Friday, April 29, 2011

I'm getting lazy

I have stacks of Lum and Abner Dictionary words to put into the dictionary... just haven't done it.  I will try and catch up this weekend.

©Jimbo 2010/2011

Monday, April 25, 2011

John Stanley of Sherlock Holmes

You can find a few paragraphs about John Stanley and many others at Say Hello To...

©Jimbo 2010/2011

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The 10,000 drunk chickens story

©Jimbo 2010/2011

Yet another call for Phillip Morrrrris!

Lum and Abner Dictionary update/April 24

 Added the following words to the Lum and Abner Dictionary today:


©Jimbo 2010/2011

Scooby Doo?

I just finished listening to a Superman serial entiltled, "The Phantom of the Sea."

I am not an expert on the cartoon series Scooby Doo but this one reminded me of one of the early 1970's stories.  Not any particular Scooby Doo episode, just the same kind of feel.

©Jimbo 2010/2011

Paula Winslowe on video

I was checking out an old TV episode of The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet and who shows up in the episode I'm watching?  Paula Winslowe!  This was first chance to see her "live."  She is Harriet's friend that comes over to the house and eventually goes bowling with.

You can watch and download the episode yourself, if so inclined.

©Jimbo 2010/2011

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Lum and Abner Dictionary update/April 23rd

Added the following words to the Lum and Abner Dictionary roday:


©Jimbo 2010/2011

Friday, April 22, 2011

Lum and Abner Dictionary update/April 22nd

Added the following words to the Lum and Abner Dictionary today:

Santa Fran Sancisco

©Jimbo 2010/2011

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Lum and Abner Dictionary update/April 21st

Added the following words to the Lum and Abner Dictionary update today:


©Jimbo 2010/2011

My interview with Jon at

Jon helps run the website and company known as OTRCAT. It is my please to have him join me today for an interview.

OTR Buffet: Jon, thanks for joining me. What can you tell us about OTRCAT?

Jon: Thanks for inviting me, Jimbo. After many years of listening and collecting old time radio shows, the (Old Time Radio Catalog) web site opened in 1999. We offer thousands of old time radio shows on MP3 and audio cd for just $5.00 per disk. offers hundreds of show descriptions with images of the original actors and sponsors. We feature original compilations and thousands of free downloads on the website including an "Daily Download" section (which has broadcasts from the same date in history).

Proceeds from the website offset the price of machinery, supplies, and growing old time radio collection; every month OTRCAT also sends out free CDs of old time radio shows to various low-income retirement homes, centers for the blind, and American field troops based in Iraq and Afghanistan in hopes they will enjoy the nostalgia of these classic radio recordings.

OTR Buffet:  Do you do all the research over there yourself?  How do you go about researching a subject?

Jon: is a family-run business and represents over a decade work & thousands of hours of  researching and writing.  Many hard-print resources and logs available, but the Internet has made research and correspondence with collectors and contributors more convenient than ever.  Researching the individual series and writing about them has been a passion.  We’ve recently been working on old time radio articles including texts on Atomic Radio, Soap Operas, Espionage and Horror and Mystery shows.  We’ve also had guest authors write about Aimee Semple McPherson, Cathy Lewis, War of the Worlds, Kay Kyser, Hans Conried & Arch Oboler and others which I hope are a compelling and entertaining read.

OTR Buffet: Please tell me how you first got into old-time radio.   (I'd like to know some of your first memories of OTR and what were some of the shows you listened to.)

Jon: I missed hearing the golden age of radio when it was broadcast live, but I listened to some comedy and horror radio shows when I was a kid on cassette tapes and father's open-reel player.  While living in Los Angeles, I found myself addicted to old time radio during long commutes and subsequently spent a lot of time sitting in the driveway waiting for THE WHISTLER show to end when they broadcast the shows on AM in the evening.  With the advent of digital recording, being able to store and listen to the shows on demand is easier than ever.  One of the beautiful things about the MP3 format: you can have virtually an entire series stored on a single disk and can fast forward, rewind and resume listening to any episode at any point in time!

OTR Buffet:  When we chatted earlier, you mentioned you liked Dragnet.  Dragnet is a unique show with it's own style.  Can you talk about that style, tell us some fond Dragnet memories?

Jon: Jack Webb's Dragnet are some of my favorite old time radio detective shows.  My wife and I have listened to the series many times through.  His no nonsense questioning of suspects and witnesses are really entertaining (as are the stories – based on true life crime).  The stories are tastefully written and cover some fascinating crime history.  The suspects and witnesses are great memorable characters and the plots, delivery, one-liners and sound effects are all top-notch from the golden age of radio!

OTR Buffet:  I always thought it was kind of strange that Dragnet's Friday lived with his mom.  It's kind of strange, don't you think?

Jon: He's a man dedicated to his job, Jimbo!!  In Friday’s defense, there were several episodes where Joe Friday took out a "police woman" to prove he wasn't a Norman Bates-like character in his personal life.  I recall one where his mother was shocked that the police woman was "pretty."  Joe Friday living at home makes the fodder with his partner (Ben Romero) all the more entertaining; there are a lot of dry-wit skits where Romero bores Joe Friday with his inane troubles and arguments with his wife and mother in law.

OTR Buffet:  Another show you mentioned you liked a lot is You Bet Your Life.  That was indeed a great show and a classic.  Groucho is so very funny.   I think it's a shame that the teens today have no idea who Groucho is.  Even in this current wacky world of Lady Gaga and reality television, I think You Bet Your Life would still do well if they ran the reruns against other televison shows!  How do think Groucho's show would do if it currently ran on CBS on Friday nights at 9pm?

Jon: Every episode of Groucho Marx's YOU BET YOUR LIFE has some laugh out loud moments for me.  It's amazing some of the material passed censors--Groucho's wit always won out. Regarding competing on today's television: the duck that falls out of the ceiling is pretty compelling television!!  There was only one Groucho Marx, but I'm not sure if it would really appeal to a mass audience.  I think there will always be Marx-bros fans out there that will always enjoy Groucho's impromptu one liners although I'm not sure Television format added that much additional humor from the radio broadcasts (there wasn't much visual humor on the television episodes I recall.)  The Marx Bros films on the other hand had all kinds of great visual gags, but the time, budge and game-show format constraints made YOU BET YOUR LIFE just as entertaining as an audio radio broadcast as the video version.  If I recall correctly Groucho has editing control of the radio broadcasts before they were broadcast where he had them cut out dead air time and condense all the jokes – the end product is a great show that always makes me laugh.

OTR Buffet:  You also mentioned you enjoyed the show, Suspense.  I was fortunate enough to have Christine Miller do an interview with me a couple of months back, I hope you will read that on the Buffet.  I enjoy Suspense as well.  What are some of your favorite episodes of the show and why?

Jon: Indeed - I enjoyed your interview with Christine and share her love for Suspense.  Agnes Moorehead’s “Sorry Wrong Number” always comes to mind when I think of Suspense.  SUSPENSE is a top-notch series with broadcasts with top name actors of the era including Jimmy Stewart, Gene Kelly, Dane Clark, Cary Grant, and Jack Webb.  Episodes like “Donovan’s Brain”, “House in Cypress Canyon” , “The Hitchhiker”, Vincent Price in “Three Skeleton Key”, and “The Doom Machine” are some of my all-time favorites that come to mind.  The writing and performances are indeed “well calculated to keep you in Suspense!”

OTR Buffet:  Doing the OTRCAT you probably have come across some shows most of us have never heard of.  Can you recommend any "under-the-radar" shows that we have never heard before and if so, can you tell us something about them?

Jon: has a "rarities" section of the website with some of the lesser known shows.  Some of our original genre compilations of Rare Detectives & Rare Soap Operas are fun way to get a sampling of recordings that only have one or two episodes still in known existence.   Recordings like Singing Sam (“The Barbasol Man”) and others are a great listen.  Other rare recordings like "Lonesome Gal" of interest was a music program from the 40's created by Jean King who starts her program swooning " "Sweetie, no matter what anybody says, I love you more than anybody in the whole world."

OTR Buffet: You also mentioned to me that you like the show, X Minus One.  It's a show I have listened to but I haven't listened enough of it to really ask any questions with any kind of authority.  Tell me why you like the show and maybe a memorable episode or two.

Jon: The X MINUS ONE adapted short stories of sci-fi writers Ray Bradbury, Philip K Dick, Robert Heinlein and Frederik Pohl are outstanding.  Radio is the perfect medium for science fiction as everything in your mind's eye is more realistic than any film you may see.  I've always been a big fan of the sci-fi genre in general  and we wrote a short primer on Sci-Fi in old time radio. X MINUS ONE episodes like "The Martian Death March", "Cold Equations", "The Roads Must Roll", "Perigi's Wonderful Dolls" are all some of my all-time favorites that come to mind, but almost every episode in the series is outstanding and unique.  The sci-fi authors address problems of the 1950s era in a creative format which still are valid and immensely entertaining today.

©Jimbo 2010/2011

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I'm still alive!

Hi everyone.  Taking a bit of a needed break - there really isn't anything to post... I could write but I just don't feel like doing that now.  There should be a new interview up in a day or two as I await some new magazines to patrol and post for you.

Meanwhile, if I find something interesting, I'll post it.  I'm enjoying taking a breath for a change!

©Jimbo 2010/2011

Lum and Abner Dictionary update/April 19th

Added the following words to the Lum and Abner Dictionary for April 19th:

Niagry Falls

©Jimbo 2010/2011

Monday, April 18, 2011

Lum and Abner Dictionary update/April 18th

Added the following words to the Lum and Abner Dictionary today:

crisscross puzzle

Changed the Word of the Week to:

pretties (prit' eez) - nice things in shop windows (episode 450411)

©Jimbo 2010/2011

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Lum and Abner Dictionary update/April 17th

Added these 3 words to the Lum and Abner Dictionary today:

Simons Degree

©Jimbo 2010/2011

Radio war propoganda

My friend 'Boston Blackie'  continues to be crucial to this blog with his always- clever suggestions.  This is another of his ideas.

Jimbo: Shows during the war featured lots of propaganda.  Is there any show or shows that stick for you where you have noticed a lot of propaganda?

Boston Blackie:  In terms of old time radio the first impression about the war was the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese.  I recall the recordings of shows that were interrupted by the announcement that Pearl Harbor was attacked by air.  They were truly memorable recordings.  I wanted to make this statement first.  Then as the war continued on we got into the propaganda that was expressed in the shows.  The one that I felt made the most of this type of thing was the Fibber McGee & Molly Show.  They had lots of references to ‘Japs; and ‘Nazis’ in the show.  I may be wrong on this, but, my memory seems to stick the comedy shows presenting the most propaganda than the drama or detective shows.  I think it fit in better into their format than the other types of shows.

Jimbo: What you say is true.  Comedy shows were ripe with propaganda.  Fibber McGee and Molly is certainly the comedy show with the most propaganda.  But you also had The Great Gildersleeve, Red Skelton, Abbott and Costello - and to some extent, Jack Benny Show, Burns and Allen and some others.

Abbott and Costello had the harshest humor of all when it came to the Axis.

Boston Blackie:  I can’t speak about Abbott and Costello, but, I think that Fibber McGee & Molly were also harsh in their remarks about the ‘Japs’ and slanted eyes, etc. I think shows like Burns and Allen were more on emphasizing the war effort than demeaning or degrading our war enemies.  They pushed War Bonds and Victory Gardens.  I can recall Gracie many times referring to their Victory Gardens out back.  Shows also expressed concern about saving cooking fats and returning the fats to the butchers.  The fats then were recycled to produce explosives.  The Great Gildersleeve often talked about helping the war effort by purchasing War Bonds. 

Jimbo:  And shows like Guest Star were devoted to War Bond promotion during the war.

For those who don't know, Victory Gardens were gardens suggested by the government to provide more food stateside so that more food could be sent overseas.

You being the wise one that you are probably already know this, but the government encouraged people to plant gardens in public parks.

There was also the "don't travel if you have to", "don't drive to save rubber on your tires" (!!) and "don't buy anything you don't absolutely need."  Those must have been some tough times!

Boston Blackie:  The recycling of aluminum is another one promoted during the war.  My mother would have us kids save the wrapper around gum and peel off the tin foil.  We would create big balls of tin foil from the gum wrappers and then my mother would turn them in.  Of course there was gas rationing as well.  All these things were mentioned during the Fibber McGee & Molly shows.  It was the war effort, they would say.

In addition to the above ways of fighting the war other shows presented story lines about the Nazi’s or the ‘Japs.’  One of the story lines for Superman was fighting the wartime enemies.  The Shadow often set out to find counter spies.  The Green Hornet did the same thing.  Of course there was This Is Your FBI and the FBI in Peace and War which devoted a few shows about fighting the war.

Jimbo: There was also the whole "black market" warnings and many shows were devoted to this subject.  I remember one specific one on Fibber McGee and Molly but other shows with a similar theme can be found on Boston Blackie, This is Your FBI, The Green Hornet and many Lum and Abner episodes, just to name a few.

Boston Blackie:  You are right about that.  If you recall there were several episodes of Fibber McGee & Molly which they boarded a young girl who worked at a war factory.  She was sort of a ‘Rosie the Riveter’ personality.  That story line allowed for additional war propaganda for the show. Also, let us not forget about the songs that were played on the radio during the war years.  So many of the songs related to our boys overseas and the girls left behind.  The Andrew Sisters were big on this and so was Vera Lynn.  There was a song where Bing Crosby sang about there will be a hot time in old Berlin when the Brooklyn boys get there.  The name of the song was “Will Be a Hot Time in the Town of Berlin” with the Andrews Sisters.  Problem was, the Russians got there first.

Jimbo:  Shirley Mitchell played the part of Alice Darling, the aircraft war plant worker who stayed with the McGees for a while.

And wow I am glad you brought that up about music, as Spike Jones had a big hit with, "Der Fuehrer's Face" , which is quite a funny song.

©Jimbo 2010/2011

Saturday, April 16, 2011

A word about the blog

I am at a point right now where finding new news to post is difficult, to say the least.  Until I get some new news to play with, expect a drop off in the Buffet.  The Buffet will still be generating an output, but as of right now, not the 10-15-20 posts a day you may be used to.  That will change in time as new magazines become available.

I will no longer be doing the podcast.  #1, I have a terrible microphone.  #2, I have a terrible voice.  That combination right there is enough to annoy people.  And #3, it's just too difficult to do.  I've come to find out, that's no my forte'.

I still plan on conducting interviews, writing reviews, continuting working on the other blogs attached to the Buffet and being here to answer your comments.  Please check here daily and eventually there will be a glut of info again.

©Jimbo 2010/2011

Lum and Abner Dictionary update/April 16th

Added the following words to the Lum and Abner Dictionary today:


©Jimbo 2010/2011

Friday, April 15, 2011

Pairing of Peary and Tetley was a magical match

From my original article in the March/April "The Radio Times."

Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. Lum and Abner. Fibber McGee and Molly. Burns and Allen. Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy. Martin and Lewis.

Those are probably some of the names you think of when you reflect on great comedy teams. There's no doubt why you do; for each one of the above teams were not only funny, they had incredible sustainability and lasted many years. Not only that, each of the above has a consecrated place in the National Radio Hall of Fame.

There's a another pair however, that's not considered a "team" by classic definition. Harold Peary and Walter Tetley were together 9 years on the comedy show, The Great Gildersleeve.

Peary's background was that of a singer of Spanish melodies - not as an actor. However, he was armed with a trademark bellowing voice and made his way up from early radio baritone to a 1937 fill-in on the big NBC hit show Fibber McGee and Molly, to having his own sitcom (the first sitcom spin off in history.)

Here's what happened: Gildersleeve played many parts but finally went to writer Don Quinn and asked to settle in on just one weekly role. Quinn wrote in the character Throckmorten P. Gildersleeve who would be McGee's next door neighbor. Everything about the character would be big: his belly, his name, his voice and Quinn gave him a girdle factory to run -- a pun about rotund people, itself.

Only after about a year on Fibber McGee and Molly, Peary was actually getting applause when he entered on the show- - something no other character was getting. He and Fibber would play off each other and accuse each other of stealing and other terrible things, almost coming to blows before Gildy would say, "You're a harrrrrrrd man, McGee" - and that is he became known for when he worked on that show. His rascally laugh too, a trademark that has endured generationally.

In the NBC spin off, The Great Gildersleeve, Peary played the part of a bachelor father figure to a family that was not his own. This is a contradiction in itself because Gildersleeve was actually a child-like character, more content at having fun (singing, dating, kissing!) than working his tedious job as Summerville's Water Commissioner. He never took his job seriously as he was always late for work (always!), often played hooky and was "stuck behind the eight ball." Though I don't think he ever said this, I think Gildy actually hated his job.

The non-nuclear family aspect was a very unique concept in entertainment when the show arrived in 1942. Gildy's new family consisted of his teenaged niece Marjorie (played by another veteran actress Lurene Tuttle) and a very bright, early teen in the hyper-dimensional Leroy (Tetley.)

Girded with a part-Scottish, part Brooklyn accent and with the ability to use words to cut as sharp as a razor, Tetley contrasted well against his oafish, probably-Midwestern uncle. Gildersleeve was not the father - just a figurehead and Leroy was not the son, just a facsimile - a nephew (the son of Gildersleeve's sister.) Despite the fact they barely knew each other, Gildy and Leroy had a special relationship from day one in every sense of the word.

At the age of 7, Tetley was a star, bringing in a bundle of money. By age 16, Tetley was a minor superstar radio veteran having already amassed some 2,800 broadcasts. When Tetley got the job as Leroy he was like the cleanup hitter for the New York Yankees as far ability goes. He had been lauded nationwide as a notorious scene-stealer. Whenever he guest starred on a show the cast and audience loved him and the biggest actors and show began asking specifically for him to appear and Tetley made the rounds at both NBC and CBS on a regular basis. And while Tetley played a smart-alecky brat on all the dozens of show in which he appeared, he did it with perfect comedic timing.

Tetley and Gildersleeve both had impeccable timing. This is especially true of Tetley, who was actually quite older than he appeared to be (there's a story out there that says his mother actually had him castrated so that he could play child parts forever and keep bringing in the money.)

Leroy loved to catch his uncle doing anything that wasn't quite appropriate for an elected official to do and would almost always call him out on it, publicly or privately. Leroy's enjoyment of doing this flustered Gildy so badly he would often clamor, "Hmfph oh! Lee-eee-eee-roy...." -- much to the delight of the studio and listening audience.

One time, Leroy and Gildy had planned a trip -- but right before time to go, Gildersleeve's fleeting flame Lila would coerce "Throcky" into taking her shopping because her car was not running.

"I'll give you anything you want, Leroy", Gildy would beg, "If I can just break our date!"

"Anything, Unc?" This would allow Leroy to victimize the gigantic pants off of Gildersleeve, something he did with regularity.

Whenever Gildersleeve would be caught in a faux pas, Leroy would joyfully say, "What a character!" , right to his uncle's face. Somehow, Leroy got away with saying and doing all kinds of little naughty things like this. He was picked up by the police, he got into fights, he harassed the younger neighbor kid. He'd con kids out of their skates and brand-new magic sets. Boil it down and you find Leroy was a Tom Sawyer-type kid but with the wit of no radio character before him (and aside from Arnold Stang and Groucho Marx, none after him.) He was aware of the fun of manipulation and the power of psychology. He was not a bad boy or a delinquent, by any stretch of the imagination. It was just that inside of him was both a conniving con man and a rogue tattletale yet paradoxically, he was also an assailable, breakable, fatherless child.

If Gildy had a plan, Leroy was there to destroy it. Gildersleeve realized soon after moving in with the two kids that Leroy was going to be someone he would have to keep an eye on. Leroy often ran amok and had the audience enjoying it right along with him. Though it was easy for the audience to like Gildersleeve, Leroy made it even more fun to see Gildersleeve fail. This might be because he was big -- no, make that great. The Great Gildersleeve. And there is some sort of Freudian joy in seeing a big man fall. Leroy was the perfect foil (of many) for the pear-shaped Casanova GIldersleeve.

The verbal rapport between the two seemed natural.  They were not  about taking turns telling jokes or puns, nor was one setting up the other for a big punch line.  They would have been one of the greatest - maybe THE greatest comedy team in history had they had actually become one -- the resonance between the two simply seemed real.  And when you get two real characters together, you often find magic.

Though the two characters did not have a father and son relationship, it was obvious that the two loved each other.  There were no arguments that ended with, "You're not my father! or "You're not my son!"  Leroy actually needed the stern hand of Gildy and oddly, Gildy needed to be brought down to earth by the constant vigil of Leroy.   Both lived up to each other's needs and this is what made The Great Gildersleeve seem real and fun.  

Of course all of that came to an abrupt end when Peary left NBC for CBS.  Everyone else seemed to be jumping the NBC ship and Gildy wanted the big money that CBS was handing out, too.  It backfired - maybe one of the biggest backfires in show business history as Peary thought the show would go with him.    Kraft, the sponsor, had a long relationship with NBC and declined the move.  Peary and Tetley were no longer part of the same family anymore.

Each went their different ways and each was successful, albeit, Tetley more so than Peary.  But neither found another like each other again.   Magic, after all, doesn't last forever.

©Jimbo 2010/2011

Lum and Abner Dictionary update/April 15

Added just two lonely words today to the Lum and Abner Dictionary:


©Jimbo 2010/2011

Podcast delayed again - but for a good reason

Jim Beshires and I are going to combine on a podcast; not sure when this coming out but I will let you know; should be out soon.  The theme will be "Westerns" so hang on for that.

©Jimbo 2010/2011

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Sad case of Gerard Darrow

At age 5, Gerard Darrow was being written about in newspapers across the country for he was already an orinthology expert. 

At age 7, Darrow was one of the original Quiz Kids in 1940. According the John Dunning book, The OTR Encyclopedia:
"Gerard Darrow could identify more than 1000 birds, and he was also expert on butterflies, flowers, fish, animals, reptiles, amphibians, and shells." 
At age 9, he was still a Quiz Kid and lecturing to schools across the nation on all kinds of subjects.

In 1980, at the age of 47, he died of alcoholism.   It is said he died a pauper and that he was on welfare most of his life.  He complained about the show exploiting him and also of his parents doing the same.

His jobs in life were of the menial variety, according to the newspapers.

Silent Radio, OTR Bios updated

I just did a post for Silent Radio and OTR Bios (up top) was updated yesterday.  As soon as I do the podcast today, I will try and work on adding a buttload of OTR adverts and also try and get caught up again with OTR Bios.

©Jimbo 2010/2011

More iPod tips and tricks for OTR fans: Part 3

Hopefully you have already read all of the tricks/tips (there are several articles)  regarding my special tricks and tips for old-time radio fans.

Here's another good one:

If you are like me, you have an iPod that holds 250 gigs (actually more like 234 gigs) of stuff.  One my 7th generation iPod, I have a few video episodes of Dragnet on there and my entire OTR collection.

Until recently, I never even bothered saving my collection to hard disk.  Yes, it does reside on stacks of CDs and DVDs but I was not keen on using 200 gigabytes on the computer to store OTR.

Well with this trick, you can use your iPod to not only play your stuff but to store your stuff.  I'm talking about that well-known trick: How to use your iPod as a storage device, either.

Here's what you do:  if you have a large iPod (or large enough to carry your entire collection) fill up your iPod.

Now head over and get the tiny program called, "iDump."   iDump is a German-made freeware program that will dump the contents to your hard drive, so you never really have to have a backup on your hard drive.  (I would advise always keeping your stuff on CD or DVD though, unless you relish the thought of having to download everything again in case something happens.)

There are a couple of things you must know about iDump:

1.  Make sure your iPod is plugged into your computer.
2.  Close everything down except iTunes.  You can leave your resident programs running, though (resident programs are those that run by your clock in the Windows operating system.)
3. Run iDump.  (iDump has no installer program, it is what it is.)
4. iDump will take a while to scan your iPod.  Up to a hour or more if you have a big iPod.
5.  If you run anything at all while it is scanning, it will crash.  Trust me.  Read this again: if you open anything at all while iDump is running, it will crash.  And when it crashes, you will have to start all over and that's a big bummer.
6. After it has finished scanning, you can open up all kinds of windows and run all kinds of things.   Now, you can "dump" whatever you need to your hard drive.  Be sure you pick the second tab to tell the iDump where to dump the stuff. "X"  the boxes of the files you want dumped.

iDump is one of the nicest little free programs you will ever find.  It's not very stable as I mentioned but it is free and it does work if you follow my guidelines.  And it can save you 230+ gigabytes of hard drive space!

©Jimbo 2010/2011

Lum and Abner Dictionary update/April 14

Added these 3 words to the always-growing Lum and Abner Dictionary today:


©Jimbo 2010/201

Review: Pat Novak For Hire

There's a reason why I do a feature now and then called, Stuff Pat Novak Says; the show, Pat Novak For Hire is one of radio's best-written. It was written by a man named Richard Breen, who just happened to be Jack Webb's roommate in 1946 when the show began.

Webb was perfect for the role, providing just enough wit when he spat out line after line of quotable soliloquy. Unlike other shows that did nearly the same thing (Broadway is My Beat, Jeff Regan Private Investigator, et al) Webb's portrayal gave the prototype noir feel to Detective Novak, so typical of the film detectives of the same era, when film noir was at it's height.

Pat Novak was the most hard-boiled detective that ever roamed the coast of San Francisco. Every show started the same: a foghorn in the distance - you could imagine looking across the foggy Bay and seeing the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz. Then he'd walk a bit and descriptively tell you how he rented boats to make ends meet.

Novak's descriptions never left you guessing what he saw or imagined:
"The veins stood out in his face and made a pattern as if he slept on an alligator bag instead of a pillow."

"The sky was the color of a bruised spot on a man's arm."

"He was crumpled up against the desk and she was staring down at him as if she forgot to water the plants."

"It was a pretty room, if you like dead women on your rugs. She was stretched out in a pale, yellow dressing gown, as quiet as an April morning and twice as pretty."

"His head was over to one side, and his body was twisted over the other way, as if he couldn't make up his mind which direction to die in."

"She stood leaning there for a minute, sort of a girl who moves when she stands still. She had blonde hair. She was kind of pretty, except you could see somebody had used her badly, like a dictionary in a stupid family."

"She was wearing black lounging pajamas, tied tight around her slim waist. She looked like a wasp with a nice sting."

"I watched her as she turned and walked out the door. She was wearing a flowered print dress, and as she walked, the roses kept getting mixed up with the daisies. She walked with a nice friendly movement, like the trap door on a gallows."

"When I came in, she was sitting on my couch drinking my whiskey. Hmm. She could have all wanted. A 1949 Panther model. Just the right amount of size 12 in a dress that looked like a well-tailored fig leaf. When she was through looking at you, you looked like the Sunday supplement."
The cynical Novak character was able to say "dirty" things out loud, without actually saying them. The potency of his words could conjure up many startling images to those who actually listened to him, some dark, some light. There was never a censor problem because the words were pure art; only a dirty mind would provide a dirty thought to what he said.

Webb, in his first radio crime play, ripped a new seam in the world of delightful figures of speech.  The show was so good it was canceled and it came back to life in 1949 and in between the time that it was axed, it came back with the same writer, star and director as the exact same show with different character names and a different show title in "Johnny Madero, Pier 23."

The show obviously had a giant cult following that demanded the show return each time it was cut down. And listening to the program (when Webb was the star) provides the answer why.

The stories were all just there in order to allow the metaphors to exist. The cases that Novak had were all pretty much the same: find a man, find a woman. Sure, he'd have to board a train one time or check another part of town - but the same formulas existed in every episode. The show lived and breathed on the relentless one-liners.

Eventually in 1949 the show changed a bit after the cancellations and in it's return and grand entrance on ABC radio. Novak was played then by Ben Morris. Novak also had an assistant (Jocko Madigan) and a steady foil (Police Lieutenant Hellman who was played by Raymond Burr.)

But it wasn't the same at all. Webb's words were dynamite while Morris' were firecrackers.

In it's heyday, a fine show, so very typical of the films of the era.

©Jimbo 2010/2011

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Oops no podcast until Friday

I've run into a bit of a creative wall and I have yet to make the promised podcast even though I have literally spent hours trying to produce a new one.

Please give me until Friday, thanks.

©Jimbo 2010/2011

Mommy can I eat the Comic Buttons?

Oops.  The spokesman for Kellogg's Pep cereal tells the kids the Comic Buttons can be eaten! (Near the end of the clip.)

Hodge-podge of photos (lots of Bing and Dinah)

This from press material for the Mel Blanc Show

They just don't know

They just don't know!

They just don't know that we are really having a good time.

They just don't know that we fall fast asleep solving crimes or rollicking on stage with Fred Allen and Jack Benny.

They just don't know that I was immersed in the music of Bernard Herrmann or the lovely strings of the London Philharmonic.

They just don't know I live in 1945.

They just don't know that when I take a walk my mind is on the cold wind and Casey, Crime Photographer.

They just don't know that when no one is around, I am doing imitations of The Old Timer on Fibber McGee and Molly - and doing it very badly.

They just don't know that I drove from Chicago to Toledo and the whole time I listened to all of Baby Snooks' skits at least three times and the trip went by so fast!

They just don't know that some people cannot afford a TV set and listen to old-time radio and it's twice the fun.

They just don't know that Arnold Stang can brighten up your day.

They just don't know that Groucho Marx was more than a stolen idea of a stork that sells pickles.

They just don't know that Henry Morgan was a strange man but a very funny one.

They just don't know what can be found when you try new OTR you have never listened to before.

They just don't know how much time I have invested in OTR.

They just don't know that I live in a different world than they do - because I don't like their world at all.

They just don't know I can go anywhere and be anyone I want with the flick of a button.

They just don't know how much the world has changed in 65 years.

They just don't know how funny Walter Tetley was.

They just don't know.

©Jimbo 2010/2011

A small tribute to Bernard Herrmann (films)

Bernard Herrmann, in my estimation, was the greatest composer of film soundtracks in the cinema. He also composed a lot of radio themes (among them, the themes for Suspense and Have Gun Will Travel.)

Here is a small tribute to him for some of his lesser-known film work:

Groucho tells how he lost out on Take it or Leave it

Lum and Abner Dictionary update/April 13

All 4 of the entries in today's Lum and Abner Dictionary are close to classic, in my opinion.  You will have to look up the pronunciation of them to see what I mean:


©Jimbo 2010/2011

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Moorehead, Jameson, Ozzie Nelson, Harriet Hilliard photo dump

Benny, Sinatra, Arlene Francis photo dump

©Jimbo 2010/2011

Five things off the top of my head that changed radio

5. Comedians Who Used Silence as Humor - Comedians such as Jack Benny and Gale Gordon used silence as a comedy tool, unlike the machine gun repartee  of Burns and Allen and Milton Berle, Benny's pauses brought just as much laughter to audiences as a joke would.

4. The Rise of the Drama and Comedy over Music - Thanks to shows like Lux Radio Theatre, the drama changed radio by 1935 - from a news and music medium to a drama/comedy medium. 

3.  The Rise of the Kiddie Adventure - Crime fighters and adventures-seekers come in all shapes and sizes and a lot of them were geared at the child.  By the late 1930's, these shows were all over the dial.

2. The Rise of the Soap Opera - Lonely women, whose husbands and boyfriends were off fighting  on foreign soil, became captivated by the "soap opera" - radio melodrama whose commercials were geared at the woman (soap, breakfast cereals, hair products, etc.)

1. The Mercury Theater Presents The War of the Worlds  - No fault of their own, Orson Welles, Agnes Moorehead and company create panic on Halloween night in 1938, giving people a whole new understanding about the power of radio.

©Jimbo 2010/2011

Cool Gunsmoke stuff

Colonna, Berle, Kelk + rare color Lucy 1950's


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