Snapshots 95

Here are 8 developments of interest to fans.

(1) The Big Bang Theory Flash Mob is a short, funny video ending with Sheldon’s prankish stamp of approval, ”Bazinga!”

(2) People are using Indiegogo to appeal for funds to start a D&D museum in Wisconsin:

For many years, we’ve been thinking about all of the collections that just get thrown out or given away to people who don’t know what they are. We personally saw a pile of D&D books destroyed by a local charitable organization. I’m sure the person who donated them didn’t want that, and the entire idea of books being destroyed makes us cringe.

Hearing about Dave Arneson’s collection being found in a storage shed has really pushed us to move forward on finding a permanent location for the museum. The founders of this game and the original gamers are aging, and more and more collections like this will be destroyed if something isn’t done soon.

These opening paragraphs read less like a pitch for a museum than for a latter-day counterpart to the repository of the Elephantine papyri, which existed because the sacred texts must never be destroyed.

(3) Want to own a real Tricorder today?  As close as you can get is this simulator program that runs on an Android phone using real sensors to detect magnetic fields, gravity, etc.

How to Use. Use the buttons on the left to select the mode:

 * GRA: monitor the local gravitational field and acceleration
 * MAG: monitor the local magnetic field
 * ENV: monitor environmental parameters including light level, object proximity and temperature
 * GEO: display geographical information

But beware the fine print:

· Accuracy is limited to what the sensors can provide.

(4) Jeff Foust’s review of Gary Westfahl’s new book The Spacesuit Film makes clear that Westfahl goes beyond the obvious matter encompassed by his title to rebuke moviemakers who trivialize spacesuits, and shows like Star Trek that dispense with them altogether:

One common thread in many of these movies—and clearly a source of frustration for Westfahl—is the use, and misuse, of spacesuits. In some cases spacesuits aren’t properly designed to protect the wearer from the space environment. Far more often, though, spacesuits are quickly taken off, as their wearers discover—quite conveniently—that the conditions on the Moon, Mars, or another world are hospitable enough that they do no require them. There is a rather practical, if decidedly nonscientific, reason for that. “Hollywood hates spacesuits,” author Michael Cassutt states in the book’s foreword. “What good is having Scarlett Johansson in your space movie if she’s stuffed into a rigid fabric balloon whose silhouette makes her indistinguishable from, say, Shia LaBeouf?”

(5) A party trick gone out of control? A Tolkien fan made a  replica of Bag End with balloons:

What would you do if you had 2,600 balloons and a lot of free time on your hands?

For Jeremy Telford, a father of three from Utah, the answer was obvious: build an inflatable replica of Bag End, the home of the character Bilbo Baggins from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit.

Telford, a 34-year-old professional balloon artist from Pleasant Grove who happens to be a Tolkien superfan, spent nearly 40 hours over three days re-creating the hobbit retreat in his living room using a hand pump to inflate all the building materials.

(5) Would it have made any difference if the space shuttle was called the “Space Clipper”? Slate’s “The Vault” shows somebody got all worked up about the idea and tried to convince President Nixon to make the change:

In this memo from aide Peter Flanigan to President Nixon, dated January 4, 1972, Flanigan made a last-ditch effort to convince the president to stop using the term space shuttle when referring to NASA’s new space exploration vessel. “The word shuttle has a connotation of second class travel and lacks excitement,” Flanigan wrote. Flanigan offered a list of classier alternatives: “Space Clipper”, “Pegasus”, and “Starlighter.”

In a memo he sent to Flanigan on the same day, Nixon’s speechwriter William Safire argued for “Space Clipper,” pointing to the “patriotic and historic associations” with the super-fast mid-19th-century Yankee Clipper ships. “The name would be criticized as nationalistic,” he said, “but I think that heat would be good.”

(6) What a cool way to spend a day – listening to Michael Dirda’s running commentary as he shops in a used bookstore.

(7) Star Trek Into Darkness’ Footage Will Sneak Before ‘The Hobbit’ says a headline in The Hollywood Reporter. Though both gentlemen are long gone, it still seems strange to read about someone using Tolkien’s work to promote Roddenberry.

Paramount will sneak the first nine minutes from J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek Into Darkness before Peter Jackson’s December tentpole The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in about 500 Imax 3D theaters, the studio said Monday. Abrams used Imax cameras to capture several sequences in the sequel, which opens May 15. 

(8) There’s 18 Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know About Firefly.

And in my case, probably a lot more!

[Thanks for the stories goes out to Janice Gelb, John King Tarpinian, David Klaus, Isaac Alexander and Martin Morse Wooster.]

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3 thoughts on “Snapshots 95

  1. I saw the information about the Hobbit balloon sculpture, and was curioisly amazed and appalled. Proably because I wonder over the amount of time spent on such a project, and that it looks pretty good. It does sound like something for a comvention to display, but some fans will be bearing pins.

  2. Trying to download the Tricorder program now gets a 404 error — the download link appears to no longer be valid, unfortunately.

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