How Many Sherlocks does it take. . .? Well, 113 London Holmesians donned the customary attire and gathered in one room recently to attempt a Guinness record. Proceeds from the event went to help preserve Conan Doyle's Undershaw home, and the BBC was on hand to document the festivities. See their report here.
. . .and so can never die! Sherlock to begin shooting new programs in January At exactly 2:21pm in London on Wednesday, July 2, the BBC revealed that Sherlock will return for a special episode, followed by three new episodes. Shooting of the special will begin in January, with the series going into production later in 2015. Producer and showrunner Steven Moffat said, “It's a record-breaking run! Of course, it's far too early to say what's coming, but we're reasonably confident that the very next thing to happen to Sherlock and John is the very last thing you'd expect.” There's also been tacit confirmation, in the form of semi-reliable speculation, that Moriarty will indeed reappear in at least one of the new productions, even though he seemed to commit suicide on the roof of Bart's in the sixth film. This would be an obvious homage to the Rathbone films, where Moriarty twice exhibited a remarkable penchant for reincarnation without the writers seeing any need to deliver annoying explanations.The return of Moriarty would also be a fitting tribute to the fine actor Andrew Scott, whose delicious turn as Sherlock's arch-nemesis is worthy of at least one curtain call before. . .curtains again? Air dates for the new programs have not been announced.
Klinger Prevails on Appeal: Sherlock Holmes character and most story elements may be used freely in US Many Sherlockians have followed with interest the federal lawsuit brought against the Conan Doyle Estate by the well known Sherlockian, author and attorney, Leslie S. Klinger. In the face of demands by the estate that Klinger pay it a licensing fee before publishing a collection of Holmes pastiches, Klinger sued the estate contending that since the 50 Holmes tales published before January 1,1923 are no longer covered by copyright in the United States, the use of the characters and plot elements in those stories are not subject to rights payments. The estate's position was that since there are still ten stories covered by US copyright, any subsequent use of the characters was indeed subject to rights payments. On December 23 an Illinois federal district judge found in favor of Klinger, ruling that characters and story elements in the pre-1923 stories may be used freely without paying licensing fees to the estate. The estate appealed the decision, but on June 16 a three-judge panel from the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court's finding in favor of Klinger, noting that the estate's appeal "borders on the quixotic." Your webmaster is delighted to say that he is not an attorney; nevertheless, he finds the appeals court decision fascinating. No matter how one may feel about the issue personally, the ruling is clearly and understandably written, and contains unexpected comparisons. Where else can you find Holmes and Watson, Amos 'n' Andy, Henry IV and Henry V, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Star Wars, and The Pink Panther in a single legal document? (Of course, Peter Blau and/or Roger Johnson will probably tell us!). These references, along with unmistakable wisps of humor, contribute to making 15 pages of legalese a worthwhile read. Click it up here, and see if you agree. It's no surprise that Judge Richard Posner, who wrote the opinion, has been dubbed "the most cited legal scholar of the 20th century" by The Journal of Legal Studies. Despite the unambiguously firm rulings by both the district court and the appeals court, the estate has announced that it is considering a further appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States. UPDATE: On August 4, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the estate to pay Les Klinger $30,679.93, the full amount of the legal fees he incurred in defending the estate's appeal. Writing once again for the Court, Judge Richard Posner said that the estate had engaged in "a disreputable business practice" and "a form of extortion." The estate has appealed to the Supreme Court.
We have four winners! There were four prizes available for successfully solving Washington Mix-Ups, the Sherlockianagram quiz from Dana Richards. We're pleased to announce that we now have four winners, so it's time to congratulate them and reveal the answers. Complete and correct solutions were submitted by Verna Suit, Mary Burke, Caroline Bryan Atkins and Lee Alexander. Well done! If you haven't tried your hand at the quiz, it's worth a go just for the fun of it. And if you've been stumped, the answers now appear on the second page of the pdf document, which you can access here.
Holmes on Jeopardy Back in October 2012 we reported that Jeopardy contestants performed poorly in a full category devoted to Sherlock Holmes (read that story, including the questions asked, in our archive). Now, history has repeated in Jeopardy's uber-tournament of its best players from across the decades. In the program that aired on May 9 contestants once again answered correctly only two of the five questions asked in the category entitled "Sherlock Holmes Stories." Here are the questions. We trust you won't need to look up the answers. 200 Poison darts turn out to be the cause in "The Adventure of the Sussex" one of these Slavic fiends. (no answer attempted) 400 Sea captain "Black Peter" Carey is killed with this weapon. (no answer attempted) 600 There's "The Sign of" this group--Akbar, Khan, Singh & Small. (answered correctly) 800 "The Final Problem" culminates at this cataract. (answered correctly) 1000 "The Man with the Twisted" this feature turns out to be an actor in makeup. (no answer attempted). As James O'Leary points out in calling our attention to the broadcast, while almost everybody seems to know who Holmes is, the general depth of Canonical knowledge seems remarkably shallow, even among Jeopardy's superstar contestants.
We Smell a Rat One of your webmaster's behind-the-scenes duties is to monitor the performance of our website--the statistics that tell us how many of you visit, along with a host of other details. Buried in the blizzard of information is a list of the "search terms" people insert in their web browsers that bring them to The Red Circle. In March someone asked for "The Giant Rats of Sinatra Holmes Society." Many Sherlockians will remember that in "The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire" Holmes says, "Matilda Briggs was not the name of a young woman, Watson; it was a ship which is associated with the Giant Rat of Sumatra, a story for which the world is not yet prepared." The notion is so outlandish that it has been resurrected liberally in both Sherlockian and non-Sherlockian contexts, often in pastiches like the one by Bob Bishop shown above, and usually with a wink. Naturally, when we saw the substitution of Sinatra for Sumatra, it seemed likely that our internet researcher was alluding to the infamous Rat Pack, the legendary troupe of entertainment "bad boys" that included Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Peter Lawford, Joey Bishop and other supporting players. Peter Blau reports that there is no Sherlockian group called "The Giant Rats of Sinatra" in his annals, but recalls that back in 1991 British Sherlockian Roger Johnson asked, "What is huge and furry, has vicious fangs, big ears and a long tail, and sings 'My Way'?" Of course the answer is "The Giant Rat of Sinatra." Roger not only remembers the joke, but adds that his wife Jean Upton memorialized it in a delightful drawing which she's kindly shared with us.
A Tree Grows in England The featured speaker at the Red Circle's March meeting was Alan Rettig, who gave a well-received presentation called "My Sherlockian Family Tree." In it, Alan discussed the intersections between his recently-completed research on his mother's family and the world of Sherlock Holmes. You can read the illustrated text of "My Sherlockian Family Tree" here. (.pdf)
Supreme Court refuses to hear appeal in Klinger case In a one sentence ruling on November 3, the US Supreme Court declined to hear the Conan Doyle Estate's appeal in the copyright suit brought by Les Klinger. The judgment has the effect of upholding Klinger's contention and the decisions of two lower courts that the 50 Sherlock Holmes stories published before 1923 are in the public domain and not subject to rights payments to the estate. The copyrights on the remaining ten stories will expire over the next decade.
The Bear Facts Paddington Bear, the charming mascot of the West London railway terminus of the same name, will star in his own feature film for the holidays. To mark the occasion, no fewer than 50 statues are popping up around the city, each featuring Paddington in a different guise and each sponsored by an actor or other public figure. Naturally, Sherlock Paddington bears the imprimatur of Benedict Cumberbatch. We suspect that Sherlock Paddington will find a place somewhere in Marylebone, and why not? Baker Street is just three short stops from Paddington station on the Bakerloo Line. If you have two minutes, a look at the trailer for Paddington is a fine, laugh-out-loud way to spend them. Watch it here.
A large scale map, I presume? London graphic designer Dex, in collaboration with interior designer Anna Burles, has created what may be the ultimate Wordle: a very clever Literary Map of London. It's both a snapshot of the city's literary history and a brilliantly executed graphic, with Holmes and Watson given proper emphasis and pride of place. In fact, the artist took pains to plot all the literary legends in the corners of the city they most liked to roam or chose to call home. You can view a larger version of the map here, and you can buy your own silk screened, signed and numbered copy here and here.
A Match Made in Baker Street? Your webmaster is occasionally given to mindless web surfing, which recently yielded a list of "niche" dating sites. Some of them are fascinating. You can sign up to find your match at sites called Ugly Schmucks. . .Equestrian Cupid. . .Amish Dating. . .Darwin Dating (don't ask!). . .DiaperMates (please don't ask!). . .Singles with Food Allergies. . .Farmers Only. . .STD Match, and so on. Two of the sites are especially interesting: TrekMatch and VamPersonals. If there are online dating setups for Trekkies and vampires, could there be one for Sherlockians? Further investigation was in order, and we couldn't find a Sherlockian dating site. If you find one, please let us know!
Did You Ever Hear a Statue Talking? Well, I Did If you're outside the Baker Street tube stop in London anytime soon and see people gazing at the famous John Doubleday statue of Sherlock Holmes, don't be surprised if they have their smartphones to their ears. They're not only looking at Holmes, they're listening to him too, thanks to "Talking Statues," a project of the arts organization Sing London. The Holmes effigy is one of more than 30 London and Manchester monuments that will now give you an earful as well as an eyeful. It takes just the tap of the smartphone on a special pad next to the statue, and the phone will ring and entertain you with a two-minute message. The script for the Holmes discourse was written by the prolific author and screenwriter Anthony Horowitz and voiced by actor Ed Stoppard. There's no charge for tapping in to the musings of any of the statues. The New York Times reports that more than 6,500 people lent their ears during the project's first two weeks alone, with the statues of Sherlock Holmes and Peter Pan topping the popularity charts.
Sherlock Resurrected Well, now we know how Holmes snapped back to life! Maybe. The premiere of the third series of Sherlock films made us understand that the way Holmes survived his fall is less important than the effect it had on the friendship between the detective and the doctor. And we take comfort in knowing that any explanation is no less plausible than surviving a tumble into a Swiss waterfall. The BBC has given us a tantalizing seven-minute teaser for the new series called "Many Happy Returns," which is available here, plus a discussion between producers Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, which you'll find here. Happy viewing!
Getting "the dirt" on criminals Many Red Circle members remember that four years ago FBI forensic geologist Maureen Bottrell joined us to share the ways in which modern crime solvers follow "in the footprints" of Sherlock Holmes by analyzing soil, rock and other geological clues. Now comes a new article in the journal Nature which details the adventures of one of Maureen's colleagues, Lorna Dawson, as geologists do more than scratch the surface in pursuit of evildoers. It's a fun read and it's available here.
Sherlockian author wins Oscar for film starring Sherlockian actor As 2010 came to an end, Black Peter reported in his Logbook on this site that a young man named Graham Moore had written a new pastiche called The Sherlockian that had met with some critical acclaim. It was Moore's first novel, and it would not be the last we'd hear from him. Moore went on to write the script for The Imitation Game, the tale of British mathematician Alan Turing's quest to break the Nazi's Enigma code. The film, of course, stars Benedict Cumberbatch in a superb performance as Turing. On February 22 Moore took home the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.
Red Circle Baskerville theater party a smashing success and the Washington Post took note. Read their report here.
Dan Stashower Scores Second Hat Trick Washington writer, Sherlockian and Red Circle member Dan Stashower has won a third major prize for his book The Hour of Peril: The Secret Plot to Murder Lincoln Before the Civil War. The Anthony Award, presented at Bouchercon in Long Beach in mid-November goes on the shelf along with the Mystery Writers of America's Edgar and Malice Domestic's Agatha awards. Dan's first trifecta was for Arthur Conan Doyle: A Life in Letters in 2008. Congratulations Dan!
Here are items that have appeared on our front page feature section, "The Inner Circle," in 2014. We have included those items that may have some continuing interest; however, some of the links in the items may no longer function due to the removal from the internet of the underlying material.
To review the archives of other sections of our website, click here.