Books, movies, politics, and whatever I want

Rocket City Rednecks

Sunday, December 29th, 2013

I discovered this show by reading one of Travis Talyor’s non-fiction books, A New American Space Plan.   While this post is about the TV show, pick up this book as well.  It’s a well laid out case of why American should be serious about getting into space again and how to do it.

Also take the time to watch the show, Rocket City Rednecks, either by streaming or on optical disk.   This show is about five self-identified Rednecks from Huntsville, AL, two of which are actual rocket scientists from NASA who actually build working gear.  Really cool gear that works.  OK, it works most of the time, but even when they fail, they learn from their mistakes so then can do it better the next time.  That is really one of the important lessons.  It’s OK to fail, as long as you learn from it.   Most of the gear is built in Travis’ father’s garage.   Charles Travis is a retired NASA machinist who worked on the Apollo program, and one of the five Rednecks who star in the show.

I’ve watched about a third of the first season so far, and they have built some really nifty gear so far.  These include a still in order to build a moonshine fueled rocket, the actual rocket, a balloon based observation platform, a working submarine, a radio telescope array using 18″ satellite dishes, under vehicle armor capable of withstanding an IED blast (they drove the pickup truck away afterwards), and a working “Iron Man” suit, that had armor capable of  stopping 9mm handgun rounds, lifting over 100 pounds with a single arm and fired rockets!

Just to add to the overall coolness of this, most of their projects are done over a single weekend with a budget of about $1000.  Keep in mind that three of these Rednecks are current or former NASA employees.  The two active ones have eight advanced degrees in science between them (Travis has five post-graduate degrees.  For those of you who know me, yes, that is one more than Amy currently has).  Rog (Rednect #4) doesn’t have any advanced degrees, but he does have a genius level IQ, and Michael (Travis’ nephew) is mechanically inclined and studying to be a machinist.   Still, if you know basic work working, basic welding, how to solder two wires together, and some basic programming, you and your friends could try some of this stuff.

Which is kinda the whole idea of the show.  To get kids off the XBox and out there building go carts, rockets, radio sets and other cool gear.

This is the kind of show my dad would have loved.  He was 22 year veteran of the Army Corps of Engineers, and would have been out teaching kids how to to build the things the Rednecks are building.

Originally published at Urbin Technology

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Quote of the Day

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

“Aaron Sorkin’s Newsroom. I watched it. I freaking love it but for the reasons you wouldn’t understand. It proves liberals are giving up and retreating back into Aaron’s world of make believe. It’s a left wing wet dream of a show. And everytime Aaron opens up his piehole and bloviates the democrats tend to lose elected office. Go for it Aaron, I hope CNN takes your advice to heart and becomes MSNBC Lite. So they can lose even more viewers.”


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Sunday SciFi: A Middleman/Doctor Who Crossover story

Sunday, December 11th, 2011

Written by Middleman creator Javier Grillo-Marxuach!

Part I

Part II

Part III


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Sunday SciFi: UFO

Sunday, November 27th, 2011

UFO was live action SciFi show from the puppet master himself, Gerry Andersen, that ran for a single season of 23 episodes back in 1970.

Great actors, dark thoughtful scripts that always didn’t have a happy ending, sharp miniature work, and a late 60s sense of style and fashion made this show really stand out.  Oh and the purple haired moon chicks in silver miniskirts.  The cast included Michael Billington, who, according his wikipedia entry, was screen tested for the role of James Bond more than any other actor.

The show also other cool eye candy, including the gull wing door cars, nuclear submarines with a jet fighter mounted on their bow, space interceptors and S.I.D. (Space Intruder Detector).  What really made the show was the dark, thought provoking scripts, complex characters and some fine acting by Billington, Ed Biship and Gabrielle Drake.

There is a UFO movie, based on the series in the works.  Currently scheduled for a Summer 2013 release.

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Sunday SciFi: The Middleman

Sunday, July 10th, 2011

I’ve only caught a few episodes so far from this one season wonder, but so far I really like The Middleman and his Sidekick Wendy Watson. It’s delightfully low budget, in an old school Doctor Who way, funny, a tribute to the pulp era, and the cast is clearly having fun.

The Middleman himself is a clean cut, all American, milk drinking former Special Forces veteran with authority issues and what appears to be a id case with Doctor Who’s psychic paper in it.  Hmmmm….a Doctor Who/Middleman crossover.  I’m sure there is some fan fic out there that covers it.

It’s good low budget fun entertainment.  It’s got robots, gadgets, blasters, intelligent apes, the supernatural and a spunky sidekick that steals the show.

It didn’t run in a drive-in, so I don’t know what Joe-Bob Briggs would say, but my advice is to check it out.

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