The Mutant Variety Show


It’s Thursday, 5 April, and you know what that means: today is the day of the Mutant Variety Show here in Morris! At 7:00 this evening, in the HFA recital hall, all of the local mutants will be exhibiting their bizarre phenotypes to the public. I’m very much looking forward to it, and anyone else in the region should swing on by.

Note: I am expecting mutants. I insist on mutants. If there are insufficient mutants to satisfy me* … well, I have an Illudium Q32 Explosive Space Modulator, and I’m not afraid to use it.

*Or at least a theremin.**

**I might settle for a kazoo. But that’s rock-bottom. No more compromises.


  1. John says

    As a music teacher in Massachusetts, I too would like to advocate for the use of theremin–we used one recently in a performance of some Herbie Hancock, and the mutants in attendance loved it.

  2. Peter Barber says

    Or for an alternative to the theremin, may I recommend an Ondes Martenot? Olivier Messaien was rather fond of it, and used it in several of his compositions – apparently it’s a more versatile instrument. They’re pretty rare, though, so I’ve never seen one except on television. :-(

  3. Peter Barber says

    Damn it, it’s Messiaen. I always mistype it!

    Oh well, he was deeply religious and therefore deserves it. ;-)

  4. xebecs says

    Damn it, it’s Messiaen. I always mistype it!

    He’s not the Messaien. He’s a very naughty boy.

    Sorry. No, not really.

  5. Flex says

    Are theremin’s on people’s minds today?

    We were just discussing the possibility of building one here at work as a learning project before investigating the possibility of using that technology for proximity sensing automotive switches.

    I’m not sure drivers would like the idea of waving near the dashboard and having the radio change station, but it promises to be fun to work on.

  6. J-Dog says

    Would the Martians from Invaders From Mars count as Mutants? They are unquestionably “humanoid”, and bipedal…
    Could they be mutant australopithecines come back to discipline their great X 1000 grandkids?

  7. Scott Hatfield says

    Hmm. I’m picking up good vibrations, albeit of an esoteric sort. The still accompanying this article is from ‘This Island Earth’, which featured the brassy dissonances of Herman Stein (‘Creature from the Black Lagoon’), along with at least one cue from Henry Mancini. One cue uses a Novachord, a pre-solid state electronic organ from the Hammond company that featured a touch-sensitive keyboard, but to the best of my knowledge, no theremin.

    To hear the theremin, the best scifi score is still ‘The Day The Earth Stood Still’ (Bernard Herrmann). The Ondes Martenot is, as one commenter noted, more versatile (especially in terms of timbre), but (despite their acceptance in the orchestral literature) are becoming increasingly rare. Future performers of Messiaen’s works are going to either have to build new instruments from scratch, or else emulate them with some other device. The simplicity and novelty of the theremin, on the other hand, seems to work in favor of its preservation.

  8. Woodwose says

    The critter shown with this article is introduced as a “mute ant” in the movie. The directors were obviously pandering to the belief that when you lose one ability, the others increase in compensation. In this case loss of speech=increase in size.

  9. Big Nasty says

    Since you brought up the theremin:

    If you like 1960’s-era jazz/lounge music, you should check them out – the theremin isn’t used just as a sound-effect. Bob Moog (they use a Moog theremin) actually bought a full case of their first record to hand out to friends.

    Full Disclosure: I’m connected to the band, but not a member. Maybe that’s not really full disclosure, I guess, but it’s as close as I want to get on the Intertubes.

  10. Tukla in Iowa says

    Crow: “Self-cleaning mu-tant leaves nothing but the fresh scent of pine.”

  11. says

    I so wish we could have had a theremin – I’d love to have a chance to play on one. Sadly, I possess no such item. I own a lot of kazoos, but it didn’t occur to us to include them in the show I’m afraid. Hopefully harmonica and accordion were sufficient?

    Thanks a ton for coming to the show!