I figure 48 hours is enough time to wrap up a contest on a little-seen blog with no real prizes, so I'm happy to announce that Menage a Jeff, the only entrant, came the closest to identifying all the various bits of ephemera found in my Pop Culture Diorama. Here's MaJ's winning entry, with my comments in bold:
"Ménage à Jeff"
Lots of clues you give, but maybe I don't have them all:
Upper row - promo insert for The Road Warrior
promo insert for The Searchers
I would call these "lobby card reproductions," but close enough
Superman's cape (not a step)
Earl's toy army man, green army (rifleman)
This was actually a promo army man from the Army Men PC came of the 90s, but close enough
3D glasses, red/blue anaglph, so old-fashioned... I am guessing from Creature From The Black Lagoon
Almost - they were boxed with Robot Monster on VHS
Promo model Daily Planet building, Superman Returns
Not quite; it came with a DC Direct Perry White action figure
Mid row - Hallmark NCC 1701 7 Galileo shuttlecraft Christmas ornament with Spok voice
I wish! It's a Johnny Lightning Galileo with no lights or sounds
Enter The Dragon promo insert
Same notation as The Searchers and The Road Warrior, above
I want to say the thing on the far right is a lirpa, but I'm sue it isn't. But it should be.
It's the spear from a Tarzan action figure set
Bottom row - promo insert for "The Wild Bunch"
Ear'ls toy army man, chartreuse army (rifleman)
See note for green army man
poker ships from Fallout: New Vegas (Left top to bottom: Vault 21,
Atomic Wrangler, Ultra Luxe, Lucky 38 Platinum Chip; Right top to
bottom: Tops, Steve Bison, Gomorrah) - you lucky bastard, by the way
Green Lantern action figure green lantern
Green Arrow action figure green handcuff arrow
How The West Was Won promo insert
Close enough, see above
Incorrect. It's actually Cheetah, Tarzan's chimp pal, part of the same action figure set that included the spear
Captain Kirk action figure Type 3 Phaser Rifle (possible prototype used by Kirk on Gamma Hydra)
Now for the flat-out guesses:
Lex Luthor's chair (maybe Perry White, or JJJ, but my guess is LL)
Soooo close! It's J. Jonah Jameson's chair
Six pearl-headed steel pins from Sylvia's sewing kit (or maybe your mom's - does Sylvia sew? I do not know.)
They came with the frame
Olive Green broadcloth background, probably came with box
Congratulations, Menage a Jeff! As promised, you may now choose three items from the above list to be featured in a (no doubt ridiculous) short story penned by yours truly. Choose wisely!
Well, thanks, Earl, and I am very, very pleased to win the prize. I really wanted this! And if you don't mind a long rambling read, I will explain exactly why:
A few days ago, I was reading Mary Roach, who is one of my favourite science writers. She had this terrific quote:
[Mary quotes Betty Pincus, a pioneering computer programmer since the 1960's]
"It always interested me the way some of my colleagues would use the technical vocabulary to describe how their minds worked... In the sixties, they talked about 'running out of tape' or 'her accumulator overflowed'. As the technology changed, it became 'running out of disk space' or 'multitasking'. I've often wondered whether the inventors of these machines created them in their own image of how their minds worked or if they related the machine to the mind after the machines were created."
I got to think about this quote a lot. It would make the basis for quite a thesis on how we percieve our devices, and now how they percieve us. Then you came along with your story offer, and I had a much better idea: why should I sit around like a mook all day and think all this up when I can make you do all the heavy lifting? To quote Stan Lee, "Excelsior!!!"
I believe that the next ten years will produce a paradigm shift in Western society. Maybe we will control our budget issues, or maybe they will cause the system to collapse. Maybe climate change will force us into a new frontier lifestyle. In ten years, the introductory data from CERN will be collated, leading to a new evolution in industry. Will that all be overtaken by social media-driven commerce? Just like the Large Hadron Collider has provided a leap in our current scientfic state, whatever comes after that will provide another leap, maybe a bigger one. We're on the verge of Future Tech from the Civilization computer games.
You look at something like Star Trek, where they have unlimited power and a non-commercial social system, and you've got to wonder what the bridge to that society will be.
There's your task, Earl: you're please going to be writing about the near future, where this leap is occurring. You'll write about the scientists/reserachers/marketers who develop something that revolutionizes civilization, only their thinking scope is too narrow to appreciate what they have created. Maybe their creation has that awareness? Maybe it's just a delusion that we are going to make a technological leap. Either way, these folks have to commit to their project and make the world believe, since that's what they get paid to do. Your "Stitch In Time" story which I like a lot has a lot of those elements already. I'd prefer if you stayed away from large-scale time travel or warp drive, or any technology like that which was used to help the characters move from palce to palce in the story. Antimatter, fusion, the Higgs Boson and anything else that might emerge from CERN are acceptable.
Your style will be hard science. Think early AC Clarke, when he was palling around with Kubrick in the 60's. I's also accept Lem, if you are feeling that talented and whimsical. If you can fit it, you should also include some sort of allegory regarding our own current social situation - we humans love to re-do our crises over and over again! Finally, I'd really like some PhilDickian ambiguity towards the whole enterprise: are the men the master or are the machines? Is control an illusion? Are we trapped by the way we think, and the way we think is to create traps for ourselves? "Please prove your are not a robot", says the blurb above the letters and numbers on your comments page.
As for my three objects, I will go easy enough on you if you accept this story idea - the chair, the pearl headed pins, and the Lucky 38 Platinum chip.
Lastly, I would greatly appreciate any mention of dark eldritch lighning!
Zounds! Quite a task you've set before me. While my knowledge of the hard sciences is but that of a layman, I'll do my best to see if I can craft something that approaches your vision. Gosh, it's almost like Gernsback handing down ideas to one of his freelancers, just like in the 30s...!
If you were going to say something that completely confirmed my complete faith in your writing abilities, I don't see how you could top a Gernsback reference. I am already anxious to see drafts!
Also, there's a great picture on Wikipedia of Hugo Gernsback watching his television at home - 1.5 inch screen with handheld manual scan control. Seeing that picture on my Wacom 21UX is just one hell of a leap right there. I can hardly wait to see what the next one will be, via your prediction!
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