Pixel Scroll 10/14 The pixel will see you now…

(1) What could be more appropriate to continue a discussion launched in yesterday’s Scroll than Jurassic Park: High Heels Edition! Thanks to Cathy for dropping this into the comments.

(2) “Emperor Palpatine and Sauron in the Afterlife” by Steve Ogden. Here is the first frame of the comic —

Sauron COMP

This crazy comic sprung from a Twitter conversation I was having with Scott King. He said he was considering writing an essay, the events of Star Wars as seen from Emperor Palpatine’s point of view. I said it would be a terrible idea, but really funny, to have a conversation in the afterlife between two dead bad guys, sort of swapping horror stories about how badly everything went for them at the hands of the Good Guys. Scott admitted it was both terrible and funny, and why don’t I go write it then. So I did, and here you have it.

(3) That was a strange experience – reading Alexandra Erin’s “Millennial Pledge: Trouble Edition”, which translates “Trouble in River City” into a bullet-pointed blog post.

(4) Recommended: Ty Templeton’s comic ”What if Bob Kane has created Bat-Man without Bill Finger?”

(5) Most of “The 20 Biggest Bombshells J.K. Rowling’s Dropped Since ‘Harry Potter’ Ended” are less cheerful than —

chocolate frogs COMP

Chocolate Frogs

Harry, Ron and Hermione all wound up with their own chocolate frog cards, which Ron reported as his “finest hour.”

Harry’s card says that he is “the first and only known wizard to survive the Killing Curse, most famous for the defeat of the most dangerous dark wizard of all time, Lord Voldemort.”

Ron’s card gives him credit for “destroying the Horcruxes and subsequent defeat of Voldemort and revolutionizing the Ministry of Magic.”

On hers, Hermione gets credit for being “the brightest witch of her age” and that she “eradicated pro-pureblood laws” and campaigned for “the rights of non human beings such as house-elves.”

(6) Remember the Star Wars blooper reported by Screen Rant that I posted here the other day? Io9 checked with Mark Hamill who says it never happened.

Instead of calling Carrie Fisher’s name out, Hamill insists that he started to say “There she is!”—dialogue provided in ADR that was cut short by Leia and Luke’s embrace.

(7) “Make Sure to Check Your Camera Settings” — a funny Flash reference at Cheezburger.

(8) Today In History –

(9) John ONeill profiled The Complete Short Fiction of Clifford D. Simak, Volumes 1-3 at Black Gate.

The lack of a complete collection of Clifford D. Simak’s short stories has been keenly felt among many old-school fans. So as you can imagine, I was delighted to discover that Open Road Media has undertaken the first comprehensive collection of all of Simak’s short stories — including his science fiction, fantasy, and western fiction. The first three books, I Am Crying All Inside, The Big Front Yard, and The Ghost of a Model T, go on sale later this month.

All three, like all six volumes announced so far, are edited by David W. Wixon, the Executor of Simak’s Literary Estate. Wixon, a close friend of Simak, contributes an introduction to each volume, and short intros to each story, providing a little background on its publishing history and other interesting tidbits.

As a special treat the first volume, I Am Crying All Inside, includes the never-before-published “I Had No Head and My Eyes Were Floating Way Up in the Air,” originally written in 1973 for Harlan Ellison’s famously unpublished anthology Last Dangerous Visions, and finally pried out of Ellison’s unrelenting grip after 42 very long years.

(10) Margaret Hamilton’s pioneering work on NASA computers is covered by Wired in “Her code got humans on the moon – and invented software itself”.

Then, as now, “the guys” dominated tech and engineering. Like female coders in today’s diversity-challenged tech industry, Hamilton was an outlier. It might surprise today’s software makers that one of the founding fathers of their boys’ club was, in fact, a mother—and that should give them pause as they consider why the gender inequality of the Mad Men era persists to this day.

As Hamilton’s career got under way, the software world was on the verge of a giant leap, thanks to the Apollo program launched by John F. Kennedy in 1961. At the MIT Instrumentation Lab where Hamilton worked, she and her colleagues were inventing core ideas in computer programming as they wrote the code for the world’s first portable computer. She became an expert in systems programming and won important technical arguments. “When I first got into it, nobody knew what it was that we were doing. It was like the Wild West. There was no course in it. They didn’t teach it,” Hamilton says.

She’s an unsung heroine of Apollo 8, because she got them home after a fatal input error in the spacecraft somebody at NASA insisted would never happen.

(11) Scientists measured the erosion of terrestrial river rocks to deduce — “Pebbles on Mars Shaped by Ancient Long-Gone Rivers Dozens of Miles Long”.

Using publicly available images of the rounded pebbles on Mars from the Curiosity rover mission, the scientists calculated that those rocks had lost about 20 percent of their volume. When they factored in the reduced Martian gravity, which is only about 40 percent of Earth’s, they estimated that the pebbles had traveled about 30 miles (50 km) from their source, perhaps from the northern rim of Gale Crater.

(12) NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has been used to produced new maps of Jupiter – the first in a series of annual portraits of the solar system’s outer planets.

New imagery from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope is revealing details never before seen on Jupiter. High-resolution maps and spinning globes (rendered in the 4k Ultra HD format) are the first products to come from a program to study the solar system’s outer planets each year using Hubble. The observations are designed to capture a broad range of features, including winds, clouds, storms and atmospheric chemistry. These annual studies will help current and future scientists see how such giant worlds change over time.

 

(13) Well, this is bizarre, but extremely well-edited (NSFW) humor video, a mashup of Hitchcock’s movies with Jimmy Stewart and Kubrick’s sf/horror movies.

(14) Free Nick Mamatas!

No, no, you don’t need to bail him out — just read his story free on the Glittership webpage (or listen to it on the podcast) — Episode #18 — “Eureka!” by Nick Mamatas.

Adam hadn’t worn the crushed velvet blouse in his hands for a long time. It was from his goth phase, twenty pounds and twenty years prior. He shuddered at the thought of it distending around his spare tire these days, but he couldn’t bring himself to put it in the box he’d set aside for Out of the Closet either. And not only because it would be embarrassing if anyone saw it.

There were memories in the wrinkles of the velvet—well, not memories exactly. Half-memories, images and glimpses and smells. Two decades of gimlets and bad decisions and a few teeth and a trio of cross-country moves. What was the place? It was Huggy Bear’s on Thursdays, when they played disco for a majority black clientele, but on most nights it was just The Bank. A real bank, in the sepia-toned days when great-grandma worked in an Orchard Street sweatshop, a goth/darkwave club now….

(15) Kameron Hurley interviewed at SFFWorld:

With The Mirror Empire, you’ve challenged many genre assumptions/expectations/tropes, most notably genre roles and expectations.  What other genre expectations did you seek to challenge but instead readers accepted easily?

So far readers have pretty much balked at everything I thought they would, though I admit I’ve been surprised at the reactions to Anavha, which were far more perplexed and passionate than I anticipated. It seemed like a fairly straightforward plotline to me, but putting characters with unexpected genders into those roles surprised people. I think it really made them think hard about reading abusive relationships like that in other books.

(16) Steve Davidson, taking as his sample the recommendations made so far at Sad Puppies 4, theorizes quite reasonably that works available for free are more likely to be recommended for awards. By implication, he wonders what will happen to authors who like to get paid.

I do believe that there is a distinct trend represented:  freely available, easily accessible works may very well swamp the nominations – if those works are given a little initial traction by readers, like including them on a recommendation list, because (I belabor), the fewer “objections” you place between a consumer and a potentially desirable product, the more likely they are to “buy”.  In other words, “click here and invest a few minutes” is far more attractive than “click here, pull out your credit card, wait for delivery, invest a few minutes”.

(17) Brandon Kempner latest survey “Hugo/Nebula Contenders and Popularity, October 2015” for Chaos Horizons. I’m late picking this up, and as Kempner notes in the post, Leckie’s book was still on the way when he wrote it.

Last year, I tried to track Goodreads stats a measure of popularity. This year, I’m tracking both Amazon and Goodreads.

I’ve been disappointed in both of those measures; neither seems particularly accurate or consistent, and they don’t seem to predict the eventual Hugo/Nebula winner at all. What is useful about them, though, is getting at least an early picture of what is popular and what is not. I do believe there is a minimum popularity cut off, where if you fall below a certain level (1000-2000 Goodreads votes), you don’t have much of a shot at winning a Hugo or Nebula. This also allows good comparisons between books that are similar to each other. If you think Uprooted and Sorcerer to the Crown are both contenders as “experimental”-ish fantasy books, one of those (Uprooted) is 10 times more popular than the other. If you had to pick between one of them being nominated, go with Novik.

(18) Dawn Witzke, in “Taking Sides” , says George R.R. Martin has convinced her to pick a side.

[GRRM] I have no objection to someone starting a people’s choice award for SF. Hell, I might even win it, since I have the sort of mass following that tends to dominate such awards. But it would not be as meaningful to me as winning a Hugo.

[Nitzke] There is no need to start a people’s choice award for SFF, one already exists. You may have heard of it, it’s called the Hugo Awards. And, I believe you might have won one of those once. After reading Game of Thrones, I can say it was definitely worthy of Hugo. (Trust me, that’s not a good thing.)

I do want to thank you, Mr. Martin. Without your rich elitist bullshit, I might have continued to sit on the sidelines again this year. Instead, I will be forking over the cash for a membership, because those of us who can’t afford to blow money on cons are just as much true fans as those who can. So you can go stuff it in your asterisk.

(19) Not everyone is tired of the subject —

https://twitter.com/horriblychris/status/654462570842091520

(20) Talk about a really sad puppy – William Shatner:

William Shatner is exploring strange new worlds in trash-talking his former “Star Trek” co-star George Takei.

Shatner, who played Captain James T. Kirk on the iconic sci-fi series, lashed out at Takei in an interview with Australia’s news.com.au published Monday.

“He is a very disturbed individual, the truth of the matter is,” Shatner said of Takei, who played Hikaru Sulu on the series and subsequent movie franchise. “I don’t know him. I haven’t seen him in 25 years, I don’t know what he is up to. It is not a question that has any meaning to me. It is like asking about George Foreman or something.”

And when asked about director J.J. Abrams, who is currently filming Star Trek Beyond, he told the Australian press:

“No matter what plans I make it is J.J. Abrams who makes the plans and no I don’t think he is planning anything with me,” Shatner said. “I would love to. In one year it will be our 50th anniversary and that is incredible.”

(21) “California nixes warrantless search of digital data”

In what’s being called a landmark victory for digital privacy, California police will no longer be able to get their hands on user data without first getting a warrant from a judge.

Governor Jerry Brown on Thursday signed the California Electronic Communications Privacy Act (CalECPA), SB 178, which requires state law enforcement to get a warrant before they can access electronic information about who we are, where we go, who we know, and what we do.

US privacy rights groups have long been concerned that law enforcement hasn’t considered it necessary to get a search warrant before they can search messages, email, photos and other digital data stored on mobile phones or company servers.

States such as California, tired of waiting around for Congress to update 29-year-old federal electronic privacy statutes, are taking reform into their own hands.

(22) H.G. Wells took a shot at foretelling the future — “A Peek Ahead” at Futility Closet tells you how well he scored.

Readers of the London Evening Standard saw a startling headline on Nov. 10, 1971: “The Prophecy H.G. Wells Made About Tonight’s Standard.” Wells had published a story in 1932 in which a man unaccountably receives a copy of the newspaper from 40 years in the future. “He found himself surveying a real evening newspaper,” Wells wrote, “which was dealing so far as he could see at the first onset, with the affairs of another world.”

Most of “The Queer Story of Brownlow’s Newspaper” is devoted to Wells’ prophecies regarding world events in 1971, and most of these, unfortunately, are misses. Newspapers today are printed in color and the Soviet Union has fallen, but geothermal energy has not replaced the age of combustion, body clothing has not (quite) been reduced to a minimum, finance and nationalism still thrive, gorillas are not extinct, the human birthrate has not dropped to “seven in the thousand,” and there are no plans to add a 13th month to the year.

(23) Here’s a massive cosplay photo gallery from New York Comic Con. (Activate by clicking on arrows in upper right corner of image displayed for Slideshow #1 and Slideshow #2.)

Look for an amazing Raiden, an outstanding Mr. Freeze, a spot-on Nosferatu, and a glorious Muto from Godzilla. Spider-Woman, Hawkgirl, Princess Amidala, Mystique, gender-swapped Booster Gold, Ratchet, Venom… the list goes on and on! Take a look at the slideshows below and share your favorites in the comments!

(24) The sf magazine market contraction predicted by Neil Clarke is not far off, but L. Jagi Lamplighter doesn’t want it to begin with Sci Phi Journal, so she is making an appeal for donations.

Jagi, here.  I learned this morning that Sci Phi Journal needs help.

For those who don’t know it, Sci Phi Journal offers science fiction stories that have a philosophy to them. It is one of the few periodicals offering a place to the kind of stories that Sad Puppies stood for…in fact, it was on the Hugo ballot this year, as was one of the stories that appeared in it (“On A Spiritual Plain” by Lou Antonelli).

Sci Phi offers a venue for the very kinds of stories that we all want to read but seldom get to see. It features some of the best new authors, like Josh Young and Brian Niemeyer, and a number of others. Both John and I have had stories appear in its pages.

It would be a real shame if it folded!

What can you all do to help?

If you should feel moved to make a donation, you can do so here. (The donate button is on the right. You may need to page down.)

(25) Monty Python’s Terry Gilliam will appear at Live Talks Los Angeles on October 19, 2015 at the Alex Theatre. It’s the launch event for Gilliam’s memoir. He gave an interview to a local paper to promote the appearance.

Terry Gilliam

What led you to write the book?

It really was supposed to be a book about just my art — whatever my art is — starting with childhood cartoons. My daughter Holly assembled a chronology of the work I’ve done. I would sit with a microphone and talk about it. Somewhere along the line, the publisher says “Oh, God, this is better as an autobiography.” It ended up being that, even though it’s a very incomplete one. I refer to it as my “Grand Theft Autobiography.” It’s a high-speed chase, crashing around the place, a lot of bodies left all over the place. It’s not the great summation of my life in the last hours of my life.

What was your reaction when you started digging into the art you had made?

I was surprised because I don’t linger in the past. Things I’d done over the years had been filed away. Holly had been archiving and dredging this stuff out. The other day I found something and I thought, “God, I can’t believe I could draw that well 20 years ago!” I can’t draw that well anymore.

(26) A Back To The Future prediction still has an opportunity to come true.

At one moment in the 1989 film a billboard reveals the Chicago Cubs have won the 2015 World Series, the joke being that the Cubs hadn’t won the baseball World Series since 1908 and likely never would do.

“A hundred-to-one shot,” the charity fundraiser jokes with Marty, “I wish I could go back to the beginning of the season and put some money on the Cubs!”

But now it’s looking like the Chicago team could actually win the 2015 World Series.

The Chicago Cubs beat the St. Louis Cardinals this week to proceed to the National League Championship Series (NLCS) and will face the New York Mets or LA Dodgers on Saturday for the chance to play in the coveted World Series. Think of it as a sort of regional semi-final for the biggest game of the baseball season.

The film’s writer Bob Gale said he chose the Cubs as the winning 2015 team as a joke, saying: “Being a baseball fan, I thought, ‘OK, let’s come up with one of the most unlikely scenarios we can think of’.”

The Dodgers, if they advance, will have to start the back end of their rotation which would really boost the Cubs’ chances. No time-traveling DeLorean will be swooping in from 1963 delivering Koufax and Drysdale to save LA.

(27) A high-tech prank — Real Mjolnir (Electromagnet, Fingerprint Scanner)

A replica of Mjolnir (Thor’s Hammer) from The Avengers that’s pretty much unliftable unless you’ve got my fingerprints!

 

[Thanks to Cathy, David K.M. Klaus, Will R.,and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]

Monty Python and the Holy Grail 40th Anniversary Trailer

In honor of Monty Python and the Holy Grail‘s 40th Anniversary, a brand new sing-a-long version of the movie will be shown in 500 UK theaters on October 14.

An updated trailer promoting the theatrical showing has new voiceovers from Terry Jones and Michael Palin.

The October 14 screening will be accompanied by a specially filmed, exclusive, introductions from Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam, Michael Palin, Eric Idle and John Cleese.

Audiences are encouraged to come along dressed up as their favorite ‘Holy Grail’ character.

Pixel Scroll 8/4 The Dead Wallaby of Clown Town

Money, money, money – we cover the spectrum from scarcity to infinite wealth in today’s Scroll.

(1) David Pascoe (“Trekking With The Green-Eyed Monster” on According To Hoyt) knows something that nobody else knows. ‘Cause he made it up:

It occurs, what with the Hugo voting just finished, and the results to be announced in a couple of week, that most of the Puppy Kickers are suffering from an excess of envy. I mean, think about it: the prospect of Jim Butcher (or Kevin Anderson, etc.) receiving a shiny, rocket-shaped object is so painful to them that they’re willing to ruin the award’s (remaining shreds of) credibility to prevent it. It’s accepted wisdom at this point that a move to limit voting to attending memberships will be advanced at the WSFS business meeting at Sasquan. While there’s a good deal of speculation over whether such a motion will even get approved (what then, would supporting members get for their hard earned filthy lucre? How could WorldCon possibly garner any kind of diverse, international support by shutting out anybody who can’t afford to fly across an ocean to come to the majority of conventions?), that it’s not reduced to backroom rumor mills is a sign of how strong the desire is to keep out the undesirable types.

Use this link to keep track of new business actually submitted to Sasquan.

(2) Bob Eggleton has some more anecdotes and critiques about Worldcon art shows, and in the last paragraph alludes to professional shows that are competing effectively for artists’ attention, which may be the most important influence on the fate of the Worldcon art show.

Illuxcon had risen in 2008 and, it started being for many pro artists the model for such a quality artshow. Security, professional hangings, a sense of overall quality to the show and one where artists, art fans and art collectors could come and be treated all well. No politics or stupidity or getting caught in some “fan” feud or political battle. Everyone gets on. Everyone does fairly well. Spectrum Live also fills a similar need. So maybe there is hope, but it requires a new and consistent sustainable model for such shows.

(3) Ahrvid Engholm’s post about Girl With The Dragon Tattoo author Stieg Larsson at Europa SF reminds readers about Larsson’s beginnings as a fanzine fan, and draws attention to a successor’s work on a new Millennium series novel that is coming out late this month.

An avid science fiction reader from an early age, he became active in Swedish science fiction fandom around 1971; co-edited, together with Rune Forsgren his first fanzine, Sfären, in 1972; and attended his first science fiction convention, SF•72, in Stockholm. Through the 1970s, Larsson published around 30 additional fanzine issues; after his move to Stockholm in 1977, he became active in the Scandinavian SF Society where he was a board member in 1978 and 1979, and chairman in 1980. In his first fanzines, 1972–74, he published a handful of early short stories, while submitting others to other semi-professional or amateur magazines. He was co-editor or editor of several science fiction fanzines, including Sfären and FIJAGH!; in 1978–79, he was president of the largest Swedish science-fiction fan club, Skandinavisk Förening för Science Fiction (SFSF).

The Swedish morning paper Dagens Nyheter August the 2nd published an “exclusive diary” by David Lagercrantz, covering his work with writing the new Millennium novel.

(4) Responding to a report that “Most of the [Hugo] votes were cast in the final week before the deadline, over 3,000,” Vox Day suggests —

Something to consider: on July 24th, I posted my complete Hugo recommendations. I am NOT saying those are all Puppy votes, only that there may be a connection.

(5) J. A. Micheline explains “Why I’m Boycotting Marvel Comics” at Comics Alliance.

First, came your quiet decision to hand the new Blade book over to two white creators. To be clear, I have no reason to think either creator will do a bad job on this book, but I was disappointed that one of Marvel’s most prominent black heroes would be handed to white people yet again.

I feel like I have to say this five or six times. Whenever this comes up, I get a tsunami of white people wondering what my problem is and suggesting I’m racist for saying white people can’t write about people of color. It’s not that white people can’t; it’s not even that they shouldn’t (except in some circumstances that I have written about almost ad nauseam recently) — it’s that white people are the ones who, historically and systemically, are consistently offered the opportunity. And in 2015, perhaps the right thing to do is to let people of color have a turn.

But that wasn’t the dealbreaker for Micheline, it was the string of gaffes that followed, beginning with —

The moment you and I really started having a problem, Marvel, was when your editor-in-chief all but laughed off the numerous critiques of the variants. Axel Alonso’s interview with CBR was unspeakably condescending and horrendously dismissive. From using scare quotes to frame the discussion to referring, to outcry from David Brothers and other readers/critics as a “small but very loud contingent,” to — and this is the part that I pretty much can’t forgive — indicating that we had suddenly learned the phrase ‘cultural appropriation’ and were eager to use it in an essay.

(6) Monty Python’s Terry Gilliam will appear at Live Talks Los Angeles on October 19, 2015 at the Alex Theatre. It’s the launch event for Gilliam’s memoir.

Gilliamesque-hc-s-227x300In Gilliamesque, his “pre-posthumous memoir,” he offers an intimate glimpse into his world in this fascinating book illustrated with hand-drawn sketches, notes, and memorabilia from his personal archive.

From his no-frills childhood in the icy wastes of Minnesota, to some of the hottest water Hollywood had to offer, via the cutting edge of 1960s and ’70s counter-culture in New York, L.A. and London, Terry Gilliam’s life has been as vivid, entertaining and unorthodox as one of his films.

(7) Larry Correia is selling a second series of challenge coins. Jack Wylder gives the details at the link.

2) Instead we’re doing it through the MHI Swag page: https://mhiswag.myshopify.com/ Important: Do NOT order yet! Wait until all 12 designs are finalized and up there so you only have to order once. Even if you’re planning on buying a complete set, hold off- we have a few other items we’ll be introducing along the way that might interest you. In fact, I’m not even going to put them on the site until all has been revealed…

This is the first of the series —

ProvisionalPUFF

(8) At Bloomberg, Noah Smith writes about “Star Trek Economics: Life After the Dismal Science”.

I grew up watching “Star Trek: The Next Generation” (easily the best of the Star Trek shows). There’s one big, obvious thing missing from the future society depicted in the program. No one is doing business. There is almost no one buying and selling, except for a few species for whom commerce is a form of traditional religion. Food and luxuries are free, provided by “replicators” — machines capable of creating essentially anything from pure energy. Recreation, provided by virtual reality, is infinite in scope. Scarcity — the central defining concept of economics — seems to have been eliminated.

Is this really the future? Is it possible? Is it something we want?

Wait ‘til Smith discovers the Culture novels of Iain M. Banks…

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kurt Busiek.]

Hey, You! Get Offa My Lawn!

In a video shown during the Monty Python Live (mostly) news conference in London, Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones derides the comedy troupe’s reunion concerts as “a bunch of wrinkly old men trying to relive their youth and make a load of money.”

Jagger, busy watching the World Cup with another member of the Stones, Charlie Watts, refuses an offer of tickets: “Who wants to see that again? It was funny in the 60s.”

The five Pythons will put on 10 live shows this week at the O2 arena in southeast London.

Eric Idle is directing the shows. He told CNN they will perform many of their best-known sketches, plus new material. “Our motto has been ‘leave them wanting less.”

Monty Python And Doctor Who Coming To Theaters

Tenth_Doctor_bFathom Events is turning July into a fan service month.

David Tennant will headline a one-ticket/two event extravaganza on July 16-17. The first night he will star as Doctor Who in Rise of the Cybermen and The Age of Steel, seamlessly tied together as a continuous story, and give an interview about his experiences as the Tenth Doctor. On the second night, ticket holders will return to see nature documentary Wings 3D, and hear Tennant’s narration.

Then Monty Python fans will be able to see the group’s reunion at London’s O2 Arena on July 20.

For the first time in over three decades, comedy legends Monty Python will be performing live on stage together at London’s famed O2 Arena. At a combined age of just 361, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin will once again perform some of their greatest hits, with modern, topical, Python-esque twists.

Monty Python Live (Mostly) will broadcast live to theaters across the U.S. and will rebroadcast on July 23-24. Fathom Events is selling tickets here.Monty_python_foot

Monty Python Together Again

Five surviving members of Monty Python are expected to announce plans to reunite for their first live performances since 1998 at a press conference on Thursday.

[Terry] Jones suggested that a certain motivating force had helped the troupe members overcome any personal animosities that may have developed over the years.

“I’m quite excited about it,” he told the BBC, regarding the planned reunion. “I hope it makes us a lot of money. I hope to be able to pay off my mortgage!”

The first episode of Monty Python’s Flying Circus was broadcast in October 1969. While several of the individuals are still active and successful performers, the average age of the principals is 71.4 and people wonder if they can still deliver laughs as a troupe.

Actor and musician Neil Innes, who appeared in two Pythons’ films quipped in a BBC interview, “The idea of John doing the silly walks with two false hips is very amusing.”

Monty Python Flies Again, Sorta

Members of Monty Python’s Flying Circus will do the voices of aliens in Absolutely Anything, a science fiction comedy combining CGI and live action. Terry Jones will direct, reports Variety.

And Robin Williams will voice the character of a talking dog.

The five surviving members of Monty Python last appeared together in 1998 at the Aspen Comedy Festival along with an urn that allegedly contained the ashes of late member Graham Chapman.

John Cleese’s Alimony Tour

John Cleese will perform his one-man show, “A Final Wave at the World (or the Alimony Tour, Year One)” at the Alex Theatre in Glendale on November 14. That’s literally next door to the Mystery and Imagination Bookstore which has hosted so many of the Bradbury events reported here.

A Glendale News-Press reporter interviewed the Monty Python veteran and got some remarkably frank answers:

Q: Is your tour something you had been wanting to do for a while?

A: No, no. Not at all. It was just that, as I said, I do have to earn a million a year to hand over in alimony and that means I’ve got to get out and earn money and this is not a very good time.

Cleese said he enjoyed the Monty Python troupe’s recent reunion very much, prompting this question:

Q: Any chance of a new project together following this seemingly renewed group chemistry?

A: I don’t know what we’d do really because it always took us a long time to write whatever we were up to and it’s very clear Eric has done some terrific work for “Spamalot,” but he doesn’t really want to work with us. He doesn’t want to cooperate with us artistically or creatively. Because I offered to work with him, even without Monty Python, but ?he didn’t really want to do that. So I think he likes to work on his own.

Cleese is 70. He has been living in Southern California for the last decade.

Monty Python Documentary on IFC

This will be the second post of the day to mention Mike Glicksohn. During Torcon II he introduced a room party full of American fans to Monty Python’s Flying Circus, then being aired on Canadian television but not in the U.S. The episode — The Spanish Inquisition — fulfilled even the wildest expectations. We went home wishing for more. Fortunately, the series began running on PBS at the end of 1974.

That party came to mind when I read in today’s Los Angeles Times that the 40th anniversary of Monty Python’s British debut is being commemorated by a six-hour documentary series, “Monty Python: Almost the Truth (The Lawyer’s Cut),” beginning October 18 on the Independent Film Channel.

The Independent Film Channel publicized the program by reuniting the five surviving members of the troupe in New York on October 15 for a public “conversation” at the premiere of a feature-length theatrical cut. The Monty Python Reunion can be viewed online:

Watch the historic event reuniting all five surviving members of the Monty Python team — John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin — as they take to the stage for a Q&A discussion with the audience.