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 Brain, The 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 Atlantis, The 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 Live, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Side 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.]