Snapshots 91 Degrees in the Shade

Here are 11 developments of interest to fans:

(1) Connor Freff Cochran interviewed Douglas Adams in 1985 for a BBC-2 show called Micro-Live [YouTube]. Adams was there promoting Infocom’s game of Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. The segment starts at 40:50.

Freff begins by complaining to Adams how many times he got killed in the first 20 minutes playing the game. Then Adams demonstrates the game on-camera. Since the game was entirely text-based, the demonstration consists of Adams typing white text on a black screen. Oooohhh! Aaaah!

(2) Argo opens October 12, a dramatization of how six diplomats were rescued during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis under cover of a fake movie production using Barry Ira Geller’s script for Lord of Light. And as Gary Farber noted the other day, Geller is still upset that he’s not getting the recognition he feels is his due:

About two weeks ago this website, which has been cleanly and quietly up for nearly 15 years, was suddenly hacked and closed down for a few days by hackers originating from Russia, as far as I could trace them. Clearly, however, the site was specifically targeted either by old-school friends of CIA Mendez, or by the Argo publicists, because it tells the truth that the Argo film is a major deception and shows the rare Tony Mendez TV clip — with the Clooney/Affleck film release only six weeks away. I revised the Wikipedia article on Argo to reflect Mendez’s admissions as a result — only to discover that my minor revisions and links to this page were taken down by Argo publicists two days ago! Incredible – this is actually happening Right Now!!! The public Wiki-Revision summary stated my mention of the truth was “not relevant” to the premise of their “true” story! It all makes sense in Hollywood, folks! Ya gotta love it 🙂

(3) Credit is often elusive in Hollywood. However, on the 25th anniversary of ST:TNG the writers for Time.com have guaranteed the show will get its share:

But modern-day pop culture owes more to Star Trek: The Next Generation than just making the world a safer place for NCIS: Los Angeles. TNG was a massively successful show; when the show finished in 1994, it had become the highest-rated drama in syndicated television, boasting 15 to 20 million viewers a week. This was far beyond anything managed by the original Star Trek — a show that had, after all, been canceled twice in its three-year run. This kind of success took the show far beyond any expectation of “cult” and transcended what was expected of genre television in general. Star Trek: The Next Generation, somehow, made nerd culture mainstream for the first time.

(4) Also in a generous mood is Jason Fetters at Crazed Fanboy who paid tribute to pioneer anime fan Fred Patten:

There are millions of anime fans all over the world thanks to the Internet, Blu-rays, DVDs, and manga sold at any given Barnes and Nobles, but I have often wondered what anime fandom was like decades ago and about the people responsible for spreading fandom. This thinking, combined with a love of reading, brought to my attention, Fred Patten.

(5) When it comes to pioneering, anime reviewers have more fun than cosmonauts. In fact, a cosmonaut who recently returned to Earth complained about life at the International Space Station:

At the traditional Russian post-landing press conference on Sept. 21, cosmonaut Gennady Padalka complained about the “spartan” conditions aboard the Russian side of the station, especially as compared with the American side. The conditions were cold, noisy, overstuffed with equipment, and cramped — each Russian had about one-seventh the living space that the American astronauts had. “All of this gives serious inconvenience in the operation of the Russian segment,” he said.

Padalka compared the living conditions to the mass housing thrown together in the 1960s by Nikita Khrushchev — housing where many Russian city dwellers still reside. The apartment building is called a “khrushchevka,” a bitter word play on both the late Soviet leader’s name and on its root meaning, “beetle” (as in “bug house”). As the cosmonaut explained to reporters, he had spent his last three missions totaling about two years in duration aboard a “small-scale khrushchevka.”

(6) Some fans go by handles – assumed names – and Roger Ebert’s review of Pitch Perfect is making me rethink what I believe about their reason for doing it:

Another new recruit is Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson), who explains she calls herself that because she knows that’s what people call her behind her back. Rebel (her real name) plays a character so ebullient, unstoppable and raucous that she steals every scene she’s in and passes the Character Name Test. This refers to our ability to remember the names of a movie character for more than 10 minutes after the movie has ended. Fat Amy, I will remember.

When fans choose to go by handles are they preserving their anonymity, or craving to be remembered?

(7) Chuck Crayne wrote in the L.A.Con (1972) Program Book:

We have tried to plan so that, if you wish, you can have a ‘con within a con’, meeting your old friends and reliving olden times. …But please remember that if you do not let a few new faces into the establishment of Science Fiction Fandom, pretty soon they will be where the fandom of science fiction is at, and ‘Fandom’ will become extinct.

Of course, Chuck wanted people to heed his warning, not fulfill his prediction. 

(8) Yes, item 7 was a metaphorical comment on newcomers’ struggles to get into the Worldcon’s, or Core Fandom’s, or Trufandom’s established communities. If they give up, where do they go? Maybe to Toronto’s Fan Expo 2012 — but there, fans had a literal problem getting in

Sometimes even superheroes must wait in line.

That’s what Craig Williams discovered when he brought his son Ryder, dressed as the man of steel, to Fan Expo on Saturday.

“I had a 4-year-old Superman with me, crying about not getting in,” he said. “The line didn’t move at all.”

Like thousands of other fans, the father and son waited fruitlessly in a lineup at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre for tickets to the annual pop culture convention. Fan Expo has faced organizational glitches before, and this weekend’s long waits and crowds left some with a sense of déjà vu.

Elisa Ward, a “seasoned convention veteran,” said she waited for four hours Saturday before she learned at 3 p.m. that tickets had sold out — two hours earlier.

“The moment I saw a herd of people turning around, I felt horrible,” she said. “There was a kid in agony behind me that he couldn’t meet Stan Lee.”

Event security leader Shawn Parsons said it took time to inform everyone in line. “I wouldn’t just go to the front of a line of 4,000 people, and stand there and scream, ‘Sorry guys, we’re full!’ ” he said.

(9) The video of the Worldcon Chairs Photo Shoot for 2012 [YouTube], says Kevin Standlee, contains “at least those Worldcon chairs who were able to attend or stuck around for the video instead of stalking off in a huff when the batteries failed on the recorder just after the first attempt started.”

Remember Luke’s cousin, Mike Huffstalker? But no, that’s not the reason I wasn’t there. I left to appear on the “In Memoriam” panel. I might have ditched another program assignment for the pleasure of being included in the photo shoot, but not that one.  

(10) Hard to believe the following item has nothing whatsoever to do with fandom. Bookstore employees using fake names posted malcious reviews of the novel by a self-published author after he tastelessly left cards in their store advertising his book for sale on Amazon.

A spokesman for Waterstones said that the leaflets Eckhoff distributed in the Bluewater branch were encouraging customers to order his book from “a major competitor” – Amazon. “If the leaflets had just been about his book, then obviously they would still have been looked for and removed (not a great use of staff’s time…) and we’d put it down to an over-enthusiastic new author. But including the encouragement to use a major competitor is just rude and surely obviously inappropriate, which is what prompted a polite email to the author asking him not to use our shops in such a way,” said the spokesman.

“Unfortunately, it subsequently emerged that staff at the shop had taken matters into their own hands and indulged in some completely inappropriate behaviour, as pointed out to us by the author. We took action to identify those involved and have the offending material removed, and dealt with the situation accordingly, and of course we are sorry that members of our staff acted in such a fashion.”

(10) Impro Theatre’s Twilight Zone Unscripted makes up episodes on the spot:

From the darkest corners of reality to the land of the unexplained, Impro Theatre’s Twilight Zone Unscripted pays homage to Rod Serling’s sci-fi series “The Twilight Zone.” Enter the dimension of pure imagination as completely improvised episodes are created with every performance.

(11) I know there is enough overlap between sf fans and baseball fans to make it worth posting a link to Colin Wyers’ article in The Baseball Prospectus about new awards Major League Baseball ought to create. For example:

9. Ryan Theriot Award for TOOTBLAN
It started out as an in-joke among Cubs fans, premised on the fact that watching Ryan Theriot run the bases is about as pleasant as walking in on your parents while they’re engaging in carnal activities. So Cubs blog Wrigleyville 23 came up with a way to measure this: times Thrown Out On The Bases Like A Nincompoop—TOOTBLAN, for short. Shorter, at least. It’s a measure of all the wonderful baserunning outs you can scrounge up while not actually being caught stealing. Theriot has taken himself out of the running by not actually being on base enough to get thrown out while on them. But Edwin Encarnacion shows up with 10 glorious, infuriating TOOTBLANs after a search of the play-by-play records for the year, making him the winner of the Ryan Theriot Award.

[Thanks for these links goes out to Gary Farber and John King Tarpinian and me.]