The MaxFun Blog

Maximum Fun is your home on the internet for things that are awesome. Our blog will guide you and our family of podcasts will entertain and inform you. About

Podthoughts by Colin Marshall: X Minus One

| 2 comments

Though you've no doubt guessed as much, your Podthinker spent much of his childhood utterly fixated on old time radio, which Wikipedia defines as "a period of radio programming in the United States lasting from the proliferation of radio broadcasting in the early 1920s until television's replacement of radio as the dominant home entertainment medium in the 1950s." And of all the old time radio that survives, what form could be finer than the venerable radio drama, which hung in there all the way until 1962?

For a kid growing up in the early 90s, though, getting ahold of the stuff wasn't easy. While obviously long absent from the airwaves, it hadn't yet found the glorious freedom of the internet, either. (Pre-MP3 and with a 14.4k modem, one faced down the barrel of an all-day download even if the shows were available on the web, which they weren't.) This meant either scraping together enough allowance to buy sketchy cassettes from collector shops or, more doably, waiting until the next gift-receiving holiday and wishing for OTR by the boxful.

Hence your Podthinker's deep-seated association of the Holiday SeasonTM with shows like Suspense, Captain Midnight, The Great Gildersleeve, Amos & Andy — which, legally, we're probably not allowed to mention — and X Minus One. While most or all of these favorites are now up for the download in a variety of spots across the internet, including the astounding archive.org, many are out there as podcasts, and it's the last of that list [iTunes] [RSS] we'll examine this week.

Originally aired from 1955 to 1958 by NBC, X Minus One dramatized prose pieces ripped from the pages of Galaxy Science Fiction and Astounding Science Fiction, magazines featuring breathless prose, vivid cover paintings and stories with titles like "Saucer of Loneliness", "Tunnel Under the World" and "Dr. Grimshaw's Sanatorium". Some episodes kind of phone it in by simply assigning one actor the "narrator" role and the rest the lines of dialogue given their characters in the original text, but others are downright elaborate productions, constructing a detailed sonic environment that, given the technology of the era, must have commanded the skills of every professional wood-block-clapping, metal-sheet-wobbling, short-sleeve-dress-shirt-clad middle-aged foley artist within a five-mile radius.

Some episodes are captivating, some hokey, but hey, both qualities entertain! It's entirely possible to guffaw at X Minus One's more outmoded, 50s-y elements while simultaneously appreciating all that's dramatically and aesthetically interesting about it. (In fact, the experience is arguably uncommonly enriched by that dynamic.) And strikingly unlike commercial radio today, even the ads are fun to listen to through the historical sound-prism, though modern hipsters will doubtlessly be crestfallen to hear that, yes, at one time, their beloved Pabst Blue Ribbon did advertise.

Though meant, shouts its announcer, to deliver us to "a million could be years in a thousand maybe worlds," the series adheres to the old observation about sci-fi: it's not about the future, it's about the present in terms of the future. Of course, since X Minus One's present is our past, its short plays are about the mid-to-late 50s in terms of the future, which, in the mid-to-late 50s, looked a lot different than it does now. [YOGI BERRA QUOTE TO BE INSERTED HERE] Thus these lurid tales of interstellar flight, extraplanetary colonies, video phones, space aliens and robots — or, in the parlance of the time, "robuts" — reflect all manner of anxieties about incomprehensible foreigners, technology's rapid advance, mutually assured destruction and the scourge of abstract modern art.

The show has been converted into podcast form by an outfit called "Humphrey Camardella Productions", who stay mostly out of the way but occasionally toss in spots for their complete box set of old time radio favorites, whose spines, their pitchman claims, line up on your shelf to form one big image, "like a jigsaw puzzle." What's more, he calls this gimmick "the neatest idea imaginable," which is just about the gravest failure of imagination your Podthinker has witnessed. Still, OTR is OTR, and now that it's this convenient to obtain, the next step can only be mainlining it straight into one's veins. Your Podthinker ties off as we speak.

Vital stats:
Format: old-time sci-fi adaptations
Duration: ~20m
Frequency: weekly
Archive available on iTunes: all

[Got a podcast to suggest for Podthoughts coverage or any other sort of question and/or comment for Podthinker Colin Marshall? colinjmarshall at gmail.]

Jordan, Jesse, Go Episode 120: Cardigans with Greg Behrendt

| 0 comments
Guests: 
Greg Behrendt

Greg Behrendt joins Jesse and Jordan to talk about cardigans, high school football, the neighborhood association and more.

Nick Kroll as "El Chupacabra" on WTF

| 1 comment

This trumps the heck out of me and Jordan's arguments about El Cucuy and El Piolin. Nick Kroll is amazing.

ENHANCE

| 3 comments

Thank you so very much, MaxFunster Scott. Thank you so very much.

John Hodgman on Goldman Sachs

| 0 comments

John Hodgman explains the function and history of Goldman Sachs for GQ.

"What is Goldman Sachs?

"Goldman Sachs is an investment bank founded in 1869 with the simple goal of providing short-term loans to local businesses and to secretly run the U.S. government."

Eddie Pepitone on WTF

| 0 comments

A month or so ago, I went and did Marc Maron's WTF at the UCB Theater. It was a lot of fun, and maybe the most fun was Eddie Pepitone's profane, meandering rant on the Balloon Boy and Parks and Recreation and so on.

Very NSFW.

Reppin the CT

| 0 comments

Colbert rips a guest verse with Alicia Keys.

MaxFunCon Podcast Ep. 5: Marc Maron

| 0 comments

Marc Maron is one of our headliners at MaxFunCon 2010 and one of our favorite comedians ever. His podcast, WTF, remains the top ten on iTunes popularity because yeah: he is that good.

Here he is with Janeane Garofalo, an old friend & partner in crime in the alternative comedy scene of the 90's.




Jump over to MaxFunCon.com to grab it, or subscribe in iTunes.

TSOYA Classics: Your Brain on Music with Matmos and Daniel J. Levitin (October 20th, 2006)

| 0 comments

This week on The Sound of Young America, we explode your brain with the power of music and ideas. Our first guest, Daniel J. Levitin, is the author of "This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession." Levitin a former record producer, who today is a neuroscientist studying the relationship between the brain and music.

Then we speak with the electronic music duo Matmos. Their new album, "The Rose Has Teeth in the Mouth of a Beast," presents ten biographical sketches of historical figures they admire. The music itself is composed of sounds related to the figures, including a cow's reproductive system played in the manner of a bagpipe.



Listen to This Week's Show

Download This Week's Show (mp3)
Subscribe to TSOYA Classic: iTunes / Feed

MaxFunCon: The Installment Plan

| 0 comments

If you want to come to MaxFunCon, but you'd rather pay in FOUR EASY PAYMENTS, then have I got news for you...

NOW YOU CAN.

For a limited time only, people.

Syndicate content