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Lyle Zapato

The Trail Of The Octopus

Lyle Zapato | 2011-01-20.5300 LMT | Retro | Cephalopods | Entertainment

The Trail of the Octopus (1919)

Here's the first reel of The Trail of the Octopus, a pulpy serial photoplay from 1919. Watch as Carter Holmes (Ben Wilson), master criminologist, and Ruth Stanhope (Neva Gerber), niece of Dr. Reid Stanhope, the discover of the Sacred Talisman of Set (a.k.a. the Devil's Trademark), are drawn inexorably into the clutches of a sinister land octopus (who sadly is only symbolic of the plot and makes no appearance outside of the intro and an advert where he grabs the whole cast):

The 15-part serial follows Holmes and Ruth as they must track down nine daggers that will unlock a rock vault in which Dr. Stanhope hid the Sacred Talisman, which they want to destroy to stop a shadowy conspiracy of cultists and racist stereotypes from attempting to kill Ruth. From a review:

The producers [at first can't] seem to decide on whom they wanted the main villain to be. First it's a group of devil worshipers and their female leader, then we find out she works for this other guy, then we find out he is an agent for this other Arabic bad guy who lives in "the orient." Well that guy in the orient actually works for yet another guy over in the orient, who is a Fu Manchu knockoff. Perhaps he really is the final leader of all the bad guys? There is also a mysterious masked man known as Monsieur X who pops up in the story every so often, but he's someone else completely. Whew!

Serial Squadron, who are in the process of transferring the films to DVD from the only known prints, have a project overview. You'll have to wait until Spring to buy the DVD set if you want to see the semi-complete serial (episode 9 is lost). Here are some posters for the episodes:

The Trail of the Octopus, episode 9 The Trail of the Octopus, episode 10 The Trail of the Octopus, episode 15

Lyle Zapato

The New 2012 Russian Aluminum Shielded Enclosures

Lyle Zapato | 2010-12-28.9660 LMT | Aluminum | Mind Control | Technology

Russia has always been less than secretive about mind control technology. Their president shows up to psychotron manufacturer trade-shows for photo-ops and here's a common protest one sees on the streets of Moscow:


2007-05-01 rally against the Russian government's use of Moscow
apartments as "psychotronic gulags" (more pics & info in Russian).

Given the apparent psychotronic state of housing in Russia, it's not surprising that many there are interested in Aluminum Shielded Enclosures (ASEs) that fit inside their homes and protect them from the government's piped-in mind-control. It's also not surprising that one Russian man hopes to get rich by selling them for $US 80,000 each:

As tempted as nouveau riche Muscovites might by to splurge on such an extravagant ASE, I would urge them to reconsider. As every paranoid knows, you shouldn't buy AFDBs pre-built since they could've been tampered with to make them susceptible to the creators' specially tuned signals. With ASEs it's no different.

For all we know, Mr. [Name-I-Can't-Quite-Make-Out] could be in league with Rasputnik Psychotron Works and he designed his "Doomsday Capsule" to be transparent to signals from their new Mark VIII pistol as part of a vendor lock-in scheme to get Medvedev to upgrade his arsenal as apartment dwellers become increasingly unreachable. (Mind you, I'm suggesting this only as a conspiracy theory, not a conspiracy fact. He could be an honest paranoid -- but one can't be too careful about these things.)

It's also suspicious that he never mentions the obviously anti-psychotronic purpose of his product, instead focusing on geological and meteorological upheavals many assume will coincide with the 2012 arrival of the periodical Quetzalcoatlus armada. Or maybe that's just media censorship.

In any case, there's no reason not to save money and your mind by building your own ASE. All you need is a sealable structure you can isolate from the walls, floor, and ceiling of your home (an old refrigerator on cinderblocks works in a pinch if you're not too claustrophobic) and lots and lots of aluminum foil with which to enclose it. Just remember: leave no unaluminumed surfaces, overlap your seams, and make sure they're secured with duct tape. With just a few easy steps you'll finally stop hearing the voice of Putin in your head.

Lyle Zapato

Merry Black Helicoptermas!

Lyle Zapato | 2010-12-24.6230 LMT | Black Helicopters | NWO

The NWO's inculcation of public acceptance of Black Helicopters wishes you happy holidays:

Lyle Zapato

Pacific Northwest (Christmas) Tree Octopus

Lyle Zapato | 2010-12-22.7450 LMT | Cephalopods | Art | Crafts
Lyle Zapato

Hand Fingers By Cyriak

Lyle Zapato | 2010-11-22.1630 LMT | Polydactylism
Lyle Zapato

Nicharongorong: Tree Octopuses of Micronesia

Lyle Zapato | 2010-11-18.5710 LMT | Cephalopods | Nature

My post on the tree octopuses of Polynesia contains a bit of sloppy geography; Palau and the Caroline Islands are actually in Micronesia, not Polynesia (I got the Cook Islands right, though). I'll rectify that slight against the good people and cephalopods of Micronesia with this post focusing on Micronesian tree octopuses.

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Lyle Zapato

Review: Spooky Washington

Lyle Zapato | 2010-10-24.8380 LMT | Cascadia | Cephalopods | Sasquatch Issues | Paraterrestrials | Entertainment
Spooky Washington by S.E. Schlosser

Spooky Washington: Tales of Hauntings, Strange Happenings, and Other Local Lore is part of the Spooky series by S.E. Schlosser, which collects Schlosser's retellings of ghost stories and folklore from around North America. This entry is all about the Cascadian prefecture of Washington. There are 26 short stories in total -- all assigned to a particular town, city, county, mountain, region, etc. -- and each is illustrated with a scratchboard drawing by Paul G. Hoffman.

The book is divided into two parts. The first part, "Ghost Stories", is obviously all about ghosts. In general I don't find ghosts all that interesting (so-called "spectral phenomena" are usually just psychotronically induced hallucinations caused by malfunctioning mind-control devices or standing resonance waves -- deflector beanies will keep them from bothering you), so I wasn't that captivated by these stories. Your mileage may vary. (Spoilers ahead, but these all contain well-worn ghost-story tropes you'll see coming a mile away.)

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Lyle Zapato

"The Octopus Cycle"

Lyle Zapato | 2010-10-22.2795 LMT | Cephalopods | Entertainment | Retro
Lyle Zapato

Y.R. Tap Comic #8

Lyle Zapato | 2010-10-21.5245 LMT | Government Propaganda Mascots | Art | Politics
Lyle Zapato

Airship Troopers: Volcanic Dinosaur Island of Doom

Lyle Zapato | 2010-10-09.8400 LMT | Entertainment | Fonts | Lost Worlds | Cephalopods
'Airship Troopers' cover

If you're in the mood for some old-school roleplay gaming in a pulp-adventure milieu set between 1900 and 1940, why not try Airship Troopers: Volcanic Dinosaur Island of Doom by Oliver Parkhurst, the first release of the Zeppelin Age line. (NB: The publisher, Heliograph, sent me a free copy because they used my font, Duarte Juramento, for some of the illustration labels.)

As the name implies, the game centers around airships and exotic island locations (I assume future installments of the promised Zeppelin Age series will have airships in other scenarios). I'm not an RPG player so I can't comment too much on Heliograph's DECO System: it uses dice; is run by a Director; has Moxie Checks when your character takes damage; awards Pavlov Points to reinforce entertaining roleplay; and defines characters by Trademarks, Motivations, and Hooks.

While in our reality Zeppelins were never that successful, Airship Troopers imagines a world where they are a major form of transportation. The difference that makes this reality possible is Monarch Airways, owned by wealthy and forward-thinking Ozma Tippitarius, whose mysterious sources of funding and helium keep the airship industry aloft and thriving. The titular Airship Troopers handle Monarch security and are able to deploy from airships thanks to Rocketeer-style rocket-packs called Firebirds. Well, they actually deploy thanks to gravity; the Firebirds let them get back.

Besides the Monarch backstory, there's lots of interesting info on real Zeppelin history, technology, and operations, including a Zeppelin Owner's Operation Manual (or Z.O.O.M.). While your Zeppelin can fly for days without fear of crashing, maintaining neutral buoyancy isn't as easy as one might suspect. If you deploy personnel or cargo, you loose their weight and must compensate by venting gas, of which you only have a limited supply. If they return, you must then drop water ballast, which again is limited. Going up and down relatively quickly also means expending gas and ballast. Unless your engines are running on Blau gas, using fuel decreases weight and requires gas venting. Environmental conditions can affect the effectiveness of the gas, requiring adjustments to the gas/ballast ratio. Balancing these two resources without running too low on either to safely control the ship necessitates skill and experience.

To explain the day-to-day operations of Zeppelins, the book introduces Monarch Airways' experimental testbed, the MAA Zenobia, which was retrofitted from the real-life R-80. Included are a blueprint, walkthrough, and descriptions of crew duties.

Being transportation, airships aren't very useful unless you have somewhere to go. Where you choose to take your airship in your game is up to you, and the book's outline of the DECO system and airship info can serve to build any Zeppelin Age adventure you want. But as you've guessed from the sub-title and Chris Appel's cover art, Parkhurst has some ideas of where your Zeppelin should be headed.

Welcome to the Volcanic Dinosaur Island of Doom (or just the Island)!

The Island is an environment filled with pulpy goodness for your Airship Troopers to explore and be killed by. And yes, there are dinosaurs. You could even play as a dinosaur; the character section suggests Uncommon Descriptions that include not only a Wonderdog (à la Rin-Tin-Tin) but a Wondersaur (T. Rex-Tin-Tin?), and there's a Wondersaur named Sandy described in an example adventure in the Director's section.

All the pulp staples are here: lost cities, mad scientists, gangsters, jungle girls, Neanderthals, giant arthropods, man-eating plants, weird fungi, Nazis, the Red menace. Of course, not everything listed has to be on your game's version of the Island. They're all just suggestions. The example adventure provides character/creature stats for a number of them, but it's easy to create your own.

Of particular interest to my readers, the Island is potentially home to a menagerie of terrestrial cephalopods: lakeside croctopus, giant elephantopus of the grasslands (reminiscent of the Umbrella Beasts from "The Octopus Cycle", as seen on this pulp cover [UPDATE: more about it here]), cave-dwelling stalactopus and stalagmopus, airfaring zeptopus, and naturally forest-dwelling treetopus. Since there's already Wondersaurs, perhaps you'll consider playing as a plucky arboreal Wonderpus sidekick. Also, the mixture of tree octopuses and dinosaurs means this will happen.