I really enjoyed this article from www.themillions.com: http://bit.ly/1fnlqiF. (It's too long to copy here, but well worth reading. Thanks to Dr. Amy H. Sturgis (amyhsturgis.com) for posting this on her Live Journal blog.
What is Poetry Genius, you may ask? Well, some while back (in 2009), there appeared a website called Rap Genius, which enabled users to post and annotate rap lyrics. Since then, the site has expanded to include Rock Genius, News Genius, and Poetry Genius. Poetry Genius has more than poetry on it, though. Various literary works have been posted on the site, including...you guessed it...some of the Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I've been active on Rap Genius, Rock Genius and Poetry Genius for some time now, and when I discovered The Hound of the Baskervilles on the site, I immediately began to post more Sherlock Holmes stories on the site. You can see the Arthur Conan Doyle content on Poetry Genius here.
The great thing about having Holmes stories on Poetry Genius is that Sherlockians can collaborate on creating their own annotated Sherlock Holmes, in the tradition of Baring-Gould and Klinger. The interface on the site enables users to add not just annotations, but links, video, pictures, etc. I am still in the process of adding more Holmes stories to the site, but as of this post, here's what's available to annotate:
Adding annotations of your own is very simple: just highlight the text that you want to annotate, and a box will pop up for you to enter your note. You are encouraged to add images to posts, to make them more visually interesting. Video and other media can be added as well. Give it a try!
Thanks to reader Alan Winterrowd for letting me know about a Sherlock Holmes project on Kickstarter that sounds truly fascinating: Baker Street, a role-playing game based on the world of Sherlock Holmes!
When I was a pre-teen, I used to play a bit of Dungeons & Dragons, and although I didn't stick with it, I still find the concept of old fashioned pencil and paper role-playing games interesting. The Baker Street RPG is apparently licensed by the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Estate. It looks like it's going to incorporate quite a few elements from Victorian history, and of course deductive reasoning will play a large part in the game as well. (So, instead of being a half-elf warrior, you could be a "Victorian Boxer.") As with all Kickstarter projects, the game's developers are offering different incentives for different levels of support.
Sherlockian RPG fans may well find this game an irresistible combination. If they raise the money they need, then quite literally...the game's afoot!
[The following post is my first one for submission to the website I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere (to be published there sometime soon). I'm looking forward to writing the occasional piece for them, as well as for this blog.]
If you're a fan of quirky music, as I am, you've no doubt encountered the duo known as They Might Be Giants. What you might not know is that the band borrowed their name from the title of a 1971 film starring George C. Scott (based on a play by the same name). They Might Be Giants tells the story of a millionaire named Justin Playfair who, after the death of his wife, begins to think he is the great detective, Sherlock Holmes. He wears the famous deerstalker cap, smokes the calabash pipe, and makes Holmesian deductions about strangers he meets. He is befriended by a psychiatrist named Dr. Mildred Watson, who at first attempts to analyze him. The two develop a friendship that is not unlike the friendship between the canonical Holmes and Watson.
You can read a fair review of the film in Alan Barnes' book Sherlock Holmes on Screen, and the film is available for streaming at Netflix. The YouTube clip below (from early in the film) shows George C. Scott's rather straightforward and competent Holmes imitation. (Sherlockians will enjoy the presumably intentional canonical reference of Dr. Watson's patient being named "Mr. Small," a character from The Sign of the Four.) Moreover, the presence of a female "Watson" in this film is more evidence that Elementary's Joan Watson, who has been so controversial for so many Sherlockians, is not as groundbreaking as everyone seemed to think!
Although it's not really a "Sherlock Holmes film," in the strictest sense, They Might Be Giants is well worth watching for the Sherlockian material that makes the film's premise so intriguing. Think of it as a "Sherlock Holmes as Don Quixote" tale in a contemporary setting. Indeed, the title of the film appears to be an indirect reference to Don Quixote's predilection for "tilting at windmills," under the impression that they are terrible giants. The following dialogue from the film makes this connection explicit, and sums up the basic thrust of the film:
Watson: God! You're just like Don Quixote, you think everything's always something else.
Have you seen the film? What did you think?
I believe I was rather young when I read The Hound of the Baskervilles for the first time. Was I in fourth or fifth grade? I don't recall exactly when it was, but I'm fairly certain that I was inexperienced enough in Holmesian matters that I was unaware of the novel's status as a "placeholder" to keep fans happy between the killing off of Holmes in "The Final Problem" and his resurrection in "The Empty House." No, to that young boy, The Hound was an exciting adventure story, with much to recommend it to a my imagination: a killer hound, the misty moors, Holmes and Watson on the case to figure it all out. I even recall being very amused by the opening chapter featuring the deductions from Dr. Mortimer's walking stick. A classic Sherlock Holmes sitting room scene, if there ever was one.
Imagine my excitement, followed by my disappointment, when I was a freshman in high school, and I auditioned for the fall play of The Hound of the Baskervilles...and wasn't cast at all. I had hoped to play Holmes, and I think I ended up being the stage crew member who got to pull the curtain open and closed. The role of Holmes, of course, went to a senior who wasn't even all that good an actor. (I don't recall who ended up playing Watson.) I ended up being cast in a different murder mystery play in my sophomore year, one that was much inferior to The Hound of the Baskervilles.
As an adult, I've enjoyed The Hound of the Baskervilles several times, and it still brings back some of that youthful feeling of nostalgia, maybe even more than reading A Study in Scarlet or The Sign of Four. As a "placeholder" to keep the fans happy, I think it does an admirable job (even though, by many reports, it failed to keep them happy). It certainly seems to be the most sophisticated novel of Doyle's career, which is probably the reason that it's been so often published as a literary classic, quite apart from its place in the Holmes canon. And as far as film adaptations go, it's certainly the most popular. My personal favorite is the Hammer Films version of 1959, starring Peter Cushing as Holmes. Cushing is excellent, and you get the added bonus of the deep-voiced Christopher Lee as Henry Baskerville. The version produced by Granada TV starring Jeremy Brett is decent as well, while the Rathbone/Bruce film produced by 20th Century Fox in 1939 is disappointing to me. I'm sure other Sherlockians have their own favorites, where The Hound is concerned.
I'll close with a little quote from The Hound of the Baskervilles that is particularly memorable. Whenever I read it, I swear I can hear dramatic soundtrack music in my head.
The Straight Dope is a question and answers column that started in the Chicago Reader (a free weekly newspaper) in 1973. The article below is copied from the Straight Dope's website, and is a pretty good, concise "Sherlock Holmes 101." The article originally was published in 2003.
I've been a fan of The Straight Dope since the mid 1980s, when I read the first collection of articles, published in 1984 (as pictured to the left).
Did Sherlock Holmes really exist? April 8, 2003
I've just been browsing the internet to see what I can see in the way of Sherlock Holmes links, and I came across a couple sites which I found interesting:
I mentioned The Oxford Sherlock Holmes in an earlier blog post about "Sherlock Holmes in Print," but I thought I'd spend a little more time on the collection in this post. You see, I recently got a little closer to acquiring the whole set; I had found three of the nine volumes used online awhile back, and now I've just gotten two more, with two on the way. Finally, I found the other two volumes that I needed as Kindle ebooks, which will complete my Oxford collection. (Word of warning if you're looking for the individual volumes on Amazon: if you just search for "oxford sherlock holmes," you may get other editions of the books, without annotations, that Oxford University Press has released over the years. So be careful.)
Some Sherlockians may find the Oxford annotations to be rather a let-down, especially if they're used to Baring-Gould's Annotated Sherlock Holmes, or Leslie Klinger's New Annotated Sherlock Holmes. The Oxford editors approach the canon purely from the standpoint of fictional literature, authored by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. No "Sherlockian Game" for the Oxford folks! However, the introductions are full of useful information about the publication history of the stories and novels, and many of the notes have useful background on historical references found in Doyle's work. Moreover, the Oxford notes quite usefully point out differences in text between English and American editions of the canon, as well as meanings of words that are different in modern usage, or words that are no longer used in contemporary English.
In a novel such as A Study in Scarlet, for example, which contains numerous references to Mormon history, the Oxford notes can be absolutely indispensable. A good example comes in A Study in Scarlet in the second part, which is, of course, mostly a flashback to Jefferson Hope's background in America on the Mormon frontier. One of the Mormons who rescues Lucy and John Ferrier refers to "the Angel Merona." The Oxford note reads as follow: "Angel Merona: the Angel was in fact called Moroni, whose Irishness ACD may have subconsciously rejected. He was the son of Mormon." (I can't help but think, the way the note is written, the syntax makes it seem as if ACD was the son of Mormon!) These kinds of historical/literary details are very useful to help the modern reader appreciate the Sherlock Holmes canon more fully.
The interested reader may like to know that the full 9-volume set of The Oxford Sherlock Holmes is available as a box set (pictured above), so it's not necessary to acquire the set piecemeal, as I have done over the past few years. However, it's rather pricy--$199 or more. Incidentally, the Kindle versions that I have of a couple of the volumes are nicely laid out, with in-text links to the annotations, which enable the reader to flip back and forth between text and note, without the tedious flipping of pages one has to do with the print versions. (In print, the notes are all at the end of the book, which enables the reader to read the stories without being interrupted constantly by footnotes.) I would say The Oxford Sherlock Holmes collection is a must for any serious Holmesian's collection.
So far, I've had a pretty good response to Baker Street Babble, from friends, family, and more than a few Sherlockians! I've been working hard to make the site look good, and to have lots of content that will be of interest to Sherlock Holmes fans, as well as those with a casual interest in the great detective. Here are some of the updates that may interest those who have begun following my site:
I encourage anyone who is enjoying this site to let me know if there are other things you'd like to see on Baker Street Babble, either by commenting on a blog post or by dropping me a line on the "Agony Column" form. Thanks for stopping by!
Don't worry, I haven't heard any news that Sherlock Holmes will be coming to Broadway (or the West End) any time soon...but you never know. At least two Sherlock Holmes musicals have been seen on the New York or London stages in the not-so-distant past.
In 1965, there was the Hal Prince-produced musical Baker Street, which ran for about nine months before closing. The production was reportedly plagued with all kinds of problems, but interestingly enough, featured Tommy Tune and Christopher Walken(!) in their Broadway debuts (both credited as "one of the killers"). Also, Peter Sallis, who would later become famous as the voice of Wallace in the Wallace and Gromit animated films, played Dr. Watson. The plot was loosely based on "A Scandal in Bohemia," adding Professor Moriarty and a ticking time bomb into the mix. I have the CD of the Original Cast Recording, and it's not horrible, although it does come off sounding like a second-rate My Fair Lady. ("And it's so simple, sublimely simple/if you learn not just to see, but to observe/put your brain to work, not just the optic nerve!")
A couple decades later, in 1988, Leslie Bricusse (well known for his writing with Anthony Newley) wrote a musical called--what else?--Sherlock Holmes: the Musical. This musical, which apparently couldn't compete with the other big West End musicals of the day (Phantom of the Opera, Les Miz, etc.) starred Ron Moody, who had played Fagin in Oliver!, as Sherlock Holmes. The plot apparently dealt with a 1901 confrontation between Holmes and Moriarty, and introduces a new character: Bella Spellgrove, the daughter of Professor Moriarty! The show had a limited run in London, and was briefly revived in 1993 with a new cast. According to Wikipedia, "Critical response to the show's original production was largely negative." You can hear a duet between Bella and Holmes from the 1993 revival in the YouTube clip below. It's not too bad...a little slow.
So will Holmes ever return to the musical stage? To be honest, I wouldn't be at all surprised if he did. Stranger things have hit Broadway: trains on roller skates (Starlight Express), Tarzan of the Apes (Disney's Tarzan: the Musical), a murderous barber (Sweeney Todd: the Demon Barber of Fleet Street), and even a murder mystery or two (The Mystery of Edwin Drood and Clue: the Musical). Will we see Elementary or Sherlock become musicals, or something completely unique? Only time will tell...
I'm a stay-at-home dad, and Director of Music Ministries at a United Methodist Church in Mt. Juliet, TN. And a longtime fan of Sherlock Holmes.