Snapshots 105 Thunderchief

Here are 7 developments of interest to fans.

(1) Say, if two rats can mind meld, why not a Jedi?

The brains of two rats on different continents have been made to act in tandem. When the first, in Brazil, uses its whiskers to choose between two stimuli, an implant records its brain activity and signals to a similar device in the brain of a rat in the United States. The US rat then usually makes the same choice on the same task.

What do copycats think of copyrats?

(2) Dover Publications obviously heard you can make money with steampunk. The website is offering Steampunk Paper Dolls, a Steampunk Designs Coloring Book and Steampunk Stained Glass Coloring Book,Steampunk Tattoos, Steampunk Postcards, the Steampunk Sourcebook image collection and even the Steampunk Notebook, 64 blank pages with a thematic cover.

Sam Long explains that Dover does all kinds of topical stuff: “There are also Speakeasy paper dolls, Victorian fashion paper dolls, Lucky Cat (Japanese maneki neko) paper dolls, and many others. They’re up-to-date too: William and Kate Cambridge paper dolls. And down-to-date: Henry VIII and his six wives paper dolls.”

Does the last set come with detachable heads?

(3) William F. Nolan’s latest book, Nolan on Bradbury, is a collection of 20 articles he’s written about Ray’s work:

William F. Nolan knew the late great Ray Bradbury for more than sixty years, and during that entire span he has written perspicaciously about his mentor and friend, beginning with The Ray Bradbury Review (1952) and continuing to the present day. This volume, published on the occasion of Nolan’s 85th birthday, is a celebration of his lifelong devotion to the master of fantasy and science fiction.

I met Bill Nolan for the first time in 1969 when he talked to a group of librarians about Logan’s Run. He’s always been a source of wisdom about the history of the sf field.

(4) Women writers were a rarity in the Golden Age of science fiction. One of the most highly-esteemed was C. L. Moore, subject of Andrew Liptak’s column for Kirkus Reviews.

Moore’s first professional sale in 1933 made the biggest splash: Farnsworth Wright, editor for Weird Tales magazine received her story, Shambleau, and immediately knew that he had something fantastic. Reportedly, Wright closed Weird Tale’s offices for the day in celebration upon reading the story, which appeared in the magazine’s November issue, under the name C.L. Moore. While other women writing in the science fiction field at the time masked their names to compete in a male-dominated field, Moore claimed that the abbreviation of her name was more to protect her identity from her employer.

Moore continued the adventures of the story’s central character, Northwest Smith, with Black Thirst, published in Weird Tales’ April 1934 issue and with Scarlet Dream in May and Dust of Gods in August. The Black God’s Kiss, appearing in the October 1934 issue of Weird Tales, featured a new character, Jirel of Joiry, a notable female protagonist in a sword and sorcery story.

Weird Tales readers praised Moore’s characters, prose and storylines, including fellow author H.P. Lovecraft. Others in the industry took notice, including F. Orlin Tremaine, the editor of Astounding Science Fiction, bringing Moore into the science fiction fold with her story The Bright Illusion in the October 1934 issue. She would continue to publish in the magazine market throughout the rest of the 1930s as C.L. Moore.

(5) Many of you were fond of Animaniacs cartoons when they aired 20 years ago. Tell me if this article lives up to the promise in its title – Way More Than You Ever Wanted To Know About Animaniacs:

In episode #65, “The Warners 65th Anniversary Special,” we learn that the Warners were created in 1929 to be the sidekicks for Buddy, a real character from the early days of Warner Bros. Animation. Their only role in the Buddy cartoons was to pop out of unexpected places and use giant mallets to make a pancake out of the star. The Warners were soon given their own series of cartoons, but the resulting shorts were considered too incomprehensible for public consumption. The films were locked away in the Warner Bros. vault, and the Warner Brothers were locked inside the water tower at the Warner Bros. studio. Until the present day, when the Warners escaped.

(6) Known as the Statler-Hilton when it hosted the Worldcon in 1967, the Hotel Pennsylvania has eluded the wrecking ball once more thanks to the bad economy —

Plans to knock down the 1919 hotel, where Glenn Miller broadcast in the 1940s, and replace it with a 67-story office tower, are “on the shelf,” said Vornado Realty Trust, which has owned the building since 1998.

Although NYC City Council approval of zoning changes for a tower to replace the 1,700-room hotel remains valid, the weak economy led Vornado to switch gears; [they are] close to finding a partner and principal developer to help restore some of the hotel’s former grandeur. Though the lobby retains traces of its origins and it still has the “PEnnsylvania 6-5000” phone number made famous by Miller’s orchestra, the Hotel Pennsylvania is now a budget-priced destination with a less-than-luxurious reputation.

The hotel was designed by famous architects McKim, Mead & White, but the author says that what remains of their stately interior was covered by alterations done in the 1980s.

Also the site of LunaCons, Star Trek and Comics conventions over the decades, the hotel was sold in the early 1980s and renamed The New York Statler. After it was bought by Penta they called it the New York Penta. When Penta went out of business in 1992, the hotel reverted to its original name, the Hotel Pennsylvania.

(7) There’s a comprehensive report about “How Disney Bought Lucasfilm – and Its Plans for ‘Star Wars’” in Bloomberg Businessweek. Here’s an anecdote I hadn’t read before:

Iger accelerated that process by making acquisitions. The first was the $7.4 billion purchase of Pixar Animation Studios in 2006. Iger personally negotiated the deal with Steve Jobs, who was then Pixar’s CEO. As part of the deal, Iger kept the creative team, led by John Lasseter, in place and allowed them to continue to operate with a minimum of interference in their headquarters near San Francisco. “Steve and I spent more time negotiating the social issues than we did the economic issues,” Iger says. “He thought maintaining the culture of Pixar was a major ingredient of their creative success. He was right.”

The transaction gave Disney a new source of hit movies. Jobs also became a Disney board member and its largest shareholder. Periodically he would call Iger to say, “Hey, Bob, I saw the movie you just released last night, and it sucked,” Iger recalls.

[Thanks for these links go out to John King Tarpinian, Sam Long, Gary Farber, Stu Hellinger and Andrew Porter.]

8 thoughts on “Snapshots 105 Thunderchief

  1. The backstory for the Warner Brothers cartoon characters (Wakko, Yakko and Dot, by the way) is narrated at the beginning of every show, so the excerpt gives little away. The only additional information give is that they were stooges for straightman called Buddy. The situation is highly reminiscent of the Three Stooges (Moe, Larry and Shemp) who were the comic part of Ted Healy’s stage act. Ted is obviously Buddy and the Stooges are the Warner Brothers … if you can wrap your head around Larry being female. I’m not surprised there is a book about the Warner Brothers cartoons — they were popular at the time, and arguably one of the last WB cartoon shows worth wasting bandwidth on. After that there were mostly failures like “Histerical,” “Loonatics Unleashed” and “Freakazoid.” Arguably, “Taz-Mania” and the “Duck Dodgers” show weren’t so bad, but the mainstay of Warners in animation since “The Warner Brothers” has been its DC superhero shows — “Batman,” “Batman Beyond,” and “Teen Titans” being the most notably successes from the perspective of viewing pleasure. As for whether there can be knowing too much about a dumbass cartoon show — naturally! One can even know too much about Harlan Ellison, who is only half a cartoon character!

  2. There are four ANIMANIACS dvds, once recently released. And FREAKZOID! has a good number of fnas, most that would say that it over reached its audience, and nver found it on Saturday Morning TV. And Buddy was a vanilla version of Bosko, which moved over to MGM when its creators departed Warner Brothers.

    Statler Hilton gone? First convention, first x rated personal happenings…*sigh*. But Manhatten priced itself out from being able to hold SF conventions. There was always an element of thrift in fans.

  3. I hope that the renovations (including restoring the original lobby) make the property a high-quality working hotel again. The hotel has significant cultural importance, with Glenn Miller and “PEnnsylvania 6-5000” (the only letter exchange anybody outside of Stan Freberg fans remembers anymore).

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