Friday, November 16, 2018

Fall Meeting Report

As befits a meeting centered around the late prima donna of the Imperial Opera of Warsaw, the October 2018 meeting of the Amateur Mendicant Society of Detroit was held at the Polka Restaurant in bucolic Troy, Michigan.

Some 37 Mendicants and friends gathered at the restaurant, across the street from the Polish Cultural Center, for a Sunday afternoon of gustation, discussion and comradeship.
AMS Gasogene John Kramb called the assembly to order at 1:41 p.m., welcoming all and introducing the society’s board members, the planning committee and members of the society’s prestigious Lower Vault. Especially welcomed were two first-time attendees, Lynne Haas and Rich Kriscinaus.

Next, as organized by Commisionaire Chris Music, the society’s traditional toasts were offered to “The Woman,” (by Christine Del Greco), Mrs. Hudson (by Velda Dykehouse), Mycroft Holmes (by George Vanderburgh) and Watson’s Second Wife (by Al Calderini).

Throughout the afternoon, there was trouble with the microphone. A subsequent investigation found that the great grandson of Col. Sebastian Moran had tampered with the equipment, while cleverly disguised as one of the restaurant’s busboys.

But the crowd was not dismayed, thanks largely to the fine fare prepared for the brunch, which included pierogi, stuffed cabbage, chicken schnitzel, potatoes (those spared from the vodka vat), and the usual accompaniments.

After the meal, the society’s Tantalus Rob Musial went over the talking points of the assigned story, “A Scandal in Bohemia,” quizzing the multitude here and there on various aspects of the tale.
Among other revelations, this story was the first to be illustrated by artist Sydney Paget, that the disputed photo in the tale was only 4” x 5 ½” and that the BBC’s modern-day version of the story in 2012 depicted Irene Adler as a dominatrix – which became the network’s most-watched show that year.

The main course of the afternoon came next as member Rachel Gosch offered her presentation, “The Cat and The Woman: How a Scandal in Bohemia created a Feline Fatale.”

Through her research, Gosch was able to show that the character of Irene Adler was reborn in 1940s comic books and pulp fiction as Catwoman, the sometime nemesis of Batman. Some of the parallels between the characters were eerie, leading Gosch to reliably assert that Adler clearly had inspired Bob Kane and Bill Finger when they created Batman’s feline fatale. Ironically, one of the later comic book iterations of Catwoman portrayed her as a dominatrix.

Next, Gasogene Kramb took the podium to tell the throng that the next meeting of the Mendicants would be Saturday night January 19, 2019 at the society’s traditional gathering place, the Commonwealth Club in Warren.

Then the drawing for the door prizes was held, with Dinah Bianchi winning a deerstalker cap, Kathy Rudes taking home a collection of English teas, Glenn Walters winning a volume of Holmes’ stories, Michael Clyne earning a DVD of two Holmes’ movies, Janet Biblewski getting the book “Murder in Baker street” and Elaine Johnson taking home another Holmes’-related prize.

Finally, after the Tantalus led the group in singing of “God Save the Queen” and the Commissionaire read the traditional meeting closer (the poem “221B”), the Gasogene gaveled the meeting to a close at 3:58 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Rob Musial
AMS Tantalus