Thursday, August 30, 2007

TNT's 100% Weird promo

Back before I could get my favorite old Sci-Fi films by the truckload on DVD, I used to catch them on a show on TNT called 100% Weird.

I found the old promo on YouTube. The music and jingle remind me of old corporate films and ads that sold cars and kitchen products.

I love the part where the TNT logo is wheeled into the psychopathic department on a gurney. What company today would be brave enough to suggest their logo needed to be put into a padded cell and sedated?

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The new world of "internet" back in 1993

I found this video of a newscast talking about the "new computer network called Internet".

How long has it been since I've heard an old phone modem make that buzzing sound?

Monday, August 06, 2007

The Space Shuttle Endevour and sunrise

An incredible photo from the NASA site as the Shuttle Endevour is stands ready for liftoff. To get a really close-up look, check out the high-res version.

More photos of the Space Shuttle roll-out on the NASA Space Shuttle gallery.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Extinct Disney World attractions live on through YouTube

During the same trip to Walt Disney World I visited the Sci-Fi Dine-In, I also took a trip to the Magic Kingdom. While most of the park was as I remembered it as a kid, there were some rides that were gone or replaced.

One of them was the 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea ride, where visitors could ride a replica of Captain Nemo's Nautilus and come face to face with a giant squid. It was a cheesy ride by modern standards, but still great fun.

It was gone when I visited the park this time. The lagoon was still there there and still filled with water...but Nautilus was closed for good.

Time does not stand still, and neither do theme parks. The ride would eventually be replaced with some new attraction. Like anything you love as a kid, you feel a twinge of loss when it is lost, even if it was a little worn-out.

A couple years later I was looking through YouTube and found that home movies of the old 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea ride had been uploaded by users. There were was the Nautilus again! Watching the video put me back to my first Disney trip with my parents so long ago.

I found that YouTube had become an archives of old Disney rides. From Epcot's The World of Motion to videos of the original Tomorrowland, YouTube had stored the home movies and memories of countless vacations and images of long extinct attractions.

The video sometimes is shaky and the sound a little muddy, but something has been salvaged that captures the experience more than pictures and words.

For generations who never got a chance to see these attractions while they were around, this will be as close as they get. Perhaps virtual reality or Second Life will mature enough not just to bring back old Disney rides, but the exhibits of the 1964 Worlds Fair and other fanciful places that have met with the wrecking ball.

Until then, some streaming video and mono sound will have to do, but that is enough to bring back memories.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

The Sci-Fi Dine-In at Disney-MGM Studios and the worlds of old science fiction

Over five years ago I took a trip to Walt Disney World. A decade had passed since I visited the park and I was curious to see what had changed.

One of the places I was determined to visit was the Sci-Fi Dine-In at Disney-MGM Studios theme park. I had seen the entrance on my last visit, but I didn't have time to stay and have dinner.

The Sci-Fi Dine-In is a 1950s drive-in movie theater re-created indoors. It fits into theme of the Disney-MGM Studios park's appeal to baby boomer nostalgia for Hollywood's past and retro design.

Visitors to the Sci-Fi Dine-In sit in booths shaped like small cars. The walls are decorated with stars and a nighttime landscape. On the menu are drive-in favorites: burgers, fries, shakes. Clips and trailers from old black-and-white science fiction films play on the screen up front. Even the drinks play up the sci-fi theme, with electric glowing ice cubes.

While I am part of the generation that grew up with Star Wars rather than The Day The Earth Stood Still, 1950s and 60s science fiction was part of my childhood. I saw most of those films on Saturday afternoons on TV. The special effects (and often the plots) were tacky, but the filmmakers and artists who made those films often pulled off amazing visions with no CGI or lavish budgets.

Visiting the Sci-Fi Dine-In made me reflect on how much of my childhood was influenced by design and culture created long before I was born.

I realize the 1950s were not the idealized time that some believe them to be. Read some history and you will know it was not Leave It To Beaver or Ozzie and Harriet. However, the 1950s were marked by an excitement about the future (especially space travel) that is missing from our more cynical times. The events of the last fifty years have insured we will never go back to a state of innocence, yet the music, movies, architecture, and graphic design of that time period have endured.

The films and TV shows of the 1950s are part of my past and continue to inspire me. The Sci-Fi Dine-In is a tribute to the era of tin-pie-plate flying saucers and rubber monsters, and entertaining no matter what era you live in or what age you are.

To see more of the Sci-Fi Dine-In, here are some links....

YouTube videos are here, here, and here.

Photos on Flickr are here.

Here is the official entry on the Sci-Fi Dine-In on the Disney World Home Page.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Design for Dreaming - The freeway fantasies of the 1950s

I first saw Design for Dreaming on a laserdisc of 1950s short films over a decade ago. I was more bemused than impressed. What the heck was this weird promotion film for GM Cars with a pixie-ish woman being whisked off to the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel by a masked stranger?

This was my first introduction to the charm of retro-culture. This film is silly, and somewhat sexist to boot, but it clearly captures the optimism of the 1950s. The cars are classics, especially the Corvette. The stainless steel kitchen with the bubble-domed oven echoes the sleek futurism that lives on in today's modern designs.

The girl and her magical guide ride off in a rocket car (sporting a tail-fin that belongs on the back of a shark) down a glitter-dusted freeway of the space age. The future highways are devoid of traffic jams and happy drivers smile from behind the wheels of atomic-powered luxury cars. After experiencing the depression and World War II, highways must have seemed like futuristic blessings to the adults of the 1950s.

Design for Dreaming
is remarkable for the 1950s for centering a vision of the future on a woman's dreams and desires. While she is still expected to toil in the kitchen, she also wants her own sports car.

The giddiness of Design for Dreaming is unforgettable. I still hear that Toooooooooomorrrrrrowwwwwwwwwww song in the back of my mind when I see designs for future electric cars.

I doubt those new cars will have fins.

I dedicate this post to my wife as we celebrate five years of marriage.