On winning the Golden Mouth Organ

By Phil Plait | March 1, 2012 10:05 am

So I was on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson last night, and since the segment is not yet up on YouTube, I thought I’d give a little paean to the show.

It’s a great day for America, everybody.

Thanks to everyone who tweeted and emailed me about it, too. You are the wind beneath my blow reed plate.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: About this blog, Cool stuff, Geekery, Humor

Comments (33)

  1. If that looks like a mouth organ to you, you need to spend more time on the internet.

    (well done, sir. I was proud)

  2. Jeff


    reminds me of those old time beer halls in Munich or Switzerland where the menfolk blow horns for the nights entertainment. I still like that old time world the best.

    But last night, let me tell you , last night, the class was out for a sky viewing, and carol King’s old “and at night the sky puts on a show for free”, came alive. The concepts of zodiac belt were easy to show with a sweep of the hand with showing a line through Mars, Jupiter, and Venus. The great gems of the winter sky were outstanding, with a simple binocs passed around they could see Orion’s nebula and the Pleaides. In florida we could see the fla-hawaii-texas only Canopus (alpha carina). And just small hundred buck scopes the manufactuers have been creating were set up to show the closeups of jupiter’s moons, phase of venus, and the color of Mars. And to top the evening, we looked up an article on John Dobson, who is 96 years old, and I told them, I think he IS 96 years old because most of his life he’s been out there with the Van astronomers going up and down the west coast showing the sky show to “warm soft eyes”. We don’t need much, no electronics even, just a few simple spectacles and lots of young soft eyes. Yeah, nature; but yeah humans for connecting with it in a personal way.

  3. Gary Ansorge

    Ah, music by any other name, sounds as good.

    I’ll bet Neanderthal wouldn’t appreciate it near half so much as do I.

    Gary 7

    We really, REALLY have to jam sometime,,,

  4. A Hohner Chromatic! Well done! (And I believe I heard some tongue-blocked chords this time!)

  5. mike burkhart

    Phil your in the worng business you should be on stage. Off topic : You mentioned the Tv show “StarLost” it been years since I ‘ve seen it (when A local station put it on in 1995 at 11:00 p.m.) If I rember the plot ,it was that Earth had beem destroyed and a ship left Earth takeing the rest of humanity .Now the people not runing the ship lived in “biosphires” witch where part of the ship .and after a wille they forgot they where on a ship untill a Guy played by Kirea Dulla ( of 2001 fame) left his biosphire with his girlfriend and a ravil for her affection . They dicover that the ship had a accident ,most of the crew were killed when the bridge was destroyed, and the ship is on a collision course with a “class g star” . So they are exploring the ship trying to find the back up bridge and any instructions on how to get the ship back on course . Walter Koneg ( of Star Trek fame ) gest stared in two episoides as an alien who found and borded the ship.

  6. I’m sure that Phil isn’t the right person to bring this up with, but I don’t know who else to contact. There’s no longer a “Previous Entries” link at the bottom of the page. It doesn’t seem to be there for any of the other Discover blogs either.

    So . . . just in case no one’s noticed.

  7. Mike

    Ode to Toy?

    Nice mug, though. And the coffee cup was cool, too.

  8. Digitalastro

    Very good appearance Phil! You and Craig had a very good rapport. I hope they call you back many more times.

  9. PPN

    “it is a great day for America”
    ……and you played the EU Anthem….

  10. Daniel J. Andrews

    @Jacob (6); That’s new, I think. I was using the previous entries button just recently trying to catch up on some posts I’d missed(?). Maybe it was another site??

    mike (5); I remember that show. Hadn’t thought about it since it was last mentioned so it is like discovering something new all over (I suppose that is how goldfish feel every time they swim around the bowl and see the little plastic diver or castle again).

    Just did some Google–now I understand the golden mouth organ reference.

  11. John Paradox

    @mike and @Daniel.
    The Starlost (originally created by Harlan Ellison, who disowned it once it was in production) is.. or at least WAS, available on YouTube. I saw several episodes done as 10 min segments, and was interested because I’d not seen it originally.
    IIRC, the original story was Phoenix Without Ashes(?), and was released in a book “Six Science Fiction Plays” (or was that The City On The Edge of Forever… darn having to work… it’s at home), and I think it was also released more recently as a book.


  12. Well done with the guest appearance and with the musical performance. I’m guessing you won’t have to wait for another Leap Day before you appear again.

    A couple of us from the Chandra X-ray Center independently DVR’d the show, and we were both excited and surprised to see the Abell 2052 image and the good discussion that followed. I’ll be sure to contact the two authors that we worked with for that release, once I see that the clip is available, in case they haven’t heard about it.


  13. Cindy


    I DVR’ed it and have promised myself that I can’t watch it until I get my grades in Monday morning.

    Better on the harmonica than me. Beethoven’s Ninth is good grading music – almost as good as Mozart’s Requiem Mass.

  14. antiavenger

    That is some VERY nice schwag ya got there. The mug looks cool, the shirt is OK, and that harmonica is at least a $150 dollar instrument – I don’t know much about harmonicas but I’d reckon that it’s of good quality. Plus, ya did make for a pretty good interview. And, here’s to many more.

  15. Peter Eldergill

    Why why why why why is this stuff blocked in Ontario? It’s not like we’re stealing anything. It’s absurd.

    Can someone let me know when it’s on youtube


  16. Ganzy

    Phil Plait, you Dark Horse…Nebula…you! and there I was, after visiting your blog for the last 7 years, thinking you only ever played around with instruments of the optical kind! Well played Sir!! Even with some proxy horsepower, along with others above, I cant watch your Craig Fergurson contribution, yet.

    I watched your WootStock standup twice now, and P****d myself laughing on both occasions. I found it refreshing. You came across as a complete natural doing the standup, presenting your astronomical ‘vulgarities’ and all ūüėÄ

    I appreciate this is a family/community site and what have you, and that, you Phil, have to keep your sense of humour straight, and square, and all. But.. Dude.. aside from your astronomical abilities, you should expand your comedian-ship. I’ve never seen you more comfortable cracking astro jokes, than in front of that WootStock crowd. You were cracking them up! You were in your element man. keep it up.

  17. Bill

    Very, very impressive, Phil! Well done, indeed.

    …although I can never hear ‘Ode to Joy’ anymore without expecting John McClane to blow something up. Something big.

  18. Robert

    Finally just watched the episode of Craig you were on. It was hilarious. Good work! It looked like a ton of fun.

  19. larch

    watched it via Kylie Sturgis link, great ending for the gold, but massive kudos for the line: if you think that is a vagina, you need to spend more time on the internet.

  20. Number 6

    Finally played back the show on my VCR (ancient technology, I know)….

    Phil, you were great! You really kept up with Craig’s fast-paced humor…and you landed some zingers like the one about if he’s so interested in v*****s he should spend more time on the Internet. You really held your own on that show.

    I don’t think much of the Craig Ferguson show though…..The whole thing except for your appearance reminded me of your field of interest — outer space — because it was a vacuous TV experience. Craig, except for a few good jokes, was 95% over-the-top silly and unsubstantial. If you see him again, tell him he needs some good writers….no….better yet, tell him he needs….writers.

    And, oh, I think you surprised many including me that you had harmonica skills….Amazing!

  21. Rich

    You have to get Ferguson out to TAM10 this year.

    To #18, you haven’t seen enough to know that Craig has a genuine curiosity in many areas, including all things geek. He’s had Jamy Ian Swiss on a few times, along with all of the Mythbusters. He won a Peabody Award for his interview with Desmond Tutu. He’s hugely popular amongst fellow comics and has had many of them on the show. His monologues are delivered extemporaneously. Sure, he’s an acquired taste. Give him some time, he’ll grow on you.

  22. prianikoff

    Some might call that a “mouth organ”, I’d call it a chromatic Harp.
    I think you need to use the little button on it to play that tune right.
    Or learn to bend notes like Little Walter.

    “Blue Light”

  23. I like Craig Ferguson, I know he’s a comedian, and that his show is played mainly for laughs … but I wish he had treated you just a TAD more seriously rather than treating the whole segment as a “Moment of Geekery.” I would have enjoyed hearing you talk more about current astronomy issues or your book.

    Still, it was nice to see you on TV.

  24. Sir Craig

    Watching the show, I couldn’t help but feel that, just perhaps, you had practiced that particular tune just prior to your appearance. Not that there is anything wrong with that: I intend to do the same thing if I ever do anything noteworthy enough to get a booking.

    Still, your vagina line (“If you think THAT looks like a vagina, you need to spend more time on the internet”) I believe will become a standard catchphrase on Craig’s show. Kudos to you on making your mark in show business history (not to knock your series on the Discovery Channel by any means, but that line was perfect).

  25. Nemo

    originally created by Harlan Ellison, who disowned it once it was in production

    He disowns everything. Yet, for some reason, he keeps coming back to TV, even though it never satisfies him.

  26. Swagomatic

    I am a huge of Ferguson, so I record the show every night. What a surprise when you were a guest. Nice job, Phil. The Golden Harmonica is a rare achievement.

  27. Chris

    Admit it Phil, you practiced beforehand :-)

    Two complaints about the interview. They put you last and it was too short.

  28. Stargazer

    I guess I will have to wait for someone to upload the video to Youtube or something, since CBS thinks geoblocking content is better than not doing it. World Wide Web, indeed…!

  29. Gary Ansorge

    26. Chris

    “Admit it Phil, you practiced beforehand”

    What can one say about a PhD,,,(decades of) practice, practice, practice,,,,all for 15 seconds of fame,,,

    ,,,which is why I are a drummer,,,heartbeat is all the practice I need,,,

    Gary 7

    (What? You were talking about the mouth organ,,,never mind)

  30. Melusine

    Lol, you are funny, clever fellow, and a smart one too. But yeah, as someone here said, why the European Union Anthem “Ode To Joy” by Beethoven? No matter, the harp is fun.

  31. J B Goodcarver

    Excellent work, Phil. I play the Hohner Blues Harp, and it is a pure joy!


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