Saturday, June 17, 2006

Building a Universe, Guilty Pleasures, Space Angel, and a Quiz

BUILDING A UNIVERSE

“It was the Russians who explored and colonized the solar system, and then the stars. Fueled by Siberian oil profits, their huge rocket boosters launched from the Baykonur, Plesetsk, and Kapustin Yar cosmodromes. Paralyzed by economic and social collapse, the Americans could only watch as their former rival led the nations of the world into space. And when man unexpectedly made contact with intelligent life from off the earth, the first greeting was spoken in Russian.”

And so begins the introduction to my Kosmosflot science fiction series of stories. Creating a new universe is no mean feat for a writer. Mine is a work in progress, and I will be sharing some views of this new universe here on the Kosmosflot blog. From time to time I may bounce some ideas out to my blog readers and see what works. I hope it may be entertaining and interesting. And I think posting a writer’s blog will reinforce my B-I-C (bum-in-chair) quota for writing stories set in the Kosmosflot universe.

GUILTY PLEASURES

We all have them, even though we are loathe to admit it. Maybe it’s greasy pork rinds, a favorite worn-out pair of jeans, or some strange music that we would never want our friends to know that we enjoy. Here’s Captain Kosmos’ Top Ten Guilty Pleasure List of SF and Horror Films:

1. Samson vs. The Vampire Women (1965)
2. The Day the Earth Froze (1964)
3. Voyage to a Prehistoric Planet (1965)
4. Journey to the Far Side of the Sun (1969)
5. The Forbidden Zone (1980)
6. Attack of the Mushroom People (1963)
7. The H-Man (1959)
8. Fury of the Wolfman (1970)
9. Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)
10. Mars Attacks (1997)

In future blogs I’ll fess up and tell you why I love watching these wierd, sometimes awful movies over and over. God help me. To make a feeble attempt to balance my readers’ opinions of me after seeing this list, next time I’ll post (without shame) my Top Ten All-Time Favorite List of Best SF and Horror Films. And I invite you all to send your own list of Guilty Pleasure SF/Horror films in the Comments section.

SPACE ANGEL

One of the earliest SF animated series that had an impact on me was Cambria Studios’ SPACE ANGEL. It appeared on Indiana’s WTTV Channel 4 early evening children’s programming in 1962. Cambria’s first series, CLUTCH CARGO, is more widely remembered. You know, “the cartoon where the only thing that moved was the lips.” Clutch never really drew my interest, but when I saw and heard the first scenes from SPACE ANGEL, I was hooked.

Alex Toth, the famous cartoon artist, designed the characters, and produced a TV series that looked very much like a comic book on the screen. Toth would later design SPACE GHOST and worked on other animated characters like JONNY QUEST for Hanna-Barbera. After watching hours of Popeye, Huckleberry Hound, and Crusader Rabbit, seeing the fantastic SF images of SPACE ANGEL knocked my eyes out.


SPACE ANGEL’s rocket ship, The Starduster, was truly beautiful, a classic late 50s/early 60s design, and the interior shots looked like a real cockpit in all its complexity. SPACE ANGEL (Astronaut-Lawman Scott McCloud) would snap the ship’s hand-held throttle forward, and, more often than not, an intriguing space adventure would begin.

Some SPACE ANGEL trivia: Taurus, the ship’s engineer, spoke with a Scottish accent, and was portrayed by the voice of famous character actor Hal Smith, best known as Otis the Drunk on THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW.

One of my favorite SPACE ANGEL episodes was when the Starduster encounters what they think is an unexpected meteor swarm, and one “meteor” lodges in the rocket engine exhaust pipe. When Taurus goes EVA to extricate the stuck space rock, he discovers it to be a small, spherical spacecraft. The little alien guy inside pops the top hatch on his sphere-ship as Taurus is working to clear the ship’s engine. Poor Taurus gets zapped by the mean mini-alien’s blaster rifle, again and again. The tale continues as Scott and the Stardust crew assist the uncommunicative alien to rejoin the fleet of sphere ships and return to his home in deep space.

The other most memorable SPACE ANGEL episode was when Taurus is taken prisoner on a world that mimics ancient Roman society, and is forced to pilot a giant gladiator robot in an arena. Giant robots weren’t common in 1962 like they are now, and it was great fun to watch the robo combat.

I wish the entire SPACE ANGEL series would be released on DVD. But until that happens, two episodes are available from
http://www.bijouflix.com/, at this url:

http://www.bijouflix.com/goods/bijou_store1vcd_S.htm#spaceangel

CAPTAIN KOSMOS’ QUIZ

OK, boys and girls, ladies and gentlemen, here’s the Captain’s first SF-Space-Horror Quiz. The first reader who correctly answers the quiz will win one copy of THEY CAME FROM PLANET MANGA from TOKYOPOP, a $7.99 value Japanese-style manga comic book of preview stories. And the first question is:


In the classic SF film ROBINSON CRUSOE ON MARS (Paramount Pictures - 1964), Astronaut Kit Draper (Paul Mantee) is forced to eject from the Mars Gravity Probe 1 mothership, and makes an unexpected first landing on the Red Planet. Following the early 1960s tradition of astronauts naming their space capsules, what was the name of Draper’s landing craft?

Please post your answers in the comments area.

That’s enough for the first shot here on Kosmosflot.
D’os Vadanya.

CAPTAIN KOSMOS



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6 Comments:

At 1:23 AM EDT, Blogger Lita Makoto said...

I can't remember the name but it's got to be

MGP-A1 Elinosomthingm

 
At 9:16 AM EDT, Blogger Captain Kosmos said...

You're close, Lisa. But Kosmosflot regulations require the exact name. Please try again, or watch the movie again if you can find a print. Tough to do, since it's out of print.

S'pasiba,

CAPTAIN KOSMOS

 
At 1:29 AM EDT, Blogger Lita Makoto said...

MGP-A1 Elinor M

Ha!

 
At 7:08 AM EDT, Blogger Captain Kosmos said...

Elinor M is correct! Congratulations Lita.

Please go to Captain Kosmos' profile and email what address you wish the prize manga to be mailed to.

Captain Kosmos

 
At 3:11 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I loved your Space Angel blog; I remember the program fondly but had entirely forgotten those cool gladiator machines! Do you remember anything about the episodes where they went to a planet where an evil scientist had a machine that drained people's memories onto tape and replaced the personalities of Crystal and Taurus? Space Angel hypnotized them with his special ring to bring them back to normal.

 
At 6:37 PM EDT, Blogger Still Struggling with Ceaseless Chaos said...

What a great blog! I LOVED Space Angel when I was a kid; and - as you say - the Starduster was SUCH a beautiful ship! It's strange to me it never became a model kit or any such thing.... But nowadays, with "3D Printers", I suppose I could get one made...

Carry on, Captain Kosmos!!!

 

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