Welcome back, friends. To a new installment for Retro Records featuring 1975’s Star Trek: The Logistics of Stampede. Another one of those fantastic Power Records offerings – which of course allowed all manner of famous writers to tell abridged tales. Case in point with The Logistics of Stampede which so happens to have been penned by Alan Dean Foster.
Foster is pretty well known for writing numerous novelizations for films. Alien, Star Wars, Alien Nation, The Thing, Star Trek and many more. As well as his own standalone novels like Cat-a-lyst, Cyberway, and Slipt to name a few.
Power Records was of course a spinoff label so to speak of Peter Pan Records. One that was geared towards an older audience. Moreover this is why we saw Power Records book and records fare featuring Kojak, Planet of the Apes and Star Trek.
Which brings us to this offering for Retro Records. The Logistics of Stampede finds Kirk, Bones, and Spock beaming down to Ribol II. An agricultural planet that is in fact facing destruction of their precious crops by Dranzers. A cow-like beast that every six years becomes overpopulated and then stampedes across the plains. Destroying seventy to ninety percent of the grain crops!
Can our trio of heroes come up with a solution to halt the Dranzers? Can they protect the grain on Ribol II – which in addition helps to feed other planets in the Federation? Let’s find out as we listen to The Logistics of Stampede on Retro Records!
Having listened to The Logistics of Stampede perhaps you now need more Star Trek goodness?
Well, in this case how about the great and late Leonard Nimoy’s cover of Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town? Which might be better known from Kenny Roger’s take back in 1969 – written by Mel Tillis of all people.
Hello, soundtrack enthusiasts. I’ve been toiling away on a special feature that I’ll be rolling out in small chunks in future editions of this column, only to discover that it wouldn’t be needed this week by a long shot. Why? Because there is a heap of new music to talk about this week. Ears open!
Intrada has released an unexpected gem, the complete remastered Kenyon Hopkins score from 1961’s The Hustler, which starred Paul Newman and George C. Scott. An unlikely collision of mid-20th-century jazz and orchestral drama, The Hustler was released on LP at the time of the movie’s release, and while this CD duplicates the original LP track order, it also adds enough material from the restored original session recordings to double the album’s length.
Intrada promises this title will be around “while quantities and interest remain”…which is a gentle way of saying it’ll be around until the typical specialty soundtrack print run of 3,000 copies sells out. (Why 3,000? It’s a number that the American Federation of Musicians, a union representing Hollywood session players, arrived at in negotiations with the Film Score Monthly label in the 1990s, and has since become the industry standard for the soundtrack specialty labels.)
From Kritzerland Records this week comes a very limited edition – only 1,000 copies worldwide – release of the score from 1957’s Monster from Green Hell, composed by B-movie maestro extraordinaire Albert “big blasts o’ brass” Glasser (Last Of The Wild Horses, Invasion U.S.A., The Cisco Kid, The Beginning Of The End, The Amazing Colossal Man, War Of The Colossal Beast…well, basically every third movie that ever showed up on Mystery Science Theater 3000, okay?). Kritzerland brought the score up to modern digital specs from Glasser’s original session tapes, and they’re taking orders now with the CD due to ship by the end of March, if not sooner.
Varese Sarabande has dropped three very limited editions – each limited to 1,000 copies – all from current and upcoming films. The standout in this batch would seem to be Before I Wake, with a score from the Newton Brothers and Danny Elfman; also released are Laurent Eyquem‘s USS Indianapolis: Men Of Courage and the soundtrack from Bitter Harvest, scored by Benjamin Wallfisch. None of these titles are, strictly speaking, “retro”, but with the low production numbers, like it or not, they’re tomorrow’s rarities. (Welcome to the soundtrack collector’s eternal game of Russian roulette: there’s no guarantee that all 1,000 copies will disappear either, though if even one of these titles sold out, I’d put my money on the one with Danny Elfman’s name on the cover.)
Going out of print at the end of this month at Intrada is Observations, a CD featuring an original composition by Arthur B. Rubenstein (Blue Thunder, WarGames), composed for a 2009 Griffith Park Observatory presentation. Rubenstein also conducts a selection of other astronomically-themed classical pieces from that show, but the highlight is “Observations”, presented both in instrumental form and, as it was heard by the planetarium audience, with narration by the late, great Leonard Nimoy. Perhaps not necessarily a film soundtrack, but somewhere at the intersection of Nimoy and Rubenstein (whose WarGames score is an all-time favorite of this writer) is one good reason, if not two of them, to pick this up before it goes out of print.
Now, that feature that somehow managed not to start this week? Here’s a little taster: a little green friend of mine once urged me to pass on what I have learned. So, beginning with March’s Retroist Scoreboard columns, I’ll start including, piece by piece, a glossary of terms that any budding soundtrack collector will need if they’re planning on staying aboard for this hobby. They’ll be terms that I’ll probably use quite a bit going forward, so there’s a good reason for such a glossary to exist, and I’ve put quite a bit of work into it. Stick around, you might learn a thing or two.
But that starts in March. Next week, we’re going to talk about why my inner Trekkie is awash in music he never thought he’d get his hands on. Beam back here this time next week.
When he’s not keeping score at the Retroist, Earl Green is the founder, head writer and podcaster-in-chief at the LogBook.com, a site devoted in roughly equal parts to classic sci-fi, classic video games, classic soundtracks, and space history. You can catch him lining up carefully curated excerpts from TV, movie and game scores most months on the Log Book’s soundtrack mixtape podcast, In The Grand Theme Of Things.
Friends, you know what today is right? It is October 1st! That time of the year that we here at The Retroist do our best to embrace the Season. Like with The Halloween Tree illustration you see below by Glen Brogan, inspired by the 1972 Ray Bradbury story.
The month of October has always meant a great deal to me – my absolute favorite time of the year. It signals the arrival of Bradbury’s Autumn People. Which is why on The Retroist our posts for this month turn to things eerie and spooky. Also sharing though our memories of the fun of the past that so often return during this Season.
Image courtesy of Glen Brogan and Strange Kids Club,
Why start your first post of October with The Halloween Tree?
I chose that particular subject because the story itself sums up some of my feelings of the season the best. “The wind outside nested in each tree, prowled the sidewalks in invisible treads like unseen cats.
Tom Skelton shivered. Anyone could see that the wind was a special wind this night, and the darkness took on a special feel because it was All Hallows’ Eve. Everything seemed cut from soft black velvet or gold or orange velvet. Smoke panted up out of a thousand chimneys like the plumes of funeral parades. From kitchen windows drifted two pumpkin smells: gourds being cut, pies being baked.”
Why not take a moment to listen to Ray Bradbury himself discuss on how he came up with the idea for The Halloween Tree. The novel as well as the 1993 animated film by Mario Pilusio and featuring the voice of the late great Leonard Nimoy!
Today across all manner of media you will be able to take part in the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek! It was fifty years ago today that NBC began airing Star Trek – a series that would run until June 3, 1969 for a total of 79 episode but thanks to syndication found itself earning renewed interest with new generations.
Gene Roddenberry’s vision of a “Wagon Train to the Stars” may not have ever become a Nielsen rating’s darling but it did manage to leave I think a very lasting and worthy legacy.
One that has helped influence our now everyday technology but continues to inspire countless people and helped to forge a franchise that has spawned six television series and thirteen feature films!
The Original Players
One of the reasons the original series has endured this long is of course thanks to the casting of its three main leads. While not the chosen Captain for the 1964 pilot The Cage, that honor going to Jeffrey Hunter (The Searchers) as Capt. Christopher Pike – I believe it’s safe to say that William Shatner certainly made the role of Capt. James Tiberius Kirk his own.
Leonard Nimoy as Spock along with Majel Barrett (Nurse Chapel) were the only two cast member who found themselves carried over from the pilot to the first sixteen episodes that NBC ordered for the 1966 and 1967 season. While much like Shatner – Nimoy crafted an iconic character with Mr. Spock and became probably the fan favorite member of the starship Enterprise.
For what little it might be worth I was in fact not a big fan of Spock in my youth, no, I have always been an emotional person so one of my favorite Star Trek characters early on was the sometimes overlooked Doctor Leonard “Bones” McCoy played to perfection by DeForest Kelley.
The coolly logical intellect and matter-of-fact demeanor of Mr. Spock would often hilariously rub Dr. McCoy the wrong way and cause the space faring country Doctor to rant about how inhuman his fellow crew member behaved. But the genius of the writing in the original Star Trek is the showrunners made sure to show how much these three people cared for one another and the rest of their crew.
Of course it wasn’t just Nimoy, Kelley, and Shatner that kept the Enterprise flying and the series popular – not by a long shot as we were lucky enough to have the likes of James Doohan as Lieutenant Commander Montgomery “Scotty” Scott…who was and still is hands down my favorite character.
Walter Koenig as Ensign Pavel Chekov who was also seen in that clip was brought in during the second season to help connect with younger Star Trek fans…and the fact he bore a more than passing resemblance to The Monkees’ teen heartthrob Davy Jones.
Then there was the beautiful Nichelle Nichols as communications officer, Lieutenant Nyota Uhura, an amazing and historic non-stereotypical role for the actress – a character that she almost stopped portraying until a chance encounter with Martin Luther King Jr. changed her mind.
It was during the 70s and 80s while acting as a recruiter for new candidates for the NASA astronaut program that Nichols learned just how very much of an inspiration her role in Star Trek truly was.
Rounding out the original cast of regulars is the incredible George Takei as Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu, the skilled helmsman that managed to get the Enterprise out of almost as many jams as Mr. Scott has worked miracles in engineering.
Another non-sterotypical role which is just part of why I believe Roddenberry’s vision of a future where mankind can put aside it’s differences to make themselves better and reach the stars is still so very important today.
The Legacy and Importance of Star Trek
Hey, I absolutely love Star Wars and I will reluctantly admit there was a time when I thought I could only really be a loyal fan of one franchise…thankfully I wisened up. But how about we get the importance of Star Trek and it’s legacy straight from DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, Walter Koenig, and even Harlan Ellison on this 1976 episode of Tomorrow with Tom Synder?
The series dives into an indisputably popular topic, but its producers reach for so much material that it ends up leaving a lot unsaid … and so, substance itself gets lost in the infamous territory that ‘In Search Of’ seeks to cover.
This is an ongoing series about In Search Of, the television show that ran from 1977–1982. Think of this as a viewer’s companion to the program. I’m reviewing every episode, digging into the assertions and sources depicted. For more background on this project, have a look at the first installment at Retroist.
‘The Bermuda Triangle’* Air Date: April 27, 1977 Alan Landsburg Productions
Written: Alan Landsburg Produced: Alan Landsburg Directed: H.G. Stark Photography: Tony Mitchell Music: Laurin Rinder and Mike Lewis Researchers: Herb Rabinowitz, Jeanne Russo Acknowledgments: United States Coast Guard (7th District, Miami, Florida) ; (11th District, Marina Del Ray, California) ; The United States Navy Department of Information
The production company brings out the big guns for what is the first episode of the series to approach an indisputably high-profile topic — The Bermuda Triangle (the name of the region derives from Vincent H. Gaddis’ article in Argosy, back in 1964). This was absolutely one of my favorites as a kid in the 1970s and 1980s, watching these as reruns. But there’s a problem with it, when it comes to my adult perspective. Such are the perils of revisiting youth! Readers, beware.
Now, on to the details of episode four.
A director is given for the first time since episode one, and it’s H.G. Stark returning. Alan Landsburg, series producer, takes on both script and production duties.
Two other changes of note: Tony Mitchell, cinematographer, replaces Paul Desatoff. Mitchell’s work is fine, but he’s no Desatoff. If you look at the first three episodes’ non-stock camerawork, you’ll see what I mean — the way the lens crawls along a wall or a length of wiring; Desatoff brings even the B-roll material to a kind of life. And so, with him goes — at least temporarily — a significant atmospheric touch. Second note, Mike Lewis, one half of the musical team on In Search Of, is again credited with shortened form of his name; it was W. Michael Lewis in the previous two instances.
The Bermuda Triangle
We start in a small-airplane cockpit, as Leonard Nimoy, our narrator, tells us that a mysterious phenomenon preys on those who enter the coastal area of southern Florida.
“More than 1,000 lives have been lost under circumstances that cause veteran sailors to become uneasy traversing these waters,” Nimoy says. The camera dips under the waves. An ocean bed sways, fish and flora in the currents. Nimoy continues: “No one has found a satisfactory answer, but somewhere in this region, between the sea and the sky, lurks the solution to the mystery of The Bermuda Triangle.”
After the credits, post-credits mini-teaser, and disclaimer, we arrive at a marina. What appear to be Coast Guard officials are responding to a call. Most such calls are routine, says Nimoy, inexperienced weekend navigators getting themselves into trouble. But then there are the ones that end in more disturbing ways, events that are not so easily explained.
Back in the studio, Nimoy tells us recent media coverage of The Bermuda Triangle has included suggestions that science needn’t concern itself with vanishing vessels in the region. It is an assertion, Nimoy says, that leaves out the personal experiences of the people who’ve encountered strange phenomenon.
Cut to a ship at night. A foghorn drones.
Frank Flynn, once a lieutenant on a cutter in the Coast Guard, describes an uncanny encounter in the Triangle. Close to one-thirty, one morning, he and his crew observed a solid green line across their instrument scope. Shortly thereafter, he says, a gray vaporous wall appeared before them on the ocean — a misty mass extending upwards as far as the eye could see under the otherwise clear-and-starry skies. As the vessel crossed the boundary of the wall, the ship’s lights disappeared in the gloom and the engine room reported pressure problems. The crew’s throats grew irritated; men had difficulty breathing. And then they were through it, back in the clear. No explanation ever emerged, regarding what they’d encountered.
We cut to a single-engine plane at takeoff. Bob Spielman, flyer and renter of planes in the region, talks about a tragedy claiming five of his customers. On a day of perfect flying weather, Miami suddenly lost contact with the loaner craft. The flight was lost. The wreckage was later found and showed signs of some “terrific force” that apparently wrenched one wing from the fuselage.
And we visit with Ray Smithers, an amateur Triangle researcher who, as a radio disc jockey on WFtL, in Fort Lauderdale, got a strange call on his late-night show when it addressed the subject. After numerous cut-off lines, on the next circuit that worked Smithers’ caller said, “Every living thing on this planet has an aura. The area that you are discussing now is the aura of this planet. It is a communicative channel through which the Millionth Council governs this planet. Anyone going into this area when the communicative channel is open does not disappear, but they are in the timeless void. They are all perfectly alive and well. It is the only area through which the Council can communicate with this planet.” Smithers says that listeners later complained to the station of physical and emotional distress following the broadcast.
The narrative skims some additional historical incidents: disappearances of British naval vessels in the Eighteenth Century; the loss of the Marine Sulphur Queen in the Twentieth Century, then also the disappearance of the ore-hauling Proteus in 1941. The Scorpion, a United States Navy submarine, vanished in 1968. An Air Force C-119 disappeared from the skies over the Triangle in 1965.
Finally, in this episode, there is the well-known vanishing of Flight 19 in 1945. Carlton Hamilton was staffing a Miami air-traffic control tower the day it happened. They just disappeared, he says. Hamilton goes on to describe a day when his Beechcraft plane for a time lost all lights and navigational instruments in the skies off Miami Beach. He says he believes something is at work within “that Devil’s Triangle,” but only at low altitudes — below, say, 10,000 feet — a force possibly coming from underwater.
“Somewhere beneath the Atlantic may lie the solution to The Bermuda Triangle mystery,” Nimoy says. If we are to find it, however, we must keep searching. The unknown force, he concludes, “is begging for investigation.”
Developments? Debunked? Debate?
A very recent theory surrounding missing vessels on the waters of The Bermuda Triangle has to do with methane. Based on phenomenon observed along the seabeds off Norway, massive underwater methane explosions in the Bermuda Triangle region could cause a ship to sink with devastating speed. Likewise, National Geographic notes, massive bursts of the gas into the air could create the kind of turbulence that disrupts aircraft (and perhaps irritate throats like Frank Flynn recounts when it came to his crew).
That being said, the 1977 episode is packed with details and there’s a lot to cover. And so, as always, the deeper info I was able to turn up about the sources and incidents cited follows.
Frank Flynn: Flynn served aboard the Coast Guard cutter Yamacraw in 1956, the time he says his experience happened. Flynn passed away in 2006. While I think the methane theory is worth considering, some writers have attached the description of encounters with instrument-disrupting vapors and mists to high-voltage phenomena. Accounts of a gray mist resulting from such tests emerge from the assertions of one John Hutchison, a self-styled scientist (and, more recently, a 9/11 conspiracist).
Bob Spielman: I haven’t identified any one individual who is definitely the Bob Spielman in this episode. I’ve reached out to one potential match — and if turns out to be the same person, readers are in for an ironic postscript to the story presented back in 1977.
Ray Smithers: This episode was not the last time Smithers worked with Alan Landsburg Productions. He’d appear again, helping to reenact the WFtL call, in Secrets of the Bermuda Triangle, directed by Donald Brittain and In Search Of’s own Laurin Render (the movie was also steered by Howard Lipstone, the series’ executive in charge of production). Alan Landsburg published a book with the same title, the same year, part of a run of volumes that John Scoleri looks at in this helpful article.
The WFtL Caller: There has been, of course, speculation surrounding the identity of the caller to Ray Smithers’ show. Gian Quasar, author of Into the Bermuda Triangle, recently notes the recording of the man’s voice sounds to him like it is the voice of Peter Tompkins, a journalist who turned his attention to matters of the unknown, including plant sentience (the subject of In Search Of’s first episode). Tompkins would narrate the Landsburg company’s subsequent Bermuda Triangle documentary, Secrets of the Bermuda Triangle.
Millionth Council: Whatever the caller means to tell us about The Millionth Council, it seems to be confined to the transcript of the radio show. Predictably, contemporary online forums and blogs take up the reference, here and there, but I’ve found little in the way of any other substantial definition.
SS Marine Sulphur Queen: Vanished in February 1963, and then debris bearing its markings turned up during searches in the weeks that followed. In the course of proceedings, court officials found that the ship was overfilled with molten sulphur and, facing heavy seas the day it disappeared, possibly suffered a “sudden and massive structural collapse.”
USS Proteus: The third of three Navy vessels of the Proteus class to disappear in the region. The first two were the USS Cyclops and the USS Nereus, lost in November 1941 and December 1942. “Research by Rear Admiral George van Deurs, USN,” writes Robert C. Fisher, “suggests … these aging and poorly constructed colliers broke up in heavy seas following a storm … In other colliers of this type the acidic coal had seriously eroded the longitudinal support beams making them extremely vulnerable.” Other theories involve the contents of the ships’ holds liquefying in heavy rains, making them unstable.
USS Scorpion: Lost during a May 1968 mission to surveil Soviet maneuvers, the wreck of the US nuclear submarine Scorpion was discovered in October of the same year. According to the US Naval Institute, investigations concluded either one of the Scorpion’s own torpedoes detonated inside the hull or its battery cells exploded.
C-119 Flight: The US Air Force C-119G Flying Boxcar, bound for the island of Grand Turk, went missing after takeoff close to eight o’clock, the evening of June 5, 1965. By some reports, debris did turn up. Those details were not, one journalist notes, included in the Air Force’s redacted documents, when released.
Carlton Hamilton: The air-traffic-control expert in this episode is cited in mid-1970s FAA reports as the chief at Opa Locka Tower, just north of Miami International Airport.
Flight 19: Larry Kusche, writing at the Skeptical Inquirer, dives deep into what could have gone wrong aboard the planes of Flight 19. The upshot of his lengthy analysis is that compass failure on the leader’s plane, compounded by a precedent of pilot confusion when newly encountering the region’s topography, led to the disastrous loss of all five aircraft. When it comes to wreckage, “a group called Project 19 salvaged a TBM Avenger — the same model of plane flown by Flight 19 — from 400 feet deep in the ocean off Cape Canaveral,” writes Vicki McCash, at the Sun Sentinel, in 1991. “The group thinks the plane is the one flown by Capt. William Stivers, one of the student pilots of the Lost Patrol.” The find was complicated, however, by the fact that key pieces of the plane — ones said to hold crucial identifying markings — were lost during the salvage.
The Takeaway: ‘The Bermuda Triangle’
Leonard Nimoy, our narrator.
The main problem with In Search Of’s episode about The Bermuda Triangle is that it bites off so much more than it can chew. Focusing on Flight 19 alone would have been a full half-hour, and one trimmed for length at that. Or, a look at the Scorpion. You get the picture. It’s fun to speculate on multiple mysteries, but the show promises to help us examine possible answers. There’s a fine line, then, between too much and not quite enough. There ought to be some substance to such a popular topic, when the series takes it on. Defaulting to a wide-spectrum approach works well for some In Search Of episodes, but when it comes to The Bermuda Triangle it leaves us underserved.
Long story short, the show feints when it should’ve jabbed, and its argument is ultimately that there should be a deeper investigation of The Bermuda Triangle. One thinks that’s the point of the series itself, though, right? Possible answers to the mysteries presented, in this case, are nowhere to be found.
Next Up: It’s into the woods to look for Sasquatch, as In Search Of takes on another favorite topic. Join us next time for a look at “Bigfoot” … and let’s hope the producers introduce some additional focus for our viewing pleasure.
*Episode Credits/Air Date Sources: in-video credits and IMBD.com