Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Bradbury 13: The Ravine

This is Ray Bradbury. Join me for the next 30 minutes on a tour through time and space. Come along to the far future. Follow me into a strange past, with stories that almost could be, or might have been. Real or unreal, this is Bradbury 13.
–Ray Bradbury, introduction to NPR radio series Bradbury 13

In the spring of 1984, NPR aired a series of thirteen 30-minute radio dramas based on stories by Ray Bradbury and created, produced and directed by Mike McDonough at BYU Media Services through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. This series was called Bradbury 13. My dad carefully recorded each of these episodes on high-quality cassette tapes and we listened to them over and over, on road trips, as family entertainment and individually whenever the mood struck. He's since transfered his cassette tapes to mp3 audio files and we each have copies to share with our families. Part of what made these stories so amazing was the incredible 3-D sound and none of that was lost in the copies my dad made. It is amazing to listen to them now and have them still be such high-quality.

For quite a while now, I've been thinking over the best way to share this fun part of my past with you. I am going to post one episode each week for the next twelve weeks {it'll be thirteen posts all told, counting today's}, with an episode teaser, my rating {on a scale of one to five smilies, in various and sundry forms}, a review and cast details. Part of my master plan was to include the audio with each post. I researched how to embed audio files and then I checked into NPR and Fair Use Laws and discovered that I would have to cross over too far into pirate :pirate: territory in order to share them with you that way. I was pretty bummed about that. It kind of spoils the whole effect. But I'd rather not get into a lawsuit with NPR. Still, I want to share these with you, even if it is in a somewhat diminished capacity. I found {what I hope is} a legitimate on-line source where you can buy and download each episode for $1.95 {I'll include a link to each episode with its post}. If you do the math, it comes out to $25.35, which is like 4 yards of fabric {that your stash doesn't really need anyway, right?}, and it is less than movie and a popcorn for two. So if you buy a box of microwave popcorn and a 2-liter of soda, you and your significant other can have 13 terrific dates for a lot less than one trip to the movies.

Our first story, The Ravine, is adapted from Dandelion Wine, which is a collection of short stories all set in the fictional Green Town, Illinois and loosely connected by the theme summer as well as the 12-year-old character, Douglas Spaulding and his family. And now, let the fun begin.

The Ravine
The Ravine was a dynamo that never stopped running night or day. There was a great moving hum, a bubbling and murmuring of creature. It smelled like a greenhouse of secret vapors and ancient washed shales and quicksands. And in the shade of warm trees with her hands at either side of her like the oars of a delicate craft, lay Elizabeth Ramsel; her face moonlit, her eyes wide and like flint, her tongue sticking from her mouth.
My Rating: :scared: :scared: :scared: :scared: :scared:
This is unquestionably my favorite of all the Bradbury 13 episodes. It is scare-your-socks-off-psychological-thriller good. {As a side note, I think Mr. Bug is a little worried with my slight fascination with the macabre. Every time Silence of the Lambs comes on [edited] TV, I have to watch.} I'm not sure what I love the most about The Ravine; the fact that Elizabeth {I may have mentioned before that I love my name and I am always drawn to a character in a story who is named Elizabeth} Ramsel was the latest victim of The Lonely One, a serial killer who strangles single women, or the fact that Miss Lavinia is so nonchalant about the possibility of being next.

Barta Heiner plays the part of Lavinia in this episode, as well as parts in several other of the episodes. Her voice is quite wonderful. About 12 years ago, I had the opportunity to actually speak with her. She was teaching at BYU and I was working in the textbook department of the bookstore on campus. One of my main responsibilities was to coordinate textbook orders with each of the academic departments, so I frequently dealt with faculty members. One day my phone rang and the caller I.D. said Barta Heiner :bug eyes:. I greeted the caller and then without giving her a chance to speak asked, Is this THE Barta Heiner? The one from Bradbury 13? I loved Bradbury 13 as a kid. It was one of my finest moments; I met a celebrity and then threw her age in her face :rolleyes:.

I find it interesting to note that The Lonely One is based on a real person {although just a cat burglar} who intruded upon Bradbury's childhood home town of Waukegan, Illinois in 1928. Also interesting is that Tom Kennedy was the police chief at the time and there is an Officer Kennedy in The Ravine. Douglas Spaulding, who is the main character throughout Dandelion Wine, only makes a cameo appearance in the adaptation, but he is semi-autobiographical of Ray Bradbury's childhood self; Bradbury's middle name is Douglas and his father's middle name is Spaulding.

Air Date:
April 2, 1984

Paul Frees

Barta Heiner
Beverly Rowland
Helen Beeman
Oscar Rowland
Duane Hyatt
Bob Nelson

Roger Hoffman
Greg Hansen

Production Assistant:
Patrick Mead

Associate Producer:
Jeff Raider

Created, Produced, Directed:
Mike McDonough

Executive Producer:
Dean Van Uitert

Audio Clip of The Ravine
Buy The Ravine mp3
Buy Bradbury 13 Audio CDs


Shay said...

Sounds like this is something you really enjoyed a lot!

I dont think we have nay radio stations that tell stories on air like that and I dont think we did even back in the 1980's.

Michelle said...

Elizabeth, I actually saw Ray Bradbury once. I'd won an award in community writing contest for my age group (high school), and the winners all got to go and see Ray Bradbury speak. He is quite the story-teller on stage too. :-) I've always enjoyed his books. Thanks for the link.

Hey gal, I've got a package I want to send to you. Please send me your snail mail addy.

Angie said...

I LOVE LOVE LOVE Ray Bradbury! I will be getting this to add to my ipod for sure! Thanks for sharing!

Jill said...

It's funny. I don't remember how old I was when (I first remember) we listened in the car. But I look at these old stories and worry that they may be too scary for my kids (at 4 and 6). But I don't know that Dad worried about them being too scary.
One time I remember listening was when we drove to Disney Land. I was like 6. Am I over protective? Hmmm.

John Ballentine said...

I grew up listening to Bradbury 13 as well as other radio dramas on NPR. What a wonderful world these shows created sparking our young fertile imaginations. Thanks for writing such an awesome series in your blog covering them.

Many of us were inspired by the radio dramas from our youth and there's actually a good many groups producing modern audio drama podcasts. Our little group is Campfire Radio Theater and can be found at

Anonymous said...

I did the voice of the Captain in "And the Moon be Still as Bright". I would love to find a copy of the series, as I've long since lost my audio tape of the production. It was the pilot episode that enabled the production funding for the series. Incidentally, Dan Truman of the band "Diamond Rio" did the music for that pilot episode.
If you know where or how I can get a copy, that'd be terrific!
Eddy Schumacher