Pixel Scroll 4/14/16 I’m Sure That Was Polite On Some Planet

(1) GOOD NEWS. The Guardian reports — “Good Omens: Neil Gaiman to adapt Terry Pratchett collaboration for TV”.

Neil Gaiman, the author and longtime friend of Sir Terry Pratchett, has announced he will be writing the adaptation of their co-authored novel Good Omens for the screen.

Gaiman had previously said he would not adapt their 1990 fantasy novel about the end of the world without Pratchett, who died in March 2015 from a rare form of Alzheimer’s disease. Before his death, Gaiman wrote a BBC Radio 4 adaptation of Good Omens, which broadcast in 2014 and included a cameo from Pratchett; at the time, Gaiman said he had agreed to adapt it because: “I want Terry to be able to enjoy this while he’s still able to.”

But Gaiman, who flew into London on Thursday night for a memorial event for Pratchett at the Barbican, announced to whistles and cheers that he would be personally adapting the book for television. He said he had been spurred to change his mind when he was presented with a letter from Pratchett, intended to be read after his death….

But Wilkins revealed to the audience that Pratchett had left a letter posthumously for Gaiman. In the letter, Pratchett requested that the author write an adaptation by himself, with his blessing. “At that point, I think I said, ‘You bastard, yes,’” Gaiman recalled, to cheers.

“How much are we allowed to tell them?” Gaiman teased, before he was hushed by Wilkins. “Are we allowed to tell them it is a six-part television series?”

(2) GOOD VIEWS. Andrew Liptak explains how The View from the Cheap Seats Offers a Revealing Look into the Corners of Neil Gaiman’s Mind” at B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog.

…I’ve done all of these things, and yet somehow, it took the release of his new collection, The View from the Cheap Seats, to realize [Neil Gaiman’s] nonfiction is as compelling as the stories that have bewitched our imaginations.

The book assembles the best of Gaiman’s essays, introductions, speeches, and other musings. They’re generally brief—a couple of pages—but each speaks to his unique worldview so exactly, you can’t help but hear his distinctive voice in your head as you read. Each offers an enlightening peek into his unusual life and his passion for books and writing, from his close friendship with Tori Amos, to the genius of Gene Wolf and Harlan Ellison, to the value of libraries.

(3) HE HAS TWO LITTLE LISTS. Nick Mamatas points out that he made both Vox Day’s “Rampaging Puppies” slate of Locus Awards recommendations (for Hanzai Japan: Fantastical, Futuristic Stories of Crime From and About Japan, Nick Mamatas & Masumi Washington, eds.) and more recently, The Complete List of SJWs.

(4) THEY LIKE LEATHER. Well, Chauncey, there’s something I never expected to see. What’s that, Edgar? A leather-bound edition of Logan’s Run by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson. From the Easton Press.

(5) THE POWER OF FIVE. Samantha Mabry discusses “Five Books That Carry Curses” at Tor.com.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz (2007)

“Because no matter what you believe, fukú believes in you.” The opening pages of Díaz’s novel are dedicated to explaining the curse that perpetually plagues the Wao family. This particular curse, otherwise known as fukú, apparently originated in Africa and traveled across the Atlantic to sink its fangs into the modern-day Dominican Republic. It’s tied to ancient history and a more recent bad man, and it’s carried through generations (sorry, Oscar). It’s inescapable, rears its head during all stages of Oscar’s short life, causing him all manner of personal turmoil, and can certainly be tied to his eventual demise.

(6) FANTASTIC BEASTS. Missed this one over the weekend — “Wizards Take Manhattan in New ‘Fantastic Beasts’ Trailer”.

But in the new trailer, revealed during the MTV Movie Awards on Sunday night, we get the full story of his coming to America and 1920s New York, including a stop at Ellis Island, where he uses some crafty magic to hide a title Beast from customs. (Watch the clip above.)

A voiceover notes “just like your suitcase, there’s much more than meets the eye” and then reveals Scamander’s backstory: Kicked out of Hogwarts for his beastly experiments, he still has the support of none other than future headmaster Albus Dumbledore himself.

(7) ACCORDING TO CUSTOM. Lawyer Lawrence M. Friedman perked right up when the litigation hit the screen — “Batman v. Superman and Import Licenses” at Law and the Multiverse.

Heading into Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, I had some trepidation mixed with anticipation. You’ll have to judge the movie for yourself. My short review is that it is filled with great fan service and universe building, but continues to mistreat Superman as a character. To make up for that, Wonder Woman is great and Ben Affleck is perfectly good in the cowl and cape. That’s all I will say on the quality of the movie. What about the legal issues?

Very early in the movie, it becomes clear that Lex Luther and Lexcorp could use my professional help. Explaining why requires at least a minor spoiler. Consider yourself warned.

Following the events of Man of Steel, it becomes obvious to Lex Luther that kryptonite might be a useful tool to combat Superman and potentially other Kryptonians. One of his scientific henchmen, listed in the credits as Emmet Vale, finds a sizeable chunk in the Indian Ocean. As a side note, the existence of a potential “Professor Vale” in this universe is not good news for Superman. As a plot device, Luther realizes that he needs an import license and begins lobbying a Senator played by Holly Hunter for permission to import the kryptonite.

As a customs and trade lawyer, I may have been the only person in the theater to sit up just a little when I heard that. I lost the next couple minutes wondering to myself whether that would, in fact be true. Would Lexcorp, or any other legally compliant importer, need any kind of license to import a chunk of Kryptonite?…

(8) DAVID PROWSE GUESTS. SFFANZ spotted the new episode of web series Mission Backup Earth:

The series follows the struggle of humanity to colonize a habitable exoplanet.

In the near future, a cosmic catastrophe hits the Earth without warning. Unforeseen by any scientist, the Sun transits rapidly into a red giant. Having no choice, mankind must escape the solar system. The survivors become space nomads, seeking a viable replacement for Earth.

David Prowse has given a guest appearance in the new Episode and plays the scientist who develops the mission to save human kind from extinction.


(9) TEACHING WRITING. SF Site News has the story: “Julia Elliott Wins Shared World Residency”.

Julia Elliott has won the Shared World 2016 Amazon Writers-in-Residence. She will attend the Shared World Writers Workshop for teens at Wofford College in South Carolina, where she will meet with the aspiring authors and help teach and guide them in conjunction with the workshop’s other authors.

(10) TUNE CARRIER. John Scalzi sounds like the “stone soup” of vocalists – add a few ingredients and what a singer he’ll be!

(11) COURT SAYS DEITY IS NOT. The Register has the verdict: “Flying Spaghetti Monster is not God, rules mortal judge”.

A United States District Court judge has ruled that Pastafarianism, the cult of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM), is not a religion.

Stephen Cavanaugh, a prisoner in the Nebraska State Penitentiary, brought the case after being denied access to Pastafarian literature and religious items while behind bars. Cavanaugh argued that he is an avid Pastafarian, has the FSM tattoos to prove it, and should therefore be allowed “the ability to order and wear religious clothing and pendants, the right to meet for weekly worship services and classes and the right to receive communion” while on the inside.

Prison officers denied his requests on grounds that Pastafarianism is a parody religion.

Judge John M. Gerrard agreed with the prison officers’ argument, noting that Pastafarianism was cooked up as a response to Intelligent Design being taught in the State of Kansas. The decision to teach Intelligent Design was justified as it being one of many widely-held religious beliefs about the origins of the Earth. Activist Bobby Henderson devised Pastafarianism Flying Spaghetti Monster as a riposte, claiming that it, too, was a widely-held belief and that it should also be taught in Kansas’ schools….

Judge Gerrard was not impressed by those offshore cases, quickly deciding that FSMism is a parody, not an actual religion. Nor was he impressed by Cavanaugh, who had a rather poor grasp on Pastafarianism’s key texts, which the judge took the trouble to read….

(12) GARETH THOMAS OBIT. Star of a TV series that gained a cult following, Gareth Thomas (1945-2016), who played Roj Blake on Blake’s 7 died Wednesday reports the BBC.

Yet he remains best known for Blake’s 7, which ran on BBC One from 1978 to 1981.

At its peak, the series was watched by 10 million viewers and was sold to 40 countries.

Thomas claimed never to have watched a single episode of the show, which was derided by some for its shaky sets and basic special effects.

The show also had a distinctly pessimistic tone – typified by the final episode, in which all the main characters were apparently killed off.



  • Born April 14, 1936 Arlene Martel
  • Born April 14, 1977 — Sarah Michelle Gellar


(16) PLOWING SEASON ON TATTOOINE. The Hollywood Reporter says the dirt is flying — “Disney Breaks Ground on Star Wars Land in California and Florida”.

Disney SW land screen_shot_2016-04-14_at_9_17_11_am COMP

“In these all-new lands, guests will be transported to a never-before-seen planet inhabited by humanoids, droids and many others,” according to a status update post from Disney.

Disneyland has taken its first steps into a larger world.

On Thursday, the California and Florida theme parks broke ground on their highly anticipated attraction: Star Wars Land.

“In these all-new lands, guests will be transported to a never-before-seen planet inhabited by humanoids, droids and many others,” according to a status update post from Disney. “Star Wars-themed lands will be the largest-ever single-themed land expansions at Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort.”

Along with the update, Disney posted a 360-degree photo from the 14-acre construction site at Disneyland.

The opening date for the attractions has yet to be announced.

(17) NOT A BILL THE GALACTIC HERO REFERENCE. A comic book has the answer to this question.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens left us with a lot of burning questions, but one of the more peculiar ones is about C-3PO: Why did he have a red arm? Today in Star Wars Special: C-3PO #1 from Marvel Comics, written by James Robinson with art by Tony Harris, we got the answer in a story that takes place before the events of Force Awakens.

Warning: beware of full spoilers for Star Wars Special: C-3PO #1!

(18) WITH EXTRA ADDED AVATAR. “James Cameron Announces Four ‘Avatar’ Sequels” says a Hollywood Reporter article. Too bad it isn’t five – then it would be okay to laugh…

Fox ended its Thursday CinemaCon presentation with a surprise guest: James Cameron.

He announced that there will be four Avatar sequels, not the three previously planned. “We have decided to embark on a truly massive cinematic process,” he said.

Cameron said as he was planning the three sequels, he found it limiting. “We began to bump up against the limitations for our art form,” he said, explaining that he decided he would need more sequels to tell the whole story.

He said each of the four sequels will be able to stand alone, but will together create a saga. His goal is to release Avatar 2 at Christmas 2018 and the a new film in 2020, 2021 and 2022.

“I’ve been working the last couple of years with a team of four top screenwriters,” he said, “to design the world of Avatar going forward: The characters, the creatures, the environment, the new cultures.”

(19) X BERATED. Not everyone is sanguine about the company’s chance of handling Star Wars with kid gloves – consider the faux“Disney/Pixar’s X-WINGS Movie Trailer” from Big Bee Studio.

What happens when the people who made Cars & Planes get their hands on Star Wars? X-Wings. That’s what happens.


[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Steven H Silver, David K.M. Klaus, Chip Hitchcock, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]

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156 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 4/14/16 I’m Sure That Was Polite On Some Planet

  1. @Bruce, that’s from a yet-unreleased song. Most fans are calling it Surrender Under Protest, which is the name you’ll find it under here, leading off the encore. There are two other versions on archive.org, but this is the best-sounding one. Also, I believe Cooley will call it Compelled But Not Defeated. If you like it, let it play through What It Means, one of the other two unreleased ones from this show. The third, Ramon Casiano (Google it for the full context), came earlier in the show. Cooley wrote that one; Patterson Hood, the other DBT songwriter, wrote What It Means.

    What I love about that song is two-fold: There’s compassion in the verses’ view of how good people learn bad things, and there’s hope in the chorus’s view of how culture and ideas, especially the good ideas people who will love that song have to counter the bad ones the song refers to, can live past loss and remain vital.

  2. On the 19th-century Swedish immigration, I would like to say: Latecomers! (Yes, I have Swedes. They were in Philadelphia before Penn got there.)

  3. My wife Hilde’s grandmother was born and raised in Minnesota, and I believe Gina’s father Mons was a late-coming Swedish immigrant (1870’s?) who, yep, was a Minnesota farmer. That’s why Gina always served lutefisk with Christmas dinners. (Contrary to its reputation, a good cook — and Gina was a very good cook, even into her 90’s — can make lutefisk taste good.)

    My mother’s paternal grandparents, the Ohlson’s, came from either Sweden or Norway; I can never remember which.

    And my own patrilinear family line goes back to Scotland via a generation or two in Ireland.

  4. Here we have it, Eckerman, Minnesota.

    I have absolutely no idea how one would get there. Are there buses that go everywhere in US or is it necessary with car rental? If there are buses, how do I find out where they go from? I’ve been thinking of going there for more than 20 years now, so maybe I should try do to something after or before MAC2.

    Also, no idea if there is any relation at all between the names.

  5. PJ Evans: On the 19th-century Swedish immigration, I would like to say: Latecomers! (Yes, I have Swedes. They were in Philadelphia before Penn got there.)

    My mother’s side of the family lived in Wilmington, Delaware, which was near one of the Swedish colonial settlements. When I was a kid they took me to see Old Swedes Church where at one service General Peter Muhlenberg (sp?) threw off his clerical vestment to reveal his uniform, showing the congregation where he stood on the revolution.

  6. That’s Eckerman, Michigan, actually — two states over from Minnesota. Based on its location and apparent size, I would be rather shocked if there were any way to get there in a vehicle other than a car. (Walking doesn’t count as “in a vehicle”, all you pedants.) Google does have a Street View for it…but one that’s eight years old.

    It seems to be about a thousand miles away from Kansas City, so going there in conjunction with MACII would be rather an expedition.

  7. @ Hampus– It would be a difficult trip, but you could, e.g., fly to Sault Ste. Marie via Detroit (a 5-7 hour trip, counting layover) and rent a car to get to Eckerman from there.

    If it were me, and time & expense weren’t a big issue, I’d just drive up, partly to enjoy the scenery and partly to visit Michigan relatives. 😉

  8. @Hampus Eckerman

    There are probably be lots of flights to Chicago, and Chicago-St. Louis should be easy to find as well.
    You could then book a side trip to somewhere closer: Green Bay, or Milwaukee, and drive from there.
    It should be pretty country.
    Flights to the smaller airports, though, tend to be surprisingly expensive.

  9. I’m getting my drivers license this summer, so I need an excuse to drive a bit. 😉

  10. It’s possible to get from Kansas City to Chicago via Amtrak, which at least gets you closer to Eckerman.

    The trip even be done with fans: http://midamericon2.org/traincon-3/

    The Southwest Chief train theoretically leaves from Kansas City at 7:43 am and theoretically gets to Chicago at 3:15 pm. (Note: Amtrak is notorious for delays. Pretty much everything on the rails has priority over them.)

    The problem is, Amtrak doesn’t have anything going to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, which is where Eckerman is. From Chicago it’s a 7 hour or so drive. You could take the Amtrak “Pere Marquette” to Grand Rapids, Michigan (leaves at 6:30 pm, which is about the minimum buffer I’d allow for an Amtrak layover), which gets you a little closer to Eckerman, but you’d still have a four and a half hour drive more or less up the east coast of Lake Michigan (but far enough away that you wouldn’t get to see it except where you cross into the upper peninsula.)

    You could also take the Amtrak Hiawatha to Milwaukee, Wisconsin (leaves Chicago at 5:08 or 8:05 pm), but that just cuts about an hour, hour and a half off the drive (making it about 6 hours) more or less up the west coast of Lake Michigan all the way. (Note: I’ve never taken either drive, so I can’t speak as to how the scenery is). Honestly, I don’t think taking the Hiawatha is worth it; you’d lose more time waiting for the train than you’d spend driving.

    Chicago’s Union Station is a terminal train station; there are no through trains there. To take the train through Chicago is to change trains there. It does have a very nice “Beaux Arts” style train station, though, complete with allegorical statues.

    As far as I can tell, there are no bus routes that get you close to Eckerman from Chicago; someone else might be able to help you there.

  11. Yay, this was very good information. Especially the one with joining up with other fans on the train. I’m feeling kind of convinced that I will try for a trip to Eckerman now. Right now, renting a car in Chicago sounds like the best bet.

  12. Hampus, just bear in mind that if you rent a vehicle from Chicago’s Union Station you will be navigating downtown Chicago’s streets and freeways, and they can be a real nightmare. (If you’re used to driving in cities with a couple million people, you’re probably fine.)

  13. Mike, the other church to see would be Gloria Dei in Philly. (My family tree includes some Swedes whose name became Jones, as well as others whose names stayed pretty close to the originals. There are a lot of later immigrants, too.)

  14. You said that you were getting your drivers license soon, if I remember correctly; be warned that driving, especially by yourself, for 7 or 8 hours can be exhausting, especially if you’re new to it (and, I’d guess, especially if you’re trying to process everything in a foreign language). Since you’ll be arriving in Chicago in afternoon, I wouldn’t try to rent a car and get to Eckerman nonstop.

    You’ll have to check with car rental companies; usually there’s some sort of surcharge for taking the car out of state. The big three car rental companies here are Hertz, Avis, and Enterprise.

    As an American who has traveled in bits of Europe, though not your part, I feel obligated to warn you: our signage is generally terrible. And most towns don’t have tourist information buildings with convenient signs outside. As a tip, if you do end up driving, “rest areas” on highways (pull-offs where there’s a place to park and a building with a toilets, and sometimes wifi) usually have a rack of tourist pamphlets advertising local(ish) attractions; they’ll also sometimes have advertisements with coupons for cheap hotels and motels. At least you have the advantage of having excellent written English, as I fear that as a nation we don’t go out of our way to make information easily available in other languages much (except sometimes Spanish).

    Inexpensive hotel/motel chains that are reasonably clean include Motel 6, Super 8, and La Quinta (legend says that those numbers used to be how many dollars it cost to stay there for a night. Now it’s more like $40-$60). Any hotel actually in the city of Chicago is going to be comparatively expensive, though staying a day or two and going to museums and/or looking at architecture may well be worth it to you. (Do you like Impressionist art? The Art Institute of Chicago has a truly amazing collection).

  15. Oh yeah, driving in downtown Chicago is NOT one of my favorite things. At least nowadays you are likely to have GPS, either as part of the car, or in your phone, so when you take the inevitable wrong turn, you can recover from it. The good news is that the Chicago street system is an almost perfect grid. The bad news is that the highways into and out of Chicago converge in an impenetrable knot that is always under construction, and has random detours.

    Chicago drivers are fairly aggressive, but once you get out of town people relax some.

  16. Make sure the rental comes with a GPS and whatever phone you are using for the trip also has a map system. Between two GPS systems you should be able to get out of Chicago and handle needed detours for construction and traffic. I recommend planning a day or two in Chicago and possibly a one night stop on your way to Eckerman. Maybe someone will want to join you on the trip.

    If I were feeling better I’d find it a fun excuse for a road trip. At this point I’m not attending MacII. With all the testing all my new doctors have planned over the next few months it’s unlikely to end up on my radar. 🙁

    The good news is things are looking more and more likely for Helsinki.

  17. “You said that you were getting your drivers license soon, if I remember correctly; be warned that driving, especially by yourself, for 7 or 8 hours can be exhausting, “

    My idea was to check out what weirdness I can find on Roadside America to have a few breaks on the way. And no, art is not my thing at all. 😛

    Would it be smarter to go to Detroit instead and rent a car there (have to change to a bus I guess)? Or is Milwaukee the best way to avoid too much road confusion?

  18. I guess Grand Rapids would be smartest to start from if the train goes there, it is close enough, it is the same state and the size of the place is less daunting.

  19. I’m sure there’s a lot of other stuff that as a local-ish person I could tell you, but as a suburbanite I don’t know as much about the actual city of Chicago as I probably should. Especially about the mass transit system; since we really need cars to get around in the suburbs I almost always end up driving when I go downtown. And I’ve never been to Sweden, so I don’t know what sorts of things are different between here and there. Well, except for the terrible (lack of) signage thing that we do. Sorry about that. And the lack of multiple language information. Sorry about that, too. Google and GPS are your friends….

  20. Looking at the map, I think you’d have a faster and easier drive coming up from Detroit (which also has an international airport, so you might be able to skip all that mess with Chicago). You’d be on I-75 to Sault-Ste-Marie, which is an interstate highway so it will be four-lane and a higher speed limit. From Milwaukee you’ve got a bunch of small state roads (though it’s probably very pretty by the lake, once you get past Green Bay) and I’d bet the summer tourist traffic is something to contend with. If you don’t want to drive yourself I wonder if there’s a Greyhound bus from Detroit to Sault Ste Marie.

  21. @Hampus: IIRC, it can be much harder to get to a lot of places in the UP (Upper Peninsula) of MI from Lower Michigan than it is to get there from Chicago or someplace in Wisconsin.

    Also, the UP is, I am told, unusually full of fringe right-wingers, including militia types and neo-nazis.

  22. Amtrak does go to Detroit from Chicago (the “Wolverine”, which leaves at 6 pm and theoretically arrives in Detroit at 12:15am), so you could do that.

    Driving time from Detroit is around 5 hours; from Grand Rapids is around 4 and a half.

    The “Pere Marquette” arrives in Grand Rapids approximately 11:40 pm, despite leaving Chicago at 6:30 pm, so it’s something like an hour and a half less time on the train, and a half hour shorter drive at the end of it. If you wanted to be purely efficient that would be the way to go.

    So it’s pretty much a matter of if you want to see Detroit or anything else in eastern Michigan. You’ll have to look at the roadside attractions and see which looks more interesting. Or you could drive up to Eckerman from Grand Rapids, drive back to Detroit, and possibly fly home from there, thus seeing both routes. Or you could drive to Sault Ste. Marie, (pronounced, at least by this American, as “Soo Saint Marie”) if your rental place allows you to drop off the car in Canada, and fly from there (if you don’t mind Yet Another Border Crossing). Sault Ste. Marie Canada and Detroit Michigan are the two closest international airports to Eckerman as far as I can tell.

  23. Hampus, I took one look at that map and flinched. Please tell me you aren’t planning to make the drive alone? The fact that Eckerman is in the same state as Grand Rapids is misleading; there is a very large Lake in between Upper and Lower Michigan. In fact, Eckerman appears to be an unincorporated community in Chippewa Township, one of the emptiest townships in the whole of the Upper Peninsula, which is not a part of the U.S. known for population density–I mean, we’re talking less than 500 people in the whole township. I have driven through Chippewa County, which is obviously more in area than just the township, and it’s mostly miles and miles of state forest, pine trees and two-lane roads. Usually paved, at least, which is something, but don’t count on it. Yes, get the GPS but get paper maps/a road atlas too–my experience with GPS in the U.P. is that you will get sent wandering down dirt roads into the middle of nowhere if you don’t double-check where you are going. Also expect intermittent cellphone service, punctuated by the rare gas station. (When the road sign says “108 miles until the next gas,” believe it.) If you plan to take your brand-new driver’s license for a spin in that area, you should at least be safe from road rage–you aren’t going to meet much traffic, and what you do meet will mostly be logging trucks. I won’t say it’s a difficult drive, but it is likely to be a lonely one.

    There are no passenger trains in the U.P.–hasn’t been train service up there since I was a kid, forty years ago. You might be able to take a train up to Traverse City or even the Soo–I honestly don’t know much about the Lower Peninsula, so maybe someone from that area can fill you in–but after that, you’d be on your own. Busses . . . exist, in some parts of the U.P., but they’d be slow and service would likely be spotty.

    That said, if you drive up from Grand Rapids, you could come via the Mackinac Bridge, which is impressive, and Mackinac Island is fun to visit. Or the Soo Locks, aka “The Panama Canal of North America,” are cool–they are in Sault Ste. Marie.

    Seriously. I love Michigan’s Upper Peninsula–but it isn’t an easy part of the world for strangers to get around in.

  24. Something I just thought of; I know some people are bridge phobes (and some are bridge fans), and there’s a seriously long suspension bridge between the lower and upper peninsula of Michigan. The Mackinac Bridge is 8 kilometers long, and it’s the only road between lower Michigan, where both Detroit and Grand Rapids are, and upper Michigan where Eckerman is. Though there might be a ferry; I don’t know.


  25. re: Mackinac Bridge . I’ve been especially curious about it ever since reading about it in the Jim Hines Libriomancer novels. And I do like taking pictures of bridges, among other types of architecture.

  26. Mary Frances:

    ” In fact, Eckerman appears to be an unincorporated community in Chippewa Township, one of the emptiest townships in the whole of the Upper Peninsula, which is not a part of the U.S. known for population density–I mean, we’re talking less than 500 people in the whole township.”

    Yes, I checked it out, and that just made it feel more wonderfully weird. It is doing the crazy things that are fun, not the sensible ones. Did I tell you when I bought a 60 ton boat and had it sink within a year? Stuff like that is what makes for a good story. Afterwards. 😛

    But thanks for the tip. GPS I have, but an additional map seems like a good idea. If I’m doing this, I will add lots of extra days to my vacation to be safe.

  27. Yeah, the distance is pretty long; it’s just a little shorter than driving from Oslo to Stockholm. Though probably rather flatter. Michigan doesn’t have mountains; just higher and lower areas….

  28. Jim Henley: Also, the UP is, I am told, unusually full of fringe right-wingers, including militia types and neo-nazis.

    Nah, some but not enough to frighten tourists, in my opinion. And tourists are gold; the tourist industry is a major source of jobs these days. What U.P. is mostly full of is very small towns and people with no jobs since the mines closed. Ethnically, aside from Native Americans (Ojibwa), it’s Finnish, Cornish, Italian (all of whom worked in the mines), and French–from Canada for the logging industry. And yes, lots of hunters–traditionally, people fed their families during the Depression by poaching, and the government looked the other way. But the Klan never got a foothold up there (they tried, again according to legend), and two of the largest population centers are basically college towns.

    A friend of mine with family in West Virginia found it all oddly familiar when she visited the area with me . . .

  29. Cally: Though there might be a ferry; I don’t know.

    There’s a car ferry across Lake Michigan, from Ludington to Manitowoc (in Wisconsin), but it really isn’t worth it if you are going where Hampus wants to go. You’d end up driving twice, maybe three times as much. The Mackinac Bridge isn’t that scary–I’ve driven it, and I’m one of those white-knuckled bridge drivers–but it is one of those things you stop to look at either before or after you drive it . . .

  30. I would probably want to drive across the Mackinac (pronounced Mackinaw) bridge and take pictures of it. Also would buy the fudge (However, like most bridges, it has a darker side — my SIL’s cousin jumped from the middle and as a result we don’t mention the bridge to her).

    But I wouldn’t drive that far in one day unless I had someone to switch off driving with. The BFF has Yooper relatives (the Italian mining sort) and it takes all damn day or two to get there from the lower peninsula, with two people who are comfortable with long drives. The UP really ought to be part of Wisconsin.

    Chicago should only be transited through by experts, be it driving, flying, or trains. We drove into and out of downtown ONCE.

  31. “But I wouldn’t drive that far in one day unless I had someone to switch off driving with.”

    I was thinking of doing this as a 4-5 day thing. Time for fails, time for extras.

  32. Based on Google’s satellite view, Eckerman appears to have fewer than 20 houses (hard to tell which of the structures are houses as opposed to outbuildings, might be well fewer than 20). There is a location identified as a post office, but the map location doesn’t correspond to an actual building. The same applies to the location in Eckerman identified as a church. (Map marker, but not on a building.) Highway 123, which goes through the town, does appear to be paved, although badly fractured by frost-heaves.

    Let’s just say that the trip is likely to be An Experience, however it turns out.

  33. All things considered, flying to Grand Rapids and driving from there does look like the least-stressful option. And you get to traverse the Mackinac Bridge! I still remember crossing on it shortly after it opened, when it was one of the totally-coolest things ever to happen in my home state. You might also enjoy a trip to Mackinac Island, which is a nifty historic spot.

  34. SLM: You might also enjoy a trip to Mackinac Island, which is a nifty historic spot.

    Oh, that’s true! Hampus, if you liked the movie Somewhere In Time (based on Richard Matheson’s novel Bid Time Return), it was filmed at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.

  35. The wonders of the internet.
    On a dull evening I found myself tracking down my mother’s birthplace in Brodhead Wisconsin.
    (A mere six hours and 41 minutes from Eckerman, “without traffic.”)
    By contrast to Eckerman, Broadhead seems like a veritable metropolis, with golf course, pizza restaurants, and a cheese factory: http://decaturdairy.com.
    I can strongly recommend their blue.

  36. I’m a little worried for @Hampus Eckerman 😉 but as usual, it’s great to see Filers helping Filers with links, info, commentary, etc. 😀 It sounds like the journey, as much as (if not more than) the destination, will be the thing.

    Hail, King Hampus!

  37. Hampus, something just occurred to me–if you do wind up driving down (or up) Route 123 to Eckerman, you might very well wind up driving by Taquamenon Falls. That’s one of the area’s tourist attractions, and–depending on how you feel about waterfalls–might be worth a visit, too. Worth a google, in any case. It’s the falls that Longfellow mentions in Hiawatha, among other bits of Americana.

  38. Now I want Hampus to go into the post office and tell them, “Hello. I am your King.”

    A winery co-op in Italy in Italy was much amused when my uncle visited, and showed them his passport. Our family name has been around a few centuries at least, while their made-up (but identical) name only has a few decades history, I think.

  39. It occurs to me, Hampus, that given that there is a post office listed for the otherwise-tiny village of Eckerman, I wonder if there would be any value in dropping a note to “Postmaster, Eckerman [state, zip code]” explaining your interest in visiting the place. The worst that could happen would be that the letter gets ignored because no one knows what to do with it. But it might possibly be a way of having a contact in place when you show up.

  40. Heather Rose Jones: It occurs to me, Hampus, that given that there is a post office listed for the otherwise-tiny village of Eckerman, I wonder if there would be any value in dropping a note to “Postmaster, Eckerman [state, zip code]” explaining your interest in visiting the place.

    That’s a good idea. Consider also posting about your plans on the Facebook wall of Roxane’s Restaurant — possibly some locals would offer to take you under their wing!

  41. Paul Weimer:

    “Hampus could be The Emperor Norton of his namesake town!”

    I did visit the grave of Emperor Norton to honour him.

    ” It’s the falls that Longfellow mentions in Hiawatha, among other bits of Americana.”

    Mary Frances:

    Oh, yes!!

    Heather Rose Jones:

    It occurs to me, Hampus, that given that there is a post office listed for the otherwise-tiny village of Eckerman, I wonder if there would be any value in dropping a note to “Postmaster, Eckerman [state, zip code]” explaining your interest in visiting the place.”

    This was a great idea! I’ll absolutely do that. Sorry to say, I don’t have a Facebook account, so the Roxane idea falls short.

  42. I am so rooting  cheering for you to have this experience, Hampus. A dozen years ago, when I was in Europe, I made a visit to the town in the Old Country from whence my (fairly uncommon) surname originated, and they treated me like royalty. I’d love to shout you a drink and tell you the (rather lengthy) story at MAC II.

  43. Import license for kryptonite: I haven’t read the full article, only the excerpt, but I’ll jump in with this.

    Kryptonite, of course, isn’t real, but if it was, it would be a type of meteorite. And there is no license or anything at all special needed to import a meteorite into the United States. If you are mailing them internationally, you need to declare a value for any possible customs fees, but I’ve never been asked to pay any customs on meteorites I’ve had shipped to me internationally (or anything else, for that matter.) Exporting from some countries is a different issue, though. Some countries don’t allow export of meteorites without special permission, and several countries claim ownership of all meteorites that fall or are found within their borders. Which is unfortunate—denying personal ownership means that there is far less incentive to look for them, and more incentive to hide/smuggle them when you do. Having a meteorite classified requires that a certain amount of the meteorite be donated to scientific research—so commercial and private collecting have provided more meteorites to science than scientific expeditions (outside of Antarctica) have. Govenernment ownership of meteorites means less material will reach scientists, not more.

    As for recovering kryptonite from the Indian ocean, my impression (which I’m not googling to confirm or deny at the moment) is that salvage from international waters—more than x number of miles from the coast of any nation—fall under the rule of “finder’s keepers, loser’s weepers.” The country of origin can file lawsuits claiming some (or all) of the value from salvaged ships that originally belonged to them (such as Spain suing for—and winning—recovered gold and silver from sunken galleons) and—I suppose—one or more of the myriad Kryptonians who ended up on Earth could make a legal claim to ownership of any fragments of kryptonite recovered and let it play out it court, but I’m guessing that a The People of Kandor vs Lex Luthor movie would fall short of being box-office gold.

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