Viewer discretion advised

First rule of Facebook Community Standards: You can’t talk about Facebook Community Standards

I got this press release and thought, “Wow, the Allegheny County Democrats really have the knives out for Bethany Hallam.”

I posted that comment to Facebook, and immediately got a “WARNING.”

“Your post goes against Facebook’s Community Standards and has been removed.”

I thought, well, maybe Facebook objects to the term “knife.”

In that case, I’d better not discuss any lighthearted mystery movies starring Daniel Craig, or Bryan Adams’ third studio album, or even Bobby Darin’s most famous song, “Mack the Violation of Facebook Community Standards.”

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Got a feelin’ the sun will be gone, the day will be long and blue

If a cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind, what is an empty desk the sign of? Here are some cluttered items from an empty mind.

Today’s trivia question: I’ve recently heard three different instrumental versions of this song on the radio—on WZUM (1550/101.1) and Eric O’Brien’s “Smooth, Relaxing & Easy,” which airs Saturdays on WRCT and Tube City Online Radio, following my show.

If you’re a child of the 1970s or ’80s, you probably know the tune. But can you recognize it from the seldom-heard lyrics? Here they are:

Got a feelin’ it’s all over now
All over now, we’re through
And tomorrow I’ll be lonesome,
Remembering you.
Got a feelin’ the sun will be gone
The day will be long and blue
And tomorrow I’ll be cryin’
Remembering you.
There’s a faraway look in your eye
When you try to pretend to me,
That everything is the same as it used to be.
I see it’s all over now—
All over now, we’re through,
And tomorrow I’ll be startin’
Remembering you.

Do you recognize the tune? Answer at the end of this column.

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CQ cartoon, April 2023

Cartoon from the April 2023 issue of CQ Amateur Radio Magazine

(As always, a reminder that these cartoons are posted after they’ve appeared in CQ Amateur Radio Magazine. Why not subscribe today?)

This is true: Remember the freak-out a few months ago when a Chinese “spy balloon” was observed crossing into U.S. airspace, and Republicans and Fox News (but I repeat myself) lost their ever-loving minds, demanding that Sleepy Joe Biden do something and the military was ordered to shoot down any more “spy balloons”?

Well, at least one of the “spy balloons” shot down by the U.S. military in February was apparently an observation balloon launched by a ham radio club.

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I’ve got a dream house I’ll build there some day

A few notes on “Dear Hearts & Gentle People,” and not-so-dear-hearts or gentle people.

Tuesday morning get-up-and-get-motivated song:

I thought he was supposed to be “Mr. Relaxation”

Canonsburg’s Perry Como is rightfully known for his laid-back, almost somnolent stage presence — memorably parodied by Eugene Levy on “SCTV” — but for my money, his relaxed style was really outstanding when he sang against an uptempo arrangement like this one.

From his 1959 album, “Como Swings,” this version of the song was arranged by Joe Lipman. The orchestra is conducted by Mitchell Ayres, Como’s longtime bandleader, who also worked with Connie Francis, Frank Sinatra and others become becoming the music director on ABC’s “Hollywood Palace” until his untimely death in 1969.

“Dear Hearts & Gentle People,” written by Sammy Fain and Bob Hilliard, has a Pittsburgh connection beyond Como’s recordings of the song. It’s based on the last words of Pittsburgh native Stephen Foster.

This scrap of paper was found in his wallet when he died in January 1864 and researchers speculated it was an idea for a song:

Stephen Foster Collection, University of Pittsburgh

I don’t know that Foster ever envisioned Fain and Hilliard’s jaunty lyrics or a swinging RCA Victor Living Stereo recording.

Trivia Question: Which artist featured on the soundtrack of “Pulp Fiction” covered “Dear Hearts & Gentle People” in 1961? Answer at the end.

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Your compliments and cutting remarks are captured here in my quotation marks

(Sorry about the lack of posts last week. It was a week with five Mondays.)

I changed jobs in 2022, which means I’m working in Oakland again for the first time since 2016. One of the first things I did when I moved into my new office was to bring in my “smart books.”

“Smart books” is a phrase I borrowed from the late Doug Hoerth, who used to talk about the reference works he kept in the studio to answer questions from listeners.

In the pre-Internet age, listeners would call Hoerth’s show on WTKN, then WTAE and finally WPTT, trying to get the answers to questions like “who was that one actor who starred in that movie?” or “what was the one-hit wonder that recorded that oldie?”

If Hoerth didn’t know the answer, he’d throw the question out to his audience (“the smartest audience in the world,” he said) or he’d look it up in one of his “smart books.”

I may not have as many listeners as Doug Hoerth, but at least I have my smart books. They include three dictionaries, three news-writing style manuals, and two New York Public Library desk references.

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He just drifted into town and stayed all alone

A couple of programming notes:

I’ll have an all-new show on Saturday (March 25) but I will be pre-recording it. If you have a request, “queue up early,” as Phil Musick used to say. You can leave a request on the studio hotline voicemail at 412-385-7450, email, or post it in the comments section here.

I’ll be at the Arsenal Bowl on Sunday night (March 26) for our monthly Sunday night oldies party, spinnin’ the hits that give you fits in the Burgh of Pitts, to quote Jack Bogut. Someday soon I’d like to start bringing some vinyl with me and playing 45s. I have a suitcase turntable and I need to get it working one of these days. For now, we use those new-fangled compact discs.

Did you see, by the way, that in 2022, vinyl records outsold compact discs for the first time since 1987? It’s true:

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Sorry seems to be the hardest word

NEWS ITEM: An administrator at Vanderbilt University has apologized after it was revealed that an email to students offering condolences following a mass shooting at Michigan State University was written by an automated text-generation tool.

The Peabody College of Education & Human Development sent an email on Feb. 16 saying that “the recent Michigan shootings are a tragic reminder of the importance of taking care of each other, particularly in the context of creating inclusive environments. As members of the Peabody campus community, we must reflect on the impact of such an event and take steps to ensure that we are doing our best to create a safe and inclusive environment for all.”

A note at the bottom stated the message had been written by ChatGPT, an AI text generator.

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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