Rumor has it that the spring issue of The Watsonian is finally hitting mailboxes. The editor-in-chief has yet to receive his own copy, so he’s still calling it a “rumor,” but wants to thank all Watsonians for patiently waiting for the latest issue. While the editorial and layout staff got the issue to press as usual, our printers were backed up and slowed down due to coronavirus issues, so this one took a little longer in the works than normal.
The Watsonian Weekly is always trying out new things, so you never know what you’ll find there, especially this week. Want to hear kids shouting a quote from “The Man with the Twisted Lip?” Want to hear a Texas collector do an E.T. impression? Want to hear a cheery little ditty about Watson’s marriage? This week’s show has all that and more.
Both The Watsonian and The Watsonian Weekly are always looking for contributors, so send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com if you have ideas and want to join in the fun!
After our successful first attempt at an actual meeting of Watsonians, you know we have to do it again. Sure, you can attend Zoom meetings for every Sherlock Holmes society on Earth lately, but where else will you find a John H. Watson society gathering?
Saturday, July 11 at at 9 AM PDT, 10 AM MDT, 11AM CDT, 12 Noon EDT, 5 PM BST, 6 PM CEST, etc. — we try to catch as much of the world as we can in our Watsonian net, and like last time, just send an RSVP e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org for your Zoom invitation.
The Watsonian Weekly is always looking for fresh voices, by the way, and if you don’t think you can be on a podcast, well, it’s a lot easier than you think. Drop us a line at email@example.com.
After last week’s successful Zoom encounter of Watsonians across the world, it seems like a good time to remind everyone of our audio-magazine-style podcast, The Watsonian Weekly. We’ve got some great regulars in Paul Thomas Miller, Robert Perret, and Margie Deck, and some irregulars like Rob Nunn and Elinor Gray’s bees, but we have yet to hit our limits. In other words, now that we’ve heard what great voices Watsonians have, it seemed like a good time to see if any other Watsonians wanted to try their hand at a podcast feature.
We’re taking audio submissions all the time at firstname.lastname@example.org . The Watsonian Weekly is on the lookout for both one-shots, as well as regular and irregular features. Since we’re to the point where the voice memo feature on a phone can produce a sound file of decent quality, getting a minute or two of yourself on a podcast is easier than you might think.
If you have thoughts, a poem, a bit of prose, news, or anything else related to John H. Watson, give it a try. Sherlockiana isn’t just about print media any more, and as John was always close behind Sherlock, Watsoniana keeps up with its partner as well.
The grand experiment known as the John H. Watson Society Treasure Hunt May Test Lab came to a close this past Friday with a handful of test subjects completing the full regimen. And here are the results:
Bullpup Mia, Joanna Freeman made an excellent individual effort, finding ten of the fourteen hidden club names without the tale “The Adventure of the Club of Shadows.” The team from the Sound of the Baskervilles, “Annie’s Little Orphans” pushed hard through that part of the test, and got eleven of the fourteen hidden clubs, but made some valiant failed efforts on the three they missed.
Both Joanna and Annie’s Little Orphans answered perfectly on the second quiz type we tested, titled “The Streets that Lead to a Treasure,” a quiz on London streets that led to a secret destination. And in the third part of the experimental quiz, a quiz on just page 520 of The Complete Sherlock Holmes, Joann came up with four answers out of the first seven, the Orphans came up with seven, and in the final tie breaker, everyone tied with the pair of kings that the judges allowed. The attempt by the Orphans to suggest that the phrase “the third bullet” implied a full set of three aces was a nice try, but even if one accepts that a bullet is slang for an ace, a third does not necessarily mean your hand had the other two.
Congratulations to everyone who participated in the experiment, or even looked at it and gave up.
If you’d like to see the answers, take a look here: https://www.johnhwatsonsociety.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/JHWS-2020-Test-Lab-Answers.pdf
A big thank you to the twenty or so Watsonians who gathered via Zoom today, ranging from western North America all the way to Europe. The format was fairly loose, introductions, followed by toasts, spontaneous show-and-tell, then some nice poetry from four able pens to wind things down. Having seen a full range of Zoom meeting successes and maybe-not-such-successes, the courtesy and attentiveness of our Watsonians was especially notable. We are a very good group.
Now comes the big follow-up question: Do we do this on a regular basis? What do Watsonians do at an ongoing series of meetings? Talks? Games? Just socialize? Also, this one wasn’t recorded at all, just to be forgiving of our first time, but it does open up our podcasting possibilities.
Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below, and we’ll see what comes next in our grand Watsonian adventure!
With so many local Sherlockian societies forced into Zoom gatherings by the hated pandemic, the thought occurs that a non-local group could do that very same thing. What has been forced upon others might just be a blessing in disguise for the John H. Watson Society. Can we pull off a remote meeting? What would that even look like?
It’s time to find out.
This Saturday morning, May 16, at 9 AM PDT, 10 AM MDT, 11AM CDT, 12 Noon EDT, 5 PM BST, 6 PM CEST, etc., the John H. Watson Society will attempt the previously impossible and gather.
For this first trial balloon, we’re only inviting members of the John H. Watson Society, and you can RSVP to email@example.com for a Zoom invitation. Let us know your name, bull pup moniker, and whether or not you’ve done Zoom calls before, so we can make sure you get any extra info you might need to join without problems. Get your RSVP in by Friday night before you go to bed so we can be sure to get you that invitation by return email.
It will be a fairly simple meeting, being our first attempt. Once we’ve all settled in, had a round of introductions, we’ll have a few traditional toasts (new traditions!) followed by open toasting. (A few lines, if you want to come prepared – nothing of a size that would be published in a journal, please, as we want to get as many in as we can.) After that, well, you might want to be next to your Sherlock stuff. It’s a visual medium, and we might take advantage of that.
And here’s the hardest part, that we’re going to need your help with. So many Sherlockian societies do moments like closing the meeting with Vincent Starrett’s 221B. But we’re a Watsonian society, and, really, don’t you get enough 221B?
So we’re going to start a poem search for the John H. Watson Society’s own poem to use as a closer. If you want to try writing one to enter in the first round of our search, send it along by Friday night to the same email address as your RSVP above. There will be a secret ballot after the meeting to choose a winner for round one, and that winner will move on to take on challengers in future rounds, until one Watsonian poem becomes the alpha poem. (So if at first you don’t succeed, you could still just get your poems published in The Watsonian. This is a win-win-win situation.)
We know this is all last minute, but join us, won’t you? And if you can’t, think kindly thoughts at us, so it goes well enough to become our new Watsonian tradition.
If you’d like to show your Watsonian puzzling skills to the world, this year’s Treasure Hunt Masters will be accepting answers for verification and celebration, with the most complete entries to be announced both here and on the Watsonian Weekly over Memorial Day weekend. To enter for your chance at this acclaim, just send your answers or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday, May 22, 2020, then look for the results, the answers, and any conclusions we reach about our testing of these new puzzle forms. (You can also comment right here, as well.)
Sheila, a long-time member of the Sound of the Baskervilles of Seattle, joined the JHWS as part of the inaugural Treasure Hunt team from Seattle in 2013. An avid quiz taker and puzzle solver, she played an active part in each treasure hunt from then through 2019.
In addition to the JHWS and the SOBs, she was also a member of The Stormy Petrels of British Columbia, The Dogs in the Nighttime of Anacortes, WA, and The Sherlock Holmes Society of London. She read mysteries and Holmes pastiches daily and corresponded with Sherlockians in many parts of the country, sending many thank you notes and encouragement cards.
Sheila moved to Seattle in 2009 from California, after her retirement from Stanford University Medicine where she worked as an RN in the ICU for many years, and the death of her husband, Denis. She is survived by her son, daughter-in-law, twin 8-year-old grandchildren, a sister and brother-in-law, and a niece and nephew.
Here they are, three experiments in the science (or art) of Watsonian quizzery from your 2020 Treasure Hunt Masters, bull pups Buck and Calder. Good luck!
Like hidden treasure, the names of fourteen clubs or societies have been buried in the following tale. Find them collect all the booty in this part of the hunt!
The Adventure of the Club of Shadows
By John H. Watson, M.D.
“I’ve solved it!” I exclaimed over breakfast, one fine autumn morning as Sherlock Holmes gave a bald wince.
“The mystery of the fourth race at Sandown Park?” my friend asked with a wry smile. “I have a pair of clients coming up shortly, and I had hoped your were saving your mental faculties to hear their case.”
“No, no,” I corrected. “I was trying to choose a caviar to treat Mary to when I take her to supper tomorrow evening.”
“The beluga or the salmon? No, wait . . . you’re going to go osetra, aren’t you?” He dropped the morning paper on the rug by the hearth. “You saw your club friends yesterday, Bell, Crick, etc., and I recall that the Romanian . . . what is his name?”
“Cavend. I should ask what region that originated in,” I replied.
“Ah, yes. The liar. No matter, I remembered . . . .” my friend was interrupted by a frantic knock at the door to our sitting room.
“The clients!” Holmes announced. “And from Mrs. Hudson’s knock, I would guess she is anxious to be rid of them. Come in! Come in!”
The door opened and in rushed two of the strangest characters we had ever seen invade our rooms. The first looked like a chorus member from a cheap-ticket production of The Pirates of Penzance where the costumer mixed up pirates with Welsh vagabonds. The second was an obvious academic, with a notebook and two mouldering tomes under one arm.
“Shoo must halp us!” the former cried out immediately. “Da rules! Da foe boss bans soooo much! Da nite ban, da hoos ban, da keyu ban – we are allowed no thang!”
“Perhaps my friend does not speak as precisely as one might wish,” the other said. “But he expresses our problem quite well. Our membership has been infiltrated by some hidden element that has taken control. Some thing hunted him within the walls of our own club. Someone kidnapped his children, and now he is charged like a spun ion, an angry volt, a radiant ethericle.”
“YAIS! YAIS! Shoo halp! Shoo end haunting! Shoo free ma sons!” The more colorful member of the pair gesticulated wildly.
“He was hunted, you say?” Holmes’s eyes had lit up with interest.
“He was not the only one. An occulist barely escaped a stalker, and the predator did manage to bag a teller from Capital and Counties! I myself have considered emigrating to America, where my French friend DuLeche has settle in the new city of Phoenix with Vicomte Morcar! Bon Arizona! These shadow-men filling our club are making life tres impossible!”
“Da foe boss ban whist! He ban rummy! He ban skat!”
“Ingenues have been admitted! The chef has been instructed to serve recipes no one has heard of! Coq au prune! Curried cabbage! Mustang loin Diana! Baked Virginia! It is an unsustainable environment for gentlemen!” The two men seemed to be raising each other’s level of agitation with each back-and-forth.
Sherlock Holmes raised a hand, holding his palm visible until they calmed enough for him to speak.
“I fully understand, gentlemen. You may trust that I will have this matter solved by the time you awake tomorrow morn.”
“Thenk yoo! Thenk yoo!”
“Yes, thank you, Mr. Holmes! We’ll look forward to tomorrow’s resolution!”
“Good-bye then,” said Holmes as he showed them the door. “And trying dining somewhere else this evening. Simpson’s is excellent.”
When we had heard them descend the seventeen steps and exit the house’s front door, Holmes smiled and picked up the paper from the rug where he had dropped it.
“Have you not found a way to keep those madmen from showing up every few weeks?” I asked him.
“A good night’s sleep always clears up whatever delusions they have built up,” my friend replied. “Let us get back to more urgent matters. I believe Mycroft has a very discreet connection to more local sturgeons, and, given a good reason, such as your recent engagement, I believe I can persuade him to use it.”
“If you are invited . . .”
“If I am invited.”
And so ended the matter of the club of shadows, which would one day be recorded as a sort of “fan fiction” featuring the thespian Robert Downey the second’s portrayal of my friend. The fourth Mrs. Watson has always questioned the quality of the tale, to which I always reply, “It’s a Watson on par, Eilleen, it’s a Watson on par.”
Every good treasure hunt needs a map, and you might need one too! In the following exercise, you need to be able to identify the streets, and then follow them to your final answer.
The Streets That Lead To A Treasure
Find the roads.
A – Where an angel worked.
B – Where the Dutch have fake bottoms.
C – Where a gusty financial establishment works.
D – Where the tea merchant is.
E – Where Holmes swiftly turned into an alley.
F – Not Harley Street.
G – Where a van dashed.
H – Where Watson dispatched a telegram.
I – The origin of a doctor’s cigarette.
J – A crossing, two horses and a flash.
K – His own rooms.
L – After the doctors’ 25 cents.
M – Aroma ogre (anag.) comes from here.
N – The quarters where one must set up in one of twelve streets.
Use Part 1 and the directions below to find a place.
· Start where A meets the first appearance of The Ring of Thoth
· Travel along A to B
· Follow B to C
· Walk to D and stop.
· Start at the intersection of E and F
· Follow E all the way down to G
· Follow G to H
· Follow H to be back in line with F
· From here got to I
· Go along to G and stop.
· Start at the junction of J and K
· Go along K to L.
· Go along L to H.
· Go along H to J
· Go along H to M and stop.
· Start at the corner of K and M
· Go along M to N
· Go along N until you cross your own path and then stop.
Combining all four routes, where are you?
A single page of the Sherlockian Canon can lead you to gold and gems. Don’t worry if you don’t have the particular volume, the words are nearly always the same and there’s a look of this particular page after the questions so you can make sure you’re on the right trail.
A brief segment based entirely on page 520 of the Doubleday Complete based entirely on data found outside the Canon and not at all fair for anyone but the writers.
1. If this was set in 1987 and a predecessor to Elementary, what second member of “the Agency” would we surely expect to see on the next page.
2. We all remember Sherlock Holmes bending an iron poker in “Speckled Band.” But what evidence of his incredible strength do we see presented on page 520?
3. Who on this page was plainly done watching the films of Tommy Wiseau, even though Watson plainly hadn’t heard of one?
4. If Irene Adler were more like Elsie Cubitt, Watson might have done some damage. Why?
5. The help had to be drinking for everyone there to know their disdain for this Mary Steenburgen film they had been watching in their room so quickly. What was the film?
6. Of course the Norfolk official wanted to go into the garden. His greatest non-Canonical case involved a gang that hung out in such places in Croatia. Name the case.
7. The evidence of Sasquatch in this case?
8. Make the best poker hand you can from this page.
Here at the John H. Watson Society Treasure Hunt Testing Laboratories, our top sciontists are currently working hard on this summer’s August release of the 2020 John H. Watson Society Treasure Hunt.
Due to the wildly innovative nature of the experimentation being performed at JHWSTH Testing Labs, researchers Paul Thomas Miller and Brad Keefauver have decided upon some spring human trials to see just how far they can go in what might be the strangest JHWS Treasure Hunt ever.
May 1st will mark the beginning of this testing, which is expected to run two weeks before any conclusions are reached as to whether our new methods and experimental quiz forms will be viable for the full 2020 JHWS Treasure Hunt. You will want to be mentally prepared, so we are giving you this advance notice.
FRIDAY! FRIDAY! FRIDAY!
JHWS Treasure Hunt test run!
Are you Sherlockianly strong enough to handle what might very well be the Radix Pedis Diaboli of quizzing? Watch this spot and find out!
Not long before my workplace closed to the public, a co-worker told me I ought to watch Sherlock Hound.
I think it might be fun to watch with a little virtual company. So, while I watch it tomorrow, Saturday, April 25, at 8:00am PDT (11:00am EDT) (4:00pm BST), I will be hanging out in our Society Slack. I’d love it if some Watsonians would join me!
Can’t make it tomorrow morning? I’ll let you know when I’ll be watching another episode. Or we can schedule a watch-along for something else – Granada, anyone?
A rare Sumatran tiger has escaped from the London Zoo! Professor Stamford, President of the Zoological Society of London, calls for Sherlock Holmes to help track down the missing cat. Since time is of the essence, Holmes requests your assistance.
While so many of us are sequestered at home for the duration, the Cotsen Children’s Library at Princeton University provides a bit of Holmesian fun with their virtual escape room. Can you solve the mystery and find the missing tiger?
The Covid-19 pandemic has many of us sheltering in place, with our workplaces closed and social gatherings prohibited. Others, like the Good Doctor, are essential workers in the medical field or in the service industries that we depend upon. You have our deepest gratitude.
While we are sad to see beloved and highly anticipated events canceled or postponed, we are heartened to see friends connecting through the virtual world. Being an online Society, the virtual world is our home.
Peter Blau just pointed out that we are all now fixed points in a changing age.
Make 2020 your Year of the Watson! Here are a few upcoming opportunities to take advantage of.
Watsonian Opportunity One:
The spring 2020 issue of The Watsonian is coming up, with a submission deadline that ends pretty much when January does. We’re looking for all of those things that look good in print, whether it’s fiction, scholarship, art, poetry, especially featuring John H. Watson and that friend of his. And for spring 2020, we’re also looking to feature any of those non-Sherlock friends of Watson, from the well-known to the obscure. Send your Watsonian work to email@example.com .
Watsonian Opportunity Two:
The second season of the world’s only John H. Watson centered podcast, The Watsonian Weekly has begun, and with the first annual Watsonian Weekly Watson Awards just finished, 2020 could head some new and fun directions with Mondays to come. What directions might those be? Like Dr. Watson himself, you’ll just have to come along and find out.
New features will be popping up all the time, and you could be a part! The Watsonian Weekly welcomes new voices of all vocal ranges and accents, especially if you don’t think you have a voice for podcasting. (Have you ever heard the McElroy brothers? Those were not voices anyone would have picked for broadcast, and they’re very beloved podcasters.) Give it a try.
Words on Watson, your favorite Watson, how you’re like Watson, a good reading of a Watson quote – if you have a phone or other device you can send an e-mail-able voice memo or other sound file from, give it a try and send the result to firstname.lastname@example.org . The more the merrier when it comes to the good doctor, audio toasting, brief interviews, or whatever else might fit on a Watsonian podcast magazine. Your voice does not sound nearly so bad as you think it does!
Watsonian Opportunity Three:
Yes, August and the Eighth Annual John H. Watson Canonical Treasure Hunt is a long ways off, but it’s never too early to recruit some choice team-mates. This year’s Treasure Hunt Masters will be Paul Thomas Miller and Brad Keefauver, so you can bet this is going to be one of the most off-the-wall challenges ever. (And there might even be a couple of pop-up trivia events along the way, when and were you least expect them.)
2020 is a larger number for a year than any Watsonian has ever experienced, and while it’s not the 22nd Century just yet, the future of John H. Watson is here! Whip out that well-hidden Watsonian wonder within, and let’s wander Watson’s world!
The relationship between John H. Watson and Sherlock Holmes
tends to eclipse all others in their lives, but it’s the rare bird who can live
an entire life with just one other person in it. And we know John Watson had at
least a couple of other friends.
His billiards friend Thurston. His old friend Colonel
Hayter. His at least lunch-long friendship with Stamford. His Blackheath rugby
team. His schoolmates who joined him in
whacking Percy Phelps with those wickets. The fellow doctors who’d look in on
his patients. Even Lestrade.
John Watson actually had quite a few friends, friends that
he didn’t write sixty stories about. Should the John H. Watson Society and our
friends perhaps try to remedy that situation?
As the November issue of The
Watsonian winds it’s way to the printers, it’s time to start thinking of
2020 and our next issue. The deadline is February 15th, but why wait?
Especially if we’re looking at paying tribute to those unsung friends of
Think one of Watson’s other friends could be worth a poem, short story, or article to let us know what Watson saw in them, what might have been going on with them in his non-Sherlock time? Got a friend of Watson’s we haven’t even met yet? The Watsonian’s Spring 2020 issue is hoping to feature as many of those Watson buddies as we can squeeze into an issue, so here’s your chance to shine a lot on a favorite in a place where we’ll giving them the stage they deserve.
So why not join in the fun and get that contributor’s copy, along with the pride of demonstrating what a friend to Watson you yourself are? Submissions should be up-to-date Word documents, if at all possible, and sent via email attachment to: email@example.com. Questions can also be sent to that address.
Let’s make Spring 2020 a time to show John H. Watson, and the world, just how many friends he had!
Our Shopkeeper is headed up to Oregon for the Left Coast Sherlockian Symposium. While she is away, print publications and the Print+ membership will be temporarily unavailable. Digital editions of publications and the Worldwide Paperless membership will remain available in the Shop.
We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience!
Dear all, thanks for your patience in waiting more than expected to get the results of the Hunt. Between some personal problems (I might hint that perhaps the machinations of a certain “M” are behind an unfortunate recent string of events) and the fact that many of you sumbmitted alternative answers that required a lot of time for checking and evaluation, I’m some days late: it took me twenty days when I though ten would be enough. I can only offer my humble apologies. Here are the results:
Michael Ellis (“Lobo”) has once again achieved the highest score, winning the High Honors with 56,5 points of the 60 available. Second place goes to Enrico Solito (“Devon”), who earns Honors in this category with 53 points.
Following the leaders, we have Carmen Savino with 51,5 points, Joanna Freeman (“Mia”) with 49 points, and Mark Doyle with 48 points.A mention for Alessandro Melillo, who only 24 hours before the end of the hunt realized that time was almost over and put in a valiant effort, scoring 9,5 points out of the only 10 answers he submitted.
Only two teams competed this year and it was a very close call. I had to examine carefully every single alternate answer and decide. The High Honors go to “The Quartered Flag” with 58,5 points; team members are Paul Thomas Miller (“Buck”) and Brad Keefauver (“Calder”). Honors go to “The Sound of the Baskervilles” team with 57,5 points; team members are Sheila Holtgrieve (“Daisy”), Cameron Brandon, Sunny Even, Ron Lies (”Chips”) and Nancy Holder (“Diana”).
I have prepared a list of the alternative answers that have been accepted and some of those that, in spite of their sometimes wonderful and most entertaining mental effort, I had to reject. See below for the link to the file.
Let me thank all the participants for their contribution. If I were prone to exaggeration, I could say that it took me almost the same amount of time to check the many ingenious alternative answers than it took me to prepare the Hunt! But that forced me dive deep into the Canon again, and that’s always a good thing. I must also say that I have gained some important hints from this year’s experience. Some questions were too broad and generic, others were good but could have been better worded. I hope that next time that I’ll act as Quiz Master I will remember to make use of what I’ve learned.
I hope you enjoyed the Hunt anyway and to see even more participants next time!
With my warm congratulations and regards, Michele Lopez (“Reggie”)
“Both Holmes and I had a weakness for the Turkish bath. It was over a smoke in the pleasant lassitude of the drying-room that I have found him less reticent and more human than anywhere else. On the upper floor of the Northumberland Avenue establishment there is an isolated corner where . two couches lie side by side, and it was on these that we lay upon September 3, 1902, the day when my narrative begins.”
The Watsonian Weekly is declaring a Tuesday holiday this week, a fresh starting point, based on the good doctor’s opinions of what he called “an alterative.” And what better time than a holiday to take a few moments to indulge in a bit of a podcast listen. On iTunes or on Libsyn, you can find the Watsonian Weekly from the following links:
And we’re always looking for new voices, too, as variety is the spice of podcast life, whether in an audio message or e-mail, which you can send along to firstname.lastname@example.org if the Watsonian muse strikes — but if your muse is more of a listener, that’s the foundation of any podcast effort.
So Happy Watson’s Turkish Bath Day! Make it a good one!