Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Extraordinary Adventures of Arsene Lupin, Gentleman Burglar

Arsène Lupin is a Master of Disguise, Art Aficionado, Antique Expert, Gentleman and Burglar. He also mops the floor with Sherlock Holmes from time to time. Created by Maurice Leblanc, Lupin was inspired by several other similar fictional characters of his day who were often a force for good, but usually on the wrong side of the law. He has been the inspiration for many books, films and television programs, including The Pink Panther films and the popular television show White Collar. They are mystery stories, where impossible crimes occur, and Lupin is famous for leaving no clues behind. With his swagger and gallic panache, Lupin sticks it to the man, usually a bovine millionaire or clueless aristocrat. 

Lupin was featured in 20 novels and 28 short stories by Leblanc, with the short stories collected into book form for a total of 24 books. The first story, "L'Arrestation d'Arsène Lupin", was published in the magazine 
Je sais tout on 15 July 1905.

At the end of the first book, Lupin meets the illustrious Sherlock Holmes. Leblanc like the idea of Lupin facing off agains the illustrious detective so much that he expanded the conflict with two larger stories for the next in the series. However, Conan Doyle raised a bit of a stink, and requested that Leblanc change the name of the detective. So Sherlock Holmes became Herlock Sholmes in Europe  and Holmlock Shears when the title was released in the U.S.. I know, right? Ouch. 

Now that the Sherlock Holmes copyright has long since expired, The Classic Tales Audiobooks' issue of Arsène Lupin vs. Sherlock Holmes uses the true name of the great detective. Thus preserving the author's original intention, (and saving the ears), of the listening public. 

The first novel, The Extraordinary Adventures of Arsène Lupin, Gentleman Burglar was released as 6 episodes through The Classic Tales Podcast, comprising Episodes 408-413. The episodes have now been remixed, separated into chapters, the commercials have been removed and the artwork added. The audiobook version is released in three formats: in mp3 files (192 kbps), as a single Normal AAC/m4b audiobook file, and as an HD AAD/m4b audiobook file. 

You can read more about Arsène Lupin by following this link to Wikipedia. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Download The Classic Tales Direct to iOS devices!

I love The Classic Tales, but I only have an iPad. I’m on the road, and I’d like to download an audiobook for the ride home. Does this sound familiar? Now, with a little help from some friends, you can download any title from The Classic Tales website without a computer.

Let’s face it, iPads, iPhones and iPods are great, right? But when it comes to audiobooks and music, Apple doesn’t like you to get your stuff from anywhere else. And so if you try to download an mp3 file, or an m4b audiobook file while using Safari on your iOS device, it will start streaming it in a window. No download options available. Nope. And even if you could download it, iTunes won’t recognize it.

Now, with a little finagling, we can set it up so that you can buy an audiobook from The Classic Tales website, download it and play it on your iPad, iPhone or other iOS device. These are the two things we’ve got to do: Download the file and Play it. Now, to do this, we need to pick up a couple apps at the good ol’ Apple App Store.

Get iCabMobile at the App Store by clicking on this text. 
First we need to get a new browser that will allow us to download material from the internet on our iOS device. After trying a slew of mediocre options, I discovered iCabMobile, and it is fast becoming my browser of choice for any of my mobile devices. Despite its unfortunate name, it is a very elegant and powerful browser with a very simple and clear interface.

Get KyBook at the App Store by clicking on this text
Second, we need an app that will read any mp3, m4b, AAC or other audio files we download that are literary in nature. We need to look away from Apple (iBooks) or Amazon (Kindle). Again, I've discovered a very elegant app that really fits the bill: KyBook Reader. This app will help keep track of the audiobooks you've downloaded. It also bookmarks larger files, allows you to speed up or slow down the playback, it has a timer feature, and a very nice interface that shows the artwork and chapter:
If your screen goes to sleep automatically and you are still listening to the audiobook, you can still pause the program on the iOS main screen. It's kind of perfect. And it's free. 

Side note: a nice consequence of taking the time to work outside these two giants, Apple and Amazon, is that now they aren't tracking your listening/reading habits. Bonus!

Okay, so now you've got these two new apps fresh on your iPad, and you're ready to give it a shot. Well, let's dive in! 

First, we need to buy an audiobook, right? Let's do this. Go in your browser (Safari or iCabMobile - it doesn't matter for the purchasing step)  to  Feel free to do a trial run with our FREE selections if you like. We're going to click on The Count of Monte Cristo, Part 1

Click on the "Add to Cart" button
to add the product to your Shopping cart. 

On the right is an image of what the website looks like on a mobile device. Tap on the "Add to Cart" button. This will add 1 copy of the title to your Shopping Cart. 

Then, tap on the "Check Out" button on the top right of your screen. Pretty simple stuff. 

NOTE: if you are one of our Financial Supporters, and have a $6 coupon code, please wait to enter it until after the next step (Login).

Next, kindly login to your account. Enter your email address and password. We have several redundant firewalls in place to ensure that everything is very secure. 

If you forgot your password, tap the blue text at the bottom, and we'll send it to you in an email. Super easy. 

Now that you're logged in, we're ready to submit your order. 

Financial Supporters: NOW is the time to enter your coupon code and save $6 off your order. This is a security feature to make sure that the coupon codes don't go rogue. They only work when the system identifies you. 

If everything looks OK, tap SUBMIT ORDER at the bottom of the screen. 

After a few minutes, you will receive an email with your download link. This will give you up to 10 times to access your download page within 120 hours. The time limit is a simple safety feature. If you EVER need to download your product again, or need more time, respond to the email and we'll reset your link. We want to make sure you get what you paid for! 

Now, on a computer, you would click the link and your desktop would open the downloads page in your default browser. But on your mobile device, it's different. Don't tap the link, and open it in Safari. 

Instead, "long tap" on the link in blue. By this I mean to touch the blue text, and keep your finger there until a popup window appears. 

This is what the popup window should look like. Your email app is asking you what you'd like to do with the link. Choose COPY. 

This will copy the link to the clipboard. Now you're ready to download the audiobook, using your NEW browser - iCabMobile. 

So, open up iCabMobile, and clear off the default web page by long tapping the default URL, then tapping the little "x" on the right of the window. This is basic with most all browsers. 

Then, "long tap" in the URL window, and choose "Paste" to paste in your download link. Choose the blue "GO" button at the bottom right of your screen. 

You will be directed to your downloads page. 

Long Tap until a popup window appears,
asking you what you'd like to do with this link.

Now we're cooking with gas! This is what your download page should look like. You have three options of how you'd like to download The Count of Monte Cristo, Part 1 - Audiobook, HD Audiobook, and mp3. 

Audiobook: the entire title as one m4b file. This is bookmarkable and very simple to keep track of. The quality matches the audiobooks you'd purchase from iTunes or Audible, which are 64 kbps. Solid choice. 

HD Audiobook: This option is similar to the Audiobook option, but the quality is 192 kbps. This means a larger file size, and a higher than CD quality product. 

mp3: This option downloads a zipped file of the audiobook, with a separate mp3 file that corresponds to each chapter in the audiobook. It can mean a lot of files to wrangle, and tends to not work well if you are downloading directly onto your device. If you're device has limited space, I'd suggest downloading the mp3 files on your computer, unzipping the files, importing them into iTunes, then only placing the files you'll listen to in a day onto your device. The mp3 files are all 192 kbps. 

When the popup window appears, choose DOWNLOAD

The arrow pointing downward is the DOWNLOADS module in the iCabMobile browser. Once the circle is completed, your audiobook has finished downloading. 

Tap the arrow when the download is complete. 

Once you tap the arrow/DOWNLOADS module, you'll see everything you've downloaded in iCabMobile. 

Tap the title you'd like to listen to, and iCabMobile will pull up several options for you. 

Tap "Open file in another App". 

A series of App icons will  appear in a new popup window. Scroll to the right until you see "Open in KyBook". 

Tap "Open in KyBook"

KyBook Reader will then open, and display your downloaded audiobook. 

In KyBook Reader, you will find your book under the DOWNLOADS section. 

Tap the image of the title you have downloaded. 

You did it! Tap the PLAY button (center triangle), and start listening to your new audiobook! 

Now you can:

Set a timer when you'd like it to stop. 

See the number of the current Chapter.

Increase or decrease the speed of the playback. 

Close the program, open it tomorrow, and start right where you left off! 

If your screen goes to sleep, you can still access the controls on the lock screen. 

Well, this was a long tutorial, but now that you're set up, you can download audiobooks from The Classic Tales Website anytime, anywhere, and listen to them instantly. 

Thank you for your support and patience with this workaround. Hopefully this will help even more folks enjoy the treasures found at I'm working to get all my titles set up as single file audiobooks. If you run into any trouble, please send me an email at I can hook you up with a single audiobook file within 24 hours. And as I mentioned, if you ever need more download time, it's no trouble. Your products NEVER expire. 


Friday, November 22, 2013

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle All November! - Free Release Through The Classic Tales Podcast

During the month of November, we have all been enjoying stories from The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

 These are the first three stories in the series, Silver Blaze, The Yellow Face, and The Stockbroker's Clerk.  B.J. knew we hadn't had mysteries in a while, and we needed a break from all the horror stories.  I am delighted, as I truly enjoy following Holmes and Watson on their adventures.  All of these stories are masterfully written.  They are complex, witty and often break the pattern of a basic mystery.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was born in 1859 in Scotland.  He was a multi-faceted man.  After a rough childhood dealing with an alcoholic and insane father, he was educated at a Jesuit school in England, where he had trouble adjusting to the rigid lifestyle. About these experiences, he wrote, "Perhaps it was good for me that the times were hard, for I was wild, full blooded and a trifle reckless. But the situation called for energy and application so that one was bound to try to meet it. My mother had been so splendid that I could not fail her." 

Afterwards, he became a medical doctor and traveled overseas on at least two vessels.  It was during this time that he began writing short stories.  It was a Sherlock Holmes story that helped him break through, "A Study in Scarlet".  During his life as a writer, he wrote mysteries, worked on historical novels, science fiction, romance and even plays.

"Silver Blaze", the first story we heard, revolves around the mysterious disappearance of a famous race horse and the inexplicable death of his trainer. When you listen, keep your ears out for the famous phrase "curious incident of the dog in the night-time," I don't want to spoil the fun, but this is the crux of the matter.

"The Yellow Face" is intriguing because it is one of the few times when Sherlock makes an incorrect deduction.  Not to mention it is rather sentimental in nature, featuring a couple of mixed race, a topic that was rather progressive for the time.

Finally, we have "The Stockbroker's Clerk." In this story, a man is hired to do a menial job and is getting paid out of proportion to his duties.  He finds this situation suspect, so hires Holmes to find out if there is anything amiss.

In keeping with the Blog tradition of finding the best renditions of our stories, you need to check out the movies starring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce as Holmes and Watson respectively.  There are 14 movies, all set after WWII.  You can find a wonderful box set of the here.  Basil Rathbone is one of the best Sherlock Holmes in film, and also the man after whom B.J. named his eldest son.  Another excellent Holmes is Jeremy Brett who played the role for the Granada Television series during the 80s and 90s.  Check the listings to your local PBS station, you are bound to find it playing soon.

If you want something more modern, check out the BBC's Sherlock, staring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman.  Here, television writer Steven Moffat of Dr. Who fame re-imagines the cases keeping the pace and deduction qualities of the originals, while updating the adventures themselves.

If you'd like more Sherlock Holmes, please go on over to our website and pick up a copy of The Adventures of Sherlock Homes.

Join us next month, as we start our Christmas stories!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Edgar Allan Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado" Free Release Through The Classic Tales Podcast

What better way to cap a Halloween Scare Fest than with a strange murder confession from Edgar Allan Poe, as B.J. Harrison brings us "The Cask of Amontillado," a tale of murder by wine. Or rather, the promise of wine.

As you may remember, this was the first story B.J. recorded for The Classic Tales Podcast. If you still have your old audio copy, it should be fun to compare it to today's production so you can see how far B.J. has come.

"The Cask of Amontillado" is one of Poe's most popular stories, published in 1846 in the magazine Godey's Lady's Book, which was at the time, the most widely read magazine.  Many critics consider this a 'perfect' story.  It may well be the perfect crime, unless the whomever Monrtesor is telling this story to goes to the authorities!

In looking around the web for interesting takes on this story, I ran into two different productions.  One of them is a rap song, evidently produced to get school kids introduced to the story and some of the vocabulary.  If you are a teacher, it may just come in handy.

The other is a little YouTube video of a half an hour movie based on the story.  It is quite well done.  I particularly enjoyed Montresor's southern gentleman accent.  Give it a look, and see what you think.

I'm still not quite sure what exactly Fortunato (most unhappy name) did to get what he suffered at the hands of Montresor, but I wonder if he deserved it.  

If you enjoyed this story, do yourself a favor and pick up The Edgar Allan Poe Collection today!  

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

We Interrupt The Classic Tales Blog for SCULPTURE!

As some of you may know, one of  B.J.'s many talents is scenery sculpture and scenic painting.  And Halloween is showtime!  Here are some pictures, plus a little narrative from our guide through literature about B.J.'s latest  adventure outside books!  He promises more when the park opens tonight. Hands down, my favorite is the blue gargoyle which so freaked out the patron!

Here is B.J.:

 Well, here are some photos of some of the work I'm doing right now. Apart from the Classic Tales Podcast, David Copperfield and another audiobook I've commissioned, I'm working at Evermore Theme Park. This is preliminary work for a 30 acre theme park, which will be the largest Haunt in the US. It will be in Pleasant Grove, Utah. A good friend of mine, Cory Clawson, sculpted these pieces. They are cast of fiberglass and polyurethane. I painted the gargoyles to look like blue granite. The shrouded woman has a bronze patina. The client wanted them to look really aged. I used different scenic art methods to achieve the different results. For both pieces, the approach was to first create the look of the original material, (granite or bronze) and age them back from there. As you can see, the gargoyles started white, then blue, then black. As you can imagine, when they saw me start with the baby blue, the client was really worried. But they turned out okay.

I concur!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Bram Stoker's "The Squaw." - Free Release Through The Classic Tales Podcast

B.J. Harrison and The Classic Tales continue the Halloween Fright Extravaganza this week with a Bram Stoker's short story called "The Squaw."  B.J. found this story when he picked up a book of short stories on a recent trip to the Shakespearean Festival with his wife.  I wonder if they slept that night.

It is a story of a couple in the midst of their honeymoon who join forces with a colorful American cowboy in their tour of Germany. Jokes turn into accidents, and accidents engender thoughts of hate and revenge in the mind of a black cat. By the time the party tours the medieval torture chamber, tensions run very high, indeed.

You know Bram Stoker best as the author of Dracula, the vampire who wanted to move from Transylvania to England.  But if you are a fellow avid listener of The Classic Tales, you also know him as from his short tale,  Dracula's Guest. Dracula's Guest was originally slated to appear in the novel, but was cut and later released as a short story.

Here is an interesting fact.  If you want to visit Mr. Stoker's remains, you can go to Golders Green Crematorium, where you can also find Peter Sellers.  I doubt very much Mr. Sellers ever appeared in a movie based on any of Mr. Stoker's creations, although Stoker did manage the Lyceum Theater for a long time.

Also, please don't forget to check out Classic Scary Tales Vol. 1 and download it before the price goes up!

Happy Halloween from all of us at The Classic Tales!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

William Hope Hodgson's "The House Among the Laurels" - Free Release Through the Classic Tales Podcast

Friday's latest installment of Fear in The Classic Tales was William Hope Hodgson's "The House Among the Laurels."  This story is part a chapter from a larger book called Carnacki.  Carnacki is also the name of the lead character, a ghost hunter.  In this story, our hero and his aids must investigate the horrific tales surrounding an Irish mansion. Once the blood begins to drip, people begin to die...

A big shout out to listener Vincenzo Bonitatibus for suggesting the week's author to B.J. Harrison

 Hodgson was quite a character.  For a while, he owned a gym, where he trained cops.  He was also on stage with Houdini at least once, and put the cuffs on the magician.  Later Houdini claimed that Hodgson has purposely sabotaged the cuffs so they were particularly hard to open. 

Hodgson spent much of his youth at sea, first as an apprentice and later as a mate.  His time at sea not only inspired many of his stories, but was also the cause for his interest in fitness.  You see, he was heavily bullied by other seamen, so decided to buff up a bit.

I hope you are enjoying B.J. Harrison's scary tales this month!  But if you need more, please check out Classic Scary Tales, Vol. 1. and enjoy over 15 hours of your favorite frightening writers, such as H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe, and Mary Shelly, all narrated by your favorite person!