And the best Irene Adler (and best business card) was by far Lyra Ngalia, writer and RPer (Role Player) who can be found at lyrangalia @ Dreamwidth, WomanWhoBeatYou @ Deamwidth and lyricnonsense @ Livejournal.
The two lovely ladies from Pullman, WA who had the extremely popular pin and poster table can be found on Etsy. Check out pepperspins.etsy.com and unicornempireprints.etsy.com for all your fan button and fan print needs (including publicly hangable Johnlock).
Thanks to the lovely folks at the Odyssey Bookshop (Port Angeles, WA) table, I was introduced to a terrific new book that I believe a lot of Sherlock fans will enjoy. Colin Fischer is a Young Adult (YA) novel about a 14-year old boy who suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome embarking on his first year of high school. What does this have to do with Sherlock?
Well, there are definite Sherlock Holmes references in the book, like the poster of Basil Rathbone as the character in Colin’s bedroom, for starters. But there is also the character of Colin who, like Sherlock Holmes, notices things and make some rather amazingly accurate deductions that others find disconcerting. He also requires a “cheat sheet” of facial expressions labeled with the related emotion to discern what the faces of others are conveying about their emotional state. (“Not good. A bit not good.”) In this first book, in what will likely be a series, Colin deduces that the wrong person has been accused of bringing a gun to school that goes off during a scrum in the cafeteria and sets about to uncover the actual culprit. In the process, he makes an unlikely friend and begins taking major strides towards independence. He also has a brother (younger in this case) who resents the disruption Colin’s illness forces on the family and the special attention Colin receives from their parents.
What none of this conveys is the strength of the writing and the clever way Colin’s growth is developed through the story. A potentially unlikeable character (and who does that remind us Sherlockian’s of?) becomes sympathetic and rather heroic as he pushes past his own fears and vulnerabilities to solve the “mystery” and aid the innocent (who isn’t exactly innocent and we realize will eventually be Colin’s Watson, not so much in chronicling his exploits as in watching his back).
Stuck in bed with a stupid cold (look, just give in to them, stay in bed for a day pumping Vitamin C and fluids, and you’ll be able to get rid of a cold much quicker and spread it less), I finished the book in a few hours. It’s a quick but compelling read that makes you want to punch your fist into the air at the end and go “Yes!”
Thanks to Odyssey Bookshop, I’ll be doing a lot of catch-up reading of Sherlock Holmes pastiche and related titles. Let me know below if you’d like to see more reviews and suggestions for Sherlockian reading (I finished “The Art of Detection” during the Sherlock Seattle Convetion which is not a Mary Russell King title but definitely Sherlock Holmes related).
It’s okay. We all love it when you pout, Sherlock. And besides, there are non-fattening treats later in this post.
To jump to the treats, click here. (I really thought they’d show up sooner.)
Oodles of catch up to do this week (and I still haven’t physically recovered from the Seattle Sherlock Convention (the brain may still feel 30, but the body is reminding me that my motto at that age was “I can rest when I’m dead.”) which explains the fact that I still haven’t finished unpacking from the convention — okay, that and the fact that my Sherlock: The Casebook arrived from the UK on Saturday so it was waiting when I got home on Monday…It’s very well done and, like the show, was done with love and care about the characters, the series, the people involved, and the fans.).
I’ve been pretty quiet on the Elementary front because a) I don’t have TV reception and CBS’ on-site episode streaming has been highly problematic for that series and b) it’s not good Sherlock Holmes. I’m sorry, but really the kindest critique I could make is to borrow from several other reviewers who’ve said that it would have been much wiser and kinder to the show to call the lead characters anything *but* Sherlock Holmes and Joan Watson because it’s really just another formulaic CBS police procedural with quirky characters like “The Mentalist.” However, by calling it a “modern Sherlock Holmes” it not only comes with certain expectations but demands comparison with BBC’s Sherlock. And it can’t begin to hold up to the comparisons.
My concerns from the beginning was with the apparent marketing mindset of “we gotta have a gimmick” (to paraphrase the strippers in “Gypsy”). Changing the gender of one of the lead characters would require changing at least some of the dynamic between then, but this would have been fine — except I was suspicious from the start that the show creators chose to make the emotionally supportive and less ostentatiously bright partner (Watson) female instead of tackling the harder task of making Sherlock the woman, so my concerns from the start was that Watson would become a “wife”/caregiver. Granted we have this done already in Bones, so I could understand the idea of doing a different gender-swap and choosing Watson, however, I was also dismayed by the choice of Liu as Watson which I felt was another marketing choice (“We can appeal to the Asian demographic as well as attract the nerd/geek/tech fanboy demographic who might tune in hoping to see her in a cat suit.”).
One of the key dynamics of the original Holmes/Watson partnership is the pairing of Sherlock’s cold, taciturn, inscrutable behaviour with Watson’s passionate, demonstrative, transparent personality. Cumberbatch and Freeman capture this yin and yang perfectly with Freeman’s face expressing entire three-volume-novels of emotion while Cumberbatch can drop an Iron Curtain of enigmatic complexity across his face that lets us see that the CPU is overclocking at an alarming rate, but gives no hint as to what the results will be. Liu has never been known for the openness of her expressions and the preview made her appear Botoxed into a rigid mask of obscurity.
But even having two enigmatic, mysterious characters might have worked for Elementary (although not as canonical Holmes & Watson) if they’d made Lui’s Watson dynamic and strong. I’d been afraid when I first heard of the casting that they were going to have Lui act as a sort Kato (martial arts sidekick and chauffer to the Green Hornet) to Miller’s Holmes, but frankly, that would have been a better choice than the emotionally-damaged, low self-esteem, wimp Watson. One of the things that makes both Jude Law’s and Martin Freeman’s Watsons work so well is that, while they try so hard to fit into the social norms of the middle-class, they are zestful and vital and delight in the opportunities to action. Given Miller’s Sherlock roams NY looking like a gay, emo, addict, I’d expect attacks by gay-bashers, bully-boys or general muggers to be fairly common and having Lui’s Watson apply a little Sandra Bullock/Miss Congeniality self-defense ,or demonstrate she’s not the victimizable “weaker sex” that canonical Victorian Holmes considered all women, would go a long way towards bringing some life to her Watson. Right now, her Watson is like a small black hole sucking out what little energy the show has and Miller can’t possibly generate enough thrust to avoid being pulled in.
Since I didn’t really intend for this to be an Elementary critique post, I’ll skip breaking down why Miller’s character fails as an effective Holmes (it’s not Miller’s fault, but the writers, producers, and directors; he’s working his heart out). But I will point out that what works for Robert Downey, Jr.’s action-man Holmes is that he isn’t angst-filled emo. He is totally self-centered and so we don’t feel guilty about our enjoyment of his rather callous fun. Cumberbatch’s Holmes understands that he is disconnected to the emotional lives of others (“Not good?” “A bit not good.”). This single vulnerability, and his charming dependence on Watson like a child clutching another child’s hand on a Field Trip outside the safety of the classroom whenever he must deal with the emotional lives of others, allows us to connect with Sherlock. But the writers of Elementary do Miller no favours by trying to make his Holmes a tough “bad boy” who also self-analyzes on a daily basis while trying to pretend he isn’t just another rich, white boy with a good education and no excuse for failure.
Right. Well, I’m glad I got that off my chest. Now to the treats.
Sherlock Quote Artist Trading Cards
For the convention, I wanted to create something that could be given away and possibly used as a conversation starter for the less outgoing or newbie (at least to conventions) fans. It’s always a bit awkward showing up at a party where you don’t already know most of the people. My friend, Heidi Berthiaume, has been in the Artist Trading Card (ATC) movement for several years which gave me an idea. Alas, I’m a very slow artist so there wasn’t time to make a series of “art” cards, but the thought occurred how about some Quote cards? So I started making quotes laid out to print on the self-perforated, create-your-own-business-card stock available at office supply stores. Somewhere around page 12 I realized I had to stop because it was going to cost me a fortune to print out enough copies to provide enough variety to allow folks to exchange them at the con. I’m not certain everyone understood the entire concept, but folks seemed to like the quotes and were having fun with them, so I promised to post the entire set (120 different quotes on 12 sheets of 10-up cards) in PDF format so people can print out their own.
Simply download the 12 different sheets in PDF format below.
Print each sheet on card stock (the pre-perforated, business card stock from the office supply stores is the easiest and best solution).
Separate your cards and use them however you wish.
Some possible uses are:
Exchange with others (either as Artist Trading Cards or fellow Sherlockians)
Print your fandom IDs, URLs, email address, or other note on back to give out to others.
Use as gift labels (the holiday season is approaching and you don’t want to make Molly’s mistake).
Create random acts of Sherlockian street rebellian by leaving them in public places to be found by others. (You can even add “I believe in Sherlock Holmes” or “Moriarty was real” to the back to promote the movement.)
Do your own artwork on the back.
Use to communicate with people when you don’t want to actually say what you’re thinking (“You lower the I.Q. of the entire street.” or one of the nice ones even.)
Shut up! I’m listening to Sherlock read the phone book.
Oh, yeah, that’s how we all feel, James.
Having discovered that Benedict Cumberbatch has done the audio versions of some of Ngaio Marsh’s mysteries (and Ngaio Marsh being a mystery author I adore), I have already proposed another way for some of us to survive the Long Wait until Season 3 by having a knitting and tea party while we listen to Benedict Cumberbatch, he of the terribly English name and mind-meltingly fabulous British voice, read the brilliant New Zealand author of some wickedly smart, top drawer, British cozy mysteries.
Alas, it appears we must order our CDs (my dear, I want to be able to port this voice to every electronic device I own) from Amazon UK. For anyone else wishing to indulge in an audible orgy, please use the links below. Thank you!
From Amazon UK
And here’s a bit of Sherlock Holmes:
See warning note below about listening to Benedict Cumberbatch read Casanova’s story. I mean really, Shouldn’t there be some kind of warning label or something.
From Amazon US:
Okay, we take no responsibility for what happens if you listen to Benedict Cumberbatch read Casanova. I’m just warning you. (Especially if you listen while eating hot fudge sauce and whipped cream oozing down a couple of scoops of extra rich French Vanilla or Dulce de Leche ice cream…)
Of course, no one involved in the production of BBC Sherlock is bored right now. They’re all busier than Sherlock in The Great Game!
Fortunately, Sherlock fandom is a creative and industrious bunch, so there are lots of things we’re doing and sharing. A good place to start is over at Baker Street Babes (You go, girlfriends!). They’ve got some lovely interviews including a behind-the-scenes with the Sherlock Fan Orchestra (see below) And you can listen to the podcasts while doing other things (like knitting John a sweater; I’m thinking maybe Fair Isle or Intarsia since I loathe knitting cables.).
(alas, it’s been far too many years since I played the clarinet or the trombone to be of any value).
I’ll be adding some more recommendations to keep us going through the long, dark days before Season 3 arrives.
This Friday, 17th August, is the birthday of the publisher behind all these books, and Steve will donate an additional £5 ($8) for each collection that is bought from now to before midnight on Friday. There’s free USA and UK shipping too. Open to USA, UK and Europe.
On the site above, the list is color coded to warn about the awful titles and recommend some good ones. Additional research showed the information appeared to be correct to date, but I have added some additional novels and information.
This list includes only published novels or series in which Holmes is at least one of the main characters in at least one book and that are at least 100 pages in length.
Please feel free to use the comment sections to recommend additional titles to the list.