Way back when, Wednesdays

We are not alone

In celebration of 40 years since it first release on 16 November 1977, plans are in motion to remaster the iconic science fiction adventure film Close Encounters of the Third Kind and re-screen it in cinemas. It used to take some months for a film released overseas to reach Australia. Only selected cinemas had the right to show certain films, so audiences flocked to the Hoyts Regent cinemas in the Adelaide Arcade.

On page 16 of the Leader Messenger dated 5 July 1978, Tea Tree Plaza advertised a promotion designed to tie in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. To generate interest in the film, Tree Plaza hosted a display about UFOs, which was put together by the Australian Flying Saucer Research Society, in conjunction with Hoyts cinemas. This promotion also featured a special event, which was a talk by a member of the Society, with the incentive of winning free passes to see Close Encounters.

Close encounters

At this time, people were receptive to new cinematic science fiction experiences. Steven Spielberg had terrified and thrilled audiences with Jaws in Australia in 1975. Star Wars had been monumental – it had set the bar for special effects and excitement, when it was released in Australia in October 1977. Everybody was waiting for the next blockbuster movie. Sessions of Close Encounters of the Third Kind on evenings and weekends would book out in advance.

If you don’t know the story, Close Encounters of the Third Kind is focuses on a group of people who experience some sort of paranormal activity associated with alien contact.

Two parallel stories are told. Strange phenomena and sightings of UFOs are happening around the world, which according to a scale devised by UFO researcher Dr. Josef Allen Hynek, is a close encounter of the first kind. A team of scientists and experts including French scientist Claude Lacombe and his American interpreter and cartographer David Laughlin, are investigating these related incidents. For example, military planes which disappeared in 1945 have suddenly reappeared in the desert but without their pilots.

In Muncie, Indiana, in the USA, Roy Neary (played by Richard Dreyfuss) refuses to accept conventional explanations for his encounter with an unidentified flying object. After this close encounter of the second kind, he becomes obsessed with pursuing the truth. Single mother Jillian Guiler (played by Melinda Dillon) and her young son Barry have similar experiences.

Integral to the film’s plot is a musical sequence of five tones enabling humans and aliens to communicate. In India witnesses report that UFOs make these distinctive sounds. Both Roy and Jillian have repeated visions of a mountain and the five musical notes run through their minds. When the scientists broadcast the musical notes into space they receive a response, a series of numbers repeated over and over. Cartographer Laughlin, interprets this data as geographical coordinates, for the Devils Tower near Moorcroft, Wyoming.

Defying a cover-up and military action by the American government, all of these characters follow the clues they have been given to reach a site where they will have a close encounter of the third kind: contact. The film was groundbreaking in its depiction of aliens as peaceful beings who wish to get to know humanity, rather than trying to take over the Earth or eat us. After their cinema experience, people could look up in the sky and think that perhaps we were not alone.

Alien

These were exciting times. Close Encounters of the Third Kind was a critical and financial success. It was nominated for several Academy Awards but the film only won one, for cinematography. It also won several other film industry awards. A disco adaption of the five note sequence charted as high as 13 on the US Billboard Hot 100 in March 1978.

John Williams would write many other beautiful, memorable film soundtracks and be arguably the best known composer of classical music in modern times. Steven Spielberg would direct a trove of acclaimed and popular films, and become the highest grossing director by worldwide box office ($9.246 billion) wikipedia.org. What would be the next science fiction/fantasy blockbuster? Superman released in 1978, which made a star of Christopher Reeves.

#waybackwhenwednesdays

Did you know….about Harry Potter

Harry_Potter_and_the_Philosopher's_Stone_Book_CoverWell…who doesn’t know about Harry Potter, right?

Seriously though, did you know that Monday June 26th 2017 will mark the 20th anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone? That’s right, the series about the boy wizard is turning 20!

The book was author JK Rowling’s debut novel and was far from an overnight success. Indeed, Rowling began writing the novel in 1990 while riding on a train. According to an interview the author gave in 2009, the idea just hit her of a boy riding a train to wizard school. The death of her mother influenced much of the writing process.

The book was not well received by publishers and agents who felt that it was too long for a children’s book. That is, until Barry Cunningham of Bloomsbury recommended the publishers accept the book based on the recommendation of his eight-year-old daughter.

With seven books, eight films, a stage play and now a spin-off series of films, the rest, as they say, is history.

The library will be holding events from 10:00-1:00 this Saturday to celebrate the occasion so why not come along or maybe re-read the books, play or films.

BTW – Did you know that the books are actually set in the early-to-mid 1990s? You can work this out from information provided by Gryffindor ghost Nearly Headless Nick. In the Harry Potter and the Chamber of  Secrets, he celebrates his 500th ‘Death Day’ which occurred on October 31st, 1492, meaning that book takes place during 1992-1993!

Anstey’s Diary – Operation Echidnanaut – Entry VI

Pow, pow, pow! Take that!

Pow, pow, pow! Take that!

So…according to New Scientist it turns out ELVES is actually a reference to Emissions of Light and Very Low Frequency and not actual pointy-eared creatures…that’s a little disappointing…

Anyway, here we are, the final week before launch. I’ve spent more time in the simulator and even got the chance to get behind the stick of an F18 simulator at the end of last week which was great fun. I managed to shoot down eight enemy planes…unfortunately, landing is still a problem…

I also got to have a look at my launch vehicle!

Most of this week however has been spent in quarantine. Apparently astronauts can get sick in space as microgravity appears to weaken the immune system. Standard NASA practice is for Astronauts to undergo a physical exam 10 days before launch to make sure they’re not already infected and then go into quarantine about seven days before launch.

In the pilot seat...a little more exposed than I was expecting!

In the pilot seat…a little more exposed than I was expecting!

It’s very boring, but I have a good selection of books and some of my favourite movies to watch like 2001: A Space Odyssey, episodes of Star Trek and of course the full Star Wars saga! Lord Quokka suggested Alien but I’m not trusting him again after that Apollo 13 fiasco!

I have another medical check today and then a final pre-flight check right before launch.

It’s hard to believe that after all this time, all the planning and training we’re almost ready. I hope to see you all on Saturday for the launch. I’m really excited…and more than a little nervous…

Wish me luck!

Anstey’s Diary – Operation Echidnanaut – Entry V

What was Lord Quokka thinking, recommending a film like Apollo 13?

It was a horror story of everything that could go wrong in a space mission. Yes they got back safe and sound in the end, but oh my lord!

After watching that, I’m wasn’t entirely sure I wanted to go anymore. Fortunately, I have now seen the vehicle and it is a lot less…complicated…than an Apollo capsule.

No, I will be going up using a High Altitude Balloon. This will take me up to anywhere between 25 and 38 kilometres. To put that into perspective, the highest flying commercial aircraft don’t go higher than 15 kilometres, so bare minimum, I will be 10 000m above them, even the USAF’s High Altitude Reconnaissance Aircraft, the Lockheed U2 only flies up to 21 kilometres. In fact, most likely, the only people higher than me will be the three astronauts in the International Space Station.

Posing for the media with some of my friends…and a human…

Posing for the media with some of my friends…and a human…

At that height I will be operating in what is known as ‘Black Space’ and able to see the curvature of the earth and even Transient Luminous Events (AKA Ionospheric Lightning or Blue Jet Phenomena). I’ve even heard that there are ELVES up there!

I’ve also heard that a special song to commemorate my flight has been recorded! I stopped in at the studio after training yesterday to have a listen. It was pretty amazing, I especially liked the line “Greatest of Monotremes“! Take that Platypus…think you’re so great with your swimming and poison sting…

I also did a photo shoot for the press today. Apparently they needed a human as well, but I was able to invite some of my friends to participate. I think the results were pretty good!

Anstey’s Diary – Operation Echidnanaut – Entry IV

Hi everyone,

Exciting times, I got to try on my helmet for the first time today. Not sure about it

Trying on my helmet...it's a bit tight!

Trying on my helmet…it’s a bit tight!

though,there really isn’t any room for my snout.

I also had to start doing some High-G training. Apparently a “G” represents the normal force of gravity a body is subjected to here on earth. During space launches of flying jet fighters, the amount of “G-Force” the body is subjected to can cause something called G-Induced Loss of Consciousness or G-LoC. Obviously, losing consciousness is not something you want to do when at the controls of a spacecraft!

In order to train for this, one spends time in a something called a Centrifuge.These devices spin out around at high speeds in order to help you build up your tolerance for the G-Forces. Normally, they look something like this one here:

NASA Centrifuge

NASA Centrifuge

 

Now, that looked pretty scary, but I figured I could handle it, and the machine looked pretty sturdy and it was built by professionals with decades of experience.

 

Unfortunately this is what I was subjected to:

Get me out of here!!!

Get me out of here!!!

It was possibly one of the most unpleasant experiences of my life! All those extra termites were not a good idea! Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin or Andy Thomas were never suck in a bag and spun around over someone’s head!

I have decided to take my mind of the whole experience by watching that Tom Hank’s movie Lord Quokka suggested Apollo 13. Apparently it’s about one of the moon missions in the 1970s. I won’t be going that far, but I’m sure I will learn a thing or two from it.

Anstey’s Diary – Operation Echidnanaut – Entry III

Hi all, it’s your favourite Monotreme Astronaut here.

Sorry it’s been a while since I updated my space mission diary, but there have been a few snags. Apparently Civic Park can’t be used as a launch site due to it being in a major flight path for the Adelaide Airport.

While Mission Chief David Brooks entered negotiation and searched for a new launch site, I decided to go on a journey of self-discovery down Route 66 in the United States. You can check out some of my photos on the library Facebook and Instagram pages.

After much searching, a new launch site has been found and the mission has been given a green light, of course the mission has now had to be pushed back. Our new launch date is December 3rd.

Since the green light was given, I have been hard at work training. Space travel can be

Pushing iron! Feel the burn!

Pushing iron! Feel the burn!

quite traumatic, particularly the launch and the landing. Space Adaption Syndrome or Space Motion Sickness as it is more commonly known is a real problem and can be triggered just by a subtle change in gravity! Some of the symptoms include drowsiness, headaches and nausea. Apparently three out of four astronauts experience Space Motion Sickness.

Another danger is loss of muscle mass and bone density due to exposure to a ‘weightless’ environment. Without the effects of gravity, astronauts put almost no weight on the muscles in their spine and legs to maintain posture. To counter this, I am working out every day and eating a high protein diet. I’m not sure if eating all those extra termites is actually going to help, but it is a sacrifice I am willing to make!

Apparently there are dangers from exposure to radiation as well, the levels in low orbit are 10 times what we receive down here on Terra Firma and could cause all kinds of damage to the body…but I’ve seen the Fantastic Four movies, maybe I’ll get superpowers!

Don'tcrashdon'tcrashdon'tcrash!

Don’tcrashdon’tcrashdon’tcrash!

I’ve also been spending a lot of time in the simulator practicing take-off, flight and landing. I still don’t know exactly what vehicle I will be piloting, so I am covering all of the basics, from an Apollo mission Saturn V to the Russian Soyuz series to the Space Shuttle. Take off is pretty easy, as is controlled flight in the upper atmosphere and orbit, but landing is proving to be a bit…bumpy…

I’m going to take some time off this weekend and watch a movie to relax. My friend Lord Quakka has suggested Apollo 13

3 minutes of poetic fame

new-inc

The Writes of Spring

Open mic poetry readings at the Library

11800067 - microphone and swirling text

Wednesday 28 September 2016

6.30 – 7.30pm (spectators) 6.00 – 7.30pm (performers)

North Eastern Writers Inc. will be presenting a free evening of poetry at the Library ‘The Writes of Spring’ on Wednesday 28 September 2016.

Come along to the Relaxed Reading Area of the Library and hear a range of emotive poetry and prose readings from members of the North Eastern Writers and the general public.

Or if you are a budding poet why not perform your piece? It costs $5 to participate and there is a three minute limit for each performer.  Registration is from 6pm.  Bare your soul, make a social comment, make us laugh or rap.  Whatever your style of poetry, you will be welcome.

A wine and cheese supper will be served.  Book online or telephone the Library on      8397 7333.