The Shuttle's Souvenir Load

20,000 flags and 10,000 patches aboard


The Shuttle's Souvenir Load
20,000 flags and 10,000 patches aboard

By Richard Connelly

If you're making the last-ever trip on the space shuttle, you want to make it count.

And if the list put together by is any indication, this last flight is taking along enough souvenirs to outfit a small army.

Almost all the items are put there by NASA to pass out later to foreign governments, support teams, contractors, politicians, anyone. The items fly in a (very, very tightly packed) duffel bag that stays stowed away the entire flight.

Each astronaut gets to take a small amount of personal items, as well.

What's on Atlantis:

6. Flags. Lots of Flags

Almost 22,000 flags, by our count — U.S. flags, state flags, flags of Russia, Japan, Canada and the other countries that have had shuttle astronauts, lots of flags. Including ones from NASCAR and the Texas Motor Speedway.

5. 200 Snoopy Pins

Snoopy has been an astronaut favorite since the Apollo days. The black-and-white head coverings the astronauts wore were called "Snoopy Hats," and the Apollo 10 lunar module was named for him (The command module was Charlie Brown in the last mission before NASA started exerting more control over what the astronauts could name their vehicles). Tradition requires NASA's prestigious Silver Snoopy award to consist of a space-flown Snoopy pin, and obviously having one from the last shuttle ride would be a nice plus.

4. An 8x5 Printed Recipe

No indication as to what delicious dish is involved, but the item comes from the Astronaut Crew Quarters at the Kennedy Space Center.

3. At least 10,223 Patches

NASA people love their patches, whether those patches deserve it or, sadly, don't. So there are plenty of patches going up on Atlantis. Most of them are from acronym-heavy subsets of the space program.

2. A CD of Tulane Graduates

A CD containing the names of every graduate of Tulane University from 1900 to 2007 is going up, for some reason — maybe an upcoming Treme subplot.

1. A Very Small Painting

The internetz don't reveal much about painter Scott Thoe, but he has a painting on board Atlantis. A very small painting. It's about one and a half by three inches. Thoe is from Norway, NASA says, so that must mean he is the guy in a video we found online. Which would indicate he also works in larger scales, since the YouTube description says it shows him working on a "project of building a bridge of 43,000 battle tanks on the Polish-German border."


Goodbye to Montrose's Creepiest Porn Store

By Richard Connelly

For years, the Talk of the Town adult bookstore on Richmond just west of Montrose has been a creepy oddity — from the outside, it looked like a shabby, about-to-fall-down barn, its fading red paint, lack of windows and seeming claustrophobic conditions inside adding to the non-allure.

Few adult bookstores look inviting, but this one looked like a place where you'd go to get your head chopped off by some crazed ax murderer. Adding a colorful "Interstate 420" mural only made it seem like it was trying to attract innocent weed-experimenting teens to what must have been the store cellar in Pulp Fiction.

The place burned down in a fire July 1, and a man inside was killed.

The Houston Fire Department says the blaze began about 10 in the morning and the building was believed to be empty, but later a body was found that had been crushed by falling debris. HFD says there were signs of forced entry, so they have deemed the fire to be suspicious.


There’s tons of stuff each day on the Houston Press blogs; you’re only getting a taste of it here in the print edition. Head to (or “/rocks” or “/eating” or “/artattack”).

Spaced City

We talked to Union Pacific about a foul-up that left a train blocking two key Galleria-area roads all morning (they were very sorry about any inconvenience to drivers, by the way); a teen let a friend drive his dad's Porsche Boxster and it erupted in flames, leading to a conversation no one wants to have (no one was hurt in the accident); we offered ways to beat the heat this long, hot summer, and we looked at the logistical and bureaucratic loopholes involved in trying to get help for what the drought is doing to your home's foundation.

Art Attack

We found out that life onstage isn't as glamorous as it sounds — at least not for an HGO supernumerary, who's had his share of spit in the face, too-tight tights and props thrown at him. We discovered that Nancy Reagan and Sylvester Stallone share a birthday, and bid farewell to artist Cy Twombly. We paid homage to our founding fathers by digging up some really silly spins on Washington Crossing the Delaware, and we gave a lukewarm adieu to Glenn Beck.


We grilled corn, roasted duck and ate delicious gourmet hot dogs — with claret. We had ceviche at Latin Bites, goat pepper soup at Peppersoup Café and spring rolls at Bodard Bistro. We reported on the Food Network snubbing Houston while apparently visiting San Antonio, Dallas and Austin. We had a fascinating chat with Tommy Birdwell of TQLA, who has worked in 37 restaurants. And we listed the five dining companions to avoid, because no one likes a bad tipper.

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I know I'm a year late, but I just saw this article for the first time today. My 1972 Rice classmate, Jim Cagle (BA in English), opened Studz News and two other similar stores (one was called The Ball Park; the other was Talk of the Town), after a successful two or three year career as a technical writer and editor. He became *very* wealthy from those three stores, until a politically ambitious DA started harassing all the porno bookstores in town in a very public campaign, and Jim sold out to the Atlanta mafia sometime around the late 1970s. The DA stopped bothering the stores after the change of ownership. Jim went on to buy and then publish This Week In Texas magazine until his untimely death from AIDS in 1989. I worked in Studz as a clerk when Jim needed extra help and my wife sewed the curtains for the movie booths in the back. At that time each booth had an 8 mm film projector, and I remember long nights cutting and splicing film loops for them.Studz was originally on the NE corner of W. Mt. Vernon and Alabama, across the street from St. Thomas, in a strip center that was razed decades ago. The name may have migrated to another store; I had left Houston by then. I have fond memories of Jim, and of the eye-opening experience of being a very minor part of his wildly successful business. I'm sad to hear how decrepit Talk of the Town had been allowed to become; Jim always kept his stores very classy and inviting. Nowadays, of course, adult stores like Good Vibrations and Babes In Toyland are much more mainstream than such establishments were then, and all the major hotel chains have become the most prolific purveyors of pornography in the world. We never would have imagined that back in the day.

Sherrod Henderson
Sherrod Henderson

Oh, no! Studz burned down? (That's right. I still call it Studz!) This is awful. Now where are high school students going to awkwardly run into their creepy teachers?


RE: Souvenirs on the last Shuttle mission: The CD of Tulane graduates is on Atlantis thanks to the mission's pilot, Col. Douglas Hurley, a 1988 Civil Engineering graduate of Tulane.


As a 2007 Tulane grad, I have to say that unfortunately it is not a CD with all Tulane grads. According to Tulane, the CD only includes Tulane Civil Engineering grads through 2007.


Exactly. It's not "for some reason." Stellar reporting, Houston......LMAO.

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