Pixel Scroll 4/9/18 The Opera Of The Menacing Phantom Tollbooth

(1) BUCKS TO PRESERVE BRADBURYANA. At BradburyMedia, Phil Nichols reports “Center for Bradbury Studies receives major grant”.

Congratulations to my friends and colleagues at the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies who were today awarded $50,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

The grant is for the preservation of the Center’s extensive collection of Bradbury papers and memorabilia – materials which have been invaluable in my research, and will continue to be of interest to Bradbury scholars in the future. The project lead is Prof Jonathan R. Eller, author of Becoming Ray Bradbury and Ray Bradbury Unbound.

And Nichols was amused that the NEH press release mentioned Bradbury and Mae West in the same paragraph:

Additional awards will ensure the preservation of nearly 30,000 pounds of correspondence, manuscripts, photographs, and memorabilia from author Ray Bradbury, and support production of a documentary on the life and legacy of Mae West, one of the most powerful women of early Hollywood, whose writing and film roles served as a barometer ofrapidly changing social mores in 20th-century America.

(2) SIMPSONS RECAP. Martin Morse Wooster had his eye on The Simpsons last night:

Homer and Bart went to a “Tunnelcraft” convention, which was portrayed to be the most boring con ever.  It took up most of a giant convention center, with a few number of dealers and quite a lot of walking.  The high point for Bart was watching two Tunnelcraft players who were very popular on YouTube on a panel.playing each other.  But they presented the panel as if it was just two random dudes playing video games.

This was the first time I had heard “cosplay” used as a word on The Simpsons, and cosplayers in Tunnelcraft looked like the old-school rock’em sock’em robots.  One of the cosplayers was Daniel Radcliffe, who said the only way he could go to a con was hiding under a robot head.  He took off his robot head and was promptly mobbed by fans.  Daniel Radlciffe played himself.

This excerpt is from another part of the episode.

(3) PKD’S REVELATION. In his podcast Imaginary Worlds, Eric Molinsky interviews Penn State professor Richard Doyle, Erik Davis, one of the editors of the “Exegesis,” and Victoria Stewart, who wrote the play 800 Words: The Transformation of Philip K. Dick in order to find out why Dick was obsessed with the mystical experience that happened to him in 1974 and why his work resonates with us today

(4) 1963 SFF. Galactic Journey reviews the latest IF: “[April 9, 1963] IFfy… (May 1963 IF Science Fiction)”

Every month, science fiction stories come out in little digest-sized magazines.  It used to be that this was pretty much the only way one got their SF fix, and in the early ’50s, there were some forty magazines jostling for newsstand space.  Nowadays, SF is increasingly sold in book form, and the numbers of the digests have been much reduced.  This is, in many ways, for the good.  There just wasn’t enough quality to fill over three dozen monthly publications.

That said, though there are now fewer than ten regular SF mags, editors still can find it challenging to fill them all with the good stuff.  Editor Fred Pohl, who helms three magazines, has this problem in a big way.  He saves the exceptional stories and known authors (and the high per word rates) for his flagship digest, Galaxy, and also for his newest endeavor, Worlds of Tomorrow.  That leaves IF the straggler, filled with new authors and experimental works.

Sometimes it succeeds.  Other times, like this month, it is clear that the little sister in Pohl’s family of digests got the short end of the stick.  There’s nothing stellar in this book, but some real clunkers, as you’ll see.  I earned my pay (such as it is) this month!

(5) FASHION PLATE. Miriam Weinberg on Hugo Ceremony attire —


See the outfit under discussion in a photo here.

(6) CHARTIER OBIT. Christopher Chartier (1966-2018), founder of Warp 9, a media oriented fan club in Montreal, died April 5. Cathy Palmer-Lister notified local fans, adding: “He ran a couple of conventions, and got many of us involved in the concom. He also got me travelling to Chicago for Visions, still in my memory as the best conventions ever. It’s a shock that he passed away so young, only 52.”

(7) TOO. Junot Diaz’ #MeToo confession, “The Silence: The Legacy of Childhood Trauma”, is online at The New Yorker.

I never got any help, any kind of therapy. I never told anyone.

Last week I returned to Amherst. It’s been years since I was there, the time we met. I was hoping that you’d show up again; I even looked for you, but you didn’t appear. I remember you proudly repped N.Y.C. during the few minutes we spoke, so I suspect you’d moved back or maybe you were busy or you didn’t know I was in town. I have a distinct memory of you in the signing line, saying nothing to anyone, intense. I assumed you were going to ask me to read a manuscript or help you find an agent, but instead you asked me about the sexual abuse alluded to in my books. You asked, quietly, if it had happened to me.

You caught me completely by surprise.

I wish I had told you the truth then, but I was too scared in those days to say anything. Too scared, too committed to my mask. I responded with some evasive bullshit. And that was it. I signed your books. You thought I was going to say something, and when I didn’t you looked disappointed. But more than that you looked abandoned. I could have said anything but instead I turned to the next person in line and smiled….

(8) THE EXPANSE. Abigail Nussbaum, in her column for the Lawyers, Guns & Money blog with “A Political History of the Future: The Expanse”, assures readers: “I don’t hate The Expanse.

For two-plus years, I’ve watched this celebration of the show with bemusement. I don’t hate The Expanse, and I’ll probably keep watching it for as long as it’s on. But I also find it singularly un-engaging—surprisingly so, given how well-calibrated its premise and genre are to my interests. I would describe The Expanse as a show with great casting and production values, amazing worldbuilding, a so-so story, and characters who are, with a few notable exceptions, dull as ditchwater. In its second season in particular I’ve been extremely frustrated by where the show has placed its storytelling emphasis, and the political blindspots that has ended up revealing.

(9) MONSTER SMASH. From February 2017 – Hugo Finalist Emil Ferris, on how My Favorite Thing Is Monsters came to be in “The Bite That Changed My Life”. Following this intro, it’s all done as a comic.

Writer and illustrator Emil Ferris has always had an affinity for stories about outsiders. Growing up in Uptown in the 1960s, Ferris was part of a diverse community of people who she says “operated outside the system.” Her neighbors included black migrants who traveled north during the Great Migration, white Appalachian miners living in abject poverty, and thousands of Native Americans who left their reservations in the wake of relocation programs. “There was an incredible beauty,” says Ferris. “These were people who suffered, but were strong. They were survivors.”

One reason Ferris was drawn to those on the fringe was because she herself was a loner. Born with scoliosis, Ferris was immobile for much of her childhood. “I was also severely hunchbacked, which is why I loved monsters,” says Ferris, who also characterizes her younger self as very wolf-like. “I had this vision of this little wolf girl, enfolding in the arms of this tall handsome cut-apart Frankenstein character.”

Ferris uses those early experiences as a loose backdrop in her stunning debut graphic novel, My Favorite Thing is Monsters.

(10) ON EXHIBIT NOW. Print Magazine covers an “American Illustration and Comic Art Exhibit”, running from April 7 til May 20.

In the early part of the twentieth century, illustration came into its own. Simultaneously over on the newsprint pages of national newspapers, comic strips did as well. These were joined later in the decade by art for both pulp magazines and comic books. This golden age of editorial illustration and cartooning is currently on display in the exhibit “American Illustration & Comic Art” at the Sordoni Gallery, Wilkes University in Wilkes Barre, PA.

The Gallery’s website describes the exhibit: “Selections from the Sordoni Collection of American Illustration & Comic Art”.

The exhibition features 135 original artworks by more than 100 artists—N.C. Wyeth, Maxfield Parrish, Frank Schoonover, Norman Rockwell, J.C. Leyendecker, George Herriman, Harold Foster, Jack Cole, Milton Caniff, Norman Saunders, Harold Gray, Al Hirschfeld, Al Capp, Walt Kelly, Charles Schulz and many others. Wilkes Barre native son Ham Fisher, creator of Joe Palooka, is represented as well. While focusing on the golden age of illustration, contemporary artists, such as Anita Kunz, C.F. Payne, Bob Eckstein, Thomas J. Fluharty, Mike  Lynch and Paul Davis, also have their place in the exhibit.

In that century it would have been rare to see work for the slicks (the upper tire of magazine publishing, such as Life, The Saturday Evening Post and The New Yorker) to be seen as equal to that printed on newsprint (the pulps and comics). There once was a pecking order within editorial illustration (slicks over pulps) and in cartooning (single panel over strips, strips over comic books), but times have changed. This all-inclusive exhibition includes work that appeared on magazine covers and interiors, advertisements, book jackets, album covers, daily and Sunday comic strips, cartoons, movie cels and comic books.

It all comes from the private collection of Andrew Sordoni III, whose mother helped found the gallery in 1973. The gallery was renovated last year and now sports 7,000 square feet of exhibition space. The show is up through May 20 and admission is free. It is accompanied by a 185-page catalog with myriad essays, including those by comic book artist and filmmaker Jim Steranko, David Saunders (Norman’s son) and New Yorker and National Lampoon cartoonist Sam Gross.

(11) JUSTICE LEAGUE PERFECTED. Just in case you wondered – “How Justice League Should Have Ended.”

[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, and Danny Sichel for some of these stories, Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

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36 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 4/9/18 The Opera Of The Menacing Phantom Tollbooth

  1. The third little pixel had scrolled beef.

    In re 8, it is my firm belief that we are all entitled to not be as enthusiastic about Z as the next person, and it’s natural to be baffled when someone doesn’t like Y as much as we do. But, we must remember that tastes do differ and are not universal.

  2. Fourth?

    I wish I had something to say other than The Simpsons not only jumped the shark, it shot the shark multiple times.

    ETA – yay Fourth!

  3. Fifth, first of that name, crowned this day by the grace of…

    @Ingvar – But surely every right-thinking person must like what I like; otherwise either they or I are not thinking right, and to think I think unright is unthinkable, therefore the right-thinkers can’t be what they are, and must be what they are not. Right?

  4. True fifth!


    This is exacerbated when it becomes clear that Eros is traveling under its own power on a direct path to Earth, which naturally shifts our sympathies and priorities. This also serves to further delegitimize Dawes and Johnson, who are in a position to aid Earth but haggle over it in ways that, in theory, we should be sympathetic towards—since, again, they are technically at war with Earth.

    Must have missed that bit, was it before or after Johnston steals the Navoo and tries to use it to destroy Eros? Or helped target it for Earth’s missile strike? Both failed admittedly, but he tried. I don’t remember Dawes getting involved until after Eros was dealt with.

  5. 5) I think she could rock it. Sadly, I won’t be able to photograph it if she wears it.

    I’m behind on watching the Expanse as opposed to reading the novels, but not only do different people like different things, the visual modes of television and movies make interpretations and emphasis a different prospect than what comes across on the page, even if its a line by line adaptation (and the Expanse is not)

  6. There is nothing wrong with your pixel scroll. Do not attempt to adjust the content… We will control the paragraphing. We will control the kerning.

    (Memories now of an AZAPA one-shot by Bruce Balfour and Steve Tymon, where Our Heroes enter a chamber with a TV on a table, which comes on by itself and intones the Outer Limits intro, concluding. “We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical. We can even push the TV set off the table.” The set crashes to the floor. Our Heroes try another room.)

  7. @ O. Westin:

    Hm, yes, how could I forget? Strawberries and salty liquorice for EVERYONE (and delighted noises are mandatory)!

    @ Kip W:

    I still like “keming” as a term for what happens to over-kerned text.

  8. (9) I’m reading My Favorite Thing is Monsters right now. I don’t know if anything will be able to knock Monstress out of the top spot for me, but so far Ferris’ book is the closest that’s come to happening.

    (7) That essay is just stunning.

  9. Ingvar:
    I sometimes think another term for “keming” (which I also like) might just be “helvetica,” which practically begs for it. I had a devil of a time communicating with my advisor, and it turns out I was seeing r n as an m. I therefore theorize that a minimal level of security could be achieved by simply choosing an email address or whatever with lots of those letters in it. “[email protected]

    Makes me wonder if anyone’s spoofing Donald Trurnp that way.

  10. @ Kip W:

    For my sins (or, rather, excellently weird life choices) I am currently reading a lot of blackletter, with the adherence to standard spelling as you would expect from something in blackletter. I seem to mostly have problem s with the “m” / “in” distinction (and sometimes f/s and occasionally ij/y, and weirdly k/t in SOME cases).

  11. If I want to buy someone an epub (e.g. from Kobo) as a gift, how do I do it? I want THEM to have all legal rights & permissions. What about from Amazon?

    Here in 9502 all these problems have been solved, of course. Either there’s no copyright, or we’re arguing about who holds the copyright to your brain.

  12. @ Doctor Science. In Amazon, under the buy with 1-Click button, there is another button, Give as a Gift. You need to know that person’s email with Amazon.

  13. I seem to mostly have problem s with the “m” / “in” distinction (and sometimes f/s and occasionally ij/y, and weirdly k/t in SOME cases).

    I ran into some 18th-century German church registers where “ij” was used for “y”. Or the “y” had both top ends dotted. (I spent the entire first year of German in high school with a textbook that used fraktur (AKA blackletter). It does stick with you, and, oddly, gave me a slight advantage in the fourth year, at a different school, when only the two of us in the fourth year had met fraktur before.)

  14. @ P J Evans:

    Certainly the “ÿ” that appears in Latin-1 would’ve been better described as “ij-ligature” than “y-with-umlaut”, as that’s actually what it’s supposed to have been.

    I suspect the text I’m spending quality time with, occasionally, is printed from either wood blocks or whole-page casts, rather than individually typeset letters, as the lines are FAR from straight, and line spacing is pretty much all over the place. It also occasionally uses ~ as a “this letter is actually repeated, but…” indicator.

  15. Ingvar: I’m doing a stained-glass window in Photoshop, with a quote from JS Bach (The first line or so of “Es ist genug…”). I lettered it all by hand, first in pencil, then scanned that and did it all with a tablet and pen, replacing the original letter by letter. Space was tight, and it’s damn hard to keep all those serifs from joining up. I used Old English instead of Fraktur because I wanted it to at least be comprehensible to my American audience.

    (The window is the final project for my music theory class. It’s based on the Berg violin concerto.)

  16. At work we have a variety of documents we are required to have signed off as “read and understood”, everything from the code of conduct to the procedures for doing our job.

    They can be incredibly dry. The format is weird, and in some cases while it makes the process more explicitly laid out (The way *correctly* used legalese covers every base in a contract, even the ones almost nobody would think of, and erases loopholes), could use a “layman’s version” summary.

    The only one I absolutely could not actually read in full was the one where the chosen font involved the worst kerning I have had the displeasure of seeing in a document. Just opening it felt like a smack in the eyes.

    And of course this is in a document system where even changing the font of a document after it’s approved and released (or fixing typos) requires going through the same complete “checked by 2 departments and 3 people” change process we need when we actually revise a document, so I can’t just tweak it.

    Thankfully it’s for an aspect of the rules and laws I am never going to violate …

    (We have to adhere to FDA and Health Canada and even sometimes EU health code standards.)

  17. Because Twitter is a butt I don’t know where I got this list of most-requested books for incarcerated people, to be sent to prisons by NYC Books Through Bars. The list includes:

    A Wizard of Earthsea
    The Dispossessed
    The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms
    The Killing Moon
    The Handmaid’s Tale
    Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet Book 1

    — which is almost all the fiction on the list. They’re asking for 100 copies of each, and I’m betting the SFF community can fill their donation box right up.

  18. @ Kip W.

    (The window is the final project for my music theory class. It’s based on the Berg violin concerto.)

    Did you know that Lulu (Alban Berg’s opera) makes an appearance in Walter Jon Williams’ Aristoi?

  19. Meredith moment: Hunger Makes The Wolf by Alex Wells celebrates its Kitschies win with a flash sale. £1.99 UK, not sure if it applies elsewhere.

    It’s a bit raw around the edges but I enjoyed it enough to buy the sequel.

    Here in 9196 the sale has sadly ended.

  20. Kerning — I was at the first day of my proofreading job, and trying to pretend I knew more about publishing than I actually did. My supervisor hands me a page to proofread and says, “Don’t worry about kerning until later.” I don’t know what kerning means. But — I have a dictionary to look up proper spelling, and so I look up “kern.” The dictionary says, “An Irish lord.” And I think, “I’m in big trouble.”

  21. On an unrelated note, for anyone who might be interested (and because this seems like the place most I’m most likely to find anyone who might be interested), I have committed an ISFDB:

    I recently rediscovered a short-lived magazine from my childhood — Weird Worlds, published for eight issues by the Scholastic Book Club here in the US between 1978 & 1981, edited by R.L. Stine (in his pre-Goosebumps days). I ended up buying used copies of all eight issues, mostly from Amazon sellers, and when I saw it didn’t have an ISFDB record, I decided to rectify that.

    Was fun to go back and reread the issues I used to own, or read for the first time the ones that were new to me. Most issues had more than their share of articles about pseudoscience — psychic powers, UFO encounters, etc. — but they also reprinted a fair amount of decent fiction, mostly from the 50s — stories by Bradbury, Asimov, Finley, etc. And one issue had Lovecraft’s The Outsider, which I’m pretty sure was my first encounter with the man.

    Also interesting was to read the articles about forthcoming or recently-released SFF movies, including The Black Hole, Dragonslayer, and, of course, Star Wars — one article was written before the release of Empire Strikes Back and so included a lot of speculation about the future course of the series that was … not entirely accurate. But it did at one point say that George Lucas had stated that Star Wars wasn’t the first movie in the series, and that he had a twelve-part story mapped out …

    A link, for anyone who’s interested:


  22. @ Peer. The most shocking thing for me – Simpsons is still running? Who knew?

  23. Paul Weimer notes I’m behind on watching the Expanse as opposed to reading the novels, but not only do different people like different things, the visual modes of television and movies make interpretations and emphasis a different prospect than what comes across on the page, even if its a line by line adaptation (and the Expanse is not)

    My brain injury left me with the inability to read novels or watch anything longer 5han a half hour (any narrative gets lost any more distant than that time frame and ceases to exist in my memory) so I’m using exclusively audiobooks now as they’re fine in that sense.

    I watched the first EP of Expanse when it came out several before my brain injury and I remember not being impressed with it as I loved 5he novels and shorter stories. In general, I prefer series that are not based on works that I’ve read such as Firefly.

    Viewing right now: second season of Pinky and The Brain and Justice League Action, both perfect for short attention spans.

  24. The most shocking thing for me – Simpsons is still running? Who knew?

    You mean, besides the several million people who watch it each week?

    Later this month, the Simpsons will take over the record for the most episodes ever for a scripted show (passing Gunsmoke), so someone is watching it. (I know that I haven’t missed an episode for years.)

  25. Rob Thornton: I did not know that, thanks. He didn’t finish “Lulu” because he became obsessed with the violin concerto, and died not long after finishing it.

    bookworm1398: I watched the Simpsons every week until we cut out cable. I agreed with those who say the series never jumped the shark. Every time I watched it, I got a good laugh. It is with trepidation that I go to look into what they’ve done now. I’d heard they got pushback on Apu years ago, and thought he was being dropped, but then he would still appear on the show.

  26. Peer: A lot of backlash against the Simpsons today, re:Apu.

    Holy shit, how did such a clueless reaction manage to make it into a produced episode? Did they only run it by white men for approval? 🙁

  27. Today’s Mega Meredith Moment:

    Orbit has 8 novels on sale for 24 hours for 99c, at all the usual suspects (not sure about UK).

    Behind the Throne by K.B. Wagers
    Forsaken Skies by D. Nolan Clark
    Snakewood by Adrian Selby
    Chasing Embers by James Bennett
    The Rule of Luck by Catherine Cerveny
    Bite by K.S. Merbeth
    Hope and Red by Jon Skovron
    The Ship by Antonia Honeywell

    I loved both Behind the Throne by K.B. Wagers
    Forsaken Skies — both are epic space adventures and fast, enjoyable reads.

    (The Ship is one of the YA books which I feel valorizes selfishness and stupidity.)

  28. 5) Wow, that jumpsuit is gorgeous! I would totally wear something like that to a con if I could find a knockoff version in my price range.

    @ JJ: They appear to have fallen into the trap best illustrated by Neil Gaiman’s advice to replace “political correctness” with “treating people with respect”. And in so doing, they’ve marked out their target audience: privileged people who don’t have a problem with racial-slur stereotypes. Which, it must be said, included a lot more people 25 years ago than it does now.

  29. the Simpsons will take over the record for the most episodes ever for a scripted show (passing Gunsmoke)

    That’d seem to be American shows excluding soap operas — remove those constraints and quite a lot of shows have more.


    Even among cartoons, there’s Sazae-san, with about four times as many episodes even if you don’t count the three installments per half-hour separately, and Doraemon, which has more episodes than The Simpsons in two of its three separate runs.

    Posted from the year 5752, where the number of Sazae-san episodes produced has become just plain scary.

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