As usual, my poor old noggin is jam-packed full of interesting “stuff” that’s come my way. For example, while trying to look something up in the periodic table recently, I ran across this Food Chemistry Periodic Table, which is bursting at the seams with nuggets of knowledge and tidbits of trivia.
In my relatively recent blog — A Max by Any Other Name Would Smell — I made mention of the fact that, when I was a young man, I had a friend whose nickname was Billy Shears (sad to relate, Shears was too close to the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant when it melted down, and he passed away about 16 years ago due to an unusual type of brain tumor that may well have been caused by the disaster).
Well, shortly after my blog posted, I saw the following dialog on the Quara.com website in which Graham Talbot answered the question “Why do the Beatles talk about Billy Shears in Sgt. Pepper?” as follows:
Billy Shears is just a made-up name. It helped to impress upon the listener the idea that they were listening not to The Beatles, but a band from a past age when brass bands had odd and sometimes long names; for example, Hetton Colliery Silver Prize Band was a real brass band. Soloists would occasionally be introduced to the audience if they had a leading solo in a tune, so quite often the band leader would say something like ‘And now we’re going to play (such and such a tune) and we’re pleased to welcome Albert Postlethwaite on cornet who will be playing the solo. Take a bow Albert!’
You may already be aware that the whole Sgt Pepper idea was simply that they would be a fictitious band. This was so they could ‘escape’ The Beatles legacy and just write and record what they wanted without any preconceived ideas about what they should write and record.
The name came from a discussion between Paul and Mal Evans who had queried what the S and P stood for on two sachets that came with the food on a flight. Paul explained the Salt & Pepper and that led to the idea of Sgt Pepper. Although he may not have realised the connection, he may have subconsciously remembered that Sgt Randall Pepper was the name of the policeman who forged an unlikely friendship with the band while running their security detail during a 24-hour visit to Toronto in 1966.
I tell you, there’s always so much more to learn. Speaking of which, my friend Jay Dowling sent me a link to a mega interesting video — The Most Powerful Computers You’ve Never Heard Of — that blew my socks off with respect to some of the early analog computers.
I love this old analog technology. I also drool over vintage digital technologies. For example, Jay also sent me a link to this Electromechanical Light Chaser of Doom video featuring a couple of new old stock uniselectors
I would LOVE to lay my hands on a couple of these uniselectors (let me know if you have any ideas for where I could source them at a price I can afford). The frustrating thing is that, when I was about 14 years old, I could have picked these little beauties up for a few shillings apiece from my local electronics store (they had boxes of secondhand units that had been retrieved from old telephone switching exchanges).
Sometimes I think that Jay’s mission in life is to give me things to do, because he also sent me an email saying “This will keep you busy like a cat with a laser pointer” accompanying a link to the ParkMySpaceship.com website. This site features a really simple but strangely captivating concept. The idea is that you pick classic spacecraft from science fiction films and TV shows and then superimpose them on Google Maps to see if they will fit in your backyard or local park.
OMG. I just checked. There are still 213 items outstanding in my “Stuff for Cool Beans Blogs” folder that I really want to share (so it’s not just your humble narrator who is frittering away his precious time). Maybe we should do a short series of these “Noggins Full of Stuff” columns to knock a few items off the list. What do you think?