Pixel Scroll 5/29/24 Pixel Scroll Heaven’s Just A File Away

(1) RARE APPLAUSE. George R.R. Martin says he found an exception to the rule in “The Adaptation Tango” at Not A Blog.

…Everywhere you look, there are more screenwriters and producers eager to take great stories and “make them their own.”   It does not seem to matter whether the source material was written by Stan Lee, Charles Dickens, Ian Fleming, Roald Dahl, Ursula K. Le Guin, J.R.R. Tolkien, Mark Twain, Raymond Chandler, Jane Austen, or… well, anyone.   No matter how major a writer it is, no matter how great the book, there always seems to be someone on hand who thinks he can do better, eager to take the story and “improve” on it.   “The book is the book, the film is the film,” they will tell you, as if they were saying something profound.   Then they make the story their own.

They never make it better, though.   Nine hundred ninety-nine times out of a thousand, they make it worse.

Once in a while, though, we do get a really good adaptation of a really good book, and when that happens, it deserves applause.

I came across one of those instances recently, when I binged the new FX version of SHOGUN.

…The new SHOGUN is superb.   Better than Chamberlain’s version, you ask?   Hmmm, I don’t know.   I have not watched the 1980 miniseries since, well, 1980.   That one was great too.…

(2) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to polish off paneer biryani with Tobias Carroll in Episode 226 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Tobias Carroll

Tobias Carroll is the author of the novels Ex-MembersReel, and In the Sight, the short story collection Transitory, and the nonfiction book Political Sign. …He writes a column on notable books in translation for Words Without Borders. Plus he has a podcast of his own — Framed & Bound, in which bookish people discuss movies set in the literary world.

We discussed which punk rock music made him a fan, why his heart belongs to novella-length works rather than massive epics, the artistic motivation for sometimes not giving readers what they’ve been taught to expect, the reason Ann Nocenti’s run on Daredevil was meaningful to him (and why he believes it aged so well), his fascination with deteriorating physical media, why Edward Hopper’s classic painting Nighthawks would have made the perfect cover art for one of his books, how you know when you’ve stuck the landing with a short story, and much more.

(3) SETTING THE STANDARD. C. E. Murphy did a lot of writing during a “Milford writing retreat” and makes that fact into an interesting story of its own.

I was afforded the unexpected opportunity to go on a writing retreat in mid-May. It was a great success, but I have to start by telling you about the first time I went on this retreat, in 2019, which MIGHT have been the first year this retreat was held.

That week, I wrote 41,000 words. Which is a lot. In fact, it’s enough that they said “we’re now going to use ‘murphy’ as our unit of measurement for this retreat forever,” which I thought they were joking about, except it turns out they’re not. :laughs: So, yeah. Wordcounts at this retreat are measured in “murphys,” although it turns out that they thought I’d written 33k that week so a “murphy,” technically speaking, is 33k. 🙂

That, however, was evidently not the legendary bit.

The legendary bit is that, because I was driving in with a friend and her van broke down, and we had to wait for the AA(A)* guy, I said, “Well, we might as well get some writing done” and made her take out her laptop and got my laptop out and we got some writing done.

I THOUGHT THIS WAS A PERFECTLY NORMAL REASONABLE THING TO DO! I now understand, at least intellectually, that…it was not. 🙂

Anyway, so that’s kind of the level of expectation I had/have for myself, going into a retreat. Nothing less than ‘legendary.’

Well, mes amis, I did not achive legendary.

Which is to say, I ONLY accomplished a Full Murphy by Retreat Standards: ie, I did about 32,000 words, which is Close Enough, sez I. I ONLY finished one novella and did 80% of another. (Well, 90%. I finished that one yesterday.) And also I edited a friend’s book, which probably should give me some kind of writing credit but is too hard to figure out in terms of wordcount….

(4) REGISTER FOR TALABI Q&A. FIYAH Literary Magazine will host an online interview with Wole Talabi on June 23. Connect at the link.

(5) NO SILVER LINING IN THIS CLOUD FOR “GOLD STANDARD OF FAMILY FILMS”. “Pixar Hit With Layoffs as 175 Staffers Cut” reports Variety.

Pixar was hit with layoffs on [May 21] as approximately 175 employees, or 14% of its workforce, were let go….

…Pixar employees have been bracing for layoffs since January, but cuts were smaller than the speculated 20% reduction that was reported at the time.Once considered the gold standard of family films, Pixar has been struggling since the pandemic when its corporate overlords at Disney used the pedigree of the animation brand to prop up its new streaming service. During that period, new offerings “Soul,” “Luca” and “Turning Red” were sent directly to Disney+ and family audiences became accustomed to expect those movies at home. When it reverted to prioritizing theatrical releases, moviegoers rejected the $200 million-budgeted “Toy Story” spinoff “Lightyear,” which marked Pixar’s second consecutive misfire after 2020’s “Onward” (which was released just before theaters shut down due to COVID). Although “Elemental” finished with $495 million globally, much stronger than its disappointing opening weekend would have suggested, it’s far less than past Pixar movies have earned.

(6) BOMBADIL ON BOARD. “Tom Bombadil Finally Steps Forth in ‘The Rings of Power’—An Exclusive First Look” at Vanity Fair.

Tom Bombadil has finally been invited on one of the long and winding road trips through Middle-earth. The mystical character is one of the more offbeat figures in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings saga, a woodland-dwelling man with an ethereal presence and a penchant for nonsense songs and brightly colored clothes, who helps rescue the hobbits from peril early in the first book, The Fellowship of the Ring. As much as he stands apart, his name would likely draw a blank from anyone who hasn’t read the novels since the two primary film retellings—Ralph Bakshi’s animated 1978 opus and Peter Jackson’s Oscar-winning live-action trilogy—both cut the him from the narrative completely. Now Old Tom, as the books refer to him, is finally getting his moment in the sun.

The Rings of Power, the Amazon Prime Video series based on Tolkien’s ancient history of his fantasy realm, will break that tradition of exclusion and finally feature Tom Bombadil—along with his jolly songs and his flamboyant wardrobe—when its second season begins August 29. Bombadil was described in Tolkien’s books as “older than the old,” a benevolent entity who began life around the time all life began, so his existence in this earlier era, thousands of years before the events of The Lord of the Rings, fits within the canon established by the author. In a 1937 letter to his publisher, mulling a possible sequel to The Hobbit, Tolkien described Bombadil as “the spirit of the (vanishing) Oxford and Berkshire countryside.” The author bristled at the notion that he wrote in allegory, but it’s clear he saw Bombadil as nature personified—right up to the character’s ambivalence about interfering in the larger world around him. That left showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay to figure out exactly how he might turn up in their show—and why.

(7) WHERE THEY’RE WATCHING BRIDGERTON. JustWatch covers one of the most anticipated releases of 2024, Bridgerton season three. Netflix has seen great success with Bridgerton, and as the newest season has just dropped they wanted to see how its release stacks up against the first two. (Click for larger image.) 

Key Insights:

  • Season 2 had the most successful launch, ranking 1st in 93 countries
  • Season 3 has the highest rating out of all three Bridgerton seasons
  • Season 1 is the least successful out of all three seasons, with the lowest IMDb rating and the lowest global popularity 

JustWatch created this report by pulling data from the week following the release of Bridgerton, and compared it to the previous two seasons. JustWatch Streaming Charts are calculated by user activity, including: clicking on a streaming offer, adding a title to a watchlist, and marking a title as ‘seen’. This data is collected from >40 million movie & TV show fans per month. It is updated daily for 140 countries and 4,500 streaming services.


[Written by Paul Weimer.]

May 28, 1906 T. H. White. (Died 1964.)   

By Paul Weimer.

Sure, the only thing I have read of him is the four volumes of the Once and Future King, and I particularly remember best the original, The Sword in the Stone. Yes, I read the book because I saw the animated Disney version on WPIX. So when I turned to the book itself, and found just how different it was, it was an early lesson for me in the perils of adaptations. This was a good lesson to learn, that adaptations could be extremely different than the original source text.  When I saw the animated Hobbit, Lord of the Rings and Return of the King, I was prepared for the books to be very different, thanks to the Sword in the Stone and White’s book.

But White’s book was also a lesson in something else. The Sword in the Stone was arguably the first time I came across a book which “extended” a myth I already knew. I knew who King Arthur and the Round Table were from a book of mythology I read when I was young. But it was White’s book that showed me that you could extend a story backwards in time, that you could go “beyond the myth and legend” and invent new stories for a character. And I will bet that most people who aren’t scholars, take the events in the Sword in the Stone as fully amalgamated parts of the Arthur story.  Consider: This is where the idea that Merlin either is living backwards (something Piers Anthony would later borrow for his Incarnations books), or that he is quite aware or is preparing for our modern day (c.f. Zelazny’s The Last Defender of Camelot). Other adaptations of the Arthurian myths from Lawhead to Attanasio to Barron have had to have at least a passing familiarity with White’s ur-Arthur story, even if they take it in very different directions.  

Sure, it’s an anachronism stew, and it left me for years wondering why other books didn’t have Robin Hood and Camelot in the same time period, but the sheer audacity of mixing and remixing history and myth and telling a new story of young Arthur is, and was, audacious and I admire it still for that audacity.

Or, in other words, The Sword in the Stone is the prequel that defies the curse of prequels and in fact fully canonizes the prequel. And the rest of the series feels as fully canonical as Malory, and perhaps even more so. Not a bad legacy, in my book.


  • Baldo has a winner who multitasks.
  • Carpe Diem imagines a future athletic event.
  • Bizarro might remind you of Rorschach.

(10) BIG BONED. The Guardian stands by as a “’Virtually complete’ Stegosaurus fossil to be auctioned at Sotheby’s geek week”.

The largest and most complete Stegosaurus fossil ever found is expected to fetch up to $6m (£4.7m) when it is sold as the star lot in Sotheby’s “geek week” auction this summer.

At 11ft (3.4 metres) tall and more than 20ft long the “virtually complete” fossil, which has been nicknamed “Apex”, is more than 30% larger than “Sophie”, the previously most intact stegosaurus specimen which was on display in London’s Natural History Museum….

…With an auction estimate of $4m-$6m it may become one of the most valuable dinosaur fossils ever sold at auction. The record is held by Stan, a T rex skeleton auctioned off by Christie’s for $31.8m in 2020….

… Apex was discovered by the commercial palaeontologist Jason Cooper in the Morrison Formation, in Moffat County, Colorado, near the town of Dinosaur, in May 2022.

(11) INSECURITY. “Police Biometric Data Leaks In Huge Hack”Giant Freakin’ Robot has details.

As our world becomes increasingly reliant on computerized data storage, it becomes clearer and clearer that the wars of tomorrow will be fought using leaks, hacks, and online attacks. A widespread hack of police data in India was recently conducted, releasing facial images, fingerprints, and other personal data about Indian police, and those seeking to apply for police jobs. The leaked info has also been compiled into zip files and offered for sale to criminals over the encrypted messaging app Telegram, clearly for nefarious purposes.

This hack of police data is a sign of more cyber crimes of this kind to come, as criminals continue to become better equipped with online hacking skills with each passing day. Security researcher Jeremiah Fowler explained that he’s already uncovered numerous web servers with hundreds of gigabytes of stolen data, targeting victims from multiple countries all over the Earth. This data ranges from basic information such as birthdays, purchase history, and education certificates, to more personal documentation such as birth certificates, bank info, and social security cards….

(12) FIN DE CYCLE. “Orcas are still smashing up boats – and we’ve finally worked out why” says New Atlas.

For four years now, orcas have been ramming and sinking luxury yachts in European waters, and scientists have struggled to work out just why these smart, social animals had learnt this destructive new trick. But it’s not due to some anticapitalist ‘eat the rich’ agenda, nor is it to do with territory and aggression. The truth is, well, it’s child’s play.

Following years of research, a team of biologists, government officials and marine industry representatives have released their findings on just why one particular Orcinus orca group has developed this destructive streak. And it turns out, orcas – especially the kids and teens – just want to have fun. The report reveals that a combination of free time, curiosity and natural playfulness has led to young orcas adopting this ‘trend’ of boat-bumping, which is not at all surprising for a species that has been known to adopt odd, isolated behaviors from time to time.

In recent years, a dramatic recovery in the population of bluefin tuna in the region has been a win for a group of about 40 critically endangered Iberian killer whales that feed exclusively on the large fish. This has meant they’ve cut down their time spent foraging, leaving space for other ‘hobbies.’…

(13) THE BEE SIDE. “A vaccine for bees has an unexpected effect” explains Science News.

The first vaccine designed for insects may make honeybees healthier overall.

Honeybee hives vaccinated against a bacterial disease had much lower levels of an unrelated viral disease than did unvaccinated hives, veterinarian Nigel Swift of Dalan Animal Health reported April 3 at the World Vaccine Congress.

Researchers at Dalan, based in Athens, Ga., designed the bee vaccine to protect against American foulbrood — a fatal disease caused by a spore-forming bacterium called Paenibacillus larvae. Adult bees don’t get sick but can spread spores in the hive, where the disease infects and kills larvae. Spores can remain viable for more than 50 years, so beekeepers with infected colonies must destroy hives by irradiating or burning them to keep the disease in check. A vaccine may save bee lives and beekeepers’ livelihoods….

… Dalan’s vaccine against foulbrood disease doesn’t rely on tiny syringes. Instead, bees are inoculated through a sugar paste that researchers spike with heat-killed P. larvae. Worker bees eat the candy and incorporate it into their royal jelly, which they feed to the queen. Inside the queen’s gut, bits of the bacteria attach to a protein, which in turn transports the vaccine fragments to the ovaries where they can be deposited in eggs. Larvae that hatch from the eggs should be protected from the disease…

… Yet the researchers found a surprising result: Vaccinated hives were protected from a viral disease spread by varroa mites (SN: 3/7/16). Both vaccinated and unvaccinated hives started the study with the same number of mites and a baseline level of virus, as measured by a PCR test. Virus levels continued to rise in the unvaccinated hives but declined in the vaccinated ones. At the end of the study, vaccinated hives had accumulated 83 percent less virus than unvaccinated hives did, Swift said. The number of mites per hive remained the same….

[Thanks to SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, Teddy Harvia, Cliff, Kathy Sullivan, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip W.]

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24 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 5/29/24 Pixel Scroll Heaven’s Just A File Away

  1. 12) I read about boisterous gangs of adolescent Orcas beating up on others, and suddenly I’m in the youth of Steven Brust’s Vlad Taltos.

  2. Your latest review of a Hugo nominee which will be posted here next week was simply wonderful. (CatNet told me about it.)

  3. (1) Thank you, George. It’s nice to know someone else agrees with me about “a film’s a film” (bs).
    (3) I don’t understand – why is pulling out a laptop and writing while waiting for AAA not a reasonable thing to do? I mean, what would filers here do?
    (6) Look up the word “genius”, and the Greek that it comes from. Bombadil is more the Genius of life on Middle Earth, or at least of the life of trees.
    Birthday: Sword in the Stone is more than all that – it’s morality, and honor, and doing what’s RIGHT, and in a way that kids will read it and want all of that.
    (10) “Commercial paleontologist”? So, he’s a real life Rene Belloq, eh?
    (12) Orcas just want to have fun…
    (13) That is fabulous news.

  4. 4) T.H. White’s children’s book “Mistress Masham’s Repose” is one of my favorites. It’s one that the suck faerie has never touched for me, and it’s about time I pull it off my bookshelves and read again.

  5. mark: Having your laptop with you must be a trait of a real writer. The times I’ve been waiting for AAA I’ve only had my phone and didn’t want to run down the battery before they showed up.

  6. MikeG – that’s what my Real Computer with a full-sized keyboard is for, but I do travel with a tablet… with a bluetooth keyboard (which sucks) in case I get Struck to write…

    Otherwise, I do have a book.

  7. (1) Ironically, Martin adapted Roger Zelazny’s wonderful short story “The Last Defender of Camelot” for the 1980s Twilight Zone. It was terrible.

    I agree with him about the recent Shogun miniseries, though; it’s terrific.

  8. 13 made me laugh, sadly.

    When, and from whom, will we hear the first dire warnings about the coming of the VACCINATED BEES!

    You know they’ll be blamed for something. Immigration. Inflation. People wearing white socks with sandals, something.

    Vaccinated Bees could be in YOUR backyard this summer and they can’t be reasoned with, they can’t be bargained with and they absolutely WILL NOT STOP until your plants are pollinated!

    You know what that means, right?

    Some Hollywood Director is going to make that story their own, that’s what!

  9. (3) I shall measure my writing life out in murphys.

    (8) I liked Mistress Masham’s Repose too (and Paul – I watched WPIX, too; if I recall correctly, it was my go-to spot for Star Trek reruns).

  10. After reading “The Once and Future King,” I could certainly see why Disney made a film of it. It looked like it was tailor made for Disney.

  11. @PhilRM
    “Ironically, Martin adapted Roger Zelazny’s wonderful short story “The Last Defender of Camelot” for the 1980s Twilight Zone. It was terrible.”
    But it had Jenny Agutter in it — always a plus.

  12. #6: I remember being shocked when a couple of my relatives said, “Who is Tom Bombadil?” when we were discussing LoTR, Turns out, like so many millions, they couldn’t bother with the books but only saw the Peter Jackson films.

    …which, of course, leave out hundreds of pages of the books, including all the back-story and future-story of Aragorn. Dumb.

  13. Cliff says 150 CGI artists looking for work in the Bay Area is no joke.

    Remember Pixar is global in its operations, so we’ve no reason to assume that all of those layoffs were local.

  14. @bill: But it had Jenny Agutter in it — always a plus.

    It was the one good thing about the episode – she made a wonderful, cigar-chomping Morgan Le Fay.

  15. @Caat Eldridge
    One of the game houses just laid off a bunch of people in the Bay Area.

  16. @mark What the films did to Faramir should really be liable for a criminal indictment.

  17. Rochrist: I’ve been saying that if he were real, he could sue for libel/slander.
    Hell, for that matter, they turned Denethor, who nobody like (with reason) into a cardboard figure.

  18. @ Cat “Remember Pixar is global in its operations, so we’ve no reason to assume that all of those layoffs were local.”

    No, Disney is global, Pixar is located in Emeryville, California. They have a handful of remote employees in Seattle, and a few including myself in the UK who are employed directly by Disney for some tax reason or other. I’m the only non-Californian affected, but won’t actually be jobless until 4 weeks of ‘redundancy consultation’ time expires, as required by UK law (3 left now).

  19. Re Bridgerton stats. And yet another map that decides New Zealand is worthy of being removed, despite the inclusion of other much smaller islands. Are folks that geographically illiterate?

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