By Nora Vasconcelos
Dinnertime in Mexico can be easily compared with a delicious fun time in the sense that all sort of dishes, formal, typical, informal, elaborate or simple, may appear at the table when the time to call it a day comes. Either if it’s at 6pm or very late at night.
Although the most important meal in this country takes place usually around lunch time, when it comes to the the last meal of every journey all is welcome: tortas, tacos, quesadillas, mole, pozole, sweet bread, ice cream, tamales, tostadas, meat, pasta, pizza…
However, dinnertime might as well consist of cereal, fruit, yogourth or milk.
Pretty much, everyday is different, but, the options are always there, to choose whatever fits to any hungry, or not so hungry, diner.
By Nora Vasconcelos
It was the just the second decade of the past century when the radio stations found the way to keep an ample audience captive with programs that broadcasted live theater plays specially adapted for the radio format.
The lack of other forms of entertainments, such as television and the turbulent economic situation that came after the Great Depression, make these shows grow as the listeners found a way to escape from reality, even if just for a short while.
Radio stations in the U.S. such as National Broadcasting Company (NBC), Radio Corporation of America (RCA), Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS), and Mutual Broadcasting System, offered all sort of programs that ran from about half an hour up to one hour.
Mystery, Drama, Suspense, Fantasy and Romance dominated the plots of original stories that were performed live by professional actors whose voices match perfectly with effect sounds that have managed to impress people up to these days.
As the documentary Back of the Mike (presented by Old Time World) shows: “rain was created by pouring sand over a spinning potters wheel which sent it down a metal funnel onto a microphone which was covered by a paper bag. Fire was created by wadding up plastic wrap close to the microphone”.
It was so that from the 30’s up to the late 50’s, detectives like Sam Spade and Boston Blackie came to live, as well as crime drama series such as The FBI in War and Peace and Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar, the same as superheroes such as Superman, Flash Gordon, Batman and Planet Man.
The broadcasts also included romantic stories, like the series Theater of Romance, produced by the CBS; Westerns, like Tales of Texas Rangers and The American Trail, and Comedy shows, including Abbot and Castello, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet and the Bob Hope show.
Mystery play a special role in the success of radio shows as it attracted for many years famous actors such as Orson Wells, who was part of the Campbell Playhouse, and E.G. Marshall, host of the CBS Radio Mystery Theater. Other famous starts that joined the casts of some radio plays were Marlene Dietrich, Vincent Price and Mike Wallace.
When the radio stations didn’t play original scripts, they share with the audience adaptations of the works of famous authors such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Rudyard Kipling, Edgar Allan Poe and Oscar Wilde. In the same way, books like Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, Hamlet by Shakespeare, Jane Eyre by Emily Bronte and Around the World in 80 days by Jules Verne, were adapted into radio theaters that were able to present in a short time the essence of these works.
The magic produced by these broadcasts was increased with the rhythmic tunes coming from the live performance of the Big Bands, very popular at that time, swinging the audiences away with performers like Benny Goodman, Glen Miller, Tommy Dorsey and Artie Show.
Music and radio theaters helped many people get through the difficult years of the Second World War, as the audience used to keep their radios on hoping to catch the latest news from the troops abroad. Once again, radio shows gave them some solace.
Reknown brands took also advantage of the popularity of the shows, becoming sponsors of different series, such as Sears, Colgate, Palmolive, the same as hotels like the Lincoln and the Pennsylvania, in New York, joined their names to the Big Bands that performed their shows in there.
Unfortunately, as contracts and legal recording and broadcasting issues affected live performances of the musical groups, and with the recent popularity or commercial Television in color, the popularity of the radio shows gradually decreased until they weren’t popular anymore and their broadcasts ended.
Fortunately, the Golden Age of Radio has remained alive in the minds of many people who have shared their love for old time radio shows to new generations. At the same time, international organisms such as The International Archive have compiled and preserved many of this radio shows for all people to listen to them.
And now it’s time to say: Lights out!
By Nora Vasconcelos
While reading the different passages of Le Fantome de l’Opera, a novel by Gaston Leroux, it’s hard not to start humming that famous tunes from the musical written by Andrew Lloyd Weber for the musical The phantom of the Opera, based upon the story by Leroux.
So, it becomes a magnificent experience going through the pages of this novel, recreating the images of the show, while discovering all those little details and hidden secrets that the book has to reveal to the readers.
Along with the well known Christine Daae (the opera singer who’s enchanted by the ghost); Raoul de Chagny (Christine’s boyfriend) and the Opera Ghost (who’s in love with Christine), another characters appear in the book. The main one is The Persian, who plays the role of the narrator, as well as the reader’s guide.
Also, in the novel, the Ghost, called Erick, is at the same time a disgusting figure that performs evil acts (much more than the ones that appear in the musical), and a lonely soul desperately looking for Christine to love him “for who he is”.
The drama increases as the story develops up to the point that it’s really hard to put the book down, while curiosity to know what’s going to be the destiny of the characters as a chase among them has started, followed by a series of dilemmas, problems and hard choises.
Then the characters, along with the readers, are driven to desperation while going through the dark and dangerous hidden places of the Opera house.
Their efforts to find a way out of the horror continue until the end of the story,when an unexpected faith awaits for all of them.
After such intensity, it’s really hard stop thinking about the passages and the characters of the story, and the feeling of having read a great book remains for a long while.
Note: This site is in French, but it’s a good reference to get to know Gaton Leroux a little bit better: http://gaston-leroux.net/news.htm