Thursday, 8 September 2022

sternstaub (10. 116)

Having sold over two billion novellas (Heftroman) worldwide since the publication of its first edition (under the title Unternehmen Stardust) on this day in 1961 and issued weekly with new chapters ever since, the Perry Rhodan franchise is patently the most successful one in the arena of science fiction, originally conceived by authors K H Scheer and Walter Ernsting, expanded into radio dramas, video games and comic books—plus a failed cinematic adaptation considered so poorly done that fandom disavows it. Set a decade in the future (1971) during the first lunar mission, US Space Force Major Rhodan and his crew discover an abandoned extraterrestrial vessel and appropriating alien technology, artificial intelligence (positronic brains) and hyper drives, swiftly are able to unite the people of Earth and make humans a galactic presence. With increasingly complex arcs of narrative undertaken by a team of writers, action takes place in a multiverse of exotic aliens, cosmocrats and god-like beings. By coincidence, another beloved science-fiction franchise had its US premiere on the same day in 1966.

Monday, 29 August 2022

8x8 (10. 095)

clippit: a biography of the MicroSoft Office virtual assistant  

banana for scale: megalophobia-inducing images to make you as a human feel small and insignificant  

scotty, bones and chekov: Tom Snyder (previously) interviews Star Trek personalities during a 1976 convention 

flagship store: fashion brand Gucci opens up in Detroit—via Nag on the Lake  

pillow-talk: the history of bundling, the sixteenth and seventeenth custom of allowing pre-martial sleeping arrangements—via Messy Nessy Chic 

sabbatical: oh no—after seventeen years Futility Closet is taking a hiatus—see also  

it’s a reference to don quixote: a selection of literary nods from They Might Be Giants—see previously  

book it: incentivising reading with pizza

drizzle, drazzle, druzzle drome—time for this one to come home (10. 094)

Alternately titled St George and the Dragon and The Seven Curses of Lodac, the 1962 adventure fantasy by Bert I Gordon (King Dinosaur, The Amazing Colossal Man, Village of the Giants, etc.) loosely based on the legend of St George and his conquests was subjected to the Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment, airing for the first time on this day in 1992. Our hero in this version, George (Gary Lockwood, later Lieutenant Commander and navigator Gary Mitchell on the Enterprise and astronaut Frank Poole in 2001: A Space Odyssey)—of royal parentage but fostered by a sometimes ineffectual sorceress played by veteran actor of stage and screen Estelle Winwood—embarks on a quest to rescue the princess Helene and prevent her from being fed to the dragon of the evil wizard Lodac, played by the equally esteemed Basil Rathbone.

Friday, 17 June 2022

now do tuvix

The animation studio Gazelle Automations is really doing yeoman’s work by recasting later iterations of the franchise in the style of the 1970s Filmation Star Trek: The Animated Series (previously) and its latest offering, an adaptation of the infamously bad Voyager Season Two episode, “Threshhold,” wherein Chief Helmsman Tom Paris is a space shuttle test pilot fuelled with a more potent form of dilithium crystals and postulated to be able to break the Warp Ten barrier. Returning from his first flight altered body and soul for having experienced everything all at once, Paris becomes agitated and abducts Captain Janeway and takes off in the shuttlecraft again, rocketing through space at speeds to drive them to evolve into salamanders and have offspring. The Voyager crew find the swamp planet where they fled and manage to restore Paris and Janeway, devolving their genetic structure and abandon their lizard babies on that world.

Saturday, 28 May 2022

8x8

scotch tapes: commercials, idents and continuity from British television from 1984 salavaged from VHS casettes  

boldly go!: a medley of songs from and about the Star Trek franchise—see also  

apiculture: a survey of bee hives throughout the ages  

latex: Goodyear and the US Department of Defence are partnering to manufacture tyres from dandelions—see previously  

kleksographien: revisiting the blotograms (previously) of Justinus Kerner plus other inspired symmetries  

red wine and ginger ale: Vulture correspondent Rebecca Alter samples all the food combinations referenced in Harry’s House  

diagrammatic map: another look at how Massimo Vignelli presented mass transit to the masses—see previously here and here—via Things magazine  

the fantastic journey: an obscure 1977 time-travel series starring Joan Collins and John Saxon

Monday, 11 April 2022

uzay yolu

Somewhat familiar with the adaptation known as Turkish Star Wars, we enjoyed the introduction to its counterpart in the Star Trek universe, which though unauthorised and non-canonical was a forerunner to any feature length treatment of the franchise by a good six years before any sanctioned production could debut. With the plot lifted from episodes of “I, Mudd,” “The Man Trap,” “Arena,” “Amok Time” and “What Are Little Girls Made Of?,” the hapless tourist ร–mer is beamed up and inserted into the action mise-en-scรจne when Doctor McCoy is visiting an old girlfriend—Nancy—who in actuality is a murderous shape-shifter yearning after salt. The away-mission segments were filmed at the ruins of Ephesus.

Friday, 18 March 2022

8x8

the fiume endeavour: Neutral Moresnet and other countries that fell off the map 

international male: thirty-three national costumes from the 2022 Mister Global pageant via Miss Cellania  

odette and odile: a diminutive chihuahua and human handler perform Swan Lake  

smpte colour bars: a BBC test pattern jumper and mural—see also  

bad actor mode: an AI normally tasked with developing new, novel medications had its parameters switched seek out toxicity and suggests tens of thousands of chemical weapons and poisons in the space of a few hours—via Slashdot 

 cameo appearance: Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams portrayed the President of United Earth on the season finale of Star Trek and brought the planet back into the Federation 

state-of-the-art: ten breakthrough technologies online now that could change our trajectory for the better—via Kottke  

geopolitics: charting the advance of democracy

Wednesday, 9 March 2022

8x8

catwalk: the home of architect of Vittorio Garatti in Milan—via Messy Nessy Chic  

inktrap: a Japanese typeface design book from 1957—via Present /&/ Correct  

operation danube: the Soviet invasion of Prague (see previously) in pictures—via Everlasting Blรถrt  

east-enders: a retrospective look at women protesting for peace in the 1980s in London  

river antban country club: blindly, an AI tries naming golfing ranges (see previously

carrousel: Logan’s Run plus spin-offs—see previously

bones mccoy: a compilation of Deforest Kelley pronouncing  

not chav: a fresh perspective on London’s council houses

Wednesday, 15 September 2021

yesteryear

First broadcast on this day in 1973 in most markets as Season 1, Episode 2 of Star Trek: The Animated Series—with the exception being Los Angles where George Takei was running for public office and this programme which did not feature his voice-acting was substituted so as not to run afoul of equal-air-time clauses—this classic was authored by D. C. Fontana and for its elegant handling of fractured time-lines is considered among the best episodes of the series. Captain Kirk and First Officer Spock return to the Enterprise after conducting a series of time travel excursions with only to find that they have somehow altered the past where Spock never joins the crew and must repair the time-line.

Wednesday, 8 September 2021

season 1, episode 1

Though first broadcast in Canada two days before and being the sixth filmed instalment in the line-up, “The Man Trap” airing on this day for US audiences on this day in 1966 is considered the franchise’s premiere, picked among the other more establishing plots due to its theme and inclusion of alien monsters.
Informing The Next Generation’s Season 3, Episode 3 (“The Survivors”) with the homesteading Kevin and Rishon Uxbridge who want nothing to do with the Enterprise’s offers of assistance or rescue, the inhabitants of M-113 operating an archaeological research operation shun visitors. The last members of a dead civilisation hungered for salt which they extracted from several red shirt ensigns with deadly consequence and roamed the corridors of the ship for more. Several mid-twenty-third-century salt-shakers were designed and intended as props but fearing that twentieth century viewers would be confused, the vials and containers instead became regular items in Doctor McCoy’s sick bay, his decade-old history with one of the interlopers forwarding the plot.

Thursday, 6 May 2021

the veldt

Bringing holographic interface closer to the immersive level of experience to be had aboard the holodeck, we learn via Slashdot—aptly illustrated with a tiny dogfight, the exchange of phaser fire and photon torpedos, between a Federation starship and a Bird of Prey—researchers at Brigham Young University, building on past successes, have created free-floating images with lasers that do not need a display. Instead taking advantage of the electrostatic effect and Brownian motion, miniscule particles are illuminated creating the illusion of permanence and untethered projection, the objects drawn in space with the viewer able to perceive them as if they were tangible objects.

Thursday, 15 April 2021

monster maroon

In light of a recent revue of Starfleet and other in-universe uniforms and fashions (previouslysee also), we have the opportunity to eulogise a prolific producer of stage and screen and costume and set designer in the recently departed Robert Fletcher (*1922 - †2021) who created ensembles for major ballet troupes and opera companies in addition to television and film—including four of the original cast Star Trek movies that gave command and senior staff those signature dress uniforms, referred to by the title (c. 2280). Having won several Tony and Saturn awards, Fletcher’s design archives were donated to Harvard University and are conserved there.

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

i like the cut of your jib, sailor

Via the always outstanding Miss Cellania, we are directed to a revue of four centuries—allowance for temporal anomalies—of Starfleet uniforms and Star Trek fashions that have been integral to the franchise and all its iterations since inception, eliciting strong opinions and favourites among the seasons’ wardrobe and livery. The pictured crew member wearing a skant is pretty forward looking for the 2350 of 1987.

Monday, 5 April 2021

first contact

According to the fictional timeline of the Star Trek continuity, on this day in 2063 (the same day as, according to some calculations, Noah’s Ark came to rest on Mount Ararat in 348 BC), Zefram Cochrane conducted his first successful test flight jumping to warp speed. This energy signature caught the attention of a passing Vulcan survey ship, whom generously helped humanity to integrate into a suddenly much larger and varied Cosmos. The character himself is first encountered by the crew of the Enterprise (Metamorphosis, S2, E9) while ferrying a peace-negotiator, Federation Commissioner Nancy Hedford, to medical facilities for emergency intervention on board a shuttle craft. Their ship is drawn to an asteroid with an M-Class artificial atmosphere that also dampens their sensors and communication systems and discover that a human calling himself by the name of the revered inventor “of Alpha Centauri,” who disappeared a century and a half earlier under mysterious conditions but presumed dead and to have gone out in a last blaze of glory on a rocket mission at an advanced age, and an entity of pure energy that Cochrane refers to as the Companion, who intercepted Cochrane and restored his youth. In front of company and apparently not having brought it up previously in the past decades of living together, the Companion makes his overtures to the human known, expressing an unrequited love that Cochrane rebuffs rather forcefully. The Companion merges with the dying Commissioner Hedford, restoring her health, and presenting to Cochrane in a more lovable albeit mortal form. The shuttle is allowed to leave with assurances from Kirk and crew that they will keep the asteroid’s secret.

Thursday, 18 March 2021

have you dug his scene?

Via Things Magazine (lots more to explore in this edition as well), we learn the recently departed actor Yaphet Kotto (*1939 - †2021), known for his roles in Alien, The Running Man, Doctor Kananga in the Bond movie Live and Let Die, starring in the long-running television police procedural Homicide: Life on the Streets and for turning down the offer of the part of Jean Luc Picard in TNG, also can sing and recorded a few singles.

Wednesday, 17 March 2021

hypospray or mister x

Via Waxy, here’s a nice survey of jabs and vaccination campaigns as portrayed in film and television, including classics like the Star Trek TOS episode Miri, biopics of Louis Pasteur and Edward Jenner, and a multiplicity of Simpsons episodes like the December of 2000 show “The Computer Wore Menace Shoes” wherein Homer’s alter ego creates a conspiracy website (after his first, innocent attempt failed to draw interest) that unfortunately speaks across the decades. As punishment for being too clever, Homer is imprisoned on an island for people who know too much. Seriously, get your shot and protect yourself and others.

Tuesday, 2 March 2021

1972-012a

While perhaps not as celebrated as its more charismatic follow-on missions of Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, Pioneer 10, launched on this day in 1972, was the first space probe travel beyond the asteroid belt and went on to study Jupiter and became the first object to achieve escape velocity to leave the Solar System and wander the interstellar medium. As foundational as the mission was, the Pioneer programme is overshadowed by its successors partly as it went silent in 2003. Designed by Carl Sagan, Linda Salzman Sagan and Frank Drake, Pioneer and its sister probe bear the pictured plaque, should it ever be discovered by intelligent extra-terrestrials. If left undisturbed (canonical Star Trek has Klingons destroying it as target practise), Pioneer is on a trajectory to pass the star system Aldebaran in Taurus in about two million years, which is believed to host a super-Jupiter exoplanet.

Tuesday, 9 February 2021

6x6

bohemian to brocore: a non-exhaustive list of aesthetics—via Things Magazine 

billions and billions: a picture of the night sky that contains a petabyte of data 

fairy wren for scale: an ornithological chart comparing the diversity of body-size among our feathered friends

https://jeffreycombs.tumblr.com/post/622945915961065473/1-second-of-every-star-trek-tos-episode-enjoy
the hook shot: a fun and welcome example of chindลgu, the Japanese art of unuselessness 

satana lero wapezeka ndiwe edzi: the musical stylings of Gaspar Nali 

the city on the edge of forever: pictured also courtesy of Things Magazine, one second from every episode of Star Trek TOS by the franchise’s frequent guest star

Monday, 1 February 2021

memory alpha or first recorded use

Our thanks to the always outstanding Everlasting Blรถrt for referring us to the Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction that gives the etymology of words and phrases in the genre and expounds on their earliest citations (see also for general use). Unobtanium, for instance, predates Avatar by a half a century, first in print as a bit of industry jargon that researchers working on the noses of intercontinental ballistic missiles sought after in 1956. Warping space-time as a means of travel dates back to 1936 J. Williamson’s short story Cometeers. Before Chewbacca, in Lucas’ dystopian directorial debut THX 1138 there was the line: “I think I ran over a wookiee back there on the expressway.”

Saturday, 30 January 2021

pigs is pigs

The Friz Freleng short first released on this day in 1937 relays the seemingly insatiable gluttony of one Piggy Hamhock (Porky’s brother, though last seen in this cartoon) and the hardship it has caused the family.

Falling into a food coma after receiving chiding and warnings from his mother that he needs to reform his eating habits, Piggy has a fugue-like dream that he is lured into the laboratory of a mad scientist, who subjects Piggy to a force-feeding by a tireless machine. Piggy waddles away but on the way out the door, takes a drumstick, which proves too much. Awakened from the dream, Piggy is relieved that he is back home and unharmed but devours breakfast without restraint—apparently none the wiser for his experience. Though Freleng’s cartoon shares the same name it does not tell the same story about a rapidly reproducing pair of guinea pigs whose numbers soon grow out of control from a 1905 Ellis Parker Butler work—which went on to inspire a Disney animation in 1954 and the 1967 “The Trouble with Tribbles.”