Celebrating Sean Connery
On His Birthday

By Steve Vertlieb: Remembering Sir Sean Connery, born August 25th, 1930, whose larger than life cinematic exploits, and joyous masculinity brought exhilaration, vibrant sexuality, and swashbuckling romance to the motion picture screen and who left us, sadly, on October 31st of last year.

Sean Connery, the iconic actor and super star whose irresistible presence on the motion screen happily dominated our lives for nearly sixty years died at age ninety. Few actors of his or any other generation possessed the wit, charisma, and staggering masculinity that this remarkably gifted actor brought to the screen. With the probable exception of Cary Grant, with whom Connery shared male dominance and magnetism, no other actor before or since has attracted both men and women with his nearly startling sexuality.

Born August 25, 1930, Connery achieved international recognition with his smoldering portrayal of Ian Fleming’s James Bond in Dr. No in 1962. Although he’d appeared in relatively minor parts in a variety of television and movie roles, it was his remarkable major screen debut as James Bond in 1962 that instantaneously, and deservedly, elevated him to super star status.

Connery followed his singular appearance as “Bond … James Bond” in Dr. No with six additional star turns as the invulnerable secret agent in From Russia With Love (1963), Goldfinger (the definitive Bond thriller in 1964), Thunderball (1965), You Only Live Twice (1967), Diamonds Are Forever (1971) and, finally, in Never Say Never Again, (1983) whose clever title noted the irony of his having said repeatedly that he’d never play the part again. Having played Bond in seven motion pictures, Connery established himself as the definitive characterization of Fleming’s deadly British agent.

After this last performance as the impeccably tailored spy, Connery defied critics who’d complained about his being a single dimensional actor, by joyously emerging as one of the finest character actors of our time. In such films as Darby O’Gill and The Little People for Disney (1959), Marnie for Alfred Hitchcock (1964), The Hill (1965), The Anderson Tapes (1971), and Zardoz (1974), Connery proved to his critics that he was, indeed, a gifted, dangerously provocative performer.

Six of his most joyous, exquisitely layered performances followed in the years that lay before him. As the irascible, inherently masculine “Raisuli” in the enormously entertaining John Milius film The Wind And The Lion, Connery’s striking individuality quite literally lit the screen with his colorful interpretation as the leader of a noble Arab tribe, timed imaginatively by Jerry Goldsmith’s electrifying musical score.

As the sadly proud, yet vulnerable Robin Hood in Robin And Marian (1976), Connery showed rare sensitivity and elegance as the aging warrior whose difficulty transitioning from young rebel to graceful elder champion wove poetic lyricism to the legend of Robin, accompanied by composer John Barry’s wistfully romantic themes.

For John Huston’s epic 1975 film translation of Rudyard Kipling’s The Man Who Would Be King, the actor delivered one of his most delicious, multi-textured performances as a loveable rogue whose innocent aspirations to royalty, and desire to achieve something greater in his lifetime, leads to dire, unexpected consequences beyond his boyish vision, dreams, and hope filled enthusiasm.

In The Untouchables (1987) for director Brian De Palma, Sean Connery’s Oscar winning performance as “Malone,” the simple cop on the beat whose street intelligence and long tenured wisdom helped Eliot Ness bring down Capone, would at long last silence the critics who had cynically predicted his rapid departure and absence from the screen after leaving the lucrative “Bond” franchise.

For Steven Spielberg, Connery would deliver his most wonderful portrayal, perhaps, as the colorful, cantankerous Professor Henry Jones as Harrison Ford’s father in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1987), elevating another beloved franchise to sublime levels of joyous delight and perfection. Connery’s comedic gifts and unexpected pathos turned this third entry of the iconic film series into its most beloved chapter.

For First Knight (1995), a highly romanticized screen version of the Arthurian legend, Connery was at his most regal in his performance as literature’s legendary King Arthur. Bringing both nobility and grace to a classic role that only he, in suave maturity, could deliver, Connery once again brought quiet dignity and eloquence to the image of expiring royalty in the face of danger and finality.

Sean Connery has left us, but his indelible face and distinctive voice shall remain forever burned into the haunting imagery of the motion picture screen. We came alive in the sweet mirror of your artistry. Rest Well, Sir Sean. May angels sing you to your rest on this melancholy anniversary of your birth.

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Film Anniversary: Celebrate or Not?

By Cat Eldridge: Eighteen years ago today, the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen film premiered. It was  bastardized off the first volume of the series of the same name by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill. It was produced by committee, I think to keep anyone from being blamed for what happened, and Sean Connery is listed as one of the producers. I doubt he actually did anything. 

Speaking of Connery, he one of the cast which also including Naseeruddin Shah, Peta Wilson, Tony Curran, Stuart Townsend, Shane West, Jason Flemyng and Richard Roxburgh. The casting was one of the places where it went awry wrong from the source material as Pet Wilson’s Mina Harker character is a vampire even though in the novel she’s freed from the curse, the second is Shane West as Tom Sawyer, a casting done at the insistence of the studio as they wanted a character American audience would connect with. Apparently the studio had forgotten about the Bond series…

Now back to Connery. The film would leave him with such a bad experience that claimed he the production of the film and the film’s final quality was what he caused his decision to permanently retire from filmmaking, saying in an interview with The Times that, “It was a nightmare. The experience had a great influence on me, it made me think about showbiz. I get fed up dealing with idiots.”

It’s been a cursed film for some involved as director Stephen Norrington and screenwriters Kevin O’Neill and James Dale Robinson have not worked again on a live action feature length film. (In 2020, Robinson was credited as the writer for an episode, “Brainwave Jr.”, of the Stargirl TV series.)

Need I say that the critical response was hostile? Well it was. Ebert for one said it had “inexplicable motivations, causes without effects, effects without causes, and general lunacy.” Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a forty-four percent rating which I think is being generous. 

It actually did well at the box office earning well over two hundred million by the time global earnings were tallied. And it’s been a steady seller on DVD. Maybe a lot of folks like a train wreck. If you’re interested in reading the source material, it’s available from the usual suspects for a reasonable twelve bucks. 

Pixel Scroll 5/10/21 One Scroll Deserves the Credit, One Scroll Deserves the Blame

(1) CRISIS FOR GOLDEN GLOBES. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which has less than 90 member journalists but gives the annual Golden Globes in a well-rated TV ceremony, has come under so much criticism for its lack of diversity, and greed, that a network has backed away from airing next year’s show: “NBC won’t air Golden Globes in 2022 following Times report”. (The report is here – “HFPA faces new scrutiny ahead of Golden Globes 2021”.)

With controversy engulfing the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. and major Hollywood players backing away from the embattled organization, NBC announced Monday that it will not air the Golden Globe Awards in 2022.

…The decision comes as influential studios continued to back away from the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn., with WarnerMedia joining Netflix and Amazon Studios in cutting ties with the organization until sweeping reforms are enacted.

The WarnerMedia letter says in part:

We understand the challenges ahead for you, as we work towards diversifying our own executive and employee ranks. However, we call upon you to move with greater urgency. The currently planned 18-month timeline runs through the 2023 Golden Globes, which means the same voting body will be impacting the next two nomination and voting cycles. The HFPA has a membership of less than 90 journalists. Lasting and meaningful change to your membership goals could be achieved in under 18 months. The HFPA cannot accurately reflect the best of our industry until your membership expands to reflect more of the social, cultural and ethnic diversity that exists in the stories we tell and the creators with whom we work.

We’re also asking for a strong commitment to significant change in talent press conferences. We are keenly aware of how much harder we’ve had to lobby to secure press conferences for a number of Black performers and creators, representing unquestionably worthy content. This same work has often then gone unrecognized in your nomination and awards process. In addition, our teams have endured press conferences where our talent were asked racially insensitive, sexist and homophobic questions. For far too long, demands for perks, special favors and unprofessional requests have been made to our teams and to others across the industry. We regret that as an industry, we have complained, but largely tolerated this behavior until now.

Our talent and our staff deserve a professional environment while doing their jobs promoting our series and films. Therefore, we would also like to see the HFPA implement a specific and enforced code of conduct that includes zero tolerance for unwanted physical contact of all talent and staff. We recognize that this conduct is not representative of your full membership, but we need assurances that there will be timely, actionable next steps to discipline members who exhibit inappropriate behavior.

(2) TED CHIANG Q&A. The New York Times published a transcript of Ezra Klein’s interview of Ted Chiang in March.

…So you sent me this wonderful speech questioning the old Arthur C. Clarke line, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic,” what don’t you like about that line?

TED CHIANG: So, when people quote the Arthur C. Clarke line, they’re mostly talking about marvelous phenomena, that technology allows us to do things that are incredible and things that, in the past, would have been described as magic, simply because they were marvelous and inexplicable. But one of the defining aspects of technology is that eventually, it becomes cheaper, it becomes available to everybody. So things that were, at one point, restricted to the very few are suddenly available to everybody. Things like television — when television was first invented, yeah, that must have seemed amazing, but now television is not amazing because everyone has one. Radio is not amazing. Computers are not amazing. Everyone has one.

Magic is something which, by its nature, never becomes widely available to everyone. Magic is something that resides in the person and often is an indication that the universe sort of recognizes different classes of people, that there are magic wielders and there are non-magic wielders. That is not how we understand the universe to work nowadays. That reflects a kind of premodern understanding of how the universe worked. But since the Enlightenment, we have moved away from that point of view. And a lot of people miss that way of looking at the world, because we want to believe that things happen to us for a reason, that the things that happen to you are, in some way, tied to the things you did….

(3) AN EMMY FOR GINA CARANO? Here’s a surprising development: Disney+/Lucasfilms have included Gina Carano in their “for your consideration” advertising that promotes their works for the Emmy Awards.  Carano was dropped from consideration in future Star Wars properties after she issued a series of tweets that Disney labeled “abhorrent and unacceptable”. The New York Post has the story: “Fired ‘Mandalorian’ star Gina Carano gets Emmy nomination push”.

Three months after Lucasfilm gave “The Mandalorian” star Gina Carano the axe for a series of controversial social-media posts, the company has included her in their 2021 Emmy Awards campaign. 

The 39-year-old’s name is listed under the Supporting Actress category in a “for your consideration” poster promoting various Season 2 stars of the Disney+ show, CNET reported. The poster also advocates for lead actor nominations for Pedro Pascal, supporting actor noms for Giancarlo Esposito and Temuera Morrison, and guest actor nods for 18 actors, including Rosario Dawson, John Leguizamo, Mark Hamill and Amy Sedaris. 

(4) PENNSYLVANIA LIFTING RESTRICTIONS. And an in-person PulpFest is back on track:

On Tuesday, May 4, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced that nearly all COVID-19 mitigation orders—including capacity restrictions on indoor gatherings—will be lifted on Memorial Day.

According to the coronavirus page of the Pennsylvania Department of Health: “Effective May 31, we are lifting COVID mitigation orders, except masking. The masking order will be lifted when 70% of Pennsylvania adults are fully vaccinated.”

Pennsylvania’s acting Health Secretary, Alison Beam, encouraged everyone to get vaccinated. “Follow through with both doses if you receive the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, and continue to take steps like masking, frequent handwashing and sanitizing, and social distancing,” Beam said.

But that’s not all. There’s more good news to share!

On the same day as Governor Wolf’s announcement, the convention’s host hotel—the DoubleTree by Hilton Pittsburgh – Cranberry —informed PulpFest that the meeting rooms where the convention is scheduled to be held will be available to the convention for the entire weekend.

So as things now stand, PulpFest 2021 will take place from Thursday, August 19, through Sunday, August 22….

(5) INFLUENTIAL MEETING. At CNN, “’United Shades’ imagines the moment ‘Star Trek’s’ Nichelle Nichols met MLK”. (Video.)

After “Star Trek’s” launch, legendary actress Nichelle Nichols considered leaving the series — until an encounter with one of her biggest fans.

(6) OUTLANDISH CLAIMS. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Writing at Collider, Tom Reitman makes an excellent argument in favor of Sean Connery’s movie Outland. He argues that it is a piece of cinema worth reconsidering as an excellent example of how to remake movies. “Why Sean Connery’s Outland Is a Perfect Remake”.

By updating not only the setting of High Noon but also the moral conflict at its center, Outland successfully reinterprets the story for a new generation of moviegoers. Rather than simply redoing the movie with a new cast and modern dialogue and setpieces, Outland took the bones of its predecessor and created a more relatable exploration of the same themes, resulting in a movie that is both a perfect companion piece to High Noon as well as a captivating story that stands on its own.

(7) CAN YOU USE IT FOR PAY TV? Today the Royal Mint made available the John Logie Baird 2021 UK 50p Brilliant Uncirculated Coin. The Queen is on the flip side.

Known the world over as ‘The Father of Television’, John Logie Baird’s contributions to the world of technology cannot be understated.

His groundbreaking exploration into moving images paved the way for a revolutionary invention that changed the world as we know it and his impact

is still being felt to this very day. However, his journey to television was far from easy, and was filled with obstacles and speed bumps along the way.

Find out more about the life and work of this legendary inventor.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born May 10, 1863 Cornelius Shea. As the authors of SFE  put it, “author for the silent screen and author of dime novels (see Dime-Novel SF), prolific in many categories but best remembered for marvel stories using a fairly consistent ‘mythology’ of dwarfs, subterranean eruptions, and stage illusion masquerading as supernatural magic.” To my surprise, only two of his novels are in the Internet Archive, though Complete Mystery Science Stories of Cornelius Shea which includes two of these Novels is available from iBooks  and Kobo. (Died 1920.) (CE) 
  • Born May 10, 1895 Earl Askam. He played Officer Torch, the captain of Ming the Merciless’s guards, in the 1936 Flash Gordon serial. It’s his only genre appearance though he did have an uncredited role in a Perry Mason film, The Case of Black Cat, which is at least genre adjacent as the defendant is a feline! (Died 1940.) (CE) 
  • Born May 10, 1899 Fred Astaire. Genre work includes On The BeachFinian’s Rainbow and The Man in the Santa Claus Suit. Did a surprising amount of acting for someone who’s Hollywood screen test result was “Can’t act. Slightly bald. Also dances.” (His non-genre 1958 TV special An Evening with Fred Astaire won 11 Emmys, one of them shared by OGH’s father, NBC video engineer Harry Glyer.) (Died 1987.) (CE)
  • Born May 10, 1905 – Alex Schomburg.  A hundred thirty covers, two hundred sixty interiors – not counting five hundred comic-book covers, although some are ours e.g. The Human Torch.  Here is Son of the Stars.  Here is the Apr 53 Galaxy.  Here is the Oct 61 Fantastic.  Here is the Westercon 37 Program Book (designed to look like The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction).  Here is the Jan 93 Tomorrow.  Here is his endpaper for the Winston SF books, later used by Vincent DiFate for Infinite Worlds.  Frank R. Paul Award.  Inkpot.  Chesley for Artistic Achievement.  Special Committee Award for Lifetime Achievement from Noreascon III the 47th Worldcon.  First Fandom Hall of Fame.  Artbook Chroma (with Jon Gustafson).  (Died 1998) [JH]
  • Born May 10, 1935 Terrance Dicks. He had a long association with Doctor Who, working as a writer and also serving as the program’s script editor from 1968 to 1974. He also wrote many of its scripts including The War Games which ended the Second Doctor’s reign and The Five Doctors, produced for the 20th year celebration of the program. He also wrote novelizations of more than sixty of the Doctor Who shows. Yes sixty! Prior to working on this series, he wrote four episodes of The Avengers and after this show he wrote a single episode of Space: 1999 and likewise for Moonbase 3, a very short lived BBC series. (Died 2019.) (CE) 
  • Born May 10, 1936 – Anthea Bell.  Translator from Danish, French, German, e.g. Hans Christian Andersen, Asterix, E.T.A. Hoffmann.  Four Schlegel-Tieck Prizes.  Three Marsh Awards.  Wolff Prize.  Earned four Batchelder Awards for three publishers.  German Federal Republic’s Cross of Merit.  Officer of the Order of the British Empire.  (Died 2018) [JH]
  • Born May 10, 1944 – Bruce Pennington, age 77.  A hundred ninety covers, a score of interiors.  Here is Dune.  Here is The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress.  Here is The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories and Other Stories.  Here is Dreaming Spheres.  Two British SF Ass’n Awards.  [JH]
  • Born May 10, 1955 – Tim Illingworth, age 66.  Chaired Eastercon 40 and 44 (combined with Eurocon 16; also SMOFcon 10 the next weekend).  Doc Weir Award.  [JH]
  • Born May 10, 1963 Rich Moore, 58. He’s directed Wreck-It Ralph and co-directed Zootopia and Ralph Breaks the Internet; he’s has worked on Futurama. It’s not really stretching the definition of genre, so I’ll note that he did the animation for the most excellent Spy vs. Spy series for MADtv. You can see the first one here. (CE)
  • Born May 10, 1964 – Pauline Alama, age 57.  One novel, a score of shorter stories, poems.  “Which part of the label are you questioning – science fiction or romance?”  Website.  [JH]
  • Born May 10, 1969 John Scalzi, 52. I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve ever read by him. What would I recommend to anyone who hasn’t read him? The Old Man’s War series certainly is fantastic, with Zoe’s Tale bringing tears to my eyes. The Interdependency series is excellent. I really have mixed feelings about Redshirts in that it’s too jokeyfor my taste. I will note that his blog is one of a very few where I read every post. (CE) 
  • Born May 10, 1975 – Jeremy Zimmerman, age 46.  Two novels, a dozen shorter stories.  Games.  Mad Scientist Journal (with wife Dawn Vogel), six MSJ Presents anthologies.  Website.  [JH]

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • On The Far Side, somebody must’ve made a wrong turn at Betelgeuse.

(10) GRRM PHD. George R.R. Martin’s alma mater, Northwestern, will present him with an honorary doctorate on June 14.

Come June, I won’t be able to play cards with Nelson Algren any more, I guess.

I am very pleased and proud to announce that my alma mater, Northwestern University, will be presenting me with an honorary doctorate at this year’s commencement, on June 14…

This year’s commencement will be virtual, so the presentation and my acceptance will be taped.

It is hard to believe that it has been half a century since my own commencement from Northwestern, in 1970.   Where have the years gone?

If I could go back in time and tell 1970 Me that this would happen one day, he would never have believed me.  (On the other hand, 1970 Me believed that one day he would vacation on the Moon, so… he may have written science fiction, but predicting the future was not his strong suit).

Northwestern’s announcement is part of this post: “Alum Gwynne Shotwell, president and COO of SpaceX, will address the Class of 2021”.

(11) BRIN INTERVIEW. At the Odyssey Writing Workshop Blog Guest Lecturer David Brin answers questions about his drafting process:

You’ve written a number of stories in the Uplift universe, which is a science fiction series about biological uplift. How much planning for the series did you do ahead of time? Do you tend to be more of an outliner, or do you tend to write by the seat of your pants?

I’ve written two novels from strict outline and that went very well. Why do I do it so seldom, then? Starting a novel is hard for me because I don’t know the characters yet and I haven’t yet had multiple “aha!” moments when I discover what the story is really about. I end books really, really well. For more on the great idea of uplift, which could be done very badly and likely has already begun, see http://www.davidbrin.com/uplift.html.

(12) ELECTRIC SUIT. In the Washington Post, Dalvin Brown surveys efforts to add technology to clothes, including clothes that can make phone calls, warm you in the winter and cool you in the summer. “Nextiles, Apple, Samsung envision future where people wear high-tech clothes”.

… What if your shirt could sense that you’re sweating and adjust its temperature? Or what if your pants could notice that your stride has changed and alert you at the onset of injuries? That’s what the future may hold, textile researchers say. It might be years, possibly even decades, for the tech to reach consumers, but the foundation is being laid today with scientists creating pieces of fabric that push the boundaries of what’s been possible before.

In March, researchers from China’s Fudan University published findings on electronic fabric capable of turning clothing into a display screen. They hope to turn their attention to the consumer market next, according to Qibing Pei, a materials scientist at the University of California at Los Angeles who co-authored the study….

(13) HOW MUCH IS THAT DOGECOIN IN THE WINDOW? CNBC reports “SpaceX accepts Dogecoin as payment to launch ‘DOGE-1 mission to the Moon’ next year”.

Elon Musk’s SpaceX will launch the “DOGE-1 Mission to the Moon” in the first quarter of 2022, with the company accepting the meme-inspired cryptocurrency as full payment for the lunar payload.

Geometric Energy Corporation announced the dogecoin-funded mission on Sunday, which SpaceX’s communications team confirmed in an email to reporters. The mission’s financial value was not disclosed.

DOGE-1 will fly a 40 kilogram cube satellite as a payload on a Falcon 9 rocket, with Geometric Energy Corporation saying its payload “will obtain lunar-spatial intelligence from sensors and cameras on-board with integrated communications and computational systems.”

SpaceX vice president of commercial sales Tom Ochinero said in a statement that DOGE-1 “will demonstrate the application of cryptocurrency beyond Earth orbit and set the foundation for interplanetary commerce.”…

(14) LOOKS LIKE THE FUTURE. Atlas Obscura takes you to “The Real-World Locations of 14 Sci-Fi Dystopias” (a 2014 post).

Logan’s Run (1976)
Fort Worth, Texas

Dallas and Fort Worth hosted the 1976 dystopian film Logan’s Run. Several scenes were filmed in the Dallas Market Center, a shopping mall standing in for “The City,” an underground complex whose residents believe is the only safe place left on Earth. Another mall, the Hulen Mall in Fort Worth, was just completing construction during filming and was also used for some scenes. 

(15) 60 MINUTES ON MARS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Anderson Cooper on 60 Minutes had a segment about Perserverance and Ingenuity.  What makes this interesting is that JPL let them have test footage of Ingenuity showing how complicated the helicopter is based on early models that crashed.  This reminds us of how complex an achievement the new Mars mission is. There is extra footage on 60 Minutes Overtime. “Perseverance rover, Ingenuity helicopter, and the search for ancient life on Mars”.

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Transformers:  Revenge of the Fallen Pitch Meeting” on ScreenRant, the screenwriter explains that this Transformers movie has nothing to do with earlier ones because he trashed his DVD player by sticking a bagel in it and trying to toast the bagel by throwing the DVD player in the oven.  Also, many pages of the script simply say, ‘EXPLOSIONS.”

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Lise Andreasen, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Olav Rokne, John Hertz, Rob Thornton, Dann, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]

Pixel Scroll 11/3/20 I Sing The Pixel Electric, The Files Of Those I Love Scroll Me And I Scroll Them

(1) UK LOCKDOWN BEGINS. “England is going into a month (at least) of hard lockdown,” says Jonathan Cowie – see details at SF2 Concatenation. About that sff/science news publication Cowie reassures:

We have enough articles in and thirty or so book reviews in hand for a spring edition of  SF² Concatenation in January.

If lockdown ends as planned in December, then there’ll also be a pre-Christmas Best of  ‘Futures’ short story.  If not then we’ll roll it into the Spring edition.

(2) ISS AT 20. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Today’s (Tues Nov 3) Science section of the New York Times is mostly about the International Space Station, celebrating “20 years of…”, including a two-page spread with like a dozen short items, three of which are by Mary Robinette Kowal. It looks like these are reprinted.

Here’s the collective link.

And here’s Kowal’s trio:

Andrew Porter also sent a note:

If you can access this, gorgeous photos and historical background. Note to editors: the photos, being from NASA, can be used with credit. “How the Space Station Became a Base to Launch Humanity’s Future “ at the New York Times.

(3) NEW TAFF REPORT PUBLISHED. John Coxon’s 2011 Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund trip report is now available. Covers his perambulations through Canada and the USA, and attending Renovation (the 69th World Science Fiction Convention).

  • In electronic form here (£5.00)
  • Or as a physical book from Lulu (£20.00)

(4) FUTURE WALK. “Cory Doctorow on his drive to inspire positive futures” – an interview at Polygon.

We’ve been talking a lot at Polygon about whether it’s possible for science fiction to model a positive future. Your earliest science fiction books felt utopian, but your recent books, especially the Little Brother series,is much more cynical and concerned about America. Has the way you think about technology and the possibility for a positive future changed since your early books?

I don’t know, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom is definitely a complicated utopia, because it supposes that a non-monetary mechanism for allocating resources would just become money again, right? That it would just turn into another unequal rich-get-richer society. So it is, in some ways, a critique of the utopian idea of reputation economics.

Walkaway is about utopianism, in the sense that it’s a book in which crises are weathered. One of the things I recognized when I went out on tour with that book and started talking to people about it is that utopianism is not the assumption that nothing will go wrong. Being an engineer who builds a system on the assumption that it won’t break doesn’t make you an optimist, it makes you an asshole. That’s the thing that makes you decide we don’t need lifeboats for the Titanic.

Instead, being hopeful and utopian means believing that when things break down, we can rebuild them. One of the things we’re living through right now is people acting as though we have lost, as a species, the ability to weather big global crises, like we want to build the pyramids with Egyptian technology or something. Like it’s the practice of a lost civilization that we will never recover. To be an optimist, or to be utopian, is to believe that we can rise to challenges.

Not that challenges will be vanquished once and for all — even if you built a stable system where everything worked well, that system would be subjected to exogenous shocks….

(5) THE COMMONWEALTH, ER, FEDERATION OF PLANETS. The Royal Mail is taking pre-orders for their Star Trek Special Stamps.

Our Star Trek Special Stamps and limited edition collectibles celebrate classic characters from the ground-breaking TV series and big-screen blockbusters.

The Royal Mail blurb says of this panel —

Twelve new illustrations celebrate British actors who have boldly explored the final frontier as Starfleet captains or crew members.

(6) HEARD THAT VOICE BEFORE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] SNL alum Darrell Hammond, who does a GREAT impression of Sean Connery, sent out a tweet with a highlight reel of his Connery dueling on Jeopardy! with Will Farrell as Alex Trebek.

(7) SESSIONS OBIT. John Sessions, an English actor whose genre credits include Gormenghast, The Adventures of Pinocchio, Dr Who, Outlander, and the audiobook versions of Asterix, died November 2. He was 67.

In the 2014 Doctor Who episode “Mummy on the Orient Express,” he provided the voice of Gus, a sentient computer controlling the titular train. He also co-created and starred in the cult ’90s comedy series Stella Street and made TV appearances in Skins, Outlander, and Friday Night Dinner.

His impeccable impression of his late friend Alan Rickman, which you can watch here, proved especially popular over the years.

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • November 3, 1967 — “I, Mudd” first aired as the eighth episode of the second season of the original Trek series. Written by Stephen Kandel from a story by Gene Roddenberry, it was directed by Marc Daniels. It reprised the character of Harry Mudd as played Roger C. Carmel who first appeared in “Mudd’s Women”, a season one episode. Although Kandel is the credited writer on the episode, though David Gerrold performed an uncredited extensive rewrite. Carmel was rumored to have been planned to reprise the character on Star Trek: The Next Generation but died before that could happen. He did voice the character in “Mudd’s Passion”, an episode of the animated series. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born November 3, 1921 Charles Bronson. He didn’t do he a lot of genre acting but I’ve got him in One Step Beyond as Yank Dawson in “The Last Round” and he’s in The Twilight Zone in “Two” as The Man opposite Elizabeth Montgomery as The Women. He was also in Master of The World which is based on the Verne novels Robur the Conqueror and its sequel Master of the World. (Died 2003.) (CE) 
  • Born November 3, 1925 – Monica Hughes, O.C.  Twenty novels, half as many shorter stories, for us, not counting three dozen children’s books of which some are SF; various others.  Dress designer in London and Bulawayo.  Codebreaker in the Women’s Royal Naval Service.  Gardener.  Beachcomber.  Phoenix Award, Hal Clement Award, Vicky Metcalf Award, Alberta Ross Annett Award.  Order of Canada.  (Died 2003) [JH]
  • Born November 3, 1929 Neal Barrett, Jr. Heavily nominated for many awards including a number of Hugos but he never won any. He was Toastmaster at LoneStarCon 2.  He was prolific writing over two dozen novels and some fifty pieces of short fiction including a novelization of the first Dredd film. As good much of his genre work was, I think his finest, best over the top work was the Wiley Moss series which led off with Pink Vodka Blues. He’s generously available at usual digital suspects. (Died 2014.) (CE)
  • Born November 3, 1933 – Jack Harness.  Among much else he was the Fan With Too Many Names; Scribe JH, Jxtn Muir, Hawkman, the Golux; these bred variations, like “Wheet-wheet”.  They all had origins.  He’d been Hawkman in the Chicon III (20th Worldcon) Masquerade.  Thurber’s Golux in The Thirteen Clocks wore an indescribable hat, Jack wore indescribable shirts.  He dreamed up card games, fanart, cooking.  For a while LASFS (L.A. Science Fantasy Society) played strange poker; I believe he invented Soft Shoe, where you could shuffle off to bluff a low.  Once he sat staring upward so long that other players demanded to know what he was doing; he answered “I’m worshiping the ceiling”; this was put into song.  The LASFS Secretary has been the Scribe ever since his term; he wrote, not the minutes, but the Menace of the LASFS; this too stuck.  I could go on, but I won’t.  (Died 2001) [JH]

  • Born November 3, 1933 Jeremy Brett. Still my favorite Holmes of all time. He played him in four Granada TV series from 1984 to 1994 in a total of 41 stories. One web source said he was cast as Bond at one point, but turned the part down, feeling that playing 007 would harm his career. Lazenby was cast instead. (Died 1995.) (CE)
  • Born November 3, 1942 Martin Cruz Smith, 78. Best remembered for Gorky Park, the Russian political thriller, but he’s also done a number of  genre novels in The Indians Won (alternate history), Gypsy in Amber and Canto for a Gypsy (PI with psychic powers) and two wonderful pulpish novels, The Inca Death Squad and Code Name: Werewolf
  • Born November 3, 1946 – Kathryn Davis, 74.  Two novels, four shorter stories for us.  Six other novels.  Janet Heidinger Kafka PrizeMorton Dauwen Zaubel AwardLannan Award for Fiction.  “When you are lost in the uncanny woods of this astonishing, double-hinged book [Duplex], just keep reading, and remember to look up.  Kathryn Davis knows right where you are”, NY Times 20 Sep 13.  [JH]
  • Born November 3, 1956 Kevin Murphy, 64. Best known as the voice and puppeteer of Tom Servo for nine years on the Mystery Science Theater 3000. He was also the writer for the show for eleven years. I’m surprised the series was never nominated for a Hugo in the Long Form or Shot Form. Does it not qualify? (CE) 
  • Born November 3, 1957 – Dan Hollifield, 63. Editor of Aphelion.  Two short stories there, collection Tales from the Mare Inebrium.  Has read The Past Through TomorrowIshmaelRainbow MarsOne Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Jane Austen, and Dickens.  [JH]
  • Born November 3, 1963 Brian Henson, 57. Son of Jim Henson, he co-owns and runs the Jim Henson Company. Can we all agree that The Happytime Murders should never have been done? Thought so. Wash it out of your consciousness with Muppet Treasure Island or perhaps The Muppet Christmas Carol. If you want something darker, he was a puppeteer on The Witches, and the chief puppeteer on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And he voices Hoggle in Labyrinth. (CE) 
  • Born November 3, 1968 – Janni Lee Simner, 52.  Seven novels, thirty shorter stories. “Five Reasons Not to Self-Publish” in Reflection’s Edge, “Folkroots” about Icelandic folklore in Realms of Fantasy after Thief Eyes.  Judy Goddard Award.  Guest of Honor at CopperCon 31, TusCon 41.  [JH]
  • Born November 3, 1995 – Kendall Jenner, 25.  This top model and Kardashian relative wrote two SF novels (with a sister and ghostwriters).  The amazing astounding planetary startling thing is that she did it at all; hard even for us to imagine in 1939.  [JH]

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Wondermark’s entry “In which Armageddon awaits” illustrates a plan to unite humanity. But we are dealing with humans, after all. [H/t to David Langford.]
  • The Far Side often has thoughts I’ve never thunk before – this one’s about flying saucers.

(11) PHILADELPHIA FREEDOM. In “Honest Trailers: National Treasure” on YouTube, the Screen Junkies say if you like historical mysteries, National Treasure “places the setting on ‘easy’ for a scavenger hunt anyone can figure out –even kids and Americans!”

(12) PREFERRED FUTURE. Sf writer Ariel S. Winter’s CrimeReads article “In A Pandemic World, We’re All Engaging In Speculative Fiction” says the speculative future we’re thinking about now is one where we can see our friends, not socially distance, and not wear face masks.

… “Wearing surgical face masks was [Laughton’s] least favorite part of being in a hospital. He hated the warm, damp feeling of his own breath coating his cheeks and nose, but it was the law.”

When I wrote that scene, the idea that I would be legally required to wear my own face mask in the months before the novel came out was impossible. The future I was writing towards was focused on humanoid, self-aware, artificial intelligences rather than the fictional pandemic that had given rise to the AI’s power. Artificial intelligence was the part of my novel that I envisioned for the future, not a plague.

While all fiction writing could be called a thought experiment, writing about the future is a special kind of thought experiment that doesn’t just ask how particular events affect particular people, but how collective historic events affect the way all people live. If one thing changes—technology, biology, history—what does life look like then?

(13) REACTIONS PREFERRED. In “Honest Game Trailers:  Amnesia:  Rebirth,” Fandom Games says this is a game for gamers who like solving “puzzles prepared for learning-impaired monkeys” with characters who chug far too much laudanum.

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

Pixel Scroll 10/31/20 Scroll Me Tomorrow; Hurry Back. Can’t You See? I Need To Read More Than Yesterday

Still under the weather, so another short Scroll.

Feel free to add in comments that should have been scrolled today!

(1) SEAN CONNERY DIES. Actor Sean Connery died October 31. Here is an excerpt of Leonard Maltin’s tribute.

I only spoke to the actor a few times, but each meeting was memorable. The encounter I will never forget came when I was assigned to cover his hand-and-footprint ceremony at Grauman’s Chinese Theater in 1999 to promote the movie Entrapment, which costarred newcomer Catherine Zeta-Jones.

As we stood in the famous forecourt of Grauman’s, I asked what this honor meant to him. He gestured over his shoulder at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel and told me that he’d stayed there on his first trip to Los Angeles in the late 1950s. Now, decades later, he was here to perpetuate a tradition that went back even farther than his career.

He had vivid memories of his first trip to Movieland. “My expenses were a hundred bucks a week. I was staying in this hotel and found out that it was like sixteen bucks a day and I had nothing left for food, drink, or a car, so I walked from here to Fox. I got stopped once en route by the police saying, ‘Where are you going, buddy?’ I said, ‘I’m walking.’ He said, ‘Smartass, stay where you are.’ ” Once the problem was unraveled, Fox eventually agreed to give him a car and be more flexible with his per diem.

(2) BARD NOT BOND. [Item by Michael Toman.] On the off chance that Other Bardophile Readers of File 770 might also be interested in seeing a play with witches this Halloween, try Googling “Sean Connery Shakespeare Macbeth” for a link to see a young SC as the doomed Scottish king.

(3) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • October 31, 1962 First Spaceship On Venus premiered In the Eastern Bloc. It’s a 1960 East German/Polish film based on the 1951 Stanis?aw Lem novel The Astronauts. Lem did not like it at all and asked his name to be removed as he hated the strident politicization of the story. IMDB still lists him as the story source. Mystery Science Theater 3000 would lampoon it in 2008. 

(4) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born October 31, 1760 – Katsushika Hokusai.  (Name given Japanese style, personal name last.)  His famous woodblock sometimes called “The Great Wave Off Kanagawa” is actually a view of Mt. Fuji, first in a set (note Zelazny’s story “24 Views of Mt. Fuji, by Hokusai”).  Here is “The Ghost of Oiwa” from One Hundred Ghost Tales.  Here is The Oxford Book of the Supernatural.  Here is “The Mansion of the Plates” used for Apparitions.  Here is a magician.  (Died 1849) [JH]
  • Born October 31, 1795 – John Keats.  In his twenty-five years he wrote poetry soon recognized as great.  He said “My imagination is a monastery and I am its monk.”  Here is Virgil Finlay’s illustration for “La belle dame sans merci”.  This illustration by Bell for Endymion will remind you of some JK lines.  Here is another illustration for Endymion (look up the myth if you don’t know it).  Here is an Endymion illustration engraved by Joubert from a painting by Poynter.  Here is an illustration by Riviére.  JK wrote this sonnet about Chapman’s translation of Homer, a fantasist writing about a fantasist.  (Died 1821) [JH]
  • Born October 31, 1923 – Art Saha.  Research chemist whose work was used on Space satellites.  Futurian.  President of the Lunarians (New York) and of the First Fandom organization.  Edited half a dozen Year’s Best Fantasy, and with Don Wollheim, a score of Year’s Best SF.  Program Book for SunCon the 35th Worldcon.  Fan Guest of Honor at Empiricon 4, Unicon 10, Lunacon 29.  First Fandom Hall of Fame.  (Died 1999) [JH]
  • Born October 31, 1937 – Jael, 83.  Three dozen covers, thirty interiors; in her seventy-year career, ten-thousands of images all told.  Here is Venus Plus X.  Here is the Fall 1993 Aboriginal.  Here is Letters to Jenny (note the author at upper right).  Here is the Summer 2000 Dreams of Decadence.  Interviewed in Lighthouse 2.  Artbook Perceptualistics (with John Grant).  [JH]
  • Born October 31, 1941 – Dan Alderson.  At JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) wrote software used by Voyager 1 & 2; his Trajectory Monitor used by low-thrust craft at least through 2008.  Much-loved member of LASFS (Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society).  Inspired the Alderson Drive in Niven & Pournelle’s Mote in God’s Eye and The Gripping Hand; Dan Forrester in Lucifer’s Hammer is based on him (German Wald is “forest”).  Unfortunately self-esteem notoriously as low as his genius was high; he joked about it but meant it too; in one famous incident he said “We could always hold a self-denigration contest.  Of course I’d lose,” cracking up his driver and nearly the car.  (Died 1989) [JH]
  • Born October 31, 1946 – Stephen Rea, 74. Actor who’s had a long genre history starting with the horror films of Cry of the BansheeThe Company of Wolves (from the Angela Carter short story)and The Doctor and the Devils. He’d later show up Interview with the VampireThe MusketeerFeardotComV for VendettaUnderworld: AwakeningWerewolf: The Beast Among Us and Ruby Strangelove Young Witch. He had the role of Alexander Pope in the most excellent Counterpart series. (CE) 
  • Born October 31, 1958 – Ian Briggs, 62. He wrote two Seventh Doctor stories, “Dragonfire” and “The Curse of Fenric”, the former of which of which introduced Ace as the Doctor’s Companion. (The latter is one on my frequent rewatch list.) He novelized both for Target Books. He would write a Seventh Doctor story, “The Celestial Harmony Engine” for the Short Trips: Defining Patterns anthology. (CE) 
  • Born October 31, 1959 – Neal Stephenson, 61. Some years back, Longfellow Books had a genre book group. One of the staff who was a member of that group (as was I) took extreme dislike to The Diamond Age: Or, A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer. I don’t remember now why but it made re-read that and Snow Crash. My favorite novel by him by far is The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. (CE) 
  • Born October 31, 1961 – Peter Jackson, 59. I’m going to confess that I watched and liked the first of the Lord of The Rings films but got no further than that. I was never fond of The Two Towers as a novel so it wasn’t something I wanted to see as a film, and I like The Hobbit just fine as a novel thank you much having read it at least a half dozen times. Now however the Adventures of Tintin is quite amazing indeed. (CE) 
  • Born October 31, 1972 – Matt Smith, 48. He’s the current and longest-serving editor of long-running 2000 AD, and also the longest-running editor of its sister title Judge Dredd Magazine. He written three Judge Dredd novels plus a number of other genre novels based off the properties he edits. Along with Alan Ewing and Michael Carroll, he’s written the Judge Dredd audiobook, a take on the newly deputized Dredd. (CE) 
  • Born October 31, 1978 – Lara Möller, 42.  Three novels and a shorter story for Shadowrun, two more short stories; also crime fiction, poems (in German).  Backpacked in Australia for ten months; “helping [with a] cattle drive … in the Outback or picking oranges on a plantation is … completely different … from sitting at the computer in the office,” which she resumed.  [JH]
  • Born October 31, 1979 – Erica Cerra, 41. Best known as Deputy Jo Lupo on Eureka, certainly one of the best SF series ever done. She had a brief recurring role as Maya in Battlestar Galactica, plus the artificial intelligence A.L.I.E. and her creator Becca in The 100. Her most recent genre role was a recurring one as Duma on Supernatural. (CE)

(5) COMICS SECTION.

(6) SPECTRAL SCRIBERS. In “All The Famous Writers Who Have Reportedly Come Back As Ghosts” on CrimeReads, we learn that the ghosts of Lovecraft and Poe have been spotted and if you go to Baltimore’s The Horse You Came In On pub and deny that Poe’s ghost haunts the place, bottles will shake!

Concluding our brief list is the one you’ve all been waiting for: the ghost of Edgar Allan Poe. He is wildly believed to haunt several locations in and around Baltimore, the city where he died tragically at age forty. One of these locations is the catacombs of the Westminster Presbyterian Church (which just seems haunted to begin with), which was built on top of the Old Western Burial Grounds. Poe was buried there, though he was not interred in one of the graves that the church was constructed upon. But people claim to have seen his spirit wandering through the tunnels, as well as the hospital where he died, the military fort where he was based when he unhappily served in the army, and the street where he lived….

 [Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, JJ, John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, Cat Eldridge, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kendall.]

Remembering Sean Connery

By Steve Vertlieb: Sean Connery, the iconic actor and super star whose irresistible presence on the motion screen happily dominated our lives for nearly sixty years died today at age ninety.  Few actors of his or any other generation possessed the wit, charisma, and staggering masculinity that this remarkably gifted actor brought to the screen.  With the probable exception of Cary Grant, with whom Connery shared male dominance and magnetism, no other actor before or since has attracted both men and women with his nearly startling sexuality.

Born August 25, 1930, Connery achieved international recognition with his smoldering portrayal of Ian Fleming’s James Bond in Dr. No in 1962.  Although he’d appeared in relatively minor parts in a variety of television and movie roles, it was his remarkable major screen debut as James Bond in 1962 that instantaneously, and deservedly, elevated him to super star status.

Connery followed his singular appearance as “Bond … James Bond” in Dr. No with six additional star turns as the invincible secret agent in From Russia With Love (1963), Goldfinger (the definitive Bond thriller in 1964), Thunderball (1965), You Only Live Twice (1967), Diamonds Are Forever (1971) and, finally, in Never Say Never Again, (1983) whose clever title noted the irony of his having said repeatedly that he’d never play the part again.  Having played Bond in seven motion pictures, Connery established himself as the definitive characterization of Fleming’s deadly British agent.

After this last performance as the impeccably tailored spy, Connery defied critics who’d complained about his being a single dimensional actor, by joyously emerging as one of the finest character actors of our time.  Prior to being cast as Bond, In such films as Darby O’Gill and The Little People for Disney (1959), and after in Marnie for Alfred Hitchcock (1964), The Hill” (1965), The Anderson Tapes (1971), and Zardoz (1974), Connery proved to his critics that he was, indeed, a gifted, dangerously provocative performer.

Five of his most joyous, exquisitely layered, multi textured performances, followed in the years that lay before him.  As the irascible, inherently  masculine “Raisuli” in the enormously entertaining John Milius film The Wind And The Lion, Connery’s striking individuality quite literally lit the screen with his colorful interpretation as the leader of a noble Berber tribe, timed imaginatively by Jerry Goldsmith’s electrifying musical score.

As the sadly proud, yet vulnerable Robin Hood in Robin And Marian (1976), Connery  showed rare sensitivity and elegance as the aging warrior whose difficulty transitioning from young rebel to graceful elder champion wove poetic lyricism to the legend of Robin, accompanied by composer John Barry’s wistfully romantic themes.

In The Untouchables (1987) for director Brian De Palma, Sean Connery’s Oscar winning performance as “Malone,” the simple cop on the beat whose street intelligence and long tenured wisdom helped Eliot Ness bring down Capone, would at long last silence the critics who had cynically predicted his rapid departure and absence from the screen after leaving the lucrative “Bond” franchise.

For Steven Spielberg, Connery would deliver his most wonderful portrayal, perhaps, as the colorful, cantankerous Professor Henry Jones as Harrison Ford’s father in Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade (1987), elevating another beloved franchise to sublime levels of joyous delight and perfection.  Connery’s comedic gifts and unexpected pathos turned this third entry of the iconic film series into it’s most beloved chapter.

For First Knight (1995), a highly romanticized screen version of the Arthurian legend, Connery was at his most regal in his performance as literature’s legendary King Arthur.  Bringing both nobility and grace to a classic role that only he, in suave maturity, could deliver, Connery once again brought quiet dignity and eloquence to the image of expiring royalty in the face of danger and finality.

Sean Connery has left us, but his indelible face and distinctive voice shall remain forever burned into the haunting imagery of the motion picture screen.   We came alive in the sweet mirror of your artistry. Rest Well, Sir Sean.  May angels sing you to your rest.

And A Moonbeam to Charm You

darby-ogill-and-king-brian-sharBy James H. Burns: For Saint Patrick’s Day what could be better than remembering the classic Disney fantasy film, 1959’s Darby O’Gill and the Little People, based on the stories of H.T. (Herminie Templeton) Kavanagh….?

What a lovely, wonderful surprise this move was, when I first encountered it some time in my LATE teens, in the early 1980s, on cable! I had remembered getting Darby O’Gill sticker transfers in the late 1960s, or early ’70s, when Disney did some type of re-release.  The “stickers” were those neat transfers that came on a transparent sheet that you would place on something, then “rub off” the art by using something on the other side, to complete the metamorphosis! I think the transfers came in packages of Jiffy Pop. But I had never seen the movie.

(Odd, how in the era before VHS, and DVD, you could often encounter a movie years before you ever saw it, via its merchandising.)

Darby O’Gill became, in fact, one of my all-time favorite fantasy films.

And I was a bit stunned that the witches-attack scene from Jack The Giant Killer was lifted from this film. How had I seen Jack, years before? The film was almost legendary in my house, my Dad having seen it in its first release, and then mystified at its seeming disappearance… Finally, one day, in the early ’70s, it was playing about a half hour away in Westbury as a one-showing only suburban matinee… Having postponed seeing it the last time it was in the newspaper listings, about a half-hour further out on Long Island, and then waiting another year — Jack was kind of like a film that Brigadoon-ed for ages –we rushed out to see it! Ah, still in the era of single-screen movie houses….

For years, I searched around for the volume of short stories that Darby is based on by H.T. Kavanagh (Herminie Templeton Kavanagh). I’m a bit of a bibliophile, but even with the advent of the internet, this volume seemed impossible to find. I was delighted, a few years ao, when the book was finally released in paperback (a Doherty and Associates release, NOT to be confused with the movie novelization). There is much fun to be had in the other adventures of Darby, and King Brian, and Pony Sugrue, and Sheila, and the rest of the towns-folk, and the kingdom of the leprechauns.

To this day, I look twice, before throwing a bucket of water outside…

(And now, the short stories can be found in several editions.)

Darby PosterThe DVD release of Darby O’Gill has an amazing episode of the Disney TV show, where Walt journeys to Ireland, to — if I recall correctly — directly negotiate with King Brian, for the right to tell the tale. Although in black and white, there is even more of the special charm that makes Darby O’Gill and the Little People so memorable.

And fun to remember that Disney first encountered Albert Sharpe (Darby), when he was starring in Finian’s Rainbow on Broadway. (The movie also stars the delightful Janet Munro, Sean Connery, and Estelle Winwood.)

Finian’s is another extraordinary fantasy tale and musical which, as Francis Ford Coppola admits, he did a terrible job adapting to film. There were plans afoot, at one point, years before the Warner’s movie, to lens Finian’s Rainbow as an animated feature, starring Frank Sinatra. (Tracks were recorded, and released in the past few years.)

The great film historian, John Canemaker, has a terrific article about the lost Rainbow at Michael Sporn’s wonderful animation website, with many of the film’s preproduction sketches, and designs.

Finians%20Rainbow%203

But as I cozy up to my corned beef,  and possibly even ponder some poteen and,  of course, await the return of my fair and lovely one (“her eyes so sparkling, full of fun!”) I note:

That that’s a tale for another day!

Stars Hosting their Films
at LA’s ArcLight on October 1

When Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves was first released, Lynn Maudlin knew I wanted to see it. She invited me to accompany her and a number of other femmefans to a local theater. My most indelible memory from that evening was hearing them in rapture over Sean Connery’s cameo appearance. In fact, I’ve had trouble ever since remembering that it’s “a Kevin Costner film.”

So I e-mailed Lynn as soon as I read that Sean Connery will be one of the stars hosting next month’s “Target Presents AFI Night at the Movies,” where people get to watch a famous movie in the company of a featured actor or actress. Sean Connery will present The Man Who Would Be King.

Several other sf/fantasy films will also be on the marquee when the event takes place October 1 at the ArcLight in Los Angeles. Keanu Reeves will present The Matrix, Jim Carrey will host Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and Mike Myers will celebrate Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery..

The other presenters will be Annette Bening, American Beauty, Cameron Diaz, There’s Something About Mary, Jodie Foster, The Silence of the Lambs, Dustin Hoffman, Tootsie, Shirley MacLaine, The Apartment, Steve Martin, The Jerk, Rita Moreno, West Side Story, and Denzel Washington, Glory. The idea is to bring filmmakers and fans together to celebrate American movies, said AFI chief Bob Gazzale.

Tickets are $25 and will be available beginning September 17.