Tag Archives: magazine

Unpopular Science

15 Apr

April 15, 2015

A couple of issues back, Popular Science (their motto: we’re not really popular, we just have a big ego) published an article about how to build a DIY hovercraft. For those of you not in the know, DIY means “do it yourself,” which is what I plan to tell my kids someday.

So “Hey,” I thought. “I always wanted to ride around in a hovercraft.” So I read a little further and found that it was an article about how to build a DIY hovercraft out of a pair of paper plates.

Clearly I was not going to do much hovering on that.

But hey, I kept reading and for sure, I learned a few things.

1- I would need to go out and buy three small fans (with particular wiring requirements)
2- I would have to use a drill and attach the fans with certain screws that I would also have to buy somewhere to the paper plates.
3- I repeat- I would be using a power tool to put a tiny hole in a paper plate. Isn’t a safety pin good enough?

I already had the paper plates, but I did not have the fans with the particular wiring requirements, the right size screws, a bracket to hold the batteries, or the technical ability to follow the directions.

Making the “hovercraft,” and I use the term loosely as it is made of paper plates, required following a complex schematic and some precision drilling. And what did the article say I would end up with? I am paraphrasing, but it more or less said that I’d end up with an expensive paper plate that hovered an inch or two off the ground.

I’d get better results with a Frisbee and a dog in the park.

The month before, Popular Science had the directions to build some DIY electronic thing that had more warnings than your average Fukushima reactor. And what did it do? It was an umbrella stand that lit up when it was rainy out. Seriously.

Here is the actual hovercraft diagram from the magazine:


Helpful, isn’t it?

And here’s an actual step from the directions:

Saw two corners off each fan case, leaving the wired corner and the one opposite attached. Arrange the fans inside the top plate as in step 1, and pass nylon screws, from below, through the eight mounting holes in both the top plate and the fans.

Note that I have to use a saw to lop off part of the fans. For a paper plate toy!

I’m not sure this is worth losing a thumb over.

On their site you can also find an article on, and I swear I am not making this up, how to build a laser-sighted blowgun for only $3. What could possibly go wrong?

The Saturday Comics: Pizzazz

29 Jun

June 29, 2013


I remember this magazine, and especially the comic book ads for this magazine, but I was just a little too young to appreciate it. I saw it on the stands but I am not sure if I ever bought it. A Marvel Comics magazine, it featured articles on comics, Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica, as well as all kinds of pop culture and music. Pizzazz only ran 16 issues, from October 1977 to January 1979, so I was just 7 or 8 when this hit the stands, a few years too young to really be interested. And too bad, since I would have loved the cover featuring Superman, The Movie. (The caption from Superman on the cover reads: “I consider it the greatest honor of my long career to be on the cover of a Marvel magazine.” DC and Marvel are fierce competitors, then and now.)

Stan Lee never looked this good in his life.

Stan Lee never looked this good in his life.

Here is the Wikipedia entry, which is decidedly short on pizazz:

Recurring features included a comic about Amy Carter’s life as the President’s daughter, a serialized Star Wars comic, and a one-page comic by Harvey Kurtzman (typically a “Hey Look!” piece done for the Marvel predecessor Timely Comics in the 1940s) on the last page. Regular columns included the reader dream-analyzing “Dream Dimensions” and the advice column “Dear Wendy.” Once the magazine was established, a regular feature was a full-page illustration of some crowded scene in which the names of readers who had written letters to the magazine were hidden. The covers showed either photos of popular celebrities, or photo-realistic drawings of celebrities and/or Marvel superheroes. Shaun Cassidy was featured on six covers, The Hulk appeared on five covers, Spider-Man on four, and Peter Frampton on three.

Topics mentioned in the magazine included (but weren’t limited to):

  • The original Star Wars movie
  • Grease
  • Meat Loaf
  • The movie Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
  • Battlestar Galactica
  • Superman: The Movie

The early installments of the serialized Star Wars comic featured in Pizzazz have the distinction of being the first original (i.e., not directly adapted from the films) Star Wars material to appear in print form, preceding the 1978 novel Splinter of the Mind’s Eye by several months, as well as the introduction of original stories in Marvel’s own monthly Star Wars title.

Six Shaun Cassidy covers? SWOON! (And one Meat Loaf. One sweaty bloated Meat Loaf cover.)

I now leave you with a gallery of all sixteen covers of a magazine which, had I been a little older, I would have been all over. Click on the thumbnails to enlarge.

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