(1) HIGH PRAISE AND SOME CASH. A student stage production of Alien has earned the highest seal of approval – and it’s more than just kind words: “Ridley Scott Praises Students for ‘Alien’ Stage Show, Offers Funds for Encore Performance”.
“My hat comes off to all of you for your creativity, imagination, and determination to produce such an ambitious show,” Scott writes in the letter. “Limitations often produce the best results because imagination and determination can surpass any shortfalls and determine the way forward – always.”
Scott continues, “Self-sufficiency is what this country was largely based upon with its immigrant population coming in to a New World and working together. This is maybe the biggest lesson for all of you, and your future plans – stay with this determination, and this spirit in everything you do, and you will succeed – let nothing put you off – or set you back.”
The letter ends with Scott encouraging the students to put on a live production of his Oscar winner “Gladiator” next year. The director is currently working on a sequel to the blockbuster. Scott said he felt “very complimented” the students decided to use “Alien” as a source of inspiration. The filmmaker ended his note with good news: “Scott Free will advance some financial help to fund an encore performance of ‘Alien.’”
(2) CHICK-A-BOOM. In science news: they have fossils from very soon after Chicxulub hit. Like within a few hours afterward. Fish, dinosaurs, trees with amber, tektites. Science Daily has the story: “66-million-year-old deathbed linked to dinosaur-killing meteor”.
Paleontologists have found a fossil site in North Dakota that contains animals and plants killed and buried within an hour of the meteor impact that killed the dinosaurs 66 million years ago. This is the richest K-T boundary site ever found, incorporating insects, fish, mammals, dinosaurs and plants living at the end of the Cretaceous, mixed with tektites and rock created and scattered by the impact. The find shows that dinosaurs survived until the impact.
(3) UP AGAINST THE WALL. In anti-science news, Lonely Planet announced that “The Flat Earth Cruise wants to sail to the edge of the world in 2020”.
Despite real, scientific evidence to the contrary, the Flat Earth Society is continuing its quest to convince the world that spherical planets are a hoax and the earth is flat. In 2020, they’ll bring their message to the seas with a special cruise they promise will be “the biggest, boldest, best adventure yet.”
It may seem somewhat dangerous to embark on a cruise on a flat surface, given the danger of potentially falling off the edge. Fear not, however, as the flat earth theory proposes that we think of as Antarctica is actually a giant ice wall which “helps protect us from whatever lies beyond.”
(4) DIRECTOR CUT. NPR’s Chris Klimek says of Dumbo: “Elephants Never Forget, But Audiences Will”.
Dumbo, the first of three live-action(ish) remakes of beloved Disney cartoons due in the next four months (Aladdin is coming in May, The Lion King in June), coulda been a contender. Its director is Tim Burton, who began his career as an animator, and who has periodically returned to that medium for heartfelt, handmade pictures like Corpse Bride and Frankenweenie. More recently, Burton is the filmmaker most directly responsible for this cartoon-reclamation trend: His 2010 re-imagining of Alice in Wonderland took in more than a billion dollars around the world. Do you know anyone of any age who likes that film? Dumbo is better, but that’s a bar any able-bodied adult elephant could clear, no unusual talents necessary.
Once the most idiosyncratic of big-studio filmmakers, Burton has long since become a company man. This efficient, indistinct Dumbo could’ve been directed by any number of Chris Columbuses or Brad Peytons or Jon Favreaus (who made 2016’s The Jungle Book and that upcoming digitized Lion King) — able project managers all, and not a one of them possessed of the fevered imagination to pull off a Beetlejuice, never mind an Ed Wood. The docile Burton we have here is the one Warner Brothers’ wished they’d had on Batman Returns a generation ago, when parents and a certain billions-and-billions-served burger chain screamed about how the blockbuster sequel turned out awfully weird and kinky and violent, for a film they’d worked so hard to sell to children.
(5) SHIRAISHI OBIT. Voice actress Fuyumi Shiraishi passed away March 28 at the age of 82 reports Anime News Network.
She is arguably best known outside Japan for voicing Mirai in the first Mobile Suit Gundam anime series.
She won a Merit Award for lifetime achievement at the 9th Annual Seiy? Awards in 2015.
(6) RIMMER OBIT. Thunderbirds voice actor Shane Rimmer had died reports The Guardian.
Actor Shane Rimmer, who voiced the character of pilot Scott Tracy in Thunderbirds, has died. The official Gerry Anderson website carried the news, saying that the death of the 89 year old had been confirmed by his widow Sheila Rimmer. Rimmer died at home in the early hours of 29 March. No cause of death has been given.
… . The actor also contributed his voice to other Gerry Anderson projects including Joe 90 and Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, and appeared in person in the Anderson’s live action project UFO. Behind the scenes, Rimmer also wrote episodes of Captain Scarlet, Joe 90, The Secret Service and The Protectors.
As well as his work with Gerry and Sylvia Anderson he appeared in over 100 films including Dr Strangelove, Gandhi and Out of Africa. He played three different roles in three different James Bond movies, appearing in Diamonds Are Forever, You Only Live Twice, and The Spy Who Loved Me.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born March 29, 1923 — Geoffrey Ashe, 96. British historian and lecturer, Arthurian expert. His first book, King Arthur’s Avalon: The Story of Glastonbury, was published sixty years ago. He wrote one novel, The Finger and the Moon, set at Allhallows, a college near Glastonbury Tor.
- Born March 29, 1943 — Eric Idle, 76. Monty Python is genre, isn’t it? If not, I submit that The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Yellowbeard, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Quest for Camelot, Shrek the Third and Nearly Departed, an updated version of Topper, which he all hand in are.
- Born March 29, 1947 — Patricia Anthony. Flanders is one damn scary novel. A ghost story set in WW I it spooked me for nights after I read it and I don’t spook easily. Highly recommended. James Cameron purchased the movie rights to her Brother Termite novel and John Sayles wrote a script, but the movie has not been produced. (Died 2013.)
- Born March 29, 1948 — Bud Cort, 71. First genre role was in producer Roger Corman’s final film for AIP, Gas-s-s-s (also known as Gas! or It Became Necessary to Destroy the World in Order to Save It). Next was Brave New World which was followed by Invaders from Mars, a remake of the early Fifties film of that name. There was a pilot for a Bates Motel series (H’h?) but ignored the timeline from Psycho II and Psycho III. Last I’m going to note his voicing Toy Man in the Justice League and Superman animated series.
- Born March 29, 1955 — Marina Sirtis, 64. Counselor Deanna Troi in the Trekverse. I admit I never did find her role all that interesting. As for her roles outside of Trek, let’s see what we’ve got. Her first genre film appearance, The Wicked Lady, a highwayman film being noted here only for Sirtis somehow getting whipped while topless by Faye Dunaway. Waxwork II: Lost in Time as Gloria is her true genre film role followed shortly by a one-off on the The Return of Sherlock Holmes series as Lucrezia. And then there’s her mid Nineties voice acting as Demona on Gargoyles, possibly her best role to date. Skipping some one-offs on various genre series, her most recent appearance was on Titans, the DC streaming service based series, as Marie Granger in the “Hank and Dawn” episode.
- Born March 29, 1957 — Elizabeth Hand, 62. Not even going to attempt to summarise her brilliant career. I will say that my fav works by her are Wylding Hall, Illyria and Mortal Love.
- Born March 29, 1968 — Lucy Lawless, 51. Xena in Xena: Warrior Princess and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, cylon model Number Three D’Anna Biers on that Battlestar Galactica series. She also played Countess Palatine Ingrid von Marburg, the last of a line of Germanic witches on the Salem series. Her most recent genre role as Ruby Knowby, one of the Dark Ones, on the Ash vs Evil Dead series. Though not genre, she was Lucretia in Spartacus: Blood and Sand, its prequel Spartacus: Gods of the Arena and its sequel Spartacus: Vengeance.
(8) COMICS SECTION.
- Another Incidental Comic from Grant Snider:
(9) ON JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter has been patrolling the airwaves again: “Not a science fiction answer/question, but a good topic,” he says.
Answer: This 1883 classic ends with the words “A well-behaved little boy!”
All contestants got it wrong, with the questions, “Who is Little Lord Fauntleroy,” “What is The Velveteen Rabbit,” and “What is Peter Pan?”
The correct question: “Who is Pinocchio?”
(10) HELP WANTED. According to Jezebel, “Space Scientists Need Women Volunteers Who Will Stay in Bed Eating Pancakes for Two Months”.
Do you speak German and hate getting out of bed? That could be worth almost 19k to space scientists.
A study commissioned by NASA and the European Space Agency being conducted at the German Aerospace Center needs German-speaking, non-smoking women ages 22-55 to lie in bed for 60 days in order to help understand the impact of weightlessness on the body.
(11) NOT JUST CATS. It’s a veritable hitchhikers’ guide… “Dozens Of Nonnative Marine Species Have Invaded The Galapagos Islands”.
The Galapagos Islands are like a biological ark in the eastern Pacific Ocean. Giant tortoises live there, and swimming iguanas, and numerous species found nowhere else. It’s one of the world’s most protected places.
But scientists have discovered that dozens of exotic species have invaded the Galapagos — underwater.
Marine biologist James Carlton remembers when he first got to thinking that the famously wild Galapagos, a World Heritage, might not be as pristine as people thought. “On my first visit to the Galapagos,” he recalls, “I collected some samples from a boat bottom.” He found barnacles, sponges and other hitchhikers.
That was in 1987. Carlton didn’t know if the creatures he found were native or not. So about four years ago, he and a team of scientists decided to return and take a closer look.
“We didn’t know quite what to expect,” he says. They already knew there were lots of invasive species — species not native to the Galapagos — on land. But in the surrounding ocean, there were only five known species of invaders. Everything else, presumably, was native.
When Carlton’s team looked underwater, however, they found a horde of invaders. “Now we have 53, which is a rather stunning increase,” says marine biologist Gregory Ruiz, who was on the trip. “It’s about a tenfold increase.”
(12) AT LONG LAST. Try and look on the bright side —
[Thanks to P.J. Evans, JJ, rcade, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day BGrandrath.]