Friday, December 2, 2016

Going controversial: The Cage match!

Okay, I'm not going to start a Twitter war over this, as I would surely lose, but the Baker Street Babes have gotten something very, very wrong for perhaps the first time in their illustrious Sherlockian hive-mind career.

Tonight, Amy Thomas rolled out a graphic hashtagged #HolmesunCAGEd that cast a Nicholas Cage-starring Sherlock Holmes movie. Her casting: Cage as Sherlock, the Rock as Watson, Sylvester Stallone as Moran, Arnold Swarzenegger as Moriarty, Megan Fox as Irene Adler, and Catherine Zeta-Jones as Mrs. Hudson.

The very thought of Nicholas Cage as Sherlock Holmes is brilliant, and why Hollywood never cast that man as Holmes is a crime against movie-making. No star in Hollywood burns with an intensity so Holmes-worthy as Nic Cage, and if there is a God, somebody better damn well be making that movie as we speak.

But let me put on the soundtrack to Gone in Sixty Seconds and explain to you where the fair sex went wrong in casting a movie that must be fueled by that hormone the Baker Street Babes are not nearly so soaked in as some of the rest of us: testosterone.

First, Watson. The Rock as Watson? No, no, too flamboyant, not nearly the key a Watson needs played in . . . Vin Diesel, however, whom was suggested as Mycroft in their feed? Now there's the Watson for Vin Diesel. Steady, simmering, and ready for action even when wounded.

But who then for Mycroft? Well, they have a gentleman named Arnold Swarzenegger down as the villain, but given that Mycroft was the government itself, Arnold is a much more solid establishment figure who fits naturally into the Mycroft role. (He's going to be the American government in this one, of course, because getting this cast to all do accents is definitely out of the question.)

Sylvester Stallone is no Moran . . . he's Lestrade, obviously, with Dolph Lundgren as Gregson.

But who are the bad guys, then?

Tommy Lee Jones as Moriarty. Kurt Russell as Moran.

But here's where it gets interesting . . . we do have to add a few ladies to this list, and for Mrs. Hudson, in an action movie of this level, there's only one place to go and that's back to Britain.

Helen Mirren as Mrs. Hudson.

And for Irene Adler . . . there can be only one name: Sigourney Weaver.

For Mary Morstan, I'm going to go with Milla Jovovich.

Since we don't want to throw children into this, I'm casting Wiggins with John Cusack. And his Irregulars are Colin Farrell, Mark Wahlberg, Matt Damon, John Cena, and Jason Statham.

Is that enough testosterone for one Nicholas Cage movie, the man who gave us one of the manliest movies of all time, Con Air? Probably so. But there's always room for debate in Sherlockian circles, and Amy Thomas poured out some excellent fuel for debate on this one.

It will always be one of my great disappointments that Lucy Liu was never allowed to release her full action-movie prowess in CBS's Elementary. (Giving her Jason Statham as Sherlock could have made that a completely different show.) And how we got a crazy action movie Sherlock Holmes that starred Robert Downey Jr., with all the other possibilities available, I shall never know.

But the movie and television industries aren't done with Sherlock Holmes yet, not by a long shot.

Hope springs eternal.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

The massively mysterious subject of Mycroft Holmes.

It has been nearly one hundred and twenty-five years since the world first learned of Mycroft Holmes. And after all that time, it's amazing how little we still know of the man . . . a very important man, to both England and his brother. Still, there's been quite a bit written about him, so when Olimpia Petruzzella asked me on Twitter about other monographs, articles, or studies on Mycroft other than my own little contributions on the web, I found it a bit hard to answer within the constraints of tweeting. So let's look at what we've heard about Mycroft over the years . . .

Ron DeWaal's The Universal Sherlock Holmes, which you can find over at the University of Minnesota library site, had about sixty-some pieces about Mycroft listed in the mid-1990s. The first, an interview with Mycroft called "The Resources of Mycroft Holmes" by Charlton Andrews, came along in 1903. This should be an immediate clue to the sort of lengths one goes to in writing about Mycroft . . . given that most of us only have two of Watson's case records to go by for data on the man, some have resorted to, shall we say, more questionable reportage?

That would not be the case with Sherlockian pioneer Ronald Knox, of course, whose "The Mystery of Mycroft" appeared in the 1934 collection Baker Street Studiesedited by H.W. Bell. Knox does a very thorough job of reviewing the available data on Mycroft, raising questions, and making a few measured hypotheses. He notes Mycroft's complete absence, even by mention, in "His Last Bow," which may mean the elder Holmes didn't make it to the first World War in his country's service.

Bruce Kennedy, in his 1969 monograph MYCROFT: A study into the life of the brother of Sherlock Holmes, covers the available Canonical material, raises his own questions, and takes a special interest in just where Mycroft's income was coming from. (Yet leaves finding the answer to "some future scholar.")

"Sherlock to Mycroft" by Owen P. Frisbie in 1955's The Best of the Pips is a little poetic inquiry wondering why the elder Holmes doesn't turn his skills to detection, and poetic tribute is always a good way to address a mystery like Mycroft. No great aid in our understanding of the man, of course. As with the articles, we just get more and more questions when it comes to this guy.

The Baker Street Journal has had its share of Mycroft articles, with a nice little exchange in 1969, when Lyttleton Fox penned a piece called "Mycroft Recomputed" in the March issue, followed by Philip Nathanson's "Mycroft as a Computer: Some Further Input" in the June issue. Fox gets into some odd technical specifications of Mycroft as machine, and Nathanson follows by tying Mycroft's creation to Charles Babbage, positing that Watson also left us clues to discover Mycroft was a machine. T'was a fun time pre-internet, when a Sherlockian had a month or two to advance a discussion by a fellow Sherlockian, as Fox and Nathanson did on Mycroft.

A very comprehensive round-up of Mycroftian writings, if one can find one of the 300 copies, is William S. Dorn's The Many Faces of Mycroft Holmes. Mr. Dorn works his way through all of the previous work on Mycroft with little chapters like "Mycroft as a Double Agent," "Mycroft as a Murderer," and, well, "Mycroft as an . . ." Author, bumbler, consultant, athlete, secret agent, agoraphobe, computer, and computer programmer.

For this post, I think I'll end with the Dorn, as any evening spent wandering through the Sherlockian library always contains a few side-trips that make the process much longer than it should be. The more one reads Sherlockian work on Mycroft Holmes, however, the more one realizes we barely know that man, and that the characterization on BBC Sherlock is actually some of the most considered work on the character since the original tales. There is so much of Mycroft yet to be explored even now, and I think the open minds of our younger enthusiasts these days will open up entirely new windows on him.

(Even if one wants to go with that odd little machine-man theory . . . the tech has come a long way since 1969!)

Looking forward to it!

Monday, November 28, 2016

An Elementary rerun: A Study in Not Getting Sued.

After yesterday's trip through five seasons of two Sherlock Holmes TV adaptations and one procedural that uses the name, it seemed time for a new visit back to one of those Sherlock Holmes productions that makes you wish the "How Did This Get Made?" podcast did TV shows. Yes, I'm going to return to that old favorite topic of Sherlock Peoria readers . . . at least if you go by number of comments . . . CBS's Elementary. And specifically, Elementary's own version of A Study in Scarlet, the first meeting of "Sherlock Holmes" and "Dr. Watson."

As the DVD case implies with the headline "NEW HOLMES. NEW WATSON. NEW YORK." Elementary takes its own road for bringing a Holmes and Watson together, which seemed to be made necessary by the fact that CBS originally tried to get rights to do an American Sherlock, the BBC show which had used the original Doyle version as its base. Abandoning that thought, CBS was left with coming up with something so completely different that there would be no room for accusations of copying the British show with their own adaptation of Holmes in the modern day. And that point is where things start to get interesting when you compare Elementary to the original Doyle novel.

John H. Watson, M.D., was a recovering war veteran when we first meet him, weak and wounded. Joan Watson, M.D., was a healthy jogger who gets up at 7 A.M. for a run in the morning and is mildly psychic enough to stop jogging just before her cell phone rings. While one might be distracted by the gender swap, there is more than one contrast at work here.

John H. Watson was killing time in a bar when he runs into an old acquaintance. Joan Watson is called by a rehab center who tells her the patient she was hired as sober companion to has escaped. Like the illness/health contrast, the morning drink versus addiction treatment aspect adds another layer of difference.

While their morning contacts take both Watsons to meet Sherlock Holmes for the first time, the Sherlocks they meet are opposing elements as well. John gets some warning as to the person is is about to encounter, Joan does not. John is introduced to a man who has been hard at work in the lab on a ground-breaking discovery in forensic science. Joan must introduce herself to a man who just finished a paid sexual liaison and is stimulating himself with multiple television channels at once.

Interestingly, both Sherlocks start their conversation with a non sequitur that requires later explanation. John's Sherlock is a reasoned observation about his Watson's past. Joan's Sherlock is a misleading re-enactment of a soap opera romantic monologue. (Joan's Sherlock's first "deduction" comes much later, as he observes she doesn't use drugs or alcohol without saying why.)

John's Sherlock finishes explaining the experiment he's been working on and then starts telling John what the downsides to having him for a room-mate might be, to see if John finds them objectionable. Joan's Sherlock tells her to not get comfortable and leads her off into the city, explaining why he must accept Joan's presence and complains of his boredom, even though he's fresh off of dominatrix sex and watching at least six TV channels at once.

John's Sherlock sets up an appointment with him to look at the Baker Street rooms they'll share rent on the next day. Joan's Sherlock explains that the brownstone she has met him in is "the shoddiest and least renovated" of the five residences his father owns in New York, that he can only live in if he accepts Joan's company.

John's Sherlock lets John wonder about his profession for a week or so before telling him what it is, and lets John accompany him on a case that very day. Joan was told of her Sherlock's previous avocation by his father, and then finds herself at the police department learning from her Sherlock that he has resumed that past-time in New York.

John's Sherlock doesn't introduce John to Gregson when they arrive for their first case, as Gregson is eager to have Holmes on the case and just seems to accept anyone Holmes brought with him isn't a problem. Joan's Sherlock introduces Joan to Gregson as his "valet" and Gregson doesn't want to allow Joan on to the crime scene. (Perhaps a modern necessity, like the latex gloves that the later pair put on.)

John's Sherlock had "established a considerable, though not very lucrative, connection" with Scotland Yard when John first met him. Joan's Sherlock worked with Gregson alongside Scotland Yard ten years before in London, taking no pay.

The crime scene and crimes investigated differ quite a bit. We already saw bits of Joan's first crime being committed at the start of the show, as is the procedural's typical format, and know it involved a woman in something flimsy being chased about her apartment. John's first case with Sherlock is the original-original Canon of Sherlock Holmes, of course. Joan's first case with her Sherlock is a complete pastiche. Both Watsons find some horror in observing their first corpse, John with the comment that death was never more fearsome, even with his war experience, than what he saw at the crime scene, and Joan with a gasp and turning away when the blood-pooled corpse is revealed.

John's Sherlock won't be keeping bees until his retirement decades later. Joan's Sherlock is already keeping bees on the roof of their brownstone, and the hive somehow drips honey into the hall below.

John's Sherlock immediately takes John from the crime scene to his first witness interview. Joan's Sherlock tells her he has no use for her, takes the batteries out of her alarm clock so she doesn't wake up (ironic, given how many times he will later try to take the place of that alarm clock), and heads off to investigate the case without her.

John's Sherlock makes himself welcomed by their first witness interviewed together by playing with a gold coin the witness hopes to gain. Joan's Sherlock badgers their first witness interviewed together until Joan orders him out of the room, then claims it was a ploy to make the witness more cooperative, which Joan doesn't quite believe (and she's right).

John's Sherlock goes off to a Norman-Neruda violin concert by himself mid-way through the investigation, possibly because Watson is too worn out from the morning's business to attend. Joan purchases opera tickets to celebrate what she thinks is the finish of their case, as her Sherlock's father mentioned he liked opera, but Sherlock refuses to go and Watson goes alone, later to have Sherlock embarassingly barge into the performance to discuss the case.

John's Sherlock, at a later time, will make painful deductions about a death in Watson's life from a watch, the death of his brother who died an alcoholic. Joan's Sherlock, during their first case, will make painful deductions about a death in Watson's life from a parking ticket, the death of her last surgery patient who died at her hands.

A pill container winds up as the key clue in both cases, and a ring and a ring-box parallel each other at one point as well. One would ascribe both more to happenstance coincidence rather than cunning intent, given the lack of more direct parallels.

John and Sherlock meet at a hospital, Joan and Sherlock seem to have a very sudden break-up at a hospital.

John's first murderer crashes through the window at Baker Street. Joan's first murderer has his car crashed into by her Sherlock driving Joan's car.

John's Sherlock has his Baker Street Irregulars do a little work for him. Joan's Sherlock winds up with Joan doing a little work for him while he's in jail.

And the murderer is caught with Gregson present in both cases.

During the Elementary premiere's initial run, I found it repulsive enough to be unable to be completely objective about it, but the passing of the years have dulled that impact. Tonight's analysis, which I think was a little more unemotionally done, reveals part of what struck me so wrong during that initial viewing years ago: Point by point, Elementary seemed to be trying so hard to be different from an adaptation of A Study in Scarlet that it very nearly creates an anti-Canon of Sherlock Holmes.

That said, one can never deal with Sherlock Holmes without looking dead-on at the character of Sherlock Holmes himself. His whole world revolves around him like the sun, as many a pasticheur who has tried to write a non-Holmes story has learned. Sherlock Holmes is a character whose entire being I have enjoyed and was attracted to read more about, every step of the way. On the other hand,  Elementary's "Mr. Elementary" (as I took to calling him way back when, unable to reconcile this person on the screen with the Sherlock Holmes I knew) is an unlikeable, fairly awful human being whom I've wanted to avoid from the start. Even when trying hard not to be a hater, that guy just gets under my skin, especially during his early, pain-in-the-ass-to-Joan days.

But hey, if he's your guy, look at all the parallels above and enjoy the lining up . . . even if there is a touch of anti-Canon there. These days, that's Canon to fans as well.

Just not this one. Enjoy!




Sunday, November 27, 2016

Three Sherlocks, four seasons -- quality, quantity, or quagmires?

For a lark this morning, I decided to just run through the later TV series adaptations of the Sherlock Holmes stories (sorry, Ronald Howard) and compare character usage. My little lark was spurred by the fact that CBS's Elementary has been down to using Shinwell Johnson as their major Canonical draw card this season, a minor character pushed up to being a featured player. We all know who the major face cards in dealing Sherlock Holmes stories are, so I was curious to see how TV producers played them.

What follows are the Granada, BBC, and CBS hands that were dealt.

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: Irene Adler, Mycroft, Moriarty. (690 minutes)
Sherlock, Season One: Mycroft, Moriarty. (266 minutes)
Elementary, Season One: Irene Adler, Moriarty, Milverton. (1038 minutes)

Granada comes strongest out of the gate, but then they were attempting to be somewhat Canonical. Their major move -- pushing Mycroft up into Adventures, when he was a Memoirs guy in the original tales. BBC teased that Mycroft was Moriarty at first but kept both, but CBS flat out made Irene be Moriarty, blowing a second usable character on a trick non-reading viewers wouldn't even get.

The Return of Sherlock HolmesMycroft, Moriarty, Mary Morstan, Hound. (450 minutes)
Sherlock, Season Two: Irene Adler, Mycroft, Moriarty, Hound. (265 minutes)
Elementary, Season Two: Mycroft, Moriarty. (1031 minutes)

Both Granada and BBC seem to see that Mycroft is worth keeping around, while CBS brings in a strangely pale in-name-only Mycroft for season two. The Hound of the Baskervilles is also a definite second-season go-to for both British incarnations once Sherlock is established, while CBS decides to hold that card. Moriarty, however, is going strong in second seasons. (Note: I included Moriarty whenever his or her face actually appeared. Video or flashbacks count. Letters don't.)

The Case-book of Sherlock HolmesMilverton, Kitty Winter, Shinwell Johnson. (390 minutes)
Sherlock, Season Three: Mycroft, Moriarty, Mary Morstan, Milver-nussen. (262 minutes)
Elementary, Season Three: Kitty Winter. (1017 minutes.)

Once you've exhausted Moriarty, Milverton is definitely your next play. If you've exhausted Milverton . . . well, player's choice. CBS decided on Gruner, but he was mainly backstory for Kitty Winter being promoted to a major role. BBC was still hanging tightly on to Mycroft and promoting Mary Morstan to a major role, even before her Canonical case comes up.

The Memoirs of Sherlock HolmesMycroft, Culverton Smith. (303 minutes?)
Sherlock, Christmas Special: Mycroft, Mary Morstan, Ricoletti's abominable wife. (90 minutes.)
Elementary, Season Four: The Hound of the Baskervilles, Morland. (1032-ish.)

Third seasons definitely seem to be where the wheels come off the Hansom cab. Granada had Mycroft starring in an episode (due to a Sherlock star illness) and pastiched things up a bit to stretch the stories, BBC could only pull a Christmas special fantasy based on a Canonically untold tale, and CBS made up a Moriarty-ish father for Sherlock to make up for losing their Moriarty star to a major HBO series . . . and finally got to the Hound.

The Unmade Episodes of Sherlock HolmesNobody. (0 minutes)
Sherlock, Season Four: Mycroft, Moriarty, Mary Morstan, Culverton Smith. (265-ish?)
Elementary, Season Five: Shinwell Johnson. (1032-ish?)

And then comes the fifth season. (And yes, I counted that Christmas special as a season, because a case could well be made.) Fifth seasons are the uncharted country of TV Sherlocks. In the 1950s, Ronald Howard only made it to one season. In the 1980s, Jeremy Brett made it to four. CBS, keeping to their standard procedural format, has now showed that they could keep going indefinitely, if they promote one Canonical character per year as they did with Shinwell Johnson. And BBC looks to make the Sherlock-John-Mycroft-Mary soap opera their driver, with previews featuring Mrs. Hudson calling Mycroft a reptile spelling ominous things for the happy family dog-walking stills we've seen all over the web.

Charting uses of Scotland Yard officers, Mrs. (or Ms.) Hudson, Watson's career path, and drug use in the assorted shows could also be an interesting run -- the fact that we now have three television story cycles to compare makes for available Holmes fan discussion points like never before. And since like inspires like (and I've ignored non-US/UK shows), there's sure to be more on the horizon to add to that discussion. (Even now, I'm dying to find a way to break the Rathbone movies into seasons to see how they line up with the ones above.)

So much entertainment value in Sherlock Holmes, though, no matter how you deal the cards.




Friday, November 25, 2016

"Bacon" my way to Sherlock Holmes.

More than one Sherlockian I know likes to play "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" with Sherlock Holmes, a parlor game where you connect any given actor to an actor that has played Sherlock Holmes via their movie co-stars.

Here's an example from Don Hobbs's yearly attempt to connect Oscar nominees to Holmes from 2006: "Heath Ledger is up for Brokeback Mountain. In the film A Knight's Tale, that also starred Mr. Ledger, James Purefoy portrays Sir Thomas Colville/Edward, the Black Prince of Wales and he was James McCarthy in the Granada series Boscombe Valley Mystery."

This year, however, my love of comic books has taken that little game an entirely different direction, as I found myself connected to Mr. Sherlock Holmes himself in many degrees less than six.

It all starts with a couple of pictures.




Over the course of the past twelve months, I somehow managed to see magicians Penn and Teller on three separate occasions. And since those generous fellows always kindly do a meet-and-greet at the end of every show, I had the chance to get my picture taken with them. Simple enough.

And then came the eleventh issue of a comic book called Spiderman/Deadpool, in which Penn and Teller switch partners with Spiderman and Deadpool. "AH-HA!" I thought.

Teller teams up with Spiderman, who teamed up with Batman in a 1995 comic book mini-series called Spiderman and Batman: Disordered Minds. Batman and Sherlock Holmes have teamed up a few times in comics, and even had a rap battle on YouTube. So with a few simple comic books, I now could connect myself to Sherlock Holmes himself with only a couple degrees of separation.

That number shrank even further when I then remembered Deadpool Killustrated issue number 4, in which Deadpool tried to kill Sherlock Holmes. Since Penn Jillette teamed up with Deadpool in the same Spiderman/Deadpool issue, and I had met Penn on a couple of occasions now, the Sherlock/Deadpool/Penn/Keefauver chain eliminated on extra link.

With both comic books and magicians about anything is possible, so it shouldn't have surprised me that putting the two together would create a cosmic connection to our old friend Sherlock Holmes. And as great as it is that an actor can be connected to another actor who played Sherlock, I think I'd rather just link up to the real thing.

Black Friday and some easy Sherlock Holmes deals.

"As to money, well, so far as a fiver, or even a tenner, goes, you can always look to me."
-- Godfrey Staunton's skinflint uncle

The topic of money comes up a lot in the Sherlock Holmes stories. While love or vengeance may be much sexier motivations and stir the blood more, the ebb and flow of money motivates more action in the tales than possibly anything else. Even the love stories of the Canon, be it John Watson and Mary Morstan or Mary Sutherland and Hosmer Angel, all have a strong influence of financial status to them. But I don't think we've ever seen the subject of money come up in casual Sherlockian dealings quite so much as we do these days . . . not just to buy the more expensive collectible, but just to take a chunk of your money and give it to someone or something for Sherlockian reasons.

As it's Black Friday, the ridiculous day of consumer money-moving anyway, it seemed like the perfect spot to review where you might pour some cash if you don't feel like spending it on what will inevitably be someone's garage sale items a summer or two down the line.

First, the oldest of Sherlockian spots to donate to, given a GoFundMe makeover this year, the John H. Watson Fund. Established by the Baker Street Irregulars some decades ago to help club members anonymously help fellow Sherlockians whose attendance at the annual Sherlock Holmes birthday dinner in New York was impaired by cash flow issues. Since that time, the fund annually expends itself to help all it can, and needs replenished, as the costs of meeting other Sherlockians in the largest city in America are not cheap. 'Tis a fine sort of blind camaraderie which inspires this one.

Second, and also on GoFundMe, is the newest item on this list -- a benefit to help Sherlock Seattle settle its bills from last year's con. An unexpectedly large drop in attendance for a con that has tried to go all out to make a great weekend for its attendees hit them hard last year, and Sherlock Seattle still has great potential as an ongoing center for annual Sherlock fan fun in the years ahead. There is a measure of both appreciation and hope for the future to this one.

Third, just because it's an old favorite of mine, is the Friends of the Sherlock Holmes Collections at the University of Minnesota. The U of M Libraries has created perhaps the finest non-private repository of Sherlock Holmes history and artifacts on Earth, and I am not being hyperbolic in the slightest. If you ever get the chance to attend one of their conferences, or just arrange a visit to the collection, you can encounter Sherlock Holmes in a way you will nowhere else, and the possibilities for research abound. There is no more solid investment in our Sherlockian future than the Friends of the Sherlock Holmes Collections at U of M.

Fourth, since we're on the topic of university collections, is the Baker Street Irregulars Trust. Geared more specifically toward America's oldest Sherlock Holmes fan club's history and the documentation of its historic membership and doings, this Harvard archive has already made a good number of the Baker Street Irregulars' documents available online, and has Irregulars working toward adding to the paper parts with oral histories. The Trust keeps a window open to a very special part of our Sherlockian past, and offers the opportunity to help that cause.

Fifth, there are specific Sherlockian services one can support these days, as in podcasts! "I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere" is on Patreon. The Baker Street Babes take direct PayPal donations. The Three Patch Podcast has a Paypal "Donate" button as well. While you can listen to any number of podcasts for free these days, with hosts happy just to have your listening, microphones and such still cost money and showing artists (because truly, podcasters are recording artists) you appreciate them with a few bucks on a regular basis can be a real "feel good" way of literally giving back to someone who gives you something you enjoy.

Sixth, and not to be forgotten, is the Friends of the Arthur Conan Doyle Collection who support the Toronto Public Library. If I wasn't ballyhooing the University of Minnesota collection as I did above, I'd be writing about this one first. The Arthur Conan Doyle Collection at the Toronto Public Library is just as much a North American pilgrimage site for a diehard Sherlockian as the Minneapolis one. You never know what amazing thing you'll see there, and their years of solid Sherlockian work makes them a solid investment in the future of Sherlockiana, as I said about their American cousin.

There are so many places one can be a Sherlockian angel to that I'm sure to be missing some very important ones here, and new ones spring up all the time. Support your favorite journals, writers, artists, etc. by picking up their output, of course, but when you want to just put some goodwill out there for Sherlockian culture itself with no personal return, we have some great places to do just that.

In fact, when you're making out your list of Christmas gifts to give this year, putting a few (or all) of the above on that list, if you've got the free cash to donate, is some giving that is about as stress-free as you can make it. 

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Pilgrims of the Canon . . . the choice!

One of the best things about the American art of Thanksgiving is that the requirements are very few. Cook a meal, eat a meal. Some overly sentimental sort might ask for everyone to state something they're thankful for to put some kind of seriousness to the event, but therein lies a dangerous path to the fact we're celebrating a kindly act from indigenous peoples who later got seriously screwed over. Better to just cook the food and eat the food.

But if you want to go with pilgrims and are truly Sherlockian, you've got one of two ways to go . . .

"Pale-faced, meek-looking women; strong, laughing chidren; and anxious, earnest-eyed men" -- the great Mormon pilgrimage that crossed John Ferrier's path in his time of need, shouting "Forward! On, on to Zion!"

Or . . .

"A cargo of Malay pilgrims . . . a rum crowd" who Jonathan Small and Tonga settled in with on the way to Jiddah, a Saudi Arabian port on the red sea. "They had one very good quality; they let you alone and asked no questions."

So as you gather with family and friends this Thanksgiving, you can go one of two ways as a devout Sherlockian who lives their life by Canonical example: Religious fervor on the topic of your choice or just leave everyone alone and ask no questions.

Two completely opposite approaches, but you'll note in those passages from the first two Holmes novels, A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of Four, both groups of pilgrims are inclusive and take in a pair of mismatched travelers for the journey ahead. And that is the best lesson to take away. No matter what the eventual outcome of your relationship with those you make your passage of the holiday with today, being a true pilgrim is accepting the travelers who are with you on your journey.

Because a happy (?) Black Friday awaits us all tomorrow in any case. Sales on Black Peter. Black Giorgiano, a Blackheath rugby player, the Black Swan Hotel . . . or maybe those just start later this afternoon. But for now, as wacky ol' John Wayne would say, have a good day, pilgrims.