Pixel Scroll 5/6/20 Look Dave, I Can See You’re Really Upset About This. Take A Pixel Scroll, And Think Things Over

(1) CAREER PATH. At Lit Reactor, Nick Mamatas hits close to home — “Ask Nick: Publishing 201 — Do I Need to Attend Conventions or Conferences?”

…A relative handful of science fiction/fantasy/horror conventions are considered “professional” and it is expected that people who work in publishing will travel cross-country or even internationally to make an appearance. In the mystery and romance genres, a greater percentage of conventions are “professional” and relatively fewer are run by and for fans. Regardless of whether the convention is fannish or professional, published writers are essentially zoo animals to be gawked at for the weekend. You can tell the writers from the other attendees because they are always clutching a drink in their hands like it was only accidentally given to them for free.

The conference, by way of contrast, has different roots. Literary conferences are often organized like other academic conferences—the focus is on writers who work in academe and the concerns of pedagogy and craft, though the keynote speakers are almost inevitably prominent writers who don’t need to grade term papers for a living. Panels at conferences are only occasionally roundtable discussions; more often the panelists read from essays, bits of memoir about the struggles of trying to either publish or teach their dumb-ass students, or their critical work. There are also lots of poets who constantly declare their identity as poets: “Oh, I don’t know how to organize my receipts to get reimbursed by my department! I’m a poet.” “I can’t be expected to know which button to press in this hotel elevator, I’m a poet!” In the sales room, university presses and university-backed literary journals that demand writers pay to submit and that have an organic audience somewhere in the low teens predominate, while at conventions you can buy ratty old magazines, leather corsets, and insipid badges with phrases such as “Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup” on them. So clearly, attending either kind of gathering is a fate worse than death.

(2) SUPER STRINGS ATTACHED. Alastair Reynolds and Stephen Baxter ae having “A Super Lockdown Supermarionation Superconversation in 5…4…3” – read the transcript at Approaching Pavonis Mons by Balloon.

AR: It was Gerry Anderson’s birthday a couple of days ago (he’d have been 91) so given that we’ve both watched Thunderbird Six recently -and have a shared enthusiasm for his shows – I thought it would be fun to talk about the film, as well as the puppet series more generally. Perhaps we could start by covering our introductions to the worlds of GA? I know you go back at least as far as Stingray, the series which preceded Thunderbirds – was that the first exposure to Supermarionation for you, or are we looking at the even earlier shows like Fireball XL-5, Supercar and so on? Any really early memories of the shows or even the merchandise surrounding them?

SB: As it happens I was born on the day Anderson’s first show was first broadcast,  The Adventures of Twizzle. An omen! But the first show I remember properly was Fireball, which was launched when I was nearly 5. Supercar was around but as repeats, I  guess.  Fireball was the one. It wasn’t the stories that struck me I think as much as the background world. The fantastic huge ship, and it looked huge thanks to good effects work, luxurious inside – Professor Matic  lived on it,  and how I envied him! And this was no fantasy, we were given one-century-ahead dates, 2062 and so on. Authentic SF, and I was lost forever.

(3) HYBRID PRODUCTION. The Hollywood Reporter reveals “‘The Blacklist’ Turns to Animation to Complete Season Finale”.

…NBC’s The Blacklist will close out its seventh season with a twist: After production on the drama was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic, the show turned to animation to help complete the season finale.

The hybrid episode is set to air May 15 and will serve as the season finale for The Blacklist (it has already been renewed for 2020-21). 

The episode, titled “The Kazanjian Brothers,” was midway through filming in New York when production stopped in mid-March due to the pandemic. The show’s producers looked for outside-the-box ways to complete the installment and settled on graphic novel-style animation (as shown above) to be incorporated with scenes that had already been filmed. 

Actors recorded dialogue from their homes for the animated scenes, and all animation and editing was done remotely. As The Hollywood Reporter has reported, production on a number of animated series has continued largely uninterrupted during the pandemic as studios and producers have adapted to working remotely.

(4) REFERENCE DIRECTOR! Lorie Shaull explains — “I assure you we’re not open,” a reference to the movie Clerks, and “You’re Still here? It’s over. Go home. Go,” from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, seen on the Uptown Theatre marquee in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

(5) AIR APPARENT. Pirated Thoughts reports “DC Comics Wants to Flatten “Swampthing” Tires”.

DC Comics is battling a tire company that is using the SWAMPTHING mark in association with its monster tires.

Transamerica Tire, Co widely distributes its “Swampthing” tires which figure some “monster” treads that allow  added traction thru sand, gravel, dirt, mud or…swamps. 

…In July 2019, Transamerica filed a trademark registration to protect the name SWAMPTHING for its tires. But there is a big green guy who has something to say about that.

(6) SECOND FIFTH. Craig Miller prefers the “Revenge of the Sixth” as a reference, and in honor of the date he’s shared a couple more things he’s remembered since his book Star Wars Memories was released.

…But I’d completely forgotten that I’d also gotten a character’s name changed. A document in my files reminded me….

(7) PROCESSING GRIEF. A writer tells the BBC “How the Marvel Cinematic Universe has helped me grieve”

Since writer Hanna Flint’s grandmother died from Covid-19 complications, she has found solace in superheroes. Here she explains why the films are great for processing tough emotions.

…After my parents called me that Friday night to tell me the news, I cried myself to sleep. But the next morning, I woke up with the strongest urge to escape into the fantastical world of Iron Man, Captain Marvel, Steve Rogers, Thor and the rest of these Marvel heroes – so I camped out on my sofa and binge-watched MCU movies for the remainder of the Easter Weekend.

I’ve spent more than a decade being invested in this film franchise, so it’s no wonder that it’s become the cinematic equivalent of an emotional support dog for me in my time of need. There’s a familiarity that I have with these heroic characters and their fist-pumping adventures that must cause a release of serotonin in my brain, because with each film I watched anew, I felt the thrum of grief lessen, allowing in moments of joy that lifted my spirit.

…Alongside the gags, the series has also deepened as time has gone on, with the MCU opening itself up to a broader range of stories and sensibilities. No longer is the focus only on white male heroes and villains – instead there is a diverse range of characters for a wider audience to connect with. Peyton Reed’s Ant-Man films, James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy movies, Scott Derrickson’s Doctor Strange and Captain Marvel from Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, are all brilliant examples of Marvel Studios allowing the filmmakers’ voices to shine, while still staying true to the unifying structure and webbed narrative of the franchise. Ragnarok is probably the most distinctive individual Marvel offering so far – Waititi’s deadpan, self-referential humour keeps things especially grounded and accessible, despite the out-of-this-world setting. The Kiwi filmmaker flips your expectations of certain characters – as when Korg, a member of the rock alien Kronan race, turns out to be far more mild-mannered and intellectual than his previously-seen peers – but also uses comedy to make space for a deeper cultural commentary on issues like refugees, slavery and the white-washing of history.

(9) MAY THE FOURTH PROMOTION GOES AWRY. “Alberta police take down woman, 19, dressed as Star Wars stormtrooper to promote reopened restaurant” – Canada’s National Post has the story.

Police in southern Alberta are being investigated after a restaurant worker in a Star Wars stormtrooper costume who was carrying a plastic gun was forced to the ground and ended up with a bloody nose.

…The Lethbridge Police Service said officers were called to the restaurant Monday morning for reports of a person in a stormtrooper costume carrying a firearm. A news release Tuesday said when officers arrived, the person dropped the weapon but didn’t initially comply with directions to get down on the ground.

Whalen disputes the account that his employee didn’t obey police commands. When officers arrived, she immediately dropped the weapon and put her hands up, he said.

But Whalen said that the stormtrooper helmet makes it hard to hear and to be heard. It also makes it difficult to move, let alone to kneel or get down on your stomach. Whalen said this may have caused a delay in the employee getting on the ground.

“It’s not the easiest thing to kneel down in. You can’t even sit down in it. It takes 20 minutes to put on.”

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • May 6, 1956 Dimension X’s “Knock” aired. It was based on Fredric Brown’s story of the same name, first published in the December 1948 issue of Thrilling Wonder Stories. It was the first of three adaptations of his story, with the latter ones being X Minus One and Sci Fi Channel’s Seeing Ear Theatre. This version was adapted was by Ernest Kinroy. Fred Wiehe and Edward King were the directors. Norman Rose was heard as both announcer and narrator. The entire script can be summed up as “The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door…” Frederic Brown is the running for two Retro Hugos this year, one for Best Novelette for “Arena” and another for Best Short Story for “And the Gods Laughed“. You can hear “Knock” here.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 6, 1914 Randall Jarrell. Author of the ever so charming The Animal Family which is illustrated by Maurice Sendak. Go read it – you’ll be smiling afterwards. The Anchor Book of Stories has more of his genre friendly stories. (Died 1965.)
  • Born May 6, 1915 Orson Welles. Certainly the broadcast of “The War of the Worlds” in 1938 was his pinnacle of genre success. But for the Federal Theatre Project he did a 1936 adaptation of Macbeth with an entirely African American cast. That it was known as the Voodoo Macbeth might give you an idea of what he did with it. He would later do a more straightforward film of Macbeth. And, of course, he made a most excellent radio Shadow as well! (Died 1985.)
  • Born May 6, 1946 Nancy Kilpatrick, 74. Fangoria called her “Canada’s answer to Anne Rice.” I know that I’ve read something of her fiction but I’ll be damned if I remember what it was. I do recommend the anthology she edited Danse Macabre: Close Encounters with the Reaper as it’s a most excellent horror collection. 
  • Born May 6, 1952 Michael O’Hare. He was best known for playing Commander Jeffrey Sinclair on Babylon 5.  Other genre appearances were limited — he played Fuller in the 1984 film C.H.U.D, was Jimmy in the “Heretic” episode of Tales from the Darkside and appeared as a thug on the subway train in The Trial of the Incredible Hulk. (Died 2012.)
  • Born May 6, Carlos Lauchu, 59. Anubis, the captain of Ra’s personal guard, in the original Stargate film. His only other genre acting was two appearances in the Monsters anthology series. 
  • Born May 6, 1969 Annalee Newitz, 51. They are the winner of 2019 Hugo Award for Best Fancast at Dublin 2019 for “Our Opinions Are Correct”. And their novel Autonomous was a finalist for the Nebula Award for Best Novel, John W. Campbell Memorial Award and the Locus Award for Best First Novel while winning a Lambda Literary Award. They are also the winner of the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for best short science fiction, ”When Robot and Crow Saved East St. Louis”. 

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro shows Spider-craft.
  • Peanuts from 50 years ago today:

(13) BRUSHWORK. Cora Buhlert has an eye on some of the latest – in 1965 – high culture trends: “[MAY 4, 1965] THE OP AND THE POP: NEW MOVEMENTS IN MODERN ART”

…So what do you see, when you look at a work of Minimalist art? You’ll see simple patterns, geometric shapes, hard edges, primary colours and monochromatic palettes. The so-called “Black Paintings” by the above mentioned Frank Stella consist of concentric stripes painted on raw canvas in the black wall paint that Stella uses in his day job as a house painter. Canadian artist Agnes Martin paints grids and stripes in pastel watercolours. Meanwhile, Dan Flavin eschews paint altogether and instead creates artworks from tubes of neon lights arranged in various geometric patterns.

(14) SOCIAL MEDIA GAVEL BANGERS. BBC is there when “Facebook’s ‘supreme court’ members announced”.

Facebook has announced who will sit on an independent board, set up to have ultimate say over what controversial content should be taken down.

Former Danish prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt will co-chair the panel with three others.

The panel said they will judge some of the “hardest cases out there.”

One expert said it was a bold experiment, but others were more cynical about how much difference they would make.

In a blog announcing the oversight board, Facebook said it “represented a new model of content moderation”

Initially consisting of 16 members, there are plans to expand numbers to 40. It will begin hearing cases later this year.

At first this will just be deliberating on content that individuals feel has been wrongfully removed but, in following months, it will also look at appeals from users who want Facebook to remove content.

(15) BOOKS BY THE POUND. The New York Times analyzes why “The ‘Credibility Bookcase’ Is the Quarantine’s Hottest Accessory” – provided yours isn’t filled with duds.

…In April, an anonymous Twitter account, Bookcase Credibility, emerged to keep an eye on the trend and quickly accumulated more than 30,000 followers. Its tagline is “What you say is not as important as the bookcase behind you,” and it offers arch commentary on the rapidly solidifying tropes of the genre as well as genuine respect for a well-executed specimen. YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki appears before “a standard credibility wallpaper presentation in the unthreatening homely style.” The migrants’ rights activist Minnie Rahman’s Encyclopaedia Britannica collection “is a lazy hand wafted at convention.” And the British politician Liam Fox’s “bold grab at credibility is somewhat undermined by the hardback copy of The Da Vinci Code.”

Similarly, Atlas Obscura reports “The Zoom Era Inspires a ‘Bookshelf Championship’ in Portugal”.

…As expected from a nation with one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world, the Portuguese rallied behind the Bookshelf Championship. All of a sudden, book-related opinions were all over social media. “He’s stacking books horizontally to fit more,” a Twitter user said of his preferred contestant, journalist Nuno Rogeiro, whose all-embracing bookshelf featured books wedged into every available cranny. Some contemplated the definition of a bookshelf: Should a shelf full of binders be disqualified, or was it a “spectacular variation” on the theme? Others called for the “immediate resignation” of the Minister of Education, Tiago Brandão Rodrigues, on the grounds that his video conference set-up featured zero books. It didn’t take long for the debate to make it, in an apt twist, onto the evening news. Ricardo Araújo Pereira, one of Portugal’s top comedians, submitted his formal entry by taking a conference call from a deserted university library, where he sat flanked by tidy bookshelves in perfect social isolation. Twitter deemed his entry “extremely strong.”

(16) A CRUISE IN SPACE. The original report from Deadline: “Out Of This World! Tom Cruise Plots Movie To Shoot In Space With Elon Musk’s SpaceX”.

I’m hearing that Tom Cruise and Elon Musk’s Space X are working on a project with NASA that would be the first narrative feature film – an action adventure – to be shot in outer space. It’s not a Mission: Impossible film and no studio is in the mix at this stage but look for more news as I get it. But this is real, albeit in the early stages of liftoff.

Mission: Impossible Fallout took a break, literally when he broke his ankle in a leap from one rooftop to the other and he also hung from a helicopter; he hung from the side of a jet plane during takeoff in Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation, and in Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol he scaled the Burj Khalifa, the Dubai skyscraper, and executed stunts 123 floors up. He is meticulous in preparing these stunts he does, which are frightening just to watch.

There has never been a leading man (Jackie Chan might dispute this) who puts himself at risk as often as does Cruise, in the name of the most realistic action sequences possible. If he is successful shooting a project in Musk’s space ship, he will be alone in the Hollywood record books. Stay tuned.

NPR picks up the story: “Tom Cruise And NASA Could Be A Match Made In The Heavens”.

… NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine confirmed by tweet that “NASA is excited to work with @TomCruise on a film aboard the @Space_Station! We need popular media to inspire a new generation of engineers and scientists to make @NASA’s ambitious plans a reality.”

At 57, the actor is a good deal older than the run-of-the-mill astronaut (if there is such a thing) though a number “spaceflight participants” (the official NASA and Roscosmos — the Russian space agency — designation for non-astronauts) have flown before.

Cruise is demonstrably in excellent shape, and evidently fearless when it comes to doing his own stunts. That’s fortunate, as up to this point, Space X has launched only unmanned missions of its Dragon 2 craft, which is designed to transport astronauts to the International Space Station. Its first launch with a human crew is scheduled for later this month.

(17) AND BABY MAKES E=MC2. Is everything Musk does newsworthy? (Or is this just freaky enough to be interesting?) “X Æ A-12: Elon Musk and Grimes confirm baby name”.

Elon Musk and singer Grimes have confirmed they have named their baby X Æ A-12.

The Space X CEO announced the birth of their son on Monday. “Mom & baby all good,” he said on Twitter.

He posted that the child would be called X Æ A-12 Musk and his girlfriend later offered an explanation to her followers on social media.

(18) COME OUT OF YOUR SHELL. “‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ Movie 30th Anniversary Pizza Party Announced by Original April O’Neil”. Actress Judith Hoag, who played April O’Neil, is hosting the official 30-year cast reunion Pizza Panel Party on May 23rd, “World Turtle Day,” with the original cast and crew – Food & Wine has the story.

“It’s our 30th anniversary. We had some really great stuff planned to celebrate with you guys, and then the pandemic hit,” Hoag said. “It would be great to have a virtual pizza party with you guys, our fans […] We want to get together, hang out with you, and eat some pizza. I personally will probably be having a martini while I’m doing it.”

As of this writing, there aren’t any additional details about the Zoom event, but the TMNT Movie 1990 Facebook page says that it will post more information for online attendees in the days ahead….

(19) FROG GOT YOUR TONGUE? Delish is sure “‘Star Wars’ Fans Will Love These Fruit Roll-Ups With ‘Mandalorian’ Tongue Tattoos”.

…Giving yourself a temporary tongue tattoo from a sticky fruit roll-up is an inexplicable joy. Why is it so fun to have a blue outline of a character on your tongue? Who knows, but it’s about to get a whole lot more exciting. Star Wars-themed Fruit Roll-Ups with The Mandalorian tongue tattoos are expected to come out this fall, which means you can take your Baby Yoda obsession even further that you thought.

The Fruit Roll-Ups by General Mills are expected to be released this September, according to Nerdist. The package features two Mandalorian-themed tattoos: one of Baby Yoda with a frog in his mouth and the other of the Mandalorian’s helmet.

(20) OF HUMANS YET TO COME. John Folk-Williams applauds this developing series — “The Quantum Evolution by Derek Künsken: A Review” at SciFi Mind.

Derek Künsken’s series, The Quantum Evolution, so far consisting of two novels (The Quantum Magician and The Quantum Garden) is a brilliant space opera that probes the depths of a future human nature engineered to produce new subspecies. And they are wild, at times repulsive, at times capable of incredible breakthroughs in knowledge or massive deception and theft, at times mired in twisted love of false gods.I’ve rarely been so intellectually engaged by the idea of a quantum evolution of humankind and so drawn to a set of fascinating characters as they fight and con their way across various star systems.

(21) MURDER HORNET. [Item by Daniel Dern.] From today’s NY Times — even more timely as Wednesdays are also when the Gray Lady does its weekly Food/Dining section (although this wasn’t in that section, hardcopywise): “In Japan, the ‘Murder Hornet’ Is Both a Lethal Threat and a Tasty Treat”.

… But in the central Chubu region, these insects — sometimes called “murder hornets” — are known for more than their aggression and excruciating sting. They are seen as a pleasant snack and an invigorating ingredient in drinks….

(22) STEPHEN KING ON THE LATE SHOW. The legendary master of horror covers a lot of ground in this talk with Stephen Colbert, including how he would fare in quarantine with his most feared characters, some things he learned about pandemics when doing research for “The Stand,” and the many reasons he recommends reading The Lord of the Rings.

[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Michael Toman, StephenfromOttawa, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, Lise Andreasen, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Susan de Guardiola, Olav Rokne, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

46 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 5/6/20 Look Dave, I Can See You’re Really Upset About This. Take A Pixel Scroll, And Think Things Over

  1. (17) I think that kid will file for a name change at the first opportunity.

  2. [17] I don’t think any state in the Union, not even California, will allow the Æ ligature or the numeral in a child’s legally registered name. And I say that as a guy who used to enter new births into the State of Wisconsin’s database.

  3. 13) Thanks for the link.

    17) Stuff like this makes me glad Germany has a law banning overly unusual names or names that could expose their wearer to ridicule, even if individual registry offices occasionally overreach in the application.

  4. (4) I don’t know who operates the Uptown these days, but when I lived in Minneapolis 30-35 years ago it was a repertory theater with the occasional run of a new movie (such as Shoah). On several different occasions (with more or less the same appreciative audience each time) I’d go there to see favorites such as The Adventures of Baron Munchausen or All That Jazz. The Uptown was also the site of the first (and, for decades, the only) live show Mystery Science Theater ever did, around 1992.

  5. @1: Regardless of whether the convention is fannish or professional, published writers are essentially zoo animals to be gawked at for the weekend. I don’t know what kind of conventions he’s been to, or what kind of attitude he took to them, but he’s drawing excessive conclusions there. And after just one ICFA I am also wondering what kind of conference he’s been to and why he thinks he knows them all. And IIRC it was his dumb remarks about small presses that we were discussing recently…. I wonder whether his antisocial rants are affecting how potentially-interested authors are viewing conventions.

    @8: I knew there was a reason I didn’t click through to that story…

    @9: Sounds like these cops could have learned something from the team that hit the Hostility House Disclave (40 years ago this Memorial Day) and managed not to shoot a cosplay-mercenary who pointed something at them. (OTOH, they had some reason to be nervous after the horrendous shooting back east.) I’m not surprised that the costume didn’t make hitting the dirt easy; my visual recollection of SW4 includes Storm Troopers almost waddling.

    @15: IIRC, the BBC remarked on some real backgrounds — including a current Minister whose books on eugenics were not the most objectionable thing on his shelves.

    @21: I guess hornet venom taken internally isn’t as dangerous as fugu. (I vaguely recall some venoms being mostly polypeptides, which I’d expect to degrade in the stomach, but Wikipedia tells me there are other nasty substances, such as acetylcholine, in hornet venom.)

    @P J Evans re @17: will that be before or after he files a suit for mental cruelty? I don’t know whether Dweezil and Moon Unit Zappa changed their names, but Luanna Mountainborn Robinson was going by “Terri” for quite some time before her way-too-early death.

    @Soon Lee: so no Catch-22 in NZ?

    @Steve Wright: I like that pronunciation.

  6. Orson Welles played Unicron, the planet-sized transformer in 1985’s Transformers: The Movie (which was set in the far flung future of 2005). It was his last role. Also his largest!

  7. (1) I had to laugh at this: People are often surprised at how friendly I am at conventions, because all I can do is smile and nod while my ears swim with tinnitus. I haven’t heard a word anyone in a restaurant has said to me since 2011.

  8. @Chip Hitchcock

    I don’t know what kind of conventions he’s been to, or what kind of attitude he took to them, but he’s drawing excessive conclusions there. And after just one ICFA I am also wondering what kind of conference he’s been to and why he thinks he knows them all. And IIRC it was his dumb remarks about small presses that we were discussing recently…. I wonder whether his antisocial rants are affecting how potentially-interested authors are viewing conventions.

    I think his posts (this one and the one about small presses) make his attitude amply clear.

    And no, this hasn’t been my experience at conventions either. George R.R. Martin is maybe getting gawked at on occasion, but that’s because he’s George R.R. Martin, not because he’s a published author.

  9. 4)/gottacook — these days, the Uptown (and the Lagoon just down the street) are both operated by Landmark Theatres. They mostly do (well, did) first-run stuff, tending towards indy/arthouse, but the Uptown does (well, did) midnight screenings of cult favorites on the weekends.

    I walk past that theater just about every morning when I’m going for my (socially distanced) walk.

  10. (17) The kid may or may not sue, but he’ll certainly change is name to something pronounceable in at least one language spoken somewhere on this planet.

    I think Soon Lee may be overstating things in saying New Zealand doesn’t allow letters in names.

    Moon Unit Zappa has not changed her name.

    Dweezil Zappa was born in a hospital that refused to register that as his name. He was five when he found out Dweezil wasn’t his legal name, and he insisted that it become his legal name.

    This might be because, in both cases, the names are easily pronounceable, they were what their family called them, and when they had to tell other people, well, their dad was FRANK ZAPPA. They didn’t expect to be exactly like everyone else, weren’t expected to be like everyone else, and I’m pretty confident that if anyone tried to give them a hard time about, Frank wouldn’t have been putting up with it.

  11. (4) The Uptown marquee that got posted the most online was probably

    Right side: Inside Llewyn Davis Starring A Cat & John Goodman
    Left side: Inside Llewyn Davis Outside Really Cold

    Though I liked

    Right side: Colin Firth Is The Railway Man
    Left side: The Railway Man Does Whatever A Railway Can

    Sorry about the formatting.

    You file me up with the posts from Hell
    But I won’t scroll down

  12. 21) murder hornet or, as some wit on twitter noted, manslaughter bee with a good lawyer.

  13. Chip Hitchcock: I thought the idiot at the Hostility House was dressed in paramilitary garb and had a fake gun which he pointed at the SWAT team,which admirably restrained themselves.

    I thought Stephen King looked pretty good BUT what is the guy doing filming in his garage? Why isn’t he sitting in front of a bookcase filled with his many bestsellers?

  14. @Martin Wooster–

    I thought Stephen King looked pretty good BUT what is the guy doing filming in his garage? Why isn’t he sitting in front of a bookcase filled with his many bestsellers?

    He’s Stephen King. He doesn’t need to show off all his bestsellers.

  15. (17) So what everyday name are they going to use for that kid?

    They probably won’t. They’ll just hand him over to the nannies, and see him again when he’s 18.

    (The name probably makes perfect sense on whatever planet Elon Musk came from.)

  16. Meredith moment. Marlon Jame’s Black Leopard, Red Wolf is 99p at the UK Kindle store.

  17. @Joe H (re Uptown): I suspect that’s typical. I have very fond memories of a not-quite-downtown-Boston theater (almost a screening room) that played 3 different pairs of old movies every week at good-to-excellent prices: $2 for a single (vs $2.50 or $3 for other theaters’ single first-run shows), $7 for a 10-card, and $20 for a 20-card; this was successful enough that the founder opened a second small theater in the restaurant-and-club area that was ~uptownish and right next to one end of one of the largest colleges in Boston. But this was back when there was no cable and not even any videocassettes (and you could buy a decent small car for the price of 2-4 videotape recorders); when he swapped for a real theater a couple of miles further out (Coolidge Corner), the program gradually drifted to (sometimes-very) offbeat contemporary. He also chopped up the balcony and spread into neighboring rooms to make at least 3 additional screens — is the Uptown similarly divided? The Coolidge incorporated as a non-profit independent (Landmark has a couple of ~9-plexes at respectfu distances) and gotten even more quirky: I’ve seen at least 4 NTLive shows there, 3 silent films scored and accompanied by students from Berklee (the local make-a-living-from-music school, apart from the higher-aimed New England Conservatory down the street), Metropolis with the Alloy Orchestra, Kushner narrating The Golden Dreidel (the Nutcracker rewrite she did for a klezmer band that had reworked chunks of Tchaikovsky), and other marvelous things that didn’t fit Landmark’s first-run (mostly) non-mainstream line.

    @Jack Lint: sounds like they have fun.

    @Martin Wooster: correct (AFAIK from contemporary reports — I was out to dinner); I was being brief. The Alberta cops were in a much less gnarly-looking situation but reacted more … vigorously. And if anyone’s wondering: that episode had nothing to do with why the site was called the Hostility House; it had earned that name at least a day before.

  18. I remember in an interview (which I now can’t find) that Zappa said they had intended to let the older children name the youngest daughter Diva. (Diva Thin Muffin Pigeen Zappa. One live staple from his concerts was Zappa’s Muffin Man.) However, the name they came up with was even wilder than Dweezil and Moon Unit. The third child is Ahmet Emuukah Rodan Zappa. (Zappa had organized the Abnuceals Emuukha Electric Symphony Orchestra, made up of studio musicians, for Lumpy Gravy.)

    Harley Quinn Smith (daughter of Kevin Smith) seems to be doing well. I don’t know if I’ve heard anything about Moxie Crimefighter Jillette, but she’s only 14. (IMDB says she’s appeared on Penn & Teller: Fool Us a couple of times.)

    Has anyone seen the empty BBC sets the archives have released for use as backdrops for Zoom meetings? There’s one set of science fiction sets.

    I love going into like Pixel Scroll and stuff
    It’s like so bitchin’ cuz like everybody is so like super super nice

  19. @Paul et al —

    Meredith moment. Marlon Jame’s Black Leopard, Red Wolf is 99p at the UK Kindle store.

    For anyone not familiar with this one, as I think I’ve mentioned before: this has wonderful, savage prose. For me, at least, startling. Sadly, I couldn’t understand the story line while trying to wade through the narrator’s accent in audio, and I haven’t gotten around to finishing this in eyes-on-the-page, but the part I listened to was pretty great. I encourage anyone who likes a strong narrative voice to try it.

    I’d love to hear from anyone who has read the whole book!

  20. Jack Lint: I love going into like Pixel Scroll and stuff, It’s like so bitchin’ cuz like everybody is so like super super nice

    It’s even better if you don’t have a jugular vein….

  21. (15) I remember when then Prime Minister David Cameron was interviewed in front of his bookcase there were comments in the media. There seemed to be a general assumption by journalists that he must have been given the row of SF books (mostly Charles Stross titles) as gifts and couldn’t possibly have actually wanted to read them.

    (16) Who else in the cast will go up to the ISS for filming? I would suggest a good choice would be an actor who completed cosmonaut training a few years ago only for the Russians to cancel his flight to the ISS – Brian Blessed.

    Andy Serkis is going to be reading the whole of the Hobbit as a live stream on 8th May.

  22. Re (#9) Number 9, Number 9 …

    I had some concerns when, during a Disclave, actually in the district and a hike to the National Zoo, someone wandered over from the con wearing a Chewbacca costume.

    Uh, some zookeeper might think that one of their large furry animals had gotten loose! They’ll send staff armed with cattle prods! And if he was really in character he’d respond by roaring!

  23. @Chip Hitchcock — the Uptown is still a single screen with balcony seating. The nearby Lagoon has about a half a dozen tiny auditoriums with screens that are bigger than my TV, but not MUCH bigger than my TV.

  24. Not to defend the child-naming habits of crazy celebrities and the like, but “Moon” is actually not that unusual of a first name, even if “Unit” is a pre-e-etty odd middle one. And lots of people don’t bother to use their middle names most of the time.

    Dweezil is another story, but he seems to be having a successful musical career, which is a field where an unusual name is definitely not a handicap.

    As for the Swamp Thing case (5), well, trademarks are supposed to be limited to particular fields, in general. Although there are a lot of other complications. Honestly, I’m not sure which side I think should win or which side will win in this particular case. If DC can show any evidence that Transamerica was deliberately trying to leverage their mark, it will be a lot easier for them, but Transamerica can obviously note that “swamp thing” is a fairly obvious construction, and there’s little or no danger of market confusion, since tires aren’t comic books.

  25. @Xtifr

    Then there’s Duncan Zowie Haywood Jones (Bowie) but he did direct Moon.

  26. 17) When the kid gets a little older, will he gain superpowers if he pronounces his own name correctly? (As in the original Johnny Quick invoking his super speed by reciting a mathematical formula.)

  27. @Contrarius: I finished that volume because of all the raves I’d read, but it was hard slogging and I don’t plan to read the other two parts of the trilogy. Part of that is that my taste for grimdark is limited; this wasn’t grimdarkest (I think — I don’t read much of the style) but after a while the combination of that and the “how many vulgar terms for a woman can we come up with?” grated on me. It’s possible this constitutes realism in the ?mythological? Africa the author tries to ?re?create — but some myths may not be worth preserving. As usual, YMMV.

    @Xtifr: IIRC, “Moon Unit” was supposed to be the first name, just like the last name of the composer of Phantom of the Opera is Lloyd Webber. and wrt cross-field trademarking, I’m told reliably that there was a discussion concerning initials between the Philadelphia Savings Fund Society and the Philiadelphia SFS (which the former wanted to stop using initials).

    @Kathryn Sullivan: and I hope the school bankrupted the parents in a lawsuit; I’m no database expert, but I don’t believe they couldn’t have done something less destructive. I’d like to think that even a jobsworth would have balked at that bizarre name, but I’m not such a dreamer.

  28. @Chip —

    @Contrarius: I finished that volume because of all the raves I’d read, but it was hard slogging and I don’t plan to read the other two parts of the trilogy. Part of that is that my taste for grimdark is limited

    Thanks for your take, Chip!

    I got through about half of the book before giving up on the narrator (who was actually excellent, aside from my difficulty in following the story), and I certainly agree that it was pretty grim and pretty dark. Fortunately for me, that mostly doesn’t drive me away from things. And I loved the prose and all the details and complications and complexities. But, since I haven’t finished it, I have no idea whether the story really paid off in the end. Whaddaya think about the shape of the thing as a whole?

  29. @Contrarius: my notes are unclear on the shape/payoff (and I’m stuck with them because it was ~160 books ago). They do say it ends with an epilog that sounds … unsatisfactory, although it was at least something of an ending (as in, this could be panel 1 of a triptych rather than part 1 of a trilogy.

  30. @Chip Hitchcock: I used to think that, but Frank himself says “Unit” is her middle name here. (Link to video, starting at 5:04 to get the relevant quote.)

    @Kathryn Sullivan: Ah yes, little “Bobby Tables” is one of my favorites! There’s actually a real world equivalent (probably inspired by the comic): “An SQL Injection Attack is a Legal Company Name in the UK“. 😀

  31. I alternate between first and middle name depending on my level of faith that the community in question will be able to reliably spell “Meredith” but they’re both namey type names. Not Moon and Unit.

    Still. Frank Zappa could do (more or less) what he liked and generally it would be pretty cool because, well, Frank Zappa. Musk is not Frank Zappa.

  32. @Ken: my notes weren’t quite that harsh, but they were too brief. I’m surprised some normally-more-acute critics didn’t spot that underlying repetitiveness.

    @Andrew: I never knew Banks could be sardonic; thanks for this.

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