Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask: A Column of Unsolicited Opinions #39

A Speculative Future of the Sport of Baseball

By Chris M. Barkley: As I write these musings on the day before the opening of the 2019 Baseball Season, there seems to be a great deal of concern about whether or not the venerable sport has any future at all.

Attendance at games have seen a significant decline in the past five years and the games seem to be just as long as ever. In this fast-paced world of short attention spans and increasing competition from all sorts media and other activities, team owners and baseball executives are certainly right to be worried that baseball may be on the verge of a real decline of interest from fans.

Their solution? Speed up the sport to make it more interesting and the games more compelling. The most recent proposals include, introducing the designated hitter to the National League enforcing a 20 second count between pitches and placing a runner on second base at the beginning of extra innings to help settle games faster.

BUT, what if more radical changes were introduced to make the games faster, but MORE compelling for all of the teams playing? And in doing so, make EVERY SINGLE GAME COUNT in the standings not matter which team was playing?

Applying what I have learned over a lifetime as an avid baseball, over forty years in fandom and the past twenty years of WSFS Business Meetings, incessant tweeting, fannish flame wars and Facebook postings, I have come up with a series of provocative, yet thoughtful insights on what Major League Baseball should do to thrive in the Twenty-First Century…

Proposal One: Make the game shorter by two innings, seven, with a maximum of two extra innings. If the game is still tied after the end of the ninth, the game ends in a tie. What, a tie? What the hell, you might ask? I’ll explain this further along down the line…

Proposal Two: Another problem baseball has had is the extended at bat for any player who is skilled enough to foul off pitches. More often than not, this tires out the pitcher and bores whomever is viewing the game. Having played in slow pitch softball leagues with a limited number of fields and the time to play on them, the most recent league I played with had a rule variation where the second foul after a two strikes count was an out on the batter. This forces both the batter and the pitcher to either put the ball in play or force a walk. And the game moves along nicely as well.

Proposal Three: No Designated Hitter: I realize that the game could be still played with a DH but, as a purist at heart, I have hated it with a passion since the American League instituted it in 1973. Pitchers should be FULLY involved in the game at every level. That includes going up to the plate and contributing. If pitchers can’t hit, they should LEARN how to hit, or to least bunt efficiently. Slackers…

Proposal Four: Abolish all regional divisions in favor of a two league table. Until 1969, each league was divided up this way and the top two teams meeting in the World Series. Divisions have fostered some fierce rivalries over the decades but the effect has been, in my humble opinion, diluted by the number of weak teams playing stronger teams in house AND the number inter-league games played each season. While my preference would be to not have ANY games between the two leagues until the World Series, they have been very popular with fans (and team owners) since 1997. So, if we are going to have inter-league games, why not make it more interesting; mandate that all of the teams, on an alternating basis each year, play a three game home and away series with half of the teams (15 at the moment) from each league every year. Each team should be no more than 45 inter-league games each season.

Proposal Five: Drop the number of regular season games to 145 (100 within the league, 45 inter-league games). Why? So glad you asked…

Proposal Six: The League Playoffs should consist of the top eight teams of each division. What would make a compelling pennant race in each league? A change in how the standings are scored.

Proposal Seven: Currently, besides wins and losses, the standing of a team is determined by its winning percentage. I propose that baseball adopt international football league standings; each win will be worth three points, a tie (remember, from Proposal One?) will be worth a point and a loss could be either nothing or, more interestingly, wait for it…minus THREE POINTS! So, suddenly, losing a game in August and September becomes a big freaking deal and some of the so called ‘weaker teams” have more incentive to throw a monkey wrench into the chances of “stronger teams”. In fact, this incentivizes all of the teams in the league to make each team better as the season progresses, possibly enough claw their way into an 8th place in the standings and into the playoffs. If there are any ties for the eighth place, a one game playoff will will determine who advances.

The playoffs would be structured as such: Top seeds play the low seeded number 8, number 2 plays number 7, number 3 plays number 6, and number 4 plays number 5.

The first round: the best 2 out of three games. Second Round: best 3 out of five games. World Series: the traditional best of seven games. A reduced number of regular season games from 162 to 145 can accommodate such a playoff schedule.

Proposal Eight: The All Star Game should be played AFTER the the conclusion of the World Series. Instead of a mid-season break, the game should be played as a celebration of the season that has just past and we have conclusive answers as to who are the BEST players are in each league. All of the season’s awards should surround the event as well, which will give baseball a nice, bright spotlight in the midst of the American football season.  

I am so lucky to call Cincinnati, Ohio my home. It is home of the very first openly all professional baseball team, the Red Stockings, who went 57-0 in their inaugural season of 1869. This upcoming season will mark the 150th season of the Cincinnati Reds. Our Opening Day Parade is world renown and the whole city celebrates as though it was Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years’ Eve all rolled into one day.

Over the past five years, if the Reds happen to be playing in town during our fan club’s annual convention, Midwestcon, in June, I try to organize a group of fans to catch a game at Great American Ballpark, which is right on the banks of the Ohio River.

Baseball is great game with a historic and revered past. If a few of the somewhat crazy ideas (or someone else’s crazy ideas) I’ve presented are implemented, I hope Baseball will somehow survive well into our future.

Marty Brennaman

(This column is dedicated to Marty Brennaman,  the Hall of Fame announcer of the Cincinnati Reds, who is retiring after this season after 46 years in the broadcast booth on radio and television. The fans across the country know and respect him but we, in the Cincinnati area, hold him in the highest regard. It is astounding to think that he has been involved nearly a third of all the games the Reds have played in their entire history. And we are so very lucky to have such an acerbic, thoughtful, knowledgeable and witty guide all those seasons. Thank You Marty and no matter what happens, THIS SEASON BELONGS TO YOU…)

HWA Names 2019 Scholarship From Hell Winner

The Horror Writers Association has picked Thomas Mavroudis to receive the 2019 Scholarship From Hell.

The scholarship provides a for travel, accommodation, and membership in HWA’s StokerCon™ — held this year from May 9-12 in Grand Rapids, MI — where the winner participates in Horror University, a series of intensive writing workshops taught by top industry professionals.

Scholarship From Hell applicants submit a 250-word essay discussing how they think the scholarship would improve their skills as a writer; the winner is chosen by the convention’s chairs.

Thomas Mavroudis

“Although our StokerCon™ Committee reviewed dozens of applicants, Thomas’s essay had just what we’re looking for in our winning writer,” said HWA President Lisa Morton. “In 250 beautifully-crafted words, he discussed his commitment to writing, to the horror genre, and to his fellow writers.”

Husband, father, and member of the Denver Horror Collective, Thomas C. Mavroudis hosts a horror literary event (nearly) every last Sunday of the month called Frights and Flights at Denver BookBar. He has an MFA from the University of California, Riverside-Palm Desert. His stories have appeared in Turn to Ash, Terror in 16-Bits, Year’s Best Body Horror, and forthcoming in Weirdbook, Tales from Gehenna and the anthology Behold the Undead of Dracula: Lurid Tales of Cinematic Gothic Horror.

Pixel Scroll 3/27/19 One Singularity Sensation

Tardy Scroll today because I logged a lot of time on the road attending my sister-in-law’s sumptuous birthday dinner.

(1) THE NOSTROMO LANDS IN NEW JERSEY. New York Times theater reporter Dave Itzkoff tells why “High School ‘Alien’ Production Wins Internet Raves”.

There are those perennial stage works that are perfectly suited to be performed in high schools across the country every year: say, “Our Town,” “The Crucible,” “Annie” or “The Wizard of Oz.”

And now, to this canon, you might add “Alien.”

A New Jersey high school has found itself the unexpected recipient of online acclaim and viral attention for its recent stage production of “Alien,” the 1979 science-fiction thriller.

“Alien: The Play,” presented last weekend by the drama club of North Bergen High School, starred a cast of eight students in the film roles originally played by Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, John Hurt and Ian Holm.

(2) SWING AND MISS. BBC samples critical reaction: “Tim Burton’s Dumbo remake fails to fly with many film critics”.

Tim Burton’s reimagining of Disney’s 1941 animated classic Dumbo has failed to dazzle many film critics ahead of its release on Friday.

The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw gave the film one star, calling it “pointlessly complicated and drawn out”.

In his two-star review, The Daily Telegraph’s Robbie Collin said it “has to be counted as a failure”.

…The Hollywood Reporter’s David Rooney declared his new version of Dumbo a “frustratingly uneven picture” that “holds the attention but too seldom tugs at the heartstrings”.

Variety’s Owen Gleiberman said it “transforms a miraculous tale into a routine story by weighing it down with a lot of nuts and bolts it didn’t need”.

Other critics found it more endearing. Empire’s Ben Travis awarded it four stars, calling it “an enchanting blend of Disney twinkle and Tim Burton’s dark whimsy”.

(3) VINTAGE PAPERBACK SHOW. Gregory Benford added this photo of Alice and Marty Massoglia to our coverage of Sunday’s LA Vintage Paperback Show.

(4) THE HOLE TRUTH. Remember when the space shuttle Endeavour cruised past this place on its way to the California Science Center? LAist says its now part of a growing chain: “Randy’s Donuts Is About To Get A Hole Lot Bigger”

In October 2014, Mark Kelegian got lucky. Really lucky.

He was browsing BizBuySell.com, a public business sales website, when he stumbled across a listing for an unnamed restaurant. There were no details except that it was well-known and originally built in the 1960s.

Kelegian, a retired lawyer, assumed it was one of L.A.’s old school Jewish deli’s, maybe Canter’s or Langer’s. He dialed the number on the listing and a young broker picked up. She said the mystery restaurant was Randy’s, the 24-hour drive-through donut shop that also happens to be one of the most recognizable landmarks in Los Angeles.

He bought it on the spot. At $2 million, it was a steal.

For the next three months, Kelegian says his office received over 100 phone calls from angry investors.

“Everyone in L.A. wanted to buy Randy’s first,” he says. “Most of the calls went something like, ‘Son of a bitch!'”

(5) MORE ON HOLLYN. The LA Times obituary “Norman Hollyn, USC professor, film editor who worked on ‘Sophie’s Choice,’ dies at 66”, published March 21, includes a statement from his wife, Janet Conn, and more details about his recent speaking trip.

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 27, 1914 Richard Denning, He made appearances in such Fifties genre films as Creature From The Black Lagoon, Creature With The Atom BrainThe Black Scorpion and The Day the World Ended. (Died 1998.)
  • Born March 27, 1942 Michael York, 77. I remember him in the Babylon 5 episode “A Late Delivery from Avalon” as a man who believed himself to be King Arthur returned. Very chilling. I also enjoyed him as D’Artagnan in the Musketeers films and remember him as Logan 5 in Logan’s Run. So what in his genre list really impresses you?
  • Born March 27, 1969 Pauley Perrette, 50. Though she’s best known for playing Abby Sciuto on NCIS, she does have some genre roles. She was Ramona in The Singularity Is Near, a film based off Ray Kurzweil’s The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology. Next up is the most excellent Superman vs. The Elite in which she voices Lois Lane. Let’s see… she had a recurring role on Special Unit 2 as Alice Cramer but I never watched that series so I’ve no I idea what it was. 
  • Born March 27, 1971 Nathan Fillion, 48. Certainly best known for being Captain Malcolm “Mal” Reynolds in Firefly verse. An interesting case of just how much of a character comes from the actor. In his case, I’d say most of it. He portrayed Green Lantern/Hal Jordan in Justice League: Doom, Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox and Justice League: Throne of AtlantisThe Death of Superman and Reign of the Supermen. Oh and he appeared in a recurring role in Buffy the Vampire Slayer as Caleb
  • Born March 27, 1953 Patricia Wrede, 66. She is a founding member of The Scribblies, along with Pamela Dean, Emma Bull, Will Shetterly, Steven Brust and Nate Bucklin. Not to be confused with the Pre-Joycean Fellowship which overlaps in membership. Outside of her work for the the Liavek shared-world anthology created and edited by Emma Bull and Will Shetterly, there are several series she has running including Lyra (Shadow Magic)Enchanted Forest Chronicles and Cecelia and Kate (co-written with Caroline Stevermer). She’s also written the novelizations of several Star Wars films including  Star Wars, Episode I – The Phantom Menace and Star Wars, Episode II – Attack of the Clones  in what are  listed  as  ‘Jr. Novelizations’. 
  • Born March 27, 1950 John Edward Allen. One of the forgotten dwarfs of Hollywood, he stood but three feet and ten inches tall. English by birth and English in death as he went back there after an impressive career in Hollywood to die on his native soil. How impressive? Well given how hard it was for dwarfs to find work, pretty good as he appeared in Snow White LiveBuck Rogers in the 25th CenturySide Show (circus horror film), Under the Rainbow (see Iimdb link here), Tales from the Darkside (as a goblin), Swamp Thing series (love that series), Superboy (as a carnival dwarf) and Snow White: A Tale of Terror. (Died 1999.)

(7) ATTENTION CAT-OWNING WRITERS. Lifehacker advises: “Get a Decoy Keyboard for Your Cat to Enjoy”.

This maneuver—which I saw on my mom’s clinic’s Facebook page (she’s a veterinarian)—is quite clever. Old keyboards are super cheap—find them at Goodwill or any thrift store with an electronic section—and having one on hand lets your cat do what it enjoys (be super in the way) without actually being in the way. Heck, I might buy a couple to place in various locations around my apartment, just to see what sticks.

Of course, this presumes you writers aren’t secretly hoping for feline work interruptions.

(8) SPACE RACE REDUX. Veep associates himself with manned Moon mission idea: “US aims for humans on Moon in five years”.

US Vice-President Mike Pence has said he wants Nasa to return astronauts to the Moon within five years.

Referencing China’s recent successful robotic mission to the far side, he said: “We’re in a space race today, just as we were in the 1960s.”

Nasa had already been planning to return to the Moon, but Mr Pence’s announcement accelerates the timeline.

He was speaking at a meeting of the National Space Council in Huntsville, Alabama.

“It is the stated policy of this administration and the United States of America to return American astronauts to the Moon within the next five years,” Mr Pence told the audience.

“Just as the United States was the first nation to reach the Moon in the 20th Century, so too, we will be the first nation to return astronauts to the Moon in the 21st Century.”

(9) CLUES.  “Three-unique-words ‘map’ used to rescue mother and child” – discover how. Chip Hitchcock sent the link with a note, “Good tech details further down. Not covered: whether there are non-English wordmaps for non-English speakers — who are a major part of the intended beneficiaries.”

Three seemingly unconnected words have helped rescue a mother and daughter after a car crash in remote rural Somerset.

The “coordinates” – “weekend”, “foggy” and “earphones” – allowed police to exactly pinpoint their location.

An algorithm developed by start-up what3words divides the world into 57 trillion nine-sq-m (97-sq-ft) areas and gives each a unique three-word address.

The technology has been adopted by a number of emergency services in the UK.

It was originally devised to help the millions of people in remote and impoverished areas who do not have a postcode gain an address for the first time. In turn that would allow them to apply for services and goods.

But the location system has also gained the attention of emergency services and has recently been adopted by Avon and Somerset, Humberside and West Yorkshire police services, Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire fire and rescue services and the British Transport Police.

(10) DON’T BE EVIL REDUX. “Google announces AI ethics panel” – BBC has the story.

Google has launched a global advisory council to offer guidance on ethical issues relating to artificial intelligence, automation and related technologies.

The panel consists of eight people and includes former US deputy secretary of state, and a University of Bath associate professor.

The group will “consider some of Google’s most complex challenges”, the firm said.

The panel was announced at MIT Technology Review’s EmTech Digital, a conference organised the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Google has come under intense criticism – internally and externally – over how it plans to use emerging technologies.

In June 2018 the company said it would not renew a contract it had with the Pentagon to develop AI technology to control drones. Project Maven, as it was known, was unpopular among Google’s staff, and prompted some resignations.

In response, Google published a set of AI “principles” it said it would abide by. They included pledges to be “socially beneficial’ and “accountable to people”.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, Gregory Benford, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, JJ, Carl Slaughter, Daniel Dern, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Ed McDonald Called Victim of False #MeToo Charges

Last weekend’s SPFBO FB group announcement that a reviewer accused of harassing behavior had been dropped attracted comments raising a similar issue about Ed McDonald (not mentioned in the File 770 story). Today several bloggers issued public statements saying they now are convinced the charges against McDonald were fabricated — including two who did much to publicize them.

The Fantasy Book Critic blog today defended McDonald: “Recent Me Too Allegations & Ed McDonald”.

Fantasy Book Critic has now seen irrefutable evidence that the allegations against Ed McDonald have been falsified. 

We are now aware that Ed McDonald has been targeted for online harassment and abuse, and there is also irrefutable evidence of this. The evidence proves beyond all doubt that one or two individuals have utilized multiple social accounts with the express purpose of spreading malicious rhetoric against Ed McDonald, and making it appear that ‘reports’ are coming from numerous sources, where in fact they all come from a single source. This source has never met Ed McDonald….

At The Fantasy Inn a blogger known as Book Wol apologized for spreading the allegations, and also claims to have participated in uncovering their falsity: “BookWol: Regarding Ed McDonald Allegations”.

I am writing to publicly retract any allegations that I have been party to against Ed McDonald, and to offer my apologies to him for any distress this has caused him.
Myself and another member of the community were sent allegations against Ed McDonald by a number of social media accounts. These allegations made their way onto the internet and social media.I have been provided with hard evidence that proves beyond doubt that the allegations were falsified. 

…With this knowledge, for the purpose of the investigation, I was expressly instructed to behave as normal, continue to show public and if necessary, private support for the individual being investigated. I was to allow public conversations about Ed McDonald to continue and to allow and encourage the individual behind the allegations to feel emboldened by public support for them as evidence was gathered….

…Ed McDonald also provided me with this statement that I may share with you:

“The hurt that was done to me, and the attempt to attack my career and persona has been incredibly hard to bear, but I am glad that the truth has finally come to light. Where people have been deceived and lied to, I ask that they be treated with sympathy, and it be acknowledged that given the extreme nature of the levels of deceit, falsehood and misrepresentation that have been plotted carefully over the period of a year on a scale that nobody could possibly have imagined until the evidence came to light, I bear no ill will to those that were deceived in this way. Please be kind to one another and continue to promote a message of positivity.”

Esme at The Weatherwax Report, who had solicited #MeToo stories from readers, explains in ”About Ed McDonald” why she was deceived:

I was led to believe over a long period of time that Ed McDonald had repeatedly preyed on women he perceived as vulnerable, then discarded them and defamed them afterward. I believed this in its entirety because I was told this over, and over, and over again from seemingly different accounts from totally separate people. They had family histories. They had different profile pics. They had different personas and webpages dedicated to them. They were active accounts that truly appeared to be different entities. I was contacted by a third party investigator several days ago and after listening to what they had to say, I decided to cooperate and hand over evidence I had of these allegations. I no longer believe I was contacted by multiple women, and the feeling it gives me is horror.

The person who’s done this has made a mockery of real victims. One of the HARDEST parts about getting justice for those who have been victimized is just how emotionally straining it is for those who have been hurt to come forward and name someone. When BookWol and myself sent out that tweet asking for your stories, we weren’t inundated with dozens of names with just one or two accusers each. We had two names. With many, many people behind each name. It looked so genuine. One was real. The other was not. This does such terrible, terrible damage to the image of people coming forward. The fact that it was so elaborate and over such a long period of time is nothing short of mind-blowing….

Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off founder Mark Lawrence, gave the news a signal boost on Reddit, but also cautioned —

It’s also important not to let the fact that this was a hoax make us deaf to others who speak up about such things in the future.

Esme added there that she will be shuttering her blog for awhile in anticipation of being doxxed, and concerns about her personal safety.

I’ve actually just made my public statement that I’ll be closing down for at least a few months, possibly permanently.

From what I understand Ed’s involvement with this person was only 3 weeks of online talk… and they took years out of their lives building this web of lies around him. I can only imagine wtf they will try and do to Wol and myself for exposing it all.

I’ve made the statement on my blog about having the financial means to take them to court if they try anything – and I will also pay for Wols legal fees if she needs any assistance. It would be very unwise if they tried anything but I’ve been told that someone is sniffing around for our real names. We are both preparing for a doxxing event. I’ve been advised it would be wise to lay low for a while, and so I shall. In a few months, maybe after the summer passes, I’ll decide if it’s “safe” for me to pop back up.

[Thanks to Dann for the story.]

Photos of 2019 LA Vintage Paperback Show

Lots of well-known writers and artists came and signed at last Sunday’s LA Vintage Paperback Show. Robert Kerr shot these photos (below) of some of the participants.

Pixel Scroll 3/26/19 R.U.P. – Rossum’s Unscrolled Pixels

(1) HORROR FAN. Tananarive Due was interviewed in the Washington Post in a story by Elahe Izadi about how people terrified by horror movies psychologically prepare themselves for seeing a quality horror film like A Quiet Place or Us. Due is the executive producer of Horror Noire and teaches a course at UCLA on Get Out. “Horror is a must-see genre again. What’s a scaredy-cat to do?”

Due loved horror as a child, when watching it was a fun way to be scared within a safe context; with age, it became a therapeutic method to deal with heavier anxieties. It’s a lesson she gleaned from her mother, the late civil rights activist Patricia Stephens Due, who was a horror fan; the genre served as an outlet for the racial trauma she endured.

“Headlines scare me. True crime stories scare me. .?.?. Real, human monstrosity is not fun for me to watch,” Due says. “When those people are supernatural or when there’s a fantasy element, when there’s a monster, now I’m ready to watch because the monster in a horror movie can be a stand-in for real-life monstrosity that lets me engage with it from a distance, but also leech out that trauma and expel it in a way that can feel fun.”

(2) WE LOST. New featurette from Marvel Studios’ Avengers Endgame, in theaters in one month.

(3) FUTURE TENSE. This month’s entry in the Future Tense Fiction series is “The Arisen” by Louisa Hall, author of the novels Speak and Trinity.

“Once upon a time,” Jim said, “in a country called Acirema—”

“Acirema,” I said. “How imaginative, it’s—”

“Do you want me to tell this story or not?” Jim said. His tone was suddenly harsh.

It’s in Slate along with a response essay “What Are Facts Without Fiction?” by librarian Jim O’Donnell.

Yes, it’s true that there are no true stories. Human beings are story-making creatures, but no story can possibly be better that an edited, digested, spin-doctored version of events in we might still call the real world. The real story makers, the ones who give us our professed fictions, know that well and take full advantage of the techniques and the conveniences of their craft, the better to point us toward thoughts we would not come to so easily otherwise.

(4) HELP FUND NICHELLE NICHOLS’ FINAL ROLE. Marc Zicree has started a GoFundMe to pay for “Star Trek’s Nichelle Nichols Space Command Scene!”. In the first 24 hours, fans have contributed $600 towards the $15,000 goal.

…Now I’m making a new science fiction pilot called Space Command and want to shoot a very special scene with Nichelle, which will be her last acting role and a wonderful gift to her fans. 

(You can watch the work in progress first hour of the Space Command pilot at https://youtu.be/zv-tx3DdKSg)

Total cost of the shoot, including cast and crew (I’m not taking any salary myself) will be $15,000.

Time is of the essence — we’d like to shoot as soon as possible — and it would mean so much for all of us to be able to make this happen. 

(5) WHEN YOU OUTGROW THE GOLDEN AGE OF SF. John Scalzi gave this example of how his perspective has changed over time:

He brought back my memory of Harlan Ellison standing in the lobby after a 1977 Star Wars pre-screening, verbally assailing the movie he had just seen. However, the main thrust of Harlan’s complaints were that the story, a throwback to the serials, didn’t represent state-of-the-art science fiction. Likewise, he when he wrote about the movie in Harlan Ellison’s Watching he continued the same theme – that it was superficial, “the human heart is never touched.”

(6) GUIDEPOSTS. E.D.E. Bell’s “Two Simple Rules of Editing” explains why these are the rules that guide her work in a post for the SFWA Blog.

So, there’s only two—let’s go!

Rule #1: Consider all edits with an open mind

It sounds simple, but it’s not. Sometimes it helps to glance through all the edits, then just close the file. Come back the next day, if you can. Then consider, why did the editor make this suggestion? Don’t dismiss anything, and don’t hold anything too sacred to be changed.

Rule #2: Only make changes you like

It sounds simple, but it’s not. If the editor’s version is smoother, or more correct, or whatever, but you don’t like it, then don’t do it. You’ll be the one answering to readers if it reads funny, but that’s your call. It’s your story. It’s your art. You’re the one who knows what you meant.

(7) GAHAN WILSON. The GoFundMe for Gahan Wilson has received contributions from 1,180 people amounting to $55,547 of its $100,000 goal after 23 days. The most recent update said:

Gahan was interviewed today for a newspaper piece that will probably go out nationwide. The people on the reporting team were very sweet and sensitive to Gahan.

Gahan was on his game…speaking about his life and other things.

(8) PUGMIRE OBIT. The horror writer W.H. “Wilum” Pugmire died today, aged 67. The major influence upon his writing was H P Lovecraft, of course, and S T Joshi described him in 2010 as “perhaps the leading Lovecraftian author writing today.” Scott Edelman tweeted the photo below – Pugmire’s on the right.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 26, 1850 Edward Bellamy. Looking Backward: 2000–1887 is really the only work that he’s remembered for today. He wrote two other largely forgotten works, Dr. Heidenhoff’s Process and Miss Ludington’s Sister: A Romance of Immortality. (Died 1898.)
  • Born March 26, 1931 Leonard Nimoy. I really don’t need to say who he played on Trek, do I? Did you know his first role was as a zombie in Zombies of the Stratosphere? Or that he did a a lot of Westerns ranging from Broken Arrow in which he played various Indians to The Tall Man in which at least his character had a name, Deputy Sheriff Johnny Swift. His other great genre role was on Mission: Impossible as The Great Paris, a character whose real name was never revealed, who was a retired magician. It was his first post-Trek series. He of course showed up on the usual other genre outings such as The Twilight ZoneThe Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Outer LimitsNight Gallery and Get Smart. And then there’s the matter of “The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins”. (Died 2015.)
  • Born March 26, 1942 Erica Jong, 77. Witches, which was has amazing illustrations by Joseph A. Smiths, is still worth your time nearly forty years later. ISFDB also lists Shylock’s Daughter: A Novel of Love in Venice which is a time travel story but it soul does more like a romance novel to me. And Sappho’s Leap which they also list just seems soft core lesbian porn with a slight genre twist. 
  • Born March 26, 1950 K. W. Jeter, 69. Farewell Horizontal may or may be punk of any manner but it’s a great read. Though I generally loathe such things, Morlock Night, his sequel  to The Time Machine , is well-worth reading reading. I’ve heard good things about his Blade Runner sequels but haven’t read them. Opinions?
  • Born March 26, 1953 Christopher Fowler, 65. I started reading him when I encountered his Bryant & May series which though explicitly not genre does feature a couple of protagonists who are suspiciously old. Possibly a century or more now. The mysteries may or may not have genre aspects but are wonderfully weird. Other novels by him are I’d recommend are Roofworld and Rune which really are genre, and Hell Train which is quite delicious horror.
  • Born March 26, 1960 Brenda Strong, 59. First film genre appearance was on Spaceballs as Nurse Gretchen. The role you probably remember her was on Starship Troopers as Captain Deladier though post-death she shows up in Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation as Sergeant Dede Rake. She showed up on Next Gen as a character named Rashella in the “When the Bough Breaks” episode and she’s been a regular on Supergirl as Lillian Luthor.
  • Born March 26, 1966 Michael Imperioli, 53. Detective Len Fenerman in Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones and Detective Ray Carling, the lead in Life on Mars and Rosencrantz in a recent Hamlet.
  • Born March 26, 1985 Keira Knightley, 34. To my surprise and this definitely shows I’m not a Star Wars geek, she was Sabé (Decoy Queen). Next up for her is Princess of Thieves, a loose adaptation of the Robin Hood legend. Now I didn’t see that but I did see her in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl as Elizabeth Swann though I’ll be damned if I remember her role. (She’s in several more of these films. Rinse. Lather. Repeat.) we saw Herve we saw as Guinevere, an odd Guinevere indeed, in King Arthur. Her last role I must note I must note is The Nutcracker and the Four Realms in which she was the Sugar Plum Fairy! 

(10) TO SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT. We got a pair of big things wrong in Andrew Porter’s birthday listing the other day.

Science Fiction Chronicle which he founded in May 1980…”

The first issue appeared Labor Day weekend, 1979, at the Louisville NASFiC, cover dated October 1979.

Algol now known as Starship lasted less than five years…”

Algol started in 1963; the last issue of Algol/Starship, #44, appeared in 1984.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

Candorville stands up for Star Trek: Discovery.

(12) VOICES DISSENT. Anime News Network speculates about the potential for litigation in its story “Kameha Con Responds to Recent Guest Cancellations”. Several guests bailed after the con added Vic Mignogna to its lineup. An unnamed lawyer consulted by ANN says they may be in violation of their contracts if they don’t attend.

The staff of the upcoming Kameha Con in Irving, Texas issued a statement via Facebook and Twitter on Monday regarding recent guest cancellations due to the addition of voice actor Vic Mignogna as a guest. Mignogna was added to the convention’s guest roster on March 22 following a previous cancellation by con staff on February 2. Since the announcement, five voice actors have announced they will no longer attend the convention along with multiple panelists.

One commenter neatly summed up the situation:

(13) REFERENCE DIRECTOR! The Wrap argues that “‘Captain Marvel’ and ‘Us’ Have Pushed ‘The Right Stuff’ Back Into the Spotlight”.

…“The Right Stuff” tells the true story of the seven military pilots who were selected for the NASA project to launch the first ever manned spaceflight. In a similar way, Carol, an Air Force test pilot, ends up soaring farther than she could have ever expected when she travels into space and becomes a member of the Kree and, later, one of Earth’s superheroes.

In “Us,” that same VHS tape is much easier to miss, and is used in a possibly more ironic and darker context. You can find “The Right Stuff” among the VHS tapes that flank the TV displaying the Hands Across America commercial in the opening scene.

(14) LIVE THEATER. Marjorie Prime, a 2015 Pulitzer Prize nominee, set in a future of “beneficial AI,” will be staged in Norwich, CT the next two weekends. The special feature of the first two performances — March 29 and 31 – will be post-performance discussions led by sff writers Carlos Hernandez and Paul Di Filippo.

Additional performances Saturday April 6 at 7:30 pm and Sunday April 7 at 3 pm

Tickets are $10 in advance or seniors; $12 at door Cash or Check only—no credit cards

Open Seating—limited to 70 attendees

House Opens at 7 pm Friday and Saturday; 2:30 pm Sunday

United Congregational Church Hall 87 Broadway, Norwich CT. (Note: This address brings you to the church’s main door—do NOT enter there. Make first right on Willow Street, right turn into lower level of covered parking deck. A few stairs here. Level entrance and handicapped permit parking available at 11-39 Chestnut Street)

Friday March 29, 7:30 pm

Featuring. . . .a talkback led by Carlos Hernandez. Carlos Hernandez is the author of the critically acclaimed short story collection The Assimilated Cuban’s Guide to Quantum Santeria (Rosarium 2016) and most recently, as part of the Rick Riordan Presents imprint of Disney Hyperion, the novel Sal and Gabi Break the Universe (2019). By day, Carlos is a mild-manned reporter associate professor of English at the City University of New York, with appointments at BMCC and the Graduate Center, and a game designer and enthusiast. Catch him on Twitter @writeteachplay.

Sunday March 31, 3 pm

Featuring. . .a talkback led by Paul Di Filippo, who has been publishing professionally for over 40 years. He has continued to reside in Providence throughout his career, with over 200 stories published and many novels. Beginning with The Steampunk Trilogy: (1995), which remains his most widely known title, this shorter material has been assembled in twenty substantial collections. Di Filippo also reviews widely, online and in print.

(15) SUCK FAIRY. Someone noticed — “The Matrix’s male power fantasy has dated badly.”

Ahead of its time when it was released 20 years ago, The Matrix is a monument to Generation X self-pity that is out of step with today, writes Nicholas Barber.

The Matrix was way ahead of its time. The Wachowskis’ tech-noir mind-bender came out in 1999 – 20 years ago – which meant that it reinvented big-screen superhero action a year before X-Men was released and showcased Hong Kong-style ‘wire-fu’ fight choreography a year before Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Its ‘bullet-time’ effects have been copied by blockbusters ever since, and its thoughts about virtual reality and artificial intelligence have been mimicked just as often. Despite all this, though, in some crucial respects The Matrix has dated so badly that it now seems to be a relic. It is a film that, like the human race in the Wachowskis’ story, is trapped forever in the 1990s.

…It’s a fantastic premise, but it does have its flaws. Twenty years on, it’s embarrassing to see a white male saviour with two sidekicks – one black, one female – whose primary task is to assure him how gifted he is. The female sidekick, Trinity, even falls in love with him for no reason except, I suppose, that he looks like Keanu Reeves. And, in general, Anderson/Neo is one of those uninspiring heroes who do next to nothing to earn their hero status. He becomes an unbeatable martial artist not by training for years, but by being plugged into a teaching program for a few hours. And he becomes omnipotent in the Matrix not because he is particularly brave, noble or clever, but because, as Morpheus says, he is willing “to believe”.

(16) NIMBY. “A Battle Is Raging Over The Largest Solar Farm East Of The Rockies” – NPR has the story.

The largest solar farm east of the Rocky Mountains could soon be built in Virginia and, depending on whom you ask, it would be either a dangerous eyesore that will destroy the area’s rural character or a win-win, boosting the local economy and the environment. The solar panels would be spread across 10 square miles — 1.8 million panels soaking up the sun’s rays.

The project is planned for Spotsylvania County, about 60 miles south of Washington, D.C. Amid the county’s Civil War battlefields, farms and timberland, a fight is raging over the future of energy in Virginia, and in the Eastern U.S.

The heart of the solar resistance is in a gated community called Fawn Lake, built around a golf course and man-made lake.

“I mean we live at a resort, essentially,” says Dave Walsh, one of the many Fawn Lake residents organizing against the planned solar farm. One corner of the massive project would butt up against the back of the gated community. Walsh says he supports solar, in theory, but not here.

[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, Steve Green, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Joey Eschrich, Daniel Dern, Mike Kennedy, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

Fans Long Listed for
The Big and The Small Fahrts

Every two years The International Flann O’Brien Society  presents the International Flann O’Brien Society Awards, otherwise known as the Father Kurt Fahrt, S.J. Memorial Prizes. There are two awards, for the best book-length and best article length-work on a Flann O’Brien theme. These awards are affectionately known to members of the society as The Big Fahrt and The Small Fahrt, and are presented Flann O’Brien conference which the society hosts.

As the nomination process begins, a number of Fan-written works are nominable in both the Big Fahrt and Small Fahrt categories, and have been long-listed.

James Bacon explains. “Last year we published A Half Pint of Flann as issue 44 of Journey Planet, edited by Michael Carroll, Chris Garcia, Pádraig Ó Méalóid and myself, and it’s been long listed for the Big Fahrt. This is an amazing honour, as it sees us on the same list as Maebh Long’s Letters of Flann O’Brien, which is a fabulous work.

“Works published in the zine have also been long-listed for the Small Fahrt and these include; ‘Mise agus Myles,’ by Johan Anglemark, ‘The Case for John Shamus O’Donnell,’ By Jack Fennell, ‘Extractum Ó Bhark i bPrágrais (A Flann O’Brien A to Z): Interim Version II,’ ‘Object Found in a Book – I: An Béal Bocht Publisher’s Note; II: The Brochure,’ and ‘The Cardinal and/or the Corpse: An Exegesis of Rumour or The Revelation of Stephen Blakesley,’ all by Pádraig Ó Méalóid, and ‘Introduction,’ by myself (James Bacon) and Pádraig.

“I’m also very proud to have had my own two articles, ‘Off the Rails: Flann on Track,’ and ‘Single Narrow Gold Band: Flann’s Pen,’ on the long list,” added James.

I decided to pursue investigating the railway elements in Flann’s Cruiskeen Lawn columns in the Irish Times last year, and I’ve since had a paper for the Dublin Flann O’Brien Conference at University College Dublin accepted. It’s entitled Off the Rails: Flann – An Expert Community Advocate for Rail Transport. My esteemed colleague Pádraig Ó Méalóid will also be presenting a panel at the conference, on Flann’s Column Bawn columns in the Sunday Dispatch in the early fifties.

This conference, entitled “Palimpsests: The Fifth International Flann O’Brien Society Conference,” is taking place on the 16th to 19th July in Dublin, and is already looking quite impressive for Flanneurs and/or Mylesians.

The organizers have just added acclaimed authors Joanna Walsh and Gavin Corbett to the line-up of keynote speakers and writers, which already included Anne Enright, Patrick McCabe, Maebh Long, Louis de Paor, Katherine Ebury, Blindboy Boatclub (from the Rubberbandits), Lisa McInerney, Erika Mihálycsa, David, Eddie, and Joanna O’Kane, as well as a special exhibition of items from the holdings of Burns Library’s Special Flann O’Brien Collection.

Details on how to attend the conference will be published shortly.

Joining the International Flann O’Brien Society is free. Members also receive issues of the Parish Review, the society’s regularly irregular electronic publication.

Tonopah in 2021 Westercon Bid

Will Kevin Standlee realize his dream to bring Westercon to Tonopah?

Fresh off hosting the 2018 Worldcon, San Francisco Science Fiction Conventions, Inc. has filed a bid to host the 2021 West Coast Science Fantasy Conference (Westercon 74) in Tonopah, Nevada. With Kevin Standlee as the bid chair, and Bruce Farr as treasurer, they propose to hold the con from July 2-5 at the Tonopah Convention Center and nearby hotels.

In case there are any doubts that they mean business, they reassure everyone:

Tonopah is a serious bid. While the town itself is somewhat smaller than the typical Westercon site, the town has expressed its enthusiasm for hosting us, and we think it has the right mix of facilities to accommodate a small but entertaining and affordable Westercon.

We have filed our bid with Westercon 72 (SpikeCon) in Layton, Utah. You can read our complete filing here.

With site selection voting to take place less than three months from now at SpikeCon (Westercon 72), Tonopah isn’t selling “pre-supporting” memberships — but donations are welcomed.

The bid’s web site is here. Not only is there a wealth of detail about the facilities and local attractions, you’ll find your time repaid by the amusing fanwriting. For example, the myriad transportation options include horse rental (price quoted!), or for those driving, an attractive alternative route:

The primary access to Tonopah is by highways US-95 and US-6; however, there are interesting alternative routes and side trips along the way

From Las Vegas and points south: US-95 north, or take the alternative route via US-93 and the Extraterrestrial Highway and stop by the Little A’Le’Inn. (Convention not responsible for alien abductions or misadventures at Area 51.)

Pixel Scroll 3/25/19 Oh, The File At The Heart Of The Pixel, Wins More Rocketships Than Asimov Or Clarke

(1) NAME THAT FAHRENHEIT TEMP. “Chinese Govt. Burns Call of Cthulhu Supplement” claims Lovecraftian news site Yog-Sothoth. The main content is in the video at the link, but the intro sums up the problem this way:

For many years, various publishers in the Americas and Europe have had their books printed in China as a cost-saving measure (including many in the RPG field). Often the primary downside of this has simply been the time taken for the books to arrive, but it appears there can also be another problem, as the publishers of The Sassoon Files (a Cthulhu-based RPG supplement) have announced that all print copies of their book have been destroyed by the Chinese Government – for unspecified reasons.

The Sassoon Files is a collection of Cthulhu Mythos scenarios and campaign resources set in 1920s Shanghai (for both Call of Cthulhu and Gumshoe systems) and was Kickstarted back in September 2018, raising some $24,000 USD from more than 500 backers. The volume was due to ship from the printers very shortly. As a result of this recent turn of events, the publishers, Sons of the Singularity, have released a video statement. …

(2) SPOILERIFFIC DISSECTION.  Abigail Nussbaum analyzes Jordan Peele’s “Us” at Asking the Wrong Questions.

…If Get Out was an arrow aimed straight for the heart, Us is firing in all directions. This doesn’t make it a bad film—it is, in fact, a rich and heady stew, anchored by a stunning double performance from Lupita Nyong’o. But it does make it messy, in a way that a director who wasn’t riding high off a genre-defining success like Get Out probably wouldn’t be able to get away with. I found myself thinking that Us might have worked better as a miniseries, not only to give its various storylines and characters room to breathe, but so that it could do more work to spin out and elaborate on the various symbols and recurring images it keeps dropping into the narrative.

(3) PACKAGING ISSUE EXPLAINED. Greg Machlin gives readers a good handle on the reasons for the current tension between Hollywood writers and agents. Thread starts here.

And Machlin got a shout-out from N.K. Jemisin:

Machlin calls David Simon’s “But I’m not a lawyer. I’m an agent.” required reading.

…If, on the other hand, you are my brother or sister in the Writers Guild of America — East or West, it matters not when we stand in solitarity — or conversely, if you are a grasping, fuckfailing greedhead with the Association of Talent Agents, then you might wanna hang around for this:

Here is the story of how as a novice to this industry, I was grifted by my agents and how I learned everything I ever needed to know about packaging.  And here is why I am a solid yes-vote on anything my union puts before me that attacks the incredible ethical affront of this paradigm. Packaging is a racket. It’s corrupt. It is without any basis in either integrity or honor. This little narrative will make that clear. And because I still have a reportorial soul and a journalistic God resides in the details, I will name a name wherever I can.

… Why bother to fight for 10 percent of a few dollars more for this story editor or that co-executive producer of some actor or director when to NOT do so means less freight on the operating budgets of the projects that you yourself hope to profit from?  Why serve your clients as representatives with a fiduciary responsibility and get the last possible dollar for them, when you stand to profit by splitting the proceeds of a production not with labor, but with management — the studios who are cutting you in on the back end?  Why put your client’s interest in direct opposition to your own?

No reason at all.

(4) SPFBO DROPS TIVENDALE. Facebook’s Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off group posted a “PSA: Concerning James Tivendale & his removal”.

This post is to inform everyone about James Tivendale’s removal as a blogger from Fantasy Book Review as well as from the SPFBO judging group. James has been accused by over a dozen people of harassment in several forms. This wasn’t something that was done spur of the moment but thanks to Esme Weatherwax & Book Wol’s efforts, several folks came forward to report James’ behavior (inappropriate touching, intimidation, etc.)”

SPFBO is Mark Lawrence’s contest to pick the top indie fantasy novel from 300 entrants based on ratings given by book bloggers. Fantasy Book Review is one of the 10 blogs, and Tivendale was one of its writers. The PSA continues:

Many of these folks didn’t want their names published as they feared reprisal for their books or careers. These accusations were sent to Lee David Sibbald (the owner of Fantasy Book Review) and special thanks to Ryan Lawler for helping coordinate these efforts. Ultimately Lee took this decision keeping everyone’s safety in mind. Mark Lawrence has also been alerted about this. For the remaining part of this SPFBO edition, Fantasy Book Review will be managed by Adam & Emma. For the future, the decision will be taken by Lee and the rest of the team.

I along with Esme, Wol, Lee & a few others wanted to make this public so everyone knows what happened exactly without any confusion or rumor-mongering. If you have ever been harrased by James in any way, please don’t hesitate to contact Esme or me. I want to reiterate that while James is a gifted blogger and I considered him my friend. His behavior wasn’t excusable and neither were his health issues. We all hope that he gets the help he needs. If you have any queries or wish to clarify anything. I’m more than happy to resolve them.

Tivendale has since shut down his Facebook and Twitter accounts.

(5) SHAZAM! The Hollywood Reporter’s Frank Scheck says the movie benefits from terrific performances: “‘Shazam!’: Film Review”.

The DC Comics universe has definitely taken to heart the criticism that its movies have been too dark and foreboding. The more lighthearted approach worked beautifully with Wonder Woman and was carried to a wackier level with Aquaman. Now comes their latest effort, based on a relatively little-known comic book character, that proves so determinedly ebullient you begin to think they’re pumping laughing gas into the auditorium. The most kid-friendly DC movie so far, Shazam! is thoroughly entertaining. But much like its central character, a 14-year-old boy able to transform himself into a superhero by uttering the titular incantation, often the pic gives the impression of a kid playing in the adult leagues.

(6) HANG UP FOREVER. Charles Stross was quoted in a Washington Post piece by Avi Selk about the increasing problem of spam phone calls: “Spam has taken over our phones. Will we ever want to answer them again?”

The sci-fi author Charlie Stross once posited a future in which spam becomes so good at mimicking human interaction it becomes self-aware –the ‘Spamularity.’  Is that what awaits us if the phones don’t shut up?

(7) ANIME BUZZ. Petréa Mitchell covers 14 shows in her “Spring 2019 SF Anime Preview” at Amazing Stories:

Welcome once again to the oncoming wave that is a new season of anime barrelling in our direction. It’s smaller than usual, owing to a drop in the overall number of new shows and an unusually low percentage of them being sf. (If you’re wondering what hot trends you’re missing out on, they’re baseball shows and comedies about high school students who are bad at studying.) As always, click on the titles to go to the official sites to see promo videos and more!

(8) IMMERSIVE PLAY. It’s called Escape Hunt.

Escape Hunt noun Def: The name given to 60 minutes of pure, unadulterated excitement, during which you and your teammates lose yourselves in an incredible experience, working together to follow a series of fiendishly clever clues and escape a locked room.

The pressure’s on, the clock’s ticking, the adrenaline’s pumping. Escape Hunt isn’t something you watch, it’s something you experience from the heart of the action. After the buzz of Escape Hunt, other entertainment just feels flat.

And there’s a Doctor Who themed version at six cities in the UK:

The Doctor needs you: a tear in space and time has been detected, and the Cybermen are about to break through!

Step into the future. Enter the offices of ChronosCorp HQ, where eccentric billionaire Alastair Montague’s efforts to develop commercial time travel have caused a tear in the fabric of space and time. The Cybermen are ready to take advantage and attack Earth.

You, the Doctor’s friends, must investigate the incident. The remains of Montague, his prototype time engine and the extensive collection of time-related artefacts acquired over the course of his experiments, are all that you have to work with.

(9) PALLADINI OBIT.  Artist David Palladini (1946-2019) died March 13. Jane Yolen wrote on Facebook:

I have just heard that David Palladini, that brilliant artist who illustrated my first three fairy tale collections, has died. RIP dear David. He also did many record jackets, Stephen King’s only middle grade novel, a tarot deck much prized by many who love them. RIP dear David.

The death notice in the New York Times begins:

David Palladini, widely renowned artist and illustrator, and regarded as one of the country’s most recognized astrological art illustrators, passed away on March 13, 2019 after a long illness at his home in Corona Del Mar, California at the age of 72. Some of his most widely held work includes the illustrations from Stephen King’s best-selling book, “Eyes of the Dragon”, and numerous children’s books, including the Jane Yolen series. His iconic astrological Aquarian & Palladini Tarot card art decks remain the most frequently preferred tarot card decks worldwide.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • March 25, 1989 Quantum Leap premiered.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 25, 1916 Jean Rogers. Rogers is best remembered for playing Dale Arden in the science fiction serials Flash Gordon and Flash Gordon’s Trip to Mars, both released in the Thirties. Kage Baker would’ve have loved them as she was a great fan of such cinema and wrote a series of essays for Tor.com that turned into  Ancient Rockets: Treasures and Trainwrecks of the Silent Screen. (Link for review of Ancient Rockets.) (Rogers died 1991.)
  • Born March 25, 1920 Patrick Troughton. The Second Doctor of who I’ll confess I’m not the most ardent fan of. The Fourth Doctor is my Doctor. Troughton had a long genre resume starting with Hamlet and Treasure Island early on before preceding to such works as Scars of Dracula and Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell later on. Tellie wise, I see him on R.U.R. Radius playing a robot, on a Fifties Robin Hood show being that character, and on The Feathered Serpent. This is children’s series set in pre-Columbian Mexico and starring Patrick Troughton as the scheming High Priest Nasca. H’h. (Died 1987.)
  • Born March 25, 1939 D. C. Fontana, 80. Though best known for her work on the first Trek series, she was a story editor and associate producer on the animated series as well. During the 70s, she was staff for such series as Six Million Dollar ManLogan’s Run and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. She later wrote for the fanfic Star Trek: New Voyages series.
  • Born March 25, 1947 Elton John, 72. He appeared in Tommy, UK version as the Pinball Wizard, a perfect role for him. I see he appeared on The Muppet Show as the guest of the week and showed in Kingsman: The Golden Circle as himself.
  • Born March 25, 1950 Robert O’Reilly, 69. Best known I’d say for his appearance in the Trek franchise for a decade in his recurring role on Next Gen and DS9 as Chancellor Gowron, the leader of the Klingon Empire.  He made one further appearance in the Trek verse as Kago-Darr in the Enterprise “Bounty” episode. Other genre series he appeared in include Fantasy Island, Knight Rider, Incredible Hulk, MacGyver, Max Headroom and the first version of The Flash. I’ll let y’all tell me your favorite films with him as cast. 
  • Born March 25, 1964 Kate DiCamillo, 55. She is just being one of six people to win two Newbery Medals, noting the wonderfulness of The Tale of Despereaux and Flora & Ulysses. The first I’ve encountered, the tale of a swords mouse in making, the latter I’ve not. Her Mercy Watson series is about the adventures of a fictional pig, illustrated by Chris Van Dusen.

(12) A LITTLE TINGLE. Chuck Tingle has expanded his repertoire to short videos.

His non-moving pictures are still funny, too:

(13) WORTH THE EFFORT. Pippa reviews A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine” at Fantasy-Faction.

…Arkady Martine gives us an impressive sci-fi debut, with intricate worldbuilding and a compelling plot. Court intrigue and political manoeuvring play a large role and Martine writes these elements very well. You never fully know who to trust and the way Martine slowly unveils information creates a wonderfully suspenseful atmosphere. It does take a little while for the story to get going but stick with it as it does pick up after a couple of chapters. Once I was fully invested, I didn’t want to put it down.

(14) THAT CAT MUST BE SKY HIGH. Camestros Felapton presents “Tim’s Signs of the Zodiac”.

December 21 to January 21: You are Aqua-Goat! The very quickly cancelled 1980’s cartoon superhero who was a wise-cracking sea goat who solved sea-mysteries with his gang of friends who lived on a boat. Your friends were a cheap knock-off of the Scooby gang and the Archies. Your catchphrase was ‘Time to solve this sea mystery Aqua-Goat style!’ That sounds a bit sad but unlike all these other signs at least you HAVE friends even if one of them is a badly drawn version of Jughead mixed with Shaggy.

(15) TOMORROW’S NOT THAT FAR AWAY. CW released its midseason trailer for DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.

The Legends continue their new mission to protect the timeline from temporal aberrations – unusual changes to history that spawn potentially catastrophic consequences. When Nate, the grandson of J.S.A. member Commander Steel, unexpectedly finds himself with powers, he must overcome his own insecurities and find the hero within himself. Ultimately, the Legends will clash with foes both past and present, to save the world from a mysterious new threat.

(16) CRANIAL RETENTIVE. BBC reports research that shows “New brain cells made throughout life”.

People keep making new brain cells throughout their lives (well at least until the age of 97), according to a study on human brains.

The idea has been fiercely debated, and it used to be thought we were born with all the brain cells we will ever have.

The researchers at the University of Madrid also showed that the number of new brain cells tailed off with age.

And it falls dramatically in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease – giving new ideas for treating the dementia.

Most of our neurons – brain cells that send electrical signals – are indeed in place by the time we are born.

Studies on other mammals have found new brains cells forming later in life, but the extent of “neurogenesis” in the human brain is still a source of debate.

(17) MILESTONE. “The first all-female spacewalk” — story is item #4 at the link.

Two astronauts, Christina Koch and Anne McClain, will conduct a spacewalk to replace batteries powering the International Space Station on Friday. It’s expected to last for about seven hours.

Nasa says they didn’t deliberately set out to pair Ms Koch and Ms McClain on the spacewalk, since missions are determined by scheduling issues and ability.

But of all the people who have been in space, fewer than 11% are women – so this mission is seen as a significant moment for women in space.

(18) HAVE A GUINNESS. “Harry Potter: Tonna fan bags memorabilia world record” – BBC has the story.

A Harry Potter superfan has managed to “Slytherin” to the record books after collecting thousands of pieces of memorabilia.

Victoria Maclean, of Tonna, Neath Port Talbot, has 3,686 individual JK Rowling-related items.

This earned her the Wizarding World Collection world record – which includes the Fantastic Beasts series.

YouTuber Mrs Maclean, 38, said: “I screamed a lot – it was so incredible after all these months.”

She was presented with her world record certificate by Guinness World Records on Wednesday.

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “The Man Sitting Next To You” on Vimeo, Ali Ali tells us why going to the movies can be a nightmare.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Peer, Dann, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Daniel Dern, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kurt Busiek.]