Sunday, November 19, 2017

Jupiter worship in Sherlockian England.

Sometimes all it takes is one quote, singled out for a hard look.

"By Jove!" John Watson cries in A Study in Scarlet, "if he really wants someone to share the rooms and the expense, I am the very man for him."

So it was that the entire Canon of Holmes began with in invocation of the god Jupiter, the sky-god, He of thunderbolts and eagles. And Jove blesses John H. Watson with Sherlock Holmes.

Inspector Gregson invokes Jupiter when Lestrade appears. Holmes calls upon Jupiter in the punishment of James Windibank, and again when Jupiter blesses Peterson with the blue carbuncle. Clerks, colonels, and clients call to the heavenly father of the ancient Greeks, but none more that Mr. Sherlock Holmes himself.

Jupiter not only blessed John Watson with a room-mate, He brought in one of his own followers to fill that job. Page through all the times Sherlock Holmes swears something by Jove, and you'll not only be surprised by the amount, but the sheer fact of how much Sherlock seems to be surprised or impressed by things enough to call in Jupiter.

Sometimes, it's as minor as a "Wow, it's nine o'clock aleady?" moment. Sometimes, it's as big as "Yikes! Here's comes the baddie!" But it's a definite part of Holmes's custom.

One of the best years of Holmes's career is the legendary 1895, which is also the year he comes home one day with a bloody harpoon, having supposedly gored a pig to help his case. But a proper sacrifice to Jupiter would have been an ox, so who's to say he wasn't fibbing a little bit on that account, just to seem a little less . . . well, sacrifice-y. Just a coincidence that 1895 was such a good year?

Jupiter's residence has always been said to be in the upper elevations, and where was it that Sherlock Holmes headed after his greatest battle? To the highest mountains, to pay his respects to Olympus?

Well, you never know.

Over the decades, Sherlock Holmes has been corralled into many a religion via a Sherlockian adherent of said faith. And sure, "By Jove!" could have just been a favorite exclamation of his, as well as the other folk in the Canon who uttered it. Not like they were all in some Jupiter cult or anything . . . .

There's just a lot of Jove-ing going on in the Canon of Holmes. By Jove.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Beyond the pale in "Beryl Coronet"

Tonight was another lively gathering of Peoria Public Library's Sherlock Holmes Story Society, and there was a particularly tenacious theory running through our discussion of "The Beryl Coronet."

It first came to me when I saw Mary Holder described by John Watson . . . a medical doctor . . . as follows:

"She was rather above the middle height, slim with dark hair and eyes, which seemed darker against the absolute paleness of her skin. I do not think I have ever seen such a deadly paleness in a woman's face. Her lips, too, were bloodless, but her eyes were flushed . . ."

She's been seeing a man of noble rank in the evenings, who has "been everywhere, seen everything," who has "a great personal beauty," and a "glamour of his presence." A "fascination of his manner" that is hard to resist. He draws her away from a household she was devoted to, and into the night.

Mary Holder's last words to her uncle, written in a note, run thus: "Do not worry about my future, for that is provided for; and, above all, do not search for me, for it will be fruitless labour, and an ill service to me. In life or in death, I am ever . . . Your loving Mary."

In life or in death?

Sherlock Holmes, known for bending fireplace pokers in "Speckled Band," confesses that he is "exceptionally strong in the fingers," and yet when he tries to bend the broken coronet, he admits "it would take me all my time to break it. An ordinary man could not do it."

And yet, Sir George Burnwell, Mary Holder's creature of the night, snapped the coronet in an instant.

Sherlock Holmes keeps John Watson at a particular distance during this case, telling his friend, "I only wish you could come with me, Watson, but I fear it won't do. . . . I may be following a will-o'-the-wisp."  A will-o'-the-wisp? A legendary creature of the night?

We wondered, as we discussed "The Beryl Coronet" tonight, why Arthur Conan Doyle would name the son in the story "Arthur." Writing a character with your own name is ridiculously awkward, and he must have had a reason for going that route. In love with his own cousin, like Arthur Holder? Or was Doyle naming the man for the actual person who figured in the story.

An Arthur who was loyal and loving to a woman who was spirited away by a creature of the night? A man written of five years later under the name "Arthur Holmwood" in the novel, Dracula?

Consider how insane Alexander Holder seems when he first shows up at 221B Baker Street: Renfield insane. And consider the end of the tale, and Sherlock Holmes's words there: "I think we may safely say that she is wherever Sir George Burnwell is. It is equally certain, too, that whatever her sins are, they will soon receive a more than sufficient punishment."

A wooden stake, perhaps?

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

A personal 221B across time.

The most recent Baker Street Babes podcast is a thought-provoking thing. They're speaking to Chuck Kovacic, a California Sherlockian long known for his penchant for 221B Baker Street and the particulars of re-creating it.

I've known a few Sherlockians who went for that greatest of home improvements, including one that famously appeared in my own modest town of 15,000 about the time of first book's launch, which seemed outright sorcery. Attempting to create a 221B sitting room in your own home was probably more prevalent in the 1980s and early 1990s, when antique malls were booming, eBay wasn't cherry-picking the good stuff, and you could go Victorian on a budget.

You can surely do such a thing today, probably more easier with enough cash, the internet being so handy at finding things and all, but one can definitely look at 221B-creation as a hobby with different eras to it.  One day, doing that thing will probably depend more on new imitation Victoriana than original antiques, at which point we'll hit yet another era for the specialist in Sherlockian sitting rooms.

But listening to Chuck and the babes made me wonder about something I don't remember any of the 221B re-creators specializing in, and that was about eras as well.

Because when you think of 221B Baker Street, when do you think of it?

In the mid-1880s, before John married for the first time?

During the hiatus, when Mrs. Hudson and Mycroft were preserving it, waiting for Sherlock's return?

Or at the end of its time, just before Sherlock packed it all up and moved to Sussex?

In collecting antiquities for such a room, does a truly detail-oriented Sherlockian pick a date and then furnish their 221B with only materials available up to that year, month, and day?

The latest newspapers on Jack the Ripper could give the room a theme of Holmes during that period.

A few charred relics might show it was after Moriarty tried to burn it down in "The Final Problem."

A souvenir or two of Watson's wedding could place it exactly post-departure for John.

Scenes from exact moments in a given story could be re-created, like the famous hat scene from "Blue Carbuncle."

Having a 221B room suddenly seems like a never-ending project, as you're suddenly not just imitating a place in a single moment, but a place that evolved over the course of two decades.

Watson's title for his little list in A Study in Scarlet ("Sherlock Holmes -- his limits") becomes especially ironic when you add in the Sherlockian dimension, as it seems that Sherlock Holmes and the celebration of that great detective has very few limits indeed.

Which makes it a very grand hobby to be a part of.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Running on six to ten per year.

The fall 2017 letter to the membership of the Baker Street Irregulars came out this morning, which is always some interesting reading. The struggles of maintaining the status quo while attempting some often-ambitious goals in an 87-year-old organization come out in a detail you don't see in The Baker Street Journal, the club's public face. The topic that always fascinates me is the annual call for suggestions of names for invitations to the BSI's annual dinner and membership in the club.

"Fascinates me," because if you're at all familiar with this blog, you know I've disagreed with the club's membership rules since my run-in with their male-only policy of the 1980s. That part was fixed soon after, but the hazy gate-keeping that held it in place for so long remains to this day.

As is explained in depth in the current BSI letter, not everyone gets to be a member of the Irregulars, as much as it has been a "bucket list" item for many a Sherlockian since Baring-Gould wrote the club up in the first Annotated, if not before. The current pace for BSI membership is limited to under ten people per year, world-wide. We have more copies of Beeton's Christmas Annual in the world than that, making a newly-minted BSI the rarest of the rare.

This brings up a real quandry for the group: Membership has long been seen as an honor for Sherlockian service, which meant a bottleneck as the baby boom generation piled up the accomplishments. Membership, however, also has to bring in Irregulars who can keep the club going, as is brought out in this year's call for "doers who will make a difference in the BSI from the minute they receive their shilling." Dealing with both of those aspects at a rate of 6-10 humans per year makes for some hard casting choices, I'm sure.

Trying to predict who can play a part, who is a growing talent, who is a worthwhile established choice with some mileage left in them, who might flame out after their initial burst of Sherlockian energy . . . hard casting indeed. The "loose membership cap of three hundred," deemed necessary to hold the status quo, makes it all the harder in an increasingly global Sherlockian world. But it's a self-imposed hardship.

The idea of a "status quo" that must be maintained has created something of a Sherlockian eugenics program out of the Baker Street Irregular membership. Instead of adapting, expanding, and embracing the world as it is, policies like banning all electronic devices (which I suppose must include cameras, since it's hard to find a film one these days), come into place.

What's funny is that it's just a social gathering at the center of a weekend of social gatherings that is going to work out in any case. Sherlockians have less-restrictive events across the world all the time and have just as much fun, if not more, than at the banquet tables of the tuxedoed and ball-gowned on that one night of the year. Hardly worth a comment, right?

Yeah. But they keep sending me the letter and I've got blog-space to fill, so comment, I will, even if New York never makes my list of travel goals these days.

Friday, November 10, 2017

The Sherlock Gnomes Test.

This week, among the smorgasbord of serious issues that 2017 has been dealing out on a daily basis, we got a nice, fluffy trivial issue for Sherlockians to disagree on: The first real look at a movie called Sherlock Gnomes.

The sequel to an animated garden gnome story based on Romeo and Juliet, Sherlock Gnomes looked further up the English literature timeline for its inspiration. Not sure if it's because garden gnomes have to be British somehow or what. (I would think "German" for some reason.)

As it still contains "Gnomeo and Juliet" from the first movie, this adventure of Sherlock Gnomes definitely doesn't seem to be an adaptation of anything Canon, just more gnomish hijinx played for the kiddies. And that's where the questions arise.

Sherlock Gnomes is made for an audience who cannot yet recognize who Sherlock Holmes really is. It may be many a child's first exposure to the deerstalker and Invernesse cape as symbols of the unofficial detective expert . . . if they're even old enough to understand that concept.  It might seem a little more of an exploitative attempt at brand recognition with the parents and grandparents who'll be dragging the tykes to the theater. It also might just seem like one more happy celebration of Sherlock Holmes as a cultural icon.

Is it a good thing? Is it a bad thing? Is it even a thing worth caring about?

Were this a political point worth fighting, or even DC/Marvel movie superhero feuding, the "Oh, look, more crap Sherlock!" party and "All Sherlock is good Sherlock!" party would have pundits out there battling it out right now. In a way, we're lucky that Sherlock Holmes stays out of the mainstream most of the time, so we don't have that sort of opinion war going on constantly over minutiae.  Oh, wait . . . I'm overlooking what HAS to be out there . . .


Sherlock Gnomes reaction videos on YouTube. Just search "sherlock gnomes preview reaction" and you can literally spend an hour watching people react to the movie trailer for Sherlock Gnomes. A whole new classification of Sherlockian video for us to add to our completist Sherlockian catalogs.

Hear people laugh at the "No ship, Sherlock!" joke. See the physical impact of a fart joke. See them immediately go to Amazon and order The Complete Sherlock Holmes. Well, maybe not that last part.

This has to be the most derivative of derivative of derivative Sherlockian content in the history of Sherlock Holmes. And I kind of love it.

I mean, you didn't think a guy who sets all these thoughts on the internet for random passersby is going to pooh-pooh reaction video hobbyists, did you?  And watching people being made happy by a silly Sherlock Gnomes preview makes me glad for that movie, which didn't seem to be making me too happy before watching other people made happy by it . . . curious world we live in now, isn't it?

Not sure what kind of test this "Sherlock Gnomes Test" we're getting actually is, but it's certainly a vehicle for going down some new Sherlockian roads. And I don't know about you, but I never mind that.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

"Watsonian" a new level above "Sherlockian?"

Okay, full honesty here. Until this year, I was very reluctant to join the John H. Watson Society for one very awful reason: Sherlock Holmes is the reason I'm in this hobby, and as fond as I am of ol' John H., he's always been . . . well, the second banana who couldn't exist without the main man.

Being a "Watsonian" just seemed so . . . well . . . .

You know, as I grow older and wiser, sometimes I actually know when to stop digging myself into a deeper hole.

Anyway, bit by bit, I started to be impressed by the efforts of the John H. Watson Society, despite not being a participant. They soon proved to be more than just a well-funded rehash of a 1980s-style scion society as new members came in and brought some impressive skillsets with them.

The Watsonians have done some good stuff (though that torturous "Treasure Hunt," well, we can talk about that), but this week. Wow. This week.

Don't think I've been as impressed by a single Sherlockian publication in a very long time. Coming in at 148 pages, the latest issue of The Watsonian is a remarkable collection of work. Living in the attention-deficit-disorder mode that the world can inspire these days, I get surprised when I find myself suddenly past the halfway point of a book that's not been in the house very long, and the weighty Watsonian counts as a book. This issue is good. Very good.

And it makes me laugh, too. Remembering certain Sherlockians of a couple decades ago who were SO certain that all the great Sherlockian scholarship had been done, who also had no idea just how smart Sherlockians could get as the decades passed and new tools became available, international cooperation became more commonplace, and minds opened to a few more possibilities.  Yes, we still do some silly fandom stuff, as always. But man, the sharp Sherlockians . . . er, Watsonians . . . out there are razor keen. And hard working.

So, you want to add to your brain's contents on Sherlock's favorite violinist, Watson's war service, proper name pronunciation, a special Russian adaptation, as well as enjoy some nicely varied fiction, well, I heartily recommend the Fall 2017 issue of The Watsonian.


And, full disclosure, a bit of the fiction in it is mine, but that's not why I'm promoting it. One tends to want to cover up one's mistakes, but this issue is good enough I'm promoting it anyway. Turns out I left a word out of what I wrote for the issue, and I'm rather embarrassed about that. Not sure how it got away from me. If you'd like to make the correction for me on your copy, see below. It's on page 44. Just use your imagination if you like keeping things pristine. Thanks!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Out like Flint.

I'm really glad there aren't vampires. Congressmen are bad enough.

I mean, there's a reason generations pass on, while new ones take the reins. An immortal, like a vampire, or someone who doesn't know when it's past time to retire, like many a congressman, can't help but carry a point of view forged in a time with different considerations into a time when that mindset will lead to some very bad choices.

Remember that movie you loved when you were thirteen? It's the best, right? So much better than that garbage thirteen-year-olds like now. Um . . . yeah . . . about that . . . .

Thirteen is thirteen, no matter the era.

I was thinking about this early this morning, as I caught the tail end of one of my favorite movies, Our Man Flint, a James-Bond-inspired action-comedy that was popular enough for a sequel, In Like Flint. I dearly love both of these James Coburn movies, but every time I see them now, I'm reminded of how deep in the past they are, containing a weird male-dominated faux feminism that only mid-nineteen-sixties Hollywood could channel. Women should not be programmed as sex objects, but it takes a man's man to deprogram them. A multi-cultural team of scientists works to save the world by starting weather catastrophes. And polyamory was cool, just so long as it was one penis per set, and still highly hetero.

What does all this have to do with Sherlock Holmes, you ask?

Well, we always like to tell our stories of "how I met Mr. Sherlock Holmes" like he was our first love. Like we weren't fans of anyone similar before him, anyone prior who might have set our tastes up to fall under his spell much more quickly. Yes, I'm sure Sherlock was many a fan's first . . . but not all of us . . . oh, no.

Some enjoyed the logic of Mr. Spock before coming to Holmes's deduction. Some found the wizardry of Harry Potter magical before Holmes worked his own detective sorcery. Sometimes the similarities are obvious to us, sometimes they go unnoticed for years, and even decades.

Which brings me back to Mr. Derek Flint. A man who transcended the regular ranks of his profession by drawing in knowledge and skills from other disciplines. A man who the official folk came to when they had exhausted all other means. And a man who had a way of dying and then somehow turning back up alive to the shock and amazement of his "Watson," a government official named Lloyd C. Cramden. (Middle initials are important to a Watson!)

Derek Flint so strongly fits the mold of Sherlock Holmes in so many ways that he had to be modeled after Holmes than the man he was supposedly parodying, James Bond. A much better investigator than 007, Derek Flint combines analysis of tobacco, poisons, and perfumes into one single scene that would have made Sherlock go "Bravo!"

And as we feel about Sherlock Holmes, when his Watson is asked how Flint pulled off some particularly amazing feat, Lloyd Cramden excitedly cries, "Because he's Flint!" The man is just so good at what he does that his name alone is enough to explain it to those who've heard the name.

Running into a Flint movie on TV this morning, I suddenly remembered whose fan camp I was in before I ever found Sherlock Holmes. And maybe was even my training-wheels preparation for enjoying Holmes later. And even though it was sexist as hell, and I've grown way past the simple male fantasy that was pure candy to a thirteen-year-old, it's locked into a place in my heart that will be there until the day I make space for some future Earthling to take their place on the planet, for better and worse.

Would I have been a Sherlockian without Flint? Probably eventually. But having a similar key loosening up that lock ahead of time probably does not hurt one's fan-nature at all.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Sherlock is real; I might not be.

Well, the fourth episode of Sherlock Holmes is Real has graced the podcast waves, and I'm still not sure exactly what's happening there.

Now, you might argue, "Brad, you're an in-touch Sherlockian internet personality with a small but discriminating readership, you have insights into all sorts of things, surely you know what's going on with that Sherlock Holmes is Real!"  I'm not really sure why you would argue that, but bless you if you did. You're a kind person. Anyway . . . .

In its first three episodes, Sherlock Holmes is Real has gone from the simple thesis that Sherlock Holmes was a historical figure to laying out potential Moriartian machinations that seem like Sherlockiana from the Upside-Down. (Yes, this line was typed during Stranger Things 2 binge weekend and yes, did that.)

Some things are planned, neatly organized, set into motion, and run along a well-thought-out course. Institutions are built on such things. And then you have programs like a podcast series about Sherlockian conspiracy: Things that just happen in the moment and fly off that moment's moment to the next moment at some random point, like Tarzan of the Octopods, swinging chaotically through an alien jungle.

I mean, how could anyone even try to guess what course such a thing might take . . . even the person who was hypothetically responsible for such a thing?

This past weekend saw the Sherlock Holmes Is Real podcast taking its cast and crew to an actual con . . . not a big con, and one which you may hear about under a name other than the name the attendees wore on their con badges . . . but a con nonetheless. I think that audio will be coming in the fifth episode.

I also have heard that Sherlock Holmes Is Real with have a six episode first season, with the possibility of a Christmas special.

When one is dealing with conspiracies, amateur podcasting, and things of the web, one can never be too sure of just what might happen, so you'll have to forgive me if I'm still kind of questionable on the subject of Sherlock Holmes Is Real.

But . . . more to come.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

An idiot's guide to shipping.

One of my secret pleasures is pretending to misunderstand things. Not just "I don't know what that is," but coming up with an entirely alternate definition of something that makes perfect sense. And this morning, I discovered a perfect target for that quirk: shipping pair names.

It started with an early morning, fuzzy-brained moment when I actually thought MorMor pairing was Morstan/Moran. But then I went, what if Mary Morstan's true love was being penetrated by a morphine needle? Still "Mormor," right?

So then, Johnlock could also be John Watson and Porlock, Moriarty's traitor.

And from there, it just started totally going downhill, especially since the OC is my beat. ("Original Canon" for you Californians who might mistake it for "Orange County.")

Sherlolly? That's Sherman the bird-stuffer and Sir Edward Holly. You don't get a rarer pair than that. I suspect it was dubcon as Sir Edward was attacked in "The Gloria Scott," and Sherman was into stuffing things.

Mystrade gets interesting, because you just can't get away from that first part of "Mycroft." But his fetish for that chipped stone bridge balustrade on "Thor Bridge" gets you a Mystrade that was probably a little rough on brother's physique.

Adcroft is, of course that secret romance between Ronald Adair and Dr. Thorneycroft Huxtable. (Yes, Virginia, there were Huxtables before The Cosby Show.) Cookies had to be involved. That second part of "Mycroft" isn't so hard to pull up ships for, until the "My" part, oddly enough.

You can even conceive of Morcroft as James Mortimer and Hall Pycroft. Don't know if Hall Pycroft had a skull worth covetting, but you know that Dartmoor doctor had to be into it.

Of course, there really is a "Morecroft" in "Three Garridebs" (alias "Killer" Evans), so there's still more fodder to put Alice Morphy and Morecroft together to come up with a Morcroft that's some counterfeit monkey business.

Purposeful misunderstanding is a lovely little creative exercise to annoy your friends with. And it gets those kind of laughs that aren't contagious at all . . . you can amuse yourself while safely not endangering the seriousness of others.

Of course, you might wind up with the mental image of Mycroft and a balustrade in your head all day, so caution, especially in pairings misunderstanding, should be observed.

Monday, October 30, 2017

My amateur standing.

In 35 years as a Sherlockian, I think I made money from my hobby four times.

Three books, for which a small publishing house paid me $500 lump sums for each, and a $50 prize from a contest. And the latest of those was in the mid-1990s. On the debit side of the column, ignoring purchases, doing things like publishing a journal and paying for web hosting, have more than offset that little bit of profit.

That's really what being a fan is, to my mind. Sure, there are those fortunate few who turn their love of Sherlock Holmes into an income stream, through their sheer talent or some really good business sense. But at some point in that transition from amateur to pro, you have to think of your audience, promote your work, try to expand the business.

As I was contemplating fandom and what makes it different last night, I realized that being a fan rather than a pro is that you'll make the grandest efforts without any expectation of profit. You would do what you are going to do despite the fact your audience may just be your best friend, a local club, or maybe a hundred subscribers. Don't get me wrong, profit isn't something any of us would turn down . . . but if you realize there's no money in something and continue to do it?

That's just sheer love of the game.

When I was younger, I really wanted to be a professional writer. But I wasn't ambitious enough to leave Peoria, take risks on opportunities that did come my way, or just push-push-push with the strength that such a leap requires. Well, all of those things and one other: I only wanted to write what I wanted to write, and not anything that might bore me. (Which killed journalism for me the first time I saw what a city council meeting looked like.) None of that gets you to "professional writer." And I've been lucky enough to get good jobs that used other skills.

Sherlockiana, and the many scion publications of the 1980s, provided a fun little outlet for just writing odd little essays, which eventually turned into a regular column, which then turned into a blog. And the thought of making any money off this hobby left the building a long time ago. I just got asked the past week if I wanted a fee for speaking on Sherlock Holmes, and, as always, I just grinned and said, "No. I do this stuff because I just like Sherlock Holmes."

Because after all this time, I'd hate to lose my amateur standing.

(Although if the Sherlockian Olympics ever come around, those books are probably going to kill it for me, aren't they? Ah, well, the kids out there are way more talented these days.)

Saturday, October 28, 2017

A flimsy attempt at marriage.

It's funny how the smallest crack can sometimes bring down the largest edifice. Something that seemed so solid once, suddenly fractures and falls apart, just due to that first small crack. Maybe the crack didn't even cause the destruction, maybe it was just the one sign of great internal pressures that were destined to break things up in any case. But the crack comes first.

This week, I saw, for the first time, a very real crack in one of Watson's statements about getting married. "It was a few weeks before my own marriage . . ." he writes in the beginning of "The Noble Bachelor," and then the good doctor goes on to write about his current state: living in Baker Street, nursing his war wound, staying indoors, and reading newspapers for a while until he's decides to just, in his own words, "lay listless."

The man is a few week's from taking responsibility for a household, taking a woman from her paying job to be a Victorian housewife, and he doesn't have a job yet? He's not making plans for moving out on his own? He's basically just being that bum from The Sign of Four who was worried a blonde with a treasure wouldn't want to date a "half-pay surgeon."

Which then takes one back to Watson's "wooing" of Mary Morstan, which the door to 221B Baker Street eventually reminds him of in "A Scandal in Bohemia," for some reason we never learn.

Watson's period of dating Mary Morstan before proposing marriage is less than two days. The Sign of Four is a mystery novel, not a love story, so we never focus on this ridiculously non-existent courtship, but strip away that mystery and look only at the dating part and . . . .

Well, Watson just gets this immediate crush on a woman he's just met, and she gets put into a position where she doesn't want to hurt the feelings of a guy who just did her a big favor. And maybe she agrees to something she really doesn't want.

Watson's best friend refuses to congratulate Watson on his hasty decision to marry. And, as we saw in "Noble Bachelor," Watson really wasn't making much of an effort to get ready for the marriage.

So did he really get married a few weeks after that day in October 1887? Or did someone leave out a word from the phrase "a few weeks before my own planned marriage?"

When one then considers that the line occurs in the telling of a tale of a woman who escaped a bad match on her wedding day, the thought that Mary Morstan didn't marry John Watson when he implies she did really gains strength. And these days I know we have a lot of partisans who will happily take up the fight that John Watson was struggling with his love of a someone else at the time he got the wild idea to marry Mary out of the blue.

Getting Watson off the couch and into a chapel may have not been the slam dunk many Sherlockians have always taken it to be. And seeing that problem just starts with one . . . little . . . crack.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Sherlock Holmes story night.

Our little library band, the Sherlock Holmes Story Society at Peoria's North Branch Library, just gets better every meeting of late. Tonight we really had the cream of our attendee crop, with one or two notable absences I'd still like to see in the mix, and the discussion of "The Noble Bachelor" made me raise that tale quite a few shelves in my mental library.

I mean, are there any Sherlock Holmes stories that are as much just plain fun as "The Noble Bachelor" when you come right down to it?

It has elements of "A Scandal in Bohemia," as came up in our chat, as Holmes so enjoys making fun of those whose claim to superiority is in title alone. But Irene Adler is enough of a challenge in that case that Sherlock has to focus and get a little serious. In "Noble Bachelor," Holmes has it figured out pretty quickly, and just starts screwing around. Whiskey and cigars, catering a nice dinner for guests, espousing wacky theories about national mergers . . . I can't think of a case where Sherlock Holmes is just enjoying himself so darn much.

Holmes speaks of "those unwelcome social summonses which call upon a man either to be bored or to lie," but in this case, he's neither bored nor lying. He's just having fun.

And he loves the Americans so much.

"It is always a joy to meet an American, Mr. Moulton, for I am one of those who believes that the folly of a monarch and the blundering of a minister in far-gone years will not prevent our children from being some day citizens of the same world-wide country under a flag which shall be a quartering of the Union Jack with the Stars and Stripes."

Okay, you might think he was talking about the United Federation of Planets here, if not for that crazy flag idea. That flag flying over a "world-wide country" means that England and America took over the whole damned planet. Where would Holmes get such a crazy idea?

Oh, right, his brother Mycroft was THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT.

Did brother Mycroft rise to power with a goal of world domination, seeing America as a key ally in that cause?  The story "The Noble Bachelor" itself might be an actual metaphor for the failure of Mycroft's hopes for empire, as a British noble, hoping to shore up his family dynasty with some American resources, finds the Americans quite content to lead their own lives without his plans.

As I first came to discover at a meeting of the Parallel Cases in St. Louis, a good library discussion group focussing on a single story can be as inspiring as anything in Sherlockiana, and we seem to have a very good group coming together here in Peoria now. This won't be the last you'll read of "Noble Bachelor" thoughts inspired from tonight's gathering, thanks to my fellow Sherlockians and the stimulating conversation they're treating me to.

I am a very lucky fan.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

I love a weird theory.

There are a lot of storytellers in our Sherlockian world.

Fanfic writers, professionals . . . those are the obvious ones. The sort of story I've always loved to tell best about Sherlock Holmes, however, isn't one that I tell in a fictional narrative. It could be told as a short story or novel, but I'd almost say I must be just too lazy for that.

Which is why it delighted me many years ago to discover the Sherlockian theoretical article. Not sure if that's what would be called "Sherlockian scholarship" by the truest players of the game, but I've referred to it as that before.

All it is, really, is coming up with some wild idea about Sherlock Holmes or his fellows and then making a case for it, leading the reader through an assortment of details drawn from the Canon or history and then presenting a conclusion with a sort of "this could possibly have been true, as unlikely as it might have been" sense.

It's a lot like being Sherlock Holmes without Dr. Watson or Scotland Yard there to verify your results, and it's totally NOT like being Sherlock Holmes because you're not as careful about eliminating the impossible en route to making a case for a theory you know is fiction.

In the last dozen hours, on either side of a little needed sleep, I was treated to some good fun telling just such a story in the guise of an article . . . and it's crazy as hell. But so much fun to get on paper. (Yes, I typed it on the computer, but printed it out the minute it was done.)

You'll hear this particular story very soon . . . not at tomorrow night's meeting of the Sherlock Holmes Story Society at Peoria's North Branch Library, if you make it to that at 6:30, but I might let some preview details slip out . . . but soon. We're talking about "Noble Bachelor" then, which has its own theories. (And none of them are bad-mouthing Hatty Doran, I'll say that right now!)

But I just love a weird Sherlockian theory and the chance to lay a case out for it. It's not a traditional way of telling a story, but it can weave a story nonetheless.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Alfred gets it done.

Three years after Basil Rathbone finished his last film adventure as Sherlock Holmes, in the year 1949, television decided to have a go at Sherlock Holmes.

In an anthology series named Your Show Time on NBC, Alan Napier, eventually to be best known as Batman's faithful butler Alfred on the 1966 TV show, took the role of Sherlock Holmes. And, as things happen these days the result is now to be found on YouTube.

When Rob Nunn first pointed the link out to me, I clicked on it just to see what it was . . . and then wound up watching the whole show, an adaptation of "The Speckled Band."

Alan Napier turned out to be a very solid Sherlock Holmes, and, as far as I'm concerned, the short film compares with the later Rathbone stuff quite favorably. The mere fact it got me to stop everything else I was doing and watch it all the way through says something about it -- that just doesn't happen much at all.

There is plenty from 1949 that one could pick apart in 2017, but taken next to other productions of its time, this "Speckled Band" does a great job, and I always enjoy a few little non-Canonical additions to just add something new to a story that I'm way too familiar with. The host of Your Show Time inserting himself back into the show just before the climax is especially funny.

Definitely worth a watch!

Who gets to set the rules?

As much as social media gets blamed for drama and conflict, it also has its moments of wisdom.

This particular tweet from last night struck me as particularly wonderful. It's talking about fanfic, yes, but when you remember that the bulk of all fiction starring Sherlock Holmes started as fiction by fans, a lot of the way Sherlockiana's past is full of patriarchal privilege shines brightly.

Because these same words apply.

"Seriously, a lot of y'all's beef in fanfic boils down to preference/taste. Please stop wording your complaints like they're hard rules."

When I think of the number of articles I read in Sherlockian journals/newsletters in the past four decades that were exactly that -- rules for writing Sherlock Holmes pastiches -- it kind of makes me laugh. Both in that people are still trying to pull that silly exercise, and that once upon a time it was legitimate article fodder.

Because basically every one of those rules articles boiled down to this: Don't do anything that wasn't done by Conan Doyle, and even then, do the stuff he did most often. Which, when you think about it, is a recipe for boredom.

Lyndsay Faye just met with enough success with her book of Holmes stories The Whole Art of Detection that a few enthusiastic critics have compared it to Doyle, but where Lyndsay really succeeds is where she diverges from the original in her structure and style, yet still captures the flavor. It makes her stuff both timely and worth reading, instead of a pale imitation.

Almost all of those who like to write rules for writing about Sherlock Holmes are not people who write well about Sherlock Holmes. Instead, they express their opinion in that rules format, which basically seems like a weird attempt to assert some sort of control over a world they're not a part of. Too many times, they're fans of the originals who are never going to be satisfied with any attempt at new Sherlock, so even attempting to obey their rules would just be attempting to satisfy someone who will never be pleased with the work.

Now that fandoms are more common and longer-lived than ever, we've seen this with Doctor Who, Star Trek, and any other fiction that survived past its original creator. Any older fan expecting exactly the same rush they got with the original material is bound to be disappointed. That first time experience is hard to recreate. You get your own preference and tastes, and that should be enough.

So screw the "here are the rules" essays, for fanfic, pastiche, or whatever you want to call new work spawned off old ideas. That "you have to learn the rules before breaking them" is for teachers trying to control classrooms full of schoolkids, not anyone encouraging original work . . . even original work that's not completely original. No one knows what combination of angles and style are going to spawn the next great thing. If they did, they'd have done it themselves.

Friday, October 20, 2017

And then things got weird . . .

I haven't written about Sherlockian podcasts in a while, and I don't really want to write about this latest one, but it appears I'm going to need to out of self-defense.

"Sherlock Holmes Is Real" is a fairly recent podcast by a Sherlockian named Toni Sutherland, which . . . to my ears . . . sounds a lot like the recent waves of crazed conspiracy theories have finally washed into the world of Sherlock Holmes. Like the title says, Sutherland's podcast posits the thesis that Sherlock Holmes was actually a real historical personage.

Now, let me say that again.

That Sherlock Holmes was really historical. Not like those articles we like to write using historical details to flesh out the dates and references of the Canon. But that he really existed, and has been the victim of a conspiracy to fictionalize him from at least the 1920s.

Crazy, right?

I know. Really, really, nuts.

But as of the second episode, Toni Sutherland seems to have picked up the notion from a certain Rob Nunn that I know something about something, and as any regular reader of this blog is well aware, that just isn't the case. And anything that is in my head tends to come out here pretty quickly.

So that's my story and I'm sticking to it. Don't know nothing about Sherlock Holmes being real, and even if I did mention a guy I used to know in a previous blog post, I really don't want to talk about that guy on a podcast.

Sherlockiana has always been a place for all sorts of odd things . . . "queer things," "strange coincidences," and "cross-purposes," as Sherlock Holmes might say.

So I'm not exactly encouraging you to go listen to "Sherlock Holmes is Real," which appears to be available on iTunes, as well as via this link,  but, hey, they're your ears.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Sherlock Frankenstein and Detective Chimp.

This week's trip to the comic shop turned up a book whose title meant it was a must-buy: Sherlock Frankenstein and his Legion of Evil.

Both the title, the art, and "From the World of Black Hammer" betrayed that it probably had little to do with Sherlock Holmes, but still . . . . "Sherlock Frankenstein?" If I've got $3.99 in my pocket, I'm buying anything with that name, at least the first time I see it.

The character has origins in Victorian times and his corporate empire's name will make anyone who understands basic shipping laugh. It's "Frankenlock Worldwide." And he's a super-villain. We know that from the start.

But here's the problem: Sherlock Frankenstein doesn't appear in the first issue of his own comic. Not really. The daughter of a superhero (the aforementioned Black Hammer) is looking for him to see if he can tell her what happened to her father. And she's talking to old friends and foes to see what she can find out.

It seems like a really good story . . . or that it will be a good story, over a six-issue arc. Which is the problem with a lot of comic books these days. Many writers seem to have lost the ability to tell a story in a single issue, preferring to lay out a tale for a trade paperback comic (a.k.a. the "graphic novel). Thus, Sherlock Frankenstein and the Legion of Evil seems more like the prelude to a comic book story than the actual story itself. (Unlike this week's Batman #33, which is as complete a tale as you could want and still is chapter one of what looks like a great tale.)

Don't know if I'll be back for issue two of that, but this seems as good a place as any to mention that Bobo, the Detective Chimp, the ape who dresses like Sherlock Holmes, made a brief appearance in last week's Metal #3, as Superman passed through the Oblivion Bar, where Bobo is known to hang out. It was just enough to make me realize how much I missed him since his days in the Shadowpact comic.

So two weeks with two marginal comic book references to Sherlock Holmes. By next year, I think we'll all be more than ready for Will Farrell in the part, just for something Sherlockian in major media.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

A day at the theater.

This afternoon, the good Carter and I drove down to St. Louis, now called "Saint Louise" by the latest reincarnation of Siri, to see a play. Ken Ludwig's stage adaptation of The Hound of the Baskervilles, simply titled Baskerville, has been playing all over the country and this was our first experience with it.

And honestly? It was glorious.

Ken Ludwig's Baskerville, written for a Sherlock Holmes, a John Watson, and three other actors who must play the rest of the parts, is a remarkable play to start with. But when performed by a cast with the talent to pull it off right?

A thing to behold.

At this point in my forty-some years as a Sherlockian, I have to tell you: Adaptations of The Hound of the Baskervilles bore me to death. The story is so familiar that I can't help but get snoozy.

What made this one great was a Sherlock Holmes played by John O'Hagan who immediately clicked into place as Holmes. (Post-play, he mentioned he was going for a more Rathbone style of performance, but his look was definitely his own and fit Sherlock perfectly.) His Watson, played by Kent Coffel, was a solid Watson, as Watson should be. And around the core of those two characters, the other three actors, Elliot Auch, Ed Reggi, and Gwen Wotawa whirled and cavorted through a variety of personas that both brought the story to life and added comic bits that fit into the tale perfectly, keeping the story a true Holmes story and not heading full steam into farce.

(The good Carter noted that she didn't think an adaptation of The Hound of the Baskervilles with comedy was possible before this . . . then remembered the Dudley Moore Hound. I reminded her that that didn't really count as a comedy, despite my late neighbor's consideration of it as such.)

Gwen Wotawa went from Mrs. Hudson to Cartwright (now an Irregular) to a gender-swapped version of cabbie John Clayton (a favorite of many a Peoria Sherlockian) to Beryl Stapleton, adding a lively spark to each character that was much enjoyed. Elliot Auch's prancing Jack Stapleton was the definite stand-out of his over a dozen characters, which also included such notable performances as his Dr. Mortimer, portrait of Hugo Baskerville, and Barrymore. Converting Henry Baskerville from Canadian to Texan made sense for the play, and Ed Reggi took that part, as well as Lestrade, Sir Hugo . . . and most notably, Daisy, the non-Canonical Baker Street housemaid . . . and made it great fun.

It had been quite a while since I'd been to a play done so well as this one, totally absorbing me with it's pace and performance, and we had a delightful afternoon with it. Director Maggie Ryan and the Insight Theater Company deserve much applause for putting Baskerville together, and I hope it does great box office during the rest of its run.

(Added note: New author Rob Nunn was in the lobby signing copies of his book The Criminal Mastermind of Baker Street, and I picked one up. I had hoped to hang out with Rob for a while, but he had to do some podcast interview that I'll have to track down eventually.)

The disappearance of the Baker Street Irregulars.

Things being a bit slow here at Sherlock Peoria, I've been doing a bit of walking through the fall weather and contemplating whatever impulses my brain thinks to muse upon. This morning's walk brought me back to a thought a Sherlockian named Alan King shared with me a long time ago, which has probably been written up somewhere by now, and that's the disappearance of the Baker Street Irregulars.

In Watson's first two novel-length works, the street urchins who scour the city for Holmes are featured quite prominently. They even get their own chapter title in The Sign of the Four. They "go everywhere, see everything, overhear everyone." And get their pay in shillings.

But after that? One of them, named Simpson, shows up to watch an old man in "The Crooked Man," and we never hear of the rest of their lot again.

"The Crooked Man," according to my calculations, occurs in 1887. Something else that occurred in 1887? The publication of Watson's first write-up of a Holmes case, and one of the only three mentions of the Irregulars, A Study in Scarlet.

And after 1887, Sherlock Holmes's use of the Irregulars abruptly stops. At least as far as we know.

Watson's publications and the rise of Holmes in public popularity seems to go hand-in-hand with the disappearance of the Baker Street Irregulars from Holmes's work. And that coincidence makes perfect sense when you think about it.

The younger Holmes of the 1880s probably found it easier to work with kids as he wasn't so far from being one himself. And, as he said, nobody noticed street kids hanging about.

Until, of course, some accounts of Sherlock Holmes's doings started growing in popularity, at which point, anyone who suspected Holmes of being on their trail would go, "HEY! What's that kid doing here? Is that one of Holmes's?" And then things would turn very nasty for the lads.

One hopes that Sherlock Holmes saw this possibility coming once Watson's works hit the public press and disbanded the group before one of the kids got hurt. One hopes it wasn't the tragic fate of one of the kids that made them disappear from the writings. Or that Watson himself just saw the danger and quit writing about them.

But disappear they did, and Sherlock Holmes seems to have voluntarily lost on of his best tools for searching London, fairly early on in his career.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Lestrade and Holmes, 1887.

Now that Rob Nunn seems to have given up his prosecution of Ms. Hatty Doran of "The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor," and the Sherlock Holmes Story Society is about to have a meeting on that very tale next Thursday, perhaps it's a good time to look at a few other folk involved in that little matter.

This case has many a fun path to explore, with so many relationships intertwined throughout the tale -- perhaps that's even part of what makes it so enjoyable. One that definitely bears exploring is evoked in a single line from Lord St. Simon's letter to Sherlock Holmes before the case even begins.

"Mr. Lestrade, of Scotland Yard, is acting already in the matter, but he assures me that he sees no objection to your cooperation, and that he thinks that it might be of some assistance."

The year is probably 1887. Sherlock Holmes has already attained enough prominence in his profession that Lord St. Simon has not only heard of Holmes, he knows that the consulting detective's help is something to be sought after. St. Simon is plainly the one who brought Sherlock up in talking to Lestrade about the case. (And Lestrade was obliged to go along, social rank needing to be obeyed and all.)

Inspector Lestrade's comment that Holmes "might be of some assistance" is something I imagine was more than just being agreeable or pure narcissism on the Scotland Yard man's part. He knew Sherlock Holmes could be of assistance and was probably delighted at the chance to bring Holmes in without having to lost any face in the matter. ("I had no choice . . . Lord Robert said so!")

Lestrade walks into Baker Street in this case without being announced, and Holmes immediately invites him to have a glass of whisky and a cigar, then comments on the inspector's emotional state. Sherlock knows Lestrade is struggling with the very case he has announced he has solved to Lord St. Simon, and even if he's being a little cryptic, Sherlock Holmes is actually trying to help Lestrade . . . for a bit.

But the inspector has a problem, and it's one that any one of us might have had . . . a clue that is just too tempting to let go of. The missing bride's clothes contain a note with the initials of the groom's ex-girlfriend. How could anyone not go after Flora Millar with such a bizarrely coincidental clue? It's almost a little amazing that Holmes doesn't go talk to her about where Hatty Doran got off to.

But the hotel bill on the reverse side of the note gets Holmes's mental gears going, and happy cigars-and-whisky time is quickly done. Lestrade is stuck on that "F.H." and Holmes is anxious to start checking hotels . . . it's kind of sad, really.

I mean, I kinda wanted Sherlock to invite G. to the fancy dinner at Baker Street that night . . . or at least send a note out to him after Lord St. Simon stormed out and there was an extra place setting.

But after that little display of cross-purposes that didn't get to whisky or cigars, Lestrade is never seen again in "Noble Bachelor." And possibly not again until he calls Holmes in for "The Adventure of the Cardboard Box" or Holmes calls him in for The Hound of the Baskervilles.

The relations between Holmes and Lestrade were, in those early days, peculiar, to borrow a phrase from Watson's later words. But there was definitely an interesting relationship there, and that's just one of many on display in "Noble Bachelor."

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

221B Con Panel Suggestion, Shotgun Season.

221B Con panel suggestion season is still upon us, so it seems time for another round of "choneling."



Trying to combine "channelling" and "con panel" into a word and it just ain't happening. Anyway . . .

I've already sent one off tonight, entitled "A particular set of skills." I love Sherlock Holmes's methods and the idea of him going full tilt ala Liam Neeson has always intrigued me. (Yes, I'm sure many a writer things they have written him going all out, but I really don't feel like I've seen it yet.) But I want to pump out a few more, because the committee has to have some choices to bat around -- and it's fun to do, anyway. So here goes another session of choneling;

A Canon Lost In Time -- What would happen if every story in the original sixty was set in a different time period and Sherlock and company were time travelers jumping to solve each one in its era? Which story would take place in which era, and what historical figures might replace the Canonical ones?

American iDoyle -- If Apple created an AI of Conan Doyle that you could wear on your wrist, what purpose would he serve? (Yes, I just liked that title and have no idea what a panel on it would do.)

Unshippables -- Are any pairings too rare to even exist as a thought experiment? Are any combinations of characters too fractious to get along at all?

Favorite Pizza Orders From Baker Street -- I still contend the "large flat box" from "The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor" was a pizza. Who is ordering what on their pizza at Baker Street, and what do the assorted clients/villains who visit ask for when they're there for pizza time?

England is England Yet -- What parts of London can you visit today to see something that's pretty much what Victorian Sherlock Holmes saw?

Captain James T. Calhoun -- When the Lone Star was lost in that Atlantic storm, and Captain Calhoun was transported to the future via the Bermuda Triangle, what did it take for him to reform and change his name to Kirk?  (Yeah, they can't all be winners. And you probably thought the iDoyle thing was the low bar . . .)

Podcast Familiars -- We're getting to know the voices in our heads a little too well these days, as podcasting lets people open up to strangers all over the world. What are the upsides and downsides to getting so familiar with the distant voices on podcasts? What sorts of personalities do the communities growing up around podcasts demonstrate?

Mycroft IS the British Government -- How exactly did that work? What do we know about the British Government and how could he even fit in there?

The Lords and Ladies Fancy Folk Hour -- Put on your favorite title of nobility and come for a panel of fancy folk discussion with a lifted pinky and an air of St. Simon as we discuss how badly Sherlock Holmes treated all of his betters in the original Canon. Horrendous chap! Someone should have said something!

The Game Afoot Is You! -- Planning to murder some relative for their inheritance? How do you foil Sherlock Holmes when you know Lestrade is going to bring him in? What do you plan ahead? What do you do after?

Okay, that's enough for one evening. Not a banner crop, but we'll see if they get better with a little age. Feel free to use any of them to springboard your own submission or steal them outright and send them in, as it's all about getting ideas in to stir the creative juices at 221B Con, which we'll all enjoy.

Still plenty of time left, and the more input the con-creators have, the more powerful the final line-up!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

The Orville Peoria

Howard Ostrum, a current king of Sherlockian stage and screen buffs, posed the following puzzler this weekend on Twitter:

Rathbone, on the right, looks pretty much like Basil Rathbone always looks, but the guy on the left?

No idea. I'm hearing whispers that it might be Jeremy Brett, but failing the terms of Howard's post, I found that it must be time for me to finally hang it up, give up Sherlockiana as my aging intellect becomes too slow for this crowd, and move on to something simpler.

But what?

Well, before Sherlock entered my life, there was Spock. Yet Star Trek fandom is too old and established with its own whiz kids, some of whom actually are rocket scientists at this point, so I decided to turn to something new. 

And then I remembered The Orville. What Solar Pons was to Sherlock Holmes, The Orville is to Star Trek: an easy pastiche to sink into, not far from the original, and easy enough on the brain to feel like a comfy couch to an old Trekkie. Or "Orkie" as I have now decided to christen my lifeboat fandom.

Now I just have to wait for mo' Orville. 

Funny,  that looks just like "Mo-orville" as in Moorville, Kansas, which is one of my favorite Sherlockian towns. There are stories about Moorville I've always wanted to tell, and a folder on my hard drive with hints of them. Oh, wait . . . .

Moorville! I just realized . . . that means Garridebs . . . and that means . . . .

Okay, I'm applying for new Sherlockian credentials. Always good to see what the current ones look like. I'm suspecting they have Cumberbatch/Freeman art these days, and that slash isn't accidental.

(Add if you think the blogging has gone a bit sideways here, just wait . . . )

Saturday, October 7, 2017

The thing that connects Sherlockians.

This week I got the gift of perspective that is having one's smartphone become useless for a day while alone and away from home.

I still had a laptop, wifi, a hotel room phone . . . so not too big a crisis, of course, but even with all that, it was an interesting little experiment. The regular checking in on Twitter, the constant stream of podcast voices during morning rituals like shaving, the ability to find a particular store while driving around an unfamiliar town, and more, all gone. A host of trivial things missing, yes, but the feeling of just being disconnected with life itself was amazing.

When we think of Sherlockiana, a lot of times we think of books about Sherlock Holmes, art depicting Sherlock Holmes, knick-knacks that evoke Sherlock Holmes . . . the things of Sherlock Holmes. It can be an analytical article or a movie adaptation, a party favor or a fannish song. People collect Sherlockiana. But is that really Sherlockiana itself, or the residue from the actual thing that is Sherlockiana?

Google "definition of Sherlockiana" and the search engine pulls up

"Definition. People interested in Sherlock Holmes and who enjoy sharing their interest with others are baptized sherlockians or holmesians. Their purpose is to keep green the memory of the detective. The literary activities of the sherlockians is called Sherlockiana."

Google is pulling that curious combination of thoughts from a site called The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia, which gets a part of it, but doesn't really dive deeply enough.

Are activities a part of Sherlockiana? Are clubs a part of Sherlockiana?

While writings, art, and objects are things we call "Sherlockiana," what are they really, if not just ways Sherlockians connect with other Sherlockians. Just like societies, conventions, and mailings. Even the simple act of wearing a T-shirt with Sherlock and John on it is a means of broadcasting your love of the boys in the hope that someone will see it and, even in their head, just for a moment, connect with those feelings.

Getting my phone up and working again and resuming my connections with all the data streams it brings, I suddenly had a lot of Sherlockiana once again available during any given moment. And it wasn't just "literary activities," as the ACD Encyclopedia site defines the word. It was the verbal web of a multitude of Sherlockians sending out their quivers of thought for other spiders on the web to pick up. (If you think "spiders" is creepy, I could have went with a tendrils/feelers sort of metaphor and had Sherlockians be Cthulhu-like tentacle beasties. At least Moriarty metaphors aren't Cthulhu horrific.)

Losing and regaining some of my connections this week gave me a new definition of Sherlockiana, not as a collection of things, but as the connections that are the reason for those things. Fanfic kudos. Membership certificates. Movie reviews. All residue of the true network of shared loved of Sherlock Holmes and John H. Watson.

Thinking of Sherlockiana as a network of shared love really makes clear what our goals as Sherlockians should be, too. Not to define boundaries, act as gatekeepers, or promote our personal brands, but to share joy as much as we possibly can.

Okay, I've got to reign it in a bit before I become a little too sweet about this hobby I've enjoyed for my entire adult life. But you get the picture. Stay connected, with whatever media you favor.

Because we're all out here, waiting to hear from you, even if it's just via t-shirt.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Therapeutic Sherlocking.

Driving down the interstate, listening to Sherlockians talk about making Jello . . . .

With the absolute shite that we're currently calling leadership in this country and the tragedies they are unable to address or deal with in any meaningful manner, driving down the interstate listening to Sherlockians talk about Jello is a outright oasis of joy, because you know what?

They goddamn care about that Jello. They're putting in the effort.

And this is what Sherlockiana has always, and will always be to me. A place where things don't have to be important. A place where we can make Jello about Sherlock Holmes and enjoy doing it, even if it's alcoholic jello in the shape of Sherlock's penis. (Making a big assumption there. Could be John's penis. Could be Mrs. Hudson's penis. Let's not assume.)

While all Sherlockiana spins off of those sixty stories with "by A. Conan Doyle" attached to them, so many of our most beloved tropes and rituals came almost randomly from Sherlockian interactions. The old BSI collectively saying "and there shall be no monthly meeting," when meeting schedules have nothing to do with Holmes. A scion society's annual summer picnic egg toss. A beloved restaurant where Sherlockians gather. And Jello shot penises.

A more traditional form of Sherlockian respite was saved for later in the day: Retail therapy.

Did I really need a volume of DeQuincey from Holmes and Watson's time? Or the 1924 Little and Brown edition of Doyle's Memories and Adventures? Or a spare copy of the novelization of Wilder's The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes? Probably not. But, oh, they felt so good coming into my possession. It had really been a while since any good Sherlockian bookfinds in an actual store, so it seemed like I was suddenly back in 1985. (Which ain't 1895, sure, but close!)

There are decades of difference between the worlds of ye olde bookshoppe wandering of the eighties and the latest Three Patch Sexpisode of today, but they both serve the same goals: Letting a Sherlock Holmes fan unwind. That part of Sherlock's purpose never changes.

I hope he's serving you well these days!

Monday, October 2, 2017

Podcasting madness.

Well, it's October.

For a very long time, I've been toying with the idea of doing a podcast. I love podcasts. At one 221B Con, I remember one a host from an Atlanta podcast enthusiastically encouraging anyone who had the urge to do a podcast to do one. And at one Christmas, not so long ago, I was even gifted a Blue Yeti microphone.

But the idea of doing a podcast still seemed much to me like thinking of writing a book when I'm in Barnes & Noble: You look around at the massive amounts of stuff already existing and go, "What can I add to this that would be worth anything?"

I mean, sure, we all think we could just talk on and endlessly charm people with our stories and wit . . . well, at least I hope your ego has some moments of that, just to make me feel less of a narcissist . . . but actually putting that to the test? And doing it on a regular basis, like blogging? That just seems like work.

But then I heard a podcast that seemed like the sort of thing that would fit in the Sherlockian world, except that the particular one I was hearing was definitely not Sherlockian. And it was a limited series.

So I started recording things. And editing them together. And going, "Man, anybody who's a real sound engineer or a skilled podcast producer is going to hate the amateurishness of this." It seemed like the audio version of those people whose desktop publishing skills revolved around too much Zapf Chancery in the early days of the Macintosh Classic. But you have to start somewhere.

And it's actually a lot of fun . . . well, in parts.

I've seen tweets from more obsessive podcast editors on how much effort they put into their work, and now I'm seeing firsthand just how detail-oriented anyone with a touch of the obsessive-compulsive can get. I find myself perfectly willing to slop through some parts of the podcast, yet obsess maniacally over some other little detail that no one will ever care about. It's amazing.

And something I always thought I would never have time for. But when the bug bites you, the time starts getting cut from other things. Cooking, cleaning . . . blogging? Yikes.

But I'm sure if you've read this far, there's one thing you really want to know: What is this podcast and when will it be available?

If everything goes according to plan, you'll see an episode or two by the end of the month. And while I don't want to give the title away just yet, I will tell you this: It's not a chat show. It's not a talking-about-the-stories show. And where it's going to go, I'm not even sure. But it has definite places to go.

And yes, completely about Mr. Sherlock Holmes. To be continued.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Two Sherlocks in a single TV show.

Fan fiction too often gets dismissed as ephemeral fluff, but one writer's attempt to start a new fic this week brought out what a great analytical tool it can be.

Caroline's poll on Twitter, as she started to plot a new story, aimed to put Sherlock and John into a scenario based on cult favorite TV show Firefly. And finding a Firefly character who lined up with Sherlock Holmes quickly brought out two very different dramatically different ways we view Sherlock.

For those unfamiliar with Firefly, let me run down the two characters involved for you.

Inara is a worldly professional who sets herself apart from the rest of the cast in her separate vessel attached to the main spaceship from the start. She has insights into her fellow humans far beyond those of other characters, goes off to handle her own cases, and deals with folks from the highest ranks of society on occasion. Inara could be argued to be the best and wisest of the Firefly's passengers and crew.

River, on the other hand, is the ultimate outsider. No one ever knows what she's up to or why she's doing the weird things she does, though there usually winds up being a valid reason for it. She definitely has her own Dr. Watson in her brother Simon, also a doctor, who struggles to take care of this dangerously random individual, much like our John Watson did. River has mental abilities so far above her fellow humans that she seems like an alien being, and, like our Sherlock, will just suddenly go from aloof artist-type to kicking major ass.

As the check mark in the above screen shot shows, my natural reaction is to go for the latter view of Sherlock Holmes, but both are wonderfully valid takes on the man. And this is one of the things that those who dismiss fan fiction outright fail to understand: Writing fan fiction is the perfect tool for exploring aspects of personality in ways simple articles can't do. Putting characters in scenarios to play out what aspects of their personality will lead to are thought-experiments that can lead to better understanding of not just the character you're writing about, but yourself and others. And also passing that understanding on to others who are curious to read your experiments.

Which is kind of what fiction has always been about. Helping us understand differing points of view than our own and gaining empathy for people who aren't us.

Caroline's question revealing two great Sherlock Holmes characters in a single TV show really brought that out for me this morning, which, considering I'm a big fan of both Sherlock Holmes and Firefly, surprised me that I'd never considered before. I hope we never lose the spark to run such experiments, because they're another part of what makes Sherlockiana such a great place to be.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Another great night of Sherlock Holmes, unexpected.

Here's one of those things I love about Sherlock Holmes that you forget after a while, and then get to be happily reminded of . . . .

There is great joy to be had in little things.  Details in the Canon. Simple Holmes-related artifacts. A digital clock hitting 2:21. And even, as happened tonight, an almost non-attended Sherlockian discussion group meeting.

I've mentioned our local library group, the Sherlock Holmes Story Society, here before, which meets at the North Branch of Peoria Public Library on the fourth Thursday of the month at 6:30. We've been going since January of this year, and attendance is still pretty irregular, ranging from eight to tonight's gathering of two and a half.

Going into this evening's discussion of "The Engineer's Thumb," I was not expecting much. I'd forgotten the meeting myself until the day before, the good Carter was buried in deadlines and unable to attend, and the reminder e-mails we had decided to start sending out had failed to come together. And when 6:30 approached and I was sitting in the meeting room alone, things were looking pretty bleak.

And then one person showed up.

And one of the best meetings ever began. Because what makes a great Sherlockian meeting? Getting surprised by another person who you quickly see is into Sherlock Holmes as much as you are. Someone who got the stories read to them as a child as bedtime stories. Someone under thirty who appreciates the Granada series. And someone who not only cites Lyndsay Faye's work as their favorite pastiche, but attended the legendary doom that was DashCon. The kind of person you hope will walk into any Sherlockian meeting.

Not that we don't have a few such folk in the Sherlock Holmes Story Society already (Where were ya, guys?), but a brand new one?!?  Treasure.

We had a good back-and-forth on "Engineer's Thumb" until about the halfway mark of the meeting, when a second attendee showed up (the "half" I mentioned earlier), an older gentleman in mirror shades and black cloth gloves. And then the meeting took a turn . . .

He took the gloves off, but not the shades, and soon we got peppered with random questions about Sherlock Holmes ranging from "Was he real?" to "Does this need a book?" to "Did you ever see The Prisoner?" And he was taking notes on our answers. He had seen a lot of Sherlock Holmes movies, primarily the Rathbones, I think, but kept giving us springboards to talk about some aspect of Sherlock Holmes that might have had something to do with his legion of questions.

William Gillette. Conan Doyle's non-writing career. Heroes who die. Adolph Hitler's Hound. The number of pages in the Complete (and how it wasn't the same in both copies present). Robert Downey Jr. Suddenly we were on a wild random treadmill of subjects and never made it back to "Engineer's Thumb" before the overhead speakers said it was time to close the library.

It would have driven a more goal-oriented Sherlockian mad, but that last half of the meeting still just makes me laugh. As so often happens, when you least expect it, you sometimes get great surprises.

And tonight was one of those nights. Next month, I'm determined to get those reminders out, because our Sherlock Holmes Story Society alumni are going to want to meet our newest member when she returns. Our late arrival said many times that this was probably going to be his only time in the group, which is why he had so many questions, so I don't expect we'll be seeing him then.

But you just never know about Sherlockian gatherings, and that's the best part.

When you follow Sherlock Holmes around, you always get marvelous surprises, and most often, when you least expect them.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017


The word went out on 221B Con's Twitter feed today -- the con is accepting suggestions for 2018 panels from now until late November. Which means its time for those lovely ideas that will bond a table full of speakers and an audience come next April.

2017 saw some real dark horse panels, where some very strong panelists turned signed up for panel ideas that I initially didn't have very high expectations for. 221B Con is like that -- if you can make it through the whole con without a few real surprises, I would suspect you of being heavily tranquilized on some narcotic. And a lot of the seeds the those amazing twists are planted now.

So let's prime the pump, shall we? Panel idea brainstorming session begins . . . now!

What if "The Adventure of Thor Bridge" had that one thing from its title that it's missing . . . the god of thunder, Thor himself? What if Basil Rathbone had met the real Marvel Spider-woman, instead that non-super one with the pygmy sidekick? Are there superheroes in the Canon besides Sherlock Holmes?

The pastiche life cycle of Sherlock Holmes. Tell us your favorite stories of Holmes as a young boy, a teen, a young man, a middle-aged man, and an elderly fellow. Can you fit a chain of them into one life of Sherlock Holmes?

The end of CBS's Elementary . . . if 2018 is the final season, how would you want the show to go out? Series finale hopes, dreams, and shockers.

Conan Doyle's haunting of Sherlockian fandom: What's he inspiring? Who's he cursing? Is he making clay pots with anyone while Unchained Melody by the Righteous Brothers plays?

The future of Sherlockian podcasting. What's the future of a medium based around hundred year old stories and an unreliable flow of new material to comment on?

Cats and Sherlock Holmes. Why do dogs hog the limelight when it comes to Sherlock? Let's talk about cats!!!

The Canon is a lie! What's the real secret behind the Sherlock Holmes stories that only conspiracy theorists and the clinically insane dare speak of? Multiple disposable Watsons? Sherlock really an actor paid by Dr. Watson ala Michael Caine? Mrs. Hudson was a medium and both Holmes and Watson were the spirits of fourteenth century monks?

Victorian celebrities that appear in the Sherlock Holmes stories. Who were they and why were they cool enough to get mentioned by the cool boys of Baker Street?

Show me how to draw a cartoon of Sherlock Holmes! Seriously, somebody show me!

Guided tours of the dealers room. Sure, you've wandered shyly through the dealers' room, but what if you got to trail along with somebody extroverted enough to talk to all those cool creators and vendors about their wares?

The Tubies. A made up award based on the test tubes of Bart's lab for outstanding production of Sherlock Holmes YouTube videos from 2017. And Sherlock's Test Tube goes to . . . .

Sherlock spin-offs without Cumberbatch or Freeman. Possible? Any that could be distracting enough to keep you from wondering where Sherlock and John were the whole time?

The Son of Buckaroo Banzai. Sure, it seems to have nothing to do with Sherlock Holmes, but those Blue Blaze Irregulars didn't just come out of nowhere.

Okay, the brain storm seems to be blowing through . . . get your own creative lightning going and start rolling those mental thunderclouds around to see what happens. The end of November is not that far away!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Like Watson, I love to think of Jack Munro.

Somewhere in the middle of the 1880s, a man named Grant "Jack" Munro found himself suddenly a father, in the most abrupt of fashions.

In his thirties, doing well as a hop merchant, married for a few years, Jack Munro was the sort of fellow who has a favorite pipe that he loves so much he has it mended with silver bands. Even though the pipe came to him in less prosperous times, he shows a loyalty to it that tells us something about him. He thinks with his heart as much as his head . . . else why attach such value to a mere pipe?

When such a man marries, he marries with all of his being. And Jack Munro did, meeting a young widow named Effie, committing himself to that relationship whole-heartedly. He cares enough to be concerned that his wife's finances might be sorely hurt by his own business dealings, even as she shows such faith in him to merge her capital with his. He's a commitment guy.

And when circumstances seem to indicate that something horrendous is going to tear his marriage apart, Jack Munro goes to the best man in England to seek advice on just what that thing might be . . . and what he should do about it. The results were recorded by John Watson under the title "The Yellow Face," which also gives us a "Norbury" that has nothing to do with Mary Watson taking a bullet. This "Norbury," the original warning word to be whispered in Sherlock's ear, was not the most horrific moment of Watson's life, but "one of which I love to think."

Watson's own words. A moment that is "one of which I love to think."

And of late, it becomes increasingly attractive to retreat into one of those moments John Watson put on paper for us. A different time, a different place, a world where Sherlock Holmes brings truth and sets things aright for his fellow Victorians . . . most of the time, anyway. He tries.

If, as I found myself at the end of this particularly disputatious weekend, wanting to retreat into one of Watson's moments, I can think of none better than one of Sherlock Holmes's failures. The moment he did tell Watson to whisper "Norbury" in his ear whenever he was getting over-confident. And a moment Watson loved to think of that was, most definitely, not a failure.

That moment: Jack Munro, discovering he was a step-father of the sort of happy little girl who can make John Watson burst out laughing during the climax of a case with her smile. And it's not his laughter that makes the moment Watson loves . . . it's Jack Munro's reaction to fully understanding that he is now father to a child he has never seen before.

Jack picks up the little girl, gives her a kiss, and says they should all go home. Jack Munro, a man who shows he loves and commits to even the simplest of things in his life, goes all in on fatherhood in an instant. Race is no barrier. All the preconceptions and mistaken ideas he had going into that moment are no barriers. Jack Munro recognizes that it's a moment for love and nothing else, and he goes for it.

And it was a moment that John Watson loved to think of, and one he shared with us to love as well.

I'm grateful to him, and his literary agent, Conan Doyle, for that moment. For after some of what's been going around lately, it's a moment that we can remember has been on paper for well over a hundred years . . . and inspiring us all to be a little more like Jack Munro.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

The Adventure of the Not Guilty Bachelorette

Well, you can just call me "Batman," because I'll always be here to fight the Mad Hatty-er.

My peer in the blogosphere, Rob Nunn, has backed up his case against the honourable Hatty Doran Moulton as some sort of villain. Thus, I find myself answering the call amid the darkness of this September night to once again defend one of the true innocents of the Sherlockian Canon.

Again, I will start with the unimpeachable testimony of Mr. Sherlock Holmes himself, who counseled, "You must make allowance for this poor girl, placed in so unprecedented a position."

T'were Hatty Doran Moulton of "The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor" anything close to the villain Rob casts her as, she could have simply denied her previous marriage to Frank Moulton, which no one else knew of, gained her noble title by marrying Sir Robert, and kept all the family money coming her way no matter who she married. She had nothing to gain from going back to Frank. No motive for the act whatsoever, except for true love, and without motive, as we all know, a criminal case easily falls apart.

And take Hatty's own testimony about the St. Simon engagement: "Then Lord St. Simon came to 'Frisco, and we came to London, and a marriage was arranged, and pa was very pleased, but I felt all the time that no man on this earth would ever take the place in my heart that had been given to my poor Frank."

After hearing her true love was in a massacre and hearing no more news for over a year . . . a period in which she was actually ill from grief . . . Hatty, sure that her one chance at love was over, let a marriage be "arranged" to please her father. A dutiful daughter . . . and a faithful wife, when she finds her husband still lives . . . how could anyone cast this lady as a villain?

I will admit, some might have a certain political bias against her. In his original post, Rob said this about Hatty believing the story of her husband's death: "Has this woman never heard of fake news?" And there evidence of Rob's bias may be coming out in that -- the papers did refer to Hatty as "a Republican lady," someone he would expect to be familiar with "fake news" even though she died long before a Republican politician made those words famous. But we must not let such modern political issues throw false light on the clear cut case for Hatty Doran Moulton's innocence.

When you truly look at Hatty Doran Moulton's situation, her closest Canonical counterpart can be found in Irene Adler Norton, perhaps the most impressive woman Sherlock Holmes ever knew. Both women had two of the ultimate cases of white male privilege, a king and a lord, with designs upon them, and both tried to slip away with the commoner they truly loved, only to have Sherlock Holmes take their side at the end, even though he had been hired by their noble ex.

Would we call Irene a "villain" for outsmarting Holmes? Would we call Hatty a "villain" for outsmarting Lestrade? (Who knows, Hatty might have even been Lestrade's the woman!) Nawww.

Smart women had enough obstacles to deal with in Victorian England. Let's not add any more burdens to their memory with such accusations.

But, hey, if you want to call Sherlock Holmes "The Criminal Mastermind of Baker Street," well there's a book for that now, thanks to Rob Nunn. I just hope he doesn't decide to do a similar book about Hatty Doran, as I don't want to take the time to write a book-length rebuttal. But I will!

Friday, September 22, 2017

The money thing.

None of us likes to talk about money. It's long been one of the great trouble spots of marriage, of friendships, even of a hobby like Sherlockiana.

And these days we're seeing it more prevalent in this hobby than ever before, thanks to two big generational waves and the gap between them. A lot of the baby boomers who rolled into this hobby in the sixties and seventies are doing quite all right for themselves in their retirement, and take for granted that their lives have been just the way life works. On the other hand, we have that great influx of Sherlockians that came to us thanks to the Downey/Cumberbatch wave, a great many of whom are still paying student loans the size of home loans their predecessors were taking out at their age.

And it's not just the generational differences. When I was in college, I could buy every new Sherlock Holmes book that came on the market without putting too big a dent in my budget, which was entirely based on part-time jobs. And there weren't nearly so many Sherlockian events that one needed to buy an airline ticket to fly to. And none of them had paid celebrity autographs. Commercial interests have entered all fandom experiences in ways they never have in the past.

There were differences in our incomes in the 1980s, but at a Sherlockian weekend, you never really seemed to notice them too much. The base price level of Sherlockiana seemed be set up for bookworms, because nobody wanted to waste too much money on other things when we could be spending it at the city's bookstores. And those things that did cost a little more? The Strand magazines and rare old books? Finding them was the trickiest thing, and sometimes you could still luck into a real deal. So when somebody did get something good, you were just happy for the fact that they found it, not going "Oh, well, guess they just had more money than anyone else watching eBay that day."

Ah, eBay. The first harbinger of wealth awareness. Early on, I remember a Sherlockian friend talking about certain old volumes always being bought up by the same familiar buyer whenever they came on the site. My friend knew exactly who was grabbing up the items he saw in their common shop and knew exactly why he wasn't getting them: the number of bucks in his bank account. But it hasn't just been eBay that gave us a newfound wealth awareness. The whole internet seemed to want to chime in, even in the most innocent of social media comments.

A simple humble brag can now be posted to numbers of people once only attained with the full circulation of The Baker Street Journal, the top Sherlockian communication method of its day. Shelf porn doesn't require being friendly enough with a person to go visit their house, at which point you liked them well enough to be delighted at their good fortune, rather than envious. And when a big event happens, you can now start ticking off hundreds of people who are attending when you aren't, just by glancing through social media.

It's easy to feel less than able in the current climate of Sherlockiana, because there is alway something you won't be able to do, or buy, or even just get to. And it doesn't help that a few of the people who do get to do all of the things kind of suck. Tradition overrides empathy a lot of times in a fandom as old as Sherlockiana. Some corners of the fandom can seem to claim ownership of the true Sherlockian world a little more than happens in younger fan cultures. We have our narcissists, just like many other parts of life, who will always need someone to claim to be better than.

But money? Pay close attention to the big money folks in the hobby, and to those with less. And see where the most creativity is coming from.

Sherlockiana itself was born during the latter years of the Great Depression, when poverty was the name of the game. Nobody was living as comfortably as they liked. But with some paper, a pen, and a copy of a completed Sherlock Holmes canon, good things could still be had. And we have so much more than paper and pens these days. Even if we aren't living large in an urban Sherlockian center with a goodly disposable income.

Whether it's in the Great Depression of the last century, the one that might lay ahead, or just dealing with your own bank account on a Friday night, the money thing is always going to suck. But you aren't alone in that, because that's kind of the point of a community like Sherlockiana. There are things here that can't be bought, and will never be, things of yours that you don't even realize will make even the wealthiest Sherlockian a bit envious at some point.  (Trust me on this -- I'm a very jealous person, and some of you out there? Wow.)

It's good to consider and be considerate of income disparity in our world, inside and outside Sherlockiana, every now and again. And perhaps help fight the rising tide of inflation if you find yourself in a position to do so. Because we are, and have long been, a community. And a pretty good one at that.
Holmes folded up his cheque and placed if carefully in his note-book. "I am a poor man," said he, as he patted it affectionately and thrust it into the depths of his inner pocket.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

In defense of Hatty Doran Moulton.

Sometimes, Sherlockians like to just make trouble.

Having lived next door to a man whose greatest joy was seemingly getting himself repeatedly kicked off the Hounds of the Internet, I know this well. So I tend to forgive little outrages like the one my friend Rob Nunn committed over at his blog, Interesting Though Elementary, earlier this week. Forgive, yes. But let stand unopposed? As the mighty Thor would often shout under Stan Lee's scribelage, I say thee nay!

For Rob has a real bone to pick with Ms. Hatty Doran Moulton of "The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor." After saying he might have come to a contest for "Worst Villain of the Canon" to argue her candidacy for said position, Rob refers to the poor girl as "vile," states that she sucks, and cites her absence from a Baker Street Babes list of female characters as more evidence of her awfulness.

Now, I don't know if Rob was stood up at a wedding by a California girl himself once upon a time, or harbors some other grudge, but personally, I am rather proud of Hatty, a fellow American who stayed loyal to her man under the tremendous pressures of British society. Allow me to call my first witness to Hatty's quality of character: Mr. Sherlock Holmes.

"I trust that you at least will honour me with your company," Sherlock said to Hatty and her husband, once the unforgiving Lord St. Simon had coolly stalked out of 221B.

"Honour me with your company," one of the greatest minds in Victorian England says there. Can you imagine the sheer joy of hearing those words directed at you from Sherlock Holmes? Sherlock Holmes, a man with such a keen eye and such a perceptive brain that he knows more about you than anyone else at first meeting. Sherlock Holmes, whose skill at judging character and looking for deceit, weakness, or villainy was at the highest level. And also, Sherlock Holmes who viewed the average social summons as calling upon one "to be bored or lie."

Sherlock Holmes did not invite just anyone to dinner at 221B Baker Street.

And yet he invited Hatty Doran Moulton and her husband. Did he invite Flora Millar? No. Did he invite Inspector Lestrade? No. Did he invite his own brother, Mycroft? No, no, no.

He invited Hatty.

Ladies and gentlemen of the blogosphere, I could go on all evening about the fine qualities of this upstanding daughter of the American West. I could draw in Lord St. Simon's testimony of her strength, courage, and nobility. I could read newspaper reports of her fascinating persona. And of course I could call up what her maid Alice's loyalty reveals about the sort of person who inspires such a bond. But do I need to say anything more once you have seen how Sherlock Holmes himself judged this woman?

Again, I say thee nay!

We have many a villain to turn our glares upon in the Canon of Sherlock Holmes, and that we shall all do, as we enjoy his battles against them. But Ms. Hatty Doran Moulton shall never be among them . . . unless you are the sort who would also write a book proclaiming Sherlock Holmes a villain!