Sunday, October 5, 2014

Sherlocking in Scandinavia Part II

Part II of my Scandinavian adventure began on Friday morning when I departed from Hjørring. I checked out of my hotel and walked two blocks to the train station. Inside, there was a 7-Eleven store and this is where I purchased my ticket. I exited the train at the Linholm station, where I planned on catching a taxi to the Aalborg airport. I was approached by a small, white-hair lady who asked if I was going to the airport. When I answered yes, she kindly told me the bus would drop me right at the terminal and cost about a tenth of a taxi. She was also headed there, so we chatted for about fifteen minutes, waiting for the bus. Her name was Beatrice, she told me and she had worked two years in Los Angeles for a Danish opera singer. She was sweet and friendly. We bid each other farewell and went off different terminals.

My flight to Stockholm was uneventful, arriving about three in the afternoon. I like to think of myself as a sophisticated and seasoned traveler, pretty hip to what’s going on around me but even so, I can occasionally make boneheaded mistakes. I deplaned and walked down the concourse and found my hotel which was right there in the airport. I was booked for two nights and the next day, Saturday, was my visit to Bålsta where Mattias Boström lives. My concern was how I was going to get back in the hotel, thinking all along I was still in the security zone. I took my concerns to the front desk and she explained that I would be able to check-in twelve hours before departure. When I got back to my room, it hit me that I would have to check-in without bags, the go out through security the next morning with my bags and go back through the security lines. I went back to the front desk with my new concerns. After several minutes the girl at the desk realized my error and kindly told me I was outside security- problem resolved. Nearly as soon as I had deplaned, I had exited the secure area. It was not well defined as it is other places. Oh well, you live and you learn.
 
Holmes Road in Bålsta
I awoke on Saturday and had a leisurely morning. I ate breakfast, showered and then played on the computer. I needed to catch bus 579 from terminal 5. This bus travels between Aranda (the airport) and Bålsta. The entire trip is just under an hour. Mattias told me to take the 1:08 bus and when I arrived, he was there awaiting. He had invited his friend and fellow Swedish Sherlockian Morgan Malm. He lives in Uppsala and his bus arrive about four minutes prior to mine. The three of us piled into Mattias’ car (not a Volvo) and headed out. We made one little side-stop for a photo-op at Holmes Street. I was pleased to know I am not the only one that does these sorts of things.

Mattias lives on a quiet residential street in Bålsta. We were greeted at the door by his wife and small daughter. We removed our shoes as is the Swedish tradition and ushered in to a house full of books – my kind of place. Right off the bat, Mattias pulled out a large box that was full of duplicates. He told me I could have as many as I needed. I selected maybe a dozen, I had limited means of getting them back with me. It was my first time to meet Morgan, so the next hour was spent chatting over the many filled bookcases and exchanging Sherlockian battle stories with each other. Mattias drifted in and out of our conversations, sharing his time between cooking dinner, tending to fatherly/husbandly duties, and adding his own Sherlockian battle stories.
Chef Mattias

Mattias’ collection has many, many one of a kind Swedish treasures. Several things I simply drooled over, wishing they had sisters and brother in Texas. Of course there were plenty of things there that I did have copies of at home. Mattias works at a publishing company in Stockholm and Morgan teaches high-school literature. He held edited, proof-read and offered suggestions to Mattiäs’ books From Holmes to Sherlock. He also helped with Mattias’ other literary works. They told me about their upcoming trip to London and Leeds. We talked all things Sherlockian for another two hours when it was time for dinner. If Mattias ever decides to give up being a Sherlockian, he might want to become a chef. Morgan and I were served roast beef, done to perfection, potatoes, and sautéed red bell peppers, carrots, and snow peas. This was accompanied by a delicious Spanish red wine. Homemade apple pie and vanilla sauce finished the meal. All that remained was another ninety minutes of more Sherlockian conversation. One can never get enough of this fine thing. After a long final round of good-byes and photographs, Mattias drove us back to the train station, where once again our buses were four minutes apart.


During the course of the afternoon, I discovered that I was the first member of the BSI to have visited Mattias. He thanked me several times for coming but in reality, it was me that was honored. I am very thankful being a Sherlockian and having the ability to visit great people around the world. The world is such a large place and because of the world’s first consulting detective it makes nearly every place 221b Baker Street.
Three amigo, Mattias, moi and Morgan


Happy Blogging!!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Sherlocking in Scandinavia Part I

It is a rough life but someone has to do it and ‘it’ was what I found myself doing a couple of weeks ago. I was scheduled to work in the Jutland area of Denmark in the small town of Hjørring. I discovered, after a quick visit to an online map, that it was about the same distance and cost if I flew into Oslo, Norway, Stockholm, Sweden, or Copenhagen, Denmark. All three of these destinations had connecting flights to Aalborg, Denmark. From Aalborg, I still had another 50 kilometers to cover before reaching Hjørring. I have never been to any of these places so I chose Stockholm because, believe it or not, I know a Sherlockian living nearby. I quickly checked by friend Mattias Boström to see if he was available; he was and I set my plans in motion.

I have known Mattias for many years. He received his investiture into the Baker Street Irregulars a few years back. His talk followed mine in Minneapolis last year. He has bought many, many Swedish books on my behalf over the years. So I left Dallas and flew to London. From there I flew to Stockholm then to Aalborg. With delays and plane changes and other hiccups, I arrived in Aalborg, Denmark, more or less 24 hours after I departed Dallas. It is amazing how small favors can appear larger than life. I experienced this when I deplaned and Kurt Buus from Siemens Medical was there waiting for me. I was not aware that he was going to do this but I was more than relieved. At 9:30 in the evening at the Aalborg Airport, there is not a great deal going on. I did not see a single cab and I am sure if I had found one they would not be very happy at the prospect of driving me the 50 kilometers to Hjørring.
1914 Bank in City Center Hjørring

We were staying in the same hotel. I found this very ironic until I discovered later that the Phønix Hotel was the only hotel in Hjørring. I was still more than pleased. I checked in and immediately checked my email and found a message from Palle Schantz Lauridsen. He had seen I was in Copenhagen and suggested we have coffee, but it was just a layover. I messaged him back offering better planning on my behalf if and when I return to Copenhagen. Next message was from Jens Byskov Jensen. Jens lives about three hours south of Hjørring but without a car, it was impossible for us to get together. Then he offered plan B. He told me there was actually a Sherlockian living right there in Hjørring! He sent a message to Thessa Jensen (no relation) introducing us. She contacted me and we arranged to meet on Thursday after I finished work.

Thessa arrived right on time on Thursday and we headed back down to Aalborg. We had a lovely drive and by the time we arrived at Aalborg University, we were best friends for life. This is the way Sherlockians are, after one meeting, it is like you have always been friends. Thessa works as a researcher of Fandom - Dr. Who, Star Wars, Star Trek, James Bond, and of course, Sherlock Holmes, just to mention a few. She took me to the 12th floor where hr office is located. A small banner sitting in the window caught my eye. The banner was for the Sherlockian society, The Cimbrian Friends of Sherlock Holmes, illustrated by Henry Lauritzen, my personal favorite Sherlockian illustrator.
Banner for The Cimbrian Friends of Sherlock Holmes


After telling Thessa he was my favorite, she offered, after dinner, to take me to where he lived. Dinner was a four-star feast at a restaurant setting along the fjord dissecting Aalborg. A perfect dinner with excellent wine pairings, including Sherlockian conversation. I was in Valhalla. Dinner began with a lobster bisque with a perfectly chilled Vouvray. This was followed by roast duck breast, varieties of mushrooms and an old vine, Californian Zinfandel, oh my Lodi. Next up was five different Danish cheeses and tawny Port, Finally we were served a selection of white chocolates with local apple ice cream with a Sauternes that was not too sweet but not too dry either. Then I was served my second dessert.


Thessa Jensen and moi, enjoying a great dinner.
No. 60 Vesterbro, Aalborg, Denmark
This was a short drive to No. 60 Vesterbro, where Henry Lauritzen, BSI lived until his death in 1991. My personal Sherlockian business card features a silhouette of Holmes drawn by Mr. Lauritzen. As we were outside taking photographs a young couple walked up and asked why we were there. They were there to meet a friend who lived in the building. Thessa embellished that I had flown in from Texas JUST  to visit this very place. Intrigued, the youngsters wanted to know more. Then we were joined by the residential friend, who was equally interested in which famous person had lived in his building, I suppose an obscure Sherlockian artist, dead for nearly a quarter of century, did not pique their interest too much. They just looked at each other and bid us good-evening, It was great for me and that's what matters. It was time to head back north to Hjørring and a perfect Scandinavian Sherlockian evening wound down. Thessa and I said our good-byes and promised to stay in touch, but being Sherlockians this was just a formality. All Sherlockian stay in touch and we are no different. It is now time for part II of my Scandinavian adventure - off to Sweden.

Happy blogging!!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Sherlocking in Mexico City

Work found me in Mexico City recently. I had been there in May and because the site is a military hospital they are strict, they do not allow Internet connectivity, so when the site had a small issue, I had to fly back down there to fix it. The last time I was there, I hired a driver to take me from my hotel to the airport. Jaime Island (A good Mexican Name) gave me one of his business cards and said if I ever returned, contact him. This is exactly what I did. He was waiting for me upon arrival.

On the final day I finished work around one in the afternoon and was back at the hotel by two. The hospital provided transportation to and from the site. I decided to do a little site-seeing and book shopping. I went to the concierge's desk to ask about getting a cab. When I got there, who should I run into but Jaime. I hired him to drive me into town. He explained that most of the used books stores was in Zona Rosa with many on Calle Donceles. We were off in a flash.

Jaime is the perfect driver. He let me ride in the front seat of his big black Ford Explorer, where he explained each area we drove through. He gave the history as a local and lover of the city, not as a text book professor. Soon, we arrived and this small one-way street was lined on both sides with used book stores. It reminded be of Way-On-Wye, Wales. Jaime told me that in Mexico City, there were many areas like this - a particular street selling a particular item. Donceles sold used books. A couple of streets over sold mostly wedding dresses and another just electronic equipment.
Bibliofilia: Libreria Anticuaria


He let me out and I bought five books in the first shop I went into and three more in the second. In every shop, the novels were all very organized in alphabetical order, All I had to do was to locate the 'D' section and look for Doyle. A few of the shops I visited had a subsection for Mystery Books but most were all under 'Novelas'  As I would walk from shop to shop, Jaime would pull a little ways down the street, park and wait for me. This was convenient for me because I could drop off an armload of books from one place and then venture into another shop, repeating the process.

I ended up buying about twenty-five used Spanish editions of the Canon that day. It started pouring rain, so I ended up not going to several other shops. This will give me cause to return the next time I have to go to Mexico City to make repairs.

I have more than four-hundred different Canonical translations in Spanish and in one short hour, I was able to add twenty-five more. This gives a slight idea of just how many translations exists. The oldest book I bought was from the thirties and the newest was from the neties. It just means I will still be finding things as long as I am alive, which I hope is a long time to come.
Part of my haul in Mexico City.

Happy Blogging!in

Monday, September 22, 2014

Sherlocking with Jim Cox

As a Sherlockian, I have the luxury of visiting fellow Sherlockians around the globe. Michael Whalen, Wiggins of the Baker Street Irregulars, once told me I was the Johnny Appleseed of the Sherlock Holmes world. It is rare, however, to have another Sherlockian visit me. This was the case recently when Californian Jim Cox flew in for a long weekend stay at my house. 

I fetched Jim at DFW International Airport. We then drove the few short miles to my house in Flower Mound. Joyce was there awaiting our arrival and after a few hugs and kisses we headed out for pizza. Jim and I have known each other for the better part of two decades. We have attended Sherlockian events on both coasts as well as in Kansas City, Omaha, and Minneapolis. I have been to San Francisco numerous times for work and for pleasure, but this was Jim’s first time to be at my place. We ate and then upon our return, we retired to the library.

Two amigos in the library.

Friday was a full workday for Joyce and me so we left Jim home, alone. He acted better than Macaulay Culkin on many levels. The Hobbs-House tradition, especially when out-of-town guests are involved is to go to Mia’s Tex-Mex on Friday night and stuff ourselves with their world famous Brisket Tacos. We stuck to our plan and Jim was thoroughly stuffed and impressed. We returned home for another round of perusing the library.

Saturday was free from any obligations except hitting as many bookstores as possible. Our first stop was 30 miles north in Denton, home of Recycled Books and Records. This place is one of those throwbacks to an era when used book shops were a mass of cluttered nooks and crannies, piled high with possible unknown treasures. It is one of those places that is impossible to explore without several hours. This is precisely what we had and did. Jim amassed a double-armful of books before we departed. Jim also discovered that the old adage ‘Everything is Bigger in Texas’ also applies to Sherlock Holmes, as the picture below proves. He was equally impressed when the owner of the shop came out to personally thank him (for dropping a wad of cash on an otherwise slow Saturday).
Everything, even Sherlock Holmes books are larger in Texas

Sunday was the regular monthly meeting of the Crew of the Barque LONE STAR. Jim had prepared a talk on Christopher Morley. The fellow shipmates were an attentive and interested audience. After the meeting, Dean Clark joined us at our house for dinner and more Sherlockian revelry. We ended the evening with copious amounts of red wine. Jim was left on his own again on Monday. He had a six o’clock plane to catch so I picked him up after work and drove him to the terminal.

Even though the four days flew past, we accomplished a great deal in the allotted time. It was mutually agreed that we would do it again before too long. Jim was already making plans to return in September and ride with me to Tulsa, where I will giving one of the talked for the Afghanistan Perceivers during their Fortieth Anniversary meeting on September 20. So with that, all I need to say now is…

Happy Blogging!



Friday, September 19, 2014

Sherlocking in Munich

Me and Richard Kiederle beneath the Angel of Peace statue
One of my favorite Sherlockian stories to tell is how I acquired my Inuit translation of The Hound of the Baskervilles. For those who are not familiar with it, here is the short version. My friend and fellow collector of foreign translations, Takahiko ENDO emailed me, asking if I had ever seen an Eskimo translation. When I answered no, he replied, telling of a fellow in Germany who had a picture of one on his website. That German Sherlockian was Richard Kiederle. So when I found out I was going to be working in Reutte, Austria, I quickly checked out my proximity to Richard. As the ways of a Sherlockian would have it, we were practically neighbors. A quick message of the Facebook and a face-to-face meeting was set for Munich, Germany on Saturday, August 30.

Life-Size Statue of Sherlock Holmes
We have looked at each other's pictures posted on Facebook but never met so Richard chose the spot beneath golden statue, The Angel of Peace (Friedensengel). He said he would be wearing a deerstalker. It was a no-miss opportunity. Needless to say we found each other without a problem. Right off of the bat, Richard handed me a large bag full of German anthologies with Canonical stories tucked away in each volume. He also gave me a hand-size puppet of Sherlock Holmes. This was really special because later in the day, I lost Finger Sherlock and Sock Monkey.

Richard lives nearby so he is quite familiar with Munich. We headed off to find some local books stores. All of a sudden I stopped and pointed up. It was another golden statue but this one was a life-size one of Sherlock Holmes. It was up on a wall in front of a private investigator's office. Even though he knows the city, he did not know this existed. It was just one of the many pleasant surprises we fell into that day.

We found several used bookshops but not a single one held any translations of Sherlock Holmes. Richard remembered there was a bookshop that specialized in mysteries but it had changed locations. So in this day and age, who needs phone books? We were able to find the shop using Richard's Smartphone. We found it was at the corner of Reichenbach Strasse and some other strasse but who remembers that one

By the time we left the bookshop, we were getting hungry. Richard insisted that we go to The Hofbräuhaus am Platzl. This is a beer hall originally built in 1589 by Bavarian Duke Maximilian I as an extension of the Hofbräu brewery. The general public was admitted in 1828 by Ludwig I. We found a table in the beer garden and each ordered a beer. Each glass was the size of a small barrel. We ordered the traditional pork and potato dumplings. The entire day would have perfect except when I got ready to photograph Finger Sherlock and Socket, as we had been doing all day, they were both missing. Richard backtracked our meandering way from the The Hofbräuhaus am Platzl back the Kriminal bookstore but came back empty handed. I could not let this darken a marvelous day so I wrote it off as they decided they needed to live in Germany for the rest of their lives, so said auf viedershen!

Drinking and carrying on at The Hofbräuhaus am Platzl.

Richard and I finally said our good-bye in English and in German, vowing to meet again before too long. Another great Sherlockian adventure.

Happy Blogging!!







Saturday, August 23, 2014

Aventuras de Sherlock Holmes

XIII: El perro de Baskerville

As an avid collector, I am constantly discovering ‘new’ editions. New being a relative word – some of the ‘new’ items I find might be decades old. Many of the things I find are quite mundane yet every once in awhile I come across something that really catches my eye. This is the case of a book I found nearly four years ago. I bought a copy of El Perro de Baskervilles with a very unusual cover. Much to my delight,when the book arrived I discovered it was volume XIII of a series called “Aventuras de Sherlock Holmes.” XIII is 13 for you folks that are Roman Numerically challenged.

I promptly begin searching for others in the series and over the next few months located and bought four more books from the series – III, VII, VIII, and XV (3, 7, 8, and 15). I also found cover images of three others – IV, X, and XI (4, 10, and 11). That is when the efforts to find more ran dry. Every few months I run searches and nothing ever turns up. The covers of these books are very stylized, sort of like El Greco meets Frederick Dorr Steele. But sadly the publisher gave no credit to the artist nor does the artist put their name any place visible on the cover art. Efforts to identify this wonderful artist have produced nothing.


VII: Sherlock Holmes sigue triumfando
VIII: El invincible Sherlock Holmes

1940s Zig-Zag Series

“Aventuras de Sherlock Holmes” was published by Editorial Zig-Zag in Santiago, Chile. This particular series came out in 1935. The publisher is still in business and throughout the years has done some remarkable series. One of their more interesting series, published in the mid 1940s, was “Coleccion “La Lantern”.”  This series also featured some very intriguing artwork. I will write more on this series at a later time.
XIV: La Banda moteada

Then last week, out of the blue, a book scout I use in Santiago, Chile emailed me. He had come across a copy of La Banda Moteada, volume XIV (14) in the series and asked if was I interested in buying it. Of course I replied and just yesterday the book arrived. Now I have six of the fifteen sitting on my shelves and it has renewed the challenge to find the missing nine volumes. These are the types of challenges that collectors love and are what stokes the fire even hotter. I know that one day I will complete this task but I also know, as a collector, there will always be more books to finds! 

Here is the complete of Aventuras de Sherlock Holmes and the rest of those wonderful covers:

Aventuras de Sherlock Holmes I: Un Crimen extraño
Aventuras de Sherlock Holmes II: Triumfo de Sherlock Holmes
Aventuras de Sherlock Holmes III: Nuevos triunfos de Sherlock Holmes
Aventuras de Sherlock Holmes IV: El ciclista fantasma\
Aventuras de Sherlock Holmes V: Cinco Hazañas de Sherlock Holmes
Aventuras de Sherlock Holmes VI: La Mas famosos hazañas de Sherlock Holmes
Aventuras de Sherlock Holmes VII: Sherlock Holmes sigue triumfando
Aventuras de Sherlock Holmes VIII: El invincible Sherlock Holmes
Aventuras de Sherlock Holmes IX: Policia fina
Aventuras de Sherlock Holmes X: Nuevas y últimas aventura de Sherlock Holmes
Aventuras de Sherlock Holmes XI: El problema final
Aventuras de Sherlock Holmes XII: La Resurreccion de Sherlock DH1
Aventuras de Sherlock Holmes XIII: El perro de Baskerville
Aventuras de Sherlock Holmes XIV: La Banda moteada
Aventuras de Sherlock Holmes XV: La Marca de los cuatro.

IV El ciclista fantasma
XI: El problema final
XV: La Marca de los cuatro
X: Nuevas y últimas aventura
de Sherlock Holmes

Happy Blogging!!

* These books are in my collection
** I just have cover scans of these books.  



Saturday, August 9, 2014

Sherlocking at the Perot Museum of Nature & Science


When the Perot Museum of Nature and Science contacted the Crew of the Barque LONE STAR  Dallas’ Premiere Sherlockian Society about hosting a Murder Mystery for their Thursday hands-on lab night, the Crew jumped at the opportunity. After months of preparation, Thursday August 07 was when the fun began. The murder mystery created by the Crew’s Third Mate, Steve Mason, involved the murder of one of the museum’s wealthy donors. The participants were each given one of five packets. These packets contained clues including blood splatter patterns and fingerprints that help clear a suspect or indict them.

http://www.perotmuseum.org/

The evening started with a display table featuring all sorts of Sherlockiana. The next table was occupied by a team of Dallas Police Department fingerprint specialists. They were kept busy with a continuous line of youngsters waiting their turn to be fingerprinted. Oddly enough not very many adults opted for this part of the program. Steve gave a 15-minute slide-show on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes. More than a dozen members of the Crew of the Barque LONE STAR were on hand to help with the arrangements and be stationed at various locations throughout the museum to help participants should they become stuck and need help. 

The Perot Museum is a modern four-story building, celebrating its 2nd anniversaryThe first part of the murder mystery packet was a trip to the 4th floor. There the participants, according to the Inspector’s name on their individual packet, looked for their first clue on one of five montages of characters. Each montage included a single image of Sherlock Holmes, a Sherlockian version of ‘Where’s Waldo.’ Once found, this allowed the 'Inspectors' to travel from floor to floor where they had to match fingerprints and blood splatters  from their packet with one of five on other floors. Each correct match revealed another clue.

The final part was traveling to each of the nine halls in the museum. On each packet, there were clues written down and beneath these clues were numbered spaces. The answers were found in each hall. The corresponding letter for each numbered space was written in the solution space at the bottom of the packet, like an acrostic puzzle. This revealed the murderer. It was very clever and the more than one-hundred participants seemed to enjoy themselves. With ages ranging from four to the eighties, it was quite a feat but then again, we are talking about it's creator being a Sherlockian so it should not be that much of a surprise..

We passed out free Sherlockian-related books and invitations to our monthly meeting. Ironically, the most liked feature of the evening was not the fingerprinting or even Sherlock Holmes. It was the green-taped outline of the murder victim. Nearly every child took their turn lying down inside the figure and trying their best to contort their bodies to match the figure outlined on the floor. It reminded me of Christmas when the kids had more fun with the box the toy came in than the toy itself.

It is our sincere hope to spark the interest in Sherlock Holmes and maybe even add a few new members to the Crew. Only time will tell.

Taped outline of the murdered, wealthy patron....awe.

The Crew of the Barque LONE STAR : Don Casey, Rusty Mason, Steve Mason, Marland Henderson, Stu Nelan, Finger Sherlock,  Bailey Bates, Don Hobbs, Heather Mason, Pam Mason, Jenny Bates, Brenda Hutchinson, Sharon Lowry.
Happy Blogging !!