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Halloween Diary 2009
Bar Harbor
In the early afternoon, kestrell and I went out to see "The Big Broadcast of 1938". They really went all-out to make us feel like we were the audience at a period live-radio broadcast. There were usherettes and cigarette girls (candy cigarettes, and other snacks appropriate to the period). Cast and crew were all in costume, and milling about the whole theatre, in character, from the moment they opened the house. They even had the MC and the band do some warming up of the audience before going on air, and they trained us on the use of the "APPLAUSE" sign.

The first act was "The Frank Cyrano Byfar Hour", an adaptation of a Boston-based variety show that was once quite popular. The show itself was fairly meta, in that it depicted a group of actors rehearsing for a radio variety show. It alternated between skits, musical numbers, and ads. The ads were also period, and nifty, the primary sponsor being Beverly Beverages, hawking their Byfar Coffeemilk, a caffeine-free coffee-flavored syrup meant to be mixed with milk.

The skits were generally amusing, including a running gag about whether or not the special Halloween guest star, Bela Lugosi, would actually appear. The swingin' music was excellent, and performed by Emperor Joshua Norton's Stationary Marching Band.

After about an hour of this, there was a brief intermission. Then the variety show resumed, though it was soon interrupted by breaking news bulletins. It seems that some strange metal cylinders had fallen from space near Grovers Mill, New Jersey...

And we're off! Into a fine adaptation of Orson Welles' "War of the Worlds", rewritten to show what the Martian invasion looked like from Boston. Act 2 was the invasion, and was the high point of the show. Excellent writing, heartfelt performances, skilled foley and music, and, of course, a truly harrowing tale. (I was very sad when they identified the charred corpse of usernamenumber.)

After another intermission, Act 3 followed the adventures of an MIT engineer and a former gun moll, as they struggled to survive, and eventually fight back. With a tense alliance between the Italian and Irish mobsters, it seems that perhaps the resistance can win. But when treachery destroys that alliance, the day can only be saved by the most unexpected, tiny fighters imaginable.

Overall, a most excellent show, though perhaps over-long (with intermissions, 3.5 hours).

Then home, through the teeming hordes that filled Melville Avenue. herooftheage struggled manfully once again to last until eight, but the hordes overwhelmed even his liberality, and his supply of 1200 candy bars was exhausted at 7:16. Since he started at 5, I reckon that to be, on average, 1 every 6.8 seconds. Impressive!

Kes and I hung out in front of the TV, rewatching the end of Val Lewton's excellent "Curse of the Cat People". Highly recommended, even if you don't like horror, and not at all what you might expect from the title.

After that was the 1941 version of "Doctor Jeckyl and Mister Hyde", starring Spencer Tracy in the title role. Neither of us had seen this before, and it proved most excellent, probably the best version we have seen. Though there is some makeup involved (more as the film develops), Tracy carries off an impressive transformation via body language, facial expression, and vocal tone.

The two ladies are played by Lana Turner and Ingrid Bergman -- though in the reverse of what you might expect, Turner is The Good Girl, and Bergman the Bad Girl! (The idea that this story should have one of each apparently originated with the Barrymore version, and has been near-universally adopted since.) Both actresses acquit themselves well, with the minor exception of Bergman's (thankfully rare) attempts at a Cockney accent. Her portrayal of a free-spirited woman who is turned into a quivering, PTSD wreck by Hyde's (mostly offscreen) abuse does a lot to sell the horror that is Hyde.

This version is also of special interest to Alan Moore fans, as having seen it will add some... interesting emotional resonance to the climax of LoEG, v. 2. Highly recommended.

Thus, having wrapped right back around to War of the Worlds, off to bed.

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So.... question. Do you want to learn that Santa Claus isn't real, or are you happy in your belief?

While I do appreciate good guerilla ontology, I prefer truth in the end. Which part(s) were they fibbing about?

The Frank Cyrano Byfar Hour never actually existed. Its history as well as the script was all created by derspatchel.

Well, he did a very convincing job, so kudos!

That's what I said! I didn't know until I heard him say something at the cast party.

Turner is The Good Girl, and Bergman the Bad Girl!

The casting had originally been as you might have expected, but Bergman insisted on switching the parts.

I don't blame her; the Bad Girl was a far more interesting part!

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