(1) SUPERHERO CONSUMER REPORT. The Verge warns “Thanos’ almighty Infinity Gauntlet defeated by above-average oven heat”.
The most powerful weapon in the universe has a weakness: it cannot withstand the necessary heat to remove a cast iron pizza pan once warmed to 400-plus degrees. Reports of the weapon’s fragility have been making the rounds by way of Loot Crate, which shipped an Infinity Gauntlet oven mitt to subscribers in its May product bundle. Following many failed attempts to hold hot objects and presumably eradicate Marvel superheroes, the device has been dubbed defective.
— Nick Borelli (@NicksComics) May 25, 2016
(2) RUNAWAY MIND MELD. When SF Signal closed, a couple of people were still at work on installments of its popular “Mind Meld” feature. James Aquilone has now posted the one he was curating, that asks participants the question:
Q: What are your favorite visions of the future in the SF genre?
Answers come from Sean Williams, Stewart Baker, Stephen Merlino, Matt Dovey, John Lasser and Christoph Weber, all published in the latest Writers of the Future anthology.
(3) FEELING BETTER? While the SF Signal blog is shuttered, somebody (John DeNardo?) is still issuing regular news tweets from the SF Signal Twitter account.
— SF Signal (@sfsignal) June 4, 2016
(4) CAPTAIN MY CAPTAIN. Tom Smith’s protest filk “Just A Kid From Brooklyn” – a $1 download.
…You’ve heard about his shield, to keep him safe from harm,
And how he used it like it was an extension of his arm,
You’ve heard about his buddies, and how some paid the cost,
The woman that he loved, the childhood friend he lost.
But most of all, you’ve heard about the man behind the mask,
How fighting for our freedom was his most important task,
Sometimes it was a rescue, sometimes it was a fight,
But sometimes it was just his words and knowing he was right
And now you tell me… he’s a Nazi
You want to prove the best of us can end up like the rest of us
You’ve undone his whole purpose, and then shoved him off a ledge,
And tell us it’s so bold of you, how it’s oh so cutting edge….
(5) THE I-FILES. Gillian Anderson has a new gig says Variety, having been cast in Starz’s adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods.
Anderson will play Media, the mouthpiece for the New Gods, functioning as their public face and sales representative, by taking the form of various iconic celebrities. She lives off the attention and worship that people give to screens — to their laptops, their TVs, to their iPhones in their hands while they watch their TVs. Ever the perky spokesperson, and always in control, she spins stories in whatever direction best suits her.
(6) PEACE BLIND YOUR WEAPONS. Police have warned those attending Armageddon 2016 in Wellington this weekend to cover their fake weapons to avoid public panic. The New Zealand Herald has the story.
Many of those attending the expo, which has been dubbed the Wellington Geek Event, arrive dressed in costumes which may include accessories such as fake weapons. While they were fake, they looked real, police warned this evening.
“Those attending the festival are asked that they be careful when they are walking to and from the events around Wellington and that they carry these ‘weapons’ with care so as not to scare members of the public.”…
Police had already today been called to Porirua after a man travelling to the expo was seen carrying a fake weapon.
(7) RALPH OBIT. SF Site News reports Patrick Ralph passed away.
Illinois fan Patrick “PJ” Ralph died on June 2 following a battle with cancer. Ralph was an active and was currently developing a game for market with some friends. He was part of the “Bermuda Triangle” hoax Worldcon bid for the 1988 Worldcon, which took second in a field of four.
(8) G.O.A.T. John Scalzi, who at age 8 knew Muhammad Ali was “The Greatest of All Time”, at age 47 has a far deeper appreciation why it was true.
But — and this is the second thing — you cannot love or honor Ali properly without acknowledging that blackness and Islam are at the core of his greatness. It seems to me, and I think the events of his life bear this out, that the greatness of Ali — who he was — was did not come out to you, was not there for you, and in a fundamental way did not care what you thought of it. It was there, and you could come to it or not, and if you did, you had to take it on its on terms. On Ali’s terms. And Ali’s terms were: He was a black man, in America and in the world. He was a Muslim man, in America and in the world. He was who he was. He did not have to transcend those things about himself. You, however, might have to overcome your understanding of what you thought of both blackness and Islam to appreciate him. People did or did not; Ali went on regardless.
(9) WHEN JIM BURNS MET ALI. Jim Burns posted this memory of meeting the champ in person:
I’ll always be grateful that I got to meet Muhammad Ali when he was still in the full height of all his many powers. The occasion was an odd one–a 1978 press party at the Warner Communications building on Fifth Avenue, heralding Superman Vs Muhammad Ali, a special edition “deluxe” comic book volume that DC Comics produced (in which aliens compel the two titans to tussle, “to save the Earth”).
(10) CARTOON SECTION. Today’s Close To Home by John McPherson concerns a hellish to-do list.
That brings me to the “WTAF?” part of this post. We’re going to start with the Con Suite. Because I made the actual beef for it, and because it is an exceptionally glaring example of an overarching problem. Time & time again I saw people come in, take umbrage that a place staffed by volunteers serving free food had imperfect service. Not dangerous service, not unhealthy (AFAIK no one got food poisoning which I did from a place where I actually paid for the food), just imperfect. Because a delivery didn’t show up on time the menus had to be shifted around. Because two of the aging fridges went out food was in shorter supply than expected. Because there weren’t enough volunteers actually willing to show up & work when scheduled some things took longer than expected. You know..normal things that can go wrong at any event.
Now, there are a lot of theories about the entitled attitudes on display from some con attendees. Some of it was definitely about race & gender (funnily enough all the Black women serving in the con suite that I know have similar stories about rudeness despite being there on different days, I didn’t get a chance to check in with other POC, but I have some guesses based off stories relayed to me), some of it was about bizarre expectations and a total lack of home training (possibly related to reason #1) but at base none of it was okay. Here is where I remind you that Julia, the con suite chair pays for a flight & hotel from Boston to Madison to spend an entire weekend volunteering. To feed hundreds of strangers three meals and unlimited snacks every day. Here is where I remind you that con suite staff are all volunteers. Here is where I ask you why a con that prides itself on being at a union hotel can’t remember to treat volunteers like people.
(12) THE PERPETUAL CAMPAIGN. The BBC’s roundup of electoral futurism starts with the spectre of a holographic Trump campaigning in 20 places at once.
Then it moves on to a candidate with a strongly science-fictional view of the future.
“Why not?” offers Zoltan Istvan, an US independent presidential candidate who identifies as a futurist and transhumanist.
“Many other jobs are being replaced by robots. Why not our leaders?
“We’re about 10-15 years from having a machine that’s as smart as anyone in this room. It might make sense at some point to have a machine lead us.”
I met Istvan this week at the Augmented World Expo in Santa Clara, a gathering of companies working on augmented, virtual and mixed reality technology.
He certainly stood out. First, he’s built like an action figure. Second, he wants to live forever (that’s the transhumanist part). His presidential campaign is built around calls to fund further science that will – the movement hopes – one day make immortality a reality.
He, of course, is not going to become the next president. But that’s not the point. His campaign is designed to bring attention to his call for the US to put more money into research. This publicity drive is enhanced by his campaign bus – a 40-foot long coffin on wheels.
(13) CLICKBAIT. Tickld’s “30 Things You Probably Missed in Star Wars: The Force Awakens” are on 30 different pages, so a lot depends on how irresistible you find this kind of lure.
(14) BILLBOARD PROTESTED. Yahoo! reports “Rose McGowan is speaking out against a billboard of Jennifer Lawrence in ‘X-Men’ for an important reason”.
The purpose of a movie billboard is not just to give viewers an idea of what the movie’s about, but also excite them enough to go see it. That’s why some people are concerned about what’s going down on a current billboard in Los Angeles for X-Men: Apocalypse featuring Jennifer Lawrence‘s character, Mystique, and Oscar Isaac as Apocalypse. I know what you’re thinking: how could anything involving Oscar Isaac and Jennifer Lawrence be bad? However, actress Rose McGowan, and a handful of others, have pointed out that it sends a pretty weird message, and we can’t help but agree. The billboard shows Apocalypse with his hand around Mystique’s throat, strangling her.
— Hollywood Reporter (@THR) June 2, 2016
(15) TABLET HARDWARE. “Hello From Londinium: Oldest Handwritten Documents In British History Discovered” on NPR.
Archaeologists in London have unearthed the oldest handwritten documents in Britain — a collection of notes, bills and contracts dating back nearly 2,000 years.
The discovery, a collection of more than 400 Roman waxed writing tablets, was announced Wednesday by the Museum of London Archaeology. The tablets were unearthed in London’s financial district during excavation work for a new building.
The Guardian has more on the tablets’ discovery:
“The tablets were found under a 1950s office block in the still smelly, wet mud of the lost river Walbrook, as the site was being cleared for a huge new European headquarters for Bloomberg.
” ‘They give us a glimpse into a carpet-bagging community in the new wild west frontier of the Roman empire,’ said Roger Tomlin, the expert on early Roman writing who spent a year poring over the faint scratches on slivers of fir wood recycled from old barrels.
The Bloomberg tablets, as the museum is calling them, date back to as early as A.D. 43.
(16) THE LATE PLAYWRIGHT. Francis Hamit, in “Film Producer Reveals Truth About Christopher Marlowe’s Death”.
After years of intensive research Francis Hamit is satisfied that he knows exactly how and why the Elizabethan poet and playwright Christopher Marlowe died on May 30th, 1593.
“It was a hit,” Hamit said, “A political assassination for reasons of state, ordered by Queen Elizabeth herself. Marlowe professed atheism, which would have been no big deal if he had not been the most famous and popular playwright of the Elizabethan stage. His fame meant that the deed had to be done secretly. Marlowe was also one of her spies and worked for the Secret Service under Sir Francis Walsingham and Sir Robert Cecil. The other men in the room with Marlowe at the time of his death were all friends of his and long-time agents for the Crown.”
“Marlowe infiltrated the Jesuit Seminary at Rhiems as a spy in 1585, and probably did other missions. He was part of Sir Walter Raleigh’s group of freethinkers, the so-called ‘School of the Night,’ and gave a lecture about atheism. His former chambermate and lover Thomas Kyd was arrested for having atheistic literature and revealed under torture that the documents were Marlowe’s. Additional accusations from informers got Marlowe arrested by the Privy Council and he was under investigation and restrictions when he died.”
For the last six years, Hamit has been developing these details into a screenplay, now being produced by famed film producer Gary Kurtz in the UK. The film will be directed by American film director Michael John Donahue, DGA. The underlying material is Hamit’s 1988 stageplay “MARLOWE: An Elizabethan Tragedy”.
“Actually the whole thing was Mike Donahue’s idea,” Hamit said. “He read the original stage play and suggested we make the film. We decided to make it in the UK because of the locations, the very deep bench of acting talent, and the generous tax incentives.” To that end, Hamit and his partner formed The Kit Marlowe Film Co. PLC with offices in London as well as Los Angeles and negotiated a North American film and video distribution deal with Lightyear Entertainment in 2015.
Hamit has done several drafts of the screenplay and just added a scene where Queen Elizabeth orders Marlowe’s death. “She did it for the best of reasons from her point of view,” Hamit said. “Her authority as Queen was based upon the Divine Right to Rule. Saying there was no God was a direct challenge to that authority. Marlowe had to go, and as quietly as possible. She pardoned the man who murdered him a month later.”
[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]