Archive for December, 2007

Audio Time Machine

December 28, 2007
Just in time for New Year’s… now you too can travel back in time!

I’ve always wanted to be a time traveler, but the next best thing is to bring the past into modern day. That spirit

is what led me to the Cylinder Archive and the 78rpm archive, both being websites devoted to preserving early

phonographic material from 1890-1950. I’ve had lots of fun browsing the quaint audio artifacts therein, and I present

here some of the best picks for each year that I’ve so far found, including very influential artists and songs from the

history of opera, jazz, pop, and blues. This list is far from comprehensive and there are many other worthwhile tunes

beyond these. If you dig this even half as much as I did, then my work here is done. Click on a song’s title to play

it, but please be patient with’s slow servers.

1878 ~ Frank Lambert ~ Experimental Talking Clock (believed to be the world’s oldest playable

recording, poor quality, hosted at

1888 ~ Arthur Sullivan ~ The Lost Chord (believed to be the world’s oldest

surviving musical recording, very faint)

1895 ~ Manhassett Quartette ~ The

Old Folks at Home

1898 ~ Edison Symphony Orchestra ~ The

Forge in the Forest

1899 ~ 71st Regiment Band ~ Under the Double

Eagle March

1900 ~ Columbia Orchestra ~ Narcissus

1902 ~ Enrico Caruso ~ Vesti La Giubba

1903 ~ Arthur Leonard ~ Skylark

1904 ~ John W. Myers ~ I Dreamt That I

Dwelt in Marble Halls

1905 ~ Edison Military Band ~ The

Whistler and His Dog

1906 ~ Ada Jones ~ I Remember You

1907 ~ August Molinari ~ Street Piano


1908 ~ Albert Benzler ~ Lollypops

1909 ~ American Symphony Orchestra ~ Ripples (a serenade)

1910 ~ Billy Murray ~ Casey Jones

1911 ~ Lucy Isabelle Marsh ~ Italian Street Song

1912 ~ Enrico Caruso ~ Because

1913 ~ Edison Military Band ~ Hungarian

Rag / One Step

1914 ~ Dr. Clarence Penney ~ Toots

1915 ~ Victor Military Band ~ Booster Fox Trot (an

American Absurdity)

1916 ~ Don Richardson ~ Arkansas


1917 ~ Arthur Fields ~ Goodbye Broadway, Hello France

1918 ~ Amparito Farrar ~ Madelon

1919 ~ All Star Trio ~ I’ll Say She Does

1920 ~ Art Hickman’s Orchestra – The Love Nest

1921 ~ Original Dixieland Jazz Band

with Al Bernard ~ St. Louis Blues

1922 ~ Leona Williams ~ Struttin’


1923 ~ Robert Denning ~ Keep It Under

Your Hat

1924 ~ Paul Whiteman and George Gershwin ~ Rhapsody in Blue (part 2)

1925 ~ Georgia Melodians ~ Red Hot Henry


1926 ~ Peerless Quartet with Henry Burr and Billy Murray ~ My Dream of the Big Parade

1927 ~ Aileen Stanley and Johnny Marvin ~ Under the Moon

1928 ~ Blind Willie McTell ~ Statesboro Blues

1929 ~ Eddie Cantor ~ Hungry Women

1930 ~ Jimmie Rogers ~ Hobo Bill’s Last Ride

1931 ~ Al Dollar and His Ten Cent Band with Billy Murray ~ Popeye the Sailor Man

1932 ~ Paul Whiteman with Mildred Bailey ~ All of Me

1934 ~ Paul Whiteman with Ramona Davies ~ Anything Goes

1936 ~ Paul Whiteman with Johnny Hauser ~ Gloomy Sunday

Okay, ready to lobby for VH1’s "I love the 1910s"?

Nifty WIkipedia Thing: Nixie tubes

Movies I’ve Seen:

His Girl Friday (1940)

What I’m Reading:

"On the Road" by Jack Kerouac

Hannukah in California

December 19, 2007

Evelyn and I spent all eight nights of Hannukah in California this year, visiting with her parents near Santa Barbara. I’d been looking forward to the vacation for weeks earlier, and it was good to get away from the daily grind for so long. I spent a large part of the vacation setting up my in-laws’ new computer, an HP desktop model from last spring that they hadn’t figured out how to set up. Their old PC was from about 1998, so they were leaping straight from Win98 to Vista. I knew it would be more complex than just plugging in the new machine, and it took a lot more work than I expected it would take. Even the old speakers weren’t compatible with the new PC!

I also spent some time playing games. At the Hannukah party I taught a bored-looking family how to play Fluxx, which took a few rounds for them to get used to, but seeing them smile at the Jewish Fluxx add-ins was worth it. Also, my father-in-law enjoyed learning how to play Waterworks and Aquarius. And to our delight, my new tile game Wanderlust fits perfectly on an airline tray table! I have PDFs available if you’d like to try my latest game design. I think it’s ready for publishing!

On the sightseeing front, we took a brief tour of the Santa Barbara County Courthouse, which had very interesting period architecture and some great murals. The next stop was at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, which is one of the better small galleries I’ve been in over the years.

But the highlight of the trip was when we went flying. Evelyn’s family friend Frank took us up in the air in his Rockwell 112 four-seater. We flew up and down the California coast for a few hours, taking in the rugged Santa Maria mountainscape from our vantage point while the pilots practiced some simple turns and maneuvers. Toward the end, we made several practice landings in a crosswind before calling it a day. Thanks for the flight, Frank!

P.S.: I broke the record for oldest book I’ve held in my hands… a calculus text from 1838!

Since my return, I’ve also played a new game, Amazing Space Venture. It’s a nice attempt to mix European "let’s build something together" strategy with American "take that" action. Considering all the rules questions we came up with in the first session alone, it’s a little more complex than it looks. I’d be willing to try it again, just not for a while.

My spree of spending dollar coins and $2 bills around town continues. I’ve found $2’s to be the easiest of the ‘weird money’ to get from banks, and several cashiers have insisted that I shouldn’t be spending them "because they are so rare". Hardly… after seeing hundreds of dollars worth of them, the myth of rarity quickly evaporates.

As I type this, Evelyn is making a draft snake for the bedroom window, to keep the winter drafts from chilling us.

Oooh, I nearly forgot to mention it! Ian soldered my old record player back into working order, the one that came built into the 1970s stereo cabinet Dad bought for me. I was glad to discover that the needle was still in good shape. Now I can play records from 16 to 78 rpm, bwa ha ha! My vinyl collection is just one disc so far, but I’ll keep my eyes open for more discoveries.

A political slogan: Listening is the linchpin of democracy.

An office slogan: The eager volunteer quickly finds himself with plenty of work.

Nifty Wikipedia Thing: The Uncanny Valley

Amusing Internet Video: The Complaints Choir of Helsinki

Movies I’ve Seen:

A Farewell to Arms (1932) ~ faithful adaptation of Hemingway’s classic novel

Cyrano de Bergerac (1950) ~ faithful adaptation of Rostand’s classic novel

National Treasure (2004) ~ tongue-in-cheek playtime with history

The Polar Express (2004) ~ CGI-fueled Xmas tale, Hanks-apalooza

What I’m Reading:

"On the Road" by Jack Kerouac