Monday, December 10, 2012

My LVD 2 DVD Transfer Station.

My "secret" to getting  solid Transfers 
from the old Laser 2 DVD.

1st, lets get something straight, a good recorder is a must have. Don't expect the Wal-mart $98 dollar el-cheapo to do the trick. ( Better would be to have a Video capture card for your PC.) 

I have a Pioneer Elite. It will allow me to record in the HQ Super-bit mapped XP 1 hour record mode, and will record 2 channel LPCM. So this thing can copy the LD soundtrack perfectly, ok. None of that low end DD 192kbps sound is to be had here.

A HQ burner is a must !

Second of all, and this seams fairly simple and straight forward, you will also need a 1st rate Laserdisc player. It seems to me like Laserdisc fans understand that.

Here is the real trick. Instead of putting the machines on top of one another, put them BACK TO BACK. Also, if you can, set them each on their own isolation tables. That way, none of the vibrations from the Laserdisc player will be picked up by the burner. Then,and here's the really big secret, get rid of the video cable all together by directly connecting the machines together with a pair of couplers  ( in this case I used some of old Radio Shack's Gold series male/female plug to plug 75 ohm couplers) This way there is as little loss or change to the video signal that you can have, since all a cable can do is harm.
Video Direct Out
Set the video recorder's input mode to "dark" if that option is available. This helps prevent the disc from looking washed out during normal playback. I use an older high end JVC monitor because it has enough connections in the back to get the job done.
You are now set to Transfer your LD Title to DVD. Set the burner to the correct input, select the 1 hour record mode, and off you go. Note: I also use 1st rate audio cables that are very short in length for great sound.               

I then run the audio out of the tv, which allows me to listen to the sound on my "monitoring station"

The whole thing is plugged into a power supply which is run through a Tripp-Lite Isobar.

And that's the way I do it. 


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Speaking of Prequels ...

Did you ever read this book when you were young? The Girl Who Owned a City,
By O.T. Nelson.
It’s about the aftermath of a plague that kills off everyone over the age of twelve. Sound familiar? Can anyone who’s ever watched the Season One Episode, “Miri” of Star Trek: TOS say “prequel “? I must admit, I really never even thought about that possibility until just recently. The events depicted in this book, which is aimed at young teenagers, could have easily happened before those seen in “Miri.”
The book was written in the mid-seventies, long after “Miri” had 1st aired, but still when “Trek” was in reruns. Its focus is not about how the plague itself began at all. No, in fact, very little back story is given (unlike, “Miri”). (  Dystopian works are often classified generically as science fiction ,  because a fictional universe has to be constructed, and a selectively told backstory  of some past  disaster is often introduced early in the book, because “the story” typically depicts events that take place in the future.)
This story, is mostly about how a society might? evolve after a catastrophe,  where the young  are forced to form a society “from scratch”,  by looting and building  a militia, armed with guns, Molotov cocktails, and primitive weapons. ( In “Miri” we see a city that is in a complete state of decay and ruins.) According to an article written for teachers by Jennifer Kemper at Yahoo, it mostly deal’s with mankind's inherent characteristics and how different individuals will react to conflict ( or approach a chaotic situation) when authority is not present, and highlights different viewpoints on the overall nature of man. I personally think this is a “slice of life” story, (the “ending” drops off without any real resolution, and since a cure to “the plague” was never addressed , nor a solution found, all the character’s introduced in this story, regardless of what they did or did not do, are bound to have very short lives anyway.  Or are they?

Nelson himself has stated that his intent in writing the novel was to translate the Objectivist philosophy of Ayn Rand ( a Russian-American novelist, playwright, and screenwriter, turned philosopher) into terms children could understand.  Rand advocated reason as the only means of acquiring knowledge and flat out rejected all forms of faith and religion. Rand's fiction was poorly received by many literary critics, and academia generally ignored or rejected her philosophy. I wonder why?
 Atlas Shrugged, published in 1957, was Rand's magnum opus.   The plot involves a dystopian United States in which the most creative industrialists, scientists and artists go on strike and retreat into the mountains and hideaway there, in order to illustrate that without the efforts of the rational and productive, the economy would collapse and society would fall apart. This advocates the core of her philosophy’s and expresses her concepts of human achievements.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

I'm with Dr. McCoy. Dear God man, please don't beam me up.

 Mission Log: A Roddenberry Star Trek Podcast - hosted each week by John Champion and Ken Ray Gun  is a show where in it's sole purpose is to explore the Star Trek universe one episode at a time.  

Episode Six:  made me stop and really think about cloning Transporters . That's right. I said cloning Transporters.         By now I guess that you are thinking -"say what?"
You see - in an early episode of Trek - Kirk and the rest of the entire crew of the Starship Enterprise, including Mr. Spock, in what has got to be one of the worst brain farts ever ( due to lack of money,  poor script writing, and/ or props, and or a combination of all three - because you see Timmy, the models weren't finished being built yet) because they just simply forgot about all them there shuttle craft that should be parked on the hunger deck, that could have been used at any time, to rescue a stranded "Away Party" from sub freezing temperatures and possible death on the surface of the planet below, in -
Star Trek: "The Enemy Within" Your soul.


Do you remember the world's 1st ( ok, not for real, but fictional) matter Transporter device? No? Well, I do. 
It was dubbed "The Disintegrator / Integrator" and was seen nearly a decade before the one seen in the Original Series Star Trek.  
In Trek, the Transporter (originally dubbed, "The Materializer",) was a subspace device capable of almost instantaneously moving an objects or persons from one location to another, able to “dematerialize”, or convert said objects or persons to energy,  then transmit ( or “ beam” ) that energy to a destination, and then reassemble and reconstitute (or Kirk's case, "Re-integrate")  those objects/persons back into matter. My real problem with “The Transporter” as seen in Star Trek, besides that fact it’s just simply used as a plot device in this episode ( and God, I hate plot devices) is the way in which it operates.
 Let me explain.

For me, this type of tech could only work if there was both a Transmitter and a Receiver teleport device on the other end, just like, or as with, any TV or radio system. On one end you have a transmitting device that beams that signal, and on the other end you have a receiver that captures that signal. With cell phone service, the phones on both ends are both transmitter and receivers, and the “transmitter” is a 3rd party network device that is utilized to send the signal both ways.

In order for this thing to work, there should have to be a transporter at both ends. TOS attempted to reinstall this idea (the way that it should be) back into the film series beginning with “The Motion Picture”.  When Kirk needed to get to the ship, he beams up from Earth to a nearby Space Station, because the Enterprise Transporter’s are not yet operational. 
When they later 1st test them, sure enough, death occurs. So Kirk couldn’t just beam on to the ship any where he wanted, he had to arrive in the transporter room or take a shuttle.  In the original series, beaming to and from a transporter chamber was a necessity when beaming “ship to ship.”  This was explained in the episode "Day of the Dove". Spock and Scotty had said that doing a site-to-site transport  on board the ship could be risky. They could "beam into a deck" or into an inanimate object and get stuck there.  Is this the reason why we always saw the Crew materializing on a transporter pad when beaming ship to ship like at Space Station K7, in “The Trouble with Them There Little Tribbles”? But I guess that a planet is a big enough stationary target that they don’t need a receiving Transporter to beam up or down?

Anyway, since the laws of physics state that matter can not be created or destroyed, it simply changes forms, how then, is it possible, that the little old transporter can create not one, but two “copies” of a person, as the device was shown to do during this episode "The Enemy Within"? Would that not be creating double the amount of matter? That’s one hell of a cloning machine they have there! Did both copies have half as many atoms? Since your “DNA pattern” is stored in the ships computer, heck, if you die,  shouldn't they just be able to stop and visit the Transporter Room and order up another copy of you? 

Something like this happened years later in the ST:TNG episode “Second Chances”, when attempting to transport Lt. Riker through an unstable atmosphere, the beam 'reflects' and split into two identical beams, creating an exact physical duplicate where he remained undiscovered on the planet's surface for eight years.
In the Voyager episode "Tuvix", much like in the movie “The Fly”, another transporter accident combines both the physical and behavioral aspects of Lt. Tuvok, and Neelix, into a single being. What about what happened to Scotty when he was brought back to "life" in TNG's "Relics."? He was stuck and survived in storage as a mere "Ghost in the Machine" in the cyberspace world that was known only by it's label, "The Pattern Buffer" for 75 Years!  OK. Yeah, right. ( This theme would later be addressed in other Sci-Fi movies and shows like "The X-Files", "Robocop", The LawnMower Man, and "The Matrix".)   The "other" guy that stepped into the transporter with Scotty simple beamed out of existence, because they were unable to retrieve his pattern out of the data storage unit intact. Damn. Hey, come to think of it, didn't something like this happen in another early 80's movie called Tron?

My real problem is that the transporter doesn’t address the issue of the human soul.  Hell, even if you don’t “believe” in a “soul life” and you believe that death is death, I don’t believe that a Transporter could never copy a “living being”, much less do what it does in this episode, when it splits a man’s subconscious self into two halves. Oh, ok, I’ve got to give credit to where credit is due. Yes, Shatner does an awesome job of making you believe that it can.  But Captain James T. Kirk is not a flying Buzz Light-year Toy, ok.  A device such as this should not be utilized to beam up the living, but should only work for and on "things", like boxes that are clearly marked "Classified: Do not open" (which also just so happens to be big enough to allow a crazy inmate to stow away in and thereby go both undetected and then unnoticed by the ship's red-shirted Transporter operator only a couple of episodes later.)

Here we are now to believe, due to some “malfunction” caused by “ore dust”, that now this thing can reprogram the way the human mind works when it reassembles someone.  Could you imagine the endless possibilities that could occur if you could reprogram the mind of your clone, or clones? 

The movie, Multiplicity, comes to mind. In that film, they clone-a-clone, and his personality defects issues are because of that. Those defects more pronounced when this is done, demonstrating how a copy of a copy may not be as 'sharp' as the original.

If either the Enterprise, or any other Starship Transporter's  had those type of capabilities, then I believe this device would have been used to “cure” the criminally insane, like those found at both the Penal Colony on Tantalus V ( as seen in the Episode “Dagger of the Mind”)  and on Elba II, an asylum for the insane, as seen in the Season 3 episode “Whom Gods Destroy” (in which Dr. Adam’s rode is the same as the one wore by the staff at Tantalus V). 
Why then would Starfleet or any "prison" even need drugs or a “ Neutral Neutralizer” when you could use the one of those  “Mind-Altering Cloning Transporters”?
          Now that would be a real house of horrors indeed.

Monday, August 27, 2012

STARDATES used in Star Trek: TOS

The Original release cover design for both the VHS & LVD
My personal take on the Stardates used in Trek:TOS

Now, according to both Phil Farrand, author of "The Nitpicker's Guides" and my very own deductive reasoning skill's, I have come to accept that every 1000 StarDate Units is equal to one "Star Year". Each StarDate is an 8 hour shift at work.  Three shifts is equal to a 24 hour "day".  

Yes, I know there are certain episodes where the StarDate given during Kirk's voiced over Log entry does not allow for enough passage of time for those events during some of the episode to occur. However, I think this is due to a post production problems that occurred in the timing of the ADR.
They would later come to change it so that a "Stardate" would equal "one day" later  during movie series.

Point of Interest: StarDates had yet to be introduce when Pike had command of the ship.

 After further research and study, I believe that one must not look at the episodes in production order, and or by broadcast order, but rather by "Star Date Order" in order to get the correct intended order of the episodes.  This also may why Columbia House released the 1st Trek "sell through" VHS series in  "Star Date order."

Season1 - episodes 1-6, 10, and 14, take place in year 1 of the 5 year mission .   Episode 17, "The Squire of Gothos" , Star Date 2124.5 begins the second year of the mission, and
Season1 - episodes 7-9, 13, and 16, ( by air date order) take place during end of year 2 based on  Star Date's given of 2712 - 2947.  
The rest of "season 1" takes place at the beginning of year 3 of the mission through Star Date:3417

I'll give you one example:
I'd like to point out that the Star Date given at for the Season 1 Episode of "The Menagerie Parts One & Two"  is 3012.4, which would put those events at the very end of the crew's 2nd year together, ( just beginning their 3rd year together, and that means this episode takes place after the events seen in ""The Galileo Seven" and "Court Martial" ) and that would be about right based upon the fact that Kirk stated that he took over Command of the Enterprise from Capt. Pike and then Spock states he served with Pike for "11 years, 4 months, and 5 days" and during the hearing Spock states that the events from "The Cage" took place 13 years ago. ( Did Pike command 2 - Five year missions with a year between them in order for the ship to get a refit? Could Spock have been under Pike's command for 4 months before the Enterprise 1st launched for it's 1st 5 year mission under Pike? Sure, why not? We know that Pike took over the Enterprise from Capt. Robert April ( the 1st to Captain the Enterprise) after April's Original Shakedown cruise and the ship's very 1st 5 year mission under him that followed.  This all works. 13 years less 11 years equals 2 full years that Kirk has been in Command! Which is why Kirk and McCoy know and trust  Spock so well at this point in the show.  Even though this is only the 11th and 12th episodes to air,  (the 16th produced) what is more important here are the Stardates. 

I think Gene knew that there would be production delays and that episodes would be aired out of production order as well. So here was a way to allow us to figure out the correct episode order. When there were problems, like with  "Assignment: Earth", "they" would simply not assign a StarDate to that episode, that way. that episode could fit in anywhere, since all of the episodes are "stand alone" episodes that don't really depend on one another.

If  "Where No Man" takes place in 2265, ( Stardate: 1312)  then this Episode takes place at the beginning of 2267. Subtract 13 years and "The Cage" takes place near the very end of  2254.
( By then the ship was almost ten years old, since she was built in 2245.)

Season 2 begins during year 3, and contains some 9 episodes from year 4 of the 5 year mission starting with "Bread and Circuses" . Star Date 4040.7, and should end with "Return to Tomorrow"   Stardate 4768 (highest Stardate listed in Season2)

Finally, season 3 really takes place through the end of year 5.  ending Stardate of 5943.7 for "All our Yesterdays", the "Zarabeth" episode, which I believe was The main Reason WHY Spock went to the planet "Vulcan" to purge all of those emotions when Enterprise was being refit through Stardate  7411 during "The Motion Picture".

Note: Trek's last Episode to be produce and that aired, "Turnabout" had a Star Date of 5928.5.

 I think this helps explain how we can have an episode like "Elaan of Troyius" (Star Date 4372.5) between two episodes like "Wink of an Eye" (Star Date 5710) and "Whom Gods Destroy" (Star Date 5718.3) It means that those events in "Elann" took place during the 4th year of the Mission, while the event in the other two episodes took place during the 5th year of the ship's mission.
And that is my take. The 4th and 5th year are not really "missing". The stories that were not told really would have taken place during a large chunk of year 2 (stardates 2130-2700) and some during year 3 (3800-4400).

What do you think?

Monday, July 9, 2012

Interview with Ben Burtt, Super 8 Sound Designer and Supervising Sound Editor

Interview with Ben Burtt, Super 8 Sound Designer and Supervising Sound Editor

Found Posted on CG Terminal :
From : SoundWorks Collection
 Ben Burtt is a Legend and two-time Oscar Winner and was the Head Sound Designer for 1st "Sprocket Systems" and then "Skywalker Sound" for Lucasfilm Ltd, having produced the sound effects for both the entire Star Wars and Indiana Jones film series. He would later join Pixar to produce "WALL-E." His latest work was on the film "Red Tails." Here he is discussing his joy of the Blu-Ray version of the "Super 8" Dolby HD 7.1 soundtrack. As many of you know, I loved this film. The fact that Ben was the main sound designer was the cherry on top. I just love this type of "ear-candy". Thanks Ben.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Retail Giant hhgreg's little known dirty tricks

            After Rex TV closed it's door's in 2009, I went to work for a Grand Opening event with hhgreg. Turns out, that event was the only reason why I was hired, because "they" way over hired like 22 of us sales guys (mostly leftovers from Circuit City, which had also just closed in the not so distant past) when "they" really only need 6 people to do the job, and fired 16 of us in a one day "mass lay-off event" because we had not made the company enough money in our little 60 day stay in an underdeveloped new mall that very few people even knew existed in the middle of an economic recession.  This company taught me a that there is no such thing as company commitment in Corp. America today. Never mind that my former boss and I were driving 48miles each way though one of the worst construction zones in the entire US at the time, and we were never late, nor missed even a shift, not once, and they still let us go.
          Why? Well, because, you see, "they" are all about how much profit margin ANY product has in it, and "they" pressure their sales staff to "force" certain products that have the highest mark-up, on to a customer. I shit you not.  Let me just state right now, in all my years of selling with both Rex and now with Sears, I've never been forced to do this. It was enough to make me sick. This ought to be illegal.
         As a matter of fact, at Sears, we discuss getting the right product for the customer's needs, weather it be the right size or type of  TV, or if the product needs to fit within certain restrictions. I've never had a question of ethics while being with the company. But at hhgreg, no, that's not how it worked.
         Let me fill you in on the real 411. Before we would open, we would have the morning meeting, in which one of the floor manages would walk through the Tv dept with the day's sales staff and discuss the "profit margin" on each TV. Now the reason why he did this is because the sales guys don't really make much of a sales commission on the selling dollar amount of the product. No, see hhgreg only really pays their salesmen on the "profit margin" on a piece. (hence, the incentive to shove a customer into a certain product, and spend more time talking about how much better the more expensive Tv really is.) So let's take, for example, if the salesman gets 1% of the volume, and 5% of the "profit margin" on ANY TV. (Not always true, but close enough for Government work.)
          TV A.) Plain 50in 1080p Panasonic Plasma w/ internet. A great TV. Nothing wrong with the set. Will meet a customers needs for the room Tv is going into.   Retail price: $899.99 on Sale for $799. Cost is $719. ( If they are lucky )Mark-up $81 Comm: $8 bucks on the "volume", plus $3 bucks on the "profit" for a total of comm of $11.
           TV B) Samsung 55in LED, 3-D, Smart 1080p HDTV.  Retail $3199.99 Now on sale for $2499.99. Save $700. There cost $1889. Mark-up $610 . Comm: $ 25 on the "Volume" and $ 30 on the "profit" for a total comm of $ 55. Plus, Samsung if offering a "Spiff" of $100. So here, the salesman stands to make $155 dollars. Now, there is nothing wrong in that (the way they pay their people) in and of or by itself.
            But when management instructs them to only sell this or that TV based solely on how much money both the company and the salesman stand to make over another product, how much time do you think you are going to get then to talk about those other products that don't do them so well, regard less if the other product is just as good or not?  Now,  to make matter even worse, they would then take it one step further, and this is really where this becomes a "consumer beware" issue.
            They would (and yes, I'm sad to say, I watched in horror, but said nothing) set all the TV's that had a nice mark-up in them to the "Vivid, or max" settings, and everything else was toned down to "standard" or worse. some of the "loss leader's" (Tv's they advertize at really stupid low prices in order to bring people in the door, are displayed on endcaps with only a DVD playing on them, instead of the Blu-ray HD signal the sets on the back wall are being sent.  They even take the time to really make those top set's shine on. Does the average Joe or Mom and Pa know this or even have a clue? Are you kidding? I'm still shocked today by how many Senior citizens walk up to me in Sears and ask me, "Just what the differences are between Plasma, LCD, and LED?" Half the time I think to myself , "Where have you people been? Have you been hiding under a rock that long?"
            It's really shocking how under educated people STILL are when it comes to TV's. If these people go into an hhgreg, they don't stand a chance. No one coming in the door today knows what ARC (audio return channel) is or have even heard of it. 50% ( Yes, I said 50%,) of our senior population here in the United States have NO IDEA what  BLU-RAY is.!!!  I'd dare say 8 out of 10 don't know the difference between GUI and OSD or even how to change any of the setting in the TV's menu's. As a matter of fact, they are often afraid to adjust anything on the set, out of fear. Do they know any better? NO.
            More than likely they will just get confused or simply buy the TV that to them looks better to their eyes in the store because they have been so manipulated by just some of the unfair selling practices uses by this company.  Are you starting to see the Big Picture? Do you think any of the "Salesmen" at hhgreg even know what a Laserdisc is, or anything at all about what TV set's are better with lower resolution analog signals? NO WAY.  He just knows "sell this TV, add a matching Blu-ray player, & an expensive HDMI cable and stand or mount."
              That's all the company wants him to know. Let's not even talk about "delivery", "set-up" and or the "Extended Service Contracts." Oh, by the way, did you want to buy a bed to go with that TV?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Carlin best sums it all up.

My uncle emailed me this quote from the late George Carlin. In the wake of the economic meltdown and $800 Billion dollar bailout that followed, I feel that these words have never sounded more true, and so I thought I'd take a moment to share his words .................

"Forget the politicians. The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice . . . you don’t. You have no choice. You have owners. They own you. They own everything. They own all the important land. They own, and control the corporations. They’ve long since bought, and paid for the Senate, the Congress, the state houses, the city halls, they got the judges in their back pockets and they own all the big media companies, so they control just about all of the news and information you get to hear. They got you by the balls. They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying . . . lobbying, to get what they want . . . Well, we know what they want. They want more for themselves and less for everybody else, but I’ll tell you what they don’t want . . . they don’t want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don’t want well informed, well educated people capable of critical thinking. They’re not interested in that . . . that doesn’t help them. That’s against their interests. That’s right. They don’t want people who are smart enough to sit around a kitchen table and think about how badly they’re getting fucked by a system that threw them overboard 30 fuckin' years ago. They don’t want that. You know what they want? They want obedient workers . . . Obedient workers, people who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork. And just dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly shittier jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, the reduced benefits, the end of overtime and vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it, and now they’re coming for your Social Security money. They want your fuckin' retirement money. They want it back so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street, and you know something? They’ll get it . . . they’ll get it all from you sooner or later cause they own this fuckin' place. It’s a big club and you ain't in it. You and I are not in The big club. By the way, it’s the same big club they use to beat you over the head with all day long when they tell you what to believe. All day long beating you over the head with their media telling you what to believe, what to think and what to buy. The table has tilted folks. The game is rigged and nobody seems to notice. Nobody seems to care. Good honest hard-working people . . . white collar, blue collar it doesn’t matter what color shirt you have on. Good honest hard-working people continue, these are people of modest means . . . continue to elect these rich cocksuckers who don’t give a fuck about you. They don’t give a fuck about you . . . they don’t give a fuck about you. They don’t care about you at all . . . at all . . . at all, and nobody seems to notice. Nobody seems to care. That’s what the owners count on. The fact that Americans will probably remain willfully ignorant of the big red, white and blue dick that’s being jammed up their assholes everyday, because the owners of this country know the truth. It’s called the American Dream because you have to be asleep to believe in it . . .”

Thursday, June 14, 2012

My responce to IL Magazine's feature story by Simon O'Hagan

Spotify is Fly, but not HIFI

Let me 1st say, that even though I'm an American, one of my favorite publications is Britain's own  "WHAT-HIFI? Sound & Vision Magazine", because I'm so into this A/V "hobby". I have over ten years of experience selling A/V gear, and I really enjoyed this article, and just wanted to chime in here.  During the 1980's & 90's, no Stereo Rack System would ever be considered complete if it didn't have a Turntable, double cassette deck and a CD (or later, a 5,6,25, or 100 disc) player, so I'm a fan of each format, with all their pro's and con's. As far as cassette playing "second fiddle", while I'll agree that the prerecorded material certainly was, for sure, and therefore took a back seat to the LP and CD, for those of us who had higher end tape decks, however, and bought the right blank cassettes (like the Maxell XLII-S, or Sony HX-Pro, or Metal SR) the recordings we could make from those sources still sounded

better than the vast majority of today's MP3 downloads and streaming services.  I, of course, grew up "on" and with records, and always enjoyed listening to my parents collection of older 60's and 70's albums, ( still have an Technics SL-7 turntable) as well as the thrill of going to the record store ( something my children, ages 12 and 16, will never know or experience, even though they will more than likely look back on GameStop with the same fondness)  to buy that new album and get home after working at the local drive-in movie theatre and taking that LP for a spin, and listening to those big tower speakers sing away through out the night. (Both my Father's 1980 MCS Series (Technics) speakers and Scott’s vintage  Radio Shack Realistic Optimus T-120's come to mind.)  As far as The Brennan is concerned, Microsoft developed this thing over 10 years ago that had most of those features, and you could just plug it in with an Optical cable to the back of your surround receiver. It was called an XBOX. "Party on Wayne." "Party on Garth."

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Reference list of links attached to the LaserDisc Forever Facebook Page Conversations

My Star Wars Radio Drama Story ....

 There have been some nice reviews written of late  about NPR's 13- part adaptation of "Star Wars" for radio that was produced during the early 1980's by their Earplay series and released on compact cassette and CD in 1993, 1996, and again in 2013 by the Highbridge Audio Company under the title
 "George Lucas's Star Wars:
 The Original Radio Drama"

The latest release The Topps Trading Card Limited Edition MP3 Version  found the entire program on an single disc. It now can be found for $29 or less.

 I believe it was, and still to this day, very well may be, one of the best versions of "Star Wars" ever produced. But this isn't another review of the radio Drama itself. A Great Podcast by TheExpandedFandomverse that just does that can be found here:

 This story is, shall I say, a trip down memory lane,  to my youth, and is my response to all the other post about this series on the web.  For anyone who has ever enjoyed this landmark audio production of "Star Wars",   this is for you.

      During the summer of 1983, when I was a mere 13 year old,  I had the pleasure of recording NPR's production of  "The Empire Strikes Back" Radio Drama off the air 
 ( I believe on  BASF tapes?, but can't remember which ones ) using one of those old Radioshack Boom Boxes of that era    (a Realistic SCR-2, I believe? ) while listening to it in the dark of night in my closet so that I could actually hear it. 
     Why did I have to do that? Well , because at the time my old man would blast the volume on our old RCA Console TV  ( that's only gotten worse ) and the sound would travel            ( and all to well - I might add ) down the hallway and so I just had to block that noise out. Note: no, I simply was not able to  shut the main bedroom door because,  our house didn't have central air, and our old 3-ton, 36,000 BTU Window AC  ( that's a huge window unit !) was, get this - in our room ( I shared a room w/ my younger brother), directly in front of the door, blowing the cold air down the main hall. It's giant compressor  and built in fans produced quite of bit of noise which also had to be overcome as well. Hence: The closet ! 
           Now, I had never actually heard "Star Wars" when it when out  "over the air". However, the parents of one of my best childhood friends at the time, Andrew Kelly Beckett, (who is now an  Assistant Dean @ University of Iowa) who lived 2 doors down,  had bought (at $5 bucks a cassette tape!!! which, was like $$$$$$ when you are a kid in the early 80's) for some extremely good, shall we say?, "bootleg" recordings from an employee who worked @ our local NPR radio station, who had managed to reproduced the series on, of all things, Scotch Brand audio cassettes (the very same brand of tape that Lucasfilm Sound Designer, Ben Burtt, had used to record the movie's sound effects on open reel to reel). 
          I would later used my 1986 Radio Shack (13-1219) Realistic-Clarinette's 115 double tape deck to dub them (again using , in this case, some rather cheap Scotch brand cassettes - the ones with the translucent see-through blue shells - remember them? You know- I was a kid, ok?)

 This was my 1st stereo system that I had bought with my own cash - and while this deck may not have looked like much, and yes - while she didn't have a built in CD player because that was a new Technology  at the time - 
RS's 1st CD player :CD-1200
Retail cost: $299.95

and a standalone CD player cost more than this entire system - she never the less had it where it really counted, mainly because of a little button labeled:
"Hi-Filter".                                                                                                                        This feature was normally only found on high end single cassette decks of the day.  I remember not even seeing it on their ( Radio Shack's) other stand alone double cassette decks  when I purchased this  shelf system - which even featured manual recording level control, normally a function not found in ANY "all-in-one" system. While  lacking "auto-reverse",  for a product at this price point,  which ,  "on sale", sold for a mere $200 bucks, she made beautiful copies. 
 I  would later go on to purchase way more expensive and far better decks ( from 3 head units, w/ DBX, & even Dolby S, to a deck w/ Digital NR)  - but I'll always have a special place in my heart for what this deck was capable of. I know that must sound shocking,  but I swear it's true. The unit even contained an aux input that would allow for the matching CD player to be connected.
 ( The Ultra  cheap  speaker's that it came with  were low end,
so I quickly replaced them w/ some Pioneer 2-way bookshelf units.   )   

        I have absolutely no idea how his parents managed to come across this person selling these cassettes (pictured at top and bottom of this article), however, the impression I was given @ the time was this individual might have been going around selling them door-to door, ( but, in all fairness, that might? just be that way I'm remembering it) , but man, I'm sure glad they found this guy. 
 At one point in my youth, I had them ( all 13 episodes ) so well committed to memory that during the sixth grade I would recite them at recess for another one of my friends .
  Cassette one (Episodes 1 & 2 - A Wind to Shake the Stars & Points of Origin ) was one of my favorites, mainly because most of that material came from the "missing" 1st
 ( and as of yet, unfinished) 20 minute reel of film - in which  they reveal glimpses of Luke's life on Tatooine - working on his Uncle Owen's moisture farm, dreaming of entering the Imperial Space Academy, and racing his skyhopper in the dangerous stretches of Beggar's Canyon - and in Episode 2, we get Princess Leia's first involvement in the Rebellion/   
Although,  I must admit, having just finished listening to this series again when I was traveling cross country this last past summer with my friend Matt, and I believe  Episode 4 of Empire - which is titled "Fire and Ice" - is easily the best produced episode of the entire series, in terms of production value.
Speaking of which, the audio in this series is better than in the films. Rest assure this simply isn't just some "book-on-tape" with added background music to accompany the narration and dialog.  No, no, no. Using Lucasfilm's sound effects library , sound mixer Tom Voegeli built this series "from scratch".  This is truly "theatre of the mind's eye" with an audio landscape so rich in detail the scenes  allow the listener to build / visualize great images . 

Keep in mind this program was produced not that long after former President Ronald Reagan just took office, and the VCR was just starting to sell. It be a couple years yet til Star Wars was available on VHS for retail sale ( 1984) - and oh yeah, Blockbuster Video wasn't on every corner. Oh - and another thing. The reason why everyone rented the titled was cause do you know what these VHS tapes cost back in the day?
      I have a sales list for Disney VHS tapes from the time, and they were more expensive than their Laserdisc counterparts! I mean these tapes are like $49 - $79 bucks a piece- and that's in early 80's dollars.  Besides, I don't remember  Laserdisc until the late 80's, even though they were being manufactured by the time the Radio Drama aired.  Not to mention, other that the film's soundtrack, the only other way to get any "Star Wars" was to listen to the famous "Story of Star Wars", which indeed was taken from the film's audio track, but timed out @ just under 50 minutes. Also, the original soundtrack itself only contained about half the music used in the film @ the time.

        Anyhow, after High School, in 1989, I left home, joined the Army and afterwards moved to Florida. I was never able to find those any of those old cassettes again. Ironically, the last birthday gift my mother ever bought for me before she died was the"Jedi" Radio adaptation on cassette in 1996.  I was not there when my family cleaned out the house I grew up in before they sold it, and those old bootleg tapes might have been thrown away then?
   I remember  Waiting 10 long years ( seemed like forever ) for the Program to finally be officially produced and released in 1993.  I'll never forget that day I laid eyes on the  Highbridge       ( cassette and CD)  version of it in the book store. 
 I had no idea that it was even being released. 
  Seeing it was a shock. Finally! There IT was !
I was expecting this thing to cost  $100 bucks.
Even though I was still attending school and just beginning to land real work  - no matter how much this thing cost -
 I was willing and going to deal with the pain.
Only $35 dollars on Cassette ! OH Hell yes! 
Hello ear candy. It was mine !
I'd later get The Empire Strikes Back version, and then the CD version of Star Wars. To this day,  I still have that receipt !

 In August 2010, I brought the CD's to Star Wars Celebration V  in Orlando and got Ben Burtt himself to sign them.

The only thing I didn't like about the packaging was that fact that pictures of the characters from the film were placed inside the program booklet.  I always  felt that one of the key advantages of The Radio Drama was that you, the listener, could make up both what the character's and the scenes looked like yourself.               So my version of the story "looked" different in my head than the film. Also, this release is missing the original  "an adaption for radio in 13-parts" opening tag line.
        Truth be told, these store bought CD's will never replace the fond childhood memories of those old home recorded cassette tapes - of that great adventure that once took place in my head, a long time ago, in a galaxy, far, far, away. 

Today we have produced a Facebook Fan Page dedicated to this product.
 You can find it here at : The Star Wars Radio Series.
 Hope you enjoy. Thank You.