I got a big surprise from the old-time radio today. It's from Lum and Abner, a charming 15-minute character-driven serial comedy, principally rambling conversations about what's going on rather than acted-out action, about the residents of tiny Pine Ridge, Arkansas. Most of the characters were played by Chet Lauck and Norris ``Tuffy'' Goff, and the stories drifted endearingly, like The Andy Griffith Show without the relentless narrative pace. It ran from 1931 to 1955.
(For one season they tried the show as a half-hour sitcom, with live studio audience and self-contained stories, which worked about as well as a laugh track on Law and Order would. Mercifully they went back to the quarter-hour, audience-free format, with sprawling serial stories.)
Anyway, Pine Ridge went through a brief infatuation with Society and Culture; and Abner, arriving late to the fad, gets into it big time, driving his wife and friends crazy. Lum was describing the nightclub Abner dragged his wife and Lum to, the musicians he tipped excessively, the dance floor he dragged his wife onto ... ``They was doin' what Abner called, ah, karaoke.'' ``Elizabeth dancing the karaoke?'' ``Well, he was. She was just standing there, blinking, sort of ... embarrassed, I think.''
Um ... guh? I can't track down the airdate, but who heard of karaoke in the US before 1980, and when was it dancing, and what changed between at-latest 1955 and 1980?
Trivia: On STS-1 Columbia's computers had eight separately executable programs, the longest of which was 105.2 32-bit kilowords. Source: Development of the Space Shuttle, 1972-1981, T A Heppenheimer.
Currently Reading: Einstein's Clocks, Poincaré 's Maps, Peter Galison.