Nostalgic Rumblings
The Ramblings of an Old Man

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July 2005
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Gutless Local Public Radio Stations…

Filed under: Radio Today — Charlie Summers @ 11:56 am

Ok, this rant is going to come under the heading of, “When the hell did the tail start to wag the dog?”

My annoying, non-life-threatening-yet-time-consuming illness is keeping me way out of the loop…while trying to get enough stuff done to get by until I get fixed, I haven’t been reading Current magazine or otherwise paying attention to the nonsense National Public Radio has been up to. It wasn’t until a kind letter from Scott Walterman, Program Manager for XM Public Radio that I started to research the latest bull-hockey that NPR is shoveling to complacent member stations and the rest of the world.

The Connection, long-running WBUR Boston program and the 2000-battleground between Christopher Lyden and the station which resulted in the firing of Mr. Lydon, ends its run this Friday. Acting General Manager Peter Fiedler, “after months of extensive internal reviews and in consultation with National Public Radio,” has decided to make major changes to the schedule, including firing The Connection host Dick Gordon and closing down the show. They will be replacing it with the frenetic and irritating “On Point,” hosted by Tom Ashbrook (fortunately for those of us who listen to XMPR, we only have to deal with one hour of this during the day, while the evening run remains).

Ok, they can shut down anything they want (although you gotta think Mr. Lydon is thrilled beyond words, and if I were him I’d spend a few minutes on Friday saying, “Na-na-nana-na!” to WBUR). But they have also decided to restrict the wonderful Here and Now, giving it, “more of a New England focus.”

You can bet that idea came straight from NPR.

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Call for OTR Help: Studs Terkel Radio Broadcasts

Filed under: Old-Time Radio — Charlie Summers @ 11:34 am

Folks, I’m desperately asking for help here - if you have any early Studs Terkel broadcasts in your collection (including but not limited to episodes of Studs Place), please contact me ASAP (there is a severe time contraint)!!!

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Bob Edwards’ Interview of Norman Corwin…

Filed under: Old-Time Radio, Radio Today — Charlie Summers @ 10:09 pm

Talk about the show on

I’m not going to “review” the interview; Bob Edwards is unquestionably the best interviewer we have today, and Norman Corwin is probably one of the most elequent people I’ve ever heard, so the combination results in nothing less than an hour of exceptional radio (even more, if you include the +10-minute “preview” that aired on yesterday’s show). I want to briefly touch on a few things that may not be obvious…

First off, there was a point where I couldn’t help but become teary-eyed; one of the “drop-ins” used by the producer (Andy Danyo) taken from, “On a Note of Triumph,” just happened to be my late friend Harry Bartell saying, “If you don’t mind, there are some things we guys would like to ask…”; I wasn’t expecting to hear his voice (although I of course know of his credit there, it just didn’t occur to me that I might hear him speak during the interview - I never mentioned to Andy that I knew anyone on the show), and couldn’t help but become a bit misty…had nothing to do with the strength of Corwin’s production, it was just the sense of loss I sometimes get when I hear one of his performances. It’s a selfish thing; I don’t miss the radio actor nearly as much as I miss the friend who used to send me the dryest yet funniest comments on anything that struck his fancy.

I was also terribly impressed with the way the producer wove into the production the pieces of his works. I heard most of them over the past few weeks (even the pieces she got directly from Corwin or Loadstone are here) and many more, since I didn’t forward everything I have to her. Yet even having heard the shows over the last few weeks, they took on a different context when listening to the interweaving of the old and the new. Now I understand how important a good producer is to “making” the show - Edwards alone is excellent, but with this staff of talented people behind him, he becomes extrordinary. (I wonder if it has sunk in yet that she produced and directed Norman Corwin. I mean, no matter what else she does in her life, she’ll always be able to say she produced and directed the greatest radio producer/director ever.)

I was thrilled to hear Corwin talk about, “My Client Curley,” one of my favorite Corwin pieces. I’ve heard the original broadcasts many times over the years, and seen the program “re-created” by OTR actors more than once, and the darned thing still always cracks me up with its oddball combination of whimsy and satire. If you’ve never heard it, seek it out…it’s well worth the effort.

Poor Bob…he kept trying to redirect Corwin whenever Norman complimented the interviewer. Seriously, guy, screw it; if someone as prestigious as Norman Corwin tells you you are one of the four greatest voices ever behind the microphone, in a group including Orson Welles, you are more than welcomed to become completely insufferable for a few moments…my lord, man, talk about an amazing compliment!

Speaking of compliments, I’ve gotten a lot of email today about being mentioned at the end of the show, something that was quite unexpected and frankly a little unnerving when I first heard it this morning (thank heavens I wasn’t driving!). I’ve been asked by more than one person to comment (and teased mercilessly by a few). So lessee…a radio legend like Bob Edwards mentions my name within a program dedicated to Norman Corwin, one of the greatest radio writers/producers/directors radio has ever seen. If one is known by the company one keeps, I want someone to write this one down…it’s unlikely to get much better. And my great thanks go to the thousands of subscribers to the Internet OTR Digest, who make it worth getting up in the morning.

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I’m a Little Nervous…

Filed under: Radio Today — Charlie Summers @ 7:27 pm

As those of you who know me know, I’m not adverse to change; in fact, medical surprises aside, change excites me, and keeps me thinking.

But at the same time, I do have my routines, and I get nervous when things interfere with them. XMPR listening is one of those routines. And it’s apparently going to change.

The recent loss of the CBC show, “As It Happens” (not XMPR’s idea; the CBC pulled it due to ongoing negotiations for XM to be licensed in Canada) hurt, but it’s aired on enough public radio stations who have Shoutcast (MP3) streams that it’s easy enough to time-shift. But now, bigger changes are comming…beginning August 1st, two new shows and another repeat of “The Bob Edwards Show.”

Don’t get me wrong, the more Edwards the better, but if I understood the promo, the original run at 8:00 am EDT will be followed by two re-airs, at 9:00 am EDT as running now, and another repeat at 10:00 am EDT. This apparently doesn’t affect the 9:00 pm EDT run.

And two shows are being added; “The Tavis Smiley Show” and “Open Source,” hosted by former “The Connection” host, Christopher Lydon.

I have no idea what schedule we’re looking at, but I’m guessing “Smiley” at 11:00 am EDT and “Open Source” sometime in the evening, replacing the “AIH” lost hour (time now filled by a repeat of “On Point”).

Change can be good…but we’ll have to wait until next week to see if this one is…

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XM Listeners Should Listen to Today’s Bob Edwards Show…

Filed under: Old-Time Radio — Charlie Summers @ 9:19 am

Talk about the show on

…Bob provides a ten-minute preview of tomorrow’s hour-long interview with Norman Corwin, including snippets from “On a Note of Triumph” and other Corwin programs.

If you can’t catch the rebroadcast this evening at 9:00pm edt, 6:00pm pdt, you can listen to the show looped all day long at XM Radio Online.

And, of course, tomorrow morning at 8:00am edt, 5:00 pdt you can hear the complete interview.

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Use a Smiley? Pay Microsoft First…

Filed under: News — Charlie Summers @ 12:17 pm

From ZDNet UK News: Various organisations have criticised Microsoft for attempting to patent the creation of custom emoticons.
Microsoft frowned at for smiley patent

So now Microsoft wants to patent smileys, eh? What’s next…the English language?

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Protected: What a Deal for OTR Digest Readers!

Filed under: General, Old-Time Radio, Radio Today — Charlie Summers @ 6:14 pm

This post is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

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Goodbye, Scotty…

Filed under: Television — Charlie Summers @ 11:53 pm

From The New York Times: James Doohan, who faked a Scottish burr to create one of television’s most endearing characters, Chief Engineer Montgomery (Scotty) Scott of the U.S.S. Enterprise, died today at the age of 85.
James Doohan, Scotty on ‘Star Trek,’ Dies at 85

Thank you…for everything.

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I just keep falling behind…

Filed under: General — Charlie Summers @ 1:23 pm

I really need to apologize; I have a boatload of pilot reviews to get finished and posted, some comments about some cool Old-Time Radio I’ve been listening to, and even a posting about a company (or at least a local store) that actually does know the meaning of “service” (I mean, as much as I whine about companies who don’t, it’s a joy to find one who does, you know?) as well as a warning about one outfit that doesn’t even take its own coupons. But this annoying illness (and the almost expected mixups at the various medical institutions, which are also getting pretty old) is keeping me from getting everything done I need to…heavens, it was only yesterday that I got my daughter’s easy-set pool (you know, one of those pools with the inflatable rim you see sold everywhere, including grocery stores?) up and filled in the back yard…I mean, it’s the middle of July, and I’m only now getting the poor kid’s summer “cooling aid” together.

And then, battling scum who want to abuse the blog isn’t helping much. It infuriates me that I spent two hours yesterday morning dealing with the nonsense here…two hours that could have been spent more productively working on something on my ever-enlarging list.

So forgive me, and know I’m trying to catch up with the millions of things I have let go by-the-boards while I put up with this bothersome illness.

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Thank Heavens, Bob’s Back!

Filed under: Radio Today — Charlie Summers @ 6:02 pm

Tomorrow morning, Bob Edwards returns to XM Satellite Radio with a new show. It isn’t that the last two weeks have been terrible, many of the interviews were worth hearing again (with maybe one exception…). But even with missing David Broder (he’s off tomorrow, Doyle McManus steps in), it’ll be good to get a fresh set of interviews tomorrow morning.

Word is there’ll be no “August Recess” the way there was back in the days of Morning Edition, so we’ll be getting fresh Bob Edwards Shows straight through. (And thank heavens for that…back in 2003, the guy took off August and the idiots at NPR tested out that terrible-sounding nonsense they now inflict on the part of the nation that hasn’t made the move to XMPR…pity those poor people having to deal with local-TV-station levels of “happy talk” and other nonsense, instead of getting the news from the BBC World Service, and the required morning dose of Bob Edwards…)

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Please be a little careful…

Filed under: General — Charlie Summers @ 5:51 pm

An open letter to my readers:

I love that you are here, and I love when you post comments to me, even when I disagree. But I hate blog comment spammers, who are using both comments and trackbacks to advertise their scam card-playing sites, on-line scam pharmacies, or porn websites. I mean, really…I work hard to keep the websites and mailing lists running, and the last thing I need is to manually delete literally hundreds of zombie-generated scam comments and trackbacks for these places. For the last few days, this blog (along with hundreds or thousands of others, I’m sure) has been rocked by these scam artists. (From yesterday afternoon to this afternoon, there have been almost FIVE HUNDRED AND FORTY attempts to post a comment or trackback to the blog promoting one or another of these scams, all from apparently-hijacked machines. A mildly sanitized version of the log from the last two days can be found here so you can, if you wish, see what I need to put up with.)

A while back, these slime forced me to mindly change the way the blog works, and place trackbacks into the approval queue instead of allowing them automatically (who the heck ever heard of approving trackbacks before these morons started attacking us?). It’s a d*mned shame, but at least it keeps me from having to do massive cleanup after one of these sleazeballs attacks the blog…the only one who is inconvenienced is me, gentle reader, and you never have to deal with it.

I have also added programming which parses (the computer “reads”) each comment entry…if it contains certain key phrases or in some cases even words, it is immediately rejected and dropped before entering the comment database. This saves me considerable time, because deleting hundreds of comments manually can take hours (and doing a mass-delete within MySQL runs the risk of deleting any legitimate comments which might have been entered during the attack, although any posted today are, I’m afraid, screwed, since I don’t have the time to go through the massive attack one trackback at a time…).

Problem is, because the slime gets cuter in their tactics, even though with the approval system for trackbacks they can not win, I find myself having to be more and more relaxed in what the system parses for to save me the work of having to remove them once they enter the database…and this runs the risk of having an innocent human get rejected with the same obscene comment I reserve for the scammers.

So if you received this comment while innocently mentioning, say, a certain card game with five or seven cards usually played for chips if not cold hard cash, please forgive me for the necessity of doing what I do to save myself, and you, from having to deal with the scum of the Internet. Please accept my sincere apologies, and try not to refer to certain male-enhancement drugs in a repost of your much-appreciated comments.

And if you want to see what the spammers get, and promise not to be shocked by seriously harsh language, please feel free to place in your comment the following:


…and you can see what the automated systems receive. (I can only hope there is a special place in hell reserved for slime who believe its a good idea to abuse someone else’s resources and time to advertise their probably-illegal wares…think about it, they steal computer time from the zombied machines to send trackbacks to a blog they don’t own, all in the hope of getting one sucker to give them a credit card number they can use to steal an identity. Boggles the mind, doesn’t it?)

Update July 17, 2005: The total phony trackbacks/comment posts for last week I needed to get rid of is 1,260. So far today (it’s around 12:30pm as I write this), I’ve had 124. And you wonder why those of us who run blogs seriously consider dropping comments/trackbacks completely?

Update July 17, 2005: By 11:54pm the number of attempts for today has hit 379. I renamed the trackback file yet again, which means the moron is getting 404 errors instead of getting anywhere near my anti-scum routines, but this brings up an interesting point I completely forgot about…since these morons are attaching directly to my trackback PHP file, and since I renamed it a while ago from the name usually given to that file in a standard install of Wordpress, that means these slime have programmed into their zombies information specific to this blog.

I expect them to catch onto the name change relatively quickly (hum…I should have the system email me immediately when the “new” name is POSTed to the first time), but it should be interesting to see how fast they can react to changes. It occured to me to write a painfully small shell script that renames the trackback PHP file, makes the corrections the required places through Wordpress, and handles the other required changes as well, allowing me to change the name of the trackback file literally moments from the time these slimeballs re-attach to the correct file. If, as I suspect, they really are programming specifically for this blog, it should be interesting to find out how much work they are willing to do to get around this…or whether they’ll have the sense to go find someone else to pick on, someone who doesn’t cost them so much time and energy, someone using the “usual” Wordpress plugins and not rewriting code on-the-fly. (Hum…I wonder what would happen if I changed the name automatically every time a trackback was entered?)

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Kinda looking forward to tomorrow…

Filed under: News, Radio Today — Charlie Summers @ 12:37 pm

XMPR (XM Satellite Radio’s Public Radio channel, 133) is going to report live tomorrow from the Kennedy Space Center on the launch of the space shuttle Discovery.

What I dearly love about XMPR is its overreach…it reminds me of what terrestrial public radio stations used to be before they became complacent and decided to allow NPR to dictate to them what they should and should not cover. Scott Walterman is flying down to Florida to cover the launch - whether it’s dynamite or a comedy of errors, it’s still better than the pablum dished up by NPR.

Of course, any alternative to NPR is, in my opinion, a good thing. But the guts…the chutzpa…this coverage demonstrates tends to give me the idea that commercial public radio may be the last vestage of what made public radio great…and so I strongly believe it’s something valuable to support. Pick up an XM radio (my beloved Roady2 is selling for $50 at various electronic stores and online), subscribe to XM, and support gutsy public radio.

Tell ‘em Charlie sent ‘ya.

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Man charged with stealing Wi-Fi signal

Filed under: News — Charlie Summers @ 9:29 am

From CNN: Police have arrested a man for using someone else’s wireless Internet network in one of the first criminal cases involving this fairly common practice.
Man charged with stealing Wi-Fi signal

Look, people, it’s up to the WiFi network operator to secure his/her system; if you are foolish enough to let everyone and his dog use your Internet, that’s your lookout. (Here, we use MAC filters, only allowing those devices we have manually added to use our router. It’s simple, it works to keep others out, and it allows us to easily add a friend who visits with a laptop.)

If Dinon took all of three minutes to likewise secure his WiFi signal, or hired someone to do the same, Smith would have been screwed. Instead, this idiot calls the cops.

Gotta really hate what this world is coming to…no one ever takes responsibility for their own screwups.

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For those of you who think I’m an unabashed Bob Edwards booster…

Filed under: General, Radio Today — Charlie Summers @ 5:38 am

…well, ok, most of the time, I cheerfully admit I am. But today (Friday) is the first day since last October that I won’t be listening to the show.

See, he’s running a “Best of Bob” (or BOB, as I refer to them). That’s not normally a problem, since hearing interviews once again is usually a welcomed occurance. But today, for some inexplicable reason, they have chosen to re-run the February interview with Dan Messe and Sally Ellyson, members of the alt-country octet “Hem.” This was the first and so-far-only time I couldn’t bring myself to listen to the 9:00 AM rebroadcast…their music is juvenile, ostentatious, and uninspiring, and their giggling through the interview made me, for the first time since October’s premier, gnash my teeth in anguish. I remember feeling sorry for Edwards, even though he actually seemed to be enjoying the childish banality of these two annoying people. I remember them spending what seemed like hours making jokes about the band’s name, while I wondered if they had anything to say worthwhile to hear. I had to switch to the BBC World Service at the end of the main broadcast to keep from slitting my wrists should I hear the reair. So tomorrow, for the first time since October, I’ll be checking out of the show (ok, ok, so maybe I’ll listen to the opening and closing, just in case there’s something interesting added to the envelope - but you simply can’t make me listen to the meat of that show).

And I don’t get it; the same week this interview was originally broadcast Bob talked to humorist Roy Blount, Jr. (heard frequently on Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me) and legendary gospel singer Mavis Staples; and talk about timely, he also talked to Mark Tushnet about his book, “A Court Divided: The Rehnquist Court and the Future of Constitutional Law .” With all of that, who in heaven’s name thought the HEM interview was worthy of a repeat? (I suppose I should be greatful they didn’t chose the interview with the endlessly self-promoting-yet-untalented Joe Bevilacqua, although at least that was only a partial show and was handily redeemed by the conversation with P.G. Wodehouse biographer Robert McCrumb. The HEM interview is the entire, head-slamming, wrist-gnawing, bloddy hour.)

I remember the first time this was broadcast, Bob said, “HEM is here; listen to them. Maybe you’ll like them.” More likely you’ll despise them…and yourself, for wasting the hour of your life you’ll never get back.

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