Thursday, August 25, 2005

spring up

Image hosted by

Can you believe this weather? Last week we were shivering in the icy wind blowing off the mountain. This afternoon it was so warm and sunny while I was in the city that I stopped for an ice cream!

All the trees are coming out in blossom -- even our notoriously slow wattle is in flower. There's even a sprinkling of daisies coming up on the back lawn.

Thanks to those generous people at OTRCAT I was able to listen to an episode of the classic American radio series Lights Out last week.

Lights Out debuted in 1934 and was radio's premier horror series created by writer/director Willis Cooper, who later scripted Boris Karloff's 1939 classic Son of Frankenstein. Cooper was succeeded by Arch Oboler, one of the great dramatists of Old Time Radio. Oboler had scripted Mae West's infamous "Garden of Eden" sketch and brought a new level of psychological horror to radio in scripts like "Cat Wife," "Sub-Basement," and "Chicken Heart" [famously recalled by Bill Cosby in one of his funniest routines].

Although I've known of the show for years (it ran till 1947) and once owned a vinyl LP of horror stories written by Oboler, I'd never actually heard an episode of the programme before.

The story in question was "Oxychloride X" and is one of two Oboler stories about the end of the world. (The other is the over-the-top classic "The Chicken Heart".) This starts out quietly and calmly until the introverted protagonist goes berserk in the college laboratory and invents an unstoppable solvent.

The events that follow makes Orson Welles' famous War of the Worlds broadcast sound like the chimps' picnic at the zoo. Oboler destroys not just the human race but the entire planet! However, in the style of Alfred Hitchcock's end-of-story disclaimers, there's a soothing final scene in which we discover it was all a dream.

Certainly a lively half-hour. Really brings back the feel of the Golden Age of radio.

Whenever a new sound media comes along, we're told how wonderful and durable it is. I remember in the early days of magnetic tape, one manufacturer had an advertisement in which tape was frozen in a block of ice, thawed out and played perfectly. The fact that such a thing was unlikely to happen in the average home was glossed over.

In the real world, cassette tapes proved to have built-in drawbacks including stretching, bleed through and sticking together, making them impractical for long-term storage.

Enter the Compact Disc.

When the CD was first introduced, it was of course described as being the perfect medium for sound recording. People had exaggerated idea of the durability of the discs, only to be disillusioned by problems caused by scratches and dust.

I remember when the DVD came out, I was taken in at first by the hype which described it (you guessed it) as the perfect medium for conveying sound and vision. I was brought down to earth by hiring a George Clooney movie from my local video library and discovering it was so badly scratched it couldn't be played at all.

So after all that I wasn't at all surprised to see that the Imation company have brought out a CD-R which promises to have fewer problems than a normal disc.

Marketed with the catchphrase "Don't your memories deserve an extra layer of protection?", the Imation Forcefield disc promises a scratch-resistant coating, anti-static repulsion of dust particles, and wipe-clean surface in case of smears and smudges.

But can you freeze it in a block of ice?

PETROL PATROL: Fuel is up to $1.25 a litre in Hobart, but a recent letter in the local press points out we're still not paying as much as some countries are. Quite high enough for me, though.

It's usually the habit of television networks to program like against like. Rather than put shows of different types against each other, they prefer to match the opposition with a clone of their hit show and try and split the audience.

Wednesday night here is a perfect example of this. Beyond Tomorrow and The New Inventors compete for the attention of the audience interested in science/technology. Later the audience who enjoy police drama in the Big Apple have to decide between Without a Trace or Law & Order: Criminal Intent.

But of course that's why they invented the VCR.

I hear on Tony Delroy's radio show while I'm typing this that someone wants to make a new version of the science fiction film Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

Excuse me?

Last time I looked there had been two feature films, one black-and-white and one in colour, and I think at least two telemovies.

Not to mention the original novel which was a serial in Collier's magazine before that.

Do we really need another re-make?

CD of the Day:

Back In The Swing
Anthony Warlow with the
Victorian Philharmonic Orchestra
Polydor Records 1993

People often ask me what style of music I like to sing when I'm not performing on the Opera or Musical Theatre stage. This album is the best I can give. From the romance of "Autumn Leaves" to the crazy fun of "Orange Coloured Sky" this collection celebrates the music of a golden era, the Swing Era. So whether you're hearing these songs for the first time or rediscovering an old favourite, I hope you'll enjoy listening to the music I enjoy singing.

Yes, it's an album of show tunes by Anthony Warlow. All the usual suspects: Cole Porter, Duke Ellington, Hoagy Carmichael, George Gershwin, Lerner & Loewe etc etc.

The 15 tracks here make for pleasant listening, though the first number is a bit of a surprise: "Blue Heaven" from the antique musical The Desert Song. I don't think I've ever heard such an uptempo version of Sigmund Romberg.


No comments: