The View from Sherlock Peoria (181)
November 20, 2005
A Tums for my Sherlockian Pie
Being faced with writing a column on Sherlockian life every single week is a challenge in more ways than one would expect. First, of course, there is just the act of putting the words to computer on a regular basis. Tough at first, but after a couple of years . . . not so bad. Then comes the really big challenge: finding material. Well, one can always resort to a bloggish “this is what happened to me this week” in a pinch. But the third obstacle that one encounters is a real bastard. And that one has been coming ‘round a lot of late.
What happens when weeks pass without any Sherlockian activity whatsoever? Not only a lack of Sherlockian activity, but a total ennui with what Sherlockian events are taking place? Too much of the same-old, same-old in the mainstream. No local scion to liven things up. And it’s fall, which means the BSI invitations are being sent out . . . to people who apparently aren’t those I correspond with most on Sherlockian matters.
And with a weekly column to write, the temptation to just start firing off grumbling and whining is enormous. One falls into the sort of mood captured in the song “American Pie,” by Don McLean. One starts feeling like he could easily start paraphrasing McLean’s never-ending lyrics and begin singing about the day the Sherlockiana died.
And then, I open up an envelope from Saturday’s mail and see a picture of a Sherlockian with a gun to her head, and the world looks a bit brighter.
The photo on the cover of The Illustrious Clients News couldn’t be more self-explanatory to any Sherlockian who has completed the required reading: the woman, the gun with string attached, the stone (or maybe concrete) balustrade of a bridge . . . these are the accoutrements of “The Problem of Thor Bridge.” Yes, their model Pam Wampler does seems much more Grace Dunbar than Maria Pinto Gibson (a sequel tale?). And the unrelated inset photo of Les Klinger would seem to imply that she’s doing herself in over some spurning from Les (or maybe she just doesn’t want to hear his talk in December). But the overall effect is marvelous: somewhere out there, Sherlockians are still doing experiments to re-create Canonical events.
The details inside the newsletter are even more exciting: The Illustrious Clients have even undertaken to film the events for their own Sherlockian version of the popular show “Myth Busters.” (Though one wonders how they got past Pat Ward trying to get them to film it as an episode of “C.S.I.: Indianapolis” or “Monk.”)
But with the Clients, one never has to depend upon just the one good feature per issue. They always manage to squeeze six or eight spirited columns and articles, current news and meeting photos. By the time you get to the fiberglass cows wearing the hats of Holmes, Watson, and Lestrade in this issue, there can be no doubt that in at least one spot in the world, Sherlockiana is as lively and inspiring as it ever was in the seventies or eighties.
Other Sherlockian societies are out there having fun as well. My fellow columnist Joe Dierkes (Inspector Hopkins) even has a good report of a great event in Baltimore in this week’s Sherlock Peoria. Having fun with a goodly number of Sherlockians is not hard to do. Packaging up that fun, however, in something as simple as a newsletter . . . well, that’s a much harder trick. Usually just one or two pairs of Sherlockian hands are involved in a society’s newsletter, and while one person’s editorial voice can be amazing, it’s still just the voice of a single person. The voices in The Illustrious Clients News seem to be more like the chatter of a party, from Don Curtis’s welcome on the second page, through Pat Ward’s whispered Gruner gossip on the third, and onward. Editor Steve Doyle contributes a goodly chunk of the content, but he’s good enough at what he does that you never think of it as “Steve’s newsletter.”
But I’ve sung the praises of The Illustrious Clients News before, and I’m sure I will again. Many a Sherlockian publication could learn from Steve and the gang, but I won’t belabor that point. Suffice it to say that no matter how cheerless a chilly, gray day starts out, I’ve never opened a newsletter from the Clients without getting a smile. And that’s what being a Sherlockian is supposed to be like.
Your humble correspondent,