(1) HEADHUNTING. LAD Bible previews a project coming to YouTube on September 25: “A Mockumentary Has Been Made About Star Wars’ Most Famous Blooper”.
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… a stormtrooper smashed their head on a door in the Death Star – and people have been wanting to know who it was ever since.
The scene occurs in Star Wars: A New Hope and has become a cult moment for Warsies (that’s what Star Wars fans call themselves apparently). Now, a filmmaker has taken it upon himself to make a mockumentary about the blunder, entitled The Empire Strikes Door.
(2) YOUR BEDTIME IT IS. The Disney Bedtime Hotline is back online. Polygon tells how “You can now call Yoda to wish you a good night”.
Good news to all the insomniacs out there. Disney’s Bedtime Hotline returns from Sept. 16 to Sept. 30. The hotline which debuted last August, gave fans a chance to hear bedtime messages from the core Disney cast of Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, or Goofy.
The hotline returns for the next two weeks, this time with a lineup taking advantage of Disney’s full trove of IP. In addition to Mickey, callers can also get messages from Woody, Jasmine, and Elsa and Anna, as well as as some unexpected choices from Disney properties. Specifically Yoda and Spider-Man.
That’s right, Yoda is a Disney character and now he tells you about the importance of sleep as you curl up for the night.
Calling 1-877-7-MICKEY — toll free!
(3) FULL FATHOM FIVE. In The Guardian’s weekly segment on “Jumping The Shark,” Ben Gazur contends this is “How Babylon 5 went from space opera to space junk”.
Babylon 5 was a show that should never have been commissioned. Five seasons of the United Nations set in space, anyone? Well, set your phasers to stunned because while Star Trek gets all the glory – what with its big-name actors, great special effects and lasting cultural cachet – it was Babylon 5 that became every true sci-fi fan’s secret favourite.
(4) PREVIEWS OF MOUNT TBR. NPR’s Caitlyn Paxson reports on “3 Crackling Young Adult Reads To Welcome Fall”, two of which are genre works.
In Akwaeke Emezi’s Pet, angels have rid the city of Lucille of all its monsters. That’s what Jam has been taught, and she has no reason to doubt it, as she lives a happy life surrounded by her loving parents and her best friend, Redemption. No reason, until a strange and frightening creature crawls out of one of her mother’s paintings, intent on hunt down a monster hiding in their midst. The creature is called Pet, and it tells Jam that her duty is to help search out the evil that has taken root in Redemption’s house. Jam isn’t sure she’s the right person for the task — but what choice does she have, when no one else will even admit that there may still be monsters lurking in the shadows?
…After making her entrance last year with The Light Between Worlds, which asked what happens to the children cast out of portal fantasies once the adventure is over, Laura Weymouth returns with A Treason of Thorns, a full-on alternate history fantasy that imagines an England that is home to Great Houses — sentient buildings that enrich or destroy their regions depending on how well they are managed by their human Caretaker.
(5) JANIS IAN DONATES COLLECTION. Brown University Library announced the acquisition: “Network of Women Writers and Readers Crux of John Hay Library’s Janis Ian Collection of Science Fiction and Fantasy”.
The John Hay Library is now home to renowned recording artist, writer, and activist Janis Ian’s collection of personally inscribed works of science fiction and fantasy, many by women and LGBTQ authors.
The John Hay Library at Brown University is delighted to announce the acquisition of Janis Ian’s personal library, including collections of books of contemporary science fiction and fantasy authors inscribed to her. Among these authors are Anne McCaffrey, George R. R. Martin, Mercedes Lackey, Mike Resnick, Nancy Kress, Neil Gaiman, Connie Willis, Harlan Ellison, Jane Yolen, Tanith Lee, Diane Duane, and many others. In all, the Library received approximately 200 volumes from Ms. Ian’s collection.
(6) STALLMAN GONE. “Richard Stallman Resigns from MIT” – Slashdot has the story.He’s also resigned as President from the Free Software Foundation.
Following outrage over his remarks about Jefferey Epstein’s victims, Richard Stallman has resigned from his position in MIT, effective immediately.
Stallman wrote in an email,
I am resigning effective immediately from my position in CSAIL at MIT. I am doing this due to pressure on MIT and me over a series of misunderstandings and mischaracterizations.
CSAIL is MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.
(7) MESSAGE FROM PTERRY? “‘Grim reaper’ stolen from Russian street” – he was gone in sixty seconds.
The Russian city of Arkhangelsk caused a stir by putting up a statue of the Grim Reaper on a roadside to put motorists off speeding, only for thieves to steal it later in the day….
The black-shrouded figure, made to order by a craftsman from local pine, was meant to “discourage drivers from speeding up on that stretch of road since it’s been repaired”, spokeswoman Tatyana Simindei told the site.
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.
- September 17, 1964 — Mothra Vs. Godzilla premiered in the U.S.
- September 17, 1976 — NASA named its first Space Shuttle after a starship from some sci-fi TV show – Enterprise.
- September 17, 1978 — The original Battlestar Galactica premiered on television. It would last but a single season.
- September 17, 1982 — The Powers of Matthew Star first aired. It ran one season. Harve Bennett (Trek films II–V) was one of its creators and Leonard Nimoy directed the “Triangle” episode while Walter Koenig wrote the “Mother” episode. The original pilot, “ Starr Knight” as written by Steven E. de Souza, writer of The Running Man aired as the final episode.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born September 17, 1908 — John Creasey. English crime and SF writer who wrote well over than six hundred novels using twenty-eight different names. His SF writings were mostly in the Dr. Palfrey series, a British secret service agent named Dr. Stanislaus Alexander Palfrey, who forms Z5. I’ve not read them, so how are they as SF? None of these appear to be available from iBooks but they’re available from Kindle.
- Born September 17, 1917 — Art Widner. He was a founding member of The Stranger Club which created Boston fandom. He chaired Boskone I and Boskone II which were held in 1941 and 1942, they being the very first two Boston cons. Fancyclopedia 3 has a very detailed look at him here. (Died 2015.)
- Born September 17, 1920 — Dinah Sheridan. She was Chancellor Flavia in “The Five Doctors”, a Doctor Who story that brought together the First, Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth Doctors. Richard Hurndall portrayed the First Doctor, as the character’s original actor, William Hartnell, had died. (Died 2012.)
- Born September 17, 1920 — Roddy McDowall. He is best known for portraying Cornelius and Caesar in the original Planet of the Apes film franchise, as well as Galen in the television series. He’s Sam Conrad in The Twilight Zone episode “People Are Alike All Over” and he voices Jervis Tetch / The Mad Hatter in Batman: The Animated Series. (Died 1998.)
- Born September 17, 1939 — Sandra Gimpel, 80. Performer and stunt woman. Though you’ll literally not recognize her, she was the salt monster aka the M-113 creature (as it was called in the credits) in “The Man Trap” episode of the original Trek. In “The Cage” episode, she played a Talosian. As a stunt woman, she’s been on genre shows ranging from Lost in Space to Lucifer and even appeared on films like Escape from New York.
- Born September 17, 1951 — Cassandra Peterson,68. Definitely better known as Elvira, Mistress of The Darkness, a character she’s played on TV and in movies, becoming the host of Elvira’s Movie Macabre, a weekly horror movie presentation in LA in 1981. She’s a showgirl in Diamonds Are Forever which was her debut film, and is Sorais in Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold.
- Born September 17, 1962 — Paul Feig, 56. I see that he and Katie Dippold were nominated but didn’t win a Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation for their Ghostbusters film. How did it do in the actual voting?
- Born September 17, 1965 — Bryan Singer, 54. Director of such genre film as including X-Men, Superman Returns, X-Men: Days of Future Past, and X-Men: Apocalypse.
- Born September 17, 1973 — Jonathan Morris, 46. SFF television series are fertile grounds for creating spinoff book series and Doctor Who is no exception. This writer has only written four such novels to date but oh, the number of Big Finish audiobooks that he’s written scripts for now numbers in the high forties if I include the Companions and the Jago & Lightfoot series as well.
(10) LEGO’S NEW GLOBAL CAMPAIGN. From behind a paywall at The Drum:
…The result is ‘Rebuild the World’, Lego’s most significant global brand campaign since the 90s, which was created by BETC in collaboration with The Lego Agency.
Ultimately, the push seeks to position the toy as something that can strengthen creative resilience and problem-solving capabilities in kids – an idea originally floated by BETC in a world where children are more likely to pick up an iPad than open a toybox.
Underpinned by bold, playful creative that will run across TV, online, OOH and cinema, Marcelli describes the campaign as “a new, modern expression of the true, deep foundations” of the brand, and the “perfect interpretation” of its mission to inspire future generations.
At the heart of the drive is a film directed by Traktor Creative, a duo who have previously worked with The Prodigy and Madonna, which shows what the world would look like if it obeyed the rules of Lego play.
(11) DON’T LESNERIZE. “Common cold stopped by experimental approach” reports BBC.
Scientists think they have found a way to stop the common cold and closely related viruses which can cause paralysis.
Instead of trying to attack them directly, the researchers targeted an essential protein inside our cells which the viruses need to replicate.
The approach gave “complete protection” in experiments on mice and human lung cells.
However, the US-based researchers are not ready for trials in people.
(12) THE BUZZ. You are invited to “Meet The Nuclear-Powered Self-Driving Drone NASA Is Sending To A Moon Of Saturn” — includes video simulation.
On the face of it, NASA’s newest probe sounds incredible. Known as Dragonfly, it is a dual-rotor quadcopter (technically an octocopter, even more technically an X8 octocopter); it’s roughly the size of a compact car; it’s completely autonomous; it’s nuclear powered; and it will hover above the surface of Saturn’s moon Titan.
…”Almost everyone who gets exposed to Dragonfly has a similar thought process. The first time you see it, you think: ‘You gotta be kidding, that’s crazy,’ ” says Doug Adams, the mission’s spacecraft systems engineer. But, he says, “eventually, you come to realize that this is a highly executable mission.”
NASA reached that conclusion when, after a lot of careful study, it gave Dragonfly the green light earlier this summer. “This revolutionary mission would have been unthinkable just a few short years ago,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said when the roughly $1 billion project was selected in June. “A great nation does great things.”
For Shannon MacKenzie, a postdoc on the mission, there’s no destination that could be greater than Titan. The largest moon of Saturn, it has dunes, mountains, gullies and even rivers and lakes — though on Titan, it’s so cold the lakes are filled with liquid methane, not water.
“It is this complete package,” she says. “It’s this really unique place in the solar system where all of these different processes are coming together in a very Earthlike way.”
(13) NOT-SO-HOT BOTS. BBC asks, “Russia and robots: Steel junk or a brave new world?”
Russia likes to boast of its robots – but at the same time it seems to have a somewhat troubled relationship with them.
It has endured a series of very public robotic mishaps, but all is not lost.
Amid much fanfare and praise for the Roscosmos space agency, Russian robot Fedor was launched into space on board a Soyuz 14 spacecraft in August.
Fedor made history as the first such robot ever to be sent into space by Russia, and within moments he was reporting on his progress and all was apparently going to plan.But then, mission control in Houston broke the news that Fedor’s attempt to dock with the International Space Station (ISS) had to be aborted because of a technical problem.
Before his spaceflight, Fedor had been busy impressing observers with his activities. State TV showed him driving a car, firing guns and doing push-ups – but sceptics were critical. Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was scathing in a post on Twitter.
“This Fedor the robot is what the Putin regime is all about. The PR idiots at Roscosmos came up with the idea, and engineers had to send a hundred kilos of useless steel junk into orbit,” Navalny wrote…
Alyosha, Boris and Igoryok
Last year, a robot called Boris made an appearance on national television. He announced that he was good at mathematics, but added that he would like to learn how to compose music. He also danced.
Before Boris, Russian TV also reported excitedly about another robot, a huge steel thing called Igoryok, but nobody’s seen it move – or even do anything….
(14) FATHER AND SON HORROR. Netflix has released a trailer for In the Tall Grass, a film based on a novella by Stephen King and his son Joe Hill. It becomes available October 4.
Some places have a mind of their own. Based on the novella by Stephen King and Joe Hill, when siblings Becky and Cal hear the cries of a young boy lost within a field of tall grass, they venture in to rescue him, only to become ensnared themselves by a sinister force that quickly disorients and separates them. Cut off from the world and unable to escape the field’s tightening grip, they soon discover that the only thing worse than getting lost is being found.
[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, John A Arkansawyer, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Steven H Silver, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]