Pixel Scroll 3/19/22 Marconi Scrolls The Mamba

(1) GRIMM TIMES AHEAD. The Brothers Grimm Society of North America launched this week. “The BGSNA promotes the study of all aspects of the legacy and the spirit of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm and their works. Website and membership info forthcoming.”

(2) MARCON ENDING. Marcon, the annual Columbus, Ohio convention, is calling it quits. I was Marcon’s toastmaster in 1977. At least that didn’t kill it. The con chair posted on Facebook:

Due to many challenges with which we are all familiar the current staff are stepping down. One of the panel tracks for this year will be “how to run a convention”. If you are willing to travel to Columbus in May to impart your knowledge on how to run a con there will be an entire panel track on just that topic. Please consider sharing your wisdom and experience with the folks coming next and PM me about your desire to sit a panel this May 6-8 at the final MARcon.

The Marcon.org website shut down earlier this month.

(3) VINTAGE PNEUMA. Christianity Today’s Louis Markos reviews The Medieval Mind of C. S. Lewis: How Great Books Shaped a Great Mind by Jason M. Baxter in “C.S. Lewis Was a Modern Man Who Breathed Medieval Air…”

The British Boethius

Like his friend Tolkien, C. S. Lewis was a man who loved all things medieval and who infused all that he wrote with a premodern ethos that hearkened back to an older, more traditional understanding of technology, books, wisdom, and morality. In his new book, The Medieval Mind of C. S. Lewis: How Great Books Shaped a Great Mind, Dante scholar Jason Baxter unpacks the full extent of Lewis’s medievalism. Just as Michael Ward demonstrated in Planet Narnia that Lewis keyed each of his seven Narnia Chronicles to one of the medieval planets, so Baxter demonstrates that the medieval worldview colored not only Lewis’s apologetics and fiction but his scholarship as well….

(4) NO STACKS OF BOOKS WITHOUT STACKS OF BUCKS. Publishers Weekly hears “Librarians ‘Disheartened’ by FY2022 Federal Budget, Preparing for Tough FY2023”.

Signed into law on March 11, the reconciled FY2022 budget (which began on October 1, 2021) contained only flat funding for the LSTA (Library Services and Technology Act) at $197.4 million—despite the House last summer approving a $9 million increase that would have taken LSTA funding to $206.5 million. LSTA funding, which is administered by the IMLS (Institute for Museum and Library Services) through grants to states, is the primary source of federal funding dedicated to America’s libraries….

…Amid rising inflation and continued economic volatility and uncertainty as the country emerges from the pandemic, flat funding is essentially a cut.

(5) MARLON JAMES. Boston Review’s Nate File interviews Marlon James, who says: “’Representation doesn’t just mean heroes. We need the villains as well.’”

Nate File: When Black Leopard, Red Wolf first came out, you joked that this trilogy was like an African Game of Thrones. That took off as the elevator pitch for the books, but they’re really very different. Do you regret making that joke?

 Marlon James: No, if for no other reason than it got people to pay attention to it. But also, I’m inspired by this idea that you don’t have to let go of the world of make-believe to tell a serious story. This idea that persists in fiction and in storytelling that realistic fiction is the grown-up genre and that fantasy is child’s play, even though fantasy, at a certain point in our evolutionary history, was considered fact. At one point, Zeus was a fact. For a lot of people, Shango is a fact. Game of Thrones supported the idea of telling a story that is decidedly adult—although I have no problem with teenagers stealing this book—but retain the fantastical and even the supernatural. It liberated how I always wanted to tell a story but never felt I could.

 NF: Why do you think things shifted? When did fantasy become inappropriate for adults?

 MJ: Christianity had a lot to do with it, and it still has a lot to do with it, because we look at fantastical things as inherently demonic. We’ve been burning women as witches for centuries. And, for better or worse, the rise of the nineteenth-century novel reproduced some of those ideas where things that go bump in the night are things that children believe in.

Margaret Atwood said once that human nature hasn’t changed in a thousand years, and the way you know this is to check the mythologies. I agree. I think that we reach for the fantastical sometimes to explain things that we can’t explain in the real world. For Tolkien and C. S. Lewis, only the fantastical could explain the type of horror that they witnessed in World War I. We still reach for allegory, we still reach for myth, we still reach for tall tales in order to understand ourselves….

(6) RANDOMIZED TBR. James Davis Nicoll recommends these “5 Extremely Unscientific Methods for Picking Your Next Book”.

Anyone can apply logic, taste, and methodical research to the problem of selecting which limited subset of the vast number of books available one is to read. Conversely, one can half-ass one’s way through Mt. Tsundoku using methods of dubious reliability. Don’t believe me? Here are five methods I have used, each more ludicrous than the one before….

(7) TAKARADA AKIRA OBIT. Actor Takarada Akira, whose resume was filled with appearances in kaiju movies, has died at the age of 87. Variety’s profile says:

…He made an impression in a major role as a Navy diver in the original 1954 “Godzilla” and thereafter was cast in series follow-ups including “Mothra vs. Godzilla” (1964), “Invasion of Astro-Monster” (1965), and “Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster” (1966).

…After the collapse of Japan’s studio system in the 1970s Takarada’s appearances in films became fewer though his career revived in the 1990s with supporting roles in the films of Itami Juzo. He also appeared in new entries in the “Godzilla” series such as the 1992 “Godzilla vs. Mothra” and the 2002 “Godzilla: Final Wars.” He is credited in the 2014 Garth Edwards “Godzilla” as a Japanese immigration agent, though his scenes were cut from the film….

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1999 [Item by Cat Eldridge] Now I have come to praise Farscape which debuted twenty-four years ago this evening on on Sci-Fi Channel’s SciFi Friday. I won’t claimed to be objective as regards this series as I consider it to be the finest SF series ever done bar none. 

It was produced originally for the Australian Nine Network, and was, as if you didn’t notice, produced in that country with an all Australian cast save Ben Browder as John Crichton.  It was created by Rockne S. O’Bannon who would go on to be involved in seaQuest DSV, Defiance and Alien Nation. He and Brian Henson were Executive Producers (along with a number of other individuals).

And that brings me to the Jim Henson Company which was responsible for the amazing look of this series. They produced two of the characters here, Pilot and Rigel, plus produced the appendages on Ka D’Argo’s face and the Diagnostic Repair Drones or DRDs, and of course the makeup that created the various aliens. 

The characters here make use of slang such as frell, drad and dren as a substitute for English expletives. I particularly like frell as it’s so obvious what it really is. 

So how was the reception for it? Buzz-eye.com summed it up nicely this way: “The beauty of ‘Farscape’ for the uninitiated is in how surprising the show can be; you genuinely never know what the writers are going to throw at you next, and I truly envy anyone who gets to imbibe in the series for the first time via this box set.”

It currently holds an eighty-one percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 

It would run for four stellar seasons and get a proper send-off in The Peacekeeper Wars after it got cancelled on a cliffhanger. A weird cliffhanger at that. If you’re interested in watching it again, or amazingly haven’t seen it yet, it is currently airing on Amazon Prime. 

That it got no Hugo nominations is frelling beyond the pale. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 19, 1926 Joe L. Hensley. A member of First Fandom fondly remembered by OGH and others, he began publishing genre fiction with “Eyes of the Double Moon” in Planet Stories in the May 1953 issue. He would publish some thirty tales over the next fifty years including three with Ellison (including “Rodney Parish for Hire” in Partners in Wonder). Much of it is collected in Final Tales. He was also a writer of mystery fiction, at least twenty-four novels. I’m not seeing him really at the usual suspects in either genre in any meaningful amount. (Died 2007.)
  • Born March 19, 1928 Patrick McGoohan. Best remembered as Number Six as the ever so weird Prisoner series which he both created and produced. He was prior to that series, John Drake in Danger Man which might connect to this series or not. Did you know that he had a long-running connection with Columbo, directing, producing, writing, and appearing in several episodes? He appeared in “By Dawn’s Early Light” and “Identify Crisis”. (Died 2009.)
  • Born March 19, 1932 Gail Kobe. She has genre appearances with the more prominent being as Jessica Connelly in Twilight Zone’s “In His Image”, in another Twilight Zone episode as Leah Maitland in “The Self-Improvement of Salvadore Ross”, and two Outer Limits episodes, first as Janet Doweling in “Specimen, Unknown” and then as Janet in “The Keeper of the Purple Twilight”. (Died 2013.)
  • Born March 19, 1936 Ursula Andress, 86. She was Honey Ryder in the very first Bond film, Dr. No, and Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale. Let’s see if she’s done any other genre work… well her first was The Tenth Victim based on Sheckley’s 1953 short story “Seventh Victim”. She also appeared in L’Infermiera, oops wrong genre, The Mountain of the Cannibal GodThe Fifth MusketeerClash of the Titans where she played of course Aphrodite, on the Manimal series, The Love Boat series and the two Fantaghirò films. 
  • Born March 19, 1945 Jim Turner.  Turner was editor for Arkham House after the death of August Derleth, founder of that press. After leaving Arkham House for reasons that are not at all clear, he founded Golden Gryphon Press which published really lovely books until it went out of existence. (Died 1999.)
  • Born March 19, 1955 Bruce Willis, 67. So do any of the Die Hard franchise movies count as genre? Even setting them aside he has a very long  genre list, to wit Death Becomes Her (bit of macabre fun), 12 Monkeys (weird sh!t), The Fifth Element (damn great), Armageddon (eight tentacles down), Looper (most excellent), The Sixth Sense (not at all bad), Sin City (typical Miller overkill) and Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (yet more Miller overkill).
  • Born March 19, 1964 Marjorie Monaghan, 58. JoJo on all six episodes of Space Rangers. My brain keeps insisting it lasted much, much longer. She also was on Babylon 5 as the Mars Resistance leader during the Earth Alliance Civil War, where she was known as Number One. She’s also appeared on Quantum Leap, in the cyberpunk Nemesis film, in The Warlord: Battle for the Galaxy film, on Andromeda series and on The Great War of Magellan film.
  • Born March 19, 1969 Connor Trinneer, 53. Best remembered for his roles as Charles “Trip” Tucker III on Enterprise Michael the wraith on Stargate Atlantis though he only provided the voice later on.  He also was Tycho “Ty”Johns in Star Runners, one of those good awful Sci-Fi films. How awful? It rates twelve percent among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Tom Gauld shows Guardian readers the periods of reading in the garden.

(11) ELEVATOR PITCH. SYFY Wire warns that “‘Moon Knight’ Goes Full Horror Mode In First Freaky Clip From Marvel’s New Disney+ Series”.

Here’s a pro Marvel tip: Never let a terrifying Ancient Egyptian deity corner you inside an elevator. Judging by the first official clip from the Moon Knight TV series (coming to Disney+ at the end of the month), Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness won’t be the MCU’s initial foray into the world of horror. And here’s another piece of advice: if you’re ever scared witless by what may be a hallucination of an inter-dimensional being, pretend you dropped your contact lens on the floor. It doesn’t exactly work here, but it’s better than nothing….

(12) EMMA VS. J.K. “People Are Praising Emma Watson’s Alleged Jab At J.K. Rowling, Just Days After J.K. Went On An Anti-Trans Rant On Twitter”Yahoo!’s article amplifies what they’re talking about with video clips and tweets.

Earlier this week, Emma Watson graced the BAFTAs stage to present the award for Outstanding British Film.

She was introduced by Rebel Wilson, who joked, “Our next presenter is Emma Watson. She’s proud to call herself a feminist, but we all know she’s a witch.”

Once Emma reached the podium, she immediately said, “I’m here for all the witches.”

Here’s why people kind of did a double-take after that comment. Emma’s “all the witches” remark comes just a few days after J.K. Rowling did one of her infamous anti-trans rants on Twitter….

(13) CLICKS WILL ABOUND. Frankenstein or Dracula? Star Trek or Star Wars? Delta or Omicron? Time for the latest duel: “Wordle vs. Elden Ring: Which is a better game?” asks Slate.

Two massive cultural juggernauts currently stand astride the video gaming landscape. One is Wordle, a minimalist word-guessing game that combines elements of hangman and Mastermind with 3 million total players, many of whom have logged on to play each day’s new puzzle for months and counting. The other is Elden Ring, a brutal fantasy role-playing game released in February, which has received near-perfect reviews from gaming critics and players since release. So far, estimates suggest the multiplatform game has sold 10 million copies on PC alone—a big feat for a game that’s not even a month old.

As games, they couldn’t be more different. Heck, Wordle doesn’t even have any graphics, and failing to solve Elden Ring’s puzzles results in (in-game) death, not a broken win streak. But their differences aside, no two games have generated more discussion and discourse in 2022 than these. They’re early Game of the Year contenders, not soon to be forgotten or toppled. We all know, however, that only one game can be the year’s best game—and while it may be too early to tell, it doesn’t hurt to ask ourselves: Is Wordle or Elden Ring more deserving of the title?…

(14) THEY’RE DYING TO BE INVITED. “Margaret Atwood’s Dream Dinner Party Features a Crystal Ball and Hammer”  at bon appétit.

You get to host any three people, fictional or real, dead or alive. Who’s invited?
I’ll stick to dead people. If I fail to invite some living people, they’d be very annoyed. (Not to say other dead people wouldn’t be. I’d expect to hear from Samuel Johnson and Oscar Wilde, who prided themselves on their dinner conversation.) But here’s my invite list…

(15) THE TRUTH IS SEMI-OUT THERE. This week’s Isaac Arthur video is a look at covert aliens.

Clandestine conspiracies and covert alien activity are popular theories involving UFO & UAP sightings as well as in science fiction, but what would covert alien activity look like?

(16) JAMES BOND DOES IT BETTER FOR COMIC RELIEF. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Comic Relief Red Nose Day is an annual BBC charity bash where comedians and others in a funny way raise money for good causes (not for comedians). By midnight last night, more than £42.7m has been raised in Comic Relief’s latest Red Nose Day broadcast, with a host of stars taking part in sketches and stunts. The total will rise as donations continue to come in. Comic Relief: Red Nose Day raises £42m in star-studded show – BBC News. Though there was much new material, we did get a dusting off of a James Bond skit first performed last year.  So, here is 007 meeting Nan (Catherine Tate)…

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day “Everyone who can’t stand ‘We Built This City’”.]

29 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 3/19/22 Marconi Scrolls The Mamba

  1. Did you know that he had a long-running connection with Columbo, directing, producing, writing, and appearing in several episodes?

    Yes. Saw him there first before seeing the Prisoner in a marathon in the late 80’s.

  2. Paul Weimer says Yes. Saw him there first before seeing the Prisoner in a marathon in the late 80’s.

    Interesting. I saw a lot of Columbo when it came out though I’ll be buggered if I remember anything beyond what Peter Falk was like as the character. Either the stories were really forgettable or I just don’t remember them this far on.

    I’m currently watching Silent Witness, a British forensic science centered mystery series. CSI without the flash.

  3. TIL that the actual lyric is “Marconi plays the mamba”. I always though it was “Marconi plays the Mambo” and that the vocal was poorly enunciated. I mean, why would anyone play a deadly venomous snake?

    Re: “Farscape”. I am currently (re)watching this. There is so much I have forgotten but so far it is holding up well.

  4. I never made it, but Marcon’s been around a long time, and this is something to regret.

    CS Lewis, on the other hand…. I still consider he cheated completely at the end of Narnia, “Oh, you’re all dead, you just dreamed this.” Sort of the opposite of a deus ex machina. Then there was what I refer to as That Hideous Trilogy As a teen, I was incredibly po’d at the second book, and only read the third because I saw that it mentioned Numenor.
    That one I nearly threw across the room (but it was a library book). All of the people bringing the new are direct agents of Satan, every single one, really? And they to drag the animals out of the city zoo to kill them? ARGH!

  5. mark: This may come as a surprise to you, but this is a fan site, not a skeet shooting range where mentioning a writer’s name is like someone calling, “Pull!” and then you blast away as fast as possible.

  6. Ah Marcon. Went to a few in the 70s with Jack Chalker. Back then it was called Marcon because it was held in March. Except the 1978 edition, which due to hotel issues ended on April 14-16, 1978. But it was still Marcon since the flyers announced the dates as March 45-47.

  7. mark: Oh yes, mark, you can say you don’t like someone. And I can say I don’t like to read a pleonasm of contempt showered on somebody I’m interested in.

  8. CS Lewis, on the other hand…. I still consider he cheated completely at the end of Narnia, “Oh, you’re all dead, you just dreamed this.” Sort of the opposite of a deus ex machina.

    The ending of the Chronicles of Narnia is explicitly a deus ex machina. it is the Book of Revelations, with the Pevensie children dying along with Narnia and everyone going to heaven at Aslan’s command. It is literally “god intervenes and solves the problems”.

  9. Wait… So MARCon let the website registration laps before the last convention happens?

  10. Sad to hear Marcon is folding. I was Fan Guest of Honor there some years ago, in an odd stretch of time where I found myself in Columbus (a place I’d never been before) multiple times over a relatively short period, including six weeks working there for my Day Jobbe helping implement a cross-dock management system.

    I fear that a lot of fan-run conventions are about to end their runs, including some that mean a lot to me.

  11. Farscape got a weird little coda in SG1 episode 200 with Claudia Black’ as Vala pitching her idea for a SF TV show with the SG1 regulars (including Ben Browser) chaotically running around shouting and shooting. With puppets.

  12. 9) Joe Hensley was also an attorney, a state legislator and a judge. He was simultaneously One of Ours and a very respectable person in the eyes of Mundania.

  13. @ rochrist
    And it was re-released later as Dr. Syn, Alias the Scarecrow, so Gen X got a chance to see it, too.
    Disney made the DVD set of that show ridiculously hard to acquire. I think you’d have to be The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh to find a copy. (Or you could go to a convention and find a vendor specializing in “gray area” DVDs… Ahem.)

  14. I wonder if it’s part of Disney+. All sorts of stuff from the Wonderful World of is on there. I’ll have to check.

  15. 3) I still loved most (artistic) things medieval even after I left the Church in my early twenties. And I found Lewis’s brand of paleo-High-Church theology deeply unattractive while admiring his scholarly-critical-literary and writerly chops. (That Hideous Strength was the deal-breaker.) FWIW, I spent several of my teaching years using Dante as the core of one undergrad English course. Faulkner and Eliot and Pirandello were featured in another. (Pages of remarks about epistemology and metaphysics and post-Enlightenment cultural history omitted.) The Markos piece strikes me as being an apologia for apologetics.

  16. Patrick McGoohan was also one of the stars of David Cronenberg’s Scanners. And he teamed up again with Prisoner alumnus Alexis Kanner in Kings and Desperate Men, which is not actually genre but is a very good film, so I thought I’d mention it. And while I’m on the subject of non-genre but very good films Patrick McGoohan has been in, I shall mention Hell Drivers, a late-Fifties British noir film with an absolutely amazing cast. If you are looking for a movie that links people from The Prisoner, Doctor Who, Star Trek, The Outer Limits, Highlander and The Pink Panther, this is the one you need. (McGoohan and William Hartnell play the bad guys.)

    Come to think of it, McGoohan was in a lot of good movies. It’s almost like he was, y’know, good at acting or something.

  17. Steve Wright: Scanners! I remember the commercials for the movie quite vividly, promising McGoohan’s head would explode. Which no doubt is what inspired that right-wing expression.

  18. 3)

    Lewis irreverently calls the hallowed scientific revolution a period of “new ignorance” because he believed that by choosing to focus on quantifiable measurements to the exclusion of all other types of inquiry, modern science had brought modern culture into an ethical and social desert, on account of its willful suspension of “judgements of value” and its decision to strip nature of all “qualitative properties” and to “ignore its final cause (if any), and treat it in terms of quantity.”

    One of the hallmarks of well-researched historical fiction is that it becomes very difficult to tell precisely when research shades into authorial imagination, and Neal Stephenson’s Quicksilver is a very well-researched book, so I am not on firm ground here, but apparently Isaac Newton had the same difficulty: using mathematics he could describe the effects of gravity and the motions of the planets very exactly, but this left him with no more understanding than before as to why it should work that way, and it was the latter question that really interested him. Which is possibly why he didn’t bother to publish his new mathematics until much later, after Leibniz had independently invented it. But Sir Isaac was a very odd duck indeed, in his own time and probably in any other time.

    And, of course, understanding the limits of measurement and mathematical models does not obligate anyone to convert to Christianity, in any of its various forms.

  19. Scanners! I remember the commercials for the movie quite vividly, promising McGoohan’s head would explode. Which no doubt is what inspired that right-wing expression.

    I don’t remember what film I was there to see, but the last trailer was for Scanners. I was still processing that the trailer was rated R when the on screen action became the stuff of my nightmares for several years. Pretty sure the trailer was cut to remove that scene shortly after the original came out, but it was too late for me.

  20. That wasn’t McGoohan’s head that explodes in Scanners, it was (checking IMDB, where I just watched the trailer: could that music be any more 80s?) Louis Del Grande, who made several other genre film and television appearances.

    My recollection is that the first TV spots for Scanners showed the trailer cut just before the climax, but as it gained notoriety they switched to shots of audiences watching the film.

  21. Cheryl S: “I was still processing that the trailer was rated R”

    Heh. In 1975, iirc, I went to see SCHLOCK!, John Landis’ PG-rated monster/comedy film, at the Valley Art movie-house in downtown Tempe, one of their Saturday midnight showings of various cult films. (Later saw ROCKY HORROR for the first time there.)

    The midnight shows were because the theater owner was a big film fan who liked to show support for lesser-known but noteworthy films.

    But the Valley Art, at the time, made its actual money from hardcore X-rated films during the regular showtimes.

    Guess what the previews that came before SCHLOCK! were for? My still-very-inexperienced eyes grew very wide.

    (When I saw ROCKY HORROR there, they didn’t have the X-rated previews. At a guess, it was either an error for that SCHLOCK! showing, or management had realized some of the midnight show attendees were likely to be under 18.)

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