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I’ve been to the Mission Control building here at the Strang Institute like a gajillion times, and every single time I enter I have to show my pass. Every single time. It’s not as if Ralph Peterson, the Institute security guard, doesn’t remember me. But he takes my card, puts it under the ultra violet light, holds it up overhead, turning it this way and that. Really the reason I think he does that is so it gives him time to regale me with one of his many stories of his years at the Institute. If it’s a particularly long story, he’ll radio for help to make sure I’m not some kind of spy or something. “You never know if someone’s an exact duplicate,” he says.
This evening’s story took place back in 1970, during the final months of Ellie’s training program, before she would go on a whirlwind tour to promote her mission. Many a foreign dignitary, or astronaut, or famous scientist, or Hollywood actor would come out to the Institute to meet Ellie and take a tour. It was quite the honor to be invited.
Well, it was rather well known around the Institute that a young Ralph Peterson had a little crush on Barbara Eden, an actress who played the title character on tv’s I Dream Of Jeannie, a sitcom about an astronaut who finds a genie bottle on the beach. And as luck would have it, not only was she a fan of Ellie, but she was asked to come to the Institute to meet her.
As Ralph tells the tale, he was all cool about the news of her arrival, though others claim he was a nervous wreck. But he gained some composure and when her car pulled up he introduced himself as Institute Security. Ralph claims there was a bit of a spark between the two of them. He claimed that he didn’t have any information on her visit, but if she would accompany him to dinner he’d make sure she would be able to meet Ellie.
Barbara Eden gave him a little wink and agreed to the date. When I asked Ralph if anything came of his date he explained that a gentlemen doesn’t tell. Then the door unlocked and he let me in.
While Mike Maihack is taking some time off to spend with his new baby, I’m filling in this week on his cool comic Cleopatra in Spaaaace! It’s the story of the young Egyptian ruler who is zapped into the future to fight in a centuries long war alongside her friend Khensu the cat. What could be more fun than that? Go see!
The authorized biography of Dr. Cornelius Strang is pretty much required reading here at the Institute. And at 2263 pages and thirteen pounds, it’s a hefty tome. But it’s definitely not a dull read. The Doctor was a pretty interesting guy which makes it difficult to put it down. That, and finding a piece of furniture to support it. Haha…yeah…
I’ll be sure to post an excerpt or two in the future. Now, back to reading!
Man, I should have gotten the digital version.
Last week I posted a drawing of the statue of Ellie that sits in front of the Mission Control building at the Strang Institute. Well here’s the building itself! You can see the famous telescope that Dr. Strang used in his discovery of Planet X way in back, and atop the building is the dish (one of many around the globe) used to receive Ellie’s transmissions from over eight light years away.
By the way, that’s me taking the Institute mascot, Bijou, out for her own mission: an afternoon pee and pull.
I was having a little discussion about the star that Planet X revolves around with Ellie reader Neutrino. It was pointed out to me that I’ve never actually stated which star it is except in some vague clue from time to time. Of course that was an accidental oversight on my part, and it took Neutrino to not only remind me, but also point out exactly which star it happens to be.
Another thing Neutrino reminded me was that Planet X’s parent star is only 200-300 million years old – not enough time for life to evolve. So the fact that there definitely is life there is not only an amazing discovery, it’s also a real mystery. Part of Ellie’s mission is to discover those answers. Anyway, Neutrino inspired me to go down to the archives and dig out this magazine article from the early 70s.
This is the statue of Ellie that sits out in front of the Mission Control building. On clear winter nights (like tonight) at the Strang Institute, she seems to be pointing right at Planet X’s position in the sky!
With the Hobbit movie coming out later this year, here’s a special treat! This is the very first film version of The Hobbit ever produced, created in a rush in 1966 to fulfill a licensing contract with J.R.R. Tolkien’s estate. It’s a very, very loose translation. Have a look see. But be forewarned that just enough of the plot is similar that it could be considered spoilerific!
The Digital Strips podcast just posted their list of best webcomics of the year. Host Steve Shinney picked Ellie on Planet X for his favorite out of all the other strips they reviewed this year! All of Mission Control is happy to be included with a ton of other great comics Steve and Jason reviewed. You can find the podcast here, and Ellie gets mentioned around the 29 1/2 minute mark. And you can listen to the review they did of Ellie back in October right here.
Thanks again Digital Strips!