Sunday Chuckle: Radio Mission Accomplished Face

RECAP:  Visions In Sound – The Black Hole on 98.5 CKWR

To those of you who tuned in:  thank you!  Sorry to Holen MaGroin for not reading your email on the air.  I couldn’t quite figure out how to work “I wish I could ask about The Black Hole, but I’ve never seen it, Disney sucks ass, Fuck ’em,” into the discussion.

Thanks Rob Daniels for having me, and to Jason Drury for awesome insight and comedy relief. (Ernest Borg-ninny.)

I was doing research all week, including watching lectures from Neil DeGrasse Tyson and other scientists about black holes.  Neil DeGrasse Tyson is a harsh critic of the film, incidentally.  I was glad to have worked this into the discussion.  Due to the sheer amount of research I did, I was overprepared and hyped to go.

I always take a nap before the show, which used to air at 12:30 am.  Well, I hadn’t been on Visions In Sound for a while.  I woke up at 11:50 to have my coffee and a bite to eat.  Then my phone rang.  It was Rob and they were about to go live!  Turns out the show was back to the 12:00 am slot.  Whoops!  I hopped in the car and drove down to CKWR which happens to be only 10 minutes away anyway.  I made it in just in time for my introduction, and that’s including having to stop for a R.I.D.E. check on my way!  Thank you to the local boys in blue, always doing a fantastic job keeping us safe on the road.

Among the myriad subjects discussed, one of the most interesting to me included Rob’s topic, the blaster beam.  I’d never even heard of it before, but I have absolutely heard it before.  It’s an integral part of the soundtrack to Star Trek: The Motion Picture, which I am intimately familiar with.  I thought that what I was hearing was a guitar.  Turns out it’s a bizarre 15-foot long beam of stainless steel with strings and pickups.  You can hear it readily in The Black Hole (music by John Barry), and now I know what it really is.

We also talked a bit about the toyline (available by mailing in UPC codes found on cereal boxes).  We couldn’t ignore the elephant in the room, which is the bizarre ending to a so-called “children’s film”.  In this visually stunning abstract sequence, the villain Dr. Reinhart (Maximilian Schell) embraces and merges with his robot minion called Maximilian (no relation).  Reinhart finds himself trapped in Maximilian’s shell (pun intended) ruling over a hellish landscape.  Wild-eyed and helpless, Reinhart is punished for the evil he inflicted.  Meanwhile our surviving heroes, including robot V.I.N.CENT. (Roddy McDowell) experience a wild ride including visions of a heavenly cathedral and a floating angel.  They then emerge in a brand new universe, to triumphant swells of Barry’s score.  This raises numerous questions about the film’s message on heaven, hell, morality, mortality, the soul, artificial intelligence, and more.

Thanks again to Rob for having me.  I am currently planning to be there for his 1000th episode a few weeks from now, and his Rise of Skywalker special the following week.

This episode can now be streamed at Visions in Sound, just click the link right here.




    1. One thing I’d love if you did, is look up a musical instrument called a “blaster beam”. I learned something new on this show. Any time I heard this instrument, I assumed it was a guitar. It’s not. It has pickups and strings…but it’s not a guitar! You will love this.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Listened to bits and pieces from here and there. Sounded good. Job nicely done! I started a new project, getting into REM. Thought I listen to each album for a week. Yesterday I already kinda cheated and started by listening to Dead Letter Office on repeat. Beforehand I’m only familiar with green, automatic, around the sun. So there’s lots of new stuff to be heard. Did u get that anniversary edition of Monster? Which version did u get?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I just bought all the R.E.M. I.R.S. albums on CD about a month and a half ago, and have been re-listening extensively to them, so if you need an R.E.M. recommendation, I’m your guy. Always liked those albums, just didn’t have them on CD. The I.R.S. discs are their best stuff. Indispensable, though Dead Letter Office is probably the worst of that early stuff mainly because it’s B-sides only, though I still like it. The CD version has their original EP Chronic Town as bonus tracks though, and that EP rules unconditionally (they’re the last five tracks Wolves Lower through Stumble).

      My recommendation is to start at the beginning. Murmur is killer, total classic. Just great timeless stuff, and “Reckoning” is on the exact same wavelength of acoustic based jangle pop stuff that just rocks in a really pure, unblemished way. They’re two albums of a kind, and clearly the basis of all alternative to follow without sucking shit like most of the alternative that followed.

      Their next release is the contentious Fables of the Reconstruction which has poopy production but it fits the style of the music. It’s probably their most downtrodden album, and their most Southern as well. It has gothic ’80s overtones, a very interesting disc. The songs compliment each other well even if there are few standouts than on the first two. It’s just an album you have to be in the right mood for, but if you are, then it’s fantastic.

      Lifes [sic] Rich Pageant is next, and it’s almost the polar opposite. The production is super punchy and tight, and clean. I wouldn’t go so far as saying the songs are upbeat, but they have a lot of get up and go in them. The first two albums are fairly laid back, and the third is brooding, but this fourth one has some gas in the tank. This is when they start to get more political as well, and you can understand what Michael Stipe is saying a whole lot better. It’s clear they’re gaining a lot of confidence, and while it doesn’t have the pureness of the first two, I like it as much. Killer stuff all around, and the production is very compelling. This one is pretty fantastic, no bum songs, but I have to give a special mention to “I Believe”, though it works best in the context of the record. What I can say about these early records is that the first four are all definitely albums that are meant to be heard start to finish, as the songs are even stronger in context.

      Document is their last with I.R.S. and their first brush with fame. The highlights on this are just fantastic, “Finest Worksong”, “Disturbance at the Heron House”, the singles. The first side is just totally bulletproof, while the second half is a lot more experimental. Not as strong as the first half, and probably not as consistent as Lifes Rich Pageant, but I also like it equally for the killer highpoints. Their sound had really gelled by this point, and it’s their first album with Scott Litt, who would go on to produce everything else they did. Not as cohesive as the first four, but makes up for it with the confidence and the stellar tracks on there.

      I’d say you should most certainly start with those early five just to see the progression. I got them all for around $1.99 to $4.99, so it’s not an undertaking to find them. It took one trip and only two stores. Super easy to find, super cheap.


    2. Right! I forgot Eponymous. It’s a greatest hits type deal that came out right after Document. It’s worth buying also because it has the soundtrack song “Romance” as well as the original single version of “Radio Free Europe”, and a superior vocal take of “Gardening at Night”. I’d recommend listening to the full albums by themselves before Eponymous though. Like I said, an album band through and through in the early days.

      LeBrain told me that he’s more of a greatest hits type R.E.M. fan, so hope these two posts help you and him get into the band.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I just picked on Monster for 99 cents. It’s still definitely not anywhere near my favorite (sorry Mike+Deke), but I don’t get the people that hated it. Some great tunes.. So if you’re keeping score, I have all the IRS albums (including Dead Letter Office and Eponymous), Green, and Monster on CD. Of course I’ve also heard Automatic and Out of Time (cassette), and New Adventures in Hi-Fi (a friend). I bailed after Bill Berry left the band though.


  2. Thank u Holen, that’s a lot of information. I just got the ultimate music guide REM edition and thought that over the Christmas time I’d go though the magazine and play the music. Original plan was to start from the beginning but I only have Chronic Town as part of Dead letter office on cd. So now I’ve must have played it 7 times and I kinda like it. I like bands goofing off. And there is a song that reminds me of Lords of the new church which used to be one of my favorites. Just got new headphones and got stuck in BJ folder. Need to upload some REM to my phone. I recall reading that Monster is LeBrains favorite REM album. Which one is yours?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I like Dead Letter Office. “Voice of Harold” makes me chuckle everytime, because it’s just the song “7 Chinese Bros.” from Reckoning with different lyrics. And those different lyrics are Michael Stipe reading the liner notes of an album sarcastically, makes me laugh.

      My favorite? That’s really tough. I love the first five a lot. I mean on different days it could be any of them. Murmur is probably the best in my eyes. It’s either that or Lifes Rich Pageant as my favorite. Rrrrggghhhh. Which one? Okay, it’s Lifes Rich Pageant. That’s my favorite (for now).


      1. I’m really digging Dead Letter Office. Makes me feel like I missed the boat first time around. I’m still sticking to the original plan to listen each disc for a week. Still got until Sunday with this one.


        1. Man, you’re in for a real treat. Murmur is so good. You’ll have to keep me posted each week. I would be curious to hear your opinion on how they evolved in the early years. Murmur and Reckoning in your cards in the next two weeks. You’ll be having a ball.


    2. I do really like Monster. It’s kind of a personal favourite because we played it a lot in store in 1994. But I think it’s also irrelevant which I like, because I haven’t heard many of them in total.


      1. Gotta listen to their early stuff, Mike. As Stipe would say, LISTEN TO ME!!!

        Fables of the Reconstruction is quite the grower. I think you can appreciate it a lot more if you’re an American, especially if you live in or near the south like this guy does. You can understand the picture they’re trying to paint much better if you know U.S. southern culture. Even the title is a reference to the Reconstruction era after the Civil War. On the spine it actually says Reconstruction of the Fables, it has two titles. How would that affect your OCD, Mike?


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