Pixel Scroll 12/4/22 A Fist Full of Pixels

(1) LIST OF 100. The Guardian analyzes the latest edition of the British Film Institute’s “The Greatest Films of All Time”, a recurring poll, in “The top 100 films… and what they say about our changing society”. At #6, 2001: A Space Odyssey is the highest ranked genre film.  

…This weekend, film lovers seem happy to salute this fresh list of 100 illustrious titles, published by Sight and Sound, the British Film Institute’s journal. It is a line-up compiled every 10 years from the votes of international directors, actors and critics, a constituency expanded this time to 1,639. Since the poll began in 1952, the results have been dominated by male directors, so the time was ripe, most concede, for a broader view.

True, a few commentators are quibbling about the usurping of the acknowledged “great movies” of the past in favour of more zeitgeisty offerings, such as 2019’s Oscar-winning Korean satire, Parasite, at number 90, Barry Jenkins’s story of queer identity, Moonlight, at 60, Jordan Peele’s racially astute horror debut Get Out, now at number 95, and the notable ascent of a three-year old film, Céline Sciamma’s Portrait of a Lady on Fire, now at 30. Others have grumbled about a suspected “tick box” instinct among voters, allegedly prompting them to make sure that more female directors made the grade.

But as the dust settles and the list is analysed for what it says about changing critical tastes, there is good news for the sustained power of British storytelling. …

(2) IRISH BOOK AWARDS. The winners of the 2022 An Post Irish Book Awards have been announced. They don’t have an SFF category, however, the book named “Specsavers Children’s Book of the Year (Senior)” is Girls Who Slay Monsters by Ellen Ryan, illustrated by Shona Shirley Macdonald.

There was a time when tales of Ireland’s mythical goddesses – their astonishing powers, bravery, and unbreakable bonds with nature – were famous, in Ireland and beyond. But over time, these stories were lost, often replaced or rewritten to make room for male warriors and kings.

UNTIL NOW.

Girls Who Slay Monsters brings these heroes of Irish mythology back to vibrant, magical life. From Éire, Ireland’s fierce namesake, and Bé Binn, a giant who overcame her bullies, to Badb, a gleefully gruesome death prophet, and Bé Mannair, a gender-fluid spy who challenged an entire army. These are goddesses of many shapes, skin shades and sizes, from every corner of ancient Ireland, whose daring still inspires today. Stand by their sides as they wield magic, fight monsters, and protect the powerless – and you might just discover that you, too, are a force of nature.

(3) WHAT THEY DO INCLUDES THINGS YOU DON’T WANT THEM TO. “Cory Doctorow Wants You to Know What Computers Can and Can’t Do” is an interview with the author in The New Yorker conducted by Christopher Byrd.

…In the eighties, in its metaphor stage, cyberpunk got people to realize how intimate technology had become in their lives. But you don’t think we need metaphors so much anymore?

I’ve been at this for long enough that I had to explain to people that I wasn’t speaking metaphorically when I said that they were headed for a moment in which there would be a computer in their body, and their body would be in a computer—by which I meant their car. And, if you remove the computer, the car ceases to be a car. And that they would have things like pacemakers and artificial pancreases, and just all manner of implants. I have a friend with Parkinson’s who now has a wire in his brain that’s controlled by a computer.

We think of computers as being a thing that sits on your desk and that you use to do your taxes. And then we think of it as a rectangle in your pocket that you use to distract yourself. Eventually we’re just going to think of a computer as being, like, a physics, right? The rules by which we make infrastructure will be our computer capabilities and policies.

Bill Gibson was going to arcades in Toronto and seeing kids thrust their chests at the video games while they pumped quarters into them and thought, What world are they trying to enter when they play these games? And he coined the term cyberspace. The thing that cyberspace gets us, as a metaphor, is the sense that our technology policy is going to be the framework in which our infrastructure, and thus our lives, emerge. And that enormity is difficult for people to grasp….

(4) GET ON BOARD. Sunday Morning Transport has posted this month’s free-to-read story, “Curses and Cake” by Sarah Beth Durst. “When it comes to certain kinds of curses—there’s often more than meets the eye.”

(5) READER BAIT. Dorothy Grant shares the secrets of “Building Better Blurbs” at Mad Genius Club.

… Then, I set to work – first with the hook.

The hook has gone in and out of style since Ad copy was first written. Back when you had a single line on the mail order form in the back of the paperback, it was supreme. Later, it was passed up for diving into the meat of the blurb. These days, some people use it, some don’t – but if you can come up with a catchy hook, it makes the reader attention stickier, and more likely to continue below the fold to read the rest….

(6) BEAGLE COLLECTIONS ON THE WAY. Tachyon Publications will bring out two volumes of collected short stories by Peter S. Beagle in May 2023: The Essential Peter S. Beagle, Volume 1: Lila the Werewolf and Other Stories and The Essential Peter S. Beagle, Volume 2: Oakland Dragon Blues and Other Stories.

Celebrating the storied career of bestselling author Peter S. Beagle (The Last Unicorn), these essential hardcover volumes of short stories demonstrate why he is one of America’s most influential fantasists. With his celebrated versatility, humor, and grace, Beagle is at home in a dazzling variety of subgenres, evoking comparison to such iconic authors as Twain, Tolkien, Carroll, L’Engle, and Vonnegut. From heartbreaking to humorous, these carefully curated stories show the depth and power of his incomparable prose and storytelling. Featuring original introductions from Jane Yolen (The Devil’s Arithmetic) and Meg Elison (Find Layla) and gorgeous illustrations from Stephanie Pui-Mun Law (Shadowscapes), these elegant collections are a must-have for any fan of classic fantas

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1990 [By Cat Eldridge.] Fremont, Seattle Troll Under the Bridge

Trolls, definitely part of our shared folklore. So this Scroll, we’re looking at the Troll Under the Bridge in Fremont, Seattle. 

In proper troll fashion, it was erected to deter the presence of homeless people and antisocial behavior under the bridge after winning a competition held by the Fremont Arts Council. Well, it was a troll and they do tend to chase humans off, don’t they? 

It is a fantastic piece of work as done by a collaborative group of artists — Steve Badanes, Will Martin, Donna Walter and Ross Whitehead. The artists retain copyright to the Troll images. They have sued businesses that use its image commercially without written permission. They have won every time they’ve sued. 

The massive statue, erected in 1990, is located on N. 36th Street at Troll Avenue N., under the north end of the George Washington Memorial Bridge (also known as the Aurora Bridge). It is eighteen feet high, weighs six-and-a-half tons, and is made of steel rebar, wire, and concrete.

It is clutching a Volkswagen Beetle with a California license plate made to look as if it had grabbed it from the highway above. Originally, the car held a time capsule, including a plaster bust of Elvis Presley, which was stolen when the sculpture was vandalized.

The homeless and homeless advocates objected to the construction of the Troll claiming it was their space and they didn’t like the Troll one bit as they found him scary but the City was very concerned, I think rightfully, about the drug usage and overdose deaths there. (I lived in Seattle for a time and I know how bad things could get there.) The area was cleaned up shortly after the Troll came.

In 2005, the segment of Aurora Avenue North under the bridge, running downhill from the Troll to North 34th Street was renamed “Troll Avenue” in honor of the sculpture.

In 2022, the Seattle Kraken, the new NHL team, introduced Buoy, a mascot which was said to be the Fremont Troll’s nephew.

Here’s the Troll with a human companion to give you an idea of just how huge it is.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 4, 1949 Jeff Bridges, 73. Academy Award-winning Actor whose best genre role by far is, I’d say, was as the Oscar-nominated, Saturn-winning lead in Starman – but many genre fans would offer his Saturn-winning dual role as Keven Flynn/CLU in TRON and the followup TRON: Legacy as his main genre credential. Other genre work includes Kiss Me Goodbye, K-PAX, Tideland, King Kong (1976), the Saturn-nominated titular character in The Fisher King, Iron Monger in Iron Man, and the voice of Prince Lir in The Last Unicorn. He appeared also as an undead police officer in a film called R.I.P.D. (the Rest in Peace Department), which was either really bad or really, really bad. The studio actually made a sequel which amazingly scored even lower at Rotten Tomatoes. No, he wasn’t in it. 
  • Born December 4, 1949 Rich Lynch, 73. Writer, Editor, Historian, and Fan who with his wife Nicki produced the long-running fanzine Mimosa from 1982 to 2003, which was nominated fourteen times for the Hugo Award for Best Fanzine, winning six of those years. He has been a member of several fan groups and APAs, chaired a Chattacon, and edited the 1998 Worldcon Souvenir Program Book. He and Nicki have been Fan Guests of Honor at several conventions, and were honored with the Phoenix Award by Southern Fandom. (JJ)
  • Born December 4, 1949 Pamela Stephenson, 73. Psychologist, Writer, Actor, and Comedian who was born in New Zealand, grew up in Australia, and emigrated to the UK. She may be recognized by genre fans as villain Robert Vaughn’s moll in Superman III, or as Mademoiselle Rimbaud in Mel Brooks’ alt-history History of the World: Part I. Other roles include the films The Comeback and Bloodbath at the House of Death, and guest parts on episodes of Space: 1999, The New Avengers, Tales of the Unexpected, and – of special interest to Ursula Vernon fans – a 3-episode arc as Wombat Woman on the British series Ratman. She is married to comedian Billy Connolly, with whom she has three children; she was the travel researcher for his film series Billy Connolly’s World Tour of…, which JJ highly recommends, as each trip includes visits to numerous interesting sites of quirky, bizarre, and supernatural reknown.
  • Born December 4, 1954 Tony Todd, 68. Let’s see… He was a memorable Kurn in Next Gen and Deep Space Nine, he plays Ben in Night of the Living Dead, he’s of course the lead character in the Candyman horror franchise, William Bludworth in the Final Destination film franchise, Cecrops in Xena: Warrior Princess and Gladius on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. Those are just selected highlights. He reprises the lead role in the latest Candyman. And a most deep voiced Darkseid in the DCU animated films.
  • Born December 4, 1954 Sally Kobee, 68. Fan, Bookseller, filker. She has served on the committees for myriad conventions, and chaired both Ohio Valley Filk Fest 4 and OVFF 10, and WFC 2010 and 2016. She was honored as a Fellow of NESFA and as a Guest of Honor at Windycon XXVII. She and her now late husband purchased a bookstore in the 90s. She continues to sell books at conventions.
  • Born December 4, 1957 Lucy Sussex, 65. Fan, reviewer, author, and editor. Born in New Zealand, resident in Australia, she’s been writing SFF ever since attending a Terry Carr-led workshop. And she’s an editor as well having edited several anthologies such as She’s Fantastical, the first collection of Australian women’s speculative fiction. She’s won three Ditmar Awards, an A. Bertram Chandler Award and an Aurealis Award to name some of her awards — impressive indeed! I’ve not read her, so who can tell us what they liked?
  • Born December 4, 1974 Anne KG [Murphy] Gray, 48 . Engineer, Physicist, Writer, Editor, Conrunner, and Fan. Known in fandom as Netmouse, she was a member of the Ann Arbor Science Fiction Association, and has served on numerous convention committees and chaired three ConFusions. As a member of Midfan, which ran four Midwest Construction regional conrunner training conventions in the 2000s, she was editor of their publication MidFanzine. She is a past president of the Science Fiction Oral History Association. She is married to Brian Gray, with whom she won the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund in 2010; they went to Eastercon and Corflu in the UK and produced a TAFF trip reporta piece on the Sherlock Holmes museum, and a photo album. (JJ)

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro has a Cecil B. DeMille moment.
  • Close to Home presents an overwrought moment in robot parenting.
  • Lio has a robot that doesn’t understand holiday decorations yet.
  • Get Fuzzy makes a dino-based pun and panics the pets.

(10) THE WEE OF WATER.  Huffpost takes notes as “James Cameron Weighs In On When To Pee During His Lengthy ‘Avatar’ Sequel”.

“Any time they want. They can see the scene they missed when they come see it again,” he said.

(11) KEEP WATCHING THE SPIES. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] A Wall Street Journal opinion piece says that the whole military “Unidentified Aerial Phenomena“ phenomenon has been bunco all along—deliberate disinformation on the part of the Pentagon and/or US intelligence agencies. 

But then again, the same guy is of the opinion that the missing Clinton emails were the real story of the 2016 election, not potential Russian collusion.

But then, yet again, even a stopped calendar is occasionally correct. “The UFO Bubble Goes Pop”

Call it the buildup to a letdown, as the latest of the required intelligence reports to Congress on the UFO question undergoes a prolonged and likely angst-filled vetting before being delivered to the relevant committees.

A month has passed since its leaked contents were detailed in the New York Times, and still the document has not appeared and it’s not hard to guess why. Its findings will be surprising only to those who imbibed previous official disinformation on so-called UAP, or unidentified aerial phenomena. The most credible and widely trumpeted sightings by Navy pilots now are explained as illusions. Though Chinese surveillance drones do operate in areas where U.S. training flights occur, these are conventional drones, with no unusual capabilities. They aren’t the uncannily speedy, supernaturally maneuverable objects mentioned in previous accounts.

Bingo. Last year’s first mandatory intelligence report in what now seems a misdirection claimed several sightings “appear to demonstrate advanced technology.” A procession of current and former officials in the media hinted at secret and disturbing knowledge. The public was listening, with academics speculating that the long history of such now-validated sightings means aliens have been among us for decades if not millennia. America’s allies and adversaries were listening too, and reasonably wondered if our military pilots were actually recording encounters with secret U.S. super-capabilities that might tip the military balance….

(12) INSIDE JOKERS. Ranker offers “25 Jokes That Scientists Will Love”. You may laugh, too!

You wouldn’t think it from the lab coats and pale skin, but scientists are super funny. When you’re cooped up in a laboratory or a classroom, you’ve got to have a sense of humor to get you through the day. The jokes on this list of jokes for science geeks are the perfect one-liners and puns to get you through a long day of staring through a microscope. Whether you’re at Fermilab, CERN, or just your local university, feel free to try out any one of the entries on our list of funniest jokes for scientists. We hope you’ve got some med students down the hall, because guts are about to start busting….

Joke #3 –

Two Chemists Walk Into A Bar. The First Says “I’ll Have Some H20.”

The second says, “I’ll have some H20 too.” The second chemist dies.

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

15 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 12/4/22 A Fist Full of Pixels

  1. 7) That’s just amazingly cool.

    9) The Bored of the Rings features a particularly hideous thesaurus, complete with dangling participles.

    And thanks for the title credit!

  2. (1) Portrait of a Woman on Fire is terrific, though not genre. I saw it mainly because a French friend wanted to, and loved it.

  3. (2) Nice choice!

    (7) Nice, civilized troll. Only eats bugs.

    And I found the scroll without the notification. Learning to be suspicious! 🙂

  4. 8) Tony Todd — that voice … And the Candyman remake/reboot/whatever came out in 2021, unless it also has a sequel in the pipeline?

  5. 11) “Today, the Committee on Unexplained Aerial Phenomena will hear testimony from civilian witnesses. Following our preliminary discussion, the Committee will hear from Raymond Arthur Palmer, an author and editor, and from Richard Shaver, an author, artist and “geologist”. Following their testimony there will be a brief interlude for some House votes, and we will wrap up today’s session with testimony from Lafayette Ronald Hubbard, an author and “spiritual” leader.”

    Flying Saucers From Other Worlds http://philsp.com/data/images/f/flying_saucers_from_other_worlds_195706.jpg

    Subscriber notifications: could it be that the timing of the posting is such that it gets missed by the CRON JOB? It’s not uncommon. There are plugins that address this. (If this is redundant, sorry, as I am not completely up on the history of this issue.)

  6. I remember the time I saw a UFO…

    I was walking down a road in Gateshead when I first noticed it. Just above the skyline was a red globe, with a flickering red light in the middle of it. I watched, fascinated, as it darted across the sky, sometimes hovering over one hilltop, then speeding over to another, then reversing course in a way which seemed to defy ordinary Newtonian physics.

    I was, as I said, fascinated. And a little scared. And also hopeful. Was this it? Was this the arrival of intelligent beings from another world? It certainly looked and acted like no terrestrial aircraft….

    Then it stopped being a UFO, as I realized what it was.

    It was a balloon. Like, an ordinary red toy balloon, the kind Nena had 99 of. Because I’d seen it first above the skyline, my brain had evidently processed it as something close to the skyline – as a large object far away, not a small object floating over someone’s back garden. The sudden darts across the sky resolved themselves into the random bobbing of a balloon in the air. The flickering red light? Someone had stuck a bike reflector on the side of it.

    I’m not saying that all UFOs necessarily have equally mundane explanations, but…. I’m not any more astute than the next guy, but I’m not any less astute, either. And if I’d been distracted by something else before my brain clicked into full gear, I might have gone to my grave believing, in all sincerity, that I’d seen an alien spaceship at play over Northumbria. So… worth bearing in mind, I think.

    (I’ve seen a few other phenomena that often get cited as UFOs, but in those cases, I was sort of spoilered by an Arthur C. Clarke essay which explained in advance what I was seeing. I pointed one of these things out to a friend who hadn’t read that essay, and he took one look and screamed, “OH MY GOD! THEY’RE COMING! THEY’RE COMING!” and it took quite a while to persuade him it was just seagulls in unusual lighting conditions.)

  7. Many years ago, I was driving home on a dark highway, on a fairly empty stretch, and saw a burning-bright, white-blue object streaking across the sky…

    Several possibilities occurred to me, one of which was, indeed, UFO. Another possibility I thought of was confirmed the next day on the news.

    Meteor.

  8. (12) Not to interpret it uncharitably, but I’ve known lots of scientists who don’t have “pale skin”.

  9. I went to college in Seattle, at the University of Washington, between 1994 and 1996. I have fond memories of that troll. The bike path I took from my dorm building to Gasworks Park passed through that underpass. (It also went by a RING OF DEATH that I guess was for motorcycle stunts? under a different underpass, I think.)

    Less enthusiastic to learn that the troll was meant to deter homeless people from seeking shelter. It’s disheartening how often, when faced with the problem of drug use and overdose among those experiencing homelessness, local governments come up with “solutions” targeting the people (make them go elsewhere! Make them invisible!) rather than the drugs.

  10. icole J. LeBoeuf-Little says Less enthusiastic to learn that the troll was meant to deter homeless people from seeking shelter. It’s disheartening how often, when faced with the problem of drug use and overdose among those experiencing homelessness, local governments come up with “solutions” targeting the people (make them go elsewhere! Make them invisible!) rather than the drugs.

    I hadn’t heard that that story before either and I have known about the troll for decades now. The story I heard was that the troll was a community effort, not something done to ward off the homeless.

  11. Back when I was in college I was reading on a couch by a big window. Suddenly I saw through the window a gigantic disk of lights and I was sure it was a spaceship banking in from of my dorm. Then I remembered it was Fourth of July weekend and realized it was seeing a firework.

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