Saturday, September 13, 2008

We're Here

That's about it.  No power.  This coming from a laptop with dial-up.  Devastation all around.  Blogging will resume one of these days.  


Friday, September 12, 2008

Early Evening Final

We're getting some strong wind gusts now, so I think I'll shut down the computer for the night. Ike looks worse every time I glance at the TV coverage, so I'm going into ostrich mode for the rest of the evening. I'll get a book and read for a while. That should take my mind off things. It would be great if I could post something tomorrow morning, but I think the odds of that are too small to calculate. Well, the automated post of the movie trailer will be there, but that might be it. I'll be back as soon as I can, though.

Mystery in Space - News Blog - Hubble Finds a Mystery Object: "Don't get the idea that we've found every kind of astronomical object there is in the universe. In a paper to appear in the Astrophysical Journal, astronomers working on the Supernova Cosmology Project report finding a new kind of something that they cannot make any sense of."

It's Getting Dark Outside, . . .

. . . and the wind's started to blow a lot harder.  So it's beginning.  We have a long 24 hours ahead of us, I'm afraid.  I don't know when the power will go off, but if it's still on a bit later, I'll put up another little post.  I don't expect it to last much longer, though.

We bought double-paned storm windows a few years ago, so we're protected (to a degree) against the high winds.  I'm pretty sure the windows won't stop a tree limb, though.  Also, we have a "green room" out back, and the windows there are just basic contractor quality.  They're in danger.  

Since Alvin is 20-25 miles from the coast and sitting at an elevation of 43 feet, I don't think we're in any danger from the storm surge, which appears set to become one of history-making proportions.  Flooding might be a problem if we get a ton of rain, but supposedly that won't happen.  Ten to fifteen inches, maybe, which is a lot, but not a severe danger.  I hope.

Thanks again for all the kind thoughts and good wishes.  It's been an interesting month so far.  The big wedding last weekend, and the big hurricane this weekend.  I can do without all the excitement, especially the hurricane part.

Two of the cats wanted to go out and have a look at things, so we let them into the garage, where they're sitting atop one of the cars.  Sam, on the other hand, is asleep on the treadmill in the green room.  He loves to sleep there.  I've been sorely tempted more than once to turn it on and see what happens, but so far I've resisted.

More Bad News about Ike

Firedoglake � Hurricane Ike May Dwarf Katrina In Wreaking Havoc: "Hurricane Ike is closing in on Texas, and stands poised to become one of the most damaging hurricanes of all time. Despite Ike's rated Category 2 strength, the hurricane is much larger and more powerful than Category 5 Katrina or Category 5 Rita. The storm surge from Ike could rival Katrina's, inundating a 200-mile stretch of coast from Galveston to Cameron, Louisiana with waters over 15 feet high."

Yike! Update

Ike threatens to devastate Texas coastal towns: "GALVESTON, Texas (AP) - A massive Hurricane Ike sent white waves crashing over a seawall and tossed a disabled 584-foot freighter in rough water as it steamed toward Texas Friday, threatening to devastate coastal towns and batter America's fourth-largest city.

Ike's eye was forecast to strike somewhere near Galveston late Friday or early Saturday then head inland for Houston, but the sprawling weather system nearly as big as Texas was already buffeting the Gulf Coast and causing flooding in areas still recovering from Labor Day's Hurricane Gustav.

Because of its ominous size, storm surge and flooding were the greatest threats. In unusually strong language, forecasters even warned of 'certain death' for stalwarts who insisted on staying in Galveston; . . ."

The Calm before the Storm

Thanks for all the good wishes in the comments to previous posts. So far it's quiet here. The tropical storm force winds haven't arrived, nor has the rain. If you've seen anything on TV about the storm, however, you know that Galveston's already getting hammered, and the worst is yet to come. I'm still hunkered, still nervous, still dithering.

Henry and Mary Ann Melton went to Galveston for the storm. Mary Ann is posting photos on her blog. Henry has some, too.

Croc Update

Dino vs. Croc. Who wins? Click here.

Okay, Now I'm Getting Nervous

The TV anchors are in full apocalypse mode, and the scary part is that they may even be right. The storm is headed right for Galveston, and after that, Alvin. This is really the pits. For the first time, I wish we'd left. If we'd done that, though, I'd be worrying about the books and the cats. At least if we're here, we can try to mitigate any damage.

Great Film Disasters

The film disasters that changed cinema for ever |
Film |
The Guardian
: "Some films were disasters of such magnitude, they changed cinema for ever. David Thomson reflects on a higher class of failure."

The Outlook Isn't Brilliant

At the moment, it appears that good old Ike (or Yike) will hit Galveston as a Category 3 storm.  If the storm doesn't veer off at the last minute, it will be a direct hit.  That means that Alvin's right in the path.  Tropical storm force winds should get here late this afternoon, with hurricane force winds coming on around midnight or shortly afterward.  I'm not looking forward to this one bit.

Happy Birthday, H. L. Mencken!

"It's the birthday of the journalist and editor H. L. (Henry Louis) Mencken, (books by this author) born in Baltimore, Maryland (1880)."

I wish Mencken were here now to write about the current election campaign.  He'd be having a wonderful time.

Forgotten Books: A GAME FOR HEROES -- James Graham

Back in 1974, I was lying in a hospital bed when I started to read A Game for Heroes by James Graham. I hadn't read more than a couple of pages before I said to myself, "James Graham has got to be Jack Higgins." As it turned out, I was right. I didn't know at the time that Higgins was really Harry Patterson, who also used the pseudonym Hugh Marlowe (and others), but I was already a big fan of Higgins' work. After reading A Game for Heroes, I was a big fan of the books under the Graham name, too.

This one's a WWII adventure set in the Channel Islands where Graham/Higgins/etc. lives. One of the islands is occupied by the Germans, and it's up to Owen Morgan and his ragtag commandos to take it back. There's a admirable enemy, a beautiful but disloyal woman, a traitor or two, bad weather, lots of action, and Graham's vigorous first-person narration. What more could you ask for?

While Jack Higgins' current work is on the bestseller lists all the time, I've never thought it was up to the books he wrote in the '60s and '70s. I've read most of the books Fawcett published in the '70s a couple of times, and they've never let me down. I recommend them all, and
A Game for Heroes is as good a place as any to begin.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Bad News, ABBA Fans

iWon News - Opening of ABBA museum delayed: "STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) - The opening of a museum dedicated to Swedish pop group ABBA has been delayed.

The initial target for the opening was June 2009, but project co-founder Ulf Westman said Thursday the renovation of the building will take longer than expected because it is 'more complicated than what was predicted earlier.'"

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

The Top Songs of the Billboard Hot 100 Era

iWon News - `The Twist' is top song of Billboard Hot 100 era: "NEW YORK (AP) - How's this for a twist: Of all the No. 1 songs in the 50 years of the Billboard Hot 100 chart, Chubby Checker's 'The Twist' ranks as the most popular single.

Elvis and the Beatles didn't even make the top five."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

About this Hunkering Down

Thanks to my ability to schedule things in advance on the blog, the movie trailers will continue even if I don't have power here.  Thy're already scheduled into October.  I have no idea if there will be any other blog content over the weekend, but if all goes extremely well, maybe we won't lose our power.  Fingers crossed.

Yet Another List I'm Not On

Top 10: Top-10 Web Celebrities 2008-2009

Talk Like a Pirate Day

It's coming September 19.

Line Forms on the Right

Soderbergh tunes up Liberace film - Entertainment News, Film News, Media - Variety: "Steven Soderbergh is in the early stages of developing a biopic about Liberace for Warner Bros., which he will direct.
The filmmaker said he has drafted his 'Traffic' star Michael Douglas to play the flamboyant pianist.

Richard LaGravanese is writing the script, and Jerry Weintraub will produce.

Soderbergh is in discussions with Matt Damon to play Scott Thorson, who sued Liberace in 1982 for $113 million in palimony, claiming he was the entertainer’s companion for five years. Even though Liberace never wavered from career-long denials that he was gay, Thorson reportedly settled for $95,000 in 1986."

We Remember 9/11

The Second Best Secret Agent in the Whole Wide World

The Liquidator

I Still Don't Like Ike

Ike's landfall has moved much closer to us.  There's no mandatory evacuation here because the rule of thumb for hurricanes is to "run from the water, hide from the wind."  We're in no danger of flooding (supposedly), so we'll hide from the wind.  We  have storm windows, and we shouldn't be in extreme danger.  The main thing that worries us is the loss of electricity.  We'll have to see  how it all plays out.  Things don't look good at the moment.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I Don't Like Ike

So Hurricane Ike is bearing down on the Texas Gulf Coast, and everyone's in a dither.  That would include me, I guess.  While the storm is supposed to make landfall well south of here, we'll be feeling some effects.  If one of those is the loss of electricity, it's not going to be pleasant.  We don't have a generator, so we'd lose a lot of food, and we'd be very hot and sweaty.  I also couldn't use the computer, not that  I'm addicted or anything.  

And you'll noticed that supposed is in italics up above.  Nothing is certain.  I'll keep you posted.

The Little Professor Reviews STEAMPUNK

Click here for the review.

Has the World Ended Yet . . .

. . . because of the large hadron collider? The answer is here.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Hunting season brings gunfire to quiet suburbs | Houston & Texas News | - Houston Chronicle: "DALLAS — Reports of gunfire bombarded 911 centers in the typically peaceful northern suburbs of Dallas last week.

The shots rang in the start of hunting season — which, as many surprised North Texas families are learning, is legal in their rural cities under a 2005 state law."

The Days the World Didn't End

Apocalypse now? 30 days when the world didn't end -Times Online: "The beginning of the first serious experiments using CERN’s Large Hadron Collider this week has given rise to a welter of fanciful scare stories about the obliteration of the Earth by a pocket black hole or a cascade reaction of exotic particles. Similar predictions have been made around the launch of several other particle physics experiments and even the first atomic weapons tests.

Predictions of the world’s end are nothing new though. We’ve picked out 30 of the most memorable apocalypses that never, for one reason or another, quite happened."

Does No One Understand about Subject/Verb Agreement These Days?

Memories of killer 1900 storm haunts Galveston ahead of Ike: "Residents here on Tuesday warily followed the progress of Hurricane Ike -- currently tearing through the Caribbean on a path to the Texas coastline -- mindful of the anniversary this month of a storm that devastated the island city in 1900."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

At Best Buy, Marketing Goes Micro: "Best Buy (BBY) store No. 952 is in Baytown, Tex., set amid the cul-de-sac subdivisions and big-box strip malls of Houston's metropolitan sprawl. In Best Buy's nomenclature, Baytown is a 'Middle America' location, tailoring its pitch to value-conscious family folks.

Lately, however, the employees at this store have noticed a different stripe of shopper: Eastern European workers from cargo ships or oil tankers, temporarily docked at Baytown's busy port, are spending their precious shore hours scouring the store's aisles. They take a 15-minute cab or shuttle ride to stock up on iPods and Apple (AAPL) laptops priced cheaper than back home. To speed their shopping, the Baytown Best Buy has moved the iPods from the back corner of the store to the front, paired them with overseas power converters, and simplified the signage. Since the changes were made over the holidays, cash register receipts for the boat workers have ballooned by 67%."

Link via Mike McGruff.

Short Course on The Theban Trilogy

Like Ross Macdonald, I've always thought of Oedipus as one of the first and greatest detective stories. The Theban Trilogy: "Almost 2,500 years ago, when there were few books to read and a fast-expanding population of the curious, an Athenian playwright dramatized three big questions in three great tragedies.

Where do I come from? How do I prepare for my death? What should I obey?"

I Was Going to Buy Some B12 Pills at the Store, but I Forgot

BBC NEWS | Health | Vitamin 'may prevent memory loss': "A vitamin found in meat, fish and milk may help stave off memory loss in old age, a study has suggested.

Older people with lower than average vitamin B12 levels were more than six times more likely to experience brain shrinkage, researchers concluded."

Gator Update (Sneaky Edition)

Paris Hilton Update

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

iWon News - Paris doc shows confessional side of Hilton: "TORONTO (AP) - One clear fan of a new Paris Hilton documentary has a familiar name: Paris Hilton.

As she left the theater where 'Paris, Not France' premiered Tuesday night at the Toronto International Film Festival, Hilton gave a few claps of applause after director Adria Petty was announced for a question-and-answer session to discuss the documentary.

With close access to Hilton, Petty shot extensive footage of Hilton talking about her image, her notorious sex tape, the tabloid photographers who follow her and just the business of being herself.

'I'm basically being judged, and they're creating this false person, and I can't do anything about it,' Hilton says in the film."

Gator Update

I'm sure I blogged about this guy's original arrest, but I'm too lazy to look for the post.  I live in Brazoria County, where the first offense occurred.

No tiger in his tank, but about that alligator ... - Oak Ridge, TN - The Oak Ridger: "OAK RIDGE, Tenn. —
Oak Ridge Police Officer Lewis Ridenour has sent out an internal-department memo giving his fellow officers a heads-up regarding an arrest he has made.
[. . . .]

Turns out that when a state trooper in Brazoria County, Texas, pulled over Johnson's car for a traffic offense, he saw a six-foot 'gator in the back seat. According to Texas news articles, the alligator was crawling around in the car, its mouth was not taped, and it was not bound. And that's only the half of it."

Operation Kid Brother

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Gregory Mcdonald, R. I. P.

Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind: Gregory McDonald, R.I.P.: "Gregory McDonald, best known as the author of the FLETCH novels, died on September 7 in Giles County, TN. He was 71. Edward Champion confirmed the news tonight with the Giles County Ambulance Service."

Mcdonald was a guest at the first Bouchercon I attended in Washington, D. C., back in 1980.  The first two Fletch books had a big impact on me.  I'd never read anything quite like them.  I thought the later novels in the series not as good, but that might have been just me.  I also liked the Flynn novels that came a long a bit later, as well as a couple of others.  I'm sorry to hear that Mcdonald is gone.

Croc Update (Flat Dogs Edition)

Guard crocs on duty - Local News - Cairns, QLD, Australia: "GUARD crocodiles may be the answer for a reptile farm almost at snapping point after the repeated theft of valuable skins and skulls. 

The move to put the 'flat dogs' on patrol at night comes after a spate of crocodile skin and artefact burglaries from the Daintree to Gordonvale.

Cairns Crocodile Farm is considering the extreme measure after three recent break-ins where 1m long stuffed skull from a 6m croc, two expensive skins, about a dozen skulls, a stuffed 1.5m croc, leather handbags and computer equipment has been stolen in the past month."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

San Antonio missions may join Grand Canyon, pyramids on world heritage list |
News for Dallas, Texas | Dallas Morning News
| Latest News
: "SAN ANTONIO – The Grand Canyon is on the list. So are Stonehenge and the pyramids at Giza.

Soon, San Antonio hopes to add its five 18th-century Spanish missions – including the Alamo – to UNESCO's list of world heritage sites.

This year, the missions were added to the World Heritage Centre's 'tentative list' from the United States for possible addition to the 878 properties worldwide that the Paris-based U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization says form 'the global cultural and natural heritage that have universal value.'"

These Guys are Almost as Good as Sheriff Rhodes - AM 1420 WEMB: "UC Sheriff Kent Harris and Deputy Frank Rogers have charged a South Carolina man for transporting 29 cases of 'moonshine' into Unicoi County. Shown on in the back of the pickup truck stopped at mile-marker 55, Sheriff Harris displays the `shine which he says was flavored with peach, grape, strawberry and blackberry."

20 Greatest Sci-Fi TV Shows

At least according to Entertainment Weekly.

At Least He'd be a Cheap Date

Fond du Lac man downs 23,000 Big Macs since 1972 | | Fond du Lac Reporter: "FOND DU LAC, Wis. (AP) — A 54-year-old Fond du Lac man says his obsessive-compulsive disorder drove him to eat 23,000 Big Macs in 36 years.

Fifty-four-year-old Don Gorske says he hit the milestone last month, continuing a pleasurable obsession that began May 17, 1972 when he got his first car."

Hat tip to Doc Quatermass.

How Robert A. Heinlein Dealt with his Fan Mail

I don't have this problem, but I like Heinlein's solution

Link via Boing Boing.

One Small Step for a Publisher . . .

Mills and Boon bodice rippers get naughty with new porn titles
| Mail Online
: "Mills and Boon, publisher of best-selling, bodice-ripping romances, is to publish its first pornographic book.

Its racy new range of Spice titles, already on sale in America, will feature 'sex for enjoyment' and even include bondage and threesomes."

Mouse Update

Bronze Age mouse offers clues to royal shipwreck - life - 04 September 2008 - New Scientist: "REMAINS of a long dead house mouse have been found in the wreck of a Bronze Age royal ship. That makes it the earliest rodent stowaway ever recorded, and proof of how house mice spread around the world.

Archaeologist Thomas Cucchi of the University of Durham, UK, identified a fragment of a mouse jaw in sediment from a ship that sank 3500 years ago off the coast of Turkey."

Sunrise in Alvin (9/6/08)

Gator (or Possibly Croc) Update (Mistaken Identity Edition)

Local News: Family Catches Six Foot Lizard in Yard | lizard, family, foot :: "It was a Labor Day the Nelson family probably won't forget; an evening outside with the kids that turned frightening when a 6-foot lizard showed up in their Grants Pass home.

It started when Ryan Nelson, the father, went to bring his young kids in for a bath. On the way back into the house he caught something moving out of the corner of his eye.

'I heard a noise. I thought it was cats at first. And I looked and it's a-what I thought was-an alligator at first,' says Nelson."

Or maybe not:
Man Finds, Captures Six-Foot Lizard: "A man has discovered a six-foot long lizard in his backyard in Grants Pass, Oregon. The man, Ryan Nelson, said he thought at first that the Nile monitor lizard was a crocodile. The Nile monitor has the ability to kill pets and cause human injury."

Back Door to Hell

You can read Juri Nummelin's post on this movie here.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Hitchcock's 50 Most Memorable Moments

Hitchcock's 50 most memorable moments - Times Online: "Sir Alfred Hitchcock never won an Oscar, but is generally accepted as the best British film director of all time. Here our film critics have a stab at choosing his 50 most memorable cinematic moments. Click highlighted text to watch video, and tell us if you agree at the foot of this article."

Top 10 TV Pilots

Lost, 24 and The Shield among the Top 10 TV pilots | Entertainment: "THEY say you never forget your first. The US TV Guide magazine's senior writer Damian Holbrook lists the Top 10 television pilots and the reasons why we will always remember them."

Paris Hilton Update (Paragon of Virtue Edition)

PARIS HILTON - HILTON: 'DON'T PICK ON THE JONAS BROTHERS': "[Paris] Hilton has become the latest celebrity to speak out on behalf of the pop trio [the Jonas Brothers] - insisting she totally supports the brothers' decision not to have sex before marriage.

She tells, 'Don't pick on them. That's (their virginity) something cool for a kid to keep, so don't pick on them for that.

'I think that they're all really good kids and that they're definitely our next generation of kids and they're all really good so I think that's awesome.'"

More Wedding Photos!

Just what you wanted to see!  For those who can't get enough of this sort of thing, click here.

How Long Has it Been Since You Had a Bacon-Infused Old-Fashoned?

Well, that's too long.  You can get the recipe for making one (and see an instructional video) here.

The 25 Funniest Videos on the Web

The 25 Funniest Videos on the Web : Rolling Stone : Rock and Roll Daily: "As a compendium to the current issue, presents the “25 Funniest Videos on the Web,” a collection of the most hilarious and outrageous Internet video creations currently available on this series of tubes. Click below for classics like “Fat Kid on a Rollercoaster,” “Dramatic Lemur” and of course, the above Bill O’Reilly freak out megamix."

Hat tip to Mike McGruff.

Back Home Again

The big wedding is over, and today Judy and I will take the Happy Couple to the airport for their return trip to San Francisco.  We're really going to miss them, of course, but the wedding was great and we'll have lots of good memories to consider until we see Angela and Tom again.

Eventually I'll have pictures, but for now you'll just have to imagine how nice things were.  

Listen to the Epigonion

Ancient Greece Musical Instrument Epigonion Heard Again Thanks To Astra Project | Technology | Sky News: "The sound of the Epigonion, a wooden string instrument similiar to a modern-day harp, has been recreated by ASTRA (Ancient instruments Sound/Timbre Reconstruction Application) project.

The modelling process needs extreme amounts of computing power which means it would take about four hours for a computer to reproduce a sound lasting 30 seconds.

But through the use of high-spec technology ASTRA have produced a performance of one of the oldest known musical scores dating back to the Middle Ages."

Lake Placid 2

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Swan Peak -- James Lee Burke

When you read a novel by James Lee Burke, you can be sure that the writing will be eloquent, the plotting will be all over the map, and the narration will switch between first and third person. It switches a lot in Swan Peak, and I'll tell you why that bothers me. It makes me wonder who's telling the story. I have no problem accepting a novel narrated in first person, but when the switches some fast and furious, I ask myself what's going on. Is Dave Robicheaux telling the story? It seems clear that he knows all the things in those sections, but there's simply no possible way he could know the things we're told in the third-person parts, not unless he's become omniscient. This probably doesn't bother anybody else, but it does bother me, and it has since Burke began doing it. Why doesn't he just switch to third person for the whole book?

In Swan Peak, Robicheaux, his wife, Molly, and Clete Purcel are in Montana on vacation. They don't get much R&R, as they're soon involved with multiple murders, people from their pasts (surprising how many of them turn up in Montana), TV preachers, escaped convicts, vengeful prison guards, and all kinds of things too numerous to mention. The book's long (400 pages), and there's a lot going on. Lots of violence, and plenty of Robicheaux's ruminations on the life he and Clete lead. It's all tied up in the end, I guess. I sort of lost track. Fine descriptive writing, as always. If you like Burke, you'll like this one. I don't know if it would be a good starting place for someone reading him for the first time, though.

Daredevils of the Red Circle (A Classic Reprint)

OK, here's the set-up for this highly regarded Republic serial: An escaped convict named Harry Crowel (he prefers to be called by his prison number, 39013, pronounced Thirty-nine-Oh-thirteen) sets out to ruin Horace Granville (Miles Mander) by destroying all his holdings and properties. Charles (Ming the Merciless) Middleton plays 39013, who, by wearing a really good mask is posing as Granville.

The real Granville is being held captive in a prison cell in the basement of his own home, and the cell is an exact replica of the one 39013 was in when he was imprisoned. Don't ask me how 39013 was able to build this cell in Granvilles basement or how he was able to honeycomb the house with secret passages without anybody knowing. He just did it, the same way he arranged to have the garage fitted out with pipes that pump poison gas.

No one suspects the impersonation because 39013 never lets anyone near him. Granville has supposedly had a stroke, so 39013, taking advantage of Granville's supposedly weakened condition, can meet people only if they are separated from him by a glass wall. He speaks to them over a microphone. 39013 of course looks and sounds just like Granville, and he never slips up because, as he tells Granville, as long as he wears the mask he speaks in Granville's voice. When he removes the mask, he looks and sounds just like Charles Middleton.

I should also mention that down in the basement with the cell there's a Rube Goldberg device on which glass balls filled with poison gas are balanced. If 39013 doesn't return to the room regularly and refill the counter-balancing bottle with water, the balls will fall to the floor and break, killing Granville with the deadly gas.

So much for the set-up. One of the first properties that 39013 destroys is the Granville Amusement Center (Granville owns a little of everything, including a radium mine, which apparently is pretty much like a gold mine). The fire that consumes the amusement center takes the life of the younger brother of Gene Townley (Charles Quigley), one of the Daredevils. Townley and the other two daredevils, Tiny Dawson (Bruce Bennett, aka Herman Brix) and Bert Knowles (David Sharpe), sign on with Granville (in reality, 39013) to put a stop to 39013's depredations. The escaped con hires them so as not to arouse suspicion. Then, of course, he immediately sets out to get rid of them, and we're off to the races.

But let's stop for a moment to talk about Bruce Bennett. He was an Olympic shot-putter, and as Herman Brix, he starred in one of my favorite serials, Hawk of the Wilderness. After he got tired of the athletic roles, he took acting lessons, became Bennett, and had a long career in movies, including a role in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. According to the IMDb, he's still alive. If that's true, he'd be 99 years old.

David Sharpe was a U.S. tumbling champion who started out in movies in 1923. He did mostly stunt work, but he was one of the Rangebusters in that Monogram series. He was the stunt double for just about everybody in Hollywood at one time or another. His last credit was as a stunt driver in 1978. Fifty-five years isn't a bad career in any field.

Charles Middleton will always be Ming the Merciless to many of us. It's sad to look at his career as outlined on the IMDb and see all the "uncredited" parts he took, or, even sadder, the movies that say "scenes deleted." But he managed to hang around for a long time.

Carole Landis is one of the sad stories of Hollywood. She was beautiful, and she could act, but she never really got much of a chance. She was only about 19 or 20 when she made this serial, and ten years later she was dead of an overdose of sleeping pills. She could have livened up the serial considerably, but she's barely used at all.

Miles Mander, as all you fans of Philip Marlowe will recall, played Mr. Grayle in Murder, My Sweet.

Charles Quigley didn't do much of note either before or after this serial. Unless you want to count a minor role in Mexican Spitfire Out West.

The butler, Snowflake, is played by Fred "Snowflake" Toones, who played the same Stepin Fetchit type of character in tons of movies for 20 years. He was often uncredited and often billed as Snowflake. You can imagine the kind of humor he was involved in.

And now back to our story. Oh, what the heck. You know the story. 39013 plots to destroy stuff, and the Daredevils foil the plots. There's a fistfight in every episode, of course, with lots of climbing around gas plants, electric plants, and oil rigs. David Sharpe does some tumbling stuff in most of the fights. The cliffhangers are OK, with the one in the first chapter being the most memorable. It has Quigley racing through a tunnel only yards in front of a wall of water that seems certain to overtake him.

The weakness are those of most serials. Like, why did 39013 put that gas pipe in the garage in the first place? And, when the Daredevils investigate, why does someone say, "That valve comes from the gas plant down the road. Let's go there an check it out," instead of, "Why don't we trace that pipe and see where it goes?" (Because if they'd done that, of course, they'd have found the tunnels, which would have led them to 39013 and ended the serial.)

And of course anybody over the age of five will figure out the identity of the mysterious figure who's helping out the Daredevils, though I defy anyone of any age to figure out how the MF is getting the information that's passed along.

Then there's Chapter 11, a total cheat, since it's nothing but padding to make the whole thing 12 chapters long. All Chapter 11 does is repeat scenes from earlier episodes. But that's why remotes have the "fast forward" feature.

The good stuff? Well, the score is a dandy, the stunts are good, the fistfights are well-choreographed, and all three leads seem to be having a good time. I wouldn't put this one in the same class with some of my favorites, like Captain Marvel and all the Rocketman serials, but it's still worth watching. I'd give it three stars.

The AFI Top 100 Movies... In 5 Words Each

The AFI Top 100 Movies... In 5 Words Each - The Movie Community: "Because the only way to truly enjoy cinema classics is to reduce them to hollow shells of what they used to be.

The rules are simple: 5 words each, no more, no less. Think of them as 'movie captions.'

Be forewarned, some SPOILERS lie ahead:"

Another Happy Couple 9/6/08

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Lake Placid