Snapshots 87 or Four Score and Seven

Here are 6 developments of interest to fans.

(1) After 28 years, Harvard Square has lost its weekly Rocky Horror Picture Show revival — and orphaned the costumed cast that participated alongside the movie:

For a cast and crew of students, software developers, lawyers, plumbers, and even an astrophysicist, the show is a weekly escape from the pressures of daily life.

“Nobody cares how many children you save, or how many buildings you painted, or how many heart surgeries you did. You throw that all out the window,” said Laurie, a police officer. “When you’re on stage and you’re in fishnets, the only thing [that matters] is hit your marks, get on time.”

Bill Rotsler joked about a jaded Rocky Horror audience that cheered every new splice in the print. And because a few frames of film got cut each time a break was repaired, he predicted that eventually the Rocky Horror experience would be reduced to a 15-minute movie followed by a riot.

(They probably use a digital copy these days. Imagine what they’re missing!)

(2) Here’s an impressive example of steampunk design, except it really existed – the 1906 Victor Auxetophone [YouTube]. How did people boost the volume on a hand-cranked gramophone? Someone realized sound could be amplified by forcing more air through the works using a compressor. True, running alone the compressor makes a noise identical to a vacuum cleaner, but the music output is so loud who notices? The Auxetophone sold for $500 in 1906, the equivalent of $12,000 in today’s money, and the reason there weren’t many of these around.

(3) Lots of short video interviews with Stan Lee at Web of Stories like this one about how he thought up Spider-Man:

I think I was watching a fly walking on a wall, and I said: ‘Gee, wouldn’t it be cool if I had a hero who could stick to walls like an insect?’. But I think I’m lying. I probably didn’t say wouldn’t it be cool, ’cause I don’t think the word cool was in usage. I probably said: ‘Wouldn’t it be groovy’. I want to be nothing but totally accurate here. At any rate I thought, I’ll get a guy who’s like an insect. So I figured okay, what kind? What’ll I call him? Insect Man? That didn’t sound dramatic. Mosquito Man? No. I went down the list. When I got to Spider-Man — Spider-Man —  oh, that sounded dramatic. So I figured I’d call him that, and then we had him shoot webs.

Stan’s on safe ground either way. “Cool” as a complimentary slang term has been around for a long time, like “Cool under fire.” In the 1950s “cool” used by jazz musicians, beatniks, and admirers of James Dean, its precise connotation varying accordingly. The term has never fallen out of use, although it’s no longer quite as loaded with cultural significance. Today I’d translate “That’s cool” to mean about the same as “that’s very okay.”

(4) You’d think Phil Dick would have predicted an insidious technology like the talking urinal cake:

Michigan hopes to keep drunks off the road with the help from a special message in men’s bathrooms featuring an attention-getting woman’s voice.

Talking urinal-deodorizer cakes have been distributed to Michigan Licensed Beverage Association members in Wayne County, including Detroit, state officials announced. A recorded message will play reminding men who step up to the urinals to call a cab or a friend, if needed, to get home safely.

Or looking on the bright side, here’s an as-yet unexploited convention bidding hack, a urinal cake that says — “Remember: when you’re voting for the 2014 Worldcon, piss on [name of city].”

(5) Rolling Stone had great fun snarking about the differences between the books Games of Thrones, Clash of Kings and the HBO series based on them, but ultimately decided to let everybody off easy:

THE VERDICT: Look, unless you just plop the book in front of the camera and slowly turn pages for ten hours, any adaptation from a novel to a TV show is going to make changes both big and small.

Really, that’s far too sensible for the internet.

(6) I also admire Mother Jones’ Game of Thrones attack ads:

In HBO’s hit show Game of Thrones, there are dragons, sword fights, and zombie armies. But the heart of the show is intense political intrigue. Alliances are forged and broken; backroom deals are cut; principles are sacrificed. It’s a dirty game. Yet imagine how much more unsavory it would be if super-PACs and dark-money outfits existed in the Seven Kingdoms.

Despite the narratives being a little bit too topical — “Joffrey Baratheon: Where Is the Birth Certificate?” – the visuals are funny enough to make them worth a minute of your time.

[Thanks for these links goes out to David Klaus, Andrew Porter, and James Hay.]

7 thoughts on “Snapshots 87 or Four Score and Seven

  1. I have had for a long time a vision of people in the far, far future dressed in costume going through the motions and rituals in the rite of the weekly Rocky Horror ceremony, not understanding or misunderstanding the meanings of the words they’re hearing or making the required joke responses to/at the screen in a ritualistic fashion like the Catholic congregation* answering the priest in Mass, while no longer understanding them either (already the younger fans have no idea that Frank N. Furter was imitating both Judy Garland and Liza Minnelli during part of the Floor Show).

    *(And before anyone jumps salty at the Catholic comparison, that’s the religion in which I grew up. No bigotry implied or should be inferred.)

  2. Reading too many interviews with Stan Lee, I’d have to say that if he was half as smart as he thinks he is, he could write for Marvel Comics…

  3. I recall a Rocky Horror participant who began watching other things in her repeated viewing of the film, settling to fixate on pigeons sitting on a ledge. She began to wonder if they were nailed down, as they did not seem to move. She urged others to consider and wonder.

Comments are closed.