Why the Science Fiction and Beer Channel?


lost in space encyclopedia 3 cover

As a science fiction fan:

I became a science fiction fan at the age of six.  The source of my inspiration, the TV show Lost in Space premiered in September of 1965.  While it was far too serious for me at first, as the show became more comical, I became a fan.

Let us now fast forward to 1977.  I was a voracious reader of science fiction in high school.  I had a special set of shelves installed on my door to my bedroom.  The shelves were designed to hold paperback books.  My father had to keep adding shelves to the door as my collection of books increased. 

In 1976 I met a friend who was heavily into science fiction fandom.  What, there’s such a thing as fanzines?  What, there’s such a thing as conventions, where people like me got together?  I jumped in with both feet.

That year, I attended Archon 2, a St. Louis science fiction convention.  There I met two people who would play major roles in my life: Ken Holland and Mike Suzor.  I knew Ken by reputation; he was a well known fan artist.  Mike was pretty good at drawing too.  Both were Lost in Space fans, as was I.  We sat down at a table, and talked about doing a Lost in Space fanzine called LISFAN.

Ken quickly drew the back cover for the first issue of LISFAN.  I went off to college in Columbia, MO, 125 miles away.  I would take bus trips back to St. Louis, and literally hang over Ken’s shoulder until he got some artwork done for me.

Just think of it: there is the scene: it is over 100 degrees.  Ken’s house did not have air conditioning.  He had a fan, but he needed it pointed to him, so he wouldn’t sweat over his artwork.  His refrigerator was out, so there was no cold water.  And that’s when the magic happened.

Ken had drawn part of the front cover for LISFAN.  He also had bits and pieces of other unfinished Lost in Space comic strips.  The cover was done on Bristol board, and in pieces.  I had to cut them out and rubber cement them together, which I did when I got home. 

I had a front and a back cover, and some small illustrations.  Mike Suzor had come by and done a couple of illustrations as well.  I assembled the issue using lots of rubber cement and my old Smith-Corona portable typewriter.  I wanted it to be 36 pages, so I could make it into a saddle stitched format, such as the way “Time” magazine is bound.

I went to my college town printing company, General Printing.  Saddle stitching was out: too expensive.  In fact, having them do anything but the basic printing was too expensive.  I had to collate (arrange the pages) and staple them myself.

I put out an ad in Starlog magazine” First issue world’s best LOST IN SPACE Fanzine $1.50 to (my address at the time).  And then I waited.  Orders started coming in.  Cool.  And then more orders.  And then the letters of praise started coming in.  And phone calls from around the USA, and eventually around the world.  LISFAN was a hit.

There were 8 issues of LISFAN in all, the last one being in 1998.  LISFAN kept gaining and gaining in popularity: I responded by putting more and more money into it, getting interviews with the cast, and so on.  

And then it all died.  The internet killed LISFAN, as it did such things as mail order businesses.  People were flocking to eBay.

It wasn’t all LISFAN at this time: I did a series of fanzines, from rather bland science fiction fan fanzines, to perzines (basically the printed equivalent of what we call blogs now).  Those fine old fanzines bit the dust as well.

I went to doing books, mostly through a company called Alpha Control Press.  This all culminated with The Lost in Space Encyclopedia, a book that covered almost every fact about the show.  That book inspired two sequels.  You Can Build the Lost in Space Robot was also a popular book I did.

My years as a science fiction convention attendee were rich and varied.  Every convention I attended I would also make sure to get a dealer’s table.  I branched off into such things as making jewelry and so on, all of which was popular.

I even tried my hand at room parties as well.  These were always well received.

And now—well, now I have the third edition of “The Lost in Space Encyclopedia” coming out.  I have my ROKU channel, Science Fiction and Beer.  I have this website now.  Gone are the days of fanzines and mail order catalogs.    Things are not as active for me as they used to be, but you know what? That suits me just fine.

blue ribbon malt
                extract

As a home brewer:

I first became interested in home brewing in the mid 1970s.  My father had been a home winemaker in the 1940s, and my interest in making wine spurred him on to begin making wine again, only using slightly more modern equipment.

I had read that it was possible to make home brew.  Back then, you could actually get Blue Ribbon Malt Extract at a lot of supermarkets.  The hard part was finding beer yeast.  You had to go to a specialty shop for that.  It was, of course, dried yeast.  You could get both kinds: ale and lager.

My mother was rather resistant to the idea of home brewing.  She remembered, all too well, the Prohibition beer her family had made.  She had the usual tales: exploding bottles, beer that was sour, and so on. 

The truth be told, just about everyone made bootleg home brew during Prohibition (I suspect in many cases it was a matter of defiance of a badly conceived law).  In fact, if you haven’t heard stories from your grandparents of the standard home brewing stories—then you haven’t talked to your grandparents enough.

Whenever my mother talked about home brew, he would inevitably say “I don’t want any of that heingemacht.”  Heingemacht is German for “home made.” 

Somehow, I managed to convince my dad to try home brewing.  There would be little cost involved: the malt extract, the beer yeast, the sugar, and that’s pretty much it.  My father already had a good supply of wine making equipment, so that could be used.

My father ordered home wine making supplies from Semplex of USA (gone now, alas) and ES Kraus (now EC Kraus).  He ordered a pack of beer yeast.  We went to a local grocery store and got a can of Blue Ribbon malt extract and some sugar.

 

Brewing the beer fell on my shoulders.  I remember writing to the Blue Ribbon Malt Extract Company for some beer recipes.  They first sent me a cookbook with recipes using their hopped malt extract.  Can you imagine it?  Opening a big can of malt extract and using, say, 2-3 tablespoons of the stuff for recipes, and you were apparently expected to keep the can in your refrigerator.

Later, I did try making their chili.  The malt extract added nothing to it.

A couple of weeks after I got that recipe book, I received an envelope with no return address.  Inside was a single mimeographed sheet of beer recipes.

I won't go into the ingredients or methods.  They were pretty much the same as Prohibition era home brew, as seen on this page.

Fermentation was vigorous.  After 1 week, I siphoned it into a 5 gallon carboy and fitted an airlock.  When fermentation was over (as shown by negative pressure in the airlock), I siphoned it back into a clean waste can.  I stirred in ¾ cup of table sugar, and siphoned it into bottles.

My father delivered newspapers for a living.  He noticed one house that always had a good pile of screw top Falstaff quart empties sitting for the trash man.  He bought some special cone lined plastic caps for the bottles.  I had washed off the labels and cleaned the bottles.

So my first brew was in 1 quart Falstaff style bottles.

Two weeks went by.  At long last, it was time to sample the brew.  I put a bottle in the refrigerator.  When it was cold, I opened it up and poured myself a glass.  It had alcohol, like beer.  It fizzed like beer.  It was yellow like beer.  Beyond that, my memory is dicey.  My mother quickly took to the stuff, and so my dad took over home brewing. 

My dad never drank the stuff himself; he just enjoyed the challenge.  Over time, he developed his own brewing methods, and later on, I was given the reins as far as home brewing again.  I naturally used his method:

5 pounds dry malt extract

2 pounds sugar

5 tsp yeast nutrient

3 oz. cascade cake hops

6 gallons water

Get a dial type (not a weight type) pressure cooker.  Put the hops in, along with some water.  Process at 15 pounds pressure for 15 minutes.   Use cold water to cool pressure cooker.

Get a clean waste can.  Measure out 6 gallons of water in it.  Mark where the water is on the outside of the can.  Toss the water out.

 

Pour in 3 or so gallons of cold water in the waste can.  Using a sieve, filter out the hops from the water.  Stir in sugar and yeast nutrient.

Boil 1 gallon water in large canning kettle.  Stir in malt extract until dissolved.  Stir into waste can.  Add water until it hits the 6 gallon mark.  Sprinkle on yeast and put a towel over the top.

After one week, siphon into a carboy and fit airlock.  One month later, siphon into another clean waste can.  Stir in 1 cup of table sugar, and bottle in crown cap bottles.  After 1 month, it is ready to drink.

This produced a very hoppy beer; something along the lines of Pilsner Urquell. 

My father often gave his friends samples of his beer.  They would complain about a “wine taste.”  So he would reformulate his beer, and still get the same complaint.  All he’d needed to do was remove the sugar, and that “wine taste” would have disappeared.

My father died, and I eventually discovered the internet.  There I learned about Charlie Papazian’s book “The Complete Joy of Home Brewing.”  I also learned about a local brewing club, The St. Louis Brews.

Those two things changed my home brewing completely.  My standards, as far as methods and equipment, shot upward.

Gone went the plastic carboys.  No more malt extract beers for me either.  I became an all grain brewer.

There is something magical in the whole brewing process: you crush your grains, put hot water on them, and sit and wait.  Enzymes that were in your malt go to work, converting the starches into sugars.  A simple iodine test tells you that the magic worked: when the iodine doesn’t turn purple, all of the starch has been converted.

The second stage of the magic occurs after you add the yeast: again, all you need to do is wait, and the yeast cells convert the sugars in your wort into alcohol and carbon dioxide.  Beer, in a sense, is alive.

nudie cuties logo

As a Video maker

As a kid, I was fascinated with making films.  This was the days before home video.  What I had available to me were 8mm and Super 8 cameras, so that's what I used.  My big film was "Destroy All Hu-Mans," which was about a time traveling Nazi super robot that happened to look a great deal like a $1.98 Darth Vader.  Rather than do my own special effects, I just got footage from 8mm films I had bought.  Way back then, you could buy 8mm (and super 8) versions of old feature films.  These were usually in black and white, and about 10 minutes long.

Now picture this: you'd have a color scene shot by me.  And then the film would cut to a black and white scene from a theatrical movie.  Later, when I transferred my films to video, I processed the color out of "Destroy All Hu-Mans" making it a black and white film.

Back then, editing film was nothing like today.  You had to physically cut your film, and then put the other film in, using glue or tape to hold it all together.  Editing film was a lot harder back then.

Years later, a fan had sent me some  video transfers he did of 8mm films.  They centered around clay dinosaurs wreaking havoc.  And I thought "I bet I could do something with this."  At the time I had a super VHS editing deck, complete with a jog shuttle dial.  I edited those films together, along with some other footage I had.  I learned how to dub in sound effects and narration precisely.  The film was called "The Fantastic Invasion of the Poorly Made Claymation Dinosaurs," and it languished in my closet of videotapes for some months.

And then someone sent me what has to be the best fan made video ever: someone had taken footage from the old "Archie" cartoons, and did some lip syncing.  I was impressed.  I'll let you watch it and see if you have the same reaction.



As a parody, it misses more often than it hits.  At points the lip syncing is dead on.
I thought about that video, and about my Dinosaurs video.  I had a bunch of really weird and stupid videos.  "Why not?" I thought.  I edited them all together into something I called "This Tape Sucks!"
I took the tape to science fiction conventions, where it sold fairly well.

I've been to a couple of low budget video shoots.:"Dead Silence" and Gorgasm," both by producer/director Hugh Gallagher. Like a lot of people involved in low budget films, I was involved in some unfinihed films.  I co wrote the script for "The Diabolical Doctor Fetus," as well as getting filmed for "Alien Maggot Brain Eaters."  Hugh and me still talk about doing "The Diabolical Doctor Fetus," as well as "Gorgasm 2."

At one time I had three YouTube channels, so I got my feet wet editing videos for those.  Youtube was a dead end for me, I realized, so I closed one account and walked away from the rest. 

Just as a test, I put up a ROKU channel called "Nudie Cuties."  It featured films that had lots of nudity, and that's it.  Nudie Cuties is still on ROKU now.  There are only 10 videos on it, and I really can't see updating it any time soon.  It was a good training ground.  Click here to subscribe.

I've done a bit of audio editing as well.  Audacity is a simple little program that gets the job done with minimal effort.

I've been having a lot of fun working on my ROKU channel.  Doing a ROKU channel is a completely different procedure from having a Youtube channel.  It's quite a bit more complex than Youtube.  Thankfully I'm bald, as working on that channel would have set me to pulling my hair out. :)

Looking over what was on ROKU, I realized that there were no channels that addressed my own two main interests: science fiction and home brewing.  This was a niche market that needed to be served.

And then I began work on the channel I really wanted to do, The Science Fiction and Beer Channel.  Right now, this is still just a hobby.  In the future months, as the audience builds, I will commercialize the channel, which will mean  a larger budget for shows, and more original shows, and a better server...

 The Science Fiction and Beer Channel is still in its early days.  While I haven't had much feedback yet, what I have received is encouraging.  Things can only go up.