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Archive for the ‘M.T. Anderson’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: CHILLING THRILLING SOUNDS OF THE HAUNTED HOUSE (1964).

The cover during Phish’s 2014 concert was of this album.

Apparently many people grew up with this record.  I personally didn’t know it, but if you read the comments (don’t read the comments!) on any YouTube clip of the album you will see how popular it is.

Wikipedia describes it as  intended for “older children, teenagers, and adults” released by Disneyland Records (now known as Walt Disney Records). The album was mainly composed of sound effects that had been collected by the sound effects department of Walt Disney Studios. The album was released in several different forms. The album was first released in 1964 in a white sleeve, with a second release in 1973 with an orange sleeve. In both versions, the first side contained 10 stories narrated by Laura Olsher, complete with sound effects. The second side contained 10 sound effects meant for others to create their own stories.

Despite the title, most of the cuts had nothing to do with haunted houses or witches or ghostly spirits. Featured were such situations as an ocean liner hitting rocks, an idiotic lumberjack, a man crossing an unsafe bridge, someone lighting a stick of dynamite and a spaceship landing on Mars. Also, there are tracks with several examples of cats, dogs and birds (similar to “The Birds”) becoming enraged for some reason, as well as a skit about Chinese water torture. In addition, some of the screams were taken directly from the scene where Miss Havisham catches fire in the 1946 David Lean film Great Expectations.

The full track listing is

  • “The Haunted House” 3:00
  • “The Very Long Fuse” 1:28
  • “The Dogs” 1:13
  • “Timber” 1:45
  • “Your Pet Cat” 0:49
  • “Shipwreck” 1:39
  • “The Unsafe Bridge” 1:21
  • “Chinese Water Torture” 2:02
  • “The Birds” 0:46
  • “The Martian Monsters” 1:41
  • “Screams and Groans” 0:57
  • “Thunder, Lightning and Rain” 2:01
  • “Cat Fight” 0:37
  • “Dogs” 0:48
  • “A Collection Of Creaks” 1:54
  • “Fuses and Explosions” 1:11
  • “A Collection Of Crashes” 0:45
  • “Birds” 0:33
  • “Drips and Splashes” 1:18
  • “Things In Space” 0:53

Nothing is especially scary–although maybe for a kid, as many adults claim to have been really frightened by it.  Everything is quite over the top, especially the screams and cat howls and dog snarling.  Even the stories are a little silly, although having them in the second person is pretty genius.

But things like “one night as you lie in your lonely room in your stone hut on the moors…”  (What?).  And the Martian one.  Just keeping with continuity: if “you,” meaning me, went on the trip, then I couldn’t hear the crunching as it ate me.  Or the silly voice saying “I wonder what that was.”

And the less said about the horribly racist Chinese Water Torture the better.  I mean, the opening is bad enough: “The ancient Chinese were a very clever race” but the end of the song is really awful.  But if we can look past that, the rest of the record has fun with sound effects and is generally pretty enjoyable.

During the John Congleton interview, he also talks about this album and says (at 40:28) “the speakers are 180 degrees out of phase to make it sound extremely stereophonic.”  He says now as an engineer it is totally painful to listen to.  Bob says it sounds like it comes from the back of your head.

[READ: October 15, 2017] Half-Minute Horrors.

The premise of this book (edited by Susan Rich) is simple: how scared can you get in 30 seconds?  To me, the answer is actually not very.  I guess for me fear builds over time.  It’s hard to get genuinely frightened over something that just suddenly happens (unless it is just trying to frighten you quickly, of course).

Having said that, I enjoyed this book a lot (look at the list of authors!).  I liked the arbitrary goal of writing a scary story in a paragraph or two (or more).  And some of them were really quite creepy.

I was originally going to point out which ones I felt were the most creepy, but there are so many stories, I kind of lost track.  So instead, here’s a rundown and a brief summary. (more…)

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[LISTENED TO: December 29, 2014] Jasper Dash and the Flame-Pits of Delaware

delWe are now hooked on the Pals in Peril series.  This, the third book, promised to be the funniest and weirdest yet.  I mean, look at the title.

But this book proved problematic for us for two somewhat related reasons.  The first is that we usually listen to longer books like this when we have a lot of driving to do.  We didn’t have any major big drive ahead so we wound up listening in small chunks, which was a little confusing.  The kids were able to follow quite well, but after a couple of weeks some details are bound to get lost.  The second reason is that this book is long.  It was a 6 hour audio book as opposed to the 3 hours of the other two books.

The brevity of Whales on Stilts was a real treat.  In it, Anderson wrote that he didn’t like to write action scenes because they were all the same.  Same with chase scenes.  But in this book, he has our heroes slogging through the wilderness for literal days (and almost an entire disc).  It got a little samey, I feel–especially since we were listening in small chunks at a time.

This is not to say that the book wasn’t enjoyable. There were hundreds of hilarious moments in it.  Even in the duller sections, he often threw in an absurd joke (or ten) that made me laugh.  So maybe if we had listened all at once this would have held up better.  But honestly it was only the middle that was kind of trudging (when they were trudging) because the beginning and end were great.

This happens to be another book where reading it would have been entertaining in other ways–the characters of Delaware have virtually no vowels in their names.  Mark Cashman (who did another awesome job reading) does a fine job saying their names, but I had to find a print copy in the library because I needed to know how these crazy words were spelled.

So, what happens? (more…)

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[LISTENED TO: November 16, 2014] The Clue of the Linoleum Lederhosen

linoWe enjoyed Whales on Stilts so much that we were really excited to listen to this second book in the series.  However, this book, while featuring the same main trio, was actually quite different.

The gang has decided that they are going on vacation.  They’re a little bored (Katie’s mom has been doing things like cutting off her own hand just to freak out Jasper), so they take Jasper’s latest gadget and head up to the mountains for a little r n r (and a free dinner with the coupon that Jasper received).

When they get to the hotel (the Moose Tongue Lodge and Resort), they realize that they can’t afford a room, so Jasper’s gadget attaches to the side of the hotel and looks just like it is supposed to be a part of it (apparently).  Of course, when they leave their invasive bubble, they have to go out through someone else’s bathroom and he is terrified by the calamitous sound that Jasper’s gadget made while attaching to the building).  They also learn that the coupon for a free dinner was fake.

When Jasper reveals to the hotel clerk that he is indeed Jasper Dash, boy technonaut, the clerk reveals that he is but one of many literary super sleuths in residence that night.  The Manley Boys and the Hooper Quints are there, and so is Eddie Wax and the Cutesy Dell Twins.

Who?  (more…)

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[LISTENED TO: October 15, 2014] Whales on Stilts

whalesWhen this book came out it was hugely popular in my library.  I was very curious about the title–it’s crazy, right?  But I had no real sense of what the book was about (I wasn’t even sure if it was meant to be funny or a drama–it was on every reading list of that year but who knew why).  Well, had I ever looked at the book carefully I would have known it was a comedy and I would have realized that it was exactly the kind of comedy that I love.

This book is part one in Anderson’s Pals in Peril series.  I believe the series shares characters, but I’m not sure if it is necessary to read them in order (we’ll find out when we listen to Book 2 next week).  Of course there are more than three characters in this book, but the three main characters are: Jasper Dash, Boy Technonaut! and star of his own adventure series; Katie Mulligan, star of her own horror books series Horror Hollow; and Lily Gefelty, a girl who is friends with both of them.

What is wonderful about the book is that the narrator describes Lily as being remarkably unremarkable.  She hides behind her bangs, doesn’t want to be the center of attention and is grateful that her two superfriends have known her for longer than they have been famous.  And what is doubly wonderful is that Lily is the catalyst for solving the major crisis that is about to hit her town.  In fact, Lily is the first one to even suspect that anything is awry. (more…)

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