March was an extremely busy month for me (which is my way of excusing only one post last month). I started the month off with a trip to New York to visit Scholastic headquarters for work, and ended with Holmes, Doyle & Friends in Dayton, Ohio. Two amazing trips in one month!
But this is a Sherlockian blog, so you can probably guess which trip I'll be talking about...
I posted last year
about my inaugural Sherlockian conference, and this year's trip was similar and different, but no less great. This year, I rode out with Joe Eckrich, founder of The Parallel Case of St. Louis
, and it's amazing how quickly a five hour drive can feel when you talk about baseball and Sherlock Holmes the whole way!
I was excited this year, because I was going to finally meet some Sherlockians in real life that I've been talking to online for quite a while. And that's just what Friday night's welcome reception was. Chris Redmond, Denny Dobry, Shannon Carlisle and Scott Monty are all influential Sherlockians that I've been lucky enough to email or tweet with about our hobby. The best way I could describe the feeling was going to your high school reunion full of people you'd never met before. When the reception ended, a handful of us found our way to the hotel bar to enjoy (?) the annual tradition of listening to locals, other hotel patrons and one brave Sherlockian do karaoke. I would say "sing" karaoke, but....
Saturday morning started with the dealer's room. I had a table this year, selling duplicate items from the St. Louis Sherlock Holmes Research Collection. There were a few books, but we had a lot of old issues of The Baker Street Journal
, including Volume 1 Issue 1, all at low prices. Some of those issues from volume 1 didn't last too long! If you are interested in picking up some back issues of the BSJ, please email me and I can send you the price list.
End of commercial. Back to the symposium.
First of all, this year's conference was completely sold out. It was great to have a room packed with Sherlockians, and Dan Andriacco and crew lined up top-notch speaker for us.
The talks kicked off with Bob Katz, who shed some light onto the childhood of John Watson. I've heard Bob talk once before
, and either his research is really good, or he's one hell of a speaker, because both times he has had me completely convinced that what his theory was had to be the truth. This talk showed us how Watson's father was a mine supervisor in Australia, the American west, and Pennsylvania. Watson also enlisted in the Union Army as a drummer boy and found himself at the battle of Gettysburg. I was sold, and I bet there were plenty of other people in the room who were convinced as well.
The next talk was Susan Bailey and "A Study in Tonga." With another history lesson, Susan took us through the British involvement with the Andaman Islands, and how anthropologists of the time learned about the people living there. (Spoiler alert, it wasn't in a good way) But just where does Tonga come into all of this specifically? Well, there is a skeleton of an Andaman Islander that went missing after it was sent back to England for study. Could this have been tied to a certain doctor's medical college? I think we'll need another talk from Susan for more information on that.
I'm not going to lie, I wasn't excited about the next talk on the polyphonic motets of Lassus. This had the potential to be a dry or overly clinical examination of a subset of music that doesn't interest me. Thank goodness Ann Margaret Lewis knew her audience! We were not a room full of choral music historians, and she knew where to start: with defining each of those words. I'll admit, that phrase was always one that I sort of knew what it meant, but never thought about too much. Ann broke it down so that even a dullard like myself could understand it, and her audio clips of different types of this music made it a very enjoyable talk!
Up next was Scott Monty, with an advertiser's look at the Sherlock Holmes Canon. Did you know that Apple phones, Amazon and Twitter all used product placement in the stories? You learn so much at these conferences! Scott's talk was an expanded version of this episode of Trifles
and one that had everyone in the room laughing and nodding their heads in agreement as he showed us how some product names were used in the stories and how some should have been. You wouldn't believe what's been hidden in plain sight all of these years!
There was a break for lunch, and fate found me at a table full of The Beacon Society! Five members crowded in and talked about upcoming plans for our group and we got to hear Denny Dobry share stories about his very own 221B
After lunch, Shannon Carlisle was on to talk about her own 221B right in her classroom! Shannon is a fantastic teacher and an energetic Sherlockian, and I could do a whole blog post about her Sherlockian activities... Oh wait, I already did HERE
! You'll notice that she's the only presenter I don't have a picture of, just one of her slides. I ended up manning the computer for her presentation so my picture taking opportunities were pretty limited. Teachers helping teachers!
Shannon was followed by another teacher, Jeffrey Marks. But he wasn't up there to talk about his classroom. Jeffrey Marks is a busy man. Teacher, author, researcher and publisher! His talk was about Anthony Boucher's role in Sherlockian history. Boucher wrote The Case of the Baker Street Irregulars, which is widely known in Sherlockian circles, but another one of his books, Rocket to the Morgue, is about the sons of a famous author who want to get every cent possible from their father's estate. Sound familiar?
There was one last break for people to visit the vendor's tables. This is when I sold the first two issues of The Baker Street Journal. It was great to make the sale, knowing that all of the funds raised by selling off duplicate items will be turned right back around to purchase more items for the St. Louis Sherlock Holmes Research Collection
housed at the St. Louis Public Library. Schedule your visit to the growing collection of Sherlockian research today!
Man, I don't know how those commercials keep sliding in there. Weird!
You know what else was weird? This picture that Carlina De La Cova bought during the last vendor break.
That is Sherlock Holmes playing cards with Richard Nixon, Douglas MacArthur and Miss Piggy. I was speechless when I saw it, and I'm speechless still.
led off the last session with his talk titled Around the World in 63,450 Days. Nobody had any idea what the title meant, but Vince is the leading Sherlockian chronologist of our time, so we knew we were going to be in for some good chronology! We were wrong. This was the only talk in Vince's career as a Sherlockian where he didn't talk about chronology. Instead, he took us on a Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon tour of the Canon, that somehow included Vince's high school yearbook picture. Words can't do justice, but I can promise there were plenty of laughs.
The presentations wrapped up with Regina Stimson taking us through the film life of Sherlock Holmes. She promised to go through all of the on-screen adaptations of the Great Detective, and she only had 20 minutes to do so. When she told us to hold on to our deerstalkers, she wasn't kidding! From Sherlock Holmes Baffled to Will Ferrell, she covered them all! And she even managed to add commentary and film clips (real and fake) of certain actors. It was a fun way to wrap up a great lineup of speakers!
The weekend ended with dinner down the street, drinks and billiards at the hotel bar, and goodbyes at breakfast the next morning. The talks were great, but the biggest joy for me at these conferences is time spent with Sherlockian friends. From Friday to Sunday, it was one friendly interaction after another. If you've known someone for years, only talked to them online, or just met for the first time, Holmes, Doyle & Friends in Dayton, Ohio is a great place to cultivate a friendship.