"The only blog we have to fear is blog itself."

Friday, November 06, 2015

The list of Living Hitchcock Actors 

Fewer and fewer. 2015 has been a rough year for Hitchcock actors. We're down to about 55 left. On the positive side, Norman Lloyd will be turning 101 in two days, and he's still working even!


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Anybody on the internets know anything about this? 

While perusing some '66 Beatles press , I just saw this notice in Billboard (Jan. 22, 1966) in an article about Polydor Records:
Polydor will press and distribute Reaction, a new label founded by producer-agent-manager Robert Stigwood. A satirical album recorded "live" at a London discotheque will be used to launch Reaction in Britain soon. The album is virtually a "send-up" of the Beatles and their manager Brian Epstein. It is tentatively titled "Are You Fitting Comfortably," and has already been taken by Atlantic for U.S. release.
Did this turn into anything or did this never happen?



Wednesday, January 14, 2009

TV News as a kid 

Have no idea why, but the name "Warren Doremus" just popped into my noggin earlier today. After treating myself to a momentary blank look, a mental eureka: he was a local news anchor in Rochester, NY, when I was a kid.

So then I thought of these names: John Hambleton (my mom's then-favorite weather guy), Dr. Bill Gutsch, Eddie Meath, Gabe Dalmath

Dalmath is the tallest dude. Hambleton is the "ref."

And this just cracks me up. Definitely worth listening to. I didn't think I remembered it initially, but when the singer on the first piece kicks it into high gear, oh yeah!

Friday, October 03, 2008

Headline of the Year 

Man who claimed puppy saved him now charged with arson.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Dear Jonas Brothers 

Or, more specifically, to the attorneys of the Jonas Brothers:

I happened to follow a link which resulted in me ending up on your official website, and realized that I hadn't read your site's Terms of Service. Normally, you understand, I am very diligent and be sure that I am in compliance with any random site's TOS before reading any of the content therein, but I have been a little under the weather with a cold.

Anyway, my legal team and I were combing through your TOS so I could continue browsing your totally awesome website, and we hit a few sticking points. According to section 8(p), in order to use the site, I must "agree not to......intentionally or unintentionally violate any...regulations promulgated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, any rules of any national or other securities exchange, including, without limitation, the New York Stock Exchange, the American Stock Exchange or the NASDAQ, and any regulations having the force of law."

See, I have a stock pump-and-dump operation in the works and was planning on violating several SEC regulations, but this has very little to do with my interest in finding out the Jonas Brothers' next tour date, right? So can we strike this section?

Also, in Section 8(r), you take pains to restrict Jonas Brothers fans from teaching each other to "assemble bombs, grenades and other weapons." Just what sort of rabble are you expecting to swell the ranks of Jonas Brothers fans?

Mike's Minutiae

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Sing along! 

Here's the story of a lovely lady
Who was bringing up five very lovely kids
All of them eat their mooseburgers
And one of them's knocked up.

Here's the story of a man named McCain
Who was busy with a bimbo of his own
They had twelve houses staffed with servants
Yet they were all alone.

Till the one day when the lady met this fellow
And they knew it was much more than a hunch
That this group would somehow form a family
That's the way they all became the Campaign Bunch
The Campaign Bunch

That's the way they all became the Campaign Bunch
The Campaign Bunch!


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Signage for the Ages 

A lot of learned folks have been bending gray cells of late trying to figure out how to send messages to the future. Not via time machines, but through simple physical signs designed to last for thousands of years.

The U.S. Department of Energy is worried that nuclear waste dumps will give future civilizations the ouchies. So they convened groups of experts in a host of fields: history, future studies, economics, law, physics, sociology, geography, engineering, political science, risk analysis, agriculture, climatology, history, and demographics. And here is the signage they came up with:
This place is a message… and part of a system of messages… pay attention to it!

Sending this message was important to us. We considered ourselves to be a powerful culture.

This place is not a place of honor…no highly esteemed deed is commemorated here… nothing valued is here.

What is here is dangerous and repulsive to us. This message is a warning about danger.

The danger is in a particular location… it increases toward a center… the center of danger is here… of a particular size and shape, and below us.

The danger is still present, in your time, as it was in ours.

The danger is to the body, and it can kill.

The form of the danger is an emanation of energy.

The danger is unleashed only if you substantially disturb this place physically. This place is best shunned and left uninhabited.
Remarkable. And how Planet of the Apes!

Meanwhile, other deep thinkers are worried about how to give future civilizations the teacher's edition of all human knowledge, a Rosetta Stone on steroids:
One side of the disk contains a graphic teaser. The design shows headlines in the eight major languages of the world today spiraling inward in ever-decreasing size till it becomes so small you have trouble reading it, yet the text goes on getting smaller. The sentences announce: “Languages of the World: This is an archive of over 1,500 human languages assembled in the year 02008 C.E. Magnify 1,000 times to find over 13,000 pages of language documentation.”

This graphic side of the disk is pure titanium. A black oxide coating has been added to the surface. The text is etched into that, revealing the whiter titanium. This bold sign board is needed because the pages of genesis which are etched on the mirror-like opposite side of the disk are nearly invisible.

This business side of the disk is pure nickel. Picking it up you would not be aware there were 13,500 pages of linguistic gold hiding on it. The nickel is deposited on an etched silicon disk. In effect the Rosetta disk is a nickel cast of a micro-etch silicon mold. When the disk is held at the right angle the grid array of the pages form a slight diffraction rainbow. You need a 750-power optical microscope to read the pages.
Holy hannah. It appears that Global Warming Shock is starting to really set in, what with all these people trying to clean up our planetary apartment for the next renters in hopes that we get our security deposit back. Hopefully in advance of our departure.

"Virtual Tour" 

Why oh why does a business systems company in Syracuse, New York need a 360 degree virtual tour of their offices? It reminds me of a videogame without objectives, purpose, and much in the way of entertainment.

Actual description from a stop along the "tour":
Employee Kitchen Area 1

View from inside our employee kitchen and break room. This also has an entrance for one of our training rooms to the side.
Oooh, I'm tingley all over!

Paging writers of The Office....

Monday, July 07, 2008

New Post?? 

Not really. But I have cleaned up some dead link and updated some of the "College People" section in the side column. IC friends take note.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Flashbacking: January 31, 1997 

Here's part of an email I received on that day, from a listener to my radio show:
I have a small album collection and have been trying to obtain a copy of a song I heard back in the early 1980's. It was the theme to Gilligan's Island done to the tune of Led Zepplin's "Stairway to Heaven". I believe it was done by "Roger and the Goosebumps". I have been told it was only distributed to radio stations as a promo. Ever heard of it? Any ideas on how to obtain a copy?
I heard the song once when it came out on WCMF in Rochester, NY, and then heard nothing for years--not the song itself nor nothing about the band who recorded it. In the '80s, I heard tell that Led Zeppelin's people came down on the song like a ton of bricks, forcing them not only to cease and desist distributing the song but to destroy all copies of it.

As it turned out the hearsay was true: the group (actually "Little Roger and the Goosebumps") "recorded it in March 1978, and released it as a single in May 1978 on their own Splash Records label.[3] Within five weeks, Led Zeppelin's lawyers threatened to sue them and demanded that any remaining copies of the recording be destroyed." (according to Wikipedia; the band's site no longer seems to exist)

Later, I finally got a copy of the song on producer Kenny Laguna's compilation CD Laguna Tunes. Laguna wrote in the liner notes:
[San Francisco Chronicle writer] Joel [Selvin] and Little Roger came up with the concept to record "Stairway to Heaven" and the "Gillian Island" TV theme in a convoluted and comical way.

EARTH QUAKE, who could play every note of the Led Zep classic, did the backing track in THE WHO's London Ramport studio, and Little Roger (Clark) did the lead in San Francisco.

When this record came out it was all over West Coast radio, and was on its way to becoming a huge novelty hit.

PETER GRANT's empire came crashing down on this project like Desert Storm. There were lawyers from LOUIS NIZER, private eyes, and just plain bullies. My chance at a hit dissolved in a whirl of injunctions and professional bring-downers.

Meanwhile, on the same day I got that email, here's something else I did:
A refurbished ''Star Wars'' opens today in about 1,800 theaters. Three weeks from now, ''The Empire Strikes Back'' will strike back, and two weeks after that, ''The Return of the Jedi'' will be the climax, preparing the way for three new ''Star Wars'' epics scheduled to begin arriving at the close of the millennium, recounting the origins of Darth Vader and Obi-Wan Kenobi.



Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Flashbacking: Jan 30, 1997 

Recently, I was poking around in the dark recesses of my computer and I found a couple of archived files of old emails. These were from around 1996-1997, when I was more obsessive about backing things up (gulp! I haven't done a full backup in years!).

So I thought it would be interesting to revisit that time with a little compare-and-contrast to today (get your blue essay books ready, please). Some of this material is personal, some professional, and some cultural/societal. All email adress and names will be changed, omitted, or generalized to protect the innocent, the guilty, and the bystanders on the information superhighway.

On January 30, 1997, I received the following forwarded joke:
After a few years of married life, this guy finds that he is unable to perform anymore. He goes to his doctor, and his doctor tries a few things but nothing works.

Finally the doctor says to him "this is all in your mind", and refers him to a psychiatrist. After a few visits to the shrink, the shrink confess, "I am at a loss as to how you could possibly be cured."

Finally the psychiatrist refers him to witch doctor.

The witch doctor tells, "I can cure this", and throws some powder on a flame, and there is a flash with billowing blue smoke........ The witch doctor says "This is powerful healing, but you can only use it once a year! All you have to do is say '123' and it shall rise for as long as you wish!"

The guy then asks the witch doctor "What happens when it's over?"

The witch doctor says "All you have to say is '1234' and it will go down. But be warned it will not work again for a year!"

The guy goes home and that night he is ready to surprise his wife with the good news....... So, he is lying in bed with her and says "123", and suddenly he gets an erection.

His wife turns over and says "What did you say '123' for?"
What's interesting about this joke, from both a comedic and sociological vantage point, is that it pre-dates Viagra, which, although patented in 1996, wouldn't be marketed until 1998. This is key, since the joke's set-up entirely depends on no easy way for the protagonist to get past his bedroom problem. A year later, and the joke would grind to an abrupt halt at the doctor visit.

Of course, the set-up could be re-written (he couldn't afford the high cost of Viagra, say) but it's a good study in how real-world events can kill an otherwise perfectly serviceable joke.

It makes me think somewhat of a bit I had written in the summer of 2001, where I had Osama bin Laden claiming responsibility for the disastrous Bette Midler sitcom Bette. It was funny at the time but I didn't then have a good outlet for humor (since I was no longer doing a radio morning show), and that joke was completely useless after September 11th.



Thursday, November 22, 2007

Someone ate the brown acid 

Last year, an outlet mall north of Pittsburgh opened at midnight after Thanksgiving to get a jump start on the shameless day-after orgy of shopping that has become wedded to the holiday tradition. The response was so huge that it nearly shut down a nearby interstate, as traffic from the mall overwhelmed the mall parking lot and backed up for miles.

They're doing it again tonight, while reassuring shoppers that all vehicles will be accommodated this time. But, oh, how they speak of 2006's chaos with a misty-eyed nostalgia!

Get a load of Michele Czerwinski, senior marketing manager for the mall:
"From a business and marketing perspective, it was the most exciting thing that I ever experienced in my life. I don't know what Woodstock was like, but I felt like it was this little secret sale that everybody knew about."
Yes. Woodstock.

Except instead of being the defining moment for a cultural youth movement, it's about 40% off Banana Republic shirts.

As a side note, if they're so confident they'll be avoiding the gridlock from last year, how come their tips for better enjoying the shopping experience (.pdf) include the suggestion "Fully Gas Up the Car"?

Thank goodness I'm working on Friday.

Monday, November 12, 2007

About 19 years ago.... 

From Time Magazine, Nov. 14, 1988:
It is one of the least publicized achievements of the computer revolution: a huge, arching communications network connecting 60,000 computers by high-speed data links and ordinary telephone lines. Developed by the U.S. Department of Defense's Advanced Research Projects Agency in the late 1960s, Arpanet, as the information grid is called, has carried everything from unclassified military data to electronic love notes sent from one lonely researcher to another. But last week it became the conduit for something much more dramatic: one of the most sophisticated and infectious computer viruses the world has yet seen.

The trouble surfaced in computer centers at two institutions that serve as major network links: M.I.T. and the University of California, Berkeley. Last Wednesday night computers at both centers started furiously generating unwanted electronic files, clogging up their storage systems and slowing operations to a crawl. Almost immediately, similar problems began turning up at other centers throughout the network, from the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington to New Mexico's Los Alamos National Laboratory. Within hours, operators shut down thousands of machines across the country to quarantine them, severing their connections to other computers and rendering productive work all but impossible.
At the time, The New York Times still included the word "virus" in the phrase "computer virus" in quotes. The NYT, Nov. 8, 1988:
The Federal Bureau of Investigation began an official criminal investigation today of the computer ''virus'' that crippled a nationwide Pentagon data network last week, and officials indicated that a decision on whether to prosecute the author of the renegade computer program was near.

Charles Steinmetz, a spokesman for the bureau, said an informal inquiry into the computer incident over the weekend uncovered ''enough elements there for the Federals to investigate it officially'' as a probable criminal act.


The man suspected of planting the virus in a Cornell University computer terminal, Robert Tappan Morris, a 23-year-old graduate student at Cornell University, appeared briefly with his father outside his parents' home in Arnold, Md., this afternoon, but declined to discuss the incident.
Morris now teaches at MIT.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

One Thing I've Been Up to Lately... 

In June, I got married (and since then, alas, I've had little time to blog: moving in, honeymoon, home improvement projects, usual summer hecticity, etc.).

Anyway, my wife and I married ourselves using self-uniting marriage license, which allows a couple to become married with no third-party officiant or celebrant. It's sometimes called a Quaker marriage, and although it's fairly unique across the nation it has been an option in the religiously accommodating Pennsylvania since 1701.

A mere three months afterwards, another couple (one of whom I happen to work with) was denied a self-uniting marriage license by the Allegheny County Marriage License Bureau. They were told that the county no longer offers self-uniting licenses and that they haven't been offered since 2005. After some reflection, Mary Jo and Dave decided to sue the county.

I'll let the media pick up the story from here.

For anyone in Pennsylvania seeking more information about self-uniting marriage licenses--which are legal in the state, but routinely denied (e.g., see this article)--read more here: Knelly v. Wagner.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

What the heck is electronic mail? 

Computerworld is running a collection of their favorite old computer ads, including the above one from Nov. 1981. Honeywell, for some reason, chose to depict email as a frightening and dangerous new method of correspondence. Fun.



Monday, June 11, 2007

Flashback Quote of the Week 

A flashback to March 5, 1990:
"Musically, we are more talented than any Bob Dylan," announces Robert Pilatus, 24, with very little prodding. "Musically, we are more talented than Paul McCartney. Mick Jagger, his lines are not clear. He don't know how he should produce a sound. I'm the new modern rock 'n' roll. I'm the new Elvis."
Farian confirmed to reporters on November 12, 1990, that Morvan and Pilatus did not sing on the records. As a result of American media pressure, Milli Vanilli's Grammy was withdrawn four days later...and Arista Records dropped the act from its roster and deleted their album and its masters from their catalog, taking Girl You Know It's True out of print.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Quote of the week... 

If we can’t restrict the use of the words "fuck" and "shit" during prime time, Hollywood will be able to say anything they want, whenever they want.
Those are the words of FCC Chairman Kevin Martin on the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals Indecency Decision. He released a brief statement (.doc) that is fairly remarkable as a public tantrum.

The FCC's arguments were nearly completely shredded in the court decision (.pdf), and the agency came off even worse in their oral arguments which was absolutely riveting TV viewing (don't have a link, but it was shown on C-SPAN's "America & The Courts" so they might have streaming video on their site). So Martin is hopping mad and perhaps needs a little session in the "time-out" area. (you know, for kids?)



Sunday, June 03, 2007

Introducing No Band... 

So I was scheduled to introduce Robert Randolph & The Family Band on Friday (6/1) for a free performance at the opening night of the Three Rivers Arts Festival (the annual June series of free outdoor concerts and arts downtown).

I was psyched to do so, especially since Robert was performing as a headliner. It seems like every time the pedal steel phenom has passed through Pittsburgh in recent years, he's either an opening act or part of a co-headlining package tour. Dammit, I want to see the man play and to see him with a crowd who is also there specifically to see him! Is that too much to ask?

The band was scheduled to get underway at 7:30, so I arrived around 7 at the backstage area. Very quickly, I sensed tension among the Arts Festival staff. Soon I learned why--Randolph was stuck in New Jersey, a victim of thunderstorm-induced airline cancellations. Some of his band was just arriving at Pittsburgh International at that moment. Only one player, bassist Danyel Morgan, had made it to town on time and intact.

There were frenzied discussions about various options. Danyel wanted to play with Robert, I was told (he had not yet arrived on the scene), but that required the rest of the band to arrive. Either way, someone would have to break the bad news to the crowd--it was just a question of (a) when it would be done, (b) who would do it, and (c) how bad the news would be (e.g., no show at all or no Robert Randolph).

After Danyel showed up and he pow-wowed with the Arts Festival staff, it was decided that the rest of the band would not be able to get downtown in anything resembling a timely fashion. Therefore, the show had to be cancelled. I was to go out on stage and speak to the audience, but, to his credit, Danyel was willing to go out with me on behalf of the band and personally apologize. That was huge, as I would not thrilled to have to break the news to the hot and and rowdy crowd alone.

Hell, it's never easy to have to tell and audience that a band is going to be slightly delayed. Announcing a cancelled show from the stage could be downright dangerous. Although everyone were (rightfully) disappointed and/or pissed off, everyone took it as well as could be expected under the circumstances.

Hell, there was a guy who was waving around a folding chair even before Danyel and I walked out on stage, and though he continued to wave it around when we announced the show wasn't happening, thankfully, he kept it firmly in hand before, during, and after the announcement.

All in all, a rough gig...

Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Music Minutiae Strikes Back! 

I re-added my "Music Minutiae" music news "sideblog" on the right-hand side of the page. The previous incarnation was via free service that went kaput. Now it's using an RSS feed from the music blog I co-edit at WYEP. Of course, the RSS is converted to a javascript using another free web service, so we'll see if this one lasts...

Let me know if you see any problems with the Music Minutiae. Thanks!

I think I'm going to try to add headlines from my "My Life in Concerts" blog as well, which give me a reason to actually update that one... I just added the concert feed as well!



Monday, March 19, 2007

"A Super Huge Rock Band Is Forming Only Group Thats Going To Matter" 

So says the Google AdSense ad, rife with bluster and a casual attitude towards punctuation and syntax.

I didn't want to click on the ad, so I Googled the phrase instead and read what someone else had already blogged on it.
The World’s Next Great Rock Band Is Now Forming. You Will Absolutely Be The #1 Band After Your First Cd Release. I Guarantee It.

The Group Will Have 5 Lead Singing Capable Musicians+ Great Original Songs+ Great Obscure Cover Songs= The Worlds Greatest New Rock Band….........I Say Yeah! Yeah Yeah Yeahh….......I Got Fame….....Right Here….........If You Want It. The Beatles Had 4 Singers, I Want 5. Are You Worthy?
Thank goodness he guarantees it. Otherwise I might be worried. Read more...

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours? Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com