…it had been said of Crispin Scrope with considerable justice that if men were dominoes, he would be the double blank…
—The Girl in Blue by P. G. Wodehouse (via q-uo-te)
I’m not absolutely certain of my facts, but I rather fancy it’s Shakespeare—or, if not, it’s some equally brainy lad—who says that it’s always just when a chappie is feeling particularly top-hole, and more than usually braced with things in general that Fate sneaks up behind him with a bit of lead piping.
Wodehouse becomes an ardent fan of the soap opera The Edge of Night and the novels of Anthony Trollope and Evelyn Waugh. On the other hand, he doesn’t like Dickens, finds Henry James’s letters those of ‘a dull, pompous chump,’ and dismisses John O’Hara’s work as quite simply ‘a wave of filth.’
Dan Andriacco considers a little known theory of master English humorist and ACD/Sherlock enthusiast P.G. Wodehouse suggesting that Sherlock Holmes was in fact the Master Criminal…! Quoting from Wodehouse’s 1975 Introduction to the Ballantine Mystery Classic paperback edition of The Sign of Four: “If you want to salt a few million away for a rainy day, you don’t spring into 9:30 trains to go and talk to governesses, you become a Master Criminal, sitting like a spider in the center of its web and egging your corps of assistants on to steal jewels and Naval Treaties….Holmes was Professor Moriarty.” Mr Andriacco points out that even though Wodehouse and ACD were friends - Plum was periodically a guest at Doyle’s country home where they enjoyed playing cricket - this did not stop Wodehouse partaking in the occasional satirizing of Holmes. In Wodehouse’s own words: “I have sometimes amused myself by throwing custard pies at that great man.” For more information on Wodehouse’s introduction to SIGN as well as the Ballatine Mystery Classic series, see this 2008 essay Wodehouse’s Introduction to The Sign of Four.
[The 1975 cover of Ballatine’s edition of The Sign of Four with an Introduction by P.G. Wodehouse: “When I was starting out as a writer Conan Doyle was my hero. Others might revere Hardy and Meredith. I was a Doyle man, and I still am. Usually we tend to discard the idols of our youth as we grow older, but I have not had this experience with A.C.D. I thought him swell then, and I think him swell now.”]
Den of Geek was just one of many sources (Sherlockology was another) who reported on the latest - and juiciest - morsel of BBC Sherlock Season 3 news sweeping the Sherlockian blogosphere, originally revealed in a twitter post by Mark Gatiss: the title of Season 3, Episode 1 is “The Empty Hearse” - a clever play on “The Empty House” in the now familiar BBC canonical pun style first used when referencing ‘off camera’ cases such as “The Speckled Band” and “The Greek Interpreter” vis-à-vis “The Speckled Blonde” and “The Geek Interpreter” respectively.
[”The Empty Hearse” - a cute/clever play on EMPT but we still have no concrete idea of how Holmes survived his apparent fall/dive off of the roof of St Barts after Moriarty, rather inexplicably, took a non-air gun to his own head and pulled the trigger.]
Yorkshire Evening Post draws our attention to how the world’s greatest detective is the inspiration for the latest Beautiful Octopus Club night, run by the Leeds Octopus Crew, with support from staff at West Yorkshire Playhouse….From learning to DJ and film-making to creating live music and club décor - the events provide work-based training and a safe, fun and creative environment for adults with learning disabilities and their families.” On the Playhouse’ Quarry stage from May 18 to June 8 they will be putting on Sherlock Holmes: The Best Kept Secret.
[Some of the cast of Sherlock Holmes: The Best Kept Secret.]
Wired in ‘Sherlock Holmes and the Never Ending Adventures’ comments on a number of Sherlock pastiches the author recently read including one of the smallest (physical size) Sherlock pastiche publications I’ve ever seen called Sherlock Holmes: The Essential Mysteries In One Sitting by Jennifer Kasius (see cover below); The Sherlock Holmes Handbook: The Methods and Mysteries Of The World’s Great Detective by Ransom Riggs; The Case Files Of Sherlock Holmes by Dr. John Watson, a very unique presentation of Holmes’ adventures featuring a variety of ‘original evidence’; and make sure to check out the rest of the Wired article for a complete list with reviews.
[Sherlock Holmes: The Essential Mysteries In One Sitting by Jennifer Kasius.]
Orange County Register in ‘Sherlock Holmes as Steampunk Hacker’ profiles a potential web series - the producers have launched an online fund-raising campaign with Indiegogo…where they are trying to raise $35,000 by April 26 - which is about a “19th Century England has a steam-powered Internet and Jack the Ripper is posting files of his crimes on the Victorian version of WikiLeaks. Oscar Lerwill, the best hacker of the Empire, plays a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse with the killer under the Orwellian gaze of a repressive monarchy bent on censoring the web.” While not featuring Sherlock Holmes directly (the action seems to center around Jack the Ripper and hacker Oscar Lerwill), I’d imagine many Sherlockians/Victorianists with steam punk proclivities might find this potential web series quite interesting.
[An image from the Jack the Ripper Steampunk Web Series.]
The Stormy Petrels posted a double review of Martin Powell and Jamie Chase’s graphic novel adaptation of Hound of the Baskervilles: both bloggers (S. Sigerson & HamishMD) give a rating of 4.5 out of 5 (Orange Pips - a great rating system if there ever was one). The only minor complaint regards the script used for some of Watson’s handwriting which is apparently a bit difficult to read, though that’s about it. On the other hand, “the artwork here has a ‘sophisticated’ and comparatively mature feel” and is “stunning”: “At just about 65 pages, Powell’s HOUND hits a good balance, adapting the text into a tight and exciting narrative, while also not leaving out the best of Doyle’s dialogue.” If you are like the reviewers and myself, I don’t own many graphic novels but based on this review and the example artwork, Powell/Chase’s HOUN adaptation might be worth an exception.
[One of my favorite ways to quickly judge any type of adaptation of HOUN (TV, film, comic, or otherwise) is to have a look at how said adaptation renders the famous ‘Man on the Tor’ scene; and judging by the above graphic, Powell & Chase’s HOUN looks quite impressive.]
Quick Sherlock Links:
Sherlock Peoria continues his assault on CBS’s Elementary, this time in the form of a short, whimsical bedtime story: “This is the story of Sir Sherlock-He’s-Not. Sir Sherlock-He’s-Not was the silliest and talkiest hobo on Skid Row….” (etc.) The moral of the tale seems to be that Jonny Lee Miller is a horrible Holmes and Lucy Liu would probably do a better job in the lead role.
[Lucy Lui telling a shocked and saddened Jonny Lee Miller about Brad Keefauver’s latest Sherlock Peoria post.]
Flickering Myth takes a look at BBC Sherlock from the perspective of someone who, as the title of the article suggests, might be a little ‘Late to the Show’ and/or living under a rock for the last two years and has yet to hear about the now almost universally recognized brilliance of BBC’s modern take on the Great Detective. The author does make one odd comment about how Holmes of the Canon was addicted to opium, opposed to the tamer BBC Sherlock who is only addicted to nicotine - a line that inspired ”Sherlock Holmes Is Not A Drug Addict” on Sherlock Cares immediately below.
Sherlock Cares in “Sherlock Holmes Is Not A Drug Addict, Watson” argues at length for why it’s totally false to refer to Holmes as a drug addict. The author reviews each canonical reference to drug use by Holmes in the Canon and then takes a look at the role various Sherlock adaptations over the last 100 years contributed to the Holmes-as-addict myth, ending on: “Let’s start dealing with facts and truth. In the canon, Sherlock Holmes never demonstrated the behaviour or clinical traits of drug addiction. Possibly poor judgement, but not drug addiction.” One of my personal favorite Sherlockian studies on Holmes and drugs is Jack Tracy’s Subcutaneously, My Dear Watson: Sherlock Holmes and the Cocaine Habit, the cover of which can be seen below:
Hello Giggles explores the century old question:”what is it about Holmes that fans love so single-mindedly?” Using the recent interest in BBC Sherlock as a launching point, the author traces the rise of Holmes and ACD’s ultimately futile attempt at killing him and the subsequent public outcry (surprisingly apocryphal black arm bands are not mentioned) up to the present day’s fan base going “haywire over a momentous occasion in the Consulting Detective’s life” or the announcement that Season 3 has begun filming - which will finally answer the question of which has been obsessing BBC fandom for over a year now: how did Cumberbatch’s Sherlock survive his fall from the roof of St Bart’s?
The Cutter Alicia mentions how she had a blast writing an “analysis of the techniques used in the morgue scene in “A Scandal in Belgravia”” and decided to write another scene analysis, this time choosing the ”Battersea Power Station scene in the same episode.” A fascinating synthesis of Sherlockian fandom obsessiveness and applied film school theory and aesthetics.
[Scene begins at the 52:00 mark on the BBC/DVD edit.]
Baker Street Babes explore the Klinger vs Conan Doyle Estate aka Free Sherlock! controversy in their 38th podcast to date. “Babes Lyndsay & Curly chat with Holmesian extraordinaire and vigilante Les Klinger about freeing Sherlock Holmes, John Watson, and a host of other characters from copyright. Also mentioned: Shreffgate, Sherlock Holmes 3 (the movie), Sherlock Gnomes, and some pornography.” Whichever direction the actual court case goes, it’s fairly obvious that Team Klinger has won in the court of public opinion.
The Chattanooga published a short piece, written in the guise of Inspector Baynes (via Chattanooga attorney and Sherlockian Jody Baker), arguing that through the words of Dr Watson we can come to an accurate picture of the inner Watson himself. For example, citing a passage from “Black Peter” where Watson “emphasizes all that is good about Sherlock Holmes and ignores all the bad. In his selection of the qualities and characteristics of Holmes to emphasize, Watson tells us much about himself. We get a glimpse of the inner man of Watson.”
A Case of Witchcraft considers the portrayal of the young Aleister Crowley in the Holmes pastiche of the same name (read my review of A Case of Witchcraft here) and defends the notion that Crowley might have been loyal to a personality such as the Great Detective, at least in his younger days. Regardless, I highly recommend this highly original Sherlock pastiche from Mr Joe Revill.
[Holmes and Crowley team-up to solve a mystery involving witches and murder.]
Sherlock Holmes: Past and Present is a conference scheduled for June 21-22, 2013 at the Institute of English Studies, Senate House, University of London. The conference “offers a serious opportunity to bring together academics, enthusiasts, creative practitioners and popular writers in a shared discussion about the cultural legacy of Sherlock Holmes.” For more information about the program, click here. Full registration information for the Past and Present conference can be found here.For Sherlockians in the UK, this sounds like the place to be on June 21st and June 22nd.
[Sherlock Holmes: Past & Present flier.]
Doyleockian reviews The Wrong Passage (2013) “a comprehensive look at the Sherlock Holmes story “The Golden Pince-Nez”. It contains a facsimile of the original manuscript along with comprehensive annotation and supporting essays. It forms part of the excellent Baker Street Irregulars Manuscript Series…All in all, this is an excellent book.” Another positive review of Dr Bob Katz and Mr Andrew Solberg’s excellently edited original ACD manuscript which is sure to go down as one of the most important Sherlockian publications of the last few years.
Napoleon of Holmes reported on a recent (Friday, March 22, 2013) gathering sponsored by the Sherlock Holmes Society of London where “quite a large contingent of people (I believe around 50) went to the Transport Museum first, for a guided tour and talk” and later listened to a history of Covent Garden. I look forward to the day when I find myself in London and able to attend a SHSL event.
Timor Panico posted this fine sketch to celebrate a re-watching of Star Trek: the Next Generation: “here is a little fanart of Data and Geordi as Sherlock and Watson!” The two ST:TNG Sherlock-themed episodes are Elementary, Dear Data and Ship in a Bottle, worth watching even if you’re not a Star Trek fan.
[A delightful fan-art homage to Mr Data and Geordi LaForge’s holodeck adventures.]
Tea at 221B found this fantastic image of ACD reading at home, when home was
Undershaw. Update: according to Mr Alistair Duncan “This is not Undershaw it’s Windlesham.” Windlesham in Crowborough (East Sussex) is where ACD lived with his second wife Jean Leckie from 1906 to his death in 1930.
[It’s slightly disappointing not seeing a jack knife stuck into the fireplace mantel behind ACD or the lack of framed or unframed pictures of General Gordon and Henry Ward Beecher; or really any other typical objects from the sitting room of 221B, many of which can be seen here.]