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January 31, 2006

Jerry Blavat Hijacked

For a long time, I’ve wanted a “VCR for radio” so I could time-shift radio programs. Maybe there is such a thing, but I never saw one, although I guess I could have rigged up a tape recorder and a timer... if I were MacGyver. Now that most radio stations can be heard online, software has made my dream come true as there are several apps available that can record on a schedule. The two I looked at are WireTap Pro and Audio Hijack Pro. (I guess I’m a sucker for anything named Pro). I decided on Audio Hijack Pro, which works by “hijacking” the audio output from an application. Because it can record from a specific application instead of just taping the system output, it is possible to record two programs at once, or listen to one program while recording another.

Before leaving for work Saturday night, I set the timer to record Jerry Blavat’s new show on WXPN, “The Geator’s Rock and Roll Rhythm & Blues Express.” When I posted about this new show, I was incredulous that Blavat had found a welcoming home at WXPN. I hadn’t heard Jerry Blavat on the air in over 30 years, so I was very curious to hear just how much he would clash with the XPN gestalt. I imagined his show would be some kind of oldies/nostalgia festival, but Blavat introduced his selections with fascinating historical anecdotes about the music, the musicians, and the record industry. I like a little history with my music, and enjoy shows like “American Routes” and Philly’s own “The Historical Approach to the Positive Music,” hosted by Harrison Ridley, Jr., so this show hit my weak spot hard. At one point, Jerry even said, “We not only play, we not only explore, we also educate.” I’m all ears, professor.

This episode covered the Chicago music scene in the Fifties. After listening to a few songs, most of which were new to me, I began to understand why the show is called “Rock and Roll Rhythm & Blues.” Many of these songs really were hybrids of both styles.

By the way, Audio Hijack performed flawlessly. I chose 8 kHz mono for the recording, so not only did the whole hour take up only 60 megabytes, but the audio quality reminded me of AM radio where so much of this music made its debut. The show was scheduled to last an hour, but it was rudely interrupted by Penn basketball coverage. In spite of that, you can bet I’ll be renewing my WXPN membership.


thanks for the article on the geator. i also was a yon teenager when jerry was at his hight in the early 60's. i grew up in the northeast section of philly called tacony and i never missed one hop or dance he ever did. whether it was at chez vous in west philly, wagoners,riverside in jersey or the old concord roller rink on frankford ave in the northeast i was there. we had a set crew of the nixon brothers,jerry carrachhio, johnny dominic,myself and an assorted slew of gorgeous girls to dance with. jerry even tagged me with the name "dscophonic ralph".lol thanks for the memories.i live in central jersey now, but i miss him and his show....

i was a dance r on the jerry blavat show when i was about 13 years old. i lived in the navy projects in south philly.

help me found out how to obtainsome ffotage so i can see myself as one of the "first soul train girls" (joke)

if you can help me email me back.


Althea, Awesome, you must have some amazing memories of those days. Take a look at the videos on YouTube uploaded by breezeway311. Here's an example GEATOR WITH THE HEATER!!! #5

I have enjoyed listening to the geater while checking mail etc. I can't get on now the web site states forbidden?? Anyone to direct me to his site that plays archived shows will be appreciated.

Ron, No idea, but you're right, the Geator Gold site is giving me a "forbidden" error. Keep checking back, I guess. WXPN only has his last couple shows available.

Don't know if anyone will see this as the last post is 2010 but the updated site is Also you can hear the last 3 archived shows from WXPN at - programs - Geator R&R (that's how it's listed) His Cruisin' 92.1 show is streamed live on weekdays 5-7 pm and at 7-9 pm weekdays. XPN show is 6-7p Saturdays. Keep on rockin!

Thanks for the updated web site info, much appreciated!

January 25, 2006

Considering Yojimbo and Chandler

Yojimbo, a new information organizer from Bare Bones Software, was released Monday. I haven’t warmed up to the name yet, but at least it’s a real name unlike Word or Mail. (Sheesh.)

Does the world need another PIM, especially a Cocoa-based one that looks like all the others? Well, sure, if it’s great. There’s always room at the top, but it would have to be really good to get anyone to go to the trouble of moving all their stuff into another application, though. I practically live in BBEdit, so I’m inclined to look favorably on anything that comes out of Bare Bones’ workshops, even though I never adopted any of their other products. I took the demo for a spin and short story shorter, I don’t think I’ll be moving in.

After a day I was getting tired of those large icons (good thing you can switch to small icons). I thought it a little odd that none of the built-in Collections except the Library accept drops. These Collections simply collect like items together. You’ll need to make your own Collections (folders) to start dropping things in—and that’s when I lost interest. Unless I’m missing something, Yojimbo is flat. You can only have one file and within that you can’t nest collections to create a hierarchy. Still, I liked the Drop Dock, a little tab that pokes in from the side that accepts dragged droppings into your Collections. Check it out and decide for yourself.

While I’m feeling dismissive, I should also mention that I took a look at Chandler recently, an “interpersonal information manager that adapts to your changing needs” from the Open Source Applications Foundation. Currently at version point 6, Chandler “delivers an experimentally usable calendar for individuals and small workgroups. It is a test release for collecting feedback based on real usage. In addition to basic calendaring, advanced features include: recurring events; time-zones; overlayed multiple calendars; and managing a single event across calendars.”

I was astonished at the size of this thing. Chandler consists of nearly 6,000 files totaling 182 megabytes. It takes twice as long to launch as Photoshop, which is the slowest app I have. I’m not criticizing it or anything, but I’m just bewildered. What is all that code doing?

January 21, 2006

Six Degrees of Separation... or Fewer

I see that Albert is making good use of his new ultra-wide lens, a Tokina 12-24mm f/4 DX (see Bumrunner live at the North Star Bar). So I’m admiring the photos and reading about Bumrunner, listening to the latest cuts (“Surgeon” and “Hot”) on their site, and notice the name Lydia Giordano. OK, that rings a little bell. I’ve known a jazz guitarist named Steve Giordano for a long time. We even worked together at a Sunday brunch at the Striped Bass a few years ago. Turns out Steve is Lydia’s father. I’m stunned. What are the chances of me having any connection whatsoever with any of the bands in this city? Close to zero, I would think. But I shouldn’t be surprised at all. All the musicians in my generation have kids who are now old enough to have their own bands... That adds up to a lot of connections—even if it makes me feel old. Let’s see, two of these guys I already knew about. I remember when they were eensy weensy widdle babies. And one of these guys as well. Who else, I wonder?

January 20, 2006

Pennsauken Animal Shelter Is Closing

I know we’re just so all about cats here at mere cat, but we have room in our hearts for dogs when they’re in need. I heard today that the West Jersey Animal Shelter is closing January 25. The bad news is that the shelter’s owner has had her license revoked following some serious allegations about conditions there not due to cruelty, but mostly to overcrowding brought on by the shelter’s no-kill policy. The good news is that the shelter will not be closing permanently, but only long enough to undergo some extensive renovations to improve conditions and address the allegations. Meanwhile, the shelter has 28 dogs to move or place before they are forced to close next week. Any dogs who are not adopted by then will be moved to temporary housing; they are requesting donations to defray the cost of housing the dogs elsewhere. Donations can be made through PayPal at the West Jersey Animal Shelter web site.

January 19, 2006

It’s Meetup Time Again

This Saturday, the Philly Blogger meetup group will meet up for grub, grog, and scintillating conversation (except for me saying “What?” a lot; I don’t hear well in bars). We are sneaking up on a one-year anniversary for this, the “active” meetup group (there is, or was, an earlier group that languished itself right out of existence).

I originally discovered when I was looking for opportunities to speak French with real, live people. Sure enough, there is a French meetup group in town, but they meet at some odd French time that is inconvenient. (Truthfully, I’m just too scared to go.) Then I discovered the Philly Blogger Meetup. I was still scared, not being much of a blogger, but I went anyway and had a terrific time.

Philly isn’t the only city with a blogger meetup. There are 16 others, 10 of which have synchronized meetings on the third Wednesday of the month, branded as United Weblogger Meetup Day. The Philly meetup doesn’t do that because somebody’s got to be blogging on those Wednesdays. I tell ya. What were they thinking?

I’ll keep this short, because blogging about blogging is kind of boring, I think, but blogging about drinking, hey, that’s another story. This Saturday, I will try to fit a month’s worth of drinking in one day. Maybe the Irish dancers from last month will favor us with a repeat performance. If I have enough to drink, maybe I’ll join them.

Details here.

January 17, 2006

Back to School

We headed down to the University of Pennsylvania yesterday so Anne could finalize her online account for a course she is taking. I went along for the ride, hoping to renew my alumni card, which expired two years ago, but the office was closed.

We stopped for lunch at Cavanaugh’s on 39th Street. The last time we were there, the place was packed; today it was deserted. I ordered a scrumptious sausage sandwich on a crusty roll that was bursting with peppers. Cavanaugh’s has a large beer selection, so it was difficult making a choice. I finally decided on one that was new to me, Flying Fish’s Abbey Dubbel. I usually like dark beer, but I didn’t care for this at all, even though Flying Fish describes it as an ideal accompaniment to sausage and other savory foods. The real highlight of the meal was Anne’s beer, Blue Moon Belgian wheat—very light and simply delicious. I was kind of surprised to learn this beer was produced by Coors.

January 12, 2006

Meme of Five

Sure, I’m up for the odd meme now and then (Mrs. Harridan tagged me two weeks ago for the meme of five).

What were you doing 10 years ago?
Working at my first day job, getting hooked on programming, and paying off my student loan.
What were you doing a year ago?
Same old, same old: formulating my plans for world domination, a work that continues unabated to this day.
5 snacks you enjoy?
Not much of a snacker, but here goes.
  1. Wine and cheese
  2. Combos (cheddar-cheese pretzel)
  3. Peanut butter toast
  4. Anything salty, especially pretzels
  5. Popcorn, Smart Food, Screaming Yellow Zonkers
5 songs you know all the lyrics to:
All the lyrics? That’s easy: “Happy Birthday” and the first verse of the “Star-Spangled Banner.” I know, pathetic.
5 things you would do if you were a millionaire:
I think the purpose of this question is to entertain you all with all the frivolous, self-indulgent crap I would buy. In reality, I would invest some of the money for retirement, help out some friends, and make some donations. Fantasizing for the purpose of this meme, however, is more difficult. Since I don’t anticipate ever having much disposable income, I don’t have much of a wish list, but here’s what I would buy:
  1. Land Rover Series III long-wheelbase with the Fairey overdrive.
  2. Helicopter flying lessons. A million dollars isn’t enough for my own helicopter.
  3. Antiques, especially American pieces made between 1750 and 1850 or so (Chippendale and Duncan Phyfe especially).
  4. I would make a start collecting art and photography, mostly 20th century.
  5. A ton of cameras, mostly film. The ways things are going, I can have all the film cameras I want for pennies on the dollar, and I want them all.
5 bad habits:
I am riddled with bad habits, I just won’t admit to any of them. Hey, that’s a bad habit right there! OK, here’s two more.
  1. Not flossing regularly
  2. Leaving things lying around, not closing doors, general sloppiness
5 things I like doing:
  1. Living with Anne
  2. Cooking and eating
  3. Photography and all that it entails
  4. Visiting Maine and having a lobster roll (or ten)
  5. I guess I must like blogging, too.

January 10, 2006

Mood: Smugger

Post-Stevenote, I am even smugger today than yesterday. Steve introduced a new laptop, the first with Intel Inside (“New Engine. Same Soul.”), with a 15-inch screen. The entire existing PowerBook line continues to be available (although I don’t think they’ll sell too many 15-inch PowerBooks). There is no new 12-inch model, so I’m still smug because the 12-inch I own is still the latest model available. Let’s keep all this in perspective, however. The laptop I’m so smug about is, after all, at the bottom of the line as of a year ago. For me, though, it’s more than adequate. Who knows how long it will be before a replacement is available. Maybe by that time I’ll finally be used to that awful name: MacBook Pro. Eww.

Tuesdays with Mori: Scripting

On the Hog Bay Software site, I read a tip by Leo Laporte describing how to create a new entry in Mori from Quicksilver using AppleScript. Cool as that was, what I wanted to do was use Quicksilver to append text to an existing Mori entry the same way you can with text files. I changed Leo’s script to do that and was planning to post the results here, but a further search revealed I was reinventing the wheel; this topic was already discussed. In fact, there is a whole folder of AppleScript examples.

January 9, 2006

Mood: Smug

On the eve of what I am predicting will be a memorable Stevenote, I’ve been thinking about how smart I am. Kind of basking in a smug glow of self-satisfaction. Maybe “smart” isn’t the right word. (If I were really smart, I would know the right word, now wouldn’t I?) How about “lucky”? Is lucky as good as smart? I’ll settle for lucky. Whatever. I’m still smug.

It all started at the beginning of 2005 when I decided I was finally ready for a new PowerBook. As with any high-tech purchase, I wrung the skin off my hands over whether it was the right time to buy. Nothing hurts a geek like buying a new computer and having its shinier replacement introduced a week later. I was pretty confident I was on solid ground though. The PowerBooks had just been speed-bumped, and it was my opinion that Apple might never put a G5 processor in the 12-inch PowerBook. So why wait any longer?

Here it is a year later, and here’s where the smugness comes in. The 12-inch PowerBook is basically unchanged from a year ago, so I still have the current model after an entire year. I believe a hearty woo-hoo is called for. But wait, it gets better. By the time I’m ready to replace my laptop, the new Intel PowerBooks will be in their second generation at least, and it will again be a good time to buy. Yep, smug is the mood for today, but honestly, I’m far more lucky than smart.

January 4, 2006

Save the Misheard Lyrics Sites

About a month ago, the Music Publishing Association threatened to shut down pearLyrics, a P2P app which hooks you up with lyrics for songs in your iTunes library. Pear pulled the plug after receiving a cease-and-desist letter. The somewhat happy ending is that the stink this incident raised ultimately caused the MPA to apologize to pearLyrics’ Walter Ritter (pearLyrics has nevertheless not returned to availability). Basically the MPA targeted the wrong guy, and they are regrouping to target larger web sites that derive revenue from hosting lyrics illegally. (Article at Billboard.) I wouldn’t miss these sites if they disappeared, because they aren’t hosting the real lyrics anyway. The real lyrics can only be found at sites that mistakenly call them “misheard,” such as Am I Right. I can’t tell what people are singing half the time (make that 31/32 of the time—I was never good at fractions), so as far as I’m concerned, the misheard lyrics are the real ones. Many of them are improvements over the allegedly original ones, that’s for sure. OK, OK, I am easily amused. I’m just hoping the MPA leaves the misheard lyrics sites alone. Now, excuse me while I kiss this guy.

January 3, 2006

Give the Gift of Scofield

Here it is the third day of January, and I am just beginning to recover from New Year’s Eve. Yes, it was quite a night of drunkenness, debauchery, and revelry—except for the drunkenness and debauchery part.

My sister-in-law Carol and her husband John visited us to help us ring in the New Year and to meet the newest mere cat, Samson. After the four of us had a fine dinner out at a local restaurant, we played a game of Scrabble. I must have played Scrabble at some point in my life, but it had been decades. By the end of the game, I was in a class by myself, soundly thrashed by everyone, achieving a score less than half of anyone else’s. Despite the drubbing, I would play again in a second, though. It was a good mental workout and fun to boot.

In preparation for the evening, we dusted off the TV and plugged it in so we could watch the ball drop. Carol used to live a few blocks from Times Square, and she remarked that she only walked there to watch the ball once when she was showing a visitor the sights. As much as I enjoy the energy of crowds, I can’t imagine standing in the cold all day just to watch a ball drop. After the Scrabble game, we poured a fine California champagne they brought, Roederer Estate Anderson Valley Brut, and refreshed the cheese plate in anticipation of the countdown. The TV coverage on NBC-10 (I think) was good. After midnight passed, they cut away from New York to show the Philadelphia fireworks without any gratuitous color commentary. That was nice, and a refreshing change from “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.” I am proud to say I used the last leap second of 2005 wisely by spending it deliberating thoughtfully over my list of resolutions. The next morning we tucked into waffles and watched some of the Mummers. Thus ended 2005. It was a great year.

For Christmas, John bought me a vinyl LP of John Scofield’s 1981 release, “Bar Talk.” (That’s not all I got. I also received Scofield’s newest CD, “That’s What I Say: A Tribute to Ray Charles,” and the concert DVD “Live 3 Ways,” so it was quite the Scofield Christmas.) I didn’t “discover” Scofield until the late Eighties, so it was interesting to hear this proto-Sco. It’s a fine record, but I can honestly say I would never have identified the playing as his. I recorded the Scofield LP onto my laptop using my newest software find, the open-source program Audacity, so I could listen to it on the train. So here I am back on the train with my snazzy new earbuds, head bobbing, heading back to the grind.