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David Hines [userpic]

Don't go hunting with Babe Ruth.

September 2nd, 2007 (03:43 pm)

I recently subscribed to R U Sitting Comfortably, an old-time radio website that allows you to download a huge variety of radio shows from the thirties, forties, and fifties in MP3 format. The terms are extremely reasonable, and if you like old-time radio, it's well worth a look. I'm in the middle of moving (yes, all my books go BACK into storage, augh!), so I loaded up the Ipod with a bunch of radio shows: THE ADVENTURES OF BABE RUTH; JACK BENNY; DRAGNET; THE LONE RANGER; THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN. Impressions:

THE ADVENTURES OF BABE RUTH: "Dutch Reaver"

The Babe goes hunting with a sportswriter friend. On their way into the woods, they meet a pitcher from a rival team. He doesn't like the Babe much, and his opinion is promptly justified when the Babe and his friend *shoot him in the head* while trying for a ten-point buck. The Babe pays the sneering rival's hospital bills, but damage to the optic nerve leaves the rival blinded in one eye. The rival pitcher recovers, and the Babe covers for him, preventing anyone from bunting to his blind side so the pitcher can have enough working time to pay off his family's debts and retire comfortably. The Babe insists that nobody know about the accident -- the show would have you believe it's in order to protect the other pitcher's career, but the cynical listener will suspect the Babe of trying to dodge a massive lawsuit.

If Ruth hadn't starred in the series himself, this episode would have given him grounds to sue for libel.

THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN: "The Baby From Krypton" / "Clark Kent, Reporter"

It's interesting to hear the early version of Superman, before the tropes we know had really jelled. "The Baby From Krypton" is set on Krypton, and features Jor-El going all Al Gore on the Kryptonian Council; when the planet goes blooey, baby Kal-El is rocketed to Earth from his doomed planet (best origin ever). What happens after that is interesting: in "Clark Kent, Reporter," the Kents are left out entirely. Superman arrives on earth full-grown and in costume, in... Indiana? He rescues a professor and his son from a trolley accident. They advise him that the best way to learn about humans and find out when they're in help would be to work for a newspaper, and suggest that the name "Clark Kent" sounds pretty ordinary. My guess is the radio folks didn't want to have two sets of doomed parents. But it's thrilling to hear some things said for the first time, even if they're a little... not quite perfected. For example, when Superman flies the professor and son to safety, he picks one up under each arm, and then HE SAYS IT. You know the one. The audio cue that means Superman is about to fly. Or at least, leap an eighth of a mile (though he hovers in the air at one point, so they're already beginning the process of powering up). Yes, that hallowed phrase, the one every kid has belted out at some time on the playground:

"Up, up... and we're off!"

Doesn't have the same ring, somehow. But they fixed it, later.

Coming up: my theory about comic book captions, as explained by the changing use of narration between radio and television -- THE LONE RANGER vs. DRAGNET.

Comments

Posted by: mendori (mendori)
Posted at: September 2nd, 2007 09:07 pm (UTC)

I love old radio. Seriously. I have well over a thousand shows on tape, cd, and MP3. My favorites are the old detectives, but I have a few other gems of the radio such as The Sealed Book, X -1, and Beyond Midnight.

The radio age of the comic book hero was an interesting one. If you can, find a show called "Batman Mystery Club" - one of the most wonderfully strange things I've ever heard. Bruce Wayne and Robin (Yes, they call him Robbin) have Mystery Club where they tell stories of debunking the supernatural to a group of 8-12 year old kids. Bruce makes no bones about the fact he is Batman, and Robbin is always Robbin, except while they tell the stories, when he is Dick - but the slip up and call him Robbin every so often mid story. The best part? Bruce never actually becomes Batman at any point during any of the eps I have in my collection. o.0

Also, if you ever want to hear something wonderfully awful, find some early Blue Beetle. This poor shmoe has had a bad set of writers from day one. He started out as a beat officer whose alternate personality was armed with a silly helmet, some chain mail, a fast car, and a magic wand. That's all. Wow.

However, my true love, my real one love, of Old Radio is of course Holmes. The New Adventures, the Adventures of, etc. Make of that what you will.

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: September 4th, 2007 02:18 am (UTC)

"Batman Mystery Club" sounds *bizarre.* I'll have to see if I can find that. There is an eleven-part SUPERMAN radio adventure called "Batman's Great Mystery;" I'll see what that's like when I get to it. I have some Holmes, though I haven't listened to any yet.

I've listened to a few episodes of Jeff Regan, which you recommended. Holy crap, that is a freaky show. Jack Webb is just trembling with suppressed rage, and his boss is totally nasty and evil. WTF was going on there?

Posted by: beatrice_otter (beatrice_otter)
Posted at: September 2nd, 2007 10:34 pm (UTC)

My condolences on the move. Still, when it's done, you will have all your stuff in one place, yes? Me, I have my stuff split between the East and West coasts, and will have for the next three years or so until I graduate. Yech.

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: September 4th, 2007 02:19 am (UTC)
pointy teeth

Ow. That's terrible. Yeah, I have some stuff at my mother's house, but most of my stuff will be in one location in Florida. That's a lot better for my sanity, I think.

Posted by: beatrice_otter (beatrice_otter)
Posted at: September 4th, 2007 03:47 am (UTC)
Reading

Yeah. I have a dorm room worth of stuff at school in PA, and the rest of my stuff back in my parents' house in OR. Including most of my books ::sob:: There's just not enough room in my dorm for many more books than my schoolbooks.

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