2020 Filk Hall of Fame Inductees

The Filk Hall of Fame honors those who have contributed to filk over the years as performers, organizers, and facilitators. New inductees are announced annually during FilKONtario. Even though the 2020 convention had to be cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak, the 2020 Hall of Fame inductees have been named:

  • Juliana McCorison

has been attending Science Fiction conventions since 1981, sometimes under the name of EJ or Eliza J. She’s been involved with filk at such cons as VCon, Dream con, Rusty con, Orycon, and Norwescon, both in the filk room and panels. In 2000, Juliana opened her home in Victoria, and invited filkers from all over to come to a weekend long house filk. This was the inception of a 10 year tradition that became known as Pondfilk – the Pacific Northwest’s first filk convention. Juliana, and her husband Douglas, hosted the event in their own home, creating an intimate, magical gathering. She’s hosted many other house filks there as well. Juliana and Douglas also gave the seed money for the first year of Conflikt, the first Washington State filk convention.

Juliana encourages filkers with her generosity and hospitality, and has given musical instruments (including a Banjimer) to beginning filkers, But this is only a small part of the encouragement she’s given to others in creating music. She gently encourages many filkers, who have since become performers in their own right, does backup for others’ performances, and knows what people need and, more importantly, where it can be found.
Juliana is a fine performer: She has recorded a fine CD, “Not Just Lullabies From Planet Earth” with an assortment of musicians she has gathered around her. Her band, We’re Not Koi, has been delighting audiences across the continent in the past few years. She has covered songs and other instrumentals from other filkers, and has also served as a recording engineer, for her own album and other projects.
Juliana has also been the Pacific Northwest Representative to Interfilk, and runs the Interfilk auction at Conflikt each year.
For these contributions to filk music and the filk community, Juliana McCorison is inducted into the Filk Hall of Fame this twenty-sixth day of April, two thousand twenty.

  • Rob Wynne

has been an enthusiastic and multifaceted pillar of the filk community since 1987.

He is a prolific and talented songwriter and performer, with a particular penchant for mischievous parody.  He writes songs in, about, and for the filk community, and maintains an archive of them on his website, www.autographedcat.com.

Rob also writes filk album and filk interest reviews articles for Aphelion, an SF webzine, and works as their WebMaven/Features Editor.

He and his partner, Larissa, are the heart and soul of GAFilk. He has been on the GAFilk Concom from 2000 to 2008 as Programming Director, and Conchair from ’09-present despite living in Seattle. Rob also has runs the convention’s very entertaining game show, “My Filk”, based on trivia from the filk community, which also preserves our shared history. More recently he has joined the Board of Directors of Interfilk.

Rob is a co-founder of Filknet which includes support for a private IRC network hosting #FilkHaven and filk-related mailing lists. #Filkhaven became a virtual meeting place for filkers worldwide. Rob is also the administrator of the chat server in that network. It was, for a long time, an online meeting point for the filk community which provided an opportunity for filkers from around the world to meet and interact. Rob’s vigilant but relaxed style of moderation made it a safe and enjoyable space where many friendships were born and flourished. In 2017, Rob and Mike revived #filkhaven on Discord, and are pleased to say that it is once again a very active online gathering spot for the filk community
In 2016, Rob started moderating a Facebook group for filkers, also based on the principles of kindness and courtesy that Rob embodies.

Whenever he’s at a convention, Rob takes pictures of all the events he’s at. He posts those, a con report, and collection of others’ con reports to a community archives, sharing the biggest communal picture he can. It may seem like a small thing, but it speaks volumes about his viewpoint and attitudes towards filk and other filkers.

He has been hosted regular house filks, since 1998; even spontaneously hold them for when filkers are visiting in town. Rob is a welcoming smiling presence at many cons. He is truly a gentle but powerful force for good within the filk community

For these reasons, Rob Wynne is inducted into the Filk Hall of Fame, this twenty-sixth day of April, two thousand twenty.

  • Blind Lemming Chiffon

The filker who currently styles himself “Blind Lemming Chiffon” has been writing and making music for, and sharing music with, the filk community for decades under a variety of names.

Apparently his first experience of convention filking was at PenultiCon 2 in May of 1979. It was soon followed by his first Worldcon (at Brighton in 1979), according to his song “Ballad of SeaCon,”.

His wealth of creative songs has been covered by many other well-known filkers including Kathy Mar. He has self-produced several CDs of his songs, and many of his songs have been published in Xenofilkia. Much of his work is parody and lighthearted, however “That Old Filk of Mine,” one of his best, is a bittersweet retrospective piece. While he often wants to be overlooked, is very unassuming, and would like people to think he cannot sing well, his performance always brings a smile, or a tear, to those listening.

He has been hosting house filks in the Denver area since the 1980’s and helped run the Denver Worldcon in 2008. He continues to be a loud and frequent voice for filk, and occasionally when a filker or folk performer comes to the Denver area Lem welcomes them with a House Concert for their benefit.

He has made a point of attending SF conventions all over the world, including many Filk Cons, World Cons, NASFics, and others. He was the Interfilk Guest at FilKONtario in 2004 and has managed to attend our convention every year since then.

He also owns an extremely large collection of filk, all of which was paid for to support the artist.

Lemming plays a multitude of musical instruments and is at master of most of them. These include mandolins and banjos in various sizes, a cittern, 6- and 12-string guitars, and three or four variations on the ukulele theme. He promotes the ukulele to be as serious an instrument as a guitar.

Lem’s style of delivery might tempt one to take his original songs and lyric alterations lightly, but one shouldn’t be fooled; his lyrics are usually both well-crafted and thoughtful.

For these contributions to filk music and the filk community, Blind Lemming Chiffon is inducted into the Filk Hall of Fame this twenty-sixth day of April, two thousand twenty.

The Filk Hall of Fame jury, representing all the filk cons in US, Canada, UK and Germany, selects the inductees, based on fan nominations. The 2020 jury was: C. J. Ueberal (Intermezzo, Germany); Mark Peters (OVFF, Columbus area); Sunnie Larson (OVFF, Columbus area); Rob Wynne (GAFilk, Atlanta area); Janet Maughan (DemiSemiQuaver, Britain); Chris O’Halloran (Consonance, San Jose area); Steve Macdonald (DFDF, Germany); and Judith Hayman (FilKONtario, Toronto area).

Here are the citations telling why these three filksingers were chosen for the Hall of Fame.

CATCHING UP WITH THE FILK HALL OF FAME. File 770 last covered the new Hall of Fame members in 2017, so let’s take this opportunity to catch up on the classes that were missed.

2018

has been a filker for the larger part of her life. In 1994, at the age of fifteen, she performed a cute filk at a German Star Trek convention, as an entry in a filk song contest. Three years later, she showed up at the first FilkCONtinental. She was hooked, and became a constant presence and mainstay in German filk fandom, and overseas fandom, ever since.

Organizing is her thing, and she is very good at it, so it came as no surprise that she volunteered very early for jobs that needed doing behind the scenes at FilkCONtinental. Later, when it became apparent that Germany was ready for a second filk convention, and another small relax con had ceased to happen, she started one together with Steve Macdonald. Das Frühlingsfest der Filksmusik (DFDF, the Spring Festival of Filk Music) has now been running since 2009. Among other things she handles all the questions concerning the DFDF hotel, and is responsible for a good working relationship there that is constantly improving. She also hosts the con website, and deals with issues such as registration, finances and virtually everything else except programming

For FilkCONtinental, If anything needs to be done at short notice, she is there to lend a hand. If a member of the ConCom cannot get there, she will take turns at shuttle service and behind the scenes organisation.

She is a translator, having assisted FilkCONtinental in translating from German to English for several years, and currently handling those for DFDF. She has also assisted in the translation of Filk Hall of Fame pages into German, to help spread the word among the non-English speakers. She is an entertainer, and an improv comedian (for which she also offers workshops – even at little or no notice), a poet, and a promoter of new ideas. She has taken part in hosting some small, house filk events. Most of all she cares deeply about the filk community and its continuous development. You can always count on her.
Whether locally or internationally, she is always interested in and up for shenanigans, bringing a lot of fun to all she does. Sib may come across as calm and serene at first, but she has a wicked sense of humour and her silliness is contagious. She is a unique writer, with a witty and hilarious approach. She makes songs out of subtitles, episode titles from TV shows or of linguistic topics, frequently taking a sideways approach to a topic. Shall we just say “Evil Eyeball”?

Sib has been Interfilk guest at OVFF in 2008 and a guest at Harmuni in 2010. She has been nominated for a Pegasus Award, twice. She does not seek the limelight,

For these contributions to filk music and the filk community, Sibylle Machat is inducted in to the Filk Hall of Fame this twenty-first day of April, two thousand eighteen.

Entered fandom in 1978, at the Phoenix Worldcon, enticed by college friend, Bob Laurent and found filk at the same time, because of luminaries like Bob Asprin and Gordy Dickson. There followed many conventions, including the infamous “Juanita Coulson versus the riverboat whistle” convention where he acquired his first small pamphlet of filksongs.

In the wake of the 1980 Westercon in Los Angeles, Paul Willett, Gary Anderson and Ev Turner stared LAFA – Los Angeles Filkers Anonymous – to host filksings in homes in the greater LA area and fill the void that, then, existed. Paul was the one out front, in public, who composed the monthly Flyer for the next filksing, and collected names, addresses, and money for postage, to start a regular mailing list. In August, 1981, the single-sheet flyer became a four page ‘zine, with news, gossip, and the occasional filksong, often written by Paul. It got a name: The Philk-Fee-Nom-Ee-Non (aka PFNEN for short). Issue #14 was the breakthrough – expanded to sixteen pages, eight of them filksongs. Paul kept this going monthly up to Issue #47 in October 1985. It quickly became what was one of the biggest filk zines of its time. It was influential in popularizing filk on the West Coast, and it is the only filk zine to be nominated for a Hugo (1984) . This lead to introducing SoCal filkers to a number of major filk performers they would never have seen without traveling themselves.

Paul was also a ringleader in the cabal which started, in1983, Con-Chord, the of Southern California filk convention, along with Gary Anderson, Eric Gerds and Chris Weber. Alternating with Bayfilk for the first few years, Paul, Gary, Eric and Chris built up Con-Chord to 2015. He served as Conchair twice and as Toastmaster in 2004.

All of the institutions Paul established continued, long after the originators have moved on to other endeavours. LAFA still meets every month, except when ConChord, or a Westercon or Worldcon are in LA. Con-Chord, which was first held in 1983 continued every year until 2015

Paul also is a filk songwriter of a number of songs most notably, “Ronald Regan Carl Sagan San Diegan Pagan” and “Cold Equations”, both published on Off Centaur tapes. The former was a cult hit at conventions through the early ’80’s with attendees wearing pins depicting the individuals named in this filk song. It is still popularly sung at LAFA filksings, it is also known and sung by filkers in both Australia and New Zealand (as discovered by a fan during visits to disCONtinuity in Auckland, 1994). Filk songs which stand the test of time are testaments to their writers and a tribute to filkdom.

During the 1980’s, Bob Laurent would send Paul off for weekends to various cons, to do another job, as the recording guy for Bob’s “Wail Songs”. He got his son Steve to flip tapes at a few ConChords and Consonances when he needed a break.

For these contributions to filk music and the filk community Paul Willett is inducted into the Filk Hall of Fame this twenty-first day of April, two thousand eighteen.

2019

attended his first open filk at Marcon in 1989; that weekend he wrote his first filk song. He is a performer who has a growing repertoire of both original songs and parodies. He has produced a boundless output of songs, ranging in tone from the hysterical (“Naked Mole Rat”), to the perennially crowd-pleasing (“Perky Goth”), to the haunting (“Elizabeth Dane”) to the touching (“My GAFilk Song”). They are warm and humane and full of clever wordplay, perfectly matched to his delivery and demeanor. They have won awards and made us laugh and cry. Three of his songs have been honoured with Pegasus nominations; four have been included on the Pittsburgh Songwriters Circle recordings. In concerts and filk circles he not only performs his own songs, he also covers songs by less well-known filkers, to promote the work of others who can’t make it to the con. The fact that he has done all this without playing any instrument other than his own voice is encouraging to all those in filk who are not gifted with instrumental ability, proving by example that it can be done.

Randy, along with his late musical partner Kira Heston, was sent as Interfilk guest to Consonance in 2012.

He has been a tireless ambassador for filk, and been pivotal in bringing many a newcomer into the fold, including many people from outside of filk who have stayed to enrich our community.

He has also been the prime mover behind making his home convention, Confluence, a hotbed of filk, like a filk convention combined with a regular convention. In addition to the usual concerts and panels, he has written and organized multiple filk musicals performed at Confluence.

People are regularly delighted they find themselves in a circle with Randy, and look forward to hearing him sing. It’s a lovely and fitting bonus that he’s one of the nicest people around.

For these contributions to filk music and the filk community, W. Randy Hoffman is inducted into the Filk Hall of Fame this 13th day of April two thousand nineteen.

has been the closest we have ever had to an official filk archivist. Over the years, he amassed and catalogued an incredible collection of filk convention material, recording many performances, from concerts to filk circles. He also ensured that performers had an opportunity to obtain copies of their performances.

In his archivist role, Harold worked to identify and preserve as many recordings of filk music as he possibly could, and put together a huge collection of tapes made at conventions and housefilks, as well as filk from other sources. This was all backed up digitally off site to prevent loss. He was also wise enough to assign people to carry on his work of preserving this collection. Because of this work, people in the distant future will have the opportunity to listen to our music. In his recording, Harold was very respectful of people’s wishes and intellectual property rights. As noted on his website (FloatingFilk.com) “Do Not Record requests are always honoured“. He was courteous to a fault.

He also made a CD-R of the concert recordings for Interfilk donation.  Over the years, he donated over a dozen such recordings to Interfilk.

He has also contributed to MASSFILC’s songbook index by making books available for indexing. He digitized filk zines, and, with the zeal of a completionist, attempted to collect them all. He made rare back issues available to Interfilk, along with copies of the digitized files.

Harold assisted in running sound at too many cons to mention, and ran filk programming at I-Con 2008 and I-Con 2009, and was Techno-Guest at ConCertino 2009.

Harold was a volunteer’s volunteer, from as early as the mid-1990s. At every filk convention he attended, he volunteered for the sound crew. He could often be seen during set-up and tear down, often under the stage, or climbing on chairs to get the equipment carefully and efficiently up or down.

For these contributions to filk music and the filk community, Harold Stein is inducted into the Filk Hall of Fame this 13th day of April two thousand nineteen.

[Update 05/02/2020: The 2020 citations were posted shortly after this post went live. Thanks to Allan Pollard for the update.]

Pixel Scroll 3/16/20 The Pixels Are Best, I Wouldn’t Scroll Tuppence For All Of The Rest

Everyone would be happy for a diversion from coronavirus stories, I’m sure — I’ll try and strike a better balance tomorrow.

(1) INTERRUPTING THE FLOW. John Scalzi shared some “Important News About The Last Emperox Tour” – it’s not happening.

So, let’s get right to it, folks: The book tour for The Last Emperox has to be cancelled.

Why? Well, I’m pretty sure you know why:

1. There’s a global pandemic going on as we speak.

2. Gathering in groups is not a great idea.

3. In a lot of the places where my tour stops are, gathering in large groups is currently not allowed….

(2) NO FILKONTARIO. Sally Headford, chair of FilKONtario 30, sent this message to members cancelling the con, which was to have taken place in Markham, Ontario (Canada), from April 26-29: “An Important Message From the FilKONtario ConCom”.

We know that it will come as no surprise to any of you to hear that we have decided that we have to cancel this year’s FKO.

While we may have been able to wait a while longer and see how things develop, we felt that it was our responsibility to make a decision and inform everyone sooner, rather than later, in the hopes that people are able to change their plans

We love our community, and deeply regret cancelling. However, we don’t feel that getting together at the height of a global pandemic, to sing in a closed environment, is in the best interests of that community. I’ll say no more on that point, as I am sure you are all as aware of the factors involved as we are……..

(3) MARCON. Likewise, Marcon 55, scheduled for May 8-10 in Columbus, OH “is cancelled due to government regulations about health concerns.”  Chair Kim Williams announced:

It’s official: This morning I received the email from the hotel honoring the Force Majeure clause in our contract.

To our members: your continued support is incredible. Without your attendance, this event could not have happened for the past 54 years….

(4) UNDERSTANDING CORONAVIRUS. SF2 Concatenation has advance postedJonathan Cowie’s “SARS-CoV-2, COVD-19 and the SF community. A briefing”, part of its April 20 issue. It is an overview of the science behind the virus and related disease.

…The current SARS-CoV-2 outbreak is now affecting the national and international science fiction community.  Already some SF fans living in northern Italy have experienced a few weeks of self-isolation with all but necessary travel banned by law under penalty of a three month jail sentence.  Descriptions of life from these have included as if being in an SF film.  Meanwhile, as the virus spreads, and cases of the resulting disease (COVID-19) mount, questions are being asked as to the viability of some forthcoming SF events: some at the time of writing (March 2020) have already been cancelled.  It therefore may be useful to have a basic, preliminary briefing on the science and likely fan impacts that goes a little beyond the arguably cautious, limited statements some authorities have made.  This is an on-going situation, so irrespective of the below, it is always best to seek guidance from regional health authorities and international bodies as well as, of course, your own clinician….

His qualifications for writing the post are —

Jonathan Cowie is an environmental scientist who has had a career in science communication, including science publishing and policy, working primarily for UK learned biological societies.  Then in the early 2000s he turned to focus on climate change concerns: principally the Earth system, biological and human ecological impacts.  Among other things, including writing climate change university textbooks, and his 2009 online essay, ‘Can we beat the climate crunch‘ has been somewhat prescient as demonstrated from subsequent work by others.  Since the mid-2010s he has shifted his attention to the Earth system and the co-evolution of life and planet.  Of passing relevance to this briefing, in his mid-1970s, pre-college gap period he spent 18 months working at NIRD as a junior technician.  The former National Institute for Research into Dairying was not hidden in a remote area in Nevada, concealed in the sub-basements of a legitimate Department of Agriculture research station, but was a genuine MAFF Research Institute attached to the University of Reading.  His work there included that in its SPF and Germ Free Units. One of the outputs of this was providing Specific Pathogen Free eggs for children in isolation undergoing bone marrow transplantation.  He has therefore kind of done the Andromeda Strain thing.

(5) HOME MOVIES. Via Slashdot, “Universal Makes Movies Now Playing in Theaters Available Online”.

Universal said that by Friday recently released films like “The Invisible Man,” “The Hunt” and “Emma” will be available for digital rental for $19.99 in the U.S., or the equivalent value in overseas markets. Paying the rental fee will allow customers 48 hours to watch the movie. In an even bolder move, Universal also said “Trolls World Tour” will open simultaneously in theaters and at home on April 10. Universal released “The Hunt” in theaters over the weekend while “The Invisible Man” and “Emma” both came out late last month. Costing just $7 million to make, “The Invisible Man” has already had a successful run in theaters, grossing $122.4 million globally in three weekends.

(6) POSTER CHILDREN. PropStore displays lots of great art in “Featured Lots | Cinema Poster Live Auction March 2020”.

This year’s Cinema Poster Live Auction has over 300 posters, including an amazing selection of posters and original artwork from the collections of well-known comic-art artist Jock, Academy Award®-winning special effects cinematographer, Richard Edlund, former Lucasfilm Executive and Assistant Director Howard Kazanjian, and so much more!

So, sit back, relax, and get up-close and personal with some of our featured lots from the auction…

Here’s one example:

US One-Sheet Poster, INVASION OF THE SAUCER-MEN (1957)

“See Earth attacked by flying saucers! See teenagers vs. the saucer men!”. Examples of classic 1950’s B-movie science fiction don’t come better than this superb 1957 country of origin US One-Sheet for Samuel Z. Arkoff’s 1957 production “Invasion of the Saucer Men”. Truly outstanding Albert Kallis artwork that features the alien “cabbage head” invaders from space. Originally folded, this is now presented linen-backed with light restoration and it looks ‘out of this world’. Any paper ephemera from this movie is scarce and far more difficult to obtain than other examples from the more famous 1950s horror/sci-fi titles as it played in far fewer theaters than Forbidden Planet, The Day the Earth Stood Still, or other more mainstream science fiction titles.

Artist: Albert Kallis

Estimate: £3,000 – 5,000

(7) THE STORY OF THE FUTURE. In “The Big Idea: Ann VanderMeer” at Whatever, she explains “The goal: To use storytelling to intrigue and inspire the public about our possible futures, brought about by the work XPRIZE is doing today.”

…We face many challenges in the modern world, what with climate change, health issues, global conflicts, access to education, and poverty. At XPRIZE, people are working together to find solutions for the future. And the stories being expressed with the XPRIZE anthologies give rise to the imagination. Indeed, storytelling is often used for applied creativity in problem solving.

The relationship between science fiction stories and actual science has always been there. Many scientists who became involved in the Space Program at NASA were early readers of science fiction and were inspired to make a career of science. It’s not just that certain technologies and ideas that originated from science fiction stories become real in our modern day, but also that some SF readers go on to pursue careers in the sciences and make an impact in the world.

I was first approached last year to edit the Current Futures anthology to promote World Oceans Day. I had the opportunity to bring in new voices and work with other writers that I knew and admired. It was a dream project and I was thrilled to see writers like Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, Deborah Biancotti and Karen Lord get excited about stories and work with them again. I was also thrilled to work with other writers for the first time, including Malka Older, Madeline Ashby and Gu Shi….

(8) TOOTHSOME FICTION. Vanity Fair interviews the author of Sharks in the Time of Saviors: “How Kawai Strong Washburn Opened Up the Legends of Hawaii for Mainlanders”.

Were you very conscious of balancing those spiritual or fantastical elements with realistic fiction?

I love “genre” fiction like speculative and fantasy fiction. Those are fun books to read, but a lot of times a deeper exploration of the human condition is lacking. So while I really enjoy the freedom of genre fiction—you can push the boundaries of a story in interesting ways—I wanted to make it feel like something that was still believable. I was very concerned about integrating these myths and legends in a way that felt experienced by the characters. I didn’t want to reinforce stereotypes about how Hawaii is some sort of exotic land. I tried to make the “magical” elements feel more realistic so that readers wonder if things are really happening or characters are just imagining them.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • March 16, 1961 The Absent-minded Professor premiered. Yes, it’s genre at least as Disney defined it. It was based on the short story “A Situation of Gravity” by Samuel W. Taylor which was originally published in the May 22, 1943 issue of Liberty magazine, a magazine of religious freedom. It was directed by Robert Stevenson, and starred Fred MacMurray as Professor Ned Brainard. It holds a good 63% audience rating at Rotten Tomatoes.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 16, 1883 Sonia Greene. Pulp writer and amateur press publisher who underwrote several fanzines in the early twentieth century. Wiki says she was a president of the United Amateur Press Association but I can’t confirm that elsewhere. And she was married to Lovecraft for two years. (Died 1972.)
  • Born March 16, 1900 Cyril Hume. He was an amazingly prolific screenplay writer with twenty-nine credits from 1924 to 1966 including The Wife of the Centaur (a lost film which has but has but a few scraps left), Tarzan Escapes, Tarzan the Ape Man, The Invisible Boy and Forbidden Planet. (Died 1966.)
  • Born March 16, 1920 Leo McKern. He shows up in a recurring role as Number Two on The Prisoner in  “The Chimes of Big Ben”, “Once Upon a Time” and “Fall Out”. Other genre appearances include Police Inspector McGill in X the Unknown, Bill Macguire in The Day the Earth Caught Fire, Professor Moriarty in The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother, The Voice of Gwent in “The Infernal Machine” episode of Space: 1999. (Died 2002.)
  • Born March 16, 1929 Ehren M. Ehly. This was the alias of Egyptian-American author Moreen Le Fleming Ehly. Her first novel, Obelisk, followed shortly by Totem. Her primary influence was H. Rider Haggard of which she said in interviews that was impressed by Haggard’s novel She at an early age. If you like horror written in a decided pulp style, I think you’ll appreciate her. (Died 2012)
  • Born March 16, 1929 A. K. Ramanujan. I’m going to recommend his Folktales from India, Oral Tales from Twenty Indian Languages as essential reading if you’re interested in the rich tradition of the Indian subcontinent. Two of his stories show up in genre anthologies, “The Magician and His Disciple“ in Jack Zipes’ The Sorcerer’s Apprentice: An Anthology of Magical Tales and “Sukhu and Dukhu“ in Heidi Stemple and Jane Yolen’s Mirror, Mirror. (Died 1993.)
  • Born March 16, 1961 Todd McFarlane, 59. Best-known for his work on The Amazing Spider-Man and Spawn.
  • Born March 16, 1971 Alan Tudyk, 49. Hoban “Wash” Washburne in the Firefly universe whose death I’m still pissed about. Wat in A Knight’s Tale. (Chortle. Is it genre? Who cares, it’s a great film.)  He’s K-2SO in Rogue One and yes, he does both the voice and motion capture. Impressive. He also had a recurring role on Dollhose as Alpha, he voiced a number of characters in the Young Justice series streaming on DC Universe, and he was a very irritating Mr. Nobody on the Doom Patrol series.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) WELL, THERE YOU HAVE IT. The highly scientific BBC Radio 4 “Out of the Ordinary” series has determined “Aliens are the size of polar bears (probably)”.

There are millions of planets out there that could contain intelligent life. We can’t look at them all, so which should we focus on? Using nothing but statistics, astronomer Fergus Simpson predicts the aliens will be living on small, dim planets, they’ll have small populations, big bodies, and will be technologically backward.

This goes against many astronomers’ working assumption that the earth is typical of inhabited planets – and that our sun is an ordinary star in an ordinary galaxy. Fergus argues that this is an example of the “fallacy of mediocrity” which we fall for time and time again, whether it’s in our assumptions about gym membership, taxi drivers, or train overcrowding.

(13) WAITING FOR… BBC reports — “Coronavirus: Daniel Radcliffe play off as entertainment activity winds down”.

Daniel Radcliffe’s new play Endgame has become the first major London production to be cancelled in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Samuel Beckett play started at the Old Vic theatre in January and had been due to run until 28 March.

The venue said it was scrapping the final two weeks “with great sadness”.

It comes as a long list of other plays, TV shows, gigs and movies have postponed performances and film shoots as the virus continues to spread.

Citing travel and other restrictions, the Old Vic said it was “becoming increasingly impractical to sustain business as usual at our theatre”.

The show also starred Alan Cumming, Jane Horrocks and Karl Johnson.

The theatre said: “We are very sympathetic to people’s personal circumstances, as we are to the audiences who are still excited to visit the theatre and see our productions. We are also extremely aware of our employees’ financial dependence on work being presented and tickets being purchased.”

The theatre warned that giving full refunds for all lost performances would be “financially devastating for us”, so asked ticket-holders to consider the ticket price as a donation.

In return, those who do not ask for their money back will receive a filmed recording of the play from earlier in the run and a private video message of appreciation from the cast.

Meanwhile, the Young Vic theatre has cancelled all remaining performances of Nora: A Doll’s House.

(14) NEW TECH TO THE RESCUE. “Coronavirus: 3D printers save hospital with valves”.

A 3D-printer company in Italy has designed and printed 100 life-saving respirator valves in 24 hours for a hospital that had run out of them.

The valve connects patients in intensive care to breathing machines.

The hospital, in Brescia, had 250 coronavirus patients in intensive care and the valves are designed to be used for a maximum of eight hours at a time.

The 3D-printed version cost less than €1 (90p) each to produce and the prototype took three hours to design.

(15) SEATS WITHOUT BUTTS. The New York Times says these are the times that try a theater owner’s soul — “Movie Crowds Stay Away. Theaters Hope It’s Not for Good.”

For most of last week, movie theater executives clung grimly on.

At issue, among other things, was CinemaCon, an annual Las Vegas event intended to bolster the most fragile part of the film business: leaving the house, buying a ticket and sitting in the dark with strangers to watch stories unfold on big screens. The National Association of Theater Owners was under pressure to call off the convention because of the coronavirus pandemic, but worries abounded about potential consumer fallout.

What message would canceling the confab send to potential ticket buyers, including those increasingly likely to skip cinemas — even in the best of times — and watch films on streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney Plus? American cinemas, after all, were staying open in the face of the pandemic.

Reality eventually made the association pull the plug on CinemaCon, another example of how seemingly every part of American life has been disrupted because of the coronavirus. For movie theaters, however, the pandemic could be a point of no return.

The National Association of Theater Owners has insisted that streaming services are not a threat. “Through every challenge, through every new technology innovation over the last twenty years, theatrical admissions have been stable and box office has consistently grown,” John Fithian, the association’s chief executive, said in a January news release titled “theater owners celebrate a robust 2019 box office.” Ticket sales in North America totaled $11.4 billion, down 4 percent from a record-setting 2018.

Many analysts, however, see a very different picture. Looking at the last 20 years of attendance figures, the number of tickets sold in North America peaked in 2002, when cinemas sold about 1.6 billion. In 2019, attendance totaled roughly 1.2 billion, a 25 percent drop — even as the population of the United States increased roughly 15 percent. Cinemas have kept ticket revenue high by raising prices, but studio executives say there is limited room for continued escalation. Offerings in theaters may also grow more constrained. Even before the pandemic, major studios were starting to route smaller dramas and comedies toward streaming services instead of theaters.

And now comes the coronavirus, which has prompted people to bivouac in their homes, theaters to put in place social-distancing restrictions and studios to postpone most theatrical releases through the end of April. Rich Greenfield, a founder of the LightShed Partners media research firm, predicted that the disruption would speed the ascendance of streaming….

(16) GATES REFOCUSES. “Bill Gates steps down from Microsoft board to focus on philanthropy” – BBC has the story.

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is stepping down from the company’s board to spend more time on philanthropic activities.

He says he wants to focus on global health and development, education and tackling climate change.

One of the world’s richest men, Mr Gates, 65, has also left the board of Warren Buffett’s massive holding company, Berkshire Hathaway.

Mr Gates stepped down from his day-to-day role running Microsoft in 2008.

Announcing his latest move, Mr Gates said the company would “always be an important part of my life’s work” and he would continue to be engaged with its leadership.

But he said: “I am looking forward to this next phase as an opportunity to maintain the friendships and partnerships that have meant the most to me, continue to contribute to two companies of which I am incredibly proud, and effectively prioritise my commitment to addressing some of the world’s toughest challenges.”

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Daniel Dern, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

Pixel Scroll 4/23/17 Scroll White And The Seven Pixels

(1) BORN ON THE SEVENTH OF JULY. In “Spinning a high-tech web”, the LA Times provides an elaborate, photo-illustrated preview of Tony Stark’s upgrade to the new Spider-Man suit that will be seen in Spider-Man: Homecoming, due in theaters July 7.

(2) FILK HALL OF FAME. The 2017 inductees to the Filk Halll of Fame were announced at FilkOntario this weekend:

(3) FAHRENHEIT 451 TO SMALL SCREEN? The Bradbury novel is on the road to development once more. “HBO to Adapt Fahrenheit 451, starring Michael B. Jordan”  — BookRiot has the story.

Now, HBO is “moving toward a production commitment” (via Variety) on a feature-length adaptation of Bradbury’s 1953 novel starring Michael B. Jordan (Creed, Chronicle, Fantastic Four) as the protagonist Guy Montag and Michael Shannon (Man of Steel, Boardwalk Empire) as Montag’s boss, Captain Beatty.

The film will be directed by Ramin Bahrani (99 Homes, At Any Price), who is co-writing with Amir Naderi (99 Homes, The Runner). David Coatsworth (production manager on Underworld: Evolution, Ender’s Game, My Big Fat Greek Wedding) will serve as producer.

(4) THEY’RE HUUGE! “Black Holes Are Bigger Than You Thought” accuses Yahoo! News. (Just how big did you think they were? How did Yahoo! News find out?)

Now meet S5 0014+81.

It’s the largest black hole ever discovered and is heavier than our Sun by 40 billion times (40, 000, 000, 000) in the last observation.

If you plug in the equation above, you’ll find that this black hole has a Schwarzschild radius of about… 119 billion kilometers, along with a said diameter of about 236,39 billion km.

(5) THE TOUGHEST AROUND. Let Den of Geek point you at “17 really difficult LEGO sets”.

The Tower Of Orthanc

It may look simple enough on the box, but The Lord Of The Rings’ Tower Of Orthanc is actually a real tough cookie. Because most of its 2,359 pieces are jet black and slim, working out which bit goes where is the stuff of nightmares (in, um, a good way). The Treebeard that comes with it will make the struggle worth it… honest.

Buy The Tower Of Orthanc now for £348.07.

(6) TODAY’S DAY

  • April 23 — World Book and Copyright Day

Pays tribute to authors and books and their social and cultural contribution to the world

(7) DID YOU KNOW? Last year the International Costumers’ Guild participated in a “friend of the court” brief to the U.S. Supreme Court, joining Public Knowledge, the American Library Association, and others, asking the Court to protect the rights of clothing designers and costumers to freely practice their craft.

(8) AT HOME. The Verge’s Andrew Liptak reports “Netflix will invest billions to shoot its original content in California”:

Netflix is betting that filming closer to home will produce better content. In 2015, the streaming giant has announced that it would be doubling its output of original content, and it is aiming to have original productions make up half of its of its streaming catalog in the coming years. The goal is to entice users to come to the service by providing content that can’t be found elsewhere, but that goal is proving to be a strain on the existing film studio infrastructure. To cope, Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos announced that the company would be investing $6 billion to expand infrastructure in California, rather than chase tax incentives offered by states.

Sarandos explained to The Wrap that the company determined that going after the incentives leads to diminishing returns when it comes to their final products. Filming out of state is hard on the actors and crew of a project, and the move will help bring projects back home to California. That could prove to be costly for the company, even as California has increased its own tax incentive program in recent years. While remaining in the state will likely cost Netflix more, Sarandos seems to think that the extra cost will be worth spending.

(9) SQUEAK UP. YouTube’s TheBackyardScientist set up 10 megaphones end-to-end to see how loud a noise he could make.

The video, posted to YouTube by TheBackyardScientist, features Kevin Kohler explaining he was inspired by Bart Simpson‘s prank in the season 8 Simpsons episode The Secret War of Lisa Simpson to place 10 megaphones end-to-end and test the results.

Bart’s experiment led to a shock wave that shattered all of the windows in town — as well as Homer’s fridge full of beer — but Kohler quickly ran into a problem Bart didn’t face: a feedback loop.

 

(10) BITE ON. The number of people who give their smartphones to dogs as chew toys is probably smaller than the number of men who have walked on the moon, but for them — “There’s an anti-dog label inside the Galaxy S8 — here’s what it means”. Let The Verge explain it to you.

Basically, you don’t want Fido in a situation where a battery could hiss and explode in its mouth. It’s obviously possible that a child could bite through the battery as well, but the likelihood of him / her piercing through the battery is lower.

(11) ARTIFICIAL DOG INTELLIGENCE. Amazing. How is it mine doesn’t do that?

(12) FIX THE SLATING PROBLEM FOREVER. That’s what Greg Hullender would like to do. At Rocket Stack Rank he summarizes his views about the effectiveness of 3SV, EPH(+) and their combination. He says, “I  think it makes it really clear that we need both 3SV and either EPH or EPH+. Otherwise, even small slates (100 to 200 people) will be able to control a significant amount of the final ballot, including adding embarrassing nominees.”

For each year, we produced two theoretical maximum graphs. A “finalist graph,” which shows what percentage of finalists a slate could have captured for a given number of slate voters, and a “sweeps” graph, which shows what percentage of entire categories a slate could have captured.

Looking at those four pairs of graphs (2.1-2.4 below), we will draw the following conclusions;

  • Std (5/6) by itself is far too weak.
  • EPH doesn’t protect enough finalists, but it is excellent at preventing sweeps.
  • EPH+ is an improvement on EPH, but it’s still not enough by itself.
  • 3SV is much stronger for protecting finalists, especially for modest numbers of slate voters, but it’s vulnerable to sweeps, and it breaks down for slates above about 300 people.
  • The 3SV/EPH and 3SV/EPH+ combinations are far, far stronger than either component alone. Either combination is probably sufficient, but the second one is stronger.

Accordingly, we conclude that the Business Meeting should ratify both EPH+ and 3SV. That should protect the Hugos from slating interference for the nonce.

(13) DREAM CASTING. Enjoy “Miles To Go” hosted at Archive of Our Own. Note – Password = Vorkosigan (as it says at the post).

There once was a man who dreamt of the stars…

A fanvid based on the Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold.

…Obviously, it’s not so easy to make a feast for a fandom with no existing visual source. But where there’s a will, or in my case an enormous and driving folly, there’s a way. It was always going to be an ensemble vid, with Miles as the star, but the question was how to cast it. I did eventually solve that problem, and I won’t discuss my solution in detail here because… spoilers.

[Thanks to Carl Slaughter, Cat Eldridge, Robin Reid, JJ, Doctor Science, Greg Hullender, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories, Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kurt Busiek.]

2016 Filk Hall of Fame Inductees

Eli Goldberg and Mark Bernstein are the 2016 inductees to the Filk Hall of Fame. The announcement was made during FilKONtario in April.

The Filk Hall of Fame honors those who have contributed to filk over the years as performers, organizers, and facilitators.

Here is an excerpt from Mark Bernstein’s acceptance speech Gifts from Filk.

Filk has given me a home

When I arrive at a filk con, I’m surrounded by people who speak with the same vocabulary, who share the values of the community, who are there for many of the same reasons. Like, I suspect, just about everyone here, I’ve had my days, even whole weekends, of feeling excluded, of thinking of myself as an outsider looking in. It can be hard to get past that. But I’ve come to know, on a deep level, that this is a place I belong. It’s a place where I might end up missing that concert I wanted to hear because I fell into a fascinating conversation with people I may have known for decades, or may have only spoken to a few times. It’s a place where I know I can get up and dance when the music moves me, and not be judged on the quality of my movement. It’s a place where I can be certain that at some point during the weekend, my voice will become one piece of a much greater whole, as harmonies and instrumentals ring through the circle. Whether I’m in Mississauga, or Columbus, or Atlanta, or Seattle, or Jersey City, or Basingstoke, I know I’m home. Which brings me to . . .

Filk has given me joy

Joy, and the ways in which it differs from simple happiness, is a personal thing. I can’t define it. But I know it comes in different flavors. When that greater whole I just referred to coalesces, and fills my awareness, that’s a joyful moment. When someone who’s been working up their nerve, sometimes for months or years, sings in front of other people for the first time since childhood, that’s a joyful moment. When someone who’s found their voice here keeps going, keeps on singing or playing or reciting, and manages, whether through applied hard work or simple repetition, to get better and build confidence, that’s a whole series of joyful moments. Those moments accumulate, and build, and keep me connected to this community in a way that will never be broken.

The Filk Hall of Fame jury, representing all the filk cons in US, Canada, UK and Germany, selects the inductees, based on fan nominations. The 2016 jury was: Gary McGath (ConCertino, Boston area); Nick Smith (ConChord, San Diego area); Katy Droge-Macdonald, FilkCONtinental, Germany); Mark Peters (OVFF, Columbus area); Rick Weiss (Conflikt, Seattle area); Rob Wynne (GAFilk, Atlanta area); Annie Walker (Con27ilkin, British); Victor Stevko (Consonance, San Francisco area); Steve Macdonald (DFDF, Germany); Judith Hayman (FilKONtario, Toronto area).