An Actor of Many Colors For those who may need a Benedict Cumberbatch encounter before the next Sherlock film airs, we draw your attention to the Benedict Cumberbatch Unofficial Colouring Book, part of a series called "Colour Me Good." Grammatical problems aside, it may be just the thing to keep the BBC's star detective top-of-mind during the long hiatus between his Sherlockian turns. The book is available widely, including at amazon, where both new and used copies are offered. That said, your webmaster is constrained to point out that purchasing a used copy of a coloring book might be imprudent.
Seeing Red: An Elementary Omission On June 12 the Washington Post published a review of a new book by art critic Jacky Colliss Harvey entitled Red: A History of the Redhead. The book traces red hair throughout the ages and across multiple disciplines, including science, religion, politics, feminism and sexuality, literature, and art. But alert Red Circle member George Spencer noticed that there was no mention of a certain Mr. Jabez Wilson and his fellow applicants to The Red-Headed League. George's letter to the Post was published on June 26. It reads, "The June 14 Book World review of Red: A History of the Redhead by Jacky Colliss Harvey, had many interesting tidbits, but it lacked a reference to the Sherlock Holmes story "The Adventure of the Red-Headed League," published in 1891. The fact that one of the stories was so titled shows that late-19th-century Londoners were aware that redheads were something out of the ordinary." Good catch George! And if you'd like to read Ms. Harvey's review, you can find it here.
The Silver Blaze: Sherlockians Cash In on a Breeder Named Watson Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course played host to 29 Sherlockians attending the revival of the Silver Blaze (Southern Division) on May 23. This 29th running and the first since 1998 brought with it a beautiful day. Attendees from a half dozen regional Sherlockian societies dined on crab cake sandwiches and scoured the Racing Form for Sherlockian clues to help them pick winners. The Silver Blaze was a mile and a sixteenth run on the turf track, and many put their money on horse number 6, I'm Da Big Man, whose breeder's last name is Watson. And a wise choice it was, because he won the race handily! The winner's trophy was presented by Joann Dobry, the lady who made the longest trip to join the fun. Afterward, many in the group repaired to the nearby Mount Washington Tavern to squander their winnings on dinner and continue their conversations and merriment. Organizer Greg Ruby tells us that plans are already underway for the 30th running at Pimlico on Saturday, May 14, 2016.
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 online here, with a pdf version also available here.
Hark! The Herald eBay Thing From London, Roger Johnson points out an unusual plaque he discovered for sale on eBay. The seller admits he has no idea what the heraldry means, but describes the iconography as the deerstalker and pipe of Sherlock Holmes, a truncheon and handcuffs, a fountain pen and broken sword, stripes, with the red hand of Ulster in the center. The plaque was sold for £12.50 (about $19.00). Both Jean Upton and your webmaster think that the pen and sword probably signify "The pen is mightier than the sword," and that the plaque might represent an Irish mystery writers' group. But we'll probably never really know.
The Exercising Men The Washington Post is out with its 2016 calendar, featuring the work of their fine photographers. Terry Rettig alerts us to the image for September, captured by Jonathan Newton, which reveals a line of early risers exercising in front of the Reflecting Pool. The Red Circle has it on good authority that Mr. Holmes is already hard at work finding the hidden meaning, although he might find it a somewhat more daunting task than cracking the code used by Elsie Patrick Cubitt and Mr. Slaney. Still, it should not go unnoticed that the photographer was standing on the steps of Abe's Memorial. We are confident that the great detective will eventually get to the bottom of it all, and reveal to the world the message from these daybreak over-achievers!
The Times hated it! When The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes was first published in the United States, the New York Times took a dim view of the effort. "The reader leaves Mr. Sherlock Holmes at the bottom of a Swiss precipice, smashed into smithereens, and with the sincere hope that Mr. Doyle will never resuscitate him." So much for spoiler alerts. The Times hadn't been any kinder when the first group of stories was published by Harper Brothers in 1892. They panned The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by saying of the detective, "You get a little weary of his perspicacity." Now the Times has published these reviews--and more--under a short cover piece by Mark Bulik. The whole package is a must read, and you can find it here. This illustration is the cover of your webmaster's copy of the Harper Brothers edition of The Adventures. It's the 1900 printing, not the rare 1892, but it is still fun to read from a volume that was printed while so much of the Canon was yet to be written!
What's the double meaning of this? Russian Sherlockian Alexander Orlov notes that this ad for the London production of Hamlet starring Benedict Cumberbatch is open to more than one interpretation. Of course, when we see it we're meant to think, "Alas poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio." But Mr. Orlov suggests that another passage also fits: "A cast of your skull, sir, until the original is available, would be an ornament to any anthropological museum." That's Dr. James Mortimer's professional judgment early in The Hound of the Baskervilles after impertinently asking to run his finger along Sherlock Holmes' parietal fissure. It seems that, try as he might, Mr. Cumberbatch cannot escape the thrall of the detective at 221B.
William Gillette's Sherlock Holmes on Blu-ray/DVD Those who enjoyed The Red Circle's theatrical screening of William Gillette's classic 1916 film Sherlock Holmes will be glad to know that they can watch it again at home, now that Flicker Alley has released the combination Blu-ray/DVD three-disc set. In addition to the beautifully restored film, the discs are handsomely packaged with an informative booket, and are loaded with many attractive extras. You can order now at the usual online outlets, and--at a nice discount--from the film's distributor, Flicker Alley.
Red Letter Day for the Red Circle About 100 Red Circle members and friends converged on the Bethesda Row Cinema on September 26 for the Washington Metro Area premiere of the 1916 classic film Sherlock Holmes, starring William Gillette. Peter Blau introduced the screening, noting the overwhelming impact of Gillette's performances onstage and in this film on the early popularity of the great detective, and on his subsequent staying power. It was clear after watching the marvelously restored film that a great debt is owed Mr. Gillette by Sherlockians past, present and future.
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.
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