Here are 26 developments of interest to fans.
(1) There’s been a lot of reaction to File 770’s latest motto, including a suggestion that I put it on a badge ribbon for distribution at the Worldcon.
But it’s too long to fit on one ribbon, and it might be a little presumptuous to ask people wear a set — “The 770 Blog, that Wretched Hive” “continued next ribbon” “of Scum and Villainy.” “continued next ribbon” “John C. Wright”…
(2) Meanwhile, Bronycon is pushing the envelope of convention socializing with a set of color-coded bages:
We’ve adapted the color-coded badges popularized by the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) and made them available for people who want to express their communication preferences quickly and non-verbally. By doing this, you can notify everyone whether you want to be approached for interactions or not.
Here’s what the badges look like and what they mean:
- “Come Talk To Me!” A person wearing a green badge is actively seeking interaction. They may have trouble initating conversations, but it’s okay to come up and start a conversation with them.
- “Do I Know You?” A yellow badge means its wearer only wants to talk to people they recognize. Unless you’ve met this person face-to-face before, don’t start a conversation with them. If they start talking to you, you’re welcome to talk back.
- “Not Right Now.” If a person has a red badge showing, they do not want anyone to talk to them. They may approach others to talk, in which case it’s okay to respond. But unless you’ve been told you’re on someone’s “red list”, don’t start interacting with them.
(3) Lou Antonelli visited Heinlein’s birthplace and blogged about it in a post titled “Pilgrimage to Butler (or how Robert Heinlein’s ghost pranked me)”:
When I drove on Friday Kansas City to attend ConQuest, I noticed that Butler, Missouri – the birthplace of Robert Heinlein – was on the way. I decided that on the way back I would stop and visit the house where he was born in 1907. Monday morning I pulled off southbound Hwy. 71 and drove into Butler. The city has a few small signs noting the direction to the house, and I found it fairly easily. It is located at 805 North Fulton Street; a sign – which apparently once hung from a post – marking the spot (“Birthplace of Robert Heinlein, Dean of Science Fiction writers”) was propped up against the bottom of the porch. I took the obligatory selfie – which was hard to do because the sign was so low to the ground – and then hopped back into my car to continue the journey home. Crank. Grind. It wouldn’t turn over! I was completely shocked, because the car hadn’t given me a lick of trouble all weekend. It sounded fine, but wouldn’t kick in. I said, “Bob, if this is a prank, it’s not funny!”
(4) Adam Nimoy had planned to make a documentary called For The Love of Spock even before his dad, Leonard Nimoy, passed away. He has launched a Kickstarter appeal to help pay for it.
The funding of this film through Kickstarter will enable us to continue with production — which will mostly take the form of filming interviews of Dad’s friends, colleagues and family members. It will also enable us to license the hundreds of film clips and still photographs of Mr. Spock as he has appeared on television and in feature films over the last fifty years. Funding will then buy us time in the editing room, where I will be poring over the film clips and photographs and never-before-seen home movies as well as Star Trek artifacts — some of which have not seen the light of day for nearly fifty years!
As of this writing there has been $400,448 pledged of the $600,000 goal.
(5) Actor Lon Chaney Jr. is the only person to play all of the classic Hollywood movie monsters — the Wolf Man (“The Wolf Man”), Frankenstein’s monster (“The Ghost of Frankenstein”), Kharis, The Mummy (“The Mummy’s Tomb”) and Count Anthony Alucard, Dracula’s son (“Son of Dracula”).
(6) Alex Pappademas on Grantland makes some novel comparisons between pop and high culture in his review “’Mad Max’ As Hell: The Masterful, Maniacal, Surprisingly Feminist ‘Fury Road’”
J.G. Ballard — who knew a thing or two about speed, wastelands, the human death drive, and the mortification of flesh by flying auto parts — once described 1981’s The Road Warrior, the second of George Miller’s Mad Max movies, as “punk’s Sistine Chapel.” Ballard was not as big a fan of 1985’s Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. But even Michelangelo wasn’t immune to the impulse to sequelize, returning to the Apostolic Palace after nearly 25 years (and the Sack of Rome) to paint The Last Judgment above the chapel’s altar. It features a buff, wrathful Jesus, tons of un-fig-leafed full-frontal nudity, chaotic composition that rejected all notions of universal hierarchy, two-fisted angels clobbering wretched sinners, demons dragging the condemned down into hellfire, a likeness of one of Michelangelo’s critics with a snake’s jaws clamped on his nuts, and a cameo by the artist himself as a face on some flayed skin. The lesson here: If you have to come back, it’s best to come back hard-core.
(7) Trek-themed garden gnomes from ThinkGeek will give the Little People a laugh
Did you realize there’s a whole subculture of Star Trek horticulturists? There are daylilies named after Trek, a handful of hostas, and even a Star Trek begonia.
The perfect statuary to go with your newly-acquired Star Trek plants? Why, that would be the Star Trek Garden Gnomes, of course! They come in four flavors. Here’s how the base reads on each:
- Kirk – To boldly go where no man has gone before
- Kirk & Gorn – I shall be merciful and quick – Gorn
- Redshirt – Join Starfleet they said. It’d be fun they said
- Spock – Live long and prosper
(8) The star of Hannibal is a huge draw at the Shanghai Comic Convention?
Unlike many of her counterparts at the first Shanghai Comic Convention, she had decided to forgo a costume. But the 23-year-old automotive quality-control clerk nevertheless was living out her personal fantasy, plunking down $115 — 20% of her monthly salary — for a fleeting meeting with her idol, Mads Mikkelsen of the NBC show “Hannibal.”
Bashfully clutching photographic proof of her star encounter (“I look terrible next to him,” she lamented), Yang struggled to compose herself. She seemed unsure of whether she had just made the best decision of her life — or the worst.
“All fans are idiots, in a way,” she said, laughing at her profligate ways. “We will do anything to meet him, to talk to him, even for a few seconds.”
(9) Very amusing artwork by Murray Groat showing what it would be like if the adventures of Hergé’s classic comic character Tintin took place in a universe created by H.P. Lovecraft.
(10) Who ya gonna call? The firehouse from Ghostbusters will close for renovation,
The Ladder 8 company firehouse at 14 North Moore Street in Tribeca is about to be closed for a three-year gut renovation, despite having a received a perfectly good renovation circa 1984 from Drs. Venkman, Stanz, and Spengler, in the movie Ghostbusters . A Fire Department spokesperson claims that the renovation is being done so that the house will be better able to accommodate modern firetrucks, which are larger and heavier than they used to be.
But we know the real reason: Walter Peck from the Environmental Protection Agency tipped somebody off to the fact that there are dangerous and possibly hazardous waste chemicals, in the form of liquified ghosts, being stored in the basement.
(11) Anne Lamott, the writer’s writer, turned 61 and decided to share everything she’s learned with her Facebook followers:
- Chocolate with 70% cacao is not actually a food. It’s best use is as bait in snake traps.
- Writing: shitty first drafts. Butt in chair. Just do it. You own everything that happened to you. You are going to feel like hell if you never write the stuff that is tugging on the sleeves in your heart–your stories, visions, memories, songs: your truth, your version of things, in your voice. That is really all you have to offer us, and it’s why you were born
(12) Amy Sterling Casil’s business is perfecting a system for producing fixed format and flowable ePubs and perfect print books. Here’s her argument why it matters:
I just happened to buy the Stephen Jay Gould book not long after finishing the Bone Music ePub, and we spent plenty of time on that. I knew exactly what was wrong with the Gould book (W.W. Norton) and could tell the exact errors they made in producing it. Errors they would have seen immediately if they’d spent 1 second testing it on an actual device! And there are editing errors like typos etc. For $9.99. A disgrace.
(13) Doug Faunt, who was among those rescued when the HMS Bounty went down in a storm in 2012, is back at sea aboard a new tall ship.
(14) Larry Correia has a good cover story:
People ask me how much say an author has over their cover. At first? Zip. And by the time you are successful enough that your opinion actually does count, that means you’ve sold enough books that you trust the people who sell them for you.
(15) In Kenneth Turan’s coverage of the Cannes Film Festival includes interesting observations about the host city.
It’s not just the films that change here from year to year here, it’s the city as well.
The oldest gay bar in the south of France is now a gelato emporium. The once-spacious post office is now a luxury hotel. And the Cannes English Bookshop, a landmark for three decades, is going to be sold and possibly go out of business.
(16) Nick Mamatas on Storify shares some wisdom about short stories:
I’ve been reading a few short stories from students lately, and this is what I have noticed about them.
8. If the star you're orbiting is sending off flares like the petals of a liquid flower reaching fingerlike into the blackness of space, NO.
— Nick Mamatas (@NMamatas) May 18, 2015
(17) Murray Leinster’s “Runaway Skyscraper” is coming back as a fancy hotel. Andrew Porter observes, “Rooms starting at $500 a night, so maybe not a good venue for an SF convention.”
(The Wikipedia can fill you in about the original 1919 Murray Leinster story.)
(18) Daniel Dern sends along a brief rumination on Neal Stephenson’s new book Seveneves. (The title of which, a friend pointed out, is a palindrome.)
have been reading Seveneves,
The new big book from Neal Stephes:
breaks in seven peaze,
Each piece has seven paths,
Each path has seven maths.
Some maths are delta-Vs, and
The plot has many keys.
sub-plots and lots of peaze,
Many pages is Seveneves.
 Stephenson, that is, of course
 Including hams doing Morse code, and some, cough, paper pads
(19) John J. Miller would like to tag some newly discovered planetoids with Lovecraftian names:
I’m starting to think of the places we haven’t reconnoitered. Last year, when astronomers announced the existence of 2012 VP113 — a tiny planetoid well beyond the orbit of Pluto — I took to the website of National Review and made a suggestion: “Its name should be Yuggoth, in tribute to the writer H. P. Lovecraft.” I e-mailed the idea to Leslie S. Klinger, editor of The New Annotated Lovecraft. He replied that this wasn’t quite right, because Lovecraft clearly defined Yuggoth as Pluto, rather than as another thing. Then he mentioned an overlooked line from a fevered passage in “The Haunter of the Dark,” the last story Lovecraft ever wrote: “I remember Yuggoth, and more distant Shaggai, and the ultimate void of the black planets.” It recalled something that the astronomer Gerard P. Kuiper (of Kuiper-belt fame) once said to Clyde Tombaugh: “The finding of Pluto was an important discovery, but what you did not find out there is even more important.” Pluto may come into the clutches of our scientists and engineers, but the rest of us can always dream of Shaggai — a permanently undiscovered country.
(20) Alastair Reynolds may yet get the hang of writing filksongs.
Hey hey we're the monkeys. Because we share most of our genes with other primates and prosimians.
— Alastair Reynolds (@AquilaRift) June 16, 2015
People say we monkey around. But we're too busy developing tools and higher cognitive skills to put anybody down.
— Alastair Reynolds (@AquilaRift) June 16, 2015
(21) A Canadian library has documentary evidence that Han Solo shot first.
According to CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation), while trying to digitize the University of New Brunswick Library’s science fiction collection, librarian Kristian Brown stumbled upon an early draft of the “Star Wars” script.
The script, which is marked as a “fourth draft,” is dated March 15, 1976, well ahead of the film’s eventual 1977 release.
The most striking revelation centers around one of the most famous scenes in the film.
While at the Cantina Bar, Han Solo (Harrison Ford) is confronted by Jabba the Hutt’s henchman Greedo, who demands Han finally pay Jabba the money he owes him. The two of them come to blows, and Han Solo emerges as victorious. While that isn’t disputed, the real debate lies in whether Han or Gredo shot first.
(22) CBS Sunday Morning did a nice profile of the person who sat-in for Ray at the last Ray Bradbury Creativity Award — Bo Derek. Bo gave the award to Kirk Douglas. Bo and Ray were lifelong friends, who met in France.
By the way, Bo Derek will be in Sharknado 3. (So added to the Ray Bradbury reference this paragraph counts as a score for two File 770 narratives… )
(23) The LA Weekly enthusiastically reviewed Universal Studios’ new Simpsons-themed Springfield Area —
Built to surround and enhance the Simpsons Ride, which opened in 2008, the fully-immersive environment includes over a hogshead’s worth of living references. Some of them as huge and obvious as the Duff Brewery, Moe’s Tavern and Krusty Burger. Others are smaller and subtler, the kind of nerdy nuggets that give us geeks an extra special spring in our steps (Smilin’ Joe Fission!? Stools around Moe’s pool table in a nod to Uncle Moe’s Family Feedbag!? Yes.)
….Things just went full bizarro from there. We walked into a perfectly recreated Moe’s Tavern behind producer/animator/director David Silverman and the theme-park bartender asked him if he wanted a Duff…and he had one. All we could think was, “It’s the local lug who fills your mug with the drug you chug! And the guy who conceived it….drinking it….in it…b-b-but what about the dank? If Uncle Moe threatens ya, do you get a free steak?” Words can’t describe the feeling of self-referential meltdown that happened in that moment — so we won’t even try.
Universal’s food folks took their best shot at the artery-clogging victuals of Springfield (“The World’s Fattest Town”) with Krusty Burgers, Ribwiches, donuts and even Cletus’ Chicken Shack. Cletus’ employees didn’t know if they had anything that could flash-fry a buffalo in forty seconds, and that’s ok. All the food was awesomely outrageous (and full of secret hobo spices). Just don’t get on that gut-buggering jumble of a ride right afterward, you’ll probably regret it.
Besides the food, the gallons of Duff and the non-alcoholic (and presumably cough syrup-free) Flaming Moe’s, they packed the place with all sorts of crazy crap, a further immersive Krustyland, a Kwik-e-Mart and, yes, even a Disco Stu’s Disco (facade only, sadly). For the folks who might not get everything, or for those folks who need the reassurance, screens throughout the are played carefully curated snippets of Simpsons episodes. Satire piled upon satire, surrounded by hints and attribution…wrapped in riddles…wrapped in unexplained bacon.
On our way out, we were invited to take one of the larger-than-life-but-actually-real giant iconic pink donuts. To keep us in the spirit, and as if on cue, some slack-jawed yokel asked if these donuts, branded as Lard Lad, came in a “gluten free form.” No. No they do not. Where’s a good satirist when you need one?
(24) On the opposite coast, Anthony Bourdain plans to open a giant Blade Runner-themed food market in NYC.
Hidden throughout New York City are bustling food halls like Gansevoort Market or Smorgasburg. But for those who ever said, “I had in mind something a little more radical,” Anthony Bourdain has the solution. The celebrity chef will soon open a 100,000-square-foot International Food Market at the newly renovated SuperPier on Pier 57. Oh, and did I mention it’s inspired by Blade Runner?
Yes, the chaos and clamor of the market place from Ridley Scott’s dystopian masterpiece will be coming to Manhattan’s West Side. “It is meant to be crowded and chaotic because that’s what hawker centres should be,” said Bourdain’s partner Stephen Wether at the 2015 World Street Food Congress in Singapore. “It should activate all of your senses.”
Plans for the space, which eats up pretty much all of the SuperPier’s retail allotment, include a farmers market, hawker-style street food stalls, a 1,500-square-foot oyster bar, a bakery, butchers, a tapas bar, a tea shop, a pastry shop, and potentially even an outdoor Asian-themed beer garden. As Bourdain put it, foodies will be able to enjoy “expertly sliced Iberico ham and some Cava or Kuching-style laksa [soup], Chinese lamb noodles, Vietnamese pho or a decent barbecue brisket all in one place.”
(25) Whatever happened to “No shirt, no pants, no service”?
I guess the rules are different for Spartans:
Fortunately, during this unusual detachment no one fought and all survived. In the subway, “Spartans” advertised access to DVD movie “300: Dawn of empire.”
(26) Harlan Ellison was interviewed by The Jewish Advocate on the occasion of his 81st birthday.
Like any good Jewish son, Ellison had a Jewish mother. Serita Ellison survived her husband by 27 years, all of which were spent trying to figure out her increasingly famous author-screenwriterlecturer son.
“If something happened that was adventurous,” he says, “I would tell my mother. My mother would be very pleased, but I’m not quite sure she realized what it meant. She was more concerned with ‘Was I healthy? Was I working? Was I happily married? Was I unhappily married?’ She would come and visit me and tidy up the house. She was a regular Jewish mama.”
An autodidact, Ellison took pleasure in lecturing at hundreds of colleges that he never attended. The only person happier at his countless college appearances was Serita. “The moment I made my mother proud of me was when she came up from Florida in the middle of winter and was sitting in when I spoke at Yale. People would come up and present one of my books to her and would say, ‘Would you sign my book?’ My mother was in heaven. Afterward, we walked in the snow to a luncheon with a group of eminent scientists and she said, ‘I’m very proud of you.’ I swelled twelve times my size. I had made my mother proud.”
[Credit for these links goes out to Andrew Porter, Amy Sterling Casil, David K.M. Klaus,Martin Morse Wooster, and John King Tarpinian.]