Still under the weather, so another short Scroll.
Feel free to add in comments that should have been scrolled today!
(1) SEAN CONNERY DIES. Actor Sean Connery died October 31. Here is an excerpt of Leonard Maltin’s tribute.
I only spoke to the actor a few times, but each meeting was memorable. The encounter I will never forget came when I was assigned to cover his hand-and-footprint ceremony at Grauman’s Chinese Theater in 1999 to promote the movie Entrapment, which costarred newcomer Catherine Zeta-Jones.
As we stood in the famous forecourt of Grauman’s, I asked what this honor meant to him. He gestured over his shoulder at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel and told me that he’d stayed there on his first trip to Los Angeles in the late 1950s. Now, decades later, he was here to perpetuate a tradition that went back even farther than his career.
He had vivid memories of his first trip to Movieland. “My expenses were a hundred bucks a week. I was staying in this hotel and found out that it was like sixteen bucks a day and I had nothing left for food, drink, or a car, so I walked from here to Fox. I got stopped once en route by the police saying, ‘Where are you going, buddy?’ I said, ‘I’m walking.’ He said, ‘Smartass, stay where you are.’ ” Once the problem was unraveled, Fox eventually agreed to give him a car and be more flexible with his per diem.
(2) BARD NOT BOND. [Item by Michael Toman.] On the off chance that Other Bardophile Readers of File 770 might also be interested in seeing a play with witches this Halloween, try Googling “Sean Connery Shakespeare Macbeth” for a link to see a young SC as the doomed Scottish king.
(3) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
- October 31, 1962 — First Spaceship On Venus premiered In the Eastern Bloc. It’s a 1960 East German/Polish film based on the 1951 Stanis?aw Lem novel The Astronauts. Lem did not like it at all and asked his name to be removed as he hated the strident politicization of the story. IMDB still lists him as the story source. Mystery Science Theater 3000 would lampoon it in 2008.
(4) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
- Born October 31, 1760 – Katsushika Hokusai. (Name given Japanese style, personal name last.) His famous woodblock sometimes called “The Great Wave Off Kanagawa” is actually a view of Mt. Fuji, first in a set (note Zelazny’s story “24 Views of Mt. Fuji, by Hokusai”). Here is “The Ghost of Oiwa” from One Hundred Ghost Tales. Here is The Oxford Book of the Supernatural. Here is “The Mansion of the Plates” used for Apparitions. Here is a magician. (Died 1849) [JH]
- Born October 31, 1795 – John Keats. In his twenty-five years he wrote poetry soon recognized as great. He said “My imagination is a monastery and I am its monk.” Here is Virgil Finlay’s illustration for “La belle dame sans merci”. This illustration by Bell for Endymion will remind you of some JK lines. Here is another illustration for Endymion (look up the myth if you don’t know it). Here is an Endymion illustration engraved by Joubert from a painting by Poynter. Here is an illustration by Riviére. JK wrote this sonnet about Chapman’s translation of Homer, a fantasist writing about a fantasist. (Died 1821) [JH]
- Born October 31, 1923 – Art Saha. Research chemist whose work was used on Space satellites. Futurian. President of the Lunarians (New York) and of the First Fandom organization. Edited half a dozen Year’s Best Fantasy, and with Don Wollheim, a score of Year’s Best SF. Program Book for SunCon the 35th Worldcon. Fan Guest of Honor at Empiricon 4, Unicon 10, Lunacon 29. First Fandom Hall of Fame. (Died 1999) [JH]
- Born October 31, 1937 – Jael, 83. Three dozen covers, thirty interiors; in her seventy-year career, ten-thousands of images all told. Here is Venus Plus X. Here is the Fall 1993 Aboriginal. Here is Letters to Jenny (note the author at upper right). Here is the Summer 2000 Dreams of Decadence. Interviewed in Lighthouse 2. Artbook Perceptualistics (with John Grant). [JH]
- Born October 31, 1941 – Dan Alderson. At JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) wrote software used by Voyager 1 & 2; his Trajectory Monitor used by low-thrust craft at least through 2008. Much-loved member of LASFS (Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society). Inspired the Alderson Drive in Niven & Pournelle’s Mote in God’s Eye and The Gripping Hand; Dan Forrester in Lucifer’s Hammer is based on him (German Wald is “forest”). Unfortunately self-esteem notoriously as low as his genius was high; he joked about it but meant it too; in one famous incident he said “We could always hold a self-denigration contest. Of course I’d lose,” cracking up his driver and nearly the car. (Died 1989) [JH]
- Born October 31, 1946 – Stephen Rea, 74. Actor who’s had a long genre history starting with the horror films of Cry of the Banshee, The Company of Wolves (from the Angela Carter short story)and The Doctor and the Devils. He’d later show up Interview with the Vampire, The Musketeer, FeardotCom, V for Vendetta, Underworld: Awakening, Werewolf: The Beast Among Us and Ruby Strangelove Young Witch. He had the role of Alexander Pope in the most excellent Counterpart series. (CE)
- Born October 31, 1958 – Ian Briggs, 62. He wrote two Seventh Doctor stories, “Dragonfire” and “The Curse of Fenric”, the former of which of which introduced Ace as the Doctor’s Companion. (The latter is one on my frequent rewatch list.) He novelized both for Target Books. He would write a Seventh Doctor story, “The Celestial Harmony Engine” for the Short Trips: Defining Patterns anthology. (CE)
- Born October 31, 1959 – Neal Stephenson, 61. Some years back, Longfellow Books had a genre book group. One of the staff who was a member of that group (as was I) took extreme dislike to The Diamond Age: Or, A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer. I don’t remember now why but it made re-read that and Snow Crash. My favorite novel by him by far is The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. (CE)
- Born October 31, 1961 – Peter Jackson, 59. I’m going to confess that I watched and liked the first of the Lord of The Rings films but got no further than that. I was never fond of The Two Towers as a novel so it wasn’t something I wanted to see as a film, and I like The Hobbit just fine as a novel thank you much having read it at least a half dozen times. Now however the Adventures of Tintin is quite amazing indeed. (CE)
- Born October 31, 1972 – Matt Smith, 48. He’s the current and longest-serving editor of long-running 2000 AD, and also the longest-running editor of its sister title Judge Dredd Magazine. He written three Judge Dredd novels plus a number of other genre novels based off the properties he edits. Along with Alan Ewing and Michael Carroll, he’s written the Judge Dredd audiobook, a take on the newly deputized Dredd. (CE)
- Born October 31, 1978 – Lara Möller, 42. Three novels and a shorter story for Shadowrun, two more short stories; also crime fiction, poems (in German). Backpacked in Australia for ten months; “helping [with a] cattle drive … in the Outback or picking oranges on a plantation is … completely different … from sitting at the computer in the office,” which she resumed. [JH]
- Born October 31, 1979 – Erica Cerra, 41. Best known as Deputy Jo Lupo on Eureka, certainly one of the best SF series ever done. She had a brief recurring role as Maya in Battlestar Galactica, plus the artificial intelligence A.L.I.E. and her creator Becca in The 100. Her most recent genre role was a recurring one as Duma on Supernatural. (CE)
(5) COMICS SECTION.
- The Argyle Sweater’s dope joke is classic (in a manner of speaking).
(6) SPECTRAL SCRIBERS. In “All The Famous Writers Who Have Reportedly Come Back As Ghosts” on CrimeReads, we learn that the ghosts of Lovecraft and Poe have been spotted and if you go to Baltimore’s The Horse You Came In On pub and deny that Poe’s ghost haunts the place, bottles will shake!
Concluding our brief list is the one you’ve all been waiting for: the ghost of Edgar Allan Poe. He is wildly believed to haunt several locations in and around Baltimore, the city where he died tragically at age forty. One of these locations is the catacombs of the Westminster Presbyterian Church (which just seems haunted to begin with), which was built on top of the Old Western Burial Grounds. Poe was buried there, though he was not interred in one of the graves that the church was constructed upon. But people claim to have seen his spirit wandering through the tunnels, as well as the hospital where he died, the military fort where he was based when he unhappily served in the army, and the street where he lived….
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, JJ, John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, Cat Eldridge, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kendall.]
Feel better soon, Mike.
Take care, Mike.
Best of recovery, Mike!
Feel better, Mike!
Get well soon, Mike!
(4) Dan Alderson is also the namesake of the Alderson Double Dyson Sphere and the Alderson Disk – both in Niven’s “Bigger than Worlds”.
Feel better soon, Mike.
3) I reviewed “The Silent Star” (“First Spaceship to Venus” is the US title) for Galactic Journey two years ago.
Get well soon!
Get well soon Mike!
“Scroll me a Pixel I’ll be back for breakfast”
Just a reminder that the Cats Laughing and Flash Girls recordings, plus the War for The Oaks trailer are all still available for free courtesy of the folks involved. Send me an email here if you’d like to download them.
Please take care of yourself, Mike.
Best wishes Mike.
I deleted my comment, if anyone saw it, because this might not be the ideal venue at the moment. Sorry.
I’m watching the Rocky Horror Picture Show retelling the Wisconsin Dems are doing and I’m horrified how awful that Tim Curry looks here. He appears to be in a wheelchair and spends the entire time smoking. Anyone here been following his career over the last few years?
Best wishes, Mike.
Cat, Curry had a major stroke in 2012 which left him partially paralyzed and reliant on a wheelchair, as well as causing speech difficulties.
JJ says Curry had a major stroke in 2012 which left him partially paralyzed and reliant on a wheelchair, as well as causing speech difficulties.
That explains that. They’ve been giving him verbally his lines as he obviously doesn’t always remember them and this is a live event.
I have sad news and apologies if this is not where you want to hear about it, but author Debra Doyle has died.
She taught many writers at Viable Paradise.
Feel better soon Mike.
Damn. She wrote some good stuff.
I’m sorry to hear this. I enjoyed many of her novels. My sympathies to her family.
Feel better, Mike.
4) I thought Peter Jackson’s adaptation of Mortal Engines was also pretty watchable; and his pre-LotR stuff (DeadAlive, The Frighteners, etc.) generally holds up pretty well, although YMMV in some cases depending on your tolerance for really broad slapstick gross-out humor.
“Pixels are a Scroll’s best File (Talk to me, John C. Winston)”
Joe H. says I thought Peter Jackson’s adaptation of Mortal Engines was also pretty watchable; and his pre-LotR stuff (DeadAlive, The Frighteners, etc.) generally holds up pretty well, although YMMV in some cases depending on your tolerance for really broad slapstick gross-out humor.
I haven’t seen Mortal Engines so couldn’t comment on it, and I’m not really a horror fan so hadn’t seen his early stuff. I did read several of the Mortal Engines novels and they were quite good.
Now listening to Simon R. Green’s The House on Widows Hill: An Ishmael Jones Mystery, a ghost story which is apt enough for the Day of The Dead.
Hope you feel better soon, Mike.
I thought Jackson’s Mortal Engines was visually stunning and the cast was good, but the story was very predictable.
ETA: I quite enjoyed The Frighteners.
There’ve been a couple of marginally interesting pieces on SNL this year. This season started out rough: The first three mostly left me cold, but last night and the week before were solid start to end. This is exceptionally funny! I recommend you watch it from the beginning below, but I’ve cued it up here to the relevant twenty seconds–really, the relevant three seconds and what leads up to it.
Last night’s Baby Yoda bit was probably the weak link in the show–it didn’t make me laugh out loud once, unlike all the other sketches–but this one cracked me up beginning to end. John Mulaney does such a good deadpan literal, Kate McKinnon and Kenan Thompson are a show by themselves, and Beck Bennett was perfect.
The Headless Horseman sketch from last night is worth looking up–it puts a whole new spin on the headless thing–but this one is better, with less ick factor:
This from two weeks ago was cut for time, and that’s a pity. That was a weaker show and this would’ve been a good addition. I’m not a Lovecraft Country watcher, but I am a watcher of watchers of all sorts, and this rings true enough–I’ve been her and I’ve been about everyone else at this tailgate–plus there’s much good character work:
I will stick up for all three LOTR movies — but only the director’s cut versions, not the original theater versions. The long versions are MUCH better and make much more sense.
In October reading, I did a bit better than September in number read, but still not really up to snuff.
Aaron, Rachel — Night Shift Dragons — I may have mentioned this one last month, I forget! Third in the series, worst so far. But in general I like the series very much. Fun narration by Emily Wood Zeller.
Addison, Katherine — The Angel of the Crows — This one has SUCH great narration, by Imogen Church. I can’t imagine it being nearly so much fun in text. A slightly steampunky take on Sherlock Holmes, with Holmes as an actual angel. The characters are more fun than the plot.
Shepherd, Mike — Mutineer — First in the Kris Longknife series. I dnfed this one with great prejudice. Clunky writing, Mary Sue, annoying moralizing.
Ellicott, Jessica — Murder in an English Village — First in a cozy mystery series set in the 20’s in a small English village. A pleasant read, but not outstanding in any way. Good narration by Barbara Rosenblat, including both English and American accents.
Butcher, Jim — Battle Ground — All-out, all the time. I will certainly be putting Dresden on my Best Series ballot — but if you haven’t read Dresden before, for heaven’s sake don’t start here! Excellent narration as always by James Marsters.
Ness, Patrick — Burn — This book is supposedly about a dragon working on a farm in an alternate 1957 Washington state. But it is SO not about that. It’s somewhat YA, but not annoyingly so, and there were several very surprising surprises along the way. A fun read. The narrator, Joniece Abbott-Pratt, was okay if not outstanding.
Stamper, Phil — The Gravity of Us — a coming-of-age/romance story, but genre-adjacent because the setting is about a teenager who is forced to move to Houston when his father gets selected for a NASA mission to Mars. This is YA, but not obnoxiously so, and our MC’s personal growth and the politics of the Mars mission are at least as important as the romance. Very well narrated by Michael Crouch, plus interspersed multi-narrator chapters that recreate Entertainment Tonight-style reporting on a reality show about the mission astronauts, which I thought were great.
Vo, Nghi — The Empress of Salt and Fortune — Vella about never assuming that an oppressed woman is going to stay that way. Lovely contemplative prose.
Klune, TJ — The House in the Cerulean Sea — Klune has been writing for years, but I think this is his first book to get a big publisher (Tor) and lots of PR. I’ve never really been a fan of Klune’s caricaturish style, but there’s no doubt that he’s a good writer, and this is a sweet story. Romance is present, but it isn’t the focus of the plot — it’s about acceptance and family and finding a place to belong and living instead of merely existing. Good narration by Dan Henning.
Wagers, KB — A Pale Light in the Black — First book in a new series about space Coast Guards. Unfortunately, I didn’t like it at all. The characters were okay, but there was amazingly little tension or propulsion throughout — and the whole book is amazingly science-free in irritating ways. Reading other reviews seems to indicate that if you’re a fan of Becky Chambers you’ll like it, and if you’re not, you won’t. Marisha Tapera narrates.
Roanhorse, Rebecca — Black Sun — I am SOOO mad at this book, but only because of its rackfratz-the-rackafratzin cliffhanger ending. I didn’t realize this is the first in a series, so when it suddenly came to a screeching halt I started yelling “SON of a BITCH!” at my phone. Yeah, really. 😉 You have been warned. Now, it’s not a perfect book — I thought the prose was sometimes clunky, and one of the main characters is TSTL — but the positives well outweigh the negatives, and I’ll definitely be reading book 2. This one has multiple narrators, who all seemed competent if not outstanding.
Clark, P Djeli — Ring Shout — Vella — I’m in the middle of this one right now. KKK members become actual monsters and get hunted in the 1920s Georgia. It’s certainly not boring, and in general I like Clark’s writing. Unfortunately I don’t much like the narrator, Channie Waites; though she’s fine with the Southern accent, she doesn’t even try other accents even when they’re clearly needed.
Now playing: “Throttleneck” by Brad Paisley
Feel better quick, Mike!
Get well soon, Mike!
Minor MST3K correction for next year: “First Spaceship on Venus” was episode #211 of the show — pretty early! — and first aired in 1990. 2008 was the year the episode was released on DVD. The MST3K wiki page has a bunch of trivia about the movie, but nothing that’s very interesting.
Hope you feel better soon, Mike!
4) I was lucky enough to see the whole “24 Views of Mt. Fuji” series at an exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston a few years ago. The woodblock prints are beautiful, and seeing the famous “Great Wave” was pretty cool.
I envy you.
Something I only discovered relatively recently: the “Great Wave” changed for me once I made the connection with Japanese writing. Japanese writing systems go top to bottom, but more importantly columns go from right to left (unlike English which is written from left to right). So when looking at the “Great Wave”, you should imagine that the wave is coming toward you, not moving away.
“The Great Wave” is from 36 Views of Mt Fuji. (It says so right on the work.)
But the Zelazny story is entitled, “24 Views of Mt. Fuji, by Hokusai”.
Which on further Googling is inspired by the Charles E. Tuttle version which only has 24 of the 36.
And just to complicate things a little further, there are actually 46 prints in the series, because it sold so well that Hokusai made 10 extra designs.
4) mr. Jackson’s Great War documentary, They Shall Not Grow Old, is very well worth the watching.
4) Heavenly Creatures is probably my favorite Jackson – the Lord of the Rings adaptations are rather curate’s eggs to me.
Have been minimally in contact with the world. I hope you’re better, Mike.
Lis Carey: I’m pretty much over my short-term malady. Now back to dealing with the long-term ones!
@Mike–Glad to hear it. Take care.