Pixel Scroll 2/21/20 Pixels Strike Curious Poses, They Scroll The Heat, The Heat Between Me And You

(1) MAGICALLY UNEMPLOYABLE. Julien Darmoni claims “I Went To Hogwarts For Seven Years And Did Not Learn Math Or Spelling, And Now I Can’t Get A Job” in The New Yorker.

… It’s hard out here for a poorly rounded wizard. Recently, I went on magical LinkedIn and saw almost none of my Hogwarts class of 2007 represented at top-tier wizarding companies. It’s not difficult to speculate why—without the assistance of Hermione Granger, half of my fellow-Gryffindors couldn’t even conjugating most verbs, and I am not sure that the instruction we received from Hagrid the giant is technically certifiable. Additionally, I cannot sit still for more than four hours a day without embarking on spontaneous adventures, and my vocabulary is poop….

(2) THERE’S A REASON FOR THE HEAT. WIRED’s Kate Knibbs tells why “The Hottest New Literary Genre Is ‘Doomer Lit’”.

…Sure enough, a doomer perspective seems most at home in so-called climate fiction (cli-fi for short). The genre, which imagines stories and worlds shaped by climate change, is sometimes considered a cousin of science fiction. For the most part, cli-fi titles traffic in danger but contain optimistic codas, allowing their characters to triumph or at least survive. But there is a growing offshoot of more downbeat fare. Andrew Milner, a literary critic and the author of the forthcoming Science Fiction and Climate Change, has tracked the trend. Along with his coauthor, J. R. Burgmann, he calls pessimistic fatalism one of the major “paradigmatic responses to climate change in recent fiction.”…

(3) ACH! IT’S A TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE JOB, HAULING A HIPPO OUT OF A BOG. The Paris Review calls him “Russia’s Dr. Seuss”.

Let me tell you something about children’s poetry: people tend to create it for the right reasons. I was taught this concept in connection to medieval lyric poetry. My teacher’s point was that art made in the modern world is under scarcely any obligation to be good. It can be interesting instead, or new. Or it can “bear witness.” Being good—actually good—is even considered a little passé.

The minute you bring a six-year-old into the picture, though, everything changes. She doesn’t care whether what you’re doing “serves as a useful critique.” She wants it to be good. Consequently, if I’m in a used bookstore and I see a book called Thai Children’s Poetry or Setswana Children’s Poetry or Inuit Children’s Poetry, I pretty much buy it on contact. One wants to know: Does Botswana have a Dr. Seuss? Does Thailand? ’Cuz if they do, I need to know about it.

Russia had a Dr. Seuss. Same deal as ours, except his hot decade wasn’t the fifties; it was the twenties. There’s a lot to be said here.

Name: Kornei Chukovsky. Dates: 1882 to 1969. Number of supremo-supremo classic children’s books to his credit: ten or twelve. His stuff is a lot like Green Eggs and Ham: about that long; rhymes bouncing around like popcorn; no real point in sight….

(4) WESTWORLD, HO! The Hollywood Reporter introduces “‘Westworld’ Season 3 Trailer: HBO’s Science Fiction Thriller Heads to a New World”.

“I was born into this world, and my first memories of it are pain.” So speaks Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood), the artificial intelligence icon who broke free from the park confines of Westworld at the end of season two, trading her original world for a new one — our world, to be precise, albeit with some pivotal technological upgrades.

That nearish-future version of our world is front and center in the brand-new official trailer for Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy’s science fiction series, returning for its third season on March 15, with veterans like Thandie Newton and Jeffrey Wright along for the ride, as well as space for newcomers, including Breaking Bad star Aaron Paul.

(5) MONTGOMERY OBIT. “Julius Montgomery, Who Broke a Space-Age Race Barrier, Dies at 90” – the New York Times pays tribute.

Julius Montgomery had already broken one color barrier when he faced another.

In 1956, he had become the first African-American who was not a janitor to be hired to work at the Cape Canaveral space facility in Florida. He was part of a team of technical professionals, known as “range rats,” who repaired the electronics in malfunctioning ballistic missiles and satellite equipment.

Two years later, his team wanted to start a school to keep the space workers up-to-date. Brevard Engineering College, as it was to be called (Cape Canaveral is in Brevard County), planned to lease classrooms at a public junior high school near the space center.

But public officials in Florida — a state still in the grip of Jim Crow and the Ku Klux Klan — had control over who walked into their classrooms. And they didn’t want black people.

The county’s superintendent of schools said he would not allow Mr. Montgomery to participate, and he threatened to shut down the college before it even got started.

Mr. Montgomery withdrew his application so the college could open. Three years later, in 1961, Brevard secured its own facilities and admitted Mr. Montgomery, who became the first student to integrate the college, known today as the Florida Institute of Technology.

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • February 20, 1958 — Day The World Ended premiered in West Germany. It was produced and directed by Roger Corman. It starred Richard Denning, Lori Nelson, Adele Jergens, and Mike Connors. This was the first SF film by Corman. The film was shot over 10 days on a budget of $96,234.49. Critics at the time considered it silly and fun. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a 42% rating. You can watch it here.
  • February 20, 1968 The Power premiered.  It was produced by George Pal as directed by Byron Haskin in what would be in his final film. It stars George Hamilton and Suzanne Pleshette. (Look for Forrest J Ackerman as a Hotel clerk.)  It is based on Frank M. Robinson’s The Power. It had previously been a Studio One episode. The audience score at Rotten Tomatoes is 35%. You can watch it here.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 21, 1912 P. Schuyler Miller. He wrote pulp stories in he Thirties and Forties in a wide range of zines including Amazing StoriesMagazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction and Weird Tales to name but a few. He wrote just a single novel, Genus Homo, (with L. Sprague de Camp) but wrote nearly fifty stories. He was also known as a reviewer winning a Special Hugo for that work. His reviews ran in Astounding Science Fiction and its successor, Analog. Most, though interestingly not all, of his stories are available for the usual digital sources. (Died 1974.)
  • Born February 21, 1913 Ross Rocklynne. The pen name used by Ross Louis Rocklin, an SF writer active in the Golden Age of the genre. He was a professional guest at the first WorldCon in 1939. Though he was a regular contributor to several SF magazines including Astounding Stories, Fantastic Adventures and Planet Stories, he never achieved the success of fellow writers Isaac Asimov, L. Sprague de Camp and Robert A. Heinlein. ISFDB lists two novels for him, The Day of the Cloud and Pirates of the Time Trail. (Died 1988.)
  • Born February 21, 1935 Richard A. Lupoff, 85. His career started off with Xero, a Hugo winning fanzine he edited with his wife Pat and Bhob Stewart.  A veritable who’s who of who writers were published there. He also was a reviewer for Algol. To say he’s prolific as a professional writer is an understatement as he’s known to have written at least fifty works of fiction, plus short fiction, and some non-fiction as well. I’m fond of Sacred Locomotive Flies and The Universal Holmes but your tolerance for his humor may vary. The digital publishers stock him deeply at reasonable prices.
  • Born February 21, 1937 Gary Lockwood, 83. Best remembered for his roles as astronaut Frank Poole in 2001: A Space Odyssey and as Lieutenant Commander Gary Mitchell in the Trek episode “Where No Man Has Gone Before”. He’s also in The Magic Sword as Sir George which Mystery Science Theatre admitted was pretty good, a rare admission for them. He’s got a number of genre of one-offs including the Earth II pilot ,Mission Impossible, Night Gallery, Six Million Dollar Man and MacGyver.
  • Born February 21, 1946 Alan Rickman. I’ll single him out for his role on the beloved Galaxy Quest as Dr. Lazarus but he’s got an extensive acting resume beyond that film in our community. Of course, he played Professor Severus Snape in the Potter franchise, and his first genre role was in the Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves as the Sheriff of Nottingham. (Bad film, worse acting by Costner.)  He voiced Marvin the Paranoid Android in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a role worthy of an Academy Award. Voicing Absolem in Alice Through the Looking Glass was his final role. (Died 2016.)
  • Born February 21, 1946 Anthony Daniels, 74. Obviously best known for playing C-3PO in the Star Wars film series. To my knowledge, he’s the only actor to have appeared in all of the films in the series. He has scant other genre creds but they are being in I Bought a Vampire Motorcycle as a Priest, voicing C-3PO in The Lego Movie and the same in Ralph Breaks the Internet. Both Disney films I’d guess. Did you know that Season 4, Episode 17 of The Muppet Show is listed as “The Stars of Star Wars” and C-3PO apparently appears on it? 
  • Born February 21, 1962 –  David Foster Wallace. I will openly confess that I was never even slightly inclined to read Infinite Jest. The sheer size was enough to put me off and reading the first chapter convinced me I was right in that belief. So who’s read it? ISFDB also lists The Pale King as genre as well. (Died 2008.)
  • Born February 21, 1977 Owen King, 43. There are not quite legions of Kings though sometimes it seems like it. Owen, a son of Stephen and Tabitha, is early in his writing career. His first novel, Double Feature, was not genre and got mixed reviews. His second, Sleeping Beauties, written with his father is genre and getting much better reviews. I’m rather fond of his short story collection, We’re All in This Together, but then I like his father’s short stories better than I like his novels, too. He also got a graphic novel, Intro to Alien Invasion, but I’ve not seen it anywhere yet. 

(8) THIEVES LIKE US. “Crimes, Capers, and Gentleman Thieves: 5 Must-Read SFF Heist Novels” — James Davis Nicoll’s recommendations at Tor.com.

Heist stories always seem so straightforward at the beginning. All that stands between our protagonists and possession of whatever it is they covet or require is a team with the right skills, a plan so cunning you could put a tail on it and call it a fox, and a bit of concerted effort. What could possibly go wrong? And yet, something always does.

It doesn’t matter if the heist takes place in a mundane world or a science fiction world or a fantasy world. There are always complications…because otherwise, where’s the fun?

(9) INSIDE THE LID. Alasdair Stuart is back with “The Full Lid for 21st February 2020”

This week in The Full Lid, we take a look at the changing faces of heroism as embodied by Lost in Space‘s John Robinson, Don West and Ben Adler. I also take a look at upcoming Marvel title The Union and talk about why I desperately want it to work. Then we round off with ‘Breadventures!’ in which Marguerite and I are tutored in the ways of pizza baking by a Siberian baking wizard. 

Women in Horror spotlight this week highlights writers Gemma Amor, Sandra Odell, Cassandra Khaw and C.A. Yates. Signal Boost this week includes The Palimpsest Podcast ,Flying in the Face of Fate and Humble Hauntings as well as writer Michael J. Hollows and editors Ryan Boyd and Jason Arnopp 

(10) FIRST TRACTION. “‘The Host’: Looking Back on ‘Parasite’ Director Bong Joon-ho’s Stinging Social Monster Thriller” at Bloody Disgusting.

But nowhere does Bong mix comedy and direness better than with his international breakout hit, The Host, back in 2006. No, I’m not referring to the Stephanie Meyer adaptation. Instead of futuristic love stories, Bong Joon-ho’s The Host is a wildly entertaining monster thriller about a mysterious monster infesting the waters of the Han River in South Korea and soon emerging from the river to attack people on the surface, doubling as a sharp critique of the American and South Korean governments.

Though Memories of Murder and Barking Dogs Never Bite led to a surge of popularity for Bong Joon-ho in his native country, The Host is what first garnered him international popularity, playing at several prominent film festivals across the world and earning famed auteur Quentin Tarantino’s seal of approval with a placement on his Top 20 favorite films since he became a director (which gives Bong’s shout-out to Quentin at the Oscars more context).

(11) WHERE THE 80S MET THE 90S. Paste’s Holly Green promises “World of Horror Combines H.P. Lovecraft and Junji Ito for a New Kind of Terror”.

World of Horror is one of those games that makes me wish I’d been there—“there” being the specific intersection of time and space that inspired World of Horror. Modeled after the ‘90s era of Japanese PC gaming, it’s a game that, like many of its peers in the genre, taps into our instinctive fear of the archaic and forbidden by evoking the fashions of a period long gone. The result is a blend of styles that melds the visual horror of ‘80s manga artist Junji Ito to the mythos of H.P. Lovecraft, with compelling results.

The game is set in 1980s Shiokawa, Japan, where the convergence of recent paranormal events and modern technology triggers the awakening of a dark pantheon of Eldritch gods. As a resident in the town, the player sets out to investigate a handful of local mysteries, looking into peculiar tales and disturbances that seem to be strangely interconnected. If they can survive the results of all five cases, they receive the keys to a nearby tower, where a final ritual awaits.

World of Horror is best described as a paranormal investigation game, with five available mysteries to be explored by the player during each individual playthrough.

(12) HITS AND MISSES. The BBC discusses and rates “The best James Bond themes that never made it to the screen”.

The James Bond movie theme tunes have become an indelible part of pop music culture.

Almost from the get-go, with Sean Connery’s industry-creating turn as the suave secret agent in Dr No, the Bond films’ producers hit upon a formula as long-lasting as the secret agent himself.

While each official Eon Productions Bond film has featured the characteristic theme tune by Monty Norman – you’re humming it now – they have also featured a secret weapon, one which makes each film as distinct as the villain the vodka-martini-sipping spy has to despatch: the theme song.

It’s impossible to think of Live And Let Die (1973) without Wings’ apocalyptic slice of rock opera, or A View To A Kill (1985) without Duran Duran’s grandiose theme song. And that’s before we even consider Shirley Bassey’s masterclasses of cinematic unsubtlety with Goldfinger.

So, spare a thought for those well-known artists who penned a Bond theme hoping for immortality, only for it to be rejected on the casting couch. As Billie Eilish prepares to unleash her Bond theme No Time To Die at the Brit Awards, BBC Music looks back at some of the Bond themes that might have been…

Johnny Cash, Thunderball

Film: Thunderball (1965)
Lost to: Tom Jones
Better than the chosen theme? Tied
Most Bond-like lyric: Somewhere, there is a man who could stop the thing in time/ He is known by very few but he’s feared by all in crime

“Thunderball, your fiery breath can burn the coldest man!” intones The Man in Black, in a manner both outrageously camp and as stony faced as an Easter Island statue. Lyrically, Cash’s failed Bond theme follows the film’s plot faithfully – coastal city menaced by a ship containing a giant bomb – in a cinematic country style full of whooping backing vocals and booming brass. Tom Jones, of course, may have recorded the actual theme, but Cash’s effort is a champion among failures.

(13) PAINTER OF OZ. BBC acquaints readers with “The artistic wizard who brought Oz to life”.

Scottish artist George Gibson created the movie scenery which helped define the look of legendary films including The Wizard of Oz during Hollywood’s golden age. Now his family hope he will finally get the wider recognition he did not receive at the time.

In the 1930s and 40s, movie backdrops had to be created on indoor sound stages by crews of scene painters who conjured up everything from cityscapes to rolling hills.

Film studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) was one of the leading exponents of the art, all produced under the watchful eye of George Gibson.

He was the head of MGM’s scenic design department for 30 years. The backdrops he created appeared in films such as the Wizard of Oz (1939), An American in Paris (1951) and Brigadoon (1954).

His backdrops were as large as 60ft x 150ft (18m by 45m) and so realistic that the audience often did not realise the setting was a soundstage.

…In an effort to find better weather and work in America, a friend convinced Gibson to move out west to California – where he picked up odd jobs such as illustrating storyboard art at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

By 1938 he became head of the scenic design department, where he helped construct the MGM scene painting workshop, which was arguably the finest in the country.

He convinced the studio heads to construct a pioneering new building where all the backdrops could be painted centrally on movable frames rather than the fixed scaffolding of the soundstages.

(14) MICROBERSERKER. AI powers medical breakthrough. “Scientists discover powerful antibiotic using AI”.

In a world first, scientists have discovered a new type of antibiotic using artificial intelligence (AI).

It has been heralded by experts as a major breakthrough in the fight against the growing problem of drug resistance.

A powerful algorithm was used to analyse more than one hundred million chemical compounds in a matter of days.

The newly discovered compound was able to kill 35 types of potentially deadly bacteria, said researchers.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Michael Toman, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day C.A. Collins.]

46 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 2/21/20 Pixels Strike Curious Poses, They Scroll The Heat, The Heat Between Me And You

  1. “Ching Witch!” was the name of the story.

    (I think the only Rocklynne story I ever read was his The Men and the Mirror from 1938).

  2. Andrew says “Ching Witch!” was the name of the story.

    (I think the only Rocklynne story I ever read was his The Men and the Mirror from 1938).

    Interesting. I forgot to check on the digital availability of his works. Turns out that “Ching Witch” is indeed available along with nine other works in a single ePub by him for just three dollars at the usual digital publishers. And there’s a fair amount of other works available as well, all authorised by his estate.

  3. @1: very cute. Maybe such practical work is despised at human schools, and taught only to gremlins and such? Somebody has to keep the Gringott’s books in order….

    @7 (Rocklynne): what’s the source for him being a professional guest at Nycon 1? He’s not on the longlist, although I suspect that list may have some holes for the early years; Fancyclopedia says he attended, but not that he was a guest.

  4. Chip asks (Rocklynne): what’s the source for him being a professional guest at Nycon 1? He’s not on the longlist, although I suspect that list may have some holes for the early years; Fancyclopedia says he attended, but not that he was a guest.

    Wiki listed him as such and its accuracy is as good as any other source I use. None of the early cons are documented as well as they could be, so he could have indeed been such.

  5. (8) THIEVES LIKE US.

    I’m happy to see him boost An Illusion of Thieves. Although that is far from my favorite Cate Glass/Carol Berg book, IMHO she deserves a lot more boosting. 🙂

  6. I can confirm that The Host (not the Meyer one) was very good. Didn’t realize it was by the same guy who did Parasite, though, but it makes a lot of sense. I will definitely recommend it to anyone who didn’t see it (and doesn’t mind a bit of entertaining horror).

    The only David Foster Wallace I’ve read was The Broom of the System, which had a surprisingly genre-ish feel, even if it wasn’t strictly genre. Entertainingly surreal. Didn’t make me rush out and get the rest of his books, but certainly didn’t make me regret the time I spent with it.

  7. Chip asks (Rocklynne): what’s the source for him being a professional guest at Nycon 1? He’s not on the longlist, although I suspect that list may have some holes for the early years; Fancyclopedia says he attended, but not that he was a guest.

    Wiki listed him as such and its accuracy is as good as any other source I use. None of the early cons are documented as well as they could be, so he could have indeed been such.

    The Long List is the result of many years research by numerous people.

    Wikipedia is the result of whomever updates it. (We’ve had someone adding himself multiple times to the list of guests for OryCon on Wikipedia as a “special guest” to the one-day symposium that we retroactively refer to as “OryCon 0”–because it led to the first OryCon the following year–despite the fact there NO special guests or GOHs at that event.)

  8. 7) Alan Rickman was also in Truly, Madly, Deeply, an excellent supernatural love story, although I’m not sure how I feel about his mustache.

  9. 3) The cover at the top of the article, The Stolen Sun, vaguely rings a bell. As a kid, I had quite a few East European’s children’s book which I got from a great-aunt in East Germany. I suspect this one may have been one of them.

    There was one children’s book I remember to this day and would love to find again. It was a Little Red riding Hood version, probably originally from Russia, where the Little Red Riding Hood character ventured through wintery woods. There was also a bearded wizard involved. The illustrations were beautiful and I loved that book as a kid. Alas, it’s packed away in my parents’ attic with my other children’s books.

  10. Meredith Moment for UK people: today’s Amazon daily deal includes Katherine Addison’s The Goblin Emperor for 99p. Which would be 99p well spent in my opinion.

    Anthony Daniels also appeared in one episode of the supernatural horror anthology series Urban Gothic, a show which was very variable in quality, but not without interest.

  11. For an exhaustive survey of the actual James Bond film music, there is The Music of James Bond by Jon Burlingame, published by Oxford in 2012. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  12. How can P. Schuyler Miller sold “pulp” to F&SF in the 1930s when the magazine didn’t exist until 1949?

    I would love to hear Johnny Cash’s THUNDERBALL theme. I’m sure he did a great job.

  13. Sounds to me like Rocklynne’s Wikipedia entry needs a “citation needed” tag — anyone know how to add it?

    The BBC reports another meteor on dashcam — this one is pretty spectacular, if you can sit through the commercial that precedes it.

  14. (6) I remember watching The Power on some late night movie during the summer when I was a kid and it really wowed me at the time. I suppose it doesn’t hold up. I was going to comment on the zither soundtrack, but IMDB tells me it was a cimbalom.

    Its cast includes Michael Rennie so its Rocky Horror score is at least 2 with George Pal.

    The one scene I remember is George Hamilton looking at one of those drinking bird toys that stops to spit its drink at him. There are some toy soldiers that fire upon him who look like some of the earlier George Pal animation.

    Fight the pixel! Fight the pixel that scroll!

  15. (12) It’s possible that that book lists it, but the Beeb’s article missed Dave Frishberg’s JAWS written for — but, per the intro toe the song Frishberg’s album not used in– Goldfinger.

    Frishberg did write one theme that did, IIRC, get used, for the 1989 Brenda Starr movie, starring Brooke Shields as our intrepid reporter and Timothy Dalton as Basil St John. I’m having trouble finding the song online, but it’s on his LET’S EAT HOME album (I could (hypotheticall) email individual Filers copies if you have no other resource or recourse.

    Note, Frishberg is probably best known for his song My Attorney Bernie. He also did some songs for Schoolhouse Rock.

  16. @Daniel Dern: “That’s ’cause Bernie is a purist, not some polyester tourist” (other lyrics to the song also run around my brain from time to time).

  17. Chip Hitchcock says
    Sounds to me like Rocklynne’s Wikipedia entry needs a “citation needed” tag — anyone know how to add it?

    I’m a registered editor so I’ll do it. It’ll be interesting to see if it gets edited back. If y’all know that he was not a pro guest then, I’ll just edit it out.

  18. Note, Frishberg is probably best known for his song My Attorney Bernie. He also did some songs for Schoolhouse Rock.

    I keep hoping that, every time they introduce a contestant on Jeopardy as being an attorney, that they have one named Bernie…

    “Van Lingo Mungo” was also a notable song for him. One of the songs he wrote for Schoolhouse Rock was “I’m Just A Bill”, which has been used and/or parodied numerous times.

    He’s been a Portland resident for about 35 years, and until fairly recently was still performing at a hotel nightclub downtown. (I don’t know if he still does that.)

  19. Meredith Moment:

    book 1 of the Sandman Slim series by Richard Kadrey — titled, oddly enough, Sandman Slim — is currently available at the usual US suspects for $1.99 .

    I love this series, in case you were wondering. 🙂 I highly recommend it in audio, with great narration by Macleod Andrews. Sadly, the audio version is not on the sale!

  20. 7) I read Infinite Jest and I’d rate it as easily in my top ten favourite novels. I agree, though that it’s a little challenging. For me chapters 1 and 2 were intriguing (and completely different from each other), but it wasn’t until chapter 3 or 4 that I found myself hooked. As I understand it, Wallace was trying to write a novel as an antidote to the kind of irony that was, at the time, considered the only meaningful mode of expression for ‘serious’ literature. As such, his novel has enormous heart and a terrific sense of humour.

  21. Mike say Before the convention, in Fantasy News #53 there was an announcement that artist Frank R. Paul would be guest of honor at the convention dinner. He’s the only person I saw labeled as a GoH.

    I’ve added text noting a citation is needed but it seems that I can just remove the note that he’s a pro guest there. Everyone comfortable with that being made so?

  22. 3) Kornei Chukovsky: This item reminds me of a bit in chess world champion Mikhail Tal’s book The Life and Games of Mikhail Tal where the title quotation occurred to him while he was on the move in a game. The book I read translated it as, “Oh what a difficult job it was / To drag from the marsh the hippopotamus”, and I remember thinking at the time, “I assume that rhymes in Russian.”

    I found a YouTube video in which Tal himself talks about the incident; the description includes a more extensive, verbatim excerpt from the book. Here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q2fYBcbRytc
    Unfortunately I can’t make out just what the words of the poem are, and googling is just turning up quotations of the story from the book in English; I’m having trouble finding the Russian text.

  23. 1) While I can accept the Hogwarts alumnus’s criticism of the school’s curriculum, his writing style is far too advanced for him not to be able to spell the word “school.” For heck’s sake, the full name of Hogwarts is “Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry”; he must have seen the school’s name printed on his acceptance letter even before he enrolled.

    For that matter, he probably would have attended a Muggle school for five years before enrolling at Hogwarts, which would have been plenty of time for him to learn how to spell the word “school.”

  24. @Joshua K. Sadly, the numerous injuries acquired by students during class (while being menaced by boggarts and mandrakes), between classes (on those moving staircases) and during after-school activities (Quidditch/punishment expeditions to the “Forbidden” forest) have rendered many students unable to read their graduation certificates, even if they had been able to read before admission.

  25. Seeking information. YouTube has a rough-and-ready closed captioning system for its videos.

    I have a DVD of an old sitcom which is uncaptioned, and my hearing is bad enough I can’t follow the dialog. I wondered if there is a program on the market that creates on the fly captions for DVD audio, comparable to what’s available on YouTube?

  26. Martin Wooster: I would love to hear Johnny Cash’s THUNDERBALL theme. I’m sure he did a great job.

    Ask, and ye shall receive:
     

  27. Did you know that Season 4, Episode 17 of The Muppet Show is listed as “The Stars of Star Wars” and C-3PO apparently appears on it?

    Darths and Droids, a webcomic that answers the question “what if all the Star Wars movies were actually a group of friends playing a tabletop RPG?”, has been filling the gap between movies with a side quest based on that Muppet Show episode.

  28. Contrarius: I’m happy to see him boost An Illusion of Thieves. Although that is far from my favorite Cate Glass/Carol Berg book, IMHO she deserves a lot more boosting.

    I got that book from my library after reading about it somewhere (probably Tor.com), because the synopsis sounded interesting. I didn’t have high expectations (I find that avoiding them helps to avoid deep disappointment), so I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was really good — enough so that I will definitely be reading the sequel, A Conjuring of Assassins.

  29. @Cat Eldridge: I’m fine if you take it out; if somebody puts it back, maybe put a citation-needed tag on it, or if you have the energy dispute it with links to the reports @OGH dug up. Maybe somebody is trying to boost a reputation, or maybe they just don’t know the difference between being a guest and simply being an attending pro — even a pro with a comp membership for being on program, if that was provided in those days.

    @JJ: AAUUGGHH! And I don’t even have any mental floss in the house!
    I suppose that may not have been bad by the standards of the time — but ISTM that those standards were not much.

  30. Chip Hitchcock says to me: I’m fine if you take it out; if somebody puts it back, maybe put a citation-needed tag on it, or if you have the energy dispute it with links to the reports @OGH dug up. Maybe somebody is trying to boost a reputation, or maybe they just don’t know the difference between being a guest and simply being an attending pro — even a pro with a comp membership for being on program, if that was provided in those days.

    I took it out and left an explaination in the editing notes that there was ample primary documentation that he was not what was claimed there. The same claim is to be found on his Amazon pages as well but not on the Apple Books or Kobo sites. His Kobo page instead touts that Bradbury liked him instead of using this WorldCon claim.

    He attended as a guest, nothing more or less. You’ve done so, I’ve done do so at cons down the decades. I’ve no idea who made the initial claim this was so and a Google search wasn’t a help there.

  31. (1) MAGICALLY UNEMPLOYABLE. Heh, that was very amusing; I sent it to my Mom (!!!) and my spouse.

    (Darmoni is the author, but it’s written from the POV of Seamus Finnegan, who IIRC was a character in the books; so I’m not sure “Darmoni claims . . .” really fits.)

    (8) THIEVES LIKE US. Huh, I found out a few books in Mount TBR are heist books (or partially heist books) that I didn’t realize were heist(ish) books when I bought them. That’s what I get for reading slowly and less often than I should.

    @Contrarius: Oh, Cate Glass is Carol Berg? I’m not sure I knew that (or maybe I forgot it). Thanks.

    (14) MICROBERSERKER. Fascinating (this and the one for OCD mentioned at the end)! Fingers crossed whatever parameters the AIs check really do lead to useful drugs.

    @C.A. Collins & @Mike Glyer: Great Pixel Scroll title!

  32. The Power influenced me in several ways. It creeped me the hell out. It gave me a thing for exotic names like Yvonne DeCarlo. And it caused me to spend hours driving my parents crazy playing on my acoustic guitar with the mallets from my bells, trying to get that zither sound, never knowing it was a cimbalom.

  33. @JJ —

    Ask, and ye shall receive:

    My first reaction was GAAAAAAAHHHHH, so now I’m really laughing to see that Chip’s first reaction was AAAAUUUUUUGHHH! ;-D

    James Bond does A Fistful of Dollars!

    I didn’t have high expectations (I find that avoiding them helps to avoid deep disappointment), so I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was really good — enough so that I will definitely be reading the sequel, A Conjuring of Assassins.

    It’s a good book. I think a large part of my problem with it is that it’s so different from Berg’s previous books, and I have a deep and abiding love for her earlier stuff. So I’m a bit miffed that this one isn’t in the same vein. (The change in style does go a long way to explain the new name, however.)

    @Kendall —

    Oh, Cate Glass is Carol Berg? I’m not sure I knew that (or maybe I forgot it). Thanks.

    Yupyupyup.

  34. 1) I don’t remember whether Rowling talks about what sort of elementary education wizards from wizarding families got before going to Hogwarts. But out here in the mundane world, it’s well known that reading to your children improves their eventual reading skills, and parents are often encouraged to help their children with things like math homework.

    How much help could parents who themselves had only a fifth-grade education be? How much help would they want to be, if they thought of those as boring muggle things? Plenty of ten-year-olds would happily accept “you don’t need to worry about your math homework, math is for mere ordinary people.”

    I’m reminded of an alternate-(fictional) universe Neville/Draco fic, in which one of the significant points is that Neville’s parents thought he would lack magical ability when he was a small child, so they sent him to the local muggle primary school. Thus acquiring both a basic grounding in things like math, and making friends who he continued to see during school vacations; he’s the one who understands how to make a phone call, and knows how to drive a car.

  35. 8) I was all set for up-dander, high dudgeon, and similar such things….and he covered my criticism in the footnotes. Nice list, JDN.

    Regards,
    Dann
    One cannot and must not try to erase the past merely because it does not fit the present. – Golda Meir

  36. @Vicki Rosenzweig:

    1) I don’t remember whether Rowling talks about what sort of elementary education wizards from wizarding families got before going to Hogwarts.

    Per Rowling’s (old) Official FAQ, “they are, as many of you have guessed, most often home educated.”

  37. 1) Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones has the students in its wizarding classes told that, yes, they will be doing all the regular subjects as well — something the villain of the book doesn’t take at all well. (Then there’s her novel Witch Week, which reads even more like a parody of Harry Potter if not for the written-fifteen-years-earlier thing.)

  38. Ah yes, the who-did-it-first syndrome, ranging from readers who think Shakespeare used too many cliches to the copyeditor TNH cited for asking whether democracy wasn’t an awfully modern concept for ancient Greece….

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