Monday, September 12, 2011

Fall Meeting Report

The Adventure of the Big Rock

The Big Rock Chophouse & Brewery in the swanky suburb of Birmingham, Michigan was the setting for the September 10, 2011 meeting of The Amateur Mendicant Society of Detroit.

Gasogene John Kramb convened the meeting at 1:14 p.m. and welcomed the 53 attendees (including six first-time guests) to the event, held in the Big Rock’s pleasant Terrace Room, within sight of the giant copper kettles used to craft the eatery’s signature brew.

After brief introductions of the AMS board members and planning committee, Kramb dispensed with miscellaneous club business, noting the double 65th anniversary of the AMS as well as Detroit’s legendary Buddy’s Pizza, the availability of club shirts and caps (through member Gloria Longueil) and what a bargain the annual Mendicant dues of $12 are.

Two Mendicants, Philip K. Jones and Chris Music, were also cited for their submissions to the Baker Street Journal, which published their individual works among the nine articles in its most recent summer issue. Jones itemized and categorized the Untold Tales in the Canon while Music detailed the important work of an archivist in preserving the proceedings of groups like the Mendicants.

Such business dispensed with, the attendees tucked into their meal choices of either chicken piccata in a lemon/garlic/white wine sauce, flatiron steak with a mushroom Bordelaise sauce or grilled salmon with chimichurri sauce, accompanied by chef’s salad, an excellent accoutrement of fresh vegetables and bakehouse bread, capped by a sorbet-and-cookie dessert.

During this gustatory exposition, attendees took time for the usual and some special toasts by Richard Jeryan (concerning the career and background of The Woman), by Rob Musial (to Watson’s Second Wife), by Chris Jeryan (to Mrs. Hudson and the exhilarating effect of haggis), by Chris Music (to Mycroft Holmes, said by some to be Sherlock’s smarter, older brother) and by Jerry Alvin (who connected the discovery of the RH factor to founder of the Red-Headed League, the late millionaire from Lebanon, Pennsylvania, one Ezekiah Hopkins).

Next, Commissionaire Music gave a quiz on the meeting’s required reading, “The Noble Bachelor.” Tying with all 11 correct answers were Fritzi Roth, who took home the scholar’s ribbon and medallion (suitable for engraving) and Chris Jeryan who opted for the shaving mug emblazoned with the U.S. and British flags and accompanied a cake of rare English shaving soap. This relic, donated by Anne Musial, honors Holmes’ vision at the end of this month’s story.

Wrapping up discussion of the story, Tantalus Musial also offered a limerick about it that was composed by the legendary science fiction writer (and Sherlockian) Isaac Asimov while Jones, drawing on his BSJ scholarship, recapped the untold tales mentioned in “The Noble Bachelor.”

The afternoon’s main course were presentations by two medical Mendicants en regalia, Ed Stein (BS, OD) and David Mohan (BA, MS, MD etc.) on why Watson’s wounds in the Second Anglo-Afghan War resulted in numerous discrepancies and inaccuracies in his telling of Holmes’ tales.

It was Stein’s contention that Watson suffered from a refractive error, astigmatism and presbyopia, which caused him to squint (as captured in the portrayal of Watson by actor Edward Hardwicke) and to mistake numbers and dates. Though easily corrected by glasses, Stein believes that Watson, who noted that his “experience with women extends over many nations and three continents” avoided corrective lenses because he was concerned about his image around the fairer sex.

In his paper, Mohan contended that Watson’s wound from a Jezail bullet during the Afghan conflict caused a form of dyscalculia, which led to him garbling dates and numbers, something that has frustrated Sherlockian scholars ever since. Backed by medical diagrams, angiograms and CT scans, Mohan showed that such a wound (and the resulting Bernoulli Effect) would have created a dysfunction of the angular gyrus, leading Watson to scramble numbers and dates.

As the applause died down at the conclusion of both medical exams, Anne Musial held the drawing for this meeting’s door prize, an imported tin of English biscuits, which was won by Elaine Johnson. Drawing the winning name was first-time guest Devin Rosni.

The meeting concluded at 3:43 p.m., after the singing of “God Save the Queen” and the reading of the traditional poem, “221-B” by Richard Jeryan, the club’s Lascar.

Respectfully submitted,

Robert Musial
AMS Tantalus


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