BSI Archival History blog posted two new tidbits of irregular information: the first from Mr Lellenberg’s own ‘Ask Thucydides!’ column regarding a question posed by Michael Dirda - book critic for The Washington Post and author of the recently published, charming little tome On Conan Doyle: Or, the Whole Art of Storytelling - on a possible connection between A.J.A. Symons and Elmer Davis’s ‘Constitution & Buy-Laws’ of the BSI (Think: (5) “There shall be no monthly meeting.”). The second bit of information can be found in Lellenberg’s The Editor’s Gas-Bag regarding Ronald Mansbridge, BSI - to which Lellenberg’s ”Certain Rites, and also Certain Duties”: Unsuspected Sources of Baker Street Irregularity Vol, 7 of the BSI Archival History series (2009) is co-dedicated - and an “article about this very exceptional Irregular from his home town of Weston, Connecticut.” Among a plethora of accomplishments, Mr Mansbridge lived to be 100 and “was at the time the sole survivor of the last BSI annual dinner at Christ Cella’s in 1936, and of the first dinner at the Murray Hill Hotel in 1940” - in short, living history! Between Mr Mansbridge’s piece in Certain Rites as well as the linked article about him, I very much wish I could have met the man and listened to his stories. Lellenberg eulogizes him succinctly at the end of the Mansbridge chapter in Certain Rites: “Ronald Mansbridge was the last of the first Irregular generation.” Here, here!
[“Certain Rites, and also Certain Duties”: Unsuspected Sources of Baker Street Irregularity - Volume 7 of the BSI Archival Histories.]
The Serpentine Muse’s newest issue (Fall 2012, Vol.28, No.4) arrived this week and features pieces by Susan Z. Diamond, Robert S. Katz, Karen Murdoch, Warren Randall, Bill Vande Water, Judith Freeman, Laurie Manifold and some guy named Matt Laffey (!). Having been instructed to never rank modesty among the virtues, I invite you to take a glance at the toast and raise your glass to mark my very first published piece in a Sherlockian journal - an event I find overwhelmingly exciting in that particular way that seeing one’s own name in print for the first time in a location graced by one’s intellectual heroes can generate. Apart from my contribution, Dr Bob Katz’s piece, also delivered at the ASH Spring Luncheon, is particularly insightful and deals with instances of certainty and uncertainty in both the Canon as well as our personal (Sherlockian) lives. This is also an excellent time to remind you to subscribe to The Serpentine Muse (four issues per annum at only $15/year!) - which is currently co-edited by Susan Z Diamond and Marilynne McKay - as well as support your local scion(s), which can be done by checking out the always useful Sherlockian Calendar. [Note: My only minor complaint is that in the Corpora Delicti I am listed as “master of Always1895.com”, which should of course read Always1895.net - though it’s hard to quibble when you’ve been publicly called “master of …” anything.]
[The Serpentine Muse - Fall 2012 (Vol.28, No.4) featuring my toast Watson: His Limits given originally at last Spring’s Sons of the Copper Beeches meeting and then at the ASH 2012 Spring Luncheon. It was truly an honor to be included in both those programs as well to have been published in this season’s SM issue.]
USA Today published a piece on Elementary which was probably most notable for featuring quotes from Leslie S. Klinger and Kristina ”Curly” of the Baker Street Babes. Both delivered thoughtful, objective responses to the question of whether or not (they thought) CBS’s Elementary is “a misstep or a stroke of genius”. Klinger even goes so far to say: “Every vision of Holmes is a legitimate one.” Hmmm…really? For the long time readers of this blog, you know that I hold Mr Klinger in the highest regard, but in this instance I must respectfully and whole-heartily (and without hesitation!) disagree. Yes, Elementary has yet to air so condemning it now might seem premature (if not immature), but based on previews, interviews and the like, CBS’s stab at capitalizing on the current hype surrounding the Great Detective does not sound promising. But more importantly, to say that “every vision of Holmes is a legitimate one” puts one on intellectually shaky (if not untenable) ground as well as opening the floodgates for extreme aesthetic relativism, going against 100 years of Sherlockians making strong and well reasoned arguments regarding which Holmes adaptations make the cut (and which do not). Every vision of Holmes is not legitimate; though there might not be an Ideal Platonic Sherlockian Vision, there is certainly a set of criteria which would allow one to reasonably dismiss/condemn a variety of Holmes adaptations - and alternately, allow one to be reasonably confident that this or that Holmes adaptation is cut from remarkably better cloth. (/End Always1895 rant!)
USA Today Gallery posted ‘The Many Faces of Sherlock Holmes’ gallery (as a companion to their main article on Elementary) which runs through all the usual suspects starting of course with Elementary star Jonny Lee Miller (though is it really fair to even call JLM a ‘face of Holmes’ since the show A) hasn’t even aired yet and B) seems so distant from actually being a Sherlock Holmes adaptation opposed to a detective show with a character called “Holmes”?) to Basil Rathbone, Jeremy Brett, Matt Frewer (!), some rather obscure Holmes’ and then BC and RD Jr. All of which are eclipsed by this little guy:
[“Wishbone (PBS) Episode: “The Slobbery Hound” (1996) Wishbone, a Jack Russell Terrier (voiced by Larry Brantley), got to play the famous literary figure on his kids’ show, outfitted in a bespoke tweed costume.” Seriously though - they couldn’t find a Basset Hound dressed as Sherlock Holmes?]
Watson and Holmes is now on sale for the criminally low price of 99 cents! For more information click here. The Examiner published a lengthy review of the first issue as well as the concept and creators behind Watson and Holmes.
[Pay close attention to the street sign…]
E!Online, as well as Shortlist, A.V. Club, Uproxx, etc. has been trying desperately to start some static between Benedict Cumberbatch and Elementary. Failing at almost every turn (BC and Jonny Lee Miller appear to be good enough friends who have no interest in trashing each other publicly) various entertainment media outlets have resorted to the weakest of ploys: finding a BC quote with just a vague whiff of criticism and then blowing said quote up ridiculously out of proportion (usually as a headline). My favorite so far is the E! headline: “Sherlock Smack Talk: Benedict Cumberbatch “Cynical” About CBS’ Elementary” - need I even comment? Seriously though, if the media is looking for controversial or decisive quotes from a Sherlockian about Elementary, they need look no futher than Sherlock Peoria’s Brad Keefauver: “ I can’t help but notice a similarity between presidential candidate Mitt Romney and CBS’s new Sherlock: a certain lack of true enthusiasm.”
[Photoshopping together two separate images of BC and JLM looking super serious may be as close as the media gets to a Cumberbatch vs. Miller face-off.]
Sherlopalooza is a word that either does or doesn’t roll off the tongue, depending on both your approach to the Queen’s English as well as your disposition toward the idea of a ten hour long screening event focused just on BBC Sherlock Season 2. Scheduled for November 17th, 2012 in London, you can be sure you’ll hear much more about this event as the date draws nearer. For now, here’s the teaser flier:
[Eight hours of BBC Sherlock - are you fan enough to handle it?!]
Quick Sherlock Links:
Mollociraptor posted this excellent image of the Canon in paperback form. Though all of my ‘collectible’ copies of the canon are in hardback, I do enjoy having a few paperback canon versions around for everything from taking notes in to traveling with sans fear of damaging them (Thanks to Lyndsay Faye for the tip!).
[The Canon in paperback form.]
Dan Andriacco answers a question which may be obvious to the seasoned Sherlockian/Holmesian but more than a little confusing to the budding Sherlock Holmes-fan: “What is a Pastiche, Anyway?” Surprisingly Mr Andriacco begins his explanation by stirring the pot a little more: “Newcomers to the world of Sherlockiana may be surprised to know that there’s more than one way to define the word “pastiche.”” If you’ve never thought critically about just what the range of works covered under “pastiche” might be, give this article a spin.
Newberry Library presents Jon Lellenberg and Dan Stashower in a talk on ACD’s Dangerous Work: Diary of an Arctic Adventure in Chicago on September 29th, 2012 at 9am in Ruggles Hall in an event that is free and open to the public.
Alistair Duncan suggests that if you “Want to understand Sherlock? - Try understanding his creator” - by which I assume he means Arthur Conan Doyle. Removing our game faces for a moment, Mr Duncan’s suggestion may sound prima facia overly simple but his examples make for a pretty good case. Barthes may have murdered the author, but ACD still lives. I think most Sherlockians/Holmesians would agree: even if you’re hardcore ‘game’ player, being well-versed in the life/times of the Literary Agent (aka ACD) is both beneficial and necessary.
Sash-Kash drew this deliciously racy picture of BBC Sherlock’s Molly Hooper and Irene Adler commenting on Sherlock’s ‘weapon’ of choice, the riding/hunting crop. Instead of taking a cold shower, might I suggest reading an early Always1895.net piece I wrote entitled Hunting Crop Addendum if you need to ‘calm down’? (Thanks to Addcited To Sherlock for the tip.)
[“The Adventure of the Missing Hunting Crop”.]
Barefoot on Baker Street, in one of the more even tempered essays on - to some earth shattering and soul shaking - “Three Little Words” delivered by Moffat, begins by considering last year’s three: “last series was summed up by the words – Woman, Hound and Fall. So, what can we deduce about series three from this new information?” Ms Walters methodically considers each obvious and less obvious (possible) interpretation for: Rat, Wedding and Bow, though of course only time will tell.
Sherlockian E-Times, one of the longest running Sherlock Holmes mail-outs, delivered up their August 2012 issue and it’s packed full of interesting things to buy, read and mull over. As always, keep up the great work Carolyn & Joel Senter.
Markings posted a must-read article entitled ”The Singular Interview’ with Professor Moriarty’ which uses a comment by Steven Moffat regarding ACD’s ability to create villans of substance as a jumping off point to discuss some of the remarkable aspects of Moriarty qua Napoleon of villainy!
Philip K. Jones rated (five stars!) and gave a glowing yet insightful review to A Case of Witchcraft by Joe Revill: “This book is deceptive. A reader may expect some descent into barbarism and mumbo-jumbo or a tale of horror and madness. Instead, one finds people coping with inherited Cultural positions and striving for control (`Power’ is such a Nasty word) over their lives…Over all there remains the story of Cinderella, told from the viewpoint of the `wicked stepmother.’ It is a sharp and cogent tale, not just a case from Late Victorian times, but also a microcosm of large parts of Human History.” I personally enjoyed this novel very much so it’s nice to see other Sherlockians whose opinions I respect discover a book that’s been tragically overlooked.
Tracy Revels author of Strictly Sherlock was interviewed this week on Wisconsin Public Radio: “Joy Cardin’s guest will help deduce the reasons for the ongoing appeal of Holmes and Watson.” For those that have heard Prof Revels speak (I recently saw her at Scintillation of Scions V), you know what an excellent Sherlockian prosthelytizer she is and this interview is no exception. Stream the interview here.
Sherlockian.net posted a review of The London of Sherlock Holmes by John Christopher (Amberely Press). Though ultimately giving the book decent marks, I couldn’t help but chuckle at Mr Redmond’s wry observation regarding the title: “This 96-page paperback volume….goes onto the shelf next to books with such interchangeable titles as Sherlock’s London Today, Finding Sherlock’s London, Sherlock Holmes’s London, Sherlock Holmes in London and several others.”
PopMatters throws their hat into the ‘History of Holmes in Media’ slash ‘Holmes as Action Hero’ ring and manages to deliver an article that’s at least in the top percentile of said genre. Statements such as “the “perennial nature of Holmes’s heroism renders him a force of cutting-edge global modernity rather than, as most critics see him, nostalgia for the bygone days of Victorian England” pepper an article that seeks to harness the inherent ‘interpretability’ of the Great Detective and, as Pop Matters tends to do, neatly shelve Sherlock Holmes a bit under highbrow culture but significantly above lowbrow - significantly enough so that intellectuals of the Cultural Studies variety feel comfortable “engaging the text” of Holmes with gleeful abandon.
Sherlock Peoria, in a sincere attempt to save younger readers from a fate which so many Sherlockian collectors have succumbed, discusses some of the pitfalls when it comes to acquiring and maintaining a collection of Sherlockiana. Simply put, avoid the ‘I need everything that’s even tangentially related to Sherlock’ impulse and learn to become a discerning collector early on. Mr Keefauver apparently speaks from experience, relating to us a story about a ‘Sherlockian Garfield’ that just won’t go away.
Tea Rose posted my favorite animated GIF of the week: JB concentrating on the story of a client.
[Click on image of JB for a larger, more animated version.]