(1) A NEW YORK MIDDLE AGES MINUTE. The New York Time discovers the Society for Creative Anachronism: “The Weekend Warriors of the Crown Province of Ostgardr (Otherwise Known as New York City)”.
King Wilhelm and Queen Vienna — a Connecticut couple whose real names are Jackie and Brian Van Ostenbridge — reign over the East Kingdom, which encompasses the Northeast and parts of Canada.
It is one of the society’s 20 kingdoms in North America, each of which is subdivided into provinces, baronies and shires. There is the Crown Province of Ostgardr, which includes all five New York City boroughs and several surrounding counties, many of which also have their own medieval names.
Manhattan is known as Whyt Whey, a reference to Broadway’s White Way. Brooklyn is Brokenbridge, a reference to the Brooklyn Bridge. Westchester County is known as Northpas, and Nassau County is Lions End. Southwest Connecticut is the Barony of Dragonship Haven, while the rest of the state is the Barony Beyond the Mountain.
(2) INTRO TO ART. The Washington Post’s Philip Kennicott discusses Saul Steinberg’s The Labyrinth, reprinted by the New York Review of Books, which he thinks is an ideal introduction to the complexities of art: “Think you don’t understand art? This is the one book you’ll need.”
“The Labyrinth” has been republished by the New York Review of Books press, and looking back into it is a revelation. The book opens with an extended, tour-de-force version of a Steinberg classic, the Line, seven pages unified by a single horizontal line that functions in myriad ways, as a timeline of history, a horizon line, the line dividing water from land, the edge of a table, the top of a bridge, a topographical mark and a clothesline (with socks, towels and shirts appended). From there, the book unfolds as a set of interlocking mini-essays on Steinberg’s favorite and recurring subjects: music and musicians, architecture, the chatter of socialites, the vanity of power and ambition, and the iconography of mid-century America.
(3) LIT HISTORY. Princess Weekes draws her own “A (Brief) Timeline of Female Authors’ Influence on Sci-Fi and Fantasy” at The Mary Sue.
However, it’s because of the works of Leigh Brackett, who was the first woman to be shortlisted for a Hugo and worked on the original screenplay for The Empire Strikes Back, that we have certain concepts of the Space Opera in both literature and film.
Pop culture has downplayed a lot of Brackett’s additions to the Star Wars storyline, since George Lucas apparently didn’t like that screenplay, but as io9?s co-founder and award-winning author Charlie Jane Anders brought up years ago, “the basic story beats are the same,” and Brackett came up with the concept of Luke Skywalker having a twin sister.
Brackett was also a mentor to Ray Bradbury, and despite being mocked for writing “space fantasy,” rather than “hard” science-fiction, her influence on the genre still holds up.
(4) YOU BETTER NOT WATCH, YOU BETTER NOT SIGHT. FirstShowing.net tells us how to “Ring in the Holidays with Fox’s Stop-Motion ‘Predator Holiday Special'”.
“Looks like someone’s staying on the naughty list… Larry, light him up!!” What the craziness is this?! 20th Century Fox has released an extra-violent, stop-motion animated short film titled The Predator Holiday Special. And it’s actually all kinds of awesome. The funny short is just a new mash-up of Predator and the classic “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” animated TV movie, telling a story about a Predator invading the North Pole – but Santa has an elite defense force of his own that jumps into action and fights back….
(5) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born December 24, 1910 – Fritz Leiber. I can say that my fav work by him is The Big Time which I either read or listen to every year. And yes I’ve read the Change War Stories too, difficult to find as they were. Yes I know it won a Hugo — much, much deserved! I’m also fond of Conjure Wife, but otherwise I prefer his short fiction to his novels. (Died 1992.)
- Born December 24, 1945 – Nicholas Meyer, 73. Lovely novel, The Seven-Per-Cent Solution is. Much better Ithan the film I think. Now his Time After Time film is spot on. And let’s not forget his work on the Trek films, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (much of which went uncredited), Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.
- Born December 24, 1964 – Mark Valley, 54. He made my Birthday list first by being the lead, Christopher Chance, in Human Target, a short-lived series created by Len Wein and Carmine Infantino for DC. He was also John Scott In Fringe as a regular cast member. He voiced Clark Kent / Superman in the second part of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.
- Born December 24, 1966 – Dietrich Bader, 52. I know him best as the voice of Batman on The Batman and Batman: The Brave and the Bold. No, he’s not Kevin Conroy but his Batman is quite enjoyable and interesting in his own right. He’s best cast as Batman / Brace Wayne in the forthcoming Harley Quinn series on the DC Universe service.
- Born December 24, 1969 – Mark Millar, 49. Comic book write whose resume is long at both house so I’ll like of his work. The Millar/Quitely era on The Authority was politically edged and often got censored by DC as it commented on the Iraq War — well worth your reading. His run on Swamp Thing from 142 to 171 has a lot of other writers including Morrison. He the Ultimates at Marvels and a lot of the superb series ended in the Avengers film. Finally his excellent Civil War was the basis of the Captain America: Civil War film and his not to missed Old Man Logan was the inspiration for Fox’s Logan film.
(6) COMICS SECTION.
- This classic Calvin and Hobbes explains time travel.
(7) SMALLER ON THE INSIDE. As a fellow blogger, let me applaud GeekTyrant for figuring out a way to get an entire post out of this little item –“GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY Star Karen Gillan Responds to Being Featured on Jeopardy”.
There are some trademark signs in the industry that you’ve truly “made it.” Like if you’re a musician, and you hear your song on the radio, or even moreso, when that song gets remade by Weird Al Yankovic. Or if you’re an actor, and you get a beefy role in a Marvel movie, or get nominated for an award, or you get to go on Saturday Night Live, or in Karen Gillan’s case, you’re featured in a question/answer on Jeopardy! What a fun and exciting treat!
(8) UNEMPLOYED MEN TELL NO TALES. In case there was any doubt the other day – he’s out. The Independent has the tale:
Johnny Depp’s tenure as Captain Jack Sparrow has officially come to an end, following a Disney executive’s confirmation that the actor will no longer be a part of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.
The studio’s production chief, Sean Bailey, was speaking about the previously announced reboot – set to be written by Deadpool‘s Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese – when he was asked whether the series could survive without Depp.
Rather than deny the reports, Bailey told The Hollywood Reporter: “We want to bring in a new energy and vitality. I love the [Pirates] movies, but part of the reason Paul and Rhett are so interesting is that we want to give it a kick in the pants. And that’s what I’ve tasked them with.”
(9) FRANKENSTEIN (1910) RESTORED. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Slate shines a little light on the fact that “The First Film Adaptation of Frankenstein Has Been Restored, and You Can Watch It Right Here”. The 1910 silent movie by Edison Production was restored by the Library of Congress National Audio-Visual Conservation Center from the sole remaining print (and other source material) and posted on their site in 2017. It is also available on YouTube. Music for the restoration was composed and performed by Donald Sosin. The Edison Production title card bills it as “A liberal adaptation from Mrs. Shelly’s famous story” and indeed significant liberties are taken. (Then again, cramming the full story into about 13 minutes would have been difficult, though IMDb clams the original was about 16 minutes.) The LoC site describes the film thus:
“While he is in college, Frankenstein decides he must attempt to make a perfect human being. The being he creates is given life in a vat of burning chemicals. On the day Frankenstein weds his sweetheart, who has been living patiently at home, he sees the monster he created reflected in a mirror. Having disappeared, the monster returns to his creator to gain acceptance. However, when the creature is in front of the mirror he disappears again, with only his slowly vanishing reflection left. When Frankenstein arrives and stands in front of the same mirror he witnesses the fading image, signifying the monster’s destruction in the face of Frankenstein’s increased love for his wife and life.”
(10) TIS THE SEASON. New holiday, a new mission: “McEdifice: Ghosts of X-mas Past” at Camestros Felapton.
“Please sit down,” he said gesturing to a wooden crate marked “cheap tobacco”.
“I’m sorry,” he continued, “but all our furniture was replaced with old shipping crates due to budget cuts. I understand you’ve come out about the role we advertised?”
“Sure,” I responded, “the assistant to ‘Mr Scrooge’.”
I’d heard rumours of this Scrooge guy. A man of old but indeterminate age. Misanthropic, holed up inside an ageing house. A nexus of supernatural events. Everything about this Scrooge guy’s profile said ‘vampire’….
Straw Puppy: Um, isn’t the title ‘Ghost of X-mas Future?
Tiny Tim the Cat: Oh crap. Too late now, we’ve published it.
Chiseled McEdifice: Nooooooooo!!!!!!!
(11) NICE TRY. Another not-ready-for-prime-time app: the BBC tests “How well does Zozosuit measure up?” [Video.]
Japanese retailer Zozo, which operates Zozotown, the country’s largest online fashion marketplace, has developed a figure-hugging bodysuit featuring lots of uniquely patterned dots.
As you turn slowly round, your smartphone takes photos, building up a 360-degree image of your body shape. Then you can order clothes that really fit.
At least, that’s what the company claims. But how well does it work?
(12) MORE TO WATCH FOR. They have to worry about more than the name-brand seismic activity: “Indonesia’s tsunami shows the need to research unexpected dangers”.
Nobody had any clue. There was certainly no warning. It’s part of the picture that now points to a large underwater landslide being the cause of Saturday’s devastating tsunami in the Sunda Strait.
Of course everyone in the region will have been aware of Anak Krakatau, the volcano that emerged in the sea channel just less than 100 years ago. But its rumblings and eruptions have been described by local experts as relatively low-scale and semi-continuous.
In other words, it’s been part of the background.
And yet it is well known that volcanoes have the capacity to generate big waves. The mechanism as ever is the displacement of a large volume of water.
Except, unlike in a classic earthquake-driven tsunami in which the seafloor will thrust up or down, it seems an eruption event set in motion some kind of slide.
(13) TOP COMICS ARTIST. Complex shares “Spider-Man to Spawn, How Todd McFarlane Became the Biggest Comic Book Artist Ever.”
Todd McFarlane opens up about his career as a comic book artist that includes making Spider-Man cooler and creating the Spawn character. He also shares his blueprint to launching Image Comics and McFarlane Toys.
(14) BUT WHAT ABOUT THIS OTHER GUY? CBS Sunday Morning took viewers “Inside the studio of legendary comic book artist Alex Ross.”
In the world of comic book artists, Alex Ross is a superhero. He’s been called the Norman Rockwell of comics and has put his imprint on Superman, Spiderman, Aquaman and Captain America. Ross wields his superpower in his paintbrush and he allowed “CBS This Morning: Saturday” co-host Anthony Mason into his secret lair.
(15) WW84 WRAPS. USA Today says “Gal Gadot posts heartfelt message after production wraps on ‘Wonder Woman 1984′”.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Daniel Dern, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Iphinome.] ked0 C