14 Feb

“It’s — it’s murder in there”

While searching for something else I stumbled on this transcript of a 1968 Letter from America by Alistair Cooke. He was there when Robert F. Kennedy was shot, and his first person account, written awfully close to the shock of the moment, is intense:

“There was a head on the floor, streaming blood and somebody put a Kennedy boater under it and the blood trickled down like chocolate sauce on an ice cake. There were flash lights by now and the button eyes of Ethel Kennedy turned to cinders. She was slapping a young man and he was saying ‘Listen lady, I’m hurt too’ — and down on the greasy floor was a huddle of clothes and staring out of it the face of Bobby Kennedy, like the stone face of a child, lying on a cathedral tomb.”

09 Feb

Terry Jones gets back at the Renaissance

“The main reason I wanted to make Medieval Lives was to get my own back on the Renaissance. It’s not that the Renaissance has ever done me any harm personally, you understand. It’s just that I’m sick of the way people’s eyes light up when they start talking about the Renaissance. I’m sick of the way art critics tend to say: ‘Aaaah! The Renaissance!’ with that deeply self-satisfied air of someone who is at last getting down to the Real Thing. And I’m sick to death of that ridiculous assumption that that before the Renaissance human beings had no sense of individuality.”

So begins Terry Jones’ explanation of why he made the TV series Medieval Lives. Jones was a Python, yes, but he’s also a “renowned scholar of medieval literature and history” who has a gift for making history not dry and boring, but funny and interesting. If you haven’t yet seen Medieval Lives, check it out.

18 Jan

Everything you might want to know about Oceania

Jane’s Oceania Home Page is a fascinating compendium of information about the islands of Polynesia, Micronesia, and Melanesia. The site is not well-organized, so at first glance its depth might not be apparent — but it’s a vast amount of cultural and historical content.

Just a few examples of what can be found there:

You can spend hours just bouncing from page to page reading interesting things about the islands. I wish the site’s design and organization was a little better, but even despite that I think it’s quite wonderful.

20 Nov

Format changes and new frequencies

The Vancouver Radio Museum Time Tunnel is interesting in the same way that the list of stamp-issuing entities I posted about the other day is, I think. It’s just basically a list of the radio and tv stations in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, and how they changed over the years. Sounds dry, does it? Yet somehow, it isn’t. Excerpts:

1998 July 21: ORCA FM officially signs on the air with ?All whales . . all the time? at 88.5 FM within 15 km of Robson Bight and at the Vancouver Aquarium.

You’ve gotta wonder about that one. Then there are the format changes:

2000 Sept. 2: CJVI AM 900 Victoria signs off the air unceremoniously at 5:05 pm after over 78 years of continuous broadcasting.? Last song played was the Fortunes “You’ve Got Your Troubles.” At 5:06 pm CHTT (HOT 103) FM 103.1 signs on with today?s hit music with? ?N Sync?s ?Bye, Bye, Bye?.

2001 Jan. 31: CKLG 730 signs off 1 day short of 46 years on the air.? At midnight following the playing of Sarah McLaughlin?s ?I Will Remember You?? NW2 launches with 24-hour news radio powered by CKNW.

1979 Jan. 6: At noon, CKLG FM? signed off the air with The Beatles: ?The End?? followed by the Doors: ?The End.?.? After being off the air for just over 3 minutes, the sound of ocean waves and an introduction of CFOX FM 99.3was heard.? It?s first song was Steely Dan?s? ?FM?.

Yup, it’s the format changes that really interest me here — the discordant shifts from oldies, to jazz, to Christian, to news; the poignant songs chosen to end each station’s broadcast life; the songs chosen to begin the new formats; and the constant changes in station names, from the 60s when most stations were known directly by their call letters, to the 80s-early 90s when the names started to be more abbreviated and catchy, to the 2000s when stations have names like “Jack FM”, “The Team”, “The Wolf”, and “Mountain FM.” (Seattle has “The Mountain,” as well.)

I can’t pick up most of the Vancouver stations (except sometimes AM stations, at night), so this is mostly an academic interest. I wish there was a site like this focusing on Seattle stations.

18 Nov

Elobey, Annobon and Corisco

No, they’re not new brand names for food products. They are a group of islands off West Africa, that issued their own postage from 1903-1909. Along with such obscure places as Eastern Remulia, Eupen and Malmedy, Dedeagatch, Cilicia, and Bhor, they are listed in the Linn’s Stamp News list of Stamp Issuing Entities Of The World. “But wait,” you say, “I don’t collect stamps.” Doesn’t matter. The list is great — each place has a paragraph or two of description, describing the political history of the locale, not just the philatelic history. It’s truly fascinating to read about these nations or states that are mostly forgotten now, and what happened to them. I suppose perhaps you have to be a certain sort of geek to enjoy this sort of thing; I am clearly that sort of geek.

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