The Bells of Europe


Cathedral Bell

Many years ago my brother Houston told me about a radio documentary entitled “The Bells of Europe,” which came out in 1973. Houston liked it so much that he ordered a cassette tape of the show, which I listened to, as well. It was an excellent show that documented the history of the bells of the cathedrals of Europe, from their creation to the destruction of many to build cannons for war.

The drama was the creation of Peter Leonhard Braun, a German radio pioneer. Braun’s intent was take radio outside of the studio. With audio recording equipment improving and becoming more portable, Braun wanted to explore the possibilities of creating audio documentaries on-site, and the Bells of Europe was the first of these documentaries.


Farewell Spock


Live Long and Prosper

Yesterday the world learned of the death of Leonard Nimoy, Mr. Spock of Star Trek fame. As you might imagine, there has already been a tremendous amount of eulogizing about a beloved character, actor, and human being. I don’t intend to repeat that, or post yet another image of the funeral scene from Wrath of Khan. There will be plenty of reminiscing online to go around. I will, however, briefly speak of my own memories of the character.

I was/am a Trekkie. I was one of those that could give the title of the episode during the first few seconds of airing. I could speak the lines before they said them on TV. I was not, however, a Trekker – one who dons fake uniforms and attends conventions. That’s probably only from lack of opportunity.

I remember my family watching Star Trek during its first run. I, however, was rarely allowed to watch it because it came on after my bedtime. I do remember those rare opportunities to stay up and watch the show on our old black and white TV. Remember that this was long before videotape or DVR, so if you missed the broadcast, you missed the show. I had huge gaps in my Trek knowledge.

In elementary school we would play Star Trek on the playground. My friend Michael Starnes played the role of Captain Kirk, Scott Wallace was Engineer Scott, and I was Spock. We would spend our recess time pretending to beam down to weird planets, and that our fellow classmates were aliens. Yeah, I fit right in with my classmates. I don’t remember which of my friends played McCoy, but of those mentioned, Michael died tragically in a drowning, and Scott many years later in an auto accident.

Fast forward a few years…

By this time the show was in syndication. I was staying with my brother, Houston, in North Augusta one summer. His next door neighbor lived on a hill, so they were able to get an obscure TV signal that carried the reruns. I would go over every day at 2:00 to watch the show for three weeks. I was hooked.

I started to collect Star Trek memorabilia. I had a model phaser, communicator, and tricorder trio. I had the blueprints to the Enterprise, and I had the technical manual. I’d read “The Making of Star Trek” by Stephen Whitfield, and my knowledge of Trek Lore was increasing.

I along with everyone else on the planet who had an interest in the subject, was drawn to Spock. He seemed the most reasonable character in the series, as the rest of the show began to look sillier with age.

Leonard Nimoy, of course, and many other roles. Now it’s fun to go back and look at a very young Nimoy in “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”, “Gunsmoke,” “Bonanza,” and other shows. Nimoy continued as “The Amazing Paris” in “Mission:Impossible”, but had a hard time finding non-Spock roles later. He would return to that role in “The Next Generation” and in the blasphemous reboot of Star Trek.

I could keep going, but I’ve not said anything new, or anything thousands won’t already post online. So, let’s just say, “Farewell, Spock.” May you find new adventures.

Lost Roddenberry


Gene Roddenberry

Quick, let’s play a game. What do the following actors have in common?


OK, that one was probably too easy. Each of these actors played a character named James Bond.

How about another one? What do all these characters have in common?


Right, that one was too easy, too. All of these actors played Batman at one time or another.

Now let’s make it a bit harder. What about these actors? They have something similar in common.


If I told you that the three actors above are Alex Cord, John Saxon, and Kevin Sorbo, would that help? (And, no, they didn’t all play Hercules.) OK, I’ll tell you. All three of these played a character named Dylan Hunt. More on that a bit later.

Here’s one last one. These three also have something in common. Two should be very recognizable.


The inclusion of Leonard Nimoy and Brent Spiner in the last set might make you think Star Trek. (Well, that, and the title of the post) But who’s this third guy? It turns out that all of the actors in those last two sets have been involved with projects created by legendary Gene Roddenberry. As Dwight and I were working on our list of science fictions predictions we started talking about Roddenberry projects, and Dwight suggested a blog post on Lost Roddenberry. So, here it goes… (more…)

Days of Future Past



Here it is! Here’s the first episode of the Random Connections podcast!

The first episode is based on one of the earliest posts on the blog. I had made a list of science fiction predictions that would have come to pass by 2004 in a post entitled “Yesterday’s Tomorrows.” Ten years later I updated the list in “Yesterday’s Tomorrows, Revisited.”

This year, 2015, is a landmark for retro-futurists. It’s the year of Back to the Future, Part 2. Quite a bit has already been written in popular culture about the things that had been predicted that we don’t have – flying cars, hoverboards, and Jaws 13.

This podcast episode is in three parts, first, I asked several scientists what they thought about these predictions. Which predictions were the biggest disappointments? What inventions would they LIKE to see? In part two I look at some predictions that have come true, including a personal observation about a 1963 short story. Finally, Dwight Moffitt and I run down an updated list from the Yesterday’s Tomorrows post.

So, enjoy! I’m already working on the next episode, which should come out next month.

Update: After listening to the episode, I wasn’t happy with it. Therefore, I’ve done some brutal editing. I have left the original available. If you would like the full, director’s cut, you can download it here:

Random Connections – Days of Future Past, Director’s Cut

Also, the podcast is now available in iTunes. Be sure to subscribe!

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…)

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