Friday Sherlock Links Compendium (December 17 - December 23, 2011)
The Baker Street Journal, Autumn 2011 (Vol 61, No. 3), arrived in my mailbox last Friday. Once again, the quality of paper/coloring continues to improve with each new issue. A striking use of Sidney Paget’s illustration from BLUE of honest Petersen the commissionaire presenting Holmes and Watson with what Mrs. Petersen found in the goose’s crop adorns the cover. Contents of this issue include: Holmes the art historian who could-have-been, an interview with the creators of The Young Sherlock Holmes Adventures, Holmes religious proclivities, along with two articles on “The Blue Carbuncle” and a piece speculating on what type of car Holmes might have owned. Another quality issue. If you are not currently receiving the BSJ in your mailbox regularly, I strongly suggest you SUBSCRIBE!
[“See here, sir! See what my wife found in its crop!”]
Baker Street Beat relates his recent experience of reading A Study in Sherlock, not the excellent Klinger/King edited volume of stories inspired by Holmes, but the equally excellent (or so I would imagine) “24-page guide to the Arthur Conan Doyle Collection at Portsmouth, England, a marvelous assemblage of books, posters, photos, and other materials collected by the late Richard Lancelyn Green.” I’ve posted before about the bequeathment of RLG’s Sherlockiana/Doylean collection to the Portsmouth Library and I was just discussing with a fellow Sherlockian what it would take to spend a few weeks in Portsmouth digesting parts of ACD Collection, but I have yet to get my hands on this delightful little catalog. Luckily for Mr. Andriacco, he has a man on the ‘inside’ (i.e. England) not to mention that, according to his post, he could be visiting Portsmouth this Spring when he’s traveling in the UK. He ends the post asking “what is your favorite Sherlock Holmes collection or museum?” I have yet to physically visit any of the main Sherlockian research centers in the world, but I check-in regularly to the University of Minnesota’s Sherlock Holmes Collection (via their U Media Archive), the majority of which was donated by legendary Sherlockian scholar Mr. John Bennett Shaw.
[A shot from ‘A Study in Sherlock: Uncovering the Arthur Conan Doyle Collection’ - I apologize for the weird copyright watermark but I couldn’t find a ‘clean’ version. Thanks to the Portsmouth Library for being awesome enough to house RLG’s Sherlockian/Doylean collection.]
The Sherlockian E-Times delivers up their December 2011 issue packed full of Sherlockiana goodies. The Senters have been putting out The Sherlockian Times (later renamed “E-Times” after they switched to a digital format) for a very long time and I’m in full support of their various projects. Check out their extra special deals with MX Publisning.
[“The Sherlockian E-Times will contain Sherlockian news, announcements, features and will also call attention to a subset of new Sherlockian products which might be of interest to you…”]
KUER 90.1 FM, reporting live from “the country of saints” (aka University of Utah), interviews scholar and gentleman Leslie S. Klinger, the outcome of which is a 50 minute audio recording that acts both as an excellent introduction to contemporary Sherlockian studies as well as the important role Mr. Klinger plays within the Sherlockian world. I suggest setting aside an uninterrupted hour for yourself, crack open a decent bottle of wine (or a syrette of your personal favorite 7% solution), put your feet up and give this interview a serious listen. I was extremely pleased to hear Mr. Klinger reveal that his favorite Holmes story is, appropriately enough for the season, “The Blue Carbuncle”.
[Leslie S. Klinger: the man, the myth the legend!]
BBC reports that a “collection of items belonging to [Dr. Joseph Bell] who inspired the story of Sherlock Holmes is to go on display” at the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh in Scotland.” Items donated by the family of Bell include a “letter from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle confirming he based the detective on [Bell]…To quote from the letter: “”It is most certainly to you that I owe Sherlock Holmes”” writes a grateful (we assume) ACD. It will be interesting to see what can be deduced about the man, the doctor and the paragon simply from the contents of the exhibit.
[Dr. Bell’s possessions are on display at the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh in Scotland.]
MX Publishing posted their top selling Kindle edition books in both the UK and USA. Interestingly enough, Kieran McMullen’s Sherlock Holmes and The Irish Rebels is #1 in the US and didn’t even make the top 10 in the UK. Also, why does Joe Revill’s masterful A Case of Witchcraft only clock in at #7 in the UK and not even crack the top 10 in the US?! Revill wrote a masterful pastiche, perfect for X-Mas reading. Finally, how/why did Charlotte Walters’ Barefoot on Baker Street not even appear in either the US or the UK’s top 10!? A travesty of literary justice. When I get around to posting my (finely-tuned) 2011 Top 10, expect to see both Revill and Walters in my ‘Best of 2011’ list.
[A Case of Witchcraft and Barefoot on Baker Street should be on everyone’s ‘Best of 2011’ list or on their ‘To Read’ list - get with it friends and countrymen! The book that seemed to dominate both the US and UK list is The Lost Stories of Sherlock Holmes by Tony Reynolds.]
NPR reviews (words and sound) The Dead Witness: A Connoisseur’s Collection of Victorian Detective Stories, edited by Michael Sims, and featuring 608 pages of both remembered and totally forgotten Victorian detectives. Whenever a new ‘lost Victorian detectives’ anthology comes out I can’t help but compare the selections to The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes (both the Hugh Greene and the Alan K. Russell book anthologies) as well as the BAFTA award-winning TV series (1971 and 1973) of the same name from Thames TV. In addition to The Dead Witness, Sims also edited The Penguin Book of Victorian Women in Crime: Forgotten Cops and Private Eyes from the Time of Sherlock Holmes this year.
[A good looking cover for what sounds like a solid line-up of classic and unknown classic Victorian/Edwardian detectives.]
Alistair Duncan’s Sherlockian Blog posted about receiving the newest issue of The Sherlock Holmes Journal (published by the SHSL) as well as the Diamond Jubilee Supplement celebrating 60 years of the SHSL’s (re)founding. I just started a subscription to the SHJ and have yet to receive an issue but I’m extremely excited to add yet another regular Sherlockian periodical to my brain and shelves. I currently subscribe to the BSI’s Baker Street Journal, ASH’s The Serpentine Muse and the SHSL’s Sherlock Holmes Journal; what Sherlockian periodicals do you subscribe to and what am I missing out on? Please leave comments or email me at always1895[at]gmail.c0m (use at symbol and not a zero, obviously).
[Covers of the SHJ.]
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows shot to #1 in terms of movie attendance last weekend - performing slightly less well than the original, but they (the ubiquitous) say this is because considerably less people are going to the movies these days than two years ago - and critics, Sherlockian, non-Sherlockian or somewhere in between, have all sorts of wild and crazy things to say about Sherlock and friends battling the accountant from Mad Men (Jared Harris) where it’s Always 1959… Anyway, here’s an incomplete though diverse list of reviews I’ve come across since seeing a sneak preview (thanks ASH!) two weeks ago. What did I think about SH:AGoS, you might be asking yourself (or I’m just imagining you are asking yourself)? I’m holding back on publishing my review until I have the chance to see it again. Let’s just say I was happy that Watson’s dog does not die a lot (to paraphrase a friends’ rather hilarious take on the film). Reviews (in no particular order): Barefoot on Baker Street, Tahoe Daily Tribune, Imperial Beach Patch, Huffington Post, Maple Valley Reporter, LA Times video review, Alistair Duncan, AV Club, The Guardian; and there are zillions more if you Google it.
Carl’s Jr, the fast food chain, is holding a Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows London Trip Giveaway contest: “the grand-prize winner will receive a London vacation including a Sherlock Holmes walking tour of London with a drink at The Sherlock Holmes Pub, English Afternoon Tea at The Wallace Restaurant near Baker Street, and more. The prize is worth $5,000.” And to think, Christopher Morley got all that from just writing the Introduction to The Complete Sherlock Holmes (Doubleday 2 Volume Set) entitled “In Memoriam: Sherlock Holmes”. The contest is “open to residents of the United States (void in FL, NY, RI) who are aged 18 and above. Enter daily through January 3, 2012.” Oh well, I guess I won’t be going on an all expenses paid trip to Baker Street anytime soon.
The Daily Beast contributes another article to the growing stack of essays pointing out that ‘not only is Sherlock Holmes not dead, but he’s in fact thriving, etc.’ This piece is a cut above the fray though arguing that Sherlock Holmes might just be the answer to the evils and excesses of Capitalism today: “new books and a blockbuster are updating the Victorian detective, but what’s most modern about him might be how he became an antidote to the rapacious capitalism of his day—and that’s what we should celebrate.”
Bookish Adventures posted one of the final scenes from Granada’s production of “The Blue Carbuncle”. Team H & W, having just served a steep helping of forgiveness to the weaselly and rather undeserving James Ryder, (former, we presume) Upper Attendant at the Hotel Cosmopolitan, co-conspirator in the theft of the ‘blue carbuncle’ and all around rat, prepare to dine together for their traditional ‘two days after Christmas’ dinner when heart-of-gold Watson remembers they left poor, innocent John Horner (who Ryder helped frame for the robbery) rotting in jail. And off they go back into the night…
[I like to think that through an extraordinary chain of practically (though similarly) unbelievable events, Mrs. Hudson has in fact acquired and prepared the ‘forgotten character’ in this tale, i.e. ‘Jim’s Bird’ - “Jem’s bird, we call it. It’s the big white one over yonder. [It’s] a good three pound heavier and we fattened it expressly for you.” - for Holmes and Watson’s two-days-after-Xmas feast. Stranger things have happened. “The Adventure of Jim’s Bird” is a pastiche just waiting to be written.]
Thoughts on "The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle"
- Watson stops by to see Holmes, two days after Christmas. Watson doesn’t tell us what they gave each other for Christmas, but I think we can imagine. Anyway, Holmes is in the process of examining a hat and announces a series of deductions about the hat and Watson does his typical, “That’s amazing!” My favorite is Holmes’s deduction that the hat owner’s wife no longer loves him. When Watson asks how Holmes could know that, Holmes replies, “When I see you, my dear Watson, with a week’s accumulation of dust upon your hat, and when your wife allows you to go out in such a state, I shall fear that you also have been unfortunate enough to lose your wife’s affection.” I feel that implied is: “And then we shall have done with this charade finally and you’ll just move back in.”
- Watson, as usual, becomes so fascinated by the ongoing mystery that he promises to join Holmes for dinner that evening, where they will enjoy some woodcock together.
- Holmes asks Watson if he’s hungry. Watson says he’s not. So Holmes suggests that they have supper instead of dinner. I call EUPHEMISM.
- I did not realize that Sherlock’s extraction of information by way of reference to a fake wager in “Hounds” was lifted directly from this story. Very cute.
- “My name is Sherlock Holmes. It is my business to know what other people don’t know.”
- I love how smoothly Holmes dismisses the culprit’s alias when he offers it. Holmes is so awesome.
- I love the way Conan Doyle writes a paragraph of dialogue in which whatever Holmes or Watson is saying implies the actions going on around them, without pausing to describe the action. It is very neatly and prettily done. For instance, “Hold up, man, or you’ll be into the fire! Give him an arm back into his chair, Watson. Give him a dash of brandy.” Watson never describes either guiding the man or giving him brandy, but you know that he staggered with shock and that he was assisted in that way.
- Holmes lets the culprit go in this story, based on Christmas generosity. That’s all well and good, but I love how there’s no mention of who’s going to claim the thousand-pound reward being offered for the return of the carbuncle. By rights, it should really go to the poor bloke who lost his hat at the beginning of the story, who had fallen on financial hard times. Or maybe it should go to the Scotland Yard inspector who discovered the carbuncle and brought it to Holmes. But probably Holmes returned the carbuncle, didn’t take the reward, and didn’t think to offer it to anyone else. He seems that sort. Probably Holmes didn’t much care because he was too busy looking eagerly forward to his dinner with Watson.
Sherlock Christmas Special?
So Mark Gatiss had this interview about some stuff regarding series 2 and he also mentioned about wanting a Christmas Special using The Blue Carbuncle Story. I think it would just be the most lovely thing in the whole wide world and it’d be great if this could happen (maybe we’ll finally see the dreaded Christmas dinners!). Although considering how busy both Benedict and Martin are (The Hobbit, TTSS) I think, if this should ever happen, it won’t be in the near future. But still, I’m keeping my fingers crossed!
I’ll Have a BLUE Christmas - Listen Now
“Compliments of the season” is how Watson described his activities regarding a visit he paid to Holmes during the Christmas season.
And we know “The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle” as the sole Christmas story in the Canon of Sherlock Holmes stories. And rather than focus on the nostalgic and its place in the lineup of winter classics, we discuss how this classic fits in the pantheon of Holmes stories in its own right as a tale of friendship, crime, discovery and what we’ve come to realize as some of the typical Baker Street scenes.
In an effort to pay homage to this Christmas classic, the Baker Street Irregulars in 1948 crafted a special edition of “The Blue Carbuncle” that included a wonderful essay by Christopher Morley titled “A Christmas Story Without Slush.” About BLUE, Morley said, “it was superb art. It hasn’t a word too many or two few.” That essay itself has become something of a classic as well, and we’re delighted to share it with our listeners here.
After Burt inhabits the person of Morley for our reading, we come to a rather alarming and satisfying conclusion. We would be interested to hear if you share our assessment.
We go on to express admiration for the dramatized versions of the story - particularly by Jeremy Brett and David Burke for Granada and Peter Cushing and Nigel Stock for the BBC. We even invent our own version of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon with one of the actors who appeared in each.
As part of the holiday season, we also offered up our own - rather eclectic - list of gift ideas and sites where you might find the same. Herewith, the gift giving guide for Sherlockians (or perhaps those from the Steampunk crowd as well) during the holiday season:
- Gentleman’s Emporium (Inverness capes for only $99!)
- Construct your own Inveness Cape
- The Scottish Inverness Cape Company - a Harris tweet version ($$$)
- Mr. Antony - Inverness-style rain capes
- Recollections Clothing
- Sherlock Holmes gifts at BuzzSugar
- Detachable collars from Amazon Dry Goods
- Polyvore’s “Keep Calm” poster
- Two Sherlock Holmes chess sets: one from The Robert Opie Collection, and one from Amazon
- Sherlock Holmes quote wall art from Style It Out
- Magnoli Clothiers has vintage and custom clothing
- Randall Stock’s list of the 10 Best Sherlock Holmes Gifts
The Editor’s Gas-Lamp: We round out the show with a reading of “Two Days After Christmas,” a version of “The Blue Carbuncle” that takes the form of Clement Moore’s classic “A Visit From St. Nick.” If you would like to read this poem for your own Sherlockian society meeting, please feel free to download or print it out - with attribution, of course.
- Listener James O’Leary’s contribution identifying Canonical sources for “Elementary”
- Episode 17: an interview with Otto Penzler
- The Jeremy Brett version of “The Blue Carbuncle” (Amazon US | Amazon UK)
- The Peter Cushing BBC version of “The Blue Carbuncle”(Amazon US | Amazon UK)
- Patrick Gowers’ original soundtrack to the Granada Sherlock Holmes series (Amazon US | Amazon UK)
- BSI Weekend events
Download this episode by right-clicking the icon and selecting “Save As…” or simply click on the file to listen, or on the nice box above. (File size: 33.25 MB, 1:12:34)”Compliments of the season” is how Watson described his activities regarding a visit he paid to Holmes during the Christmas season.
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