Category Archives: Songs

Love Storm, Revisited

This morning at 9am, my good friend Mike Pengra will re-air the final broadcast of MPR’s Morning Show on Radio Heartland, recorded 6 years ago today.

Such a kind gesture from a true gentleman!

Since it’s only good manners to bring a gift of some sort to a party, I’ll offer this – a post from the old “Trail Balloon” blog that immediately followed the event itself:

Our final Morning Show broadcast was an immense hug and a truly beautiful thing thanks to the waves of faithful listeners who flowed to and through the Fitzgerald Theater and St. Paul’s Central Presbyterian Church. The size of the crowd went well beyond our expectations (I wagered 1500) and their warmth was off the charts.

As a lifelong radio guy, I am naturally timid at the thought of facing a live audience, but this group was as comfort-inducing as any collection of 2000 souls can be. What’s the opposite of an unruly mob? A ruly mob, I guess. That’s what we had.

All the heartfelt words of praise for our Morning Show were oh so welcome, but after awhile I did begin to feel a bit guilty. Let’s face it, everybody works hard and the stress of day-to-day living takes a toll. Who wouldn’t get a boost from having a gaggle of admiring people asking for your autograph? I confess I enjoyed it tremendously, but I recognize that most people deserve a kind word and a pat on the back for the good things they do every day, and do they get it? You know the answer. Sorry Jim Ed and I hogged the love storm, but what could we do? It blew down the doors.

The Morning Show is done. It was a long-running and sometimes confounding radio gymnastics routine with plenty of twists and flourishes and it looked like we would come crashing down a couple of times, but our spotters were there for us and gravity gave us some lucky breaks, and the dismount was incredible.

When have you finished well?

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Jump, Jive & Wail

I always knew electric eels were creepy.

Not only are these sea eels creepier than snakes, but they seem even more sinister now that we know they can use their electricity to remotely control the muscles of their prey.

The BBC article above describes how researchers at Vanderbilt University in Nashville discovered that eel current can cause hidden prey to involuntarily ‘jump’, thus revealing their position. You can guess what happens next.

But why were scientists from land-locked Music City so interested in the effect eels can have on the oh-so-correctly-named “unfortunate fish”?

Perhaps it’s really research into the strange power bands have over dancers, especially with the energy of an electric guitar at the front and brass as a conductor.

How are you at operating the remote control?

Bunker Concert

Happy Thanksgiving, Baboons!

To soothe you and provide some parting affirmations for the turkeys (treasure each moment as a gift!), here’s Bob Franke singing his signature Thanksgiving song more than 200 feet underground in a cold war bunker ordered built by Stalin – Bunker 42 in Moscow.

Where do you like to sing?

Sixteen Tons of Asteroid

Now that humans have successfully landed on a comet, excitement is building about the previously strange notion of Asteroid Mining.

Lots of new technology will have to be developed to make this work.

Not to mention a boatload of re-written classic mining songs.

There was never an Asteroid made outta mud.
They’re stone and copper and a whole buncha crud.
A whole buncha crud that’s a-flyin’ around,
That’ll never stop and it won’t come down.

You mine asteroids and what do you get?
A ride on a rocket and a load of regret.
St. Peter did you see me as I flew by?
I’m digging holes in the clear blue sky!

I was born around minerals, buried and old
there was coal and palladium and iron and gold.
But we took it all and we filled our cup
Then the straw boss said “Let’s dig way, way up”

You mine asteroids and what do you get?
A ride on a rocket and a load of regret.
St. Peter did you see me as I flew by?
I’m digging holes in the clear blue sky!

When I got to space then I started to drill.
I dug down and down in that airless chill.
Then I got so deep the whole hole just spun,
so I kept on digging up towards the sun.

You mine asteroids and what do you get?
A ride on a rocket and a load of regret.
St. Peter did you see me as I flew by?
I’m digging holes in the clear blue sky!

If you’re out in space you better let me pass
I will take your metals. I will steal your gas.
And I’ll make tear the end off your flying stone
‘Til it’s as brittle and hollow as an ice cream cone.”

You mine asteroids and what do you get?
A ride on a rocket and a load of regret.
St. Peter did you see me as I flew by?
I’m digging holes in the clear blue sky.

What’s the most physically demanding job you’ve ever held?

Use Other Exit

I loved the post from Clyde yesterday, along with the conversation that ensued.   I was especially tickled by this comment from Renee in North Dakota.

Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 4.46.35 PM

That is a beguiling image  – a would-be farmer, forsaking his chores for art.   It got me to thinking about old fiddle tunes, including Stephen Foster’s “Camptown Races”.


Uncle Albert had a barn,
Doo-dah, Doo-dah.
Often he’d relate this yarn,
Oh, do doo-dah day.

All them cows produced for sure,
Doo-dah, Doo-dah
Tons and tons of ripe manure
Oh, de doo-dah day.

Piling up all night.
Piling up all day.
When the cattle tried to leave
Guess what was blocking the way?

Albert got his fiddle strung
Doo dah, doo dah
On a hillock made of dung.
Oh, de doo-dah day.

Never did a bloomin’ chore,
Doo Dah, Doo Dah.
Sat beside a fragrant door,
Oh de doo-dah day.

While he played he never frowned,
Doo Dah, Doo Dah,
Watching bovines turn around
All de doo-dah day.

He would just recline,
Looking at the birds.
Now and then Albert would say,
“Man, what a mountain of turds!”

When have you let something pile up?

Comet Softly To Me

Early tomorrow (Wednesday) morning the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft currently orbiting Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko will deploy a lander called Philae. This one-chance-only attempt will be the culmination of a ten year mission to do something that has never been done or even attempted before – to put a piece of human-made machinery on the face of a speeding comet as it hurtles towards the sun.

There is so much that intrigues me about this – not the least of which is the method of landing – described in this New York Times article..

Because Comet 67P is so small, its gravitational pull is slight and the familiar mechanics of landing on a moon or a distant planet are turned upside down. Mission planners didn’t have to worry so much about breaking the lander’s fall because Philae will be released and will drift towards 67P, pulled in gently at what is described as “a walking pace.”

How fast is that? I’m not sure, but I’ll bet it could comfortably approximate the pace of this classic 1959 song by the Fleetwoods.

As the lander meanders towards the comet, planners will watch nervously to see if they are able to connect in a sympathetic and constructive way, or if a stray boulder causes the lander to flip over or a spot of shade renders its solar collectors useless.

Not to indulge in too much space-vehicle anthropomorphism here, but if Philae is able to kiss the surface of this elusive, enigmatic space traveler, it will be a brief, unlikely, and historic romance. The lander will run out of battery power in 62 hours and will fall silent, but not until it has had enough close contact to send back a treasure trove of data.

And what is in this for 67P? Perhaps nothing, though one must wonder if even a lonely, speeding comet has an innate desire to be known. And yes, this Earthling may bring just the sort of longed-for intimacy that has been missing during all the years that 67P has been orbiting the sun.

But in case The Fleetwoods have you thinking of this rendezvous as a perfect extraterrestrial romance, consider this one additional aspect – shortly after Philae and 67P gently touch, the lander will cement their new relationship by shooting a harpoon into the comets surface.

Charming. And such an Earthling thing to do.

Ever been stung?

Don’t Fence Me In

Today is the birthday of famous movie cowboy Roy Rogers, who we think of as a fixture of the wide open western expanse even though he actually entered the world at Cincinnati, Ohio.

Though it’s hard to imagine two forms of entertainment that are more out of fashion today than musicals and westerns, Rogers excelled at both. His work with the ensemble Sons of the Pioneers is a source of fond musical memories for me, although I don’t have many warm feelings towards hay, saddles, guns or cactus.

Born Leonard Slye, Rogers was a Hollywood creation, although he did seem to play well with horses. In this video clip, Trigger steals the show and Roy lets him, which strikes me as both kind-hearted and practical.

Though I didn’t think this was allowed, you can watch full Roy Rogers movies on Youtube, where there’s something for everyone. In “Sunset in the West”, Roy and Trigger deal with a hijacked train that’s full of guns, which ought to have equal appeal to those rail-loving new urbanists and the N.R.A., though for different reasons.

There aren’t many celebrities today with the kind of broad appeal that can span the political, musical, sartorial and behavioral boundaries we draw around ourselves. Roy Rogers had that quality, though I’m sure his solid relationship with Trigger helped.

Who is the Roy Rogers of today?