Saturday, July 29, 2017


Thursday, July 27, 2017

June Foray Speaks

Here are a few brief but interesting excerpts from a transcript I made years ago of the late June Foray's hour-long voice acting seminar that she presented a number of times at the San Diego Comic Con including here, from the late 1980s.

“The first have to be an actor! I just want to make that absolutely clear because I taught at USC for seven years and a lot of people would say, ‘Hey, June! Listen to this voice,’ and they do a marvelous voice but then I get out a piece of copy and nothin'. I just feel sorry for people who have this wonderful vision of being successful and they aren't prepared.  I'd never discourage anybody. I always say there's hope if you study enough. Ever since I was little I always wanted to be an actress. Since I was six years old anyway. But I was an omnivorous reader and I found that reading the classics, understanding human nature, understanding character so you can leave your own persona and get into somebody else's skin--that's extremely important. However, never let anybody discourage you because there might be that little spark there somewhere and that's very important. Study and read! Very important! Read out loud! Read the classics! Read the newspaper and make it sound interesting. Accent the right syllable y'know? Very important! This is essential. You have got to bug everybody that you meet. Because it ain't easy these days getting into this industry because people know how rewarding it is, how profitable it is, and you have fun driving to the bank with all that money.”

“When you're on-camera, you have to have your pictures. That's de rigueur. But when you just do voiceovers, it's a tape. So if you say...They don't use too many dialects anymore. There are so many segments of society that become angry at doing an accent. But you'll find the common accepted ones. French. Because you have the French chef. Some nasal who comes from Paris. Or Italian. Mel Blanc did...not Taco Bell... Frito-Lay a long time. He did a Mexican accent but he deed (sic) a sing-song of it and it wass (sic) the right one and the Mexicans raised hell about it. So they don't use too many dialects but if you do, do one GOOD one--say French or Italian--just to show your versatility.”

“You know what Daws Butler used to do and I used to admire Daws for doing this? He made a list of all of the characters and somebody would say, ‘Daws, I need a giraffe,’ or ‘I need a pencil,’ or some inanimate object. You're asked to do things like that! Frying pans! Anything! It's crazy, what starts talking! So Daws always kept a list. This voice, this voice, this voice...and sometimes if you can't think off the top of your head just surreptitiously take the paper and look at it and say, ‘Y'know, this voice might be great.’ If you can do impersonations, but maybe they aren't just right, get the idea of that voice and don't SAY it's an impersonation! Daws, in Cap'n Crunch...when he was Cap'n Crunch...There was a character actor named Charlie Butterworth and Daws copied his voice. He's long since been dead. Many, many years! And when, of course, Jay Ward did that...produced it, Daws came in and said, ‘You know what would be a great idea?’ and nobody had done it or even thought about it or maybe even knew about him and he came up with that voice and it was perfect!”

R.I.P. June Foray

R.I.P. the great June Foray who would have turned 100 in a couple of months. I was privileged to not only attend one of her voice acting seminars at Comic Con in the late 1980s but also to dub some cassettes of Stan Freberg radio shows she was on for her afterwards. She sent me a lovely, funny thank you note written as Natasha Fatale! 

Many years later, I would get an acknowledgement for doing transcriptions for her autobiography back in 2008. It was the first time I had done transcription for anyone other than myself and because of that, I now do it on a regular basis. 

I heard her on an old science fiction radio show just the other day and I'm sure I'll continue to hear her for the rest of my life, she was so prolific!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Amy and the Shark

This is a site my wife alerted me to, an under-the-radar site spotlighting a cool children's story written pseudonymously by someone associated with the comic book field. I'm not sure if that's supposed to stay a secret or not so I won't say who. But just take it on it's own--a fun book with really cute illustrations--some of which are gifs even!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Jackpot Weekend

Many years back now, when I was managing bookstores, one of my employees told me she was writing a short romance story and asked me if I would read it. She brought a laptop in to work and I sat on my lunch break reading her story. I wasn't thrilled, to be honest, but her desire to write and her enthusiasm in the discussions that resulted wore off on me and reignited my own.

In the years since, I've become relatively successful. I may not be on the Bestseller lists but I've worked on more than 100 books and articles in one capacity or another since my management career ended.

As usually happens, I had long since fallen out of touch with my one-time employee but this being the Internet age, we met again a while back via the online world. She still wanted to be a romance writer. In recent months, I have offered my suggestions and advice, mailed her some books and magazines on writing, given her some insight into today's niche marketing, and generally supported her goal.

And that's because she's good. She's not great. Not yet. But her enthusiasm and passion are contagious and her characters and storytelling are fun and interesting. She just needs a good editor at this point and that's where I came in (he said modestly).

She's just published her first ebook, a short story or novella, really. It's an erotic romance, definitely NSFW and not appropriate for young readers. If this sort of thing appeals to you, I ask you to try it out. JACKPOT WEEKEND by Lacie A. Lion is available for Kindle or the Kindle app. It's a quick, fun, but most definitely ADULT read, for less than a dollar. If you like it, she's already written two more featuring the same characters that will be published soon.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Jack Benny Entertains the Troops-1944

Along with harmonica player Larry Adler, actress Carole Landis (misidentified as Carole Lombard in one photo) and singer Liltin' Martha Tilton, Jack toured international military bases in '44.

Vintage Charlie Chaplin Ads and Comics

From about 100 years ago so please excuse the stereotypes.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Booksteve Reviews: The Top 100 Classic Radio Shows by Carl Amari and Martin Grams, Jr.

When I was about 11 years old, a substitute teacher brought to class a record album featuring two episodes of The Shadow, a radio series I was familiar with but had never actually heard before. Immediately, I was won over to the concept of the “theatre of the mind” and started buying LPs of episodes myself. My friend and I even used my cassette recorder and some sound effects records to record our own versions of dramatic radio episodes!

That was nearly 50 years ago and I’ve been a fan ever since. I’ve easily listened to several thousand original radio episodes by now and for many years was privileged to perform in script re-creations—sometimes with the original actors—at various venues.

So I know a few things about old-time radio shows.

That said, the upcoming book, THE TOP 100 CLASSIC RADIO SHOWS, written by Carl Amari and Martin Grams, Jr. manages to find something new that I didn’t know on every other page or so!

There have been scores of books on classic radio and I have many of them here in my library but this one is different. Most of the old ones were written by people who were there the first time around and aim for a nostalgic look back for those aging fans who grew up with THE LONE RANGER, GANGBUSTERS, and THE QUIZ KIDS. I, myself, missed that generation, and the authors here are even younger.

THE TOP 100 CLASSIC RADIO SHOWS is a respectful look at the history of the shows covered, yes, but it also offers a succinct introduction to readers completely new to the medium and considers each series on entertainment merit rather than pure nostalgia.

The phrase “old-time” has long become an anchor to our rich radio past making it off limits to many who stubbornly avoid “old-time” entertainment like black and white movies or television only to enjoy it if they’re actually subjected to it.

This book, then, is a catalog for those people, showcasing the most memorable series, offering some visual accompaniment, and even presenting some wonderful trivia to those of us who thought we had heard it all.   

The only overall problem I have with the book is the understandable constraint that every show has to fit into two pages. So many of these shows had such a rich history and background that one or two additional pages could easily have been used. I mean, seriously, squeezing what they did of the story of Amos ‘n’ Andy onto just two pages couldn’t have been easy!

Although some are unnecessarily repeated in different sections, you’ll find plenty of rare photos of radio performers as well as some lovely and unique design work for each section and each individual series. The warm, rich color tones throughout give the book the same warm, rich feelings that one might have gotten when gathered with the family around the RCA floor radio in the living rooms of the 1930s or 1940s.

As with any book like this, one can argue that a deserving favorite was left out (LET’S PRETEND anyone? ADVENTURES BY MORSE?) but it’s hard to argue that anything that made the final cut isn’t deserving.

Complaints? Inevitably, there are a few small mistakes that I won’t mention because they may be cleared up by actual publication. Also, the tight wording required in some instances doesn’t give as full a picture of some things as one might like. An example would be where DICK TRACY IN B-FLAT, the classic 1945 COMMAND PERFORMANCE all-star musical parody of the popular comic strip, is noted in the DICK TRACY section as simply being a “special hour-long presentation.”

Perhaps best of all is that the book itself will come with CDs featuring actual episodes of the shows written about within and with 72 additional high quality episodes available to download!

Carl Amari and Martin Grams are the perfect authors for such a project. Both discovered classic radio at a very young age and both did something about it. Carl founded Radio Spirits, which made available amazing sets of shows on cassette, and later CD. He later produced his own radio shows! Martin, meanwhile, has become THE foremost chronicler of individual series with thick books on, among others, DUFFY’S TAVERN, SUSPENSE, and THE SHADOW!

To classic radio buffs I say this is NOT just another book with info you’ve seen a hundred times before.

To those of you who aren’t fans, I envy you. Take a look—and listen—to THE TOP 100 CLASSIC RADIO SHOWS and you may discover a whole new obsession. Classic radio is NOT a dead language. It’s right there, waiting to be rediscovered. Here’s your chance!

Booksteve recommends!

It won't be out until November but you can pre-order now at the link below!