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The View from Sherlock Peoria
No. 495, December 25, 2011

Blue Hard

Well, it's Christmas day here at Sherlock Peoria, and outside of that one unexpected Sherlockian gift, what does that mean?

The Unexpected Sherlockian Gift
(Occupy Baker Street lives!)

Well, it means classic Christmas tales. Like the short story "The Blue Carbuncle" for one. And the movie "Die Hard" for another. But really, aren't they the same story, after all, in a mirror-image sort of fashion?

Take the opening of each, for example. John H. Watson has moved away from his former partner, Sherlock Holmes, and is coming to call on him for Christmas. John McClane's wife, Holly Gennaro, has moved away from her former partner and John is coming to call on her for Christmas.

John Watson finds Holmes looking like he's working and doesn't want to interrupt. John McClane finds his wife working and would be perfectly happy to interrupt.

Somewhere else in London, a gang of roughs had been messing with one Henry Baker, causing him to lose a Christmas goose. Somewhere in the Nakatomi Plaza building, a gang of roughs starts messing with the Nakatomi Corporation, causing them to to lose their Christmas party.

Sherlock Holmes's attention is gotten by a dead body being dropped in front of the uniformed Peterson. (Yes, it's a goose, but still . . .) The L.A. authorities have their attention roused by a dead body being dropped in front of the uniformed Sergeant Al Powell.

Both tales revolve around a major theft whose complexity involves some police participation, and this is where the mirror-image quality of the stories really shines. James Ryder imagines police involvement where there is none and loses his prize through his faulty plan. Hans Gruber imagines police involvement where there definitely will be some and gains his prize through his perfect plan.

A master's thesis could go into great detail about the parallels big and small between "The Blue Carbuncle" and "Die Hard." John McClane has his Watson in Al Powell. Holmes says "I am not retained by the police to supply their deficiencies," and neither is McClane. Both, however, set matters right, free prisoners and foil a theft even as the official police fail at every turn. With the exception of Sergeant Powell, the L.A. cops and F.B.I. in "Die Hard" are as mockable as any Scotland Yard detective Holmes ever met.

And the hits just keep on coming!

Hans Gruber tries to pretend to be "Bill Clay" and fails. James Ryder tries to pretend to be "John Robinson" and fails. John Horner takes the punishment for Catherine Cusack's work in "Blue"; Harry Ellis suffers the consequences for Holly Gennaro's role in "Die Hard." Peterson, who brought Holmes in on the case, celebrates Christmas away from the main action, so does Argyle, who brought McClane in.

"The Blue Carbuncle" compares with no other classic Christmas tale as well as "Die Hard." Not "A Christmas Carol," not "Rudolph," not "It's A Wonderful Life" . . . "Die Hard." And I know people who enjoy both, every single year.

So "Yippee ti yay, ye merry gentlemen," and "Compliments of the season, mudder-faxers!" (Oh, so tempting to go full-on McClane . . .) Hope you enjoyed some Christmas adventures of your own this year!

Your humble correspondent,
Brad Keefauver


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Past 2011 Columns

January 2, 2011
Facebook Sherlocking Reconsidered

January 9, 2011
B.aker S.treet I.gnoramus

January 16, 2011
Working On A Mystery

January 23, 2011
Sherlock Indianapolis?

January 30, 2011
An Official Commission for the Unofficial Detective

February 6, 2011
Life Must Be Good

February 13, 2011
And The Beat
Goes On . . .

February 20, 2011
Desperation Means Robot Dinosaurs

February 27, 2011
An End To Dictators

March 6 , 2011
Tom and Jerry Meet Sherlock Holmes

March 13 , 2011
Spring Forward

March 20, 2011
Spring Forward II,
The Sequel

March 27, 2011
A Cold-Hearted Typo Distraction

April 3, 2011
A Peorian in Victorian London

April 10, 2011
How A Sherlock Holmes Comic Is Done

April 17, 2011
One Knight In Peoria

April 24, 2011
Sir Digby Chicken Caesar and the Question of Parodic Source

May 1, 2011
Religious Rituals of Sherlock Holmes

May 8, 2011
Editing Don's Column

May 15, 2011
Moriarty, Mason, and Muh . . . Flan!

May 22, 2011
Devolving in the Din

May 29, 2011
A Study in Show Tunes

June 5, 2011
The Spray of the Reichenbach

June 12, 2011
Sherlock Holmes at the Tony Awards

June 19, 2011
Beyond "the Girl in the Comic Shop"

June 26, 2011
Why Sherlock Holmes?

July 3, 2011
Technical Difficulties

July 10, 2011
Moriarty Waits

July 17, 2011
British Icon Ridealong

July 24, 2011
Watson Had It Easy!

July 31, 2011
Action Sherlock and Aliens

August 7, 2011
A Sherlock Holmes Church Service

August 14, 2011
A Sherlockian Day in the Life

August 21, 2011
Something To Talk About

August 28, 2011
Sherlockian Off The Rails

September 4 , 2011
Steampunk and Sherlock

September 11, 2011
A Very Sherlockian
Non-Sherlockian Actor

September 18, 2011
Sympathy for the Devil's Advocate

September 25, 2011
Wiggins and Sighvatsson

October 2, 2011
When Everywhere Is More Everywhere Than Ever

October 9, 2011
Bullcrap, Da Zippy Code, and the Eternal Question

October 16, 2011
Occupy Baker Street

October 23, 2011
Mr.Moon's Moonfind Sherlock Search

October 26, 2011
Attention Lovers of Gerry Rafferty's Baker Street

October 30, 2011
Sherlockalypse Now!

November 6, 2011
The Designated Conan Doyle

November 13, 2011
The Frozen Library

November 20, 2011

November 27, 2011
People Who Live In Silk Houses

December 4, 2011
Good Question

December 11, 2011
And Here Comes Christmas!

December 18, 2011
The Season of Forgiveness

December 25, 2011
Blue Hard