Pixel Scroll 6/4/17 Like A Scroll Over Troubled Pixels, I Will Tick Me Now

(1) $100 MILLION WEEKEND. (Redundant word “dollars” omitted in keeping with our new style sheet…) Moviegoers showed up with cash in hand: “‘Wonder Woman’ Shatters Box Office With Biggest Female Director Opening. Ever.”

A box office wonder.

Wonder Woman” smashed records this weekend to become the biggest domestic opening for a female director ever. Directed by Patty Jenkins and starring Gal Gadot under Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment, the film grossed an estimated $100.5 million at more than 4,000 theaters domestically, according to a statement from Warner Bros. Sunday. Thursday night’s pre-show raked in $11 million alone.

(2) WONDERFUL. Eileen L. Wittig declares “Yes, I’m a Feminist. Yes, I Enjoyed ‘Wonder Woman'” in a review for the Foundation for Economic Education.

I don’t care that she wore heels the entire time. They looked very supportive, and are probably better weapons for spin kicks than sneakers. And maybe she just likes wearing heels. Maybe they make her feel powerful. They have that effect on me.

Beyond Her Looks

I do care about how Diana managed to walk that thin, thin line between literally being a weapon, and having empathy.

I care that she saw an unknown life and saved it, because she could, and because she cared.

I care that she was moved to tears when she heard about the suffering of millions of people she’d never even met, and then took that sorrow and turned it into motivation to save the rest.

I care that she was willing to sacrifice her own future life of peace among her family to save strangers.

(3) SECRET ORIGINS. Jill Lepore’s “The Surprising Origin Story of Wonder Woman” appeared in Smithsonian in 2014, but David K.M. Klaus is right in thinking it makes a timely item after this weekend. He comments, “Information about comics history and the people involved in the creation of Wonder Woman never published before so far as I know, as well as the reasoning behind her creation. Also, the first reveal of the deliberately vicious and jealous motives of Frederik Wertham in the censorship of comics: He didn’t give one damn about children, he was angry at a professional superior who didn’t share his anti-woman attitudes. Frederik Wertham was the true advocate of bondage for Wonder Woman, psychological, emotional, and political bondage.”

Here’s an excerpt from Lepore’s article:

Marston was a man of a thousand lives and a thousand lies. “Olive Richard” was the pen name of Olive Byrne, and she hadn’t gone to visit Marston’she lived with him. She was also the niece of Margaret Sanger, one of the most important feminists of the 20th century. In 1916, Sanger and her sister, Ethel Byrne, Olive Byrne’s mother, had opened the first birth-control clinic in the United States. They were both arrested for the illegal distribution of contraception. In jail in 1917, Ethel Byrne went on a hunger strike and nearly died.

Olive Byrne met Marston in 1925, when she was a senior at Tufts; he was her psychology professor. Marston was already married, to a lawyer named Elizabeth Holloway. When Marston and Byrne fell in love, he gave Holloway a choice: either Byrne could live with them, or he would leave her. Byrne moved in. Between 1928 and 1933, each woman bore two children; they lived together as a family. Holloway went to work; Byrne stayed home and raised the children. They told census-takers and anyone else who asked that Byrne was Marston’s widowed sister-in-law. “Tolerant people are the happiest,” Marston wrote in a magazine essay in 1939, so “why not get rid of costly prejudices that hold you back?” He listed the “Six Most Common Types of Prejudice.” Eliminating prejudice number six “Prejudice against unconventional people and non-conformists” meant the most to him. Byrne’s sons didn’t find out that Marston was their father until 1963 — when Holloway finally admitted it’and only after she extracted a promise that no one would raise the subject ever again.

Gaines didn’t know any of this when he met Marston in 1940 or else he would never have hired him: He was looking to avoid controversy, not to court it. Marston and Wonder Woman were pivotal to the creation of what became DC Comics. (DC was short for Detective Comics, the comic book in which Batman debuted.) In 1940, Gaines decided to counter his critics by forming an editorial advisory board and appointing Marston to serve on it, and DC decided to stamp comic books in which Superman and Batman appeared with a logo, an assurance of quality, reading, “A DC Publication.” And, since “the comics’ worst offense was their blood-curdling masculinity,” Marston said, the best way to fend off critics would be to create a female superhero.

(4) PUT THE LID ON. Tales From the Crypt is not even being allowed to linger in development hell: “M. Night Shyamalan’s Tales From the Crypt Reboot Shelved Due to Rights Issues”.

M. Night Shyamalan’s Tales From the Crypt reboot for TNT is currently no longer in the works due to rights issues, though the network may revisit the project in the future.

In an interview with Deadline, TNT and TBS president Kevin Reilly confirmed that, because of “a very complicated underlying rights structure,” Shyamalan’s reboot is no longer in development. The project faced legal issues since it was first announced back in 2016.

“That one got really caught up in a complete legal mess unfortunately with a very complicated underlying rights structure,” Reilly said. “We lost so much time, so I said, “Look, I’m not waiting around four years for this thing.'”

…The Tales From the Crypt reboot was set to use the original William Gaines-created Tales From the Crypt EC Comics from the 1950s for some episodes, mixed in with original stories, with one of the episodes directed by Shyamalan.

In lieu of the Tales From the Crypt reboot’s cancellation, Reilly revealed that TBS is currently working with Ridley Scott on an unannounced sci-fi series. The network is considering a straight series order and is aiming for a 2018 release, with Scott also potentially directing.

(5) HOW ALARMING. They’re here. “First Wave Of Twin Peaks Funko Pops And Action Figures Includes Dale Cooper, Killer BOB, And The Log Lady”.

Are you prepared for a tsunami of official Twin Peaks merchandise? The first wave of official Twin Peaks Funko Pops and Action Figures inspired by the original series is expected to hit the stores by April and May 2017 respectively.

The initial group of Pop! figures includes Dale Cooper, Audrey Horne, Killer BOB, the Giant, Laura in Plastic Wrap, the Log Lady, Leland Palmer, and the Giant.

(6) STILL SUPER. Carl Slaughter calls your attention to this 2013 edition — Capes, Cowls, and the Creation of Comic Book Culture by Laurence Maslon and Michael Kantor.

Together again for the first time, here come the greatest comic book superheroes ever assembled between two covers: down from the heavens’Superman and the Mighty Thor’or swinging over rooftops’the Batman and Spider-Man; star-spangled, like Captain America and Wonder Woman, or clad in darkness, like the Shadow and Spawn; facing down super-villains on their own, like the Flash and the Punisher or gathered together in a team of champions, like the Avengers and the X-Men!

Based on the three-part PBS documentary series Superheroes, this companion volume chronicles the never-ending battle of the comic book industry, its greatest creators, and its greatest creations. Covering the effect of superheroes on American culture — in print, on film and television, and in digital media — and the effect of American culture on its superheroes, Superheroes: Capes, Cowls, and the Creation of Comic Book Culture appeals to readers of all ages, from the casual observer of the phenomenon to the most exacting fan of the genre.

Drawing from more than 50 new interviews conducted expressly for Superheroes! creators from Stan Lee to Grant Morrison, commentators from Michael Chabon to Jules Feiffer, actors from Adam West to Lynda Carter, and filmmakers such as Zach Snyder — this is an up-to-the-minute narrative history of the superhero, from the comic strip adventurers of the Great Depression, up to the blockbuster CGI movie superstars of the 21st Century. Featuring more than 500 full-color comic book panels, covers, sketches, photographs of both essential and rare artwork, Superheroes is the definitive story of this powerful presence in pop culture.

Check out interviews from PBS Superheroes: A Never Ending Battle.

(7) TRIVIAL TRIVIA

Did Sam Clemens get it wrong? “‘Tom Sawyer’ was NOT the first typewritten novel”

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • June 4, 1982 The Wrath of Khan debuted in theatres.
  • June 4, 1982 — Poltergeist premieres.

(9) MAJOR LEAGUE QUIDDITCH. The season has just begun: “There May Not Be Flying, But Quidditch Still Creates Magic”.

When Colby Palmer started his freshman year at Virginia Commonwealth University, some students approached him in his dorm and asked whether he wanted to play quidditch.

Palmer had read all of the Harry Potter books and knew about the sport but said he felt reluctant to try it out.

“My impressions of quidditch was just that it’s for nerds by nerds ‘ that they wouldn’t be like people who I would find things in common with,” Palmer says.

Despite his hesitations, Palmer did give it a try and found he loved it and the community. Now, he’s heading into his senior year at VCU and is spending the summer playing for the Washington Admirals, one of 16 Major League Quidditch teams. The season starts this weekend.

(10) I’M MELTING…. These are the jokes, folks.

(11) NOT YOUR NAME HERE. “Colossus Con Rebrands After ColossalCon files Trademark Complaint”Nerd & Tie’s Trae Dorn has the story.

After running two events, California based Colossus Con has now been forced to rename their comic conventions. This has happened in the wake of a trademark complaint from Ohio based anime con ColossalCon. The Colossus Con events planned for Merced, CA and Campbell, CA have been renamed California Republic Comic Con and Campbell Con respectively.

As a 2018 Pleasanton, CA event hasn’t been announced yet, we don’t know what that event will be called if it happens again.

(12) GAME OVER. In “End-Times for Humanity”, Claire Colebrook, a Penn State English professor, looks at the recent spate of apocalpytic movies and asks what these films say about the fragility of our culture.

What contemporary post-apocalyptic culture fears isn’t the end of “the world” so much as the end of “a world” — the rich, white, leisured, affluent one. Western lifestyles are reliant on what the French philosopher Bruno Latour has referred to as a “slowly built set of irreversibilities –, requiring the rest of the world to live in conditions that “humanity” regards as unliveable. And nothing could be more precarious than a species that contracts itself to a small portion of the Earth, draws its resources from elsewhere, transfers its waste and violence, and then declares that its mode of existence is humanity as such.

To define humanity as such by this specific form of humanity is to see the end of that humanity as the end of the world. If everything that defines “us” relies upon such a complex, exploitative and appropriative mode of existence, then of course any diminution of this hyper-humanity is deemed to be an apocalyptic event. “We” have lost our world of security, we seem to be telling ourselves, and will soon be living like all those peoples on whom we have relied to bear the true cost of what it means for “us” to be “human’.

(13) LINGUINISTICS. It’s always news to someone…

(14) WALKING THE TALK. “World Bank Economist Demoted for Demanding Clear Prose”. Why? The explanation is simplicity itself.

This week, the financial press reported the downfall of a high-profile grammar pedant, Professor Paul Romer, the World Bank’s chief economist, who was hoist(ed) on his own pedantic petard.

He is being replaced as head of the bank’s research arm after he demanded that his colleagues write succinct, clear, direct emails, presentations and reports in the active voice with a low proportion of “and’s”. Romer will remain the bank’s chief economist.

In fact, he had threatened not to publish the bank’s central publication, World Development Report, “if the frequency of “and” exceeded 2.6 per cent€. He had also cancelled a regular publication that he believed had no clear purpose.

Why, you may ask, did the economists who work in the World Bank’s research department take exception to these strictures? Who wouldn’t want the corporate report that was a flagship publication of the bank to be narrow and “penetrate deeply like a knife”? Romer’s 600 colleagues, that’s who. But why?

It seems that, while he was encouraging his staff to avoid their customary convoluted “bankspeak”and consider their readers, he failed to follow his own advice. He was apparently curt, abrasive and combative. The troops refused to fall into line and he was ousted.

[Thanks to JJ, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, David K.M. Klaus, Chip Hitchcock, Peer Sylvester, John King Tarpinian, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer Sylvester.]

81 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 6/4/17 Like A Scroll Over Troubled Pixels, I Will Tick Me Now

  1. I read “This Census-Taker”. Rather, I forced myself to read it. And my conclusion is: bwuh? and meh. Wonder how many non-Puppies nominated it, because it’s… not worthy. I was also underwhelmed with “A Taste of Honey”.

    Thank goodness we have good stuff in that category instead.

    Regarding inferior awards: yes, rocket ships are able to withstand high heat. Very few dragons can operate in weightlessness and vacuum, much less keep their riders safe. Rockets are much less likely to eat people or have a need to hoard vast wealth. Also, I could probably do as well in MS Paint or equivalent.
    (And how the heck are we supposed to easily find out what was published from July-June? Calendar years are way easier.)

    You can skip Toby Daye #2 but be sure to at least read a summary so you’ll know who the characters introduced in it are when they pop up later.

  2. Lee: He was referenced briefly in the May 11 Scroll, as item #19, spouting the same shit but against someone on his own team. If he’s got “lurkers” of late, that’s probably where they came from.

    I think it’s more likely that he’s hoping to get attention the same way JDA has, by bad-mouthing File770, and that the supposed “lurkers” are all in his mind. He was one of the contributors to the free Puppy book giveaway which abused Valentinelli for her Odysseycon decision as a way to market their self-pubbed books, and he posted a link to his own blog here in that thread in an attempt to get people to click over to a post on his blog which further abused Valentinelli.

  3. @Nicoll: Granted, Jerry Pournelle is likely to present Muslims in a more positive light than, say, KSR. I would have expected it was the other way around, but I don’t know all of KSR’s oddities.

  4. @lurkertype: my reaction to This Census-Taker might just be perfectly the opposite of yours 🙂 I’m actually planning to re-read it when I head home this summer.

  5. My reaction to This Census-Taker is somewhere in the middle of those. I enjoyed it, but needed it to do a bit more than it did in order to move it from “enjoyable” up to “fantastic” for me.

  6. @Chip Hitchcock: I had that same thought myself, from having read the first two of the Mars trilogy. (The story left off in such a hopeful place, I’ve hesitated to read the third.)

  7. I borrowed THIS CENSUS TAKER on audio to listen to at work. Found the writing and story complex and difficult enough that I had trouble following, and ended up sending it back to Overdrive unfinished. I ordinarily like Mieville’s work, so I may eventually get around to trying it again in a printed version.

  8. The Dragon and the Rocketship
    Were walking close at hand;
    They wept like anything to see
    Such quantities of Fans:
    “If all of them could vote this year,”
    They said, “It would be grand!”

  9. Some say awards should taste of fire
    Some say exhaust.
    From what I’ve read of baying ire
    I see that some insist on fire
    But when we tally and compare
    What’s drink to fans, and what is meet,
    Most like a well-done rocket’s flare
    While dragon feet
    Are rarer fare.

  10. As I wrote before: This census taker would be much better, if any of the concepts, ideas, characters, things in the book would have any impact on the story. It felt like a sidestory to a bigger novel, except there was no bigger novel. So 3/5 stars from me.

  11. @Chip Hitchcock: I don’t recall how Arabs are depicted in the Mars Trilogy, but Years of Rice and Salt has a strikingly negative depiction of Islam.

  12. @lurkertype: I also had to force myself to finish This Census-Taker. I kept waiting for something to happen that I cared about, and it ended without that happening. So perhaps Mieville is not for me. The only book of his that I enjoyed was Un Lun Dun.

  13. I’m another Filer puzzled by This Census-Taker — and I’ve been impressed by several of Mieville’s works (especially Perdido Street Station and The City and the City). Perhaps some of the fans of this work could go into more detail? rot-13 IFF necessary.

  14. I loved The Last Days of New Paris. But I’m weird, obviously. There was no way it was going to get on the Hugo ballot; it is too full of fantastic imagery and spectacle; it is jam packed with fannish references to the 20th century Paris surrealists. It reads like fan fiction from an alternate universe. Whereas This Census Taker, with its depressing setting and avoidance of almost anything fantastic, is just the thing for the sophisticated literary taste of discerning Worldcon members.

  15. @ Tom Becker

    I will note without any comment that This Census-Taker was on the Rabid Puppy slate.

  16. The Last Days of New Paris and This Census Taker seem to be polar opposites. I enjoyed the former but found the later to be totally lacking a point.
    The link seems to be that they are both Mieville being extremely experimental.

  17. Let me say that of the things Ive read of Mievielle Census-taker was one of the weakest. I really, really like him when he is good, so please dont judge his body of work on census-taker!

  18. @Peer: I don’t doubt Mieville’s status as a fine writer and a swell guy. “Census-Taker” just doesn’t show that. It was such a mundane story. Not what I expected from the writer of “Perdido” and “City&City”. Not cool, not fun, no “whoa, lookit THAT.” I need sensawunda and feels. Neither to be found in this. I even tried reading it in chronological order and nope.

    Even when I haven’t liked things of his before, I wasn’t bored. The sample of “The Last Days of New Paris” was much more interesting. I may find and read that.

    I will also point to Rob Thornton’s comment, and my original one.

  19. Oh hi.

    Current state of my novella ballot:

    6: The Ballad of Black Tom. I do not now, nor have I ever cared about Lovecraft. I tried to read his works about 15 years ago and bailed halfway through the collection. I feel like the impact of this story relies too much on it being a Lovecraft retelling, and the perspective switch partway through is really jarring.

    5. A Taste of Honey: I didn’t like the romance portion of this novella, I think because Lucrio is introduced catcalling Aqib I disliked him right away and he never grew on me. I spent the whole story trying to find something else to connect with and enjoy, and then the ending left me feeling betrayed.

    4. The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe: I do not now, nor have I ever cared about Lovecraft. Professor Boe is a bit of a cypher to take me on a travelogue of a land I feel no connection with.

    3. Penric and the Shaman: this was a nice story. I keep forgetting how Lois McMaster Bujold’s characters actually communicate with each other, making her plots go in ways I don’t expect.

    2. Every Heart a Doorway: an absolutely wonderful setting, marred by a murder mystery plot. I would have much preferred a slice-of-life vignette getting to know the various characters and the worlds they visited.

    1. This Census-Taker: the only finalist that was on my nominating ballot. I finished this novella and wanted to reread it right away because I felt like I was missing something. That there were clues hidden throughout that I didn’t see the first time. This novella uses the literary equivalent of negative space; it’s maybe a little too opaque for my tastes, but at least I was interested. I love the multi-layered metaphor of the creatures in jars.

    (Bonus novella opinion: The Last Days of New Paris: this was like a scavenger hunt for fans of Surrealism. How many pieces of art can you name? I had a good laugh at the “final boss” but mostly considered the story a piece of entertaining fluff.)

    I am not a Puppy.

  20. @Stewart: Years of Rice and Salt has a strikingly negative depiction of Islam

    That’s an awfully reductive way to describe it. The book takes place in an alternate history where Muslim nations have stepped into many of the roles that were occupied by Christian nations in our world, and—not surprisingly—they end up engaging in a lot of similar colonialist behavior, sectarian warfare, etc. A lot of really bad political events happen, but I don’t think Robinson is implying that the root of them is something unique to Islam; when he has some of his characters speaking out against how they feel the Quran has been misused to justify hierarchy and repression, and trying to advance their own more egalitarian version of the faith, I read those passages as having a lot of deliberate parallels to Christianity and really any belief system that has become part of a huge entrenched power structure. The book is very deliberately just as negative toward this fictional version of Islamic cultures as an even-handed real historical account would be toward European cultures. By the time you get to the part where competing empires get into basically the same thing as World War I at basically the same time, I think it should be pretty clear that Robinson is doing the kind of alternate history where the commonalities between human groups are much more important than the differences.

  21. Also note that in this interview (and, I’m sure, others— he’s had a similar point of view for a long time) Robinson very deliberately refers to “the Middle Eastern monotheisms” (plural) as sharing a certain ideological rigidity. Even so, the Buddhist-derived civilizations in The Years of Rice and Salt are hardly utopian and end up committing most of the same sins that the other large power structures do— because they are large power structures. And that’s despite the fact that in the fictional framework of the novel, Buddhism is literally true. So one might reasonably conclude that Robinson doesn’t think the specific tenets of religious faiths are the biggest determinants of how people comport themselves en masse on the historical stage.

  22. About the original remark that “Jerry Pournelle is likely to present Muslims in a more positive light” – that was sort of cryptically tossed off and I don’t know how Nicoll intended it, but there’s one way in which there’s something to it if you squint a bit and look at it from just the right angle. On the one hand, Pournelle is an arch-conservative who thinks Western civilization is in trouble because Christianity has become “decadent” and insufficiently vigilant to the Muslim threat. On the other hand, he kind of admires the cartoon Muslims in his head for being strongly committed to their own conservative values, and willing to kill a lot of people, and he might be OK with them doing their own thing if they could do it on some other planet far away from him. That may count as a “positive light” to him, though it doesn’t to me.

  23. Hah, For me Last Days of New Paris was the weaker of Miéville’s two novellas. Still a good piece of work, but it felt much more like a “standard” fantasy romp, where the magic just happened to be based on surrealism and art. This Census-Taker just feels like it has so much more lying beneath the surface than Last Days… did.

  24. Mad filking props to @Nigel, @Xtifr, & @Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little! 😀

    @Andrew: “I’m just a Filer who can’t say Scroll”

    Props, but come on, you can flesh it out a little more! 😉

    I’m just a Filer who can’t say Scroll
    Cain’t seem to say it at all
    I hate to disserpoint a troll
    When he is on a roll

  25. @lurkertype: I liked “A Taste of Honey” a lot (though the ending didn’t quite do it for me), but OMG I had to put “The Census-Taker” aside because super-yawn. Unlike “Vellitt Boe,” I’m not sure I’ll be able to finish “This Census-Taker”; both will be off my ballot, methinks.

    @Various: Okay, based on comments here, I will probably not finish “This Census-Taker” – it sounds like if I find it tedious 1/4 (methinks) of the way in, I probably won’t suddenly start loving it. Bleah.

    @Dawn Incognito: Thanks for posting your novella comments!

    For me, it was “Vellitt Boe” that seemed to require knowing the work in question (not just Lovecraft) to appreciate it, and I haven’t read the original – or any Lovecraft. But I powered through and finished it! In contrast, “The Ballad of Black Tom” worked great for me (I nominated it), standing on its own despite my utter ignorance of the source story and, again, never having read Lovecraft. I agree the perspective shift is jarring, though.

    Uh-oh, you’re making me think I missed something with “This Census-Taker” and I should power through and finish it. After I just decided above that I should stop! 😉

    (“Black Tom” is fighting with “Doorway” for the top spot on my ballot, BTW.)

    I am not a Puppy.

    I should say not! 🙂

  26. After an Elric-related detour, it’s back to Hugo reading; I started Penric and should finish it this evening, at which point I’ll start This Census Taker. Novella-wise, I did enjoy Vellit Boe and Black Tom, but I’ve been a Lovecraft fan from way back; I also quite liked Taste of Honey. But right now I think Every Heart is probably taking the top spot; lower rankings will depend on a multiplicity of factors.

  27. Dragon, dragon, burning bright.
    In the slushpile of the night.
    Which shiny Hugo missile shown us
    Will flambé genus draconis?

    (The meter’s erratic, but so’s Blake’s.)

  28. How would “Dragyn! Dragyn! Burning bright…” etc. be? Sure, nobody calls them that, but no true visionary ever let that stop ’em.

  29. @Kendall

    I’m just a Filer who can’t say Scroll
    Cain’t seem to say it at all
    I hate to disserpoint a troll
    When he is on a roll

    Nice. How about

    Mount Tsundoku
    Where the books are swept up “to be read”
    And filers meet with filksongs sweet
    and the puns arrive to cause us dread

    Mount Tsundoku
    Every night my honey lamb and I
    sit together and read, about Godstalk
    and Vinge’s Deepness in the Sky.

  30. @Andrew: Hahaha, excellent! I read that an hour or two ago, leaving work, and LOL’d – just what I needed after a long, tedious day. 😀 ::bows:: ::dances a bit::

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