“Tonight’s top story: Mars invades the world. But first, a word from our sponsor.”
These words, spoken by me when I was 15, are at the start of one of the funniest tapes my friends, sister and I made as we grew up. It is the intro to “Invasion of the Polka-Dot People,” just one of dozens of tapes we made back then. Another was the Willie Do-It series, in which reporter Mack Wallace routinely asks, “Will Willie Do-It do it?” (Willie had a pair of brothers, I recall, named Woody and Canny.) Their adventures included digging around the world using a pair of chipmunks, leaping the English Channel, and going on trial for an unfortunate incident involving Dolly Parton. Also in the litany are tapes with my long-ago friend Keith Berry, and in college and my early 20s with Scott, Robert and their ilk. There are a lot of these tapes from through the years.
But why Polka-Dot people, and why chipmunks, you ask? Because for a long time I had my grandfather Batten’s two-speed reel-to-reel recorder, and by recording on the slow speed and playing it back at normal speed, our voices sounded like chipmunks, and we would use any segue we could find to allow us to do scenes “in chipmunk.” Sometimes we would just chatter and giggle “in chipmunk” for the fun of it. Our sponsor most of the time was Scudzo Mouthwash, which I pronounced “Scooo-zo” because I misread a B. C. comic when I was seven.
The reason I was thinking of them this week is that I have finished transferring all these relics to CD/MP3, and have finally purged my life of the archaic audio cassette tape.