Nostalgic Rumblings
The Ramblings of an Old Man

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October 2009
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Podcast: The War of the Worlds Program #1

Filed under: Old-Time Radio — Charlie Summers @ 7:48 pm

This is the episode of the Mercury Theater which aired seventy-one years ago tonight, on October 30, 1938. Adapted by Howard Koch from the story by H.G. Wells, The War of the Worlds is one of those almost mythical programs in the Old-Time radio cannon, a show that almost everyone, even those with no knowledge of OTR, think they know about.

And this year, it has been quite a topic of conversation on the Internet OTR Digest, with postings suggesting there were multiple airings of the program. I talked to Martin Grams, Jr., who provided me with this copy of the program we are going to, for the sake of argument only, call program #1.

This is the one I’ve been listening to for a lot of years, with well-known scratches and surface noises almost being old friends to me. My first exposure to this was sometime in the 1960’s, when I purchased a record album set from a television advertisement, containing two discs of OTR hosted by Jack Benny, a disc of news and sports hosted by Frank Knight, and this recording. I still have the records, packed away downstairs with most of the rest of my youth, and each year around this time when I listen to the program I am still enthralled.

So if you are interested in comparing this to the other copy Martin has mailed to me to continue the discussion on the Digest, well, here it is. On the other hand, if you just want to sit back, close your eyes, and enjoy a rip-roaring story told in an extraordinary way, well, you’re allowed to do that, too.

You may stream the show using the player below, or download it with the link. Remember, by subscribing to this blog with any podcasting client (Juice, iTunes, etc.) the shows will be automatically downloaded to your computer or MP3 player!

icon for podpress  Mercury Theater - The War of the Worlds Program #1 [61:47m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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2009 FOTR Convention; Still More Photos

Filed under: Old-Time Radio — Charlie Summers @ 4:09 pm

Also from Friday, October 23rd, 2009. Watching the rehearsals is fun, especially for those of us who have been attending conventions for a while. The performers are still working the kinks out of their characters, and sometimes they try things that don’t work so well. It’s a hoot to watch them work, and worry, over each line, each phrase, each inflection. Anyone who thinks audio acting is easy has never done it, nor has ever watched it done well.

But it’s always the veterans who put me in awe. I have been so fortunate over the years to meet and know so many actors from radio’s golden age, and have been able to watch them demonstrate the skills they were able to hone by constantly working. Harry Bartell used to tell me he’d feel guilty when the family went on vacation, since it meant he wouldn’t be able to work, and so worried that he’d be forgotten by the directors he depended upon to feed his family. Naturally much of that is “actors’ insecurity,” but many of the journeymen actors of the period thought nothing of working six or seven days every week, two or three shows every day. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, that they could pick up a script cold and perform an adequate character, using rehearsal time to build that into a living, breathing person.

And before I forget my manners, I want to thank Sean Dougherty, Derek Tague, and Martin Grams, Jr. for helping me keep my failing memory from insulting anyone with incorrect names or incorrect spellings. That doesn’t mean I got everything right, though - if you see any mislabelings in the photos, drop me a note directly or post to the comments and I’ll fix any goof-ups ASAP!

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Teaser for the New Season of 24

Filed under: Television — Charlie Summers @ 3:28 pm

The first teaser for the new season of 24 is available:

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2009 FOTR Convention; Yet More Pics

Filed under: Old-Time Radio — Charlie Summers @ 8:50 pm

These were taken Friday, October 23rd, 2009. The photo of Richard Herd and Gregg Oppenheimer cracks me up…while they were just talking on the other side of the room, the photo makes it look like Richard is threatening Gregg with bodily harm or something. As someone who’s worked with Richard before, I can tell you he’s a guy you want in your cast; he’s not only versatile, but he’s always listening to the rest of the cast, and has one eye on the director all the time. (Besides, he’s just a really nice guy.)

It’s also always a treat to hear Michael C. Gwynne work. Those who read his posts on the Internet OTR Digest are missing out hearing that well-trained voice of his. Depending on the need, it can be smooth as silk or tough as nails. He’s just got one of those voices that cannot be ignored.

And Christina Britton Conroy…well, c’mon…the woman clearly has a painting in her attic aging for her. I’ve seen her turn the heads of 20-somethings, not to mention those of us of more advanced years.

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2009 FOTR Convention; More Photographs

Filed under: Old-Time Radio — Charlie Summers @ 7:04 am

These pics were all taken last Thursday, October 22, 2009. When I’m not helping out with something else, I spend time in the rehearsal room with Bill and Bart, taking pics of the rehearsals. It’s a whole lot easier to get cast pics during rehearsal, when I can move about relatively freely, than during the performances when I’m kinda stuck in one place.

I have to publicly thank my great friend Mike Bortner for loaning me literally thousands of dollars worth of equipment…the Canon High-Def camcorder is an amazing piece of equipment (although now that I’m back home I’m fighting a little bit with the AVCHD disc burner…), and allowed me to take still photographs while recording the performances in high-definition. For anyone who was there, imagine Chuck McCann on a 54″ high-def screen…!

Almost every still photo you’ll see here was taken with that camcorder; in still mode it’s better than almost any camera I’ve used. It seems to be crazy for light…some of the pics I took were in low-light areas, and I’ve had to do very little post-photo to brighten them up. And even on the ones I did increase brightness and contrast, the camera supplied enough information that it’s tough to tell I mucked with them at all.

An amazing piece of hardware, one I greatly appreciate using for this convention! Thanks, Mike!

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2009 FOTR Convention; First of the Pics

Filed under: Old-Time Radio — Charlie Summers @ 6:29 pm

As promised, the first of the photographs from this year’s Friends of Old-Time Radio Convention, held last week in Newark, NJ. These tend to be bits-and-pieces, in no real chronological order. Later pages will have a bit more order imposed, honest.

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So I Suppose You’re Wondering Where I’ve Been…

Filed under: General, Old-Time Radio — Charlie Summers @ 2:47 am

Yeah, I remember saying I was going to be as consistent with posting photos and information on the Friends of Old-Time Radio Convention as I was at Cincy…there’s only one small problem. At Cincy, my biggest decision is where to eat any given day, where here I actually have things to do, with helping Fred with the video taping, and helping anyone else with whatever else needs to be done.

So, as I’m certain you’ve figured out, I haven’t posted a d*mned thing from Newark, and what’s worse I haven’t gotten issues of the Digest out, either.

So here’s the latest promise, and I’m pretty sure I can actually fulfill this one. I’m going to start Monday gathering the hundreds if not thousands of photographs and hours of high-def video and see if I can get stuff posted throughout the week. I also have some personal thoughts about the stuff thats been going on here I’ll be posting over the next week.

One quick personal comment now, though. Ken, if you’re reading this, I give you as much crap as humanly possible as often as I can, but you d*mned well deserve to be a member of the Rockford Club, more than some others, and almost certainly more than I do. And while this’ll be the last nice thing I say about you to your face for a long while, don’t ever think I don’t value you.

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