Image from the Rocket Poppeteer twitter account

Details about the project code-named Super 8, a new film by J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg, are still ensconced in mystery. And while the movie’s viral campaign offers scintillating tastes of what the film may eventually offer, putting those pieces together is a daunting task, made even more difficult thanks to recent updates. What do vintage Rocket Poppeteers brand popsicles have to do with an antiquated PDP-11 simulator, and how does a collector of rare and unique fish figure into things? While this article will have few answers to these seemingly outrageous questions, it will provide some context for this alternate reality game as it circuitously provides a preview of things to come in the upcoming film.

Last May when ARGNet first covered the Super 8 alternate reality game, players were waiting patiently for a PDP-11 simulator designed by “D. Morris” at the Scariest Thing I Ever Saw website to finish downloading a file. Once the file transfer completed, players could print out two newspaper clippings bearing an advertisement for Rocket Poppeteers brand popsicles, along with some oddly placed redactions. Lining up the two articles and cutting out the redactions reveals a message that Super8News interprets as “No certainty if alive, [it/they] may be after us, we go underground.” Both Rocket Poppeteers spokesman “Coop” Cooper and PDP-11 programmer “D. Morris” have been linked to Dan Morris and Gordon Cooper, real people who play prominent roles in alien conspiracy theories.

The Rocket Poppeteers advertisement served as more than the vehicle for an ominous message. Some players attempted to become a Rocket Poppeteer by mailing the newspaper clipping in to the listed address, and subsequently received a letter welcoming them into the Rocket Poppeteers Astronaut Program. At Comic-Con, the Rocket Poppeteer twitter account reported locations where conference attendees could visit an ice cream truck for popsicles and t-shirts from friendly ice cream men (and women) decked out in old-fashioned apparel. The Rocket Poppeteers website has opened up for online registration, so it’s not too late to get in on the popsicle-related fun, however it relates to the upcoming Super 8 film.

Concurrently, another photograph hidden within the interface at the Scariest Thing I Ever Saw website led to a series of Craigslist posts made by rare fish enthusiast Josh Minker as he attempted to dispose of his deceased mother Evelyn Minker’s effects. Minker’s comedically named website Hook Line and Minker is dedicated to his passion for rare fish and his obsession with obtaining a Coelacanth of his own. Minker posed a question on Above Top Secret asking how to verify old footage of a conspiratorial nature.  Later, a photograph from the Scariest Thing I Ever Saw interface revealed a correspondence between Minker and an unidentified individual that seems to indicate Minker was the recipient of the Super 8 trailer footage that launched the alternate reality game in the first place.

So how does any of this fit together? As with many of Abrams’ previous viral experiences, while playing the Super 8 alternate reality game it’s often just as hard to find the puzzles hidden in plain sight as it is to solve them. And while solving puzzles reveals tantalizing hints of things to come, the true meaning is often left to the imagination. This is in line with Abrams’ love for the mysterious, encapsulated in his “Mystery Box” talk at TED in 2007.

Still intrigued? Then strap on your speculation hat, come up with a creative astronaut name, and head on over to Rocket Poppeteers to sign up as an official Rocket Poppeteers Astronaut. And while you’re at it, keep a keen lookout on your streets, as the Rocket Poppeteer twitter account claims recruitment will be moving to your town soon.

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