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Musings from the Edge of Forever

Note: This blog expresses only the opinions of the blog owner,
and does not represent the opinion of any organization or blog
that is associated with RONIN ON EMPTY.

The Road Goes Ever On

Charlie Chan Takes a Siesta

“Very old Chinese wise man once say, madness twin brother of genius because each live in world created by own ego — one sometimes mistaken for other.”

– Charlie Chan (Warner Oland) in Charlie Chan at the Opera (1936)

In addition to updating this blog and writing the occasional review for, a lot of my time has been dedicated to completing my doctoral dissertation in a timely fashion. To date, I’m about two-hundred-and-fifty pages into a first draft with at least three more chapters and an epilogue to go. I’ve mentioned the content of my dissertation before, so I won’t reiterate the details here, aside from saying that part of its focus has everything to do with the fictional character, Charlie Chan.

During this intensive research process, I have read every single Charlie Chan novel ever written (even those not written by original author Earl Derr Biggers), heard every surviving radio show, seen all of the Alfred Andriola comic strip, and perused every issue of the short-lived Charlie Chan Mystery Magazine. On top of that, I’ve watched all thirty-nine episodes of the 1957 television series, the sixteen episodes that comprise the Hannah Barbara cartoon, the never-before-released-on-home-video TV movie, and the final 1981 crapfest that ostensibly ended the franchise.


Note the Aiieee!! in Chan’s dialogue balloon.

And, of course, I’ve also sat through every Charlie Chan movie made by Fox and Monogram Pictures, including the Spanish language film, Eran Trece, and those that have yet to be released on DVD. The only Chan films I haven’t seen, well, nobody else has either — they don’t exist any more. But of those six films considered lost, I’ve read the screenplays. I’ve even gotten my hands on some super-secret stuff that nobody has ever written about, let alone knew existed. So unless someone is willing to donate the remaining Charlie Chan comics that I have been unable to purchase because they were well out of my price range (we’re talking hundred to thousands of dollars here, folks), then I think it’s safe to say I’ve come to the end of the road on this leg of my research journey.*


“End of the Road” is a 1992 Grammy Award-winning song recorded by Boyz II Men. It has absolutely nothing to do with Charlie Chan or Calvin’s scholarly research.

I’m not trying to brag; just pointing out that I’ve been an incredibly busy person in 2010 and will be in 2011. Believe it or not, I’ve still got more work to do, and as with pretty much any scholarly endeavor, the road goes ever on. There’s always more to read, always more to see, always more to write. Unlike my unhealthy obsession with Hong Kong cinema, Star Wars, and various childish endeavors that I’ve maintained into adulthood, there’s a very different set of motivations that drive my exhaustive and meticulous consumption of Charlie Chan paraphernalia.

Like I said, I’ve been lucky enough to stumble onto some really interesting treasures, and I hope to share them with you in this space. Still, it’s hard to know when it’s prudent to hold back, as my ultimate hope is to get this thing published, and I’d hate for someone else to swoop in and capitalize on all the legwork I’m doing — so much so I’m afraid to even tease some of the lost and forgotten texts I’ve recovered. I guess I’ll just have to leave you all in suspense — for now.


*My apologies to my Facebook friends for repeating this gag. I just couldn’t resist.

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