Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Red Herrings, Squared: Part Six of The Case of the Lady Slipper Stalker

My poor windshield wipers...have mercy!
[This is Part Six of The Case of the Lady Slipper Stalker. See also Parts OneTwoThreeFourFour-and-a-Half,  Four-and-Three-Quarters, and Part Five, along with Suggestions for My Dear ReadersA Note from Mrs Hudson, and A Plea For Help.]

Dear Readers, it would seem that I will never again need to purchase gallon-size Ziploc™ bags, for the Lady Slipper Stalker struck yesterday afternoon (Tuesday, the 16th of September), leaving inside the now-typical FOUR bags a Confusing Miscellany of items, along with a strangely-punctuated Rhyming Quatrain. I submit below, for your viewing pleasure, photos and brief descriptions of the items comprising the Confusing Miscellany: 

    The Sizable Chunk of Amethyst
  • A Sizable Chunk of Amethyst, possibly from the Thunder Bay area, which boasts a significantly large deposit of this gemstone. The Sizable Chunk reminded me immediately of one of my favorite chronicles of the Great Detective's exploits, "The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle.
  • The Romance Novel, which I do
    not have time to read...
  •  A Romance Novel, set during the period of the American Civil War and written by a Minnesota writer named Donna Weber (her surname, of course, brought immediately to mind my former colleague, the Great Naturalist Larry Weber, whose work I so admire, but as far as I can tell there is no connection between this author and Mr Weber). 
  • A Rubber Ducky, sporting a Deerstalker cap and reading a generic "Mystery" book. Never mind that Holmes never actually wore a Deerstalker--it has long been associated with him in the popular imagination. This item, especially in combination with the Sizable Chunk, again made me think of 
    The Rubber Ducky
    "The Blue Carbuncle," but I rather think that association exists only in my mind... Viewed from a certain angle, it did seem to me that the Rubber Ducky, with its prominent spectacles, might bear a slight resemblance to Mr Pearson!  --Or, to me, in my cold-weather cap, which I wore last weekend while biking along the Munger Trail! 
  • A Volume of Sudoku. This Volume
    The Volume of Sudoku
    contains very difficult version of the famous Japanese number puzzles. I have no hope whatsoever of working my way through this Volume... It would seem, though, to further implicate the Math Department.
  • A small Ceramic Figurine of an Iguana. It resembles the kind of figurine one might find in a box of tea bags. To my knowledge, there is no mention of an Iguana in Doyle's stories about Holmes. The Iguana Figurine had clearly once been glued to a piece of paper or cardboard, for its feet were still attached, by rather large blobs of adhesive, to cellulose fibers of a pinkish hue.

The Ceramic Figurine
  • Finally, the last item included in the Miscellany: A piece of quite ordinary paper on which was typed a strangely-punctuated Rhyming Quatrain. I say "strangely punctuated" because each line ends with a period, even though each line is not a complete sentence. It could also be argued, though there are some who disagree, that two of the sentence-fragments, which are clearly meant to be read together, exhibit a subject-verb disagreement. I am quite fond of Rhyming Quatrains, even if they are strangely-punctuated, so I must say I am delighted by this production. The Quatrain would also seem to be a clue, in the form of a Riddle, as to the identity of the Lady Slipper Stalker! 
The Strangely-Punctuated Rhyming Quatrain
Dear Readers, I have "look[ed]" and "look[ed] at these items," as commanded to do, yet still I am no closer to determining the identity of the Stalker. On the face of it, the Riddle would seem to suggest that I might use the Process of Elimination to determine the Stalker's identity. Holmes famously said, "when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth" (The Sign of Four). The Romance Novel, especially when combined with the Rhyming Quatrain, might be seen to eliminate the English Department, but considering the Romance Novel's historical setting, it might be intended to eliminate the Social Studies Department from my inquiries. The Volume of Sudoku clearly rules out the Math Department, and the strange assortment of zoological and geological specimens might be included so as to divert attention from the Science Department. 

Me, in my Cap
"On the face of it," I said above, but of course I am not ever satisfied with simple face value. As far as I am concerned, this Miscellany bears the unmistakeable stamp of the kindly but ever-calculating Ms Ball, who by means of strange punctuation and subject-verb disagreements, and through the use of Mathematical and Scientific specimens, would seem to be working rather hard to deluge me with Red Herrings. This does not mean I am ruling out one or more Math teachers (Mr Pearson recently cast suspicion upon his colleague, Ms Wulff) or Mr Diener (who told me that Mr Chernov spent time in Alaska, where the Spotted Slipper grows). No one, it seems, can yet, with certainty, be eliminated from my inquiries. 

Please continue, Dear Readers, to use the sidebar Poll to vote for your favorite suspect, and remember also to reserve your slice of Chocolate Pie by sending me a clue (however trivial it might be) or confession via the sidebar contact form. As of today, there are, I believe, sixteen pieces left!


  1. While I'm flattered that you believe me to be so clever to plant all these red herrings, I am also a bit insulted that you would entertain the thought of me purposefully making an egregious grammar [none...represent] error even in the pursuit of throwing you off course. The very thought is fingernails on the chalkboard! As for the amythest, that is a crystal I would be a sin for me to use it in jest. Look more carefully at the figurine. Are you sure it's an iguana? I believe the cellulose fibers of pinkish hue may be a telling clue. Lastly, think of a person in this building who has a sizable collection of rubber duckies. Bye the bye, when you have finished reading the romance novel, may I borrow it? JB

    1. My dear Ms Ball, if I insulted you, it was only to flush out more information, for which i must not express my gratitude! You may certainly borrow the book!

    2. --Also, since I know you are not fond of chocolate, I assume you do not wish to reserve a piece of pie...

    3. Wow, I must not have been wearing my glasses when I wrote my first reply to your comment! The second "I" should be capitalized, and I meant "I must NOW my express my gratitude"!

  2. Jumping on Ms Ball's train of thought, the lizard does more resemble a gecko to me than an iguana, but I don't have enough contextual information to make that Mean Something Significant.

    I do believe your culprit has called upon many helpers to deliver these confounding clues. And while many deny being The One, I do believe many are also holding their tongues, refraining from assisting you with important information they do have about The One.

    Once Ms Ball has had ample time with the seductive slipper book, I'd appreciate being next on the list.

    1. Ely, I had forgotten about Mrs B's reptilian classroom pet! And I think you are right--I am surrounded by Those Who Know & Yet Remain Silent! You may certainly borrow the novel after Ms Ball has finished with it. Cheers!

    2. --Also, I wish I could send a piece of pie to Ely, but it would be rather messy!

    3. I am home in Duluth most weekends, so if I may indeed reserve a slice of pie, it would be thoroughly enjoyed!

  3. What if none of this means anything at all? What if this is all just totally meaningless and someone is simply messing with you? What if after investing all this time and energy, you find the true secret is that there is no secret?

    1. Dear Anonymous,
      I am quite sure all of this is indeed meaningless, just as life itself is only ever as meaningful or meaningless as we ourselves make it.

      And after investing all this time and energy in this endeavor, I shall look back one day on the immense pleasure of having had an excuse to write these parodies of the Sherlock Holmes stories, which I hope will serve, this year & in the future, as a fun introduction to Doyle's stories and to Haddon's novel.

      I will also be glad if I brought even a few moments of enjoyment to my Dear Readers!


    2. Anonymous, if I knew your identity, I could reserve a piece of pie for you in exchange for your very philosophical question...

    3. Alas, the vastness of time and space precludes me from having the opportunity to sample the culinary legend that is your chocolate pie. I fear I shall only ever again walk the hallowed halls of the School on the Hill as a near-forgotten memory in the thoughts of those who have been doomed to toil there in the faint hope of imparting some small knowledge upon future generations.

    4. Dear Anonymous,
      Although my memory is not as vast as time and space, it is often, like the hallowed halls I walk, haunted by those who no longer toil with me. Nothing is ever entirely forgotten, and what is remembered, lives.

  4. What if the items represent people. Lizard...Mrs.Birnbaum, Mrs.Ball...Quatrain, Rubber duckie...Mrs. Durant, Amethyst... Mr Diener and Sudoku book...Mr Pearson. Thus Inside the Quatrain the stalker says none of those items represent them. So all of the suspected teachers no longer would be suspects.

    1. That may indeed be what the Stalker wants me to think!

    2. --Again, as I do not know your identity, I cannot reserve a peice of pie for you, but if you use the contact form or if you email me, I can do so if you wish.

  5. It seems to me that the use of the orchids and the various pieces can only be connected to Mr. Diener. In eighth grade, the class of 2015 went on a scavenger/geo-cashing trip to Gooseberry Falls as a means to conclude our eighth grade year. I also go to Gooseberry Falls the Tuesday before school starts as a tradition to relieve the pressure of the start of the school year. I noticed this year, as well as in years past, the various collection of wildflower memorabilia at the gift store. I also understand Mr. Diener's very close connection to Gooseberry Falls, and combined with his wit, the evidence of purchased wildflower memorabilia seems to link the two phenomena. The persistence and the meticulousness of the suspect reminds me of the meticulousness on the various tests and assignments given by Mr. Diener. Although the various suspects are quite conscientious individuals, this meticulousness and persistence can truly be connected to the personality of Mr. Diener and his work ethic.