Doom and gloom predictions, random weirdness and celebrity deaths

First of all, I updated the master list of great German movies available on YouTube. Among other things, I added links to several of the iconic Winnetou adaptions of the mid 1960s, a neat 1970s adventure serial, two more East Germans meet the West films and Sibel Kekilli a.k.a. Shay from Game of Thrones in her film debut.

Ewan Morrison, whose gloom and doom predictions about the state of western literature and culture have been entertaining Guardian readers for at least two years now (I occasionally blogged about Mr Morrison over at Pegasus Pulp) is at it again and delivers a delightful two part dystopian future vision about a 2043 with no original literature, overrun by fanfiction writers and ruled over by the Chinese Communist Party. As an overblown paranoid dystopia, Morrison’s article is surprisingly amusing, if rather offensive (Seriously dated racist Yellow Peril sterotypes? Calling Cory Doctorow a Communist infiltrator/useful idiot? Calling Hugh Howey’s print only deal for Wool a sell-out?). Though I fear he may be serious. I should probably pick the article apart further, but my Chinese overlords demand that I produce more indie fiction to destroy western culture.

Now for a bit of weirdness:

Here is a creepy article about real and fake hanging trees in California and how they turned from judicial murder site to unlikely tourist attractions. Found via Jay Lake.

The zombie apocalypse has come and it has hit Moscow. Okay, so the zombie epidemic only affects Moscow’s pigeons which are succumbing in great numbers to an unknown epidemic and/or toxin. But the headline still made me click.

There have also been several notable deaths in the past two weeks:

Writer Barbara Mertz a.k.a. Elizabeth Peters a.k.a. Barbara Michaels died on August 8 aged 85. She was best known for her Amelia Peabody mysteries starring a Victorian egyptologist and amateur sleuth.

Prince Johan Friso, the younger brother of King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, died August 12 after getting trapped in an avalanche in early 2012 and spending one and a half years in a coma. He was only 44 years old.

German actor Jörg Pleva died August 15 aged 71. Jörg Pleva appeared in many German TV productions and was also the German voice of Malcolm McDowell. However, Jörg Pleva is best remembered for playing the contestant in the German SF classic Das Millionenspiel (The Million Game) back in 1973. The TV-movie, an adaption of a Robert Sheckley short story, caused a scandal at the time, because TV viewers mistook the media satire about a fictional game show where a contestant can win one million deutschmarks, if he manages to elude a team of contract killers for seven days, for the real thing. Even today, the film is still creepy, because it so eerily mirrors the look and feel of actual German TV variety shows of the 1970s that it is like watching TV from a parallel universe. You can see the full film here.

American actor Lee Thompson Young, who played Jane Rizzoli’s partner Detective Frost in Rizzoli and Isles and Clark Kent’s best friend Pete in Smallville, died yesterday aged only 29. Apparently, he committed suicide.

Elmore Leonard, author of countless thrillers, westerns and crime novels, died yesterday aged 87. Even if you have never read Elmore Leonard, you will probably have encountered his work via one of the many film adaptions (Get Shorty, Out of Sight, Jackie Brown and the TV show Justified were all based on his works). And if you’re a writer, you’ll probably have come across Elmore Leonard’s famous ten rules for writing at some point, whether you agree with them or not. And though I’m no big fan of The Onion, their Elmore Leonard parody obituary, which breaks every single one of Leonard’s famous rules, is amusing.

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