Pixel Scroll 1/15/23 Suddenly, There Was A Knock On The Pixel

(1) 2023 HORROR UNIVERSITY ONLINE WINTER SESSION. The Horror Writers Association will run its Winter 2023 Horror University Online session from February 6 to April 3. They will present eight workshops for horror writers interested in refining their writing, learning new skills and techniques, or perfecting their manuscript presentation. Full descriptions and registration information is available in the Horror University School on Teachable.  
 
The Winter 2023 Session includes:

February 6: The Master Plotting Crash Course with John Skipp.
February 13: Decoding Screenwriting with L. Marie Wood.
February 27: Writing “Spooky” Stories for Younger Readers (Middle Grade and Young Adult) with Jennifer Brody.
March 6: Behind the Badge: Creating Realistic Law Enforcement Characters with Alicia Hilton.
March 13: What Makes a Good Scary Story with Patricia Marcantonio.
March 20: Graphic Horror: Creating Horror Comics and Graphic Novels with James Chambers.
March 27: Perfecting Your Pitch with Jonathan Maberry.
April 3: Upping Your Anthology Game with Michael Knost.

Registration is $65 for non-HWA-members, $55 for HWA members, and four- and eight-course bundles are available. Discount codes, available to HWA members only, can be found in the next Internet Mailer, which will be sent to all members shortly.

(2) HWA BLACK HERITAGE INTERVIEW ROUNDUP. There’s a “Complete List of 2022 Black Heritage Series Interviewees” at the Horror Writers Association blog. Links to 18 interviews.

As we prepare to roll out the 2023 Black Heritage Month Interview, let’s stop and take a look back at our first year of interviews from 2022

(3) PROVE YOU’RE NOT A ROBOT. David D. Levine has raised a new point of netiquette in this Facebook post.

Context: in a conversation about Y2K bugs, two different friends of mine (definitely real people) chose to post comments which were the output of chatbots. In one case the poster said “I posed your question to a chatbot and it said this,” in the other the poster posted a short story related to the question which was, to my eye, clearly the output of a chatbot, and when asked the poster confirmed that it was.

I do not find chatbot output amusing any more, except in the case where it goes hilariously wrong. And I find posting chatbot output into a conversation with friends, as though it was something you’d actually put any effort into, to be offensive. (I didn’t know this until it happened.)…

More exposition at the link.

(4) THE TIDE GOES OUT. “‘Avatar’: The Way of the Restroom”  — the New York Times

…“It was honestly all the water,” said Mr. Brizard, 29, who works in finance and lives in Scottsdale, Ariz.

The sea gushes, gurgles and sprays across the screen in James Cameron’s “Avatar” sequel, which immerses viewers in the richly textured aquatic world of a clan of reef-dwelling Na’vi. These photorealistic ocean sequences make up the bulk of a lengthy epic that many are watching in theaters with vats of soda in hand, creating a perfect storm for moviegoers to need to take one or more bathroom breaks.

The water scenes are especially vivid in IMAX 3-D, according to Mr. Brizard, who moved to an aisle seat after his first trip to the restroom so he wouldn’t have to step over other audience members on subsequent visits. “All the splashing noises, it’s all a constant reminder,” he said.

Mr. Cameron, who has encouraged fans to see “Avatar” in theaters, saw this coming.

“Here’s the big social paradigm shift that has to happen: It’s OK to get up and go pee,” he said in an interview with Empire magazine. He added that he did not want anyone “whining about length” when people are perfectly willing to watch eight straight hours of television. (Television, it must be said, is easier to pause than a movie in a theater.)

In November, Mr. Cameron told The Hollywood Reporter that moviegoers should go to the bathroom “any time they want” during the movie. “They can see the scene they missed when they come see it again,” the director added….

(5) 2023 WESTERCON. Arlene Busby, chair of Westercon75, sent an update to the SMOFs email list. The con is being held June 30-July 3 at the Clarion Hotel Anaheim at 616 Convention Way, Anaheim, CA 92802. The GoH’s are Fantasy Writer Gail Carriger and Science GoH Dr Kevin Grazier. If anyone needs to reach her she can be emailed at [email protected] 

(6) FREE READ. Sunday Morning Transport appeals for subscribers by posting the free story “Our Lady of Tomorrow” by Natalie C. Parker.

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1948 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.] Rex Stout’s recipe for his perfect omelet

I was intending to, and I will in this series of essays, go into Nero Wolfe’s rather deep fondness for food and drink. But I found something even better in And Be a Villain (British title, More Deaths Than One) the Nero Wolfe novel by Rex Stout that was first published by the Viking Press in 1948. 

It is Rex Stout’s recipe for his perfect omelet. Really it is. It’s also in The Nero Wolfe Cookbook as published by Viking Press in 1973 where the Viking editors then credit it to Wolfe a quarter of a century later. If you decide to purchase this cookbook, do not buy the 1981 paperback as it has but a sampling of the 1973 recipes. Boo, hiss! 

And now, here’s Stout’s perfect omelet recipe.

It is better to make two small omelets than a large one. Beat four eggs in a bowl, adding two Tbsps. of milk or cream if you wish; I don’t. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Heat one scant Tbsp. butter in a skillet over a hot fire. When the butter is hot but before it smokes, add the eggs all at once. Quickly, with a fork, pull the edges of the egg mass toward the center as they thicken. The liquid part will immediately fill the vacant spaces. Repeat until there is no more liquid but the eggs are still very soft. Gently press the handle of the skillet downward and let the omelet slide toward it. When 1/3 of the omelet has slid up the edge of the pan, fold it toward the center with a spatula. Raise the handle to slide the omelet in the opposite direction, and when 1/3 is up the far edge hold a dish (heated) under it. As the rim of the omelet touches the dish, raise the handle until the skillet is upside down. The result should be an oval-shaped light-brown omelet.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 15, 1879 Ernest  Thesiger. He’s here because of his performance as Doctor Septimus Pretorius in James Whale’s Bride of Frankenstein. He had a major role in Hitchcock’s not completed and now lost Number 13 (or Mrs. Peabody) which is even genre adjacent. He was also in The Ghoul which was an early Boris Karloff film. And he continued to show up in SFF films such as The Ghosts of Berkeley Square where he was Dr. Cruickshank of Psychical Research Society. (Died 1961.)
  • Born January 15, 1913 Lloyd Bridges. Though I’m reasonably sure Secret Agent X-9, a 1945 serial, isn’t genre, I’m listing it anyways because I’m impressed because it was based on a comic strip by Dashiell Hammett, Leslie Charteris and others. He’s the Pilot Col. Floyd Graham in Rocketship X-M, Dr. Doug Standish In Around the World Under the Sea, Aramis in The Fifth Musketeer, Clifford Sterling in Honey, I Blew Up the Kid and Grandfather in Peter and the Wolf. His television appearances are too many to list here. (Died 1998.)
  • Born January 15, 1924 Dennis Lynds. He only wrote two sf novels, probably pulp ones at that, Lukan War and The Planets of Death, but I’m intrigued that he also penned eight titles of The Shadow from 1964 to 1967 under the Shadow’s author by-line of Maxwell Grant. He also, and I count this as genre, under the name of Robert Hart Davis penned a number of Man from U.N.C.L.E. novellas that all ran in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Magazine. And over four decades he published some eighty novels and two hundred short stories, in both mystery and literary themes. (Died 2005.)
  • Born January 15, 1928 Joanne Linville. Best remembered I’d say for being the unnamed Romulnan Commander Spock gets involved with on “The Enterprise Incident”. (Vulcan’s Heart by Josepha Sherman and Susan Shwartz, calls her Liviana Charvanek.)  She also starred in the Twilight Zone‘s “The Passersby” episode, and she starred in “I Kiss Your Shadow” which was the final episode of the Bus Stop series. The episode was based on the short story by Robert Bloch who wrote the script for it. This story is in The Early Fears Collection. (Died 2021.)
  • Born January 15, 1935 Robert Silverberg, 88.  I know the first thing I read by him was The Stochastic Man a very long time ago. After that I’ve read all of the Majipoor series which is quite enjoyable, and I know I’ve read a lot of his short fiction down the years. So what should I have read by him that I haven’t? 
  • Born January 15, 1944 Christopher Stasheff. A unique blending I’d say of fantasy and SF with a large if sometimes excessive dollop of humor. His best-known novels are his Warlock in Spite of Himself series which I’ve read some of years ago. Who here has read has Starship Troupers series? It sounds potentially interesting. (Died 2018.)
  • Born January 15, 1945 Ron Bounds, 78. One of the founders of the Baltimore Science Fiction Society in the Sixties. He co-chaired Discon 2, was a member of both the Baltimore in ’67 and Washington in ’77 bid committees.  He chaired Loscon 2.  He published the Quinine, a one-shot APA. He was President of the Great Wall of China SF, Marching & Chop Suey Society which is both a cool name and a great undertaking as well.
  • Born January 15, 1965 James Nesbitt, 58. Best genre role was as Tom Jackman and Hyde in Jekyll which was written by Steven Moffat. He’s also appeared in Fairy TalesThe Young Indiana Jones ChroniclesStan Lee’s Lucky Man and Outcast. Yes, I know he played Bofur in the Hobbit films. I still consider Jekyll his better by far genre role. 

(9) LOOTING THE UKRAINE. “As Russians Steal Ukraine’s Art, They Attack Its Identity, Too” explains the New York Times.

…As Russia has ravaged Ukraine with deadly missile strikes and brutal atrocities on civilians, it has also looted the nation’s cultural institutions of some of the most important and intensely protected contributions of Ukraine and its forebears going back thousands of years.

International art experts say the plundering may be the single biggest collective art heist since the Nazis pillaged Europe in World War II.

… In Kherson, in Ukraine’s south, Ukrainian prosecutors and museum administrators say the Russians stole more than 15,000 pieces of fine art and one-of-a-kind artifacts. They dragged bronze statues from parks, lifted books from a riverside scientific library, boxed up the crumbling, 200-year-old bones of Grigory Potemkin, Catherine the Great’s lover, and even stole a raccoon from the zoo, leaving behind a trail of vacant cages, empty pedestals and smashed glass.

Ukrainian officials say that Russian forces have robbed or damaged more than 30 museums — including several in Kherson, which was retaken in November, and others in Mariupol and Melitopol, which remain under Russian occupation. With Ukrainian investigators still cataloging the losses of missing oil paintings, ancient steles, bronze pots, coins, necklaces and busts, the number of reported stolen items is likely to grow….

(10) BOOKSTORES SPOTLIGHTED. Hadassah Magazine’s list of “America’s Distinctive Jewish-Owned Bookstores” includes The Ripped Bodice, a romance specialty bookstore in Los Angeles.

“Books belong in a Jewish home,” affirms Leah Koch, who with her sister, Bea, owns the Los Angeles romance-focused bookstore The Ripped Bodice. Indeed, a section of the bright and enticing store looks like a living room, complete with shabby chic sofas and love seat.

For the Koches, bookselling fulfills a larger mission to promote diversity. While the six- year-old store’s white shelves are stacked with every type of romance book possible, from Regency (Julia Quinn’s “Bridgerton” series is a favorite) to erotica, the sisters deliberately showcase Jewish, LGBTQ and non-white storylines and authors, all of which are underrepresented in the romance genre.

Toward December, rather than putting up tinsel, the owners mounted a riotous blue-and-white Hanukkah display in the shop windows. Angelenos cruising by the pink Culver City storefront couldn’t miss the oversized dreidels, menorahs and posters of Jewish-themed books like Jean Meltzer’s The Matzah Ball.

(11) CURRENT EVENTS. Today Norman Spinrad reminded readers of his email list where to find a video of his performance at the Electric Circus in Paris. “Norman Spinrad chante sur la piste du Cirque Electrique”.

(12) WET WORK. These California storms have got water on everyone’s brain – which seems to be the source of these ideas from regular contributor Michael Toman.

QUEST TALES OF ATMOSPHERIC RIVERWORLDedited and written by Philip Jose Farmer & “Divers Hands?”

Or maybe another crossover with one of my other favorite PJF series, featuring Paul Janus Finnegan, aka “Kickaha?”

RED ORC’S OMEGA COAST MAKEOVER UNIVERSE?

With a J.M.W. Turner inspired cover by John Schoenherr?

First line?

“Didn’t it rain, Lords, Lords, didn’t it rain?”

Yeah, this Long-Time Farmerphile would buy that book in a Dayworld Nano-Second!

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. The Mysterious Galaxy bookstore’s YouTube channel includes videos of many virtual events, including the recently posted recording of “Author Seanan McGuire, in discussion with Nghi Vo”.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Cat Rambo, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jon Meltzer.]

25 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 1/15/23 Suddenly, There Was A Knock On The Pixel

  1. (3) I have a longstanding rule of not conversing with computers. I think chatbots belong under a similar ban.

    (8) I never got my hands on a copy of Starship Troupers, to my regret.

    (9) I’m disgusted but not at all surprised.

  2. There was a knock on the pixel… as long as it wasn’t a dark and stormy pixel.
    3. Agreed, 200%. Why the hell are you even online, if not to say what you are thinking?
    7. I do an omelet differently – the way I read in a french cookbook, and that’s to lift the edges as you tilt the pan, to let the still liquid part run under. And what, no sauteed onion? Mushrooms? and WHERE’S THE CHEESE? On the other hand, unlike 90% of the cooks at hotel omelet lines, you NEVER flip the omelet.
    Birthdays: you missed Lloyd Bridge in Airplane II (“Bridge” “We don’t have a bridge, this is a base on the Moon!” – his imitation of Kirk).
    Ron Bounds and BSFS. He couldn’t make the party last night for the 60th anniversary of BSFS.
    And… maybe I was wrong, about whether we’d “won” the culture wars. I mean, the Comptroller of Baltimore was there (former BSFS member), and the Delegate from the MD House that the building’s in). And a certificate from our US Senators….

  3. (7) I bought a used paperback copy of “And Be a Villain” last week. I’ll look forward to seeing the omelette recipe in context.

  4. 8) Re Silverberg: I read “Revolt on Alpha C,” his first novel, when I was 12 years old (still have a copy of it), and then read a bunch of his short fiction in IF and Galaxy for several years. After “Hawksbill Station,” his novels got too depressing for words–and then he wrote the Majipoor series, which was a grand pick-me-up.

    In “Alpha C,” Silverberg’s protagonist has an acerbic, cynical, ill-tempered buddy named either “Harl Ellison” or “Harlan Ellis” (I can’t recall which, offhand).

  5. 7) More my speed Is Ian Fleming’s ” Scrambled Eggs ‘James Bond’ ” (originally published in Octopussy and the Living Daylights)

    “For FOUR individualists:
    12 fresh eggs
    Salt and pepper
    5-6 oz. of fresh butter
    Break the eggs into a bowl. Beat thoroughly with a fork and season well. In a small copper (or heavy-bottomed saucepan) melt four oz. of the butter. When melted, pour in the eggs and cook over a very low heat, whisking continuously with a small egg whisk.
    While the eggs are slightly more moist than you would wish for eating, remove pan from heat, add rest of butter and continue whisking for half a minute, adding the while finely chopped chives or fine herbs. Serve on hot buttered toast in individual copper dishes (for appearance only) with pink champagne (Taittinger) and low music.”

    If substitutions are required, I suppose Bollinger or Moet & Chandon would suffice.

  6. (8) Silverberg’s Downward to the Earth, Nightwings, and The Man in the Maze are all remarkable novels.

  7. (8) We watched Bridges in “Sea Hunt” when I was a kid. I think that might count as genre…

  8. Ernest Thesiger also appeared in “The Old Dark House” 1932 directed by James Whale from the book “Benighted” by J. B. Priestly. Thesiger played Horace Femm. And what a cast this one has! Boris Karloff, Gloria Stuart, Melvyn Douglas and Charles Laughton. The film was just restored and released on Disc (DVD & Blu Ray) and is just gorgeous. Thesiger was by turns menacing and hilarious and no one could wring such contempt, condescension and miserliness from a line like “Have a potato”

  9. (13) I have read/enjoyed most of Seanan McGuire’s work and plan to keep doing so. I’ll have to keep an eye out for Nghi Vo’s now.

  10. Richard Moore, raconteur and occasional mystery writer, regaled a room party one night with a retelling of The Old Dark House. It was glorious.

    (One of my most treasured memories is a story-telling duel between Richard Moore and Joe Lansdale at a Bouchercon in Las Vegas. I don’t ever expect to see its like again.)

  11. (4) Wow, I already had very little interest in seeing the new Avatar movie, but Cameron’s response of “oh, if you missed a scene, just [pay to] watch the movie again” has made me proud to not see it even once!

  12. Silverberg: Everything, of course. Like Brunner he’s good even when in writing-for-Heinlein’s-beer-money mode. A very good storyteller with a great feeling for timing. They don’t make ’em like this anymore.

  13. By Silverberg : Lord of darkness. It isn’t SFF, more historical fiction but it’s a very great book. A dive in the darkness of the equatorial forest and of the human soul.

  14. 8) Silverberg: his circa 1968-1975 work (many novels and short stories). Warning: the Sexism Fairy is present re: his female characters.

  15. Silverberg: A friend and I learned to juggle as teens after reading “Lord Valentine’s Castle”. Sadly, I never figured out how to juggle while blindfolded. But I can still cascade three reasonably similar-sized/weighted objects for a minute or two. Amazon offers four volumes of his short fiction broken down by when they were first published. Worth the effort as very few of his stories fail even at this late date.

    4) I’m glad to see that I’m in excellent company when it comes to deciding not to see the new Avatar movie.

    3) I’ve never conversed with a computer. I’ve cursed at a few, but they never respond for some reason.

    Regards,
    Dann
    History, in general, only informs us of what bad government is… – Thomas Jefferson

  16. @Steve Wright: I enjoyed Book of Skulls, and would also recommend it, but some of native New Yorker (although I think he’d moved to California by the time he wrote this novel) Silverberg’s conceptions of what life outside of New York City was like are pretty…eccentric, to say the least. (Unintentionally hilarious would not be wide of the mark.)

  17. @mark:

    While Lloyd Bridges was in Airplane II (the same role as he had in Airplane, if memory serves), the Moonbase Commander (Buck Murdock) and William Shatner imitator was played by one William Shatner.

  18. When introducing new people to SF my go to is SilverBob’s short story “Good News from the Vatican”. Given the current kerfuffle over ChatBot and other ‘creative’ A.I. algorithms, that story becomes more and more relevant every day. Even more so nowadays, my follow-up conversation with that inquisitive person usually gets them hooked.

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