Pixel Scroll 6/15/24 Isn’t That The Motto Of The United States Pixel Academy?

(1) NYT’S NCUTI GATWA PROFILE. “Ncuti Gatwa Brings Millennial Emotion to ‘Doctor Who’” – an unlocked copy of the New York Times article.

…“It sounds like a showbiz story, but the last person we saw was Ncuti — and bang!” [Russell T] Davies said. “I knew then and there that was the man.”

Gatwa said that he and Davies didn’t have many discussions about his portrayal of the Doctor. “This is a character that is constantly born again, with fresh eyes,” he said. “There is an element of innocence within the Doctor. For me, that’s where his curiosity comes from, the confidence to explore the unknown in the way kids do.”

Asked whether he consciously incorporated more L.G.B.T.Q. elements into Gatwa’s first season, Davies pointed out that he has been putting gay characters onscreen for around 30 years. “We never had a sexuality meeting,” he said with a laugh. “And the Doctor is an alien, of course — he’s not Ncuti Gatwa, and I think human labels barely apply to him. He loves Ruby with all his heart. He doesn’t care what gender people are.”

Gatwa had another take. “I feel like ‘Doctor Who’ has always been a bit camp,” he said. “I mean, it’s a time-traveling alien in a British police box!”

(2) WHAT IF? Brian Grubb shares a little list: “Some shows I would like to see Reacher appear on” – “the actual character, not the actor who plays him (who I also call Reacher)”. Here’s one example of what he wants like to see.

House of the Dragon

A dragon swoops in during a festival and begins spitting fire at the villagers, ruining their stands and burning a number of them alive. 

Reacher headbutts the dragon. 

The dragon leaves.

(3) NEVER GIVE UP. NEVER SURRENDER. Horror author Tim Waggoner advises writers how to “Stay the Course: How to Keep Writing (Especially When You Don’t Want To)”. It’s a very in-depth discussion of many varied career situations – quite interesting.

…I began wondering why some writers quit while others continue chugging along, regardless of setbacks and self-doubts. And as a creative writing teacher, I’ve seen people who stop before they really get started or who quit along the way. Why do some writing careers fizzle out, and what, if anything, can be done to help writers keep doing what they love?…

Why Do Some Writers Quit After a Long Career?

I think the following list is mostly self-explanatory, and most of the items are challenges of aging in general applied to a writing career. I turned sixty this year, and I’ve started to feel some of the issues below. I remind myself about envy again, try to focus on what I really wanted from my career (to write and to grow as a person and artist), and I remember the kid writer I used to be.

·       Disillusionment with the publishing industry.

·       Seeing younger writers having earlier and greater success than they did.

·       Their career didn’t reach the heights they’d hoped for.

·       Fearing their best days artistically are behind them.

·       Feeling forgotten.

·       They’re tired.

How NOT to Quit

If you’re truly determined to quit writing, no one can stop you. And as I said at the outset of this long entry, it’s okay if you do want to quit. But if you’d like to keep going, here’s some advice from someone who’s considered quitting more than once in his forty-year career….

(4) NEWS FLASH. At The Mary Sue, Rachel Leishman is incredulous: “How Are So Many People Just Now Realizing the Jedi Are Not Really That Great?”

It’s wild to me that people watched Star Wars and saw a group of overly religious wizards who took kids from their parents as the clean-cut good guys, but hey, what do I know? With The Acolyte, fans are getting a more complicated version of the Jedi, and people … aren’t happy.

[SPOILER ALERT] The anger stems from the fact that the episode “Destiny” shows the Jedi going to Brendok and forcing the witches there (who are not apart of the Republic) to let them test children, Osha and Mae, to train as Jedi. When a fire breaks out because of Mae, the Jedi also do nothing to help save the witches, and the only “survivor” is seemingly Osha, all because the Jedi intervened. It isn’t the worst thing they’ve ever done, but it doesn’t exactly paint the Jedi in the best light.

The Jedi, as a group, are too overly strict in their rules—no emotional connections, continually doing as the Jedi Council says. It all leads to some people straying from the Order, and for a group that claims that only the Sith deal in absolutes, they sure have a lot of absolutes. While, yes, the Jedi are the “good guys” fighting against the fascist rule of the Empire, that doesn’t mean they’re perfect—far from it—and that’s what we’re seeing in The Acolyte….


(6) SIMULTANEOUS TIMES. Space Cowboy Books has released episode 76 of their bimonthly podcast Simultaneous Times. Hear it at the link. Stories featured in this episode:

  • “You Must Buy Your Purchase” by Andy Dibble — with music by Fall Precauxions
  • “Another Boiling Day” by s. c. virtes & Denise Dumars — with music by Phog Masheeen


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

June 15, 1989 Ghostbusters II premiered in the States in Hollywood thirty-five years ago. It came out just five years after Ghostbusters was released and in the meantime The Real Ghostbusters, an animated series, began airing. That’s where Slimer comes from who appears who in is Ghostbusters II.

After the moneymaker that was Ghostbusters raked in three hundred million on a budget of no more than thirty million (or perhaps as low as twenty million, as the studio never admitted what was the actual budget), Columbia Pictures wanted desperately a sequel but ran into numerous objections from the cast and the production staff they needed until they waved fistfuls of cash at them according to sources. Much of that cash actually being a share of the profits in the box office. Now that wouldn’t be a great idea in the end. 

Murray might have been the main problem here as he hated sequels. Co-creators, Reitman, Murray, Aykroyd, and Ramis all had control over the franchise at the point, and their unanimous approval was required to produce this film. Murray thought sequels were just greed on the part of film companies but he was willing to do this on he had a lot of fun on the first one. 

(Much later, after the death of Ramis, they sold control of the franchise to the studio for enough money to ensure trans-generational wealth. He and Aykroyd set up the production company Ghost Corps to continue the franchise, starting with the 2016 female-led reboot, Ghostbusters. It was really, really a financial nightmare making two hundred and thirty million while costing one hundred and forty-four million. Sweet mercy.) 

As with the first film, Aykroyd and Ramis collaborated on the script which went through many variations. Way too many according to sources. 

Neat note —  Richard Edlund, their SFX producer, used part of the budget to found Boss Film Studios, which then employed used miniatures, practical effects and puppets to deliver the ghoulish visuals.

It was an extremely quick shoot as regards the street scenes, just two weeks. Filming in New York lasted approximately two weeks and consisted mostly of exterior shoots. Those street scenes happened because city authorities allowed the producers to film on Manhattan’s Second Avenue during a period in which access for forty city blocks was restricted because of the visit of Gorbachev. Cool. 

The Fire House was an actual one, Firehouse, Hook & Ladder Company 8 fire station, in the Tribeca neighborhood of Manhattan. The sign that they hung there was given to the station and hung there for years after until it fell off. So what happened to it? Here’s that story as reported in the New York Times on the 24th of March 2002:

“’Yeah, we’re the ‘Ghostbusters’ firehouse,’ said Firefighter Jim Curran of Ladder No. 8 at North Moore and Varick Streets. The filmmakers used the firehouse for exterior shots in both ‘Ghostbusters’ movies. The sign inside the station was hung outside the station for the second film, but it fell and broke. It was then given to the firehouse and was placed on a wall above a collage of pictures of ‘Ghostbusters’ fans who have made the pilgrimage.

“’We used to get a steady stream,’ Firefighter Curran said. ‘It was listed as a tourist destination by a Japanese airline. Plus we would get a lot of people coming out of the bars late at night.’”

So how did Ghostbusters II do financially? It earned just two hundred and fifteen million, much less than its predecessor which as I previously said pulled in three hundred million. It was, to say the least, considered a financial disaster from the perspective of Columbia Pictures. Before the film had been released, the Board had been talking of a Ghostbusters franchise. So Ghostbusters: Afterlife, the third film in the franchise , wouldn’t be released for thirty years.  It would be a financial success making over two hundred million after costing seventy million. 

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire is doing very well as with an opening weekend May 24 of forty-five million. So there’s life in the Ghostbusters after all, isn’t there? 


  • Free Range shows a superhero taking exception to part of a traditional wedding ceremony.
  • Non Sequitur depicts dinosaur denial.
  • Tom Gauld shows life on the campaign trail.

(9) THIS IS NOT GOOD. “This Tucson homeowner didn’t know his house was built on a cemetery — until he found bones” at KJZZ.

Almost like the famous 1982 film “Poltergeist,” some homeowners in the Dunbar Spring neighborhood of Tucson had no idea their homes were built on top of a cemetery when they purchased their properties near the intersection of Stone Avenue and Speedway Boulevard.

One of those is Moses Thompson, who bought his home in 2006.

“We’d only been in the house [for] maybe a month and a sinkhole opened up in front of the house,” Thompson said.

He thought he had a sewer line break, but he started digging and found that the soil was dry.

“And then I found some brass decorations, like some diamond-patterned brass pieces and then I found a cross and then I hit some boards,” Thompson said….

…So Thompson contacted a local archaeologist and described everything he found.

“He was like, ‘You 100% hit a human grave. Your house was built over the Court Street Cemetery,’” said Thompson.

That archaeologist, Homer Thiel, excavated the grave and found it was a small child.

“I scraped my trowel and discovered there was another person underneath,” Thiel said. “That was an adult male. He had identical coffin hardware, which indicates the two people were buried at the same time.”…

(10) BEING THERE. Mary SanGiovanni lets us step into her shoes for a moment.

(11) SCHRODINGER’S ACTION MOVIE. [Item by Chris Barkley.] A movie proposal seen on Bluesky.

(12) A 1698 AUTHOR’S IDEAS ABOUT INHABITANTS OF OTHER WORLDS. “Rare book predicting alien life discovered in Cotswolds” at BBC. (If the auction price is too rich for your blood, you can read a scan of The Celestial Worlds Discover’d at Google Books.)

A rare book predicting alien life could sell for thousands at auction.

The book, published in 1698, was found at a free antique valuation event in Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire, by books valuer Jim Spencer.

Inside, author Christiaan Huygens explores his fascination with the potential existence of extra-terrestrial beings.

Mr Spencer said its contents seemed “almost comical”.

The book, lengthily entitled The Celestial World Discover’d: Or, Conjectures Concerning the Inhabitants, Plants and Productions of the Worlds in the Planets, Huygens questions why God would have created other planets “just to be looked” upon from Earth.

He concludes that aliens must have hands and feet like humans because of their “convenience”, writing: “What could we invent or imagine that could be so exactly accommodated to all the design’d uses as the Hands are? Shall we give them an Elephant’s Proboscis.”

He also suggests that “celestial beings” must have feet “[unless] they have found out the art of flying in some of those Worlds”.

The writer believed aliens enjoyed astronomy and observation, sailed boats and listened to music but also suffered misfortunes, wars, afflictions and poverty “because that’s what leads us to invention and progress”….

(13) YOUR GIBLETS AREN’T MADE FOR SPACE. “Human missions to Mars in doubt after astronaut kidney shrinkage revealed” reports The Independent.

Human missions to Mars could be at risk after new research revealed that long-duration space travel can impact the structure of astronauts’ kidneys.

Samples from more than 40 space missions involving humans and mice revealed that kidneys are remodelled by the conditions in space, with certain parts showing signs of shrinkage after less than a month in space.

… Scientists at University College London (UCL), who carried out the study, said that microgravity and galactic radiation from space flight caused serious health risks to emerge the longer a person is exposed to it.

Future missions to Mars were not ruled out, though the scientists said that measures to protect the kidneys would need to be developed to avoid serious harm to astronauts. Methods of recovery could also be introduced onboard spacecraft, such as dialysis machines….

(14) NO FAA REVIEW PRIOR TO NEXT SUPERHEAVY/STARSHIP FLIGHT. [Item by Bill.] The previous two Superheavy/Starship flights were both delayed because of waiting on the FAA to issue reports on their mishap investigations (and both reports were essentially reviews of SpaceX’s own investigations – there didn’t appear to be any significant value added by the FAA).

The FAA has said that there is no requirement for a review for the most recent flight. “The FAA assessed the operations of the SpaceX Starship Flight 4 mission. All flight events for both Starship and Super Heavy appear to have occurred within the scope of planned and authorized activities.” So SpaceX can launch again as soon as it is internally ready. “Review of 4th Superheavy/Starship flight; FAA clears SpaceX for next flight” at Behind the Black.

(15) WAVES HELLO. “’Gravity Waves’ Confirmed For First Time During Solar Eclipse, Say Scientists”Forbes has the story.

Researchers at Montana State University have made a significant scientific breakthrough by confirming the existence of gravity waves in Earth’s stratosphere during a solar eclipse.

Gravity waves in Earth’s atmosphere are created by mountain ranges and by the difference in temperature between day and night.

The results show that the moon’s shadow during the eclipse lowered temperatures enough to generate atmospheric gravity waves. The cold, dark shadow cast by the moon during an eclipse creates a thermal shock that sends out ripples in the atmosphere. They can most often be observed as ripples in clouds.

During October 14’s annular solar eclipse and April 8’s total solar eclipse—both visible in the U.S.—53 teams of students from 75 institutions across the nation launched high-altitude balloons. This Nationwide Eclipse Ballooning Project, a NASA- and National Science Foundation-sponsored program, was led by Montana State University….

… “By observing how the atmosphere reacts in the special eclipse cases, we can understand more about the atmosphere in general, which can help us better predict the weather and model climate change,” said Angela Des Jardins, director of the Montana Space Grant Consortium and an associate professor in the Department of Physics at MSU’s College of Letters and Science….

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Moid over at Media Death Cult  in a 16-minute video wonders “Why Stephen King Banned His Own Book” …?

An essay about the life, fallout and death of Rage by Stephen King…

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

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31 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 6/15/24 Isn’t That The Motto Of The United States Pixel Academy?

  1. (9) Yikes. Just for variety I’ll mention Brin’s “Detritus Affected”

  2. (2) I’ve no idea who “Reacher” is, but if he headbutted the dragon, wouldn’t the dragon pet him (as cats headbut for pets)?
    (3) Can’t imagine why disillusion with the publishing industry would cause that. I mean… my first publisher, Eric Flint, died, and the business was shut down, I signed with my second publisher, and it’s now been sold twice, and all while I’m trying to get people to read my books (with no advertising from the publishers…)
    (13) And still no consideration of artificial gravity, as in 2001…

  3. Jack Reacher is the central character of a series of novels by British author Lee Child, Jack Reacher was a major in the Army’s military police. After leaving the army, Reacher travels the United States, working at various jobs while investigating whatever he thinks interesting.

    I read several of them, they’ve got a great character in Reacher, fascinating stories and nobody important gets seriously hurts.

    No, I’ve not watched the film with Tom Cruise, nor either of the two series.

  4. (14) I think the FAA is in way over its head, when it comes to spacecraft. How about NTSB?
    Someone needs to regulate that stuff. These companies are going to kill a bunch of people while trying for record profits.


    Kidneys are very fickle beasts. They can fail without warning. My primary care provider had both of hers fail overnight without warning when she was eight months pregnant. They got her on home dialysis, her daughter was born a month later fine and she got a kidney less than a year later by way of her social network.

  6. No, I guess not. It isn’t as if the information needed to find it yourself hasn’t been included.

  7. mark: If you have no idea who Reacher is, then you don’t get the joke. You don’t need to demonstrate not getting it.

    Do you know the character The Hulk? Think of the joke with The Hulk in it.

  8. (4) The one useful contribution of the prequel movies was showing us why the Jedi were down to a few isolated old guys in the original trilogy. Far too rigid and limited, unwilling to stray from their absolutes.

    (9) Well, that’s quite a problem.

    (16) That’s a really good essay on the book and the larger social problem.

  9. @Lis Carey
    I thought they tried to move all the bits they could find, because of this, and also people tend to object to living on cemeteries.

  10. (15) Anyone who’s really interested in science will think of the phenomena that was recognized with the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics as “gravity waves“. The people studying these atmospheric phenomena should come up with a different name.

  11. Regarding (3) my impression is not so much that writers quit, as that they get left behind.

    The great 70s author and editor, Lyn Carter ended up sleeping in chairs and cadging meals at conventions, even after his career was over and he was struggling with cancer his neighbors knew him as a man who kept on writing, even though he had no publisher, no following, no one was going to touch his work.

    Dave Duncan was eased out of his career when his agent no longer took his calls and literally ghosted him, something I find appalling and sleazy treatment of a man who made money for him in the past. But a lot of writers in the modern era find their careers shortened or eliminated for them. They’d keep on writing, but no one will publish them.

    And honestly, the money is crap, and getting worse. The pressures are appalling. It’s worse than a rat race, it’s a rat race where you are literally blindfolded and everyone else in the business has full vision, and the goal posts are moved constantly.

    For those who voluntarily leave, maybe they’re tired of being treated like shit? Maybe just about any other activity is more financially lucrative and more personally rewarding.

  12. Anyone who’s really interested in science will know that “gravitational waves” in astrophysics and “gravity waves” in planetary and stellar atmospheres are entirely distinct phenomena, with well-established terminology going back decades.

  13. @P J Evans I realize we all despise Elon, but SpaceX has a pretty damn good record (probably because he has little hands on day-to-day control). They’ve killed a lot fewer people than NASA anyway. Also, too: This is the province of the FAA.

  14. (12) The BBC article makes Christiaan Huygens appear to be a curious visionary of science fiction. He was one of the most accomplished scientists of his time, discovering Saturn’s moon Titan, among others achievements. The European Space Agency’s spacecraft that was the first to land on Titan was named Huygens.

  15. 4) “You must have no emotional attatchments, youngling, for they may lead to fear, or anger, and thence to the Dark Side. Also, when you become a padawan, you will be assigned to a single senior Jedi who will be your mentor, your guide, and your friend, and you will stay by their side throughout all their desperate adventures.” Yeah, good luck with that.

    I’m moved to point out, not for the first time, that when Ben Kenobi tells Luke “Your father was a Jedi knight,” he says it with no more intensity than “your father was a quantity surveyor.” Not a hint that this was an unprecedented transgression, a violation of the tenets of the Jedi. Why not? Because this whole “non-attachment” thing is a crock of… bantha droppings… that’s why not.

    (Apply to this address for the full four-hour rant about Why The Prequels And Sequels Just Don’t Fit Together With The First Movie. Now including, as a bonus, extremely improper suggestions regarding General Veers and Captain Phasma.)

  16. 4) The Jedi problem in the prequels and other modern versions is one of the reasons I stop counting the movies canon after Return. Taking kids away from their families at a young age, never being able to marry? No wonder things turned out so bad. For me, I prefer them as the guardians of peace in the galaxy for a millennium as we’re told in the original Star Wars. If I wanted to see something with even the heroes being so flawed that they’re helpless, I’ll watch something written by Alan Moore.

  17. 3.) This is why I selfpub. Not only had I danced with submission processes back in the era when agents were something you acquired AFTER your first sale, but as time passed, I had a lot of tradpub midlist friends who were ghosted by agents, dropped by publishers, and so on. Going to that one panel in 2012 featuring a top New York editor with a handful of other writer friends in the same demographic (middle aged to late middle aged white/white-passing women) solidified my decision. It was clear from what that editor said that New York wasn’t interested in what we had to offer–and this was a high-level editor with a certain amount of influence and power in the field.

    Every one of us walked out of that panel shaking our heads, weighing the realization that we didn’t fit the mold. Not just in what we chose to write about but also in our personal lives.

    Since then, that group has either gone completely selfpub or selfpub combined with small press publication.

  18. @peer As of June 16, 2024, SpaceX has launched 354 Falcon 9 rockets since June 2010, with 352 full mission successes, two failures, and one partial success.

    That seems like a pretty solid record and outside the realm of luck.

  19. @PhilRM

    Anyone who’s really interested in science will know that “gravitational waves” in astrophysics and “gravity waves” in planetary and stellar atmospheres are entirely distinct phenomena, with well-established terminology going back decades.

    I looked into this a little, and found cites for use of “gravity wave” from 1890 or so.

    P.S. Still can’t get notifications to work right, and I’m afraid to mess around too much with it, for fear of stopping the other sites that it does work for from working anymore. Sigh.

  20. 9) This sort of thing infuriates me. I live outside Baltimore, where MLK Blvd was built over the poor/African American section of a cemetery. (The rich white folks remained undisturbed.) Another African American cemetery was simply paved over for a parking lot. All the headstones in the Female Union Band cemetery in D.C. were just bulldozed into a pile and allowed to get grown over.

    Meanwhile, up in N.Y., the Palisades Mall and its parking lots were built around another African American cemetery. These things can be preserved as long as someone has the will.

  21. Reacher: um, how big is the dragon we’re talking about?

    SW: other than the original three, the only one of the prequels that was worth it was #3 – that was what I’d been waiting for. Of the sequels… sigh I can live with the last. The first of those was, nope.

  22. I think it’s a pretty amusing joke. Of course, I read the Reacher books.

    Though I may not always be able to explain why…

  23. @rochrist
    And they destroyed one launch and threw debris across a wide area, including a town and a wildlife refuge, in the [process. After being told that it would happen.

  24. Because NASA has never strewn debris across a wide area right? Even when they also were warned, aka Columbia and Challenger.

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