Nostalgic Rumblings
The Ramblings of an Old Man




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9/30/2006


High-tech analysis may rewrite space history

Filed under: News — Charlie Summers @ 11:08 am

From The Houston Chronicle: High-tech analysis may rewrite space history

From the article: “Astronaut Neil Armstrong’s first words from the surface of the moon on July 20, 1969, now can be confidently recast, according to the research, as, ‘That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.’”

What a difference…an “a” makes…

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9/29/2006


Schoolboy lands lunch date with beauty queen

Filed under: News — Charlie Summers @ 10:58 am

From CNN: Schoolboy lands lunch date with beauty queen

Seriously, you need to aim high.

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9/28/2006


Bob Newhart as…Richard Pryor?

Filed under: Television, Radio Today — Charlie Summers @ 10:03 am

We all know Newhart is a pioneer stand-up, but who knew he could do impressions? If you subscribe to XM Satellite Radio, check out The Bob Edwards Show this evening (5:00 pm in the West, 8:00 pm in the East); Newhart does a drop-dead funny impression of Richard Pryor, explaining how Pryor finally paid for the album he appropriated…

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9/27/2006


Hubble’s key camera shuts down again

Filed under: News — Charlie Summers @ 10:11 am

From New Scientist Space: Hubble’s key camera shuts down again

From the article: “The Hubble Space Telescope’s most frequently used instrument, the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS), has shut down unexpectedly. Hubble’s managers are still investigating the problem, but they are optimistic that they will be able to use the camera again soon.”

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9/26/2006


Dog starts car after eating chip

Filed under: News — Charlie Summers @ 11:40 pm

From the BBC: Dog starts car after eating chip

From the article: “It is the first time that I have had to get a dog to help me to start a car.”

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9/25/2006


Experts believe the future will be like Sci-Fi movies

Filed under: News — Charlie Summers @ 10:53 am

Experts believe the future will be like Sci-Fi movies

From the article: “The highly speculative scenarios presented to respondents are all vaguely reminiscent of various themes commonly found in contemporary science fiction. From artificial intelligences dominating humanity to disgruntled Luddites engaging in violence, the poll looks more like an abandoned script by Michael Piller than a serious exploration of the future. Let’s examine some of the more colorful quandaries, and see how many of the concepts have been prominently featured in Star Trek…”

I can’t help it…Zager and Evans keep running through my head…

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9/24/2006


How did the chicken cross the road? With four legs

Filed under: News — Charlie Summers @ 11:35 am

From CNN: How did the chicken cross the road? With four legs

Ok, it’s a silly story, but it amused me: “Henrietta the chicken was living inconspicuously among 36,000 other birds at Brendle Farms for 18 months — until a foreman noticed she had four legs.”

Yes, there’s a photo on the CNN site.

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9/23/2006


Man who shouted ‘Tequila!’ in song dies

Filed under: News — Charlie Summers @ 6:00 pm

From USA Today: Man who shouted ‘Tequila!’ in song dies

Danny Flores, who played the saxophone and shouted the word “tequila!” in the 1950s hit song Tequila!, has died. He was 77.

I include this primarily because I don’t think I’ll ever again be able to include such an…interestingy-titled news report.

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9/22/2006


Pizza delivery drivers form union at Florida Domino’s

Filed under: News — Charlie Summers @ 10:07 pm

From CNN: Pizza delivery drivers form union at Florida Domino’s

“I’m sorry, sir, you’ll have to pick up your pizza…our delivery guys are on strike.”

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9/21/2006


No hugs or kisses: Panda, man exchange bites

Filed under: News — Charlie Summers @ 11:12 pm

From CNN: No hugs or kisses: Panda, man exchange bites

From the article: “A drunken Chinese tourist bit a panda at the Beijing Zoo after the animal attacked him when he jumped into the enclosure and tried to hug it, state media said Wednesday.”

Knucklehead. And I don’t mean the panda.

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9/20/2006


Gunsmoke - The Cabin

Filed under: Old-Time Radio — Charlie Summers @ 12:58 am

This episode of Gunsmoke aired on December 27, 1952, and is being posted because this particular episode was requested on the Internet OTR Digest.

Warning: I did not encode this file; while listenable, it is pretty poor quality (it is 32kbps, but it was sampled at only 16K instead of the standard 22k and trust me, that shows - doesn’t sound like a great-quality original analog copy, either), but it’s the only copy I currently have; if you have a better copy, please drop me a note via the “Contact the Webmaster” button over there on the sidebar so I can upgrade the show for our podcast subscribers. Again, it is posted here because it was requested on the Digest, not because it is of a high quality.

(As most of you know, the easiest way to download the file to your hard drive is to right-click for Windows users, or click-and-hold for Mac users, the “Download” link below. Or use the built-in player to listen to the file right here.)

icon for podpress  Gunsmoke - The Cabin [27:16m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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9/19/2006


Mid Atlantic Nostalgia Convention Wrapup

Filed under: General, Television — Charlie Summers @ 2:42 pm

As some of you know, I was fortunate enough to direct the Mid Atlantic Nostalgia Convention’s Sunday after-dinner production of X Minus One - Shipshape Home, adapted by Martin Grams, Jr. from a short story by Richard Matheson. The cast included Marta Kristen (Judy Robinson, Lost in Space), Lana Wood (Plenty O’Toole, Diamonds are Forever), Richard Herd (V, Star Trek: Voyager, and many many other guest star roles), and in the male lead role, the author. Sound effects were provided by Ann and Katherine Summers…yes, the Mrs. and daughter handled sound effects with amazing professionalism, considering it was their first performance.

Because I was otherwise occupied, I couldn’t take the photos I usually do; our good friend Ken Stockinger took over the camera, but I haven’t unpacked the thing yet (sorry, Ken, I’ll get to it, I promise - there’s still stuff in the car from the convention!). I did, however, mark my script with a few notations where the actors were handling things without sfx or transitions, so I could snap a few quick pics on my camera phone:

 
 
Sound effects artists Katherine and Ann Summers
 
 
The Cast: Marta Kristen, Martin Grams, Jr., Richard Herd, and Lana Wood
 
 

It was an amazing experience, and I want to again thank the convention organizers as well as the great cast and fine crew for making this production absolutely top-notch. Like I told folks after the performance, I had the easy part…all I had to do was point at people, and amazing things happened!

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9/18/2006


“Murphy Brown” Barkeep Dies

Filed under: Television — Charlie Summers @ 11:44 am

From E! Online: “Murphy Brown” Barkeep Dies

Veteran character actor Pat Corley, best known for playing Phil the barkeep on Murphy Brown, died Monday of congestive heart failure at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He was 76.

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9/17/2006


Notes from MANC…

Filed under: Old-Time Radio, Television — Charlie Summers @ 9:17 am

We’re commuting to the Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention, operated by our good friend Martin Grams, Jr. (he of the bazillion books detailing the history of Old-Time Radio and Television), and so have been pretty busy. I did take a few snapshots, though, and wanted to quickly share a few:

Lana Wood, Conrad Brooks, and unnamed conventioneer (ok, ok, that’s Derek Tague)
At the X Minus One readthrough, Marta Kristen
Richard Herd, at the X Minus One readthrough
Lana Wood, at the X Minus One readthrough

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9/16/2006


Intruder killed by nurse was hit man, police say

Filed under: News — Charlie Summers @ 9:17 am

From CNN: Intruder killed by nurse was hit man, police say

Woman comes home from work, man attacks her with a hammer, and she strangles him in self-defence. But not a burgler, instead the guy was hired by her estranged husband to kill her.

So two thoughts; one, she’s tough, and two, not much of a hit man.

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9/15/2006


Review: Runaway

Filed under: Television — Charlie Summers @ 2:06 am

Ah, out with the old, in with the new. The television season is dead, long live the next television season. And to prepare for it, I’m going to review new shows as the pilots become available.

Runaway; CW, Monday, 9:00 PM

Runaway begins in Illinois, where Paul Rader (Donnie Wahlberg, Boomtown) is dumping his Maryland-plated car into a lake, while Henry (Dustin Milligan, The Days) calls, then hangs up on, someone. As they leave the motel and hit the road they pass a police cruiser flying in the opposite direction, and they hear on the police scanner the APB put out on them, and their Maryland tags. They enter Bridgewater, Iowa, where a new house awaits the “Hollands” - a quick rehearsal in the car, and they take possession.


The Rader…er…the Holland Family has an uncomfortable dinner.

Lily Rader (Leslie Hope, Commander in Chief, 24) tries to make the house a home while needing to destroy the photograph of their old life their son brought with them. She meets the neighbor Bob Sullivan (Chris Potter, Wild Card) while her husband works on his PDA…and begins the flashbacks that begin to explain why the family is on the run. Paul is accused of murdering his mistress, and has been carefully framed to take the fall.

The rest of the pilot deals with how they all came to this, and in true CW fashion, the angst the children are going through. The family needs to constantly rehearse their stories (and the youngest son Tommy, Nathan Gamble, is the weak link), and watch out for the simplest things like a traffic ticket, which forces Lily to adjust the backstory from Philadelphia to New Orleans. The FBI, personified by Angela Huntley (Karen Leblanc, Kevin Hill) is hot on their trail…ok, mostly hot on their trail, once they find the car with information in it leading to the family. There’s a well-crafted yet predictable attempt to capture the family (you know it fails, since if it succeeded it would be a really short series), and there’s the tribulations of fugitive children entering school with the social pressures to fit in and be cool (remember, CW). Speaking of angst, Henry makes a big deal of leaving, but of course returns, during which we find out why the whole family is on the run. His constant need to call his old girlfriend gets really old and strained (and I’m getting really tired of twenty-five-year-olds playing high school students…we ain’t stupid, guys, we can tell the difference between a high school freshman and a college graduate) causing no end of trouble for the family (and you know that new tattoo is going to cause grief by episode six).

Paul finally enters his former mistress’ email account only to receive an ominous warning by IM to stay lost…and the title of the show appears in stark black-and-white signifying the end (wonder where they got that idea?).

I admit I cracked up when he said the computer was untraceable (dude, there ain’t no such thing, trust me). And the flashback scenes with Leslie Hope in long hair are alone worth the price of admission (she has a young Ann-Margret thing going on). There are some interesting bits here, and considerable talent (although Wahlberg’s silent hang-dog character is not going to wear well).

But this show suffers again from the same problem I’ve been warning about…since these guys have no idea where the show is heading, or how long it will be on the air, the mystery can never be solved - even if the show is a hit, it will eventually wear out its welcome as we find out more and more, and the goalposts by necessity get moved farther and farther away. We’re back to the question I ask a lot this season…is there anything pulling you to invest the time into what is essentially a soap opera with no clear ending?

I can’t answer that for anyone but myself; I’ll be watching the first few weeks to see if the writing and plot development is enough to keep me; but if the teenage angst overbalances the adult mystery, I’m outta there.

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9/14/2006


Review: Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

Filed under: Television — Charlie Summers @ 7:55 am

Ah, out with the old, in with the new. The television season is dead, long live the next television season. And to prepare for it, I’m going to review new shows as the pilots become available.

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip; CBS, Monday, 10:00 PM

Sorkin’s back.

For those of us who loved Sports Night, and those of us who despised The West Wing’s last few seasons compared to the wonder years that came before, this show is the perfect combination. It combines the control-room sequences of Sports Night with the “walk-and-talk” dialogs of The (early) West Wing.


Matt and Danny (Matthew Perry and Bradley Whitford) introduce themselves
to the cast and crew.

Backstage at the comedy show Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip after a long establishing shot that shows off the amazing set that was built for this production (and that Saturday Night Live producers can only dream about), the show runner Wes Mendell (Judd Hersh, Numb3rs, Taxi, and for those of us of a certain age, Delvecchio) is ordered by Standards and Practices’ Jerry Jones (Michael Stuhlbarg) to drop the only really funny sketch in the show, one targeting fundamentalist Christians; the show is hardly heating up the Nielsons, so he has no choice but to comply. He’s in a foul mood, and even the beautiful host for this evening’s show, Felicity Huffman (Desperate Housewives, Sports Night) can’t cheer him up.

When he sees the opening sketch, he loses it; live on-air, he chases the actors off, and delivers a soliloquy that would make Paddy Chayefsky proud. He tells the audience to change the channel since the show has been lobotomized…the speech is an indictment of both the networks who pander to the lowest-common-denominator, constantly pushing that level lower and loser, and of the viewing audience who allows it and even demands it. Any paraphrase I might make will not do it justice - watch the show and revile in the beauty of the language, and the delivery. As Jerry demands show director Cal Shanley (Timothy Busfield, The West Wing, and yes, thirtysomething) cut him off and switch to tape, Wes notes that there’s always a tug-of-war between art and commerce, but lately art is getting it’s tail kicked. As Jerry screams, and Cal holds out longer than he should, he finally “goes to VTR” and…the show credits roll - I mean the real credits roll. Class act, that.

After commercial, we meet Jordan McDeere (Amanda Peet, Syriana and for those who were home that week, Jack and Jill) on her first day as the new President of Network Entertainment, attending a dinner party in her honor. She gets a note from her assistant, and immediately all of the cell phones, beepers, and blackberries in the room erupt.

The execs, including Jack Rudolph (Steven Weber, the ill-fated Cursed, Wings) head to the studio, where the following exchange takes place:

Jack Rudolph: Westly…
Wes Mendell: Yeah?
Jack Rudolph: You’re fired.
Wes Mendell: No kidding…

While the network goes into full damage-control mode, Jordan tells Jack he’s trying to fix the wrong problem - everyone is going to say Wes was right, and that’s what needs to be handled; she suggests hiring Matt Albie (Matthew Perry, Friends, The West Wing) and Danny Tripp (Bradley Whitford, The West Wing), who Jack fired years ago.

Matt and Danny, meanwhile, are at the Writers Guild Awards ceremony where Matt is having a little trouble handling his chair, what with all the Vicodin for his back surgery (yes, there’s an inside joke here) and his grief over breaking up with Harriet Hayse, who is a cast-member of Studio 60. Matt wins an award, as Danny is called outside by his business manager Blair (Donna Murphy in a way too-small role; she first got my attention in Murder One, and ever since any time I can watch her work I’m a happy man) about the Studio 60 fiasco.

As you can imagine, the Studio 60 after-show party is an interesting event, and it’s here we meet the “big three” cast members of the show; Simon Stiles (D.L. Hughley, The Hughleys), Harriet Hayes (Sarah Paulson, Deadwood), and Tom Jeter (Nathan Corddry, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart). We find that Harriet is a born-again Christian, who was only offended that she wasn’t in the sketch; they all think the sketch was funnier than anything they’ve performed in years. As they talk, though, they are called back to the studio.

Jordan meets Danny as he’s watching the tape, and offers him the job, letting him know she knows about his failing a drug test which prevents him from directing the feature they planned; Matt doesn’t know, so Danny wants to tell him before she does. When she says she had no intention of telling him,

Danny Tripp:That’s nice, but I have no reason to trust you and every reason not to.
Jordan McDeere: Why?
Danny Tripp: You work in television.

Danny tells Matt they want them to take over the show, and explains how his failed drug test will refuse him a completion bond; Matt figures they’re blackmailing Danny, and takes off to confront the network big-wigs. There is a really funny scene where Matt accuses all of the network execs of it, of course blurting it out to everyone at the same time. (”Sorry about that…that one was all me.”) Matt agrees to take the job after Danny walks out, and he runs into Harriet where the real reason for their breakup is revealed (watch the show) setting up a conflict for future shows.

Matt and Danny have a heart-to-heart in a half-cab on-stage, again a beautiful example of language and delivery, and the boys head out to let the cast know they will, in the words of a P.A., “save them.” The credits roll, the first for the executive producers, Thomas Schlamme and Aaron Sorkin.

Ok, ok, so we all know Danny and Matt are Thomas and Aaron; that whole thing has been done to death…if you haven’t heard it, do a search on Google News. But these guys not only have the chops to do this show, they have the inside knowledge, a healthy disdain for the industry, and most importantly of all, the ability to draft the most beautiful language since Shakespeare, and present it using stylistic yet accessible visuals. I’m pretty sure you’re not going to read another review this season as enthusiastic as this one - after watching this pilot, I am an unabashed fan.

Seriously, watch this show. Enjoy smart, sophisticated, and intelligent entertainment for a change. Wes would be thrilled.

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9/13/2006


Time for an intervention…

Filed under: General — Charlie Summers @ 11:51 pm

We went again this evening to the York Interstate Fair (we were there last Sunday as well…I gotta post a few of the pics one of these days real soon), and ate something that is so decadent it requires an intervention:

What you are looking at is five Oreo cookies, battered in the same batter used for funnel cakes (check Google if you don’t know what that is), then deep fried to a golden brown and covered with confectioner’s sugar.

Apparently Oreos don’t have enough fat or calories alone…we need to dunk the darned things into hot oil and then smother them in sugar.

(Yes, it was quite tasty, but one was way more than enough, even for the Katester who never tires of sugar. And this thing really needed a glass of milk…)

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EFF publishes search privacy tips

Filed under: News — Charlie Summers @ 11:26 am

From Ars Technica: EFF publishes search privacy tips

From the article: “None of the EFF’s recommendations struck me as particularly novel, but it’s a good guess that there are a lot of people out there that simply don’t think about these things. It’s unfortunate, however, that many of the people that would really benefit from this guide might not even know that the EFF’s web site exists.”

So we do our small part to point folks to the EFF article, Six Tips to Protect Your Online Search Privacy.

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9/12/2006


Big Viagra Spammer Under Investigation Down Under

Filed under: News — Charlie Summers @ 1:21 pm

From TechWeb:Big Viagra Spammer Under Investigation Down Under

From the article: “Australian authorities said Tuesday they had seized the computer of a man suspected of sending more than 2 billion spam e-mails touting the male enhancement drug Viagra.”

It won’t stop ‘em, but maybe of some of these spammers had to marry a roommate knickamed “The Crusher,” there’d be less of it…

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