Pixel Scroll 3/4/16 Mellon Scrollie and the Infinite Sadness

(1) ABCD16 AWARDS. Ben Summers’ cover design for Lavie Tidhar’s novel A Man Lies Dreaming has won an Academy of British Cover Design Award in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy category.

a-man-lies-dreaming

The complete shortlist with images of all the covers is at ABCD16 Shortlist and Winners. There are more sf/fantasy books among the finalists in other marketing categories.

(2) MAC II LEADERSHIP REORGANIZES. The 2016 Worldcon decided its communications will be better with a single voice at the top and replaced its three-co-chair structure (“Team LOL”) with a single chairperson, Ruth Lichtwardt.

Diane Lacey, another of the co-chairs, will become a Vice-Chair, and the third, Jeff Orth, is said to be deciding among several options for continuing his work on the con. The decision was shared with the division heads at a meeting last weekend.

(3) AMAZING CELE. Mike Ashley chronicles the reign of Amazing editor Cele Goldsmith in “The AMAZING Story: The Sixties – The Goose-Flesh Factor”. Pulpfest is serializing Ashley’s history of the magazine, first published in its pages in 1992.

[Cele] Goldsmith chose all the material, edited everything, selected the title and blurb typefaces and dummied the monthly magazines by herself. [Norman] Lobsenz, who arrived for an editorial conference usually once a week, penned the editorials, read her choices, and wrote the blurbs for the stories. They did cover blurbs together, and Goldsmith assigned both interior and cover art.

Goldsmith had no scientific background but had a sound judgment of story content and development, and this was the key to her success. She accepted stories on their value as fiction rather than as science fiction. “When I read something I didn’t understand, but intuitively knew was good,” she said, “I’d get ‘goose flesh’ and never doubt we had a winner.” That “goose flesh” was transmitted to the readers. I know when I encountered the Goldsmith AMAZING and FANTASTIC in the early 1960s, I got goose flesh because of the power and originality of their content. As I look now at the 150 or more total issues of those two magazines that Cele Goldsmith edited, that thrill is still there.

Other installments already online are:

(4) JAR JAR JERSEYS. The Altoona Curve minor league baseball team will host another Star Wars night – if the team isn’t too embarrassed to take the field….

Last year, the team wore these beautiful Jabba the Hutt jerseys. For our Star Wars Night, we’re following that up with a jersey featuring another controversial Star Wars character, Jar Jar Binks. Like last season, we will have appearances by the Garrison Cardida of the 501st Legion.

 

Meanwhile, the Birmingham Barons have enlisted fans to pick the Star Wars-themed jersey their players will wear during a game this season.

(5) GREAT POWERS. An interview with Tim Powers conducted by Nick Givers has been posted at PS Publishing.

NICK GEVERS: In your new novel, Medusa’s Web, you set out a very interesting and mesmerizingly complex metaphysical scheme, of spider images that draw human minds up and down the corridors of time. What first suggested this scenario to you?

TIM POWERS: I thought it would be fun to play around with two-dimensional adversaries after reading Cordwainer Smith’s short story, “The Game of Rat and Dragon.” I decided that since such creatures would be dimensionally handicapped by definition, why not have them be fourth-dimensionally handicapped too? I.e. they don’t perceive time, and therefore every encounter these creatures have with humans is, from the creature’s point of view, the same event. So by riding along on the point of view of one of them, you can briefly inhabit whatever other encounters it’s had with humans, regardless of when those encounters happened or will happen.

This seemed like an opportunity for lots of dramatic developments, and even one very intriguing paradox for our protagonist to blunder through.

(6) A MOVIE RECOMMENDATION. Zootopia is getting a lot of buzz, and Max Florschutz agrees it’s a winner in a review at Unusual Things.

First, a quick summary for those of you who just want the yay or nay: Zootopia is an excellent, wonderful film with a lot of heart, a lot of adventure, and a wonderful moral at its core that wraps up everything in a fantastic way. Put it on your list.

Now, the longer explanation….

(7) TIM BURTON PROJECT. Entertainment Weekly has a report on “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (film)”, due in theaters September 30.

In Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, the latest fantasy from director Tim Burton, Asa Butterfield plays Jake, a 16-year-old plagued by nightmares following a family tragedy.

On the advice of his therapist, the teen embarks on an overseas journey to find the abandoned orphanage where his late grandfather claims to have once lived. Not only does the place turn out to be real, it also serves as the gateway to an alternate realm where children with strange powers are looked after by a magical guardian (Penny Dreadful star Eva Green) and time moves of its own accord.

 

(8) POLITICAL SCIENCE FICTION. At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog, Andrew Liptak names “6 Political SF Novels as Bingeable as House of Cards”. One of them is –

Jennifer Government, by Max Barry

Max Barry’s second novel is a fantastic satire of globalized trade and the deregulation of industry. In this alternate future, the United States has taken over much of north and south America, with government and its services privatized. Citizens take on the names of their employers, and the titular Jennifer Government is an agent tasked with tracking down the perpetrators of a series of murders . The crime turns out to be an attempt by Nike to drum up notoriety for a new line of shoes, but the plot quickly escalated beyond what anyone planned. It’s a ridiculous, often funny book that shows off a very different, but scarily plausible, hyper-commercial world.

(9) ONCE MORE INTO THE SPEECH. MD Jackson touts favorite examples of “The Rousing Speech” at Amazing Stories.

There’s always a rousing speech.

When the odds are against you, when the forces of darkness, or the alien invaders, or the giant lizards have gathered and your pitifully small band of heroes stand against them, the single vanguard against annihilation, what does your leader do?

Well, if he’s any kind of leader he starts talking.

Motivational speeches keep your team together and focused. Rousing speeches keep your smallish army from losing soldiers due to desertion rather than the upcoming decimation. And it’s got to be a doozy of a speech in order to make otherwise sensible men and women stand with you against almost certain death….

One of my favorite rousing speeches comes from an episode of Star Trek. In Return to Tomorrow, a second season episode from 1968, William Shatner throws all the weight of his dramatic acting into a rousing speech: The infamous “Risk is our business…” speech. It doesn’t come before a battle, but before three of the crew, including Kirk, decide to have ancient powerful aliens take over their bodies. Despite the context and the odd placement of the speech which doesn’t really further the plot, the speech has become iconic for its application to the entire Star Trek universe through all the series and movies. It kind of sums up what Star Trek is all about.

Risk. Risk is our business. That’s what this starship is all about. That’s why we’re aboard her.

And with Shatner`s just-shy-of-bombast delivery, the speech is kind of powerful.

(10) TONY DYSON OBIT. The builder of the original R2-D2, Tony Dyson, died March 4 reports the BBC.

The 68-year-old Briton was found by police after a neighbour called them, concerned his door was open.

He is thought to have died of natural causes. A post-mortem is being carried out to determine cause of death.

Dyson was commissioned to make eight R2-D2 robots for the film series. He said working on it was “one of the most exciting periods of my life”.

The look of R2-D2 was created by the conceptual designer Ralph McQuarrie who also created Darth Vader, Chewbacca and C-3PO.

Prof Dyson, who owned The White Horse Toy Company, was commissioned to make eight models plus the master moulds and an additional head.

He made four remote control units – two units for the actor Kenny Baker to sit in with a seat fitted inside and two throw away units to be used in a bog scene in Empire Strikes Back where a monster spits out the droid onto dry land, from the middle of the swamp.

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • March 4, 1967 — Neal Hefti won a Grammy for our favorite song, the “Batman Theme.”

(12) YO, GROOT! According to the Daily News, Sylvester Stallone has joined the cast of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Who might Stallone be playing? Perhaps, Peter Quill’s (Pratt) father. We know that coveted role will appear in the sequel. However, most people assume Kurt Russell already snagged that part and a source for the Daily News says Stallone’s role is just a cameo.

(13) KRYPTON ENNOBLED. As Yahoo! News tells the story, “Polish chemists tried to make kryptonite and failed, but then made a huge discovery”.

Avert your eyes, Superman, because according to news out of Poland this morning, a team of chemists just got awfully close to actually creating the fictional substance of kryptonite. Don’t sweat too much though, Clark — the scientists were only able to bond the element of krypton with oxygen (as opposed to nitrogen) which wound up creating krypton monoxide. Inability to create real kryptonite notwithstanding, the fact the chemists successfully bonded krypton with anything is a revelatory achievement for an element previously known to be entirely unreactive. In light of the success, krypton (which is a noble gas like helium and neon) is no longer considered inert.

Conducted at the Polish Academy of Sciences, a team of chemists ran krypton through a series of various tests to build off a previous study positing that the chemical may react with hydrogen or carbon under extreme conditions. What they discovered — and subsequently published in Scientific Reports — was that krypton, while under severe pressure, also has the ability to form krypton oxides after bonding with oxygen. Thing is, the chemists didn’t actually see the reaction happen, but rather, used genetic algorithms to theorize its likelihood.

(14) GUESS WHY ZINES ARE COMING BACK? News from Australia — “Sticky Institute: Internet trolls sparks resurgence of zines ahead of Festival of the Photocopier”.

Photocopied zines are making a comeback, with some young self-publishers keen to escape the attention of online trolls.

While the internet has democratised publishing, allowing anyone to potentially reach a global audience with the click of a button, vitriolic internet comments are pushing some writers back to a medium last popular in the 1990s.

Zines, or fanzines, are self-published, handmade magazines usually produced in short runs on photocopiers or home printers.

Thomas Blatchford volunteers at Melbourne zine store Sticky Institute, which is preparing for its annual Festival of the Photocopier later this month….

While unsure of the exact reason for the resurgence of zines, Mr Blatchford said it was more than just a “weird nostalgia thing”.

He said some zine-makers had been scared away from online publishing because of unkind comments from people on the internet.

“There’s some horrible people on there,” he said.

(15) BATTLE OF THE BURRITO. John Scalzi is engaged in a culinary duel with Wil Wheaton.

Some of you may be aware of the existential battle that Wil Wheaton and I are currently engaged in, involving burritos. I am of the opinion that anything you place into a tortilla, if it is then folded into a burrito shape, is a burrito of some description; Wil, on the other hand, maintains that if it is not a “traditional” burrito, with ingredients prepared as they were in the burrito’s ancestral home of Mexico, is merely a “wrap.”

Expect someone to write a post soon complaining that Scalzi is doing to Mexican food what he did to sf, by which I mean someone longing for the days when you could tell what you were buying by looking at the tortilla cover…

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Brian Z., Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

162 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 3/4/16 Mellon Scrollie and the Infinite Sadness

  1. Vanilla, real vanilla, is a very powerful, distinctive, nuanced and layered flavor.

    I suspect it is the use of cheap substitute flavorings, or none at all, that has led to the equation of “vanilla” with “bland”.

  2. a burrito was not an authentic tacqueria menu item
    From here in L.A., it’s Mexican street food. Chihuahua, Sonora, places where flour tortillas are more common than corn tortillas. Frijoles are necessary, everything else is opinion.

  3. @Taral Wayne:

    I was under the impression that a burrito was not an authentic tacqueria menu item, that it was invented in America, so can hardly be authentic however it’s made.

    Wait that makes no sense at all.

  4. @Taral,

    Cooks can and do invent and combine things everywhere, even in the United States and Canada. There might be an argument that something isn’t an authentic Mexican dish because of where it was invented, but to say there is no such thing as an authentic burrito — but that other foods can be authentic — is silly.

    I might be interested to learn that a “traditional” food was actually invented by a marketing executive in the 1970s, but that’s irrelevant to whether it tastes good.

  5. I suspect one of the problems with vanilla as a flavor is its ubiquity. I sometimes joke that every food in American cuisine must contain one of the following: vanilla, garlic, chilli pepper. Some time take the exercise of finding a commercial “sweet/dessert” prepared food in a U.S. grocery store that has absolutely no vanilla in it. It can be done, but it takes some work. When a flavor is in everything, you stop noticing it. If you’re not used to an ingredient being present, it’s very noticeable. (Substitute rose water for vanilla extract in a recipe and, believe me, people will notice!)

  6. Taral Wayne, I think I’ve had one of those small-football burritos. About ten years ago, so I don’t remember the name of the joint (a nondescript hole-in-the-wall place, if memory serves), but the burrito was magnificent.

    And made two full meals.

  7. There was (is?) a place in Madison, WI, whose slogan was (is?) “Burritos as big as your head!” And they came awfully close …

  8. Peace Is My Middle Name: I’m kind of curious to hear people’s beefs with the covers in the ABCD16 Awards. I found them interesting and graphic in their approach.

    The Tidhar winner utterly baffles me. I find it plain and pedestrian. In fact, I would probably rank it below almost every other cover on that page. I find a great many of the other covers quite interesting and appealing.

    Incidentally, if you left-click repeatedly on the covers under the “Series Design” category, it will cycle through all the covers in the series.

  9. (1) Ugly, boring, and hard to read. The trifecta. It’s the worst one on the page. Many of the covers fall into the U, B, HTR classification, while others fall into the trite/cliche category. Some of them are attractive, but didn’t win.

    (15) Not a burrito. OH JOHN SCALZI NO indeed. Wil is correct. It has to be filled with at least nominally-Mexican ingredients, else it’s a wrap. Now I want a Mission burrito, but it’s too late to get there.

    “CQB” went onto my BDP Short as soon as I’d seen it and looked up the title. That there is some proper science fiction pew pew, with no snowy taverns.

    I wish I was more of an audio person. That list Kip W posted sounds awesome, but audio books and radio shows don’t keep my brain engaged enough and I can’t pay attention, wander away, come back and then have no idea what’s going on. I’m just an eyeball person which is odd as my hearing has always been better than my sight.

    I do have a CD that a group from L.A. made, where they did the original “Star Wars” as a Lux radio show with stars of the 1940’s. Bogart was Han, of course, Mickey Rooney was Luke, Laurel and Hardy were the droids, Rin Tin Tin was Chewie, etc.

  10. Peace Is My Middle Name on March 5, 2016 at 7:45 pm said:

    I’m kind of curious to hear people’s beefs with the covers in the ABCD16 Awards.

    I found them interesting and graphic in their approach.

    I liked the winner in the SF/F category and also
    http://abcoverd.co.uk/img/2016/sci-fi-fantasy/thetriedandtruetalesofphineasichabodrate.jpg
    http://abcoverd.co.uk/img/2016/sci-fi-fantasy/Under-ground.jpg
    Wasn’t keen on the colors in this one but liked the Escher-style morphin near-tessellation of clocks into flowers
    http://abcoverd.co.uk/img/2016/sci-fi-fantasy/timeoftheclockmaker.jpg

    I also really liked this one from another category: http://abcoverd.co.uk/img/2016/mass-market/A_TheMirrorWorldofMelodyBlack.jpg

  11. Is the wrap/burrito question not a relatively simple one?
    1. Is a flour tortilla being used?
    2. Has it been folded in a way so as to fully enclose the stuff inside?
    Yes to both? Then it is, at very least, a candidate for burrito eligibility.

    Take the parcel of spicy meaty goodness I ate today.
    1. The bread was lavash
    2. It was open at both ends
    This is because it was a doner kebab (or arguably this)- and very nice it was as well. It was not a burrito. It could have been made with pita bread instead and been open along a top edge but it would still have been a doner kebab.

  12. Camestros Felapton: Is the wrap/burrito question not a relatively simple one? 1. Is a flour tortilla being used?

    Oh, great — after idolizing you for months, now I find out that you’re a corn tortilla bigot.

    < goes off to cry >

  13. Re book covers, I don’t get the winning one at all. I thought at first that it was a striped coverlet but then I saw that the lines were actually broken. I wonder if it makes sense to someone who read the book.

    To my mind, a burrito is any of a series of traditional Mexican ingredients in a flour tortilla. Anything else is a wrap. Team Wheaton!

  14. JJ on March 5, 2016 at 11:10 pm said:

    Camestros Felapton: Is the wrap/burrito question not a relatively simple one? 1. Is a flour tortilla being used?

    Oh, great — after idolizing you for months, now I find out that you’re a corn tortilla bigot.

    I can’t claim great authority in the area of Mexican food but if we were talking quesadillas then I would suggest that the corn tortilla is most appropriate. Using a corn tortilla for a burrito would be surely like trying to make a chicken tikka masala the way they make it in India…

  15. Peace Is My Middle Name:

    “I’m kind of curious to hear people’s beefs with the covers in the ABCD16 Awards.

    I found them interesting and graphic in their approach.”

    I have the same problem as I have with swedish design. You slim down on the elements and at the same time remove everything that has personality. Bland and boring. Some covers, like that for “Hoot Owl”, looks like it was made by a child. Looking at that cover makes me think it can hardly belong to a book, more to some random scrawlings of spelling mistakes.

    These are not book covers. They are stylized posters. No hint of life in them. They are dead. Only one or two of them would make me think of looking at the book.

  16. The problem with American burritos is they tend to be stuffed with heaps of rice and beans, some lettuce or something, plus a token amount of beef or chicken and a little sprinkle of cheese and squirt of sugary sauce. I love eating them too, but if Mexicans created a wrap they’d probably fill it with actual food.

  17. Like black magic, a burrito is a matter of symbolism and intent. Like the difference between fantasy and SF, if you try to pin it down too closely, some creative burrito-maker will go out of his or her way to make something that straddles the border of your definition and confounds you. 😉

  18. I’m kind of curious to hear people’s beefs with the covers in the ABCD16 Awards.

    My main impression of many of the covers is that they are “noisy” and hard to read – text is hidden among doodles, and title, author name and blurb are mixed up.

  19. @Joe H.: Heh, my nickname for Chipotle’s is “Burrito as Big as Your Head.”

    @Camestros Felapton: Some of the SF covers did little for me; a few were pretty good.

    @JJ: Thanks, I didn’t know clicking on the Series covers cycled through! For some, this cemented my dislike of the style; for others, I found more covers I liked. The series designed by Jamie Keenan – no, just no. And the Nancy Mitford books – I get that they wanted a theme, but they’re dull, like bland wrapping paper with a gift tag in the middle. The classics art directed by Anna Morrison, while not really to my taste, seem good and make a nice set without being cookie cutter.

  20. Warning – rambling ahead, but PIMMN asked an open question. . . . Peace, I’m a bit nervous answering your question, since IIRC you have an art background, but it’s all down to personal taste, sooooo here goes. BTW there are some I like (if you don’t give up on my post before you get that far 😉 ).

    @PIMMN: See above (what I commented to @JJ). Also, some of the covers are “ugly font scrawled across cover” as if they couldn’t think of anything to do. Some do this better than others, though, e.g., Night Owls is pretty good – a lot better than Me Being Me…. But IMHO Birdy‘s better than any of the other YA (and much times better than the winner). Killing the Dead is good; I like the tricks they play with some of the shadows on the latter – I mean, it’s not really my style, but I appreciate it.

    Syriza, A Moral Defense of Recreational Drug Use, and the Tidhar are some of the least imaginative ones on the page, as far as I’m concerned. The Early Stories may be the worst, although I also dislike Jamie Keenan’s cover series a lot.

    In general, for me, it takes more than weird typography (surely done to death by this point) and an optional emblem to make a good cover. I also don’t like the ones that look like a failed 3rd grade art project, like . . . uh, I can’t even figure out the title – the book by Emma Hooper. (Hint to cover designers: If I can’t read the title, I’m unlikely to reach for it.) Or the winner in the lit fic category, for that matter. But then, a lot of the covers scream lit fic to me, even in other categories; this may be a U.K.-U.S. difference. IIRC, I find a lot of U.S. lit fic covers bland, though.

    The 3D series baffles me a bit. You have to buy the book to see the 3D effect (no one walks around with old style 3D glasses), so it feels like a failed gimmick. Some look like they may be good, though! But while I think this type of 3D is cute, on a cover where you don’t see how nice it is till you buy it?! Um.

    To be more positive, here are some I liked, to varying degrees. The Fox and the Star (children’s winner), Birdy and Killing the Dead in YA (I’d add Night Owls if I didn’t feel like there were too many “weird font with small symbol” covers), The Tried & True Tales of Phineas Ichabod Rate (I like surreal), the Escher-esque parts of The Time of the Clockmaker (but not the eye-bleeding color), nothing except maybe The Bees in “Mass Market” (?!) (it’s a bit on the nose, but it’s pretty good), One Point Two Billion (for its retro styling; the colors are a bit much), The Battle of Switzerland (reminds of Lock In though), The Strings of Murder (I like this one a lot), Charlotte Brontë (I’m giving it the benefit of the doubt; it looks like it’d be more impressive in person, with some metallic stuff and bas relief), Nopi (only ‘cuz I know how nice it looks in person) . . . and a few of the 3D covers might be good with the glasses on (can’t tell).

    BTW is the non-fiction winner a cookbook?

    BTW #2 @PIMMN, I think you hit on part of the problem for me. Most of them seem like pure graphic design covers, which don’t do much for me in general. Seeing a page of them probably made it worse. 😉 Covers like this have to be really special to grab me.

  21. I think I’ve never seen such a bad cover for Tom Sawyer as the one listed by ABCD. It really makes me angry that they could do such a thing to such a good book.

    This new trend to try to make all covers look like bad clip-art. Bah.

  22. @Kendall:

    Honest input is always interesting and helpful. I’m not committed to a dogmatic view of art and the more perspectives on things the better.

    I may be an art professional with some experience, but I’m not trying to set myself up as an arbiter or even much of an expert. The main effect of my job seems to be that I am interested in how and why people perceive things as they do.

    One thing I am interested in is how fashions in art change. It seems to me that all of those covers are of one fashion, probably one that will mark them as of this period as solidly as a flapper dress and hat does the 1920s. As fashions change, I am pretty sure people will look back on these covers with varying degrees of horror, snark, romance, or nostalgia just as they have done other fashions of the past.

    My interest in them as book covers is whether they do their job and how effectively. Hearing people’s reactions is very helpful.

  23. @RHF/Bonnie: “Survivor Type”

    Yup, one of the few final lines that’s always stuck with me. The story’s firmly paired for me with Paul Hazel’s “Having A Woman At Lunch,” from the Prime Evil anthology.

  24. One of my favorite Pinky and the Brain jokes was when they were working as elves (to take over the world) and one of Santa’s reindeer invited them to a party.

    Brain: “Hm, for some reason, the idea of joining the Donner party is unappealing.”

  25. lurkertype
    I would so love to hear that Lux version of STAR WARS with the Rooney (et al) cast! Reading about it reminds me that there is a script online [script here, YouTube performance… you know what? the performance I can find isn’t a good advertisement for the script] called “A Night in Elsinore,” which recasts the story of the melancholy Dane with the sarcastic Dane, the strangely Italian Dane, the impish silent Dane, and a cast of golden-age comedians and stooges, each one clearly and characteristically delineated by the words on the page.

    JJ
    Strong preference for corn tortillas here, admixed with bafflement that anyone faced with a choice would go for flour tortillas. Oh, now add to that the dread anticipation that someone’s going to explain that to me. It’s not a celiac issue for me, I just find that the flour ones don’t seem to have much flavor to add. (I also love cornmeal pancakes. Mmmm.) One of the many joys of tacos de chorizo is the soft corn tortilla wrapping. One time, they made them with flour tortillas, and I actually sent them back (apologetically, but I wasn’t there for flour). This week, Cathy made black bean burritos, and without being asked, she had bought corn tortillas for mine. Authentic or not, that’s what I like.

    Jack Lint
    When my sister’s oldest kid was um, maybe around six, I showed up at their house for a holiday visit, and was informed by him that I had a humor rep to uphold, so I was on the spot. So I improvised, asking him why Santa used reindeer. It was, I said, so that if the sleigh crashed, at least Santa wouldn’t have to go hungry. That got me in his good graces. I still think it was funnier, years later, when I hadn’t seen him or talked to him for a few years, when the phone was handed over to him, so I said, “Brian, did you know that Jesus loves you?” The short silence while he tried to determine whether I’d gone all churchy was priceless.

  26. Hampus Eckerman
    I understand that the Tom Sawyer cover was created by the artist by pretending to be hard at work making a cover, and then “allowing” passers-by to finish it for them, for a consideration. Besides getting paid to do the cover, the nominal creator also got an assortment of marbles, a Barlow knife, and a dead cat.

  27. Missed the start of a particular discussion so I thought we might be talking about a Rush tribute band.

  28. I had a friend who lived in Donner Hall at Carnegie Mellon University and I was shocked to find out that they never took advantage of the hall’s name for a theme party.

    Doesn’t one of the Colorado universities have a dining hall that’s named after the last man in the state who was charged with cannibalism? I seem to recall they have an annual dinner that involves ribs.

    Next up: References to The Big Bus.

  29. Jack Lint
    Easy there, Shoulders! Yeah, the University of Colorado (Boulder) has a restaurant and grill named for Alferd Packer, who I mostly know from seeing a photo of the grisly display at the wax museum in Denver, and from reading the chapter devoted to him in Timber Line by Gene Fowler. The Pioneer Museum in Fort Collins used to display a cane he made in prison, back before they moved into a larger building and started keeping most of their stuff in a goddamn closet. (I flipping hate Nouveau Museum style, where they choose a single artifact to display in a pristine white display case with six feet of space separating it from the next single object. The museum used to put, seemingly, every single thing they had out where you could see it as you navigated the aisles. The Frontier Times Museum in Bandera, Texas, was still like that last time I visited.)

  30. There was (is?) a place in Madison, WI, whose slogan was (is?) “Burritos as big as your head!” And they came awfully close …

    I’ve lived in two college towns with La Bamba burrito “restaurants,” where the slogan is, indeed, “Burritos as big as your head.” And the mascot/trademark thing painted on the outside is what appears to be a college student (young male in shorts/T-shirt) with a giant burrito instead of a head.

    It’s hideous. But I guess poor students like the place(s) because the portions are so huge.

  31. Podcasts:

    “Welcome to Night Vale,” which I feel should be nominated for a Hugo at some point (I nominated an individual episode in dramatic short form, and their most recent touring stage show in dramatic short form)

    “History of the World in 100 Objects” which came out from the British Museum a few years back

    “Mystery Show” which only has 6 episodes, but they’re engaging as all get out – the host tries to find out more about an object or experience that is somewhat inexplicable, like a very unusual and fancy belt buckle a friend found in the road when they were kids

  32. Elusis, I nominated “Welcome to Night Vale” in best dramatic presentation long form, because I was having such difficulties picking which particular episode to nominate. I still have time to revisit Short Form if I can make up my mind…

  33. Well, thanks a lot for the detailed discussion of cover design everyone, especially Kendall. I agree that a lot of them are exercises in design that give no idea of the book. The one for The Heart Goes Last is striking and memorable, but cold, and gives absolutely no sense of a story being told.

    I also don’t get the love for the scribbly handwritten look – suggests a “raw” writing style and personal subject matter, I guess, but it sure is hard to read.

    Kendall, I don’t quite see why you like The Fox and the Star; it’s ornamental rather than individual, and certainly fails on readability.

    My favorites, perhaps, would be The Girl in the Red Coat, Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight, and A Year of Marvellous Ways.

  34. I agree that the quirky handwriting/handprinting typeface gets old really fast. And some of these covers are just unreadable and make me want to look away — which really defeats the purpose.

    My favorites are I am Henry Finch, The Tried and True Tales of Phineas Ichabod Rate, Underground, A Year of Marvellous Ways, The Girl on the Train, and Seven Brief Lessons on Physics. I really like several of the designs in Donna Payne’s rotation — but they’re obviously hardback designs which come with a slipcover which actually has the title and author name.

  35. Corn tortillas don’t have the flexibility needed for good burritos. They taste good, though. (There are good-quality flour tortillas that have flavor, but you might end up making your own.)

  36. IMO, Corn Tortillas are for Tacos, Flour tortillas are for Burritos.

  37. Put me down on the corn tortilla side generally. I’ve found at least a handful of store bought flour tortillas that are actually good though. Usually smaller local company produced. I’ve heard a lot of the better ones use cake flour but don’t know that for sure. Whatever the difference they don’t have to be the flavorless edible wrapping so many are.

  38. I heated the corn tortillas briefly before wrapping them, and they worked fine. Admittedly, I wasn’t closing off the ends, since I’m not a fast food drone and it wasn’t going anywhere but onto my plate. Thus, I was able to opt for flavor instead of durability.

  39. I heated the corn tortillas briefly before wrapping them, and they worked fine. Admittedly, I wasn’t closing off the ends,

    More like enchiladas, then, without the sauce. There’s probably a name for them, but I don’t have it.

  40. @Kip W

    Thanks, I had not run across “A Night in Elsinore” before. It was a hoot.

  41. I have eaten more than once at the Alferd (note spelling) Packer Memorial Grill, as both my older brothers and several of my friends went to CU. In fact, one of them was at school there when the name was selected. He voted for it, of course, and then nothing would do but to take the whole family there to eat some dodgy burgers (Erm. Cafeteria-grade, not THAT dodgy).

    Corn tortillas are tastier, but lack the flexibility to do a proper burrito with both ends tucked in. You have to use flour ones for that. Either traditional white or gringo whole wheat. Corn tortillas are what you use for tacos and enchiladas and other more open foods.

    Most of the book covers are way too busy. They make my eyes hurt, not wanting to linger, and make it impossible to read the title, author, etc. And then some of them are unbelievably dull, looking like generic products of the 70’s that ought to just say “FICTION NOVEL”.

    Fancy graphic design is arty, but doesn’t make good book covers.

  42. PJ Evans
    There was sauce, so perhaps these were enchiladas.

    Magewolf
    Glad to be of service. I find it rare to run into a pastiche that gets it so right.

    lurkertype
    Note that I used the spelling. I’m not sure I’ve ever been on that campus at all. In fact, before I looked it up, I thought the Packer eatery was in Greeley — had thought so for decades, even.
    Enchiladas, yes. That seems to be what I was enjoying the other night, after all.

  43. On the subject of things that may or may not be burritos – have these been mentioned yet ….?

  44. @Christian I’m not sure there’s a burritoverse big enough to contain that within its definition. Yikes.

  45. On the subject of things that may or may not be burritos…

    Okay, I’ve stayed out of this burrito kerfuffle, but this was The. Last. Straw. Burritos are dry (if they’re wet and use flour tortillas, they’re badly made enchiladas) and if they’re fried, they’re flautas. At least in the part of the world I’m from. *

    *Which is kinda the point, that we all reference different things for our opinions. 😉

  46. So many people who are wrong on the internet. Where did you learn your food terminology? Local fast food chains? John Scalzi? Your SFF reading?

    *shudders in horror*

    #EthnicFoodGetsNoRespect

  47. Cheryl S. on March 7, 2016 at 1:17 pm said:

    Burritos are dry

    And yet, one owned-by-Spanish-speaking-folks restaurant nearby me with a pretty decent selection of fairly authentic Mexican cuisine has what they call a “Burrito Mexicano” which is a burrito drenched in a lovely, onion-y sauce.

    Several other restaurants in the area offer a choice between “wet” and “dry” burritos, using those exact words.

    (To be fair, a lot of our local Spanish-speaking or bilingual English/Spanish folks are from families that have lived here longer than anyone who speaks English. So it may be a regional thing.)

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