Pixel Scroll 8/13 Mission: Insufferable

Check your tickets. The winning numbers today are 4 and 770.

(1) Our Fantastic Four correspondent James H. Burns has discovered a website for an imaginary 1963-1964 FF television series with many clever faux production photos.

Cast of the faux Four series.

Cast of the faux Four series.

Elizabeth Montgomery and Russell Johnson were producer William Frye’s first choices to play Sue Storm and Reed Richards.  Although neither Johnson or Montgomery were yet huge stars, Frye had worked with both on separate episodes of Thriller.  He had also enjoyed Johnson’s work in This Island Earth, and Montgomery had initially attracted his attention with her Emmy-nominated performance as doomed nightclub performer Rusty Heller in The Untouchables.

Episode #5 was written by Harlan Ellison, and others were scripted by sf stalwarts Jerome Bixby, Theodore Sturgeon and Charles Beaumont.

Why is it impossible to watch this classic today?

The tapes of the actual episodes and most of the production notes were destroyed in a warehouse fire in southern California in 1974.

Because — “Flame on!”

(2) MiceAge has the scoop on plans to add “Star Wars Land” and “Marvel Land” to Disneyland and Disney California Adventure respectively:

The majority of Star Wars Land in the northernmost park acreage will be inside a massive series of show buildings, meaning the land won’t have to close for fireworks fallout. The rides and shows in the land itself are being developed in a top secret Imagineering lab in Glendale with Imagineers signing extra confidentiality agreements because the plotlines and characters are pulled from the next three episodes in the Star Wars saga and the Lucasfilm folks understandably guard that information with their lives. But what we can tell you is that Star Wars Land will include multiple attractions, anchored by a mega E Ticket using a trackless vehicle that will break the mold when it comes to how theme park visitors interact with a ride environment.


The plans to expand DCA again with a Marvel Land behind Tower of Terror continue to move ahead, and the E Ticket thrill ride that is planned to anchor that expansion is going to be very unique. The ride will feature a newly Imagineered hybrid ride system that might be best described as a combination of Rock N’ Roller Coaster and Universal’s Transformers ride using every trick and gimmick WDI can throw at it, including on-board audio and effects and elaborate sets and animatronics.

(3) The Star Wars franchise is expanding in every direction. Even cosmetics. Nerdist has loads of pictures of the CoverGirl Star Wars: The Force Awakens makeup collection.

The line includes six new lipstick colors, three shades of nail polish, and ten tubes of mascara featuring quotes from the Star Wars films–including the first six films and The Force Awakens. CoverGirl Global Creative Design Director Pat McGrath has come up with six different and dramatic looks using products from the collection, and those are being unveiled at CoverGirl’s Star Wars Tumblr.

There isn’t much at the Tumblr today, maybe later on. Plenty to look at in the Nerdist post, though.

(4) Syfy channel has plans to develop Frederik Pohl’s Hugo-winning Gateway into a series. Battlestar Galactica’s David Eick is involved.

(5) The New York Times reports on a variety of computers with personality – “Siri, Tell Me a Joke. No, a Funny One”

Fred Brown, founder and chief executive of Next IT, which creates virtual chatbots, said his company learned firsthand the importance of creating a computer with a sense of humor when he asked his 13-year-old daughter, Molly, to test Sgt. Star, the Army’s official chatbot, which allows potential recruits to ask questions about the Army, just as you would in a recruiting station. Molly was chatting with Sgt. Star when she looked up and said, “Dad, Sergeant Star is dumb.” When he asked why, she said, “He has to have a favorite color, and it can’t be Army green.” Turns out, more than a quarter of the questions people ask Sgt. Star have nothing to do with the Army after Next IT programmed it with more human answers.

(6) The last few lines of Brad R. Torgersen’s long comment on Sarah A. Hoyt’s blog are sufficient to give you the flavor of the full 7-course meal. (Scroll down. The direct link doesn’t work for me.)

So, the field is essentially returning to its Marxist roots. But the starry-eyedness is mostly gone. Now we’re down to the raw hate of the thing: the vengeance-minded outliers and weirdos, determined to punish wrongdoing and wrongthinking and wrongfeeling. Which means, of course, smoking out all the wrongfans having all the wrongfun with their wrongstuff.

If they could clap us in shackles, put us into the boxcars, and send us to the icy wastes to die, they would do it in a heartbeat.

Because — by golly! — somebody has to make things be safe!

(7) Some writers can’t fathom how File 770 gets credit for being a radical hangout.

(8) Today’s birthday boy: Alfred Hitchcock, born in 1899.

[Thanks to James H. Burns, Petréa Mitchell, Mark, Gregory Benford, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cubist .]

814 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 8/13 Mission: Insufferable

  1. “There is a small Pol Pot in Hoyt that wants to come out. I guess she will attack people who have glasses next.”

    Anti education rhetoric from any one is certainly very disturbing, especially in the light of what dictators in the twentieth century got up to, Pol Pot, Mao etc.

    I wonder if she, the fervent anti-Marxist, realises what side of politics her words align her with?

  2. RedWombat:


    @TNH – (Hi!) I don’t doubt that people do get a bump from Best Novel, but Kameron’s data point keeps getting used to apply across the board, and I think it’s…err…building up some unrealistic expectations for non-Best Novel winners.

    Writers who have unrealistic expectations are a hardy species. The best we can do is put out reliable information for them, and hope they evolve a better grasp of the facts.

    I remember seeing hard figures on the additional sales a Best Novel Hugo can bring. If I quoted them here they’d be even more misleading, because they date from a time when fewer genre books got published, so the bump would have been commensurately greater. I believe that info is still in print. I hope no one is banking on it being true.

    Sales figures are always a moving target.

    I don’t know what a Best Novel normal yields (nor do I actually expect to, ever) but I strongly doubt it’s enough for SFWA to think that Beale’s worth having kicking around the place again. Particularly since SFWA doesn’t get a cut.

    Even if Beale & Co. had the power they say they do (which they don’t), the purpose of SFWA is not to increase the chances of its members winning Hugos.

    The question is moot anyway, because SFWA is not going to reinstate Theo Beale. It would be like hanging out a sign saying “WE ARE AN AGING AND IRRELEVANT ORGANIZATION FULL OF IDIOTS, RACISTS, MISOGYNISTS, AND CLUELESS HAS-BEENS.”

    You saw Kurt Busiek’s response to the idea? That was pretty much canonical. What SFWA would swap for Theo Beale’s reinstatement would be a significant fraction of its current active membership, plus the next few generations of young writers.

    If SFWA announced that Beale was going to be reinstated, I’d expect it to be followed within a week by the announcement of a new professional SF/F organization, listing dozens of major pros who’d already joined.

    The SFWA resignation letters would be spectacular.

    Hell, we could probably convince Sparhawk to just hand people cash easier than we could convince the board to pull Beale back into the fold.

    When I contemplate the list of things that would be easier to accomplish than Theo Beale’s reinstatement, my brain overheats and grinds to a halt.

    @buwaya – The fact you ignored the entire rest of my post to fixate on that one metaphor didn’t go unnoticed…

    Buwaya’s a piñata. I expect this forum will play with him until all the candy has fallen out.

  3. You saw Kurt Busiek’s response to the idea? That was pretty much canonical. What SFWA would swap for Theo Beale’s reinstatement would be a significant fraction of its current active membership, plus the next few generations of young writers.

    While I agree that response was accurate, it was someone else who explained how it would trigger a mass exodus. My response, if I remember correctly, was simply “No.”

    Mind you, I think that was accurate too, and I’m not even a SFWA member.

  4. @SciFiMike: That was also the only argument that Ann Landers (my generation’s prototypical “agony aunt”, long before the Internet) ever had to flatly ban from her column.

  5. And some of us are sitting here fighting migraines or whatever, so alternatives are thin on the ground. 🙂

    You too? I am fighting the migraine of the century, and my left eye has become very sentimental, weeping easily at the least emotion that comes my way, while the right eye glares at it.

    Both my parents have college degrees, and my mom’s family was small nobility. I seem to be the poshest person around! On the other hand, my dad’s family were railway workers – still the aristocracy of the working class, but working class nonetheless.

  6. @TNH: “I believe Beth Meacham was the first person in her family to go to college.”

    Do you know if she’s related to Jon Meacham? Maybe Hoyt’s connecting them that way – which would be interesting for a couple of reasons, not least of which is that he grew up in a very conservative area.

    (I went to high school with him; I’m really just curious. Small world, six degrees, and all that.)

  7. Brian Z: I’ve watched youtube videos of past meetings, and votes are typically counted by show of hands, or standing. Lots of people will be recording this meeting and posting it on youtube, won’t it be simple enough to work out how individuals voted?

    Just when I think Brian the Zealion can’t sink any lower, he posts a veiled threat to those of us who are going to the WSFS Business Meeting that the Puppies will be watching and working to identify those of us who vote in a manner of which they do not approve — with the subsequent actions the Puppies will take against us left unspecified, of course.

    The difference between pond scum and the sort of person who would make this kind of veiled threat is that algae actually has some redeeming value.

  8. NelC: Laura Resnick — Oh, it’s a shame you just missed [the BBC] adaptation of Lem’s Solaris

    No, it’s not. Their adaptation was based on the ill-advised Kilmartin/Cox translation of the poor French translation, and the script portrays the protagonist’s wife as a hysterical, shrieking, irrational shrew — made even worse by the fact that the character was played by a woman with an extremely annoying voice.

    Trust me. Skip the BBC radio adaptation and get the new direct Polish-to-English written translation by Bill Johnston.

  9. As you know, JJ, you can’t have democratic governance without transparency. It is true that about 60% of the WSFS members are currently denied a vote, and they can participate in the business meeting only in very limited ways – though in the future new amendments will be ratified by the full membership if that change is ratified this weekend. But despite Kurt Busiek’s mean-spirited snark, that does not mean that the supporting members are second class citizens. One important reason the meetings are recorded is because the supporting members – all of them, equally – have the exact same right to know what transpires in that room as Kurt Busiek.

    However, JJ, a way to vote privately does exist, and if people feel that it is appropriate, there is no reason not to do it. Ballots are used “when the question is of such a nature that some members might hesitate to vote publicly their true sentiments… Where the by-laws do not require the vote to be by ballot, it can be so ordered by a majority vote, or by general consent. Such motions are undebatable.” (http://www.rulesonline.com/rror-08.htm)

    As for pond scum, I must admit that sometimes, reading some of the nastier File 770 threads, I almost feel like I am watching helplessly as a toxic algae bloom spreads across the sea of fandom.

  10. Brian Z: you can’t have democratic governance without transparency

    Your post wasn’t about “transparent governance”. It was a thinly-veiled threat that Puppies will be using the Business Meeting videos to identify participants and their votes. This is reprehensible behavior on your part.

  11. I’m baffled. In what way is BriZ accusing the governance of WSFS of not being transparent? I thought he was arguing disenfranchisement only moments ago. Or is he arguing that the possibility of secret ballot is somehow not transparent?

    Lords, why am I asking these questions? Go to bed, Lydy, go to bed!

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