Sunday, May 14, 2017

A Speckled Band or a Motley Crew?

Here it is, a review of my first scion meeting.

This gathering of The Parallel Case of St. Louis was well-attended (ten of us made it, despite very busy traffic in an already difficult-to-navigate area of the City), and the male:female ratio was an even 1:1, a very pleasant surprise.

The discussion around "The Speckled Band" was varied and interesting, and a great summary can be found over here. I'll make a separate post about my main take-away after I do some research (into the experience of women, widows in particular, in Imperial India in the 1860's), but here's a rundown on a few smaller topics that piqued my interest:

1) Has there been an analysis of the foot-pounds of torque needed to bend and unbend a fireplace poker?

2) Are there more Colonels or Doctors in these stories? What's the proportion of Good Doctors to Evil Doctors?

3) ACD and his depictions of outgroups such as gypsies, jews, Mormons, etc led to a small discussion about Mormon reaction to A Study in Scarlet. This interested me because: remember the little Tassy from last time, excitedly jabbering about The Great Mouse Detective and Young Sherlock Holmes? At least a bit of that excitement happened at church socials...and my childhood church was The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

 Admittedly, that segment of the Mormon Church elected to stay in Northwest Missouri as opposed to moving West, where ACD portrayed all that murder, kidnapping, and involuntary servitude. But the Danites were formed in response to violence between Mormons and settled Missourians on a site near which the Community of Christ still hosts summer camps. (I'm actually a little surprised there aren't snaps of my brother on that website, because he's a pastor at the Guilford branch and baptised all his kids at that camp.)

Okay, so there's probably an entire blog post to be made about this. Sorry that got away from me.

4) Although there was some (extraneous) discussion about the "Millenial work ethic," I've learned not to engage, a lot like how I let older attending physicians talk about how "weak" current residents are because we're only working 80 hour weeks.

I was more off-put by some joking about blaming the Russians being a trend worth parodying. I can't imagine not taking the current political situation seriously and personally and grabbing on to any reason to expel a politician intent on removing protections for my peers and my patients.

5) We talked a bit about Victorian Orientalism and its inclusion in Holmesian canon, and that got me thinking of the response to BBC Sherlock's "The Blind Banker." I still truly love the mystery in that episode, and understand where Stephen Thompson got the template for his missteps revolving around fragile/mystical Asian women, yellow clues, and torture for entertainment. But I gather that he took criticism well, improving to write the absolutely stellar "The Reichenbach Fall."

Recently, I've been engaging in some discussions over in television fandom land about cultural criticism vs fan entitlement, and how expressing dismay at over-reliance on damaging tropes can bring awareness to writers so that we can change what's acceptable culturally. It sounds so reasonable written like that, doesn't it? But there are slippery rules about engaging with creations and creators over there that have resulted in even some of my gentler attempts at conversation about media and fandom getting shut down as censorship or entitlement. But I digress.

Next time in the blog-o-sphere: Female strength in The Speckled Band...contextualizing the choices of Helen and Julia Stoner.

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