Pixel Scroll 9/17/23 You Don’t Need A Pixelman To Know Which Way The File Scrolls

(1) YOU’RE FROM THE SIXTIES! The Daily Beast’s article “Gay Talese on Resisting His Frank Sinatra Assignment, and What Really Matters in a Marriage” goes into the Sinatra-Ellison confrontation at length. (Which, if you’ve never read the piece, is here,)

Harlan Ellison Photo by Barbara Alper/Getty images
Harlan Ellison Photo by Barbara Alper/Getty images

“… Gay Talese, at 91 years old, perhaps the world’s oldest living bestselling author with 17 books to his credit, and a new one just out— Bartleby and Me: Reflections of an Old Scrivener (Mariner Books)—knew exactly what I was talking about….”

This is the last half of the article’s passage about Ellison and Sinatra:

…“Truman Capote thought he had total recall,” Talese chuckled again, “But I don’t have total recall, but I recall pretty well, and then I go over it later with the person I’m interviewing. I called Harlan Ellison the next day, confirmed that I heard what I heard as to the confrontation, and Harlan added a few things.”

As the late Harlan Ellison later verified on a YouTube video, “I told him what happened and Talese says, ‘Yeah, that’s what happened,’ I said, ‘But how do you know I’m telling the truth?’ And he said, ‘Because I was there.’ Whaaaat?

Cut-up shirt carboards is why Gay Talese can write such extraordinary paragraphs, like this one that concludes “Frank Sinatra Has A Cold”:

“It was the morning after. It was the beginning of another nervous day for Sinatra’s press agent, Jim Mahoney. Mahoney had a headache, and he was worried but not over the Sinatra-Ellison incident of the night before. At the time Mahoney had been with his wife at a table in the other room, and possibly he had not even been aware of the little drama. The whole thing had lasted only about three minutes. And three minutes after it was over, Frank Sinatra had probably forgotten about it for the rest of his life—as Ellison will probably remember it for the rest of his life: he had had, as hundreds of others before him, at an unexpected moment between darkness and dawn, a scene with Sinatra.”…

(2) ON THE ROCKS. The OSIRIS-Rex mission will soon deliver its payload. “NASA’s asteroid sample mission calls on Vatican for help” at Mashable. It won’t come as a surprise to most readers here that the Vatican staffs an observatory. Many of you have met one of the astronomers at a Worldcon (but he’s not the subject of this article).

…If it works, a capsule containing bits of Bennu will fall from the heavens to Utah on Sept. 24.

In the meantime, you could say NASA has called upon the Vatican for a Hail Mary.

Brother Robert J. Macke, curator of the Vatican’s meteorite collection, has designed a custom device that will fit inside the glovebox where scientists will handle the sample. Within days of OSIRIS-Rex’s arrival, the Jesuit will leave Castel Gandolfo, where the pope sometimes summers, and head for Johnson Space Center in Houston. There he will don a protective coverall over his Roman collar and help scientists use his pycnometer, an instrument for measuring the density of tiny grains of gravel. Through these measurements, NASA hopes to get to the bottom of Bennu’s mysterious boulders….

(3) SHE HAD A WAY WITH EDITORS. “’A true original’: Katherine Rundell on the genius of Diana Wynne Jones” in the Guardian.

In 1977, the novelist Diana Wynne Jones finished a children’s fantasy novel and posted off the manuscript of the final draft to her publishers. There, an editor asked her to make further changes to the book – which she had no intention of doing. But rather than say so, Jones took her carbon copy of the draft and chopped some of the pages up into sections, pasting them back together – exactly the same words in the same order – to look as though the book had been heavily revised. She sent it back to her publishers; the book was now perfect, they declared. That was the thing: it had been all along. The book was Charmed Life, one of the wittiest, sharpest children’s fantasies ever written. There are some writers whose voices are so vividly their own that you can detect the distinctive ring of it 10 miles off in a headwind: Jones is one of them.

Jones, who died in 2011, was a true original. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of Wilkins’ Tooth, her first children’s book: it would be a good year to begin reading her….

(4) IT’S NOT HEINZ 57. It’s Star Trek at 57. The Saturday Cinema podcast plays many examples of Trek theme music in its episode titled “To boldly go where no music has gone before”.

On the latest episode of Saturday Cinema, Lynne Warfel celebrates the much more than five-year mission of Star Trek on its 57th anniversary with a survey of the fine music composed for the original TV series and later incarnations.

(5) HAPPY BLOBBIVERSARY. “65 Years Ago, a Quirky Sci-Fi Classic Created The Perfect Movie Monster” – let Inverse tell you all about it.

…In The Blob, teenagers battle an alien blob that’s consuming a small town. Infamously, Steve is played by Steve McQueen in his first major movie, billed here as Steven McQueen, although if you’re looking to start your McQueen cinematic education, you should probably go straight to 1968’s perfect action flick, Bullitt. The pacing of The Blob isn’t just bad for its time; other monster movies from the 1950s were far more thrilling. Even the blob chasing teenagers through a grocery store near the end feels less exciting than it should be. The Blob is a monster movie that often seems to forget it’s a monster movie, which is a large part of why the film has such a mixed reputation.

However, the idea of The Blob is fantastic. The blob is a perfect sci-fi monster. It doesn’t have a goal, it doesn’t look like a monster-ish take on any kind of animal. It can — and will — eat anything. When the movie begins, Steve and Jane observe a meteorite crashing, which is how the blob gets to our planet. What kind of horrifying sci-fi critter could survive on a freaking meteor?…


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 17, 1908 John Creasey. English crime and SF writer who wrote well over than six hundred novels using twenty-eight different names. His SF writings were mostly in the Dr. Palfrey series, a British secret service agent named Dr. Stanislaus Alexander Palfrey, who forms Z5. There’s a lot of his novels available from the usual suspects. And I do many really a lot, so I’m going to ask all of you where to start reading his SF novels as I am curious as to how they are. (Died 1973.)
  • Born September 17, 1915 Art Widner. Fanzine editor. He was a founding member of The Stranger Club which created Boston fandom. He chaired Boskone I and Boskone II which were held in 1941 and 1942, they being the very first two Boston cons. Fancyclopedia 3 has a very detailed look at him here. (Died 2017.)
  • Born September 17, 1928 Roddy McDowall. He is best known for portraying Cornelius and Caesar in the original Planet of the Apes film franchise, as well as Galen in the television series. He’s Sam Conrad in The Twilight Zone episode “People Are Alike All Over” and he superbly voices Jervis Tetch / The Mad Hatter in Batman: The Animated Series. (Died 1998.)
  • Born September 17, 1939 Sandra Lee Gimpel, 84. In Trek’s “The Cage”, she played a Talosian. That led her to being cast as the M-113 creature in “The Man Trap”, another first season episode. She actually had a much larger work history as student double, though uncredited, showing up in sixty eight episodes of Lost in Space and fifty seven of The Bionic Woman plus myriad such genre work elsewhere including They Come from Outer Space where she was the stunt coordinator
  • Born September 17, 1950 Roger Stern, 73. Comics writer who’s most noted work who was on AvengersCaptain AmericaDoctor Strange, and Starman. I’m very, very impressed of his work on the first twenty-eight issues of Starman, which were published from 1988 to 1990. 
  • Born September 17, 1951 Cassandra Peterson, 72. Definitely best remembered as Elvira, Mistress of The Darkness, a character she played on TV and in movies before becoming the host of Elvira’s Movie Macabre, a weekly horror movie presentation in LA in 1981. She’s a showgirl in Diamonds Are Forever which was her debut film, and is Sorais in Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold. 
  • Born September 17, 1979 Neill Blomkamp, 44. South African born Canadian filmmaker of District 9 which was nominated for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form at Aussiecon 4. EofSF says also, “Of particular note were Tetra Vaal (2004), a RoboCop-inspired advertisement for a fictional range of third-world law-enforcement drones; Alive in Joburg (2005), about an influx of Alien immigrants from a Spaceship stalled over Johannesburg; and Tempbot (2006), about a Robot office worker attempting to parse cubicle culture.” Other genre films include Elysium and Chappie.


(8) TIMES OUT OF JOINT. Australia’s ABC News remembers: “The New York Times mocked this scientist in 1920. His discoveries could now take us to Mars”.

…The New York Times got hold of his paper and decided he was an idiot because rockets don’t work in space. They dubbed him the “moon man”.

“That professor Goddard, with his ‘chair’ in Clark College and the countenancing of the Smithsonian Institution [from which Goddard held a grant to research rocket flight], does not know the relation of action to reaction, and of the need to have something better than a vacuum against which to react — to say that would be absurd. Of course he only seems to lack the knowledge ladled out daily in high schools.”

Goddard responded to a reporter’s question.

“Every vision is a joke until the first man accomplishes it; once realised, it becomes commonplace.”

Goddard became very famous, but not in a particularly good way. He was sent insulting letters for years, and started to operate in secrecy….

… Forty-nine years after the New York Times’s editorial, they issued an apology to Goddard — rockets clearly worked in space.

How did they know this? Because one was on its way to the Moon, with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on board.

Aldrin’s father, Edwin Aldrin Sr, studied rocketry under Goddard as an undergraduate.…

(9) SAIL ON. Universe Today theorizes how “Tiny Swarming Spacecraft Could Establish Communications with Proxima Centauri”.

…For many years, the i4is has been working through Project Lyra to find optimal ways to explore nearby star systems using fleets (1000 or more) of gram-scale spacecraft. Like Starshot, these efforts began with Project Dragonfly (a feasibility study hosted by i4is in 2015) for small, lightweight, distributed spacecraft propelled primarily by laser sails. Per the study’s specifications, these spacecraft would need to be realizable using technology and space infrastructure available in the coming decades and capable of reaching nearby stars within a century.

Among astrophysicists, gram-scale craft and laser sails are considered the only viable means for mounting interstellar exploration in the foreseeable future. But whereas some mission architectures envision sending a single mission with a large lightsail, Project Lyra envisions using a power laser array to send swarms of spacecraft that could explore distant star systems and exoplanets collectively…. 

(10) MEDIA DEATH CULT. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.]  For those that have been following Moid Moidelhoff’s Media Death Cult on YouTube, he hasn’t moved home yet…  However, given the frequency of his posts is down, things may well be afoot… Also Media Death Cult regulars will also know that over the past few years he and his regulars have been working through Phil Dick’s major SF novels. His latest post looks at a few of these… The Zap Gun, Three Early Novels: The Man Who Japed – Dr Futurity – Vulcan’s Hammer. “Philip K. Dick – The Perfect Amount Of Weirdness”.

(11) VIDEO OF THE DAY. From GeekTyrant: “Darren Aronofsky Shares First Look at His Immersive ‘Sci-Fi Experience’ Film That Will Screen on the Largest Screen in the World”.

…The movie is titled Postcard From Earth and it’s a “part sci-fi story, part nature documentary” and it was specially commissioned to screen at the MSG Sphere, which opened in April 2023. This project is an “Immersive and innovative exploration of planet Earth through eyes of two human beings.”…

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Kathy Sullivan, Lise Andreasen, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jeff Smith.]

18 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 9/17/23 You Don’t Need A Pixelman To Know Which Way The File Scrolls

  1. First up!

    at 8 eastern (in 9 minutes) a group of people on Mastodon will be watching THE BLOB simultaneously and commenting on it with the hashtag #monsterdon.

  2. (1) I absolutely believe that’s Harlan. Of course, way back, I also heard the story, which may be true, of Harlan in one of those real-life scenes, the long board room table, all the VPs, and Harlan at one end, and the head honcho at the other. “We really like your script, and once we have our people fix it up…” Harlan stood, stepped onto the chair, then onto the table, walked down the table, picked the honcho up by the lapels, and said, in no uncertain terms, “NO ONE SCREWS WITH MY SCRIPT!”
    (2) Well, the Director of the Vatican Observatories, as of 2015, is both a fan, and an astronomer, whose specialty is meteors.
    (5) I remember seeing a weirder one as a teen, on the Creature Double Feature. The aliens are these little guys with long nails. They kill a bull, and a farmer, I think, using the nails to inject 100% alcohol. SPOILER: at the end, they’re coming after the kids on lovers’ lane, and our hero, the photographer, gets them to surround the aliens with their cars and put on their high beams, which disintegrates the little green men. No, I’m not making this up….
    Birthdays: Cassandra Peterson. She can’t be that old (wait a minute, neither can I….)
    (8) And when Oberth, one of the other Three Fathers of Rocketry, published “The Rocket Into Interplanetary Space”, Arthur C. Clarke reported in a book written in the fiftes, that the Times wrote “Who knows, perhaps before the human race is extinct, even Herr Oberth’s fanciful ideas may come to fruition.” Clarke went on to write “It appears Herr Oberth’s fanciful ideas may come to fruition before Herr Oberth is extinct”.

  3. (8) A classic.

    Another great NYT lede:

    “LIGHTS ALL ASKEW IN THE HEAVENS; Men of Science More or Less Agog Over Results of Eclipse Observations. EINSTEIN THEORY TRIUMPHS Stars Not Where They Seemed or Were Calculated to be, but Nobody Need Worry.” (11/10/1919)

  4. mark: I just get tired, you know. I ran this item because we know about Brother Guy, but the astronomer in the article isn’t Brother Guy, which I felt I had to allude in order to spare people the need to insert that nitpick. And yet here it is anyway.

  5. To Mark, re: 5) I too remember that film, and have no idea of the title, etc.

  6. (4) It was only a few months ago that I learned we know the name of the soprano who sang the wordless vocals on the original Star Trek theme — Loulie Jean Norman!


    (6a) I think I have Roger Stern’s “Doctor Strange” stories in my electronic TBR (and perhaps in a trade paperback as well). Or I might have already read them. (I inhaled a lot of Doctor Strange just before the movie came out…)

    (6b) Happy birthday to Elvira… I mean Cassandra Peterson!

  7. @mark: (5) That would be Invasion of the Saucer Men from 1957 which, among its mostly no-name cast, included Frank Gorshin, who would go on to appear as The Riddler in Batman and guest star in one of Star Trek: TOS‘s least subtle episodes.

    And by “least subtle” I mean “hits you over the head with a frying pan. Repeatedly.”

  8. Still reading Hugo finalists.

    Currently reading the one whose title, “Even Though I Knew the End,” very nearly made me say, “Nope.” But it’s getting a chance, because titles are unreliable.


  9. Mike – I know you know, but the point was that his specialty is meteors, so they knew he’d have someone good for them.

  10. Invasion of the Saucer Men: yeah, I watched that once, while trying to find a different saucer movie I saw part of once and still can’t identify. That movie was a bit dream-like in that the hero had some sort of ray gun and kept shooting the saucer people with it, and it did absolutely nothing; he had to run up to one of them and press the gun to its helmet before anything happened.

    I saw The Blob once at a Bubonicon when it was considerably newer. All I remember now is the bowling alley scene.

  11. 1
    I am bemused that Sinatra might forget this confrontation. That tells you something, though, about the man, that millions of words can not: imagine the psychology that could forget a tete-a-tete with HE, the biggest personality I know of.

    8, mark, Andrew (not werdna)
    Love the gusto and commitment on the physics skepticism. DKing it big time. I’m sure my own refusal to accept big bang theory and cosmic inflation has provided others with a few chuckles over the decades. But my words have not been immortalized in the grey lady.

    Vulcans Hammer is my pick for PKDs best sf novel. Loved it.


  12. Happy Birthday to Art Widner.

    At the end of Aussiecon 4, on my way back to my room, I looked in to the hotel bar. Art was there. I thought I should check on him. As I came around a corner, I could see that he was talking animatedly, with Aussiecon 4 Guest of Honor, Kim Stanley Robinson, in rapt attention. Wow! Things obviously were going well, so I headed up to the room. The next day, everyone was moving out, and I ran into Art. He said that Stan and Greg Benford took him out to dinner, and they had a great time. Art was then 92, a week before his 93d birthday.

  13. (6) Roddy McDowall was inserted into the short-lived sf series The Fantastic Journey (1977) as Dr Willoway, an obvious nod to Lost in Space’s Dr Smith.

    I had the pleasure of sharing a room with Art Widner in 2010, at Corflu Cobalt. Excellent company.

  14. 1) That sounds exactly like Sinatra. And Ellison.

    5) The remake from ’88 with Kevin Dillion and Shawnee Smith is actually a better movie, for all that McQueen is a better actor.

    6) Even though they are objectively terrible movies with only the loosest association with their sources, I retain a soft spot in my heart (or possibly my brain) for the Cannon Films version of King Solomon’s Mines and Allan Quatermain because it was through those movies that I discovered Haggard.

    8) Journalism, like war, never changes. Unfortunately.

  15. WRT #6 Neill Blomkamp.
    I remember “District Nine” quite well and always wondered about the huge, planet-sized unanswered questions at the movie’s heart.

    Who built that ship?
    Enslaved those aliens?
    Were they ever going to show up looking for their lost property?

    And then what?

  16. 6) Hopefully it won’t give offense to note that there were quite a few times in my educational career that I could have made great use of a student double.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.