Pixel Scroll 2/23/20 Old Possum’s Scroll Of Practically Universal Robotic Cats

(1) DITMAR NOMINATIONS OPEN. Nominations for the 2020 Australian SF (“Ditmar”) awards are open until one minute before midnight Perth time on Sunday, March 1, 2020 (ie. 11.59 p.m., GMT+8). The current rules, including Award categories can be found at: here.

You must include your name with any nomination. Nominations will be accepted only from natural persons active in fandom, or from full or supporting members of Swancon 2020, the 2020 Australian National SF Convention.

A partial and unofficial eligibility list, to which everyone is encouraged to add, can be found here.

(2) NAACP IMAGE AWARDS. Genre triumphed: “Jordan Peele and Lupita Nyong’o Win Big for Us at NAACP Image Awards”ComicBook.com has the story.

After many thought Lupita Nyongo’o and Jordan Peele were snubbed from Oscar nominations this year for their work on Us, the duo ended up winning big at the NAACP Image Awards. By the time the annual gala was over Saturday night, Peele had won Outstanding Writing In A Motion Picture while Nyong’o won Outstanding Actress In A Motion Picture.

…Despite receiving zero nominations at the 92nd Academy Awards, the Peele-directed horror flick also managed to win big elsewhere this awards season. Peele won Best Director at this summer’s Saturn Awards while Nyong’o won Best Actress with the Hollywood Critics Association and more. As a whole, the movie’s biggest award came during the Critics’ Choice Awards, where it won Best Sci-fi/Horror movie.

(3) ORIGINAL COMICS ART ON THE BLOCK. Heritage Auctions is in the internet bidding phase of its 2020 March 5 – 8 Comics & Comic Art Signature Auction – Dallas #7224. This Spider-Man cover has already been bid up to $135,000.

John Romita Sr. Amazing Spider-Man #51 Cover Kingpin Original Art (Marvel, 1967). One of the finest Amazing Spider-Man covers we have ever had! It was the Kingpin’s very first cover appearance, and it set the image of the character in many fan’s heads for decades to come….

(4) SEND THE TARDIS TO DUBLIN. Nicholas Whyte wishes Doctor Who spent more time in Ireland – like any at all. He has written a rundown on the Irishness of the TV show, book adaptations, audio dramas, and comics. You might say there is more green in Tom Baker’s trademark scarf than the rest of the show combined.

It is a sad fact that up to the present day (choosing my words *very* carefully here), not a single second of TV screen time on the show, or any of its spinoffs, has been set in Ireland. Indeed, hitherto the Doctor spent more televised time in Hungary than on the Emerald Isle (special prize if you know what story I am referring to). A couple of confused characters do wonder if Gallifrey, the home planet of the Time Lords, may be in Ireland, but that’s as close as we get.

However, the real life relationship between Doctor Who and Ireland is much stronger. Tenth Doctor David Tennant’s grandmother was from Northern Ireland – his grandfather was a professional footballer, whose record of 57 goals for Derry City in a single season still stands. Lalla Ward, who played the second incarnation of Romana and was briefly married to Fourth Doctor Tom Baker, is the daughter of the 7th Viscount Bangor; their family home was Castle Ward in County Down, better known to Game of Thrones fans as Winterfell.

And lucky kids in Belfast and Derry were thrilled one day in 1978 when the Fourth Doctor himself turned up at their school…

(5) CHEWHACKA. ComicBook.com points readers to a video that teaches how “Disneyland Guests Unlock Secret ‘Chewbacca Mode’ on Millenium Falcon Ride, and You Can Too”.

…The hack has to be done like an old video game cheat code. You need to make certain inputs by a certain time in order to bring “Chewie mode” online. Here is a video and written instruction from the FreshBaked YouTube Channel, which specializes in Disneyland tips and tricks:

(6) TRIBBLES BY THE NUMBERS. Although now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall, that wasn’t enough. Ars Technica learned that scientists wanted the answer to yet another question: “Physics undergrads crunched numbers for Star Trek’s tribble problem”.

Chalk this one up to fun scientific papers we inexplicably missed last year. A group of undergraduates at the University of Leicester in the UK calculated the growth rate of the fictional Star Trek critters known as tribbles. They published their results in a short paper in the university’s undergraduate-centric Journal of Physics Special Topics, estimating just how long it would take for there to be enough tribbles to fill up the USS Enterprise….

(7) VENUSIAN ROVER DESIGN CHALLENGE. NASA is summoning the public to help create new technology for a mission to a “hellish” planet: “Exploring Hell: Avoiding Obstacles on a Clockwork Rover”.

…Imagine a world hot enough to turn lead into a puddle, where the atmospheric pressure can crush a nuclear-powered submarine. Now imagine sending a rover to explore that world. 

Venus, ancient sister of Earth with a planetary environment just this side of hellish, has been visited by a handful of probes since the early days of space flight.  Of the many missions to our celestial neighbor, only about a dozen have made contact with the surface of the planet. The longest-lived landers only managed to function for a couple of hours before succumbing to the relentlessly oppressive heat and pressure.

… Current, state-of-the-art, military-grade electronics fail at approximately 125°C, so mission scientists at JPL have taken their design cues from a different source: automatons and clockwork operations. Powered by wind, the AREE mission concept is intended to spend months, not minutes, exploring the landscape of our sister world. Built of advanced alloys, AREE will be able to collect valuable long-term longitudinal scientific data utilizing both indirect and direct sensors.

As the rover explores the surface of Venus, collecting and relaying data to an orbiter overhead, it must also detect obstacles in its path like rocks, crevices, and steep terrain. To assist AREE on its groundbreaking mission concept, JPL needs an equally groundbreaking obstacle avoidance sensor, one that does not rely on vulnerable electronic systems. For that reason, JPL is turning to the global community of innovators and inventors to design this novel avoidance sensor for AREE. JPL is interested in all approaches, regardless of technical maturity.

This sensor will be the primary mechanism by which the potential rover would detect and navigates through dangerous situations during its operational life. By sensing obstacles such as rocks, crevices, and inclines, the rover would then navigate around the obstruction, enabling the rover to continue to explore the surface of Venus and collect more observational data.

CNN assures everyone:

Don’t have an engineering degree? Doesn’t matter. Never seen a spacecraft in real life? No problem.

“JPL is interested in all approaches, regardless of technical maturity,” NASA said.

The 1st-place winner of the design contest will get up to $15,000, the 2nd-place winner will get up to $10,000, and the 3rd-place winner will get $5,000.


  • February 23, 1935 The Phantom Empire premiered.  It was a Western serial film with elements of SF and musical theater as well. It was directed by Otto Brower and B. Reeves Eason. It starred the singing cowboy himself Gene Autry along with Frankie Darro and Betsy King Ross. In 1940, a feature film edited from the serial was released as either Radio Ranch or Men with Steel Faces. It was a box office success earning back its seventy-five thousand dollar budget.  The very few audience members who gave it a rating at Rotten Tomatoes didn’t like it hence the 27% rating there. You can see the first chapter here.
  • February 23, 1954 Rocky Jones, Space Ranger premiered. This was the first science fiction television show to be entirely pre-filmed (instead of being televised live as was the case with Captain Video, Buck Rogers and Tom Corbett.) It was also the first to use sets of unusual good quality, live location shoots, and rather decent special effects. Rocky Jones was played by Richard Crane. It was created by Roland D. Reed and written by Warren Wilson, Arthur Hoerl and Marianne Mosner, with Hollingsworth Morse being the director. It lasted but two seasons as it never really caught on with the public. Story wise, it actually had a great deal of continuity built into it, unlike almost all of the other series at the time. Its thirty-nine episodes, each twenty-five minutes in length, aired originally between February 23rd and November 16th, 1954. You can see the first episode here.
  • February 23, 1978 Quark was slotted in on NBC as a mid-season replacement series. Yes, the pilot aired on May 7, 1977, so technically that it’s birthday but let’s skip past that please. It was created by Buck Henry, co-creator of Get Smart. The series starred Richard Benjamin, Tim Thomerson, Richard Kelton, Tricia Barnstable and Cyb Barnstable. It specialized in satirizing popular SF series and films — the Wiki article states that three episodes were based upon actualTrek episodes, though that can’t be confirmed. It lasted but eight episodes beating Space Rangers by two episodes in longevity. You can see the first episode here. here.


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 23, 1564 Christopher Marlowe. Author of Doctor Faustus (or The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus.  Elizabeth Bear made him a character in her Stratford Man series which is Ink and Steel and Hell and Earth novels which I highly recommend. If you’ve not read them, the Green Man review is here. (Died 1593.)
  • Born February 23, 1915 Jon Hall. Frank Raymond in Invisible Agent and The Invisible Man’s Revenge. He was also the creator and star of the Ramar of the Jungle series. And he directed and starred in The Beach Girls and the Monster and The Navy vs. the Night Monsters. (Died 1979.)
  • Born February 23, 1930 Gerry Davis. Mid-Sixties story editor on Doctor Who where he created companion Jamie McCrimmon and co-created the Cybermen along with unofficial scientific adviser Dr. Kit Pedler. They would create the Doomwatch series that ran in the Sixties on BBC. Davis briefly returned to writing for the series, penning the first script for Revenge of the Cybermen, though his script was largely abandoned by editor Robert Holmes. In 1989 he and Terry Nation, who created the Daleks, made a failed bid to take over production of the series and reformat it for the American market. (Died 1991.)
  • Born February 23, 1932 Majel Barrett. No doubt best remembered for being  Nurse Christine Chapel and Lwaxana Troi as well as for being the voice of most of the ship computer interfaces throughout the series. I’ll note that she was originally cast as Number One in the unused Pilot but the male studio heads hated the idea of a female in that role. Early Puppies obviously. (Died 2008.)
  • Born February 23, 1965 Jacob Weisman, 55. Founder, Tachyon Publications, which you really should go look at as they’ve published every great author I’d care to read. Seriously Tidhar, Beagle and Yolen are among their newest releases! He also edited (with Beagle) The New Voices of Fantasy which I highly recommend as most excellent reading.
  • Born February 23, 1983 Emily Blunt, 37. Her most direct connection to the genre is as Elise Sellas in the Adjustment Bureau film based off Dick’s “Adjustment Team” story. Mind, she’s been in quite a number of other genre films including The WolfmanGulliver’s Travels, Gnomeo & Juliet, The Muppets, Looper, Edge of Tomorrow, Into the Woods, The Huntsman: Winter’s WarThe Strange Case of Sherlock Holmes & Arthur Conan Doyle, and Mary Poppins Returns.
  • Born February 23, 2002 Emilia Jones, 18. I’m reasonably sure this is the youngest Birthday individual that I’ve done.  She shows up on Doctor Who as Merry Gejelh, The Queen of Years, in the “The Rings of Akhaten”, an Eleventh Doctor story. At nine years of age, she’s made her acting debut in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides as an unnamed English Girl. She’s Young Beth in the horror film Ghostland. She’s currently in Residue, an SF horror series you can find on Netflix. 


  • And let’s catch up with Tom Gauld –

(11) LEAP BEER. On February 29 Ology Brewing Company in Tallahassee, Florida will combine the debut of their Tropical Habitat beer – “inspired by the Southern Reach trilogy” – with a book signing by Jeff VanderMeer.

To honor our friendship with Jeff VanderMeer, Tallahassee resident and author of the Southern Reach Trilogy, we are releasing Tropical Habitat, a tropical, otherworldly Hazy Double IPA at a special Book Signing and Meet & Greet event alongside the release of three other beers (Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout, Barrel-Aged American Sour, and Fruit Beer).

A portion of Tropical Habitat sales (both cans and tap pours) will benefit the Friends of St. Marks Wildlife Refuge (The Salamander Project) and honor the setting of the trilogy book series and one of our team’s favorite places – the North Florida Coast.

(12) BEHIND THE VEIL. Cora Buhlert put up another evaluation of a Retro-eligible work: “Retro Review: ‘The Veil of Astellar’ by Leigh Brackett”. BEWARE SPOILERS.

Uncommon for Leigh Brackett, “The Veil of Astellar” begins with a framing story about a manuscript found inside a message rocket sent to the Interworld Space Authority headquarters on Mars. This manuscript offers an explanation of the space phenomenon called “the Veil” which comes out of nowhere and swallows spaceships in the asteroid belt. The space police officers are initially sceptical about the account, but eventually manage to determine that it is authentic. Furthermore, the much feared Veil has vanished and the message inside the rocket explains why….

(13) HEARTFIELD CLASS. Cat Rambo shared “Highlights from Writing Interactive Fiction,” taught online by Kate Heartfield.  Thread starts here.

(14) QUINN AGAIN, BEGIN AGAIN. A.V.Club: “DC Universe’s Harley Quinn is coming back for another season in April”.

We’re going through a Harley Quinnaissance at the moment, even if Birds Of Preydidn’t light up the box office, and it looks like DC Universe is eager to keep it going. As announced on Twitter, the streaming service (which still exists and has yet to be swallowed up by HBO Max!) will already be getting a new season of the Harley Quinn animated series in April. The first season just premiered at the end of 2019, so this will be a surprisingly short wait for a chance to hear more DC comic book characters say “fuck” and get beat up in surprisingly violent ways. Also, maybe this time Harley and Poison Ivy will end up together? Or maybe they won’t and that’s okay too? Either way, DC Universe has to hold onto something that fans want to see, or else HBO Max will just quietly roll up and take over. Then Harley Quinn’s going to have to hang out with the Friendsinstead of Poison Ivy, and nobody wants that.

(15) IF YOU DON’T SLING THE LINGO. BBC asks: “Dubs or subs? Parasite renews debate on how to watch foreign films”.

The South Korean dark comedy film Parasite had a historic awards season sweep – and in the process, reignited the debate over whether subtitles or dubbing is the best way to watch a movie that isn’t in your native language.

As director Bong Joon Ho accepted the first-ever best foreign language picture Golden Globe for a South Korean film, he said: “Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.”

Fast forward a month, and he was making history again, accepting the best picture award once more at the Oscars. Parasite’s Oscar win introduced it to a broad US audience – but not everyone was in favour of watching the award winner in its original language.

Dubbing takes the stress out of enjoying a foreign film, some argued, and performances are meant to be heard, not read. The angered response from subtitle fans ranged from accusations of racism to pointing out the needs of deaf viewers.

How you watch a foreign film is a clearly personal matter, tangled in pet peeves and accessibility. But as foreign flicks are gaining more screen time before American audiences, here’s a deeper dive into how we got here, and where the industry is headed.

In the early days of film, on-screen text was far from a “one-inch barrier” – it was the only way to express dialogue. Title cards were the precursor to subtitles, and they, too, were controversial in a way that mirrors the modern debate.

Stage actors would try to hide their work in silent film as many felt the lack of sound diminished the quality of the performance, Professor Marsha McKeever, academic director of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, told the BBC.

(16) THE CALL OF THE UNWILD. Yours truly used to live a few blocks from where this happened: “Wild bear roams streets of California neighbourhood” (video). The bears didn’t come down to our block, but coyotes, skunks, and possums did.

A wild bear has been sedated and captured after it was seen roaming in a residential area in Monrovia, California.

The 28.3 stone (180kg) elderly female walked through residential areas close to Angeles National Forest.

A mild California winter could be a possible reason for the sighting, as warmer weather causes bears to leave their dens in search of food.

(17) HOMEMADE ASTRONAUT AND ROUND EARTH SKEPTIC DIES. The earth may not be flat, but now he is: “‘Mad’ Mike Hughes dies after crash-landing homemade rocket”.

A US daredevil pilot has been killed during an attempted launch of a homemade rocket in the Californian desert.

“Mad” Mike Hughes, 64, crash-landed his steam-powered rocket shortly after take-off near Barstow on Saturday.

A video on social media shows a rocket being fired into the sky before plummeting to the ground nearby.

Hughes was well-known for his belief that the Earth was flat. He hoped to prove his theory by going to space.

Video at TMZ.

(18) SEEKER. BrainPickings’ Maria Popova delves into Brian Greene’s book Until the End of Time: Mind, Matter, and Our Search for Meaning in an Evolving Universe: “Until the End of Time: Physicist Brian Greene on the Poetry of Existence and the Wellspring of Meaning in Our Ephemeral Lives Amid an Impartial Universe”.

…Although science is Greene’s raw material in this fathoming — its histories, its theories, its triumphs, its blind spots — he emerges, as one inevitably does in contemplating these colossal questions, a testament to Einstein’s conviction that “every true theorist is a kind of tamed metaphysicist.”

(19) TRANSFORMATIVE EXPERIENCE. Jeffrey Lyles succumbs to the Hasbro advertising — “Check out the incredible trailer for Transformers: War For Cybertron Trilogy: Siege” – at Lyles Movie Files.

I’ve been impressed with my ability to not get sucked into Hasbro’s Transformers’ Siege line. Those figures really look impressive, but I’m trying to keep my Transformers purchases to the Masterpiece line. But now with the release of Netflix’s Transformers: War for Cybertron Trilogy trailer, I’m thinking my resolve is about to crumble especially given how good this series looks.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit goes o File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

56 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 2/23/20 Old Possum’s Scroll Of Practically Universal Robotic Cats

  1. (4) I was going to mention the Fourth Doctor’s publicity visit to Belfast – but then the last paragraph mentioned it, so I won’t. At least [rot13] gur zbfg erprag rcvfbqr bs “Qbpgbe Jub” unq fprarf vzcyvrq gb or gnxvat cynpr va Verynaq [/rot13]

  2. @KasaObake
    Oh, definitely. And best if they use the script so we don’t get auto-generated nonsense. (I have enough trouble hearing without dealing with music/explosions/screaming going on at the same time.)

  3. @9 (Marlowe) is probably used in a lot of genre works; I’ll point to Ford’s The Scholars of Night, which re-argues the question of whether there was more than a simple tavern brawl in his death. The obvious genre elements are initially all technothriller, but it gets weirder from there; it’s also almost bleak enough to make Le Carré curl up in a corner mumbling to himself.

    @9 (Barrett): I’m not sure it’s fair to call the Paramount execs proto-Puppies; that was half a century ago — practically in Mad Men territory, when assumptions about female unfitness for management were the environment rather than the competition. Pulling that a decade later might have had consequences.

    @11: I’ll pass; Southern Reach was way beyond me, and I have unprintable opinions about modern hops and deliberately-hazy beers. Good fun for them as likes it…

    @16: were the other critters running from the bear, or just visiting otherwise? I haven’t seen raccoons since leaving Brookline (where I was living next to a park), but rabbits are common here.

    @17: harsh, but cruel — but just…

    @subheads: the problem is that subtitles frequently don’t have the complete script, which can affect the flavor. My French is rusty enough that I can no longer be sure, but I remember watching Rohmer films a decade or more ago and tracking how much of the dialog didn’t appear in the subtitles.

    edit: fifth!

  4. Nominations will be accepted only from natural persons active in fandom

    What fresh gate-keeping hell is this? Is “natural persons” some special phrase in Australia, or are they trying to exclude ghosts and vampires? And how, exactly, does one determine if someone is “active in fandom”? Did someone invent a fanacometer when I wasn’t looking? 🙂

  5. Xtifr: Is “natural persons” some special phrase in Australia, or are they trying to exclude ghosts and vampires?

    Hey, that’s funny. But “natural persons” is a legal term used to distinguish individual human beings from corporations, trusts, and other legal entities, or government organizations.

    The object may be to keep clubs and conrunning corporations from having a right to vote. Or stuffed animals, for that matter. (There is a tradition among a few fen of buying memberships for their stuffies or pets.)

  6. Xtifr: Is “natural persons” some special phrase in Australia, or are they trying to exclude ghosts and vampires?

    “Natural person” is a legal term meaning a human individual, as opposed to a “legal person” which could be something like the Melbourne SF Club. WSFS uses this term for the Hugos, because they had publishers who would buy a handful of attending memberships for their employees in the name of the publishing company, and they are required to provide individual names for those memberships in order for them to be able to submit nominations and vote.

    As far as the “active in fandom” thing, the rules say:
    Nominations will be accepted only from natural persons active in fandom, or from full or supporting members of the national convention of the year of the award. Where a nominator may not be known to the Awards subcommittee, the nominator should provide the name of someone known to the subcommittee who can vouch for the nominator’s eligibility.

    So they do it the same way the Fan Funds do, where they may ask a nominator to provide a fannish reference if no one in the organization recognizes a nominator’s name.

  7. Ah, now that you guys mention it, I am familiar with that sense of “natural person”. I guess I just wasn’t expecting it in this context.

    I guess the fan activity thing makes sense too, though it does still make me a little uncomfortable. Ah well, I guess I’m just going to have to wait a bit longer to see my first working fanacometer. 🙂


  8. @KasaObake & P J Evans: Nearly always I would agreed with you, but I did find ONE anime where the dub was better than the subs: “Baccano!”. For this anime set in Prohibition era Chicago, they used actual Chicago actors. The result is absolutely brilliant.

  9. As far as the “active in fandom” thing, the rules say:
    Nominations will be accepted only from natural persons active in fandom, or from full or supporting members of the national convention of the year of the award.

    The “or” there seems to imply that anyone can nomiate if they purchase a membership, but people who know the committe or can provide a letter of introduction can nominate even without a membership. Or am I reading it wrong? Is the “active in fandom” part also a requirement for people with a convention membership – i.e. you can’t nominate if participating in the convention is your first meeting with fandom?

  10. Johan, it’s either people who are known to be involved in fandom, OR people who’ve purchased a con membership. Which makes sense, it keeps any rando with no connection to fandom from barging in and getting their work nominated. If someone’s bought a membership to the convention, then they’re “involved” in fandom.

  11. 15) The main problem I have with subtitles is that they distract me from the visuals. I find this even when we have subtitles on English-language shows to understand difficult-to-distinguish dialogue.

  12. (15) Subtitles: Yeah, it would depend on how fast you can read and comprehend.

    (17) snorfle Ah, black humor.

    I guess the Darwin Awards has found its first entrant for this year.

  13. @Cliff: I found that having subtitles on “all the time” eventually trained my brain sufficiently to be able to absorb the text as part of the image. It did take a few years though! And it’s now disconcerting not to have it at the bottom of the screen… (And no, I am not suggesting that it’s a panacea. I hate self-help advice that fails to understand that you are not me.)

  14. @Xtifr: the “natural person” rule (currently 4.3 and 6.2 in the WSFS constitution) has a long history; I know it was not in effect for Noreascon Two (1980) but may have been moved at that year’s business meeting due to concom queasiness over somebody buying a membership for their pet rock. No, I don’t know what that person’s intent was, but IIRC the membership was sold on the condition that its holder not vote (and/or that its holder’s custodian not vote on its behalf?).

  15. (8) IMDB says Quark also got most of its sound effects from the original Star Trek. Makes sense as there hadn’t been all that many SF shows on to steal from by 1977.

    (9) It was also Terence Fisher’s birthday. He directed a lot of the classic Hammer movies. His films included such SF titles as Four Sided Triangle, Spaceways, The Earth Dies Screaming, and Night of the Big Heat (aka Island of the Burning Damned)

    I like the Marlowe in Upstart Crow who is occasionally given plays that Shakespeare has written.

    (17) I’m sure the conspiracy theory people will say that Hughes was silenced before he could reveal the truth.

    Dennis Scolley’s The Pixel Rides Out

  16. Bonnie McDaniel: Hmmm. I put asterisks around one word in the comment above and they made italics. I didn’t know this site could do that.

    Neither did I. In fact, in an earlier version of the comment software, if you put an asterisk at the start of a word it would keep the word from appearing at all.

  17. (15) So, I’ve gotten my parents (who are in their 60s) into watching anime – we watch a couple shows on Friday and Saturday nights.

    Generally, I’ve found, that while they’re able to watch anime subtitled, they prefer watching it dubbed, as they have difficulty shifting between the subtitled text and the onscreen action enough to keep track of the dialog and story. We’ve made some exceptions for a few shows (Lupin the Third, Shirobako, Today’s Menu for the Emiya Family), but they’ve found they’re able to get more out of the story with the dub.

  18. This is going to sound like a “reading protocols” comment, but for movies/TV: enjoying subtitled movies is a skill that can be learned.

    I grew up watching TV with subtitles (sometimes multiple), like a Chinese movie would have Chinese subtitles so speakers of a different could follow the plot, plus English subtitles for non-Chinese speakers. Sometimes it could be hard trying to follow any action that happened at the bottom of the screen.

    I also grew up reading comics, so the whole reading words while looking at visuals was easy to do. I think both contribute to my preference for subtitles.

  19. Re Quark: one of the Barnstable twins (I forget which one) lives just down the road from me in Louisville (Cherokee Road gets posher the further you go). She co-hosts the annual Barnstable-Brown gala (she married into the very wealthy Brown family of Kentucky), one of the most prestigious of the Kentucky Derby parties. Trish and Cyb were one of a series of Doublemint Twins (“Double your pleasure, double your fun”) in TV commercials for the chewing gum prior to Quark. For the record, I’ve never been invited nor stood in the celebrity-gawking area, though I have been known to complain about the traffic.

  20. I found that asterisks made italics a month or so ago, but didn’t say anything because I figured everybody would say, “Duh, of course they do, where have you been?”

    Makes doing book and movie titles easy.

  21. (Title): I know Japan’s Doraemon is a robotic cat (time traveling from the future). Are there other robotic cats in the literature?

  22. It’s especially useful since the Italics button is still hidden by the word “Comment”, at least for me.

    (Do underscores also work?)

    Edit: Yes, they do.

  23. (Title): I know Japan’s Doraemon is a robotic cat (time traveling from the future). Are there other robotic cats in the literature?

    Cue Logan Whitehurst (music robot cat, rather than literature)

  24. The problem with subtitles is it means you have to put down your book to follow the story of the show or movie! That’s unacceptable! 😀

    (That is actually a very minor–but nonzero–concern of mine.)

    Anyway, I don’t think there is an answer to sub v. dub. It depends on the work and a wide variety of other factors including your own personal mood that day. Subtitles can be distracting, but so can a bad dub, and bad dubs are extremely common. Which, I think, is a big part of why a lot of people (including me) tend to prefer subtitles. But a good dub (and they do exist) can be wonderful! And bad dubs can sometimes offer their own entertainment value. 🙂

    So, yeah, in general, I prefer subs, but it’s not a hard-and-fast rule for me.

  25. @Xtifr I’ve found that dubs – at least for animation – have improved a great deal since the Bad Old Days. They’re not all perfect, but they’re getting better (I’m particularly impressed with the dubs for Hero Academia and Yamato 2199).

  26. I generally prefer subs — for one thing, I think I tend to be more forgiving of the vocal performances when I can’t understand the actual language.

    Also, for live action stuff, lip sync issues really bother me. But that’s just me.

    (And I do frequently have subtitles on for English-language audio, especially if I’m going to be watching on my screen in the kitchen a ways away from the speakers, e.g.)

  27. The problem with subtitles is it means you have to put down your book to follow the story of the show or movie! That’s unacceptable! ?

    Years ago I was watching a subtitled movie and was reading the subtitles and listening to the actors emote and I closed my eyes so I could follow the dialogue better and of course suddenly realized I couldn’t actually understand a thing the actors were saying.

    I had gotten so into the movie that I forgot that I was reading the dialogue.

  28. @Alexander Case: Yes, I think there’s been a feedback loop there. Better dubs means bigger audiences means more money means better dubs.

    @Acoustic Rob: I’ve done that once or twice myself. Very disconcerting! The human brain is an odd device. 🙂

    Of course, I’m also used to having closed-captioning on, since my brother has always been very hard of hearing. (And my own hearing is starting to register the effects of all those rock concerts when I was young.) So a lot of the time, I can close my eyes, even though I was reading the dialog, and still understand.

  29. @Mike et al —

    Fun fact: if you use two asterisks before and after, you make the word bold.

    Ooooooo, ahhhhhhhh.


  30. 😉

    I found these things out by accident. I developed the habit of using asterisks around a word for emphasis back in the day when message boards and so on didn’t have this hifalutin’ newfangled html folderol — and like magic, when I did that here I magically attained bolds and italics! Shazam!

  31. Soon Lee said “I also grew up reading comics, so the whole reading words while looking at visuals was easy to do.”

    This makes perfect sense to me and explains why I don’t like watching with subtitles. I didn’t grow up reading comics, I always said the pictures got in my way. When I watch a show with subtitles all I see is the words and the pictures fade away. I think you hit on the reason.

  32. BGrandrath,

    Yes, comics have their own reading protocols too. Like the ones in English are read left to right from the top of the page then down to the next row of panels, much in the same way that prose is read.

    Within each panel, the same typical approach applies, so the word balloon at the top left happens chronologically before e.g. the word balloon at the bottom right. And in the same way writers of novels can play with reader expectations, for example, by presenting chapters out of chronological order, comics creators can do the same by unexpected placement of word balloons.

    (I find this sort of thing fascinating.)

  33. 15, @Cliff, @David Brain:

    I pretty much grew up with subtitles and (most of the time) don’t find them distracting. Unless! The odd corner case when I’m watching something in a spoken language I know, with subtitles in a language I almost know, at which point it’s one of “cover the subs”, “miss most of the speech”, or “do something else”, as I am seemingly incapable of not reading the subs.

    I much prefer subs to dubs, so I would definitely say “subs are better than dubs for me”, but each and every person needs to make that decision for themselves.

    I do think “reading subtitles” is a learnable skill, and while I am extremely happy I have spent that time, I don’t know that I would, had I not already done it. However, sub-titling is a lot cheaper and quicker than dubbing, so with “subs”, there’s a larger corpus of “AV media in non-native language” available, than there is for dubbed material.

  34. The natural-persons rule made it into the WSFS Constitution following the 1990 Worldcon (ConFiction), as a fallout from the highly-contested four-way Worldcon site selection race including the strong (finished second behind San Francisco but ahead of Phoenix and Zagreb) write-in bid for Hawaii. When a member brought her stuffed companion (who had a voting membership) to vote, a dispute broke out about whether it could be cast for anything other than No Preference. At the time, the rules were silent on the matter. I understand NESFA would vote on how to cast the club’s votes for site selection and the Hugo Awards. The current rule closes the door on that and forces all such votes for site selection to No Preference and prohibits such votes at all for the Hugo Awards.

    No Preference, as most of you probably know by now, is equivalent to an abstention and does not count against the total ballots cast for the purpose of determining a majority. You could have a thousand No Preference votes, and one vote for Site X, and X wins. Unfortunately, some people seem to get No Preference (abstention) mixed up with None of the Above (opposed to all candidates on the ballot). The main purpose of voting No Preference is that the voter gets access to the least-expensive attending membership price and a supporting membership in that convention without expressing an opinion on the election itself.

    The change was first debated in 1991 (I was a co-author of the original proposal; a reworded version passed nearly unanimously), after which it was ratified in 1992. Thus the first Worldcon affected by it was 1993 (ConFrancisco), which was poetically appropriate given that it was the election for that year that triggered the debate in the first place.

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