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Everything posted by Hikari

  1. I remembered that I have indeed read Lyndsay Faye's Dust and Shadow, and in fact Herl and I have conversed about it right here. That's a Sherlock vs. Jack the Ripper story, and I've read a number of those and got my details mixed up. Around the same time, I also read Laura Joh Rowland's The Ripper's Shadow, which was the first book in a series dedicated to female photographer Sarah Bain's adventures in late Victorian London. Photography was in its infancy and not only was the equipment extremely expensive, unwieldy and rare, but photographers (all male) were considered disreputable. In many quarters, they still are. https://www.laurajohrowland.com/ripper.php SH vs. Saucy Jack has become irresistible to writers and filmmakers, since Jack's bloody reign of terror corresponds precisely to SH's best and most active years in London. It seems inconceivable that Holmes wouldn't have inserted himself into the Scotland Yard investigation. But I understand Conan Doyle's reasons for staying far away from such a topical matter. He wasn't a tabloid journalist but a creator of escapist fiction, and the Jack murders were too raw and recent, and the crimes too sordid. Conan Doyle didn't want to have his fastidious and resolutely celibate detective embroiled in sadosexual murders of prostitutes and be tainted by association as a muckraker. That hasn't stopped generations of imitators from making a buck by having Sherlock gamely get on the tail of Saucy Jack. Conan Doyle's other glaring issue was--The Great Detective always gets his man (or woman). Had he taken on Jack the Ripper the public would have expected to see Holmes unmask the Ripper and bring him to justice, even though only one of those contemporaries was, strictly speaking, real. In our time, that would be like having Sherlock catch the killer of JonBenet Ramsey. Though maybe someone has actually penned such a fan fiction someplace. Author Stephen Hunter identifies the Ripper as a real Victorian esteemed personage and that's definitely a surprise you don't see coming. Blows the mind a little bit. Michael Dibdin's Ripper suspect is even more astounding in The Last Sherlock Holmes Story.
  2. Dropping in on Speedy's Cafe in the first time in forevah . . . @Carol, I discovered Laurence Brown (Lost in the Pond) during the pandemic year or maybe just slightly before. He is very entertaining and still, quintessentially British despite all the things he has discovered that he loves about America. The video where he sampled the Girl Scout cookies was hilarious. He didn't really care for most of them as I recall, but a lot of the packaged 'biscuits' sold in Britain seem similar. I guess maybe mint and peanut butter (particularly the latter) are more of an American obsession. So another funny vid is Laurence attempting to make a PB&J sandwich, and his wife Tarah, showing him how it's done properly (ie, the way she makes it! :)) Tarah is an Indiana girl, so regionally, I 'get' her. Laurence is one of those people who is a lot taller than one is led to expect from his onscreen presence. At 6'1" I think he's quite a bit above the norm for his countrymen and even above the norm for Americans. ****** Re. the Shot I got my first jab of the Pfizer two weeks ago today; April 1st is my second round. My arm was initially fine for four hours and then from about 3pm through to the next day it was quite painful, like I'd been walloped with a baseball bat. Then, at about the 24 hour mark from my injection, the pain disappeared like magic. I felt a little hot and lightheaded immediately after the shot, while I was waiting, but it passed in half a minute or less. I think it was psychosomatic, honestly. A colleague just had her first round of the Pfizer yesterday from the same clinic and she had to go home sick this morning after a couple of hours. But she's had Covid already, along with her whole family, and says the side effects feel just like her Covid symptoms. (backache, chills, tiredness) All of the people I have spoken to who experienced more than a sore arm and actually felt sick are ones who previously tested positive for Covid, and of those, the Moderna seemed to have more of an impact. We shall see what we shall see. Fortunately I have the next day off work if it gets bad. My sister sailed through both of hers with nothing.
  3. Found this article today: https://www.thecuriousreader.in/bookrack/sherlock-holmes-pastiches/ The 8 top Holmes pastiches as rated by one reader. I have read most, though not all of these. I can vouch for Lyndsay Faye (BSI), though I do not recall reading Dust and Shadow. If you do not already own a copy of The Whole Art of Detection, I recommend that one highly. It's a collection of short stories comprising the further adventures of SH, including many that are passing references in Canon stories, like the man who went back into his house after an umbrella and never came out and Col. Warburton's madness. I confess to being underwhelmed by Anthony Horowitz's House of Silk. It wasn't awful, but I didn't think it rated quite as much buzz as it received. His follow-up, though--Moriarty--is a must-read. Bonnie MacBird is an avid Sherlockian with a flat on Baker Street and the hostess of the Sherlock Breakfast Club of London that meets every Saturday, or did, pre-pandemic. Maybe the breakfast meetings are carrying on via Zoom. Her essay on The Naval Treaty in the About Sixty anthology is one of the standouts of that volume. The cover art was fantastic. How sad was I to be more disappointed in Art in the Blood than I have in any Sherlockian pastiche effort apart from the more egregious efforts of Laurie King. Promising set up but it really and truly was bad. Nothing on this list by Donald Thomas or Michael Kurland--an oversight, for sure. Both are wonderful authors who really get into the esprit of Sherlock, and in Kurland's case, Moriarty. Michael Kurland has also edited the fine short story collections: Sherlock Holmes: The Hidden Years and Sherlock Holmes: The American Years.
  4. I guess you haven't seen any of the bonus features for Sherlock, then? Beryl was heavily featured in some of the interview segments, along with daughter Sue (Mrs. Moffat), who was more involved in the day-to-day on set as a producer. Their son Louis, a personable young man who seems to have inherited the paternal hair gene starred in some of the bonus features, too. The term beryl is not commonly used in the States, to my knowledge, and I studied gemstones for a Christmas temp job selling fine jewelry at Macy's. So I googled it. https://geology.com/minerals/beryl.shtml My impression, from the SH story description was that 'beryl' was 'aquamarine', but there seem to be variety of colors. November's (Scorpio) birthstone that I'm familiar with is the topaz (tiger eye), or alternatively, citrine. Maybe citrine is a variant of beryl? Mine is the opal (moonstone) or tourmaline. It's pretty, I guess, but I've never cared for it much. They are very soft stones, which makes them a poor choice for a ring, and they need special care. Since you're a guy, you may not really know the answer to this but it seems to me like in England and other countries (Japan), it is a common custom to give a bride her birthstone as an engagement ring rather than strictly diamonds. We've got Queen Victoria to thank for the tradition of white wedding gowns. She wore white at her wedding and ever since, it has been copied as the color for brides. But her birthday was in May (emerald), not June (diamond). So I wonder where the diamond custom came from. Diamonds are incredibly hard, expressing durability of marriage, I suppose, and also being the most valuable, money-wise, became the most desirable for engagement rings. Your stone is the blue topaz or turquoise. Nice! In my family we've got a topaz, amethyst, opal, 2 blue topaz and an aquamarine.
  5. Carol, I just discovered over the weekend that Jekyll is free on YouTube. I couldn't find a full episode listing so you have to enter 'Jekyll Episode #' to find them individually. They are 53 minutes long. This was a Moffat solo project, executive produced by Beryl Vertue.
  6. Aha. Though I always associated Anderson's role/personality in the show as that of 'Athelney Jones'--the Scotland Yarder who was a rival of SH's. David Marcum would disagree with Mofftiss . . or would phrase it as 'canon is everything'. He's a lot choosier about what he will allow as true to canon. Blowing up Baker Street and blasting Holmes and Watson out of the second storey windows absolutely unscathed probably wouldn't rate. He's very fond of the Rathbone movies, though he has likely become more discerning than he was as a 10-year-old. I do not know his feelings about The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes. I don't think he objects to the Holmes and Watson, but he probably wouldn't care for a lot of that plot, including the hints of romance between SH and an insidious female.
  7. Well done, Herl! I revisited Watson's first encounter with SH in Barts' lab to refresh my memory. This exchange with (Young) Stamford is nearly verbatim: “That’s a strange thing,” remarked my companion; “you are the second man to-day that has used that expression to me.” “And who was the first?” I asked. When the two guys walk in on Sherlock Holmes, he is busy doing a chemical test at the microscope in both versions. The corpse flogging is not mentioned in the story, but I suppose Mofftiss got that idea from somewhere. FYI, Prince Philip had his heart procedure at 'Barts' earlier this month. ******* Dr. Watson in the story has a more favorable impression of his new flatmate at the start; Benedict played Sherl as significantly more irritating to his new acquaintance. But he is perhaps more honestly himself in the early days so that Watson knows exactly what he's in for. In Chapter II, John makes this droll observation which demonstrates that the full extent of his new roommate's challenging habits has not been fully disclosed. Holmes was certainly not a difficult man to live with. He was quiet in his ways, and his habits were regular. It was rare for him to be up after ten at night, and he had invariably breakfasted and gone out before I rose in the morning. ROFL!!! ******* Your list was very thorough. I would add the accoutrements of 221B, including 'Skully' and the knife holding down the letters on the mantelpiece. I can't remember a Persian slipper, but I feel certain that Mofftiss would have included it. I think it's Hounds of Baskerville that features SH walking into the sitting room while stuffing some cigarettes into the toe of a white sneaker (as we Americans call a trainer) and hiding it under the couch. I thought that was droll.
  8. Haven't seen it. Dracula as a character, and vampires in general feel absolutely done to death (pun intended). I had my Anne Rice period in the 1990s--loved Interview with the Vampire (book, not movie), and the next several in that series. Tale of the Body Thief (#4) was the last one I liked. #4 seems to be the magic number for me. ( 10/4 is my birthday, incidentally shared by Anne Rice. Cultural diversion: I have called '4' my lucky number for 30 years, after finding out that 4 (in Japanese, 'shi') is considered a very unlucky number--'shi' written with another kanji character means 'death'. So Japanese people avoid saying '4' unnecessarily. Crockery and silverware are even sold in sets of 5, not 4, even though the typical Japanese family size is 4. Since my birthday signified 'death', I thought there was nothing I could do but embrace it. On the flip side '10' is considered an extra-lucky number so I got balanced out.) That was probably the first and last time I really enjoyed a vampire story. I've read the original Dracula and seen the Francis Ford Coppola version with Gary Oldman. He was seductive and repulsive in equal measure. I was Team Jacob in the Twilight series. An eternity spent with the undead feels like it'd be quite boring. Can't eat or drink anything but blood; avoiding sunlight, sleeping in a coffin . . sure, you never age, but where's the fun? Jekyll was made in 2007 (6 episodes of 60 minutes each.) Apart from one guest role in Touching Evil, I had not seen anything else from Mr. Nesbitt (more recently made famous as Bofur of the funny hat in the dwarfish band). James is fantastic at creating two entirely different personas with only the tiniest of makeup/hair changes to suggest Hyde. Highly recommended. It goes off the rails a bit at the end as Moffat turns on the Doctor Who-ish tap and the final episode ends very abruptly. Not sure if a second series was planned for but it kind of felt like it was left unfinished and unresolved. 8 episodes might have been an ideal length to wrap up loose ends. I miss the nice guys, too. But I think it's precisely because Martin actually didn't enjoy being shoehorned into those mild nice-guy parts (himself being neither mild nor particularly nice. His interviews are so full of expletives it's amazing they get much usable footage and we have all seen how very much MF enjoys a double-barreled bird flip) that he will not be enticed to reprise Dr. Watson. He got to plumb Watson's dark side in S4 and he really pulled all the stops out. I don't think it would appeal to him to take Watson back to that mild-mannered, long-suffering best friend who was so tolerant of and overshadowed by his more flamboyant flatmate's antics. If he agrees to return for even one reunion movie in the vein of Abominable Bride, I'd certainly watch it.
  9. Well, they can try. The schedules of our principals might have opened up again by then. Sherlock made international stars of them, rocketing Benedict in particular from near-obscurity as a supporting player to A-list overnight. Martin had been around for 10+ years as a jobbing actor and thanks to The Office was already a 'name' when he signed on to Sherlock. During the first season, I assumed Ben was a recent drama school grad and it surprised the heck out of me that he was nearly a decade older than I thought. I find both of our leads are looking their ages these days, and then some. Postponing a reunion for 10 or 15 years past the last episode is risky. This isn't Midsomer Murders, after all. Most franchises can't string viewers along for two decades, but Moftiss is willing to try. More Sherlock is a dream that's hard to let go of, but I don't think it's going to happen. If it does, it will catch all of our team on their way down rather than up, methinks, as they will all be getting long in the tooth by then. TV is a very precarious and capricious business. Not to mention such an extended break is gambling that everyone concerned will remain healthy and able to work so far into the future. Again, my opinion, but I don't find that either Ben nor Martin is wearing well, post-Sherlock. They are still famous and in-demand, I guess, but I am profoundly under-impressed by their respective more recent projects. It pays the bills but no matter what else they do, they are going to be defined by their Sherlock personas, and for Martin, The Hobbit. Ben was really outstanding in some stuff like The Imitation Game and Patrick Melrose . . other stuff like Doctor Strange is strictly commercial. Martin was fantastic in his one season of Fargo, but he's fallen entirely off my radar since the Baker Street partnership broke up. They have both been busily employed, I realize . . .just in nothing that I care to see. Circa 2012, I was an ultimate fan girl and completely obsessed. The show singlehandedly reignited my long-dormant thirst for Conan Doyle's original stories and the whole alternative world of pastiche. After S3 and 4, and the long, long Hiatus . .I feel rather like the jaded survivor of a love affair turned sour and I just honestly don't care that much any more. It stopped being fun for me when it became so glaringly obvious that it was no longer a labor of love and joy for the creative team involved. Sherlock's world turned very, very dark and I feel like the original spirit which had made the early going such a joy had been violated and corrupted into something else, much more nihilistic and cynical. Even though SH is a crime fighter who deals with the worst of humanity sometimes, he was never nihilistic, save once, maybe--The Adventure of the Cardboard Box--but that was very much an anomoly.
  10. Of course we here in this community are probably more invested than the general public in seeing more Sherlock. I think we've got to be realistic, though. The last episode aired in January 2017, which means that the script and production were completed nearly 5 years ago, or more, if we allow 6 months for pre- and post-production before anything reaches our screens. The show was the hottest commodity in television for a few years there, but 5 years is a lifetime in show business. It's true that nobody involved has definitively slammed the door on more Sherlock, which is probably a wise move . . . Who knows, all the stars might align and it might happen. Everyone might agree to come back and Mofftiss might come up with a decent few scripts of the quality of the first two seasons, and the timing might work perfectly to allow everyone to participate. I rate this possibility as somewhat greater than an asteroid hitting the Earth, but light years away from being 'a sure thing'. Everybody is being somewhat diplomatic in saying that they haven't ruled out the possibility--with the proviso that there'd have to be outstanding inspiration to strike and quality scripts. Based on the final efforts in S4, I think the probability of that kind of quality happening at this juncture, 5 years on from the spectacularly disappointing last season is remote. Hope springs eternal, and miracles can happen, but . . in the absence of a miracle, I think The Final Problem was the final word on the series. In my opinion, the writers peaked far too early by putting 'The Big Three' as they put it all in the second season. They shot themselves in the foot by staging Sherlock's Death so soon, because trying to top that for Wow factor while having to fill out two more seasons plus a full-length Christmas feature led to their worst narrative excesses . . .Assassin Mary & Euros took the show from a crackerjack affectionate homage to Conan Doyle into a bizarro Dr. Who/Spooks/Shutter Island/James Bond hybrid. Feh. They should have done a few more of the 'SH and JW investigate crimes' thing prior to The Reichenbach Fall. I'd have written more of those cases for S2 and established the bachelor partnership more prior to introducing Mary and 'killing' Sherlock. In The Sign of Three, which is my top episode of S3, there is that entertaining montage of snippets from 'past cases' during Sherlock's wedding speech. What a treat that would have been if we had seen some of those cases fleshed out into full episodes . . not least of all the case where Dr. Watson meets his Mary. Surprised Mofftiss let that one go by. Somehow jamming in one scene with a dog and a midget feels like a gyp. And we never do actually get the full backstory of how John and Mary met. Ostensibly at his NHS clinic where she was a nurse. Except now we know she's not a nurse. So--how did she turn up there, at John's surgery? Not random, surely. Were they intending John to be a target, post-Reichenbach? Moffat's largest failing as a writer is the number of threads he is content to let drop in favor of his big splashy Bangs! Me, I prefer the smaller threads that display the humanity of these characters rather than the superpowers. Now Mofftiss is saying that after the spectacular denouement of "the early years", they propose to embark on the 'sedate middle aged years' of the duo with smaller cases of 'crime investigation' and think that those will captivate the audience whom they have now accustomed to massive explosions and devious supervillain psychopaths in every episode? Highly doubtful. They shot their bolt too early and I think we've seen all the inspiration we are going to get. I'd be happy to be wrong, but only if subsequent efforts are more like S2 and not like S4. If all concerned know inside that the time for 'exceptional scripts' has long gone, they have elegantly side-stepped actually committing themselves to doing any more while at the same time keeping that spark of hope alive in the fans. I think it's time to read between the lines and admit that the project had come to its natural conclusion in 2017. I really don't get the vibe that anyone is keen on doing more, but of course, if there's potentially money to be made in another series, it'd be foolhardy to slam that door closed publicly. This is only my opinion, but the more time passes without a firm plan for a reunion, the less likely it gets. They struck while that iron was hot, but it's been cool for some time. Nature of the business. I figured if we didn't hear something definite within 2 years, we weren't likely to. Then of course, Covid. Will we see Benedict and Martin as men of 60 reconvening for a riff on 'His Last Bow', notwithstanding that they'd have to call it something else as they've already used that title? It's charming to hope so but I'm not holding my breath.
  11. Moffat is a showman, and likes to keep all his potential slices of bread buttered . . so he's been very canny, along with his writing partner to avoid stating outright that there won't be any more Sherlock. The cast is no doubt contractually obligated by NDA to tread carefully around the topic. I feel like this is just stringing along the fans and it would be more merciful just to rip the plaster off in one go and admit that they are done. The show was incredibly logistically challenging, but it would come together if the team *REALLY* wanted it. Schedules would be cleared. The BBC is rather capricious and has been known to often cancel hit shows mid-stream without good reason . . but Sherlock was such a phenomenon and ratings monster for the network, I don't think the holdup in on the BBC side. Even during production, it was pretty clear, except to obsessive stans crafting 'FreeBatch' fan videos, that the two men had widely divergent personal lives off-set and weren't in each others' pockets outside of work. But they spent SO much intensive time together during production . . 12-14 hour days, on location in a drafty airplane hanger in Wales . . that has to create a bond. And they seemed genuinely matey and in synch as a working team . . Much like Holmes and Watson, in fact. They had fine-tuned their double act on the press junket and genuinely seemed to enjoy each others' company. It felt like a relationship based on solid professional respect and mutual compatibility. I'm sure the experience was very draining and stressful, and it's natural to get snappy and irritated even with our close associates with too much familiarity, too much pressure, not enough breaks to relax. Because when they weren't on the Sherlock set, they both were burning the candle at both ends due to insane busyness on other projects. I think overwork got the best of their friendship in the end . . that and personal differences in how they approached their fame. I still feel really bad about the Martin - Amanda split, and that may have played into the interpersonal distance that seemed to exist between the co-stars after that. It had to have been incredibly difficult for Martin and Amanda to carry on working together as if nothing had happened, but what was happening to John and Mary onscreen eerily echoed the disintegration of the real couple's relationship. As friend and colleague to both parties, Benedict had to have felt caught in the middle somewhat. I hope everyone has moved on to a better place since then, but Martin Freeman strikes me now as a quite jumped-up, spiky, angry personality who comes across as not an easy person to live with. The John Watson of S4 is closer to the real Martin Freeman than we'd seen previously, I reckon. It also seems quite plausible that while the duo were playing Sherlock and John, they were also playing a version of 'Benedict' and 'Martin' for publicity purposes. Actors act; that's what they do. Lion's Mane and Blanched Soldier are decidedly second-tier Conan Doyle, but if they were put together, they could make a movie. Moftiss got an entire feature out of one reference to 'Rigoletti and his abominable wife', so these two stories would have enough to work from. Both are written after Sherlock's retirement to the Downs, so Ben is a bit young yet . . though not by much. He'll be 45 on his next birthday and SH moved to Sussex when he was only 50. The absence of Dr. Watson in these stories is easily explained away by Sherl's retirement to the seaside. In the second tale, Sherl references Watson's second marriage (in crabby terms). The best thing about both stories isn't the plots as such--it's the novelty of hearing Sherlock's voice on the page, speaking for himself. He's a better story teller than the reader might have expected, being primed for a dry monograph on criminal investigation. After having spent 20 years ridiculing Watson for pandering to the ignorant public with his romanticized fictions of their cases together, SH admits that writing a case account for an audience of non-scientists is a lot harder than Watson made it look . . a rare burst of self-deprecation from our hero. Benedict could provide very entertaining voiceovers for Sherlock's inner thoughts on these cases. A resurrection of the partnership is profoundly to be wished, but I don't think Martin Freeman would be amenable to that. So the only alternative for a Christmas special is to have Sherlock by himself. But it could be an entertaining reunion if some of the London circle--Molly, Lestrade, Mrs. Hudson--all converged on Sherl's cottage for 'the holidays'. Even Anderson would show up, drawn to the Sussex coast by reports of a giant murderous jellyfish.
  12. Herl, Do you remember the title of the last one you read? I skipped a couple early on (O Jerusalem and Kingdom Hall) because try as I might, I could not force myself to get through those. I really tried, on multiple occasions, but I gave up and went on to the next books. I have read them all except for the most recent one, and some were a real trial. The two that concerned Sherlock's druggie son 'bout did my head in, but I went grimly to the last page in both cases. I liked Dreaming Spies, on account of its setting in Japan, and The Pirate King, (the Gilbert and Sullivan one). Russell is a trial of endurance .. at her grating worst in Island of the Mad. Like most of these, an intriguing premise full of potential is ruined by lackluster execution and Russell being so full of herself and perfect in every way. I have not wholeheartedly enjoyed her as a character since #4, The Moor. If she'd knocked off after that book, I would have called the quartet an unqualified success.
  13. @Herl, Are you coping all right with the disappointment? I was pretty convinced at the end of the final episode of S4 that we had reached the end of the road with this iteration of Holmes and Watson. It seems that all the principals had become quite bored, irritated even, by the project by series' end, and at least in the case of Cumberbatch and Freeman, global fame and its attendant demands was the end of their professional and personal friendship. Presumably Mssrs. Moffat and Gatiss are still as tight as ever, and contining to crank out other projects (Dracula) that I have absolutely no interest in seeing. I did enjoy Jekyll with James Nesbitt, though. Not having been a Doctor Who fan before or since, Jekyll was actually my first introduction to Moffat World. I met Mr. Gatiss first as an actor . . Marple and Midsomer Murders jump to mind. Interestingly, in both programs he portrayed a tormented vicar with a secret. It seems that Mr. Freeman and Mr. Cumberbatch are not keen to work together again in any capacity. Both have gone on to some post-Sherlock success individually, though it's safe to say that for me at least, the fairy dust that was sprinkled over their collaboration as the flatmates of Baker Street has eluded them both on their solo projects. I just really would struggle to care less about their respective Marvel Universe projects, for example. I wonder if, in years to come, after whatever animosity or disillusionment they are feeling over that era in their working lives passes, they will realize just how very special that show, particularly the first six episodes, were. Lightning in a bottle, really. At the time, it may have just felt like a grinding, exhausting pressure-filled job that they were glad to see the back of, but through it they both have achieved small-screen immortality. None of their other pop-culture transient projects will ever compare, and though each man was appealing in separate projects before global fame came calling, and inhabited Dr. Watson and Sherlock Holmes like they were bespoke suits of clothes . . I can't really say in all honesty that I have found either of them very appealing since, either as other characters or themselves. What's happened is, the fairy dust has all blown away and I have fallen out of love with the both of them. It's too bad, but that's what's happened. What might perk me up a bit is if we could have a Christmas special featuring Benedict on his own in the two Sherlock narrated adventures . . The Lion's Mane and The Blanched Soldier. Given that we are only likely to pin him down for one outing every 5 years or so, I'm thinking that these two stories could be combined into one 90-minute teleplay. On their own, neither is particularly strong enough for a stand-alone treatment of that length, but each might rate 30 minutes of screen time. Frankly, it took Sherlock far too long to determine that a jellyfish was the culprit in the first story. The other 30 minutes could be filled out by some domestic comedy chez Sussex as Sherl commences with his study of bee husbandry and tries to evade encounters with Janine, who has the cottage adjacent to his near Beachy Head. She only comes down at the weekend, so it's manageable.
  14. I noticed that immediately, too. Shall we surmise that Mr. Fry is also a huge fan of The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes? It's quite a cosy little mutual Holmes admiration society they've got going. When he was inducted into the Sherlock Holmes Society of London, Mr. Fry was still a teenager and the youngest-ever inductee into that august body. Here's Simon Callow reviewing SF's audible version of the Sherlock Holmes canon. This one might be one I've got to have. Listening to Mr. Fry read Sherlock Holmes has got to be preferable to wading through the approximately 50-pound hardcover annotated version assembled by Leslie Klinger, a handsome item that continues to collect dust on my shelf owing to its gargantuan weight. I'm saving it to swing at some future intruder's head as a weapon, provided I can actually lift the thing when it's required. Normally I am not an audiobook fan, but for the right voice reading material perfectly matched to it, I make exceptions. If I could get Charleton Heston, the voice of Moses, reading me the Bible, that'd be another win. https://www.johnhwatsonsociety.com/stephen-fry-sherlock-holmes/
  15. Hi, Herl, David M. has made it his life's work (when he isn't civil engineering) to assemble all the threads of what he calls The Great Holmes Tapestry, in which every 'new'/extra-canonical adventure of Holmes & Watson, and the related characters is integrated into the chronological timeline of Holmes's life (1854 - 1957). He does not entertain any stories that have Sherlock Holmes battling aliens from Mars or time-traveling, etc. but tries to, insofar as one can with a fictional character, keep it real, and in the spirit of Conan Doyle. He is on record as preferring Basil Rathbone's Holmes to all others, and so many of Rathbone's Holmes movies are set during the WWII years and other alternative settings. According to Mr. W.S. Baring Gould, Holmes was alive during the Second War years, albeit in greatly advanced years. One of my very favorite Holmes pastiches ever is John Lescroart's Dunkirk (found In the Company of Sherlock Holmes), in which a mysterious, superannuated yet very vigorous gentleman, name of Sigerson, pitches in with the evacuation efforts of Operation Dynamo on the Sussex coast in May 1940. Young Sherlock Holmes presented a thorny obstacle, having Holmes & Watson meet as schoolboys in the 1870s. The jarring anomaly threatened the time-space continuum and led to several sleepless nights of dorm-pacing in his residence hall before David decided that young Watson, played by Alan Cox, son of Scots acting great Brian, 14 years old here, was actually Holmes's younger cousin, Verner, who would one day purchase Dr. Watson's medical practice in Kensington. The integrity of the tapestry must be preserved. For myself, I could enjoy YSH as an alternative scenario depicting what might have happened, had our famous duo met 10 years earlier than commonly accepted, not that they *did*, necessarily. He told me that he is in fact working on his bibliography of the Tapestry, possibly for a future book; however this is a lifelong labor that will never be finished, and it will be outdated as soon as it's published because of all the hundreds of Sherlock stories and novels and film treatments that come out annually. He gets contacted all the time by fellow enthusiasts who beg him to release what he's got, but he always demurs. If he can ever get away from the civil service with the Tennessee Department of Transportation or whatever, he is poised to be the Baring-Gould of our generation. He has, as you know, vehemently rejected Laurie R. King's Mary Russell series as fraudulent and having no place in the Tapestry, apart from the first book, which he liked . . even though King's insistence on getting her dates wrong angers him. She took a decade away from Holmes's age to make him slightly less implausible as husband material for a 21 year old, but when the two meet, Holmes is in fact 64 years old to Russell's 15. So that makes him nearly 70 at 'the wedding'. King says SH was 50 at the first meeting and seems to be frozen in time to no more than 60 subsequently, while Russell keeps having birthdays. We can all agree that where SH is concerned, age is immaterial, but having Russell be Sherlock's wife was always an inherently flawed premise.
  16. I can recommend Lyndsay Faye, who has written several stories on your list. "The Whole Art of Detection" is a great short-story collection. Ms. Faye was inducted into the Baker Street Irregulars on the strength of it. https://www.thriftbooks.com/w/the-whole-art-of-detection-lost-mysteries-of-sherlock-holmes_lyndsay-faye/11637886/#edition=15625545&idiq=31812674
  17. I liked Monstrous Regiment (ie, 'the University years'), and it was pretty interesting to read about the suffragette movement in Britain. Some people didn't like A Letter of Mary, but I thought it was pretty good. #4 is 'The Moor', in which the Hound case is revisited 30 years later. SH is still fondly remembered as a legend amongst the moorfolk as 'Snoop Sherlock'. Numbers 5 and 6 were virtually unreadable to me owing to the obsessive deep dive into esoteric medieval Jewish theology and general desert-ratness. I honestly honestly tried, and gave up. #7 'Locked Rooms' was the weakest one yet. With 'The Game', #8, she rallied a bit . . .we went to India and met Rudyard Kipling's Kim. Liked that bit; unfortunately, this book became the pinnacle of Russell's Mary Sue-ness as she singlehandedly busts Sherlock out of a fortified medieval prison after mastering three esoteric dialects on the boat ride over. Oh, and sword-throwing . . with flames. Seriously, 5-10 lessons and she's a professional carny-of-all-trades. The author's militant feminist agenda to replace Sherlock Holmes with his 23-year-old wife was no longer disguised at all. Then the series started to get seriously flabby, meandering and perfunctory as to character development or participation of Holmes. King's version of SH's child by Irene Adler is introduced . . a tragic drug addict/artiste named Damien. Russell basically teaches herself how to fly a biplane so she can do some daring aerial rescue missions. The events of these two books were verging on laughable but I plowed through them. Great titles; sucky plots, and our heroine is morphing into a Marvel superhero/Jason Bourne, femme version in Edwardian clothing with every passing chapter. SH nominal. A bright spot in this later batch for me was 'The Pirate King', which finds our intrepid heroine for once doing something which isn't outlandishly Mary Sue for a 24-year-old young woman with some clerical skills--working as a PA for a film company going on location to exotic climes to shoot a movie of 'The Pirates of Penzance'. Sherlock is largely absent again but Russell is more human-sized and tolerable. King should have become a travelogue writer because her research into locations, cultures and historical context is first-rate. It's characters, plotting and dialog that comes harder for her. Most of the later books are completely forgettable. 'The Murder of Mary Russell' (#17, I think) features an extended backstory of the good landlady of Baker Street. I strenuously disagree with Laurie's alternative version of Mrs. Hudson and how she became Sherlock's landlady, but it was innovative. If you accept that Mrs. Hudson grew up like one of Sherlock's street urchins and was groomed for a life of crime. Or that her name was 'Clarissa'. (I stick with convention and call her 'Martha'.) The newest installment is almost a year old and I've had no interest in looking it up. I can recommend the two short stories, 'Beekeeping for Beginners' ('The Beekeeper's Apprentice' from SH's point of view. Very illuminating. A rather surprising and poignant reason that he was on the Downs that day to be tripped over by an androgynous young person with her face in a book) and 'The Marriage of Mary Russell' (King provides us with the madcap story of the nuptials, which occurred between Books 2 and 3 and which she had entirely skipped over before.) If Mary Russell had been confined to a series of short-story adventures, I'm sure I would have liked her a lot more. She is at her best in small doses. Good humor rather than deadly earnestness is a big point . . also, I think, is Enola's heritage. She is a Holmes, so if she *were* a bit bad-tempered, autocratic or know-it-all, she'd come by it honestly, in her DNA. We forgive Sherlock a lot of interpersonal failures and arrogance because of who he is, and who he is is, and was always intended to be, a very singular person, the only one of his kind in the world. We can extend the same goodwill towards his siblings and accept that the Holmeses are just that exceptional of a family. They have been blessed by the gods with exceptional intellects and skills. Lightning may not strike the same place twice usually, but in the case of the Holmeses, we can accept that it has struck into one exceptional family. Nature/nurture was both in their favor. Then along comes Russell, who is an orphan (who, in echoes of Jean Grey, actually herself caused the automobile accident that killed her parents and her younger brother and who to my mind does not exhibit sufficient humbling guilt about this) whose parents were academics and above-average bright but not to the the savantic level of the Holmes boys. They were loving and encouraging, and a culturally and religiously mixed marriage . . not a 'typical' childhood exactly, but much more normal of a family life than the Holmeses. King wants us to accept without a thought that the universe conspired to create a mind equal and even superior to, the Holmes boys across barriers of time, nationality, religion and gender, and 60 years after Sherlock was born, another would appear, as a pseudo Messianic/Arthurian figure to take over, and do better that role which Sherlock Holmes has been filling so singularly since 1887? I don't think so. My objection to Russell has never been that she's a teenage girl/young 20something, or that she takes center stage from Sherlock Holmes even--my objection is that the way her author writes her, she renders Sherlock Holmes completely surplus to requirements. Watsons are not as inherently as interesting or dynamic as Sherlocks, but the reason we love Dr. Watson is that he is our stand-in in these stories--he's our eyes and ears and feet; the stories are told in his voice and it is through him that we experience Sherlock Holmes. SH by himself unadulterated is not always so audience-friendly, but Dr. Watson not only humanizes his friend, but through his eyes we come to love and admire Sherlock the same way that his biographer does. We see the attraction of two opposites into a lifelong bond. Russell barely seems to acknowledge half the time that Sherlock is in her life, and when he is, it's like they mutually tolerate each other rather than anything more substantial. I do not object in principle to the idea of SH marrying and having a companion for his last years, but Russell is not the right person. For me, as for ACD's SH, there was only ever one Woman who fired his jets, and her name was Irene. If *I* were writing this series, I would not have made Russell Sherlock's romantic interest. I would have written her as Sherlock's daughter by Irene Adler, who comes to live with her father after the death of her mother. Russell was born in 1900, which is 8 or 9 years later than the proposed liaison that produced Nero Wolfe circa 1891, but I can roll with it. Isn't the idea of Russell as Sherlock's flesh and blood vastly more appealing? That would make her a much more natural outlet for all of Sherlock's mentor energy and would certainly excuse many of Russell's less winning interpersonal characteristics if she is a chip off the old block. Her prodigiousness would then have an organic explanation, which King's more 'Random Big Bang just accept that the universe created someone even more brilliant than Sherlock Holmes because I said so' gambit. There were a lot of comedic opportunities wasted by not having Sherlock take on raising a teenage daughter at his age whilst trying to teach her 'the family business'.
  18. I remember you suggesting Mr. Hyde as a perfect mature Sherlock for the still-tabled Mary Russell TV series. I concur. The problem of who would be a Russell that didn't make me want to hurl things at the TV continues, however. I don't know what happened to that project. It was getting quite a bit of buzz 4-5 years ago and seems to have died on the vine. The time window is closing for Mr. Hyde to play the still-vigorous young(ish) senior of the books. We can accept a Holmes as a vigorous mid-60s . .70 at a push. Any much longer and it might feel more like Sir Ian McKellen's take on the character. This is a good article from an L.A. Times writer who wonders why Enola Holmes got a big-budget movie before Mary Russell did. She's more of a fangirl for Russell than I am. I really liked the first four novels in the series, and a few of the later ones, but for the most part, Laurie King did not sustain the promise she displayed earlier on and Russell became a thoroughly grating unlikeable character, full of herself to an unbelievable degree. The most recent installment was published last summer. Once again, King takes her narcissistic alter ego thorough the playgrounds of the wealthy elite of the Jazz Age. Last time around, it was Capri; this time, Monaco, so that Russell can hobnob with the Fitzgeralds. Sherlock Holmes has become entirely coincidental, and that's what's wrong with King's series. SH has become more and more tangential to proceedings since Book #5, but she's not even bothering to hide that anymore. SH is about as often seen in this series as Mycroft is, which is to say--not bloody much. King can easily go on for 200 pages before SH even makes an appearance, and has. A movie of 'Beekeeper's Apprentice' would tap into the Enola Holmes audience, but it seems like they won't be striking while that iron is hot. https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/story/2020-07-24/sherlock-holmes-enola-movie-mary-russell-covid Hardcore purists like David Marcum squawked that SH could never on any account be *married*, especially to someone not Adler. The problem, which later became unsupportable from my point of view is that LRK was never very interested in Sherlock Holmes. He was a useful prop for her premise but she has always felt that she could do ACD one better and create a more superior Holmes . . this one a young female half Jewish/half American bluestocking who knows everything there is to know at 25 years of age (was well on her way to it at 15) and while the old boy can still pick a lock quicker than she can, in all other things, the disciple has overtaken the master. If King had made Russell more of a Watson, more humble and admiring, not such an insufferable know-it-all, she certainly would have worn better on me. Who knows how many more of these King proposes to crank out, but if she'd made Russell a cleverer Watson without the bum leg, perhaps the time would have come in the last book when SH would pass off the baton and tell his protege that having absorbed everything he could teach, she was now ready to take over as 'the' consulting detective. Russell's arrogance tanked the character and makes me think that such a superior attitude is shared by her creator. Puts me right off. I guess Laurie's old enough to be so arrogant in her own knowledge, but Russell isn't.
  19. Just watched Silver Blaze on YouTube. Christopher Plummer and Thorley Walters made a good team, though Walters is decidedly a bit in the Nigel Bruce school of slowness. ("By Jove!") Here we see CP doing a more traditional take on SH than we got in Murder by Degree some 7 years later. Watching CP crawl around on his knees in the mud using his stick to propel himself along was great fun. I am wondering how they got a star of CP's stature to agree to appear in a 30-minute short film. He'd been the Captain 11 years earlier, after all and should have been on the A-list. I wonder if he thought at this time that he wanted to do more Sherlock movies after this.
  20. Hi, Herl, I didn't know Chris P. was in Silver Blaze. I will have to see if I can find it. Was that a full-length feature? I enjoyed that story very much; one of the lighter-hearted ones, but I'm trying to imagine getting 90 minutes or 2 hours out of that plot. This past weekend, I rewatched "The Sound of Music" which I had not seen for maybe 10 years. We used to watch it every year growing up when it aired at Easter time on TV. Maybe because I was viewing it for the first time on my high-def flatscreen TV, but the mountain scenery really popped. I watched the opening credits sequence several times--gorgeous. Chris was 35 and Julie was 26 years old at the time. CP would refer to the film that made him an international superstar as 'The Sound of Mucus'. It may be a little sappy, but it is nostalgic for me--the sounds of my childhood. The movie soundtrack album was one of the first LPs I got on my own. RIP, Captain. One of the commentators on YouTube calls Maria's first encounter with the Captain as 'Hufflepuff meets Slytherin" and now I can't un-see it!
  21. https://thenorwoodbuilder.tumblr.com/post/43348143379/about-john-three-continents-watson-but-which This article was posted 8 years ago, but makes a compelling argument for Dr. Watson's Three Continents of womankind being Europe (obviously . . England inclusive, but also the Continent, chiefly France, possibly Italy, too.), Africa and Asia (India & Afghanistan). It was very likely that on Watson's long journey to join his regiment en route to the Battle of Maiwand, that he would have travelled through the Suez Canal to Bombay, or possibly long way 'round the horn of Africa to arrive at the same destination. In that passage about his experience of women on 'many nations and three continents' not showing him any woman to compare with his beloved Mary, who he was meeting for the first time, he is engaging in a touch of male braggadocio, perhaps. He's been struck by the thunderbolt--to be so instantly captivated by the sweet young governess who is Sherlock Holmes's latest client, but he slips that bit about being an homme du monde in at the top just to assure the readers that he, John H. Watson, M.D., is no naif--he's a world-travelled soldier, and he's known his share of womenkind--enough to know that his future bride here is something special. He's not 'settling' for this woman who literally has presented herself on his doorstep-it's kismet! The effect of that phrase is to make him sound quite rakish, but he could easily have been referring to benign interactions with shopkeepers, officers' wives, family friends and so on. I can well imagine the peer pressure that JW would have faced, as a Victorian gentleman of the professions and an *Army* man, to indulge, with his mates, in visiting houses where ladies entertained for money. Before he joined the Army, he was a university and medical student. Opportunities certainly would have been there, and for someone of John's class, it would have been regarded as both a rite of passage and a gentleman's privilege. For the Victorian gent of some means, visiting a madam's establishment was practically socially acceptable--for the men--or at least somewhat indulged by the police. The thriving sex trade is one of the paradoxes of the rigidly prim (on the surface) Victorian age. This is not to say that Dr. Watson indulged himself, but he may have been at least tempted to, or cajoled by friends to join them on their debauches. I prefer to think of Dr. Watson's adventures with women of three continents in a more romantic vein . . though as a medical student and then an Army recruit, his social interactions with ladies would have been fairly restricted. Our doctor is a Romantic soul and I can easily see him forming emotional attachments with local women he may have met socially at mixers for troops, or nurses. He may have been stationed for a stay of months' duration somewhere enroute to Afghanistan, enough time to get to know a local lass or two quite well. On account of this 'three continents' tease, it has been a popular convention among pastichers to give Watson a pre-Mary wife, possibly an American, circa the time of the Jefferson Hope case. That timeline doesn't really work, unless the marriage was so brief the bride died practically at the beginning of the marriage. From the time John moves into Baker Street and gets embroiled in the matter of the Study in Scarlet with his new flatmate to Miss Morstan presenting herself at their door, it's only about 18 months, and during that time, John is still recovering from his war wounds. There was not time for him to assume a wife before shipping out to Afghanistan, either, and he arrives back in London very much a bachelor. So personally I think that Mary was John's first wife, and then he later remarries, much later, in 1902, to the second Mrs. Watson. She can't have been the great love of his life because she doesn't even rate a name; she's a companion for his last years and I guess she's OK with that; at any rate Conan Doyle does not find John's remarriage sufficiently interesting to elaborate upon. Mary Morstan is and remained the One Woman for John. He loved her deeply and truly. But is it realistic to think that John came to his marital bed a virgin? An Army veteran and university/medical man who was by then past 30 years of age? That would indeed be notable if true. I tend to think there were at least one or two girlfriends in John's life before Mary who foiled their chaperones and gave themselves to the exceedingly charming Dr. Watson. But a womanizer? No. John enjoyed the company of women, but generally with clothes on.
  22. Continuing the OT elegy on winter weather . . .any of you Midwestern gals familiar with Charlie Berens? The pride of Manitowac, Wisconsin is one of my pandemic YouTube discoveries. Here he partners with fellow vlogger and sometime collaborator Dude Dad (Taylor) for one of his funniest videos ever. Head on over to Charlie's channel for more hilarity, including 'Midwestern Christmas Party', 'How to Make a Bloody Mary' and 'Midwest Translator' among others.
  23. I was born in Michigan and raised in NE Ohio not far from Cleveland. Currently I reside about 45 minutes from Ft. Wayne. In my experience the weather all over the state can be changeable, sometimes by a lot, but I suppose Lake Erie does have a somewhat moderating effect. For about three years, I lived right on Lake Erie, but the massive snow dumps of 'the snow belt' did not occur directly at the lake shore but 20-30 miles inland. My sister is about a half hour from the lakeshore and they get absolutely buried every season.
  24. I'm sure buildings that can be retrofitted are considering this possibility since a lot of the Covid restrictions will be the 'new normal' from now on. Those businesses that could not adapt their services to encompass takeout and curbside failed in large numbers in the last year. Our patron foot traffic into the building is about 10% of 'normal' after nearly a year, but our statistics look a lot healthier than we had anticipated, since so many people are taking advantage of curbside pickup and all our digital offerings. If we have 200 kids watch a FB Live story time (that is an average number), we can count those numbers as a program. Previously, those numbers would only be seen at an in-person event once a year during our Summer Reading kickoff launch. Now we get those numbers weekly. A normal story time in the building is 20 kids, plus parents. So that's a win. But the interpersonal aspect of our service is severely curtailed . . but we are open and available to the public for everything except extended hanging out time in the building. They are *choosing* not to visit the physical plant, even though not a single case of the virus happened here. Everyone who has gotten ill has gotten it from school/daycare kids or a spouse working elsewhere. We have a one-way drive and book drop boxes already, but there'd be no way to install a drive-thru lane next to the building without removing our front sidewalk and ramp to the second floor which is enclosed in glass. The least cost-prohibitive option would be to build a little sentry hut next to the main doors where a staff member could be positioned with a space heater and they could pass books through the car in one designated space. Though a core group of families prefer curbside and never use anything else, the numbers have dropped way off since the building reopened, so our current system is working OK, except during major weather events.
  25. I'm in Ohio, and our governor was one of the first nationwide to institute a state-wide lockdown in the spring. Our area schools closed on March 13th or something like that. We carried on working for that following week, but on the Friday about an hour before the end of the day, our director called a staff meeting and told us all to go home for the indefinite future. We were given an hour to finish things up and collect stuff to take home. In all we were home for 6 weeks. Then we did six more weeks of PT curbside only service. Since June 22nd, we've been back to work full-time. Our operating hours have been shortened by 3 hours, so we don't have a night shift any more, but we still get our 8 hours. Our director teased possibly closing again when things got worse, but he never did--though about half the staff has either been through quarantine or had Covid by now. We've had some losses, relatives of colleagues, but we carry on. We had a snow day this week, but we are here! Back in the spring I thought, if I got laid off, I could become a contact tracer . . that never became necessary. It would make a change to help run a vaccine clinic, but I doubt this will ever be a thing here. We are directly next door to one of our two major hospital systems and the giant medical campus takes up most of the two blocks behind us. So there will be lots of sites.
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