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[No comments] September Film Roundup: A few years ago I praised a company I have little positive to say about, Amazon, for keeping alive the tradition of video rental in a video-on-demand world. The medium of film has an enormous midlist and backlist that is culturally important but apparently has has no economic value. The video store used to be the cineaste's low-cost ticket to this endless backlog. Now I'm here to praise another company I have little positive to say about, Fox, for upping the ante by acquiring Tubi.

Tubi has monetized thousands of classic films by giving them the cable TV treatment. Occasional commercials for DoorDash will interrupt your viewing of that 1971 sex comedy, but you can watch a ton of obscure and sometimes good! movies whenever you want, without doing something tacky like resorting to piracy or spending money. I think just about everything we saw this month, we saw on Tubi. Big recommendation if it's available in your area.

Finally, a Television Spotlight from another online streaming service; specifically, Freevee and its Emmy-nominated original series Jury Duty. I started out a reluctant watcher, but was ultimately charmed by the way Ronald, the patsy in this hyper-orchestrated reality show, keeps showing compassion and decency even as he's confronted by one weird reality show twist after another. If not for that anchoring, I would definitely have dropped out. I also appreciated how the last episode is basically a behind-the-scenes documentary.

August Film Roundup:

Finally, it's a Television Spotlight on Guns & Gulaabs (2023), a crime comedy that recreates the nostalgic (for Sumana) atmosphere of India of the 90s. Which is not that different from rural California in the 80s, so I got a bit of the bittersweet air as well. Gulshan Devaiah is so sinister as the bemulleted jean-jacket assassin in this, that it was a pleasant surprise when we saw him later in the month, pursuing Rajkummar Rao once again as the goofy gay lawyer in Badhaii Do.

The series was a lot of fun and led up to a cool heist, but I don't know about calling it a comedy. Breaking Bad (clearly a big influence) has a lot of similar humor to it, but nobody tags that show as "comedy." A lot of what I think was meant to read as comedy here was actually people making stupid choices, which I don't find all that funny. You can try and make it funny to lampshade a weak plot point, but that's not what was happening here.

How to (Finally) Follow Instructions: Way back in 2012 I gave a talk about hypermedia and code-on-demand called "How To Follow Instructions". I've always thought of it as my "lost" talk, one that could have been as influential as "Justice Will Take Us Millions of Intricate Moves". I've also convinced myself that this didn't happen because I never put the text of the talk online. Unlike most of my talks, I didn't write the script ahead of time, and transcribing it was a huge/expensive job.

But ten years later, Whisper makes it cheap and easy to do basic audio transcription with a laptop. I've used Whisper to transcribe my talk and edited it into what it should have been. Some of the talk has aged poorly: the same underlying technology that transcribes the audio also makes it possible for a computer to follow some of the human-readable "instructions" I mention in the talk. But I think it was pretty prescient at describing what was happening in the world of APIs and where we've gone over the intervening decade.

Sock breakthrough!: For about four years now I've been low-key searching for a replacement for my beloved Muji recycled-yarn socks, and I'm happy to report a breakthrough, thanks to another Japanese retail brand, Uniqlo. Here's the extremely detailed report:

The closest match I've found to the old Muji recycled-yarn socks are now Uniqlo's "melange socks"; a mix of cotton (80%), nylon (16%), polyester (3%) and spandex (1%). They don't feel as heavy as the previous champion (Muji right angle pile short socks), and I wore them through a recent heat wave with no problem. They even look like the old Muji socks, with a gradient of yarn colors, which makes me think they're manufactured with the same process.

Uniqlo melange socks are available as short socks and the misleadingly longer half socks. They are a little larger than the old Muji versions, which is okay with me as I always thought the Muji "short socks" were a little too small for my feet. Apart from that, the only real difference is the cotton-dominant fabric mix, where the recycled-yarn socks were mostly polyester.

Thanks to Sumana for dragging me into a nearby Uniqlo; otherwise I would not have found these.

July Film Roundup: Sumana was out for most of the month, so it was back to my usual tricks of watching obscure crime films from the 1960s and 1970s.

I'll leave you with an animation I made from What's So Bad About Feeling Good?. I like to think this shot is an homage to one of my favorite film shots of all time: Brigitte Helm as the robot winking at the camera in Metropolis.

Mary Tyler Moore riding up an escalator, giving an evil wink to someone riding down the adjacent escalator.

See you next time...

June Film Roundup:

And now, a Television Spotlight brought to you by the letter M:

June Film Roundup:

Speaking of which, let's do a Television Spotlight on Ted Lasso, which just concluded. Overall, really solid and funny. It got a little self-indulgent in the third season, but its self-indulgence mostly took the form of long character studies of characters we liked (Rebecca), or at least had grown not to dislike (Jamie).

However there is one big exception: Nate's third season story arc. We spent quite a lot of time with Nate after his heel turn at the end of season two, and if season three was Nate's season, it would have been justified. But all those leisurely studies of other characters created a major pacing problem with Nate's arc, making it drag on until he made an undramatized face turn near the very end of the show. This violates my storytelling motto: show, or tell, but do one or the other, for gosh sakes! We weren't shown this dramatic moment in Nate's life, nor we were told anything about the mental processes that led to a very consequential decision. For a show that enthusiastically wears its emotions on its sleeve, this pulling back felt very strange.

PS: Trent Crimm 4evah. Breakout character of the show. Fun IMDB fact: Crimm actor James Lance also played Richard, Daisy's boyfriend in Spaced, way back when.

And finally, a rarely seen Live Theater Showcase, starring Khan!!! The Musical!. I saw this play twice during May, and really enjoyed the mix of Trek fanservice and deep musical theater cuts which I only get thanks to reading the Playbill recaps of Schmigadoon! that explain all the references. The show is closing this weekend, but we're talking The Wrath of Khan here, so we're likely to see one remake after another over the next few decades as everyone in off-Broadway tries to recapture the original magic.

Probably my favorite gag is the way the actor playing Spock maintains Vulcan posture and body language even while tap-dancing. And the first song is a great Starfleet recruitment pitch. ("Our socialistic, low-key atheistic, both futuristic and anachronistic Starfleeeeet!") It's that kind of show.

April Film Roundup: Sumana was out of town for Pycon, so I saw a few films from my "Sumana probably won't like this" queue of movies from the 60s and 70s.

Now, it's time for a Spring Television Spotlight, highlighting interesting episodic serials we've enjoyed over these cold winter months:

March Film Roundup:

February Film Roundup:

January Film Roundup:

After writing that I decided to look up what Roger Ebert thought of Rancho Deluxe: He hated it, and I can't find much to disagree with, but I still had a good time.

The Crummy.com Review of Things 2022: Here we go, another year gone and I'm no wiser than before. But I do have some quality recommendations for you!


2022 was a year where I read a few really long books rather than a lot of shorter ones. Here are my top three of 2022:

Live Events

The big live event for me in 2022 was seeing Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster in the Music Man revival. It's my favorite musical, as I've surely mentioned here before, and seeing a live professional production live of it a real bucket-list event. We're not going to end up like that sap in The Apartment!

I also did more museum outings and whatnot than I did in 2021, and even took a trip to California to see my family, for the first time since the start of the pandemic.

The Music Man Playbill Ancient D20s seen in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.


As usual, Film Roundup Roundup is up to date with 21 new recommended motion pictures among the ones I saw in 2022. My top ten for the year:

  1. Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022)
  2. Local Hero (1983)
  3. L.A. Story (1991)
  4. Glass Onion (2022)
  5. Roxanne (1987)
  6. The Lost City (2022)
  7. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988)
  8. The Afterlight (2021)
  9. Stalag 17 (1953)
  10. WarGames (1983)


The Crummy.com Game Of the Year is I Was A Teenage Exocolonist. Other games I enjoyed in 2022 include ZERO Sievert, The Barnacle Goose Experiment, and Vampire Survivors. Of our daily games, the ones I most look forward to playing every day are Framed and Artle.

My accomplishments

Ugh, don't ask me about The Constellation Speedrun right now. It will be done eventually. I am working on it today, and this blog post is but a procrastination measure. 2022 saw publication of four of my short stories (see previous post) and I finished three more: "Or Current Resident", "A Place for Monsters", and "Expert Witness". I also wrote two Yuletide fics. Not what I'd hoped, but not too bad.

The Procedure Sign: My bad-dystopia-SF parody "The Procedure Sign" is out in Issue #16 of Etherea Magazine, a steal at USD $2.

Tommy stared at a blank concrete wall painted hospital green. He heard the hot-air hum of a projector starting up behind him. He squished his eyes closed, but the headband gave him an electric shock that jolted them open.

I did not expect to ever sell this story, because its satire skates so close to the edge of being simply bad. "The Procedure Sign" was directly inspired by an item in the ancient Strange Horizons "Stories We've Seen Too Often" list:

A mysteriously-named Event is about to happen ("Today was the day Jimmy would have to report for The Procedure"), but the nature of the Event isn't revealed until the end of the story, when it turns out to involve death or other unpleasantness. [Several classic sf stories use this approach, which is one reason we're tired of seeing it. Another reason is that we can usually guess the twist well ahead of time, which makes the mysteriousness annoying.]

More seriously, the story was also inspired by the experience of my own mysterious Event: being baptized into the LDS church when I was eight. Assuming the story has any real emotional edge, that's where it comes from.

Our Morning Games: In the year or so since Wordle became very popular, bringing along with it the more general online game model of "everyone gets the same quick game every day". Since then, Sumana and I have curated a set of games that we play together most mornings over breakfast. Many games have gone in and out of our list, and I figured the start of a new year was a good time to make some recommendations. I hope you find some fun with any or all of these:

There are also two slower-paced games that we don't necessarily play every day:

December Film Roundup:

Yuletide Reveal!: Now it can be told! I wrote two stories for Yuletide 2022. The one for which I anticipate more interest is The Practical Boyfriend: A Post-Scarcity Rom-Com. This is a brand new Constellation Games bonus story, the first one in ten years, depicting the meet-cute between Tetsuo Milk and Ashley Somn at the beginning of the contact mission. Guest starring Curic and You'll Only See Kis Echo!, a character you've forgotten about. It's got laughs, romance, and Tetsuo designs a game!

As a fan of high-quality 2012 releases, I'm sure you also enjoy Subset Games' FTL, a death-in-space simulator that inspired certain bits of Situation Normal. Now I'm closing the circle with an fanfic called Try, Try Again, where I used the gallows-humor style of Situation Normal to tell a story in the FTL universe.

Wherever you find yourself today, I wish you a happy new year, and happy reading and writing!

For Your Consideration: If you're looking to catch up on stories published in 2022 so you can fill out your Nebula or Hugo nominating ballots, you've come to the right blog post. Here's are the stories I had published this year, conveniently sorted in descending order of "plausibly might win an award":

There's a chance a fifth story will be published this year, and I'll mention it in an update here, but it's going at the very bottom of this list, since I wrote it as a parody of bad SF. Makes me laugh every time, though.

[Comments] (1) When There is Sugar: Diabolical Plots has my latest story, "When There is Sugar". A touching fantasy story about baking and teaching with a decommissioned military robot.

The oven hissed as it turned rain to steam, moving less than a living thing would, but more than an oven ought to move.

“I suppose you should come in,” said Berl. It was a royal gift, and well-meaning, if a little patronizing.

This is my pandemic baking story, written in the depths of despair, a time now known only as October 2020. It came from Sumana's request to write a sweet story about a robot oven, as opposed to the grimdark-lite atmosphere of Situation Normal, which was about to be published. I think I did a good job, but Sumana still holds out hope for a gentler, more Bob Ross type of robot-oven story.

My RSS!: Since listening to KUSC in college I've been a fan of the old BBC radio program(me) My Word!, an ur-quiz show with a focus on chin-stroking erudition, shameless bluffing when erudition fails, and cornball shaggy dog stories. About ten years ago my fandom took a big hit when the BBC stopped pouring decades-old My Word! reruns down whatever transcontinental pipe eventually got it broadcast on American radio stations' streaming websites. But recently I discovered a large cache of episodes uploaded to the Internet Archive in 2020, including a bunch of episodes I'd never heard. Jackpot!

I really wanted to get this cache turned into an RSS feed so I can listen to episodes alongside my podcasts. Kevan's Fourble service can do this pretty easily, and in fact it already has, but what I'd really really like is an RSS feed that incorporates the information about broadcast dates and shaggy dog stories found in this particular item's carefully written description. That will dramatically improve the usability of the "podcast" and allow me to listen to the episodes in rough chronological order, rather than alphabetically according to the first vocabulary word lobbed at the panelists.

This is, in fact, a job for The Syndication Automat, a project I created in 2004, the semi-early days of RSS. Back then it was sometimes necessary to employ vigilante justice to make RSS feeds for websites that didn't have them. This was actually the original use case for Beautiful Soup!

Of course, hard times soon struck the Automat as every website got its own RSS feed, RSS feeds themselves were ditched in favor of Twitter and Facebook, and then Twitter and Facebook melted down, leaving us with nothing. (I'm extrapolating a little here.) 2009 was the last time any of the Automat's old feeds were updated. But podcasts still stand, the cockroaches of syndication, so it makes perfect sense to bring back the Automat one more time to host The Doubly-Unofficial, Partially Chronological "My Word!" Podcast Feed. Painstakingly hand-crafted by a script I painstakingly hand-crafted to deal with tons of edge cases like "two shows that use the same vocabulary word" and "shows where the filename doesn't precisely match the vocabulary word" and "shows where the general era of the show is known but not the exact broadcast date". I took care of all that stuff; all you have to do is listen.

If you just want to make a podcast out of the MP3 files in an Internet Archive item, and not do any other processing, you can use my very tidy, edge-case-free Python script, which depends on the modules internetarchive, feedgen, and pytz

from datetime import datetime
from feedgen.feed import FeedGenerator
from internetarchive import get_item
import pytz
import sys
import time

def utc(dt):
    return dt.replace(tzinfo=pytz.utc)

class IACollectionFeed(object):
    def __init__(self, ia_item, destination_url):
        self.item = self.fetch_item(ia_item)
        self.feed = FeedGenerator()
        for file in self.item.get_files():
            if file.format != 'VBR MP3':

    def fetch_item(self, ia_item):
        return get_item(ia_item)
    def add_entry(self, file):
        entry = self.feed.add_entry(order='append')
        mtime = utc(datetime.fromtimestamp(int(file.metadata['mtime'])))
        entry.enclosure(file.url, str(file.size), "audio/mpeg")
        return entry
    def __str__(self):
        return self.feed.rss_str(pretty=True).decode("utf8")

if __name__ == '__main__':
    print(IACollectionFeed(sys.argv[1], sys.argv[2]))

To generate a fast and cheap version of my DUPCMW!PF, I'd invoke the script with this command line:

$ python roughdraft.py bbcmyword https://www.crummy.com/automat/feeds/myword.xml

While producing this post I discovered that not only is there another, smaller, differently organized collection on the Internet Archive, but there's a significantly larger (but less well described) archive on RadioEchoes, which also has an even bigger archive of My Word!'s inevitable but lesser companion, My Music!.

November Film Roundup: One of the biggest months for Film Roundup yet! I'm including a movie from early December, but that only makes it slightly larger!

████: Like today's algorithmic creativity tools, many NaNoGenMo projects take as their grist the results of other peoples' creativity and hard work: years, even centuries of work. My own In Dialogue and Amazon Prime are manipulations of public domain texts, and for Alphabetical Order and Brutus and Cassius, at the close of the scene I took the entire English literary canon as my input. Linked By Love mined thousands of books for their back cover copy—by far the most difficult part of the book to write. For 2022, I've created a NaNoGenMo work that reuses no one's text but my own.

████ is a blackout piece made from the text of my unpublished novel, Mine. I've redacted every word that shows up in one of my two published novels, Constellation Games and Situation Normal. You'll see lots of names, places, technical terms, odd digressions on Cleopatra and zucchini, punctuation, and (I assume) typoes. That's it.

This is an appropriate source text since Mine is a story about people preserved as the things around them are erased, and then juxtaposed without context. But really, I could tell you it was about anything and you'd have to believe me... for now.

Stress Response: As promised, the November/December issue of Analog includes "Stress Response", a Ravy Uvana story in which Judicant Uvana helps a young human who went into space believing it would be a big, fun adventure... and who still believes that at the end of the story! Have fun!

The big change I made after my writing group critiqued "Stress Response" was explicitly explaining why the stress response happened; no one got it and without that crucial piece of information the story feels like watching someone else's vacation slides. Many, many times my writing group has told me "Leonard, you need to explicitly explain the thing instead of expecting us to figure it out."

Two more stories of mine are coming up in Analog: "Meat", the first Ravy Uvana story I ever wrote; and "Race to the Bottom", a flash piece that explains why everything is so terrible. Both coming out next year, I guess? I've deposited the checks!

October Film Roundup:

[Comments] (1) September Film Roundup: It's an rom-com Roundup this month, with lovers being reunited and old public domain British source material galore!

A quick Television Spotlight: we watched Only Murders in the Building, which I think gets much better in season 2 as they stop trying so hard to ape the form they're parodying (which resulted in lots of boring subplots) and lean in to wacky, nonsensical comedy (which resulted in me enjoying a Martin Short performance for the first time ever). I will say that season 1 was more effective at the Hitchcockian finger-wagging where they try to shame you for enjoying the thing they're showing you, but no one actually enjoys that—you're being shamed!

We also watched all of The Goes Wrong Show in the space of a coupel days, and see Sumana's review for that. Just really, really funny. I appreciate that the fictional actors all have consistent characters that lead to different styles of comedy as things Go Wrong.

August Film Roundup: By chance I ended up watching all of August's films without Sumana, so this is a bunch of films from my huge cinematic pile of "Sumana probably won't like these." And I think I was right!

This document is part of Crummy, the webspace of Leonard Richardson (contact information). It was last modified on Tuesday, December 08 2020, 19:23:12 Nowhere Standard Time and last built on Tuesday, October 03 2023, 13:50:02 Nowhere Standard Time.

Crummy is © 1996-2023 Leonard Richardson. Unless otherwise noted, all text licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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