Pixel Scroll 12/21 Rudolph the Scroll Nosed Reindeer

(1) SHE WAS ON WHAT KIND OF TRIP? The Mirror knows we can’t resist looking: “Woman ‘photobombed by alien’ during selfie on passenger jet on business trip”.

A woman has posted a selfie taken on a plane in which she claims she was photobombed – by an alien.

Olesya Podkorytov from the city of Kurgan in south-central Russia’s Kurgan Oblast region said she took the picture during the flight on a whim but when she posted it on social media friends pointed out something strange a few seats behind.

(2) BEFORE THERE WERE FOREHEAD CLOTHS. Movie bracket maven Hampus Eckerman pointed to this LA Times story, “’Young Frankenstein’ has new life on 40th anniversary”.

Director Mel Brooks spent a lot of money on white handkerchiefs while making his 1974 tour de farce, “Young Frankenstein.”

“I gave everybody in the crew a white handkerchief,” said the 88-year-old comedy legend during a recent phone interview. “I said, ‘When you feel like laughing, put this in your mouth.’ Every once in a while, I’d turn around and see a sea of white handkerchiefs, and I said, ‘I got a hit.'”

“Young Frankenstein” was more than a hit. It is a comic masterpiece.

(3) ‘TWAS CHITTY. Joined by Conan O’Brian, Dick Van Dyke and his a capella group, The Vantastix, sing the title song from his 1968 movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Van Dyke recently turned 90 but he can still belt out a tune.

(4) THE TRANSOM IS SHUT. Tor.com will no longer consider unsolicited short fiction submissions effective January 7, 2016 reports Locus Online.

(5) C. S. LEWIS. Matthew David Surridge is doing a read-through of C.S. Lewis works at Black Gate. The first two parts are —

“Wandering the Worlds of C.S. Lewis, Part I: Boxen”

I have read some, though far from all, of Lewis’ non-fiction; I intend to talk about it only insofar as I see a bearing on his fiction. I’m interested in seeing what images, tones, ideas, and approaches unite a fairly disparate corpus of writing. I want to see how Lewis’ approach to storytelling developed over his life, and how motifs and themes recurred in his work. I hope that by doing this I’ll better understand his individual books. At any rate, I’ll begin here with a look at Lewis’ published juvenilia…

“Wandering the Worlds of C.S. Lewis, Part II: Spirits in Bondage”

Today, I want to go through Lewis’ first book, a collection of lyric poems called Spirits in Bondage, published in 1919 when Lewis was still an atheist.

Yesterday I quoted Lewis’ judgement in his 1955 autobiography Surprised by Joy that the Boxen tales are novelistic and not poetic. If that’s so, what did the older Lewis think about the poetry he wrote in his youth? Did he find wonder and romance in the verse of Spirits in Bondage and Dymer? Hard to judge. Lewis doesn’t mention either volume in Surprised by Joy. Which strikes me as a little odd.

(6) CAREER GUIDANCE. David Gerrold responded on Facebook to Dr. Mauser (thought not actually by name). Between his very funny lines about being a so-called internet blowhard and his thoroughly serious rebuttal comes good advice for writers about dealing with controversy.

1) Never never never never never get into feuds. Whatever credibility you might have, you are automatically lending it to anyone you feud with because you are implying they are of equal validity, when most of the time they are not. People who enjoy feuds are automatically downgrading their credibility.

2) If you must respond, focus solely on the issue. Do not get into any personal remarks of any kind. Discuss issues only, not personalities. (This is because everyone has issues, not everyone has a personality.)

3) Never vilify a whole class or group of people — this generalization assumes that everyone in that class or group thinks and acts alike, that they are a monolithic army of clones. They are not. (I have stumbled here, more than once, and have now learned this lesson very well.)

And finally,

4) Always demand evidence.

(7) COMICS HUGO. George R.R. Martin has “More Hugo Ruminations” at Not A Blog.

I really don’t think we needed to add a Graphic Story category to the Hugo Awards. Comics have their own awards, the Eisners, they don’t need the Hugo too. Besides, most SF fans do not follow comics closely enough to make informed judgements in this area.

That being said, however, I have to concede that the fans did pretty damned well nominating in this category last year. SAGA was the only one of the finalists that I had actually heard of before Sasquan announced last year’s ballot… but I dutifully read all the others before I voted, and for the most part, I was impressed (okay, not by the Puppy nominee, which was several notches below the other four)… especially by MS. MARVEL, a whole new take on the character (actually a whole new character with an old name), a charming new addition to the Marvel universe, and the eventual winner.

So… I still don’t love Graphic Novel as a Hugo category, but it exists, and those who follow the field more closely than me should nominate Good Stuff here again, and maybe I’ll have more comic books to discover and delight in when the final ballot comes out.

Meanwhile, I do have one truly outstanding graphic novel to suggest… I am not totally disconnected from the world of comics, y’see… and that’s a book called THE SCULPTOR, by Scott McCloud….

(8) TOWERING TRAILER. The movie High-Rise is based on a J.G. Ballard novel.

(9) Today In History

Doctor Who fans may not be surprised to discover that those forceful characters the Daleks appear to be the only one of the Doctor’s enemies to have been given their own celebratory day. Dalek Day is held on 21st December each year. This date was chosen to commemorate the anniversary of the Daleks because they made their first TV appearance in Doctor Who on 21st December 1963. The official title of Dalek Day is the International Dalek Remembrance Day. There does not appear to be any regular organised celebrations each year to commemorate Dalek Day and it is unclear whether Dalek supporters meet or actually even dress up in Dalek costumes. Many of their fans appear to celebrate Dalek Day at home by having a Doctor Who marathon and watching again their favourite episodes with the Daleks battling against the Doctor.

  • December 21, 1937 — Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the first full-length animated feature film, opened in Los Angeles.
  • December 21, 1984Don’t Open ‘Till Christmas opens slightly before Christmas.

(10) NO ROOM IN THE FUTURE FOR RANDY GARRETT. The Traveler at Galactic Journey reviews the January 1961 Analog in a manner that makes a reader wonder if this blog theme is a good fit for somebody who hates a prolific author for the most popular prozine of its time. Not because The Traveler ought to like something he doesn’t, but who’s going to want to hear about it every month?

Thus, it is too early to tell whether or not Analog is ever going to pull itself out of its literary doldrums.  I had such high hopes after December’s issue; January’s has dashed them.

It doesn’t help that Randall Garrett is still one of Campbell’s favorite writers.  I’m not sure if Garrett’s stories are lousy because Campbell tells Garrett what he should write, or if they’re lousy because Garrett writes what he knows Campbell will take.  Or maybe Garrett and Campbell independently share awful taste.  In any event, the long long lead novella, The Highest Treason, is a one-star drek-fest if ever there was one.

(11) TIX FOR RADIO PERFORMANCE OF WYNDHAM. Tickets are available to attend a live recording of John Wyndham’s The Kraken Wakes by BBC4 with the BBC Philharmonic. The event will be Friday, January 8, 2016 at MediaCityUK in Salford. Ticket applications are open until December 27.

Join the BBC Philharmonic and BBC Radio 4 for radio drama, The Kraken Wakes. This modern retelling of John Wyndham’s 1953 apocalyptic novel, is adapted by crime writer and dramatist Val McDermid and stars Tamsin Greig, Paul Higgins and Richard Harrington.

This is a rare chance to see a radio drama recorded for Radio 4 with a live orchestral accompaniment from the BBC Philharmonic.

Composer Alan Edward Williams has created a brand new orchestral score that will ‘play the part’ of the great sea monster during the performance.

The Kraken Wakes will be recorded as a live performance in two parts. The drama will then be broadcast later in the year on BBC Radio 4.

(12) CLASSIC RADIO SF. Open Culture helps you “Hear 6 Classic Philip K. Dick Stories Adapted as Vintage Radio Plays”.

As you can probably tell if you’ve interacted with any of his hard-core fans, the science fiction of Philip K. Dick has a way of getting into readers’ heads. What better way to adapt it, then, than in the medium of radio drama, with its direct route into the head through the ears? Science fiction in general provided radio drama with a good deal of bread-and-butter subject matter since pretty much its inception, and suitably so: its producers didn’t have to bother designing distant worlds, alien races and elaborately futuristic technologies when, with the right sound design, the listeners would design it all themselves in their imaginations.

From the series Mind Webs, which ran on Wisconsin public radio, “The Preserving Machine,” “Impostor,” and “The Builder.” From X Minus One, “Colony” and “The Defenders.”From Sci-Fi Radio, “Sales Pitch.”

(13) FRANCHISE SF. The Documentary, on BBC’s World Service, has posted its 56-minute feature “Homer, Hagrid and the Incredible Hulk”.

Ben Hammersley meets creators and fans to investigate how extended fictional universes, from Star Wars and Harry Potter to Game of Thrones, took over global culture. He examines the huge financial success of the world’s biggest franchises, and argues that their stories – the identity of Luke Skywalker’s father, for example – have become common cultural touchstones around the world.

To understand how these expansive fictional universes are created and maintained, Ben visits professor Dumbledore’s office to talk to Stuart Craig, production designer on the Harry Potter films. He goes to Los Angeles to meet Lauren Faust, creator of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. And, he travels to San Diego Comic Con where he discusses a number of different universes with Marc Zicree, writer on numerous film and TV series, including Star Trek.

Ben also speaks to authors Robin Hobb and Warren Ellis, and to Axel Alonso and Ryan Penagos from Marvel. He hears from numerous fans, including Game of Thrones super-fans Linda Antonsson and Elio Garcia about the joys of fandom.

(14) NON-REALISTIC SF ART. Joachim Boaz’ “Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Jack Gaughan’s Covers For Walker & Co. (1969-1970)” revisits covers of books I remember borrowing from the library when I was in high school.

Some famous novels are graced by his covers: James Blish’s A Case of Conscience (1958), Stanislaw Lem’s Solaris (1961), Silverberg’s Nightwings (1968), Ursula Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness (1969), and Norman Spinrad’s Bug Jack Barron (1969).

Stainless Steel Rat cover Gaughan

Titles in this art sequence without suitable images online: A Gift from Earth (1968), Re-Birth (1955), All Judgement Fled (1968), Trouble with Lichen (1960), The Midwich Cuckoos (1957).

(15) MAGIC NUMBER. Obviously I must mention something titled “Five for 2015: 5 TV Characters of the Year”, Jon Morgan’s post on Pornokitsch. Under discussion are Agent Carter, Phyrne Fisher, Jessica Jones, Kimmy Schmidt and Cat Grant.

(16) HE SLEIGHS ME. At Whatever, John Scalzi has an “Interview With Santa’s Reindeer Wrangler”.

Q: We could talk about that. I mean, the general violation of physics that goes on around the whole Santa’s sleigh thing.

A: Look, I don’t pretend to know the science of the flying sleigh thing, okay? That’s not my job. You can ask Santa’s physicists about it if you want.

Q: Santa has physicists on staff?

A: Of course he does. He’s one of the largest recruiters of physicists outside of NASA. What, you thought all this happened because of magic?

Q: Well, now that you mention it, yes. Yes, I did.

(17) MALCONTENT WARNING. Darth Santa…. Great production values for a video whose humor may leave you a little ill. Or laughing your ass off, depending on what meds you’ve taken today.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Nigel, Martin Morse Wooster, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day redheadedfemme.]

285 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 12/21 Rudolph the Scroll Nosed Reindeer

  1. Ok, here’s my top five SF films:

    Andromeda Strain (1971 version)
    Jurassic Park
    Terminator 2
    Young Frankenstein

  2. Final Bracket: Empire. 2001 was neat, but ESB holds together better.

    I would’ve liked to see The Man From Earth get a nod, but it’s too obscure:

    On a cold night in a remote cabin, Professor John Oldman gathers his most trusted colleagues for an extraordinary announcement: He is an immortal who has migrated through 140 centuries of evolution and must now move on. Is Oldman truly Cro-Magnon or simply insane? Now one man will force these scientists and scholars to confront their own notions of history, religion and humanity, all leading to a final revelation that may shatter their world forever.

    Along similar lines, one I would’ve considered for the Fantasy bracket is The Second Coming, aka “Davies and Eccleston tackle religion.” Eccleston stars as a video store clerk who wanders off on his 30th birthday, only to return 40 days later claiming that he’s the son of God… and he is. It’s a rehash of the Gospels mixed with “how would that announcement play today,” and there’s something in there to offend any religious stance.

  3. 1. Meh. TESB

    2. Star Wars (1977 version), Blade Runner (Denver cut), STIV

    3. Still in sugar coma, now with extra cookies.

  4. @BGrandrath: “(I sense a theme in the two finalists…each had a great character killed off way too soon, HAL and Boba Fett)”

    Fett didn’t die in Empire. Some people even deny he died in Jedi. And as far as “great character” goes… I don’t see it. Aside from one useful thing (spotting the garbage ploy), Fett is an incompetent guy who sounds like a pirate and has a cool suit of armor. He stands around, looks cool, and can’t do anything noteworthy without help. He’s Greedo in a fancy suit.


    The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

    Not my top five, necessarily, but ones I would’ve voted for earlier in the brackets if given the chance: Tron. The Black Hole. Blade Runner. Brazil. Close Encounters.

    Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

    The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

    I understand the love for 2001 but given a choice between the two I will always pick ESB.


    Gosh this is hard ! But I am going to give this answer today by the ranking my top 5 and giving other contenders in the same category.

    1. Stalker – it is mesmizeringly beautiful and mysterious; it’s more like a tone poem or a waking dream so it requires attention and investment to engage with it but it’s amazing. Other movies that are beautiful and striking include 2001 and Interstellar
    2. ESB – it’s the best of the trilogy, followed by a new hope and then return of the jedi. This is the best popcorn movie, beating out Star Trek II, Ther Terminator, Matrix, Jurassic Park, and Aliens.
    3. Alien – this was a hard fight between it and The Thing / Invansion of the Body Snatchers, but Alien is the best horror science fiction film.
    4. On Edge of Tomorrow – this is very clever and imaginative and I really don’t like Tom Cruise but this film won me over. Other contenders for clever time traveling movies include Groundhog Day, Looper and Back to the Future.
    5. Ghostbusters – this is the funniest sci-fi movie I don’t know if it qualifies for the brackets but I love this film. Runners up would be Star Trek IV.

    I have not been able to follow the bracket very closely but here are some thoughts – They Live!, The Man Who Fell to Earth, Brazil, The Last Man (title probably wrong but the one where people stopped having children), V for Vendetta, and Time Bandits

    The Empire Strikes Back (1980). I think that 2001 has unarguable technical merits, I find myself shifting in the direction of saying “if I don’t want to actually partake of it again, maybe it’s lacking something important”. (There are exceptions, as always.) So, ESB it is.

    Oh, no can do. Instead, I’m going to grab five slots for the next question.

    * Strange Days (1995). A seriously cyberpunk film, about the social transformations following from the use of a new technology (memory recording) in ways the authorities didn’t anticipate and can’t control, and a heck of a personal story. Ralph Fiennes is great as the strung-out ex-cop still yearning for the ambitious singer who left him behind; Angela Basset is even better as the single mother who made herself into a high-powered chauffeur for the sake of her boy, who loves Fiennes and is exhausted by him at the same time, who fears for him, and who can’t tell him any of that. It also does a fantastic spin on what could have been a pretty conventional story of police conspiracy. It’s a small film, but a great one. (It also has a really cool end credits song by Peter Gabriel and Deep Forest.)

    * Until the End of the World (1991). Ideally you’d see this in the six-hour version, but the three-hour version released commercially is mighty good too. This is a global road trip, following a cast of misfits, schemers, and exiles through the final days of 1999, with an out-of-control nuclear satellite providing a ground note of fear everywhere. Solveig Dommartin is great as the restless young woman who sets the plot in motion with her impulsive decisions, Sam Neill excellent as the older man who loves her and knows he doesn’t understand her, William Hurt great as the guy on the run who crosses her path, and a bunch more. Max von Sydow and Jeanne Moreau are luminous as Hurt’s parents, full of love for each other, in hiding in the Australian Outback. The comedy is really funny, the action is really existing, and the drama is really heart-wrenching.

    It also has a remarkable soundtrack. Wim Wenders recruited a bunch of talented bands and asked them to record in the style they’d be using in 1999. So it’s full of folks doing unusual things, to great effect.

    * The Rook (1994). Not many people seem to have ever seen this, and not all of them liked it as much as I did. They are as wrong as wrong things, however. This is an alternate-history murder mystery, set in a Britain with non-steampunk Victorian-ish technology and (something a bunch of viewers seem to have missed) a gnostic state church. The main character is an investigator looking into what should be a straightforward murder, who runs into the classic dilemma of what someone trying to do good should, or can, do when it turns out the institutions of society have no interest in that.

    * Avalon (2001). A gorgeous, really seriously gorgeous, movie about hardcore competitive computer gamers in the near future. The writer very clearly knew his stuff when it comes to gamer culture, with so many little details done well. The scenes of action in a highly competitive PVP game are altogether lovely. I think there’s a big debt to Tarkovsky being paid in this film.

    * Because I am as merciful as I am long-winded (why do my recommendations always go on sooo much longer than others’?), I will not at this time mount an argument for Koyaanisqatsi as an sf film.


    The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

    Rank your top 5 Science Fiction movies.
    1 Metropolis
    2 Star Wars
    3 Brazil
    4 Gattaca
    5 Time Bandits

    Nominated or not, now is your time to name them.
    Dark Star says hubby
    For me Star Wars is the SF movie of all time

  9. Hampus Eckeman on December 26, 2015 at 2:14 am said:

    The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
    2001 (1968)

    Rank your top 5 Science Fiction movies.
    I can’t really order them because I’d have a different order 10 seconds later (and maybe a couple of different choices), but my top five (at this moment) are:

    Star Wars
    Young Frankenstein

    Nominated or not, now is your time to name them.

    Cloverfield – I thought it was pretty good.

    ETA: And thank you for a wonderful bracket run, Hampus!!!!


    2001 (1968)

    Rank your top 5 Science Fiction movies.
    The Terminator
    12 Monkeys

    Nominated or not, now is your time to name them.
    Children of Men
    Strange Days

  11. Just want to say that you are not forgotten. Continue to vote, I will be a bit late with the results today.

  12. Empire.

    I’ve been thinking about the other questions and they make my brain explode. Darned Christmas headcold. So I’ll just sit back and see what everyone else had to say.


    The Empire Strikes Back (1980) – 25 votes
    2001 (1968) – 13 votes

    HAL: It can only be attributable to human error.
    Yoda: Told you I did.

    WINNER: The Empire Strikes Back


    These are the top ten movies according to filers when they can vote freely without brackets. I’m not sure if these result is more accurate, as Star Wars lost to The Empire Strikes Back in a straight vote, but if we only go for top 5, this is what gives:

    1. Star Wars
    2. Blade Runner
    3. Alien
    4. Brazil
    5. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
    6. Aliens
    7. Forbidden Planet
    8. Stalker
    9. 2001
    10. The Empire Strikes Back

    The rest that was named on peoples top lists:

    Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
    Terminator 2
    Dr. Strangelove
    Andromeda Strain
    Ghost in the Shell
    Wings of Honneamise
    Bride of Frankenstein
    Captain America: The Winter Soldier
    The Terminator
    Jurassic Park
    The Matrix
    Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
    The Black Hole
    The Avengers
    Back to the Future
    Galaxy Quest
    Fifth Element
    Dark City
    Robinson Crusoe on Mars
    Lilo & Stitch
    The Edge of Tomorrow
    Summer Wars
    Guardians of the Galaxy
    Mad Max: Road Warrior
    Iron Man
    Young Frankenstein
    Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
    Close Encounters.
    They Live
    Time Bandits
    Airplane II
    The Thing


    Five votes:

    Three votes:

    The Prestige
    The Day the Earth Stood Still

    Two votes:

    The Man Who Fell to Earth
    The Faculty
    Strange Days 

    One vote:

    City of Lost Children
    The Last Starfighter
    The End of Evangelion
    Under the Skin
    Repo Man
    Donnie Darko
    Macross: Do You Remember Love?
    Patlabor II
    Space Cowboys
    Rise of the Planet of the Apes
    The Nines
    Spider-Man 2
    Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome
    The Man In The White Suit
    The Man who Fell to Earth
    MST3K the Movie
    The Quiet Earth
    Quatermass and the Pit
    Brother from Another Planet
    Invaders from Mars
    Quest for Fire
    Tomorrow I’ll Wake Up and Scald Myself With Tea
    Time After Time
    Real Genius
    Silent Running
    Pitch Black
    The Girl Who Lept Through Time
    The Man From Earth
    Star Trek: The Motion Picture
    They Live!
    The Last Man
    V for Vendetta
    Time Bandits
    Until the End of the World
    The Rook
    Dark Star
    Star Wars
    Children of Men


    This bracket has been much harder than the Fantasy Movie Bracket where most people seemed to be in agreement. Just looking at the many different movies from peoples top lists and what they see as hidden gems show how large a diversity there is among fans. These are no lockstep voters.

    In almost every round there were movies with near-ties, 1-3 votes differing. With another pairing everything might have gone another way, even if we can see from the top list that most the popular choices also managed to get to the last rounds.

    Anyway, thank you all for participating.

    And I will not forgive you for not nominating Deathrace 2000 and Killer Klowns from Outer Space to the bracket. Those will be my hidden gems.

  14. @Hampus

    Thank you for all the work you put into this, and for making it so much fun to follow.

  15. @Hampus fantastic brackets. You were great. I love the what you did for the final. Seeing the results of the top 5 was interesting. Thank you so much for running these. I’m awed by the amount of work filers put into running these to make them fun for all.

    If only the Hugos were as much fun as our brackets. 😀

  16. Fifthing the vote of thanks to Hampus, and to all the previous bracket runners.

    And so many “hidden gems” to look out for in the future! (okay, some of them weren’t hidden so well that I’ve missed them, but there’s plenty I hadn’t even heard of before)

  17. Rev. Bob:

    “It seems that The Man Who Fell to Earth simultaneously got one and two votes…”

    Miss by me. Should be three votes.

  18. Thanks Hampus, it was a fun bracket and I have several movies to check out later now thanks to Filer’s recommendations

  19. Thanks for all your hard work on that, Hampus! Your clever results bracket commentaries were great fun. 😀

  20. Thanks, @Hampus Eckerman! I vaguely recall you saying you were going to use the Hugo voting system for the top 5 – if so, that would explain the different results. If I misremembered, sorry. Either way – thanks again. 😀

  21. Kendall: I didn’t use the Hugo voting system really, more like a cross between that and EPH. Something I had written earlier this summer for fun and decided to reuser. So there might be minor differences and the result isn’t that scientific.

    But mostly I think that there is a difference between people saying that ESB is better than Star Wars and people wanting to place ESB as their first choice in a top 5.

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