Sunday 28 April 2024

cafรฉ rouge (11. 520)

Often performing in the title nightclub of the Hotel Pennsylvania in midtown Manhattan along with other Big Band ensembles that the spacious venue could host, Glenn Miller and his orchestra recorded his instrumental version of the tune (originally by Jerry Gray with lyrics by Carl Sigman—Numbers I’ve got by the dozen, everyone’s uncle and cousin but I can’t live without buzzing…) on this day in in 1940 at the RCA Victor Studios in New York. One of the oldest telephone exchanges still in use, the accommodations closed permanently in 2020 during the COVID pandemic and lost efforts to declare the building as a candidate for historical preservation (the club itself converted into a basket ball court in its final decade), currently being demolished to make way for new skyscrapers on Penn Plaza. Only Sigman’s refrain was retained after the telephone sound effect, shouted by band members. The foxtrot hit would go on to be recorded by many other artists, with homages and parodies, including Transylvania 6-5000 and Weird Al’s Plumbing Song with the number “Roto-Rooter 6-5000.”


one year ago: a pocket phonograph plus assorted links to revisit

two years ago: Rome’s Cinecittร  plus more links to enjoy

three years ago: the impasses of Paris, antique furniture trade cards plus the animated Dutch version of Lord of the Rings

four years ago: wargaming the next US civil war

five years ago: Ukrainian Easter, the stained glass hall of fame of The Champion pub plus mutiny on the Bounty

Friday 24 November 2023

oh no—my own dog, gone commercial (11. 137)

Via Waxy, we are directed to another soundtrack from Louie Zong (see previously) for a fictional albeit believable 1970s style Peanuts holiday special complete with Vince Guaraldi inspired jazz that captures the ethos not only for the shoppers but those working on Black Friday. Other musical segments include Cyber Monday Blues, Buyer’s Remorse, A New Week and Snoopy vs Capitalism. One could imagine the anti-consumerism messages of the limned out television special plus the harried cashiers and store workers just out the frame speaking with muffled trombone voices.

Wednesday 15 November 2023

that ain’t nothing—just make me your leading man (11. 121)

Our gratitude to Pasa Bon! for the introduction to the musical stylings of King Solomon through the timely and resonant number Political Rag from his 1978 album Energy Crisis (see also). On the touring circuit as an opening act with the likes of B B King, Etta James and Sammy Davis Junior, originally the artist was not much known outside of local venues in Los Angeles and Las Vegas but later gained recognition for his solo career in funk and experimental music. 


one year ago:  assorted links worth revisiting  

two years ago: the Free City of Gdaล„sk

three years ago: more links to enjoy, the Cluttlers Murder (1959) plus Doc “Joe” Baker

four years ago: animated book covers,  more faรงadism plus the ethnography of dialing-codes

five years ago: Little Orphan Annie (1885) plus the musical stylings of Fugiya and Miyagi

Sunday 15 October 2023

queen of jazz (11. 059)

Having recently learned about the career and contributions of the Jazz Age legend Adelaide Hall, we appreciated having her biography limned more fully by the British Newspaper Archive (via Strange Company), gaining an appreciation of how Hall achieved the status of true superstardom in her adoptive UK and was remarkably resilient in her touring and performance schedule, appearing everywhere and adored by audiences. Spanning more than seven decades, Hall was inscribed inscribed in the Guinness Book of World Records among the most enduring recording artists and collaborated with Cab Calloway, Rudy Vallee, Duke Ellington, Josephine Baker and Louis Armstrong among countless others. Here is Hall in 1948 performing one of her signature songs, “A World is Turning,” at the Nightingale Club. More at the links above.

Sunday 24 September 2023

10x10 (11. 020)

osiris-rex: fulfilling a seven-year mission (previously) a space probe to collect samples from an asteroid—with further adventures planned 

succession: Rupert Murdoch’s departure from News Corp is a cold-comfort for the millions brainwashed by Fox and Friends 

be the first to like this post: more on the meaning and origins of the chain of riders and horses dispatched to send missives—see previously  

project cybersyn: more on Salvadore Allende’s plans to build a socialist internet 

fanfare: the history and physics of the trumpet  

shear madness: 1980 reportage on a cutting-edge hair salon in Kensington  

the joke and dagger department: an appreciation of the genius of Spy vs Spy, a political cartoon that wasn’t a political cartoon 

3r’s: the Swedish educational system has a renewed emphasis on handwriting, quiet reading time  

omni consumer products: New York City police lease a robocop to patrol Times Square subway station as a trial run  

all these worlds are yours—except europa, attempt no landing there: the JWST detects carbon on the surface of the Jovian moon

Friday 4 August 2023

10x10 (10. 924)

manufactured crises: distractions and moral panics fabricated by the US GOP and associates  

sachal jazz: Pakistani musicians perform a rendition of David Brubeck’s “Take Five” on tabla and sitar with orchestral accompaniment 

illuminated text: an unfinished medieval manuscript reveals a step-by-step manual for its making  

finishing the hat: Stephen Sondheim’s (previously) Turtle Bay townhouse is on the market 

smiley head: custom screws requiring a special driver—via Pasa Bon!  

f-91w: fully-function ring watches from Casio  

blogoversary: JWZ turns twenty-five 

the partridge family 2200 a.d.: a round up of animated spin-offs  

super fun pak: the novelty cards of Pee-wee’s Playhouse  

now you’re cooking with gas: the culture wars come to the stove 


one year ago: the invention of champagne (1693), the Zone of Galactic Obscuration plus assorted links to revisit

two years ago: an infamous bugging device discovered (1945), the Lady of Elx, pipe architecture, working against one’s own self-interest plus assorted links worth revisiting

three years ago: more miniatures from Tatsuya Tanaka, St Sithney, the patron saint of dogs plus the birthday of Helen Thomas, Barack Obama

four years ago: sounds lost to lossy compression plus bouba or kiki

five years ago: interviews with author Philip K Dick

Wednesday 19 July 2023

6x6 (10. 895)

tijuana brass: Herb Alpert and Lani Hall cover “Maniac” from Flashdance for the Oscars (1984)  

choose your own adventure: the rise and fall of type-in narrative games, an addendum to Fifty Years of Text Games (previously)—via Waxy 

collective nouns: a group of butterflies is properly a kaleidoscope, whilst a swarm of caterpillars is an army—see more 

tayme that crabbe: a medieval guide to food presentation 

the blobs are happy in their new, hand-build wizzinator and that’s all that’s important to me right now: experimenting with a fun physics sandbox—see also  

jennyanydots: a favourite Mountain Goats’ character returns

Sunday 21 May 2023

8x8 (10. 760)

the four republican “freedoms”: the US GOP manifesto is not geared for governance—see previously

little deuce coupe: modern automaker faithfully fashions the unrealised 1974 Pony by Giorgetto Giugiaro (see also)—unveiled in Lake Como 

action kids: a 1965 choreographed work-out to Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass’ rendition of The Third Man theme  

the heart of the ocean: advanced scanning technique produce a digital twin of the wreck of the Titanic  

a corecore experiment: presenting the post-post-post-truth future of AI—see previously  

consider the jackalope: more—see also—on this real, taxidermic cryptid’s origins and implications 

little darlin: the demo-tape from 1992 from an unknown duo that changed their name after reviewer called them “daft punky trash”—see previously  

tax, title and license: the state of Texas to charge electric-vehicle drivers extorted fees to register their cars

Monday 6 February 2023

tetromino (10. 530)

Via the Awesomer, we are treated to the musical stylings of the artist JER and his rendition of the Tetris theme as a super-energising Ska cover. The folksong ‘The Peddlers’ (ะšะพั€ะพะฑะต́ะนะฝะธะบะธ) has a ironical O Henryesque twist—the comedic courtship of two young fabric-sellers takes a tragic turn when one rejects the gift of all of the other’s wares in order to encourage him to stay in the business and ends up being mugged after a successful day of sales—somehow seems ripe for the genre. More chiptune adaptations from The Skatune Network at the link above.

Monday 19 September 2022

last post

Whereas the B♭ version might be more familiar, the E♭ variation is employed by the State Trumpeters of the Household Cavalry and the particular flourish was acquired by British troops garrisoned in the Netherlands (see also), drawing on an older Dutch custom called taptoe—root of a military tattoo or send-off and the North American version of “taps”—signalling the end of the duty day, the solemnity of the taptoe itself adopted as an extension of last call, Doe den tap toe—a reminder to make sure that the beer spigots were closed before shutting down for the evening. More coverage of the historic state funeral, including this ceremony, from the BBC and the Guardian

Sunday 14 August 2022

everybody wants to rule the tuba (10. 060)

Our gratitude to our peripatetic friends at Marco McClean’s Memo of the Air for directing us back to the musical stylings of Seb Skelly (see previously) in his latest perfectly arranged for brass quintet and masterfully performed (all by Skelly) Tears for Fears’ track. Much more to explore at the links above.

Saturday 2 April 2022

frieden / ะผะธั€

H had discovered MEUTE, the techno marching band ensemble, a couple of years ago through their rooftop sessions in Hamburg and were very pleased to be reminded of this absolutely mind-blowing percussive and brass orchestra in their latest performance for peace in Ukraine in an abandoned power-plant (Kraftwerk) in their home town, courtesy of friend of the blog Nag on the Lake. Click through for more information on their recordings and a list of charitable organisations.

Sunday 2 January 2022

eddie calvert & orchestra

The first chart topping hit to come out of the storied Abbey Road recording studio (previously) was the trumpeting-rendition of the nostalgic Swiss-German number “Oh, Mein Papa,” which began a nine-week run on this day in 1954. Known throughout his career as The Man with the Golden Trumpet, Calvert’s other number one hit came the following year with “Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White,” with versions “Miserlou” and “Stranger in Paradise” also later charting.

Monday 23 August 2021


Held annually to propitiate the deity with bonfires and sacrifice at a time when crops and granaries were most prone to burning, the Roman fastus to Vulcan falls on this day in what was originally Sextilis and was part of a larger cycle of agrarian holidays of the summer and the beginning of the harvest season, a human commission as opposed to placating untamed Nature observed in July. Games were held with the additional rituals of hanging clothes on a line out-of-doors and beginning to work after sundown by candle-light darkness already coming noticeably sooner and harnessing the potentially destructive nature of fire for something productive. The tubilustria ceremonies were also held at this time—the ritual purification of trumpets and similar instruments which were considered sacred to Vulcan.

Sunday 27 June 2021


into the bantaverse: a bot ghost-writes a Star Wars story—see also  

green guerrillas: the role that radical gardeners play in fostering community out of urban blight  

earth, wind and fire: combine basic elements and create new substancesas an alchemist—via Waxy  

fourth world: celebrating the life and career of trumpeter and electronic music pioneer Jon Hassell (*1937)

in frame: see the untrimmed, original version of Rembrandt’s Night Watch (previously) thanks to the help of a curating algorithm   

homo longi: recently discovered ‘dragon man’ skull may be a transitional species from Neanderthal to modern humans  

ine bay: hidden, historic boathouses (ไผŠๆ นใฎ่ˆŸๅฑ‹, funaya) in Kyoto—via Nag on the Lake’s always excellent Sunday Links 

the skeleton crew: our friendly artificial intelligencer (previously) trains a neural network to write a horror story

your daily demon: purson

Governing from today through the first of July, the twentieth spirit is an infernal king that commands twenty-two legions. Heralding his own appearance with a mighty blast of trumpets, Purson presents as a man with a lion’s head bearing a viper and astride a bear. Matched with Pahaliah, both with the angelic rank of the Order of Thrones, the demon can be persuaded to reveal the secrets of creation and foster good familiars.

Tuesday 8 December 2020


message in a bottle: researchers tagged plastic waste with electronic trackers to monitor their journey—from the same team that brought us Mister Trash Wheel 

pfizer-biontech: British nonagenarian first to receive the coronavirus vaccine  

wunderpus photogenicus: deep sea diver photographs an incredible infant octopus with a transparent head

toot your own horn: more butt trumpets and other bizarre imagery in manuscript marginalia 

catsa lander mark-1: a gorgeous space-age cat bed—though our feline friends would be more pleased with a shoebox

2014-076a: Hayabusa2 (previously) successfully returns its asteroid sample to Earth

Monday 30 November 2020


The 1956 sponsored projector-reel short having fallen into obscurity until lambasted as an MST3K episode (previously) interstitial, airing first on this date in 1991 was meant to be shown during class assemblies to encourage budding musicians and was commission by the C.G. Conn company that manufactured and marketed a range of brass instruments.

The eponymous title character is short of an androgynous pixie that embodies the sense of fun in music with an additional biography in their 1957 circular Baton that was issued to American public school music programme teachers—“Mister B Natural is the spirit of music in everyone… a sort of LepreCONN who is always no more than an inch anyway from the fingertips of anyone. Mister B has a code, however, that prohibits him from showing himself for anyone unless he reaches out and calls for the spirit of music.” A withdrawn and reticent pre-teen named Buzz summons Mister B, whom through a range of magic, music and dance convinces him to take up the trumpet. Bruce “Buzz” Podewell (his own nickname, also appearing on Watch Mister Wizard and would have perhaps been familiar to the target audience) went on to become a professor of theatre and dance and taught for four decades at Tulane University in New Orleans. Mister B Natural was the last role of long time (“Knew your father I did”) Broadway and television personality Betty Luster.

Saturday 25 January 2020

the wedding march

Originally written as a piece of incidental music for productions of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream around 1842, Felix Mendelssohn’s processional in C Major did not become standard matrimonial canon until when on this day in 1858 it was selected by Victoria, Princess Royal, for her marriage ceremony to Friedrich (“Fritz”) Wilhelm, Prince of Prussia and future albeit short-reigning king—in 1888, the Year of the Three Emperors.
The recessional piece played on the pipe organ is often accompanied with the chorus from Richard Wagner’s Lohengrin (Treulich gefรผhrt but colloquially known as “Here Comes the Bride) or baroque composer Jeremiah Clarke’s Prince of Denmark’s March (Prins Jรธrgens March or Trumpet Voluntary) to play in the bride. Though the first tune may be the most culturally resonant, the last was used as the signature tune and introductory first few bars used by the BBC during broadcasts directed toward Nazi-occupied Denmark during World War II, the march being a symbolic connection between the two kingdoms. For decades afterwards, it remained the call sign of BBC World Service for Europe and was for the Soviet public BBC’s station identification for its Russian language programming.  A selection of the melodies are below:

Tuesday 11 September 2018

miss simpson, do you find something funny about the word tromboner?

For this year’s International Trombone Festival, the talented Christopher Bill brought together a big ensemble of fellow players to produce an epic brass cover of the Queen song “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Learn more at Laughing Squid about the organiser, contributors and the fest.