More Moog


Bob Moog with His Moog Synthesizers

Ken Cothran was very indulgent. He waited patiently as I tried out all of the gear in the Moog showroom. After our Moog Adventure we were having a discussion on Facebook, and he confessed that most of what he had heard sounded like noise, and he wasn’t sure how such an instrument would be used in composition. Ken wasn’t criticizing the instrument, but just didn’t have the background with it.

I explained that for the most part at the Moog Store they were just putting the instrument through its paces, demonstrating the the types of sounds it could create. This would be similar to running a few scales on a chosen instrument. The Moogs are monophonic, and are meant to be part of a toolbox of instruments, which would include multi-track recorders and sequencers.

As I was trying to come up with a good example of how these instruments could be used (Monophonic Moogs specifically, as opposed to modern polyphonic digital keyboards), the first thing that came to mind was the classic – Switched on Bach, by Wendy Carlos.

Switched-On_Bach_first_sleeve_(seated_Bach) (more…)

The Phantom of Genevieve’s

Phantom of the Opera Program

Photo by Carin Perretta

Continuing the impossibly busy weekend…

Today we had friends drop by for a visit. We were happy to have Steve and Linda Serkiz come by for coffee. I hadn’t seen them in years. I was at Furman with both of them, and Steve was in one of Laura’s first classes that she taught there. Steve is now down at the Savannah River Site as a research scientist, doing some very cool things with carbon nano tubes and other nano technology. I may have to wrangle a visit so that I can get a closer look at Ellenton and some of the other SRS ghost town sites.

In the evening I was supposed to be two places at once. I was SUPPOSED to be singing the National Anthem at the Greenville Drive game with the Greenville Chorale. However, the opportunity to attend Phantom of the Opera at the Peace Center came up, and we opted for that instead. (more…)

Altered RPMs


This conversation started on Facebook, and the results were entertaining enough that I thought I would summarize it here. If you’ve already read it and commented there, then just skip this post.

It all started when a friend directed me to a site that had a slowed down version of Dolly Parton’s hit “Jolene.” It was as if someone had taken the 45 single and played it at 33 1/3 RPMs on a turntable. The result was a slow, haunting version that sounds amazing.

I reposted this on my Facebook timeline and got lots of comments. One commenter doubted the veracity of the record, and thought that it had been faked. I suggested taking the original audio file and importing it into Audacity, then slowing it down by 27% digitally. Rather than wait, I decided to do it myself. (more…)

Taylors Renaissance Revisited


Red Chair 2

Last week I visited a new coffee shop in the old Southern Bleachery Mills in Taylors. This week I noticed that they were going to have live music Friday night, and that the artist studios I had seen on that last visit would be open for First Friday. After dinner in Greer, Laura and I decided to check it out.

At first she was quite skeptical. I took the back way, following Chick Springs Road from Greer into Taylors. It worked perfectly, but Laura had no clue where we were going. Her skepticism increased when I drove onto the old mill property. However, when she saw all the cars and activity, that skepticism diminished.

Due South Coffee was hopping. They had opened two of the large garage doors leading into their space, and we could hear the music all over the parking lot. However, we decided to check out the art studios first. (more…)

Radium and Radiant Music

These Shining Lives

“These Shining Lives”
Furman Theater

It was an arts-filled weekend for us. This weekend was concert weekend for us, and was also the weekend of a Furman Theater production of “These Shining Lives” by Melanie Marnich.

Saturday morning was dress rehearsal. We started we what has gotten to be our traditional pre-rehearsal breakfast. This time ten of us gathered at Northgate Soda Shop for breakfast. It was a great gathering, and we enjoyed the company before getting to work.

image (more…)

Yesterday’s Tomorrows, Revisited

amazing vintage sci-fi art

“If” Magazine Cover
from Flickr user “Modern Fred”

Hard to believe that 2014 will mark ten years of RandomConnections. As such, throughout the year I may be dredging up some old posts (basically because I’m lazy and it saves having to come up with new ideas.)

One of my personal favorites was from July 2004, when I wrote a post entitled “Yesterday’s Tomorrows.” In that post I put together a list of things that would have already happened, if various SciFi novels and movies were actually correct. I figured that with everyone making predictions for the new year, it might be a good idea to revisit and update this ten year old list. (more…)

Thanksgiving and Remembrances


Furman vs Wofford-003

Lots has happened over the last couple of weeks. I haven’t been timely in keeping up with the blog, and now Thanksgiving is upon us. I’ll try to play a bit of catch-up here.

First, remembrances…

Last week the world marked the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. There were lots of specials on various news outlets. There were all of the per-requisite conspiracy theories, but I found most of these to be quite interesting.

Many remember where they were when they received the news. I was only two years old at the time, about to turn three. I don’t remember anything. The first person I remember as president was Lyndon Johnson. I definitely remember Nixon’s first election as president.

Also premiering 50 years ago was Doctor Who. In fact, it debuted the day of the assassination. The producers insisted that the first episode be broadcast twice, since no one was watching the first time. William Hartnell’s Doctor in “An Unearthly Child” was quite different from modern interpretations of the character. BBC had an excellent dramatization of the production of those early episodes. The next night was the actual episode to commemorate the anniversary – “The Day of the Doctor”. The episode was broadcast without commercials, and was absolutely fantastic. It hit all of the right notes for the Whovian fandom, and was immensely satisfying. (more…)

2013 Upper SC State Fair

Rides in Motion

Rides in Motion, but No People

I really hated that I couldn’t stick around at the South Carolina State Fair a couple of weeks ago to get some photos of the rides at night. The lights are always amazing, and are perfect for long-exposure photography. So, I decided the next best thing would be to head to the Upper South Carolina State Fair on a weekday evening and take some shots.

When I arrived the parking lot was a bit sparse. I found a place right next to the gate. It was a Tuesday evening, and I wasn’t expecting huge crowds. However, this place looked like a ghost town. I’d like to chalk it up to being an off night. The Upper State Fair is a bit sleazier than the State Fair, and the lack of people just exacerbated the problem. It was downright creepy.

Fair at Night
Snowcones (more…)

A Visit to the State Fair

State Fair Tilt Shift

South Carolina State Fair

For years I’ve wanted to visit the South Carolina State Fair. I’ve passed by the empty fair grounds so many times on my way to meetings at SCETV. Once I even attended a meeting while the fair was in session, but didn’t have time to stop. This year, now that I don’t have obligations during the week, I was determined to make it happen. I called Dwight, since he lives in Columbia, to see if he wanted to come along.

We had planned to do this on Thursday, but I had looked at my calendar wrong, and discovered a conflict. Yes, retired people do have scheduling conflicts. Fortunately, Dwight was able to shift his schedule, and we were able to head down on Thursday.

October 9 was opening day. Gates opened at noon, so we headed on over and got into a VERY long line.

State Fair Lines
Waiting in Line

However, the line split into several openings, so when the time came, it moved more efficiently that we thought it would. At noon a recording of the Star Spangled Banner played over the loudspeakers, and we were off.

Our first stop was not the ticket booth, but a security check-point. There was a magnetometer and the works. I was loaded down with camera equipment, but the thing that held me up was my little Barlow knife. They wouldn’t let it through. I could either surrender it, or walk it back to the car. Knowing that the line was moving fairly quickly, I chose the latter rather than lose a knife. Fortunately, the security lady let Dwight hold my place in line so I was able to skip ahead.

Security Station

Even though the gates were open at noon, only the exhibits opened at that time. The midway wouldn’t open until 3:00. That was OK, though. I had been lamenting the demise of all of the agricultural exhibits at the local county fairs, so that’s where we would have started anyway. (more…)

1960s Flashback – The Wild Wild West


Wild Wild West

Quick. Complete the phrase with a four-letter word (no, not that kind)…

Captain James T. ______

If you somehow ignored the title of this post and all of the visual cues and filled in the last name “Kirk”, then you’re wrong, wrong, wrong. I speak of none other than James T. West, former captain in the US Cavalry and special agent in the US Secret Service, main character in The Wild, Wild West.

No, I’m not talking about that feature length abomination that wasted the talents of Will Smith, Kevin Klein, and Kenneth Branaugh. However, I seem to have been coming across lots of references to that movie lately. IO9.com seems to refer to it frequently in various lists of failures of one type or another (10 Movie Flops that Totally Deserved It.) Seeing so many references to the 1999 movie made me long for the original Wild Wild West TV show, starring Robert Conrad as Jim West and Ross Martin as his partner, Artemis Gordon.

The series premiered in 1965 and ran for four seasons, until 1969. The original pilot was pitched as “James Bond on a Horse”, and there are lots of similarities between the two characters. The first name is no coincidence. Both James Bond and James West were secret agent types whose cover was as a playboy gambler type, and there were evil megalomaniacs, women, cool vehicles with extraordinary capabilities, and gadgets – lots of them. And that’s not all. Richard Kiel was a regular henchman (Voltaire) on Wild Wild West, but is best known as “Jaws” during the Roger Moore era of James Bond.

Truth be told, there was much more overlap between these 1960s franchises, and not just James Bond. The similarity with Star Trek was also not a coincidence. According to IMDB

Television shows of the era that filmed at the same studios often shared minor cast members. It is common to see familiar faces in episodes of Star Trek, Batman, Mission: Impossible, The Wild Wild West, Lost in Space and The Time Tunnel. Many of these people had previously appeared on Twilight Zone which had just ended in 1964.

Each episode was entitled “The Night of The…” something or other. I knew there must be some episodes of the old show online somewhere, and I wasn’t disappointed. I watched the first episode, “The Night of the Inferno” which introduced the characters and their train, The Wanderer. The show wasn’t as campy as I had remembered, and was actually quite good, albeit with a somewhat predictable plot. However, I kept wanting to switch West’s name with “Bond”, and I laughed out loud when he introduced himself as “West, James West” at one point. I’m sure that was intentional. The show also featured a young Suzanne Pleshette.

As I watched the episode I was reminded of one other quirk. The show kept reusing the same sets. The sweeping staircase in the pilot episode was seen, slightly redecorated, in many other episodes.


The first couple of seasons were in Black and White, but switched to color for later seasons. It also featured an iconic theme song and some spectacular graphics that changed with, and became a part of each episode.

I seem to remember that the shows did get more over-the-top as the series progressed. There were more elements of steampunk and absurd plot lines. It was all still fun, though. I think this is where the movie fell flat. It focused too much on the steampunk, and left out most of the soul of the show that made it enjoyable.

The show was eventually cancelled, not because of ratings but largely due to CBS’s concerns over excessive violence. Oddly enough, this was one of the few shows my dad would let us watch, despite its violence. We used to joke that he would watch a dozen men shot and killed on TV and not bat an eye, but if you heard one swear word, or saw a scantily clad women, he would change the channel. Somehow WWW passed his filters. He certainly wouldn’t let us watch James Bond movies when they eventually made it to TV.

So here, for your viewing pleasure, in five parts on YouTube, I present “The Night of the Inferno.” Embedding seems to be disabled, but at least I can provide links. Enjoy.

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