Just here for the music cues? I understand. They’re here.

Is there a connection between Star Trek and Dick Powell, star of the Busby Berkeley musicals? Why, yes. Here it is.



More on that later.

More tears this morning as the Japanese Student departed. Her farewell letter had some Pokemon drawn on the front, and I searched the web for the name of the creatures so I could tell her that was an excellent Squirtle or Glowphon or Widlydigit or whatever it was.

I found the name but of course it was the English term; she taught us the proper name, which had a tsu sound. And then a hug and off she went.

The house is back to normal - well, it always was; not like she started fires in her room or was up at 3 AM singing Japanese pop songs. But there’s a remnant presence. The goodbye letter sits on the kitchen table, and I note that wife and daughter have both picked it up and looked at it again a few times. As did I.

It will go in the stack of things that go into the big plastic envelope marked 2013, the edited ephemera of the year, and it will go in a bin in the basement and then it’s time for the next stack, the next bag, the next year. I’ve said it since the bad spring: this year is broken. But at least there are those moments when the hand of the clock feels like a pat on the back. We’ll always remember Ria’s visit. One week, and you know you’ll wonder how they’re doing for the rest of your life.


It will be the same. It will, at times, be different. It will have, for once, a sponsor. I’m going to try some live ones with callers; does Sunday night sound good?

The Diner returns in October, and returns as a weekly feature. I sat down Thursday night and recut the opening - it’s the original FX and theme we used in 1997, and when I listened to it I was right back in that booth with the two count ‘em TWO pots of coffee, one leaded one decaf, the gold-metal ashtray, the boom mike that needed oil, the row of braille-labeled buttons, the red-numbered digital clock, the Dark Chef on the other side of the glass tending the boards, pushing up the levels and grinning: here we go.

A note: I usually work along, with nobody else; you know when I work alone, I prefer to be by myself. To paraphrase a wise man. But the Dark Chef got the concept instantly, and the 50,000 watt consensual hallucination that was the Diner on AM radio wouldn’t have been possible without him. I think we had ten minutes before we went on the first night to discuss the show.

I’ve missed it. Hope you missed it too. More next week

And now, the Song of the Anal-Retentive Computer Archivist. If you have no interest in discussions of the short, unhappy life of hard drives, you can skip right down to LISTEN under the fold.

Dead hard drives now number five. Let this be a lesson, which I don’t expect anyone to follow if you’re not already inclined to back up things six times over. Many years back I bought some hard drives with the unimaginable storage capacity of 1 GB, and filled them up with things. To complicate my life I indexed everything in a disk-catalog program, which guaranteed that the most elemental search results would returning 16 billion useless returns. (Not to bore you with details when I can bore you with generalities, but I have a numbering scheme for my websites that allows me to swap out chunks of one page for another, duplicate pages without rewriting everything - for example, if I have one page for one site that has ban.jpg for the banner, 1.jpg for the graphic, a link to the next page tied to the graphic, and a navigation bar at the bottom that links forward and backward, that page can be used over and over again. If I’ve redone a site with 50 pages, I can duplicate it, drop all 50 html files into another folder, and shazam, the new graphics in the other folders replace the old ones. All I have to do is copy the text from the old site.

Got it? Brilliant! It also means that if I search for 111711.jpg for some reason, I will get an unending amount of hits for 1.jpg.

Now then: the data on the backup disks duplicates the main hard drive, so the number of useless returns is multiplied by the number of backups. Which are plentiful. Then there’s tagging. Don’t ask.

Point is: you have to back up. Backing up has its own problems. But while searching for things is a problem, the good part is that there’s no chance I will lose any data, ever, that’s older that five minutes. Can’t happen. Trust me. This is because hard drives fail. It’s a fact.

Here’s another fun fact: the only hard drives I’ve had fail have been backups.

Thereby mocking the entire enterprise.

Except the drives didn’t fail. The power supply failed. Or some part of the interface. So I hacked the drives, and by “hacked” I mean I stabbed at them with screwdrivers and the claw end of a hammer until I could remove the actual drives. Two are fine, and fit in this shoe that reads naked, all-alone hard drives. The others have a previous interface that time and style have long since left for dead. I can’t throw them away or take them to the recycling center, because I believe that someone at some step in the process would fish it out and reanimate it.

The fault is mine. If I had put on each drive a piece of data that was absolutely critical and not duplicated on any other drive, the drives would be totally unreadable by any means. That’s just how it works.

Let me tell you another funny story. Not ha-ha funny but jab-yourself-in-the-thigh with-an-Exacto-knife funny, which is to say not funny at all. For a while I kept all my movies on hard drives in my old Mac, which has four. Or course, these had to be backed up, which was a pain. So I bought a Network Attached Storage device that had built-in redundancy: if one drive fails, the other steps right up and says “don’t worry, chief! I got this!”

Naturally, I backed up the backups, because. But in a shocking lack of rigor and attention to detail, I let the original Movies folder on the old Mac rot, unbacked up, left as a testament to the moment when I no longer needed it. This meant - yes, all together now - different versions of the folder state, where the “1940s new” folder on one drive is different from the old Mac version.

I made my peace with this.

My joy at getting the Network Attached Storage faded quickly, when the devices refused to be renamed, gave themselves long numerical names, showed up as duplicates with different suffixes (AFP was one, I think, IED the other. No, that’s a bomb.) One of these had a Windows icon and would never show up as anything I could read. Because it was the backup. Fine. I laid out a series of shortcuts to my main computer so I could click on a folder, and the contents of the Network Attached Storage device would appear. All was good.

Except that the shortcuts would delink constantly for no apparent reason. For a year I duly fixed them, cursing, content that at least I had a Network Attached Storage device I could access from other computers in the house, and even use with my TV. (Note: I never did this. What’s on the DVR is a separate universe entirely.) But after fixing the links for the 100th time I shrieked like a gibbon jabbed in the buttocks with a sharp jot poker and went RIGHT ON AMAZON NOW DAMMIT and bought a 3TB drive. All the movies now live there.

So I have three different states for the Movies folder. The original Mac, the NAS, and the new drive. Well, we can solve that by cobbling together some backup scripts that sync everything in the dark of the night. Done and done. Except I forgot to drill down in the option to disable archiving deletions, and because the NAS drives usually ignore permission, some files simply cannot be deleted ever. Oh, I’ve tried. Yes, I’ve gone into Terminal and typed long arcane commands. Nothing. The File Is In Use or I Do Not Have Permission.

I’ve fixed the archive deletion problem, but there will always be four movies I cannot delete. They sit there taking up 4 GB, mocking me. The only way to solve the problem is to wipe the NAS and reload it, which is A) ridiculous, seeing as it’s a drastic way to make sure everything is perfectly synced, and B) requires backing up the current folder state to another loose hard drive AND the old Mac, which destroys that old state I sort of like as a picture in time, and C) will be something I do Saturday evening.

It was easier when “Movies” were something shown in the building downtown and after you saw it, that was it.



Now, the Cues! Do I have to explain? Fine. As I say every week: if you're just joining the Listen project, it includes a selection of music cues gleaned from old radio shows In this case, "The Couple Next Door," the wonderful 1958-1960 radio show written by, and starring, Peg Lynch. It's library music the producers dropped in to get them in and out of scenes. It's the background soundtrack for mid-century life.

The new cues are few and far between. Not entirely surprising after 200+ examplles.


CND Cue #226 Music for the amusing troubles of a beleagured character you like. Imagine how different "Mad Men" would be if this was the music that accompanied Don Draper's entrance into the office.


CND Cue #227. From the same batch, I believe. Poor Don Draper! He's hungover again! See what I mean?


CND Cue #228. Cute busy music that could also, in a pinch, serve a nautical-themed plot.


CND Cue #229. About as generic as a show-closer gets. I'm beginning to think they're starting to exhaust the library.

Now: something else.

I’ve mentioned this before, and it’s no news to anyone with a glancing knowledge of the career of Dick Powell: he ran his career about as cleverly and effectively as anyone can. From clean-cut crooner in the Busby Berkeley musicals to hard-boiled roles in post-war movies, with a stop on radio that combined the two. He had a private-eye show called “Richard Diamond,” which mostly played the tropes for laughs, but you wouldn’t cal it a comedy. He not only solved crimes, he managed to slip in a song at the end, singing for his girlfriend after the mayhem had been concluded and it was time to unwind with liquor and woo.

This led to a rather . . . unusual episode, where he opens fan letters from his girlfriend’s neighbors, all of whom were unhappy he hadn’t sung the previous week, and sent complaining letters to his office, instead of the girlfriend’s house. No one could have possibly taken this seriously.


Diamond #1 Well, the next-door neighbor hates the singing, and decides to call up another private detective to have Diamond silenced by indistinct means. That leads to this.

Listen to that again; listen to the words the detective almost swallows completely.


Let me isolate and amplify. Pat Cosak. FOR EMPLOYMENT


Now, part of the opening for Jack Webb's breakthrough radio show, "Pat Novak For Hire."


Get it? Pat Cosak doesn't say "For hire, " but "For Employment," almost with a note of embarassment. It's a direct reference to the "Pat Novak" show, and the audience was expected to get it - which shows how much an impact Webb's show had. Which means the audience knew him before Dragnet.

Jack was the man back then.

Most of the "Diamond" shows are breezy little mysteries with actual jokes that stand up over time, and some of the same over-the-top hard-boiled analogies that "Pat Novak" also used. The author of the "Richard Diamond" series? Well, he went on to other things.





1959 ad for Good Luck margarine. Are you like Mrs. FDR, and think of the starving children when you eat bread?

For that matter, are you, indeed, Mrs. FDR?

Oh, the connection between Star Trek and Blake Edwards, revealed in that frame grab above? Fight it out in the comments. ;)

That's it for this week! Column up here; scroll down to the COLUMNS pane.








blog comments powered by Disqus