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December 3, 2007

The object produced through suggestion
Posted by Avram Grumer at 10:58 PM *

Apparently, in the movie Idiocracy (which I haven’t seen) there was an energy drink called Brawndo: The Thirst Mutilator. Adam Lisagor, filling in for Jason Kottke, says that someone’s actually going to be making Brawndo as a real-world product.

Chris reminded me that this isn’t the first product to have escaped into reality from the world of fiction. The Holiday Inn hotel chain was named after a 1942 movie, and the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company restaurant chain comes from Forrest Gump.

I propose that we call such products tlonian, after the Borges story “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius”. (I was going to suggest tertian, but that’s already a term in music theory.) Uqbar itself, a browser being developed for reading Project Gutenberg e-texts, is one such.

Comments on The object produced through suggestion:
#1 ::: Ben Morris ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2007, 11:15 PM:

"Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius" is so amazing. Not only is it my favorite Borges story but its probably my favorite short story period.

Hmm...ok well actually thinking about it a little more it probably ties with Gene Wolfe's "Redwood Coast Roamer" and James Joyce's "the Dead" for that title.

#2 ::: Lawrence Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2007, 11:22 PM:

Lots of fictional products from movies have made it into reality -- Willy Wonka's candy, Bertie Botts' any flavor beans, etc.

#3 ::: Lea ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2007, 11:27 PM:

There's also Tomacco, which had its origins in a mediocre late episode of The Simpsons...

#4 ::: Lloyd Burchill ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2007, 11:31 PM:

Whenever things claw their way out of books or movies and into the real world, I like to call it defictionalization. Favorite examples: when Spinal Tap went on tour in 1992, and when Buzz Rickson's started making jackets to match the one in Pattern Recognition.

#5 ::: Jason McIntosh ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2007, 11:32 PM:

Andy Looney (of game company Looney Labs) calls these kinds of transcendental merchandise "gobstoppers", after the Willy Wonka candy that's been sold as such in the real world since the 1970s.

#6 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2007, 11:47 PM:

Cat Valente's new book has a contest for food themed form the book over at the Habeas Brûlée blog.

Also, tomorrow she'll be reading at the south street seaport for NYRSF.

There will be music. And art. You should all go go.

#7 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2007, 11:49 PM:

Buzz Lightyear.

It always makes me sad, because it means that people who come to that work of fiction later won't appreciate the artistry it took to make something that seemed real. Buzz Lightyear is brilliant because he's so plausible. And yet for kids who've seen the cartoon -- is it still on? -- he's just like all of the other real toys that show up.

#8 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 12:45 AM:

Interesting that it's being market as "What plants crave." I have a deep-seated, learned suspicion of all the so-called 'energy drinks" (Rooster, Monster, etc.) because they have miscellaneous herbal inclusions that my insides regard as an, urm, "All Out NOW" encouragement.

#9 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 12:53 AM:

Don't forget the ever popular red stapler: http://www.techcomedy.com/www.redswinglinestapler.com/history.php

#10 ::: Matt Stevens ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 12:54 AM:

"What Plants Crave" is from the movie, in which (sort of spoiler warning) Brawndo was sprayed on crops instead of water, as well as being used for nursing babies, etc.

I should note that the movie's "Brawndo" was clearly a Gatorade-style sports drink, while the real-world "Brawndo" is probably a diuretic.

#11 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 12:56 AM:

This will be the second time a product from a Mike Judge movie has slipped into our reality. Office Space features a fire-engine red Swingline stapler. At the time Swingline did not make staplers in red but several years after the film's release, possibly due to the number of requests from fans, they started making them. Get yours here.

Brawndo's "It's what plants crave" bit is a gag from Idiocracy. Qhr gb urnil znexrgvat, shgher Nzrevpn pbafhzrf Oenjaqb va cynpr bs jngre sbe nyy nccyvpngvbaf rkprcg bar. Va nqiregvfvat vg sbe veevtngvba, gung'f gur fybtna gurl hfr. Gur jbeyq vf qlvat orpnhfr pebcf jba'g tebj naq ab-bar pna haqrefgnaq jul orpnhfr gurl xrrc srrqvat gur cynagf Oenjaqb naq rirelbar xabjf vg'f tbg jung cynagf penir.

#12 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 12:58 AM:

Damn, you've got to be fast around here.

#13 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 01:01 AM:

Shouldn't it be "The object produced through the suggestion" ?

#14 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 01:06 AM:

Sort-of example:

The leg lamp featured in "A Christmas Story" was an actual product once, a promotional item for Nehi soda. (The lamp's skirt was knee high . . .)

Now I see that you can buy official reproductions, in three sizes, at RiteAid drugs.

#15 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 01:09 AM:

Paula, #8: I have a deep-seated suspicion of all "energy booster" products because they're SNAKE OIL.

Clarification: the Lee who posted #9 is not me.

#16 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 01:25 AM:

Some "superjuices" from "superfruits" (such as noni, goji, açai and mangosteen, sold for up to $AU90 per litre bottle — 'super!') have won a section of the Australian Consumers' Association Shonky Awards: Supershonkyness … "other claims made in general marketing material for some superjuices, such as: 'enhance libido', 'treat menopausal symptoms', 'inhibit tumour growth', 'equals or outperforms the following prescription and over the counter drugs' (followed by a list of 46 medicines including Lipitor, Methadone and Valium), and 'outperform current chemotherapy drugs in killing liver, lung and stomach cancer cells'."

#17 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 01:32 AM:

This isn't quite the same thing at all, but the other day I was wondering what it would be like to watch Amelie for the first time now that Travelocity has a garden gnome for a spokesperson.

#18 ::: Tlönista ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 02:16 AM:

Long-time ML lurker, first-time poster. The red Swingline stapler was also the first thing I thought of. But wasn't there a proper word for it? I'm thinking it was hrönir, but...

...on double-checking it's ur, but yes, "tertian" is better.

And if a browser called "Uqbar" counts, surely Second Life (which may as well have been called the Metaverse) is another example?

#19 ::: Doug Burbidge ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 02:38 AM:

xkcd, of course, springs to mind in similarly causing its own reality: chessboards on rollercoasters, RMS's katana, Cory's cape and goggles, and the gathering in a Massachusetts park.

#20 ::: nigel holmes ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 02:46 AM:

I remember reading back in the eighties that a Japanese firm was interested in making one of the joke inventions of Daedalus, a sundial that works at night (by means of a mechanism that carries a light source to the appropriate place above the dial).

#21 ::: Zippy ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 03:17 AM:

California isn't a product exactly, but it was named after an island in a 1510 novel.

#22 ::: A.R.Yngve ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 03:40 AM:

Is the atom bomb a tlonian product? (Haven't read H.G. Wells' The World Set Free.)

#23 ::: iain ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 04:52 AM:

'Gobstoppers' is a poor choice of word for these tlonian items. Gobstoppers (large round hard candies) were well-known sweets in Britain long before Dahl mentioned them in Charlie & the Chocolate Factory. I don't know when they first appeared, but a character in Pat Barker's Regeneration (set in the 14-18 war) refers to them.

#24 ::: oldnumberseven ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 04:53 AM:

I can only hope Slurm will be next.

#25 ::: chris y ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 04:56 AM:

Don't forget the original: Bovril.

#26 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 05:50 AM:

24: be quiet and eat your Filboid Studge.

#27 ::: Emil ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 06:49 AM:

William Gibson's PATTERN RECOGNITION features the Buzz Rickson's MA1 jacket, which didn't exist at the time he wrote the book - now there's a whole line of clothing: http://tinyurl.com/257v8x

#28 ::: Emil ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 06:50 AM:

Oops, already noted, I see.

#29 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 06:56 AM:

Mustn't forget the Jeep.

#30 ::: Scott H ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 07:36 AM:

The nuclear submarine Nautilus and the space shuttle Enterprise also spring to mind.

#31 ::: Daniel Martin ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 07:42 AM:

See, now, I want to call such objects "lathed", or maybe "Orred".

#32 ::: jstewart ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 08:08 AM:

I like defictionalization.

The Zweite Enzyklopädie von Tlön (Second Encyclopedia of Tlön) that was on exhibit at the Gutenberg Museum in Mainz this fall. I was kinda disappointed by it actually. It seemed more like an exercise in creative book production than in creative encyclopedia production. Which I guess is appropriate for a printing museum...

#33 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 08:38 AM:

Paula Helm Murray @ #8: Interesting. Because that's the first thing that leaps to my mind every time I hear the name "Propel Fitness Water."

#34 ::: retterson ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 08:43 AM:

I think the Reality TV Show from Idiocracy is one that the American public is ready for...

And I'm still waiting for the Costco that is so big, it has its own rail shuttle.

The drink that keeps the masses stupid... not so much.

#35 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 08:46 AM:

The countdown.

Too bad later rocketeers followed Lang, instead of Melies. It would be nice to see dancing girls come out before each launch. (Note that football games have both a countdown clock AND dancing girls.)

#36 ::: Sean Sakamoto ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 09:06 AM:

How about the muscle relaxer named "Soma"?

Here are some funny spoof energy drink adds:

"Be uncomfortably energetic! It's like adding chocolate to a lightning storm!"

Power Thirst

And the sequel.

"With flavors like "GUN"!"

Power Thirst 2, with preposterone!

#37 ::: theo ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 09:11 AM:

The Buzz Rickman MA-1s have been around for a while -- just not in black.

It was actually a gaffe in research on his part, with a happy ending.

http://www.williamgibsonbooks.com/blog/2005_12_01_archive.asp

#38 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 09:20 AM:

The eighties band Heaven Seventeen named themselves after the band in A Clockwork Orange, though that band was "The Heaven Seventeens" so they always irritated me.

#39 ::: Sean Sakamoto ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 09:41 AM:

Steely Dan was named after a dildo in Naked Lunch.

#40 ::: Sean Sakamoto ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 09:46 AM:

I guess an actual dildo named steely dan would be tlonian though, not the band which is just a reference. I'm still getting used to this idea.

#41 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 09:58 AM:

I prefer "defictionalization" too, because I know know how to pronounce it.

#42 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 10:19 AM:

This was not *directly* inspired by suggestion, but by damn I
suggested it (around 1992, for the first time) and now it's happened:

"This music is analog -- impressed as a series of shaped grooves in
the trail pavement. By attaching either a laser-scanner or a vibration
sensor to your freebike, you can convert the pavement waveform into
sound, transmitted into your headphones or neuroplug."
http://eblong.com/zarf/review/review-5.html

"Japan's melody roads play music as you drive"
http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,,2209957,00.html

(I know, my idea is higher-tech than the reality, but that's because I
was writing in an SF mode. The original idea was just what's described:
tuned groove-pavement that's hit by your tires.)

#43 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 10:27 AM:

In #42 the estimable Andrew Plotkin writes of his 1992 speculation:

(I know, my idea is higher-tech than the reality, but that's because I was writing in an SF mode. The original idea was just what's described: tuned groove-pavement that's hit by your tires.)

Yeah, well...

And Kip Williams may have anticipated both of us.

#44 ::: Adam Rice ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 10:30 AM:

Am I the only person who thinks the Brawndo ad is not for an actual product, but a viral-marketing campaign for something else? Everything about the Brawndo site says "parody," right down to the Omni Consumer Products logo at the bottom (remember Robocop?).

#45 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 10:33 AM:

44: looking at the click through, you can buy t-shirts etc, but not the product itself...

#46 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 10:53 AM:

Since we are discussing a Mike Judge movie, there's always the red stapler.

...it's not okay because if they take my stapler then I'll set the building on fire...

#47 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 11:23 AM:

The engineers at NASA who developed the ion drive specifically cited Star Trek as the inspiration, although the principle seems to have been recognized before that. The name of the first ion-drive powered craft was Deep Space 1.

Does the Litany Against Fear count? How about the Jedi religion?

#48 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 11:30 AM:

When people who studied robots realized that such study was becoming its own discipline, rather than a mere branch of electronics and/or computer science, some said they should call their discipline "robotology."

Up jumped an Asimov fan, insisting that it be called "robotics" instead.

And the name stuck.

#49 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 11:34 AM:

The word "robot" itself comes from sci-fi, doesn't it? A story in, like, the 1930s?

#50 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 11:38 AM:

I'm surprised no one has mentioned the novel I, Libertine by Frederick R. Ewing (officially, I believe, listed as a collaboration between Jean Shepherd and Theodore Sturgeon). Shepherd had a late-night radio show, and he urged his listeners to go to bookstores and ask for such a title, even though such a book didn't exist. Ballantine ended up publishing a book under that title to fulfill the demand, after enlisting Sturgeon to write it under the Ewing pseudonym. It contained the immortal cover line "'Gadzooks,' quoth I, 'here's a saucy baud.'"

#51 ::: Nathan ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 11:49 AM:

Carrie S. @ 49

This page traces "robot" to 1923.

http://tinyurl.com/ytzdqu

#52 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 11:59 AM:

Venus on the Half-Shell by Kilgore Trout. The Necronomicon.

In the movie "Bull Durham," there's a billboard along the back of the outfield that says "Hit Bull, Win Steak!" Although the movie was filmed in the actual Durham Athletic Park, the billboard was made and installed for the film. It stayed up, though, and some local restaurant began to honor the bet.

#53 ::: Jim ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 12:07 PM:

The Tlönion - Uqbar's finest news source

#54 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 12:22 PM:

Carrie S @49-- yes

Rosum's Universal Robots, by Karel Capek, 1923. Robot comes form the Czech word for 'worker'.

Not only was RUR the source for the word Robot but one of the first anti-communist works of literature.

***

artificial telecom satellites are Tlonian, as they were first written about by Arther C. Clark in a short story.

also, anything originating on the Internet has the potential to be come real, given enough time, enthusiasm and attention.

(I think this finally explains the mysterious origin of Corry Doctorow, but with a twist: Corry wrote the story that invented him).

#55 ::: Gag Halfrunt ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 12:33 PM:

Actually, Clarke wrote about geostationary satellites for communications in a magazine article, not a story, so they don't count as tlonian.

Clarke's most important contribution may be the idea that geostationary satellites would be ideal telecommunications relays. He proposed this concept in a paper titled "Extra-Terrestrial Relays — Can Rocket Stations Give Worldwide Radio Coverage?", published in Wireless World in October 1945. The geostationary orbit is now sometimes known as the Clarke Orbit or the Clarke Belt in his honour.

However, it is not clear that this article was actually the inspiration for the modern telecommunications satellite. John R. Pierce, of Bell Labs, arrived at the idea independently in 1954, and he was actually involved in the Echo satellite and Telstar projects. Moreover, Pierce stated that the idea was "in the air" at the time and certain to be developed regardless of Clarke's publication. Nevertheless, Clarke described the idea so thoroughly that his article has been cited as prior art in judgements denying patents on the concept.
#56 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 12:44 PM:

More Arthur Clarke:

He invented noise cancellation using anti-phase noise in a White Hart story, but wrongly suggested that the noise energy had to go somewhere and would cause the canceller to explode.

The hero of The Lion of Comarre had a mobile phone which could be diverted to an automatic messaging service when he knew annoying relatives would try to call him.

#57 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 01:03 PM:

I seem to recall an ad campaign by a major company which basically said that they were throwing in the towel and calling themselves what everyone else already called them anyway. (Was it Vought?)

#58 ::: Guy Parsons ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 01:29 PM:

The American Express Black Card (or "Centurion" as they like call to it) was at first an urban legend / rumour, before AmEx heard about it and decided to actually make it.

#59 ::: Manny ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 01:40 PM:

IIRC, the modern detector-activated doors were inspired by an engineer trying to figure out how they made them work for Star Trek. (The simple solution of "Props guy pulls the door aside on cue" apparently never occurred to him.)

#60 ::: Michael R. Bernstein ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 01:45 PM:

C. Wingate @ #57: You might be referring to Federal Express, which officially changed it's name and logo to 'FedEx' in 1994. I think it still counts as the largest global rebranding campaign ever (a lot of vehicles, planes and trucks, had to be repainted).

#61 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 02:20 PM:

Yeah, but we just get the finite gobstoppers, not the genuine Wonka everlasting ones.

I think the Jeep should really count as a reference to the original rather than actually Tlonian, given that Segar's Jeep was not a vehicle.

#62 ::: D. ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 02:45 PM:

Ah, someone cited Rossum's Universal Robots already.

Um, there were doors that opened when one interrupted the beam of what used to be called "electric eyes," and they've been around since the '50s. (Sliding doors, not so much.)

Swingline actually had a red stapler in the '60s; it was called the Swingline Tot, it was about four inches long, it had a red plastic head (metal body, though).

Speaking of bands, there was a jazz fusion sort of band, known, until Paramount caught up with them, as James T. Kirk (in homage to, if I remember correctly, James Brown, Thelonius Monk, and Rahsaan Roland Kirk).

#63 ::: Michael R. Bernstein ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 02:49 PM:

I just remembered, there is a mother-lode of defictionalized apparel here at 'Found Item Clothing':

http://www.founditemclothing.com/

#64 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 03:08 PM:

Sarah 61: Or even an outright coincidence, since according to this page the word 'Jeep' comes from 'GP', standing not for General Purpose as I had thought, but for G (code used by Ford for Government vehicles) P (80-inch wheelbase).

It's possible that the transition from GP to Jeep may have been out of affection for Segar's character, but I'd need some pretty specific evidence of that.

#65 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 03:10 PM:

My comment on the Jeep being more coincidental than Tlonian or even a reference has been held for review. It did have a link, but only one.

#66 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 03:44 PM:

d.,

Speaking of bands, there was a jazz fusion sort of band, known, until Paramount caught up with them, as James T. Kirk (in homage to, if I remember correctly, James Brown, Thelonius Monk, and Rahsaan Roland Kirk).

ira hunter & robin thompson make comics together here in vancouver. naturally, their publishing company is hunter thompson unlimited.

hey, if l.a. artist carol es came on board, they could be hunter es thompson unlimited.

#67 ::: Ben Morris ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 04:01 PM:

Well, I'm not sure how much this one counts since the book it was depicted in came out only a couple weeks before it did, but there is the children's book Where's My Cow? that was first depicted in Terry Pratchett's Thud!

#68 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 04:07 PM:

Where's My Cow? doesn't quite count-- it's more of a semi-prequel to Thud!, because Vimes still appears in it and the events of the children's book happen somewhat before those of the adults'. Which doesn't make me love it any less, no.

#69 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 04:16 PM:

Slight tangent here:
John R Pierce also wrote fiction as 'J J Coupling'.

(I had one of those little red staplers.)

#70 ::: Ben Morris ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 04:22 PM:

I hadn't actually read Where's My Cow?, only Thud! and had assumed it was more or less exactly like described in Thud!. The fact that its not, and that Vimes shows up makes me much more inclined to read it (there can never be enough Vimes, such a great character).

#71 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 04:26 PM:

Regarding Where's My Cow — wow, those illustrations really, REALLY don't work for me. No, no. That is not what Sam Vimes looks like. And what's up with Young Sam? He looks like he's got progeria.

Apologies to anyone who likes Melvyn Grant's work. Like I said, it really doesn't work for me.

#72 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 05:02 PM:

If California gets part credit, so should Brazil.

#73 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 05:09 PM:

You guys do know that the recent rise in popularity of energy drinks is due to the needs of shape shifting raccoons, don't you?

#74 ::: Pfusand ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 05:24 PM:

It has long been my dark suspicion that Tyvek was based on that ~tough, paperlike material~ that time travelers (from the 1950's) kept finding in the future.

#75 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 05:28 PM:

Pfusand: I'm pretty sure Tyvek was named after the Vulcan who invented it.

#76 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 05:58 PM:

I never could understand why calling a lock a kryptonite lock is supposed to sound impressive. I mean, they were created long before Smallville, in the days where kryptonite didn't stop normal people.

#77 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 06:07 PM:

Nancy @71: That bit of trivia brings a memory of the time twentyfive years ago or so when I was at Pennsic with a bunch of Society for Creative Anachronism folks, being a merchant. I was selling handspun silk and wool sample cards done with period dyestuffs, and was explaining to somebody the whole brasil/Brazil thing, and a notable peer of the realm heard me, assumed that I had made the whole thing up and was a complete historical idiot, and stalked away ostentatiously with a noise of disgust.

#78 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 06:34 PM:

elise 76: Shall I guess who that was? No, no, I suppose I'd better not.

Besides...peers are known for that sort of thing.

#79 ::: Jeff P. ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 06:43 PM:

And don't forget Sex Panther Cologne. That's apparently real as well.

#80 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 07:12 PM:

Surely the slidewalk (as seen in airports) was Asimov or Heinlein before it became a reality. And didn't Heinlein come up with the waterbed?
Not to mention the tank (HG Wells... "You damned fools. I told you so.")

#81 ::: Derek Lowe ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 07:17 PM:

I'm sure that Idiocracy fans are already all over this reference, but "Brawndo: The Thirst Mutilator" is a takeoff on a 1970s soft drink called Rondo, advertised as "The Thirst Crusher". I drank large amounts of it as a high-school student in Arkansas, alternating with Mountain Dew and the occasional Dr. Pepper.

Stuff wasn't bad - it was in the cloudy, citrusy Collins mixer category, which several soft drinks have moved in and out of over the years. I go back as far as Simba, a failed Coke product from around 1970.

#82 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 07:39 PM:

Real-life Brawndo seems like almost as much of a bad idea as offering the One Ring as fine jewelry. (I know it's a work of fiction, but does the idea of using the One Ring as a wedding ring sketch anyone else out? The symbolism is just....bad.....)

I thought it was fake/viral too, but in some sense, at least, it's real -- you can order a case of actual energy drink under the Brawndo label from that site.

#83 ::: Terry (in Germany) ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 08:01 PM:

Hey, I worked on Deep Space 1.

It was while I was a machinist, and we did some of the rings on the the drive. I don't know where they went, but they were big pieces of titanium alloy.

I remember Simba.

#84 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 08:10 PM:

When we were casting silver in art class in high school, I made a One Ring. Had to make several tries before it would cast. Never worked until I left the last word off the inscription.

#85 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 08:25 PM:

Scott H @ 30 'Enterprise', however, is a name with a long and distinguished history for naval & other ships, and related vessels. One famous scientific HMS Enterprise explored the Arctic and searched unsuccessfully for the lost North-West Passage expedition of Sir Richard Franklin* (former Tasmanian governor, whose name was given to possibly its most famous river) in the nineteenth century, tho the name was an old one even then. As a child, I saw one of the the USS Enterprise aircraft carriers – not sure if it was the nuclear-powered one or the earlier model – moored in the middle of Sydney Harbour because it was too large for any of the established berths. So the Star Trek ship(s) may have had some influence on the space shuttle name, but it's part of an existing tradition too.

'Challenger' is another ship's name with a proud history in science & exploration, and a rather more substantial Australian connection. 'Nautilus', apart from Nemo's craft, the nuclear submarine and the cephalopods, I do not know about.

*A good story in itself

#86 ::: Ben Morris ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 08:43 PM:

Well this isn't really one either since its not an independent product. In Futurama the characters are often watching a show "Everyone Loves Hypnotoad". As an extra on the DVD of the new Futurama movie Bender's Big Score there is an entire full length episode of "Everyone Loves Hypnotoad".

#87 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 08:47 PM:

elise #83: Gail's and my wedding rings are silver One Rings...

#88 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 08:53 PM:

I'm surprised no one has mentioned the VenusButterfly which originated on L.A. Law back in the 1980s.

#89 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 08:57 PM:

Fragano @ 86, I thought as I posted that "Dammit, I'm going to inadvertently insult someone with that." I should go back to lurking until I can figure out how to surgically extract foot from mouth. I'm apparently not fit for polite company these days.

#90 ::: hypochrismutreefuzz ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 09:07 PM:

Has anyone cited the "bazooka" yet? How about "kludge"? Spike Jones (with an ess not a zee) invented an instrument, sort of a cross between several woodwinds and brass, and named it a bazooka. I think the army named their infantry rocket launcher after the bazooka. Or was it the other way around?

#91 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 09:30 PM:

Serge, #75: Trying to think like a marketing guy, I'm pretty sure the intended message is, "So strong even Superman couldn't break it." Said marketing guy, of course, is not a comics fan and so doesn't realize that Kryptonite has no effect on J. Random Bike Thief.

ajay, #79: Well, there's "The Roads Must Roll," but that was considerably fancier than a simple slidewalk.

Caroline, #81: ...does the idea of using the One Ring as a wedding ring sketch anyone else out?

Yes. Call me superstitious if you want, but... no way in hell.

#92 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 10:45 PM:

89: 'Kludge' is from German kluge, meaning "clever."

#93 ::: Alan Hamilton ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 10:57 PM:

Speaking of robotics, there's US Robotics, inspired by Asimov's US Robots and Mechanical Men.

#94 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 11:03 PM:

Also Rearden Steel, but they changed their name to Moxi when they came out of stealth mode (then got bought by Digeo). There are related Rearden companies still in existance, but not Steel.

#95 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 11:07 PM:

Lee @ 90... Lex Luthor, bicycle thief?

#96 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 11:15 PM:

iain, #23, my website is on a server named gobstopper. When companies get lots of servers, they give them silly names.

#97 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 11:24 PM:

re 89: It's not clear who invented the bazooka. Here is a cite going back to 1918.

#98 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 11:25 PM:

Xopher... Kluge sounds like the name of a Klingon geek.

#99 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2007, 03:17 AM:

I've seen claims that Heinlein invented the waterbed, but I've also seen claims that the idea goes back to the 19th century.

#100 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2007, 06:27 AM:

Xopher @ 48: Aren't robots themselves Tlonian? I seem to remember the word was coined before the thing existed. Ahh, yes! Wikipedia reminds me: Josef Čapek, via Karel Čapek, the Czech playwright.

Manny @ 59: IIRC, the modern detector-activated doors were inspired by an engineer trying to figure out how they made them work for Star Trek.

I'm surprised no one's mentioned flip-phones yet.

elise @ 83, that's stupendously awesome.

Regarding Where's My Cow, there simply must be a separate word for Tlonian objects by way of identical authorship. There are a number of these which are books, such as J.K. Rowling's private "Beedle the Bard" chapbook.


One of my favorite obscure bands, The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets, did a soundtrack to a movie (Spaceship Zero) that was either never released or just not released for at least two years after the soundtrack (I stopped following.) The movie was based on a 1970s cult classic German TV show based on a 1950's American TV show based on a 1930's radio programme. They've also done a roleplaying game now.

I'm not sure that's Tlonian. It possibly belongs to another category of obscure artifact...

#101 ::: Scott H ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2007, 07:38 AM:

Another Heinlein one: the artificial arms used to remotely manipulate dangerous materials (in the place where I worked, anyway) are referred to as "waldoes."

Does the band "Heaven 17" count? They were in Clockwork Orange before they were in record stores.

#102 ::: Adam Lipkin ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2007, 08:17 AM:

Actually, moving sidewalks were proposed back in the 1920s, which predates Heinlein by a bit.

Another recent addition that's gone unmentioned on this thread: The assorted 7-11 Simpsons tie-ins (Buzz Cola, Slushees, etc). Although the lack of Duff Beer made that promotion less exciting than it could have been.

#103 ::: Manny ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2007, 08:45 AM:

D at #62

Roger on the electric-eye activated doors. Also door with switches under rubber floor mats.What got the engineer thinking was that there obviously were no electric eyes or floor mats, so how was it detecting proximity?

#104 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2007, 09:56 AM:

I wonder how much invention comes from the visual mode of cartoons, rather than from stories. (E.g. the wrist radio -- or did that thing have video as well?)

#105 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2007, 11:14 AM:

A.J. 99: I'm surprised no one's mentioned flip-phones yet.

And computer diskettes. And the multiple-vital-signs monitor, which is literally a case of an engineer (or was it a doctor?) seeing it on ST and saying "That's a good idea! I could build one of those!"

#106 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2007, 11:20 AM:

Didn't some engineers approach the Star Trek people to ask how they got their doors to open automatically? I think they were quite disappointed to find that the doors were operated backstage by some guy with ropes.

What about the Jefferies Tube?

#107 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2007, 11:34 AM:

Serge @185 -

Yep, the making of Star Trek book that came out in the 60's had that story. Stephen Whitfield and Gene Roddenberry wrote it. Someone who wanted to put in pocket doors asked them how they got to open so fast. They had to admit that prop guys pulled them open.

I think there are some blooper reels that show the Captain running into the door when the prop guys missed their cue. The whooh sound was added post-production.

#108 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2007, 11:36 AM:

Whoops, commented on a future post. That was supposed to be #105.

#109 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2007, 11:38 AM:

A.J. Luxton, Spaceship Zero was a real show? I'm boggled! I saw the RPG, flipped through, and chuckled at what I thought was a very clever setting aproach where the authors based an entire setting around a hypothetical TV show, as justification for all the in-setting wackiness. Sort of how Cartoon Action Hour has setting books for 80s cartoons that never existed.

#110 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2007, 11:56 AM:

It's pretty clear that those data pads in ST the original were really tablet computers. Or giant PDAs.

#111 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2007, 11:56 AM:

Steve C @ 107.. You must never start a computer's warp core without first going thru the warmup phase.

#112 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2007, 12:26 PM:

One of the more amusing failed predictions of science fiction was legalized pot. Seemed every story written in the late 60's/early 70's had a character opening his pack of Acapulco Golds, and smoking it just like a cigarette.

Now back when I was alleged to have indulged (no one saw me, I didn't inhale, you can't prove a thing), half a joint would leave me loopy for hours. So I always laughed at those pot-smoking characters who were able to smoke and function.

#113 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2007, 12:33 PM:

111: not just the 60s/70s; Ken MacLeod's "The Star Fraction" has a hero who smokes legal joints (Moscow Gold brand, naturally) without it affecting him that much...

Perhaps legalised pot will have a maximum THC count, for safety reasons.

#114 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2007, 12:34 PM:

Another tlonian example from Pratchett would be the Dark Morris.

#115 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2007, 01:09 PM:

re 106: On one of the Babylon 5 blooper reels there's a shot of Majel Barrett running into a door which the propman didn't get open in time. Her response: "It's OK, I'm used to it."

#116 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2007, 01:48 PM:

Does swearing by saying "Frak!" count?

#117 ::: Nicole TWN ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2007, 01:58 PM:

Flip-phones were allegedly directly inspired by the communicators in Star Trek. There's an interesting book, with the awesome title The Dreams Our Stuff Is Made Of: How Science Fiction Conquered The World, that examines the whole SF-spurs-invention cycle. (Unfortunately, the parts of the book that don't deal with that are kind of crap. Also, it's a bit out of date by now.)

#118 ::: Adam Lipkin ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2007, 01:59 PM:

Alex (#115): I'd say that's more a linguistic issue than a product one (see "paparazzi," "factoids," etc.).

Me, I've added "gorram" to my repertoire of adjectival swears.

#119 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2007, 02:27 PM:

Steve #111, though if you think about it, it's no stranger than action heroes of the time who smoked tobacco constantly without it affecting their lung capacity. I guess it didn't matter much as long as the villains smoked too.

#120 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2007, 02:34 PM:

Caroline #88: I'm confused. Why do you think you've insulted me?

#121 ::: Juliet E McKenna ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2007, 02:35 PM:

Actually, Claude @ 113, while yes, people doing Dark Morris in a consciously Discworld manner would be Pratchett-derived, blackface morris dancing goes right back to the Middle Ages, and quite probably earlier, and can still be seen in various rural bits of England. Quite possibly by the aforementioned author, I wouldn't wonder.

#122 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2007, 02:38 PM:

The one good tlonian example from my own (indirect) experience involves war rooms. I'm an Air Force brat and my father was first a B-52 command pilot in the 1960's then a staff officer in SAC in the 1970's. Loving Dr. Strangelove, I once asked him about the real command centers, which he had spent a lot of time in.

The first generation SAC command center was built in the 1950's, and it was basically a WWII control center writ rather large. It was a huge warehouse of a room, almost as long as a football field, with manually maintained maps and charts covering the long side. By the early 1960's, they were building the more hardened underground replacement using electronic displays and much better communications capacity.

There was just one problem, according to my father. Everyone had seen Dr. Strangelove and Fail-Safe as well as NASA Mission Control. The reality of the Hole was not nearly as impressive, with some of the displays produced with hand drawn diagrams on overhead projectors. It worked just fine. One of the functions, though, of a big fancy facility is to impress visiting congresscritters. (NASA headquarters in Washington used to have the world's largest magnetic PERT chart behind curtains, just for that purpose. One question and whoosh, there you were. It really had no other use.) After the movies, the SAC command post was dissappointing, and that was a problem.

Supposedly, this helped spur USAF's investment in computer graphics over the next couple of decades. My father claimed that they dropped untold millions into trying to recreate the seamless graphics of Fail-Safe, but never succeeded. These days, real war rooms are cluttered, full of displays and desks, and nothing like the movies. For something impressive, try one of the big corporate Network Operations Centers. But even there, half the reason for all the flash is to impress potential customers.

#123 ::: Karounia ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2007, 02:48 PM:

During the really, really optimistic part the tech boom (say, like, 1996-8) there were a bunch of avatar and virtual realm development companies who took their names from Neuromancer and Snow Crash. I remember The Ono Sendai Corp and Black Sun Industries. It seemed very Nineties to me that rather than trying to realize SF imagined products, people wanted to envision SF Imagined Companies.

Back Sun eventually changed its name to Blaxxun when it became clear that we weren't going to be building the Metaverse just yet, exactly.

There was also Yoyodyne Industries. But they made simple email games rather than whatever their counterpart made in Buckaroo Banzai.

#124 ::: Ben Morris ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2007, 03:00 PM:

re 122: Buckaroo Banzai itself borrowed Yoyodyne from the Thomas Pynchon novels V. and The Crying of Lot 49.

#125 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2007, 03:15 PM:

When I went to college to become a programmer in the early 1970s, I was rather disappointed that real computers look nothing like those in Irwin Allen shows. On the other hand, real computers don't shoot out sparks every time someone bumps against them.

#126 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2007, 03:21 PM:

IIRC, when Star Trek (TOS) was in its first run, Popular Science did an article about the science of the series, in which they claimed that the fictional Enterprise bridge layout was adapted for a contemporary aircraft carrier bridge. I think they also described how the sickbay designs were influencing actual medical technology.

#127 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2007, 03:29 PM:

I had seen an entry for 'computers' in an old Golden Book Encyclopedia* (picked up the entire set a few years back on the curb) with a picture that looked exactly like an Irwin Allen computer. I think it might have been a 1960 Univac, or something of the sort.


* Yes, the publishers of A Pokey Little Puppy and other classics. IIRC, the books used more illustration than photography, and the illustrations all had that classic Golden Book look (which is why I picked it up).

#128 ::: Gag Halfrunt ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2007, 03:34 PM:
These days, real war rooms are cluttered, full of displays and desks, and nothing like the movies. For something impressive, try one of the big corporate Network Operations Centers. But even there, half the reason for all the flash is to impress potential customers.
The 2005 incarnation of NORAD at Cheyenne Mountain looks very corporate, with commercial off the shelf computer hardware, office desks, lots of wood and a carpeted floor. It probably looks more corporate than an actual corporate network operations centre.
#129 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2007, 03:34 PM:

Serge @ #124 -

On the other hand, real computers don't shoot out sparks every time someone bumps against them.

Sometimes real programmers do.

One of my favorite scenes in some two-bit TV SF movie showed a guy hooked to a computer absorbing the information into his mind. They illustrated this with an IBM 3410 Mag Tape machine (the ones as tall as a person with the neat plastic windows that slid down) with a 2400' reel in high-speed rewind.

Another fond memory is of the original The Terminator, which showed scenes from Ah-nold's POV, displaying lines of code and graphics. I recognized the opening page of a COBOL program, and thought, great! Not only is he an efficient killing machine, he also processes your payroll!

#130 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2007, 03:39 PM:

Steve C @ 128... Just goes to show. COBOL may not be sexy, but it'll outlive us all, to be worshipped by death-dealing machines.

#131 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2007, 04:03 PM:

Some of the visible Terminator code was Apple ][ assembly taken from a program published in Nibble magazine. There's no way in a just world that 6502s would outlast, say, 68000s.

#132 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2007, 04:05 PM:

Rob Rusick #126:

Probably a 1959 Univac, because I was given a Golden Book Encyclopedia in 1960, when I was seven: it was one of those deals where you got the volume-of-the-week for a dollar at the grocery. And yes, I actiually read each volume all the way through. It was, among other things, accidentally responsible for me figuring out that not all representational art was exactly the same, as there were two kinds of pictures, line drawings and paintings. I still look back on it fondly.

Golden Books were also responsible for various forays into the scientific realm, including the Field Guides, such as Zim's _Stars_, and high-school-level books on space flight and the moon that really challenged my reading ability at age 6, but which made me want to become an astronaut before there was such a word. (I think I said "spaceman".) Directly responsible for me starting to read SF when I was 8.

Back to the topic at hand, sorta, I remember reading _The Star Beast_ when I was 9 or so, and trying to design the desk the bureaucrat used, with its pneumatic in/out slots, communicators, clocks, keyboard, and all. Nowadays, of course, it looks like the laptop in front of me.

And last night, we got somehow sucked into watching "Firebrand" after the weather. One of the featured spots was an old one for the PS2, which was an advert for the PS9, complete with holodeck and such. I wonder what the real PS9 will look like, if ever?

#133 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2007, 04:35 PM:

#130: Some of the visible Terminator code was Apple ][ assembly

Do you remember Programmed to Kill with Sandahl Bergman (my favorite actress)?

In that movie the on-screen programming language was BASIC, which might explain why the exposition was so sluggish.

#131: I had that very same set of Golden Encyclopedias! They were on the bookshelf beside my bed and I read them all the way through. I remember picking them up at the store every week, and looking forward to the next one.

#134 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2007, 04:42 PM:

I don't remember the publisher, but one kid-science-encyclopedia set my family had when I was a kid had illustrations that were taken from film strip slides. They were a little blurry and small and some of them had "on screen" captions.

#135 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2007, 05:01 PM:

James #132: I don't, and it doesn't look like Netflix has it available unfortunately.

I have a long-standing (and apparently much-annoying) habit of pausing the tv any time there's a computer screen visible, to try to figure out where the text comes from. Usually it's gibberish or unrelated Unix shell output, but I'm still trying to figure out why, in an episode of The Agency, the DCI was reading a copy of the Articles of Confederation.

#136 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2007, 05:12 PM:

The Golden Book Encyclopedias were favorites of mine too, and I nearly wore them out.

#137 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2007, 06:54 PM:

Another fond memory is of the original The Terminator, which showed scenes from Ah-nold's POV, displaying lines of code and graphics. I recognized the opening page of a COBOL program, and thought, great! Not only is he an efficient killing machine, he also processes your payroll!

Well, yes. Hence the name "Terminator". The T-800 was originally designed to spare human executives the unpleasant task of sitting down with their subordinates to tell them they'd been made redundant. That's why they need to look human - if you wanted an assassination robot, you'd make it look like a Coke can or a vending machine or a Swingline stapler or a cellphone. It's a lot easier to make a machine that acts like a stapler, for reasons too obvious to belabour. Skynet repurposed them as assassins after the war started.

#138 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2007, 08:26 PM:

re 124: Well, the first computer I worked on looked like an Irwin Allen thing (minus the tape drives-- '60s movie computers couldn't think without tape drives, apparently), because it was a Model 1 IBM 1620.

#141 ::: Jim Meadows ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2007, 09:31 PM:

Someone several comments back mentioned H.G Wells and the tank. That would refer to a 1903 H.G. Wells short story, "The Land Ironclads", about a type of military machine very similar to the tanks that were invented a few years later. I read in a biography that after the tank was invented, Wells actually filed a patent claim, using his short story as evidence. His claim wasn't successful.

#142 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2007, 10:42 PM:

Irwin Allen computers? Check out CSIRAC.

The Melbourne Museum says: "CSIRAC remains the only intact first generation computer surviving anywhere in the world". Initially known as the CSIR Mk1, it was developed in Sydney in the late 1940s by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR (now CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organization)), and ran its first program in November 1949.

I am particularly entertained by the colour photo, taken in 1955, entitled CSIRAC on the move at the bottom of the page. Not quite the laptop or hand-held style of 'on the move'. They even have an emulator, designed to run on Windows 98, so you may need to run a Win98 emulator first <g>

#143 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2007, 01:39 AM:

In #122, Karounia writes:

It seemed very Nineties to me that rather than trying to realize SF imagined products, people wanted to envision SF Imagined Companies.

While I agree, I can't resist adding that I joined General Technics shortly after it was founded, around 1977.

Regarding the Golden Book Encyclopedia, passim: Ook.

#144 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2007, 01:40 AM:

Also, I visited the premises of Ono-Sendai in 1993.

#145 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2007, 03:22 AM:

Fade Manley @ 108: It's either real or I was taken in by a complicated pseudopod of Operation Mindfck. The soundtrack also has this backstory. And a song in German, because, to paraphrase Toren Atkinson, "some songs just have to be written in German."

Dieses is Unverschamtheit!
Wohin nehmt ihr mich?

And lo! You are correct. I have been taken. At least according to Wikipedia. Even the film is a hoax! Hook, line and sinker. Hot damn.

Suddenly the context of the soundtrack makes more sense, as TDotHT is mainly a Cthulhu punk band, and so the tradition of referring to media which don't exist (until someone makes them) suddenly comes apparent in this one...

Oh, well done. I love a clever prank, and it's been a long time since anything's gotten me this good. For several years, no less.

Karounia @ 122: I was wondering if anyone had ever done Yoyodyne. Especially since a friend of mine has had a Yoyodyne parking sticker on their car and gotten appropriately credulous comments about it. It's not originally from Buckaroo Banzai though -- Thomas Pynchon (The Crying of Lot 49) had it first, making it the same sort of Joe-quotes-Bob reality as I'd been led to believe Spaceship Zero was...

#146 ::: Manny ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2007, 08:40 AM:

Todd Larason at #134

I have a long-standing (and apparently much-annoying) habit of pausing the tv any time there's a computer screen visible, to try to figure out where the text comes from.

I have a long-standing habit of stopping movies to look at knitting to see what stitches they used. My bad computer-in-movie habit is hollering at the screen every time they have someone shoot a monitor to stop the computer from doing something or to destroy the data.

#147 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2007, 11:10 AM:

The was a very odd "fast forward" moment at the end of William Wellman's 1933 film Wild Boys of the Road, shown on Turner last evening. Overall, it was a fine drama-from-the-headlines tale about Depression Era juveniles who rode the rails away from their impoverished homes and gathered in large encampments in big cities. But at the end, when one youngish (white) protagonist had reason to be happy, he did a series of somersaults and then spun on his head, as in break dancing!

Now, someone here will probably tell me it was an established medieval custom, and jesters did it all the time....

#148 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2007, 11:18 AM:

134, 144

Those of us who do genealogy read the samples in software ads and manuals to see if we recognize any names in them.

(And the MTA here in LA has a poster-ad with a guy sitting on the bus, knitting. He's faking it, although the knitting is real enough.)

#149 ::: rea ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2007, 04:43 PM:

Scooby Snacks, now on sale at your local pet store. They would have had them on sale sooner, if it weren't for those meddling kids . . .

#150 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2007, 07:19 PM:

I yell at the TV when I see a chess board set up rotated 90 degrees off true, with the wrong color square in the lower right hand corner. It's disrespectful inattention to detail.

#151 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2007, 07:48 PM:

Scooby Snacks are oddly self-referential. They're not the snacks that Scooby Doo eats; they're snacks shaped like Scooby, the stoner guy, and the van the Meddling Kids ride around in.

#152 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2007, 07:51 PM:

Faren Miller #145: As far as I know, bboys were doing head spins in the early 1970's, but Frankie Darro(w) was reportedly able to do head spins from the age of four, in the 1920's.

#153 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2007, 09:26 AM:

Faren Miller @ 104

The original Dick Tracey wristradio was voice only; later on (in the 70's I think) he changed it to a 2-way wrist TV.

#154 ::: Kevin J. Maroney ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2007, 09:30 AM:

"Gobstopper" is, in fact, just the British name for the candy known in the USA as "jawbreaker".

#155 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2007, 10:25 AM:

Earl and Bruce: thanks for the info about Frankie's head-spins and the "wrist radio" that got updated in the Seventies. That was indeed Frankie Darro(w) in the movie -- looked sort of like a miniature Kyle McLaughlin (sp?), the guy in the Dune film, and he was quite a good actor too.

#156 ::: Karounia ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2007, 01:35 PM:

A.J Luxton @143

The Nineties Yoyodyne Was a Silicon Alley Start-up. The possibility that they issued parking stickers (or had a parking lot in Manhattan) was next-to-zero. More likely your friend is an agent of The Horn.

I still have a yellow Yoyodyne Industries promo baseball cap from some product launch party. Lou Dobbs and the guys at Space.com were tickled by it when we all went to his house shoot off amateur rockets.

#157 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2007, 02:43 PM:

Faren Miller #153: It's MacLachlan. He's dreamy. It's funny to see him described as "the guy in the Dune movie," because to me he'll always be Agent Cooper. Even now, when he's on Desperate Housewives.

#158 ::: Eleanor ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2007, 08:03 PM:

Fly Fishing by J. R. Hartley came from a Yellow Pages ad, and afterwards somebody wrote the book and published it under his name.

#159 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 04:48 PM:

ethan:
It's MacLachlan. He's dreamy. It's funny to see him described as "the guy in the Dune movie," because to me he'll always be Agent Cooper. Even now, when he's on Desperate Housewives.

A friend of mine is a friend of his, which is how I know that he showed up for a hospital scene where he dropped pants in Twin Peaks wearing Washington Huskies boxers, and that Lynch was mildly annoyed at having to set the camera angles up so you couldn't see them clearly.

#160 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 05:27 PM:

Bruce, do you realize that you've just forced me to search the series for that scene and see if I can see them?

#161 ::: Andrew F ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 01:08 PM:

T-shirts are now available for such fictional companies as Weyland-Yutani (Alien movies), Tyrell Corporation (Blade Runner), ACME Blasting Powder Co. (Roadrunner cartoons), Polymer Records (Spinal Tap).

#162 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 01:19 PM:

Andrew F @ 160: Not to mention the 1973 Summerisle May Day Festival.

#163 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 01:25 PM:

Tim Walters #160: Oooh! Oh, hey everyone, if you were wondering what to get me for Christmas...

#164 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2007, 01:24 PM:

A Scooby Snack is also a froofy rum drink. It's green, and sometimes has whipped cream on top.

*looks innocent*

#165 ::: Carrie S. sees really horrid spam ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2008, 10:40 AM:

I'm going to sincerely believe that "Mike Ford" is the spammer's real name, because otherwise I'll find him and beat the shit out of him.

#166 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2009, 11:47 PM:

Claude@114, Julie@121, on blackface Morris - While the "Dark Morris" wikipageia is gone, the pages on "Border_Morris" and "Molly_dance" talk about Morris dance traditions and retrads using blackface. It was originally mostly for disguise, often as a trick-or-treat thing, and well predated the American blackface minstrel shows.
There's a Palo Alto area Morris side called Mad Molly who dance in blackface and motley.

#167 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2009, 05:04 PM:

Alex Cohen #47: Does the Litany Against Fear count? How about the Jedi religion?

Well, Pagans will swipe anything! (Though the Litany is reasonably consistent with known psychology....) Besides the aforementioned Black Morris, I've known self-described "edge witches", a la Pratchett. Heinlein's "water circles" also got adopted by fans, somewhat to his bemusement. (Stranger, like Discworld, was meant to be satirical.)

#168 ::: Lloyd Burchill ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2010, 05:38 PM:

Stay Puft marshmallows: now freshly defictionalized!

#169 ::: siriosa ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2011, 02:52 AM:

David Harmon @168:
As an edge witch myself, I would happily display any number of Pratchett's inventions in my home. In the same cabinet as the Biting Pear of Salamanca, based on a painting by Ursula Vernon.

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