Tales From SYL Ranch – 2017-04-30

The Old Fan’s Commentary On Space: 1999

The Old Fan's Commentary On Space: 1999
The Old Fan’s Commentary On Space: 1999

There’s an Old Fan’s Commentary On Space:1999 this week on Tales From SYL Ranch!

Tales From SYL Ranch can be heard live Sundays, 20:00-22:00 UTC on //aNONradio.net//

We hadn’t planned to do this, but we’re using a new rig and providing additional streaming.  Rather than risk it falling to pieces during the Old Fan’s Commentary on Star Wars (Sunday, May  7th and 14th), we decided to test it first on a known disaster.

We’ll only be commenting on one Space: 1999 episode: S01E01 – “Breakaway.”  It’s a wonderful example of the show getting many things very, very right — while simultaneously being the dumbest premise ever conceived Spoilers.

Space: 1999 is so schizophrenic that it’s unlikely there will be future commentaries.  It’s noteworthy for a few reasons, the most obvious being the then-state-of-the-art special effects.  Some Space: 1999 model and effects artists later worked on Star Wars and were part of ILM‘s founding team.

Variations on the Eagle's pod
Variations on the Eagle’s mission-specific pods. This is something the show did very, very right.

Space: 1999‘s Eagle was extremely detailed and featured a practical, modular design.  It’s one of the things Space: 1999 got very, very right.  To this day, the Eagle is one of the most revered (and outright coolest) spaceship designs ever imagined.  It often appears in the background of other films as an Easter Egg.

Eagle on the launchpad
The Eagle with a passenger pod on a Moonbase Alpha launchpad. Note the docking mechanism on the left and a parked moonbggy on the right.

A always, the Old Fan’s Commentary will attempt to focus more on what was happening in science fiction fandom at the time rather than interesting tidbits about the film.

As always, we’ll have The Hitchhiker’s Guide To the Galaxy and topical music sprinkled throughout.

To set the stage:

It’s September of 1975.  You’re ten years old.  You’re a huge Star Trek fan.  That in turn led you to SF literature, in particular Larry Niven.  In 1973, Niven adapted one of his short-stories, “The Soft Weapon,” into an episode of Star Trek: The Animated Series.

You quickly discovered that “The Soft Weapon” is part of a much  larger Known Space universe.  Because Niven is a stickler for scientific accuracy, you’ve learned to demand it.  In 1975, all science fiction fans demanded it.

Other than Star Trek: The Animated Series,  there’s been no science fiction of note — neither in TV nor film — for over five years.  There’s a burgeoning Star Trek fan community in the US that’s just finding its legs.

That fan community constantly butts heads with Old Fans.  The Old Fans grew up with nothing but literature.  They find filmed science fiction to be banal and insipid by comparison.

This absolutely includes Star Trek.  In 1975, there was a clear delineation between “real fans” and “Trekkies.”

Through the grapevine, you hear about a new show, Space:1999.  It has known stars in the lead roles.  Martin Landau and Barbara Bain had starred in Mission: Impossible.  Barry Morse had spent four years chasing Dr. Richard Kimball in The Fugutive.

That all sounds good.  Production stills begin appearing in certain magazines, and those look good.  The models look good, the sets look good, the space suits all look good.

The premise of the series is patently ludicrous.  Even a 10-year-old knew that Spoilers.

Those are the things in your mind as you tune in (on low-def broadcast TV).

We’ll be trying a couple of experiments this time around.  In addition to the podcast stream of the commentary, we’ll be making a low-res version of the episode available for streaming — but only during the show!  If this works, we’ll do the same to the next two weeks’ Old Fan Commentary On Star Wars.

To play the episode, click here:

Sunday’s tracklist:

  • “When Twilight Falls On NGC 891”
  • Space 1999: “Main Titles”
  • Space 1999 – War Games:  “Armageddon”
  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy:  Primary Phase – Fit the Sixth (S01E06)
  • Space 1999: “Breakaway”
  • Introduction To the Old Fan’s Commentary On Space: 1999
  • The Old Fan’s Commentary On Space: 1999
  • Space: 1999: “Theme Montage”
  • The Star Wars Holiday Special
    “Can we air just twenty minutes of Chewie noises??”
    – Jack Packard

What were fans doing in 1975 when Space:1999 premiered?  Listen to Tales From SYL Ranch find out!

Tales From SYL Ranch can be heard live
Sundays, 20:00-22:00 UTC on

Why Space: 1999 Has the Dumbest Premise Ever Concieved

You can’t blow the Moon out of orbit.

Seriously, that’s it, right there: the basic premise of the show is ludicrously impossible.  Science Fiction fans are the most demanding viewers in existence.  If you screw up in such a flagrantly stupid fashion, you’ve probably lost your audience and don’t know it.

The Moon is not a billiard ball that can be knocked off its trajectory by something sufficiently massive.  You can’t put a rocket engine on it.  It’s so large as to be occasionally classified as a dwarf planet.

If you struck the Moon with sufficient force to knock it out of orbit, that’s not what would happen.  Instead, you’d start with a very deep hole.  It would get deeper until such time as the Moon itself couldn’t withstand the stress.  The Moon would then crack like a gigantic egg — the difference being that it would spew white-hot volcanic rocks the size of other planets’ moons.

If you were lucky, you’d wind up with a few big rocks and change.  With more luck, the rocks will stay in the Moon’s orbit, meaning we’d suddenly have pieces of Moon orbiting the Earth in roughly the same spot.

If you weren’t lucky, the rocks would be small.  You’d then have a nice, new asteroid belt around Earth in former Moon’s orbit.

In either case, risk of extinction by Moonrock becomes very likely. Regardless, there will be Earthquakes, tornadoes, tsunamis, tidal waves, and tectonic/volcanic eruptions. The tilt of the Earth could change.

Worse is the location location of the explosion.  The writers keep referring to “the dark side of the Moon” as though that’s meaningful.  In fact, the “dark side” of the Moon isn’t dark.  It’s just the side of the Moon not facing Earth.

The Moon’s orbit and rotation are such that only one side of it faces Earth.  Until the Space Age, astronomers didn’t know what the other side of the Moon looked like.  They called it “the dark side” to indicate that it was a big blank spot on the map.

That means is that they were dumping nuclear waste as far from Earth as possible — which is a good idea from a radiation standpoint.  It was an idea that had been bounced around in science fiction since Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

However, if you hit the Moon with force sufficient to knock it out of orbit, you’re doing so on the face exactly opposite Earth. The aforementioned massive, white-hot volcanic rock would come spewing straight at Earth.

Earth-bound disasters are hinted-at in the episode, but not enough thought was given to it. People would die by the billions. Civilization might be reduced to the Stone Age or worse.

The idea of the Moon blowing out of orbit is galactically stupid.

That doesn’t even begin to touch the faster-than-light speeds the Moon would require to reach another planet every week.

Space: 1999 is very schizophrenic.  On the one hand, there are the many things it gets right.  Unfortunately, it’s in the service of a laughable premise; often featuring plots with no internal logic.

“It’s sci-fi, anything can happen, so who needs to explain it?” seems to have been the writers’ motto.

An Exclusive Look Inside SYL Ranch Studios

Always know where your towel is.
SYL Ranch Studios – 2017-04-28.
Always know where your towel is.

Tales From SYL Ranch – 2017-04-16

This episode of Tales From SYL Ranch is dedicated to William N. Grigg.

William N. Grigg
“The truth has lost another champion when there are so few left.”
– Jay P. Hailey

The libertarian community was saddened by the loss of William N. Grigg on Wednesday.

We thought about changing our programming. It would have been easy to do an entire show of his Greatest Hits.

But we know Bill wouldn’t want that.  He’d have told us not to bother on his account.

Rather than altering the songs, we’ve put them in an order we think that Bill would have approved.  That’s why it’s Shania Twain week on Tales From SYL Ranch: because that’s what it was always going to be.

A podcast can be many things.  Sometimes it needs to remind mourners to celebrate.  Not Bill’s death, of course — but rather the man that he was.

If there’s one thing Bill knew about, it was rocking this country.  He’d have rocked every country right out of this world, if at humanly possible — libertarian-style.

Shania Twain Farewell Tour
Shania Twain Farewell Tour, Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines, Iowa, US

Tracks this week are:

  1. William N. Grigg Dedication (by Jay P. Hailey)
  2. Rock This Country
  3. Party For Two (with Billy Currington)
  4. Don’t Be Stupid (You Know I Love You)
  5. Love Gets Me Every Time
  6. You Shook Me All Night Long
  7. From This Moment On
  8. Man! I Feel Like A Woman
  9. That Don’t Impress Me Much
  10. Any Man Of Mine
  11. What A Way To Wanna Be
  12. Honey I’m Home
  13. Thank You Baby!
  14. Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under
  15. Nah!
  16. Ka-Ching
  17. In My Car
  18. I’m Gonna Getcha Good
  19. Come On Over
  20. Forever and For Always
  21. Up! Live In Chicago
Shania Twain Fans with phone flashes on.
Shania Twain fans with phone flashes on, Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines, Iowa, US

Things to watch for this week, in addition to the dedication:

  • Program IDs change to be somewhat topical.
  • There’s the usual Hitchhiker’s Guide To the Galaxy BBC Radio series episode.  We’re only on S01E04, so it’s a good time to dive in.
  • There’s a faux-Hitchhiker’s Guide To the Galaxy entry by TTS voice “SYL Mike.”  It’s already been posted to YouTube, but we though it’s one of the better ones so far.  You be the judge.


Tales From SYL Ranch can be heard live Sundays, 20:00-22:00 UTC on // aNONradio.net //

Tales From SYL Ranch – 2017-03-19

It’s all-comedy all-the-time on this Sunday’s Tales From SYL Ranch.

Tales From SYL Ranch can be heard Sundays from 20:00 – 22:00 UTC at // aNONrado.net //

(If you’re not in UTC, either do the math or ask Siri/Google.)

About three-fourths of the show is my informal “best of” “Weird Al” Yankovic. His career stretches back to the early 1980s. The task became narrowing it down to about an hour-and-a-half.

They’re all gems. In fact, I had to cut some I liked for time, so it’s really the best of Al’s best.

Update:  “Weird Al” dropped a new collection, Medium Rarities, this week.  The timing was entirely unintentional.  However, I’ve changed the playlist accordingly.

“It’s Still Billy Joel” has been downgraded from “rare” to “medium rare.”   “Chicken Pot Pie” is still “very rare” and is from my personal collection.

The Holy Grail of “Weird Al” fans, “Belvedere Cruising,” has downgraded all the way to “medium rare.”   It’s the song that got Al his break on the Doctor Demento show; which in turn propelled him to stardom.

The Hitchhiker's Guide To the Galaxy Radio Show

Then I have a new, permanent addition to the podcast. Henceforth, I will be running The Hitchhiker’s Guide To the Galaxy radio program.

Younger listeners may not be aware of the Hitchhiker’s Guide strange history. It began as a BBC Radio series, then a couple of books, then more radio, then TV, then more books, then a movie, and then more radio.

I’ll be playing all five radio series, starting with series one, episode one on Sunday. I’ll be running them for about four years.

Tales From SYL Ranch can be heard Sundays from 20:00 – 22:00 UTC at // aNONrado.net //

And the following two weeks , you’ll hear my voice for the first time — and you will ultimately be grateful for the respite of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To the Galaxy.

I’m going to do a two-part “Old Fan’s Commentary” of Star Trek – The Motion Picture.

I’m doing this not because I have any great backstage knowledge.  I’ll talk about what I know, but that’s not the point.  This is a fan commentary.  I’m going to talk about Star Trek fandom in the 1970s, and how it was for a teen-aged Trekkkie to see the film for the first time.

I’ll be commenting on the Director’s Edition, so if you want to follow along, get out your DVDs, stream from your favorite service, or … well, you know.

Tales From SYL Ranch can be heard Sundays from 20:00 – 22:00 UTC at // aNONrado.net //

For reference, here’s the full playlist. With the exception of the Hitchhiker’s Guide, they’re all “Weird Al” Yankovic songs.

  1. Don’t Download This Song
  2. Belvedere Cruising
  3. Another One Rides The Bus
  4. I Love Rocky Road
  5. Ricky
  6. Eat It
  7. Nature Trail To Hell
  8. Chicken Pot Pie
  9. Like A Surgeon
  10. The Brady Bunch
  11. It’s Still Billy Joel To Me
  12. Theme From Rocky XIII: The Rye Or the Kaiser
  13. Amish Paradise
  14. I Lost On Jeopardy
  15. Gump
  16. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy 1: Primary Phase – Fit the First
  17. One More Minute
  18. Girls Just Want To Have Lunch
  19. Ebay
  20. Perform This Way
  21. Albuquerque
  22. Party In The CIA
  23. Ode To A Superhero
  24. Bohemian Polka

Tales From SYL Ranch – 2017-02-05

I think I have the lineup for this Sunday’s “Tales From SYL Ranch.”

I have an 18-minute libertarian rant by me (or rather one of my surrogate TTS voices — you’ll probably never hear me, and I have a plan for this).

A 26-minute Suite From Star Trek – The Motion Picture.

More libertarian rants. More Star Trek.

You’re going to have to want to listen to libertarian rants from now on. I eased listeners into it last week, now I hit ’em good and hard.

I expect my listenership to hit 0 about halfway through 18-minute rant.

The current playlist:

  • “When Twilight Falls On NGC 891” from Dark Star
    This will henceforth be the opening couple of minutes to give people time to tune in.
  • “Johnny Fever Takes Over” from WKRP In Cincinatti
    The standard show-opener
  • Main Titles from Star Trek: The Original Series
  • Original //aNONradio// station ID
  • A warning of the libertarian rants to come
  • Original program ID
  • “To Boldly Go – End Titles – With Ping” from Star Trek (2009)
  • “Epilogue and End Titles” from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
  • Original program ID
  • “Be Careful What You Wish For (Especially If It Is Hitler)” by Scott Adams
  • Original //aNONradio// station ID
  • Original The Hitchhiker’s Guide To the Galaxy entry
  • “Stealing the Enterprise from Star Trek III: The Search For Spock
  • “End Credits” from Star Trek: First Contact
  • “An Open Letter To Starbucks” by William Stone III
  • “Kirk Does It Again” from Star Trek: The Original Series: “The Doomsday Machine”
  • “Please Stop the Violence” by William Stone III
  • “Main Titles” from Star Trek: The Animated Series
  • “Pranking” by William Stone III
  • “The Star Wars Effect” by William Stone III
    e aware that this track is 18:29.  It’s a long rant.
  • Original //aNONradio// station ID
  • “Suite From Star Trek – The Motion Picture
    Be advised that this track is just over 29 minutes long.
  • Original //aNONradio// station ID
  • “Vena’s Dance” from Star Trek: The Original Series: “The Cage”
  • Statement of the Zero Aggression Principle
  • Original //aNONradio station ID
  • The first ten minutes of The Star Wars Holiday Special
    This will henceforth be up to ten minutes, depending on how much filler I need.