Pixel Scroll 4/30/19 Pixel My Blue Suede Scrolls

(1) WEIGHING IN ON THE TOLKIEN MOVIE. In the Catholic Herald, Fr. Michael Ward’s verdict is that “This Tolkien biopic is woefully unconvincing”.

…This handsome, earnest, yet overstuffed and poorly paced film deviates frequently from the historical record. Most seriously, it ignores Tolkien’s devout Christian faith: there is no indication that he served Mass daily as a boy or ever even entered a Catholic church. His punch-ups with Wiseman and drunken night-time profanities are, in comparison, unimportant inventions.

But departures from reality are inevitable in dramatisations, and enumerating them can quickly devolve into captiousness. What’s more relevant is whether the artistic licence results in a successful story. One expects a biopic to sit somewhat loose to the facts, yet one hopes it will also hold the attention and make one care about the characters, however far from real life they may diverge.

A helpful comparison is Richard Attenborough’s Shadowlands, the story of CS Lewis’s late marriage. It’s worthless as an account of actual events, but works brilliantly as a movie: engaging, well-structured, powerful and poignant.

Here, with Lewis’s friend Tolkien, it’s a different story. Incidents come thick and fast, but are strangely uninvolving….

Ward is the co-editor of The Cambridge Companion to CS Lewis.

(2) A MODEST PROPOSAL. Daniel Dern is making an offer –

Our dead tree edition of the Sunday New York Times this week (here in the year 2019 – April 28) included a special 12-page section, consisting of (a version of) Ted Chiang’s story, “Better Versions of You,” adapted from his story “Anxiety is the Dizziness of Freedom” from Chiang’s new (coming out May 7) collection Exhalation. Illustrations by Daehyun Kim/Moonassi.

According to social media, “The piece is PRINT ONLY.” (My brief searches don’t show otherwise; I’d been looking for it before I found this tweet.)

Once we’re done reading the story, I don’t feel the need to keep it. So I’m happy to pass it along to the first Filer who asks for it, via a comment to this post. (We’ll sort out snail addresses, etc. off-list. If need be, I’ll ask OGH to be the email-address intermediary.)

Beyond possibly the minor cost of mailing it, I’m not asking any $ for it.

OTOH, I’m happy if the recipient will in turn, once it’s arrived, make a modest (say, $10-$25) donation to some sf/fan related fund/fundraiser or other Good Cause (of their choice, e.g., the Gahan Wilson GoFundMe, or some WorldCon-related fundraiser — your choice, I don’t need to know what/who, how much, or whether). But this is an optional follow-through.

(I don’t see Chiang listed in the current ReaderCon Guests list, so you’d be on your own for trying to get it autographed.)

Let the clicking begin!

(3) BORDERLANDS CAFÉ CLOSES, BOOKSTORE STAYS OPEN. “After 10 years, Valencia Street’s Borderlands Cafe to shutter” reports Mission Local.

Owner Alan Beatts, also the owner of Borderlands Books — which will remain open on Valencia Street at least for the next year — said that the decision to shutter the cafe was, by and large, voluntary. He attributed the move to a confluence of factors, including staff retention, slumping sales, and his personal desire to focus on the bookstore….

(4) BLAME HIM FOR THANOS! Entertainment Weekly’s Christian Holub, in “Thanos Creator Jim Starlin Discusses His Avengers: Endgame Cameo And The Journey From Page To Screen”, has a profile of Jim Starlin, who created Thanos for Invincible Iron Man #55 in 1972, and says he enjoyed his cameo in the film and says the Thanos on screen is true to “the spirit of the character” he created.

“It’s more of a full circle than you realize,” Starlin says. “I got the assignment to draw Invincible Iron Man #55-56 because the regular penciller on it, George Tuska, had to go in for some elective surgery. So I did the first issue, which I plotted out with Mike Friedrich, and then the second one I worked with this writer Steve Gerber. We did a funny Iron Man issue, and Stan Lee hated it so much he fired both of us.”

(5) CAPTAIN AMERICA. “MIT students deck out dome with Captain America shield” – the Portland (ME) Press-Herald has the story.

MIT students over the weekend draped the university’s signature Great Dome with a giant cloth version of Captain America’s red, white and blue shield.

Their efforts drew a Twitter “Very cool!” from actor Chris Evans, the Massachusetts native who plays Captain America in “Avengers: Endgame.”

(6) HELP WANTED. Westercon bid chair Kevin Standlee posted the Tonopah [in 2021] Committee List. And they’re hoping to add more workers.

The Tonopah Westercon committee is a standing committee of San Francisco Science Fiction Conventions, Inc. answerable to the corporation’s Board of Directors. Our organizing committee consists of the following people, with others helping on an ad hoc basis.

Chair: Kevin Standlee (Co-chair, 2002 Worldcon, San José CA)
Assistant to Chair/Hospitality Lead : Lisa Hayes
Treasurer: Bruce Farr (Chair, Westercon 45 (1992), Phoenix AZ)
Facilities: Mike Willmoth (Chair, Westercon 62 (2009), Tempe AZ)
Website Planning: Cheryl Morgan
Travel Coordinator: Sandra Childress

Other Committee Members Without Portfolio:
David W. Clark (Chair, 1993 Worldcon, San Francisco CA)
Lisa Detusch Harrigan (Chair, Westercon 40 (1987), Oakland CA)
Kevin Roche (Co-Chair, Westercon 66 (2013), Sacramento CA and Chair, 2018 Worldcon, San José CA)
Andy Trembley (Co-Chair, Westercon 66 (2013), Sacramento CA)

(7) IT’S HISTORY. “And she’s not only merely dead, she’s really most sincerely dead.” At Gizmodo/io9, last Thursday’s Morning Spoilers column drops the news that “At Least One of the Game of Thrones Spinoff Series Is Truly Dead” and the creator is done, at least for now, at HBO. Tidbits for a dozen or so shows are shared in the column.

Speaking to the Hollywood Reporter, Bryan Cogman confirmed that his time with the franchise is over for now—because the spinoff series he was attached to is officially scrubbed…

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 30, 1926 Cloris Leachman, 93. I’ve got grist in the genre in Young Frankenstein as Frau Blücher. (Strange film.) she does her obligatory mouse role when she voices Euterpe in The Mouse and His Child. Next up is being The Lord’s Secretary in The Muppet Movie. (Always a fun time.) Hmmm… she’s Millie Crown in Shadow Play, a horror film that I don’t plan on seeing. Not my cup of tea. Lots of voice work from there out and I will only note her as Mrs. Tensedge in The Iron Giant, a great film indeed. She in the live action and I assume disgusting Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse as Ms. Fielder. 
  • Born April 30, 1934 Baird Searles. Best- known for his long running review columns in Asimov’sAmazing Stories and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. For a time, he managed a genre bookstore in New York City’s Greenwich Village, the Science Fiction Shop, which is no longer in business. With Brian Thomsen, he edited Halflings, Hobbits, Warrows & Weefolk: A Collection of Tales of Heroes Short in Stature, and among other publication that he wrote was the Cliff Notes on Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land. (Died 1993.)
  • Born April 30, 1938 Larry Niven, 81. One of my favourites author to read, be Ringworld, The Mote in God’s Eye with Jerry Pournelle, or the the Rainbow Mars stories, there’s always good reading there. What’s your favourite Niven story? 
  • Born April 30, 1968 Adam Stemple, 51. Son of Jane Yolen. One-time vocalist of Boiled in Lead. With Yolen, he’s written the Rock ‘n’ Roll Fairy TalesPay the Piper and Troll Bridge which are worth reading, plus the Seelie Wars trilogy which I’ve not read. He’s also written two Singer of Souls urban fantasies which I remember as engaging. 
  • Born April 30, 1973 Naomi Novik, 46. She wrote the Temeraire series which runs nine novels so far. Her first book, His Majesty’s Dragon, won the Compton Crook Award for best first novel in the science fiction and fantasy category. She most deservedly won the Nebula Award for Best Novel for Uprooted which is a most excellent read. I’ve not yet her Spinning Silver, so opinions are welcome.
  • Born April 30, 1982 Kirsten Dunst, 37. Her first genre role was as Claudio in Interview with the Vampire. Later genre roles include Judy Shepherd in Jumanji, voicing Christy Fimple in Small Soldiers, voicing Becky Thatcher in The Animated Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Mary Jane Watson in Spider-Man franchise,  voicing Kaena in Kaena: The Prophecy, and showing up on Star Trek: The Next Generation as Hedrilin in the “Dark Page” episode. She would have been nine years old in that episode! 
  • Born April 30, 1985 Gal Gadot, 34. Wonder Woman, of course, in the DC film universe. Other genre work, well, other than voicing Shank on Ralph Breaks the Internet, there really isn’t any. She did play Linnet Ridgeway Doyle in the Kenneth Branagh of Murder on the Orient Express which is quite lovely but hardly genre… 

(9) POOH INSPIRATION BURNS. CNN brings word that “Winnie the Pooh’s real-life Hundred Acre Wood hit by forest fire”. Authorities do not think it was deliberately set.

An overnight fire ripped through a forest in England that provided the setting for the Winnie the Pooh children’s stories.

The blaze at Ashdown Forest, in East Sussex, started at around 9.30 p.m. on Sunday and affected an area of more than 35 acres, according to the East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service.

Six fire crews were on the scene as flames fed on dry undergrowth in the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Winnie the Pooh author A.A. Milne, who lived in nearby Cotchford Farm, Hartfield, drew inspiration from Ashdown Forest to write the popular series of children’s books in the 1920s….

(10) PACHYDERM IN FLIGHT. “Dumbo: How we made the visual effects” – BBC has a video.

Moving Picture (MPC) company’s Richard Stammers, the Overall VFX Supervisor for the Walt Disney film Dumbo, tells BBC Click how the digital effects for the movie were put together.

(11) SPOILER ALERT. “Game of Thones: Secrets behind Winterfell battle episode” – the secrets apparently include “11 weeks of night shooting,” “Too cold to snow.”

It’s taken eight years, 70 episodes and thousands of deaths to get us to this moment.

The epic fight between the living and the dead in Game of Thrones was shown in the UK on Monday.

The episode, called The Long Night, lasted 82 minutes and took viewers on a rollercoaster journey featuring our favourite characters…

HBO, makers of the fantasy drama, have also released a behind-the-scenes video giving some of the secrets of how it all came together.

(12) RETRO REVIEWS. Steven J. Wright has completed his Retro Hugo Novel finalist reviews:

Retro Novel

(13) BEAUTIFUL BOOK. Look at the gorgeous endpapers in the Russian edition of Goss’ novel:

(14) CELEBRATING THE RONDO WINNERS. Steve Vertlieb sends his regards:

I want to take a moment this morning to wish hearty congratulations to all of this year’s most worthy Rondo Award winners. As always, the nominated films, television shows, writers, and artists were strong and worthy contenders, and each winner was deservedly voted the absolute best in his or her field of endeavor. In particular, however, I’d like to pay respect and homage to Veronica Carlson, Caroline Munro, and Martine Beswick whose long overdue recognition by The Rondo Hall of Fame was enthusiastically welcomed, and for my lifelong friend and brother, Wes Shank, whose loss late last Summer shattered us all, and whose entry last night into “The Monster Kid Hall of Fame” was a most fitting tribute to a beloved friend and fan. My personal remembrance of Wes was posted on File 770. Congratulations once again to all of this year’s most deserving Rondo Award winners. 

(15) WHERE NO CAT HAS GONE BEFORE. Well, cremated cat, says Space.com: “RIP Pikachu: Ashes of Beloved Cat Will Launch to Space in Cosmic Burial”.

A cat lover and space fan is about to make history by launching the remains of a cat named Pikachu into orbit around the Earth. 

“Pikachu will have a final send-off like no cat has ever had before,” Steve Munt, Pikachu’s owner, wrote on a GoFundMe page dedicated to raising funds for Pikachu’s space memorial. Thanks to a company called Celestis — which also offers memorial spaceflights for humans — the orange tabby’s cremated remains will hitch a ride to space as a small secondary payload on a satellite launch sometime in the next 18 months, Munt told Space.com

(16) MICE IN SPACE. These mice, however, made it to orbit while still alive. Ben Guarino in “Up in space, mice found a new way to play” in the Washington Post, says a paper in Scientific Reports discusses what happened to mice that spent a month in the International Space Station on the NASA Rodent Habitat.

After more than a week in space, young mice began to psrint and glide, as though they were zooming inside invisible hamster wheels.  The scientists called this circling behavior, which they hadn’t seen before, ‘racetracking.’  Within a few days, other mice joined the fray.  As a group, they ran laps around the habitats, reaching speeds of about a mile an hour.  It’s strange to watch.

(17) HEDGEHOGGING THE ROAD. Sonic The Hedgehog is fast enough to create a blue shift.

He’s a whole new speed of hero. Watch the new trailer for Sonic The Hedgehog, in theatres this November

[Thanks Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Daniel Dern, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Hampus Eckerman and/or Daniel Dern. It’s complicated.]

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.