Miscellaneous and Useless Information

TV and radio

I don’t blog much anymore, but for posterity’s sake: KCBS Radio has been slowly switching over to a new set of jingles over the past two weeks (at least). The last pieces fell into place today, with a new jingle for John Madden and a new intro after CBS News at the top of the hour. They’re a little punchier than the old ones, but it’s still the same four-note sequence they’ve been using for decades.

I searched on the web for more info and came across my old blog post on a previous time KCBS changed its jingle, in 2004, which I had completely forgotten about! In between, KCBS also changed them in 2008, when it started simulcasting on 106.9 FM.

When I moved to the Bay Area from New England, I noticed that KGO 7, the ABC station in San Francisco, used the same theme song and logo as WABC 7 in New York. Here’s a KGO “open” from 1989:

To my surprise, the theme song is from the movie Cool Hand Luke starring Paul Newman. It’s amazing how a 10-second clip became the basis for newscasts around the world.

Most TV stations now use themes only reminiscent of the original, after the composer of the soundtrack, Lalo Schifrin, demanded higher royalties. (Schifrin also composed the theme song to Mission: Impossible.)

Through some random web surfing, I came across the opening credits for the newscast of WTNH 8, the ABC affililate in Connecticut, in 1985, which brought back a lot of memories:

The theme song, used by TV stations across the country, is called Move Closer to Your World, and it’s still used by WPVI 6, the ABC affiliate in Philadelphia:

I’m watching analysis of Hillary Clinton’s speech at the Democratic National Convention, and it’s amusing to see the different (and predictable) slants that the different cable news channels have taken.

MSNBC is basically saying, Clinton did her job, the Democrats are unified, everything is happy. Fox News says, we’re getting inundated with e-mail from Clinton supporters who will vote got McCain, the Democrats are in trouble, there’s still a civil war in the party. (What do you expect from Fox viewers?) CNN is somewhere in the middle. Hilarious.

  • On my recent trip to Italy, the first two songs I heard in that country was Supernatural Superserious by R.E.M. and Love Song by Sarah Bareilles, in a taxi in Pisa. At first, I wondered if the cab driver was playing American music only to satisfy the tourists, until he started singing along to “Love Song.” On MTV Italy, R.E.M. got a lot of airplay, including a concert in Italy. They seem to be getting more attention in Europe than here (although I read the Berkeley concert today sold out in 10 minutes).
  • Another music video on MTV Italy caught my eye: Sweet Harmony by The Beloved from 1993. Besides the obviously eyebrow-raising nature of the video, the tune is pretty catchy…
  • Last weekend I went to a wedding, and the last song the DJ played was a beautiful version of Bryan Adam’s Heaven. I found out later that the cover I heard was the “Candlelight Remix” by DJ Sammy and Yanou featuring Do; their original cover was techno.
  • On Wednesday, I went to see The Cure in concert at the HP Pavilion in San Jose. I’m not a huge Cure fan, but they were quite amazing live, and they were cranking it: 37 songs in 3 hours. Their current lineup, without a keyboard, made for some interesting arrangements of songs like Lovesong.
  • And on Sunday, I’m going to see R.E.M. in concert in Berkeley!

Finally, today’s silly video. Turk from Scrubs brings the flava:

Last night, Jon, Jerry and I finished watching a four-part documentary on PBS, China From the Inside. The documentary was very well done, and I was surprised by how outspoken the critics of the government were. The overall conclusion: China from the inside is in bad shape. The four parts were about politics, women, the environment, and the law. You can guess that there isn’t much good news on any of these fronts. And it all boils down to one basic cause: the government isn’t accountable to the people.

Next up in our Friday nights of learning: The History of the Supreme Court.

Just saw two fascinating shows on KQED:

A story in Frontline World covered an ingenious idea called Play Pumps. It takes water pumps and turns them into a piece of playground equipment, so that kids have fun while they pump water. It started out as a cheap way to bring clean water to poor areas in South Africa, and the company making them is now receiving $15 million in funding from the U.S.

Twisted follows four people with dystonia, a bewildering neurological disorder where a person literally cannot control parts of their own body. Probably the most famous sufferer is Dilbert creator Scott Adams. There is treatment called deep brain stimulation (DBS) where electrodes are implanted into the brain, but doctors don’t know why it works. The film follows one person in particular as he agonizes over whether to get DBS, and then struggles while the doctors try to make the treatment work for him.

I’ve been watching the Tour de France all month. (Its timing works perfectly with my schedule: wake up, watch the last 30 mins while eating breakfast, then go to work.) Can you believe Floyd Landis? From washed up yesterday to a stunning comeback today. I’m really pulling for him to win — it would propel his achievement from an extraordinary single-day race to a legendary tour win.

Another sign of technological change: grainy amateur viral videos posted on the web, and then broadcast on TV for your viewing pleasure.

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