Saturday, February 26, 2005

1851: Unlucky Number For NJT

NJ Transit bus 1851 (a 1994 Flxible) was the site of a fatal shooting yesterday when it was running the 62 route in Newark. Yet, that number seemed oddly familiar.

I checked my archives and remembered that on May 31, 2004, Academy Lines bus 1851 was involved in a serious accident on the Garden State Parkway. 43 passengers were injured in the crash involving a 1999 MCI 102DL3 coach. Academy still runs other buses in this series, notable for their plain-white appearance.

In case you've wondered where our bus pages are, we are not in any great hurry to bring the NJT info back up, since it is now slightly outdated... at least the fleet photos may be back soon. We will definitely be bringing back the Public Service bus pages as well.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Site Update

The Animation pages, a database of cartoon credits from a number of studios, including a complete filmography of Hal Seeger Productions, has now been restored to this site. Enjoy!

A Modest Proposal

GSN, The Network For Games, routinely features an hour of black-and-white programming from old kinescopes in its 3 a.m. timeslot. Programming is culled from the Mark Goodson-Bill Todman archives, featuring shows like "Password", "What's My Line", "To Tell The Truth", and "Beat The Clock" among others.

This one is a no-brainer for GSN. Apparently, the network can get pretty darn cheap the syndicated library of "You Bet Your Life" which was packaged in 1961 under the title "The Best Of Groucho" for local syndication by NBC Films. When the films were repackaged, editors very carefully removed all references to NBC (except for the NBC "snake" in the show's closing logo) and the show's sponsors which included DeSoto-Plymouth Dealers, Ford and Toni Home Permanent, which explains grainy closeups of Groucho in some scenes. New open and close bumpers were edited in.

The films have been relatively unseen in recent years, with the exception of a package of original cuts of the show (with all original bumpers, commercials and logos kept in) that have aired sporadically on PBS stations. The show had a surge of interest in the mid-1970's (during a nostalgia craze which included a major revival of Marx Brothers movies, including the suppressed "Animal Crackers"), when the syndicated films began showing up in late-night time slots on local stations and got huge ratings against 11 p.m. network-affiliate newscasts.

Of course, the game (rudimentary as it was) took a backseat to the interviews of the contestants conducted by Groucho Marx, which were largely concocted by a staff of writers who projected Groucho's seemingly adlib quips on large projection screens out of site. More material was filmed than needed (and yes, I said filmed - the show was actually shot on film and then edited into a half-hour unit, with some of the rest of the material adapted for an NBC Radio version) to ensure the best material would get on the air.

The result? Classic television that seemed unpredictable, but was very tightly controlled by producer John Guedel, directors Bernie Smith and Bob Dwan, and writers Hy Freedman and Howard Harris. George Fenneman was the straight man/announcer, and at various times the band was led by Jack Meakin and Jerry Fielding.

All of which is pretty attractive to GSN's 3 a.m. audience of insomniacs. How about it, GSN? Pay the freight and get Groucho back on TV.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Seventy-Six Trombones.... Minus Seventy-Five

BULLETIN: Tonight's (February 24) performance of "The Music Man" has been cancelled due to the impending snowstorm. For more information visit the Our Gang website.

Right now I'm in rehearsals for a Thursday opening of "The Music Man", which is being mounted by the Adult Division of the Our Gang Players in Barnegat, NJ. (Here's some more information from the Times Beacon.)

The show, of course, is the brainchild of Meredith Willson (shown here on a first-day cover of his 1999 stamp), who wrote book, music and lyrics and collaborated with Franklin Lacey on story. Willson again hit paydirt in the 1960's with "The Unsinkable Molly Brown", but also did a number of other things, including sit for a few years as a panelist on the ABC panel show "The Name's The Same".

I will be playing trombone for this show. I love doing pit work; I just wish I had more opportunities to do so close to home. This is a smallish pit, but we have some good players and they've all made "the new guy" feel at home. Steve Strouse is our musical director, a wonderfully talented individual, and our brass section also features trumpeter Ray Bohn, who also plays a little bass. Students from Pinelands High School and Southern Regional High School will round out our pit.

I urge you to come out and see this show and support local theatre. However, if you want to see how others have treated this golden material, I point you to a couple of DVD's you can scarf from Amazon by clicking on the links: the 1962 big-screen version with Robert Preston as Professor Harold Hill and Shirley Jones as Marian the Librarian (and Ron Howard, back when he had hair), or the more recent ABC TV-movie with Matthew Broderick as Hill and uber-adorable Kristen Chenoweth as Marian.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

$524 vs. $38

The official notebook of for several years has been my trusty Compaq Presario 700 series. Apparently, a common problem of this computer is cracks developing in the lid near the hinge mounts. Just before Christmas, the unit finally gave and the lid snapped in two at one of the hinges. I took the unit to an authorized Compaq service facility, where the quote to fix came back to a nifty total of $524 - which would entail replacing the entire lid, including the LCD screen. That's almost the cost of a new notebook, and I wasn't prepared to pay that cost.

Fortunately, I decided to scour around eBay for the lid bezel, and I found one at a reasonable price - $30. I gleefully clicked the Buy It Now button and the part arrived a few days ago. It only took a few minutes to get the old lid off and the new lid on; the only thing was I didn't have a Torx bit small enough (I think it's a T7) so I had to use a small jeweler's screwdriver. Plus shipping, the whole repair job cost me $38.

If there's one thing I learned from my father, who was really handy with tools and knew his way around a car forward and backwards, it was that if you have just a little know-how, you can save yourself big bucks if you do little fixes yourself. Leave the big jobs to the experts, but do what you can yourself. My little notebook is doing fine and I'm using it right now to post this, in fact.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Hosting Update

We are back live on thanks to a new hosting order just placed with Globat... They are giving us five times the storage space and two and a half times the bandwidth at a much reduced price than that Brand X webhosting company we used to use offered us.

Thursday, February 03, 2005


Due to bandwidth issues with our soon-to-be-former service provider (to which I just paid a hefty fee for account renewal), is going to be going away for a little while. This includes all features hosted on this site, including Trading Post.

We cannot afford to pay the freight for dedicated hosting.

We are looking into other agreements with other service providers. If you communicate with us via e-mail, I will be contacting you personally with other information. In the meantime, you may enjoy reading, if you desperately need that daily dose o' Dave. Hopefully I can be a little more blogospheric here.

Thank you,
Dave Mackey