Thursday, March 28, 2013

Cleveland Romper Room organ for sale

A piece of Cleveland baby-boomer history is up for sale: the organ used on the Cleveland production of Romper Room (allegedly) is currently on Craigslist. The seller is based in Euclid, a suburb of Cleveland (for any non-NE Ohio folks).

Here's the link:

The listing itself is rather matter-of-fact:

baldwin organ $49 (euclid) pic

This organ was originally used for Romper Room. Needs repair and some tlc. It powers on but the actual organ pitches need tuned. Will take trades also. Call 216 406 1699 

(A screen capture is below; all CL ads are transitory..)

Romper Room was a long-running children's television program shown mostly in the USA, but also internationally. It was notable because cities could host individual franchises instead of the national broadcast. Cleveland hosted a local production, starring "Miss Barbara" Plummer. While not the first Cleveland hostess, "Miss Barbara" will always remembered locally as the face of Romper Room; the highlight of the production which ran on WEWS from 1958 until 1971.

Tell me, tell me, tell me, do. Magic mirror, tell me today.
Have all my friends had fun at play?

As crude as TV F/X were in the early 60's, the Magic Mirror closing sequence of RR is probably the first TV special effect I remember from my childhood...

So any Do Bee out there with enough living-room space can purchase a bit of local broadcast history...

Friday, March 22, 2013

A Still from "Olympus Has Fallen"

Here's a publicity still from the new action movie, Olympus Has Fallen, starring Gerard Butler.

Wow, that just looks crazy good; I bet it's an intelligent, tightly-crafted thrill-ride...

(Original image by Tom Freeman. More info here...)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Google News algorithm sucks

Less than 12 hours after the Steubenville rape trial verdict, my Google News page/feed--yeah the one that's supposedly customized to the "individual preferences" of the reader--shows no links or references to the case, one of the biggest stories of the day. Not under the "Top Stories" nor the "US" sections.

To be sure, Google isn't my main source of news. We subscribe to, or read, up to five newspapers a day, depending on the day. I don't use my real name on any Google services, and don't intend to.  I'm fairly serious about using ad-blocking and script-blocking when I browse, so I am harder to "data mine."

And Gmail? It's just a disposable alternative to my normal email account. You know--the one you use for Craigslist or when you're required to enter an email address online. I have Google+ account, but won't use my real name, of course (don't bitch Google--I'm not even on Facebook). So again, I'm resisting their profiling efforts, at least a token amount...

Still--honestly--how bad is an algorithm when it can't recognize I might be interested in this type of news? ...especially when I personally customized my page by modding UP the New York Times and modding down Fox.

But beyond that--shouldn't we all be reading about the Steubenville verdict? Why is Google News (or ANY news source) so bent on giving me only the news they think I might want? Yes, I know the answer-- $$$$$ rule. 

We need a return to the traditional paradigm: one where actual editors define the news mix, one based on common humanity, solid news judgement and informed experience.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Old-School Danelectro Logo SVG

A year or so ago I picked up a Danelectro DM 25, in need of much repair. After replacing a few components it works quite well, although it's missing the peizo reverb tank.

But the front panel is a mess...

I'll have to make up a replacement. This can't be salvaged.

To that end, I photographed the old Danelectro logo on the front of my Dano DM10, an amplifier that's contemporary to the DM 25. The DM 10's condition is much better. Even so, there's plenty of corrosion evident on the smaller amp. It's not enough to warrant replacement, though.

This image file was then imported that into Inkscape, a great freeware vector image editor. Inkscape has a powerful autotrace function for bit-mapped images which is super useful for converting photos into vector format. After a little tweaking, here's the result, which is very true to the original:

The old-school logo isn't quite the same as the modern one. It's a little rougher, a little more vintage. The above image is a JPG file, but I'm glad to share the vector file for other users:

Danelectro Logo, SVG

This link will display (at least on Firefox), but download Inkscape to edit or resize it. Remember--it's a vector file, so there's no pixellation when enlarging... Enjoy!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

I Heart Pedal Trading; or Quieting the EH Holy Grail Reverb

Yesterday I traded a DiMarzio "Very Metal" pedal for an Electro Harmonix Holy Grail Reverb pedal, the EH power supply included. It's the original "wide" model (and has Rev A on the PCB). I'm excited to have a compact reverb, for use with those amps that don't have it. My Lafayette "Echo-Verb" is cool, but it's big and needs maintenance (bypass get's muddy when the effect is set over halfway--probably needs new caps, or just a relay-driven bypass).

I love trading gear. Everyone wins--you clean out unused and unwanted stuff, and replace it with (hopefully) stuff you want, and might actually use. I never used the Very Metal pedal; it's really not my sound. Plus the non-true bypass wasn't very transparent. Yeah, it looked ironically cool, and probably will continue to be collectable, but that's mostly based on the famous "knobs that go to 11." But I generally only keep things I use; if it sits, let someone else enjoy it.

I crack open the Grail to check the type of bypass--and find it's a true-bypass version. Some of the first versions didn't have it. I don't know if it was home modded or factory, but I'm happy... 

True bypass

Oh the Noise Noise Noise!


Plug in the Electro Harmonix power supply, and the Holy Grail works fine. However, it's noisy, especially set above halfway. Overall, I'm somewhat disappointed with the noise floor at such a noticeable level. I half expected this from online comments. 

What do we suspect first with noisy digital pedals? --the power supply. The original EH power supply is a standard step-down transformer/rectifier type, a likely culprit.

So I try the Holy Grail with a 1Spot switching supply, daisy-chained with other pedals. Cool! It's much quieter! But when the Cry Baby wah is engaged there's a very noticeable high-pitched whine as the treadle is pushed down toward the treble position. Not good.

Next option: use a second 1Spot, dedicated to the Holy Grail alone. I keep a second 1Spot on hand to use with effect loops. Success! The Holy Grail is whisper-quiet, and now some of the subtleties of the effect can finally be heard.

You may take this as gospel ;-) -- always use a separate, dedicated switching power supply for the EH Holy Grail Reverb pedal.

Using a 1Spot with the Holy Grail requires an adapter cable to fit the 3.5mm jack. FYI, the polarity is fairly standard--shaft negative, tip positive, +9V. Ironically, I had the adapter already, for the Very Metal.

Overall Impression of the Electro Harmonix Holy Grail Reverb

I like it a lot. It's smaller than an external spring reverb. It does a decent job of simulating reverb for amplifiers that don't have the option. I can't say I LOVE it, but then I'm spoiled by the real thing...

The Hall setting is particularly good, if not something that I'd use often, or use live. But it's very cool. 

And the Flerb setting? (Flanger/reverb)--it's great fun! Again, maybe not a "live" effect, but cool anyways.

Goodbye "Very Metal"

Here's portrait of the DiMarzio pedal. Very Metal, I hope you've found a home, but I won't miss you...(except for your knobs that go to 11).

I got you in a previous trade for the equivalent of $25, and I traded you for something I wanted...more. Pedal love is fickle...

After further testing, a tiny amount of high frequency noise is still present with the dedicated 1Spot. But it's very small compared to the hiss and whine of the other options...