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ERB 100-Word Drabbles
DECEMBER V Edition :: Days 1-15
by Robert Allen Lupton
Go to Days 16-31 at ERBzine 7745a
With Collations, Web Page Layout and ERBzine Illustrations and References by Bill Hillman
December 1, 2023: On this day in 1936, Edgar Rice Burroughs began writing “Tarzan and the Elephant Men,’ which would become the second half of the novel, “Tarzan the Magnificent.” “Tarzan and the Magic Men” was the first half. In “Elephant Men,” ERB was at his best when describing the battle between the cities of Athne and Cathne.
Tarzan and nature writer, Stanley Wood, encounter two warring cities, ruled by competing brothers who each have a strange stone that gives the bearers mental powers. Tarzan is immune to the stones and becomes involved in the battle.
Publishing details and illustrations for "Tarzan the Magnificent." https://www.erbzine.com/mag7/0728.html
The 100 word drabble for today,” Free Meal,” is inspired by “Tarzan and the Elephant Men.”
Tarzan and Stanley Wood marched with a group of mounted warrior elephants. The force encountered war party of Bantangos, a cannibal tribe.
An elephant rider said, “I’ll dismount and tell them to leave the area so that they aren’t injured in the upcoming battle.”
Tarzan said, “That’s a terrible idea.”
The rider approached the Bantangos, who killed and dismembered him immediately. Their chief said, “A snack before lunch!”
Stanley said, “Sad, he meant well, but you know what they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions,”
Tarzan replied, “No, the road to hell is paved with stupidity.”
I CAN'T HEAR YOU
December 2: On this day in 1916, All-Story Weekly published part three of “Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar.” Neither Edgar Rice Burroughs nor the story received even a mention on the cover, which was dedicated to the ‘complete in this issue’ story, A Gentle Ill Wind: by Maude Pettus, who wrote a total of five stories, all published by All-Story. The issue also contains a story by Achmed Abdullah Nadir Khan el-Durani el Iddrissyeh, “The God of the Invincibly Strong Arms: III Two Bluffs and a Show-Down.” Achmed a pseudonym for Alexander Nicholayevitch Romanoff, who wrote at least a hundred stories for the pulps.
Publishing details, reviews, commentary, and illustrations for “Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar” - https://www.erbzine.com/mag4/0490.html
The drabble for today, "I Can’t Hear You,” was inspired by “Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar.”
Tarzan said, “Jane, the coffers are looking a bit empty. It’s time for me to journey back to Opar.”
I CAN'T HEAR YOU
“The roof needs mending and it’s time to harvest the crops. There’s plenty to do right here instead of traipsing through the jungle with your warrior friends.”
“The warriors call that women’s work.”
“Tarzan, I will hit you. Don’t make me hit you.”
“We need more jewels from Opar.”
“No, I know about that high priestess. You aren’t fooling me for a minute.”
Tarzan covered his ears, closed his eyes, and chanted, “LA-LA-LA-LA.”
“Stop it. I know the hussy’s damn name!”
HE'S GOTTA BE STRONG
December 3: On this day in 1984, the Union Carbide Fire in India occurred and actress, Shakeela Bano Bhopali, along with thousands of other people died as a result of the tragedy. Shakeela starred in three Bollywood Tarzan Films, “Rocket Tarzan,” “Tarzan and Hercules” and “Tarzan and the Magic Lamp.”
Read about the Tarzan Bollywood films in my article at: https://www.erbzine.com/mag67/6730.html
The Bhopal fire is considered the world’s worst industrial disaster, exposing over 500,000 people to the toxic gas, methyl isocyanate. The death count remains undetermined because survivors suffered respiratory problems, heart damage, cancer, and tuberculosis. Bhopal has a higher rate of birth defects than the national average.
As for Shakeela, while she could still speak, her voice was irreparably damaged in the disaster and her film career ended. She lived in poverty and obscurity until her death from a massive heart attack in 2002.
Her most important contribution to the Indian entertainment industry was transforming “qawaalii” from simple form of local music to a lavish affair with a grand backdrop, orchestra and a lot of action and dance. Her command over Urdu and her penchant for enacting the lines of the songs as well as her swaying dancing style made her one of the most sought-after “qawaal” singers of her time.
The drabble for today, “He’s Gotta Be Strong,” is a tribute to the singer and actress, Shakeela Bano Bhopali.
The interviewer asked, “Shakeela, your film credits used many names.”
HE'S GOTTA BE STRONG
“Yes, not my choice. My middle name has been Banoo and Banu, I made Tarzan films as Shakila Banu. My name’s been spelled several ways during the years.”
“Was that okay.”
“We have several languages, Hindi, Urdu, Bengali, Tamil, Kannada, Marathi, and English. Spelling is often a matter of negotiation, not etched in stone. They could spell my name however they wanted as long as their check cleared.”
“You liked the Tarzan films?”
“I did. I wish Tarzan been around when the Union Carbide plant burned. We needed a hero.”
ECO AIR CORPS
December 4: On this day in 1942. Hulbert Burroughs, ERB’s son, was promoted to first lieutenant in the Army Air Corp. He spent the night with his father in Honolulu. Hulbert was considered one of the best photographers in the Army Air Corps. https://www.erbzine.com/mag19/1985.html
The 100 drabble for today is, “Eco Air Corps,” inspired by Hulbert’s time as a military photographer.
Edgar Rice Burroughs said, “Gold bars, Hulbert. Congratulations. You’ll be leading a squadron in no time.”
ECO AIR CORPS
“I hope not. The only thing I carry is a camera. I’m not afraid to fight, but that’s not my assignment. I record, I don’t fight.”
“Sounds like nice low impact duty.”
“Not, really, Dad, I’m in the thick of things, but all I have for defense is a camera.”
“Bring me back a Japanese flag if you can.”
“The only thing I take is pictures, the only thing I leave is footprints.”
“Catchy. You should copyright that phrase or someone will steal it.”
CHANGE OF HABIT
December 5: On this day in 1934, The Montreal Gazette published the article titled, ”Would Divorce Novelist,” which had a byline dated December 4th in Los Angeles. To quote from the article, “Mrs. Edgar Rice Burroughs, wife of the novelist-creator of Tarzan, said today she plans to file a divorce action soon against her husband in which she will charge incompatibility. Mrs. Burroughs said a property settlement has been arranged and that she may name a woman co-respondent. Burroughs is in Las Vegas, Nevada working on a story. Mrs. Burroughs and the writer have a married daughter." (There’s no mention of Hulbert or John Coleman in the article.)
Emma never filed for divorce because the very next day, December 6, 1934, Edgar Rice Burroughs was granted a divorce in Las Vegas. Reports were that the property settlement was “generous,” and Emma stayed employed by ERB Inc. as a proofreader.
The drabble for today, “Change of Habit,” is 100 words taken from the unpublished requiem, “Mother Died Today", by Hulbert Burroughs: https://www.erbzine.com/mag67/6750.html
After their 1919 move to Tarzana in California's San Fernando Valley the Burroughs lifestyle changed dramatically. They entered into the social whirl of Hollywood parties and Emma took on the added role of Lady of the Manor and Hostess for the Burroughs estate. Sadly, the new lifestyle took its toll. By the early '30s Ed and Emma started to drift apart: the three kids had left the nest and Ed had cultivated different interests. These events coupled with the economic depression, bad investments, declining book sales, loss of the Tarzana estate, and the Burroughs lifestyle, put stresses on their marriage.
CHANGE OF HABIT
DON'T IMPRESS ME MUCH
December 6: On this day in 1913, Olympic Swimming Gold Medalist and actress, Eleanor Grace Theresa Holm, was born in Brooklyn, New York. Holm competed in the 1928 Olympics at age 15, and later the 1932 Olympics. She qualified for the 1936 Olympic Games, but was dismissed from the team by U. S. Olympic Committee Chairman, Avery Brundage, after a drinking party on the SS Manhattan. It was alleged that she was in a near coma and team doctors diagnosed her with “Acute Alcoholism.” Holm claimed that Brundage held a personal grudge against her from a time he had propositioned her and she’d refused him.
She appeared in a few films as herself, but only one feature length film, "Tarzan’s Revenge," opposite fellow Olympian, Glenn Morris, where she played the leading female character named Eleanor Reed, not Jane.
At the 1939 New York World’s Fair, she did 39 shows a week in Bill Rose’s “Aquacade,” along with Johnny Weissmuller and later with Buster Crabbe.
Details about “Tarzan’s Revenge: https://www.erbzine.com/mag6/0619.html
The drabble for today. “Don’t Impress Me Much,” is a fictional conversation between Eleanor and Buster Crabbe before an “Aquacade” performance at the 1939 World’s Fair.
Buster Crabbe introduced himself. “Eleanor, I’m taking over of Weissmuller. I made a Tarzan film. I set the 400 meter freestyle Olympic record, four minutes and forty-eight seconds.”
DON'T IMPRESS ME MUCH
“I made a Tarzan film, myself. Weissmuller’s made more films than us and his world record 400 meter time was four minutes flat, a lap faster than yours.”
“Eleanor, that was in 1926, thirteen years ago.”
“True, he’s thirty-five this year. He’s still fast, and so am I. I can backstroke 400 meters faster than you swim freestyle. Try to keep up. The audience paid for their admission, they deserve a show.”
DON'T AMOUNT TO A HILL OF BEANS
December 7: On this day in 1941, Edgar Rice Burroughs and his son, Hulbert watched the attack on Pearl Harbor from a tennis court near where ERB lived in Honolulu, and also on the day, the John Carter of Mars Sunday comic strip, illustrated by John Coleman Burroughs assisted by his wife, Jane Ralston Burroughs debuted. The strip was only carried in four newspapers and was discontinued in 1943.
All of the strips are available to read at: https://www.erbzine.com/mag22/2281.html
The drabble for today, “Don’t Amount to a Hill of Beans,” was inspired by the two events that happened on December 7, 1941. A tip of the hat to the film ‘Casablanca,’ for the title today’s drabble.
DON'T AMOUNT TO A HILL OF BEANSJane Ralston Burroughs carried two cups of coffee into her husband’s studio. “Jack, I’ve got the paper. The John Carter page looks great. I hope people like it.”
John Coleman Burroughs, who went by Jack, replied, “Sit down and listen to the radio. The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Not to sound self-centered, but most folks won’t turn to the funny pages for the next few weeks. I went outside. The air smells of war.”
“Your Dad and brother are in Honolulu. I suppose that they won’t read it either.”
“I shouldn’t be surprised if they aren’t a little busy today.”
LOVE FROM DEJAH THORIS
December 8: On this day in 1913, John Coleman Burroughs’ future wife, Jane Ralston Burroughs, was born. Jane frequently posed as a model of Dejah Thoris and other heroines for her husband’s work. She helped produce John Carter of Mars Sunday comic page by lettering, coloring and by drawing the backgrounds and buildings. Jane and John Coleman had three children, John Ralston, Danton, and Dian.
A lovely tribute to Jane and several photographs are located at: https://www.erbzine.com/jrb/
The 100 word drabble today isn’t 100 words long, it’s only 89 words in length. Jane wrote a 1998 letter to George McWorter, curator of the ERB collection at the University of Louisville. I didn’t want to change a word.
Perhaps it would be of interest to elucidate on the "John Carter of Mars" comic strip panels drawn by my husband, John Coleman Burroughs, in 1942. My facial features were drawn and I posed in a swim suit and Martian harness for the body proportions and positions. Never has it been known that I also drew all the backgrounds and buildings, did all of the coloring and all of the lettering, and very much enjoyed the project. My love to all." ~ "Dejah Thoris" (Jane Ralston Burroughs) Irvine, California.
Love From Dejah Thoris
December 9: On this day in 1929, Universal Pictures released the first episode of the film serial, “Tarzan the Tiger.” Frank Merrill played Tarzan, Natalie Kingston played Jane, and Lillian Worth was La. Al Ferguson played the evil Albert Werper, who didn’t write five bootleg Tarzan novels in the 1960’s. Those novels, published under the pseudonym, Barton Werper, were the work of Petter T. Scott and Peg O’Neil Scott. But enough about the folks who brought us “Tarzan and the Abominable Snow Men.”
There is conflicting information about the actual release date of “Tarzan the Tiger,” with October 5, 1929 provided as the date of release by some sources.
The serial followed the successful, “Tarzan the Mighty, and Frank Merrill, whose real name was Otto Adolph Stephen Poll, reprised his role as Tarzan. Natalie Kingston returned but this time was Jane, not Mary Trevor, and Al Ferguson was still the heavy, but his name was Albert Werper, not Black John. Lillian Worth returned as La, High Priestess of Opar, using the screen name Kithnou.
The serial was a mixture of silent film technology with some sound overlaid, music and the like. Tarzan’s yell, not a great yell, but his yell, reverberated in movie houses across America.
Details about the film: https://www.erbzine.com/mag5/0593.html
The drabble for today, “Who’s Who,” was inspired by the returning actors and actresses from “Tarzan the Mighty,” playing essentially the same roles, but under different names.
Frank Merrill threatened Al Ferguson. “Black John, leave Mary Trevor alone or I’ll rip your heart out.”
The director screamed, “Cut! Frank, wrong movie. It’s Albert Werper and Jane, not Black John and Mary.”
“Why’d you change their names?
“We didn’t change all the names. Queen La is still Queen La.”
Lillian Worth laughed. “But I changed my screen name to Kithnou. Don’t complain, Frank, your real name is Otto. Why’d you change it?”
My police department thinks I’m on medical leave and Otto sounds like a German Chancellor."
“Your other name, Adolph, doesn’t exactly scream bunny rabbits and unicorns.”
GOING THROUGH IT AGAIN
December 10: On this day in 1947, Edgar Rice Burroughs spent most of the day correcting proofs for “Llana of Gathol,” which would be published in 1948. The book was illustrated by John Coleman Burroughs. It retailed for $2.00. I wasn’t a year old when it was published, so I didn’t order a copy from Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. until later. In 1971, I paid eight dollars for the first edition.
Reviewing proofs and galleys is a necessary, but mind-numbing task. I’m sure that ERB enjoyed it about as much as I do.
Details about Llana of Gathol: https://www.erbzine.com/mag7/0738.html
The drabble for today, “Going through It Again,” was inspired by the task of reviewing the proof of a book, one last time.
John Coleman Burroughs said, “You look intent, Dad. What’s going on?”
GOING THROUGH IT AGAIN
“One of my favorite things. The Llana of Gathol proofs arrived today from the printer. I’m going through them one more time.”
“You reviewed the manuscripts before they were sent to Amazing Stories and proofread those magazine versions.”
“I did, indeed.”
“So why are you looking at it again?”
“New version, new typesetter. Once he makes the corrections I notice today, I’ll have to proof it again. He’ll make more corrections, and I’ll proof it again. Repeat as necessary.”
“When does it stop?”
“When either he or I surrender.”
FIGHT FOR THE COVER
December 11: On this day in 1915, All-Story Weekly published the second installment of “The Son of Tarzan.” Neither Edgar Rice Burroughs, nor the novel were mentioned on the cover. There were no interior illustrations.
The cover mention and illustration went to a Semi-Duel novel, “Prince Abdul Omar of Persia,’ by J. U. Giesy and Junius B.Smith. Actually, it’s pretty good.
The publishing history of The Son of Tarzan: https://www.erbzine.com/mag4/0487.html. . . All-Story covers in the ERBzine Pulp Bibliography: https://www.erbzine.com/mag2/0223.html
The fictional drabble for today, "Fight for the Cover,” was inspired by All-Story’s policy at the time to only feature a story’s first installment on the cover.
Hulbert Burroughs said, “Dad, I think you should be on the cover of All-Story every time.”
FIGHT FOR THE COVER
“That’s not their policy.”
“I read that Omar Semi-Duel story. It’s not as good as “The Son of Tarzan.”
“Relax. Those guys, Giesy and Smith, are good writers. There’s room for us all.”
“I don’t see it that way.” Hulbert smiled, “You should challenge them to a semi-duel.”
“I don’t think so. First, there’s two of them and second, there’s no such thing as a semi-duel. Ask Alexander Hamilton. If you’re not planning to shoot the other guy, you better just stay in bed.”
LITTLE BITTY BOOK
December 12: On this date in 2023 I got a surprise gift in the mail -- a very very small Tarzan book, similar to Tarzan Jr., a one-of-a-kind book written by Edgar Rice Burroughs and illustrated by John Coleman Burroughs in 1937 for actress Colleen Moore's Fairy Castle project. Tarzan Jr was 1" by 1" and this reproduction is slightly smaller.
The photo of my book shows the book on the lap of a Storyteller doll, traditional Indigenous People's pottery in New Mexico.
Details about Tarzan Jr and Colleen Moore's Fairy Tale Castle: https://www.erbzine.com/mag8/0865.html
Actress Colleen Moore created a fantastic “Fairy Castle” beginning in 1926. Her fairy castle exhibit was displayed at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. ERB wrote a short short story about a princess and Tarzan Jr. The book was printed by hand. The castle library contains over 100 real books.
The 100 drabble for today is “Little Bitty Book,” and it was inspired by Tarzan Jr. May all your fairy tales come true!
John Coleman Burroughs said, “Dad, I’ve got a couple of days. If you’ll write something for Colleen Moore’s Fairy Castle, I’ll do the illustrations and put the book together.”
LITTLE BITTY BOOK
“Please just adapt something?”
“No. The book is one inch square. Maybe two hundred words combining Tarzan with a fairy tale. She’s called three times."
Ed produced one typewritten page. “Here’s the story of Tarzan Junior and a princess.”
“Dad, do they live happily ever after.”
“It’s a fairy tale. Of course they do. What they never tell the reader is that Happy-ever-after depends on when the writer ends the story.”
December 13: On this day in 1941, the first “Laugh It Off” column by the world’s oldest war correspondent, Edgar Rice Burroughs, was published in the Honolulu Star Bulletin and the Honolulu Advertiser. The header for the first column read, “Edgar Rice Burroughs, Honolulu resident and famous author of the 'Tarzan' books and comic strip, has volunteered is services to the army and will write a column each day on the lighter side of the war.”
Burroughs did his best, but became frustrated with the level of military censorship and editorial overreach and quit writing the columns. He wrote a few more after the war ended.
The entire series of Laugh It Off columns may be read at: https://www.erbzine.com/mag11/1129.html.
The drabble for today is, Proud, and it is excerpted from that first Laugh It Off column written by ERB.
Whatever else the civilian population of this island of Oahu may lack, it is long on cooperation, guts and a sense of humor. Since the Japanese attack started the morning of December 7th, there’s been no panic, and whatever fear there’s been has been beautifully camouflaged. These people, regardless of race, color or antecedents are AMERICANS. They make me proud to be American, too.
I saw no indications of fright from the wives of two naval captains during the attack. Neither woman permitted their real feelings to show -- two more Americans to make us proud that we are Americans.
!!! DAILY DRABBLE NUMBER 2,000 !!!
December 14, 2023: About five and a half years ago, I posted the first of my Edgar Rice Burroughs themed drabbles. Today is the 2000th such post. That first post didn’t include an on-this-day segment, those began about six months later. All 2000 drabbles and the on-this-day articles are available at:
My thanks to Bill Hillman's “ERBzine” Facebook Group and Pages and ERBzine Website and Weekly Webzine and to “All For the Love of All Things Edgar Rice Burroughs,” Facebook Pages which have posted these articles since the beginning. The posts appear regularly, sometimes every day, on several Facebook pages. Other pages with more specific themes, only include appropriate posts, for example, pulp magazine pages only include pulp magazine posts, and I only post movie themed posts on movie themed pages.
The posts are included on the Burroughs Bibliophile Facebook page. The Bibliophiles is an ERB approved organization which hosts annual fan gatherings and publishes the “Burroughs Bulletin,” the first issue of which was published in the 1950s. I encourage you to join. Here’s the link: https://www.erbzine.com/bb/ and https://www.burroughsbibliophiles.com
If even one of these posts made someone smile, made someone think, or made someone search for more information, that’s great. Thanks for reading them. Hang around, there’s more to come.
The 100 word drabble for today is the first one, “Happy Hunting,” inspired by banths, Martian lion-like creatures, and “Thuvia, Maid of Mars,” a beautiful Martian woman who could mentally control those giant creatures.
The banth led a simple life, eat, sleep, and eat again. When there was a female in the area, he’d pursue a playful romp, but he hadn’t scented a female in a long time.
He awoke to the sound of the flyer crash and caught a female scent, but it was different. The She was a Red Martin with strong coercive powers. Thuvia commanded he free her from the wreckage. He carried her to Helium. She thanked him by guiding him to a female. He heard her mating call. There’s nothing more insistent than the come-hither scream of a she-banth.
DEATH AND DISHONOUR
December 15: On this day in 1918, Collier’s Magazinne firmly rejected Edgar Rice Burroughs’ short story, “The Little Door,” which focused the brutality of the German soldiers during World War One. The story is filled with bloodshed, horror, inhumanity, and suggestions of rape. The People’s Home Journal were quick to reject the story as well.
Burroughs wrote his friend and editor, Bob Davis, who said, “Can the war, Edgar.” The story was never published until it was included in the Guidry and Adams collection, Forgotten Tales of Love and Murder in 2001. You can also read it at https://www.erbzine.com/mag51/5109.html plus WWI Illustrations and Link in the ERBzie Promo Splash Bar: https://www.erbzine.com/cards/biblio/littledoorpromo.jpg
The drabble for today. Death and Dishonor, is 100 words of prose, written by Edgar Rice Burroughs near the beginning of the short story.
The officer approached her. His lips smiled but in his eyes was a terrifying light. Jeanne shrank away; but he seized both her wrists and then he strained her to him and covered her face with kisses.
DEATH AND DISHONOUR
The man whispered a few hoarse words into her ear that left her momentarily paralyzed by loathing and terror. Her face and neck flushed scarlet to the red shame of the thing he had said. From scarlet her face went very white and her great, dark eyes wide with terror.
"Come!" growled the officer; "it’s that or death -- but it’s that anyway."
DECEMBER V: 1-15 ILLUSTRATIONS COLLAGE
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Copyright 2023: Robert Allen Lupton
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