Sunday, August 31, 2008

Set Me Free by the Pointer Sisters

First heard this decades ago, the theme song from the Whoopi Goldberg film Jumpin' Jack Flash... another one of the themesongs of my life.

It's a remixed version, which I don't really care for... but those voices...the lyrics...

Corny one-liners?

Blame the writers, or blame this guy's delivery?

Sorry, Mr. David Caruso, but this schtick is soooo .... ick

And here's Jim Carrey imitating him...

CSI and Sex Appeal

Okay, first off, talking about CSI on a science fiction blog isn't as Off topic as you'd think. There's a lot of science fiction in all the CSIs... in the sense that the scientific tests used to find the criminals are all "accelerated" (it takes 3 months to do a DNA test, not 3 minutes) etc. Indeed, the CSI shows may have even done a bit of harm in real life trials because jurors expect all the evidence to be as clear and definitive as it is in the CSI shows, when in actual fact it's not. (Similar, many years ago, to those echo-soundings that took place in the first Jurassic Park movie. On the big-screen, when demonstrating this technology, the skeleton showed up bright and clear, but in real life, the same technology was all fuzzy and indistinct.

Anyway, back to my rant yesterday about CSI: Miami, whch, I gotta tell ya, stank on ice. I can't believe that show has run for 7 years! Perhaps it's because of all the beautiful girls in skimpy bikinis that are shown (if this episode is any indication).

But the episode was poorly written, poorly acted by all of the principles, badly photographed...just a mess.

And Michael Goorjian got on screen for less than 5 minutes!

That was one of the problems with this episode, each of the "suspects" had 5 minutes face time and that was it. Of course that might have been driven by the exigencies of the plot - a woman passenger in a car going through a toll booth gives a bloody bill to the attendant, on which she has written "He's going to kill me" and this starts up a woman hunt. (Never mind the fact that in every toll booth I've been in, it's the driver that is on the side that pays.)

I read up on Wikipedia about CSI: Miami, and found some of the explanation of David Caruso's "schtick" of not looking into people's eyes and always wearing sunglasses. (I'm sure Caruso does it because he thinks it looks cool!) Apparenlty his character (Horatio Kane) was abused as a child. Well..I think someone who can't look someone else in the eyes is not going to rise far in the law enforcement profession.

And I must admit that the voices of all the characters just grated on me. Caruso's with his low, growling type of voice, the two women (black medical examiner and the blond chief CSI) with their high-pitched voices. No comic-relief guys like Hodges or Greg (although I admit I don't think either Hodges or Greg are funny!)

Also, I suppose from a personal aspect, I just don't go for guys with red hair. On the other hand I think William Petersen is very handsome (kind of like George Peppard) and Michael Goorjian is also cute. Totally wasted in this episode, but it was fun to hear his real voice -- in which one could hear the traces of the voice he'd used as the autistic Aaron Pratt in CSI - and his facial expressions.

I never watched Party of Five, in which Goorjian starred in an ensemble cast for several years, and probably won't as those types of shows have never appealed to me... but anytime he's in a police drama or something similar I'll check out the role...

It's interesting to try to decide why you find people attractive... I see young women today going crazy over weedy-looking men - the various rock stars with their long hair, etc, and I just go, ick. Give me a well-set up man any day of the week! (Okay, I'll be honest...that's probably why I won't be checking out Michael in Party of Five. Though he's 100% cuter than David Caruso, he's not as muscular as I like 'em...Think William Shatner is his prime...George Peppard as Banacek...William Petersen in the early years of CSI...)

And every time I watch baseball - which is everyday, I admit I just cringe at all their facial hair.... you think women follow trends, you should look at the guys and the weird thigs they do to stand out... "soul patches" , "soul stripes", affected and so silly looking. But they must think they look cool or they wouldn't do it...

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Snap judgement..but ich

First time I've ever watched CSI: Miami...and after 10 minutes or however long its been... I can't stand it. The guy playing Horatio Kane is such a.... actor...ich.

The coroner's voice is so high...gets on my nerves...

The camera angles and crap are stupid...

It sure doesn't have the gloss of the original, CSI...

I wouldn't even be watching it if Michael Goorjian wasn't supposed to be in it somewhere...


Continuing to watch it... finally saw Michael who plays a photographer...completely different from his role as the autistic character in CSI (Caged). For one thing he wasnt' autistic! Very cute, very good...

But I gotta say, the acting of the principles of this show...the voices of the women...and of Horatio Kane... they just grate on my nerves... Can't believe this show is doesn't hold a candle to the original!


And now it's over and it was so incredibly stupid...

Why does he kill the girls? does he kill the girls? One girl was left on a rocky beach still alive, to be drowned. What's up iwth that?

And the actor who plays Horatio Kane...he is just sooooo bad...he enters a building all by himself apparently, and catches the killer...meanwhile the girl the killer has could have sunk her teeth in the man's arm but of course never did anything of the kind...

Badly written, badly photographed, badly acted by everyone except Michael! And he was only in it for 5 minutes!

The terrible thing about football season

I'm not too enamored of college football... I like to watch Notre Dame lose, but that's about it. Professional football I'm much more interested in, the Minnesota Vikings of course, and the Greenbay Packers I want to do well now, just so the naysayers can't say anything about them having dumped Brett Favre, and I hope Favre stinks it up, just on principle...

But the terrible thing about football games is that they always run long. Which means that you can be looking forward to some TV show that's supposed to start after the game...and by the time it comes on you've missed 15 minutes of it already!

So tonight I'm on CBS, and I've been waiting a week for CSI Miami episode "Darkroom" which has an actor guest-starring in it whom I like... and it looks like the college game Alabama v Clemson will run at least 10 minutes long (despite the fact that Alabama has a 24 point lead - only 3 minutes to go, why bother to even show the rest of it????

But they will, and then there'll be the news, and so my show that I've been waiting a whole week for will start and I'll miss 15 minutes of it, and chances are the actor I'm waiting to see will only appear in the first 15 minutes. That's my luck.

So I'm really annoyed right now!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Breakaway - Sherine Abetreyne and Big Pig

One of my favorite songs, and a good video to boot..

This song, "Breakaway" by Big Pig, is from the movie Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure from 1989. It spoke to me then and it speaks to me now.

The singer is Sherine Abeyratne. I haven't been able to find out what she's done since the band disbanded just a couple of years after it formed, around 1991, she's got such a great voice I'm surprised she didn't make it big with someone else.

Stay, by Shakespeare's Sister

Situation, by Yazoo

Several reasons to stop committing crimes

A 52-second commercial from William Petersen (CSI) on ways to help with global warming...

Hilarious...but I wish he didn't have those glasses on!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Science fiction at BBC on Monday

The shows will be available for 6 more days...

Down and Safe
A Celebration of Blake's 7: The BBC 7 bank holiday rebellion starts with the history and rebirth of a sci-fi classic, with episodes including Liberator.

Voices from the Grave
50 Berkeley Square: The setting is Victorian England and a house, rumoured to be the most haunted in London, is about to give up its dark secret.

Treatment for a horrific accident has unexpected benefits in this sci-fi thriller by award-winning US writer Ted Chiang. Episode 1 of 4.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Tropic Thunder

I went to see Tropic Thunder today...

It was okay...not really my kind of humor, indeed some of it was ick-inducing...

But I really don't understand some people's protests of it.

It's rated R, so nobody under 17 should be able to see it. So the fact that the word "retard" is thrown around continuously during the latter half of the movie shouldn't matter... because nobody over the age of 17 calls other people "retard," right? For the over 17s, when they want to dis' something, they say, "That's so gay."

Yes, I did have my hand over my eyes for each scene with the Simple Jack character. I also had my hand over my eyes for the Fatties trailer at the beginning.

But most people seem to be upset over Robert Downey's character, which I just don't get, as they're complaining about it as if he were legitimately cast in the role of a great white actor in a black role, so that with his "name" he could bring audiences to theaters - which is typically what producers liked to do, although more usually with Asian roles, such as Jonathan Pryce being cast as the Asian role in Madam Butterfly, that got Asian groups all upset. (Of course they don't mind if an Asian plays the Danish character Hamlet.)

Frankly, I thought Downey's character had a lot of good things to say, for all that it was difficult to understand him at time.

But the most important scene in the movie was the one where Ben Stiller heads into the water, and his unit refuses to come with him. "What's wrong with you people?" he demands. He's clearly using "you people" to refer to everyone, because they don't believe him that the movie is still being filmed. Yet Downey's black character has the typical knee-jerk reaction, "What do you mean, "you people?" Similar to the fact that nowadays, the word "articulate" has become as anethema as the "n-word", because of the fuss that one moron made when a black politician was described as "articulate."

Here's a tip. Most teenagers are "inarticulate" - like, ya, whatev-er, dude, so whenever you listen to a teenager who can actually like, you know, put a whole sentence together without putting a swear word in between every word, or inserting a "like" or a "you know" or an "uh," is articulate! And people shouldn't be terrified to say so!

Science Fiction on BBC Radio 7

BBC Radio 7 digital radio streams audio, with each program available for seven days before it drops off the radio.

Since I've been remiss in telling you what's on BBC Radio 7, I'll start with what's about to drop off today, and continue on from there.

Monday, 18 August
Ghost Zone
A Highland village appears to survive the huge impact of a meteor. A sci-fi thriller by Marty Ross. Episode 1 of 5.

Fantastic Tales
Hell Screen: A chilling horror set in medieval Japan. A powerful Lord clashes with an arrogant painter leading to tragedy. Episode 1 of 2.

Tuesday, 19 August
Ghost Zone
Jill finds her daughter alive after a meteor has crashed on a Highland village. A sci-fi thriller by Marty Ross. Episode 2 of 5.

Fantastic Tales
Hell Screen: The chilling horror set in medieval Japan continues. The painter, Yoshihide, puts his daughter's life in terrible danger. Episode 2 of 2.

Wednesday, 20 August
Ghost Zone
Sci-fi thriller by Marty Ross. A soldier comes back from the dead. Episode 3 of 5.

Fantastic Tales
Alarm Clock on the Night Table: A salutary tale about living for the moment. A chain of events forces an elderly woman to confront a tragedy from her past.

Thursday, 21 August
Serenity: As he finally adjusts to his parallel life, has Robin convinced his 'ex-wife' of the truth? Stars Hugh Bonneville. Episode 5 of 6.

Ghost Zone
Sci-fi thriller by Marty Ross. Something lies buried beneath the village. Episode 4 of 5.

Fantastic Tales
The White People: The nature of good and evil and the origins of sin are explored in this intriguing tale.

Friday, 22 August
Ghost Zone
Marty Ross' sci-fi thriller concludes. As the army closes in the village begins to disappear. Episode 5 of 5.

Fantastic Tales
Delhi: A man living in present-day Delhi is haunted by visions of the city as it was in the past and how it will be in the future.

Saturday, 23 August

Around the World in Eighty Days
An Over-Hurried Departure: Phileas Fogg's new valet, Passepartout, is hoping for a quiet life. Jules Verne's classic adventure, starring Leslie Phillips. Episode 1 of 4. (Not really SF, but it is Jules Verne)

Operation Luna
Classic 1950s science fiction. Pursued by spaceships on the dark side of the moon, the crew drift dangerously off course. Episode 7 of 13.

The Brightonomicon
The Incredible Encounter With Hugo Rune: A young man is saved from drowning by a mysterious gentleman in 1960s Brighton. The adventures of Rune and Rizla begin! Episode 1 of 13.

Sunday, 24 August

Blake's 7
Traitor: Can Blake and his rebel crew make a stand against the power of the Liberator? Only Avon has the answer, but whose side is he on? Episode 2 of 3.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Brightonomicon

BBC Radio 7, as of Saturday, is airing the 13-part Brightonomicon. Part 1 is on Saturday, and will be available online for 7 more days.

Here's the description of the story from the copyright free Wikipedia:

The Brightonomicon is a novel by British Fantasy author Robert Rankin, the title parodying that of the fictional grimoire the Necronomicon from the Cthulhu Mythos.

The novel is set in Brighton, and concerns the grand high magus Hugo Rune (AKA The Reinventor of the Ocarina, the Mumbo Gumshoe, the Hokus Bloke, the Cosmic Dick, the Guru's Guru, the Perfect Master, the Lad Himself) and his quest to solve the mystery of the Brighton zodiac, with the aid of his amnesia struck assistant, Rizla (Revealed at the conclusion of the novel to be Jim Pooley of The Brentford Trilogy).

The author lives in Brighton and the book is set in an accurate depiction of the city. The book is based on The Brighton Zodiac, a map consisting of carriageway constellations found in the city of Brighton and Hove, conceived, designed and created by Sally Hurst (under her artist name Bo:K in 2004). The cases featured are as follows;

The Hound of the Hangletons: The amnesic Rizla and Hugo Rune are hired to investigate a strage lost dog, and Rune reveals to Rizla the secret of the Chronovision, a television that allows the user to witness any event in history

The Curious Case of the Centenary Centaur: While attending a lecture on the size of the universe with Hugo Rune, Rizla is captured by a group of demented doctors seeking to dissect him for organ transplants, and a centaur is unleashed

The Monstrous Mystery of the Moulescomb Crab: A conversation with a bog troll about his dead brother leads to Rizla and Rune learning of a terrible plot by the Secret Government to bring down the Royal Family with the aid of a group of space crabs

The Lark of the Lansdowne Lioness: When a statue of Queen Victoria begins to cry tears of real Earl Grey Tea, Rune alone knows that a nightmare from the past is about to be unleashed

The Curious Case of the Woodingdean Chameleon: With Rune away on business, it is up to Rizla to avert an assassination attempt at a game of croquet, while posing as fictional private detective Lazlo Woodbine

The Scintillating Story of the Sackville Scavenger: Attending the opening of a nudist theme restaurant with Rune (All other Brighton restaurants no longer accepting Rune's presence), Rizla is shocked to witness a group of dead rock stars dining with them

The Fantastic Adventure of the Foredown Man: While attending a garden party, Rizla witnesses the apparent murder of the Lord Jeffrey- despite the fact that the man in question vanished over a hundred years ago-, and his various relatives subsequently begin to die in various horrible manners

The Baffling Business of the Bevendean Bat: Reports of lost cats in the Bevendean area, coupled with radioactive doves,, multiple roaring animals at regular intervals, and an encounter with an exploding uniped in the bar The Really Small Atlantean, lead to a confrontation between Rune and the evil Count Otto Black about a modern-day version of Noah's Ark

The Sensational Sage of the Saltdean Stallion: While at a party in Lewes, Rune is apparently killed as a sacrifice to reveal the location of the Chronovision, leaving Rizla to escape Count Otto Black’s followers with the aid of an urban legend

The Birdman of Whitehawk: The Chronovision now recovered after a trip into the Forbidden Zones, Rune and Rizla must tackle the mysterious apparitions that plague their current host

The Wiseman of Withdean: Rizla is forced to disguise himself as a woman as he and Rune search for the last descendent of Jesus Christ at a Heavy Metal concert

The Concluding Chaotic Conundrum of the Coldean Cat: Their forces gathered, Rune and Rizla prepare for the final confrontation with Count Otto Black and for their final parting after a long year of adventures

[edit] Audio & Radio
The book was adapted into a 13 part full-cast audio drama in 2008 by Hokus Bloke Productions and BBC Audiobooks, starring the likes of David Warner, Andy Serkis, Jason Isaacs, Rupert Degas, Martin Jarvis, Mark Wing-Davey, Sarah Douglas, Ben Miller and Michael Fenton-Stevens.

The audio series has been re-edited into 28min 30second episodes to air on the BBC digital and online radio station BBC7. The 13 half-hour episodes air at 18:30 British Summer Time (with a 00:30 repeat) on Saturdays from 23rd August 2008 to 15th November 2008 and each episode will be available on the BBC iPlayer for six days after broadcast.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Isaac Asimov's Science Essay Books

I've never really cared for Asimov's science fiction. (I hear the gasps!) His "voice" is simply too stilted for me.... although I read his early Black Widowers stories with enjoyment they too began to get on my nerves... every single character sounds alike and they all talk in ways that no real human being would use ...the kind of pretentious way Spock or 7 of 9 or Tuvok would speak...

On the other hand, I like reading his science essays, because even though he does get in a bit of archaic sentence construction, his essays are fascinating, with history and education in certain measures. I don't pretend to understand him when he's talking about complex stuff such as higher math or chemistry, but they're still fun to read.

The Thunder Child has an Asimove quote book, at

It's been hanging fire for about a year as I've had to concentrate on other aspects of science fiction, but I'm getting back into it now, so much so that I'm compiling my own collection of his books via The sad bit about that is that 9 times out of 10 the books I get are dis.... can't remember the technical term.... anyway, they used to be library books, but libraries are getting rid of them, which I think is a pity.

Anyway, I've just started amassing my collection (the quote book to date was compiled using library copies from a library in an AFB in Germany...) The titles in bold are books I own to date.

1. Only A Trillion (1957)
2. Fact and Fancy (1962)
3. View from a Height (1963)
4. Adding a Dimension (1964)
5. Of Time, Space & Other Things (1965)
6. From Earth to Heaven (1966)
7. Is Anybody There? (1967)
8. Science, Numbers and I (1968)
9. The Solar System and Back (1970)
10. The Stars in Their Course (1971)
11. Left Hand of the Electron (1972)
12. The Tragedy of the Moon (1973)
13. Of Matters Great & Small (1975)
14. The Planet That Wasn't (1976)
15. Quasar, Quasar, Burning Bright (1977)
16. The Road to Infinity (1979)
17. The Sun Shines Bright (1981)
18. Asimov on Science Fiction (1982)
19. Counting the Eons (1983)
20. X Stands for Unknown (1984)
21. The Subatomic Monster (1985)
22. Far as Human Eye Could See (1987)
23. The Relativity of Wrong (1988)
24. Out of Everywhere (1990)
25. The Secret of The Universe (1990)
26. Robot Visions (1990)

Monday, August 18, 2008

Words to the Star Trek theme

They were pubilshed in Steve E. Whitfield's book THe Making of Star Trek... I used to know it by heart.. can I remember it?

The rim of the starlight
My love
Is wandering in starflight
I know
His journey ends never
His star flight
Will go on forever
But tell him
While he wanders his starry sea,
Remember, remember me.

Yeah, baby!

I hadn't thought of that poem (for it was never actually sung, I don't think) for at least a decade, and yet my memory managed to dredge it out!

THe sad thing about this poem is apparently Gene Roddenberry wrote it, so that he could claim part credit on the whole song, so he'd get residuals whenever it played! - Taking half the residuls away from the composer, Alexander Courage. Which is why he left the show after the first year.

Great Minds Think Alike..or Arch Oboler at YouTube

I went to YouTube to see if The Chicken Heart was there, or any of Arch Oboler's work from Lights Out, and someone has indeed animated one of the radio shows, The Visitor From Hades.

Totally cool.

It's in 3 parts.

Chicken Heart...or Why Read 40-year-old science essays?

One of my favorite science fiction radio pieces is "The Chicken Heart", from the radio show Lights Out. It was produced in the 1950s. (I've never been able to figure out if the version I've listened to is just half of it, and if more exists, or if it deliberately started in media res.

Anyway, you can read a transcription of "The Chicken Heart" here.

[And, having just gone to Wikipedia to see if its entry on Lights Out told what year "The Chicken Heart" was first made, I see that whoever wrote that entry *also* knew what I today have just discovered.

Here's the Wikipedia excerpt:

...Oboler made effective use of atmospheric sound effects, perhaps most memorably in his legendary "Chicken Heart", a script that debuted in 1937 and was rebroadcast in 1938 and 1942. It features the simple but effective "thump-thump" of an ever-growing, ever-beating chicken heart which, thanks to a scientific experiment gone wrong, threatens to engulf the entire world. Although the story bears similarities to an earlier Cooper episode (about an ever-growing amoeba that makes an ominous "Slurp! Slurp!" sound), Oboler's unique choice of monster was inspired by a Chicago Tribune article announcing that scientists had succeeded in keeping a chicken heart alive for a considerable period of time after its having been removed from the chicken. Whatever the inspiration, the script's climax is pure Oboler and it was fortunate that he recreated it for a 1962 record album because recordings of the original radio broadcasts are lost or unavailable. Part of the episode's notoriety stems from a popular stand-up routine by comedian Bill Cosby (on his 1966 album Wonderfulness), an account of his staying up late as a child to listen to scary radio shows against his parents' wishes and being terrified by the chicken heart.]

Anyway, what brought this to my mind was that I'm in the middle of reading Isaac Asimov's book of essays, Is Anyone There?, published in 1967 and comprising essays from various sources from 1956, 1957, and 1960-1967.

And in the article called "Constructing a Man" first published as "Conceived in the Love Bed of Science" in True, Feb 1966, Asimov says:

"Biologists can keep isolated organs, and even scraps of tissue, alive for considerable lengths of time. Before World War II the well-known surgeon, Alexis Carrell, managed to keep a scrap of embryonic chicken heart alive and growing (it had to be periodically trimmed) for over 32 years."

It's also in this article that Asimov talks about cloning (he calls it ectogenetics), genetic manipulation, and growing organs specifically to use as donor organs. All in 1966.

That's why it's fun, not to mention educational, to read science essays written decades ago. To see the beginnings of ideas that led to what's going on see that problems were discussed but ignored (or not even thought of as problems).. it's fascinating.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Grey Horse

Many years ago I was able to visit England once a year, thanks to the fact that my sister, in the Air Force, was stationed at Bicester for about a decade. (Then the Air Force inconsiderately transferred her to Japan. Not that I have a problem with Japan, but they don't have a London or a West End!).

Anyway, in late 1980s, I saw steeple chasing for the first and actually, only time, on TV. I enjoyed it. It's always more fun to see horses jumping over obstacles then just running as fast as they can down a track.

I'm pretty sure I saw Desert Orchid's final race on the telly...because he fell, lost his rider, then got to his feet and finished the race, jumping each fence until he came to the end, which I thought was pretty cool.

I picked up the book, The Grey Horse, The True Story of Desert Orchid, by Richard Burridge, in 1992. And 16 years later, I decided to finally read it!

It's extremely interesting, for all that there's lots of British usage that I only vaguely grasp, talking about the types of jumps and stuff...

I looked on YouTube and was disappointed to see that there aren't any videos of him in his various races - only a few collections of stills, which while nice to look at don't really convey the power and beauty that he must have had jumping over all those fences.

Anyway, now that I've read it, I'm ready to give it away. I see that Amazon is selling a copy for $66.... I'm willing to give up my copy - a paperback, Signet, published in 1992, for much less. (Perhaps the $66 version is a hardback, but the Amazon page doesn't say.)

Anyway, if you'd like to have it, drop me a line.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Books I'm reading

I'll be writing reviews of the following books:

Contained within a book called The Spider: Robot Titans of Gotham, by Norvell Page, are 3 pulp novels:

Satan's Murder Machines - 1939. Featurs gigantic robots destroying the city
Death Reign of the Vampire King - 1935
The Octopus - 1939

Here's the first page of each book:

Satan's Muerder Machines:
The man was a watchman, wearing the uniform of a private police agency, and he walked with his head bowed into the bitter winter wind that whimpered through Sutton Place. He moved swiftly, yet it was not the cold that he fled. Ever and again, he looked back the dark way he had come.
He was looking the wrong wy, for, half a block ahead of him, the shadows of a doorway concealed a curious figure. There was nothing furtive about the broad shoulders, superbly set off by the tailoring of a Chesterfield coat that covered evening dress; nor about the arogant carriage of the head beneath the gleaming silk hat. He seemed a gentleman of leisure about to take a bed-time stroll, except for two things. The upper hslf of his face was hidden by a silk mask, and in his white-gloved hand there lay an automatic pistol, ir's snub nose brutal as a rattlesnake's head!

Death Reign of the Vampire King
Twenty men with shotguns patrolled the wide lawns of Robert Latham's mansion, crouching in the black shadows of the night. Their hands were tightly clamped on their weapons and they cringed close against the walls of the house. They watched the moon-drenched sky fearfully.
From the dense shadow of a shrub a score of yards away, another man spied upon them. He was a hunched, grotesque figure and his long black cape made his body blend with the darkness. Heheld no weapon, but beside him was a large bird cage. On his lis was a thin, tight smile...
Those guards feared different terror,but if they could have seen this lurking man, they would have fled screaming in panic behind the protecting walls of the house. Not even their rady shotguns would have reassured them. For they were men of the Underworld and he who watched preyed upon their kind. He slew and left a mocking vermilion seal upon their foreheads to show that full vengeance had been exacted by the champion of oppressed humanity -- nemesis of all criminals -- the Spider!

The Octopus
The young nurse nnodded downward at the mummy-like thing on the cot in Ward 7. "She's been trying to move, SDoctor." she said. "Are you sure you need the stimulants?" Dr. Skull nodded absently. His keen brown eyes, the liveliest thing in his gentle old face, were appraising the swathed figure of Mrs Purvins, and there was an ancient satisfaction in them, ancient as medicine itself. He remembered the day, almost a month ago, when a frightened woman stripped herself in his office, and whispered, "Is it cancer, Doctor? Will I die soon?"
She had been ghastly, that woman, with the hard black growth ridging her body like the tentacles of a deep sea monster. Ghastly even to the case-hardened eye of the surgeon.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Music from Delia Derbyshire found

Dr Who theme

Delia speaks

Lost tapes of the Dr Who composer

By Nigel Wrench
PM programme, Radio 4

A hidden hoard of recordings made by the electronic music pioneer behind the Doctor Who theme has been revealed - including a dance track 20 years ahead of its time.

Delia Derbyshire was working in the BBC's Radiophonic Workshop in 1963 when she was given the score for a theme tune to a new science fiction series. She turned those dots on a page into the swirling, shimmering Doctor Who title music - although it is the score's author, Ron Grainer, who is credited as the composer.

Now David Butler, of Manchester University's School of Arts, Histories and Cultures has revealed for the first time the existence of 267 tapes found in Ms Derbyshire's attic when she died in 2001. They were, until last March, in the safekeeping of Mark Ayres, archivist for the Radiophonic Workshop - and have lain unheard for more than 30 years.

Amongst the recordings is some ethereal whooshing from a 1969 production of Hamlet at the Roundhouse in London; an extraordinary kit of parts for one of her most-admired pieces; and the theme for a documentary set in the Sahara which shows how she used her voice as an instrument.


Most unexpected of all, however, is a piece of music that sounds like a contemporary dance track which was recorded, it is believed, in the late sixties.

Paul Hartnoll, formerly of the dance group Orbital and a great admirer of Ms Derbyshire's work, said the track was, "quite amazing".

"That could be coming out next week on [left-field dance label] Warp Records," he noted. "It's incredible when you think when it comes from. Timeless, really. It could be now as much as then."

Delia Derbyshire's voice can be heard introducing it. "Forget about this," she says, "it's for interest only." David Butler says: "She was a sculptor of sound, often recording found sounds."

The next extract from the archives is a recording of her own voice, played forwards and backwards. It is the raw material for Blue Veils and Golden Sands - the documentary about the Tuareg people in the Sahara. The final version (right) contains cut up elements of her voice (which she jokingly referred to as a "castrated oboe"), and the sound of several electronic oscillators.

The third recording from the archives features actor Nicol Williamson's legendary portrayal of Hamlet. Performed at London's Roundhouse, this excerpt captures a soliloquy set to Derbyshire's backdrop of eerie science fiction swooshes. "I find it spell-binding," says Hartnoll. "I've got a shedload of synthesizers and equipment, whereas Delia Derbyshire got out of the Radiophonic Workshop when synthesizers came along.

"I think she got a bit disheartened and a bit bored with it all when the synthesizer came along and it all became a little too easy."

Ms Derbyshire was well-known for favouring the use of a green metal lampshade as a musical instrument and said she took some of her inspiration from the sound of air raid sirens, which she heard growing up in Coventry in the Second World War.

So what next for the 267 tapes she left behind? "The next thing that we want to do is make the archive available to everyone who wants to hear it," says David Butler. "But also this has to be a living, breathing archive so we are going to commission new works as well. We hope to be able to commission works from contemporary electronic musicians and also those who worked with her - surviving members of the Radiophonic Workshop."

How to redo the Doctor Who theme