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Wednesday, 1 February 2012

THE BSI WEEKEND: A Grand Tale By Lyndsay & Jenn

A Grand Tale By Lyndsay & Jenn
The Baker Street Babes

Once a year, Sherlockians from around the world descend on the city that never sleeps and proceed to deduce the hell out of it.  The Baker Street Irregulars Weekend took place in New York City from January 11th through January 15th, 2012.  Baker Street Babes Lyndsay and Jenn spent the five days partaking of everything that was offered.  What follows is an account of all the fun that was had and the suffering their livers went through. 

ASH WEDNESDAY:  Lyndsay kicked off the Weekend at the earliest opportunity, living it up with the original Babe generation: the Adventuresses of Sherlock Holmes.  Locals and travelers alike flocked to O'Casey's midtown, to quaff beer and bourbon and reacquaint themselves.  We were delighted to see friend Bob Coghill from Toronto (the lovely Barbara Rusch, Peggy Perdue, and Donny Zaldin of the Canadian "A Study in Scandal" conference were also in evidence), as well as many other mates from all over America.  ASH's roster of usual suspects are getting younger by the day it seems, mingling with legends of Sherlockian fabulosity, and this shindig was no exception.  Lyndsay was also chuffed to meet Ashley Polasek, a fellow contributor to the upcoming essay collection Transmedia Adventures of Sherlock, which explores fan tropes and cultural themes in the BBC series.

SACRED SIX LUNCH: Lyndsay was kind enough to invite Jenn along to the Sacred Six Lunch on Thursday afternoon.  It was held at the beautiful National Arts Club.  The club is filled with so much lovely art and furniture, Jenn was pretty sure she was going to break something.  So she kept her hands to herself.  The lunch was an intimate affair hosted by Bill Vande Water
and attended by 10 Sherlockians total.  Much of the discussion around the table included Jerry Margolin’s contribution to A Study in Sherlock, people’s thoughts on Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, and Lyndsay’s upcoming book, Gods of Gotham.  Jenn was able to recruit two more members to the “I Love Timothy Wilde” fan club she started after reading the book (an effort Lyndsay deeply appreciates). 

MORLEY-MONGOMERY AWARDS: "The Morley-Montgomery Award was established in 1958 through the generosity of legendary bookdealer Lew D. Feldman, to be given each year to the author of the best article in The Baker Street Journal.  The original award consisted of $100 donated by Feldman until his death in 1976, and after that contributed by The Baker Street Irregulars," says the Baker Street Journal.  The presentation is held at the Midtown Executive Club, which is excitingly posh.  Also of interest to Lyndsay is the fact that the Award ceremony is an open bar event.  This year's winner was a very charming lady: Sonia Fetherston, for her article "'I Met Harry Murcher': Getting Acquainted with Holland Grove's Elusive P.C."  Go ladies!  

DISTINGUISHED SPEAKER:  Dr. Lisa Sanders, who consults professionally as a diagnostician for House, M. D., applied her skills to determining what goes on in that funny old head of Sherlock's.  She came down in the Asperger's camp, citing lack of social-emotional reciprocity, fixation, repetitive patterns of behavior, and the fact he had only one intimate relationship.  Diagnosing Holmes is always problematic, particularly in that various adaptations always play up one or more aspects of his character--the Brett Holmes is arguably bipolar, for instance, as opposed to Cumberbatch's arguably autistic spectrum portrayal.  And the canonical Holmes can never be known entirely--still, a fascinating speaker and certainly one with an arresting profession.


BSI DINNER:  Lyndsay delivered the toast to Mrs. Hudson at the Yale Club this year, an act made precarious by the fact she chose to wear six-inch fuschia heels.  She didn't fall down, forget her speech or her drink, or suffer any wardrobe malfunctions, so she considers the toast a relative success.  And here it is:

            That Sherlock Holmes and John Watson are the two most arresting men in the history of criminal detection is inarguable.  Watson, both a killer and a healer, an army veteran and a gifted storyteller, is a man of such ingrained contradictions that he had a leg wound in his shoulder.  As if this were not intriguing enough, he had between one and twenty-seven wives, an invisible bull pup, and—most mysterious of all—a moustache. 
            Watson’s friend Sherlock Holmes, meanwhile, is the enigma of the 19th century, an ambulatory paradox.  Holmes’s childhood is as shrouded in the mists as that of a mythical hero.  Gravity has no effect on him, for he can survive a plunge into the most harrowing of Swiss waterfalls.  He keeps his tobacco in the toe end of a Persian slipper, his sandwiches in his pocket, and his eyeballs in the microwave.
            Both men are question marks wrapped in puzzles liberally sprinkled with je ne sais quoi.  (I really don’t.)
            And so I pose the question: which resident of 221 Baker Street would I most like to be, if I could magically transport myself into their skin?
            Mrs. Hudson.
            Mrs. Hudson, I believe it’s clear, was the bravest and most resilient occupant of the house she owned.  Not because she courageously faced down airguns and street urchins and even—if her first name was Martha—evil German spies.  No, Mrs. Hudson owns that title because she was a match for the likes of Sherlock “Shooting Walls Is My Angry Birds” Holmes, and John “Three Continents But Who’s Counting Really” Watson.  She was their one fixed point, and they owed her their domestic happiness—nay, even their lives, for would Sherlock Holmes ever have eaten had not Mrs. Hudson periodically placed trays of what experts refer to as “food” in front of his nose? 
            And so I propose a toast to the woman who knew everything about these two ciphers—who was aware that John Watson had a mild dairy allergy and that Sherlock Holmes hummed Chopin ditties while shaving.  To the woman who knew them better than we ever will, and still—despite living with a pair of riddles—managed to produce a consistently good Scots’ breakfast.
            To Mrs. Hudson!

It was a fabulous evening--one filled with many drinks, toasts, speeches, and very passable gnocchi underneath the salmon.  Some truly inspiring Sherlockians were able to attend this year, including Leslie Klinger of Annotated fame, author Laurie R. King, author and (let's face facts) American God Neil Gaiman, and Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Dirda.  May ever more Babes be present in years to come!  

MERCHANTS ROOM:  Jenn set the alarm for 7:30am on Saturday so she could make the trek to the Roosevelt Hotel to visit the Merchant’s Room.  It was a minor miracle she arrived shortly after the room opened up.  Many merchants showed up with their wares, including rare books, posters, DVDs, CDs, and photos.  Also in attendance were the two editors and four contributors to A Study in Sherlock signing copies of the book: Laurie R. King, Les Klinger, Jerry Margolin, Neil Gaiman, Jan Burke, and S. J. Rozan.  It was an absolute delight to meet all of them, and get a moment to express the joy Jenn got from reading all their stories.  Jenn was also honored to meet Baker Street Journal Editor, Steve Rothman.  Meeting Steve has been a big blessing to The Babes and we are very grateful for his support.  There were of course a lot more people in the Merchant’s Room, but Jenn either didn’t get a chance to meet them or regretfully forgot their names, and hangs her head in shame. 

BSI COCKTAIL PARTY:  Another open bar event, and thus enthusiastically endorsed by Lyndsay.  This is an absolute whale of a good time, because although it's a BSI-sponsored event, it's completely open to all and sundry.  Low on program and high on social interaction, and they never run out of cheese cubes.  Lyndsay was happy to get to spend time with friend Betsy Rosenblatt of Los Angeles, who is certifiably awesome and one of the founders of the Archive of Our Own.  Many a tip was tippled, a long writerly chat had with the incredibly gracious Laurie King, and newly married friend Mickey Fromkin (of Susan Rice and Mickey Fromkin fame, long may they flourish) wore all sequins.  Phenomenally good times.

LOST IN NEW YORK WITH A BUNCH OF SHERLOCKIANS: Lyndsay encouraged Jenn to make an appearance at the Saturday night dinner hosted by Chrys and Jerry Kegley and The Curious Collectors of Baker Street, The Los Angeles Sherlock Holmes Society.  This less formal affair was held at Pete’s Tavern and the two of them dined with over 40 other Sherlockians including the lovely Aubre from SherlockNYC.  Attendees were kept entertained with food, booze, readings from The Book of Ogden, raffle prizes, and a quiz that Arthur Conan Doyle himself would never be able to complete.  But it was all in good fun.

THE GATHERING OF THE O'LUNNEYTICS: Following the Lost in New York dinner, those who weren’t ready to call it a night moved on the bar of choice for BSI Weekend, O’Lunney’s in Times Square.  For those keeping track, yes Lyndsay had been drinking all day and Jenn was just trying to keep up with everyone.  The conversation and alcohol flowed freely and the group was even blessed with an appearance by the bar’s owner, Hugh O’Lunney.  The only disappointing point of the weekend was the Bare-Chest-Knuckle Boxing promised by Lyndsay did not happen.  But that was probably for the best.  

ASH FAREWELL BRUNCH:  Lyndsay played hostess to the last event of BSI Weekend.  It started at 11am, but Jenn is going to be honest and admit she didn’t show up until a little after 12 noon.  The night before had required a little bit of extra beauty sleep.  The brunch took place in the upstairs of the Irish Rogue on West 44th street.  With all the eggs, toast, sausage and coffee one could consume, many were nursing hangovers from the night before.  But the conversations were still flowing and all were reluctant to say goodbye.  It was a sad farewell, but with promise of seeing each other next year!

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