Chapter 27: The Clean Man and the Dirty Angels

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In this week’s chugging adventure: Rob and Alan discuss their brackets for Mundane Madness (always bet on binder clip!) and we read a story of a godly railroad man and the fallen women he believes are beyond saving. If you’re looking for puritanical thinking and old-timey deep voices saying “t’ain’t right” a lot, well, you’re looking for some strangely specific things, but we have got you covered!

This Tale is from Stories of the Railroad published in 1899 by John A. Hill (1899’s Slogan: “19-hundred-zero-zero, party over, wait, plenty of time”). John A. Hill was not only a railroad engineer, he became the “Hill” in McGraw-Hill publishing and a titan of our time! Just think of all the SAT prep books we owe to his writings in Locomotive Engineer magazine.

Get ready to ride the rails in this story of adventure and learn a lot about the economics of late 19th century dance halls! So grab your favorite bottle of hooch and curl up in your parlor car while we read you this week’s tale.

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Chapter 26: The Chameleon Man

This thrilling episode: Rob reveals the true heights of his manliness (spoiler alert: ankle deep at best) and we read a science fiction story about a man who can turn invisible and his attempt to help the war effort by starring on the Great White Way!

From the January 1943 issue of Amazing Stories, “The Chameleon Man” by William P. Mcgivern (writer of the film The Big Heat and at least 3 episodes of Kojak) features a man so forgettable that he actually becomes invisible and just wants to join the Army to help the war effort. So our protagonist, a shady talent agent (shocking!), decides the best way to aid him is by taking him straight to Broadway to make a few bucks. Forget sneaking into a bunker to get Hitler, this guy could be stage crew without even wearing black! That’s the perfect use of his abilities, genius! 

This story also includes a long paranthetical about the reality of invisible people from the editors so if you don’t listen to this for the humor, tune in because you might just learn something. It’s like how we watch Spinal Tap as a cautionary tale about the dangers of spontaneous combustion. So grab your favorite clear beverage and curl up in your favorite flesh-toned chair while we read you this week’s tale.

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Chapter 25 : The Shock

This episode Alan drops some science about thermocouplers and how important they are in today’s modern homes (hint: you cannot reverse the polarity of a thermocoupler and swing your house around the sun to travel back in time). The we read a seemingly lighthearted story about a baseball player that suddenly takes a swerve into Thrilltown! BTW, if you’ve passed the 7-11 on Chiller Road, you’ve gone too far.

From Wide-Awake Magazine in 1916, “The Shock” by Grant Trask Reeves (about whom little is known except he wrote baseball stories and either had an awesome name or great taste in pseudonyms) is about a drunk major leaguer (who is also a major league drunk) who gets in a bit of a bind with his manager and may have to pay the ultimate price. Is it jail? Being traded to Miami? Only time and this week’s tale will tell! So curl up in your favorite dugout and grab some Big League Chew while we read you this week’s tale.

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Chapter 24 : Don’t Get Technatal

Rob shares a bittersweet family story involving animated balls of dough and naive immigrants followed by a short sci-fi tale from the utopian future of 1975! Will man still be alive? Will women survive? Will robots know how to shake their booty? All of these questions, and, well, not many more, but at least all of these questions will be answered!

“Don’t Get Technatal” was written by science fiction luminary Ray Bradbury under a pseudonym way before he got famous as an author and was the lowly editor of a low-budget, but ultimately influential, fanzine called Futuria Fantasia. It was 1939 and Bradbury decided to riff on the little known and by then pretty much done political movement of Technocracy. Yes, a nerd writing about a future where the nerds have taken over. Who says science fiction is all about wish fulfillment? Bet they feel silly now! So have your robot butler grab your favorite drink and curl up on your knitted couch as we read you this week’s tale.

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Chapter 23 : The Necklace of Pearls

The Saga of Stairs, Part 2: The Submission of the Truth.  Then, a fanciful fable from the island of the Azores with more crying than Solomon Burke’s Cry to Me, which is, NOT COINCIDENTALLY, part of the Dirty Dancing soundtrack.  This week’s genre: Fairy Tales.  Or Nymph Tales.  But not Pony Tales, and not Cotton Tales.

“The Necklace of Pearls” as retold by Elsie Spicer Eells is from 1922’s “The Islands of Magic: Legends, Folk and Fairy Tales from the Azores.”  So grab a philtre of tears, and curl up in your favorite embroidered saddle as we read you this week’s tale.

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Chapter 22 : Scrambled Yeggs

Weird fruit part 3, then a jokey farce about a stranger-in-a-strange-land, a costume ball, quite a bit of lying and possible incestuous jewel thieving.  All set against the background of 1940s Paris, which – now that we think about – seems like a weird time to have a ball but… well, you’ll see what happens.  This week’s genre: Romantiheist.

“Scrambled Yeggs” is from the anthology “Night Life Tales” Vol. 1, No. 19, and it’s a bit risque on the face but not very titillating inside, but obviously we’ve added a bunch of sexiness just through our husky voices.  So grab an absinthe, and curl up on your favorite divan (that’s the correct order in which you would do it, ROB) and sit back while we read you this week’s tale.

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Chapter 21 – “My Irish Friend”

Dentistry and peeing your pants – true story?  Then we plunge ourselves into a frightening TRUE ACCOUNT of promises, ghosts, and the noises they make in the dark.   This week’s genre: Ghoooossst Stories!

Our tale “My Irish Friend” comes from the collection “Real Ghost Stories” by William T. Stead, a man with a somewhat controversial reputation and a writing style that can best be praised as “note-takingish.”  So grab a bottle of laudanum and curl up in your favorite bedchamber while we read you this week’s tale.

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Chapter 20: “Limbering Up Ebenezer”

The Winter Marblelympics are here and it is time to chant GO GO SAVAGE SPEEDERS! Oh, and there’s a story too, something about a miserly couple that has a falling out over pickles and the foxtrot.  This week’s genre: Romance then Not Romance.

“Limbering Up Ebenezer” is from the May 1919 edition of Saucy Stories Magazine and it is basically congealed jargon aggressively molded into two columns and three pages. So curl up in your favorite town hall bench and grab a drink of free tap water while we read you this week’s tale.

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Chapter 19 – “The Winds, the Birds, and the Telegraph Wires”

What is the acceptable age for owning a waterbed? Then, a succinct little fable about some kind of god named the “Earth King” – who may or may not have a Swedish nu-metal band backing him – and his travails hiring contractors.  This week’s genre: Fairy Tales.

“The Winds, the Birds, and the Telegraph Wires” is by Revered Jay T. Stocking, and it appears in an anthology entitled “Twenty Four Unusual Stories for Boys and Girls,” arranged and retold by Anna Cogswell Tyler.  It nicely explains why the winds hate the birds and the birds hate wires, but it does not explain how “Birds on a Wire” failed at the box office, so there’s still a lot of mystery left in the world.  So curl up in your favorite rainbow bed, and grab a rainbow popsicle and celebrate like it’s the Fourth of July, as we read you this week’s tale.

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Chapter 18: “The Devil’s Jest”

Weird fruits, part two – the paw paw.  After that, Alan reads a yarn of a dying man’s confession to a conveniently placed burglar.  This week’s genre: Suspense.

“The Devil’s Jest” by Robert Terry Shannon comes from the pages of Argosy All-Story Weekly, Dec 15th, 1923, and it concerns the revenge of a man who gets his medical advice from Dr Oz and definitely needs a subscription to the Times.  So curl up in your favorite hospice bed with a glistening revolver as we read you this week’s tale.

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