Pixel Scroll 7/9/20 Too Strange To Win A Hugo, The Unexploded Book

(1) US IN FLUX. The latest story from the Center for Science and the Imagination’s Us in Flux project launched today: “The Wandering City,” a story about temporal anomalies, public spaces, and a new global consciousness by Usman T. Malik.

On Monday, 7/13 at 4pm Eastern, they’ll have another virtual event on Zoom with Usman in conversation with James Graham, an architect and historian and director of the great series Columbia Books on Architecture and the City. Register at the link.

(2) AURORA AWARDS VOTING. Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association members can now vote online for the Aurora Awards through July 25. You must be logged in with an active CSFFA membership in order to access the voting page.

In addition, our Nominee’s Page is now live

This page provides informatin on this year’s Aurora nominees.  

The Voter Package Downloads also give you access to many of the works up for the awards this year.  Like with voting, you need to be logged in to the website with an active membership to access these downloads.

(3) OH CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN. [Item by Olav Rokne.]  The Manchester Guardian newspaper pays tribute to Star Trek icon Sir Patrick Stewart on the advent of his 80th birthday today, printing reminiscences from numerous of Stewart’s friends, colleagues, and co-stars. It’s a delightful piece to read,and paints a picture of someone who is not only iconic, but warmly human. My favorite bit is from his X-Men co-star Ian McKellen: “He’s long forgiven me my advice not to risk a solid career on the British stage by falling for an uncertain future in Star Trek.” “‘He’s so strapping and virile’: Patrick Stewart at 80 – by Shatner, McKellen, Tennant and more”  

‘I said: “Wear silk stockings to avoid chafing”’

William Shatner

He’s a love and he is an intellectual in an athlete’s body. We had a long horse scene to do together once, and I recommended him wearing women’s silk stockings to avoid chafing and he nodded his head as a thank you. When he came out of his dressing room, he was wearing the lace stockings outside of his costume. “No, no, Patrick, underneath your costume!” We laughed, as we ordinarily did. I didn’t know he was so old.

(4) BRIDGE PLAYER. In his own way. “Hugo Fan Writer: Why you should vote for…Paul Weimer” – fifth entry in Camestros Felapton’s series.

… It can’t be true that Paul Weimer knows everybody in science fiction but if we were to draw a huge network graph, I think Paul would be at on of those nodes that helps joins multiple groups together. A regular columnist and pod-casting panellist in multiple venues, Paul is an insightful observer of the wider landscape of science fiction and fantasy. Paul is a bridge that links communities and people (exemplified by his revival of the popular mind-meld posts (http://www.nerds-feather.com/2019/09/the-hugo-initiative-mind-meld-favorite.html ).

(5) CHILLING OUT. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina to end with Part 4″ reports Entertainment Weekly.

…On Wednesday, Netflix announced that Chilling Adventures of Sabrina will conclude with Part 4 of the series, meaning that the final eight episodes will be the series’ last. Those eight episodes are set to air in late 2020 and will explore what happens when The Eldritch Terrors descend upon Greendale. (Odds are it won’t be good.)

(6) FANTASTIKA (SWECON 2020) NEWS. Even a postponement til October won’t work, so this year’s con is off. Carolina Gómez Lagerlöf told Facebook followers:

We had a committee meeting last Monday. We decided not to have Fantastika in October. We do not know when the restriction about having a max attendance of 50 persons is going to end. What we are thinking of is organising a smaller event for local fans in October with some items that are web based. We are also planning to move Fantastika to spring.

(7) THE PEOPLE SPEAK. Inverse ran a poll: “The Best Netflix Science Fiction Show, According To 1,200 Inverse Readers”. The winner is not a surprise, but I thought #2 was.

In an effort to decide which Netflix sci-fi show is actually the best, Inverse asked our readers to fill out an online poll and over 1,200 of you did (1,234 to be exact). Here are the results, presented from worst (or least popular) to best science fiction series.

In first place —


We always knew it would end this way. Stranger Things is Netflix’s biggest original anything ever, and it gets bigger with each new season. With 377 votes, it’s also the winner of our poll by a huge margin. And with Stranger Things Season 4 delayed indefinitely due to Covid-19, there’s never been a better time to rewatch the entire series, right?

(8) RETIRING, BUT NOT FROM READING. Shelf Awareness’ news item “Nan A. Talese Retiring at End of Year” ends with this quote from a major genre figure:

Margaret Atwood commented: “No editor has seen so many changes and done so much in publishing as the legendary and much beloved Nan Talese, known fondly to some as ‘the Nanster.’ She first came into my life at Simon & Schuster, then dragged me behind her troika as she galloped through the wilderness to Houghton Mifflin–where she acquired The Handmaid’s Tale sight unseen, in a preemptive bid–and then sashayed over to Doubleday. ‘Nanster, what are you doing?’ I cried in dismay. ‘I like a challenge,’ she said calmly, adjusting her white beret and trademark pearls. I can’t imagine her actually ‘retiring.’ It’s a figure of speech. She will continue reading, and reading my work, I hope, and offering commentary: ‘None of these people are very nice.’ “

(9) THE WRONG FUTURE. Megan Garber contends “Americans Are Living in an Alternate History” in The Atlantic.

…So I was unprepared when, watching Sliding Doors again recently, I found myself absolutely wrecked by the viewing. The movie’s perky setup was agonizing; its cheerful toggling between Helen’s two fates felt painful to witness. Because when I watched the movie this time around—in the midst of a global pandemic that has killed more than 500,000 people, with no end in sight—I wasn’t just thinking of Helen’s divergent futures. I was thinking of everyone else’s. To be alive in America right now is to be acutely aware of the paths not taken—to live, essentially, in the Sliding Doors proposition, and in the paradigm of the alternate history. Our news is doubly haunted: by the horror of real loss, and by the shadow of what might have been.


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born July 9, 1926 – Murphy Anderson.  Drew for Planet and Amazing; after his World War II service, also Fantastic Adventures and Buck Rogers.  At DC he drew the AtomBatmanthe FlashGreen LanternHawkmanthe SpectreSuperman; inked Gil Kane, Carmine Infantino, Curt Swan; designed the costume of Adam Strange.  Drew Wonder Woman for the first cover of Ms.  Helped me with the L.A.con II Program Book (42nd Worldcon) when we gave the Forry Award to Julie Schwartz.  Seven Alleys; Inkpot; Kirby, Eisner, Sinott Halls of Fame.  (Died 2015) [JH]
  • Born July 9, 1927 – Robert Goldston.  Four novels for us, ten covers for Nebula (as by James Stark), like this (back cover by Ken McIntyre), and this and this (back covers by Atom).  Guggenheim Fellowship.  Histories, juveniles, many more.  (Died 1982) [JH]
  • Born July 9, 1927 Susan Cabot. Her final film appearance was in Roger Corman’s horror feature, The Wasp Woman in which she played the lead role.  She played Sybil Carrington in his earlier SF film, War of the Satellites. And in yet a third Corman film, The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent, she was Enger. (Died 1986.) (CE)
  • Born July 9, 1938 Brian Dennehy. He was Walter in the Cocoon films, and, though it’s more genre adjacent than actually genre, Lt. Leo McCarthy in F/X and F/X 2. He also voiced Django in Ratatouille. His very last performance was as Jerome Townsend in the “Sing, Sing, Sing” episode of Penny Dreadful: City of Angels series. (Died 2020.) (CE)
  • Born July 9, 1911 Mervyn Peake. Best remembered for the Gormenghast series which is delightfully weird. Most fans hold that there are but there novels in the series (Titus GroanGormenghast and Titus Alone) though there’s a novella, “Boy in Darkness”, that might be part of it. It has been adapted for radio three times and television once, and Gaiman is writing the script for a forthcoming series. (Died 1968.) (CE)
  • Born July 9, 1945 – Dean Koontz, 75.  A hundred novels, sixty shorter stories; nine pen names; translated into forty languages; 500 million copies sold.  Used to look like Gordon Liddy but tired of it and changed.  Warns that supposed appearances in fanzines after 1968 are suspect, the tale to be told in his memoirs.  His Website is here.  [JH]
  • Born July 9, 1946 – Lynne Aronson, 74.  Recruited by Phyllis Eisenstein.  Entered the NyCon 3 Masquerade (25th Worldcon) in a dress made of magazine rejection slips.  With husband Mark co-founded Windycon, chaired the first three, Guests of Honor at Windycon XV and XXX (some use Roman numerals, some don’t).  Organized, if that word may be used in a fanzine, the Noreascon Two One-Shot Chorale (38th Worldcon).  [JH]
  • Born July 9, 1957 – Todd Lockwood, 63.  A hundred eighty book and magazine covers, a hundred sixty interiors.  Here is a cover for Analog.  Here is Karavans.  Here is Resurgence.  Known too for Dungeons & Dragons.  Twelve Chesleys, one for Cerberus the Aardvark.  Artbook, Transitions.  [JH]
  • Born July 9, 1971 Scott Grimes, 49. He’s Lieutenant Gordon Malloy. on The Orville, a show I’ve not watched and so would very much like to hear what y’all think of it. He did show up once in the Trek verse, playing Eric in the “Evolution“ episode Of Star Trek: The Next Generation. (CE)
  • Born July 9, 1972 – Rachel Hartman, 48.  Three novels; a dozen cartoons in Strange Horizons.  Madrigal choir, the QuasiModals.  Having shown us the Goreddi religion she takes particular interest in its saints and their dogs.  Admits her chief failing as a Canadian is that she is not a hockey person, but she did interview Ngozi Ukazu.  [JH]
  • Born July 9, 1978 Linda Park, 42. Best-known for her portrayal of communications officer character Hoshi Sato on the Enterprise. Her first genre role was Hannah in Jurassic Park III, she was Renee Hansen in Spectres which Marina Sirtis is also in. She was in some called Star Trek: Captain Pike three years back as Captain Grace Shintal. It has to be another one of those fan video fictions. (CE)
  • Born July 9, 1995 Georgina Henley, 25. English actress, best remembered  for her portrayal of Lucy Pevensie throughout the Chronicles of Narnia film franchise from age ten to age fifteen.  She’s listed as having an unspecified role in an untitled Game of Throne prequel series but given the number of those proposed, this may or may not exist. (CE)

(11) LEFTOVER MATERIALS. “Pullman to Publish New Story Set in World of His Dark Materials”Publishers Weekly has the story.

In time for the 25th anniversary of his beloved fantasy series-starter The Golden Compass, British author Philip Pullman will publish a new standalone short story featuring Lyra Belacqua and her daemon Pan. Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers announced today the October 15 release of Serpentine in hardcover and ebook format, featuring illustrations by Tom Duxbury. Listening Library will simultaneously release an audiobook, narrated by Academy Award-winning actor Olivia Colman (The CrownThe Favourite).

(12) IF THERE WERE AIRBNB REVIEWS OF THESE. Riley Sager, in “Don’t Stay In These Famous Literary Haunted Houses!” on CrimeReads, has Airbnb news of haunted houses where you shouldn’t go on vacation, including the house where The Amityville Horror was set “how can you list a place on this site and NOT MENTION THERE’S A DEMON PIG!” and the Overlook Hotel, setting for The Shining (“I’m not sorry the place was destroyed #sorrynotsorry”.)

(13) ON YOUR MARK. Nate Hoffelder’s good work in registering www.cirsova.com and pointing it at Black Lives Matter caught someone’s attention:

Hmm, a search of the US Patent and Trademark Office shows no dead or live attempts to register Cirsova as a trademark. Maybe Nate could do that next?

(14) THEY’RE SO EASILY CONFUSED. Rich Lynch insists “No, I am not trying to buy the New York Mets!” That’s a look-alike making sports news: “Steve Cohen is reportedly back in the running to buy the Mets”. Sort of twins separated at the age of 60?

(15) ON THE SQUARE. The New York Times says the North American Scrabble Players Association has ”agreed to remove all slurs from their word list for Scrabble tournament play.” “Scrabble Tournaments Move Toward Banning Racial and Ethnic Slurs”.

Josephine Flowers became a ranked, competitive Scrabble player more than a dozen years ago, and to commemorate the moment, she inscribed her custom-built game board with one of her favorite sayings: “Never underestimate the power of words.”

The phrase serves as a constant reminder to her that, even when people say that the words formed on a Scrabble board are supposedly divorced of meaning, they can still inflict pain.

That is why Flowers, who is Black, and several other members of the North American Scrabble Players Association, have called on the organization to ban the use of an anti-Black racial slur, and as many as 225 other offensive terms, from its lexicon.

“You could be sitting there for a 45-minute game just looking at that word,” said Flowers, a mental health worker from West Memphis, Ark. “And if you don’t know the person who played it, then you wonder, was it put down as a slight, or was it the first word that came to their mind?”

Needless to say, the article does not include a list of these 226 terms.

(16) QUICKER FIX. “Cathedral’s spire will be restored to 19th Century design”.

The spire of Notre Dame cathedral, which was destroyed in a fire last April, will be restored according to the original Gothic design.

French President Emmanuel Macron announced the decision, putting an end to speculation that the spire would be rebuilt in a modern style.

Mr Macron had previously hinted he was in favour of a “contemporary gesture”.

However he has said he wants the restoration to be completed by 2024, when Paris is hosting the Olympics.

The Elysée said Mr Macron’s main concern was “not delaying the reconstruction and making it complicated – things had to be cleared up quickly”.

It added that the process of designing a modern spire, with an international competition for architects, could have caused unnecessary delays.

(17) RATS LIKE US. “To Come To The Rescue Or Not? Rats, Like People, Take Cues From Bystanders” says NPR.

Rats will enthusiastically work to free a rat caught in a trap — and it turns out that they are especially eager to be a good Samaritan when they’re in the company of other willing helpers.

But that urge to come to the rescue quickly disappears if a potential hero is surrounded by indifferent rat pals that make no move to assist the unfortunate, trapped rodent.

These findings, reported Wednesday in the journal Science Advances, suggest that rats are similar to people in that they’re usually eager to help, but bystanders can affect whether or not they’ll take action in an emergency.

“We are constantly looking at others to see their reactions. And this is not a human thing. This is a mammalian thing,” says Peggy Mason, a neurobiologist at the University of Chicago, adding that it’s something she watches play out in the daily news.

…”With the addition of more and more bystanders, the likelihood of helping goes progressively lower,” Mason explains. “It’s in every textbook. It’s a pillar of modern psychology.”

Until recently, though, the bystander effect had only been tested in humans. And Mason studies rats.

(18) KEEP COOL. “‘Don’t scream and be serious’ Japan theme park tells rollercoaster riders”

Many people might find it tricky keeping quiet through an entire roller coaster ride, but one Japanese theme park wants you to do that – and more.

Fuji-Q Highland near Tokyo re-opened last month after its virus shutdown.

It asked riders to avoid screaming when they go on its rollercoasters, to minimise spreading droplets, and instead “scream inside your heart”.

And to encourage people to play along, it’s getting riders to put on their most “serious face” for the ride photo.

They can share their photo online in the #KeepASeriousFace challenge, and those who do best will be given free day passes

…The no screaming rule – in addition to the mandatory use of masks – is meant to stop potential virus-carrying droplets from flying out of your mouth at 80mph.

Clearly, it’ll be impossible to enforce this ruling – and according to executives who spoke to the Wall Street Journal, violations will not actually be punished.

But it’s all part of measures being taken by theme parks to give customers the confidence to return after the shutdowns, and assure them their safety is being taken seriously.

[Thanks to Olav Rokne, Daniel Dern, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Michael J. “Orange Mike” Lowrey, John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, Chip Hitchcock, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, JJ, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]

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46 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 7/9/20 Too Strange To Win A Hugo, The Unexploded Book

  1. (10) My wife and I enjoy The Orville though your mileage may vary. Scott Grimes was in the later seasons of ER, so I recognized him from that when the Orville premiered.

  2. Scott Grimes, 49. He’s Lieutenant Gordon Malloy. on The Orville, a show I’ve not watched and so would very much like to hear what y’all think of it. He did show up once in the Trek verse, playing Eric in the “Evolution“ episode Of Star Trek: The Next Generation. (CE)

    I enjoyed the show a lot–whenever Scott Grimes was not in the scene.

    There was some thoughtful science fiction in that show (I say was because it’s moving from Fox to Hulu, which means I won’t see it anymore)…and then there was the stupid comedy, that mostly involved his character .

  3. (17) Rats are such a good model of human behavior, in so many ways.

    I’m exhausted. Frustrating day. Will not get done the review I had hoped to post for tomorrow.

  4. (13) ON YOUR MARK.

    I’m looking forward to that Sweet Summer Puppy Child being brought face-to-face with the hard reality of capitalism in the U.S., where use of a term or name does not automatically confer legal rights of ownership. But who knows, maybe they can find enough suckers to put up tens of thousands of dollars for the trademark applications and mark defense legal fees in the U.S., Canada, and EU.

  5. (13) The Lanham Act does not require that a trademark be registered (or have a pending application) to be valid, only to be “used by a person . . . to identify and distinguish his or her goods.” Using another’s trademark to disrupt or impair their business, or to bring it into disrepute, is actionable, and damages can be substantial. Not to put too fine a point on it, but appearing to encourage such activity is a good way to induce someone who may dislike you into involving you in potentially expensive litigation. I suspect your comments extend at least six words beyond what is prudent.

    (10) There is indeed a fourth Gormenghast book, “Titus Awakes,” written by Maeve Gilmore, Peake’s widow, but not published until decades after her death, scheduled to mark Peake’s centenary. It incorporates a fragmentary text written by Peake, and to some degree reflects his intentions to write further works in the series.

  6. (10) I only ever read one Dean Koontz short story, and enjoyed it – the Sturgeon-like “Ollie’s Hands” in one of the Infinity paperback anthologies edited by Robert Hoskins in the early 1970s – but have never become interested in anything he wrote since he became a famous novelist; not one title or plot description has appealed to me. (I searched his website, and “Ollie’s Hands” isn’t even mentioned there. I guess he doesn’t think much of the work he did in his 20s.)

  7. No, dumbass, it was a bit of a caution from a guy with experience in Lanham Act litigation about how to avoid getting yourself caught in the crossfire. Don’t bite the helping hand extended to you.

    Making a false representation to a federal agency is a federal felony, as folks ranging from Martha Stewart to Moscow Mike Flynn have learned in recent years. Laying claim to a trademark you don’t own requires you to make such false statements. Even if the federales don’t come after you, which is of course unlikely in a situation like this, what you’ve said already opens you up to lawsuits for the equivalent of contributory infringement. Maybe not particularly convincing ones, but furiously expensive ones. The last trademark case I worked on had a team of nine relatively junior attorneys racking up bills of roughly $30K per week just sorting through evidence. And that team worked for nearly eighteen months.

    Bottom line. The domain name stunt was vaguely amusing. But to make false filings with the Patent & Trademark Office is excruciatingly stupid, and encouraging others to do so in a context like this exposes you to ruinous legal costs, even though you might well prevail in paper.

  8. Also if you ‘cirsova’ three times after midnight the ghost of J Edgar Hoover (who founded the patent office*) will come and get you.

    *[Before anybody corrects me. Yes I know J Edgar Hoover founded the FBI but the ghost of J Edgar Hoover founded the patent office. Just check Wikipedia.]

  9. @Cam —

    Also if you ‘cirsova’ three times after midnight the ghost of J Edgar Hoover (who founded the patent office*) will come and get you.

    You forgot the mirror. You gotta say it while looking into a mirror. In the dark. With a candle.

  10. Btw, from uspto.gov:

    “Trademark infringement is the unauthorized use of a trademark or service mark on or in connection with goods and/or services in a manner that is likely to cause confusion, deception, or mistake about the source of the goods and/or services.”

    Since there doesn’t appear to be either any goods or services involved in Nate’s use of that domain name, I suspect he doesn’t have much of anything to worry about on the legal front. But IANAL.

  11. 4) Bridge Player

    I would make a Zelazny Amber joke about a certain set of cards, but an American President has ruined THAT word, alas.

    And thank you, Cam

  12. 7) Maniac is criminally underrated and Ragnarok is rated way higher than I thought it would be. Which is not to say Ragnarok isn’t excellent, I just thought it wouldn’t appeal to that many folks. Maniac not being more popular might be a blessing in disguise as they won’t be tempted to make a second season of something that’s well and done (I’m looking at you The OA).

    Seems like a fairly constrained definition of science fiction they’re using that doesn’t encompass Russian Doll, The Umbrella Academy, MST3k or any of the Marvel-Netflix shows.

    As for Lost In Space… well, Bright ranked #2 in their movies list. Take that as you will.

  13. Judge Magney: If someone tried to register Cirsova with the USPTO — which even the publisher hasn’t attempted to do, presumably because there’s a small fee involved — and the USPTO decided not to approve the application, they would simply reject it. And the applicant could exercise his rights to contest that decision, or not. That would be the end of it, and the USPTO examining attorney would then move on to the next in the mountain of applications assigned to him. Because he or she will know it’s their job to resolve the case, not drum up work for the Department of Justice. Something you apparently don’t understand.

    You also haven’t taken into account that you’re posting comments on a site that alt-right assholes have tried to shut down by denial-of-service attacks, not to mention years of abusive posts from Correia and JDA, while their fans egg them on to start lawsuits (over stories I only learned about by reading the writers’ own blogs, ironically enough). And I’m supposed to give a damn about your troublemaking hypothetical? Did you read Richard Fox’s fraudulent DCMA takedown request (falsely claiming that 770 was hosting a story pirated from him) which actually does violate federal law — when do you think that prosecution will start?

  14. Speaking of Zelazny: More eBooks! This time, it’s Creatures of Light and Darkness, My Name is Legion, and Manna from Heaven (the short story collection, and with apparently a few additional stories added).

  15. (15) I’ve now seen the unscrambled offensive-words list at http://www.seattlescrabble.org/expurg.php, and there are some odd choices among the Yiddish-origin vocabulary. For example, the list includes “goyim” and variants, which just means anyone who isn’t Jewish; it’s hard to hurl an insult at someone by saying they’re one of 98% of the world’s population. I suspect it’s been included just as a (supposed) balance to variants of “jew” being on the list.

    For some reason, “schlong”/”shlong” is banned but “schmuck” and “schvantz” are apparently still OK. And four different spellings of “shiksa” are banned, as is one spelling of the equivalent male term “shegetz”, whereas the much more common spelling “shaygets” is not.

    Quite separately, “comsymp” is on the list. Communist sympathizer, I believe, is the meaning – but even when such terms were being tossed around 70 years ago, could they really be interpreted as offensive rather than merely pejorative?

  16. gottacook: For example, the list includes “goyim” and variants, which just means anyone who isn’t Jewish

    I grew up and went to school with a lot of Jewish boys, and they didn’t think it was an innocuous term, despite its meaning precisely what you say. Any term designating ethnic outsiders tends to carry more weight than a literal meaning. And yet it doesn’t seem a heavy enough term to need to be ruled out of Scrabble, does it.

  17. Contrarius on July 9, 2020 at 11:13 pm said:

    @Cam —

    Also if you ‘cirsova’ three times after midnight the ghost of J Edgar Hoover (who founded the patent office*) will come and get you.

    You forgot the mirror. You gotta say it while looking into a mirror. In the dark. With a candle

    Contrarius! As a responsible commenter, I had left that detail out ON PURPOSE in case some unwitting fool of file-reader should think it mere superstition and, in attempt to impress their friends, perform the ritual only to find the dread hand of the ghostly Hoover drag them to their doom.

    Now look at what you have done!

  18. AFAIK, domain names can’t be copyrighted. But they can be bought and sold, as a lot of people who thought they had “rights” to names have learned.

  19. P J Evans says AFAIK, domain names can’t be copyrighted. But they can be bought and sold, as a lot of people who thought they had “rights” to names have learned.

    It’s not simple. Cadbury for example holds first rights on any website that is reasonably assumed to have a connection to the company and the product it makes, so you can’t register a domain that says says cadburychocolates.co.uk as Cadbury has first rights to it. Likewise the name of an author can’t be claimed by someone who doesn’t have that name.

  20. Just saw something for the next Pixel Scroll:
    In a recent interview, Colin Jost of SNL said:

    Kate McKinnon loves books, and before she was on SNL, she was a ghostwriter for a number of YA fantasy series.

    Anybody know what she wrote?

  21. (15) A strange list. “Peed” is banned, “pee” is not. “Pepsi” is banned. “Redneck” is banned, “Hillbilly” is not. “Jew” is banned, “Muslim” is not. “Bubba” is banned, “sissy” is not.

  22. @Cam —

    Now look at what you have done!

    Hey — If yer gonna unleash an eldritch horror, do it RIGHT, I say.

  23. @Gottacook: I’m reminded of the scene in Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four wherein Winston Smith’s neighbour brags about the number of words removed from the next edition of the State’s official dictionary.

  24. bill: I would guess that, because Scrabble already doesn’t allow words that would normally have an initial cap in English, the ban on “jew” refers to its use as a verb, usually in conjunction with “down”. There’s no similar usage of muslim that I’m aware of. The others you mention mystify me too; is “pepsi” a scatological or malicious word among some people? And why is “gyp” not on the list?

  25. Thanks for the input. Between proper nouns and initial caps, I can see that “Muslim” isn’t privileged over “Jew”, and why “Pepsi” is banned (presumably, Coca-cola and Nehi are also banned). That “Pepsi” is an ethnic slur is news to me; one should stay current in such things.

    But the list is still odd. I can’t see any reason why “arses”, in any of its senses, carries less of a taboo quality than the equivalent sense of “arse”. From the note attached to brackets [], it would seem that offensive words that have non-offensive senses may be allowed; presumably this is why “kraut” is not on the list. But why does the same logic not apply to “bubba” — a (usually Southern) expression for “younger brother” (as “sissy” is an expression for “sister” — see the 1960s show “Family Affair”)? And “butcher” is allowed, I suppose for the meat cutter and newspaper vendor, despite the banning of “butches”, even though saying that when a barber gives a guy a butch (short) haircut, he “butches” the hair (and such usage long precedes the offensive sense).

    I’m all for two players agreeing that they will exclude certain words from competition within their games. But there’s no way that a group can create a corporate list without either: leaving some offensive terms off the list, or including some that are not offensive.

  26. @bill —

    I’m all for two players agreeing that they will exclude certain words from competition within their games. But there’s no way that a group can create a corporate list without either: leaving some offensive terms off the list, or including some that are not offensive.

    You’re letting the perfect be the enemy of the good again. There is no way to have a perfect list, just as there is very little way to have a perfect anything in this world. But that doesn’t mean we stop trying to have good lists or good anything elses.

  27. (3) OH CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN. Happy Birthday, Sir Patrick Stewart! What a lovely article of remembrances for his birthday. Clearly he’s an amazing, warm, genuine, supremely talented person. It was great to read David Tennant’s comments there, as he seems to be cut from the same cloth (based on the video from his NTA Special Recognition award).

    (7) THE PEOPLE SPEAK. Oh, some new ones to me, thanks. Some were already on “My List”; some are to weird or too dark for me; a few, I added to “My List” after watching the trailer; some just didn’t grab me. I forget now which ones I added after going through the list, though.

    (10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS. Happy Birthday, Todd Lockwood! I love his artwork! 😀

    And Rachel Hartman, wow, Happy Birthday! I read her self-published comics back in the day. 🙂 “Amy Unbounded” was wonderful and set in Goredd, sort of pre-Seraphina. I was surprised and thrilled for her when her first novel was published; it was great to see her hit the big time like that.

  28. @Contrarius
    My point is that for a significant fraction of players, any list derived by someone else may not even rise to “good”. For example, I personally don’t find scatalogical terms offensive, particularly when they are being used in a nominative sense as in Scrabble; as such, this list arbitrarily removes useful, playable terms.

  29. I’d prefer not to host a litany of racial terms we all agree are offensive.

  30. @bill —

    My point is that for a significant fraction of players, any list derived by someone else may not even rise to “good”.

    And that supposed “significant fraction” is just going to have to deal with their disappointment. The Scrabble folks are doing the best they can; there is no way for them to make everyone happy with any decision they make.

  31. @bill

    I too had no idea about pepsi being used as an insult.

    If I was in the US I would find the entire list pretty problematic. Not because of the slurs, but because of the other lists. Do people really object to arse? Or pissant? Or turd? Or shitty? Or ballsy? And so on.

  32. @Andy Leighton: Since the list is for official Scrabble tournaments, they presumably want to keep things as “clean” and family-friendly as they can. This doesn’t mean someone actually object(ed) to every word.

    I’m mildly interested in the list in an academic way, but otherwise it seems meh and not “problematic” to me — just imperfect.

  33. This is a list of words that are in the official (Hasbro) Scrabble Players Dictionary that they’re now disallowing for tournament play. That’s not a dictionary you’d be likely to use for other purposes, because it also omits proper nouns (like Jupiter), phrases, and anything with an apostrophe. Ask it about “won’t” and it tells you that “wont” is playable (as an unrelated verb), but not that it means “will not.”

    For ordinary use, you may or may not want a dictionary that includes slurs or sexual slang; but you’re unlikely to want one that omits “you’re.”

    (There’s a Scrabble word finder on the Merriam-Webster site: https://scrabble.merriam.com/apps)

  34. @OGH

    I’d prefer not to host a litany of racial terms we all agree are offensive.

    Absolutely, and my apologies. Let me try again:
    The list seems fairly comprehensive with respect to many of the major slurs against people from European countries, but omits many of the major slurs against people from Eastern Asia. Thus, by privileging on group over another, it manifests bias instead of reducing it.

    And that is the only possible result. Any banned list is subjective, and by enforcing it, the board is saying “our subjective prejudices are dominant over yours”; i.e., we are better than you or them (which is what all bias boils down to).

    I don’t disagree at all with Contrarius’s statement that “there is no way for them to make everyone happy with any decision they make”; I’m simply maintaining that a top-down approach — an official banned words list — is not better than a bottom-up one — where individual players decide on their own.

  35. @Bill — And if you play Scrabble at home with friends or family, you can still decide that in whichever direction you like. This doesn’t have to affect you any more than the professional sports rules about doping apply to a pickup ballgame, or have to apply to a more organized amateur/recreational adult baseball league.

    House rules are also a thing. Andy and I have established a house rule that the first play must be at least five letters long; otherwise, pass, draw some new letters, and continue until someone has a good enough hand. That’s not because there’s something “wrong” with a word like “car” or “axis,” it’s because we enjoy the game more with a less-cramped board.

  36. @Vicki
    Our house rules were that you grabbed the biggest dictionary in the house, and if it wasn’t marked as a proper noun, an abbreviation, or a foreign term, it was legal. (Granny had the Scrabble word book memorized, we think. I went out and got her a replacement in 1973, when the one she’d been using was falling apart.)

  37. Oh, I’m a big fan of house rules. How many here play Monopoly where all fines are paid to the middle of the board, and if you land on Free Parking, you get the pile?

  38. Our house rules were “if you can’t use it in a sentence, you can’t use it”. A random work out of the Scrabble dictionary didn’t cut it, if you didn’t know the definition.

  39. I’m reminded of the scene in Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four wherein Winston Smith’s neighbour brags about the number of words removed from the next edition of the State’s official dictionary.

    Orwell’s Law. Like Godwin’s Law, except instead of Hitler it’s Newspeak.

    (Because the North American Scrabble Players Association removing words from the official list of those allowed in tournament play is exactly like when a totalitarian government determines which words their citizens are allowed to speak, think, or know.)

  40. @bill

    That is a common house rule for Monopoly and IMO it kills the game. Many other people don’t play with auctions either. It turns what should be a relatively short game into something painful.

    @Vicki Rosenzweig

    Any major tournament Scrabble player will be involved on the international scene which uses sowpods / Collins Scrabble List which has around 100,000 extra words to the Hasbro OSPD. There are even a few domestic US tournaments that use Collins.

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