Thursday, August 30, 2007

Re-create a famous 1950s sci fi film moment, win $$$

Film-makers and artists are invited to enter a contest to recreate any moments they please from any 1950s sci fi film!

Top prize $100, second prize $50, third prize $25, and of course all entries are profiled at The Thunder Child so that all contestants will get exposure for their work.

See the link for complete details!
If you're a film-maker or an artist, this contest is for you!

And yes, I did get the idea from the contest the MLB is running right now, for people to recreate famous moments from baseball history. Why should MLB fans have all the fun?

And on a similar note...heads bowed and pray to whatever diety you hold dear that Seattle Mariners Coach McLaren gets a clue and never, ever uses pitcher Rick White again, and platoons Ben Broussard with Richie Sexson for the rest of the season, if not benching Sexson altogether!!!!

A shift in the kaleidoscope - Larry Craig

I have not been paying a great deal of attention to the scandal unfolding around Senator Larry Craig, the senator who pleaded guilty to "lewd behavior" in a bathroom... in a Minnesota airport, I believe, and yet says he did nothing wrong. [And from one standpoint...he didn't. Touched shoes, gave a 'signal' that could be interpreted that he wanted sex - but didn't have sex or even show any of his organs to the cop!)

Nevertheless, just a typical hypocritical politician, I thought.

But then today I was listening to the Tom Hannity show, and Hannity played the tape of the police officer interrogating Craig...and the officer is asking leading questions, assuring Craig (and I paraphrase) "I don't go to the media, you pay a fine, that's it, but if you plead innocent your name will be dragged through the mud."

It's a very enlightening tape... but not strictly about the Craig case.

Craig is an old guy, an experienced guy. He should have known better than to let himself be buffaloed into pleading guilty to something he didn't do. (Although perhaps that line, "It won't get into the media," had him fooled.)

But what about young men and women - in any instance of contact with police, not just acting stupidly in a bathroom - is this how the police treat them? Coercing them to confess to things they didn't do because then it'll be just a lot easier on them, than if they do try to prove their innocence?

The officer on the tape had his patter down pat, he'd obviously been carefully trained on how to handle suspects/the public, and he knew how to manipulate the conversation so that it would go the way he wanted it to go. He also sounded like an arrogant, condescending creep whom I'd have loved to slap!

Life as a police officer is hard, of course. You have to deal with all kinds of criminals these days who would just as soon shoot you as look at you, and many people can look you in the face and say it's Sunday when it's Monday and look innocent doing so - I don't deny it.

But I just wonder how many innocent young teens, trusting in the police, have been turned into fearful, distrusting "ex-cons" because they were promised a quick and easy solution to their problem if they pled guilty, only to find out that the cop was less than straightforward when the chips played out.

The only solution of course is for teens not to use fake IDS (I used to work with a woman - white, middle class, whose daughter had been arrested because she had a fake ID, although she had not attempted to give that ID to the officer. I won't go into details on it, but that's how I know these things happen.)

Kids also should keep their feet to themselves in bathrooms, and if they drop a piece of toilet paper on the floor, leave it there. For hygenic reasons if nothing else!

And if you must have sex with someone whom you met like 5 seconds ago in a bathroom stall, at least have the good sense to use a condom! Better still, have some respect for yourself and just say're a human being, not an animal.

End of rant.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Rocky Jones, Space Ranger photobook

So, any SF televisions fans out there, have you ever watched Rocky Jones, Space Ranger? (1954) Probably not. After all it's over 53 years old, filmed in...gasp...b&w, and doesn't have the sophistication or special effects that today's SF TV has.

And that's true, but there's a lot of fun in these old programs. First off, of course, is the fact that shows like Rocky Jones, Tom Corbett, and Space Patrol, filmed in the early 1950s, long before the space race began in 1957, show us what those early 1950s Americans expected life a few decades later to be like. We were in space, and we had heroes to protect us from the villains, etc.

Also there's lots of "tropes" that are now commonplace that were original back then, but of course a lot of cliches as well, for example, the female characters always had to get in a scream or two...

I'm putting together a "photobook," for one episode each, of several of the 1950s space tv shows, starting with Rocky Jones, Space Ranger. If you want to decide if you want to use 30 minutes of your time watching these shows, check out

Rocky Jones photobook

first to decide. It's the episode "Escape Into Space".

All the Rocky Jones eps are available on DVD...most of 'em are in pretty good shape, viewing quality wise...

Monday, August 27, 2007

Harry Potter und der Stein der Weisen

Eine Junge ueberlebt

Mr. und Mrs. Dursley im Ligusterweg Nummer 4 waren stolz darauf, ganz und gar normal zu sein, sehr stolz sogar. Niemand waere auf die Idee bekommen, sie koennten sich in eine merkwuerdige und geheimnisvolle Geschichte verstricken, denn mit solchem Unsinn wollten sie nichts zu tun haben.

That's the first paragraph of the very first Harry Potter book by JK Rowling, or Joanne K. Rowling as she's credited on her books in Germany.

My parents just returned from Germany and brought me, at my request, an audio book of this, as well as the German translation of this, which is called : Harry Potter und der Stein der Weisen (Harry Potter and the Stone of Knowledge).

My German is not such that I'll readily be able to understand what I'm reading, but I intend to learn.

Rather unfortunate, though, as Harry Potter is not my favorite series. But it was the only one I could think of that my parents could easily find in Germany. I'd rather have an Honor Harrington book and audio book, for example, or a Discworld one..

But, I'm pleased with what I've got.

It'll be interesting to see how all the magical words are translated, or if they're just used verbatim.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Reclaiming the Blade

Reclaiming the Blade is a documentary on a history of swordfighting throughout the years in real life and in the movies. Totally cool!

Yeah, I know it's not science fiction, but sword fighting/fencing has long been one of my interests (I'm probably the only one who ever watched Basil Rathbone fencing with Errol Flynn in various classic movies, wishing Rathbone would just skewer Flynn!).

So if you've ever watched the Star Wars light sabre duels with interest, check out the "real thing" via this documentary.

Where do you get *your* info from?

or, if you read something on the internet that isn't backed up by references, page numbers, and proof, don't believe it!

I have "Google Desktop" as my desktop, with several newsfeeds on it from various organizations. Occasionally I get logged out so that when I sign on to my computer, all I get is the "generic" Google desk top, and one of the features of this thing is called "How To Of The Day, a selection where people write and give advice on everything under the sun, from "How to Make a Bead Bugland (for Kids)"
to "How to Change a Bicycle Brake Cable" (those are today's selections) to how to avoid being bitten by a rattle snake, ya da ya da ya da.

And I look at those headlines and I just cringe. Just who are these people writing as if they are experts on the subject, and does anybody really believe they know what they're talking about? I like to think that anyone who, at the time of this writing, is over 30 will be too smart to trust anything written on the Internet, but today's generation, and generations to come, will look at the offerings on the internet, think "Well its in print so it must be true" and not realize that the material they're looking at was written, more likely than not, by some nebbish off the street and not some professional who gets paid to write what he or she knows.

There are plenty of places on the web where aspiring writers can publish their work instantaneously - because they're not paid for it. And if the website isn't paying them for their work - then what they're writing probably isn't any good. Sure, there are exceptions, but more often than not that's the case. Yet I have a sinking suspicion that anyone reading these sites takes anything said there as gospel... Frightening.

Frankly if I want to know how to avoid being bitten by a rattle snake I'm not going to trust what someone on the web says about it, I'll go to a library and get a print book on the subject. Unless I'm visiting not a "generic information" website but one that is devoted to herpetolpgy and one in which every writer has a bio that lists a university degree after the name, or at least decades of experience in the field.

Today, I'm finally able to post to groups at My Space. I was reading through various groups and, in my "Rockets Away! Space Travel Group" someone had posted a definition of a "sounding rocket." And this "someone" knew absolutely nothing about sounding rockets, but stated definitely what they were - rockets where loud noises were made by grenades or other instruments, and the sound and how long it traveled was measured from the ground- some nonsense like that. (The word "sound" in sounding rocket comes from the nautical term to "sound" or take measurements, and has nothing to do with noise as such, and certainly not measuring how long it takes the noise of a grenade exploding on a rocket to reach the ground.)

No one had bothered to respond to this person's post, even to point out that it was nonsense - until today when I did so.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Musical sci fi in New York in September

In September, 2007, two sci fi musicals will be in New York at the New York Musical Theater Festival.

The Brain From Planet X written by Bruce Kimmel and first produced in Los Angeles last year, will be on offer, as well as...

The Last Starfighter, last staged in 2004.

The Thunder Child reviewed the Last Starfighter soundtrack (produced by Kimmel's Kritzerland label) here.

Interestingly - just to show what a small world musical theater is, Noel Katz, whom we interviewed about his (and Tom Carrozza's) musical Area 51 , is also putting on a show there, although his isn't an Sci fi related one.

I'll be doing research on these shows for my sci fi musical theater database, and post that URL here later.

Rocky Jones, Space Ranger

Several months ago I picked up a dollar DVD at Walmart called Space Adventures, featuring 2 episodes of Rocky Jones (Escape into Space and Kips Private War) and Flash Gordon (The Lure of Light and The Subworld Revenge.)

And I've finally started watching them, beginning with Escape into Space.

It's an interesting episode, for all that it's obviously cheaply made - heck, it was 1954. But the principles involved... the criminal escapes into space where Rocky has no jurisdiction over him, and so - halfway through the episode - is letting him go his way, meantime Winky - Jones' sidekick - wants to knock him out, break a few laws, and bring him back to Earth.

What I thought was a hoot and a half was that in this episode, filmed in 1954, the ship has to outrun a meteor storm, so there's to be the crew fasten their seat belts!!! Common sense, eh? Yet in Star Trek, 12 years later, the crew do not have the luxury of seatbelts, and so when we get the turbulence they're always falling out of their chairs, or falling over the corridors (I hope in the re-digitized Star Treks that they change those "crew rolling first left and then right" shots to shots of the crew hanging on to rails or handholds alongside the corridor would make so much more sense...

Thursday, August 23, 2007

First Damon Dark book, Biodome, published!

Some months ago, I interviewed Adrian Sherlock, an actor and entrepreneur over in Australia who as produced and starred in several independent TV shows featuring the character of Damon Dark, Oz's answer to the X-files.

Adrian Sherlock Interview

Adrian has just informed me that he's published his first book about Dark, and it is now available from Lulu here:

Biodome link:

I'll be getting a review copy in a couple of weeks and will review it then.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Endeavour Safely Back Home

I have to admit I was extremely worried about the safety of the heroes aboard the Endeavour, but they have returned home safely today.

Pop quiz - can you name the astronauts aboard the Endeavour?
For that matter, can you name all the astronauts that have ever flown aboard all the space shuttles?

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Spaceship once again at BBC 7

I'm pretty sure there's a complete episode to this program here on this blog somewhere, but I don't have time to look for its so I'll just share it all again.

It's an amusing program.

The Spaceship
Comedy sci-fi series by Paul Barnhill and Neil Warhurst. An alien princess proves to be problematic for the crew. Episode 1 of 5.

Saturday, August 18, 2007


I've started an account at MySpace, just to see if there's any way to parlay the vast amount of people there into readers for The Thunder Child.

It's quite an education experience...MySpace is a social utility, i.e. a place for people to meet each other. The color on the pages is predominantly pink, so I assume the users are predominantly women? (Although my own favorite color is blue)... and the ads that you see are all devoted to the male/female sexual experience. (Do guys like it when women make the first move? We asked the guys, see what they had to say!)

However, unlike FaceBook, MySpace has thousands of groups to join, including several that are science related - marine biology, astronomy, etc. I can't do any posting to them for 7 days, however.

I joined up as Visitor X from Sirius... because I'm not really interested in using MySpace to meet people face to face...

I've started a blog called Micromegas, Micromegas Blog, which I will write in the guise of a visitor from Sirius to Earth, looking on at the follies of mankind. (A less sophisticated version of what Voltaire did with his short story Micromegas written several hundred years ago, in which a visitor from Sirius and Saturn came to earth to laugh at mankind's follies.)

I'm not quite sure how their blog function works... I shall post the link here and then see if it works...

Micromegas Blog

Friday, August 17, 2007

Galaxiki: A fictional web 2.0 galaxy

I just received this press release, for a website which sounds pretty cool. I'll be doing an article about it later on for The Thunder Child:

A fictional web 2.0 galaxy created by its own community

EHLERANGE, Luxembourg, August 14th, 2007 - Only seven weeks after its
official launch the Galaxiki website ( is on its way
to become a highly successful web 2.0 site. Galaxiki is a new kind of
wiki based community portal that allows its members to edit stars,
planets and moons in a virtual galaxy, creating an entire fictional
world online. It already got a lot of positive coverage in the
blogosphere and in the media, Linux Journal (
even named it "dot org website of the week" on July 11th.

"It's very exciting to see how many people like Galaxiki! We got a
lot of positive feedback and many suggestions within the past few
weeks", said Jos Kirps, the creator of Galaxiki. "The site is being
updated on a regular basis, new features emerge nearly every day:
improved galaxy exploration tools, search tools, planetary editors or
translated contents for example. We now just launched the movies and
books section, a completely new site area where community members can
manage their private collections of DVDs or books and share
information about them. And we still have a lot of new stuff in the

Galaxiki combines well known web 2.0 features in a revolutionary new
way. Millions of stars, planets, moons, pulsars and black holes can
be explored using an intuitive 2D map. The idea behind Galaxiki is
that community members can create fictional life forms and write
about their histories on their planets. The ease of use attracts all
kinds of users, so that the target audience is not limited to science
fiction and astronomy addicts.

"We're now looking for people willing to help us with translations -
german and french versions of the site are already partly available,
other languages are being prepared", explains Jos Kirps. "Just like
any other community site we heavily rely on active users, and we're
looking forward to see people from all over the world become part of
our world!"

Galaxiki membership and editing community stars is free, but it's
also possible to purchase your own solar system that only you will be
able to edit. Galaxiki also features an online shop offering
astrononmy, science and science fiction related articles; such as
DVDs, books or T-Shirts for example.

About the Galaxiki Project

Launched in July 2007, the Galaxiki Project offers a unique surfing
experience on its Galaxiki community portal. The Galaxiki Project is
headquartered in Ehlerange, Luxembourg, Europe and is currently run
as a private project by its creator Jos Kirps, although it shall be
transformed into a company in the near future. For more information,

Caution Concerning Forward-Looking Statements

This document includes certain forward-looking statements, including
statements regarding The Galaxiki Project's ability to run and
improve it's services, or to create new business models. These
statements are based on the current expectations or beliefs of The
Galaxiki Project, and are subject to uncertainty and changes in
circumstances. Actual results may vary materially from those
expressed or implied by the statements herein. The Galaxiki Project
is under no obligation to, and expressly disclaims any such
obligation to, update or alter their respective forward-looking
statements, whether as a result of new information, future events, or

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Three rants/ Stardust review

Before I get into my rants, not all of them SF related, here's the URL to the review of the new movie, Stardust.

Stardust review by Kristie Groves

The rants

The headline said:

"Poll: Majority mistrustful of upcoming Iraq report"

The first paragraph said:

A majority of Americans don't trust the upcoming report by the Army's top commander in Iraq on the progress of the war and even if they did, it wouldn't change their mind, according to a new poll.

Now, who is this "majority of Americans"?

10,000 people polled? 50,000 people polled? NO

"The poll was based on interviews of 1,029 Americans by telephone between August 6 and 8. The sampling error was plus or minus 4.5 percentage points, except for the questions based on the respondents' support or lack of support of the war, which was plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Where the heck does the news media get off saying "a majority of Americans" when they talked to all of 1,029 people? No one talked to me - did anyone talk to you? They can't talk to me because I've got caller ID and don't answer any phone calls - I'm sure most people have the same thing. So the people these pollsters are talking to are not "representative" of the rest of the US.

Now having said this, I will say that I am not sanguine about the situation in Iraq. Poorly handled from the get go, I don't deny it. But these poll things are said with such confidence about any subject under discussion, with "the majority of Americans think this" being the party line, and it's always buried at the very bottom that the "majority" turns out to be the "majority" of a wopping 1,029 people. Useless! Except to persuade others, who don't have time to read the entire article, to believe what the news media wants it to believe.

Lost Educational Opportunities
I went into a Toys R Us today. I visit this store every few months, just to see all the new toys and see if any are science fiction or fantasy related. I'd buy some, too, if I had room to display them, not to mention the discretionary funds to buy them...

I picked up a coloring book on dinosaurs - 400 pages worth of dinosaurs, and was surprised and somewhat annoyed to see that not a single dinosaur was identified. Why not? I just don't understand it. If you've got kids interested enough in dinosaurs to want to color them, why not provide the kids with the names so that they can take them as a starting point to learn more about the creatures? Even if only one child out of a thousand paid attention to those names, that would be better than nothing.

Casual rudeness
Then I went to my local Walmart to do a bit of shopping. It was the middle of the day so of course the parking lot was packed. And, despite the fact that there are "cart corrals" placed periodically along the rows of cars, it sems like at least half of the carts seem to be just left where the shopper wants to leave 'em, cuz he, she or they can't take 30 extra seconds to run the cart over to one of the corrals.

Now, that's nothing new, of course. Ever since I've been going to grocery stores I've seen that kind of thing and I'm sure you have too. As a matter of fact, I always do my good deed of the day and gather up one or two of the carts - if they've just been left in the middle of one of the parking spaces - on my way into the store, just running them into one of the corrals. Doesn't take me any extra time and I admit, I hope it'll have a "pay it forward" effect - other people will see it and do likewise. Probably never happen, but...

Anyway, today, I came across not one but two carts, left in a parking space, just one space over from the cart corral itself. It would have taken the shopper just a second! to put that cart in the corral, but they just couldn't be bothered...

Such rudeness has always boggled my know that if, on a windy day, one of these carts ran into one of their cars, they'd be the first to sue the store for carelessness for letting the carts sit out there where they could scratch someone's car...

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Lost Rocket Summer

That's the title of a short story by Ray Bradbury, and it's also going to be the title of my article on the history of space exploration, which I'm currently working on, simultaneously with an article on Walt Disney's Tomorrowland programs, which I've been watching over the past few days.

Two of these programs were aired in 1955, and two in 1957... indeed Mars and Beyond was aired on December 4, 1957...two months after the Soviets had stunned the US by putting a satellite, Sputnik, into orbit, which effectively derailed the US's exploration of space into a propaganda race to be the first to reach the moon. The hopes of building a space station and doing methodical exploration fell by the wayside... as I'll cover in my article.


Man in Space - March 9, 1955
Man and the Moon - Dec 28, 1955
Our Friend, The Atom - Jan 23, 1957
Mars and Beyond - Dec 4, 1957
Eyes in Outer Space - theatrical short, released in 1959, shown on TV in 1962

NOTE: I can't get Blogger to get the captions correct, sorry about that. So just note that each caption refers to the photo BELOW, not to its side!

Ward Kimble: one of the writers, and the producer

Willy Ley: Rocket scientist who left Grrmany before Hitler came to power:

Werner von Braun: Rocket scientist who worked on the V2, etc, fled to the US side after the war (as opposed to other rocket scientists captured by the Russians)

Heinz Haber

Science populist in both US and Germany

Monday, August 13, 2007

Earrings of Ixtumea

My new reviewer, Kristie Groves, recently reviewed Transformers, and now has a book review of Earrings of Ixtumea. I had interviewed the author of that book, Kim Baccellia, a few days ago. Now, here's the URL to the review of her book.

Earrings of Ixtumea

New book at The Science Bookshelf Blog

The Science Book Shelf is my new blog, in which I will list information and reviews about various science books that I read or intend to read. (The latter does not always match the former, I'm sorry to say.)

Anyway, the next book on my list is The Outlaw Sea, by William Langewiesche.

I've been watching Walt Disney's Tomorrowland 2-disc set, preparatory to writing an article about the space dreams of the 1950s. They're kind of fun but depressing, too, as there were such high hopes back then...none of which have really been achieved.

But I'll be doing further research into Willy Ley, Werner Von Braun, etc. Indeed, I've picked up a few of Ley's books on Amazon, for extremely cheap prices (the cost of postage 3 times the price of hte books themselves!), and am looking forward to them.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Jim Dale Photo Tribute

Jim Dale will be famous to fantasy fans as the reader of the Harry Potter novels for the American audiene. (Stephen Fry reads the books over in England.)

I've liked him ever since the 70s, when he made 3 Disney movies - Pete's Dragon, Hot Lead and Cold Feet, and Unidentified Flying Oddball, and I saw him live on Broadway in Barnum and, a few years later, Me and My Girl (well, in a sense. I was right back at the very rear of the theater and didn't have opera glasses. He was a blur. But still, I saw him!)

I'm listening to Dale read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, and will share thoughts on that later, but for now I'll just share all my photos I'd once collected of Jim Dale.

Harlan Ellison at BBC Radio 7

Beginning this Sunday, a two-parter

In Harlan Ellison's innovative precursor to The Terminator, a strange warrior appears on a 1964 railway platform. But who is he? Episode 1 of 2.

New Blog for Science Books

Rather than post the details of science books on this blog, I've decided that here I'll just list their titles, and I'll talk about them at my new blog:

Except of course there's always something. I posted an entry about the book An Ocean of Air early this morning there, and it shows up fine. Just now I made a new post, addressing one of the figures mentioned in the book, Oliver Heaviside, and that doesn't show up! It shows up in my list of posts that I can edit, etc., but when I go to the blog itself it isn't there.

Well, we'll give it a day to see if it's just blogger being funny...

Saturday, August 11, 2007

New books 8/10/07

I went to the library today for my usual weekly investigation of the New Books shelves, and found quite a few things of interest.

On the Wing, book two of Flying, a Trilogy, by Eric Kraft. The cover of this caught my eye, a classic 1950s illustration of man and wife in a convertible...except the car was up in the air along with a helicopter and an experimental single engine, single wing plane.

The dust jacket gives the plot:
In Taking Off, the first installment of Peter Kraft's beguiling trilogy, Peter Leroy built an aerocycle in his parent's garage, working from designs he found in Impractical Craftsman magazine. Cheered on by the gathered residents of his small Long Island community, Peter readied his contraption for the adventure of a lifetime, a solo cross-country flight to New Mexico and back.

Now Peter is ready to fly, and in On the Wing, he tells the hilarious tale of his journey across a mid-century America populated by eccentrics, crackerbarrel philosophers, and figments of the national imagination.

In small hops, mostly consisting of "taxiing" and "landing", he visits roadside attractions and unusual towns,...another where he is chased with pitchforks and shotguns by citizens still traumatized by Orson Welles "War of the Worlds."...

And in a parallel conteemporary journey undertaken with his wife, Albertine, the adult Peter revcisits his long-ago journey, navigating as Albertine drives a vintage automobile through a much-changed America, and misremembering every step of the way.

Other titles I picked up, which I'll get around to describing tomorrow, are

Bright of the Sky, by Kay Kenyon, fantasy fiction
Little Tiny teeth, by Aaron Elkins (not sf or fantasy but mystery, but heck, I like Elkins and this is new, so....)
Under A Green sky: Global Warming, the Mass Extinctions of the Past and What they CAn Tell Us about the future
----one of at least three new books my library has recently acquired on global warming, the atmosphere, et al...
The Atomic Bazaar: The Rise of the Nuclear Poor, by William Langewiesche
and finally
Strange Angel: The Otherworldly Life of Rocket Scientist John Whiteside Parsons, by George Pendle (2005)

This last book illustrates the principle of serendipity. I'd just been writing an article on the book Rocket to the Morgue, a mystery novel from 1942 which has a character in it named Hugo Chantrelle who is actually based on John Whiteside Parsons. Of course Parsons' real "occult" activities are not mentioned in the fiction book.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Cast list for The Heart of Hark'un

This offering from BBC 7, first aired in 1991, must certainly be popular because I'm getting a great many hits from people searching the web for information on it. I'm assuming that these searchers are listening to it on BBC 7 and are searching for additional information.

If you're not listening to it, whoever you are, check it out at:

It's a 6 part fantasy serial, originally aired weekly, but BBC7 is airing it on a daily basis. You've got about 4 more days left to hear part 1, 5 to hear part 2, and so on.

It's a comedy drama, a complex plot with good characters, both male and female.

It's a lot of if you've never heard audio drama, give it a listen!

Apart from that, there's not a lot of info I can give about it, as I'm hearing it for the first time myself. The cast list isn't any help, because they just read the list of names without identifying who is playing who. But, for anyone who wants to know the cast list:

Francis Thompson
Trevor Peacock
Liz Whiting
Crawford Logan
Edward Kelsey
Melanie Hudson
Robert Portal
Nigel Carrington
Emma Fielding
John Church
Theresa Stetfield


I was listening to Colin Cowherd in the Herd this morning as I drove to the store. Not quite sure if that's how his name is spelled but, close enough. It's a sports show. I may, or may not, have commented about him before...his delivery really gets on my nerves, because he'll say his main topic point - and then he'll illustrate it with a few examples. And in five minutes he's covered it all and could move on. But he does not move on. He reiterates his topic point, and then he repeats his examples, maybe throwing in a new one if the listener is lucky. Another 5-10 minutes gone. And then he does it again! And by this time I'm screaming at the radio - yes, I get it, I got it ten minutes ago, move on!

I discovered recently he's not the only radio sports guy who does this though. I think it was two evenings ago, when Barry Bonds* broke the home run record, that some guy was talking about it, mentioned it was the greatest sports moment he'd ever see and it could never happen again, and then he too spent 30 minutes repeating himself over and over and over again.

But that's not the purpose of this entry, I just felt like venting about it.

Today, on the Herd, Colin had someone else with him, whose name I didn't catch. Colin commented that there had been an earthquake in Los Angeles last night, and that it had registered at 4.5 or so on the Richter Scale. And this other guy had said that's why he'd never live in LA, he didn't want to see lava coming up from an earthquake.

And Colin razzed him, since "there's no lava in LA."

This is because, when you get earthquakes, you only get a lot of destructions of any buildings having been constructed, and perhaps a lot of steam from broken underground pipes in the area, but *usually* nothing else, because earthquakes on the east coast of the US are caused by shifting tectonic plates.

Lava, on the other hand, comes from volcanoes, which are nothing more than pipelines to the molten magma beneath the surface of the earth. And while seismic quakes are thought to signify the possibility of a volcanic's not quite the same thing as what this guy seemed to think.

This guy surely must have had a college education, or at least he spoke as if he'd had an education (it's quite possible to be well-educated without ever having gone to college, as I am here to tell you), and yet he didn't know this fact.

Are the disaster movies to blame? Wasn't there a movie called Volcano with Tommy Lee Jones that took place in LA? (I confess I never saw it...I'm not in to disaster movies...)

It'd be interesting for someone to do a poll...who in LA thinks that if "the big one" comes and all of California slides off into the sea, lava will come pouring out of the drastic earth wounds that would result?

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

4 Questions for Kim Baccellia - author of The Earrings of Ixtumea

The Thunder Child blog Daily Space is proud to host the virtual book tour of author Kim Baccellia, the author of The Earrings of Ixtumea, a fantasy novel for young adults published in July 2007, featuring a Latina heroine and an adventure into an alternate world where the culture of the Maya still flourishes. And check out her website at:

Check this out at Amazon

My questions are in bold.

1. Your book takes place in the parallel world of Ixtumea, which is modeled after the Maya civilization. Can you describe a bit about that civilization. (Where was it located, who were the rulers, how was it run, what roles did women have in the society, etc.) and how you modified it, if you did, to become Ixtumea. What did it feel like to be a "world builder."

I’ve always been fascinated with the ancient Mesoamerican civilization. When I did research I found out that my ancestors had a civilization that was more advanced than the conquistadores that invaded them. I cringe to think of all the history the invaders burned in order to civilize them.

I wanted to base my fantasy world in this country. The Mayans and even Incans are still shrouded in mystery. I found a book from a professor who based his thesis on the idea of the Incan khipu (knots) not being an abacus but instead a code to their history, culture, language. The Incans did this in order for their history to survive. Problem was once the Incans priests died out so did someone who could translate the code. I played around with this idea and use it as part of Lupe’s responsibility in Ixtumea.

I also liked the idea of a woman leader. I often wondered if our world be a lot better if we had a woman in power. Hence the idea of the Revered One and her maidens. I still have wise men but they have to report to the Revered One, who’s the one in power. Malvado is based on a male of our world who is sexist and didn’t like the idea of a woman being in charge.

Ixtumea would be located in lower Mexico/central America.

I did use some of Mexican myths and legends plus I wove throughout my story dichos-sayings that are similar to our proverbs. I modeled Concha after a modern date Malinche. I can’t believe Hollywood hasn’t done a movie on her life yet.

The idea of the Spider Goddess was also based on Mexican mythology plus I admit I added some of my own ideas to her. I also wanted the spiders to be the ‘good’ ones. I was sick of how spiders were always portrayed as being bad.

2. Most young adult books have a "message" or "theme." For Earrings of Ixtumea it's that people should have knowledge of and be proud of their heritage. In your experience teaching Latinos (and others) in the LA county school district, are the youngsters so intent on "fitting in" that they do ignore or are ashamed of their culture?

I based this on experiences related to me from family members of my grandfather who’s mother, my great-grandmother, was Mexican. My grandfather was ashamed of his Mexican roots—most of his family was—to the point they tried changing her name to make it more “Spanish sounding”. They even said she was adopted by a Mexican couple. I later learned from Professor Ortega at Ca State Fullerton about the racism and prejudice against Latinos in California during the 1900’s. I even found out about the court case Mendez vs. Westminster school board, where a Latino couple fought to have their children go to a nearby school and not to the segregated ‘colored’ school. It made me wonder if my own grandfather was segregated during the Second World War based on his color.

Also in my classroom I found it disturbing how my six-year-old girls would color themselves blonde, blue-eyed, and fair skinned. Their idols at the time were Britney Spears and Xuxa from Brazil, a blonde, blue eyed TV star. Also the telenovelas had a lot of the blonde models and actresses.

I’m hoping with JLo, America Ferrera( I love how this actress shows it’s okay to be yourself), and a few others that there will be more Latino role models for youth to look up to.

3. In your initial draft, did you have the book outlined where you knew from beginning to end what you wanted to happen, or did the characters "come to life" and dictate changes to the story?

I used a character chart and listed down my character’s quirks and traits. I also used a classical 3 act structure from Greek dramatic works.

All of my characters came to life to me. Some more than others. Concha’s struggle with betraying her daughter to the man she loved haunted me. The one scene where Lupe finds out why her mother is the way she is refused to leave me. I remember crying when I wrote that scene. I left it in as I felt it was important.

4. The artwork on your site is done by Liz Jones. I'm confused as to whether she did your cover artwork as well. Regardless, how did the cover art come about? Did you say what you wanted - the temple, etc., and have the artist draw it, or did the artist read the book and then choose a dramatic moment to illustrate?

The cover art was done by the talented Michael Leadingham. He based the cover from one of my scenes when Teancum first takes Lupe to Ixtumea. I wanted the cover to show this. Liz Jones did the self portrait with characters from both of my books. I had her put in my own bisabuela looking down on me from the spider web, guiding me in my own search of my heritage.

Thank you, Kim, for answering my questions. The next stop on Kim's virtual blog tour is at on August 9, 2007.

Faeries of Dreamdark

I've only read the first chapter of Faeries of Dreamdark: Blackbringer, by Laini Taylor, but I think I'm going to enjoy it.

The overall premise is nothing new - in a war a long time ago, faeries imprisoned devils into silver bottles and cast them into the sea, now human beings are pulling up these bottles and uncorking them, letting the devils loose on the world once more. (Similar to the myth of Pandora's Box for a start, and several other stories including The Thirteen Ghosts of Scooby Doo, a personal favorite of mine since Vincent Price leant his voice to it!)

And now, an especially powerful Devil - Blackbringer - has been set free.

So while the starting point is a familiar one to anyone who reads fantasy - or horror, for that matter - it's where the author takes the concept, and how and why, that matters - because that's all new. Laini writes very well, her heroine, Magpie the faerie is appealing, and there's curiosity and a desire to know.

My review of the book will be appearing in a couple of days.

Monday, August 06, 2007

News about the Leap Backward - Quantum Leap Convention 2009

I received a Press Release from the Convention people today, and I share it below:

Mark your calendars for August 8th, 2007. For Sam Beckett's birthday, make sure to check the website for a long-awaited announcement! Hint: It's not about Scott Bakula. Not yet, anyway!

Wondering how you can help make the convention even better? Volunteer! We are looking for dedicated fans to help with everything from writing an hour-by-hour blog of convention events to simply handing out flyers at other conventions prior to 2009. Whether you’re going or not, there is something you can do to help! Please take a few moments to fill out the online application. We need YOU!

We’re happy to announce the opening of the LEAP BACK 2009 Fanfic Contest. As part of the festivities honoring the 20th anniversary of QL, we plan to produce a brand-new zine that will be available at the con. And obviously, we need stories to fill it. The story that the judges select as being the best will appear not only in the zine, but in the official program book, a copy of which will be given to all our guests and special honorees, including Don Bellisario, Scott Bakula, Dean Stockwell and Deborah Pratt. The author of that story will also receive a framed certificate commemorating their selection as Grand Prize Winner and recognition during the onstage programming. We will also select a Second Prize and Third Prize winner, plus several “honorable mentions.” For complete guidelines, see our Events page, which is now open!

Award Winning Filmmaker Christopher Allen has announced the title of his company’s next film production, a fan based effort to re-launch the popular “Quantum Leap” television series that ran on NBC from 1989 to 1993. Allen will enlist a wide array of Indianapolis talent to help continue the story of Dr. Sam Beckett, who ironically is from a fictitious town in Indiana. Once completed, Allen hopes to use Quantum Leap: A Leap to Di for to persuade the science fiction broadcasting networks to re-launch the popular franchise. “I hope that the story is what will ensure the film’s acceptance by the fans. It centers on Dr. Beckett’s journey to 1997, where he is presented with the likelihood of saving the life of Princess Diana.” Allen said. “That one possibility is something I believe everyone can identify with.” Allen went on to add. Quantum Leap: A Leap to Di for will be a non-profit venture since the rights and ownership are not his. “I just want to re-launch the (Quantum Leap) series in some way or another. I don’t care about not making any money on this. It’s not about money... its about quality stories and characters people still care about to this very day. Above all else, it is ultimately for the fans.” Allen said. For more info and a teaser trailer, see our Events page!

Check us out at the Project Quantum Leap fan club - committee member and graphic designer Maryse Worrallo talks about the con during one of their new podcasts!

Committee member Carol Davis met with Claudia Christian (Play It Again, Seymour) recently at the Shore Leave 2007 Sci-fi Convention and got a short video of Claudia with a message for you! See it on our main page now! Also visit our Guest Stars page for more info on Claudia and all our guest stars.

Dean Stockwell, who played Admiral Al Calavicci for all five seasons of Quantum Leap says he would love to attend the convention! His appearance (as for all our guests) is dependant on unforeseen future commitments and availability, but he has marked us on his calendar! If you've never had the chance to meet the man who could change clothes as often as the Imaging Chamber door opened, here's your chance! This will be the first Quantum Leap convention Dean has attended in 13 years and we hope it'll be the most memorable yet.

Deborah Pratt, co-executive producer, head writer, and actress on Quantum Leap has also marked us on her calendar for March of 2009! In a recent radio interview, she mentioned the convention and is excited to be a part of the QL fandom. Deborah also appeared as Troian Claridge in "A Portrait For Troian." Be sure to get your copy of Book One of The Vision Quest trilogy from the website today!

On over 40 episodes, Paul Brown was either co-producer, writer, executive story editor, and/or director! With so much experience with Quantum Leap, he'll have some amazing stories to tell, we're sure. You don't want to miss him!

Along with the great talent above, 32 other guest stars have shown interest in attending the convention! They are listed below, and for more information on who they are please visit the official website. We also have musical composer Velton Ray Bunch who will share information and may even produce a little surprise for the convention-goers...

Also featuring:
(in alphabetical order)

Erika Amato - "Lee Harvey Oswald"
Vaughn Armstrong - "It's a Wonderful Leap"
Cynthia Bain - "Blind Faith"
Cliff Bemis - "A Hunting We Will Go"
K Callan - "The Americanization of Machiko"
La Reine Chabut - "What Price Gloria?" and "Shock Theater"
Claudia Christian - "Play It Again, Seymour"
Shae D'lyn - "Blood Moon"
Ken Foree - "Pool Hall Blues"
Stuart Fratkin - "Animal Frat"
Michael Gregory - "Star-Crossed"
Susan Griffiths - "Goodbye, Norma Jean"
NEW! James Harper - "Sea Bride"
Richard Herd - "Future Boy" and "Mirror Image"
NEW! Susan Isaacs - "Heart of a Champion" & "The Last Gunfighter"
John Kapelos - "The Curse of Ptah-Hotep"
Rob Labelle - "Temptation Eyes"
Beverly Leech - "Sea Bride"
Jarrett Lennon - "A Little Miracle"
Ernie Lively - "The Leap Home Part II: Vietnam"
DeLane Matthews - "Roberto!"
NEW! Mary Elizabeth McGlynn - "Memphis Melody"
NEW! David Newsom - "The Leap Home Parts I & II" (Sam's Brother, Tom Beckett!)
Natasha Pavlovich - "Lee Harvey Oswald"
Lisa Jane Persky - "Memphis Melody"
Daniel Roebuck - "The Play's The Thing"
Dr. Laura Schlessinger - "Roberto!"
Jane Sibbett - "A Hunting We Will Go"
Kevin Spirtas - "Camikazi Kid"
Jim Townsend - "Promised Land"
NEW! Rich Whiteside - "A Leap For Lisa" and "The Leap Home Part II: Vietnam"

We're proud to be supporting The Starlight Starbright Children's Foundation! Every profit dollar earned through the convention sales will be donated to this fantastic organization devoted to making the lives of children with illnesses brighter every day. Even if you can't attend the convention, we hope you'll support Starlight Starbright in your own way through volunteer work or financial donations. Please take a look at our page for this worthwhile charity to see how you can help and how you will be helping just by purchasing your ticket to The Leap Back 2009 Quantum Leap Convention!

We're now partnered with to bring you the best value for your travel needs. From now until the convention, use any banner on our site to book your travel arrangements and the convention will receive financial assistance! You must use the banners on the website for the con to receive credit.

Join other con-goers in related discussions on our forums. Find a roommate for the convention to reduce your travel costs, suggest events for the con weekend, chat with the committee and more! Discuss news and meet lots of friendly leapers just like you.

Have a question but a little shy or don't have time to get involved on the forum? Look no further! Unlike the episode Mirror Image, most of your questions will be answered on our Frequently Asked Questions page.

Right now we are still tracking down phone numbers and addresses for many more guest stars of Quantum Leap! We're staying in touch with Scott Bakula's agent and working on making sure Scott will be able to attend. We are nearly done working to get our non-profit corporation status set up so that we can open ticket sales and we're still in the negotiations stage with the possible venue at which we'll be holding the convention. We're also in the process of looking for individuals with original QL props that they will allow us to display at the con, so if you know someone please have them contact us.

Stay tuned to the website for the latest news and we'll leap back periodically as more news becomes available.

Thank you, leapers!

Carol Davis, Brian Greene, Emma Fee, Maryse Worrallo, and Judy Ascenzi

The Leap Back 2009 Convention Committee

Heart of Hark'un

Starting at Monday in BBC Radio 7:

Heart of Hark'un
A fantasy adventure in which student sorcerer Arcos is sent on an investigation and ends up getting more than he bargained for. Episode 1 of 6.

Young sorcerer Arcos' routine assignment is proving more menacing than expected. Episode 2 of 6.

....the next 4 episode descriptions are the same as that for episode 2, so I won't bother repeating them. Eventually I'll have a summary of this program based on listening to it!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Book: The Heart of Mars

I've just finished reading The Heart of Mars by Chuck Rosenthal and am about to write a review of it for The Thunder Child.

I enjoyed it for the most part, although it got a bit too metaphysical for me at the end.

After I finish that review I need to read and review Faeries of Dreamdark. I intend to have both reviews up on the site by the end of the day.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds

Way back in 1978, Englishman Jeff Wayne wrote a rock opera of HG Wells The War of the Worlds.

Almost 30 years later, the CD has been reissued, and the musical itself is now touring Europe.

I asked Steve Vertlieb to review the CD. He was not impressed.

Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds

In other news, I've changed the navigation bar at The Thunder Child to give it a more "science fiction" feel. I think it enhances the look of the pages.

So check it out and let me know what you think!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Books for Wednesday

I paid my weekly visit to the library today, and came away with the following books:

Jules Verne: The Meteor Hunt.
The first English translation of Verne's original manuscript, translated and edited by Frederick Paul Walter and Walter James Miller

Out of Thin Air: Dinosaurs, Biirds, and Earth's Ancient Atmosphere
by Peter D. Ward

An Ocean of Air: Why the Wind blows and other mysteries of the atmosphere
by Gabrielle Walker