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The Baskerville Bash 2000

by Linda Spessotti

Friday, 14 January, 2000, the fourth annual Baskerville Bash was launched at the newly redecorated Manhattan Club in New York City. The Baskerville Bash is the daughter of the Fortescue Symposium, itself the daughter of the venerable ASH Dinners of yore.

In spite of predictions (namely mine) that fewer people would attend this year because many Sherlockians had committed substantial time and finances to the September statue unveiling in London, the number of Bashers this year surpassed last year's, continuing a four‑year trend. The Manhattan Club is, in fact, our third venue in four years; we having outgrown our space rapidly. But the accommodations here are somewhat elastic, the food fine, and the staff most obliging, so it's likely we will remain at 52nd and Eighth for a while.

John Russo and I introduced the ritual toasts. Paul Churchill honored Dr. Mortimer for auspicious beginnings. The toast to Selden, for unforeseen consequences, was given by Mary Kate Brennen, herself a first‑time Basher. Mrs. Barrymore, faithful retainer, was toasted by Doug Elliot-not­the‑one‑from‑Canada. And the Hound, sine qua non, was musically toasted by Cynthia Wein, belting out There Is Nothing Like a Hound.

After an excellent buffet, the Sherlettes -‑ Jane Hinckley, Jan Stauber, Maribeau Briggs, Marilyn Klatt, Helen Jaman, Drew Thomas, Carol Fish, Selma Kamil, and myself performed their first set of choreographed songs: East Notting Hill, to the tune of Blueberry Hill, and The Howling Hop, to the tune of Jailhouse Rock.

Rosemary Michaud, whose toast to Selden last year left us in pain from laughter, was back again with a paper titled Jeeves and the Horrible Hound. We were beguiled by the adventure of Jeeves and Bertie Wooster, traveling to Baskerville Hall for the reading of the will of Bertie's eccentric Uncle Henry, some strange goings‑on on the moor and stranger relatives, and finally the discovery of Uncle Henry's "priceless" collection.

Following the dessert buffet, Billy Fields took the stage to auction off three thoroughly delightful items: the traditional elegant Joe Coppola hand­crafted box with carved relief image of Hugo the Hound; a unique shadow box containing 13 commemorative pins, created for the occasion by Chuck Kovacic; and a charming stuffed and deerstalkered Hugo the Hound who, thanks to the engineering wizardry of Joe Coppola, howls in a singularly authentic manner.

Then followed the piece de resistance of the evening: the "What's My Crime" game show. Led by Will "His Moderation" Walsh, and adjudicated by appropriately wigged-and-robed presiding judge Warren "Flip the Switch" Randall, panels consisting of Karl Benko, Joan Brieaddy, Bob Carter, Lynda Conway, Mike Riezenman, Bob Zatz, S. E. Dahlinger, and Gael Stahl matched wits with canonical criminals Bruce Aiken (Hosmer Angel), Allan Devitt, a long-time Basher and great fan (John Straker), Joel Senter (Von Bork), Joanne Zahorsky‑Reeves, resplendent in one of those drop‑dead Victorian confections of hers (Kitty Winter), and Ed Ware, another first‑time Basher (Gennaro Lucca). Whispered guesses created a suspenseful ambient rustle among the audience throughout the proceedings, and the criminals who won a pardon by stumping their panel were cheered pretty much as loudly as those who were found out.

The Sherlettes again took the stage, donning tee‑shirts sporting our names and bowler hats with ‑- my blushes -- Mickey Mouse ears! We paraded onstage to the strains of We Are the Baskerville Sherlettes, ("This is as crazy as it gets -- bring the nets!")... We segued into an homage to Dr. Watson, to the tune of Guest Star Day, and finished up with "Barrymore," to the tune of the traditional Mickey Mouse theme (oh, come on, you know it).

The customary deerstalker‑cum‑hound‑ears was presented to Helen Elsom from the UK, in honor of breaking the Europe barrier, and the last ‑- yes, the last ‑- original Hugo pin from the first casting of commemorative Bash pins was presented to Auberon Redfearn, also from the U.K., because we thought that Euro thing was just so cool. The Hugo Award, voted by secret ballot among the Baskerville Bash Committee to a person who has contributed to the success of the Bash in a particularly significant manner, was presented to Ron Fish by last year's recipient, Warren Randall. Ron had developed the enormously successful Bash website, and as a result, we had many first‑time Bashers join our ranks.

The evening closed with the entire assembly swaying arm‑in‑arm, singing our traditional closing tune, Linda Hinckley's Holmes and Watson's Time to the tune of Auld Lang Syne. After that, it was out to the cold night air for some, back to the bar for others, and the end of another fine, fun‑filled night with warm, hearty feelings for all.

 

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