Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sherlocking in Vienna

If there is anyone out there who reads my blog, you must be a very patient person. It has been nearly three months since my last post. I have not always been this lax. When Brad Keefauver and I were churning out SherlockPeoria as a weekly blog, I never missed a deadline. For 520 straight weeks, my article would be edited and complete and on time. It was send immediately to Brad and the new post  would be up on the web. I am quite proud of tat run in Sherlockian publishing.

It seems now days that I have more excuses than some pimplied youth explaining why their essay was not turned in on time - The Hound of the Baskervilles ate it; I was ironing and it burned up in a Silver Blaze; it was ran over by a Solitary Cyclist. Well, you get the picture. I won't use any of those excuses. Let's just say I am as busy as a one-armed Beekeeper.

My final deadline for the first book I am editing for the Baker Street Irregulars International Series, moved up by a year. I thought I had until 2016 and it turned out to be due before 2015. I am preparing my paper for the 2015 Japanese Sherlock Holmes Conference, where I will be one of the main speakers. I have completed a Power Point presentation for the Afghanistan Perceives' 40th Anniversary in September and I have written an article for Canadian Holmes. So you can see I have not been to much of a slacker, except when it comes to my own blog. It seems I have blogged down.

Finger Sherlock enjoying some sachertorte and Viennese coffee.
So now I am in Vienna, Austria for my job. Instead of going to the Freud or Mozart Museums, here I sit, blogging to my faithful followers, all 3 of you, my wife, my son, and my two daughters. They told me there would be no math involved with blogging. So I carried along my second favorite traveling companion, Finger Sherlock and we had quite a few adventures.

St. Stephen Cathedral
One of the more fascinating places I visited was St. Stephen's Cathedral, which the Viennese lovingly call "Steffl" and it is one of the city's main landmarks. This is one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in the world. There has been a church on the site since 1147. The building seen today was created in stages beginning in 1303. The south tower reaches a height of 450 feet. A companion north tower was never completed. Instead, a Renaissance-style dome was built in 1579 where the Pummerin, a 44,380 lb  bell made from the metal of cannons captured during the second Turkish siege of 1683 now sits.

Street vendors are a great place for a walking lunch as I can attest to several times over, but no trip would be complete with sampling a fine cup of Viennese coffee and eating a sachertorte. This is  a flourless chocolate cake served with whipped cream. There are too many museums to see in a lifetime but the Freud Museum is worth an analytically visit. There are also museums for Beethoven and Mozart.

I will leave you with these few tid-bits of to think about and who knows, I might post again in a few months.

Happy Blogging!!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure

Somehow I believe the title of this play is misleading. Let's see a show of hands of all of you that think this will be the Last Adventure of the Great Detective? Just as I thought, not a single hand.

The Wyly Theatre is staging Steven Dietz's adaptation of the 1899 William Gillette and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle play. This production is directed by Kevin Moriarty, need I go on? Okay, I will.

The Wyly Theatre is located in the heart of Dallas' Arts District and is an architectural marvel. The stage juts out into the seating area and is surround on three sides by the guests. This performance is broken into two acts separated by a 15-minute intermission.  The actors were superb and the sets were fantastic. The scene at Reichenbach left know doubts as to where it was for anyone that has been to the falls. The setting rooms and gas chamber were equally well crafted. The ingenious switch from locomotive to railway carriage was subtle but profound.

This brings us to the play itself. It never seemed to taken its own life. Maybe it was Moriarty's direction but something seemed just slightly lacking. All said, however, I would suggest anyone that have not seen it, head downtown Dallas and attend.  The play runs through May 25 but somehow I feel it won't be Sherlock Holmes' Final Adventure.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


Lo Gossàs dels Baskervilles  2014. 

Last week I received an email from my friend and fellow collector Takahiko ENDO directing me to a webpage that showed a translation of the Hound of the Baskervilles in what appeared to be a language we were not familiar with. As I delved deeper, I discovered the book was translated into the language Occitan. Quickly, I added it to my database for the Galactic Sherlock Holmes as the 101st language with a Canonical translation. It was premature excitement on my part.

As is turns out, Occitan is a new language (in the Sherlockian translation sense) but I have Gascon listed which turns out to a dialect of Occitan. I have corrected the Galactic Sherlock Holmes making Occitan as the language and the two Gascon editions are now listed under it with notes stating that is is a dialect not a different language.

The source I use in determining languages is Ethnologue. This is what they say about Occitan and Gascon. There are a total of 218,310 speaker of Occitan. In France the speakers are in the Auvergne, Gascogne, Languedoc, Limousin, and Provence provinces. There are other speakers in Andorra, Spain, and Portugal.  Occitan is classified as an Indo-European, Italic, Romance, Italo-Western, Western, Gallo-Iberian, Ibero-Romance, Oc language. There are several dialects including Auvergnat (Auverne, Auvernhas), Gascon, Languedocien (Langadoc, Languedoc, Lengadoucian), Limousin (Lemosin), Provençal (Alpine Provençal, Mistralien, Prouvençau, Provençal). Highly fragmented dialect situation, with limited intelligibility between some varieties.

Lo Chanhàs deus Baskervilles 2001
The two editions published in the dialect of Gascon are both listed in the Galactic Sherlock Holmes. I have added the images of those two book as well as the Occitan edition. I suppose the confusion initially started because in Gascon the title is Lo Chanhàs deus Baskervilles  and in Occitan it is Lo Gossàs dels Baskervilles. In the language Catalan, the title is El gos dels Baskerville. Catalan is very similar to Occitan and it is classified as an Indo-European, Italic, Romance, Italo-Western, Western, Gallo-Iberian, Ibero-Romance, East Iberian language. The only difference is Occitan is Oc and Catalan is East Iberian. The rest of their classifications are identical.

There are about a dozen other languages spoken in France. One of those languages, Breton has published the Hound. Throughout Europe, there seems to be a push to revive older, regional languages. Let us hope there are more Sherlockians out there willing to keep the memory green in these languages. It is always exciting for my hobby, pursuing the next Sherlockian translation and adding it to my collection.

Happy Collecting!!
Lo Chanhàs deus Baskervilles 2012

Friday, February 7, 2014

Sherlockian After Burners

Here I sit in the Sherlockian Blogger's Slow-Lane and in dire need to kick it into high-gear and get the lead out. At the end of last year, I switched jobs and it has been time-consuming. Don't you just hate it when work/career related issues get the way of 'Sherlocking?'  

For those that are unaware, I was the media darling for a few short weeks. In January, the local ABC affiliate, WFAA's Good Morning Texas ran the piece they did in my library back in March. "Meet a North Texas Man With A Large Sherlock Holmes Collection" aired on January 7, 2014. Here is the link to that particular video.

Steve Mason. Herb Linder, Don Hobbs, Joe Fay, Stu Nelan.
Following that bit was my annual New York City trip to attend the Sherlock Holmes Birthday Celebration Weekend. The Texas contingent went in full force and represented our state in excellent manner. I attended the Distinguished Lecture along with a roomful of other like-minded Sherlockians. This year's Distinguished Speaker was Dr. James O'Brien , emeritus professor at Missouri State University and author of Edgar Award winning The Scientific Sherlock Holmes. Afterwards, I headed off to the The Daintiest Thing Under A Bonnet Ball, where I presented a toast to Altemont in Mock German. The Baker Street Babes sponsor this event to raise money for the Wounded Warriors. 

On Friday I was off to the Mysterious Book Shop where I ran into Ray Betzner. He was speaking to a young lady and then told her she should speak with me. It turned out she was a reporter for the London Guardian and was there to do a piece in conjunction with PBS' Sherlock season 3 premiere on that Sunday evening in the USA. Here is that article. I have been getting some grief because in the article, I am referred to as the 'legend' Don Hobbs - go figure. Here is that link:

Don Hobbs and Sonia Fetherston, BSI - The Solitary CyclistD
Friday rolled around and I attended the BSI Dinner held at the Yale Club. My friend Sonia Fetherston revived her schilling as The Solitary Cyclist. It was a joy to witness her sheer delight. The dinner was exceptional this year and full of surprises. You will have to ask someone else to reveal those surprises to you because my lips are sealed.

The cast of usual suspects appeared at O'Lunney's Irish Pub where the tradition of staying until at least 2:21 in the morning was well heeded and exceeded. Everyone there exercised their livers quite sufficiently. 
A few of the O'Lunneytics

My Saturday morning was spent in the Dealer's Room where I shared a table with some of the Dallas Sherlockians. I sold many copies of my Sherlockian art book and some of the blank note cards I created from covers of some of the more interesting foreign editions in my collection. I also made matching envelope liners.

CBC Sunday Morning News aired the piece that Mo Rocco did in January 2013. Once again, I had good on-camera time and since most of the Sherlockian community knew that it was going to run, I was the toast of the town during the Sunday Morning Brunch held later that morning. FYI, here is that link: 

According to the late Andy Warhol, everyone gets their fifteen minutes of fame. I must be extra special because I had my forty-five minutes of fame during January. Now I will just have to slide back into the slow-lane. Well at least until the next round.

Happy Blogging!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Game's Afoot

Addison’s Water Tower Theater staged Ken Ludwig’s “The Game’s Afoot” over the holiday season, so what better way to celebrate than to see it with a group of like-minded Sherlockians. That is exactly what The Crew of the Barque LONE STAR did last Saturday night. Three-quarters of a dozen attended the play (that is nine for those mathematically challenged). It was the first time I had seen the play and thoroughly enjoyed it. The Dallas Morning News slightly slammed it for not being a Sherlock Holmes play but those in the know, are perfectly aware of the major role William Gillette played in the Holmes mythos.

Anyone lucky enough to have visited the Gillette Castle in East Haddem, Connecticut, would have appreciated the set. My wife Joyce and I recognized the front room of the castle straight away. The wood and stone interior is very distinct and difficult to miss. The play takes place inside the front room of the castle, where Gillette is recovering from a gunshot wound suffered on stage of the final performance as Sherlock Holmes in New York City. He invites the cast members to his castle for a Christmas weekend. When one of the guest is stabbed in the back, Gillette dons his Sherlock Holmes persona to find the killer. The hilarity is non-stop.

Front room of Gillette's Castle
Director Robin Armstrong steers actors Greg Holt as William Gillette, Allyn Carrel (Martha Gillette), Randy Pearlman (Felix Geisel), Sherry Hopkins (Daria Chase) and the rest of the cast through tightly staged scenes where timing is of the essence. The entire production came off flawlessly. Even the non-Sherlockians attending laughed and applauded at all of the right spots.

Afterwards, those brave enough to stay up past 10 pm, migrated to The Lion & Crown, a local pub with extremely loud music blared out at us as we walked in, however, good Sherlockian Karma set in because we were afforded our own private room with a pool table. We ate, drank and acted merry before settling down to some Sherlockian business discussions. Tim Kline, Joe Fay, Steve and Pam Mason, and Joyce and yours truly rounded out the group of late night revelers. We ended the evening discussing the upcoming Birthday Celebration Weekend in New York City over a few pints of the local brew.
Exterior of GIllette's Castle

Happy Blogging!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

He's Back

So the reports of my demise were a bit premature. I really am alive and well and still in the Sherlockian world of the living. Back in August, I was laid off from my job and for 15 weeks I was on the unemployment dole. It is difficult to justify buying books when one is out of a job, especially books that one cannot read. I did manage to add a few new ones but nothing to write about (pun intended).

Where to start, where to start?

I was one of the guest speakers at the "Sherlock Holmes Through Time and Place" Sponsored by the
Norwegian Explorers and the University of Minnesota. My talk, "He Has the Collection Mania, in it's Most Acute Form" was well received and I had many compliments. Maybe they were feeling sorry for me. I also managed to sell a good number of my book of Sherlockian drawings.

In September I drove to Houston where Lyndsay Faye held a book signing at Murder By The Book. She had a sterling turn-out for the second book, The Secret Seven, about the forming of the New York City police department. I joined her and the owners of Murder by the Book for dinner at a local Mexican restaurant before heading back to Dallas.

With Lyndsay Faye at Murder by the Book

Joyce and I enjoying another glass of Oregon Pinot Noir
In October Joyce and I ventured to Portland for our anniversary trip. This was already planned before the stint in the unemployment line so we carried through with our holiday. We met up with Sonia Featherston and she acted as our designated driver, hauling us around the Willamette Valley to a plethora of vineyards. Sonia wrote the 2012 Baker Street Journal Christmas Annual and is currently working on a biography of Bliss Austin.
Jerry and Judy Margolin; Marsha Pollak; Moi, Sonia and Ben Featherston; Joyce

We were joined for dinner that night by Sonia's husband, Ben, Marsha Pollak, Judy and Jerry Margolin in Salem, Oregon where Sonia and Ben live.As usual a grand time was enjoyed by all. Joyce and I spent the next day exploring downtown Portland. There was a fun downtown  Saturday local artist's market and of course we had to visit Voodoo doughnuts. This iconic shop is open from 6:00 am to 2:00 am seven days a week. There is an average 30 minute wait regardless of when you arrive. They are noted for their creativity and especially the Bacon Maple log. It did not sound too delicious but never judge a doughnut by its name. This is a treat not to be missed.

VooDoo Doughnuts
The next thing to report is my latest Red Dog painting by Chattanooga artist Mary Lisa Chesnutt. We have a dozen or more of Mary Lisa's paintings and several years ago she painted a Red Dog Sherlock Holmes, then as is the temperament of the artist, she moved on to other artistic projects and refused to revisit the Red Dogs. Finally, about a year ago I convinced her that Red Dog Sherlock Holmes needed his Red Dog Dr. Watson. Mary Lisa came up with a long list of excuses why she never started the promised Dr. Watson painting and out of the blue she called to tell me that Red Dog Dr. Watson was ready for delivery and if I did not like him, she would repaint him. Ha! me not liking anything Mary Lisa does is as likely to happen as I am to sell all of my Sherlock Holmes books. Needless to say, I loved Red Dog Dr. Watson and when he arrived the only issue was where to hang it. We now have 6 of her Red Dog paintings

Red Dog Dr. Watson by Mary Lisa Chesnutt
Well, this caught us up a bit. I am sure I could find some more items but I must save a little something for next. So until then....

Happy Blogging!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Sherlocking In San Diego July 18 - 19, 2013.

One of the advantages of living in Dallas and having an office in San Diego is the opportunity to visit there on an irregular basis. I recently was there for work and by pure luck it was also the same weekend as Comic-Con, the largest such convention on the planet. One of the regulars there is The Baker Street Irregular's own, Les Klinger. I contacted Les and we arranged to meet on Thursday night at the party sponsored by Kristina Manente and the Baker Street Babes.

Off  I went and before I knew it, I was absorbed into more than 100,000 Trekkie's, Zombies, Vikings, Superheros, and Baker Street Babes that were wandering the Gas-lamp District in beautiful downtown San Diego. I saw more Spidermen in two blocks than I could count. I even spotted a homeless man, pushing his shopping cart load of aluminium cans dressed as Captain America!.

The Baker Street Babes are into Sherlockian fandom and can quote Benedict Cumberbatch and Johnny Miller better than many Sherlockians can quote the Canon. They rented an entire bar and drew more than 400 guests. I met Kristina, Betsy Rosenblatt, and Les at the upstairs bar. Our conversation consisted mostly of hand gesticulations because the noise level were louder than the roar of Reichenbach Falls.
Don Hobbs, Betsy Rosenblatt, Les Klinger, the BSI contingent at the Baker Street Babe's Party
We arranged though a series of written notes, signal flares, and an assortment of other non-verbal communication methods to meet the next night for dinner.

On Friday we met at Masala's, an Indian restaurant that amazingly had enough room to host a small army. I am glad that mere mortals have not discovered Indian food. We were joined by Tony Lee, or more correctly we joined Tony because it was his restaurant of choice. It turned to be one of the best I have ever visited. Tony is a friend of Les' who is a writer from London. He was elated upon arrival, having just signed a 2 book deal. 
Kristina Manente, Betsy Rosenblatt, & Tony Lee.