Musings @musicandmeaning.com

Every time every year, the travelers come and go; you see them landing with their pale wings and flying back to the snow.
"He had a theory that musicians are incredibly complex, and know far less than other artists what they want and what they are; that they puzzle themselves as well as their friends; that their psychology is a modern development, and has not yet been understood." – E. M. Forster

Archive for November, 2003


Thursday, 27 November 2003

Happy Thanksgiving

Wishing everyone a great holiday. This has become my favorite U.S. holiday (or holiday in general, for that matter) aside from Christmas. From Thanksgiving’s proclamation in 1863 to now, I’m sure the holiday’s meaning has changed for many people — I wonder what Abraham Lincoln might have thought of his declared holiday being called "Turkey Day" — but I still believe in the importance of Thanksgiving, whether there’s turkey or not.

(And speaking of this holiday and its traditions: did I miss something, or did NPR not give Susan Stamberg a segment to present her cranberry relish recipe this year?)

Posted at 2:38 pm | Filed under Musings & everything else |  

Sunday, 9 November 2003

Maintenance day: browsers and other software

I’m spending most of this weekend doing "geek stuff" (while listening to Anne Litt and Weekend Becomes Eclectic, which is very much not geeky): going through my computer and upgrading and/or trying out software in the process. Basically this means checking all of my favorite applications and figuring out if I want to "upgrade" to newer versions, if they’re available. Typically I tend to download new releases as they come out, with the intention to research them and decide if I want to install them. But just as typically, I tend not to get around to it until a day like today.

I’ve been using Mozilla 1.0.1 as my primary browser for over a year (before that it was Netscape Navigator/Communicator, from 1.2 all the way to 4.79) — I intentionally passed on the 1.2 and 1.3 series, after reading about some unacceptable bugginess — but since the hat trick of new releases in the past month, I thought I should finally check them out. After some debating, I’m now using Firebird 0.7 and Thunderbird 0.3.

In spite of the lower-than-usual release numbers, both seem quite stable (although Thunderbird has some mail-retrieving quirks I haven’t figured out completely yet). I’m only on day 2 though. One thing I haven’t gotten used to is that Firebird has a separate search window in the toolbar…I’m not sure if I want to keep doing CTRL-K to get to it, because I’ve become so accustomed to Moz 1.0.1’s Google search-within-the-location-bar, and just using the location bar to do everything. So now I find myself typing search keywords in Firebird’s location bar, and then realizing (after I’ve typed a bit) that search won’t work in that window. Then I have to select the words, copy, CTRL-K to the correct window, paste, and hit enter. I’m not sure if Moz 1.4.1 or 1.5 have separate windows like Firebird. If they don’t, it might be a reason to abandon this and try one of those. Or maybe I’ll just get used to CTRL-K. Another issue is getting used to Firebird’s very different CSS rendering and default text size compared to Moz 1.0.1 and even IE6. The text is so much tinier!

[Update – 10 Nov. ’03: I’ve installed Moz 1.4.1. Apparently I couldn’t handle even two days of Firebird and Thunderbird 😉 … but 1.4.1’s mail had no problems with my IMAP accounts upon setup. Worked right out of the box, so to speak, whereas Thunderbird seems to sporadic trouble opening them. 1.4.1 also has the location bar search function. Anyway, good thing I didn’t use the installers for Fire- and T-bird, so there’s no need to hassle over the registry.]

Other upgrades:

  • Got the latest LAME mp3 encoding engine (yes, I’m very behind) and in the process, got an unexpected laugh from a link on the download page.
  • After years of using the "lite" version of Winamp, I finally downloaded the full version of Winamp 2.81 (blegh to Winamp 3) for its Ogg Vorbis support. (I’d tried installing an Ogg Vorbis plug-in for my Winamp 2.80 lite app, but it didn’t take.)
  • Some more: XnView 1.66, CD Wave 1.91.
Posted at 5:55 pm | Filed under Tech/geek |  

Wednesday, 5 November 2003

A little behind

After reading today’s FoxTrot, I see that Jason isn’t quite the geek I thought he was. He’s still using deprecated markup (when clearly he should have used <em> or <strong>), he’s not closing his paragraph tags and he’s definitely not using CSS.

CSS is still fairly unpredictable across browsers, but Jason could have at least avoided the bold tag. No, I’m not trying to out-geek the geek, but today’s comic makes me feel sort of better about not being up on the latest XHTML.


Saturday, 1 November 2003

Goodbye to an old friend

Last night, for the first time in a while, I tuned in to the KNX Drama Hour, which has been on the air here on KNX 1070 AM since the 1970s, I believe.

I "found" it when I was about 12 years old, and it was a huge part of my life during my adolescence, during the height of my old-time radio show fandom/collection sensibility. It went hand-in-hand with my then-fledgling interest in films from the 1930s-’50s, and my fascination for the media culture of that period definitely made it hard to share interests with my peers. It was difficult finding anyone my age who had heard of Orson Welles, Jack Benny, Frank Lovejoy or Norman Corwin, let alone appreciate them or the dramas in which they were involved. For me, Alad Ladd will always be Dan Holiday from the radio show Box 13 before he is Shane. William Conrad will always be Matt Dillon from Gunsmoke. June Foray, famous for (among other things) Natasha on Rocky and Bullwinkle, will always be a Stan Freberg character first (Miss Jupiter…Edna St. Louis Missouri…Lucretia). Admittedly, when I think of Orson Welles now, I tend to think of Citizen Kane before anything else, but for the longest time, he was always first Harry Lime from the radio show version of The Third Man; he was the spooky narrator from The Black Museum; he was the brains behind The Mercury Theatre on the Air radio theatre group. Needless to say, old-time radio (OTR) was a huge part of my life, and KNX was the station that introduced me to it, and provided one or two OTR shows every night at 9 p.m. and 2 a.m.

Anyway, I tuned in to KNX last night, and was not surprised that the regular Friday shows had been pre-empted by the annual Halloween broadcast of Orson Welles & The Mercury Theatre group’s infamous 1938 production of H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds. What did surprise me, however, was the canned announcement at the beginning of the show, saying that it would be the final installment of the KNX Drama Hour. Final, based on the need for news recently: the SoCal fires, strikes, recall election, continuing war in Iraq…

It’s true, KNX skipped the Drama Hour during the first Bush/Iraq war, but it came back. It came back after September 11th. So perhaps this isn’t the true end? Perhaps they will bring it back? Unless another factor was a lagging listenership over the past few years.

So many years, so many shows. I feel old, and like I just lost a friend. A constant, true friend that’s no longer there. No Jack Benny on Saturday nights at 9. Unbelievable. It’s been a part of my life for 15 years.

It means absolutely nothing to the people who have lost friends and family and homes in recent days…maybe it means nothing in the grand scheme of the world. But it’s still sad to see what had been a true staple — a rare hour of old, historic drama, on a major CBS radio affiliate — disappear.

Thankfully, today being Saturday, I tuned in to Anne Litt and Weekend Becomes Eclectic on KCRW and it helped me remember to be grateful for what’s still here in terms of radio media and culture. I hope, hope, hope that her show (and NPR and KCRW for that matter) will be around for a long time to come.