Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Old-Time Radio Theme Month, Day 31: "The Demon Tree"

Happy Halloween!

Today I close my theme month with another episode of Scott Bishop's Dark Fantasy, this time "the Demon Tree" from December 5, 1941. This program features a tree which is not simply a living thing, but a moving, vengeful, killing thing as well!

You can download a copy of this radio show from here.

Thank you for indulging my interest in old-time radio; I hope I've exposed you to some quality shows over the course of this month; perhaps I'll feature more programs in the future.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Old-Time Radio Theme Month, Day 30: "The Headless Dead"

With Halloween almost upon us, I've saved the last two days for an unusual program: Dark Fantasy. This odd series featured no major talents in any sense (every episode written by Scott Bishop and usually cast with the same players) and ranged in tone from gentle fables (ie, a man possessed by a ghost solves the problem of an inheritance), to all-out horror (werewolves and mad scientists)!

What have I selected for you today? All-out horror, naturally! I give you "the Headless Dead," from January 23, 1942. A visitor to an old cathedral accidentally happens upon a choir of headless men. There's only way they'll allow him to live... if you can call it living...

You can download a copy of this radio show from here.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Amazing Race 21-05 recap: "Chill Out, Freak"

Last night's episode of the Amazing Race kept moving through Bangladesh, but saw some shuffling amongst teams as virtually everyone made mistakes - some more costly than others.

As we resume in Dhaka, Bangladesh, we first look in on best friends from the rock 'n roll industry, James & Abba, currently in first place. During the Pit Stop interval, James is allowed to speak with his family, who have an urgent message for him: his father has stage 4 cancer with no hope of remission. James is brought to tears by this, but determines now he'll race even harder to win for the sake of his father: "I'm just gonna have a bit more push, y'know, for Dad." The leg begins as the duo are directed to find a nearby taxi stand, then travel to Jatraboari Boro Bazaar and find the local eggplant vendor, who has their next clue.

Abba: "We hope we never see another team again."

James: "No, I wanna see them again, y'know, in a big line as we run up to Phil!"

These two work through the job with no difficulty and quickly receive their next instructions: travel by cab to Ferry Ghat Road and find the next clue beneath a bridge. That's a neatly obscure clue! Approximately two hours behind them, dating couple Abbie/Ryan begin the leg; they note there was only $1 provided in this leg's envelope, which is good to hear - it feels like money troubles haven't been a big issue in the US version of the Race for awhile. Since this leg won't involve traveling into another country, it seems fair to deny teams additional funds. Ryan reveals they want to be "considered the strongest team that's ever raced" and hopes to claim the record of most 1st place finishes, which you'll recall was set by Rachel & Dave last season. Twin sisters Natalie/Nadiya depart next.

At Ferry Ghat Road, James/Abba find the next clue: Roadblock. "It ain't heavy, it's a Roadblock." Because it seems to be a labour intensive task and Abba injured his knee on the previous leg when he fell into a sewer, James accepts the task. It's to manufacture a balance scale using three poles and ropes so that the weight of four rocks on one scale will be matched by a load of wood on the opposite scale. James notes he used to be a Boy Scout, but "I kind of forgot the whole process. I can assure you though, that through the 80s I was no Boy Scout." James falters a little when he doesn't notice where the lashing ropes he's supposed to use are kept.

Abbie/Ryan & Natalie/Nadiya reach the taxi stand at about the same time, to Abbie/Ryan's irritation. The sisters tell their taxi driver "we gotta beat the goras," meaning "white people." Back at the Roadblock, James finally spies the lashing ropes; "You are a troublemaker! You could've told me they were there!" he says with mock anger to one of the judges. Abbie/Ryan & Natalie/Nadiya reach the Bazaar at almost the same time; both teams find the eggplant vendor and continue to the bridge. About an hour behind the nearest team, life partners Josh & Brent begin the leg, but struggle to find the taxi stand. Close behind, married monster truck drivers Rob/Kelley and Chippendale dancers Jaymes/James soon find the taxis.

James successfully finishes the Roadblock and receives the next clue: it's time for the Detours: "Straw Dogs" or "Bamboo Jungle." In the first, teams travel to Latif Bawani Jute Mills and must prepare 20 bundles of straw by separating the fibers; with this accomplished, they must deliver the bundles to a loom machine, where they'll receive their clue.

In "Bamboo Jungle," teams journey to Tarabo Bazaar and collect three sets of differently-sized bamboo, then deliver them on a rickshaw to a building site, where they'll receive the next clue. James & Abba decide on this Detour and begin the trip. As they leave, Abbie/Ryan arrive at the bridge. When they read the Roadblock clue, Ryan assumes the task isn't physical, so he convinces Abbie to take it; Abbie has no idea how to assemble the scales. Natalie/Nadiya arrive after them and Nadiya takes the Roadblock. As Natalie begins to shout encouragement to Nadiya (as they always do), Ryan takes the opportunity to mock Natalie, imitating her cheers ("Twinies!").

Ryan: "You gonna yell the whole time?"

Natalie: (laughing) "Maybe."

Ryan: (smirking) "Gonna get my, uh, earplugs."

In a later confession to the cameras, Natalie says, "I was like, chill out, freak," providing this episode's title; "he's a tool," concludes Natalie. Abbie queries Nadiya:

Abbie: "Nadiya, you done this before?"

Nadiya: "I have not."

Abbie: "Woo-hoo!"

Nadiya: (confessional to camera) "Yeah Abbie, I've made a bloody third world scale in my backyard garden before, what do you think, like, are you insane?"

About 30 minutes behind the nearest team, dating couple Trey/Lexi begin the leg in last place. At the bamboo market, James/Abba begin collecting bamboo poles. Back at the Roadblock, Ryan tries to encourage Abbie:

Ryan: "Good job Ab! Way to dominate this!"

Natalie: "Actually... Naddie's dominating Abbie."

Ryan: "I mean... domin... dominating her area..."

Natalie: "Yeah, yeah."

Natalie begins getting local children on the sidelines to help cheer on Nadiya. Ryan concedes he "probably should have done this one." Jaymes/James reach the Bazaar and find their clue; Rob/Kelley are right behind. Josh/Brent have finally located the taxi stand, just as Trey/Lexi arrive, meaning they lost at least 30 minutes. Trey/Lexi are pleased to have caught up. James/Abba continue to gather bamboo; "I've seen no one yet, I'm lovin' this!" James notes. Rob/Kelley arrive at the Roadblock and Kelley opts to take the challenge. Nadiya finishes the Roadblock, getting them ahead of Abbie/Ryan; they decide to tackle the "Bamboo Jungle" Detour and depart. As they exit, Jaymes/James arrive and Jaymes takes the Roadblock. As Abbie nears completion, Ryan again muses he should have taken the Roadblock; Rob has similar thoughts as he watches Kelley struggle. Abbie has to rebuild her entire scale when she's told it's too low.

Elsewhere, Josh/Brent & Trey/Lexi find their clues at the Bazaar. Abbie rebuilds her scale and finishes the Roadblock; she and Ryan decide to take the "Straw Dogs" Detour, just as Josh/Brent & Trey/Lexi arrive. Brent and Trey take the Roadblock. Kelley is beginning to falter in the intense heat and puts a wrap over her head to shade herself. Jaymes tries to find support amongst the locals: "How's everybody doin' today? Y'all havin' fun? Watchin' the stupid white boy do this stuff? Y'all can cheer if you want. Yeah. Yeah, yeah, this guy's got my back. They ain't havin' it." For once, Jaymes' charm avails nothing. Josh advises Brent to read his clue carefully, which prompts a sharp "shut up please" from Brent; Josh laughs it off. Jaymes finishes the Roadblock and elects "Bamboo Jungle" as he & James' Detour.

While Natalie/Nadiya begin "Bamboo Jungle," James & Abba successfully deliver all of their bamboo and receive the next clue as an illustration on a piece of bamboo, which they have to learn is the Lok Shilpa Jadughar museum in Sonargaon. I like this, it's always nice when clues don't spoon feed all the information to the teams. James/Abba set out in a taxi for the Pit Stop.

Natalie/Nadiya are struggling with the Detour as their bamboo poles are so long that they have trouble navigating corners and accidentally trap themselves. At the factory, Abbie/Ryan begin working with their straw bundles. They count the number of times the workers pound the straw against it's bed of nails, which they seem to take as a rule, rather than simply rule of thumb (it's a matter of separating the straw, not performing x number of blows). Back at the Roadblock, Brent is at a loss to create his scale, while the others surge ahead. Trey finishes the Roadblock and heads with Lexi to "Bamboo Jungle." Kelley isn't too far behind and they choose the same Detour. Kelley apologizes to Rob for her performance, but Rob thinks there's nothing to apologize for. Brent continues to toil.

James & Abba arrive at the Lok Shilpa Jadughar, where Phil awards them 1st place and a trip to the Malaysian rain forests. When Phil asks James about his father, James says with much emotion: "My Dad, uh, was a labourer and he's retired now. And all I can think... I keep thinking today out on that course was he never gave up, y'know, and uh, here we are man. I hope he's proud." Phil wonders if James was tempted to leave the Race to be with his family, but James reports his family told him "keep going."

Back at the "Straw Dogs" Detour, Abbie/Ryan discover their batch of straw was done incorrectly and they have to start over. Jaymes/James begin "Bamboo Jungle," hoping they can make up some time; Trey/Lexi aren't too far behind. Back at the Roadblock, Brent is still struggling. As Natalie/Nadiya work with their bamboo poles, one of them reports she popped a blister on her hand. Jaymes/James are beginning to wilt under the humidity and stop for a water break. Rob/Kelley begin the Detour and Rob loads himself up with poles, noting he has to move 750 pound monster truck tires at his job. Lexi accidentally whacks Rob in the head with one of her poles and quickly apologizes.

At "Straw Dogs," Abbie/Ryan have realized their mistake and begin fixing the bundles correctly. They finish the Detour and receive a straw picture of the Pit Stop location. Surprisingly, it turns out "Straw Dogs" is the quicker Detour option as teams who were basically even with Abbie/Ryan earlier are now behind them. Brent is still unable to correctly finish his scale at the Roadblock. Brent notes as a doctor he's treated dehydration, but had never suffered from it himself; in fact, Brent is under the weather from dehydration and has to rehydrate. Abbie/Ryan arrive in 2nd place at the Pit Stop, but they aren't happy. Ryan admits he wanted to beat Rachel/Dave's record for "a long time." Those episodes must have aired, what, a month or two before Ryan went on the Race? Ryan apologizes to Abbie for the pressure he's placed on her; Abbie tearfully asks him to smile. Quite an emotional reaction from a team who've been consistently performing at the top.

As Natalie/Nadiya begin to transport their bamboo to the building site, they have a lot of trouble keeping their rickshaw straight and eventually the chain comes off, forcing them to push it to the end of the road. Jaymes reveals he & James haven't been spending money on food during the Race, meaning they've survived on what production provides during the Pit Stops. Consequently, they're running low on energy as they toil in the sun. Lexi is doing her best to keep up with Trey and carry her own share of the poles; Trey admits to being impressed by her toughness. Thanks to Rob's strength, he and Kelley pull ahead of the others at the Detour. Meanwhile, Brent finally finishes the Roadblock; he and Josh decide "Bamboo Jungle" sounds like the easier Roadblock and depart.

Natalie/Nadiya finish delivering their bamboo and head to the Pit Stop. As Jaymes/James have trouble with their rickshaw and have to reload the vehicle, they toss some of their poles into a pile with Trey/Lexi's. Fortunately, the poles are of different lengths, so there shouldn't be a problem and the two teams quickly assure each other of this. As Josh/Brent begin the same Detour, Brent notes "We may be in last place, but we're not quitters." Rob/Kelley deliver their bamboo and head to the Pit Stop. Jaymes/James finish reloading just as Josh/Brent arrive. Noticing a goat, Brent declares, "That's gotta be good luck, right?" Trey/Lexi finish loading up their poles and notice three extra poles next to their rickshawk; Lexi wonders if they forgot some, but Trey correctly identifies these as three of Jaymes/James'. Uh-oh. Natalie/Nadiya arrive in 3rd place at the Pit Stop, but are again disappointed at missing 1st place.

Jaymes/James deliver their bamboo, only to be informed they're shy by three pieces - pieces they left behind at the site during the confusion with Trey/Lexi. The duo are devastated by this, feeling exhausted from the heat and lack of nourishment. They both collapse, nearly unable to continue. Finally, pumping each other up, they return to the Detour site, fearful that they've made a fatal error. Trey/Lexi deliver their bamboo, then head to the Pit Stop. Speaking of which, Rob/Kelley arrive in 4th place, utterly elated by this, their best finish thus far.

Jaymes/James collect their missing pieces then return to the site; "if I have to crawl back, we'll make it," vows James. Trey/Lexi arrive in 5th place at the Pit Stop. Jaymes/James return their load to the building site and head to Pit Stop; Josh/Brent finish the task well after them. As Jaymes/James run to the Pit Stop, Jaymes is so flustered that he trips on the way to the mat; they're pleased to have survived in 6th place.

Josh & Brent finally arrive at the Pit Stop, where Phil confirms they're in last place, but reveals this is a non-elimination leg; they're still in the game, but will have to perform a Speed Bump task on the next leg. The duo declare their love for each other, Josh noting, "I would fall down and die next to you if I had to." Summing up, Josh says, "We said we'd give it our all and I thought we gave our all today, but it turns out there's a little bit left, and uh, we're totally gonna make a fabulous come back in the next leg, and then we're gonna keep goin' up from there." Brent adds, "Fabulous finish."

Thoughts on the seven remaining teams, who are, by the way, a pretty good bunch of Racers:

  1. James & Abba: These two did well by holding on to their lead, making just a few mistakes during the Roadblock. I like seeing how their strategy since the start - to race on their own - has been quietly allowing them to advance into the lead and I'd be fine with them keeping it to the end; they're smart, strong, funny and have real heart, as shown in James' determination to race for his father. They're aren't caught up in inter-team rivalry or a need to set records, they're just being themselves.
  2. Abbie & Ryan: Speaking of setting records, we have Abbie & Ryan being shut out of the chance to overtake Rachel & Dave. Rachel & Dave weren't my favourite team, but I can't say these two are inspiring either; Ryan lacks Dave's ridiculous competitive streak, but Abbie lacks Rachel's hysterical whimsy; after five legs all I can really tell you about these two is they race hard, they really want to win and they like making sarcastic comments.
  3. Natalie & Nadiya: I love these two in spite of themselves; their comments about Abbie/Ryan seem to be warrantless and petty, but their attitude is overall so charmingly sororal and confident that I'm willing to give them a pass.
  4. Rob & Kelley: As noted before, these two excel at tasks and only lag behind on navigation; their navigation was pretty strong this leg, so they rocketed up to the top of the ranks; they could still be in this game to the end, barring major mistakes.
  5. Trey & Lexi: This was the other team who did well by simply avoiding errors. They surpassed two teams by simply getting tasks done quickly and correctly. There wasn't much room for their personalities during this leg, but they're still pleasant people.
  6. Jaymes & James: Every leg these two seem to under perform; they're capable of being one of the top teams, but errors and misjudgments have constantly plagued them. I'm pleased to see them continue, but I fear they'll only last so long as they're the team making fewer mistakes than at least one other.
  7. Josh & Brent: After previously running a pretty sharp leg, Josh & Brent lost a lot of ground by not finding the taxi stands and struggling with assembling their Roadblock task. Despite this, they were mostly offering each other endless support and encouragement, even when they knew they were in last place. They demonstrated the sort of spirit Racers should have and while next leg may be their last, they've done well by refusing to give up.

Next week: Teams head to Turkey for a bracing Turkish bath amidst other tomfoolery.

Old-Time Radio Theme Month, Day 29: "Tanglefoot"

Having visited an obscene spider, why not an obscene fly? The Quiet Please episode "Tanglefoot" from June 4, 1949 concerns a man with a pet fly. Harmless as a fly, you may suppose? Not when your fly has grown to a ludicrous size.

You can download a copy of this radio show from here.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Old-Time Radio Theme Month, Day 28: "Mars is Heaven"

I think Ray Bradbury's "Mars is Heaven" is one of his best short stories, it's a terrific thriller. However, this is a rare case where the adaptation outdoes the original, in my opinion; when the tale was adapted to Dimension X on January 7, 1951. This version includes an extra character, a doctor who was in Dachau as a child and has tried to bury his past. When the rest of the explorers on Mars discover their deceased loved ones now live on the red planet, the doctor is the one man who has no one to meet him.

You can download a copy of this radio show from here.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Old-Time Radio Theme Month, Day 27: "Evening Primrose"

John Collier wrote many sly tales with occasional diversions into the realm of fantasy, but less frequently ventured into the weird. Such a weird tale is "Evening Primrose," a somewhat notorious tale beloved by some, derided by others. I feel the Escape adaptation from November 5, 1947 is top drawer entertainment.

A frustrated poet decides to live inside a department store to allow himself the freedom to explore his art. However, the store turns out to be populated by many refugees who can't handle the outside world; to live amongst them, the poet must adapt to their rules. Matters are complicated when he falls in love with a fellow outcast.

You can download a copy of this radio show from here.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Old-Time Radio Theme Month, Day 26: "My Son John"

Resuming a look at the great monsters of horror stories, we come to vampires as Dracula himself is referenced in this episode of Quiet Please. "My Son John" (broadcast November 28, 1948) studies a lonely man who wishes to bring his dead son back to life. By turning to the occult, his wish is granted, but he soon has reason to regret it; his son isn't the same person he remembered, especially as he's now a vampire. It's a macabre story which doesn't play by the vampire "rules" you might be familiar with; it's even a little funny.

You can download a copy of this radio show from here.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Old-Time Radio Theme Month, Day 25: "Spider"

Arch Oboler's Lights Out often demonstrated how one could be economical with actors, yet effective at building terror. "Spider," from June 8, 1938, casts just two men, but their dialogue carries all the horror required. In this tale, these men have ventured into the jungle to capture butterflies for money when they find a spider "as big as a dog." This could be a valuable discovery, they assume; however, while it's possible to capture the spider, holding it is another matter.

You can download a copy of this radio show from here.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Old-Time Radio Theme Month, Day 24: "The Werewolf"

Halloween isn't complete without at least one of the classic monsters - thus, "the Werewolf." This Weird Circle broadcast from May 7, 1944 was adapted from a portion of Frederick Marryat's 1839 novel the Phantom Ship.

A German hunter living in the wilderness takes a new wife to help raise his three children, but she's our titular fiend; doomed by his own vows, the hunter's children are menaced by their bloodthirsty new stepmother.

You can download a copy of this radio show from here.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Old-Time Radio Theme Month, Day 23: "Ancient Sorceries"

We return again to Algernon Blackwood, but this time in a decidedly supernatural vein; Blackwood's fiction excelled at creating environments of dread, places which feel uneasy, unreal with something terrifying just beyond what's visible. Such a tale is "Ancient Sorceries," which Escape adapted on February 21, 1948.

On a whim, a traveler disembarks his train at an obscure English village. He's never visited the locale before, yet the locals treat him with an odd sense of familiarity. Perhaps it's his imagination, but they all seem to be watching him and somehow mill around him without making a noise.

You can download a copy of this radio show from here.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Amazing Race 21-04 recap: "Funky Monkey"

Last night's episode of the Amazing Race placed teams through some trials and struggles with plenty of local colour and some unpredictable results.

We resume in Surabaya, Indonesia with dating couple Abbie & Ryan in first place. The first clue directs them travel by plane to Dhaka, Bangladesh! It's interesting to note the series has been set entirely in Asia up until now. Young dating couple Trey & Lexi depart next, noting they've been doing well for a couple who haven't traveled before. "We're due for first place this leg, for sure," opines Lexi. Abbie & Ryan head to a travel agency to book tickets, but the earliest flight is quite a way's off. While they're booking, Trey & Lexi arrive at the agency and both teams conclude they'll wind up on a flight with the six other teams. And so they do, as we jump ahead to everyone boarding the same flight. "Anybody's game," notes Chippendale dancer Jaymes, "why not ours?" On the flight, best friends Gary & Will describe the previous leg as "probably the greatest comeback ever." Will believes they "represent the superfans in this Race." Perhaps, but that's no guarantee we viewers at home will like you two the most (if that's what we're meant to infer). They've correctly guessed married couple Rob & Kelley were the ones who used the blind U-Turn on them during the previous leg, but don't intend to let Rob/Kelley know they know. Rob just wants to remain ahead of them.

Teams arrive in Dhaka, Bangladesh and right away there's some outstanding photography showing how densely-populated and well-worn the city is. Teams quickly start looking for taxis to Rubel Model Auto Mobiles. While most teams search outside the airport, Rob & Kelley walk up to the taxi stop and arrange to have a cab brought to them; this intelligent idea (which savvy Racers have been doing for years), Rob/Kelley depart the airport in first place! Ryan says of the locals, "It's all dudes, it's all men and they don't want anything to do with us." As to twin sisters Natalie & Nadiya:

Nadiya: "This is third world Grand Theft Auto, plus bulls and goats and garbage."

Natalie: "...And minus the nice cars."

From their taxi, life partners Josh & Brent see goats; "We're among our peeps; I wonder if their goats would get along with our goats?" Josh wonders. Trey & Lexi lose some time when their taxi driver stops for gas. As Gary & Will travel, Gary is once again little Mr. Sunshine:

Will: "Whatever happens, luck of the draw."

Gary: "No, shut up. All right, I'm not worried about luck of the draw right now, I'm worried about getting out of here."

This irritates Will because the implication is he's not worried about the Race. Meanwhile, Rob/Kelley's driver brings them to a landfill so they lose their first place standing.

Ryan says "this place is funky monkey," thus naming the episode. At Rubel Model Auto Mobiles, Abbie/Ryan arrive first (Natalie/Nadiya see them and one says "These two idiots got here first.") and find the next clue: it's time for a Roadblock! One team member must work on a city bus, first covering up dents by spreading putty over the surface of a marked section of the bus, then sanding another marked section, then removing three sets of seats from the bus and carrying them to the man with the next clue! This is the most intense labour we've seen on the Race thus far, so it's a little surprising to see Abbie & Ryan decide to not use the Fast Forward, having concluded it's best to start on the Roadblock since they're already there. Ryan opts to take the Roadblock. Natalie/Nadiya decide to take the Roadblock too, for some reason (they base the decision on Abbie/Ryan not taking the Fast Forward). Natalie takes the Roadblock; Chippendale dancers Jaymes/James arrive and don't know if anyone else is chasing the Fast Forward, so James take the Roadblock. Nadiya begins encouraging Natalie, saying "We can't lose here, we're the only brownies, we have to win." James struggles with simply opening his tin of putty. Rob/Kelley arrive and Rob takes the challenge; he's well suited to this, having worked on his own monster truck repair.

Rock n' rollers James & Abba arrive at the bus yard, but decide to take the Fast Forward instead of the Roadblock, proving once again how they don't follow the herd. This Fast Forward requires teams to collect dead rats from three locations then deliver them to an official. They set out to collect their ratcatching gear. Josh takes the Roadblock for his time. Nadiya keeps yelling encouragement to Natalie, to the point where Ryan gets irritable. Trey and Gary are the last to begin the Roadblock for their respective teams.

Ryan finishes applying his putty, but accidentally wrecks his clue and can't read it; he asks James to let him read his clue and in return he'll help James figure out how to apply the putty. Jaymes agrees to this tactic and Abbie notes this is "why alliances are a good thing." Rob is one of the best at applying the putty, while now James, Trey and Gary are all struggling. Elsewhere, James/Abba are having trouble finding their rats and note, "Let's hope for disaster for somebody ...besides us," says James. At the buses, Rob & Natalie finish their putty (Nadiya tries to influence the judge, saying "Do you have a girlfriend? My sister's single!"); Nadiya notes Natalie has overtaken most of the male contestants. James' work is so bad he has to scrape it off the bus and start over. "Oh my God what is he doing?" Natalie wonders, "Crazy American!" James is becoming frustrated at his chore, but Abbie helps calm him down. Josh asks for judging, saying "Ooh la lah!" as he points at his work; "No ooh la lah," replies the stern judge. Soon, Josh, Gary & Trey are all scraping off their putty and starting over. Elsewhere, James & Abba find their first bucket of rats and load them into a bag.

James: "Like we've never dealt with rats before in this business?"

Abba: "No, our business is littered with rats and we might've even recognized a few of them in the bucket today."

James: "There's that drummer! I remember him!"

At the buses, Nadiya notes how she and Natalie are the only all-woman team left in this Race and Natalie is the only woman performing the Roadblock. By way of encouragement she yells, "Long, strong and hard!" repeatedly. Jaymes joins the chorus, while Ryan mugs to the camera: "Sounds like a Friday night for me!" Jaymes soon jokes, "This is a Muslim country, watch your mouth, girl!" In an aside to the cameras, Ryan describes Nadiya as being "like fingernails on a blackboard." As he keeps sanding his bus, Ryan declares "There's got to be a no talking time out!" Ryan fininshes sanding and starts pulling seats out of his bus. Nadiya tries encouraging Natalie by saying "everyone's struggling," but Rob hears this and states he's not; indeed, Rob is doing very well and finishes sanding next; Rob even carries two sets of seats at once.

Ryan finishes removing his seats and receives the next clue: travel to Shootkir Market and search through a sack of dried fish to find a single fish with the red/yellow Amazing Race colours. He and Abbie head back to find a taxi. Rob finishes next, giving he and Kelley a pretty good standing. Natalie is close behind, finishing her sanding and moving on to the seats. Josh and James each begin sanding, leaving just Trey & Gary on the putty. Gary declares "I don't want to hear you" to Will when he tries to encourage him. As James & Abba keep looking for rats, Abba takes a bad step into raw sewage; he washes off his foot, but worries about what he might've been exposed to. At the buses, Josh & James finish sanding; Trey finally completes the putty, with Gary close behind. Josh & James soon finish with the seats and continue to the market.

At Shootkir Market, Abbie & Ryan find their fish and the next clue prompts the leg's Detour: "Pound the Metal" or "Pound the Cotton." In the former, teams journey to a nearby blacksmith shop and pound a spike with hammers until the blacksmith deems the spike complete.

In "Pound the Cotton," teams must pound out a supply of cotton, put it inside a mattress cover and sew up the mattress. This sounds like the slower Detour option, but Abbie votes for it because she has education in fashion design. Abbie takes charge of the task, guiding Ryan's work. Natalie/Nadiya & Rob/Kelley arrive at the market at almost the same time; both teams choose "Pound the Metal." The twins are a little clumsy with their hammers, while Rob/Kelley seem in their element yet again.

Elsewhere, James/Abba collect their final batch of rats and head back to return them; they've picked up a huge throng of people following them through the streets and both men are touched by this. Turning in the rats, the duo are instructed to travel directly to the Pit Stop, Shambazaar Chan Mia Ghat. They do worry whether they've lost 1st place because of how long it took to finish the Fast Forward. En route, Abba wipes hand sanitizer over the foot which stepped in the sewer. Back at the Roadblock, Trey finishes sanding and quickly deals with his seats, but Gary is still very close. They leave just minutes after Trey/Lexi, but en route, Trey/Lexi's taxi breaks down. Gary/Will's taxi passes them and the duo realize they've got a chance. Trey/Lexi's taxi finally resumes functioning.

James & Abba arrive at Shambazaar Chan Mia Ghat, where Phil informs them they're team number one! As a prize, they've won a trip to Antigua. "We came here to win this, and this is one more step closer to it," saith Abba. Back at "Pound the Cotton," Abbie/Ryan finish their mattress, only to learn they let too much cotton fall by the wayside while they were working; they have to reopen the mattress and place the excess cotton inside.

Meanwhile, Natalie/Nadiya & Rob/Kelley finish "Pound the Metal" and receive the next clue: travel by taxi to Keranigonj Kholamora, then by boat to Swarighat, then search on foot to find the Pit Stop at Shambazaar Chan Mia Ghat. These are some pretty involved instructions! Elsewhere, Jaymes/James & Josh/Brent find their fish at the market; both teams decide to try "Pound the Cotton." Abbie/Ryan finish their Detour and Ryan hugs the man who gives him his clue just long enough for it to seem uncomfortable. Natalie/Nadiya get a taxi to the river, but Rob/Kelley struggle at finding a cab. Elsewhere, Trey/Lexi's cab overtakes Gary/Will; Trey/Lexi find the market, collect their fish and choose "Pound the Metal;" Gary/Will choose "Pound the Cotton."

Abbie/Ryan are the first team to Keranigonj Kholamora and hope to be the only ones on the boat to Swarighat, but Natalie/Nadiya catch up to them; Abbie/Ryan are annoyed to share the boat with the sisters. At "Pound the Cotton," Jaymes/James wonder why they choose a sewing task when neither knows how to sew. Excellent question! "If you get a mattress that says 'made in Bangladesh,' make sure it doesn't say 'by Jaymes & James." They soon overhear something from Josh & Brent's nearby station:

Brent: "Josh used to sew a lot of his costumes when he was a drag queen, so..."

Jaymes: "Wait a minute! We got a drag queen over here?"

Josh: "I know, but my costumes always fell apart."

Jaymes: "I didn't know he was a drag queen. What's your drag name?"

Josh: "Aquadisiac. So, someone is sleeping on an Aquadisiac mattress tonight."

Josh/Brent finish the Detour and head to the river, while Jaymes/James are slowed down by letting too much cotton fall out. As Trey & Lexi work on their Detour, Lexi notes Gary/Will aren't there: "I guess they were scared of Trey's muscles!" When Jaymes/James see Gary/Will begin "Pound the Cotton," they're pleased to learn this means at least one team is still behind them, although Jaymes notes "Once you fight for last and win, you ain't scared of it," referring to the first leg of this Race.

On the boat to the Pit Stop, Natalie remarks, "Now it's going to be a footrace between us and the craziest couple here, a couple who are almost psychotic. And they're like, in crazy good shape so we know they can sprint like Hell." At Shambazaar Chan Mia Ghat, Abbie/Ryan & Natalie/Nadiya race each other to the Pit Stop and arrive within seconds of each other; Abbie/Ryan are team 2, Natalie/Nadiya team 3.

Rob/Kelley finally board a boat; Josh/Brent aren't far behind and see Rob/Kelley pulling away; Josh asks, "Hey, Georgia! Do we have to take that boat?" Rob responds, "I don't know! We're lost!" Rob does enjoy messing with his competitors when he can. Despite this, Josh/Brent soon find a boat and set out. At the Detour, Trey/Lexi & Jaymes/James finish their tasks.

Rob & Kelley see Phil at the Pit Stop from their boat and have the ferryman pull to the shore. They race to the Pit Stop, where Phil informs them they're team number four... but they were supposed to stop at Swarighat, so he can't check them in. Frustrated and blaming their ferryman (rather than themselves), they head back to their boat. It's hard to tell from the footage whether the blame belongs on the ferryman or the Racers, but Rob/Kelley certainly blame him.

Trey/Lexi take a taxi to Shambazaar Chan Mia Ghat and soon encounter Josh/Brent just as they disembark from their boat. Josh/Brent explain the couple took the wrong route to the Pit Stop and should take a boat back to Keranigonj Kholamora, then return to Swarighat. Josh/Brent move on to the Pit Stop, where Phil names them team number four, their best showing thus far! Jaymes/James start out in their boat while Gary/Will finish the Detour and Trey/Lexi return to Keranigonj Kholamora and turn right around.

Rob/Kelley return to the Pit Stop, having kept in the game as team number five; they're still elated.

Rob: "You know what, brother?"

Phil: "What's that?"

Rob: "What do we got?"

Phil: "You've got heart."

Rob: "That's what I'm talkin' about."

Phil: "How big is your heart?"

Rob: "It must be about 300 pounds."

Jaymes/James arrive at the Pit Stop in 6th place and seem genuinely surprised and elated at how well they've done; they must have assumed Gary/Will were the only team possibly behind them. As Trey/Lexi arrive at Swarighat, they see Gary/Will arriving via taxi; oops. They helpfully explain to Gary/Will exactly what they themselves had learned and direct the duo to the boats. Gary/Will realize how bad this is for them. Trey/Lexi carry on to the Pit Stop, claiming 7th place.

Gary/Will complete the trip via boat properly, but when they arrive at the Pit Stop, Phil informs them they've been eliminated; boy, the non-elimination legs remain elusive so far. They're disappointed at being eliminated; "We were representing the fans of the show and we let them down," Gary claims. Please Gary, don't drag us into this. "The Amazing Race was the greatest experience of my life," Gary concludes.

Gary/Will were never the swiftest, strongest nor sharpest, but weren't prone to a lot of errors either; they lagged behind other teams even when the playing field was level, so it was only ever a question of how long it would take for them to be eliminated. They were pleasant enough, but I feel they took the Race a little too seriously because of being fans. They really should have lightened up and enjoyed the trip because - and as viewers they should know - it's once in a lifetime and it makes you a permanent part of the program's history.

Thoughts on the seven remaining teams:

  1. James & Abba: They continue to play their own game and more power to them; I like their gentle sense of humour and carefully-considered strategies. I'd like to see these two run to the end, I think.
  2. Abbie & Ryan: They were a little too easily rattled by Nadiya during the Roadblock (and made too much of it for the cameras), but their Detour selection turned out to be right for them. Again, I'm not fond of them but I'm not against them.
  3. Natalie & Nadiya: Nadiya was more than a little grating during the Roadblock, but since it pumped up Natalie and irritated the competition, I can't fault it. Their comments about Abbie/Ryan were unnecessarily ugly and seemed to arise from nowhere. Still, they're overall a funny and strong team.
  4. Josh & Brent: I'm impressed to see these two perform so well when basically all they've done is make very few errors. Sometimes that's all it takes to remain in the game.
  5. Rob & Kelley: They demonstrated some great strategy and effort during this leg, but once again injured themselves by not paying strict attention to the clues. They're fortunate to have avoided elimination so far, but if they it under control, they could still be in this game for a while.
  6. Jaymes & James: These two struggled, mainly over the Roadblock and their Detour choice was probably the wrong one. Fortunately, they remain a very upbeat team, hands-down the most likeable contestants of the season. I don't want to lose these two, there would be so much less to laugh at without them.
  7. Trey & Lexi: From hopes of claiming first, these two fell quickly; Trey's problems at the Roadblock were the biggest problem they had control over, transportation was the biggest one they had no control over. They remain to fight another day... hopefully for more than one day. I don't often root for the younger couples, but these two have heart.

Next week: The Race continues in Bangaldesh as teams begin to wilt under the excessive heat and struggle with bamboo poles. Will this be the first non-elmination leg?

Old-Time Radio Theme Month, Day 22: "Whence Came You"

We visited one ancient god on Saturday; how about another?

An archaeologist working in Egypt invites a friend to his dig location. However, an unfortunate mishap on site leads to death; there's something still alive inside the crypt...

This is one of the better-known episodes of Quiet Please, a series which was short-lived, but beloved by those who heard it. It was a cheaply-made program with few actors, limited music and audio effects. And yet, the quality of the stories almost always surpassed the show's limitations.

You can download a copy of this radio show from here.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Old-Time Radio Theme Month, Day 21: "The Trial for Murder"

When I first heard this broadcast of the Weird Circle from April 30, 1944, I was surprised to learn Charles Dickens had written a ghost story. I hadn't read much Dickens at the time (I've since read most of his fiction), but it's always fascinating to discover authors have broader ranges of style than what you first imagine (see also: Roald Dahl).

This is a pretty simple and straight forward tale, but it has one terrific closing line. A juror serving on a murder trial finds himself possessed of inside knowledge on the case when the ghost of the murdered man begins feeding him information!

You can download a copy of this radio show from here.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Old-Time Radio Theme Month, Day 20: "The Grove of Ashtaroth"

I became an Alfred Hitchcock fan while I was still in junior high, thanks to rebroadcasts of the original Alfred Hitchcock Presents and occasional viewings of his motion pictures. Having enjoyed his film the 39 Steps, I was interested to discover the original novel by John Buchan when my uncle gave me the Complete Richard Hannay. So began an equal fascination with Buchan's stories.

Outside of adaptations of "the 39 Steps," the only other old-time radio program adapted from Buchan is his short story "the Grove of Ashtaroth," as heard February 29, 1948 on Escape. This tells the tale of a man who builds an elaborate home in Africa by a grove of trees. A visiting friend soon discovers terrible things transpire in the grove by night. Buchan's biographers have pointed to this tale being inspired by Buchan's adulation and later disappointment in T.E. Lawrence.

You can download a copy of this radio show from here.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Old-Time Radio Theme Month, Day 19: "Kaleidoscope"

Today, we make a sudden jolt from the supernatural terrors of Earth and ascend to the horrors of space. The recently-deceased Ray Bradbury was adept at writing horror stories, the like of which I've presented already, but his tales of space could be just as terrifying. I give you "Kaleidoscope," as presented on Suspense July 12, 1955.

The last time I listened to this episode, I had been taking a nap while old-time radio streamed over my computer. As "Kaleidoscope" began its drama of men cast adrift in space after losing their ship, my semi-conscious mind was a little confused by the audio and began to write me into what I was hearing. It's a testament to how intense this program is.

You can download a copy of this radio show from here.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Old-Time Radio Theme Month, Day 18: "Papa Benjamin"

A man three years younger than I once had this to say:
"I woke up in the night to hear voices coming from my radio; it was New Orleans and a bandleader was taking the police through a dank back alley, guiding them to the place where he murdered a man. I had fallen asleep with the radio on and happened to draw myself from my slumber near the start of the program, missing little more than the opening theme and introduction. Consequently, I didn't know what exactly I was listening to and in that state my mind was in - still half-asleep - this weird tale of voodoo weaved a spell around me. In my state of partial consciousness, it was as though the story was happening to me, like it was a dream I was having instead of a 50 year old drama being replayed over the wire. Every time I hear it, I recall that first time and the mental pictures I saw then return to me."

"Papa Benjamin" was adapted to Escape on January 21, 1948; it was based on a story by Cornell Woolrich and would later be adapted to Boris Karloff's TV series Thriller in 1961 and as a segment of the film Dr. Terror's House of Horrors in 1965.

You can download a copy of this radio show from here.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Old-Time Radio Theme Month, Day 17: "the Horla"

Returning to Peter Lorre's program Mystery in the Air, we have an episode from August 21, 1947: an adaptation of Guy de Maupassant's "the Horla." You may recall this as one of the tales Ernie Colon adapted into comic book format in his Inner Sanctum graphic novel, as I blogged here.

This episode's story of a man haunted by an invisible presence was my first exposure to Maupassant and led to my reading two collections of his short fiction; he didn't write much in the supernatural vein and I found his cynicism to be overwhelming at times, but I was fascinated by the notion of a man who wrote tales of madness, then ultimately succumbed to madness himself. Many of his stories are quite clever, like a subdued Saki. I recommend investigating his bibliography.

There's an anecdote about how during one broadcast of Mystery in the Air, Lorre's performance became so intense that he accidentally flung his script away and had to ad-lib the rest of the program; I don't know which episode it would be, but based on the intensity of this program's finale and his sudden closing apology, this may be the show in question.

You can download a copy of this radio show from here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

If it didn't bear repeating, I wouldn't be repeating myself

This year's release of the Avengers motion picture was a catalyst for me to make some hard decisions about what I was willing to financially support in the comic book market; I refused to see the film in theaters, but just recently borrowed a copy of the DVD from a friend. Having finally seen it, it occurs to me since my primary issue with comics today is the lack of compensation given to those who created the stories and characters, wouldn't it be interesting to identify where elements in this movie originated from?

If you see something I overlooked or identified incorrectly, do let me know. Updated 11/21/2013: thank you Steven & Neil!

The Avengers, a team of super heroes including Thor, Hulk & Iron Man, banded together as "Earth's Mightiest Heroes" because of the instigation of Loki, who plans to turn the heroes against the Hulk: Derived from the Avengers#1 (1963) by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby.

The Tesseract, a glowing cube possessing massive cosmic power: derived from the Cosmic Cube of Tales of Suspense#79 (1966) by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby.

Loki, Thor's evil brother who possesses the power to cast illusions; Asgard, home of the Norse Gods which connects to Earth via Bifrost; Odin, father of Loki & Thor: derived from Journey into Mystery#85 (1962) by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber & Jack Kirby.

The Chitauri, an extraterrestrial army who battle the Avengers: derived from the Ultimates#8 (2002) by Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch, but based on the Skrulls of Fantastic Four#2 (1962) by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby.

S.H.I.E.L.D., an international espionage agency, headed by a council and directed by Nick Fury; Nick Fury wearing an eyepatch; Life Model Decoys; the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier, their mobile headquarters designed like a flying battleship; the enemy group Hydra: Derived from Strange Tales#135 (1965) by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby.

Nick Fury, an experienced soldier: Derived from Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos#1 (1963) by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby.

Nick Fury as an African-American man: Derived from Ultimate Marvel Team-Up#5 (2001) by Brian Michael Bendis & Mike Allred.

Nick Fury depicted as Samuel L. Jackson with visible scars around his left eye; the Avengers as a team organized and run by S.H.I.E.L.D. under Fury's guidance; the Hulk resulting from an attempt to recreate Captain America; Iron Man's eyes & unibeam glowing light blue; S.H.I.E.L.D. presenting a new costume to Captain America after his revival: Derived from the Ultimates#2 (2002) by Mark Millar & Bryan Hitch.

Maria Hill, next in line to command S.H.I.E.L.D.: Derived from Secret War#5 (2005) by Brian Michael Bendis & Gabriele Dell'Otto.

The S.H.I.E.L.D. insignia, an eagle within a circle: Derived from Strange Tales#154 (1967) by Roy Thomas & Jim Steranko.

Hawkeye, an expert marksman who wields trick arrows (such as explosive arrows and cable line arrows) and has a personal relationship with the Black Widow; Iron Man's chief weapon, repulsor rays: Derived from Tales of Suspense#57 (1964) by Stan Lee & Don Heck.

Hawkeye's real name, Clint Barton: Derived from the Avengers#64 (1969) by Roy Thomas & Gene Colan.

Hawkeye & the Black Widow as fellow S.H.I.E.L.D. agents recruited into the Avengers; Hawkeye's costume: Derived from the Ultimates#7 (2002) by Mark Millar & Bryan Hitch.

Loki's power of mind control: Derived from Journey into Mystery#88 (1963) by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber & Jack Kirby.

Thor, Norse god of thunder, defender of Earth, wields hammer Mjolnir which can control storms, can only be lifted by those who are worthy and always returns to his hand; Thor's blue costume with plated chest, bare arms and red cape: Derived from Journey into Mystery#83 (1962) by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber & Jack Kirby.

The Avengers logo with enlarged "A": Derived from the Avengers#96 (1972) by Gaspar Saladino.

The Black Widow, alias Natasha Romanoff, a Russian spy, originally a villain: Derived from Tales of Suspense#52 (1964) by Stan Lee, Don Rico, Don Heck & Jack Kirby.

The Black Widow as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Derived from the Avengers#38 (1967) by Roy Thomas & Don Heck.

The Black Widow as an Avenger: Derived from the Avengers#111 (1973) by Steve Englehart & Don Heck.

Iron Man, alias Tony Stark, a playboy philanthropist and former weapons designer who wears a high-tech suit of armour which includes enhanced strength and the power of flight; has shrapnel embedded in his heart and needs pacemaker to survive, pacemaker also powers his armour: Derived from Tales of Suspense#39 (1963) by Larry Lieber, Don Heck, Stan Lee & Jack Kirby.

The Hulk, alias Bruce Banner, an expert in gamma rays who took a massive dose of gamma radiation which causes him to transform into a superhuman monster; Banner and/or the Hulk seen wearing the colour purple; the Hulk describing others as "puny": Derived from the Incredible Hulk#1 (1962) by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby.

Bruce Banner as a physician: Derived from the Savage She-Hulk#1 (1980) by Stan Lee & John Buscema.

Bruce Banner's transformations into the Hulk caused by extreme stress or anger: Derived from Tales to Astonish#60 (1964) by Stan Lee & Steve Ditko.

The Black Widow wielding handguns: Derived from Bizarre Adventures#25 (1981) by Ralph Macchio & Paul Gulacy.

The S.H.I.E.L.D. Council seen as shadowy figures on monitors; the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier falling out of the sky: Derived from Marvel Graphic Novel#18 (1985) by John Byrne.

The "Avengers Initiative," a government-run program used to operate the Avengers: Derived from Civil War#7 (2007) by Mark Millar & Steve McNiven and Avengers: the Initiative#1 (2007) by Dan Slott & Stefano Caselli.

Captain America, alias Steve Rogers, a World War 2 super hero wearing a red/white/blue costume with star on chest and "A" on mask; Captain America's original triangular shield: Derived from Captain America Comics#1 (1941) by Joe Simon & Jack Kirby.

Peggy Carter, Captain America's war-time love interest: Derived from Tales of Suspense#75 (1966) by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby.

Captain America frozen in ice during World War 2, revived in contemporary times, joins the Avengers: Derived from the Avengers#4 (1964) by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby.

Howard Stark, father to Tony Stark: Derived from Iron Man#28 (1970) by Archie Goodwin & Don Heck.

Howard Stark's past connection to Captain America: Derived from Captain America Annual#9 (1990) by Randall Frenz & Mark Bagley.

Iron Man's armour coloured red & gold: Derived from Tales of Suspense#48 (1963) by Stan Lee, Steve Ditko & Jack Kirby.

Iron Man's unibeam in the center of his armour: Derived from Tales of Suspense#40 (1963) by Stan Lee, Robert Bernstein & Jack Kirby.

The design of the Iron Man armour: Derived from Iron Man#75 (2004) by Adi Granov.

Pepper Potts, Tony Stark's assistant and romantic interest: Derived from Tales of Suspense#45 (1963) by Stan Lee, Robert Bernstein, Don Heck & Jack Kirby.

Stark Tower, Tony Stark's New York skyscraper: Derived from New Avengers#3 (2005) by Brian Michael Bendis & David Finch.

Iron Man's armour applied using mechanical apparatus: Derived from Iron Man TV series (1995) by Tom Tataranowicz.

Jarvis, Iron Man's artificial intelligence assistant who helps design the armours: Derived from HOMER of Iron Man#298 (1993) by Len Kaminski & Tom Tenney and named after Edwin Jarvis of Tales of Suspense#59 (1964) by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby.

Tony Stark & Pepper Potts in a romantic relationship: Derived from Invincible Iron Man#15 (2009) by Matt Fraction & Salvador Larroca.

Abraham Erskine and his Super-Soldier Serum which empowered Captain America: Derived from Captain America Comics#1 (1941) by Joe Simon & Jack Kirby and Tales of Suspense#63 (1965) by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby.

S.H.I.E.L.D. agents dressed in blue jumpsuits: Derived from Strange Tales#139 (1965) by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby & Joe Sinnott.

Captain America's round shield; Captain America's mask fastened to his costume: Derived from Captain America Comics#2 (1941) by Joe Simon & Jack Kirby.

Captain America throwing his shield so that it ricochets and returns to his hand: Derived from the Avengers#5 (1964) by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby.

The wings on Captain America's mask drawn flat on the sides of his head: Derived from Captain America: Reborn#1 (2009) by Ed Brubaker & Bryan Hitch.

Thor's beard: Derived from Thor#367 (1986) by Walter Simonson.

Captain America's belief in God: Derived from the Avengers#113 (1973) by Steve Englehart & Bob Brown.

Odin called "the All-Father" Derived from Journey into Mystery#97 (1963) by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby.

Loki as Thor's foster brother: Derived from Journey into Mystery#112 (1965) by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby.

Thor called "Odinson": Derived from Namor the Sub-Mariner#13 (1991) by John Byrne.

Iron Man's armour absorbing energy: Derived from Iron Man#3 (1968) by Archie Goodwin & Johnny Craig.

Captain America & Iron Man having a tense, argumentative relationship: Derived from the Avengers#153 (1976) by Gerry Conway & John Buscema.

Jane Foster, Thor's love interest: Derived from Journey into Mystery#84 (1962) by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber & Jack Kirby.

The Black Widow's all-black costume with Widow's Bite wrist weapon; the Black Widow's red hair: Derived from the Amazing Spider-Man#86 (1970) by Stan Lee & John Romita.

The red widow icon on Black Widow's belt: Derived from Journey into Mystery#517 (1998) by Scott Lobdell & Randall Green.

Bruce Banner attempting suicide but failing because the Hulk won't let him die: Derived from the Incredible Hulk#467 (1998) by Peter David & Adam Kubert.

S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Jasper Sitwell: Derived from Strange Tales#144 (1966) by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby & Howard Purcell.

The Hulk having green skin: Derived from the Incredible Hulk#2 (1962) by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby.

Hulk battling Thor and attempting to lift Mjolnir: Derived from the Avengers#3 (1964) and Journey into Mystery#112 (1965), both by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby.

The Destroyer: Derived from Journey into Mystery#118 (1965) by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby.

Black Widow being redeemed and rescued by Hawkeye: Derived from the Avengers#30 (1966) by Stan Lee & Don Heck.

Thor's modified costume with chainmail sleeves: Derived from Thor#1 (2007) by J. Michael Stracynski & Olivier Coipel.

Hawkeye's modular design arrows: Derived from Hawkeye#1 (1983) by Mark Gruenwald.

Captain America as Avengers leader; Hawkeye as an Avenger: Derived from the Avengers#16 (1965) by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby.

"Hulk smash" quote: Derived from Tales to Astonish#88 (1967) by Stan Lee & Gil Kane.

The Hulk performing massive leaps through the air: Derived from the Incredible Hulk#3 (1962) by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby.

Captain America's motorcycle: Derived from Captain America Comics#27 (1943) by Alex Schomburg.

Thanos, an extraterrestrial villain: Derived from Iron Man#55 (1973) by Jim Starlin & Mike Friedrich.

Thanos questing after the Cosmic Cube: Derived from Captain Marvel#27 (1973) by Jim Starlin & Mike Friedrich.

Thanos in love with Death: Derived from Captain Marvel#28 (1973) by Jim Starlin & Mike Friedrich.

Old-Time Radio Theme Month, Day 16: "Mark My Grave"

Being halfway through the month, the "weirdness" factor of the old-time radio shows I'm presenting are about to ratchet up. Straddling the line between full-on supernatural horror is "Mark My Grave," an episode of Inner Sanctum from January 17, 1949. In this tale, a reporter investigating a couple's disappearance meets an odd family who claim to be haunted by their own father, whose ghost will be coming to claim each of them. This being Inner Sanctum, you may assume it's all a plot with no real ghosts involved. Don't be too sure.

You can download a copy of this radio show from here.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Amazing Race 21-03 recap: "There's no Crying in Baseball"

Last night's episode of the Amazing Race did a great job of embellishing on teams who haven't had much focus, plus threw in a very surprising finale.

We resume the program in Surabaya, Indonesia as twin sisters Natalie & Nadiya depart in 1st place with instructions to find Antika Jaya Padang Restaurant and a warning about an upcoming U-Turn. They start looking around on foot, but can't find good directions so wind up waiting as their allies dating couple Trey/Lexi start the leg. To the camera, Lexi describes the twins' opinion of she and Trey as "hillbillies," but they've benefited from working in an alliance. However, now the two teams can't figure out their next move, so the twins suggest waiting for "the stupid Chippendales." Said Chippendale dancers Jaymes/James describe how they work in Vegas, but Jaymes is from Virginia while James is from Maine so they don't necessarily fit people's expectations. dating couple Abbie/Ryan soon join them. Eventually, they realize they need taxis and everyone moves to the cabs. Consequently, Natalie & Nadiya wind up in one of the last cabs; they note this is an example of how working together "makes you dumb, because you feel safe."

Life partners Josh & Brent depart next; Josh sagely notes the teams have divided into the "alpha" teams and "the rest," which is what he and Brent fall into; they're glad to be doing their best. Rock n' roll industry friends James & Abba leave next.

At the restaurant, Trey/Lexi arrive first and discover it's time for a Roadblock: one team member must load up 20 plates in their arms at once, then deliver all the dishes to a table. If they drop any of the plates, they'll have to begin the task over again. Lexi opts to take the task. While she begins, Abbie/Ryan, Jaymes/James & Josh/Brent arrive at about the same time; Natalie/Nadiya's taxi is lost so they change cabs. Ryan, Jaymes & Brent take the Roadblock for their teams.

As friends Caitlin & Brittany depart, Caitlin comments on the stress of the Race and notes "you're gonna see me mad before you see me cry." Brittany adds," I could get punched in the face and I still won't cry. (snort) I mean, there's no crying in baseball," providing this episode's title.

At the Roadblock, Lexi carries her plates to the table, but drops some and has to start over. Jaymes notes his first job in Las Vegas was working for a pancake house. Brent drops some plates and starts over. Jaymes finishes first and is given his next clue: head to the Guben train station and catch a train to Bangil; the next clue will be made available on the train. Ryan finishes immediately after him. As they run back to their taxis, James & Abba arrive; Abba takes the Roadblock. Lexi, Brent & Abba each soon finish the Roadblock and head to the train station.

Natalie/Nadiya finally reach the restaurant; Natalie runs right past the clue box, but Nadiya sees it; Nadiya takes the Roadblock, just as married couple Rob & Kelley begin the leg. At the train station, Trey/Lexi discover the next train is at 7:36. Caitlin & Brittany arrive at the restaurant and Brittany accepts the task. Best friends Gary & Will begin the leg and comment on how poorly they've been doing, which is hard on them, being such great fans of the program. Natalie yells at Nadiya to remember her yoga; this actually helps her complete the task, so she says. Rob begins the Roadblock as Brittany finishes; as they complete it, Gary & Will arrive and Gary takes the challenge.

At the train station, James & Abba arrive just in time to catch the 7:36; only the top five teams make the train. The show tries to make it look like Natalie/Nadiya only just miss the train by a minute leading to the commercials, but after the break we learn it wasn't a near miss at all. However, aboard the train, the leading teams discover the next train is about 3 hours after theirs; they have a huge advantage over the bottom four teams.

Natalie/Nadiya have no choice but to wait for the next train. They're gradually joined by Caitlin/Brittany, Rob/Kelley & Gary/Will. En route to Bangil, Abba sums up the other teams while dubbing Jaymes/James "the chipmunks," which is cute. Jaymes starts a discussion about U-Turns with the other teams and convinces Josh/Brent, Abbie/Ryan & Trey/Lexi that none of them should use the U-Turn because they're guaranteed to stay in the front (that is, even if a team has to perform both Detour tasks, they're bound to remain ahead of the back four teams because of the 4-hour lead). It is definitely a good idea to let the other four teams battle over the U-Turn. However, Jaymes notes James/Abba were in the back of the train away from the others so they didn't promise anything about the U-Turn. James/Abba notice no one else is paying attention to them: "Good."

As the teams ride on the train, a man comes through the aisles brandishing clues; they quickly dig in and discover when the train arrives at Bangil, it will be time for the Detours.

The first Detour is "Egg Head," which requires teams to purchase two eggs each then have local magicians cook the eggs using a fiery coconut placed atop their heads. When the eggs are cooked, they'll have to eat them to receive the next clue.

The other Detour, "Lion's Head," requires both Racers to dress in a lion's mask costume and walk in a procession, performing minor dance instructions when demanded. All the teams decide they'll do this Detour except for Josh & Brent, who want to try "Egg Head." At the train station, as Gary & Will arrive, Will finds money on the ground: "This could be our lucky day," he hopes.

Gary: "Luck is smiling upon us today!"

Will: "We've got a chance."

Gary certainly has his ups and downs, but Will seems pretty level-headed. The top five teams arrive in Bangil and take becaks, a pedal-operated two-seater. Jaymes notes he and James are too big for the vehicle and have to sit partially on each others' laps. While Trey/Lexi, Abbie/Ryan, Jaymes/James & James/Abba head to the "Lion's Head," Josh/Brent go shopping for eggs. Jaymes is very excited as he suits up for the task: "We get to be part of this culture today, we get to experience this!" Jaymes notes the head piece of the lion costume had to be held in place using their mouths: "I don't know how many dudes have had their mouth on this thing before me. I think I must have made out with 947 Indonesians today just by putting that thing on my mouth. You could just taste it! I'm tasting years of culture right there in my mouth! It was not pleasant!" Man, "I'm tasting years of culture" would have been a better episode title! Meanwhile, Josh/Brent have only just bought their eggs and now have to find the magicians. It's clear this is the slower Detour option.

Abbie & Ryan finish the procession first and receive the next clue: travel to the Perliman Pos. They all know this must be where the U-Turn is located. Jaymes/James finish next, followed by Trey/Lexi & James/Abba. All four teams return to becaks to find the U-Turn. Josh/Brent arrive at the magicians and begin having eggs fried on their heads. "Can we put this in our next cookbook?" Josh asks. Elsewhere, the back four teams have left the station for Bangil.

Arriving at Perliman Pos, Abbie & Ryan discover the U-Turn is a double blind U-Turn - they can U-Turn someone behind them without having to reveal their identities. True to their word, they don't U-Turn anyone. The next clue directs them to SMA Negeri 1 High School, where Phil waits at the Pit Stop! Abbie/Ryan return to their becak and begin the trip. Jaymes/James & Trey/Lexi arrive at the U-Turn at the same time and don't use it; James/Abba follow suit, although James/Abba's becak driver brings them to the wrong school.

Abbie & Ryan arrive at the school and claim 1st place from Phil, who also awards them a trip for two to Fiji. Trey/Lexi arrive moments later in 2nd place. In a confidential to the cameras, Lexi admits Abbie/Ryan are their strongest competition and if they have the chance to U-Turn them, they will take it. Josh/Brent finish up their Detour by eating their eggs; Josh notes the eggs were fresh, which they could tell as farmers. Jaymes/James arrive at the school in 3rd; James/Abba are 4th and they note they "don't need the validation of the group," which is why they race alone. On the train, the back of the pack are discussing how to use the U-Turn and Will declares they should U-Turn someone behind them; this prompts a weary "obviously" from Gary. Josh/Brent arrive at the school in 5th place.

On the train, Natalie/Nadiya almost mistake the vendor with their clues for a typical food vendor and start to ask for prices! All four teams want to try "Lion's Head." They finally arrive at Bangil, but Gary & Will were seated at the other end of the train from the other teams and the other three teams have departed in becaks by the time they arrive. They have no idea what a becak is! Finally resolving this minor quandary, they continue to "Lion's Head."

As the first three teams arrive at the Detour, Caitlin/Brittany have trouble paying their becak driver because of the language barrier and a lack of change; they estimate they lost 15 minutes over this! Natalie/Nadiya get out in front on the Detour, which they describe as "cross fit with a lion mask instead of dumbbells." Natalie/Nadiya finish the Detour and head to the U-Turn locale, with Rob/Kelley behind them. Natalie/Nadiya arrive at the U-Turn and see no one has used it; Natalie takes a moment to admire their picture on the board: "Our picture's cute." They head to the Pit Stop. Rob/Kelley arrive and decide they have to U-Turn someone and pick Gary/Will as the team they're certain is in the back. Rob justifies this because they were afraid of getting lost while heading to the Pit Stop.

Caitlin/Brittany finish the Detour and head to the U-Turn. Gary/Will finish after them, while Natalie/Nadiya hit the Pit Stop in 6th place, actually believing they're in 7th place, to their delight. They declare they're "going for number 1" tomorrow. Rob/Kelley claim 8th place. There's not much left to say about this episode, right? Right? Wrong. From here, the episode takes an odd twist.

Caitlin/Brittany's becak driver is lost, so Gary/Will arrive at the U-Turn first and see they've been U-Turned. We go to the commercial as they choose whether to U-Turn Rob/Kelley or Caitlin/Brittany, unsure if either team is behind them. They wind up choosing Rob/Kelley, who are ironically the same team who U-Turned them! Gary/Will's U-Turn has been wasted as they head off to the "Egg Head" Detour. Caitlin/Brittany are still lost. Gary/Will buy their eggs and head to the magicians. Caitlin/Brittany's driver brings them back to the Detour, where they notice Gary/Will, but Gary/Will don't see them. The ladies run around, desperate to find the U-Turn, but don't see it. They waste a lot of time before getting back to a becak and resuming the hunt, just as Gary/Will finish their second Detour!

Caitlin/Brittany finally reach the U-Turn and head to the Pit Stop, but their driver takes them in a circle, back to the U-Turn! Brittany is now getting very upset, while Gary/Will return to the U-Turn and take their clue guiding them to the Pit Stop.

Caitlin/Brittany suddenly see Gary/Will are ahead of them in another becak! They get their driver to pass them! It's incredibly exciting and then... Caitlin/Brittany's driver takes a left while Gary/Will's goes to the right. At first, I didn't know what to think... but true to form, Caitlin/Brittany's driver is lost and has to turn around. Gary & Will arrive at the Pit Stop in 8th place.

Gary: "We. Got. Lucky."

Will: "All we had was luck."

Whereas Caitlin/Brittany had no luck. They arrive last at the school and Phil informs them they've been eliminated. They tell the camera they feel they could have lasted longer and feel they were "a stronger team" than Gary & Will, making it difficult to see those two outdo them.

We didn't receive much focus on Caitlin/Brittany, unfortunately. They seemed like decent folks, but they were shown as hostile to each other or the competition and until this leg, hadn't been hostile to locals. There might have been more to learn about them... but now we'll never know. The time they lost arguing over their becak at the Detour was probably the most crucial bit of business, since it meant they couldn't follow Natalie/Nadiya & Rob/Kelley's lead.

My thoughts on the eight remaining teams:

  1. Abbie & Ryan: They're clearly going to be a major force this season; there isn't much I like about them, but there's nothing to dislike either.
  2. Trey & Lexi: Having placed 2nd twice in a roll, these two might be in the Race to the finish; they seem well-adjusted and pleasant; Lexi's hope of U-Turning Abbie & Ryan in the future shows the right amount of competitiveness.
  3. Jaymes & James: I really didn't expect these two were going to be my favourites of the season; Jaymes consistently makes me laugh and I'm also impressed at how polite he is to locals. I hope to see these two last to the finish.
  4. James & Abba: They've been doing pretty well and didn't hit any snags this time; their intent to race on their own is pretty sharp and could be the right decision, provided they don't get lost.
  5. Josh & Brent: I'm surprised at how well these two are doing as they manage to avoid mistakes and keep moving forward. They didn't choose the right Detour, it seems, but it wasn't a crucial decision. They don't seem as fit as other teams, but could last a while yet by simply making smart decisions.
  6. Natalie & Nadiya: As a pair who want to be leaders, it was surprising to see them falling to the back, looking to others for answers; they recovered halfway through and hopefully have a lot of game left to give - I enjoy watching these two.
  7. Rob & Kelley: This seems to be their best leg so far, in that they didn't make any mistakes. U-Turning Gary & Will might come back to haunt them, but they're doing okay.
  8. Gary & Will: Gary seemed to lighten up this leg; they constantly fall to the back (even after being evened out) and yet, they endure; as a fellow fan, I wish them well, but I keep expecting every leg to be their last.

Next week: The Race moves to Bangladesh as James (of Jaymes/James) gets upset and Rob/Kelley apparently take a boat by mistake.

Old-Time Radio Theme Month, Day 15: "The Black Cat"

Let's turn today to one of literature's classics: Edgar Allan Poe's short story "the Black Cat," as it was dramatized on Mystery in the Air September 18, 1947 with Peter Lorre.

Personally, I find Lorre one of the most fascinating actors of his era; here, he's perfectly cast in the lead role of a man who's inclined to violent rages which he takes out on his pets and his wife. Like most episodes of Mystery in the Air, the highlight is hearing Lorre dramatize the rantings of a frantic madman.

You can download a copy of this radio show from here.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Old-Time Radio Theme Month, Day 14: "Little Old Lady"

Note: the image to the right has nothing to do with this program. Except for the cats.

I'm finally returning to Arch Oboler's Lights Out, this time with "Little Old Lady" from November 17, 1937. A young lady brings her friend out to the woods to see her aunt. The aunt just might be the quintessential crazy old cat lady... or the most sinister old woman who ever lived. Unlike the more reserved Inner Sanctum, you could always count on Lights Out to delve head first into something utterly weird; such is the case here.

You can download a copy of this radio show from here.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Old-Time Radio Theme Month, Day 13: "The Devil's Workshop"

I suppose day 9's "the Lonely Sleep" just whet your appetite for another mannequin story, eh? How about wax statues? We delve into a creepy episode of Inner Sanctum from October 19, 1949: "the Devil's Workshop," again starring Mason Adams. Adams plays a wax sculptor who becomes forced into serving a man with no face, someone eerily similar to his statue of the Devil...

You can download a copy of this radio show from here.