Nostalgic Rumblings
The Ramblings of an Old Man

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January 2008
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I hate computers…

Filed under: General — Charlie Summers @ 10:09 am

So last night I started the main Windows machine processing a video (my main Windows machine isn’t top-of-the-line, so it takes quite a while to process these video files I’m working on), and it had just started working on a cut with Terry Salmonoson (he of Audio Classics and leading historian on all things Trendle) when the machine shut down, with a somewhat acrid smell. Looks like the power supply went down (haven’t had time to check it yet, with Katie having a bug and all just checked it, and yep, “It’s dead, Jim”) which means I’m cramped until tonight or tomorrow when I can get out to pick up another one. Fortunately, I have a linux box running strong as well as the secondary Windows machine I’m on now (thanks once again, Martin, for saving my bacon) and in a pinch Annie’s portable so I can get something done today.

Now, please don’t misunderstand me…I don’t mean to blame Mr. Salmonoson. I’m certain it was just a coincidence it died processing his segment, even though it had no problem whatsoever processing segments hosted by Derek Tague. I’m absolutely certain there wasn’t anything about the specific video that caused my machine’s power supply to give it’s life to protect the processor.

But just in case, stop by his website and buy an OTR disc or two. If you do, maybe next year my machine won’t have to die.

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Empire Builders - Montana Snow/Charlie’s Flue

Filed under: Old-Time Radio — Charlie Summers @ 4:50 pm

As recently discussed on the Internet OTR Digest, here is one of the nine surviving episodes of Empire Builders, sponsored by the Great Northern Railroad and according to Elizabeth McLeod’s Documenting Early Radio page, discovered in the mid-1980s in their corporate archives. This episode, “Montana Snow/Charlie’s Flue,” aired January 12, 1931.

Our thanks to both Ken Stockinger and Jim Widner for providing the copies of these historical programs for the podcast!

icon for podpress  Empire Builders - Montana Snow/Charlie's Flue [29:39m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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We lost our little buddy this morning…

Filed under: General — Charlie Summers @ 3:42 pm

It always amazes me how attached we get to animals…while we use them mostly for food, we still end up becoming extraordinarily attached when it comes to our pets. And early this morning we lost our little buddy. His name was J.B., which contrary to those who believe it had something to do with Jim Beam, was short for “Jungle Beast,” front part “Fierce.” He received that name, if I remember correctly, the first time he ran in terror from a spider in the bathroom.

Little sucker was, at least seemingly, fine until last Monday. While he did have a bout of something last month that resolved quickly, he’d been “normal” (assuming that word can ever be used about a cat) until then. Granted, he didn’t chase Martians as often as he used to, but then he was getting up there, and like me not quite as active as he was a decade ago. More, including the obligatory photos, after the jump.

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Another trip to Politics and Prose…

Filed under: General, News, Radio Today — Charlie Summers @ 11:34 am

I played hooky again yesterday…and believe me, it takes something to get me out of my bunny slippers and on the road for a four-hour drive. But yesterday, instead of working, I took a drive to my favorite inside-the-beltway coffee shop…er…bookstore (hey, there’s very little more relaxing than sitting downstairs sipping the perfect cappuccino and smelling all those delightful books right on the other side of the doorway…) Politics and Prose. You should remember this bookstore from my previous visits (I’ve posted about the trip down to see Studs Terkel), and if anything’s changed the coffee is even tastier.

But last night’s visit was to see an institution in journalism, Daniel Schorr. Info, multimedia after the jump.

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Suzanne Pleshette dies at 70

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

From Suzanne Pleshette dies at 70

(*sigh*) I’m surprisingly sad about this…we lost her husband, television comedy pioneer Tom Poston, earlier last year, and now this. Add in the death of Allan Melvin, a solid well-known actor who, while you probably didn’t know his name, you would recognize immediately from his bazillion television character roles starting with The Phil Silvers Show, and you get a bleak time for comedy.

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I am so weary of chain emails…

Filed under: General — Charlie Summers @ 2:18 am

People who should be smart enough not to send chain emails are routinely sending me…yeah, you guessed it, chain emails. I always try to get out ahead of them, usually spending time I don’t have doing the research that the sender should have done, and forwarding links to Snopes, Hoaxbusters (which seems to be down right now), etc. concerning the email to all those in the distribution (which is almost always in the To: field, open for anyone to “Send to All” and discuss the bogus thing yet) asking them not to forward this stuff, but it never works.

Last evening, I received yet-another-copy of the “Immigrants Are Getting Our Social Security!!!!! Sign This Petition Now!!!~!” horsepucky (it’s been running around the net in one form or another for a whole lot of years now), and the forwarder was indignant that I would question the person who sent it to him. No one actually bothers to research these, especially when they say somewhere in them, “Send this to everyone you know!!!” yet in all the years I’ve been using the Internet (and I started using a BITNET gateway long before there was any commercial use permitted) I have only ever seen ONE of these stupid things that had even an ounce of truth to it, and even that one (concerning an IRS rebate of overcharged telephone tax) contained information that was well-covered by every news outlet in the country.

I try to explain to people that forwarding this claptrap is a waste of time for the sender and the recipient, but no one listens. Clearly, I don’t articulate it kindly enough, so let me borrow a paragraph from

There are all sorts of junk e-mails floating around the Internet, but perhaps the most offensive is the junk we send each other: bogus virus warnings, urban legends, offers of easy cash, letters that promise to help sick kids… the list goes on.

Seriously, if you receive an email sent to a distribution list of hundreds, containing more exclamation points than you’ve ever seen before, telling you it’s vital that you send this to everyone you know immediately…DON’T. 99.99% of the time it’s completely bogus, and even if there is a kernel of truth to it, if it’s important the information will be in your local newspaper.

And if you do get the urge to annoy your closest friends and family with it anyway, at least have the decency to do a little research first, so you at least know you’re sending out nonsense. A good place to start in your search is the Top 10 sites to debunk urban legends at TechRepublic, which puts my personal favorite, the above-mentioned at the top of the list.

If it’s a petition, before you blast it out to everyone in site read this article at, which explains in painful detail why these “petitions” are worse than useless, even if you stumble on one that isn’t an outright lie. If it’s a cookie recipe, before mailing it make a batch of the things so you can find out how lousy the d*mned things really are. If it tells you that Bill Gates is going to give you a bazillion dollars if you forward this to everyone in your address book, don’t hit “Send” until you talk to Mr. Gates himself. If it tells you you’ll die by drinking a soda/eating a burger/cancer-causing lipstick/bug larvae on your envelope glue, well…I mean, c’mon, any rational human being should know this is a load of dingo’s kidneys. It seems this junk can only become “real” to us if we receive it via email, since if we heard it spoken we’d all break down in peals of laughter.

And don’t assume because it came from a friend that he knows what he’s talking about. After all, you didn’t check out the last one you forwarded on either, now did you?

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Bing Crosby Chesterfield Program - December 19, 1951

Filed under: Old-Time Radio — Charlie Summers @ 8:30 pm

Welcome to something of a departure for the podcast, and the perfect example of how somedays it’s really cool being…well…me.

A while ago, I received a webmaster contact form from my website from Craig Rathbun asking about a very specific episode of the Bing Crosby Chesterfield Program, from December 19, 1951 which included Bing reading a poem, “A Korean Christmas Carol,” written by his father. Apparently Der Bingle had provided the family with a disk of the show, but time took its toll on the disk, which was eventually destroyed. Mr, Rathbun asked if I could help him in finding a copy of this program.

Of course, I immediately turned to the folks on the Internet OTR Digest. I was somewhat disheartened to hear from a handful of people who had either the show before it, or the show after it, but not this particular Christmas program. I had just about written off ever finding a copy when I received email from Frank McGurn telling me he not only had a copy, but knew he had recorded it off-air in 1978.

Frank provided me with not only the copy of this program you’re going to hear, but a precise provenance on his recording; it seems that in 1978, Frank had only two sources for Old-Time Radio…one was Chuck Schaden, who was on a number of different radio stations in the Chicago area, and the other a program that originated from a small station in Elgin, IL which, he said, had only enough power to be heard 10 or 12 miles away. The show, “Old Time Radio from the Attic,” was originated by George Barker and taken over at the time of his death in 1978 by a young man out of a community college in the area, who had apparently done some work with Chuck Schaden; a man named Carl Amari. It was from Carl’s program of December 24, 1978 that this recording originated…Frank mentions it is not excellent quality, but it does exist…and in an odd, time-warp sort of way, we have Carl Amari to thank for this podcast.

As I’ve mentioned before, I hate it when the winter holiday season ends, so I hang on to Christmas trees and New Years’ noisemakers much longer than most people do. So I hope you’ll join me in sitting one more time beside the fire, having one more cup of egg nog, and enjoying the music and fun of this program originally broadcast on December 19, 1951 sponsored by Chesterfield Cigarettes, with guests Trudy Erwin and Lindsey Crosby, and including a poem written by Lt. Col. Dareell T. Rathbun of St. Petersberg, Florida.

icon for podpress  Bing Crosby Chesterfield Program - December 19, 1951 [33:30m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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More on Intel Sleeze - Intel ‘undermined’ laptop project

Filed under: News — Charlie Summers @ 11:24 am

From the BBC: Intel ‘undermined’ laptop project

From the article: “‘They would go in even after we had signed contracts and try to persuade government officials to scrap their contract and sign a contract with them instead. That’s not a partnership.’

Mr Negroponte cited an example in Peru where Intel sales staff tried to persuade the country’s vice-minister of education, Oscar Becerra Tresierra, to buy the Intel Classmate PC.

Peru has ordered 270,000 XO laptops from OLPC.

Mr Negroponte said that similar events had happened ‘time and time and time again’.”

And you wonder why I’m becoming an Intel-free shop?

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One Laptop Per Child…

Filed under: General — Charlie Summers @ 12:59 pm

I have strange and interesting clients, who allow me to get involved with strange and interesting things. Ok, ok, most of what I do is set up the same-old-same-old information management databases, but still, my clients are eclectic enough to give me some interesting challenges and opportunities for learning.

A while ago (recently re-aired), 60 Minutes did a profile of Nicholas Negroponte and the organization he created, The One Laptop Per Child Foundation. Shortly thereafter, one of my clients, participating in the “GiveOneGetOne” program, purchased a laptop for a child in one of the countries services by OLPC, and received one himself, which is being sent by him to a child in China. He asked me to look it over, and make certain the machine was upgraded to the latest release version of the software. Story and photos after the jump…

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The Mercury Theater on the Air — Treasure Island

Filed under: Old-Time Radio — Charlie Summers @ 2:41 pm

A bit ago on the Internet OTR Digest, a subscriber asked who Arthur Anderson is. While I explained on the Digest that he was a long-time castmember of “Let’s Pretend” and the author of the BearManor Media book on the series, the voice of the Lucky Charms Leprechaun for decades, and a great friend to the Friends of Old-Time Radio Convention, I also referenced this Mercury Theater on the Air program. This show not only has a fourteen-year-old Arthur in the starring role of Jim Hawkins, Jr., it also ran a little short, forcing Orson Welles to vamp a bit, and in doing so tell the story of how Arthur, playing with the sprinkler system, managed to make it rain during a stage performance of Julius Caesar.

This excellent low-bandwidth copy of the program came from Terry Salomonson, who has this program and many many others available on Audio CD in excellent quality at his website. When you visit, tell him Charlie sent’cha, and enjoy this second Mercury Theater on the Air performance of July 18, 1938, with Orson Welles, George Coulouris, Eustice Wyatt, Ray Collins, Agnes Moorehead, announcer Dan Seymour, and my friend Arthur Anderson in Treasure Island.

icon for podpress  The Mercury Theater on the Air -- Treasure Island [62:07m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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Empire Builders - Bert Pond, Worrier and Baby

Filed under: Old-Time Radio — Charlie Summers @ 4:50 pm

As recently discussed on the Internet OTR Digest, here is one of the nine surviving episodes of Empire Builders, sponsored by the Great Northern Railroad and according to Elizabeth McLeod’s Documenting Early Radio page, discovered in the mid-1980s in their corporate archives. This episode, “Bert Pond, Worrier and Baby,” aired January 5, 1931.

Our thanks to both Ken Stockinger and Jim Widner for providing the copies of these historical programs for the podcast!

icon for podpress  Empire Builders - Bert Pond, Worrier and Baby [29:15m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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I hate January 2nd…

Filed under: General — Charlie Summers @ 9:54 am

I know I’ve whined in this space before about this, but I really hate the end of the winter holiday season. I’m not ready yet to give up on Christmas Magic, there’s too much of it to lose. I don’t want to stop greeting strangers with a smile and a, “Happy New Year!” even if it is after the first of the year. I’m just not ready to trade in the happiness and relaxed joy of the season for the stress and bother of all the rest of the year.

Heck, this year it seemed everyone was ready to pitch the season before it was finished. By December 26th, Valentines’ Day had taken over from Christmas and New Years in the stores…trying to find egg nog in my area now is neigh-on impossible. It’s almost as if we’re being forced to spend a month getting ready, a day getting it done, and then *poof* we’re off to the next thing.

When I was a boy, “Christmas” was a week long celebration of family and friends; it was the only time of the year my parents would bring out the liquor, and every night either we were going to some friends’ home, or someone was coming to visit us.

Now it seems we’re “required” to cram everything into one day, and then get on with our lives. Me, I’m not ready…heck, one week isn’t enough to satisfy my need for this season. So while I plan on hitting the work full-out (indeed, I’m hoping to get a new program on the podcast later today), our tree is still up, there are still presents under it, and I’m going to enjoy the dregs of the egg nog as long as it holds out. Darnitall, I can be a curmudgeon the rest of the year, I’m hanging on to the good feelings of the winter holiday season as long as I can, and probably just a little longer. You all are welcomed to move on to Valentine’s Day, I’m sticking with, “Happy New Year!”

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