaborate investigation that include the NAVA and un-documented 'The Tired Captain' (hence forth know as TIRE)?
We know two involve international intrigue. And with a somewhat military title of 'The Tired Captain', it to could spell international adventure.

So, pick your starting point and prove your argument. Well, at least as far as Watson will let you.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

'Elementary' Season three - Because Brad brought it up. . ..

Elementary Season 3 Spoilers, Casting: Sherlock's New Partner, Watson's New Boyfriend; Dynamic Changes Expected

By Arlene Paredes | July 17, 2014 4:33 AM EST
"Elementary" Season 3 spoilers in TV entertainment news reveals Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) gets a new apprentice and Joan Watson (Lucy Liu) has a new boyfriend. These updates are expected to affect the dynamic between the two main characters in the CBS series.

Sherlock Holmes (Miller) gets himself involved with the British Intelligence MI6. Watson (Liu) moves out of Holmes' pad. Mycroft (Rhys Ifans) fakes his death. These are the developments in the Elementary Season 2 finale.
When the series returns on CBS later this year, Holmes will be "trying to get in Joan's good graces after almost a year away in London," TVLine reported, implying a possible year-long time jump in the Elementary Season 3 premiere.
Ophelia Lovibond joins the Elementary Season 3 cast as Kitty Winter, Sherlock's new apprentice. TVLine also reported Winter's relationship with Sherlock Holmes "will have ongoing repercussions for his relationship with Joan."
Lovibond also stars in Marvel's "Guardians of the Galaxy" as Carina. This film, which features Chris Pratt, Lee Pace and Zoe Saldana, debuts in U.S. theatres on Aug. 1.        
Raza Jaffrey is also in for Elementary Season 3 as Watson's new boyfriend. It seems Mycroft's fake death effectively ends any further romance with Watson, at least for the time being.
Fans are eager to find out in Elementary Season 3 whatever Holmes finds in his MI6 stint, and how he would find his way back from London to New York (assuming Sherlock will be NYC-bound, after all). Captain Thomas Gregson (Aidan Quinn) and Detective Marcus Bell (Jon Michael Hill) are likely to play a role in Sherlock's return.
Will Sherlock Holmes backslide to substance addiction? Viewers saw Sherlock secure a packet of heroin from his secret stash, but it remains to be seen what he does with it. With new characters coming, Elementary Season 3 is hoped to bring some fresh twists and turns for its avid viewers.
The Elementary Season 3 premiere airs on CBS on Oct. 30, according to TVLine.

And since we brought up talk about the accomodations. . . .


Thanks IHOSE for the link to the good piece on 221b Baker St.

Smithsonian Magazine.

A mystery for the Supreme Court: Is Sherlock Holmes Copyrigted?

A Mystery for the Supreme Court: Is Sherlock Holmes Copyrighted?
The estate of Arthur Conan Doyle is asking the U.S. Supreme Court for help in stopping the publication of a book based on his two most famous creations: Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson.
A California man, Leslie Klinger, is preparing a book of stories, based on the characters, by a group of contemporary writers. Doyle's estate is insisting Klinger must pay for a license to use the characters.
But are Holmes, Watson, and other aspects of the detective stories still covered by copyright? Klinger, with the backing of two federal court decisions, says no. The Doyle estate says yes.
Doyle's Sherlock Holmes works — four novels and 56 short stories — were published in the United States between 1887 and 1927. U.S.copyright protection for the novels and the first 46 stories has lapsed: They are now in the public domain. The final ten stories remain under copyright.
Klinger argues that the essential characteristics of Holmes and Watson were established in the works now in the public domain. Therefore, he says, he and his team are free to write new works based on them.

Image: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859 - 1930) author best known for writing the Sherlock Holmes stories. KEYSTONE / GETTY IMAGES
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859 - 1930), author best known for writing the Sherlock Holmes stories.

But Doyle's estate insists that the characters continued to develop throughout the course of all the Holmes works. "Many aspects of these characters' natures are not revealed until the final ten stories," they say in a submission to the Supreme Court.
For example, the estate says, Holmes grew more emotional, became closer to Watson, dropped his aversion to dogs, and embraced new techniques for solving crimes.
What's at stake, say lawyers for the estate, is the ability "to manage the Sherlock Holmes character's further promotion and development through licensing agreements at the time when Sherlock Holmes moves and television shows are more popular than ever."
Klinger, a recognized expert on the Holmes stories (known to aficionados as "the canon") agreed to pay a licensing fee for an earlier collection of Holmes-inspired stories. But this time he's fighting in court, and the game's afoot.
In June, a federal appeals court ruled in his favor. "When a story falls into the public domain, story elements — including characters covered by the expired copyright — become fair game for follow-on authors," wrote Judge Richard Posner of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.
Those copyrights cannot be extended, the court said, "by virtue of the incremental additions of originality" in the later works.
The Doyle estate summons a host of other literary characters in its submission to the Supreme Court, arguing that the appeals court's decision leaves Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple, The Cat in the Hat, James Bond, and even Winnie the Pooh without copyright protection based on the earliest date they entered the public domain.
The estate is asking the Supreme Court to put the ruling on hold while it prepares an appeal.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

STUD - Brad's summer reading list - #12a - a look at the date - Once more this hallowed path we walk.

I am looking forward to Sherlock Peoria's take on STUD and I hope we get it today.
Brad is very involved with some other topics at the moment so I am not sure if that will happen or not.

When Brad several weeks ago posted his reading list he suggested that he believed the case, or at least the part concerning the meeting of Holmes and Watson,  to have taken place the weekend of July 16th, 1881.

But on further reading I can't say I agree with that. But I am looking forward to his explanation.

I noticed Baring-Gould placed the date for the case of STUD in March of 1881, probably because Watson says March 4th.. I have not read his reasons yet, nor have I looked at any other chronologies.

But let's look at what we know.
We know Watson took his degree in 1878.
Which left him plenty of time to get trained by the army and arrive in In Candahar (his spelling) in time for the Battle of Maiwand.
The Battle of Maiwand took place on the 27th of July 1881.
So, after the great effort by Murray, Watson was sent to Peshawar, where he 'rallied' to the point of being able to get around and do some walking.
At this point he contracted 'enteric' fever.

Watson only states that 'for months'  he despaired for his life, giving no actually length of time for his recovery.
That 'for months' can be taken several ways.

The easiest way out would to be to argue that what Watson actually meant was 'four' months, and the 'for' was just a mis-print. But like I said, that's the easy way out.

But let's look at a possible time for his recovery. I am not a doctor nor have I played one on TV, so most of this is just speculation.

After his shoulder injury he would probably be up walking long before the actual wound hailed.
So let's say about a month after being shoot Watson contracted that dreaded "curse of our Indian possessions".

At which point he was sent back to England.

So I guess at this point we have to decide what for us would be a reasonable time for "for months"
One modern estimation of how long typhoid fever will last without treatment is " a month or more".

Another states about two to four weeks.

We do however have to accept that Watson was in a somewhat debilitated state and was therefore weakened in constitution.

But given that, even if we give this period of time five months before he was finally sent home, that makes his arrival, after a month of travel,  December when he returns to Portsmouth.

He was obviously well on his way to recovery once he arrived for he than "gravitated" to London, and no mention of time spent in hospital once in London is mentioned.

He next states that he then spends some time in a private hotel in the Strand.

Again we have to decide what Watson means by his description of "some time". Do we assume "some time" is longer or shorter than "for months".

We know he had nine months to make a decision on his situation, but we also know he didn't wait that long.

However, if he did indeed wait almost nine months and we are using our earlier argument of his recovery and travel taking about six months, that wold place him meeting Holmes in August or September.

But it is Watson's statement "It was upon the 4th of March, as I have good reason to remember. . ." that throws, for me, off the argument that this first chapter took place in July. Unless you want to argue that the relationship took more that a few months to develop to the point of this narration, and that would take us into March of 1882.

Watson also states that it was only for the week or so that they had no callers, and not for several months.

So if we are to accept that this first chapter of STUD took place in July of 1881 or we accept that it took until March of 1882 for Watson to write "It was upon the 4th of March. . .", which means it took them almost a year to get to the point were Watson would know of Holmes' occupation.

And I don't accept that.
If we lengthen the time of Watson's recovery and assume that he took almost all of his allotted nine months before he realized he needed new 'digs' then we must put the line "It was upon the 4th or March. .. " in 1882. And I don't accept that either. That would mean Watson's recovery took almost two years or it took Holmes and Watson a very long time to get to know each others habits.

Watson is very specific on two important dates, three if you need to count the year he got his degree.
First the Battle of Maiwand, which we know took place in July of 1880.
Second is the line "4th of March".

Remember we are only arguing when the first chapter takes place, the meeting of Holmes and Watson.
If we accept Brad's Holmes and Watson meetings in July of 1881 we have to place the line "4th of March" in 1882, unless you believe Watson did  not mean the 4th of March.
Baring-Gould argues that STUD, the actual case took place in March of 1881, from Friday the 4th to Monday the 7th. He does not argue that they met in March.

If we except that the case took place in March of 1881 we have to also accept that they met a few weeks or so before March 4th, which would be late January or early February.

If you except July of 1881 as the date for the first chapter, one year after Watson's injury, you have to accept March of 1882 as the date of STUD. And neither Brad nor Baring-Gould place any cases in their chronologies of the Canon in 1882.

If you also accept July of 81 as the year and month of their meeting and you accept 1881 as the year of STUD than the date March 4th means nothing.
And I don't buy that.

Where Watson is for the most part specific, and he is three times in this story, we should accept that.
Later in chapter two we have a discussion between Holmes and Watson that could only take place between two individuals that do not yet know each other very well, which also helps place the first chapter before 1882.

The conversation is the one where Holmes finally explains his occupation to Watson and also Watson gets his first real education in Holmes' method. And at one point in this discourse Watson, to himself, states ' "This fellow is very clever, " I said to myself, "but he is certainly very conceited."

The only way I see that you could accept that this first chapter took place in July is to discard the 4th or March completely.

I am, however, going to take Watson at his word.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

STUD, Walking on hallowed ground - Brad's summer reading list - #12 - A Study in Scarlet (STUD), Chapter One.

I can't imagine what it would be like to read this story, again, for the first time. (Well at least till my mind finishes going the way it seems to be going.)
I don't even think STUD was in the first collection of Sherlock Holmes stories I read.

Does it carry as much weight for those who are introduced to him in book form first (does that happen anymore?) as it does to us 'scholars' (I use the term weakly in my case) and fans, those of use who have traveled to Baker St. more than once?

Let's face it, most introductions to Holmes and Watson now probably take place through television or movies and perhaps fan fiction and pastiche.

Many probably picked up the books during the hiatus between seasons of 'Sherlock' ( is that 'media made' break now going to be considered the 'Second, Third, Fourth Great Hiatus?), which is fine. I have watched many shows that have interested me enough to go and read more about the subject. But it means we are no longer introduced to Holmes without any prior knowledge of what is or is not to come.

And it doesn't seem the impact of this first chapter, the chapter where John Watson first meets Sherlock Holmes, had very much effect on the readers in 1887. The story was not a run away hit or an over night success. It was, however, a successful beginning. First published in 1887, it would take three more years for another story to take place, SIGN. Holmes popularity would not really take off until Watson's (Doyle's) association with the Strand Magazine in the form of short stories.

It probably wasn't till men and women started to meet and talk after several cases had been adapted to publication form that the importance of this meeting was heralded as a memorable moment.

While most Sherlockians achingly wait for a really good period adaption of this first meeting (there may have been one that I missed) to be put on film, the first readers of STUD did not realize how important this meeting was because they had no idea that such an intensive scrutiny of the chronology would follow. As far as they knew, this would be a 'one of'. They didn't know 60 cases would follow. Did we know Harry Potter would be so big when exploring the first book? Or James Bond?

It could probably be argued that this first chapter can never be read by anyone the first time and be judged fairly for that first reading anymore. Let's face it, it will indeed be rare for someone to discover Sherlock Holmes with out having met him somewhere else first.

I know I didn't.
I first met Holmes as played by Rathbone. And then again only many years later sitting in an old logging camp in Maine around the fire. But even then I knew Holmes and Watson pretty well before I read the book. And this most important introduction was not included.

Can we revel in the importance of this chapter without taking it as part of the whole?

I argue we can only do that after we know what the whole is, or at least most of the sixty stories.
It is in "Playing the Game" that the weight of this chapter really becomes important.
It is the starting point of all that follows. And what a great start it is.

But it is now hard to imagine this meeting for the first time. My head is already filled with all I know about the two men.
Benedict Cumberbatch's image is standing at the table in the laboratory ( I think he would have been great in a traditional meeting of the two). (And yes, I would have loved to see him do this chapter in a period correct presentation.)
Perhaps the best way we can look at this chapter now is as if it where the pilot episode of an upcoming TV show. Networks know they have to come up with something that really grabs our attention and makes us want to come back. Would this 'episode' have made you want to come back?

And even that isn't fair to readers past because we know, as with most pilots, that at least several more episode's are going to follow. Readers of STUD did not know if that was going to happen or not.

I think, if done as an episode to an upcoming season,  STUD carries enough dramatic weight to warrant visiting the new show again next week.
Did readers in 1887 become so intrigued by these two characters that they hoped 'the season' would continue with new 'episodes'? Was there fan speculation about what was going to happen next?
I don't know.
I don't believe it had the same bang as the first episode of, oh, so many years ago now,'Sherlock'.

I don't know that I agree with Brad's placing this chapter in June, I have to do more research on that.
Watson does give the impression when he says, "It is upon the 4th of March, as I have good reason to remember. . . .", that he had only been with Holmes for a few weeks or at the most a few months when he sits down to write what would be in chapter two. And when Watson is usually that specific, I tend to take him at his word.

No, I can't imagine reading this chapter, again, for the very first time and getting out of it what I do now.
But I am okay with that for the very same reason I don't recommend new readers reading the books in any annotated version for the first time; The discovery that is Holmes and Watson needs to come slowly and be enjoyed. It is only by going over and over these stories with what we learn from our own 'research' and the research of others that we begin to form a solid, for ourselves, image of these two.

And that's why I am enjoying Brad's reading suggestions so much. It makes me reread them and come up some thing I believe worthy of the discussion.

Thanks Brad.

Just in from Huff Post

Sherlock Holmes Versus God Almighty: Who Is More Real? The Multiverse Says Go With the Gumshoe

All stories are true.
On its face, this is a preposterous statement. By definition fiction is false. The tourists who for decades sought out 221B Baker Street in hopes of glimpsing Sherlock Holmes were barking up an imaginary tree after fictional prey: neither the address nor the sleuth existed. Since then, the address has come into existence as the Sherlock Holmes Museum and the story has been updated, but the man remains a myth. Benedict Cumberbatch only plays Holmes. There is no such person. The lawyer's familiar disclaimer, "Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental," guarantees it. Right?

Well, as physicist Sean Carroll likes to remind us, we live in a preposterous universe. If, as many cosmologists now argue, we occupy a dot in an endless multiverse, then all stories that can be true must be true. Somewhere out there, the real Sherlock pursues the real Moriarty. Somewhere out there Dudley Do-Right rescues Nell. Somewhere, Huck Finn and Jim really are drifting down the big river.
How can that be the case? As it appears, lots of ways. If the Totalitarian Principle holds, it cannot be otherwise. That principle of quantum mechanics, enunciated by Nobel laureate physicist Murray Gell-Mann, tells us "Everything not forbidden is compulsory."
In Our Mathematical Universe, physicist Max Tegmark points out that if the universe simply goes on forever, then just as a deck of cards endlessly shuffled and dealt will produce every possible hand, we must expect to find every possible combination of particles, including arrangements called Sherlock, Dudley, and Huck.
But Tegmark adds that the same result arrives if eternal inflation proves true. Inflation, the fantastically rapid swelling of the universe after the Big Bang, followed by a much slower local expansion, is the best explanation we have for the observable bubble around us. It, too, yields endless bubbles of every variety.
Brian Greene, in his book The Hidden Reality, concurs. Like Tegmark, he admits that multiverse ideas, though mathematically sound, are speculative. But Greene points with confidence to yet another route to everythingness: the Many Worlds understanding of quantum mechanics. In contrast to the multiverse, quantum weirdness is observable and undeniable. But explaining what goes on when a particle drops out of superposition has been, to say the least, a challenge.
Many Worlds is now the most widely accepted explanation -- among physicists, anyway. For the rest of us it is a jaw-dropping, "say whut, now?" kind of story. Quantum mechanics tells us that when a particle such as an electron decoheres out of the vagaries of superposition it could be anywhere -- though it is more likely to be "here" rather than "there."
Many Worlds tells us that what happens is the Universe, complete with a copy of you, me, and the electron, splits into many copies with outcomes proportional to the odds regarding "here" and "there." Most of the time you end up in the copy with high odds. Once in awhile you get a surprise. Seen from "above", everything happens. Including "fiction."
Well, not all fiction. Stories of the impossible -- say, Noah's flood or Harry Potter -- don't happen anywhere. Or do they? Tegmark and others encourage us to think about yet more universes, ones where the laws of physics themselves vary. Hah, you say. When pigs fly!
But why not? An endless multiverse need not have uniform laws. If the rules that govern the behavior of everything can take every possible form, then what's left on the forbidden list?
Mount your brooms! Bring on the flying pigs! Expecto Patronum!
Curiously, though, something is excluded. It comes not from science but from religion. That something is God. Traditional theism holds that God is supremely perfect in three ways: power, knowledge, and goodness.
A longstanding objection to this claim is the Problem of Evil. How, it asks, can a perfect being allow evil to exist? A body of apologetics devoted to staving off the Problem of Evil has followed, with answers that range from blaming Eve to disputing the existence of a best of all possible worlds.
In the teeth of an infinite multiverse, all these defenses collapse. A God who allows everything to happen makes no choices at all, and therefore cannot be a theistic God in any meaningful sense. At most, he can be a Creator, but that's hardly better. If all outcomes are realized, then there's no difference between a personal creator and an impersonal creative force.
This realization makes a paradox of the biblical claim "with God, all things are possible." If that dismays you, here are some comforting thoughts. Consider: if the more radical of multiverse scenarios is true, then somewhere must be a happy place called heaven where, the moment your earthly consciousness comes to an end, an identical copy of it will continue to exist. Sadly, however, the same must be true for an unpleasant place called hell.
Greater comfort, I think, is to be found in the realization that infinity is as problematic for science as it is for religion. Much as an infinitely perfect God leads to logical clashes with reality, an infinite multiverse bedevils attempts to apply tools such as probabilities to our understanding of the world. If everyone who buys a lottery ticket is a winner in some universe, why don't we all feel like winners? All those copies, including the one with the winning ticket, are genuinely us. What does it mean to hew to the average in an infinity of outcomes?
Of course, the world may be preposterous. Perhaps, like infinities, ultimate answers are unattainable or meaningless. But it's also possible that a more modest, elegant, and satisfying penultimate answer exists. The only way to know is to have faith in the future and to move ahead with an open-minded, rigorous search for as much of the truth as can be grasped -- the search we call science.

Big change at Gillette to Brett IV - but not a (to)big disappointment.

As word spreads today that the special guest, Mark Gatiss, will not be attending this years convention after all, I am sure we will hear some moans of disappointment, as we should. It would have been great fun to hear what he had to say and have had, perhaps a chance to meet him.

But with that said. . .

Don't let his inability to attend this year in anyway make you reconsider going.
The 'From Gillette to Brett' conventions are always great fun and the variety of speakers and guests always make it worth the drive.

I am still very much looking forward to it and hope to make new Sherlockian friends and catch up with old ones.

See ya there!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Where is on your Sherlock Holmes 'bucket list'?

Where would it be?
Reichenbach Falls?


Dartmoor and the Hound?

Baker Street?

The Criterion (no longer as it appeared in Watson's day)?

Or, if you have a fear of flight, would you rather go somewhere closer to home like Holmes Peak in Oklahoma?

Where is on your Holmes 'bucket list'?

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Brad's summer reading list #11 - Black Peter (BLAC) - Sherlockain pinterest

I love Black Peter! I don't know if that is akin to loving 'spotted dick' or what, but it is one of my favorites.
As well it should be.
It is the namesake story of the first scion I belonged (and still belong) to, The Harpooners of the Sea Unicorn. Taking a reference from BLAC and the building of missiles at then MacDonald Douglas in St. Charles. (We even had a fake harpoon the the most recent member to commit a Sherlockian faux pas had to carry throughout the meeting.)
Which meant we did a presentation on the story each year on the anniversary of our group.
So I have been over it a lot.
I even did a large painting of this F.D.S. illustration that we could hang at our meetings and events. It is one of my favorite F.D.S. illustrations.
So, needless to say, I have attended the inquiry into the death of Peter Carey many times.
But, like with most of the Canon, you can always walk away with something new.

And with the line; "I have never known my friend to be in better form, both mental and physical, than in the year ‘95. His increasing fame had brought with it an immense practice, and I should be guilty of an indiscretion if I were even to hint at the identity of some of the illustrious clients who crossed our humble threshold in Baker Street."
the date 1895 is firmly planted in the minds of readers as the date the will always be associated with Holmes and his time in Victorian history.

 ". . .  Here, though the world explode, these two survive,
And it is always eighteen ninety-five." V.S.
But arguably we would have to examine the four to six stories (depending on the chronology you follow) collected from 1895 in the canon to see how they hold up as favorites and to see if this was indeed Holmes at his best.
Several other years contain more documented cases. And none were actually published in 1895 to my knowledge.
1887, 88, and 89 all have many more documented cases than 1895.
But even with all that said, there are still some great things to explore in BLAC. Once again we find our adventure starting in Baker Street. Only Holmes and Watson are both present at the start of the case. And once again Scotland Yard is in need of Holmes' help.
Like so many we have been reviewing for Brad's summer reading list, the case again takes Holmes and Watson out of London to the more rural environs.
And again, as mentioned in the last review, the story involves nautical intrigue. And, as also mentioned, another wealthy man who got his gains from nefarious acts while on board a boat. Although we never actually meet Peter Carey, alive or dead, he has to rank up there with the best of the bad guys in the Canon for temper, strength and loathsomeness.
Repeating myself, once again we get some insight into Watson's knowledge of nautical terms and ship board life. It is never mentioned in any of the stories that Watson actually carries a note book with him, In many television and film adaptations we sometimes see Watson making notes at the end of the day, and there are a few Canonical references to back that up. But most of Watson's writings are done from memory, even his note taking. But to get the nautical references so accurate one most have some experience with boats, like the literary agent Doyle did. Or Watson was using a lot of artistic license.
Most of Holmes investigations take place from the confines of Baker St. with the aid of the newspapers and information he can gather from Baker St. The crime scene gives up little that Holmes does not already know.
Again we are teased in this tale of cases we will never read about; The sudden death of Cardinal Tusca and the Wilson the notorious canary-trainer. Oh, how we have speculated about those, especially Wilson, imagining how he could train canaries to commit crimes. Amazing! 
We get to meet Stanley Hopkins and find that he is not all that different the Lestrade other than he know Holmes does something different from the police but really can't get a hold of what that is.
And why was the elder Neligan, then Holmes and Watson, going to Norway. I mean the younger Neligan got the securities back, at least the ones that were left.  Well I guess in July Norway could be nice. Unless the original Neligan is not dead? What's up with that!
I did a presentation once about the difference in Whale and seal harpoons and the individuality of each type of hunt. We have had presentation on the design of steam trawlers, which was the Sea Unicorn. Terms and trades that were so common at the time, but unknown or unfamiliar to us now.
And very few tales have as much atmosphere as BLAC. First of course we have 221b Baker St.                                                                         We have a train ride.                                                                                             We have high adventure on the high sea.                                                     Mansion of dark happenings                                                                           A very grotesque crime scene (more on that in a minute).                   Interesting little room called 'the cabin'.                                                       Holmes and Watson about to embark on another adventure.
Now back to the point about grotesque. I have noticed with the re-reading of our summer reading list that the word grotesque has appeared several times, and not always in places where I would expect it. To me, the death of Peter Carey and the means by which it was carried out, would appear to have been very grotesque. At least me modern use in films and books. But seldom does Watson use the term as we would now. And for good reason. While I usually associated the word with horrible images in horror or action movies, which does apply, that is not the only use or original use of the word. And for a quick reference to the history of use of the word I will quote wikipedia; "    Since at least the 18th century (in French and German as well as English), grotesque has come to be used as a general adjective for the strange, fantastic, ugly, incongruous, unpleasant, or disgusting, and thus is often used to describe weird shapes and distorted forms such as Halloween masks. In art, performance, and literature, grotesque, however, may also refer to something that simultaneously invokes in an audience a feeling of uncomfortable bizarreness as well as empathic pity. More specifically, the grotesque forms on Gothic buildings, when not used as drain-spouts, should not be called gargoyles, but rather referred to simply as grotesques, or chimeras."
And several other sources have referenced about the same.

'Sherlock' Benedict Cumberbatch walking in with the harpoon
was indeed grotesque, as is the bug on our windshield. But several of the times Watson has used the word I questioned it's placement and, as in the case of BLAC, I questioned why it wasn't used there. But now we know.    
So, yea, I really like BLAC. It gives those of us who enjoy  what is now the history part of the stories a lot to think about.]
And that can never be wrong.        
Although it did lack beer.