Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Identity Crisis, Book I: Banking

In 1994, my new bride and I opened a checking account at Central Jersey Bank. A pretty nice, pretty stable, local bank. All of a sudden, signs go up at our local branch: "NATIONAL WESTMINSTER BANK." Okay, we have to change our checks and stuff. A few years later, more implosion as our bank now becomes Fleet Bank.

With the acquisition of Fleet by Bank Of America (and the latter's dumping of the Fleet name), we now have a FOURTH name for our bank! No wonder our money is confused! It doesn't know who to call home.

What else goes through these kind of name changes almost at the drop of a hat? Our local cable in Toms River started out as Clear Channel Cable, then Adelphia Cable, then it was acquired by the much more stable Comcast (which was my employer for seven and a half years, so I can't speak too ill of them... except my modem is a piece of crap and I need to get a new one). I'm sure there are other industries that go through these kind of striations, but with the Federal Reserve's rule that banks can hold no more than 10% of deposits nationwide, don't look for Bank Of America to be swallowed up by anyone bigger. Thank goodness.

Monday, April 12, 2004

A Belated Happy 70th Birthday

...to one of my favorite sax genuises, Lanny Morgan. You may not know him but you've probably heard his work. He toured with Maynard Ferguson throughout the 1960's. You've seen him on TV countless times as a member of the house band on the original "Gong Show", where he primarily played baritone sax and clarinet. However, Mr. Morgan is first and foremost an alto sax man, and his four albums as leader are worth a listen. The solos are swift and sure and last much longer than the four bars he'd take at times during the Gene Gene segments on "Gong". You can order any of his first three albums by clicking on the pictures. His fourth, "Suite For Yardbird", is not yet available through Amazon.

Lanny turned 70 on March 30, and the best birthday present you can give him is to buy as many of his records as you can. Thank you.

Saturday, April 10, 2004

Arnie's Army? Sign Me Up

Here are Steve Beverly's thoughts on Arnold Palmer's final stroll through Augusta National yesterday. I was standing in a local pizzeria last night, and the USA Network coverage of the second round of The Masters was on the telly. Arnold Palmer is approaching the green at 18 for the final time, there's not a dry eye in the house, and I'm there yelling "ARNIE'S ARMY IN FULL EFFECT YO!" and none of the twentysomethings in the pizzeria have a clue. But fortysomething me, with a father who lived and breathed golf for most of his last two decades on Earth (Mom, however, always liked Nicklaus), knew the gravity and the emotion of the moment. Steve Beverly's essay perfectly captures the moment. Thank you Arnie, and thank you Steve.

White Castle Won't Go West

Mark Evanier on the aborted westward expansion of White Castle. As an added sidelight, may I add that we never had White Castles in our immediate area until exactly 20 years ago, in 1984, when the first of central New Jersey several locations opened on Route 1 in Woodbridge. Crowds lined the place, and all three order/pickup locations were working. Today, the average White Castle usually has only one of these order/pickup locations working, with the other two gathering dust.

When Evanier calls the frozen White Castles a "reasonable facsimile", he's right. Cooking them in the microwave isn't quite the same as the steam-cooking process, and the frozen W.C.'s don't include pickles.

Friday, April 09, 2004

Panther Publishings...

With the release of The Pink Panther Film Collection (a new box set featuring five Pink Panther films and six cartoons), there is more interest than ever in the Pink Panther as the character celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. Here is an article from Animation World Magazine which features a new interview with Pink Panther cartoon producer David H. DePatie, who even today has some big ideas about the Panther's future... and the great news is we may even see the cartoons again soon (they've been off TV for almost a decade now).

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Most Overused Sound Effect In Commercials, Promos, Etc.

The scraping of a phonograph record needle, and some sort of profound pronouncement afterwards.

Nobody under 30 even knows what a phonograph record needle IS. There is an ancient record player in one of my classrooms, and one of my students had a curiosity about it before admitting, "Oh yeah! My grandma has one of those."

Thursday, April 01, 2004

A Very Happy Birthday To Someone You May Know...

...That is, if you read a lot of computer magazines. Tomorrow, April 2nd, is the birthday (I won't say which, but I think it's one of those that ends in 0) of PC World's erstwhile editor, and a friend for almost a decade and a half, Harry McCracken. I first became aware of Harry years ago through an animation magazine he edited and a late but fondly remembered computer service run by BYTE Magazine, the BYTE Information eXchange, or BIX. BIX was like AOL, but smaller and friendlier. Later, Harry and I took turns running APATOONS. It's been Harry's turn for the last several years. Harry had been a writer for a number of smaller computer mags before getting the PC World gig. And eventually Harry landed the big chair and has been doing a terrific job running the magazine. So here's a birthday toast to Harry! (And go visit his website while you're at it... www.harrymccracken.com, of course!