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!


Monday, September 18, 2017

An interesting loss for Sherlock.

Since BBC's Sherlock first aired, the television Emmy awards have definitely had a Sherlockian point of interest in particular years, and this weekend's celebration was no different. The three academies of televised arts and science that administer the awards chose not to give Sherlock any trophies this year, but the loss was actually . . . well, one might say "telling."



The award for Outstanding Television Movie went to a Black Mirror episode named "San Junipero," and if you're at all familiar with that tale, you might see it as having exactly what many a fan thought its competitor, Sherlock's "The Lying Detective" lacked.

"San Junipero" is a love story between two real souls in a fictional world. One of the pair has a spouse and a traditional heterosexual marriage. The other is someone who has never had a real physical relationship. And they meet in what is basically a shared mind palace.

The similarities to anything Sherlock Holmes end there, really, but the contrast to what was presented in "The Lying Detective" are stark. "San Junipero" was a story of two people trying to overcome their own personal issues to be together. "The Lying Detective" was an all-out conflict of two master manipulators trying to outfox each other while uncaring about the collateral damage to anyone around them. One would definitely seem more traditionally feminine and one more painfully masculine, and the genders involved reflect that.

Had the second episode of the latest (too painful to say "last," as heavily as that possibility looms) series of Sherlock been more "San Junipero," it would have definitely had more of the show's fans rooting for it when Emmy time came. "The Lying Detective" was what it was, and we can't rewrite history . . . but there is something about that hazy vision of an episode called "The Tiger of San Junipero" in place of "The Lying Detective" that has a lure to it, as so many paths not taken do.

"The Tiger of San Pedro" was the title of the second half of "The Adventure of Wisteria Lodge," if you weren't familiar, but I'm thinking this fantasy version of Sherlock season four episode two would draw more from "Empty House" than that tale. "The Tiger of San Junipero" could have brought Sebastian Moran into Sherlock at long last as a Moriarty confederate who actually developed the tech to enter a person's virtual world. The plot would inevitably require John Watson to enter the world of Sherlock's mind palace as well, and . . . well, you can play it out from there.

A mash-up of Sherlock and the Black Mirror episode that beat it is practically a prize unto itself, not even needing an Emmy award. And if I wasn't sure that anyone came up with a fanfic version of the last blog-idea I had, this one I definitely think someone had to do. It's just too lovely a concept, and I know there are fans of both out there.

Hopefully, they got some kudos. Kudos aren't exactly Emmys, sure, but hey, most good work on this planet never sees a trophy. Sometimes, it's just there to make us happy for a bit.


Saturday, September 16, 2017

"Not much to be funny about."

It seems like clowns are just made to suffer.

Currently we have a box-office smash at the movies about a monster who used to pretend to be a clown to lure children into sewers, but now seems to take on clown guise because it incites fear. We have an actual horror-in-the-name TV show using clowns as a major theme for its season. And we have the poor-but-spirited Juggalos marching on Washinton to protest, among other things, their clown society of fans being considered a gang.

Clown sadness isn't new. In fact, it's a trope that goes back probably as far as clowns themselves. And the cases of Sherlock Holmes, containing all things as they do, have their own sad clown as well.

Little Jimmy Griggs of "The Adventure of the Veiled Lodger."

Little Jimmy Griggs worked for Ronder's Wild Beast Show, a very popular show at its peak. Its owner, Ronder, was said to rival his predecessor George Wombwell and his contemporary Lord George Sanger for wild animal showmanship. Ronder did well for "a human wild boar" as John Watson called him, but inevitably alcoholism got the better of him, and all the money from his successes could not keep good perfomers with him when the fines for animal cruelty and assaulting humans kept coming in. His employees left in droves.

Except for little Jimmy Griggs.

We're not sure just why Jimmy Griggs stayed on. Maybe he had a secret love of Ronder's ill-treated wife, or the handsome Leonardo, or just the animals themselves. Sometimes a funny fellow can get by in rough circumstances by using his sense of humor to calm an angry drunk or shine a light on the one bright spot in a dark time. But Ronder's Wild Beast Show was no place for a man to rise in his career.

Griggs was definitely cited as one of the few people holding the show together as the piggish sot Ronder went into decline. And on the night of the Abbas Parva tragedy, Jimmy Griggs was one of the first on the scene to stop the situation from getting worse.

The show's star attraction, the great lion Sahara King, had, to all appearances, escaped its cage killed Ronder and mauled Ronder's wife during their nightly feeding of the beast. Griggs led the men who drove the lion back into his cage and got Mrs. Ronder to safety . . . even though the handsome Leonardo got half-credit. (Obviously undeserved as his cowardice was later revealed.)

It was six months before Mrs. Ronder was well enough to tell her story of what happened that night, and during that time we can only assume it was the devoted Mr. Griggs who held her fortunes together, making sure she had the money to live out her life in peace once she recovered. Did the show go on? Was Sahara King put down, or did "man killer" just add to his show biz resume? Where did life take Jimmy Griggs after that night?

We will never know the fate of James Griggs, circus clown and the kind of guy who could help hold a show together. But after seeing the flaws of his co-worker Leonardo, we can only presume Griggs was a stouter fellow than he ever got full credit for, even under the pen of Dr. Watson.

I hope it went well for him. And on one good note, he's not still around to see the era of the scary clown taking over. If "The Adventure of the Veiled Lodger" were written today, Sahara King would probably be the star of cute kitty videos and Jimmy would probably have been the one framed for killing Ronder.

What a world, what a world.


Friday, September 15, 2017

A wave of theater Sherlocks?

It seems like my Google News feed has, of late, decided that Howard Ostrom is their best model for news of Sherlock Holmes.

Theatrical adaptation after theatrical adaptation are all the headlines. Moffat and Gatiss seem to have run out of rumors to spread about potential future seasons for Sherlock, probably getting their heads down to work out their Dracula series. Will Farrell's movie is more than a year off, Elementary is still many months away, and no other major Sherlock Holmes promotions seem to be on the national or international stage.

But the local stages?

It's almost like a requirement that every major city had to have at least one production of a Sherlock Holmes play in 2017, and all the major city wannabees as well. Which makes me wonder . . . just what is it that brings a local Sherlock Holmes to the stage?

Are they just obvious aftershocks of a few big years of mainstream Holmes?

Or is Sherlock Holmes just a character that egomaniacal actors with pull at their local playhouse want to play?

Is it that older folks tend to be theater audiences and Sherlock has long been a draw with older crowds? (A good test of that -- how many stage Sherlocks are under forty?)

Or are there just particularly well-written Sherlock Holmes plays in circulation around the local theater circuit these days?

All of the above?

It would make a fascinating chart if one could gather counts of the number of different productions of Sherlock Holmes plays that were performed every year since he first took the stage over a hundred years ago. It would probably be an easy thing to cross-reference its peaks with surges in Sherlock's popularity in books and film, but one has to wonder if any anomalies outside of those expected peaks would show up. Or worrisome . . . what if he was hugely popular just before World Wars?

Hopefully that's not the case now. It could simply be that there are more humans on Earth than ever before, and for every X number of humans there must always be one production of a Sherlock Holmes play . . . a simple product of our collective hivemind, which the great detective is definitely a part of. And they'll always be there, just more noticeable when one isn't being distracted by the likes of Benedict Cumberbatch, etc.

But Holmes went from book to stage to film to television, and in the end, he'll probably wind down in the very reverse of that order, if his cycle does decide to wind down at some point, before revving up again.

And on the Baker Street parade will go.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Sahara King is in the house!

Among the mysteries considered by Sherlock Holmes there is one about a cat owner that I particularly relate to.

I have to say "considered" in the case of "The Adventure of the Veiled Lodger," because Sherlock Holmes doesn't really solve it. He just hears the confession of someone who was an accomplice to a murder years before, and suffering a horrible punishment from that act ever since. Or maybe not from the murder itself . . . but from the fact that she was a cat owner.

True, the cat belonging to Eugenia Ronder was of the "big" variety, technically being a lion and all, but her kitty, Sahara King, seemed to have a certain quality that is very noticeably present in the feline that dwells in my own house, a fully-clawed male specimen named "Tink." And that quality is an unpredictable wildness.

"And why should it attack them savagely when it was in the habit of playing with them?" Sherlock Holmes poses the question to Watson before they go to hear the full story of Sahara King's apparent turning on his owners. From that statement, I would definitely conclude that Sherlock Holmes has never owned a cat.

Because cats like to play. Oh, yes, they like to play. With their victims.

Our size is really our only defense against household felines, as much as we might think they love us. Having adopted a roaming outdoor cat who enjoys the comforts of central heating in the winter, we know what happens when the usual hunting habits get interrupted by snow and ice. Eventually our friend Tink gets bored. And at some point, nothing else will satisfy him but stalking prey . . . even if that prey is six-two and weighs two hundred pounds.

The inevitable end of his hunt, with all four claws holding a limb in place while his jaws chomp down on a leg or arm, is quickly over-powered, but come spring, our local version of Sahara King finds prey whose heads he can fit in his mouth, just like Sahara King did to Mrs. Ronder, and very bad things happen.

Now, you might want to step away from this blog post if you're a fan of cute kitties and/or don't like much gruesome in your Sherlockian reading. Because you probably aren't going to like the part that comes next . . . .

Okay. Just the stout-of-heart still here?

Come spring, we start finding critters without heads on our porch. Cute little furry critters, too, except for the "dead with no heads" part. I kept envisioning our cat having a secret lair somewhere with skulls lined up in his trophy room, because they certainly weren't showing up anywhere we could ever see. It was a real mystery for Sherlock Holmes . . . or Google, which we finally turned to after catching him in the act one morning.

Apparently -- and this is the part you're going to wish you left for, if you ignored my earlier warnings -- even well-fed house cats love the particularly special flavor of brains. Yes, just like zombies. And given all the other similarities between small cat and big cats, I can't help but think if Eugenia Ronder had not been rescued by her fellow circus-folk, she might have met the same fate as the critters on our porch. And Sahara King would have had a special treat that night.

Ew, gross, I know, right? The study of Sherlock Holmes is not all kings in silk masks and pretty opera singers, you know. And the climax of "The Adventure of the Veiled Lodger" is right out of a horror movie in any case, as Mrs. Ronder steps into the light and pulls away her veil.

So far we're managing to deal with our household version of Sahara King without having to resort to veils, and his teeny-tiny mouth is probably going to keep us from that eventuality. But when all is said and done, cats are cats.

Be careful out there.


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The stressful Sherlocking of autumn.

Pay attention long enough and you'll see your own patterns emerging.

This time of year tends to be among the most hectic, as we transition into fall, school, the last quarter of the year . . . everybody wants to get everything done by the holidays. My biggest problem with it seems to be in that little late August/early September lull when I start getting great ideas for projects that are inevitably killed by everything that's going on in the months that follow. Halloween costumes. Nanowrimo. New fall TV.

Cite a fall project, and I can tell you what killed it -- one of might biggest regrets was the Dark Lantern League online role-play group, killed, ironically enough, by an intensive webmastering class. And if that trend wasn't bad enough, you know what else comes when life gets hectic and the brain is churning hard when downtime comes?

Even more ideas for Sherlockian efforts.

Get a few weeks with nothing to do, and . . . nothing.

Get a month without a spare moment, and the seeming greatest of all Sherlockian inspirations appears  . . . only to be old hat by the time the schedule clears up.

That's why the blog business seems to work so well for me: Spit out an idea, give it a little fleshing out, just enough to get it out of the system, and move on to the next. But it's treading water. When nothing gets fully developed, it's hard to move forward, whatever one defines as moving forward.

The obsession project, the thing that eats your whole existence for months on end, has been my best way to get the bigger things done. Not the slow and measured pace that allows some distraction alternating with the discipline to return to the work. Being able to take the long view and stick to the course.

I wouldn't be writing this rather whiney post if I wasn't starting to set my mind to gets some things done in the Sherlockian field this fall for a change. Ideas are here and some of them might actually have value. So let's just see what happens this time, and if the patterns break for a change.

Watch this space.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Deutero-Sherlock

Many people have said that Sherlock just wasn't the same after the hiatus. Or Sherlock wasn't the same after the hiatus. Or both.

In the 1920s, it was how the post-Reichenbach Sherlock Holmes might have been fictional, as several bits of him don't match up to pre-Reichenbach Holmes (Father Ronald Knox in the essay "Studies in Sherlock Holmes").  In the 2010s, it was how seasons three and four of BBC Sherlock just didn't live up to the promises of seasons one and two to so many fans.

In that 1920s Knox essay, he referred to a "Deutero-Watson," a second biographer of Sherlock Holmes who wrote some of the tales and not the others. But to my mind, even as I first read "Deutero-Watson," I was evolving Knox's words on Sherlock not being the same to a post-Reichenbach "Deutero-Sherlock."  Sherlock Holmes did die at Reichenbach Falls, and then was replaced by a second Sherlock Holmes.

Many a Sherlockian has toyed with this idea, over the years. A Vernet cousin. A twin. An actor. A clone. Such theories are of limited use when considering the original Holmes Canon as we tend to love all sixty tales at this point, even the runts of the litter, and don't want to suppose that even the Sherlock of "The Mazarin Stone" was not our Sherlock.

But as I reflected upon such theories and applied that filter to the issues of BBC Sherlock, the idea of a Deutero-Sherlock seemed much more sound.

We are never told exactly how Sherlock Holmes survived the Reichenbach Fall. We know that someone who looked just like him came to the graveyard while John mourned at his grave. We know that Mycroft pulled a shaggy spy from the field to take up Sherlock's place in London. And we know that John Watson seemed to want to punch Sherlock Holmes a lot more after his BBC hiatus, starting immediately. And Mycroft did use that phrase "the other one," which we were supposed to accept meant Eurus . . . but did Eurus ever seem like anything close to another Sherlock?

As messed-up and secretive as the Holmes family eventually was shown to be in "The Final Problem," the idea that there was an additional sibling, a twin for Sherlock is not that far fetched. Or, failing that, an MI-6 agent that Mycroft Holmes made into a replica of his brother. (That would certainly explain all the spy stuff coming in so hot and heavy.)

But, as tempting as a second Sherlock might be, there is that price that must be paid . . . a price earlier Sherlockians have always been unwilling to accept to explain a few character changes. Does one give up two seasons and a Christmas special to hold that the pure Sherlock of seasons one and two was not the man who came back post-hiatus? Both were played by Benedict Cumberbatch, 'tis true, but it tends to leave John Watson in an even messier place than he is at the end of season four, even though he may not consciously be aware of it.

Has anyone wrote a fic of post-Reichenbach Johnlock where poor John discovers Sherlock is truly not the man he remembered? Surely they must have a this point. It would seem material enough for a whole sub-genre.

As much as my mind goes back to this little theory of a Deutero-Sherlock, it never stays long. In fact, mere moments after I finish this off, I'll probably be back to a single true Sherlock in my headcanon. But it's always an interesting question to raise.

Friday, September 8, 2017

"Such work as we have been doing."

We have puzzled over a lot of things about Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson over the last hundred years. Snakes with ears. Geese with crops. Anybody with anybody else. But there is a line near the end of a seminal tale that I don't think we give enough consideration to. A line we usually just accept for its surface value and don't into dig too deeply. That line?

"I think she is one of the most charming young ladies I ever met, and might have been most useful in such work as we have been doing."
-- Sherlock Holmes, The Sign of Four

Sherlock makes that statement in his explanation of groaning at Watson's engagement announcement. He goes on to speak of Mary Morstan's genius, then suddenly veers into a statement that "love is an emotional thing and whatever is emotional is opposed to that true cold reason which I place above all things." He then quickly adds, "I should never marry myself, lest I bias my judgment."

Sherlock Holmes is obviously covering up something here. We know he's all about the work. Caught unsure of exactly what to say, he's going to default to talking about the detective business. And then talk about how emotions are something he doesn't do . . . right after he had a very emotional reaction. He had just audibly groaned "a most dismal groan."

Now, if you're a romantic, you can go two or three ways here. You can look at it that he himself was infatuated with Mary Morstan, John Watson, or both, and saw there marriage as an opportunity lost. That's a pretty easy route to take. And seemingly more probable than taking Holmes at his word.

Because if we take Holmes at his word, we have to figure out just how Sherlock Holmes was going to use Mary Morstan in their detective business, "such work as we have been doing," as Holmes puts it. But what work was that? He seems to be sitting around, bored and swapping out morphine and cocaine for three months when the case begins, even though he claims he's been consulted by a French detective, seemingly via the mail.

He's consulting by mail, Watson has written up their first case together, and the one thing he finds most impressive about Mary Morstan seems to be her ability to keep an important paper singled out from other papers. Was he hoping to hire Mary as a filing clerk for 221B Baker Street? And somehow Watson's proposal invalidated her from that job?

A more disturbing prospect for the role of this never-filled job comes when you consider that some Sherlockians place this case as occurring in September of 1888 . . . the month of the Jack the Ripper murders. Watson's sudden turn for making Mary Morstan a life partner certainly removed her from the possibility of Holmes using her for Ripper bait. Holmes's idea of the things that were a part of his work ranged very widely, so possibilities going from filing clerk to pretend prostitute are not so unimaginable.

But there is always the possibility that "work" was he and Watson's code name for something else, and the fact that Watson was going to make Miss Morstan his bride leaves Holmes with the immediate reaction of being "as limp as a rag for a week." I will, however, leave that one for keener minds on that sort of topic than my own.

The whole passage about the Watson-Morstan engagement and "such work as we have been doing" definitely needs more study though. And I can't help but wonder if Mary would be good for that work, were she around today.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Time after time, chronology after chronology.

Spending my time on Sherlock's time again.

After the clarity a little time away from your life that a vacation brings, I've come home with some new projects and a little bit of clean-up to do. First up, getting my basic chronology from 2001 back on the web.

The old SherlockPeoria.net site finally met its demise after 15 years sometime last month. The hosting service I placed it with back in 2002 had become very complacent about their customer service, and after several attempts to move peaceably, it just became easiest to let it die of natural causes. The material all still exists, of course, well backed up, but just isn't open to the public as it was for the last decade and a half. Hopefully, most of it will find a new home at some point.

The most-visited part of the old site was the handy reference of "A Basic Timeline of Terra 221B," the chronology of Sherlock Holmes's cases that I worked out while serving as discussion leader on the Hounds of the Internet, way back when. I use it a lot myself, and already had one question as to how soon it would be coming back. After contemplating a few web options, the quickest way seemed to just blog it back out there, so you'll find it at basictimelineterra221b.blogspot.com now.

The links aren't all active yet, which you'll see immediately, as I'm adding quotes and commentary that back up the dates in reverse order, blogging from "His Last Bow" backwards to eventually get the link added for "The Gloria Scott." Within a week or so, the whole 2001 chronology should be back online for handy reference.

You may note the use of the phrase "the whole 2001 chronology," which would seem to indicate it is different from some other year's Sherlockian chronology, and that is the intended use. After fifteen years, a lot has gone on with Sherlock, John, and myself, and I think there are definite reasons for another hard look at the way the boys' time together plays out. As to what year gets attached to the Basic Timeline 2.0, we shall see.

But when the old material is in place, "A Basic Timeline of Terra 221B" is now definitely a blog, which means there is room for not only new posts, but comments on posts old and new as well, making it a little more of a living document than the old chronology.

We'll see what happens next. These days, you just never know.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Back to just us?

With nothing definite ahead for BBC Sherlock or the Downey movie franchise, and even CBS's Elementary dwindling its way off-stage, Sherlock Holmes's big moment in the mainstream might be headed for hiatus again soon. It has happened before, and it will happen again, so no worries. It's just a change in gears that any fandom has to deal with over time, and Sherlockiana has that "over time" part well in hand.

Because when nobody else is talking about Sherlock Holmes, we still are. And when nobody else is making fun content about 221B Baker Street, we make our own.

Being a bit behind the curve, I have yet to ingest Mattias Bostrom's well-reviewed From Holmes to Sherlock, but it sounds like one could use it to chart all the peaks and valleys the legend of Sherlock Holmes has seen over the three separate centuries of its existence. And if one looked at that chart and pointed to the valleys, we'd all know who lives down there: Sherlockians.

When everyone else has left the theater, we'll sneak up on to that stage and do our thing in front of a house that only has a handful of diehards still in the front row. We'll know all the diehards by name very soon after that, and see very familiar faces climbing up to the stage again and again, while the general public goes about their business on the street outside until the theater of Sherlock again gets a hit during the Saturday night features.

There are other shows to wander off to, other fandoms that will take in those who need a heartier diet of fresh produce (he wrote, as he shifted metaphors), but for those that remain, living off stuff canned in earlier days, we'll get to see just how creative our chefs can be in helping keep our palates from getting too numb from the same, familiar tastes.

It's hard to say what the future will bring for Sherlock Holmes. Entertainment culture is anxious to squeeze every dime from any existing property, and Holmes's place in the public domain makes him a tempting well to go back to. We will definitely see adaptations and new attempts that fail to win over either Sherlockians or the general public -- oh, how we've seen those before, so many, many times. But we'll find our fun, and fun will be had.

And if it's back to just us, well, we've got a lot of new kids since the last drought (but do we have them, or do they have us?), and they seem like a whole lot of fun. I think we'll make it.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Labor Day means that Presbury monkey business.

One hundred and fifteen years ago this week, Sherlock Holmes was presented with one of his more ridiculous puzzles. And he's sitting like "L" from Death Note, though L probably is the one sitting like Sherlock, since Sherlock was Sherlock before L was. But I digress.

The case Sherlock Holmes took up all those years ago was one that now seems a little . . . non-case-like?

A man of sixty-one years of age gets all teenage about a girl a third of his age, takes a trip without telling his kids, and gets bit by his dog. If you lay out the facts that start off this case, in the year 2017, it really sounds like a no-go for our man Sherlock, late in his career. "What? A man behaving peculiarly in his later years, chasing younger women? Surely this must be the work of a resurrected Professor Moriarty!" Nope.

If everything in "The Adventure of the Creeping Man" had occurred without Professor Presbury having discovered a Victorian Viagra supplier, Sherlock Holmes would have had nothing to investigate here. A rich old guy and a younger woman start a relationship, she decides maybe the wealth isn't worth missing out on men her own age, and he gets a little wonky when she dumps him. Have Presbury standing outside her window with a guitar instead of pretending to be a monkey in a tree and no one even calls Sherlock Holmes.

I mean, think about it. If Presbury decided song was his key to her heart, suddenly took secret voice and guitar lessons, had his dog bite him for his painful crooning, is there a case here? Not at all. One might argue that a strange imported drug makes it a more criminal matter, but this was 1902. Injecting one's self with animal gland liquids was probably not something Scotland Yard really cared about. And your crazy old father was more of a case for a specialist in mental issues than the greatest criminal investigator of his day.

Perhaps the worst crime in this story is young Bennett refusing to have Presbury seen by a good surgeon after he is mauled by the dog and nearly killed. Or perhaps it's the fact that Professor Presbury, when turned into Mr. Monkey (yes, this tale should really be titled Professor Presbury and Mister Monkey for being the lamest possible remake of 1886's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde) would tease the dog so much. (I guess we're supposed to believe dog-teasing is hard-wired in the DNA of Himalayan langurs?)

If there was a way to do Mystery Science Theater 3000 riffs on a short story, "The Adventure of the Creeping Men" certainly would be a candidate for it. As we enter the week it took place, all those hundred and fifteen years ago, it's worth another look to make that judgment call for yourself.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Frank Moulton and my Rocky retreat.

I've always enjoyed Frank Moulton from "The Noble Bachelor." That title, these days, sounds like a TV show where Lord Robert St. Simon is handing out roses to the likes of Flora Millar and Hatty Doran sorting out his perfect choice of bride. But unlike those silly, silly reality shows, "The Noble Bachelor" features a married man who comes in to mess up St. Simon's quest.

Frank Moulton is a reminder of what a real challenge life in America once was, and the contrast he sets to a child of so-called nobility in posh London is part of what makes the story. Frank Moulton is a man who set a goal, a hard goal, in a hard place, and dragged himself all over creation to accomplish it. He went from a camp near the Rockies to San Francisco, to Montana, then way down to Arizona and New Mexico. He somehow missed being slaughtered when others at his location were. Then he trails his missing bride all the way to London, and once there?

He lets her tell her own story. That might even be the biggest of his achievements after all that.

I don't wonder that Frank had enough control over his ego that, unlike many men of the Canon, he didn't feel the need to dominate the telling of the tale at 221B Baker Street. He certainly could have. But Frank was a guy who had seen the Rocky Mountains.

Residents of our biggest cities like New York and London are rightly proud of the humans that build and populate such incredible anthills of humanity. But finding yourself in the deep rocky canyons of the aptly named Rockies, considering the powerful natural forces that pushed stone into structures larger and more curiously constructed than anything our biggest cities have to offer, well, it kind of puts you in your place. The thought that men like Frank Moulton made their way through this sort of terrain without a paved highway and speeding motorcar makes you realize our species is capable of so much more hardship than most of us face today. And seeing things like bighorn sheep nimbly trotting and jumping around rock walls that would be a slow climb for any human reminds you that even our fancy evolved forms aren't always top of the animal kingdom on all terrain.

Frank Moulton was a guy who came from that sort of place. And spending some time out here in the Rocky Mountains every now and then is definitely good for the soul, even though I'm not a mountain guy at heart -- I'm a river person. Peorians, like Londoners, grew up around that big river of constantly flowing water, a place built because traffic moved more quickly and easily on that water. The mountains are not that place.

Doing a little retreat "near the Rockies," as Frank Moulton began his journey, has always brought me some fresh Sherlock perspectives and challenged me to do some new things. This time is no different. My old website of fifteen years, SherlockPeoria.net, seems to have gone down due to some hosting issues while I was here, a fitting time as it was conceived here as well. While a nice repository of a by-gone, pre-Cumberbatch era material, it needed a major overhaul, and this seems like the opportunity to do that overhaul. You'll be seeing that coming along soon . . . well, that is, if I, like Frank Moulton, turn up alive after all my little adventures in the American West.


Thursday, August 31, 2017

Vacationing in the Land of Despair and finding Wiggins.

If you were going to take a vacation based entirely on Conan Doyle's description of a place in his tales of Sherlock Holmes, where would you go?

Norfolk, where Sherlock spent his long summer vacation, with sunshine, fishing, duck hunting, and a select library?

A little white-washed house on the grassy headlands overlooking "the whole sinister semicircle of Mounts Bay," as Holmes and Watson vacationed in "Devil's Foot?"

Or how about "a grim district" with the main characteristic of "barrenness, inhospitality, and misery," a veritable "land of despair?" Sound good? Just cross the western state line of Nebraska, stay south of the Yellowstone River, stay north of the Colorado River, and don't go so far as California. Hey, make it so far as Greeley, Colorado, if you don't want to work too hard at it.

It's the magical place Conan Doyle describes in the opening paragraphs to the non-Sherlock second half of A Study in Scarlet, and it's where I wind up spending a bit of vacation time due to family ties. So far, I've been able to avoid the skulking coyotes, heavy-winged buzzards, and clumsy grizzly bears Conan Doyle has populating the area.

This particular trip, as we entered this "land of despair," I used the spotty cell service to check Twitter and found that Rob Nunn had found a twin to Mycroft Holmes's "hand like the flipper of a seal" in Danny DeVito's portrayal of the grotesque Penguin of Batman Returns, using multiple photos of same to torment anyone following the discussion. As the roadside scenery turned to barren scrub, the misery Conan Doyle saw here began to coalesce like some dour gray spirit.

Follow the right road into this land Doyle painted so grimly, and you will actually come to a town called "Wiggins," named after 1840s guide and scout in these parts, Oliver Wiggins, who helped set the trails that John Ferrier and his Mormon rescuers would take a few years later.

This brings up the thought that "Wiggins" of Sherlock Holmes's Baker Street Irregulars might not have been named Wiggins from birth at all. Given the exploring Wiggins that came before, Sherlock could have nicknamed his favorite urban scout "Wiggins" after Oliver P. Wiggins.

This thought was much cheerier to me than Mycroft having freakish Tim-Burton-movie hands, and coming upon Wiggins did a little bit to lighten this land Conan Doyle (or his friend Watson) visualized as such a depressing country.

Now if I can just make it through tomorrow without Rob Nunn posting pictures of Danny DeVito playing someone named "Wiggins" with foul prosthetic make-up.

(On a BBC Sherlock note, as Wiggins is now in a state of dispensaries for a certain herb, the town could easily start using the BBC guy as their new mascot.)


Waking up in a different timeline.

This morning began one of those days that you know is going to be a little different. Wake up slightly disoriented in a hotel bed, look at the usual social media suspects to find that spiritualist churches such as Conan Doyle championed still exist. Then see a commercial for The Baker Street Journal where a woman is typing her important Sherlockian paper on a manual typewriter. Manual! Not even an IBM Selectric!

And as it's the last day of August, I know the annual John H. Watson Society Treasure Hunt is winding up and think, "Did I stray into this oddly retro dimension because I didn't take that test this year?"

Waking-up brain is always a little more free-flowing than fully-awake brain. And it thinks about Mycroft Holmes's hands a lot.

Watson wrote that Mycroft had "a broad, flat hand, like the flipper of a seal." How does a person get a hand like that? We are to presume it is somehow tied to Mycroft's obesity, but it's flat, not fat. Was it that way Mycroft held it, with all the fingers tightly closed together? Is it more of a psychological indicator than a physiological one? Did Mycroft clap his hands together and make a honking bark before proffering it to Watson for a shake, mocking John as Sherlock's trained seal?

The Sherlockian mind is trained by Sherlock himself to go deep on the details, and that seal hand of Mycroft's is a detail one could definitely go deep on. (And then type it up on a manual typewriter to send to The Baker Street Journal.)

But I am just waking up and things still have yet to settle in my morning brain. It's also the last day of August, which makes me feel like I should make a reference to Brittany Cavallaro's The Last of August. Such a good title, and a reference to a character who gets a bit of two different Canonical villains in his name.

If all this is a bit rambling, it is probably because I'm on the road to a place whose blog-post is being held back a little longer, as it's a place Conan Doyle did no favors for as a tourist destination. But more to come . . . .

Sunday, August 27, 2017

"It's not for you."

Modern decor doesn't feature framed needlework quotes hung on the wall so much any more, but if it did, there is one stated truth I think I would have to hang: "It's not for you."

The saying hasn't been around all that long, as I don't think it was necessary fifty years ago. Or maybe it was, we just were trying to get past some bigger issues back then and didn't have extra time to fine-tune. But, as the internet gave all of us a broadcast platform, even if it was just our Facebook feed, and pundit/critic licenses suddenly came with birth certificates, those words became a very necessary reflection.

It's not for you.

And, boy, does that apply to the hobby of Sherlockiana.

You see, we only have these sixty stories of Sherlock Holmes. And people are living a very long time now. As a Sherlockian about to hit sixty who came to the hobby in college, I've got over forty years in this field of focus now, which means I've looked at those same stories way too many damn times. Yes, yes, evergreen prose, blah, blah, blah, but come on now . . . nothing is that magical.

At this point, listening to a new Sherlockian podcast or reading some new article that spends half its time going down a path I've been down literally hundreds of times before, my first thought has to be "It's not for you." Because it's not.

This is the trap of becoming an elder Sherlockian: Thinking you're the same person you were when you started. Thinking your happy memories from the 1970s can be entirely useful to a Sherlockian minted in the 2010s. Thinking your boredom should be everyone's boredom.

I don't review things that much in this blog because I don't have the ability to any more. This morning, for example, I sampled a Sherlockian entertainment that I really wanted to like but it was just too same-old, same-old . . . for me. To someone who just joined the club last year, it would have been great. But to someone with hundreds of Holmes books already on their shelves? Been there, done that, done that in the winter, done that in the spring, done that on the Fourth of July . . . .

When we hear the phrase "It's not for you" we're so often talking about gender perspectives, cultural perspectives, generational perspectives, etc., but the biggest difference that sneaks up on us all over time is just the "having been at this a while" versus "excitement of the new" perspective. Our love of the idea of something can last a lifetime, like a movie that brought us great joy upon first viewing. But actually enjoying that thing itself repeatedly?

Nostalgia only goes so far. It's why new adaptations of older stories take their worst beatings from the diehard fans. You can't recapture your youth or your first time, no matter how much you'd like to, and the best you can do at some point is just to enjoy watching the new kids have their own first time moments and all the crazy fallout that first infatuation brings with it.

Because, like that saying goes, at some point it's not for you any more at all. It's for those who come next.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Did Sherlock Holmes collect trophies?

During last night's look at "The Speckled Band," I noticed something odd about the corpse Sherlock Holmes discovers.

"Beside this table, on the wooden chair, sat Dr. Grimesby Roylott, clad in a long gray dressing-gown, his bare ankles protruding beneath, and his feet thrust into red heelless Turkish slippers."

Outside of A Study in Scarlet, "The Speckled Band" is the earliest occurring recorded case of Sherlock Holmes that we know of, coming before all the others. And it has certain details that we see repeated, which some might say are part of an author going back to the same creative trough, out of habit or laziness. That is, if you're taking the train of thought that an author was behind all of this . . . .

If you're taking Watson's memory for detail as Canon, however, the occasional familiar bit may make you go, "Hey, wait a minute . . ." as that line above did with me this time out.

Grimesby Roylott has a long gray dressing-gown.

Sherlock Holmes had a long gray dressing-gown. Watson just called it "mouse-coloured" when Holmes dresses his wax dummy in it in "The Empty House."

Grimesby Roylott has Turkish slippers.

Sherlock Holmes has Persian slippers. Given that Persia, a.k.a. Iran, and Turkey share a common border, these are pretty much the same kind of slippers. And yes, I refer to "a" Persian slipper that Holmes kept his tobacco in, mentioned in "The Musgrave Ritual." As well as "the Persian slipper" he offers Watson tobacco from in "The Naval Treaty." Plainly, a pair of Persian slippers. How can I be so certain of this? Well, as Watson showed preferences for ship's and later an Arcadia mixture, it should be plain enough that one slipper had Holmes's tobacco of choice and the other held a supply for visits by Watson.

But I digress.

The point I'm trying to make here is that Grimesby Roylott's personal effects seem like they might have wound up in Sherlock Holmes's sitting room. We know Holmes saved a sovereign to remember Irene Adler by, and coins from the treasure chest the Musgrave ritual led to . . . he did like his souvenirs. Did he take one in every case he worked on?

"Our chambers were full of criminal relics," Watson wrote in that same "Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual."  But are we to think that Holmes might have even robbed a corpse of a decent pair of slippers and a dressing gown in his little obsession with criminal relics? Well, the man was extremely comfortable in dealing with bodies in his work. And in 1883, a younger Holmes working apart from the police on a case like he was in the Roylott matter, a case where he wasn't going to make much money, the line between "crime scene" and "yard sale" might not have been as solid as on some other occasions.

It's definitely something worth considering. And maybe time we looked around 221B Baker Street for a few other "freebies" that came as returns on Sherlock Holmes's "invest"-igations.

You never know.



The man who was as odd as his snake.

Sherlockian studies have been shifting gears of late, with fan fiction pointing its magnifying lens on the relationships of the Canon. And nowhere is a gear shift  more needed than when we look at "The Speckled Band," as Peoria's local Sherlockian study group did this week.

So much of our considerations of that case have been over the way the *BARELY NEEDED SPOILER ALERT* snake doesn't make any sense. It hears whistles. It drinks milk. It climbs a rope. It has an unprecedentedly fast-acting poison. But with that speckled distraction out front, we never really look hard at the fellow behind the snake and how he makes no sense.

Grimesby Roylott is like something out of a comic book or a cartoon. He beats up everybody in the nearby small town. He bends fireplace pokers. And he tries to kill someone completely under his power through an absurdly complicated method that gives them a chance to escape.

I mean, think about it: Why doesn't Grimesby just take a pillow and smother his step-daughter?

The snake scheme is supposedly there because it kills without marks (if no one notices the fang puncture wounds), but that effect isn't all that hard to produce in a murder. Especially for someone who was an experienced medical man, which Grimesby Roylott was.

The isolated manor house he and his victim lived in only had one other occupant, as reported by Roylott's intended victim: "We have a housekeeper now, but she is old and foolish, and I could easily get her out of the way." That's the victim tallking, so a true villain is going to have no probably manipulating that one potential witness.

Grimesby Roylott is one of those fellows portrayed as such a definite villain that we never really try to understand where he came from or why he did the things he did. Why the violent rages? Why the time spent with the gypsies? Why the spare little bedroom furnishings? Why not take up some form of medical practice so far from his criminal record as to render it moot? He is characterized so much like Bluto from the Popeye cartoons that he might as well tie Helen to a railroad track and require Sherlock Holmes to smoke three pipefuls, swell up his biceps, and punch Grimesby into the stratosphere.

It's a pity Roylott didn't make it more heavily into BBC Sherlock so that he could get more exploration and character development in fan fiction, like Sebastian Moran (who wasn't shown in the show, yet is so tied to Moriarty that he benefited greatly). But we have many a Sherlockian decade ahead of us, so who knows? Somebody just might make sense of him one of these days.

Because people are much more interesting than snakes. Holmes and Watson's friend Stamford knew that well, quoting Pope's "The proper study of mankind is man" in his brief time on the Canonical stage. But Stamford is another guy with depths that could be more fully explored, so I'd best not get started on him here . . . Grimesby Roylott, though! What was going on there?

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

History isn't always all it's cracked up to be.

History is a funny, funny thing.

Sherlockians have long done research to find Sherlock Holmes's place in history . . . "the Game," as it is sometimes called. We have to call it a game, because sometimes the too-literal, simpler folk fear we are promoting some sort of revisionism to bring what we are all certain is a fictional character into the history books. And, perhaps, denying Conan Doyle his due. Though I'm sure Conan Doyle would be even more famous were we to suddenly discover that Holmes was real and he kept the secret from us all this time.

You never know. Because, like I said, history is a funny, funny thing.

Looking at what I've experienced of the world, Sherlockian and non, and what history is liable to record of those events, it seems very possible that Sherlock Holmes and John H. Watson could have existed out there in the cracks somewhere.

History favors the wealthy and powerful, and if anyone had a reason to quash that there was ever any truth to certain points in the Sherlock Holmes stories, it would have been the wealthy and powerful. I live in a city whose own history has been whitewashed more than a bit . . . a wide-open town of all sorts of vices like Peoria once was has its share of family wealth passed down from illegitimate sources. Heck, my favorite local church even took money from the rackets once upon a time, and it wasn't alone in that.

History has so many little hidden gems that die with its participants. Things done for love unspoken, no-talents coming to the fore out of sheer resolve (which is a talent in itself, I guess) to stand in place of genius, incredible moments that never passed beyond word of mouth before all the mouths passed away. There are not only cracks in history, but gaps, gullies, and great gaping voids.

Plenty big enough for 221B Baker Street and all its occupants.

With all of the wicked little conspiracy theories out there, aimed at tearing down or discrediting, what would it hurt to slip a more positive one named Sherlock Holmes into the mix? True, Sherlock is every bit as real as Russell's teapot, evidence-wise, but hey, if you have to go down a rabbit hole of crazy, at least we have clubs and cons with some very charming people who will still hang out with you if you do.

So make a little history. Whether it has you or Sherlock Holmes in in, someone will enjoy it, I'm sure.

Monday, August 21, 2017

A rare moment for Sherlockians to gather,

Well, I'm now one up on Alec MacDonald.

Sure, Inspector MacDonald got to meet Sherlock Holmes, John H. Watson, and Professor Moriarty. I don't see myself ever being able to check that box. But I did get to see a total eclipse of the sun, which it is very, very, very unlikely that MacDonald did. I know this, because Janet Bensley, the new "Waxen Image" (vice-president) of the Occupants of the Empty House, explained those possibilities in detail as the moon started to move in front of the sun today.

A great migration of Americans headed down, up, or sideways to see the total eclipse today -- a fact that became frighteningly clear when they all decided to go home at once, or so it seemed. But even with something as once-in-a-lifetime as a solar event like that, it is vastly improved by doing it among Sherlockians at their old home base.

The Occupants of the Empty House, Southern Illinois's regional Sherlockian society -- a special rare thing as no major city can lay claim to it -- have been gathering at Alongi's restaurant in DuQuoin, Illinois for a very long time now, and the owners and staff know them well. So it was a very happy arrangement that allowed the Occupants to take use both the banquet room and the patio for a few hours today to have lunch in comfortable air conditioning on a hot and humid day, then step out on the patio as they liked to take in the eclipse.

We debated Moriarty's place as top villain in the Canon -- and voted he was not, based on a case I pleaded for another, whom you will hear about another day. But Moriarty's eclipse by another was just part of the fun. I took some pins and cards so we could make pinhole eclipse projectors in a "patriotic V.R." or other Sherlockian pattern of choice. Bottles of eclipse wine were both opened and auctioned, and a general camaraderie of everyone there just made the special moment in time all the better.


A "V.R." of eclipses.


Occupants and friends viewing the oncoming totality.

When the "diamond ring" first appeared as the sun blotted the moon, the temperature had already cooled noticeably, the streetlights came up, the cicadas and crickets sang, a weird 360 degree dusk took over the world, and there we were. The Occupants of the Empty House became the Occupants of the Empty Sun for a couple brief minutes.

Sherlockians have an ability to make anything be about Sherlock Holmes, even though this was kind of an easy one, as Professor Moriarty did explain eclipses to Alec MacDonald using a globe and a lantern. (Which was good, as MacDonald surely never saw a complete one in person.) Following Sherlock Holmes is a hobby that will take you places you might never have otherwise gone, or appreciated nearly so well when you got there, and today was definitely one of those days for me.

And, as weary as I now am after the long journey home, I still have to give Holmes a big "Hoo-RAH!" for that.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

The big deal about eclipses.

As a lot of us are going to be making a big deal of the eclipse very soon, it seems, as always, time to look to the Canon of Sherlock Holmes and check to see if it really is all that important.

I mean, if something is truly important, there will be a reference to it in the Sherlock Holmes stories, right? (At least those of us who seem to want to write endlessly about that great detective definitely hope so.) A quick check-up on the matter proves it out:

Eclipses are important, because if you look at the cases of Sherlock Holmes and see the people they are associated with . . . wow.

Sherlock Holmes, of course, references eclipses on the subject of his own mind: "Should you care to add the case to your annals, my dear Watson, it can only be as an example of that temporary eclipse to which even the best-balance mind may be exposed." (This, about "The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax.")

Watson also uses it to show how much Irene Adler meant to Holmes: "In his mind, she eclipses and predominates the whole of her sex." (In "A Scandal in Bohemia, of course.")

And Inspector MacDonald gets eclipses themselves explained to him by Professor Moriarty: "I had a chat with him on eclipses . . . he had out a reflector lantern and a globe and made it all clear in a minute. He lent me a book . . ." (During The Valley of Fear.)

Sherlock Holmes. Irene Adler. Professor Moriarty.

If those aren't the big three of the Sherlock Holmes universe, who is?

(Yes, Mycroft, but he gets "Jupiter is descending today" and "A planet might as well leave its orbit." to show his planetary importance.)

Which makes it all the more interesting when one finds the one other reference to eclipses in the Canon Holmes and what it refers to: "The Lord St. Simon marriage, and its curious termination, have long since ceased to be a subject of interest in those exalted circles in which the unfortunate bridegroom moves. Fresh scandals have eclipsed it . . . ."

John H. Watson uses the word, regarding the scandalous bigamy of St. Simon's bride. Note that Watson also featured a bigamy-involved case in the first novel he wrote of Holmes's detection, A Study in Scarlet. And while that scandal in Bohemia wasn't about bigamy, it was about multiple romantic relationships in conflict. So why might that topic have been of "eclipse-level" importance to Watson? As someone who has written of the possible six wives of John H. Watson, I definitely have my own theories.

But let's not eclipse the eclipse with Watson's little relationship issues. It's kind of a big deal, as the Sherlock Holmes texts definitely convey.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Eclipso Irene.

With Monday bringing a total eclipse of the sun to parts of the U.S. near to Sherlock Peoria, the time seems night to recall another eclipse from fourteen years ago, involving Mr. Sherlock Holmes.


The medium was comics, and DC had taken to publishing a book featuring a strange character named "Eclipso," a sort of supernatural Jekyll-and-Hyde who was less about two sides to one person and more about a comic booky sort of demon possessing people. Since the true entity called Eclipso was not human, it existed throughout time, and in May and June issues for 1993, Eclipso came to the London of Sherlock Holmes.

First possessing a judge in Eclipso #7, the entity's host met a tragic fate, but upon his demise the final page of the story finds Eclipso in a new host -- Irene Adler -- with the King of Bohemia tied to a bed in his boxers.

"Irene has always wanted to kill -- the KING OF BOHEMIA!" the possessed adventuress announces in the final panel, with a blurb reading "NEXT: GOOD NIGHT, MISTER HOLMES!" just below it.

So coming to Eclipso issue #8, written by Robert Loren Fleming, we immediately see a desperate man, running for his life, and coming to Baker Street. He barges past a sleepy Mrs. Hudson, whom Holmes and Watson also pass on their way to the sitting room (curious layout to 221B in this comic!), and is given a tall glass of something alcoholic by Watson. Holmes mentally relives "A Scandal in Bohemia" over the course of three pages, and then we come back to Godfrey Norton and his tale of his wife seemingly becoming supernatural and disemboweling the King in Norton's bedroom.

Now comes spoiler territory, so if you'd like to read this tale for yourself, I'd recommend you go find a copy and do so now. Because I'm about to spill the fun stuff.

Ready?

Irene, now darkly super-powerful, kills Norton, wraps a fireplace poker around Sherlock's neck, and has a bullet from Watson's revolver bounce off her. In the resulting struggle to save his friend, Watson accidentally grabs one of the Eclipso gems that caused Irene's possession and becomes an Eclipso himself.

"I must oppose you . . ." Eclipso Watson tells Eclipso Irene. "For he loves this man . . ."

A little Johnlock in 1993? Sure, why not. But wait . . .

With the rising sun, Irene reverts to normal, and Eclipso Watson flees, hiding in a church out of the sunlight. (Eclipsos are a bit like werewolves, and can't exist in sunlight, it seems.) Holmes follows him, and Irene follows Holmes.

Now, let me give fair warning, should you ever decide to read this tale from 1993: Irene Adler is not quite the clever lady we remember her to be. She defeats Eclipso after discovering she killed her own husband while in his thrall, but in a really stupid fashion that finishes her as well. 

Sherlock is sharing a moment with Watson when he realizes what Irene has done, so he has to share a moment with her before she dies. And then we get an epilogue of Holmes with his bees and his housekeeper on Sussex Downs remembering the adventure and considering his own eventual death.

This is not a happy tale, and the art by Ted McKeever is somewhere between stylized and just seeming sloppily done in haste. Still, the story is fairly good and it makes a nice oddity in one's collection of Sherlock Holmes comics.

Hopefully, Monday's eclipse will not be so hard on Sherlockians as Eclipso was on Irene.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

When Sherlock Holmes rose from the depths.

Remember all the times that Sherlock Holmes was falling apart?

"His iron constitution, however, had broken down under the strain of an investigation which had extended over two months, during which period he had never worked less than fifteen hours a day . . . ."

That was from "Reigate Squires." But "Dying Detective," The Sign of Four, even "Empty House, in it's way, all have Watson telling us of times when Sherlock Holmes was at a low point, a place when no one would have expected anything from a person in such a condition. Worn out, deathly ill, drugged, or even dead, in each case Sherlock Holmes comes back to be . . . well, Sherlock Holmes.

Logic, reason, and truth are all brought to bear on mystery and ignorance of a situation to win the day. Even when things look darkest for him personally, Sherlock Holmes rises to help, rises to make things better for the rest of his fellow humans.

In a life of looking to Sherlock Holmes and John H. Watson for inspiration, I don't think I've ever found him wanting. A really good book can be like that, and Holmes and Watson are in many good books. But you know that.

This morning, waking up and looking at the goings-on of a country trying to find its way around a particular source of grief, mistrust, and an incompetence that's far too easy to just call "evil," a Sherlockian like myself is apt to turn in the direction of 221B Baker Street and say, "What have you got for me, Sherlock?" And like a golden nugget in a pan full of river silt, something shines up at me and reminds me that this is a stream worth panning.

Conan Doyle channelled John H. Watson, M.D. starting a hundred and thirty years ago, and the words he put on paper then still shine today. Sherlock Holmes could find light in darkness then, serve as an example of a person rising to find answers from their lowest ebb, and inspire us to do likewise, and he still does so now.

Reason. Truth. Attempting to help. Even though Sherlock Holmes was a man whose intelligence and personality made it hard for him to relate to others at times, he still knew what he had to do when the time came, and he rose to do it. And occasionally, he rose from some pretty dark depths.

A Sherlock Holmes fan named Nicholas Meyer and a composer named James Horner once combined talents to create a scene that lives in my mind to this day, the battle of the Mutara Nebula. A very simple trick, both as a part of the story and of the film, gives the viewer a glorious moment when a beaten and damaged starship rises up from behind its foe to seize the moment and win the day. The orchestral score of that moment is brilliant and brings the full emotional punch of it to bear.

If the Canon of Holmes had a soundtrack, I think we'd hear more than a few of those moments, and this morning was a good morning to remember they exist.

Sherlock Holmes rising to deal with what needed to be dealt with -- its a spirit that we are blessed to have passed along to us to this day, a day when we definitely need to look to better days ahead.

Monday, August 14, 2017

When one Baker Street isn't enough.

Sherlock and Sherlockians provided the best parts of the past weekend, I think.

My friend John Holliday, a great Sherlockian whose reclusive and mysterious nature means he's only been seen by a scant few Sherlockians, came to town for an Irish pub lunch and hanging out in the Sherlock library. (I have the good Carter as a witness, in case you should ever think he's a Tyler Durden figment of my imagination whom I named after a famous gunfighter.)

And the 221B Con commanders all went down to Atlanta to research the new hotel for this year's con, and the con's Homeless Network tweeted some great pics of what we can expect there come spring. As I had to tweet on Saturday, the reminders of all the love and inclusion that swirl around 221B Con were a healthy inoculation against the hate on display in one corner of the country, and a reminder that there are good, good people here in America, as well as those who act otherwise.

But when Sunday night came, and the last moments of the weekend brought that weary lack of accomplishment blues that come as the clock runs out, I found myself picking a book out from down in the pile near my bed, one I picked up at an Indianapolis horror convention, of all places, a few years back:

Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets, edited by David Thomas Moore.

I dearly love that title, so much that I almost wish I'd come up with it myself. But as this was a three-hundred-and-some page paperback, what I found inside was merely fourteen stories of alternative universe Sherlocks and Johns, and yet . . . it was enough.

"A Scandal in Hobohemia" by Jamie Wyman turned Baker Street into a carnival, where ex-military man Jim Walker first encounters carny Sanford Haus. It was a colorful new world to be swept into, securely anchored by the knowledge that underneath their guises, these were two old friends.

The second tale, "Black Alice," by Kelly Hale, brought back the familiar names of Holmes and Watson, but place them a full century before their rightful place, the same yet different.

I don't review books very often here in the blog, as I don't finish most books in a timely manner, and don't like to talk about those I don't finish . . . not sure who's fault that is in a particular case. But in this case, just getting started with Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets was such a particularly welcome tonic of distraction at the end of mixed bag of a weekend. (Burying bodies from the household serial killer can be soooo depressing on top of everything else. Don't know why we let him live here.)

And a good reminder of just how much fun Sherlock Holmes and John Watson can be at the end of the day is always worth a mention.

Ennui.

Sherlock Holmes was so against boredom that he couldn't even say the word.

"It saved me from ennui," he replies  to Watson's compliments at the end of "The Red-Headed League."

Bored by social events. ("Noble Bachelor.") Bored even with his own explanations of his own deductions. ("Blue Carbuncle.") Bored with crime. ("Wisteria Lodge," "Copper Beeches," etc.)

Like fellow genius Rick Sanchez (who just might have had a deerstalker on for ten seconds in this week's episode of "Rick and Morty"), Sherlock Holmes is just so good at what he does that it just isn't fun at a certain point. He certainly didn't retire in 1903 to keep bees because crime and mystery had been eradicated from the world.

No, Sherlock Holmes went, "Gee, what's more interesting than crime? I know, bees."

And, sorry, bee-lovers, but bees more interesting than humans? Have a little species pride here. Bees only get anywhere close to equally interesting as humans if you've so mastered humanity's every move that they might as well be a predictable hive. Sherlock Holmes's retirement is actually such a diss on the human race that it's amazing he has human fans.

Oh, I shouldn't watch "Rick and Morty" the first thing on a Monday morning. Did I mention there was a character composed of a million bees on this week's episode? Sherlock Holmes might have liked that guy . . . since he seemed to head in that bee direction for retirement and not hanging out with Watson and the kids, or hunting up Irene Adler, or doing something for Mycroft . . . which, oh wait, he did do after he got sick of the bees.

And don't get me started on Mary Russell. She's imaginary.

Sherlock Holmes in retirement, without Watson to either admire his efforts or bring him down a notch, is pretty dull himself. "Let's squash a jellyfish with a rock!" dull. Oops. Sorry, jellyfishes. Crossed a line there.

Mondays. What are ya gonna do? Let's be on the side of Sherlock Holmes and go anti-boredom this week. Because otherwise . . . well, things get kinda dull.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Five. Orange. Pips.

Let's talk about "The Five Orange Pips" this morning, and contrast it with the modern day.

Not in terms of its writing. Not in terms of its Victorian detail. Not anything about Sherlock Holmes.

No, let's talk about how the Ku Klux fucking Klan had a sense of shame in that tale.

Now, I probably should apologize for using "fucking" in a Sherlock Holmes blog, where mannered British-isms might seem the order of the day, but we're just at that point here. I woke up this morning to read of torch-wielding Klan types in the news in 2017. And if that doesn't make you want to say, "Well, fuck that," you probably shouldn't be reading anything I write.

The entire reason "The Five Orange Pips" works is because Conan Doyle wrote the Ku Klux Klan as what it was . . . a secret society. Their threatening message, those five seeds from an orange, was remarkable in its ordinariness, a threat that the casual onlooker wouldn't see as terrifying. The Klan of that story worked in the shadows, made deaths look like accidents or suicide, and basically avoided the light like the cockroaches of evil they were.

The true Ku Klux Klan of decades before was more of a terrorist organization, burning and lynching so their works would be seen by the public, even if they were not. Their hooded robes hid their faces, as they knew that society was not behind them. They knew their agenda was not something that would stand the light of day.

And now, thanks to whatever factor analysis might cite . . . growing poverty, false entitlement, the inability to get a girlfriend . . . we're seeing a version of the Klan that, even if it doesn't use that name, wants to announce itself publicly with torches and uncovered faces. And just as much a threat in those torches as the five orange pips . . . the threat to burn the changing culture that so offends and frightens them. A changing culture which is people.

Despite what one blithering idiot might be saying to the world this past week, we don't burn people.

We. Don't. Burn. People.

The stories of Sherlock Holmes have always been a source for nostalgia, a longing for times of horse-drawn conveyances and guiltless tobacco smoking, etc. But I never thought I'd see the day when they'd also be a source of nostalgia for a secretive, sneaky Ku Klux Klan, that at least seemed to have a sense of shame about its evil nature.

And yet here we are. Time to pull a Sherlock Holmes and send those pips in the opposite direction, don't you think?

Thursday, August 10, 2017

"John, Sherlock. Watson, Holmes."

There was a single cry of frustration on Twitter today that caught my eye, amid the feeds thousand other reactions today, and it didn't have the word "nuclear" in it. (Sorry to use the word, just emotionally time-stamping this blog.) It went like this: "STOP CALLING THEM SHERLOCK AND WATSON 2k17."

In a single line of protest, one could see so much of the current state of things Sherlockian.

Sherlock and John. Holmes and Watson.

Two men with two different forms of address, those two styles connoting source material, generations, approaches to their relationship, time periods . . . a virtual rabbit hole for deep-diving, but then Sherlock Holmes and John H. Watson have always been an incredible cavern for exploration to those who "catch the distant view-halloah" as the Starrett poem says.

Even as I've come to use both given names and surmanes of the pair as the spirit moves me, those names still bring distinct pictures to my head.

"Holmes and Watson" are older gentlemen. The fellows you saw in every adaptation pre-2010, regardless of who the actors were. Even all the art of that time placed them as near-senior-citizens an ungodly percentage of the time.

"Sherlock and John" are younger, vital men. The age where men are actively coupling, whatever direction you want to take that, and they can actually still run with all the speed of youth. They are the age that A Study in Scarlet always handed us, yet no one seemed to want them to be.

One set of names is properly Victorian, the other modern casual, yet once you go "Sherlock and John," the two tend to remain on a first-name basis even when you return to the Victorian era. It's a cultural retrofitting that I suspect we'll never return from, unless a new Victorian age takes over . . . and these days, you just never know. Crazier things have happened.

One can even almost understand why the offending combination of "Sherlock and Watson" occurs -- "Sherlock" is the more distinct of the detective's two names, and "Watson" the more distinctive of the doctor's. It's a mismatch, to be sure, but you know how ham-handed the non-Sherlockians have always been with our favorite sons of Britain. (The phrase "No shit, Sherlock!" popularized over-familiarity with Holmes long before he and John were on a first name basis. And pretty rudely at that. Sherlockians definitely didn't start that trend.)

And as old school as my roots run, I really like that I've gotten comfortable calling the boys Sherlock and John. It's like we've all gotten to know them a little better. After a century or so, I'd say, as a fan culture, we have. Not everyone's preference, even now, I know, but not every shift in societal norms over time is an omen of the end times. Sometimes, it's just a sign that something brand new is actually happening for a valid reason.

We're kind of lucky that Sherlock Holmes and John H. Watson have hung around long enough for us to get to this point with them. And where they go from here? Well, anyone that gets to see that will, I hope, be luckier still.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Really? John Watson's Island, season two, begins!

Nothing says relaxation like turning off your brain at the end of a hard day, flopping on the couch, and turning on a sitcom with a laugh-track that even takes the work out of voicing your merriment. But for the summer blogger, a serious evening's relaxation must go one step further: Converting episodes of the classic sitcom Gilligan's Island into a Sherlock-based comedy called John Watson's Island. Last month saw the end of the first thirty-six episode season of the show (Ah, how long things ran in the sixties!), and this month begins season two:

37. The Grice Patersons from the Isle of Oof-ah. A family of primitive Scots from a neighboring island show up and encounter John Watson in the jungle. After many comical communication errors, Mycroft informs John that they want him to marry their daughter, having come to the island in search of a mate for her. Mycroft interprets that John must past a marital test of manhood first, involving a caber toss and a hammer throw, and that Watson should do it so the Scots will help them get off the island. Lestrade offers to help John practice, but while tossing the caber, Lestrade accidentally kills the bride-to-be's mother. According to Scot islander custom, he must then take the mother's place in the family. After wacky attempts at Scottish maternal duties, Lestrade's new husband decides divorce is best and takes his daughter away from the island to get as far away from the Scotland Yard inspector as possible.

38. An Admirable Queen. When a newspaper washes up on the shore with a headline about the winner of the Miss British Empire contest, Irene becomes furious, as the winner was her understudy in the last opera she performed in, who also replaced her as star when she became shipwrecked. When Sherlock says that Irene is still the most beautiful woman on their current island empire in an act a rare chivalry, John argues that Mary might be the more handsome woman, and Mycroft then proposes that Inspector Lestrade is really the most handsome of all the castaways. Professor Moriarty proposes a beauty pageant to settle the issue. Since Moriarty is the only one without bias toward a particular candidate, he is asked to judge the contest, which sparks all sorts of hijinks as the castaways sabotage each other's chances. Moriarty finally decides that they all look so foolish that he is the only fitting queen of the island and places the crown upon his own head.

39. A Scandal in New San Pedro. Don Murillo, the Tiger of San Pedro, arrives at the island after being thrown off a steam launch by countrymen carrying out his exile. Murillo declares the island "New San Pedro" and announces himself the new dictator of the island nation. Mycroft explains that this is a democratic island in which every castaway is a member of the parliament that chooses their prime minister, and Murillo, realizing he cannot win such an election, starts promoting the merits of John Watson as prime minister, sure that he can connive his way into a spot as Watson's top advisor. No one thinks Watson can beat such brainy candidates as the Holmes brothers and Moriarty, but when the "smart" votes are split so widely between them, John Watson wins the election with three votes. (Sherlock's, Mary's, and Don Murillo's.) John has a whole weird dream about being king of the island, yet a puppet to Don Murillo, and wakes convinced to resign, only to find that Don Murillo has been mysteriously murdered during the night, which Moriarty confesses to and everyone laughs, deciding they don't need a government after all.

40. The Developed Footage. When John Watson discovers a downed hot air balloon with an aerial camera, the castaways decide they can repair and re-inflate the balloon to carry the camera back to London with pictures of them and a note to summon a rescue. After much debate and many humorous modeling sessions, the castaways decide to dress primitively to show their desperate straits. But after the letter asking for help is placed on the balloon, Watson decides to change something, accidentally releasing the balloon as he grabs the letter. When the camera makes it back to London, the geographers who funded its mission declare it a great success, as the pictures they find seem to be of a new tribe of primitive Britons living as they did before civilization. The geographers all then agree that those innocent natives should be left alone to live their lives.

41. The Gold Circle. Another newspaper washes ashore in a water-proof trunk, this time announcing that the missing John Watson is the winner of the Irish Sweepstakes. Professor Moriarty announces that his pub is now an exclusive club for the island's wealthy, whom he calls his "Baker Street Regulars." John, finding himself a bit lonely in the club, writes IOUs for 50,000 pounds to Irene and Mary, then later one for Sherlock, who passes it to his brother when he gets tired and is going to bed. Lestrade just comes in saying he had to investigate a complaint he had about the establishment, and Sherlock has a crazy dream about the old West and a town that only lets rich Americans in. Reading the new newspaper over his breakfast, he points out that it was John O. Watson who won the sweepstakes and not John H. Watson, and Moriarty opens the pub back up to everyone.

42. The Grossest Episode. When Professor Moriarty says his calculations of London sewage production from overpopulation is causing the Thames to rise, Mycroft decides the castaways must build a new hut on higher ground. All the castaways have ideas on how to improve the new construction, which they call 223B Island Street, and their solo efforts each wind up counteracting some others. The one part that does manage to get built is a crow's nest, from which John Watson spots a fleet of huge filthy prison ships headed for downriver for Australia, causing the river to rise and freely dumping waste overboard. Moriarty's theory disproven, they all retire to 221B Island Street and listen to Sherlock Holmes tell the story of the Gloria Scott one more time.

Well, when the seasons are that long, all the episodes can't be winners. (Have we had a winner yet? Winner implies contest, as well as that it's all over. Perhaps we need to declare a winner.)

Stay tuned for more John Watson's Island! (Or change the channel to one of those showing Sherlockian porn, as the stories are probably a lot better!)

Monday, August 7, 2017

The great composers of Sherlock Holmes.

Way back in 1996, Varese Sarabande produced a CD of music called Sherlock Holmes -- Classic Themes from 221B Baker Street. It led with Patrick Gowers's theme music from the Jeremy Brett series, which was state-of-the-Sherlock back then, and wandered through the musical filmography of Sherlock Holmes, hitting Stephen Sondheim, Miklos Rozsa, and Henry Mancini before it was done. Very cool for 1996. But twenty years have passed, and Sherlock Holmes really needs a two (or three) volume set now if he is going to be represented on vinyl or CD.

Seeing Hans Zimmer including a little Sherlock Holmes in a program of movie music he was doing inspired this little reverie. Zimmer's music for Robert Downey Jr.'s time as Sherlock has a marvelous feel to it, capturing Holmes in a way unlike any before him. (And got an Oscar nomination for score.)

We also now have the work of David Arnold and Michael Price on BBC's Sherlock, which won an Emmy award, as well as Sean Callery's theme for CBS's Elementary, which may not have won an Emmy but did get nominated.

There are some serious contenders for composer of "best Sherlock Holmes music" these days. Folks with some serious credits to their names coming in to do very good work. But being completist collectors, a modern compilation would surely not stop with those heavy hitters.

We'd also like to see a track from Chris Ridenhour's soundtrack to "Sherlock Holmes and Dinosaurs," as it is affectionately known, from The Asylum films. (The guy did the Sharknado music, as well as a boatload of other such films.)

John Barry's score to They Might Be Giants needs representation. I mean, John Barry! Even if you forget Bond films, he was winning BAFTAs before most Americans knew what BAFTAs were.

And while that earlier CD I mentioned, did have a Henry Mancini track from Without A Clue, what about Mancini's work on The Great Mouse Detective, which one could argue had more real Sherlock Holmes than Without A Clue. Definitely need some of that on there!

An while we're talking animated, Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century has a theme song that's an earworm which will not be denied. Eric Allaman is the composer credited with the show's music, and he also did the music for Sherlock Holmes and the Incident at Victoria Falls, so he definitely deserves inclusion.

What else? A bit of Colin Towns from Hands of a Murderer? Madeline Khan singing with Gene Wilder from The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes's Smarter Brother?  (With all the fuss over Eurus Holmes of late, how can we forget Sigerson Holmes? And damned if I wouldn't pay to see Eurus and Siggy in a movie together.)

 The music that's been created for and inspired by Sherlock Holmes over the years is a deep, deep rabbit hole, and one that deserves collecting in its own right. Actors may stand front and center for any Sherlock Holmes production, but the music . . . ah, the music is always what takes a production over the top. And Holmes has had some great stuff, even when the Holmes in front of it wasn't necessarily so great.

Perhaps one day, we'll see it all gathered in one place for a long, thoughtful tour of his tunes. I sure hope so.