Just here for the clips? (sulking.) Fine; go here.

A milestone: didn’t film a second of daughter’s orchestra concert. My seat did not provide a good view. Couldn’t really hear her. Got lots of studious-looking facial closeups in the last concert. Just sit back and experience the event, instead of monitoring it for some theoretical future consumption.

Everyone played well for 7th graders. Then the wind bands - all of them - came out and lined the aisles, and joined the orchestra for a basic blues number. The horn section was directly behind me and to my immediate right; I was on the aisle. They had three notes, blown with an enthusiasm unequalled since Napoleon’s coronation. Three notes. In unison. By all of them. That was two and a half hours ago, and I still have a headache.

That was the evening. Hence the small amount of this. During the concert I admit my mind drifted to figuring out dinner - at eight o’clock, so much later than usual, so lightheadedness on top of the headache. I could throw in a frozen pizza but three kids are coming over tomorrow night so that’s more pizza then but I have to take them to the movies at 6:35 which is before wife gets home, so maybe those turkey burgers but that’ll take forever but I bought the buns, they’re fresh, okay, put them in the freezer - move turkey burgers to next Tuesday, displacing tacos - and we’ll have chicken sandwiches. Wait, that means taking the buns out of the freezer, mentally speaking. That means I’ve just consigned the box of chili-lime turkey burgers to that doomed status of Fallback Meal, because without dedicated buns they’re just not going to happen.

But I can get buns when I go to the store Monday for fresh salad and a baguette. Okay. Whew. Turkey burgers are back in play. Just not tonight.

“What’s for supper?” daughter asked when she got in the car.

“Chicken sandwiches on buns!”

(Pause, small groan)

“Can we go to McDonald’s?”


Then it struck me when I got home: I had a box of Chicago-Style Vienna-Brand or something Hot Dog buns, and it was right at that delicate point: tomorrow, not even a minute in the microwave will soften those things up. Better use them, then, because by Monday they'll be as hard as the baguettes I'll buy. But that's fresh hard. There's a difference.

So we had a hot dog and discussed the great Instagram Panic . . . but I think I’ll leave that for the work blog.







Boilerplate intro: In case you’re joining us late, LISTEN is not some old-radio project with clip-art of a cathedral radio and clips of the Lone Ranger and the Shadow. It is a loosely-defined attempt to introduce modern audiences to the pleasures and peculiarities of a bygone medium. That’s all. On Friday I play sound cues gleaned from “The Couple Next Door” - and more about that in a moment. First:

It was a given towards the end of the Carol Burnett show that Harvey Korman would suppress a laugh, with varying degrees of effectiveness, when Tim Conway was doing something funny. They never worked that out during rehearsals. No, it was only when they were taping that the irresistible giggles came out. People started to watch for it. Expect it. Some how this artificial reproduction of a previously natural response to acting - an act of artifice - made the show all the more real, somehow. They’re just like us!

Compare with this minute excerpt from Lum & Abner. I have no idea why Norris Goff almost loses it in this clip; I just think he found his partner on the show to be hilarious. They had the same dynamic as Korman and Conway, in a sense - Goff’s "Lum" (on the left) was the nominally sensible one, was the straight man to a certain degree. Lauck’s “Abner," the feller with the high voice was prone to slack-faced incomprehension in the face of new information. Here they’re discussing the legend of Ponce De Leon, amusing themselves by imagining what they’d do if they kept dipping into the fountain and getting younger. Abner stops himself when he gets younger than his daughter, and shortly after that Goff starts to lose it.



After a decade of sitting across the table from each other reading scripts, they could still get the giggles. And of course they kept the take; it’s not like anyone really blew a line.

Unless they're laughing over Abner calling Lum "Abner. " I have the feeling it was a pretty loose show. Cheerful and relaxed.


Now, the Cues!

Daddle-la-DA-da-da DA-da-da CRAZY then swoon to the Chord of Ease:




I've heard this one before - but not quite like this. (Then again, after 93 of these, my ability to parse the distinctions is beginning to fade.) I'm sure they took the basic idea and made five versions for length, mood, whether it was a transition or a conclusion, etc. This one ends with a note of military attention:




Passing Time music - but it's annoying time, with vapid people yakking away. (This assessment may be influenced by the plot of the episode, which was exactly that.)




At :04, one of the repeating motifs; I hear it all over the place. Leads to my theory that they have lots of little similar cues.




Then along comes something I've never heard before, suggesting a different suite of cues:




The opening theme is used in a variety of cues, and I wouldn't have included it if it doesn't go insane after a few seconds - then pulls it together and ties a bow around the package. That's a lot for nine seconds.




The strings in this one: I don't know what they're doing. It's like they're intentionally stirring up this odd buzzing cloud of dissonance.




Likewise, in the key of W, modulating to T and then ending in F:




But who, me, cause a fuss? When I'm just strolling along, hands behind my back, singing a springtime song?




When you absolutely, positively have to wrap up the scene and prep the space for the commercial in under five seconds:




If I've played this one before, tough: it's just a great place to end.



And now, a little piece of dialogue, provided for a reason.

Plot for the week: the Piper family had to move out of the old house, and the new house - possibly the most epic story arc outside of the soaps - isn’t ready. They’re staying with Charlie and Madge Beamis, in a room over the garage. Charlie - Good ol’ Charlie, as he refers to himself - is a loudmouth, a braying ass, an archetype you recognize as soon as he starts to talk. But Lynch does something clever: he’s also maddeningly, offhandedly, pretty good at just about everything.

Madge is sloppy, artistic, ignores the kids, lets them eat chocolate for breakfast, leaves the dishes in the sink.

And they drink. Whereas the Pipers have a nice dinner at a decent hour, Charlie and Madge sit around drinking Bloody Marys and “Relaxing” for hours after work, not even bothering to start dinner until ten. But out of deference for the hosts, the Bloody Marys are just . . . well, it takes Charlie a while to find out.

Meet the Beamis family: (1:18 clip)




Madge was played by Audrey Christie, an actress who played Natalie Wood’s mother in “Splendor in the Grass” a few years after this show. Did a lot of Broadway, and seemingly every TV show in the 70s, dramatic or comic:



That’s her as Maude’s mother. She sounds exactly the same. Charlie was played by an actor named Donald Briggs, who did a score of movies in the 30s then TV in the 60s and seventies.

It’s probable that no one who listened to “The Couple Next Door” knew that Madge and Charlie were actually a married couple, and would stay that way until they died in the late 80s.


A column at startribune.com (scroll down to the columnist section) and other things here and there! Have a grand weekend, and I'll see you around.



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