Sunday, December 30, 2007

What I've Learned Today -- Via Internet, of Course

As easy as it is to take the Internet for granted (I figure I've been online for about 15 years now, over half of my married life), there are times when I suddenly realize what a powerful, helpful and entertaining medium it really is. Because of sleeping in, my cold and the cold outside (by Tucson standards, that is), I haven't left the house today -- nor needed to. Sitting in front of my computer for the better part of the last twelve hours, I've learned the following:

  1. Bruce Gordon, a Disney Imagineer who wrote a series of entertaining and controversial Starlog articles about Back to the Future and a guidee to that film's shooting locations, also wrote or co-wrote a number of Disney-related books, at least one of which I own (Disneyland: Then, Now and Forever). I say "at least one" because I think John has a copy somewhere of Disneyland: The Nickel Tour, which is a history of the park told through old postcards. I invoked his name months ago in a Wikipedia article about Back to the Future, only to get his first name wrong. No one caught the error until after someone finally asked yesterday for clarification on who he was. I tracked down the locations article, and belatedly saw that his first name was Bruce, not Bob. D'oh! Researching him further, I discovered that he died in early November 2007. Aww, Bruce, why'd you have to go and die on me at age 56, before I even got your name right? From what I read, he fought hard for quality at the parks, helped to keep the Submarine Voyage from being plowed under forever, was largely responsible for Splash Mountain, and liked to prove Walt Disney's adage that "It's kind of fun to do the impossible."
  2. F-M Facts. It's hard to document aspects of my old high school that don't involve academics or sports, but really, there's a lot online, some of it written by me! Bits of the Fayetteville-Manlius High School article on Wikipedia appear on lots of other websites, including text I wrote. Unfortunately, one of my best sources, a district history and trivia article by my old vice principal Platt Wheeler, is no longer online. Because of that, I am unable to "prove" that the school newspaper has been called The Hornet's Nest, The Sting and the Buzz at different points in its history. It all has to do with documenting the fact that the school (and to a lesser extent the district) latched onto one mildly interesting but rather unimportant fact from fifty years ago and designed its entire iconography around it. See, the old Fayetteville High School on Fayetteville-Manlius Road (at the Manlius St. end of things) had a 200-year-old oak tree, and hornets nested in it. That's it. That old school, just a mile down the road from where I grew up, is where I changed buses in kindergarten when I went to Pebble Hill School. The oak tree is long gone, and the high school is miles away, on the other side of Manlius. But because of that tree, the school colors are green and white, the athletic teams are the Hornets, the yearbook is called Oakleaves (one word), and the alma mater begins with the somewhat nonsensical words, "Guarded by the old oak tree/Symbol of our goal...." What goal is that, exactly? To be a haven for hornets?
  3. Is it a Spoiler if it's in the Sun? The amount of credence given to articles about Doctor Who in the The Sun newspaper in Britain varies based on whether fans like the idea or not, and whether it blatantly contradicts what is already known. Recently they claimed that an actress from AbFab was in talks to play the Doctor, and it was quickly dismissed. But when they claimed that the annual "Doctor lite" episode would be a Doctor-free episode (three companions, no Doctor), fewer fans rejected the notion out of hand. After all, the rag was right about John Simm as the Master, weren't they? Even so, fans are well aware of the paper's many false and somewhat malicious headlines about the show. As for episode 4.11 being Doctorless, that remains to be seen, literally. However, fans lucky enough to witness location shooting have reported seeing former companion Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) and new companion Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) in several scenes together, and no sign of David Tennant as the Doctor. One thing the paper got wrong for sure: it would not be unprecedented to have a Doctorless episode. There was no Doctor in "Mission to the Unknown," the lead-in to The Dalek Masterplan back in 1965. And both William Hartnell as the First Doctor and Patrick Troughton as the Second Doctor were occasionally missing from single episodes of serials, having been hit on the head, locked up, separated from the other characters, or dispatched to the TARDIS until they felt better.

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