a baker street irregular

Hello friends and welcome to another edition of Wacky WWII Hijinks! Get hype, today we’re gonna learn about rad spy shit

okay, first some background: the OSS, or Office of Strategic Services, was an American intelligence agency during WWII that was in charge of clandestine shit like espionage, propaganda, and counter-intelligence. It was run by a dude called “Wild Bill” Donovan, because that’s the kind of name people had back then somehow

More background: the SOE, or Special Operations Executive, was a British organization in charge of espionage, sabotage, and assisting local resistance groups in Europe. It didn’t have a director with a weird nickname, but it was sometimes called the Baker Street Irregulars, which honestly I think is even better

as you can imagine, these two organizations came up with a lot of weird shit to help their agents infiltrate into occupied Europe, so let’s get to it already dang

  • Rodent bombs

this one comes to us courtesy of the SOE and were intended for use in boiler rooms, because the british figured that anyone finding a gross dead rat while stoking a boiler would probably just chuck the corpse into the fire and be done with it. Except this time the boiler would explode.

Rat asses, as you can see from the pencil fuse in the image, could also be rigged for timed explosions instead, for those occasions when you’re on a tight schedule about raining down petrified rat entrails in your enemy’s basement

unfortunately (???), the RATS, EXPLOSIVE, never saw actual combat use, as the first box the SOE dropped into Europe was intercepted by the Nazis, who probably had a read good “what the FUCK” moment when they opened it

  • Coal bombs

along similar lines but far less fucking weird were coal bombs, which were essentially the same thing as the rat bombs but with hollowed out coal instead. Both the SOE and OSS actually used these ones

  • Poop bombs (lol)

they then went a bizarre step further and developed mule dung bombs for use in Africa- “specially sculpted” replicas of mule poop that were packed with explosives. These weren’t meant to be chucked into boilers, but rather left around for enemy forces to drive over. Here is an actual American soldier talking about collecting mule shit for war purposes, from O'Donnell’s book Operatives, Spies, and Saboteurs

Mule turds were to be found in great abundance…we added a few samples of local mule dung, and this was carefully packed and sent to London. We took care to explain that the full, rich horse dung of the British countryside would not do in Morocco; it was the more watery, smaller mule type that would pass there without suspicion. Also, it was important to have it a deep sepia color, sometimes with greenish shades, the product of straw and grass, not of oats and hay. In due course of time the British London office made up explosive turds from these samples, and we used them to good effect later in Tunisia.

You do you, mule-poop-connoisseur-OSS-agent.

  • Bat bombs

this is not an actual picture of a bat bomb, but I found it while googling for images to use and I love it okay thanks

anyway are you sensing a theme here?

This one was, surprisingly, not the product of OSS or SOE, but of an American dentist named Lytle S Adams. Everyone needs a hobby I guess.

The idea behind bat bombs was that you take a bunch of bats (specifically Mexican free-tailed bats), tie some little bombs to them, and stuff them into a plane. Then the plane flies over Japan (because Japan has a lot of wooden buildings and therefore is particularly susceptible to incendiary use), and drops the bats. The bats fall down to building-level, then start flying around looking for somewhere to hide because they are having a seriously bad bat day. In theory, the bats would fly up into the eaves and roofs of the buildings, at which point the timers on their little bombs would go off, sending both bats and buildings up in flames.

This idea actually, somehow, made it into the testing phase, but was never used because honestly what the fuck

  • Aunt Jemima

guess what it’s another bomb! In this case, a plastic explosive that looked like flour (hence the name) and could even be baked into something resembling food products, although just a tad more poisonous than most food you find outside of school cafeterias. Aunt Jemima was easy to smuggle through enemy lines due to its innocuous appearance, and the OSS sent a bunch of it to Chinese resistance fighters against the Japanese

  • Silk printing

“wait what?”, I’m sure you’re saying. “finally something that doesn’t explode and it’s…just a totally normal thing?”

yeah. Here’s the thing: if you sent an agent or resistance fighter into occupied territory, there was a pretty good chance they were gonna get frisked at some point, because that was a pretty routine occurrence in places like occupied France. If said agent/resistance member were carrying, say, a map showing escape routes or a code sheet for them to use to send information, and they got searched, either that paper is gonna be found with their other papers or, if hidden on their person, make a pretty distinct crinkling noise when the Gestapo agent gets friendly with that area. Plus, you know, paper doesn’t do great when wet

the solution to this was printing stuff on silk, like this:

this is Leo Marks, the creator of the silk code keys and one time pads that SOE used for their agents, holding a one time code pad that has been printed on silk

these silk documents could be sewn into an agent’s clothing while still being totally undetectable to a pat-down, or even hidden somewhere like rolled up in a thin tube and then stuck inside a shoelace. If you went a step further and printed the document using invisible ink, agents could carry maps around in plain view as handkerchiefs or have their codebook printed directly onto their underwear, because hey why not

I know it sounds boring after all this exploding wildlife, but silk-printed documents were hugely important to covert operations during WWII

  • things that should not be guns but are, in fact, guns

tbh I’m just gonna let the pictures speak for themselves on this one

apparently there was an umbrella one too but I couldn’t find a picture of that one

  • suitcase radio

if you’re dropping people into enemy territory to gather intelligence, you need some way to communicate with them. This was a problem, since cell phones hadn’t been invented yet and radios at the time were like, fucking huge, which is not great when you’re trying to hide them from the Gestapo

SOE got around this problem by creating the suitcase radio, which is exactly what it sounds like- a big old radio disguised as a suitcase. Obviously they weren’t gonna stand up to any examination more rigorous than “yes that is suitcase shaped”, but it allowed agents to at least walk around in public with it without attracting too much attention

  • Joan-Eleanor system

keeping with the “problems with radios” theme, we have the OSS’ Joan-Eleanor system. See, normal radio frequencies were monitored by both sides in the war, which was Not Great. It meant both that radio transmissions could be intercepted by the enemy (and subsequently decoded, like Germany’s Enigma messages), and also that you could use radio direction finders to pinpoint the location of a broadcasting radio. Every time a covert agent turned on their radio to report something, they ran the risk of being located and hella murdered

the Joan-Eleanor (or J-E) system, in contrast, was a Very High Frequency (VHF) system. VHF bands couldn’t be easily monitored, unlike the frequency bands used by other radios.

Why? I actually have no idea. Listen I just read things and ramble about them on the internet, I don’t know jack shit about radios

anyway, as a result the system was hard to detect but very short range, so it worked by giving the agent on the ground a hand-held transmitter (the Joan), that talked to a bigger transceiver (the Eleanor) that was in a plane. At prearranged times the plane would fly over wherever the agent was and they could have an undetectable chat

  • compass buttons

it’s a compass! It’s a button! It’s a compass hidden inside a button!

  • The BBC

okay this one isn’t technically equipment, but it’s cool and was used by spies so you can deal with it

it turns out that during the war pretty much everyone listened to the BBC, even at risk of arrest in occupied territories. The SOE used this to their advantage by working with the BBC to broadcast seemingly meaningless words or phrases at certain times, which were actually pre-arranged coded messages  or orders to agents or resistance members

if an agent had to win over the resistance’s trust or prove they were actually spies and not just random dudes, they could ask the person whose trust they were trying to win to provide them with a personal word or phrase. Then the agent could radio the SOE, give them the word/phrase and ask it to be broadcast at a certain time, which the other person would hear, and bam best friends

  • invisible ink

is there anything more quintessentially spy? agents were often supplied with a little vial of invisible ink before being dropped into occupied territory, for communications outside radio broadcasts. the ink could be developed (made visible) by means of chemicals or exposure to ultraviolet light (some invisible inks are developed by heat, but the SOE at least avoided those because of the worryingly high risk of accidental exposure. “whoops I sat to close to the fire and now everyone can see I actually drew little devil horns on this poster of Hitler you gave me”)

REAL COOL FACT: Josephine Baker, the famous Black singer, was actually a spy for the French Resistance during the war, and smuggled information during her concert tours of Europe by writing it in invisible ink on her sheet music! wow!

okay I’m gonna stop now because I keep thinking of more shit to add and if I do this will literally never end (sorry). For further reading I recommend the O'Donnell book mentioned above and Leo Marks’ Between Silk and Cyanide. Also apparently H. Keith Melton’s OSS Special Weapons & Equipment is really good, but I haven’t read it personally (though I totally stole the pictures of the OSS guns from there, hooray the internet)


In which Holmes ruins the Baker Street Irregulars’ treasure hunt.

(I missed Mrs Hudson’s first anniversary earlier this month due to Unexpected Hiatus, booooo! I’ll just have to make sure that her second anniversary is extra special.) 

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Collection of Starlock pics, colored in pencil.

  1. Young Darth Vellian, a.k.a. James Moriarty.
  2. Supreme Chancellor James Moriarty of the Galactic Republic.
  3. Darth Veritan and Darth Vellian.
  4. Jedi General Beth “Skywalker” L’Straid and private consulting detective Sherlock Holmes (formerly also of the Jedi Order).
  5. Jedi General Beth L’Straid and padawan Deirdre*.
  6. Jedi General Beth L’Straid and Senator Maré Amarina**.

Beth’s different-colored clothing isn’t a mistake, btw; it’s actually on-purpose. Realistically, a Jedi can’t wear the exact same robes every day. They do appear, however, to stick to the same color scheme once they’ve picked one (note the changes in Obi-Wan’s robes from TPM to RotS).

Also, coloring with pencils and making it look good is hard. Send help.

*Deirdre is one of the Baker Street Irregulars in Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century.
**Yes, Maré is Mary, emphasis on the second syllable of her name rather than the first.

Rest in peace Jeremy Brett, who died on this day September 12th, 1995. I was fifteen years old, and–while I was introduced to Sherlock Holmes when my dad handed me the canon–we watched the Granada series religiously as a family. Or at least it was religiously for me, because now I am a Baker Street Babe, Adventuress of Sherlock Holmes, and Baker Street Irregular, I can look back and thank Mr. Brett for giving me the first version of Sherlock Holmes who wasn’t solely in my imagination, the first solid human Holmes I ever loved, and when people ask me my religious affiliation, my answer is “Sherlockian.” 

Thank you for all you did for Holmes fans everywhere. – lyndsayfaye

That Was No Lady... Cherchez La Femme!

So, I’m having a grand time reading The Baker Street Reader right now, and I came across this curious similarity.

The essay ‘Watson was a Woman’ by Rex Stout is in there. For those who don’t know, it’s basically arguing that Holmes and Watson were a couple, except it’s phrased in veiled not so charming heteronormative and homophobic ways- with a classic sexist gem of “And we have been expected to believe that a man wrote these things!” I mean, the Very Idea. Shock, horror(!)

But then, straight after that essay, there’s a counter-argument by another Baker Street Irregular: ‘That Was No Lady’ by Julian Wolff. Here’s the part that grabbed my attention:

As a final clincher, we have only to quote the description of Watson obtained by Lestrade from members of Milverton’s household: “He was a middle-sized, strongly built man- square jaw, thick neck, moustache…” Obviously Mr. Stout will have to cherchez elsewhere for La Femme.

Rings a bell, eh? Mycroft tells Sherlock at the graveyard in TAB to “Cherchez la femme.” Obviously, it’s a well-used phrase, @deducingbbcsherlock especially has great theories on the implications of Mycroft saying it.

But, I also like to think that this line popping up in The Abominable Bride was a reference to these two essays. In TSo3, John asks “Am I woman? […] Yeah, but am I a pretty lady?” And as Sherlock ‘looks for the woman’ in the graveyard, “the cupboard is bare.”

In other words, there is no woman to be found. The story of John and Sherlock is a romance, yes, but not a heteronormative one.

Tagging @waitingforgarridebs as per request! <3


I know a lot of Sherlockians here are big Granada fans, but I don’t hear much about the Basil Rathbone movies…  probably due to the age of the fandom, I suppose. 

But I just watched this as part of my ShSpesh prep work, and WOW. Recommended!

Key points of the Moriarty story arc from TGG and TRF comes from this movie, not to mention some delightful Sheriarty/foyay and Moriarty being deliciously weird about an orchid. 

Also featuring the dressing gown from TAB, and Billy the Baker Street Irregular in drag.  :)  And it’s beautifully shot and acted.

@finalproblem has been theorizing a bunch about which ACD story is being referenced by the stained glass door in the trailers for TAB…  But I wonder if it isn’t ACD canon at all, but the Star of Delhi from this film?  After all, Moftiss have always felt free to count all adaptations as their “canon”.  

Throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks

(Or are we done yet?)

I apologize for this really long meandering post, but I just to get the WTFry out of my brain so I can work on my grading…

But first some info about me so you get an idea where I am coming from.  I am a middle-aged academic currently teaching in the Midwest, USA (known as Hoth right now), finishing up a terminal degree, and a published writer.  Originally from the Washington State, while we were up, my sister and I were introduced to lurid crime novels and gossip rags, the gorier the better, by our mother, and one of the things we enjoyed doing was debating the “whys” and “hows” of the crime or scandal.  Our favorite book was “Hollywood Babylon,” my copy of which still is on my sister’s book shelf.

I came to the “Sherlock” fandom through Conan Doyle.  I hung out with people who were part of a chapter of the Baker Street Irregulars, a group that includes law enforcement, housewives, businesspeople, et al.  It was a mixed bunch, but the thing we had in common was a love of dissecting the stories in Doyle’s books, and this often led to dissecting stories in real life, whether it was the Michael Jackson case, Jeffrey Dahmer, or Watergate (I am dating myself here).  The humor was dark and the suspicions darker, and more often than not, we came onto the answers through this debate, and in the process, my bullshit meter was honed.

As someone on the spectrum, and considered high functioning, I also had to hone my ability to read people by their actual physical actions-the tenseness in a face, the position of the body, and also by the type of language: are they being vague? Specific?  While I don’t think eye contact is a sure sign of lying, a sudden difference in the type of eye contact usually represents some kind of waffling, avoidance, or outright obfuscation.

Carmen1969 just posted on the changes in Benjammin’s behavior over the past seven or so months.  The physical signs are there and I agree with her 100%. There are also way too many players in this PR battle, and it must be making B’s mind whirl, and I would bet dollars to donuts the man is burnt out.

Someone mentioned what does Squidly have on the man, but I think Carmen came the closest.  The change in B’s behavior began when the wedding announcement was put in the papers.  Why would it even matter that such an action was taken?  The rumors would have done enough for his campaign run and the promotion for TIG, and I think Weinstein was all for the rumors and a face to go with them.  It would work and then Squidly could go back to whatever it was she was doing.

Squidly runs with a special crowd.  Pretend artists, and trustfund babies, and those too cool for school.  There’s occasionally a talented bugger in the bunch, and the others see this as a sign of how special they all are by association. Rich entitled brats who somehow are emotionally stunted and socially unethical.

Being an escort seems to be one of those “cool” things young women and some men in these circles can do for pocket change.  Tea on young (and some very young) socialites being escorts comes out in the gossip rags, and sometimes make the “real” news.  Most of these young women don’t need to do this, but they must get a rush out of manipulating men and traveling and pretending to be badder than they are.

That said, I don’t think being an escort is an immoral issue.  I will admit I am squicked about it, but I think it should be legal so that women who are in the business get equal protection under the law, have access to medical care and retirement, and everything that goes with many jobs. It’s the scamming and lying that irks me.

My issue is that on the money side, these people have access to cash, from allowances to trusts to investments.  They are often on boards of nonprofits (because there have to be so many officers) their mothers and fathers form to put cash in a place where it’s nontaxable, invested usually in stocks, and any money paid out further saves on taxes  for the donor.  It’s a completely legal shenanigan, and it’s a part of that social system of wealthy people who have these grand non-profits that supposedly work for the “poors,” when in fact it’s to buff their own image and pretend they are better than they are.  Often there are catches to any organization who actually works with ill, disabled, or impoverished people to see any of this money. We see demands with the Bill Gates Foundation in the schools, and with the Komen American Cancer Society-to get money, an organization must meet certain criteria. So not only do these people stash money, they put their own moral stance on how the money is spent regardless of evidence of effectiveness (see also: Autism Speaks).

These non-profits can be a way of siphoning money.  What if he who must be named is part of a group whose wealthy families do these things?  Some of these young people, who are on the boards, actually are paid as part of the non-profit?  Good example: Sarah Palin’s daughter Bristol was a paid member of one of her mother’s PAC’s, which operated in a similar fashion. Being a board member entitles one to a regular income if the non-profit is set up for it.  That’s why Palin was criticized-what did Bristol do for her wages? Much waffling was made.

These are also great places to hide money not quite “legal."  Start a nonprofit, put in money, say $30,000, and call it a donation, and no-one will question it.  There is a catch: there has to be a plan for the money if it is used unless it is to go for pay for executive officers.  Taxes do have to be filed on those wages, but so what?  They are now legal. Money laundering.

I know I am rambling, but what if Benjammin’s got involved in a group he thought were the “cool” kids, and fell in with sharks instead?  What if what this group plays nice until they see an opening and then take advantage of a weakness?  This situation wouldn’t even be very organized until a mark was made.  Once a mark was in play, then the organization would formalize and the scam would take place. Since some of the young women were playing at escort among the wealthy, they would be privy to lots of weird stuff, and many people would be vulnerable.  Remember the blind about the escort of the fiancée of an actor who had blackmailed an A list director?  What if it was this bunch, and the money was siphoned off into one of these trusts. 

There’s another blind from Enty discussing the cashflow strapped boyfriend of said fiancée.  These funds can only spit out so much money before coming under the scrutiny of the feds. What if they lived beyond their means or overdealt their hand? If Squidly’s “friend” he who can’t be named got himself in trouble, and Squidly’s contract was about up, or the producer caught wind of their shenanigans and threatened to cut them off earlier, and that would explain the wedding announcement.  As someone discovered, the wedding announcement is no longer listed in the paper that published it. The paper pulled it recently which means they know it’s not legal.  Interesting.  I digress. So not only did the wedding announcement appear at the moment she was about to be booted, there began to be rumors of pregnancy at the same time.  Cue Palm Spring Debacle.

He who must not be named is also involved with another celebrity who has been embarrassed by a leak of photos onto the net that are not very flattering.  I cannot say he’s involved, but it seems odd that this is happening during a time of great fuckery on this other front.  Our actor is not the only person these people have scammed, and that situation may bear looking into as well, especially if the money he who must not be named is not flowing very much.

So, W. needs a RCG for his star? Cool.  Squidly has the looks and background and a history with B, so W. pops her in. It becomes apparent that W. doesn’t care if this relationship goes on after the awards and may be considering axing her earlier because she’s such a negative PR force on the RC; B is definitely not going to continue it because he’s not interested. So in desperation the wolves bury their claws into their mark with threats to sink the PR if W and B don’t continue the campaign and then seal it with the wedding announcement. Any side could have posted the announcement as a concession, but it looks like itw as probably Squidly’s team. Then the pregnancy rumors start to swirl until the reveal at Palm Springs, which was all Squidly and he who must not be named’s plan. Since the pregnant fiancée fit the scenario somewhat, W tries to salvage PR.  But now it is affecting him and his image. Then plans for the wedding.

Why the sudden rush and all of the drama with the wedding?  My only explanation is that W. is pushing for some kind of control until after Oscars, as a scandal right now would derail everyone, and W already is trying to burnish his own image.  The fact he is on the front lines of this particular picture is telling, because it means the standard (and now messed up) PR was not working, and if the real situation got out, could sink a lot of careers, and definitely impact W.  W. has to show he was sincerely in this for the film and to take the focus off the sidelines. So B is convinced that the best way out is to play along until the campaign is over.

Plus whole wedding debacle is related to cash flow.  It was tacky, and cheap, and the way the information was handled was manipulative and abusive.  It definitely smacked of the Kardashian stinky style of promotion, with twits coming from different corners of the fiasco and the slow trickle of photos and information that seemed to get tackier and tackier. The chopper was so WTF, but I think most people responded the same way.  The over the top nature of the whole thing was disgusting.  While Benjammins is trying to distance himself from the nannies and fannies, all of this PR is aimed at them to get clicks.  They are aiming at the “50 Shades” crowd, those who follow no matter the problematic nature of the subject of their focus.  I think while he’s being fed lines, he is so done and worn out, he can barely care, so he focused on what does excite him: his work.

And now the tickets for Hamlet being confirmed.  Really?  How far does this rabbit hole go down?  Or is someone’s PR telling the Barbican to use this information to gain themselves more PR?  I don’t know, but it makes everyone look tacky, manipulative, and, in the end, abusive. We see it in the fandom with fans dropping like flies, and the infighting on all sides.  Is this cool?  I can’t think any of it can be considered okay.

This attempted save during the Oscar campaign is a massive PR project, certainly not beyond W.’s means  (though not his temper), and with some of the other players that would have to be involved, certainly possible.  The unpredictability of grifters complicates the process, and now PR for B and W are desperately trying to stay ahead of the shenanigans at least until after Oscars, and probably a bit beyond that.  That so many people are involved means we will probably get bits and pieces, and indeed, we have gotten some very strong hints that not all is right in this case. That he who must not be named came skulking out of the woods to sniff at the air to determine where the threat was coming from is no coincidence, and I bet he discovered people were closer to the truth than he thought, so back to the woods he went. A couple of pokes with the stick and the sceptics poking back scared him.  We not only figured out who his current “gf” was, but that she is one of the FOSH, on a nonprofit board, and is another entitled twit who thinks she’s all that.  It’s all there.  There’s too much not to find.

I do believe Squidly was an escort because so many in that crowd look at it as a thrill and Squidly probably needed to do the job because of her own cash flow problem. This puts her in a position to troll for marks.  According to some comments on DL, someone in the field mentioned she showed up as one of the escorts for a party of wealthy businessmen, and stuck out by her attitude, and I’m inclined to believe it to be true.  She certainly sticks out now.  Am I absolutely sure?  No.  But it fits the facts on the ground

This situation sucks.  B seems to be a talented, nice, and naïve guy, who wanted to play with the cool kids, sucked up a bit of his own Koolaid, and got burned.  W is not innocent, but I don’t think this is what he planned for TIG, but he also has the means to deal with it, but too many people know the truth, but so far he has kept off the wolves.

As a final statement, I don’t know if any of this is true as there are few receipts.  It’s just that when I read the stories, looked at the timeline, and looked at the people involved, there was an awful lot of smoke.  Why so much negativity?  Why the obfuscation?  Why the weird language? Why the weird gossip leaks? But I think there is something hinky going on, and if I didn’t get it out and shared it to get feedback, I was not going to get anything done today.

So now I can return to my own work!

I want to thank everyone in the sceptic blogs, especially BTT, TFOE, Carmen1969, and what-the-fry, for providing places to discuss this looniness and to share information.  I don’t know how this WTFry is finally going to end up but it’s very, very sad for B.