Thursday, December 27, 2001

Dave's Booc Klub!

[Updated 12/28/2001 now that I actually have the book...:)]
Blogger is back after its security breach, and Dave's Booc Klub rides again!

The Crossword Obsession:�The History and Lore of the World's Most Popular Pastime is recommended reading for anyone who is obsessed with filling in little white squares with letters. The book is authored by Coral Amende (herself a crossword constructor), but it reads more like a round table of the cognoscenti of the crossword world, people like Will Shortz (editor of the NY Times crossword), Maura Jacobson (New York Magazine's crossword), Stanley Newman, Trip Payne, Ellen Ripstein (who finally won the Stamford tournament this year!), Merl Reagle (San Francisco Examiner), etc.

There's lots of inside dish about crosswords, including what it was like to work for Dell under the legendary editor Kathleen Rafferty or the New York Times under Eugene T. Maleska, what kinds of words don't belong in crosswords (one constructor says she will never use the word DONUT in a puzzle... go figure), and why two groups of constructors working for the same company were not on friendly terms for a number of years.

For the aspiring constructor, there's generous info on how to get started with an overview of crossword-creation software and contacts at puzzle magazines and newspapers (including the Times), little known crossword mechanical issues such as number of black squares and number of words allowed per puzzle (yes, there are such requirements!), a listing of internet resources (such as Cruciverb-L, info about crossword tournaments, etc.

There are even some puzzles you can solve, including the notorious Election Day 1996 New York Times crossword (under the editorship of Shortz, from a contributor who first floated the idea in 1980 when Shortz was editing Games Magazine) - which featured two consecutive across words at the puzzle's center that could be solved as either CLINTON ELECTED or BOBDOLE ELECTED - with all the crossing words making sense either way!

The only thing that left me with a little tinge of remorse is the revelation of how underpaid the puzzle constructors are for the geniuses that they are. I don't recall the exact amount, but I winced when I found out what Will Shortz pays for the New York Times puzzles. I think it's something like $75 for a daily!

Thursday, December 20, 2001

What Happened To Hela?

As a rabid New Jersey Lottery player, it's hard not to notice the graphics on its web page and television commercials of Ray Charles, who is now the Lottery's celebrity spokesman. Ray even has his own lottery ticket named after the Lottery's slogan: "For Every Dream, There's A Jackpot".

It's funny that the man who sang of the evils of gambling in his 1950's side for Atlantic Records called "Blackjack" is now promoting a state lottery.

On a related matter, I do sense a passing of the torch coming very soon. The Lottery has recently hired a new television hostess named Carmen Delia Torres. As identifiable as Hela Young has been for the last 25 years doing the televised Lottery drawings and being the Lottery's most prolific PR representative (riding the Lottery floats in parades with Lottery director Ginny Haines), I really wonder if the beautiful Carmen is being groomed as her eventual replacement.

Sunday, December 16, 2001

Obit: Conte Candoli

The Los Angeles Times notes the death of trumpeter Conte Candoli of cancer at the age of 74. Candoli appeared in the trumpet section of Doc Severinsen's orchestra on "The Tonight Show" for the twenty years the program originated from Burbank with Johnny Carson as host. Conte followed in older brother Pete's footsteps as a trumpet star in the Woody Herman Orchestra since his teen years.

Thursday, December 13, 2001

Randy Amasia Dies

The world of game shows lost a friend and supporter yesterday. Alan Randy Amasia, 44, died at approximately 2 pm on Wednesday. If you go to USENET and read the memorial messages posted in, you will get pretty much a cross section of what this man meant to a lot of people. A little background: Randy Amasia was a successful contestant on an otherwise-forgotten show called "WHEW!" and parlayed that into a research position with Goodson-Todman Productions. Along the way he also appeared on "Jeopardy!", was rejected for "The Gong Show" and eventually was a regular fixture at game show tapings around Hollywood. When the Internet beckoned, Amasia had another outlet for his mania. He had been having some health problems over the last year which culminated in his final hospitalization with advanced throat cancer. Mercifully, this period of suffering was brief, and now Randy is with angels. And all of us who ever filled in the blanks or solved the puzzle or bid on the showcase from our easy chairs are richer just for having known him.

Saturday, December 08, 2001

Holiday Concert From Manalapan Battleground Symphony

Concert tonight: Manalapan Battleground Symphony and prep orchestras, at Manalapan-Englishtown Middle School, Manalapan, NJ, 7:30 pm. Featured will be Gershwin "Cuban Overture", Prokofiev "Lt. Keiji Suite", and Herbert "March of the Wooden Soldiers". Plus holiday favorites. See the Music page for more information.

Wednesday, December 05, 2001

PSCT Update

Some fixes and new photo files today over at the Public Service Bus pages. We will have quite a few more to come in the coming weeks.

Tuesday, December 04, 2001

Computer Fixed, Website Now Broken

Everything is back in order on the computer, but I think we may have some problems on the website with broken graphics links. Bear with us as we fix the problems.

Sunday, December 02, 2001

Almost Back At Full Strength

Everything is back up now except Front Page. When that is up, we'll have a few new goodies on the WB cartoon page, and some new serial numbers to report on the NJT Bus side.

Friday, November 30, 2001

No, It's Win2K

I have restored at least some functionality to this computer. The problem was with a busted installation of Windows 2000. I deleted the folder that the temp installation was in and everything is fine now. It may be a few days before we're back to full-on Normal.

Wednesday, November 28, 2001

It's The Captain And Tennille! BIG JOKE! Ha ha!

And another annoying trend in commercials: soft AC music as comic relief.

I am sure that people are out there who don't appreciate songs like "Do That To Me One More Time" by the Captain and Tennille (with their participation yet!) or the late Minnie Riperton's "Loving You" as a punchline to a spot. The latter especially rankles because Riperton's been dead for quite some time now, and Riperton's daughter, "Saturday Night Live" actress Maya Rudolph, played the song in tribute to Mom on this past year's Mother's Day special.

I won't even mention the advertisers. Believe me, they don't need the publicity from this misguided attempt at humor.

Badtrans Is To Blame

Those of you who have been sending me the Badtrans virus will be receiving very nasty notes. I believe that this virus has caused the operational problems with my computer.

Sunday, November 25, 2001

Ouch! Dave's Having Problems

I am currently having operational problems with my primary computer, the one on which are stored all my websites and databases. This temporarily means the suspension of updates to my websites. Once the problems are rectified, we will be resuming regular operations.

Friday, November 16, 2001

Obit: Albert Hague

Even a Grinch needed friends, and he lost one of his best ones last night. Composer Albert Hague has died at the age of 81. Born in Germany and fleeing the Nazis in his teens, Hague collaborated with Dr. Seuss on the songs for "How The Grinch Stole Christmas", the original Chuck Jones cartoon from 1965. A Tony winner in 1959 for his score for "Red Head", many also know him from his diversion into acting, playing the music teacher Shorofsky in the movie and TV series "Fame" from 1980-1987.

Saturday, November 10, 2001

Trash The Signs Now!

I drove by a local gas station today and noticed several dozen political candidate signs still up. Ironically, these signs were for losing candidates.

I think a good idea would be to go to your local Waste Management depot, ask to borrow a loader for a few hours, then drive around town with some friends and take every political sign you can find down.

Oh, happy birthday Dad, and Billy. (See below)

Thursday, November 08, 2001

Happy Birthday Billy May

This Saturday, on what would have been my own father's 80th birthday, the man I regard as one of my musical fathers will celebrate his 85th. Billy May, composer, conductor, arranger, trumpeter, and above all else, overgrown frat boy.

He made his name in the Glenn Miller Orchestra as trumpeter and arranger. By the time he struck out on his own, the Big Band era was largely over, but May was able to diversify in several ways. May became a fixture at Capitol Records as its staff genius, not only producing and arranging fine big band recordings such as the 10 inch LP you see pictured above, but also a slew of children's records featuring Bozo the Clown and the Warner Bros. animation characters (working with that studio's three primary writers, Tedd Pierce, Warren Foster and Michael Maltese, as well as voice genius Mel Blanc). He later hooked up with Sinatra and was responsible for the "Come Fly With Me" album. Later he worked with Bobby Darin at Capitol, including the "Two Of A Kind" album featuring the songs of Johnny Mercer. And Dan Ingram, the radio disc jockey, appropriated the last minute or so of the May recording "Tri Fi Drums" as his closing theme and still uses it today.

He also worked in radio and television, acting as musical director on Stan Freberg's radio show and scoring most of the episodes of Jack Webb's "Emergency!" (though he did not write the theme - that chore went to Nelson Riddle). By this time his reputation as a fun loving prankster and a hard drinker was known throughout the industry. In his book "Sinatra: The Song Is You", Will Friedwald recounted an anecdote by the late Daws Butler (one of Freberg's stock company when he wasn't voicing Yogi Bear and others), who stated that Billy May was the only man alive who was capable of conducting a full orchestra and chorus while "stone drunk". But the music never suffered from Billy May's antics.

The fine web site of Gary Wachtel, (a repository of big band MIDI's based on arrangements from the likes of Dave Wolpe, Jerry Nowak, Roger Holmes, and Sammy Nestico), has a chart by Sammy Nestico called "Billy May For President" which erroneously notes that Billy May is deceased. Although he's relatively retired today, I'd gladly write Billy May, still among the living, on the ballot for 2004. So here's to you, Billy May... happy birthday!

Wednesday, November 07, 2001

Politics As Usual

Hi everyone. It's politics as usual. NJ has returned most, if not all, of the State Senate and Assembly to their prior seats and has selected Jim McGreevey as our new Governor. Michael Bloomberg is the new NYC mayor. And barring recounts and absentees, it looks like Jim Whelan will be returning as mayor of Atlantic City.

What sucked big time about this campaign - and what generally turns me off to the election process in general - is the increasingly negative tone of all of the television and radio campaigns of various candidates. Bloomberg's opponent, Mark Green, made a desparate last ditch attempt to shame Bloomberg on some matter that was settled half a decade ago, and I am pleased that that strategy has blown up in his face. We now even get attack ads on billboards and even on banner ads on the Internet. To borrow an oft-repeated tagline from these type commercials: "Its WRONG for politics!"

Tuesday, October 23, 2001

Friday, October 12, 2001

Going Away

Beginning on Saturday, October 13, I will be on a week's vacation with my family. During that time I will be unable to answer my email, so please understand if I don't get back to you right away. See you all on the 21st!

Saturday, October 06, 2001

God, Do I Hate The Braves

Open Letter to the Atlanta Braves, its management (particularly one R.E. Turner), players and fans:

Don't you think ten championships in a row is enough? How about laying back and letting some of the other teams in the East have some glory for a change?

And take your tomahawk chop - demeaning to the Native American people - and stick it right between the lobes of your collective brains.

Now, a message for the management of the New York Mets. Perez in 2002. He is the only man who will save this team.

Sunday, September 30, 2001

Time To Update SNL Band

It's become an annual ritual of the last week of September: updating the SNL Band page to reflect another year notched under the belt of all of the players. When you consider that the core of this particular group of players has now been together for 17 years and there is one gentleman who's been with the show for 22 straight years, it becomes apparent that being with the SNL band is a lifetime gig.

Sunday, September 23, 2001

Happy Birthday John!

Our new front page design features among other things a revised banner for John's Cartek Corvette Challenge page, featuring the picture of John himself from his website. This is in honor of John's 52nd birthday today (same age as Bruce Springsteen, y'know). Happy Birthday, John!
Oh, and here's a good one

This is a link to a larger picture from the September 17 episode of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire with a couple of famous audience members circled. This is the best shot I can get you from the episode. I am on the left and Robair is on the right. This episode taped on July 31, 2001, and I can remember on the day of taping that everyone made sure to note the date the episode was scheduled to air, almost chanting it like a mantra: Tuesday, September 11. Yes, this was the episode that was to air the night of the terrorists' destruction of the World Trade Center. Nobody seemed to argue with the original choice of airdate, so I guess nobody in studio TV-1 had any premonitions.

Sunday, September 16, 2001

Miss America Shoe Parade Cancelled

Show Us Your Shoes... next year. ;>(

Another casualty of Tuesday's terrorism... the annual Miss America Parade, traditionally held the Friday before the pageant on the Atlantic City boardwalk.

Back From Our 9/11 Hiatus

Hi, everyone. We have decided to resume our regular website programming.

I was today a participant in the Seaside Heights (NJ) Clownfest Parade. If Seaside Heights is a microcosm of the U.S. at large, I can tell you there is no shortage of patriotism and pride in our country right now when we need it most.

Wednesday, September 05, 2001

"The Fantasticks" To Close

Soon It's Not Gonna Rain: There's another report (and these come up periodically, but somehow the show always survives another day) that "The Fantasticks" will end its run on January 6, 2002 after almost 42 years. It is already the longest running off-Broadway show in history with over 17,000 performances so far. "Try To Remember" another show with such longevity? How about Agatha Christie's "The Mousetrap", which has been running on the London stage for almost fifty years!

"The Fantasticks" is as much a part of New York as street vendors selling dirty water hot dogs and the Metropolitan Museum. Go out and support this show while you still can and perhaps it will be around for future generations.

Monday, September 03, 2001

Jerry Lewis

Watching the Jerry Lewis telethon. Why do I get the feeling he's presiding over his own memorial service? Anyway, it's a good idea to give to MDA, so do it:

Sunday, August 26, 2001

"Missing" Archive

There is no archive for 8/19/2001-8/25/2001 because there were no posts to the Blog during that period.

Friday, August 17, 2001

Brass Tacks Now Has An Agent!

Told you we had some news about the Brass Tacks Big Band Orchestra. We are now available through George Bips Productions. The pages are at Scroll down the page until you get to the smiling faces of the Brass Tacks, then click through to our home at the George Bips homepage. Some of the personnel in the picture may have changed, but most of them are still there. John Urspruch Jr. (at the upper left) was going through his wild hair phase then. I'm fifth from right on the top row holding the trombone and standing right next to our fantastic bass player, Mary Buck. I am also in the black and white picture at extreme upper right, again standing beside Mary.

Thursday, August 16, 2001

Raise The Flag For Monmouth County!

Here's Richard Dawson and Gene Wood hoisting the official flag and seal of the county I was born in from a 1983 episode of Family Feud.

Attention Brian Setzer Fans

I know there are some BSO nuts out there who visit this page. You know I've seen BSO about four or five times or so. Well, I have enlisted your help. I need to know if anyone out there has the Merv Griffin's New Year's Eve show on which the BSO appeared. I think this was about 1996 or so, when the band had the Guitar Slinger album out. I remember the band playing "The Legend Of Johnny Cool" on the show and perhaps one other tune. However, I need the complete show, because the house band at the Resorts Casino (where the show was taped, and which Merv used to own) played the then-current version of the Wheel Of Fortune theme scored for big band. We can arrange a trade with materials from the Robair Collection ( and follow the Collection link). Please let me know by e-mailing me. Thank you.

Wednesday, August 15, 2001

Brass Tacks News Coming!

Hi! Heavy house cleaning has kept me somewhat sidelined from website maintenance last few weeks or so, but I did want to say that the Brass Tacks did play on Saturday. And please watch this space for some exciting news about the big band!

Saturday, August 11, 2001

Getting Down To Brass Tacks

Unabashed Plug: The mighty Brass Tacks Big Band Orchestra performs tonight at the Ocean County Library, on Washington Street in Toms River, NJ. Showtime is 7:00 p.m. We got rained out of this concert last year and we hope not to make it two years in a row. Please come out and support the continuing art of big band jazz.

When Josie Comes Home, So Good

Faster, Pussycats, Kill, Kill: Josie and the Pussycats is coming out on home video on Tuesday. Wasn't this movie just in theatres a few short months ago? Wow.

Thursday, August 09, 2001


TBS:Clint Eastwood::USA:Adam Sandler

It just needed to be said.

NJT Correction

Quick correction: the new NJT buses 8202-8204 are D4500's, not D4000's!

Tuesday, August 07, 2001

Virus Alert Update

Here's McAfee's page on the virus (see, I thought so!) that I talked about earlier this morning:

The virus attachment, if opened, will send copies of certain files in your C:\My Documents folder to everyone in your address book, including media files like .MPG and .MOV, graphics files like .JPG and .GIF, Adobe Acrobat documents and .ZIP archives.

Also, updates later today to the NJT pages. The first of the second order of D4000's are on the property, buses 8202-8204, serials 1P054310-54312. Also, Coach USA sent some of Rockland's D4000's to Suburban Transit.

Virus Alert

Watch out kids. I got two identical messages with a file attachment and the following text:

Hi! How are you?

I send you this file in order to have your advice

See you later. Thanks

One was from an address and subject matter which was in Spanish. I smell a virus. Kids, if you get something in your email and you don't know who it's from, don't open it. Just delete it! I got burned once by this already (the Love Letter, sent to me by a disk jockey I worked with eons ago).

Sunday, August 05, 2001

Cartoon Pages Update

We have made updates to some of the Cartoon Filmographies, specifically those of Fleischer, Famous, and DePatie-Freleng. In quite a few cases we have corrected credits and have added some cartoons that previously had only directors listed.

Now for even better news: we will soon be hosting a listing of Walter Lantz cartoons, in the style of our other filmographies.

Good Sunday Morning

Good Sunday Morning. As you can see, not only does the counter work (thanks to "recalculate hyperlinks"), but we now have funky digits. They look very familiar to anyone who grew up in the 1960s and visited arcades, for the digits are from the original D. Gottlieb & Co. pinball score counter readouts. I didn't have a clean copy of the digits (I don't own a machine of that vintage, just a couple of more recent ones), so I cobbled them together from graphics of game backglasses on the Web.

The number on the counter now represents all versions of since the site's inception in 1995.

We have also fixed the problem with the Nova Bus serial numbers. Buses 1216-1226 were the culprit. The corrected serials are as follows:

1215: XR834161
1216-1226: XR834333-834343

Again thanks to Fred McGullam for catching the error.

Oh, unabashed plug time again. Tuesday I went to NYC with Robair to catch a taping of "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" and I have determined that every time I go to New York, I must always stop at The Manhattan Chili Company for a bowl of their Number One topped with cheese and jalapenos. The Manhattan Chili Company is on Broadway right next to the Ed Sullivan Theatre. In fact, it occupies the space previously held by Sullivan's Restaurant, a noble concept but ultimately a colossal failure. Stop in before or after the Big Show and tell em Dave sent you. (Just don't tell them which Dave. It'll sound more impressive.)

Other NY Impressions: 42nd Street really looks nice all fixed up with great looking facades and exciting new businesses. Eighth Avenue is still a sin wallow, however, and should be the next target of the city fathers. And how weird is it walking past the Winter Garden Theater and not seeing the familiar marquee for "Cats" after all these years?

Saturday, August 04, 2001

Blogger Ate My Last Post

Blogger ate my last post. Something about the counter not working, I think. Also Fred McGullam found an error in the Nova Bus serials on the NJT pages. Will fix soon.

Friday, August 03, 2001

Dave's Booc Klub

Time now for Dave's Booc Klub.

Today in the Booc Klub, just arrived in a nice cardboard sheath is Niagara Falls All Over Again by Elizabeth McCracken. Five years ago Ms. McCracken put out her first novel, The Giant's House, which won her the Discover New Writers Award. She was also a National Book Award finalist.

The book (from what little I have read so far) is the memoir of a veteran Vaudeville performer, straight man of a two-man comedy act.

I must disclaim that I began seeking out Ms. McCracken's work because I have been friends with her brother for over a decade now, but she could be related to Rasputin and I'd still read her work because it's that good. I started "The Giant's House" one morning before work and almost didn't make it to my desk on time, I was that caught up in it. Run, don't walk, to the book store and pick this one up.

Thursday, August 02, 2001

Tuesday, July 31, 2001

Counter Messed Up

The counter is still messed up. We will have it fixed soon, but if not I just may do without one and think that millions are visiting this site.

Some of the NJT pages have been updated due to some Coach USA bus-swapping on the new 8400-series buses.

Monday, July 30, 2001

What Time Is It?

We have fixed the time. For some reason the Blogger defaults to Pacific time. When I changed it, it somehow wound up in the time zone for Aruba. Now it seems to be correct. The posts will now show accurate time making this an attractive feature for people investigating me for whatever reason.

But since you can Blog from anywhere, you can't really pinpoint someone's location based on where they actually Blog from. (Whew.)

Sunday, July 29, 2001

Hey, Robair...

Personal to RWM... you didn't think I was really gonna change it, did you?

Counter Update

The magically disappearing and reappearing counter will soon be reappearing with a much higher number because I have decided to add in the 14,000 or so page hits I received when this site was on Cybercomm. I have decided to change to a server-side counter.

Now It Should Work!

Okay, so I had to change the page design just a little to get the blog to show up properly. We should be fine now.

Over on the WB Animation side, I failed to get an updated title card for "A Bird In A Bonnet", which aired for the first time on Cartoon Network today. But hopefully the CN can run this reel into the ground, given time. (How many times can you watch "Rocket Bye Baby"?)

Does It Work?

Now for my next trick...seeing if it updates properly.

Welcome To My Blog!

This is the Blogger. Since Robair has successfully proven that the Blogger can work, we have decided to adopt it over on this side. Please be sure to visit and see for yourself this powerful tool.

We will keep you updated on the status of all of the pages here. Also if I get cranky about a topic, I may surprise you and post it up here.

Such as Penelope Cruz. Gee, nice of her to have a romance with a high-profile actor just as she has a movie to promote. Movie bombs, romance ends?

Like I said, welcome to the Blogger.