Pixel Scroll 5/11/19 Doc Pixel, Scroll Of Bronze

(1) I WAS A FAN FOR THE FBI. Rob Hansen’s THEN documents the FBI informant who joined the LASFS and enjoyed fandom so much he stuck around — Samuel D. Russell. I heard the story from Milt Stevens, who made sure the legend was handed down to future club members, but I never had the opportunity to read these articles before.

…The name of the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society was brought into the proceedings of the trial of eleven local communist leaders, currently taking place in this city. The eleven men and women being tried for the alleged act of advocating the use of violence for overthrowing the government of the United States.

The prosecution introduced various witnesses who had joined the communist party as informers for the FBI. One of these witness was the once well-known fan, Samuel D. Russell. Among many other activities, Russell was co-editor and publisher, with Francis T. Laney, of THE ACOLYTE, which was for many years one of the leading fan mags of the nation.

(2) MISSING IN ACTION. Joseph Loconte, author of A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War, says the new biopic fails to present a key moment of Tolkien’s life in “Tolkien Film Fails to Capture the Majesty of His Achievement” at National Review.

…Yet the film devotes more time to idle bantering and boozing than it does to the group’s literary and moral purposes. It also overlooks a crucial exchange: a meeting in December 1914, dubbed “the Council of London,” which was transformative for Tolkien. “In fact it was a council of life,” writes John Garth, author of the magisterial Tolkien and the Great War. The prospect of the trenches had a sobering effect. Late into the night they talked and debated — about love, literature, patriotism, and religion. It was at this moment, and among this fellowship, that Tolkien began to sense his literary calling. “For Tolkien, the weekend was a revelation,” Garth concludes, “and he came to regard it as a turning point in his creative life.”

If the film’s writers wanted to depict such a revelatory scene — which they don’t — it would have required familiarity with an ancient source of wisdom. We no longer appreciate how the educated classes of Tolkien’s generation were schooled in the classical and medieval literary traditions….

(3) DET. PIKACHU. The BBC’s Ali Plumb also likes Detective Pikachu — even if it doesn’t make sense: “Ali Plumb reviews Detective Pikachu”.

21-year-old insurance salesman Tim hasn’t seen his police detective dad for years, but when news arrives that his old man has mysteriously disappeared, he heads to the Pokemon paradise of Ryme City – where humans and Pokemon live side by side – to look into what’s happened.

Poking around his father’s flat, he discovers his dad’s Pokemon partner, “Detective Pikachu”, wandering around with no memory of what has occurred.

Together, Tim and Pikachu must solve the case and save the world, meeting a whole host of different Pokemon along the way, battling the occasional Charizard and negotiating with Mr. Mimes. As you do.

(4) ROAD TRIP. The BBC asks, “How do you learn to drive on Mars?” I don’t know, but Ray Bradbury had a license!

Ray Bradbury’s Martian driver license

Time is of the essence. It’s now little more than a year until the Rosalind Franklin rover is sent to Mars.

Engineers across Europe and Russia are busy assembling this scientific vehicle. and the hardware that will both carry it to the Red Planet and put it down safely on the surface.

In parallel to all this are the ongoing rehearsals.

These needed to ensure controllers can easily and efficiently operate the robot from back here on Earth.

The videos on this page show the latest locomotion verification tests that have been conducted at the RUAG company in Switzerland.

Not at the above link: debarkation, on video.

(5) BOLGEO MEDICAL UPDATE. Marcia Kelly Illingworth alerts friends of Tim Bolgeo that he has entered hospice care:

I am getting damned sick and tired of having to write to you about things like this. My dear, old friend, Tim “Uncle Timmy” Bolgeo, a well-known, Southern fan, founder of LibertyCon, in Chattanooga, TN, is in the hospital in Chattanooga TN, and has been placed in Hospice care.

I know that a lot of old school fans have problems with Timmy, due to his Conservative political views, and his old school, unconscious, presumed racist jokes. Be that as it may, I am here to say that he is a good man, a caring man, and a better friend anyone would be hard pressed to find. He’s been active in Southern fandom for more years than I can say. His electronic fanzine, The Revenge of Humpday, was nominated for a Hugo.

Timmy has been fighting health issues for years. He started having heart trouble back in the nineties. I remember when his first heart surgery had to be postponed, because his cardiologist had a heart attack that morning and had to have heart surgery himself that day. Some guys just can’t get a break! He has been battling congestive heart failure for some time now, with ever increasing medication. He was hospitalized last Friday, and today the family has advised us that he has been placed in Hospice care. They are asking prayers for a peaceful passing. We were so hoping that he would make it to one last LibertyCon.

(For anyone who needs more background, File 770 reported when Bolgeo’s fanzine made news in 2014.)

(6) LEWIS OBIT. The Reverend Allen L. Lewis, 77, of Sioux Falls, SD passed away on Monday, April 29 at the age of 77. The family obituary is here.

…Over the course of several decades Father Al amassed one of the largest private collections of Science Fiction and Fantasy hard bound first edition books in the world. The bulk of his collection was donated to the University of Iowa in 2015.

The donation was noted in Pixel Scroll (item 4) on July 28, 2015:

After 20 years of collecting, he is donating his one-of-a-kind collection of 17,500 books worth an estimated three quarters of a million dollars.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 11, 1899 E.  B. White. He’s a co-author with William Strunk Jr.of The Elements of Style. In addition, he wrote Stuart Little and Charlotte’s Web. (Died 1985.)
  • Born May 11, 1916 Maurice Nahum. ISFDB credits him with being Editior in the Fifties of the Futuristic Science StoriesOut of This World MagazineSupernatural Stories and several other publications. Langford at the usual source says of them that ‘All were juvenile, undated and of poor quality.’ (Died 1994.)
  • Born May 11, 1920 Denver Pyle. His first genre performance is in The Flying Saucer way back in 1950 where he was a character named Turner. Escape to Witch Mountain as Uncle Bené is his best known genre role. He’s also showed up on the Fifties Adventures of SupermanCommando Cody: Sky Marshal of the UniverseMen Into Space, Twilight Zone and his final role was apparently in How Bugs Bunny Won the West as the Narrator. (Died 1997.)
  • Born May 11, 1918 Richard Feynman. Ok, not genre as such but certainly genre adjacent. I wholeheartedly recommend Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman by James Gleick for an entertaining look at his life. (Died 1988.)
  • Born May 11, 1936 Gordon  Benson Jr. Publisher and bibliographer who released the first of his many SF bibliographies around the early Eighties. Writers such as Anderson, Lieber and Wellman were covered. Early bibliographies written solo were revised for the Galactic Central Bibliographies for the Avid Reader series, are listed jointly with Phil Stephensen-Payne as later ones. (Died 1996.)
  • Born May 11, 1952 Frances Fisher, 67. Angie on Strange Luck and a recurring role as Eva Thorne on Eureka. Have I mentioned how I love the latter series? Well I do! She’s also shown up on Medium, X-Files, Outer Limits, Resurrection, The Expanse and has some role in the forthcoming Watchmen series. 
  • Born May 11, 1976 Alter S. Reiss, 43. He’s a scientific editor and field archaeologist. He lives in Jerusalem, he’s written two novels, Sunset Mantel and Recalled to Service. He’s also written an impressive amount of short fiction in the past ten years, most published in places that I’ve never heard of. 
  • Born May 11, 1997 Lana Connor, 22. Jubilation “Jubilee” Lee in X-Men: Apocalypse, Koyomi in Alita: Battle Angel which is based on the manga series Gunnm, and she voices Kaoru in the Netfix series Rilakkuma and Kaoru.

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro depicts state-of-the-art medicine for robots.

(9) YEAR’S BEST. Congratulations to Jim C. Hines for scoring a first –

(10) FANAC.ORG UPDATE. The award-winning resource site, Fanac.org, is continuing to put up classic old fanzines. All the zines listed, except Innuendo, were provided by Rob Jackson from Paul Skelton’s collection and scanned at Corflu 2019. Innuendo was provided by Joe Siclari and scanned at Corflu 2019.

  • Innuendo, 1956-1958. Edited by Terry Carr and Dave Rike (later by Terry Carr alone). 5 issues with contributors like Terry Carr, Robert Bloch, Carl Brandon, Harry Warner Jr., Bjo Wells (Trimble?), Bill Rotsler, Ray Nelson, Jack Speer, and Marion Zimmer Bradley. Outstanding stuff.
  • Tomorrow, issue 4, Winter 1938. Edited by Douglas Mayer. Published by the Science Fiction Association.
  • Umbra, 1955-1956, edited by John Hitchcock. 3 issues with contributors like Larry Stark, Ron Bennett, and Greg Benford.
  • Voice of the Imagi-Nation, edited by Forry Ackerman and Morojo. Issues 24, 27 and 33 from 1942-1944.  Letters from fandom, with correspondence from folks like Bob Tucker, Tigrina, Walt Leibscher, Harry Warner, C.S. Youd, Francis Towner Laney, Jimmy Kepner, Vol Molesworth, Robert Bloch, Milt Rothman and more.
  • Vulcan, edited by Pete Graham and Terry Carr. Issue (August 1952). Features, Fan humor, serious constructive stories, and serious constructive poems. Lots of Terry Carr content.

Also from Corflu, a recording of the Saturday panel, “The Void Boys Speak!” Thanks Rob Jackson, and thanks Bill!

VOID was a focal point fanzine of the 1950s, and launched the science fiction careers of Jim and Greg Benford. This panel, held at the 2019 Corflu, covers the history of VOID. With original editors Jim and Greg Benford, co-editor Ted White, and with Luis Ortiz (who is publishing a book on the topic) , the panel covers all aspects of VOID. If you are familiar only with the professional careers of Jim and Greg Benford, and Ted White, this video will give you perspective on their fannish careers. The video ends with a rousing rendition of the Void Boys song! Note that the video was streamed live, and there are slides in use showing the VOID covers that are not visible in the video. If you are interested in seeing the covers, or reading Void, check out http://fanac.org/fanzines/VOID.

(11) HELPING AN SJWCC. Florida Man does something nice for a change — “Bobcat coaxed down from Florida power pole”.

A wild bobcat perched high on a post by a busy road in the US state of Florida was encouraged down by workers in a cherry picker truck who used an extendable tool to tap it continuously on the head.

The cat, which was sat atop the pole used to support power cables in Collier County, eventually climbed down before leaving the scene in a hurry.

The power had been switched off to prevent electrocution, local media reported.

(12) ADVANCED CREDENTIAL. Science challenges academics — “Cats rival dogs on many tests of social smarts. But is anyone brave enough to study them?”

Toddlers pass this test easily. They know that when we point at something, we’re telling them to look at it—an insight into the intentions of others that will become essential as children learn to interact with people around them. Most other animals, including our closest living relative, chimpanzees, fail the experiment. But about 20 years ago, researchers discovered something surprising: Dogs pass the test with flying colors. The finding shook the scientific community and led to an explosion of studies into the canine mind.

Cats like Carl were supposed to be a contrast. Like dogs, cats have lived with us in close quarters for thousands of years. But unlike our canine pals, cats descend from antisocial ancestors, and humans have spent far less time aggressively molding them into companions. So researchers thought cats couldn’t possibly share our brain waves the way dogs do.

Yet, as cats are apt to do, Carl defies the best-laid plans of Homo sapiens. He trots right over to the bowl Vitale is pointing at, passing the test as easily as his canine rivals. “Good boy!” Vitale coos.

(13) DOG AND PONY TIME. BBC is there when “Jeff Bezos unveils Moon lander concept”.

Amazon entrepreneur Jeff Bezos has unveiled a mock-up of a new lunar lander spacecraft that aims to take equipment and humans to the Moon by 2024.

The reusable Blue Moon vehicle will carry scientific instruments, satellites and rovers.

It will feature a new rocket engine called BE-7 that can blast 10,000lb (4,535kg) of thrust.

“It’s time to go back to the Moon, this time to stay,” said Mr Bezos.

Mr Bezos presented the Moon goals of his space exploration company Blue Origin at the Washington Convention Center in Washington DC, to an audience consisting of potential customers and officials from Nasa.

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. After School on Vimeo is a cartoon by Hanna Kim about the adventures of a girl coming home from school.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Microtherion, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

42 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 5/11/19 Doc Pixel, Scroll Of Bronze

  1. First!

    9) Very cool for Jim.

    OT: I just watched WANDERING EARTH on Netflix…a China import SF film. The dub isn’t great, the subtitles do not exist, but it was pretty darned entertaining.

  2. Paul: If you write it up or cover it in your podcast, let us know. I want to find out more about it.

  3. (7) Wrong birth year for Richard Feynman, unless he was a teenager while working at Los Alamos.

  4. Speaking of movies (and drifting off from any topic mentioned in the scroll–sorry Mike), I just saw How to Talk to Girls at Parties, which was based (very loosely) on a Hugo-nominated short story by Neil Gaiman.

    My review? Well…I wouldn’t say it was good, but I still rather enjoyed it. It seemed to have been made on a minimal budget and the script made absolutely no sense. Which was both a good thing and a bad thing. Good when it deliberately didn’t make sense–the original story was pretty surreal–bad when they just let the plot flop around.

    Still, despite some very dumb bits, it was definitely Gaiman-esque. Overall, I’m not sure I’d recommend it, but I wouldn’t say stay away either. As long as you have some tolerance for cheese–and aren’t hoping for the original story–it’s not bad.

  5. Arwel Parry on May 12, 2019 at 12:39 am said:

    @Camestros It’s on Netflix UK. Wonder why Australia’s different.

    It’s wandered off maybe?

    [After a little digging, it maybe be because the film had a limited theatrical release in Australia]

  6. Have we done:

    [With apologies to the Ramones]
    Seven-seven-seventy files ago,
    I wanna be pixelated
    Nothing to read and nowhere to go
    I wanna be pixelated
    Just get me to airport
    Put me in a con
    Hurry, hurry, hurry before the scroll is gone
    I can’t control my reading
    I can’t control my blog
    Oh no no no no no

  7. 11) Florida Man will always have a special and very weird place in my heart.

  8. (7) I’ve been watching “Men into Space” lately, and spotted Denver Pyle – I also noted that an episode credits James Clavell as the writer (I also spotted a “Johnny Williams” (yes, that John Williams) as the composer of the score for most of the episodes of “Time Tunnel”).

    (1) Reminds me of Eric Frank Russell’s “And Then There Were None”

  9. I watched The Wandering Earth last night. Striking visuals, epic scale, 2-dimensional characters, and ludicrous science. I enjoyed it! It reminded me of Armageddon. Can our band of stereotypes travel to the place/combine their skills/fix the thing in time to save the planet? The fun was seeing the Chinese take on the astronaut dad, gum-chewing schoolgirl, angry young man, and grandpa who shows those young whippersnappers how to seriously drive stick.

    I got a chuckle out of Purxubi’f ibqxn.

  10. (3) WHO FRAMED PABLO PIKACHU?

    (7) Also co-wrote IS SEX NECESSARY? with Thurber. Don’t tell me Thurber isn’t automatic honorary genre. (Follow-up: I asked you not to tell me that!)

    Doing this on my phone is hard work, and I look forward to getting a working computer back soonish.
    WHO SCROLLED PETER PIXEL?

  11. Further to The Wandering Earth, all I knew going in was “Chinese blockbuster space thriller”, and avoided reviews until afterwards. I concur with this one.

  12. Kip:

    Not just honorary genre: Thurber’s The Thirteen Clocks is a fantasy (in the fairy tale line of descent), and the climax of The Wonderful O makes that fantasy too, I think (a case might be made for magical realism, which is also genre-adjacent.

    Also “The Unicorn in the Garden,” in Further Fables for Our Time (and probably others, but I’m doing this from memory).

    The sexism fairy has definitely gotten to some of Thurber’s work, but that doesn’t make it less genre.

  13. My personal favorite has always been THE WHITE DEER. The chapter about the prince versus the dragon is a standout. And who can forget the musical mud?

  14. I used to be a voracious reader but the intertubes have slowed me to a pace that would be a profound disappointment to my high school self. I have undertaken a corrective course to be worthy of the adjective again.

    I just read Elizabeth Bear’s 2006 novel Blood and Iron and was pleased to finish the 448-page novel in 10 days. My youngest son received the 400-page Christie Golden novel World of Warcraft: War Crimes from Amazon at 2 p.m. yesterday and finished it nine hours later!

    Here’s my low-to-no-spoiler, 1,000-character GoodReads review of Blood and Iron:

    In a modern world with no idea it is happening, the faerie realm and human magi prepare for a savage war that will break a stalemate going back to the time of King Arthur. Elizabeth Bear mostly takes the side of the fae through Seeker, a once-human bound to the Elf Queen who must steal humans at her command. Bear uses so many lush metaphors to describe the physical world experienced by magical beings that it was tough to consciously take them all in, but the cumulative effect was mesmerizing. Most of the novel consists of powerful otherworldly creatures readying for war and engaging in diplomacy with allies, enemies and undecideds, which reminded me favorably of Roger Zelazny’s Chronicles of Amber. This builds to a harrowing and dramatic conclusion. The star of the book is a kelpie (water horse) nicknamed Whiskey. Seeker controls him by knowledge of his true name and they develop a deep relationship despite the fact he’s allowed three chances to kill her, which he reminds her of often.

  15. Did Pablo Pikachu ever get called an asshole?

    Not in New New York.

    We all gotta duck when the Pix hits the fans

  16. Surely your scrolling, Mr pixelman!

    (11) I wonder why I thought it was about Bobcat Goldthwaith, before realizing its about an actual bobcat?

  17. As often happens, someone too familiar with a person or historic incident gets obsessed with single elements and can’t judge a film on other than that. No, the incident that Joseph Loconte is fixated on isn’t in “Tolkien” so he thinks the movie fails. There’s a Catholic critic complaining the film doesn’t include enough time in church or Tolkien learning about the bible. But they’re judging the entire film on a single point that’s important to them.

    I saw the movie back in December at a special screening. I enjoyed it quite a bit. It’s well made and entertaining. I’ve no idea how close it is to the truth but it seems to fit. And it’s a good movie. Despite its lack of Catholic inculcation or the one night of drinking and conversation that Loconte feels is the only important experience in Tolkien’s life.

  18. C.S. Lewis wrote someplace that dogs didn’t understand pointing, which I think was also true of our dog at the time I read that. Yet pointer dogs, well, point, themselves, so that doesn’t entirely make sense. I am gratified, and not very surprised, to learn that dogs can in fact sometimes decipher human pointing.

  19. @7: I’ve often regretted that all of Feynman’s personal writings came out after the death of my father, who was headmaster of Los Alamos Ranch School for the latter half-plus of its existence; I found the stories fascinating, but I don’t know whether he would have been amused or annoyed by Feynman’s frank discussions of the limitations of the school (which was not designed to be comfortable) when taken over to ~build the bomb at, or the hijinks Feynman got up to there.

    @Xtifr: there was some coverage of the film-of-Gaiman (linked in a Scroll) when it showed up at Cannes; IIRC, the response was worse than Rite of Spring got, reportedly with more justification. I’ll probably give it a pass — I didn’t think much of the original story or its setting — but it sounds the sort of thing some people will like.

    @Kip Williams: IIRC, I found out about Thurber’s The White Deer through a Scroll. I found it read like an early, fairly rough draft for the sort of story told in The Thirteen Clocks (still a favorite), but also was not as talking-down as the later work (which was specifically written for and in consultation with a young girl).

    @HelenS: I would not consider CSLewis a qualified observer of scientific facts; given his scientist characters, I’d wonder about calling him actively unqualified.

    So The Wandering Earth involves getting dangerously close to Jupiter; I suppose that’s of a piece with the rest of the science, because Alpha Centauri is nowhere near the ecliptic, meaning there’s no reason to be anywhere near Jupiter if Alpha Centauri is your destination.

  20. Apropos of nearly nothing, I just got through watching the non-genre-but-adjacent-if-you-squint-a-lot (the star, Richard Madden, played Rob Stark in GOT) BBC miniseries The Bodyguard.

    I found it gripping and addictive, if anyone happens to get into the mood to watch a 6-episode thriller. It wasn’t at all what I expected it to be!

    Available on Netflix.

  21. The 13 Clocks was an important part of my formative years. If anyone tries to diss Thurber’s genre credentials, I’ll slit them from their guggle to their zatch! 😀

    I just discovered this morning that Talking to Girls at Parties was directed by the guy who did Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Which, in retrospect, makes a whole lot of sense, and actually makes me like the former a little more. (Though it still remains flawed–IMDb gives it a firmly-middling 5.8, which seems quite fair to me.) In particular, the whole “power of punk” theme makes more sense to me now.

    In any case, now I can say that I’ve seen all of the live-action Gaiman films except Beowulf. Which was my main goal in watching it. Achievement almost unlocked, I guess. 🙂

  22. @Xtifr

    Wait, what? Beowulf is a Neil Gaiman film? But it was terrible. There’s precisely one scene worth watching, and only because the number of increasingly ridiculous ways they come up with to hide Beowulf’s junk is unintentionally hilarious. I was rolling my eyes at it roughly every thirty seconds and considered it a waste of a cinema visit. I don’t always enjoy Gaiman’s work (love the comics and YA/children’s lit, often find the adult novels a bit cold) but I’m surprised that he was involved in anything quite that bad.

  23. @Camestros, re Ramones:

    Bravo! My favorite Ramones song.

    (2) I saw the film earlier this week and it’s a very good film. You don’t need to be a fan of Tolkien to enjoy it either. It’s a nice treatment of boyhood friendship facing the tests that come with adulthood, including the effects of war. I liked that the film didn’t try to do a biopic of his whole life and just narrowly focused on that angle.

  24. @Meredith: is it possible you’re thinking of another Beowulf? Gaiman scripted the 2007 motion-capture version. (I remember him blogging that Zemeckis told him there was nothing Gaiman could come up with that would be too expensive to film, given mo-cap.) IMDB tells me Beowulf and Grendel,, a much smaller live-action production, came out in 2005. The Gaiman version was not as complete an inversion as his novella “The Monarch of the Glen”, or a recent contemporary novel that I’m blanking on just now, but it did bend the story in an unusual direction once Beowulf went into the den; I thought it was neither great nor dreadful, which fits IMDB’s summary (6.2/10, vs 5.9 for the 2005 version). Or you may have seen the Gaiman; considering the wide range of opinion we got here over the film of Stardust, I’d be surprised if somebody didn’t hate his Beowulf (and why do I keep typing “Beofulw”?).

  25. @Chip Hitchcock

    Yup, I checked, it’s the one I’ve seen. I think the motion-capture was most of the problem, actually, it didn’t really do anything except make it look like a mediocre video game cut scene: Wooden and stilted. But I wasn’t keen on the twist you mentioned, nudity in an action scene was a bad mix with needing to keep the rating down (even if I found it very funny, I don’t think funny was what they were aiming for), and I didn’t think the script did a particularly good job of adapting the original story to a film-suitable structure. It just… wasn’t good. But I probably could have forgiven a fair bit more without the motion-capture cludging up all the acting.

  26. Yes, there is more than one Beowulf movie. Possibly three or more. At least one of which did not involve Gaiman and was truly straight-to-SyFy terrible. Because I think it WAS straight to SyFy.

  27. Yeah, a significant part of the problem with Beowulf (although not the entire problem) was the Zemeckis Polar Express-style animation with all of the characters staring at you with their soulless CGI eyes.

    (Happily, I’ve never actually seen the Zemeckis Polar Express, nor do I intend to.)

  28. I went to have a look at clips of the Beowulf film on YouTube (I haven’t watched it since its cinema release) to see whether I was being unfair and if it was better than I remembered, but if anything it was worse. Never mind the eyes, the faces barely move! The character movement is awkward and weirdly disjointed from the scenery and props, and despite the quote Chip shared from Gaiman, the visuals aren’t particularly spectacular so it all feels a bit of a waste.

    Then I went and watched the first two World of Warcraft cinematics, both of which were released earlier than the film (one ten months earlier, one several years before), to see whether I was being unduly hard on a 2007 film. They’re so much better on every level despite being essentially clip-based trailers: More expression, more spectacle, more settled in the world, more life. I think I might have been unfairly maligning mediocre video game cut scenes with my earlier comparison. 🙂

  29. I saw a very little bit of the Polar Express. I strongly advise not to. This discussion is also convincing me never to check on Beowulf, because that sounds like it is exactly the sort of effect, and lack of affect, that puts me off too.

  30. My kids and I loved Polar Express enough to see it at a theater for three straight Christmases when they were pre-teens. I’m not religious so that wasn’t the selling point. I loved the story, setting and overall look of the film — though I do concede that the humans had some Uncanny Valley problems. I’m a sucker for a good sentimental Christmas movie.

  31. I liked the very end of the Polar Express which is straight from the book. Everything else is just not for me. Do children really want an animated Steven Tyler as an elf?

    I think the list of similar ImageMovers motion capture animation is: Polar Express, Beowulf, A Christmas Carol and Mars Needs Moms. (Maybe parts of Monster House? It seemed different.) None of them were a huge box office success and the failure of Mars Needs Mom killed off ImageMovers Digital. That was the last of the motion capture movies, but Zemekis had some sort of mixed live action/animation movie with Welcome to Marwen last year. It didn’t do very well.

    All I wanted was a pixel and she wouldn’t scroll it for me!

  32. @Chip Hitchcock: Did your father have anything to say about William S. Burroughs (who was an alumnus of the Ranch School)?

  33. I didn’t ask him about personalities; he talked a little faculty and activity, and much less than that about students. There was a comment in the notes he left about occasional “bolshie” students not going along with the program, but IIRC there were no names. (I remember Burroughs coming up sometime, but not the context — possibly just the mentions in Wirth & Aldrich’s book.)

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