Friday, October 30, 2009

War Of The Worlds (excerpt)

Here's an excerpt of "War Of the Worlds", done at the Waukegan Public Library a few years ago. This one was received very well - in fact, since we played period music before the show to help set the mood, and we "interrupted" the music with this newscast, we stayed very much in character with the original broadcast...and keeping in mind of our original TOTM goals, we slipped in a tiny bit of historical truth along with the entertainment.


Friday, October 16, 2009

Kazoo Factory

Here's the ol' TOTM'ers doing a bit of Bob and Ray - Wally Ballou visits a kazoo factory!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Be A Green Lama Club Member!

Here is a nice big scan of a 1940's Green Lama Club card. Print it out, sign it, and enjoy all of the extended privileges! I'm going to have to find and post the secret code key, though, so you'll be able to understand any instructions the Green Lama may send to you...

You DO understand that once you are entrusted with the secret code and all those great club privileges, you will be expected to fulfill certain...responsibilities? The Green Lama will contact you when he needs you. Be ready.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Some OTR Samples

Here is a zip file of a few short OTR samples, recorded at different bitrates and frequencies (just paste the link into your address bar and download, then unzip):

All are MONO, of course. I think that my favorite is 80kbts/22hhz. You listen and decide.


Thank you!

MANC Convention

Be sure not to miss the coolest convention there is for OTR fans - the Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention! August 27-29, Clarion Hotel, Aberdeen, Maryland. Not only Old Time Radio, but tons of cool old stuff: cars, movies, posters, comic books, magazines, cartoons, collectibles, books, an inflatable drive-in (!) and REAL LIVE TV AND MOVIE STARS!

This year:

The Dukes of Hazzard
The Twilight Zone
Have Gun - Will Travel
Forbidden Planet (1956)


Time Tunnel

Barnaby Jones

Miss America, 1955

All About Eve (1950)
Tom Sawyer (1973)
Academy Award winning
actress for her role in

A Gentleman's Agreement (1947)

Route 66
Wagon Train
Playhouse 90
The Wild, Wild West
Academy Award nominee for

McHale's Navy
The Twilight Zone
The Poseidon Adventure
(the original 1972 classic)
The Untouchables
Captain Video (TV series)
Tom Corbett, Space Cadet

A Family Affair
Tom Sawyer (1973)
Green Acres

Willy Wonka and the
Chocolate Factory

Katrin, star of TV's Mama
(a.k.a. I Remember Mama)
Betty on radio's Archie Andrews


Saturday, August 1, 2009

Life On the Radio Wave

Here's some single-panel comic strips by "Pinto" Colvig from 1922. This was when radio was really beginning to hit BIG: it was brand-new technology - exciting, unknown, and which happened to fall nicely under that huge umbrella of "things that men like to do" (building / tinkering / climbing / mechanical / electronic stuff)...

Amazing how much work people would do in order to get a little free entertainment!

This creator, Vance DeBar "Pinto" Colvig, was a newspaper cartoonist when he wasn't joined up with the circus, or playing off-key clarinet on the vaudeville circuit. He worked on creating some of the earliest animated cartoons, was the voice of Walt Disney characters Goofy and Pluto and the ("Snow White") dwarves Grumpy and Sleepy and ("Three Little Pigs") Practical Pig, some of the Munchkins in "The Wizard Of Oz", Gabby in "Gulliver's Travels", and Bluto in "Popeye The Sailor". The Disney artists even used his overly-expressive face as models for the animated characters!

He co-wrote the song "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf".

He was the original "voice" of Jack Benny's Maxwell automobile, the hiccuping horse on Dennis Day, and several voices on Amos 'n' Andy.

He was also the ORIGINAL Bozo The Clown.

A lifelong smoker (Shades of Bob Bell and Krusty the Clown), he was one of the pioneers in advocating warning labels about cancer risk on cigarette packages.

He died of lung cancer in 1967.

Friday, June 26, 2009

A Neat Find!

Okay, plenty of OTR buffs have a few 16-inch transcription discs...Theatre Of The Mindless puts several up for the audience to see, when we put on a show. I am in no way a TD collector - especially since I don't even own a transcription turntable to play them, I just have a short stack of mediocre shows with a few cool labels.

But just the other day, while I was going through the discs, pulling them out of their protective manila sleeves and checking them out, I noticed THIS disc. An AFRS recording: "Boston Symphony Part 5" on side 1, and on side 2 - this neat etched/pressed/bas-relief which includes big 3-inch letters "RCA Victor", the RCA logo, and the Nipper dog listening to his master's voice. The background is a network of circular spiderwebs.

It took several tries to get it to photograph well, as it is just molded into the disc surface, but I think this view shows it off very well (click the picture for a bigger version).

This disc isn't going back into the sleeve, it's going up on the wall!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Thethethe Planetanetanet Mananan...

Here's one of our takes on the excellent "Planet Man"...juvenile radio scifi adventure just doesn't get any better than this stuff!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

New Member Of Cap's Flight Patrol

I am now a card-carrying (okay, medal-carrying) member of Captain Midnight's 1940 Flight Patrol! This nice bronze medallion originally went to listeners of the radio show for nothing more than a quick visit to the local Skelly Oil service station. Nowadays, it's a quick visit to the nearest internet auction site, and about ten dollars.

It's a nice spinner - place the front side down (the center of the propellor is a nub on which the coin spins freely) and give a twist. The back has a clock face at the midnight position,...whoever the hands point at when the coin stops spinning is "it"!

And what's that "?COBRALHOFA?" mean? Well, from Jim Widner's Captain Midnight Page:

Some of the premiums were a part of the show: the propeller spinning medal had the secret word "COBRALHOFA" on it. The word was not so secret, however, as it was regularly announced on the series, though never spelled. During the time that Chuck was captured in some 1940 episodes, he would send out messages to the Captain which were coded messages. By taking a message and selecting every tenth word, the messages could be translated. Why ten? Because the COBRALHOFA was equal to ten letters. For example, one message was:

"Hello, Captain Midnight and everybody. It sure seems a long time since I have seen you and the old home at Black Gulch. I am feeling fine. This is on my word of honor. Do as Ivan Shark asks, flying to any point he says as swiftly as an arrow. Ivan Shark is a snake, a Cobra but..."

The second message was almost the same as the first in that the code words were repeated. Captain Midnight discovered that every tenth word in both messages were the same. He also knew that the coded words corresponded to the last five letters of the secret password, COBRALHOFA and that it was intentional for Chuck to use the word Cobra:

"Hello, Captain Midnight and everybody. Please do not delay long. Fly where Ivan Shark says. I will not be home again if you refuse. To do all these things on my account is a lot, I know. Remember that flying to Ivan Shark's direction as straight as an arrow is essential..."

Captain Midnight figured that Chuck would send a third message using the first part of the secret password which he alluded to in the earliest message. And a third arrived:

"Hello Captain Midnight. This is your last chance to come to an agreement with Ivan Shark. Please think it over. If you do not aggree, this will be the bridge that will separate us forever. You should do the right thing. The thing that will surely bring us together at last..."

Once all the messages were placed in the order of the secret word, the message gave away Ivan Shark's hiding place:

Come Over Bridge Right At Long Home On Flying Arrow

Visit Mr Widner's page for a whole bunch more interesting information on Captain Midnight.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

TOTM Shoe, er, Show

Okay, so after TOO LONG a hiatus (so please don't HATE US! Har har!), there will be a Theatre Of The Mindless show at the Waukegan Yacht Club, on May 15th, at 7pm. Tickets are $12 at the door, they should also be available online at the Waukegan Community Players website, here. I also hear that the dinners at the Yacht Club are excellent - you may want to call ahead for dinner reservations, and have a bite to eat before the show. Best to watch this space for any further information or changes...we hope to see you there!

Dave Warren Award

This past weekend at the Cincinnati Old Time Radio Convention, I was the very proud recipient of the Dave Warren Award. Given to "those who preserve Old Time Radio by bringing it alive through re-creations", this award means SO much to me - that is what this is all about: OTR and audio drama are ARTFORMS...granted, they can be entertaining, but how amazing is it that waves of compressed air can travel to your ears and create pictures, characters, intrigue, laughter, thrills?

I never got to meet Dave Warren, I wish I had. Evidently, in addition to his OTR re-creations from the '70's on, he was quite a good artist. If you had bought any of a number of OTR cassette collections from Adventures In Cassettes, you had seen his work. And he did tons of black and white covers for the Old Time Radio Digest. And, of course, he was managing director for the Dave Warren Players, an OTR group that continues to this day.

I barely know what I said when I accepted the award. I know that I thanked my father, for introducing me to Old Time Radio in the 1970's.

Big HUGE thanks to all of the past and present members of the Theatre Of The Mindless group: no single person could get an award for re-creations without being surrounded and supported by enormously talented THANK YOU Jason Clark, Heidi Feldkirchner, Shawn and Virginia Fitzgerald, Laura Jansen, Bob Jeunger, Mark Kettner, and Chris Wild! And to the two old guys, Hank and Jim, who are there for every one of our rehearsals and shows, sitting next to each other, enjoying the perfomances, proud that they passed the artform down to us, so that we can do the same for others...

And THANKS to all who have come to see our shows - hopefully, we have either re-lit an old sputtering flame (for you old-timers who remember OTR), or begun a fresh warm fire (for you newbies who were just born too late). This is all for you.

Thanks again.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Made Me Laugh

From the introduction of Suspense, November 2nd, 1944 - "The Singing Walls": this snippet of lead-in about star Van Johnson made me laugh. Oh, I'm probably the only person in the world that caught it and thought it was funny.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Radio Mirror

So I just picked up this May, 1939 issue of Radio Mirror. I got it for the articles. That's Miss Dorothy Lamour, there, on the cover (Hubba, hubba!). Does anyone else think that she looks sort of like Bebe (Frasier's Lilith) Neuwirth? It's almost like looking into a mirror...a RADIO MIRROR, that is! I say, that's a JOKE, son. Ya get it? A joke!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Radio Blooper

In a newly-restored episode of "The Sealed Book", July 4th 1945, titled "Death Brings Down The Curtain", the evil actress rants:

"Be quiet, you fool! They can't prove a thing! No jury in the world would believe them...I'm too great an actress to be convicted of murder, do you hear?!? I'll give a performance that'll sweep a jury off it's feet. They'll never forgive me, they'll never convict me, never, Never, NEVER!"

Listen for the BIG BLOOPER toward the end, when she says "forgive" instead of "convict"...good thing that she really jacks up the energy right after that, so we don't even notice the mistake. In fact, it actually lends a bit of credibility to her character being a nutjob. But not the greatest actress, unfortunately...

Pick up the new Sealed Book set in sparkling clear sound HERE.