Pixel Scroll 2/28/18 Crying “Pixels And Scrolls Alive, Alive, Oh!”

(1) AIRTIME TRAVEL. Got to love this. Galactic Journey, the blog that walks day-by-day through sff history from 55 years ago, has founded its own online radio station — KGJ, Radio Galactic Journey, “playing all the current hits: pop, rock, soul, folk, jazz, country — it’s the tops, pops…” Dave Brubeck was performing a hot jazz number when I checked in.

(2) THE TELLING. From The Hollywood Reporter: “Ursula K. Le Guin’s Sci-Fi Novel ‘The Telling’ Getting Big-Screen Adaptation”.

Producers had been working with the late author on the project before she passed away in January.

The Telling, the acclaimed sci-fi novel from influential American author Ursula K. Le Guin — who died in January — is being adapted for the big screen.

Bayview Films, a division of Bayview Labs, announced the project Wednesday, with Rekha Sharma (Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek: Discovery) set to star. The film will be written and directed by Leena Pendharkar (20 Weeks, Raspberry Magic).

The Telling follows Sutty Dass (Sharma), who travels from war-torn earth to the planet Aka, which has suppressed its rich culture in the march to technological advancement….

(3) YOU’RE THE TOP. The Guardian’s Gareth L. Powell has fun justifying his picks for the “Top 10 spaceships in fiction”. Aldiss, Leckie, and Banks are on the list.

  1. From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne
    In the aftermath of the US civil war, members of the Baltimore Gun Club construct a cannon capable of launching three men to the moon. Published in 1865, this novel was one of the first to take a serious stab at describing a space vessel and its means of propulsion (earlier attempts involving balloons and geese notwithstanding). Although Verne got a few of his calculations wrong (the length of the cannon’s barrel would have to have been much longer), most of what he describes seems remarkably prescient when you consider it was written a century before the first real moon landings.

(4) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Kelly Robson and Chandler Klang Smith on Wednesday, March 21, 7 p.m. at the KGB Bar.

Kelly Robson

Kelly Robson is the author of Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach. Last year, she was a finalist for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. Her novella Waters of Versailles won the 2016 Aurora Award and was a finalist for both the Nebula and World Fantasy Awards. She has also been a finalist for the Theodore Sturgeon Award and the Sunburst Award. Her fiction appears at Tor.com, Uncanny, Asimov’s, and Clarkesworld, and she is is a regular contributor to Clarkesworld’s Another Word column. Kelly lives in Toronto with her wife, SF writer A.M. Dellamonica.

Chandler Klang Smith

Chandler Klang Smith is the author, most recently, of The Sky Is Yours, which was published by Hogarth/Crown in January 2018. A graduate of the creative writing MFA program at Columbia University, she is currently serving as a juror for the Shirley Jackson Awards for the second year in a row. She teaches and tutors in New York City.

(5) CASE STUDY. The Robotech® RPG Tactics™ Kickstarter-funded game and miniatures expected out in 2013 won’t be coming late or at all. Kevin Siembieda, President of Palladium Books® wrote a long explanation and apology. Some of the rewards will still be made available to backers willing to pay the cost of shipping.

When the Robotech® RPG Tactics (RRT) Kickstarter funded in May 2013, we cheered, hugged and actually danced down the halls at the Palladium office. Not just because of the amount of money raised thanks to your pledges, but because it meant the realization of our dreams for Robotech®. For Palladium Books, it signified bringing Robotech fans – ourselves among them – something new and exciting to the beloved Robotech® universe.

So it is with sadness and tremendous heartbreak that I announce that, despite our best efforts, we are unable to produce the Robotech® RPG Tactics Wave Two rewards. Moreover, after proudly carrying the legacy of Robotech® in the role-playing games medium for 30 years, our license has expired and is not being renewed.

….The Kickstarter money was gone with Wave One, but Palladium never gave up on Robotech® RPG Tactics. We explored every available option in order to secure more funding or bring in business partners and investors. We solicited multiple quotes and explored different manufacturing options and new production technologies for these potential partners. As you know, there was a period when we felt very confident Wave Two would see production and release. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, we came up short. But we were so committed, even that did not stop us. We reached out to others. Even Harmony Gold and Palladium’s licensing agent tried to help us put deals together with third parties. We made a Herculean effort and did everything we could, right through this past Christmas and into the New Year, but without success.

The cost to produce Wave Two, estimated at $300,000-$400,000 for tooling and manufacturing, plus $65,000 to import to the USA, plus $120,000-$160,000 to ship rewards to the backers, was more than any potential investor was willing to risk.

Whenever anyone pledges support to a Kickstarter project, you never know if it will be successful or not. It is a gamble. This is true of any business venture. We are sincerely sorry this one fell short. We gave it our all, but that’s the rub about life and business, sometimes your all is not good enough. Sometimes you miss the mark despite your best efforts, good intentions, and the money you pour into it. I’m sorry that was the case with RRT.

[H/t Ansible Links.]

(6) SUPERFICIAL SCIENCE TALES. Nicholas Whyte could not resist the temptation to try and quantify “Who are the leading Hispanic writers of science fiction?” Would you like to guess who came in last?

Anyway, here are the results, ranked (as is my usual habit) by the geometrical average of the number of owners of the top book by that author on both systems. In most cases the same book was top on both systems for each author. In a few cases lower down the table, different books topped the author’s list on Goodreads and LibraryThing, so I took the one with the highest geometrical average of the number of owners.

In one case, an author’s top book on Goodreads scores decently enough in the bottom quarter of the Goodreads table; but not a single LibraryThing user appears to have acquired any of his books. So he is listed at the very end….

(7) GENERAL ROMANTICS. Doctor Strangemind’s Kim Huett looks back at “A.E. Van Vogt – In the Beginning” – it wasn’t what he expected.

Not every origin story needs to be revealed.

Recently I responded to an article about pseudonyms written many years ago by Anthony Boucher. In it I mentioned that A.E. Van Vogt as an example of an author didn’t care to be associated with a certain genre. I made this claim because I had a memory of reading a piece by him in which he admitted to writing for true adventure style pulps but giving no details.

Since then an old friend of mine, Denny Lien, who knows more about such matters than I ever will, pointed me to a page on the van Vogt website that actually reprints one of these stories and gives some background on how it was rediscovered. So it turns out I was wrong about him writing for the true adventure pulps. What he actually wrote apparently were true confession type stories which is about as far from his later science fiction in theme and style as you could get….

(8) A REVIEWER’S GUIDE TO ESCAPE: Jason wraps up another month at Featured Futures with a shiny new “Summation: February 2018”:

Demonstrating my usual quick wit, some time after posting the last “Summation of Online Fiction” which happily proclaimed my new coverage of print zines, I realized the title no longer applied. I could change it to “Summation of Short Fiction” but shorter’s better and I hopefully won’t ever have to change the one-word title again.

With that fixed, it’s the “February” subtitle that’s the problem this time. I’ve ironically read more March stories than February in February (47 vs. 38/171Kwds, not to mention the four late-January stories that were covered in the first “Weekly Webzine Wrap-Up” of
February). I’ll hang on to the March stories until that “Summation,” so this post covers everything from January 27-February 25. This was a below-average month in the quantity of noted stories but they’re of especially high quality.

(9) FABRAY OBIT. Nanette Fabray (1920-2018): US actress, died February 22, aged 97. Genre appearances included Alice Through the Looking Glass (1966), The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. (one episode, 1967), The Man in the Santa Claus Suit (1979), The Munsters Today (one episode, 1989).


  • Born February 28, 1948 – Bernadette Peters.  She’s had other genre roles, but John King Tarpinian sent the item because of her appearance in the 1980’s TV adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles.


  • Saved, or merely fate delayed? John King Tarpinian says that’s the question in Close to Home.
  • And The Flying McCoys have fun with a bumper sticker trope.

(12) ORANGE MIKE. Wisconsin fan “Orange Mike” Lowrey has started a GoFundMe to help defray the costs of his attending a march in Memphis in tribute to the late Martin Luther King: “Union Marcher to Honor Dr. ML King”.

When Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was murdered in 1968, he was there in support of my Union, AFSCME, supporting the workers of AFSCME Local 1733 in their famous “I AM A MAN” demonstrations. This year, AFSCME members from all over the nation will gather in Memphis to honor his sacrifice and his example. I’m a native West Tennessean. , now president of a mostly-black AFSCME local union (Wisconsin State Employees Local 91); I am particularly eager to pay this tribute. The problem is that lost days’ wages, travel to and from Memphis (I live in Milwaukee), and housing, will cost me a lot of money I can ill afford. Make no mistake: I WILL GO anyway; but if folks can ease the fiscal pain, I would appreciate it.

The march is in April; I’ve got to make arrangements much sooner than that. And if you see coverage of the march, and the proud banner of Wisconsin State Employees Local 91, AFSCME, shows on the screen, you can have the warm feeling of knowing you helped.

He has raised $20 of his $940 goal so far.

(13) HORROR IN THE DEEP. Dread Central has video — “Someone Put a Statue of Jason Voorhees in a Minnesota Lake For Divers to Stumble Across”.

Remember the end of Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives where Megan and Tommy manage to trap Jason in the bottom of Crystal Lake? Well, it seems that some random person has recreated this scene by planting a Jason statue, complete with mask and machete, 120 feet deep in a Minnesotan lake that is supposedly very popular with divers! Having been down in the water, the statue has developed a worn, algae-covered appearance that almost makes it seem all the more lifelike. My only complaint is that it looks very rigid, like it’s clearly a mannequin or some sort of statue. But that’s such a small gripe when you stop and realize that someone put a freakin’ Jason Voorhees statue in the bottom of a lake!

(14) YELLING WARNINGS AT THE SCREEN. At Nerds of a Feather, Chloe N. Clark gives us a microreview of a film called The Ritual.

Adam Nevill’s novel The Ritual is one of the few recent horror books to genuinely scare me as I read it, so when I saw that Netflix had done a film of it I was both excited and nervous. By nervous, I mean incredibly cowardly and watching the trailer through my fingers. However, I summoned up the courage (and by courage, I mean making someone watch it with me) to see it once it premiered on Netflix. Did it live up to my expectations (and by expectations, I mean did it leave me sleeping with the light on)? Both yes and no.

The plot of The Ritual sees four friends on a hiking trip in northern Sweden (it’s the King’s Trail in Sarek National Park—FYI, it looks gorgeous and even the movie’s creepy happenings couldn’t keep me from thinking about how much I’d like to hike there). The hike was supposed to be a bit of a friend’s trip, but is now a memorial trip for the fifth friend—who died in a liquor store robbery. Once on the hike, things begin to go awry, starting with one of the four twisting his knee. They decide to take a shortcut (Or the World’s Biggest No-No if you are in a horror movie) through the forest and soon strange and creepy things begin to happen. These includes symbols carved into trees, an elk gutted and hung up, and the world’s most DON’T STAY IN THERE cabin since the one in The Evil Dead. Of course, things only go downhill from there.

(15) ZELAZNY’S ROAD. Tadiana Jones looks back at a 1979 Zelazny book in “Roadmarks: The Road must roll” at Fantasy Literature.

In what frankly struck me as a rather gimmicky move by Roger Zelazny, the chapters of Roadmarks are all titled either One or Two; the first chapter is called “Two” and they alternate from there. The One chapters are linear and relate Red’s ongoing adventures. The Twos, about his would-be assassins and other characters that Red meets up with on the Road, are nonlinear and almost completely random. Zelazny told the story that he put all of the Two chapters on pieces of paper, shuffled them up and simply inserted them into his draft of the book in that order, although he admitted that his publisher eventually convinced him to put at least a few of these chapters in an order that made a little more sense.

Like the other two experimental novels I’ve read by Zelazny in recent months, A Night in the Lonesome October and Doorways in the Sand, Roadmarks is essentially one big mental puzzle, where Zelazny is hiding the ball from the reader on exactly what’s going on until you get quite deep into the novel. To get any real enjoyment out of these quirky and rather humorous novels, you just have to be on board with that approach and roll with it. For Roadmarks I had an entire page of notes that I took on each chapter of the book, just to try to keep all of the players and moving parts straight in my mind. It was definitely a challenging mental exercise!

(16) PLANETARY SOCIETY. Robert Picardo is on set with Bill Nye recording a video series about A.I., but he still has time for The Planetary Post

(17) LET THERE BE LIGHT. These signals are believed to date to about 180 millions years after the Big Bang: Cnet reports, “Stars billions of years old drop big clue to early universe”.

Astronomers have picked up a radio signal from the moment the lights went on in the universe billions of years ago, and they’ve discovered some surprises embedded in it. No, not aliens, but potential evidence of something just as mysterious and elusive.

Using a sensitive antenna only about the size of a table in the Australian desert, scientists managed to isolate the very faint signal of primordial hydrogen, part of the cosmic afterglow from the Big Bang.  But the ancient signal from this basic building block of the universe also carries the imprint of some of the first light from the very first stars ever.

(18) PERSISTENCE. Scientists consider an inhospitable desert: “Atacama’s lessons about life on Mars”.

Even in the driest places on Earth there is life eking out an existence, it seems.

Scientists have examined the soils in those parts of the Atacama desert that may not see any rains for decades.

Still, the team led from the Technical University of Berlin, Germany, found evidence of microbes that have adapted to the extreme conditions.

These hardy organisms are of interest because they may serve as a template for how life could survive on Mars.

[Thanks to Steve Green, Paul Weimer, Cat Eldridge, Greg Hullender, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, John King Tarpinian, jayn, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, Matthew Kressel, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Camestros Felapton.]

101 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 2/28/18 Crying “Pixels And Scrolls Alive, Alive, Oh!”

  1. @johnstick, thanks, that’s good enough for me, absent any conflicting info.

    I suspect she isn’t getting listed because people don’t know.

  2. @LenoreJones, having decided to stop being lazy, I found this and this. Short version: Parents and kids moved to Berkeley when she was 2; relatives remained in Mexico City. English was not her or her mother’s first language, but the family switched to English only in Berkeley due to school’s distrust of multi-lingualism.


    The list doesn’t seem to include A. Lee Martinez, who I only discovered a few months ago, and have been devouring since. Martinez’s stuff is mostly humorous fantasy, but there’s a couple which definitely qualify as humorous SF: The Automatic Detective and Emperor Mollusk Versus The Sinister Brain.

    I’m not 100% sure he’s Hispanic, but the name and the fact that he’s from Texas makes it seem extremely likely.

    I posted this over on Whyte’s blog, but my comment is in moderation for who knows how long.

  4. Thanks, johnstick. The links need editing, but I figured them out, and that seems pretty clear! Cool to know.

    Maybe John Picacio would like to know? Maybe he knows already.

  5. Xtifr: The list doesn’t seem to include A. Lee Martinez… I’m not 100% sure he’s Hispanic, but the name and the fact that he’s from Texas makes it seem extremely likely.

    Martinez says that he is “half-Mexican. Or half-Caucasian, if you prefer. Note how even the language defines white as default. Rarely have I been called half-white. No, if my ethnicity is called into question, it’s always a question of the ethnicity of my non-white parentage.”

    ETA: His GR (9,567) and Amazon (203) scores for Gil’s All Fright Diner would put him at least as high as 6th on Whyte’s list.

  6. Thanks, JJ. That was an interesting link. Things like “are you <ethnicity X>” seem like such simple questions until you get to actual cases. 🙂

    I suspect that for the case of discussions like this, though, he’d probably qualify. He mentions being invited to events as a Hispanic writer, to which he (at least sometimes) even goes, even if he does have reservations about how well the label fits.

  7. @camestros, re: 2, it was actually one of my least favorite of Le Guin’s novels. IIRC, she wrote it inspired on the Chinese attempts at obliterating Tibetan culture completely, and IMO, she draws the analogies too sharply, and makes it too clearly and unambivalently where her sympathies lie. She’s too good a storyteller to draw absolute black and white, but the greys are IMO fewer than they ought to be, and IMO that makes the plot and the characters a little flatter and less engaging than they should be.

    I was at one of the stops on her book tour and got the book autographed there, and proudly even asked a semi-intelligent question. She had told us her inspiration for the book in China’s oppression of Tibet. I asked if her other books had similar inspirations. She said no; said that The Left Hand of Darkness had begun with her imagining watching from a distance two people pulling a sled across a deserted tundra, and wondering “Where are they going?”

    I thought that was gorgeous. And reading The Telling, I thought it might have benefitted from being spun off from such a striking image instead of having to conform too closely to a current-events template.

    I only read it once. Now that years have passed and she’s gone, I shall re-read, and no doubt find things to appreciate more. But even if I don’t – that might mean it’s one of those books that would benefit from an adaptation elaborating on it and adding depth. I do remember the protagonist was compelling, and her backstory of her lost (female) soulmate, and her despondent quest across a strange planet in conflict. Lots of fertile ground there.

  8. Oh, and Whyte is looking at LibraryThing, not Amazon. The LT owners for Gil’s All-Fright Diner are 1095–larger than the LT ranking for any other books on Whyte’s list.

    I’m not sure how Whyte is calculating averages, but given that both of Martinez’s numbers are higher than Ana Castillo’s numbers, who Whyte has ranked third, I suspect Martinez would have to rank at least that high…

  9. @Bonnie McDaniel

    That’s a 2008 1 series, they were all rear wheel drive so in that case not on the right wheels.

  10. The problem with The Telling, as we all know, is that it should have been The Showing, am I right?

    (What’s that? Um, yes, that’s a nice door.)

  11. The bus driver who dodged a car in snow has made the BBC (briefly in the top-10 most-read stories). A useful moral: she acted on training instead of instinct. (Having spun out on thin snow a couple of times in my younger days, I know how hard that is.) I’ve been reading many reports of how the weather is trashing Europe, but right now New England is also getting it; I woke up to rain moving sideways (room is on the weather (NE) corner of the house, so I know vile weather before getting out of bed), my partner (Montreal-bound) reports white-out conditions near Montpelier VT, and the neighborhood newsnet just emailed me that an artery a mile away is closed due to downed poles — and I don’t think we’ve hit peak weather yet. I may run up and down stairs instead of walking to the Y….

  12. I’m looking at an undetermined amount of snow (twelve inches were predicted), but it’s all neat, orderly, well-kempt snow. As to traffic, who knows? Sarah’s school closed (looks like they may have taken a lesson from the snowstorm where her bus went into a ditch on its side on I-90), Cathy’s (and my) school closed, so nobody has to go anywhere. Consequently, we ain’t going anywhere.

    Sympathy to those whose weather just has to go and be dramatic about it: “Oh, I’m weather! Look at me!”

  13. Snow? It’s so windy in my area, my company encouraged people to work from home! That’s a first for us.

    The wind was so loud, I slept even more miserably than usual last night; super, super loud.

  14. This is the time of year when I cackle unsympathetically at people not sensible enough to live in the South. 😉 We’ve got blue skies and tons of fresh spring blooms here. My peach tree is in full flower, my mom’s daffs are at their peak (mine are just starting), and life is good.

    Sorry, guys, I’m a big ol’ meanie.

  15. Oh, I lived in the South for over twenty years. I remember monstrous bugs in Georgia, hurricanes in Houston and Virginia, and other delights. I always said “Well, at least I’m not in Florida.”

    (Though I have to say, there was this one week out of the year when southeast inland Georgia was heavenly. There were blooms on all the trees, and the air was a temperature that didn’t batter you with the bone cold of winter or the muggy, bug-filled sweatbox of the dominant warm season. It felt like my bike coasted further and more easily during that week. Yes sir, it was one swell week.)

  16. @Contrarius: Whenever I say I live in the North, my spouse says no, we’re below the Maxon-Dixon line, so we’re in the South. I disagree (and we’re in the top-most state below the line anyway), but there ya have it – weird, super-windy weather in the South!

  17. @Kip —

    “Oh, I lived in the South for over twenty years. I remember monstrous bugs in Georgia, hurricanes in Houston and Virginia, and other delights. I always said “Well, at least I’m not in Florida.”

    Heh. I lived the first seven years of my life in Florida, and most of the rest of it in Tennessee. Glad to not have Florida “waterbugs” (term also commonly misapplied to giant FL roaches) here, though I do kinda miss the anoles and palm trees and such.

    @Kendall —

    “Whenever I say I live in the North, my spouse says no, we’re below the Maxon-Dixon line, so we’re in the South.”

    I scoff every time somebody calls states like Virginia or Maryland “the South”. Pish tosh, I say. Those are only South compared to most of the other original 13 colonies! Even Tennessee only rates “mid-South”, and the horticultural zone in my part of the state is lower than even some parts (coastal fragments) of New York state. But one of the best things about TN is the shortness of the winter — it sets in late and lets up early. 🙂

  18. Yes. Waterbugs. I first saw cockroaches right after we moved to Georgia. I saw plenty. If I swiped at ones on the ceiling, they’d fly down at me in a spiral and then crawl away while I was reflexing.

    We went down to Florida to see the third Shuttle launch. I believe that was where I saw that the roaches there were bigger and could take off from the ground. Not for me. No.

    Seemed to me we had both roaches and what we called waterbugs in Georgia. The waterbugs were about 15% larger and seemed to have two little pincers like arms that stuck out on the front. It’s been a while, but I’d almost swear they had little anchors tattooed on those.

  19. LOL at the waterbug tattoos.

    Yes, there are both actual waterbugs and several kinds of roaches. Folks in the deep South seem to call all the larger ones “waterbugs” whether they really are or not.

    Here we have both yer basic roaches and also wood roaches (out in the country especially), but none of them are terribly impressive.

  20. P.S. I just wasted my afternoon watching “Constantine” for about the bazillionth time (though I hadn’t seen it in a while). Do ya think I could put it on my Hugo ballot? 🙂

  21. @Contrarius: I grew up near DC, which was more than South enough for me (aside from the wonderful collection of free museums that make up the Smithsonian). Severe weather here lasts ~1 day at a time, and unless it’s really severe I can always put on another layer and go out; even in what-you-say-isn’t-really-the-South there were several months in a row when I could peel down to what’s now called a Speedo and still be miserable. (Yes, I know metabolisms vary; a Boston native told me she found Bangkok comfortable.) We were too far north for ?exotic? (always with the euphemisms) wildlife; the one thing I miss is the thunderstorms, and AFAIK those aren’t a general Southern characteristic — an FAA weather reporter told me they had to say “chance of thunderstorms” every day in the summer, because the Potomac valley focuses them.

  22. @Chip —

    I grew up near DC, which was more than South enough for me

    Fun fact: when you are in the northeastern corner of Tennessee, you are actually closer to CANADA than you are to Memphis (southwestern corner of Tennessee). Which is one of the reasons why I continue to have doubts about even Tennessee being “South”.

    Anything closer to Canada than to Miami ain’t no South atall so far as I’m concerned!

  23. @Matt Y

    I read it towards the end of last year. Thought it was good enough to warrant putting Nicholas Eames on my Campbell nom list.

    Aside from the surface level fun, some deeper commentary could be inferred on a couple of different areas.

    I think he did a great job of translating the real world concept of a touring rock band into a fantasy world of traveling bands of “heroes”.


  24. But ‘South’ isn’t strictly a matter of the map. You’re being geographical and not sociological. I think I’m finally past being irritated to hear the term ‘Midwest’ applied to states that are smack in the middle of the part of the country that’s squarely east of the Mississippi. I’m from Colorado, in the middle of the West part. (Technically I’m not a native. We moved from Santa Ana when I was almost three.)

  25. @Kip —

    You’re being geographical and not sociological.

    Yes, absolutely and unapologetically. North-South-East-West — all simple, easily understandable geographic terms. 🙂

    If they want to be sociological, let ’em call it something like The Confederacy or The Redneck States. 😉

    States like Maryland, etc. only get called “The South” because them damn Yankees are still fixated on the original 13 colonies. The colonies are the center of the universe, doncha know.

  26. I don’t know about Maryland, but I have relatives from Tennessee and Virginia who identify as Southern, and from my New Jersey resident perspective seem Southern. The South is not a monolith! Texas, for instance, feels like its own thing, South Georgia is different from North Georgia, and south Florida in a lot of ways doesn’t feel Southern.

    I agree that Midwest is a peculiar designation for its location, but I think it got called that a long, long time ago, before the West had non-Spanish Europeans settling in it. And the name stuck. At least, that’s my theory. I really should check….

  27. If it’s the old Confederacy, it’s the South. It may also be other things; Texas is also the Southwest.

    If Contrarius would rather that I consistently remind the descendants of traitors of their ancestors’ treason, I’m good with that.

  28. I think I’ve been hearing “The War of Northern Aggression,” my whole life, and romantic fantasies about the excellent character of people who fought a,war to keep owning other human beings.

    And it wasn’t me that suggested it was Just Awful to refer to that part of the country as “the South,” and that “the Confederacy,” was better.

  29. @Lenore —

    I don’t know about Maryland, but I have relatives from Tennessee and Virginia who identify as Southern, and from my New Jersey resident perspective seem Southern.

    Tennessee counts more or less. I scoff at the Virginians calling themselves Southerners. And yes, I know that’s the common label — I get to scoff anyway. 😉

    Texas, for instance, feels like its own thing

    Texas isn’t South either. It’s Texas. So there.

    @Lis —

    If Contrarius would rather that I consistently remind the descendants of traitors of their ancestors’ treason, I’m good with that.

    Works for me. “Those damned slave-holding states” would be a good appellation. (Not my ancestors, btw — my ancestors came mostly from Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri and fought on the free-state side of the Border Wars.)

    I have to pass by FOUR — count em, four — prominently displayed Confederate battle flags every time I drive just to the end of my road (two-mile-long road) on the way to town. Drives me batty. >:-(

    Oh, P.S. — I should add that Tennessee was never “really” a dedicated Confederate state. Lots of Tennesseans were against seceding, it was the last state to secede, and it became Union again before the end of the war. Only Virginia had more battles than Tennessee did.

  30. Contrarius:

    Your geographic criterion just fell apart when you denied that Texas is in the South, so you have to allow Virginia, the capital of the old Confederacy. We were quick to rebel against England, and named 75% of it after places in England! We were the biggest patriots before AND after we rebelled against the USA! We re-used the same battlefields and earthworks! Unlike Michigan and the Dakotas, we EARNED our Confederate flags (and, yeah, they’re technically something else; I forget what). But where Virginia really shines is in its state song emeritus.

    “Carry Me Back to Old Virginia,” written by a professional minstrel—a guy who wore white gloves and applied burnt cork to his face to sing in a comical accent—who had probably never been there. On the other hand, he was an African American, and he based the song on the reminiscences of an old former slave he met on his travels. The song is at once artificial and genuine. And (in my opinion), it’s a touching, bittersweet song about an old man at the end of his life who dreams of the days when he was young and strong, and it has place names in it that were right near where I lived (woo! Dismal Swamp!). At some point, the state… sorry, COMMONWEALTH… became embarrassed by the song and its dialect and nostalgia for the slave-holding days and declared it “state song Emeritus,” and began a decades-long search for a song to replace it.

    We moved away from Virginia just in time, right before I’d have lived there as long as I lived in Colorado. I’m really a Coloradoan, and have always felt superior for that, though in recent years I have learned what a ‘sundown’ town was, and it kind of looks like my home town may very well have been one. (But, hey, when we lived in Statesboro between ’80 and ’83, the movie theatre still had signage indicating that the balcony, which had a separate entrance, was for the ‘colored’ clientele. At least Fort Collins was never that obvious about it.)
    They haven’t found one yet.

  31. You two are starting to make me mad. May I remind you that a substantial portion of those states’ residents votes Democratic? 35-45%. You know which states had the lowest Democratic or leaning-Democratic shares? Wyoming and Montana. North Dakota and Utah were also very low. This is not a Southern vs Northern thing, or even a coastal vs inward thing, except incidentally. This is an urban vs rural thing.

    My own state of New Jersey, which went solidly for Clinton in the last Presidential election, did so on the strength of votes from people of color. White NJ people, to my shame, majority voted for Trump. Just not a big enough majority to offset the POC landslide against him.

    Racism is not a Southern thing. It’s an American thing, and we need to not forget that. Insulting me and my relatives is not going to help.

    Look, I don’t like the valorizing of the Confederacy, either, but please remember that no state is a monolith, and that collateral damage is a thing.

  32. @Kip —

    Your geographic criterion just fell apart when you denied that Texas is in the South

    Absolutely true. Fortunately, I never claimed to be consistent on this subject. 😉

    so you have to allow Virginia, the capital of the old Confederacy.

    No I don’t. ;-D

    We were the biggest patriots before AND after we rebelled against the USA!


    @Lenore —

    You two are starting to make me mad.

    Awww, don’t get mad, Lenore. I’m mostly just shootin’ the shit and avoiding things I ought to be doing.

    If we’re going to be serious, I will say that most of the “Lost South” and the “South Will Rise Again” types know astoundingly little actual history. And I will also say that a majority of Southerners are fine folks who have no interest in those types.

    I went to both the Shelbyville and Murfreesboro protests last October (they were held on the same day), the ones that were organized mostly by out-of-state neo-Nazis looking for some PR. I carried a sign and everything. It was hilarious — there were literally more cops at both places than Nazis, with hundreds of counter-protesters at both spots (probably thousands at Murfreesboro, which is both larger and closer to Nashville). In Shelbyville we outnumbered them about three to one — and, in fact, the Shelbyville counter-protest was so successful that the main busloads of Nazis (yes, they literally bused them in) didn’t even show up to Murfreesboro and ran home with their tails between their legs.

    I’ve lived here almost all of my life. Believe me, I’m well aware of both the pros and cons.

  33. @Contrarius, could you possibly be being …Contrary?!?

    Sorry – living in the North, my sense of humor about such things has frayed badly. Thanks for reassuring me.

  34. @Contrarius I have to pass by FOUR — count em, four — prominently displayed Confederate battle flags every time I drive just to the end of my road (two-mile-long road) on the way to town.

    Are you sure they are Confederate?

  35. @Lenore —

    Who, me? Never!


    But to end on a serious note, though not using the meaning of “South” I originally started kvetching about — as I mentioned above, it’s really true that there are four houses on my road alone that prominently display Confederate battle flags. There is a distressing amount of romanticizing about the “Old South” and “Southern Pride” and so on down here (and also elsewhere in the country) — and if you scratch the surface a little, you’ll almost invariably find that it’s being done by people who don’t actually know the history of the war. Unfortunately, these people also often won’t **listen** to the actual history when anyone tries to teach them. For the most part these guys don’t think of themselves as supporting slavery or racism — for the most part they really believe that it was some noble ideal of “states’ rights” and not slavery that started the war. And most of them (in TN, at least) *aren’t* virulently racist. For instance, when the bussed-in neo-Nazis failed to show up at the Murfreesboro protest, there were only about **twenty** home-grown white supremacists left standing around looking really foolish — the two hundred or so “White Lives Matter” protesters who had been at Shelbyville were almost exclusively out-of-staters (and mostly from the North).

    Btw: a group of out-of-towners, including one of the organizers of the protest, stopped for supper in Nashville on their way home to Wisconsin and New York — and after a bunch of them got into an argument at the restaurant with a white woman and black man eating supper together, one of them ended up punching the white woman. Lovely group, that “White Lives Matter”. But, again, the attackers *weren’t* from here — interracial couples are incredibly common around here, and would hardly be noticed by anyone local.

    I wish I knew a better way to teach Southerners actual Southern history, a better way to open their eyes to what they’re doing. Just slamming them as racists doesn’t get us anywhere — it mostly just makes them pull back into their shells in defense. And racism mostly isn’t really the problem so much as willful ignorance.

  36. @Bill —

    Are you sure they are Confederate?

    Ummm, yeah, Bill, I’m sure.

    Where’s my rolling-eye emoji when I need it?

    But since you mentioned it, I’m now a huge fan of the Norwegian Olympic curling team. Google them one of these days to check out the wild pants they wear in competition. LOL.

  37. Bill, I think this may explain why Trump singled out Norway as a swell place for new citizens to come from. He thinks they’re Confederates!

    John A Arkansawyer, that’s a great article. I must read more of that blog.

  38. @John —

    That’s a really interesting blog, John — thanks for linking it.

    One quote already has me both chuckling and nodding my head: “Over the years he has compiled maps that show, among other things, where members of The Andy Griffith Show Rerun Watchers Association live, where kudzu grows, where grits are sold, where cotton was cultivated in 1860, where there are county courthouses with Confederate monuments and many, many other fascinating things.”

    I think we should definitely define The South as where kudzu grows and where grits are sold. 🙂 I’m rejecting the “red dirt” rule — because it includes **Pennsylvania**, for heaven’s sake.

    And yup, we have a lovely Confederate monument in the old town square (very close to the courthouse) in my sort-of little town.

  39. Another term which I’ve frequently heard, and which I think may be relevant, is “Deep South”. Rather than argue about the precise definition of an inherently imprecise term like “the South”, I think it’s easier to acknowledge that some places are “southier” than others. 🙂

    (Whether or not I’ve actually been to “the South” depends on whether or not you think Texas qualifies. Which I generally do. But I’d never call it “Deep South”.)

  40. @Xtifr —

    I think it’s easier to acknowledge that some places are “southier” than others.


    The Bitter Southerner article that John linked to has three good categories: “Southern to the Core” (Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi), “Pretty Darned Southern” (Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, both Carolinas, Tennessee), and “Sort of Southern” (Florida, Oklahoma, both Virginias). Note that they agree with me about Texas NOT being “South”. 😉

    I’m pretty amused by this whole discussion, since I actually started out addressing the issue of southerness from a mostly geographical/climatic/zonal point of view — it originated with the discussion of snow and daffodils. But since geography and climate have a strong influence on culture, I guess the topic creep shouldn’t be surprising!

  41. Contrarius on March 4, 2018 at 10:39 am said:

    The Bitter Southerner article that John linked to has three good categories: “Southern to the Core” (Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi)

    Huh, I would actually argue that Louisiana is in a category of its own. I mean, yes, in some ways, it’s extremely southern, but in other ways, it’s more atypical than even Texas or Florida. Note that those three are the only southern states where spicy food is popular, just to start. And then there’s music. And language.

    Arkansas and S. Carolina are like the same sort of things as Alabama, but less so. Louisiana is like the same sort of thing, but totally different.

    Trying to make things fit into nice, neat categories is always a bitch. 🙂

  42. Thanks, Lenore. I hate reflexive Southern bashing as well.

    Looking at this as an outsider, albeit one who has lived almost a year in Biloxi, Mississippi, as a kid, Louisiana, the Mississippi and the Alabama Gulf Coast do feel culturally similar, though in Louisiana, the French influence is a lot more notable than in Mississippi or Alabama. Though you could get the typical Cajun and Creole food on the Mississippi Gulf coast as well. Mississippi and Alabama also were heavily into Confederate stuff with monuments, flags, etc…, more so than Louisiana. In Biloxi, we lived within walking distance of Beauvoir, the estate where Jefferson Davis spent the remainder of his days post Civil War, which is a big, if rather disappointing tourist attraction. And my kindergarten had photos of all US presidents to the then current one on the wall, including both Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis (and apparently, I could recite all the names once, though I can no longer do that). And I’m pretty sure they would have thrown Lincoln in the trash, if they could have gotten away with it. The whole area was also heavily segregated by the late 1970s and probably still is today. My kindergarten class had 2 black kids out of more than 20, in a town that was approx. 30 to 40% black. There was one Hispanic kid, one undetermined, the rest were white.

    Northern Mississippi (e.g. Jackson) and northern Alabama did feel different than the Gulf coast and have more similarities to Georgia and South Carolina. Tennessee and Kentucky are again different, more orderly than the Deep South, but also more conservative with regard to clothing, etc… and much whiter than the Gulf Coast. I haven’t seen much of North Carolina, but it struck me as closer to Tennessee and Kentucky than to South Carolina. Texas was its own thing, as was Florida.

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