The Return of Tarzan – Edgar Rice Burroughs (repost)

The one where the hero fights a crocodile, the damsel takes over the ship at gunpoint, and the cook dies a hero.

Tarzan’s infant son, Jack, is kidnapped by his nemesis, Rokoff the Russian. Rokoff’s plan is to take Jack to the primordial vastnesses of Darkest Africa and give him to the cannibal tribes–not to kill, but to raise as their own in his own twisted evolutionary programme for the Greystoke family. The father an ape–the son a cannibal. Rokoff does even better than he thought he would, because with baby Jack as bait, he manages to capture both Tarzan and Jane (separately). Tarzan he maroons on an uninhabited island, Jane he keeps–for himself.

But! The uninhabited island is home to a tribe of Mangani, of whom Tarzan soon becomes leader and escapes to the mainland. But! Jane gains the sympathy and help of the cook and escapes to the mainland….But a variety of twists and turns (and crocodiles) keep them from actually finding each other until the very last chapter.

(Burroughs was an expert at maddeningly delaying reader gratification with headlong coincidences, random twists, and crocodiles.)

Will Tarzan go down beneath the clubs and spears of the frenzied cannibal horde? Will he live to save his child and his wife? Will Jane escape the clutches of Rokoff and reach safety with her baby? Will Rokoff live to twirl his moustache another day?

You already know the answer…

Poetry Corner – The Only Son

She dropped the bar, she shot the bolt, she fed the fire anew
For she heard a whimper under the sill and a great grey paw came through.
The fresh flame comforted the hut and shone on the roof-beam,
And the Only Son lay down again and dreamed that he dreamed a dream.
The last ash fell from the withered log with the click of a falling spark,
And the Only Son woke up again, and called across the dark:–
“Now was I born of womankind and laid in a mother’s breast?
For I have dreamed of a shaggy hide whereon I went to rest.
And was I born of womankind and laid on a father’s arm?
For I have dreamed of clashing teeth that guarded me from harm.

And was I born an Only Son and did I play alone?
For I have dreamed of comrades twain that bit me to the bone.
And did I break the barley-cake and steep it in the tyre?
For I have dreamed of a youngling kid new-riven from the byre:
For I have dreamed of a midnight sky and a midnight call to blood
And red-mouthed shadows racing by, that thrust me from my food.
‘Tis an hour yet and an hour yet to the rising of the moon,
But I can see the black roof-tree as plain as it were noon.
‘Tis a league and a league to the Lena Falls where the trooping blackbuck go;
But I can hear the little fawn that bleats behind the doe.

‘Tis a league and a league to the Lena Falls where the crop and the upland meet,
But I Can smell the wet dawn-wind that wakes the sprouting wheat.
Unbar the door. I may not bide, but I must out and see
If those are wolves that wait outside or my own kin to me!”
. . . . .
She loosed the bar, she slid the bolt, she opened the door anon,
And a grey bitch-wolf came out of the dark and fawned on the Only Son!

Kipling

ALERT ALERT ALERT

51xnzpjxohlNowither, the second volume in John C. Wright’s The Unwithering Realm is available at Amazon. Callooh, Callay!

The story of Ilya Muromets, who, PREVIOUSLY, had: discovered that his father was a secret Vatican ninja cleric-assassin, that his mother was High Queen of a distant dimension, possibly imprisoned by enemies, that he was actually adopted and is of a race of unkillable immortals, that Earth is being invaded by homicidal, genocidal conquerors from the dimension where the Tower of Babel never fell and the stars determine the fates of men; and that the girl he likes is actually an agent of the forces of good and maybe sorta kinda likes him back–continues.

If you have read any of Wright’s work, you may have noticed that he has certain…pet topics and themes. In Somewhither, whether by editorial assistance or the fact that he’s getting to be a better writer as time goes on, he keeps them under control. (Largely.) Somewhither is, as a consequence, really good. I consider it one of his best works, I am SUPER HYPED to read the sequel. (Somewhither won a Dragon Award, by the way: it was one of the few books that actually deserved the recognition.)

So, you should, buy it, read it, enjoy it. Support a good guy, pet a puppy, salute a dragon.

Booty. The Very Best Booty.

Sherlock Holmes: the Complete Novels and Stories – Arthur Conan Doyle
Orion Shall Rise – Poul Anderson
The Fountainhead – Ayn Rand (Aka, You People Need Therapy: The Novel)
The Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas (unabridged, this time)
The Witches of Karres – James H. Schmitz
Star Born – Andre Norton
Shadow Hawk – Andre Norton
The Mote in God’s Eye – Niven & Pournelle
Tactics of Mistake – Gordon R. Dickson
Escape Velocity – Christopher Stasheff
Dune Messiah – Frank Herbert
Beyond Another Sun – Tom Godwin
Tarzan of the Apes – Edgar Rice Burroughs (I am a simple fan. I see Tarzan, I buy. I do not, however, buy more than one at a time: Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar remained in the Vintage Pulp section, along with the mouthwatering shelf of vintage ANALOG issues.)
Soldier, Ask Not – Gordon R. Dickson
Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

And, for the Princess of Barsoom:
Basil and the Lost Colony – by Eve Titus
The Wind and the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
The Story of George Washington Carver
At Her Majesty’s Request –  An African Princess in Victorian Britain
It’s going to be a while before she’s ready to read them. But they’ll be waiting for her until she is.

Disappointing Watchlist

Tarzan’s Hidden Jungle
Scene: comely young nurse goes swimming, in the buff. Cheeta has stolen her clothes and towel. Tarzan walks up, all Tarzany and also incredibly buff.

Girl: “…. …. ….HELP.”
Tarzan: “GIRL IN TROUBLE?”
Girl: “Big trouble!”
Tarzan: “I help!”
Girl: “NO!”

Heh.

Unfortunately, the rest of the movie fails to achieve its full potential moronic charm.

So there’s an evil group of poachers who have a contract for one million billion tons of antelope skins, rhino horns, chimpanzee brains, tiger testicles, and baby elephant oil. (Oil made from baby elephants, that is. Not the All-Natural 100% Organic African Black Sap  Jungle Trunk and Tail Oil mama elephants apply to their babies [THIS ITEM AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE AT YOUR LOCAL WEALTHFOODSTORE. FULFILMENT VIA AMAZON. TWO-DAY SHIPPING MAY NOT BE AVAILABLE IN YOUR REGION. SIDE EFFECTS MAY INCLUDE REDNESS, ITCHING, VOODOO DEATH, OR HAIR LOSS. DISCONTINUE PRODUCT USE AND INFORM YOUR LOCAL WITCHDOCTOR IF SIDE EFFECTS OCCUR]). And they’re way behind schedule in getting them! Oh noes! And then a UN doctor who naturally also isn’t very smart, agrees to take the poacher gang with him (masquerading as photographers) into the untouched/sacred territory across the river. Oh noes! He must be warned!
(Tarzan, meanwhile, is busy with the very important business of fetching some important jungle medicine mud for a sick man). So off goes Nurse Jill, and promptly wrecks her UN-issue car. DUH LADY. It’s probably not even 4WD. (Nurse Missie Jill is also incredibly inept, although I will concede that being chased into quicksand by a giant python could happen to anyone). Anyhow, once rescued, she needs to be taken along because there isn’t enough time to take her back and warn Doc. So off they go.
(The tribal chief’s girlfriend/wife has quite the fetching off-the-shoulder ensemble with a bold and ultramodern zebra pattern bodice. v. chic, I must say.) And at about that point I got bored, so I’m not entirely sure how Doc and Missie Miss get thrown into the lion pit (oh noes!), but suffice it to say that Tarzan saves the day…..by grabbing a spear and jumping into the pit, too. And then…yelling at the lions to go away. Sooooo….Numa speaks Swahili?

So, yes, I would have a problem with this movie even if it wasn’t called “Tarzan.” It does not have an actual Tarzan–Lord Greystoke, John Clayton, the Mighty, Killer of Apes and Men, Lord of the Jungle–in it. It’s got a monosyllabic guy in a loincloth who is way overattached to baby elephants and chimpanzees and can occasionally manage to manhandle a couple of overweight shikaris or African “boys”. That’s to be expected. Even the very best Tarzan movies (Tarzan’s Greatest Adventure, Tarzan the Magnificent, don’t really have Edgar Rice Burroughs’ characters in them. Don’t get me started on the modern ones. Just…don’t.)

But why on Earth would I have a problem with something meant to be simple, mindless entertainment? Well, because the best mindless entertainment is simple, but not dumb. There should be actual characters; there should be motives. There should be plot; there should be complications, there should be setbacks, and there should be victories. Also, there should be action. You don’t have to have romance (Cheeta gets more action than Tarzan does, post-quicksand synchronized swimming routines aside)–but you ought to have chemistry. There are a surprising number of zero-budget B-movie flicks which manage beyond all odds to have charm. (Duel of the Titans/Romulus et Remus, Sword of the Conqueror, Princess of the Nile, A Queen for Caesar…)
This movie is a) just dumb, b) really cheap.
And that’s okay.
….but it’s not great.

Rated: I was more amused by my own baby elephant oil joke than any other part of the movie.

Heart: a History – Sandeep Jauhar
(copied from my class notes)
– SO MANY DOGS! They’d never get away with that today! Is that a bad thing or a good thing? They made so many discoveries, but zero oversight. I’m not sure what the answer is. I’m for live animals not being experimented on if we can help it. But I’m also for people not dying. I dunno!
– Progress is made by the interested and motivated and slightly insane person who is in the right place, at the right time.
– Best course of action is to give people medicine and make their parts work properly. Even with pacemakers, defibrilator implants, continuous-flow hearts, the best thing sometimes is to just try to make people work properly.
– Continuously upgrading my cyborg body therefore isn’t an option, alas… (Alita: Battle Angel is unrealistic.)
– STUPID PEN WON’T WRITE
– So, I kinda default to literary criticism when I’m reading something that has an anecdotal component. Author wanted to work through his feelings about his family; he was trying to put everything into some sort of perspective after his mother died, and how some of his patients with defibrillators or pacemakers were praying that they would go quickly; while his mother died not of heart disease….very slowly and horribly. That’s legit. C. S. Lewis wrote an entire book as he was working through his feelings about his wife dying. This guy isn’t C.S. Lewis, but he does have things to say and think about.
– Problem: Author wanted to also write an entertaining and accessible book about the history of cardiac medicine.
– Author potentially wanted both parts of the book to pull together and form some kind of emotional and educational masterpiece, whereby people would be touched, edified, uplifted. Problem: he is nowhere near good enough to pull it off.

Rated: what do you mean, I only get ten points extra credit for this?

Watchlist

Upcoming once I have time to watch (i.e., not now):

The Highwaymen – 2019, Kevin Costner. I’ve been hearing a lot of buzz about this and got curious. My thoughts regarding Bonnie & Clyde are: learning their story makes them pathetic, rather than sympathetic (albeit some of those shootouts they survived…and initiated…were hardcore), and learning about Hamer just makes him more badass. We will see. The trailer was frankly annoying.

Tarzan and the Lost Safari – 1957, Gordon Scott. Gordon Scott is the best Tarzan, but this probably isn’t the best Tarzan movie. Oh well.

Readlist:

Heart: A History – Sandeep Jauhar. Also known as: Is Dr. W going to give us extra credit for this, because it’s nowhere near as interesting as she was hyping it up to be. I’m not sure whether it’s Jauhar dilutes any interesting information with sheerly irrelevant passages about his childhood, other medical personnel who don’t figure into any of the rest of the book, his personal health, and sundry other irrelevant anecdotes.–or whether the problem is me. Is it a problem that I would like a well-written and engrossing book?

Tarzan Tuesday

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Lex Barker had an interesting life off-screen too:

Enlisting in the US Army and rising to the rank of Major during WW2, and being wounded in action in Sicily,

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Acting in a wide range of genres, from film noir to thrillers to comedy and Westerns–to especial popularity in German-language Westerns, wow.

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Marrying five times, including once to Lana Turner.

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Barker lived fast, died at the age of 54, and hopefully left a good-looking corpse behind.