Saturday, May 07, 2022

Spring Meeting Report

 

The spring meeting of the Amateur Mendicant Society of Detroit was gaveled into session at the Commonwealth Club in Warren at 6:40 p.m. on April 23, 2022.

The society’s Gasogene, John Kramb, welcomed the 35 members and guests and introduced the board members and planning committee members plus the first-time attendees.

While the buffet dinner was readied, the traditional toasts were offered, as organized by Commissionaire Chris Music.

Michael Jones toasted The Woman (Irene Adler), with a digression that included white-tailed eagles, Lola Montez, King Ludwig of Bavaria and the founding of the AMS in 1946. Next, Mark Diehl offered a toast to Mrs. Hudson (drafted by his wife Wendy) that worked in famed psychologist Abraham Mazlow, the theory of hierarchy and the stalwart service of Holmes’ landlady.

Then, John LaFond toasted the dominant mind of Mycroft Holmes, noting that he was the only character in all of The Canon to call Sherlock by his first name. Next, Rob Musial bid the multitude to raise their glasses to Watson’s Second Wife, pointing out that the fair sex was perhaps the only department in which Holmes acknowledged Watson’s authority.

Finally, newly-appointed Tide Waiter Chris Jeryan, recalling the toasts made by the late Jerry Alvin, offered a toast to the Red-Headed League. In it, she pointed out that redheads may make up only two percent of the population but have included such personages as Alexander the Great, Galileo, Mark Twain, Maureen O’Hara and of course, Ezekiah Hopkins, the late millionaire from Lebanon, Pennsylvania.

With the toasts done with, dinner was served – a buffet that included chicken piccata, braised beef, penne pasta in marinara sauce, garlic potatoes, and peas with onions. Concluding the meal was a cake honoring the Mendicants on their 76th year that featured the door of 221-B Baker Street and baked especially by the Chocolate Bar Café of Grosse Pointe Woods.

Then, Comissionaire Music led a short discussion on the assigned story, “A Study in Scarlet.” The story gives us the first meeting of Holmes and Dr. Watson and also introduces Lestrade and Gregson of Scotland Yard. Music said he had a love/hate relationship with the story, due to the long middle section which moves the action to the U.S. and supplies the Mormon back-story for several characters. This, he concluded, was because Watson and his literary agent, Arthur Conan Doyle, co-authored the story, with Doyle providing the exotic American frontier section to make the short novel more marketable.

Next the evening’s main course was served up, what was billed as “a scholarly yet entertaining paper” detailing the “3 ½ Definitive Sherlock Holmes’s: The Evolution of Popular Culture’s Greatest Hero.” 

In his presentation, author and society member David MacGregor traced the evolution of the Holmes’ character on screen and stage, working back from the recent modern-day interpretation by Benedict Cumberbatch to the faithful TV adaptation offered in the 1980s by Jeremy Brett to the classic Holmes of the 1930s/1940s as captured by Basil Rathbone on screen and radio – the first series to portray Holmes paired up with Dr. Watson (in this case Nigel Bruce). 

MacGregor also noted the first Holmes to be seen on-stage, William Gillette, who starred as Holmes in 1,300 performances over 30 years, including a silent film long thought to be lost which was found and restored in 2014. Presenting Holmes as quiet, stoic and masterful, Gillette earned the endorsement of Doyle and was the first American actor to star in a leading role on a London stage. He also popularized such Sherlockian props as the deerstalker cap, the curved pipe and the phrase, “this is elementary, my dear fellow.”

(As a sidenote, MacGregor’s third play about The Master, entitled “Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Ghost Machine” just opened at the Purple Rose Theatre in Chelsea, MI. where it will run through Aug. 27, teaming Holmes with inventors Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla – and Irene Adler.)

With the presentation concluded, Gasogene Kramb told the crowd that the next Mendicant meeting would likely be in September at a yet-to-be-determined venue.

With the meeting winding down, Christine DelGreco had names drawn for the evening’s Sherlockian door prizes, which were won by Michael Ellis, Anne Musial, Sherry & Bob Jurva, Chris Pilot and Michael Locke.

Members and guests then stood to sing a rousing chorus of “God Save the Queen” and the meeting was brought to a close with Rob Musial leading the traditional reading of Vincent Starrett’s classic poem, “221-B.”

With that, the meeting was adjourned at 9:20 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Robert Musial

-- AMS Tantalus


Friday, March 11, 2022

April 23rd Meeting Notice


“You do not know Sherlock Holmes yet…perhaps you would not care for him…”

-- Young Stamford to Dr. John Watson in the Criterion Bar       

But we know how much you care for Holmes & Watson, so we cordially invite you to join with other Sherlockians as we celebrate the first meeting of these two and the 76th anniversary of the Mendicants.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

6:00 p.m.          

The Commonwealth Club 

30088 Dequindre Rd., Warren, MI 48092

                                                                                                                                                       

Our assigned story is “A Study in Scarlet,” in which Watson and Holmes meet and team up with the Baker Street Irregulars to solve two murders – and the mystery of the Two Pills.

There will be a short discussion of the story by Chris Music and a presentation by playwright and member David MacGregor on “3 ½ Sherlock Holmeses: The Evolution of Popular Culture’s Greatest Hero.”

Also included will be the usual toasts, prizes, merriment and more.

To join us, please make checks for $30 payable to: Amateur Mendicant Society of Detroit and mail to the address below by FRIDAY, APRIL 15th. Or via PayPal at amateurmendicantsociety@gmail.com 

AMATEUR MENDICANT SOCIETY OF DETROIT

c/o  Chris Jeryan

22129 Metamora Drive

Beverly Hills, MI 48025

Our dinner will include chicken piccata, braised beef, penne pasta with marinara sauce, garlic potatoes, peas with onions, coffee, tea, and soft drinks. As always, there will also be a cash bar.


“Come at once if convenient … if inconvenient, come all the same.”


Wednesday, September 22, 2021

75th Anniversary Dinner Report

On August 15, 2021, 35 Amateur Mendicant Society of Detroit members and friends gathered in the clubby confines of the Iroquois Club in Bloomfield Township for their first meeting since October 2019.

Though long-delayed by COVID, the crowd in attendance on that Sunday afternoon seemed in good spirits and happy to once again see each other in person to celebrate the society’s 75th anniversary.


At 1:13 p.m., longtime Gasogene John Kramb called the meeting to order and introduced the society’s board members and the new attendees.


Next, playwright and Mendicant David MacGregor told the group that his third play involving the Master and Doctor Watson, “Sherlock Holmes and the Ghost Machine” would premiere next April at the Purple Rose Theatre in Chelsea, MI. More news on that will be forthcoming but playgoers can expect his usual blend of suspense and wit.


Then, the buffet luncheon was served as the group enjoyed Caesar salad, chicken piccata, parmesan cod and baked mostaccioli. This was topped off by desserta specially-prepared AMS 75th anniversary cake featuring our own Mendicant logo


The traditional AMS toasts were next served up, as organized by the Commissionaire Chris Music. Patience Nauta noted the legacy and popularity of “The Woman,”David MacGregor offered his brief investigation into the heritage of “Mrs. Hudson,” Al Calderini waxed poetical on “Mycroft Holmes” and Rich Krisciunas offered a poem indicating that Mary Morstan was indeed “Watson’s Second Wife.”


Two extra memorial toasts were also made. The first, by Rob Musial, saluted Una Stubbs, the motherly Mrs. Hudson in the BBC’s recent series “Sherlock” who had died earlier that week. The second, by Chris Jeryan, honored the many memorable toasts to the “Red-Headed League” made over the years by the late Jerry Alvin, while speculating that the League’s founder, the late Ezekiah Hopkins of Pennsylvaniaactually shared a lineage with Scotland Yard’s Inspector Stanley Hopkins, one of the few policemen of whom Holmes approved.


Since the Mendicants were coming off the long COVID-induced hiatus, this meeting’s story was “The Adventure of the Empty House,” in which Holmes comes off his own three-year hiatus to surprise Watson and, with the help of the good doctor and the venerable Mrs. Hudson, solve a murder and capture the last member of Professor Moriarty’s gang.


The “Empty House” presentation by Rob Musial discussed the high points of the storywith several easy quiz questionsHe also speculated the Holmes had closely followed the exploits of the first automotive adventuress Bertha Benz and that his research into coal tar derivatives during the Hiatus very likely included formulating gasoline. He also likely researched ballistics (which was unknown at that time) to conclusively link the air rifle bullet that killed the Honorable Ronald Adair to the exact same kind as the one Col. Sebastian Moran attempted to kill Holmes with.


Then, Chris Music and Michael Ellis (aided by PowerPointshowcased the long, magical but ofteninterrupted history of Detroit’s Mendicants. Music noted that the society began in 1946 at the venerable Cliff Bell’s in Detroit and then briefly talked about some of the group’s other notable early venues, including the Leland Hotel and the Stockholm restaurant (which in the 1970s enjoyed a brief renaissance as Detroit’s Playboy Club)


Next, Ellis delineated the December 1975 resurrection dinner of the Mendicants

brought to life (surprisingly) by members of the Wayne State University accounting department, aided by a favorable mention by local TV’s Bill Kennedy while introducing a Basil Rathbone/Holmes movie. Among those 1970s era Mendicants still participating are Ellis and Glenn Walters. The presentation also noted a 1976 Detroit Free Press Sunday magazine story by Lionel Bascom that told of the society’s tongue-in-cheek picketing of “Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother” movie for taking way too many liberties with our favorite characters.  


Then, members shared their favorite memories of meetings past, including at the Scarab Club and the historic Piquette Plant in Detroit, the January 2004 meeting at Meadow Brook Hall in a blizzard and the famous snow-blower incident at Birmingham’s former Big Rock Chophouse.


With the presentation concluded, Kramb told the gathering that the next meeting would likely be early next year, depending on the decision of the AMS board members.


Kramb then presented a special recognition award to long-time Tidewaiter, Beverly Ellis, who has decided to retire from the role.


Finally, Christine DelGreco held the door-prize drawing for a carefully curated assortment of Sherlockian books, which were won by David Koern, Lynda Locke, David MacGregor, Beverly Sobolewski (resplendent as always in period Victorian dress) and Glenn Walters.


Kramb then led the gathering in the traditional singing of “God Save the Queen” and Chris Jeryan read the closing poem, “221B.” And with that, the meeting ended at 4:15 p.m.


Respectfully submitted,

Robert Musial, Tantalus.

Friday, July 16, 2021

75th Anniversary Dinner


 Hello Everyone:

On behalf of the Planning Committee, I'm pleased to invite you to the 75th Anniversary Celebration of the Amateur Mendicant Society of Detroit.  All the details are in the flyer (attached).  The event will be held at The Iroquois Club in Bloomfield Township on Sunday, August 15.  The meeting will start at 1:00 p.m., but you may show up at 12:30 p.m. to socialize.  We have a special agenda planned, and a lovely buffet luncheon will be served.

The price to reserve your place at the meeting is $40 (a bit higher than usual, but the Pandemic has driven prices upwards).  It is important that we receive your money (via, check, PayPal, or money order) by Friday July 30.  Why?  Because we must submit a confirmed headcount to the Club, and prepay for the event by August 2.   Late arrivals with cash at the door will not be accepted.  So, please, send your commitment to Bev Ellis at 48132 Colony Farms Circle, Plymouth, MI  48170-3305 now.  Checks should be made payable to the Amateur Mendicant Society of Detroit.

I anticipate we will have a wonderful time together, finally!

Regards.

John (Gasogene)

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Fall Update from the Gasogene

 Hello Everyone:

I trust (and hope) all of you are safe and healthy as the pandemic continues with no immediate end in sight.  As you know, our little scion has suspended meetings in 2020, and it is very unlikely we will be able to meet this year.  While I personally miss the interactions and camaraderie, I'm confident you understand the risk.  We will wait until next year to resume operations once a vaccine is available.  

Some of the smaller scions have used Zoom (or other online video services) to conduct meetings.  We have about 100 members on our distribution list, and generally, we attract about 40 to 50 members to our dinner meetings.  Zoom calls for that number of potential attendees would not be effective.  I think all of us prefer the energy of face-to-face meetings, and so, we will wait until we can safely meet.

It appears that The Commonwealth Club will survive.   You may be aware that the long-time President, Stephen Barber, passed away.  There was some concern that without his leadership during the pandemic that the club would close permanently.  A new board of directors was appointed, and the club now offers take out services for the Friday fish fries..  We hope to be able to use the club again in 2021 for our dinner meetings.

I will provide further updates (periodically) as news and Sherlockian information becomes available.  In the meantime, don't forget about our club, and stay safe.


Yours in Holmes, 


John (Gasogene).

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Meeting Postponed

The AMS meeting for April 18th has been postponed.

Best Wishes,
Professor Moriarty

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Spring Meeting

Mark your calendars... the Spring Meeting of the Amateur Mendicant Society will be held on Saturday April 18th at the Commonwealth Club.   Regina Stinson and Roy Pilot to speak.   Stay tuned for more details. 

Monday, November 11, 2019

October Meeting Report

On a mild autumn night, 39 Mendicants and friends gathered at the British Commonwealth Club in still-leafy Warren, Michigan, for their annual fall dinner meeting.

With a hearty welcome, society Gasogene John Kramb called the multitude to order at 6:17 p.m. and began the familiar round of introductions of the society’s board members and the evening’s first-time guests.

Though the society was founded in 1946 and returned from its latest hiatus in 2000, Kramb noted that these were somewhat trying times for the group. For one thing, the society’s regular haunt, the Commonwealth Club, finds itself with fewer volunteers these days to staff such special evenings.

Also, the society’s attendance has slipped somewhat from a regular draw of more than 50 at such outings to its present day count. Several suggestions from the floor were made on ways to increase attendance and all are being considered, as is the idea to reduce the meetings to twice a year.
The decrease in attendance also affects what the club bills the society as it needs to charge a minimum to cover its expenses.

Consequently, the society also sought members’ opinions on whether to increase annual dues to $5 or $10. The results of that survey will be communicated soon.

With this unpleasantness out of the way, it was time to enjoy the club’s buffet dinner, which included chicken Marsala, a veddy English cut of prime roast beef plus mashed potatoes, green beans, corn and a selection of desserts.

Throughout the meal, the society’s regular toasts, organized by Commissionaire Chris Music, were offered. Fritzi Roth toasted “The Woman” (and enumerated the reasons she was so). Rachel Gosch recognized “Mrs. Hudson” as the brave landlady while Eddie Stein raised his glass to “Mycroft Holmes,” Sherlock’s older (and less ambulatory) brother. And finally, Glenn Walter’s offered his own poetic creation about “Watson’s Second Wife.”

Next, member Michael Ellis offered talking points and an expansive 20-question quiz on the evening’s assigned story, “The Adventures of the Devil’s Foot.” The quiz was developed by one of Michigan’s other Sherlockian scions, the Greek Interpreters of East Lansing.

Then it was time for the volunteer Amateur Mendicant Players to take the stage to provide a reading of the new play, “Sherlock Holmes & The Adventure of the Fallen Soufflé,” written by member David MacGregor and currently being performed at the Purple Rose Theatre in Chelsea, Michigan. The players included MacGregor as Holmes, Rachel Gosch as Irene Adler, Michael Jones as Prince Bertie, Rob Musial as Dr. Watson and Victoria Landes as the evil Marie. Those in attendance thoroughly enjoyed the performance even though the understudies at the Purple Rose should have nothing to worry about.

The meat of the evening came next as member Rich Krisciunas, drawing on his 40 years as a lawyer and his work as a former county prosecutor, presented his investigation titled “No Obstruction but Much Collusion.” In it, he made the case (in spite of a balky PowerPoint) that while Holmes may have broken laws here and there in the Canon (among them burglary and carrying a weapon), the likelihood of his being convicted was slim. Perhaps the only way to get Holmes in the stocks would have been if Dr. Watson was granted immunity to testify against his friend – and the chances of that were zero.

As the meeting wound down, the regular drawing for a bounty of door prizes were awarded, including Sherlock Holmes socks, books, a poster and a DVD featuring actor Christopher Lee as the great detective. Among the winners were Chris Music, Anne Musial Eddie Stein, Dave Mandziuk, Patience Nauta, Lois Krawczyk and Dave MacGregor.

Finally, Rachel Gosch led the multitude in the singing of “God Save the Queen” and Christine Jeryan recited the meeting’s traditional coda, the poem “221B.”

Following that, Gasogene Kramb gaveled the meeting to a close at 8:39 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Robert Musial
-- AMS Tantalus

Friday, August 16, 2019

Fall Meeting

 ATTENTION SHERLOCKIANS!

The next dinner meeting of the Amateur Mendicant Society of Detroit:

6 p.m. Saturday, October 19th, 2019

Commonwealth Club of Detroit
30088 Dequindre
Warren, MI

Story for discussion: "The Adventure of the Devil's Foot"

Sherlockian Presentation: "No Obstruction but Much Collusion," by Rich Krisciunas.

Bonus: David McGregor reads from his new play, "Sherlock Holmes & the Fallen Souffle."

Plus the usual toasts, prizes & more.

Dinner: $30 per person.  Your payment is due Tuesday, October 8th

Please contact amateurmendicantsociety@gmail.com for payment details

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

June Meeting Report

Though thunderstorms postponed part of the Detroit Grand Prix events earlier in the day, 46 stalwart Sherlockians convened at the veddy British Commonwealth Club on Saturday, June 1st for the annual spring meeting of the Amateur Mendicant Society of Detroit.

The meeting was called to order at 6:20 p.m. by the society’s Gasogene, John Kramb, who welcomed the lively crowd and introduced the planning committee and board members.

After encouraging those in attendance to bring a friend to the fall meeting, Kramb reminded the audience that the society had to confirm the headcount of those who paying for the dinner meetings a week in advance. “Future credits” will no longer be allowed and the membership supported this change.

The Gasogene also reminded folks to alert Bev Ellis of any email changes so members do not miss any of the society’s announcements.

Kramb next acknowledged the members of the society’s Lower Vault, a select group of those who have served the AMS as officers or planning committee members and those who have done scholarly (or not-so-scholarly) presentations at the meetings.

Members then observed a moment of silence “on the terrace” for longtime Mendicant Elaine Roberts, who had recently passed away at 99 and who had likely been the society’s longest-attending member. She was a gracious, lovely lady and her memorial service was set for 2 p.m. June 6th at St. Philip Episcopal Church in Rochester Hills.

Next came the evening’s traditional toasts, with Rich Krisciunas honoring “The Woman,” Al Calderini raising a glass to Mrs. Hudson, John Sherwood offering a very well-received toast to Mycroft Holmes and Jim O’Keefe saluting Watson’s Second Wife.

Along with the toasts, the attendees also enjoyed the evening’s repast – a tossed salad, chicken Marsala, ginger pork, roasted potatoes, veggies and dessert.

Following the meal, member Michael Ellis took the podium to provide the talking points on the evening’s story, “The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton. Informative and witty, Ellis reviewed the story involving Ecsott, Agatha and the so-called “king of blackmailers” who kept his salacious material in a green-and-gold safe. Holmes and Watson were on the case until fate stepped in and played hand – leaving Holmes to turn down Inspector Lestrade’s request for help, since Holmes believed blackmail to be a worse crime than murder.

That served as the introduction to the evening’s presentation by member Scott Monty, B.S.I., and his investigation into “A Powerful Ring of Blackmailers.” Scott’s presentation noted that Holmes had dealt with 50 murderers in his career before the Milverton case, “but the worst of them never gave me the repulsion which I have for this fellow.”

Monty then briefly elucidated the history of the word “blackmail” before bringing the term into Holmes’ era – “an age when one’s reputation was everything (and) blackmail was the ultimate insidious crime.”  He then reviewed the ten instances in the Canon in which blackmail is a factor – or first thought to be a factor. The members correctly guessed each one, which Monty later attributed to either their familiarity with the Canon or their experience with blackmail.

Next up, the AMS Players, organized by Chris Jeryan, read a scene originally from a 1939 radio broadcast that featured one of the consummate Sherlocks, Basil Rathbone, in the lead role. Ably donning Holmes’ shoes was our own Bev Sobolewski with Al Calderini as Watson. The reading was enthusiastically received by the membership.

With the evening winding down, the Gasogene then announced that the fall meeting of the AMS would be Saturday, October 19th at the Commonwealth Club. So save that date!

A panoply of prizes were next awarded, under the direction of Christine Del Greco. They included British tea cups & boxes of tea, a Sherlock Holmes consulting detective game, a silver Sherlockian charm bracelet, the book “Prisoner of the Devil” by Michael Hardwick (detailing Holmes’ efforts in the Dreyfus Case) and finally, a pair of Sherlockian socks, direct from England and bearing the Master’s silhouette.

The lucky winners included Elaine Johnson, Bob Jurva, Rich Krisciunas, David MacGregor, Dave Mandziuk and George Vanderburgh.

Following that, the assembled multitude stood for the traditional singing of “God Save the Queen” and the poem “221B” was read by Commissionaire Chris Music.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:40 p.m. – to applause.

Respectfully submitted,
Christine Del Greco & Rob Musial
-- for the AMS