Pixel Scroll 11/30 The Doom That Came to File770

(1) TOLKIEN AT THE PLATE. Pitchers’ faces turn almost gargoyle-like at the moment they deliver the baseball. Major league baseball blog Cut4  decided it would be amusing to match those expressions with melodramatic quotes from Lord of the Rings.

The pitch face. Completely uninhibited, wholly pure. Every pitcher has one. It takes a lot of effort to throw a pitch 90-plus mph, after all, and pitchers can’t exactly worry about what arrangement their features make while trying to hit their spots. And so, the pitch face is one of baseball’s most totally human elements.

Below, some of the best we saw this year. And to explain their greatness, we captioned them with quotes from the only movies as epic as these faces: The Lord of the Rings trilogy….

“A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day.”

pitcher

(2) SWEDISH SF ART. A fine gallery accompanies a brief interview with the artist in The Huffington Post’s, “Sci-Fi Painter Simon Stålenhag Turns The Everyday Into Dystopia”.

One artist working actively to infuse visions of the future into scenes from the present is Simon Stålenhag, whose narrative paintings have recently been collected into a book, thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign. The paintings in Tales from the Loop show children and adolescents traipsing across gray plains, energetic in spite of their glum surroundings. Power lines and radio towers dot the skyline, alongside foreign machines, hefty and ominous.

That Stålenhag’s imagined robots stand beside clusters of desktop computers, scoreboards and hatchbacks makes their existence that much more believable. “Look what we’ve created,” he seems to suggest. “Imagine what else we can create.”

staylenhag art

(3) FERMI PARADOX REDUX. A long time ago there was a famous commercial for a hamburger chain that mainly consisted of an elderly woman interrupting a rival’s ad copy, shouting “Where’s the beef?” The Fermi Paradox has a similar effect on speculations about intelligent life in the universe – and Jim Henley’s new post puts a dent in a favorite corollary — “Fermi Conundrum Redux: The Singularity as Great Big Zero?”

Half the objections come from transhumanist types saying that “We’ll just send our robots” or “mind-uploading” or “frozen genetic material raised by AI nannies” or self-replicating Von Neumann machines etc. – the whole LessWrong kitbag of secular eschatons.

But it occurs to me that all that does is bring those notions into the orbit of the Fermi Conundrum, née Fermi Paradox*. The Conundrum, as we all know, runs, “Where is everybody?” That is, we should see evidence of intelligent life Out There or right here or, if you’re especially cynical, should have been wiped out by another civilization before we even evolved this far, just to be on the safe side. The answer, “Maybe there just aren’t any other intelligent civilizations,” almost has to count as the most probable answer to the conundrum at this point.

(4) NEWITZ BIDS GOODBYE. Today was Annalee Newitz’ last day at io9 and Gizmodo. Newitz and Charlie Jane Anders co-founded io9 in 2008. In “I’m Heading Out to the Black. Farewell, io9 and Gizmodo!” at io9, Newitz announced:

And this is where my path diverges from io9 and Gizmodo. This past year managing both sites taught me that I’m not actually interested in being a manager. I want to write. That’s why I got into the writing business, and that’s what I want to do for the rest of my life. So I’ve accepted a position as tech culture editor at Ars Technica, where I’m excited to be devoting all my time to writing about the cultural impact of technology and science.

Did I mention that change is scary? Actually, it’s terrifying. And amazing. And a fundamental, banal part of being trapped in linear time. Anyone who loves the future, or who looks forward to a tomorrow that’s different from today, has to accept the uncertainties of change. Your Utopian vision might lead you straight to the shithole. But sometimes, your one-year speculative experiment grows into a giant robot that saves humanity from giant monsters. You won’t know until you actually veer off the road you were on, and steal a little plutonium to fuel your dreams.

Newitz says Katie Drummond will carry on Gizmodo.

(5) NaNoWriMo PROGRESS. Misty Massey asks “Did You Win NaNo?”  at Magical Words,

Today is the last day of NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, a gloriously insane thirty-days of writing like your head is on fire and your booty is catching. I’ve participated for a whole lot of years now, although I never win, because this kind of writing is just not what I do. Despite having been told time and again that I should just write it all down and fix it later, I can’t. It needs to be as perfect and wonderful as I can manage the first time, so my writing style is Eeyore-slow.  But I still sign on for NaNo every year, just in case.  I managed about 9,000 words. Which, for me, is a stunning achievement.

(6) FAVES. Stephanie Burgis lists her “Favorite MG Novels of 2015”. And lo and behold, Ursula Vernon, you are Number Six…

  1. Castle Hangnail, by Ursula Vernon, is a wickedly funny fantasy novel with a fabulous heroine, and it turned me into a huge Ursula Vernon fan. You can read my full review here.

(7) JESSICA REVIEW. Jim Henley’s post “Jessica Jones (And Her Amazing Friends): A Netflix Original Series” sounds like he’s going to keep watching, if you ask me.

(8) BANGING ON. Larry Correia notifies his readers “JP Enterprises is now offering MHI [Monster Hunter International] and MCB logo AR-15 lower receivers” – a logo etching on a gun part.

I just had a fun thought. While certain other bestselling novelists are writing sanctimonious ignorant tweets bleating for more gun control, Larry Correia offers you custom rifles. 🙂

JP-MHI-1024x867

(9) THE RACK IS BACK. Lou Antonelli made sf and fantasy the dominant genres sold at the Dollar General store in Mount Pleasant, TX, as he explains in “Help the spin rack make a comeback!”

In talking about publishing original fiction [in a 2008 article by Antonelli], [Tom] Doherty mentioned that those paperback spin racks we used to see in stores and pharmacies were often a point of entry for people to the s-f and fantasy genres.

They used to be ubiquitous – those tall, vertical wire racks that you could spin around to see all four sides loaded up with mass market paperbacks. Doherty noted how the consolidation of book distribution had all but eliminated them. He said he hoped the fiction published by Tor.com would serve the same function as a point of entry for new readers in the digital age.

…Now, fast forward two and half years, to the summer of 2011. I was scheduled as a panelist at ArmadilloCon in Austin, and one of the panels was on “Secret History”. The Thursday before the convention I stopped at a local Dollar General in Mount Pleasant to pick up some groceries on the way home from work, and while standing in line, I caught sight of a spin rack.

Yes, Dollar General still believes in the spin rack. I walked over and saw that among the books was a copy of Steven Brust’s “The Paths of the Dead”. While I don’t read high fantasy, I bought the book because Brust was on the panel with me.

The following Sunday afternoon, as the panel on Secret History broke up, I stopped and pulled the book out. I told Steve “you know you are a best-selling author when you’re on the spin rack in the Dollar General in Mount Pleasant, Texas! That means your books are sold EVERYWHERE!”

(10) OUT WITH THE OLD. Jeff Duntemann’s photo of “Samples from the Box of No Return” is like a fannish time capsule.

I’m packing my office closet, and realized that The Box of No Return was overflowing. So in order to exercise my tesselation superpower on it, I had to upend it on my office floor and repack it from scratch.

I hadn’t done that in a very long time.

You may have a Box of No Return. It’s downstairs from the Midwestern Junk Drawer, hidden behind the Jar of Loose Change. It’s for stuff you know damned well you’ll never use again, but simply can’t bring yourself to throw away. A lot of it may be mementos. Some of it is just cool. Most of it could be dumped if you were a braver (and less sentimental) man than I….

There follows a descriptive paragraph of the treasures discovered. And things less that treasured.

I tossed a couple of things, like my SFWA membership badge. SFWA wanted to get rid of me for years for not publishing often enough; I saved them the trouble. Rot in irrelevancy, you dorks; I’m an indie now, and making significant money. Some promo buttons were for products I couldn’t even recall, and they went in the cause of making room. But most of it will go back in the (small) box, and it will all fit, with room to spare for artifacts not yet imagined, much less acquired.

(11) Today’s Birthday Boy

  • Born November 30, 1835 – Mark Twain

  • Born November 30, 1937 – Director Ridley Scott

(12) ONE STARS. Scalzi, Leckie, Rothfuss and others reading various one star reviews out loud.

(13) ABRAMS INTERVIEW. “J.J. Abrams Is Excited for Mothers and Daughters To See Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

The Star Wars: The Force Awakens director stopped by Good Morning America on Monday to talk about the upcoming release, and how he’s hoping it won’t just be a “boy’s thing.”

Star Wars was always a boy’s thing,” Abrams said. “I was really hoping this could be a movie that mothers could take their daughters to as well.”

In the interview, Abrams also confirmed that he at first refused the offer to direct the new Star Wars film, saying that it was a franchise he so revered that he “thought it would be better just to go the theater and see it like everyone else.” After talking to producer producer Kathy Kennedy, however, Abrams said the opportunity was “too delicious and too exciting to pass up.”

Video of the GMA interview is at the link.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Paul Weimer, Mark-kitteh, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Greg.]

Update 12/01/2015: Corrected the link to Jim Henley’s review of Jessica Jones.

Pixel Scroll 11/23 Mister Scrollman, Bring Me A Screed

(1) Syfy offers a free viewing of the first episode of The Expanse  — Episode 1: Dulcinea. (Also available on the Syfy Now App, Hulu, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu, iTunes, Playstation, Xbox, and Facebook.)

(2) Variety says additional episodes have been ordered for Rachel Bloom’s series and CW’s iZombie.

Freshman comedy “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” has landed five more episodes, bringing its first season total to 18, while “iZombie” has received an additional six-episode order, giving the second season a total of 19.

Audience for the Bloom series is growing slowly.

While the positively-reviewed “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” hasn’t gained much ratings traction, it has posted its best numbers to date in recent weeks. Paired with sophomore critical breakout “Jane the Virgin,” the six episodes averaged a 0.34 rating in 18-49 and about 1 million total viewers in Nielsen’s “live plus-3” estimates.

(3) Misty Massey tells about a live slushpile reading in “Getting What You Ask For” at Magical Words.

Many, many times I hear writers complain how much they hate getting form rejections from editors, because such things do nothing to help them understand why the editor didn’t want to buy their story. Editors don’t understand, they cry, that writers can’t fix stories if they aren’t told what went wrong in the first place. Some writers say editors are lazy, others think they’re cruel. For whatever reason, it’s always the editor’s fault.

A couple of years ago, David Coe approached Faith Hunter and me to present a panel called Live Action Slush. (For those who don’t know, the writers submit the first pages of their novels anonymously. A designated reader reads each page aloud, and the three of us listen as if we were slush editors, raising our hands when we reach a place that would cause us to stop reading and move on to the next submission.  Once all three hands are up, the reading stops and we discuss what made us stop reading.) David had done such a panel at another con, to great acclaim, and wanted to bring it to ConCarolinas. We had two sessions, both standing room only. As far as we could tell, anyway. We were asked to present it at Congregate later that same summer, and since then we’ve offered it in various incarnations at any cons we attended.

Most of the time, the writers seemed happy to hear our suggestions, although once in a while we would run into a writer who just couldn’t handle the idea that their story wasn’t already perfect.  You see, the point of Live Action Slush is to give the writers exactly what they’ve been complaining they never receive – a specific, clear reason for the turndown. Sometimes the problem is that nothing is happening by the time we reach the end of the first page. Sometimes the writer spends the entire first page describing the characters without giving the reader the slightest idea what the book’s about. Characters might be hideous stereotypes, or flat and wooden.  There are tons of reasons, most of which are easily repaired once the writer knows what has happened. But there are some writers who really aren’t ready to hear what needs fixing. They’ve come to the workshop fully expecting that the panelists will declare their first page to be utter brilliance. Those are the writers who storm out of the room, instead of staying to listen to the critique of other writers under the same scrutiny. They go into the hallway and tell their friends how mean we were, how we don’t really know anything. Most important, they don’t make any changes.

(4) In an Absolute Write forum, Alessandra Kelley gives the context for a wisecrack James Frenkel made on a Windycon panel and asks “Is what I witnessed abusive behavior?”

There are a number of important questions that urgently need discussing if we are to have any sort of careful, agreeable, professional and accepting environment for our conventions.

Many people make thoughtless remarks or cruel witticisms or little jokes. Should people be more mindful of them?

Is it right to treat a category of people as inherently funny or insulting?

How much tolerance should there be for little jokes? At what point does laughing them away become aiding and abetting the marginalization of a segment of the community?

Should a person with a known history of abusive behavior be held to a higher standard than others? What about a person in a position of authority?

Should we not speak up when we see such behavior?

(5) Lucy Huntzinger reports that the Down Under Fan Fund will be receiving a $2,000 donation from Sasquan, the 2015 Worldcon. The DUFF co-administrator said, “Thank you for supporting face to face encounters between international fandoms!”

(6) Today In History

The first of a four-part pilot episode of the series aired on the BBC on this day in 1963. Titled “An Unearthly Child”, the story introduced the Doctor, the Tardis, and many other things that would become hallmarks of the program.

(7) Today’s Birthday Boys

  • Born November 23, 1887 — Boris Karloff, birthname William Henry Pratt, in Camberwell, London, England.
  • Born November 23, 1914 – Wilson “Bob” Tucker

(8) Early suggestions coming in for the 2016 Worldcon program…

(9) The Kickstarter for The Dark North – Volume 1, a premium coffee table art book with new stories from Scandinavia’s best illustrators and concept artists, is just fully financed, but it’s still possible to contribute.

Artist: Lukas Thelin

Artist: Lukas Thelin

(10) “Being a Better Writer: Names”  by Max Florschutz at Unusual Things has four good ideas for dealing with a fundamental sf writing challenge.

So, naming things. This is, as you might guess, a requested topic. And to be honest, I think it’s one worth talking about.

See, naming things can actually be pretty tricky. When creating a world from scratch, or even just a redesigned/repurposed version of our own world, often one of the first things a lot of young writers do is assign their characters, places, and things very interesting names. It’s kind of a trope by this point, but if I had to guess my prediction would be that to the new writer, the goal is to excitedly show you how fantastical their world is. So they don’t have people with names like Joe or Samantha. They have people with names like Krul’Qa’pin or something like that.  And they live in the city of Byulnqualalaltipo! Aren’t those fantastic?

Well, in sense, sure. They’re also completely unpronounceable, for a start. And that is just the start.

See, there are a host of problems with names like this. The first being that they’re difficult for the reader to read, pronounce, and parse. They’re these very out there, fantastical names that are hard to make sense of, and the more of them a writer puts into his story, the harder it will be not only for the reader to keep interest, but to keep everything straight. Especially if the writer has gone and made a number of the names similar through conventions such as “I’ll stick apostrophe’s here and here and that’ll make a name.” And while it certainly might create names that look impressive, the truth is that a lot of “name creation techniques” that novice writers go for tend to create a whole host of problems like what we just discussed.

Okay, so this is writing that, if not bad, is certainly not good, clearly. But in order to avoid this trap, it’s worth understanding why it’s a trap in the first place. Why are writers doing this? What makes creating a multi-syllable name that defies typical English attractive?

(11) A dress worn by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz, (which did not win the brackets, darn it) sold at auction for $1.56 million today.

The blue and white gingham dress, one of 10 thought to have been made for Garland in her role as Dorothy in the movie, was among the top items in the Bonham’s and Turner Classic Movies Hollywood memorabilia auction….

A year ago, the Cowardly Lion costume worn by actor Bert Lahr in the movie sold for almost $3.1 million at a Bonham’s auction.

(12) National Geographic reveals “An 80-Year-Old Prank Revealed, Hiding in the Periodic Table!”

You wouldn’t know it, because it’s hiding down there at the bottom of the periodic table of elements, but it’s a prank—something a five-year-old might do—and the guy who did it was one of the greatest chemists in America. It’s pure silliness, staring right at you, right where I’ve drawn my circle, at element 94.

(13) At Motherboard, “For the First Time Ever, Astronomers Have Observed the Birth of a Planet”:

The new research, published this week in Nature, provides hard evidence of a developing gas giant orbiting a young Sunlike star called LkCa 15, located 450 light years away in the constellation Taurus. What’s more, it appears as if at least two other giant bébés are also forming around the star, though only one was directly detected.

“No one has successfully and unambiguously detected a forming planet before,” said astronomer Kate Follette, a co-author on the study, in a statement. “There have always been alternate explanations, but in this case we’ve taken a direct picture, and it’s hard to dispute that.”

(14) Click at your own risk! From ScienceFiction.com “Thanks To A Leaked Children’s Book We Have Some HUGE ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Spoilers!”

(15) “Steven Moffat Reveals the Nightmare Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special We Could Have Had” on io9.

But while those meetings went on, more and more actors publicly denied that they would be a part of the special, prompting growing discontent from Doctor Who fans—who didn’t realize that behind-the-scenes problems with the script, and a ticking clock, meant that Moffat very nearly had to scrape together a story with whatever actors he could find. Case in point? In one form or another, there was a story outline for “The Day of the Doctor” that featured no Doctors at all… only Jenna Coleman as Clara.

(16) A project known as “Justice League Dark” is inching closer to a greenlight. Joblo lists the front-running candidates to direct:

Things are heating up for DARK UNIVERSE, as casting rumors have been swirling around the past week and now we have word on who the studio is eyeing to direct the supernatural superhero tale. We’re told that BIG BAD WOLVES directing duo Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado, as well as EVIL DEAD remake director Fede Alvarez are the top contenders to take the gig right now. Both sets of filmmakers have a strong grasp of the dark and macabre genre and would easily fill the shoes of Guillermo Del Toro, who left the film after turning in his screenplay and toiling with the studio over casting and scheduling. However, Del Toro’s script is said to be excellent and one of the main reasons that the studio is pushing to get JLD underway with a shooting start in early 2016.

Yahoo! says Dark Universe is expected to put the spotlight on some of the lesser-known heroes and villains of the DC Comics universe whose adventures typically involve magic or supernatural elements of some sort.

Among the characters rumored to have a role in the film are occult detective John Constantine, who was featured in a short-lived television series of his own recently, and Swamp Thing, a multimedia sensation who was the subject of two live-action movies, a live-action television series, and an animated series to go along with his long-running comic book series and other projects. The film will also reportedly feature the villain Anton Arcane, the antihero demon Etrigan, and the sorceress Zatanna, as well as Madame Xanadu and the body-swapping spirit Deadman.

(17) Ice Age 5 short: Scrat In Space!

[Thanks to Hampus Eckerman, Will R., JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Michael J. Walsh for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day RedWombat.]

Pixel Scroll 11/9 My Heart Says “Bang!”

(1) “It appears there’s a Northwesteros football team,” reports Tom Galloway. “Personally, I find this amusing given that when he was at Northwestern, George R.R. Martin was a mainstay of, not the football team, but the chess team (he’s written a story where the starting point is a real life match against the arch-rival UChicago team).”

GRRM at Northwestern COMP

(Photo posted by Northwestern Athletics.)

(2) The decision to stop using Lovecraft’s image on the World Fantasy Award was, needless to say, unpopular with many commenters on H.P. Lovecraft’s Facebook page.

(3) Nick Mamatas is running a poll asking “What should the New World Fantasy Award be?” – where participants get to choose among his own satirical answers.

(4) Sam Kriss explains, in “The Englishman and the Octopus”, why Spectre is really a Lovecraft story, not a Bond movie.

This film doesn’t exactly hide its place within Lovecraftian mythology. You really think that creature on the ring is just an octopus? Uniquely for a Bond film, it starts with an epigraph of sorts, the words ‘the dead are alive’ printed over a black screen – a not particularly subtle allusion to the famous lines from the Necronomicon: ‘That is not dead which can eternal lie/ And with strange aeons even death may die.’

(5) Houghton Mifflin Harcourt will launch a new SF/F book line edited by John Joseph Adams reports Locus Online.

The new list, called John Joseph Adams Books, will begin in February 2016 with print editions of three backlist Hugh Howey titles. Adams will serve as editor at large for the line. He began his association with HMH when he became series editor for the Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy series, launched this year.

(6) Buddy’s Antique Auction in Arab, Alabama might not be the first place you’d look to buy a genuine Lunar Rover — but it should be! That salvaged LRV recently in the news will be there for sale to the highest bidder on November 21 at Noon.

LRV_7We are proud to announce that we have been commissioned to sell at public auction this very special piece of historical value. This Lunar Rover or “Moon Buggy” as it is comonly called is a prototype from the mid 1960s. NASA engineers were studying ways for the astronauts to be mobile while on the moon. This buggy never went to the moon but has been authenticated by a retired NASA scientist and he believes Wernher Von Braun was photographed on this buggy. “Moon Buggies” were used on the moon and three are still there. This is definitely a piece of history some space enthusiast could lovingly bring back to its original glory….

This is a special auction and will be for the Moon Buggy. This will be the only item in this auction and will be held at 12:00 Noon at the Worley Brothers Antiques building.

More photos here.

(7) Sarah Chorn writes frequently about accessibility, and her latest post at Bookworm Blues is a status report in general about conventions’ support for special needs.

I saw a lot of praise this year about conventions that had sign language interpreters in attendance, and I thought, “Good. I’m glad that conventions are finally getting this accommodation, but what does it say about us that this is something to be praised rather than part of our normal convention going experience?”

That’s the thing that really irks me about this issue. Accommodation is still something to be praised rather than a normal thing. It’s an event rather than an occurrence. Furthermore, there are still times when there are problems and people get excluded or edged out due to these problems. The dialogue about this is still minimal in the genre. There is still almost no discussion about these problems until something happens and there is a small outcry.

(8) Roger Tener gave permission to reprint his account of Nancy Nutt’s memorial service from Chronicles of the Dawn Patrol.

Saturday [November 7] was the Memorial Service for Nancy Nutt.

David and Sherrie Moreno, Cathy, and I drove up to Kansas City It was an opportunity to spend time with friends to comfort each other and remember Nancy.

There was a couple of tables set up in a small room with pictures that Nancy had taken over the years. Nancy’s family told us to take any of the pictures we wanted.  There were several pictures of Fans and airplanes. More specifically airplanes that I had flown Fan gatherings.

During the service many us fans told various stories of Nancy that brought a smile. (Like Mickey Mouse committing suicide in the back 52 Tango while flying over Walt Disney World.)

After the service many of us gathered at Genghis Kahn for supper. After we ate we stood outside the restaurant and talked and talked and talked in the finest Fannish tradition.

We will miss you Nancy.

(9) Kameron Hurley, asked “Do Goodreads Ratings Correlate to Sales?”, answered affirmatively. (Her post is inspired by Mark Lawrence’s earlier “What do Goodreads ratings say about sales?”)

(10) Misty Massey says there are reasons for not “Breaking the Rules” at Magical Words.

And one more that’s happened recently (and been done by more than one person)  “If you’re new to us, send us a writing sample of the first five pages of your published work.” And instead, you send us a link to your website. Sure, that website may have oodles of your work on it, but you just showed us that you can’t follow simple instructions. Why would I believe I should work with you?

The point of all this is to make sure you guys who DO follow the rules and who DO read the guidelines carefully know that we on the other end of those guidelines appreciate the effort you take. We may not open our next letter to you with the words “I see that you followed our guidelines” but you can just bet that you’re even hearing from us because you did. And one other thing to remember…publishing is a tightly-knit business. If you behave in a jerkish manner, breaking rules and skipping guidelines for one editor, don’t be surprised when another editor seems uninterested in working with you.  Word gets around.

(11) Rachael Acks’ contribution to SF Signal’s MIND MELD: Must hear audio fiction, accidentally left out of the main article, appeared today.

I listen to a lot of audio books, because I’ll have them playing while I’m describing core, processing data, or driving. (And I tend to listen to them over and over again, since I will miss things sometimes.) The two authors whose audiobooks I own the most of are Lois McMaster Bujold and NK Jemisin. I’m not sure if that’s because their work lends itself particularly well to the format, or just because I love everything they write anyway. I actually didn’t own a written copy of any of Bujold’s books until this year, and reading it normally felt weird—so many things weren’t spelled the way I thought they would be. This also made reading The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms after I’d listened to it first a slightly odd experience.

(12) Jim C. Hines says it’s time for a “NaNoWriMo Pep Talk” about hitting the wall.

This is the time in Jim’s writing process where, like Charlie Brown kicking at that elusive football, I lose my footing and end up flat on my back, staring into the sky and wondering what the heck just happened.

My shiny new idea isn’t quite so shiny anymore. I’ve gotten lots of words down, but they don’t exactly match what I was imagining. And this next part of the outline doesn’t make any sense at all, now that I think about it more closely. Good grief, the Jim who was outlining this thing last month is an idiot. And now I have to fix his mess….

(13) Today’s Birthday Boy

  • Born November 9, 1934 – Carl Sagan

(14) Today In History

  • November 9, 1984Silent Night, Deadly Night premieres. To protest the film, critics Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel read the credits out loud on their television show saying, “Shame, shame, shame” after each name.

(15) Contrary to what some people may believe, John Scalzi’s cat Zeus does not require any more attention from the internet than he’s already getting.

One, he’s perfectly fine, merely not at the center of my public discussion of cats in the last week as he neither a) a kitten, b) a newly-passed on senior cat. You should be aware that Zeus has been perfectly fine not being the center of media attention in the last several days, as he is a cat and has not the slightest idea either that I write about my cats here, or that any of you have any idea who he is. But he is alive and well and doing what he does.

(16) “A Death Star Filled With Plastic Stormtroopers Is a Better Bucket of Army Men” opines Andrew Lizsewski at Toyland.

If there’s one toy that defines cheap and mass-produced, it’s those buckets full of tiny green plastic army men. They really stop being desirable once you turn six, except when those plastic soldiers are replaced with tiny white stormtroopers led by an equally tiny Darth Vader.

 

Star Wars army men

(17) Alastair Reynolds tells what it was like to be a huge fan of the original Star Wars at Approaching Pavonis Mons by balloon.

Through that summer, I collected complete sets of both the blue and red-bordered bubble-gum cards. In that autumn, as I started at The Big School (Pencoed Comprehensive, where I still help out with creative writing workshops) I got hold of George Lucas’s novel of the film. Yes, it was amazing, wasn’t it, that George Lucas had not only found time to make this film, but also scribble down a novelisation of it? It was only later that Alan Dean Foster was credited, but not on my edition. It was a shiny paperback with a yellow cover and a set of colour photos stitched into the middle. It was a holy relic, as far as I was concerned, and when I accidentally dented one of the corners, I felt as if my world had ended. I also got the 7″ disco-funk version of the Star Wars music:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meco

Which was only the third record I’d ever bought, after the Jaws theme and Queen’s We Are The Champions.

(18) If Reynolds doesn’t know these 12 facts about Yoda already, he soon will.

When Stuart Freeborn, the make-up artist who was tasked with creating Yoda, looked into a mirror, he saw Yoda. No, it wasn’t a Disney magic mirror, but rather it was Freeborn’s own reflection that inspired Yoda’s final look.

When Freeborn modeled himself and started sculpting Yoda, he emphasized his bald scalp, wrinkles, and pointed chin in order to bring Yoda into the world. According to Freeborn, the only part of Yoda that wasn’t based on himself was the upper lip, in which he removed the famous mustache of Albert Einstein and ported it onto Yoda’s face. This move was meant by Freeborn to trigger a subconscious association in the audience with Einstein’s intelligence and wisdom, thus making Yoda appear intelligent before he even spoke a word of advice in his lovable, fractured English.

(19) Even before the internet you couldn’t believe everything you read as Matt Staggs proves in “Four Times Science Almost Flew Off The Rails: Bat Men On The Moon, Phantom Planets, Ghosts, and The Hollow Earth” at Suvudu.

2) When We Thought Bat People Lived On The Moon Ah, 19th century New York City: a place where the lanterns burned all night, Bill the Butcher and his gang of Know-Nothings spattered the streets with blood, and four-foot tall bat people looked down upon it all from their home on the moon. What, you don’t know about the flying lunar bat people? That’s because they were the invention of a master troll named Matthew Goodman, editor of the Sun newspaper.

(20) “Mariah Carey To Run LEGO Gotham City” says SciFi4Me:

Singer and actress Mariah Carey has joined the cast of The LEGO Batman Movie.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, she’ll voice the mayor of Gotham City. This report is contrary to a Deadline report that she would be playing Commissioner Gordon — which only works if she’s playing Commissioner Barbara Gordon from the animated Batman Beyond. Of course, that’s completely possible, too, given how the first LEGO Movie mashed up characters from all over the story multiverse….

The LEGO Batman Movie is scheduled for release on February 10, 2017,

(21) This just in – eight years ago.

Alrugo Entertainment, bring you: ITALIAN SPIDERMAN Unearthed for the first time in 40 years and lovingly restored at Alrugo Studios Milan, this rare theatrical trailer for the 1968 Italian classic ‘Italian Spiderman’ is a real treat. Featuring Franco Franchetti of ‘Mondo Sexo’ fame in his last ever role before being killed in a spear fishing accident in 1969. Alrugo entertainment will be releasing the FULL, remastered ITALIAN SPIDERMAN film on the web starting MAY 22. STAY TUNED

 

Italian Spiderman has its own Wikipedia article!

Italian Spiderman is an Australian film parody of Italian action–adventure films of the 60s and 70s, first released on YouTube in 2007. The parody purports to be a “lost Italian film” by Alrugo Entertainment, an Australian film-making collective formed by Dario Russo, Tait Wilson, David Ashby, Will Spartalis and Boris Repasky.

Ostensibly an Italian take on the comic book superhero Spider-Man, the film is a reference to foreign movies that misappropriate popular American superheroes such as the Turkish film “3 Dev Adam”, and licensed series such as the Japanese TV series “Spider-Man”, both of which alter the character of Spider-Man for foreign audiences. Other notable entries include the Indian version of Superman (1987), I fantastici tre supermen (3 Fantastic Supermen) (1967) and La Mujer Murcielago (The Batwoman) (1968).

(22) A Robot Chicken video, “The Nerd on The CW,” parodies Arrow and The Flash.

[Thanks to Mark-kitteh, Dawn Sabados, Tom Galloway, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peter J.]