Me, New Jersey Aliens & Possibility
The day before Halloween, on Oct. 30, 1938, millions of Americans tuned in to a popular radio program that featured plays directed by, and often starring, Orson Welles – The Mercury Theatre on CBS. The performance that evening was an adaptation of The War of the Worlds, about a Martian invasion of the earth. But in adapting the book for a radio play, Welles made an important change: the play was written and performed so it would sound like a news broadcast, a technique intended to heighten the dramatic effect. The first two-thirds of the 60-minute broadcast were presented as a series of simulated “news bulletins”, which suggested to many listeners that an actual alien invasion by Martians was currently in progress. Compounding the issue was the fact that the Mercury Theatre on the Air was a ‘sustaining show’ (it ran without commercial breaks).
As the play unfolded, dance music was interrupted a number of times by fake news bulletins reporting that a “huge flaming object” had dropped on a farm near Grovers Mill, New Jersey. As members of the audience sat on the edge of their seats, actors playing news announcers, officials and other roles, described the landing of an invasion force from Mars and the destruction of the United States. The broadcast contained explanations that it was all a radio play, but if members of the audience missed a brief explanation at the beginning, the next one didn’t arrive until 40 minutes into the program.
At one point in the broadcast, an actor in a studio, playing a newscaster in the field, described the emergence of one of the aliens from its spacecraft. “Good heavens, something’s wriggling out of the shadow like a gray snake,” he said, in a dramatic tone of voice. “Now it’s another one, and another. They look like tentacles to me. There, I can see the thing’s body. It’s large as a bear and it glistens like wet leather. But that face. It…it’s indescribable. The thing is raising up. The crowd falls back. They’ve seen enough. This is the most extraordinary experience. I can’t find words……”
As it listened to this “news” broadcast, a large portion of the audience concluded that it was hearing an actual news account of an invasion from Mars. People packed the roads, hid in cellars, loaded guns, even wrapped their heads in wet towels as protection from Martian poison gas, in an attempt to defend themselves against aliens, oblivious to the fact that they were listening to a radio play. It was estimated 6 million people heard the broadcast – 1.7 million believed it to be true, and 1.2 million were ‘genuinely frightened’….
I know exactly how Orson Welles felt. Like Mr. Welles, I now apologize to my audience…
Ladies and Gentlemen, as of late, my posts had been, as I had previously mentioned – on the longish side. So I thought I would make a joke and generally start cracking wise by writing a short post, then claiming there was a WordPress problem and you, dear reader had missed out on the long, elaborate and obviously deeply fascinating details. That was when I claimed to have written Pink Floyd’s The Wall…. then I took it a step further by shortening the next days post even further and making it even more outrageous – That I wrote the King James Bible, again & obviously the story would be most riveting, how did I write a Book authored roughly 2 millennium ago…. the third days post was shortened even further, as far as I could take it actually – to one single word, the way to get DVD’s, Books & Magazines for free – steal. A simple, elegant & effective solution. I tipped my hat by writing at the bottom that this was an exercise in economy of word….
Anyways the joke turned out to be on me, so many of you wrote in to tell me that yes, indeed WordPress was broken and large chunks of the posting were missing.. that I had to disable the comments section for those days as it was artificially spiking my traffic. Thank you everyone for doing what I asked and letting me know my posts were being cut off……
I understand your confusion because normally every single thing I write on this post is 100% take-it-to-the-bank, hand-to-god truth, I’m flattered that you felt it possible that not only did I write The Wall, but that I may have been the original author of the Bible. I’m sorry to say, that in this case, this particular specific case – I made up those accomplishments.
I promise you this – first thing in the morning I will remove the Pink Floyd song-writing and the Bible authorship from my resume, god knows how many jobs those entries have gotten me, BUT – it’s the right thing to do….
Have a Great Day
Oh and WordPress seems to be up and working just fine…..