Monday, December 31, 2018

From 1987 - A Video Enhancer

They sold devices like this in the back of many magazines with home-video topics.  I bought this by mail because I was doing a lot of home taping of old monster movies and compiling them onto other tapes.

Note the future-sounding "2000" in the model number.

No, I don't still have this critter.  And if it had worked according to promise I probably would remember using it.  But alas! poor Video Enhancer, I only know you by your instructions.

Come back on Thursday, to begin a New Year of silliness and profundity!

Monday, December 24, 2018

The Stardate Before Christmas

I wrote this several years ago and recently tuned it up.  (Long after writing this, I learned that I wasn't the only one to have a similar idea:

But believe me (or don't), for me this was an original idea.  The existence of cousin-parodies only proves that some ideas are too fertile to ignore by such great (or silly) minds as ours!)

The Stardate Before Christmas

copyright 2018 © by Mark Alfred

’Twas the stardate ’fore Christmas, and all through the shipple,

Not a creature was stirring, not even a tribble;

The boots were all stacked by the bulkheads with care

In the hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

The recroom was trimmed in a Christmassy way,

And bright holly was draped round the viewscreen display.

Every hallway had echoed with carols of cheer

And the punchbowl stayed full at this time of the year.

Now the crewmen were nestled, some two in a bed,

While visions of bonuses danced in their heads.

And McCoy in his sickbay, and Spock on his rock,

Had tucked themselves in to snore right through the clock,

When from the transporter room came such a clatter

I dashed down to D Deck to find out the matter.

And who to my wondering eyes should beam in?

Harry Mudd on a sleigh, piled with gifts to the chin!

Sure, his eyes beamed with friendship and holiday mood –

But I felt in my heart he was up to no good.

More rapid than phasers, my anger it came;

I thundered, I shouted, I called him foul names:

“You sneak thief! you shyster! you cutpurse! you liar!

I’d love to parboil you above a slow fire!

I’d have you strung up from the highest high gibbet –

So beam away, beam away!  Right now, this minute!”

But then, in a twinkling, he pulled a device

That froze me unmoving, as solid as ice.

I could twitch not one muscle; I yelped not one yelp.

“Ah, Kirk-boy!” Mudd chuckled.  “I’d hoped for some help.”

His eyes, how they glimmered!  His moustache, how droll!

Yet I moved not a limb; just my eyes gave a roll

As his weapon took over.  I picked up each gift,

And followed him, slavelike, to each turbolift.

I walked like a puppet, but still I could grieve

At whatever mad deviltry hid up his sleeve.

Yet we stopped at each cabin.  He pulled out a package,

And labeled it, checking each wrapping for breakage.

There were Q-tips for Chekov, a sabre for Sulu,

For Scotty, a jug of scotch – no, make it two.

For Uhura, a nightie; for Spock, an earmuff;

For McCoy, a new medkit (will one be enough?).

So on through the ship.  As my burdens grew lighter,

The smile on Mudd’s face grew yet brighter and brighter.

We came back to the D Deck at breaking of day,

And he ended my trance, and he backed quick away.

“All right, tell the truth!” I burst out in a fury.

He held up a hand and said, “Jim-boy, don’t worry.

A rascal I may be – today, don’t you fear –

You have no monopoly on Christmas cheer!”

So I stood there quite speechless, stock-still in my track.

Mudd had caught me off-guard – I could not answer back

As he passed me to work the transporter console,

And he gave me a nod as he set the control.

He sprang to his sled with a wave and a whistle,

And away he was beamed like the down of a thistle.

But he heard me exclaim through the transporter whine,

“Harry Mudd, Merry Christmas!  But just wait ’til next time!”

Merry Christmas to all!  See you next Monday.

Monday, December 17, 2018

More Things from Inside Books

I have always had a habit of noticing things which are tangentially relevant to other things.  I decided that these things were appropriate to The Annotated Mother Goose, a 1962 book by several members of the Baring-Gould Family.
Above is a scan of my copy's front cover.  Inside the book, I recently found a clipping from an unknown Reader's Digest:
And a Sunday strip from 1975 of The Born Loser:

Believe me, I know exactly how Brutus feels!  

I too can become caught up in a wistful memory.  Oftentimes it's cause by seeing a full moon.  But I've been known to let out with an imitation werewolf howl at any phase of the moon!

See you next Monday for more profound silliness.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Who Else Loved TS Eliot's "The Waste Land" at Age 15?

I had a perfect upbringing, reading-wise.  Besides Mom's immersing me in books from near-birth, I worked in the school libraries at Madison Jr High and Sooner High School in Bartlesville, OK.

When magazines got rotated out as too old -- I don't recall how long that took -- then the magazines were fair game.  So, of course, I glommed onto mentions of TS Eliot's "The Waste Land."

These clippings from the end of 1971 refer to a publication of Eliot's working notes and earlier versions of the poem, and Ezra Pounds's work on it.

Newsweek beat Time by about a week.

I don't recall specifically if any English teacher at Madison influenced my interest in poetry.  But by age 15, "The Waste Land" was on my hit list.

How about you?  I think it's a masterful, mosaic depiction of the fragmentation of modern civility and the empty lives of people.  People who feel empty try to fill that God-shaped hole with all kinds of things … sex or drinking (among many more) as in the poem, or … name your poison!

This Christmas, seek Him who is indeed able to give you the peace beyond understanding referenced at the end of "The Waste Land."  And to all I say, with Eliot, "Shantih.  Shantih.  Shantih."

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

A Plea for Help to Aid a STAR TREK Pioneer's Family

I just heard from my friend Mark Cushman that John DF Black has passed on.

As you know, John was not only Associate Producer on the first 13 episodes of TOS, and the series first story editor, and the writer of "The Naked Time," but was the one who came up with the line: "Space ... the final frontier."

He should get a proper send off into the final frontier!

Much appreciate your help in spreading the word.

If you feel you wish to help, and can help, please do!

See you back here on Monday.

Monday, December 03, 2018

Christmas Is a-Coming! MA-140 - Wondrous Christmas Time

For Christmas 2018, here's a new compilation of songs recent and not-so-new.  Some are reverent and some are more frisky.

01 - Joy to the World - Philadelphia Brass Ensemble - 1973  (1:10)

02 - Hark! The Herald Angels Sing - Kate Rusby - 2008  (4:26)

03 - Baloo Lammy - The Robert DeCormier Singers and Ensemble - 1986  (2:29)

04 - The Holly and the Ivy - The Mistletoe Orchestra & Singers - 1999  (2:26)

05 - Silent Night / Away in a Manger - Dallas Brass - 1994  (2:20)

06 - I Wonder as I Wander - Robert Shaw - 1957  (2:38)

07 - Christmas Time Again - Cartoon - 1981  (3:16)

08 - Sleigh Ride - Kenny Ball - 2002  (3:09)

09 - Blue Suede Santa - Hillbilly Casino - 2008  (3:13)

10 - Christmas All Over the World - Dana Countryman - 2015  (3:18)

11 - Happy Christmas (War Is Over) - The Fab Four with Ovation School for the Performing Arts Choir - 2014  (3:43)

12 - Away in a Manger - The Galliard Brass Ensemble - 1982  (2:12)

13 - Un Flambeau, Jeannette, Isabelle - Martha Schlamme - 1973  (1:59)

14 - Improvisations on Christmas Carols - #2, Andante non troppo - Bryan Kelly - 1969  (2:46)

15 - Joy to the World - The Taverner Consort - 1993  (2:42)

16 - Lullay, lullow - I saw a sweete seemly sight - The St Margaret's All Boys Choir - 1976  (3:01)

17 - In the Manger - John Doan - 2011  (4:40)

18 - Silent Night - E Power Biggs, Gregg Smith Singers, Texas Boys Chorus - 1973  (2:54)

19 - Candlelight Carol - Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Arts Educational School Chamber Choir - 1995  (4:01)

20 - I Saw Three Ships - The Deller Consort - 1973  (2:01)

21 - Merry Christmas - Judy Garland - 1949  (2:46)

22 - Hark! The Herald Angels Sing - AndrĂ© Previn (arr Mendelssohn) - 1964  (2:03)

23 - Glory to God - Alexander St Charles / One Experience Choir - 1972  (2:25)

24 - Coventry Carol - Colorado State University Chamber Singers - 1980  (2:52)

25 - Jesus, Oh What a Wonderful Child - arr Mark Hayes - 1999  (3:20)

26 - The First Noel - The Fab Four - 2008  (4:08)

27 - Deck the Hall / What Child Is This - The Swingles - 2015  (3:07)

The attentive listener will note that the traditional Scottish melody of Track 3, "Baloo Lammy," provided some of the melody of Greg Lake's "I Believe in Father Christmas."


I hope this comp re-acquaints you with the wonderful truth of God-made-human.

See you next Monday!

All original content
© by Mark Alfred