The Forgotten Awesomeville That Was Keye Luke

Keye Luke studio publicity photo while on the Charlie Chan (movie) cast. Original uploader was Rossstatham at en.wikipedia You will remember Keye Luke as the actor who played Master Po on the TV series Kung Fu. If you ever called someone "Grasshopper," then it was the accent of Keye Luke you were mangling.

For me, the only reason to bother with any incarnation of Green Hornet has been when they had someone cool playing Kato, like Bruce Lee in the Sixties tv show or Keye Luke in the Forties serials.

Although you must be aware of his long career as a character actor and occasional star, here are some awesome roles and high profile gigs you might not have heard about:

* Sci-fi, fantasy and action connections:
Voice of Mr. Han in Enter the Dragon.
Mr. Wing in Gremlins and Gremlins 2.
Uncredited voice in the English version of Rodan.
Surgeon in Invisible Agent.

¤ Small parts in major movies: Young Man with a Horn, The Good Earth.

¤ Cliffhanger serials: The Adventures of Smilin' Jack, Green Hornet, Secret Agent X-9, Green Hornet Strikes Again, Lost City of the Jungle.

¤ Appearances on Star Trek, General Hospital, MacGyver, Miami Vice, A-Team, Quincy, Gunsmoke, Dragnet, dozens of other shows.

¤ Voice work in Thundarr the Barbarian, Jonny Quest, Spider-man and his Amazing Friends, Battle of the Planets, uhhhhh, Jem? The Chipmunks??

¤ 1966, voice of Brak in the original Space Ghost tv series!


Critque of the Rings

I'm reading a revisionist "apocryphal" version of Lord of the Rings called The Last Ringbearer by Kirill Yeskov. Imagine that everything you read was wrong, that LOTR was propaganda and the good people of Mordor were fighting to defend themselves. It was written in Russian and hasn't been sanctioned by Tolkien's estate, as if that matters, but a non-commercial English translation by Yisroel Markov is now available. (That's a 1 Mb pdf file, 139k words.)
By Wappen_Erbstetten.png: Source: composed, modified and transparency added by User:Enslin. derivative work: Rondador (Wappen_Erbstetten.png) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
There are quirks or flaws in it, and I can't tell if they are errors in translation, errors in the writing or editing, or just part of the way that Russian novels are different from English ones. For example after two interesting chapters that draw you into the story by focusing on some sympathetic Mordor characters on the run, chapter three starts like this:
Two types of climate epochs follow one another in the history of any world, including Middle Earth – pluvial and arid; the growth and shrinking of polar ice caps follow a single rhythm, which is a sort of a pulse of a planet.

Now that's scary. But easy to skim or skip over the chapter if you get totally bored, and there aren't a lot of raw exposition dumps like that. The quirks or flaws seem small enough to overlook so far, and overall I'd recommend it.

Anyway, in the course of looking up this story, I saw a comment thread on Metafilter about it, where people pointed out essays by Michael Moorcock, David Brin, China Mieville, and one by Kirill Yeskov explaining why he wrote his apocryphal treatment. Most of them are critiquing Tolkien, saying much worse things than I would have expected. They talk politics and whether escapism is good or bad, whether fantasy must always be comforting and reassuring and have happy endings (yes! no! maybe).

Epic Pooh by Michael Moorcock. (written in 1989 but updated since then.)
'The sort of prose most often identified with "high" fantasy is the prose of the nursery-room. It is a lullaby; it is meant to soothe and console. It is mouth-music. It is frequently enjoyed not for its tensions but for its lack of tensions. It coddles; it makes friends with you; it tells you comforting lies.' Moorcock compares a few paragraphs from Tolkien against A. A. Milne (Winnie the Pooh), L. Frank Baum (Wizard of Oz), C. S. Lewis (Narnia), Ursula K. Le Guin, and a lot of other fantasy writers that I now want to try. I knew that Moorcock had a reputation as being contrarian and kinda crotchety, but was surprised that he had such a dim view of Tolkien and Lewis. And he's not the only one . . .

J.R.R. Tolkien -- enemy of progress by David Brin. (2002)
Doesn't it make you feel a little weird when you remember that all the good guys in LOTR are fighting to put a king in power, or fighting on behalf of their local aristocrats like Theoden? Sure, we know that Aragorn is a good guy, but would you rather have a good king or a democracy? Brin points out how Tolkien and many other fantasy stories indulge our yearning for a simpler time when men were men, women mostly knew their place, and politics was simpler because we could rely on benevolent leaders to decide for us. Brin talks about Romanticism and the Enlightenment, future versus past, tradition and nostalgia versus progress, and how these differences are reflected in Star Wars and Star Trek.

Fantasy and revolution: an interview with China Miéville (2000)
Why has fantasy literature so often appeared to be conservative and reactionary? Please don't freak out too much about the fact that this comes from International Socialism Journal, or that Miéville is a Marxist.

How and why I wrote an apocryphal treatment of The Lord of the Rings by Kirill Yeskov, translated by Markov.
Discusses Tolkien and Middle Earth, the differences between sequels and "apocryphal" stories. Ends with the line "Rozenkrantz and Gildenstern Are Dead – long live Rozenkrantz and Gildenstern!"


CDC zombocalypse campaign

If you're    ready for a zombie apocalypse, then you're ready for any emergency.


Formula for early Sherlock Holmes movies

Christopher Lee as undercover Holmes, 1962I'm not a connoisseur of Holmes stories or movies, but I've seen a handful of these old ones lately. I can't help but notice a formula in most of them.

1. The criminal and/or victims are introduced.
2. Holmes spies some woman across the street from 221B and amazes Watson with deductions about her, including that she will come to them with a new case.
3. Depending which movie you're watching, boring stuff happens here.
4. We see a disorienting scene of some outlandishly large-nosed, boisterous working class character interacting with the villain and/or victims.
5. The large-nosed, boisterous character interacts with Watson, sometimes entering 221B, eventually revealing that he's Holmes in disguise.
6. More stuff happens.
7. The end.

It's interesting that most of them don't open on Holmes right away but bring him in after a few scenes highlighting other characters. That can be an intentional narrative tool to alienate the audience from Sherlock somewhat, or keep him from being as sympathetic as a character who was introduced and followed by viewers from start to finish. Think of Psycho where we begin following Janet Leigh's character as if she's the protagonist, then we don't know who to follow or think of as the protagonist when she gets killed halfway through. (Oh, spoiler there, sorry.)

It might be intentional with these Holmes stories, or else one of the earlier films might have begun the trend and others continued it without thinking or realizing the narrative effect. It keeps Holmes aloof and also makes some of his deductions seem more amazing. Viewers have literally seen more of the story and mystery, and yet Holmes is able to deduce those details without having seen as much as we have.

Christopher Lee in an eye-patch is definitely listed in my notebook of scenes to use for mashups eventually.


Joseph Conrad vs. Lovecraft

More Lovecrafty vocabulary terms I found in Joseph Conrad's Lord Jim:

ACCURSED: 4 hits.
LOATH: 1 hit.
LOATHSOME: 2 hits.
MADNESS: 6 hits.
MORTAL: 2 hits.
NAMELESS: 1 hit.
NOISOME: 1 hit.

TERROR is not uniquely Lovecrafty, but it's worth noting that the word is used 14 times in Lord Jim, and repeated ("strike terror . . . terror, terror I tell you . . . ." [sic]) in a single sentence by Gentleman Brown, which reminds me of "The horror! The horror!" from Heart of Darkness.

BATRACHIAN: Chapter V. "Traditionally he ought to see snakes, but he doesn't. Good ol' tradition's at a discount nowadays. Eh! His--er--visions are batrachian. Ha! ha! No, seriously, I never remember being so interested in a case of the jim-jams before."

Also fourteen mentions of the Necronomicon and two of the Pnakotic Scripts. ;)