Tag Archives: Stuff I Like

Sherlock Holmes collection count: 96

My Sherlock Holmes collection finishes with 96 items, for reasons addressed in another post. I haven’t quite doubled it to a round 100 items, since seven years ago, but it occurred to me recently to make some closing notes anyway; why not. This very occasional project has provided interest to me for 11 years, now, and in happier circumstances I would might continue it for decades.

Obviously, since getting to 50 took about four years, and the next 46 items took several years, I have slowed down collecting. A lot of things happened to the world and to me since the middle of 2015. But also, it is not a race, and as recent weeks have demonstrated to me, I have accumulated so much stuff.

Anyway, since I have a list of collection items (chronological since the first few entries), let’s see what I have added and make notes on what interests me.

Warlock Holmes did make me laugh, although I’m skeptical about it sustaining a series; who knows. Sherlock Holmes in Orbit, this is a collection highlight. One of the best anthologies. A good mix of excellent science fiction Holmes or Holmes-inspired adventures. (This is one of the books which, silly perhaps, but I set aside for now while packing up those around it.)

I have one of the Solar Pons books. It’s okay. I would certainly pick up others if I came across them. I have missed the public library’s book sales, since the pandemic halted them; some times I didn’t find much, but some times I would find three or four items for my collection all at once, for just a few dollars total, and it made me happy.

The Trial of Sherlock Holmes comic book series is a good story with okay art. Good for you, Leah Moore (and John Reppion). People born in 1978, represent.

Terror by Night is one of the Rathbone/Bruce films, and a satisfying amusing outing. Sherlock Holmes in New York, the Roger Moore film, is of similar quality; perhaps I wrote something about that one already?

Mycroft and Sherlock, splendid like all (three so far) of the Holmes novels by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Anna Waterhouse. A Study in Terror I wanted for years, I think I finally ordered this one in the Spring of 2020 because, you know, we thought the world was distressing then, so I bought myself a treat or two. It’s okay. Not the best Holmes/Ripper story, certainly not the worst. The structure is a mild novelty.

Sherlock Holmes in Modern Times, what a weird find. Maybe I already wrote about this one, too, but yeah just weird. Essentially short puzzle stories all interested in points of the law (the author’s profession), and not especially much of a Sherlock Holmes book, but well worth including in a collection of nearly 100 items just for the oddness.

Sherlock Holmes: The Beginning, an interesting choose-your-own-adventure graphic novel, and an adequate Holmes story.

The LIFE magazine special, the penultimate item in the collection, is worth highlighting just because I wanted this for years after seeing it at the supermarket and deciding it was too expensive, and hoping that I might score it cheaper somehow. I should have bought it, although in a way it worked out just as well. I ended up wishing for years that I might somehow obtain “the one that got away,” and at last to my surprise the publisher put a new printing into stores earlier this year. It was at least as expensive as ever, but I grabbed a copy. I have to say, it didn’t disappoint. In terms of editorial content, it’s nothing special; a stroll through the history of Sherlock Holmes the literary phenomenon (emphasizing the years during Doyle’s lifetime). Very competently written, but not a lot new for me. Yet it’s a wonderful artifact, lavishly designed, almost a soft-cover coffee table book. This too gave me a brief experience of happiness.

Item 96, Observations by Gaslight, I obtained only this month; an internet purchase, it arrived June 4. Having committed myself by early this year to some course of action which would involve departing without most (or all) of my possessions, I had not expected to add any more to the collection. But… without getting too far into another subject, I will just note that it’s hard at the end. Again, we thought late Spring 2020 was distressing, but wow how innocent that time seems now.

So I added one more item, a new one from Lindsay Faye. I have her two previous Holmes books as well. I think that The Whole Art of Detection is the best, and among the better class of Holmes pastiches in general. I would probably need to spend more time with the other two before deciding which is second-best, but Observations by Gaslight is good. I read it quickly and have no regrets about closing this 11-year project (among other things) with it.

As for the future, well, I wrote an entire book in some sense about how remarkable it was that one particular book collection has survived together and substantially intact almost four centuries after its founder’s demise. I indulge in some small hope that my brother, who has shown some interest in the character, might take the collection at least to browse. Probably it will end up in a secondhand shop, however, and sooner rather than later. It could just end up in a dump; I don’t know. You can’t take it with you, and it’s complicated to arrange new homes for things even without the additional complication of a reason which it’s taboo to mention. Oh well.

“Is not all life pathetic and futile? Is not his story a microcosm of the whole? We reach. We grasp. And what is left in our hands at the end? A shadow. Or worse than a shadow—misery.” (Sherlock Holmes, in “The Retired Colourman”)

Ghost Rider, 2099, and futures past

It occurred to me, recently, that when Marvel launched their 2099 comics in the early 1990s, the setting’s distance in time was twice that of the “Marvel universe’s” origin. The fictional world’s pre-war beginnings lay a little more than 50 years in the past; 2099 lay more than 100 years in the future. Now, as of 2020, the present has moved to a point midway between both.

Taking stock, I feel that 2099 has aged well beneath accumulating dust. The original line, at least, may be approaching the threshold of “old/obscure comics.” The 25-issue Ghost Rider 2099 series written by Len Kaminski is probably there, and worth more appreciation than it probably has, or than at first glance it probably appears to deserve.

The series’s strong start accounts for much of its worth after a quarter-century. Nothing about Ghost Rider 2099 was really groundbreaking; realistically all of the pieces had been used before. But during the first dozen issues they were chosen and assembled very, very well.

The artwork helps a lot. Chris Bachalo‘s drawings are pretty to look at, and gifted the series with a few truly memorable designs, particularly the bizarre “Ghostworks.” The storytelling also feels perfectly timed and balanced, though. Plenty of settings and characters are introduced, but things happen every issue. There’s a sense of “openness” and freedom to how widely Ghost Rider ranges, at will, from a gang encampment to the C-suite to a round-trip errand from the Midwest to New York.

The Ghost Rider is not there to “play in a sandbox,” the Ghost Rider is there to make big, hands-on changes to a world filled with things he doesn’t like.

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Danger Man

A lot of people know, or know of, exceptionally weird TV series The Prisoner. “I am not a number. I am a free man!” etc. But before Patrick McGoohan gave the world Number Six, he spent a few years in the lesser known role of secret operative John Drake (who may or may not have been the same character).

Titled Danger Man during the British-only first outing, Drake’s adventures later continued in the United States, as Secret Agent. Lakewood Public Library has most of the show’s run on DVD, and over the past year I have grown rather fond of it.

Streamlined storytelling. Danger Man is, in a lot of ways, elegantly simple. Beyond “John Drake is a Western-powers secret operative,” it scarcely has any kind of premise or continuity. (Drake’s employer, his formal role, and his nationality are all questionable.) Every episode seems to work on its own. Characters are built-up afresh in each story, including Drake to a great extent; his is nearly the only recurring character, and even he goes through little in terms of episode-to-episode character building.

For me, this stripped-down approach is part of the show’s fascination. It comes across as almost an exercise in short-story elegance: a demonstration of how good writing can deliver interest again and again, without employing soap-opera story arcs or world-building. (Possibly this is why I enjoy the initial half-hour episodes most of all, and feel that the longer subsequent episodes are good but stray just a bit from this minimalist charm.)

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We Are (Not) Young

I have been watching this parody video occasionally for a few years, now. At this point I’m frankly growing out of the age range examined, but, dear god this did feel like the final word on the early 21st-century American 30-something.

So, a bit late, I’m finally getting around to embedding it here on my site, just to include it in the record. Well done, Sketch•Y folk.

Cynical Girl

I think it’s time to write something relatively cheery, again. At least, it’s time to try. But can I do it? Can I come up with something that is not informed by negativism, can I actually just be happy about something for even a moment?

These may be destined to remain open questions, I suspect. Because there’s probably a little yes and a little no in posting a warmhearted celebration of…

CYNICAL GIRL

Our hero.

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Transformers after three decades

A few weeks ago, the always observant xkcd introduced the instantly familiar concept of the “Timeghost.” These things have been haunting me for years, now, long before I had a name for them. I think the most consistently strange one year in and year out, so far, must however be Transformers: The Movie.

Get back to me in several more years, when Hill Valley of 2015 has also slid into the past, and it may have taken over. But at this point, the 20-years-from-now “two thousand fiiiiive” of my childhood has been behind me for most of a decade. As I probably watch this movie about once per year, I saw this weird reality creeping up even before that… and yet, viewing the movie again last night, I was still surprised by this most familiar Timeghost showing off a whole new trick. I’ve got to guestimate his age in TFTM, but it occurs to me that at this point, the Autobots’ boy sidekick Daniel Witwicky may very well be old enough to drink. Yeeesh. Pass that bottle over here Danny.

Meanwhile, this got me thinking yet again about how and why it is that at 36 years old, I’m still a fan of Transformers.

Section of Transformers toy catalog from 1985

I’ve go that guy in the upper-left, yes.

There are bigger fans out there, certainly. I haven’t bought a Transformer since the last century. But, I’ve been tempted, and I still have three or four of the things around here. I’ve got more than 100 Transformers comics, and those I occasionally still buy. I’ve got a Transformer web site bookmarked, and I still watch the flipping movie (which I must have seen two dozen times by now) once per year at least. At age 36. Can I account for this?

In one sense it isn’t difficult. The quick answer is “shameless, trashy nostalgia for happy associations with childhood” and that’s by no means wrong. If anyone has read this far but wants to bail out now, you won’t be missing any key points. That said, I feel like there has to be a bit more going on, if only to explain “why Transformers and why not other fascinations of my early life?”

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