Pixel Scroll 6/18/16 By The Pixels At My Thumbs, Something Scrolling This Way Comes

(1) MORE THAN THE SUM OF ITS PARTS. Fantasy-Faction ponders “Character Group Dynamics”.

One of the most important tasks of a writer is to get the reader to engage with their characters, but almost as important is how your characters engage with each other. Their interactions are what make up the narrative and drama of the book, bringing the story to life. How can your hero show off his quick wit if there’s no one around to impress, how can your villain be cruel if there’s nobody to terrorise? It’s only in concert with each other that the characters really start to shine.

There are a number of memorable partnerships and groupings throughout fiction, think of Sherlock and Watson, Han and Chewie, or the entire Fellowship of the ring. The success of these characters isn’t just down to the individual protagonists, but also to how well they work together, the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.

(2) NOT FLORIDA MAN, BUT IN FLORIDA. Access Atlanta has the story: “Man traveled country stealing Star Wars Legos, police say”.

The Force was not strong with this one.

A man suspected of stealing thousands of dollars worth of Star Wars Lego items from Toys R’ Us stores across the country was arrested Tuesday in Florida.

Shannon Kirkley, 35, of New Jersey, hid 12 Star Wars Lego items valued at $300 in a cardboard treasure chest, paid for the toy chest box and walked out of a Toys R Us in Wesley Chapel, Florida, the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office said.

(3) KRAMMPSTEIN TONIGHT. I’m sitting here finishing the scroll while across town people are attending an LA performance by Krammpstein, the Krampus-themed band.


(4) SPY ARTIST EXHIBIT. “Spy guy: Dumbo exhibit shows range of Mad magazine cartoonist”, covered in the Brooklyn Paper.

The cartoonist behind the iconic Mad magazine comic strip “Spy vs. Spy” will unveil the full range of his illustrations, paintings, and graphic novels at the Scott Eder Gallery in Dumbo on June 16. Illustrator Peter Kuper says that the roughly 60 pieces of artwork in the “Outside the Box” exhibit represent the “cream of the crop” of his work.

“It’s sort of a walk through my brain and its many different areas,” Kuper said. “This is probably the biggest and broadest exhibition I’ve had since around 2001 — it’s definitely the biggest show I’ve had for sale.”

The retrospective will feature 26 years of Kuper’s work, including his vibrant cover illustrations for national magazine such as Newsweek and Time, the “Spy vs. Spy” comics he has drawn since 1997, and work from his dozens of graphic novels. The founder of the comics anthology “World War 3 Illustrated” will also include some “valued treasures” that have been little-seen, including three personal sketchbooks he filled with while traveling in 2010–2012, and some autobiographical work he said he should be “embarrassed to show.”

Art gallery exhibit for the Spy-Vs-Spy cartoonist is open through August 19th.

Has he been doing it since 1997? Time flies. I always identified “Spy vs. Spy” with Sergio Aragones, whose professional cartoonists guild rented the LASFS clubhouse for meetings decades ago.

(5) RACISM. Charles Stross calls it “The unspeakable truth”. (Warning for n-word.)

British people don’t like to talk about racism, much less admit that their fellow Brits—much less they, themselves—are racists. It’s far too easy to point to other bad examples in foreign lands, from Jim Crow and segregation in the Deep South to men with Hugo Boss uniforms and gas chambers in the Nazi Reich. But racism is a thing in the UK, with deep-running currents that occasionally bubble to the surface. And right now we’re getting a most unwelcome but richly deserved reminder of what it’s about.

(Text below the cut contains strong language)

British racism is subtly different from American racism, because there is no long-standing internal sub-population who are visually distinctive and the target for racist hatred. One can point to the traditional English hatred and contempt for the Irish—it’s still within living memory that boarding houses proudly displayed signs saying “no dogs or Irishmen”—but people of Irish descent aren’t visually identifiable at a distance, unlike African-Americans. So the most visible expression of racism wears a different name: the primary epithet isn’t “nigger” but “immigrant”.

(6) WALDO OBIT. Janet Waldo, the voice of Judy Jetson, died June 12 at home in Encino, California. She was 96. Her other credits included Josie in Josie and the Pussycats and Fred Flintstone’s mother-in-law in The Flintstones.

(7) BLUMBERG OBIT. The New York Times reports “Rhoda Blumberg, Whose Children’s Books Brought History to Life, Dies at 98”.

…She showed little interest in reading until she was 10, when she was beguiled by L. Frank Baum’s Oz novels….

Ms. Blumberg began writing books in the 1960s, including “First Travel Guide to the Moon” and “First Travel Guide to the Bottom of the Sea.” By the early 1970s, when her youngest child started college, she had pivoted to history, and then went on to see more than 25 books published.

See Goodreads for more about The First Travel Guide to the Moon: What to Pack, How to Go, What to See When You Get There.


  • June 18, 1983 — Sally Ride became the first American woman to fly in space when the space shuttle Challenger launched on mission STS-7 from Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The STS-7 crew consisted of astronauts Robert Crippen, commander, the first two-time space shuttle astronaut; Frederick H. Hauck, pilot; and three mission specialists — Ride, John M. Fabian and Norman E. Thagard.

(9) DOCTOR WHO UP FOR FIRST EMMY. Variety has its eye on “2016 Emmy Ballot Oddities: ‘Doctor Who’ in the Running, ‘Game of Thrones’ Finale Goes Down to the Wire”.

BBC America’s “Doctor Who” has been submitted for Emmy consideration for the first time ever. Now that the American cabler has come aboard as a co-producer, the venerable Brit series is finally eligible for consideration. Although it was not submitted as a drama series, star Peter Capaldi is on the lead actor ballot, showrunner Steven Moffat and director Rachel Talalay are on the writing and directing ballots for the episode “Heaven Sent” and the series is a possible nominee for costumes, production design, prosthetic makeup, and visual effects.

(10) GARRISON KEILLOR AUTOGRAPHED A ROTSLER BADGE. The New York Times ran a profile “The Garrison Keillor You Never Knew”. Andrew Porter left this comment:

I have a name badge, created by the brilliant and alas late artist William Rotsler, who used rub-off lettering to create a badge that states, “Honorary Important Person,” with the words below, “Verified by” and a blank line. When I was at an American Booksellers Association convention in the 1980s, Keillor, there promoting a book, walked by and I impulsively had him sign it.

Why do I suspect that the power of this unique artifact grows greater the nearer I am to the Twin Cities?

(11) RIPPLES IN A SPACETIME POND. Astronomers are doing the wave. “’New era of astronomy’: Gravitational waves detected for 2nd time, backing up theory of relativity”.

Scientists from the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) have announced they have detected gravitational waves from a pair of colliding black holes for the second time, thus backing up the theory of general relativity.

The international collaboration LIGO, with nearly 1,000 scientists working together, made the breakthrough announcement during a media conference taking place simultaneously in Lomonosov Moscow State University (MSU) and the San Diego Astronomy Association on Wednesday.

Detecting the gravitational waves from the merger of two black holes by LIGO’s detectors for the second time is highly important,” said MSU physics department professor Valery Mitrofanov, adding that this underpins gravitational wave astronomy.


(12) MAKING FRANK R. PAUL COVERS REAL. Bloomberg bids you “Welcome to Larry Page’s Secret Flying Car Factories”.

Three years ago, Silicon Valley developed a fleeting infatuation with a startup called Zee.Aero. The company had set up shop right next to Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., which was curious, because Google tightly controls most of the land in the area. Then a reporter spotted patent filings showing Zee.Aero was working on a small, all-electric plane that could take off and land vertically—a flying car.

In the handful of news articles that ensued, all the startup would say was that it wasn’t affiliated with Google or any other technology company. Then it stopped answering media inquiries altogether. Employees say they were even given wallet-size cards with instructions on how to deflect questions from reporters. After that, the only information that trickled out came from amateur pilots, who occasionally posted pictures of a strange-looking plane taking off from a nearby airport.

Turns out, Zee.Aero doesn’t belong to Google or its holding company, Alphabet. It belongs to Larry Page, Google’s co-founder. Page has personally funded Zee.Aero since its launch in 2010 while demanding that his involvement stay hidden from the public, according to 10 people with intimate knowledge of the company. Zee.Aero, however, is just one part of Page’s plan to usher in an age of personalized air travel, free from gridlocked streets and the cramped indignities of modern flight. Like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, Page is using his personal fortune to build the future of his childhood dreams.

(13) QUESTION AUTHORITIES. Exemplore, assuming the government has something to disclose, lists “5 Possible Downsides to the UFO Disclosure”.

1. Cultural shock and disruption of the social order

Although most people have if not a conviction, at least a sneaking suspicion that there is more to the story than weather balloons or military tests, disclosing the extraterrestrial reality will still result in a great shock.

Some will have their most cherished beliefs shattered in a matter of seconds, others will feel frightened and even terrified in the most primal, overwhelming way.

The shock will be exacerbated by the realization of the UFO cover-up. People will have to come to terms with the fact that they’ve been lied to for 60+ years, if we consider the Roswell crash to be the triggering event that created the need for the cover-up.

Essential information that was meant for the entire human race was concealed for far too long. In all likelihood, there will be a public outcry against the government(s). The authorities will try to frame the disclosure in their favor, posing as the caretakers of humanity, but it will take a long time before people can trust them again.

(14) SNAPS FROM DENVER. If you’ve been looking for your daily ration of cosplay photos, ScienceFiction.com is happy to tip you this set from the Denver Comic Con.

I had never given much thought to the risks Wolverine runs when taking a selfie….

denver-comiccon-cosplay-20 COMP

[Thanks to David K.M. Klaus, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rev. Bob.]

38 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 6/18/16 By The Pixels At My Thumbs, Something Scrolling This Way Comes

  1. SPY VS. SPY was never a Sergio Aragones strip — I’m sure he drew the characters at some point, because he’s drawn everyone and everything, but he never did the strip itself.

    It was created by Cuban refugee Antonio Prohías. After his retirement, it was done by a few others — Duck Edwing & Bob Clarke, George Woodbridge, Dave Manak — before Peter Kuper took over.

  2. (4) Shows how far behind I am… I only have a vague memory of Prohias retiring, but certainly not any names of who drew it afterwards, never mind that so many did. I vaguely remember not liking it as much.

    (9) Interesting, but doesn’t stand a chance except maybe makeup and costume.

    Aw, yiss… FIFTH!

  3. I think that a real opening of UFO-related archives would be moderately disruptive, not because there are any alien encounters in them but because of how much various secrecy-obsessed agencies have created and spread UFO stories as cover for whatever they happened to be up to. James Oberg has written some about this (in profound anger), and Mark Pilkington’s book and documentary Mirage Men make a decent case for this being a very widespread thing of longstanding.

    This can all sound pretty trivial until you reflect on common symptoms experienced by schizophrenics and others. The idea of officials encouraging mental illness because of their own security lapses isn’t very cute.

  4. Randomly checking in, well into the wee hours, as we grind through to get the New! Improved! version of my author website live. There’s this minor deadline involved…my website designers are about to take off for an African safari…

  5. 12. How do you define a flying car, specifically why do helicopters not qualify?

  6. Re 10)

    Of course, Mike, the power of that badge might wane once Keillor steps down from A Prairie Home Companion (which is in a couple of weeks, although he is doing a version of the show at the MN State Fair this year under another name)

  7. bookworm1398: because a helicopter can’t be driven on a road after it lands? (Connecting the engine on top to wheels underneath would be non-trivial.) Or because a helicopter is so hard to fly that your average driver can’t come near doing it? (All the flying-car proposals I’ve seen convert between a car and a small airplane, which has some of the same movement concepts.)

  8. (12) MAKING FRANK R. PAUL COVERS REAL. The distinction between Page and Musk here is instructive. “Flying cars” are, on reflection, stupid. The classic vision constitutes a terrible traffic control problem and encourages settlement patterns that are environmentally disastrous. (Cities+Wilderness are best for both carbon efficiency and biodiversity. Sprawl is terrible for both.)

    BUT. Flying cars as toy of the 0.1% are more viable on both counts. So this is probably Page working to distribute the future unevenly. Contrast that with Musk. SpaceX is arguably another rich man’s toy. But he is actively trying to get affordable electric cars with a supporting infrastructure in the public’s hands plus mass access to improved battery storage

  9. (13) QUESTION AUTHORITIES. I’m glad Bruce had something typically intelligent and new to say here, because criminy, didn’t we just deal with this nonsense within the last couple dozen scrolls? That earlier item, admittedly, was about extra-terrestrial radio signals or other arm’s-length evidence. This version raises the stakes by putting Aliens Among Us (at least occasionally). But nobody is going to suffer the destruction of everything they’ve always believed in an instant, and large swathes of the public are already convinced the government has lied to them about any number of things including UFOs. Nerds are such children sometimes.

  10. Jim Henley

    I always wanted to get some bumper-sticker grade question marks (of different sizes and colors) so I could put them after “QUESTION AUTHORITY” on other people’s stickers. QUESTION AUTHORITY? (ME??)

    Then again, I thought it would be fun to put an S over the otherwise empty heart that replaces the second V in “VIRGINIA IS FOR LOVERS” (or maybe an N).

    Cities and wilderness. Sprawl. Yeah, I do a lot of driving, and I remember the first time I noticed that most of lower Michigan along the roads felt like an eternal small town that never congealed to a community or thinned to plain countryside. I noticed in China, as we’d get near an airport, I could look out the plane window and see these high-rise apartment buildings in little clusters, out in the fields. I suppose workers could potentially work right where they were, and I’d expect the buildings also had some sort of stores for the inhabitants as well.

    I like the notion of those urban-looking buildings in the middle of the agriculture, doing the work of what would be a bunch of houses taking up arable land. I wouldn’t mind knowing a little more about them than I do (which is approximately squat, plus whatever I learned from looking at the pictures I took).

  11. I always wanted to change “No Fat Chicks” to “No Chicks”

    ETA Happy Father’s Day!

  12. I finally worked out how to add royalty free music to my timelapses, so here’s last night’s London cloudscape.

  13. I noticed in China, as we’d get near an airport, I could look out the plane window and see these high-rise apartment buildings in little clusters, out in the fields. I suppose workers could potentially work right where they were, and I’d expect the buildings also had some sort of stores for the inhabitants as well.

    Or it could be “build it and they will come” wishful thinking on China’s part.

  14. 2016 Neffy Awards Nominations

    Nominations for the 2016 National Fantasy Fan Federation Speculative Fiction Awards are now complete. The Neffy Ballot will appear in the August issue of The National Fantasy Fan.

    In the end we received nominations for Best Novel, Best Paper Series Novel, Best Editor, Best TV Show, Best Comic, and Best Film. A much wider range of possible awards were listed as available.

    The 2016 Neffy Award nominations are

    Best Novel
    Somewhither—John C. Wright
    Shadows of Self—Brandon Sanderson

    Best Paper Series Novel
    163X—Eric Flint
    Schooled in Magic—Chris Nuttall
    Safehold—David Weber

    Best Editor
    Peter Buch (Elsewhen)
    Sheila Gilbert (DAW)
    Toni Weisskopf (Baen)

    Best TV Show
    Sense8 Season 1 Jonathan Strange miniseries
    The Expanse
    Jessica Jones

    Best Comic
    Astro City
    Girl Genius

    Best Film
    What We Do in Shadows
    The Martian
    The Lobster
    Ex Machina

  15. Darren Garrison, interesting article. The scenes don’t appear to be the same as what I saw, but I don’t know that that means anything.

  16. Somewhere just shy of 4am, a dedicated crew consisting of me and my web designers hit the “go live” button on the revamped Alpennia.com website. I am goofily happy with how it turned out. (The old website, for those who never found occasion to visit it, was extremely bare-bones.)

    Fortunately, my web designers have a guest bedroom so I didn’t need to attempt the hour drive home after that.

  17. [12] The nearest thing to a Frank Paul cover is watching an A380 bank in over SW London, on finals to LHR. So big, so much wing.

  18. Kurt Busiek: SPY VS. SPY was never a Sergio Aragones strip — I’m sure he drew the characters at some point, because he’s drawn everyone and everything, but he never did the strip itself.

    It was created by Cuban refugee Antonio Prohías

    YIPES! Thanks for the correction….

  19. I’m sure I’ve seen stick-on legs to change a bumper fish’s philosophy (the only fish I had said CAT, and had legs, ears, and a tail).

    There’s always “Question authority and the authorities will question you”, ever more true… although I guess they just listen in nowadays.

    Yeltchin: Very sad, and what an odd way to go. I hope it was quick.

  20. @Daviod Goldfarb – yes, I know, and two silvery, magnetic “L’s”, when properly applied to the trunk of an individuals automobile, will turn a Jesus fish into one….

    @Lurkertype – been looking for ages and have never seen them; just have’t gotten around to making/selling them myself yet

  21. If people want to piss Philip K. Dick off by messing with people’s fish decals that’s up to them. I always liked the idea of the “screw” stickers which would go over the graphic in bumper stickers like “I [HEART] MY GERMAN SHEPHERD.” But then, I also liked the idea of sneaking things like tripe and ox brains into people’s shopping carts when they weren’t looking. It’s a miracle that, as big a jerk as I can be sometimes, I never actually did any of these things.

  22. Jim Henley, the screw icons are pretty good, though sometimes tricky to render in silhouette so they read. I like ‘suit’ icons. Substituting “spade” or “club” in your sticker can also work.

  23. @ Kip @

    “I (heart) my dog” and “I (spade) my dog” actually work out to more or less the same thing for most people, even 🙂

  24. steve davidson on June 20, 2016 at 2:13 am said:

    @Daviod Goldfarb – yes, I know, and two silvery, magnetic “L’s”, when properly applied to the trunk of an individuals automobile, will turn a Jesus fish into one….

    Why you…you hate criminal, you!

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