Category Archives: Various and Sundry

Delia Derbyshire and the Doctor Who Theme

I know I’m not the only one who grew up collecting movie and TV soundtracks… and the opening themes of many works retain an almost Pavlovian response on me (and I’ve also tested this on my kids in the name of parent science: the Fraggle Rock theme still works).

So naturally, I thought of the memorable Doctor Who theme what with the current sweepstakes I’m participating in (as Jabberwocky Audio Theater).

Josh Jones over at Open Culture has a nice piece linking to some videos which gives you some of the background on the creation of the original theme — along with a montage of all the variations of the theme.

I’m looking forward to see how they’re going to adjust the theme for the newest Doctor.

In the meantime, if you like the idea of winning $250 worth of Doctor Who swag, the sweepstakes closes this coming Tuesday, July 17th.

Building an Audience or why I’m happy if some of you sign up for a sweepstakes…

One of the biggest things an indie writer needs to do is to build their audience. Furiously hard-working scribe and publisher Russell Nohelty has been trying to figure out ways to do that — and share what he knows. You may remember me talking about him and his efforts to help you sell your soul last year.

Well, fast forward to this year and my main outlet of writing is, of course, Jabberwocky Audio Theater. It’s not enough to have launched it this year, I want to build the audience dramatically, because –spoiler alert– that means people may support us so we can sustainably be on the air.

So this meant putting on my marketing hat and figuring out how to build an audience. One humbling truth is Russell has tested is how many people will become fans of your work if you demonstrate you are adjacent to one of their existing fandoms. For example, many people hear Rogue Tyger, and think of Firefly. In fact, there’s a lot of influences from sci-fi channels. In case some of you haven’t listened to JAT Chat #1, one of the influences for the format of Rogue Tyger and its cliffhanger endings was the classic Doctor Who serials.

So when the opportunity came to team up with a bunch of other indie creators for a Doctor Who sweepstakes organized by Russell, I was in. My hope is many a Doctor Who fan will enjoy the adventures of the Tyger’s crew. Why, there might even be a Blake’s Seven fan in the mix too. If this piques your interest, odds are you’ll be interested in what many of the other authors have to offer… and hey, we get a bigger audience.

To sign up, go ahead and visit this site before July 17th.

We Declare That George III is Worse Than Independence Day: Resurgence

In these here United States, it’s Independence Day! Because October 19th is a ways off and it’s not as socially acceptable to shoot off fireworks then.

So before you go re-watch President Whitmore give the aliens what for, why not enjoy this staging by the National Archives?

Muppet Monday

I’m currently reading Brian Jay Jones’ biography of Jim Henson, so it I came across this video about current Sesame Street muppeteers at just the right time. Enjoy!

Jobs Expanding to fit the Pointlessness

If you’ve wondered what the point of some jobs are — and if, in fact, there seem to be more jobs out there trying to “maximize innovative enterprise solutions” or just “realize value,” you’re not alone.

What’s worse is realizing you might be in one of those positions and then pondering what you can possibly do within the confines of that meaninglessness. (Though I suppose some people long for that.)

Why, you could put things on top of other things!

Over at the Washington Post, Jena McGregor talks with anthropologist David Graeber about his work exploring the societal and economic consequences of pointless jobs.

Besides the “Brazilian” fascination with the topic, I’ve been doing project and program management for about 20 years — a prime suspect for pointless work. As I explain to people from time to time, the level of meaning and satisfaction from my jobs varies greatly on the work culture and management where I work.

The contract where I updated a spreadsheet three times a day and had meetings about it was neither fulfilling nor, I would argue, very useful to anyone. It’s not like anyone got insight from the minutely updated spreadsheet or any bonuses from attending meetings. My management was unconvinced and, frankly, rather hostile to any process improvements.

Contrast that with a job where the manager said the first day, “No process is sacred, including our own.” And true to form, we updated one central business process no less than three times in three years — all to get people more engaged and meetings more consequential. I’ve also been in positions to happily eliminate thousands of hours’ worth of meetings from peoples schedules every year and set up intranet sites that (gasp) answer people’s questions without them ever needing to contact me about some previously inscrutable topic.

Reducing net headaches for hundreds of people — including those you’ll never meet — is immensely satisfying. But as Sam Lowry would attest, the bureaucracy resists simplification or clarity. So channel your inner Tuttle and watch out for Jack Lint.

Friday Night Fights

In case the various posts on Star Trek or my mentions of writing a space opera radio show hadn’t clued you in already, my geek quotient is reasonably high.

So yes, not only am I aware of Dungeons & Dragons, I have played Dungeons & Dragons and, in fact, have served as a Dungeon Master. As far as I’m concerned, that’s not a bad thing for writers or storytellers in general (see also these pieces on D&D and storytelling in Fast Company, Lifehacker, and Litreactor.)

Carlos Maza and Gina Barton have created a video for Vox in the Vox tradition of “[Subject], Explained.” It’s delightful, heartfelt, and reminds you of why it’s so much fun to “wander together” as they say.

Following the Money -er- Debt Financing

Reading a recent article by Bryce Covert about the demise of Toys “R” Us reminded me of other cases that ring similar bells about heavily indebted companies that went into bankruptcy like Hostess and American Airlines.

All said cases make me wonder what the place of private equity should be (see Covert’s article for some questions raised). And in case you want an argument for private equity much as it exists, listen to an interview with David Rubenstein of the Carlyle Group.

Scanda-wha?

Because I posted a number of videos by CGP Grey last week and because you want to know more about Skanda-hoovians (You know you do) Enjoy!

We’ll Give Scientific Rigor a Pass for Today

Even if I hadn’t studied primatology in school, I’d still like Lunarbaboon: his cartoons are so often fun and poignant.

Case in point: this particular entry that’s perfect for Father’s Day.

Thanks to all the dads out there.

Ranked Choice Voted First

My local primaries were not particularly interesting, but I found Maine’s primary elections very interesting to watch because they were using ranked-choice voting.

What is ranked-choice voting, you ask? Why not explain it with dinosaurs?

Or, you could look at this longer piece by CGP Grey:

I like this because it also explains how ranked choice voting (here called “alternative vote/instant runoff voting”) is not the end-all, be-all panacea, yet has advantages over “first past the post” elections.

And if you’re wondering why we’d want to move away from “first past the post” voting (i.e., what happens with most elections you’re used to), here’s another piece by CGP Grey:

Many a politician is not overfond of ranked choice voting because “voting for the lesser of two evils” is a pretty good strategy with just about every constituency outside of Cthulhu fans. Indeed, Maine’s legislature really did not like the idea of ranked choice voting and worked to have it removed, but those pesky voters has other ideas.

Here’s hoping the idea spreads, especially for local and primary elections that can benefit from more voter engagement.