part II 1971-1977


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Sometime during this summer, CHOM ran a strange radio drama series called 'The Fourth Tower of Inverness'...


From, August 14, 2005:


"What do you mean? There is no north tower!"


"But when I was walking up the road, up from the bay, I could see the tops rising out of the fog - four distinct towers."


"I assure you. There is no fourth tower of Invernes


Initially broadcast as a series of fifteen minute episodes in 1972, "The Fourth Tower of Inverness" was the first full-length radio production of ZBS Media and the series that introduced the world to Jack Flanders, the man who seems to hitchhike between dimensions for a living.


The concept behind the Fourth Tower (or behind any Jack Flanders adventure for that matter) is hard to pin down, but here goes: Jack is an adventurer in the old colonial style, just through the astral realms, also known as the invisible world. He starts his travels by accepting an invitation to visit his aunt, the heiress of a massive mansion known as Inverness (not the one in Scotland - its location is indeterminate but it's specifically mentioned that this is a different Inverness). Located on top of a mountain, the mansion is home to a crackpot assortment of eccentrics and social misfits. There's the mildly deranged alchemist trying to catch a dragon with divine flypaper (dragon flypaper, geddit?), a little girl with pigtails who smokes Havana cigars and has no pupils in her eyes and a vampire who lives in the walls and feeds off of the energy of the guests, to name a few. Oh, and Ram Dass lives in a wurlitzer jukebox in the east tower.


It turns out that the fabled fourth tower that Jack insists he saw on the walk up does exist, in a way - over Inverness' two hundred year existence only seven people have claimed to be able to see the tower and all of them vanished without a trace. Jack's Uncle was the seventh; Jack is the eighth. He ends up in the fourth tower in a realm completely disassociated from our reality, trying desperately to rescue his uncle without losing himself in the process.


If the guys behind this project took it at all seriously it would probably be painful to listen to, but they don't. The writer, a man by the name of (I shit you not) Meatball Fulton, made sure the show was loose enough to make fun of its predecessors without insulting them - there's plenty of lightning and hooting owls when the characters say something odd, and there's a fantastic, pseudomystical slant to the whole endeavor that grounds it firmly in the absurd. And the puns. My god, the puns. Even better, the editors decided to throw a wrecking ball into the fourth wall by leaving gaffes and out-takes in the broadcasts. It brings the audience closer somehow, as if being in on the joke makes the serial feel like a group of friends telling stories around a fire. It's endearing, really.


There's also something charming about the fifteen minute scene lengths - since it was designed to be broadcast there had to be a bit of repetition to keep people up to date on what the hell was going on and that format perfectly fits my fractured attention span - I can listen to hours of this stuff without becoming even remotely bored].


I believe also that CBC TV broadcasted an epic Soviet version of "War and Peace" this summer. I remember a scene where a man and woman sat by a shell shaped fountain, and all you could hear was the water...


There also was an Italian version of "The Odyssey" (dubbed in English)...



August 1972


August 1 Tuesday

Lesley and Judy came over, sat in the basement. Tried to figure out something to do. Watched 'Wild Wild West' in the reckroom. Judy left at 5:30, Lesley and I made dinner for Florabell and the brat [my mother and sister Karen], and played cards in the den while it was cooking. We left at 6:30 and walked along the 2&20 to Lesley's. At 7:30 had hamburgers in the backyard. At 8 went to Lakeside Park, and got Judy at the pool. We walked to Judy's, sat in the backroom and talked. Sandi came. We left at 10:30.


Letter written August 1, 1972 by Chris from Valcartier, Quebec


Dear Alan & Everyone Else Present:


I'm really sorry that I haven't written you until now. It's really tough & I haven't had much time to write. I have to rush this letter because I have to be somewhere for a lecture (woopee!). There is some goodies in camp but it is very expensive. The camp itself is a hole but I won't be here for much longer anyway.


Please tell everyone that I miss them and give them my regards.


Sorry but I have to go Chris


PS writing on a pillow is very hard to do.


August 2 Wednesday

Got my History exam mark in the mail, got 70.


August 3 Thursday

Got a letter form Chris, wrote a letter to him, mailed letter to Chris and Ralph.


August 5 Saturday

At about 1:45 walked to Lesley's, Gillian and Alan there. Redid the basement, Judy came. Went in the backyard and ate and fed peanuts to the squirrels, then watched 'Bugs Bunny' in the kitchen. Got a drive home with Gillian.


August 6 Sunday

About 1 Lesley came over, then Judy, then Manny, then Diane. Lesley left. We made strange tapes on the reel to reel . Judy and Diane left, Manny and I played chess. About 7 Judy came back, taped more. At 8:30 Lesley came back, made a tape of short bits of records [in response to questions]. Judy and Manny left at 10, Lesley at 11.


August 7 Monday

Gillian came over, sat in the den. Talked, wrote a letter to Chris [which we never sent]. Watched 'Wild Wild West' in the livingroom.