Monday, November 10, 2008

From the Gasogene

Greetings Amateur Mendicants:

As I write this, I’ve recently returned from the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix, held over the Labor Day weekend (Editors note: OK, so I'm a little late posting this). It was dedicated to LeMans - series sports and closed wheel racing cars and was quite entertaining.

Now, astute readers may recognize that “Detroit”, “Belle Isle”, “grand prix”, and “LeMans" are all French words. Which also might remind us, of course, that Sherlock Holmes was of French origin. In “The Greek Interpreter”, Holmes claimed that, “My ancestors were country squires…my grandmother…was the sister of Vernet, the French artist.”

It should be of little surprise, then, that Holmes’ quirky and, occasional, moody behavior, might reflect the French temperament.
But I digress.

With a change in seasonal moods, we’ve set our fall meeting of the Amateur Mendicant Society (the fourth of this calendar year) at a new venue, the historic Dakota Inn in Detroit.

Rather than write a narrative recap of the Mendicant year, let me offer you a brief summary of our 2008 so far:

By the Numbers:

Meetings held: 4 (Feb. 2, May 4, Aug. 2, Oct. 11)
Venues: 3 (Commonwealth Club, Detroit Yacht Club, Dakota Inn)
Papers presented: 4; Winter (Roy Pilot – Narcotics in the Canon); Spring (Rob Musial - Bruce Partington submarines); Summer (Regina Stinson - Holmes in Film); Fall (David Mohan - Irene Adler)
AMS attendees at meetings: 213
Toasts given: 18
Lascars appointed: 1 (Richard Jeryan)
Beggar's Cap newsletters published: 2 (May and September)
Beers consumed at meetings: 527 (good grief!)
Lifetime achievement awards given: 3 (Jerry Alvin and Edward Stein and one in process)
Stories Discussed: “Second Stain” (winter), “Naval Treaty” (spring), “Reigate Squires” (summer), “Copper Beeches” (fall)
Number of words in “The Naval Treaty”: 12,631
Planning meetings conducted: 6 (all at the Commonwealth Club on “fish and chips” night)
Beggar's Cup writing awards presented: 2 (Michael Ellis and David Mohan)
Sherlockian porcelain tiles (with S. Paget portraits of Holmes) auctioned: 4

“God Save the Queen” sung (out of tune): 4 times
Steak pies consumed: 93 (gasp!)
Tributes to Ezekiah Hopkins, founder of the Red Headed League: 2 (given by Jerry Alvin)
AMS Website updates: 12 YTD; 16 by year end
Quizzes administered: Only 1 so far (Spring meeting; winners: Regina Stinson 1st, Chris Jeryan 2nd)
Announcements made by Ray Mandzuik - 27 (just kidding, Ray)

So, by most any measure, we have had a fun and successful year.

As an aside, precautions must be taken to insure our little scion is not infiltrated with (ahem ) “undesirables.”

At the summer meeting, a new person attended, a “W. Scott Monty”, an alias name if I ever heard one.

Then, in the most recent edition of the “Jib Sheet”, the newsletter of the Detroit Yacht Club (issued just after our meeting at the club), I found the following “new member” announcement:

“The Membership Committee would like to Welcome the following new members to the Detroit Yacht Club.

Kathleen Vandelaare & James Moriarty (!)”

So, beware, and remember – “Loose lips sink ships”.

In conclusion, dear friends, I thank you for your active support and participation in 2008.
And I assure you that, looking forward, we are planning a series of meetings for 2009 that will be fun and entertaining for the membership along with paying homage to our mentors, Sherlock Holmes and Dr James Watson.

Yours in Holmes,

John Kramb, Gasogene.

Fall Meeting Minutes

Some 37 members and guests enjoyed their own version of Oktoberfest at the Fall 2008 meeting of the Amateur Mendicant Society of Detroit.

Gasogene John Kramb called the Saturday afternoon luncheon meeting to order at 1:29 p.m. Oct. 11 inside a Detroit landmark, the Dakota Inn Rathskeller.

Gasogene Emeritus Roy Pilot briefly enumerated some of the big Holmesian events coming up in 2009 but these will be recapped at a later date.

Next, longtime Mendicant Bobbi Gorevitz received the club’s special framed award, complete with an English tuppence, from Gasogene Kramb in honor of her long and faithful service and cheerful demeanor.

The usual toasts were offered to The Woman (by Rob Musial); Mrs. Hudson (Phil Jones); brother Mycroft (Frank Hostnik) and Watson’s Second Wife (not sure who).

Also toasted was a strange ursine creature, Bearlock Holmes (Bev Sobolewski). It seems this diminutive Inverness-clad creature has been attending meetings for some time now, but without paying dues since the club has, at present, no membership category for teddy bears.

As for the repast, it consisted of the best of the wurst, including bratwurst and knackwurst plus schnitzel, German potato salad and yah, some strudel along with the appropriate beverages.

As for the meat of the program, Commissionaire Chris Music provided discussion points on the story of the day, “The Adventure of the Copper Beeches,” which raised eyebrows in some circles by alluding to Violet Hunter’s secret crush on Holmes. It was enough to give one a case of the vapors.

Next, palates were whetted by Tantalus Musial who offered a brief monograph on “The Armament Question or Germans in the Canon,” a paper that deftly recounted the appearances of Germans in the Sherlock stories, not to mention in British royalty. Musial also managed to link that classic Canonical adventure, “A Scandal in Bohemia” to Detroit’s own Stroh’s Bohemian Beer.

All of which, of course, merely set the stage for the main course, a scholarly investigation by Dr. David Mohan on Holmes’ view of the fairer sex plus the identity of the real-life personage who served as the model for Irene Adler.

Contrary to the commonly-accepted wisdom of Holmes as a misogynist, Dr. Mohan was able to show that The Master had quite an understanding of and sympathy for women. Following the slenderest of threads, Mohan next categorically proved that the real model for Adler was none other than the famed chanteuse Lola Montez (cue the tambourine). Among the other facts marshaled by Mohan was the singular one that Ms. Montez had carried on with the model for the Bavarian count in the story, King Ludwig of Bavaria.

After the assemblage had time to digest that supposition, the door prize of a Sherlock Holmes pub towel was won and taken home by none other than member Cary Black.

Commissionaire Music then informed the group that the next meeting of the AMS would take place on January 31, 2009 at the club’s home base, the Commonwealth Club in suburban Warren. Details will be forthcoming.

Because of the location, there was one more song besides the club’s traditional coda, the singing of “God Save the Queen.” That occurred when a dirndl-clad waitress led the gathering in a rousing rendition of the Inn’s famous “Yah, dis ist mein Schnitzelbank” song.

With that, Gasogene Kramb adjourned the meeting at 4:31 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Robert Musial