Pixel Scroll 7/7/18 It’s My Pixel, And I’ll Scroll If I Want To

(1) MODEL RAILROADING. A hobbyist told readers of the ModelTrainForum this layout accessory will be available this fall from Menard’s Model Train Company —

(2) ALIEN RETURNS? Website Omega Underground is reporting on a rumor that a series set in the Alien universe may be on its way to a cable network or streaming service. The story notes that the franchise will celebrate it’s 40th anniversary in 2019. Article writer Christopher Marc claims to have multiple sources for at least parts of a rumor that a TV series may be in the offing to mark that occasion.

With the Alien films possibly in limbo could there be other platforms for stories outside of video games and comics?

Well, take the following as a rumor.

Back in April, a reliable source revealed to us that a series set within the “Alien universe” was being considered behind the scenes. I was able to reaffirm the rumbling with another source located in another country that was able to support some of the basic info.

What they couldn’t connect on is where it could land be it FX or a streaming platform, Hulu and Netflix were ruled out at the time.

I didn’t think much of the series rumor at the time as I had assumed it would be a big announcement for Alien Day [26 April] and would just wait, which obviously didn’t happen.

However, the rumbling resurfaced yesterday [2 July] and that something could be announced “soon”. If they plan on announcing their intentions or are aiming to release it next year to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Alien franchise remains to be seen.

(3) SMALL WORLD. NPR’s Bob Mondello looks at Ant Man and the Wasp — audio with soundbites, and transcription.

MONDELLO: Super-confidence – not his strong suit. But give him a good enough reason, and he’ll shrink to the occasion. What gets him going this time is multiple bad guys or gals and a mission to head for the Quantum Realm, which is subatomic. And, well, there’s a lot of plot virtually unspoilable because it makes so little sense. So why don’t we let Ant-Man’s pal Luis handle it?

(4) EPIC OF THE LUCAS MUSEUM. Paul Goldberger tells Vanity Fair readers how the twice-spurned project landed in L.A. — “George Lucas Strikes Back: Inside the Fight to Build the Lucas Museum”.

There are a number of reasons why movie directors do not generally go around establishing museums. It is not only because most of them do not own enough artworks to put into them or have enough money to start new careers as philanthropists. If you direct movies for a living, you are accustomed to controlling just about everything that comes across your field of vision. But if you decide to build a museum, you can control very little, as George Lucas—who has plenty of art, and plenty of money—has discovered over the past several years. His quest to donate more than a billion dollars’ worth of art and architecture in the form of a brand-new public museum containing the bulk of his collection of paintings, drawings, and film memorabilia was turned down in San Francisco, driven away by opponents in Chicago, proposed again for a different location in San Francisco, and finally, last year, approved for a site in Los Angeles.

The project, which is now officially named the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art but, given its history, might just as well be called the Flying Dutchman, will take the form of a dramatic, swooping, cloud-like structure designed by the Chinese architect Ma Yansong, in Exposition Park, adjacent to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

What Lucas is now building—ground was broken on March 14, and there is already an excavation so large that it looks like a massive earthwork if you view it from an airliner approaching Los Angeles International Airport—could not be more different from where he started out. The museum’s original incarnation, proposed for waterfront land within the Presidio national park, with views of the Golden Gate Bridge, was a grandiose, heavy-handed Beaux-Arts building that Lucas, who prides himself on his love of both art and architecture, insisted was the only thing appropriate for that site. That first version was called the Lucas Cultural Arts Museum, a title as awkward semantically as the building was architecturally. Its unveiling, in 2013, marked the beginning of a multi-year saga that would come to have nearly as many dramatic clashes as you’ll encounter in Lucas’s Star Wars, and almost none of the amiability of his American Graffiti.

No one back then had the slightest idea that the proposed museum would provoke a major backlash in not one but two American cities, or that it would finally come to rest in Los Angeles, a location that carries no small degree of irony, since it is a city that Lucas built much of his identity as a filmmaker on spurning. Although he studied film at the University of Southern California and has been a major supporter of its film school, he has lived and worked in Northern California for most of his life, and for years he made something of a fetish of avoiding Los Angeles as much as possible. Although Lucas bought a $33.9 million estate in Bel Air last year, which will allow him to be close to the museum as it rises, he still spends most of his time either in Marin County, north of San Francisco, or in Chicago, where his wife, Mellody Hobson, a Chicago native who is the president of a financial firm, Ariel Investments, is based. Chicago, of course, would become the second city to find itself the recipient of what Lucas felt to be his unrequited love.


  • July 7, 1955 — The sf radio program X-Minus One aired Robert Heinlein’s “The Green Hills Of Earth” for his birthday.


  • Born July 7 – Shelley Duvall, 69. Executive Producer of Faerie Tale Theatre, performer in Popeye as Olive Oyl, also Twilight Zone, Time Bandits, The Shining, and Ray Bradbury Theater to name some of her genre work.
  • Born July 7 – Billy Campbell, 59. The Rocketeer of course, but also series work in STNG, Dead Man’s Gun, The 4400, and Helix, plus a role in the Bram Stoker’s Dracula film.


  • Chip Hitchcock found out how monsters cosplay in Bizarro.

(8) PERSONAL SFF HISTORIES. Fanac.org has posted an interview recorded at Philcon 2017 — Samuel R. Delany & Tom Purdom on the Science Fiction community.

Chip Delany and Tom Purdom talk informally about their experiences in science fiction in this audio tape with images. You’ll hear some startling stories about the Nebulas, and about writers such as Judy Merril, Walter Miller, and Fred Pohl. Tom talks about his introduction to science fiction and fandom in the 50s, and the fannish equivalent of the internet. This is a low key, entertaining session, held in the Philcon con suite. It’s an interesting take on how different fandom is for these two authors. Note: there is some choppiness in the audio during the last 15 minutes. Introduction by Gene Olmstead, and questions by Joe Siclari.


(9) DOOMED. Ansonia smeago, named for resemblance to Gollum, is in deep trouble – the BBC has the story: “Lord of the Rings toad on brink of extinction”.

A toad named after the character Gollum in the fantasy novel Lord of the Rings has joined the latest list of animals deemed at risk of extinction.

The amphibian lives not in the Misty Mountains, but on a Malaysian mountain.

The toad got its name from Gollum, also known as Sméagol, in Tolkien’s trilogy because scientists saw similarities between the two….

(10) CLARKE. David Doering discovered Arthur C. Clarke prophesying about developments in tech in a letter of comment from the August 1941 issue of Voice of the Imagi-nation.

2 July:    “Many thanks for the April and May VoM’s which arrived this morning. For the last couple of months I have been in London learning all about radio. This is the sort of work that suits me down to the ground so I am having a fine time with vector diagrams, resonant circuits, valve [tube] characteristics, and the intriguing complexities of A.C. theory. I am hoping that I shall be able to learn about radiolocation eventually – the dear old ‘detector screen’ of science fiction at last! Another scoop for sf, when you think about it.

I’m thinking that the rocket will be the next thing that will hit the war (in more ways than one!) as it is a well-known fact that the Italians have had a jet propelled plane flying for some time [the Caproni Campini N.1], and the Nazis have been using rockets to assist take-off of heavily loaded bombers. After that (or perhaps before) will be atomic power, I fear. Then the fat will be in the fire…..

Arthur “Ego” Clarke

(11) BETTER LATE. Hey, I’m liking this. From 2010, Robin Sloan’s “The Wrong Plane”.

…I showed up at the old gate, handed over my boarding pass—printed at home on an aging Epson inkjet that will no longer produce the color red—and the little scanner beeped in protest, but it was lost in the din of the boarding process, and I kept shuffling, half-asleep, and the gate agent kept shuffling, half-asleep, and everything just shuffled along.

Or maybe, through some strange printer error, my Epson smudged the bar-code in such a way as to produce an encoded string that passed muster. Maybe my boarding pass was defective and yet, presented at precisely the right wrong gate, effective. I realize this explanation is totally implausible, but I found myself drawn to it—because of what I saw out the window.

First, the ocean. Nothing out of the ordinary, except that it was the ocean, and we weren’t supposed to be flying over the ocean.

Second, the sky. An electric globe, ramping from pink at the horizon to indigo high above us, speckled generously with white curlicues, little cloudlets shaped like commas and tildes. They were distributed evenly across my entire field of vision. Not an impossible sky, but an extraordinary sky.

Third, the plane. I was sitting on the wing. It curved away from the fuselage like a giant sickle, and it had a mirror finish like a blade, too, reflecting the pink and blue of the sky. Its length was physics-defying (and I know wing physics); it tapered to a sharp point that looked about a mile away. This was not the United shuttle….

(12) ONCE MORE INTO DINOSAUR KINGDOM II. In the Washington City Paper, Pablo Maurer profiles Dinosaur Kingdom II and reveals that one of Mark Cline’s inspirations for mashing together the Civil War and dinosaurs was Ray Harryhausen — “In Central Virginia, Dinosaurs Still Walk the Earth”.

…Cline’s latest creation is difficult to describe. Just up the highway from his studio, it’s part nature trail, part haunted house, part art gallery.

The story goes something like this: It’s 1864. The Union army is shelling Lexington, and one of their cannon rounds inadvertently disturbs some sleeping dinosaurs in the caverns below. The Yanks, determined to harness the power of their new ancient friends, weaponize them and turn them loose on Confederate troops. That plan, though, backfires. What ensues is a massacre of prehistoric proportions.

Also involved: a pterodactyl flying off with the Gettysburg Address, a re-incarnated Stonewall Jackson fitted with a mechanical arm, slime-colored creatures plucked straight from a low-budget horror flick. There is all of this, and more, at Dinosaur Kingdom II….

Cline says some of the inspiration for Dinosaur Kingdom II comes from the 1969 fantasy flick The Valley of the Gwangi, which tells the story of a wild-west stunt show that stumbles upon and corrals a herd of dinosaurs. He melded that inspiration together with a bit of history. “I started thinking—60 percent of the battles in the Civil War were fought in Virginia. And Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson are buried right here around Lexington. So I blended the two ideas together. Like chocolate and peanut butter.”

(13) CAN’T LOOK AWAY. It’s not just the moon that’s made of this stuff… GeekTyrant invites you to “Watch The Fantastically Cheesy Trailer For Indie Sci-Fi Film ALIEN EXPEDITION”.

If you loved the indie film Turbo Kid, you’re absolutely going to love this. Alien Expedition takes the genre of intentional sci-fi camp and does it some real justice in its two-minute trailer. I for one am really hoping one of the streaming services snags this film up so I can watch it without having to do a lot of searching months from now. …Watch the film’s website for information on a potential release date….


(14) BLUE MOON, NOW I’M NO LONGER ALONE. [Scroll item compiled by Mike Kennedy.] Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space flight company has announced a program named Blue Moon [GeekWire link] [Business Insider link] to land a spaceship on the Moon no later than 2023. Speaking for Blue Origin, business development director A.C. Charania said the program is “our first step to developing a lunar landing capability for the country, for other customers internationally, to be able to land multi metric tons on the lunar surface.” He continued, “Any permanent human presence on the lunar surface will require such a capability.” He also said, “Blue Moon is on our roadmap, and because of our scale, because of what we see from the government, we brought it a little bit forward in time. I think we are very excited to now implement this long-term commercial solution with NASA partnership.”

This is only one of Blue Origin’s ongoing goals, albeit the most recently announced. They’ve already missed an earlier goal to have human suborbital test fights by 2017  something that’s now hoped before the end of 2018. Tickets for paying sub-orbital passengers may be available in 2019. Meanwhile, they’re developing a new rocket engine (the BE-4) to be used for an geostationary-orbital-class rocket, the New Glenn. Some launches for the New Glenn are already booked for the early 2020’s.

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. WernAcular on Vimeo answers this question: wouldn’t your film sound MUCH classier if Werner Herzog narrated it?  Well, with WernAcular, everyone can be Werner Herzog!

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, Chip Hitchcock, David Doering, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories,. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Joel Zakem.]

42 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 7/7/18 It’s My Pixel, And I’ll Scroll If I Want To

  1. Adventures in BiPAPing: I went to the Regional Home Care office, and emerged with a BiPAP machine and instructions. With it already set up for my wifi. With the app already installed on my phone. With everything I needed except the distilled water.

    I even remembered to make a stop at a supermarket (my second supermarket stop after leaving RHC) and pick up the distilled water.

    When ready to begin actual use of the machine, I tried to figure out where the power cord connected to it…

    I looked it over in detail. I looked over the instructions in detail. I hopped online, and…

    In the course of my search, saw passing mention of power supply…and realized I’d seen one in the bag, before moving on to other aspects of the machine. Power cord connects to the power supply, which does have an obvious connection point on the machine.

    I’m not an idiot, but sometimes I do a fair impression of one!

  2. Lis, I recently decided I could tolerate the expense of getting a new hose for my CPAP, which is still sitting in its bag because I’m not in a hurry. So today I was looking for something in the closet and I found another hose and also a new mask, both of which I seem to have bought some months ago, and which are (say it with me) still sitting in their bag.

    The bright side is that I can be using the brand-new mask and hose on this trip I’m taking soon. Yay, right?

  3. 8) Surely you mean Judith MERRIL (not “Merrill”)?

    13) “Space dinosaurs” AND “space meteors?” This film isn’t just cheese–it’s GRILLED cheese!

  4. @4: I am unsurprised that the author wonders how well exhibits will fit into that building; it suggests the complete lack of concern about functionality that I used to see in Kresge “Auditorium” when I was hanging around MIT. It certainly will be striking, though.

    @11: that’s an interesting story. The first thing that popped into my head from the excerpt was “The presidents of the New York Central and the New York, New Haven, and Hartford railroads will swear on a stack of timetables that there are only two.” — but this one goes in a very different direction. (Trivial annoyance: the author didn’t check what runways Kennedy has — there is no “three”.)

  5. @Lis Carey: Hooray for the BiPap! I failed both my CPAP and BiPap titrations and am waiting for a referral for the ASV test. I now have a useless CPAP.

    (8) Hey, I was there!

  6. @Chip Hitchcock

    @4: I am unsurprised that the author wonders how well exhibits will fit into that building; it suggests the complete lack of concern about functionality that I used to see in Kresge “Auditorium” when I was hanging around MIT. It certainly will be striking, though.

    Sadly, spectacular museum buildings which completely fail at the purpose of displaying exhibits are fairly common now that museums have become showpieces for star architects. The Berlin Jewish Museum, designed by Daniel Liebeskind, initially had some problems along those lines.

  7. Hey, Mike, the title of 4 has a typo in the name.

    11) I enjoyed the story. I don’t think that’s a real raven species, but this is fiction. I enjoyed it anyway.

  8. 1) Cool!

    3) We were looking at the trailer and thinking that sounds like kind of a fun romp. Slightly paraphrased from memory:
    RUDD: You gave her wings?
    PYM: Yes. And blasters.
    RUDD: I guess you didn’t have that tech when you worked on me.
    PYM: Yes, I did.

    Oh, SNAP! And Lilly seems to have gotten a good handle on the character.

  9. If all goes well, I hope to see the new Jurassic World and Ant-Man movies on Tuesday. Turns out my local theater says I can use a Moviecash voucher on multiple same-day tickets, so one of the two passes I won for JWFK should cover both shows on $5 Tuesday. Ain’t nothin’ like free movies…

    Speaking of free movies, Justice League just debuted on HBO, and I’d both missed it in theaters and not gotten around to renting or buying it on disc. I’d generally avoided spoilers, as well, so this was certainly a new movie for me.

    I really liked the characterization for Flash, because it seems so logical that living at superspeed makes the mundane world a distracting and irritating place. (Hat tip to Peter David’s work on Quicksilver, which covers the same idea from a less sunny perspective.) Batman and Wonder Woman were as expected, and I liked their post-skirmish conversation scene. Cyborg was right in every way I can think of, from being angry at what was done to him to gradually getting accustomed to and mastering his tech abilities. I wasn’t sure what to make of Aquaman, but his confession scene put him solidly into the “win” category. As for the legendarily bad mustache CGI, my vision’s just poor enough that it wasn’t an issue for me. Kudos also to J.K. Simmons for doing as good a job with Commissioner Gordon as he did with J. Jonah Jameson.

    I was considerably less happy about the “secret battle many millennia ago” setup, which to me read as “look, we need a way to get Aquaman and Wonder Woman on the board, so play along” rather than a viable plot. Likewise, I was biologically dubious about the “can’t decay” point, but whatever. Again, it’s there to enable a plot device that switches one form of alien tech for another, so I can see the reason for it, but it’s still weak. Finally, of the two credit scenes – liked the first, meh on the second.

    Overall, like BvS, the movie was nowhere near as awful as I’d been led to expect, and I’ll take that over the reverse every time.

  10. Mike, yay, I never scored an appertainment before! I raise a glass (of water) to you. (Well, it is 3:30 in the morning here.)

  11. Chip Hitchcock says @11: that’s an interesting story. The first thing that popped into my head from the excerpt was “The presidents of the New York Central and the New York, New Haven, and Hartford railroads will swear on a stack of timetables that there are only two.” — but this one goes in a very different direction. (Trivial annoyance: the author didn’t check what runways Kennedy has — there is no “three”.)

    Given that there’s been plans for a third runway for decades now, I’m not sure the narrator isn’t living in a reality where three exists

  12. 10) Those interested in other Clarke ruminations in VOM about the future can find a letter of his reprinted in the free ebook collecting SF author Bill Temple’s fanwriting – he wrote it in response to an amazing letter from Bill:

    Temple at the Bar

  13. Meredith Moment:

    The KDD at Amazon US looks to be about half SFF, with at least seven of 15 titles, too many for me to list them all today (it’s monsoon season and Uncle Arthur owns much of me at the moment). High points:

    Where Late the Sweet Bird Sang by Kate Wilhelm
    Old Man’s War by John Scalzi
    Kiln People by David Brin
    The Fifth Head of Cerberus by Gene Wolfe

    All are $2.99 and at least three are available at other sites as well as Amazon US.

  14. Cat Eldridge — I think there is confusion here. I don’t know the railway quote, but I believe the point about runways is that they aren’t numbered 1, 2, 3, …, but rather by the directions they run, in tens of degrees, each runway having two numbers depending on in which of the two directions it is being used. Parallel runways have L and R attached to their numbers, left and right from the point of view of an aircraft using the runway. JFK has four runways, arranged as two pairs, as 4L-22R, 4R-22L, 13L-31R and 13R-31L.

  15. P.S. I’m catching up after some days away – so happy belated eleventieth birthday to Robert Heinlein (and apologies if I missed someone else’s note to that effect)..

  16. There’s also World of Null A by A. E. Van Vogt if you’re looking for vintage SF, and A Borrowed Man also by Gene Wolfe for $2.99, and Retrograde by Peter Cawdron for $1.99, which is the B&N deal of the day.

    @Lis: YMMV. I have a CPAP machine, and I generally don’t bother to fill the humidifier reservoir in the summer. I get nosebleeds in the winter when the humidity in the house is already pretty low.

  17. is anyone else following the gripping tale of RedWomabat and the broken sex tub on twitter?

  18. Iphinome: is anyone else following the gripping tale of RedWombat and the broken sex tub on twitter?

    I hadn’t gotten over to her feed yet, thank you for pointing that out! 😀

  19. @Cat Eldridge (continuing @David Shalcross): and if there were a third runway built parallel to either of the other two, one of the existing runways would be renamed ##C (from both directions); if there were two new runways parallel to 4/22{R,L}, the new runways might be 3/21{L,R} (cf LAX), but it is very unlikely there would be a runway 3(/21) unless there was some bizarre reason it had to be at a slight angle to the existing runways. (I doubt the FAA would approve such a configuration as it would have planes crossing paths. Wikipedia says Denver Stapleton had two sets of three parallel runways, one 17/35{R,L} and 18/36, the other 8/26{L,R} and 7/25, but both the odd runways were conspicuously shorter; I doubt this pattern appears at any airport where all the runways are intended for passenger jets — Stapleton probably cheaped out building runways for commuter/private planes.) One weird case: O’Hare 9R/27L is now 10L/28R because the current plan is to have 6 east-west runways.

    The railroad quote is from the top of Jack Finney’s “The Third Level”, in which somebody wanders randomly into a part of Grand Central Station where it’s 1894 (vs the 1952 the story was written in). That’s just the setup, once you’ve read the rest of this short story you don’t need to read any other genre Finney.

  20. That’s just the setup, once you’ve read the rest of this short story you don’t need to read any other genre Finney.


    There’s too much good Finney to stop at just one…

  21. @Bruce A. and Lis: I have used a CPAP or BiPAP for the last 12 years, and I pretty much never bother filling the humidifier. I don’t find it does much for me.

  22. I, on the other hand, find it much more comfortable with the humidifier filled. I bought a travel CPAP (when I had more funds), and it doesn’t have a humidifier chamber, just a sponge-like disposable tube insert that helps retain the moisture in your breath. I find my nose and mouth much drier after using that than my home machine. On the other hand, it’s very light weight and I don’t have to find distilled water on the road, so it’s worth the slight loss of comfort.

  23. @me

    P.S. I’m catching up after some days away – so happy belated eleventieth birthday to Robert Heinlein (and apologies if I missed someone else’s note to that effect)..

    Eleventy-First, of course, not Eleventieth.

  24. @John A Arkansawyer: and Eleleventieth is when you serve turturkeyey (turkey stuffed with turkey)

  25. @Kurt Busiek: but all the Finney genre stories are the same basic plot-theme; about the biggest change is the possibility of sex added in the one he did for Playboy. And don’t get me started on the novels…

    I can’t speak to his mundane work; “Contents of the Dead Man’s Pockets” presents his usual theme from a sufficiently different angle to be interesting, but it’s the only one I’ve read.

  26. @Lis

    Very glad that you’ve made it this far. Hope your new equipment brings you nights of blissful slumber.


  27. Chip:

    but all the Finney genre stories are the same basic plot-theme; about the biggest change is the possibility of sex added in the one he did for Playboy.

    Theme – yes, often, but he’s hardly alone in that. Plot – no, not really. “The Third Level” is not “I’m Scared” is not “Lunch-Hour Magic” is not “Second Chance.” He has a fascination with the past, but plays with it in different ways.

    And the short stories are mostly excellent, I’d say — I’d heartily recommend ABOUT TIME as a nice sampling of them. I haven’t read much of his mundane stuff, but I like his prose enough that I want to get around to it.

    And don’t get me started on the novels…

    They’re not as good as the short stories, yeah. Still, even though they’re weaker, I enjoyed most of what I read.


    Didn’t Finney write Invasion of the Body Snatchers?

    He wrote the novel THE BODY SNATCHERS, on which the movies were based, yeah.

    But his short stories are better.

  28. Kurt: different people, different palates. I find his endless the-past-was-always-much-better line overwhelms his plotting, far worse than (e.g.) Bradbury; maybe it’s just my correspondent to cilantro.

  29. To all who have commented on my BiPAP adventures: Thank you.

    Three nights of sleeping, each better than the last so far. Expecting a call sometime this week from my promised Sleep Coach, to make sure I’m doing things right,and get a few specific questions answered.

    So no reading all night! Yay?

  30. Lis Carey: Three nights of sleeping, each better than the last so far.

    Oh, Lis, I’m so glad to hear this. I know what it’s like to be unable to get sleep at night and constantly spend days feeling run-down, with no end or relief in sight.

    May your good results be permanent ones. 🙂

  31. Glad to hear the BiPAP is working, Lis. I know that it took most of a month with my CPAP to get past “wow this is weird” to “so that’s how it works” to “huh, don’t feel tired all the time.” (The “don’t feel tired all the time didn’t entirely last, because it was mostly by comparison. So now I don’t remember quite how tired I used to feel and I still feel tired.)

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