Pixel Scroll 1/7/17 And Someday, If I Can, I’m Gonna Be A Pixel Scroller Just Like My Old Man

(1) STABBY TIME. Reddit’s r/Fantasy group is voting on the winners of The 2016 Best of r/Fantasy Stabby Awards through January 11. You’re invited.

For 2016, we need you to vote!

The eligible candidates below were set by the 2016 r/Fantasy Nomination Thread and populated by r/Fantasy members. The list was locked in place this past Wednesday at 10PM Pacific.

To vote, please click the upvote arrow next to your choice or choices for ‘best of’ in each category. Yes, you can upvote more than one.

(2) STICKS THE LANDING. The New York Times’ Neil Genzlinger reviews Emerald City in “Toto, You’re Not a Basket-Size Terrier Anymore”

Dorothy, the Wizard and the rest of the Oz gang get the “Grimm” treatment as well as the grim treatment in “Emerald City,” a series beginning Friday on NBC, one that’s addictive if you allow it to be. That may, however, require some effort on your part.

emerald-city-nbc

You may not be conscious of just how deeply imprinted the film version of “The Wizard of Oz” is on your psyche until you watch a bit of this show, which initially seems so very wrong in every possible way. Where is the singing? Where are the psychedelic colors? So here’s what you do: At the first commercial break, pause and marvel all over again at what a spectacular achievement in artistry and cross-generational endurance the 1939 Judy Garland film is, and then let it go.

“Emerald City” has its Dorothy, engagingly played by Adria Arjona, but it draws on the full canon of L. Frank Baum’s “Oz” books (a series that continued after his death in 1919). It is partial to the dark and unsettling aspects of those tales, which it teases out and enhances with flourishes of its own. When this Dorothy lands in Oz, she’s armed, and that dog alongside her is no basket-size terrier.

The result is decidedly not a fairy tale for young children. This version of Oz has bloodshed, charred bodies, a very disturbing multiple suicide and much more. Friday’s premiere consists of two episodes, which is good, because two hours is about how long it takes you to acclimate to the tone and intent. In the third episode, a doozy, the show’s grip on you really tightens.

(3) NOT SINBAD AND NOT SHAZAAM. Kenneth R. Johnson emailed his theory about the misremembered genie movie debated in comments on yesterday’s Scroll:

I think I may have the answer to what the mysterious genie movie is that various people are mis-remembering as “Shazaam.”  I distinctly remember watching a movie on TV back in the 1990s in which the genie was played by a tall black guy with dreadlocks;  he also had some kind of British accent.  After extensive googling I’ve identified it as “Bernard and the Genie,” a TV movie from 1991.  The genie was played by British actor/comedian Lenny Henry.  He may have been doing a Jamaican accent to make the genie appear pseudo-Rastafarian.  The movie also has Alan Cumming and Rowan Atkinson in it.  It’s very strange.

(4) BUG JACQUES BARRON. French citizens are now automatic organ donors under the law.

All French citizens are now automatic organ donors, unless they officially opt out of the program.

A new law that went into effect on Jan. 1 makes everyone an organ and tissue donor. People can opt out of the program, but they must enroll in something called the National Rejection Register in order to do so.

A low number of organ donations prompted the new rule, according to news reports.

France’s biomedicine agency said in a statement on its website that “in the name of national solidarity, the principle of presumed consent was chosen,” The World Post reported.

(5) REMEMBER THE ALICORN. Rick Riordan putting his foot down —

(6) FATE OF THE FRANCHISE. What would you do? HuffPo says “’Star Wars’ Team Grappling With How Leia Will Live On After Carrie Fisher’s Death”.

In the wake of Carrie Fisher’s death, the team responsible for future “Star Wars” projects is reportedly reconsidering the place of her character, Leia Organa, in the franchise’s ever-expanding universe, according to The Hollywood Reporter. …

Fisher, who first played the iconic princess in 1977, brought Leia back to the big screen as a general in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” in 2015. The actress has apparently already filmed her scenes for the second installment in the latest trilogy, but was rumored to have an even larger role in the following film….

The team is reportedly concerned with two key scenes featuring Fisher that would bring her character and the film’s plot full circle: a much belated reunion between Leia and Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and a faceoff with her son Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), who killed his father and her lover, Han Solo, in “The Force Awakens.”

Shooting for “Star Wars: Episode IX” isn’t scheduled to begin until early 2018, so until then, those at the helm are pursuing a variety of options on how to proceed. Resurrecting Fisher with CGI effects is apparently one alternative in play, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Technological advances have allowed for actors like the late Peter Cushing to return to the screen in the latest “Star Wars” offering, “Rogue One,” so Fisher could continue to have a similar presence, however limited, in future films.

The braintrust is also reportedly discussing writing the character out all together and reshooting certain scenes to lay the groundwork for her eventual exit from the franchise.

(7) BRINGING ATWOOD TO TV. The Daily Mail brings the showbiz news: “Not quite Stars Hollow! Gilmore Girls’ Alexis Bledel set to star in dystopian Handmaid’s Tale as subversive lesbian”. She’s best known for her role as Rory Gilmore in the idyllic Gilmore Girls.

But it seems Alexis Bledel’s next role will be significantly darker, as it was announced she’ll be joining Hulu’s dystopian Handmaid’s Tale, according to TV Line.

The 35-year-old actress will play the role of Ofglen in the 10 episode series, which is based on Margaret Atwood’s best-selling novel.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • January 7, 1977:  Michael Winner’s The Sentinel premieres in New York City.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born January 7, 1903 — Alan Napier (Alfred Pennyworth) is born in Birmingham, England.
  • Born January 7, 1928 – William Peter Blatty (The Exorcist).

(10) FANTASTIC FICTION AT KGB. On January 18 the hosts of the Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series, Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel, present Holly Black and Fran Wilde. The event begins at 7 p.m. in the KGB Bar (85 East 4th Street, NY — just off 2nd Ave, upstairs.)

Holly Black is a writer of bestselling contemporary dark fantasy. Some of her titles include The Spiderwick Chronicles (with Tony DiTerlizzi), The Modern Faerie Tale series, the Curse Workers series, Doll Bones, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, the Magisterium series (with Cassandra Clare) and The Darkest Part of the Forest. She has been a a finalist for an Eisner Award, and the recipient of the Andre Norton Award, the Mythopoeic Award and a Newbery Honor.

Fran Wilde writes science fiction and fantasy. Her debut novel, Updraft, won the Andre Norton Award and the Compton Crook award, and was a Nebula nominee. Cloudbound, the second book in the Bone Universe series, came out in September 2016, and Horizon will appear in fall 2017. Her novella, “The Jewel and Her Lapidary,” was published by Tor.com publishing in May 2016. Fran’s short fiction has appeared in Asimov’s, Uncanny Magazine, Tor.com, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies.

(11) BE YOUR OWN TIME LORD. Cat Rambo tells Risingshadow readers the importance to writers of “Daily rituals”.

The thing I have learned more than anything else is that a writer must defend their time. That everyone assumes that you’re ready to take a break, come down to the coffee shop and kill a couple of hours. A friend complained to my husband that he felt as though I was timing our encounters, and I was. At the hour mark, I needed to get back to work, because otherwise I’d sit there nattering for far too long. Because you must defend that time not just from others, but from yourself and your own human tendencies toward procrastination and farting around on the Internet, while still being mindful that you do deserve a break every once in a while. You become your own manager, and that is a more difficult task than it might seem.

(12) SURVIVAL TACTICS. John Scalzi’s “10-point plan for getting creative work done in the age of Trump” is easier to understand than Christopher Priest’s.

Scalzi’s plan, published in the Los Angeles Times, was introduced to Whatever readers in these terms:

First, and in case you missed me talking about it on Twitter yesterday, I have a piece up at the LA Times site (a version of it is also in the Sunday newspaper) about getting creative work done in the Trump years — some advice about how to keep focus when it’s likely to be a challenging time for the creative class. Note that this advice generally probably also works for people working in professions generally considered “non-creative” as well, but I’m working with what I know here. Also, of course, if you’re neutral or positive on the idea of the incoming Trump administration, then this particular piece is probably unnecessary for you. Carry on, then.

One of Scalzi’s ten points is —

  1. Reconnect (judiciously). When you go back to the news of the world, and to social media, it’s perfectly all right to ask yourself: Is this making me happy? Is it giving me useful information? Is it inspiring me to engage in the world or does it make me want to run from it?

If it’s not helping you, let it go. Unfollow that Facebook friend passing along fake news, and block those fake news sites outright. Mute that person on Twitter who is apparently always angry. Evaluate the news sources you read and keep the ones that offer news accurately and truthfully (spin is spin, even if it’s spin you like). Design your media intake to be useful, truthful and less stressful.

As for Christopher Priest, he posted on New Year’s Eve that he’ll be moving 500 miles from Devon, England (he didn’t identify where). He spends nearly the entire post pouring out his fear and loathing of Donald Trump, yet never managing to establish any connection between the move and Trump’s election. Did he just want to insure an audience for his farewell address?

(13) LIVING IN STAR TREK TIMES. The Washington Post’s Hayley Tsukayama, in “The Big Takeaway From This Year’s CES”, concludes:

There has been no killer gadget at this year’s International CES technology show. Instead, something more subtle has emerged as the keystone of the tech world.

I’m talking about the smart, central voice assistant. Yes, even that may sound a bit old hat for those who’ve been paying attention….

Virtual assistants can now understand what you say and even interpret the many ways you may say it. Shawn DuBravac, an economist for the Consumer Technology Association, said that machines now have the same word error rate — that is, the batting average of understanding what we’ve actually said — as humans. That’s up from a 23 percent error rate in 2013, meaning that the tech is getting better, and quickly.

That fact has made the dreams of a STAR TREK-like computer come even closer to reality.  The hope is that these assistants will move even beyond our sci-fi dreams and learn our habits and needs well enough to anticipate them.

David K.M. Klaus comments, “I think it’s clear that nobody connected with the program at the time thought it likely that voice-controlled devices would come into mass use in just a half-century — yet the program itself has accelerated technology design in its own direction. I started writing letters to local newspapers pointing out the inspiration when they published articles about new technology thirty years ago.  (Asimov, Bradbury, Heinlein, et al. predated that, of course, but Star Trek in particular has been responsible for how it looks.)  Glad to see that mundane reporters have finally caught up with me.”

(14) WATCH YOUR INTAKE. Cat Rambo shares a second bit of writerly advice at GeekMom in “Artificial inspiration”.

This phenomenon underscores the fact that authors need to pay attention to what they’re putting into their mental buckets, particularly whenever they’re working on a project. The old computer adage, “Garbage in, garbage out,” comes into play. Or turn it around and aim it in another direction: put marvelous things in, get marvelous things out.

In some ways, I think of it like learning a language. We all speak storytelling, we’ve heard it spoken around and to us in fairytales, myths, fables, and a kerjilliion other texts, down to the format of many ads. And just as, when you’re around a number of people all speaking with the same accent, that accent begins to creep into your own speech. So if you’re only hearing one kind of storytelling, all that you speak in that language of storytelling will have that accent–or flavor, or texture, or however you choose to conceptualize it.

Want to create something wonderful? Then you must read wonderful things and not just read them but study them. Take the sentences apart as carefully as a pathologist dissecting an organ and figure out how they work–and then apply that knowledge so you know you’ve got the tool down and have added it to your writerly toolkit.

(15) I’LL BE BACK. At the BBC, Frank Swain tells “Why we may be living in the future of The Running Man”.

The vision of 2017 depicted in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 30-year-old dystopian action movie captures how our world is changing today.

In a world beset by a collapsing economy, the US media conspires with the government to keep the population in check with a combination of heavy-handed policing and a steady stream of vapid reality TV shows. Meanwhile, one of the most powerful men in the world is the host of a reality TV show.

Sound familiar? That was 2017 conjured by campy action thriller The Running Man when it was released 30 years ago.

Sci-fi commonly reveals hidden truths about society. So, it makes you wonder: what else could this dystopian vision say about the world we live in today? If we look at where we are in 2017, what can The Running Man tell us about our changing politics, media and technology?

Chip Hitchcock urges, “Note the photo of Erland van Lidth de Jeude partway through; when he was in the MIT Musical Theatre Guild we used to say that he might be the first Olympic victor to sing his own national anthem. The movies typecast him as a hulk, losing the singing voice that he used in roles ranging from Roderick Murgatroyd to Richard Henry Lee.”

[Thanks to Mark-kitteh, Andrew Porter, Cat Rambo, Chip Hitchcock, David K.M.Klaus, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

118 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 1/7/17 And Someday, If I Can, I’m Gonna Be A Pixel Scroller Just Like My Old Man

  1. I feel like it’s probably appropriate to mention that South Korea finally took steps to start the whole process of impeachment with Park Geun-hye, their very own corrupt president, before Christmas. As far as I know the process is ongoing but I’m sure I’ll get a lot of messages and see facebook statuses about it when it comes to an end, for good or ill. (And that’s only if I’m not in South Korea at the time – I have no idea how long this sort of thing takes. I suspect that there’ll either be celebrations or protests in the streets, depending on the conclusion of it all.)

  2. @kathodus

    I’d be interested in Cora’s answer as well. At least one answer I’ve read recently:

    US versus German Manufacturing

    The meat as regards Germany doesn’t appear until deep in the article. Bear in mind the author, Steve Denning, tends to hyperfocus on certain issues, like the damage done by shareholder value as a metric, to the exclusion of other factors. Still there is a lot of his viewpoint I agree with generally. There a more detailed analysis I’ve read recently that really fleshes out the premise here but I can’t find it at the moment.

  3. @kathodus
    Focussing more on higher quality and specialty products than mass market stuff, which can be made cheaper abroad. I work as a tech translator and a lot of the companies I work for are not mass manufacturers, but mid-sized companies turning out various custom products. More focus on developing innovative products (which the US tech industry excels at, but everybody else not so much).

    Plus, Germany is very global market and export-focussed, whereas the US seems a lot more focussed on the domestic market (well, it is a huge market) to the point of not realising there is a global market. There are US-products I’m sure German consumers would love to buy, but that simply aren’t available here. And if such products become available, they’re usually not products by US manufacturers. For example, the big fridges with integrated ice machines that I first saw in the US more than 25 years ago have started showing up in Germany in the past 5 to 10 years. However, the big fridges available in Germany are all by Asian, usually South Korean manufacturers, as well as the occasional German appliance company.

    Though IMO the biggest factor that allowed Germany to retain more manufacturing jobs than other western countries (though we also had a massive wave of closures and soaring unemployment as old industries vanished in the 1970s and 1980s) is the job training and apprenticeship system. The overwhelming majority of German manufacturing jobs (and also a lot of mid-level white collar jobs) are done by people with a high school level education. However, after finishing high school pretty much everybody not university-bound starts a three-year apprenticeship, which combines on the job training with vocational schooling. Apprentices do get paid, but at a lower rate than the regular wage, because they are still in training. After three years, they take an exam and receive a journeyman diploma and are fully qualified workers. A lot of people stop at the journeyman level. However, some go further, because they want to become a foreman or open their own plumber’s or mechanic’s or hairstylist’s shop. They have to take more classes and do another exam to get a master diploma. The vocational training system is a holdover from the medieval guild era, but amazingly it works and turns out skilled workers without requiring everybody to go to college. Plus, university education at state universities is either fairly cheap or free up to the first degree, unlike the US where college is hugely expensive.

  4. @Stoic Cynic
    I can’t read the article, because Forbes won’t let me in, but yes, extreme focus on shareholder value to the exclusion of everything else is a problem as well.

  5. @Cora

    Though the article has a lot more to say, as regards to Germany this is probably the core of it:

    Studies show that the USA lost proportionately more manufacturing jobs than comparable countries. For instance, between 2000 and 2009, U.S. lost 33% of its manufacturing jobs, while Germany only lost 11%. Why?

    Like the U.S., Germany has generally played by the rules of the global trade system. But unlike the U.S., many German firms are privately owned. Not surprisingly, they rarely emulated U.S. firms in the pursuit of “maximizing shareholder value as reflected in the current stock price”—an idea that even Jack Welch has called “the dumbest idea in the world.” Private owners of firms can see that a sharp focus on short-term profits hinders the creation of long-term wealth. They have no interest in financial engineering gadgets, like share buybacks, to make the firm’s shares appear to be doing better than they really are.

    Moreover, Germany significantly boosted efforts to create a context for innovation throughout the 2000s, steadily bolstering the competitiveness of their manufacturing sector. Germany set about enacting a range of comprehensive economic reforms to increase the competitiveness of Germany’s economy throughout the 2000s, including making its tax code more competitive, increasing investment in apprenticeship programs, increasing investment in in industrially relevant applied R&D, and during the Great Recession introducing the short-time work program rather than firing workers outright as often happened in the US…

  6. I agree with the private ownership thing. There are plenty of publicly traded companies in Germany, including big employers like the various car makers, but there are also a lot of privately owned companies of various sizes. And in addition to the fact that private owner often have more of a longterm view, a lot of these companies are also small to mid-size and therefore more nimble.

    The economic reforms of the 1990s and early 2000s, though not exactly popular in the country itself, certainly helped. However, short-time work has been around since the 1950s (longer, if you count some predecessors in the 1910s and 1920s), even though there were some changes in the 2000s to make it easier and more profitable for companies.

  7. @Peer Sylvester

    Sorry for the delay. I’ve had a major issue to deal with. Secondarily, I didn’t want to sacrifice consideration for speed.

    The virtue being signaled is one of unquestioning, reflexive leftism.

    The OP took two events that are at the very best tangentially related and used them to emote a political preference. Even Mr. Priest acknowledges the tenuousness of this connection.

    Our move away from Devon is not directly connected with Trump, of course, but our decision to move came after the full impact of the depressing Brexit vote began to sink in, and while Trump’s revolting election campaign was at its height. Maybe these two signal events of 2016 had an influence on our choice, but we maintain our motives are positive, not an instinct to try to flee. Devon is itself something of a refuge, of course, a place of presumed safety some people move to as an escape from the harsher realities of the modern world.

    Note for the one or two folks that might find the above troubling, my criticism of Mr. Priest’s expression of unquestioning, reflexive leftism should not be taken as any sort of criticism on thoughtful leftist perspectives. There’s quite a bit of that about as well.

    Regards,
    Dann

  8. Sort of depends on perception, I suppose.

    I’d call it a vice. But the more frequent/prominent practitioners would probably demure from that perspective.

  9. “The virtue being signaled is one of unquestioning, reflexive leftism.”

    It was!? I read the text and thought it was written by a moderate conservative. But I have no idea what political ideology he belongs to. The only thing that was clear was that he didn’t belong to the more extreme right.

  10. Ah yes, the political positions held by Christopher Priest are both reflexive and unquestioning. It’s obvious to me now.

    It’s such a pity that he hadn’t developed his opinions in previous writings, and that there’s no sign of him examining such things in his fiction, otherwise he’d be able to defend himself against this conclusion. Poor Christopher Priest, exposed as an unthinking virtue-signaller right before our eyes.

  11. Dann: The virtue being signaled is one of unquestioning, reflexive leftism.

    Yeah, your arguments here used to be pretty rational, but you’ve jumped the shark now.

    Unless you’re a mind-reader, you can’t say that, because it’s certainly not apparent from the text you quoted. And as Mark-kitteh says, anyone who’s read some of Priest’s writing knows that he’s done plenty of questioning (even if I don’t necessarily agree with some of the answers he comes up with).

    I suggest you stick to describing your own motives, instead of making shit up about others’ motives just to suit your political agenda.

  12. Sort of depends on perception, I suppose.
    I’d call it a vice. But the more frequent/prominent practitioners would probably demure from that perspective.

    So its not a virtue? Make up your mind!
    Point is: I dont think there was “virtue signaling” in this post. It may or not be hyerbole or he connected things that were not connected or he thought he shared his uneasyness with the readers, which argubly is what blogs were invented for. He didnt use virtue signaling.

    And BTW if your definition of “leftist” is “someone who opposes Trump”, then Jeb Bush and Megan Kelly (and German Conservative Leader Angela Merkel) are all “Leftist”. (and by the standard of “opposes leading conservative power = leftist” then your founding fathers were all leftists). Is that what American Conservativsm is now? “Never question the leader, as long as he is conservative and destroy the leader if he is not”? That is what I call “reflexive”. But that is just me.

  13. Brexit wasn’t a strictly left/right division either. The Tory party has been divided on Europe for decades, and now the Labour party is.

  14. Here are my parting thoughts in this thread. I’m sure I’ll see y’all elsewhere.

    I do not consider virtue signaling to be entirely the province of the left. Y’all should see my social media feeds. Erg. I challenge those folks from time to time as well.

    I have not made any broad scale observations about Mr. Priest. I have questioned his statement in the referenced blog post. Mike questioned it in the original citation above. In the section I quoted, Mr. Priest, his own self, minimized any connection between Mr. Trump’s election and the decision to change environs.

    I would point out that Mr. Priest does modestly lament the economic growth in Devon that apparently is changing the character of the city. He pointed out new “housing estates” and the introduction of shopping centers. I’m not sure if his reference to “housing estates” is to apartments for rent, or to “council estates” that are housing for the poor. In either case, apparently he disapproves of economic development that allows more Britons to enjoy a less urban lifestyle at a reasonable cost. (To be fair, Mr. Priest also discounts those issues in his blog post as well.)

    What I have not seen is any defense of Mr. Priest’s original assertion. Is the relatively trivial distance that he is moving a proportionate response to Mr. Trump’s election? Or was he just looking for an opportunity to emote “Trump bad – Me mad”?

    (Hey! He wrote the book which was the basis for The Prestige??!!? Very cool.)

    I have not engaged in purposeful misreadings of your responses. I have not offered veiled suggestions about your knowledge of the world (or lack thereof). I have not engaged in name-calling.

    Let’s not waste an opportunity!

    The responses I’ve read illustrate why Mr. Trump was elected*. The inability to focus on the topic at hand and instead resort to purposeful misreadings and (mildly in this case) personal attacks has become de rigueur on the left. As Zoe Saldana recently pointed out, the left has become enamored with bullying rather than discussion. Civil discussion is in peril when such tactics invoke the prisoner’s dilemma.

    Lastly regarding perspectives on the political “middle”. If someone advocating a slight reduction in the size and scope of government is considered extreme, then there is an Overton window in dire need of maintenance.

    See y’all in another thread.

    Regards,
    Dann

    *A reminder – I didn’t vote for him and I’m largely dismayed at the prospect of our first Twitter-in-Chief.

  15. In the UK context, a housing estate is any substantial development of new housing, probably for sale. It’s unlikely to be a reference to council estates as what is now called “social housing” is rarely/never placed in large homogenous estates any more.

    As for the rest, people may scroll up.

  16. Dann:

    “The responses I’ve read illustrate why Mr. Trump was elected*. The inability to focus on the topic at hand and instead resort to purposeful misreadings and (mildly in this case) personal attacks has become de rigueur on the left.”

    Well… Trump was elected as president by the right after a whole campaign based on bullying and personal attacks. So as to where it has become de rigueur…

    ” If someone advocating a slight reduction in the size and scope of government is considered extreme, then there is an Overton window in dire need of maintenance.”

    Absolutely. The whole policy of the republican right should be placed somewhere between radical and unthinkable – just as it is in the rest of the industrialized world.

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