Pixel Scroll 11/23 Mister Scrollman, Bring Me A Screed

(1) Syfy offers a free viewing of the first episode of The Expanse  — Episode 1: Dulcinea. (Also available on the Syfy Now App, Hulu, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu, iTunes, Playstation, Xbox, and Facebook.)

(2) Variety says additional episodes have been ordered for Rachel Bloom’s series and CW’s iZombie.

Freshman comedy “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” has landed five more episodes, bringing its first season total to 18, while “iZombie” has received an additional six-episode order, giving the second season a total of 19.

Audience for the Bloom series is growing slowly.

While the positively-reviewed “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” hasn’t gained much ratings traction, it has posted its best numbers to date in recent weeks. Paired with sophomore critical breakout “Jane the Virgin,” the six episodes averaged a 0.34 rating in 18-49 and about 1 million total viewers in Nielsen’s “live plus-3” estimates.

(3) Misty Massey tells about a live slushpile reading in “Getting What You Ask For” at Magical Words.

Many, many times I hear writers complain how much they hate getting form rejections from editors, because such things do nothing to help them understand why the editor didn’t want to buy their story. Editors don’t understand, they cry, that writers can’t fix stories if they aren’t told what went wrong in the first place. Some writers say editors are lazy, others think they’re cruel. For whatever reason, it’s always the editor’s fault.

A couple of years ago, David Coe approached Faith Hunter and me to present a panel called Live Action Slush. (For those who don’t know, the writers submit the first pages of their novels anonymously. A designated reader reads each page aloud, and the three of us listen as if we were slush editors, raising our hands when we reach a place that would cause us to stop reading and move on to the next submission.  Once all three hands are up, the reading stops and we discuss what made us stop reading.) David had done such a panel at another con, to great acclaim, and wanted to bring it to ConCarolinas. We had two sessions, both standing room only. As far as we could tell, anyway. We were asked to present it at Congregate later that same summer, and since then we’ve offered it in various incarnations at any cons we attended.

Most of the time, the writers seemed happy to hear our suggestions, although once in a while we would run into a writer who just couldn’t handle the idea that their story wasn’t already perfect.  You see, the point of Live Action Slush is to give the writers exactly what they’ve been complaining they never receive – a specific, clear reason for the turndown. Sometimes the problem is that nothing is happening by the time we reach the end of the first page. Sometimes the writer spends the entire first page describing the characters without giving the reader the slightest idea what the book’s about. Characters might be hideous stereotypes, or flat and wooden.  There are tons of reasons, most of which are easily repaired once the writer knows what has happened. But there are some writers who really aren’t ready to hear what needs fixing. They’ve come to the workshop fully expecting that the panelists will declare their first page to be utter brilliance. Those are the writers who storm out of the room, instead of staying to listen to the critique of other writers under the same scrutiny. They go into the hallway and tell their friends how mean we were, how we don’t really know anything. Most important, they don’t make any changes.

(4) In an Absolute Write forum, Alessandra Kelley gives the context for a wisecrack James Frenkel made on a Windycon panel and asks “Is what I witnessed abusive behavior?”

There are a number of important questions that urgently need discussing if we are to have any sort of careful, agreeable, professional and accepting environment for our conventions.

Many people make thoughtless remarks or cruel witticisms or little jokes. Should people be more mindful of them?

Is it right to treat a category of people as inherently funny or insulting?

How much tolerance should there be for little jokes? At what point does laughing them away become aiding and abetting the marginalization of a segment of the community?

Should a person with a known history of abusive behavior be held to a higher standard than others? What about a person in a position of authority?

Should we not speak up when we see such behavior?

(5) Lucy Huntzinger reports that the Down Under Fan Fund will be receiving a $2,000 donation from Sasquan, the 2015 Worldcon. The DUFF co-administrator said, “Thank you for supporting face to face encounters between international fandoms!”

(6) Today In History

The first of a four-part pilot episode of the series aired on the BBC on this day in 1963. Titled “An Unearthly Child”, the story introduced the Doctor, the Tardis, and many other things that would become hallmarks of the program.

(7) Today’s Birthday Boys

  • Born November 23, 1887 — Boris Karloff, birthname William Henry Pratt, in Camberwell, London, England.
  • Born November 23, 1914 – Wilson “Bob” Tucker

(8) Early suggestions coming in for the 2016 Worldcon program…

(9) The Kickstarter for The Dark North – Volume 1, a premium coffee table art book with new stories from Scandinavia’s best illustrators and concept artists, is just fully financed, but it’s still possible to contribute.

Artist: Lukas Thelin

Artist: Lukas Thelin

(10) “Being a Better Writer: Names”  by Max Florschutz at Unusual Things has four good ideas for dealing with a fundamental sf writing challenge.

So, naming things. This is, as you might guess, a requested topic. And to be honest, I think it’s one worth talking about.

See, naming things can actually be pretty tricky. When creating a world from scratch, or even just a redesigned/repurposed version of our own world, often one of the first things a lot of young writers do is assign their characters, places, and things very interesting names. It’s kind of a trope by this point, but if I had to guess my prediction would be that to the new writer, the goal is to excitedly show you how fantastical their world is. So they don’t have people with names like Joe or Samantha. They have people with names like Krul’Qa’pin or something like that.  And they live in the city of Byulnqualalaltipo! Aren’t those fantastic?

Well, in sense, sure. They’re also completely unpronounceable, for a start. And that is just the start.

See, there are a host of problems with names like this. The first being that they’re difficult for the reader to read, pronounce, and parse. They’re these very out there, fantastical names that are hard to make sense of, and the more of them a writer puts into his story, the harder it will be not only for the reader to keep interest, but to keep everything straight. Especially if the writer has gone and made a number of the names similar through conventions such as “I’ll stick apostrophe’s here and here and that’ll make a name.” And while it certainly might create names that look impressive, the truth is that a lot of “name creation techniques” that novice writers go for tend to create a whole host of problems like what we just discussed.

Okay, so this is writing that, if not bad, is certainly not good, clearly. But in order to avoid this trap, it’s worth understanding why it’s a trap in the first place. Why are writers doing this? What makes creating a multi-syllable name that defies typical English attractive?

(11) A dress worn by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz, (which did not win the brackets, darn it) sold at auction for $1.56 million today.

The blue and white gingham dress, one of 10 thought to have been made for Garland in her role as Dorothy in the movie, was among the top items in the Bonham’s and Turner Classic Movies Hollywood memorabilia auction….

A year ago, the Cowardly Lion costume worn by actor Bert Lahr in the movie sold for almost $3.1 million at a Bonham’s auction.

(12) National Geographic reveals “An 80-Year-Old Prank Revealed, Hiding in the Periodic Table!”

You wouldn’t know it, because it’s hiding down there at the bottom of the periodic table of elements, but it’s a prank—something a five-year-old might do—and the guy who did it was one of the greatest chemists in America. It’s pure silliness, staring right at you, right where I’ve drawn my circle, at element 94.

(13) At Motherboard, “For the First Time Ever, Astronomers Have Observed the Birth of a Planet”:

The new research, published this week in Nature, provides hard evidence of a developing gas giant orbiting a young Sunlike star called LkCa 15, located 450 light years away in the constellation Taurus. What’s more, it appears as if at least two other giant bébés are also forming around the star, though only one was directly detected.

“No one has successfully and unambiguously detected a forming planet before,” said astronomer Kate Follette, a co-author on the study, in a statement. “There have always been alternate explanations, but in this case we’ve taken a direct picture, and it’s hard to dispute that.”

(14) Click at your own risk! From ScienceFiction.com “Thanks To A Leaked Children’s Book We Have Some HUGE ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Spoilers!”

(15) “Steven Moffat Reveals the Nightmare Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special We Could Have Had” on io9.

But while those meetings went on, more and more actors publicly denied that they would be a part of the special, prompting growing discontent from Doctor Who fans—who didn’t realize that behind-the-scenes problems with the script, and a ticking clock, meant that Moffat very nearly had to scrape together a story with whatever actors he could find. Case in point? In one form or another, there was a story outline for “The Day of the Doctor” that featured no Doctors at all… only Jenna Coleman as Clara.

(16) A project known as “Justice League Dark” is inching closer to a greenlight. Joblo lists the front-running candidates to direct:

Things are heating up for DARK UNIVERSE, as casting rumors have been swirling around the past week and now we have word on who the studio is eyeing to direct the supernatural superhero tale. We’re told that BIG BAD WOLVES directing duo Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado, as well as EVIL DEAD remake director Fede Alvarez are the top contenders to take the gig right now. Both sets of filmmakers have a strong grasp of the dark and macabre genre and would easily fill the shoes of Guillermo Del Toro, who left the film after turning in his screenplay and toiling with the studio over casting and scheduling. However, Del Toro’s script is said to be excellent and one of the main reasons that the studio is pushing to get JLD underway with a shooting start in early 2016.

Yahoo! says Dark Universe is expected to put the spotlight on some of the lesser-known heroes and villains of the DC Comics universe whose adventures typically involve magic or supernatural elements of some sort.

Among the characters rumored to have a role in the film are occult detective John Constantine, who was featured in a short-lived television series of his own recently, and Swamp Thing, a multimedia sensation who was the subject of two live-action movies, a live-action television series, and an animated series to go along with his long-running comic book series and other projects. The film will also reportedly feature the villain Anton Arcane, the antihero demon Etrigan, and the sorceress Zatanna, as well as Madame Xanadu and the body-swapping spirit Deadman.

(17) Ice Age 5 short: Scrat In Space!

[Thanks to Hampus Eckerman, Will R., JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Michael J. Walsh for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day RedWombat.]

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322 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 11/23 Mister Scrollman, Bring Me A Screed

  1. I seem to be entering the international pancake conversation a bit late but I would like to put in a word for poffertjes. My mother used to make them and we would wait eagerly in line for the next plateful. Small round puffy pancakes made from a runny yeast batter, cooked in a little butter in a pan with lots of little dimples, one pancake per dimple. Served hot with powdered sugar on top.
    I wonder if I could find mom’s old recipe. More to the point I wonder if I could find a pan…

    As for treating Torgersen’s complaints with compassion, we did. They were extensively turned this way and that and multiple good faith attempts were made to match them against real world SF history. All attempts failed; no match found. When last seen he was attempting to anoint himself the speaker for the Dignity Culture. I think we all decided the most compassionate thing was to pretend we hadn’t noticed.

  2. How about potato pancakes? Crispy, savory, exceedingly greasy potato pancakes? It’s nearly Chanukah. (They HAVE to be greasy…it’s a religious requirement…really…well, nearly.)

  3. I scanted the virtues of potato pancakes after not having any for many years. Then I had one on a lark at Manny’s in Chicago and damn – I’d been missing something!

  4. I think many commentators here are being unraisinable.

    Normally unsurprising, but sometimes it does crêpe up on you.

  5. snowcrash on November 25, 2015 at 7:15 pm said:

    I think many commentators here are being unraisinable.

    Normally unsurprising, but sometimes it does crêpe up on you.

    People do have an odd view of currant affairs. Still batter the devil you know.

  6. Meredith:
    I’m a bit surprised that lemon juice and sugar isn’t as common in the USA, but as an accepting and tolerant multi-cultural sort I accept the failings of others.

    We had about a hundred years when both lemons and sugar were foreign luxuries for the pancakes of effete spoiled aristocrats, and the rest of us were stabbing the local trees and boiling tree sap to give our pancakes something to soak in. Believe me, we’re just lucky they didn’t just slap on some leftover rum and pork belly, and be done with it.

    (Note to self: make a rum and bacon pancake.)

  7. JJ on November 25, 2015 at 7:56 pm said:

    Is this going to turn into If You Were A Crêpe Suzette, My Love?

    If you were a dried-grape-of-sorts – but don’t let me waffle on

  8. *holds out the pun jar* That’ll be a quarter per pun. If you don’t have cash then make your checks payable to the Mike Glyer’s Pulp rescue and battered paperback shelter.

  9. David Shallcross: “I thought the apostrophe in Wade-Giles was supposed to represent aspiration, not lack of voicing.”

    Yes, that’s correct.

  10. Now, I could possibly eventually forgive someone for putting raisins in chocolate cake — eventually — but I would NEVER forgive beets. I like most root veggies (though I’m indifferent to turnips), but beets taste like dirt and should never sully anything sweet.

    Cranberries and lingonberries don’t taste that much alike. Yes, they’re both red and tart, but they taste different.

    Meredith: get capsules with cranberry extract in! No taste at all, plus very few calories. I buy ’em cheap online. Get a reputable brand. Take more than the bottle says. Take them as a preventative too.

    Rum and bacon go with maple syrup too. I don’t think we’re going to see them at IHOP, though I would be willing to eat them on the regular.

  11. jayn:

    “How about potato pancakes? Crispy, savory, exceedingly greasy potato pancakes? It’s nearly Chanukah. (They HAVE to be greasy…it’s a religious requirement…really…well, nearly.)”

    Potato pancakes are swedish standardfare. Served every tuesday in swedish lunch restaurants, together with bacon and lingonberries. Nomnomnom!

  12. @Foodies: This talk of pancakes, crêpes, etc. is making me hungry – and I was full just before I started catching up on comments! As for raisins, Laouwolf (sp?) summed it up nicely.

    My mom makes blinchikis – well, that’s what they were called growing up, whether it’s 100% accurate or not – and yum, made by her, they need no toppings. Over the years, we learned to put various things on them (never butter; she used a truckload of it to make the darned things), including syrup (various types) and also putting a little line of jam or jelly and rolling them and eating them like that.

    @Ferret Buehler: Cute handle! Thanks for the info. The “ch” in “cheer” is like all other “ch” sounds in English, as far as I know, but if I put the tip of my tongue just behind the upper front teeth, I almost hear a hint of a ‘t’ sound, so there’s a difference there, and I need to try this some more to figure it out. The regular English “ch” sound does have the tonuge at the hard/soft palate boundary (well, when I say it, it seems to). I’m not sure I can manage the tip-behind-the-teeth very well. ;-( Maybe with practice!

    @Meredith: I forget if I’ve raved about Duane’s Middle Kingdoms “trilogy”* a.k.a. The Tale of the Five. Awesome, and book 2 is very, very dragon-focused. Dragons in book 3, too. It’s . . . epic fantasy? High fantasy? Something? I get my sub-genres confused, but I love these books. I have the paperbacks, bought the ebooks to re-read a while back, and would love audiobooks, though I’m sure that’ll never happen. I love the worldbuilding, the characters, the magic, basically everything. I haven’t read the short stories set in this world, and I don’t believe they have the same characters. Oh and there’s no such thing as gay/straight in these books; people just are (so, effectively, everyone’s bisexual, except it’s not called that – not called anything) – love this aspect of it – rare to think “huh, wait, a world of people like me.”

    * It was supposed to be 4, but they didn’t sell well, so realistically we’ll never see #4. But the first three end satisfyingly and it feels just fine IMHO as a trilogy.

  13. Might be a bit late but

    @Jim Henley

    Thank you for your explanation. I understand your position, appreciate your time in sharing it.


    You are right. Ban was likely the wrong word to describe the incident, even if used in the article. Thank you for expanding on your point.

  14. Very punny, everyone.


    Thanks for the Duane rec!

    I think all my ‘ch’ sounds are with my tongue right behind my teeth. Regional variance, perhaps? Mine’s middle-class London at base with a bunch of stuff mixed through it due to exposure (I pick up accents a bit too easily, despite not being able to mimic them on purpose worth a damn).

  15. Peace Is My Middle Name on November 24, 2015 at 12:39 pm said:
    I would much rather have DVDs than virtual, computer-dependent copies of shows.

    I like to be able to watch things even when the network is down.

    I really, really like being able to have subtitles. Even in languages I speak fluently, between weird accents, mumbling, and loud music tracks, sometimes I miss crucial points. It’s a relief every year when the new Doctor Who DVDs are released and I can finally find out what the heck everyone was saying.

    I know I’m late with this comment, but in the States, at least, most shows, including Doctor Who, are broadcast with closed captions. You just have to figure out how to turn them on. Televisions sold in the States since 1983 have been required to have closed caption decoders built in, but it’s not always easy to find in the menu. I always have it on because I’m hard of hearing.

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