Electric Underpants

The Clearing House for My Brain Stuff…

The Apollo 11 Plaque

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I’ve been reading the excellent book Rocket Men about the Apollo 11 moon mission specifically and NASA in general. I’ve been a fan of space exploration and particularly the moon-race since I was a kid, but there was some material in the book that I was unfamiliar with. One anecdote that surprised me concerned the plaque that was attached to the leg of the Lunar Module’s descent stage.

The plaque is attached to one of the legs, and of course it is still there because the descent stage was left behind when the ascent stage took off to rejoin the Lunar Orbiter and began the journey back to Earth. It says:

The plaque left behind by the Apollo 11 astronauts.

The plaque left behind by the Apollo 11 astronauts.

“Here men front he planet Earth first set foot upon the moon July 1969, A.D. We came in peace for all mankind.” Apparently, Richard Nixon, who was the President at the time, and whose signature is on the plaque, insisted that the last line must be changed to “We came in peace, under God, for all mankind.”

Nixon was adamant that the change be made, but NASA employees were not so sure, with one noting that “all Mankind” involves a lot of different gods, and occasionally no god at all. The change was not made, and with all of the hoopla surrounding the mission, Nixon’s directive was forgotten about.

Nixon may not have known that his order wasn’t followed and potentially went to his grave thinking he had done a great service for the Christian religion. If Nixon was right and the Christian God exists, I expect their first conversation after Nixon’s death in 1994 would have been noteworthy:

God: Welcome, Richard. Please have a seat.

Nixon: Thank you, Lord.

God: First off, I would like to thank you for your many years of service. And especially for attempting to get my name placed on that Moon plaque.

Nixon: You’re welcome, Lord. I’m sorry that didn’t work out.

God: Oh, that’s quite alright. You made the effort, and that’s what counts.

Nixon: Lousy NASA hippies. I always tried to be a Godly man.

God: Yes. Well. Here’s the thing – you did some Godly things. But what about all that other stuff that wasn’t quite so “righteous.”

Nixon: What do you mean?

God: Well, there’s your enemies list, the bombing of Laos, authorizing the surveillance of political opponents, authorizing the break-in at the Wat…

< Eighteen minutes of the recording inadvertently erased.>

God: …lake of fire. So, anyway, we’ll just forget about those incidents for now. Please enjoy your stay in Heaven. But you will not be allowed to have recording equipment, and you, Haldeman and Ehrlichman are to stay away from each other. Understood?

Nixon: Yes, Lord. What about Colson?

God: He’s not here.

Nixon: Oh.

Written by sfcox

August 13, 2014 at 11:55 am

Posted in Chatter

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On a return trip to Eureka, California recently, I was surprised to see that Honest Engine was still operating under its racially insensitive name 18 years after I moved away. Honest Engine is an auto repair shop that by most accounts does good work, but how do they defend the name?!?

An argument along the lines of “it’s a coincidence – we’re honest and we work on engines” might work if it wasn’t for the GIGANTIC FUCKING INDIAN-HEAD NICKEL sign on their building. That sign removes all plausible deniability. Folks, just because you made a pun doesn’t mean that it’s funny. Or that should name your business after it.

At least the sign has improved a little bit. If I recall correctly, it used to depict a white settler strangling a Native American with a timing belt.

Written by sfcox

August 4, 2014 at 7:53 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

“This pain scale goes to 11”

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I recently took my wife to the hospital because she was having some pretty severe abdominal pain. It turned out to be a wonky gallbladder and she ultimately had it taken out. On our first visit to the hospital I noticed the pain scale sign hanging on the door. Mainly directed at children, it is designed to give kids a visual representation of their pain along with a numerical scale that runs from 1 (meaning no pain) to 10 (meaning the worst pain you can imagine.) Still, 10 didn’t seem to be enough to really reflect the misery that my wife was experiencing, and it brought me back to a classic movie, which is one of the best comedies of all time. So, I snapped a pic of the poster and upgraded it accordingly…


Written by sfcox

August 3, 2014 at 12:01 am

Posted in Graphics

My Recipe for Puréed Carrots

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1. Wash up some baby carrots for lunch.
2. Place carrots in computer bag and take to work.
3. Go out to lunch that day and forget about said carrots.
4. Discover carrots six weeks later when cleaning out computer bag.
5. Serve and enjoy.

Written by sfcox

July 29, 2014 at 10:32 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Some New Graphics

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I’ve been practicing my Photoshop skills lately, doing some graphics work for the news satire site glossynews.com. Here are a few of the latest:

This one was created for an article about the fictional takeover of the United States by the NRA:










Apparently Alec Baldwin has been having some trouble with the law lately.










Clay Aiken won a Democratic primary for Congress in North Carolina in May. It could be the beginning of a promising political career. This graphic imagines a future President Aiken introducing his new cabinet.









Written by sfcox

June 17, 2014 at 10:02 pm

Posted in Graphics

Films That Almost Got Made That Time Forgot: The Lobster Boy

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The Poster for The Elephant Man.

The Poster for “The Elephant Man.” (1980)

When comedian Mel Brooks decided he wanted to take a break from comedy and produce a serious film, he settled on the story of Joseph Merrick, the famed “Elephant Man” of the Victorian England sideshow circuit. When it came to choosing a director, he looked for a candidate who could bring a strong artistic vision to the project. He found what he was looking for in David Lynch. Lynch’s first feature-length film Eraserhead had been a surprise success. Although the film wasn’t a box office hit, it was respected as a surrealist masterpiece featuring lush black and white photography and an intricate sound design. Brooks had liked Eraserhead and hired Lynch to direct The Elephant Man and co-write the screenplay.

Abandoning the surreal elements that populated Eraserhead, and would also turn up again in future projects like Twin Peaks and Blue Velvet, Lynch crafted a sensitive and moving portrayal of Merrick, a young Englishman who demanded to be treated with dignity in spite of his catastrophic physical deformities. The film was a huge success, garnering eight Oscar nominations and winning BAFTA Awards for Best Film, Best Actor and Best Production Design.

When it became clear that the film was a hit, Brooks approached Lynch

The proposed poster for "The Lobster Boy."

The proposed poster for “The Lobster Boy.”

and informed him that The Elephant Man was always intended to be the first of a trilogy of films about people who had been marginalized due to their deformities. Brooks offered Lynch the

chance to direct the sequel to The Elephant Man tentatively titled The Lobster Boy. It was to be the story of Grady Stiles, a circus performer who suffered from ectrodactyly, a deformity in his hands and feet that caused them to take on the appearance of lobster claws. At the time, Stiles was at the height of his fame as a circus performer, and was quite successful in spite of his disability.

"The Lobster Boy" was to be Matt Damon's first fillm.

“The Lobster Boy” was to be Matt Damon’s first film.

Lynch appreciated the offer, but was already deep in preproduction for his next film – the epic Sci-Fi Fantasy Dune. Brooks was disappointed and spent the next ten years searching for a director willing to take on the project, but met with no success. Things took a turn for the worse when, on November 29, 1992, Stiles was shot to death. The gunman had been hired by Stiles’ wife and son. During the subsequent trial, unflattering details of Stiles life emerged, including the fact that he was a violent alcoholic who terrorized his family.

Brooks decided that making a movie about an abusive, drunken Grady Stiles would be a poor fit thematically with the story of the sensitive, harmless Joseph Merrick. Brooks subsequently dropped plans for the Lobster Boy movie as well as for the planned third film in the trilogy, The Baboon Lady.

Written by sfcox

May 17, 2014 at 10:50 pm

Posted in Fiction

Films That Almost Got Made That Time Forgot – 2002: Another Space Odyssey

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The Poster for Kubrick's breakout sci-fi hit.

The Poster for Kubrick’s breakout sci-fi hit.

Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey was a huge hit in 1968 and also something of a revolution in science fiction filmmaking. Previous science fiction films had been heavily action-oriented and even frivolous, generally featuring aliens in unconvincing rubber suits and tough-guy heroes. Kubrick’s film, on the other hand, was slow moving and contemplative. The special effects were meticulously crafted and realistic. Classical music gave the space sequences a sense of elegance. The film thoughtfully raises questions about what it means to be human in a universe in which we are not alone, but provides no answers. Viewers are invited to enter the Monolith and fly through the “star gate” with David Bowman, but they must decide for themselves the meaning of what he finds on the other side.

Not all viewers were impressed with this ponderous epic, but those who were returned to the theaters again and again, ultimately making the film a financial success. This popularity meant that MGM was anxious to produce a sequel as soon as possible. Kubrick was dead-set against any sequel. He would not produce one himself, and he threatened legal action should MGM try to make one with a different director. Kubrick’s threats were essentially

The iconic match cut from bone to satellite. The bone later came in handy in helping Kubrick to make a point with studio executives.

The iconic match cut from bone to satellite. The bone later came in handy in helping Kubrick to make a point with studio executives.

empty because MGM owned the rights, but studio executives found that, in a show of solidarity, no reputable director would touch the project. Finally, in desperation, they contacted low-budget film impresario Roger Corman, who agreed to direct the sequel so long as he was given absolute creative control. Fearing that momentum built up by the original film’s success would stall if they waited too long, the studio agreed to Corman’s demands and hired him to direct the film.

Corman chose to write the film himself and, three days after signing the deal, presented the finished screenplay to MGM executives. The executives were unsure what to make of the script, which Corman had titled 2002: Another Space Odyssey. In Corman’s story, David Bowman returns to earth from the mysterious alien world that he inhabited at the end of the first film. In an attempt to reintegrate into society, he opens a car

A section of Corman's storyboards for "2002." (click to enlarge)

A section of Corman’s storyboards for “2002.” (click to enlarge)

repair shop in Alabama with his pal Skeeter. One day Bowman is replacing the valves on an El Camino when Lulu Blossom, the daughter of the county Sheriff, wanders into his shop. The two hit it off right away, but just as they realize they are falling in love, Lulu is kidnapped by local moonshiners. Bowman and Skeeter give chase in Bowman’s sentient Camero “HAL” (the acronym for Hot As Lightning) which has a caustic personality and makes wise cracks through a glowing red light on its dashboard (predating the hit television series Knight Rider by ten years.) Bowman, Skeeter and HAL pursue the moonshiners, while simultaneously being pursued by the Sheriff, who wrongly believes that Bowman is the kidnapper. Skeeter is ultimately

Kubrick's angry letter to the CEO of MGM. (click to enlarge)

Kubrick’s angry letter to the CEO of MGM. (click to enlarge)

killed when he is run over by a conflicted HAL, but Bowman finally defeats the moonshiners with the help of a band of surprisingly violent apes who derive their fighting abilities from an eerie, black Monolith. Shortly after her rescue, Lulu becomes pregnant with Bowman’s baby. In the final shot of the movie, the Starbaby (actually

The concept poster for "2002: Another Space Odyssey." (click to enlarge)

The concept poster for “2002: Another Space Odyssey.” (click to enlarge)

Bowman and Lulu’s unborn child) appears over the earth. Angry that it was conceived out of wedlock, it destroys the Earth in a moderately-priced effects shot.

Realizing that producing the film would likely lead to box office failure and would tarnish the legacy of the original film, MGM executives pulled the plug. Corman shrugged off the setback and set to work on his next film, Von Richthofen and Brown. The sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey, was eventually made, but not until 1985. All of Corman’s ideas were discarded for the sequel except for the character Skeeter, who was retained.

Written by sfcox

May 1, 2014 at 7:25 pm

Posted in Fiction