Monday, July 31, 2017

Movie Night Double Feature


On Saturday night, The Parallel Case of St. Louis revived our irregular movie nights.  As you can see in the picture above, we had quite a turnout.  Over 30 people joined us for a double feature of "Without a Clue" and "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother."

Our own group made up a good number of the attendees, providing many great snacks for all present.  (I wish I had taken a picture of the snack spread that took up two tables!)  Many of the other attendees came from the publicity we received from Cinema St. Louis and the Monday Movie Club.


We should all be very grateful to Nellie, whom orchestrated this whole event.  Nellie scheduled the room at the St. Louis Ethical Society, created the flyer for the event, coordinated publicity with Cinema St. Louis, set up the room and the DVD player and projector, and served as emcee for the evening.  We may never get Nellie's limits!

Many of us had seen one or both of the films on DVD before this weekend, but we all agreed that seeing the movies with an appreciative crowd was a great experience and made for a very fun evening.  Michael Caine's portrayal of Sherlock Holmes was especially enjoyed by the crowd.


Our next meeting is on September 9, at the usual location, the Schafly Branch of the St. Louis Public Library.  We will meet to discuss "The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor."  And you can bet discussion of our successful movie night will be at the top of the docket, as well.

After an unofficial poll, it's safe to bet that movie nights will be back again, but our group will have to discuss how often we would like to host them.  Please join us if you'd like a say in the matter, or just for a great and friendly discussion of a great canonical story and current happenings in the world of Sherlockiana!


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

July Meeting Recap

The Parallel Case met on July 8 to discuss "The Adventure of the Engineer's Thumb."  We had a great turnout and discussion!

As usual, we started off with general Sherlockian news.

First off, if you haven't heard yet, we are having a Sherlock Holmes movie night on July 29!  RSVP to parallelcasestl@gmail.com if you'd like to join us.


Speaking of film and movies, the group talked about the BBC America Sherlock Holmes marathon that would be airing the day after the meeting.  Seasons one and two of BBC's Sherlock Holmes and Robert Downey Jr.'s first Sherlock Holmes movie were on tap.  Also, the renewal of CBS's Elementary was discussed and its start date.

The Insight Theater of St. Louis will be performing "Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery" in October.  You can order your tickets here.

The Noble Bachelors of St. Louis are sponsoring a Silver Blaze race at Fairmount Park in August.

Rob has a new Sherlockian book, The Criminal Mastermind of Baker Street coming out in November and has started a blog, Interesting Though Elementary with weekly posts.



And then it was time for the story!  A quick thank you to Tassy, who took notes on the group discussion this month.

The group wondered about Hatherly.  He admits that no one would miss him if he disappeared, goes to a mysterious meeting in the dead of night with a near stranger and when he senses a crime has been committed, brought it up with the presumed criminal!  An odd man, indeed.

Proper medical care of a thumb amputation and wound dressing were discussed, as well as the Paget drawing above.  After a demonstration for the group on how Hatherly's thumb would have been cut off, it was decided that the illustration did not match up with the hand/thumb position in the story.

The group felt that Holmes wasn't his best in this case and did very little detection or deduction, really only recognizing the significance of the horse being fresh rather than sweaty.  And he failed to find the fleeing criminals: an odd-looking German, his wife and his large British friend driving in a carriage with, what we presume, was a big load of coining materials.

The story wasn't a favorite by anyone in the room, and people wondered what the support for it in About Sixty would be.  (You'll have to buy your own copy of the book to find out!)

The similarities between this story and The Greek Interpreter were explored.

A thought was brought up that maybe this was an example of moralistic storytelling on Watson's part.  Was this a cautionary tale about the sin of greed?

Before ending, the group talked about the high prevalence of counterfeiting rings, especially coining operations in 19th century England.

Our next meeting will be on September 9 at 1:00.  Our next story will be The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor.  If convenient, come at once!

Friday, June 23, 2017

The St. Louis Sherlockian Collection


Unbeknownst to (or forgotten about by) many of the Sherlockians in the St. Louis area, there was once a library collection of scholarly works available to anyone that wished to use it.  In the 1990's, Mary Schroeder was teaching at McKendree University in Lebanon, IL, just 30 minutes from St. Louis.  While teaching there, she started a Sherlockian library collection that included many scholarly works and a beautiful pencil drawing of The Great Detective.


Mary later moved on from McKendree, but the collection stayed at the university's library until recently.  With the help of Michael Waxenberg, Mary found a new home for the collection at the St. Louis Public Library's Rare Books and Special Collections Department at their main branch downtown.  This move will make the collection more accessible to people in the St. Louis area.

Randy Getz and Mary moved the entirety of the collection from Illinois to its new home downtown in April, where the librarians are currently cataloging each item so they will be available to the public.  During a recent Parallel Case meeting when we were discussing the project, Bill Cochran offered to donate a complete run of the Baker Street Journal to the collection, making every piece of BSJ scholarship available to anyone in the St. Louis area.  At our May meeting, Bill showed up with his promised BSJ's as well as three more boxes of Sherlockian.  Mary and I delivered The Cochran Addendum to the Rare Books and Special Collections room last month, almost doubling the size of the collection.


When this collection is cataloged by the librarians, thousands of articles and scores of books will be available for academic research or recreational reading to anyone interested in the Special Collections room.  This is a large undertaking, and as of our visit last month, the librarians had only cataloged a portion of the original McKendree collection.


The current goal is to have the McKendree Collection and the Cochran Addendum cataloged and added to the shelves by this fall, with the library hosting a reception for Sherlockians to see just what a treasure trove we have right here in St. Louis!  Once the St. Louis Sherlockian Collection is ready for unveiling, we will make sure to let everyone know.  And if you see Mary, Bill, Michael or Randy, please make sure to thank them for all their hard work creating a great Sherlockian gem!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

May Meeting Recap

The May 13th meeting of the Parallel Case of St. Louis was another great discussion!  This month found Rob, Pris, Elaine, Bill, Cheryl, Joe, Brad, Stacey and Nellie welcoming new members Tassy and Paul to the group. 

We started the meeting with recaps of current events: 

The McKendree collection has been transferred to the St. Louis Public Library, and they are in the process of cataloging the contents of the collection.  Bill and Cheryl brought along four more boxes to donate to the collection as well.  As soon as we know a timetable for the dedication, we will pass it along to everyone.

Nellie took the lead on coordinating a movie night.  It will be a double feature of “The Adventure of SherlockHolmes’ Smarter Brother” and “Without a Clue” and we are asking for $10 per person to cover the cost of renting a room.  There is not a definite date set as of yet, but we are looking for an afternoon in late June or July.  A survey will be sent out to anyone that might be interested in attending.  If you are interested, please email Rob at parallelcasestl@gmail.com

The Noble Bachelors of St. Louis are sponsoring a Silver Blaze race at Fairmount Racetrack on August 19.

This meeting was dedicated to “The Adventure of the Speckled Band” and if you know much about Sherlock Holmes, you know this is a favorite of many Sherlockians.  Rob pointed out that the podcast Trifles has done a nice episode discussing some of the finer points of the story.

Our discussion of the story started off by discussing the sad fact that Watson implies that Helen Stoner had died by the time he published the story, only leaving her a few years of life after her adventure with Sherlock Holmes.

Much of the discussion centered around the larger-than-life villain of Grimsby Roylott.  Some people questioned if Helen Stoner’s mother actually died in a train accident, or if Roylott had a hand in her demise, similar to the ‘accident’ that met Baron Gruner’s former wife, and why she would marry the man in the first place.  This led to an interesting discussion about the role of women in this society, and especially widows and women with money. 

Keeping the focus on Roylott, we analyzed Holmes’ cool demeanor when facing the man.  Tassy pointed out Doyle’s masterful use of “show, don’t tell” when telling this story.  Roylott is another in a long line of doctors in the canon, and we wondered how Watson would have felt about chronicling all of these evil men of his own profession.  Stacey pointed out that doctors were commonly feared by the public during this time, so Doyle was playing to his audience with this villain.

Before we could get to the actual investigation, we all wanted to talk about Roylott’s menagerie of exotic animals.  The Stoner girls knew of Roylott’s baboon and cheetah, so we bantered why anyone would want those types of pets.  Joe pointed out that cheetahs could be trained to be fairly friendly and were seen as a sign of power, and the cheetah and baboon would certainly discourage any unannounced visitors to Stoke Moran.

Along with the animals, Roylott had the band of gypsies that stayed on his property, and we talked about how gypsies were treated in Victorian society and today.  Brad presented his theory on the gypsies that you can read on his blog.  We all agreed that Doyle’s use of gypsies in the story made for a great red herring.

Rob also pointed out that Watson started off the story by saying that he wanted to address the widespread rumors of Roylott’s death, and Holmes and Watson were seen by at least one townsperson asking about and heading to Stoke Moran on the day that Roylott died.  Are these the rumors that Watson needed to address?

And then it was time to talk about the snake.

It’s impossible to talk about the “The Speckled Band” without addressing that there is no such snake as a swamp adder, a snake kept in a safe would suffocate, that snakes die if they drink milk, snakes can’t hear whistling, and they can’t climb a rope. 

Once we got all of that out of the way, Nellie taught us about the differences in hemotoxins that would be found in most adders, and neurotoxins found in cobras, and how each would affect their victims.  We also discussed the logistics of Roylott keeping the murderous snakes.  Did he have it on hand just waiting to use?  Did he order it once Julia Stoner announced her engagement?  Was a second snake procured when Helen announced her engagement or was it the same snake from two years prior?  If a snake can’t climb a rope or drink milk, did Roylott train a mongoose to retrieve the snake each night?  What if there was a second snake in the room with Roylott and that’s what actually killed him?

Once we had exhausted all of our conversations about the murderous snake, we went back to Roylott.  We all agreed that the man was a fantastic villain, but was he the best?  This led to an extended discussion if Roylott was a better villain than Moriarty.  Lots of opinions were shared during this discussion, and it’s safe to say that we didn’t come to a consensus on that question!

Before we wrapped up, Joe shared with us a dark lantern that he had and explained just how it worked, Bill told us about Doyle's play based off of "The Speckled Band," Tassy told us about her new blog, FreeRange Sherlockian, Elaine showed off her copy of Dining with Sherlock Holmes, Stacy recommended The Art of the English Murder, and Rob recommended Arthur and Sherlock.


Our next meeting will be on July 8 to discuss “The Engineer’s Thumb.”  If convenient, come at once!

Monday, March 13, 2017

March Meeting Recap

After being snowed out in January, we were able to get back together for a great meeting this month.  Eleven people were in attendance, and we had a lot to discuss!

First of all, there were plenty of freebies on the table.  Two recent issues of the Baker Street Journal were up for grabs, as well as over a dozen back issues of the Holmes and Watson Report out of Peoria.

Joe Eckrich gave everyone a recap of the BSI Weekend that he attended back in January.  We discussed the "I Am Sherlocked" event that was held at the Science Center last month.  Not only were there great displays and events, we got to meet a lot of new people at the society table as they came up to talk with us that night.  After that, we moved on to the annual Noble Bachelors of St. Louis dinner that was held the night after the Science Center event (it was quite a weekend).  This year's dinner hosted 35 local Sherlockians.  This led us to talk about the renewed Sherlockian activity in the St. Louis area.  No matter the cause of the resurgence, everyone was glad to be a part of it.

Mary Schroeder filled everyone in on the status of the Sherlockian research collection currently being housed at McKendree University in Lebanon, Illinois.  As of April 10, the collection's new home will be the St. Louis Public Library, as part of its rare books and special collections archive.  Bill and Cheryl Cochran pledged to donate any needed copies of the Baker Street Journal so that the St. Louis collection can boast a full run of the BSJ.

We briefly touched on the latest season of BBC's Sherlock, with the group split on its opinion of the latest episodes, and then moved into a discussion of books.  New releases, Arthur and Sherlock by Michael Sims and The Whole Art of Detection by Lyndsay Faye both received good reviews from members.  Prisoner of the Devil by Michael Hardwick, A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas, Dust and Shadow by Lyndsay Faye, and Audible.com's new version of the complete Sherlock Holmes stories read by Stephen Fry were also recommended.  I Hear of Sherlock's new podcast, Trifles, got a good review as well.

At last, it was time to discuss "The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle" [BLUE].  Our discussion ranged far and wide.  We started off trying to figure out exactly what "compliments of the season" means, and why Baker and Peterson were out drinking away from their wives on Christmas Eve (this may have had to do with Baker's wife not loving him anymore.)  We analyzed what Ryder had been doing during the five days between the theft of the carbuncle and when he met Sherlock Holmes, as well as an in-depth analysis of Holmes' analysis of Henry Baker's hat.

To everyone's delight, Nellie Brown had some background knowledge of geese, and talked about the fact that even though geese don't have crops, there is a space in their throats where the stone could have been hidden.  Rob Nunn brought up Peter Blau's old theory that it was a typographical error, and that the stone wasn't found in the goose's "crop," but in its "crap."  Nellie explained the role of a goose's gizzard to us which shot down that theory, no matter how much it made us laugh.

We debated the actual size of the stolen carbuncle, and Bill told us of research he did into the Countess of Morcar, tracing her lineage back to Lady Godiva.  As so often happens with this story, we went back and forth on if James Ryder should have been set free, and what impact this whole event would have had on the innocent plumber that still lingered in jail at the end of the story.

The meeting wrapped up shortly before 3, and we all headed back out into the snow.  Our next meeting will be on May 13 to talk about "The Adventure of the Speckled Band."  Come at once if convenient.  If inconvenient, come all the same.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

November Meeting Recap

The Parallel Case of St. Louis met on November 12 to discuss "The Man with the Twisted Lip."  We had a good turnout and a great discussion on the case!

The meeting started with general discussion, including our updated website, Facebook page and Twitter account.  We also discussed the possibility of bringing back movie nights in 2017.  A copy of the newly published collection of essays, About Sixty: Why Every Sherlock Holmes Story is the Best edited by Christopher Redmond, was passed around and got good reviews from those of us who have read it so far.

Another topic discussed was Sherlockian collection currently being stored at the McKendree University library.  For those of you that remember, Mary Schroeder had a nice collection of Baker Street Journals and other Sherlockian writings that were stored at McKendree.  Mary has since left McKendree but the collection has remained there.  We are in the process of finding a new home for the collection, preferably one that is more accessible to Sherlockians in the St. Louis area.  If you know of a possible home for the collection, please email us at parallelcasestl@gmail.com.

The group also took time to talk about the passing of Gordon Speck, BSI.  Gordon was well liked by everyone that met him, and many members were able to connect with old friends at his service.  Gordon was a prolific member of the Occupants of the Empty House scion in southern Illinois.  Joe shared information that the 2016 Occupants' booklet would be a collection of 37 articles all written by Gordon and reminiscences from those whose lives he touched.  The 75 page book is available for order by sending a check for $21 to Bill Cochran.  Proceeds from the book will go to the University of Minnesota Sherlock Holmes collection and Coats for Kids in southern Illinois.

Our story this month was "The Man with the Twisted Lip."  The conversation kicked off with the general feeling that all three wives in the story were really mistreated by their respective husbands.  We also covered the John/James controversy, just why Holmes was staying at Mrs. St. Clair's house, and if Holmes had one or three dressing gowns throughout the canon.  The geography in the story was another popular topic, and Michael Harrison's In the Footsteps of Sherlock Holmes was mentioned as a great resource for anyone interested in Victorian London geography.

We also got to see what exactly a wax vesta is, and discussed other books by Doyle.  The meeting wrapped up at 3:00, and we all plan to meet again after the holidays on January 14th to discuss the classic winter tale "The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle."  Hope to see you there!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

November Meeting Date

Our next meeting will be this Saturday, November 12th at the Schlafly Branch of the St. Louis Public Library (225 North Euclid Avenue).  This month's story is "The Man with the Twisted Lip."  Come out and join us!