Pixel Scroll 11/27/21 And In The Barkness Dine Them

(1) SEVERANCE PAY. On The Last Leg, Jodie Whittaker tells the host about her emotional final day on Doctor Who, and the souvenir she stole from the set.

(2) NANOWRIMO DEADLINE APPROACHES. November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) – and guess which month is almost over? Mad Genius Club’s Amanda S. Green hit the goal, but knows from experience what can happen when “NaNoWriMo meets real life”.

… But the real problem for me and for a number of other writers is NaNo is a complete deviation from our normal way of writing. To push through and finish “the book”, most of us have to turn off the internal editor. We have to give ourselves permission not to write in all the details we usually put in during the first draft. We have to remember that what comes out is not the final product but is, at best, an expanded outline which will need another month or two to get ready for publication….

(3) GATOR GENESIS. It’s interesting that a Gothamist writer claims to have authenticated this story, because during my early days in fandom I’d heard it was perpetrated by Galaxy editor H.L. Gold. “The Alligator In The Sewer: Evidence Behind NYC’s Urban Legend”. The Wikipedia also devotes an article to “Sewer alligator” legends.

On a chilly day in 2010 I stood on the steps of City Hall to hold a press conference. Equipped with a proclamation from the Manhattan Borough President and an enlarged clipping from the NY Times, I was there to announce the First Annual Alligator in the Sewer Day, a pseudo-holiday I have been celebrating every year since.

Exactly 75 years earlier, on February 9th 1935, New York City’s greatest urban legend was born, and the NYT story, which ran the following day, proved that legend was true.

“Alligator Found in Uptown Sewer,” read the headline. The piece recounted how some East Harlem teens were shoveling snow down a storm sewer when one of them noticed movement below. He peered into the darkness and was stunned by what he saw. “Honest, it’s an alligator!” he proclaimed to his buddies….

(4) NO AHHHS ARC. Camestros Felapton provides the “Interim, spoiler-free, review of Doctor Who: Flux” you may not have known you needed.

… Overall, I think so far it has been pretty good. Like previous Chibnall seasons, there’s no stand-out 100% future-classic episode but he is leaning into his strengths. Those strengths include a good sense of the aesthetics of “good” Doctor Who episodes (but not the substance of it) and longer story arcs. Rehashing classic villains isn’t a great way of moving the series forward but Chibnall’s attempts at new ideas previously have largely fallen flat, so…I think I prefer him playing it safe….

(5) A WAY OUT. New Scientist’s Sally Adee reviews Charlie Jane Anders’ new collection in “Even Greater Mistakes review: Short sci-fi stories without the sexism”. The post ends:

… But as Anders shows us, we have choices in how to deal with these rigged systems. We can always throw the whole lot in the bin.

(6) VINDICATION. Vincent Czyz, reviewing a new edition, says “The jury’s in. The critics who agreed with an early assessment that 1975’s Dhalgren is a ‘literary landmark’ get to touch champagne flutes and congratulate one another,” in “Book Review: Samuel R. Delany’s ‘Dhalgren’ – A Critical War of Words” at The Arts Fuse.

“Very few suspect the existence of this city. It is as if not only the media but the laws of perspective themselves have redesigned knowledge and perception to pass it by. Rumor says there is practically no power here. Neither television cameras nor on-the-spot broadcasts function: that such a catastrophe as this should be opaque, and therefore dull, to the electric nation! It is a city of inner discordances and retinal distortions.” – Samuel R. Delany, Dhalgren

Dhalgren is a tragic failure,” howled science fiction heavyweight Harlan Ellison in his February 1975 review for the Los Angeles Times. “An unrelenting bore of a literary exercise afflicted with elephantiasis, anemia of ideas, and malnutrition of plot.”

“I have just read the very best ever to come out of the science fiction field,” countered Theodore Sturgeon, another SF heavyweight who, in my opinion, was a tad heavier. “Having experienced it, you will stand taller, understand more, and press your horizons back a little further away than you ever knew they could go.” Galaxy Magazine published his take on Dhalgren after Ellison weighed in.

Critic Darrell Schweitzer, writing for the fanzine Outworld (October 1975), threw in with Ellison, calling Dhalgren “shockingly bad.” “It is a dreary, dead book,” he went on to say, “about as devoid of content as any piece of writing can be and still have the words arranged in any coherent order.”

That seems a pretty definitive judgment, and yet forty-five years later Schweitzer repented: “I have to admit that Dhalgren seems well on its way to fulfilling the definition of ‘great literature’ I give here, i.e., that it means something different to readers and different points in their lives, and they keep coming back to it.”…

(7) MARCHING ON TURKEY DAY. Gothamist has a large gallery of photos from the “2021 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade In NYC”. Here are two of them:

(8) LOVES A CHALLENGE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.]  In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna interviews Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote seven songs for the new Disney animated film Encanto and who will write new songs with Alan Menken for the live-action The Little Mermaid remake scheduled to be released in 2023. “’Encanto’’s Lin-Manuel Miranda has become a go-to songwriter for Disney”.

…But it was while working together on Disney’s 2016 animated hit “Moana” — which yielded Miranda’s Oscar-nominated “How Far I’ll Go” — that the composer vocalized an “I Want” wish to screenwriter Bush, who recalls: “He told me he wanted to write the definitive Latin American Disney musical.”

Soon the two were talking with Bush’s “Zootopia” collaborator and fellow brass musician Byron Howard,who would also become a writer-director on “Encanto” (as would Charise Castro Smith). They shared the experience of coming from large extended families. Out of that grew an “Encanto” story that spotlights a dozen main characters — “unheard of in Disney animation,” says Bush….

(9) PEDESTRIAN FACTS. MeTV wants you to know: “Here’s what’s on the ground in ‘The Jetsons’”.

…One of the most common misconceptions about The Jetsons is that the cartoon never shows the ground beneath Orbit City. The Jetson family lives in the Skypad Apartments. George works at Spacely Space Sprockets. Both cylindrical buildings project into the sky like birdhouses on long poles. It is a world of flying cars.

This optimistic vision of the 21st century often left viewers wondering — what is on the ground? Well, the answer is… hobos, walking birds, concrete and parks.

One of the best views of the surface level comes in the seventh episode, “The Flying Suit.” Remember, The Jetsons originally aired for a single season in 1962–63, as reruns kept it on Saturday mornings for years. Anyway, this particular episode revolves around W.C. Cogswell and Mr. Spacely both developing a red jumpsuit that allows people to fly. Meanwhile, Elroy had concocted pills that allow people to fly. A mix-up at the dry cleaners swaps the suits, and in the end, both companies think their flying suit is a dud. Besides, who wants to slip on a special unitard when you can just pop a pill? The episode closes with Cogswell tossing his X-1500 flying suit out the window, believing it to be worthless….

(10) SONDHEIM OBIT. Stephen Sondheim, whose works includes CompanyA Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the ForumSunday in the Park with GeorgeSweeney ToddFolliesInto the WoodsAssassins and lyrics for West Side Story and Gypsy, died November 26 at the age of 91. The New York Times obituary is here cites one of his lesser-known genre creations:

…Mr. Sondheim’s first professional show business job was not in the theater at all; through the agency representing Hammerstein, he was hired to write for a 1950s television comedy, “Topper,” about a fussbudget banker haunted by a pair of urbane ghosts. (Much later, Mr. Sondheim wrote a whodunit film script, “The Last of Sheila,” with the actor Anthony Perkins; it was produced in 1973 and directed by Herbert Ross.)

Sondheim coauthored this episode of the fantasy sitcom Topper in 1954 when he was 24.

(11) MEMORY LANE.

[By Cat Eldridge.]

1995 — Twenty-six years ago this evening, the writers of Deep Space Nine decided to riff off of James Bond with the “Our Man Bashir” episode. It was directed by Winrich Kolbe from a story that originated with a pitch from Assistant Script Coordinator Robert Gillan which was turned into a script by Producer Ronald D. Moore. 

Although the episode takes its title from Our Man Flint, a major inspiration for the story was the James Bond films. This obvious influence resulted in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer complaining to Paramount about it as they had GoldenEye coming out. Though why they thought it would affect the success of the film is a mystery as it was the best Pierce Brosnan Bond film and the most successful of his films. 

It was well-received at the time and has not been visited by the Suck Fairy which I hold is true of the entire series. Charlie Jane Anders at io9 considers it one of goofiest Deep Space Nine episodes, and Keith DeCandido at Tor.com says “holy crap is it fun”.  The trailer is here.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 27, 1907 L. Sprague de Camp. The Tales from Gavagan’s Bar he wrote with Fletcher Pratt are my favorite works by him. Best novel by him? I’d say that’s Lest Darkness Fall. His only Hugo was awarded at LoneStarCon2 for Time & Chance: An Autobiography. He got voted into the First Fandom Hall of Fame Award, and he got World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement. His very first Award was an IFA for Lands Beyond that he wrote with Willie Ley. (Died 2000.)
  • Born November 27, 1935 Verity Lambert. Founding Producer of Doctor Who. (When she was appointed to Who in 1963, she was BBC Television’s only female drama producer, as well as the youngest.) After leaving BBC, she’d oversee the Quatermass series at Thames. She’d return to BBC to Executive Produce three seasons of So Haunt Me, a supernatural series.  Wiki has her producing an episode of Doctor Who called “A Happy Ending” in 2006 which it tuns out is one of this fannish productions notable for the presence of Susan, played by Carole Ann Ford, the daughter of the First Doctor.  (Died 2007.)
  • Born November 27, 1940 Bruce Lee. His only genre role was as Kato in The Green Hornet which to my utter surprise only lasted for twenty-six episodes between 1966 and 1967. He also appeared on Batman in three episodes, “The Spell of Tut”, “Batman’s Satisfaction”, and “A Piece of The Action”. Despite the various weird rumors, including Triad induced curses about his death, it was quite mundane. Donald Teare, an experienced forensic scientist who had been recommended by Scotland Yard was assigned to the Lee case. His conclusion was “death by misadventure” caused by cerebral edema due to a reaction to compounds present in the combination Equagesic medication. (Died 1973.)
  • Born November 27, 1951 Melinda Snodgrass, 70. She wrote several episodes of Next Gen while being the series’ story editor during its second and third seasons. She has also contributed produced scripts for the series Odyssey 5Outer Limits, Beyond Reality, and SeaQuest DSV. She’s contributed a lot of stories of the Wild Cards series of which she is co-editor, and I’m very fond of her Imperials Saga which is what that promo blurb referring to Bridgerton was about. 
  • Born November 27, 1957 Michael A. Stackpole, 64. Best known for his myriad Star Wars and BattleTech books, but I’m going to single him out for the excellent Once a Hero which was nominated for a Nebula, his Conan the Barbarian novel, and the two Crown Colonies novels.
  • Born November 27, 1961 Samantha Bond, 60. Best known for playing Miss Moneypenny in four James Bond films during the series’ Pierce Brosnan years. She was also Mrs Wormwood in three episodes of The Sarah Jane Adventures, the spin-off of Doctor Who, and played Helga in Erik the Viking which written and directed by Terry Jones. 
  • Born November 27, 1963 Fisher Stevens, 58. He’s best remembered as Ben Jabituya in Short Circuit (and renamed Ben Jahveri in the sequel), Chuck Fishman on Early Edition, and Eugene “The Plague” Belford in Hackers. He’s also had roles on The HungerLostThe Mentalist, Medium and Elementary.
  • Born November 27, 1974 Jennifer O’Dell, 47. Her only meaningful role to date, genre or otherwise, has been that of Veronica on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World but what a pulp heroine she made there . She’s had some minor roles such on Charmed and Bones, and appearances on films such as Alien Battlefield and Dr. Laurie Williams on Vampire flick Slayer but nothing major to date.

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro  tells the story of Dorian Moneybags.

(14) MIYAZAKI RETURNING. “Studio Ghibli’s Hayao Miyazaki Comes Out Of Retirement For New Film”Deadline has the story.

Famed anime director Hayao Miyazaki revealed he is coming out of retirement once again to make a feature length animated film.

In an interview with the New York Times, Miyazaki didn’t give much detail about the film, but mentioned its based on Genzaburo Yoshino’s 1937 book How Do You Live? The story follows a teenage boy in Tokyo who moves in with his uncle after his father dies. The novel is reportedly one of the director’s favorites.

Miyazaki didn’t confirm if the film would have the same name as the book, but when asked why he was returning to direct the film, he simply answered “Because I wanted to.” Studio Ghibli co-founder and producer Toshio Suzuki described the new film as “fantasy on a grand scale.”…

(15) PURPLE PEOPLE. In the Washington Post, David Betancourt interviews Hailee Steinfeld, who plays Hawkeye’s sidekick Kate Bishop in Hawkeye but could play an increasingly important role in the MCU in the future. “Hailee Steinfeld of ‘Hawkeye’ could become the next big star of the Marvel universe”.

Hailee Steinfeld had no idea how much one color was about to take over her new superhero life.

Purple has become her second skin during the production and promotion of her highly anticipated series “Hawkeye.” Steinfeld kept seeing the color splashed across the “thousands” of pages she read of the Hawkeye comics, which she enjoyed so much she keeps them on display at her home. Both her character, Kate Bishop, and Clint Barton, played by Jeremy Renner, have purple suits — and it was obvious her chats with the wardrobe department on “Hawkeye” would have a singular focus.

“It’s so funny because, I of course obviously knew about the purple walking into this … but I guess maybe I didn’t. Because it has become my world,” Steinfeld told The Washington Post. “But I’m not mad about it. I do love the color purple.”…

(16) TO PROMOTE PRINT SALES. “Solana Beach Art Gallery to Host Dr. Seuss Art Collection” says Times of San Diego.

Exclusive Collections in Solana Beach announced this week it will host a private collection of artwork by beloved author Theodor Seuss Geisel, also known as Dr. Seuss.

Virtually unknown to the general public, the art collection features paintings and sculptures created by the famous children’s author.

Organizers described the work as “a mind-expanding collection based on decades of artwork, which Dr. Seuss created at night for his own personal pleasure.”

(17) CAVE LIBRUM. In the Washington Post, Alexandra Petri says we probably ought to ban all books, because books are dangerous! “School boards should ban all books. They’re just too dangerous.”

… Books follow you home and pry open your head and rearrange the things inside. They make you feel things, sometimes, hope and grief and shame and confusion; they tell you that you’re not alone, or that you are, that you shouldn’t feel ashamed, or that you should; replace your answers with questions or questions with answers. This feels dangerous to do, a strange operation to perform on yourself, especially late at night when everyone else in the house is sleeping….

(18) ANTIQ-TOCK-QUITY. “Surveillance, Companionship, and Entertainment: The Ancient History of Intelligent Machines” at The MIT Press Reader.

Robots have histories that extend far back into the past. Artificial servants, autonomous killing machines, surveillance systems, and sex robots all find expression from the human imagination in works and contexts beyond Ovid (43 BCE to 17 CE) and the story of Pygmalion in cultures across Eurasia and North Africa. This long history of our human-machine relationships also reminds us that our aspirations, fears, and fantasies about emergent technologies are not new, even as the circumstances in which they appear differ widely. Situating these objects, and the desires that create them, within deeper and broader contexts of time and space reveals continuities and divergences that, in turn, provide opportunities to critique and question contemporary ideas and desires about robots and artificial intelligence (AI)….

(19) STAR WARS NEWS. Disney dropped the trailer for their Boba Fett series today: “The Book of Boba Fett”.

“The Book of Boba Fett,” a thrilling Star Wars adventure teased in a surprise end-credit sequence following the Season 2 finale of “The Mandalorian,” finds legendary bounty hunter Boba Fett and mercenary Fennec Shand navigating the galaxy’s underworld when they return to the sands of Tatooine to stake their claim on the territory once ruled by Jabba the Hutt and his crime syndicate.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Alan Baumler, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

26 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 11/27/21 And In The Barkness Dine Them

  1. First!

    The “Our Man Bashir” episode done by Deep Space Nine was one of their finest hours, period. I rewatched it in preparing this Anniversary and it holds up remarkably well after all this time. You can see that the cast loved doing this episode!

  2. This may be a pedestrian answer, but my favorite de Camp remains the Harold Shea stories (also with Fletcher Pratt). I used to proudly wear my “Yngvi is a louse!” button, before it got lost in the mists of time.

    As far as Topper goes, I’ve read most of the books, but have never quite managed to catch any of the adaptations.

  3. 12) I also remember Mike Stackpole for a great deal of game designing work he did at Flying Buffalo in the Phoenix area. Although he wasn’t part of the team that produced and tested the original Tunnels & Trolls game in 1975, he joined them around 1978, when I left Phoenix for Colorado, and wrote several adventures for T&T. He was also a frequent contributor to “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” Flying Buffalo’s magazine dedicated to role-playing gaming.

  4. “It’s a dangerous business, opening up a book. You step into the story, and, if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no telling where you might be swept off to.”

  5. Paul Weimer says “It’s a dangerous business, opening up a book. You step into the story, and, if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no telling where you might be swept off to.”

    Ok where’s the quote from?

    Now listening to Tanya Huff’s most excellent Summon the Keeper and intending to listen to the entire series. I particularly like Austin, the seventeen year old feline who’s accurately portrayed.

  6. @Cat: It’s Gandalf, speaking to Frodo, I think, modified a bit:

    “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

  7. (3) Lots of gators in lots of sewers before 1935:

    Philadelphia Inquirer Nov. 8, 1886 “Newark, NJ — While MIchael Tighe and Alexander C. Dale were engaged in cleaning the large intercepting sewer here they found a live alligator three feet long.”

    Baltimore Sun Sep 3, 1891 “An Alligator Captured — Joseph Howard, an employee at Kearney’s Stables, St. Paul and Centre streets, captured a live alligator yesterday, which had crawled out of the sewer, and at that corner was basking in the sun on top of a gutter-plate.”

    Yale Michigan Expositor Nov. 9 1894 “A small alligator crawled out a sewer at Cadilac the other day and it is thought that it is one of an increasing family of alligators which have been hatched out by an alligator that escaped in the city a few years ago from an exhibition of Florida’s living curiosities.”

    New York Times July 21, 1907 headline “Alligator in the Sewer / Quite a Baby, but It Nipped the Hand of the Finder”

    Detroit Free Press Sep. 25, 1913 headline “Young Alligator Taken From Detroit Sewer Pipe”

    Philadelphia Inquirer Nov 28, 1916 “Collingswood, NJ — An alligator, 23 inches long, has been taken from the sewer in Collingswood by the employees of the sewer department.”

    New York Independent Sep. 18, 1920 headline “Mr. Alligator Cleans Sewers”

    Hartford Courant Aug. 12, 1929 headline “Finds Alligator in Providence Sewer”

  8. (1): This clip shows why it’s so hard for me to understand Jodie Whittaker; her accent unlike that of so many other Brits nears incomprehension. Hope the next Doctor is more understandable.

  9. Jim Janney: You mean Kevin Costner should have turned his cornfield into a sewage treatment plant?

  10. (11) Count me amongst the Niners. And that was a superb episode!

    @Jim Janney – Ha! I hope so.

  11. Miles Carter says Count me amongst the Niners. And that was a superb episode!

    I consider it among the best SF series ever done, up there with Farscape, Babylon 5 and Max Headroom.

  12. @Mike Glyer: now that I bother to look up emergent properties, they only appear after a certain level of complexity has been reached (which would explain why gators are only sighted in large cities). I don’t know if a cornfield would be big enough. But it would make an interesting movie.

  13. Jim Janney: Hm. Maybe not complex enough for alligators then. However, when I visited the Field of Dreams I was downwind of a lot of cows, and clearly they were not availing themselves of a sewer system.

  14. @Sheila Strickland: You’re right (I tend to attribute wise sounding things to Gandalf, but there are other of the Wise)

    @Jim/Mike: “A Sewer System Named Moebius”?

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