Just here for the old music clips? Go here.

Finally: steamy. Soupy. Sodden air that holds the heat. Everything that came before is forgotten and forgiven.

When you do it in that order, it’s easier.

Last night we lost power for a couple of hours. The lights went off, then came back for a second then went off again, something that made me think of the last moments of the Titanic, except for the water - sinking - freezing death part. I sprang into action, having gotten a battery backup for the computer a few days ago, and having just got a big box of D-cell batteries for all the emergency lights. Prepared! Except I hadn’t set up the battery backup yet. You have to set it up, I guess. It’s not enough to charge the thing; it must be integrated to your computer with an Ethernet cord and software must be running. But the battery was charged, so I got an extension cord and hooked it up to the computer. Huzzah: I had power!

Mwah hah hah. Except the thing beeped every few seconds. And then the beeping increased. And then, after six minutes, it shut down. Apparently the point of the battery backup is to let you shut everything down in a civilized fashion, after which NO JUICE FOR YOU. Maybe I’m not doing it correctly. There's a manual. I just don't associate batteries with manuals.

I figured I could live without it and post the Bleat if it came up before 1 AM, so I ventured outside with daughter. She found it spooky and thrilling. Absolute dark and complete silence.

Until I turned on my flashlight, anyway. It reaches the treetops across the street.



Police car approached, slowed; officer said he was looking for a missing girl. Oh great. Parent’s worst nightmare - your kid runs away (which is what she did; not abducted, was late-teen) and then the power dies and there’s nothing your imagination can’t summon. Hope the kid got home.

Ding! Everything sprang back to life ahead of schedule. When I went up to restart the machinery I noticed the wifi router had no lights. It had been plugged into a Surge Protecting powerstrip, but it was fried. Dead. Daughter wails in disbelief - no internet? But I don’t have to go to bed for another five minutes, whatever shall I do? As it happens, the modem is a wifi router as well, so I spent some time setting up a new network, and as a result I removed three cables, two power adapters, and one Ethernet hub from the guts in the desk; since the number of cables decreased, I could plug everything into the modem! Perfect! Elegant! Compact!

Except now there’s no room for the Ethernet cable for . . . the new battery backup.

At which point I stood, made the slapping-of-dust-off-the-palms-of-one’s-hand gesture and said “to hell with this,” and quit for the night. Which means the power will go off tonight as well, and this time it’ll fry something else.

The other thing about the nights sitting outside, writing in the gazebo as I long to do in deepest winter: the bugs are horrible. I don’t mean they’re particularly ugly or terrifying, but some nights I am reminded of the stories about the French attempts to build the Panama Canal, where men would pause from their labors while someone else shaved off a blanket of skeeters from their back with a machete.

They look like this close up, you know.


I’ve been haunting odd corners of the web looking for songs I forgot I forgot. I have a rather substantial collection of 80s music, but it’s all stuff I know. Now and then I remember a cover, but not the band; a band, but not the song. If an album had naught but one song I liked it went to the used-platter store, where the clerk would sniff at your tastes - or, if it was something good, sniff at your willingness to part with it. Never once did I get a nod that said “I understand - NME did sell them as New Wave, and that single wasn’t bad but you can tell the suits’ll make them go in that soft direction.” NEVER.

Then I remembered the Korgis, and looked around for something else, and I swear it’s been almost 30 years and I sung the chorus out loud the first time it played.

Is it a great song? Hardly. But this was modern for the radio in 1980; this was a little bit of the non-top-40 stuff leaking into the mainstream. Although it probably peaked at #273.





Now, the Cues! Do I have to explain? Fine; if you're just joining the Listen project, it includes a selection of music cues gleaned from "The Couple Next Door." Library music the producers dropped in to get them in and out of scenes. It's the background soundtrack for mid-century life. Many more can be found here.


#128 Sauntering along, minding your own business, but the score doesn’t think you should be content as you are.




#129 A pretty girl is like a melody: this is pretty close to Jackie Gleason territory. Just add Bobby Hackett cornet.




# 130 I’ve played this closing stinger before, but this is a better version. You know, sometimes I use snippets of these as ringtones - this would be a great ringtone for the end of a good conversation. But we don’t have those.




# 131 Again, perhaps a repeat - it’s the most generic 50s domestic sitcom imaginable, and hence the most perfect. You can just see the Beav coming home from school, running a stick across a picket fence.




# 132 I’ve broached my theory about these existing in different forms, right? Long versions, short versions. This one seems completely self-contained. Purpose: get you from one scene to the next. It’s that uncertain last chord I love, a slightly worried look.




# 133 Part of the suite that runs through the episode: cheerful and efficient




# 134 Another “little of this, little of that” to get your from one scene to the next.




# 135 Listen to the strange little hook at the end; it’s like the composer threw in a little Gershwin on the xylophone, for some reason. Play it again; you’ll hear it.




# 136 This one came out of nowhere. It almost sounds like cartoon music, meant to indicate blinks and cats and machines a momentary lull in the action before someone’s hit on the head. Always that last chord; always.




# 137 And this, too, was a surprise: a big chunk of Busy City.




A fine place to end. Unless you’re wondering which National Jell-O week it is this week.





A column at startribune.com (scroll down to the columnist section) and other things here and there! Have a grand weekend, and I'll see you around.

Oh, an update in the Ephemeratorium. Enjoy!



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