“Oh, Captain, My Captain”

Steve Vertlieb, William Shatner, and Erwin Vertlieb in 1969.

By Steve Vertlieb: I interviewed William Shatner for British magazine L’Incroyable Cinema in the Summer of 1969 at The Playhouse In The Park whilst Star Trek was still in the final days of its original network run on NBC. My old friend Allan Asherman, who joined Erwin and I for this once-in-a-lifetime meeting with Captain James Tiberius Kirk, astutely commented that I had now met all three of our legendary boyhood “Captains,” which included Jim Kirk (Bill Shatner), Flash Gordon/Buck Rogers (Larry “Buster” Crabbe), and Buzz Corry, commander of the Space Patrol (Ed Kemmer). It’s funny how an often-charmed life can include real life friendships with childhood heroes.

Steve Vertlieb and Buster Crabbe in 1979.

Boyhood hero Buster Crabbe was the special guest at a local Philadelphia nostalgia convention during the Spring of 1979, and took the trouble to search for me in the telephone directory. He telephoned my parents’ home and spoke with my father, asking him if he knew Steve Vertlieb. My dad said that he did, indeed, know me as I was his son. Buster said that he was in town for a few days, and asked my dad to have me call him so that we might meet for dinner. It took my father some thirty minutes to convince me that Buster had really called. I called him back at his hotel, and we dined the next evening at a restaurant in Philadelphia’s Chinatown where he playfully dumped some of his dinner into my own plate, and urged me to “Eat, Eat, Eat.”

Ed Kemmer and Steve Vertlieb.

Together with one of my earliest boyhood heroes and role models, Ed Kemmer, who starred as Commander Buzz Corry of the Space Patrol, broadcast every Saturday morning on ABC Television and radio in the early-to-mid 1950’s. After this initial meeting, Ed and I remained friends through correspondence until his passing. Ed was a great guy. It was a thrill to meet him finally after some fifty years, and to develop a friendship with him in the years before he passed.

Remembering Mike Raditz

[Regular contributor Steve Vertlieb suffered a family loss and wanted to share his memories.]

By Steve Vertlieb: Mike (Michael) Raditz was one of the more colorful characters in the proverbial bark of my family tree. He was my first cousin, the son of my aunt Ann who was my dad’s sister. Ann married a wonderful artist by the name of Mark Raditz, and they had three children…Audrey (who had a beautiful soprano voice, and sang with Eugene Ormandy as a young girl), Eddie (who became a successful concert violinist) and Michael. Michael was the baby of the family, and closer (although a few years older than I) to my own age. As children, Mike would play with my cousins Marsha, Helene, Myra, and I. We were somewhat mischievous in those formative years of the early to mid nineteen fifties. We’d often congregate at my Zayda’s (grandfather) house in the traditionally Jewish neighborhood of Strawberry Mansion in Philadelphia. When our parents attended Shul during the Orthodox High Holidays at synagogue B’nai Menasha during Rosh Hashanna and Yom Kippur, Michael, Marsha, Helene, Myra, and I would beg for ice cream in my Zayda’s (Samuel Vertlieb) store, adjoining the family home.

As we grew up and, presumably, matured I began to lose touch with Michael. My parents never owned a car while I was growing up, and so we would have to take a bus whenever we would go out…except for the times when there was a family gathering. It was then that my Uncle Lee and Aunt Jesse (Marsha’s mom and dad) would pick us up, and drive us to family events and gatherings. Mike was, after all, a few years older than myself and, as he should, began gravitating to friends closer to his own age.

Mike loved opera, as I recall, and was always talking about the music and the vocalists whose voices would serenade and sweetly resonate through the walls of his home. He was also a huge baseball fan. Michael never married, but had lots of friends with interests similar to his own. In later years, as a growing sense of family and my own roots seemed to envelop me following my divorce from my wife in 1996, I began to reach out to what remained of my family. We’d schedule monthly family lunches, usually on a Saturday afternoon, and congregate at The Olive Garden on Roosevelt Boulevard. Michael would join Marsha, Helene, my brother Erwin (when visiting from Los Angeles), Shelly and I for a loving laugh fest in which Michael would happily regale us with with stories of our parents, and of their emigration from White Russia to Canada and, eventually, to Philadelphia, as well as their physical and emotional travails along the passage of time and history.

Mike was, you see, the keeper of the Vertlieb and Raditz family heritage, and was the patriarch of the second generation. He could talk for hours about each of our parents … their joys, their sorrows, and of the family secrets which had seemingly become lost to posterity. For my beloved mom’s 100th birthday party and dinner, Mike took some wonderful videos which, although somewhat dark due to the muted lighting of the restaurant, remain ever more precious to me today. Michael was eccentric, to be sure, but he was also among the most colorful characters whom it was ever my pleasure to know and call friend.

I last shared an evening with Mike about a year ago in December, 2017 when, at my invitation, he joined my brother Erwin and I for a delightful dinner at a quaint Japanese restaurant across the street from my apartment. We listened and laughed as Mike once again regaled us with loving stories of our families history, and of the sacred Jewish heritage paving the path for our own evolution, backgrounds, and birth.

I received a telephone call from my cousin Marsha last evening … the first evening of the new year … informing me that Michael had passed away of a heart attack nearly a year earlier in February, 2018. Our families had sadly drifted apart once more, as families will, and no one had made the effort to inform our dwindling numbers that Michael had passed. Marsha had, herself, inadvertently stumbled across the news only yesterday when accessing Mike’s Facebook page to wish him a Happy Birthday. Mike had succumbed, apparently, merely two months after spending a wonderful evening of dinner and conversation with Erwin and I. I remain deeply affected and saddened by the loss of this marvelous, deliciously colorful soul whose life had so joyously intersected my own. I love you, Mike. Rest well, my Cousin. Rest well, my friend. God willing, we shall meet again in a more ethereal reality while a younger soul, perhaps, will recount the stories of our own lives and memorable adventures on Earth, and perpetuate our family’s loving memory.

Vertlieb: Reflections On My Seventy-Third Birthday

By Steve Vertlieb:  As a writer, I’m seldom at a loss for words. As this bright and early Monday morning dawns and I patiently await the sunrise, however, I find that my emotions have somehow gotten the better of me. The past ten days have been comprised of a joyous whirlwind of activity, which I’ve happily shared with the two most important people in my life … my life long best friend and brother, Erwin, and my beloved, most adorable life partner and love, Rochelle Trust, or … as she is often, and most commonly referred to here … my sweet “Shelly Bear.” As many of you know, as evidenced, by the gentle, and generous flurry of activity and well wishes surrounding my seventy-third birthday this past Saturday, December 15th, I have wistfully grown yet another year older and, perhaps, wiser within these last memorable hours. During the annual celebration of this sadly irreversible process we visited New York City, and thrilled to the new Broadway musical based upon my favorite film, King Kong, and shared lots of hugs, kisses and tears … the latter experienced mere moments ago as I hugged my little brother and bid him adieu as he departed once more for his home in Los Angeles.

So now, as life continues as it inevitably must, I am faced with the prospect of living another year as best and most lovingly as I’m able. As I sit alone at my computer in the moments before darkness is swallowed by sunrise, I am humbled by an overwhelming sense of melancholy, realizing that, as Everett Sloane as Mr. Bernstein observed during a thoughtful moment in Citizen Kane, I am “nearer the end than the beginning,” Like many kindred spirits, I look back at nearly three-quarters of a century and recall moments of heartbreak, as well as moments of bliss, as I contemplate my future … the days, weeks, months, and all too increasingly precious years that may lie ahead … and wonder what experiences await me. I cherish the affection , happiness, and success that I’ve been fortunate enough to know, yet remember the loss, heartaches, and tragedies that have also helped to shape my destiny, as well as the admittedly flawed human being that I am and have become. I love my beautiful Shelly, and cherish the lifelong friendship of my brother, Erwin. I also revere the love of my many friends, both past and present, whose remarkable influence has ultimately transformed the poetic landscape that I have so gratefully shared these seventy-three years.

To those of you who have so graciously expressed your kindness and deeply appreciated affection toward this most unworthy soul upon the bittersweet occasion of my most recent birthday, I can only offer a deeply humble, and most profoundly grateful … Thank You. May we continue to share this roller coaster ride that is often, and most inadequately referred to as Life, and may we celebrate its wonders and infinite goodness together. Here’s to you.

Steve Vertlieb

Remembering Ray Milland

By Steve Vertlieb: My brother Erwin and I with the wonderful Oscar-winning actor Ray Milland during a not dissimilar “Lost Weekend” way back in 1967. Ray was appearing locally in Philadelphia, appearing live on stage during a national tour of “Hostile Witness.” He was kind, gracious and a gentleman … the very definition of an old world-class act, and a genuine Hollywood movie star.

Steve Vertlieb, Ray Milland, Erwin Vertlieb.

Ray Milland expressed sincere shock at his own youthful image from 1936. He said “WOW, is that Me??????, joyfully exclaiming that this was “when I had my own hair.”

Remembering Jerry Ohlinger (1943-2018)

By Steve Vertlieb: Jerry Ohlinger, who died November 12 was, perhaps, the first movie memorabilia dealer that I ever met or had dealings with. I entered organized fandom in the Fall of 1965 when my brother and I were invited by Forrest J Ackerman to attend the very first Famous Monsters of Filmland convention at Loew’s Midtown Manhattan Motor Inn in New York City. Jerry, along with Steven Sally, were very much a presence in the mid-sixties in New York, and their movie memorabilia shops were popular havens for movie geeks like myself who wanted to own a particular still, poster, or pressbook from our favorite films. Visiting Jerry Ohlinger’s Movie Memorabilia Shop became a singular rite of passage for anyone on the East Coast aspiring to be a serious movie collector. If you didn’t know Jerry, then you weren’t really a “fan.”

Jerry was very personable and friendly, as well as a wealth of knowledge and anecdotal information. As I grew comfortably into the passion of collecting half a century ago, Jerry became one of my principle contacts for source materials. I visited his shop in Manhattan periodically, and grew to enjoy a relationship with him over the years. In these mildly prehistoric days of early collecting, Jerry Ohlinger became the Monstrous maven who guided us through fannish heaven as we came to understand that virtually anything that we wanted, any significant piece of movie collectable, was available for a nominal fee. Jerry was, perhaps, the East Coast godfather for collectors of all shapes, sizes, and bank accounts.

Jerry was a warm, friendly guy with endless patience and a huge heart. He was especially good, kind, and generous to the remarkable cast of characters who worked for him … often housing, feeding, and caring for them when times were lean. These included Ray Pence who lived in the Roxborough section of Philadelphia for a time, and Mike Woodin who both became good pals and chums. Their presence at numerous conventions was always both reassuring and somehow comforting.

My ventures into the big apple had grown infrequent by the early eighties, but I would still bump into Jerry regularly at neighboring conventions in Philadelphia and New Jersey, and Jerry (though growing older like the rest of us) remained a warm, patient, and reassuring presence in my life. I hadn’t seen Jerry in years when I learned, to my infinite sadness the other day, that Jerry had lost his long battle to cancer. I was probably only in my late teens or early twenties when first I encountered the remarkable Jerry Ohlinger. I’ll turn seventy-three in mid December. Jerry Ohlinger occupied my thoughts, my memories, my heart, and my life for much of the past half century. His tutelage and warmth will ever remain firmly ingrained in my journey through fantasy, horror, and science fiction fandom. I was but a mere lad when first we met. I owe much of my life’s passion for collecting to you. Rest In Peace, old friend. My thoughts, memories, and my enduring affection go with you.

Where to Find the “Author’s Cut” of Vertlieb’s “Dracula In The Seventies: Prints Of Darkness”

By Steve Vertlieb: It was in 1997 that I first received a rather flattering telephone call from an editor in New York, asking if I’d be willing to participate in a new published anthology that he was compiling for Midnight Marquee Press. The book would assemble many genre writers of the period in a collaborative effort celebrating the “life,” and death of Bram Stoker’s literary creation Dracula in film.

The “editor,” whose name shall go unspoken here, said that he had grown up with my work in such publications as The Monster Times, and that he would be honored to include a chapter by me in the pages of his forthcoming book, which was to be called Dracula, The First Hundred Years. I was asked to write a somewhat light-hearted examination of the Dracula, and related vampire films, and television productions of the 1970’s. Prompted, perhaps, by his professed “love” for my work, I agreed, and began fabricating a new article for his publication.

I set about writing a lengthy new piece and, once finished, sent it off by mail to New York. I received a congratulatory telephone call from the “gentleman” in question shortly following its receipt, advising me that he was delighted with my work. He said that it was everything that he could have hoped for, and more, and that while many of his writers would need to be heavily edited, my work would be published essentially as I had written it.

Now, it’s normal for an editor to send each of his stable of writers the “proofs” of their edited work once completed, prior to publication, so that they might be gone over and approved for content. Months went by, however, without any further communication from the book’s editor. I’d begun hearing ominous rumblings from a number of writers, grumbling that their efforts had been heavily tampered with and changed, and that there was brewing trouble in “paradise.” I continued to rest easily, however, in the spoken assurance that my work would be published essentially as written.

When the book was at last published, however, I discovered to my horror that my work had been badly distorted, compromised, and truncated. Wherever I had spoken of actor Christopher Lee with affection and reverence, my text had been re-written to ridicule and attack him. Wherever I had spoken of actor Frank Langella with respect and admiration, my text had been re-written as would reflect the secret yearnings of a smitten school girl in drooling affection for her hero. Large chunks of my writing had been unceremoniously removed and altered, without either my knowledge or permission by an unscrupulous “editor” who had unkindly inserted his own cryptic observations and prejudice under my name and byline, shabbily using my personal reputation either to malign or revere the films and performances that he had either loved or loathed.

When I asked why he had done this to me, he replied that he thought that “it was funny.” Reviewers of the volume, who had taken offence to many of the cruel observations expressed supposedly by me, were harsh in their very personal criticism of my work. I set about composing a letter writing campaign to address these issues, stating rather forcefully that the offensive opinions determined objectionable were either edited, or added, after my work had been submitted, and neither with my knowledge or consent. Consequently, sales of the volume plummeted, and the editor complained that I had “murdered” his book.

In the twenty years since its publication, the title has come to be reviled by readers, and wholly disavowed by its unwitting publisher. In the decades that followed, I’d longed to have my work published in its entirety, and as originally conceived as written. Here, then, for the first time ever, and with the enthusiastic permission of Midnight Marquee Press, is the published premiere of my original work … “Dracula In The Seventies: Prints Of Darkness.”

Remembering Wes Shank

Wes Shank died August 13 at the age of 72.

By Steve Vertlieb:  We were lifelong friends, survivors, and part of a proud, if vanishing brotherhood of adoring movie fans. Dick Klemensen (crusading editor and publisher of Little Shoppe of Horrors Magazine) is pictured on the far left. I’m next to Dick. Next to me is the “Citizen Kane” of monster magazine publishing, Gary Svehla (founder and publisher of Midnight Marquee Press, and creator of the beloved “Fanex” film conventions in Baltimore, MD). On the far right is Walter (Wes) Shank.

Dick Klemensen, Steve Vertlieb, Gary Svehla, and Wes Shank.

I met Wes fifty-three years ago at Forry Ackerman’s very first “Famous Monsters of Filmland Magazine” convention in New York City in September, 1965. Wes was a renowned film, and film memorabilia collector, as well as the owner and “curator” of “The Blob.”

When I lost my job in television many decades ago, Wes offered me a job working with him at his film lab in Rosemont, Pa. He saved me when I most needed a helping hand.

Wes and I shared a history…a history of both laughter and tears. We didn’t always see eye to eye but, in the final analysis, he was my friend. He was a gentle soul, and loving husband of Judy Shank, and father to David Shank. I just received the terrible news that Wes passed away yesterday. I am in shock and denial. I cannot fathom the shocking reality of his passing. Wes made his mark in the world of fandom, and was a legendary, beloved figure to all who knew him.

Wes was a gentle soul, and avid film memorabilia collector, known largely for being the owner and keeper of “The Blob.” Pennsylvania’s Blob Fest was always enlivened by Wes’s appearance in the company of his famed gelatinous friend. He was also responsible for locating the infamous censored scenes from the original King Kong, which were then loving restored by Janus Films, and incorporated back into all modern prints of the film. Wes was simply a good guy, and a loving family man. My heart goes out to his wife, Judy, and his son, David. May God Bless his gentle soul.

I cannot imagine a world without Wes Shank. May you rest in peace, old friend. I shall always love you.

Steve Vertlieb, left. Wes Shank, right.

Film Music Review Celebrates Its Twentieth Anniversary

By Steve Vertlieb: Editor and composer Roger Hall is celebrating the twentieth anniversary of his acclaimed Film Music Review website with this special tribute to the glorious art of Music For The Movies. Roger has compiled a list of twenty favorite film scores of the past two decades, and has asked film music critic Steven Kennedy to do the same.

As the third component in this loving trilogy of film score adoration, I have put together a collection of my own twenty all-time favorite film scores, together with commentary on their historical value, as well as the reasons for my personal affection for each of them. Roger’s work as a music preservationist and composer is both admired and respected across the waves, and so it is both an honor and a privilege to share in this anniversary tribute to the screen music and composers who have so gloriously elevated our souls, and to a respected web home celebrating its twentieth year.

Pixel Scroll 6/29/18 My Pixel’s Back, It’s Going To Save My Reputation, If I Were You, I’d Take An Internet Vacation

(1) ‘TIS THE SEASON. It’s time now for yard signs to sprout on neighborhood lawns as Brianna Wu’s campaign stands up for the September 4 primary.

(2) SMALL PLEASURES. N.K. Jemisin is right about that —

(3) MATTHEW KRESSEL. Scott Edelman entreats you to share BBQ brosket with Matthew Kressel in episode 70 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.

This episode’s guest is Matthew Kressel, whose short story “The Last Novelist (or A Dead Lizard in the Yard)” was one of the finalists this year. He was a previous finalist twice before in the same category for “The Sounds of Old Earth” in 2014 and “The Meeker and the All-Seeing Eye” in 2015. His short stories have appeared in Lightspeed, Tor.com, Clarkesworld, Analog, Interzone, and many others, as well as in anthologies such as Mad Hatters and March Hares, Cyber World, The People of the Book, and more. His novel, King of Shards, was praised by NPR as being “majestic, resonant, reality-twisting madness.”

He was also nominated for a World Fantasy Award for his work editing the speculative fiction magazine Sybil’s Garage, and is the co-host—along with former Eating the Fantastic guest Ellen Datlow—of the Fantastic Fiction reading series held at the KGB Bar.

Our dinner Friday night that weekend was at Pork & Beans, which has been voted best BBQ in Pittsburgh.

We discussed the story of his accepted by an editor within an hour and then praised by Joyce Carol Oates, the ways in which famed editor Alice Turner was the catalyst which helped turn him into a writer, why after publishing only short stories for 10 years he eventually published a novel, how comments from his Altered Fluid writing workshop helped make his Nebula-nominated “The Sounds of Old Earth” a better story, why a writing self-help book made him swear off those kinds of self-help books, the secrets to having a happy, heathy writing career, why he’s grown to be OK with reading bad reviews, what he learned from reading slush at Sybil’s Garage, and much more

(4) FINNEGAN BEGIN AGAIN. Fatherly tells how “You Can Now Get Drunk Like Captain Kirk From ‘Star Trek’”.

This week, Silver Screen Bottling Co. announced an “official” James T. Kirk Straight Bourbon Whiskey. You can’t order this in a bar, yet, but you can pre-order a bottle right here, where they’re also selling signature glasses, and showing the whiskey next to cigars, even though Kirk never really smoked. (Except for that one time he was in a space prison in Star Trek VI.)

If you don’t want to order Star Trek whiskey online, the James T. Kirk Straight Bourbon Whiskey will also be on sale at San Diego Comic-Con, starting on July 19. At that point, Silver Screen Bottling Co. will announce other Star Trek-themed spirits.

(5) GORTON OBIT. Bob Gorton, former chairman of Pulpcon, passed away on May 31. Mike Chomko wrote a brief tribute.

A retired mathematics professor at the University of Dayton, Bob was known for his dry sense of humor. He served as an important bridge between the lengthy term of Rusty Hevelin as Pulpcon chairman and the founding of PulpFest in 2009. A quiet man, Bob was the winner of the Lamont Award in 2002, presented at Pulpcon 31 in Dayton, Ohio. He will be missed.

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • June 29, 1979 Moonraker premiered on this day theatrically

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born June 29 – Sharon Lawrence, 57. Amelia Earhart in Star Trek: Voyager, Maxima in the animated Superman series, and Vivian Cates in Wolf Lake, a short lived werewolves among us series.
  • Born June 29, 1920 – Ray Harryhausen.

Ray and Diana Harryhausen with Steve Vertlieb in 1990.

Steve Vertlieb invites you to hop over to The Thunder Child and read his “Ray Harryhausen Tribute”.

Ray Harryhausen remains one of the most revered figures in fantasy/sci-fi motion picture history. Born June 29th, 1920, Ray was not only a childhood hero, but became a dear and cherished friend of nearly fifty years duration. His work in films inspired and influenced generations of film makers, and garnered him a special Academy Award, presented by Tom Hanks, for a lifetime of cinematic achievement. Steven Spielberg joyously proclaimed that his own inspiration for directing “Jurassic Park” was the pioneering special effects work of Harryhausen. Published after his death several years ago, here is a celebration and loving remembrance of the life and work of cinematic master, and special effects genius, Ray Harryhausen. It is also the tender story of a very special man, as well as an often remarkable personal friendship. I love you, Ray. You filled my dreams, my life, and my world with your wondrous creatures.

Ray would have turned 98 years young had he lived. In remembrance of this wonderful soul, here is my affectionate tribute to my friend of nearly fifty years, and boyhood hero of interminable recollection and duration…the incomparable Stop Motion genius, and Oscar honored special effects pioneer, Ray Harryhausen. Journey with me now to a “Land Beyond Beyond” where dreams were born, Cyclopian creatures thundered across a primeval landscape, mythological dragons roared in awe struck wonder, and magical stallions ascended above the clouds…Once Upon A Time.

(8) COMICS SECTION.

(9) FARCE FIELD. Steven Levy in WIRED profiles Palmer Luckey, founder of Anduril Technologies, which aims to install a virtual surveillance system on the U.S.-Mexico border. “Inside Palmer Luckey’s Bid to Build a Border Wall”.

…Palmer Luckey—yes, that Palmer Luckey, the 25-year-old entrepreneur who founded the virtual reality company Oculus, sold it to Facebook, and then left Facebook in a haze of political controversy—hands me a Samsung Gear VR headset. Slipping it over my eyes, I am instantly immersed in a digital world that simulates the exact view I had just been enjoying in real life. In the virtual valley below is a glowing green square with text that reads PERSON 98%. Luckey directs me to tilt my head downward, toward the box, and suddenly an image pops up over the VR rendering. A human is making his way through the rugged sagebrush, a scene captured by cameras on a tower behind me. To his right I see another green box, this one labeled ANIMAL 86%. Zooming in on it brings up a photo of a calf, grazing a bit outside its usual range.

The system I’m trying out is Luckey’s solution to how the US should detect unauthorized border crossings. It merges VR with surveillance tools to create a digital wall that is not a barrier so much as a web of all-seeing eyes, with intelligence to know what it sees. Luckey’s company, Anduril Industries, is pitching its technology to the Department of Homeland Security as a complement to—or substitute for—much of President Trump’s promised physical wall along the border with Mexico.

Anduril is barely a year old, and the trespassing I’d witnessed was part of an informal test on a rancher’s private land. The company has installed three portable, 32-foot towers packed with radar, communications antennae, and a laser-­enhanced camera—the first implementation of a system Anduril is calling Lattice. It can detect and identify motion within about a 2-mile radius. The person I saw in my headset was an Anduril technician dispatched to the valley via ATV to demonstrate how the system works; he was about a mile away….

…Middle-earth buffs will recognize Anduril as the enchanted blade that was Aragorn’s go-to lethal weapon…”All of us are Lord of the Rings fans, so it was a pretty fun name,’ Luckey says. ‘Also, I have Anduril the sword hanging on my wall.  (Luckey procured a collector’s version, not the original movie prop.)…

Another fannish connection:  Anduril Industries has hired former MythBusters co-host Jamie Hyneman to develop an “autonomous firefighting machine’ called Sentry designed to put out California wildfires.  Hyneman, Levy reports, ‘built one of the fiercest battlebots in Robot Wars history.”

(10) THE STARS HIS DESTINATION. His facial expression is disturbingly like that of  Autopilot in the movie Airplane! — “Floating robot Cimon sent to International Space Station”.

An experimental robot with an animated cartoon face has been sent to the International Space Station (ISS) on board a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

Dubbed Cimon (Crew Interactive Mobile Companion), the device is intended as an “an AI-based assistant for astronauts”.

Cimon weighs 5kg but in zero gravity it will float move around thanks to 14 internal fans.

It is an attempt to find out whether robots and astronauts can collaborate.

To this end, Cimon is equipped with microphones and cameras that help it recognise Alexander Gerst, the German astronaut with whom it will work.

(11) SAFETY FIRST. Adweek tells why “This Lovable Aardman Animation Is a Cautionary Tale and a ‘Dam’ Good Lesson”.

Dammy, a Canadian beaver, learns vital safety lessons in this tuneful Aardman-animated video from Ontario Power Generation.

Our anthropomorphized hero—his big, flat tail jutting out from the seat of his pants—loves to fish from a rowboat, and dreams of landing “the big one.” Alas, his quest takes him perilously near a massive hydroelectric dam.

“Don’t ignore that warning sign, your life could be on the line,” croons Canadian folk and bluegrass singer Ken Whiteley on the campfire-song soundtrack he helped compose.

Hey, listen to the lyrics and steer clear of those turbines because the fur could really fly! Of course, Dammy dodges the whammy by the skin of his teeth.

 

(12) OUR FOREFATHERS, AND FOREMOTHERS. “Partaaaaay like it’s the 60’s. The 1860s, that is,” says Mike Kennedy. “This is cosplay like you’ve never seen before.”

An episode of the Vice video series, American Conventions, takes you inside the annual meeting of the Association of Lincoln Presenters in Freeport IL—which features more than a score of Abraham Lincolns, over a dozen Mary Todd Lincolns, and multiple other period costumers. Each of them seems dedicated to not just dressing the part, but being the part. The 12 minute video is interrupted by two short commercial breaks, but may should be worth your time. And, the ghods know we could use more people in this world with the ethics of Honest Abe (or at least those of his best nature; all people are flawed in some way). The video host—Darlene Demorizi—even gets into the spirit as she dresses as Lincoln and makes a heartfelt toast to the gathered crowd.

(13) ORGANIC INVENTORY OF ENCELADUS. Behind the paywall at Nature: “Macromolecular organic compounds from the depths of Enceladus”.

Saturn’s moon Enceladus harbours a global water ocean1, which lies under an ice crust and above a rocky core2. Through warm cracks in the crust3 a cryo-volcanic plume ejects ice grains and vapour into space4,5,6,7 that contain materials originating from the ocean8,9. Hydrothermal activity is suspected to occur deep inside the porous core10,11,12, powered by tidal dissipation13. So far, only simple organic compounds with molecular masses mostly below 50 atomic mass units have been observed in plume material6,14,15. Here we report observations of emitted ice grains containing concentrated and complex macromolecular organic material with molecular masses above 200 atomic mass units. The data constrain the macromolecular structure of organics detected in the ice grains and suggest the presence of a thin organic-rich film on top of the oceanic water table, where organic nucleation cores generated by the bursting of bubbles allow the probing of Enceladus’ organic inventory in enhanced concentrations.

The popular science version of this story is free on BBC: “Saturn moon a step closer to hosting life”.

Scientists have found complex carbon-based molecules in the waters of Saturn’s moon Enceladus.

Compounds like this have only previously been found on Earth, and in some meteorites.

They are thought to have formed in reactions between water and warm rock at the base of the moon’s subsurface ocean.

Though not a sign of life, their presence suggests Enceladus could play host to living organisms.

The discovery came from data gathered by the Cassini spacecraft….

(14) A WORLDWIDE REACH. Jeff VanderMeer shares his appreciation for “The International Covers of The Southern Reach Trilogy”. See the images at the link.

Ever since FSG Originals came out with the now-classic Southern Reach covers, there has been what seems like an ongoing competition to create amazing original art and design for other editions, from the somber grace of the original UK hardcovers to, well, the neon color of the UK paperbacks, which riffed off of FSG’s gutsy X hardcover design. An incredible amount of creativity has gone into these other editions. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but the Turkish, South Korean, and Spanish covers (Pablo Delcan!) are right up there. Not to mention the lovely Hungarian cut-out covers and a Ukrainian Brutalist Rubic’s Cube with a tiny cute bunny clinging to one of its levels.

(15) YOUTH WANTS TO KNOW. Yahoo! Entertainment listens in while “Mark Hamill and Chris Evans Discuss Whether a Lightsaber Could Break Captain America’s Shield”.

Mark Hamill and Chris Evans have answered a question that kids everywhere want to know: if Luke Skywalker and Captain America got into a fight, could Luke’s lightsaber break through Cap’s vibranium shield?

(16) INFINITY WAR IMPROVED. Carl Slaughter declares this is “Probably the best How It Should Have Ended episode yet.”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Jonathan Cowie, Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Allan Maurer, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]

Pixel Scroll 6/24/18 To File Where We Scrolled And Know The Pixel For The Fifth Time

(1) THUNDER LIZARDS MAKE BOX OFFICE NOISE. They tipped plenty of gold onto the scales this weekend: “‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’ Feasts on $150 Million Opening”.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdomtopped estimates to devour $150 million from 4,475 locations in North America this weekend. While it fell short of its predecessors’ record-shattering $208.8 million launch, the dinosaur sequel is off to a mighty start. The Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard-led tentpole has already amassed $711.5 million worldwide, including $561.5 million overseas.

“Fallen Kingdom” easily led the weekend as the lone wide release, though “Incredibles 2” enjoyed a heroic second weekend. The Disney Pixar sequel picked up another $80 million, bringing its domestic total to $350.3 million. The superhero blockbuster, directed by Brad Bird, launched with $182.7 million, making it the best opening for an animated feature and the eighth-biggest debut of all time.

(2) ROANHORSE INTERVIEW. AzCentral profiled Nebula-winning Rebecca Roanhorse: “Navajo legends come to life in Rebecca Roanhorse’s debut novel ‘Trail of Lightning'”

She also has a more personal inspiration. Born of Ohkay Owingeh (Pueblo) and African-American heritage, Roanhorse was adopted by an Anglo family and grew up in Texas. As an adult, she reunited with her indigenous birth mother in New Mexico and began to immerse herself in the culture. She picked up a law degree at the University of New Mexico and ended up marrying a Navajo man.

“I’ve been very lucky and very honored that so many Navajo folks have invited me into their families and shared with me, but I don’t presume to speak for the culture,” Roanhorse says. “I’m a fantasy writer, and this was the culture that I wanted to set my world in, because I love this culture. It’s something that I wanted to share and something that really spoke to me.” …

Q: There’s been some pushback against emerging voices in science fiction, especially women of color, particularly with the campaign a few years ago to vote against those authors for the Hugo Awards. How do you respond to that?

A: Science fiction, as Ursula LeGuin would probably tell you, is always about social issues. It’s never not been about social issues. Even if you’re writing rocket men going to space, you’re writing from a certain perspective. Whatever it is that defines your place in society, that’s where your voice comes from. So actually it makes a lot of sense that if science fiction is telling us what the future is supposed to look like, or fantasy is letting us play out our dream ideas of what society might be, that they would take up these issues of identity. I think it’s kind of exciting that you’re seeing the science-fiction and fantasy community push back against people like the Sad Puppies, the organizations that were trying to push out the voices, some of the underrepresented voices, from women of color, disabled voices, queer voices.

And the stories are great.

(3) BEWARE SPOILERS. Cinema Blend has a window into the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s future: “James Gunn Confirms When Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3 Will Take Place”. BEWARE AVENGERS SPOILAGE.

And just like that, one of the biggest mysteries surrounding the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise has been put to bed. Guardians 3 will indeed be set after the events of Infinity War. This seems to hint that the fallen Guardians might return, although it’s currently unclear exactly how that might occur.

James Gunn’s tweet reveals that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will be affected by the tragic events of the Russo Brothers’ Avengers movies. This is likely a relief for the fans, who wanted the story to continue moving forward, rather than backwards. And considering the insane fates of the Guardians’ members, simply ignoring their near-annihilation at the hands of Thanos would have felt disingenuous.

(4) COMING EXHIBIT. “‘Black Panther’ Is Coming To The Smithsonian’s African American Museum”. Artifacts from the movie will be displayed during the Smithsonian’s inaugural African American Film Festival in October.

After “Black Panther” basically broke the box office back in February, fans of the Marvel superhero movie have been clamoring for a sequel. But if you can’t wait for Hollywood to get its act together, the Smithsonian African American Museum of History and Culture has your back.

The museum announced Wednesday that it has acquired several objects from the film, including the Black Panther superhero costume. That is, the actual outfit that star Chadwick Boseman wore. On his body. While fighting to save Wakanda from evil.

…Curators are still in the process of figuring out plans for a permanent exhibit.

(5) DESTINATION MOON. And also on the way, a bit farther into the future, is the National Air and Space Museum’s exhibit “Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission”. It’s on the road now, and will come home to a permenant exhibit in 2021.

Building on centuries of imagination and scientific discovery, and on the Smithsonian’s unequaled collection of space artifacts, Destination Moon will show those who remember the 1960s as well as generations born afterward how an extraordinary combination of motivations, resources, technologies, and teamwork made it possible to send people and robots to the Moon. The new gallery will help visitors discover the scope of lunar exploration from ancient dreams to contemporary spacecraft missions. The entrance will feature a gigantic 1957 Moon mural by Chesley Bonestell, under which it presents lunar flight mythology, Jules Verne, early Moon movies, and 1950s spaceflight advocacy. Two of the Museum’s most treasured Apollo 11 artifacts will be on display: the Command Module Columbia and Neil Armstrong’s spacesuit. The gallery’s last section exhibits the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and a Space Launch System/Orion model and information about what has gone on at the Moon since the 1990s and what is happening now. A more focused touring version of the exhibition, called Destination Moon; The Apollo 11 Mission, features the Columbia. It is currently at the St. Louis Science Center and will continue to Pittsburgh and Seattle before returning to the Museum.

 

(6) CHABON COMIC REALIZED. NPR tells how “A Cornucopia Of Comic Artists Pay Homage To Michael Chabon’s Escapist”.

It’s got to be a bit daunting for a comics creator to contribute to an anthology revolving around Michael Chabon’s Escapist. Chabon created the Escapist in his 2000 novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, which won a Pulitzer Prize and set a new standard for highbrow treatment of comics. He’s an author who’s always expected great things from the form; in the keynote speech at the 2004 Eisner Awards (included in this volume), Chabon called for writers and artists “to … increase the sophistication of [comics’] language and visual grammar, to probe and explode the limits of the sequential panel, to give free reign to irony and tragedy and other grown-up-type modes of expression.”

It’s a hefty agenda, and the creators assembled here clearly feel its weight. For some, the pressure has proven to be a valuable impetus. Several of the most successful stories, inspired by the anti-Fascist politics of the Escapist in the novel, find contemporary relevance in his message of liberation. In “The Death of the Escapist” by Kevin McCarthy and Shawn Martinbrough, the Escapist’s skills inspire the citizens of a North Korea-like dictatorship to contemplate rebellion: “for the first time in their lives, they allow themselves to entertain the idea that escape … may be possible.”

(7) UNDER THE HAMMER. The original Star Wars’ Oscar-nominated art director finally cashed in this relic: “Han Solo ‘blaster’ fetches $550,000 in New York”.

A “blaster” used by Harrison Ford’s character Han Solo in the film Return of the Jedi has sold at auction in New York for $550,000 (£415,000).

The weapon, made mostly of wood, had previously spent more than 30 years in the possession of the film’s art director James Schoppe.

It sold for more than a lightsaber used by Mark Hamill in the first two Star Wars films, which fetched $450,000.

Despite being a much less sophisticated weapon, this Star Wars prop also brought in a heap of money:

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • June 24, 1983Twilight Zone – The Movie debuted.
  • June 24, 1987Spaceballs premiered theatrically.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Kathryn Sullivan learned from Breaking Cat News why books make the best cat beds.
  • Daniel Dern promises Get Fuzzy has “SFish refs.” And you know what that means. (Don’t you?)

(10) HOLY REPO, BATMAN! Hampus Eckerman wonders if Wayne Enterprises went broke. “The Batmobile has been taken into custody and is being auctioned off by the Swedish bailiffs,” according to this Swedish-language auction listing.

The following statistics have not been verified.

Length: 6 meters
Weight: 1750 kg
Max speed: 260 km/h
Chassis Lincoln Continental 1973
Motor 460 Ford big block V8. 550 hk
Chassis bulletproof carbonfiber

(11) DIVIDING THE BABY. Crazy Eddie’s Motie News looks ahead to the Saturn Awards and the Retro Hugos in “‘Get Out’ wins Bradbury Award plus my take on the Retro Hugo nominees”. The author makes a Solomonic decision about two Retro Hugo categories:

My picks would be between Forrest J Ackerman and his fanzine Voice of the Imagi-Nation and Donald A. Wollheim and The Phantagraph.  Ackerman was a bigger name in fandom while Wollheim eventually became a professional writer.  If I were a Hugo voter, which I’m not, I’d split the difference by voting Wollheim as the better writer and Ackerman’s fanzine as the better publication.

(12) BEGINNING OF THE ENDS. How It Ends is a new Netflix sff series.

As a mysterious apocalypse causes the spread of misinformation and violence, a man and his estranged father-in-law race across a chaotic and fractured country to save his pregnant wife. Starring Theo James, Forest Whitaker and Kat Graham, How It Ends premieres July 13 only on Netflix.

 

(13) SHOPPING FOR YOUR EDITOR. Amanda J. Spedding advises on “Finding the right editor, and when to run like hell” — what an editor is for, and how to assess prospective editors.

This post is brought to you by a Twitter thread I came across yesterday about the importance of editors. I recently wrote a post on just such a thing. If you’re disinclined to read that, I’ll break it down quickly: YOU NEED AN EDITOR.

Right then. Within this Twitter thread, I came across some information that needs to be addressed, so I’m chucking on my ranty-pants (they’re fabulous, by the way), and I’m going to give you some insights into what to look for in a good editor, and how to help find the right editor for you. Yes, not all editors will be the right fit. (I had a whole thing about editors being like pants, but it just got… weird.)

Aaaanywho, what had me don my ranty-pants was a writer explaining they’d been quoted $10,000 for an edit. I’ll just let that sink in. Ten grand. For an edit. Of one book. Oh, hell no. HELL NO. I don’t know who the so-called “editor” was who thought this was a reasonable quote. If I did, I would call them out on their bullshit. Because bullshit it is. I can’t even fathom an instance where quoting or even charging someone this amount is even within the realm of possibility. That, folks, is a scam. Run far. Run fast.

On the flipside, if you’re quoted say, $200 for a full edit of a novel – run far, run fast. No editor worth their salt would charge this little for a full edit. There’s a lot of skill that goes into editing, and most editors study to gain qualifications, to understand the nuances of English and its building blocks that go into great storytelling. Their qualifications and experience are worth more than two hundred bucks.

(14) THE PANIC OF 2942. Camestros Felapton worries about economic justice in Middle-Earth in “Dragons and wealth inequality”.

Dragons of the Smaug-Tolkien variety must have some interesting economic impacts. Smaug hoards gold and jewels in vast quantities. Notably, Smaug (and presumably other gold obsessed dragons) know specifically what they have hoarded. When Bilbo steals one of Smaug’s treasures, the dragon notices that it is gone. So Smaug’s lair isn’t like Scrooge McDuck’s vault full of coins – the dragon is hoarding possessions rather than coinage or more abstract tokens of wealth. That’s not to say some of a dragon’s gold isn’t in the form of coins but clearly, the dragon wants the coins for their own sake and not as a unit of currency. Each piece of the dragon’s hoard is uninterchangeable. Furthermore, a dragon has nothing to spend his wealth on – there aren’t dragon shops and the dragon’s interaction with other species is one of eating them or burning them to a crisp.

So when a dragon hoards gold, the gold is removed from the economy….

(15) DIGITAL GASLIGHTING. Cory Doctorow discusses “The Internet of Shit: a godsend for abusers and stalkers” at Boing Boing.

People who help domestic abuse survivors say that they are facing an epidemic of women whose abusers are torturing them by breaking into their home smart devices, gaslighting them by changing their thermostat settings, locking them out of their homes, spying on them through their cameras.

The abusers are often ex-partners who retain authentication passwords that allow them to access the IoT devices after a breakup.

Many of the women facing this abuse are wealthy and well-off (domestic abuse affects people of all incomes, but wealthier people are more likely to own these gadgets). In interviews with the NYT, survivors called it “jungle warfare” and “asymmetric warfare,” likening their ex-partners to guerrilla fighters attacking in secret….

The New York Times source article is here: “Thermostats, Locks and Lights: Digital Tools of Domestic Abuse”.

The people who called into the help hotlines and domestic violence shelters said they felt as if they were going crazy.

One woman had turned on her air-conditioner, but said it then switched off without her touching it. Another said the code numbers of the digital lock at her front door changed every day and she could not figure out why. Still another told an abuse help line that she kept hearing the doorbell ring, but no one was there.

Their stories are part of a new pattern of behavior in domestic abuse cases tied to the rise of smart home technology. Internet-connected locks, speakers, thermostats, lights and cameras that have been marketed as the newest conveniences are now also being used as a means for harassment, monitoring, revenge and control.

In more than 30 interviews with The New York Times, domestic abuse victims, their lawyers, shelter workers and emergency responders described how the technology was becoming an alarming new tool.

(16) THE LAST BITE. The Biology of Sharks and Rays investigates “The Extinction of Megalodon”.

To a greater or lesser extent, all living lamnids – including the White Shark – have a modified circulatory system that enables them to retain metabolic heat and extend their range into chilly waters. With the exception of the Shortfin Mako (Isurus oxyrinchus), which makes a good living even in tropical waters, all extant lamnids are primarily cold-water animals. Although some lamnids – like the White Shark – occasionally visit warmer waters, very few actually live there. Like the primates slathered in coconut oil on tropical beaches, warm water lamnids are generally tourists. And, like their human counterparts, they eventually go home. In contrast, megalodon does not seem to have extended its range into cool temperate waters. Despite its enormous body mass, megalodon may not have shared the lamnids’ ability to retain significant metabolic heat. This shortcoming may have effectively trapped Megalodon in discrete, ever-decreasing puddles of warm coastal waters. If, as Robert Purdy’s paleoecological study suggests, Megalodon was limited to warm waters and relied on coastal areas as pupping grounds – no matter from whence it descended or what it looked like – it had a very sandtiger-like life history. And this may have led to Megalodon’s ultimate undoing.

(17) WALK A MILE IN HER SHOES. April Wolfe in the Washington Post explores the issue of “women wearing unreasonable shoes in action films” with a discussion of Bryce Dallas Howard’s high heels in Jurassic World and interviews with costume designers Ellen Mirojnick and Black Panther costume designer Ruth Carter: “The tortured history of action-film heroines and their high heels. (‘Jurassic World,’ anyone?)”

…What became clear is that movie audiences are more attuned than ever to on-screen footwear, amid our culture’s greater scrutiny of gender norms in film. But a look back at the history of heroines in heels shows that the issue is more complex than it seems.

For instance, one reason “Jurassic World” caught flak is not just that Howard was wearing heels but also that Trevorrow didn’t hide them. Veteran costume designer Ellen Mirojnick (“Cliffhanger,” “Speed,” “Strange Days”) explained that it’s typical for characters dressed in heels to be shot in a way that their shoes are not visible during any of the action. Try finding a single frame of “Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters” in which you can clearly make out Gemma Arterton’s shoes in a fight.

“We do substitutes, where we might put a wedge [heel] on her, because you won’t be actually seeing her feet,” Mirojnick said. “So we build a .?.?. shoe that will have the right height for the scene, but the audience is never to assume she’s wearing anything but the heel we saw her in before.”

It’s often just too difficult to perform any stunts, even running, in a heel. Some films, such as “True Lies” or “Red,” show a heroine in heels and then make it a point to show her removing them, to represent her shedding that more feminine identity, which also makes the action sequences easier to perform….

(18) A MONSTER “KID” REMEMBERS. Movie fan Steve Vertlieb shares the story of his life in “A Monster Kid Remembers” at The Thunderchild.

Cosmic dreams (and provocative nightmares) of tantalizing journeys through time and space … infinite, conceptual exploration of the stars … alien creatures … Hammer Films … Universal Pictures … “King Kong” … Harryhausen dinosaurs … and Famous “Monsters” of all shapes, sizes, and creeds, both conceived and lovingly chronicled in books, magazines, journals, tabloids, and on line for half a century, inspired this affectionate, deeply personal, if slightly Monstrous, remembrance of a life in “horror” by a gray haired, unabashedly child like, Monster “Kid.”

[Thanks to Bonnie McDaniel, Carl Slaughter, Andrew Porter, Chip Hitchcock, Hampus Eckerman, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Kathryn Sullivan, Steve Vertlieb, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]