Tag Archives: Way Back Wednesday

Way Back Wednesdays: “Suspense: Dead Earnest”


As we get ready for Trick or Treating Saturday night, I am taking this week to look at a variety of spooky things.  So I figured for today’s Way Back Wednesdays (hosted by A Well Read Woman), I’d look back on something from pop culture that chilled me in my younger days and left an impression on me.

I’m a big fan of old time radio, especially the old time comedies. I was introduced to old time radio by the Star Wars radio dramas.  They used to air on my local NPR station Sunday evenings and that would lead into a show called the Big Broadcast.  The Big Broadcast was a couple of hours of vintage radio shows that aired each Sunday night.  Among those in the regular rotation were The Great Gildersleeve and Suspense.

The good thing about old time radio is that it allowed your imagination to fill in the gaps.  The bad thing about old time radio was that it allowed your imagination to fill in the gaps.  This is especially true when it came to scary or suspenseful shows since my imagination is far better than television or a movie could ever hope to be.

Suspense-logo-300x168Which brings us to the episode of Suspense for today, “Dead Earnest.”

The set-up is fairly straight-forward.  A guy named Earnest is a catalpetic.  This means that he can appear to be dead even if he’s not.  Earnest has a medical bracelet detailing his condition and carries a note in his pocket.   But when he’s almost hit by a car and suffers an attack, he’s separated from both.    What follows is an edge-of-your-seat story as various people find the note and other pieces of Earnest’s wardrobe and we wonder if Earnest will be actually killed when the people at the morgue go to embalm him.

This episode really got under my skin when I first heard it and listening to it years later, it’s still a good study in how to build tension and suspense.

Suspense broadcast the story several times with a variety of casts during its run.

If you want to hear the story, the good news is that most old time radio is in the public domain, so you can download and enjoy it.  The Escape and Suspense web site has an entry on the episode and a couple of versions you can download and enjoy.


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Way Back Wednesdays: Buck Rogers in the 25th Century


It’s been a couple of weeks since I did a Way Back Wednesdays (hosted by A Well Read Woman).  This meme was originally intended to look back at those books we’ve read that made a big impact on us.  But I’ve decided to expand the scope of my (occasional) entries to look at things from pop culture that were memorable in some way.

Buck_Rogers_Movie_Poster_01Today I thought I’d look at one the cheesiest series from the late 70’s: Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.

At the time when I was all of six or seven, this show didn’t seem cheesy in the slightest.  It seemed like a lot of great fun and the chance to see something like Star Wars every single week on my television screen.

There are a couple of things I clearly recall about the show: Continue reading


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Way Back Wednesday: Recorded Live


Time again for Way Back Wednesday hosted by A Well Read Woman.  This meme is usually about those books we’ve read that have had a big impact on us or were memorable.  But this week, I’m going to go off script a bit and share my memories of a short film that, quite frankly, scared the tar out of me as a young viewer.

The film in question is called Recorded Live and it aired on HBO between movies back in the early 80’s.  (They also aired music videos back in the time before we had MTV.  I recall watching the video to We Are the World on HBO.  Yes, I’m old.)

I believe I only saw the short film once but it was enough.  I didn’t recall much of it, beyond the fact that our hero is on the run from what I thought was reel to reel tape.  It chases him all over a deserted building and eventually catches up to him.  He’s enveloped in the tape and eaten.  The tape then rolls back onto the reel and giggles, waiting for its next victim. Continue reading


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Way Back Wednesday: It by Stephen King


Time again for Way Back Wednesday hosted by A Well Read Woman.  This meme looks back at those books that made an impression on us or were memorable.

itLast week, I heard news that the two-movie, big-screen adaptation of Stephen King’s It had been put on hold and was, most likely, not going to happen.    My first thought was that since this wasn’t a King adaptation from Frank Darabont, this was probably not necessarily a bad thing.  My other was that the novel has been adapted once before as a mini-series with Tim Curry playing the memorable role of Pennywise the Clown.

I’ve seen the mini-series and I’ve got to say that I wasn’t overly thrilled with it.  It was good, but no where quite as good as the book itself.  Of course, that’s a trend for a lot of King’s work when it comes to making the jump to the screen.

Part of it is that this one weights in at over 1,000 pages.  I recall checking it out from the library at age 12 or 13 when it had just come out in paperback.   The novel seemed huge and would be the longest book I’d read to that point — or at least I think it was.   I wasn’t sure that I’d have time to get it all read in the three weeks the book was mine.

But I started on it and was immediately hooked.

Then, I got the stomach flu and ended up stuck in bed with a high fever for three days.  I was so miserable with the flu that I didn’t even want to get up and stagger to the couch to watch TV.    My parents brought in an old black and white TV for me to watch the daily showing of Doctor Who (the memories of the glory days of KTEH….) and I tried to feel better.  And while I was awake, I was riveted to It.

The story is one of a some kind of evil that stalks the small Maine town of Derry.  The evil manifests itself during the childhood and the later adulthood of a group of friends, outsiders and rejects who are able to vanquish the evil but not quite kill it one summer in their youth.    The story flashes back and forth between time periods and King spends a good portion of the novel crafting his characters and building to the final showdown.

I read this one in three days, stuck in bed and loved it.  It was scary, intense and it’s definitely in the upper pantheon of great Stephen King novels.  Yes, it’s a long book but King makes it worth every single last page.  I recall being riveted to the final battle between our heroes and the evil force.  King painted a vivid picture in my mind of the battle and it was one, quite frankly, that the mini-series couldn’t live up to.  It also didn’t help that none of the actors chosen for the mini-series remotely resembled the images I’d crafted for them in my minds’ eye.

I’m tempted from time to time to go back and re-read this one.  I may just do it one day and see if it’s still as great now as it was then.


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Way Back Wednesday: Vendetta by Peter David


Time again for Way Back Wednesday hosted by A Well Read Woman.  Each week this meme looks back at those books that we read that were memorable or made an impact on us.

vendettaThis week, I thought I’d go with another media tie-in novel — Star Trek: The Next Generation: Vendetta by Peter David.

I didn’t know who Peter David was before I picked up his first Next Generation novel, Strike Zone many years ago.  I didn’t know of his long, definitive run on the Hulk comic books nor of his work on various Trek tie-in comics.  But with two books, David quickly became one of my favorite writers for Trek tie-in fiction.

David has this way of finding the absurdities and pointing them out with humor.  One memorable passage in Strike Zone has Picard and Riker in the turbolift in the early stages of season two.  Riker has just grown his beard and he wonders if Picard isn’t jealous that Riker has more hair on his chin than Picard does on his head.

I’ll admit it — it still amuses me to this day.

But if his first two Next Generation books were appetizers, then Vendetta was the main course.

With Vendetta, David began his trend of big novels in the Star Trek universe that tied together threads from both (we only had two at the time!) series.  In this case, David brought back the Borg and tied in continuity from the original series “The Doomsday Machine” to it.   For a fan who loved all three Borg installments of TNG and “The Doomsday Machine” this was exactly up my alley.  Basically, the Doomsday Machine was built to defeat the Borg.

And this one is set after the events of “Best of Both Worlds” and before Trek had to start “defanging” the Borg.

As a Trek fan, this absolutely pushed all the right buttons with me.  This novel was one of the Giant Novels published in the Trek canon and it lived up to it.  (The Giant Novels later became the hardcover releases when they realized they could get even more money out of us).   Epic battles, continuity galore and the trademark David humor.  This novel had just about everything and I have fond memories of reading it far too quickly because I was loving every minute of it.

Is this a book that is going to show up on a list of great literature of the 20th Century that should be studies and read by future generations?   No, not really.

But did it entertain me no end and was it utterly memorable?   Yes, yes, yes, a thousand times yes.

If you love TNG and TOS, do yourself a favor and read this one. Trust me.

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Way Back Wednesday: Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery


Mid-week means it’s time for Way Back Wednesday hosted by A Well Read Woman.  This meme asks us to look back to those books we’ve read that have had a special impact on us.

anneofggFor this week’s selection, I decided to go with Anne of Green Gables.

The series was first recommended to me by either a librarian as part of the summer reading program or by a teacher at school during the reading portion of my middle school years.   And I’ve got to be honest that the first time I tried to read the book, I couldn’t get past the feeling that the opening paragraph was just a run-on sentence.  Frustrated, I threw the novel aside and didn’t think anything more about it until….

(If you’re a certain age, you probably know where this is headed)

….the PBS miniseries.

I watched the miniseries (or bits of it) with my parents and decided that maybe I should give the novel another chance. So, we headed back to the library and I checked it out again.   I made it past the opening paragraph and this time, something stuck.  I found myself quickly reading the novel and then looking for its sequel.

I’ll admit I didn’t read the entire series (I’m not sure I ever have).  I got to book three and began to lose interest in the adventures of an older Anne. But there’s something about her in the first two books that I really liked and I enjoyed reading.   I wonder if I might not try the series again as an adult and see if I have any more patience with the later novels.

I think I’ve  seen Megan Follows in guest roles on other TV shows from time to time and I find it difficult not to associate her with Anne Shirley and the pigtails she wore.



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Way Back Wednesday: Hamilton Duck by Arthur Getz

Mid-week means it’s time again for Way Back Wednesday hosted by A Well Read Woman.  Each week, this meme looks back at those books we’re read that have had a lasting impact.

HamiltonDuckThis week, I’m setting the controls of the Way Back Machine to way, way back when I was very, very young.  One of my favorite books at an early age was Hamilton Duck.

It chronicles the story of Hamilton, a duck who is thrown a curve by the changing of the seasons.   Hamilton is bewildered to find that his beloved pond has frozen over and he even has a conversation with a fish that is trapped under the frozen layer of ice on his pond.

I loved this book growing up.  It had great illustrations and a fun little story.   Part of what I loved was that I associated going fishing with one set of grandparents and the storyline about the fish always made me think of them.

My mom still has a copy of the book from when I was growing up and I hope someday I can share it with my kids (whenever we’re blessed with them, of course!)

Looking around, I see there was another book featuring Hamilton Duck.   Whether or not I read it or was aware of its existence before now I can’t really say.


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Way Back Wednesday: The Star Prince

waybackwednesdayTime again for Way Back Wednesday hosted by A Well Read Woman.  This meme asks us to look back at the books we’ve read that have had a particular impact on us.

starprinceThis week, I’m going to look at a book-on-cassette that I had growing up The Star Prince.

The Star Prince is one of a series of adapted science-fiction stories from AudiSee.   Advances in science have led to humanity being smarter than ever before — with a few exceptions.   One of those is Brand, the son of a academic couple.   Because his father, Morton,  chose to let Brand live instead of “disposing” of him as a baby, the family bears the stigma of raising him.  A career cross-roads, the father decides that he will take Brand to a space colony so he can find a life there.

Brand is excited about this because he’s had dreams since he was a young child of a forest by a lake.   However, the colony chosen may not have this particular feature.   Traveling to the colony, the family’s space ship breaks down and they’re forced to crash land on a planet that has the forest by the lake.   The planet’s inhabitants are a telepathic people who see Brand as their chosen leader, foretold as coming from the stars. Continue reading


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Way Back Wednesday: Amazing Spider-Man #20


Time again for Way Back Wednesday hosted by A Well Read Woman.   This meme takes a look back at those book we’ve read that have had a big impact on us or that were memorable from our younger days.

Amazing_Spider-Man_Vol_1_20This week, I’m focusing not so much on a book but a comic book.   It’s one of my all-time favorites Amazing Spider-Man #20.  

While I’m not old enough to have read it when it was first published, I did get my hands on a copy of the a reprint during my comic book collecting days.    Marvel Tales was reprinting the Stan Lee/Steve Ditiko era of Spider-Man and I clearly recall getting and reading this issue many, many times.

Issue 20 sees J. Jonah Jameson becoming so frustrated in his attempts to bring down Spider-Man that he invests his own money into creating a foe that is more powerful than Spider-Man and can finally eliminate him from the picture.   So, JJJ finds a scientist who turns a seemingly ordinary criminal named Mack Gargan into the Scorpion.   (The logic is that the Scorpion is the natural enemy of the spider).

Spidey and the Scorpion have an initial battle and it appears the Scorpion has eliminated Spidey.  But the Scorpion starts to have some unintended side effects and blames JJJ for it, breaking off the battle and going after Jameson.  Spidey is forced to overcome the Scorpion’s superior strength by using his own wits and understanding of his powers.

I love this issue of The Amazing Spider-Man.  I find myself wishing that somehow Sam Raimi had seen fit to include the character in one of his Spider-Man movies (I get why we had Doc Ock and Green Goblin in the first two, but I’d much rather have had Scorpion over Venom in Spider-Man 3).   Growing up, I was (and still am) fascinated by putting heroes up against villains who are designed to be the equal or more powerful than the hero and seeing how the villain is defeated.    And while the Green Goblin and Doc Ock get more of the press, I still think the Scorpion ranks up there as my favorite Spidey villain.  And a lot of it is from this issue — and another annual that I’ll get to at some point for a future installment of this meme.


Re-reading it years later, I can see that there are other, more definitive Spider-Man installments from this era.  But yet there’s still not a comic that held my attention and made me want to re-read it many, many times like this one.   And that’s just one of the reasons it’s one of my favorites….

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Way Back Wednesday: Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume


It’s Way Back Wednesday!   Each week, A Well Read Woman asks us to look back on those books that made a particular impact on us as younger readers.

fourthgradeThis week, I’ve decided to look back at Judy Blume’s Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing.

Outside of the Ramona books, I probably read the Fudge books the most growing up. Of course, I’m old enough to recall when there was only one book feature the Hatcher family and the excitement I felt when I discovered that Blume had published a sequel.  But that’s probably a future Way Back Wednesday Installment.

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing is told to us from the point of view of Peter Hatcher.  Peter and his family live in an apartment in New York City. Peter is the oldest child and has a crazy brother who goes by the name of Fudge,   Peter’s prized possession is his pet turtle that he wins at a friend’s birthday party.

The book is an episodic one with Peter relating various aspects of the family’s life and dealing with Fudge.  Fudge becomes the star of an ad campaign for his father in one chapter and attempts to go on a hunger strike in another — with hilarious results.   His parents becomes so frustrated that they tell Fudge to “eat it or wear it” to which Fudge decides to wear the food.  Somehow this phrase became part of my family’s lexicon and my parents would quote it to me and my sister if we turned up our noses at something served to us at the dinner table.

Of course, Fudge is jealous of the turtle and this leads to the final chapter in which Fudge eats the turtle and has to go the the hospital.  Peter realizes that while Fudge is annoying, he still loves his brother and in the end, they get a dog that they name…wait for it…Turtle.

I have a lot of fond memories of this book.  It was one of those comfy books I re-read many times.   A few years ago, I saw a stage production of the book and it brought back a lot of good memories.    I know that Blume has penned a couple of sequels to the book, featuring the Hatcher family.

Again, more on that in weeks to come….


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