Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Old Time Radio

Tonight I will be a guest on Radio Once More discussing classic Christmas movies, radio shows, and music. Please join us!
Old time radio is a lot of fun during the holidays because so many people celebrated the season on their programs, the same way television shows do today. There are a few that I recommend you seek out.
The first is Abbott and Costello’s "Christmas Party" from December 20, 1945. It is a hysterical episode with lots of wit and personality which the boys were known for.
BUD: All Christmas trees belong to the pine family.
LOU: Oh no they don’t! This Christmas tree belongs to me. Let the Pine family get their own tree.
Next is Fibber McGee and Molly from December 21, 1948. The episode has lots of snappy lines (“Maybe that wave is just your hair saying goodbye.”) and funny characters. Mr. Wimple has a reoccurring joke about having a snowball fight with his wife each year, and it is a highlight of the episode.
I love the Jack Benny Show, and his Christmas episodes are top notch. The one from December 17,
1939 is particularly good. Jack goes shopping in search of the perfect gift, something different from the same old thing he always buys. The floorwalker gets snippy with his customers the way I wish I could have when I worked in retail. The delivery of all of the jokes is spot on so this show gets laugh after laugh in perfectly spaced intervals. The episode from December 21, 1941 with Jack Benny is also amusing, but it seems he liked to re-use his “Christmastime” jokes.
Some people might be intimidated by old time radio because we just don’t have an equivalent to it today. However, that doesn’t make it any less accessible if you try. The same way silent movies are beautiful because they indulge the eye in a way that a talking film can’t, radio indulges the ear. The quips are sharper and the characters are more outrageous so you can paint their picture in your mind’s eye.
RADIO: Cinnamon Bear “Samuel Seal”, Jump Jump and the Ice Queen “Arriving at the North Pole”, Jonathan Thomas and his Christmas on the MoonFairy Queen
MOVIE: My family has always been into movies. We never had cable (and to this day neither of my parents have it) so we relied on movies to entertain us. We always had a big collection of things to watch either borrowed from the library or from our own stash. Sometimes we recorded movies from TV and wore those tapes out because of how often we watched them. One such tape was Look Who's Talking Now which was one of my sister's favorites. 
It is a really silly family film that I would groan about if it came out today, but because it got us early enough, it brings back fond memories. My sister had a crush on David Gallagher so she watched this movie and his struggle to believe in Santa Claus over and over again. I remember being amused by how interested the little girl is in basketball players, and of course by the dogs who have audible interior monologues.
But the part I remember the most is the part where the family dances to the Chipmunks song to cheer up the boy. Here it is in all of its corny glory. Enjoy. 

SONG: “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” by Gayla Peevy 
and “I Yust Go Nuts at Christmas” by Yogi Yorgesson
GIFT MEMORY: Getting gifts from my mom has always been an interesting experience, especially once my sister and I became adults. She loves getting practical gifts, which is really her forte, because what she thinks are fun gifts often turn out to be bizarre and confusing. Once year, though, she hit a home run.
I went to her house with my sister prepared for something out of left field. And what she got me was
indeed out of left field, but in a good way. She got me a record player with a radio built in, and it was designed to look like an old radio. It has three settings so it can play 78s, 45s, and 33s. She even bought me a record to play on it, an excellent one of The Ink Spots and Ella Fitzgerald singing “Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall” and “I’m Making Believe.”
I absolutely love my record player, and the fact that I can collect records now. I’ve built up a decent collection including all of the Smothers Brothers records, many of Dick Powell’s records, and now I can play the Christmas records that used to be my great-grandma’s. It has become part of my Christmas traditions too; I often carry it into the dining room so I can listen while I bake for the annual cookie exchange.

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