Pixel Scroll 6/9/24 Filefjonk, Scrollmaiden, And Other Moominpixels

(1) INSTRUMENTS INSPIRED BY SFF. Guitar.com invites you to “Check out these sci-fi-inspired guitars, made with old model kits and even unused Covid tests”.

…Custom guitar brand Devil & Sons has launched a new series of sci-fi inspired guitars called Craftcasters, and their bodies are hand-constructed via the ‘kit bashing method’, where parts of old model kits, everyday items, hand cut plastic, sculpted epoxy, and yes (in this case), unused Covid tests, are pieced together to create unique artwork.

The uber-cool, spacecraft-like models were created across three years by artist and luthier Daniel Wallis, and according to him, they’ve been made using the same techniques model makers have been using for screen props since the original Star Wars and Alien films. Upon close inspection, you’ll be able to spot bits of train sets, remote controls, Warhammer models, and even old vacuum cleaner parts on their surfaces….

(2) DEFIANT PREQUEL. Abigail Nussbaum’s new blog post shares thoughts on Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga, “a film that is missing its final act, that has a great gaping hole at its center, and which is nevertheless an exhilarating and entirely satisfying action extravaganza, and worthy companion to Fury Road.” ”Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga” at Asking the Wrong Questions.

…And now of course it must be acknowledged that Furiosa does work. I won’t get into the question of whether it’s as good as Fury Road; it obviously can’t deliver the same sharp blow to the head as that movie did, and once you allow for that, the two movies are too different for a side-by-side comparison to make much sense. But it does make you feel the same exhilaration, the same joyful disbelief at the fact that someone can do this with the cinematic medium, the same pulse-pounding desire for this ride to just keep going and going, and the same profound connection to and investment in its characters. Which obviously raises the question: how?…

(3) STOKERCON GOH SUBTRACTION. One of StokerCon 2025’s announced guests of honor, Graham Masterson, has backed out due to a scheduling conflict the committee told Facebook readers today. “Whether it can be worked out or not remains to be determined,” they said.

(4) THE END IS NEAR. Ted Gioia says sci-fi will soon follow the western in “The 6 Laws of Dying Hollywood Franchises” at The Honest Broker.

…The same reliance on aging cowboys was evident at movie theaters. John Wayne was still the top western movie star until his death at age 72.

You can laugh at that, but Hollywood has pushed to even more ridiculous extremes with Harrison Ford. The studios cast him in three action franchises (Indiana JonesStar Wars, and Blade Runner) at an even older age than Wayne in his final film. (In a curious twist, this was Wayne’s little known role in Star Wars.)

This is not the sign of a healthy genre. Hollywood is now suffering at the box office, but you could have predicted it years ago, just based on its aging stars and franchises….

… How will this play out in the future? Well, let’s summarize what we learned from the rise and fall of the western genre.

  1. Genres die slowly, especially popular genres with large mass audiences. In those instances, the decline can continue for decades after a genre’s commercial peak.
  2. The final stages of decline are marked by total market saturation—reaching ridiculous levels. Far more product is churned out than even the core audience can absorb.
  3. The proliferation of merchandise aims to expand the franchise, but actually accelerates the pace of decline.
  4. During the period of decline, the average age of the core fan base gets older. Youngsters may continue to have some interest in the genre, but without the enthusiasm of the old days.
  5. Even more ominous, the box office stars start showing their age—and are far too old to lead any movement. They are hired out of desperation, because holding on to old fans is now more important than attracting new ones.
  6. As a result, everything about the genre starts to feel stale. The stories were fresher twenty years ago. The lead stars were definitely fresher twenty years ago. The only thing that isn’t stale is the movie popcorn out in the lobby—and even that’s not a sure thing.

This is obviously happening with almost every major Hollywood franchise today. We’re now almost fifty years beyond the release of Star Wars (1977)—that was long ago and in another galaxy. But even never-ending franchises eventually come to an end….

(5) VERY COOL BEANS. [Item by Danny Sichel.] Yes, it’s a few years old, but James D. McDonald posted an interesting little short story on his blog Madhouse Manor, and I felt it deserved more attention.

It’s called “The Coldest Equations Yet”, from 2017, and it’s a remix that might have made Tom Godwin smile and John W. Campbell grumble.

(6) THE REALLY BIG ONE. [Item by Jeffrey Smith.] I buy various volumes of The Best American series of short stories and essays every year, often starting them but rarely finishing them. I’ve decided to start cleaning some of them up, and am almost finished with The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2016. In her introduction, the editor said she felt the most important piece in the book was “The Really Big One” by Kathryn Schulz. (See The New Yorker version from 2015, “The Earthquake That Will Devastate the Pacific Northwest”.)

Over the last few years I’ve come to really appreciate Kathryn Schulz’s writing, reading her pieces in The New Yorker and often reprinted in these volumes. (The next of these I will finish, The Best American Travel Writing 2017, also has a piece by her.)

The article is about the potential for a massive earthquake to hit the Pacific Northwest, the fault there being more dangerous than the San Andreas. The editor lives at the southern tip of the fault, and says a) that she knows people who sold their houses and moved away after reading it, and b) the state governments are looking into developing early warning systems and strengthening infrastructure because of it.

“I simply cannot overstate the power of this piece,” the editor wrote. “When you read it, imagine you live where I live. Your life would change because of this story, just like mine did. That’s the power of great writing.”

It’s a long piece, and starts out with a lot of background information. The second half, though, is terrifying.

It was interesting to read this now in part because we recently watched a set of three Norwegian disaster movies: The Wave; The Quake; and The Burning Sea. (You have to hunt them down — they’re each on a different streaming service.) Judging by the article, the filmmakers did reasonably well with the science.

Here’s the beginning of Schulz article in The New Yorker:

When the 2011 earthquake and tsunami struck Tohoku, Japan, Chris Goldfinger was two hundred miles away, in the city of Kashiwa, at an international meeting on seismology. As the shaking started, everyone in the room began to laugh. Earthquakes are common in Japan—that one was the third of the week—and the participants were, after all, at a seismology conference. Then everyone in the room checked the time.

Seismologists know that how long an earthquake lasts is a decent proxy for its magnitude. The 1989 earthquake in Loma Prieta, California, which killed sixty-three people and caused six billion dollars’ worth of damage, lasted about fifteen seconds and had a magnitude of 6.9. A thirty-second earthquake generally has a magnitude in the mid-sevens. A minute-long quake is in the high sevens, a two-minute quake has entered the eights, and a three-minute quake is in the high eights. By four minutes, an earthquake has hit magnitude 9.0.

When Goldfinger looked at his watch, it was quarter to three. The conference was wrapping up for the day. He was thinking about sushi. The speaker at the lectern was wondering if he should carry on with his talk. The earthquake was not particularly strong. Then it ticked past the sixty-second mark, making it longer than the others that week. The shaking intensified. The seats in the conference room were small plastic desks with wheels. Goldfinger, who is tall and solidly built, thought, No way am I crouching under one of those for cover. At a minute and a half, everyone in the room got up and went outside.

It was March. There was a chill in the air, and snow flurries, but no snow on the ground. Nor, from the feel of it, was there ground on the ground. The earth snapped and popped and rippled. It was, Goldfinger thought, like driving through rocky terrain in a vehicle with no shocks, if both the vehicle and the terrain were also on a raft in high seas. The quake passed the two-minute mark. The trees, still hung with the previous autumn’s dead leaves, were making a strange rattling sound. The flagpole atop the building he and his colleagues had just vacated was whipping through an arc of forty degrees. The building itself was base-isolated, a seismic-safety technology in which the body of a structure rests on movable bearings rather than directly on its foundation. Goldfinger lurched over to take a look. The base was lurching, too, back and forth a foot at a time, digging a trench in the yard. He thought better of it, and lurched away. His watch swept past the three-minute mark and kept going.

Oh, shit, Goldfinger thought, although not in dread, at first: in amazement. For decades, seismologists had believed that Japan could not experience an earthquake stronger than magnitude 8.4. In 2005, however, at a conference in Hokudan, a Japanese geologist named Yasutaka Ikeda had argued that the nation should expect a magnitude 9.0 in the near future—with catastrophic consequences, because Japan’s famous earthquake-and-tsunami preparedness, including the height of its sea walls, was based on incorrect science. The presentation was met with polite applause and thereafter largely ignored. Now, Goldfinger realized as the shaking hit the four-minute mark, the planet was proving the Japanese Cassandra right.

For a moment, that was pretty cool: a real-time revolution in earthquake science. Almost immediately, though, it became extremely uncool, because Goldfinger and every other seismologist standing outside in Kashiwa knew what was coming. One of them pulled out a cell phone and started streaming videos from the Japanese broadcasting station NHK, shot by helicopters that had flown out to sea soon after the shaking started. Thirty minutes after Goldfinger first stepped outside, he watched the tsunami roll in, in real time, on a two-inch screen.

In the end, the magnitude-9.0 Tohoku earthquake and subsequent tsunami killed more than eighteen thousand people, devastated northeast Japan, triggered the meltdown at the Fukushima power plant, and cost an estimated two hundred and twenty billion dollars….

(7) DON’T DO THIS, DO THAT. Editor Demi Michelle Schwartz decided this was a good day to share the writing problems she runs into most often. Thread starts here. Excerpted below are the first two out of five. The second one became a subject of dispute.


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

Born, sort of, June 9, 1934 Donald Duck, 90. Before I get to the history of Donald Duck, let me tell you why I chose this date. 

The first ever reference to the character by name was in The Adventures of Mickey Mouse, published by David McKay Company, Philadelphia in 1931 — although the actual character wasn’t shown. On the first text page, it says, “Mickey has many friends in the old barn and the barnyard, besides Minnie Mouse. They are Henry Horse and Carolyn Cow and Patricia Pig and Donald Duck…” Not characteristic at all of what is to come, just animals in a barnyard. 

The following year, a duck with the same name made another printed appearance in Mickey Mouse Annual #3, a 128-page British hardback. This book included the poem “Mickey’s ‘Hoozoo’: Witswitch, and Wotswot”, which listed some of Mickey’s barnyard animal friends: “Donald Duck and Clara Hen, Robert Rooster, Jenny Wren…” Again, nothing to do with the Disney character.

So when do we get that character? That was really when he was made the star of the Silly Symphony strips in 1937 and his nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie, who debuted who debuted later that year. The team who did the strip made a city sophisticate instead of, as they called him, a country bumpkin. (Never saw him as the latter.) 

“The Wise Little Hen”, officially released on June 9, 1934 was his first animated appearance. It was directed by Wilfred Jackson and of course produced by Walt Disney from a script by Otto Englander.  It is based on the fairy tale The Little Red Hen. I have not looked for videos of it on YouTube or Vimeo as the film’s copyright was renewed in 1961, so it will not enter the public domain until January 1, 2030. 

What does he look like there? Pretty much like he does today as you can see for yourself. He really hasn’t changed that much since introduced physically, just his character become more of the smart ass that I think he is. 

He would star in his own series that started in 1937 and ran for 24 years with “Donald’s Ostrich”, although two previous shorts, “Don Donald” and “Modern Inventions”, both from 1937, were later  included in this series, with “The Litterbug” being the conclusion to this series. 

Though he appeared in “The Wise Little Hen” short, the Walt Disney company officially lists the Don Donald short which was released in 1937 as his official release. No idea why. It off is still under copyright  as are allthe myriad shorts he did until Disney stopped producing his shorts in 1961. 

The one I now want to see is the second one which was released on May 29, 1937  titled “Museum of Modern Marvels” as it’s full of SF wonders including Robot Butler. 

I think I’ve prattled on long enough tonight. I do like the character a lot. I’m not a Disney fan first, being a Warner Brothers fan deep in the bone but I appreciate them. 

Editor’s Note: And courtesy of John Scalzi at Whatever we learned a new Donald Duck short dropped today: “D.I.Y. Duck”.


(10) THAT OTHER DUCK. “Darkwing Duck Returns: Dynamite Entertainment to Reprint Every Comic Book Story” reports IGN.

Dynamite Entertainment has become the source for Disney fans who yearn for the return of some of their ’90s favorites. Gargoyles has found new life at the publisher, and now Darkwing Duck is making his comeback.

Today Dynamite announced that they’ll be launching a new Darkwing Duck comic book series with the involvement of original animated series creator/writer Tad Stones. But before that book gets off the ground, Dynamite will be rereleasing every previous Darkwing Duck comic in a trio of graphic novel compendiums…

…Dynamite is turning to Kickstarter to crowdfund the Darkwing Duck reprints. The first volume will collect the entirety of writer Amanda Deibert and artist Carlo Cid Lauro’s 2023 series. The second volume will collect Lauro and writer Roger Langridge’s miniseries Justice Ducks and writer Jeff Parker and artist Ciro Cangialosi’s miniseries Negaduck. The third volume will collect all of the pre-Dynamite Darkwing Duck comics, including stories originally published in Disney Adventures magazine.

The Darkwing Duck Kickstarter campaign is live now….

(11) FAKE NEWS. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Well this is firmly genre adjacent as fake news is fiction and it is spread by technology.

No, not Big Brother, but by the people themselves.  Orwell could not have made it up. Anyway, this is the cover story of this week’s Nature.

Online misinformation is frequently highlighted as a blight that threatens to undermine the fabric of society, polarize opinions and even destabilize elections. In this week’s issue, a collection of articles probe the scourge of misinformation and try to assess the real risks. In one research paper, David Lazer and colleagues examine the effects of Twitter deplatforming 70,000 traffickers of misinformation in the wake of violent scenes at the US Capitol in January 2021. In a second paper, Wajeeha Ahmad and co-workers explore the relationship between advertising revenue and misinformation. A Comment article by Ullrich Ecker and colleagues discusses the risks posed by misinformation to democracy and elections, and an accompanying Comment article by Kiran Garimella and Simon Chauchard assesses the prevalence of AI-generated misinformation in India. Finally, David Rothschild and colleagues put the harms of misinformation into perspective, highlighting common misperceptions that exaggerate its threat and suggesting steps to improve evaluation of both the effects of misinformation and the efforts made to combat it.

(12) FUTURAMA PREVIEW. Comicbook.com is there when “Futurama Season 12 First Look Released”.

Futurama Season 12 will be launching with Hulu on July 29th, and has finally given fans the first look at what to expect from the next wave of episodes. Confirmed to have many more seasons now in the works, the first look at Season 12 showcases a tease of where the next season will go to further differentiate itself from what went down during Season 11…. 

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] How the generations have changed. Is it true that the new generation of fans have never heard of The Prisoner? Moid Moidelhoff at Media Death Cult has a feeling that many have not as he takes a 24-minute dive into this remarkable show (one of my personal favorites). This is shot on location in Portmeirion where the series was set…. “The Most Influential Show You’ve (Probably) Never Seen”.

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