Pixel Scroll 6/12/18 Your Mother Was A Scrollster And Your Father Smelt Of Pixelberries! I File In Your General Direction!

(1) ON WITH THE SHOW, THIS IS IT. Deadline learns “‘Looney Tunes’ Getting Short-Form Revival At WB Animation”.

Warner Bros Animation is creating a new series of short-form cartoons based on the studio’s iconic Looney Tunes Cartoons franchise featuring the likes of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and the gang that will harken to the original Looney Tunes theatrical shorts. The studio said today multiple artists will produce 1-6 minute shorts “written” and drawn by the cartoonists allowing their own personality and style to come through.

The plan is to produce 1,000 minutes each season, with the content to be distributed across multiple platforms including digital, mobile and broadcast…

(2) ADVANCE WORD. “How incredible is Incredibles 2? The critics give their verdicts” in a BBC roundup.

Fourteen years on from The Incredibles, a sequel to Pixar’s hit animation has arrived – and it’s “worth the wait”.

That’s the verdict of the Hollywood Reporter, which praises its “engaging” characters and “deep supply of wit“.

Screen International lauds the film’s “kinetic elan“, while Forbes called it “funny, thoughtful and thrilling”….

(3) GOOD POINT. Concern for passing on a legacy is surprisingly absent from many corners of fandom.

(4) BULLIED. ScreenRant tells the story of “5 Actors Who Were Bullied Off Social Media By Angry Fans.”

Let’s kick this whole thing off with a very obvious and very simple fact that shouldn’t even need stating: Actors are NOT the same as the characters they play. When they’re in movies or television shows, they’re ACTING (the clue is in the word “actor”). And if you’ve ever bullied an actor because of something their CHARACTER did – online or otherwise – you really do need to take a long hard look at yourself! That being said, sadly, cowardly bullying of that nature happens all the time in the modern world – it’s particularly easy to do from behind a computer screen when you have a picture of a cat as your profile picture – and, rather unsurprisingly, the actors on the receiving end don’t like it very it much. In this video, we’ll take a look at five actors who were ruthlessly and senselessly bullied off social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc) by angry so-called “fans” of their movies and TV shows who simply didn’t think before they spoke (N.B. You’re absolutely NOT a fan if you’ve ever done this). The actors in question are; the Star Wars sequel trilogy’s Daisy Ridley, Star Wars: The Last Jedi’s Kelly Marie Tran, Ghostbusters’ Leslie Jones, The Walking Dead’s Josh McDermitt and Game of Thrones’ Faye Marsay.

 

(5) JACKPOT HGHWAY. What do you get when you combine Heinlein’s “Let There Be Light” with “The Roads Must Roll” (give or take a few details)? Roads paved with solar panels! The New York Times has the story — “Free Power From Freeways? China Is Testing Roads Paved With Solar Panels”.

On a smoggy afternoon, huge log carriers and oil tankers thundered down a highway and hurtled around a curve at the bottom of a hill. Only a single, unreinforced guardrail stood between the traffic and a ravine.

The route could make for tough driving under any conditions. But experts are watching it for one feature in particular: The highway curve is paved with solar panels.

“If it can pass this test, it can fit all conditions,” said Li Wu, the chairman of Shandong Pavenergy, the company that made the plastic-covered solar panels that carpet the road. If his product fares well, it could have a major impact on the renewable energy sector, and on the driving experience, too.

(6) EMERGENCY BACKUP SIXTH ITEM. (Someone noticed I left a gap in the numbering.) Syfy Wire calls these The 13 best friendships in sci-fi & fantasy.

As we alluded to earlier, it was Sam who literally carried Frodo at a critical point in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. But Frodo would have been lost to the ring long before that if his best friend hadn’t accompanied him. In terms of trios, Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, and Ron Weasley could face almost anything together. The original Star Trek also had a core trio of friends: Kirk, Spock, and McCoy.

 

(7) ALTERNATE UNIVERSE NEWS. Kevin Lincoln, in “What If Star Wars Never Happened?” at Polygon, has an alternative universe where George Lucas passes on Star Wars to direct Apocalypse Now (which comes out in 1976), which begins a chain of events including the election of Al Gore in 2000 and the non-existence of Netflix.

The 1970s

Hot off the runaway success of 1973’s American Graffiti, which becomes one of the most profitable movies ever made, 29-year-old George Lucas tries to write a script about a moral, expansive universe filled with mysterious power and mythological heroes and villains. The first treatment he produces is, by many accounts, incoherent. Discouraged by the negative response, he decides to take up his friend Francis Ford Coppola’s offer to direct a Vietnam War movie called Apocalypse Now, written by their other friend, John Milius.

Lucas brings the film in on time and just barely over budget, delivering a well-reviewed movie shot in cinema-verite style that draws comparisons to The Battle of Algiers and Z. But audiences are tired of the Vietnam War, which had finally ended in 1975, and when the movie comes out in 1976, it’s a modest success rather than a breakout hit like Graffiti. However, combined with the success of The Godfather II in 1974, it’s enough to impress the holders of the rights to Flash Gordon, who earlier refused Lucas’ offer to adapt the property. They agree to allow him to make a movie based on the character, produced by Coppola.

(8) SNAP, CRACKLE AND PLOT. Atlas Obscura tells about the importance of some low-tech effects: “Why Foley Artists Use Cabbage and Celery to Create Hollywood’s Distinctive Sounds”.

In one of the final scenes of James Cameron’s Titanic, Rose (played by Kate Winslet) clings to a floating headboard, a piece of debris from the shipwreck that claimed over 1500 lives. A delirious Rose, adrift in the freezing ocean, sees a rescue team in the distance and moves her head. As she lifts her frozen hair off the wood, it crackles audibly.

But Rose’s hair never actually crackled, and the sound wasn’t made by hair at all: It was the sound of frozen lettuce being peeled by Foley artists in a studio. While subtle to the ear, and almost unnoticeable amidst the dialogue, score, and other sound effects, the crackle is critical to amplifying the scene’s drama. And it’s the responsibility of Foley artists to forge these unique sounds in post-production, often from lettuce heads, coconuts, and other foods.

It’s an uncharacteristically overcast May day in Culver City, California—an enclave within Los Angeles where many production studios are found. I’m at Sony Pictures, where two of the studio’s resident Foley artists, Robin Harlan and Sarah Monat-Jacobs, recount the struggle to make Rose’s frozen hair sound like frozen hair. First they tried freezing a wig, but that didn’t work. Velcro didn’t do the trick, either. Later, Harlan was at home and, while making herself a sandwich, found that a head of lettuce’s crackle worked perfectly. “They really wanted to hear the sound of frozen hair pulling off of this wood bedstead, but I mean, you can’t really freeze your own head,” says Harlan.

(9) PETERS OBIT. Only just announced… Luan Peters (1946-2017): Actress and singer, died December 24, 2017, aged 71. Genre appearances include Doctor Who (two episodes, 1967 and 1973), Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) (aka My Partner the Ghost, one episode, 1969), Lust for a Vampire, Twins of Evil  (both 1971), The Flesh and Blood Show (1972), Vampira (aka Old Dracula, 1974), Land of the Minotaur (aka The Devil’s Men. 1976).

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • June 12, 1987 Predator premiered on this day
  • June 12, 2012 — Ray Bradbury’s Kaleidoscope went into general release.
  • June 12, 2015 Jurassic World debuted

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Frazz discusses an application of Sturgeon’s Law but Mike Kennedy doesn’t think the math works.
  • Lise Andreasen asks if you can pass all four of the Turing Tests posed in Tom Gauld’s comic?

(12) POINT OF EXCLAMATION. Do not miss Camestros Felapton’s “Beard Subgenres (Crossover event!)” unless you have something important scheduled, like sorting your sock drawer. Just kidding!

Combining our occasional series of pointless infographics, with our occasional series of misclassifying mundane things by sub-genres of SFF and our occasional series of pictures of beards, Felapton Towers presents: beards by subgenres!

(I have no idea how I am going to justify linking to this. There’s not even a cat this time.)

(13) LEVEL-HEADED. This amazing movie technology advance is still news to me – million dollar idea:

instead of spending thousands of dollars on steady-cam equipment, filmmakers should just attach a camera to the head of a chicken and carry the chicken around as you film.

(14) ERRANT PEDANTRY. Marko Kloos volunteered these examples –

(15) TIDHAR. Jonathan Thornton reviews Candy by Lavie Tidhar” at Fantasy-Faction.

Candy is Lavie Tidhar’s first book for children. It is a perfectly pitched noir take on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1964). Its delightful premise following a twelve-year-old private detective in a city where chocolate, candy and sweets are banned. As such the book is both fun and amusing. However, as with Tidhar’s earlier work, his playful approach to genre is in service to the story’s hidden depths. He uses the trappings of noir detective tales to tell a subversive children’s story about corruption, the exploitation of vulnerable communities, and the limits of justice. The end result is a novel that for all its joyous sense of fun still packs a surprising emotional and philosophical punch.

(16) OUTCOME OF SENSITIVITY READ. At The Book Smugglers: “Between the Coats: A Sensitivity Read Changed my Life – an Essay by Sarah Gailey”.

I’m queer, which is why I always thought I’d be dead by now….

… I was a new writer, alien to the writing community, completely unaware of the conversations about queer representation that had been developing for years before I’d thought to write a single word of my story. It didn’t occur to me that queer tragedies like that are part of an agenda, and that the agenda had been working on me for a long time. That agenda had succeeded at keeping me quiet and scared and lonely in ways that I thought were fine, just fine, thanks, how are you? That agenda had succeeded at making me hold my breath. Because of that agenda, I spent my days hoping that no one ever noticed me.

None of that entered my mind, not even once. I thought I was writing in-genre. Fantasy stories have magic. Science fiction stories have rules that I don’t always understand because I somehow got through high school without taking a physics class. Queer stories have death.

And then I got some feedback on the story from a sensitivity reader. They had volunteered to make sure I wasn’t screwing up on a particular point of representation — but they took issue with the story as a whole. They told me emphatically that I should reconsider writing a queer tragedy; that it was a trope, that it was harmful to readers, that it was overused and dangerous. I took the feedback with mortifyingly poor grace. I was lucky enough to be quickly corrected on my behavior. In the wake of that correction, trying to figure out which way was up, I asked friends for help processing the critique.

My straight friends said it was bullshit. They said there was nothing wrong with queer tragedies — that queer people dying again and again was fine. Queer people are just people, and people die, they said. That’s just how it is. Really, it’s best not to overthink it. Go ahead and Forget.

My queer friends didn’t tell me that. Instead, they pointed me to articles and blog posts and callouts pointed at the Bury Your Gays trope. They talked to me about representation with more patience than I deserved. Many of them said that it was okay that I didn’t know, because a lot of straight writers don’t think about these things….

(17) HORRIFIC SCENARIO. In “‘Rosemary’s Baby’ at 50: How the horror classic is more relevant than ever in the #MeToo era”, Yahoo! Entertainment writer Nick Chasger looks at Rosemary’s Baby on its 50th anniversary in the wake of both director Roman Polanski and star Mia Farrow’s role in the #MeToo movement.

Focused on a powerless (and physically slight) female who’s marginalized, assaulted, and controlled in equal measure, Rosemary’s Baby soon becomes a terrifying tale about misogyny’s many guises. As the thing growing in her womb makes her sicker and sicker, her face so ashen that friends can’t help but remark upon it, Rosemary is made to feel crazy as well as helpless. That’s most evident when, after getting into an argument with Guy over her description of Sapirstein as “that nut,” she makes sure to assuage her husband that she’s not going to have an abortion — an option that, it’s clear, she doesn’t have the right to choose, even if she wanted.

(18) VOICE OF COMMAND. A new scheme for playing video games….

For the very first time ever, take your rightful place as the Dragonborn of legend (again) and explore Skyrim using the power of your own voice…your Thu’um!

 

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, ULTRAGOTHA, Steve Green, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Lise Andreasen, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day jayn.]

125 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 6/12/18 Your Mother Was A Scrollster And Your Father Smelt Of Pixelberries! I File In Your General Direction!

  1. @John A Arkansawyer The story of a death can implicate queerness; it can implicate homophobia. It’s a narrative choice.

    That’s true… but I think they’re both part of the wider Bury Your Gays trope. The result is the same, after all. On the other hand, I think one of the limitations of tropes is that they’re about patterns and not meaning. Bury Your Gays encompasses everything from queer-coded villains through “doomed by their nature to tragic lives” to “sympathetic enough to make their death tragic but Other enough not to alienate the straight audience when it happens” to queer agit-prop.

  2. @Kyra Braw!

    I once wrote a scene (in a sort of fan-group-insert RPF S&S serialised fantasy novel) in which a tame dragon/xenomorph hybrid* was sent to “decimate” a room full of guards. It returned without laying claw or tooth on any of the nine guards.

    In my defence, it was told off for it.

    * I swear it made perfect sense in context. At least as much as the Borg/Uruk-Hai/Muppet mash-up…

  3. I believe that if you stand and stare at a dead dog long enough, that dog will get up and run. Seems kind of funny to me, but now we learn that the process takes nine months. So at the end of every hard earned day you will find a reason to believe.

  4. @jamoche
    I don’t remember that, but I remember a story in Analog in (IIRC) the 80s, where they worked out photovoltaic coatings for both cars and roads, and needed gas only as a back-up fuel in areas where the roads hadn’t yet been redone.

  5. ObPratchett:

    “Elves are wonderful. They provoke wonder.
    Elves are marvellous. They cause marvels.
    Elves are fantastic. They create fantasies.
    Elves are glamorous. They project glamour.
    Elves are enchanting. They weave enchantment.
    Elves are terrific. They beget terror.
    The thing about words is that meanings can twist just like a snake, and if you want to find snakes look for them behind words that have changed their meaning.”

  6. JJ: But who knows? Maybe the dog wasn’t actually dead, it was just resting.

    Exactly. People love to think they’re winning arguments on the internet, and will eventually bring the conversation back to any they think they’ve won before.

    But when they cite an authority to support their case, and the authority actually says something else, well, golly. Certainly we should all pretend not to notice that!

  7. If you want to be able to have LGBT+ characters who are villains, or to kill some of them off, the only cure I have seen for it not being a bury your gays trope — is to have a lot of OTHER such characters in your fiction. If you have 8 characters who are all somewhere in the LGBT+ ranges*, then if one character out of all those dies in a big tragedy, while several others end happily, you’ve avoided the trope.

    Bury your gays, and the related thing of all LGBT+ people are horrible villains, happen when your story is about four straight people and one gay one… and it’s the gay character who dies (or turns out to be the traitor. Or both.)

    Same as killing off a racial minority. If they’re the only non-white person on screen, then it’s pretty clear this piles on to the existing trope where not being white means dying. If they’re one of 5 or 8 or 20, and the others go on to happier fates, then, it’s not so bad.

    * And before complaining that so many in one place is unrealistic… there’s this thing called “community” that happens. People with something in common have a reason to gather together.

  8. @Kyra: you’ll have to say this all again come December (in three and a half months).

  9. I don’t know why all the people complaining about “decimate” don’t do something about “dog”. It’s been misused for just as long if not longer–everyone says their hound is a dog, but the original meaning is “a large, ferocious hound” and they keep using it in reference to a Pekinese! Clearly, everyone in the world is wrong about Language and I win the Language Using Game.

  10. In my experience, the most common use of ‘decimate’ is in discussions about what it means.

  11. Kyra on June 13, 2018 at 5:39 am said:
    Anyone who thinks “decimated” can’t mean “mostly/entirely wiped out” isn’t being clever and smart, they simply don’t understand how language works.

    Some of us remember when regiments that did not show enough gumption during WWI were decimated – one in ten men killed. My granparents were alive to witness it. Marko Kloos might have equivalent German memories.

  12. Some of us remember when regiments that did not show enough gumption during WWI were decimated – one in ten men killed. My granparents were alive to witness it. Marko Kloos might have equivalent German memories.

    I never said decimate couldn’t mean that.

  13. Kyra: I never said decimate couldn’t mean that.

    When Marko Kloos described himself as being pedantic about the word’s meaning, wasn’t he really acknowledging how many people commonly use the alternative meanings? I thought he was being serious and poking a bit of fun at himself at the same time.

  14. Semantic shift is part of the machineries of language, which is not to say that one need accept every such shift, including (or perhaps especially) those just arising. Editors and teachers and compilers of house style books necessarily decide where to draw the lines. A good historical dictionary can show when a change has become established (and in what contexts). Clearly, “decimate” shifted some time ago: “loosely. To destroy a large proportion of 1663″ (Shorter OED, 1933). If I were still marking up student papers, I wouldn’t flag “decimate” used in that sense, but, I would certainly red-pen “flaunt” for “flout” or “fine tooth-comb.” Inexperienced writers are often also inexperienced readers, and plenty of actual errors rise from lack of familiarity with standard usage.

  15. When Marko Kloos described himself as being pedantic about the word’s meaning, wasn’t he really acknowledging how many people commonly use the alternative meanings?

    Probably. But I’ve had a surprising number of people say it to me with deadly seriousness (or that nauseous cannot mean the same thing as nauseated, or that sentences in English cannot end with prepositions, or that English language infinitives cannot be split, etc. etc. etc.)

  16. I’ve had something odd happening with the RSS feed since the last site changes. I normally have the most recent half dozen items displayed in a box on a local web page and can click through to the articles when I am sufficiently intrigued. Since the recent changes that is now usually out of date, currently there’s a “lastBuildDate” element showing “Tue, 12 Jun 2018 16:03:39 +0000” in the raw file and the most recent article is “Review: Camelot”. If I look at the RSS feed via the browser (Pale Moon, a Firefox fork) tool bar RSS tool I get an up to date version, first article “Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off 2017 Winner” but if I then try to View Source I’m back to yesterdays version.

    The only way to get the current version of the RSS feed seems to be to load it in the browser, View Source is always the old version and using various command line tools on a number of different machines with different OSs always gets the out of date version of the feed. The RSS comments for this article and the one for the overall comments look like they are fine, it’s just the articles feed stalling.

  17. (1) Overture, curtain, Fives,
    This is it, the scrolls of scrolls
    No more pixelating and ticking a boxWe know every card by heart
    Overture, curtain, Fives
    This is it, we’ll scroll the heights
    And oh what heights we’ll decimate
    One in ten this is it
    Tonight what files we’ll hit
    On with the scroll this is it

    (4) Screenjunkies had a big discussion about this. I think Dan Murrell is on point on minute 31:20 (up until around 33:00) and when you listen to him, you cant help of think of the puppies as well.

  18. “Decimate” is one of those words were there actual, literal meaning is nowhere near as impressive or useful as its acquired meaning.

    Like, if it meant, “reduce enemy forces TO 10%”, like– damn, they got decimated. That’s terrible. But “BY 10%”, i.e. to 90%? Eh, you still have 90%. You’re not in trouble.

  19. @Kyra–I’d be curious about the age/class/education distribution of those deadly-serious folk. I taught my first freshman comp course in 1966, when neither of those grammar/usage pseudo-rules was supported by the handbooks we used–and in the history-of-English course I taught a year or two later they were examples of 18th-century Latinate prescriptionism. (“There are some things up with which I will not put” was already a teacherly punchline fifty years ago.) Nauseous/nauseated is a different matter–more semantic shift (which in my editorial/red-pen role I would rule semantic confusion or imprecision in a formal/academic/public-writing context).

  20. “and if you want to find snakes look for them behind words that have changed their meaning.”
    True. Pinochet changed “disappear” from an intransitive to a transitive verb.

    On a more cheerful note, “nice” used to mean exact or precise.

  21. I’d be curious about the age/class/education distribution of those deadly-serious folk.

    It pretty much spans ages and classes, actually. A fair number people were genuinely mistaught by well-intentioned teachers passing down what they thought was correct; remember that especially at the high school level and below, teachers are not necessarily experts in their fields (although many fine teachers are.) People can also find these “rules” in the form of persistent rumors, it’s true, and adopt them either out of a genuine effort to do things correctly or because they enjoy feeling smarter than others. The internet has likely amplified the second one in the present day, but I remember getting them by word of mouth in pre-internet days (often in the form of somebody “correcting” my grammar or usage or someone else’s grammar or usage.) So it isn’t an old-vs.-young thing in either direction, in my experience.

    And this is true both for semantic shift and things like faux-Latinate prescriptivism. I suspect semantic shift may originate more often in good faith (i.e., people start making the correction when a usage could genuinely be said to be unusual or unclear, but the correction persists even after the term has by any reasonable standard been adopted into common use.) Frankly, though, I don’t think that’s the case with “decimate” — as far as I can tell, people only started complaining about it long after the most common meaning had clearly shifted. My guess is that some people just wanted to show off that they knew what it meant in Latin and that the new-fangled meaning was therefore somehow “wrong”. A similar thing happened recently for a while with people complaining that something couldn’t have a “meteoric rise” because meteors don’t rise, they fall, even though “meteoric” had long meant “fast” instead of “behaving like a meteor” by the time anyone brought it up.

    But whether because of good faith desires to speak and write correctly, or bad faith impulses to lord it over others by “knowing” something that everyone else has wrong, these myths get passed around and reinforce themselves until they get difficult to tell them from currently still-useful stylistic advice intended to reduce confusion and clarify meaning. (And even those, incidentally, can sometimes backfire as well — I know people who refuse to use an apostrophe s to designate a plural even in those cases where using an apostrophe s is a reasonable usage.)

  22. (7) The most relevant change for me is that Star Trek: Phase II would likely have continued to be a TV series instead of having been spun up into a feature film in the wake of the colossal success of Star Wars in theaters.

    Based on the scripts and script fragments that we’ve seen over the years, I suspect that it wouldn’t have done well, either. But there’s no way to know for sure – the late seventies audience was in many ways very different from the current audience.

  23. „Decimated“ in its original sense is hardly useful, so the more broad meaning is a natural change. A quantum leap, if you will (meaning „the smallest measurable change“)

    Now excuse me, Im here on this hill, dying for the correct usage of „venomous“ vs. „poisonous“ .

  24. Yes, language does change (probably because humans are not actually good at language). The problem is that it doesn’t change in the same ways for all speakers, and it’s to the speakers that words have meanings.

  25. @Anthony….or perhaps more correctly, OGH

    I’ve had something odd happening with the RSS feed since the last site changes.

    I use The Old Reader and have had similar issues recently. I will get a bunch of updates all at one time, but usually at least a day after they are posted.

    FWIW.

    Regards,
    Dann
    ‘There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running around with lit matches.’ Ray Bradbury

  26. 11) I was going to say Test 3.0 is a ringer, because NO-ONE can discuss politics with a reactionary uncle. But then I realized that Twitter & Facebook have proved that robots can and do discuss politics with such people–and make them more reactionary.

    The question is, can they do anything else?

  27. There are neither beginnings nor endings to the writing of the Pixel Scroll… But this is a beginning…

    (1) I find it funny that the pendulum of time has swung back towards short films. For my entire childhood until the invention of Youtube Animated Shorts were going the way of the dodo. Now they are how you build a brand on Streaming video.

    I can only hope this new batch of 1,000 are funny with multiple levels of humor. But those are high hopes.

  28. Peer: I’m thinking “The file of files” would be a better not-rhyme.

    Didn’t “cute” formerly mean “sharp, or clever”?

  29. The tricky thing about grammar peeving is that it so often teeters on the edge of blatant race/class prejudice.

    On the other hand, anecdotal evidence suggests that it’s a great way to drive traffic to your blog. (Not that I’d suggest Mike would ever deliberately do anything like that.) 😉

  30. On the word usage/meaning subject, this was one of my late father’s favorite jokes:

    Noah Webster, having finished putting together his dictionary, decides to celebrate by having a fling with a woman not his wife.
    His wife walks in on the two of them and says “Noah, I’m surprised!”
    Webster responds, “No. I’m surprised. You’re astonished.”

  31. @Steve Wright: (I still want to know what his intersections looked like.) I just reskimmed this story; my read is that there are no intersections. ISTM that he just threw out names of city pairs that would be connected; e.g., San Diego – Reno has sectors, but no indication of branching. He may have realized that this structure is too expensive for anything but trunk lines, or thought that there would be tree structure rather than a network.

  32. Msb on June 13, 2018 at 11:13 am said:
    … “nice” used to mean exact or precise.

    Nicely done.

    Kip W on June 13, 2018 at 12:28 pm said:
    … Didn’t “cute” formerly mean “sharp, or clever”?

    Oh, cute.

  33. @Peer
    Now excuse me, Im here on this hill, dying for the correct usage of „venomous“ vs. „poisonous“ .

    Is there a nearby hill, on which partisans battle over lower-upper quotation marks ( „. . . “ ) vs., you know, correct ones (“ . . .”)?

  34. I’m figuratively dying on the hill that “literally” is neither an intensifier nor an indicator of hyperbole. We have plenty of words for those situations already, but only one word that literally means “literally”…

  35. Cassy B, of course it has happened before – “very” and “really” used to be literal rather than intensifiers. Not that I don’t agree with you.

    My pet peeve is “lay” vs “lie”. I fear the battle is lost on that one.

  36. Cute was a shortening of acute. It didn’t mean pretty until the 19th century through use in student slang.

    Nice is all over the map. It seems to have changed meaning about once a century. We’re probably due for a new definition.

    I was scrollin’ when I wrote this
    So sue me if I go too fast
    But file’s just a pixel
    And pixels weren’t meant to last

  37. “Like, if it meant, “reduce enemy forces TO 10%”, like– damn, they got decimated. That’s terrible. But “BY 10%”, i.e. to 90%? Eh, you still have 90%. You’re not in trouble.”

    This is at least partially dependent on that status of your enemy’s forces, of course, but if you are military commander and you’ve lost 10% of your forces, you are very likely in terrible trouble – and that’s not even counting whether all those losses have resulted in your forces breaking apart or losing morale and fleeing if an avenue of escape has proven to be available.

    However, often missed is that the original Roman meaning of ‘decimation’ didn’t really have anything to do with the disposition of battle at all. It was a purposeful punishment inflicted on a force of troops who had somehow communally committed a capital offense, typically mutineers or deserters.

  38. @Jeff: Humans are very good at language, considering that we make it up out of nothing, literally. Knives and sacks and ovens and shirts and cooking pots and scrolls are all made by modifying or combining things that already exist, physical things: words, people just come up with when we need them, or want them, or think they’d be amusing (“cromulent” and “googleplex” being examples of the last).

    Isolated groups of deaf people–and especially of deaf children and pre-teens–invent new sign languages, repeatedly. (Nicaraguan Sign Language is a relatively recent example.) Adults are much less linguistically creative: we can, of course, do very creative things using language, but most of the new words and new usage are created and spread by young people.

    I suspect–and this is surmise, unlike the previous paragraphs–that this may be one reason why people get peevish about grammar and vocabulary, and about changes in meaning. It’s easy and common for adults to believe that we know more than children, especially about things that are taught in school and considered important for adult life.

    If it’s how to use some current piece of tech, OK, half-joke about “find a kid, I need to program the VCR,” but talking is different. Words change, grammar changes, but we’re still forming them with the same parts of the same bodies. Even people who have trouble with language, or don’t think they’re very good at it, see it as a basic human thing, perhaps even the defining thing. (In some ways, “what makes humans different from all other animals?” is a weird question, but it’s a very persistent one.)

  39. (1) Excellent.

    (2) Also excellent.

    (7) I dunno about all the causation… but as much as I’d miss SW, sounds like we’d get everything else I like, and a world without Fox “News”, the longest war, and Trump is a world I’d like to live in. Sorry, George.

    But as @Chip said, what about “Close Encounters”? That might have been even a bigger deal.

    (8) I watched some Foley artists at work for about half an hour once. It really is amazing (The scene ended up being a major spoiler for a movie, but I wasn’t planning on seeing it anyway so no big).

    (13) I used to do that thing of moving the bird but its head stayed still to the neighbor’s parakeet. I don’t know what the ‘keet thought of it, but he always seemed fond of me, never bit me, and I was amused by it. He was a smart little guy.

    (16) awww… and it gave the rest of us capers on hippo-back.

    In Hugo news, I’ve finished “City of Stairs” and WOW. I should have listened to you guys the past few years about those books. OTOH now I get to read them all in one gulp so yay.

    @Kyra: applause (show approval or praise)

    @O. Westin: Your ideas are intriguing and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter. 🙂 If you have one beyond your lovely Twitter of daily micro SFF. Did I tell you I nominated you for Best Fan Writer?

  40. @Lenore Jones
    “very” and “really” used to be literal rather than intensifiers.

    I love the reaction when I point out that “very” is derived from (the Norman version of) “vrai”. I had one student shout “verily!” in response, in a moment of epiphany.

    There’s even a word for the process involved: “grammaticalization”. Guy Deutscher’s The Unfolding of Language has some fascinating stuff on this and other aspects of linguistic change.

  41. The problem is that it doesn’t change in the same ways for all speakers, and it’s to the speakers that words have meanings.

    There’s glory for you!

  42. Xtifr: On the other hand, anecdotal evidence suggests that it’s a great way to drive traffic to your blog. (Not that I’d suggest Mike would ever deliberately do anything like that.)

    “Keep them dogies rollin’, Rawhide!”

  43. @Cathy: That reminds me of one of the few jokes I’ve made up which is objectively verifiably absolutely one hundred percent, though only mildly, funny:

    What’s the difference between embarrassment and shame?

    Embarrassment is when your best friend walks in on you making love to your wife. Shame is when your best friend walks in on you making love to her wife.

  44. @Peer

    I watched that episode of Screenjunkies last week and it was great. (I like their content in general now that they’ve gotten rid of the asshat sexual abuser/harasser who had been there for a while.) And they’ve been talking for a while about the problems with trying to please fans when it comes to folks opposing choices that lean toward a broader, more inclusive audience.

  45. This is at least partially dependent on that status of your enemy’s forces, of course, but if you are military commander and you’ve lost 10% of your forces, you are very likely in terrible trouble

    (Meaningless line to visually separate the File770 quote from the book quote)

    Captain Lempriere glances at Sergeant Gregorius. The Swiss Guard does not break his fixed, at-attention stare at the bulkhead. “The support and covering craft in orbit were also decimated, sir.”

    “Decimated?” The pain is making de Soya angry. “That means one in ten, Captain. Are ten percent of ship’s personnel on the casualty list?”

    “No, sir,” says Lempriere, “more like sixty percent…

    –from Endymion by Dan Simmons

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