5th Annual 12th Night Giveaway: Day 12

Doing the Giveaway every year has had its challenges. Finding prizes, coming up with questions, remembering what day it is….


How in the world am I going to ship that chair?

Obviously I mess up quite a lot–you know–you’re here for it. But one thing I’ve tried to correct this year was the disturbing lack of Watson. He’s around, of course–in questions, writing the actual stories, etc., but most of our prizes have really been centered around Sherlock Holmes, or the stories. I can’t think of one that has belonged solely to John H. Watson, MD.

So I started to think of some options. If Nigel Bruce’s daughter would publish her father’s memoirs, that would be perfect (see link to some excerpts here: http://scarletstreet.yuku.com/topic/1101/Games-Gossip-and-Greasepaint-Nigel-Bruce-s-Autobiography?page=1#.WGsSC7zdTlI)…but alas, that doesn’t seem to be happening any time soon. I am fairly certain I cannot offer brandy, or a service revolver, and do you really want a portrait of Gordon or Beecher for your wall?


Henry Ward Beecher

I thought not.

So how about this?


This is a genuine walrus-leather medical bag. Unfortunately, as you can see, it didn’t belong to Dr. Watson, or even someone with the same initials (more’s the pity) but as Dr. Robert Katz, one of the editors of Nerve and Knowledge, suggested, it’s highly possible that, as he was just starting out, Watson didn’t have the money for a new bag, and so purchased a used one. Here, he’s getting a beautiful finish, and still has money left over for instruments. This is what you will tell your friends, family, and fellow Sherlockians. Everything else is between us.

This bag is American, not British; it was remarkably difficult to find antique physician bags on eBay UK, actually. Chances are, given the style and condition, it dates from the late 1910’s to the 1920’s, but I don’t know for sure. There is no key, but the latch works (there were interior shots on eBay which show a very clean lining in excellent shape, with instrument pockets). Unfortunately, I have not been able to open it myself, and would rather leave that to its new owner, than to try more vigorously and break it.

Here are a few more images:


Handles tend to show the most wear in these things, and these handles are in great condition for their age and use.


Kruse made quite a few physician bags in the early 20th century


Back view; latch strap shows wear

Hopefully, you’ll find this a fascinating piece, just perfect for your “curious collection.” If you do, and want a chance to win, tell me which part of Holmes’ statement here is the literary allusion, and what is he quoting?

Holmes gave a whistle of surprise. ‘You can write me down an ass this time, Watson,’ said he. ‘This was not the bird I was looking for.’


As always, send your answers in via blog comment, Facebook PM, or Twitter DM! Two days to go!



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5th Annual 12th Night Giveaway: Day 11


How did he get away with wearing white pants so much?

Ok, look away from the handsome man…look instead at his lovely bookshelves (as quite a few of you probably were, already). This is one thing that I think Holmes films occasionally get wrong (although there are exceptions, such as Guy Ritchie’s 221B, Peter Cushing’s and that of The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes)–they simply don’t give Sherlock Holmes enough books! Even in Granada’s “The Adventure of the Redheaded League,” in the bookshop scene, Watson is the only one buying anything.  I’m sorry, but that just does not seem believable to me–unless the store sold only Russell Clark’s excellent sea stories.


I need this.

But, if props people don’t see fit to give Holmes the number of books I think we can assume he has, he has definitely inspired at least that number over the years, with every year bringing forth still more.  We will never be able to keep up, but we shall give it our best.

If your shelf has some unsightly gaps, or your floor has a blank space, you might want to try for this prize–a sort of mini-Sherlockian book club. Initially, the winner will receive this book: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s excellent and fun Mycroft Holmes:


Mycroft was young, once.

Towards the end of January (when it is released), the mailman will leave this on your porch:


Also fantastic.


And at the beginning of March, Lyndsay Faye will see you through the last of winter with this:


I’ve not read this one, but those who have say it’s amazing.

For your chance to be the sole member of this very short-lived book club, tell me of whom Watson is talking, and what book started him down such a tragic path….

The habit grew upon him, as I understand, from some foolish freak when he was at college; for having read De Quincey’s description of his dreams and sensations, he had drenched his tobacco with laudanum in an attempt to produce the same effects.

Happy research, and good luck!

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5th Annual 12th Night Giveaway: Day 10

Well, it’s after 9pm EST here, and dozens of people I know (and thousands I don’t) are currently watching the first episode of Sherlock, Season 4, on PBS.  I’m not, however. I am going to wait until the house is dark and quiet, and my son is no longer playing some odd arrangement of “Uptown Funk” on his clarinet, so that I can just absorb it. Hey, I’m an introvert. I need to think about things. I can’t really do that in a crowd of other fans. Or, you know, siblings arguing about who is eating all the popcorn, and the dog blocking my view because she wants me to pet her.


She’s a good dog.

So. Does that mean I am going to hide away from the internet, staying off of social media to avoid spoilers?  Nope. Not a bit. At the moment, I can’t think of a book, show, or movie that I felt has been “ruined” for me because someone blabbed about some crucial point. And since I tend to see things much later than other people, that has happened quite a lot. For me, sometimes knowing what it going to happen helps me appreciate the story more–I can catch all of the little hints and lead-ups. Everything makes more sense, and I am less likely to miss small, yet important, details that I might not remember when they matter. Of course, I feel that way about most things in life. Tell me what to expect. Explain the process. Give me the steps. Frankly, unless it involves a cash windfall (taxes paid) I’m not that fond of surprises. So that makes me wonder: how do you feel about spoilers? And do you find that it correlates with your personality in general? For example, if you really like spontaneity in life, are you more likely to resent spoilers than someone who needs to feel a certain amount of control?


“And how did that make you feel, Mr. Holmes?”


Today’s quote comes from a story in which, ultimately, Holmes decided not to completely “spoil” the solution for his client, although he did settle the matter for her. Can you tell me the case in which it appeared, and to whom it is originally attributed?

‘There is danger for him who taketh the tiger cub, and danger also for whoso snatches delusion from a woman.’

In celebration of Sherlock‘s return, this is actually a three-part prize. There will be three winners. Again, please let me know which prize(s) you want, should your name be drawn. If you do not, you will not be entered.

These are all from the BBC shop. I will say that, while the scarf is pretty, it’s not at all heavy; it is NOT a true replica of Sherlock’s scarf.  All t-shirts are size L, which was the largest size they had available.  And the tote bag is made of a very thin cloth. It won’t work for school or shopping.


Prize 1: 2 t-shirts and cloth bag


Prize 2: John and Sherlock espresso cups; regular-sized Moriarty mug


Prize 3: small print, scarf, and book


Close-up of prize 3 scarf

As always, send your answers and prize choice(s) in via blog comment, Twitter DM, or Facebook PM.  And if you are getting tired of all of this Sherlock stuff, be patient! From now on, we get progressively more canonical!


Congratulations Hawkeye Brehm and Claudia Copada, who won the Gaiman and traditional games, respectively. The quote appears twice in the Canon, once in  “The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans, and another time in “The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax.” It comes from Henry IV, Part 2.


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5th Annual 12th Night Giveaway: Day 9



Well, of course, in BBC’s Sherlock, the proper phrase is, “The game is on,” and Sherlock is metaphorically comparing solving crimes with playing an actual game.  One like this:


UK. c. 1956

However, that particular battle cry is actually derived from Canon Holmes’ exclamation in “The Adventure of the Abbey Grange,” when he rouses Watson from his warm bed in response to a 3:30 am telegram from Stanley Hopkins:

The candle in his hand shone upon his eager, stooping face, and told me at a glance that something was amiss.

“Come, Watson, come!” he cried. “The game is afoot. Not a word! Into your clothes and come!”

Of course, it’s not original to Sherlock Holmes, either. “The game is afoot” comes, as do many Canon quotes, via Shakespeare, this time from King Henry IV, Part 1, and again from King Henry V. In the latter, the entire quote is:

I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the start. The game’s afoot:
Follow your spirit, and upon this charge
Cry ‘God for Harry, England, and Saint George!’

Nor is the game and actual game, as in Monopoly, or football. No, it’s this kind of game….


Sorry. I know that was evil.

But whether it’s on or afoot, involves a board or a fluffy bunny, we Sherlockians know what it’s all about, and that’s why, today’s prizes–yes, it’s a dual prize day–involves Sherlock Holmes as a game himself.

As in other dual prize contests, you will have a choice. The first is based on Neil Gaiman’s award-winning story, “A Study in Emerald,” which is a startling meld of the Sherlockian and Lovecraftian universes.



The second contains 2 more traditional games:


I have never played any of them (I am not really a gamer), so I can’t tell you how good they are. If you are a winner, give us a review!

For your chance to be a winner, just tell us where in the Canons (both Sherlockian and Shakespearean) this quote can be found. It sounds like a good strategy….

Thrice is he armed, that hath his quarrel just.



ahem. Thank you, good luck, and all the very best in 2017.


Congratulations to Resa Haile, the winner of the Sherlock S4 pre-order! “Omne ignotum pro magnifico” comes from Tacitus’ Agricola. And yes, now it doesn’t seem so amazing after all, does it?

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5th Annual 12th Night Giveaway: Day 8

Well, it’s New Year’s Eve. We all know what that means. Tomorrow marks the beginning of….

Sherlock Season 4!!!!!!!!!!


I doubt the sitting room of 221B will look like this in three weeks.

I have to say, the first time I saw BBC’s 21st century re-imagining, I happened to tune in to a PBS repeat of “The Blind Banker”–not the strongest episode, although it has some great lines. And it was in the worst possible place, too–the museum scene. I assumed that Watson was in love with Soo Lin–and hasn’t the old drug trafficking thing been done a zillion times?  So I turned it off. A few months later, I tried it again via iTunes, this time from the beginning, and I changed my mind. Obviously.



Now, a lot of people don’t feel the same away about Sherlock, and a lot of people felt as if it’s been less amazing since Series 3. Others adore it, sometimes in the very fullest sense of that word, and there are hundreds of articles online and elsewhere analyzing why that might be. For me, the reason I love Sherlock is the same reason why I love the Canon–for me, the characters are truly alive. You can’t plan these things. And you can’t always make them happen again, but for Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, one day, on a train, the alchemy was right, and they created something special–just as Arthur Conan Doyle did at his desk in Bush Villas, Southsea.

Here’s hoping that whatever formula they’re using holds true!

I’m sure you can guess what today’s prize will be….


Because you are all proper geniuses!

For a chance to win a pre-order of the Sherlock Series 4 DVD or Blu-ray, just answer this question:


Holmes has all sorts of clients. From the intelligent (Violet Hunter) to the very dull. Jabez Wilkins, from the “The Adventure of the Red-headed League” is one of the latter, and it’s because of him that Holmes quotes Latin to Watson–“‘Omne ignotum pro magnifico,’ you know, and my poor little reputation, such as it is, will suffer shipwreck if I am so candid.”  Whom is he quoting, and what are the circumstances?

I really wish I could have given a video clue of this question, as the scene in Granada’s version of “The Red-headed League” is wonderful–and wonderfully hilarious. Perhaps by next year, I’ll know how to do a video clip. If you get the chance, however, watch the episode–it’s classic. And, of course, send in your answers via blog comment, Facebook PM, and Twitter DM.  Have a wonderful New Year’s Eve, be safe, and PLEASE–don’t drink and drive!!!!!!




It’s late, but not too late, and the last 12th Night Giveaway Winner of 2016 is Jim McArthur. Remember that the rules state that a player can win twice, and that everyone is eligible for the grand prize. I think this is the first year I’ve had two double winners, which is kind of weird.
ANYWAY! Interestingly enough, “There but for the grace of God go[es] Sherlock Holmes” has a dubious provenance. Holmes thought it originated with Richard Baxter, a Puritan theologian, while others think it’s from John Bradford, who used to say it when he saw someone headed for execution (that is, he said “There but for the grace of God goes John Bradford,” not “Sherlock Holmes.” Eventually, he was martyred for his attempts at religious reformation by being burned at the stake. It’s also possible that the saying originated with sailor-turned-clergyman John Newton, or St. Philip Neri.



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5th Annual 12th Night Giveaway: Day 7


My guy, a long, long time ago….

(Please note: the following article is firmly tongue-in-cheek, and I know my husband had a lovely childhood.)

I first met my now-husband at Westside church of Christ, when we were both about six years old. We dated a little in high school, before we were separated by college, and the fact that I was much more mature.  No, really!!

But although I have known him pretty much my entire life, when we began dating again, I was surprised to hear that he had had a childhood of shocking deprivation. For example, although he got to watch far more bad 70’s television than I ever did, his parents didn’t get a color set until he was in high school. This meant that, when “The Wizard of Oz” came on every year, and the rest of us saw those sepia-toned Kansas plains transform into this…,


he just saw this….


I know. It kind of misses the point.

And while my brothers had a heap of Star Wars toys, like this…


(Not my actual brothers)

The only Star Wars “toy” he ever owned until adulthood, was something like this:


(His mom taught art.)

But perhaps the saddest thing he told me was that he was never allowed to read comic books. Why?  Because they weren’t “real books.”


I promise you, Spiderman in the early 80’s was exceedingly literate.

Therefore, in honor of my husband, and of graphic literature in general, today’s prize is a collection of Sherlock Holmes-related comic books. First, we start with an older example:


(From 1975)

Next, BBC’s Sherlock gets a turn:


All six issues are included, but not all cover variations–you’re welcome to try for them on your own!

And finally, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s new “Mycroft Holmes” series. I only have the first three issues of this (a fourth has since been released), and please note: THIS COMIC IS RATED FOR MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY!  I haven’t opened or read any of these, in order to keep them in excellent condition (obviously), so I’m not sure where the rating comes from, but I don’t think it would be a great gift for your 10 year-old.


Again, these comics are all bagged and boarded and have not been read by me. For the newer ones, this means “ever,” and I have no idea about the DC book. If you’re thinking about branching out into comics, or if you’re already suffering from that particular mania and wanna see some more, send in your answer to the following question for your chance to win:

“God help us!” said Holmes after a long silence. “Why does fate play such tricks with poor, helpless worms? I never hear of such a case as this that I do not think of Baxter’s words, and say, ‘There, but for the grace of God, goes Sherlock Holmes'”

Now, obviously, “Sherlock Holmes” is an addition, but where in the Canon does this quote appear?  Who is Baxter? Could Holmes have the wrong attribution?

It’s a snowy, blustery evening up here. I hope some brainwork will keep you warm!




Congratulations to Gary Henderson, winner of the Elementary S4 DVD! “Elementary” has become a more hotly contested prize every year, which is fun to see.

All entrants pointed out that “Journeys end in lovers’ meetings” is from, well, Shakespeare’s “12th Night,” and that Holmes says it to Colonel Moran in “The Empty House.” Jim McArthur pointed out that Holmes actually misquotes the line (or Watson miswrites it), as it should be “Journeys end in lovers meeting.” Claire Danes wondered if Holmes was inspired to use it given that Colonel Moran’s first name is Sebastian, and “Sebastian” is a character in 12th Night. Claire Daines also pointed out that Holmes uses the same quote when Gregson shows up in “The Adventure of the Red Circle,” which is amusing.







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5th Annual 12th Night Giveaway: Day 6


“Everything Old is New Again” lyrics by Peter Alan and Carole Bayer Sager. image via Youtube

New is nice. We like new. We like seeing new places, hearing new songs, buying new things, reading new books. When I was a kid, most of my clothes were hand-me-downs–some of them very old hand-me-downs–so when I was out on my own and finally had the income, I really got excited about shopping. Even grocery shopping was fun, but recreational shopping was even better.

After awhile, though, the newness of “New” wore off. It was no longer fun to buy things, to pay for them, to put them away, to maintain them. How many outfits did one toddler need? Didn’t I have enough china? Didn’t they have enough toys? Where in the heck are we going to put that?  Do I, realistically, have enough years left to read all of those books?It is very possible to have entirely too much “New.” When that happens, even “New” becomes “Old.” (Yeah, I know, that’s not what the song says). At that point, I think many of us decide to take stock of what we have, and to appreciate it more.


Hey! These couches were built to last!

In the past few years, we have enjoyed an embarrassment of riches when it comes to new versions of Sherlock Holmes, either on film or in pastiche. I might be particularly fond of one of them.


Three guesses which one!

But after five years of new, hearing about yet another “new Holmes” becomes less exciting than it might have been. And you know what start to look better and better?  Old Holmes. Not just Canon Holmes, because he is a constant in our lives, but older film versions. Older pastiches. You can go back to them and see the richness and nuance that you might have missed the first time around.


Or they could just be silly.

Sherlock Holmes himself recognized that, in the end, nothing is really new. Nor is it old. Clothes have the same function, art handles the same emotions, and criminals have the same motives as they have had for thousands of years. So it was appropriate that when Holmes expressed that thought to Gregson, he quoted from a very old source.

‘It reminds me of the circumstances attendant on the death of Van Jansen, in Utrecht, in the year ’34. Do you remember the case, Gregson?’

‘No, sir.’

‘Read it up–you really should. There is nothing new under the sun. It has all been done before.’

What is Holmes quoting, and in which story does he do it?  If your answer is drawn, you’ll receive your own chance to experience something old anew, via Basil Rathbone’s autobiography, In and Out of Character,  and a collection of Rathbone/Bruce films on DVD or blu-ray, for Region 1 or 2 (no photo of that, as it will vary by region).


Remember, submit your answers via blog comment, Facebook PM, or Twitter DM!  And I was just kidding about new books. Seriously. Kidding.

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