"the poetic and contemplative mood which occasionally predominated in him" [REDH]
In the early- to mid-Forties, Edgar W. Smith, the Buttons-cum-Commissionaire of the Baker Street Irregulars, and the first editor of The Baker Street Journal, published a short booklet. Titled A Lauristen Garden of Verses, it was printed by the Pamphlet House of Summit, New Jersey and bore the authorship of Helene Yuhasova (who was not so secretly a pseudonym of Edgar).
The thin volume contained six Sherlockian sonnets and a ballade, and we thought we would share one of them here.
Sherlock Holmes to John H. Watson
You said of me what Plato said of him Who took the hemlock at his soul's behest: That I was paragon and paradigm -- Of all you've known, the wisest and best. Discernment such as that shows goodness, too, And certifies a wisdom long concealed -- My wisdom lay, perhaps, in choosing you To stand beside me as my foil and shield.
For you are Britain's apotheosis; The summum bonum of the bulldog breed; A benison epitomized in this: That strength and valour flourish in your deed... Come, Watson, com! The game's afoot and free: The world has need of men like you -- and me.
You can learn more about Edgar Smith and the early days of the Baker Street Irregulars by picking up a copy of any of the volumes of the Baker Street Irregulars Archival Series. At this time, the only volumes that are still available in print and available from the BSI are Vols. 4 and 5, but you may have luck with AbeBooks or eBay if you're looking for one of the first three volumes.
To read of the history of this revered organization is to know its founders and leading lights, whose great imagination and personalities we have to thank for the BSI at 80 years.
We came of age at a time when Saturday evenings at home meant a combination of The Love Boat and Fantasy Island, preceded by The Muppet Show. The format of the show was essentially your standard variety show: a guest star each week, musical numbers, comedy sketches and backstage interactions in front of a "live" audience.
In this case, we were pleased to find a sketch from Season 1, Episode 3 with guest star Joel Grey (available on DVD: The Muppet Show Season 1). The piece was titled "Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Disappearing Clues," starring Rowlf as Sherlock Holmes, Baskerville as Watson, Miss Piggy as the maid and a rather imposing purple monster named Gorgon Heap.
The reason we had never seen it before is because when the program (or more appropriately, programme) aired in the UK, there were fewer commercial spots, so additional footage had to be shot. Such two-minute shorts were shown in the UK but not in the United States.
And a word or two about Baskerville the Hound. Obviously, his name was inspired by The Hound of the Baskervilles, but his personality was anything but vicious. This cute little Afghan hound originally appeared with Rowlf in a series of commercials for Purina Dog Chow in 1962 in Canada (which are available on The Muppet Show Season 3 on DVD), and then in the first season of Sesame Street. The above episode is his first appearance on The Muppet Show, and he made two other appearances with Rowlf in Season 1, but those were UK spots as well. Baskerville also showed up numerous times in Season 2. (Source: Muppet Wiki)
If you'd like to satisfy your collector's mania, Baskerville, Rowlf and the rest of the gang can be seen in The Muppet Show on DVD. (Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk)
I write about pastiches here on I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere, and while pastiches normally refer to written works, a pastiche is actually any work of art that imitates the style or character of another. That makes one of my all time favorite shows, House M.D. a pastiche.
Long before Robert Downey Jr., sporting a respectable British accent, took up the role as Sherlock Holmes in 2009, or Benedict Cumberbatch brought the great detective into the 21st century in 2010, or Johnny Lee Miller brought a modern Sherlock to America in 2012 with Elementary, Hugh Laurie, with a spot on American accent in 2004, starred in probably the most subtly-blatant Sherlock Holmes characters of all times, the award winning and internationally successful TV series, House M.D.
Something that amazed me about the show and its success was how few people knew it was based on Sherlock Holmes (or how many people didn't know Hugh Laurie was British, with a very proper, almost posh accent).
Ever since the show ended in 2012 many of it's fans (myself included) have been lamenting the passing of the show. And it took a long time for the shows to be released on DVD (I was told this was because of rights disagreements between Fox and NBC Studios), and it took even longer for the show to be made available for streaming online (legally at least). But as of the first of this month, I was thrilled to learn that both Amazon and Netflix have picked up the show for streaming online.
For those who were familiar with Doyle's work, the fact that House was a retelling of Sherlock Holmes was probably obvious, but let's look at the evidence:
House is a synonym for the Holmes homophone, "homes."
House's best friend, a doctor, is Wilson and Holmes best friend, a doctor is Watson - only two letters different.
In the TV series House uses a cane, while in the books, it's Watson that has a cane.
Both House and Holmes share the love of a musical instrument. For House it's the piano, not the violin. (Side note, Hugh Laurie is also an excellent pianist, which I'm sure is why they chose it.)
Both use narcotics, although Holmes use is limited to when he's not working as a way to fight off boredom, while House uses his pain killers to enable him to work.
They both have little to no interest in the person involved in their investigation, just in solving the case.
While Holmes loved going to the opera, House loved going to monster truck shows.
The original inspiration for Holmes was a doctor.
And like Holmes, House fakes his own death.
There are of course many other references and Easter eggs scattered throughout the series but without giving too much away, here are a few of the more obvious ones: women with the last name Adler appear twice, Moriarty is referenced in the end of season two, and in one scene the address on House's drivers license might seem familiar to readers of this blog.
Many of the pastiche elements are intentionally contradictory to the source of the inspiration. But, to me, that's part of what makes the show so great. It is inspired by the best of Sherlock Holmes, gives a cheeky wink and a nod to other elements, and sticks to the spirit of the consulting directive, but House is its own show and doesn't rely on the connection to Sherlock Holmes to drive the story, just to inspire it.
"Life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent." [IDEN]
I will admit to being a neophile I look forward to hearing about anything new. But, alas, there is not time enough even to begin to keep up with it all. I knew that many different types of fan conventions have been held over the years back in 1979 I was in San Francisco and accidentally walked into a Star Trek convention. As a reader of science fiction I was aware of BoucherCon. I also vaguely knew that the genre fan fiction existed after all what Sherlockian doesnt enjoy a good pastiche.
But I really didnt know much about the fanatics who follow the BBC's Sherlock and have become devotees of the Master and in ways surprising to this old campaigner. The city of Atlanta hosted 221B Con on the weekend of April 4-6, 2014 with over 1,000 in attendance. Not surprising, you may say. After all, Sherlock Holmes is beloved by millions, and the BBC series as well as Elementary and the Robert Downey, Jr. movies have generated a fair amount of commentary even amongst curmudgeonly old Sherlockians who may prefer to light up a fine cigar, sip a snifter of brandy and discuss the original stories in the comfort of an over-stuffed leather chair in their clubs private library not that there is anything wrong with that, as they say on Seinfeld.
221B Con is in its second year. In 2013 the organizers, I was informed, expected about 70 attendees 700 showed up! The 2014 version was, to use my 1960s parlance, mind-blowing, a real trip, and even psychedelic! Or to use the analogy of a fellow Sherlockian who is also a Lewis Carroll fan, it was a journey down the rabbit hole to follow a new trail that has suddenly appeared, solely for the excitement of a surprising adventure and discovery of the unusual. A fan convention, or at least this fan convention, was a combination of presentations, panel discussions, showings of old and new SH media portrayals, book signings, an actual tea party where Mrs. Hudson (Marilynne McKay, BSI, ASH in Victorian costume) helped serve the attendees, performances by the Atlanta Radio Theater Company (shades of Friends of Bogeys on Baker Street!) and the steam-punk band, The Extraordinary Contraptions, vendor tables and a costume contest!
Even at that 1979 Star Trek fancon there were Klingons, Spocks, Kirks, Uhurus, and McCoys in abundance. But imagine my surprise when I walked into the Marriott to be greeted by Hugh Hefner and five Baker Street Bunnies (AKA Cumber-bunnies?) and an Irene Adler straight out of BBC Sherlock, with riding crop and sheer see-through dominatrix outfit. There were plenty of Sherlocks and Johns, Marys (in their black-op spy outfits), Mrs. Hudsons and even Moose-croft and Deer-lock (dont make me explain). Cosplay at 221B Con goes far beyond the wearing of a deerstalker or Inverness cape seen at the annual birthday weekend in New York City.
Programs included, but not limited to: The Napoleon of Crime, Minorities in Elementary, Canon 101, Brett vs. Rathbone, Holmes Through the Years, Art in the Blood, ACDs Other Works, From Baker Street to the Holodeck, Teaching Sherlock Holmes, History of Fingerprinting, Burke vs, Hardwicke, Russian Holmes and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and the Occult (at which I presented a recording of a conversation with ACD from the beyond!). But most of the panels I attended were more like discussions led by the panelists with the audience than they were formal presentations. And there was SherlockImprov, a live-action combination of cosplay and improv where the audience participated in mini-dramas created on the spot. This was not a sedate discussion of finer points in the Canon. This was 1,000 people showing their love for Holmes and Watson not to mention a substantial sub-group showing and approving of Sherlocks love for Watson (shades of Rex Stout who wrote Watson was a woman!). At Fandom Stats a quantitative look at Sherlocks fandom I learned that approximately 35% of fan-written fiction is X-rated!
Hot Off the Presses Panel (L to R): Jacqueline Morris, ASH, BSI, Scintillation of Scions; Mark Alberstat, BSI, Editor of Canadian Holmes Journal,Toronto Bootmakers; Marilynne McKay, ASH, BSI, Confederates of Wisteria Lodge
Kudos to the organizers for making The Beacon Society the official charity of 221B Con. People made donations to their favorite ships and we are not talking about the barque Lone Star or the Matilda Briggs. They were voting for their favorite romantic relationships such as JohnLock, gay John and Sherlock, or Mollylock or even the time traveling crossover WhoLock! The fandom at 221B Con is all about diversity.
Baker Street Babe Lyndsay Faye, BSI, ASH: From Baker Street to Holodeck
Every generation is free to keep green the memory of the Master as they see fit. Older generations may chafe at what they consider outlandish interpretations of Holmes and Watson. But in speaking with many of the younger, and mostly female, Sherlockians in attendance I found that as a group they were very aware of the original stories and enjoyed them immensely, that many knew of the traditional scion societies and did participate, and were keen researchers of Doyle and all things Sherlockian.
I was very envious of a young woman who had not yet finished reading all of the original stories she could pit her deductive skills against Holmes without being aware of the solution to a storys conundrum. I have often wished that I could have my memory of the stories selectively erased so I could read them anew again and again. Also, as a group, many were Tumblr users - a platform where they can read and post fanfic, pictures, drawings, links, video or audio clips of their favorite actors or authors. And while I personally will never wear a hand-knitted camouflage deerstalker, I will always defend another fans right to do so!