Nostalgic Rumblings
The Ramblings of an Old Man

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December 2005
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Harry Shearer on The Bob Edwards Show

Filed under: Old-Time Radio, Radio Today — Charlie Summers @ 12:16 pm

Tomorrow’s edition of The Bob Edwards Show is a replay of his June interview with Harry Shearer, voice talent extrordinare and member of that famed rock group, Spinal Tap. Early in the interview Shearer discusses his early work on radio in The Jack Benny Show, telling some funny stories but always with a sense of reverence and love for everyone on the show.

If you’re new to XM (hopefully, Santa left a radio under your tree), make sure you listen tomorrow, 8 & 9 AM in the east, 7 AM and 5 PM in the west, on XMPR, Channel 133. (And check out the Bob Edwards Show Discussion Forum later to discuss the show!)

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We take pleasure in answering at once and thus prominently…

Filed under: General — Charlie Summers @ 9:39 am

…the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The Sun:

Dear Editor, I am 8 years old.
Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
Papa says “If you see it in The Sun it’s so.”
Please tell me the truth. Is there a Santa Claus?
Virginia O’Hanlon
115 West Ninety-fifth St.

VIRGINIA, Your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, not even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

— Editorial page of the New York Sun, September 21, 1897

From our entire family to yours - Annie, Katie (who knows perfectly well there is a Santa Claus), and yours truly; no matter what you are celebrating at this truly amazing time of the year, Happy Holidays!

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All is not bright in old Md. coal town…

Filed under: News — Charlie Summers @ 9:59 am

From the Boston Globe: All is not bright in old Md. coal town

From the story: “In one last attempt to make a holiday statement, town workers have inflated a large green Grinch, the famous Christmas-hating character created by Dr. Seuss.” Let’s all tell Verizon and Allegheny Power to jump in a lake.

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Write, Call, or Email Your Local Public Radio Station…

Filed under: Radio Today — Charlie Summers @ 12:14 am

Talk about the show on

…and ask them to air PRI’s Bob Edwards Weekend when it premiers next month. Remind them that this may, in some small way, make up for their complete lack of support when the….stripes at NPR decided to screw up our mornings by removing him from Morning Edition.

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Beagle 2 probe ‘found’ on Mars

Filed under: News — Charlie Summers @ 3:10 pm

From CNN: Beagle 2 probe ‘found’ on Mars

What once was lost may now be found. It figures that they can find a missing space probe on a foreign planet, and I can’t find my car keys…

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Brandon’s Supermanhood

Filed under: News — Charlie Summers @ 11:25 am

From The Sun Online: Brandon’s Supermanhood

Hollywood executives have ordered the makers of Superman Returns to cover up the rookie actor’s blockbuster bulge, possibly using CGI effects. Any comment I might make here is superfluous.

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‘West Wing’ Actor John Spencer Dies at 58

Filed under: News — Charlie Summers @ 9:49 pm

From the AP via Yahoo:‘West Wing’ Actor John Spencer Dies at 58

Spencer died of a heart attack after being admitted to a Los Angeles hospital during the night, said his publicist, Ron Hofmann. He would have been 59 on Tuesday.

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A Nightly Visit to Maybeland

Filed under: Old-Time Radio — Charlie Summers @ 12:43 am

I received a map of Maybeland from Dennis Crow, someone who supports the Internet OTR Digest almost as much as he supports Paddy O’Cinnamon, The Cinnamon Bear. Dennis knows my family has, for quite a few years now, spent a few minutes each evening around this time of year visiting with Judy, Jimmy, and Paddy in Maybeland, following their adventures as they search desperately for the Silver Star, which is needed for the top of the Barton’s Christmas Tree.

Being pretty sure the map wasn’t meant for me, I gave it to my seven-year-old daughter (after misplacing the thing for at least a week’s worth of episodes), who promptly grabbed her crayon box and colored in the places she remembers so well.

I don’t know if I’ve ever described the ritual we perform evenings at this time of year; we all gather in Katie’s room (including the cat most evenings), bringing in a bag of hard candy as a snack, and while Katie and Annie snuggle in her bed (especially when the Inkaboos are up to no good) I sit on the floor next to the bed, not wanting to be too far away from that bag of candy - think of me as an honorary Candy Pirate. We turn out the lights, and I start the adventure on my office computer, which is transmitted to the radio in Katie’s room.

This year, there’s been an interesting wrinkle in the routine; now whenever our heroes enter a new place, a small flashlight suddenly lights above me on the bed, and with a rustle of paper she’s checking out where they’re at, and how they got there. Tonight I had borrowed the map to stick it in the scanner and forgot to replace it in her room; when tonight’s episode started, there was a quiet cry of, “Daddy…where’s my map?!”

While I’m hoping Judy and Jimmy find the silver star, I’m hoping they don’t find it too soon. And while I know she’s growing up, gaining and losing teeth, learning things in school, outgrowing her clothing every other week, and getting older and wiser, I really hope she doesn’t grow up too fast…I don’t want her to lose the awe and wonder of her love for the four-inch-high bear with the green ribbon, not for a long time. I really like seeing Maybeland through her eyes…and her crayons.

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All I Want for Christmas Is An XM Repeater…

Filed under: General, Radio Today — Charlie Summers @ 12:19 pm

Dear Santa (a.k.a. Hugh Panero);

I’m a little ticked off at you. I pay for three XM radios (my Tao XM2Go, my wife’s Roady2, and my parents’ Audiovox XR9), and we all enjoy the heck out of ‘em. I originally bought the Roady2 last year (for $129, by the way) when you had the sense to hire Bob Edwards after he was unceremoniously dumped by the pinstripes at NPR, but I’ve grown to love more than just XMPR, Channel 133. But we have to talk about the whole repeater thing…

When I walk in downtown York, PA I get a terrestrial signal everywhere. I mean everywhere; in the coffee shop, in the big stone Post Office, everywhere I’ve gone down there I get three bars on my Tao with it just hanging on my waist; no external antenna, no aiming the unit, no work at all. Never a drop-out downtown.

When I walk around my parents’ home in the north/west end of town, I get a terrestrial signal almost everywhere. Admittedly, it’s only one-or-two bars, and I sometimes get a dropout, but that’s pretty rare so long as I hold the Tao instead of dropping it in a pocket. Their new Jensen boombox gets four terrestrial bars inside their house.

When I take my daughter to her swimming lesson at the Dallastown Area High School, which so you know was built in a bloody cow pasture, I get one bar terrestrial, and so long as I don’t go into the building can listen to XM without pointing the Tao to the sky.

When I walk in my populated neighborhood in the suburbs in the south end of town, I get bupkis. Nuthin’. Nada. Zip. Nought. Nil.

Now we have a really, really big tower right up the hill from my house, one with cell antenna, microwave repeaters, and tv antennas on it (it’s the transmitter tower for WPMT, and receiving antennas for CATV of York). one more little antenna wouldn’t be noticed, honest…

So please, Santa…you have XM repeaters all around me. For Christmas, I want one more, right up the hill so I don’t have to drive so far just to take my daily walks. And if they won’t let you put it there, let me know…I have space in my back yard you’re welcomed to use…

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So I’m eavesdropping on a party on the other side of the country…

Filed under: General — Charlie Summers @ 7:52 pm

I’m sitting here working on some upcoming web-goodies, munching on some cookies my wife and daughter baked earlier today, and at the same time through the miracle of the Internet, I’m eavesdropping on a party some friends are having quite literally on the other side of the country. It’s a little voyeuristic, but at least when the partygoers spill egg nog (as someone just did), I don’t have to leap up with paper towels.

Yes, of course they know I’m listening; I’m not that sleazy. I don’t even want to explain how many different technologies are at play to get the audio from there to my home, but I have to admit it’s part really cool, and a tiny part creepy since it’s pretty clear they easily forget about the few of us on the listening end…

But they sure sound like they’re having a good time. Lemme get another cookie so I can vicariously join in…

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Comedian Richard Pryor dies at 65

Filed under: Television, News — Charlie Summers @ 5:11 pm

From CNN: Groundbreaking Comedian Richard Pryor died Saturday of a heart attack, his wife told CNN. He was 65.

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Ok, time to get off the dime…

Filed under: General — Charlie Summers @ 1:25 am

I spent some more time today tweaking the new blog software a bit…it’s actually harder than it looks to get the blog to appear minimalist and functional instead of over-designed (the software wants desperately to use CSS to control font and size, where I still believe the whole point of the World Wide Web is to allow the client to control the display elements - go ahead, use your browser preferences to make the font bigger if you’re as old as I am), but thanks to the abstraction I didn’t need to rewrite core files the way I did in the older version, which is pretty cool, I guess.

So now I need to get off the dime and actually post - I still have the photos from the Friends of Old-Time Radio Convention to get posted, I should probably be commenting on The Cinnamon Bear (well, it is that time of year, after all), and certainly there are things out there that annoy me enough to post here.

Of course, I still need to update the software that handles the Nostalgia Pages Phorums (which is going to be another interesting adventure, since that software is older than god, too, yet I’m determined not to lose any of the existing messages)…but that can wait until I’ve caught up a little here.

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Only a Mildly Bloody Upgrade…

Filed under: General — Charlie Summers @ 10:36 pm

I’d appreciate it if you would report anything you find “broken” on the blog here; I’ve completed a software upgrade this evening (which actually went a bit smoother than I expected, frankly, but still), and there are no guarantees I didn’t smash something in the process. Since the version I was using was wildly outdated, it was a two-step upgrade; I performed it on an external site and then moved it in, so there should have been little disruption.

The main reason I needed to do this — seems some Italian snot decided to exploit a hole in the old software to install an IRC server, which for a few days was stealing my bandwidth serving up illegal movies which (based on the titles) appeared to be Italian dubs. Thanks to my hosting provider, I was able to not only deal with the illegal server, but temporarily fix the flaw until I was able to devote the time to making the upgrade.

I should probably mention here that comment posting, because of the slime that so constantly promote their scam wares, now requires registering for a free account here on the blog. I’m really sorry to have to do this, but they leave me no choice. (*sigh*) I am curious to know how well this version of the software works in eliminating the comment, pingback, and trackback spam I get so much of…for the time being, I have not installed my own routines (which I wrote for the older version), allowing this software to handle it on its own. I am, of course, keeping my routines handy just in case this doesn’t do as good a job as it claims.

Again, my apologies for the necessity of registering, but please let me know if there’s anything broken here…

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