The SFFaudio Podcast #539 – READALONG: The Curse Of Capistrano by Johnston McCulley

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #539 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Maissa Bessada, and Julie Davis talk about The Curse Of Capistrano by Johnston McCulley

Talked about on today’s show:
All-Story Weekly, August 9 – September 6, 1919, a little too familiar with it, Bruce Wayne’s parent’s murder in Crime Alley, Batman’s origin story, Joe Chill, Zorro, like the gospels, apocryphal, the 1940s Batman, The Mark Of Zorro (1920), Gotham, Christian Bale, The Mark Of Zorro (1940), Tyrone Power, what a man!, oh I know this one, a revelation, I hate you now, Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., such a good movie, twisting his own arm, silent movies, mouthing at each other, dubbing, lip reading, the year after the serial, identical plot, the action sequences are so good, Antonio Banderas, The Mask Of Zorro (1998), all the movie beats, one of those translation things, Don Diego Vega, a foppy guy, really into slight of hand, something that’s stuck with every subsequent production, The Disney, the 1974 TV movie remake using the same script and music, Frank Langella as Zorro, a strange choice, a board on the back of her head, visualizing the text, the beginning, middle, and end of his character, this handkerchief is turned into a flower, have you seen this one?, finger curlicues to show excitement about this kiss, the first United Artists movie, Star Wars (1977), Jaws (1975), a half mask like Batman, Zorro is the spot in between everything that came before and superheroes as we know them, Who was America’s first superhero, Tornado is the Batmobile, the dynamic duo, Alfred, a dual identity, The Scarlet Pimpernel, adventures in America, Americans can eat it up, California, westerns, I’m earning a living so I’m writing it all, he wrote lots of pulp, the elements, better than a western, help the poor, the beautiful woman, choose her own path, 1909, supposed to be a surprise, you were spoiled for it, the text doesn’t tell you, the reveal here is at the end, at what point does it become clear, four minutes later, a physical face to look at, the powers of Batman, an acrobat, jumping and swinging, in real life you have to wear a full mask, Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde, no one will want to read it if it is spoiled, retconned right away, he captured lighting in a bottle and people want more lightning, like heaven on Earth, his secret lair, not a Batcave it’s a Foxcave, every superhero who is not superman, Bruce Banner, angry guy, he’s always angry, an issue with both, Zorro is the good guy because he’s fighting an unjust government, Batman’s doing the government’s job for them, a folk hero, being mean to the natives, when don’s have their taxes raised to high, Batman’s psychology, crazy criminals, a child of The Scarlet Pimpernel, unjust to the rich people, his posse is the sons of the dons, the families being oppressed, the focus around the family, the good aristocrat being oppressed by the government, the government is completely corrupt, Zorro as a libertarian hero?, an Ayn Randian hero, oh god!, the servant is both deaf and dumb, the Disney version he’s mute (not deaf), he’s everywhere, indio?, interesting to think about, pre-1849 California, the placenames and the missions, what’s the population?, fighting for justice, it’s all about blood, blood is everywhere, 1820 or so, blood x 79, 1,300 people, after the gold-rush, Julie’s read historical fiction, a backwater of Mexico, right across the street from the tavern, a phrase that was used in the period, WWI, writers read stuff, 1920s magazines, what decade based on the ads, fads that rise and fall, the 19teens and 1920s, eugenics theory, standard straight up racism, I’d rather marry a native than marry you, an insult, here’s how low I’ll go, badly OCR’d, the natives are on the bottom, less and less emphasized, you are of excellent blood, of the best blood in the land, class structure, a Vega when he takes a mate, woman-trading, some choice in the matter, historically accurate, its not super-super-clear what he is at first, he’s a robber, Zorro is already known, he’s already a legend, I was fifteen I saw something bad happen, two different aspects, Batman doesn’t rob the robbers, he’s Robin Hood at that point, a redistributor of wealth, Jesse James, Billy The Kid, Bonnie and Clyde, sticking it to the man, if he weren’t a fictional character, we’ve been trained by reality, killing people, Batman doesn’t kill, Zed not Zee, Zedero, Sgt. Gonzales, Captain Ramos, you’re not who I thought you were, a comedy relationship, Commissioner Gordon, he’s worse than the governor, sir leave this house right now, where not to me, quasi-rapist, he deserved his fate, he bought him his drinks, Sgt. Schultz is the same character, Hogan’s Heroes, a send-up of Stalag 17, The Great Escape, Escape From Sobibor, subverting the Nazis by staying in the camp, TV crossover, how does the timeline work?, the ridiculousness of Batman, most of the good super-hero writers have to avoid that sort of thing, zipping people, Catherine Zeta-Jones, its a cartoon, you can’t take Batman super-seriously, Arkham Asylum, Watchmen [and The Boys], The Prisoner Of Zenda by Anthony Hope, the plot of Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein, very funny, a tense line between serious and comedic, The Mask Of Zorro is a rebooting, Zorro makes a mockery of the soldiers, in the book he has a pistol, Sgt. Gonzales is a blustering fool of a character, physically comedic, a comic figure, he threatens death to people all day long, derailed for six months, my beautiful soul what have I done to it?, added to and polished up, suddenly he’s an 1820 superhero, Pirate Batman, The Lego Batman Movie (2017), he’s Robin Hood, reality is not as it is, formulating a plan, right from the start, he got his superpowers in the army, Captain America, romance, a ladies’ man, he’s the man all women want, he’s Tyrone Power and he knows it, the audio drama, Val Kilmer, Armin Shimmerman was terrific, Stefan Rudnicki, Dying Inside, he’s the Friar Tuck character, the same role, the Frey gets his licks in, serialized stories, they’re in Spanish California, he hides Maid Marian, a three hour audio drama for a six hour book, the framing, you’re buying drink, you want to know about Zorro?, at the end, Val Kilmer is about to reveal his identity, that’s another story, the change that had to happen, superheroes are not one offs they are continuous, the whole writing problem, writing for series, every book after that his identity is secret, Superman has a different origin, Captain America is an interesting case, recruiting and selling warbonds, all the things they did to recruit people for WWI and sell war bonds, pickle-helmet, a captured u-boat you could tour in Central Park during WWI, except for Dr Manhattan, masked vigilantes, Night Owl sits in his lair all day, kinda sad, the fundamental concept, they’re making fun of it, a very fine line, no the Batman you know, the 1989 reboot, where does he get those wonderful toys, Val Kilmer, Michael Keaton, nipples for George Clooney’s Batman, Holy rusted metal, Batman!, I’m walking out of the theater, there’s no winking, he’s not super-handsome, he did the adaptation, Robert Pattinson, a different way of running things, I’m gonna go practice my swordsmanship, reveling in that, this is a MOVIE!, Elevated short film, Vincenzo Natali, Cube (1997), set in an elevator, a student film, there’s something outside the elevator, when you make it a feature, most people read novels, once you get into that novel thing you sort of want more, the mask and the slight of hand stuff, this is why people get excited about film and making movies, cute and interesting, its not Zorro, a red flower, Zorro is a fox, the fox personality, Lady Zorro, Queen Of Swords, Jack Of All Trades, all so good, all died too soon, Bruce Campbell, the perfect combination of humour and physicality, that swagger, The Mask Of Zorro (1998), training scenes with Anthony Hopkins, the head in the jar, how many Zorro products there are, comics, the Disney colourized TV series looks terrible, Guy Williams, very Disney, the sidekick, his version of sign-language, sound effects, heavily music’d, a half-hour format, a cartoon, well done, Desilu, The Wild Wild West, it became a good show, Robert Conrad, you gotta see the show, there’s a fine line between ridiculous and perfect, they went the other way, all these things you see as a ridiculous, a subversive reading, is Batman just crazy and he’s the one in Arkham Asylum?, a spy-show and a western show merged together, you like James Bond and you like Westerns, this is that, so villainous, that Batman element pulled-back a little bit, a few gadgets, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Get Smart, the bumbling character, The Avengers, Diana Rigg, so quirky, its not romantic but its not not-romantic, Mrs. Peel, the ridiculous stuff but in a serious way, Moonlighting, they broke the formula, he stumbled into something, perfectly serviceable entertainment for 1920, the Zorro Legion, all the dons put on masks, I’m Spartacus, the opening of The Mask Of Zorro, I’m ZORRO!, Batman comics in the 1970s, they have to work through all these ideas, better in the original, a ridiculous little coda, the self-made, the little boy’s dream, the right age for it, he held onto it and perfected it, B.J. , Meal mush and goatsmilk!, sounds like breakfast, an interstellar version of Zorro, planetary romance, A Princess Of Mars, feels very open and similar, so imagination, what are the possibility around every corner, The Pirates Of Ersatz, dual identity, back to my birth-planet, how could people have missed that opportunity, the same ending (its over), I stared a series, a retcon, a tiny little infodump at the end of the book, the Frailes (Franciscans), I pretended to have a small interest in life, horsemanship, in secret, go to Tibet and study with ninjas, that’s a prequel, San Juan Capistrano, in the middle and the end of his story, designed to be a reveal, all will be revealed, this is a mystery, give us another mystery!, deliberately cruel, the whole thing was a big wink, about expectations, the reader is rewarded for the knowledge that they already had, what’s in this chapter, what’s going to come next, spoiler soapbox, go back to favourite chapters, chapter titles as a guides, The Lord Of The Rings, children’s books, a preview, an affectation, a movie about a book being read to a kid, Dread Pirate Roberts, playing with the tension between, why Deadpool is such a great character, Fred Savage, Wilfred Brimley, Misery, when you’re reading Prisoner Of Zenda you’re taken away with a wink wink, in our post modern era, go look at Shakespeare, breaking the fourth wall all day long, a bunch of tropes and ridiculousness, that perfect path between the ridiculous and what we want from a story, story solving problems, doing all that work for Jesse, The Princess Bride is Zorro, essentially, the same spirit, Julie will allow it, if Julie were Jesse’s judge, would Paul be legalistic, when somebody lies people gets really upset, seems reasonable, repentance is important, a kind of conservationism, strict father conservatism, a gut reaction, don’t fritter away your money, do you’re research, I don’t really care about the details, a narrow escape, nope, none of that, wait I can explain, exactly, where’s my gavel, there’s a podcast there, hot takes, duly noted, Canadaland, a podcast format, we don’t have time to do all of it, what’s really important, this is an interesting story, nope not having any, half-price bookstore, Jenny Colvin’s speed dating with books, she’s reading books about every country in Asia, the Hmong, extra time, she’s just a reading machine, help with the curse, Alta California, Baja California, a poor choice, a Hmong movie, endogamous, hmoung the highest, Saint Paul, Minnesota, the Ethiopian population of Minneapolis, Toronto, Gran Turino (2008), Captain Phillips (2013), bitter flavours, we’re done.

The Mark Of Zorro - adapted by Yuri Rasovsky

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #538 – AUDIOBOOK: The Curse Of Capistrano by Johnston McCulley

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #538 – The Curse Of Capistrano by Johnston McCulley, read by Barry Eads.

This UNABRIDGED AUDIOBOOK (6 hours 22 minutes) comes to us courtesy of LibriVox. The Curse Of Capistrano was first serialized in 1919.

The next SFFaudio Podcast will feature our discussion of it!

All-Story Weekly, August 9, 1919 -The Curse Of Capistrano by Johnston McCulley

Posted by Jesse Willis

LibriVox: The Black Star by Johnston McCulley

Aural Noir: Online Audio

LibriVoxToday Johnston McCulley is probably best known as the creator of Zorro. But in his own day McCulley had several success in pulp fiction. The Black Star was among his first repeating characters – the titular character being a masked burglar with a massive ego and a five pointed signautre.

Proof listener “Betty M.” says that the titular Black Star reminds her of “the Scarlet Pimpernel, only the Black Star is a scoundrel” – after listening to the first chapter he sounds like a demented supervillain to me – he breaks-in to private residences and pastes black stars all over people’s headboards and dressing tables!!?!?!

The Wikipedia entry on Black Star describes him thusly:

Black Star was what was once termed a “gentleman criminal”, in that he does not commit murder, nor does he permit any of his gang to kill anyone, not even the police or his arch enemy Roger Verbeck. He does not threaten women, always keeps his word, and is invariably courteous, nor does he deal with narcotics in any of his stories. He is always seen in a black cloak and a black hood on which is embossed a jet black star. The Black Star and his gang used “vapor bombs” and “vapor guns” which rendered their victims instantly unconscious, a technique which pre-dated the Green Hornet’s gas gun by several decades.

That still sounds a lot more Lex Luthor, than Raffles, to me.

LIBRIVOX - The Black Star by Johnston McCulleyThe Black Star
By Johnston McCulley; Read by Roger Melin
36 Zipped MP3 Files or Podcast – Approx. 8 Hours 7 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: May 17, 2011
The Black Star was a master criminal who took great care to never be identifiable, always wore a mask so nobody knew what he looked like, rarely spoke to keep his voice from being recognized, and the only mark left at the scenes of the crimes which he and his gang committed were small black stars which were tacked as a sign of their presence, and an occasional sarcastic note to signify his presence and responsibility. Even those who worked for him knew nothing of him, all of which were making his crimes virtually unsolvable. The police were at a complete loss as to his identity and at a method of stopping his criminal activities. He seemed to have the perfect strategic setup and all advantages were in his favor. He even somehow knew where the wealthy kept their jewels and money, and knew when they would remove valuable items from their safes and deposit boxes. Thus Roger Verbeck decided to take on the case of the Black Star using his own methodology. The Black Star will keep you guessing from beginning to end, just as he kept the police and Verbeck guessing.

Podcast feed: http://librivox.org/rss/5440

iTunes 1-Click |SUBSCRIBE|

[Thanks also to Betty M. and David Lawrence]

Posted by Jesse Willis

LibiVox: The Curse Of Capistrano by Johnston McCulley

SFFaudio Online Audio

LibriVoxHere’s Zorro in his fabulous first novel! It’s got short, exciting chapters and features an effeminate Don Diego de la Vega (that’s Zorro’s secret alter ego) in his very first adventure! Narrator Barry Eads throws every voice he’s got at the book, and you know what? It works pretty well!

Never having read any of the Zorro books before, I was surprised to see exactly how oddly faithful George Hamilton’s version of Zorro was to the original material!

LibiVox - The Curse Of Capistrano by Johnston McCulleyThe Curse Of Capistrano (#1 in the Zorro series)
By Johnston McCulley; Read by Barry Eads
39 Zipped MP3 Files or Podcast – Approx. 6 Hours 30 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: September 1, 2010
The Curse of Capistrano by Johnston McCulley is the first work to feature the fictional character Zorro (zorro is the Spanish word for fox). The story was later republished under the name The Mark of Zorro. Senor Zorro is deemed an outlaw as he fights those in authority while seeking justice for the oppressed. He also woos and captures the heart of the lovely Senorita Lolita, but her father would see her married to the rich Don Diego Vega. Meanwhile, the ever persistent Sgt. Gonzales is closing in on our lovers and would means to see the end of Senor Zorro. Originally serialized in All-Story Weekly in 1919 and was later published, in 1924, under the title The Mark Of Zorro.

Podcast feed: http://librivox.org/rss/3630

iTunes 1-Click |SUBSCRIBE|

[Thanks also to Elli; Joy Easton]

Posted by Jesse Willis