(1) HIGH PRAISE AND SOME CASH. A student stage production of Alien has earned the highest seal of approval – and it’s more than just kind words: “Ridley Scott Praises Students for ‘Alien’ Stage Show, Offers Funds for Encore Performance”.
The North Bergen High School students who put on a stage production of Ridley Scott’s “Alien” have made a fan out of the director himself…
“My hat comes off to all of you for your creativity, imagination, and determination to produce such an ambitious show,” Scott writes in the letter. “Limitations often produce the best results because imagination and determination can surpass any shortfalls and determine the way forward – always.”
Scott continues, “Self-sufficiency is what this country was largely based upon with its immigrant population coming in to a New World and working together. This is maybe the biggest lesson for all of you, and your future plans – stay with this determination, and this spirit in everything you do, and you will succeed – let nothing put you off – or set you back.”
The letter ends with Scott encouraging the students to put on a live production of his Oscar winner “Gladiator” next year. The director is currently working on a sequel to the blockbuster. Scott said he felt “very complimented” the students decided to use “Alien” as a source of inspiration. The filmmaker ended his note with good news: “Scott Free will advance some financial help to fund an encore performance of ‘Alien.’”
(2) CHICK-A-BOOM. In science news: they have fossils from very soon after Chicxulub hit. Like within a few hours afterward. Fish, dinosaurs, trees with amber, tektites. Science Daily has the story: “66-million-year-old deathbed linked to dinosaur-killing meteor”.
Paleontologists have found a fossil site in North Dakota that contains animals and plants killed and buried within an hour of the meteor impact that killed the dinosaurs 66 million years ago. This is the richest K-T boundary site ever found, incorporating insects, fish, mammals, dinosaurs and plants living at the end of the Cretaceous, mixed with tektites and rock created and scattered by the impact. The find shows that dinosaurs survived until the impact.
(3) UP AGAINST THE WALL. In anti-science news, Lonely Planet announced that “The Flat Earth Cruise wants to sail to the edge of the world in 2020”.
Despite real, scientific evidence to the contrary, the Flat Earth Society is continuing its quest to convince the world that spherical planets are a hoax and the earth is flat. In 2020, they’ll bring their message to the seas with a special cruise they promise will be “the biggest, boldest, best adventure yet.”
It may seem somewhat dangerous to embark on a cruise on a flat surface, given the danger of potentially falling off the edge. Fear not, however, as the flat earth theory proposes that we think of as Antarctica is actually a giant ice wall which “helps protect us from whatever lies beyond.”
(4) DIRECTOR CUT. NPR’s Chris Klimek says of Dumbo: “Elephants Never Forget, But Audiences Will”.
Dumbo, the first of three live-action(ish) remakes of beloved Disney cartoons due in the next four months (Aladdin is coming in May, The Lion King in June), coulda been a contender. Its director is Tim Burton, who began his career as an animator, and who has periodically returned to that medium for heartfelt, handmade pictures like Corpse Bride and Frankenweenie. More recently, Burton is the filmmaker most directly responsible for this cartoon-reclamation trend: His 2010 re-imagining of Alice in Wonderland took in more than a billion dollars around the world. Do you know anyone of any age who likes that film? Dumbo is better, but that’s a bar any able-bodied adult elephant could clear, no unusual talents necessary.
Once the most idiosyncratic of big-studio filmmakers, Burton has long since become a company man. This efficient, indistinct Dumbo could’ve been directed by any number of Chris Columbuses or Brad Peytons or Jon Favreaus (who made 2016’s The Jungle Book and that upcoming digitized Lion King) — able project managers all, and not a one of them possessed of the fevered imagination to pull off a Beetlejuice, never mind an Ed Wood. The docile Burton we have here is the one Warner Brothers’ wished they’d had on Batman Returns a generation ago, when parents and a certain billions-and-billions-served burger chain screamed about how the blockbuster sequel turned out awfully weird and kinky and violent, for a film they’d worked so hard to sell to children.
(5) SHIRAISHI OBIT. Voice actress Fuyumi Shiraishi passed away March 28 at the age of 82 reports Anime News Network.
She is arguably best known outside Japan for voicing Mirai in the first Mobile Suit Gundam anime series.
She won a Merit Award for lifetime achievement at the 9th Annual Seiy? Awards in 2015.
(6) RIMMER OBIT. Thunderbirds voice actor Shane Rimmer had died reports The Guardian.
Actor Shane Rimmer, who voiced the character of pilot Scott Tracy in Thunderbirds, has died. The official Gerry Anderson website carried the news, saying that the death of the 89 year old had been confirmed by his widow Sheila Rimmer. Rimmer died at home in the early hours of 29 March. No cause of death has been given.
… . The actor also contributed his voice to other Gerry Anderson projects including Joe 90 and Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, and appeared in person in the Anderson’s live action project UFO. Behind the scenes, Rimmer also wrote episodes of Captain Scarlet, Joe 90, The Secret Service and The Protectors.
As well as his work with Gerry and Sylvia Anderson he appeared in over 100 films including Dr Strangelove, Gandhi and Out of Africa. He played three different roles in three different James Bond movies, appearing in Diamonds Are Forever, You Only Live Twice, and The Spy Who Loved Me.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born March 29, 1923 — Geoffrey Ashe, 96. British historian and lecturer, Arthurian expert. His first book, King Arthur’s Avalon: The Story of Glastonbury, was published sixty years ago. He wrote one novel, The Finger and the Moon, set at Allhallows, a college near Glastonbury Tor.
- Born March 29, 1943 — Eric Idle, 76. Monty Python is genre, isn’t it? If not, I submit that The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Yellowbeard, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Quest for Camelot, Shrek the Third and Nearly Departed, an updated version of Topper, which he all hand in are.
- Born March 29, 1947 — Patricia Anthony. Flanders is one damn scary novel. A ghost story set in WW I it spooked me for nights after I read it and I don’t spook easily. Highly recommended. James Cameron purchased the movie rights to her Brother Termite novel and John Sayles wrote a script, but the movie has not been produced. (Died 2013.)
- Born March 29, 1948 — Bud Cort, 71. First genre role was in producer Roger Corman’s final film for AIP, Gas-s-s-s (also known as Gas! or It Became Necessary to Destroy the World in Order to Save It). Next was Brave New World which was followed by Invaders from Mars, a remake of the early Fifties film of that name. There was a pilot for a Bates Motel series (H’h?) but ignored the timeline from Psycho II and Psycho III. Last I’m going to note his voicing Toy Man in the Justice League and Superman animated series.
- Born March 29, 1955 — Marina Sirtis, 64. Counselor Deanna Troi in the Trekverse. I admit I never did find her role all that interesting. As for her roles outside of Trek, let’s see what we’ve got. Her first genre film appearance, The Wicked Lady, a highwayman film being noted here only for Sirtis somehow getting whipped while topless by Faye Dunaway. Waxwork II: Lost in Time as Gloria is her true genre film role followed shortly by a one-off on the The Return of Sherlock Holmes series as Lucrezia. And then there’s her mid Nineties voice acting as Demona on Gargoyles, possibly her best role to date. Skipping some one-offs on various genre series, her most recent appearance was on Titans, the DC streaming service based series, as Marie Granger in the “Hank and Dawn” episode.
- Born March 29, 1957 — Elizabeth Hand, 62. Not even going to attempt to summarise her brilliant career. I will say that my fav works by her are Wylding Hall, Illyria and Mortal Love.
- Born March 29, 1968 — Lucy Lawless, 51. Xena in Xena: Warrior Princess and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, cylon model Number Three D’Anna Biers on that Battlestar Galactica series. She also played Countess Palatine Ingrid von Marburg, the last of a line of Germanic witches on the Salem series. Her most recent genre role as Ruby Knowby, one of the Dark Ones, on the Ash vs Evil Dead series. Though not genre, she was Lucretia in Spartacus: Blood and Sand, its prequel Spartacus: Gods of the Arena and its sequel Spartacus: Vengeance.
(8) COMICS SECTION.
- Another Incidental Comic from Grant Snider:
(9) ON JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter has been patrolling the airwaves again: “Not a science fiction answer/question, but a good topic,” he says.
Answer: This 1883 classic ends with the words “A well-behaved little boy!”
All contestants got it wrong, with the questions, “Who is Little Lord Fauntleroy,” “What is The Velveteen Rabbit,” and “What is Peter Pan?”
The correct question: “Who is Pinocchio?”
(10) HELP WANTED. According to Jezebel, “Space Scientists Need Women Volunteers Who Will Stay in Bed Eating Pancakes for Two Months”.
Do you speak German and hate getting out of bed? That could be worth almost 19k to space scientists.
A study commissioned by NASA and the European Space Agency being conducted at the German Aerospace Center needs German-speaking, non-smoking women ages 22-55 to lie in bed for 60 days in order to help understand the impact of weightlessness on the body.
(11) NOT JUST CATS. It’s a veritable hitchhikers’ guide… “Dozens Of Nonnative Marine Species Have Invaded The Galapagos Islands”.
The Galapagos Islands are like a biological ark in the eastern Pacific Ocean. Giant tortoises live there, and swimming iguanas, and numerous species found nowhere else. It’s one of the world’s most protected places.
But scientists have discovered that dozens of exotic species have invaded the Galapagos — underwater.
Marine biologist James Carlton remembers when he first got to thinking that the famously wild Galapagos, a World Heritage, might not be as pristine as people thought. “On my first visit to the Galapagos,” he recalls, “I collected some samples from a boat bottom.” He found barnacles, sponges and other hitchhikers.
That was in 1987. Carlton didn’t know if the creatures he found were native or not. So about four years ago, he and a team of scientists decided to return and take a closer look.
“We didn’t know quite what to expect,” he says. They already knew there were lots of invasive species — species not native to the Galapagos — on land. But in the surrounding ocean, there were only five known species of invaders. Everything else, presumably, was native.
When Carlton’s team looked underwater, however, they found a horde of invaders. “Now we have 53, which is a rather stunning increase,” says marine biologist Gregory Ruiz, who was on the trip. “It’s about a tenfold increase.”
(12) AT LONG LAST. Try and look on the bright side —
[Thanks to P.J. Evans, JJ, rcade, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day BGrandrath.]
7) I did read Idle’s memoirs last year and while they were a fun and interesting read (I hadn’t understood how much of a rock’n roll lifestyle he lead), he himself came of as a bit of a twit. Instead of taking responsibility of his various infidelities, he instead spouted sexist trash about how it was in the male nature. Just to absolve himself from blame as it seemed. Apart from those parts, I recommend the memoirs.
WordPress’s limited character set strikes again–the Seiyu Awards is much more decisive than the Seiy? Awards.
12) Post Mortem reading time!
4) Yowch. Pass
@7: Eric Idle also committed a genre novel, The Road to Mars. My notes say it was pretty good and pretty funny.
@7 ctd: Bud Cort was the lead/title in Brewster McCloud, which is a bizarre form of contemporary fantasy. Younger fans may have noticed him mostly as God incarnate (a role with no lines) in Dogma.
12) I’ve found my grave marker.
ETA – fifth!
@3, so they’re planning to sail up to a giant ice wall? What do they expect to see, other than, well, ice? (And there’s ice all the way around, including at the equator? I’m having a hard envisioning their map…)
@Cassy B.: Imagine that the Earth is a disk with the north pole at the center and Antarctica as the rim. This was done in at least one fantasy novel, Circumpolar, IIRC (although, there the north pole was a hole going to the other side). I expect to find that most flat-earthers live in the northern hemisphere.
(3) I encourage them to go find whatever is on the other side of Antarctica’s wall of ice, and stop haranguing the rest of us with their nonsense. They aren’t even entertaining anymore.
(4) Is it very bad of me to be very entertained by the idea of them attempting an actual live-action remake of The Lion King?
Cicumpolar! and Countersolar!, both by Richard A Lupoff.
(7) Eric Idle’s sortabiography lets George Harrison have a lot of the best lines. I appreciated George when he was alive, but perhaps not enough even then. The one I can’t get out of my mind comes when Eric recounts the vicious attack that almost killed George and Olivia.
(8) See also. One of my favorite Williamses, as found in this excellent profile on the artist at The Comics Journal.
@7: Alas, Chip, I was going to mention Eric Idle’s SF novel, The Road to Mars, but my assessment is the opposite of yours — I thought it was pretty terrible.
@7: As for the great Elizabeth Hand, I concur with Cat, particularly about Wylding Hall and Illyria, and in fact I compiled a selection of my reviews of her work: Short Fiction of Elizabeth Hand.
Idle was also the voice of Rincewind in the Discworld computer games.
(7) Just finished the Eric Idle sortabook. Reads fast and is generally entertaining, but left me with a lot of questions. His treatment of some of his fellow Pythons (any who are not John Cleese) seemed particularly insensitive.
However, it did give me a reason to look up the 1991 Royal Variety Performance on YouTube and for that I will forever be grateful.
@7: I also agree about Wylding Hall. It’s my favorite of Hand’s works. I’m glad I got the chance to meet her when she was GoH at this year’s Boskone.
(2) Another article on this “Scientists Find Fossilized Fish That May Have Been Blasted By Debris From Asteroid That Ended The Dinosaur Age”.
@Nina — I also got to meet Liz for the first time at Boskone. Very cool!
I loved Wylding Hall.
Happy birthday Xena! The TV show that completely discouraged me from writing fantasy! I had a swordswoman character I’d been trying to write about for years, but then Xena appeared and did everything I was trying to achieve far better. Now I write science fiction instead and I have Xena to blame/thank.
@Jeff Jones: “I expect to find that most flat-earthers live in the northern hemisphere.”
I think that’s a good bet. It reminds me of a bit from John Sladek where an astrology professor is holding forth on some supposedly universal truths from Ptolemy about how the stars relate to the seasons, and a student asks, what about the southern hemisphere where those things don’t apply? The professor replies that that’s a good point but it just goes to show that the southern hemisphere “doesn’t matter.”
Re: Eric Idle memoir: If you want to read a good memoir about a Python, I highly recommend So, Anyway... by John Cleese. He genuinely seems to like everyone, except, for reasons I never got, Terry Gilliam. And of course it’s very funny.
Black Light Is my favourite of Hand’s novels. Wylding Hall is fine apart from the occasional bouts of “wrens don’t do that”
@Jeff Jones: “I expect to find that most flat-earthers live in the northern hemisphere.”
Well, duh. The southern hemisphere would be the bottom, and unless they could hang on to a penetrating root or something, they’d fall off.
Marina Sirtis also appeared in several episodes of Stargate SG-1, as a high-ranking Russian scientist.
I thought Wylding Hall was a decent read, but I obviously missed out on whatever cultural experience makes it resonate so hard with so many people.
JJ, I suggest listening to Pentangle, Steeleye Span, and, above all, early Fairport Convention (the Richard Thompson/Sandy Denny albums).
Thanks for the title credit, seems like a great way to honor A. Bertram Chandler’s birthday
Rich Horton: I suggest listening to Pentangle, Steeleye Span, and, above all, early Fairport Convention (the Richard Thompson/Sandy Denny albums).
That’s what I mean: I can listen to folk music now, and I can see why it might appeal to people, but I missed whatever foundational experience which would have made it something seminal for me. I suspect that I was born just a little to late. The closest I came to it would probably be things like David Gates and Bread, and James Taylor.
“Do you know anyone of any age who likes that film?”
Is that referring to original Alice or the 3D disaster that put me off 3D for over a decade, and Tim Burton forever? My company paid for my whole team to see that during work hours – 30+ people – and we all concluded we’d rather have stayed at work.
Sure, most of original Alice was rather forgettable, but the Cheshire Cat grin will live on in gifs forever.
I just got back from a screening of the (relatively) new documentary film, Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin at our local public library, and it was really good! It got great reactions from the library audience. There was a Q&A with the filmmaker, Arwen Curry, afterwards, which was also really interesting.
It’s mostly on the film-festival circuit right now, but it will be broadcast nationally later this year as part of PBS’s American Masters series. I’m not sure what the options will be for non-US viewings, but there should be some–possibly many.
Another story about the site with the K-T boundary, in the New Yorker:
It has some very nice photos, and more (relatively non-scientific) details.
Jamoche asks Is that referring to original Alice or the 3D disaster that put me off 3D for over a decade, and Tim Burton forever? My company paid for my whole team to see that during work hours – 30+ people – and we all concluded we’d rather have stayed at work.
Given the number of tickets it sold, obviously a lot of people did like it. Again it’s worth remembering that, like popcorn literature, what makes something a great film or not is always a matter of personal taste. If there’s enough folks whose personal taste is the same, a film is successful. Or not. Here it was.
Like the new Dumbo is getting at best piss poor reviews but the box office is very, very good. Again a film where reviews mean very little to the success of the film.
Cat Eldridge on March 30, 2019 at 7:42 pm said:
Or thought they might like it. Because, unfortunately, you don’t get to see a movie until after you’ve paid for the ticket. And this is one that a lot of people would think they might like: Remake of a much-beloved classic, made by the same company that made the original–a company that still has a good reputation. Made by Tim Burton, who, despite some stumbles, also still has a pretty decent reputation overall. And an all-star cast. A good opening is not surprising. The question will be whether it has legs.
But yes, it certainly could. Your points are good. I just think it’s a little early to leap to conclusions one way or the other.
The sequel to Burton’s Alice did less than a quarter of the US box office of the original (less than a third overseas) — while it was on the slightly belated side by the standards of direct sequels, that’s a massive collapse, and would suggest lack of lingering affection for the first film.
I think being released near the start of the recent 3D boom was one thing that buoyed Alice a fair bit, despite it not making specially good use of 3D.
I kinda liked Burton’s take on Alice…not loved, but liked ok. Thought they overblew the Mad Hatter, and that Depp was getting stale (This was before the Lone Ranger and the abuse allegations which turned me off him for good, and I was a fan of Johnny Depp since my teens, so this is a noteable step downward) but I enjoyed it enough to watch through and not regret.
I HATED the attempt to make a sequel — and in some ways, the badness of the second reflected back on the first, tarnishing it in retrospect*. One star might be generous. That is time I wish I had back.
* This isn’t something that happens unless at least some of a sequel’s flaws are the exact same flaws in the first, writ even larger and papered over less well.
@ Lenora – I seem to remember reading very recently that the allegations against Depp had been debunked.
I wouldn’t be surprised if bad reviews for movies aimed primarily at kids have little effect. When my daughter was very young she was super keen on dogs, so naturally we went to the movies to see such classics as Hotel For Dogs. I don’t recall ever bothering to check the reviews beforehand.
No, they haven’t been debunked, he’s just trying to sue her for defamation because she wrote an op-ed about domestic violence (without naming him).
@Meredith. I was reading this article:
There’s no evidence in that article, just words. Looks more like DARVO than a debunking to me.
@Meredith – Re-reading I see these are claims made by his lawyers. So you’re right to say it’s not debunked.
I loved Sleepy Hollow and Edward Scissorhands when I was a kid and Real Johnny Depp has turned out to be rather disappointing.
@7: If Monty Python were to need another cite for genre cred, the <rot13>fcnpr onggyr</rot13> in Life of Brian would surely satisfy.
(Don’t scroll me ‘Shirley’!)
Pinocchio may not be SF, but I can’t think of any reason not to consider it as fantasy.
@Xtifr: Wikipedia says the movie made $220 million in its first weekend, but over a billion overall; that sounds like “legs” to me. The bits I’ve seen don’t incline me to see the whole, but ISTM that a lot of people must have come out of the opening weekend praising it to friends in order for it to make that kind of money.
@Chip Hitchcock: Oh, I was referring to Dumbo. Your comment made me realize that the original comment I was responding to was probably referring to Alice. My mistake.
(I thought Alice was ok. I haven’t seen the sequel, and haven’t seen Dumbo.)
Cat Eldridge on March 30, 2019 at 7:42 pm said:
Actually, it was below expectations.
@Kip Williams: In fact, speaking of George Harrison’s dry wit, as he lay in hospital recovering from the insane person’s knife attack, reporters asked him for a comment, and so he observed that the attacker ‘wasn’t a burglar, and he certainly wasn’t auditioning for the Traveling Wilburys’.
I felt the loss of George Harrison when he died, but I feel it more and more when these anecdotes come to my attention. Also, without George, we’d never have had MONTY PYTHON’S LIFE OF BRIAN. Mortgaged a house so they could make the movie, because he wanted to see the movie. “Most expensive movie ticket of all time,” sez Eric Idle. (Perhaps he’s quoting.)
George was my least favorite Beatle when it came to solo records, but we owe him a lot for Life of Brian and All You Need Is Cash, which is so great!