Today I have just discovered that Mary Lyerly Alexander has passed away on August 31st at the age of 92. She was an active Philadelphian patron of jazz music and the arts, and was particularly active in the preservation of Coltrane House, where she lived briefly with her cousin John Coltrane, the legendary jazz saxophonist. Alexander is most famous amongst jazz musicians though for being the woman Coltrane named his song “Cousin Mary” after (one of the stand out tracks from his album Giant Steps).
“Cousin Mary” is one of my favorite songs to play, a mid tempo altered form blues that really bubbles and swings, so I thought I would put it up on the blog today as a tribute to Mary and to introduce the song to you if you have not heard it before. R.I.P. Mary, and thanks for supporting jazz all these years.
I am VERY PLEASED to announce that Canadian pro tennis player Bianca Andreescu has just won the prestigious U.S. Open tennis tournament after defeating superstar Serena Williams!!
Andreescu was ranked 208th in the world at the beginning of the year and has fought her way to 5th (!!!) after this tournament (previously being ranked15th after winning the Rogers Cup tournament in Toronto, Canada during which Serena retired from the final due to back issues). Many wondered at that time if Andreescu would have stood a chance against Williams if she had been healthy… well, today that question was answered when Andreescu won the first set of games 6 – 3, then the next set 7 – 5. Serena herself was looking to win her 24th (!) Grand Slam title today, which would tie the all time women’s record set earlier by Margaret Court. To win one or two Grand Slam titles in a career is an achievement… but Williams’ current 23 is staggering. And a 19 year old Canadian ranked 208th in the world in January getting in the way of no. 24… “impossible.” The commentators for today’s match were even talking before and during the event about William’s “inevitable” victory!
This is the first time in history that a Canadian has won one of the major “Grand Slam” events in tennis: the U.S. Open, the Australian Open, the French Open, and the super prestigious, legendary tournament in Wimbledon. Such tournaments have existed since the 19th century, so it has taken well over a century for a Canadian to go further than the finals, which has has only happened a couple of time before today. Andreescu not only won, but she is still a teenager (19!).
A 19 year old Canadian teenager going from 208th in the world to beating Serena Williams at the U.S. Open in the same year… a staggering achievement, and GREAT day to be Canadian!
Congratulations to both Andreescu and Williams for a great game!
It has been exactly 600 days since the passing of Isabelle “France” Gall, a wildly popular French pop/ye-ye singer from the 1960s. For those of you who are not familiar with her work, she was a Eurovision Song Contest winner who became a hugely popular artist both in France and internationally. Arguably, you may not be able to find a better representative of the best qualities of French pop… at that time and maybe/possibly all time… apart from Serge Gainsbourg, and more recently his daughter actress Charlotte Gainsbourg whose recent electronic dance album REST is absolutely FAN-TAS-TIC.
In celebration of France’s life and work, here is a clip of her hit song “Laisse Tomber Les Filles” The French literally translates as “stop bothering the girls” but its implied meaning is ‘stop messing around with all those the girls or else you will get what is coming to you’. The timbre of her voice and general cadence make this song a perfect little pop gem. R.I.P. France, you are still sorely missed. “Laisse tomber les filles, laisse tomber les filles, un jour c’est toi qu’on laissera”…
As I mentioned in the first post of my Twilight Zone Quiz, one of the great joys of living in a digitally advanced age is having access to high quality copies of old media, in particular my favorite science fiction television shows from the 1960s: The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, Star Trek, and Lost In Space. That is over 300 episodes of good old fashioned TV! Since I wanted to do something special this year, I thought it would be fun for all you fans of trivia games to have a giant list of questions you can break out at (nerd) parties and really test your friends’ knowledge of the three series’.
Having memorized a lot of Monty Python’s Flying Circus dialogue when I was younger, I discovered the secret to developing a deep knowledge of a show was to begin by having a solid framework on which to hang more obscure details. That meant knowing something about each single episode in a way that helped me remember which was which, so I didn’t have to remember the episode numbers: using images, names and such as mnemonics. So continuing on from my Twilight Zone trivia posts let’s have some fun with the old shows, and I hope you enjoy all this. If you can watch and remember some small bit from every episode of a series then you are equipped to ace any sci-fi trivia contest that goes anywhere near the 1960s. And as Professor Farnsworth always says, “Good news, everyone!” I will also be including FUTURAMA, Space:1999 and (the original) Battlestar Galactica trivia as a bonus for all you super nerds out there who share my love of these shows.
This time we will be going through all three seasons of the campy sci-fi adventure show Lost In Space (1966 – 1968). Though it started as an adventure show, its fantastical plots and exaggerated characters (such as the evil, humorously ineffective Dr. Smith) soon turned it into a camp/fantasy show, similar to Bat Man, which was on the air during the same period. One such example of this is “The Great Vegetable Rebellion” wherein Dr. Smith is turned into a poetic, tree hugging celery-being by Tybo, a half man/half carrot.
- What is the name of the ship? The Jupiter 2.
2. What organization oversees its journey? Alpha Control. What is its mission? To colonize the planet Alpha Centauri.
3. What year does the Jupiter 2 launch? 1997. Who are its occupants? The Robinson family: Professor John, his wife Maureen, daughters Judy and Penny, and young son Will, a pilot (Major Don West), the endlessly scheming and incompetent Dr. Zachary Smith, and an assistant robot.
4. Why are the Robinson family actually lost in space? Dr. Smith (working as a saboteur for an unnamed foreign power), programs the mission’s robot assistant to destroy the ship after it has launched. Why is he also lost in space? He is accidentally trapped onboard the Jupiter 2 when it launches.
5. What phrase do the majority of the series’ episodes begin with?” Last week… as you’ll recall…” Narrator Dick Tufeld was also known for what role on the show? The voice of the Robot. What is Dr. Smith’s catch phrase throughout the series? “Pain…the pain!” What is Smith’s recurring excuse for getting out of any and all work? His back is always “feeling delicate.”
5.5 What is the end goal of Dr. Smith’s ongoing (and inevitably poorly thought out) nefarious schemes throughout the series? To return to Earth. Smith constantly insults the The Robot using what literary technique? Alliteration (the repetition of initial letter sounds in neighboring words, e.g. mechanical monster, traitorous tintabulation, etc.).
6. What is the official yet hardly used name of the robot’? B9 (“benign”). What is B9’s unofficial catchphrase (though he only uses it once during the series)? “Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!” Bob May, the actor who wore the Robot suit, appeared in an episode of the television series The Time Tunnel as what real life dictator? Adolph Hitler.
6.5 What is the name of Penny Robinson’s pet alien? Debbie the Bloop. What real life animal was used for the character? A chimpanzee wearing a special headpiece and diaper, both made of fur.
7. What award was the first episode nominated for? An Emmy (for special effects).
8. What legendary sci fi film composer wrote the theme song and music for several episodes? John Williams (Star Wars), credited as “Johnny Williams”.
9. In “The Oasis”, how does Dr. Smith use the last of the water supplies he steals from the Robinsons? He takes a leisurely shower (assisted by The Robot holding a hose).
10. In “The Sky Is Falling” what toy do the alien child and Will Robinson play with? A ball that flies and returns like a boomerang. Guest actor Don Matheson (Letho) also appeared in the episode “Revolt of The Androids” as what character? IDAK Alpha 12.
11. In “Wish Upon A Star” what is the final “item” Dr. Smith conjures before the alien takes away his wish-granting machine? A butler.
12. In Episode 12 (“The Raft”) what planet does Dr. Smith think he and Will have crash landed on? Earth. Where have they actually landed? Priplanis, the planet from which they left.
13. What “alien monster” is Dr. Smith afraid of in Episode 13? A small dog.
14. In “Attack of the Monster Plants” what monster steals the Robinson’s fuel? A plant controlled clone of Judy.
15. In “Return From Outer Space” what planet is Will transported to? Earth. In what U.S. state does Will land? Vermont.
16. What other TV show did Dr. Smith (Jonathan Harris) and The Keeper (Michael Rennie) appear in together, other than in the Lost In Space episodes “The Keeper” (Part 1 and 2)? The Third Man.
17. In “The Keeper: Part 2” what “monster” is left behind by The Keeper as a punishment for the Robinson family? Dr. Smith.
18. “The Sky Pirate” guest actor (Albert Salmi) also appeared in episodes of what other 60’s sci-fi themed anthology show? The Twilight Zone. What tragic real life crime did Salmi commit? Murder-suicide (his wife).
19. In “Ghost In Space” how does Dr. Smith try to contact his Uncle Thaddeus? With a ouija board. Trivia: the ouija board started out as a 19th century ideo-motorological parlour game until it was adopted as a spiritual tool by occultists.
20. In “War of The Robots” what famous cinematic robot appears as an unnamed alien nemesis for B9? Robbie The Robot. What movie is Robbie most well known for known for? The Forbidden Planet. What real world connection do B9 and Robbie have? They were both designed by art director Robert Kinoshita. What emotion does this alien robot create in B9? Jealousy, as Robbie is technologically superior to him. Which character does not appear in the episode? Penny, as actress Angela Cartwright was elsewhere filming parts of the next episode (“the Magic Mirror”).
21. Which character does not appear in “The Magic Mirror”? Will (Billy Mumy), as he was back on the main set with the rest of the cast filming scenes for the previous episode “War of The Robots”. Which classic Twilight Zone episode made Billy Mumy a sci fi icon? “It’s A Good Life,” wherein he played a malevolent six year old who terrorizes a small Ohio town with his supernatural powers. What other 60s TV series’ did guest actor Michael J. Pollard (the boy Penny meets in the mirror) appear in? Star Trek and The Andy Griffith Show.
22. Which soon-to-be-famous actor plays the young boy (Quano) in “The Challenge”? Kurt Russell. Michael Ansara, the actor that played Quano’s father (“The Ruler”), also appeared in what other sci fi series? As “Killer” Kane in Buck Rogers in The 21st Century, and the Klingon Commander Kang in Star Trek (one of the first three Klingons to appear on Star Trek, along with John Calicos, who also played the traitor Baltar on the original Battlestar Galactica series). What is actor Jonathan Harris’s connection to John Colicos and Battlestar Galactica? He voiced Baltar’s robot subordinate Lucifer. At the end of the episode what does The Robot express personal disgust for? Dr. Smith’s abstract painting (which Smith refers to as his masterpiece).
23. “The Space Trader” guest actor Torin Thatcher appeared in a 1937 staging of Hamlet with which actor (playing the role for the first time)? Lawrence Olivier. Thatcher also appeared as Marplon in which Star Trek episode? “Return of the Archons.”
24. What is the name of the planet in “His Majesty Smith”? Andronica. What object does Will find that Dr. Smith convinces him to relinquish? A crown. How do the Robinsons come to suspect something is wrong with Smith? He (his clone) starts working hard, behaving kindly, and asking the Robinsons to affectionately call him “Daddy Zach”. Thousands of viewers called CBS the evening that this episode was postponed due to what major event? Live coverage of an actual spaceship (the Gemini VIII splashdown).
25. In “The Space Croppers” what creature attacks Penny, Will, and Dr. Smith? A werewolf. What makes Judy jealous? The farmer’s daughter (Effra) flirts with Don.
26. In “All That Glitters” what does Dr. Smith accidentally turn Penny into? A platinum statue.
27. In “The Lost Civilization” what leads Don, John, and Will to the cave where they find the underground city? They are looking for potable water. Child actress Kym Karath (the princess) is most well known for her appearance as the youngest child (hint: “Gretl”) of a certain family in what iconic movie? The Sound of Music. What other Lost In Space actress also appeared in The Sound of Music? Angela Cartwright (Penny), as Brigitta.
28. In “A Change of Space” what happens to Dr. Smith at the beginning of the episode? He falls into a pit of cosmic dust. What effects does the six dimension traveling space ship have on Will and Dr. Smith? It makes Will a genius and Smith a frail old man.
29. In “Follow The Leader” the alien spirit gives John Robinson the technical knowledge to do what? Repair the Jupiter 2. What similarity does this episode have with the movie Return of The Jedi? The ending involves a father refusing to kill his son while under the influence of a dark force. Trivia: though the next episode is the first color episode, the epilogue of “Follow The Leader” is actually the first moment Lost In Space is seen in color. What color are The Robot’s claws? Red.
30. “Blast Off Into Space”, the first episode of season 2, is known for what distinction? It is the first full episode in color. What colors are John and Maureen’s uniforms? Green and yellow. What colors are the Robinson children’s uniforms? Yellow and scarlet. What is the name of the monument Dr. Smith erects in his own honor? “Spirit of Space” (to celebrate his “contributions” to space exploration!). Why does the statue come alive? Will and Smith accidentally spill cosmonium on it (a rare substance that contains the quintessence of Life).
31. In “Wild Adventure” Dr. Smith is lured outside the ship by a strange alien woman named Lorelei. When Lorelei first appears, how does she communicate? By sighing and singing. Later on in the series she returns in what episode? “The Girl From The Green Dimension.” What is her name in that episode? Athena. Actress Vitina Graham (Lorelei/Athena) retired from acting in 1986 and became successful in what business? Real estate.
32. At the beginning of “The Ghost Planet” Dr. Smith thinks the ship is burning up. What is actually happening? The ship is emitting “St. Elmo’s Fire” (luminous plasma). Why is this an actual real-world science mistake? St. Elmo’s Fire is emitted from pointy objects, yet the ship is rounded. What is the name of the robot that greets and attacks B9? Officer 0-9 (oh-nine). What does 0-9 offer Dr. Smith a great treasure in exchange for? The Robinson family’s weapons. What is Smith then forced to do? Work on an assembly line.
33. What is the name of the reclusive humanoid in “Forbidden World”? Tiabo. How does Dr. Smith turn himself into a living bomb? He drinks what he thinks is a “marvelous beverage” which turns out to be explosive. Actor Willy Cox (Tiabo) plays which three characters in the episode? Tiabo, General Andos, and an unnamed army officer. What is the secret Tiabo is hiding? What happens after Dr. Smith casually mentions the highest tribute one human can pay to another is sacrifice their own personal safety? B9 decides to blow Smith up by attaching a cable to his belt and running a charge through it via an old-fashioned plunger detonator. How does B9 decide to test the effectiveness of the antidotal pills Smith takes at the last moment? He presses the detonator. Willy Cox was close friends with which super-iconic actor? Marlon Brando.
34. In “Space Circus” (as he does in all episodes) what happens when Dr. Smith is confronted with sudden danger? He shrieks. As a part of Dr. Marvello’s amazing space circus, what does Nubu The Magnificent juggle? Cosmic forces. What trick does he perform for the Robinsons? Makes his own head disappear. For the first time in the series The Robot and Smith do what? Sing (B9) and sing/dance (Smith). What song do they perform? “Tip-Toe Through The Tulips.” Actor James Westerfield (Dr. Marvello) was once room-mates with fellow actor George Reeves, who himself was famous for what iconic role? Superman (the 1950s TV version). Actress Melinda O. Fee (Fenestra The Queen of Mystery) is most well known for her role as Mrs. Webber in what famous horror movie? Nightmare on Elm Street 2.
35. Like the first couple of episodes of the series, “The Prisoners of Space” uses what? Previously filmed footage from the pilot or Season One. What organization is investigating the Robinson’s for various crimes? The Galactic Tribunal of Justice. What crime is Major West accused of? Leaving a “contaminated” wrench floating in space.
36. In “The Android Machine” Dr. Smith accidentally (and unknowingly) orders an android named Verda from what? A giant vending machine owned by The Intergalactic Department Store. How much does she cost? 100 “thalastros.” What happens when Dr. Smith continues to tamper with the vending machine? He ends being stuck in a muskateer costume he can’t remove. Verda teaches Will and Penny about the first creature to explore outer space. What was his name? Formale (“for-mall”). Actress Dee Hartford (Verda) and actor Fritz Feld (Mr. Zumdish) share what connection to the Marx Brothers? Hartford is the former sister-in-law of Groucho Marx, and Feld appeared in the 1939 Marx film At The Circus. Hartford also appeared in the Twilight Zone episode “The Bewitchin’ Pool,” which is known for being what? The last episode of the series.
37. In “The Deadly Games of Gamma 6” what are the gladiatorial Gamma “Games” actually meant to be? A way to covertly test the strength of a shadowy alien leader’s enemies. What makes Smith think he is almost guaranteed a victory in the games? He is to fight a little person (Geoo). What is Smith’s fighting name? “Tiger Smith.” What does Smith discover to his great chagrin? Geoo can turn invisible. What will happen should Dr. Smith lose? Earth will be invaded by aliens. Actor Mike Kellin (Myko) appeared in the Twilight Zone episode “The Thirty Fathom Grave” as which character? A Navy sailor driven insane by survivor’s guilt. Actor Peter Brocco (the alien leader) was not able to work as an actor for a period of time due what? Being blacklisted (considered a possible Communist sympathizer/agent) in Hollywood during the McCarthy era). Brocco is also one of a very few villain actors with what distinction? Being killed off in two different episodes of the 50s television version of Superman.
38. In “The Thief From Outer Space” what three tasks must Will endlessly repeat to keep the alien furnace running? Pedal a stationary bike, work a giant set of bellows, and spin a large wheel. What mistake does actor Billy Mumy (Will) make during the initial furnace scene? At one point he pedals the bike backwards. What title does the thief dub Will? Assistant thief. How does the thief threaten Dr. Smith during his interrogation? Death via a giant razor-sharp pendulum. The thief’s personal slave is played by 6’9” actor Ted Cassidy, who became famous for what iconic character in what other 60s television series’? Lurch in The Addams Family. Cassidy also did some narration for what 70s sci fi show? Battlestar Galactica (Cassidy voiced the Imperious Leader for some (deleted) scenes in the pilot before Patrick Mcnee was hired for the series). What connection do Malachi Throne (the thief) and Ted Cassidy have in common? They both appeared in episodes of Star Trek. Throne appeared on the 60s television version of Batman as what villain? Falseface.
39. In “Curse of Cousin Smith” what is Will almost injured by at the beginning of the episode? A falling suitcase. Why is Dr. Smith terrified to see the visitor? The visitor is his cousin, who is secretly hell-bent on killing him. Why? In order to inherit a fortune from Smith’s late aunt. How does Cousin Smith first try and kill Dr. Smith? With an explosive pie. How are Cousin Smith and Dr. Smith almost killed at the end of the episode? By a malevolent mobile slot machine. What is Dr. Smith’s favorite food? “Space” ragout with mushrooms.
40. In “West of Mars” what is unique about Zeno, the interstellar gunslinger? He is Dr. Smith’s mirror double. Actor Allen Melvin (Space Enforcer Claudius) played multiple characters on many television series during the 60s. On Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. he played which reoccurring character? Sgt. Hacker, the camp mess sergeant who tries (and completely fails) to teach Gomer the basics of preparing a meal. What legendary 1950s pin-up girl is interred in the grave beside Melvin’s? Bettie Page.
My heart is saddened by the passing of the various musicians, poets, actors, and so on that have made our collective lives better through their work, e.g. Art Neville a couple of days ago. In this particular case today it is intensely personal and my heart is absolutely CRUSHED to hear that legendary Dutch actor Rutger Hauer has passed away. Rutger was an iconic sci fi actor, best known for his work in the classic sci fi movie “Blade Runner” (my favorite movie of all time). Hauer played synthetic human (“replicant”) Roy Batty, a violent criminal desperately seeking a way to extend his life (set at four years). Though Roy assaults and massacres his way through the various scientists that helped created him, he finally faces up tot he truth that nothing can be changed and he has mere hours to live. In pursuit of Roy is Rick Deckard (an equally brilliant Harrison Ford) a police assassin (“blade runner”) sent to hunt and kill Batty and his posse. By the end of the movie Deckard has killed everyone but Batty and in a final battle, Batty breaks a couple of Deckard’s fingers, but then suddenly decides to save Deckard from falling to his death, before giving a heartbreaking speech about the fleeting nature of existence and proceeding to die before Deckard’s very eyes.
Batty has been mercilessly torture-killing his way though the film and yet at the end he spares a single life, the man sent to kill him. Throughout the film director Ridley Scott has structured the dialogue, plot, and cinematography to suggest that Deckard himself may be a replicant, so Batty’s decision to save him suggests there is more to Batty’s mercy than meets the eye. Batty’s final speech, though extremely brief, is one of the great moments in sci fi cinema if not in all of cinema itself, and Hauer’s performance remains one of the most oft quoted in all science fiction. You have spent the entire film hoping to see Batty pay for his crimes by being killed by Deckard and yet at the end you see a small glimmer of “humanity” shine through as he slips away into eternal sleep, feeling sorrow and compassion for this being who was designed by his maker (the Tyrell Corporation) to be a violent military replicant and yet ends his lifespan saving a single life.(Note: it is an odd coincidence that Rutger Hauer and his character Roy both passed away in the year 2019…).
Both the movie and the breathtaking score by Greek composer Vangelis have had a HUGE impact on my life, and to lose Rutger Hauer, though inevitable, is still like a dagger in my soul. After (literally) hundreds of viewings over the last 32 years, Bladerunner, and Hauer’s performance are etched into my very being and I am extremely grateful to Mr. Hauer for decades of pleasure and poignant contemplation.
Godspeed, Rutger Hauer… to paraphrase your Bladerunner speech, you will NEVER be forgotten in time… like tears in the rain…