The Complete Sherlock Holmes?

The summer between seventh and eighth grade I took a copy of The Complete Sherlock Holmes from the middle school library and read all four original novels and fifty-six short stories. Play ball? Go swimming? Nah. I read “A Study in Scarlet” to “His Last Bow.” Don’t think I got a sunburn the whole summer, losing myself in the mists and fog of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century London. I’ve been a fan ever since.

In the 1980’s and early 1990’s Granada Television featured Jeremy Brett as the legendary consulting detective, and two actors as his faithful companion, Dr. John Watson (played at different times by David Burke and Edward Hardwicke – Hardwicke was my favorite). Brett wanted his Holmes to be the best the world had ever seen and has certainly been that for me. When PBS’s Masterpiece announced a contemporary adaptation I was skeptical. Hopeful and curious, but skeptical.

Last weekend we watched the first episode of “Sherlock” called “A Study in Pink,” with Benedict Cumberbatch (what a great name!) and Martin Freeman (“The Office” (UK) and “Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy”). I was completely taken by it and have watched it two or three more times online since. It’s clearly a somewhat loose adaptation, but I thought the parallels were very good and that Cumberbatch’s Holmes was terrific. I especially liked the use of text messages in place of the notes and telegrams Holmes would sent Watson in the original stories, their flat at 221B Baker Street, and the use of modern but still distinctive London taxicabs.

I wanted to reread “A Study in Scarlet” to make a more complete comparison of old and new but, much to my chagrin, I didn’t actually have a print copy (the volume I read when I was twelve long since returned to the middle school library). But I’m ready to watch another installment tonight and see if they can keep the spirit of the world’s most famous consulting detective alive and relevant more than a hundred years after the stories first appeared. Whether Benedict Cumberbatch’s Holmes measures up to Brett’s, only time will tell, but I think there’s room for an engaging, updated, yet still faithful to the spirit of the original version where you won’t have to choose – you can have both!

Because It’s There

Last year I attended the ICMA annual conference in Montreal. On my way I stopped at the Vermont visitor information center (and rest area, of course) on I-93 just over the border from New Hampshire. The old guy staffing the place was friendly, chatty even (for a Vermonter), and pointed out the Green Mountain Coffee Roasters coffee. As it was almost the end of the day, he said it was complimentary because he’d just end up dumping it anyway.

After driving to and from Montreal last year I resolved to ride Route 302 through the White Mountain National Forest. With the weather turning colder and winter not so far away, and my wife and our youngest in southern New Hampshire for softball for the day, I decided to take advantage of today’s sunshine and mid-fifties temperatures to get in at least one long ride before the season comes to a close.

The bike hasn’t been running well since sitting over last winter with E10 slowly evaporating in each of its four teeny-tiny carburetors. Sea Foam seemed to work for a while. Then, a few weeks ago, in the middle of another Sunday afternoon ride the thing started acting up again. Something seemed to break loose, gumming up jets, floats, or something in the fuel delivery system. It’s been hesitating, running rough, not wanting to idle smoothly, just all around not a whole lot of fun. Starting off, and under part throttle it’s really pathetic. At speed and under load, particularly hard acceleration, things seem to smooth out and the bike has the F-14 on afterburner acceleration I remember. Since Sea Foam seems not to have done anything this time around I have given Star Tron a try. For all I know, all Sea Foam and Star Tron (and the legion of other fuel additives that claim to clean carburetors and fuel injection systems) are good at is separating you from your money. But the Sea Foam seemed to work earlier this year. I’m still on my first bottle of Star Tron and will let you know how it goes.

As for today, from here to Waterford, Vermont and back, 290 miles, through the White Mountain National Forest, past the Mount Washington Hotel and Josiah Bartlett School, coffee and cookies at the Vermont I-93 visitor center, the Franconia Notch Parkway and Kancamagus Highway, six hours and fifteen minutes, and 43.7 miles per gallon later. Not a bad day.