Friday, April 19, 2019

On The Great Alkali Plain

This month's meeting of The Great Alkali Plainsmen coincided with the first weekend of my school's Spring Break.  So I somehow convinced my wife and daughter to build a mini-vacation to Kansas City so I could attend a Sherlockian meeting.  

I may have a Sherlockian addiction.

Anyhow, the family had a great time at the Royals game, the aquarium, a few BBQ joints and Legloland where I saw Detective Pickachu.  But for the purposes of this blog, it was all about joining The Great Alkali Plainsmen for lunch on Sunday.

The Plainsmen have a long history.  Started decades ago, the group went into hibernation and were just started back up last year.  Texas Sherlockian, Dan Payton, reached out to me when he moved to Kansas City to see if I knew of anyone in the area that might want to form a group. Around the same time another Sherlockian from Maryland, Scott Turner, emailed a different St. Louis Sherlockian, Michael Waxenberg, for the same purpose.  It was meant to be.  Dan and Scott soon got in touch with each other, and the Plainsmen were back!

When I attended last weekend, the story of the month was "The Adventure of the Red-Headed League."  And you know where they had their meeting?  In a restaurant that used to be a bank!  How brilliant is that!?!  There were eight of us in total, including one original member of the Plainsmen who'd been reading these stories and going to meetings for decades.  There were a few "Sherlockian spouses" there as well, and I was delighted to see that they had all read the story and were involved with the conversation.  I don't think my wife would be that dedicated to my hobby!  Hell, I've been to a few meetings where the MEMBERS of the group hadn't read any canonical stories for years.  Needless to say, this was a great discussion!

But I'm getting ahead of myself.  We had a nice lunch and plenty of Sherlockian conversation was had before the meeting actually started.  I found out that no one in the Plainsmen liked Will Ferrell's Holmes and Watson.  In fact, they've dubbed it the Voldemort of movies, and refer to it as "the movie that shall not be named."  Dan and I were both at Holmes, Doyle and Friends last month, so we filled everyone in on everything that went on in Dayton and Dan listed off some upcoming meetings in the surrounding states.

Then it was on to the discussion of REDH.  Keri Coates gave a fun presentation that invoked time travel, murder, and a visual aid.  The eight of us at the table could've easily bandied about her ideas for a good hour, but the restaurant closed at 3, so we were on a tight schedule.  I can tell you though, if you ever see Keri's name attached to a Sherlockian discussion anywhere, she knows her stuff!

Another thing I found interesting was that they don't do the stories in order.  The winner of each month's story quiz gets to pick the story that they want to do at the following meeting.  Having only been up and running for less than a year, they say that this works well, but wonder how things will go down the road.  In fact, some people at the table said they should pick a story that they thought was the worst and do a talk on that.  An interesting idea that might be worth another drive to Kansas City when that happens!

We closed up with the monthly quiz by Scott Turner.  This guy is tricky.  One of the questions was"

What was hanging from Jabez Wilson's key chain?
a. a Chinese coin
b. a sovereign
c. his keys
d. nothing

A Chines coin, right?  Wrong.  That was hanging from his WATCH chain!  Wilson had a sovereign on his key chain.  There were plenty of good-natured groans and grumbles for that answer.  Scott's quiz also led to a discussion on the difference between Eton and Oxford, a distinction that I'd never given too much thought to before.

Like all good meetings, it was over way too soon.  We all said our goodbyes, and I was back to join my family for the rest of our vacation.  But, if you ever find yourself  on "
the great flat plain-land, all dusted over with patches of alkali" look up Dan, Scott, Keri, or any of the other members of The Great Alkali Plainsmen.  You'll be treated to some great Sherlockian company, and you'll probably learn a thing or two along the way.


  1. Looking over my shoulder my wife said 'Who are those people?' I replied 'Sherlockians at lunch.' Her answer - 'Well, they don't LOOK crazy.' I think it was a compliment?! p.s. On a scale of 1 to 5, I give 'Holmes and Watson' a 2. I've seen much worse.

    1. The only things I liked about TheMovieThatShallNotBeNamed was its allusions to the Downey film(s), both Holmes’ pre-calculations before making moves AND their music style choice at the end. Beyond that, I’m grateful to have used a fairly deep discount from Redbox to make the rental cost negligible (May have to channel my Doctor Who fandom to get the lost TIME back, however... 😠).