Snapshots 107 Suspicious Person

Here are 12 developments of interest to fans.

(1) Priceline’s next round of commercials features Big Bang Theory’s Kaley Cuoco  playing William Shatner’s daughter. The link takes you to a “behind-the-scenes” video with a funny reference to the TV series.

(2) But Captain Kirk isn’t merely a historic reference, he’s still fighting aliens

Shatner got into it with his old adversary again to promote Star Trek: The Video Game, which pits Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock against a new and radically redesigned race of Gorns (meaning, they can actually open and close their mouths). So it was the ideal occasion to re-create one of the most memorable moments from the original “Star Trek.”

With a stuntman in a replica Gorn costume — most of the original was destroyed, and the head sold at auction for $27,500 in 2006 — Shatner once again throws down some of Kirk’s signature moves: double fists to the back, judo chop to the neck, and the paralyzing ear clap. Though this time the octogenarian doesn’t do Kirk’s iconic flying drop kick.

(3) Amazon’s Jeff Bezos decided to spend some of his zillions locating and retrieving the Saturn rocket engines used to launch the Apollo moon mission — the first stage that fell into the ocean.

The Bezos expedition returned enough major components to rebuild two Saturn V F-1 engines — out of the 65 that were launched between 1967 and 1973 — for display. Despite claims last year that the engines were specifically from Apollo 11, Bezos now says the history of the engine parts he recovered may not be known.

Inspecting the raised pieces, Bezos reported that many of the parts’ original serial numbers are missing or partially missing, which may make mission identification difficult.

“We might see more during restoration,” Bezos wrote.

(4) The Literature Map is a fun toy, displaying around the writer you enter a compass of other writers’ names based on various shared traits. John King Tarpinian has preloaded Ray Bradbury for this demo (who else?) —

(5) The Supreme Court recently handed down a decision against the entertainment industry, ruling in favor of Supap Kirtsaeng, an immigrant from Thailand who challenged the $600,000 he was ordered to pay for willfully infringing a textbook publisher’s copyrights when he sold books first purchased overseas in the U.S. through eBay.

The important ruling deals with the first-sale doctrine under U.S. copyright law, which allows for the reselling of acquired copyrighted works without the authority of the original copyright owner. Advocates for Kirtsaeng argued that limiting the first-sale doctrine would cause manufacturing to fly overseas and imperil the reselling of many goods including films and music.

(6) The FBI’s Hottel Memo containing second-hand reports of UFO sightings in New Mexico around 1950 is the most popular file in its reading room. The agency never found it as interesting as the true believers:

The FBI denied that the memo constituted evidence for the existence of extraterrestrial spacecraft — and said Hottel’s report was never taken all that seriously. Instead, it was considered “an unconfirmed report that the FBI never even followed up on.”

Yes, the truth is out there. And it is: The FBI didn’t think this was any big deal.

(7) Stephen and Tabitha King  have offered to foot one-third of the $9M cost of renovating the Bangor, Maine library if the city can find people to pay the other $6 million.

(8) The spirit of Mystery Science Theater 3000 lives on.

Few can riff as well — or as lucratively — as the alumni of “Mystery Science Theater 3000,” the 1990s cult TV show about a human and his robot buddies skewering B-movies while stuck in space.

And former host Michael J. Nelson, aka Mike Nelson, should be applauded for taking clever commentary to a place where it had never successfully gone before: crowd-funding site Kickstarter. A campaign seeking financial help from strangers ended Wednesday, raising nearly $264,860, about five times its goal.

But it may be Nelson’s move to give power to the people that really encouraged riffing to thrive. Nelson moved to San Diego and created RiffTrax in 2006 as an outlet to offer fans his quirky commentary on movies. A few years later, he opened the system to anyone, with iRiffs, which enables people to create and sell their own movie commentaries.

The piece includes 7 tips on making your own Riff, not the least of which is, “Don’t talk over the dialogue.”

(9) Lots of amusing Star Wars bits at Wired.

(10) Uh,Scope Bacon Mouthwash? I assume Scalzi already knows all about this.

(11) You’d think Captain Cook was paid by the island, otherwise it’s hard to fathom why he mapped Sandy Island — an island that isn’t there. And it’s not the only one.

The question is, How many more phantom islands are sitting on maps, waiting to be Un-Discovered? Right now, all over the world, mapmakers are removing Sandy Island from their maps. It’s no longer on Google. It will not appear in the next National Geographic map.

Frank Jacobs has written about Bermeja, a Mexican island that has been on maps of the Yucatan since the 16th century. It’s disappeared. (Did it sink?) There’s New Moore Island, off India in the Bay of Bengal. It rose out of the water in 1970; By 2010, it was covered again. Sannikov Land, in the arctic sea off Siberia, first sighted by an explorer in 1811, then “seen” again in 1886 and 1893, was finally visited by the Soviet ice-breaker Sadko. They found…nothing.

Some of these islands were once actually there, some not. We may be at the dawn of a new cartographical era, where mapmakers rush about un-discovering what we once discovered.

 (12) On the theory that if it hasn’t happened on the internet it hasn’t happened yet,The Atlantic has revived speculation that Paul Linebager (“Cordwainer Smith”) was Kirk Allen, the patient in “The Jet-Propelled Couch,” a case study from Dr. Robert Lidner’s bookThe Fifty Minute Hour. The book was published in 1955, Brian Aldiss suggested the connection in 1973. Both Alan Elms and Lee Weinstein(New York Review of Science Fiction, April 2001) have searched for a definitive answer.

[Thanks for the links goes out to John King Tarpinian, Gary Farber, Taral, David Klaus, Michael Walsh and Stu Hellinger.]

6 thoughts on “Snapshots 107 Suspicious Person

  1. The literature map is fun to play with, but it’s loaded with misspellings and inconsistencies: Distantly related to Patrick O’Brian is someone named Patrick Obrian. China Mielville is similar to China Meiville and China Mieville. There’s an “Arthur Conan-Doyle”, who is connected to “Konan Doyle”, but not to “Conan Doyle”, and there’s no entry for “Arthur Conan Doyle”. Rick Riordan is close, but not very close, to Rick Riordian and Rick Riordan. Etc.
    And in the “idiosyncratic” category, we see that the closest entries to William Shakespeare include Agatha Christie, Mark Twain, and Harper Lee, and out on the edge of the Shakespeare map we find James Joyce, Howard Phillips Lovecraft, Joanne K. Rowling, and Dan Brown.
    The most sparsely-populated map I’ve found so far is that for N. K. Jemisin, which contains only 11 other authors, only 4 of which I’d previously heard of, and only two of which I’ve read.

  2. I wonder if China Mielville, author of Mobee Dick, is linked to Kilgore Trout, author of Mobile Dick, about a ten-story tall Penisaurus which arose out of the Gulf and marched firmly around southwestern Alabama, spouting terror?

  3. As for the video game…

    “And now, Gentlebeings from all over the Multiverse, the Re-Match of the Millennium!

    “In this hyperspace juncture, the Smiling Scourge known by women all over the quadrant, Owner of the Biggest Cannon in the Galaxy, Captain James! Tiberius! Kirk!

    “And in this intersection of dimensional barriers over here, the Whomper from the Swamper, the Holder of the Boulders, the Tonic with the Onyx, the Gorn! From! Cestus! Three!”

    Vince McMahon’d love it, although in my head it sounds like Paul Bettany as Chaucer in the movie A Knight’s Tale.

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