Eclipse Journal 1: August 20

DuQuoin State Fairgrounds, before the 2017 Eclipse

I have been fussing with the transfer of this blog to WordPress, and with trying to make it current. But let’s start pitching in some new content, first by catching up to a momentous road with my son. This is adapted and expanded from my beer-centric eclipse coverage at


My son Sean and I set out at about 9 am Sunday morning to cross the State of Illinois—the long way—to experience the total solar eclipse of 2017. Our route would involve cutting from one interstate to another along an hour’s worth of rural highway so the Boy could practice his driving. Continue reading “Eclipse Journal 1: August 20”

Time to come clean.

I have spent some years trying to build my own web page from scratch; one that doesn’t look like butt.

But I have finally decided that it will be impossible to keep up with everything I would need to learn just to put a decent piece of web up there.

I’ve now decided that it would be easier to learn to wrangle WordPress. And to see what I can do with a basic WordPress theme, currently “Twenty Seventeen.”

I’m working to put access to my entire World Wide Web wandering on here. So keep an eye open.


Musical Cheese for October 17, 2012

The Gettysburg Address — Lord Buckley — His Royal Hipness — 1956
Gangnam Style! — Psy — 2012
Ruby Baby — The Drifters — 1956
A Cowboy’s Work is Never Done — Sonny & Cher — All I Ever Need is You — 1972
Live — The Merry-Go-Round — 1966
A Quick One, While He’s Away — The Who — A Quick One —1966
The Laughing Song — George W. Johnson — Brown Wax Cylinder Collection ( — 1899
Cocktails for Two — Spike Jones & His City Slickers — Anthology — 1944
Planet Rock — Afrika Bambaataa and the Soulsonic Force — 12″ single — 1982
Get Dancin’ — Disco Tex & the Sex-o-Lettes — Get Dancin’ — 1975
Hadacol! (That’s All) — The Treniers — They Rock! They Roll! They Swing! — 1952
Nag Nag Nag Nag — Art Brut — It’s a Bit Complicated — 2007
The Rain, the Park and Other Things — The Cowsills — 20th Century Masters — 1967
Kermit Schafer — Rock Around the Blooper — 1956
Jackie Onassis — Human Sexual Response — Figure 14 — 1980

Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow (single version) — Frank Zappa — Apostrophe(‘) — 1974
Don’t Go Near the Eskimos —Ben Colder — single — 1962
Another Way to Die – Jack White & Alicia Keys – “Quantum of Solace” soundtrack – 2008
Woodstock — Matthew’s Southern Comfort — 1970
Shake It — Ian (Iain) Matthews — 1978
Hey, St. Peter – Flash & the Pan — 1978
Whole Lot-ta Shakin’ Goin’ On — Big Maybelle – 1955 (produced by Quincy Jones)
Nut Rocker — B. Bumble & the Stingers — 1962

The Return of Musical Cheese! Sept 12, 2012

Here we are with a new semester at good ol’ WIIT, the voice of Illinois Institute of Technology. The little radio station that could now has a new board and all us DJ’s have had to go in for re-training.
I discovered that this board is much easier to use than the last one,  as long as I don’t try to do anything fancy, like try to put phone calls on the air. The two CD decks will start playing when you hit the “on air” button on the board. And best of all, they have another deck for digital media: Flash drives, USB drives, etc. We are even closer to realizing my dream of being able to bring in all my music for a show on the half-a-postage-stamp sized chip in my cell phone. However, I can’t crossfade between songs on the same flash drive yet, but I can still alternate between the flash drive and my CDs.
And I discovered that the class I’m taking this semester will actually run the entire alloted length of the class: right up to 9 p.m. Luckily the guy waiting to train me did wait until I could get my CDs out of the car. After about half and hour of watching me, he decided I was good to go.

So we have a “practice” run of the Musical Cheese Show. With no real special segments or anniversaries to mark, just running though my usual selections: Once-hit songs that are now obscure or sound outdated, modern hits that just plain sound “cheesy,” and the occasional novelty record thrown in, too.

I am also trying out MixCloud as the repository of my podcast. Please be sure to let me know if it plays for you or not!


Musical Cheese Practice Show: Sept 12, 2012 on WIIT 88.9 FM

Twilight Zone, Golden Earring 1982
Pop Muzik, M 1979

A little instrumental break here:

Hawaii Five-O theme, Ventures 1969
Peaches en Regalia, Frank Zappa 1969 (LP: Hot Rats)
Baby How’d We Ever Get This Way, Andy Kim 1968 (Another of the Brill Building songwriters who occasionally stuck out on their own, Andy had a bigger hit with “Rock Me Gently” in 1974, but is best known for writing “Sugar Sugar.”)

Some Classical Gassers:

Hungarian Rhapsody (Dueling Pianos), “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” Soundtrack 1988, featuring Daffy and Donald Duck.
Pal-Yat-Chee, Spike Jones with Homer & Jethro, 1950
Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof off the Sucker), Parliament, 1976
Rocket Man, William Shatner, 1979 Science Fiction Awards (If you can’t get down with the Shat-man, you can’t claim to be playing Musical Cheese!) 
White Bird, It’s a Beautiful Day, 1969
Woo-Hoo, Rock-A-Teens, 1959
Makin’ Our Dreams Come True, Cyndi Grecco, 1976
(“Schlemiel! Schlamozl! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated”)
Hot Rod Lincoln, Charlie Ryan & the Timberline Riders, 1959 (Itself an answer song to another “Hot Rod Race” song, this is best known in its 1972 cover by Commander Cody)
I’ve Been Everywhere, Hank Snow, 1962 (Originally written by an Australian, with all Down Under place names!)

Maybe I’ll feature songs that reference super-heroes each week:

Kryptonite, 3 Doors Down, 1999
What’s the Name of This Funk (Spider-Man), Ramsey Lewis 1976
Galaxy, War, 1976

A selection whose cultural importance I labored hard to explain:

Solfeggio (Song of the Nairobi Trio), Robert Maxwell 1953
The Teddy Bears’ Picnic, Edison Symphony Orchestra 1908
I Wanna Rock, Cab Calloway, 1942
The Happy Whistler, Don Robertson, 1956 (There’s just something oddball about any instrumental hit. Whistling songs even more so)
No No Song, Ringo Starr 1974 (As it turned out, there were still some substances Ringo couldn’t say “No No” to when he recorded this. But he got better.) 
We Have All the Time in the World, Louis Armstrong (“On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” Soundtrack) 1969 (“What a Wonderful World” is probably the most overplayed song of this century. But you can’t go wrong with this, the last song Satchmo recorded!)

Musical Cheese II: The saga continues!

Now, I don’t know how long I’ll be doing this little broadcast from the studios of WIIT. There may be a job coming down the line that keeps me from coming in for class, who knows? The next podcast could be my last!

So I learned a few things after last week’s opening salvo. First, the Virtual DJ software on my Windows netbook is by default expecting a soundcard installed with two outputs: one for cue and one for air. So whenever I dropped an MP3 track on one of the cue decks, a channel on the song playing on air would cut out. Finally found the configuration to acknowledge that there’s just the one stereo output. Now if I can just figure why the plug feeding the sound board only plays the right channel (I tried my headphone in the jack, that’s pure stereo). For the sake of this podcast, I tracked the right channel into both ears.

My topic for the broadcast came to me after watching the Grammy Awards the previous Sunday. Another slate of Best New Artist nominees that by legend would never be heard from again. Checking the lists of previous nominees and winners, that see that isn’t so much the case today as it was in the 1970’s. I think Christina Aguilera has gone on to better things after her win. But there were some nominees so obscure that they didn’t even have a Wikipedia article about them yet. But I still found an MP3 of the J’s with Jamie, so their mark on internet posterity may yet be made. And I should have known when putting together a playlist of Best New Artist nominees, I’d be rutting out the greatest piece of musical cheese ever recorded!

Note: “Johnny Get Angry” by Joanie Somers reminded me that it’s one of a very small group of pop hits to use a kazoo. The only other ones I could think of offhand was “You’re Sixteen” by Ringo Starr and “Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-to-Die Rag” by Country Joe and the Fish–which was not really a “pop” hit. But once again, the Internet comes to the rescue!
And yes, the Ace Frehley version of “New York Groove” starts out draggy. A previous DJ had messed with the pitch control of the CD deck and not set it back to normal. I tried to speed it up a little bit in GarageBand.

And of course, all the songs below have links to purchase a copy for your very own on iTunes, or another source if possible!

Playlist for Mark McDermott’s Musical Cheese Show #2, February 15, 2012 on WIIT:

Pushin’ too HardThe Seeds (1967)
New York GrooveHello (1975)
New York GrooveAce Frehley (1978)
I Was Made for Lovin’ YouKiss–12″ single (1979)
The Way of LoveCher–Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves (1972)
Acid QueenTina Turner–Tommy Soundtrack (1975)

Special Feature: Select Best New Artist Grammy Nominees:
Let’s Not Be Sensible–The J’s with Jamie (1963)
Hello Muddah, Hello FaddahAllan Sherman–My Son the Nut (1983)
A Walk in the Black Forest–Horst Jankowski–Hard to Find Pop Instrumentals ii–(1965)
The Shape I’m InJohnny Restivo (1959)
Afternoon DelightStarland Vocal Band–Super Hits of the 70’s v. 18 (1876)
Hey DeanieShaun Cassidy–Super Hits of the 70s (1978)
FeelingsMorris Albert–Super Hits of the 70s v. 17 (1975)
Rock OnDavid Essex (1974)
59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy) – Feelin’ GroovyHarpers Bizarre (1967)
Joanie SommersJohnny Get Angry–Hard to Find 45s on CD Vol.5 (1962)
Steal AwayRobbie Dupree (1980)
Whispering/Cherchez La Femme/C’est Si BonDr. Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band (1977)

What a Difference a Day Makes (Disco version)–Esther Phillips (1975)
Rock and RollBoswell Sisters (1934)
Jolly Fellows WaltzPeerless Orchestra (1904)
Tumbling TumbleweedsSons of the Pioneers (1934)
MatchboxBlind Lemon Jefferson (1927)
Mule Skinner BluesThe Fendermen (1960)
Itchy ChickenLos Straitjackets–Viva Los Straitjackets (1005)
Who Listens to the RadioThe SportsMushroom Evolution Concept (1978)
Sex (I’m A…)Berlin–12″ single version (1983)
I’m on Fire5000 Volts (1975)
Sometimes A RiverString Cheese IncidentOne Step Closer (2005)
Highway 40 Unplugged–Brak–Space Ghost’s Musical BarBQ
Gone, Gone, GoneCharlie Feathers–single (1967)

Back in the Booth! My Musical Cheese show

It’s something I’ve awaited for 25 years. I had promised myself that, if by some chance I got myself affiliated with a school or college with a radio station, I would get myself an air shift!

And that one-class certificate course I’m taking at Illinois Institute of Technology is my ticket.
Once I knew I would be going to the downtown campus for a class, I signed up to do a radio shift on WIIT-FM, broadcasting from the campus center on State St.
The orientation was pretty quick and easy. Now mind you, the last time I played music on the radio was before the station at Bowling Green U. had any CD players installed. Now at orientation, the Tech Director asks “so, is anyone going to be bringing CDs?” Turns out most people just bring a laptop with DJ software installed. And they have turntables, but due to the problem of theft, I would have to provide head shell and needle for two Technics 1200 turntables. The guy says they’ve got a grant for new equipment that will be installed starting in March, but for now we’re “stuck” using a board from the 1970s. All right by me, I started out on boards from the 1950s.

For a while, I’ve highlighting my favorite obscure, silly or otherwise annoying old songs when I hear them on iTunes, and tagging them as “Musical Cheese.” So that’s the title of my new show. Featuring the stuff your parents forgot about when they said music was so much better in their time. So watch for my show to contain bad 70s earworms, unusual or obscure tunes from through recording history, and some of the comedy stuff that we played the crap out of back in the 70s. Hey, everything old is new again.

So ready or not, click the link under the title above to hear a podcast of my first Musical Cheese show, broadcast February 8, 2012. Below is the playlist with links to purchase the song on iTunes, where available. Yes, I am an affiliate. But I’m paying back the artists for use of their music.

Playlist for the first Musical Cheese Program, 7-9 p.m. Feb. 8 on WIIT
Shakedown Cruise – Jay Ferguson (1979)
Shake a Tail Feather – 5 X 5
Waitin’ In School – Ricky Nelson (1957)
Wait Til Tomorrow – The Banana Splits (1968)
Ariel – Dean Friedman (1977)
Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen) – Baz Luhrman (1999)
Anti Love Song – Betty Davis (1973)
Rock Billy Boogie – Johnny Burnette
Hot Smoke and Sassafras – The Bubble Puppy (1969)
Quentin’s Theme -Charles Randolph Grean Sounde (Yes, that’s how he spelled it) (1969)
Cotton Candy Sandman (Sandman’s Coming) – Harpers Bizarre (1969)
Driver’s Seat – Sniff ‘n the Tears (1978)
(We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang – Heaven 17 (1981)
What Does Sex Mean to Me? – Human Sexual Response (1981)
Freedom of Choice – Devo (1980)
Ça plane pour moi – Plastic Bertrand (1977)
The Bulls – Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris (Original Cast Recording) (1966)
Midnight Special – Leadbelly (1940)
Six Days On the Road – Dave Dudley (1963)
Travelin’ Soldier – Dixie Chicks (2002)
Society’s Child (Baby I’ve Been Thinking) – Janis Ian (1967)
Walking After MidnightPatsy Cline (1957)
Tragedy – The Fleetwoods (1961)
Let’s Have a Party – Wanda Jackson (1960)
Pinball – Brian Protheroe (1975)
The Typewriter – Leroy Anderson BMG Classics sampler
Overture from TommyThe Assembled Multitude (1970)
Mission Impossible – Laika and The Cosmonauts – Zero Gravity
Hey BabyRingo StarrRingo’s Rotogravure (1976)
Seaside Woman – Suzy and the Red Stripes (Linda McCartney) (1977)
Do You Wanna Dance  – Bobby Freeman (1958)
MarijuanaThe Reverend Horton Heat (1990)
Cherry BombThe Runaways (1976)
Wild Thing – Sam Kinison – Have You Seen Me? (1988)
Jackie Blue – Smashing Pumpkins – Super Fantastic Mega Smash Hits!
Oh WellThe Rockets (1979)
Anna (Go To Him)Arthur Alexander (1962)