The Black Cat, No. 4, January 1896

Welcome to the fourth issue of The Black Cat and the Black Cat Project! Alas, there was a problem with the January issue. It was missing a few pages!

Stories

“In Solomon’s Caverns” by Charles Edward Barns

Charles Edward Barns had his first appearance in issue one with “In a Tiger Trap.” “In Solomon’s Caverns” sets up an equally exciting adventure: an investigation of the caves caused by the building of Solomon’s Temple. Of course, the American who is doing the spelunking loses his guide early in the process. The framing story implies that opium is part of the man’s salvation from the caves, but, alas, I’ll never understand how since I was lacking the end of the story.

“An Angel of Tenderfoot Hill” by Frederick Bardford

I was also missing the beginning of this story (and some of its middle pages too). From what I gathered, a hell-raising cowboy-type falls in love with a Presbyterian named Alice. He goes off to make his fortune and to endeavor to be worthy of her, but when he returns he finds that the small town that he’s left has become a city, and Alice may or may not have married his former friend.

“In Miggles’ Alley” by Herman Brownson

This is a little vignette: Little Tim O’Hagan’s nick-name is “Shingles” because when his mom is at work, he hangs out on the roof of their building with this infant brother. Across the street is a fire station. Shingles loves to watch the fire men come and go. In fact, one day to amuse himself and his baby brother he decides to play fire man and “rescue” his brother by lowering him down from the roof of the building…. This is Herman Brownson’s first story for The Black Cat.

“The Missing Link” by James Buckham

While on a camping trip with his friends, Henderson happens to take a couple pictured of a murder occurring. He later offers the photos to prove a man innocent of the crime. This might be one of the most competently written stories I’ve read in The Black Cat thus far, and I was missing two pages of it in the middle and the ending! The use of photography in a mystery strike me as very modern. Via Google, I do find a poet named James Buckham; I wonder if it’s the same author.

“Unchallenged” (alas, I don’t know the author)

Alas, I’m missing the beginning of this story. It “starts” with two girls strapping on pistols and riding out to on an errand. It seems that the errand was to show-up some men, but I’m definitely missing a piece. The writing is good enough that I’m a little sad that I don’t have the whole story.

“Aidu” by Hero Despard

“Aidu” is a story set in India that thankfully lacks some of the usual problematic aspects of a 1896 story set in India. Our narrator falls in love with the beautiful Aidu. When he meets her she seems to be in some trouble. She agrees to help (and later to marriage), under the condition that she be allowed her freedom and she not be followed when she leaves the house. Aidu is a strange woman; she is never seen eating and once a week she goes for a walk alone and returns re-invigorated. Of course, we know how this story goes. Our love-struck narrator, follows her one evening…

This was my favorite of the month.

“Mrs. Emory’s Boarder” by C. Marie Mott

I saw him pass every day; not that I watched for him, but it’s against human nature that a woman should sit at a window all day and never look out.

This story is a bit of a joke; a pretty clever “groaner,” perfect for a magazine called The Black Cat.

Advertisements

After a couple months with no ads, the issue ends with a full page ad for Holiday Books from Houghton, Mifflin & Co.

Want to read for yourself?
Here’s the link to Issue No. 4, January 1896

Or find out
More about the Black Cat Project

Magic Monday, 1/28/19


I like Mondays. I also like magic. I figured I’d combine the two and make a Monday feature that is truly me: a little bit of magic and a look at the week ahead.

Last week I put in motion a plan to head to Las Vegas in a few weeks. And one of the acts I plan on seeing is Mac King. The rope trick is one of those old standards that can be new and fun with the right presentation. And if you have a few more minutes, King has a great story about this trick.

It’s Monday! What Am I…

…reading?

Black Klansman: Race, Hate, and the Undercover Investigation of Lifetime
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Two library books that I had on hold became available within 24 hours of each other.

It’s bad form to complain about an overage of things to read, isn’t it? And, apparently, I’m on a book-to-movie kick.

…doing?

More of the usual. Now that New Year Fest is in the rear view mirror, it’s time to get Spring League going. Probably a lot of blog posts this week. And I really need to get some writing done!

What *was* I doing?

#24in48 Readathon, January 2019

My TBR

The Wedding Date
The Cure for Dreaming
Don Quixote

Pretty much right after I wrote my “It’s Monday…” post, I decided I should read a few more stories with some romance in them. So, I took a look around the online libraries and picked out The Wedding Date and The Cure for Dreaming. I also want to catch up with the other reading I had planned this week: Don Quixote and a bunch of short stories.

Wrap-Up!

I decided this morning that, since I wasn’t going to make it the full 24hrs, I wanted to get 18 hours done. And, hey! I got 19!

I finished reading The Wedding Date, started and finished The Cure for Dreaming, caught up on Don Quixote and my short story reading, *and* started The Beautiful Cigar Girl and Black Klansman. That’s a pretty good reading weekend!

Continue reading “#24in48 Readathon, January 2019”

Review ~ Laurant

Laurant: Man of Many Mysteries

Laurant: The Man of Many Mysteries by Gabe Fajuri

In 1896, Eugene Laurant became a professional magician. 21 years earlier, as Eugene Greenleaf, he was born on the frontier, in the horse and buggy town that was Denver, Colorado.

Billed as the “Man of Many Mysteries,” Laurant spent almost 50 seasons on tour. His stage-filling magic show brought wonder and delight to millions of spectators across North America.

The bulk of Laurant’s career was spent not in major metropolitan centers, or hustling, bustling cities like New York. Unlike his contemporaries—Houdini among them—Laurant, for the most part, confined his routes to rural America. It was there that he made his mark. Eugene Laurant was, arguably, king of the small town showmen.

Laurant carried a full compliment of assistants, livestock, baggage and thousands of pounds of equipment-the tools of mystery making-over the rough-and-tumble back roads of America. He logged millions of miles on the road.

His greatest successes were made on the Lyceum and Chautauqua circuits, which enjoyed immense popularity between 1900 and 1920. During those years, Laurant headlined for the most prominent organization in the business, the Redpath Bureau.

Drawing on Laurant’s own unpublished writings, scrapbooks, and new research, this book paints a revealing and complete portrait of this early American magician. From his earliest dime-museum days, to Wild West adventure, vaudeville shows and much more, Laurant: Man of Many Mysteries tells the tale.

via Squash Publishing

Quick Review

When I ordered Laurant as a late Christmas present / “let me get this guacamole seasoning shipped for free” add-on item, I didn’t entirely realize how relevant it would be to the book I’m currently writing. I was somewhat aware of Eugene Laurant as one of the many magicians of the early 20th century, but I didn’t know that his career was mainly as a performer in the Lyceum and Chautauqua circuits. Not only is this book a well-detailed biography of Laurant, but it has lots of crunchy details about the workings of the Chautauqua.

My one beef is that the book is rather slim for the price, but it is a very nice hardback, glossy and full of pictures. Perfect for my second read of the year.

Other Info

Genre: biography, history
Published: Squash Publishing
Release Date: May 31, 2005
My copy: hardback purchased via Amazon

Magic Monday, 1/21/19


I like Mondays. I also like magic. I figured I’d combine the two and make a Monday feature that is truly me: a little bit of magic and a look at the week ahead.

I’m a sucker for magic history, but I usually don’t delve much farther back than the 1850s. Back in October, Mariano Tomatis gave a lecture about where the Gothic and stage magic sometimes intersect.

If you don’t have time to watch/listen to the lecture, it’s also available at Tomatis’ Blog of Wonder in post and slide show form.

It’s Monday! What am I…

…reading?

Part of the reason I wanted do fewer formal reading challenges was to make room for things like Kaleena’s #PoeAThon.

I’d been thinking about reading some Poe, so this was perfect! And it’s still going on this lovely Monday! Today, I’ll be reading “For Annie,” “The Tell-Tale Heart,” “The Cask of Amontillado,” and “The Premature Burial.”

I’m ahead of where I thought I’d be with my TBR this month since I read Laurant: The Man of Many Mysteries last week. Next, I’ll probably read a couple Shelf Maintenance titles.

The Hellbound Heart
The Circus of Dr. Lao

I’m thinking Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker or The Circus of Dr. Lao by Charles G. Finney. Or, maybe I’ll head to the library before the 24 in 48 Readathon this weekend.

…doing?

I’m engaged in the usual late-January things: listening to basketball, watching tennis, playing some ultimate frisbee, reeling over the fact that the first month of the year is 2/3 over.

One thing is different from most years. This year I won’t be participating in New Year Fest, our yearly local ultimate tournament. I’ve decided that playing more than three games in a day is not fun and should be avoided. Even helping out on-site has been murder on my back the last few years. So, instead, this weekend I’ll be doing the 24 in 48 Readathon. Switching out one favorite thing for another…

What *was* I doing?

#DealMeIn2019, Week 3 ~ “With the Best of Intentions”

“With the Best of Intentions” by Paul Doherty and Pat Murphy

Card Picked: Ace♥️
From: The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, July-August 2017

People like to think in terms of cause and effect. We want things to be simple: You do X and you get Y.

But then it comes to natural systems, it’s just not that simple. You do X and you get a cascading alphabet of effects. And some of those double back to become new causes.

I ended up switching out the story I originally had planned for the Ace of Hearts; I realized I had already read it. When setting up my Deal Me In list, I slotted in the short stories from my remaining unread issues of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, but I’d forgotten that I’d already read a few from the July/August 2017 issue. So, instead, I decided to read the science essay from that issue.

“With the Best of Intentions” is about bees. Honeybees and bumblebees mostly. We tend to value the honeybee because, well, honey, but over look the contributions to pollination by the fuzzy, buzzy bumblebee. If we project a future with less pollinator bees, we could have less fruits like apples, but also less birds who eat fruits like apples, and less small predators who eat birds, etc.

I don’t mean to be a denier of these possible outcomes, but I am also an inherent optimist. While our authors acknowledge that we have problems predicting outcomes, they stick to dire consequences. I take a more Ian Malcolm approach:

Jurassic Park Life Finds A Way GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Review ~ Duped

This book was provided to me by Perseus Books via NetGalley for review consideration.

Duped: Double Lives, False Identities, and the Con Man I Almost Married

Duped: Double Lives, False Identities, and the Con Man I Almost Married by Abby Ellin

From the day Abby Ellin’s went on her first date with The Commander, she was caught up in a whirlwind. Within five months he’d proposed, and they’d moved in together. But there were red flags: strange stories of international espionage, involving Osama Bin Laden and the Pentagon. And soon his stories began to unravel until she discovered, far later than she’d have liked, that he was a complete and utter fraud.

When Ellin wrote about her experience in Psychology Today, the responses were unlike anything she’d experienced as a reporter. Legions of people wrote in with similar stories, of otherwise sharp-witted and self-aware people being taken in by ludicrous scams. Why was it so hard to spot these outlandish stories? Why were so many of the perpetrators male, and so many of the victims female? Was there something universal at play here?

In Duped, Abby Ellin plunges headlong into the world of double lives. Studying the art and science of lying, talking to women who’ve had their worlds turned upside down, and writing with great openness about her own mistakes, she lays the phenomenon bare. It is a strangely relatable trip to the fringe of our normal world. You’ll come away with a new appreciation for just how strange and improbable our everyday lives really are.

Why was I interested in this book?

A hobby subject for me is magic, and the basis of magic is deception. I’ll also cop to being fascinated by con men, especially someone like Frank Abagnale (of Catch Me If You Can fame), who seemed to be very proficient at having multiple lives. Granted, just like the mirrors, invisible threads and gaffers tape of magic tricks, con men are not at all glamorous. That still hasn’t satisfied my want for tales of people being duped.

What Did This Book Do Well?

Abby Ellin is very upfront about her experience being duped despite the stigma attached to it. No one wants to believe that they can be deceived by someone close to them. It is easy to perceive that as a personal failing that should be so easily avoided.

Ellin is also very curious about why people lie, how people are deceived, and what the aftermath is for all involved. She found that for herself and others, being duped is a form of trauma. She also talks to dupers and how their lives play out once the truth is known.

Her intentions for the book seem very ambitious.

What Didn’t This Book Do Well?

To a degree, I had an expectation for this book which was different from what Duped actually is. I was hoping for a crunchier, more scientific investigation of deception.

Ellin presents many anecdotes (including her own) and touches on many theories and studies, but only the stories get any real attention. For example, in the chapter “In God We Trust—Everyone Else We Polygraph,” Ellin mostly writes about attending a deception detection workshop without really telling much about the content of the class and writes about talking to a polygraph expert without really giving much background about polygraphs. Everything is treated in a fairly shallow, pop science manner.

I also felt that the anecdotes skewed heavily toward male liars. I supposed that’s not surprising considering Ellin’s experience, but I was hoping that eventually there would be a step toward a more objective tone. Also, while I’m not a particularly political person, I feel some of her references to the current administration aren’t going to age well.

Overall

Duped is a mixture of compelling memoir and pop science with a little bit of self-help narrative mixed in, but it isn’t an organized deep-dive into deception.

Other Information

Genre: memoir
Published: PublicAffairs Perseus Books
Release Date: January 15th 2019
My copy: ePub via NetGalley