Monday, October 12, 2009

Episode #1500 contest!!! Prize Revealed!

As you may know, Mister Ron's Basement ( has just published Episode #1500! It is actually in EIGHT parts, and will be posted over eight days.

There is no other Podcast on iTunes that is even close to 1500 Episodes...

Mister Ron is certainly available for interviews. Just send to the email listed below.

While maybe not everything in the Basement may be your cup of tea, some of the humorous stories are perhaps funnier today than they were a hundred or hundred and fifty years ago.

Most of the authors featured on the Podcast were once household names in America, and now are sadly forgotten. The mission of our program is to try to restore some of those writers to the recognition they deserve.

We have something special planned for Episode #1500, and leading up to it, we are having a contest!
Somebody will win a genuine classic book of American Humor that is at least 100 years old. A true collectible!

The prize is a 1906 hardback printing of Ellis Parker Butler's classic "Pigs is Pigs.".

How do you enter? Simple -- send me an email (my address is with the subject line "My Favorite Episode." Then tell me which Episode of the Basement is your favorite. You don't have to tell me why, but I would love to hear it anyway. Just give me the name of the story and the author. Please send me an email. You can send me messages on Facebook all you like, but they won't count in the contest.

All the entries will go in a hat after we release Episode #1500 (Part Eight of Eight). The winner will be announced afterward. So go visit the web site, or subscribe in iTunes, and pick out a good one! Feel free to use the Catalog and Individual Author indexes to help make your decision.

Thanks to all my listeners!


Saturday, April 18, 2009

A Vital Message from Ron Evry

Many of you have enjoyed my daily podcast, “Mister Ron’s Basement” ( for years now. It began in March of 2005 and currently has over 1350 Episodes, more than any other Podcast on iTunes. The podcast receives anywhere from 25,000 to 35,000 downloads every single day, and uses around 200 to 250 Gigabytes of bandwidth daily.

While some may not find my voice or delivery style to their tastes, there is no denying that the many humorous stories by mostly forgotten authors that I have rescued from oblivion are restoring a vital American Treasure to the world.

Most people’s view of early American humor begins and ends with Mark Twain or O Henry. Yet authors such as Fanny Fern, Max Adeler, George Ade, Edgar Wilson (“Bill”) Nye, M. Quad, George W. Peck, Philander Doesticks, and Stanley Huntley, are highly significant in the development of the uniquely American attitude of not taking everything seriously.

To the world at large, American humor, represented by film, television, comic books and strips, and stand-up comedians, is the pinnacle of comedy. A good portion of our entertainment exports (always in the very top ranks of our Gross National Product) is descending from the works of these mostly forgotten writers, who were once household names.

Utilizing researching techniques that simply weren’t available a few years ago, I am uncovering the stories that our ancestors used to laugh at, and have discovered that a great deal of it is still extremely funny today. The podcasts, in recent months, have been fully indexed, and can be accessed at:

But now Mister Ron’s Basement is facing a major hitch in its operation. Roger Strickland, the proprietor of, my Podcast host for the last four years, will be closing up shop at the end of July. He has attempted over this period to make an economical platform for podcasters, charging five dollars a month for unlimited bandwidth. To accomplish this, he has needed a steady stream of new customers, and the current bad economy has reduced this figure drastically. Undoubtedly, the very success of Mister Ron’s Basement may have put a strain on his resources as well, with its ever-growing need for bandwidth.

Looking through what is available in hosting services out in the real world, I have discovered that most of the surviving hosts out there want $300 to $400 a month from me to continue my operation. One hosting service told me that I “don’t have to be a millionaire” to use their servers. Just $50 a month and thirty cents a Gigabyte for bandwidth. Last month alone I used up Five Terabytes of bandwidth. This works out to $1500 a month. Sorry. Don’t have it.

I have apparently negotiated a deal with a major hosting company to pay a one-time fee for archiving all my back episodes, and continuing with my daily podcasts. Essentially, this is going to work out to about a thousand dollars for the first year. They also will split ad revenue with me, giving me the larger share if I come up with the sponsor.

So far, I have not found any sponsor, but anyone reading this who thinks they can put me in contact with one, please write!

To make Mister Ron’s Basement’s valuable archive and continued podcasts available, I am asking for donations. Ideally, I would like to find a thousand people with a dollar each to help me carry on this work.

If any of these stories have made you laugh, please drop a dollar into my virtual hat. You can get to the donation button at:

This is being done through Paypal, and you don’t have to be a member of Paypal to use the service. 

If you prefer, please drop a dollar or more (or a check) into an envelope and send it to:

Ron Evry

2880 Cedar Crest Ct

Woodbridge, VA 22192

Of course, I am desperately looking for any and all publicity to ensure the survival of this National Treasure. Anybody reading this from print, radio, or web media that would like a fascinating article, please contact me at

Keep Laughing!


Thursday, January 15, 2009

An Edgar Allan Poe Oddity

Listeners to the Basement might notice that we are celebrating Edgar Allan Poe's Bicentennial Birthday with readings of his funniest stories and poems. Poe is not really appreciated by the public for his humor, but he could write some knee-slappers now and then. Poe himself seemed to consider some of his horror tales a laugh riot, but even so, we have found some good stuff that is okay for the squeamish...

One of the stories we have read is called Diddling -- Considered as One of the Exact Sciences from 1843. You can listen to it at A diddler, in case you didn't know it, was a 19th Century term for a con artist. When I read this piece, something struck me as familiar, and then I remembered that way back in Basement Episode number 438, found at, I had read an 1830 Seba Smith story called My First Visit to Portland. In this tale, country boy Jack Downing comes to the big town and outsmarts the city slickers.

The two stories each feature scenes which resemble each other very much. Here's the scene from the Smith 1830 story:

Well, then, says I to myself, I have a pesky good mind to go in and have a try with one of these chaps and see if they can twist my eye- teeth out. If they can get the best end of the bargain out of me they can do what there ain't a man in our place can do; and I should just like to know what sort of stuff these ere Portland chaps are made of. So in I goes into the best-looking store among 'em. And I see some biscuit lying on the shelf, and says I:

"Mister, how much do you ax apiece for them ere biscuits?"

"A cent apiece," says he.

"Well," says I, "I shan't give you that, but if you've a mind to, I'll give you two cents for three of them, for I begin to feel a little as tho' I would like to take a bite."

"Well," says he, "I wouldn't sell 'em to anybody else so, but seeing it's you I don't care if you take 'em."

I knew he lied, for he never seen me before in his life. Well, he handed down the biscuits, and I took 'em, and walked round the store awhile, to see what else he had to sell. At last says I:

"Mister, have you got any good cider?"

Says he, "Yes, as good as ever you see."

"Well," says I, "what do you ax a glass for it?"

"Two cents," says he.

"Well," says I, "seems to me I feel more dry than I do hungry now. Ain't you a mind to take these ere biscuits again and give me a glass of cider?" and says he:

"I don't care if I do."

So he took and laid 'em on the shelf again and poured out a glass of cider. I took the glass of cider and drinkt it down, and, to tell you the truth about it, it was capital good cider. Then says I:

"I guess it's about time for me to be a-going," and so I stept along toward the door; but he ups and says, says he:

"Stop, mister, I believe you haven't paid me for the cider."

"Not paid you for the cider!" says I; "what do you mean by that? Didn't the biscuits that I give you just come to the cider?"

"Oh, ah, right!" says he.

So I started to go again, but before I had reached the door he says, says he:

"But stop, mister, you didn't pay me for the biscuits."

"What!" says I, "do you mean to impose upon me? Do you think I am going to pay you for the biscuits, and let you keep them, too? Ain't they there now on your shelf? What more do you want? I guess, sir, you don't whittle me in that way."

So I turned about and marched off and left the feller staring and scratching his head as tho' he was struck with a dunderment.

Now here is the similar paragraph from Poe's piece:

Rather a small, but still a scientific diddle is this. The diddler approaches the bar of a tavern, and demands a couple of twists of tobacco. These are handed to him, when, having slightly examined them, he says:

"I don't much like this tobacco. Here, take it back, and give me a glass of brandy and water in its place."

The brandy and water is furnished and imbibed, and the diddler makes his way to the door. But the voice of the tavern-keeper arrests him.

"I believe, sir, you have forgotten to pay for your brandy and water."

"Pay for my brandy and water! — didn't I give you the tobacco for the brandy and water? What more would you have?"

"But, sir, if you please, I don't remember that you paid me for the tobacco."

"What do you mean by that, you scoundrel? — Didn't I give you back your tobacco? Isn't that your tobacco lying there? Do you expect me to pay for what I did not take?"

"But, sir," says the publican, now rather at a loss what to say, "but sir —"

"But me no buts, sir," interrupts the diddler, apparently in very high dudgeon, and slamming the door after him, as he makes his escape. — "But me no buts, sir, and none of your tricks upon travellers."

Now there is a significant difference in the details, but the two are quite close. Investigating further, I discovered that Poe was indeed quite familiar with Seba Smith's work, and had written a scathing review of Smith's poetry, stating that the author would be better off sticking to humor.

So what do you think? Your comments and emails are welcome...

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button & other items of interest

It has been awhile since I've updated the Basement Blog, so I thought this might be an opportune time. Long time listeners to the Basement may have noticed that I have not been following my usual schedule of posting a new Episode every single day. Essentially, there are a lot of technical issues at the moment preventing this, as the Podcast Server I use,, is being updated and tweaked to handle the huge amounts of traffic the client podcasts generate (in actuality, Mister Ron's Basement has been grabbing incredible amounts of bandwidth, with an average of twenty-thousand downloads a day).

Anyway, I did manage to get in a couple of wonderful Episodes before the uploading door shut for a while, and you are highly encouraged to download these and give a listen.

The first was posted on Christmas Eve. It was a truly rare Spoopendyke Christmas story that was apparently written for the Washington Post. I have not been able to find it in the Brooklyn Eagle archives at all. It's called 'Mrs. Spoopendyke's Christmas Gift.' You'll find it at:

or you can directly download the audio file at:

What really makes this exceptional is that I absolutely was positive that there were no more Spoopendyke stories to be found anywhere. So far, I have read over ninety different Spoopendyke tales by Stanley Huntley on the Basement podcast, and this may be most comprehensive collection of these works anyone has ever put together. Huntley's career as a humorist was cut short by debilitating illness and an early death, and he apparently sent these stories out to a number of publications besides the Brooklyn Eagle.

Once we get new Basement episodes going again, I have another Spoopendyke story ready, that appeared in The Washington Post late in 1884, long after Huntley was replaced at the Eagle by Robert J. Burdette.

Meanwhile here's a short, intriguing item the Post reprinted in 1882 from The St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

American Humor

It is a sad fact that American humorists, as a class, resemble precocious children, Let them do one thing at which the world laughs, and they will repeat the performance over again with a persistence and a mad hankering to please which makes justifiable homicide a relaxation as well as a duty. Stanley Huntley's "Spoopendyke Papers" were good at first, but anybody could write them now. The humor is strictly machine work, but "Mr. Spoopendyke" grinds at his comparison mill with a fresh and breezy conviction that his fund does not pall upon repetition. Mark Twain's jokes are the result of a plain, chemical formula; given a man's chair, a dark night and a tumble, and a grammar school boy could construct a witticism which Mr. Clements (sic) would swear was his own. Bill Nye has little receipt for humor just as George W. Peck has his, and Peck could write Nye's stuff just as Nye could write Eugene Field's, or Aleck Swart write Josh Billings's. What we complain of is that there is no spontaneity about recent humorous writers. These amusing gentlemen would as soon think of tampering with the Lord's prayer as altering the form made or expression of their wit. They seem to think that that when they have a good thing they should stick to it. A patented style of humor may, as the country grows older, pass as an heirloom in certain families, and it would be no surprise to us were we to revisit the pale glimpses of the moon five centuries hence, discover a descendant of Stanley Huntley writing that all "Mrs. Spoopendyke" needed to be Eve was to add a few years to her age.

While there is certainly much that can be taken issue with in this article, at the least with its comments on Mark Twain's work, I kind of like the idea of the inheritors of Huntley's mantle on the moon, well, four centuries from now, attempting to crank out tales of the Spoopendykes.

Anyway, the second Christmas Episode I managed to post was number 1246, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button." This is complete, original, lengthy short story as published in Collier's Magazine in 1921. Christmas Day also saw the public opening of the movie somewhat based on this story featuring Brad Pitt as the title character, and Cate Blanchett in a terrific role that was not in the original tale.

The movie is terrific, and I recommend seeing it, at the least, for the wonderful set and costume designs. But as fine as the movie is, the story is a work of genius, a rare indulgence in pure fantasy for F. Scott Fitzgerald. I had a lot of fun reading it, and attempted to make it lively and interesting to hear. It is almost an hour long and can be found at:

If you want to download the sound file directly, point your browser to:

Your comments are more than welcome.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

1905 Ghostbusters story

Back in 1905, Gellet Burgess (most well known today for his poem Purple Cow) published a little tale called The Ghost-Extinguisher, about a scientist who discovers a Japanese technique for disabling ghosts and putting them in jars. The scientist refines the process a bit:

Such elusive spirits are able to pass through walls and elude pursuit with ease. It became necessary for me to obtain some instrument by which their capture could be conveniently effected. The ordinary fire-extinguisher of commerce gave me the hint as to how the problem could be solved. One of these portable hand-instruments I filled with the proper chemicals. When inverted, the ingredients were commingled in vacuo and a vast volume of gas was liberated. This was collected in the reservoir provided with a rubber tube having a nozzle at the end. The whole apparatus being strapped upon my back, I was enabled to direct a stream of powerful precipitating gas in any desired direction, the flow being under control through the agency of a small stopcock. By means of this ghost-extinguisher I was enabled to pursue my experiments as far as I desired.

Yeah, it sure sounds like the devices Bill Murray & pals were using in the film Ghostbusters. There's some other interesting similarities to the movie as well, although the story is obviously different. So let's just call it inspirational and enjoy.

Since the story is in the public domain, I Bowlderized it just a tad -- my apologies to purists who feel this thing shouldn't be done, and to people who are sensitive to the 1905 language that wouldn't be tolerated today. In the story, Burgess uses the term "Japs" much more than the designation "Japanese," so I changed them all to Japanese (the nationality is kind of crucial to the story). He also utilized racist dialogue like:

“You hully up, bling me one pair bellows pletty quick!” he commanded.

That I tried to change as much as possible in my reading. I hope I succeeded.

I welcome your comments on this discovery. It is Mister Ron's Basement Episode Number 1189, and can be found at:

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Counterfeit Spoopendyke Stories?

Mister Ron's Basement Episode # 1157 features some very funny Stanley Huntley stories and two Spoopendyke curiosities from 1882. The first one is called Spoopendyke at the Telephone, which we found in the Brooklyn Eagle, but not in the regular Sunday Salad column, and credited to the Portland, Oregon Welcome. This piece is obviously not a real Spoopendyke story (it doesn't even try to sound like one), and nobody back then would have confused it with the real thing.

The second oddity is called Spoopendyke Starts a Fire, and it presents a bit of a conundrum. This tale almost sounds like an authentic Huntley piece, and the North Carolina newspaper I found it in claims to have gotten it from the Brooklyn Eagle. Yet, there is something...wrong with it!

First of all, diligent searching has not turned the piece up in the Brooklyn Eagle archives. Secondly, the story is simply too short, and really does not make any point. Mr. Spoopendyke's sarcasm is not as sharply biting (or as clever) as usual. The author calls the characters "Mr. S." and "Mrs S." which Huntley simply did not do. There is a reference to the story taking place "the morning after the sardines had been disposed of," referring to the famous Opening Sardines story from the previous year. Yes, Huntley did sometimes refer to previous events in older stories, but this reference seems uncharacteristic.

There are other parts of the story that don't quite make it either. 

The question, then, is why would the Raleigh News and Observer create a fake Spoopendyke tale? Well, these stories were immensely popular, and they sold newspapers. Copyright laws were not too rigidly enforced back in the 1880s, and in fact, most newspapers reprinted from each other on a widespread basis without payment. Almost every newspaper of the period had a scissors man on staff. Huntley certainly engaged in this practice as did many other well-known writers of the 19th Century, including Mark Twain.

An 1880 story, Mr. Spoopendyke's Free Seats, had Huntley himself as a character (The Salad Man), complaining how his creations were being stolen by a long list of newspapers. So, at least IMHO, it is a good possibilty that Spoopendyke Starts a Fire was a fake, written by someone on staff at the Raleigh News and Observer to generate circulation during one of Huntley's many dry spells.

What do you think? Your comments are welcome...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Indexing Blues

Yes, Mister Ron is still alive, but hasn't updated this blog for months (the podcast is still being updated daily, and the stories are as good as ever!).

We are working on building a complete Index of all the episodes, and it is coming slowly. Nevertheless, we are well over halfway finished, encoding the thing in raw html. Once it is done, you will be able to click on lots of individual author indexes, such as the one we have built for Stanley Huntley.

So hang in there!

Comments are always welcome...