Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Noodle Incident

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Autograph manuscript of "The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire," signed

At the beginning of "The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire," Sherlock Holmes makes a passing reference to "the giant rat of Sumatra." In an aside to Dr. Watson, Holmes states tantalizingly, "Matilda Briggs was not the name of a young woman, Watson, ... It was a ship which is associated with the giant rat of Sumatra, a story for which the world is not yet prepared."

Ever since, people have been wondering what incredible tale lies behind this assertion, but we are never to know because A. Conan Doyle never related the full story. The world, apparently, is still not prepared.

The Strand Magazine, Volume LXVII, January - June 1924


Now take a look at this amusing but very short clip from "The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension:"

 Watermelon Scene
"The Adventures of
Buckaroo Banzai Across
the 8th Dimension" (1984)

There you have it. “Why is there a watermelon there?” No explanation of the watermelon is ever forthcoming, and it really doesn't matter. For me, it's the most memorable line in the movie. 

Sometimes leaving something unexplained, whether something mysterious as in the Holmes story or even something patently ridiculous as with the watermelon, can result in having it stay with you. Forever. Our brains are programmed to want answers.


One more. Bill Watterson never really articulated the story of "the noodle incident" in his too-short-lived Calvin and Hobbes comic strip, although the subject did come up several times and he had ample opportunity. Perhaps we don't need to hear the whole story after all. Hobbes's passing references to it may be quite enough! Knowing any more of the actual details might only serve to disappoint.

Bill Watterson, Calvin and Hobbes, Reprinted May 23, 2012


The Firesign Theatre, The Tale of the Giant Rat of Sumatra, 1973 Album Cover

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