Currently Listening and Addicted to : YOURS TRULY JOHNNY DOLLAR

I have these episodes of Johnny Dollar on CD, that I purchased off of Ebay many moons ago, and I’ve lately taken to listening to them in the morning when driving to work. They are such an enjoyable alternative to what usually is available on radio these days. And most of the CDs I never listened to (they would always take a backseat to other great, but more garish shows… such as THE SHADOW, SUSPENSE or ESCAPE). Reevaluating it now, in my more seasoned years, the show has a compelling modernity and universalness that transcends its 6+ Decades of age.

And I have to say, this show in particular, because of its still innovative format of using an Insurance Investigator’s expense account as the hook into these narratives, is surprisingly addictive. All adults to some extent are part and parcell of the Insurance world, either as an occupation or a customer, so the films slant is familiar and well worn.

A few talented actors played Johnny Dollar, but the episodes with Bob Bailey… read as the show at its best. Starting in 1955 around episode #185, those are the shows to start with.

And because the shows are public domain you can burn to CD or copy to your media player and listen to as you travel or work.

Listen to some here:

https://archive.org/details/OTRR_YoursTrulyJohnnyDollar_Singles

Highly Recommended!

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PODCAST OF THE DAY: A Group Interview on A Wizard Of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

“So it came to my imagination, that Fantasy has been so lily-white, so northern European, let’s just turn it on its head. That’s the simplest way to reverse a train, turn it inside out…it’s only quite recently…that I’ve heard from people, some of them are just kids, some of them are remembering back to when they first read the Earth Sea Books. People of color telling me that was the first fantasy they ever felt included in, and what it meant to them. And I tell you, it moved me very much.” — Ursula K. Leguin

Podcast of the Day: National Endowment for the Arts Presents: Big Read: A Group Interview on A Wizard Of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

For more on the National Endowment of the Arts and EarthSea, go here!

“Earthsea is a creation of Ursula K. Le Guin. The original Trilogy was composed of A Wizard of Earthsea (1968), The Tombs of Atuan (1971), and The Farthest Shore (1972). The fourth book, Tehanu: The Last Book of Earthsea was published in 1990. A number of stories have now been published as Tales from Earthsea (2001) and a fifth novel, The Other Wind, also came out in late 2001. The first published story in the Earthsea world was The Word of Unbinding, which was originally published in Fantastic (1964) and later reprinted in The Wind’s Twelve Quarters (1975). The series has won a number of awards.”–scv.bu.edu

“It consists of three short novels, the longest just over 200 small pages in my old Puffin edition. And, though adults can read it without feeling at all out of place, it is written for children — “For readers of eleven and over” the covers say, though it could be read by, or to, very much younger children. But the Earthsea trilogy is still the first work that comes to mind when I’m asked “The Lord of the Rings, yes, but what then?”

A Taoist conception of “Balance” underlies Earthsea: the use of magic is dangerous, and can destabilise the natural order. And there are many patterns and parallels in the trilogy. A Wizard of Earthsea is about a young man’s coming of age, in which he attends an all-male school for wizards, and much of it is set at sea; The Tombs of Atuan is a young woman’s coming of age in an all-female temple complex, and much of it happens underground. And so forth. None of this is explicit, however, nor is conscious understanding of it at all necessary for appreciation of the novels. They are, first and foremost, spellbinding stories, with memorable characters.

There are now sequels to the Earthsea trilogy. Fifteen years later Le Guin wrote Tehanu, which is often coupled with these three novels to form an Earthsea “Quartet”. Tehanu is different in many ways, however — it is not a children’s book, for one thing — and I consider its inclusion in one volume with the trilogy to be misguided. More recently has come The Other Wind and a book of short stories, Tales From Earthsea.

I would not normally have considered reviewing the Earthsea books: they have received plenty of academic criticism and have been set texts in schools, so they should need no promotion. (Though the cynical might argue quite the opposite.) I keep running into people, however, who rave about Harry Potter and claim to be fantasy fanatics, but who haven’t heard of Earthsea.”— Danny Yee of Danny Reviews

“The Sci-Fi channel aired a 2-part, 4-hour miniseries based on the first two books in December, 2004… Ursula Le Guin… railed against it [Leguin discusses eloquently the whitewashing of her novel here] and I can not in any way recommend it… this is an absolute travesty against a wonderful piece of fantasy literature.” —scv.bu.edu

“I reread the whole thing once a year. Kid’s fantasy doesn’t get better than this. Actually, grownup fantasy doesn’t get better than this. The whole series is a virtuous performance from one of the greatest writers ever to work in the genre. The Tombs of Atuan (vol. 2) is probably my personal favorite; it has a special magic both because of the Borgesian labyrinth setting, and because it’s one of the first and greatest feminist subversions of epic fantasy. But A Wizard of Earthsea (vol 1) is probably the single most perfect fantasy book ever written. It distills the essence of epic fantasy into its purest form and restates it in deceptively simple prose that rises to the level of poetry.”— Chris Moriarty at GOOD READS.com

The Earthsea Quartet (Puffin Books)


So take a listen to the audio (don’t listen to the whole thing until after you read the books, you’ll know when to stop. Around the 17 minute mark), avoid the SciFi/SyFy channel series and all work by its director Robert Lieberman :), and pick up a copy of Ursula’s four book series here.

And generally just enjoy the source, the progenitor for later fictions such as HARRY POTTER and the MAGICIANS.

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SONG OF THE DAY: DIXIE CHICKEN by FEAT and The Quintessential American writer

“And then he started to play. He felt his way slowly through the chords of the song once and listened to the deadened hush as it fell over the room. He used the slide to squeeze out the melody of the song that he had grown up hating, the song the whites had always pulled out to remind themselves and those other people just where they were. Daniel sang the song. He sang it slowly. He sang it feeling the lyrics, deciding that the lyrics were his, deciding that the song was his. Old times are not forgotten… He sang the song and listened to the silence around him. He resisted the urge to let satire ring through his voice. He meant what he sang. Look away, look away, look away, Dixieland.

—from THE APPROPRIATION OF CULTURES, one of the many stories in Percival Everett’s essential short story collection DAMNED IF I DO-A Razor keen dissection of the part that symbols play in our lives, and about owning them or being owned. Endlessly re-readable. A+. And I realize now, after years of reading Percival Everett what he is, he is the frontier spirit, he is the soul of the open spaces, he is brother to Twain, and all those who would not be fenced in. He is the quintessential American writer.

Damned If I Do: Stories

Image Copyright Percival Everett

And a perfect lead in, to the following:

SONG OF THE DAY: DIXIE CHICKEN by FEAT

I’m not by any means a Dixieland fan, but this is a rollicking song.

AUDIO OF THE DAY! HOW LOVE CAME TO PROFESSOR GILDEA from ESCAPE

“Can’t you feel how hideous it is for me! I can’t stop it! The thing makes love to me, caresses me. Whatever it is … it has no mind. That thing is a slobbering idiot!

But I didn’t tell you what it really did this evening, what came close to driving me insane.

The thing kissed me… but not from the outside! I could feel it, warm and wet, kissing my lips… FROM THE INSIDE!!”

— HOW LOVE CAME TO PROFESSOR GILDEA the February 28th 1948 Episode of ESCAPE

It’s as fantastic as that quote indicates. Just brilliant! Listen to it here!