1. Space Shuttle – This week marks the 30th anniversary of the Challenger disaster, which was a defining moment of my childhood. Thinking on it reminds me of what a space nut I was as a little kid; living in Orlando, Florida makes it pretty easy to catch space fever. I saw Challenger’s doomed liftoff on the playground at school, in second grade, and remember that afternoon very clearly. It feels like milking the tragedy to share the archived news footage surrounding the event, so instead I’m choosing to share this NASA informational film from the 1970s on the promise of Space Shuttle technology.
Titled simply “Space Shuttle”, the film makes the case for the transition from single-use rocket technology to a more reusable method of operation. In addition to the cost benefits, space shuttles allowed for more frequent missions which would pave the way to a more firmly established human presence in space. By the late eighties, as the film puts it. Sigh.
No matter how the promise stagnated, it’s nice to see in these 1970s NASA materials this hopefulness toward what our future in space may look like. It feels a bit like that hopefulness has surfaced again, just lately. Seems like we have the private sector to thank for that. I’ll take it!
Here’s the film – it really is a pleasant sip of tea.
2. Reverse The Curse – Nebraska Public Television is at it again!
Reverse The Curse was designed to teach elements of oral and written storytelling, using a pretty dire premise. Two bungling archaeologists break into King Hoptoit’s (get it?) tomb and are trapped there by an ancient curse. King Hoptoit comes to life and the three of them spend the series using knowledge of story elements to lift the curse.
There’s a lot of singing and dancing in here. It could be about half as long without the weird James Taylor sing-and-dance-along. The production is pretty rough but there’s a charm present – I think it comes from the fact that these local PBS outlets were really making the best of their opportunities to create learning programs for the public. There’s a definite effort here, the realized promise of television as a learning tool to be created and used by anybody. Almost doesn’t matter whether it’s good or not, in that light. Almost
With that lofty statement out there, here’s Reverse the Curse:
4. ColecoVision Super Action Controllers – Coleco got an early start on hamfisted accessories to sell you to play a handful of games slightly more fluidly on their consoles! That said, these are pretty slick-looking. This page is from a press kit full of game and accessory one-sheets:
5. Star Wars 1978 Ad – Here’s a great illustrated ad for a bevvy of Star Wars toys.