Saturday, March 25, 2017

Blighter's Wrock

There's a line from a song by one of my favorite Folk singers, Stan Rogers; it's off of an album called TURNAROUND, and the title of the tune is called Try Like The Devil......

....demons on my shoulder,
Smiling to show me the way.....

There's one for ambition,
And another for greed;
Here's a big one,
He's a drunkard,
But the easiest to feed;
It takes a strong man to ignore them,
And a rich man to drive them away.....

We all have these, right?

Mine have been screaming at me, the closer I get to finishing a particular project.  I write, I edit, I rewrite, and I log off thinking that it's not bad, and a long back in the next day thinking it's a load of badly written crap.

I've never been able to wrangle the demon into silence; and I've never finished this project.


Sunday, March 5, 2017

Dreaming of Baker Street on a drive to Minneapolis.

A year or so back, I found myself a member of a group in Minneapolis called The Norwegian Explorers of Minnesota.

No, it doesn't really have anything to do with exploring; and you don't have to be Norwegian.  But their meetings take place in Minnesota; usually in St. Paul.

It's a Sherlockian Society.

As most of you know, I'm a fan of Sherlock Holmes.  And have been since I was about 14.  The same year that Benadryl Cumbersmash was born.  And Johnny Lee Miller was only 4.

In the summer of 1976, my Father decided that I was going to do some reading*, and he assigned me a book, TRAVELS WITH CHARLEY, by John Steinbeck#.  I hated it as only a 14 year old boy could.  And so, after berating me a bit for my lack of patience, he assigned A STUDY IN SCARLET.

Cue the trumpets; I was hooked.

Of course, it had to a fandom kept mostly to myself; 14 year old boys that I knew had no interest in fictional characters, unless, of course, they were named Starsky or Hutch.  But that was okay; I had this thing to occupy my time, for here were more stories to read.

As I discovered as I moved on, there were movies with a guy named Basil, and a television series with a guy named Jeremy Brett, and eventually, pastiches written by everybody under the sun, and plays, from every time period you could name.....

Here was a guy who used his BRAIN.  Who could, simply by looking at someone, discern details that seemed like magic.  And he used these gifts to do right.

It's no wonder that a 14 year old geek, who had no physical gifts but a top-notch brain, become a life long fan.

I got to play the character in '00, in a theatre in California; it was a kind of heaven.  One review stated that I was, "embodying the character, rather than playing him."  I should have quit right then, called the career a success, and moved on to washing cars for a living.  Or something.  Because it was never going to get better than that for me, ever.

I have a large collection now, of books, and dvds and memorabilia; a signed photo of Jeremy Brett, a pipe inherited from my Father, a hat purchased in London at the only Museum dedicated to a fictional Character...and yes, I spent a glorious afternoon there......

But some people spend their afternoons as LEGOLAND and nobody bats an eyelash, so don't stare at me, buddy.

And my fandom of the Great Detective was like a gateway to others.....Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe, J J Marric's Inspector Gideon, Ellery Queen, Ellis Peters' Brother Cadfael (as well as Umberto Eco's Friar William of Baskerville in THE NAME OF THE ROSE), and all the 'detective fiction' from Wilkie Collins (THE MOONSTONE) and Poe (RUE MORGUE) to Patricia Cornwell's Kay Scarpetta and Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone.

So, every so often, I go over to Minneapolis on a weekend and sit in a room and talk for several hours about a specific story with a group of like-minded individuals, and they marvel at the fact that I travel a long distance to do so.

I do it so I feel that sense of belonging that has long been missing.

Well, and the Mall of America.

And the Park Square Theatre.

But mostly the Norwegian Explorers.

*My Father insisted that he assigned me THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES, but I'm sure it was SCARLET; he also assigned me Mark Twain's TOM SAWYER, though he swore it was HUCKLEBERRY FINN. 

#STILL haven't read this one yet.  But I did inherit it, so there's hope.