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Although Sherlock Holmes is not the original fictional detective (he was influenced by Edgar Allan Poe’s C. Auguste Dupin and Émile Gaboriau’s Monsieur Lecoq, for both of whom the character openly expressed disdain or contempt), his name has become a byword for the part. His stories also include several detective story characters, such as the loyal but less intelligent assistant, a role for which Dr Watson has become the archetype. The investigating detective became a popular genre with many authors such as Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers after the demise of Holmes, with characters such as Hercule Poirot and Lord Peter Wimsey. Forensic methods became less important than the psychology of the criminal, despite the strong growth in forensics in use by the police in the early 20th century.
Of course, one of the phrases most closely identified with Sherlock Holmes the character is “Elementary my dear Watson.” Just like the famous phrase “Play it again Sam” (that never was actually said by Rick or Ilsa), Holmes never actually says “Elementary…”
Doyle’s Holmes stories and novels are called the “Canon of Sherlock Holmes” to differentiate between the original writings and all the folks who have taken their own liberties with the Holmes legend. I know I discovered Doyle’s first book of short stories, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes at about age 12. I think my grandmother had it. From there I know I read The Hound of the Baskervilles, A Study in Scarlet, and The Sign of the Four. I’ve read a few of the Holmes books and stories by others and I think the Seven-Per-Cent Solution by Nicholas Meyer is about the best of these.
By my count, there have been 79 different actors to play Sherlock Holmes on stage, screen, television, radio but Basil Rathbone is the “gold standard” of Holmes, appearing at least fifteen times. Of course, only the first two movies, The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes are set in Victorian England. The remainder of the films and Homes got transplanted to “modern times” (i.e., contemporary for when they are made) with many of the plots revolving around Nazi spies and super secret weapons. But I know that I and many of my friends would camp out in front of the TV late at night in college when one of the local stations played all the old Sherlock Holmes movies.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle actually had a life outside of his writings as a physician and managed to solve a couple of real life crimes, resulting in two wrongly convicted men being exonerated. For creating an iconic character copied and added to by writers the world over, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has to be considered an influential writer.
And because I can:
I’m not sure what I was thinking when I decided to write about Jules Verne this morning. If I had known it before, I had forgotten that Verne was French. According to the wiki:
Verne is generally considered a major literary author in France and most of Europe, where he has had a wide influence on the literary avant-garde and on surrealism. His reputation is markedly different in Anglophone regions, where he has often been labeled a writer of genre fiction or children’s books, not least because of the highly abridged and altered translations in which his novels are often reprinted.
Verne is the second most translated author in the world (following Agatha Christie), and his works appear in more translations per year than those of any other writer. Verne is one writer sometimes called “The Father of Science Fiction,” as are H. G. Wells and Hugo Gernsback.[a]
I know I was thinking of the science fiction and fantasy part of things. Over the years, the only book of Verne’s I know I read was Around the World in 80 Days which I read back in high school although it is more of an adventure story than sci-fi. But Journey to the Center of the Earth, Twenty Thousands Leagues Under the Sea, From the Earth to the Moon, and Around the Moon are all titles that fit the sci-fi or fantasy world.
By my count, Verne wrote 64 novels, 21 short stories, 2 non-fiction, 8 essays (including one on Edgar Allen Poe), and 14 plays!
The Internet Movie Data Base (IMDB) shows Verne as the “writer” for 153 productions that include a mix of movies and TV productions.
Around the World in 80 Days has been made into at least two films, the first starring David Niven, Shirley MacLaine, and many others and the second has Jackie Chan and Steve Coogan. There is also a TV miniseries starring Pierce Brosnan and many others.
These are just a few of the efforts based on Verne’s writings.
And because I can:
Footlongs. Jumbos. Franks. Red hots.
I think most of us prefer the lowly hot dog fixed the same way we most likely first had them as a kid and I’m no different. I most prefer boiled or steamed as that is how my mom made them most of the time but I have had them fried, grilled, baked, nuked (microwave), and whatever it is called that most gas station dogs are cooked. If I go to a baseball game, I’m pretty much guaranteed to have at least one hot dog and no long road trip is ever really a road trip without stopping for at least one dog to go from the gas station.
While the dog is often considered kid food, there are a lot of adults who still enjoy that taste of preservatives, nitrates, and mystery meat. I have changed a little from how I liked them as a kid. As a kid, I just put a little ketchup on mine and now I usually add some onions as well. I know. I know. To the purist, it is a heresy to just have ketchup or even to think of having ketchup on the dog but I don’t really care. I like ‘em the way I like ‘em.
At one time, there was a restaurant chain called Lums who used the hook of the hot dog steamed in beer. Unfortunately, last time I saw a Lums was in Ft Walton Beach, FL sometime in the summer of ’86 and they were no longer using beer for their dogs. I remember asking the manager at the time and he said they had gotten complaints from some of the religious folks so had stopped doing it.
There are all sorts of extras/condiments for dogs. Sauerkraut, onions, cheese, relish, ketchup, and mustard being the most basic. I sometimes will make a pot of chili just so I can have a couple of chili dogs later.
While I do prefer the boiled or steamed, most times these days, I cheat a little bit. I have a little rectangular plastic dish that I can put a couple of dogs in, cover them with water then into the microwave for a couple of minutes on high. Pour off the water, then plop the dogs into the bun (or a slice of bread) and add the ketchup and onion and chow down.
One of the things I liked about the year I worked in Manhattan and before that, worked in New Haven, was the ability to pop out of the office and grab a “dirty water dog” out on the street.
Summertime is the time for grilling the dogs as part of the cook out. While it is not my most favorite way to cook the dog, I’m still likely to have at least one dog off the grill during the summer.
Sometimes I’ll make my own “beanie-weenie” by making a couple of dogs, then cutting them into smaller pieces and adding to some baked beans (along with some onion, bits of green bell pepper, bacon, and other bits of seasoning). My mom used to score the dogs diagonally then cover them with barbecue sauce and bake at 350 for about 15 – 20 minutes.
So how do you like your dogs?
And because I can:
I have no idea which John D. MacDonald book was my first read of his. I’m guessing I was probably in high school at the time. But I do know I started reading most everything he had written when I was in college, though again, I’m not sure which book triggered the devouring.
MacDonald is probably best remembered today for the Travis McGee series:
Travis McGee is a fictional character, created by prolific American mystery writer John D. MacDonald. Unlike most detectives in crime fiction, McGee is neither a police officer nor a licensed private investigator; instead, he is a self-described “salvage consultant” who recovers others’ property for a fee. McGee appeared in 21 novels, from The Deep Blue Good-by in 1964 to The Lonely Silver Rain in 1984. In 1980, the McGee novel The Green Ripper won the National Book Award.
Travis McGee lives on a custom-made 52-foot barge-type houseboat dubbed The Busted Flush (after the poker hand, in memory of the game enabling him to win it), docked at Slip F-18 at Bahia Mar Marina, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. A self-described “beach bum” who takes his retirement “in installments”, he prefers to take on new cases only when the spare cash (besides a reserve fund) in a hidden safe in the Flush runs low. McGee also owns a custom Rolls-Royce that had been converted into a pickup truck long before he bought it, and painted “a horrid electric blue” by the same hand that did the conversion. McGee named it Miss Agnes, after one of his elementary school teachers whose hair was the same shade.
How influential is MacDonald and Travis McGee? Ft Lauderdale has a marker honoring them at Slip F-18 at Bahia Mar Marina.
The McGee books have not had much success at being made into movies (so far). The seventh of the McGee books, Darker Than Amber was made into a movie starring Rod Taylor. Sam Elliott starred in a TV movie based on The Empty Copper Sea. Just a couple of weeks ago, there were reports that mystery writer Dennis Lehane is going to be writing a screen play for the first McGee book, The Deep Blue Good-by and that Leonardo DiCaprio producing and starring.
The movie(s) Cape Fear, based on the book The Executioners are probably the most well known adaptations of MacDonald’s work. The first version of the movie, out in 1962, starred Gregory Peck and Robert Mitchum. The second version, from 1991 and directed by Martin Scorsese, starred Nick Nolte in the Peck role and Robert DeNiro in the Mitchum role as the bad guy. Mitchum, Peck, and Martin Balsam all had parts in the later version after having been in the first version as well.
MacDonaldalso wrote a lot of short stories and even some science-fiction. The Girl, the Gold Watch, and Everything is a fun read.
MacDonald was also well ahead of his time in his concerns for the environment. In November 2011, I wrote a Late Night post for FDL titled The Virus Theory of Mankind where I quoted a paragraph from A Deadly Shade of Gold, the fifth McGee book, first published in 1965 and I’d like to close today with that paragraph:
It was a cheap and dirty little death, a dingy way to die. When dawn came, there would be a hundred thousand more souls alive in the world than on the previous day, three quarters of a million more every week. This is the virus theory of mankind. The pretentious virus, never knowing that it is a disease. Imagine the great ship from a far galaxy which inspects a thousand green planets and then comes to ours and, from on high, looks down at all the scabs, the buzzings, the electronic jabberings, the poisoned air and water, the fetid night glow. A little cave-dwelling virus mutated, slew the things which balanced the ecology, and turned the fair planet sick. An overnight disease, racing and explosive compared with geological time. I think they would be concerned. They would be glad to have caught it in time. By the time of their next inspection, a hundred thousand years hence, this scabrous growth might have infected this whole region of an unimportant galaxy. They would push the button. Too bad. This happens every once in a while. Make a note to re-seed it the next time around, after it has cooled down