…The AG and the AALA stressed in both meetings that our intention was not to take sides but rather, like submitting an amicus curiae brief to a court, to advise both HarperCollins and the union about the damaging effects of the strike. Both the AG and the AALA reached out to our members ahead of the meetings to solicit feedback about how the dispute has impacted them and summarized the described experiences.
The Authors Guild relayed authors’ stories of being unable to reach their editors, their lack of any marketing support—even for imminent books and those just published—delays in publishing, and overworked and stressed editors, as well as a total lack of reviews, interviews, or events for their new books due to pressure for third parties not to support HarperCollins books. Authors used words such as “disappointing” and “devastating” when describing how, after years of working on their books and finally getting them to the point of publication, they now risk failing to reach readers due to no fault of their own.
AALA representatives expressed concerns about their members’ inability to get necessary marketing services as well as frustration with publication delays. Such delays impact authors’ and agents’ finances, causing potential long-term damage to writers’ careers and damage to their relationships with HarperCollins going forward. They stressed how weak sales performance on one book can impact an author’s entire career, since it may prevent the sales of future books and the ability to license the book internationally or option it for TV or film. The AALA Board delegation conveyed that in the recent follow-up to their December survey, anger and frustration are now dominating the discourse with deep concern regarding permanent damage to all if it does not resolve soon….
(2) STAR TREK: VOYAGER QUIZ ON LEARNEDLEAGUE; JEOPARDY! BAIT AND SWITCH. [Item by David Goldfarb/] LearnedLeague has just had a One-Day Special quiz on Star Trek: Voyager. You can read the questions here. (I lost interest in Voyager partway through the first season, and could only answer three questions; my wife was more of a fan and got nine.)
The Monday, February 6 episode of Jeopardy! had a category in the first round titled “Doctor Who”…except it turned out to be entirely about medical personnel associated with the World Health Organization. “Doctor WHO” rather than Doctor Who. Disappointing!
(3) UNPAID “NEW TALENT”? The Maul magazine, a horror genre publication, is the subject of discussion for its offer to publish material from minors without compensation. There is a regular rate for material purchased to appear in the magazine – “New Talent” submissions aren’t in the magazine, but on its web page. The discussion about that begins here.
The Maul’s editor Brian Rosten explains their policy in “A Minor FAQ”.
Can I be published in The Maul Magazine if I’m under 18?
Not really. Anyone under 18 is free to submit to our “New Talent” section of themaulmag.com’s web page. (We’re thinking of changing the name “New Talent,” because admittedly, it does make it sound like they’re a part of our main issues) None of those stories appear in any issues of The Maul. The stories for “New Talent” are under completely separate guidelines. There is also no competition for those publications. Anyone who meets the guidelines gets published providing they accept our edits.
As someone on Twitter pointed out, this is more like an open mic. It’s a chance for kids to get excited about horror, practice their hand at the craft, and talk to an editor a little bit about the process of submitting to a magazine.
We do not accept submissions from those under 18 for any issues of The Maul.
What do authors in the “New Talent” Section get paid?
Currently, we do not pay them. But we are willing to hear out ideas, as we cannot pay them directly, and they do not compete for publication.
…Boom Studios will be launching a Kickstarter for The Expanse: Dragon Tooth, the new comic book series by Andy Diggle and Christian Ward set between books six, Babylon’s Ashes, and seven, Persepolis Rising, of The Expanse, and following where season six of the Syfy and Prime Video TV series left off. Their Day One exclusive bonus item – The Expanse Rocinante Challenge Coin – will be available only for the first 24 hours of the campaign. Boom Studios has a history of using Kickstarter to raise the profile of media-prominent projects, such as Keanu Reeves and Brzrkr….
… There have always been literary feuds. Has this “wreck the other guy’s career” always been a thing? Or is it peculiar to the Internet age?
I think social media and the instantaneous access to technology that can record you and send you anywhere has made it very easy for people to go after whoever they want — with as much speed and viciousness as possible. I have been told there have been some posts that have savaged me in terrible ways—I haven’t bothered to read them—and often of the ad hominem variety. They gave me a LAA 6 years go, but now I am apparently not only an asshole, but also a no-talent has-been as well. And I do believe there is a certain type of individual out there who gets a true glee at knowing he or she has the power to destroy others with a few keyboard strokes….
…All systems are hackable. Even the best-thought-out sets of rules will be incomplete or inconsistent. They’ll have ambiguities, and things the designers haven’t thought of. As long as there are people who want to subvert the goals of a system, there will be hacks.
What will change everything is artificial intelligence, and what will happen when AIs start hacking. Not the problems of hacking AI, which are both ubiquitous and super weird, but what happens when an AI is able to discover new hacks against these more general systems. What happens when AIs find tax loopholes, or loopholes in financial regulations. We have systems in place to deal with these sorts of hacks, but they were invented when hackers were human and reflect the human pace of hack discovery. They won’t be able to withstand an AI finding dozens, or hundreds, of loopholes in the financial network. We’re simply not ready for the speed, scale, scope, and sophistication of AI hackers….
(7) MEMORY LANE.
1968 — [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.] Peter S. Beagle’s The Last Unicorn
This past autumn the authors edition of Peter S. Beagle’s The Last Unicorn came out. It was an edition that Beagle has long wanted to do and his editor, Deborah Grabien, author of the Haunted Ballad series, helped him craft it.
Published fifty-five years ago, it tells the tale of a unicorn who believes she is the last of her kind in the world at large and goes questing to see what happened to all other unicorns. It is a very, very charming tale.
It’s one of my favorite works by him, amazingly well written given it was only his second novel after A Fine and Private Place. The Rankin/Bass animated film is much liked by Peter.
The Beginning of The Last Unicorn is I think one of the best that I’ve seen for a fantasy novel. It describes our protagonist in detail, telling us exactly what she’s like, and what her circumstances are now.
The Last Unicorn lived in a lilac wood, and she lived all alone. She was very old, though she did not know it, and she was no longer the careless color of sea foam, but rather the color of snow falling on a moonlit night. But her eyes were still clear and unwearied, and she still moved like a shadow on the sea.
She did not look anything like a horned horse, as unicorns are often pictured, being smaller and cloven-hoofed, and possessing that oldest, wildest grace that horses have never had, that deer have only in a shy, thin imitation and goats in dancing mockery. Her neck was long and slender, making her head seem smaller than it was, and the mane that fell almost to the middle of her back was as soft as dandelion fluff and as fine as cirrus. She had pointed ears and thin legs, with feathers of white hair at the ankles; and the long horn above her eyes shone and shivered with its own seashell light even in the deepest midnight. She had killed dragons with it, and healed a king whose poisoned wound would not close, and knocked down ripe chestnuts for bear cubs.
Unicorns are immortal. It is their nature to live alone in one place: usually a forest where there is a pool clear enough for them to see themselves—for they are a little vain, knowing themselves to be the most beautiful creatures in all the world, and magic besides. They mate very rarely, and no place is more enchanted than one where a unicorn has been born. The last time she had seen another unicorn the young virgins who still came seeking her now and then had called to her in a different tongue; but then, she had no idea of months and years and centuries, or even of seasons. It was always spring in her forest, because she lived and she wandered all day among the great beech trees, keeping watch over the animals that lived in the ground and under bushes, in nests and caves, earths and treetops. Generation after generation, wolves and rabbits alike, they hunted and loved and had children and died, and as the unicorn did none of these things, she never grew tired of watching them.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born February 7, 1812 — Charles Dickens. Author of more genre fiction according to ISFDB than I knew. There’s A Christmas Carol that I’ve seen performed lived myriad times but they also list The Chimes: A Goblin Story of Some Bells That Rang an Old Year Out and a New Year In, The Cricket on the Hearth: A Fairy Tale of Home, The Battle of Life, The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain and The Christmas Books. OK, that appears to be a lot of genre, doesn’t it? (Died 1870.)
Born February 7, 1908 — Buster Crabbe. He also played the title role in the Tarzan the Fearless, Flash Gordon, and Buck Rogers series in the Thirties, the only person to do though other actors played some of those roles. He would show up in the Seventies series Buck Rogers in the 25th Century as a retired fighter pilot named Brigadier Gordon. (Died 1983.)
Born February 7, 1913 — Henry Hasse. Best known for being the co-author of Ray Bradbury’s first published story, “Pendulum”, which appeared in November 1941 in Super Science Stories. ISFDB lists a single novel by him, The Stars Will Wait, and some fifty short stories if I’m counting correctly. The Stars Will Wait is available at the usual suspects. (Died 1977.)
Born February 7, 1929 — Alejandro Jodorowsky, 94. The Universe has many weird things in it such as this film, Jodorowsky’s Dune. It looks at his unsuccessful attempt to film Dune in the mid-1970s. He’s also has created a sprawling SF fictional universe, beginning with the Incal, illustrated by the cartoonist Jean Giraud which is rooted in their work for the Dune project which is released as comics.
Born February 7, 1942 — Gareth Hunt. Mike Gambit in The New Avengers, the two-season revival of The Avengers that also starred Joanna Lumley as Purdey and Patrick Macnee as John Steed. Quite excellent series. He was also Arak in the Third Doctor story, “Planet of The Spiders”. (Died 2007.)
Born February 7, 1949 — Alan Grant. He’s best known for writing Judge Dredd in 2000 AD as well as various Batman titles from the late 1980s to the early 2000s. If you can find it, there’s a great Batman / Judge Dredd crossover “Judgement on Gotham” that he worked on. His recent work has largely been for small independents including his own company. (Died 2022.)
Born February 7, 1950 — Karen Joy Fowler, 73. Her first work was “Recalling Cinderella” in L Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future, Vol I. Her later genre works are Sarah Canary, the Black Glass collection and the novel The Jane Austen Book Club, which is not SF though SF plays a intrinsic role in it, Also two short works of hers, “Always” and “The Pelican Bar” won significant awards. Her latest genre novel, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, is being adored far and wide.
Born February 7, 1950 — Margaret Wander Bonanno. She wrote seven Star Trek novels, several science fiction novels set in her own worlds, including The Others, a novel with Nichelle Nichols. In putting together this Birthday, several sources noted that she had disavowed writing her Trek novel Probe because of excessive editorial meddling by the publisher. She self-published Music of the Spheres, her unapproved version of Probe, the official publication. According to her, Probe has less than ten per cent of the content of her version. This led to Bonanno being blacklisted from the Star Trek publishing universe for over 11 years; in 2003 she returned with Catalyst of Sorrows,part of the Star Trek: The Lost Era series. (Died 2021.)
And much of that work was greatly shaped by her life in California. Butler was born and went to school in Pasadena. Her mother cleaned houses in the city’s wealthy neighborhoods, and Butler became a fixture at the Peter Pan Room, the children’s section of the elegant Pasadena Central Library. As an adult, she regularly traveled across the Southland, scrutinizing the world around her and drawing on those observations for her books….
After becoming the new hotness for fans of surreal insanity, the never ending AI-generated stream inspired by the 90s sitcom Seinfeld called Nothing, Forever has been temporarily kicked off the air. Just like some other famed comedians, the series main character “Larry Feinberg” was slapped down hard after making an ill-fitting transphobic and homophobic joke.
Each “episode” of Nothing, Forever contains a section where Larry performs a comedy set akin to what Jerry Seinfeld does at the start of the real-life show. As first reported by Vice, Twitch issued a 14-day ban on Nothing, Forever Sunday night after video showed Larry dive into Dave Chappelle-levels of anti-self-reflection….
The Chinese government denies this and says the factories are part of a voluntary “poverty alleviation” scheme.
The Simpsons has been shown on and off in mainland China since the early 2000s. Clips from the current season can be found on Chinese streaming sites, but not of that particular scene, according to a BBC check on Tuesday.
The Star Wars franchise is home to a number of iconic technologies that fans have fantasized about. Although most fans first think of the lightsaber as Star Wars‘ signature technological device, another one is closer to becoming a reality. According to the website of the company Aerwins, it has produced the XTURISMO, a flying bike that in many ways resembles the iconic Star Wars vehicle. Check out one of the first looks at the XTURISMO flying bike in the promotional video from Aerwin below…
[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day by Cat Eldridge.]
(1) RUSSIA PUTS SF WRITER ON WANTED LIST. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Popular Russian science fiction author Dmitry Glukhovsky has been put on a list for prosecution based on his anti-war comments. He’s one of the first major figures to be targeted under a new law in Russia that criminalizes opposition to the war in Ukraine. “Russia Adds Popular Sci-Fi Writer to Its Wanted List” on Reuters.
“Stop the war! Admit that this is a war against an entire nation and stop it!” he wrote on Instagram. (The post is here. It’s in Russian.)
Russia on Tuesday placed Dmitry Glukhovsky, a popular science fiction writer, on its wanted list after accusing him of spreading false information about its military intervention in Ukraine.
…The Interior Ministry’s website listed Glukhovsky, best known for the “Metro 2033” sci-fi novel and its sequels, as wanted under an unspecified article of the criminal code.
Russia has already targeted opposition figures and journalists with a law seeking jail terms of up to 15 years for those convicted of intentionally spreading “fake” news about Russia’s military.
Glukhovsky is the first major cultural figure to be put on the wanted list due to the new law, adopted days after Russia sent troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24….
From 20th Century Studios, the newest installment in the “Predator” saga features a face-off between the alien super-hunter and the Comanche Nation 300 years ago. Throughout the two-minute trailer, viewers get to see the Predator in full apex-hunter mode, murdering bears with ease, showing off its skilled hand-to-hand combat and invisibly chasing down human prey through a field.
“Prey” is set to follow the story of a young Comanche woman, Naru, played by Amber Midthunder. The vicious and deadly warrior sets out to protect her people from the horrifying killing machine, vowing that she can kill the creature. Of course, that task is easier said than done. Nevertheless, Naru must use wit and intense skill to stand a chance against the ancient alien being.
Directed by Dan Trachtenberg of “10 Cloverfield Lane” and “The Boys,” the filmmakers behind “Prey” aimed to create an accurate portrayal of the Comanche. The film thus features numerous Native American identities in front of and behind the camera, including Native Comanche producer Jhane Myers and a cast made up almost entirely of Native and First Nations talent. Joining Midthunder is Dakota Beavers, Michelle Thrush, Stormee Kipp and Julian Black Antelope. Dane DiLiegro plays the Predator….
(3) WOODEN YOU LIKE TO BE A PEPPER TOO? Joan Acocello explores “The Transformations of Pinocchio” in The New Yorker. “How Carlo Collodi’s puppet took on a life of his own.”
Of the half-dozen or so films that turned Walt Disney, in the public’s mind, from the father of Mickey Mouse to the creator of the animated fairy-tale feature—thereby making his work a fixture in the imaginative life of almost every American child—“Pinocchio” (1940) feels like the odd one out. Many people say it is their least favorite. It is surely the most frightening. Go to anyone you know who was in grammar school in the nineteen-forties and fifties and ask, What was the Disney movie that scared you the most? Was it “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” (1937), where the evil queen falls off a cliff to her death? (Dr. Benjamin Spock once wrote that all the seats in the vast auditorium of Radio City Music Hall had to be reupholstered because so many children wet their pants while watching the film.) Well, what about “Dumbo” (1941), where the baby elephant has to watch as his mother is whipped and chained, howling for her child? O.K., what about “Bambi” (1942), where the fawn’s mother is shot to death a few feet away from him? You can’t beat that, can you?
But, for some reason, “Pinocchio” does. Perhaps the answer lies not in any one scene but in the movie’s over-all bleakness….
(4) FREE READ. Issue 5 of Whetstone Magazine of Sword and Sorcery is now available, and Cora Buhlert has a story called “Village of the Unavenged Dead” in it. There also are stories by G.T. Wilcox, Michael Burke, George Jacobs, Dariel Quiogue, T.A. Markitan, Robert O’Leary, Charles Dooley, Jason M. Waltz, Gregory D. Mele, H.R. Laurence, Anthony Perconti, Chuck Clark, Nathaniel Webb, Patrick Groleau, J. Thomas Howard, B. Harlan Crawford, Rev. Joe Kelly, Rett Weissenfels and Scott Oden as well as an evocative cover by Carlos Castilho. And it’s 100% free.
(5) VERTLIEB MEDICAL UPDATE. Steve Vertlieb, who made it through heart surgery, told Facebook friends his recovery from another procedure to fix a pseudoaneurysm and blood clot is not going well and will require more work by the surgeon.
I remain in a weakened and fragile condition due to these latest setbacks. My vital signs for my heart and lungs appear strong, however. Everyone’s continued prayer support would be deeply and most genuinely appreciated. Thanks most sincerely.
(6) OH, YOU RASCAL! John Scalzi will do it his way. Of course!
In the outpouring of grief immediately after the recent school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, posts appeared on Twitter and other social media platforms about a man named “Bernie.” He was a teacher at Robb Elementary School who died sheltering his students from gunfire, the posts said. Many of the posts included a picture of a grinning, bearded man in glasses.
Some commenters piped up, saying they had seen that face, and that name, before.
On that point, they were right. “Bernie” and the photograph had appeared before on some Twitter accounts that looked as if they were from news organizations like CNN, Fox News and the BBC. One of those accounts said the man was a journalist executed in Kabul by the Taliban. A second one said he was an activist killed in Ukraine by a mine planted by Russian-backed separatists. A third said he was murdered in last month’s massacre at a grocery store in Buffalo.
For those inclined toward conspiracy theories, the conclusion was obvious: “Bernie” was a so-called crisis actor, employed by the left to drum up sympathy for causes like gun control. His repeated appearances were used to prop up theories that major tragedies were hoaxes and that the mainstream media was complicit.
On all those points, the conspiracy theorists were wrong. There is no “Bernie,” he’s not a crisis actor, and news organizations are not behind the posts. And the photo? It is of a 36-year-old online gamer, Jordie Jordan. He’s alive, and he had nothing to do with the posts.
Instead, the posts are part of a yearslong harassment campaign against him, taking place on online platforms like Twitter, Reddit and Discord….
…Mr. Jordan, who streams himself playing video games on YouTube under the Wings of Redemption handle, has nearly 440,000 subscribers. He began playing Call of Duty for an online audience in 2008, after losing a job at a steel mill. Before that, he regularly appeared on a podcast, where he attracted some criticism for his statements, including some homophobic and racial slurs, and comments in support of lowering the age of consent. “I have apologized profusely for the error of my juvenile thought process and live with the ramification of that every day,” he said, attributing the comments to his “shock jock” routine.
He said he had first learned of the “Bernie” meme from Reddit posts in 2020. The photo that is used is a selfie he took on his front porch in 2018 and posted on Twitter….
(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1997 – [By Cat Eldridge.] If you had HBO back a quarter of a century ago on this night, you might have seen the first episode of the Perversions Of Science series. It is a spin-off of the horror series Tales from the Crypt, another HBO series, and like that series, all of its episodes were based on EC Comics’s Incredible Science Fiction, Weird Fantasy and Weird Science books.
William Gaines, the publisher and co-editor of EC Comics, gets credit as creator of this series.
Perversion of Science is hosted by a computer-generated female robot named Chrome which is voiced by Maureen Teefy. Chrome both introduces the story and adds a coda. Unlike the Crypt Keeper who was decidedly grim, Chrome preferred a light banter with element of sex tossed in.
There was but one season of ten episodes — unlike Tales from the Crypt which lasted seven seasons and eighty-nine episodes. It was supposed to be pure SF with the added elements being HBO of graphic violence, nudity, profanity and sex. I did say it was HBO.
It really had a lot of well-know performers — Will Wheaton, William Shatner, Sean Astin, Jeffery Coombs, Yancy Butler and Keith Carradine are but some of the actors you’ll recognize there.
The stories I remember as being, well, not bad, not great. HBO never did really get the jones for doing true SF. They were more comfortable with horror. A lot more comfortable.
As Chris Varner of Dallas Morning anew summed up neatly: “The formula goes something like this: Take liberties with sex and psychopaths whenever possible and let the plot chips fall where they may. ADVERTISEMENT Unfortunately, they tend to fall in big, ungainly heaps. No one expects Serling-esque profundity from an after-hours HBO fantasy. But with only one of the first four episodes transcending the series’ comic-book source material, the future of Science looks dim.”
It has no rating at Rotten Tomatoes because to my knowledge it was never released on any digital media, and it’s not available anywhere to buy, rent or stream anywhere. I think they put it back in the vault and decided to keep it there.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born June 7, 1915 — Graham J. Ingels. Illustrator best remembered for his work in EC Comics during the Fifties, most notably on The Haunt of Fear,Tales from the Crypt and The Vault of Horror. He illustrated one genre magazine, Planet Stories cover as you can see here. Though he didn’t do any other covers, he was a regular interior artist for both Planet Stories and Planet Comics. (Died 1991.)
Born June 7, 1932 — Kit Reed. Her first short story, “The Wait” (1958), was published by Anthony Boucher in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. She would write more stories than I care to count over her career for which she was nominated for the James Tiptree Jr. Award three times. I’m not at all familiar with her novels, so do tell me about them please. The usual suspects now have a generous amount of her fiction available which wasn’t true a few years ago. (Died 2017.)
Born June 7, 1937 — Jack Zipes, 85. A truly amazing academic who once royally irritated a friend of mine for having an unrelentingly negative attitude towards Walt Disney whose films, he believes, corrupted the original works of folklorists such as Charles Perrault and the Brothers Grimm. Disney, according to Zipes, completely distorted those stories. Need I add that friend lived near Disney World and had met Disney more than once? I like him and think that he’s a folklorist of the first order. His Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales is required reading for anyone interested in that subject, and if can accept if his anti-Disney bias, The Enchanted Screen: The Unknown History of Fairy-Tale Films is fascinating reading. Again setting aside that matter of the anti-Disney bias, Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales, Children, and the Culture Industry is really great reading. He did a lot of fairy tale anthologies of which I’ll single out Victorian Fairy Tales: The Revolt of the Fairies and Elves and Beauty and the Beast and Other Classic French Fairy Tales. Both are most excellent reading.
Born June 7, 1952 — Liam Neeson, 70. He first shows up in genre films as Gawain in Excalibur and as Kegan in Krull. He plays Martin Brogan In High Spirits, a film I enjoy immensely. Next up is the title role in Darkman, a film I’ve watched myriad times. He’s Dr. David Marrow In The Haunting which I’d contend is loosely off of The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. Now we get him as Qui-Gon Jinn in The Phantom Menace. Followed unfortunately by his horrid take as Ra’s al Ghul in Batman Begins and as a cameo in The Dark Knight Rises. Now he voiced Aslan with amazing dignity in The Chronicles of Narnia franchise and I hope voiced Zeus as well in the Titans franchise. Recently he showed up on The Orvillle — who hasn’t? — as Jahavus Dorahl in “If the Stars Should Appear” episode. He’s in the new Obi-Wan Kenobi series as Qui-Gon Jinn in two episodes by using archive material and in the Tales of the Jedi series voicing the same character.
Born June 7 1954, — Louise Erdrich, 68. Writer of novels, poetry, and children’s books featuring Native American characters and settings. She is an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians. Her genre work includes according to ISFDB the Ojibwe series of The Antelope Wife, a work which won a World Fantasy Award, and The Painted Drum, plus stand-alone novels of The Crown of Columbus (co-written with her husband Michael Dorris) and Future Home of the Living God. She’s amply stocked at the usual suspects at reasonable prices.
Born June 7, 1955 — Mark Schultz, 67. His best work I think is his own written-and-largely-illustrated-by-him Xenozoic Tales book series about a post-apocalyptic world where dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures coexist with humans. He’s done more mainstream work including Star Wars and Aliens (Dark Horse), The Flash (DC) and Prince Valiant currently at King Features.
Born June 7, 1960 — Bill Prady, 62. Impressively, he’s co-creator with Chuck Lorre of The Big Bang Theory and The Muppets series which he did in 2015 with Bob Kushell. Well maybe not impressively in the case of the second… He wrote one episode of Voyager, “Bliss”. And he’s the writer of a Munsters film I’ve never heard of, Here Come the Munsters.
Born June 7, 1968 — Sarah Parish, 54. In “The Runaway Bride“, a Tenth Doctor story, she got to play, with the assistance of extensive CGI, one of the nastiest Who villains to date, The Empress of the Racnoss, an oversized vicious spider with a human face. Great episode. It’s our introduction to Donna Noble, his Companion for quite some time to come. In a much lighter role, she played Pasiphaë on BBC’s Atlantis series.
Where would Superman be without the red flutter of his cape, the yellow light of Earth’s sun—and the green screen behind him? The green screen never makes it into the movies, of course; it’s replaced by a sky full of stars, or the skyline of Metropolis. For more than a century, filmmakers have been using the “green screen” technique—or, to be precise, chroma key compositing—to allow us to believe that their actors are doing the impossible. That they’re soaring above the Earth, or investigating a crime in Toontown, or assembling the Avengers, or encountering a T. rex.
In fact, green-screen filmmaking is so easy—and, studio execs will admit thankfully, so cheap—that it’s even used for less fantastic scenes. Men getting out of a car near a motel in David Fincher’s series Mindhunter? Green screen: there was no motel, just a sign on a studio set in front of a big ol’ screen of green. Man explaining the cold front on the nightly news? Green screen. It’s gotten to the point where not using green screens, as in the recently released (and box office smash) Top Gun: Maverick, is a matter of sweaty, hard-working pride.
So where did the green screen come from? And why is it so popular? And most importantly: why is it green?….
(12) QUEEN’S PLATINUM JUBILEE. SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie found a video of the “Platinum Party at the Palace” that is watchable outside the UK. He advises, “For optimal viewing include one large mug of builders tea and/or pint real ale served at cellar temperature (4 – 5’C) and commence viewing 1 hour 50 minutes before sunset (to get a feel of the live experience).”
(13) YIKES. Meanwhile, Cliff photographed this off-trail celebration of the Jubilee: “Imagine my wife and I’s surprise when, during a hospital visit, we stumbled upon the lair of the Lich Queen of Chelsea And Westminster!”
…A collaboration between MoMA and LEGO, the set reinterprets Van Gogh’s thick impasto brushwork in 2316 tiny plastic bricks, including a mini figure of the artist, equipped with paintbrush, palette, easel, and an adjustable arm for positioning him at sufficient distance to gain perspective on his world famous work.
… The set is the winning entry in a LEGO Ideas competition. Designer Truman Cheng, a 25-year-old LEGO fan and PhD candidate focusing on medical robotics and magnetic controlled surgical endoscopes. He had long wanted to render The Starry Night in LEGO, but its execution required a lightbulb moment…
(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [By Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore,” the Screen Junkies say the film has “magic politics” and “Magic black-site prisons and execution chambers” that “bleeds the child-like wonder from this franchise like a necromancer’s jacuzzi.” But what glop is in this film that reminds the narrator of “The Mexican pizza at Taco Bell?”
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cora Buhlert, Jan Vaněk jr,Olav Rokne, Cora Buhlert, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Cliff, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]