(1) OUT OF THE BAG. Spies in Disguise just had a “super-secret” drop.
Super spy Lance Sterling (Will Smith) and scientist Walter Beckett (Tom Holland) are almost exact opposites. Lance is smooth, suave and debonair. Walter is … not. But when events take an unexpected turn, this unlikely duo are forced to team up for the ultimate mission that will require an almost impossible disguise – transforming Lance into the brave, fierce, majestic… pigeon. Walter and Lance suddenly have to work as a team, or the whole world is in peril. “Spies in Disguise” flies into theaters this Christmas.
(2) BOOMER DOOM. John Scalzi speaks sooth in “Reader Request Week 2019 #2: The War Between the Generations”.
…The special sauce of this particular moment of generational conflict is that it involves the Baby Boomers for the first time being the antagonists of the generational story, rather than either the protagonists or the somewhat neutral mainstream. The Boomers are now the older generation and are having a moment being seen as the ossified and inflexible group whose opinion is not worth considering, and they don’t appear to like it at all. There is the (some would say delicious) irony of the generation that famously professed it would never trust anyone over 30 having become the generation that those under 30 allegedly doesn’t trust. I’m pretty sure the Boomers don’t appreciate that irony at all.
(3) ON THE BLOCK. Time Out discusses auctions of collectibles from the Happiest Place on Earth in “A History of Disneyland & Walt Disney World”.
Since first being approached by one man and his collection of Disneyland materials about five years ago, gallery co-founder Mike Van Eaton has become a go-to figure for these auctions. He estimates that he sells about 98% of the stock each auction, so it’s no surprise that prolific collectors and former parks employees keep approaching him to offer relics on consignment. Those relationships are part of how he verifies the pieces’ provenance; he’ll consult with Disney Imagineers to separate the fan-made items from the park-used ones, and he’ll use the plausibility of their backstories to suss out how one It’s a Small World doll is from the Florida version of the ride, while another is clearly from a promotional storefront activation in New York (the use of electric parts instead of pneumatic was the tip-off). Others are more directly verifiable, like when a former county assessor dropped off official plans he’d overseen for the railroad that Walt Disney built in his Holmby Hills backyard.
(4) I’M BAAACK! Hollywood Collectibles will let you have this sweetheart for only $1,599. Easy payment plan available!
This stunning life-size wall display pays homage to the terrifying Alien Queen’s iconic battle with Ripley, in the climatic scenes of Aliens.
(5) ETCHISON MEMORIAL. Dennis Etchison’s memorial marker, “paid for by a long-term friend of his who wishes to remain anonymous,” is now in place at Pierce Brothers, Westwood Village. It’s marker #127 on the ‘Cenotaph’ wall, (quite near the graves of Ray and Maggie Bradbury).
(6) LE GUIN ON UK SCREENS. Another chance to see the BBC4 TV documentary “The Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin” which also has contributions from Margret Atwood and Neil Gaiman. The link only works in the UK – which will be fine for some of you.
(7) TIMING IS EVERYTHING. ScienceAlert says “NASA Has Detected Weird Orbital Movement From Two of Neptune’s Moons”.
Compared with Thalassa, Naiad’s orbit is tilted by about five degrees – it spends half of its time above Thalassa and half of it below, in a linked orbit that’s unlike anything else on record.
“We refer to this repeating pattern as a resonance,” says physicist Marina Brozovic, from the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “There are many different types of dances that planets, moons and asteroids can follow, but this one has never been seen before.”
The two small moons’ orbits are only around 1,850 kilometres (1,150 miles) apart, but they are perfectly timed and choreographed to keep avoiding each other. Naiad takes seven hours to circle Neptune, while Thalassa takes seven and a half on the outside track.
(8) INFLUENCER RULES. Pirated Thoughts provides a reader update: “Explaining the FTC’s New Social Media Influencer Sponsorship Disclosure Rules”.
When to Disclose
Influencers must disclose when they have any financial, employment, personal, or family relationship with a brand. If given free or discounted products, an Influencer is required to disclose this information even if they were not asked to mention that product. The FTC reminds Influencers that even wearing tags or pins that show favorability towards a company can be considered endorsements of said company. However, if you simply enjoy a product and want to talk about the product, you are not required to declare that you don’t have a relationship with that brand. Lastly, even if these posts are made from abroad, U.S. law will still apply if it is reasonably foreseeable that the post will affect U.S. consumers.
(9) BIG TROUBLE. Galactic Journey’s Jessica Holmes is tuned in for the latest (55 years ago) doctoral thesis: [November 17, 1964] A Continuing Adventure In Space And Time (Doctor Who: Planet Of Giants).
PLANET OF GIANTS
AWOOOGA, AWOOOGA. We’re barely a minute in and already things are going wrong aboard the good ship TARDIS. As the Doctor brings her in to land, the doors start opening by themselves. Fortunately, the companions manage to get them closed and they land safely. Or do they? The Doctor is very agitated about the doors opening, but doesn’t do a good job of explaining what it is that’s bothering him. Something strange is afoot, that’s for sure.
(10) WHO CLUES. Mirror UK is in tune with the series’ more current events: “Doctor Who series 12 release date, cast, episodes, plot for Jodie Whittaker return”. Lots of hints, like this one:
Doctor Who series 12 release date
Doctor Who series 12 is due to air in very early 2020.
However, fans should keep an eye out for something on November 23 2019 , according to a recent BBC teaser.
There have been rumours of a surprise Christmas Special for December 25, 2019, but this will likely air in 2020 instead.
(11) DEEP THOUGHTS ABOUT STAR WARS. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Film blogger Darren Mooney has offered some pretty awesome analysis of Star Wars on Twitter. Thread starts here. Some highlights:
(12) TODAY IN HISTORY.
- November 18, 1928 — Steamboat Willie, was released featuring Mickey Mouse.
- November 18, 1959 — The Incredible Petrified World enjoyed its very first theatrical screening for residents of Burlington, North Carolina.
- November 18, 1992 — Killer Tomatoes Eat France! premiered in the U.S. home video marketplace. Written and directed by John De Bello, it starredJohn Astin, Marc Price and Angela Visser. It rates a surprisingly high 41% over at Rotten Tomatoes.
- November 18, 1994 — Star Trek Generations premiered. Starring Patrick Stewart and William Shatner, the film did very well but had a decidedly mixed critical reception and the film holds a 47% rating on Rotten Tomatoes currently.
(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born November 18, 1939 — Margaret Atwood, 80. Well there’s that work called The Handmaid’s Tale that garnering a lot of discussion now. There’s the excellent MaddAddam Trilogy which I recommend, and I’ve good things about The Penelopiad.
- Born November 18, 1946 — Alan Dean Foster, 73. There’s fifteen Pip and Flinx novels?!? Well the first five or so were superb. Spellsinger series is tasty too. Can’t say anything about his SW work as I ever got into reading what amounted to authorized fanfic.
- Born November 18, 1950 — Michael Swanwick, 69. I will single out The Iron Dragon’s Daughter and Jack Faust as the novels I remember liking the best. His short fiction superb and I see both Apple Books and Kindle have the most excellent Tales of Old Earth collection with this lovely cover.
- Born November 18, 1950 — Eric Pierpoint, 69. I’d say that he’s best-known for his role as George Francisco on the Alien Nation franchise. He has also appeared on each of the first four Trek spin-offs. And he’s got a very impressive number of genre one-offs which I’m sure y’all will tell me about.
- Born November 18, 1952 — Doug Fratz. Long-time fan and prolific reviewer for the New York Review of Science Fiction and Science Fiction Age who also published a number of zines including the superbly titled Alienated Critic. He was nominated for Best Fanzine Hugo four times. Mike has a remembrance of him here. (Died 2016.)
- Born November 18, 1953 — Alan Moore, 66. His best book is Voice of the Fire. Though the first volume of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen very close. Pity about the film. His worse work? The Lost Girls. Shudder.
- Born November 18, 1961 — Steven Moffat, 58. Showrunner, writer and executive producer of Doctor Who and Sherlock Holmes. His first Doctor Who script was for Doctor Who: The Curse of Fatal Death, a charity production that you can find on YouTube and I suggest you go watch now. He also co-wrote The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, a most excellent animated film. He has deservedly won four Hugo Awards.
(14) COMICS SECTION.
- Garfield depends on a rare astronomy lesson for a joke.
- Even one of the character’s is surprised by Garfield’s Asimov reference.
(15) EFFECTED OR AFFECTED? [Item by Olav Rokne.] On his personal blog, former Guardian SF book reviewer Damien Walter (@damiengwalter) admits that he didn’t read a single novel in 2019 — “I stopped reading novels last year. I think you did too.”
In an essay that gets a bit finger-pointy, he decries the state of novel writing, casts aspersions at NaNoRiMo books, and asks for something new that will “inspire” him. Warning: if you’re anything like me, you might find the piece a bit aggravating.
If anything killed the magic of the novel, it’s seeing the novel utterly degraded and disrespected by the fevered egos who crank out junk and self publish it on the Kindle. I really wish this didn’t effect how I see the novel, but inevitably, it does.
And mainstream publishing isn’t all that much better. They don’t seem to invest anywhere near enough into developing talented new writers. New writers are published too early, then disappear before they have a chance to develop, which rarely happens before half a dozen lesser novels have been published.
Curious about what the Filers have to say about Walter’s opinion.
(16) NO CAMERA TRICKS. BBC outlines “How Mary Poppins has changed for the stage”. The scene with the carpetbag is cited as an example of bad camera fakery; now they’re doing it live.
The stage adaptation of Mary Poppins is not the kind of show where the actors can afford to let their concentration lapse.
There are several precise and tricky cues for the cast to hit across the three-hour West End production.
Props have to appear from (or disappear into) thin air. There are magic tricks. Characters dance upside down on the ceiling. There are scenes that involve complex choreography, kite flying and statues coming to life.
It’s a testament to how tightly rehearsed the show is that nothing went wrong at the show’s opening night on Wednesday.
“It does sometimes!” laughs Zizi Strallen, who plays the legendary leading role. “But there are contingency plans, that’s the beauty of live theatre, and it’s my job to cover it up as well if it does go wrong.”
The most complicated part of the show, she says, is a scene which will be familiar to fans of the original 1964 film starring Julie Andrews, where Poppins is seen somehow pulling huge items out of a relatively small handbag.
“Not only am I singing and being Mary Poppins, I’m then essentially doing magic tricks,” Strallen explains, crediting the magic specialist who was hired to teach her. “There’s a magic teapot, bringing a plant out of the bag, a hat stand, a mirror, putting them all on the wall so they don’t fall off.
“There’s a lot of pressure in that number, a lot of things to think about. So my brain is going 100 miles per hour. And then when that number’s done I think ‘right, now I can just have fun’.”
(17) LAWFUL NEUTRAL. FastCompany says local governments are finding ways to keep this from being a purely rhetorical question, despite the FCC: “Should the internet be a public utility? Hundreds of cities are saying yes”.
Internet service providers like Comcast and Verizon are free to slow down, block, or prioritize internet traffic as they wish, without interference by the federal government. That’s the effect of an October ruling by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, upholding a 2017 ruling by the Federal Communications Commission that reversed rules requiring what is called “net neutrality“—treating all internet traffic equally, regardless of where it’s from or what kind of data it is.
Giving corporate telecom giants this power is wildly unpopular among the American people, who know that these companies have overcharged customers and interfered with users’ internet access in the past.
However, people who advocate for an open internet, free of corporate roadblocks, might find solace in another aspect of the court’s ruling: States and local governments may be able to mandate their own net neutrality rules.
The effort is underway
Governors in six states—Hawaii, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont—have already signed executive orders enforcing net neutrality by prohibiting state agencies from doing business with internet service providers that limit customers’ online access. Four states have passed their own laws requiring internet companies to treat all online content equally: California, Oregon, Washington, and Vermont. A New Hampshire bill is in the works.
More than 100 mayors representing both large urban centers such as San Francisco and small cities such as Edmond, Oklahoma, have pledged not to sign contracts with internet service providers that violate net neutrality.
(18) AVENUE 5. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Three words: Hugh Laurie. HBO. Space cruise. Comedy.
OK, that’s six words.
(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Sunspring, a Sci-Fi Short Film Starring Thomas Middleditch” on YouTube is a fim from Ars Technica based on a screenplay written by an AI who had digested hundreds of script for sf films and tv shows.
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Lise Andreasen, Olav Rokne, Cat Eldridge, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]