Friday, March 30, 2012

Bradbury Friday: Here There Be Tygers

This is a story I was unfamiliar with. Even while reading it, I still only remembered a few details. I had to listen to the radio version, just to be sure it was really what I'd been looking for. While collecting the books containing the 13 stories, I had found 12 of them, but could not remember (without my list) what the missing story was. In fact, when planning out the order I would run these, I still did not have a book containing Here There Be Tygers. One source I had directed me to a book that did not contain the story, and the other book I was looking for seemed to elude me at the library.

I did a search, looking through the Harper Collins web site because typically, they allow you to look in the books online. I looked through the table of contents of several books before discovering that the story is contained in A Sound of Thunder and Other Stories (which I had not found at the library). So I did an online search of my library's catalogue. When I typed in A Sound of Thunder and Other Stories, it actually lead me to The Golden Apples of the Sun, which it had on shelf. I was a bit puzzled because I thought that book had been out of print (and retitled A Sound of Thunder...).

When I got to the library, that book was actually a compilation, containing stories from The Golden Apples of the Sun and R is for Rocket. At first I was disappointed because Here There Be Tygers was not listed, until I looked further down in R is for Rocket. There it was. What a chase. Then, browsing a little (who doesn't keep looking at the library?), I found a book called The Day it Rained Forever. What do you know? It also contained Here There Be Tygers. And it also had a story that I'm going to do in a couple weeks, so that was the copy I pulled.

Now, that you've gone searching with me and can hopefully figure out where it is to find the story, I present, Here There Be Tygers.

We open our story with a crew of rocket men approaching planet 7 in star system 84. Chatterton is the head of a drilling corporation, looking for minerals, oil, and things to mine on other planets. His company funds the expedition. Captain Forester and his crew are along to pilot the ship and help with Chatterton's work.

This planet, though, seems different. The crew notices as soon as they land. Coming out of the ship, the air was perfect. Just right for a relaxing time, endless golf, afternoon croquet, tennis, baseball, and bicycling. The grass was green and lush. It even seemed freshly mowed. As Chatterton exits the ship, a small earthquake rumbles through. As it subsides, everyone laughs, "It doesn't like you Chatterton!" The Captain adds, "It didn't quake for us, so it must be that it doesn't approve of your philosophy." Chatterton then notices the grass, "I knew something was wrong! This grass; it's freshly cut!" His pessimism is shrugged off, "Probably a species of dichondra, always short."

No one seems alarmed by the state of the planet. They are all pleased with it, and hesitant to start in drilling. Chatterton, on the other hand is suspicious. He believes the planet is alive. "Any minute now, it can kill us all. It's alive!" He is determined to get his samples and get off the planet as quickly as possible.

The rest of the crew is in less of a hurry. Driscoll, a crew member finds water that tastes like a fine wine. The men find a stream that pours into a boiling water pool. "Fish, swimming in the cold creek above, fell glittering into the hot spring and floated, minutes later, cooked, to the surface." The men are enjoying the planet, finding it suits their needs perfectly. All they ever need is provided right there for them to be happy. Chatterton, however cannot be satisfied; the food makes him sick, the water tastes poisoned. So, what is to happen with this crew, and what of Chatterton? His insistence that like on a map in medieval history, "'Here there be tygers.' Some time tonight when you're sleeping, the tigers and cannibals will show up." Can this be true, on so beautiful a planet?

Read for yourself, and like all Bradbury, the story is not what it seems.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The PianoGuys' Day Off

The song from 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off'.  Very clever.

A note from the PianoGuys: "The pianos will play...when the Guys are away! The pianos are REALLY doing this, no trick photography. This was accomplished with amazing MIDI programming by Craig Knudsen on his Yamaha Disklavier! Note that special codes can move the keys on the Disklavier without generating sounds like normal notes played on the player piano, allowing for these fun patterns and effects on the keyboard."
The things technology can do for us.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Bradbury Friday: A Sound of Thunder

This story is probably one of the most known stories by Ray Bradbury. A Sound of Thunder was written in 1952 and published in a weekly magazine. It was then published in Ray Bradbury's book called The Golden Apples of the Sun, which was later reprinted and retitled, The Sound of Thunder and Other Stories. It is also printed in The Stories of Ray Bradbury. This story has been reprinted more than any other science fiction story, ever. There was even a movie based on this story (although I don't recommend it highly, they just didn't get it right). It was high on my list of favorites. I remember I once took the NPR radio version of The Sound of Thunder to school. I wanted my science teacher to play it for our class. I can't remember for sure, but I think my teacher decided against playing the story. Bummer. That would have been a great day in science.

We are in the year 2055. "Time Safari, Inc." is now offering a safari to any year in the past. You pick what you want to shoot, they'll make it happen. It's the ultimate hunting trip. Bag the biggest game you can imagine, and you can even have photographic evidence. The price is a mere $10,000.
Eckels is about to go on safari 60 million years in the past to shoot a Tyrannosaurus rex. The Thunder Lizard. He seems a bit nervous, but determined not to back out.

Mr. Travis, the Safari Guide in the Past gives the small group their instructions. They are to wait for his signal to shoot. There is a path laid out around the area that they are going to hunt. It is made of anti-gravity metal and floats six inches above the earth so the hunters will not touch the ancient earth. The strictest instructions are to stay on the path.

While it may just be speculation, they have decided that they must not meddle with the past. They are only shooting an animal that was about to die anyway. Any small creature that is killed, but was supposed to live, will not have its future off-spring. The animals that would have eaten those off-spring now will starve. And it goes on until suddenly Queen Elizabeth isn't born and America does not exist as they know it. All guessing, but nevertheless, they cannot be too careful. They must stay on the path.

But what about the pressure of shooting the greatest beast ever to roam the earth? When he actually appears, what will happen? Will they make it out alive? Before they left, Eckles asked, "Does this safari guarantee I come back alive?" His answer is simply, "We guarantee nothing, except the dinosaurs."

A Sound of Thunder is an amazing adventure with a fantastic twist of events. This is Bradbury at his best. The imagery is so solid. And you just want to keep reading. Don't forget to check out the NPR version at The 3D sound (can sound be 3D? I don't know how else to describe it!) is incredible. They bring the dinosaur right into your home/car/ear buds.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

ThePianoGuys: "Dumb Song"

I picked this video because I knew it would give my boys a laugh. And I love when they laugh.

Comments from the creators:
"Inspired by a tuna-fish commercial, Jon wrote this in high school, age 15, and it has followed him like a curse. Ever since, he gets hate mail if he doesn't play it in his shows. Jon has added many crazy antics over the years to liven it up. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did filming it!"

He wrote it when he was 15! Amazing. The thing I don't get is the tuna-fish commercial. But there it is.
My parents recently went to see Jon Schmidt in concert. I wonder if he played it then?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Phase 3 of the Bathroom

Phase 1 was the removal of the paint. Check.

Phase 2 was putting Spackle in all the holes and getting the walls sanded and washed. Check.
I've learned that I like to Spackle! But that makes for boring pictures. I used the pink kind that turns white when it's ready for sanding or refilling. Makes it easy for a novice like me!

Phase 3 then, was painting! CHECK! I spent yesterday morning/afternoon painting the bathroom. I really like the job. My oldest boy was not in school for the end of the quarter, while my youngest was at preschool. So my oldest sat in the doorway and hallway with paper and pen and we chatted while I taped and painted and he drew. I painted the ceiling, around the toilet and the sink/cabinet, and then a second coat on the ceiling before lunch. After lunch we picked up the preschooler and came back ready to paint some more. I taped around the ceiling, shower and doorway, and painted, painted, painted! I was finished (with 2 coats!) by 4:00. A fantastic job, if I do say so myself. I left part of the wall where the light fixture and new medicine cabinet will be unpainted. My dad is coming over next week to help with the removal of the old and the wiring and installation of the new. (Thanks, Dad!)

Such satisfaction comes from hard and careful work. I walk in there and it just feels nice. I can't wait to get a new towel bar and have the new cabinet and lights put in. Phase 4 will be the new fixtures and final paint touch-ups. Can't wait. This is so exciting! And for those interested, the ceiling color is called Crepe and the wall color is called Tea Time. It's quite the change. And at first look, I was thinking "It's SO brown!" But the more I look at it, the more I really like it.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Bradbury Friday: The Fox and the Forest

The Fox and the Forest is found in The Illustrated Man, as well as in The Stories of Ray Bradbury. It is a tale that begins during a celebration in Mexico in the year 1938. William and Susan are there on vacation. Susan asks, "It will go on, won't it?" "All night," is the reply. "No, I mean our trip." Here we discover that William and Susan are hiding from someone. William answers, "I have enough traveler's checks for a lifetime. Enjoy yourself. Forget it. They'll never find us."

Later, in a cafe, Susan notices a man watching them. Thinking back, Susan remembers. Her name is Ann Kristen, married to Roger Kristen. They live in the year A.D. 2155. But when they had the chance to leave behind the awful war that surrounded them, they took it. They booked a trip through Travel in Time, Incorporated to escape, release fatigue.

And now, this man; this Mr. Simms, as he identifies himself; has found them. Insisting they are from the Future, that they do not belong here. William is needed on the hydrogen-plus bomb project. He is too valuable to be allowed to disappear. Others will get the idea and try running off. But William and Susan do not want to cooperate. In their hotel room, they make plans to stay in crowds and disappear again.

The results of this plan, and the ending of the story each have a twist. Bradbury is great at adding the surprise at the end, never letting the audience guess ahead of time what is going to happen.

Enjoy the audio version of this story titled, The Fox in the Forest, at

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

An Update

I still have The Scarlet Pimpernel in mind for Book Club. I've just been a bit preoccupied. And, because it is a really old book, it isn't entirely a quick read. I'm going through it, but I may need another week. Or two. If you've finished, hold on to your comments. I really want to hear your take on this. But I didn't anticipate all the stuff that just keeps getting in the way. So if you've not finished, read on. You have time. If you have, awesome! Check back soon for a discussion. Thanks for your patience.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Bradbury Friday: The Man


The Man is a short story that can be found in Ray Bradbury's The Illustrated Man and in S is for Space. Although it is not the only story that Bradbury has written with a religious theme to it, it is the only one of that category in the Bradbury 13 series. Bradbury called this story one of his "What if" stories. SO, what if you arrived on a planet just after Christ had come, ministered and gone? (Bradbury did identify the Man as a representation of Christ)

Captain Hart has been exploring space. He enjoys the adoration of the crowds, coming to greet him and celebrate his greatness, as a man from earth coming in a space ship to their planet. But on this particular planet, on this particular day, the people there do not seem to have the excitement that Captain Hart had expected. In fact, no one comes to greet their ship at all. Outraged, Captain Hart finally sends his First Lieutenant Martin out to find the Mayor and bring in a welcoming committee, or at least find out why they haven't bothered to greet the new arrivals.

Martin returns with news that the people have no interest in the ship or its crew. Just yesterday, a Man arrived in the city. He was good and kind. He healed the sick, comforted the poor, and fought hypocrisy and dirty politics. But Captain Hart will hear none of it. A boy with a crippled arm showed Hart that he had been healed. But to Hart, this was no proof, as all he saw was a healthy arm. Captain Hart is convinced that Ashley or Burton, captains of two other ships, must have been here before him. They must have arrived and fooled the entire town, using advanced technology to "heal" and "comfort" the people, making them believe that he was of infinite wisdom.

Martin, however, believes the people. He feels something that Captain Hart does not. He decides to stay behind, to retire and live among the goodness he has felt here. Captain Hart climbs aboard his ship, determined to chase down this Man, and find out who he really is, needing Him to show Himself in person.

I think the overall message is that we should be able to find Christ in the ourselves and the people around us. He works through the people. We do the work for Him. Martin saw Christ in the people and believed. Captain Hart needed to see the physical person to believe. Who will have happiness? Who will never be satisfied? Where do you stand in your life? And what if you just missed that personal visitation? Would you embrace the remaining love? Or would you run away, seeking to find Him for yourself? Are you Martin, or are you Captain Hart?

Enjoy this tale. It is also available as an mp3 at for $1.95.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Bradbury Friday: Kaleidoscope

"I decided one morning forty-six years ago to explode a rocket and toss my astronauts out into a wilderness of Space to see what would happen. The result was a story that was reprinted in countless anthologies and appeared and reappeared in high school and college auditoriums. Students across country performed the story in class, to teach me once again that theater doesn't need sets, lights, costumes, or sound. Just actors in school or in someone's  garage or storefront speaking the lines and sensing the passion. 
"How do you cram a million miles of interplanetary flight onto a stage forty feet wide and twenty deep before an audience of ninety-nine? You just do it. And when the last human meteor fires down the sky, there's not a dry eye in the house. All Space, Time, and the heartbeats of seven men are trapped in the words which, when spoken, set them free." --Ray Bradbury, in the Introduction to The Illustrated Man.

Clearly, Kaleidoscope, is one of Bradbury's most popular short stories. It's no wonder Mike McDonough chose this story as one of the Bradbury 13 series. It is one that has been done and analyzed and looked at for years. Printed and re-printed. In the Bradbury 13 episode, some of the characters are a bit different (through dialog and what happens to them) than in the original story. But the resounding message is the same. How would you handle the death that is suddenly and unexpectedly facing you? You cannot change what is before you, so what do you do with the time you have left, simply floating until the end arrives? How would you cope?

As a kid, I really liked this story. It's hard to pin-point why, though. It must be the abstract concept that is presented there. What do you do with your end? You cannot change what has happened in your past, and your future is certain. You must now come to terms with yourself. Are you ready to do that? Now, as a child, I certainly didn't have those thoughts, and probably didn't really have a full understanding of the meaning behind such a fate. But I was drawn to this story. And reading it, now, there is still something about it that draws me in.

I reccomend this story in any form. The written story is available in the book The Illustrated Man or in The Stories of Ray Bradbury. You can listen to the Bradbury 13 edition that I heard as a kid, avaliable for purchase on And for anyone who is interested, there is also the 1951 radio version created by Dimension X, free on YouTube. Click Here for the link of that 30 minute video. 

Join me next week for another story that "almost could be, or might have been."