Snapshots 35 mm

Here are nine developments of interest to fans:

(1) This is the kind of silliness I admire. The television series Lost has come to its final season and the show has lingered so long and grown into such a complicated tale that the creators have decided to launch Lost University, which the LA Times describes as

a multimedia experience that delves into the fields of study touched on in the show’s five years. Real university professors will teach short video courses on a variety of “Lost”-related subjects — and it’s not exactly a light curriculum either, with philosophy, physics and hieroglyphics, among others….

The project was announced in July at the San Diego Comic-Con International with a website and course catalog. But the first semester of classes weren’t set to begin until today — timed to the release of “Lost’s” fifth season on Blu-ray. Though anyone can sign up online and participate in forums at, fans must have the show’s Blu-ray discs to access the courses.

(2) Fans have long memories. Among the things we remember are horrible experiences with convention hotels. Ever sung “Bouncing Potatoes” or “What Can You Do With A Hotel Manager”? So it’s a little hard to get broken up about the news that hotel owners are struggling along with homeowners in the current economy: 

The rise in delinquencies is sharp. Five times more hotel loans are behind on payments this year than in 2008, according to mortgage data firm Trepp LLC, which tracks those traded by investors. In October, 8.7 percent were distressed, compared with 1.5 percent last year….

What happens when a hotel loan goes bad? Banks are much less willing to seize them than houses because running a hotel requires know-how. But some hotel owners are just handing back the keys where property values have plummeted.

David Klaus wonders if sf convention hotels get the message. “What I heard about how the Collinsville, Illinois hotels treated Archon this year (after so many years of repeat business and so many possible years of future repeating business) makes their attitude [sound] positively suicidal.”

(3) Mark Evanier explores the relationship between the late Shel Dorf and the later San Diego Comic Con/Comic Con International committees

Some of Shel’s problems with the con flowed from the fact that Comic-Con International is a non-profit organization, a fact I probably should have mentioned in my writings about him. That means the con is governed by strict rules about how it handles its money and how it must account for every nickel. I think a lot of people presume that its operators all take home huge salaries and bonuses but that is not the case. Many are volunteers and the ones who are paid do not receive high wages. Yeah, the con takes in millions. It also costs millions to put on each year.

(4) Here’s The Onion’s listing for a program on the Alternate History channel:

“Imagine, if you will, a world in which Hitler’s glorious master plan had instead ended in ignominious failure, and the Allies had somehow emerged the victors,” the show’s creator, Leonhardt Riefenstahl, said during an appearance on Entertainment Heute Nacht. “It would be as if everything we know to be true-the fall of Russia, the invasion and surrender of the American continents, Heinrich Braun-Hitler’s consolidation of the various conquered states in 1973-had never even happened.”

(5) This item ought to be alternate history, except we’re still in jeopardy of actually living it. You see, once upon a time plans for the Los Angeles freeway network included a link between Long Beach and Pasadena. Due to tremendous political resistance by South Pasadenans to a development that would effectively destroy their city the I-710 has never been completed. Lately, however, Caltrans has been studying five potential underground routes for running 200-foot-deep tunnels to connect the end of the I-710 to the I-210. All but one cross known earthquake faults. I like David Klaus’ simple question: “Fumes from Bandini Mountain getting to them?”

(6)  Cartoonists often ask “What if…?” Twilight’s Edward confronted another fictional superhero. And none of them ever really intend for Edward to come out on top, do they. The Joy of Tech seems to think Edward is doomed no matter how young the opponent might be.

(7) The Emerald Garrison in Ireland will put on Invasion Dublin April 3-4, 2010. Going by the webpage, it’s a Star Wars themed event.

(8) Murray Moore sent me a link to Mark Zug’s post about the fortieth anniversary of the Moon landing.

Suppose we do turn away from space exploration, under the twin weights of its inescapable difficulty, and the fruiting of “we’ve got enough problems here on Earth” arguments.

That led to the discovery another trenchant post about the artist’s experience working with Harlan Ellison:

Receiving me in his home, a spiced-coffee-suffused oasis of intrigue he calls Ellison Wonderland, he kept dropping conversational references to this or that nugget in his staggering oeuvre of work, then exchanging concerned, disbelieving glances with wife Susan as it became apparent that this rube in the dungarees and lug-soles had never read a word he’d written.

(9) The Guardian’s Rob Holdstock obituary is here.

[Thanks to David Klaus, Andrew Porter, Murray Moore, and James Bacon for the links.]

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