Thursday, May 1, 1997

1997: So Long, Farewell to Mir

We started off the morning with a missing burner. Despite that setback, chef David Rose guided our team to an incredible 21st place finish in the Judges' Chili competition. (Out of 22 teams.)

Situated directly across from the hated Chili Con Barney team and next to Chili AsCan Carne (the 1996 Astronaut Class), we managed to keep ourselves in the spotlight. We pulled off a 2nd place finish in the Grapefruit Pass and 1st place finish in the spoons, though our space trivia team left something to be desired. Placing just out of the money in beer chug, we were in the running for Pyramid Build (under 8 seconds in practice, with the New Fat Boyz What Don't Climb) until it inexplicably collapsed. Nonetheless, we were good enough for a second consecutive 2nd Place Showmanship Trophy.

We brought back an old favorite -- the water balloon launcher, which gave us a bit of trouble due to being deep in the trees, until we learned how to aim the balloon so that it dropped its water over the intended target. We nixed the pre-cookoff idea of putting pudding in the balloons. Jeers to the guy who got upset about getting wet and threw his beer on a Surfer. Unfortunately, Sally's cherry bombs were a bit weak. The tequila shots, as always, were a big hit (especially with some of the Ascans), although JSC Center Director George Abbey politely declined a shot.

And a new favorite was introduced -- Jello Shot Twister, in which the appropriately colored jello shot was consumed before the player moved their hand or foot. A good time was had by all.

This year's skit: a look behind the scenes at Jerry Linenger's "Letters to My Son", based on Jerry's real letters to his son about life aboard the Russian space station Mir. We ended with a rousing rendition by The Surfin' von Trapp Family Singers singing "So Long, Farewell to DT" (DT is the mail code for the Astronaut Training Division).

FOD Awards:

  • 2nd Place trophy for Showmanship
  • 1st Place ribbon for Spoon Pass
  • 2nd Place ribbon for Grapefruit Pass

Once again, we lost the showmanship trophy !@*&!#^%*$ Barney team, for the second year in a row. (We think our "So Long, Farewell" skit may have hurt us, seeing as how one of the judges is a manager in the Training Division). Despite the fact that Surfin' Chili was ISO 9000 Certified, we could tell there was definitely a conspiracy against us this year, since our propaganda, skit, and activities kicked Barney's butt. We're gonna have to try harder next year...

Oh, and since Tim has left, it appears that Gabe may be the devil now.

See Surfin' Chili in action! Jesse Pollard of was at the cookoff filming the proceedings. There's a whole page devoted to the 1997 Johnson Space Center Annual FOD Chili Cook-Off; we were there under the "smartass comments" section. (Sadly, the 1997 chili cookoff site has since been removed - this is the Internet Archive Wayback Machine's 2001 archive, and all it has is the text, no video.)

1997 flyer: ISO 9000

Two flyers we passed out at the 1997 cookoff:

(ISO 9000)

  • ISO 9000 is a series of standards and guidelines that define the minimum requirements for an effective quality system accepted internationally.

Surfin’ Chili is the only chili cookoff team that is
ISO-9000 certified!

  • Surfin’ Chili is committed to providing a quality chili cookoff experience through rigorous application of our ISO 9000 certified beer chug, cherry bomb, booth, pyramid build, skit, tie-dying, and chili preparation processes.

Products and services required for the core functions of chili cookoffs:

Chili engineering and design * chili cook training * chili life sciences research * chili management * chili operations * space trivia * beer chug * cherry bomb * skit preparation * booth decoration * tie-dying party

(ISO 9000)

  • ISO 9000 is a series of standards and guidelines that define the minimum requirements for an effective quality system accepted internationally.

Surfin’ Chili is the only chili cookoff team that is
ISO-9000 certified!

ISO 9000 Requirements Surfin’ Chili Requirements
4.1 Management Responsibility What management?
4.2 Quality System Nothing spoiled
4.3 Design Control Booth built by "Fat Boys What Don’t Climb"
4.4 Document and Data Control Get recipe from Internet
4.5 Process Control Wing it
4.6 Inspection and Testing If you don’t like how it tastes, add some more stuff
4.7 Control of Nonconforming Product Ask "Wrong Stuff"; they’ve got non-conforming chili
4.8 Control of Quality Records Put info on our web site
4.9 Internal Quality Audits Prep the night before
4.10 Statistical Techniques Count the Judge’s and People’s Choice ballots

1997 skit: Jerry Linenger: Letters to My Son

Welcome to another presentation by the Surfin’ Chili Players. Jerry Linenger has been writing a series of public letters to his son about what life is like on Mir. Today we present a behind-the-scenes look at what’s really going on aboard Mir.

Letter #1

Narrator: Dear John,

What a thrill it is to be orbiting the earth aboard the space station Mir! This is mankind’s pioneer spirit at work... living aboard a pioneer.... uh, chuckwagon.

Sitting on the launch pad four days ago, with all my hopes and expectations, I thought I was prepared for my upcoming adventure... but oh, was I mistaken! Sure, John Blaha spent hours this past week familiarizing me with the facility...

Blaha: There are 4 emergency exits aboard the Kvant module, and another 3 in Spekter. In case of a water landing your seat cushions may be used as a flotation device. In the event of a fire, your oxygen mask will drop from the ceiling. Just pull on the rubber hose and oxygen will flow. Place the mask over your head and breathe normally.

Narrator: ...and statusing me on the experiments. We exchanged gifts, took some pictures, and transferred loads of equipment to my new home. Yes, son, I was prepared for all of that.

But when the 81 crew sealed the hatches and Atlantis was on its way, it wasn’t very long before my new companions changed the Flight Plan. Who was it that said ‘In Space, No One Can Hear You Scream’....

Russian #1: [holding a lacy teddy] Blaha always have wear size 12!

Russian #2: [winking] Coochie, coochie, Jerry!

Jerry: [runs away from Russians]

Letter #2

Narrator: Dear John,

After just a couple of weeks up here, you begin to miss the many conveniences of home... fresh food, running water, clean-smelling clothes. As you might imagine, the arrival of new supplies makes for a pretty exciting day aboard Mir. I can hardly describe the wonderful sight as we spotted Progress, at first a bright and distant star....

[All three cosmonauts watching the approach, getting gradually more and more excited...]

...growing... closing in on our outpost in space. The... anticipation... [panting] building.... [panting] BUILDING... Moving so fast... no, no... slow down... OK...OH,YES! Coming closer....cooomminnngg cllloooossserrr.....CLOSER!

Russian #1: [trying to steer with joystick]

Russian #2: Leftsky! Rightsky! More rightsky! Straightsky!

Jerry: [screaming, sitting in chair trying to "swim" through air away from hatch]

Heckler in audience: Isn't it inappropriate having a member of management represent Progress?

[SILENCE -- Progress suddenly stops]

Narrator: Windows has detected an illegal operation. This application will be terminated.

[Progress gyrates wildly]

All: [GROAN!]

[sheer chaos breaks out]

Sound effect:[CRASH!!]

[Progress collides and knocks everyone to the floor]

Letter #3

[Cosmonauts with backs to audience -- sunglasses on, preparing plants, etc.]

Narrator: Dear John,

The life of a researcher is seldom exciting... hours of boredom separated by a few thrilling moments. The days are dragging on, my son. Move one sample here, another there. Draw blood... Recover attitude control... The same routine over and over again. But yesterday we made an unexpected discovery in our microgravity garden. You may have heard how well our wheat crop has been growing in the last month. But- heh, heh!- Shannon and John were growing more than just wheat up here! And it IS the SEASON OF HARVEST!!

Sound Effects: [Low Rider music]

[Cosmonauts turn around]

All: [rolling joints and partying!]

Letter #4

[Jerry searching the horizon with binoculars]

[Russians are off to the side checking navigation instruments and attitude control system, discussing in a low voice]

Narrator: Dear John,

It is with you and you alone that I am able to confide. Throughout my stay, I have reserved 15 minutes every day for plain, simple stargazing. I never grow tired of observing the universe from this unique vantage point -- the bright blue earth below, cutting into the deep, dark heavens above. The stars seem closer from here, like you could almost touch them. Something new to see in all directions.

But yesterday, John, I... I just don’t know what it was. I’ve been here so long son! Your mind wanders. It becomes difficult to judge the unexpected from the impossible.

You see, I was observing that spectacular comet when, all of a sudden....

[styrofoam comet with streamers and a sparkler whizzes by, followed by fanatics]

Heaven’s Gate Fanatics: [normal voices] "The Mothership!" "Our time has come!" "We want to transcend!" "Onward to the next reality!"

[Then, with high voices]: All: "Wait for us! Here we come! Wait for us!" "Where is my pudding and applesauce?"

Letter #5

Narrator: Dear John,

As a famous poet once said, "When the going gets tough, it all hits the fan"?

[O2 generator is set off: a smoke bomb in a can, labeled "Valu-Jet"]

All: Run around holding throat like choking and fight over available O2 mask

Letter #6

Narrator: Star Date 20222*5*10

Dear John [smirk], Johnny-boy! Oh, boy! Oh, ho, ho! I don’t think we’re in Kansas any more! Oh no, uh-uh.

[John Belushi style -- shift eyes, left and right]

One smart man, he felt smart; Two smart men, they felt smart; Three smart men, they smelled fart! Ha, ha, ha! [Cough, cough, cough] That’s not all they smelled -- soot! Ethelyne glycol! Yeeaaah!

This is Captn Jerry to ground control... and I'm feeling very scared... I'm floating in a most peculiar way...

[Russians discussing and pointing at Jerry]

Mr. Sulu, evasive action - hard to port, hard to starboard! Scottie, more power to the shields... where is my warp drive? Mr. Spock, damage report! Chekov, fire photon torpedoes! Where is Yeoman Rand? Scotty, GET ME OUTTA HERE!!!!

Letter #7

Narrator: Dear John,

Today I received word that Jim Halsell and the 83 crew had to abort their mission after only 4 days...

Jerry: Those LUCKY BASTARDS!!!!

[Crushes letter and throws it to the ground]

Letter #8

[Russians putting Jerry in straight jacket]

Narrator: Dear John,

(in British accent) This is your Uncle Mike writing, Mike Foale. We docked Atlantis to the Mir today and picked up your dad. He seems real happy after his four-month visit... and he can’t wait to sing you songs when he gets home!

Sound Effects: [Blue Danube music]

Jerry: "Daisy, daisy, give me your answer do... I’m half crazy all for the love of you..."

Russian #1: [holding teddy] Jerry always have wear size 12!

Russian #2: [winking] Coochie, coochie, Mike!

Mike Foale: [look toward audience]

Once again, folks -- we are Surfin' Chili, the first chili team with its own official web site! Before we leave, we have an extra treat for you. The Surfin' von Trapp Family Singers would like to convey a special message to you on behalf of all those who have recently left the Training Division. Ladies and Gentlemen: The Surfin' von Trapp Family Singers .....!

The Surfin' von Trapp Family Singers


(sung to the tune from "The Sound of Music")

It's FOUR in the morning, and we must still be on console,
Even though the crew went home at TWO!
Reinvent DT cases; everywhere, empty places!
It's plenty enough to drive you cuckoo!

(From the background) Cuckoo! Cuckoo!

"We're fixing it," they tell us,
But this only compels us
To say good bye to you!

So long! Farewell! Aufwiedersehn! Good night!
I hate to go and not complete my flight!

So long! Farewell! Aufwiedersehn! Good bye!
My briefing this week we'll give to the new guy!

So long! Farewell! Au'voire! Aufwiedersehn!
I'd like to stay but not for what they're paying!

So long! Farewell! Aufwiedersehn! Adeiu!
No raise. No praise. You'd think they'd get a clue!

Before I go, I heave a heavy sigh.
Will the last to go please turn out the light?

To Lockheed-Martin we go off to apply!
So long! Farewell! Aufwiedersehn! Good bye!

Good bye! Good bye! Good bye!

Narrator: Michael Grabois
Jerry: Ed Schoenstein
Russian #1: Ed
Russian #2: Julia Dobrinskaya
Blaha: Aaron Frith
Progress: David Rose
Heckler: Jeff Schickner
Heaven's Gaters: Brad Sharp, Mark Fleming
Hale-Bopp: ?
Mike Foale: Michael Grabois
song narrator: Roje Yap