Archive for the old time radio Category

Cloudy with a Chance of Chicken Heart

Posted in Atheism, books, computing, eco anxiety, education, ghost stories, literature, old time radio, religion, science fiction with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 13, 2010 by katekanno

I love it when two books I’m reading unexpectedly connect. I’ve been (slowly) making my way through Jaron Lanier’s You Are Not A Gadget, a book that I really wish had been around when I was suffering through a ludicrous “ed tech” class last summer that was pushing the cloud computing orthodoxy Lanier discusses. As an atheist with a weakness for Catholic British authors, i.e. Evelyn Waugh and Muriel Spark, I also happened to have just read G.K. Chesterton’s Man Who Was Thursday. I didn’t like it much; it’s a sort of Monty Python meets Trinity Broadcasting, with Chesterton providing lots of tree fort warm fuzzies for white Christian males. But, I will say that Chesterton’s opening verse resonates with Lanier’s arguments.

A cloud was on the mind of men

And wailing went the weather,

Yea, a sick cloud upon the soul,

When we were boys together.

Science announced non-entity

And art admired decay

The world was old and ended 

But you and I were gay

Okay, except the whining about science forcing a meaningless life upon us, to which I say why read a Bible when you have the Hubble, the verse does seem to fit our current environmental, creative, and digital malaise; if you suspect, as Lanier does, that such a malaise exists. 

Lanier brings up some frightening observations. One that really got to me was his ongoing survey of young people who can’t place any music recorded in the past fifteen years to a specific point, or that google’s uploading millions of books may result in a free for all cherry picking that makes the often bigoted trolling of Bible verse seem puny in comparison.  

Well, in honor of the hive mind, and because I haven’t been doing my part on the horror stories links front, here is Arch Oboler’s famous “Chicken Heart” story, where a you-guessed-it and not a digital cloud rises to engulf the world. 

Now someone pass me a wing.

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Avoiding the Brain Sucker: limiting screen culture, more ghost stories, and notebook hacks.

Posted in blogging, ghost stories, Halloween, lifehacking, literature, old time radio, stationery lust, Uncategorized, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 30, 2009 by katekanno

Picture 10Avoiding the brain sucker.

I’ve been limiting my internet hours to the evening, having noticed that I’ve been becoming more and more frazzled and distracted, particularly when it comes to my writing. It’s a creepy experience when you go online to search for specific information only to forget what that was the second your browser appears. This has been scaring me as I’ve always had a steel trap memory, or so my partner complains.

Furthermore, it’s been harming my ability to focus on my writing, and so I’ve decided to stop.

My email can wait until after dinner, so can my podcasts, facebook, twitter, and other interests. It hasn’t been hard really. I get up, and rather than going for that cup of coffee that gives me limitless excuses to go online, I jump into the shower and get dressed. Twyla Tharp in her book The Creative Habit suggests adopting a mundane ritual — hers, is grabbing a taxi — to throw yourself into the right mindset for work. The shower’s worked for me so far.

The hardest part has been writing in longhand, a necessary part of the deal as typing would lure me right back online again. I find I’m more hesitant with a pen, more self-critical, and rather than twitter distracting me, it’s those mean old voices and a desire to snack. Apples have taken care of the latter, but the former, that’s just something you can’t avoid.

At the same time, my writing is less slapdash. I’m less likely to write crap because I know I can go back and fix it later, a mode of thinking that gets me into serious trouble at 10,000 words. I’m no climber, but if I see each word as one foot higher, I’d better damn well be prepared once I get high enough to break my neck. Today, I outlined a story, and although I’m not extremely thrilled with the outcome yet, it is progress.

I’ve also done more dishes, been more helpful to my partner, edited two articles (not mine) and finished reading another book. What’s been interesting and a little unnerving is how hard it was for me to focus on it, at least for a few hours. I had to stop myself, catch my mind wandering, and return to the same paragraph. Reassuring, however, was that I was able to knuckle down after awhile. Using my Piccadilly as a reading journal to jot down new vocabulary, quotations, and thoughts, also helps to keep me physically, if not mentally committed to the reading.

Anyway, one more day til Halloween.

Here is a favorite tale of the occult, Casting the Runes by M.R. James, adapted into an excellent radio program here, and a superb 1957 Val Lewton production with Dana Andrews.

The Thought is a 1950 radio presentation from the Haunting Hour. I don’t know who the writer is, but the Wurlitzer here is out of control. Seriously, I was harried not so much by the story, but by nervously anticipating each blast of the organ. Jeez guys, it’s just a telepath predicting a murder. Lighten up, will ya?

31/31 "The Judge's House" by Bram Stoker and OTR adaptation

Posted in books, ghost stories, Halloween, literature, old time radio, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on October 20, 2009 by katekanno

This is the first time since starting this blog that I’ve missed a day. Was sick two weeks ago. I think, as I’ve had a fever for the last three days, that it’s probably a mild case of flu. And as I haven’t been given license to lie around in bed and read to my heart’s content, I’ve taken advantage of it.

I was able to take good chunk out of Project Guiltpile, finishing The Magic Mountain and Barbara Ehrenreich’s Bright-Sided. More on those later when I’m a tad more lucid.

Today’s ghost story is “The Judge’s House” by Bram Stoker. This was one I didn’t care for: a first sentence introducing a protagonist named “Malcolm Malcolmsen” provides all the chilly foreshadowing of an Archie comic. There were rats, there were persnickety portraits, and a gloomy, old, unrentable house, but the end result was more meh-he-heh than Muh-hah-hah.

There’s a little more of the latter in this Old Time Radio adaptation from The Hall of Fantasy. This one is brought courtesy of mevio.com. Wait through the ten second ad, and you’ll get to it.

Now “He Who Follows Me”, also from the above is a spine tingling Scotch clog of a tale. You’ll never interpret footsteps in quite the same way again.

Commence Project Guiltpile and 31/31 "A Wicked Voice" by Vernon Lee (Violet Paget)

Posted in books, ghost stories, Halloween, lifehacking, literature, old time radio, psychogeography, Queer life with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 16, 2009 by katekanno

bookHere lies the monstrous list of books that distraction be damned I’m going to try to finish before leaving.

The tickets have been purchased. I have exactly two months.

20 books. It’s not all, but I’d better break my goal down into chunks. At the end of this tunnel is a long stay in Portland and several trips to among other places, Powell’s. We’ll start with this, but not necessarily go in order. I’m capricious when it comes to reading, which is partially how I got into this mess. This also doesn’t mean that I’ll not read other books while I’m at it. However, I will not buy anymore. Library’s okay.

1.The Magic Mountain

2.The Futurological Congress

3.The Untouchable

4.Let us Now Praise Famous Men

5.Titus Groan

6.The Trouble with Lichen

7.334

8.We

9.Great Expectations

10.Henderson the Rain King

11.Infinite Jest (I wouldn’t include this monster, except I’m 200 pages in already)

12.The Thirteenth Tale

13.Skeletons at the Feast

14.Haweswater

15.Bright-Sided

16.The Windup Girl

17.The Pleasure of Finding Things Out

18.Interviews with Fritz Lang

19. White Sands, Red Menace

20. Psychogeography

I’ve tried to take an eclectic sample to circumvent distraction, and will cross them off as I go. Here’s to absurd goals and the transitions that allow us to get a lead on them.

Let’s get back to ghosts.

VernonLee

Today’s story is another one with strong queer connections. Written by Vernon Lee a.k.a. Violet Paget, it tells the tale of an androgynously beautiful young vocalist who can seduce and kill with his voice. Lee was a strong proponent of women’s rights and could beat Vita Sackville West when it came to wearing men’s attire. Her supernatural fiction was regarded highly during its time along with her a book on eighteenth century Italian music. A recent volume of her stories was published in 1990 under the title

Hauntings and Other Fantastic Tales.

What struck me instantly about “A Wicked Voice” was its energy. Not a hint of the stuffy about it.

In addition, here is an OTR story called “Weekend Vacation” that includes creepy motel, old woman, and her Lennie like son: “Monroe likes girlies! Pretty hair.” It’s pretty darned disturbed, but has a nice twist.

31/31 "Listen to the Silence" by ?

Posted in ghost stories, Halloween, narcissism, old time radio, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on October 15, 2009 by katekanno

muirListen to the Silence is a dark take on The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. An aging spinster finally decides to end her media dependency and turn off the radio for good. In doing so, however, she is faced with the alternative of growing a tad too in touch with her inner self.

I could say that it’s commentary on the narcissist tendencies evinced by those who protest too much about the boob tube or the radio, a parable about the danger of eschewing outside voices for the prospect of internal validation. This is a single woman, lonely, but supporting herself. We expect the ghost to help her take charge of her life, but instead he takes charge of her. It is the grandfather, after all, who’s had the adventures. He’s simply headhunted her as a secretary of sorts, dictating his narrative as she grows weak and malnourished. Her choices are limited to two: return to the anesthetizing voices of modernity or retreat to the control of a patriarchal ghost.

Give me media oblivion any day. At least I’ll have control of the dial.

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir is a far more liberating tale. Gene Tierney still gets her life, the captain’s stories are in fact sexually freeing, they provide income and sustenance rather than starvation.

I’m unable to find out the name of the author and can’t research his or her background. The broadcast begins immediately with exposition. If anyone knows, I’d be grateful.

Today’s story was found on Relic Radio, another great OTR site.

And no, FCC, they aren’t paying me. They’re just terrific.

Enjoy!

31/31 Days 8 and 9 "The Phantom Coach" by Amelia Edwards, plus some Nathaniel Hawthorne

Posted in ghost stories, Halloween, old time radio, Uncategorized on October 10, 2009 by katekanno

amelia_edwardsFell behind a bit, but here are two stories to make up for it.
The Phantom Coach by Amelia Edwards, an English novelist and — how’s this for ghostly street cred — Egyptologist. Edwards was also one of the first advocates for the preservation of ancient monuments, motivated perhaps by some first hand experience of what happens when you disturb ancient ruins. This story comes care of East of the Web.

The next story is an OTR production of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s famous “Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment” brought to you via Vintage Horror.

Enjoy!

31/31 Day 5: "The Trapdoor" and "The Demon King"

Posted in genre wars, ghost stories, Halloween, old time radio, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on October 6, 2009 by katekanno

There are two stories I’d like to pass on tonight. The first called “The Trap Door” isn’t available on the web, but can be found in Great Ghost Stories by Chancellor Press. It’s a pub story. A man of nervous temperament goes on holiday, chooses the most out of the way inn in the country, and of course, allows his curiosity to get the best of him. It’s nothing earth shattering, but there’s a dryness to it I found interesting, particularly, after learning that its author was a theater censor.

Part of the motivation behind this project, along with enjoying some geeky favorites such as Lovecraft or James, is the chance of carrying out detective work on stories and writers I’ve never heard of. Thus far, it’s been successful, I’ve learned that Michael Arlen hobnobbed with film industry VIPs, and that A.J. Alan’s pseudonym was not a result of embarrassment for writing genre fiction, but his involvement with Enigma.

In the case of “Trapdoor’s” C.D. Heriot, however, I’ve been able to find very little other than that he (she?) was born in 1905 and lived until sometime in the early 1970s, and was a theater censor, an unforgiving one at that. It was Heriot , writing in the Reader’s Report, who would make recommendations to the Lord Chamberlain regarding which plays were fit for public consumption, often suggesting to cut or slash some bit or other for gruesome or otherwise naughty content. One target of Heriot’s wrath was John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger. This brought an entirely new interpretation to the story’s title, it’s embittered characters, and not to mention the protagonist’s decision to burn a letter from the innkeeper explaining the haunting. “The Trapdoor” is the only story I can find listed for Heriot, so perhaps it reveals even more.

devildanceNow speaking of naughty bits, here’s another story that I could not find a text version of, but fortunately am able to link to an old time radio version. This is a superb adaptation of J.B. Priestley’s The Demon King in which the devil gets his due, and generously shares it with an an amateur theater company. I had the lucky experience of reading it for the first time before bed, and then listening to its adaptation with the lights out. This is the first time I’ve heard an adaptation for radio I’d not already seen on either a movie or television screen, and in doing so I was able to capture a bit of that anticipation felt by radio listeners who hadn’t had the option of the former mediums.