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HEY YOU! YES, YOU!!


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It's a long story -- hardly worth going into here -- but after this place was declared a Brownfield Site, we abandoned it for the NEW! IMPROVED!! Not Now Silly Newsroom.

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Thursday, December 17, 2015

Wright Flight ► Throwback Thursday

On this day in 1903, the Wright Brothers made the first successful flight of a heavier-than-air plane powered by its own motor. And, nothing was ever the same again.

According to the WikiWackyWoo:
The U.S. Smithsonian Institution describes the aircraft as "the first powered, heavier-than-air machine to achieve controlled, sustained flight with a pilot aboard."[2] The Fédération Aéronautique Internationale described the 1903 flight during the 100th anniversary in 2003 as "the first sustained and controlled heavier-than-air powered flight."[3] The Flyer I's date of its first flight generally marks the beginning of the "pioneer era" of aviation.
People have dreamed of flying, ever since we saw our first bird. We've now had 112 years of flight and airlines still lose people's luggage.

The Wiki also tells us:

Orville Wright
Wilber Wright
The Wright brothers, Orville (August 19, 1871 – January 30, 1948) and Wilbur (April 16, 1867 – May 30, 1912), were two American brothers, inventors, and aviation pioneers who are credited[1][2][3] with inventing and building the world's first successful airplane and making the first controlled, powered and sustained heavier-than-air human flight, on December 17, 1903. From 1905 to 1907, the brothers developed their flying machine into the first practical fixed-wing aircraft. Although not the first to build and fly experimental aircraft, the Wright brothers were the first to invent aircraft controls that made fixed-wing powered flight possible.
To quote myself from 3 years ago:
Inventors around the globe were looking for a way to control flight, including bicycle salesmen Orville and Wilbur Wright. The idea began with them in 1899, when Wilbur wrote to the Smithsonian Institution asking for info on aeronautics. The brothers spent the next several years working on their invention, realizing that they should perfect controlled glider flight before adding an engine to their airplane. There were many failures, but the Wright Brothers kept refining the glider until they were able to control its flight. In 1903 they added an engine and traveled to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, their perennial testing ground. On December 14, Wilbur -- who won a coin toss -- took a 3-second flight, but the engine stalled after take-off and the subsequent crash made repairs necessary. On December 17, 1903, this time with Orville behind the controls, they succeeded with the "first controlled, powered, and sustained heavier than air human flight." It doesn't sound like much today, but Orville traveled 120 feet in 12 seconds about 10 feet above the ground, which works out to about 6.8 MPH. Exactly one photograph was taken of the historical event.
Other early attempts at flight were not nearly as successful:


FULL DISCLOSURE: The truth of the matter is that one of the reasons I take my marathon road trips is because I have an inner ear problem. Flying, in a pressurized cabin, makes me wonky. When I get off a plane I am dizzy for days, as if I just got off the wildest ride at the C.N.E., with a migraine that lasts several days. It's a leftover symptom of the vestibular disorder I had several years ago.

Happy flying!!!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Spike Jones on the Box ► Monday Musical Appreciation

On this day in 1911 Lindley Armstrong Jones was born. He later got the nickname Spike because he was as thin as a railroad spike.

Spike Jones was, essentially, a drummer. He got his first drum kit at the age of 11 and never looked back. As a young man he played in various bands, orchestra pits and radio shows as he was coming up. As a drummer in the John Scott Trotter Orchestra, Jones can be heard playing on Bing Crosby's biggest hit "White Christmas."

Bored with playing the same music night after night, Spike found some musicians who were as warped as he was and they started playing parodies of the songs of the day for their own enjoyment. Then they started recording the songs to play for their wives.

One of those recordings found its way to RCA Records, where Spike Jones and His City Slickers recorded their first single, "Der Fuhrer's Face." The song, written by Oliver Wallace, was skedded for a 1943 Donald Duck cartoon called, originally, "Donald Duck in Nutzi Land," and later "Der Fuhrer's Face. It later won an Academy Award.


However, Spike Jones' version was released first and became a huge hit.


Jones thought this would be a flash in the pan, but the 'Merkin public surprised him. They demanded more from Spike Jones and His City Slickers and Jones was happy to accommodate them.

As the shows became more elaborate, Jones' impeccable timing came to the fore, with guns, whistles, and pots and pans all taking the place of percussion in some songs. He called his concerts Musical Depreciation.

It wasn't just the hit parade that Spike Jones and His City Slickers parodied. According to the WikiWackyWoo:
Among the series of recordings in the 1940s were humorous takes on the classics such as the adaptation of Liszt's Liebesträume, played at a breakneck pace on unusual instruments. Others followed: Rossini's William Tell Overture was rendered on kitchen implements using a horse race as a backdrop, with one of the "horses" in the "race" likely to have inspired the nickname of the lone chrome yellow-painted SNJ aircraft flown by the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels aerobatic team's shows in the late 1940s, "Beetle Bomb". In live shows Spike would acknowledge the applause with complete solemnity, saying "Thank you, music lovers." An LP collection of twelve of these "homicides" was released by RCA (on its prestigious Red Seal label) in 1971 as Spike Jones Is Murdering the Classics. They include such tours de force as Pal-Yat-Chee (Pagliacci), sung by the Hillbilly humorists Homer and Jethro, Ponchielli's Dance of the Hours, Tchaikovsky's None but the Lonely Heart, and Bizet's Carmen.


The first time I ever heard a Spike Jones tune, it was on an 78 RPM platter of "My Old Flame"at Craig Portman's house. It was one of his parents' records. We played it dozens of times and laughred because we were just old enough to recognize the impersonation of Peter Lorre talk/singing the lyrics as the scenario became more and more macabre. [Later we used the stack of wax as Frisbees, long before the Frisbee was invented. While I'm not proud of that fact today, I'd still like to find Craig Portman, who moved to California when we were still teenagers. Google has been no help.]

Comedy music has a long and honourable history, as the Wiki also tells us:
There is a clear line of influence from the Hoosier Hot Shots, Freddie Fisher and his Schnickelfritzers and the Marx Brothers to Spike Jones — and to Stan Freberg, Gerard Hoffnung, Peter Schickele's P.D.Q. Bach, The Goons, Mr. Bungle, Frank Zappa, The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo, and "Weird Al" Yankovic. Billy Barty [who appeared with Spike Jones] appeared in Yankovic's film UHF and a video based on the movie. According to David Wild's review in Rolling Stone Magazine, Elvis Costello's 1989 Album "Spike" was named partly in tribute to Jones.

Syndicated radio personality Dr. Demento regularly features Jones' music on his program of comedy and novelty tracks. Jones is mentioned in The Band's song, "Up on Cripple Creek". (The song's protagonist's paramour states of Jones: "I can't take the way he sings, but I love to hear him talk.") Novelist Thomas Pynchon is an admirer and wrote the liner notes for a 1994 reissue, Spiked! (BMG Catalyst). A scene in the romantic comedy I.Q. shows a man demonstrating the sound of his new stereo to Meg Ryan's character by playing a record of Jones' music.
As always, it's about the music. Here's a selection: