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The Dissecting Room . . . September 1993

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Bliss, 1993

Okay. Suppose you got to go to some really trendy part of the country, like Mew Mexico, maybe, for a Sherlock Holmes workshop. And you got there and they had guacamole dip and sangria and gave you a free t-shirt and showed you all sorts of Sherlockian video bites. Then, like, the head of the Baker Street  Irregulars  and  the  head  of  the  Adventuresses  of Sherlock Holmes showed up and actually talked to you, because it turns out they're just regular guys (except for maybe the head of the Adventuresses, 'cause she's definitely not a guy, which is cool). And then the World's Greatest Sherlockian dropped in and said it's okay if you come over to his house and see his stuff. And you went. Wouldn't that be great?

Excuse me. Whenever I think about how I spent the first weekend in August I keep lapsing into beer commercial riffs and "Wayne's World" metaphors. Maybe it was the part where Kathy and Greg and I were cruising down Rodeo Road in Santa Fe, head-banging along to some old Black Sabbath heavy metal tune. Maybe it's because whenever the Adventuresses show up in any number it seems like the words "It's party time! Excellent!" apply.  Or it could just be the way we kept wanting to fall to our knees before notable Sherlockians, salaaming, and shouting "We're not worthy! We're not worthy!" like Wayne  and Garth do whenever they meet celebs  like Madonna or Alice Cooper.

Or maybe I just had such a great time at the Sherlock Holmes conference in Santa Fe that I can hardly restrain myself to proper Sherlockian metaphors. So forgive me if this column is the result of a giddy delirium ...  it's basic message is this; myself, wife Kathy, and friend Greg (Ewen) broke out of our Bob Burr non-travelling mode and went to the Holmes workshop in Santa Fe and had a GREAT time. Here are some highlights:

-- Katherine McMahon. Katherine was one of the very first Baker Street Irregulars. In 1934, she was one of the fifteen who  gave  Christopher  Morley  the  correct  solution to his Holmes  crossword  in  The  Saturday  Review  of  Literature. According  to  Morley,  those  fifteen  would  "automatically become members of the Baker Street Irregulars," but due to a bit  of  masculine  bureaucracy,  Katherine's  paperwork  was delayed until 1991. She was a delight to meet, though she over-modestly referred to her appearance as "dragging out the dinosaur."

-- The  Fifteenth Annual  Francis  Hay  Moulton  Memorial (Uninterrupted) Breakfast. They had to shut off a wing of the Kettle Restaurant for this one, as the noise was too much for everyone  else  in  the  restaurant,  including  a  squad  of hardened military troops and some bikers. A scion society for left-handed  people  formed  spontaneously  when  they  all gathered at one end of the constantly growing table so as not to get into elbow-battles with us righties.  John Farrell hosted. Dore Nash dropped by. Need I say more?

-- A  Giant deerstalkers from the Rose Bowl Parade.

-- A The Adventuresses of Sherlock Holmes.  They gave a terrific presentation on Shaw and their own origins.  They also gave us some beer and chips.

-- A The Audience-Interactive Porlock Workshop,  conceived and moderated by Graham Sudbury (with a name like that, he has to do PBS). Much as I'm none too excited by The Valley of Fear, the discussion of Porlock's true identity with written input from "twenty-one outstanding Sherlockians" (one of whom was our own Robert C. Burr) and three live panelists was pretty lively. I fully intend to steal this idea to cover a different topic with our own scion.

-- A Video by Paton and Gassner. Jennie Paton is perhaps the leading expert on  Holmes  appearances  in  video,  and  her incredible montage of clips boggled everyone's brains. C. Bryan  Gassner  annually  undertakes  to  put  on  a  video production of a different Holmes story using a talented cast of elementary school kids, and brought the best to show us.

-- Apparently Dick Miller tried to blow up the college during his talk on Watson's firearms habits. We were touring John Bennett Shaw's library and missed it.

-- People! The whole list of who was there was amazing and I wish we could have had a week with the lot of them. Bob, we have to go to New York!