I hate to begin with these “so, do you know what this is” scenarios, because it makes it sound as if I know, and you don’t, ergo neener neener. (Note: I have never said neener in my life and don’t know why I did just now.) But it’s no fun to say “hey, I learned this today,” and just dump the fact on the table. Better to tease it. Draw it out. Add some mystery.
So, do you know who this is? You don’t? No, don’t check the file name. I wouldn’t know if I hadn’t decide to answer a question I’d never asked myself about a song I didn’t even know had a composer. You’ve hummed his song. You’ve sung it, even though it has a word whose meaning escapes you. You may associate it with a particular cartoon character - or a particular animal.
All will be clear down in LISTEN.
And now, another one. This is a picture of people reading newspapers on Hennepin Avenue, Block E, during WW2. There's an old-radio connection - a pointer to something that as far as I can tell is lost completely. Can you find it?
It's a rather staged photo; the women on the left in particular seem to be following the photographer's directions. So: squint and find the old radio detail. Answer below.
All the air went out of my enthusiasm for everything around 7:21 tonight, so this is scant, aside from the usual Million Other Things. One note:
Comments are inseparable from the internet now. My archived versions of this site (in pdf) included all the comments. Some of my favorite sites have sharp, lively discussions; some of my favorite sites have a troll-knight ratio that’s too high, so I avoid them entirely. My newspaper’s comments - er. Well. A perfect example of the sad bleat of the single-issue scold
Can you guess what the original story concerned? The construction of a new apartment building downtown. Just encourages people to reproduce, all this shelter. Well, ‘CCO asked why comments are so mean, and the story began thus:
Novelist Anne Rice, best known for her books about vampires, has signed onto a petition asking Amazon.com to stop allowing people to post anonymous reviews.
No. I’d prefer an option to filter out anonymous reviews, as well as highlight high-rated anonymous ones if I wished. But:
In an interview with the Guardian, Rice says the “anti-author gangsters” make her a victim of bullying.
Oh grow up. Please. Any form of disputation is now “Bullying,” as if the act of being less than supportive is a passive version of pushing someone down in the mud in the playground. The spread of the term beyond school infantilizes everyone and dilutes the term. Criticism is bullying; failure to agree with someone else’s precepts is “hate.” The internet did not invent this; it just allowed people with mushy noggins to retreat into supportive spaces where everyone outside the wall was a meany.
I've never had an anonyous account on the internet. I am Lileks. I went by another name on a BBS in the 80s, but everyone knew who I was. I understand the desire for a persona, and why people adapt fanciful noms de guerre, but there's something about seeing my own name over the words that makes me think twice. But that's just me and if you're different, fine.
I feel this bad mood snowballing, so I'm going to watch "House of Cards" and luxuriate in perfdy. But first! Much stuff.
The weekly Lum & Abner Organ Mystery: Not a mystery at all. As I've noted, the shows end with the organist vamping off the story with a reference to a tune that may, or may not, be easily recongized. Sometimes he was being sly; sometimes he went for the obvious one. Someone has just walked into a leg-hold trap. So:
In 1741, Arne filed a complaint in Chancery pertaining to a breach of musical copyright and claimed that some of his theatrical songs had been printed and sold by Henry Roberts and John Johnson, the London booksellers and music distributors. The matter was settled out of court. Arne was certainly one of the very first composers to have appealed to the law over copyright issues.
I assume it's lapsed, and we don't owe him anything for whistling it now and then. The picture at the top of the Bleat is Thomas Arne.
As for the second question:
Up in the left-hand corner. I presume that’s MURDER IN ALLEN’S ALLEY, which would be a reference to Fred Allen’s show. “A masterpiece of” something - nonsense, perhaps? Only the last name of the person who blurbed it, so it must have been someone famous. Below that, the arrow says - and again, I’m guessing, but it’s a reasonable extrapolation from the context - TEAD MORE, and points to where you can read more. I’m guessing that’s The American, a fine old publication that died in the mid-50s.
It’s hard to search for back numbers of The American, as the generic name yields blurry results. But there’s a copy somewhere of the story.
My point is: that's one corner of one picture of one corner of one block. Imagine the teeming number of things that made up the popular culture, the vernacular of the day. It's impossible to reconstruct. Today? Everything's recorded. It'll be easier for bloggers in 2114.
Again, spare examples of new Music Cues this week. One, perhaps. Just whetting your appetite for the first batch of Couple Next Door CDs, due to be released in 2014. We're in to the second great plot arc of the series, the Trip to Europe, and I expect once they get on the ship the music will change to reflect new surroundings. For now we're in New York for a week of misadventures; it's some of Peg Lynch's best work, and her performances are just . . . well, as I've said, or have meant to, you don't know whether to be amazed that the actress wrote the scrpts, or that the scriptwriter was the actress.
CND Cue #327 Things have gone awry, but not horribly so; for the moment, activity and action, with car horns in case the producer want to use it for a rush-hour traffic scene.
CND Cue #328 All’s-well-that-ends-well, with the wifely smile of amused forgiveness over Hubby Foibles.
CND Cue #329 The return of the waddling pompous theme. Play this in your head when someone at the office who fits the bill walks past.
CND Cue #330 Another fairly well-used cue, with either a retake to indicate a Surprising Turn of Events, or something that was spliced on the end. If it’s the latter, it’s seamless.
CND Cue #331 NEW! Never heard before. I can’t imagine how the composer thought this would be used.