Pixel Scroll 10/29/16 Best Pixel Scroll Title Ever

(1) ORIGIN STORY. Paris Review kicked off a series of posts about the author of Dracula with “Something in the Blood, Part 1”.

To celebrate the spookiest of holidays, we’re publishing a selection of excerpts from David J. Skal’s Something in the Blood, a biography of Bram Stoker, published this month by Liveright. First up: the origins of Dracula.

There are many stories about how Bram Stoker came to write Dracula, but only some of them are true. According to his son, Stoker always claimed the inspiration for the book came from a nightmare induced by “a too-generous helping of dressed crab at supper”—a dab of blarney the writer enjoyed dishing out when asked, but no one took seriously (it may sound too much like Ebenezer Scrooge, famously dismissing Marley’s ghost as “an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese”). But that hasn’t stopped the midnight snack of dressed crab from being served up as a matter of fact by countless people on countless occasions. While the nightmare aspect may well have some validity—Stoker’s notes at least suggest that the story might have had its genesis in a disturbing vision or reverie—it exemplifies the way truth, falsehood, and speculation have always conspired to distort Dracula scholarship. An unusually evocative piece of storytelling, Dracula has always excited more storytelling—both in endlessly embellished dramatizations and in the similarly ornamented accounts of its own birth process.

(2) SOFT OPENING. Quill & Quire previews the new Toronto Bar “Famous Last Words”.

For readers looking for a casual haunt to sit down with a good book and a drink (or writers looking for a few strong ounces of liquid creativity)‚ Toronto’s Junction neighbourhood [is] home to a literary-themed bar‚ slated to open Oct. 14. Famous Last Words – echoing CanLit legend Timothy Findley’s 1981 novel of the same name – will feature craft cocktails “with a literary twist‚” with book-inspired names like The English Patient‚ Cryptonomicon‚ The Perks of Being a Wallflower‚ and Fahrenheit 451.

The bar’s bookish decor includes a Scrabble-tile-topped bar‚ bookshelf wallpaper‚ washrooms for Jane Austens or Oscar Wildes‚ typewriters‚ and‚ of course‚ plenty of paperbacks to browse on a bar-spanning book wall.

(3) TAKING UP TIME. David Brin’s book recommendation post includes these playful words about Time Travel: A History, by science historian James Gleick.

This chapter does not mention the array of sneaky means by which we sci fi authors try to weasel our way around causality and temporal protection. One is the universe branching point. When Spock accidentally lures a vengeful Romulan to go back in time and destroy Planet Vulcan (in J.J. Abrams’s Star Trek flick) many fans consoled themselves that this is just a branching-off of a newborn parallel reality… that the older timeline still stands, where Shatner-Kirk and all the rest remain, along the original timeline, like a trellis for the new one to grow alongside.

Well, well, that’s an artistic representation of one of many ways that physicists (at least a few) think that paradoxes might be resolved. Speaking as both a physicist and a science fiction author, I must say that this very loose partnership is one of the most fun that our unique and marvelous civilization offers, during a unique and marvelous… time.

(4) FELINE FEST. For National Cat Day, Jeff Somers of the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog has compiled “The 25 Best Cats in Sci-Fi & Fantasy”. (Not all of them are cats strictly speaking – for example, Aslan is on this list.)

Lying Cat in Saga, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples If you Google “lying cat” you’ll be rewarded with a slew of images of a fierce-looking cat saying the word “lying” in various tones—from vicious to interrogative. Lying cat can always tell if someone is deliberately lying, and thus is an invaluable companion to bounty hunter The Will in this remarkable comic series. More than just a very large cat that acts as a lie detector, Lying Cat is also a fierce warrior, and fiercely loyal. The fact that a cat that comes up to The Will’s shoulder was the runt of its litter should disturb you.

(5) DON’T YOU THINK SHE LOOKS TIRED? Fansided’s “Doctor Who Watch” uncovered scandalous facts in a candidate’s leaked emails — “Hillary Clinton Reportedly Calls Doctor Who ‘Boring Garbage’”

However, there is one email* that has come out that may truly signal the end of her hopes for the Presidency. Instead of being political in nature, or housing secret government information, this email discusses Doctor Who — or, rather, how she just does not appreciate the show, calling it “boring garbage” and feeling as though she is being left out on a joke that everyone else understands

…But to say that Doctor Who is boring garbage? Well, that crosses a line that few would dare to verbalize. In saying that, she has, in effect, removed the Whovian demographic from her voting population. Yes, she has a somewhat higher opinion of Sherlock, which has a great deal of overlap in terms of fandom, but to attack the Doctor?

(6) SAVE OUR STOTTIES. Fanhumorist and distinguished geezer Graham Charnock is in jeopardy of being denied access to an essential food group. He has launched a petition at Change.org

Greggs have ceased to sell ham and pease pudding stotties, a staple food of the Tyneside community. Let’s persuade them they are wrong that there is no demand.

Our goal is to reach 100 signatures and we need more support.

You can read more and sign the petition here.

And to reassure yourself this is not (entirely) a hoax, you can study up on Tyneside cuisine in this Chronicle article.

(7) ZACHERLE OBIT. Horror movie TV host John Zacherle died October 27 at the age of 98 reports the New York Times.

[He] played a crypt-dwelling undertaker with a booming graveyard laugh on stations in Philadelphia and New York in the late 1950s and early ’60s…

In 1953 he began appearing as characters on “Action in the Afternoon,” a live western series shot in a vacant lot behind the studios of WCAU. “The idea was to get somebody in trouble on Monday, and either get him out of trouble, shoot him or hang him by Friday,” he told The Daily News in 1959.

One of his recurring characters was an undertaker named Grimy James, whose frock coat came in handy when the station bought a collection of 52 old horror films from Universal. The station manager, reviewing his new acquisition, decided that most of the films were so bad, he would have to build a show around them to add entertainment value.

Mr. Zacherle put on the frock coat and, in October 1957, went to work as the host of “The Shock Theater” (later simply “Shock Theater”), bringing with him an endless supply of sight gags and ad-lib patter.

A rabid fan base developed. When the station held an open house, expecting about 1,500 viewers to turn up, 13,000 stormed the studio to meet the Cool Ghoul, as Mr. Zacherle was known.

(8) CONVENTION IN A SYNAGOGUE. The first Jewish Comic Con takes place in Brooklyn on November 13.

All it took was a Shabbat dinner between the President of Congregation Kol Israel, Fred Polaniecki, and comic book creator Fabrice Sapolsky. Together, they outlined the Jewish Comic Con – a place to explore how Jewish identity has influenced comics both on the page and behind the scenes. Featuring panel discussions, artist tables, and lots of shmoozing,…

Now, Congregation Kol Israel is proud to organize the first ever Comic Con in a synagogue, our synagogue!

(9) PLAID AND PROUD. A kilt reference in yesterday’s Scroll prompted John King Tarpinian to remind me about the local Pasadena specialty store Off Kilter Kilts.

Southern California’s only multi-brand modern kilt store is celebrating its first anniversary on August 27, 2016.

Kilters from across the region will be converging on the store to mark the occasion with owner J.T. Centonze and the rest of the OKK crew. With more than 800 kilts sold in the first year, Off Kilter Kilts has a lot to celebrate.

Off Kilter Kilts has become a regular sight at local Renaissance Faires, Highland Games, and Celtic Festivals. They can also be seen around Pasadena hosting Kilts and Drinks nights at local restaurants.


(10) THE WINNER. Jonathan Maberry explains that the Canyon Crest Academy Writers Conference is the nation’s only absolutely free writers conference for teens. This year the conference inaugurated an award and named it after an author – him — the Jonathan Maberry Inspiring Teens Award. Then they turned around and made Maberry the first winner. Says  Maberry, “I’m insanely honored to be the recipient of an award that is named after me. Yeah…I know. That’s surreal.”

(11) HAM ON VINYL. Someone sent along a link to William Shatner Live, a 1977 spoken word album. With the assurance, “No, I’ve not listened to it.” I must confess I have honored that choice myself, beyond about the first 15 seconds of the YouTube recording listed below.

The Wikipedia article on the album includes the text of William Shatner’s explanation for doing this one-man show on stage.

If I were good, it would be the actor’s dream– but if it failed I would be alone. Alone up there with thousands of eyes peering at me — opera glasses raised for a closer look, and the unasked but heavily felt question “what’s he going to do?”

All this was going through my head as I learned the lines — all this was in front of my eyes as I lay down at night — and when the day came that I was to open at Texas A&M University I was filled with fear.

A very primitive fear — the fear of the actor. The nightmare that all actors have from time to time is appearing naked in front of an audience — not knowing the lines, not knowing the play — I was living the dream.

Thirty-five hundred people awaited me expectantly; the buzz of their voices reached me backstage, the lights dimmed, the M.C. announced my name and I walked out. The spotlight hit me like a physical force and I was on — oh muse, be with me know — I took a breath & started to speak…


[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, Cat Eldridge, Steven H Silver, David K.M. Klaus, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jonathan Edelstein.]

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77 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 10/29/16 Best Pixel Scroll Title Ever

  1. Darren Garrison: I like Dr. Who. But I have a hard time considering it science fiction. The only thing you need to do to make it into a fantasy series is to replace the screwdriver with a stick.

    I also had a hard time considering it science fiction. Then I read somebody’s explanation (I wish I’d saved the link) that Doctor Who is horror. And when I looked at the typical episode as a horror story I was able to enjoy it much more because my expectations about internal consistency etc. are much different for horror.

    This 1990 article by David Carroll isn’t the one I’m looking for, however, the first paragraph conveys the essence:

    Doctor Who was not conceived as a horror program, just as the Doctor was not conceived to be a Time Lord, it just happened that way. And of course actually calling it a horror program detracts from the overall variety that goes into its production. Doctor Who is a comedy, and a drama, and a satire, and a space opera and an action/adventure show, among others, and in many of these aspects it excels. But despite all this it is the horror that holds a special significance for many people. Indeed the two greatest periods of the shows history, in my ‘umble opinion anyway, that of seasons 13-14 and seasons 25-26 both achieved their successes through formats intended to scare, whilst the other era of the Doctor Who horror story, seasons 4-5 holds a similar fascination to those who have actually seen it. Time and again the show has proven it can send shivers up the spine, often with exhilarating results. It’s the sort of thing that would inspire one to write a fanzine dedicated to it, and as an introduction to this column I’m going to take a general look at the horror genre, why it is so effective, and why it is so important to Doctor Who.

  2. Doctor Who stories are the Doctor entering and disrupting stories that span science-fiction, fantasy and horror or meld all three. The settings propose one story and then that story goes off in a Doctor Who direction instead.

  3. Camestros Felapton: The settings propose one story and then that story goes off in a Doctor Who direction instead.

    That’s not an explanation that makes me like the show more. I’m glad I ran into the horror explanation.

  4. @cam @mike
    The way I’ve heard it, similar to Cam is that Doctor Who is a “genre machine” sort of show, which does take a DW spin on a particular genre with various episodes, seasons and showrunners.

  5. I have not watched much DOCTOR WHO, but it seems to me it’s a superhero series. Which, like other superhero series, chews up and spits out other genres at will, taking whatever it likes from them.

  6. Too late to edit, but this is the Prattchett article I was actually remembering. The link to the article from various sites at the time is broken, but luckily it is archived.

  7. Kurt Busiek on October 31, 2016 at 11:57 am said:

    I have not watched much DOCTOR WHO, but it seems to me it’s a superhero series. Which, like other superhero series, chews up and spits out other genres at will, taking whatever it likes from them.

    I agree – it is also the answer to why there aren’t any really definitive British superheroes, there are but they just aren’t usually seen as being part of that genre (e.g. Sherlock Holmes, James Bond & Doctor Who)

  8. Mike Glyer on October 31, 2016 at 11:21 am said:

    Camestros Felapton: The settings propose one story and then that story goes off in a Doctor Who direction instead.

    That’s not an explanation that makes me like the show more. I’m glad I ran into the horror explanation

    I think it is a correct one (as far as such things go) but it focuses on the mechanics in a way that detracts from the show and the story.

    The horror one is better and fits closest to its traditional role of frightening the living day lights out of children.

  9. @PhilRM said:

    @Msb: Here in Colorado the default is also vote by mail, so my wife and I voted a week ago – as always, I delivered our ballots to the County Clerk’s office rather than putting them in the post.

    Same here. May have reported in a previous thread or elsewhere – my husband and I took our ballots over to BeauJo’s for Civic Duty Lunch the first weekend after we received them. Dropped them off in County Clerk & Recorder’s drop box on our way home. Am waiting for the promised reduction in political phone calls.

    Saw that Trump’s “the vote is rigged” theme includes specific suspicion of Colorado’s mail-in ballot, though it is unclear whether he is warning that Democrats will try to vote twice (once by mail early and then in person on Election Day) or whether he is encouraging Republicans to do exactly that. Fun times.

  10. Mike, Doctor Who as horror is an interesting perspective. I’d never thought of it that way.

    During certain incarnations of The Doctor, it’s been a monster of the week show. During those eras, there were concerns about the suitibility of the show for young children.

    Indeed, various Who spinoffs – Sarah Jane Chronicles, Torchwood, and most recently Class – have been devoted to kicking alien monster butt.

    Of course, not all the aliens are scary monsters. Some are friendly monsters seeking The Doctor’s help, but monsters nevertheless.

    I like the idea of Doctor Who as superhero too. Instead of a star spangled shield, a swinging hammer, or a flying, laser spewing suit, he has a time traveling spaceship and a sonic screwdriver.

    But a reincarnating life force, is that sci fi or fantasy?

  11. Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little on October 31, 2016 at 2:21 pm said:
    The Mary Sue reports…

    Yeah, I hoped someone had posted that. I guess one person’s freedom to be an ass (suitably disguised as freedom of speech because that makes it less likely you’ll do some self reflection) can pretty easily be another’s war on women. Since I’m in the second group, it just feels like one more assault.

  12. Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little on October 31, 2016 at 2:21 pm said:
    I think that Escher Girls has covered their art. (Such as it is.) The work at the top of the Mary Sue post is one I’ve seen at Escher Girls, anyway.

  13. (5). Well it’s nice to have one thing modestly in common.

    On another front, Serrano, Hebdo, and Cho. They share far more than the last letter in their names.

  14. @Mike Glyer: Originally I felt like the new Who made way too many real horror episodes (sometimes like a creepy-mystery-creature of the week show!); I’m not really into horror. I don’t remember old Who being like that, but then I’ve mostly only seen one Doctor (Tom Baker) so my memory bites, so maybe it was like that, too. But I’d be more of a Who fan if they didn’t do so much horror, and went more for science fiction.

    @Carl Slaughter: “the suitibility of the show for young children.” – Well, it never seemed aimed at young kids, so I’m not sure why it was a concern. 😉 “Sarah Jane” was aimed at kids, but enjoyed by adults, like my other half. “Torchwood” wasn’t aimed at kids, was it? (I haven’t really seen any – just my third-hand impression.) I have no idea about “Class” – the ads make it seem maybe between “Doctor Who” and “Sarah Jane” in terms of “for kids or not”???

  15. Sarah Jane was definitely aimed at kids and very popular among my fifth and sixth graders. Torchwood seemed to be aimed at older teens to adults (I’ve had 8th graders and university students who were big fans). I loved the first season of Torchwood, hated the rest.

    As for Doctor Who, I liked the original series and loved the first three seasons of the new series. Eventually I dropped out and have mixed feelings about the Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi episodes I’ve seen.

  16. I’ve never really bothered with the original series, but I do enjoy the reboot. I watched it from the start until when Tennant picked up Tate, then dropped out of it again until Matt Smith took over. I feel like the quality of it has dropped off in recent series’, though, which is a shame.

    Also, Neil Gaiman has other ideas on how to classify Dr Who.

    I suspect this is one of those times where everyone has their own opinion and it’s all equally valid depending on how you choose to view it.

  17. Doctor Who is officially sf because it’s got an sf gimmick, but that gimmick is infinitely flexible. One of the most celebrated early stories, “Marco Polo”, came from the showrunners going, “Hey, we can do anything we want with this! Let’s make a grand historical epic!”

    I started watching during the Tom Baker era, and the local PBS station didn’t show anything earlier than the Pertwee episodes (though I did get to see a few of the black-and-white stories at special showings). Collecting the DVDs and finally getting to see most of the surviving Hartnell and Troughton episodes for the first time has given me a new chance to experience how much sf on TV has changed since then. It’s not surprising if a modern sf show is best understood as horror, because horror and action-adventure is the box that English-language TV and movie sf has been largely imprisoned in.

    (This is one of the big reasons I love anime– you can still get the full range of sfnal stories.)

  18. As for new vs. old Who, I read the interviews about the revival as it was approaching, and came to the conclusion that whatever the people making it had actually liked about the original series was completely different from what I liked. I’ve heard plenty about the new series since from my friends who watch it and the geek media, but none of it has ever made me feel like I’ve missed out.

    Not feeling bitter about it, though; between some stories I barely remember and some I never saw before, as I collect the DVDs, it’s like there are still new classic episodes being made for me. And I’ve barely scratched the surface of the Big Finish audio stories.

  19. For Dr. Who fans, you might want to consider the Drunken Time Travel podcast.

    It was done by a couple of guys from the UK. The reviewed each story arc, one arc at a time. From the first to the last. I understand that the consumption of adult beverages was involved.

    They were guests on the Post Atomic Horror podcast from time to time.

    I can’t comment on the quality of the podcast, but for those that are interested in all things Doctor related, it might be worth a few minutes to check it out.


  20. Ansible is reporting the tweet about HIllary Clinton’s opinion on Doctor Who is a hoax.

    I figured that was immediately obvious. If I’d realized that people were taking it seriously, I would have said something.

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