The Casio CA-95 Musical Watch

Some time ago I wrote about early calculator watches and mentioned some of the favorite geek watches I’ve owned over time. My all-time favorite is the CA-95, which I bought in Hannover in 1983 as I arrived at the airport for CEBIT. I needed a new watch, and this one just called out to me.

By dint of a little work, I was able to resurrect it, almost – the “=” button doesn’t work, and I think it’s because I didn’t get it properly aligned. But everything else functions, more or less, which enabled me to record the sounds which I so dearly loved.

Back in that day, a watch would go “beep.” With this model, Casio upped the game substantially – sort of the same effect that Macintosh had on the computer world with its integrated sounds.


The Old Wolf has spoken.

The Seegers on the Road

Today is John Steinbeck’s 112th birthday – or would have been, if he weren’t dead. But some pictures that ran across my Facebook feed this morning seemed somehow relevant.


May 1921. Washington, D.C. “Professor Charles Seeger, a composer, is a brother of Alan Seeger, the war poet. His wife is a distinguished violinist.” Little Pete Seeger, 2 years old, and family along with their camping rig. Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative.

The Seeger family  More on this intriguing bit of ephemera was written about in the Washington Post (text and image found at Shorpy):

Washington Post, May 22, 1921.


Charles Seeger, Wife and Three Sons See World While Living Outdoors


Mrs. Seeger Famed as Violinist. Husband Professor of Music In California.

Bound for wherever they happen to stop, paying no attention to daylight saving or other forms of time, and spreading music wherever they go, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Seeger, once of the University of California and now “wandering minstrels” of the world at large, are encamped at Rock Creek park, their home an itinerant Ford and a home-made trailer. They are accompanied by their three little boys.

Mr. and Mrs. Seeger, the latter known in musical circles as Constance Edson Seeger, are taking the boys to museums and places of interest wherever they stop, and the two [older] boys are learning to play the violin.

Their Profession in Music.

“We are trying to solve the problem of educating three boys, and at the same time lead a worth-while outdoor life,” said Mr. Seeger yesterday. Mr. Seeger says that they got the idea while they were at the University of California, where he was head of the music department for seven years after graduating from Harvard and studying music in Europe and where Mrs. Seeger gave violin recitals following her graduation from the New York Institute of Musical Art and a course at the Conservatory of Paris.

The Seegers came here from Richmond and to that city from Pinehurst, N.C., where they spent some time. In addition to the three boys, Charles, 8; John, 6, and Peter, not yet 2 [actually, he had just turned 2], they have taken with them Miss Marion Brown, whom they picked up at Pinehurst and who tutors the children and cares for them while their parents are giving concerts.

The Seeger “home” is a house of five and a half feet in width by fourteen feet in length, and contains all the comforts of home, including a sewing machine, a portable organ and games for the boys. It even has a front porch, which slides under the trailer while traveling.

Going to New England.

The Seegers spent the winter at Pinehurst and are now en route to the New England States for the summer, expecting to go back South when the winter approaches again. Increasing rents make no difference in their lives, as a camping place is always available.

Mr. Seeger is the brother of the famous war poet Alan Seeger, whose “I Have a Rendezvous With Death,” written shortly before he died, has become immortal.

Mr. and Mrs. Seeger gave a concert lecture at the Corcoran Art Gallery last night.


May 23, 1921. Washington, D.C. “Professor Charles Louis Seeger and family.” Charles Seeger, wife Constance Edson Seeger and their 2-year-old son Pete, of future folkie fame. National Photo Co. Collection glass negative.

Another image of the itinerant Seegers. These images have nothing directly to do with Steinbeck, but there’s a distinctly “Grapes of Wrath” feel about their living style in these pictures. They weren’t destitute like the Joads, but my mind couldn’t help but make the connection. There is part of me that would love to be able to live on the road… as long as I had a comfortable motor home with some bookshelf space and the funds to support such a lifestyle.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

The Internet: A repository for all things arcane.

Edit 8/25/2015: This post was based on a link to Grooveshark, the most awesome music streaming service since Napster. Unfortunately, a number of circumstances led to their demise. I have added a new link to the song in question.

In a recent post I saw on Facebook, a friend of mine was sharing some thoughts about dealing with ADHD in children. I mentioned that I’ve had the problem since childhood, and that ultimately it never goes away – one simply has to deal with it. Another friend remarked that it was interesting how I have been able to channel mine into insatiable curiosity. This struck me, because I had never really made the connection in a conscious way, although I have long been aware that I have a burning need to know things.

The capsule summary of my senior year at Camp Wildwood in Bridgton, Maine, describes me as an energetic tripper despite my 85-lb bulk (I was tiny until I hit 11th grade), and mentioned that however unorganized my body of knowledge, I seemed to be an inexhaustible source of interesting bits of information. So you see, it had begun early, and never ended. I used to read the encyclopedia for fun.

Then came the Internet. By the holy skull of Mogg’s virgin aunt, it’s a miracle I get anything accomplished at all – but it’s both a blessing and a curse. I’ll have something rattling around in my mind, and before the days of  Google, I had no way of locating, categorizing, elaborating on, or filing it away as “done” unless it could be found in a printed resource. But with the Internet, and billions of people contributing content on a daily basis, many of the things that I would never have been able to locate have actually shown up. I mentioned a few of them over here at “The Lost Cartoons” and “Vintage Toys I have Loved” (among many others) but there is always something which tasks me.

Today I got to put another one to rest.

Back in the 80s there was a wonderful radio station in Salt Lake called KKDS (or K-Kids). It played a constant stream of amazing and delightful music and features for children – the Chicago Tribune mentioned it, saying:

WPRD-AM, now broadcasting news from the CNN Headline News service, was the first affiliate for the Imagination Stations Network, which was based in Orlando and had hoped to broadcast nationally to at least 100 affiliates by the end of its first year. When it ceased broadcasting 11 months after it began, the network had only one other affiliate, KKDS in Salt Lake City.

I was sad to see it go, and our children loved it.

Remember the Sinclairs, stars of the TV show “Dinosaurs?”


One of the songs from that show that was played frequently on KKDS was  “I Can Do Whatever I Want”. It has been available on a CD, but up until now, nowhere else. Believe me, I’ve looked. And I didn’t want to shell out $30.00 or more for just the one song that I liked. My wife will confirm that I liked the song, because I periodically sing the refrain when I’m feeling a bit contrary.

But when Grooveshark, one of the better online music services out there. was in its prime, my song – my cherished, silly song – finally showed up. So now I can file that little bit of ephemera away, I know it’s out there, I can listen to it whenever I want (’cause I’m a dinosaur!) and move on to the next 50 billion items.

Its a curse, but I’ve learned to live with it.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

The Cricket Chorus: Reality trumps the Internet Once Again

I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen this story pop up on various social media and fora:

“Someone Recorded Crickets then Slowed Down the Track, And It Sounds Like Humans Singing”

For myself, I had doubts about this the first time I heard it – I found several tracks of crickets singing, slowed them down to various speeds, and they sounded like… drunken crickets singing. The shared articles usually include the sentence,

“Though it sounds like human voices, everything you hear in the recording is the crickets themselves.”


Well, as lovely as it sounds, it just ain’t so. It’s actually a multi-track recording, consisting of crickets and the beautiful operatic voice of Bonnie Jo Hunt.


You can read the full story at ScienceBlogs. Edit: This matter is not at all clear. I suggest that you read all the comments at the ScienceBlogs article and come to your own conclusion. A commenter named Thibaut refutes the claims made there and provides some of his own experimental results, but other comments back up the claims of the ScienceBlogs author and provide additional information as to the origin of the viral track. For myself, until I see further confirmation that crickets can be made to sound like a human chorus through audio manipulation, I remain unconvinced.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

The Czar of the Tenderloin

When I was little, my mother used to sing bits and snatches of songs to me  that she remembered from her own childhood. One that always stuck in my mind was “The Czar of the Tenderloin,” which she told me she often heard sung by her uncle, Leo Marshall.

Frances, Lucille, Bill & Vic Rogers with Leo Marshall

Leo Marshall, center in rear, with his wife Lucile Rogers Marshall (right front) and her siblings Frances, William, and Victor, December 1970

Years later, at the 80th birthday party of my grandmother Frances, (Leo’s sister-in-law), he sang it for the assembled family one last time. It was two years before his death, and the rendition was hesitant and shaky, but all the more lovely for his still being able to remember as much as he did.

As I grew older, I often wondered about the origins of the song, and if there were any more of it than the little bits Mother sang.

And then came the Internet, the modern-day Areopagus (Acts 17:21). As the body of the world’s knowledge is slowly but surely gathered and preserved online, not everything happens at once. For years I searched and scraped the web, but always came up poor… until today.


Notice the nightstick on the cover.

Czar2 Czar3 Czar4 Czar5

The Lyrics

America has a President and England has a Queen,
While Germany’s great Emperor sits ruling all serene,
The Indians have their medicine man, Bavaria a king,
But none of these high diplomats are quite the proper thing.

For in gay New York where the gay Bohemians dwell,
There’s a Colony called the Tenderloin, though why I cannot tell,
A certain man controls the place with no regard for coin,
The Czar, the Czar, the Czar of the Tenderloin.


The Czar of the Tenderloin,
With great propriety, seeks notoriety,
But the girls all shun the society
Of the Czar of the Tenderloin.

Each evening through the Tenderloin the Czar will gayly prance,
With whiskers well divided just to give the wind a chance,
His bodyguard behind him scouting for a finish fight,
Arresting everything that’s left because it isn’t right.

Piano legs must now be clothed with care,
And he’s ordered all the trees cut down because their limbs were bare,
He’s going to build a little church which everyone must join,
The Czar, the Czar, the Czar of the Tenderloin.


His hobby is arresting shoes whenever they are tight,
He also nabs electric lights when when they go out at night,
The sun came out one morning and he ordered its arrest,
The moon was full, he pulled it in and claimed it was a pest.

One day on the Tenderloin, a maiden changed her mind,
Now the Czar thought that was naughty so the girl was quickly “fined.”
He arrested a cook for beating an egg, now don’t that take the coin,
The Czar, the Czar, the Czar of the Tenderloin.


This 1897 song by Bob Cole and Billy Johnson is based on the life and times of Alexander S. “Clubber” Williams, a notoriously corrupt but effective police inspector who ruled over New York’s Tenderloin district with an iron fist and a wooden club. At the end of his career he was reputed to have said that he never clubbed anyone who didn’t deserve it. The name of that part of town, the northwest corner of which is now Times Square, came from William’s statement that “I’ve been having chuck steak ever since I’ve been on the force, and now I’m going to have a bit of tenderloin,” said because of the lucrative business of protection payments from legitimate and illegitimate businesses alike. Prior to Williams’ reign, the district was known as “Satan’s Circus.” San Francisco also has a Tenderloin district, and the term has come to be synonymous with a seedy, ill-reputed or red-light district of town.


Manhattan’s historical districts, the Tenderloin indicated by a star.


Emile Berliner’s Gramophone 78 rpm record. “The Czar of the Tenderloin,” sung by Will F. Denny. Recorded July 14, 1897

With thanks to Tim Gracyk, you can hear Will F. Denny singing an abridged version of the song at YouTube, but I can still hear Uncle Leo singing it as clearly as though it were yesterday.

The Old Wolf has spoken.