Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Ivan vs. the Post Office, Round 2

I apologize for neglecting the blog as of late, but I’ve sort of been up to my eyeballs with Operation: Clutter here at Rancho Yesteryear, and either I don’t have the time to sit down to write meaningless prather or the energy. Mostly the latter, I suppose.

I had an encounter with my arch-nemesis, Smock Lady, at the USPS office on Saturday. She has now threatened me that if I continue my dropping-packages-in-the-bin-the-way-the-Good-Lord-intended ways, they will not be mailed and she will have the packages returned to me. For one brief instant, I thought about a scenario in which I would drop the packages in the bin, have them returned, drop them again, have them returned, ad infinitum until one of us cracks…and I think it would be Smock Lady, who would retaliate by having a few of her goons come to the house and work over my parents with a baseball bat. Since I would not be able to stomach that kind of violence (I’m sure Mom would take care of her goons in very short order) I decided to throw in the towel. Smock Lady continues to insist I can have the packages picked up by our postal carrier and there will be no problems.

So, Sunday night, I box up three large packages to go out Monday morning and make arrangements (through the USPS website) to have the carrier take them back to the post office. Because this went off without a hitch, I begin to suspect that there was something seriously wrong…only I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. As it would happen, I just went down to the mailbox to mail some bills…only to discover that yesterday’s outgoing mail is still in the friggin’ box. (*wah wah wah wah*) Well, one thing you can say about the USPS…when it comes to hiring morons, they’re an equal opportunity employer.

First Generation Radio Archives rolled out another Premier Collection this past March 1st, and I’m sorry I didn’t announce it on that same date: it’s a third volume of Amos ‘n’ Andy programs from the half-hour sitcom’s early years, circa 1944 and 1945. I often refer to Amos ‘n’ Andy as “the third rail of old-time radio” due to its controversial nature but I have to admit that these early shows are very entertaining to listen to, before Messrs. Gosden and Correll (the show’s stars/writers/producers, etc.) took the “Kingfish cons Andy this week” formula and hit the program over the head with it. Two programs in this collection really stand out: the show’s traditional Christmas broadcast (12-22-44), in which once again Amos interprets the meaning of “The Lord’s Prayer” to his daughter Arbadella. This segment was a yearly staple of Amos ‘n’ Andy, but when the program switched to half-hour status in the fall of 1943, they ended up having to pad it out with an amusing subplot in which Andy gets a job as a department store Santa to obtain a doll desperately wanted by Arbadella. This subplot is a much more subdued version of the one heard in later years (1948, 1949, 1950, etc.) and works much better, I think. After the Christmas show, Gosden and Correll did a New Year’s Eve-themed broadcast the following week (12-29-44), in which Andy is convinced that he’s the only one in his social circle who’ll be invited to a swanky society soiree…and instead, turns out to be the non-invitee. A beautiful message of “casting one’s bread upon the waters” is the highlight of this episode, both funny and poignant…a real pip-a-roo.

First Generation also has three brand new Radio Legends collections to share: Night Beat, Mystery is My Hobby and Space Patrol (which I wrote the notes for). I’d strongly recommend the Night Beat volume, for it’s simply one of the best shows produced during Radio’s Golden Age, and Space Patrol’s a lot of fun for the Tom Corbett, Space Cadet lurking inside everyone. FGRA major domo Harlan “Low Overhead” Zinck also has a special deal: with any purchase from the Archives this month, you’ll receive a free CD of rare broadcasts from The Cisco Kid, chosen at random from FGRA’s two previous Cisco Kid Premier Collections.

Also on a radio note, both BobH and TVShowsOnDVD.com announce that Timeless Media Group has a collection of ten episodes of the television version of The Goldbergs due out on April 15. Premiering on radio on November 20, 1929 (as The Rise of the Goldbergs), the series would become a staple of the Blue Network/NBC/CBS’ daytime schedule for close to twenty years, and also appeared on CBS Radio in a half-hour situation comedy version (beginning in September 1949) shortly after the TV edition (also on CBS) went on the air in January of 1949. The details for this release are a bit sketchy, but if I were a gambling man I’d bet the ten episodes have been culled from the show’s syndicated run from 1955-56.

Timeless also has a few vintage TV goodies under their belt for further release, according to TVShows: they’ll finish up the first season of the comedy-western Laredo on March 25 by rolling out the remaining fifteen episodes of the show’s first season in Laredo: The Best of Season 1, Volume 2. (Laredo fans know that the program got a tryout as a pilot entitled “We’ve Lost a Train” on the NBC western series The Virginian in April 1965.) Timeless also has a 3-disc collection of the 1960-62 CBS mystery series Checkmate (Checkmate: The Best of Season 2) due out the same day, as well as a follow-up to their earlier Arrest and Trial release (The Best of Arrest and Trial, Part 2) from last October. Bob has raved so much about this series that I made up my mind to snag a copy at the same time Part 2 comes out; I figure my Mom might get a kick out of this one since it’s the progenitor (broadcast on ABC-TV in 1963-64) of the modern-day Law & Order series.

1 comment:

Bobh said...

Ivan,

You may want to check out Amazon for some deals on the Timeless Media releases. Not sure how long their sale is going to last, but many of the three disc titles are going for $15.49. Unfortunately, the March 25th new releases are not part of the sale. And yes, "Arrest and Trial" is terrific. I have the second volume of that and "Checkmate" on pre-order from DVD Pacific.