The title may be longer than today’s Scroll!
(1) MERRILL’S TRICK. The Paris Review reaches deep in its bag for this 1982 interview with James Merrill: “The Art of Poetry No. 31”.
The Ouija board, now. I gather you use a homemade one, but that doesn’t exactly help me to imagine it or its workings. An overturned teacup is your pointer?
Yes. The commercial boards come with a funny see-through planchette on legs. I find them too cramped. Besides, it’s so easy to make your own—just write out the alphabet, and the numbers, and your yes and no (punctuation marks too, if you’re going all out) on a big sheet of cardboard. Or use brown paper—it travels better. On our Grand Tour, whenever we felt lonely in the hotel room, David and I could just unfold our instant company. He puts his right hand lightly on the cup, I put my left, leaving the right free to transcribe, and away we go. We get, oh, five hundred to six hundred words an hour. Better than gasoline.
(2) VANDERMEER’S TREAT. Jeff VanderMeer celebrates the holiday with “A Short List Of Mistakes Starting With ‘Owl’: A Halloween Story”.
He had a lesson plan for the semester, but I had given him a novel featuring owls that I thought particularly fine and that, as his superior, I had made a strong case for to the exclusion of all else….
(3) VERSE FOR TODAY. A Halloween Poetry link courtesy of the Paris Review: “History”.
(4) KEEP UP WITH YOUR HUGO READING. The Hugos There podcast discusses the 2021 Best Novelette finalists with Cora Buhlert, Sarah Elkins, Olav Rokne of the Hugo Book Club Blog, Juan Sanmiguel and Ivor Watkins. The audio is here. The video is here –
(5) JUST BECAUSE IT’S JUNE. Tawana Watson considers “The Poetic Power of Nostalgia” at SPECPO, the official blog of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association.
…A poet I have found that inspired nostalgia and the subsequent emotional reaction within myself is David C. Kopaska-Merkel with his poem “June Lockhart’s Recurring Nightmare” appearing in Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine. The first thing that grabbed my attention was the name within the poem, June Lockhart. June Lockhart is an actress that appeared in many television shows that I watched while growing up. Seeing just the name, June Lockhart, brought me back to Saturday morning, sitting on the floor in front of the television with my brother, eating Count Chocula cereal watching Lost in Space, one of June Lockhart’s popular television shows. On the title alone, I wanted to dive into the poem to see what the poet, Kopaska-Merkel, was writing about. The second thing that grabbed my attention was the vivid visuals of the scenery within the poem….
(6) ZOOMING WITH BLACKFORD. SPECPO also presents “An Interview with Jenny Blackford”, 2021 Rhysling Award winner, conducted by Lauren Frosto.
LRF: Can you tell me a little about the poem that won the Rhysling for the Long Form Category, “Eleven Exhibits in a Better Natural History Museum, London.”
JB: It came about because of my husband. My other muse, Felix [Jenny’s cat], is not sufficient as a muse, though he is my “mews”. A couple of years back, my husband Russell and I were in London on our way to the World Science Fiction Convention in Dublin, and our activity for the day was visiting the Natural History Museum, London, which is a wonder of the world. Because it was a public holiday, we were standing in the sun in a line that just snaked around and around going nowhere for hours and we started talking about what we were going to see when we finally got inside. My husband said something like, well there might be an emerald the size of a whale, and it went from there. Since he threw up some possibilities and I elaborated, he gets 10% of my sales for this. You’ve got to reward your muse.
(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
2000 – Twenty-one years ago, Gen¹³ premiered. If you’re scratching your head for not remembering this film, relax as it wasn’t one of the major films that year. It was based on the Gen¹³ series that was published by WildStorm Productions, a subsidiary of DC Comics. WildStorm Productions was founded by Jim Lee, currently the Publisher and Chief Creative Officer of DC Comics.
It was directed by Kevin Altieri, and produced by Jim Lee, Karen Kolus and John Nee. The screenplay by Kevin Altieri and Karen Kolus from a story by Jim Lee, Brandon Choi and J. Scott Campbell, the latter better known for his own Danger Girl series. The Gen¹³ series was by the trio who wrote the story.
Voice cast was Alicia Witt, John de Lancie, E.G. Daily, Flea, Cloris Leachman, Lauren Lane and Mark Hamill.
It apparently is not available in the United States because The Mouse considers it an advertisement for DC Comics and won’t release it here. It is available in Europe. That being said, audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a rather excellent eighty four percent rating.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born October 31, 1923 — Arthur W. Saha. A member of the Futurians and First Fandom who was an editor at Wollheim’s DAW Books, including editing the annual World’s Best SF from 1972 to 1990 and Year’s Best Fantasy Stories from 1975 to 1988. And he’s credited with coming up with the term “Trekkie” in 1967. (Died 1999.)
- Born October 31, 1936 — Michael Landon. Tony Rivers inI Was a Teenage Werewolf. (That film made two million on an eighty thousand dollar budget. Nice.) That and lead as Jonathan Smith in Highway to Heaven are, I think, his only genre roles. (Died 1991.)
- Born October 31, 1946 — Stephen Rea, 75. Actor who’s had a long genre history starting with the horror films of Cry of the Banshee, The Company of Wolves (from the Angela Carter short story)and The Doctor and the Devils. He’d later show up Interview with the Vampire, The Musketeer, FeardotCom, V for Vendetta, Underworld: Awakening, Werewolf: The Beast Among Us and Ruby Strangelove Young Witch. He has the role of Alexander Pope in the most excellent Counterpart series.
- Born October 31, 1958 — Ian Briggs, 63. He wrote two Seventh Doctor stories, “Dragonfire” and “The Curse of Fenric”, the former of which of which introduced Ace as the Doctor’s Companion. (The latter is one on my frequent rewatch list.) He novelized both for Target Books. He would write a Seventh Doctor story, “The Celestial Harmony Engine” for the Short Trips: Defining Patterns anthology.
- Born October 31, 1959 — Neal Stephenson, 62. Some years back, Longfellow Books had a genre book group. One of the staff who was a member of that group (as was I) took extreme dislike to The Diamond Age: Or, A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer. I don’t remember now why but it made me re-read that and Snow Crash. My favorite novel by him by far is The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. which he did with Nicole Galland and I’ve got the sequel, The Master of Revels, done with her as well, on the to-be-listened-to list.
- Born October 31, 1961 — Peter Jackson, 60. I’m going to confess that I watched and liked the first of the Lord of The Rings film but got no further than that. I was never fond of The Two Towers as a novel so it wasn’t something I wanted to see as a film, and I like The Hobbit just fine as a novel thank you much. Now the Adventures of Tintin is quite excellent indeed. The Fellowship of The Ring won the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation at ConJosé, The Two Towers likewise at Torcon 3 and, no surprise, The Return of The King did so at Noreascon 4.
- Born October 31, 1979 — Erica Cerra, 42. Best known as Deputy Jo Lupo on Eureka, certainly one of the best SF series ever done. She had a brief recurring role as Maya in Battlestar Galactica, plus the artificial intelligence A.L.I.E. and her creator Becca in The 100. Her most recent genre role was a recurring one as Duma on Supernatural. She also showed up in Blade: Trinity as the goth Vixen Wannabe, and in Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief in the plum role of Hera.
- Born October 31, 1993 — Letitia Wright, 28. She co-starred in Black Panther playing Shuri, King T’Challa’s sister and princess of Wakanda. (Yes, she is in both Avengers films.) Before that, she was Anahson in “Face the Raven”, a Twelfth Doctor story, and was in the Black Mirror’s “Black Museum” episode. She has a recurring role as Renie in Humans, a Channel 4 SF series. It is based off Äkta människor (Real Humans), a Swedish series.
(9) COMICS SECTION.
- Tom the Dancing Bug visits Counter-Earth.
- The Far Side has a horrifying sight at baggage claim.
- Six Chix has a mildly amusing mashup.
- Blondie finds lots of familiar faces at the door on Halloween.
- Grant Snider’s Incidental Comics features “Spooky Stories.”
(10) PRESENT AT THE CREATION. Pioneering women horror artists receive their due in the Saturday Evening Post’s “The Women Who Built the Horror Genre”.
…[Margaret] Brundage is just one of a number of women creators who helped develop the horror genre. June Tarpé Mills was another pioneer, but she had to drop her first name when signing her work in order to create a masculine sounding pen name. Best known for creating the early female action hero Miss Fury (who some argue is the first female superhero), she also created “The Purple Zombie,” one of the earliest ongoing horror characters in comics. Mills’s horror resume also includes “The Vampire” and “The Ivy Menace,” two horror tales that appeared during the late 1930s, well before horror comics gained widespread popularity. “The Vampire” even included a twist ending—an uncommon device for comics at the time, but which became a staple of EC horror comics by the 1950s and in cinema decades later….
(11) THE MEANING OF IT ALL. [Item by Joel Zakem.] The Scroll has run a few pieces on Zukerberg’s Meta, so you might be interested that in Hebrew, Meta can apparently be translated as “she is dead.” The Forward elaborates in “Meta means ‘is dead’ in Hebrew. Discuss.”
…On Thursday, Mark Zuckerberg unveiled the new name for Facebook to mark its transition to what he calls “the metaverse.” The name, which is, perhaps unsurprisingly, Meta, doesn’t translate well. Unless that’s the point.
While the word, now applied to such narratively self-aware works as “Adaptation” and “Deadpool,” derives from the Greek prefix meaning “after” or beyond,” and indicates something that transcends the word it latches onto (think metaphysics), in Hebrew the word “Meta” is the feminine form of “is dead.” Don’t just take my word for it!…
(12) THE FIRST THING WE SHOULD SAY. [Item by JeffWarner.] When Scotty shouted “There Be Whales” this became genre: “Are We on the Verge of Chatting with Whales?” in Hakai Magazine. (“Dolphins as practice for First Contact” is my go-to panel topic.) We should probably apologize…
“I don’t know much about whales. I have never seen a whale in my life,” says Michael Bronstein. The Israeli computer scientist, teaching at Imperial College London, England, might not seem the ideal candidate for a project involving the communication of sperm whales. But his skills as an expert in machine learning could be key to an ambitious endeavor that officially started in March 2020: an interdisciplinary group of scientists wants to use artificial intelligence (AI) to decode the language of these marine mammals. If Project CETI (for Cetacean Translation Initiative) succeeds, it would be the first time that we actually understand what animals are chatting about—and maybe we could even have a conversation with them….
(13) WHAT MUSIC THEY MAKE. In the Washington Post, Alexandra Petri has suggestions for your Halloween music playlist. “The 50 best Halloween songs for your party playlist”. There’s a reason this is on the bottom of her list:
50. “The Wobblin’ Goblin,” by Rosemary Clooney: I am only sorry that by virtue of mentioning this song for this list, I may have made people aware of this song who previously weren’t. Your life may be going well; it may be going poorly; one thing I will guarantee is that hearing “The Wobblin’ Goblin” will make it worse. I hesitate to throw around phrases like “a crime against all reason and civilization,” but this song has no redeeming characteristics whatsoever yet still immediately gets stuck in your head. The universe it sets up makes no sense, one in which goblins are riding around on broomsticks but also responsive to air-traffic control, and buying an airplane is a logical solution to having a broken broom. Why wouldn’t the goblin just buy another broom that wasn’t broken? Was this sponsored by Big Air Travel?
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Joel Zakem, JeffWarner, Cora Buhlert, Daniel Dern, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rob Thornton.]