Pixel Scroll 3/10/19 Don’t Go Chasing Waterscrolls – Please Stick To The Pixels And The Clicks You Know

(1) WAYWARD WRITERS. Cat Rambo shares her notes from Kay Kenyon’s class about plotting, “Mapping the Labyrinth”:

(2) OUTSIDE THE THEATER. Abigail Nussbaum convincingly argues that the discussion around Captain Marvel is more significant than the movie.

…Which is really the most important thing you can say about Captain Marvel: this is a movie that is important not because of what happens in it, but because of what happens around it.  The most interesting conversations you can have regarding it all take place in the meta-levels–what does Captain Marvel mean for the MCU, for superhero movies, for pop culture?

…Another example is the way Captain Marvel refigures Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury, who functions here as Carol’s sidekick on Earth, where she crash-lands after being captured by Skrulls, the enemies of the Kree.  Fury has been a fixture of the MCU since he showed up in the after-credits scene of Iron Man in 2008, and has always cut an imposing figure: a grey eminence, spymaster, and general who suffers no fools and always has plans within plans in his monomaniacal quest to defend the Earth from alien dangers.  The version of Fury we meet in Captain Marvel is much more down to earth–funny, self-deprecating, willing to pause his serious pursuits in order to coo over an adorable cat, and inordinately pleased with himself over minor bits of spycraft, like fooling a fingerprint reader with a bit of tape.

It can be hard to square the Fury in Captain Marvel with the one we’ve known for twelve years in the rest of the MCU, and once again, when looking for solutions, one immediately turns to the metafictional.  My first thought when the film’s credits rolled was “someone told Jackson to just do what he did in The Long Kiss Goodnight“.….

(3) SPEAKING OF THE BIG BUCKS. Forbes’ Scott Mendelson listened to the cash register ring this weekend: “Box Office: ‘Captain Marvel’ Trolled The Trolls With A $455M Global Launch”.

The Brie Larson/Samuel L. Jackson/Reggie the Cat sci-fi adventure opened with $153m in North America this weekend, which is the second-biggest solo superhero non-sequel launch behind Black Panther ($202m in 2018). It’s the third-biggest March opening of all time, sans inflation, behind Batman v Superman ($166m in 2016) and Beauty and the Beast ($174m in 2017).

(4) HEAR IT FROM AN AGENT: Odyssey Workshops interviewed guest lecturer, literary agent Joshua Bilmes:

You founded JABberwocky Literary Agency in 1994, and your agency has grown since, adding several agents and assistants. What are the most common problems in the manuscript submissions you receive?

Make every word count! No excess description. No tossing facial gestures like smiles and smirks onto the page for no good reason. Never stopping to give a three-line description of every character when they come on stage. Quoting two of Bradbury’s 8 Rules:

• Every sentence must do one of two things—reveal character or advance the action.

• Start as close to the end as possible.

Most writers don’t understand that an agent can only represent a limited number of authors, and that agents specialize in particular types of fiction. Can you discuss how many authors you represent and why you’ve settled on that number? Can you describe the areas that you specialize in and why you’ve chosen those areas?

In an alternate universe, the initial crop of mysteries I sold (my very first sale as an agent was a mystery) would have taken off and the sf/fantasy not done as well! I never consciously set out to be a specialist. I don’t count clients; I have “clients” who haven’t written a book in 20 years, so do I count them? And some I’m working with but haven’t yet sold. I don’t target a particular number of clients. I’d say it’s my ability to get through my reading pile that says if I can take on more or fewer; that’s the pressure valve that says if the apparatus can safely support more.

(5) ODIN’S OPINIONS. The New York Times interviews the actor about American Gods, Seasonn 2: “Ian McShane Puts All His [Expletives] in the Right Place”. Also discusses other projects, including a remake of Hellboy and the sequel to Deadwood.

The series touches on immigration, racism, xenophobia and gun control. Did you have any idea how prescient it would be?

Well, it was very interesting what was happening when we did the first season of “American Gods.” The country has taken a serious lurch to the right, as much as they’d love to say it’s taken a serious lurch to the left. I don’t think America would know a socialist if they fell over him. They think it’s somebody who lives in a garret in Russia and has no telephone and no refrigerator. But that’s due to their lack of education. America’s been dumbed down over the years, which is a shame. It’s wonderful to see Congress now with a rainbow color, if you like, of immigrants and nationalities and people who love this country. They’re talking about it in a different way.

(6) THE PRICE ON THE BOUNTY HUNTER. Popular Mechanic’s article “The Great Star Wars Heist” recalls that in 2017, an uncovered toy theft ruptured the Star Wars collecting community. Two years later, the collectors—and the convicted—are still looking for a way forward.

…After talking with Wise, though, Tann’s doubts reached beyond one Boba Fett. The legitimacy of the dozens of purchases he’d made from Cunningham were at stake. Were those stolen goods, too?

Tann shared a comprehensive list of his purchases with Wise and, sure enough, Wise recognized more collectibles of his. But he noticed something else, too. The large volume of items that Cunningham was selling suggested that he had been stealing from someone else.

And the quality of the collectibles left little doubt as to who it was.

(7) SHEINBERG OBIT. Universal Studios executive Sidney Sheinberg died March 7 reports the New York Times. His career-launching connection with Steven Spielberg proved lucrative for both.

Mr. Sheinberg, who could be as tender as he was prickly, was the one who allowed Mr. Spielberg to make “Jaws,” giving him a budget of $3.5 million (about $17 million in today’s money). A problem-plagued shoot pushed the cost to more than twice as much. But Mr. Sheinberg… continued to support the film, which went on to become the prototype for the wide-release summer blockbuster.

“Sid created me, in a way, and I also re-created Sid, in a way,” Mr. Spielberg was quoted as saying in The New York Times in 1997.

Under Mr. Sheinberg’s watch, Universal released two more hits from Mr. Spielberg, “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” (1982) and “Jurassic Park”(1993). It was Mr. Sheinberg who handed Mr. Spielberg Thomas Keneally’s novel “Schindler’s List,” which the director turned into his masterpiece of the same title. Released in 1993, it won seven Academy Awards, including best picture.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 10, 1891 Sam Jaffe. His first role was in Lost Horizon  as the High Lama and much later in The Day the Earth Stood Still  playing Professor Jacob Barnhardt. Later on we find in The Dunwich Horror as Old Whateley, voicing Bookman in Bedknobs and Broomsticks, playing The Old-Man in The Tell-Tale Heart, and in his last film, appearing in Battle Beyond the Stars as Dr. Hephaestus. John Sayles wrote the script oddly enough. (Died 1984.)
  • Born March 10, 1921 Cec Linder. He’s best remembered for playing Dr. Matthew Roney in the BBC produced Quatermass and the Pit series in the later Fifties, and for his role as James Bond’s friend, CIA agent Felix Leiter, in Goldfinger. He also appeared on Alfred Hitchcock PresentsVoyage to the Bottom of the Sea, the Amerika series, The Ray Bradbury Theatre and The New Avengers. (Died 1992.)
  • Born March 10, 1932 Robert Dowdell. He’s best known for his role as Lieutenant Commander Chip Morton in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. After that series, he showed up in genre series such as Max Headroom, Land of the GiantsBuck Rogers in the 25th Century  and Freddy’s Nightmares. (Died 2018.)
  • Born March 10, 1938 Marvin Kaye, 81. Currently the editor of Weird Tales, he has also edited magazines such as H. P. Lovecraft’s Magazine of Horror and Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine.  The Fair Folk anthology which is most excellent and which he edited won a World Fantasy Award.
  • Born March 10, 1958 Sharon Stone, 61. Damn, she’s the same age I am. She’s been in three genre films, her first being Total Recall where she played the ill-fated Lori Quaid. Her next was Sphere where she was cast as Dr. Elizabeth “Beth” Halperin, and last was in, errr, Catwoman where she was Laurel Hedare, an assassin. 
  • Born March 10, 1977 Bree Turner, 42. She’s best known for her role as Rosalee on Grimm. She also starred in the pilot episode (“Incident On and Off a Mountain Road”) of Masters of Horror. She was in Jekyll + Hyde as Martha Utterson. Confession time: I got through maybe three seasons of Grimm before giving up as it became increasingly silly.

(9) GODSTALK. Nerds of a Feather discusses “6 Books with Catherine Lundoff”:

3. Is there a book you’re currently itching to reread?

I’m in the middle of a slow reread of P.C. Hodgell’s Kencyrath series so I can get caught up with the latest volumes in time for the new book to come out later on in 2019. I’ve just finished rereading God Stalk and Dark of the Moon, so Seeker’s Mask is next. It’s been rereleased a few times but this remains my favorite cover. If you are looking for a really splendid high fantasy series with a darker edge, intricate worldbuilding, a complex heroine and fascinating cast of characters, this is one of the best around.

(10) AWARD WORTHY. Camestros Felapton is doing a review series about the Nebula-nominated novelettes. Here are links to three:

(11) SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE. Idris Elba guest hosted Saturday Night Live. His sketches included –

  • “The Impossible Hulk”
  • “Can I Play That/” in which actors are told they can’t play various parts because trolls on Twitter say they can’t.

(12) GONE CRUISIN’. I don’t know what to say… (See second tweet.)

(13) AKA JOHN CLEVE, Here’s a curiosity: a scan of a 7-page andy offutt letter to Bob Gaines from 1977, mostly a history/list of his porn novels, but also about a page of current events about his career at the time.

(14) DENIAL DENIERS. Cody Delistraty, in “John Lanchester’s Future Tells The Truth” on Vulture, profiles British novelist John Lanchester, whose new sf novel THE WALL is an attempt to educate readers about climate change without preaching to them.

…Something else sets Lanchester apart from crossover literary personalities of yore. He has the ability to deflect — and to notice, too, when most people want to look away from the truth. (He has a “deep sympathy” for climate-change deniers.) He knows where to find the most pressing emergencies facing humanity, as he’s proven time and again with his nonfiction. But, crucially, in his fiction, he also knows when and how people tend to avoid the toughest topics. A central goal of his recent novels — which grounds them in cold reality — is to draw attention to what we might otherwise not want to notice: What are the lies that we must tell ourselves? What must we believe in order to cope with the world? Questions that, perhaps unsurprisingly, spring directly from his own life.

(15) GIVE IT A MISS. Kevin Polowy, in the Yahoo! Entertaiment story “How Captain Marvel Avided Controversial Comic-Book Past To Create Empowered Female Ideal,” notes that when Carol Danvers first appeared in Marvel Comics in 1968, she was known as “Ms. Marvel,” but the producers of the Captain Marvel movie threw out these early years as sexist and based the film on a 2012 reboot of the character.

…Danvers first appeared in 1968. Originally known as Ms. Marvel, the character had fought for feminist causes throughout her comic book history, but her depiction by male writers and artists had several problematic elements. The oft-scantily clad Ms. Marvel had a tendency of being objectified or oversexualized; one infamous storyline in 1980 even featured her being raped and impregnated by an intergalactic supervillain….

(16) LEGACY. Neil Gaiman wrote this eulogy after Harlan Ellison passed away last June. It ends:

He left behind a lot of stories. But it seems to me, from the number of people reaching out to me and explaining that he inspired them, that they became writers from reading him or from listening to him on the radio or from seeing him talk (sometimes it feels like 90% of the people who came to see Harlan and Peter David and me talk after 911 at MIT have gone on to become writers) and that his real legacy was of writers and storytellers and people who were changed by his stories.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. A clip from The Jack Benny Program with Rod Serling.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ. Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hictchcock, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Xtifr.]

andrew j. offutt (1934-2013)

offuttandy offutt, perennially popular convention toastmaster, prolific sf/fantasy author and two-term President of SFWA (1976-1978), died April 30 at the age of 78.  

offutt, who typed his byline in lower-case, wrote dozens of published novels, many under pseudonyms (most frequently, “John Cleve”), producing fiction so rapidly he teased that his idea of “writer’s block” was getting stuck for 45-minutes as he dramatized in the introduction to his story “For Value Received” in Harlan Ellison’s Again, Dangerous Visions.

i fought. i kept sitting down and trying to type. i snarled, cursed, cussed, obscenitized. Kept on fingering keys. (i use three fingers, one of which is on my left hand. it gets sorest.) i kept on. Come on, damn you! i know what a block is. i’d liefer forget, and i will never stop at a stopping point again!

His first professional sf story was the winner of the College SF Contest sponsored by If.  “And Gone Tomorrow” appeared in 1954. His next sale, “Blacksword,” appeared in Galaxy in 1959. “Population Implosion” was selected by Wollheim and Carr for Ace’s World’s Best SF (1968). His first science fiction novel followed a Sixties vogue for funky titles – Evil Is Live Spelled Backwards (1970).  

Prior to becoming a full-time writer offutt worked several years for Proctor & Gamble, then ran insurance agencies in three Kentucky towns.

He married Jodie McCabe in 1957. They have two daughters and two sons, including author Christopher Offutt.

An energetic and amusing speaker, offutt was constantly in demand as a convention toastmaster. But, at the peak of his popularity, when called upon to emcee the 1974 Worldcon banquet, things seemed to get away from him. He extemporized for so long it was perceived as a discourtesy to GoH Roger Zelazny. Although offutt’s reputation suffered, his friends rallied and showed their affection by making him the 1975 Midwestcon guest of honor – the only GoH the con had ever had up to that time.

offutt promptly rebounded in professional circles and was twice elected President of SFWA. Jodie Offutt wrote that among her husband’s greatest pleasures as president was giving the Grand Master Award to Clifford B. Simak (1977).

“Cliff,” he said, lip trem­bling as he handed it to him, “I’ve got tears in my eyes just presenting this. Why the heck aren’t you cry­ing?”

“Andy,” Cliff told him, “when I’m in my room by my­self and I look at it, then I’ll cry.”

Highly regarded by pros, offutt also was fan-friendly, often writing for fanzines. He contributed “A Chatty, Preferably Controversial Column” to Tom Reamy’s Trumpet, actively participated in all the arguments in Richard Geis’ various fanzines, and wrote letters to Algol, Mobius Trip and my own zines (though I heard from Jodie far more often).

He was honored with the Phoenix Award for lifetime achievement at the 1986 DeepSouthCon – where he was also, of course, toastmaster.

Later in life he had various health problems: a heart bypass in 1999, and a perforated ulcer in 2001 that forced him to step aside as toastmaster for Kubla Khan 29.

One of his collaborators, Richard K. Lyons, recalls:

As things worked out, Andy and I wrote and published four novels together. The problem that finally made us stop was that we were having too much fun. While that was fine by me since I was in it mostly for fun, Andy had a living to earn and the fun was eating a lot of his time.

For a man who needed to make a living, andy offutt was always remarkably generous with his time and writing talents. I won’t forget that.

[Thanks to Sam Long for the story.]