(1) OKORAFOR IS PERSON OF THE YEAR. Nnedi Okorafor was named Person of the Year at the 2018 African Diaspora Awards presented December 1 reports the Amsterdam News.
The Society for Africans in Diaspora held their eighth annual African Diaspora Awards at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture Dec. 2, 2018. The African Diaspora Awards celebrate prominent people in the Africa Diaspora around the world.
Photo at Locus Online.
(2) ABOUT TOLKIEN. Pages Unbound Book Reviews names “10 Must-Read Books about J. R. R. Tolkien”.
J. R. R. Tolkien: Author of the Century by Tom Shippey
Tom Shippey’s work is perhaps the Tolkien criticism and, if you can only read one book about Tolkien, this should be it. Shippey explains how Tolkien was inspired by philological difficulties and missing information in old myths and legends to create his own mythology that explains those difficulties and fills in those gaps. Shippey’s own knowledge of philology gives him insight into Tolkien’s understanding that many other critics lack.
(3) THE ENVELOPE, PLEASE. Galactic Journey has revealed its picks for the best sff of 1963! Three books rated a callout for Best Novel – one of them, Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut. “[December 11, 1963] Count every star (1963’s Galactic Stars)”. Lots of other categories.
In any event, it’s now December, a time for reflection. Specifically, reflection on which book, stories, artists, creators, films and TV shows stood out from all the rest. Yes, folks — it’s time for the 1963 edition of The Galactic Stars!
(4) KEEP WATCHING THE SKIES. Ireland’s Independent says the numbers how “Aliens are coming to Belgium as UFO sightings soar in 2018”.
UFO sightings over Belgium surged last year with the public reporting higher numbers of possible alien spaceships than in 2017.
Belgium recorded 255 reports of UFOs in 2018, an increase on the 171 witnessed the previous year.
Sightings were up across the whole country, with increases in Wallonia, Flanders and Brussels.
(5) CLEAR AS MUDD. Io9 quizzes “Rainn Wilson on the Many Layers of Harry Mudd, and the Lighter Side of Star Trek.”
Star Trek: Short Treks has so far been the perfect way to while away the time until Discovery’s return in a few weeks. Tonight, “The Escape Artist,” the fourth and final minisode in the series, shines a spotlight on the infamous Harcourt Fenton Mudd—and to learn more, we spoke to Mudd himself, Rainn Wilson….
io9: Can you tell us a bit about how you were approached for the chance to be a part of this Short Treks venture?
Rainn Wilson: Yeah, well, I really enjoyed playing Harry Mudd for Star Trek: Discovery, and we’d always been having a kind of back-and-forth discussion about, “How do we have more Harry Mudd?” And, you know, “Can you do more episodes?” And trying to figure that out. Then this kind of came from out of the blue. They just said, “Hey, we’re doing these shorts and we have a Harry Mudd short and we’d love for you to direct it as well as act in it.” And I think they wanted to sweeten the deal by having me direct it. Which was great. It was a great opportunity for me. And I had a blast.
(6) THE EMERALD AISLE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] OK, how often does File 770 run a beauty article? Ever? Actor Jackie Burns, who has played Elphaba onstage in Wicked over 1,300 times, has probably been green for more hours than your typical college frat dude with a taste for cheap liquor. The Hollywood Reporter has the story of how she gets green—and ungreen—without destroying her skin (“Elphaba from ‘Wicked’ on How to Keep Your Skin Glowing After All That Green”).
I’ve played the role of Elphaba longer than any other actress on Broadway. I’ve performed the role over 1,300 times. With eight performances each week, that means I spend close to 30 hours every week “going green,” as we say in the Wicked biz. If you do the math that adds up to being green over 4,000 hours of my life.
Burns goes on to describe the makeup process (including changes made between acts), the products she uses afterwards to take it all off, and what she uses between shows. The article reads a bit like an advertisement for a whole raft of products, but if you (or someone in your life) perhaps makes the occasional appearance in local theater you might learn something.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born January 4, 1785 – Jacob Grimm. Here solely for two reasons, the first being the he and his brother were the first to systematically collect folktales from the peasantry and write them down. Second is that the number of genre novels and short stories that used the Grimms’ Fairy Tales as their source for ideas is, well, if not infinite certainly a really high number. I’d wager that taking just those stories in any of The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror would get quite a number based on these tales. (Died 1863.)
- Born January 4, 1890 – Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson. A magazine merchant who created a lot of pulp fiction and is important as the founder of the company, National Comics Publications, which would become DC Comics. Wheeler-Nicholson’s premiere comic – New Fun #1 which was published in in February 1935 became the first comic book containing all-original material. He was a 2008 Judges’ Choice inductee into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame. (Died 1968.)
- Born January 4, 1946 – Ramsey Campbell, 73. My favorite novel by him is without doubt The Darkest Part of the Woods which has a quietly building horror to it. I know he’s better-known for his sprawling (pun full intended) Cthulhu mythology writings but I never got into those preferring his other novels such as his Solomon Kane movie novelization which is quite superb.
- Born January 4, 1958 – Matt Frewer, 61. His greatest role has to be as Max Headroom on the short-lived series of the same name. Amazingly I think it still stands thirty five years later as SF well crafted. Just a taste of his later series SF appearances include playing Jim Taggart, scientist and dog catcher on Eureka, Pestilence in Supernatural, Dr. Kirschner in 12 Monkeys and Carnage in Altered Carbon. His film genre appearance list is just as impressive but I’ll single out Supergirl, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, The Stand, Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life (oh do guess where he is in it) and lastly Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, a series of films that I really like.
- Born January 4, 1962 – Graham McTavish, 57.He has played Thangbrand in Erik the Viking, voiced in The Wind in The Willows, Dwalin in The Hobbit trilogy, Dougal Mackenzie in the Outlander series, Submarine Captain in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The Cradle of Life (I like those films a lot) and the Saint of Killers in the Preacher series.
- Born January 4, 1982 – Kerry Condon, 37. She provides the voice of F.R.I.D.A.Y. in the Marvel Universe films. More impressively, she was the youngest actress ever to play Ophelia in a Royal Shakespeare Company production of Hamlet. She also played Clara on three episodes of The Walking Dead, and I see she was Dr. Zoe Boyle In Believe, one of those many series that disappeared before anyone knew they existed.
- Born January 4, 1985 – Lenora Crichlow, 34. She played Annie Sawyer on the BBC version of Being Human from 2009 to 2012. She has made an appearence in Doctor Who as Cheen In the “Gridlock” episode, and she appeared as Victoria Skillane in the “White Bear” of Black Mirror.
(8) COMICS SECTION.
- Who’s Frankenstein? This Tom the Dancing Bug has the answer. Well, two answers. Both wrong. If we’re being pedantic about it.
- In this Last Kiss, we find out how to achieve real stability. (Pssst, the secret is comics.)
(9) SKIFFY CHANGES THE WORLD. VICE News has published a 7-part video series on, “How sci-fi has changed your life, even if you don’t realize it.” (It sounds promising, but I haven’t watched it yet.)
VICE News recently spoke with noted science-fiction authors and scholars, including “The Martian“ author Andy Weir and “The Expanse” co-authors Daniel Abraham and Ty Frank, for a series exploring the often inspiring, occasionally terrifying, and always thought-provoking ways science and sci-fi have overlapped and shape the world around us.
(10) YOU CAN’T TALK TO ME LIKE THAT! Comcast’s Xfinity X1 Voice Remote just won’t countenance that kind of language, says The Hollywood Reporter.
Two users have confirmed to THR that the remote gets snippy when asked to play episodes of The Dick Van Dyke Show. “Sorry, I cannot handle commands with that type of language,” it responds. Commands for “Dick Van Dyke” are now able to be completed after the problem was discovered, according to an Xfinity spokesperson: “We want to provide our customers with a best-in-class voice control experience that is also safe and appropriate for every member of the family. Last month alone, our customers issued 700 million voice commands, and when issues like this arise, we work to address them quickly.”
(11) LIKE YOU NEED LITTLE BRANDING IRONS FOR BRANDING ANTS. BBC presents a photogallery about “The business of eating bugs”. And just so you’re warned, the landing page has a great big photo of someone chomping a grasshopper.
Tiny critters are becoming big business in the food and agriculture sector, and for good reason.
Westerners are increasingly seeing edible insects as a sustainable form of a ‘complete protein’. Insects offer all nine amino acids essential to the human diet, similar to animal proteins.
But it’s not just about nutrition. The environmental sustainability of insect farming poses a compelling reason to embrace entomophagy – the practice of eating insects. Insects can offer as much protein as animals when produced on a large enough scale, but need far fewer natural resources than beef, pork or poultry production and also emit a fraction of the greenhouse gases.
This is big news for the agriculture sector, which is not only the world’s biggest land and water user but also one of the most significant greenhouse gas producers.
(12) CALL THE PARATIME POLICE! It’s right here in the news — “Edinburgh scientists discover mammoth secret in ivory DNA”.
…But in the work on Cambodian ivory samples the researchers have uncovered something even more exotic: DNA from woolly mammoths.
Mammoths are not covered by international agreements on endangered species for the unfortunate but unavoidable reason that they have already been extinct for around 10,000 years.
It is relatively easy to spot the difference between elephant and mammoth tusks.
But once the ivory has been carved into trinkets it is far harder.
“To our surprise, within a tropical country like Cambodia, we found mammoth samples within the ivory trinkets that are being sold,” says Dr Ball.
“So this has basically come from the Arctic tundra, dug out the ground.
“And the shop owners are calling it elephant ivory but we’ve found out it’s actually mammoth.”
(13) GEORGE MACDONALD COMIC. In National Review Online, Kathryn Jean Lopez, in “Light in the Comic World”, interviews Mark Rodgers, head of Cave Pictures Publishing, about why he is about to publish a comic based on George MacDonald’s The Light Princess.
Kathryn Jean Lopez: What’s so special about The Light Princess?Rodgers: George MacDonald was a pioneer in modern fairy tales, and his work ultimately shaped writers such as C. S. Lewis and J. R. Tolkien. In fact, Lewis said that MacDonald’s book Phantastes “baptized his imagination” and considered him his “master.” Chris Mitchell, the former director of the Wade Center at Wheaton College, the depository of Lewis and the other Inklings works, considered The Light Princess the most profound of MacDonald’s works, and the one which parallels the gospel most closely.
(14) FOUR-LEGGED THESPIANS. The New York Times asks “Are Animals Getting Better at Acting?”
…By these modern standards, Toto is an amateur. Mister Ed? A hack. A year of buzzy pet performances raises the question: Are animals getting better at acting?
Daniel Dern sent the link with a small grump: “No mention of (the movie) Harry and Tonto (starring Art Carney as Harry).” Apparently, this is a grave oversight.
(15) SHERLOCK SUMMARY. Lyndsay Faye, in “The Year in Sherlockiana” on Crimereads, summarizes events of 2018 of interest to Sherlock Holmes fans, including the HBO Asia series Miss Sherlock Takes Tokyo, the auctioning of a Sherlock Holmes short story for $361,000, and the Sherlock Holmes parody on Family Guy where Stewie says, “I rathboned someone’s cumberbatch.”
Miss Sherlock Takes Tokyo
As much as we enjoy the strong female characters bountifully scattered throughout the canon, there are no limitations when it comes to reimagining our heroes, and I was particularly thrilled by HBO Asia and Hulu Japan’s decision to produce a new series starring Yuko Takeuchi as Sherlock Holmes (Sara Shelly Fubata), and Shihori Kanjiya as Dr. Watson (Dr. Wato Tachibana). The sleek production design is a post-BBC Sherlock thing of beauty, and modern-day Tokyo looks as gorgeous as Victorian London ever did. All things Sherlockian are popular in Japan (I have very fond memories of Sherlock Hound, for example), and it’s a particular joy to see the passion they put into this sharp, funny, clever series.
(16) FAMILY GUY REFERENCE. “The Drunken Clam Bar From ‘Family Guy’ Exists, and It’s in Dallas” – Food & Wine has pictures to prove it.
The Knox-Henderson area Whippersnapper bar (1806 McMillan Avenue) is undergoing a massive interior renovation. But, before the big overhaul, the space is temporarily transforming into a cartoon-world watering hole. “We have some exciting plans for The Whip moving forward, but we thought we’d have a little fun first by bringing The Drunken Clam to Dallas,” co-owner Brandon Hays said in a statement. “Whether you’re a fan of the show or not, we think you’ll enjoy dropping by and checking out the pop-up bar along with drink specials, photo opportunities and more!”
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Paul Weimer, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, Carl Slaughter, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, JJ, Nicholas Whyte, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Robert Whitaker Sirignano.]