Old Time Radio at OTRCat!

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Speaking of city-destroying monsters, we of Chez 'Vark are in celebration mode. Saturday is The Dread Dormomoo's and my something-somethingth anniversary. We are celebrating on Friday however (which is a great departure for me, because I get the hives over people opening their presents on Christmas Eve), because our preferred Japanese restaurant is not open for lunch on Saturday, and we prefer their lunch menu. Lest you think it is my inner Jack Benny talking, the food does seem to be better, and there is a larger variety, with things like bento boxes and such. This is where we learned to eat sushi, and enjoy it (de rigueur for anime fans, you know). Loen, our youngest, is a waiter there, and will likely be serving us. Nice.

I have gotten her a...ahhhh, you thought you had me! What? You think she reads this train wreck?
Well, you'll just have to wait.
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As much as I love anime, my real entertainment love is Old Time Radio. The theater of the mind beats anything on any screen today, big or less-than-big. The works of Arch Oboler match any big-screen gore-fest, because the horror is in your head. (Click the link and go to the Internet Archives for downloads to whet your appetite.) Go to Jon at OTRCat for inexpensive and complete MP3 collections. The link is at the top of the page. Here is an example of the horror quotient from Lights Out, the series that established Oboler as heir-apparent of Willis Cooper:

Wyllis Cooper, who created, wrote, and produced it, was then a 36-year-old staffer in Chicago's NBC Studios. Cooper created his horror "by raiding the larder." For the purposed of Lights Out sound effects, people were what they ate. The sound of a butcher knife rending a piece of uncooked pork was, when accompanied by shrieks and screams, the essence of murder to a listener alone at midnight. Real bones were broken - spareribs snapped with a pipe wrench. Bacon in a frypan gave a vivid impression of a body just electrocuted. And the cannibalism effect was actually a zealous actor. Gurgling and smacking his lips as he slurped up a bowl of spaghetti. Cabbages sounded like human heads when chopped open with a cleaver, and carrots had the pleasant resonance of fingers being lopped off. Arch Oboler's celebrated tale of a man turned inside-out by a demonic fog was accomplished by soaking a rubber glove in water and stripping it off at the microphone while a berry basket was curshed at the same instant. The listener saw none of this. The listener saw carnage and death.

Cooper left the show in 1936 and Oboler was given the job. Oboler lost no time establishing himself as the new master of the macabre. Between May 1936 and July 1938, he wrote and directed more than 100 Lights Out plays.


Comedy is amazing as well. The Jack Benny Program was a masterpiece in every sense of the word. Half-a-century and more before Seinfeld, his was a self-consistent alternate universe of lunacy, a radio show about a radio show. There is nothing funnier, unless it's Fibber McGee and Molly, or The Great Gildersleeve. AS funny...as funny.

If you enjoyed cartoons in the 50's and 60's, you were a beneficiary of OTR actors. Standards like Bud Collyer and Jackson Beck (Superman, both radio and cartoon), Sheldon Leonard (Jack Benny's racing tout, and Linus the Lionharted), Kenny Delmar (Sen. Claghorn on Fred Allen's show, and The Hunter on The King and Odie, Commander McBragg), Mel Blanc, Alan Reed, and Bea Benaderet to name a few.

With long drives and high cable rates, go OTR. You will have wonderful entertainment, from comedy to drama to fantasy, horror and wonderful science fiction. Jon will feed your habit for little coin.

You can trust this Aardvark. He knows.

5 comments:

Ted Amadeus said...

LOL...I love those old shows too. That plate looks like it holds pieces of those creatures featured in the horror flicks!

The Aardvark said...

Ted, that's the dirty little secret about sushi. The monsters keep coming back, so there is an endless supply!

I wonder if they serve Cream of Gamera soup...?

Michael W said...

Remember . . . Gamera is the friend of children everywhere!

The Aardvark said...

Yes. A tasty, tasty friend....
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Your conspirator Kez suckered us into watching "Big Man Japan". "Surreal" is good word for it. There are others, but I don't normally indulge.
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Perhaps you have a point about Gamera. Maybe we need to have him squaring off against Pedo Bear.
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Have you seen "Gamera the Brave"?

Michael W said...

I haven't seen "Gamera The Brave" yet. I am way the heck behind on my kaiju (a situation which Kez is trying to correct. "Conspirator" certainly describes him). Then again, I still consider "Atragon" and "The Mysterians" to be state of the art, so what do I know?