The Hound Of The Baskervilles

Hound Of The Baskervilles

Need a break from politics?  From the daily drumbeat of vituperation and lies?  More importantly do your kids need a break from listening to you and your spouse grousing about sub-committee hearings, thugs breaking up talks on college campuses – about immigration?

So what better way than with a classic horror whodunit?

And was there ever one like The Hound Of The Baskervilles?  It not only has all the basics it invented the basics: murder by paranormal means, a vast fortune at stake with its new heir being stalked by an ancient curse, dramatic tension winding tighter and tighter starting with the enigma of a misplaced boot and a warning composed of words cut from a newspaper, a quirky and interesting country doctor as interlocutor, an escaped convict murderer roaming about, a woman mysteriously sobbing at night, a ghostly stranger silhouetted against the moon,  and what a setting: a vast lonely moor, spooky old manor house, ancient prehistoric stone rings on lonely windswept hillsides, the fog reaching out for you in the darkness as the baying of a gigantic hound sounds nearby in the Great Grimpen Mire.

Don’t read it to your kids, have them read it themselves, maybe out loud.  This well written book cries out to be read aloud and your children will pride themselves on mastering this the famous of Arthur Conan Doyle’s worlds.  The richness of the simple language and artful turn of phrase.  The cadence.  It’ll change their sense of language and the sense of what they can do with it in their own composition.

Then on a dark winter night when a storm is rattling the shutters outside make a mound of popcorn, you and your wife gather the little guys all together on the couch under a blanket, turn the lights off and watch the original black and white 1939 movie with Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Doctor Watson.

Thankfully, the film lacks all the 21st Century Hollywood essentials: the modern special effects, some version of Xena The Warrior Princess eclipsing all the men in hand to hand combat, the lovable “Gay Next Door”, an evil Republican CIA or maybe an evil White Man or an evil giant corporation polluting some sacred mountain, sacred beach, sacred tree or sacred river and of course the sub-plot of an ethnic hero in silver wraparound sunglasses or long gray dreadlocks.  No happy little pet dog, no hip hop children, no tattoos, no heroic environmentalist and no airplane crashes or helicopters blowing up.

But Savile Row, that is very well cut suits, on all the men.  Well, not the dog cart driver, but everyone else.

Hound puts that Hollywood tackiness and politically correct froth in the shade.  It’s a STORY.  It’s only agenda is to entertain – to grab you by the shirtfront, rattle your bones then send you to bed shaking your head.

And smiling.

The Blizzard

Sasquatch FeetWell it’s 10:00 Am here in Stone Ridge and the “Storm Of The Century” has been downgraded but up here north of the city we’re still getting dumped on. So much so that my buddy seventy-eight year old Eddie Slaterburgh who goes out every snow with his big phony Sasquatch feet in order to frighten the neighbor’s kids tells me he’s already made his rounds three times this morning.

Snowy Woods

Orangutan Boxing

Orangutan BoxingAs if there wasn’t enough to worry about in the news animal rights activists are up in arms over Orangutan Boxing in Thailand.  Don’t let the sign in the background fool you – it is Thailand even though that person in the front row with a handful of winning betting slips in his hand looks a lot like Michael Vick.

Makes You Want To Cry

Good article on America’s WW II internment of Japanese in today’s DM  Here.  With many photographs.  Check it out.

InternmentThe internment was a stain on America.  Having said that the camps weren’t Bergen Belsen.  And the internees deserve a lot of credit for the way they went along and harbored so few grudges against their fellow citizens.  And of course there was the incomparable 442nd Infantry composed entirely of Japanese Americans.  The most decorated Army unit in WW II.  Today most of them have passed on but as you enter Punchbowl Military cemetery overlooking Honolulu, there they are, their gravestones lined up with each other in military precision.   Makes you want to cry.  (Pictured is a Boy Scout Color Guard at a camp.)

On The Speech

It was a great speech and it’s hard not to agree with others that somewhere in the middle of it, Donald J. Trump became President of the United States.

Although he did miss several opportunities:

At the very beginning when the President turns and extends one bound volume each to the Vice President and the Speaker Of The House he should have made a crack about how glad he was that no Hollywood Democrat was responsible for handing the right speech to the right person.


A few minutes in he could have commented about all the women in white in the audience.  Something like “the Democrats haven’t had this many people in White Robes since they ran George Wallace for President.”


Midway through he could have paused, pointed up into the Gallery and announced that those men everybody sees moving around up there were Federal Agents arresting the illegal immigrants the Democrats had invited as guests.

Other than that my hats off to you Mr. President.


Richard F. Miniter is the author of The Things I Want Most, Random House, BDD See it Here.  He lives and writes in the colonial era hamlet of Stone Ridge, New York, blogs here and can also be reached at