(1) RECORDED AT THE DAWN OF THE INTERNET. In January 2000, Robin Williams signed a 3-year contract with Audible to release a new online audio interview every 2 weeks. The Robin Williams Fansite has a list of them that are available on YouTube here. Among them is “Robin Williams & Harlan Ellison”.
Robin is joined by the inimitable, garrulous, and thoroughly entertaining science fiction writer Harlan Ellison for a gabfest, during which the author and the comedian bounce through topics as diverse as Martian gargoyles, computer vampires, little people vs. midgets, soup vs. sex, the genius of Lenny Bruce, and the many, varied attempts on Ellison’s life. With more than 1,700 stories to his credit – including novels, essays, television and film scripts – it’s obvious that Ellison is a brain to be reckoned with, but it’s never been more apparent than in this fascinating give-and-take with Robin, another force to be reckoned with!
Other points of interest include the four things that got the young Ellison kicked out of college, how he sent a woman “out of her Mesopotamian mind,” the writers-night-out drinking and schmoozing society known as the Hydra Club, and the time when Lester Del Rey inspired L. Ron Hubbard to “cobble up” a religion. Then there’s a discussion of Ellison’s parents (“two pandas who gave birth to a wolverine”) and a determination of where ideas come from (“Schenectady”). Ellison even previews his current project: Incognita, Inc., the story of a Dickensian cartographer who maps hidden cities of literature and lore.
(2) USING OUR X-RAY VISION. The Telegraph article about Peter Capaldi is behind a paywall, however, an interesting quote has been tweeted:
(3) TIME TO CATCH UP. “Ms. Marvel: Kamala Khan’s Origin and Powers Explained” – IGN has a complete dossier if you need to know more after seeing the teaser trailer for the new Disney+ series starring Iman Vellani as Kamala Khan.
(4) BOOK POLITICS IN TEXAS. Continuing to follow a story that began with a Texas legislator sending a list of 850 books to schools in the state demanding they tell him if they have these books in their libraries and how much they have spent on them, now the Governor of Texas has issued his own requirements: “Greg Abbott tells state agencies to block books with ‘overly sexual’ content” reports the Texas Tribune.
Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday told state education officials to develop statewide standards preventing “pornography” and “other obscene content in Texas public schools,” citing two memoirs about LGBTQ characters which include graphic images and descriptions of sex.
Abbott’s directive to the Texas Education Agency, Texas State Library and Archives Commission and State Board of Education comes days after the governor told another entity — the Texas Association of School Boards — to determine the extent to which “pornography or other inappropriate content” exists in public schools across the state and to remove it if found. But the association told Abbott it had no regulatory authority over school districts and suggested the governor direct his inquiry to TEA or SBOE.
The political back and forth came on the heels of Keller Independent School District removing a book — “Gender Queer: A Memoir” by Maia Kobabe — from one of its high school libraries after some parents raised concerns over the books’s graphic images. Kobabe’s graphic novel is about the author’s own journey with gender identity. At one point, it includes an illustrations of oral sex and other sexual content, along with discussions related to pronouns, acceptance and hormone-blocking drugs.
In his Nov. 8 letter, Abbott mentioned that book along with “In the Dream House” by Carmen Maria Machado, which the governor said “describes overtly sexual and pornographic acts.” That book along with several others, the governor said, was recently removed from classrooms in Leander Independent School District. “In the Dream House” is a memoir that examines an abusive relationship between two women.
Abbott told education officials Monday that the Texas Association of School Boards had “attempted to wash its hands clean of the issue by abdicating any and all responsibility in the matter.”
“Given this negligence, the State of Texas now calls on you to do what the Texas Association of School Boards refuses to do,” Abbott wrote, saying that the standards the entities develop “must ensure transparency about the materials being taught in the classroom and offered in school libraries.”…
(5) TOP SHELF. Meanwhile, Book Riot’s list of “The Best Cities for Book Lovers in 2022” puts Pasadena, CA at the top of the list. There’s also a bottom 10, with two cities in Texas and four in Nevada.
… The study looked at the 200 biggest cities across the United States, comparing access to a wide variety of book acquisition variables. Among them were public libraries, bookstores, Little Free Libraries, book clubs, and events dedicated to books and reading. Another variable they looked at was the availability of books “in the wild,” based on users on BookCrossing who share books they’ve found, released, and tracked via the website.
The company ranked the top 200 cities from best cities for book lovers to worst cities for book lovers, based on overall scores out of 100 possible points. …
(6) OVAL OFFICERS. Let Atlas Obscura acquaint you with “The Long, Strange History of People Filing Flying Saucer Patents”.
Early in the summer of 1947, an amateur pilot from Idaho named Kenneth Arnold spotted something in the Washington skies that kind of blew his mind….
But the guy who got to the U.S. Patent Office first, surprisingly, wasn’t actually inspired by the popular perception of the UFO at all. He had the idea, in fact, years before Kenneth Arnold took his fateful flight.
The Dutch painter and sculpture artist Alexander Weygers, who grew up in the Dutch East Indies—now Indonesia—and spent most of his adult life in the U.S., was something of a 20th-century Leonardo da Vinci. He had both an engineering and artistic background, and his work spanned sculpture, illustrations, photography, and many other fields….
(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1987 — Thirty-four years ago, The Running Man premiered. Though it was said to be rather loosely off the Richard Bachman, the alias of Stephen King at the time, novel of the same name, a lawsuit would later find that the film was plagiarized in large part from the French movie Le prix du danger which was in turn was based off Robert Sheckley’s “The Prize of Peril” short story. No idea if that film plagiarized Sheckley.
It was directed by Paul Michael Glaser whose only previous film as a director was described as an “action crime neo noir thriller”. Lots of adjectives there, eh? As you know it starred Arnold Schwarzenegger, María Conchita Alonso, Richard Dawson, Yaphet Kotto, and Jesse Ventura.
All of the critics thought it was at best paper thin though most including Roger Ebert had high praise for Richard Dawson though few were fond of the role Arnold Schwarzenegger had here. It wasn’t a box office success, earning just thirty-seven million against a budget of twenty-seven million. It has a decent but not outstanding rating of sixty percent among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. For reasons not entirely clear, it’s being remade.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born November 13, 1887 — A. R. Tilburne. Pulp artist who by 1938 was selling cover illustrations to Short Stories and Weird Tales, and in the 1940s he also drew many interior story illustrations for Weird Tales. In 1947 he painted the cover for H. P. Lovecraft’s The Lurking Fear which was published by Avon. (Died 1967.)
- Born November 13, 1888 — Philip Francis Nowlan. He’s best known as the creator of Buck Rogers. The character first appeared in Nowlan’s 1928 novella Armageddon 2419 A.D. as Anthony Rogers. Nowlan and the syndicate John F. Dille Company, later known as the National Newspaper Service syndicate, contracted to adapt the story into a comic strip illustrated by Dick Calkins. The strip made its first newspaper appearance on January 7, 1929. (Died 1940.)
- Born November 13, 1933 — James Daris, 88. He played the role of Creature in the deservedly maligned “Spock’s Brain” episode. He’d do one-offs in I Spy, I Dream of Jeannie, Land of the Giants, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Mission: Impossible, the latter with Shatner and Nimoy. He retired from after his role in Larva, a horror film.
- Born November 13, 1934 — Garry Marshall. He’s getting Birthday honors for creating along with Dale McRaven and Joe Glauberg the Pam Dawber and Robin Williams-fronted Mork & Mindy series which had a four year run. (I hadn’t realized it was spun off from Happy Days.) And he shows up on Pinky and the Brain twice voicing Mr. Itch – The Devil including in “A Pinky and the Brain Halloween”. (Died 2016.)
- Born November 13, 1948 — John de Lancie, 73. Best known for his role as Q in the Trek multiverse, though I was more fond of him as Janos Barton in Legend which stars Richard Dean Anderson (if you’ve not seen it, go now and watch it). He was also Jack O’Neill’s enemy Frank Simmons in Stargate SG-1. He has an impressive number of one-offs on genre shows including The Six Million Dollar Man, Battlestar Galactica (1978 version), The New Twilight Zone, MacGyver, Mission: Impossible (the Australian edition which is quite excellent), Get Smart, Again!, Batman: The Animated Series, and I’m going to stop there.
- Born November 13, 1955 — Whoopi Goldberg, 66. Best known as Guinan the Barkeep in Ten Forward on Enterprise in Next Gen which she reprised in Generations and Nemesis. Other genre appearances include Ghost, It’s a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle to name but a few as she’s very busy performer!
- Born November 13, 1955 — Brenda Clough, 66. She was nominated for a Hugo at ConJosé for her “May Be Some Time” novella. I’m very fond of her fantasy Averidan series. Though very much not genre, I recommend her A Most Dangerous Woman, a sequel to The Woman in White by Wilkie Collin. It’s a serial on, errrr, Serial Box which you can find at the usual suspects.
- Born November 13, 1957 — Stephen Baxter, 64. Ok I’m going to confess that the only thing I’ve read that he’s written is the Long Earth series with Terry Pratchett. I’ve only read the first three but they are quite great SF! Ok I really, really need your help to figure out what else of his that I should consider reading. To say he’s been a prolific writer is somewhat of an understatement and he’s gotten a bonnie bunch of awards as well though no Hugos. It’s worth noting that Baxter’s story “Last Contact” was nominated for a Hugo for best short story as were quite a number of his other works.
(9) COMICS UNDER ATTACK. “Ransomware Hits Major US Comic Book Distributor” – PCMag has the story.
Maryland-based Diamond Comic Distributors reported it had suffered a ransomware attack that temporarily took down the company’s website and disrupted its ability to process customer orders.
“Due to the system issues we’re experiencing, some customer shipments of product with an on-sale date of November 10 will be delayed,” the company wrote in an update on Monday.
(10) 84 SESAME STREET. In the Washington Post, Alexandra Petri asks, “What if Big Bird became Big Brother?” “Big Bird’s vaccine doesn’t make him a communist. This does.”
Big Bird was always watching.
There were fewer puppets on Sesame Street than before, but that was for the best. Not all of them had been loyal. Some of them had objected to the fact that the street formerly known as Sesame Street (it was now Victory Plaza) had been the site of so many public puppet decommissionings. But Big Bird assured them that if they did not get rid of thought traitors, the Paw Patrol would come for them. (They had always been at war with the Paw Patrol.)…
(11) THINKING INSIDE THE BOX. “Gucci made an Xbox Series X for the one percent” – Yahoo! described this case of extreme fashion.
…Italian fashion house Gucci has teamed up with the company to release a special edition Xbox Series X that will cost an eye-watering $10,000. The bundle will include the console, two wireless controllers and a very fancy carrying case. Oh, it will also come with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, in case you were worried….
(12) ADVENTURES WITH A CURSED MERMAN. Albuquerque-based author Zachary Hagen cites as the influences for his first series, The Eternal Chronicles, such writers as Christopher Paolini, J. R. R. Tolkien, and C. S. Lewis. The opening book in the series, Eternity’s Well, was released August 31.
When you lose family, friends, and country, how far is too far?
Elior watched as his twin brother, the only real family he had left run into a building as it disappeared.
Nyx, a cursed merman, watched as his father and best friend were killed in front of him.
Opal’s father died leaving her with a legacy to live up to and a throne to protect.
When they join forces with a wise professor to find the Well of Eternity, can they find answers to their problems? Can the ancient evil lurking in the shadows of society be stopped before it’s too late, or will blood be spilled killing their hope and dooming Lux Terra forever?
Eternity’s Well will hook you from the very beginning and take you on a spellbinding, breathtaking journey through a new world where anything is possible.
(13) RISING TIDE. Chris Rose sent this link with a note: “Given that COP26 just ended (ish)… this feels pretty on topic.” “Everything GREAT About Waterworld!” at CinemaWins.
This is one of those movies from my childhood that I don’t think gets the love it deserves. So here’s everything right with Mad Max 2.5! I mean Waterworld!
(14) GREEN SEASON. “She-Hulk Trailer Reveals Return Of Smart Hulk & Fourth Wall Break” – Screen Rant sets the scene:
A new teaser trailer for She-Hulk reveals the return of Smart Hulk to the MCU. She-Hulk is the new Disney+ series starring Tatiana Maslany as Jennifer Walters/She-Hulk, a lawyer by day and She-Hulk when she’s angry. The series showrunner is Jessica Gao and Kat Coiro & Anu Valia serve as directors for the 10-episode series.
Joining Maslany on the show is Tim Roth, once again playing The Abomination/Emil Blonsky, who made his first appearance in 2008’s The Incredible Hulk and recently appeared as the character in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Also joining the cast is Jameela Jamil as She-Hulk villain Titania, as well as Ginger Gonzaga, Josh Segarra, and Renée Elise Goldsberry. Mark Ruffalo is also returning to the show as Bruce Banner/Hulk, although until now it was unclear if he would be in human or Hulk form….
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rob Thornton.]