July 2012

A-MUSINGS ON MY BIRTHDAY

July 26. Another year, another birthday. “Has it really been a year since my last birthday?” I ask myself. I think some more. I can’t even remember my last birthday. Wow. When did my birthday go from the event of the year to just another Thursday? Not that it really matters, of course. I’m fine with it all. Just glad to still be here!
Astrology is hit and miss at best, but I thought I’d see what it says about me. I’m a Leo, naturally, and my ego needs stroking. What do the stars say? Well, for starters, I have “amazing star quality and an intriguing personality” according to one Internet source. Star quality! I like the sound of that until I consider that stars are giant gaseous balls.
Hmm. What else does it say about July 26 natives? “In romance, they may be skeptical.” Nah. Not me. Clueless would be a better word, but not skeptical. “Naturally dramatic and showy, these men and women like to project an image of carelessness…” Carelessness? As a dramatic and showy person I resent that characterization! Clumsy, yes, but careless? Okay, what else do the stars say about me and my 7/26 birth-buddies? Ah! “These savvy people are unlikely to take advice from anyone. They seem to have an innate sense of what they must do in order to be a success on their own terms.” Let’s call that one a “miss.” I welcome advice (though I may not take it) and the only thing that I have innate is my lack of savvy-ness.
Famous people born on July 26 include: Gracie Allen, Mick Jagger, Carl Jung, Kevin Spacey, Nana Visitor, Kate Beckinsale, Sandra Bullock, Blake Edwards, Aldous Huxley, Dorothy Hamill, Stanley Kubrick, Helen Mirren, Jeremy Piven, Jason Robards, Vivian Vance and George Bernard Shaw.
Not so famous people born on July 26 who nevertheless possess “star quality and an intriguing personality”: that would be me.

I’m just saying…

CHICKENMAN: HE’S EVERYWHERE! HE’S EVERYWHERE!

When I talk about my love of the art of radio drama, I often begin with my years listening to the CBS Radio Theater during the 1970s. True, it introduced me to the vast canvas of storytelling possibilities through audio but I also have to admit to another influence getting me hooked on radio as art: Chickenman. Yes, Chickenman, the brainchild of radio funnyman Dick Orkin, who created the series on Chicago’s WCFL in 1966. What was to be a two-week stint at wacky fun turned into 195 two-and-a-half minute episodes chronicling the crime fighting exploits of the White Winged Warrior.
I loved Chickenmanand his famous call: “Buck-buck-buck-bu-u-u-ck!” Followed by a chorus of voices exalting: “He’s everywhere! He’s everywhere!”Dick Orkin played all of the male characters and, with the aid of a little editing, they even overlapped each other. Another of my favorite parts was when the narrator (Jim Runyon) at the end of each episode would begin his summation with a long, richly intoned “Well-l-l-l-l…!” Obviously you have to hear it to realize how funny it becomes episode

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after episode. (The closest thing I can compare it with is George Takei’s “Oh, my-y-y-y…!”)

Whenever

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I was helping my Dad install carpet (his occupation for many years) I always knew that at around 4:30 pm we would stop and take a break. The local radio station would treat us to a dose of Chickenman and we would chuckle and laugh together. It was silly fun but I learned that just as radio drama could amplify your fears with the right acting and sound effects, so could radio comedy amplify your belly-laughs with images in your mind all created with Dick Orkin’s voice and great sound effects.

When I co-created Anytown USA back in the 80s, I was heavily influenced by Dick Orkin. I reveled in playing two or even three characters in a single scene all interacting with each other. Voice, sound effects and one’s imagination combined to make people laugh. I miss those days. One of the funniest bits in Anytown USA was a tense operating room scene where, in the background, the EKG rhythmic “beeps” start sounding out Morse code for S.O.S. before flat lining. Naturally, since it was a comedy, the patient did survive!
Years later I got the opportunity to meet and study voice acting with Dick Orkin. It was great fun and a valuable learning experience learning from the one and only White Winged Warrior himself: “Buck-buck-buck-bu-u-u-ck! Chicken-man-n-n-n-n!! He’s everywhere! He’s everywhere!”
Now I see that Chickenmanis also available on iTunes, by the way. Wow, thanks to the Internet, he truly is everywhere. “Well-l-l-l-l…!”

I’m just saying…