Everyone knows about Orson Wells causing a panic in the U.S. in 1938 with his then-modern take on War of the Worlds. The broadcast, which sounded like breaking news, evidently fooled quite a few of those listening to their radios that night.
Welles soon went on to make Citizen Kane and became a symbol of youthful swagger and achievement, not to mention (later on) one of wasted opportunities and frustrated talent.
Welles, though, cut his teeth in radio drama, and much of his work - when he was still in his early 20s, astonishing to remember - is fortunately available online.
Mercury Theatre on the Air
Mercury Theatre on the Air captures many of those productions, available for online streaming and - in select cases - download in an MP3 format. The range is considerable: children's classics like Treasure Island and Huckleberry Finn, adaptations of books like the Pickwick Papers, and an early version of The Magnificent Ambersons, which Welles later adapted to form his second feature film. Movie buffs will want to head for that one alone.
For my generation, Welles was a bit of a washup, who showed up on TV commercials and hamming it up with Kermit the Frog. Seeing his great performances on video corrected that view; listening to these shows - broadcast between 1938 and 1940, at a weekly pace that is all the more remarkable - has been a revelation. A scratchy one, but a revelation all the same.
One warning: downloads are slow here, even with a high-speed connection. BitTorrent users should look for the tip on using that service as an alternative way to access files.
Elsewhere this week
Newfoundland Mountain Sports
Several years ago, when I was shopping for a new bike, I wound up buying a bike that would handle offroad conditions - a bit of overkill, because I pretty much stick to pavement. (Its handling, though, was worth the extra bucks.) If you have a taste for taking your wheels into the interior, this is a site worth checking out: the content could be beefed up, although the galleries and forums will appeal to fans. Check out the Photo Contest pages for some cool pics.
100 Most Misspelled Words
Is bellweather the correct spelling? Pastime? Momento? No, yes, no. If you're not sure about these and dozens of other words that frequently trip people up, keep this page handy.
A thesaurus won't necessarily help with your spelling, but it will always help improve your command of language. Roget's has been an authoritative source for more than 150 years; here, online and free, is the 1995 edition.
Mission Statement Generator
Needing some meaning in your life? Lacking a proactive core competency for high-impact deliverables? If you're craving a meaningless array of jargon, click here for this always reassuring nod from the Dilbert website, which ought to comfort those who feel that good, old plain English has been buried under some boardroom.
What time is it? Let the pictures on this site give you a clue, and a visual one at that. When I checked a few afternoons ago, it was 4:21, with one boy wearing a "4" on his shirt, and the other wearing a "21." When the next minute rolled around, a train with a marking of 422 popped up. Bookmark for those moments when it's time for a timecheck, and then see if you get hooked enough to stick around for the next image to show up.
John Gushue is a news writer for CBC.ca in St. John's. Site suggestions always welcome at surf at thetelegram.com.