Bum Steer Roast


Introduction. 1

BSR 1994. 1

BSR 1996. 1

BSR 1997. 2



The Bum Steer Roast (“BSR”) was a customer-organized event at the annual NOTIS Users Group Meeting at which customers, fueled by liberal consumption of alcohol, “roasted” the NOTIS staff and product; 1990-7. 


It was invented by Leigh Williams of Stephen F. Austin University (-- and other Texans).


Alan Manifold wrote songs and scripts and performed (with various co-singers and accompanists) at the event.


Harry Samuels, of U. Alabama (later, Northwestern), was the regular emcee.


Joe Notis ” was a regular from 1993 to 1997. 


YouTube videos of the 1994 and 1996 Bum Steer Roasts, courtesy of Alan Manifold; 1997 Bum Steer Roast recorded by Ben Schapiro / uploaded to the website by Jerry Specht.


1994 has the classic, best Joe Notis, but 1997 is an absolute musical tour de force


Note:  For 1994 and 1996, each link is a YouTube video; for 1997, there’s a single link to a video of the entire Roast, and the individual links are to the lyrics for each song.


BSR 1994

Each link is to a YouTube video.

  1 Preliminaries                             

  2 A COBOL Tale                               

  3 A joke or two                              

  4 King of the Code                           

  5 Wait Patiently                             

  6 On Hold to Evanston                        

  7 Thank God We're a NOTIS Site

  8 Joe Notis


BSR 1996

Follow along with Alan’s 1996 script , including lyrics.


Each link is to a YouTube video.

  1 Preliminaries                             

  2 Steer of the Year Award                    

  3 Roadkill Special Achievement Award   

  4 Back at N.U.G.M.  

  5 6.2! 6.3!                                  

  6 Zawislak

  7 We're Down                                 

  8 Technical Writer                           

  9 Rocky Raccoon, TECH1                       

 10 Written All In C                           

 11 When We're 6.4                             

 12 I Should Have Known Better Than to Try 6.2


BSR 1997 

Alan does Elvis … fantastically!  Carolyn Coco gets down.  Brilliant guitar by Roy Lechich.  Don’t miss Tim’s ‘tacet’s on “Return To Vendor”….

View the entire video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JgMPfEHtRvs&feature=youtu.be .


The following is a modified version of Alan’s “NUGM 1997 Entertainment Script” – with times added.     (Alan’s original script can be seen at:  http://mashiyyat.net/poetry.notis/bsrscript97.html  .)   

Emcee parts are read (with many additions and changes) by Harry Samuels.


0:00:00   Getting ready for the show.  

1:45:00   Harry …

The Bum Steer Roast started back in 1990 as a contest between local beers from the Rustbelt and the heart of Texas, to see which was the king of beers. Four years later, the hit song of BSR '94 was "King of the Code", an ode to the NOTIS Tech1s everywhere. This year, we turn again to the King for inspiration. The King of Rock and Roll was (or is, depending on if you believe the National Enquirer) Elvis Presley. Tonight's music is all inspired by the music of Elvis. We're going to break with tradition and break up the music, too. We'll have a first set now, followed by the awards, then a second set later to wake you up again.


[Links are to the lyrics for each song.  (All written by Alan Manifold.)

View the entire video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JgMPfEHtRvs&feature=youtu.be .


7:00:00  Song 1:  Rosemont Hotel

9:40:00  Harry …

The band has lots of songs for you tonight, so they're going to try to combine the next three of them into a little medley. The only thing these three songs have in common is the key of C. If they go really sharp, it may end up as the Key of C++. They'll start with some advice to newbie Tech1s (if such creatures still exist in these latter days), then expose the truth behind Ameritech Library Services and end up with the wish of everyone in every NOTIS library: Just Let Me Run on NOTIS LMS.

0:10:50  Song 2:  Don't Be Dumb
0:13:10  Song 3:  
Ma Bell In Disguise
0:15:20  Song 4:  
(Just Wanna Run On) LMS

0:17:45  Harry … 

Band intros: 

·       Roy Lechich, Yale, guitar;

·       Tim Prettyman, University of Michigan, bass; 

·       Nancy Colyar, Louisiana State University, vocals; 

·       Carolyn Coco, LOUIS Consortium, vocals; 

·       Alan Manifold, Purdue University, vocals … and sax!


A distinguishing characteristic of most mainframe shops is how slowly they move forward. Sometimes this is a bad thing, but in the case of NOTIS release 6.2, waiting a while turned out to be a good idea. The next song features that sweetheart of LOUIS, Carolyn Coco, suggesting what you might want to do with Release 6.2.

0:20:45  Song 5:  Release 6.2

0:23:20  Harry … 

Attendees at NUGM have had the great privilege of greeting a new head of the company each of the past five years at NUGM. The President du jour is Lana Porter, who has been on board for most of the last year, but who is suffering through her first NUGM. Some ALS staff members have been hanging around for years waiting to get their names in one of Alan's poems or songs, but Lana will no doubt be thrilled to discover that she is the butt, or rather the theme, of the next song, to the tune of “It's Now Or Never”.

0:25:25  Song 6:  O Lana Porter

[Alan outdoes himself to the tune of “It's Now Or Never” – with Lana in the audience!]

0:28:30  Harry …

Most of the people who work intimately with NOTIS have been working intimately with NOTIS for many years. Although there aren't a lot left who remember releases numbered in the three's, there are a few. Some of the bugs that we fixed back in those releases have stayed fixed for years, and we were all quite used to them. Imagaine our horror, then, to discover that with release 6.2, much of the foundation of the system for the last three years or so had been yanked out from under us in favor of some new- fangled design that would cause Dr. Aagaard to roll over in his grave if he weren't still alive. We all know who made the system work before. Who's going to make it work now?

0:30:30  Song 7:  I Was The One

0:32:20  Harry …

The band's going to close this set with one final number. We spend lots of time ragging on NOTIS and on the company that sold it to us, but most of us have a soft place in our heads, whoops, that should be hearts, for this time-honored software. As many of us prepare to move on to our next generation library system, let's remove our hats in tribute to the software that has kept so many of us employed for so long.

0:33:15  Song 8:  I Love NOTIS LMS

<End of Set 1>

0:35:50  Break  (with camera rolling)

0:39:00  Bum Steer Roast Awards, etc.

Set 2   View the entire video (both sets 1 and 2) at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JgMPfEHtRvs&feature=youtu.be .

0:48:00  Harry …

How’s this for a dumb question: Have you ever gotten a release tape from NOTIS that didn’t work quite the way the documentation said it would? It’s only recently that we got documentation with a release, and we have yet to get one that works the way it says. Some of us have had occasional fantasies of what we might like to do with those tapes after a few abortive attempts to load them. Here’s one such fantasy, again featuring Carolyn on lead vocals.

0:49:45  Song 9:  Return To Vendor   [Don’t miss this one:  Great lyrics, vocals, and a mean sax!]

0:52:30  Harry …

Looking for that next generation system is lots of hard work, and is fraught with peril, given the volatility of the market. We're likely to have library and university administrators pressuring us to make sure that we take into account every single factor that can ever be thought of. But being in the market isn't all bad. There are certain people in the business who want to make sure you're happy, and they'll do almost anything to brighten your day. Here's some advice to vendors from someone who doesn't mind the attention.

0:54:10  Song 10:  Treat Me Nice

0:56:40  Harry …

Over the years, some ALS staffers have asked Alan to put their names in his songs. It's widely suspected that the only reason some of them stay with ALS is the off-chance that they might be named someday. Two years ago, Alan named then-president Tom Quarton and VPs Maribeth Ward and John Kolman, all of whom have since left. Last year, one of Alan's songs featured Rich Zawislak, who has also since taken leave of the company (not to mention his senses). This year, Alan is doing the NOTIS user community a favor by writing a song for Ben Schapiro.

0:59:10  Song 11:  Schapiro

1:02:00  Harry …

Even in its early days, NOTIS was a company with a sense of humour. Throughout the years, this good humour has shown itself in the parties they have put on, in the noises we heard at the General Session two years ago, in the ability of the company's officers to poke fun at themselves, and in many of the people they have hired. In any case, Alan is very much counting on the company having a good sense of humour through the next song.

1:03:20  Song 12:  That's When Your Headaches Begin

1:07:00  Harry …

We in the field have often wondered what the Ameritech Support staff say about us after they get off the phone, or what they'd like to say while they're on the phone. The band is going to try another short medley, starting with one that might answer that question. The second song in the medley is another love song for our favorite system. These songs again feature Carolyn's searing vocals.

1:08:30  Song 13:  LIB1
1:10:45  Song 14:  
Ain't That Loving You, NOTIS

1:13:00  Harry …

The first topic addressed by Team NOTIS at its inception was the poor quality of the JCL distributed by NOTIS. The message was loud and clear: we need good-quality, tested JCL, as an integral part of the product. The ALS response on that point should tell you a lot about the efficacy of Team NOTIS.

1:14:30  Song 15:  JCL

Harry … “The band has one final number, but they're going to save it for a slam-bang finale. We'll pause here for an Ameritech response.”

1:17:30  Break  (with camera rolling)

1:19:50  “Joe Notis" act

Jim Lewis'

1:26:50  story

1:30:15  song  (“’Neath the crust of the old apple pie”)


1:32:10  Harry …

The biggest distinction between NOTIS and other systems on the market is that the customers get the source code with the system. Every site has had the ability to make NOTIS work best for them. After a while, though, hacking the code was just about as much entertainment sa necessity. We had to keep up with Michigan and FCLA, although most of us didn't try to keep up with Northwestern or Harvard. The band is going to end with a celebration of hacking. If you like to dance, now's the time to get up and go for it. Thank you all for listening.

1:33:40  Song 16:  NOTIS Code

1:36:40 – 1:39:40:  Random conversations.