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.