Saturday, June 21, 2014

Gunschmuck Sampler

Click below for a sample of Gunschmuck.

(Trying things out, hoping they work correctly!)

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Some Stuff That's Actually NEW

Awright, y'all bin wonderin' wot in blazes bin goin' on with tho ol' TOTM blog of late - 'n' it's bin a whole lotta nuthin', frankly!

Well, truth be told, real life gets in the way of the fun stuff plenty often.  Thank goodness!  Because then there might be no new things to mention on the old blog...

Like our newest endeavor, Gunschmuck.

Gunschmuck is, of course, a "Gunsmoke" parody.  Now, I mean the RADIO "Gunsmoke", not the TV "Gunsmoke"...not that there's anything wrong with the TV version, besides most of the scripts being completely lifted from the radio series, and the incredible radio actors (William Conrad, Parley Baer, Howard McNear, and Georgia Ellis) ungraciously passed over for any tv roles.

The "schmuck" in Gunschmuck means "foolish" or "stupid", NOT the original outmoded Yiddish vulgarism, so please - no angry letters.  The whole concept is about turning the well-known characters inside-out, and filling the rest with totally stupid absurdist humor.  Running jokes.  Tripping and falling jokes.  Bad gags.  Puns.  Nothing very sophisticated, here.  Hear?

And that's all reflected in the graphics: some of my favorite "stupid humor" artists have been melded into typical Gunsmokian old-west for Moe, Larry, Curly, Jerry Lewis, Lucy, Lloyd & Harry from "Dumb & Dumber", Bob & Ray, and so on.  By the way, we're NOT playing these characters in the Gunschmuck shows, just using their images to convey what we're doing: creating fun, idiotic humor that just about anyone can enjoy, even years on down the road.

In fact, a Mr Martin Grams Jr has heard the first two shows, and seemed to enjoy them QUITE A BIT - check out his review HERE.

Thanks so much, Marty!

Also, at the 2014 Cincinnati Nostalgia Convention, the OTRAOKE booth took up more "real life" time.  OTRaoke is the red-headed stepchild of Old Time Radio and karaoke, designed to let anyone become the star of their favorite OTR show...not sure just who this old guy is standing by the booth, but he sure looks happy to be there!  Maybe he tried the newest otraoke show, a totally severe episode of the 1930's police procedural adventure, "Police Headquarters".  The police use threats, violence, and a rubber hose to "get their man" in this episode - they even go back on their word, cancel the plea bargain, and arrest the stoolie who helped them, at the end!  Whee!

In fact, a certain David (BookDave) Thompson gave this one a try, and his father BookSteve gave the whole shebang a nice review HERE.

Thanks so much BookThompsons!


There are three more Gunschmuck scripts sitting here on the desk in front of me, each more stupider than the last - they WILL be turned into full-fledged audio shows (no matter HOW much you all wish they won't!).

And plus also some more other stuff, too.

Watch out!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Martians And Radio

I always loved these guys.  Here they are, just like today's youth, discovering radio for the very first time...

Saturday, October 13, 2012

"I Can't Get ANY Stations Now!"

You may have noticed that you can no longer play any of the TOTM audio files that were posted here - totally my fault.

My apologies...the free service that hosted my audio went, well, non-free.  So I need to quit dawdling and choose another place to host my files.

ANYWAY, you might enjoy some time at THIS COOL SITE, where I got the beautiful graphic of the Zenith tuner shown above.  It certainly makes me sorry to think that beautiful design work such as this is no longer being done...

Saturday, March 31, 2012

OTRaoke - "The Voice Of Death"

So - what is "OTRaoke"?

Well, of course, "OTR" is an acronym for Old Time Radio.

"Karaoke" is a portmanteau of Japanese kara "empty", and okesutora "orchestra" - a form of interactive entertainment in which amateur singers sing along with recorded music using a microphone and public address system. The music is typically a well-known pop song minus the lead vocal. It is also a term used by recording engineers translated as "empty track" meaning there is no vocal track.

The acronymical-portmanteau "OTRaoke" means an entire Old Time Radio show (including music and sound effects) recorded without the star. Performers read the role of the star from a script, and their performance is superimposed on the recording, creating a show in which THEY ARE THE STAR. They take home a recording of their performance on cd, play it for friends and family, and become stars themselves! And for whatever reason, I thought that OTRaoke had a better ring to it than KaraOTR...

The Theatre Of The Mindless group has made up a handful of OTRaoke shows, which will be featured at this year's Cincinnati Old Time Radio Convention. Here is an excerpt from one of those shows - you can give it a try right now! Simply play the audio file, and read the lines labeled "Blanche". Blanche has been killing people at a ski resort (even though Blanche is evil, she's the star...and who doesn't like to play the villain?), and now she is feeling menaced by the ghost of one of her victims! You may want to right click and choose "Open In New Tab" or "Open In New Window" so this page remains active (so you can read the script below!)...

Link to file: Sample-VoiceOfDeath

You can stream directly from the player at the link, or download the file from the spot just below the player. If you download it, and open up the file info, you will see that the lines of the script are embedded within the mp3 file.

Here is the script for the sample:


When the fifth day dawned bright and clear, Dan suggested a long ski run, and Blanche eagerly agreed. After skiing a few minutes, she called out...

(nervous) Dan! Dan, we - we aren't going through the canyon, are we?!?

Why, of course we are.

D - Dan, let's go around it this time.

That's three miles further on! What's wrong with going through the canyon? Oh, uh, is it because that's where Gerald died?

Yes, I - I can't do it Dan.

Now, look, I - I hope you aren't brooding about Gerald's death, Blanche. You mustn't brood.

I - I - I'm not brooding, but I – Dan, have you heard a voice calling outside the house the last few nights?

A voice?

Yes! I've waked up several times thinking I heard Gerald's voice, calling out in the storm!

Oh, Blanche, look - you - you heard the wind howling. Now come on, will you? We've got to get through the canyon, that's the only way to counter your nerves.


That a girl! Now only another couple of hundred yards and we'll be out of the canyon.

Oh, let's hurry Dan! This is where it happened.

Come on along, then, if you want to hurry.

(Ghost voice) Blanche...Blanche!

It's's Gerald's voice!

(a little distant) Blanche, come on.

(ghost voice) Blanche...Blanche...this is where you killed me!

Oh no! No!

(further distant) Blanche, why have you stopped? Come on!

(ghost voice) I'm dead, killed me!


Please be aware that this version of OTRaoke at the convention is to be headphones-only: no P.A. speakers, no audience. Your performance will be recorded to cd, and you get the cd. Maybe in the future it will turn into more of a real karaoke style event, where an audience can listen and cheer and jeer (fun, right?).

So there you have it - a mixture of mid-century entertainment with 21st-century technology! Hopefully, it will be an interesting addition to the convention! Please drop by the booth, say "Hi!", and give it a try!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

1939 "War Of the Worlds" Article

Astounding Outcome Of The "Martian Scare"!

This is an article from the February 1939 issue of Radio Mirror about the effects of Orson Welles' phenomenal WOTW broadcast!

I love the way they use a photo of actor Bill Johnstone as The Shadow here...

Don't you all remember how you used to sneak spoonfuls of tasty, delicious Fletcher's Castoria castor oil when mom and dad weren't looking? Mmmmm...

Although mostly fluff (and surpisingly devoid of anger), the ending of the article does mention the "radio censorship ghost", a new awareness for this country to prepare against war, a change in news broadcasts, and radio's exodus from Hollywood. Interesting and insightful points, given that this story was probably written only about two months after the WOTW broadcast!

Maybe THIS picture should have been in the article (the REAL Orson Welles as the Shadow!) -

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Little TOTM'ers

SO - after months of no posts (sorry!)...

My previous post was regarding some work we did at a local middle school, getting some of the youths a bit acquainted with a nearly-extinct artform: "Old Time Radio".

During the summer, we did another OTR class/demonstration for students who were lucky enough to be taking summer classes - and again, as before, almost none of youths knew what on earth Old Time Radio was. Well, as it turned out, there actually WAS one kid there who knew about OTR, and was a pretty big fan. But as for the rest of the class...absolutely no idea. Well, we fixed that! Now they know a Radio Orphan Annie decoder from a hole in the ground (which is where you can find ROA decoders, if you dig in the right places!).

Well, long story longer, I'd carted my equipment (microphones and scripts and sound effects and decoders and so on) home, and didn't quite get to putting it all away immediately. And one Friday night, when my nieces and nephew dropped over to the house for a sleep-over, that "pile of stuff" got some interested looks...

Talk about different art projects to keep the kids busy!

They enjoyed digging through the mountain of sound effects objects (trying all of them along the way, of course), and picking out the ones that would be used in the goofy horror show we'd picked out - "The Strange Doctor Weird - The Voice Of Death!". After I did a little coaching about using different voices, turning pages quietly, and microphone technique, we picked out roles, highlighted the scripts, did a single read-through, and then recorded this (which includes editing and added music and extra pre-recorded sound effects):

WOW! I actually got the kids to read! And act! And learn a handful of new vocabulary words! And have fun! And they even helped me put away my sound effects stuff, too! What a bunch of good kids.

There's no reason for OTR to ever die. It just needs to keep being introduced.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

OTR In School

At the end of January this year , I had the pleasure of giving an Old Time Radio presentation to the students at Fremont Middle School.

Of course, the picture above is not a picture of them, it just sits well on a blog about OTR. If you guys send me a picture of your classes, I'll be glad to put it up here.

Their teacher, Mrs Begg, wanted something to "get the students excited about Old Time Radio", as she was planning on using OTR in the classroom. OTR can, of course, encompass history, science, speech, acting, music, literature, even shop (hey, somebody's got to build those prop doors and stuff, right?).

So I brought a huge assortment of our sound effects equipment (which is always a crowd-pleaser), a giant 16" transcription disc, an old Zenith table radio, and a few pictures of TOTM and Orson Welles...what do you mean, that doesn't sound exciting?!?

We went over the War Of The Worlds broadcast, which almost none of them had heard of. War Of The Worlds equals Tom Cruise, these days (argh!). I think that maybe they thought I was putting them on - that so many people believed the show was real, but once I pointed out that there were very few avenues for 1938 listeners to do any fact-checking, it seemed a bit more likely.

*sigh* Even the rotary-dial telephone on the sound effects prop table seemed like a device from another planet to some of them.

I also brought a set of scripts for a TOTM comedy ad, "Fancy That! Home Hair Waving System By LyeCo", all pre-highlighted for the kids to do a (dreaded) "COLD READ". They weren't the least bit phased by a cold (totally unprepared) read, as evidenced by this recording:

Some of them are ready to go pro right now!

I did leave them with a bit of mystery too, discussing the famous Lights Out show "The Dark", in which is heard the horrific sound of BODIES BEING TURNED INSIDE OUT. I mentioned how, when I started in the hobby, I had heard of the show and the awful sound effect. And when I went to a Chicago nostalgia store to purchase the tape, the saleslady lit up, "Oh, yes, this is the famous one with the bodies turned inside out. Did you know that they used ______________________ to get that sound effect?"...which, of course, had ruined it for me - every time I heard the show, I didn't hear bodies being turned inside out, I heard the actual sound effect, which was a pretty goofy thing if you knew what it was. "What was it?" "Yeah, how did they do that effect?"..."Come on, if I told you, then I'd ruin the show for you, too. I don't want to do that." I heard a few kids talking to one another after the class, saying they had to find that "Inside Out" show. Cool.

This was great fun for me - I think that the kids really enjoyed learning about this nearly-lost artform. Mrs Begg says she'd like another presentation for her summer school classes in would be our pleasure!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Arch Oboler's "Cat Wife"

From the February 1939 issue of "Radio Mirror" magazine, an adaptation of "Cat Wife" from Arch Oboler's horror series "Lights Out":

...same opening warning as the radio show (though geared for readers, rather than listeners) - if you scare easily, don't read this story!

"Ironized Yeast" was the sponsor for "Lights Out"...I think I've listened to all of the episodes, but I don't recall ever hearing that the yeast tablets could miraculously grow breasts!

Sometimes a salute is just a salute.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Death Of A Salesman

Here's a head's up about an upcoming show...NOT a radio show, but a real live theater piece involving several TOTM members and alumni! Takes place in the late '40's or early '50's, too.

Death Of A Salesman
When: Starts Oct. 8. Fridays, 8 p.m., Saturdays, 8 p.m. and Sun., Oct. 17, 3 p.m. Continues through Oct. 23
Phone: 847-360-4740
Price: $20/ Student $10/ Sr & Military $15

Death of a Salesman is presented by Bowen Park Theatre company and runs from October 8 through October 23. Tickets are $20 for adults , $15 Seniors & Military and $10 for Students. Death of a Salesman is a modern tragedy about the “common man”. This Pulitzer Prize winning play, written by Arthur Miller, has as the main character, an old salesman named Willie Loman. The play explores his family relationships and the consequences of his decisions and behavior that have left him unhappy and pathetic. Directed by Shawn Fitzgerald. The Lynn Schornick Theatre at the Jack Benny Center is a charming, intimate venue that involves and engages its' audiences like no large theatre can!

Jack Benny Center For The Arts
39 Jack Benny Dr, Bowen Park
Waukegan IL 60087

What are TOTM'ers doing in this show?
Acting: Laura Jansen, Mark Kettner, and Stephen Jansen
Directing: Shawn Fitzgerald
Costuming: Virginia Fitzgerald
Sound Designing: Stephen Jansen
Stage Managing: Christopher Wild
JBC Artistic Director: Jason Clark
There In Spirit: Bob Juenger ("Hi, Bob!")

Be sure to check out the show - it's going to be a big hit!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Ray Bradbury's 90th Birthday

Sure, it's short notice - but if you enjoy Theatre Of The Mindless (many of whom were born and bred in Waukegan) and/or enjoy that other Waukegan native, prolific author Ray Bradbury, be sure to visit the Waukegan Public Library on Sunday the 22nd.

All afternoon will be Bradbury readings and trolley rides visiting special local Bradbury-related landmarks, and later, even cake and ice cream - all in honor of Mr B's ninetieth birthday!

We hope to see you there!

TOTM will be doing a few short stories of his (as old time radio drama, of course), and the entire batch of festivities is free. You can register for the trolley rides HERE.

For more info:
Main Library 128 North County St. Waukegan, IL 60085 (847) 623-2041

We hope to see you there!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Lost "Duffy's Tavern" Found In Cincy!

Here's a "lost" episode of Duffy's Tavern (no audio exists of this show), copied from original scripts by Derek Tague, and performed by a slew of talented amateurs, including a "Theatre Of The Mindless" member as Finnegan (I think it's the stupid-sounding guy in the hat)!

Most of the script is pretty funny, especially Steven Thompson's character Archie, but unless you are a supreme devotee of pre-1950's opera, the show's punchline may leave you a bit flat.

Still, any port in a storm, and this "Duffy" was only heard on the night it was originally broadcast - never since, until now.

Another TOTM'er Wins Award!

Here's our own Laura Jansen, winning the Dave Warren Award (which is given for outstanding work done in Old Time Radio re-creations) at the 2010 Cincinnati Old Time Radio Convention.

What a great chuckle from the audience as Don Ramlow (the presenter, and director of the Cincy re-creations) says the name of our group, "Theatre Of The Mindless".

In fact, this year, Laura decided to take some time off from performing at the Cincy Con (awww!). She was the most surprised person in the room when she won (the rest of us know how great she is already)!

Congratulations, Laura!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

ScriptFrenzy Winner!

One of us made it to 100 pages on April 29th - the finish line for the ScriptFrenzy contest, a day early! WOOHOO!

Watch (listen) for "Drive-Thru", a comedy-mystery story (sort of "Clerks" meets "Rear Window") coming "soon"!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Trying Out ScriptFrenzy

Yup - one of the secrets of producing new material is to actually WRITE SOME. And the secret to writing some SIT DOWN AND WRITE SOME!

No excuses, no tough rules: during the month of April, you write a 100-page script.

There. That's it. Three and a third pages a day, give or take. What could be simpler?

A few of us in TOTM are giving it a try.

Later, you may be able to hear the stories here (let's HOPE!)...gosh, they're gonna be long, since a hundred pages ends up running about a hundred minutes.

I figure if I edit out everything that isn't absolutely top-notch in my story, I should have a solid thirteen minutes of excellent audio drama.