DFS MB SDN Stuff PIX CAL Albums Flash Drives Page Record Albums Shop Click Here to See Amazon's Random Deals

You are at the section DFS News

Planet Zappafrank (1994)

Here I present to you DFS's first story

Planet Zappafrank (1994)


Subject: Frank Zappa memorial planet

Dear Dr. Scialli,

     Thank you for your letter of April 26 (and enclosures) with the
suggestion that one of the planets orbiting the pulsar in Virgo be named in
memory of Frank Zappa. 

     Let me say at the outset that, as far as I am aware, the International
Astronomical Union (IAU) has not yet considered how, or even if, these
planets should be named.  There are two sections of the IAU involved with
naming planets and satellites and features on planets and satellites in our
own solar system, but the tradition has been simply to give to objects
outside the solar system the numbers or coordinates as listed in some
astronomical catalogue.   The pulsar itself, for example, is known as PSR
B1257+12 (actually, the B is  unnecessary).  When a star is found to be
double or multiple, the usual  convention has been to add the letter "A" for
the principal component, "B" for  the second, etc.  I can see that there
might be a tendency to designate pulsar planets in the same general way, but
that is something that the IAU would want to discuss, considering it in
terms of how many planets they might expect to  find around other pulsars in
the future.  That discussion will likely occur at the IAU's general meeting
this coming August.  If the IAU does decide to use  proper names for the
planets, the task of selecting them would probably fall  to some new
subsection of one of the above-mentioned two sections, and that  subsection
might or might not be interested in accepting suggestions from the  public
at large.  Since three planets are involved, any suggestion would  probably
fare better if it provided a clear trio of names.  Any wishes that the
discoverer, Dr. Wolszczan, may have would probably also be taken into
account.  Any actual adoption of names could in fact take quite some time,
and as one of your e-mail correspondent implies, the names eventually
suggested might well be some that he (and perhaps also you) would consider
quite stodgy. 

     I therefore have an alternate suggestion for you.  It would be quite
appropriate to have one of the minor planets (or asteroids) in our own
solar  system named for Frank Zappa, and I could probably arrange this and
get it properly announced within the next three months.  As a matter of
fact, the possibility of doing this crossed my own mind at the time I heard
of Zappa's death last December.  I noted then the interest of President
Havel in Zappa's music, and it occurred to me that it would be particularly
appropriate to use  for this purpose a minor planet discovered by
astronomers in the Czech Republic. I did not pursue my thought further, but
as a result of the great interest you and your correspondents have shown, I
should be very glad to do so now. In order to do this, all we need to have a
brief "citation" giving the reason. I append a suggested citation below.  If
you like the idea, perhaps you would be willing to modify it as you see fit
and e- mail it back to me.  The last sentence may be particularly in need of
modification--but I am sure that an endorsement by V. Havel and/or A. Gore
would go a very long way toward gaining the proposal's acceptance! 

Yours sincerely,

Brian G. Marsden  [marsdenfa.harvard.edu, FAX 617-495-7231]


Zappa                         Frank Zappa, rock musician and composer

(    ) Zappa
     Named in memory of Frank Zappa (1940-1993), rock musician and composer
of innovative contemporary symphonic, chamber and electronic music.  Zappa
was an eclectic, self-trained artist and composer with incredible energy and
a biting wit.  His music transcends the usual music barriers.  Name proposed
by J. V. Scialli and endorsed by (amongst many others) V. Havel and A.

HERE IS THE RESPONSE RECEIVED TODAY 9 JUNE 1994 from Vaclav Havel's office
(you may remember that this was the last step in the Planet Zappa/Zapsteroid
campaign). The text is: 

                                    Kancelar prezidenta republiky
                                      Odbor zahranicni politiky

May 16, 1994  KPR 3036/94

John Scialli, M.D. 4647 N. 32nd St., Ste 260 Phoenix, AZ  85018-3347 USA

Dear Dr. Scialli:

     On behalf of President Havel, I wish to thank you for your
correspondence regarding Mr. Frank Zappa and the possibility of naming a
planet or asteroid in his honour. President Havel does highly esteem Mr.
Zappa's work, and this endeavor did attract substantive interest. His
personal affection for the composer's work aside, His Excellency will not be
able to write a letter of endorsement for this project. 

     Still, your initiative remains of interest, and President Havel wishes
you and your associates  all the best in achieving this goal.

     Sincerely,  Dr. Pavel Seifter, Director Foreign Policy

                                     119 08 Praha-Hrad, Ceska republika
                                   tel.: (02) 3337 2244, fax:(02) 3337 3300

      DISCUSSION: Not an ordinary brush off letter on several
accounts. My verbal and fax contact had been with a functionary in the
Foreign Department who discussed this with the President's personal
assistant. However, the Dear John letter is written by someone who I asume
is the equivalent of the US Secretary of State (we're not talking just the
Duchy of Fenwick here). The two paragraphs seem to convey opposite agenda's:
the Official line (paragraph 1) versus his personal wishes (paragraph 2) .
In addition the deliberate contrast between President Havel (thank you,
highly esteem, substantive interest, continued interest, best wishes to
achieve this) who is more of a Mensch versus His Excellency (the State, or
Office) who is not "able" to help. (Because Al Gore would crap in his pants
if he told the news to Die Tippster). 

     Now for the great response from Dr. Brian Marsden of the Minor Planets

Dear John,
     Thanks for your FAX, and it was too bad there was not a more complete
endorsement.  But, don't worry, we're well along with the mission, and the
final hurdle--approval by the other members of the Minor Planet Names
Committee--will probably be straightforward.  I'll be sending the Zappa
proposal and others to the Committee tomorrow.  A sentence has been added to
the effect that "Before 1989 he was regarded as a symbol of democracy and
freedom by many people in Czechoslovakia"--unless this statement is rejected
as by the Committee as "too political". Regards Brian 

     SO LADDIES and LADDLES, dust off your moon boots and your passportage,
we're goin where there's no air, and the Big Note will have to propagate on
pure Love (gag me with a spoon). 

 From Dr. Brain Marsden of the Minor Planets Center,  International
Astronomical Union Subject: Progress report Date: 23,6,94

Dear John,
     Votes have been coming in from the Committee members, and I see things
going in the direction of "Zappafrank".  An interesting objection to putting
the "Frank" first is that there are already four minor planets whose names
begin with these five letters! Regards Brian 


     Remember that in approving (or at least not opposing) the Stuttgart
concert the conditions were no Black, no Preston and no certain six songs?
Well some of the mystery is replaced by other mystery: THREE songs were
named by Frank to NEVER again be played after his death [I don't know if
this means they will never appear on a Zappa (TM, c. 1993) album or whether
the ban just applies to covers.] The three are (not what you would guess):


And I don't know why. Any guesses? And certainties? Any downers?

By the way JC Black was in the Stuttgart audience. Preston not.



     Here is my 14,7,94 message from the International Astronomical Union,
Minor Planets Committee (MPC):

>From:   IN%"brian%cfaps1.DECNETfa.harvard.edu" 14-JUL-1994 09:02:21.16
>To: IN%"'delphi.com::johnscialli%cfa.DECNET'fa.harvard.edu" >CC:    
IN%"BRIANelphi.com" >Subj: RE- Update

Dear John, 
    Things are under control, but I asked for a final vote among the seven
members as to whether we take "Zappa" or "Zappafrank".  So far I have only
four responses, and the vote is 2-2...  The final decision can wait until
Monday (or perhaps even Tuesday), when we put the actual MPC pages

     In a related matter, President Havel's office spontaneously faxed me the
Czech text to get inserted into the silliness below. He must still be
interested. Would anyone mind if we let Vaclav throw the first baseball at
the memorial picnic? 

------------------------------------------------------------------------- And now a word from Zappsteroid:
     7/22/94 Officially marks the naming of minor planet Zappafrank. Look for
and or create media coverage. East Coast live on Sun 7/24/94 will annnounce.
Thank you to all who helped out with e-mail to the IAU. Now for the bigger
Planet ZF project: choosing  drapes! 

     are published on behalf of Commission 20 of the
     International Astronomical Union, usually in batches on the
     date of each full moon, by:
     Minor Planet center, Smithsonian Astrophysical
     Observatory, Cambridge, MA 02138 U.S.A.
     Brian G. Marsden, Director

     M.P.C. 23697                                1994 July 22


     (3834) Zappafrank = 1980 JE
     Discovered 1980 May 11 by L. Brozek at Klet.
     Named in memory of Frank Zappa (1940-1993), rock
     musician and composer of innovative contemporary
     symphonic, chamber and electronic music. Zappa was an
     ecletic, self-trained artist and composer with incredible
     energy and a biting wit and his music transcends the usual
     music barriers.  Before 1989 he was regarded as a symbol
     of democracy and freedom by many people in


     Other names given to asteroids: Meizhou (Chinese city);
     Yeshuhua (Chinese astronomer); Szentmartoni (Hungarian
     amateur astronomer and mirror maker); Boduognat (chief
     of the Nerviens, a Belgian tribe in 59 BC); Trevires (an
     ancient Belgian tribe); Sanshui (Chinese city); Ambiorix
     (chief of the Eburons, yet another ancient belgian tribe);
     Gajdusek (Czech telescope maker); Aduatiques (ancient
     tribe from guess where); Condruses (ditto, yawn);
     Fongyunwah (friend of the discoverer); Lanzerotti
     (American space physicist).

     Dr. Marsden explains the entry:

     The Czech astronomer L. Brozek discovered the asteroid at
     the Klet Observatory in southern Bohemia, about 40
     minutes drive from Cseske Budejovice.

     (3834) is the official number of the minor planet, out of a
     total of 6057 (as of today) numbered objects. 1980 JE is its
     principal provisional designation, with the year, the J
     indiating that the discovery was made in the first half of
     May (A=first half of January, B=second half of January,...,
     Y=second half of December, I not being used and Z not
     needed. The E means that this was the fifth minor planet
     whose discovery was reported during that half month.

     Only a fraction of the minor planets given provisional
     designations are identified with objects with other
     provisional designations or are otherwise observed well
     enough that we given them official numbers - which means
     that the orbits have been determined well enough that the
     objects will never be lost, and also makes the objects
     eligible to receive names.

     I spoke with and faxed to Mariel Sloatman, a family      member who was in touch with Gail
today. they were very happy with the announcement of the naming of
Minor Planet Zappafrank. I let them know that this was a testimonial to the
networking between internet folks including CompuServe.

A new message as of 22 July on 818PUMPKIN, the Zappa Hotline:

     "You've reached 818 PUMPKIN, the official Zappa Hotline.
     This is Mariel and I have a special announcement from the
     family. Planet 3834 has officially been named Zappafrank
     by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. Our
     compliments to John Scialli for his endeavors and our
     thanks and gratitude to all the people who got involved in
     this project. We as a family did not feel that it was
     appropriate for us to attempt to influence the outcome of
     an expression of love and respect that rightfully belongs to
     you all. But we are thrilled that you all went to all the
     trouble. So even though Zappafrank is now a minor planet,
     we consider it a major achievement. More about this later.
     As always, music is the best. Thanks for calling


And now a word from Zappsteroid:

First, please rise for the official language:

Yuhgte wsigh nouftrem sissiaj aks de pssaes sjggoen de le plaznet Zappa!

Indtil vi moedes paa planeten Zappa's frugtbare agre!

Fina a quando ci incontreremo sulle fertili pianure del planeta Zappa!

Viszla't a Zappa bolygo' terme'keny si'ksa'gain!

Lehitraot al hamishorim haporiim shel hakochav Zappa!

Tills vi moets paa planeten Zappas boerdiga slaetter!

Kunnes tapaamme Zappa-planeetan viljavilla tasangoilla!

Bis wir uns auf den fruchtbaren Feldern des Planeten Zappa treffen!

Fin que ens retrobem en les planes fertils del planeta Zappa!

Hasta que nos encontremos en las llanuras fertiles del planeta Zappa!

Do svidania na plodorodnix lugax planety Zappa!

Do zobaczenia na urodzajnych rowninach planety Zappa!

Jusqu'a ce que nous nous rencontrions sur les plaines fertiles de la 
planete Zappa!

Oant sjen op'e fruchtbere fjilden fan'e planeet Zappa!

Tot Ziens op de vruchtbare velden van de planeet Zappa!

Nashledanou na urodnych planich planety Zappa!

Until we meet upon the fertile plains of Planet Zappa!
John Scialli
Phoenix, AZ
DFS News Main Page Years 2013-Present Years 2009-2012 Years 2005-2008 Years 2001-2004 Years 1994-2000 Planet Zappafrank (1994) See What Nigey Lennon Is Up To Retro Rooter: The Roto Rooter Goodtime Christmas Band CD Review Hit Novelty Records Firesign Theater on CNN The O.B. Ranger Rides Again Stan Freberg: 50 Years of Skewering Satire Press Release: The Remains Of Tom Lehrer New Dr. Demento in Streaming Audio Found (Oct 1999) Drew Carey a Dr. Demento Fan? Shel Silverstein Obit Funny Music News Feb 2000 Funny Music News April 2000 Funny Music News May 2000 Funny Music News July 2000 Funny Music News Sep 2000 Funny Music News Oct 2000 Funny Music News Nov 2000 Funny Music News Dec 2000 Tom Lehrer Box Set Cub Coda Dies Does Comedy Belong on the Radio Anymore? What's Your Favorite 80s Novelty Song? End of Chris Waffle's Novelty Radio Show New Funny Songs in 2000 Madness Network Folds
DFS News Demented Yearbooks Demented Christmas Specials Dementia Hall of Fame
Market Zone:
Amazon Shopping The DFS Market
TV Zone:
Find your favorite TV shows with "Let's Watch TV!"
The Del: Dave's Entertainment Library! Celebrities a2z Hit Song Titles Stuff! Gregorian Calendar Collection Desktop Gregorian Calendar Collection (Mobile)-English Picture Gallery SDN Media News and More
Dave's Fun Stuff Mega Birthdays Contact Webmaster

© 1995-2019. davesfunstuff.com All Rights Reserved. Reproduction of any part of this website without expressed written consent is prohibited.

Website Cookie Policy