Sunday, December 1, 2019

Welcome to the Kitschmas Advent Calendar 2019 !!! T - 24 Days ... and Counting !!!

     Good morning and welcome back to Year 11 (!!!) for the K.A.C. ! Hard to believe I've been doing this for over a decade, but it's true! If you're here, you know what to expect - 24 days of mirth and madness (and a bit of history snuck in, as well) regarding the sillier (and stranger) aspects of Christmas - it's an Advent Calendar like no other!

     Our theme this year is 'Christmas For Your Ears' - and our illustration on top will give you a hint where we're going with this. I've been a fan of vintage radio programs for as long as I can remember (among my other interests) and have collected a number of the more outre' examples of what went out over the airwaves through the years - and I've got a number of them here for you. During the 1930s and '40s, radio drama was THE foremost entertainment in the average home, before being supplanted by television in the 1950s and '60s. These were professional productions, with top Hollywood actors of the stage and screen. There were original dramas, as well as adaptations of famous (and infamous) stories - and the one thing radio ALWAYS had over television was that YOUR IMAGINATION had to fill in what you were hearing. Today's movie special effects technicians had nothing on radio's effects men, who could conjure up everything from a mutated chicken heart growing larger by the minute to attack mankind, to the end of the world by a hundred different means ... and then bring you back again for a word from our sponsor. Many a child would listen to these shows with the lights out and scare themselves half to death - then do it again next week, same time, same channel, with only the feeble glow of the radio dial to keep them from their demise! :) 

     Each day I'll put up a new show that has something to do with Christmas ... however, DON'T be expecting heartwarming tales of the season (well, maybe a few)! Oh, no, that's not how we do things here! Instead, listen with disbelief at what families of the Golden Age of Radio were hearing when the presents were all unwrapped, they had some tasty hot beverages and were gathered around the console radio (like the beauty pictured above from 1936), expecting holiday cheer and getting something ... different ... consider them Podcasts From the Past.

     Like what, you ask? Well, let's start off with one of the longest-running radio shows of all time: Suspense, which ran from 1940 - 1962, with an incredible output of 946 stories! We'll let OTRCAT introduce our initial entry: "In 1943 we are treated to Peter Lorre in "Back For Christmas". Lorre plays a henpecked botany professor who is working on a "devils garden" in the cellar while his shrewish wife nags him to ready for their scheduled sailing for a lecture tour of America. Any Suspense fan will realize early on that there is going to be more than orchids buried in the basement, but it is her surprise Christmas present that will be the professor's undoing! Suspense would present this story twice more, starring Herbert Marshall first in 1948 using a very close adaptation of the script used by Lorre but under the title "Holiday Story", and again in 1956 with a rewritten and updated script."

     So settle back, close your eyes and let your imagination do the rest as you listen to "Back For Christmas".

The 1943 show also serves as a fascinating time capsule, with the commercials reflecting what the audience was going through during World War II, how on edge they were (as seen in this WWII radio propaganda poster) and how they were hoping for peace, both from that war and from war in the future. 


     In addition to our daily Christmas Show For Your Ears, I'll provide you with our usual weird news items and unbelievable toys and fads of the season, starting tomorrow ... until then, I'll keep you in ... Suspense! Thanks for reading and listening.

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