(1) UNDERESTIMATED CRISIS. Kristine Kathryn Rusch sounds overwhelmed in “Business Musings: A Crisis Like No Other (A Process Blog)” where she discusses her daily challenges and struggles as a writer.
Well, I was wrong. A month or so ago, I warned that what we’re going through is a black swan event, that it would have an economic impact, and we as business owners needed to be braced. Then, as things got even worse, I decided this was a double black swan—a crisis without good leadership to carry us through to the other side.
And it seems that, in both cases, I underestimated this thing. On April 3, Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, called this “a crisis like no other.”
In a speech before the World Health Organization, she added, “Never in the history of the IMF have we witnessed the world economy coming to a standstill. It is way worse than the global financial crisis.”
A crisis like no other. Yeah, that was my sense as well over these past two weeks as I tried over and over again to find some kind of historic precedent to guide us forward. I couldn’t find one—not an analogous one, on that hit the global economy all at once, and forced people around the world to behave in the same way.
It’s breathtaking and shocking and hard to fathom. As you can tell from my many blog posts, I’m wrestling with this change. I know we’ll come out the other side, but for the first time—maybe in my adult life—I have no idea what kind of world we will emerge into. Usually I can predict both worst case and best case scenarios….
(2) SETTING THE TONE. Connie Willis’ Doomsday Book is where I first read John Clyn’s famous quote, written in 1349 at the height of the Black Plague:
“So that notable deeds should not perish with time, and be lost from the memory of future generations, I, seeing these many ills, and that the whole world encompassed by evil, waiting among the dead for death to come, have committed to writing what I have truly heard and examined; and so that the writing does not perish with the writer, or the work fail with the workman, I leave parchment for continuing the work, in case anyone should still be alive in the future and any son of Adam can escape this pestilence and continue the work thus begun.”
(3) APOLLO 13. At least the astronauts came out the other side of this disaster all right — “‘Houston, we’ve had a problem’: Remembering Apollo 13 at 50”.
…A half-century later, Apollo 13 is still considered Mission Control’s finest hour.
Lovell calls it “a miraculous recovery.”
Haise, like so many others, regards it as NASA’s most successful failure.
“It was a great mission,” Haise, 86, said. It showed “what can be done if people use their minds and a little ingenuity.”
As the lunar module pilot, Haise would have become the sixth man to walk on the moon, following Lovell onto the dusty gray surface. The oxygen tank explosion robbed them of the moon landing, which would have been NASA’s third, nine months after Apollo 11’s Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin took humanity’s first footsteps on the moon.
Now the coronavirus pandemic has robbed them of their anniversary celebrations. Festivities are on hold, including at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where the mission began on April 11, 1970, a Saturday just like this year.
(4) WHO TWO. ScreenRant offers their opinion — “Doctor Who: Every Doctor’s TRUE Companion”. For example:
Fourth Doctor: Sarah Jane Smith
Often considered the best companion of Doctor Who‘s classic run, Elizabeth Sladen made a lasting impression as Sarah Jane Smith, evolving the template set by Jo Grant previously. More so than her predecessors, Sarah Jane naturally grew into a second main character and although she debuted alongside the Third Doctor, her wits were slightly better suited to the eccentric ramblings of Tom Baker’s Time Lord. The Fourth Doctor would struggle to find an equally fitting companion, treating Leela with occasional contempt and burning through several regenerations of Romana.
(5) IMPOSSIBLE TIME. The Arthur C. Clarke Center for the Human Imagination’s podcast Into the Impossible has posted Episode 38: “Giving the Devil His Due: a conversation with Michael Shermer & Brian Keating”.
Dr. Michael Shermer is the Founding Publisher of Skeptic magazine, the host of the Science Salon Podcast, and a Presidential Fellow at Chapman University where he teaches Skepticism 101. For 18 years he was a monthly columnist for Scientific American. He is the author of New York Times bestsellers Why People Believe Weird Things and The Believing Brain, Why Darwin Matters, The Science of Good and Evil, The Moral Arc, and Heavens on Earth. His new book is Giving the Devil His Due: Reflections of a Scientific Humanist.
(6) HOW’S YOUR EYESIGHT? “Smithsonian seeks public’s help with Sally Ride’s astronaut training notes”.
Before she became the first American woman to fly into space, Sally Ride needed to learn how to be an astronaut. Now, 30 years later, the public can help expand access to Ride’s training experience by volunteering to transcribe her extensive handwritten notes.
The National Air and Space Museum has begun the process of converting the 23 cubic feet of material it obtained from Ride’s estate in 2015 to be available for research and study. Archivists have scanned and indexed the entire collection, but more can be done to make the papers fully searchable.
(7) DRUCKER OBIT. MAD Magazine artist Mort Drucker died April 8 at the age of 91. Mark Evanier paid tribute at News From Me: “Mort Drucker, R.I.P.”
He found his way to MAD magazine in 1956 at a precarious moment in that publication’s history. Founding editor Harvey Kurtzman had departed and taken most of the art crew with him. Replacement editor Al Feldstein was assembling a new team and with no idea how valuable the new applicant would be to MAD, he took a shot with Drucker.
Mort had never thought of himself as a caricaturist but when called upon to draw the comedy team of Bob & Ray for some pieces, he displayed a flair that surprised even him. Before long, Mort was the illustrator of movie and TV parodies in every issue of MAD…an association that lasted some 55 years. Big stars would say that you didn’t feel you’d made it in Hollywood until Mort Drucker had drawn you in MAD.
The New York Times obituary is here.
…“No one saw Drucker’s talent,” Mr. Hendrix wrote, until he illustrated “The Night That Perry Masonmint Lost a Case,” a takeoff on the television courtroom drama “Perry Mason,” in 1959. It was then, Mr. Hendrix maintained, that “the basic movie parody format for the next 44 years was born.”
From the early 1960s on, nearly every issue of Mad included a movie parody, and before Mr. Ducker retired he had illustrated 238, more than half of them. The last one, “The Chronic-Ills of Yawnia: Prince Thespian,” appeared in 2008.
Mr. Drucker compared his method to creating a movie storyboard: “I become the ‘camera,’” he once said, “and look for angles, lighting, close-ups, wide angles, long shots — just as a director does to tell the story in the most visually interesting way he can.”
Mr. Hendrix called Mr. Drucker “the cartoonist’s equivalent of an actor’s director” and “a master of drawing hands, faces and body language.” Mr. Friedman praised Mr. Drucker’s restraint: “He wasn’t really hung up on exaggerating. He was far more subtle and nuanced — interested in how people stood and so on.”
(8) WILLNER OBIT. Most recently known as Saturday Night Live’s sketch music producer. Hal Willner died April 7. The LA Times tribute is here. He had a long career in film, and produced several record albums, including these genre-adjacent projects –
…Most striking was Willner’s ode to the music of Walt Disney’s animated films. Called “Stay Awake: Various Interpretations of Music from Vintage Disney Films,” he enlisted artists including cosmic jazz traveler Sun Ra, experimental vocalist Yma Sumac, Los Angeles group Los Lobos and rock band the Replacements to re-imagine such songs as “Cruella De Ville,” “Whistle While You Work” and “Someday My Prince Will Come.” Tom Waits turned “Heigh Ho (The Dwarves Marching Song)” into a forced-labor dirge.
As the compiler of “The Carl Stalling Project: Music From Warner Bros. Cartoons 1936-1958,” Willner resurrected the reputation of the frantic, inventive composer Stalling and his scores for “Bugs Bunny” and “Road Runner” cartoons….
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.
- April 9, 1953 — Invaders From Mars premiered. It was produced by Edward L. Alperson Jr. and directed by William Cameron Menzies. It starred a large cast of Jimmy Hunt, Helena Carter, Arthur Franz, Morris Ankrum, Leif Erickson, and Hillary Brooke. Made a shoestring budget of three hundred thousand, it got amazingly good reviews though a few critics thought it it was too frightening for younger children, did a great box office and currently has a rating of fifty six percent among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. You can see it here.
- April 9, 1955 — Science Fiction Theatre first aired in syndication. It was produced by Ivan Tors and Maurice Ziv. It ran for seventy-eight episodes over two years and was hosted by Truman Bradley who was the announcer for Red Skelton’s program. The first episode “Beyond” had the story of a test pilot travelling at much faster than the speed of sound who bails out and tells his superiors that another craft was about to collide with his. It starred William Lundigan, Ellen Drew and Bruce Bennett. You can watch it here.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born April 9, 1911 — George O. Smith. His early prolific writings on Astounding Science Fiction in the 1940s which ended when Campbell’s wife left him for Smith Whom she married. Later stories were on Thrilling Wonder Stories, Galaxy, Super Science Stories and Fantastic To name but four such outlets. He was given First Fandom Hall of Fame Award just before he passed on. Interestingly his novels are available from the usual digital sources but his short stories are not. (Died 1981.)
- Born April 9, 1913 — George F. Lowther. He was writer, producer, director in the earliest days of radio and television. He wrote scripts for both Captain Video and His Video Rangers and Tom Corbett, Space Cadet. You can see the first show “The Birth of The Galaxy” which he scripted here. (Died 1975.)
- Born April 9, 1921 — Frankie Thomas. He was best remembered for his starring role in Tom Corbett, Space Cadet which ran from 1950 to 1955. Though definitely not genre or genre adjacent, he was in the Nancy Drew film franchise that ran in the late Thirties. (Died 2006.)
- Born April 9, 1935 — Avery Schreiber. He’s had a long history with genre fiction starting with Get Smart! and going from there to include More Wild Wild West!, Fantasy Island, Faerie Tale Theatre: Pinocchio, Shadow Chasers, Caveman, Galaxina, Dracula: Dead and Loving It, Animainiacs in which he voiced Beanie the Brain-Dead Bisonand, of course, The Muppet Show. (Died 2002.)
- Born April 9, 1937 — Marty Krofft, 83. Along with with Sid, a Canadian sibling team of television creators and puppeteers. Through Sid & Marty Krofft Pictures, they have made numerous series including the superb H.R. Pufnstuf which I still remember fondly all these years later not to forget Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, Land of the Lost and Electra Woman and Dyna Girl.
- Born April 9,1949 — Stephen Hickman, 71. Illustrator who has done over three hundred and fifty genre covers such as Manly Wade Wellman’s John the Balladeer and Nancy Springer’s Rowan Hood, Outlaw Girl of Sherwood Forest. His most widely known effort is his space fantasy postage stamps done for the U.S. Postal Service which won a Hugo for Best Original Artwork at ConAndian in 1994.
- Born April 9, 1954 — Dennis Quaid, 66. I’m reasonably sure that he first genre role was in Dreamscape as Alex Gardner followed immediately by the superb role of Willis Davidge in Enemy Mine followed by completing a trifecta with Innerspace and the character of Lt. Tuck Pendleton. And then there’s the sweet film of Dragonheart and him as Bowen. Anyone hear of The Day After Tomorrow in which he was Jack Hall? I hadn’t a clue about it.
- Born April 9, 1955 — Earl Terry Kemp, 65. Author of The Anthem Series: A Guide to the Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror and Weird Specialty Publishers of the Golden Age and The Anthem Series Companion: A Companion to The Guide to the Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror and Weird Specialty Publishers of the Golden Age. He also maintains several databases devoted to the same including The Golden Age of Pulps: SF Magazine Database: Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror (1890-2009).
- Born April 9, 1972 — Neve McIntosh, 48. During time of the Eleventh Doctor, she played Alaya and Restac, two Silurian reptilian sisters who have been disturbed under the earth, one captured by humans and the other demanding vengeance. Her second appearance on Doctor Who is Madame Vastra, in “A Good Man Goes to War”. Also a Silurian, she’s a Victorian crime fighter. She’s back in the 2012 Christmas special, and in the episodes “The Crimson Horror” and “The Name of the Doctor”. She reprises her role as Madame Vastra, who along with her wife, Jenny Flint, and Strax, a former Sontaran warrior, form a private investigator team.
- Born April 9, 1998 — Elle Fanning, 22. Yes she’s from that acting family. And she’s certainly been busy with roles in over forty films! Her first genre film is The Curious Case of Benjamin Button followed by Astro Boy, Super 8, Maleficent, The Boxtrolls, The Neon Demon, the upcoming Maleficent: Mistress of Evil and a recurring role on The Lost Room, a Cursed Objects miniseries that aired on Syfy.
(11) COMICS SECTION.
- Candorville encounters a social media slipup.
- Free Range shows why even superheroes must keep in mind “the right tool for the right job.”
(12) TEMPORARILY FREE COMICS. Dark Horse Comics is releasing the first issue of more than 80 comics series for free, as well as a few volumes of graphics novels, available to read via DARK HORSE DIGITAL from now until April 30. The series include such titles as Umbrella Academy, American Gods, & Disney’s Frozen, as well as graphic novels such as Empowered Vol. 1, and Hellboy Vol. 1.
(13) CAN COMICS RESUSCITATE THE CASH REGISTER? CBR.com investigates “DC vs Marvel: Possible Storylines for a New Big Two Crossover”.
As the effects of the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continue to reverberate around the world, one of the many industries severely impacted by the global health crisis is the American comic book market. With major publishers refraining from distributing new comics either digitally or in print and comic retailers shuttering normal operations to prevent the virus’ spread, the future of the industry is currently in a state of limbo. Led by acclaimed writer Gail Simone, comic creators have since suggested the possibility of an intercompany crossover between DC and Marvel Comics’ respective superhero universes as a means to revitalize the industry.
(14) PICARD SPECIAL ISSUE. Titan Comics has Star Trek: Picard – The Official Collector’s Edition on sale now.
A behind-the-scenes guide to the smash hit new Star Trek TV Show, showcasing the further adventures of fan-favorite captain of the Enterprise-D, Jean Luc Picard!
A deluxe collector’s edition offering a behind-the-scenes guide to the brand new Star Trek: Picard TV show, featuring interviews with Star Trek legends Sir Patrick Stewart, Brent Spiner (Data), Jonathan Frakes (Riker), Martin Sirtis (Troi), plus the new cast members Isa Briones (Dahj/Soji), Michelle Herd (Raffi), Harry Treadaway (Narke) and many more. Plus, Showrunners Alex Kurtzman and Michael Chabon, and Director Hanelle Culpepper reveal behind-the-scenes secrets.
(15) OLAF SCENES. “Fun With Snow” | At Home With Olaf on YouTube is the first of 20 micro-sized Olaf stories coming from Disney. Find others as they post on the Walt Disney Animation Studios YouTube channel.
(16) MAD AS HELL. In “Suing Hollywood” at CrimeReads, Tess Gerritsen looks at her long series of lawsuits about whether Gravity was stolen from her 1999 space thriller Gravity.
…Most writers who work in the industry understand that suing a studio, no matter how justified their lawsuit, is a losing proposition—and it’s the writer who almost always loses. Knowing this, why would any writer risk everything to charge into battle as David against Goliath?
I’ll tell you why: because we’re angry and refuse to let them get away with it. I know, because I’ve been there and done that. I’ve seen the dark side of Hollywood.
(17) STATION BREAK. And making a smooth segue between topics, did you know NASA has available a virtual “International Space Station Tour”?
(18) NEXT SPACE STATION SHIFT ARRIVES. And for a news trifecta — “ISS crew blast off after long quarantine”.
Three new crew members have arrived at the International Space Station (ISS) after a launch carried out under tight restrictions due to the coronavirus.
The Russian Soyuz rocket carrying cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner and Nasa astronaut Chris Cassidy took off from Kazakhstan on Thursday.
Pre-launch protocols were changed to prevent the virus being taken to the ISS.
Only essential personnel were allowed at the launch site for the blast-off.
Support workers wore masks and kept their distance as the crew walked to the bus to take them to the spacecraft.
Earlier, Chris Cassidy said not having their families in Baikonur to cheer them on for the launch had affected the crew, but he added: “We understand that the whole world is also impacted by the same crisis.
(19) WAVE BYE-BYE. “BepiColombo: Mercury mission set to wave goodbye to Earth” – BBC supplies lots of details on the instruments being sent.
The joint European-Japanese mission to Mercury reaches a key milestone on Friday when it swings past the Earth.
The two-in-one BepiColombo space probe is using the gravity of its home world to bend a path towards the inner Solar System.
It will also bleed off some speed.
The mission needs to make sure it isn’t travelling too fast when it arrives at Mercury in 2025 or it won’t be able to go into orbit around the diminutive world.
(20) POTTERING ABOUT. “Harry Potter hospital rooms get JK Rowling approval”.
Doctors dealing with coronavirus said they were “uplifted” to have a message of support from JK Rowling when they named areas of their hospital after Harry Potter school houses.
Meeting rooms at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital were named Gryffindor, Slytherin, Hufflepuff and Ravensclaw.
The hospital said the idea was “a bit of fun amongst all the significant issues”.
The author tweeted to say she had “rarely felt prouder”.
The hospital’s medical team decided to name meeting rooms after the Hogwarts houses when redesigning systems to be better prepared for the coronavirus outbreak.
Senior house officer Alex Maslen said: “The house names are familiar to many junior doctors who grew up with the Harry Potter stories, and the awareness has provided some reassurance during these difficult times.”
(21) YOUNG MAN MULLIGAN ATE HERE. BBC tells us “Crops were cultivated in regions of the Amazon ‘10,000 years ago'”.
Far from being a pristine wilderness, some regions of the Amazon have been profoundly altered by humans dating back 10,000 years, say researchers.
An international team found that during this period, crops were being cultivated in a remote location in what is now northern Bolivia.
The scientists believe that the humans who lived here were planting squash, cassava and maize.
The inhabitants also created thousands of artificial islands in the forest.
FYI, “Young Man Mulligan” is the filk answer to ”The Great Historical Bum” song (“Bum” lyrics here). It opens “I was born about ten thousand years from now.”
(22) BEFORE FABERGÉ. “Mysteries of decorated ostrich eggs in British Museum revealed”.
If you wanted to give an extravagant gift 5,000 years ago, you might have chosen an ostrich egg.
Now some of these beautiful Easter egg-sized objects are in London’s British Museum.
The eggs were found in Italy but their origins have long been a mystery – ostriches are not indigenous to Europe.
Now, research into the museum’s collection by an international team of archaeologists reveals new insights into their history.
People across Europe, the Mediterranean and North Africa traded ostrich eggs up to 5,000 years ago, in the Bronze and Iron Ages.
Eggs were decorated in many ways – painted, adorned with ivory or precious metals, or covered in small glazed stones or other materials.
The five eggs in the British Museum’s collection are embellished with animals, flowers, geometric patterns, soldiers and chariots.
(23) DON’T STOP. Rebooted – on YouTube.
It’s not easy for a movie-star to age – especially when you’re a stop motion animated skeleton monster. Phil, once a terrifying villain of the silver-screen, struggles to find work in modern Hollywood due to being an out-of-date special effect.
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Michael Toman, Daniel Dern, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]