Pixel Scroll 2/24/21 Old Rossum’s Scroll Of Practical Credentials

(1) YOU TAKE THE HIGH ROAD. George R.R. Martin is involved in developing a series based on Roger Zelazny’s Roadmarks for HBO, as he explained at Not A Blog: “On the Road with Roger Z”:

… We had not intended to announce anything yet, to be sure. Development is a long and uncertain process. Thousands of shows are pitched, hundreds of pilots are written, dozens of pilots are filmed, but only a very few of them ever get greenlit to series. There is a reason that Hollywood insiders call it “development hell.” And what’s the point of announcing projects that might never make it to air? That’s why HBO — like most other networks and streamers — prefers to keep these things quiet.

Even so, even so… you cannot win the lottery unless you buy a ticket, so we all keep playing.

…My career in television started in 1985 when I adapted Roger Zelazny’s “The Last Defender of Camelot” for THE TWILIGHT ZONE. It was the first script of mine ever to be filmed (starring Richard Kiley and Jenny Agutter and a stuntman whose nose got cut off during the swordfight). Roger was a friend, a mentor, and one of the greatest science fiction writers who ever lived. He died in 1995, but his work will live for so long as people read SF and fantasy. It was an honor to be able to bring one of his stories to television. And now I am hoping we will be able to do it again.

I pitched ROADMARKS to HBO last year — along with four other SF and fantasy works (by various other writers) that I thought had the makings of great shows. They all had (and have) lots of potential, but ROADMARKS was the one they responded to….

(2) LEVER OF CHANGE. Learn the key to an author’s new book in “The Big Idea: Juliette Wade” at Whatever.

…The big idea of Transgressions of Power is that a human being, in the moment of action, may not know what the significance of their choices might be; they might not be in a position of power that allows for drastic change; but their choices and actions matter.

(3) FRY’S CLOSING. [Item by Betsy Hanes Perry.] Fry’s was where, in Northern California, you went to look for components; later it branched out into computers (of course!), computer components, large appliances. It used to stock snacks as a loss-leader to get geeks to come in for casual shopping.

All the stores were themed, and the one in Fremont was themed around the 1893 World’s Fair. It had a Tesla coil that went off once an hour (see here). The one in San Jose was themed as a Mayan temple. “The kitschy history of the Bay Area’s themed Fry’s Electronics” at SFGate.

…If you’re not familiar: Every Fry’s store has a theme and elaborate decorations to go along with it. In the Bay Area, the San Jose store “pays tribute to the first astronomers, the Mayans, with settings from Chichen Itza,” complete with a massive temple at the entrance, palm trees between shelves and hidden speakers that play the sounds of birds chirping through the parking lot. Fremont is the “1893 World’s Fair,” where a Tesla coil at the center of the store fires off every hour. Sunnyvale is “the history of Silicon Valley” and the Palo Alto store was “Wild West.” (Sadly, the Palo Alto store rode into the sunset earlier this year.)

[Editor’s postscript.] The Fry’s in Burbank near where I used to live had an explicitly Fifties sci-fi alien invasion theme. It was awesome.

(4) THE FIRST SILENCE. Tananarive Due conducts an interview with “Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins on ‘Silence of the Lambs’ Legacy” at Vanity Fair.

…FOSTER: We met at a reading. I didn’t really get a proper meet with Tony. So we’re sitting across from each other, and he launches in, and we start the reading. And I was just petrified. [Laughs.] I was kind of too scared to talk to him after that.

He did another movie, and I started the film without him. I still kept that kind of hold-your-breath feeling about the character just from that first reading. Jonathan wanted to use this technique that Hitchcock talked about, where you have the actors use the camera as the other person. And I think there was something really interesting about that for the film, but that also meant that Tony and I couldn’t see each other. For a lot of the close-ups, we were looking into a camera lens and the other person was just a voice in the background. And—remember?—they had to lock you into the glass prison cell. So he would do a whole day inside the prison cell, and they wouldn’t let him out. We’d just do his side. And then the next day, we’d do my side.

HOPKINS: Also, they discovered before we started filming that there would be a problem if there were bars on the prison cell for left and right eyelines. So the designer—it was Kristi Zea—came up with a Perspex thing, which makes it even more frightening, because he’s like a tarantula in a bottle. No visual borderline between the two. It was more terrifying, because it’s a dangerous creature in a bottle who can do anything. He could break the glass….

(5) MORE, PLEASE. In “The Canonical Sequel FAQ” John Scalzi tells fans what the future holds in store for his various series.

Pretty much on a daily basis, I get asked on social media whether there will ever be a sequel to [insert one of my books/series here]. To reduce the amount of typing that I have to do each time this is asked, I now present The Canonical Sequel FAQ, which will tell you — at a glance! — whether you can expect a sequel to whatever book it is that you are hoping to have a sequel to. This will be updated from time to time.

(6) TIM KIRK MAP. Brenton Dickieson introduces readers to “’The Country Around Edgestow’: A Map from C.S. Lewis’ That Hideous Strength by Tim Kirk from Mythlore” at A Pilgrim in Narnia. The map has been reproduced at the link with permission.

… One of Lewis’ key terran fictional places is “Edgestow,” the home of Bragdon Wood, Bracton College, and the literary centre of the events in That Hideous Strength. In my reading about Lewis and Arthurian literature, I happened upon Margaret Hannay’s piece, which included a map of “The Country Around Edgestow” by artist Tim Kirk.…

(7) ARE YOU BOOKED FOR THE LAST DAY OF FEBRUARY? “Doctor Who Master trilogy watchalong party confirmed for Sunday” says Radio Times.

…Doctor Who Magazine’s Emily Cook has organised most of the watchalongs so far, and announced that they would be coming to an end this month. She tweeted the news by saying, “Everything has its time, and everything ends… I’ll be announcing the final Tweetalong later this afternoon!”

She later followed up with a tweet that read, “Believe it or not, we’ve been doing Doctor Who Lockdown for almost a year now! This may be the last Tweetalong, but we’re going to end with a SPECTACULAR watch party.

“And here comes our final Tweetalong… A TRIPLE BILL! Sunday 28th February 6pm (GMT), UTOPIA 7pm (GMT), THE SOUND OF DRUMS 8pm (GMT), LAST OF THE TIME LORDS. Watch with fans around the world. Join in with the hashtag #YANA”

If you haven’t participated in the event before, the idea is that fans from all over the world re-watch classic episodes at exactly the same time, tweeting their reactions and comments along the way.

(8) CATCH AND SELL ‘EM ALL. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the February 17 Financial Times, gaming columnist Tom Faber discusses the rise in value of rare Pokemon cards.

Today, a Chansey (Pokemon card) could be worth around $3,000. That’s a great deal less than the rare holographic Blastoise which sold at auction last month for $360,000, roughly the price of a brand-new Ferrari. In 2021, their 25th year of existence, Pokemon cards are enjoying a resurgence in popularity almost matching their late-1990s heyday.

This is partly down to the pandemic, which has left many stuck at home with extra disposable income, to take up a new hobby that combines investment with a waft of nostalgia. Streaming platforms YouTube and Twitch have cultivated communities of Pokemon card traders such as Leonhart, who quit his job as a lawyer to open card packs full-time on YouTube (the sealed packs contain a random selection of cards which could be precious or worthless), and streaming star Logan Paul, who says he has spent $2m on his card addiction.

(9) HEAR OCTAVIA BUTLER. NPR’s “Morning Edition” devoted a segment today to “Sci-Fi Writer Octavia Butler Offered Warnings And Hope In Her Work”. It includes numerous sound bites from an archival interview with the author. Listen to a recording or read a transcript of the NPR item at the link. (The complete transcript of Octavia Butler’s 2005 interview is available at Democracy Now! – “Remembering Octavia Butler: Black Sci-Fi Writer Shares Cautionary Tales in Unearthed 2005 Interview”.)


Octavia Butler seemed almost to belong to the future. She was the first Black woman to receive the Nebula and Hugo Awards. Those are the highest honors in science fiction and fantasy writing. She was the first science fiction writer to win a MacArthur genius grant. She was prolific and prophetic from the 1970s until her death in 2006. Here’s Laine Kaplan-Levenson from NPR’s history show Throughline.


OCTAVIA BUTLER: I don’t recall ever having wanted desperately to be a Black woman science fiction writer. I wanted to be a writer.


  • February 24, 1952 — On this day in 1952, Aladdin And His Lamp premiered. It was directed by Lew Landers, and starred Johnny Sands and Patricia Medina. Filming was finished in less than a week. It was originally produced for a television audience, then Allied Artists picked up the film and added additional footage for a theatrical release. You can see this short film here. It is not one of the three Aladdin And His Lamp filmsthat are rated at Rotten Tomatoes.


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born February 24, 1786 – Wilhelm Grimm. With older brother Jacob (1785-1863) assembled and published the collection known to us as Grimms’ Fairy Tales (1812). Loved music; good story-teller; animated, jovial fellow. The Grimms weren’t the authors, so I can’t call them seminal, but they sure were vital. (Died 1859) [JH]
  • Born February 24, 1909 August Derleth. He’s best known as the first book publisher of H. P. Lovecraft, and for his own fictional contributions to the Cthulhu Mythos (a term that S. T. Joshi does not like). Let’s not overlook him being the founder of Arkham House which alas is now defunct. I’m rather fond of his detective fiction with Solar Pons of Praed Street being a rather inspired riff off the Great Detective. (Died 1971.) (CE)
  • Born February 24, 1921 – Richard Powers. Frank R. Paul Award. SF Hall of Fame. Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame. Six hundred sixty covers, seventy interiors. Artbooks Spacetimewarp Paintings; The Art of Richard Powers. Our great pioneer of illustration that was not representation. You can see it start here with a 1950 cover (his first?) for Pebble in the Sky. By 1956 he did this for To Live Forever. By 1963 he was here for Budrys’ Inferno. Here is the Sep 78 Analog. Here is the Program Book for Chicon V the 49th Worldcon, 1991 – where he was Guest of Honor; before that, LoneStarCon I the 3rd NASFiC (North America SF Con, since 1975 held when the Worldcon is overseas). Not one Chesley, not one Hugo. Did we appreciate him? Do we now? (Died 1996) [JH]
  • Born February 24, 1933 Verlyn Flieger, 88. Well-known Tolkien specialist. Her best-known books are Splintered Light: Logos and Language in Tolkien’s World, A Question of Time: J. R. R. Tolkien’s Road to Faerie, which won a Mythopoeic Award, Tolkien’s Legendarium: Essays on The History of Middle-earth (her second Mythopoeic Award) and Green Suns and Faërie: Essays on J.R.R. Tolkien (her third Mythopoeic Award). She has written a YA fantasy, Pig Tale, and some short stories. (CE)
  • Born February 24, 1941 – Sam Lundwall, age 80. Author, critic, translator, editor, publisher; television producer; cartoonist; photographer; singer. Organized Scancon 76 (Stockholm); Guest of Honor at Eurocon 9 (Zagreb), 21 (Dortmund). Translated his 1969 book on SF from Swedish into English as SF, What It’s All About (1971). SF, an Illustrated History (1978). Penguin World Omnibus of SF (1986) with Brian Aldiss. More nonfiction in Swedish about SF. A score of novels (four available in English), seven shorter stories (four). Reporter for Locus. Long thought by many the personification of SF in Sweden, idiosyncrasies (how not?) and all. [JH]
  • Born February 24, 1947 Edward James Olmos, 74. Reasonably sure the first thing I saw him in was as Detective Gaff in Blade Runner, but I see he was Eddie Holt In Wolfen a year earlier which was his genre debut. Though I didn’t realize it as I skipped watching the nearly entire film, he was in The Green Hornet as Michael Axford. He has a cameo as Gaff in the new Blade Runner film. And he’s William Adama on the rebooted Battlestar Galactica. He was made appearances on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Eureka. ( CE)
  • Born February 24, 1951 Helen Shaver, 70. Her SFF debut was as Betsy Duncan in Starship Invasions aka Project Genocide in the U.K. though you’ve likely not heard of her there, you might have seen her as Carolyn in The Amityville Horror. She’s Littlefoot’s mother in The Land Before Time, and Kate ‘White’ Reilly in the second Tremors film. She’s got one-offs in The Outer Limits, Amazing Stories, Ray Bradbury Theater and Outer Limits to name but a few. And she was Dr. Rachel Corrigan in Poltergeist: The Legacy, a super series indeed. (CE)
  • Born February 24, 1966 Billy Zane, 55. His genre roles include Match in Back to the Future and Back to the Future Part II, Hughie Warriner in Dead Calm, John Justice Wheeler in Twin Peaks, The Collector in Tales from the Crypt presents Demon Knight and the title role in The Phantom. ( CE)
  • Born February 24, 1968 Martin Day, 53. I don’t usually deal with writers of licensed works but he’s a good reminder that shows such as Doctor Who spawn vast secondary fiction universes. He’s been writing such novels first for Virgin Books and now for BBC Books for over twenty years. The Hollow Men, a Seventh Doctor novel he co-wrote wrote with Keith Topping, is quite excellent. In addition, he’s doing Doctor Who audiobooks for Big Finish Productions and other companies as well. He’s also written several unofficial books to television series such as the X Files, the Next Generation and the Avengers. (CE)
  • Born February 24, 1975 – Socorro Acioli, age 46. A score of books; Head of the Saint is available in English. Author, teacher, translator. “I collect bookmarks and coffee makers. I like old photos, old houses, and things that no longer exist. In the same measure [na mesma medida], I love technology.” [JH]
  • Born February 24, 1979 – C.J. Harper, age 42. Two novels for us, also “funny books for teens under the name Candy Harper…. attended six different schools, but that honestly had very little to do with an early interest in explosives”; she’s been “a bookseller, a teacher and the person who puts those little stickers on apples”; has read Vanity Fair, Gone With the Wind, Of Mice and Men, David Copperfield. [JH]
  • Born February 24, 1991 – Daryl Qilin Yam, age 30. One novel; co-editor of SingPoWriMo (i.e. Singapore). Studied at Univ. Warwick, Univ. Tôkyô. Stageplay producer at non-profit collective Take Off Productions. On the board of directors of literary charity Sing Lit Station. “I am first and foremost a writer of fiction and poetry … photography … is a field in which I remain an amateur. But … we live in a world that loves images…. I have a fondness for the backs of people (facial expressions are too didactic for my taste), and I like to frame my subjects in situations where highlights and shadows are nicely balanced.” [JH]

(12) PRESERVING WORLDS. Here’s a new Diamond Bay Press podcast on the classic online gaming environments and virtual worlds that have become virtual ghost towns. It’s based on a new video documentary series called Preserving Worlds, which is available for free on the streaming service called Means.tv.

A conversation between Lex Berman and Derek Murphy.

Derek Murphy is the co-director, with Mitchel Zemil, of the Preserving Worlds series, and the documentary film Sarasota, Half in Dream.

Recorded with Zencastr from Cambridge and Brighton, MA on 18th February, 2021.

what if the ghost of a player of a dead game, was telling us what it was all like?

(13) THE ’66 DOLLAR QUESTION. Galactic Journey’s Jason Sacks sends a missive from 1966 asking — “[February 24, 1966] Is 1966 the Best Year Ever for American Comic Books?”.

… A lot of the thrill these days has been at Marvel, as some of their comics are reaching unparalleled new levels of excellence. For instance, the work of Steve Ditko and Stan Lee on both Amazing Spider-Man and the “Dr. Strange” strip in Strange Tales has been outstanding. Peter Parker has graduated high school and enrolled at Empire State University in Spider-Man. Pete seems to be shedding his nature as a nebbish since he joined college, making new friends while having new (and more sophisticated) problems. The three-part “Master Planner” saga which ended in ASM #33 was a storyline nonpareil, a thrill a minute journey with a spectacular denouement. (I’m including the payoff below, but please try to find all these issues if you can, because the leadup is just as spectacular).

(14) ANOTHER GOOD QUESTION. Alexandra Erin wonders something —

(15) JPL’S TRICKSTERS. [Item by John King Tarpinian.] Remember that on the last Rover they would not allow JPL to put a JPL plaque on it so they used Morse Code on the wheels that spelled out JPL. Holes that were “designed” to drain sand as it moved about.

This time, there are multiple Easter Eggs. The first was deployed as Perseverance was en route to the Martian surface: “Mars rover’s giant parachute carried secret message” at Yahoo!

The huge parachute used by NASA’s Perseverance rover to land on Mars contained a secret message, thanks to a puzzle lover on the spacecraft team.

Systems engineer Ian Clark used a binary code to spell out “Dare Mighty Things” in the orange and white strips of the 70-foot (21-meter) parachute. He also included the GPS coordinates for the mission’s headquarters at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Clark, a crossword hobbyist, came up with the idea two years ago. Engineers wanted an unusual pattern in the nylon fabric to know how the parachute was oriented during descent. Turning it into a secret message was “super fun,” he said Tuesday.

Only about six people knew about the encoded message before Thursday’s landing, according to Clark. They waited until the parachute images came back before putting out a teaser during a televised news conference Monday….

This illustration provided by NASA shows a diagram added over the parachute deployed during the descent of the Mars Perseverance rover as it approaches the surface of the planet on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021. Systems engineer Ian Clark used a binary code to spell out “Dare Mighty Things” in the orange and white strips of the 70-foot (21-meter) parachute. He also included the GPS coordinates for the mission’s headquarters at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. (NASA/JPL-Caltech via AP)

(16) BOOKS ARE THE ESSENCE. The Essence of Wonder crew gets together on-screen to exchange book recommendations in “EoW Staff Share Their Favorite Books! Ready… Fight!” on Saturday, February 27, at 3 PM (US Eastern). Register at the link.

(17) THE DIRTY DOZEN PLUS THREE. 24/7 Wall St. has compiled a highly scientific list of the fifteen “Worst Sci-Fi Movies Ever Made”. Well, at least highly-less-pulled-out-of-somebody’s-butt-than-usual for a listicle.

…To determine the worst sci-fi movies of all time, 24/7 Tempo reviewed data from the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) and Rotten Tomatoes. We created an index based on the average critic rating from Rotten Tomatoes, the average audience rating from Rotten Tomatoes, and the average user rating from IMDb. We only considered feature films with at least 5,000 Rotten Tomatoes audience reviews, 10 Rotten Tomatoes critic reviews, and 10,000 IMDb user reviews…

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Game Trailers: ‘Werewolf: The Apocalypse: Earthblood’” Fandom Games says you play a werewolf fighting evil corporation Endron, “which doesn’t even pretend not to be Enron with a D” but is so dumb on security that it has ventilator shafts with doggy doors so werewolves can pass through them.

[Thanks to John Hertz, Mlex, John King Tarpinian, Betsy Hanes Perry, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, Rich Lynch, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, JJ, Gadi Evron, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

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46 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 2/24/21 Old Rossum’s Scroll Of Practical Credentials

  1. (3) The one in Woodland Hills had an Alice in Wonderland theme. I thought they were starting to go downhill when they got rid of books and put in home appliances. But they were the one place I could go for the keyboard I like (I have spares: I bought them in pairs.)
    The one in Burbank was right across the street from the Burbank Airport train station, so we got an excellent view of the entrance.

  2. 1) Was I imagining it, or did Doc Savage show up as a character in Roadmarks? They may have to tread carefully about intellectual property there. A novel can get by a lot further by just not mentioning the names of borrowed characters than movies or TV can. We’ll see how this does in compared to the Lord of Light movie that might have been.

  3. David Shallcross days Was I imagining it, or did Doc Savage show up as a character in Roadmarks? They may have to tread carefully about intellectual property there. A novel can get by a lot further by just not mentioning the names of borrowed characters than movies or TV can. We’ll see how this does in compared to the Lord of Light movie that might have been.

    A search of the text just now doesn’t show any appearance of that character.

  4. The theme of the Fry’s in Wilsonville (a suburb of Portland) was “this store used to be an Incredible Universe store before that chain went under, and we see no reason to change it”.

    It would have been fun to see some of the themed stores.

  5. (14) Had not thought of this in years: my beloved granny’s middle name was Wanda. Louise Wanda Cain, née Bryniarski. Raised in a Polish-speaking family, she pronounced it “Vanja.”

  6. The one in Burbank had, IIRC, a giant ant that you didn’t really notice unless you looked straight up. The legs looked like slightly odd pillars. You walked under it, because it spanned rows.
    They could have turned down the volume on their music, though. The stores were hard on the ears.

  7. Was I imagining it, or did Doc Savage show up as a character in Roadmarks?

    He did, but perhaps not by name.

    (17) Fifteen worst? Not even close. And not a classic bad film among them.

  8. 4) I think sometime I might try to see it. I really, really wanted to like the most recent TV series and couldn’t in large part because of the gore. (Cleolinda Jones kept commenting “So that was a thing I saw on network TV” in her recaps.) So I might get along with this version better.

    8) I had my whole old deck from the nineties in my parents’ house until very recently, and I think my mother got rid of them. I am regretful less because of the increases in value than because of the nostalgia. (Though the money would be nice.)

  9. Just started Wade’s Transgressions of Power. I loved the first one and this is shaping up to be equally good.

  10. 1) Nobody NAMED Doc Savage turned up in Roadmarks. However, one of the assassins was a person who would dress completely in a single color eaver day- purple, yellow, etc. And our hero was assisted in removing him by a tall bronze-skined doctor in a roadster, who’s muscles caused his shirt to rip when he picked the villain up.

    Neither was named. So yeah, nothing to get Zelazney sued, just like the other unnamed characters that showed up in the novel.

    3). I really liked the Burbank Fry’s, and the Egyption themes one in the Bay Area. I also liked how all the stores carried on the theme of the Night of the Living Dead. Oh wait, those miserable shambling things were the regular Fry’s employees.

  11. 17) Like Hampus, not a film there I’ve seen. All very recent though. Where is Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, where is Robot Monster?

  12. Gosh I remember watching “Santa Claus vs. the Martians” when I was a lad with no taste – just another Christmas movie…

  13. (17) Somehow, I missed most of those. But I did see Fantastic Four (2015) — because Miles Teller was in it. He and the other cast members were betrayed by the script and direction (and slooow pace). So were the viewers.

  14. (14) Something running through my mind tells me that the name Agatha has been popular “all along.”

  15. 17) I actually didn’t think Apollo 18 was terrible. Skyline, on the other hand, introduced its cast of characters and had me rooting for the alien invaders within the first five minutes.

  16. 1) As always, we shall see.

    3) When I lived in Southern California, I frequented the Fry’s in Fountain Valley.

    17) Wait, where’s SOLAR CRISIS?

  17. Meredith moment: James Blish’s Hugo winning A Case of Conscience is available today for $1.99. I note that it also won also won a Retro Hugo for Best Novella at Noreascon 4 as well but I sssumr that was a different version?

  18. The novella version of A Case of Conscience became the first part of the novel (something like the first third or half of it?). It’s the bit on-planet before the return to Earth.

  19. James Moar clarified for me The novella version of A Case of Conscience became the first part of the novel (something like the first third or half of it?). It’s the bit on-planet before the return to Earth.

    Ahhh thanks. I never read the novella, just the novel.

  20. (17) I’ve seen no less than eight of these, but their criteria exclude the movie I consider worse than all of them combined. How bad is it? So bad it’s been marketed under three different titles: Spaceship, Naked Space, and The Creature Wasn’t Nice.

    Given the cast, you might think this is comparable to, say, the Airplane! or Naked Gun movies. That’s what they want you to think; it’s where the “Naked Space” title came from. (No kidding.) Don’t believe them! The animatronic robot they’ve got walking through Leslie Nielsen’s role makes lawn furniture look lively. Just… look for yourselves, if you must. Don’t make the mistake of watching it, though. I’m tellin’ ya, this got panned at a Bad Movie Night. The MST3K crew would toss it out of an airlock. It has one memorable line, if that.

  21. (3) I made a few runs to the Sunnyvale Fry’s for the odd cable or HD enclosure over the last year, including as recently as January. As a huge store with only a handful of others present, it felt quite COVID-safe but really did make me question how it was still open.

  22. Meredith Moment: The ebook version of Non-Stop by Brian Aldiss is available from the Usual Suspects for $1.99.

  23. (3) I think I was taken to a Fry’s in/near … Santa Clara? San Jose? The main purpose of our visit was to help some friends use up extra tickets to the Great America theme park, but we also ended up visiting a different gaggle of friends in the area that took me to what I think was a Fry’s. I bought a copy of Mastering WordPerfect 5.1 while I was there. (Which doesn’t mean it was as long ago as all that; I persisted in using WP 51 on the DOSbox emulator well into the Windows 7 years.) In any case, that’s how vague and tenuous my memories of Fry’s are, if it’s Fry’s I’m remembering at all. Alas that I won’t have a chance to make stronger memories.

    (11) The “Great Detective” I immediately thought of in connection with August Derleth wasn’t Holmes but rather Thomas Carnacki, the Ghost Finder, in the short stories by William Hope Hodgson, also published by Arkham House. Nevertheless it would appear that Holmes is indeed the inspiration for Carnacki, or at least that “The stories are inspired by the tradition of fictional detectives such as Sherlock Holmes,” so I guess my instinctive “Not every fictional detective is all about Holmes, dangit!” was off target here.

    Thing I liked most about the Carnacki stories is, the ghost is just as likely to turn out to be real as it might be Old Man Carruthers in a mask. Also, Carnacki set up magic circles of protection and binding using, of all things, neon light tubing, which seems like something you can only get from an imagination placed at a very particular moment in the technological timeline.

  24. @Nicole
    I was using Office 4 or 5 until about 2003. (It’s running on Win98, IIRC.) Currently using Office 2007 and LibreOffice (because Excel insists on being configured every. single. time. with Win10).

  25. (3) Sad but not surprising. They’d been falling to pieces for several years now. Lisa and I would, anytime we went by one, make a point of buying every one of a certain type of earphone that she tends to use up regularly. I expect it boggled their inventory system.

    The Roseville Fry’s had a railroad theme, with a steam locomotive crashing out about the entrance and the back half still inside the store. (Roseville has major railroad history going back to the first transcontinental railroad.)

    The Sacramento Fry’s, like the one in Wilsonville OR, is themed as “Former Incredible Universe,” and was located on Tandy Way, a hint to who its original owner was. (Radio Shack = Tandy Corporation)

    The last time I came through Las Vegas, I stopped for my one and only visit to the slot-machine-themed Fry’s.

    It’s getting increasingly difficult to buy electronic components anywhere other than online, which is really annoying because you often can’t tell whether it’s the right part without actually holding it in your hand and looking at it up close in a way that online shopping can’t reproduce.

  26. Apparently, Nickelodeon will be adding more to the world of Avatar: The Last Airbender, including an animated film, with the original creators – according to this article.

  27. @Andrew (not Werdna): The U.S. Social Security Administration’s database of baby names says that the last time Agatha appeared in the top 1000 girls’ names was for babies born in 1945.

    Wanda last made it to the top 1000 girls’ names in 1990.

  28. Joshua K.: Wanda last made it to the top 1000 girls’ names in 1990.

    I’m betting that was because of the popularity of the 1988 movie.

  29. @Andrew (not Werdna): Okay, thanks. I haven’t seen “WandaVision” and didn’t know it even had a character named Agatha, much less a song like that.

  30. @JJ: My headcannon is now that Avengers’ Wanda was named after “Wanda the Fish” (translation), since it was inexplicably exported to Sokovia, where it was very popular. One out of every 30 women in Sokovia of a certain age is named Wanda.

  31. Rose Embolism: One out of every 30 women in Sokovia of a certain age is named Wanda.

    Jamie Lee Curtis would be so proud. 😀

  32. Randomly, I discovered a bad 1988 movie where the main character’s name is also Wanda.(Wanda Saknusseum, in fact…)

    So clearly Wanda was “in the air” at the time

  33. I don’t think it’s quite that easy to make a name become popular – I mean, it’s not like someone can just wave their Magic Wanda, and … oh, erm …

    (I’ll show myself out)

  34. Paul Weimer, ah the Alien from LA. Saknussem is “portrayed” by Kathy Ireland.
    A fine piece of movie schlock. If you haven’t seen it,.you should.

    I certainly appreciate Powers. If I were wealthy and sedentary, I would collect his work. He’s iconic, as the kids say.

  35. @Robin Only heard about it the other day, definitely have never seen it to date. Wonder if it is streaming anywhere..

  36. Paul Weimer: I tried researching even earlier generations, looking for other famous Wandas that people might have named their children for. In the process I rediscovered a black poet from Los Angeles named Wanda Coleman — I went to high school with someone by that name who liked to write poetry and have run into this coincidence before, but they’re two different people (the famous one would have been about 7 years older.)

  37. Rose Embolism: One out of every 30 women in Sokovia of a certain age is named Wanda.

    Jamie Lee Curtis would be so proud.

    In Germany, there are a lot of women of about 60 named Maj-Britt, after the Swedish actress Maj-Britt Nilsson, who was in two hugely popular movies in Germany in 1959/60. Since the name was never common either before or after, those Maj-Britts really stick out.

    And after Home Alone came out, there was a deluge of little German boys named Kevin to the point that there were plenty of jokes about kids named Kevin, because Kevin also acquired the reputation of being a lower class name.

  38. Wikipedia, on the name “Madison”:

    “Its rise is generally attributed to the 1984 release of the film Splash. From a practically non-existent given name before 1985, Madison rose to being the second-most-popular name given to baby girls in the US in 2001. It was ranked seventh in popularity in 2009.”

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