Saturday, February 23, 2008

Terms to know

Just a little vocabulary to try to put aside some of the stereotypes that people have about Sherlock Holmes mysteries so that I may write more about the rhetoric involved. If you have any questions, comments, concerns, complaints, gripes or grievances please leave a comment.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - Author of original Sherlock Holmes canon. Spiritualist. Failed optometrist. Was not knighted because of Sherlock but because of his writings on British military history. Killed Sherlock off to spend more time writing nonfiction and as well as more time with his family.

Sydney Paget - Original illustrator of Holmes. Based design of Sherlock off of his brother Charles. Based design Watson off of Doyle's secretary.

Sherlock Holmes - Detective whose works are chronicled by Dr. Watson. Distrusts women. Always seeks a challenge to solve. Retains much knowledge in his mind only for the purpose of solving crimes or playing violin. Knows much Chemistry, anatomy, psychology, forensics, and knowledge of tobacco. Excellent Violin player who does not read sheet music but plays by ear. His violin was a Stradivarius. Smokes shag tobacco. Knows much of the United States and is said to have been there before moving to baker street. Has a map of London in his head and always knows where he is. Used opium and morphine when his brain was not solving a case. Retired as a beekeeper near Sussex.

Dr John Watson - Sought a roommate after returning from the army serving as a field doctor in Afghanistan. Can be said to be Sherlock's only true friend. Is referred to as Sherlock's Boswell. Marries Mary Morstan in The Sign of the Four.

Inspector Lestrade - Investigator for Scotland Yard. Seeks Sherlock's help from time to time. in the beginning of the canon is ridiculed for employing the help of an ameture.

James Moriarty - Only seen in one mystery "The Adventure of the Final Problem". Called the Nepolean of Crime.Falls of of Richenbach falls with Sherlock. Brilliant Mathematician.

Irene Alder - The only person ever to outsmart Sherlock. Watson believes Sherlock to have some affection for her. Sherlock refers to her always as "The Woman".

Toby - A remarkable blood hound Sherlock employees in The Sign of the Four. Is not the hound from The Hound of the Baskervilles.

Baker street irregulars - Street urchins Sherlock employees for research into the goings of on of London.

BSI (Baker Street Irregulars) - Scholarly organization in America devoted to the study of Sherlock Holmes. Founded by Christopher Morley in 1934. Membership can only be earned by those who study and write about Sherlock. Members include Banesh Hoffman, Issac Asimov, Rex Stout, Harry S. Truman, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Mycroft Holmes - Sherlock's brother, seen in numerous adventures. Sherlock says that Mycroft has keener powers of deduction but does not have the energy to devote to solving crimes. Sends Sherlock out to solve mysteries that he himself does not have the energy to clobber. Holds a high security position in the British government. Is said to be the real brains behind British Intelligence.

Mrs. Hudson - caretaker of 221B Baker street. Has a tough job taking care of Holmes.

Pipe, Cap, glass, and cape - Sherlock dressed the part that he needed to play. When he was in the country he wore a hunting cap. Paget drew him once with a deerstalker cap but it is never actually written that he specifically used a deer stalker. Wore suits and tuxes when within London (he is a gentleman after all). Wore disguises and cosmetics when in character. The general image of a calabash curved pipe was first used in the cinema by Basil Rathbone and although the pipe looks cool, it is difficult so speak with and can be easily damaged through travel. Sherlock smoked with a straight pipe using shag tobacco and never cleaned his pipe. Smoked cigarettes and cigars also but less than the pipe. Cape was also first worn in movies. Magnifying glass is mentioned numerous times as well as microscopes and chemistry experiments. Holmes needed forensic evidence after all.

Beeton's Christmas Annual- First publication of Sherlock Holmes with the novel A Study in Scarlet

Lippincott's Monthly Magazine
- Second publication of Sherlock Holmes with the novel The Sign of the Four

The Strad Magazine
- Published 56 short stories and 2 serialized novels The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Valley of Fear. 20,000 people canceled their subscriptions to Strad after Sherlock was killed off and 10,000 wrote letters.

Saturday, February 16, 2008


As I said in class Sherlock Holmes does qualify as rhetoric in numerous areas. He has over 10 official museums, at least 20 different television series, dozens of movies, hundreds organizations relating to the study of, thousands of novels and mysteries, and infinite references to in popular culture.

I picked up The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes in my high school's library and have since been addicted to Sherlock Holmes mysteries as he was to cocaine and morphine.

A little history. The famous detective created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was based on Dr. Joseph Bell whom Doyle worked for at an infirmary. Dr. Bell was known for using deductive reasoning when diagnosing a patient and also helping police to solve cases on several occasions. There were two other fictional detectives that inspired Doyle (C. Auguste Dupin created by Edgar Allen Poe and Monsieur Lecoq created by Émile Gaboriau). Dr. Watson (Holmes' friend and colleague) in fact compares Holmes to both of these detectives (Doyle's way of paying homage) and Holmes remarks that Dupin is an "inferior fellow" and Lecoq is a "miserable bungler" in A Study In Scarlet. And although both can claim to be the origins of the mystery genre, neither created the mania that Doyle did. In all Doyle wrote 56 short stories and 4 novels with his short stories being more popular than the novels. Dr. John Watson met Sherlock in the first novel A Study In Scarlet where readers learned a lot and little about Sherlock. Doyle and Sherlock went through ups and downs in their writer - character relationship with Doyle even killing Holmes off in the Adventure of the Final Problem so that he could spend more time writing history. The intended final mystery ended with Holmes and his (first time mentioned) archenemy Professor James Moriarty falling off of the Richenbach waterfall. Public outcry after the death of the beloved character made Doyle bring Sherlock back to life in the novel The Hound of the Baskervilles (to have taken place before Sherlock died) and then officially back to life in "The Adventure of the Empty House" where Sherlock declared that he had faked his own death to avoid a fiasco with Moriarty's cronies and did not Watson to know, lest he be put in danger.

As stated earlier Sherlock Holmes has been the inspiration for numerous fan fiction writings, televisions series, plays, and movies. His deductive (or as some rhetoricians believe to be abductive) reasoning methods have since been taught in numerous police academies and is required by MI5 and MI6. Sherlock's most famous quote (he never actually says "Elementary, my dear Watson" according to the canon): "when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth" is now engraved in most text books that cover reasoning and logic. Holmes' use of his powers of observation (critical observation and not just looking over) have endorsed numerous crime solving methods that are still in use today such as the use of latent prints (prints, shoe, foot, bicycle), the use of tobacco ashes and cigarette butts, typewritten letter comparison, handwriting comparison to determine the physical attributes of a person as well as family lineage, the use of gunpowder residue for recently fired weaponry, bullet comparisons and even an early use of fingerprints in solving crimes.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Texas is on the map!!!

Yes, I realize that Texas is like a quarter the size of the entire U.S. and everybody knows we exist. Yet, as far as presidential primaries are concerned, Texas is invisible.
We don't vote on Super Tuesday as our primaries are held in March so the candidates never swing by when campaigning for a party nomination. Now the tables have turned. After Super Tuesday's results with both Clinton and Obama neck and neck, they're going to have to campaign in this state as well as several others that have primaries after Super Tuesday.

What does this mean for El Paso?
The candidates are forced to come here if they want the Democratic vote. As many of you know, the Rio Grande valley is composed of mainly a Hispanic population and Hispanics are known for voting Democratic (the ones that vote anyway). Hilary Clinton herself is coming to UTEP on Tuesday Feb 12 at the Don Haskins Center @ 6:30 to try and attract the Latino vote. It is unknown whether Obama will be coming to El Paso per se but he is expected to be coming to this region.

In class someone asked me about this. Yes there are democratic candidates running for State Representative. Their names are Joseph Moody and Louis Irwin. There is going to be an Issues Forum held by the Border Interfaith organization where all 11 democratic candidates for sheriff will be speaking as well as the candidates for State Representative for District 78 on Tuesday the 12th. For more information on the event contact the Border Interfaith organization at (915) 373-9504.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

The other most import races.

Yes. El Paso sheriff is not the only race occurring this election. Up for your vote is the office of State Representative, District 78 with incumbent Pat Haggerty and challenger Dee Margo. Regarding much hullabaloo in this race is the claim that Margo was forced to run for this position by Texas House speaker Tom Craddick. What is still fresh in my mind was when Margo ran against Senator Shapleigh because my high school (Coronado High School) government class organized a debate between the two candidates. I personally did no like how Margo answered his questions because he didn't seem to make a lot of sense. Shapleigh was much clearer about his responses. I believe that Shapleigh won the debate and I've since found a distaste for Margo in elections. For more information on the Haggerty-Margo race click here.

Also up for vote is the office of District Attorney with incumbent Jaime Esparza and challenger Theresa Caballero. It seems the key issue regarding this election is the booking, charging, and bonding processes that has come under fire. The system that was used up until two years ago has been said was unconstitutional. Also under the microscope is the public corruption scandal and according to the current DA, the district is cooperating with the FBI investigation.
For more information regarding the Caballero Esparza race click here.

Are you registered to vote?