I should read more Dickens. Correction: I should read some Dickens. Any Dickens. I’ve never been tempted, because it just seemed to have a words-to-story ratio of about 500 to one. I loved “Les Miserables,” which was just as wordy, but Dickens never tempted me. Now I am listening to a complete version of “The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” and you may say such a thing is impossible. He died before finishing it. True. It’s been “completed” for the sake of tying up loose ends.

Some of it’s fascinating, and it’s marvelously acted, but there’s something about those 19th century novels that just wears on the heart like a dull stone pressing against a ventricle. The courtship rituals are tiresome and boring. All these protestations and fluttery words and fevered attempts to hold someone’s right pinky-finger. The conversations between anyone of the same class seem to take as their motto that one word shall not suffice when 75 may do, and the general effect is like being smothered with fresh bread.

Another perfect day, and for this I am grateful. I’d continue blathering but the neighbor just said he’s coming over to the gazebo to chat, and so it’s neighbor time. He called over the fence to warn us that a bagpipe player would be coming by tomorrow night, and that's the sort of thing that needs explanation.

With great happiness I present a cultural injustice set right - and if you’ve been reading the Bleat for a few years, you’ve almost caught it happening in real time.

Peg Lynch, writer and actress of the “Ethel & Albert” TV and radio shows, lost her husband a few weeks ago. Of course this isn’t any sort of compensation, but you can well imagine how you might feel if you were 97 and a half, and suddenly alone in a big house, your archives shipped off to the University, your work so far away in miles and years. And then -


The CDs are out.

No longer floating around on the web on sites that charged for the eps and sent not a sou to the creator. Remastered, properly presented, and available for another century. You will not get: madcap laff riots with jokes galore that’ll have you slapping your knees and gasping for breath. You will not get: contrived situations that spiral out of control until someone’s got a donkey mask stuck on her head just as the boss is coming over for dinner. You will not get: a parade of stock characters rolling past the mike to deliver catch phrases in various accents. You will not get: the host winking at the audience about the corny jokes and making remarks about firing the writers.

You will not get radio comedy as you may have known it.

You will get something bright, conversational, and deceptively casual. What sounds like ordinary life in an ordinary home is actually like a clockwork mechanism, a miniature play that unrolls and unfolds without giving a thing away - but you never notice the artifice. You don’t even think you’re being told a story, half the time; it’s just people you know, doing things people do. (Speaking on behalf of husbands and particular and men in general: Peg had our number.)

Ethel and Albert ought to be one of the most renowned and beloved couples in American 20th century entertainment; it wasn't just Peg's writing and performance, but her deft work on the Husband side of the equation. (Speaking on behalf of husbands and particular and men in general: Peg had our number.) It’s possible this CD collection will help put her up where she ought to be, with the great mid-century American humorists.

Buy them here. Go through them slowly, though. One a day, as they aired; that's what I do. After all, there are 24 stories in this collection.

That only leaves 700 more to go.



As usual for Friday, the Music Cues. I'll save the X-Minus Ones for next week, this being a particularly noteworthy Couple Next Door edition of the Bleat.

CND Cue #435 Sprightly domestic fol-de-rol, but it gets chattery.

CND Cue #436 Wouldn’t you love to hear this at the grocery store? Why don’t you?

CND Cue #437 Muffled, but it’s new; never heard this before.

CND Cue #438 Another new one - the dawn breaks! The flowers stretch their petals! The woodland creatures stir!

CND Cue #439 Parade of the Officious Bureaucrats, with a bit of Peg disagreeing.

CND Cue #440 The Entrance of the Main Officious Bureaucrat, to continue the theme. Stout and bespectacled.

CND Cue #441 The week has come to a close, all's well that ends well - is it possible to listen to this and not smile?



Really, Jingle jangler?

No, I don't know why comments are closed sometimes. Sigh. Another thing to fix.

Work blog around 12:30, maybe - big column & interview day tomorrow. Tumblr around noonish or so - see you then!


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