Welcome! Like the book of the same name, this blog is an eclectic collection of Sherlockian scribblings based on more than a half-century of reading Sherlock Holmes. Please add your own thoughts. You can also follow me on Twitter @DanAndriacco and on my Facebook fan page at Dan Andriacco Mysteries. You might also be interested in my Amazon Author Page. My books are also available at Barnes & Noble and in all main electronic formats including Kindle, Nook, Kobo and iBooks for the iPad.

Monday, July 1, 2024

Sherlockians on the Turf in Chicago

Sherlockians "on track" after the 65th running of the Silver Blaze racea
Saturday saw the 65th running of the Chicago “Silver Blaze” race, now jointly sponsored by the Torists International and the Watsonians, two scion societies of the Baker Street Irregulars. It’s the longest running such race in the country. And no trainers were killed in the process.

Race day details at Hawthorne Race Court were flawlessly presided over by Phil Cunningham of the Watsonians, ably assisted by his wife Loraine. The crowd included a healthy contingent of Illustrious Clients from Indianapolis, who designated the event as their annual field trip. The Silver Blaze race was the third of the day. Whichever horse won, neither Ann nor I bet on him.

Weekend festivities for Sherlockians gathered in Chicagoland began the night before with an informal cocktail hour gathering at a Marriott hotel, followed by a dinner meeting of the Torists International at Palermo’s of 63rd, where the food and hospitality were top-notch. Co-Chief Stewards of the Torists, Linda Crohn and Jon Shimberg, had everything incredibly well organized.

Dinner speaker Monica Schmidt put John Straker on the metaphorical couch with her talk on “A Horse of a Different Color: The Double Life of John Straker.” I was honored to be one of three Sherlockians offering toasts, along with Louise Haskett (to Mrs. Straker) and Dino Argyropoulos (to Silver Blaze).

My toast was to “The Dog in the Night-Time,” and here it is:

What did the dog in “Silver Blaze” do to warrant fame? Absolutely nothing! And yet allusions to this inactive canine are to be found in legal writings, crime fiction, and popular culture.

That master researcher Ira Matetsky reports well over a hundred U.S. court decisions mentioning “Silver Blaze” or a metaphorical non-barking dog—a number that continues to grow each year.

And as early as 1928, in his “Twenty Rules for Writing Detective Stories,” S.S. Van Dine listed among the clichés to be avoided, “The dog that doesn’t bark and thereby reveals the fact that the intruder is familiar.”

Fast forward 66 years to a cartoon published on January 28, 1994. Charlie Brown is reading aloud to Snoopy from “Silver Blaze.” After he hears, “the dog did nothing in the night-time,” Snoopy thinks to himself, “My favorite part.”

Five generations of Sherlockians have agreed—it’s our favorite part, too. So let us raise our glasses to that idle, unnamed, and yet renowned dog who did nothing in the night-time.

The Torists meeting concluded with Ann Lewis singing “221B” to a tune of her own composition. It was beautiful, and incredibly moving—one of many highlights of a five-star weekend.

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