And you follow ’til your sense of which direction completely disappears

It’s no secret that I love newspaper and online comic strips — especially the traditional ones. Now, I don’t know if you follow the “Heathcliff” cartoon — you probably don’t — but, friends and neighbors, believe me when I tell you: It’s gone completely bonkers.

“Heathcliff,” a single-panel daily cartoon about an orange-striped cat, is perpetually upstaged by that other daily cartoon about an orange-striped cat, “Garfield.” But “Heathcliff,” which debuted 50 years ago this September, actually pre-dates the better-known strip by five years. “Heathcliff” hasn’t been featured in a movie (yet) but the comic strip has inspired at least two animated TV cartoon shows — one in 1980, one in 1984.

And there are some distinctive differences between the two orange tabby cartoon cats. Garfield is extremely lazy, gluttonous and sarcastic, offering snide comments about the world and people around him. Heathcliff is sneaky, but industrious, and he never talks, even in the form of word balloons — he pantomimes or simply “meows.”

And whereas Garfield more or less behaves as a furry human, Heathcliff’s behavior has always been more in line with that of a real tomcat — albeit one with human levels of intelligence.

Continue reading “And you follow ’til your sense of which direction completely disappears”

You must be joshing

Mysterious note

josh /dʒɒʃ/ (v.): (1.) To tease someone in a playful way. “You must be joshing me.” (2.) To make or exchange good-natured jokes. (n.): (1.) Primarily North American. “He loved to josh and joke.

I found this note on the studio door today. Who’s “Mr. Josh”? And why did it take a year for the note to show up? (It’s dated 2022.)

All these mysteries will be explored, along with Pittsburgh’s favorite oldies, from 12 noon to 3 p.m. today (Jan. 28) on Pittsburgh’s very independent WRCT-FM (88.3), owned and operated by the students of Carnegie Mellon University, and McKeesport’s very Internet-only Tube City Online Radio, available on Streema, TuneIn, RadioGarden, Alexa, Siri and Echo, or at the website.

Requests: 412-385-7450 or send me a message on Facebook, Mastodon or Post.

Shocked, I am shocked!

If a cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind, what’s an empty desk mean? Empty items from a cluttered mind:

Well, I, for one, find it hard to believe that there could be anything unsavory about the creators of “Rick & Morty,” a show about a sociopathic alcoholic sex addict who abuses his grandchildren.

Hey, and I say that as someone who likes “Rick & Morty.” When I ruptured three discs in my back five years ago, and was in tremendous pain for months, binge-watching “Rick & Morty” was one of the things that actually lifted my spirits.

I think the show has brilliantly poked fun at cliches from science-fiction movies and TV. I also appreciate the show’s willingness to explore really toxic, unhealthy family relationships. (I enjoyed “BoJack Horseman” for the same reasons, even though I sometimes got to the end of an episode and had to take a break for a while.)

Continue reading “Shocked, I am shocked!”

What’s the buzz? Tell me what’s happening

The Conversation asks, “How do you vaccinate a honeybee?”

Little tiny needles, I guess. The hardest part is afterward, trying to make them stay still for 15 minutes in the waiting room.

I took this picture in a university’s student union the other day and posted it on Facebook, “Kids, next semester, sign up for Uncle Jay’s three-credit course and he’ll teach you how to use these mysterious objects.”

The poor campus phone seems so lonely by itself.

I can remember not that long ago, when there was a pay phone practically everywhere. I even had a calling-card, issued by Westinghouse Communications, which allowed me to call anywhere in the country and charge it to my home phone. Then, I can remember the desperate search to find a pay phone (especially while I worked for a place that issued us company-owned beepers but not cell phones), and then the current state of affairs, where pay phone booths or poles still occasionally exist, but the phones are long gone.

I could see a need for payphones on a university campus, especially for international students who may need to call overseas to a country where the infrastructure doesn’t support Skype or Zoom calls. But I do wonder how often they get used for anything other than someone looking to get out of the hallway and use their cell phone.

Trivia question: Alexander Graham Bell patented the telephone in 1876. The first telephone networks and exchanges — allowing users to call other users — debuted one year later. How long before the first coin-operated payphone appeared? Answer at the end.

Continue reading “What’s the buzz? Tell me what’s happening”

At least the set looks nice

(NBC photo)

I watched the rebooted “Night Court.” I chuckled a few times. I had one actual laugh. Otherwise, I fear it’s destined for the same fate as the “Murphy Brown” reboot and “The New WKRP in Cincinnati.”

I realize this is nitpicking, but I’m not sure I buy the premise — Abby Stone (Melissa Rauch) has been appointed to the seat formerly held by her father, Judge Harry Stone (Harry Anderson in the original “Night Court”). When she finds herself in need of a public defender, she brings back Dan Fielding (John Larroquette), who was an assistant district attorney on the original show.

If you’re going to bring back Fielding, by now he would logically be the judge — and without Harry Anderson, Markie Post, Charles Robinson, Marsha Warfield and Richard Moll, I’m a little “meh” on the idea anyway.

(Trivia question: What two veterans of old-time radio played the woman bailiff on “Night Court” before Marsha Warfield? Hint: Both of them had ties to “Duffy’s Tavern” and both died, sadly, of lung cancer after years of chain-smoking. Answer at the end.)

Continue reading “At least the set looks nice”

Ouch

In 1965, the Tradewinds asked the musical question, what do you do when your woodie is outside covered in snow? Because I think we all know how painful that could be!

Keep your woodie inside today and listen to the best darn #oldies show in Pittsburgh. 12 noon to 3 on WRCT 88.3FM and http://www.tubecityonline.com/radio

Requests: 412-385-7450 or @ me here

Someone painted ‘April Fool’ in big black letters on a ‘Dead End’ sign

“Dead End” by Drew Maust via Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons BY NC 2.0

I was reading a story in The New Yorker about the pending threat of a strike against United Parcel Service by their Teamsters drivers, and this paragraph brought me up short:

Twenty-six years ago, the sort of friendly rapport that he and many UPS drivers have with their customers helped fuel public support for UPS’s workers when they went on strike with their union, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

I thought, well, wait a minute, that can’t be right. I covered the last UPS strike, and it couldn’t have been 26 years ago. I was working at the McKeesport Daily News and photographer Wade Massie and I went out to take photos of scab drivers crossing a picket line in Pitcairn.

Continue reading “Someone painted ‘April Fool’ in big black letters on a ‘Dead End’ sign”

The healing power of minding your own business

In the Year of Our Lord 2023, some of yinz are out there apparently still critiquing Black people for the hair God gave them.

Royce Jones, a New Kensington native and Point Park grad who now works as a reporter and anchor for KDKA-TV (2), writes on Facebook:

I get a lot of comments about my hair.

Many people (most notably those who look like me) often thank me for the representation and for not being afraid to rock my super fab head of curls, on TV.

Continue reading “The healing power of minding your own business”

Where are we going, and why are we in this handbasket?

If you heard Saturday’s show (repeated Sunday afternoon) you heard a bunch of soundbites from Bert and Ernie of “Sesame Street.” (As opposed to Bert and Ernie of “It’s a Wonderful Life.”)

I don’t mean to disillusion you, but they weren’t in the studio with me — the magic of radio! theater of the mind! — and they also weren’t exclusive to me. Not hardly. They were part of a video series that Elle Magazine has created called “Song Association,” in which celebrities are given a vocabulary word, and then have 10 seconds to think of a song that includes the word.

You can view Bert and Ernie’s entire appearance on YouTube (it’s actually a load of fun — they also sang “If I Had $1,000,000” by Barenaked Ladies, as well as “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” by Randy Newman) and check out the other celebrity videos at the hashtag #SongAssociation. Billie Eilish, Adam Lambert, Olivia Rodrigo and Meghan Trainor have all participated in the long-running series.

Continue reading “Where are we going, and why are we in this handbasket?”