American Presidents before George Washington

Like a statistically noticeable chunk of Americans, my wife and I saw Hamilton this past weekend… which naturally led to us to look up the historical details of all the historical figures.

One question that popped up –and really, I’m surprised this wasn’t touched on in any my history classes– was who was “in charge” of the United States before George Washington? I mean, we have that whole “Articles of Confederation” period where someone was in charge in some official capacity, right?

It turns out there were presidents beforehand, but their duties and powers weren’t at all comparable to what we associate with American presidents beginning with George Washington. In this, all my history teachers most definitely covered that “lack of strong, central government.”

Want to know more nitty-gritty details? Writer and newspaper columnist J.J. McCullough has a good summary of some of these early presidents and evidently some people can get snotty about it.

After that, feel free to go down the Wikipedia rabbit hole and learn more all about ’em.

That Time You Hope Randall Munroe Isn’t as Prescient as He Probably Is

I was going through my list of articles and whatnot to post on and came across this bit from the webcomic XKCD and oh… oh my.

XKCD: 4th of July

Let’s hope they put this off until a future year.

More on Getting Back to Set

Earlier this week, Cirque Du Soleil announced it was filing for bankruptcy and Broadway said it was going to be shuttered until January 2021. It’s grim for folks in the entertainment industry.

Still people are trying to figure out how to get some productions back in gear, especially film and TV. Last week, I shared some guidance the film industry has been working on.

This week, catching up on Scriptnotes, I heard their late May roundtable about getting back on set which I figured would be useful too.

Short version? It’s not a bad time to be in animation.

Video

Happy Centennial, Ray Harryhausen

Somewhere in the Heavens, and in glorious Dynamation, Ray Harryhausen is celebrating his 100th birthday.

There’s nothing I can say that can surpass what many, many, many people in the film industry can say about Ray Harryhausen, so I’ll simply link to two videos. The first, a tribute made on his death:

The second, a review of all his creatures, set to music you know you want to do stop action animation dancing to:

Live Theater & Audio Theater

A lot of our company members of Jabberwocky Audio Theater usually make some of their living from performing in live theater… though at the present you can imagine that isn’t as easy.

Still, I know that live theater will return. Last month, I  shared a message from the artistic director of the Guthrie Theater in Minnesota about theater’s enduring qualities.

In the interim, theaters are finding ways to weather the closures and one way, as detailed on NPR, is to do plays as radio dramas.

The article references Orson Welles’ famous “War of the Worlds” broadcast from 1938, which Jabberwocky commemorated in 2018 with our own live performance of “War of the Worlds,” set in modern day and locally here in the Washington, DC area.

I hope this trend helps keep the lights on for many theaters — and while I grew up with both types of theater, I’m quite excited by the prospects that this introduces new listeners to the “Theater of the Mind.”

Video

Foundational Science Fiction

One of my favorite aspects of Isaac Asimov’s science fiction is the worldbuilding and its never more apparent in his centuries-spanning Foundation series.

Indeed, the Galactic Empire and the many of the ensuing interstellar governments were ones I kept in mind while fashioning the Imperium for Rogue Tyger. I’m actually re-reading the series while working on new seasons of the show (it’s easily been over 20 years since I last read them).

So imagine the delight when I saw this teaser trailer for a “prestige” TV series adaptation due out next year? I know they’re likely going to make some noticeable changes to some of the characters and connective plot in order to keep a cinematic throughline, but I’m hopeful it will be a great mix of the clear production design combined with the themes that made the novels so engaging.

Ready for another adventure so soon? Farewell, Ian Holm.

As he was 88, I guess I shouldn’t ask “so soon?,” but news of Ian Holm’s passing is sad news for me this Friday. We collectively have seen him in so much.

You can read more about him and his career from articles and related material at:

I know many people, and the articles, cite his turn as Bilbo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings movies or his absolutely chilling performance as Ash in Alien, but for me, Ian Holm burst into my memory in 1981.

The first film, Chariots of Fire, is included in the montage below. He didn’t win an Oscar for supporting actor, but he did win a BAFTA and one from Cannes and the moment you see below is about a nice a quiet payoff moment as you can want as a character actor.

The second film, Time Bandits, was another family favorite and, perhaps being exposed to it in my formative years, Ian Holm’s portrayal of Napoleon remains one of my favorites (one of the three times he played Napoleon).

Ian Holm as Napoleon in Time Bandits

As the years went on, it was always a pleasure to see him pop up on screen. He had incredible presence in the moment, yet didn’t skew the scene or chew the scenery: a consummate character actor. Even where he plays a major role, he’s part of a team.

So let’s close with something that Ian Holm (as Napoleon) professed to like: little things hitting each other!

Guidance for Filmmaking in a COVID World

Starting last Friday, Hollywood began starting to tentatively resume work since basically all major productions shut down.

Read all the guidance and take it slow, people.

This does mean a fair number of changes, from face masks for audience members to ending buffet meals on set. The industry has created a pretty detailed white paper (note the link is a PDF) that covers recommended actions from personal hygiene to food on set to particular production concerns.

For those of us that aren’t major studio productions, this is still good information to bear in mind.

The Worst Derelict Spaceships to Board

I’ve mentioned science fiction tropes here before, back in 2016 and also this year.

Heck, I’ve even written a Jabberwocky Audio special that parodies the many tales of crews boarding derelict ships.

This is quite established, as the crew over at Generation Films knows well:

Warning, this will have spoilers for

  • The film Ad Astra
  • The TV series The Expanse
  • The video game Dead Space
  • The film Sunshine
  • The film Alien
  • The film Predators
  • The film Event Horizon
  • The film Pandorum

Being an Audio Engineer for Astronauts

As you might imagine working on Jabberwocky Audio Theater, I’m always up for learning about audio engineering. And even without Rogue Tyger, readers will probably remember many a post about space exploration.

So it probably comes as no surprise we’re linking to this article about Alexandria Perryman and her work as a live broadcast engineer for NASA. Check it out!

Alexandria Perryman, via SoundGirls.org